In the days of King Ahab (874-853 BC) of Israel, Elijah the prophet dramatically and suddenly came on the scene with the word of the Lord. He said to Ahab, “As the LORD, the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, surely there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word” (1 Kings 17:1). Earlier the text had said of Ahab that he “married Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went to serve Baal and worshiped him. So he erected an altar for Baal in the house of Baal which he built in Samaria” (1 Kings 16:31-32).
In Canaanite mythology, which had invaded the land of Israel and had become the state religion, Baal, the storm god, was the giver of rain, crops and fertility. Elijah’s bold declaration was that there would be no rain or dew until YHWH, the LORD, the God of Israel said so. “In contrast to those who were not gods, whose idols Ahab ignorantly worshiped, the living Lord, who was truly Israel’s God, would withhold both dew and rain for the next several years” (The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Vol. 4, p. 138).
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