Updated: Nov 4, 2020
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INTRODUCTION. After the death of Solomon, the great Hebrew kingdom divided.
Through the years the southern kingdom of Judah was ruled by the descendants of
David in fulfillment of God's promise to David (II Sam. 7). Some of the kings of Judah were righteous and some were wicked.
In contrast the northern kingdom of Israel immediately became idolatrous. God
promised Jeroboam to establish his kingdom and give Israel to him if he kept the
commandments and statutes. Jeroboam, however, soon corrupted the worship of
God with his golden calves and other sinful policies. As a consequence God brought judgment against Jeroboam, cutting off his family, and thus several dynasties (families) ruled in Israel. Unfortunately all the kings of Israel were idolatrous, following the improper system of worship begun by Jeroboam, and later practicing Baal worship.
The sixth king of Israel was Omri who built the city of Samaria for his capital city.
Located about forty-two miles north of Jerusalem, the city was on a hill and could
thus be easily defended. Samaria remained the capital city of Israel until the northern tribes were carried away into captivity.
Omri's son Ahab ruled after him. Ahab's wife was Jezebel, daughter of the king of
Sidon. Jezebel was a worshipper of Baal, and Ahab introduced Baal worship into
Israel. Ahab "did evil in the sight of the Lord" and "did more to provoke the Lord God
of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him" (I Kings 16:30, 33).
Suddenly, the prophet Elijah, an inhabitant of Gilead, the territory east of the Jordan
River, appears in the narrative making a dramatic appearance before King Ahab.
After predicting to Ahab a devastating drought and famine, Elijah fled to a brook east
of the Jordan River. During the ensuing drought, the Lord fed Elijah by ravens which
brought him food in the mornings and evenings. When the brook dried up, the Lord
directed Elijah to go to Zarephath in the territory of Sidon. There he was sustained by a widow whose oil and meal miraculously increased during the drought. When the widow's son died, Elijah restored him to life.