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every one returned to his house, as the Lord commanded.

45.

JEROBOAM AND THE PROPHET.

BUT Jeroboam did not adhere to the God of Israel, but set up golden calves to be worshippedone at Bethel and the other at Dan and caused the people to go no more up to Jerusalem to the feasts. Then God sent a man out of Judah, who came to Bethel, and cried against the altar which Jeroboam had set up: O altar, altar, thus saith the Lord; Behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men's bones shall be burnt upon thee.” And he gave a sign the same day, saying, - This is the sign which the Lord hath spoken; Behold, the altar shall be rent, and the ashes that are upon it shall be poured out." When Jeroboam heard these words, he stretched forth his hand and said, “ Lay hold on him.” And Jeroboam's hand was dried up, so that he could not pull it in again. The altar also was rent, and the ashes poured out upon the altar. And the king said to the man of God, “ Entreat now the face of the Lord thy God, and pray for me, that my

hand
may

be restored me again." And the man of God besought the Lord, and the king's hand was restored to him again, and became as it was before.

When the man of God had finished his commission, he returned home again directly, as the Lord had commanded him. But an old prophet of

Bethel hastened after him, and by deceitful words persuaded him to go back with him to his house, and to eat bread with him, contrary to the commandment of the Lord. And afterwards, as he went on his way, a lion met him and slew him, and did not devour him, but remained standing by the dead body, with the ass also by his side, until the old prophet came from Bethel, and buried the prophet whom he had deceived.

But, notwithstanding these things, Jeroboam did not turn from his evil ways. From that time there was little prosperity in Israel. One revolution followed another. Scarcely was a new king seated upon

the throne, before another came and dethroned him, and slew him and all his family; and he, again, was succeeded by another still worse. Not only did every one of them follow the sin of Jeroboam by worshipping the golden calves ; but all the idolatries of the heathen, and their abominable sacrifices, were by degrees introduced, and the doors were opened to the entrance of every corruption.

THE PROPHET ELIJAH.

46. King Ahab exceeded in ungodliness all his predecessors; and his wife Jezebel, a Sidonian princess, built a splendid temple in Samaria for the idols of Sidon. She maintained four hundred and fifty priests of Baal, the god of the sun, and four hundred priests of Ashtaroth the goddess of the moon, who was worshipped in dark groves and with impure ceremonies. All who, worshipped the God of Israel were persecuted, and his prophets were slain. There was, however, among the immediate attendants of Ahab, one who feared God in secret, named Obadiah, who gave refuge to a hundred of the Lord's prophets. He hid them in caves, and fed them with bread and water.

Then the prophet Elijah stood forth before the king, and said, "As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these three years, but according to my word.” And famine came upon the land. The prophet hid himself by the brook Cherith, and there the ravens brought him bread and fesh every morning

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and evening, and he drank of the brook. And when the brook was dried up, the Lord said to him, Arise, get thee to Zarephath, and dwell there : behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee." When he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow woman was there gathering sticks.

The prophet asked her for a little water; and as she was going to fetch it, he called to her and said, “Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand.” The poor woman replied, “ As the Lord thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruise : and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.”

“Fear not,” said Elijah to her; “go, and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son.

For thus saith the Lord God of Jsrael, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruise of oil fail, until the day that the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth.”a And Elijah ate with the poor widow, and remained with her above a year. And the meal in the barrel was not consumed, neither did the oil fail in the cruise.

When the heavens had now been closed for three years and a half, the Lord said to Elijah, “Go, show thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth.” Ahab saw him coming, and cried out to him, “ Art thou he that troubleth Israel ?” “I have not troubled Israel," said Elijah ; “but thou, and thy father's house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and thou hast followed Baal.”

By the prophet's desire, the king called a general assembly of the people at Mount Carmel

, at which especially the four hundred and fifty priests of Baal were to appear. “ How long halt ye

between two opinions ?” said the prophet to the people. “If the Lord be God, follow him : but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people answered bim not a word. Then said Elijah unto the

* 1 Kings xvii, 1–14.

until noon,

people, “ I, even I only, remain a prophet of the Lord ; but Baal's prophets are four hundred and fifty men. Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under it: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: and call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord : and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God.” And all the people answered and said, “ It is well spoken.”

The priests of Baal slew their bullock, and laid it upon the altar, and danced after their manner around the altar, and cried from morning even

“O Baal, hear us!” But there was no voice, nor any that answered. Elijah derided them : “ Cry aloud,” he said ; “for he is a god : either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.” Then they cried aloud with all their might, and they cut themselves with knives till the blood gushed out upon them. But there was no voice, nor any to answer.

When the time of the evening sacrifice, according to the custom of the temple, arrived, Elijah built an altar; around the altar he had a trench dug, and he caused water to be poured upon the wood and upon the burnt sacrifice, until the trench was full of water. Then Elijah prayed, and said, “ Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word.” Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the sacrifice, and the

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