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William Shepard

Ahab, King of Israel

Ahab, the son of Omri, was a very wicked king, worse even than those who had governed the ten tribes of Israel before him. He worshipped the calves which Jeroboam had made, and imitated all the wicked practices of the heathen. He was encouraged in this course by his wife, who was named Jezebel, and was the daughter of the king of Tyre. This woman was active and bold, and she not only taught her husband to worship her gods, but she built a great temple to the principal god among them, whose name was Baal, and appointed priests and false prophets to offer up sacrifices to him and to deliver oracles.

There was a prophet of God named Elijah, who came to Ahab and told him,—

"God will not send any more rain into this country until I return to you."

Then Elijah departed from the king and went out into the desert, and took up his abode by a stream of water. Every day his food was brought to him by ravens. There was a great drought in all the land, so that all the moisture was dried up, and the stream of water ceased to flow. Then God told Elijah to go to a city called Zarephath, where he should find a woman who was a widow, who would give him food and lodging.

At a short distance from the city he met a poor woman gathering up sticks. This was the person God had pointed out to him. Elijah spoke to her, and desired her to bring him some water to drink. As she was going to fetch it he called her back, and asked her to bring him a loaf of bread also. But the woman said that she had at home nothing more than a handful of flour and a little oil, and that she was now gathering a few sticks to make a fire, that she might bake the flour for herself and for her son, after which, she said, they must both perish of famine, as they had nothing for themselves any longer.

Elijah said to her, "Be of good courage, and do not despair. First of all, make me a little cake, for I promise you that your vessel shall never be empty of flour, nor your cruse of oil, until God sends rain from heaven."

The woman obeyed, and neither she, nor her son, nor the prophet was in want during the whole of the famine, for God made the flour and the oil to last all that time.

One day the widow's son sickened and died. Then she came to the prophet, weeping and beating her breast, and complained that he had been sent because God wished to punish her for her sins, and therefore it was her son had died. But he bade her take comfort and give him her son's body, for he would bring him to life again. He carried the body into his own room, and laid it on the bed, and cried to God, and said,—

"O Lord, hast thou brought evil upon the woman who hath sheltered me? I beseech thee, O Lord, let the child's soul come into him again."

And God heard Elijah's prayer, and sent the soul of the child into him again.