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William Shepard

Ahaziah, King of Israel

Ahaziah, the son of Ahab, was as wicked as his father, and encouraged his people in the worship of false gods. One day he fell down-stairs, and was badly hurt. And he sent messengers to Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron, to inquire if he would get well. But Elijah was sent by God to meet the messengers while they were on their way. He stopped them and asked,—

"Have not the people of Israel a God of their own, that ye have to consult strange gods? Return ye, therefore, and inform your master that he will not recover."

The messengers returned to the king with this message. When the king learned, from the description they gave, that the man who had given the message was Elijah, he was very angry. So he sent a captain with fifty soldiers to seize the prophet and bring him to the palace.

The captain found Elijah sitting on a hill, and he commanded him to come with him to the king's presence.

"If thou dost not come peaceably, O prophet," said the captain, "we will carry thee by force."

Elijah answered, "In order that thou mayest know I am a true prophet, I will pray that fire may fall from heaven and destroy both thy soldiers and thyself."

And the fire came down from heaven and burned the captain and his men.

Then the king sent another captain with fifty men, who came to Elijah and said,—

"Thou prophet, come down quickly, or I will carry thee down by force."

"If I be a prophet," answered Elijah, "let fire come down from heaven and burn thee and thy men."

And the fire came down and destroyed the captain and his men.

Then the king sent out a third captain, with the same number of men. This captain was wise and prudent. When he had come to where Elijah was, he spoke civilly to him, and said, "O prophet, I am sent by the king, and come not of my own accord. Therefore I pray you to have compassion on me and on my soldiers, and to accompany us into the presence of the king."

Elijah was pleased with these civil words, and he came down from the mountain and followed the captain. When he had come to the king, he said,—

"Because thou hast despised the true God, and sent to the god of Ekron to ask about thy illness, thou shalt surely die."

And in truth Ahaziah died a short time afterwards. As he had no sons, he was succeeded by his brother Jehoram, who was a wicked man also. It was in the reign of Jehoram that Elijah disappeared from among men, and Elisha became prophet of Israel in his stead.