The prophet, a native of Tishbeh in Gilead, 1 Kings 17:1. His parentage and early history are unknown. His bold faithfulness provoked the wrath of Ahab and Jezebel, especially when he threatened several years of drought and famine as a punishment for the sins of Israel, B. C. 908. By the divine direction the prophet took refuge on the bank of the brook Cherith, where he was miraculously fed by ravens. Thence he resorted to Zarephath, in Phoenicia; where one miracle provided him with sustenance and another restored to life the child of his hostess. Returning to King Ahab, he procured the great assembling at mount Carmel, where God "answered by fire," and the prophets of Baal were destroyed. Now too the long and terrible drought was broken, and a plentiful rain descended at the prophet’s prayer. Finding that not even these mighty works of God would bring the nation and its rulers to repentance, Elijah was almost in despair. He fled into the wilderness, and was brought to Horeb, the mount of God, where he was comforted by a vision of God’s power and grace. Again he is sent on a long journey to Damascus to anoint Hazael as king of Syria. Jehu also he anoints to be king of Israel, and Elisha he summons to become a prophet. Six years later he denounces Ahab and Jezebel for their crimes in the matter of Naboth; and afterwards again is seen foretelling the death of king Ahaziah, and calling fire from heaven upon two bands of guards sent to arrest him. Being now forewarned of the approach of his removal from earth, he gives his last instructions to the school of the prophets, crosses the Jordan miraculously, and is borne to heaven in a fiery chariot without tasting death, leaving his mantle and office to Elisha, 1 Kings 17:1-19:21 21:29 2 Kings 1:1-2:18.
His translation occurred about B. C. 896. Previously, it is supposed, he had written the letter which, eight years afterwards, announced to king Jehoram his approaching sickness and death, 2 Chronicles 21:12-19.
Elijah was one of the most eminent and honored of the Hebrew prophets. He was bold, faithful, stern, self-denying, and zealous for the honor of God. His whole character and life are marked by peculiar moral grandeur. He bursts upon our view without previous notice; he disappears by a miracle. He bears the appearance of a supernatural messenger of heaven, who has but one work to do, and whose mind is engrossed in its performance. His history is one of the most extraordinary on record, and is fraught with instruction. It was a high honor granted to Moses and Elijah, that they alone should appear on the mount of Transfiguration, many centuries after they had gone into heaven-to bear witness of its existence, and commune with the Savior concerning his death, Luke 9:28-35.
John the Baptist was foretold under the name of Elias, or Elijah, from his resemblance in character and life to the ancient prophet of Israel, Malachi 4:5,6 Matthew 17:10-13.