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"A Still Small Voice"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: During the reign of Solomon (977–937 B.C.) the Israelites became an actual nation; the times were marked by success in international politics, great organization of the country's natural and human resources, and a court famous for its splendor. After Solomon's death, however, the nation was divided into two kingdoms: Israel, in the north, and Judah, in the south. The former drew away because its people had been exploited by Solomon. The people of Judah rebelled against his successors because of the system of indentured labor, and the revolt was put down. Judah subsequently became a pawn of Syria. Israel passed through several dynasties and achieved considerable material progress. Its seventh king, Ahab, married the Tyrian princess Jezebel, thus contracting an alliance with Tyre. Another marriage within the dynasty cemented relations with Judah; and a defensive alliance with Syria, against the Assyrians, was established. These alliances weakened the religious life of the nation; Jezebel was a worshiper of Melkart and Astarte, and other cults were encouraged by royal favor. At this time Elijah appears on the scene to remind Israel that Jehovah is the only true God. He prophesies a severe drought, retires to the wilderness, and is fed by ravens. After the drought has continued for a time he returns and tells Ahab he will send rain again, then causes the prophets of Baal to assemble. They build an altar to Baal, and Elijah builds one for Jehovah; then each calls on his own god to burn the sacrifice. Baal does not respond, but a lightning bolt strikes the altar of Jehovah and ignites the fire. At Elijah's suggestion, Ahab orders that the priests of...

(The entire section is 599 words.)