Useful Bible Studies > 1 Kings Commentary > chapter 17

God sends Elijah to Zarephath

1 Kings 17:7-9

For about 6 months each year, Israel receives almost no rain. Therefore, even when the weather is normal, some streams become dry in the Summer months. They flow again in Winter, when the rain is usually plentiful.

However, at the time of Elijah, no rain fell for a period of more than 3 years. The harvests failed, and soon the people became desperate to obtain even their necessary food and water.

During that time, God provided for Elijah in an astonishing manner. God sent him to the Kerith stream, where the wild birds called ravens brought food to him. The extraordinary way by which God provided Elijah’s food did not fail. However, the ordinary way by which Elijah obtained his water – from the stream – did fail. So God directed Elijah to go to Zarephath, where God would provide his food in, perhaps, an even more extraordinary way.

Zarephath was a town between the great cities called Tyre and Sidon. It was not in Israel, and its people did not belong to Israel. Its ruler was Ethbaal, the king of Sidon, whose daughter, Jezebel, had married King Ahab of Israel (16:31). It was from Sidon that Ahab and Jezebel introduced the false gods Baal and Asherah into Israel.

Some people in the region of Tyre and Sidon, however, were loyal to the true God. They probably belonged to the families of those workmen who assisted Solomon in the construction of the temple, God’s house in Jerusalem (see 1 Kings chapter 5).

Next part: The widow in Zarephath has no food for Elijah (1 Kings 17:10-12)


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