Reign of Ahaziah, Continued. 1After Ahab’s death, Moab rebelled against Israel.a
2Ahaziah fell through the lattice of his roof terrace at Samaria and was injured. So he sent out messengers with the instructions: “Go and inquire of Baalzebub,* the god of Ekron, whether I shall recover from this injury.”
3Meanwhile, the messenger of the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite: Go and meet the messengers of Samaria’s king, and tell them: “Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baalzebub, the god of Ekron?” 4For this, the LORD says: You shall not leave the bed upon which you lie; instead, you shall die. And Elijah departed. 5The messengers then returned to Ahaziah, who asked them, “Why have you returned?” 6They answered, “A man met us and said to us, ‘Go back to the king who sent you and tell him: The LORD says: Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are sending to inquire of Baalzebub, the god of Ekron? For this you shall not leave the bed upon which you lie; instead, you shall die.’” 7The king asked them, “What was the man like who met you and said these things to you?” 8They replied, “He wore a hairy garment* with a leather belt around his waist.” “It is Elijah the Tishbite!” he exclaimed.
9Then the king sent a captain with his company of fifty men after Elijah. The prophet was seated on a hilltop when he found him. He said, “Man of God, the king commands you, ‘Come down.’” 10Elijah answered the captain, “Well, if I am a man of God, may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men.” And fire came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty men.b 11The king sent another captain with his company of fifty men after Elijah. He shouted up and said, “Man of God, the king says, ‘Come down immediately!’” 12Elijah answered them, “If I am a man of God, may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men.” And divine fire* came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty men. 13The king sent a third captain with his company of fifty men. When the third captain had climbed the hill, he fell to his knees before Elijah, pleading with him. He said, “Man of God, let my life and the lives of these fifty men, your servants, count for something in your sight! 14Already fire has come down from heaven, consuming the first two captains with their companies of fifty men. But now, let my life count for something in your sight!” 15Then the messenger of the LORD said to Elijah: Go down with him; you need not be afraid of him. So Elijah left and went down with him to the king. 16He declared to the king: “Thus says the LORD: Because you sent messengers to inquire of Baalzebub, the god of Ekron—do you think there is no God in Israel to inquire of?—you shall not leave the bed upon which you lie; instead you shall die.”c
17Ahaziah died according to the word of the LORD spoken by Elijah. Since he had no son, Joram* succeeded him as king, in the second year of Joram, son of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah.
* [1:2] Baalzebub: in this form, “Baal of flies.” The name in the Hebrew text is a derisive alteration of Baalzebul, “Prince Baal.” The best New Testament evidence supports the latter form in Mt 10:25; Lk 11:15.
* [1:12] Divine fire: lit., “fire of God,” which in Hebrew sounds quite like “man of God.” The play on words is the basis for Elijah’s retort. This story was told among the people to enhance the dignity of the prophet and to reflect the power of God whom he served. A similar phrase, “the LORD’s fire,” described the miraculous divine fire that fell from a cloudless sky to consume Elijah’s offering in 1 Kgs 18:38.
* [1:17] Joram: in 2 Kings the name “Joram” (yoram) and its variant “Jehoram” (yehoram) are used interchangeably. To avoid the impression that they are different names and designate different people, both forms are rendered “Joram” in this translation. Confusion arises, however, because the king of Israel whose reign is recounted beginning in 3:1 and the contemporary king of Judah whose reign is recounted beginning in 8:16 share this name. On the relationship of Joram of Israel to Joram of Judah, see note on 3:1.