The name means “Yah is my God.” He was a Tishbite from the region of Gilead, was a prophet in Israel during the reign of Ahab, Ahaziah, and Jehoram. All his life Elijah was active in the defense of God. His teachings brought him into constant conflict with the Kings of Israel and on one occasion had to flee for his life. He fought against the cult of Baal and clashed frequently with Ahab’s wife, Jezebel, who had introduced the pagan cult in Israel.
Elijah performed some extraordinary miracles as a prophet of God. He brought the dead son of a widow back to life (1 Kgs 17:22-023), made a jar of meal and a jar of oil to stay full during a drought, caused fire to come out of the sky and consume a burnt offering, ended a drought, and ran faster than King Ahab’s chariot. Elijah parted the waters of the Jordan River by striking it with his mantle and crossed on dry ground with his understudy, Elisha.
Elijah never died and when he left Elisha picked up Elijah’s mantel and became a prophet of God.
As they continued walking and talking a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlpool into heaven (2 Kgs 2:11).
Elisha remains one of the most intriguing of the prophets. In the New Testament, the angel Gabriel tells Zechariah that his wife, Elizabeth, would bear a son
And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord (Lk 1:17).
Many have identified John the Baptist with Elijah, the forerunner of the Messiah. Some thought Jesus to be Elijah but Jesus rejected this, attributing the role to John the Baptist. Elijah, with Moses, appeared with Jesus at the Transfiguration (Matt 17:1-13).
The story of Elijah is found in 1 and 2 Kings and in 1 and 2 Chronicles.