Elijah (in the New Testament called Eli-as), a Hebrew prophet, whose history is given in the later chapters of the first book of Kings, and in the opening chapters of the second. He suddenly appeared before King Ahab, declaring that as a punishment for the king's iniquities neither dew nor rain should fall for years, until he himself announced the change. He took refuge from the wrath of the monarch in the desert, by the brook Cherith, where he was miraculously fed by ravens; and after the drying up of the brook he proceeded to Zarephath, where he was supported by a poor widow, for whom his presence was a source of blessings during the distresses of the time. After drought and famine had desolated the country during three years, he reappeared before the king, offering to demonstrate the vanity of the worship of Baal. He requested Ahab to assemble on Mt. Carmel the idolatrous priests, 850 in number, who had followed in the train of Queen Jezebel, and there defied them to make fire fall from heaven to consume their sacrifice. The long prayers of the Baalites were without success, but in answer to Elijah's short prayer the fire came down and consumed not only the bullock but the altar.
The people instantly massacred the priests, and then Elijah promised an end to the famine, and there was an abundant rain. But Jezebel swearing revenge for the destruction of the priests, Elijah again fled to the wilderness of Mt. Horeb and hid himself in a cavern. Then he was commanded to return and anoint Hazael king over Syria and Jehu over Israel, and appoint Elisha as his own successor. On his way he found Elisha and made him his disciple, and as he appeared again before Ahab, who was guilty of the blood of Naboth, the king humbled himself and repented. Ahaziah, the son of Ahab, who succeeded to the throne, fell ill, and Elijah announced to him through his agents that his sickness would end in death. Ahaziah sent a captain and 50 armed men to seize Elijah; but fire from heaven consumed the band. A second company met with the same fate. At length Elijah appeared personally before the king and repeated his announcement. His mission was now accomplished. He made a visit to the school of the prophets at Bethel, and having in company with Elisha crossed the Jordan, the waters of which he divided by smiting them with his mantle, he was taken up into heaven by a whirlwind, in a chariot of fire drawn by horses of fire.
The date of the termination of his career is fixed in the beginning of the 9th century B. 0. - In the New Testament Elias is mentioned as appearing with Moses to Christ at his transfiguration on the mount. He has been canonized in both the Greek and Latin churches. Among the Christians in the East Mar Elias is the patron of elevated places, and many conspicuous summits are called after his name. Two convents in Palestine are dedicated to him, one near Jerusalem, and the other on Mt. Carmel. His day is July 20, under which date the traditional account of him will be found in the Acta Sanctorum. The Mohammedan traditions respecting him are given in the introduction to Lane's " Arabian Nights."