AHAZIAH, KING OF ISRAEL
AHAZIAH, the son of Ahab, was as wicked as his father, and encouraged his people in the
worship of false gods. One day he fell down-stairs, and was badly hurt. And he
sent messengers to Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron, to inquire if he would get well.
But Elijah was sent by God to meet
 the messengers while they were on their way. He stopped them and asked,—
"Have not the people of Israel a God of their own, that ye have to consult strange
gods? Return ye, therefore, and inform your master that he will not recover."
The messengers returned to the king with this message. When the king learned, from
the description they gave, that the man who had given the message was Elijah, he was
very angry. So he sent a captain with fifty soldiers to seize the prophet and bring
him to the palace.
The captain found Elijah sitting on a hill, and he commanded him to come with him to
the king's presence.
"If thou dost not come peaceably, O prophet," said the captain, "we will carry thee by force."
Elijah answered, "In order that thou mayest know I am a true prophet, I will pray that
fire may fall from heaven and burn thee and thy men."
And the fire came down and destroyed the captain and his men.
Then the king sent out a third captain, with the same number of men. This captain was
wise and prudent. When he had come to where Elijah was, he spoke civilly to him, and
said, "O prophet, I am sent by the king, and come not of my own accord. Therefore I
pray you to have compassion on me and on my soldiers, and to accompany us into the
presence of the king."
Elijah was pleased with these civil words, and he came
 down from the mountain and followed the captain. When he had come to the king,
"Because thou hast despised the true God, and sent to the god of Ekron to ask
about thy illness, thou shalt surely die."
And in truth Ahaziah died a short time afterwards. As he had no sons, he was
succeeded by his brother Jehoram, who was a wicked man also. It was in the
reign of Jehoram that Elijah disappeared from among men,
and Elisha became
prophet of Israel in his stead.
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