[1Ki 19:18 KJV] 18 Yet I have left [me] seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.

It seems like only prophets were being killed:

KJV 1 Kings 19:10 And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.

This is God's response/oracle to Elijah. Are the 7000 prophets or just faithful Jews?

[1Ki 19:18 KJV] 18 Yet I have left [me] seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.

So are these prophets or plain folk?

If plain folk, are they putting themselves in danger? IE: Will they like the prophets be killed?

If prophets, why didn't Elijah know about these 7000?

In other words, aside from the message to Elijah that he is expendable, what is the message to Elijah intended to say?

  • I think that we can draw a parallel here with the Christian Church in a country like old communist Russia. The leaders, who were more on the public arena than the grass-root Christians, got taken first. Likewise, when public Baal devotion was removed by the righteous Jewish authorities, it also probably survived underground, as it were. Mar 24, 2019 at 12:29
  • I sort of touched on this in my book: books.google.co.il/… Apr 9, 2020 at 23:05
  • 1
    @RebChaimHaQoton I looked at the excerpts but am still no clear where you stand. Prophets? Or common folk?
    – Ruminator
    Apr 9, 2020 at 23:08
  • 1
    Is there a possibility of the 7 thousand being symbolic? In other words, many who did not bow? Oct 20, 2021 at 16:09
  • Yes, good point.
    – Ruminator
    Oct 21, 2021 at 17:05

5 Answers 5


We are not told explicitly who these 7000 are; but I suspect that they would be a mixture of prophets and ordinary, faithful, citizens. Here are my reasons:

  1. Jezebel had already killed most of the prophets of God 1 Kings 18:4, 13.
  2. Obadiah, fearing Jezebel's prophetic purge, hid and fed 100 remaining prophets in two caves 1 Kings 18:4, 13.
  3. The total number of prophets of Baal and Ashtoreth numbered 850, 1 Kings 18:19, which were described as "many" v25. It is unlikely that the LORD's prophets outnumbered them after the purge.

Why the Message to Elijah?

Several times (1 Kings 18:22, 19:10, 14) Elijah suggests that he had been very zealous for the LORD and that he (Elijah) was the only one of God's faithful servants left. (This sounds a bit like the whinge, "if it were not for me the truth would die out!") That is, Elijah had a slightly (?) inflated view of his importance and had to be reminded that there were others, 7000 in fact, that were still faithful (had not bowed nor kissed etc). This is further reinforced by God's following instruction to anoint three people, Hazael, Jehu and Elisha - the last of which was to replace Elijah following his rather short ministry. 1 Kings 19:15-18.

  • Elijah did not whinge, he felt lonely, had a long career as a prophet in Israel during the reign of King Ahab,(1Kings 17:1) and continued during the reign of Ahab’s son Ahaziah (1Kings 22:51) The last time he is mentioned as serving as a prophet is toward the end of the eight-year reign of King Jehoram of Judah. 2Chr. 21:12-15; 2Kings 8:16. Apr 16, 2020 at 18:38

While scripture leaves us to our own reasoning, offering only clues as to the identity of the 7000, behind the narrative lay, I believe, a nugget of encouragement for all believers. As well as a call back to humility. Elijah's pride, as mentioned, may have been a bit inflated, just as ours is so subject to become. How often do some amomng us feel like they're about the only one left who's faithful to the Lord? Confirmation bias blinds them, for they are not acquainted with Christians outside their own shere of contacts. Yet we can deduce that God always has a righteous remnant of faithful believers, and that's encouraging. Even when Rome had so convoluted and corrupted the Gospel, there were pockets of the faithful who were not taken in by the pandmeic deception propagated throughout the R.C. church doctrines. But history doesn't record much about those righteous ones.


Are the 7000 in 1 Kings 19:18 all prophets?

1 Kings 19:9-18 (NASB)

Elijah at Horeb.

9 Then he came there to a cave and lodged there; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him,

The Lords's voice came to him, probably by means of a messenger

“What are you doing here, Elijah?”

Elijah took this as an invitation to pour out his feelings, and he does:

10 He said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.”

Elijah’s words reveal at least three reasons for his low spirits.

1/ Despite the many years of being zealous, Elijah felt that his work has been in vain, the sons of Israel have forsaken your covenant.

2/ Elijah felt alone, they killed your prophets and I am alone.

3/ Many of the prophets have been killed and Elijah was convinced he was the next.

How did God address Elijah’s fears and concerns? Having a God like him on his side, with all that overwhelming power at His disposal, Elijah had nothing to fear from Ahab and Jezebel!

11 So He said, “Go forth and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord was passing by! And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing.

13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. And behold, a voice came to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 14 Then he said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.”

God sends Elijah back to his assignment, naming three persons who are to be anointed, or commissioned, to do a work for him: Hazael as king over Syria, Jehu as king over Israel, and his own successor Elisha. Elisha was a young man that became Elisha's assistant and companion for many years. Then God announced the good news to him:

What is the message to Elijah intended to say?

18 "Yet I will leave 7,000 in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal and every mouth that has not kissed him.”

Some of the 7000 may have been prophets, but the vast majority were faithful Jews, men, and women who have not bowed to Baal.

Elijah's work had not been in vain. It must have warmed his heart to hear of those thousands of faithful people who refused to worship Baal, he was not the lone worshipper of the God of Israel. They needed Elijah to keep up his faithful service, to set an example to them.


There were 7000 from the tribe of Judah who stayed faithful toThe Most High. The only tribe in the land at that time was Judah, all other tribes had been taken away into captivity, including the majority of the tribe of Judah.

  • That is not true - Elijah ministered before the capture of the northern kingdom of Israel - look at 2 Kings.
    – user25930
    Mar 14, 2019 at 20:35

The 7000 people consisted of ordinary believers and the sons of prophets, 2 Kings 2 and 2 Kings 4:38-41, the latter only becoming prophets when Elisha's growing ministry collaborated with Elijah (being a prophet was a career, where you spoke for God).

So it's pretty clear that the 7000 people weren't linked to Israelites who were already prophets at the time God sent this message to Elijah. They were mostly likely killed at this stage (i.e. the parents of the sons of the prophets) or being protected by Obadiah, but with my theory, the same fate probably extended this group also (Elijah mentions that he's the only prophet left and there's legit reasons out there to not conflate the Obadiah of Kings to the Obadiah who wrote the Book of Obadiah).

"And thou shalt smite the house of Ahab thy master, that I may avenge the blood of my servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of the LORD, at the hand of Jezebel."- 2 Kings 9:7. As another user mentioned, it seems pretty implausible that the surviving faithful Israelites would outnumber Jezebel's 850 Baal and Asherah prophets combined. That body count looks pretty high to me!

As for your question on whether these 7000 ordinary believers/soon to be prophets faced a similar danger to the prophets already killed by Jezebel, it's hard to be certain. This is my personal opinion but I believe that some of them were executed for their faith, as indicated by the verse above which gives an image of mass carnage, but most likely in a sporadic manner. There's no indication that Jezebel "chilled" in her evil throughout her pathetic years on earth.

The whole point of the Book of Kings was to pessimistically recount the sins of the kingdoms of Samaria and Judah that led to their subsequent deportations and capitivities by the Assyrians and Babylonians respectively. Persecution were acknowledged as part and parcel of living in these sinful kingdoms so there's no reason to list every single death of the righteous, unless it's especially shocking to the readers, i.e. Naboth.

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