Here is my literal translation of 1 Kings 18:46 -
And [the] hand of YHWH came upon Elijah and he girded up his loins and
ran in the face of Ahab to [the] entrance of Jezreel.
The next verse, 1 Kings 19:1 says this (again, my translation)
And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done and all [about] how he
executed all the prophets with sword.
Thus, the record as it exists here, involves a time-gap between these two verses.
- Elijah running ahead of Ahab's chariot to arrive at Jezreel
- [an unspecified time gap of perhaps a day or two for Ahab to enter the city, be royally greeted, change his clothes, have an extended conversation with Jezebel, a discussion of some time, Jezebel summoning secretaries, composing messages, dispatching messengers to find Elijah to deliver the dire message from the angry Queen.]
However, we are not told exactly what events transpired when Elijah and Ahab arrived at the entrance to Jezreel. We are not told what Elijah did, but one assumes he went home, to a location never disclosed in the Bible, except that he came from Tishbe (1 Kings 17:1); but whether he had a home in Samaria or Jezreel, we do not know.
We do not know if Elijah saluted the King upon his separation of even if they separated at all. We do not know if Elijah entered the city or not. However, the purpose of Elijah's running is apparently:
- to further demonstrate the power of God and thus, the divine calling Elijah
- by contrast, Jezebel defied the copious evidence of divine providence (note the triple "all" in 1 Kings 19:1 !!)
- runners were often appointed in ancient times to make the king's carriage and cortege more impressive.
- despite defying the kings false prophets and murdering them, Elijah was still loyal to king and wanted to serve him; however, he managed to do this glorifying God and the source of his strength.
That is, Elijah, as God's servant and prophet, was to clearly to restore the true worship of YHWH and eliminate the worship of Baal; that is Elijah's job was theological revolution not political revolution.
Note the comments of the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary:
- Elijah … girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab—It was anciently, and still is in some countries of the East, customary for
kings and nobles to have runners before their chariots, who are
tightly girt for the purpose. The prophet, like the Bedouins of his
native Gilead, had been trained to run; and, as the Lord was with him,
he continued with unabated agility and strength. It was, in the
circumstances, a most proper service for Elijah to render. It tended
to strengthen the favorable impression made on the heart of Ahab and
furnished an answer to the cavils of Jezebel for it showed that he who
was so zealous in the service of God, was, at the same time, devotedly
loyal to his king. The result of this solemn and decisive contest was
a heavy blow and great discouragement to the cause of idolatry. But
subsequent events seem to prove that the impressions, though deep,
were but partial and temporary.