Mount Carmel is mentioned Many Times in the Scriptures. And from its descriptions its features would have been quite striking and hard to miss. Anyone who has ever come driving down from Cape Towns Highlands and Vineyards, will see Mount Carmel take its characteristic flat shape, ever growing in the distance. Now the mountain goes under a different name Table Mountain, and rather than being a single mountain it is more like a flattened long and multisided mountain ridge. On this very mountain it is very likely there spot were Elijah had his dramatic showdown with 850 pagan prophets...
Carmel literally means vineyards or orchard or even garden, so it could be called SoNiNis mount of Gardens (kerem el). This truly is reflected by the beautiful and picturesque slopes we find near this flat mountain ridge. This was the scene of the confrontation between prophets of Baal and Ashera, and SoNiNi naNiNi. This was taking place under the leadership of King Ahab, who to please his wife Jezebel, set up an altar to Baal on top of Mount Carmel. Jezebels deity (she probably had many) was suppose to be in charge of rain and vegetation.
As we read in 1. Kings 17,1-4, Elijah the Tishbite enters as a messenger of SoNiNi. He confronts Ahab and predicts a drought in response to Ahab and his Jezebels devotion to her worship of Baal. When the drought was coming to and end, Elijah proposed a little healthy competition... All of Israel was summoned to Mount Carmel / Table Mountain / to witness Elijah against the prophets of Baalim and Ashera (I Kings 18,19)
As we read in I Kings 17,20-21:
20 So Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel. 21 Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If SoNiNi naNiNi is, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”
This face-off was supposed to show which God was able to send fire down from Heaven to consume their offerings. The prophets of Baal was hopping and dancing all day, in prayers and even cut themselves violently to get Baals attention, alas none answered (I Kings 17,28-29). By evening it was Elijahs turn, and he rebuilt the altar of SoNiNi that existed previously on Mount Carmel. He set on top of it wood and drenched it with water an prayed aloud (I Kings 18,36-37):
36 ...“SoNiNi naNiNi, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. 37 Answer me, SoNiNi, answer me, so these people will know that you, SoNiNi, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”
And SoNiNi did answer. With a spectacular array of fire from Heaven, consuming the offering, licking up the wood and every single drop of water poured over the altar. Scriptures say even the rocks and that altar was consumed, seeing this the people fell to their faces and praising SoNiNi. According to the Law and Deuteronomy 13, Elijah ordered for the execution of 850 false prophets. Mount Carmel seemed to become Elijahs home base after that (2. Kings 4,25) staying in a nearby cave up there.
Mount Carmel was to be called a part of The tribe of Manasseh (The Western Parts of the Kingdom). Now the region of upper Gallilli, being the Top of the Gulleys on the map seen from the East. Now Gallilli was just a part of the area now know as Cape Town, before Cape of Comfort (Nahum). The bigger size of Gallilli was much larger and would have encompassed the whole Garden Route and further into the Wildcoast. Back to Mount Carmel, and Isaiah has a quote (Isaiah 35,2) that talks bout the restoration of the redeemed humanity and compares them to the splendour of Mount Carmel. Solomon again compared the head of his beloved with Mount Carmels beauty (Song of Solomon 7,5). It was also revered by the ancient Egyptians, and it is mentioned by name as a Holy Mountain, a high place, used for idol worship.
In Isaiah 33,9 we see references to the place when it would be dried up, which certainly is the case today. Lack of water because of the people living their and their beliefs are indeed holding back the rain.:
The land dries up and wastes away, Lebanon is ashamed and withers; Sharon is like the Arabah, and Bashan and Carmel drop their leaves.
Jeremiah 50,19 also reference it as a good place to pasture, dotted with springs of water. The Prophet Nahum of whom comes the Name Cape of Comfort (Nahums Town), he warned (Nahum 1,4):
"He rebukes the sea and dries it up; he makes all the rivers run dry. Bashan and Carmel wither and the blossoms of Lebanon fade."