Nine centuries before Christ, while evil Ahab reigned, God's people embraced the false religions of Baal and Asherah (1 Kgs. 18.19).
To combat this apostasy, a contest was proposed, the design of which was to prove, in the sight of “all the children of Israel” (likely, the leaders of each tribe), the identity of the true God — whether Baal or Yahweh (18.20-21).
Elijah, whose name means, “Yahweh is God” (an affront to Baalism by itself), stood against the vast majority, including 450 prophets of Baal, 400 prophets of Asherah, the monarcy, and the people of Israel themselves.
God chose Mt. Carmel for the venue, an extremely fertile mountain range spanning “about 13 miles” (ISBE, Vol. 1, 579) in the northwestern most tip of Israel (near modern Haifa), where it protrudes into the Mediterranean Sea.
“It is 1,732 feet high at its highest point and 500 feet high where it meets the sea” (Baker's Bible Atlas, 31).
Significantly, Baal-worshippers believed him to be the god of fertility. Carmel, which means, “the vineyard/garden of God,” is synonymous with beauty and fruitfulness (Isa. 35.2; Song 7.5). What better place to prove that Yahweh alone is the true God of fertility?