Problem: Even the brook had dried up because the drought was so severe (1 Kings 17:7; cf. 18:2). Yet before Elijah prayed for fire from heaven he doused the sacrifice with water three times until it filled the trenches around the altar.
Solution: There was a severe drought, but there was still water to drink, both for man and beast, from the springs around the land (1 Kings 18:5), and from the brook Kishon (v. 40). The drought was not so bad that the people were literally dying from thirst. The amount of water Elijah used was not astronomical, being only twelve “waterpots” full (18:33–34). Although waterpots varied in size from those small enough to be carried by one person, some were big enough to hold 20 gallons. However, the author of Kings notes that the trench was big enough to hold about two seahs of seed, equivalent to about one-fourth of a bushel. The fact that Elijah commanded his servants to fill the waterpots indicates that they were small enough for one person to carry. The total amount of water probably amounted to about 13 quarts.