Posts Tagged ‘Kings’

Elijah’s exhausted flight into the desert after his confrontation with Jezebel and her legion of Baal-prophets should earn from us a bit of sympathy.

The extravagance of his victory over Baal’s servants in a high-stakes mountain-top contest has not erased the singularity of Elijah’s experience. He has won the day, but he has been alone in it. Triumph has not managed to trump solitude. When YHWH engages his prophet in his mountain redoubt—this strange YHWH who suddenly will not be found in earthquake or fire but only as a gentle breeze coaxes Elijah from his funk—he can only speak of what he has done for his divine patron.

I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away. (1 Kings 19:10 NRSV)

Solitude has become neurosis. Neurosis has clouded Elijah’s vision and become a self-fulfilling obsession. (more…)

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Elijah’s post-heroic flight to the desert may be a quest for further revelation. His destination–Horeb, the mountain of God—is the detail that suggest this. Regardless, Yahweh’s attitude towards his prophet-in-flight is complex. On the one hand, YHWH’s angel feeds Elijah, and on the strength of this sustenance the prophet travels ‘forty days and forty nights’ to Horeb. On the other, YHWH’s word is twice interrogative: ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’

It seems, on balance, as though Elijah should have been somewhere else, mostly likely tending to his prophetic task in the turbulent peril that was Israel under Jezebel’s scheming gaze and Ahab’s consummate wimpery. (more…)

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