Ki Tissa

Ki Tissa sig1 Kings 18: 1-39

Elijah, prophet, 9th C. BCE

Elijah, or Eliahou, was one of the colourful prophets who performed miracles, talked with G-d, and had a variety of  adventures. This week we read one of those exciting stories. (When you click on the image it will be enlarged.)

In the 9th Century BCE the evil King Ahab and the horrible Queen Jezebel ruled the northern kingdom of Israel. Jezebel ordered the execution of  all Jewish priests and prophets, making way for the worship of Baal. 100 prophets including Eliahou (Elijah) survived by going into hiding. After a 3 year drought Eliahou came out of hiding and challenged the priests of Baal to a showdown on a mountain top.

It was a great confrontation. Elijah challenged 850 prophets of Baal and Asherah to meet him at the top of Mount Carmel. Jezebel’s prophets and Eliahu were each to offer a sacrifice  to their god. They weren’t to use fire- instead the deity was to ignite the fire beneath the sacrifice.

The stage was set. Jezebel’s prophets went first, calling to Baal from morning to noon, singing, then hopping and dancing. Elijah teased them suggesting their god might be busy talking, sleeping, traveling, or held up somewhere. The other priests shouted louder, gashed themselves, but no fire appeared.

Eliahou then pulled out all the stops. Twelve pitchers of water were poured over his sacrifice – spilling over the altar and filling a trench that surrounded it. He called out to G-d. A fire appeared. It came from heaven, consuming the offering, the wood, the altar, and the water in the trench.

It’s a great story- with drama, humour and an element of surprise. If you want the whole narrative go to your friendly Tanach or bible, turn to the First Book of Kings, and read chapter18, verses 1- 39. But if you want even more adventure read the verses before and the verses following, from chapters 17 through 19.  It’s good reading and good literature!

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Have a Shabbat Shalom.

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