Mt. Carmel and Elijah PDF Print E-mail
Written by Stephen Langfur
Article Index
Mt. Carmel and Elijah
Geopolitical background
Elijah: The Biblical Text
Epilogue and Comment

Mt. Carmel: Epilogue and Comment

Then Jezebel prepared to murder Elijah, and he fled forty days and nights to Horeb, the mountain of God (1 Kings 19:8). Here Yahweh spoke to him, not in the wind, not in the earthquake, not in the fire, but in a still small voice, telling him to do certain practical things: to anoint Hazael as king of Damascus, Jehu as king of Israel, and Elisha as his own successor.

Now Ahab had made an alliance with Jehoshaphat of Judah, in order better to control the roads. The alliance between the northern and southern kingdoms, Israel and Judah, continued --as did Israel's alliance with Phoenicia. These alliances made perfectly good economic sense.

Yet after Elijah was taken up, Elisha, his successor, sent a prophet to Ramoth Gilead on the  King's Highway. This prophet anointed the Israelite general Jehu, who stormed down in his chariot and, in a single day, killed Jezebel, Ahaziah king of Judah and Joram, Ahab's son, king of Israel. In short, he destroyed "the system": the basis of wealth and power. Such were the politics of Elijah and Elishah.

But the basis of the basis was the roads. And the roads were roads because of springs. And the springs were there because of the rain. Who, then, gives the rain?

The account of Elijah on Carmel comes as a perfect illustration of the covenant text in Deuteronomy 11:13-17, according to which God rewards the good and punishes the wicked. But everyday life does not always illustrate divine justice so clearly and obviously. Ever since the covenant took this form, the gap that sometimes opens between faith, on the one hand, and ordinary experience, on the other, has posed a major question to people who take both seriously.