The Bible – Old Testament
Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done – that he had put all the prophets to the sword.
Jezebel then sent a messenger to Elijah and said, “May the gods do thus and so to me if by this time tomorrow I have not done with your life what was done to each of them.”
Elijah was afraid and fled for his life, going to Beer-sheba of Judah. He left his servant there
and went a day’s journey into the desert, until he came to a broom tree and sat beneath it. He prayed for death: “This is enough, O LORD! Take my life, for I am no better than my fathers.”
He lay down and fell asleep under the broom tree, but then an angel touched him and ordered him to get up and eat.
He looked and there at his head was a hearth cake and a jug of water. After he ate and drank, he lay down again,
but the angel of the LORD came back a second time, touched him, and ordered, “Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you!”
He got up, ate and drank; then strengthened by that food, he walked forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God, Horeb.
There he came to a cave, where he took shelter. But the word of the LORD came to him, “Why are you here, Elijah?”
He answered: “I have been most zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts, but the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to the sword. I alone am left, and they seek to take my life.”
1 Then the LORD said, “Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will be passing by.” A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the LORD – but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake – but the LORD was not in the earthquake.
After the earthquake there was fire – but the LORD was not in the fire. After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound.
When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cave. A voice said to him, “Elijah, why are you here?”
He replied, “I have been most zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. But the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to the sword. I alone am left, and they seek to take my life.”
2 “Go, take the road back to the desert near Damascus,” the LORD said to him. “When you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king of Aram.
Then you shall anoint Jehu, son of Nimshi, as king of Israel, and Elisha, son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah, as prophet to succeed you.
If anyone escapes the sword of Hazael, Jehu will kill him. If he escapes the sword if Jehu, Elisha will kill him.
Yet I will leave seven thousand men in Israel – all those who have not knelt to Baal or kissed him.”
3 Elijah set out, and came upon Elisha, son of Shaphat, as he was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen; he was following the twelfth. Elijah went over to him and threw his cloak over him.
Elisha left the oxen, ran after Elijah, and said, “Please, let me kiss my father and mother good-bye, and I will follow you.” “Go back!” Elijah answered. “Have I done anything to you?”
Elisha left him and, taking the yoke of oxen, slaughtered them; he used the plowing equipment for fuel to boil their flesh, and gave it to his people to eat. Then he left and followed Elijah as his attendant.
1 [11-13] Compare these divine manifestations to Elijah with those to Moses (⇒ Exodus 19:1-23; ⇒ 33:21-23; ⇒ 34:5) on the same Mount Horeb (Sinai) (⇒ Deut 4:10-15). Though various phenomena, such as wind, storms, earthquakes, fire (⇒ Exodus 19:18-19), herald the divine presence, they do not constitute the presence itself which, like the tiny whispering sound, is imperceptible and bespeaks the spirituality of God. It was fitting that Elijah, whose mission it was to re-establish the covenant and restore the pure faith, should have returned to Horeb where the covenant was revealed to Moses and through him to the Israelite people (⇒ Exodus 3:1-4, ⇒ 17; ⇒ 33:18-⇒ 34:9). Moses and Elijah appeared with Christ at the time of his transfiguration (⇒ Matthew 17:1-9; ⇒ Mark 9:1-7; ⇒ Luke 9:28-36).
2 [15-17] Elijah himself carried out only the third of the commissions entrusted to him (⇒ 1 Kings 19:19-21); Elisha was deputed to perform the first in person (⇒ 2 Kings 8:7-19), and the second through one of his followers (⇒ 2 Kings 9:1-10).
3 [19-21] Elijah’s act of throwing his mantle over the shoulders of Elisha expressed the divine call to share the prophetic mission. Elisha’s prompt response through destruction of his plow and oxen is an example of total obedience and detachment from his former manner of living in order to promote the glory of God.