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Who is Eliyahu Hanavi?
Transcript of Who is Eliyahu Hanavi?
Achazya's messengers harass Eliyahu
Baal vs. YHVH- Who will emerge victorious?
Showdown at Har HaCarmel!
The Wrath of Fire
After a long hunt, Achav finds Eliyahu and asks "Are you the troubler of Israel?" (Aleph:Yud Chet: Yud Tet) Eliyahu responds that the drought is not out of his doing but rather because of the sins of the people in Israel who worship Baal. So, Eliyahu called forth four hundred and fifty Baal prophets and four hundred Ashera prophets and the entirety of Israel. There, Eliyahu rebuked the Jews on their dual "loyalty" to Baal and Hashem. He
pushed them to pick a side- sin or Torah. Eliyahu then declared that he would get a bull and all the other prophets would receive one as well to offer to their G-d, but only the offering to Hashem would be consumed. The prophets labored over their altar, but their god didn't consume the offering. Eliyahu then set up twelve stones for the altar with some wood and wet the wood, making the fire that came even more miraculous. And right after this miracle, the rain returned.
11th Grade Tanach
Tishbite Brings Drought!
Speculations on Eliyahu's Death
Yehoshua's curse stated that anyone who attempted to rebuild the city of Yericho would be punished. Sure enough, when Chiel began to build up the city his sons began to die. However, King Achav challenged Eliyahu about whether these were really divine punishments because, how could Yehoshua's curse be fulfilled when his teacher Moshe's curse was not. Moshe's curse stated that a drought would befall the land if the Jews worshipped idolatry. So, to prove Achav wrong, Eliyahu brought a drought to Israel. (Melachim Aleph: Perek Yud Zayin: Pasuk Aleph). This miracle- maker is know to be very hairy and wear a leather belt (Melachim Bet: Perek Aleph: Pasuk Chet)
Eliyahu realizes his time has come and tells Elisha to stay behind while he goes to Bet El to ascend to heaven. Elisha refuses and the two travel to Yericho, meet fifty prophets and then travel to the Jordan river. Eliyahu strikes the river and it splits allowing the two to pass on dry land. When Eliyahu offers Elisha a wish, Elisha requests double Eliyahu's spirit. Eliyahu promises that if Elisha sees his death, he will receive this. While Elisha and Eliyahu are talking, Eliyahu ascends to heaven in a seara- storm/ whirlwind on a fiery chariot led by horses. Elisha then splits the water and sees the prophets who declare that he truly has Eliyahu's powers, and they bow to him.
Who is Eliyahu Hanavi?
Eliyahu could belong to the tribe of Gad or Binyamin, but some say that he has close ties to the spirit of Pinchas.
While some people suggest that Pinchas and Eliyahu literally shared the same spirit, others emphasize their similar characters. Rabbi Seplowitz relates Pinchas' radical decision to kill the sinning Jews who were swayed by Kozbi, a Moabite princess and prostitute to pursue illicit relationships and idolatry to Eliyahu's forceful attempts to inspire the Jews to repents. While the rest of the Jewish leaders hesitated, Pinchas took it upon himself to murder the offenders- a radical departure from the humble Moshe and peacemaking Aharon. However, in the Torah, the vav in "shalom" is jagged, to imply that sometimes things must be broken in order for them to be fixed. This is highly reminiscient of Eliyahu's leadership style which involved inflicting droughts, killing sinners and bringing miraculous fires.
What are you doing here, Elijah?
After the incident at Har HaCarmel, Eliyahu goes off into the desert and tells G-d that he wants to die. However G-d sends him an angel who makes him eat and drink. Then Eliyahu travels to Chorev and stays for forty days and nights. When Hashem asks him "What are you doing here?" Eliyahu responds that the Jewish people are sinning and are too astray to repent.
So, G-d sends a prophecy to Eliyahu with strong winds, storms, and fires but G-d's presence was not in them. Rather, Eliyahu finds Hashem in a small sound. G-d once again asks "What are you doing here, Eliyahu?" Eliyahu responds the same as he did the first time, but now G-d realizes his depression and exhaustion and sends him to annoint kings over Israel and place Elisha as his successor.
The Malbim states that Hashem rebuked Eliyahu, saying that he should be among the people helping them repent. However, because Eliyahu had been so unabashed in his love of Hashem, his life was endangered living among the Baal worshipping Jews.
King Achazya falls through a latticework floor and becomes ill. He sends messenger to Baal- zevuv prophets to see if he will survive. However, an angel informs Eliyahu of this and he goes to scold the messengers and tell them that because of this Achazya will die. When the messengers return to Achazya and relay this message, he sends a captain and fifty men to ask Eliyahu to come down to see the king. Eliyahu makes a miracle and the men are consumed by a heavenly fire. Another set of men come and try to be forceful with Eliyahu, and again he sends heavenly fire to consume them. Only when a third group comes and asks politely does Eliyahu come down and tell the king his fate. (Melachim Bet: Aleph- Yud Chet)
The Malbim points out that when the messengers relay Eliyahu's words to Achazya, they change the wording to exclude themselves from the rebuke. They put all of the blame on the king.
Rashi suggests that this is out of humility, while Ralbag says that it is to protect Elisha from what will be a painful and scary scene.
The Metzudat David says that Elisha is really requesting double Eliyahu's prophetic abilities. Seeing Eliyahu at his most spiritual will allow Elisha to receive these powers.
There is a debate over whether Eliyahu actually died. Ralbag suggests that his soul was taken to heaven while his body awaits the proper time to return.
However, Radak says that the fiery chariot destroyed Eliyahu's clothes and body while his spirit ascended to heaven. The only anomaly is that while the body is usually left behind after death, Eliyahu's was completely consumed.
The next time Eliyahu appears is in Divrei Hayamim in Yehoram's letter (a descendant of Achav), in which Eliyahu rebukes the king for leading the Jews astray and killing his brother. As a punishment, Eliyahu sends a plague to his family. This is a fitting narrative with Eliyahu's life in Melachim and his punishing of the house of Achav.
Later Malachi prophecizes that Eliyahu will reappear just before Mashiach in order to restore peace. This is a dramatic departure from his fiery punishments in Melachim. Instead of a Pinchas radical, Eliyahu becomes a peace keeper.
Eliyahu's Role After Tanach
Post- Tanach, Eliyahu appears to Jewish leaders and those in need to bring peace and heavenly aid. Esther Rabba states that Eliyahu reappears as Charvona to tell Achashverosh about the gallows Haman made for Mordechai. In this and many other stories, Eliyahu shows up to guide the Jewish people out of trouble and restore equilibrium.
Brit Milah: It is a custom to have a chair for Eliyahu at a Bris. This is to remind Eliyahu of how wrong he was in saying that the Jews had forsaken the Torah. This also allows him to more effectively advocate on our behalf to Hashem.
Kos Eliyahu: It is a custom to leave a cup of wine for Eliyahu at each Pesach seder. This is to again, remind Eliyahu of the dedication of the Jewish people, and help him restore peace amongst family members.
Havdalah: Motzei Shabbat we sing songs about Eliyahu, because it is believed that this is when he inscribes merit for those who have observed Shabbat.