Thursday, August 5, 2010

1 Kings, Chapter 18

A three-god cage match in which there will only be one survivor. Can you guess who?

God tells Elijah to go and talk to Ahab again, and promises rain. He goes, but the famine continues. Not very impressive, god.

Ahab calls his chief steward Obadiah, who is a faithful man who hid a hundred prophets in a cave when Ahab's wife Jezebel went on a priest-killing spree. Nope, that wasn't mentioned before.

Ahab instructs Obadiah to go on a water hunt to keep his horses alive. He doesn't mention children, so we can assume they aren't important enough. Oddly, they embark on this adventure themselves, mainly so Obadiah can stumble across Elijah in a field and prostrate himself. Elijah tells him to go find Ahab, but apparently this has happened before: someone finds Elijah, who sends them off to get Ahab, then disappears when they return, and it's really starting to annoy Ahab. Elijah promises that this time he won't disappear, and Obadiah goes off to find Ahab.

Ahab starts off on the wrong foot, accusing Elijah of troubling Israel. Elijah says it's Ahab, with his pagan worship, who is the troublemaker. He throws down the gantlets: gather 450 priests of Baal and 400 of Asherah and bring them to Mount Carmel at dawn for a shoot-out. Winner takes all.

Ahab gathers his minions and Elijah invites the Israelites. He instructs the priests to take a bull and cut it up. He'll do the same. They'll all call out to their gods and whichever one sets fire to the bull wins. The pagans pray all day, but nothing happens. Elijah comments that Baal must be busy. The pagans self-flagellate.

Elijah tells the Israelites to gather in close, then rebuilds the altar and places 12 stones on pillars. Then he tells them to douse the bullock in lighter fluid water three times. At sunset, he calls on god to prove himself, and god lights the fire. Try this at home, kids.

Elijah orders the pagan priests rounded up and kills them in a riverbed, then turns to Ahab and forecasts rain. Elijah goes up the mountain and gets into an extremely painful position with his face between his knees. He tells one of his followers to climb higher up the mountain and look towards the sea. Nothing! Well, Elijah proves that the definition of crazy is indeed 'a person who does the same thing over and over expecting a different result every time' and makes the guy do it seven times. Finally, a cloud appears on the seventh run. He sends him down to inform Ahab. Ahab has taken off for Jezreel, but god gives Elijah's feet extra speed and he races ahead of him.

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