August 12, 2011

1 Kings 17-17.7

Now Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, "As the Lord the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word."

And the word of the Lord came to him, "Depart from here and turn eastward, and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, that is east of the Jordan. You shall drink from the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there."

So he went and did according to the word of the Lord; he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith that is east of the Jordan. And the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook.

And after a while the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land.


At 1:41 p.m., Blogger Random Arrow said...

First paragraph below is to the other thread, maybe relevant here:

Yes. I puzzled over that question. Judas’s charge. Thanks for picking that up. I’m sorry to admit my sometimes difficulties with the synoptics. Keeping nuances separated between them. Canon is canon. But it’s really not. Thank you for sorting out the subtle differences. Judas thinks, “this kingdom isn’t. Time to cash out.” Yes, he needs a charge that will stick. Get Jesus while his head’s dripping oil. Thanks again.


Okay. Now we have a prophecy to the elements: no rain. Pretend it comes true as just the luck of the draw under large number theory. I’m still looking for Elijah to take him out. If I’m the king. Brook or no brook. The guy’s got to go. How can I pay for my debt ceiling with no water? Either take Elijah out, or, if I’m tired of these prophets and I’m still not in a learning mode (as king), then I’ll just jump into the bathtub with the electric toaster (Murry, "Goundhog Day") – but wait, no water?

At 5:54 p.m., Blogger forrest said...

Somehow I end up with one foot in the Hebrew Scriptures, another in the Gospels-- and despite the difference in tone, have to say they're about the same 'thing'.

I'm not sure if Judas is a 'real' character or not. (Though I wrote a first-person poem 'by' him once...) If he was a zealot, as some people gather from his nickname, I would think that seeing someone anoint Jesus would appeal to him. But it also provides material for denouncing Jesus, if as you say, Jesus seems a touch too ironical about this running-for-King stuff, insufficiently gung-ho.
Why do we need an explanation of why a prophecy 'comes true'? "As the Lord the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word." That's not a 'prediction'; that's a pronouncement. Elijah is led to say it, and thus it happens!

What I find problematic... People are going to get hungry. Elijah himself will have to subsist on what his wait-ravens can carry on their little platters... but at least he's getting regular meals. Everybody else is just watching their crops die, wondering what they'll eat this winter. You could say "God doesn't care for those people," but Jesus makes it pretty clear that God does. Still, God has just decided, and announced, that the Kingdom of Israel will have a drought, and presumably a famine.

That in turn suggests-- given that God really does care for 'the Just and the Unjust,' that there are worse things than drought and famine-- And worshiping false gods is one of them. How come?

Ahab probably does think that all gods are equally false-- but some are more pliable, not so linked with that rival regime in Jerusalem. He sees the whole thing as that troublemaker Elijah's doing. How? The question is rather: "How can I make him stop it?"

So Elijah goes into hiding. But even getting meals-on-wings can't exempt him from the consequences of his own decree.

At 7:20 p.m., Blogger nathan's shepherd said...

So what I see here is this--if you are right with God, then the elements of nature will support you and your needs (not necessarily wants--the ravens didn't bring Elijah filet mignon and lobster tails after all). If your spirit is not right with God--then the soil and the sky ground will produce nada. This maps back to Adam's curse--how the earth starts to resist Adam and he must toil for it to produce. It also maps forward to Jesus--who observes that the sun shines on both teh righteous and teh unrighteous--in direct contradiction to the lessons of both Adam and Elijah.

At 1:05 p.m., Blogger Random Arrow said...

nathan's shepherd -

Yes. I think I agree in the aggregate. I’m blessed if I know the facts of plenty or drought in single cases. One small case at a time. I’ve a friend who taught biology as a full professor at a major university. Quite a few years my elder. He left the university to buy and run a peach orchard. He installed drip irrigation. Very scientific. He told me that the difference between drought and bounty for peaches is a difference in irrigation (water) of about 2%. I heard similar stories when I lived in the Midwest. A few corn farmers said the same thing. I think a 4% difference. I don’t know if these small differences hold true. Most of us just want to see peaches and corn on the table. Percentages are for experts. See below.


I admit I have no better sense of things. Smaller disasters in service of averting larger disasters. “This is from Me.” I keep blinking at observable facts of life. And scratching my head. “People are going to get hungry.” Yes. I liked the note on Ahab too. His variable gods. I think that’s true. Probably. See above to nathan – Quakers have the right idea (generally) in opening to see Spirit/spirit all over. Universally. But when does this general view become our unique idolatry? – beats me! Connecting the dots: when do Ahab’s variable gods cross over into the idolatrous margins where God responds by tweaking rainfall at a 2% margin? I know that 2% may not apply to ANE conditions. So – whatever margin. Is Elijah prophesying to a mere margin? – 2%? If Ahab (Ahab as corporate politick symbol: not personal) had effectively reduced idol worship by only 2% across Ahab’s population (just 2%), then what? – no famine? – bounty instead? I know this is a silly way of framing things. The Spirit is immeasurable. But tell that to peach farmers who trade on metered drip irrigation systems where a 2% difference is catastrophic. Like I said, I don’t know if these numbers hold. If these numbers do not hold, then some others do. Like you said, “Why do we need an explanation of why a prophecy 'comes true'?” I’d like to think we do not. Except that if I’m Joseph under orders to save up abundance against a coming (coming and now invisible!) drought, then maybe I need a little ‘explanation’? Beats me how much.

nathan, forrest – a thought at the last moment? – just a wild thought? – maybe the question (“Why do we need an explanation of why a prophecy 'comes true'?”) and the answer is occasional? – or maybe relegated to what charismatics reify as ‘spiritual gifts’ with answers given as gifts to body members? - answers as gifts for distribution across the larger body? Does the in-house vein of Quaker egalitarianism and universalism become a blindness to discrete gifts? – I feel it shouldn’t, but does it? What is a famine of hearing? Open question. “Let he/she who has ears, hear”? I dunno.

At 5:50 p.m., Blogger forrest said...

In ancient Israel, subsistence agriculture equals rainfall. No rain, nothing grows. At all. Not luxury peaches, not staple wheat etc. People are going to eat from storage, very sparingly, and when that's gone they're in serious trouble.

Multiple names of God... are perfectly okay in ancient Judaism. Even obligatory, ie saying "The Lord" rather than actually saying The Name. Other names like 'El' etc, from the Canaanite pantheon, are okay references to 'the Most High'. "Baal," no.

I'd like to know "How come?" But I don't.

Maybe there's a hint a few passages later, to the effect that Jezebel has been conducting a religious war against supporters of YHWH. Religion/politics, after all, is one entity in these times, not a pair of separable categories. A god is a god 'of' some people or other. 'Yahweh' looks, to Jezebel and Ahab, to be 'the god of our enemies down in Jerusalem.'

"a famine of hearing..." Stephen Gaskin used to say that speaking truth raised a person's energy... but if he observed somebody lying, their mouth was like an astral black spot, a sink sucking the energy out of them and their surroundings.

Sometimes there's a truth that people aren't 'allowed to' say; it 'just isn't done.' 'People don't say that.' But when they finally hear it, then they recognize how much they needed that. (Or if they're people who really didn't want to hear it, they start setting up scaffolds, crosses, etc.)

Another thing Gaskin said: when you see/know/recognize the actuality of the Spirit: 'it changes everything.'


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