August 20, 2011

1 Kings 18.20->

So Ahab sent to all the people of Israel, and gathered the prophets together at Mt Carmel.

And Elijah came near to all the people, and said, "How long will you go limping with two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, then follow him."

And the people did not answer him a word.

Then Elijah said to the people, "I, even I only, am left a prophet of the Lord; but Baal's prophets are 450 men. Let two bulls be given to us; and let them choose one bull for themselves, and cut it in pieces and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it; and I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood, and put no fire to it.

"And you call on the name of your god; and I will call on the name of the Lord; and the god who answers by fire, he is God."

And all the people answered, 'It is well spoken."

Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, 'Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are many; and call on the name of your god, but put no fire to it."

And they took the bull which was given them; and they prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning til noon, saying, "O Baal, answer us!" But there was no voice, and no one answered. And they limped about the altar which they had made.

And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying "Cry aloud, for he is a god! Perhaps he is musing, or gone to take a pee; or he is on a journey, or perhaps has gone asleep and needs to be awakened."

And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them. And as midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation; but there was no voice. No one answered; no one heeded.

Then Elijah said to all the people, "Come near to me;" and all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that had been thrown down. Elijah took 12 stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord came, saying "'Israel' shall be your name;" and with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord. And he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed. And he put the wood in order, and cut the bull in pieces and laid it on the wood. And he said, "Fill four jars with water, and pour it on the burnt offering, and on the wood." And he said, "Do it a second time;" and they did it a second time. And he said, "Do it a third time;" and they did it a third time. And the water ran down about the altar, and filled the trench also with water.

And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near and said, "O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that Thou are God in Israel, and that I am Thy servant, and that I have done all these things at Thy word. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that Thou, O Lord, art God; and that Thou hast turned their hearts back."

Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt offering, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.

And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, 'The Lord, He is God; the Lord, He is God."

And Elijah said to them, "Seize the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape."

And they seized them, and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and killed them there.

And Elijah said to Ahab, "Go up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of the rushing of rain." So Ahab went up to eat and to drink.

And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he bowed himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees. And he said to his servant, "Go up now, look toward the sea."

And he went up, and looked, and said, "There is nothing."

And he said, "Go again," seven times.

And at the seventh time he said, "Behold, a little cloud like a man's hand is rising out of the sea."

And he said, "Go up, say to Ahab, 'Prepare your chariot and go down, lest the rain stop you.'"

And in a little while the heavens grew black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode and went to Jezreel.

And the hand of the Lord was on Elijah; and he girded up his loins and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.

4 Comments:

At 3:12 PM, Blogger Random Arrow said...

Okay. I’m having lunch with a professional counselor. We’re talking about borderline personalities. General chat. Blah, blah, blah. Nothing about clients.

We’re talking about how borderline personalities present the kinds of dilemmas that burn out professional counselors. Sheer burn out. Exhausting.

I’m ready to write a letter to the APA. Recommending a new therapy. God therapy. Refer all borderlines to God. God says, “no way!” God refers them all to Elijah. “It’s your problem, pal.”

I’ve got it figured. It’s simple. Worst case. Elijah dies. The mob murders him. At least Elijah is free of borderlines.

 
At 4:35 PM, Blogger forrest said...

Alternative: Throw out thy APA!

Hypothesis: Those human characteristics that can be precisely specified... are the least significant.

There are two basic categories: reasonable, and crazy.

We have also the categories: "normal" and "mentally ill"-- but in practice, in life, we find far less overlap than expected between those judgements and the important ones, above.

That is, a "reasonable" person may be utterly incapacitated with visions, verbal incoherence, and overwhelm-- and even then, much of the time, he will be responding reasonably to his situation.

While someone who is "crazy"-- may fly through his diagnostic tests with nary a blip, while shooting himself (and everyone else willing to trust him/her) multiple times in the foot.
-----
My take on this passage: We're seeing basic scientific method applied to religious questions, as our early Friend spiritual-ancestors recommended.

Massacre of religious competitors?-- not so good. State-of-the-art practice of the time, when "a god" was a political being. Baal (which means "Lord"!) vs 'the Lord' as markers of allegiance, whether to Jezebel's people or the Davidic regime in Jerusalem. Those prophets whom Obadiah was hiding... had been on the unfashionable side of these politics.

And then Elijah took this beyond politics. 'Whose god is God?' There's more at stake here than literary elegance!

But tune in, soon, for Elijah's famous discovery of the test that goes beyond all these vulgar magics...

 
At 11:05 PM, Blogger Random Arrow said...

Yes on tossing APA. Most fascinating how I missed the sensibility of scientific method honored here and among early Quakers! Before I quiet-down to go beyond the vulgar magics and hear Elijah’s discovery of the softly blowing wind, I’m in a brain coagulation. About you comment on planetary bodies. Is the solution to planetary movement a solution of eight problems? – or just one? So too the many gods here? Using your sense and logic? A bit of a trick question given our promiscuities for the vulgar magics of what works in god-departments, but not intended as a trick.

 
At 12:25 AM, Blogger forrest said...

The simulations are amazingly precise for a very long time... but there isn't much of an upper bound on long-term errors. Really long simulations, with tiny differences in starting conditions, can end with major shifts in orbits, even (if there's a close close approach) planets altogether thrown out.

Look... Jupiter has moons the size of Earth. In extremely regular orbits. But each such moon is pulling on Jupiter as strongly as the Earth would if we were that close. Jupiter stays pretty much in place because it's pulling on them a whole lot stronger. But they do make it wriggle. Everything is affecting everything.

You want strange? How about 'Mach's principle'? If you're holding a bucket on a short rope, swinging it rapidly overhead so that the water stays in the bottom... There should be an equivalent way of looking at that system, in which the bucket is perfectly stationary and the entire universe is rotating around it. The water is held in the bottom by relativistic effects due to massive, far-away galaxies moving around it at just under the speed of light. So the mass of that water, its 'inertia', is a side effect of all the matter in the universe.

Say "Wow!"

 

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