The First Book of Kings
Chapter Nineteen

1-Kings. Chapter 19. Elijah on Mount Sinai. Elishah is Chosen


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To Hear a Talk based on the Text below:
1-Kings ch. 19
Elijah on Mount Horeb and Appointing Elisha
(ca.28 minutes)
Talk includes points not mentioned in the text.

1 Kings 19 (New King James Version)
Elijah Flees to Horeb, Elishah is Chosen

1 And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, also how he had executed all the prophets with the sword.
Elijah had killed the Prophets of Baal in the presence of Ahab and at that time apparently with his agreement. Prior to this Jezebel had been responsible for the murder of Prophets of the Almighty.
18: 4 For so it was, while Jezebel massacred the prophets of the LORD...
18: 13 Was it not reported to my lord what I did when Jezebel killed the prophets of the LORD...

2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.
#messenger#. Hebrew "Malach" which can mean either messenger or angel according to the context. An angel is a messenger from the Almighty. Most Commentators consider angels to be physical beings in all cases. Maimonides seems to suggest however that the term could apply to any conduit for messages from on high.
It is the way of they who are extremely angry and desire vengeance to first threaten their intended victim. This increases the punishment by adding terror and trepidation. It is also a natural development of emotional arousal that precedes the violence and leads to it. Criminals intending to hurt someone often send some type of message beforehand. It is therefore understandable that Jezebel did send someone to Elijah with the threat just as she prepared to carry it out.
I  would suggest however that she did not. Elijah intuited her intentions very strongly.
Why then does Scripture not say that God told him or that he perceived it himself?
Perhaps because it emanated from Jezebel herself who while not physically dispatching a messenger caused a message to go out?

# the gods#. In Hebrew "Elohim" which can mean "god" in the plural or "God" in the singular. Here Jezebel has attached plural verbs to this noun so the translation as "gods" is correct.

3 And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life, and went to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there.
#Beersheba, which belongs to Judah#. Judah and Israel (over which Ahab and Jezebel) ruled were separate states. Judah had given Beer Sheva to Simeon (Joshua 15:28 19:1-9)  but at this stage this section of Simeon was still ruled over by Judah. Later the situation would change and Simeon or at least part of Simeon was to be ruled over by northern Israel even though geographically the Kingdom of Judah separated between them. Apparently the servant of Elijah could be protected by Judah whereas Elijah himself, being more prominent, had to keep going.

Broom Tree

4 But he himself went a days journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, It is enough! Now, LORD, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!
 Bible Wood Spotlight: Broom
The Broom Tree (
juniperus spp.) is more of a desert shrub than a tree and abounds in many parts of Palestine. It has long flexible branches and forms an erect bush reaching heights of up to 12 feet. They tolerate and often thrive best in poor growing areas and conditions and need little care. The Hebrew words used in the Bible for the Broom Tree are rotem, rothem, r'tamin, ritmah and rithmah
Bedouin (nomadic desert dwellers) typically selected a place to camp where the Broom Tree grew in order to be sheltered from the wind at night; it also provided them shelter from the sun during the day. It is this same shrub under which the prophet Elijah laid down and slept for protection (1 Kings 19:4).

5 Then as he lay and slept under a broom tree, suddenly an angel[a] touched him, and said to him, Arise and eat.
6 Then he looked, and there by his head was a cake baked on coals, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank, and lay down again.
7 And the angel[b] of the LORD came back the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you.
8 So he arose, and ate and drank; and he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights as far as Horeb, the mountain of God.
#Horeb# is another name for Mount Sinai upon which the Children of Israel received the Torah after coming out of Egypt.
There is an opinion that Mount Sinai was not in the Sinai Peninsula as commonly assumed but rather in the northern region of the country now known as Yemen in the Arabian Peninsula. One of the arguments (brought by
Mair Arzi, "Yad leMair Arzi", p.24, [Hebrew] 1988) is the forty day and forty night journey of Elijah from Beer Sheba. If we take account of difficult topography we can still assume a rate of progress of at least 20 kilometer a day giving us a radius of 1000 kilometer which includes the region of North Yemen.
This opinion was first ascribed to Charles
Tilstone Beke (Great Britain) published posthumously in 1878.

Habakkuk 3:3 God came from Teman, the Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise.
This whole question is of interest but seems to involve religious and even political considerations.

An identification of the original Sinai as being in the proximity of Yemen is of interest from another point of view. The nearby Hadramaut appears to have originally been a center of the Veddoid population. These people are related to the Australian aborigines and may well be the Canaanite Sinites (Sinim in Hebrew) by virtue of whom Australia was referred to as "Land of Sinim" (Isaiah 49).

Arabian identified as Veddoid
Yemenite identified as Veddoid
Yemenite identified as Veddoid

Whatever the case the People of Israel are the Chosen People. The Lost Ten Tribes are part of the Chosen People but only the Jews of Judah so far still remain definitely identifiable (according to the Bible) as Israelites.
 by  Steven Collins and
Yair Davidiy
Wherever Mount Sinai actually was the Sinai Peninsula should belong to Israel. It should not have been given to Egypt. Yair Davidiy served in the IDF during which he spend almost a year in different areas of Sinai. It is definitely holy ground and part of the Holy Land of Israel.
Sinai possesses oil resources (first discovered and developed by Israel when we occupied the region) and mineral resources.
It has important strategic value and its airspace is needed by the Israeli Air Force for training and other purposes.
The Sinai Desert  according to an analysis of satellite photographs may possess a vast underground sea of possibly fresh water.
Cf. Will Nile Water Go To Israel?:
North Sinai Pipelines And The Politics Of Scarcity
by Ronald
Ironically the North Sinai is gifted with plenty of underground water. According to
Bahay Essawi, an Egyptian geologist who once worked for the Water Resources Ministry, there is enough water in the Sinai from yearly rainfall to supply double the population there without building expensive pipelines. Essawi's
idea is that instead of diverting precious Nile water, the underground water of the North Sinai could be tapped and coordinated with a scheme to construct relatively cheap dams to capture winter rainfall. This alternative would be much more cost effective and environmentally friendly and it could ultimately support as many as a million inhabitants.(11)

9 And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and He said to him, What are you doing here, Elijah?
#went into a cave# In Hebrew it says, And he came there and went into THE cave. There is an implied emphasis on "THE" in the expression "the cave".  It is therefore understood to be referring to a specific cave important in its own right. This is the cave formed by the cleft of the rock in which Moses hid himself when the glory of the Almighty passed before him (Exodus 33:22) [Daat Mikra].
#What are you doing here, Elijah?# Elijah was being told that his place was with the people of Israel. Moses had also been given a similar message. The Almighty wants the good of the People of Israel. We cannot be content with our own salvation.  The Almighty will judge us according to how we worked for the Israelite nation.

10 So he said, I have been very zealous for the LORD God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.
#I alone am left#. What about the hundred prophets that Obadiah hid? The Radak explains this by suggesting that the hiding prophets were not publicly recognized. Only Elijah was openly opposed to the idolatrous policies of Jezebel.

God's Revelation to Elijah
11 Then He said, Go out, and stand on the mountain before the LORD. And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake;
12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.
It is implied that the Presence of the Almighty was in the still small voice.

13 So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, What are you doing here, Elijah?

14 And he said, I have been very zealous for the LORD God of hosts; because the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.
This reply of Elijah in verse 19:14 is the same as that given above in 19:10. It may be that the first time he was complaining. The second time he was making a statement of acceptance.

15 Then the LORD said to him: Go, return on your way to the Wilderness of Damascus; and when you arrive, anoint Hazael as king over Syria.
16 Also you shall anoint Jehu the son of Nimshi as king over Israel. And Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel Meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place.
The meaning of the name Nimshi is not known but many have found a similarity between it and the name Manasseh.
17 It shall be that whoever escapes the sword of Hazael, Jehu will kill; and whoever escapes the sword of Jehu, Elisha will kill.

Elijah was being given an answer. The ruling body over Israel was to be replaced. Elijah himself would appoint the replacement. Just as Ahab and Jezebel and their Ruling House were to be replaced so too would Elijah be given a replacement. Elijah was being made to realize that he had been a balance to Ahab. Elijah was one aspect of existence, Ahab another. When Ahab went Elijah would have to go as well. Elishah, the replacement of Elijah, would introduce a new reality.

18 Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.
Elijah had presented himself as standing alone. He was now being told, Another would take his place and be instrumental in correcting the faults he had complained of. Not only would a replacement be found for Elijah but another seven thousand like him were still available!

Elisha Follows Elijah
19 So he departed from there, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he was with the twelfth. Then Elijah passed by him and threw his mantle on him.

The English word ox, or oxen has come to connote a castrated bull. Originally it did not always mean this. The Hebrew is SHOR meaning bull. Castrating animals or humans is forbidden according to the Bible. A scholar claimed to me that they must have found some way to castrate the bulls since otherwise it would have been impossible to manage them. I disagree. They may well have bred a more docile type of bull than those we are familiar with.
There was a large area of land that apparently belonged to the family of Elisha. Twelve pairs of bulls tied to yokes were ploughing this land at one and the same time one beside the other. Elisha was with the twelve pair from the direction Elijah approached them.
20 And he left the oxen and ran after Elijah, and said, Please let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.
And he said to him, Go back again, for what have I done to you?

21 So Elisha turned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen and slaughtered them and boiled their flesh, using the oxens equipment, and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and followed Elijah, and became his servant.

After the Death of Solomon:
The Divided Kingdom

The Divided Kingdom
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1-Kings ch.18
1-Kings Contents
1-Kings ch.20