Two Hothead “Prophets” of Scriptural Myth

Accepting Bible stories literally is always an indulgence in naivety for at least two reasons: 1) All biblical accounts were penned long after the timeframes in which the event allegedly occurred; and 2) Few, if any, genuine historical records ever support the contention that the starring figure in the religious myths even existed.  Where any person or persons can be verified by historical records, they always serve only in peripheral roles, which any writer of fiction knows will add the illusion of reality to a made-up tale.  Take the two “prophets” Elijah and Elisha, for example.

Elijah.  The priest-authors of the “prophet” tales—as they did with every Hebrew scripture tale—took great liberty in use of cosmological facts known to prehistory cultures, and plagiarized myth from neighboring cultures to play upon people’s gullibility.  Regarding the two “prophets” here referred to, both were named by incorporating the word Eli, which means “god,” and using a suffix that referred to life.  In the Ecclesiasticus, an apocryphal or New Testament version, which consists mainly of a series of maxims concerning the practical and moral (?) aspects of life, Elijah was altered to Elias.

Elijah (said to mean “Yah[weh] is my God) is cast as a 9th century BCE Hebrew “prophet” (traditionally c. 910 BCE), which was indeed a timeframe of social and religious changes.  According to priest-authors writing in Jerusalem in the seventh century BCE, Elijah supposedly led the struggle against the idolatrous worship of the Phenician god Baal.  This is told in 1 Kings 17-18 and in 2 Kings 2:15, both composed, remember, in the seventh century BCE Jerusalem.  Elijah is featured in the tale of King Ahab of Israel who married Jezebel of Tyre, and built a temple of Baal for her, which led to a contest of “miracles” between Elijah and the “prophets” of Baal.  According to biblical myth, Elijah commanded that no rain or dew was to fall except by his okay.  Three years allegedly passed with no rain or even any dew falling.  Myth disguises that King Ahab is actually the Babylonian storm god who was named Adad.

To pursue this tale further, we must recognize that it is a variation of the Deluge scenario from the Noah myth of Genesis.  According to 1 Kings, chapter 18, God told Elijah to go show himself to King Ahab, and then God would send rain upon the Earth (as Noah was told to get ready before the Flood).  Here the plot deviates somewhat:  Elijah goes to the top of Mount Carmel where  he awaits the rain, and seven times he had to send his servant to look toward the sea (symbol of the Source of Creative energy) for what we might think of as a weather forecast.  Finally, at the seventh try “…the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain” (flooding).  It was then that “…Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel” (1 Kings 18:45).  And so too did Elijah go, who had “…girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab (the storm god) to the entrance of Jezreel;” meaning the passing over into the first dimension of material matter, just as Noah’s landing on Ararat symbolized.  And what happened?  The queen, Jezebel (symbol of energy-substance in early formation of matter) sought to kill the “prophet.”  But Elijah escaped; he withdrew to the “wilderness,” which is always used as the symbol for the pre-physical energy dimensions.  And guess what: he had to stay there for “forty days and forty nights.”

To cut this story summary short, Elijah was told by God to return—just as Moses had been told to leave the unfulfilling conditions of Egypt and renew the movement through the wilderness to continue the process of energy evolving as matter, i.e. the promised land.  Having demonstrated the supremacy of the god Yahweh over Baal, according to the priest-authors, Elijah then had the “prophets” of  Baal put to death.  Typically, the Hebrew priest account implies that omnipotent, omniscient creative power likes to indulge in fiddling around in the political affairs of one tiny region on planet Earth—Israel.  And a later episode tells of Elijah having 102 innocent soldiers burned alive, for following orders to take the “prophet” into custody.  This is the character that is hailed by some Christians as the precursor of the Messiah—a claim based only on the myth of Elijah being carried to heaven in a chariot of fire (a symbol of the sun).

Elisha.  Elisha’s name is Hebrew meaning “God is deliverance.”  The death of this alleged “prophet” is traditionally set in the 8th century BCE.  Elisha was portrayed as having been a farmer who was chosen by Elijah to be his disciple.  When Elijah supposedly ascended to heaven in his fiery chariot he cast his mantle upon Elisha to indicate that Elisha then bore the responsibility of continuing the struggle against the idolatrous Baal cult.  Although Elisha was portrayed as less fervent than his  predecessor, he is credited with attaining much greater political influence through his alleged power to work miracles.   But he, too, had an impulsive murderous streak.  And the tale of Elisha is strangely reminiscent of the Moses/Joshua involvement, even to the point of repeating their miracles.  For example, in 2 Kings 2:14 it says, “And he (Elisha) took the mantle of Elijah that fell  from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the Lord God of  Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over.”  How many Bible interpreters recognize that God separating the “waters” for Creation is repeated in Moses, Joshua, and Elijah myths, and symbolize the same cosmological circumstances?  The initiation of energy toward definition as matter.

Later, after passing over into the intended land (commonly accepted as having taken place c. 896 BCE), bald-headed Elisha trudged his way for fifteen miles from Jericho to Jerusalem.  His “prophet” status got off to a rough start, however, when he was accosted by 42 mocking boys near the town of Bethel who taunted him, “Go up, thou bald head: go up, thou bald head.”  Elisha lost his cool, cursed the youngsters in the name of the Lord, and immediately two bears miraculously appeared and tore all the juvenile delinquents to shreds.  Biblical scholars disagree as to the authenticity of this tale.  (But who could ever doubt it!)  True or not, Elisha using the power of the Lord to destroy 42 youth still amounts to murder.  Thus, not only Elisha but the Lord himself stand guilty of disobeying the Sixth Commandment.

Elisha, nonetheless, is allowed a  passing report card; the reason being that he supposedly allowed himself some compassionate acts later in his “prophet” career.  Priest-authors claim that he made a poisonous spring wholesome, made poison soup palatable and harmless, saved a woman who was deeply in debt from having  to sell her sons into slavery, cured a barren woman and raised her dead son, and other standard miracles.  And Elisha even cured the Syrian king Naaman of  leprosy; this kindness was much appreciated by the king, but not so much by the king’s servant, Gehazi, to whom the ghastly disease was transferred!  Hey, God thought it was okay.

But, as with Elijah, impulsiveness was never abandoned in Elisha’s character.  He is credited with having played a role in two assassinations years later for political reasons.   The first assassination involved Hazael who murdered Ben-hadad (2 Kings 7-15), and the second assassination allegedly took  place after Elisha instigated an uprising following the idolatrous Jehu gaining the throne of Israel (2 Kings 1:37).  It all seems to have amused God, for apparently nothing else on this little planet was worth looking into.

Again it becomes rather obvious why the fundamentalists and those who want the US government to be Bible-based or “God-led” find the holy book so inspiring.  Upon Elisha’s death, traditionally placed c. 841 BCE, the king of Israel is said to have wept copiously for the “prophet,” and the bald man was buried with highest honors.  Holy word remains frustratingly silent as to whether the townspeople of Bethel, where the 42 children were killed, felt the same grief at the “prophet’s” demise.

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10 Responses to “Two Hothead “Prophets” of Scriptural Myth”

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