Reading The Text: Haftarah Ki Tisa Part Six

Feb 18th, 2011 by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

Haftarah

“Ahab sent among all the children of Israel and he gathered the prophets to Mount Carmel.” Why is it that Ahab “sent among the children of Israel,” but he “gathered the prophets to Mount Carmel?” It seems that he only had to send a message to the children of Israel but he had to forcibly gather the prophets to the great confrontation. It seems that the prophets of the idols did not want to attend, and Ahab had to forcibly gather them. I suspect that they who “ate as Jezebel’s table,” were not permitted by the queen to attend. There was a split between Ahab and his queen. I suspect, intended by Elijah.However, the children of Israel simply responded to his message to gather.

How long was this part of the story? How long was there between the time that Ahab sent this message out to the children of Israel and the actual confrontation on Mount Carmel? If it was just a few days then how many of the Children of Israel could have gathered? If Ahab wanted all the people from all over his kingdom to attend this great ceremony or confrontation on Carmel he would’ve had to wait a few weeks. Did anything happen during these few weeks?

The story continues “Elijah approached all the people and said, “How long will you dance between two opinions? If God is the Lord, follow him! And if the Baal, follow it!”  How did Elijah address the entire nation? There was no public address system.

It seems to me that Elijah’s message went out to the people the minute Ahab sent a message to them to gather on Carmel: when people received the King’s message “Coming to Carmel for a confrontation with Elijah!” People wanted to know why. They wanted to know what would happen. It is not that Elijah made a public address to the people with his challenge of “THow long,” but that his message went out to the people to gather with Ahab’s. This does not mean that the King included Elijah’s question in the King’s message, but the minute the people received Ahab’s summons they wanted to know what was going to happen, what was the purpose. I believe that Elijah spread his message by answering people as they began to approach; I have a basic question for all the people, “How long will you dance between two opinions?” Elijah’s message spread.

“The people did not answer in a word.” The peoples did not answer with words they answered Elijah by gathering. They did answer by responding to Ahab’s summons to come to Carmel.

We asked earlier whether the people were being primed as we demonstrated Ahab was: The answer is Yes! The time between the summons and the actual confrontation was Elijah’s way of preparing the people for all that was about to happen.

Author Info:
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