Best Of The Web
“his week’s haftarah (prophetic reading) from 1Kings 18:20-39 offers one of the greatest miraculous action sequences in the entire Hebrew Bible. But it is also set within a larger story of the conflict between the less-than-high-minded king Ahab and the less-than-entirely-stable prophet Elijah—a conflict that illustrates some essential patterns of the prophetic relationship with God, the kings who may not always serve Him, and Israel. At the end of this larger story, not read in the synagogue but essential to understanding the whole, it becomes clear that much more than king-vs.-prophet is involved here. Elijah confronts the Lord, and the response he receives tells you all the reasons why you don’t want a career in prophecy.
The story begins, like all stories in this biblical book, with a sketch of the latest king. Here it is Ahab, who ruled over the northern kingdom of Samaria a few generations after it broke off from the southern kingdom of Judah. While none of his predecessors has won divine favor, Ahab “did what’s wrong in the eyes of the Lord more than all before him,” adopting the practice of his wife Jezebel and worshipping the Phoenician god Baal.
In other words, Ahab is not just the usual bad king—and by comparison with these usual bad kings, most Israeli prime ministers emerge in a highly positive light—but the worst of all. The narrator specifies that even Jeroboam, who split the northern tribes from the southern after Solomon’s death, and who went so far as to make another golden calf to draw people away from the Temple in Jerusalem, did not rival Ahab in wickedness. Together, both books of Kings, and the preceding book of Samuel, tell a single tale of the Lord’s unrelenting effort to cure the Jewish people of idol worship. Ahab, in case you’re wondering, marks the low point of the sequence.
Pitted against Ahab is Elijah the Tishbite, who tells him, “As the Lord God of Israel lives, whom I’ve stood before, there’ll be no dew or rain in these years except when I say so.” That is a declaration of war between the Lord and Ahab, and also the start of the duel between king and prophet. The prophet, like all prophets, is hopelessly outnumbered, and in this case especially so because of the queen’s 450 “prophets” of Baal.”
JJ Editor's Daily Picks
"THE CAPTURE of the last territory controlled by the Islamic State on Saturday was far from a final victory over the movement, as U.S. commanders and diplomats were careful to emphasize."
"How a Gay Teen, an Internet Nazi, and a Late-Night Rendezvous Turned to Tragedy. When self-loathing meets the new age of online extremism."
"Benjamin Netanyahu ignored the intelligence operations of Beijing and Moscow for too long. Now, the Israeli government is finally paying attention, but it could be too late."
"Former Nick Jr. kids are now reckoning with this all-grown-up intrepid explorer, whose obstacles are a lot bigger than Swiper the Fox. And that is a hard pill to swallow."
"At the end of last week, the three-month Treasury bills' yield rose above the yield for 10-year Treasuries for the first time since 2007, prompting warnings that the U.S. is headed for recession later this year or in early 2020."
"A team of researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology attempted to answer some questions about voting with the help of artificial intelligence (AI)."
"The experts I spoke with all said that the internet had changed the way conspiracies spread, but conspiracies, both dangerous and petty, have always been with us."
"Pop culture today is obsessed with the battle between good and evil. Traditional folktales never were. What changed?"
"Trustful parents allow their children as much freedom as reasonably possible to make their own decisions. They trust their children’s instincts, judgments, and ability to learn from mistakes."
"Arugulagate. In 2007, Barack Obama was in Iowa, speaking as a presidential hopeful to a group of farmers who were worried about the stagnation of their crop prices while America’s grocery bills continued to rise."
"To say that information exists in and of itself is akin to speaking of spin without the top, of ripples without water, of a dance without the dancer, or of the Cheshire Cat’s grin without the cat."
"Ted Cruz replaces the Democrats’ muddled manifesto with a clear and unequivocal exploration of the hatred of Jews and its particular evils."