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 results were surprising. The center-right coalition, led by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, remained in power against the opposition Labor party, which had led in every poll for years."
"Anger seldom works against Trump; he owns the currency and can always issue more of it. In addressing the rogue President directly, or speaking about him in the third person, Pelosi usually adopts a tone that is more sorrowful than angry..."
"I am Mizrahi, as are the majority of Jews in Israel today. We are of Middle Eastern and North African descent. Only about 30% of Israeli Jews are Ashkenazi, or the descendants of European Jews."
"Kids are exposed to plenty of controversial social issues on a daily basis. And if parents don’t want their kids to watch “Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone,” they can turn off the TV."
"Are public-school teachers really underpaid? It’s a claim often made during teacher pay disputes, but the same data and statistical methods that produce the “teacher salary gap” lead to some ridiculous conclusions..."
"Tech companies are getting into the business of making cities. We need to stop Silicon Valley social engineering before things get even worse."
"Having a Library or Cafe Down the Block Could Change Your Life: Living close to public amenities—from parks to grocery stores—increases trust, decreases loneliness, and restores faith in local government."
"“What name . . . shall we give to the darkness of hell...?” The question of how we can name a place such as this is at the center of scholar Scott G. Bruce’s new anthology The Penguin Book of Hell."
"She had all six of her kids — ages 5, 4, 2 (twins) and 10 months (also twins!) in her 10-seater van. To get the kids a quick snack, Curry parked in front of the Cobbler’s Café."
"Nearly three-quarters of those surveyed said they grew up typically eating dinner at a kitchen table, but a little less than half said they do so now when eating at home."
"If you tied a rope tight around the Earth’s equator and then added a single yard of slack, would the extra material make any noticeable difference to someone standing on the ground?"
"While American Jewish women face attacks on our freedom and rising anti-Semitism, abortion opponents are appropriating Jewish history in order to push an agenda that hurts women."