Handout #29: Elijah, Mishnah, Haggadah, sealing power,
Prophets, Joseph Smith, Book of Malachi, History of times, Micaiah and Ahab August 2014
(Hebrew: אֱלִיָּהוּ, Eliyahu, meaning “My God is Yahweh”)[Elisha and the prophets know that Elijah is to be translated—Elijah divides the waters of the Jordan and is taken up into heaven in a whirlwind—The mantle of Elijah falls on Elisha, who also divides the waters of the Jordan—Elisha heals the waters of Jericho—Youths are torn by bears for mocking Elisha. (quoted from scripture)
Elijah was a prophet and a wonder-worker in the northern kingdom of Israel during the reign of Ahab (9th century BC), according to the biblical Books of Kings. Elijah defended the worship of Yahweh over that of the Canaanite god Baal; he raised the dead, brought fire down from the sky, and was taken up in a whirlwind (either accompanied by a chariot and horses of flame or riding in it). In the Book of Malachi, Elijah’s return is prophesied “before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord,” making him a harbinger of the Messiah and in various faiths that revere the Hebrew Bible.
Derivative references to Elijah appear in the Talmud (commentary upon Torah), Mishnah (first major canonical document following Bible), the New Testament and the Qur’an. In Judaism Elijah’s name is invoked at the weekly Havdalah ritual that marks the end of Shabbat, and Elijah is invoked in other Jewish customs, among them the Passover Seder meal and the Brit milah (ritual circumcision). He appears in numerous stories and references in the Haggadah (stories of religious events) and rabbinic literature, including the Babylonian Talmud.
Elijah’s challenge, characteristic of his behavior in other episodes of his story as told in the Bible, is bold and direct. Baal was the Canaanite god responsible for rain, thunder, lightning, and dew. Elijah not only challenges Baal on behalf of his own God, Yahweh, he challenges Jezebel, her priests, Ahab and the people of Israel.
While the final mention of Elijah in the Hebrew Bible is in the Book of Chronicles, the Christian Bible’s reversal of the ordering of the books of the Hebrew Bible in order to place the Book of Malachi, which prophesies a messiah, immediately before the Christian Gospels, means that Elijah’s final “Old Testament” appearance is in the Book of Malachi, where it is written,
“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord.” That day is described as the burning of a great furnace, “… so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.” (Malachi 3:19) Traditionally, in Judaism, this is taken to mean the return of Elijah will precede the Messiah.
This man was an Old Testament prophet who returned in the latter days to confer the keys of the sealing power on Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. In his day, Elijah ministered in the Northern Kingdom of Israel (1 Kgs. 17–22; 2 Kgs. 1–2). He had great faith in the Lord and is noted for many miracles. He prevented rain for three-and-a-half years. He raised a boy
from the dead and called down fire from heaven (1 Kgs. 17–18). The Jewish people still wait for Elijah to return, as Malachi prophesied he would (Mal. 4:5). He remains an invited guest at Jewish Passover feasts, where an open door and a vacant seat always await him.
The Prophet Joseph Smith said that Elijah held the sealing power of the Melchizedek Priesthood and was the last prophet to do so before the time of Jesus Christ. He appeared on the Mount of Transfiguration with Moses and conferred the keys of the priesthood on Peter, James, and John (Matt. 17:3). He appeared again, with Moses and others, on 3 April 1836, in the Kirtland Ohio Temple and conferred the same keys upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery (D&C 110:13–16). All of this was in preparation for the second coming of the Lord, as spoken of in Malachi 4:5–6.
The power of Elijah is the sealing power of the priesthood by which things that are bound or loosed on earth are bound or loosed in heaven (D&C 128:8–18). Chosen servants of the Lord on earth today have this sealing power and perform the saving ordinances of the gospel for the living and the dead (D&C 128:8).
1. Sealed the heavens and was fed by ravens: 1 Kgs.17:1–7;
2. Commanded the widow’s barrel of meal and cruse of oil
not to fail: 1 Kgs. 17:8–16;
3. Raised the widow’s son from death: 1 Kgs. 17:17–24;
4. Defeated the priests of Baal: 1 Kgs. 18:21–39;
5. The still small voice spoke to him: 1 Kgs. 19:11–12;
6. Ascended to heaven in a chariot of fire: 2 Kgs. 2:11;
7. Malachi prophesied of his return in the latter days:
Mal. 4:5–6; ( 3 Ne. 25:5; )
8. Appeared in the Kirtland Ohio Temple in 1836:D&C
Elijah’s story gives us the example of a man raised up by God in a time of conflict in his community, in a time of spiritual and moral degeneracy. He was there to bring the nation back to God, to turn them from their idolatry to a vital faith in the true God, the God of Israel and the Bible. The goal of the narrative and the high point of the story is found for us in 1 Kings 18, the challenge and contest with the prophets of Baal before the people on Mount Carmel.
In two verses, 18:21,37 the story is spelled out. Ch 17 is the preparation for this event, showing God’s preparation of Elijah and the nation for what will happen on Mount Carmel. Ch 19 is the aftermath–the effects of this event on the nation and on Elijah, the hero.
Literary narrative in the Bible tells what happens in life. The hero becomes a model, an example for faith, spiritual experience and life. The conflict he is in becomes an illustration of what we face in life.
Some History of the Time of Elijah: After Jeroboam broke the Jewish Commonwealth into two, there occurred great military and diplomatic changes in the area.
The leading empire at that time was Aram, which is approximately the location of modern-day Syria. There were also two other empires waiting in the wings: Assyria (which is today the western part of Iraq) and Babylon (the eastern part of modern Iraq). The basic sequence of dominance was that Aram would fall to Assyria which would fall to Babylon which would fall to Persia which would fall to the Greeks which would fall to the Romans.
The Jewish State, even when united, was relatively small. It would have been a tall order even when united to retain their independence from Aram. If either Jewish kingdom had any hope to survive they had to forge alliances. Of course, the most natural alliance would have been between them. However, given their history of bitter animosity toward each other it would have been an unnatural alliance. Instead, they went to war against each other.
Judea, led by Avijam, the son of and successor to Rehoboam (I Kings 14:31), captured the southern part of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Jeroboam’s successor and son Nadab was not able to rally his troops against either and a coup broke out against him and he was assassinated. His successor Basha not only killed him but all relatives of Jeroboam’s house. This was common practice in the ancient world. In order to make sure there was no heir the new king eliminated the entire family of the previous king.
Thus ended the tragic line of Jeroboam, as predicted by the prophet (I Kings 14:10). In Judea, when Avijam died his son Asa became king. He reigned for 41 years and conquered the entire territory of the tribe of Naftali as well as the western part of the Galilee. The kingdom of Israel shrank into a very narrow enclave.
When Basha died Elah took over. He was king for only a few months before he was assassinated. This rebellion was led by Zimri, who was promptly assassinated by Omri. As we spoke previously, the entire history of the Northern Kingdom was one assassination after another, one dynasty after another.
Together Omri and then his son Ahab not only stabilized the Northern Kingdom and recaptured everything that was lost but transformed the ten northern tribes into the strongest military power in the Middle East.
However, their dynasty too would end like the others of the pagan-riddled north: Ahab’s son, Jehoram, would be assassinated and his entire house wiped out.
Ahab and Jezebel The Omri-Ahab dynasty represented the epitome of evil in their time. Omri completely drove out all vestiges of Judaism and monotheism in his land. He made the Phoenician and Canaanites deities his state religion, especially worship of the idol Baal. He not only brought in pagan deities but built temples and imported priests of the idol Baal.
Elijah restored to the northern kingdom a concept of God comparable with that held in the days of Samuel. He was kept busy overthrowing the altars of Baal and demolishing the idols of false gods. He carried forth his reforms in the face of the opposition of an idolatrous monarch. When he was called away, his faithful associate, Elisha took up his work, and with the assistance of Micaiah, kept the light of truth alive in Palestine.
In general, the Baalites owned houses, lands and slaves. They were an aristocratic landlord and lived in the cities. Out of this basic difference in regard to land there evolved bitter antagonisms of social, economic, moral and religious attitudes of the Canaanites and Hebrews. This situation began in the time of Elijah and ended with the subsequent and gradual drive toward monotheism. Elijah shifted the Yahweh-Baal controversy from land to religion by making a moral issue of the morals of land ownership. It was really a fight between country folk against domination by the cities. And it was chiefly due to Elijah that Yahweh became Elohim.
Micaiah –(Heb. Who is like Yah?), was the son of Imlah and a prophet in the Hebrew Bible. The events leading up to the appearance of Micaiah are illustrated in 1 Kings 22:1-12 . In 1 Kings 22:3-4 the King of Israel (identified later in the text as Ahab in 1 Kings 22:20) goes to Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, and asks if he will go with him to take over Ramoth-gilead which was under rule by the king of Aram. Jehoshaphat requests that Ahab, “Inquire first for the word of the Lord” (1 Kings 22:5).
Ahab then calls on his prophets and asks if he should go into battle against Ramoth-gilead. Micaiah replies to the messenger that he will speak whatever the Lord says to him (1 Kings 22:14). Micaiah appears before the king of Israel, and when asked if Ahab should go into battle at Ramoth-gilead Micaiah initially responds with a similar prophecy to that of the other prophets. Ahab then questions Micaiah, and insists that he speak nothing but the truth in the name of the Lord. Micaiah then gives a true prophesy, in which he illustrates a meeting of Yahweh with the heavenly hosts.
At this meeting Yahweh asks who will entice Ahab to go into battle so that he may perish (1 Kings 22:19-20). A spirit comes forward, and offers to “be a lying spirit in the mouth of the prophets” (1 Kings 22:22). Therefore, the prophecies of the other prophets were a result of the lying spirit. As a result of this prophecy, Ahab ordered Micaiah imprisoned until he returned from battle, unharmed (1 Kings 22:27).
Perhaps concerned about the prophecy, Ahab disguised himself in battle rather than lead his troops openly as their king. However, Ahab was killed in battle after being struck by a randomly shot arrow. Micaiah’s prophecy was fulfilled, contrary to the word of 400 false prophets, all of whom encouraged Ahab to attack with a prediction of victory. This account is also recorded in 2 Chronicles, Chapter 18.