Elijah prepares the sacrifice at Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18:30-18:35)

“Then Elijah said to all the people. ‘Come closer to me.’ All the people came closer to him. First he repaired the altar of Yahweh that had been thrown down. Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of Yahweh came, saying, ‘Israel shall be your name.’ With the stones he built an altar in the name of Yahweh. Then he made a trench around the altar, large enough to contain two measures of seed. Next he put the wood in order. He cut the bull in pieces. Then he laid it on the wood. He said. ‘Fill four jars with water. Pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood.’ Then he said. ‘Do it a second time.’ They did it a second time. Again he said. ‘Do it a third time.’ They did it a third time. The water ran all around the altar. It filled the trench also with water.”

Elijah wanted everyone to come closer to see what he was doing. First of all he repaired the altar of Yahweh. He erected 12 stones to symbolize the 12 sons of Jacob. However, in fact, Judah and Benjamin were not part of Israel at this time, because they were separated into Judah and Israel. Yahweh had said that Israel was to be the name of Jacob. When the altar was completed, he made a trench around the altar so that 3 times they poured 4 jars of water on the wood that had been prepared for the sacrifice of the cut up bull. Thus there was water all around the altar and on top of it. Clearly he was pointing out that this lighting of a fire would not be easy with the wet wood.

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