The journey towards Horeb (1 Kings 19:4-19:8)

“But Elijah himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die. ‘It is enough. Now, O Yahweh, take away my life. I am no better than my ancestors.’ Then he lay down under the broom tree and fell asleep. Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him. ‘Go up and eat.’ He looked. There at his head was a cake baked on hot stones with a jar of water. He ate and drank. Then he lay down again. The angel of Yahweh came again a second time. He touched him and said. ‘Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.’ He got up. He ate and drank. Then he went with the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God.”

Elijah went a day into the wilderness by himself. He almost seemed to despair since he asked that he might die. Then he fell asleep under a broom tree. An angel of Yahweh, not Yahweh himself, told him to get up and eat, twice. This angel of Yahweh came to tell him of his mission. He had to eat and drink to sustain him on his journey. Thus Elijah got up twice and ate and drunk. He will become like the new Moses. He went to Horeb, which is another name for Sinai. He will do the reverse of Moses and go to Horeb from Judah. Instead of taking 40 years, it will only take him 40 days and 40 nights. Still the parallel of 40 sets him up as special like Moses.

The old prophet at Bethel meets the man of God (1 Kings 13:11-13:19)

“Now there lived an old prophet in Bethel. One of his sons came and told him all that the man of God had done that day in Bethel. He told his father about the words that he had spoken to the king. Their father said to them. ‘Which way did he go?’ His sons showed him the way that the man of God who came from Judah had gone. Then he said to his sons. ‘Saddle a donkey for me.’ So they saddled a donkey for him. He mounted it. He went after the man of God. He found him sitting under an oak tree. He said to him. ‘Are you the man of God who came from Judah?’ He said. ‘I am.’ Then he said to him. ‘Come home with me and eat some food.’ But he said. ‘I cannot return with you, or go in with you. Nor will I eat foot or drink water with you in this place. It was said to me by the order of Yahweh. ‘You shall not eat food or drink water there, or return by the way that you came.’ Then the old prophet said to him. ‘I also am a prophet as you are. An angel spoke to me by the order of Yahweh. ‘Bring him back with you into your house so that he may eat food and drink water.’ But the old prophet was deceiving him. Then the man of God went back with him. They ate food and drank water in his house.”

A local old prophet at Bethel heard about the man of God from Judah who condemned the altar at Bethel from his son. He wanted to know which way the man of God went. He asked his sons to saddle up a donkey. Then he went after the man of God. The holy men, these men of God or prophets play a major role in Israelite life. Here, neither one has a particular name. They are merely described by their calling and their task. The old local prophet caught up to the man of God from Judah who was under an oak tree. When he ascertained that he was the right person, he asked the man of God to return to his house and have something to eat and drink. However, the man of God from Judah said that he could not do that since his mission was to return a different route without eating or drinking. Then the old prophet from Bethel deceived him by saying that an angel of Yahweh had appeared to him to order the man of God to come to his house. The man of God from Judah believed him and went back to his house. They ate and drank together. So now we have conflicting stories about whose side Yahweh is with. The man of God from Judah was clearly from the house of David, while the local Bethel prophet was with Israel. Did God chose sides here?