Ahab and Elijah a la Talmud Yerushalmi

yerushalmiSee earlier posts in this series for some background.

Note how in the following source, Chiel is depicted as having a pious streak, or at least perhaps having some thoughts of repentance following his tragedy. Achav, however, quickly squelches Chiel’s attempted positive spiritual thrust.

Yerushalmi Sandhedrin 10:2:

It is written: ‘Eliyahu (Elijah) the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilad, said to Achav (Ahab), ‘As the Almighty, G-d of Israel, before Whom I have stood, lives, there shall be in these years no dew or rain except according to my word!’ (I Kings 17:1). Why is this passage juxtaposed to [the account of the death of Chiel’s sons]? Because the Holy One Blessed is He said to Eliyahu: ‘This Chiel is a prominent person. Go, show him your face. (I.e. Visit him to offer him comfort over the death of his sons.)’ [Eliyahu] said to [the Holy One Blessed is He]: ‘I will not go.’ [The Holy One Blessed is He] said to [Eliyahu]: ‘Why?’ [Eliyahu] said to [the Holy One Blessed is He]: ‘When I go, they will be saying things that anger You, and I cannot bear it.’ [The Holy One Blessed is He] said to [Eliyahu]: ‘If they say a thing that angers Me, whatever you decree, I will uphold.’ He went and found them discussing the verse: ‘Yehoshua (Joshua) swore at that time, saying, ‘Cursed before the Almighty is the man who well get up and build this city, Yericho (Jericho). With [the death of] his firstborn he will lay its foundation, and with [the death of] his youngest he will erect its doors.” [Chiel] said: ‘Blessed is our righteous G-d Who upholds the words of the righteous one (i.e. Yehoshua).’ Achav was there. Achav said to them: ‘Who is greater than whom? Mosheh (Moses) or Yehoshua?’ They said: ‘Mosheh.’ He said to them: ‘In the Torah of Mosheh it is written: ‘Guard yourselves lest your heart seduce [you], and you turn away and serve other gods and bow to them.’ What does it say afterwards? ‘The anger of the Almighty will flare against you, and He will stop up the heavens, and there will be no rain.’ Yet there is no idol in the world that I have not served, and every good and comforting thing in the world has come to me! The words of Mosheh are not upheld, yet [G-d] upholds the words of Yehoshua?’ Eliyahu said, ‘If it is as you say, ‘As the Almighty, G-d of Israel, before Whom I have stood, lives, there will be during these years no dew or rain except according to my word!”

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