I Kings – Chapter 17

Eliyahu HaNavi, Eliyah HaTishbi, Eliyahu HaGiladi

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

Elijah (Eliyahu) was a prophet (navi), who came from Toshav (making him a Tishbi) and lived in Gilad (also making him a Giladi – now you get the song!). Elijah went to Ahab with the following message: I swear by G-d that there will be no rain until I say so. (This was Elijah speaking, not G-d.) G-d then told Elijah to go hide by a certain stream off of the Jordan. Elijah was to drink from the stream and G-d would send ravens with food. (The Talmud in Chulin, 5a, says the ravens stole the food from Ahab.) After a year, the stream dried up, so G-d told him to go to a city called Tzarfas, where a local widow would support him.

When he arrived at Tzarfas, Elijah asked the widow for bread and water. She went to get the water, but she told him that she only had enough flour and oil to prepare one last meal for her son and herself. Elijah assured her that if she fed him, her flour jar and her oil jug would not run out until the rains resumed. She fed him and her oil and flour became never-emptying supplies.

After this incident, the woman’s son became very sick. The Navi says that his breath stopped, but it is unclear whether or not he actually died. In either case, the woman cried to Elijah, who took the boy and laid him on his bed. Elijah cried out to G-d and stretched himself out over the boy and he was revived. He brought the boy back downstairs to his mother and said, “Look, ma’am, your son is alive!” (Modestly, Elijah did not say, “Look what I did!”) Despite the previous miracle of the flour and oil, this miracle enabled the woman to see how great a prophet Elijah truly was.

A clever Rashi on Parshas Noach: The Torah tells us that before sending the dove, Noah tried sending a raven. The raven went back and forth “until the waters dried up” (Genesis 8:7). Rashi quotes the Midrash in Bereishis Rabbah, that this means that the raven was put aside for a different job, namely delivering food to Elijah when “the waters dried up” in our chapter.

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