Elijah and Horeb - More Questions

Trevor Peterson 06PETERSON at cua.edu
Thu Jun 27 13:11:05 EDT 2002


>===== Original Message From Alastair Haines <haines at alastairs.com> =====
>"How many times does Hashem address Elijah?"

I would say four times: v. 9,, v. 11, v. 13, vv. 15-18

>Is verse 12 telling us that Hashem demonstrates his presence, but
>answers with silence?

I'm inclined to think that Hashem is not in v. 12 at all.

>Elijah gives identical responses in verses 10 and 14 to identical
>questions.
>Is this repetition pre-empted by the repetition of the angel feeding
>Elijah in verses 5 and 7?

I'm not sure, but there could be some relationship.

>There are strong allusions to the Torah that I want to make sense of-
>40 days and nights reminds me of forty years in the wilderness.

Makes sense, especially since he's in the same wilderness, apparently.

>First I want to have a 'feel' for the narrative devices of this
>particular text, though.
>
>Can anyone help me with this?
>For example, similar devices in other narratives,
>or oddities in the formulas used to introduce the words of Hashem in
>this one?

v. 9 vhinne dvar-Hashem elav, vayyomer lo: . . . 
v. 13 vhinne elav qol, vayyomer: . . .

I'd say it's fairly unusual. It's certainly not a standard formula for 
introducing speech. vhinne is meant to grab our attention, often to put us in 
the shoes of the character who's in view (in this case Elijah). We could 
imagine ourselves in v. 13, for instance, having just crept out of the cave 
after everything's gone quiet (too quiet), and then this voice just intrudes 
without warning. (hinne is used to introduce the angel, too.)
>
>In particular, what should I make of the highly structured sequence of
>negations in verses 11 and 12.
>Do they necessarily imply that Hashem *was* in the "qol demama daqqa?"
>Could this be read exactly the other way?
>All sound stopped and Hashem was still not there.

I think you're probably on the right track here. The repitition lulls us into 
expecting the negative, and when we don't find it at the end of the verse, 
something is suspended. (We're left hanging, you might say.) It's quiet. But 
we don't know whether God is there or not. Like Elijah, we've got to go 
outside and have a look around.

>Could verse 13 refer to Elijah hearing the wind, earthquake and fire?

I'm not sure why you'd want to take it back that far. There seems to be a 
clear sequence from one event to the next, until you reach the silence at the 
end. Then the vayyiqtol form has him hearing and going out.

Trevor Peterson
CUA/Semitics




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