Elijah is almost entirely a figure of his 'biographers' and largely a public person but we have glimpses of his private communing with God when he is fed first by ravens and then by an angel. Usually he is the Deus Ex Machina for kings and common people, a pattern that persists from his first appearance to his death. Later tradition saw him as a g'el (redeemer) rather than just as a prophet (Malachi 4:5-6). The Mount Carmel story depicts him as the faithful successor of Moses in an idolatrous world and the story of Naboth's Vineyard exemplifies his concern for social justice.

In both Jewish and Christian tradition he is the most mentioned biblical figure after Moses, Abraham and David. The idea that the return of Elijah was a necessary precondition for the Messiah was well established in Judaism before Jesus. This explains the reference in John 1:21-27 and his appearance with Moses at the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:3; Mark 9:7; Luke 9:30). The tradition of the ascended Elijah's intervention in human affairs began early with the letter to King Jehoram (2 Chronicles 21:11-20), his involvement with Esther (2 Chronicles 1:10; 7:9) and the "Bird of Heaven" (Ecclesiastes 10:20). He is also invoked to answer difficult intellectual problems; the term Teyqu is an abbreviation for: "The Tishbite will resolve difficulties and problems when he comes."

Elijah appears frequently in the Gospels in the context of Messianic pre-figurement (Matthew 11:14; 16:14; 17:10-12; Mark 6:15; 8:28; 9:11-13; Luke 1:17; 9:8; 9:19) which perhaps accounts for the mistaken understanding of the call of Jesus at the Crucifixion narratives (Matthew 27:45-49; Mark 15:35).

Elijah Chronology:

Partly taken from:

KC iv/07

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