Elijah's Cave is nestled at the base of Cape Carmel in Haifa, is an important shrine to many religions, specially for Jewish, Christians and Muslims, the chamber includes the very cave in which the prophet Elijah is believed to have lived and taught.
Important events in the life of the biblical prophet Elijah from 9th century BC are said to have happened in this holy cave. He lived and meditated here before defeating the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel agains the paganism in Israel. Elijah also hid here when fleeing the wrath of Queen Jezebel, wife of King Ahab, and Elijah established his prophet's school here upon his return from Sinai.
“And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the LORD God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word.”
Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “Get away from here and turn eastward, and hide by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.”
So he went and did according to the word of the LORD, for he went and stayed by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook. And it happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land.”
1 Kings 17:1–7 NKJV
“Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. See, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.” So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, indeed a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, “Please bring me a little water in a cup, that I may drink.” And as she was going to get it, he called to her and said, “Please bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.”
So she said, “As the LORD your God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and see, I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.”
And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son. For thus says the LORD God of Israel: “The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the LORD sends rain on the earth.’ ”
So she went away and did according to the word of Elijah; and she and he and her household ate for many days. The bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of the LORD which He spoke by Elijah.
Now it happened after these things that the son of the woman who owned the house became sick. And his sickness was so serious that there was no breath left in him. So she said to Elijah, “What have I to do with you, O man of God? Have you come to me to bring my sin to remembrance, and to kill my son?””
1 Kings 17:8–18 NKJV
“And he said to her, “Give me your son.” So he took him out of her arms and carried him to the upper room where he was staying, and laid him on his own bed. Then he cried out to the LORD and said, “O LORD my God, have You also brought tragedy on the widow with whom I lodge, by killing her son?” And he stretched himself out on the child three times, and cried out to the LORD and said, “O LORD my God, I pray, let this child’s soul come back to him.” Then the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came back to him, and he revived.
And Elijah took the child and brought him down from the upper room into the house, and gave him to his mother. And Elijah said, “See, your son lives!”
Then the woman said to Elijah, “Now by this I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the LORD in your mouth is the truth.””
1 Kings 17:19–24 NKJV
Mount Carmel. It is likely that Mount Carmel, south of the modern port of Haifa, had long served as a boundary between Israel and Phoenicia and was, like many mountains, considered a sacred site. As early as the lists of Pharaoh Thutmose III (fifteenth century), Carmel is probably the one identified as a holy mountain in the vicinity of Acco. It is also the location where Assyrian king Shalmaneser III collected tribute from both Tyre and Jehu of Israel in 841. Carmel actually refers to a mountain range that stretches about thirty miles from the outcropping into the Mediterranean southeast toward Megiddo and stands at the northwestern end of the Valley of Jezreel. It is uncertain which summit in the range is the location of the contest. It is possible that the contest took place at the foot of the mountain rather than on its summit. Sacred mountains usually featured the places of worship at their base rather than at the summit, which would have been considered holy ground inaccessible to the populace. Elijah eventually ascends to the summit to offer his prayer for rain (v. 42).
John H. Walton, Victor H. Matthews, and Mark W. Chavalas, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament, Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2000, 377-378.
Josephus and Mark 1:5; 11:32 agree that John was enormously popular. There is no compelling reason to question the Gospels’ tradition that John was active generally prior to Jesus’ ministry, though the exact chronological relationship of the two cannot be specified. Josephus relates that some Jews thought that Antipas’ execution of John had been avenged by God through the defeat of his army by Aretas IV, probably in 36 C.E. John’s death accordingly preceded this date and probably belongs in the latter half of Antipas’ reign.
Particularly in view of John’s popularity, the Christian tradition that Jesus was baptized by John (and that John was soon arrested thereafter) is open to historical question. It is not clear that Q described Jesus’ baptism by John. Jesus himself must nevertheless have at least heard about John and doubtless approved of him, perhaps even imitating him in some respects.
The exact contents and scope of John’s message are difficult to determine. Josephus presents John as someone who exhorts to virtue, righteousness among fellow Jews, and reverence toward God.
Given the general political and religious climate, there are likely to have been political overtones pertaining to the future of the Jewish people. Whether John used apocalyptic imagery (cf. Q) is uncertain. In any event, Christian tradition has moved John into a much more definite role as precursor of the Messiah and as Elijah.
John’s teaching regarding baptism doubtless involved some discussion of repentance, purity, and forgiveness. Josephus is at pains to deny that the baptism was for forgiveness of sins, while Mark affirms this. Both positions seem to be evolved from an original connection of repentance, baptism, purity, and forgiveness, witnessed also in the writings from Qumran. The controlling idea that forgiveness comes from God will not have been displaced.
The location of John’s activity outside Jerusalem, combined with baptism involving forgiveness, raises the question of to what degree John consciously challenged the Jerusalem priesthood. Increasing evidence for the prevalence of Jewish ritual ablutions renders less likely the thesis that a baptist movement must necessarily have stood in opposition to the temple cult.
“JOHN THE BAPTIST,” Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible, 728.
Mark, Q, and John agree in speaking of a special group of “disciples of John.” Remarkably, these writings witness to the continued existence of this distinct group throughout Jesus’ ministry. The kernel of this group undoubtedly goes back to the lifetime of John. A group of John’s adherents seems to have continued on to rival followers of Jesus even after John’s death. Out of the dialogue, Johannine elements such as fasting and baptism might have been introduced into the nascent Christian faith.
John’s disciples evidently believed John to be the Messiah (Recognitions 1.54.8; 1.60.1–2; John 1). After his execution, they seem to have thought John was hidden away by God to return soon (Mark 6:14, 16; 8:28; Recognitions 1.54.8). In all these aspects John’s movement appears to have established a pattern for the early followers of Jesus.
Bibliography. C. H. Kraeling, John the Baptist (New York, 1951); E. F. Lupieri, “John the Baptist in New Testament Traditions and History,” in ANRW II.26,1 (Berlin, 1993), 430–61; C. H. H. Scobie, John the Baptist (Philadelphia, 1964); R. L. Webb, John the Baptizer and Prophet. JSNTSup 62 (Sheffield, 1991); W. Wink, John the Baptist in the Gospel Tradition. SNTSMS 7 (London, 1968).
“JOHN THE BAPTIST,” Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible, 728.
The Kishon River flows northwest from the northern end of the Jezreel Valley to the Mediterranean just east of Haifa. It is fed from the mountains in the Carmel range and from the hills of Galilee around Nazareth.
John H. Walton, Victor H. Matthews, and Mark W. Chavalas, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament, Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2000, 379.