Good Morning Yamon Ki Yesepar and Nevim Arith Hayomin;
I Kings 17:7: “And it came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land.”
This morning I read a story in People Magazine about the former president of MGM, a young, multi-millionaire who worked his way from selling movie posters up to the position of president of MGM. He was not only a multi-millionaire, but lived the life that most people dream of living; rubbing shoulders with celebrities, driving expensive cars and attending high profile functions like the Academy Awards. Then one day he was in Cambodia trying to help three poverty stricken children when he received a phone call from the agent of a movie star saying that his client was having a melt down because his private jet did not have certain amenities. He looked at the three dirty, starving children living in a garbage dump and made the decision to resign his job and move to Cambodia to start a medical clinic and school.
When I read this story I felt a strong prompting to take a close look at I Kings 17 and it is like I heard this voice in the spirit whisper, look at the other side of the coin.
There was a great drought in the land and God sent his prophet to hide from King Ahab and Jezebel down to Jordan where God feed him and provided water. This was a lot more than most people in the land had. Yet three verses later we learn that the brook dried up.
Did God ever give you something and then sort of like take it away or ask you to give it away? Maybe it was a job that you enjoyed for a while and then you lost the job. Maybe it was a relationship or a financial blessing As Job declared. “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21. The brook dried up because the Lord had to move Elijah onto a new assignment. Old Elijah went from preaching to Kings and noblemen to ministering to one poverty stricken widow.
Yet, did this brook really dry up? I wonder. The word for brook is “nachal” which means a brook, but the word has a double meaning, it also means to give as an inheritance. Water was the source of all wealth in those days, whoever possessed water to feed his livestock and grow crops was wealthy. The world around Elijah was dying of thirst but Elijah had his own private water source, all to himself, his inheritance from God.
So it is possible that Elijah left this comfortable position, food, water, and security, to minister to one poor widow and her son. But if we translate this as “and his inheritance dried up because there was no rain,” who did he give the brook or his inheritance to? He gave it to the ravens.
We learn that God provided him with food from ravens. That is a little strange considering ravens are not kosher. Doves could have done the job just as well. Taking a closer look at this word for ravens, “avarim” we find that it could just as easily be rendered “The Arabians.” The Masorites decided on a vowel pointing that renders this as ravens and the church, for whatever reason, ran with this rendering for the last 1700 years.
But it would make more sense to render this as Arabians. If it were the Arabians who feed Elijah they probably sat around listening to his teachings and spread these teachings throughout the land. This widow woman may have heard the teachings and prayed to God and God sent his prophet to her to care for her and her son.
I like this rendering because it suggests that God just did not deal with the Hebrew people in the Old Testament, but he was always reaching out to all mankind. He had his missionaries and evangelist spreading the word.
But why would Elijah leave such a comfortable position to go a starving village? Maybe for the same reason this former executive left his comfortable position to move to a foreign land to help starving children. He felt ashamed. God gave Elijah a flowing brook of water when practically the rest of the world was dying of thirst. A few Arabians found this brook and also found Elijah. Hearing the stories of Elijah’s God and then knowing he was a fugitive from Jezebel they kept the brook and Elijah a secret lest their new friend and pastor should fall into Jezebel’s hands. Yet when the rains stopped Elijah knew the people of his new friends were dying for lack of water, and he could not share his brook or inheritance without risking capture, he felt ashamed and left so they could gain the full benefit of the brook.
But does not the Bible clearly say this brook or inheritance dried up? Well, that depends on which meaning you use for the word “dried up.” The word is “yavash” which means to dry up but it also has a double meaning which is “to make ashamed.” I think this passage should be rendered not as: “…after a while, the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land,” but as: “…after a while (Elijah) became ashamed of his inheritance, because there had been no rain in the land.” He saw the hardship of his new Arabian friends and knew they kept the brook a secret to protect him, so he left them with his inheritance and went to live among the destitute trusting God for his food and water.
There’s a lesson in there somewhere, but that is between God and I, you find your own lesson, if you choose to accept my rendering.