August 2, the Church celebrates the memory of St. prophet Elijah, one of the most revered saints of the old Testament.
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Elijah the prophet is not just one of the most revered saints in the Orthodox and Catholic Churches. The prophet Elijah is one of the most famous people in the history of mankind. He is revered not only in Christianity and Judaism, but in later Protestant sects and Islam, and the traces of his image are present even in the pagan religions.
We have collected the most interesting facts about the prophet Elijah.
1. Unknown name of the prophet Elijah
We don’t know anything about the origin of Elijah the prophet, his lineage, and even his name may not be a proper name.
“Eliyahu” in Hebrew means “Yahweh is my God”. There is an opinion that is the name of the prophet took to himself during the confrontation with the priests of Baal.
2. The Preacher Of One God
Modern Elijah the king of Israel Ahab and his wife Jezebel were idolaters: they made sacrifices to the pagan deity Baal (Jezebel came from the Phoenicians, who were worshiping him, and she was a priestess) and bowed to the people. Elijah openly denounced the king and the Queen, thus earning the hatred of the latter.
As punishment for the king’s stubbornness to idolatry, the Lord sends the heat. Three years was not from the sky, no rain, no dew. The drought ended only at poromivka the priests of Baal Elijah’s prayer.
It happened under the following circumstances.
Elijah gathered on mount Carmel the people of Israel and the priests of Baal and offered to put two of the altar — God and Baal, and to bring sacrifices on them, but not to burn it. If Baal to consume their sacrifice with fire from heaven, he is the true God. If the Lord is the true God He is.
Baal, of course, of his victim “did not accept”. God consumed not only the sacrifice but the wood, the stone altar and even the moat, which is on the order of Elijah surrounded the altar.
The people of Israel repented and praised God, and Elijah had killed all the priests of Baal as those who seduced people. After that, he prayed to the Lord for rain, and the Lord had respect unto his prayer.
3. Live in the sky
According to the Holy Tradition, in the history of mankind there are only three people taken to heaven alive: the Apostle John, Enoch and Elijah.
And if Enoch different interpretations (in the 5th Chapter of Genesis about his departure from the earthly life said vaguely: “he was not, because God took him”), and John we know only from Tradition, the prophet Elijah specifically mentioned in the Bible: “behold, there appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire, and parted them both, and away Elijah in a whirlwind into Heaven” (4 kgs.2:11).
4. Elijah the forerunner of Christ
According to Church tradition based on the prophecy of Malachi: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the day of the Lord, the great and dreadful” (Mal.4:5), the prophet Elijah will be the forerunner of the Second Coming of Christ to earth and be killed for preaching Christ, repeating the fate of John the Baptist, who came “in the spirit and power of Elijah” as the forerunner of the Savior (“Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things; but I say unto you, that Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but did to him whatever they pleased; so shall the Son of man suffer of them” (Matt.17:11-12), says the Christ).
That Elijah is one of the heralds of Christ, testify to his miracles. During the drought that followed the sins of king Ahab and the people of Israel, he settled in the home of the widow of Zarephath, a Gentile by birth — just as Christ came to the lost people of Israel, but, being rejected, was accepted by the Gentiles.
In the widow’s house Elijah raised her only son, who died of illness just as Christ will raise the dead in His life on earth.
Another miracle in the widow’s house — while it was the prophet, does not dry out the jar of oil did not end the flour — anticipates the miracle of the loaves and fishes that the Lord had fed to listen to Him.
5. Elijah — the source of Christ
That Elijah, the greatest of the prophets, the gospel testifies to the fact that only he and Moses had the honor of a conversation with Christ during His Transfiguration on mount Tabor.
There are different explanation why these two prophets shall elect to interview Christ.
First, Elijah, like Moses, had the experience of direct communion with God: Moses received the law of God and talked with God as close as possible for a person — see the “back of God” (ex., 33). Elijah stood face to face before God according to His call, “closing his face his mantle” (3 kgs., 19).
St. John Chrysostom presents a different opinion: “one deceased and the other still not experienced death,” came before Christ in order to show that He “has power over life and death, rules over heaven and earth”.
6. Elijah in Judaism
The tradition of the prophet Elijah as the forerunner of Mashiach (Messiah) existed in ancient, even pre-Christian Judaism, it is saved now. Moreover, it is considered, that Ilya is not just back to earth before the Messiah, but also anoints him king (because the other directions, except directly by God through the prophet, the legitimate king after centuries of a break in the dynasties can not be).
Jewish tradition also maintains that Eliyahu visits the home of every family, welcoming Passover (remembrance of the Exodus from Egypt) — so during the ritual Passover meal on the table leaving the glass for the prophet.
7. Elijah in Islam
The prophet Elijah in the Islamic tradition’s name is the name Ilyas. His biography briefly repeats the biblical biography of the prophet, was taught to worship one God, punished for the worship of the idol Baal.
Some interpreters of the Quran and Islamic scholars believe that the Idris (Enoch), Khidr (the prophet — teacher Moses, is also immortal; in the Bible there is no analog) — other names Ilyas. The eschatological meaning attached to the figure of Elijah in Christianity and Judaism, in Islam there is no. But the belief that he was taken alive to heaven, there is in Islam it is believed that he travels the world with Hidrom.
In later Islamic literature and legends Ilyas generally becomes half-human, half-angel.
8. Elijah in folklore
Due to the fact that according to the prophecy of Elijah for three years, were made the heavens and by his prayer on the ground poured rain, Elijah is often associated with pre-Christian heavenly deities. Not the last role in these associations played a way passing to heaven of the prophet in a chariot of fire.
Already in the Christian era in the fifth century poet Sedulius with the name Elijah linked the Greek sun God — Helios — the more that both of these names are very close in sound (the name “Elijah” in the Greek transcription sounds like “Elias”).
In the Slavic tradition on the figure of Elijah the Prophet was moved some functions to the pagan God Perun the Thunderer. And the people of Komi and is introduced Elijah to the Pantheon of their gods: the prophet Elijah is considered to be the assistant of one of the deity-the demiurge. Its attributes — flint and flint, which he carves the thunder and lightning.
9. The veneration of the prophet Elijah in the Orthodox Rus
The veneration of the prophet Elijah in Russia was spread out before her the baptism of Prince Vladimir. The first Church was built in Kiev during the reign of Prince Igor, was dedicated to the prophet Elijah.
Holy equal to the apostles Princess Olga after his baptism he built the temple, also dedicated to the prophet Elijah in his native village of Vybuty (Pskov oblast).
10. Whose patron the prophet Elijah?
August 2 – “airborne day”. Soldiers in blue berets celebrate their holiday greatly, and those who profess to be Orthodox, not without pride, remember that on the same day the Church remembers the prophet Elijah. Therefore, in recent years the prophet Elijah is often called the patron Saint of the airborne troops.
There is nothing wrong with this calendar symbolism, moreover, that many miracles of the prophet was an old Testament warrior. It is important however not to forget the main thing: the prophet Elijah — the patron of the faithful because he was faithful to Him despite all circumstances, he is the mentor of the lost, for his miracles to teach the erring people, a sample of a chaste life, because he lived in purity, without being married…
Everyone he is close to his own. Because the prophet Elijah, from which we separated the Millennium, is one of the favorite among the people of the saints.
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