The Bible, Elijah and King Ahab — is there a link?

10 10 2007

Okay, this might seem to be a little far fetched but I think it’s interesting.

In the move Chris calls Barnes “captain Ahab, the eye of our rage.” It is an allusion to Moby Dick, but in the Old Testament there is also a “bad guy” called Ahab (even if he’s a king) and his counterpart – Elijah (Elias) the prophet. 

From the source I cannot track back anymore:

QUOTE: In short: Elijah was a hero of faithfulness to God in Israel and a courageous prophet. He was an ascetic, clad in skins and a leather girdle, dwelling in mountain caves. He appeared abruptly when King Ahab executed many priests of God, and announced to him God’s vengeance and the drought. On Mt. Carmel, he overcame the priests of Baal by calling down fire from Heaven. He was persecuted by Jezebel and fled to Mt. Horeb where God consoled him, fed him with bread brought by ravens, and told him to appoint Elisha as his successor. Elijah was carried into heaven in a fiery chariot, while his mantle fell on Elisha.


From Wikipedia:

QUOTE: Elijah (Hebrew: אליהו, Eliyahu, (Christian Arab Name,مارالياس, Mar Elias); also known as Elias and Saint Elias) was a prophet in Israel in the 9th century BCE. He appears in the Hebrew Bible,Talmud, Mishnah, Christian Bible, and the Qur’an. According to the Books of Kings, Elijah raised the dead, brought fire down from the sky, and ascended into heaven on a Chariot 


And here are some quotes from Old Testament that rang a bell (even if it was a distant one)

And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD above all that were before him. (1 Kings, Chapter 16, 030)

And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel? (1 Kings, Chapter 19,018 )

… which reminds me of Barnes accusing Elias of being the cause of problems. Of course Elias saw it in a different way:

And [Elijah] answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim. (1 Kings, Chapter 19:018 )


In the movie Barnes yells “You’re dead, Elias”, in the Bible it’s Elijah who prophesies Ahab’s death on the battlefield. And Ahab dies in a big battle. 
End of similarities.

Ah, yes, one more… a kind of: Elijah didn’t die, but was taken to the Heaven alive, Elias missed his “chariot of fire” and died, but each of them left an apprentice behind, someone who “inherited their spirit” — Elisha in the Old Testament, and Chris in Platoon. The similarity is even clearer in the script, where in the “beautiful night” scene, Elias says: “Sure, [reincarnation] goes on all the time. Maybe a piece of me’s in you now, who knows.” 

This whole connection seems to supply the clear black-and-white characterization of Barnes and Elias, which I don’t agree with, but this is another story.

What puzzled me was the fact that Elijah seems to be much more important figure in religion and culture than one could guess only by what’s written in the Old Testament. So I did a further research about Elijah the prophet “outside of the Bible”.

Wikipedia again:

“The volume of references to Elijah in folklore and tradition stands in marked contrast to that in the canon. His career is extensive, colorful, and varied. He has appeared the world over in the guise of a beggar, scholar. Many of the stories have their origins in the canon while others owe their existence entirely to the minds of their creators.”

Beggar… In Moby Dick, just before embarking Pequod Ishmael meets a beggar who warns him about the ship and captain Ahab. The name of the guy is Elijah.


“No other biblical figure, not even Moses, has enjoyed as much popularity in the Jewish folk imagination as Eliyahu Ha-Navi, Elijah the Prophet. Paradoxically, the biblical prophet of wrath and intolerance bears little resemblance to this popular Elijah, whom later legend transformed into a compassionate champion of the poor and a heralder of the Messiah.”

“John the Baptist declared Jesus to be Elijah reincarnated.”

“Elijah was characterized as peacemaker, recorder of marriages decreed in heaven, blesser of barren women, interpreter of cryptic messages in the torah and Talmud, protector of slaves, the poor and the oppressed. In legends he customarily appears disguised as a beggar or vagabond.”

“The kabbalists elaborated on the supernatural qualities of Elijah, claiming the prophet was originally an angel, created from the Tree of Life.”

Now this is interesting. As I’ve read this, first thing I thought about was the real soldier Elias was based on: Juan Angel Elias. 

And here is even more.

    “Elijah’s miraculous deeds will be better understood if we remember that he had been an angel from the very first, even before the end of his earthly career. When God was about to create man, Elijah said to Him: “Master of the world! If it be pleasing in Thine eyes, I will descend to earth, and make myself serviceable to the sons of men.” Then God changed his angel name, and later, under Ahab, He permitted him to abide among men on earth, that he might convert the world to the belief that “the Lord is God.” His mission fulfilled, God took him again into heaven, and said to him: “Be thou the guardian spirit of My children forever, and spread the belief in Me abroad in the whole world.”

 His angel name is Sandalphon, one of the greatest and mightiest of the fiery angel host.”

more links:
The Bible source online 

PS: Does it all make sense to anyone beside me?


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