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It is written in 1 Kings Chapter 19 that Elijah went to mount Horeb and was shown three signs: wind, earthquake, and fire.

8 And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meal forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God.
9 And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and He said unto him: 'What doest thou here, Elijah?'
10 And he said: 'I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Thy covenant, thrown down Thine altars, and slain Thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.'
11 And He said: 'Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD.' And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake;
12 and after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.
13 And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entrance of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said: 'What doest thou here, Elijah?'
14 And he said: 'I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Thy covenant, thrown down Thine altars, and slain Thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.'

What is the meaning of these signs that God showed to Elijah?

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My compeletely unsourced understanding which is based entirely on hearsay is that Elijah was excessively zealous, acting as the wind, the earthquake , and the fire, which was misrepresenting the true interaction of Gd with the people, which was faaaaar gentler, as evidenced by the soft voice. Elijah was unwilling or unable to change his approach, which is why he was 'fired', and replaced him with Elisha. – Baby Seal Mar 17 '14 at 3:01
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I sometimes find myself wondering whether God was not in the wind/earthquake/fire, or if Eliyahu couldn't perceive him being in them). It seems like that would affect how we understand what followed. – Monica Cellio May 22 '15 at 15:05
    
@Baby Seal That's a very nice pshat. Reb Dovid Feinstein said in a drasha that chazzal said Eliyahu was in fact Pinchas because it was hard enough to accept there was one zealot, but two?!?! Must be it was the same person:) – user6591 May 22 '15 at 15:34
    
God's objective was to teach Elijah gentleness. God can do all of these terrifying acts, but doesn't espouse Himself to them. rather he uses a soft, gentle voice. Elijah didn't get it and got fired. I think this has been asked before, btw – Baby Seal Jun 29 at 15:40
    
Well. He did quit before he got fired. – TheTribeOfJudah Jul 1 at 1:55

Here is 1 Melachim (Kings) 19:11-12

And He said: "Go out and stand in the mountain before the Lord, Behold! the Lord passes, and a great and strong wind(רוח) splitting mountains and shattering boulders before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake (רעש)-not in the earthquake was the Lord. After the earthquake fire (אש), not in the fire was the Lord, and after the fire a still small sound.

The Malbim here explains it as a prophecy similar to Yechezkel (Ezekiel) 1:4 as his prophecy began

And I saw, and behold, a tempest (רוח) was coming from the north, a huge cloud (ענן) and a flaming fire(אש) with a brightness around it; and from its midst, it was like the color of the chashmal from the midst of the fire.

(He explains that the רעש of Melachim is a רעש הענן, and they are similar. So according to him, it should probably be translated as thunder, not earthquake)

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This answer was posted on a duplicate question and merged hither. – Monica Cellio Jul 7 at 3:05

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