When Eliahu HaNavi confronted the prophets of Baal and they couldn't deliver, he told them [1Kings 18:27]:

וַיְהִ֨י בַֽצָּהֳרַ֜יִם וַיְהַתֵּ֧ל בָּהֶ֣ם אֵלִיָּ֗הוּ וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ קִרְא֤וּ בְקוֹל־גָּדוֹל֙ כִּֽי־אֱלֹהִ֣ים ה֔וּא כִּ֣י שִׂ֧יחַ וְכִֽי־שִׂ֛יג ל֖וֹ וְכִֽי־דֶ֣רֶךְ ל֑וֹ אוּלַ֛י יָשֵׁ֥ן ה֖וּא וְיִקָֽץ׃

When noon came, Elijah mocked them, saying, “Shout louder! After all, he is a god. But he may be in conversation, he may be detained, or he may be on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and will wake up.”

Rashi says that Baal's "journey" in question is a journey to the bathroom, to relieve himself. Indeed, some translations say that clearly. Most do not. What is the meaning of the Hebrew? Is there uncertainty? What is Rashi's source?

  • Which are you asking - the literal translation of the phrase, or Rashi’s source for this interpretation?
    – DonielF
    Jul 17, 2019 at 21:56
  • Both. Full elucidation of the pasuk. Jul 17, 2019 at 21:58
  • Those are two very different questions. You might want to split them apart.
    – DonielF
    Jul 17, 2019 at 22:03
  • 1
    דרך implies (is short of ) דרך ארץ which hints on various sexual behaviors.
    – Al Berko
    Jul 18, 2019 at 13:02

2 Answers 2


The Hebrew there is derech lo, literally the way is for him. What "way" are we talking about? Rachel complains to her dad that she's in pain because of the way of women (same word, "derech"), so it certainly can be used to refer to biological functions.


According to Aderet Eliyahu on the verse, Rashi was making a drashic interpretation of the verse and was relating Eliyahu's statement to the gemara in Sanhedrin 39a which says:

"The Gemara relates: A certain magus said to Ameimar: From your midpoint and up is in the domain of Hurmiz, the god of good, who created the significant and important parts of the body, and from your midpoint and down is in the domain of Ahurmiz, the god of bad. Ameimar said to him: If so, how does Ahurmiz allow Hurmiz to urinate in his territory? A person drinks with his mouth, which is in his upper half, and urinates from below."

The meaning of this gemara, according to Aderet Eliyahu, is that Ameimar was saying to the magus (Persian priest): You claim that an inherently good entity (Hurmiz) cannot do evil, and yet, he controls the upper part of the body, so that when a person drinks, which goes through the upper part of the body, this water eventually goes does - as urine - to the lower parts, the territory of Ahurmiz, which is a bad thing to do! Were there indeed two entities controlling man, Ahurmiz would never let Hurmiz's liquids reach his domain. From here we see that there can't be two supreme deities, one good and one evil. Likewise, explains the Aderet Eliyahu, Rashi is saying that Eliyahu hinted to them that Baal perhaps went to the bathroom - because he's not an inherently good being as they made him out to be.

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