In the Yalkut Shim'oni on Ⅰ M'lachim 18 (remez 214), we see a bit more of the story found in that chapter of Navi:

Eliyahu's bull continued following him. But the bull that was designated for Baal — all 450 Baal prophets and 400 Ashera prophets gathered but could not move its feet from the earth.

So it was until Eliyahu spoke up and said to the bull, "Go with them."

The bull replied to Eliyahu in view of everyone, "My peer and I came from the same womb and were raised in the same pasture and from the same trough. He's apportioned to God and God's name will be sanctified through him, whereas I am apportioned to Baal to anger my creator!?"

Eliyahu told him, "Go with them; let them not find a complaint. And just as God's name is to be sanctified through this one that's with me, so will it be sanctified through you."

The bull said, "So you advise me? An oath: I will not budge from here until you pass me into their hands."

Immediately, [Eliyahu did so, as verse 26 says,] "They took the bull he'd given them" — who'd given it to them? Eliyahu.

If Eliyahu's argument convinced the bull, then why did it require Eliyahu to hand it over? If, alternatively, the argument didn't convince it, then why would Eliyahu's handing it over help any, that it allowed itself to be offered to Baal on that condition?

  • Accountability, perhaps? So you say Elijah. If you're so sure that I too will sanctify Gd's name, hand me over to them yourself.
    – Baby Seal
    Feb 16, 2014 at 7:15
  • I heard in the name of the arizal that those 2 bulls were gilgulim of datan v'aviram and that this was their tikun. perhaps Eliyahu handing them over was part of their full tikun somehow.
    – ray
    Feb 16, 2014 at 9:22

1 Answer 1


The Kli Yakar there asks this question on the Midrash, and explains that although the bull understood from the very beginning that his going to the Ba'al would result in a sanctification of Hashem's name - it was nonetheless hesitant to go, as it was worried that by going over to the side of impurity it would become negatively affected. The bull therefore replied that although it accepted Eliyahu's argument, it still wished that the prophet would be the one to actually pass him over to them, so that the entire act from beginning to end would be performed as a messenger from Hashem.

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