Book 1 of Melachim (Kings) chapter 19 verses 3 -4 it says that Elijah Prays for death.

And he saw, and he arose and went for his life, and he came to Beer Sheba which belonged to Judah. And he left his servant there.

וַיַּ֗רְא וַיָּ֙קָם֙ וַיֵּ֣לֶךְ אֶל־נַפְשׁ֔וֹ וַיָּ֕בֹא בְּאֵ֥ר שֶׁ֖בַע אֲשֶׁ֣ר לִֽיהוּדָ֑ה וַיַּנַּ֥ח אֶֽת־נַעֲר֖וֹ שָֽׁם

He went to the desert, a distance of one day's travel, and he came and sat under a juniper and requested that his soul die, He said, "Enough, now Lord take my soul as I am not better than my forefathers."

וְהֽוּא־הָלַ֚ךְ בַּמִּדְבָּר֙ דֶּ֣רֶךְ י֔וֹם וַיָּבֹ֕א וַיֵּ֕שֶׁב תַּ֖חַת רֹ֣תֶם אֶחָ֑ד (כתיב אֶחָ֑ת) וַיִּשְׁאַ֚ל אֶת־נַפְשׁוֹ֙ לָמ֔וּת וַיֹּ֣אמֶר | רַ֗ב עַתָּ֚ה יְהֹוָה֙ קַ֣ח נַפְשִׁ֔י כִּֽי־לֹא־ט֥וֹב אָנֹכִ֖י מֵאֲבֹתָֽי

What was Elijah confused about and why did he pray for death?

1 Answer 1


Elijah is fleeing from Jezebel's death threat. Artscroll brings a few explanations as to why he prayed for death

  • Elijah did not feel safe from Jezebel even in the Kingdom of Judah; someone might inform on him (Ralbag), and she might send assassins to kill him. He had to desire to live that way, so he decided to go to the desert where there was no food; either he would die or God would send him food (Radak), which would be a sign that God had more missions for him

  • Elijah knew that death was inevitable, for no one lives forever. He acknowledged that he was surely not more worthy than his forefathers and, like them, he would die eventually, either on the orders of Jezebel or by the hand of God. He now said that he had accomplished enough in this life ("it is enough!") and he was ready to give up his soul but he prayed that it be taken by God, not Jezebel (Abarbanel)

  • People of high caliber do not wish to live merely to eat and enjoy sensual pleasures. If they cannot perfect their intellect and come closer to God, there is no reason to live (R Yosef Caspi)

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