Haftarah Ki Tisa Part Two
“Obadiah was on the road and behold! Elijah was opposite him; he recognized him and fell on his face and said, ‘Is this you, my master Elijah?’” How strange! The verse already pointed out that Obadiah recognized Elijah, enough for him to fall on his face. Why then, would he ask Elijah, “Is this you?” I believe that Obadiah was asking Elijah, You have been hiding for so long. It is one thing for you to appear before me, it is an entirely difference thing for you to be seen. Are you here to be seen?”
“He said, ‘What is my sin that you deliver your servant into Ahab’s power, to put me to death? As soon as I go from you, a spirit of God will carry you where I will not know, and I will have come to tell Ahab and he will not find you, and he will kill me!” Why would Obadiah think that Elijah would send him on such a mission, to appear to Ahab and tell him that Elijah is there only to disappear?
Obadiah did not understand why Elijah did not come with him. If Elijah had truly come to appear he would have accompanied Obadiah to Ahab, rather then send Obadiah to summon Ahab. He was confused.
“A spirit of God will carry you where I will not know.” Was Obadiah prophesizing, without realizing it, that one day the spirit of God would carry Elijah up to heaven? If so, was there a reason that Obadiah would be granted such a prophecy at this specific moment? Was this moment actually the beginning of Elijah’s departure, being carried to heaven in a stormy wind?
“He said, ‘What is my sin that you deliver your servant into Ahab’s power, to put me to death?” Did Obadiah truly believe that Elijah intended for him to be executed? Did Obadiah suspect that his work as “the one in charge of the household,'” meaning his work for Ahab and Jezebel, meant that he was a sinner and deserved to die?
This would explain Obadiah’s desperate speech to Elijah: “As God, your Lord, lives, there is not a nation or kingdom where my master has not sent to seek you and they have responded, ‘He is not here!’ He had the kingdom or the nation swear that they could not find you. And now you say,’ go tell your master Elijah is here! As soon as I go from you, a spirit of God will carry you where I will not know, and I will have come to tell Ahab and he will not find you, and he will kill me! But your servant has feared God since my youth. Surely my master has been told what I did when Jezebel murdered the prophets of God, and I hid some of the prophets of God, 100 men, 50, 50 men to a cave, and I sustained them with bread and water. And now you say to me,’ go tell your master Elijah is here!’ He will kill me!”
Obadiah is arguing his merit: “I have risked my life to save God’s prophets. How did I sustain 100 men with bread and water? I used my position as the one in charge of the household. I cannot be criticized or punished for serving in Ahab’s palace. I used that position to do good. Does that not matter?”
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