Haftarah Ki Tisa Part Three
Why did Obadiah think that Ahab would kill him if Elijah disappeared? Would the King not trust his servant that Elijah had appeared only to disappear? After all, Elijah had been successfully hiding for almost 3 years.
Obadiah explains his concern: “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.” Ahab did not trust the people when they claimed they did not know where Elijah was hiding. If Obadiah would now come to Ahab and say, “I saw Elijah,” only to have Elijah disappear again, Ahab would suspect that Obadiah had known all along where Elijah was. If he saw Elijah now he must have seen him before. He had been lying all along. That is why Ahab would kill Obadiah.
“Surely my master has been told what I did when Jezebel murdered the prophets of God.” Why was Obadiah so certain that Elijah had been told what he had done to protect God’s prophets? I believe that Obadiah is making a powerful statement to Elijah, one that is actually an argument in the merit of the people. An argument of why the drought should end and the people should no longer suffer:
When Obadiah says to Elijah “surely my master has been told,” he is saying, “Elijah, everyone knew where you were. You were attuned to what was going on. You were living out in the open. The people protected you. They lied to the King. The people risked their lives for you. They have great merit. Not a single person said a word.”
Let’s return to our first question. We asked why God commanded Elijah to make himself seen by Ahab rather than to appear to Ahab? We asked, “What is the difference between ‘being seen’ and ‘appearing’? Obadiah’s last argument in the merit of the people explains the difference between ‘being seen’ and ‘appearing.’ Elijah had to send the message to Obadiah, to the people, and to Ahab, that he was prepared to be seen. Obadiah and the people new where Elijah was. Ahab suspected that everyone knew. The message was that Elijah was prepared to be seen. The time had come to bring everything out into the open.
I find it intriguing that the theme of the chapter so far is about Elijah being seen, when the final test of Elijah’s student Elisha, was whether Elisha could see when Elijah rose to heaven.
We also see that Ahab have to be primed to see Elijah, and probably to see what would follow in the great Confrontation on Mount Carmel. Was there an element of preparing the people as well to see, respond and react to the miracle they were about to witness?