Elijah the Tishbite, an inhabitant of Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord lives, the God of Israel whom I serve, there will be no dew or rain except by my word. The word of the Lord came to him- Leave this place; turn eastward and go into hiding by the Wadi Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. You will drink from the wadi, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there. He proceeded to do as the Lord had bidden- he went, and he stayed by the Wadi Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. The ravens brought him bread and meat every morning and every evening, and he drank from the wadi. After some time the wadi dried up, because there was no rain in the land. And the word of the Lord came to him- Go at once to Zarephath of Sidon, and stay there; I have designate a widow there to feed you. (I Kings 17-1-9)

Rembrandt’s drawing of Elijah at the brook of Cherith captures the feelings of the forlorn prophet who gazes in the direction of the life-sustaining brook that has run dry. The ravens that God commanded to feed Elijah twice daily have long since gone. The tree has withered and the prophet must now consider his next move. Elijah’s foot is flexed perhaps indicating that he is about to rise and set off for his second destination, Zarephath of Sidon.

Dr. Bryna Jocheved Levy

Photo courtesy of Kupferstichkabinett der Staalichen Museen, Berlin.