July 20, 2014

What Sirach Said About Elijah the Prophet

Below is an excerpt from the Book of the All-Virtuous Wisdom of Joshua ben Sirach, also known as Ecclesiasticus, chapter 48:1-12. Note how this excerpt, written approximately 200 years before the coming of Christ, addresses the Prophet in a manner like most Orthodox hymns to saints. It is a direct address of praise.

Then Elijah the prophet rose up like fire, and his word burned like a torch. He brought a famine upon them, and he reduced their number by his zeal. By the Lord's word he shut up the sky, and in the same way he brought down fire three times.

How glorious you were, Elijah, in your amazing deeds! Who will boast like you can? You raised a corpse from death, from the grave by a word of the Most High. You brought kings down to destruction and dragged the famous from their beds. You heard a rebuke at Sinai and decrees of punishment at Horeb. You anointed kings to bring retribution and prophets to succeed you. You were taken up in a whirlwind of fire and in a chariot of fiery horses. It is recorded that you are ready for the designated times, to calm the judgement of the Lord before it turns to wrath, to turn the heart of a father to his son, and to restore the tribes of Jacob. Blessed are those who saw you and who have fallen asleep in your love, for we will surely live as well.

Elijah was covered by a whirlwind, and Elisha was filled with his spirit.