14 December 1911, Berlin
The prophet Elijah shines forth as one of the most resplendent stars in the firmament of man’s spiritual evolution, and that great illumination which he brought to humanity in olden times has endured even to the present day. The deeds, the characteristics, the greatness of this outstanding personality as portrayed in the ancient Biblical records, make the profoundest impression upon the hearts and feelings of mankind; but, nevertheless, this significant figure appears difficult of comprehension to external history. We are about to consider Elijah from the stand-point of Spiritual Science. Viewed in its light, we find in the very nature of his being an indication that the most important causes and motives underlying the circumstances connected with earthly existence during man’s evolution are not merely dependent upon those ideas that may be consciously apprehended, and the results of which can be recognized externally as forming a part of life’s history; for we learn that those very impulses which move us to actions of greatest import are born within the confines of the soul.
In order that this truth which sheds so great a light upon the world’s history may become clearly apparent to our spiritual vision, we need only recall the fact that Christianity owes its foundation, for the most part, to that profound psychic incident experienced by St. Paul [Saul], which found outward expression in ‘The Vision near Damascus’ (‘Ereignis von Damaskus’), Acts. ix, 3. No matter how much we may argue concerning the reality and nature of this external happening, it cannot be denied that the true origin of Christianity is intimately connected with what then took place in the soul and spirit of that great Apostle and righteous founder of the Christian Faith; and the knowledge and enlightenment which came to him was passed on to mankind through the medium of his flaming words and self-sacrificing deeds. In many other cases it can be proved that primary causes and impulses underlying events which happen during the historical enfoldment of human existence, cannot be identified with normal external occurrences, for their inception may oft-times be traced to the hearts and souls of mankind.
We are now about to consider an example of this very nature in connection with the personality of Elijah and the period in which he lived. Since, however, my lecture must of necessity be both brief and sketchy in character, although treating of a subject covering so wide a field, the question as to how far the matter presented will elucidate and provide new evidence concerning the progress of man’s historical evolution in this special instance must be left for your further consideration, but your thoughts should at all times be guided by the deep promptings of the soul. The object of my discourse is not merely to supply information concerning the personality and significance of the prophet Elijah, its true purport is at the same time to present an example of the manner in which Spiritual Science weighs and regards such matters and, in virtue of the means at its disposal, is enabled to shed fresh light upon facts connected with the growth and development of mankind, which have come to our knowledge through other sources.
With this end in view, we shall employ a special method in dealing with our subject. In the first place, statements that are the result of the investigations of Spiritual Science, and have reference to the personality and significance of Elijah, will be as independent as possible of all connection with the Bible as a source, and such references will only occur when they seem essential in connection with names and descriptions. We shall therefore endeavour to portray all pertinent events first as they actually happened and later draw attention to the manner in which they are depicted in the ancient Biblical records. The occurrences will be set forth just as they are revealed by the researches of Spiritual Science, which researches have formed the basis of the various portrayals presented both in the lectures of this series and in others of previous years. A large number of my audience who, through long years of experience with the methods of Spiritual Science have gained confidence in its power and proved substantiality, will accept from the very first all that I propose to bring forward, and regard it as entirely trustworthy and as the result of conscientious investigation; and this will be the case, even though my subject must of necessity be treated in a somewhat sketchy manner, because an exposition involving detailed proofs would require many hours for its complete presentation. To those of my audience who have had no such experience as I have mentioned, I would suggest that they look upon all that is said concerning the authentic historical narrative that I am about to unfold, as if it were in the nature of an hypothesis, underlying which is a substratum of positive evidence; and I am certain that if they will but do this, and make a reasonable and understanding attempt, in moderation and without prejudice to obtain the required evidence, that all my statements will ultimately receive entire confirmation.
What now has Spiritual Science to say concerning the personality and significance of the prophet Elijah and his period? To understand this we must go back in thought to those ancient Hebrew times when the brilliant epoch that marked the reign of Solomon was passed, and the kingdom of Palestine was enduring many and varied forms of privation. We must recall the troubles of the Philistines and other similar incidents, and transport ourselves in mind to those days when all that formerly constituted a united and centralized monarchy was already divided into the separate kingdoms of Judah and Israel, and King Ahab, who was the son of Omri, reigned in Samaria. Here we have found an opportunity of introducing Biblical names, but we have done so merely for the sake of clarity and corroboration as will often be the case as we proceed.
Between King Ahab, or rather between his father and the King of Tyre and Sidon, there was a close friendship and a sort of alliance had been formed; this compact was further strengthened by the marriage of Ahab with Jezebel, a daughter of the Royal House. I am making use of these names as they are familiar to us from the Bible, and in order that my subject may be more easily understood. We are looking back into an age when that ancient clairvoyant gift which was in general a spiritual attribute of man in primeval times had by no means entirely disappeared among those people who had still retained the necessary and fitting disposition. Now, Queen Jezebel was not only endowed with this gift, but her clairvoyant powers were of a very special order; these however, she did not always employ in ways which were destined to promote that which was good and noble. While we look upon Jezebel as a kind of clairvoyante, we must regard King Ahab as a man who only under exceptional circumstances evinced a faculty in virtue of which the hidden forces of his soul could break in upon his conscious state. In olden times such manifestations were much more in evidence and more widely spread than is the case in these days. There were occasions when Ahab himself experienced visions and presentiments, but never to any marked extent, and they occurred only when he was confronted with some special matter connected with human destiny.
At the time to which I refer, a rumour had spread throughout the land that a remarkable spirit was abroad. In reality, this was none other than he who, in the Bible records, bears the name of Elijah. Few there were among those living, as one might say, in the outer world, who knew precisely in what place the personality that bore this name might be found — nor did they know in what way, or by what means, he exerted so powerful an influence upon contemporaneous people and events. We can perhaps best describe the situation by saying that throughout the widest circles any reference to this mysterious being, or even the mention of his name was accompanied by a thrill of awe, and because of this it was generally felt that this spirit must possess some singular and hidden attribute of greatest import. But no man knew rightly, or had indeed any idea, in what way this unusual quality might manifest, or where it might be sought. Only certain isolated persons, whom we might term initiates, had true knowledge of what was really taking place, and they alone knew where, in the physical world, they might find the outer reality of the actual individual who was the bearer of this mysterious spirit.
King Ahab was also ignorant concerning these matters, but nevertheless he experienced a peculiar feeling of apprehension, and a kind of dread overcame him whenever mention was made of that incomprehensible being, regarding whom the most extravagant notions prevailed, as was only natural under the circumstances. Now, Ahab was that King of Samaria who through his alliance with Tyre and Sidon, had introduced into the ancient kingdom of Palestine a certain religious order which held to outer forms and ceremonies, and found expression through external symbolism — in other words a species of heathenism. Such information concerning the individuality of Elijah as came to the followers of this pagan form of worship must have created in them a strange and peculiar feeling of fear and dismay. For it was evident from what they heard that the Jahveh-religion, as it may be termed, had now indeed come down to them from the by-gone days of the ancient Hebrew people, and was once more active. There was still a belief in One God — in One Great Spiritual Being in the cosmos, Who rules over the superperceptual realm, and Who by means of its forces makes His influence felt, and affects both the evolution and the history of mankind.
It was further realized that the time was approaching when there would be an ever greater and more significant understanding of the Jahveh-Being, among those who were the most advanced and perfect of the descendants of the old Hebrew race. It was well known that in truth the religion of Moses contained the germ of all that one might term the Jehovah-Religion, but this fact had been grasped by the nation in a manner more or less after the fashion of a people yet in a stage of childhood or early youth.
The old faith with its upturned vision toward a supersensible God may only be described by saying: — ‘It can be likened to nought else than to an awareness of contact with that which is invisible and superperceptual, which comes to man when he indeed apprehends and realizes his own true Ego’ — and it was this consciousness of the supersensible which had descended upon the people. But the concept which they had formed, as far as they could form any concept at all, was as we might put it, based upon an attempt to picture to themselves the workings of the God Jehovah, as conceived from their experiences of the external phenomena of life. In those days it was the custom to say that Jehovah acted with regard to humanity, in such a manner that when all nature was luxuriant and fruitful, it was a sign that He was rewarding mankind and showering benefits upon the nation. On the other hand, when the people suffered from want and distress brought about by war, scarcity of food, and other causes, they cried out that Jehovah had turned his face away and was consumed with anger.
At that time about which we are speaking the nation was enduring the miseries caused by a period of dearth and starvation, and many turned aside from the God Jehovah, because they could no longer believe in His works when they saw how He treated mankind, for there was a terrible famine in the land. If, indeed, we can speak of progress in connection with the Jahveh-conception, then the progress destined to be made by these ancient Hebrew people can be characterized in the following manner: — The nation must henceforth form a new Jehovah-concept embodying the old thoughts and ideas, through which must flow a fuller and a higher order of human understanding, so that all might say: — ‘No matter what shall take place in the outer world, whether we live in happiness or are beset with sorrows and privations, we must ever realize that such external events are in no way an evidence of either the wrath or the benevolence of Jehovah. True devotion to God and a proper comprehension of the Jahveh-concept implies that mankind shall at all times gaze upward unswervingly toward the invisible Deity, uninfluenced by the contemplation of outer happenings and things, or the apparent reality of material impressions. And even though we meet with the direst want and affliction, nevertheless, through those inner forces alone which dominate the soul, man shall come to the sure conviction that — HE IS.’
This great revolution in religious outlook was destined to be consummated and wrought through the power of the prophet Elijah [and, as will be seen later, his spiritual force operated at times through the medium of a chosen human personality]. When it is ordained that some great momentous change shall be brought about in the concepts of mankind, as was the case in Elijah’s day, it is necessary in the beginning that there be certain fitting personalities at hand in whose souls can be implanted the germ, so to speak, of those things which it is ordained shall later enter into the history of mankind. The manner in which the seed thus laid finds befitting expression, is ever that of a new impulse and a new force.
If you will not misunderstand my meaning, I would say that it was decreed in accordance with the preordained fate of the nation, that the individuality known as the prophet Elijah should be the chosen one whose soul should first grasp the Jehovah-concept in the form which I have described. To this end it was essential that certain singular and very special forces be called up from the hidden depths of his soul – deep-seated powers as yet unknown to mankind, and unguessed at even by the teachers of that time. Something in the nature of an holy mystical initiation of the highest order, through which might come the revelation of such a God, must first take place in the innermost being of Elijah. It is therefore of the utmost importance, in order to describe in characteristic manner the way in which the Jahveh-concept was instilled into the minds of the people, that we should presently gaze into the soul of that particular human personality in whom the Spirit that was to impart the primary impulse was incarnated, or embodied — that man, who through the nature of his Divine initiation became imbued with all the latent forces of his soul. Forces so vital to one who would strike that first deep fundamental note, which would call forth and make possible the coming Jehovah-conception.
Such [great spiritual] personalities [as Elijah] who are chosen to experience within the soul the first stimulating impress of some momentous forward impulse, stand for the most part, isolated and alone. In olden days, however, there gathered around them certain followers who came from the great Religious Schools, or Schools of the Prophets as they were called in Palestine, and which by other nations have been termed Initiation or Mystery Sanctuaries. Thus we find the prophet Elijah, if we would use this name, also surrounded by a few earnest disciples, who looked up to him in reverence as one exalted far above them. These disciples realized to some extent the true nature and significance of Elijah’s mission, even though, because of their limited spiritual vision, they were unable to penetrate deeply into the soul of their great master. [Now at that time strange events had begun to take place in the land] the people, however, had no idea where the mysterious personality might be found who had brought them about. They could only say: — ‘He must be here, or there, — for something unusual is happening.’
Hence it was that there spread abroad what we might term a sort of rumour (if the word is not misused) to the effect that HE, a prophet, was actually at work, but no man knew rightly where. This uncertainty was due to the exercise of a definite and peculiar influence, which could be exerted by all such advanced spiritual beings as are found among outstanding seers. Viewed in the light of our modern times it is probable that such a statement may appear somewhat grotesque, but those who are acquainted with the singular characteristics of that by-gone age will find it in no way fanciful or extravagant.
All truly exalted spiritual personalities, such as Elijah, were endowed with this specific and highly penetrative quality which made itself felt now here, now there. Not only was the activity of this potent influence manifested in feelings of awe and dread, but there was also a direct positive action, through which it entered little by little into the souls of the people. It there operated in such manner as to cause them to be unable to tell, at times, just where the external form of some great spiritual personality might be found. But the true followers and disciples of Elijah knew well where to seek him, and were further quite aware that his outer individuality might perchance assume a wholly unpretentious character, and come to light in connection with some quite lowly station in earthly life.
It is remarkable that at the time about which I am speaking, the actual bearer of the spirit of Elijah was a close neighbour of Ahab’s, King of Samaria, and the possessor of a small property in his immediate vicinity; but Ahab had no suspicion that such was the case. He sought everywhere for this singular being whose presence was felt so mysteriously throughout the community, and whom he regarded with feelings of awe and wonder, even as did his people. He entirely failed, however, to take into consideration the simple and unassuming land-owner who lived so near him, and gave no thought as to why he should, at times, absent himself, nor where he went on these occasions. But Jezebel [being clairvoyant] had discovered that this unobtrusive personality had actually become the external physical embodiment of the spirit of Elijah; now the knowledge she had thus acquired she did not impart to Ahab, she kept it to herself regarding it as a secret, for reasons which will become apparent later. In the Bible this particular character [upon whose innermost being Elijah’s spirit worked] is known by the name of Naboth. We thus see that according to the investigations of Spiritual Science we must recognize in the Naboth of the Bible, the physical bearer of the spiritual individuality of Elijah.
It was in those days that a great famine came upon the land, and there were many who hungered. Naboth, in certain ways, also experienced want and distress. At times such as these, when not only does hunger prevail, as was assuredly the case in Palestine, but when on every side there is a feeling of infinite pity for those who suffer, the conditions are especially favourable for the entry of the latent soul-forces into one already prepared through destiny or karma. It is alone through these hidden powers of the soul that man may raise himself to the level of such a mission as we have outlined.
Let us clearly picture what takes place deep within the being under such circumstances, and thus gain an understanding of the manner in which Naboth’s soul was affected. In the initial stage there is an inner progressive change or enfoldment, marked by an important period of self-education and self-development. It is most extremely difficult to describe those inner experiences of the soul which tend to raise it to greater spiritual heights, while the personality is becoming imbued with the forces by means of which it shall be enabled to look upon the world of spirit. The power of Divine spiritual vision must next be called into being, in order that there may come therefrom the wisdom necessary to the inception of all vital impulses destined to be implanted in the stream of human evolution. A verbal description is here the more difficult because never once have those who have undergone an experience of this nature, especially in olden times, come to such a state of apperception that they could outline their impressions in a precise and lucid manner. What actually happens may be stated to be somewhat as follows: — The clairvoyant development of the soul is accomplished through different stages. In the case of a being such as Naboth, it would naturally occur that his first inner experience would be the clear apprehension of the following definite concept: — ‘That spiritual power which it is ordained shall descend upon humanity, will now shine forth in me, and I am its appointed receptacle.’ Next would come this further thought: — ‘I must henceforth do all that in me lies, in order that the force within my being may find true and proper expression; and that I may acquire those qualities that shall fit me to cope with every form of trial and experience that may come upon me. Thus shall I know how to impart the power of Divine-Impulse to my fellow men, in proper fashion.’
It is in this way that the spiritual and clairvoyant development of a personality such as I have described must go forward — step by step. When a suitable predetermined stage has been reached, then follow certain definite signs which are noticeable and manifest within the soul. These are also of the nature of inner experiences; they are neither dreams nor visions, for they owe their origin to, and are dependent upon, the soul’s actual growth and unfoldment. Pictorial images appear; these indicate that inner progress has now so far advanced, that the particular personality in question may reasonably believe that his soul has indeed acquired new powers. These images, taken alone, have not necessarily much connection with the reality of those experiences through which the soul is passing. They are merely symbols, such as may come during the sleep state, but in a certain way they are typical symbols, similar to those which occur, under certain conditions, when we have very distinct and positive dreams. For instance, a person suffering from palpitation of the heart, may, during sleep, be under an illusion that heat is emanating from some glowing source, as, for instance, a hot stove. In like manner when the soul has gained this or that special clairvoyant power, then will come corresponding definite experiences in the form of visionary manifestations.
Now, in the case of Naboth, the first event of the above nature brought with it a full realization of all that is implied in the following words: — ‘Thou art the chosen one, through whom it shall be proclaimed that man may still believe in the ancient Jahveh-God; and that he must hold fast to this faith, even though it outwardly seemeth that because of the sore tribulation which has come upon the land, the current of life’s happenings be set against such trust. Mankind must now rest in peace till times may mend — for albeit it is the will of Jahveh the God of old to come with affliction, nevertheless shall man again rejoice — but he must be ever steadfast of faith in the Lord God.’
It was evident to Naboth that this proclamation which should come through him, was undoubtedly the expression of a true and unswerving force, carrying a conviction which lay deep within his soul; and this experience stood out vividly, as something more than a mere vision. Then it was that before his soul there arose an image of God Himself, in that form and manner in which it was within his power to picture Him, and the Presence said: — ‘Go thou to King Ahab, and say unto him; In the God Jahveh must ye have faith, until such time as He may again bring rain upon the earth.’ In other words, until the conditions should improve. Naboth realized the nature of his mission; he knew also that henceforth he must devote himself to the further unfoldment of that power of soul, through which he might apprehend and interpret all that was yet to be presented to his spiritual vision. He then resolved that he would eschew no sacrifice, but as far as in him lay, share in the sufferings of those who were exposed to the greatest measure of want and starvation, during that period. Thus it came about that Naboth also hungered; but he did not seek thereby to rise to a higher spiritual state. Such a procedure, I would mention, is most certainly not to be recommended as a step toward higher spiritual knowledge and understanding. He hungered because of an impulse that made him desire to suffer even as others. Not only did he thus want to share in the common fate, but it was his earnest wish to take upon himself a measure of adversity, greater than that endured by those around him.
The soul of Naboth was given over to unceasing inner contemplation of that God who had revealed Himself to him in the manner described, and his thoughts were ever concentrated upon this Deity. The Spiritual Science of our time would say that throughout his meditations he devoted himself entirely, and of his own free will, to holding this divine concept in the very centre of his soul. That he acted rightly in so doing was made clear to him by a sign which came during an inner vision. This vision was again more positive than any of merely dreamlike character; for an image of that God who dwelt within his soul appeared before him, and it was full of life, and a voice said: — ‘Abide in patience — endure all things — for He who feedeth mankind and thee also will of a surety provide that which thou needest; but thou must ever hold to a true faith in the soul’s eternal life.’ In this vision, which was of greater pictorial reality than any before, it appeared to him [whom we may now, under the singular conditions which prevailed, term Elijah-Naboth] that he was led by a hermit to the brook which is called Cherith, where he concealed himself and drank of the waters of the brook so long as any remained; and that he was nourished, so far as the conditions prevailing at the time permitted, by food which the Lord provided. It further seemed to him during the vision, that through the special mercy of God this nutriment was brought by ravens. Thus did [Elijah-Naboth] receive confirmation of the verity of the most important among those inner experiences which he was destined to encounter. It was next ordained that [Naboth] should pass through a more advanced stage of development in relation to the activities of the hidden soul-forces — and we know that he endeavoured to immerse himself yet more deeply (as we would now explain it) in that condition of intensive contemplation which lay at the foundation of his spiritual progress, the character of which we have already described.
This state of profound meditation fraught with inner-life experiences, assumed the following form — Naboth pondered thus: — ’If thou wouldest indeed become worthy of that mission which shall shine in upon mankind because of this wholly new concept of God’s image, then must thou change utterly the nature of thine inner being, even to the most profound of its forces, so that thou art no more as thou hast been. Thou shalt subdue that soul which dwells in thee, and through those deeper powers which abide therein bring to thine inner Ego a new life, for it may no longer remain as it now is. [Thou must uplift its quality.]’ Under the influence of thoughts such as these [Naboth] worked intensively upon his soul — ever striving within — that he might bring about this essential transformation of his Ego, and thus become worthy to stand in the presence of that God who had revealed Himself before him.
Then came to [Elijah-Naboth] yet another experience which was, however, only in part a vision. But because it was not entirely of the nature of an inner soul-happening, there being other content, it must be regarded as of less spiritual significance. It is ever the pure inner workings of the soul that are of truest and greatest import. In the vision, it appeared to him that his God, who had again manifested, set him upon a journey to Zarepath (I Kings, xvii, 9), and in that place he met a widow who had a son and he there saw represented, or personified, as it were, in the fate of this widow and her son, the manner and way in which he was now to live. It seemed to his spiritual sight that their food was well-nigh spent, and even that which they had was about to be consumed, after which they would die. Then it was that he spoke to the widow as in a dream, as in a vision, using in effect those same words which, day by day, and week by week, throughout his solitary meditations, he had repeated over and over again to his own soul: — ‘Fear not, — from that meal which remaineth, prepare the repast which must be made ready for you and your son, and for me also. In all that may yet come to pass trust alone in that God Who doth create both joy and sorrow, and in Whom we must ever abide in faith.’
In this dreamlike vision it was clearly impressed upon [Elijah-Naboth] that the barrel of meal would not become empty nor would the cruse of oil fail; for the oil and the meal would ever be renewed. It is worthy of note that at this point his whole soul-state which had become, so to speak, fully developed and perfected with regard to his individual character, expressed itself in the vision in such manner, that it seemed to him as if his personality went to live in the upper part of the house which belonged to the widow. But in reality the inner truth was that his own soul had, as one might say, risen to a higher level and achieved a more advanced stage of development.
It next appeared to [Elijah-Naboth], again as in a vision, that the son of the widow lay dead. This we must regard as merely a symbolical representation of the fact that [Naboth] had overcome, and slain, as it were, the Ego which had been his up to that time. Then it was the subconscious forces in his soul cried out: — ‘What wilt thou do now?’ For a while [Elijah-Naboth] stood helpless and perplexed; but he was able to regain his self-control through the medium of that power which had always lived and flowed within his innermost being, and to plunge even yet more profoundly into the consideration of those conditions which now called for such deep and earnest contemplation. It then happened that after the widow’s son was dead, she reproached him. This signifies that his subconscious spirit reproached him, in other words, aroused in him a misgiving of this nature: — ‘My old Ego-consciousness has now left me — what am I to do?’ In the description given of these events it is stated that he took the child unto himself and plunged unhesitatingly still further into the depths of his soul, and we are told that power was vouchsafed to him through which he brought the dead son once more to life. Then did he gain more courage to stimulate and quicken the new Ego, which was now his, by virtue of those qualities which were in the Ego that he had lost.
From that time on [Elijah-Naboth] continued to develop and mature the hidden forces of his soul, so that it might acquire that inner strength necessary to come before the outer world and utter those words which all must hear. But in the first place and above everything, to stand before King Ahab and bring to a crisis the matter which must now be decided, namely, the victory of the new Jehovah-concept as opposed to those beliefs that the King himself accepted, and which, owing to the weakness of the times had become generally acknowledged among the people.
Now, it came about, that while Ahab was making a round of his empire, anxiously observing the signs of want and distress that the personality [whom we have called Elijah-Naboth] approached him; and no man knew from whence he came, certainly the King had no idea. And there was a strangeness in the manner of his speech which affected the soul of Ahab, who was not, however, aware that this man was his neighbour. More strongly than ever did the King experience that feeling of awe and dread which had always come upon him when reference was made to that great spirit known in the Bible as Elijah the prophet. Then it was that the King spoke and said: — ‘Art thou he that troubleth Israel?’ And Elijah-Naboth replied: — ‘No, not I, but thou thyself it is who bringeth misfortune and evil upon the people, and it must now be determined to which God they shall turn.’
So it came to pass that a great multitude of the tribe of Israel assembled upon Mount Carmel in order that final judgment should be made between the god of Ahab and the God of Elijah. The decision was to be brought about by means of an external sign; but such a sign as all might plainly discern and clearly understand. To enter into details concerning these matters at the present time would, however, take us too far. It was arranged that the priests and prophets of Baal, the name by which the god of King Ahab was known, should be the first to offer a sacrifice. The people would then wait and see if the performance of certain sacrificial rites (religious exercises in which the ecstatic priests, through the medium of music and dancing, worked themselves up into a state of singular ecstasy) would lead to any communication or influence being imparted to the multitude. In other words, the people were to judge whether or not, in virtue of inherent divine powers possessed by the priests any sign was vouchsafed of the might and potency of their god.
The sacrificial beast is brought to the altar. It is to be decided if in truth the priests of Baal are endowed with an inner force, such as would stir the multitude. Then Elijah-Naboth raised up his voice and said: — ‘This thing must now be determined — I stand alone while opposed to me are the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal. We shall see how strong is their hold upon the people, and how great is that power which is in me.’ The sacrifice is performed, and everything possible done in order to transmit to the multitude a potent influence from the priests — that all should believe in the god Baal. The ecstatic exercises are carried to such lengths that the hands and other parts of the body are cut with knives until the blood flows, so as to increase still further the awesome character of the spectacle evoked by these followers of Baal, under the frenzied stimulus of the dancing and the music. But behold! there is no sign — for Elijah-Naboth is there, and the spirit within him is at work.
In words all insufficient of expression, one might say, that while Elijah-Naboth stood thus near at hand, he caused a great spiritual power to flow forth from his being, so that he overcame and swept away all things which were opposed to him. In this case, you must not, however, imagine to yourselves the exercise of any kind of magic.
Elijah-Naboth then prepares his sacrifice. He makes an offering to his God, using the full force of his soul, that soul which had passed through all those trials which we have already described. The sacrifice is consummated, and achieves the fullness of its purpose, for the souls and the hearts of the people are stirred. The priests of Baal, the four hundred and fifty opponents of Elijah are driven to admit defeat. They are destroyed in their very souls by that which they had desired, killed, as it were, by Elijah-Naboth — for Elijah-Naboth had won the day!
The above events were in some ways similar to those that I have endeavoured to portray in my book entitled Mysticism and Modern Thought. While speaking of Johannes Tauler, it is there related that for a considerable period during his life he was known as a remarkable and trenchant preacher, and that at one time he gave himself up to a particular form of training; after which, upon his return to the pulpit, he exercised upon one occasion such an extraordinary influence upon his congregation, that we are told some forty persons collapsed and were as if dead. This signifies that their innermost beings were touched, and that they were overcome by the sympathetic action of a special power emanating from that great divine. With such an example before us, we need no longer imagine that the Bible account concerning Ahab and Elijah is a mere exaggeration, for it is at all events entirely confirmed by the researches of Spiritual Science.
What follows as the natural outcome of all these events? I have already described the character and peculiar nature of Jezebel. She was quite aware of the fact that the man who had done all these things was their neighbour, and that he was to be found living close at hand, that is, when he was not mysteriously absent. Now, what did Elijah-Naboth know and realize from that moment? He knew that Jezebel was powerful, and that she had discovered his secret. In other words, he felt that henceforth his outer physical life was no longer safe. He must therefore prepare for death in the near future; for Jezebel would certainly compass his destruction.
Now, King Ahab went home, and as related in the Bible, told Jezebel about those events which had taken place upon Mount Carmel;1 and [Spiritual Science tells us, that] Jezebel said: — ‘I will do unto Elijah that which he did unto thy four hundred and fifty prophets.’ Who could understand these words spoken by Jezebel [and reflected in the second verse of the nineteenth chapter of the First Book of Kings]2 were it not for the investigations made by Spiritual Science, in whose light their meaning seems almost self-evident. [As a result of these researches it is quite clear, and this point has always been obscure, why it was that Jezebel brought about the death of Naboth, when in reality she sought to destroy Elijah. From Spiritual Science, however, we realize that she sent her threatening message to Elijah-Naboth, because in virtue of her clairvoyant powers, she knew full well that the physical body of Naboth was in truth the bearer of Elijah’s spirit. (Ed.)]
It now became necessary for Elijah to form some definite plans whereby he could avoid being immediately done to death as a result of Jezebel’s revenge. He must at once arrange, that in case of this event happening, his spirit could still continue to carry on his teachings, and exert its influence upon mankind. Thus it came about when next he held commune with his soul, and while in a state of intense inner contemplation, that he questioned himself thus: — ‘What shall I do that I may find a successor to fulfil my mission in this physical world, should my death indeed be brought about through the vengeance of Jezebel?’ Then behold! a new revelation came to him, in which his inner vision was directed toward a certain quite definite personality, to whom Elijah-Naboth3 might pass on all that he had to bestow upon mankind — this personality was Elisha. You may think it possible that Elijah had previously known Elisha, whether such was the case or not is a matter of little importance. What is of moment is the fact that it was the Spirit that pointed to the way, and that he heard through an inner illumination these words: — ‘Initiate thou this man into thy secrets.’
We are further told, with that clarity which it marks the statements of Spiritual Science concerning ancient religious records, that Elijah-Naboth had a very special mission to fulfil; and that the Divine element which was about to descend upon Elisha, would be of the self-same Spirit as had heretofore been predominant in Elijah. Now it was in Damascus that Elisha was to be sought, and in that place he would receive this great spiritual illumination, which would come to him in the same way as that glorious Divine Light which flowed in upon St. Paul at a later period. But soon after Elijah had chosen his successor the vengeance of Jezebel fell upon him. For Jezebel turned the thoughts of her lord toward Naboth, their neighbour, and spoke to Ahab somewhat after this fashion: — ‘Listen thou unto me, this neighbour is a pious man, whose mind is filled with ideas concerning Elijah. It would perhaps be well to remove him from this vicinity, for he is one of the most important of his followers, and upon him much depends.’
Now the King knew nothing whatever about the secret which surrounded Naboth, but he was quite aware by this time that he was indeed a faithful adherent of Elijah’s, and gave heed to his words. Jezebel next urged Ahab to try and induce Naboth to come over to his side, either by methods of persuasion or, if necessary, by exercising his power of kingly authority. She said: — ‘It would be a great blow to the schemes and projects of this man, Elijah, if by any means it were possible to draw him away from his intents.’ Jezebel knew quite well, however, that all her talk was the merest fiction; what she really desired was to induce her lord to take some kind of definite and effective action. For it was not this particular move in which she was interested; her mind was bent upon a plot which was to follow: hence the advice which she tendered was of the nature of a subterfuge. After Jezebel had spoken in this manner to Ahab, the King went to Naboth and held converse with him; but behold, Naboth would not regard what he said, and replied: — ‘Never shall those things come to pass which thou desirest.’
In the Bible the position is so represented that this neighbour of Ahab’s is described as possessing a vineyard which the King coveted, and sought to acquire. According to this account (I Kings, xxi, 3), Naboth said to Ahab: — ‘The Lord forbid it me that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee.’ In reality, however, the actual inheritance to which reference is here made was of quite another kind to that which Naboth declined to surrender; nevertheless, Jezebel used this incident as the foundation of her revenge. She deliberately proffered false counsel, in order that the King might be discountenanced and then angered by Naboth’s refusal. That such was the case becomes evident when we read that passage in the Bible (I Kings, xxi, 4), where it is written: ‘And Ahab came into his house heavy and displeased because of the word which Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken to him: for he had said, I will not give thee the inheritance of my fathers. And he laid him down upon his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no bread.’ Think of that! Merely because the King could not obtain a certain vineyard in his neighbourhood, he refused to eat! We can only begin to understand such statements, when we are in a position to investigate the facts which underlie them.
It was at this point that Jezebel took definite steps to bring about her revenge. She started by arranging that a feast be given to which Naboth should be invited, and at which he was to be an especially honoured guest (I Kings, xxi, 12). Naboth could not refuse to be present; and at this feast it was planned that he be afforded an opportunity of expressing himself freely. Now, Jezebel was truly gifted with clairvoyant insight; with the others Naboth could easily cope, with them he could measure forces; but Jezebel had the power to bring ruin upon him. She introduced false witnesses, who declared that Naboth did deny [blaspheme] God and the King’. It was in this manner that she contrived to compass his murder; as is related in the Bible (I Kings, xxi, 13). Henceforth the outer physical personality of Elijah was dead, and no more seen upon the face of the external world.
Now, because of all that had happened the deep forces in Ahab’s soul were stirred, and he was, as one might say, confronted with the grave question of his destiny, while at the same time he experienced a strange and unusual foreboding. Then Elijah, whom he had ever regarded with feelings of awe, appeared as in a vision and revealed to him plainly how the matter stood. Here we have an actual spiritual experience, in which Ahab was accused by the spirit-form of Elijah (subsequent to his death) of having virtually himself murdered Naboth — this Naboth-Elijah. The connection with the latter personality he could but dimly realize; nevertheless, Ahab was definitely termed his murderer. In the Bible we can read the dreadful words which fell upon his soul during that awe-inspiring prophecy, when the spirit-form said: — ‘In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine’ (I Kings, xxi, 19); and then came yet another dire prophetic utterance: — ‘The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel’ (I Kings, xxi. 23).
We now know that these predictions belonged to a class which finds ultimate fulfilment. For subsequently when King Ahab went forth to battle against the Syrians, he was wounded and his blood ran out of the wound into the chariot, and so he died; and when the chariot was being washed dogs came and licked up his blood (I Kings, xxii, 35, 38). Later on, after a further course of events had made Jehu ruler of Jezreel, Jezebel was seen as she stood at a window, and she was seized and thrown down, and dogs tore her in pieces, and actually devoured her before the walls of the city (II Kings, ix, 30 to 37). I have only touched lightly upon these matters, because our time is short and they are of no special importance to us just now. You will find that the subject I am about to consider is of much greater moment.
He whom Elijah-Naboth had elected to be his successor must henceforth develop and perfect his inner being, even as he himself had done; but this spiritual unfoldment was brought about in other fashion. For the pupil it was in some ways less difficult than it had been for his teacher; since all that power which Elijah-Naboth had acquired through constant upward striving was now at his disciple’s disposal, and he had ever the help and support of his great master. Elijah-Naboth influenced Elisha in the same way as the individualities of those who have passed through the portals of death may at times act upon humanity, namely, by means of a special form of spiritual activity emanating directly from the spirit-world. The divine force which thus descended upon Elisha was like in nature to that glorious inspiration which Christ Jesus Himself gave to His disciples after His resurrection. Elisha’s subsequent experiences were directly related to this divine power which continued to flow forth from Elijah, even after his death, and to affect all who might give themselves up to its potent influence. With Elisha, his experience was such that the living form of his great master appeared before his soul, and said: — ‘I will go forth with thee out of Gilgal.’
At this point I shall quote the Bible literally, where it says (II Kings, ii, 1): — ‘And it came to pass, when the Lord would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal.’ Now, Gilgal is not a place or locality, and it is not intended in the Bible that it should be taken as such. The word Gilgal merely signifies — The act of moving in a circuitous path while revolving, as in waltzing [Herum-walzung]. This technical expression refers to the roundabout course of the soul’s life during those periods in which it is incarnated in the flesh, and passes from one physical body to another; that is the true significance of ‘Gilgal’.
It need cause you no surprise that the results obtained through Spiritual Science show that Elisha, in virtue of soul experiences gained through inner contemplation and absolute devotion, was enabled to be in the actual presence of Elijah in a higher state or world. This was made possible, not because of the forces latent in his physical nature, but through those more exalted powers which he possessed. While Elisha was thus uplifted the steps which he must take toward his soul’s development were pointed out to him by the spirit of Elijah, who constantly drew his attention to the difficulties which he would encounter in the path which he must follow. The way led upward and onward, step by step, to a stage where he would first feel himself unified with that divine spirit, ever flowing forth from his great teacher — Elijah.
The names, apparently referring to places which have been chosen [in the Bible at this point such as Beth-el and Jericho (II Kings, ii, 2, 4 )], are not to be taken as designating localities, but in their literal sense, signifying conditions of the soul. For instance, Elijah says: — ‘I will now take me to Beth-el.’4 This statement was made to Elisha in a vision, but to him it was more than a mere vision. Then, again, as if counselling him, the spirit of Elijah spoke and said It were better to remain here’;4 the true significance of which is as follows: — ‘Consider whether thou possessest the strength to go with me further’; [referring to the spiritual path]. The vision then continues with an incident in which we again find something in the nature of an exhortation and warning. All the sons of the prophets who were his colleagues in the spirit stood about Elisha and cautioned him, and those who were initiated into the mystery and knew that at times he could indeed ascend to the higher regions where the spirit of Elijah held converse with him, admonished him, and said: — ‘This time thou wilt not be able to follow Elijah’ — ‘Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head to-day?’ (II Kings, ii, 3). And his answer to those about him was: — ‘Hold ye your peace.’ But to the spirit of Elijah he said: — ‘As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee.’ Then Elijah spoke again and said: — ‘I must now go upon my way to Jericho’ [(II Kings, ii, 4.) ‘Tarry here I pray thee; for the Lord hath sent me to Jericho.’]. Once again this dialogue is repeated [and the word Jordan is introduced. (II Kings, ii, 6)], after which Elijah asks: — ‘What dost thou truly desire?’ The reply which Elisha gave is recorded in the Bible, but in such a manner that we have to drag out its proper meaning, for it is rendered incorrectly. The words are these: — ‘I pray thee let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me’ (II Kings, ii, 9); the actual answer, however, was: — ‘I desire that thy spirit shall enter and dwell, as a second spirit within my soul.’
Now, the essence of Elisha’s request as understood by Elijah was somewhat as follows — Elisha had asked that his soul be stirred to its very depths and quickened, so that he might awaken to a full consciousness of its true relation to the spirit of his master. It could then of its own powers bring about enlightenment concerning spiritual revelation, even as had been the case during the physical life of his great teacher. Elijah spoke again and said: — ‘I must now ascend into the higher realms; if thou art able to perceive my spirit as it rises upward, then hast thou attained thy desire and my power will enter in unto thee.’ And behold it came to pass that Elisha saw the spirit of Elijah as he ‘went up by a whirlwind into heaven’ (II Kings, ii, 11), and the mantle of Elijah fell down [upon him]; which was a symbol denoting the spiritual force in which he must now enwrap himself. Here, then, we have a spiritual vision which indicated, and at the same time caused Elisha to realize that he might now indeed become the true successor of Elijah. In the Bible (I Kings, ii, 15) we read: —- ‘And when the sons of the prophets which were to view at Jericho saw him, they said, The Spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha. And they came to meet him, and bowed themselves to the ground before him.’ This passage points to the fact that the Word of the Lord had become so mighty in Elisha that it was filled with the same force which the sons of the prophets had experienced with Elijah; and they realized that the spirit of Elijah-Naboth did in truth live on in the being of Elisha.
In previous lectures I have described the methods employed by Spiritual Science, and as we proceed they will be yet further elucidated. The foregoing account gives expression to its testimony regarding the actual events which took place in Elijah’s time, and also concerning the impulse to humanity which flowed forth from that great prophet and his successor Elisha. An impulse which ever tended toward the renewing and uplifting of the ancient Jahveh Faith.
It is characteristic of that ancient period, that incidents such as we have portrayed and which could only be understood by the initiated, were represented to the mass of the people (who were quite incapable of comprehending them in their true form) in such a manner as to render them not only intelligible, but at the same time to cause them to work upon, and to influence, the soul. The method to which I refer is that of parables or miracle stories. But what seems to us so truly amazing, in the highest spiritual sense is, that out of such allegorical narratives there should have been evolved an account like that relating to Elijah, Elisha, and Naboth, as told in the Bible.
Now, in those days it was the custom to use the parable form, when speaking to all who could not understand or realize the supreme glory of the impulse which had come from the souls of these Great Ones; spiritual beings who of themselves must first undergo many inner experiences deep hidden from man’s external vision and apprehension. Thus it came about that the people were told, as may be gathered from the Bible, that Elijah lived in the time of King Ahab, and that during a period of famine the God-Jahveh appeared before him and [as Spiritual Science tells us] commanded him to go to the King Ahab and say to him: — ‘As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew or rain these years, but according to my word’ (I Kings, xvii, 1). The account in the Bible continues as follows: — ‘And the word of the Lord came unto him saying: — Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan. And it shall be that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there.’ (I Kings, xvii, 2, 3, 4.) These things came to pass; and when the brook was dried up, God sent Elijah to Zarephath (I Kings, xvii, 9); and ‘in the third year’ he was commanded to set out and appear before King Ahab (I Kings, xviii, 1) and to cause the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal to be called to a final decision (I Kings, xviii, 19). I have previously referred to all this, when presenting the facts as obtained through Spiritual Science.
Next comes a wonderful picture of the events that actually took place on Mount Carmel (I Kings, xviii, 20 to 39), and which happenings I have described. Then follows the story of how Naboth (who was in reality the bearer of the spirit of Elijah) was to be robbed of his vineyard by Ahab; and of how Jezebel brought ruin upon him (I Kings, xxi, 1 to 14). From the Bible account alone, we cannot understand how Jezebel could have possibly accomplished the destruction of Elijah in accordance with her threatening utterance to King Ahab (see this passage), namely: — ‘I will do unto Elijah that which he did unto thy four hundred and fifty prophets’; for the story tells us that she merely compassed the death of Naboth. As a matter of fact, however, she actually brought destruction to the being in whom dwelt at that time the spirit of Elijah; a point which would undoubtedly escape the notice of any ordinary Biblical student — for in the Bible it merely states that Elijah ascended into heaven (II Kings, ii, 11). Now, if, as is intimated in the Bible, Jezebel’s desire was — to do unto Elijah as he had done unto the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal — she certainly accomplished her end and brought about his ruin in a most remarkable manner!5 I would here state that there are some graphic portrayals relative to the dim past which can only be rightly understood when illumined by that bright radiance which flows from the deep sources of spiritual research.
It is not possible in a single lecture to bring forward further evidence and proofs concerning these matters. If, however, those among my audience who may still feel that they cannot look upon the pronouncements of Spiritual Science as other than sheer hypotheses, would but criticize without prejudice, and set about comparing the various statements made with facts obtained through the medium of external science, I should feel entirely satisfied. Although it is true that if spiritual methods of research are not employed, we cannot hope to reach final and positive conclusions, nevertheless, it will be found that the verity of Spiritual Science is confirmed by the results of orthodox scientific investigations, and the proper exercise of the individual intelligence.
When we study the personality and period of the prophet Elijah, it becomes clear that the impulses and primal causes which underlie and bring about human events, are in no way limited to those occurrences which are outwardly apparent, and therefore find a place in the records of external history. By far the most important and significant happenings connected with man’s existence have their actual origin, and are matured as regards a primary stage, within the confines of the soul. The outcome of this fundamental process next finds expression in the outer world, ever spreading its influence further and further among the people. Although in these days it is inconceivable that a mysterious personality such as we have portrayed, and known only through rumour, could dwell in our midst in the guise of a simple and homely neighbour without all the facts becoming known, in olden times such a circumstance was undoubtedly possible. We have learned that throughout all human evolution it is precisely those forces which are of greatest power and intensity that operate in obscure and secret fashion.
From what has been said it is clear that through the influence of the prophet Elijah, man was raised to a higher spiritual level and became more and more imbued with Jahveh thoughts and concepts. We also realize that the life and deeds of that great patriarch, when viewed in the proper manner, must be regarded as forming an epoch of supreme import to humanity. Further investigation and research will assuredly prove that [by means of the methods of Spiritual Science] a new light has been thrown upon the momentous happenings of a bygone age, and on the events which ultimately led to the founding of Christianity. We know that through realities of this nature, born of the Spirit-World, we can draw nearer to an understanding of those fundamental forces and impulses which have been ever active during the evolution of mankind, and therefore appear to us of such great significance and moment. Then with enhanced knowledge we shall realize that, even as these basal factors have operated in remote antiquity, so must they continue to work on in our present period. Never can we read the deep secrets of the life which is around us, if we have no clear concept of the inner nature and purport of those singular events which have taken place in the dim and distant past.
External history, which is garnered solely from the outer world, does not enlighten us concerning things of greatest and most vital import. It is here the words of Goethe so fittingly apply — words which, if but read with a touch of deeper meaning, become as a call to humanity urging mankind to profound inner spiritual contemplation. For it is thus that man may enter upon that quest which alone can spring from the soul’s most hidden depths, and learn to apprehend the Divine Spirit which is, and abides, in all nature.
The wonderful example of the prophet Elijah and his period, as it shines forth in our spiritual firmament, stands as an evidence of the truth of Goethe’s words, which in slightly modified form, are as follows: —
History will not permit that veil to be withdrawn,
Which hides her secrets from the light of our new day.
That which she chooses from thy spirit to conceal,
Canst thou ne’er wrest from parchment script, nor canst thou say,
What message lies secreted ‘neath those mystic signs,
Inscribed on bronze, or fashioned deep in stone or clay.6
In the above lecture, which was delivered in Berlin in 1911, it will be noticed that in some cases the name Elijah-Naboth is found in places where Elijah only is mentioned in the Bible. The reason for this apparent inconsistency becomes at once evident, when we take a general view of the circumstances and singular relation which existed between Elijah, Naboth, and what we might term a duality of being as expressed in Elijah-Naboth. Let us therefore briefly consider the events portrayed in the order in which they took place.
At the time of Ahab, the Hebrew people were for the most part, so far sunk in materialism that there was danger, not only that disaster would overtake them, but that the actual course of the spiritual evolution of mankind might be hindered; and the matter had gone to such a length as to call for Divine intervention. Hence it was ordained that Elijah, whom we must regard as a truly exalted spirit, should descend upon the earth, and that his mission would be to turn the hearts of the people once more to Jehovah, and to determine upon his (Elijah’s) successor. This mission we may look upon as being accomplished in four stages.
At first the spirit of Elijah worked in mysterious ways, for he appeared among the people now here, now there; and no man knew from whence he came. In those olden days the masses were oft-times moved in matters concerning religious thought by engendering feelings of awe and wonder, and by so doing Elijah established a definite and powerful influence among the minds of the Community. He thus prepared the people to witness that sign of the spirit which it was decreed should be vouchsafed. Only through some great manifestation of Divine force could the nation, in that material state into which it had fallen, be brought back to Jahveh, the ancient God of the Hebrews.
In the second stage of Elijah’s mission we come upon the simple land-owner, Naboth. In order to create the utmost possible impression at the time when the supreme revelation of spiritual power should take place, it was essential that a multitude be present, but for this thing to happen it was necessary to gain the consent of the King. Now Naboth lived near to Ahab, and might on occasion obtain audience with him, and in this manner could aid Elijah in the maturing of his plans. Elijah therefore so worked upon the innermost soul of Naboth, that he became ‘the bearer of his spirit’ and did according to his word. Thus did Elijah’s spirit find expression through the outer form of Naboth and bring influence to bear upon the King, that all should be made ready for the people to be gathered together when the moment was at hand for the sign to be given. It is the dual state of Naboth’s being while the spirit of Elijah was dominant and worked within him that has been termed, Elijah-Naboth.
Now, Ahab was not truly clairvoyant and had no suspicion of all that had occurred. On that occasion when he met Elijah-Naboth and said to him: ‘Art thou he that troubleth Israel?’ (I Kings, xviii, 17), he thought it was only Naboth who was speaking, and that it was he who would turn the people against the gods of Baal; for Ahab at that time merely knew of Elijah through indefinite rumour. But it was the voice of Elijah the prophet speaking through Naboth that answered the King — it was Elijah-Naboth that spoke. It is because the ancient writer who portrayed this incident did not realize the singular spiritual and clairvoyant conditions, and therefore did not fully understand the circumstances, that the name of Elijah alone appears in this, as in other Bible accounts connected with the events which took place in those days.
We find a similar difference in the names occurring in the description of the happening on Mount Carmel, when the people were assembled in order to judge between Jehovah and the gods of Baal. It was then that the third stage of Elijah’s mission was fulfilled. In the lecture it states that it was Elijah-Naboth who was present on the Mount, and that it was he who ‘won the day’, but the Bible narrative tells us that it was Elijah himself who overcame the prophets of Baal. The reason for this apparent inconsistency can be seen from the following considerations.
It was Elijah-Naboth, who when all had come, stood forth and said: ‘This thing must now be determined — I stand alone while opposed to me are the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal.’ But Elijah, who was granted special spiritual powers at that moment, so ordered the matter that while the King saw before him merely the outer form of the man Naboth, the people were impressed with the spiritual being and personality of Elijah. In the Bible, the narrator realized the circumstances as the multitude had apprehended them, and therefore spoke only of Elijah, being unaware that at that time, Naboth was ‘the bearer of his spirit’.
Jezebel was not present at Mount Carmel, because she was conscious that she could not cope directly with Elijah. Already through her clairvoyant powers she was cognizant of all that had come to pass, and she knew full well that the spirit of the great prophet would be all-powerful in that place. In other words, she clearly understood that if she went to the Mount she would there have to do with Elijah-Naboth, and not merely with the simple land-owner. She thought, however, that if she could but compass the physical death of Naboth, she might put an end to Elijah’s influence.
Next came the fourth stage of Elijah’s mission. He must seek a successor, and that before Jezebel brought about the death of Naboth, for when the outer form of Naboth should be destroyed, Elijah must return to the Divine Spirit-realms. At that point in the lecture (see this passage) where it states that Elijah communed with his soul and asked this question: ‘What shall I do that I may find a successor to fulfil my mission in this physical world, should my death indeed be brought about through the vengeance of Jezebel?’ he is referring to the material death of Naboth and to the possible premature ending of the impulse he had wrought.
Further, we are told that Spiritual Science states: ‘That Elijah-Naboth had a very special mission to fulfil; and that the Divine element which was about to descend upon Elisha, would be of the self-same spirit as had heretofore been predominant in Elijah.’ And, ‘it was in Damascus that Elisha was to be sought ...’ In the Bible (I Kings, xix, 15, 16) we find these words: ‘And the Lord said unto him [Elijah], Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus ... and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-Meholah shalt thou anoint to be a prophet in thy room.’ The actual command to seek out Elisha was given in a vision to Elijah, as is indicated both in the lecture and in I Kings xix, 12, 13. Spiritual Science, however, tells us that it was Elijah-Naboth who made the journey. And this is quite comprehensible when we realize that in Elijah-Naboth, Elisha in virtue of his advanced spirituality would know and commune with the spirit being of Elijah. Here again it is for reasons similar to those already advanced, that in the Bible the name of Elijah, only, occurs, while in the lecture Elijah-Naboth is mentioned.
In all such cases it will be found, if we but look deeply into the matter, that the statements of Spiritual Science are, in truth, not in any way at variance with those things which are written in the Bible. [Ed.]
Notes for this lecture:
2 This verse is as follows: — ‘Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the Gods do unto me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to-morrow about this time.’
3. See Addendum to this lecture.
5. In this lecture it has been previously stated (see this passage) that, through Elijah–Naboth, the prophets of Baal were ‘destroyed in their very souls by that which they had most desired’. Now Elijah longed that his spirit might continue active in the being of Naboth, and it was this very wish that caused Jezebel to set about his ruin, and thus, as it were, to ‘destroy’ Elijah ‘in his very soul’. It was not merely physical death, to which Jezebel referred when she sent her message to Elijah, as mentioned in the Bible, saying: ‘So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to-morrow about this time,’ (I Kings, xix, 2), but to a kind of spiritual death, which would break for ever that mysterious and sacred union between Elijah and Naboth, which it was her aim to sever. She knew quite well in virtue of her clairvoyant powers, that she could only hope to accomplish this end, and — ‘destroy Elijah in his very soul’ — by bringing about the material dissolution of Naboth, the bearer of Elijah’s spirit. Thus we find, that if we read Jezebel’s message anew, in the light thrown upon it by Spiritual Science, its purport becomes at once intelligible. [Ed.]
‘Geheimnisvoll am Iichten Tag der Gegenwart,
Lässt Geschichte sich des Schleiers nicht berauben.
Was sie deinem Geist nicht offenbaren mag,
Das zwingst du ihr nicht aus Pergamenten
Und nicht aus Zeichen, die eingeschrieben rind
In Erz und Ton und Stein.’