1 Könige 17,1-16 (Elia am Bach Kerit und bei der Witwe zu Sarepta) – eine Predigthilfe von Walter Brueggemann: „In a circumstance of extreme scarcity, the prophet speaks lavish abundance. Elijah is, moreover, as good as his word (17:16). No, he is as good as Yahweh’s word, for it is “the word of the Lord” that vetoes circumstance and guarantees abundant life.“

Raben versorgen Elia (Ikone, Nowgorod, 14. Jh.)

In der revidierten Perikopenordnung ist für den 7. Sonntag nach Trinitatis in der dritten Predigtreihe 1Könige 17,1-16 vorgesehen. Da geben die gängigen Kommentarreihen wie ATD oder NEB nicht viel her. Und homiletische Besinnungen fehlen bislang. Was wirklich weiterhilft sind englischsprachige Kommentare, allen voran Walter Brueggemanns Kommentar zu den Königsbüchern (Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary 8). Brueggemann ist selbst ein begnadeter Prediger und steht als emeritierter Professor für Altes Testament in der Tradition von Gerhard von Rad bzw. von Hans Walter Wolff. Hier sein Kommentar zu 1Könige 17,1-7 bzw. 8-16:

Wilderness Beginnings, 17:1-7

The prophet appears to the king in the narrative unannounced and unexplained. His name, Elijah, means “Yah(weh) is my god (el).” His very existence is as assertion that counters the report of 16:31-33 that situates Ahab amidst other gods. Elijah embodies a summons to Yahwism and a dismissal of all other options. His opening assertion concerning a drought sets the confrontational tone for his entire sojourn in Israel (17:2). The assertion of drought may be understood in two ways. First, drought is widely understood in that ancient world as a divine curse. When God is displeased, rain is withheld. Moreover, the assertion that Yahweh will cause a drought is a deliberate refutation of Baal whom Ahab worships, because Baal, a “fertility god,” is a rainmaker (see 16:31-32). But the prophetic assertion challenges that claim by insisting that rain and drought are completely in the governance of Yahweh, and certainly not in the power of Baal. Thus the announcement of drought is a deeply theological affirmation and polemic.

Second, it is the work of the king to assure fertility (and therefore rain). In that ancient world royal responsibility for rain is not unlike contemporary presidential responsibility for the economy. The measure of an effective king is rain that produces corps. In this simple assertion the capacity to administer rain and therefore life is taken from the king. The king is made a political irrelevance, void of any critical function for society. The king is being robbed of his raison d’etre.

Elijah is a man at the behest of Yahweh’s word. Yahweh commands, Elijah is completely and immediately obedient (17:3-6). He is directed by Yahweh to enter the wilderness, to distance himself from all normal life-support systems, to live in a context of extreme vulnerability, to be deeply at risk. He is east of the Jordan, outside the zone of administered life, beyond the sphere of royal control.

He is immediately obedient. He has no regular food supply. He is at the mercy of the elements. He will eat nothing of the luxury of royal food, but subsists on the lean diet that ravens can fly in, matched by water only from the unreliable wadi. The narrative makes nothing of this food arrangement. Perhaps it is a discipline and a testimony. Perhaps it is an exhibit of his obedience. Perhaps it is a narrative strategy for placing the prophet beyond the reach of the king. The narrator tells us none of that.

All that we are told is that the “wadi dried up” (17:7). Even this primitive arrangement of sustenance failed. The concluding sentence may indicate the extremity of Elijah’s situation, and consequently the extremity of royal Israel. Or the verdict may be a verification of the thesis of v. 1. A drought is declared and now a severe drought is enacted. Elijah speaks the truth! The realm is endangered. Clearly the king is in jeopardy, because he is no reliable provider of well-being. The narrative is so straightforward that we may not easily notice how ominous and how subversive it is. We now follow this power-laden figure who lives completely outside royal categories.

Life for Widow and Orphan, 17:8-16

The second episode begins with equal abruptness (17:8-16). Again Elijah is commanded by “the word of the Lord,” for he is a creature of that word (17:8). He is dispatched by Yahweh to Sidon, a territory outside Israel. This note not only asserts Yahweh’s governance beyond the territory of Israel (more territory than King Ahab administers), but Sidon is the home territory of Jezebel (16:31). It is as though this is a counterthrust on the part of Yahweh against the incursion of Jezebel into Israel. Elijah is sent, moreover, to a nameless widow who functions in the narrative as a cipher for the powerless, uncredentialed, disadvantaged, and hopeless. The prophet asks her for water—his wadi has dried up and he needs water! He asks for bread (bread only for the day), for Yahweh has promised that the widow would feed him (17:10-11; cf. v. 9). Her response to the prophet is a measure of her destitution (17:12). She has neither drink nor food to spare. Indeed, she is starving to death; her statement would seem to suggest a critique of king Ahab, for widows and orphans, poor and needy, are the peculiar charge of the king.

Thus far, our narrative is only setting the stage for the drama in which the prophet takes command of the scene. His work is in two parts. He makes a lordly speech (17:13-14), and then he enacts the wonder he has just announced (17:15-16). The speech is a characteristic speech of promise. It begins with an assurance: “Do not fear.” This “salvation oracle” is a characteristic formula whereby an utterance of powerful presence alters circumstance. It is spoken against death in order to assure life. It is spoken against exile to assure homecoming. It is spoken against despair in order to assure hope. The speech mobilizes the life-giving power of Yahweh. The assurance is followed by a specific promise of meal and oil that reverses the destitution of the widow and her son. In a circumstance of extreme scarcity, the prophet speaks lavish abundance. Elijah is, moreover, as good as his word (17:16). No, he is as good as Yahweh’s word, for it is “the word of the Lord” that vetoes circumstance and guarantees abundant life. Note well, that the narrative does not explain. It has no curiosity about how this has all happened. It is a wonder! It is an act that draws amazement like a magnet. The story keeps being retold, and the astonishment of the act abides from generation to generation, endlessly amazed that God, through this human agent, can override killing scarcity with lavish abundance.

Quelle: Walter Brueggemann, 1&2 Kings: A Commentary (Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary 8), Smyth & Helwys, Macon, Georgia, pp. 207-211.

Hier der Text als pdf.

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