In the process of writing up a summary of last week’s Watchtower, what grabs my attention is the line Elijah freely gives to all future comedians—that Baal is a no-show because he is taking a dump. Starting with that verse:
“And it came about at noon that E·liʹjah began to mock them and say: “Call at the top of YOUR voice, for he is a god; for he must be concerned with a matter, and he has excrement and has to go to the privy.” (1 Kings 18:27)
Most translations, as though run by board-certified prudes, do all they can to obscure the unsavory phrase. Says the King James Version: “And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.
The New International Version: “At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.”
‘Busy’ doing what? A few translators, thinking themselves very risqué, no doubt, nudge toward greater explicitness: “Occupied” (BSV) “Attending to business,” (NASB)
Okay, but again, what kind of business?
“Relieving himself,” says ESV
The Contemporary English Version, shoving aside all decorum, says he is “using the toilet.” One almost expects to hear flushing in the next verse, as though Archie Bunker is upstairs.
“On the potty,” says CLB
Only the New World Translation says what he is doing there.
If you want to hear the unvarnished word of God, who does not shy from earthiness, you read the New World Translation. But if you are even more pure than God, you go to some translation where they go weak at the knees if the text seems to indicate a naughty word. (‘They sh*t their pants,’ as a bold workman of the language would put it, but not as they themselves would.)
The Bible is earthy. God is not squeamish
Don’t get me going on ‘piles.’ One local brother waxed ecstatic in how Jehovah so humiliated Dagon and his worshippers—by requiring them to fashion hemorrhoids from gold in order for the plague to go away. Can you imagine them looking into each other’s rear ends to satisfy themselves on what they looked like in order to make an accurate copy?
Even today, most cultures have no squeamishness on earthy things:
Speaking with a certain missionary and the subject of vomiting and pooping comes up—not as a subject in itself, but in connection with food poisoning, a not infrequent occurrence in her assigned land. “It says something about a culture in which there is a single word for ‘coming out both ends,’” she says.
Somehow—don’t ask me how—modern lands of germ-free progress manage to eliminate the earthiness but keep the filth. See “The Normalization of the F-Bomb.” It reminds me of that verse about people whose throats are like an open grave. Do you have any idea what an open grave smells like a after a week or two?
Elijah mocking the prophets of Baal wasn’t the main thrust of the WatchtowerStudy: ‘Jehovah Watches Over His People.’ (Theme verse: “The eye of Jehovah watches over those fearing him.”—PS. 33:18)—in fact it wasn’t even mentioned. I just got sidetracked.
Someone said during the study itself how if you do everything right, and your doing everything right has been verified by God (consuming the burnt offering whereas Baal could not consume his), you do not expect to be banished and have to run for your life. You expect to be hoisted and carried around on people’s shoulders, have newspaper headlines herald your victory, receive a phone call from the president. You don’t expect the queen to make death threats.
No wonder it messed with Elijah’s head.
So when the article said, “Why, then, did Elijah feel so alone?… The account does not fully explain Elijah’s feelings.” (Para 4) Well, I guess not, but you can make a pretty good stab at it—see above paragraph.
“But what we do know for sure is that Jehovah understood why Elijah felt alone and that He knew exactly how to help him.” (also from paragraph 4)
He runs away. God finally catches up with him, hears him out.
To this he said: “I have been absolutely zealous for Jehovah the God of armies; for the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, your altars they have torn down, and your prophets they have killed with the sword, and I am the only one left. Now they are seeking to take my life away.”
Reinforcing the study article was a video during the midweek meeting of Geo Jackson dealing with the same account, bailing out Elijah in three ways
One: the problem will be solved.
Two: help given in the form of Elisha.
Three: No, you’re not the only one, there’s at least 7K others,
*** Miscellaneous thoughts during the week:
The gruff German grandma down the road loaded me up with enough pears from her tree to last weeks. I was just walking by with headphones on, the way I do, and greeted her as she was crossing the street. Turned out she had just returned from giving a load to people there, also.
My greeting was enough. She pulled me into her yard and made me take some of her pears. However many I took, it was not enough, and I left with a bag as heavy as I could carry. So I brought them to the congregation get-together where several young children who had never eaten pears before dove into them, found them delicious, and probably had the runs for a week.
My wife has called on this women before in the course of her ministry. ‘I don’t think she’s interested,’ she says. ‘She’s gruff, but underneath decent.’ So I told her my wife’s verdict, which I agree with. I’ve been back since for more pears and even some apples.
Huh! I just visited someone who has his Bible collection immediately adjacent to some comic strip collections just so he can explain (‘my wife is so tired of hearing this,’ he says) ‘If it’s not in the Bible, it’s a joke.’
The speaker referred to ‘every time you feed your faith’ and do you know what I heard, living in a land of overweight people?
“Now the servants of the king of Syria said to him: “Their God is a God of mountains. That is why they overpowered us. But if we fight against them on level land . . . .” (1 Kings 20:23)
So they tried them again on the flatlands and they found Jehovah does pretty good there too.
And let us not forget Jezebel trying to make it hot for Naboth, a course of action that necessitates her finding some “good for nothing men.”
Close your eyes and trying to visualize the scene. Picture Jezebel taking out an ad in the classifieds: ”Help wanted: good for nothing men.”
“Um—that would be me,” qualified applicants would reply.
(Yes, the classic. The child says to his mom. Mom if I am good and do a chore for you, will you give me something. She says to her child. " Why can't you be good for nothing like your dad?)
Been spending time with some relatives who refer to GPS as “the woman in the box.” Upon getting lost, it is “You should have listened to the woman in the box.”
****** The bookstore