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Elijah, a poem by Rosa Emma Salaman (1849)


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וְהֽוּא־הָלַ֤ךְ בַּמִּדְבָּר֙ דֶּ֣רֶךְ י֔וֹם וַיָּבֹ֕א וַיֵּ֕שֶׁב תַּ֖חַת רֹ֣תֶם אחת [אֶחָ֑ד] וַיִּשְׁאַ֤ל אֶת־נַפְשׁוֹ֙ לָמ֔וּת וַיֹּ֣אמֶר ׀ רַ֗ב עַתָּ֤ה יְהוָה֙ קַ֣ח נַפְשִׁ֔י כִּֽי־לֹא־ט֥וֹב אָנֹכִ֖י מֵאֲבֹתָֽי׃ וַיִּשְׁכַּב֙ וַיִּישַׁ֔ן תַּ֖חַת רֹ֣תֶם אֶחָ֑ד וְהִנֵּֽה־זֶ֤ה מַלְאָךְ֙ נֹגֵ֣עַ בּ֔וֹ וַיֹּ֥אמֶר ל֖וֹ ק֥וּם אֱכֽוֹל׃ וַיַּבֵּ֕ט וְהִנֵּ֧ה מְרַאֲשֹׁתָ֛יו עֻגַ֥ת רְצָפִ֖ים וְצַפַּ֣חַת מָ֑יִם וַיֹּ֣אכַל וַיֵּ֔שְׁתְּ וַיָּ֖שָׁב וַיִּשְׁכָּֽב׃ וַיָּשָׁב֩ מַלְאַ֨ךְ יְהוָ֤ה ׀ שֵׁנִית֙ וַיִּגַּע־בּ֔וֹ וַיֹּ֖אמֶר ק֣וּם אֱכֹ֑ל כִּ֛י רַ֥ב מִמְּךָ֖ הַדָּֽרֶךְ׃ (מלכים א׳ יט:ד-ז)
“But he (Elijah) himself went a day’s journey in the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree; and he requested for himself that he might die, and said, It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am not better than my fathers. And, as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him; and said unto him, Arise, and eat. And he looked, and behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head, and he did eat and drink, and laid him down again. And the angel of the Lord came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise, and eat, because the journey is too great for thee.” (1 Kings 19:4-7)
וַיְהִ֗י הֵ֣מָּה הֹלְכִ֤ים הָלוֹךְ֙ וְדַבֵּ֔ר וְהִנֵּ֤ה רֶֽכֶב־אֵשׁ֙ וְס֣וּסֵי אֵ֔שׁ וַיַּפְרִ֖דוּ בֵּ֣ין שְׁנֵיהֶ֑ם וַיַּ֙עַל֙ אֵ֣לִיָּ֔הוּ בַּֽסְעָרָ֖ה הַשָּׁמָֽיִם׃ (מלכים ב׳ ב:יא)
“And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, which parted them both assunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.” (2 Kings 2:11)

Thou child of God! oh, be it thine to know—
Though sad thy lot, though deep soe’er thy wo,
Though desolate thy path, though weak and lone—
Thy God regards thee, for thou art his own.
Angels are round thee when thou art most drear;
Thy tears they see, thy faintest sighs they hear;
They leave their heavenly Paradise above,
To aid thee with their presence and their love.

There is no spot so sacred, none so blest,
As that whereon the holy people rest.
In grief Elijah laid his weary head
Beneath a tree; when near his lonely bed
A beauteous presence stands, whose radiant form,
Like a bright rainbow after heavy storm,
Betokens peace; so, most serenely bright,
His soul is touched with pure, benignant light.

The lovely form! the mild, majestic mien!
In which a tender sympathy is seen.
“Arise, and eat; the journey is too great,
Thy patience fails thee, trust in God and wait!”
Thus felt, thus looked the messenger divine,
While soft compassion in his face did shine.

Beloved of God! thou dost not comprehend
Thy sacred mission and thy glorious end.
Oh, Israel! seek to know, and thou wilt find
Thy God in every breeze, in every wind.
Like thee, Elijah, was sent forth to prove
“The Lord is God,” and none but He above;
Like thee, Elijah, was oppressed by foes,
With none but God to cling to in his woes;
Like thee, he was discouraged and distressed,
But with His faith, like him thou wouldst he blest.
Oh, wondrous faith! when earth and heaven are thine,
When barren rocks and caves with beauty shine!

Elijah rose; again erect he stands,
And eats the food prepared by angels’ hands;
With heavenly might imbued, he walks along,
And sighs are changed to most melodious song.
How wonderful God’s dealings with his own!
That “still, small voice,”[1] Cf. 1 Kings 19:11-13.  that most angelic tone,
Seemed to Elijah too divinely sweet
To sound on earth, for mortal ear to meet.

He hides his face; but ah! not yet is come
That glorious transit to the prophet’s home.
O child of God! afflicted, think of this,
A day awaits thee, ‘tis a day of bliss,
When God decides if earth or heaven shall be
The fittest place of happiness for thee.
A thousand chariots at his bidding rise
To bear thee up in triumph to the skies;
A thousand “ministers of flaming fire,”[2] Psalms 4:4 
Who wing their way through heaven at his desire.
See, where it comes, the fiery coursers fly,
The gorgeous car is riding through the sky;
His angels, breathless, stand and take their post,
To greet Elijah ‘mongst the heavenly host.
Hark! ’tis shout of triumph! glory shone
A momentary blaze, and he is gone!

The poem, “Elijah” by Rosa Emma Salaman, was written in September 1849 and first published in the Occident 6:7, Kislev 5610, December 1849, p. 455-457.


Click to access Elijah-by-Rosa-Emma-Salaman-from-The-Occident-December-1849.pdf



1Cf. 1 Kings 19:11-13.
2Psalms 4:4



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