Haifa: Elijah’s Cave
Elijah is considered a prophet by both Judaism and Islam. He served as the inspiration for the birth of the Carmelite Order. According to tradition Elijah lived in a cave on Mt. Carmel during the 9th century, in the reign of King Ahab.
In Judaism, Elijah is a heroic figure. The people of Israel started worshiping the idol Baal (a nature god), at the insistence of Jezebel, King Ahab's wife. Elijah stressed monotheism and said that there was no reality except the God of Israel. As punishment for the worship of Baal he prophesied a great drought, which lasted three and a half years.
According to the story a contest of strength to determine the true deity was held. A sacrificial bull was placed on the altar and four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal called on their god to deliver fire, but to no avail. Then, Elijah's prayers are answered and the bull is consumed by fire. The people take this as a sign and slay the prophets of the false god. Rain begins to fall, ending the drought, and Elijah flees Jezebel's wrath. Later, Elijah is taken up to the heavens in a chariot drawn by fiery horses.
In the Jewish faith Elijah's memory is preserved in a variety of ways. At the Passover Seder a cup of wine is placed on the table, and a door is left open to allow Elijah the Prophet to enter and drink. At every Brit (circumcision ceremony) a seat is set for Elijah. And Jews sing of Elijah at the end of Shabbat, singing "speedily, in our days...along with the Messiah, son of David, to redeem us."
Elijah's Cave is located just a short walk from the National Maritime Museum (the Clandestine Immigration and Naval Museum is just below the National Maritime Museum). The cave is also accessible via a steeply inclined path, from the Carmeilte Church on Stella Maris Rd.
Visiting hours: Sunday-Thursday, 8:00 AM-5:00 PM, Friday, 8:00 AM- 1:00 PM
Entry Fees: Free
Sources: Copyright Text © 2000 Gems in Israel All rights reserved. Reprinted with Permission.