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Nine Moons » Blog Archive : John the “B” and Elijah » John the “B” and Elijah

John the “B” and Elijah

Don - February 8, 2006

My son and I went to a Bible study group last night.  It was conducted by a very famous Bible expert.

I have purchased his Bible study materials and find them very interesting and helpful.  I have always been frustrated that the church whips thru each book of scripture so we can keep our rotation going.  Our "non-member" friends get to study in great depth, we get to skim.  Anyway this weekly class is going to take 48 weeks just to study Matthew!

Talking about John the Baptist this Bible expert brings up some interesting insights.  Why would some preacher in the wilderness, 20 miles away from Jeresalem, cause such a stir to bring people that far?  Was it his message "Repent – you sinners" (not a great motivational message), "Be baptized" interesting ordainance – but….and "remission of sins", now that’s a good promise except the jews already had temple ordainances to take care of this…so why go 20 miles to see this guy?  Any why would the Jewish leaders send a delegation to question him?

Our Bible expert speculates that part of the reason may have been what John was wearing.  According to him when Elijah was taken into heaven he left his cloak/clothes behind.  This cloak (by some traditions) was taken and stored in the Tabernacle and eventually stored in the Temple.  When John’s father was in the Temple he took the cloak and gave it to his son, knowing the calling his son had and it’s importance.

Therefore people heard about this guy in the wilderness acting like a prophet…calling people to repentence…dressed in Elijah’s cloak.  Now that might be worth walking 20 miles to see.  And the Jewish delegation went to see and asked him specifically if he was Elijah.

I certainly wouldn’t wholeheartedly accept this idea, but I do find it interesting.  He also had many more details that we never get to think about or discuss in our normal church studies.

4 Comments »

  1. The pharisees were probably sent to question him because he was practicing t’villah, or ritual immersion, outside of the confines of the local religious hierarchy, which was considered taboo at the time. But, he was the son of a former high priest. So, he was entitled to be part of the religious hierarchy, but was not, so that presented an obvious dilema for the local religious authorities, particularly given his rather miraculous conception and naming.

    Ritual ablution, or t’villah, what we would call “baptism”, was not an unusual thing to the Jews at that time and it is still practiced today at Yom Kippur and for converts among the more conservative Jewish groups.

    That John Baptist was an Elijah-esque wild man is without question, cf. Luke 1:17, John 1:21-25.

    Comment by Kurt — February 8, 2006 @ 3:14 pm

  2. It will be 12 weeks, dad. 24 sessions with two each week. Still a considerable length, especially in comparison with our what? Few weeks?
    I think it’s fine to do it as is for Sunday school. I just wish there were more institute classes that were “The Book of Zephaniah” or whatever, instead of “Old Testament 2nd half.”

    Comment by Bret — February 8, 2006 @ 6:02 pm

  3. Great post, Don. I added it to our list of blog threads about scripture.

    Comment by Robert C. — February 9, 2006 @ 7:12 pm

  4. There is great speculation regarding John the Baptist’s connection with the Qumron desert community and the Essene’s who probably produced the Dead Sea Scrolls (and who also performed t’villah in their community misvahs). The apocalyptic nature of their writings, along with John’s declaration as “one crying in the wilderness, ‘prepare ye the way of the Lord’”, would certainly have caused a stir among the people and led to a visit by the brethren. That is a much simpler explanation than Elijah’s cloak. Remember, this is the second temple, not Solomon’s temple, which was destroyed and ramsacked by the Babylonians. Not a lot of cloaks left behind.

    Comment by larryco — February 10, 2006 @ 4:29 pm

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