Ahab stands in his chariot at the head of the procession, just outside of the temple’s gates. He is now dressed like the priests with only a swatch of blood red cloth tied as a loincloth about his waist. He once again admires his appearance. In some clever way, the priests have applied cosmetics to emphasize his muscles and facial features. His entire shaved body has been dusted with powdered gold so that he looks like a life-sized statue of the god himself.
When the parade begins he puffs out his chest and strikes a warrior’s pose. This time he does not wave to his people, but gazes at them with regal authority. His chariot leads the procession of hundreds of priest and prophets. Sixty men carry the pillar of Asherah on their shoulders – a tree carved into the phallic symbol of the Ba’alim. Others are carrying the temple’s golden implements to be used in the ceremonies to come. Finally, twenty men carry the throne where he will sit to preside over the festival.
As he passes in front his harem’s residence near the gate of the city, Ahab’s eyes fall upon a large man, hairy like a bear and wearing a wide leather belt around his ample belly. He almost falls from the chariot, scrambling to regain his balance. When he looks back, the man is gone. It upsets him and he begins to sweat profusely.
The procession flows out the city gates and across the Jezreel Valley to the hill of the sacred grove. Twice more he catches a glimpse of the hairy man in the crowds lining the roadway.
The pillar of Ahserah is erected and he does his obeisance to it, as the rites require. He mounts the thrown while all the people of Israel, it seems, surround the high altar where the priests go about their sacrifices and rituals. Ahab watches with blank eyes, unable to think of anything but the terrifying prophet. Even the subsequent erotic dances of near naked women fail to catch his attention.
At sunset, looking straight ahead lest he again see the hairy man who haunts his mind, he climbs the hill to the place in the sacred grove where he his queen is waiting. There he must consummate the ritual under the holy trees.
Never before has this been such a burden. It all seems sordid and almost repulsive. He comes to Jezebel who is lying in the grass. Her body is painted as his, but with silver. Together they represent the sun and the moon, the sky and the land, the god and goddess whose union will energize the earth and fulfill the cycle of life. “Ridiculous,” he thinks. The seductive things Jezebel is doing to excite him look disgusting. But when he closes his eyes to conjure up something to inspire himself, all he can see is the face of the prophet glaring at him.
In all his life, Ahab has never failed with a woman before this day. Jezebel, with whispered rage, insists they playact for the sake of the people. They make loud grunts and screams of wild passion; but Ahab does not please his wife or the gods.
When the spring rains do not come and the crops fail that summer, Ahab blames himself. Rather, he blames the prophet Elijah for causing him to fail in his duties. Day by day, as the situation worsened, his anger grows toward the prophet.
Ahab commands his soldiers to search throughout Israel for Elijah, and sends messengers to all of the neighboring kingdoms with a reward for the capture of this criminal. But none have seen him nor even know who he is. He is as elusive as the rain.
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