The Humor of 2 Kings 1

The Humor of 2 Kings 1 May 19, 2005

The story of 2 Kings 1 is undoubtedly meant humorously. Ahaziah falls ill and sends messengers off to consult with Baal-zebub, baal of the flies. On the way, his messengers meet a “baal of hair,” Elijah – right title, wrong god. Yahweh will not allow Ahaziah’s men ever to get to Ekron, for they turn back as soon as Elijah speaks to them. After that, Baal-zebub is just forgotten. Ahaziah doesn’t send another embassy to Ekron, but keeps sending regiments off to Elijah, where they end up fried by fire from heaven. Ahaziah gets to consult a Baal, finally, only it’s not the Philistine Baal-zebub but the Israelite Baal-se’ar. Like his father, Ahaziah is another Saul. Saul too consulted with a false oracle, which was interrupted by a true prophet.

There is a comical futility also in Ahaziah’s cartoonish insistence on sending troops to apprehend Elijah. If 50 men are burned alive the first time, well, then, let’s send fifty more with a demand that Elijah come quickly. That’ll do the trick.


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