The Entreaty To the Idol
In the days of ancient Israel, the nastiest people on earth were the prophets of Baal, who worshipped their terrible god by tossing babies—babies!—into a pit of fire.
Elijah, prophet of the god of Israel, resolved to knock heads with those baby burners. He proposed a contest: He and the prophets of Baal would entreat their respective gods to rain down fire from heaven, and whichever god responded would be worshipped as the Only Real God.
The prophets of Baal went first. They danced and prayed and shouted; they blew their horns and beat their drums. Oddly enough, Baal did nothing. What did he want, blood?
Fine, then: They cut themselves with knives. No dice.
Then it was Elijah’s turn. Elijah’s god did not disappoint, delivering a white-hot fireball that scorched the earth, melted stone and vaporized a ditch full of water. Elijah then executed all 450 of the prophets of Baal, just to tidy up.
This great story features one of the Bible’s few instances of broad, sarcastic humor. Clearly amused by the priests’ inability to contact Baal, Elijah uses words like these to mock them:
“Cry louder, boys! Maybe your god is asleep, or daydreaming! Maybe he’s on vacation! Or maybe your god is on the potty!
Even those solemn Old Testament prophets enjoyed a good laugh, now and then.