Literary Analysis of 1 Kings 19:1 – 21
The story in 1 Kings 19:1-21 is the conclusion of Elijah’s ministry. Because of this, the author introduced the characters in previous chapters. In order to gain an understanding of the characters in the context of the narrative, prior chapters must be consulted. The main characters of the story are Elijah and Yahweh, surrounded by other lesser characters in this specific narrative.
The first two characters mentioned in the story are Ahab and Jezebel. In this narrative, Ahab is merely an agent of transitioning from the prior story about God’s victory on Mount Carmel against Baal to Jezebel’s reaction. On the other hand, the narrative shows Jezebel as a flat character: the powerful, evil, Baal worshiping queen bent on Elijah’s destruction. The ancient reader would have seen implications within the name of the queen herself. Jezebel meant either “Where is the Exalted One?” or “The Prince lives”, the implication of Prince is that of Baal. The messenger who carries Jezebel’s message is merely another agent to continue the story.
The protagonist of this section of Scripture, from 1 Kings 17-19 has been Elijah. In the narrative, he is introduced here and given an even more rounded element of his character. The reader will first find him in 1 Kings 17 as a bold prophet of God sent to announce God’s message. Later, his character will be imbued with compassion and power resulting in provision for the widow and a conduit for God’s power in resurrecting her boy. 1 Kings 18 describes the further bravery and confidence that Elijah has when he confronts a king and the entire nation to a conclusion that leaves Yahweh as the one true God and Baal as a false god. However, 1 Kings 19 pivots Elijah and shows the vulnerable, weak prophet who has come to the end of his rope. As the story progresses, Elijah also proves to be egotistical and self-centered when he claims that he is the last worshiper of God, no better than his ancestors, and trying to get God’s attention by claiming that he wants to die.
The final characters in the narrative are Yahweh and His angel. The angel is another agent to continue the story, but also an element that shows Yahweh’s character. Even with Elijah’s whining, Yahweh still provides for his needs physically, emotionally, and spiritually. The greatest development of God’s character in this story is His being revealed in a whisper instead of the fire, earthquake, and great wind.
The entire narrative of the Elijah story from 1 Kings 17-19 use an almost formulaic plot progression. However, verse 19 repeats an element to show the importance of what is happening in the story. The stages of development for the narratives are “announcement-journey-two encounters-miracle-conversion.” An example of this is seen in 1 Kings 17 and 18 with the different story elements. However, 1 Kings 19 specifically focuses on these points and creates a variation on the developments. The action beginning...