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Elijah's prayer 609 



ELIJAH'S PRAYER. 

(JEHUDA IBN GIAT.) 

The glory of the Lord I will declare 

At eventide, when rose Elijah's prayer, 

What time, the weak and sinful multitude 

From day to day their evil works pursued, 

And those who feared the Lord were sore distress'd, 

Brought low, and by their enemies oppress' d. 

Then while the people gazed, the priests of sin 

Were gathered unto him, who sought to win 

The erring crowd to hear his holy word, 

Acceptable and pleasing to the Lord. 

" Oh ! may my prayer approach thy throne, Most High, 
And be thine ear attentive to my cry, 
When that the hour of Mincha draweth nigh." 

Thus, unto all the people gathered round, 
His words of gracious wisdom did resound, 
Each unto each with understanding bound. 

" Oh ! foolish and unwise, who nothing know, 
How long, unsure and halting, will ye go, 
'Twixt two opinions, ever to and fro? 

"Seek where the truth is found — if in the Lord 
Or in another — be the truth adored." 
And all the people answered not a word. 

He cried aloud : " Nay, hearken once again. 

I, only I, of all the many slain 

A prophet of the Lord alone remain. 



6TO THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

"The while the pritsts of Baal, who daily stand 
Bending before the works of craftsmen's hand, 
Four hundred count and fifty in the land. 

"Choose ye a bullock then with fitting care, 
And offer it upon your altar there. 
I for myself will likewise mine prepare. 

"Then this to all who fain the truth would see, 
And follow after it a sign shall be — 
Who answereth with fire, God is he." 

And they, when these wise words to silence fell, 
Seemed to repent, whose hearts did erst rebel, 
For all made answer : It is spoken well ! 

" Be ye, the many, first," he said again, 
" Prepare your altar, bring the bullock slain, 
But let the fire unkindled yet remain." 

They called in folly on an empty name, 
" O Baal, answer us, thy power proclaim ! " 
But neither voice, nor sound for answer came. 
Then mocked Elijah them and mocking said : 
" Call with a loud voice, be ye not afraid, 
Call, for he is a god — be undismayed." 
Then leaped they on the altar they had built, 
And cut and gashed themselves with knives, and spilt 
Their blood with evil rites of shame and guilt. 
Weary they grew and faint, as time sped by, 
And their souls sank within them hopelessly, 
Until the hour of Mincha had come nigh. 
The man of God, the prophet, then ignored 
For a brief period the holy word 1 , 
While he repaired the altar of the Lord. 

For every tribe, as was their wont always, 
He took a stone, as in the ancient days, 
Wherewith the altar of the Lord to raise. 

1 In allusion to the law forbidding offerings elsewhere than in the 
temple. 



A DIRGE FOR THE NINTH OP AB 6ll 

He laid the offering, duly purified, 
Upon the altar, and on every side 
He dug a trench around it, deep and wide. 

" Fill it with water till it overflows," 
He bade them next. Then at the long day's close, 
Even at the Mincha hour, Elijah's prayer arose. 

O Lord of all ! 
God of my fathers, hear me when I call. 

Let it be known 
For evermore that thou art Lord alone ; 

That I, even I, 
Thy servant am, who still unceasingly 

To serve thee run, 
And at thy bidding all these things have done. 

Hear, when I pray, 
And make thy people know thy power this day, 

And turn once more 
Their hearts to thee, as in the days of yore ! 

Then fell there fire from heaven at his word, 
And all the people cried with one accord, 
" The Lord is God— He only— God and Lord ! " 

Alice Lucas. 

A DIRGE FOR THE NINTH OF AB. 

O thou afflicted, drunken not with wine * ! 

Cast to the earth thy timbrel; strip thee bare; 
Yea, make thee bald 2 ; let not thy beauty shine; 

Despoil of comeliness thy presence fair ; 
Lift up a wailing on the mountain height :! ; 
Turn thee to all thy borders ; seek thy flight. 

And cry before the Lord 
For thresholds waste, 
For thresholds waste; 

1 Isa. li. 21. * Mic. i. 16. s Jer. vii. 29.