Luca Giordano: The Sacrifice of Elijah (1653)

(Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, USA)

An etch from the Italian artist Luca Giordano (1634-1705). The scene on this etch comes from the  Books of Kings of the old testament. The main man on this piece is Elijah, a prophet from the kingdom of Israel in the 9th century BC. The story tells that the land and the people were suffering from a drought and famine. Elijah, the kneeling man on the right, challenged the priest of Baal for a direct confrontation on ending the famine. On Mount Carmel there were 2 altars build (1 for Baal and 1 for Yahweh) and meat was placed on each altar as an offer. Elijah then asked the preists of Baal to pray to their god for fire to light the sacrifice. The priests of baal prayed from morning to noon without success. After adding their own blood to the offering, the priests prayed again but to no avail. Elijah then asked to pour water from 4 jars on the altar for Yahweh and prayed to God accept the sacrifice. Immediatly fire falls from the sky, consuming the water, the sacrifice and the stones of the altar itself as well. The priests of Baal were killed after this (shown on the left) by order of Elijah. Elijah again prayed to God for rain to fall again on the land. Then the rains begin, signaling the end of the famine. Etching from 1653.

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