Artwork of the Week: June 27, 2022
James Jacques Joseph Tissot (1836-1902), Charles Hoffbauer (1875-1957), ‘Elijah Dwelleth In a Cave,’ c. 1896-1904, gouache on board, 9 1/4 x 6 4/7 in, The Jewish Museum, New York. Image provided by the Jewish Museum, New York. Gift of the heirs of Jacob Schiff. This work has been temporarily loaned to the Museum as part of the exhibition Prophets, Priests, and Queens: James Tissot’s Men and Women of the Old Testament.
When many people rejected Elijah’s prophecies, he was inspired to pronounce a corrective measure to return them to accepting the prophet’s words: “As the Lord God of Israel liveth… theres shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.” While the rebellious Israelites suffered with famine, the Lord sustained Elijah the Prophet with fresh water in the brook adjacent to his cave, as well as with both “bread and flesh” delivered twice daily by the obedient, God-fearing ravens. This space of sustenance demonstrated God’s loyalty to a Prophet whose role and mission were not yet complete. When the brook Cherith eventually ran dry, the Lord had already arranged another respite of miracles that blessed both the Prophet and the household of a faithful widow of Zarephath. In one’s extremities, a desperate soul quickly discovers that “enough” is as good as a feast.