by Dave Skipper
Story Summary: 06 Slaughter of the Prophets
[1 Kings 18:40]
The God of Elijah answered by fire, showing up the prophets of Baal as no more than apostate frauds. They flee en masse, but Elijah commands they be chased and put to death for their high treason against Yahweh, highest King over Israel. Surely this is the most controversial part of the story!
Sounds & Structure
The main part of this track is pure analogue synth goodness, no samples, just a repeating bass riff with increasing layers of distortion. The chopped up noise that appears on top is derived from tiny fragments of samples but I cannot remember at all which field recording they are derived from. I added some chaotic panning to this part afterwards to give some nice movement; you can see the panning envelope in the screenshot below. This piece is all about violent momentum, as the false prophets are chased into the valley where they are executed. I couldn’t resist ending with some pseudo-death-cries as I bashed a mic against my chest! I like the way that everything about this track contrasts what has gone before, but nevertheless I think in retrospect that I would have liked to work a bit more to make it grittier and more distorted…
The Kishon brook/river, where the massacre took place, has in recent years been considered the most polluted river in Israel due to constant contamination from nearby chemical plants. At one point it was claimed that there were more chemicals than water in the river, such that washing in the river caused severe chemical burns. A massive cleanup programme was set in motion starting in 2012, so hopefully it’s in a much better state by now!
Kishon is mentioned in one previous episode in the Bible. This was many centuries earlier, before Israel had any kings. They were under godless foreign rule when God raised up a righteous judge named Deborah, and she led a famous victory to deliver the people. And where was the enemy army defeated? At the River Kishon. You can read the thrilling story in Judges 4. The next chapter is the bloodthirsty Song of Deborah, in which we find these lines:
19 “Kings came, they fought,
the kings of Canaan fought.
At Taanach, by the waters of Megiddo,
they took no plunder of silver.
20 From the heavens the stars fought,
from their courses they fought against Sisera.
21 The River Kishon swept them away,
the age-old river, the River Kishon.
March on, my soul; be strong!”
Kishon: the place where God’s enemies are swept away! An appropriate, and not coincidental, place for the prophets of Baal to meet their demise. Israel is rescued from political bondage and then religious bondage. There must be something about the place, it seems to be a magnet for pollution of all kinds!
As for the slaughter itself, to modern minds this seems disturbingly violent and shocking – but it was in fact no less than what God’s covenant law had clearly stipulated centuries earlier. False prophets in the land, who worshiped false gods and led others to do so too were to be put to death (see Deuteronomy 13 & 18). During that era Israel was a nation uniquely established on the basis of God’s rescuing them from slavery, revealing his laws to them, and giving them a role as his ambassador to the world. They were without excuse. Ahab in his reign significantly exacerbated the ongoing problem of idolatry in the land, so finally enough was enough. The more shocking thing was that God had allowed them to get away with it for so long! Yet that system was always intended to be temporary, a shadow of the greater realities to be brought by Jesus – truth incarnate, the ultimate prophet of God – who tasted death on behalf of many. He died to take away the curse of death, rising again to new life to give certain hope of future resurrection life beyond the grave to all who bow down and say, “The LORD he is God!”