The Chariot of Fire

Asking one day a friend of mine, Horace Kallen, the well-known humanist scholar, educator and philosopher who lived in New York, which of the wonders of the Old Testament seemed to him the least plausible, he answered me, who was expecting to hear about Joshua and the sun that stood still, “The carrying of Elijah by a flaming chariot into the sky.”

In the ninth century, as a result of cosmic events, the electrical charge of this planet was highly affected. The ionosphere above the earth was charged to such an extent that leaps of discharge occurred from a cloudless sky. As I proved in Ages in Chaos, the letters found in the Egyptian State Archive of el-Amarna originated in the ninth century, and a very considerable portion of them was written by Ahab king of Israel, Jehoshaphat king of Jerusalem, and theirgenerals. The corresponding texts of the Scriptures prove a very high grade of trustworthiness, even in transmission of orations and dialogues, ascribed to historical personages. This fact encourages to approach with credence the stories of Elijah and Elisha, interwoven in the same parts of the Book of Kings. Incidentally I could show that the change of attitude of Captain Naaman towards the king of Samaria, from bad to good, is substantiated also by texts of the Letters. The Book of Kings ascribes this change to a rather natural cure of the captain by Elisha, who prescribed to the diseased seven baths in the Jordan river: the Jordan is rich with sulfur, magnesium, and brom salts, which enter the river at the Sea of Tiberias, and constitute, after evaporation of water in the Dead Sea, its deposits. Another instance which throws a side-light on the activity of Elisha is the fact that, as I could show, two letters of the collection were written to the Pharaoh by the Great Lady of Shunem (Kings ). She wrote from that city, and sighned “Baalat-Ness”, or “the Lady to whom a wonder had occurred”. Elisha revived her child employing artificial breathing and a “four-cells” contact of his own body with the body of the infant.

The wonders of Elijah were of a peculiar nature: it seems that most or all of them have to do with atmospheric electricity. When a prolonged drought endured for a number of years, he sat on top of Mount Carmel with his head between his knees and from time to time asked his servant whether there was a cloud already seen over the sea. After a while a cloud appeared, approached, and burst into abundant rain.

When a detachment of the king Ahaziah was sent to interrogate him, Elijah, again “on top of the hill” invoked a lightning bolt out of an apparently cloudless sky to strike this group of men. According to the story he repeated this with a second detachment. Characteristically Elijah made all his meteorological and electrical “wonders” from the top of a hill.

Elijah was an “electrical” man, occasionally a living barometer, looking for electrical and magnetic “wonders” to employ in his miracles; in modern times and in modern attire I think of Nikola Tesla, who introduced alternating current and measured the Earth’s electrical charge; he too was a recluse who hardly published anything (of Elijah no prophetic book is known to exist). Tesla was attracted to electricity, was as if sought out by electrical phenomena. Some of his exploits may well be compared to those of Elijah—his most famous were performed from the top of a hill.

Attention should be paid to the fact that summits of certain mountains have an electrical halo, and that there is a permanent flow of electricity as can be demonstrated by a wire that connects two points at different altitudes on the slope of a hill, and that a charged electroscope is quickly discharged by ions, supposedly drifting from above. The enigmatic coolness of mountin tops is caused by an electrical process as I show elsewhere.

The death of Elijah also takes place under circumstances that suggest an electrical phenomenon. The occurrence of the phenomenon known as ball lightning was denied until very recent time, actually measured in decades. Today, the phenomenon belongs into textbooks. A ball of fire is seen sometimes moving rather slowly and then exploding.

In the Second Book of Kings, in its second chapter, the story is told how Elijah had crossed the Jordan with Elisha, his apprentice, when “behold, a chariot of fire and horses of fire . . . parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven . . . And Elisha saw him no more . . . he took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back . . .”

The disciples looked for several days “lest peradventure the spirit of the Lord hath taken him and cast him upon some mountain, or into some valley,” but they found him not.

The detail about the mantle of Elijah that was left behind, instead of detracting from the verisimilitude of the Biblical episode, tends to support it. It is a well-known phenomenon that a wire may evaporate when an electrical discharge strikes it, yet its envelope of fabric (an insulator) remains intact. Here is what may have happened:

Traveling afoot on the east side of the Jordan, Elijah and Elisha were approached by a lightning ball that separated them; next it exploded, consuming Elijah, yet leaving his mantle unscathed, thus making it appear that it was a fiery chariot that approached them and then carried Elijah “by a whirlwind into heaven.”

It is not claimed here that this was the end of Elijah, only that such a phenomenon could be natural, though very unusual.