The Jewish Museum, NY/Art Resource, NY

In this scene (compare with painting depicting the priests of Baal gathered around their altar), Elijah and his followers have easily conjured up a blazing fire, which engulfs their white bull. Seeing the flames, the Israelites call out, “Yahweh alone is God, Yahweh alone is God” (1 Kings 18:39).

The conflict with the priests of Baal provides a vivid reminder that Elijah was not a free agent, working for himself alone. He was bound to God’s law, or torah, and he worked from within the Israelite religious system to protect it from threat from outside.