Does the Pope think Elijah trudged past the front door of David Ben Gurion, the Prime Minister of Israel?
Professor Emmanuel Anati, an Italian-Israeli archaeologist, says the Vatican is about to agree with him that the real Mt. Sinai — Elijah’s Mountain of God (1 Kings 19:8) — is actually Har Karkom in Israel’s desert. If that were true, Elijah took much the same route we took in 1964 when we met the Prime Minister.
Into the Negev
Like Elijah, we were heading south out of Beersheba into the Israeli Negev, but unlike Elijah, we were driving down Highway 40. We braked because we spotted a lonely desert driveway curving in from the east, but if Elijah paused here, he saw only sagebrush. He may have talked with a Bedouin camel herder, but we spoke with the Israeli soldier posted at the intersection.
“Is this Kibbutz Sde Boker (s-DAY boh-CARE)?”
Ben Gurion — stepping
The soldier opened up a broad smile and unpacked his best school-book English.
“Yes, is Sde Boker. Want see Ben Gurion?”
“The Prime Minister?!”
He pointed to three distant figures just coming into view around the distant curve.
“Ben Gurion is stepping.”
Tall tufts of hair
As they approached, we could make out the short person in the center — bald with tall tufts of hair standing out over both ears. When they arrived, the body guards flanking the Prime Minister smiled at us, and Ben Gurion seemed pleased when we told him we were Christians from America.
“Could we take your picture?”
So we all dove for our cameras in the Mercedes.
No more smiles
Yet when we emerged, all three soldiers had stepped between us and the Prime Minister. Each man had shifted his Uzi to a two-hand grip aimed at the ground six feet in front of our toes.
Their smiles had gone. Their mouths opened slightly, and their eyes focused on our eyes. We stopped and held our cameras out in plain view.
Then the Prime Minister laughed.
Looks like pictures
“Picture? This looks like pictures.”
His guards smiled again, and we moved slowly toward Mr. Ben Gurion.
He posed for several photos — shaking hands with us or just smiling into our many cameras. Finally he said goodbye, and we watched the Prime Minister walk back to the Kibbutz that Elijah’s people built in 1952, roughly 2,826 years after that prophet may have paused at the gate.