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Icon: Fiery Ascension of the Prophet Elija | S-25
 
 
Origin Russia, Vyk
Size : 31 x 26.5 cm
 
The life of the prophet Elijah, as recounted in the First Book of Kings (chapters 17-22) and the Second Book of Kings (chapters 1-2), is represented on this icon in a ‘continuous narrative’. Upper centre Elijah ascends to heaven in a great red cloud, seated in a chariot of fire drawn by four winged horses. An angel escorts the cloud. To the left Elijah is seated in a cave in the desert, where he remained at Yahweh’s behest, drinking water from the stream and eating bread and meat brought by ravens. A raven is shown flying in with a piece of meat in its beak. Lower left, Elijah is sleeping ‘the sleep of discouragement’. An angel bends over the prophet, urging him to stand up and carry on. In the centre of the icon Elijah, accompanied by his pupil Elisha, leans forward and beats his mantle on the waters of the River Jordan. The river then divides into two, allowing Elijah and Elisha to cross without wetting their feet. To the right of this scene Elisha stretches out his hands to catch Elijah’s robe. This transfer of the mantle to Elisha is seen as symbolizing the transfer of Elijah’s prophetic and spiritual power. When Elisha then strikes the waters of the Jordan with the miraculous mantle, the river also divides in two, just as it did for Elijah.