The Elijah Rock

This website is all about a sacred rock located south east of Mumbai. The Elijah Rock is reputed to be the location of a visit from Elijah the Prophet (Eliyahu HaNavi) and is considered sacred by both Bene Israel Jews and Hindus. Elijah the prophet is also known as Eliyahu HaNavi,and Eliyahoo Hannabi.

Elijah Rock near Alibag, India

The Elijah Rock Story

Carved in a large rock, outside of a village on the Konkan Coast, southeast of Mumabi are mystical markings that are reputed to have been made by Elijah the Prophet. The Bene Israel and the local Hindu population, believe that the spot is sacred, because it was from this spot that Elijah the Prophet ascended to heaven and his chariot left a groove in the rock, while his horse left two hoof marks in the stone.

The traditional view of Elijah's ascent to heaven is decribed in Kings II Chapter 2:

1 And it came to pass, when HaShem would take up Elijah by a whirlwind into heaven, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal.
2 And Elijah said unto Elisha: 'Tarry here, I pray thee; for HaShem hath sent me as far as Beth-el.' And Elisha said: 'As HaShem liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee.' So they went down to Beth-el.--
3 And the sons of the prophets that were at Beth-el came forth to Elisha, and said unto him: 'Knowest thou that HaShem will take away thy master from thy head to-day?' And he said: 'Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace.'--
4 And Elijah said unto him: 'Elisha, tarry here, I pray thee; for HaShem hath sent me to Jericho.' And he said: 'As HaShem liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee.' So they came to Jericho.--
5 And the sons of the prophets that were at Jericho came near to Elisha, and said unto him: 'Knowest thou that HaShem will take away thy master from thy head to-day?' And he answered: 'Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace.'--
6 And Elijah said unto him: 'Tarry here, I pray thee; for HaShem hath sent me to the Jordan.' And he said: 'As HaShem liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee.' And they two went on.
7 And fifty men of the sons of the prophets went, and stood over against them afar off; and they two stood by the Jordan.
8 And Elijah took his mantle, and wrapped it together, and smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, so that they two went over on dry ground.

9 And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha: 'Ask what I shall do for thee, before I am taken from thee.' And Elisha said: 'I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me.'
10 And he said: 'Thou hast asked a hard thing; nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so.'
11 And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, which parted them both assunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.
12 And Elisha saw it, and he cried: 'My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and the horsemen thereof!' And he saw him no more; and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces.

Elijah the Prophet horse's hoof marks in IndiaThe Elijah Rock with the two hoof marks and the cleft in the rock play a very important role in the life of the Bene Israel.

Members of the Bene Israel community make pilgrimages to this spot and have a custom of cracking a coconut and pouring the milk on the rock. Afterwards, they perform a Malida ceremony. There is a house owned by a Hindu family nearby, with posters of Ganesh and other Hindu deities. Bseide these posters is an area dedicated for the Benje Israel, with a large poster on the Elijah Rock, as well as a lamp that can be lit. It is at this spot that the Malida ceremonies are performed.

The Bene Israel Jews of India

The Bene Israel ("Sons of Israel") are a group of Jews who migrated in the 19th century from villages in the Konkan area to the nearby Indian cities, primarily Mumbai, but also to Pune, and Ahmedabad. Prior to these waves of emigrations and to this day, the Bene Israel formed the largest sector of the subcontinent's Jewish population. The native language of the Bene Israel is Marathi. Most Bene Israel have now emigrated to Israel, several Commonwealth countries and the United States

The community traces its origin to Jews who escaped to India to avoid persecution in Galilee in the 2nd century BCE. Although the Bene Israel resemble the non-Jewish Maratha people in appearance and customs, they have maintained the practices of Jewish dietary laws, circumcision and observation of Sabbath as a day of rest.
Under British hegemony, many Bene Israel rose to prominence. They were only somewhat affected by racially-discriminatory policies, and as such were able to gain higher, better paying posts in the British Army when compared with their non-Jewish neighbours. Many Bene Israel rose high enough that when the British left India in 1947, they felt that they stood to lose more than they could possibly gain under Indian independence. As such, most emigrated to Israel.
It is estimated that there were 6,000 Bene Israel in the 1830s, 10,000 at the turn of the 20th century, and in 1948—their peak in India—they numbered 20,000. Since that time, their population in India has decreased through emigration (mostly to Israel) to under 5,000.