H. Jacobson, «Elijahs Sleeping Baal», Vol. 79 (1998) 413-413
There is a pertinent and interesting parallel to Elijahs mocking words at 1 Kgs 18,7 that has gone unnoticed. When the priests of Baal fail to get any response from their god, Elijah mocks them, "call loudly perhaps hes asleep and needs to be awakened". It has been suggested that, aside from the biting satire, Elijahs words may recall some cultic awakening of the deity in morning rites. Thus, the Pyramid Texts of the third millennium contain a composition with the refrain "awake in peace", about which Lichtheim observes, "a litany with which the gods were greeted each morning by the priests performing the daily cult in the temples" 1. But I think that Elijahs words are even more pointed than this and are intended to recall and provide a contrast to a particularly famous passage in Near Eastern literature.
In the Mesopotamian epic, the Atrahasis, the god Enlil is angered at men and, after several failed attempts to reduce their population, he brings great rains that flood the earth and destroy most of humanity 2. The cause of his anger is straightforward. Mankind makes too much noise and keeps him awake: "With their uproar I am deprived of sleep" 3; "With their uproar sleep does not overcome me" 4. In contrast, 1 Kings Baal seems oblivious to the noise of his priests and sleeps undisturbed. The Bibles narrative will culminate with a rainstorm too (18,45), but this rain, brought by Israels God who does not sleep, will bring not destruction but salvation for his people.