REL 113: Old Testament Faith and History.       Prophets.                           RJDKnauth

I.  Former Prophets (Histories – “Deuteronomistic History”: Joshua, Judges, 1-2 Samuel, 1-2 Kings)
     Historical Prophets:
         Moses
         Samuel (Saul, David)
         Nathan (David, Solomon:S)
         Ahijah (Jeroboam: N)
         Elijah (Ahab:N)
         Micaiah ben Imlah (Ahab, Jehoshaphat)
         Elisha (Joram, Jehu: N)


II.    Latter Prophets / Writing Prophets – collections of sayings (poetic) mixed with biographical narrative.

     A. Major Prophets:  Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel.

1.    Isaiah: S (1st part: Hezekiah, 2nd part: Exile, 3rd part?)
        Issue of unity / dispute over authorship (test-case for conservativism).
        Collection of sayings, judgements, etc. Part matches Kings.
“Isaiah of Jerusalem” (1st Isaiah)– within Royal Court of Hezekiah. Davidic Theology.
        Trust Yahweh and wait for fulfillment. No alliances!
        Ch. 6 “Call Narrative”: Kingship of Yahweh, Vision of Divine Council.
            Need for cleansing. “Here am I – send me!”
        3 major crises: Syro-Ephraimite alliance against Judah; Fall of Samaria; Sennacherib Invasion.
        “Song of Vineyard,” “Emmanuel” sign - relevance to Syro-Ephraimite war.
        Alliance against Assyria as “Covenant with Death.”
        Ch. 37-39 re invasion of Sennacherib matches Kings word for word:
           both draw from “Annals of the Kings of Judah.”
2nd Isaiah (Ch. 40-66): Significance in Exile. Comfort!
        Payment for sins is complete, prepare for return (through desert).
        Men wither like grass, but “the word of the LORD endures forever.”
        Arguments against idolatry: “Do you not know? Have you not heard?”
            “To whom will you compare God?”  Idols ridiculed.
        “Servant Songs” – Messianic prophesy.
Possible 3rd Isaiah (Ch. 56-66): Significance in Restoration?
R
ecurring themes in all give sense of unity…  "school"?

 

2.   Jeremiah: S [+ Lamentations] (Josiah > Exile in Egypt) Priest.
        Connections with Deuteronomistic History.
        Hebrew text vs. Greek Septuagint: major difference in length, order of chapters.
            Both versions at Qumran (no concern for single, authoritative text).
        Book consists of: Prophetic oracles and Biographical Narrative (by Baruch the scribe).
        No alliance with Egypt! - (taken there against his will)
        “Temple Sermon” – critical of Solomon, Temple (remember Shiloh – don’t rely on Temple).
        Reforms threaten livelihoods.
       Oracles against the nations; prediction of the fall of Jerusalem, exile
            (despite theology of the invulnerability of chosen place).
        Burning of Jeremiah’s scroll; persecuted, stuck in well; taken to Egypt against his will.
        “Confessions” cursing day of his birth.
        But also predicts restoration: buys land in Jerusalem and buries the deed.
        Vision of “New Covenant.”

  

3.           Ezekiel: S (Exile in Babylon) Priest. “Son of Man” title.
Connections with “Priestly” redactor of Pentateuch?
Receives “call” in exile (vision of Cherubim, wheels).
“Watchman” burdened with responsibility for sins of nation: must warn!
Prophetic Symbolism: (Lie on side for a year and a month; cook food with excrement for fuel; shave head with sword; forbidden to mourn for his dead wife; pack for exile, dig hole in side of house with hands and crawl out…)
Vivid Imagery and Recurrent Themes:
   Two adulterous sisters = Israel and Judah in foreign alliances.
   Shepherd imagery: Kings don’t care for flock.
   Sword of Judgment=Babylon as God’s instrument of punishment to explain the fall of Jerusalem.
  Vision of the valley of dry bones = spiritual dryness, revival: “Can these bones live?”
  Vision of the Glory of the LORD leaving the temple, returning to the temple.
      Major theme of the Presence of YHWH.
  Vision of the new Jerusalem, river of life flowing out of the Temple of God.
      The name of the city: “The LORD is there!”
First part is Judgment until destruction of Jerusalem, then Hope.


  B.          Minor Prophets (The Book of the Twelve)

Assyrian Crisis - Leading up to the fall of the North and its aftermath (along with 1st Isaiah):

1.   Amos: N.   Concern for social justice, oppression of the poor.        
   Non-Professional: “I am not a prophet or the son of a prophet, but a pruner of sycamore trees.”
    Social commentary, literary artistry, poetic form, divine lawsuits, laments, and visions.
    Judgments against the nations=tightening noose of sin for Israel.
    Divine lawsuit. Nor more empty worship: “Prepare to meet your God!”
    The “Day of the LORD” will be darkness, not light.
    Death dirge for Israel. Woes, Judgments and Visions. Obedience, not Sacrifice!
    Famine of hearing the word of the LORD.

2.      Hosea: N.  Prophet as object lesson for God's unconditional love.
Adulterous wife = unfaithful Israel – foreign worship, Children as signs.
God wants love and faithfulness, not sacrifice!
God’s continuing fatherly love and forgiveness despite Israel’s unfaithfulness.
Come back!!!  Repent and be restored!

3.    Jonah: to Assyrian Nineveh – more like a wisdom tale, full of humor, irony.
    Fish story, poem, repentance, anger, lesson.
    Very different style from other books of prophecy.  8th cent date? Restoration?
    Foreigners show up the Israelites. Universality of God.

4.      Obadiah: S - one chapter, prophesy against Edom (descendants of Esau), disputed date.

5.       Micah: S – same time as Isaiah, small village perspective - opposes Isaiah’s Davidic theology.
    Appeals to the history of the Exodus: Remember Moses! Remember Balaam!
    Lament form (Qinah meter);  Lawsuit form.
    Zion as a place for all the nations to come up and find Justice.   Vision of Peace: 
                “They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks,
                Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.
                And every man beneath his vine and fig tree shall live at peace and unafraid…”
    The sacrificial system is inadequate.
    “What does the LORD require? Act justly! Love mercy! Walk humbly!”
    Enemies are not to gloat. God’s faithfulness to Abraham continues.
    Predicts fall of Samaria but hope for future.


From the time of Josiah and the fall of Assyria leading into the Exile (along with Jeremiah), all in the South:

6.   Nahum – Woe to Nineveh (Assyrian capital)

7.   Zephaniah – Coming of the “Day of the Lord” as a day of doom, punishment, judgment.
                               (descendant of Hezekiah!)

8.   Habakkuk – Prophet’s personal wrestling with God
    Question – What will you do about Judah’s corruption? 
            Answer – Babylonians will bring judgment!
    Question – But Babylon is worse than Judah – how can you use them to judge us?             Answer – They will be punished in turn.
     Response Prayer – Trust and Praise.


Exile: Jeremiah (at the end of his ministry), Ezekiel, 2nd Isaiah, and possibly 1st part of Daniel.


Post-exilic period of Restoration, 2nd Temple (along with 3rd Isaiah?):

9.     Haggai – ca. 520 BCE, 70 yr old witness of destruction of Solomon’s Temple?
Encouragement to rebuild Temple (cf Ezra) in time of Darius the Persian.
Problems of lethargy, Samaritan and local opposition, disappointment
    (new Temple hasn’t the glory of the 1st)
Zerubbabel to restore Davidic kingship and Covenant. God’s glory will fill the Temple.
Consequences of disobedience and obedience
    (obedience will bring God’s strength and blessing).
Coming of the Messiah as “desired of all nations.” Paraphrases from Deuteronomy.
Questions highlight key issues.  “I will shake the heavens and the earth!”
Repetition/Refrain: “Give careful thought…” “I am with you!” “Be strong!” (cf Joshua)

10.         Zechariah – issues of unity, apocalyptic element.
Contemporary of Haggai, but continuing long after.
Encouragement to rebuild the Temple (cf Ezra: Persian Darius spurs renewal of effort).
Prophet/Priest born in Babylon, came with 1st return in 538 under Joshua, Zerubbabel.
Ch. 1-6 = 8 apocalyptic “night visions.” Joshua crowned. Repentance>>Blessing
     (Dedication of Temple, 516 BCE).
Ch. 9-14 final prophecy – eschatological/messianic oracles.
If Judah returns to God, then God will return to Judah.
God’s word will continue to be fulfilled!
Exhortation, call to repentance, visions, oracles of judgment and salvation.

11.   Joel – disputed date (no references in text; some say 9th cent, some say post-exilic)
      Invasion of Army of Locusts – too numerous to deal with, consuming everything.
        >> Real?  Symbolic?  Or both?
      A foretaste of the “great and dreadful day of the LORD”
        – call to mourning, prayer, and repentance.
      Repent! “Rend your heart and not your garments!”
        Judgment, Repentance >> Restoration, Renewal, Blessing.
     “Why should they say among the peoples ‘Where is their God?’?” (quote from Psalms?)
      The pouring out of God’s spirit upon all of the people
            (i.e. not just the prophets or leaders. A democratization of the spirit):
            “Your sons and daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams,
                Your young men shall see visions.”
     The sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood, stars will no longer shine.
     Vision of the River of Life flowing out from the Temple – just as in Ezekiel.
     Valley of Decision. “The LORD roars from Zion!” “Then you will know…”
    “The LORD dwells in Zion!”

11.         Malachi – last prophet, from the time of Nehemiah.
Returnees are discouraged, disappointed, losing hope.
They doubt God’s love, no longer trust his Justice.
Worship has degenerated to mere forms. Law is disregarded.
Priests are corrupt and unfaithful: their sacrifices dishonor God, the Law is not taught.
People are also unfaithful.
Repetition: “The Lord Almighty…” “But you ask…”>>God’s response.
The “great and dreadful day of the LORD” is coming!
“Where is the God of Justice?” > God will judge…but will judge his own people first!
Remember the Law of Moses.
He will send Elijah the Prophet to prepare the way. 
Call to repentance, faithful giving, faithful service. No intermarriage.
Begins with “Oracle” on the wasteland of Edom;
Ends with warning of Israel’s destruction: refiner’s fire – purification.
Messianic image: “the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in its wings…”
      (winged sun-disk image?! Cf LMLK jars)


Chronicler’s History:
         1-2 Chronicles,
         Ezra (arr. 458 BCE),
         Nehemiah  (cupbearer>>Governor; arr. 445, 433 BCE). Sent by Artaxerxes.

Apocalyptic:
          Zechariah’s “night visions” (see above).
          Daniel
                1st part: wisdom/hero tales re Babylonian Exile.
                2nd part: apocalyptic vision/prophecy, Maccabean Revolt?

Wisdom Festival Scrolls:
          Ruth (period of Judges)
          Esther (Persian period). Novellas/Hero Tales (cf Joseph cycle in Genesis).
          + Lamentations (Jeremiah), + Song of Solomon, + Ecclesiastes.

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