How to Read the Old Testament and Get It.2

by admin on October 28, 2014

Reflections for 19 October 2014
Isaiah 7:10-17

Four Major Prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel. Major = longer

Twelve Minor Prophets: Hosea—Malachi. Minor = shorter. Hebrew Bible: The 12.

How did “prophets” show up and what’s their purpose?

Rise of Monarchy. Somebody has to have a direct link to Yahweh, otherwise too many distraction (idolatry) and detours (wishing we were someplace or someone else)

Covenant enforcement mediation. This done through blessings and curses. Pattern: identification of Israel’s sin or Yahweh covenantal love; followed by a prediction of curse or blessing. Jeremiah.

Prophets’ message not their own but Yahweh’s. Jeremiah 27:2.

Jeremiah 27:1-2 In the beginning of the reign of King Zedekiah son of Josiah of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the LORD. 2 Thus the LORD said to me: Make yourself a yoke of straps and bars, and put them on your neck.

Prophets are Yahweh’s direct representatives. 1 Kings 19: 16  Elijah in the cave.

1 Kings 19:15-17 15 Then the LORD said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king over Aram. 16 Also you shall anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king over Israel; and you shall anoint Elisha son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah as prophet in your place.

They are not radical social reformers nor innovative religious thinkers. God’s though has already been revealed through the Torah. C.f 1 above.

Prophets’ message not original. They present to their generation the essential content of the original Mosaic covenant of warnings and blessings. Not new concept but new wording. Gaining people’s attention calls for rephrasing and restructuring of something already heard. This causes audience to recall and reframe. Jeremiah 31: 31-34.

Jeremiah 31:31-33 31 The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 32 It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt– a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the LORD. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Forms of Prophetic Utterance⇒
Lawsuit. Summons, charge, evidence, verdict Isaiah 3:13-26.
Isaiah 3:1-2 For now the Sovereign, the LORD of hosts, is taking away from Jerusalem and from Judah support and staff– all support of bread, and all support of water– 2 warrior and soldier, judge and prophet, diviner and elder…… Isaiah 3:13-15 The LORD rises to argue his case; he stands to judge the peoples. 14 The LORD enters into judgment with the elders and princes of his people: It is you who have devoured the vineyard; the spoil of the poor is in your houses. 15 What do you mean by crushing my people, by grinding the face of the poor? says the Lord GOD of hosts.

Woe. Announcement of distress, reason for distress, prediction of doom. Micah 2:1-5.
Micah 2:1-5 Alas for those who devise wickedness and evil deeds on their beds! When the morning dawns, they perform it, because it is in their power. 2 They covet fields, and seize them; houses, and take them away; they oppress householder and house, people and their inheritance. 3 Therefore thus says the LORD: Now, I am devising against this family an evil from which you cannot remove your necks; and you shall not walk haughtily, for it will be an evil time. 4 On that day they shall take up a taunt song against you, and wail with bitter lamentation, and say, “We are utterly ruined; the LORD alters the inheritance of my people; how he removes it from me! Among our captors he parcels out our fields.” 5 Therefore you will have no one to cast the line by lot in the assembly of the LORD.

Promise. Salvation oracle. “In that day…” Amos 9:11-15.
Amos 9:11 11 On that day I will raise up the booth of David that is fallen, and repair its breaches, and raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old; 12 in order that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by my name, says the LORD who does this. 13 The time is surely coming, says the LORD, when the one who plows shall overtake the one who reaps, and the treader of grapes the one who sows the seed; the mountains shall drip sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it. 14 I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel, and they shall rebuild the ruined cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine, and they shall make gardens and eat their fruit. 15 I will plant them upon their land, and they shall never again be plucked up out of the land that I have given them, says the LORD your God.

Enactment prophecy. Isaiah 20. Isaiah walks around buck naked for 3 years.

Messenger speech. Most common form. “This is the word of Yahweh…..” Likened to diplomatic dispatch. Malachi 1:2-5.

Malachi 1:1-6 An oracle. The word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi. 2 I have loved you, says the LORD. But you say, “How have you loved us?” Is not Esau Jacob’s brother? says the LORD. Yet I have loved Jacob 3 but I have hated Esau; I have made his hill country a desolation and his heritage a desert for jackals. 4 If Edom says, “We are shattered but we will rebuild the ruins,” the LORD of hosts says: They may build, but I will tear down, until they are called the wicked country, the people with whom the LORD is angry forever. 5 Your own eyes shall see this, and you shall say, “Great is the LORD beyond the borders of Israel!”

Chiefly the prophets were poets. Imagining a new world anchored in Yahweh’s covenantal love and obedience from the people. The prophets know is deep and intimate ways the character of God and therefore can anticipated Yahweh’s constancy which will be as decisive for the future as it was in the past.

As poets they bring Verbum Externam. Voice outside of settled convention. Most important aspect of their speech is a RE-perception of world as arena of God’s faithful governance. On their original turf they were almost always unwelcomed and resisted. Jeremiah seen as political traitor.

They are the persistent vice of dissent, sketching out how differently life is to be lived when Yahweh is viewed as the decisive Subject of the public process of life. Qualitatively different life. Covenant faith always lived out in public arena. Amos live justice.

Brueggemann. “That voice of dissent knows about the coming judgment in a narcotized society of disobedience; they also know well about the deliverance for a society paralyzed by despair. This tradition keeps the alternative alive in any society that is shut down in either pride or failure.”

It will take a divine miracle and imagination to turn things around.

What? So What? Now What? of today’s reading.

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