Sunday School Lesson #30

July 26, 2006 | 25 comments
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Lesson 30: 2 Chronicles 29-30; 32; 34

As the Old Testament tells the history, Hezekiah was the 13th king after David and the 11th king of Judah: David → Solomon → Rehoboam (who was king at the time of the split between Judah and Israel, and became the first king of Judah) → Abijah → Asa → Jehoshaphat → Joram → Ahaziah → Joash → Amaziah → Uzziah → Jotham → Ahaz → Hezekiah. He reigned from 715 B.C. to 687 B.C.

King Uzziah was a successful king, but at the end of his career he came into conflict with the temple priests. Whether the description of the conflict that we see in 2 Chronicles 26:16-23 is accurate is debatable, for it is clear that, as king, David had the right to offer sacrifice and to use the Urim and Thummim. (See 1 Samuel 23:9-12; 24:7-8; and 2 Samuel 24:25. The Urim and Thummim were attached to the ephod mentioned in 1 Samuel 23 and 24.) In addition, David tells us that he was given the Melchizedek priesthood (Psalm 110:4). There can be little doubt that the king of Israel was originally a priest-king. (See 1 Chronicles 29:23, which says that Solomon sat on “the throne of the Lord.â€?) So it seems likely that Uzziah was not doing anything improper when he made offering in the temple. If so, then the story in chapter 26, that Uzziah was stricken with leprosy because he dared to act as a priest in the temple, was written or edited later to justify excluding the king from priesthood functions. (Notice that 2 Kings 15:1-5 gives a different reason for Uzziah’s (Azariah’s) leprosy.)

Jotham was also a good king, but Ahaz, Hezekiah’s father, was wicked, “for he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, and made also molten images for Baalim. Moreover he burnt incense in the valley of the son of Hinnom, and burnt his children in the fire, after the abominations of the heathen whom the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel. He sacrificed also and burnt incense in the high places, and on the hills, and under every green tree� (2 Chronicles 28:2-4).

In these chapters (including the chapters not assigned), we see Hezekiah order that the temple be cleansed and that proper worship be reinstituted (29) and reinstitute the Passover celebration by a national celebration, though at a date later than appointed (30). We see the details of the religious reform that Hezekiah began (31), and the attack of the Assyrians, stopped by the miraculous salvation of Jerusalem (32). We also see Hezekiah’s son, Manasseh’s, wicked reign, followed by his repentance and good reign, and then by his son, Amon’s, wicked reign, which ended in his assassination by his own servants (33). Finally, we read about a new reformation under Josiah (34).

Chapter 29

This chapter expands considerably on the story told in 2 Kings 18:1-3. Why might the author of Kings have left the cleansing of the temple out of his story? Why might the author of Chronicles have included it?

Verse 3: What does it mean to say that Hezekiah opened the doors of the temple? (See 2 Chronicles 28:24.)

Verses 5-8: Why did Hezekiah say that the temple needed to be sanctified? A more literal translation of the end of verse 6 is: “Our fathers [. . .] turn round their faces from the tabernacle of Jehovah, and gave neck.� Why does the writer use the tabernacle here as the symbol of the temple? The word for the neck could also be used to mean “the back.� In Hebrew to give neck could mean to flee in fear (as in Exodus 23:27), to turn one’s back on someone (as in 2 Samuel 22:41), or to apostatize (as in 2 Chronicles 29:6, and Jeremiah 2:27 and 32:33). What does the metaphor suggest to you in this verse? A more literal translation of part of verse 8 is “He [the Lord] hath delivered them to be a horror, an astonishment, and an amazement,� or as the Anchor Bible translation has it, “he made them a terror, a horror, and a mockery.� How does that change the meaning of the verse? To whom were they a terror, horror, and mockery? What does it mean to be a terror, horror, or mockery to someone else? How might we become a horror, terror, or mockery? Why might we become one? Is that something we do by choice or something that happens beyond our control?

Verse 11: Why does Hezekiah call the Levites his sons?

Verse 34: One explanation of the difference between priests and Levites is that those called priests were Levites descended from Zadok, high priest at the time of Solomon. Among the Levites, Zadok’s descendants had the responsibility for temple ritual. Why might the Levites have been more “upright in heart� than the priests?

Verse 36: What does it mean to say that “God had prepared the people�? For what? How?

Chapter 30

Verse 1: Why does the writer say that Hezekiah wrote to all Judah (2 tribes) and to Israel (10 tribes), and to Ephraim and Manasseh? Why include the latter two? Weren’t they included when he wrote to Judah and Israel? What is strange about Hezekiah writing to all of Israel?

Verse 3: Why had people ceased to keep the Passover?

Verse 9: A good deal of the northern kingdom had already been conquered by the Assyrians and the inhabitants taken captive. Hezekiah promises that if the Israelites will restore the temple and resume temple worship, the Lord will bring the captives back. Why was temple worship so important to Hezekiah? What happens in temple worship? Did he think restoring the temple would reunite Israel and Judah?

Verses 10-12: From what tribes are those who come to this Passover feast? What does that tell us?

Verses 18-20: What is going on here? (Cf. Numbers 9:1-14.)

Verse 22: This verse may also explain the difference between the priests and the Levites, for it speaks of the Levites as teaching the Law. (Compare 2 Chronicles 17:8-9.) It appears that we now have two ecclesiastical authorities, those who taught and those who officiated in the temple. Is that comparable to our teachers and priests?

Verse 25: Traditionally it has been assumed that the “strangers� were converts to Judaism.

Chapter 32

Verses 1-8: Anticipating Sennacharib’s attack, what does Hezekiah do? (See also verse 30.) What lesson is this for us?

Verses 9-20: What are Sennecharib’s tactics? How effective do you think they would be against the people of Jerusalem?

Verse 21: Compare 2 Kings 19:35. What happened to Sennecharib’s army? Who are “they that came forth out of his own bowels�? Why is it significant that he was assassinated in “the house of his god�?

Chapter 24

In this chapter we see another restoration of the temple by a new king. How would you describe the cycle of restoration and apostasy that we have seen in the last several readings? Has prosperity been an important part of this cycle, as it was for the people of the Book of Mormon? What seems to cause pride in Israel and Judah? Why is the leadership of these two groups so crucial to whether the groups remain in apostasy or repent?

Verse 3: Refer to verse 1 and calculate how old Josiah was when he began these reforms. What does that suggest?

Verses 4-5: What does it mean that the altars were broken down in Josiah’s presence? Why does he strew the ashes of the idolatrous vessels on the graves of those who had worshiped idols and why does he burn the bones of the dead idolatrous priests on their own altars?

Verse 8: How long did it take Josiah to purge idolatry from Judah?

Verses 14-15, 18-21: How do you think the book of the Law (perhaps the first five books of the Old Testament, the sacred scripture of this period; perhaps only Deuteronomy or parts of it) had been lost? Was it lost, or is this evidence of its construction and presentation to Israel as something recently discovered? We saw that the Levites were teaching from the scriptures in 2 Chronicles 17:8-9. How long has it been since then? Why did Josiah tear his clothes in mourning when he found out about the book and its contents?

Verse 22: Jeremiah was a prophet at the same time. Why do you think they went to Huldah instead of Jeremiah?

Verse 23: In all of the other verses, Josiah is referred to as “the king.� Why is he referred to here as “the man�?

Verses 24-25: What does the Lord say will happen to Israel because it has not kept the Law? Can’t they plead ignorance: “We didn’t even know what the Law was. That is why we didn’t keep it!� Is the Lord punishing them for sinning in ignorance?

Verses 26-28: What does the Lord promise Josiah? How is Josiah different from Israel? Does that answer the questions for verses 24-25?

Verse 28: Given the violent death that Josiah suffers (2 Chronicles 35:23-24), how can we make sense of the promise that he will be gathered (or “harvested�) to the grave in peace?

Verses 29-33: Does Josiah get the people of Jerusalem to repent? If so, why does the Lord’s curse come on them anyway?

Verse 33: Does Josiah cleanse only Judah? How many of Israel seem to have made the covenant? How do you think he made all of the Israelites serve the Lord? Is it significant that the chapter ends by saying “all his days they departed not from following the Lord� (my italics)? What is the writer suggesting and what does that suggest about Israel under Josiah?

A NOTE ADDED LATER FOR THOSE WHO EITHER AREN’T INTERESTED IN MOST OF THE COMMENTS THAT FOLLOW OR DON’T UNDERSTAND THEM: You needn’t be concerned with the issues of Margaret Barker’s work, “the Deuteronomist,” etc. to study the scriptures assigned for this lesson or to prepare a good Sunday School lesson on them. That discussion is for those interested in historical questions as well as in the Gospel questions that may arise.

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25 Responses to Sunday School Lesson #30

  1. DKL on July 26, 2006 at 6:02 pm

    Margaret Barker (an English Methodist Minister who specializes in extra-canonical religious literature from before the Babylonian invasion) has an interesting take on the reforms of Josiah, which runs like this (if I understand her correctly): If the story in the Book of Mormon is true, then some kind of apostasy occurred in Israel prior to 600BC. The more severe the apostasy, the more likely that it involved a great upheaval. And since God didn’t seem to send people out to preserve records very often, this was likely a fairly severe apostasy. So where is the account of this apostasy?

    Barker says that it’s right there in the Old Testament. What event caused social upheaval during the two decades prior to Lehi’s departure? Josiah’s reforms. Barker seems to believe that there was an Abrahamic priesthood and a Levitical priesthood, and that Josiah’s reforms represented the final power grab by the Levitical priesthood. Since winners write the history, Josiah’s reforms are portrayed as a return to the “original” form of worship.

    I don’t actually buy Barker’s thesis, but I do think that it’s an interesting one. It’s also refreshing to see non-Mormon scholars offering arguments that directly bolster the historical claims of the Book of Mormon.

    Incidentally, we can expand on Barker’s thesis a bit to explain the priest’s rejection of Uzziah’s actions. If we supposed that Barker’s Abrahamic priesthood corresponds to what we understand as the Melchisidek priesthood, then it’s likely that the power of the Melchisidek priests was on the wane for some time. This may account for the diminution in privileges accorded to Uzziah by temple priests.

  2. Bryan Benson on July 26, 2006 at 7:06 pm

    (DKL)[[[“If the story in the Book of Mormon is true, then some kind of apostasy occurred in Israel prior to 600BC. The more severe the apostasy, the more likely that it involved a great upheaval. And since God didn’t seem to send people out to preserve records very often, this was likely a fairly severe apostasy. So where is the account of this apostasy??

    Barker says that it’s right there in the Old Testament. What event caused social upheaval during the two decades prior to Lehi’s departure? Josiah’s reforms. Barker seems to believe that there was an Abrahamic priesthood and a Levitical priesthood, and that Josiah’s reforms represented the final power grab by the Levitical priesthood. Since winners write the history, Josiah’s reforms are portrayed as a return to the “originalâ€? form of worship.”]]]

    Although I see you don’t intend it, your statement makes it seem as though Barker’s thesis has “if the Book of Mormon is true” as its starting point. What she actually says, of course, is independent of the Book of Mormon, of which she learned long after she began her research. Also, the two priesthoods of which she writes are more accurately described as Melchizedek and Levitical, rather than Abrahamic and Levitical. At least that’s how it appears to me in her book “The Great Angel: A Study of Israe’s Second God.” I would also add that, according to her argument, Josiah’s reforms are bound up with the Deuteronomist authors/redactors who very much influenced the OT as we have it. It’s an interesting thesis, and I’d be glad to know what about it you don’t buy, especially since you say it bolsters the Book of Mormon. Perhaps you just mean that it would bolster the Book of Mormon were it correct?

  3. DKL on July 26, 2006 at 7:56 pm

    Thanks for clarifying, Bryan. I’m familiar with Barker’s work through her presentation at the Library of Congress Symposium on Joseph Smith. You’re correct that she did her research quite independent of her knowledge of the Book of Mormon. My understanding is that Reynolds at FARMS contacted her after reading her stuff.

    You’re right that I mean that it would bolster the Book of Mormon if Barker were correct. I don’t mean to imply I disbelieve it because it bolsters the Book of Mormon, since I believe in its historicity quite independent of her thesis. Of course, if it is wrong, that does not in any way impugn the Book of Mormon, since that would simply reflect the state of affairs as we’ve always understood them anyway.

    I’m no expert in ancient Hebrew history, but her thesis strikes me as something resembling a well-developed conspiracy theory. It’s fascinating and intricate, but just too far off the beaten path to accept uncritically. Mostly, I don’t think that the Deueteronomist can be dismissed as a corrupter of tradition the way that Barker seems to want to, though I do admit think that it’s clear that the Deueteronomist is a polemical writer looking to clean up loose ends. Also, the notion that the goddess Asherah (Yahweh/El’s consort, whose symbols Josiah destroys) represents any part of the Hebrew religion that we’d recognize strikes me as way off the mark (being connected, as she is, other pagan Gods). By her reasoning, it seems that Lehi’s Tree of Life is, in some sense, an embodiment of Asherah–the Mother God. Even if this bolster’s the Book of Mormon, it doesn’t seem to do any favors to the revealed doctrines of the revelation. Specifically, we’re in a state of apostasy similar to the one that Josiah implemented, insofar as we have eschewed worship of Elohim’s consort (aka, Heavenly Mother).

  4. Jim F. on July 27, 2006 at 12:06 am

    I’m glad to see that it isn’t only BYU profs who read Margaret Barker.

  5. Clinton on July 27, 2006 at 12:02 pm

    –Benson–
    Melchizedek and Levitical, rather than Abrahamic and Levitical.

    I have only skimmed Barker work. Does she then connect the Melchizedek prieshood with the Priestly author and the Levitical priesthood with the Deuteronomic author? If this is the case then this seems a little odd because isn’t P a levitical priest and a son of Zadok?

  6. Clinton on July 27, 2006 at 12:05 pm

    –DKL–
    I’m no expert in ancient Hebrew … conspiracy theory … I don’t think that the Deueteronomist can be dismissed as a corrupter of tradition …

    I don’t think that Barker is that far off the mark though. If you take out the value judgements that are inherint in you take on this, and are familiar with the Documentary Hypothesis (DH) then this seem entirely plausable to me.

  7. Clinton on July 27, 2006 at 12:13 pm

    –DKL–
    Also, the notion that the goddess Asherah … strikes me as way off the mark (being connected, as she is, other pagan Gods) …

    Have you read the Hebrew Goddess by Raphael Patai. If you haven’t then I highly suggest it. You also have to remember that the Hebrews (despite Mormon Theology) were probably NOT monotheistic until it became heavily influenced by Zorastian thought by the Persians. Finally the fall of the Southern Kingdom required a heavy reinterpretation of the scriptures by a ” polemical writer” to account for Jerusalem’s downfall. The Deuteronomists answer was “idol worship” a crime that wasn’t all that big of a deal in the J or P.

  8. Bryan Benson on July 27, 2006 at 1:17 pm

    DKL — Good points about Barker’s thesis. I suppose the conspiratorial aspect of it does stretch credulity a bit. On the other hand, the manipulation of religious teachings for political purposes of various kinds is not unheard of. In any case, she seems to present quite a lot of evidence that there was an older temple tradition that is obscured from our view in the OT as we have it. This part of the thesis seems unproblematic to me. Her interpreation of what this means is open to a lot of discussion.

    On the Asherah question, I suggest, if you haven’t seen it, Daniel Peterson’s essay “Nephi and his Asherah.” I take your point that we don’t worship our Heavenly Mother. But, on the other hand, She is part of our revealed theology, and this is quite significant with respect to “restoration”–which, as we understand, is an ongoing affair.

    Clinton — I’ve only read a couple of Barker’s books, and I can’t remember exactly how, or if, she directly identifies the Priestly writer in those books. One that I have not read, but which may address this question is “The Older Testament.” I’ll review the books I have and see if I can answer your question.

    Thanks.

  9. DKl on July 27, 2006 at 1:18 pm

    Clinton, I haven’t read the book that you mention, but I agree with you that Israel is pretty clearly not monotheistic until Persia sacked Jerusalem. Even the Old Testament itself makes this pretty clear at times.

    I was kind of careful parsing my words, so as to not to instigate unneeded controversy (but as long as you’ve brought it up…). But I spoke of Yahweh’s consort purely as something that we Mormons would reject as part of the true Jewish religion (so to speak), insofar as the conventional wisdom takes the non-apostasized Old Testament Hebrew religion to reflect certain eternal doctrines. But Yahweh did have a consort, and the Hebrews did worship other Gods within the bonds of the Ten Commandments, which requires merely that other Gods do not take precedence over Yahweh.

    I’m not sure that you can say that Idol worship wasn’t a big deal to J. The strict Yahwistic cults did forbid them, and this appears to be part of why David did not build a temple. I think that it’s more accurate to say that the Deuteronomist objected primarily to the introduction of the worship of foreign Gods.

    I do subscribe to the documentary hypothesis for the Torah, and I do think that it is pretty far off the mark to view the Deuteronomist as a corruptor of tradition any more than J, P, & E. They’ve all got their own agenda, and they all represent different stages or branches of the same shrubbery of belief. The Deuteronomist represents just one more tradition that tends to be more polemical than the rest and that appears to have gotten the last word on a great many issues. I think that gets distorted if we try to introduce a J, P, & E vs the Deuteronomist type of scenario.

  10. DKl on July 27, 2006 at 1:18 pm

    Clinton, I haven’t read the book that you mention, but I agree with you that Israel is pretty clearly not monotheistic until Persia sacked Jerusalem. Even the Old Testament itself makes this pretty clear at times.

    I was kind of careful parsing my words, so as to not to instigate unneeded controversy (but as long as you’ve brought it up…). But I spoke of Yahweh’s consort purely as something that we Mormons would reject as part of the true Jewish religion (so to speak), insofar as the conventional wisdom takes the non-apostasized Old Testament Hebrew religion to reflect certain eternal doctrines. But Yahweh did have a consort, and the Hebrews did worship other Gods within the bonds of the Ten Commandments, which requires merely that other Gods do not take precedence over Yahweh.

    I’m not sure that you can say that Idol worship wasn’t a big deal to J. The strict Yahwistic cults did forbid them, and this appears to be part of why David did not build a temple. I think that it’s more accurate to say that the Deuteronomist objected primarily to the introduction of the worship of foreign Gods.

    I do subscribe to the documentary hypothesis for the Torah, and I do think that it is pretty far off the mark to view the Deuteronomist as a corruptor of tradition any more than J, P, & E. They’ve all got their own agenda, and they all represent different stages or branches of the same shrubbery of belief. The Deuteronomist represents just one more tradition that tends to be more polemical than the rest and that appears to have gotten the last word on a great many issues. I think that gets distorted if we try to introduce a J, P, & E vs the Deuteronomist type of scenario.

  11. Clinton on July 27, 2006 at 2:17 pm

    –DK–
    I’m not sure that you can say that Idol worship wasn’t a big deal to J. The strict Yahwistic cults did forbid them, and this appears to be part of why David did not build a temple. I think that it’s more accurate to say that the Deuteronomist objected primarily to the introduction of the worship of foreign Gods.

    This is an interesting stance you have taken here. Although I have not looked thoroughly, I can’t find a single instance in which the J author records a prophet destroying any alter or shrine dedicated to another God. Can you think of an example? I would be more than happy to eat my words here. I am also intigued by your linking this with David’s reticence in building the temple. Would you mind expanding this comment a bit? I do think that your characterization of D is accurate and a much better parsing of words. I also agree that D is not anymore a corrupter than are J, P, and E’s view. As to YHWH’s bride … I would suggest that this concept is even in modern Christianity with the church in fact being the bride of Christ. It is replete in the pages of Jewish Mysticism.

  12. Clinton on July 27, 2006 at 2:19 pm

    –BB–
    I’ll review the books I have and see if I can answer your question.

    Great I would really like to know her take on this.

  13. Jim F. on July 27, 2006 at 4:00 pm

    DKL, I am hardly an authority on Barker. I’ve read several of her books and participated in a seminar she led, but I’ve forgotten a lot more of both than I retained, so I’m ready to be corrected on anything I say about her. However, I don’t think that she reads the Deuteronomist as anything more than one more tradition laid over the older one, nor does she read his revisions as a consipracy. Her argument is that the Deuteronomist did some radical rewriting, but that doesn’t necessarily require a conspiracy, especially not during a time of social and political upheaval with a population that is mostly illiterate.

  14. Jim F. on July 27, 2006 at 4:11 pm

    By the way, I remain skeptical of Barker’s overall thesis–though she has a number of very interesting arguments and appeals to interesting evidence–not because I think she’s arguing for a conspiracy, but because the general rule is that those of us who aren’t specialists and, therefore, can’t make the arguments should rely on the majority of the authorities in a field. If most scientists believe that fluoride in the water is good for teeth and otherwise harmless, I should accept their opinion–unless I have the training, etc. to make myself part of the discussion and to argue against them. Appeals to authority are pointless if the presumed authority doesn’t represent the majority of the field.

    As interesting as Barker’s stuff is, unless I’m willing to learn the languages, history, etc., I should stick with the majority of biblical scholars on any question of biblical scholarship. Barker’s not yet in the majority, so I should remain skeptical about her claims.

  15. DKL on July 27, 2006 at 4:15 pm

    Jim F., you’re probably much more of an authority on Barker than I am. My understanding is that the Deuteronomist was trying to change the way that history was written in a more aggressive way than J, E, or P in order to re-inforce the reforms made at the time of Josiah. I’m also using the term Deuteronomist more broadly than is used (strictly speaking) in the documentary hypothesis, to apply to the Deuteronomistic strain of history that persists through the historical books.

    Clinton, my reference on the Yahwists and the Temple is from Friedman’s very good (but poorly named) exposition of the documentary hypothesis Who Wrote the Bible? (spoiler: it was Ezra). I’ll look it up when I get home.

  16. Jim F. on July 27, 2006 at 4:18 pm

    DKL, I think my “radical rewriting” = your “written in a more aggressive way”–more or less. Unfortunately, I don’t think we have much of an argument here.

  17. Clinton on July 27, 2006 at 4:24 pm

    –DKL–
    Clinton, my reference on the Yahwists and the Temple is from Friedman’s very good (but poorly named) exposition of the documentary hypothesis Who Wrote the Bible? (spoiler: it was Ezra). I’ll look it up when I get home.

    That is a GREAT book. However I don’t remember anything in it to that effect. Perhaps you meant the Elohist made many comments on the Northern Kingdom’s Bull-El statues. However I can’t think of a single case when he actively enforces it.

  18. DKL on July 27, 2006 at 5:04 pm

    Clinton, I’ll try to dig the book out of the boxes in my cellar when I get home.

    If my memory serves, Friedman has the Yahwists believing that things built by man were unworthy to represent God. Hence, if you had to build something for God to dwell in, a tabernacle tent was to be preferred, since it (at least) had no pretense of permanence. In like manner, the strictest Yahwists (though definitely polytheists) considered worshiping any God who was happy being represented by the handiwork of man to be a bad thing.

    I may be wrong on both these counts. I write all of this stuff on the blogs pretty much off the top of my head. Unfortunately, my brain does not quite work the way that I’d like it to; specifically, I often confuse names, dates, places, and other facts. (But I still feel like I might appear to be so much smarter if my wife just hadn’t have put so many of my books in the basement…)

  19. Clinton on July 27, 2006 at 5:17 pm

    According to Friedman the only one that ever writes about the tabernacle is P. However I don’t remember anything like that in “Who Wrote the Bible.” However I obviously don’t remember everything I read :-)

  20. DKL on July 27, 2006 at 5:38 pm

    Clinton, I see from a quick google that you’re right that the tabernacle stories are P. At this point, I’m really hoping I can find my copy.

  21. DKL on July 27, 2006 at 8:04 pm

    Clinton, I’m getting ready to leave the office. I just did a quick google looking for info on David’s conservative cult of Yahweh in Jerusalem. A couple of things

    The Tabernacle was not moved to Jerusalem with the Ark. As a consequence, the cult of Yahweh at Jerusalem certainly was not concerned with it. I seem to have conflated the Ark and the Tabernacle in regards to importance to the Yahwists.

    Also, the sources that I’ve found that mention the influence of Yahwists as an influence in David’s building a temple mention it in passing, taking it for granted.

    I’ll look a bit further as soon as I’m home.

    About the church as the Bride of God compared to the Hebrew consort of Yahweh, that is pretty far fetched. The church is a literal aggregate, and is only figuratively wedded to God. Asherah is literally a deity, and was worshiped by other civilizations. If I recall correctly, Herodotus even equates her with the Greek Aphrodite.

  22. DKL on July 27, 2006 at 9:26 pm

    I found my copy of Friedman’s book, at the bottom of a box on the bottom of a pile of boxes of books. Being on the bottom, it is unfortunately water damaged from a plumbing problem years back. It’s still readable (thankfully the plumbing problem involved only water…), and I can’t find a word in it supporting my thesis.

    That said, the box and those around it were filled with a few of my other books that are relevant. The New Jerusalem Bible states in it’s not for verses 6-8 of 2 Samuel states:

    vv 6-7 of seem to be the earliest expression of a current of opinion hostile to the Temple, more overtly stated in 1 K 8:27; Is 66:1-2; Ac 7:48. Nathan is himself a supporter of the ancient tradition represented by the ark, and is opposed to the innovation of a temple on Canaanite lines….

    The reasoning of Nathan’s prophecy supports the resistance I ascribe to the Yahwists. Nathan says, in effect, “People don’t build houses for Yahweh. He builds them for others.” And then he proceeds to talk about the House of David, making a promise of dynasty. Verse 12, referring to the building of the temple is commonly thought to be a later addition.

    Robert Alter’s commentary disagrees with the thesis that it is an expression of a “pre-Soloomonic” anti-temple ideology. Instead, arguing on grounds related more to the development of the plot line for Samuel, he suggests that this denial sets up Solomon’s temple as a more deliberate enterprise.

    Alter’s reasoning strikes me as a bit shaky. There seems to have been a temple in Shiloh for which no deliberate instruction is recorded. It strikes me as Yahweh’s claim that he has not thus far had a house is more indicative of belief that is local to Jerusalem.

    The Oxford Bible Commentary suggests that Nathan is a member of the “pre-Israelite Jebusite cult in Jerusalem” and that he opposes the construction of the temple because it will eclipse the Jebusite temple in Jerusalem. Nathan backs Solomon and his temple, because he feels that the Jebusites have an in with him:

    A possible interpretation of these events is that Nathan objected to a Davidic temple because it was intended to replace the old Jebusite one, but did not object to a Solomonic temple because the Jebusites were in the Solomonic camp and could therefore influence him.

    I view this as unlikely–so much so that it puzzles me. David appears to be a conservative Yahwist, and I think it’s a strain to have him consult a prophet from a non-Yahwistic religion. Moreover, Solomon wasn’t too nice to the Jebusites. So there’s not a good reason to put Nathan in league with Solomon if he’s a Jebusite. Lastly, Jerusalem was a newly concurred city. It doesn’t seem in keeping with the way that conquerors worked in those days to defer to local religious leaders concerning religious practices practiced among the conquering peoples.

    This isn’t much in the way of support for my thesis. I know I have a book somewhere that argues for a direct association between David and the conservative Yahwistic cult in Jerusalem, drawing interesting inferences concerning the temple–though it’s evidently not the one that I thought it was. But I can’t find it. But it is surely a matter that is open to quite a bit of interpretation.

  23. Clinton on July 28, 2006 at 11:46 am

    —DKL—
    About the church as the Bride of God compared to the Hebrew consort of Yahweh, that is pretty far fetched. The church is a literal aggregate, and is only figuratively wedded to God. correctly, Herodotus even equates her with the Greek Aphrodite.

    Holy misunderstanding Batman!!! Wow if this is what you got from my comments then I REALLY didn’t explain it well. Barker and other has suggested that the consort of YHVH concept was not only prexilic but also was around during Christ’s time and afterwards. My only point was that Paul’s (I think I am correct in my attribution here) likening of the Church to the Bride of Christ is evidence that such a concept was still around at the time of Paul. The later Kabbalistic writing also associate the Nukva (Bride) of Ze’ir Anpin (the Messiah figure) with Malkuth (Kingdom) of God .. ie the church. This is well documented in Patai’s the Hebrew Goddess.

  24. DKL on July 28, 2006 at 2:13 pm

    Clinton, evidently I misunderstood your previous comment. I don’t view it as unlikely that the consort point of view was still around at Paul’s time. It’s likely that there are people who worship that way today.

    I still don’t see Paul’s analogy as evidence for this. Paul’s conception of God being wedded to his followers is more easily traced back to the Psalms or Isaiah. And I do think that it’s far fetched to link the language used in this respect (e.g., Isaiah’s “God will rejoice over you as a bridegroom”) as traces of consort worship.

  25. BrianJ on August 14, 2006 at 12:12 am

    Please read Lord Byron’s poem, The Destruction of Sennacherib. The rhythm of the poem reminds the reader of the beating hooves of horses charging.