ISRAEL STORY 05 – Israel divided – Elijah and Elisha

SPRING 2015 BIBLE STUDY RESOURCES:

Albertz, Rainer.  A History of Israelite Religion in the Old Testament Period.  Volume I: From the Beginnings to the End of the Monarchy.  Translated by John Bowden in 1994.  Part of the Old Testament Library series edited by James L. Mays, Carol A. Newsom, and David L. Petersen.  (Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, 1994).

Albertz, Rainer.  A History of Israelite Religion in the Old Testament Period.  Volume II: From the Exile to the Maccabees.  Translated by John Bowden in 1994.  Part of the Old Testament Library series edited by James L. Mays, Carol A. Newsom, and David L. Petersen.  (Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, 1994).

Boling, Robert G.  Judges.  Part of the Anchor Bible series, W.F. Allbright and David Noel Freedman general editors.  (Doubleday, Garden City, 1975).

Bright, John.  A History of Israel, second edition.  (Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1972).

Campbell Jr., Edward F..  Ruth.  Part of the Anchor Bible Series, W.F. Allbright and David Noel Freedman general editors.  (Yale University Press, New Haven, 1975).

Cohn, Robert L.   2 Kings.  Part of the Berit Olam: Studies in Hebrew Narrative & Poetry series, edited by David W. Cotter.  (Liturgical Press, Collegeville, 2000).

Cotter, David W.  Genesis.  Part of the Berit Olam: Studies in Hebrew Narrative & Poetry series, edited by David W. Cotter.  (Liturgical Press, Collegeville, 2003).

Creach, Jerome F. D..  Joshua.  Part of the Interpretation Bible commentary series edited by James L. Mays.  (John Knox Press, Louisville, 2003).

De Vaux, Roland.  The Early History of Israel.  Translated by David Smith. (Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1978).

Gordon, Cyrus H. and Gary A. Rendsburg.  The Bible and the Ancient Near East, fourth edition.  (W. W. Norton, New York, 1997).

Hayes, John H. and J. Maxwell Miller.  Israelite and Judaean History.  Part of the Old Testament Library series edited by John H. Hayes and J. Maxwell Miller.  (Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1977).

Hawk, L. Daniel.  Joshua.  Part of the Berit Olam: Studies in Hebrew Narrative and Poetry series, David W. Cotter editor.  (Liturgical Press, Collegeville, 2000).

Jobling, David.   1 Samuel.  Part of the Berit Olam: Studies in Hebrew Narrative and Poetry series, David W. Cotter editor.  (Liturgical Press, Collegeville, 1998).

LaCocque, Andre.  Ruth.  Part of the Continentl Commentary series.  Translated by K. C. Hanson.  (Fortress Press, Minneapolis, 2004).

Linafelt, Tod.  “Ruth” in Ruth & Esther.  Part of the Berit Olam: Studies in Hebrew Narrative and Poetry series, David W. Cotter Editor.  (Liturgical Press, Collegeville, 1999).

Mazar, Amihai.  Archaeology of the Land of the Bible : 10,000 – 586 B.C.E.  Part of the Anchor Yale Bible Reference Library edited by David Noel Freedman.  (Yale University Press, New Haven, 1990).

Morrison, Craig E.   2 Samuel.  Part of the Berit Olam: Studies in Hebrew Narrative and Poetry series, Jerome T. Walsh editor.  (Liturgical Press, Collegeville, 2013).

Myers, Eric M. and Mark A. Chancey.  Alexander to Constantine: Archaeology of the Land of the Bible.  Volume 3 of the Anchor Bible Reference Library edited  by John Collins.  (Yale University Press, New Haven, 2012)

Niditch, Susan.  Judges.  Part of the Old Testament Library series, editorial advisory board Brown, Newsome, Petersen. (Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, 2008).

Propp, William H. C..  Exodus 1-18: A new translation with introduction and commentary.  Volume 2 of the Anchor Yale Bible, William F. Albright and David Noel Freedman General Editiors.  (Yale University Press, New Haven, 1999).

Provan, Iain, V. Philips Long, and Tremper Longman III.  A Biblical History of Israel.  (Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, 2003).

Sakenfeld, Katherine Doob.   Ruth.  Part of the Interpretation Biblical commentary series, James L. Mays series editor.  (John Knox Press, Louisville, 1999).

Sarna, Nahum M.  Genesis.  Part of The JPS Torah Commentary, edited by Nahum M. Sarna.  (The Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia, 1989).

—————–.  Exodus.  Part of The JPS Torah Commentary, edited by Nahum M. Sarna.  (The Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia, 1991).

Scherman, Rabbi Nosson.  The Prophets: Joshua / Judges: The early prophets with  commentary anthologized from the Rabbinic writings.  (Mesorah Publications, New York, 2000).

Scherman, Rabbi Nosson and Meir Zlotowitz, editors.  The Mishnah: Seder Zeraim vol. IIa PEAH.   A new translation with a commentary anthologized from Talmudic, Midrashic, and rabbinic sources.  Part of the Artscroll Mishnah series.  (Mesorah Publications, New York, 1990).

Scherman, Rabbi Nosson and Meir Zlotowitz, editors.  The Mishnah: Seder Zeraim vol. 1a SEDER MOED.   A new translation with a commentary anthologized from Talmudic, Midrashic, and rabbinic sources.  Part of the Artscroll Mishnah series.  (Mesorah Publications, New York, 1982).

Schneider, Tammi J.  Judges.  Part of the Berit Olam: Studies in Hebrew Narrative and Poetry series, David W. Cotter editor.  (Liturgical Press, Collegeville, 2000).

Silver, Daniel Jeremy.  A History of Judaism: Volume 1, From Abraham to Maimonides.  (Basic Books Inc., New York, 1974).

Stern, Ephraim.  Archaeology of the Land of the Bible.  Volume II: The Assyrian, Babylonian, and Persian Periods (732 – 332 B.C.E.).  Part of the Anchor Bible Reference Library edited  by David Noel Freedman.  (Doubleday, New York, 2001)

Walsh, Jerome T.   1 Kings.  Part of the Berit Olam: Studies in Hebrew Narrative and Poetry series, David W. Cotter editor.  (Liturgical Press, Collegeville, 1996).

Zlotowitz, Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Nosson Scherman.  The Book of Ruth: A new translation with a commentary anthologized from Tlmudic, Midrashic, and Rabbinic sources.  (Mesorah Publications, New York, 1976).

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Silver p. 77: “The Bible contains fifteen prophetic books, each of which purports to present the words delivered by one of these messengers.  These books must be handled with caution since most are composite anthologies in which material from various men and times has been brought together, usually without any editorial warning.”

Prophecy (speaking a message in the name of a god / God) was not unique to Israel.  Balaam is the most prominent example within the bible itself of a non-Jewish prophet.

Silver p. 79: “Classic Hebrew prophecy is not a phenomenon of compulsive babbling or talking with tongues, but of powerful inspiration and deliberate speech.  The prophets “received” or “saw” or “heard” the divine word, and formed the vision into appropriate and effective phrases.”

Silver p. 79: “What they shared was a sense of being possessed, which is the root meaning of ”navi”, one who has a call or vocation (from God).”

Sometimes you hear the Hebrew Bible called the Tanak:

  • T – Torah (5 books of Moses, Genesis Exodus Numbers Leviticus Deuteronomy)
  • N – Neviim (the prophets)
  • K – Ketuvim (other writings)

Silver p. 80: “An arresting feature of biblical prophecy, and one not yet fully explained, is the absence of any message commanding new laws or abrogating existing ones.  Prophecy assumes the Torah covenant and does not seek to reshape its specific regulations.”

Silver p. 83: “If classic prophecy during pre-exilic days can be said to have any central theme, it was that God was made heartsick by an age which misinterpreted and disobeyed its covenant obligation, which looked upon the covenant as essentially a series of cultic and institutional requirements, but was blind to its basic obligation – the law of righteousness.”

There were also “court” prophets in the employ of the king.  These folks tended to tell the king whatever he wanted to hear and were therefore not respected much outside the palace walls.

Samuel was a transitional figure – priest, last of the judges and first of the prophets (not counting Moses).

Elijah = the LORD is my God.  Silver p. 92: “So many legends cluster about his career that some scholars doubt that a real man can be disentangled from the fable: these legends, even if nor invention, reveal significant elements in Israel’s understanding of prophecy.”

  • Overpowers the priests of Baal
  • Miracle cures,
  • Feeding the poor family and more.

Silver p. 93: “In Christian tradition Elisha’s “miracles” provided the pattern which editors of the New Testament traced as they cut and shaped the wonder-working legends of Jesus’ life.”

Rehoboam succeeded Solomon in Jerusalem and Judah but was not accepted in the north.

Hayes p. 384: “At a minimum, Israel in the north expected that the successor to David’s throne would present himself before the representatives of the northern tribes in order to receive from them their own particular acclamation and to renew the personal union.  Rehoboam appears to have understood this clearly, for he journeyed to Shechem, an ancient northern religious center (Josh 24) in order to obtain there the kingship. …  Their main objection was to the harsh service of forced labor which Solomon had imposed upon Israel.  “    The kingdom was not really divided but the previous union fell apart.  Jeroboam became king in the north.  Bethel became the northern kingdom’s cultic center.

Walsh p. 160  “Rehoboam’s journey to Shechem reminds us of the dual nature of the Davidic kingdom.  It is not really a single political entity but a union of two originally distinct territories, “Judah and “Israel” (the latter is often called “all Israel” in 1 Kings), David himself acquired the crowns of the two territories on different occasions.  He became king of Judah while in Hebron (2 Sam. 2:14).  Seven years later the elders of Israel came to him at Hebron and asked him to be king over Israel as well (2 Sam 5:1-5).”

Taxes and forced labor had been required by Solomon of the northern tribes but NOT of Judah.  This caused significant tensions and Rehoboam’s refusal to change it resulted in the split.

Walsh suggests that the text in Hebrew reveals that the elders advised Rehoboam only to tell the North TODAY that he would lighten the load, and then, once made the king, he could do whatever he wanted to do.  The youngsters he consults suggest taking a harder line and actually mock the petitioners.

Jeroboam sets up 2 golden calves – meant to remind us of the Sinai incident.  Another reading though – possible meant to be a seat for God to rest on (like the cherubim on the ark in the temple).  There is a strong bias toward Judah (the southern kingdom) in the text – the implication is that new/old worship alternatives to Jerusalem and the temple there means that the north has stepped onto a slippery slope of idolatry.  This will last to the time of Jesus and the region’s Samaritans.

The story of Elijah occupies 1 Kings chapters 17 through 19.  Walsh p. 233 – food and drink; famine; drought; life and death; word and obedience are the motifs

In the story of Elijah vs prophets of Baal there are several key elements: the contest of the gods; the rivalry between the prophets, and the conversion of the people.

Walsh p. 261 advises us to read the story of the contest in the context of the drought.  This is all a direct assault on the Canaanites and their beliefs.  Baal, their god, was the god who controlled the rains.  “Rider on the Clouds”.  The region has a rainy season (mid-October to mid-April) while the rest of the time it is very dry.

 

Walsh p. 287: “The journeys of Moses and Elijah are not identical, of course, but they share enough common elements to establish an echo between them.  Both prophets flee eastward to escape a king’s wrath (Ex. 2:15; 1 Kings 17:2-6).  Both lodge with a family in a foreign land (Exod. 2:16-22; 1 Kings 17: 8-24).  At Yahweh’s word both return to their homeland to face and challenge the king and to awaken faith among the people of Israel (Ex. 3-4; 1Kings 18).  Both journey to Sinai / Horeb, where they experience a personal revelatory theophany.  Both then depart for the land of Israel via Transjordan.”

Elijah as a prophet like Moses.  Moses and Elijah on the mountain with Jesus at Transfiguration.

Cohn p. xiv: “While other prophets appear in 1-2 Kings, only Elisha is accorded sustained attention.  In a series of episodes, some short and others quite complex, the character of a charismatic wonder worker emerges.  Introduced in 1 Kings 19 as Elijah’s successor, he comes into his own in 2 Kings upon Elijah’s death when he inherits a “double portion” of the elder prophet’s spirit (vv. 9, 15).”

His first miracle after taking over for Elijah and crossing through the Jordan, which has divided for him, is to cure the bitter waters of a well in a nearby town – just as Moses did at Marah after he led the people through the sea.

 

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