Job not ‘oldest book of the Bible’

Book of Job probably dependent upon Tobit

 

Part Two:

Job not ‘oldest book of the Bible’

 

 

by

 Damien F. Mackey

“I proposed long ago that Job actually lived during the Biblical ice age …. I consider the book of Job to be the oldest book of the Bible, written no more than 700 years after the Noahic flood …”.

 

Dr Bernard E. Northrup

 

 “Most Bible scholars agree that Job is probably the oldest book of the Bible.  The timeframe of Job is probably somewhere between Noah and Moses since it does not refer to Israel, the Old Testament law or any reference to God’s covenant with Abraham”.

 

agapegeek

 

“The Book of Job is full of fascinating paradoxes: despite it’s being the oldest book of the Bible (Job 19:23), it is very badly known …”.

 

Gerard Gertoux

 

“Job is probably the oldest book in the Bible. … contains some of the most difficult and archaic Hebrew in the Bible. Even the name Job is known to be an ancient name. …. Job probably dates back to the time of the patriarchs, around 2100-1700BC”.

 

Rob Buckingham

Certainly it is true that many, if not necessarily (as above): “Most Bible scholars agree that Job is [or] probably [is] the oldest book of the Bible”. 

Despite all that, there is still a great degree of uncertainty about it as I wrote in my article:

 

Book of Job a Puzzle to Scholars

 https://www.academia.edu/29786227/Book_of_Job_a_Puzzle_to_Scholars

 

“The authorship, date, and place of composition of the Book of Job constitute some of the most keenly contested and most uncertain problems in Biblical Criticism. There is perhaps no book in the Canon of Scripture to which more diverse dates have been assigned. Every period of Jewish history, from BC 1400 to BC 150, has had its advocates as that to which this mysterious and magnificent poem must be relegated, and this criticism ranges over 1200 years of uncertainty”.

 

And if, as I concluded in Part One of this series:

https://www.academia.edu/36193236/Book_of_Job_probably_dependent_upon_Tobit the Book of Tobit would have pre-dated Job, then the Book of Job must be quite a late product – later than 700 BC (conventional dating), at least, given that: “Tobit …. Date Written: 300-200 BC. Date of Narrative: c. 700 BC” (Catholic News Agency).

Whilst my own estimation would be a date much closer to 700 BC than to 300 BC, the essential point here is that the Book of Job, post-dating 700 BC, could not possibly be “the oldest book of the Bible”.

Genesis itself, for instance, I believe to be far, far earlier. See e.g. my:

 

Structure of the Book of Genesis

https://www.academia.edu/28809452/Structure_of_the_Book_of_Genesis

The prophet Job was, according to my article:

 

Job’s Life and Times

 https://www.academia.edu/3787850/Jobs_Life_and_Times

 

the same as Tobias, the son of Tobit, the family being Naphtalian Israelite exiles in Nineveh during the C8th BC (conventional dating). This is at last a most solid biographical anchor for the otherwise mysterious Job, yet few appear to have taken it up. One reason is probably because the Book of Tobit is not yet accepted as canonical by Jews and Protestants (and the average Catholic is not very Old Testament minded). However, the following is encouraging:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Tobit [emphasis added]

 

… it could be hypothesized that some ancient Jewish rabbinic scholars considered Tobit to be historical. Midrash Bereishit Rabbah, an aggadic commentary on the Book of Genesis compiled circa 400–600 AD, includes a truncated Aramaic version of Tobit. Tobit was also considered part of the Septuagint (the Greek translation/interpretation of the Hebrew Bible).[8] In more contemporary times, a number of Jews in Israel have sought to reclaim Tobit as part of the canon.[16]

 

An important historical clue may be that holy Job’s camels were taken by a band of “Chaldeans” (Job 1:17): “The Chaldeans formed three companies [Heb: רָאשִׁ֑ים], raided the camels, captured the servants, and killed them with swords”. For, the long-lived Tobias endured into the Chaldean era.

For my condensing of the neo-Assyrian and neo-Babylonian eras, see e.g. my:

 

Ashurbanipal and Nabonidus

https://www.academia.edu/35855917/Ashurbanipal_and_Nabonidus

Added to this piece of evidence, I have previously written: “… I would suggest that the Book of Job drew heavily upon the Book of Tobit, the events in which historically, at least (leaving aside the matter of dates of composition), preceded the events as narrated in the Book of Job. This prompted me to write in:

 

Similarities to The Odyssey of the Books of Job and Tobit. Part Two: Tobit’s Dog and ‘Argus’ in Homer

 https://www.academia.edu/36181776/Similarities_to_The_Odyssey_of_the_Books_of_Job_and_Tobit._Part_Two_Tobits_Dog_and_Argus_in_Homer

“Though historically, the events described in the Book of Tobit would have pre-dated those narrated in the Book of Job, with Job, who is Tobias, now being an old man. So there may be good reason to think, instead, that the Book of Job was likely dependent upon Tobit”.

 

In this article, “Similarities to the Odyssey”, I included eight points of “similar motifs and common literary structures between the books of Tobit and of Job: as listed by JiSeong J. Kwon in Meaning and Context in Job and Tobit (JSOT; 2018 Forthcoming): https://www.academia.edu/34905218/Meaning_and_Context_in_Job_and_Tobit_JSOT_2018_Forthcoming_

 

 

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Book of Job probably dependent upon Tobit

Image result for suffering job

by

 Damien F. Mackey

 

Tobias was ‘a chip off the old block’. Hence Raguel, when he first laid eyes on the young man, would exclaim “to his wife Edna, ‘Doesn’t this young man look just like my cousin Tobit?’” (Tobit 7:2). And, as I pointed out … Job (my Tobias) answered the accusations of his three ‘friends’ with the maxims that his father Tobit had taught him – maxims which he had faithfully observed … very much influenced by his pious father.

  

 

Biblical commentators can really scratch their heads when trying to solve the problems of the Book of Job:

 

Book of Job a Puzzle to Scholars

 https://www.academia.edu/29786227/Book_of_Job_a_Puzzle_to_Scholars

 

“The authorship, date, and place of composition of the Book of Job constitute some of the most keenly contested and most uncertain problems in Biblical Criticism. There is perhaps no book in the Canon of Scripture to which more diverse dates have been assigned. Every period of Jewish history, from BC 1400 to BC 150, has had its advocates as that to which this mysterious and magnificent poem must be relegated, and this criticism ranges over 1200 years of uncertainty”.

 

So I wrote in:

 

Job’s Life and Times

https://www.academia.edu/3787850/Jobs_Life_and_Times

 

in which article I was able to lift the veil of obscurity at least concerning the identity of the prophet Job, his tribe and family, his historical era, and his geography.

The fact that many scholars have recognised strong parallels between the books of Job and Tobit, despite the great uncertainty about when Job may have lived, has only served to strengthen me in my view that Job was Tobias, the son of Tobit.

Tobias was ‘a chip off the old block’. Hence Raguel, when he first laid eyes on the young man, would exclaim “to his wife Edna, ‘Doesn’t this young man look just like my cousin Tobit?’” (Tobit 7:2). And, as I pointed out in the above article, Job (my Tobias) answered the accusations of his three ‘friends’ with the maxims that his father Tobit had taught him – maxims which he had faithfully observed. Tobias (Job) was very much influenced by his pious father.

Given that, then I would suggest that the Book of Job drew heavily upon the Book of Tobit, the events in which historically, at least (leaving aside the matter of dates of composition), preceded the events as narrated in the Book of Job. This prompted me to write in:

Similarities to The Odyssey of the Books of Job and Tobit. Part Two: Tobit’s Dog and ‘Argus’ in Homer

https://www.academia.edu/36181776/Similarities_to_The_Odyssey_of_the_Books_of_Job_and_Tobit._Part_Two_Tobits_Dog_and_Argus_in_Homer

 

“Though historically, the events described in the Book of Tobit would have pre-dated those narrated in the Book of Job, with Job, who is Tobias, now being an old man. So there may be good reason to think, instead, that the Book of Job was likely dependent upon Tobit”.

 

In this article, “Similarities to the Odyssey”, I included eight points of “similar motifs and common literary structures between the books of Tobit and of Job: as listed by JiSeong J. Kwon in Meaning and Context in Job and Tobit (JSOT; 2018 Forthcoming): https://www.academia.edu/34905218/Meaning_and_Context_in_Job_and_Tobit_JSOT_2018_Forthcoming_ Here is part of that author’s Introduction to his article, in which he suggests “a probable dependence of Tobit upon Job”:

 

The book of Tobit describes the protagonist as someone located in Galilee, a member of the tribe of Naphtali, in the Assyrian city of Nineveh …. Because of the imprecise chronological order and geographical inaccuracy [sic] …

 

Mackey’s comment: But see my:

 

A Common Sense Geography of the Book of Tobit

 https://www.academia.edu/8675202/A_Common_Sense_Geography_of_the_Book_of_Tob

 

… it has been supposed that the story and characters are fictional.

This deuterocanonical book has frequently been compared with the book of Job, and previous studies have suggested that the author of Tobit draws heavily upon Israelite wisdom materials and especially the book of Job as its plausible predecessor ….

For instance, Irene Nowell insists that “the structure of the two  books is similar” and “the progress of Tobit’s life is modelled on that of Job”; similarily Devorah Dimant maintains that Tobit refers to the Greek Job, not the MT Job;  Francis Macatangay that “Tobit employs motifs and contents found in Job, thereby making Job a literary model evoked in Tobit”. Among scholars studying the book of Job, Choon-Leong Seow in his commentary claims that “pride of place in terms of the book’s most substantial early influence must go to the book of Tobit”. Among recent interpreters, some point out that the common imagery of “light” and “darkness” is found frequently in both books. For instance, Anathea Portier-Young insists that the author of Tobit “in conversation with the book of Job” develops common themes such as “blindness, sight, and the hidden presence of God”, “advocate and accuse”, “chaos, providence, and holy help”. Although pointing out differences between them, her claim is allegedly prompted by the presupposition that Tobit uses the earlier [sic] book of Job. ….

 

 

 

Monsters in Book of Job

Image result for apatosaurus

Part One:

Were Dinosaurs Intended?

 

by

Damien F. Mackey

 

“Look at Behemoth, which I made along with you and which feeds on grass like an ox.
What strength it has in its loins, what power in the muscles of its belly!”

Job 40:15-16

“Can you pull in Leviathan with a fishhook or tie down its tongue with a rope?
Can you put a cord through its nose or pierce its jaw with a hook?”

Job 41:1-2

 

 

Some Creationists think dinosaurs were probably intended in these biblical descriptions.

Wayne Jackson, for example, referring to Creationist Dr. Henry Morris, will ask the question: Why do you suppose that a dinosaur is rarely proposed as a candidate for behemoth?”

https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/1007-job-behemoth-and-dinosaurs

 

Dinosaur

 

Why do you suppose that a dinosaur is rarely proposed as a candidate for behemoth? The answer is very simple. As noted earlier, the common perception is that dinosaurs became extinct long before man arrived upon this planet (approximately 65 million years, it is alleged).Accordingly, behemoth simply could not be a variety of dinosaur — because the chronological disparity prohibits such. Dr. Henry Morris has addressed the matter in this fashion.

 

“Modern Bible scholars, for the most part, have become so conditioned to think in terms of the long ages of evolutionary geology that it never occurs to them that mankind once lived in the same world with the great animals that are now found only as fossils” (p. 115).

 

As we have demonstrated already, there is unequivocal biblical testimony that human beings and dinosaurs inhabited the same early environment of the earth, and there is not a shred of scientific evidence that proves otherwise. ….

 

And Mart-Jan Paul, in “Behemoth and leviathan in the book of Job”, asking, “What, then, was behemoth?”, will suggest that it may have been a now extinct apatosaur, or something akin to it: https://creation.com/behemoth-and-leviathan

 

What, then, was behemoth?

 

If we take extinct animals into consideration, a herbivorous dinosaur seems a more likely candidate. The apatosaur had a large tail, lived on green plants and weighed about 30 tonnes. The ultrasaur could reach a height of 18 m and a length of 30 m, with a weight of 136 tonnes. It also was a herbivore with an enormous tail. The brachiosaur was 12 m tall, 23 m long and 60 to 70 tonnes in weight. Its tail could reach a length of nearly 6 m and a breadth of nearly 1.5 m. In the sauropods, large bundles of muscles are visible on the outside of the body of the animal. Behemoth is not only a herbivore, but more specifically it is a grass-eater. An animal that does fit this aspect is the 15 m long nigersaur, found in the Republic of Niger in Africa.13

 

Because new kinds of extinct animals continue to be found in our time, and because the description in Job 40 is not specific enough, we cannot identify precisely which animal is described. Neither do we know whether the above-mentioned animals still lived in the time of Job, but it is useful for our exegesis to include such examples. ….

 

Allan Steel has, for his part, written an entire article on the subject, “Could Behemoth Have Been a Dinosaur?”: https://answersingenesis.org/dinosaurs/could-behemoth-have-been-a-dinosaur/ in which he concludes:

 

….

The whole passage in Job 40 concerning Behemoth certainly suggests a large animal, and no known living animal fits the passage adequately (for various reasons, including the detailed habitat presented).

 

The most natural interpretation of the key clause Job 40:17a is that the tail of Behemoth is compared to a cedar for its great size, and there is nothing in the context which contradicts this possibility, even though the exact sense of the verb is extremely difficult to determine.

Consequently, the most reasonable interpretation (which also takes the whole passage into account) is that Behemoth was a large animal, now extinct, which had a large tail. Thus some type of extinct dinosaur should still be considered a perfectly reasonable possibility according to our present state of knowledge. ….

 

Some Creationists are actually of the view that there were dinosaurs on board Noah’s Ark.

 

The ridiculousness of such a view has been painfully – but also humorously (as well it should be) – exposed by professor Ian Plimer in his book, Telling Lies for God.

Plimer, whom Creationists are quick to denounce, has actually done a service for conservative biblical scholars throughout much of this book.

 

But such science-based criticisms do not deter not stop the likes of John Mackay, “DINOSAURS: How could Noah have fitted such huge animals on the Ark?”: http://askjohnmackay.com/dinosaurs-how-could-noah-have-fitted-such-huge-animals-on-the-ark/ Apparently Noah and his family had been busy collecting dinosaur eggs:

 

Many years ago sceptic and Geology Professor Ian Plimer made this same challenge in his book Telling Lies for God (Random House, 1994) where he claimed Noah had to take on board two “80 tonne Ultrasaurus dinosaurs”. (pp105 & 115) Other critics have challenged: “How could you fit a four story high Brachiosaurus on a three story high boat?”

 

But these questions expose a hidden assumption: Why do most people think that all the creatures that got on the ark were overgrown adults? Why not babies or juveniles, and if so, how big was a baby dinosaur? Genesis specifies the size of the ark, but not the size of the animals that came to get on board. However, since it was God who sent the land dwelling, air breathing creatures to Noah, and since this God had told Noah how big to build the Ark, (Genesis 6:14-16) then it shouldn’t surprise you that the same God would have known exactly what size Diamantinasaurus or Deinonychus to send.

 

So how small could dinosaurs have been? It may surprise you to know that all dinosaur eggs discovered to date can be held in your hand. The largest dinosaur egg known is 16” (41 cm) long. All others are smaller than the biggest bird eggs. It seems that just like their living cousins the crocodiles, dinosaurs hatched out of eggs and were born cute little guys. Just as present day 10cm (4 inch) long baby crocs make neat little pets, so ‘hold in your hand’ size baby dinos would have also.

 

Noah could easily have taken two of every kind of dinosaur hatchling onto the Ark in his pockets. It also seems that like their living relatives the crocodiles, (and most modern reptiles), dinosaur bones show that dinosaurs grew fairly fast for the first 25 years of their life, and then their growth slowed down – but most never seemed to cease growing till they died. So in the world before the Noah’s Flood where even men lived to nearly 1,000 years of age, a cute little 6 month old Dino could have reached adult size by the time he was 25 and would then grown to be even more impressive by the time he was 250 yrs old.

But it doesn’t matter how big he could have become – only how small he was when he turned up at the bottom of Noah’s plank.

 

Of course there is one question still in abeyance here. Since the Bible says that God sent two of every kind of land dwelling air breathing creatures to Noah, then did dinosaurs only live on the dry land? Sir Richard Owen who invented the term Dinosaur said so, and it’s been the trend ever since to think this way. Dino’s are certainly reptilian, but then so are sea snakes and crocodiles. Increasingly there is evidence some Dinosaurs lived along the edge of the water (fresh or salt ) where they used the buoyancy of water to hold up their massive weight. Be worth keeping your eye on that research to see where it goes next.

Part Two:

Were they non dinosaur animals?

  

Now the word Behemoth is undoubtedly a Hebrew attempt to render the Egyptian, p-ehe-mau, ‘hippopotamus’, probably not found in Palestine. Leviathan is obviously, from its description, the crocodile. These fierce creatures were both natives of the Nile in Egypt. They were not dinosaurs.

 

 

 

In Part One we saw that some Creationists favour, for the identification of the monsters in the Book of Job (and here I am most interested in the pair, “Behemoth” and “Leviathan”), now-extinct dinosaurs.

 

I personally would not admit dinosaurs, though, either to Noah’s Ark (refer to Part One), or to the Book of Job. For one thing, the Book of Job is far too late by my estimations of it, according to which the prophet Job was the C8th BC (conventional dating) Tobias, son of Tobit. See e.g. my article:

 

Job’s Life and Times

https://www.academia.edu/3787850/Jobs_Life_and_Times

 

That is not to say that there were no dinosaurs on earth at that time, or even much later.

There is, for instance, that intriguing bas-relief of what looks like a Stegosaurus carved on the Ta Prohm temple in Cambodia, built supposedly around 1186 AD.

 

But dinosaurs were not wandering around in the region where Job-Tobias lived, the Fertile Crescent (where evidence for dinosaurs tends to be scarcer, anyway), as late as the C8th BC.

 

Others think that the Job-ian monsters were meant to intend, either regular animals, or demons. Or, that they were somewhat exaggerated descriptions of regular animals intended also to symbolise demons.

 

I personally would favour that firstly regular animals are intended.

After all, the horse which is so majestically described in Job 39:19-25:

….

“Do you give the horse his strength or clothe his neck with a flowing mane?

Do you make him leap like a locust, striking terror with his proud snorting?

He paws fiercely, rejoicing in his strength, and charges into the fray.

He laughs at fear, afraid of nothing; he does not shy away from the sword.

The quiver rattles against his side, along with the flashing spear and lance.

In frenzied excitement he eats up the ground; he cannot stand still when the trumpet sounds.

At the blast of the trumpet he snorts, ‘Aha!’ He catches the scent of battle from afar, the shout of commanders and the battle cry. …”.

 

is simply a horse, though poetically described.

But that secondly they (Behemoth” and “Leviathan” at least) can be extended to symbolise (figurative sense) demons.

 

If they indeed were regular animals, then which ones might have been intended?

Eric Lyons, in a well titled article, “Behemoth and Leviathan–Creatures of Controversy”, refers to the view of St. Thomas Aquinas, that “Behemoth” was the elephant, whilst “Leviathan” was the whale:

https://apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=9&article=184

BEHEMOTH AND LEVIATHAN—
MYTHOLOGICAL OR LITERAL?

 

For centuries, students of the Bible have questioned the identity of behemoth and leviathan. “In the Middle Ages, some theologians, like Albert Magnus, conceived of behemoth as a symbol of sensuality and sin. Others, like Thomas Aquinas, equated behemoth with the elephant, and leviathan with the whale” (Gordis, 1978, p. 569)—both being natural monsters in the literal sense, but representing diabolical power in a figurative sense. In 1663, Samuel Bochart published a two-volume work identifying the two animals under consideration as the hippopotamus and the crocodile. Then, as additional extrabiblical literature came to light in the middle-to-late nineteenth century (most notably from Mesopotamia), the mythological interpretation was revived and comparative mythology became very popular among biblical scholars.

 

By the closing of the nineteenth century, some scholars began to see mythology as the solution to the “identification problem” of the creatures described in Job 40-41. That problem was stated by T.K. Cheyne as early as 1887 when he observed that “…neither Behemoth nor Leviathan corresponds strictly to any known animal” (p. 56). In 1892, C.H. Toy argued that behemoth and leviathan were water animals associated with the “primeval seas Apsu and Tiamat as they appeared to be presented in the emerging Babylonian Epic of Creation” (as quoted in Wilson, 1975, 25:2). In his commentary on Job, Tur-Sinai dismissed behemoth altogether, and suggested instead that the passage of Scripture from Job 40:15 through the end of the chapter is concerned with only one powerful figure—the mythological leviathan (1967, p. 558). Marvin Pope probably is the most recent well-known supporter of the mythological view. Using the Ugaritic texts as support for his theory, Pope has proposed that behemoth and leviathan of Job 40-41 are the same mythological creatures found in the ancient Jewish writings of Enoch, IV Ezra, and the Apocalypse of Baruch. ….

 

Given traditions associating the prophet Job with Egypt, The Testament of Job going so far as to make Job a king in Egypt, a tradition that I have embraced:

 

Stellar Life and Career of the holy Prophet Job

https://www.academia.edu/29141787/Stellar_Life_and_Career_of_the_holy_Prophet_Job

 

then I would favour the view that these were animals well-known to Egypt, Behemoth being the hippopotamus and Leviathan the crocodile.

 

I have previously written on this:

 

As those in the know have shown, however, the Book of Job is saturated with Egyptianisms – just as is the Book of Genesis – indicating an author/editor who had spent much time in Egypt (as Moses certainly had – but I have also argued this for Job as a long time resident in Egypt) …. Now the word Behemoth is undoubtedly a Hebrew attempt to render the Egyptian, p-ehe-mau, ‘hippopotamus’, probably not found in Palestine. Leviathan is obviously, from its description, the crocodile. These fierce creatures were both natives of the Nile in Egypt. They were not dinosaurs.

 

But as wise commentators have also discerned down through the centuries, these Job-ian creatures also symbolically denoted demons. The hippopotamus and the crocodile were often depicted together by Egyptian artists as savage and vengeful demon-idols. The Egyptians, unlike modern skeptics, believed in the powers of darkness and worshipped them. In this they were philosophically advanced at least over the skeptics, then and now, who can believe in nothing beyond matter. Skeptics therefore cannot explain psychic phenomena, miracles, and diabolical possessions – in some cases of which even physically small people have been known to resist the efforts of six strong men to hold them down.

 

That the supernatural and preternatural are factors in the Book of Genesis, and indeed throughout the entire Bible – with cases of demonic possession being recorded in the New Testament – I find quite in keeping with reality in all of its totality, with the perennial philosophy (philosophia perennis) of humankind. The typical modern-day ‘philosopher’, due to his lack of courage to search for the whole truth, but preferring only bits of truth,  lives on a flatlining level of existence, admitting nothing vertical or transcendent, nothing to relieve the bitter passions. ….

 

Part Three: The demonic aspect

 

 “… [Job] chapters 38 and 39 … God had asked Job to survey the universe and ponder its complexity and intricacy. Here, in chapters 40 and 41, God is saying something more than that. Leviathan and Behemoth are representatives of evil, of Satan!

 Derek Thomas

 

 

New World Encyclopedia (“Leviathan”) entertains the possibility that “a demonic beast” may be intended in the Book of Job: http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Leviathan

 

The Leviathan is a Biblical sea monster, a mythical creature referred to in sections of the Old Testament, and while a popular metaphor in both Judaism and Christianity, the creature nonetheless is viewed differently in each religion. The creature can either be seen as a metaphor for the sheer size and power of God‘s creative abilities, or a demonic beast. In this context, the Leviathan is regarded as the monster of the waters, while the Behemoth and the Ziz are regarded as monsters of the earth and the air, respectively. Outside of religion, leviathan has become synonymous with any large sea creature, particularly whales. ….

 

 

And Derek Thomas has provided this original discussion (a sermon) of Job-ian monsters, according to which “Behemoth” is not a hippopotamus, nor “Leviathan” a crocodile: https://www.fpcjackson.org/resource-library/sermons/behemoth-and-leviathan

 

Behemoth and Leviathan

 

Did you ever ask yourself, Why did God make the hippopotamus?

 

Strange question? Yes! Especially in the context Job was in. Imagine it! Job is dying; he has suffered incalculable loss and pain. And He is asked: “Did you ever think about the hippopotamus?” You have to admit, this is a little weird.

 

Actually, the creature God alludes to in chapter 40 is not really a hippopotamus at all, but something called “the Behemoth.” “Look at the behemoth, which I made” (Job 40:15). Modern interpretations of this creature have tried to identify it with the hippo, but not with any great enthusiasm. Others have declared their allegiance to the rhinoceros. Older interpreters preferred to think that what God was talking about here was an elephant. Truth is, the description does not fit any of these creatures with ease.

 

Nor is this all. The next chapter opens with a description of something called “the Leviathan” (Job 41:1). Again, modern interpreters sometimes think this is a crocodile, whilst older ones prefer to think of it as a whale. A creature of the water certainly, but read the description of it and you will find yourself scratching your head and saying, “This is not like anything I’ve ever seen!”

 

Elephant, rhinoceros, or hippopotamus; whale, or crocodile, it doesn’t really matter; all are creatures that look a little odd. …. Everything about them seems out of proportion; cartoon-like exaggerations of mysterious creatures hard to describe without raising a wry smile.

 

What is more puzzling is not so much the identity of Behemoth or Leviathan, but that forty-four verses should be devoted to them at this point in the story. Think about it: Job is at his wits end, and finally God has spoken! He has come with a series of about fifty questions on the nature and origin of the universe. Job has responded to this “ordeal” for that is what it was, a trial of wisdomѕ by submitting to his divine opponent the response of ignorance. He simply did not know the answer to any of God’s questions. Job has to confess to his limitations as a finite human being. He cannot possibly be expected to understand God’s providence any more than he can understand the complexity of the origin and behaviour of the universe I which he lives.

 

But, there is more to Job’s dilemma. He has not only been unreasonable in his demands, asking for answers that he could not possibly have understood even if they had been given him; Job has also been sinful in his criticisms of the Almighty. Job has already lost the first round of this battle, saying: “I put my hand over my mouth, I will say no more” (Job 40:4-5). “Best of three” we almost hear Job saying! And so he must now prepare for another round:

 

“Brace yourself like a man;

I will question you,

and you shall answer me”

(Job 40:7)

 

The Ultimate Challenge

S. Lewis noted in his book A Grief Observed, that we can sometimes ask questions which God finds unanswerable! Questions like, How many hours are there in a mile? ….

But Job’s problem had extended further than merely asking silly questions. Job had been angry with God. In being angry, he had entered into judgment of God and His ways. God had been placed “in the dock.” Job had, in effect, set himself above God. He had committed man’s most prevalent sin: of making himself a god. As Eden-like as this is, Job must now face a deeper reality than his ignorance. He must face up to the sinfulness of his response. If Job had been morally “blameless” before the trial, he had not been during it.

In what must be one of the most startling passages in this extraordinary book, God throws down the gauntlet. If Job really does can discern right and wrong, then let him extend his fury and judge accordingly.

Do you have an arm like God’s,
and can your voice thunder like His?
Then adorn yourself with glory and splendor,
and clothe yourself in honor and majesty.
Unleash the fury of your wrath,
look at every proud man and bring him low,
look at every proud man and humble him,
crush the wicked where they stand.
Bury them all in the dust together;
shroud their faces in the grave.
Then I myself will admit to you
that your own right hand can save you.

(Job 40:9-14)

…. This reduction of God in our minds, has been going on since Adam’s time. We think we know better than God does. Not only that we know better, but that this gives us the moral edge. We are better than God! Somehow, in this whole business of asking moral and theological questions, we assume that our opinion is the right one. We do it all the time, putting God in the dock along with everyone and everything else. We make ourselves God, by making our moral sense the judge of everything. It is not so much our ignorance as it is our impiety that offends.

 

Dungeons and Dragons

 

Don’t you think Job might have been saying to himself: “This is like a nightmare! Here I am, about to die, and God is asking me about scary animals! He cannot be serious!”

Yes, He is!

But why does God ask about Behemoth and Leviathan? And what are they exactly?

And what in the world has this to do with Job’s problem?

 

Behemoth! We have already noted such suggestions as the elephant, or the rhinoceros, or even the hippopotamus. But the description that follows, especially of “his tail sways like a cedar” (40:17), doesn’t fit any of these creatures. ….

….

So too, Leviathan. This creature is capable of breathing out fire!

 

His snorting throws out flashes of light;
his eyes are like the rays of dawn.
Firebrands stream from his mouth;
sparks of fire shoot out.

(41:18-19)

 

A fire-breathing dragon! ….

 

Interesting as this is, there is another interpretation which calls for our attention. The book of Job has already used the word “Leviathan” in chapter 3. There, it seems to function as a synonym for “death” (Job 3:8). Jewish interpreters have been almost unanimous in their interpretation of both Leviathan and Behemoth as symbolic of all that is evil. An entire mythology of evil grew using these creatures to depict it. Nor is this difficult for us to imagine. Those who love the writings of C. S. Lewis or J. R. R. Tolkien are familiar enough with the genre of mythological creatures depicting forces of good and evil, whether it be The Chronicles of Narnia, or The Lord of the Rings. The Egyptians, for example, represented Seti, god of darkness, as a hippopotamus, and Canaanite myth often depicted the god of death skulking in swamps. The Gilgamesh epic has as its central character a bull.

 

Perhaps, the point of this passage is to further elucidate the point made in chapters 38 and 39. God and His ways are unknowable. What better way to reinforce that truth by asking the question: “Did you ever ask yourself why God made the hippopotamus? Or the whale?” The answer, of course, is that we have no idea. And pain is like that! We don’t understand it! But it is not important that we understand it; what is important for us to know is that God understands it!

 

It may be that this section is reinforcing the idea that much of God’s providence is incomprehensible to us.

To us not to God!

 

We are to live with mystery every day of our lives, just as we will in heaven. Even there, there will be things that will baffle us, confound us, knock us off our feet. With angels, we will be in awe of the complexity of what God does.

But there will never be a moment when we shall conclude: this isn’t fair.

Never!

 

The truth encapsulated in Romans 8:28, that everything works out in fulfillment of a divine and all-wise plan does not imply that we can fathom its intricate blue-prints. Sometimes all we can do is gasp at its audacity and sublimity. God’s providence takes out breath away.

 

But perhaps there is more here than that. That, after all, had been the message of chapters 38 and 39 as God had asked Job to survey the universe and ponder its complexity and intricacy. Here, in chapters 40 and 41, God is saying something more than that. Leviathan and Behemoth are representatives of evil, of Satan! Job, remember, knew virtually nothing about Satan. He was certainly entirely ignorant of the first two chapters where we are told of Satan’s wager: “allow me to take away from Job all that he has and you will see him in full scale denial.” That, mercifully, had proved to be false. But Job had very close to it, blaming God for what in fact had been Satan’s doing. Now he is being told in the language of pictures that another being as at work in the universe. This creature is powerful and threatening.

And fearsome! “he is king over all that are proud” (Job 41:34).

 

Is this what Job confesses following the depictions of these two beasts, whenever he says, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you” (Job 42:5)? Has Job come to realize that God is so powerful that not even the threats of Satan himself can undo his purpose towards his own? Satan may well be uncontrollable as far as we are concerned:

“Can you make a pet of him like a bird
or put him on a leash for your girls?” (Job 41:5)

But he is not uncontrollable as far as God is concerned. Job may not be able to overcome Leviathan’s power. He may not be able to “pull in leviathan with a fishhook or tie down his tongue with a rope [or] put a cord through his nose or pierce his jaw with a [hook] …” (Job 41:1-2). But God can! That is what Job has come to see. No matter how evil things may appear, or how afraid he may be, God is in control of everything and nothing is a threat to Him. To put it in a form in which the New Testament might say it: “neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 8:37-39). He who is able to “seize the dragon” (Rev 20:2), the “great dragon, who leads the whole world astray” (Rev 12:9), will be victorious. How come? “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work” (1 John 3:8).

There is no power that can undo the purposes of Almighty God. Job finds himself reduced to confessing his ignorance and his sinfulness:

“I know that You can do all things;
no plan of Yours can be thwarted.
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
Things too wonderful for me to know.
My ears had heard of You
But now my eyes have seen You.
Therefore I despise myself
And repent in dust and ashes.”

(Job 42:2,3,5)

Job had failed to consider the complexity of God’s ways. He had also failed to consider the malevolence of Satan. Who can fathom how God “allows sin and evil” but yet, is not the author of it? Who of us can understand how God can bring Satan into the picture as He does in the opening chapters, saying to him, “Have you considered My servant Job?” while at the same time maintaining His moral goodness and perfection.

The Devil wants us to think about him as little as possible. He is never happier than when he is ignored. As Lewis so cleverly put it:

 

“the more a man was in the Devil’s power, the less he would be aware of it, on the principle that a man is still fairly sober as long as he knows he’s drunk. It is the people who are fully awake and trying hard to be good who would be most aware of the Devil. It is when you start arming against Hitler that you first realize your country is full of Nazi agents. Of course, they don’t want you to believe in the Devil. If devils exist, their first aim is to give you an anaestheticѕ to put you off your guard. Only if that fails, do you become aware of them.” ….

For a while, a good while, the Devil had gained such a victory over Job. But now the anaesthetic has worn off. His mask has fallen. Job has come to see that the universe is much more complicated than he first assumed.

But God is still in control. And that is the best instruction he can receive. The shadow of the cross falls over every Christian’s pain and says: that pain is mine; it fills up “what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions” (Col 1:24). And what is more wondrous still, God has sent His Son into the world so that in His life and death, He has “disarmed the powers and authorities, [making] a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross” (Col. 2:15).

Job has only glimpsed it, of course. Like a man who desires to see over a wall, jumps into the air to catch a fleeting glimpse of what lies the other side, so Job has caught a moments glance at what lies “the other side” of the cross. He has caught sight of the … victory which he cannot fully explain, but which he knows to be a certainty.

It is something that holds true for every believer. For you and for me. ….

 

Conclusion: Real animals are intended in the Book of Job because of the sober instance of the horse, but “Behemoth” and “Leviathan” in particular – respectively hippo and crocodile? – are presented in the Book of Job in such a highly poetic and exaggerated fashion as to suggest that they may be pointing to something more sinister lurking beyond the animal world.

 

 

Isaiah, ‘the prince of Judah and prince of the people of Israel’

Image result for isaiah

by

Damien F. Mackey

 

As I have a tendency to do, to multi-identify, I have by now variously identified the great prophet Isaiah as:

 

  • the Isaiah of the entire Book of Isaiah;
  • the prophet Hosea;
  • the Simeonite “Uzziah” of the Book of Judith; and
  • the martyred prophet Uriah (Urijah) of the Book of Jeremiah.

 

 

 

  • As Isaiah

 

If the Book of Isaiah’s “Suffering Servant” is directly a description of the prophet Jeremiah, as argued in my:

 

Prophet Jeremiah pre-figures the perfect ‘Suffering Servant’

https://www.academia.edu/36076355/Prophet_Jeremiah_pre-figures_the_perfect_Suffering_Servant_

 

which article is chronologically supported in my six-part series, beginning with:

 

Identifying Isaiah 53’s ‘Suffering Servant’ may involve a major chronological review. Part One: Some introductory remarks

 

https://www.academia.edu/36075917/Identifying_Isaiah_53s_Suffering_Servant_may_involve_a_major_chronological_review._Part_One_Some_introductory_remarks

 

then the traditional view that the one prophet Isaiah was the author of the entire Book of Isaiah is further strengthened, whilst the fragmentary notion of a Deutero-Isaiah, as well as a Trito-Isaiah, begins to be exposed as – what I believe it to be – an artificial Procrustean-ised chopping up into pieces of an original one prophet.

 

Now, drawing from (iv) above, Isaiah as the martyred Uriah, we can finally name a home town for the prophet Isaiah, who is generally considered to have been of the kingdom of Judah.

According to Jeremiah 26:20, “… Uriah [was from] Kiriath Jearim”.

With Kiriath Jearim facing Jeremiah’s home town of Anathoth, only a few miles away,

 

 

then we can the better appreciate Isaiah’s ‘neighbourly’ words about the “Suffering Servant” (53:2): “For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him”.

Isaiah and his relatives were apparently well familiar with the young prophet and his appearance.

 

Presumably from his base of Kiriath Jearim near Jerusalem Isaiah was able to go forth to meet, now king Ahaz, now Ahaz’s son, Hezekiah.

 

In the case of Ahaz, Isaiah was commanded (7:3): “Then the LORD said to Isaiah, ‘Go out now to meet Ahaz, you and your son Shear-jashub, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool, on the highway to the fuller’s field …’.”

For this specific location, which is also to where the Rabshakeh of the Assyrian army will come to harangue the Jews at a later time, see my:

 

The Conduit of the Upper Pool on the Highway to the Fuller’s Field

https://www.academia.edu/11677294/The_Conduit_of_the_Upper_Pool_on_the_Highway_to_the_Fuller_s_Field

 

In the case of Hezekiah, during the king’s serious illness, a miracle will also be worked to accompany the king’s release form his sickness (Isaiah 38:4-8):

 

“Then the word of the Lord came to Isaiah: “Go and tell Hezekiah, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will add fifteen years to your life. And I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria. I will defend this city.

‘This is the Lord’s sign to you that the Lord will do what he has promised: I will make the shadow cast by the sun go back the ten steps it has gone down on the stairway of Ahaz.’” So the sunlight went back the ten steps it had gone down”.

 

 

  • As Hosea

 

I wrote about this likely (as I think) connection in my university thesis:

 

A Revised History of the Era of King Hezekiah of Judah

And its Background

AMAIC_Final_Thesis_2009.pdf

 

(EXCURSUS: LIFE AND TIMES OF HEZEKIAH’S CONTEMPORARY, ISAIAH) as follows (here modified, and with some comments added):

 

Isaiah and his Father Amos

 

….

Amos began his prophetic ministry in the latter days of the Jehu-ide king, Jeroboam II of Israel (c. 785-743 BC, conventional dates …). …. Amos was called to leave Judah and testify in the north against the injustices of Samaria. (Cf. Micah 1:2-7). … Amos was to be found preaching in the northern Bethel …. Not unexpectedly, Amos’ presence there at the time of Jeroboam II was not appreciated by the Bethelite priesthood, who regarded him as a conspirator from the southern kingdom (Amos 7:10). Being the man that he was, though, Amos would unlikely have been frightened away by Jeroboam’s priest, Amaziah, when he had urged Amos (vv.12-13):

 

‘O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah, earn your bread there, and prophesy there; but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king’s sanctuary, and it is the temple of the kingdom’.

 

….

 

Comment: I then speculated that Isaiah, young at the time, had accompanied his father Amos to the northern kingdom, to Bethel.

 

… Isaiah must … have accompanied his father to the north and he, too, must have been prophesying, as Hosea, in the days of Jeroboam II (Hosea 1:1). His prophesying apparently began in the north: …. “When the Lord first spoke through Hosea …” (1:2). He would continue prophesying right down to the time of king Hezekiah (cf. Hosea 1:1; Isaiah 1:1). The names Isaiah and Hosea are indeed of very similar meaning, being basically derived from the same Hebrew root for ‘salvation’, יֵ֫שַׁע

 

– “Isaiah” (Hebrew יְשַׁעְיָהוּ , Yeshâ‘yâhû) signifies: “Yahweh (the Lord) is salvation”.

– “Hosea” (Hebrew הוֹשֵׁעַ) means practically the same: “Yahweh (the Lord) is saviour”.

 

….

 

Hosea’s/Isaiah’s Family

 

Though no doubt young, the prophet was given the strange command by God to marry an ‘unfaithful’ woman: “‘Go, take yourself a wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry, for the land commits great harlotry by forsaking the Lord’. So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim …” (Hosea 1:2-3). Biblical scholars have agonised over the type of woman this Gomer might have been: adulteress? harlot? temple-prostitute? But essentially the clue is to be found in the statement above that she was a citizen of the ‘land of great harlotry’: namely, the northern kingdom of Israel.

 

Comment: Still requiring work is yet to sort out the wife (or wives) of Isaiah and of Hosea.

 

A further likeness between Isaiah and Hosea was the fact that ‘their names’ and those of ‘their’ children were meant to be, in their meanings, prophetic signs.

….

 

– The prophet Isaiah tells us: “Behold, I and the children whom the Lord has given me are for signs and portents …” (Isaiah 8:18).

– Similarly, the names of the children of the prophet Hosea were meant to be prophetic (Hosea 1:4, 6, 9).

 

Boutflower, who has written perceptively on Isaiah’s children, has rightly noted the prophetic significance of their names and those of Hosea’s children, without however connecting Isaiah and Hosea as one: …. “Isaiah like Hosea had three known children, all of whose names were prophetic”. It is most unlikely, one would have to think, to have two great prophets contemporaneously operating over such a substantial period of time, and each having three children whose names were prophetic. The fact is I believe that it was just the one prophet, who may possibly have had six children in all. And Irvine has, in the course of his detailed study of the so-called Isaianic Denkschrift [‘personal memoir’] (Isaiah 6:1-9:6) of the Syro-Ephraimitic crisis, written extensively on the chronological significance of Isaiah’s children and their names in connection with this crisis for Judah….. I also appreciate Irvine’s concern for scholars to study the prophets (thus Isaiah) according to the “historical events and politics” of their time…..

 

Comment: Again, the children of Isaiah and of Hosea yet need to be properly co-ordinated.

 

We now encounter a difficult regarding patronymics.

Isaiah’s father was, as we have read, Amos.

Hosea’s father was Beeri (Hosea 1:1): “The word of the LORD that came to Hosea son of Beeri during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and during the reign of Jeroboam son of Jehoash king of Israel”.

Judith – with whom I shall associate Isaiah-Hosea as fellow-townspeople, and fellow-Simeonites, in Part Three – called herself “the daughter of Merari” (Judith 16:7).

Now, as I wrote in my thesis (loc. cit.):

 

We saw that Jewish legend names Judith’s father as Beeri. Now the names Beeri and Merari are very similar if Conder’s principle, “supposing the substitution of M for B, of which there are occasional instances in Syrian nomenclature” (as quoted back on p. 70), be allowable here. This vital piece of information, that Judith’s father was Beeri, now enables for the prophet Hosea, an exact contemporary of Isaiah in the north, whose father was also Beeri (Hosea 1:1), to be identified with Isaiah….

 

Comment: Despite my optimism here, it still properly needs to be determined who was this (presumably Simeonite) ancestor, Merari, and whether or not he were the same as Beeri, and whether or not there is a family relationship between Isaiah (Hosea) and Judith.

 

  • As Uzziah

 

We are first introduced to Uzziah in Judith 6:14-16:

 

“Later, when the Israelites came down from Bethulia, they untied Achior, brought him into the town, and took him before the town officials, who at that time were Uzziah son of Micah, of the tribe of Simeon, Chabris son of Gothoniel, and Charmis son of Melchiel. The officials called together the town elders, and all the women and the young men also ran to the assembly. Achior was brought before the people, and Uzziah began questioning him …”.  

 

The fact that this Uzziah is the chief town official in Bethulia, and that he is a son of Micah, turns out to be most convenient for my developing thesis.

And, the fact that he is a Simeonite provides us with some bonus information.

 

Isaiah was, as we know, the son of Amoz (Amos).

But Uzziah was, according to the Judith text above, the “son of Micah”.

What might immediately look like a further complication, having both Amos and Micah, actually works perfectly into my scheme wherein I have identified the:

 

Prophet Micah as Amos

 

https://www.academia.edu/27351718/Prophet_Micah_as_Amos

 

The prophet Micah is so like the prophet Amos, as we read in this article, that he has been called “Amos redivivus”.

 

From the above quote from the Book of Judith (chapter 6) we can now determine new things about the prophet Isaiah:

 

(i) He, the son of Amos, was, as Uzziah, the son of Amos’s alter ego, Micah the prophet.

(ii) He was of the tribe of Simeon, not of Judah as is often thought.

(iii) He resided in Bethulia, which must now be identified as the Bethel to where his father Amos had been sent.

 

Having struggled with the identification of the Judith’s city of “Bethulia”, I have lately accepted Charles C. Torrey’s view that it must be the highly strategic Shechem, which others identify with the northern Bethel:

 

Judith’s City of ‘Bethulia’. Part One: Setting the Campaign Scene

 

https://www.academia.edu/34665993/Judiths_City_of_Bethulia._Part_One_Setting_the_Campaign_Scene

 

Judith’s City of ‘Bethulia’. Part One (ii): Salem Important

 

https://www.academia.edu/34687265/Judiths_City_of_Bethulia._Part_One_ii_Salem_Important

 

Judith’s City of ‘Bethulia’. Part One (iii): Blown into oblivion

 

https://www.academia.edu/34687890/Judiths_City_of_Bethulia._Part_One_iii_Blown_into_obli

 

Judith’s City of ‘Bethulia’. Part Two (i): Probably not Mithilia (Mesilieh)

 

https://www.academia.edu/34698455/Judiths_City_of_Bethulia._Part_Two_i_Probably_not_Mithilia_Mesilieh_

 

Judith’s City of ‘Bethulia’. Part Two (ii): Shechem

 

https://www.academia.edu/34737759/Judiths_City_of_Bethulia._Part_Two_ii_Shechem

 

In my thesis I wrote about Uzziah of Bethulia (Volume Two, beginning p. 60):

 

Northern Simeonites

 

The magistrates of the town of Bethulia before whom Achior appeared are named: “…Uzziah son of Micah, of the tribe of Simeon, and Chabris son of Gothoniel, and Charmis son of Melchiel” (v.15). I intend to argue in the next chapter that this Uzziah (var. Ozias) was none other than Isaiah himself. In [the Book of Judith] chapter 8 we shall be told that Judith too was – like Uzziah – of the tribe of Simeon. Now, with Simeon being one of the southernmost tribes of Judah, with enclaves even in the Negev (1 Chronicles 4:28), is it a peculiarity having a bastion of Simeonites situated in Ephraïm? It certainly would have been in the earliest periods of Israel’s settlement in Canaan, but it would be quite allowable from the time of king Asa of Judah (c. C9th BC) onwards; for it is recorded in 2 Chronicles 15:9 that, at the time of Asa, Simeonites were residing in the north “as aliens” amongst the Ephraïmites and Manasseh-ites. Bruns has elaborated on this in his context of trying to locate [the Book of Judith] to the Persian era: ….

 

Nor … is the most important geographical detail in the book [of Judith], namely the reference to a Jewish (Simeonite) settlement on the border of the valley of Dothan, a fabrication. For a combination of various sources (Meg. Ta’an, for 25 Marheshvan (chap. 8); Jos., Ant. 13:275f., 379f; Wars 1:93f.; and also apparently I Macc. 5:23) shows that at the time of the return in the region of Samaria, in the neighbourhood of what was known as “the cities of Nebhrakta,” there was a Jewish-Simeonite settlement (which may in effect have existed as early as in the days of the First Temple and being of Semite origin: cf. II Chron. 34:6, 15:9; and also I Chron. 4:31) ….

 

Thus there were Simeonites dwelling in this northern part of the land during, and beyond, the era of the Divided Kingdom.

 

On pp. 63-64 I wrote of a crisis even for the great prince, Uzziah:

 

For “thirty-four days” (v. 20) this terrible situation of [Assyrian] blockade prevailed, until the Bethulians’ water containers were all empty. Charles, who has provided the differing figures for this period according to various versions of [the Book of Judith] … has concluded that: “The long siege by this large army is meant to emphasize the importance of Bethulia”. Certainly Bethulia will be found in the next chapter to have been a city of ‘importance’. The citizens of the town now turned angrily on their leaders (vv. 23-25). They demanded surrender, with its attendant slavery, as being preferable to a certain death by thirst. And they added: ‘We call to witness against you heaven and earth and our God …’ (vv. 26, 27, 28). Thus Uzziah found himself faced with a Moses-like situation, with the people rebelling on account of water and thirst (Numbers 20:2-13). And Uzziah’s response – at least as Judith will later interpret it (8:9-27) – was likewise flawed as was that of Moses (vv. 30-31; cf. Numbers 20:1-2). Uzziah had responded: ‘Courage my brothers and sisters! Let us hold out for five days more; by that time the Lord our God will turn his mercy to us again …. But if these days pass by, and no help comes for us, I will do as you say’. The people returned to their posts, but “in great misery” (v. 32). However, a recent prayer of theirs (v. 19) was about to be heard, for despite their despairing, ‘we have no one to help us’, effective help was now at hand. ….

 

How did a Simeonite, Isaiah-Hosea-Uzziah, acquire such princely attributes?

 

Possibly due to his father Amos, who, according to legend was related to the great Amaziah king of Judah. “The rabbis of the Talmud declared, based upon a rabbinic tradition, that Amoz was the brother of Amaziah (אמציה) …”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amoz

 

It would be more likely, though, chronologically, that Amos was related to the king of Judah through marriage, rather than being his actual brother.

 

The fact that Uzziah of Bethulia was a “prince”, not only of Judah, but also of Israel, is supported by his activities amongst both the kings of Judah (e.g. Ahaz and Hezekiah) and his governorship over the northern Bethel.

 

 

   

(iv)              As Uriah (Urijah)

 

As I wrote in:

 

Identifying Isaiah 53’s ‘Suffering Servant’ may involve a major chronological review. Part Five: Towards a fusion of eras of Isaiah and Jeremiah

 

https://www.academia.edu/36122032/Identifying_Isaiah_53s_Suffering_Servant_may_involve_a_major_chronological_review._Part_Five_Towards_a_fusion_of_eras_of_Isaiah_and_Jeremiah

 

….

There appears to be no biblical evidence for the strong tradition of Isaiah’s martyrdom during the reign of king Manasseh.

My tentative suggestion would be – given the proposed overlap of the reign of Manasseh with the descendants of king Josiah – that Isaiah was the otherwise unknown martyred prophet Uriah (Urijah) (Jeremiah 26:20-23):

 

There was also a man named Uriah, Shemaiah’s son from Kiriath-jearim, who prophesied in the LORD’s name. He prophesied about this city and this land in words similar to those of Jeremiah. King Jehoiakim, all his troops, and all the officials heard his words, and the king sought to kill him. Uriah heard about this and was afraid, so he fled and went to Egypt. King Jehoiakim sent men to Egypt. He sent Achbor’s son Elnathan, along with a contingent of men into Egypt. They brought Uriah out of Egypt and brought him to King Jehoiakim, who killed him with a sword. Then they threw his body into a common grave.

The name “Uriah”, was, as I have noted in:

 

Sobna (Shebna) the High Priest. Part Two: “Azriyahu of Yaudi”

 

https://www.academia.edu/31950300/Sobna_Shebna_the_High_Priest._Part_Two_Azriyahu_of_Yaudi_

 

compatible with “Azariah” – the latter, in turn, being interchangeable with Uzziah: “In Hebrew, the name Uzziah or Azariah means “Yahweh is my strength”. This man was noted as one of the Kingdom of Judah’s finest kings”.

https://amazingbibletimeline.com/blog/king-azariah-or-uzziah/

Now Uzziah was, as we have learned, another name by which the prophet Isaiah was known whilst he was living in the north.

 

[The prophet Hosea (var. Osee) identifies with both the prophet Isaiah

and Uzziah (var. Ozias) of Judith’s Bethulia]

 

But how to explain the other terms of Jeremiah 26:20: “There was also a man named Uriah, Shemaiah’s son from Kiriath-jearim …”?

For Isaiah was, as we read above, the son of Amoz (Amos).

According to the above article, “Family of Prophet Isaiah”, Isaiah was of Simeonite stock, tracing its ancestry back to contemporaries of Moses, Shelumiel and Sarasadai (Judith 8:1). Now, the name Shelumiel is compatible with Shelemiah, according to Abarim:

http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Shelumiel.html#.Wpy8yORlJ9A

And this may perhaps be the background for “Shemaiah” of Jeremiah 26:20.

 

As for Kiriath-jearim, which “served as a boundary marker between the tribe of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin” (http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2009/02/e2809cWe-are-Standing-on-e28098Holy-Grounde28099e2809d-at-Kiriath-Jearim.aspx), this would finally provide us with a city for the great prophet Isaiah, who – despite his sojourn in the northern kingdom – is considered to have been of the southern kingdom of Judah. ….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comparisons between Hezekiah and Josiah texts

Image result for hezekiah and josiah

 

by

Damien F. Mackey

 

 

“There was no one like him [Hezekiah] among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him.”  2 Kings 18:5 (NIV?) “Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him …”  2 Kings 23:25 (NIV?)

 

Previously in this series, I wrote:

 

“The reigns of the goodly, reforming kings Hezekiah and Josiah are so alike – with quite an amazing collection of same-named officials – that I had actually once begun a series (but then scrapped it) in which I had attempted an identification of Hezekiah with Josiah.

But, given this new blueprint, there must have been a serious overlap between the two”.

Since writing this I have stumbled (again) on The Domain of Man’s Chart 37, which shows up some striking comparisons between Hezekiah and Josiah (though this rather extreme site may need double checking in some cases): http://www.domainofman.com/book/chart-37.html

 

 

Comparison of Hezekiah and Josiah Narratives

 

Hezekiah Narrative
2 Chron. 29-32
2 Kings 18-20
Book of Isaiah
Josiah Narrative
2 Chron. 34-35
2 Kings 22-23
Book of Jeremiah
Hezekiah, “son” of Ahaz
mother:  Abijah daughter of Zechariah
Josiah, “son” of Amon
mother:  Jedidah daughter of Adaiah
25 years at ascension, reigned 29 years 8 years at ascension, reigned 31 years
“There was no one like him [Hezekiah] among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him.”  2 Kings 18:5 (NIV?) “Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him …”  2 Kings 23:25 (NIV?)
Jerusalem to be spared destruction in his lifetime
2 Kings 19:1; 20:2-19; 2 Chron. 32:20,26
Jerusalem to be spared destruction in his lifetime
(2 Kings 22:14-20; 2 Chron. 34:22-28)
Revival of Laws of Moses
“according to what was written”
2 Chron. 30:5,16, 18; 31:2-7,15
Discovery of the Book of the Law (of Moses)
2 Kings 22:8-10; 2 Chron. 34:14-15
Passover Celebration Passover Celebration
“For since the days of Solomon son of David king of Israel there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem.”
2 Chron. 30:26
“Not since the days of the Judges (Samuel) who led Israel, nor throughout the days of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah, had any such Passover been observed.”  2 Kings 23:22
Year not given
14th day of the second month
Year 18
14th day of the first month
17,000 sheep and goats, 1,000 bulls
(not including the sacrifices of the first seven days)  (1 Chron. 30:24)
30,000 sheep and goats, 3,000 cattle
Participating tribes:  Judah and Benjamin,
Manasseh, Ephraim,
Asher, Zebulun & Issachar
(2 Chron. 31:1)
Participating tribes: Judah and Benjamin,
Manasseh, Ephraim,
Simeon & Naphtali
(2 Chron. 34:9,32)
Temporary priests consecrated for service Employed “lay people” 2 Chron. 35:5
“. smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles”  2 Kings 18:4; 2 Chron. 31:1 “. smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles”  2 Kings 23:14
High places and altars torn down High places and altars torn down
“. broke into pieces the bronze snake” “. burned the chariots dedicated to the sun”
Name Comparisons
Hezekiah Narrative Josiah Narrative
Sennacherib oppresses Jerusalem Assyrian oppression omitted
Name of High Priest omitted Hilkiah, “High Priest”
Eliakim son of Hilkiah, palace administrator Eliakim “son” (?) of Josiah (future Jehoiakim)
Zechariah (descendant of Asaph)
Azariah, the priest (from family of Zadok)
Zechariah
Zechariah
(variant of Azariah)
Shaban/Shebna/Shebniah, scribe Shaphan, scribe
(son of Azaliah son of Meshullam)
Hashabiah/Hashabniah  (2 Chron. 35:9)
Jeshua
Isaiah son of Amoz, prophet
Joshua, “city governor”
Hoshaiah (Jer. 42:1; 43:2)
Asaiah, “king’s attendant”
Ma’aseiah, “ruler of the city”
Jerimoth Jeremiah son of Hilkiah
Conaniah and his brother Shemei, supervisors
(2 Chron. 31:12)
Conaniah/Cononiah, along with his brothers Shemaiah and Nethanel (2 Chron. 35:9)
Hananiah the prophet, son of Azzur/Azur (Azariah)  (Jer. 28)
Nahath Nathan-el/Nathan-e-el/El-Nathan/Nathan-Melech
2 Kings 23:11
Mattaniah, Mahath Mattaniah (future Zedekiah)
Jehiel Jehiel, “administrator of God’s temple”
Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun
2 Chron. 29:13-14
Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun
(2 Chron. 35:15)
Shallum/Meshillemoth (reign of Ahaz) Meshullam (the Kohathite)
Shellemiah son of Cushi (Jer. 36:14)
No mention of a prophetess

[Mackey: What about Judith?]

Huldah, wife of Shallam/Meshullam,
prophetess (spokeswoman of the “Lord”)
Shemaiah Shemaiah
Jozabad Jozabad
Jeiel Jeiel
Joah son of Zimmah (“wicked”)
Joah son of Asaph, recorder
Joah son of “wicked” Jo-Ahaz (King Ahaz)/
Imnah?
Obed, prophet (reign of Ahaz), Abde-el, Tabeel Obadiah

 

 

Prophet Jeremiah pre-figures the perfect ‘Suffering Servant’

Image result for suffering jeremiah

by

Damien F. Mackey

 

“For centuries, Jews and Christians have been debating the meaning of the so-called “Suffering Servant”…. A quick search of material on Internet sites reveals impassioned claims by various Christians who fervently believe the Servant in question is Jesus, and equally fervent counterclaims by Jews who believe that the Servant is the Jewish people”.

Mordecai Schreiber

 

 

In an earlier series, which I now intend to replace, the best candidate I could identify for the “Suffering Servant” of Isaiah (particularly chapter 53), who was chronologically right within range of the great prophet, was King Hezekiah of Judah himself.

Some others have already suggested this identification, and I tended to take my comparisons from various amongst these.

 

However, although this king of Judah does bear comparison, to some extent, with Isaiah 53’s “Suffering Servant”, the match is far from being a perfect one. King Hezekiah was, unlike Isaiah’s humble “Servant”, a “strong proud” king (the very words of his Assyrian foe, Sennacherib).

And more recently I have read of comparisons between Isaiah 53 and the prophet Jeremiah that I believe to dovetail far more perfectly than do those with Hezekiah.

Although Jewish tradition (e.g. Rashi) might tend to identify the “Suffering Servant” as the nation of Israel, which Isaiah certainly intended, in part, there is also an old tradition according to which this refers to a single person.

 

Mordecai Schreiber writes of the long-standing disagreement over this passage between Jews and Christians (“THE REAL “SUFFERING SERVANT”: DECODING A CONTROVERSIAL PASSAGE IN THE BIBLE”):

http://jbqnew.jewishbible.org/assets/Uploads/371/371_sufferingservant.pdf

 

The most controversial passage in the Hebrew Bible is, arguably, Isaiah 53:1-7. For centuries, Jews and Christians have been debating the meaning of the so-called “Suffering Servant” described in these verses. A quick search of material on Internet sites reveals impassioned claims by various Christians who fervently believe the Servant in question is Jesus, and equally fervent counterclaims by Jews who believe that the Servant is the Jewish people. As a prophet, the Christian argument goes, Isaiah foresaw the future coming of the Christian messiah who “carried our affliction” and “in his bruises we were healed” (Isa. 53:4-5). References to this text are made in the New Testament, asserting the claim that Isaiah in Chapter 53 prophesied the suffering of Jesus (see John 12:38, and Romans 10:16). Not so, runs the Jewish argument.

 

The prophet makes it clear he is not speaking about future events. Rather, he is repeating an ancient Jewish belief, according to which God’s servant is Jacob and, by extension, his descendants, the people of Israel. The implication of the Jewish argument is that the Jews suffer because of the misconduct of the world, and their suffering has a redeeming power for humankind.

 

This may have been true prior to the time of Jesus, Christians might concede, but it is the death of Jesus on the cross that replaces the old Covenant and grants redemption to all people for all time.

 

In centuries past, this kind of polemic often resulted in violence, and many Jews suffered for it and even paid with their lives. Thankfully, this is no longer the case, and it is to be hoped that it is a thing of the past.

 

It is common to find amongst many Christians a tendency to identify the “Suffering Servant” directly as Jesus Christ. Isaiah, as a great prophet, was able they say to reveal far distant things. In similar fashion will these identify the “Immanuel” of Isaiah 7:14 as Jesus, without any due regard to the historical context of the biblical chapter.

I probably shared this view once.

I know from experience that such Christians whose knowledge of the Old Testament may be poor can become irate if one should suggest that Immanuel was actually one of Isaiah’s children – which he undoubtedly was. Though I would accept, with these, that Jesus Christ, as a Son of God, later fulfilled the meaning of “Immanuel” (“God is with us”) more perfectly than anyone else (including anyone previously named Immanuel) was capable of doing.

But the fact remains, he was not named Immanuel, but “Jesus” (Matthew 1:21).

 

Now, if Isaiah’s ‘Suffering Servant” were the prophet Jeremiah, then we must consider the possibility that the life of Isaiah overlapped with the boyhood/youth of Jeremiah, a seeming chronological absurdity, though made somewhat less so now, perhaps, in light of my radical:

Book of Daniel – merging Assyrians and Chaldeans

 https://www.academia.edu/35856059/Book_of_Daniel_-_merging_Assyrians_and_Chaldeans

 

Commentators have a method of getting around apparent chronological difficulties associated with the Book of Isaiah by Procrusteanising the great prophet of Israel, cutting him up into parts and thereby creating a Deutero-Isaiah, or a Trito-Isaiah (the same with the prophet Zechariah), who, they say, was not the actual Isaiah.

 

This is a methodology that – due to its departing from tradition – I personally do not accept.

 

Hezekiah by no means a proper fit

 

Were King Hezekiah of Judah to have been firmly identified as Isaiah’s Suffering Servant, then there would be no chronological problem involved at all, given the contemporaneity of the prophet Isaiah and King Hezekiah. And some have indeed sought to make this connection, which I, too, had most favoured before on conventional chronological grounds.

But, as we have learned, King Hezekiah was characterised even by his greatest enemy, Sennacherib, as “proud” (Assyrian Bull Inscriptions): “… the strong, proud Hezekiah …”. This hardly fits with Isaiah 53:2: “He had no … majesty to attract us to him”. The King Hezekiah, who proudly showed off his abundant wealth to the Babylonian envoys (2 Kings 20:12-19), did not lack “majesty”. Far from it.

Nor was he then “like a dumb man who did not open his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7).

The prophet Isaiah had to severely reprimand the king for this showy behaviour, predicting the Babylonian Captivity (2 Kings 20:16-18).

The following description of the ‘proud and ungrateful’ Hezekiah, that we find at:

https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/archives/guzik_david/studyguide_2ki/2ki_20.cfm would, in all seriousness, be quite impossible to reconcile with the docile Suffering Servant:

 

…. As the coming rebuke from Isaiah will demonstrate, this was nothing but proud foolishness on Hezekiah’s part. He was in the dangerous place of wanting to please and impress man, especially ungodly men.

 

…. “It was not spiritual pride, as with his great-grandfather Uzziah; but worldly pride – ‘the pride of life,’ we might say. It was his precious things, his armor, his treasures, his house, his dominion, etc., that he showed the ambassadors from Babylon.” (Knapp)

 

…. Hezekiah faced – and failed under – a temptation common to many, especially those in ministry – the temptation of success. Many men who stand strong against the temptations of failure and weakness fail under the temptations of success and strength.

Think about the extent of Hezekiah’s success:

 

– He was godly

– He was victorious

– He was healed

– He had experienced a miracle

– He had been promised a long life

– He had connection to a great prophet

– He had seen a remarkable sign

– He was wealthy

– He was famous

– He was praised and honored

– He was honored by God

 

…. Nevertheless, he sinned greatly after this great gift of fifteen more years of life and the deliverance of Jerusalem. We might say that Hezekiah sinned in at least five ways:

 

Pride, in that he was proud of the honors the Babylonians brought.

Ingratitude, in that he took honor to himself that really belonged to God.

Abusing the gifts given to him, where he took the gifts and favors to his own honor and gratification of his lusts (2 Chronicles 32:25-26).

Carnal confidence, in that he trusted in the league he had made with the King of Babylon.

Missing opportunity, in that he had a great opportunity to testify to the Babylonian envoys about the greatness of God and the LORD’s blessing on Judah. Instead, he glorified himself.

  1. “Why did he not show these learned heathen God’s house? ‘Every whit’ of which showeth ‘His glory’ (Psalm 29:9, margin). There he could have explained to them the meaning of the brazen altar, and the sacrifices offered thereon; and who can tell what the results might not have been in the souls of these idolaters?” (Knapp)

 

Jeremiah seems to fit like a glove

 

Given that the prophet Isaiah appears to have been writing about a young contemporary male whom the community had familiarly known from his infancy (53:2): “He grew up like a tender shoot before us, like a root from dry ground. He possessed no splendid form for us to see, no desirable appearance”, I had been inclined to opt for King Hezekiah, a younger contemporary of the prophet who had begun to receive the word of God as far back as Hezekiah’s great-grandfather, King Uzziah of Judah (Isaiah 1:1): “The vision about Judah and Jerusalem that Isaiah, son of Amos, saw in the days of Judah’s kings Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah”.

 

If the prophet Jeremiah were to be intended by Isaiah, as I am now greatly favouring, then this would – as we have noted – involve a major chronological reconsideration of biblico-history.

Either that, or do what many biblical commentators tend to do, artificially create other (Deutero, Trito) prophets ‘Isaiah’, who are not the original one, but later scribes.

 

Various commentators have arrived at the conclusion that the life of the prophet Jeremiah best fulfils the terms of the Suffering Servant – chronologically ‘plausible’ when the Book of Isaiah is attributed to a trio of writers. Waldemar Janzen, for instance, writes in “Suffering Servants”: https://www.baylor.edu/ifl/christianreflection/SufferingarticleJanzen.pdf

 

The suffering prophet par excellence is Jeremiah. He is called by God against his own protestations, mocked and persecuted by his fellow villagers of Anathoth and others …. Beaten and put in the stocks by the priest Pashhur, he barely escapes the death sentence demanded by a mob and must go into hiding for his preaching during the reign of King Jehoiakim. He is accused of being a traitor for announcing God’s judgment on Jerusalem through the Babylonians.

After being thrown into a dry well to perish, he eventually is rescued and kept in a prison, only to be carried off to Egypt against his will.

…. Suffering under this burden of obedience to proclaim a message painful to the prophet himself and hateful to his hearers is portrayed most articulately in the so-called Laments of Jeremiah (11:18-20; 12:1-6; 15:10-12,15-21; 17:14-18; 18:18-23; 20:7-18). They resemble the individual lament psalms, but their content is tied to the specifics of Jeremiah’s life. He cries out:

 

O LORD, you have enticed me,…

you have overpowered me,….

If I say, “I will not mention him [the LORD],

or speak any more in his name,”

then within me there is something like a burning fire

shut up in my bones;

I am weary with holding it in,

and I cannot….

Why did I come forth from the womb

to see toil and sorrow,

and spend my days in shame?

Jeremiah 20:7a, 9, 18

 

Compelling, I find, is the argument of Mordecai Schreiber, who, after a discussion of the authorship of the Book of Isaiah – Schreiber believes that a “Second Isaiah” was the author of chapter 53 – asks, and then answers, the question (op. cit.):

 

But herein lies the key to the question: Who, after all, is the Suffering Servant in Isaiah 53?

It appears that the Second Isaiah knew the answer, but as with his own identity, it was kept a secret. It also appears that someone else at a later date knew the Servant’s identity. To find the answer, we need to turn to the Book of Jeremiah. A better understanding of Jeremiah is essential to understanding the Second Isaiah and his mysterious Servant, and the method available to us is a textual and linguistic analysis of the words of those two prophets.

That Jeremiah has a great deal to do with the Suffering Servant is something that was observed at least as early as the tenth century by Saadia Gaon, the great philosopher and exegete. According to Ibn Ezra, in his commentary on Isaiah 52:13, Saadia identified the Servant with Jeremiah, an interprertation that Ibn Ezra (12th century) concurred with:

“The Gaon, Rav Saadia, his memory be blessed, interpreted the whole chapter as referring to Jeremiah, and well he interpreted.” But Saadia’s view was rejected in his own lifetime, particularly by his Karaite adversaries, who contended that he had lost his senses. (The Karaites, a Jewish sect that still exists today, were strict literalists when it came to biblical interpretation, rejecting rabbinical interpretations and innovations.) Sheldon Blank, a 20th-century Jewish biblical scholar who has written books about both Jeremiah and Isaiah, rejects the view that the Servant is Jeremiah. Blank writes:

 

The bitter experience of Israel, whom the Second Isaiah here personified as servant-prophet, led him necessarily to Jeremiah for the features of his personification – to that prophet within his tradition who, more than any other, had, like Israel, endured reproach and suffering. Inevitably, Jeremiah must sit as model for his portrait of God’s servant-prophet. This is not to say that the servant and Jeremiah are to be identified. ….

 

R.E.O. White, a Christian contemporary of Blank who also wrote a book about Jeremiah, has this to say about the identity of the Servant:

 

So Isaiah sketches his portrait of the coming Servant of the Lord who should save Israel, and in that portrait Jesus himself saw his own lineaments and destiny prefigured. But of whom was Isaiah thinking when he asked his questions? With Jeremiah’s story in mind, we may reverently wonder if the words do not describe his experience with astonishing accuracy. And reverent surmise becomes moral certainty when we hear Isaiah at once quote Jeremiah’s words about himself: “But I was like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter. I did not know it was against me they devised schemes, saying, . . .’Let us cut him off from the land of the living'” (Jer. 11:19; cf. Isa. 53:7-8). ….

 

What makes these two quotes from two contemporary biblical scholars so telling is that even though they both sense the strong presence of Jeremiah in Isaiah 53, they are wedded to their traditional views of the Servant being the Jewish people (for Blank), and Jesus (for White). Neither one of them goes far enough in analyzing these difficult verses in which the Mystery Prophet embedded a unique message, left for future generations to be deciphered.

(This reminds us of some of El Greco’s large canvasses, in which the artist painted miniatures in the folds of the robes of the prelates and the saints, expressing his true artistic feelings.) This message amounts to a capsule biography of Jeremiah, who is indeed the Servant in these verses: Who can believe what we have heard? And on whom was Adonai’s power revealed?(Isa. 53:1).

The story of Jeremiah is absolutely amazing. Jeremiah lived during the last years of the Judean monarchy. He foresaw the coming destruction of Jerusalem, and spent his years as a solitary voice calling his people to turn back from their evil ways. He was scorned and ridiculed, and on several occasions he came within a hair’s-breadth of losing his life. It was only after the fall of Judah that the exiles in Babylon began to realize that his was the voice of God. For a while his story was unknown in Babylon, but when the Second Isaiah first heard it he was amazed to learn what Jeremiah had gone through, and how God chose such an afflicted person as his messenger. Indeed, Jeremiah should be credited for saving Judaism. He did much more than prophesy doom. With the help of the scribe Baruch ben-Neriah, he began the process of preserving the Law and transitioning Judaism from a religion centered around Temple sacrifices to a faith based on Torah, prayer and ethical behavior. In this respect, Jeremiah may be considered the first Jew, while Abraham is the first Hebrew. In comparing the language of Isaiah 53 to Jeremiah’s, it is clear that this Mystery Prophet was a disciple of Jeremiah, in whom he saw the savior of Judaism. Jeremiah to him becomes the prophet par excellence, the true servant of God. As the pivotal prophet in the Bible, Jeremiah comes to embody for the Second Isaiah the entire Jewish people, and so the Servant becomes interchangeably Jeremiah and the Jewish people. Why Second Isaiah does not come out and identify Jeremiah by name will be discussed later on.

 

He rose like a newborn baby before Him, And like a tree trunk in an arid land (53:2).

 

This is a direct biographical reference to Jeremiah. We are told in Jeremiah 1 that God chose Jeremiah at his birth. We are further told that when God first appears to Jeremiah, the young boy is looking at a blossoming almond tree.

The boy is overwhelmed by his first contact with the Divine, and when he rises and watches the tree in full blossom, the voice of God becomes his. He is told not to fear, for he will be made strong against his adversaries. The two words “arid land” are borrowed from the next episode in the Book of Jeremiah (2:6), where the prophet reminds his people of the wandering through the desert: Who leads us . . . through arid land. He had no rank and was given no respect, We did not find anything attractive about him (53:2).

Jeremiah was born a priest but gave up his priestly rank. He was not an official prophet of the court until the very end, when a desperate King Zedekiah began to consult him without actually engaging him as a court priest.

Jeremiah’s contemporaries showed him no respect. At best, he was tolerated.

A man of constant sorrow, he made few friends and had little influence over his contemporaries, who were too far gone in their idolatry and immorality to understand his message.

 

He was despised, shunned by all, A great sufferer, greatly afflicted (53:3).

 

Jeremiah was the most afflicted prophet in the Hebrew Bible. He foresaw the destruction of Jerusalem years before it happened, and mourned it for many years. The Judeans, particularly in Jerusalem, despised him, for he disturbed their complacency and smugness. (God was on their side, they argued, and no harm would come to them.)

He seemed to hide from us, Despised, we took no account of him (53:3).

Hiding is a running theme in Jeremiah’s life. After he prophesies at the Temple, the priests try to put him to death. He is banned from the public and goes into hiding. Later, after King Jehoiakim throws Jeremiah’s scroll of prophecies into the fire, he has to go into hiding again to save his life.

 

Indeed, he carried our affliction, And he suffered our pain (53:4).

 

No other prophet in the Bible suffers the pain of his people more vividly than does Jeremiah. When the Temple is destroyed and the people are exiled, Jeremiah takes on the suffering of his people and, according to rabbinic tradition, authors the Book of Lamentations, Judaism’s official lament for the destruction of the Temple.

And we thought him diseased, God stricken, tortured (53:4).

When Jeremiah parades in the streets of Jerusalem in a soiled and soggy loincloth, or with iron bars around his neck, he certainly does not convey the image of a happy and level-headed person. He is repeatedly scorned by his listeners, and rather than see him as God’s messenger, they regard him as a misguided and tortured soul.

 

But he was stricken because of our sins (53:5).

 

God indeed makes Jeremiah carry the burden of the sins of his generation.

 

Oppressed because of our iniquities, The lesson of our welfare is upon him (53:5).

 

The life of Jeremiah and his teaching were an object lesson for his generation.

That they recovered their national welfare was because of him and the legacy he bequeathed them, namely, the Torah and prophetic teachings he helped preserve for them with the help of his scribe, Baruch ben-Neriah.

 

And in his bruises we were healed. We all went astray like sheep (53:5-6).

 

When Jeremiah is flogged, or when he is lowered into the mud pit, he emerges full of bruises. But he is doing it for the sake of his people, who went astray and did not see the impending doom.

 

Each going our own way, And God visited upon him the guilt of us all (53:6).

 

The people were divided during the time of the siege of Jerusalem, and Jeremiah had to live through that time of national divisiveness and bear its consequences. This continued during the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians, and after the assassination of Gedaliah, whom they had appointed governor.

 

He was attacked, yet he remained submissive, He did not open his mouth (53:7)

 

When the priests in the Holy Temple try to pass a death sentence on Jeremiah, he humbly accepts his fate, and is only saved by the last-minute intercession of a highly-placed friend.

 

He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, Silent like a ewe about to be sheared (53:7).

 

Here we have Jeremiah’s own words being quoted: But I was like a gentle sheep led to the slaughter (Jer. 11:19).

To the Second Isaiah, Jeremiah came to symbolize the Suffering Servant, whom God chose to help save His covenanted people. In a broader sense, the Servant is the Jewish people as a whole. Why, then, does the author fail to identify Jeremiah by name?

To begin with, the Second Isaiah does not identify anyone by name, not even himself. He remains the Mystery Prophet throughout. But it should be clear by now that he knew Jeremiah quite well, and was greatly influenced by him. Furthermore, since his prophecies were inserted into an already-existing book, namely, the Book of Isaiah, it is clear that other hands were involved in the compilation of the book as we know it. (It is a rather ancient compilation, dating back before the Common Era, as evidenced by the Isaiah scroll found among the Dead Sea Scrolls.) We need to ask ourselves: What were the circumstances under which this text was written and compiled, and how did they affect the presentation of the Servant concept, so clearly depicting none other than Jeremiah? ….

 

 

Pointing to Jesus Christ

 

 

Richard B. Hays, writing a review of Pope Benedict XVI’s book, Jesus of Nazareth Holy Week From the Entrance Into Jerusalem To The Resurrection (2011), acknowledges an outstanding feature of Benedict’s book: how the Old Testament prefigures and leads to the New Testament: https://www.firstthings.com/article/2007/08/001-benedict-and-the-biblical-jesus

 

Benedict and the Biblical Jesus

 

….

From beginning to end, Benedict grounds his interpretation of Jesus in the Old as well as the New Testament. The significance of the gospel stories is consistently explicated in relation to the Old Testament’s typological prefiguration of Jesus, and Jesus is shown to be the flowering or consummation of all that God had promised Israel in many and various ways. The resulting intercanonical conversation offers many arresting insights into Jesus’ identity and significance. Many of the connections that Benedict discerns are traditional in patristic exegesis, but his explication of them is artful and effective.

 

On p. 81, Pope Benedict credits French priest André Feuillet with pointing out how well Isaiah’s Suffering Servant Songs throw light upon the high-priestly prayer of Jesus (John 17):

 

….

Before we consider the individual themes contained in Jesus’ high-priestly prayer, one further Old Testament allusion should be mentioned, one that has again been studied by André Feuillet. He shows that the renewed and deepened spiritual understanding of the priesthood found in John 17 is already prefigured in Isaiah’s Suffering Servant Songs, especially in Isaiah 53. The Suffering Servant, who has the guilt of all laid upon him (53:6), giving up his life as a sin-offering (53:10) and bearing the sins of many (53:12), thereby carries out the ministry of the high priest, fulfilling the figure of the priesthood from deep within. He is both priest and victim, and in this way he achieves reconciliation. Thus the Suffering Servant Songs continue along the whole path of exploring the deeper meaning of the priesthood and worship, in harmony with the prophetic tradition ….

 

On p. 136, Benedict returns to this theme:

 

For we have yet to consider Jesus’ fundamental interpretation of his mission in Mark 10:45, which likewise features the word “many”; “For the Son of [Man] also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many”. Here he is clearly speaking of the sacrifice of his life, and so it is obvious that Jesus is taking up the Suffering Servant prophecy from Isaiah 53 and linking it to the mission of the Son of Man, giving it a new interpretation.

 

And then, on pp. 173 and 199, he broadens it:

 

This idea of vicarious atonement is fully developed in the figure of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah 53, who takes the guilt of many upon himself and thereby makes them just (53:11). In Isaiah, this figure remains mysterious: the Song of the Suffering Servant is like a gaze into the future in search of the one who is to come.

….

The history of religions knows the figure of the mock king — related to the figure of the “scapegoat”. Whatever may be afflicting the people is offloaded onto him: in this way it is to be driven out of the world. Without realizing it, the soldiers were actually accomplishing what those rites and ceremonies were unable to achieve: “Upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed” (Is 53:5). Thus caricatured, Jesus is led to Pilate, and Pilate presents him to the crowd — to all mankind: “Ecce homo”, “Here is the man!” (Jn 19:5).

 

Before concluding his treatment of the subject on pp. 252-253:

 

A pointer towards a deeper understanding of the fundamental relationship with the word is given by the earlier qualification: Christ died “for our sins”. Because his death has to do with the word of God, it has to do with us, it is a dying “for”. In the chapter of Jesus’ death on the Cross, we saw what an enormous wealth of tradition in the form of scriptural allusions feeds into the background here, chief among them the fourth Song of the Suffering Servant (Isaiah 53). Insofar as Jesus’ death can be located within this context of God’s word and God’s love, it is differentiated from the kind of death resulting from Man’s original sin as a consequence of his presumption in seeking to be like God, a presumption that could only lead to man’s plunge into wretchedness, into the destiny of death. ….

 

A ‘Christian’ tendency to skip over Old Testament

 

Such Christians as those who tend to relate solely to the New Testament, having an extremely poor knowledge of – even sometimes seeming to be virtually allergic to – the Old Testament, will immediately identify Isaiah’s “Suffering Servant” as Jesus Christ the Messiah, without any consideration that the ancient prophet might have intended, directly and literally, some younger contemporary of his.

Now, whilst I could never accuse Pope Benedict XVI of discounting the Old Testament – he who in his book, Jesus of Nazareth (2011), is at pains show how the Old Testament prefigures and leads to the New Testament – and that Jesus Christ cannot be properly understood without the Old Testament – also writing along such lines as (p. 202):

 

What is remarkable about these [Four Gospel] accounts [of Jesus’ crucifixion and Death] is the multitude of Old Testament allusions and quotations they contain: word of God and event are deeply interwoven. The facts are, so to speak, permeated with the word – with meaning; and the converse is also true: what previously had been merely word – often beyond our capacity to understand – now becomes reality, its meaning unlocked [,]

 

– Benedict does, nevertheless, seem to bypass any possible ancient identification of Isaiah 53’s Suffering Servant in this next statement of his:

 

“In Isaiah, this figure remains mysterious: the Song of the Suffering Servant

is like a gaze into the future in search of the one who is to come”.

 

The “figure” becomes far less “mysterious”, I would suggest, if he is to be grounded in some literal flesh and blood person of Isaiah’s day, Jeremiah as I am now arguing – one who also points to “the one who is to come”, who perfectly fulfils Isaiah’s prophecy, but who also re-interprets it, thereby, in the words of Benedict, ‘unlocking its meaning’.

 

Part Two: Jeremiah and John the Baptist

 

“Is this all blind coincidence? Of course not! This is God’s plan from the beginning! St. John the Baptist, the last and greatest of the prophets, the new Elijah, the new Jeremiah,

is completing Jeremiah’s final work so the Kingdom of God can begin”.

 Rev Eric Culler

 

 

Reverend Culler has here drawn some compelling parallels between the ancient prophet Jeremiah (including also Elijah) and the great St. John the Baptist who came centuries later: www.splendorofthetruth.org/…/Advent_C_2_-_Baptist.338114608.doc

 

The New Jeremiah

 

The greatest danger to Christians today is a type of familiarity with our faith that breeds contempt. We know about the miracles that God worked in the past, we know about the prophecies of Christ fulfilled in Scripture, and we know about the workings of the Holy Spirit in us and in the Church today. But sometimes we say “so what?” We grow bored with the drama of salvation history, and we do not see how God affects our lives. Boredom and contempt have led Christians to give up their faith and embrace strange new religions that keep them entertained with lies.

 

If we would only read what the Scriptures really say! If we would only study what has really happened in history! We would see the ingenious and awe-inspiring plan of God carried out to the smallest detail in the life of every human being on the planet, including each of us. We would be ecstatic with His plan to transform us into living reflections of his glory and power like the very angels in heaven by sanctifying us with his own Holy Spirit through our sacramental life in the Church.

 

And we would appreciate the earth-shattering appearance of St. John the Baptist today.

 

What began almost 900 years earlier with Elijah finishes with John, who is the last and greatest of the prophets. Elijah appeared suddenly from nowhere, wearing rough clothing and rebuking King Ahab and his wicked wife Jezebel. John the Baptist also appears suddenly in the desert, wearing rough clothing and rebuking King Herod and his wicked wife Herodias.

 

But if we look deeper into God’s plan, we will be even more amazed by the similarities between St. John the Baptist and another prophet. Over 600 years before John lived Jeremiah. Jeremiah was a priest of the old covenant, born of a priestly family, though it seems he never served in the Temple. John was also a priest, born of his priestly father Zechariah, though he too never served in the Temple. At the start of the Book of the prophet Jeremiah, God tells him “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, and before you were born, I sanctified you and made you a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5). John was sanctified by Christ in the womb before he was born, which caused him to leap for joy in his mother Elizabeth’s womb, and he became Christ’s own prophet to prepare the way. Both Jeremiah and John never married because of the difficult days ahead, and indeed, both of them were imprisoned by wicked kings and executed by their own people: John by beheading, and Jeremiah by being stoned to death. John is not only a new Elijah come to convert Israel; he is a new Jeremiah.

 

Mackey’s comment: While Jeremiah’s trials are sometimes described as a “martyrdom”, there is no scriptural evidence that he was “stoned to death”.

 

http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/8586-jeremiah

The Christian legend (pseudo-Epiphanius, “De Vitis Prophetarum”; Basset, “Apocryphen Ethiopiens,” i. 25-29), according to which Jeremiah was stoned by his compatriots in Egypt because he reproached them with their evil deeds, became known to the Jews through Ibn Yaḥya (“Shalshelet ha-Ḳabbalah,” ed. princeps, p. 99b); this account of Jeremiah’s martyrdom, however, may have come originally from Jewish sources.

 

Reverend Culler continues:

 

And if we look deeper still, we see that John shares more than outward characteristics with Jeremiah. John also completes the final work of Jeremiah. Jeremiah lived at the end of a kingdom. In his last days, Babylon was threatening to destroy the Kingdom of Judah and everything holy to the Chosen people. So Jeremiah commanded the people to hide three sacred items to preserve their bond with God before they fled into Egypt. He commanded them to take the holy fire from the altar in the Temple and to keep it burning secretly, to keep the Law of God hidden within their hearts by refusing to worship idols, and to hide the Arc of the Covenant, the seat of God’s living presence among them (see 2 Maccabees 2:1-7).

 

600 years later, St. John the Baptist is living at the beginning of a Kingdom—the Kingdom of God which he is heralding. The time has come to reveal those three sacred items hidden by Jeremiah—to complete his work—so that God can recreate a holy people. The holy fire from the altar consumed all offerings, giving them forever to God. John reveals to the people that the Christ will baptize them with the Holy Spirit and fire. The Holy Spirit will consume the faithful, body and soul, like offerings, giving them forever to God through baptism.

The Law of God taught the people how they ought to live. By his teaching, John reveals to the crowds how they ought to live, and prepares them for the Lawgiver himself, Jesus Christ. Finally, the Arc of the Covenant was literally a seat or throne for God in the Temple. The Holy of Holies was the room that held the Arc, which was God’s living presence among the Chosen people. John reveals to the people the real, living presence of God among them as one of them: the true man and true God, Jesus Christ himself.

 

Is this all blind coincidence? Of course not! This is God’s plan from the beginning! St. John the Baptist, the last and greatest of the prophets, the new Elijah, the new Jeremiah, is completing Jeremiah’s final work so the Kingdom of God can begin.

 

As Advent continues, we will hear about miracles and prophesies. We will hear about the ingenious and awe-inspiring plan of God which involves each one of us here. Let the Scriptures inspire you! Let human history inspire you! See God’s plan with fresh eyes, and be filled with joy that he has chosen to transform you into a reflection of His own glory—into a son or daughter of God! ….

 

 

 

 

There’s a big hole in Nebuchednezzar II’s ‘Egyptian campaign’

Image result for egyptian chariots

 by

 Damien F. Mackey

 

 

If Neb-2 had conquered Egypt, it would have been his greatest conquest in the minds of everyone at the time.  Not only would he and his Babylonian successors have left record of it, but other historians of the time and later would have referred to it, as they did to the actual conquest of Egypt by the Persian, Cambyses-2, 37 years after Neb-2’s death”.

http://www.sanityquestpublishing.com/essays/BabEgypt.html

 

 

Jim Reilly, who has recently attempted an overall revision of the ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian dynastic histories (http://www.displaceddynasties.com/), will initially appear to support a common view (like the above) that there is virtually no historical evidence for a conquest of Egypt by Nebuchednezzar II the Chaldean, despite the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel telling of its devastating and long-lasting effects upon Egypt.

 

Only one piece of evidence apparently exists for this:  Babylonian Chronicle BM 33041.

“In the 37th year of Nebuchadrezzar, King of Babylon, he went to Mizraim [Egypt] to make war.  Amasis, King of Mizraim, collected [his army] and marched and spread abroad”.

 

Reilly will introduce the anomalous situation as follows in his Volume 1 – Nebuchadnezzar and the Egyptian Exile: http://www.displaceddynasties.com/volume-1.html

 

Chapter 1: Nebuchadnezzar’s Wars

 

Rise of Nebuchadnezzar

 

The Egyptian Holocaust

 

In 564 B.C. a foreign army invaded Egypt, laying waste the country. Tens of thousands died. Thousands more, primarily the skilled and educated elite, priests and artisans alike, were taken captive and deported. A minority escaped into the surrounding desert, among them the ruling pharaoh. Only a small remnant survived.

 

The physical structures of the country were also decimated. Temples and tombs were destroyed and looted. Cities were burned. From Migdol in the eastern Delta to Syene near Elephantine south of Thebes, 500 miles upriver on the Nile, the country was ravaged.

 

It was, quite literally, a holocaust.

 

Twenty years passed as the land languished, raped of its treasure by garrisons left behind by the foreigners. No pharaoh ruled to restore order. Another twenty years saw limited rebuilding and the gradual renewal of religious and political life. Temples were repaired. Training began for a new generation of priests and artisans.

 

The few traumatized survivors of the exile, now old, had only a vague recollection of the

days when the priests were taken away and the population vanished. They told tales about the _š_, “the devastation”.

 

The name of the invader, familiar to even the most casual student of ancient history, was Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, at the time the dominant power in the ancient Near East.

 

Only one problem surfaces in connection with this unprecedented act of genocide and material destruction. Without exception, historians categorically deny it ever happened. ….

 

Whilst Jim Reilly’s efforts to account for this glaring problem within the context of his somewhat complex revision are commendable – but not in accordance with my own, which involves an identification of Nebuchednezzar II with the great Ashurbanipal:

Book of Daniel – merging Assyrians and Chaldeans

https://www.academia.edu/35856059/Book_of_Daniel_-_merging_Assyrians_and_Chaldeans

 

whose massive conquest of Egypt no historian would doubt – what is striking is the stark contrast between the general puzzlement of the historians over this matter (as mentioned above), on the one hand, and, as Reilly proceeds in his article, the fulsome testimonies of the contemporary Hebrew prophets, on the other.

 

Here is the relevant section from Reilly’s article:

 

In the traditional history the Egyptian king on whom Zedekiah relied in vain must be the

fourth king of the Sa_te dynasty, Ha’a’ibre Wahibre, known to the Greeks as Apries.

According to this history Necho died in 595 B.C., two years after Zedekiah was installed

as king, and for the balance of Zedekiah’s reign Egypt was ruled by Necho’s son Psamtik

II (595-589 B.C.) and then by Ha’a’ibre Wahibre (589-570 B.C.). Psamtik II and Apries

must have been powerful kings to tempt Zedekiah to withhold tribute from Nebuchadrezzar. Sadly they have left no monuments commemorating their struggles with Babylon. ….

While the Egyptian king was unable to prevent the fall of Jerusalem, he did open Egypt’s borders to receive Judaean refugees. The available safe harbor in Egypt appealed to the remnant that survived in Judah. When Gedaliah, soon after his appointment as governor,

was murdered by Ishmael, son of Nethaniah, a Judaean of royal blood and an officer of the king, fear of reprisal from Babylon made an Egyptian sojourn seem even more inviting. Against the advice of Jeremiah the Jewish remnant fled to Egypt. The majority settled in the fortress city of Tahpanhes (tell Defenneh – modern Daphnae) on the eastern edge of the Egyptian delta. It is in this context that we hear for the first time of an impending Babylonian attack on Egypt.

 

Invasion of Egypt

 

According to Jeremiah

 

The first clear statement of the impending disaster comes from Jeremiah, the reluctant refugee:

 

In Tahpanhes the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: While the Jews are watching, take some large stones with you and bury them in clay in the brick pavement at the entrance to Pharaoh’s palace in Tahpanhes. Then say to them, This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: I will send for my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and I will set his throne over these stones I have buried here; he will spread his royal canopy above them. He will come and attack Egypt, bringing death to those destined for death, captivity to those destined for captivity, and the sword to those destined for the sword. He will set fire to the temples of the gods of Egypt; he will burn their temples and take their gods captive. As a shepherd wraps his garment around him, so will he wrap Egypt around himself and depart from there unscathed. There in the temple of the sun (Heliopolis) in Egypt he will demolish the sacred pillars and will burn down the temples of the gods of Egypt. (Jer. 43: 8-13)

 

Jeremiah supplies no specific date for the Babylonian invasion. For the refugees in Tahpanhes he provides a single clue: first the death of the pharaoh Apries; then the invasion.

 

‘This will be the sign to you that I will punish you in this place,’ declares the Lord, ‘so that you will know that my threats of harm against you will surely stand.’ This is what the Lord says: ‘I am going to hand Pharaoh Hophra (Wahibre in the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible) king of Egypt over to his enemies who seek his life, just as I handed Zedekiah king of Judah over to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, the enemy who was seeking his life.’ (Jer. 44: 29-30)

 

As mentioned earlier, Wahemibre Necao (610-595 B.C.) was succeeded briefly by Psamtik (II) (595-589 B.C.) and then by Ha’a’ibre Wahibre (589-570 B.C.). This Wahibre, called Apries by the Greek historians, the fourth king of the Sa_te dynasty and the object of Zedekiah’s misplaced trust, must be the Pharaoh Hophra alluded to by Jeremiah. This, of course, if the traditional Egyptian chronology is accurate. The invasion must therefore postdate the end of Wahibre’s reign in 570 B.C. Since a fifth king, Ahmose-sa-Neith (Amasis), succeeded Wahibre and ruled Egypt for 44 years, the invasion must have occurred early in his reign.

….

The 586 B.C. Babylonian invasion of Judah was the prototype for what was about to happen in Egypt. Jeremiah warns the Jewish refugees: “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel says: ‘You saw the great disaster I brought on Jerusalem and on all the towns of Judah. Today they lie deserted and in ruins…. Why bring such great disaster on yourselves?’ ” (Jer. 44:2,7) He predicts for the Jews in Egypt the same threefold curse – “sword, famine, and plague” – that earlier decimated their homeland. (Jer. 44: 12; cf. Ezek. 5:12) Very few of the Jewish refugees would escape death. (Jer. 44: 27) Memphis, the Egyptian capital, is likened to Jerusalem. “Pack your belongings for exile you who live in Egypt, for Memphis will be laid waste and lie in ruins without inhabitant” (Jer. 46: 19) The largely mercenary army defending Egypt would flee the onslaught:

 

Announce this in Egypt, and proclaim it in Migdol; proclaim it also in Memphis and Tahpanhes: Take your positions and get ready, for the sword devours those around you. Why will your warriors be laid low? They cannot stand, for the Lord will push them down. They will stumble repeatedly; they will fall over each other. They will say, Get up, let us go back to our own people and our native lands, away from the sword of the oppressor. (Jer. 46: 14-16)

 

The anticipated destruction would be immense; the depopulation of the country almost total. From the Nile Delta five hundred miles upriver to Thebes the Babylonian army would plunder and destroy. But in Egypt, as in Judah earlier, a remnant of the poorest of

the land would survive. Others would flee to neighbouring countries and return later.

 

The Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “I am about to bring punishment on Amon god of Thebes, on Pharaoh, on Egypt and her gods and her kings, and on those who rely on Pharaoh. I will hand them over to those who seek their lives, to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and his officers. Later, however, Egypt will be inhabited as in times past,” declares the Lord. (Jer. 46:25-26)

 

In the case of Judah, Jeremiah had predicted a seventy-year exile. (Jer. 25:12; 29:10)

He leaves the length of the Egyptian exile unspecified. “Later” is all he will say. For more specific information on the invasion, and the nature and duration of the exile, we depend on Ezekiel.

 

According to Ezekiel

 

Ezekiel is more graphic as well as more specific in his description of the anticipated invasion. He is also less concerned with the Jewish refugees than was Jeremiah. His words are directed toward the native Egyptian population:

 

With a great throng of people (i.e. the Babylonian army) I will cast my net over you, and they will haul you up in my net. I will throw you on the land and hurl you on the open field. I will let all the birds of the air settle on you and all the beasts of the earth gorge themselves on you. I will spread your flesh on the mountains and fill the valleys with your remains. I will drench the land with your flowing blood all the way to the mountains, and the ravines will be filled with your flesh. (Ezek. 32: 3-6)

 

There is no ambiguity concerning the pervasiveness of the destruction. No part of Egypt would escape. The slaughter would proceed from Migdol in the northeastern corner of the Delta in the north of Egypt, to Syene, modern Assuan, in the south. There is no mistaking the language of the prophet. In the aftermath of the invasion the whole of Egypt would lie deserted and in ruins. “Egypt will become a desolate wasteland.” “I will make the land of Egypt a ruin and a desolate waste from Migdol to Aswan, as far as the border of Cush.” (Ezek. 29: 9-10) Included in the carnage were the neighbours and commercial allies of Egypt. This was no mere border skirmish as many critics claim. ….

 

A sword will come against Egypt, and anguish will come upon Cush. When the slain fall in Egypt, her wealth will be carried away and her foundations torn down. Cush and Put, Lydia and all Arabia, Libya and the people of the covenant land will fall by the sword along with Egypt. This is what the Lord says: The allies of Egypt will fall and her proud strength will fail. From Migdol to Aswan (Syene) they will fall by the sword within her, declares the Sovereign Lord. They will be desolate among desolate lands, and their cities will lie among ruined cities. Then they will know that I am the Lord, when I set fire to Egypt and all her helpers are crushed. (Ezek. 30: 4-8)

 

Ezekiel adds to Jeremiah’s list of conquered cities. We can clearly follow the path of destruction through representative towns of the Egyptian Delta southward to Thebes.

 

This is what the sovereign Lord says: I will put an end to the hordes of Egypt by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. He and his army – the most ruthless of nations – will be brought in to destroy the land. They will draw their swords against Egypt and fill the land with the slain. I will destroy the idols and put an end to the images in Memphis. I will lay waste Upper Egypt, set fire to Zoan (Tanis) and inflict punishment on Thebes. I will pour out my wrath on Pelusium, the stronghold of Egypt, and cut off the hordes of Thebes. I will set fire to Egypt; Pelusium will writhe in agony. Thebes will be taken by storm; Memphis will be in constant distress. The young men of Heliopolis and Bubastis will fall by the sword and the cities themselves will go into captivity Dark will be the day at Tahpanhes when I break the yoke of Egypt There her proud strength will come to an end She will be covered with clouds and her villages will go into captivity (Ezek. 30: 10-11; 13)

 

And what fate befell pharaoh? Ezekiel’s language is figurative and vague on that account, but he appears to say that the pharaoh escaped both death and capture. His throne was lost but his life was spared, at least for the time being.

Son of man (God speaking to Ezekiel), set your face against Pharaoh king of Egypt and prophesy against him and against all Egypt. Speak to him and say:

 

‘This is what the Lord God says: I am against you, Pharaoh king of Egypt, you great monster lying among your streams You say, “The Nile is mine, I made it for myself.” But I will put hooks in your jaws and make the fish of your streams stick to your scales. I will pull you out from among your streams, with all the fish sticking to your scales. I will leave you in the desert, you and all the fish of your streams. You will fall on the open field and not be gathered or picked up. I will give you as food to the beasts of the earth and birds of the air. (Ezek 29:2-5)

 

“I will pull you out” from among your streams is better translated “I will drive you out (lit. cause you to leave)” from among your streams. Pharaoh would be driven from the Nile delta into the desert, possibly into the western oasis or southward into Ethiopia.

There in exile he would die.

 

The Forty Year Exile

 

How long did the devastation last? Jeremiah says only that Egypt would recover.

Ezekiel sets specific limits.

 

I will make the land of Egypt a ruin and a desolate waste from Midgol to Aswan, as far as the border of Cush. No foot of man or animal will pass through it; no one will live there for forty years. I will make the land of Egypt desolate among devastated lands, and her cities will lie desolate forty years among ruined cities. And I will disperse the Egyptians among the nations and scatter them through the countries. (Ezek. 29: 10-12)

 

The desolation that followed the invasion of Egypt was of long duration – a forty-year hiatus in the normal political life of the nation. There was for Egypt as there was for Judah, an exile, which left the land bleak and barren. For Judah the exile ended by degrees with a succession of returns of exiled Jews under Cyrus and his Persian successors. ….