“Three Kings” and the “Fourth” of Daniel 11:2

by

Damien F. Mackey

So he said, ‘Do you know why I have come to you? Soon I will return to fight against the prince of Persia, and when I go, the prince of Greece will come; but first I will tell you what is written in the Book of Truth. (No one supports me against them except Michael, your prince)’.

Daniel 10:20-21

This text, given in the context of “… the third year of Cyrus king of Persia” (10:1), may provide us with a crucial clue for identifying the kings of Daniel 11:2, usually translated along the lines of:

‘Now then, I tell you the truth: Three more kings will arise in Persia, and then a fourth, who will be far richer than all the others. When he has gained power by his wealth, he will stir up everyone against the kingdom of Greece’.

The “prince of Persia”, whom the speaker is about to resume his “fight against”, can only be, here in “the third year of Cyrus king of Persia”, Cyrus himself.

Daniel 11, dated to “… the first year of Darius the Mede” (11:1), who is also Cyrus himself, informs us that it is the fourth king who ‘will stir up everyone against the kingdom of Greece’.

So, we must already be at the time of that fourth king in Daniel 10 and 11, meaning that the three other kings referred to have already passed. This is contrary to all translations, which present the four kings of Daniel 11:2 all in a future context, ‘will arise’, ‘will be far richer’, ‘will stir up’. Hebrew (עֹמְדִים) is not by any means restricted to “will arise”, however.

See: http://biblehub.com/hebrew/omedim_5975.htm e.g., “were standing”, “had served”.

The predecessors of Cyrus, presumably the kings of the Chaldean empire (Nabopolassar; Nebuchednezzar II; Belshazzar?), are here described as ruling (לְ) (not necessarily “in”) Persia. Persia is perhaps mentioned here because this prophecy has occurred within the Medo-Persian era.

The Medo-Persian empire was indeed considerably vaster, and hence “far richer than” the previous ones (“all the others”).

This has ramifications because it was Darius “the Great” Hystaspes who would ‘stir up everyone against the kingdom of Greece’. The way that my revision of the Medo-Persian empire is developing, Darius the Mede, who was Cyrus, may also be Darius “the Great” Hystaspes:

Darius the Mede = Cyrus the Great = Darius the Great

But Darius would finally have to contend with “the prince of Greece [Javan]”, who was Alexander, also known as “the Great”. I Maccabees 1:1: “After Alexander son of Philip, the Macedonian, who came from the land of Kittim, had defeated Darius, king of the Persians and the Medes, he succeeded him as king. (He had previously become king of Greece.)”.

We are much, much closer to the Greek era than the conventional historians have realised.

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Daniel 9:25 and the “Anointed, a Prince”

 e974f-rebuild1

by

Damien F. Mackey

A consideration of whom may be meant by the “anointed” one, the “prince”, of Daniel 9:25.

Introduction

Whether or not Daniel 9:24-27 overall leads ultimately to Jesus Christ, I think that there is good reason to think that the “anointed … prince” mentioned to in 9:25 is actually a reference to Cyrus.
That would probably not be the opinion, however, of most Christians.
Just to grab a few examples (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary): “We have, in verses 24-27, one of the most remarkable prophecies of Christ, of his coming and his salvation. It shows that the Jews are guilty of most obstinate unbelief, in expecting another Messiah, so long after the time expressly fixed for his coming”.
And (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers):

Messiah the Prince.—Literally, an Anointed one, a prince, the two nouns being placed in apposition, and the article omitted before each, the person and the office of the person contemplated being sufficiently definite. He is to be “anointed,” that is, King and Priest at once (see 1Samuel 10:1; 1Samuel 13:14; 1Samuel 25:30); in fact, He is to possess those attributes which in other passages are ascribed to the Messiah. It is needless to point out that Cyrus, though spoken of (Isaiah 45:1) as an “anointed of Jehovah,” cannot be indicated here. By no calculation can he be said to have come either seven weeks or, sixty-nine weeks from the time of the commencement of the Captivity.
[End of quote]

And P. Mauro (The Wonders of Bible Chronology, pp. 93-94):

III. “Unto the Messiah”

The words “unto the Messiah the Prince” define the goal toward which the long chronological line of the Bible had been steadily extending itself.
….
The words “unto the Messiah” tell us with all requisite clearness and certainty to just what point in the life-time of Jesus Christ the measure of 69 sevens (483 years) reaches. The word Messiah (equivalent to Greek Christos) means “the Anointed”. We ask, therefore, where, in the earth-life of Our Lord, was He anointed and presented to Israel? The answer is clearly given in the Gospel and Acts. It was at His baptism in Jordan; for then it was that the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily shape as a dove; and then it was that John the Baptist bore witness to Him as the Son of God, and the Lamb of God. As the apostle Peter declared: “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power” (Acts 10:38); and form that time He gave himself to His public Messianic ministry as a “minister of the circumcision”.
[End of quote]

According to a Jewish site, however (article, “Daniel 9 – A True Biblical Interpretation”): https://jewsforjudaism.org/knowledge/articles/answers/jewish-polemics/texts/daniel-9-a-true-biblical-interpretation/ “Jews have very valid reasons for rejecting the Christian interpretation …”.
I give the relevant parts of this article that I think makes some helpful points – with some critical comments added:

The book of Daniel is filled with Messianic illusions and calculations that even left Daniel pondering their meanings. Additionally, a large proportion of the book is written in Aramaic rather than the traditional Hebrew adding to the complexity of these biblical texts.

The ninth chapter has been of particular interest to both Jews and Christians.

The message of a merciful God communicated in verse 18, “for not because of our righteousness do we pour out supplications before You, but because of Your great compassion.” has been a foundation of a Jews personal and spiritual relationship with God.

Christians, on the other hand, tend to focus on verses 24 -26. The following is the Christian translation of those verses:

24) Seventy weeks are determined upon your people and upon your holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.
25)”Know therefore and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again with plaza and moat but in troubled times.
26) Then after sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off but not for himself and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary.”

Many Christians assert that these passages are a prophecy that predicts the exact dates that the Messiah will come and also die. They believe that Jesus fulfilled these predictions.

Before examining these verses it is important to point out that: 1) Based on the Hebrew original and context, Jews have very valid reasons for rejecting the Christian interpretation and 2) the New Testament authors never quote these passages and calculations as a proof-text.

To understand this chapter, we must begin with an explanation of the term “weeks.”
Daniel chapter 9 uses the Hebrew word (שבעים ~ Shavuim) to represents a period of time multiplied by seven. For various reasons this word is translated as “weeks” and means a multiple of seven years rather than a multiple of seven days.

a) We see a similar use in the verse, “You shall count~ שבע שבתת השנים) seven Shabbaths of years), seven years seven times… forty-nine years.” Leviticus 25:8
b) A Shabbath is a period of seven days and shares the same Hebrew root for the word (שבועה~Shavuah) that means “week”.
c) Normally the plural of week would be (שבעות ~ Shavuot) in Daniel it uses the masculine “ים” ending for (שבעים~ Shavuim) similar to (years ~ שנים) This indicates that (שבעים~ Shavuim) is referring to a multiple of seven years
d) Both Jews and Christian agree that this is referring to a multiple of years.

Therefore in Daniel chapter 9, each week is a period of seven years.

Christian polemicists interpret these passages in the following way. These passages are being spoken by Daniel after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem by the evil Babylonian empire. At some point after the destruction, there will be a “decree” issued to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. Starting from the issuing of that decree, 7 and 62 weeks totaling 69 weeks of years (483 years), will pass and then the Messiah will come and in that same seven year period “week” he will be cut off, but not for himself, but for the sins of mankind. Then the city and sanctuary will be destroyed. Christian assert that their calculation proves that Jesus fulfilled this prophecy to the exact day.

After the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem, any Jews that survived the Babylonian slaughter were exiled from their land. Daniel, for example, lived in Babylon. Eventually, the Babylonians were conquered by the Persian Empire.

Comment: The article now follows on with the conventional view of Medo-Persian history with its multiple kings, which I do not accept, for, as I wrote in:

Prophet Jeremiah’s “Seventy Years” of Babylonian Rule. Part Two: Zechariah and the “Seventy Years”

https://www.academia.edu/29898673/Prophet_Jeremiahs_Seventy_Years_of_Babylonian_Rule._Part_Two_Zechariah_and_the_Seventy_Years_

Next step?
The conventional Medo-Persian succession will need to be – just as was found to be necessary in the case of the Neo-Babylonians – seriously truncated.

The article continues with a very late date for Persia and Ezra/Nehemiah. One ought to read Jewish historian Herb Stork’s scholarly critique of such dates (History and Prophecy: A Study in the Post-Exilic Period, House of Nabu, 1989):

Christians claim that the decree mentioned in Daniel 9:25 was issued by the Persian King Artaxerxes in the year 444 BCE, based on Nehemiah 2:1-8. These passages speak about the king giving Nehemiah “letters” (אגרות ~ Iggrot) for safe passage and permission to rebuild the Temple.

The building of Jerusalem was started and halted several times, and there are three additional decrees mentioned earlier in the Bible.

1) In Ezra 1:1-4, King Cyrus issues a proclamation (קול ~ Kol) and writings (מכתב ~ Michtav) granting the Jews permission to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple.
2) Ezra 6:12-13, King Darius issues a decree (טעם ~Taam) granting permission to rebuilt the Temple.
3) Ezra 7:11-16, Artaxerxex, issues a decree (טעם ~Taam) granting permission to rebuilt the Temple. (Artaxerxex is a Persian title of royalty and can refer to different leaders. This is similar to the way Pharaoh is the title of rulers of Egypt)

We will see latter that it is significant that in these verses there are four different words used to describe these proclamations, and none of them match the Hebrew word used in Daniel 9 which is (דבר ~ Devar) that means “word.”

With four different proclamations, there is no historical justification to choose the one mentioned in Nehemiah 2 and there is no reliable source stating that it occurred exactly in 444 BCE. It seems that Christian picked this passage out of convenience and assigned it this specific date, because if you start at 444 BCE and count 69 weeks of years (483 years) you reach 39 CE. Whatever their reason for choosing Nehemiah’s reference and attributing it as having occurred in 444 BCE it is still seven years off from the year 32 CE when Jesus supposedly died.

This seven-year discrepancy is resolved by Christian theologians who redefined the definition of a “year.” They claim that prophecies like Daniel’s are to be understood in “Prophetic years” that have 360 days rather than 365 ¼ days. The argument that Daniel might be speaking to Babylonians who may have had a 360 year is unsubstantiated and refuted by the fact that this particular passage is spoken in Hebrew to Jews who had a different calendar then and Babylonians who spoke Aramaic.

One Christian attempt to prove this concept of Prophetic years is from the New Testament:
“They will tread underfoot the holy city for 42 months, and they will prophesy for 1260 days.” Revelations 11:2-3
By dividing 1260 (days) by 42 (months) you get 30 days per month, they claim that each month is 30 days and a Prophetic Biblical year would therefore be being 360 days (30×12=360).

….

TRANSLATING DANIEL CORRECTLY

It is essential to a correct understanding of Daniel 9, to point out that it is incorrect to read this passage as if it were speaking about the Messiah.

This may appear obvious to Christians since their translations has the word “Messiah” mentioned twice in this chapter; however this is the result of a blatant and intentional mistranslation of the Hebrew word (משיח ~ Moshiach”).

This word literally means “anointed” and is an adjective as in the 1 Samuel 10:1-2 where the word clearly means an act of consecration. It is not a personal pronoun that refers to a particular individual called “The Messiah.” The word (משיח ~ Moshiach”) is used throughout Jewish Scriptures no less than 100 times and refers to a variety of individuals and objects. For example:

Priests: Leviticus 4:3
Kings: 1 Kings 1:39
Prophets: Isaiah 61:1
Temple Alter: Exodus 40:9-11
Matzot ~ Unleavened Bread: Numbers 6:15
Cyrus ~ a non-Jewish Persian King: Isaiah 45:1

Even in Christian translations the word Moshiach is translated 99% of the time as “anointed.” The only exception is twice in Daniel 9 verses 25 and 26. This inconsistency is even more blatant since Christian translators translate the word (משיח ~ Moshiach) as “anointed” one verse earlier when it is used in Daniel 9:24. In this instance, it is referring to anointing the innermost chamber of the Holy Temple known as the “Holy of Holies,” (קדשים קדש ~ Kodesh Kedoshim). It is incorrect to translate this, as some missionaries do, to mean the “most holy one” in an attempt to have this refer to the Messiah rather than a place.

Therefore, in Daniel, the passages should be correctly translated as:

Daniel 9:24 “Until an anointed prince” and not as “Until Messiah he prince.”
Daniel 9:25. “an anointed one will be cut off” and not as “the Messiah will be cut off.”

Additionally, in verse 25 there is no definite article (Hey ~ ה) before the word (משיח ~ Moshiach), and it is incorrect to translate this as “the Messiah” or “the anointed one” as if it were speaking about one exclusive individual. When translating correctly as an “anointed individual,7” the passages could be referring any one of a number of different individuals or objects that were anointed and not necessarily “the Messiah.”

A careful examination of Daniel 9 will lead to a clear understand of exactly to whom and what this chapter is referring.

An additional mistake made by Christians is the translation of 7 and 62 weeks as one undivided unity of 69 weeks. The Christian version makes it sound as if the arrival and “cutting off” of the “Messiah” will take place sixty-nine weeks (483 years) after a decree to restore Jerusalem. They add the 7 and 62 weeks together and have one person (the Messiah) and two events occurring towards the end of the 69th week.

Actually, according to the Hebrew the 7 and 62 weeks are two separate and distinct periods. One event happens after seven weeks and another event after an additional 62 weeks.

Simply put, if you wanted to say 69 in Hebrew you would say “sixty and nine.” You would not say “seven and sixty two.”

Furthermore, in Daniel it is written “7 weeks and 62 weeks rather than “7 and 62 weeks.” The use of the word “weeks” after each number also shows that they are separate events. The use of the definite article (ה ~ Hey) that means “the” in verse 26, “and after the 62 weeks shall an anointed one be cut off,” is sometimes deleted in Christian translations, but it’s presence in the Hebrew original clearly indicates that the 62 weeks is to be treated as separate period of time from the original 7 weeks.

The correct translation should be:

“until an anointed prince shall be 7 weeks (49 years),” “then for 62 weeks (434 years) it (Jerusalem) will be built again but in troubled times.” Then after (those) the 62 weeks shall an anointed one will be cut off.” Daniel 9:24-25

Two separate events and anointed ones, 62 weeks (434 years) apart.

….

The article will now proceed to propose a starting-point for the count of the “Seventy Weeks” quite different from the one that I, following P. Mauro, had previously accepted: the first year of Cyrus. And quite different, too, from what I would consider to be the entirely illegitimate one of a supposed Persian decree in c. 444 BC.
What I like about the following proposal is that its starting-point is, not with any decree by a Persian king, but with the prophet Jeremiah, about whose calculations Daniel was then preoccupied (9:2): “I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the LORD given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years”.
The article continues:

UNDERSTANDING DANIEL

Now we can return to the beginning of Daniel 9 and establish the correct starting point for Daniel’s prophesy.

The Christian major error in establishing the starting point of Daniel prophesy is caused by their mistranslation of the verse, “know therefore and discern that from the going forth of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem.” Daniel 9:25

Since their translation asserts that the starting point of this prophesy is from the issuing of a certain decree to rebuild Jerusalem, they incorrectly assume that it is the decree of King Artaxerxex [Artaxerxes]. However, as mentioned above, there were a number of different decrees made concerning returning and rebuilding Jerusalem.

In Daniel 9:25 the original Hebrew used the word (דבר ~ Devar) which is significantly different from a human decree. The word (דבר ~ Devar) refers to a prophetic word. In the beginning of Daniel 9 verse 2, this word is used when Daniel says that he wants to understand “the word of the Lord to the Prophet Jeremiah.”

As mentioned above, in all of the passages that mention some form of decree or proclamation concerning Jerusalem, none of them use the Hebrew word (דבר ~ Devar).

The correct translation of Daniel should be:

“Know therefore and discern that from the going forth of the word to restore and rebuild Jerusalem” Daniel 9:25

Therefore the correct starting point of Daniel’s prophesy must be associated with the issuing of a prophetic word and not a human decree.

The word (דבר ~ Devar) is used in the beginning of Daniel chapter 9. A careful reading of the beginning of this chapter clarifies the correct meaning of the reference to the “word to restore and to build Jerusalem” mentioned in Daniel 9:25.

Chapter 9 begins as follow:

“I Daniel considered (or contemplated) in the books the number of the years which the word (דבר ~ Devar) of G-d came to Jeremiah the Prophet that would accomplish to the destruction of Jerusalem” Daniel 9:2

Here Daniel uses the word (דבר ~ Devar) when pondering the numbers of years that Jeremiah had spoken about. Jeremiah had twice prophesied concerning a 70 year period.

Once Jeremiah said:
“and these nation shall serve the King of Babylon 70 years and it shall come to pass when seventy years are accomplished that I will punish the King of Babylon and that nation … and make it everlasting desolation” Jeremiah 25: 11-12

This prophesy states that Babylon would dominate Israel for a total of 70 years.

Comment: I have estimated the beginning and the ending of this 70 years in my article:

Prophet Jeremiah’s “Seventy Years” of Babylonian Rule

https://www.academia.edu/29897786/Prophet_Jeremiahs_Seventy_Years_of_Babylonian_Rule

My view of it differs from the following estimate based upon a conventional reckoning of the Neo-Babylonian succession, that must date the beginning of the 70 years somewhat later – though we would agree about the ending of the 70 years in the first year of Cyrus:

Jeremiah also says:
“After 70 years are accomplished to Babylon I will take heed of you and perform My good word towards you in causing you to return to this place.” Jeremiah 29:l0

This prophesy states, that after the 70 years, in addition to the end of Babylonian domination, the Jews would also return to Jerusalem from the Babylonian exile.

There are two Jeremiah prophesies concerning: 1) subjugation, and 2) return to Jerusalem.

Jeremiah’s 70 years start from the initial subjugation of Jerusalem by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. This took place 18 years before the destruction of Jerusalem ….

Scriptures also indicate that the 70 years of Jeremiah were completed with the advent of Cyrus the King of the Persian Empire. As it says:
“Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled.” Ezra 1:1-3

“Those who survived the sword he exiled to Babylon, where they became slaves to him and his sons until the kingdom of Persia began to reign. This was the fulfillment of the word of God to Jeremiah, until the land would be appeased of its Sabbatical years, all the years of its desolation it rested, to the completion of 70 years. In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, upon the expiration of God’s prophesy spoken by Jeremiah. God aroused the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia and he issues a proclamation… to build God a Temple in Jerusalem.” 2 Chronicles 36:20-23

In addition to the Babylonian rule ended in fulfillment of Jeremiah 25:11-12, Cyrus also gave permission, in fulfillment of Jeremiah 29:l0, to the Jews to return to Jerusalem, as it says;
“Whoever is among you all his people, let his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord G-d of Israel.” Ezra 1:4

Comment: According to what will follow, “52 years” would elapse from the Fall of Jerusalem, caused by king Nebuchednezzar II, to the first year of Cyrus. I have estimated, instead, approximately “47 years”, but from the 1st year of Nebuchednezzar II to Cyrus (“Jeremiah” article referred to above):

The count of the “seventy years” begins with the call of Jeremiah in the 13th year of King Josiah of Judah, which date must coincide very nearly with the beginning of the rule of Nabopolassar, the beginnings of Babylon. By the time that Jeremiah specifically refers to the “seventy years”, in a text that is heavily cross-dated:

The word came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, which was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. So Jeremiah the prophet said to all the people of Judah and to all those living in Jerusalem: For twenty-three years—from the thirteenth year of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah until this very day—the word of the LORD has come to me and I have spoken to you again and again, but you have not listened.

“twenty-three” of those “seventy years” have already elapsed, leaving approximately 47 years.
These latter are filled up by the 40+ years of Nebuchednezzar and the 3-4 years of his son, Belshazzar.
[End of quote]

The article continues, distinguishing between Darius the Mede and Cyrus, and Darius the Persian.
Even this may not turn out to be correct:

It is important to remember that from the beginning of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, 18 years before the fall of Jerusalem, until the fall of the Babylonian Empire, when Cyrus came into power, 70 years had elapsed. By subtracting the 18 years subjugation before the destruction of the first Temple from the total of 70 years we are left with 52 years. This proves that King Cyrus arose to power and fulfilled Jeremiah’s prophesy 52 years after the destruction of Jerusalem.

This plays an essential role in understanding Daniel 9. Daniel yearned not only for the Babylonian Empire to cease 70 years after the subjugation of Jerusalem; he yearned to see the return to Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the Temple.

When Daniel begins speaking in chapter 9 it is in the first year of Darius the Median.
This Darius is mentioned earlier in Daniel 6:1 and called the Mede so that he would not be confused with Darius son of Achasverous the Persian, who was born later during the days of Haman and Esther.

Daniel was confused because although he now witnessed that, with the advent of Darius the 70 years to the Babylonian subjugation were over in fulfillment of Jeremiah 25:11-12, Daniel had not yet seen the fulfillment of Jeremiah 29:10 that promised that after the 70 years the Jewish exiles would return and rebuild Jerusalem. He did not foresee that very shortly Cyrus world rule and fulfill this promise.

Daniel thought that perhaps, due to the sins of Israel the date had been delayed. This is why Daniel confesses for the sins of the people in verse 4-20 and says.

“Now I was still speaking and praying and confessing my sins and the sins of my people Israel and casting my supplications before the Lord My God about the holy mountain (the Sanctuary as seen in Isaiah 56:7) of my God.” Daniel 9:20

This explains why at the beginning of chapter 9 Daniel contemplated the number of years to the destruction of Jerusalem and not to the subjugation, as it says.

“I Daniel contemplated the calculations, the number of years about that which the word of God came to the prophet Jeremiah, to complete the 70 years to the destruction (לחרבות ~ L’Charvot) of Jerusalem.” Daniel 9:2

Daniel saw that the subjugation was over but he [not] only wanted to see the return to Jerusalem he wanted to know when the destruction would end with the building of the second Temple.

In fact, after one year of rule by Darius [sic], King Cyrus took power and fulfilled Jeremiah 29 and allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem.
….
As a result of Daniel’s praying, confessing and contemplating about the years to the destruction of Jerusalem, the angel Gabriel (verse 21), revealed to him and expanded prophesy of 70 weeks (490 years).
[End of quotes]

Whilst the first part of this prophecy, the “seven weeks”, appears to terminate with the advent of Cyrus, an “anointed prince”, the next part of it, the long-ranging “62 weeks”, may indeed point to the time of Jesus Christ.

Prophet Jeremiah’s “Seventy Years” of Babylonian Rule

 untitled

by

 Damien F. Mackey

 

 

Scholarly opinion differs as to what constitutes the terminus a quo and the terminus ad quem

of the prophet Jeremiah’s predicted period of “seventy years” of service under Babylonian rule.

The opinion expressed here is that a revised chronology of the Neo-Babylonian empire, structured along biblical lines, is required to make mathematical sense of Jeremiah’s words.

 

 

 

Introduction

 

The following list shows the conventional sequence of Neo-Babylonian (or Chaldean) kings, also known as “Dynasty XI”, naming six kings in total:

 

Dynasty XI of Babylon (Neo-Babylonian)

 

  • Nabu-apla-usur 626 – 605 BC
  • Nabu-kudurri-usur II 605 – 562 BC
  • Amel-Marduk 562 – 560 BC
  • Neriglissar 560 – 556 BC
  • Labaši-Marduk 556 BC
  • Nabonidus 556 – 539 BCInstinctively, as a revisionist, one can anticipate that that will be too many kings, too many years. And, according to my Neo-Babylonian revision, which has taken seriously the biblical sequence of kings, there are too many kings. I have suggested, in fact, two too many.       https://www.academia.edu/22954569/Neo-Babylonian_Dynasty_Needs_Hem_Taken_Up_._Part_One_Seven_Kings_Become_Four
  • The following new arrangement of the neo-Babylonian kings was suggested in Part One:
  • https://www.academia.edu/22962577/Neo-Babylonian_Dynasty_Needs_Hem_Taken_Up._Part_Two_How_the_Kings_Line_Up
  • Neo-Babylonian Dynasty Needs ‘Hem Taken Up’. Part Two: How the Kings Line Up
  • With this in mind, I concluded in the course of my Neo-Babylonian revision:
  • 30 That very night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonians, was slain, 31 and Darius the Mede took over the kingdom, at the age of sixty-two.
  • 22 But you, Belshazzar, his son, have not humbled yourself, though you knew all this.
  • 18 Your Majesty, the Most High God gave your father Nebuchadnezzar sovereignty and greatness and glory and splendor.
  • The Book of Daniel, for instance, passes directly from Nebuchednezzar, to Belshazzar, to the Medo-Persian kingdom. Daniel 5:
  • Nabu-apla-usur [Nabopolassar]
  • Labaši-Marduk
  • Nabu-kudurri-usur II = Nabonidus
  • Amel-Marduk = Neriglissar = Belshazzar Now, as we shall find, the collective reign of these four kings covers very close to 70 years (to be considered a round number), just as Jeremiah had been inspired to foretell (Jeremiah 25:1-14):
  • The six kings of conventional Neo-Babylonian history (according to which the biblical king “Belshazzar” is completely omitted) have here been reduced to only four.
  • [End of quote]

The word came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, which was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. So Jeremiah the prophet said to all the people of Judah and to all those living in Jerusalem: For twenty-three years—from the thirteenth year of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah until this very day—the word of the Lord has come to me and I have spoken to you again and again, but you have not listened.

And though the Lord has sent all his servants the prophets to you again and again, you have not listened or paid any attention. They said, “Turn now, each of you, from your evil ways and your evil practices, and you can stay in the land the Lord gave to you and your ancestors for ever and ever. Do not follow other gods to serve and worship them; do not arouse my anger with what your hands have made. Then I will not harm you.”

“But you did not listen to me,” declares the Lord, “and you have aroused my anger with what your hands have made, and you have brought harm to yourselves.”

Therefore the Lord Almighty says this: “Because you have not listened to my words, I will summon all the peoples of the north and my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon,” declares the Lord, “and I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants and against all the surrounding nations. I will completely destroy them and make them an object of horror and scorn, and an everlasting ruin. I will banish from them the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, the sound of millstones and the light of the lamp. This whole country will become a desolate wasteland, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years.

“But when the seventy years are fulfilled, I will punish the king of Babylon and his nation, the land of the Babylonians, for their guilt,” declares the Lord, “and will make it desolate forever. I will bring on that land all the things I have spoken against it, all that are written in this book and prophesied by Jeremiah against all the nations. They themselves will be enslaved by many nations and great kings; I will repay them according to their deeds and the work of their hands.”

 

 

A New Reckoning

 

Without a streamlined chronology, scholars who attempt to make mathematical sense of Jeremiah’s “seventy years” end up having to admit to more than one period of that length of time. For instance, we read this juggling Christian version of it at: http://walvoord.com/article/250

 

The precise prophecy of Jeremiah 25:11-12 predicts that the king of Babylon would be punished at the end of seventy years. Jeremiah 29:10 predicted the return to the land after seventy years. For these reasons, it is doubtful whether Anderson’s evaluation of Daniel 9:2 as referring to the destruction of the temple itself is valid. The judgment on Babylon and the return to the land of course took place about twenty years before the temple itself was rebuilt and was approximately seventy years after captivity beginning in 605 b.c. Probably the best interpretation, accordingly, is to consider the expression the desolations of Jerusalem, in Daniel 9:2, as referring to the period 605 B.C. to 539 B.C. for the judgment on Babylon, and the date of 538 b.c for the return to the land.

 

This definition of the expression the desolations of Jerusalem (Dan 9:2) is supported by the word for “desolations” … which is a plural apparently including the environs of Jerusalem. The same expression is translated “all her waste places” in Isaiah 51:3 (cf. 52:9). Actually the destruction of territory formerly under Jerusalem control even predated the 605 date for Jerusalem’s fall.

 

Although it is preferred to consider Daniel 9:2 as the period 605 b.c.-539 b.c, Anderson may be right in distinguishing as he does the period of Israel’s captivity from the period of Jerusalem’s destruction. Zechariah 1:12, referring to God’s destruction of the cities of Judah for three score years and ten, may extend to the time when the temple was rebuilt. This is brought out in Zechariah 1:16 where it is stated, “Therefore thus saith the Lord; I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies: my house shall be built in it, saith the Lord of hosts, and a line shall be stretched forth upon Jerusalem.” It is most significant that the return took place approximately seventy years after the capture of Jerusalem in 605 b.c, and the restoration of the temple (515 b.c) took place approximately seventy years after the destruction of the temple (586 b.c), the latter period being about twenty years later than the former. In both cases, however, the fulfillment does not have the meticulous accuracy of falling on the very day, as Anderson attempts to prove. It seems to be an approximate number as one would expect by a round number of seventy. Hence, the period between 605 b.c and 538 b.c would be approximately sixty-seven years; and the rededication of the temple in March of 515 b.c, would be less than seventy-one years from the destruction of the temple in August of 586 b.c

 

What is intended, accordingly, in the statement in Daniel 9:2 is that Daniel realized that the time was approaching when the children of Israel could return. The seventy years of the captivity were about ended. Once the children of Israel were back in the land, they were providentially hindered in fulfilling the rebuilding of the temple until seventy years after the destruction of the temple had also elapsed.

[End of quote]

 

Or this Jewish version (in connection with Daniel 9), according to which article there were actually “three different prophesies concerning 70 years” (“Daniel 9 – A True Biblical Interpretation”) https://jewsforjudaism.org/knowledge/articles/answers/jewish-polemics/texts/daniel-9-a-true-biblical-interpretation/

 

Chapter 9 begins as follow:

 

“I Daniel considered (or contemplated) in the books the number of the years which the word (דבר ~ Devar) of G-d came to Jeremiah the Prophet that would accomplish to the destruction of Jerusalem” Daniel 9:2

 

Here Daniel uses the word (דבר ~ Devar) when pondering the numbers of years that Jeremiah had spoken about. Jeremiah had twice prophesied concerning a 70 year period.

 

Once Jeremiah said:

“and these nation shall serve the King of Babylon 70 years and it shall come to pass when seventy years are accomplished that I will punish the King of Babylon and that nation … and make it everlasting desolation” Jeremiah 25: 11-12

 

This prophesy states that Babylon would dominate Israel for a total of 70 years.

 

Jeremiah also says:

“After 70 years are accomplished to Babylon I will take heed of you and perform My good word towards you in causing you to return to this place.” Jeremiah 29:l0

 

This prophesy states, that after the 70 years, in addition to the end of Babylonian domination, the Jews would also return to Jerusalem from the Babylonian exile.

 

There are two Jeremiah prophesies concerning: 1) subjugation, and 2) return to Jerusalem.

 

Jeremiah’s 70 years start from the initial subjugation of Jerusalem by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. This took place 18 years before the destruction of Jerusalem, as demonstrated by the following passages,

We know that the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem in the 19th year of King Nebuchadnezzar. As it says:

“In the 19th year of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuzaradan the chief executioner was in service of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem… and destroyed the Temple of God” Jeremiah 52:12-13

The 19th year means that 18 full years had already been completed.

Nebuchadnezzar started to subjugate Jerusalem in his first year of his rule; this can be derived from the following verses;

“in King Yehoyakim’s third year (three completed years) Nebuchadnezzar came to besiege Jerusalem” Daniel 1:1

“in the fourth year (three completed years) of Yehoyakim which was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar” Jeremiah 25:1

 

These verses demonstrate that Nebuchadnezzar started to besiege Jerusalem in his first year and the destruction of Jerusalem took place in his “19th” year. Therefore, 18 complete years had passed from the beginning of the siege until the destruction of Jerusalem. During these 18 years Jerusalem was laid siege and completely surrounded.

 

Scriptures also indicate that the 70 years of Jeremiah were completed with the advent of Cyrus the King of the Persian Empire. As it says:

“Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled.” Ezra 1:1-3

 

“Those who survived the sword he exiled to Babylon, where they became slaves to him and his sons until the kingdom of Persia began to reign. This was the fulfillment of the word of God to Jeremiah, until the land would be appeased of its Sabbatical years, all the years of its desolation it rested, to the completion of 70 years. In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, upon the expiration of God’s prophesy spoken by Jeremiah. God aroused the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia and he issues a proclamation… to build God a Temple in Jerusalem.” 2 Chronicles 36:20-23

 

In addition to the Babylonian rule ended in fulfillment of Jeremiah 25:11-12, Cyrus also gave permission, in fulfillment of Jeremiah 29:l0, to the Jews to return to Jerusalem, as it says;

“Whoever is among you all his people, let his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord G-d of Israel.” Ezra 1:4

 

It is important to remember that from the beginning of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, 18 years before the fall of Jerusalem, until the fall of the Babylonian Empire, when Cyrus came into power, 70 years had elapsed. By subtracting the 18 years subjugation before the destruction of the first Temple from the total of 70 years we are left with 52 years. This proves that King Cyrus arose to power and fulfilled Jeremiah’s prophesy 52 years after the destruction of Jerusalem.

 

This plays an essential role in understanding Daniel 9. Daniel yearned not only for the Babylonian Empire to cease 70 years after the subjugation of Jerusalem; he yearned to see the return to Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the Temple.

 

When Daniel begins speaking in chapter 9 it is in the first year of Darius the Median.

…. Daniel was confused because although he now witnessed that, with the advent of Darius the 70 years to the Babylonian subjugation were over in fulfillment of Jeremiah 25:11-12, Daniel had not yet seen the fulfillment of Jeremiah 29:10 that promised that after the 70 years the Jewish exiles would return and rebuild Jerusalem. He did not foresee that very shortly Cyrus world rule and fulfill this promise.

 

Daniel thought that perhaps, due to the sins of Israel the date had been delayed. This is why Daniel confesses for the sins of the people in verse 4-20 and says.

 

“Now I was still speaking and praying and confessing my sins and the sins of my people Israel and casting my supplications before the Lord My God about the holy mountain (the Sanctuary as seen in Isaiah 56:7) of my God.” Daniel 9:20

 

This explains why at the beginning of chapter 9 Daniel contemplated the number of years to the destruction of Jerusalem and not to the subjugation, as it says.

 

“I Daniel contemplated the calculations, the number of years about that which the word of God came to the prophet Jeremiah, to complete the 70 years to the destruction (לחרבות ~ L’Charvot) of Jerusalem.” Daniel 9:2

 

Daniel saw that the subjugation was over but he [not] only wanted to see the return to Jerusalem he wanted to know when the destruction would end with the building of the second Temple.

 

In fact, after one year of rule by Darius, King Cyrus took power and fulfilled Jeremiah 29 and allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem. But Daniel’s desire to understand the years of Jeremiah to the destruction of Jerusalem, result in the revelation of a new and additional understanding of Jeremiah:

 

There are now three different prophesies concerning 70 years.

 

  1. 70 years of subjugation (Jeremiah 25)
  2. 70 years till they return to the Jerusalem (Jeremiah 29)
  3. 70 years of the destruction of Jerusalem (Daniel 9).

[End of quote]

 

The length of time occupied by the Neo-Babylonian empire according to my revised list of kings, from Nabopolassar to Belshazzar, was:

 

Nabopolassar 21 (virtually all lists seem to agree with this number);

Labashi-Marduk 1

Nebuchednezzar II 43

Beshazzar 3-4

 

Totalling up these numbers: 21 + 1 + 43 + 3-4, we get: 68-69. That is very close to the number 70, which is perhaps a round number, anyway, according to what we read above: “It seems to be an approximate number as one would expect by a round number of seventy”.

It could be argued that it was only during the reign of Nebuchednezzar II, and not during the two decades of rule of his father, Nabopolassar, that Judah came under the direct influence, and servitude, of Babylon. This, however, appears to be a scriptural way of putting things, like in the case of Moses’ (Exodus 12:40): “Now the length of time the Israelite people lived in Egypt was 430 years”. The apparent discrepancies with the latter case are well explained at:

http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=6&article=796

and summarised as follows: “As Hoehner wrote: “In conclusion, the 430 years went from Abraham’s call to the Exodus. The first 215 years was their sojourn in Palestine and the last 215 years in Egypt. The 400 years was from the weaning of Isaac to the time of the Exodus” (1969, 126:309)”.

For those 430 years, the Hebrews lived within the Egyptian realm; just as for Jeremiah’s 70 years, they lived within the Babylonian realm.

 

Terminus a quo

 

The count of the “seventy years” begins with the call of Jeremiah in the 13th year of King Josiah of Judah, which date must coincide very nearly with the beginning of the rule of Nabopolassar, the beginnings of Babylon. By the time that Jeremiah specifically refers to the “seventy years”, in a text that is heavily cross-dated:

 

The word came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, which was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. So Jeremiah the prophet said to all the people of Judah and to all those living in Jerusalem: For twenty-three years—from the thirteenth year of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah until this very day—the word of the Lord has come to me and I have spoken to you again and again, but you have not listened.

“twenty-three” of those “seventy years” have already elapsed, leaving approximately 47 years.

These latter are filled up by the 40+ years of Nebuchednezzar and the 3-4 years of his son, Belshazzar.

 

Terminus ad quem

 

Ezra 1:1 tells us what is this point in time: “In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing …”.

And, in that very same year, “the first year of Darius the Mede” (Daniel 9:1) – he being Cyrus – Daniel knew that the time had come to completion: “…  in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the Lord given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years”.

Now, thanks to the providential intervention of king (Darius =) Cyrus:

 

Cyrus as ‘Darius the Mede’ who Succeeded Belshazzar. Part One: King Belshazzar

https://www.academia.edu/24223840/Cyrus_as_Darius_the_Mede_who_Succeeded_Belshazzar._Part_One_King_Belshazzar

 

that seemingly interminable “desolation of Jerusalem” had at last reached its terminus ad quem.

Part Two:

Zechariah and the “Seventy Years”

 

 

Not only do the testimonies of the prophets Jeremiah and Daniel necessitate a streamlining of the conventional Neo-Babylonian sequence of kings, as was argued in Part One, but also now, as we shall find, the “seventy years” of Jeremiah further point to the need for a revision of the Medo-Persian succession, even beyond the recognition of “Darius the Mede” as king Cyrus.

 

 

The life of the prophet Jeremiah did not end with a supposed martyrdom in Egypt.

As I argued in:

 

Complete Jeremiah

 

https://www.academia.edu/29677998/Complete_Jeremiah

 

Jeremiah re-emerges in post-exilic times, in the guise of various prophetic alter egos all designated by his office of “the prophet” (הַנָּבִיא): “This title (han-nâbî) is applied only to Habakkuk, Haggai, and Zechariah” (Ellicott’s Commentary).

Accordingly, I tentatively identified the post-exilic Jeremiah with (of interest here) Zechariah.

This identification, if correct, has some potent ramifications.

Let me briefly re-visit some of the pros and cons – as pointed out in that article – arising from an identification of Jeremiah with Zechariah:

 

In Favour

 

To identify Jeremiah with Zechariah would immediately solve this most vexed of scriptural problems: https://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=6&article=658

 

Who was Matthew Quoting?

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

….

 

After reporting in his gospel account about Judas’ suicide and the purchase of the potter’s field, Matthew quoted from the prophets as he had done many times prior to chapter 27. He wrote: “Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, ‘And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the value of Him who was priced, whom they of the children of Israel priced, and gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me’ ” (27:9-10). For centuries, these two verses have been contemplated by Christians and criticized by skeptics. The alleged problem with this passage, as one modern-day critic noted, is that “this is not a quote from Jeremiah, but a misquote of Zechariah” (Wells, 2001). Skeptics purport that Matthew misused Zechariah 11:12-13, and then mistakenly attributed the quotation to Jeremiah. Sadly, even some Christians have advocated this idea (see Cukrowski, et al., 2002, p. 40). What can be said of the matter?

 

“What can be said of the matter” is that Matthew was quoting Jeremiah, but in the latter’s post-exilic guise as Zechariah.

And it would also serve to fill out the duration of the ministry of the prophet Haggai, which, according to estimates based upon the Book of Haggai alone, “was short, lasting only four months”

(http://www.bible-studys.org/Bible%20Books/Haggai/Book%20of%20Haggai.html)

However, the prophet was old at this stage, anyway, by my estimations, so his post-exilic ministry must of necessity have been rather brief.

….

Ezra 5:1 would now read as connected with a waw (וּ): “Now Haggai the prophet even Zechariah the prophet …”.

And so my explanation would enable for the integration of Haggai 1:1: “In the second year of King Darius, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai …”, with Zechariah 1:1: “In the eighth month of the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to the prophet Zechariah …”. Etc.

The same prophet, operating in the very same regnal year!

It might also explain why Haggai (= Habakkuk) is accorded no genealogy, since Zechariah (1:1) will go on to supply that lack, “… Zechariah, son of Berekiah, the son of Iddo …”.

 

Problematical

 

To identify Jeremiah with Zechariah would mean having to cope with an additional Hebrew name for the prophet. I have already loaded down Jeremiah with the additional names of Habakkuk and Haggai, but Habakkuk is easily explained as a foreign (Akkadian) name given to Jeremiah presumably by the Chaldeans. Haggai I take to be a hypocoristicon of Habakkuk. It was not uncommon, however, for Israelites to acquire a new name at a turning point in their lives – the well-known example of Jacob to Israel, for instance. ….

Another problem with my reconstruction is that, whilst Jeremiah-as-Habakkuk in the time of king Cyrus is reasonable (I have estimated Jeremiah by now to be in his mid-eighties), to stretch the prophet further to embrace Haggai/Zechariah, presumably in a later Persian phase again, would make him extremely old.

This matter, involving as it does, a fairly substantial renovation of Medo-Persian history, will need to be left to another time.

But what I am very excited about is that Zechariah 1:12, situated as it is still “in the second year of Darius” (v. 7), speaks of the culmination then of Jeremiah’s 70 years: “Then the angel of the LORD said, ‘LORD Almighty, how long will you withhold mercy from Jerusalem and from the towns of Judah, which you have been angry with these seventy years?’” ….

[End of quotes]

 

“This matter, involving as it does, a fairly substantial renovation of Medo-Persian history, will need to be left to another time”. Well, I think that that “time” has now come.

The prophet Zechariah (tentatively Jeremiah) we now find referring to the “seventy years” in the context of a Persian king, “Darius”, who is universally considered to have begun to reign some two decades after the first year of Cyrus (c. 539 BC) – which year we have determined to have brought an end to Jeremiah’s “seventy years” of Babylonian servitude:

 

  • 539-530Cyrus the Great
  • 529-522 – Cambyses (son)
  • 522 – Smerdis (Bardiya) (brother)
  • 521-486Darius I, the GreatZechariah 1:7-13 reads:On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month, the month of Shebat, in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Zechariah son of Berekiah, the son of Iddo.I asked, ‘What are these, my lord?’Then the man standing among the myrtle trees explained, ‘They are the ones the Lord has sent to go throughout the earth’.Then the angel of the Lord said, ‘Lord Almighty, how long will you withhold mercy from Jerusalem and from the towns of Judah, which you have been angry with these seventy years?’ So the Lord spoke kind and comforting words to the angel who talked with me.This situation leads me to conclude – albeit tentatively, since it is a big call historically speaking – that this “Darius”, too, must be the same as Daniel’s “Darius the Mede”, who is Cyrus.  The conventional Medo-Persian succession will need to be – just as was found to be necessary in the case of the Neo-Babylonians – seriously truncated.
  • Next step?
  • To identify the “Darius” of Zechariah, of Haggai (1:1), with a presumed Persian king reigning some two decades later than (Darius =) Cyrus necessitates that commentators must look for a separate “seventy years” terminating at that later point.
  • The prophet Jeremiah, as Zechariah, is here once again associated with those “seventy years” that had by now just recently been completed.
  • And they reported to the angel of the Lord who was standing among the myrtle trees, ‘We have gone throughout the earth and found the whole world at rest and in peace’.
  • The angel who was talking with me answered, ‘I will show you what they are’.
  • During the night I had a vision, and there before me was a man mounted on a red horse. He was standing among the myrtle trees in a ravine. Behind him were red, brown and white horses.

Book of Job a Puzzle to Scholars

Image result for book job

by

Damien F. Mackey

“The language in Job is unlike any other found in the Bible, or outside it. True, the book is written in Hebrew, but it is very strange Hebrew indeed. It has more unique words than any other book of the Hebrew Bible. The language is archaic, which would indicate that it was very ancient: but it is also heavily influenced by Aramaic, which would make it relatively late”.

So devoid of (auto-)biographical details is the Book of Job that it is a complete nightmare for commentators to try to pin it to a particular era. Guesses about it range from before the time of Abram all the way down to the late C6th BC return from Babylonian captivity.
That is an incredible range of something like one and half millennia!
Elon Gilad, writing for Haaretz, tells of the puzzlement scholars face with the Book of Job: http://www.haaretz.com/jewish/features/1.741973

The Book of Job is quite possibly the strangest book in the Hebrew Bible, and is notoriously difficult to date.
In essence, Job is an essay on the problem of evil. The book starts with God and Satan discussing Job, a “perfect and upright” man who “feared God and eschewed evil” (1:1). Satan tells God that Job is only virtuous because he is well off; were he to suffer, he would surely “curse thee to thy face” (1:11). God accepts the challenge and gives Satan permission to destroy Job’s life.
Satan kills his children, destroys his house, bankrupts him and gives him a terrible skin disease. Job’s unnamed wife says to him, “Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die” (2:9), but Job stands firm.
The story then stops being a narrative and takes a philosophical bent, with Job’s friends Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar, each in turn, saying that all reward and punishment comes from God. God is just. Job was punished. Therefore Job must have sinned grievously.
A fourth character then enters the story – Elihu, who accuses Job as well (chapters 32-37). Biblical scholars suspect him to be a later addition to the book, mostly because while the first three friends are mentioned in the introduction, Elihu appears from nowhere.
Either way, Job denies sinning, and calls on the heavens to testify on his behalf. At this point (38:1) God appears from the whirlwind and answers Job’s explicit implication that he is unjust.
….

Strange Hebrew

Since the story lacks any historical context and no historic individuals are mentioned, it is very hard to date.
The Talmud (redacted at about 500 CE) has several versions. The Talmud (Bava Barta 14b) says it was written by Moses, but then on the next page (15a), rabbis Jonathan and Eliezer say Job was among those who returned from the Babylonian Exile in 538 BCE, which was about seven centuries after Moses’ supposed death.
The very same page of Talmud suggests that Job is not a real person and that the whole book is just an allegory; also, that Job was the contemporary of Jacob or Abraham.
Modern biblical scholars on the other hand think they do have a clue. There are no historic reference points but they can analyze the language and theology, and compare them with other Hebraic writings of known provenance.
There’s a snag, though. The language in Job is unlike any other found in the Bible, or outside it. True, the book is written in Hebrew, but it is very strange Hebrew indeed. It has more unique words than any other book of the Hebrew Bible. The language is archaic, which would indicate that it was very ancient: but it is also heavily influenced by Aramaic, which would make it relatively late.
Theories for the peculiar language range from it being written by Arabian Jews, to it being a poor translation from Aramaic, to the text being written in Idumean, the language of Biblical Edom, of which we have no record – but would have likely been very similar to Hebrew (note that Job is described not as Judean but Idumean).
The most popular theory now is that Job was written by someone whose first language was Aramaic but whose literary language was Hebrew, and that the use of archaic language was deliberate. This would indicate that we are talking about an author or more likely authors living in the early Second Temple period.
[End of quote]

Allow me to offer a few possible guidelines.
• Key to the dating of the Book of Job is mention of the “Chaldeans” in 1:17: “… another messenger came and said, ‘The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!’”
• Commentators are of course aware that Job, who lived “In the land of Uz”, and “among all the people of the East” (1:1, 3), was not geographically a part of mainstream Israel. And that would allow for some degree of foreigness in the language.
• Job is Tobias, son of Tobit. See my:

Job’s Life and Times

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

And this fixes the major part of his early life to the later neo-Assyrian empire, whose fall he lived to witness (Tobit 14:14-15): “Tobias died, having lived long enough to hear about the destruction of Nineveh …. As long as he lived he gave thanks for what God had done to Nineveh”.
• Job experinced the Fall of Nineveh as the biblical Nahum:

Prophet Nahum as Tobias-Job Comforted

https://www.academia.edu/8729042/Prophet_Nahum_as_Tobias-Job_Comforted

– Nahum being, of course, the prophet who would exult over the Fall of Nineveh (conventionally dated to c. 612 BC).

With these points in mind, we can at least broadly date the irruption of the “Chaldeans” in Job 1:17 to the time when the Chaldean empire had begun to overtake the Assyrian one.
This revised view of Job now enables him to be firmly fixed to an historical period, and removes so much of the ‘strangeness’ that the Book of Job can present to biblical scholars. No longer can we entertain the Talmud’s view “that Job is not a real person and that the whole book is just an allegory; also, that Job was the contemporary of Jacob or Abraham”. Job (Tobias) and his relatives had served some of the greatest kings of antiquity (Shalmaneser; Sennacherib; Esarhaddon; Ashurbanipal).
The book itself may have been written, at least in part, by the brilliant Elihu, who was an eyewitness to the dialogues that occurred during Job’s major trial. Elihu may have been a Syrian, and hence a speaker of Aramaïc. Job 32:2: “Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the kindred of Ram”. For, according to Francis N. Peloubet (Studies in the Book of Job, p. 66): “[Elihu] was an Aramean (Syrian) of the family or tribe of Ram = Aram = Syria”. That could explain why: “The language in Job is unlike any other found in the Bible, or outside it. True, the book is written in Hebrew, but it is very strange Hebrew indeed. It has more unique words than any other book of the Hebrew Bible. The language is archaic, which would indicate that it was very ancient: but it is also heavily influenced by Aramaic, which would make it relatively late”.
As far as goes that other view of “… the text being written in Idumean, the language of Biblical Edom, of which we have no record – but would have likely been very similar to Hebrew (note that Job is described not as Judean but Idumean)”, I would dismiss this because I consider that Job was, not an Idumean, but a Naphtalian Israelite who had grown up in Assyrian captivity.

Problematical, too, is Elon Gilad’s final assesment of the Book of Job:

Archaeological signs from deep antiquity

Even if the story of Job was written down during the early Second Temple era (late 6th century BCE to the early 4th century BCE), that doesn’t mean the story was a new one. In fact, we know that it was extremely ancient.
Ezekiel (about 622 to 570 BCE) mentions Job together with Noah and Daniel as men of ancient renown (Ezekiel 14:14). This means that for Ezekiel, Job was one of those mythological characters that people told stories about throughout the Near East, and not particularly Jewish, just as a story of a Noah-like character appears in the Epic of Gilgamesh, and a mythical Daniel is known from the ancient Semitic city of Ugarit. ….

[End of quote]

The story was by no means “extremely ancient” in Gilad’s context of “mythological”.
Its origin was comparatively late, approximately during the C7th-C6th BC rise of the Chaldean (or Neo-Babylonian) empire, meaning that Job was (quite unlike the ancient Noah) an older contemporary of the prophet Ezekiel who mentions him.
Likewise, Ezekiel refers to his wise contemporary, “Daniel”, who is not the same as the pagan Dan’el of Ugaritic literature. On this, see my:

Identity of the ‘Daniel’ in Ezekiel 14 and 28

https://www.academia.edu/29786004/Identity_of_the_Daniel_in_Ezekiel_14_and_28

Prophet Haggai Silent about Zechariah – and vice versa

Image result for haggai

by

Damien F. Mackey

“… Haggai and Zechariah, who according to Ezra 5:1; 6:14 both participated in the reconstruction of the Second Temple. The date formulae in Haggai and Zechariah clarify that the prophets were active in Yehud within approximately the same months of the second year of Darius … though in their extant writings they never refer to each other”.

Typically, the prophet Haggai is presented here as an individual distinct from Zechariah. However, according to my recent article:

Complete Jeremiah

https://www.academia.edu/29677998/Complete_Jeremiah

the great prophet Jeremiah, having returned from Egypt, and now an old man in the Medo-Persian era, is to be multi-identified with:

i. Haggai, his name perhaps being a hypocoristicon of

ii. Habbakuk, a foreign (Akkadian) name, which I have taken to be the name given Jeremiah by the Chaldeans, and with

iii. Zechariah.

These three identifications for Jeremiah are linked according to what we read in this article: “This title (han-nâbî) is applied only to Habakkuk, Haggai, and Zechariah”.

Dalit Rom-Shiloni, pondering in his article “Ezekiel and Jeremiah: What Might Stand Behind the Silence?, that is, why the prophet Ezekiel never mentions his contemporary Jeremiah, has thought to explain this apparent oddity using the case of Haggai and Zechariah (pp. 204-205) http://humanities1.tau.ac.il/segel/dromshil/files/2012/10/Rom-Shiloni.HeBAI-2-2012203-30.pdf

At face value, there would seem to be no problem with the silence maintained between the two prophets. Throughout the prophetic literature, the extremely individualistic nature of the prophetic role seems to work against explicit communication between prophets. To illustrate this wellknown phenomenon, suffice it to mention Haggai and Zechariah, who according to Ezra 5:1; 6:14 both participated in the reconstruction of the

Second Temple. The date formulae in Haggai and Zechariah clarify that the prophets were active in Yehud within approximately the same months of the second year of Darius (520 B.C.E.), though in their extant writings they never refer to each other.2

There is another way in which looking at Haggai and Zechariah may shed light on Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Haggai, and even more so Zechariah, have long been acknowledged as relying on “the former prophets” (Zech1:4; 7:12). Although they do not name those to whom they refer, they each allude to specific prophecies (mainly those of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Deutero-Isaiah), or utilize in their own prophecies prophetic patterns and genres found in these predecessors.3 Furthermore, this allusive character of both Haggai’s and Zechariah’s prophetic writing is not restricted to isolated

prophetic traditions; they also appear to bring together multiple texts from diverse sources within biblical literature.4 This allusive usage of biblical literature formulates theological and ideological deliberations between each of the prophets and their contemporaries. The option of a shared discourse by the early six century in both Jerusalem and Babylon is intriguing. Accordingly, might intertextual literary relationships between Ezekiel and Jeremiah (and other textual references they evoke in general) be the keys to revealing possible connections between the prophets and their followers?

[End of quote]

Whilst establishing the relationship between Ezekiel and Jeremiah is a separate issue, for later consideration, the reason why there is no explicit interchange between Haggai and Zechariah is because, in my opinion, only the one prophet is actually involved here.

Complete Jeremiah

Image result for prophet jeremiah

by

Damien F. Mackey

Part One: The Name

The obscure prophet Habakkuk is identified in this series as the far better known Jeremiah.

“Habakkuk the prophet” (חֲבַקּוּק הַנָּבִיא) (Habakkuk 1:1) is perfectly matchable, I think, with the great Jeremiah, as to:

• his era (Part Two);
• his geographical location (Part Three);
• his status or office (Part Four);
• his style and content (Part Five)

but, obviously, his name (Part One) is quite different from that of Jeremiah (יִרְמְיָהוּ).
The name, Habakkuk – which I am always in danger of misspelling – strikes me as being a most unusual one. Consequently, I am happy to learn that it may actually have been a foreign name, despite it often being taken for a Hebrew word meaning “embrace”.
According to J. Roberts (Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah: A Commentary, p. 86): “Habakkuk appears to derive from Akkadian ḫabbaququ, the name of a plant”.
Another commentator, puzzling over who the most obscure Habakkuk may have been, goes so far as to suggest that he was “an Akkadian by birth” (http://www.arlev.co.uk/habakkuk.htm):

2. Who was Habakkuk?

The easiest answer to the question posed by the header above is that your guess is as good as anybody else’s! There’s simply not enough reliable information concerning the man for us to justify more than a tentative guess – indeed, most of our guesses are so misleading simply because they’re based upon suppositions which are unprovable.

First and foremost, though, we know that Habakkuk was regarded as a prophet (Hab 1:1, 3:1) even though this superscription is more likely to have been written by a later copyist as an explanation of who the person was. There’s no reason to doubt it, however, even though his method of pronouncement to the nation wasn’t by the mouth but through the pen (Hab 2:2).

If he was, indeed, a prophet who declared God’s word to the nation, it seems surprising that only one pronouncement and one prayer have been recorded for us – but the reason could be simply that this message (Habakkuk chapters 1-2) was the only one which he was instructed to record so that it’s the only one which survives.

Having noted that Habakkuk was a prophet, we can say almost nothing more about him – he appears on the scene of Jewish history with neither father nor mother, nor even the location in the land where he lived (though we normally assume that, as his message was to the land of Judah, he must have been a resident there – his name may indicate otherwise).

We don’t know his occupation (though many have speculated that he was one of the Levites or priests in the Temple in Jerusalem because the final chapter of the Book was put to music – this means no more than we might say a poet was a rock musician because one of their writings was taken by a band and developed into a song! There is another note in one of the manuscripts of the apocryphal Bel and the Dragon – mentioned below – that he was a son of Joshua who was, himself, a Levite), how long he lived or, as we discussed in the previous section, we can’t be sure about when he lived and in what reign he prophesied.

Habsmith gives a fairly wide range of the opinions of commentators down through the ages, each of which seem to be able to be disregarded with a fair amount of certainty. Habakkuk’s name, also, is fairly unusual in that it doesn’t appear to be Hebraic (though Zondervan is certain that it is) and is more likely to be Akkadian (according to Habbaker), a word used

‘…for some plant or fruit tree’

even though Habsmith notes that some of the ancient rabbis associated his name with the Hebrew for ‘embrace’ – it could even have been an assumed name which lent the message further significance or importance and which, because we don’t live in the same culture, is lost on us.

Habbaker goes on to state that Akkadian speakers were

‘…intimately involved in the life of Israel at this period’

but his reference to his notes further on in the Book don’t exist! If this could be conclusively shown, it might even be possible to tentatively suggest that Habakkuk was an Akkadian by birth and that, having thrown in his lot with the people of God, was now being used by Him to speak to the nation. However, Habsmith is probably correct when he concludes only that it would

‘…indicate a high degree of foreign influence on Israel [sic ‘Judah’] at that time’

something which appears to have been true throughout the period which began with king Solomon and his ‘import’ of many foreign wives with their servants and cultures. In a recent Biblical Archaeology Review article (‘Biblical Detective work identifies the Eunuch’ in the March/April 2002 edition), it’s also pointed out that the word translated by the RSV as ‘chamberlain’ is

‘…a loan word…from Akkadian…’

which further demonstrates that during the reign of Josiah, Akkadian terms had begun to become a part of the Hebrew language, showing that to be called by an Akkadian name as Habakkuk was wouldn’t have been thought to have been out of place.
[End of quote]

My suggestion

Habakkuk was the foreign name by which this Hebrew prophet (I think, Jeremiah) was known amongst the Chaldeans. For instance, he emerges again in “Bel and the Dragon”, when Daniel, in Babylon, was languishing in the lions’ den (Daniel 14:33-34): “The prophet Habakkuk was in Judea. He mixed some bread in a bowl with the stew he had boiled, and was going to bring it to the reapers in the field, when an angel of the Lord told him, ‘Take the meal you have to Daniel in the lions’ den at Babylon’.”
Now, Jeremiah was known to the Chaldeans, known to, for instance:

“Nebuzaradan, commander of the imperial guard” (Jeremiah 40:1-5):

The word came to Jeremiah from the LORD after Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard had released him at Ramah. He had found Jeremiah bound in chains among all the captives from Jerusalem and Judah who were being carried into exile to Babylon. When the commander of the guard found Jeremiah, he said to him, ‘The LORD your God decreed this disaster for this place. And now the LORD has brought it about; he has done just as he said he would. All this happened because you people sinned against the LORD and did not obey him. But today I am freeing you from the chains on your wrists. Come with me to Babylon, if you like, and I will look after you; but if you do not want to, then don’t come. Look, the whole country lies before you; go wherever you please’. However, before Jeremiah turned to go, Nebuzaradan added, ‘Go back to Gedaliah son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, whom the king of Babylon has appointed over the towns of Judah, and live with him among the people, or go anywhere else you please’.

Known even to the king himself:

“Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon” (Jeremiah 39:11-12):

Now Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had given these orders about Jeremiah through Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard: ‘Take him and look after him; don’t harm him but do for him whatever he asks’.

Given virtual carte blanche by the Chaldean king, it appears.
This Jeremiah was no mean person!
Now, it is only to be expected that the Chaldeans, who liked to apply Mesopotamian (Akkadian; Sumerian; Babylonian) names to the Hebrews (Daniel and his three friends were given such names, which generally had no likeness to their original Hebrew ones, Daniel 1:7), would have applied a, say, Akkadian, name to the well-known Jeremiah as well.
I suggest, therefore, that the name they gave to Jeremiah was the Akkadian, ḫabbaququ (Habakkuk), a name that was apparently superscripted on to this record (Book of Habakkuk) of the prophet’s writings.

Part Two: The Era
(i) in Book of Habakkuk

“Habakkuk was a contemporary of Jeremiah, who also warned that an invading country (Chaldea) would serve as the divine instrument against Judah (compare Habakkuk 1:6ff with Jeremiah 6:22-23)”.

Introduction

There are two biblical (at least, Catholic Bible) documents that are relevant to the prophet Habakkuk and the historical era to which he belonged. And these two are quite separate in time.
The better known of these is (i) the Book of Habakkuk, the subject of this present article.
The other one, usually termed “apocryphal”, is found in (ii) Daniel 14, “Bel and the Dragon”. This latter one (ii) will be examined in the article to follow this one.

Habakkuk and the Chaldeans

——————————————————————————–
“This chronology places Habakkuk shortly after Nahum,
and makes him also a contemporary of Jeremiah”.
——————————————————————————–

The general opinion about our prophet appears to be along the lines that “Habakkuk was a contemporary of Jeremiah, who also warned that an invading country (Chaldea) would serve as the divine instrument against Judah (compare Habakkuk 1:6ff with Jeremiah 6:22-23)” http://biblescripture.net/Habakkuk.html
It is a view shared by, for instance, R. Murphy (O.P.), in his article “Habakkuk”, written for The Jerome Biblical Commentary (1968). Fr. Murphy is, however, somewhat tentative, and he complicates the matter unnecessarily, I think (in the face of Habakkuk 1:6, see below), by entertaining the possibility that “the Assyrians”, or even “King Jehoiakim of Judah”, may have been “the oppressor” intended by the prophet (Murphy, 18:34):

Uncertainty still prevails regarding the circumstances surrounding the prophecy of Habakkuk and whether the oppressor was the Assyrians, the Chaldeans, or King Jehoiakim of Judah (609-598), under whom the deplorable practices of Manasseh’s reign had been resumed (cf. Jer. 22:13-17). On the whole, the Chaldeans are most probable, being named (1:6) as God’s instruments for the chastisement of his people; it is against them that Yahweh will take the field. One might date the prophecy between the defeat of Neco by Nebuchadnezzar at Carchemish (605) and the siege of Jerusalem (597). This chronology places Habakkuk shortly after Nahum, and makes him also a contemporary of Jeremiah.
[End of quote]

Habakkuk 1:6: ‘For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, who march through the breadth of the earth, to possess the dwelling places that are not theirs’.
Murphy will cross-reference various parts of the Book of Habakkuk with passages to be found in the Book of Jeremiah, further encouraging me in my view that Habakkuk was Jeremiah.
Now, I have discovered a 2004 article in which a plausible attempt has been made to locate the writings of the prophet Jeremiah according to their proper chronological order, with dates. (http://nabataea.net/jeremiah.html):

The Chronology of Jeremiah
(and the Lachish Letters)

When I compare Fr. Murphy’s Habakkukian cross-references with Jeremiah, I get – in relation to the above-mentioned Jeremian chronology, a range from 627-593 BC. This is somewhat longer than Murphy’s estimated 605-597 BC, which (given Habakkuk’s reference to the Chaldeans in 1:6) I would prefer. It is all fairly clear cut.

Part Two: The Era
(ii) in Book of Daniel

“Then the angel of the Lord took [Habakkuk] by the crown of his head and carried him by his hair; with the speed of the wind he set him down in Babylon, right over the den”.

Daniel 14:36

Introduction

What has so far been a fairly straightforward road towards the realisation of my suspicion that the ‘little known’ Habakkuk was none other than the great prophet Jeremiah hits a bit of a chronological road block here in this Daniel 14 account of the obscure prophet.
Habakkuk, whose name I have suggested (Part One) was simply a foreign Mesopotamian one as typically applied by the Chaldeans to the Hebrews (and others) – and so applied to Jeremiah who was well-known to the Chaldeans – conveniently was found to belong firmly to the era of the prophet Jeremiah (Part Two (i)).
But now, with the introduction of our second text pertaining to Habakkuk, the Septuagint’s “Bel and the Dragon” of Daniel 14, we are suddenly pitched into quite a later era, after that of the Chaldeans: the era of Medo-Persia. The Persian king Cyrus, who is the ruler involved in this tale (Daniel 14:1), is generally considered to have begun to reign as Great King in 539 BC.
That is almost half a century after the Fall of Jerusalem (587 BC, conventional dating)!
Could Jeremiah still have been alive and active at this late time (as Habakkuk)? My answer to this is ‘yes’, but it can only be realised with a strangling of the conventional chronology.

Tracking Jeremiah

We tend to lose all trace of Jeremiah, qua Jeremiah, shortly after the catastrophic fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of its Temple by the Chaldean army of king Nebuchednezzar II. The prophet will be, against his will, taken to Egypt (Jeremiah 43) where some think he died (https://www.britannica.com/biography/Jeremiah-Hebrew-prophet): “According to a tradition that is preserved in extrabiblical sources, he was stoned to death by his exasperated fellow countrymen in Egypt”.
Though some think he later went to Babylon (and perhaps to Palestine again even after that) http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/8586-jeremiah “… he remained until that country [Egypt] was conquered by Nebuchadnezzar and he was carried to Babylon (Seder ‘Olam R. xxvi.; comp. Ratner’s remark on the passage, according to which Jeremiah went to Palestine again)”.
According to yet another view, Jeremiah ultimately went to Ireland, there to set up the throne of Judah https://www.cai.org/bible-studies/what-happened-jeremiah-and-his-company Each to his own. What I do like, however, about this particular article is that it has appreciated that Jeremiah still had work to do, over and beyond his quite pessimistic rôle as far as it is recorded in the Book of Jeremiah:

When Jeremiah was still a child (JEREMIAH 1:6), God told him what his commission was going to be (JEREMIAH 1:10): “See, I have this day set thee over the NATIONS and over the KINGDOMS, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, TO BUILD AND TO PLANT.”
It is interesting to note here several things: Firstly, Jeremiah was set NOT ONLY OVER ONE NATION BUT OVER NATIONS AND KINGDOMS – clearly NOT ONLY Judah. Secondly, his job was both to destroy AND TO PLANT. It is clear that the rooting out, pulling down and destroying happened in Judah. There was not much left after the Babylonians had destroyed the city of Jerusalem and led the people away into captivity. But WHERE DID THE BUILDING AND PLANTING HAPPEN? It could not have happened in Judah – as the Jews only returned 70 years later from their Babylonian captivity when Jeremiah was no longer around!! And even though other people came to live in Palestine, you could certainly not call that a planting and building process OF NATIONS AND KINGDOMS BY JEREMIAH?

“Jeremiah was no longer around” after the Babylonian Captivity, we read here.
Well, according to my revised chronology, the prophet Jeremiah, though admittedly very old, was still alive then. Indeed, he had to be to complete the original assignment given him by the Lord, “to build and to plant”.
Most relevant to all of this, too, is my view that the biblical king Cyrus (the ruler when Habakkuk was angelically transported to Babylon) was the same as Darius the Mede, and that Daniel’s imprisonment in the den of lions, now by Darius (Daniel 6:1-28), now by Cyrus, was simply the one same event, under the one same king. See my:

Was Daniel Twice in the Lions’ Den?

https://www.academia.edu/24308877/Was_Daniel_Twice_in_the_Lions_Den

With the assistance of what we know about the geography of Habakkuk – albeit meagre, but sufficient – and presuming that Habakkuk was Jeremiah, then we can properly GPS the movements of Jeremiah, from Judah to Egypt (Book of Jeremiah), and back to Judah (Daniel 14:33): “Now the prophet Habakkuk was in Judea; he had made a stew and had broken bread into a bowl, and was going into the field to take it to the reapers”. Then, for the first time – and not until the reign of Cyrus – to Babylon (cf. 14:1, 35): “Habakkuk said, ‘Sir, I have never seen Babylon, and I know nothing about the den’.” Then, immediately back to Judah (14:39): “So Daniel got up and ate. And the angel of God immediately returned Habakkuk to his own place”.
And it was there, in Jerusalem, that the aged prophet would continue his mission.
Meanwhile, in Babylon, there was probably no prophet other than Jeremiah with whom Daniel would, at this particular point in time (Darius/Cyrus), have wished to confer (Daniel 9:1-2):

In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans; In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.

Jeremiah’s Age

So, how old would Jeremiah have been when the exiles returned in the first year of king Cyrus?
According to my drastically revised Chaldean and Medo-Persian history, Nebuchednezzar II was succeeded by his son, Evil-Merodach, who was the “Belshazzar” of the Book of Daniel. Conventional neo-Babylonian history adds to these three more kings, who are actually duplicates, even triplicates of these.
And Belshazzar was succeeded by Darius the Mede, who was Cyrus.
Say Jeremiah was about 17 (as a na’ar נַעַר, Jeremiah 1:6) when called by the Lord. Jeremiah 1:1-2: “The words of Jeremiah son of Hilkiah, one of the priests at Anathoth …. The word of the LORD came to him in the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah … of Judah”. Twenty-three years later (cf. Jeremiah 25: 1, 3) was the first year of Nebuchednezzar.
Jeremiah was about 40.
He would thus have been in his mid-eighties when the exiles returned (43 Nebuchednezzar; approximately 3 Belshazzar; 1st year of Darius/Cyrus). Jeremiah’s 40 + 43 + 3 = 86.
That is quite reasonable.

Who was he after the Exile?

There is only one thing left to decide.
If Jeremiah did indeed continue on into, say, his eighties, and continued to prophesy even after the Jews had returned from Babylon, then who was he?
We do not find any prophet named Jeremiah, or even his alter ego (as I think), Habakkuk, prophesying at this late time.
I shall attempt to answer this in Part Two (iii).

Part Two: The Era
(iii) post-exilic activity

“This title (han-nâbî) is applied only to Habakkuk, Haggai, and Zechariah”.

According to Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers with regard to the superscription, Habakkuk 1:1: “This title (han-nâbî) is applied only to Habakkuk, Haggai, and Zechariah”.
http://biblehub.com/commentaries/habakkuk/1-1.htm
With Habakkuk looming in this series as an alter ego of the great prophet Jeremiah himself, and with the likelihood – yea, necessity – that Jeremiah had continued his mission to Judah right into the post-exilic era of Medo-Persia, then the most obvious post-exilic identification of Jeremiah would be as the prophet Haggai. That is, Jeremiah = Habakkuk = Haggai.
“The name Haggai is assigned to only one person in the Bible …”,
http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Haggai.html#.WBlVoE37V9A
according to which (Abarim) the meaning of the name is not definite: “The name Haggai is quite possibly derived from the Hebrew verb חגג (hagag), meaning to celebrate …”.
Haggai (חַגַּי), one of the three biblical names whose owner is thus designated “the prophet” (הַנָּבִיא) han-nâbî, now becomes the logical choice for post-exilic Jeremiah via Habakkuk.
Habakkuk, as we know from Daniel 14, lived during post-exilic times. He bears the same prophetic status as does Haggai, whose singular name is probably now to be regarded as simply an hypocoristicon of the foreign name Habakkuk.
Both names, Haggai and Habakkuk, commence with a chet.
Haggai, or Chaggai, may perhaps be rendered Chaqqai = Cha(ba)qqu(k) (Habakkuk).
Now, Haggai was to do what Jeremiah had been told to do at the very beginning of his vocation (Jeremiah 1:9), “to build and to plant”. To build the new Temple of Yahweh in fact. Thus Haggai 1:8: “‘Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my House, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored’, says the LORD”.
Though Haggai’s style would generally be considered inferior to that of Jeremiah, qua Jeremiah, that fact is well explained here (http://biblehub.com/topical/h/haggai.htm):

Haggai’s style is suited to the contents of his prophecies. While he is less poetical than his predecessors, yet parallelism is not altogether wanting in his sentence (Haggai 2:8). Compared with the greater books of prophecy, his brief message has been declared “plain and unadorned,” “tame and prosaic”; yet it must be acknowledged that he is not wanting in pathos when he reproves, or in force when he exhorts. Though he labors under a poverty of terms, and frequently repeats the same formulas, yet he was profoundly in earnest, and became the most successful in his purpose of all his class. He was especially fond of interrogation. At best we have only a summary, probably, of what he actually preached.

[End of quote]

If the “King Darius”, in whose “second year” is contained the entire short career of Haggai, qua Haggai, is a Persian king who came after Darius/Cyrus, then this would further extend the age of Jeremiah, well beyond the mid-eighties that I previously estimated for him as Habakkuk. Haggai 1:1: “In the second year of King Darius, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest”.
But Haggai, perhaps as Habakkuk, perhaps as Jeremiah, may force us further to re-evaluate the kings and chronology of Medo-Persian history.

Part Three (i): The Geography

We know at least that, before the incident of the lions’ den during the reign of king Cyrus, Habakkuk had never actually been to Babylon (Daniel 14:35):

But Habakkuk answered,
‘Sir, I have never seen Babylon, and I do not know the den!’

Really, the geography of our prophet has already been discussed by now, in Part Two (ii), in the section “Tracking Jeremiah”.
The prophet Jeremiah we found, typically stationed in Judah, was removed to Egypt against his will after the Chaldeans, under king Nebuchednezzar II, had taken the city of Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple of Yahweh.
Traditions about what became of Jeremiah after this are hazy and conflicting: e.g., martyred in Egypt; taken to Babylon afterwards by a Nebuchednezzar victorious over Egypt; returning to Palestine.
Thanks to our connection of Jeremiah with Habakkuk, that I think has become increasingly more likely as this series has progressed – though that is up to scholars to determine – I suggest that we can be more definite than these traditions about the fate of Jeremiah after Egypt. And it was a good one.
Jeremiah eventually, after his sojourn in Egypt, returned to Judah (Judea).
There we find him later, in the reign of king Cyrus, as Habakkuk (Daniel 14: 33-34): “The prophet Habakkuk was in Judea. He mixed some bread in a bowl with the stew he had boiled, and was going to bring it to the reapers in the field, when an angel of the Lord told him, ‘Take the meal you have to Daniel in the lions’ den at Babylon’.”
After his brief flight upon angelic wings to Babylon, to visit Daniel, the prophet returned to his usual abode of Judah.
For Jeremiah, whose prophetic work during the Chaldean period had been largely the negative one (Jeremiah 1:10): ‘See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow …’, he would finally now, in the Medo-Persian period, be able to realise its positive aspect, ‘to build and to plant’.
And he was to do this, as I have suggested, under the guise of Haggai (and still in Judah).
The prophet Haggai had urged the Jews (Haggai 1:7):

‘Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my House,
so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored’, says the LORD.

Part Three (ii):
The Status or Office

Are “priest” and “prophet” common to Habakkuk
as well as to his proposed alter ego, Jeremiah?

Jeremiah, we are specifically told, was a priest (Jeremiah 1:1): “The words of Jeremiah son of Hilkiah, one of the priests at Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin”.
And he was also most definitely a prophet (1:5): ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations’.

Habakkuk was clearly a prophet (Habakkuk 1:1): “The prophecy that Habakkuk the prophet received”.
And commentators think that Habakkuk may also have been a priest. For example, we read this at: https://www.insight.org/resources/bible/the-minor-prophets/habakkuk:
“Habakkuk also could have been a priest involved with the worship of God at the temple. This assumption is based on the book’s final, psalm-like statement: “For the choir director, on my stringed instruments” (Habakkuk 3:19)”. And again:

We know little of Habakkuk beyond the two mentions of his name in this book of prophecy. Both times, he identified himself as “Habakkuk the prophet” (Habakkuk 1:1; 3:1), a term that seems to indicate Habakkuk was a professional prophet. This could mean that Habakkuk was trained in the Law of Moses in a prophetic school, an institution for educating prophets that cropped up after the days of Samuel (1 Samuel 19:20; 2 Kings 4:38).

Fr. R. Murphy (O.P.) has written similarly in “Habakkuk” (The Jerome Biblical Commentary, 1968, 18:34): “From the liturgies (e.g., 1:2-2:4) some have deduced that he was a member, possibly a leader, of the Temple choir …”.
According to a Septuagint (LXX) tradition found in the title to Daniel’s Bel and the Dragon, Habakkuk was of the tribe of Levi. Commenting on this tradition, we read the following https://bible.org/seriespage/2-habakkuk

Was Habakkuk, then, a Levite?237 Was he at least a prophet of the cultus, as many (e.g., Humbert, Lindblom) confidently affirm?238 Though the scriptural evidence indicates that Levites functioned in a musical ministry in the Temple (1 Chron. 6:31-48; 15:16-24; 16:4-6, 37, 41-42; 23:5; 25:1-8), a fact that accords well with the musical notations in chap. 3, and although the Scriptures attest the existence of prophets who were also priests (e.g., Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Zephaniah),239 a lack of proof makes it impossible to say more than that Habakkuk was a prophet who likely lived in Judah in the seventh century B.C. and who was burdened by what he perceived to be the divine indifference to the moral decay and spiritual apostasy that surrounded him (1:2-4).

Further on here we read:

OCCASION, PURPOSE, AND TEACHINGS

…. The book also rehearses Habakkuk’s theophanic experience that came as a climax to his spiritual wrestling and the prophet’s victorious movement from a position of questioning God to one of casting himself upon his Redeemer. If Habakkuk was also a Levite or in some way connected with the Temple cultus, the book’s final prayer and theophany were of such a magnitude to Habakkuk personally that he set them down in words and form intended for use in Temple worship. In any event, the whole prophecy is designed to serve as an exemplary testimony of God’s continued concern for His people and His dealings in the affairs of all mankind.

According to Fr. Murphy again (op. cit., ibid.): “… [Habakkuk] certainly … was a deep thinker and a man of considerable literary skill, a “wrestler with God” (Jerome)”.
Further to this, we read https://bible.org/seriespage/2-habakkuk

2. Habakkuk

OCCASION, PURPOSE, AND TEACHINGS

If the above conclusions with regard to the date and authorship of Habakkuk’s prophecy are more or less accurate, the book has its origin in recounting the prophet’s intense personal experience with God. Specifically it records Habakkuk’s spiritual perplexities as to God’s seeming indifference in an era of moral decay and spiritual apostasy, and God’s patient responses to his prophet. The book also rehearses Habakkuk’s theophanic experience that came as a climax to his spiritual wrestling and the prophet’s victorious movement from a position of questioning God to one of casting himself upon his Redeemer. If Habakkuk was also a Levite or in some way connected with the Temple cultus, the book’s final prayer and theophany were of such a magnitude to Habakkuk personally that he set them down in words and form intended for use in Temple worship. In any event, the whole prophecy is designed to serve as an exemplary testimony of God’s continued concern for His people and His dealings in the affairs of all mankind.

In God’s answers to Habakkuk, He gives him wise insight into the basic issues of life for individuals and societies:259 wealth is not in itself wrong, but unjust gain will not be tolerated (2:6-11); civic growth and prosperity are not condemnable but cannot be accomplished at the expense of mankind’s rights (2:14-20); the misuse of another person to gain one’s own ends is despicable (2:15-17). The individual is also reminded that anything he puts ahead of God’s rightful place as the center of his life is idolatry (2:18-20). This last point serves as the culminating observation to a discussion of the spiritual and social evils for which Babylon must be judged and touches upon another major theme in the book—the problem of evil:
Thus the problem of the book is the problem of evil—in world history, in the church, in the human heart, the realization that every human “solution” contains the seed of its own dissolution and often only exacerbates the problem…. Pagan dualism and fatalism could (and can) always attribute the problem to other “gods” or inscrutable forces immanent in the universe, but a monotheistic belief in one righteous and holy God must somehow reconcile the continued power of evil with His governance—and perhaps ultimately with His very existence.260

Did Jeremiah, too, wrestle with God?
Yes, according to this piece:
http://www.msjc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/JeremiahHO.pdf

3. Jeremiah: A Prophet Wrestles with God….

The Reading: Jeremiah 12:1-5; 15:15-20; 17:14-18; 20:7-9 Jeremiah Complains to God (Jer 12:1-3)

12You will be in the right, O LORD, when I lay charges against you; but let me put my case to you.
Why does the way of the guilty prosper? Why do all who are treacherous thrive?
2 You plant them, and they take root;
they grow and bring forth fruit; you are near in their mouths
yet far from their hearts.
3 But you, O LORD, know me;
You see me and test me—my heart is with you.
Pull them out like sheep for the slaughter, and set them apart for the day of slaughter….

God Replies to Jeremiah (Jer 12:5)

5 If you have raced with foot-runners and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses?
and if in a safe land you fall down,
how will you fare in the thickets of the Jordan?

Finally, a brief consideration again of Haggai, with whom we have also sought to identify Jeremiah/Habakkuk.
Only one person is named in Jeremiah’s ancestry. He was “Jeremiah son of Hilkiah”. Habakkuk, however – Haggai, however – is provided with no genealogy at all.
So we cannot do any ancestral comparisons.

Haggai, too, was clearly a prophet (Haggai 1:1): “In the second year of King Darius, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai …”. Moreover, as we learned in Part Two (iii), from Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers with regard to “the prophet” (הַנָּבִיא) in Habakkuk 1:1: “This title (han-nâbî) is applied only to Habakkuk, Haggai, and Zechariah”.
And, just as in the case of Habakkuk, “[Haggai] may have been a priest4”:
https://bible.org/article/introduction-book-haggai#P21_2118

4 Baldwin writes, According to an early Christian tradition Haggai was a priest and was buried with honour near the sepulchers of the priests. The fact that in the Versions certain Psalms are attributed to Haggai may add support to his priestly lineage. The LXX, for example, prefaces Psalms 138 and 146-149 with the names Haggai and Zechariah, indicating perhaps that they were responsible for the recension from which the Greek translation was being made. Hebrew tradition on the other hand did not reckon Haggai among the priests, and the modern Rabbi Eli Cashdan writes: ‘Evidently he was not of the priestly tribe, seeing that he called on the priests of his day for a ruling on levitical uncleanness (ii.II).’ The point is hardly proved on this evidence, however (Joyce G. Baldwin, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi: An Introduction & Commentary, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, 28).

Part Three (iii):
The Style and Content

“Habakkuk is intensely occupied with the problem of evil,
the perennial stumbling block for all thoughtful men”.

Introduction

Just like the prophet Job before him, Habakkuk will agonise over certain actions on the part of God that do not seem worthy of his holiness or of his justice.
Fr. R. Murphy (O.P.) writes of the prophet’s great consternation in his article, “Habakkuk” (The Jerome Biblical Commentary, 1968, 18:34):

…. Judah had sinned, but why should God, the holy one whose eyes are too pure to gaze upon evil, have chosen to punish evil-doers with those who are more wicked than themselves? Can it be that the Lord is on the side of injustice? He is intensely occupied with the problem of evil, the perennial stumbling block for all thoughtful men.

[End of quote]

‘How long, LORD, must I call for help,
but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!”
but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?’

Habakkuk 1:2-3

And Jeremiah 47:6: “Ah, sword of the LORD! How long till you are quiet? Put yourself into your scabbard; rest and be still!”
Rabbi Moshe Reiss has written of “Jeremiah, the Suffering Prophet” in somewhat Habakkukian terms http://www.moshereiss.org/articles/09_jeremiah.htm

Jeremiah suffers from existential pain and loneliness; feels truly alone in the world. As a human being he reacts to the seeming injustice of his position. Believing in a God of justice he feels like Job, his theological successor [sic]. Both tried to understand a world that is not just. 12 ‘Why do the wicked succeed and all those who commit evil flourish’? (12:1) Despite God, by definition being right ‘You have to be in the right O Lord . . . nevertheless I will bring certain cases to Your attention (12:1). If God is justice then Jeremiah has a right to accuse Him. ‘Should evil be awarded with good. I speak for good’ (18:20). They ‘build a trap for me . . . they wish my death’ (18:22-23). As Job (and Jesus) he accuses God of having forsaken him. ‘For You have filled me with gloom [and are] ‘as undependable waters’ (15:17-18). God’s first response to Jeremiah’s addresses his complaint about his family and neighbors (11:18-20). Stop talking to them, ‘I will bring evil to the men of Anatoth’ (11:23). ‘O Lord You have seduced me, and I am seduced; You have raped me and I am overcome’ 13. . . Daily I have been an object of ridicule . . the word of the Lord has become for a constant source of shame’ (20:7-8). The term used by Jeremiah as translated by A.J. Heschel is ‘raped by God’ is extraordinary. 14 As Job becomes a public spectacle 15 so with Jeremiah.
[End of quote]

Justice, a constant theme throughout the books of Jeremiah and Job, and in the Book of Habakkuk, gets picked up later in that most famous of Platonic dialogues, The Republic, which I believe was influenced, in part, by the Book of Job:

Prophet Daniel and ‘Plato’

https://www.academia.edu/24090043/Prophet_Daniel_and_Plato

Plato and Likely Borrowings
from the Book of Job

There can be a similarity in thought between Plato and the Jewish sages, but not always a similarity in tone. Compared with the intense atmosphere of the drama of the Book of Job, for instance, Plato’s Republic, and his other dialogues, such as the Protagoras, brilliant as they are, come across sometimes as a bit like a gentlemen’s discussion over a glass of port. W. Guthrie may have captured something of this general tone in his Introduction to Plato. Protagoras and Meno (Penguin, 1968), when he wrote (p. 20):

… a feature of the conversation which cannot fail to strike a reader is its unbroken urbanity and good temper. The keynote is courtesy and forbearance, though these are not always forthcoming without a struggle. Socrates is constantly on the alert for the signs of displeasure on the part of Protagoras, and when he detects them, is careful not to press his point, and the dialogue ends with mutual expressions of esteem. ….
[End of quote]

Compare this gentlemanly tone with e.g. Job’s ‘How long will you torment me, and break me in pieces with words? These ten times you have cast reproach upon me; are you not ashamed to wrong me?’ (19:1-3), and Eliphaz’s accusations of the holy man: ‘Is not your wickedness great? There is no end to your iniquities [which supposed types of injustice on the part of Job Eliphaz then proceeds to itemise]’ (22:5).

In Plato’s dialogues, by contrast, we get pages and pages of the following sort of amicable discussion taken from the Republic (Bk. 2, 368-369):

[Socrates] ‘Justice can be a characteristic of an individual or of a community, can it not?’

[Adeimantus] ‘Yes’.

[Socrates] ‘And a community is larger than an individual?’

[Adeimantus] ‘It is”.

[Socrates] ‘We may therefore find that the amount of justice in the larger entity is greater, and so easier to recognize. I accordingly propose that we start our enquiry …’.

[Adeimantus] ‘That seems a good idea’, he agreed.

….

Though Protagoras is a famous Sophist, whose maxim “Man is the measure of all things, of those that are that they are, and of those that are not that they are not” (Plato’s Theaetetus 152) I have often quoted in a philosophical context {– and also in}:

The Futile Aspiration to Make ‘Man the Measure of All Things’

https://www.academia.edu/8494268/The_Futile_Aspiration_to_Make_Man_the_Measure_of_All_Things_

this Protagoras may actually be based upon – according to my new estimation of things – the elderly Eliphaz of the Book of Job. Whilst Eliphaz was by no means a Sophist along the Greek lines, he was, like Protagoras with Socrates, largely opposed to his opponent’s point of view. And so, whilst the God-fearing Eliphaz would never have uttered anything so radical or atheistic as “man is the measure of all things”, he was however opposed to the very Job who had, in his discussion of wisdom, spoken of God as ‘apportioning out by measure’ all the things that He had created (Job 28:12, 13, 25).

Now, whilst Protagoras would be but a pale ghost of the biblical Eliphaz, some of the original (as I suspect) lustre does still manage to shine through – as with Protagoras’s claim that knowledge or wisdom was the highest thing in life (Protagoras 352C, D) (cf. Eliphaz in Job 22:1-2). And Guthrie adds that Protagoras “would repudiate as scornfully as Socrates the almost bestial type of hedonism advocated by Callicles, who says that what nature means by fair and right is for the strong man to let his desires grow as big as possible and have the means of everlastingly satisfying them” (op. cit., p. 22).

Eliphaz was later re-invented (I think) as Protagoras the Sophist from Abdera, as a perfect foil to Socrates (with Job’s other friends also perhaps emerging in the Greek versions re-cast as Sophists). Protagoras stated that, somewhat like Eliphaz, he was old enough to be the father of any of them. “Indeed I am getting on in life now – so far as age goes I might be the father of any one of you …” (Protagoras 317 C). That Eliphaz was old is indicated by the fact that he was the first to address Job and that he also refered to men older than Job’s father (Job 15:10). Now, just as Fr. R. MacKenzie (S.J.) in his commentary on “Job”, in The Jerome Biblical Commentary, tells of Eliphaz’s esteem for, and courtesy towards, Job (31:23):

Eliphaz is presumably the oldest of the three and therefore the wisest; he is certainly the most courteous and the most eloquent. He has a genuine esteem for Job and is deeply sorry for him. He knows the advice to give him, the wisdom that lays down what he must do to receive relief from his sufferings.

[End of quote],

so does Guthrie, reciprocally (I suggest), say: “Protagoras – whom [Socrates] regards with genuine admiration and liking” (op. cit., p. 22).

But, again, just as the righteous Job had scandalised his friends by his levity, according to St. Thomas Aquinas (“Literal Exposition on Job”, 42:1-10), “And here one should consider that Elihu had sinned out of inexperience whereas Job had sinned out of levity, and so neither of them had sinned gravely”, so does Guthrie use this very same word, “levity”, in the context of an apparent flaw in the character of Socrates (ibid., p. 18):

There is one feature of the Protagoras which cannot fail to puzzle, if not exasperate, a reader: the behaviour of Socrates. At times he treats the discussion with such levity, and at other times with such unscrupulousness, that Wilamowitz felt bound to conclude that the dialogue could only have been written in his lifetime. This, he wrote, is the human being whom Plato knew; only after he had suffered a martyr’s death did the need assert itself to idealize his character.

[End of quote]

Job’s tendency towards levity had apparently survived right down into the Greek era. Admittedly, the Greek version does get much nastier in the case of Thrasymachus, and even more so with Callicles in the Gorgias, but in the Republic at least it never rises to the dramatic pitch of Job’s dialogues with his three friends. Here is that least friendly of the debaters, Thrasymachus, at his nastiest (Republic, Bk. I, 341):

[Socrates] Well, said I, ‘so you think I’m malicious, do you Thrasymachus?’

[Thrasymachus] ‘I certainly do’.

[Socrates] ‘You think my questions were deliberately framed to distort your argument?’

[Thrasymachus] ‘I know perfectly well they were. But they won’t get you anywhere; you can’t fool me, and if you don’t you won’t be able to crush me in argument’.

[Socrates] ‘My dear chap, I wouldn’t dream of trying’, I said ….

Socrates and Plato are similarly (like the Sophists) watered down entities by comparison with the Middle Eastern originals. Such is how the Hebrew Scriptures end up when filtered through the Greeks, [and, in the case of Plato, perhaps through the Babylonians before the Greeks, hence a double filtering]. Even then, it is doubtful whether the finely filtered version of Plato that we now have could have been written by pagan Greeks. At least some of it seems to belong clearly to the Christian era, e.g. “The just man … will be scourged, tortured, and imprisoned … and after enduring every humiliation he will be crucified” (Republic, Bk. 2, 362).
I submit that this statement would not likely have been written prior to the Gospels.

“Plato and Porphyry each made certain statements which might have brought them both to become Christians if they had exchanged them with one another”, wrote St. Augustine (City of God, XXII, 27).

What is clear is that the writings of Plato as we now have them had reached an impressive level of excellence and unparalleled literary sophistication.

* * * * *

A Common Source

The Book of Job is often considered to be the most like the Book of Jeremiah (and Lamentations), the two perhaps having :”a common source”:
https://books.google.com.au/books?id=gkhxEy8Q_44C&pg=PA102&lpg=PA102&dq=job+

Both Jeremiah and Job contend with their sense of loneliness and betrayal by cursing the day of their birth. This particular parallel may serve as a key case test for establishing the relationship between Jeremiah and Job …. Most believe that Jeremiah and Job are drawing on a common source or generic template ….

Habakkuk, too, seems to have imbibed from that “source”. I take some random sections from
https://bible.org/seriespage/2-habakkuk:

…. the problem of the book is the problem of evil—in world history, in the church, in the human heart, the realization that every human “solution” contains the seed of its own dissolution and often only exacerbates the problem…. Pagan dualism and fatalism could (and can) always attribute the problem to other “gods” or inscrutable forces immanent in the universe, but a monotheistic belief in one righteous and holy God must somehow reconcile the continued power of evil with His governance—and perhaps ultimately with His very existence.260

1:2
† עַד־אָנָה (“how long”): The interrogative adverb אָן (“where”) with augmented ָה ( a‚) is often combined with עַד (“for”) to form, as here, a compound interrogative particle of time (cf. Ex. 16:28; Num. 14:11; Josh. 18:3; Jer. 47:6). Here it introduces the prophet’s invocation.
1:2-3 The cry “Violence” and the need for divine help are reminiscent of Job’s lament (Job 9:7). Jeremiah (Jer. 6:7; 20:8) also complains of the violence and destruction of Judahite society, a charge echoed by Ezekiel (Ezek. 45:9).
In any case Habakkuk takes his place beside many others, such as Job (Job 7:16-21; 9:21-24; 12:4-6; 21:1-16; 24:1-16, 21-25; 27:1-12), the psalmist Asaph (Ps. 73), Jeremiah (Jer. 11:18-19; 12:1-4; 15:15-18; 17:15-18; 20:7-18), and Malachi (Mal. 2:17), who questioned God as to His fairness in handling the problems of evil and injustice. Like these other questioners, Habakkuk will be shown the necessity of resting fully in God (Hab. 2:4, 20).

Nevertheless, Habakkuk ends his complaint with a renewed statement of his confidence in God (2:1). He also reports his intention to assume the role of a watchman. As the city watchman manned his post atop the walls to look for the approach of danger (Ezek. 33:2-6) or a messenger (2 Sam. 18:24-28; Isa. 21:6-8; 52:7-10), or to keep watch over current events (1 Sam. 14:16-17; 2 Kings 9:17-20), so the OT prophet looked for the communication of God’s will to the waiting people (Jer. 6:17; Ezek. 3:16-21; 33:7-9; Hos. 9:8). Habakkuk would assume the role of a prophetic watchman, taking his post on the ramparts* to watch* for the Lord’s reply. The word “watch” suggests an active, earnest waiting for the Lord’s message; the “ramparts” (cf. 2 Chron. 8:5; 11:5) imply that just as the civil watchman assumed a particular post on the city wall (cf. Nah. 2:1 [HB 2:2]), so the prophet had his assigned post of responsibility (cf. Jer. 1:17-19; Amos 3:6-7).
† שָׁמֵן and בְּרִאָה both mean “fat.” The translations “abundant” and “plenteous” are ad sensum. These adjectives testify to the luxurious lifestyle of the Chaldeans gained as a result of their rapacious looting. The NJB not inappropriately translates: “For by these they get a rich living and live off the fat of the land.” Though the root שָׁמֵן can be employed to describe God-given prosperity (Isa. 30:23; Ezek. 34:14), like its companion adjective (cf. the masc. sing. form בָּרִיא in Ps. 73:4) it can be employed with regard to the wicked who have gained their riches through ungodly living (Jer. 5:26-28; Ezek. 34:16).
Habakkuk was told to write* the issue of the divine reply upon tablets*. If Habakkuk was literally to write down the divine dispatch, the question arises as to its extent. Various suggestions have been offered, some identifying the text of the message with v. 4 (Craigie, Feinberg), some with vv. 4b-5 (Brownlee, Humbert), others with all of vv. 4 and 5 (Ward), and still others deciding that the length of the communication is uncertain (e.g., Laetsch).341
To reach a final solution one must consider the word “tablets.” Though these could be viewed as large stones, such as in the case of the Ten Commandments (Ex. 24:12; see Additional Notes), the author could intend small tablets of whatever material.342 That the word is plural could suggest multiple copies to be hand carried by men serving as heralds that others might hear the message (cf. Jer. 51:59-64). That the heralds would carry a written dispatch rather than an oral communication would emphasize the seriousness of the divine directive. If this was the case, the message was doubtless a short one, probably encompassing no more than v. 4. But to whom would these dispatches be carried? Would they go to Judah’s leaders (cf. Jer. 36), or perhaps to foreign nations (cf. Isa. 30:8)? Lack of clarity as to this latter question warns against too quickly adopting the idea of heralds carrying several tablets.
The message was to be written plainly* so that those who passed by* might be able to understand it and bear the news to others. Though the figure of reading and running may indicate the activity of a prophet (Keil) or may simply intend that all who pass by may read it (S. R. Driver, Feinberg, Laetsch), it raises again the possibility of the literary motif of a herald “whose role would thus be to ‘run with the message’ (cf. 1 Sam. 4:12; 2 Sam. 18:19-27; Esther 3:13, 15; 8:10, 14; Jer. 51:31).”343 That the text reads “he who reads it may run” rather than “he who runs may read” favors strongly the motif of the herald (NIV). But because not only Habakkuk but all who read God’s communication were to serve as heralds, all three of these views are in a sense complementary, the figure of the herald being adopted in order that prophets and all others might understand God’s Word and carry it on to others. The message was for all.
….

The verse proceeds with a reference to the Chaldeans’ building projects. An implied comparison with the eagle is probably intended. If so, just as an eagle seeks security by building his nest on the upper-most cliffs, so the Chaldeans will raise high—that is, strengthen mightily—their fortifications (cf. Jer. 49:16; Obad. 4). Although Nebuchadnezzar mentions such fortifying work elsewhere, it was particularly true of Babylon, which he enclosed with two massive walls, the outermost of which was surrounded by a moat on its east side that stretched westward to the Euphrates on the city’s northern and southern sides.

Jeremiah’s words reinforce those of Habakkuk:
The arrogant one will stumble and fall
and no one will help her up;
I will kindle a fire in her towns
that will consume all who are around her.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
This is what the LORD Almighty says:
“Babylon’s thick wall will be leveled
and her high gates set on fire;
the peoples exhaust themselves for nothing,
the nations’ labor is only fuel for the flames.”
(Jer. 50:32; 51:58, NIV)

As invective turns to threat (v. 16) the allegory depicts the giver of the drink as one who is forced to imbibe of his own drink and suffer the disgrace of exposure. Several familiar biblical motifs and expressions are contained in vv. 15-16. The cup as a motif of judgment is well attested elsewhere (e.g., Pss. 11:6; 75:8 [HB 75:9]; Isa. 51:17, 22; Jer. 25:15-28; 49:12; Ezek. 23:31-34). Particularly enlightening for the understanding of Habakkuk’s fourth woe is Jeremiah’s use of the cup to portray God’s relation with Babylon (Jer. 51:6-8). For Jeremiah, Babylon is God’s cup, a golden cup (cf. Daniel’s head of gold, Dan. 2:36-38), which in God’s hand had passed on His judgment to the nations. Those who drink of that cup lose all sense of perspective and become oblivious to the danger they are in. But Babylon will become a broken cup, for she will be smashed and never repaired.
Habakkuk makes the same point, although the image is slightly different. The Chaldean will be God’s cup of judgment (cf. 1:5-11), but rather than being conscious of his privileged responsibility, the Chaldean will use his position to take advantage of others and enslave them politically and economically.

The image of shame is heightened by the double figure of drunkenness and nakedness (cf. Gen. 9:21-23). The first is condemned both by our Lord (Luke 21:34) and elsewhere in the Scriptures (e.g., Eph. 5:18). Nakedness is likened to a shameful thing (cf. Gen. 2:25 with 3:7), and he who was stripped of clothing felt degraded (2 Sam. 10:4; Ezek. 16:39; 23:29). Both figures are used elsewhere to symbolize divine judgment (Nah. 3:5, 11). All three symbols occur together in Lam. 4:21 where Jeremiah portrays the Israelites’ taunt of Edom. That nation, which had so often taken advantage of Israel’s misfortune, will be given the cup of judgment, become drunk, and be stripped naked.

By the violence done to Lebanon some understand a figurative reference to Israel’s own land. Thus Armerding remarks: “Lebanon” is used as a symbol of Israel (2 Kings 14:9; cf. Jer. 22:6, 23) and more specifically of Israel as a victim of Babylonian aggression (Ezek. 17:3).”424 But a literal interpretation is not impossible. The Mesopotamian kings had boasted of their exploitation of the forests of Lebanon since the earliest days.425

The noun שֹׁד … is used of great devastation or destruction. It occurs at times with שֶׁבֶר … “breaking/shattering”; Isa. 51:19; 60:18; Jer. 48:35), such as in depicting the work of evil men (Isa. 59:7). Sóo„d is also parallel to עָמָל ( àa„ma„l, “trouble”) used of the dangers in associating with the wicked (Prov. 24:2). As is the case here, sŒo„d parallels ָָחמָס ( h£a„ma„s, “violence,”) in Ezek. 45:9; Amos 3:10. Jeremiah would later echo Habakkuk’s complaint with regard to the social injustice in his country (Jer. 6:7; 20:8). Habakkuk is thus assured that if the agent of God’s judgment perpetrates the same wickedness he has been sent to punish, he too must receive the just judgment of God.

2:15 †Three main suggestions have been given for the form חֲמָתְךָ (“your wrath”). (1) The translation just given (cf. RSV) takes the noun as ֵֵחמָה (“[burning] anger,” “rage,” from יַַָחם, “be hot”). (2) Some who follow this understanding of the origin of the noun suggest that it should be translated “venom” (NASB) or “poison” (NJB) as in Deut. 32:24; Job 6:4; Ps. 140:4. (3) Others believe that the word intended is ֵֵחמֶת (“wineskin,” NIV; cf. KJV, NKJV).430 In view of the association of drinking, wrath, and cup in the OT (e.g., Isa. 51:17, 22; Jer. 25:15), the first alternative appears to be the best here. Moreover, such a view harmonizes well with a similar picture of Babylon’s judgment in Jer. 51:7-8.

†The problem concerning ֲֲחמָתְךָ is complicated further by controversy over the previous מְסַפֵּחַ. Some take the word to be from the root סָפַח (“join,” “attach to”; cf. Ethiopic saˆfh£a, “become broad/wide”433), deciding for a meaning “mix in” (NASB) or “press/put to” (NKJV, KJV). Others favor the idea “pour out” (NIV, NJB), סָפַח being compared with the Arabic safah£a (“pour out”).434 Still a third proposal is to emend the word to מִסַּף (“from/of the cup/bowl,” KB-3, RSV).435 Despite the uncertainty, I have followed Armerding, the NIV, and the NJB in choosing the second alternative because of the common OT usage of wrath being poured out (e.g., 2 Chron. 12:7; 34:21; Ps. 79:6; Jer. 7:20; 42:18; Ezek. 7:8; 9:8).436
†Still another perplexity arises in the next phrase, וְאַף שַׁכֵּר (“and also getting him drunk”). The conjunctive particle has been rendered as “even” (NASB), “till” (NIV), or “until” (NJB). Armerding offers the novel suggestion that the phrase “can be interpreted as a parallel noun in the accusative case, meaning ‘and (with) anger.’“437 This idea has the advantage of scriptural precedent in that both terms in this verse ( ֵֵחמָה and אַף) would then be words for anger that are said to be poured out (cf. Jer. 10:25; Lam. 4:11). The two even occur together at times (e.g., Jer. 7:20). Moreover, both appear together in a context of God’s judgment that also uses the figure of getting the nations drunk (Isa. 63:1-6).438
EXEGESIS AND EXPOSITION
The condemnation of idolatry here is in harmony with that found in the other OT prophets (cf. Isa. 44:9-20; Jer. 5:7; 44:1-8; Hos. 8:4). The judgment of Babylon and its gods announced previously by Isaiah (Isa. 21:9) is repeated by Jeremiah (Jer. 50:2; 51:47-48, 52-53).
The invective and threat against Babylon (v. 19) thus have more than sufficient cause. Since the Chaldeans worshiped gods of their own creation (v. 18) rather than the Creator, controller, and consummator of history, their condemnation is certain. This is their most besetting sin. Because the Chaldeans worshiped self and their own selfish artifices, they will plot against the peoples around them. Their feigned friendship with them will only be a pretext to indulge their own perverted lusts. Further, they will go on to plunder the nations so that lands, cities, and their inhabitants will feel the crush of their violent oppression. The verdict is final. Habakkuk can be assured that the Chaldeans will be judged, for they will violate the standards of God (cf. vv. 4-5).
Verse 20 also has another application. Because the idolatry that leads to the neglect and rejection of God is a universal problem, all the earth is to be silent before the living God. None is to assert his independence from God but rather should worship Him in humble submission (Jer. 10:1-10), letting Him be God of the whole life (Pss. 63:1-4 [HB 63:2-5]; 73:23-28).

Still a third term for idol ( אֱלִילִים) occurs here. This word lays stress on its value, for it is denounced as an empty or worthless thing. H. Preuss suggests that the word
was created as a disparaging pun on and as a diminutive of ‘el or ‘elohim (Ps. 97:7) (“little god, godling”). This helped to bring about a conscious antithesis between áelil and áel, “the Strong One.” Furthermore, it is likely that the noun áelil is intentionally reminiscent of the adj. ‘elil, “weak, insignificant, worthless,” which we also encounter in contexts where the speaker uses scornful words (Job 13:4; Jer. 14:14; cf. Zec. 11:17; also Sir. 11:3).454

The Second Line
The chief points of contention in the second line of Hab. 2:4 revolve around (1) the precise meaning of עַדִּיק ( s£addîq, “righteous/just”) and (2) the meaning and syntactical relationship of the following בֶּאֱמוּנָתוֹ ( beá e†mu‚na„to‚, “by his faith[fulness]).” Complicating both problems is the reading of the line in the LXX and its subsequent use by the NT writers.
As for the first problem, words derived from עדק have varied meanings. The root itself appears to mean “be straight” and is largely employed in situations that denote conformity to a standard (i.e., straightness).482 Thus the root and its word group are often used of God’s activities and man’s relation to God. In accordance with His righteous scrutiny God takes note of all people in their activities (Amos 5:4-7, 14; 6:12) and punishes the sin of His own (Dan. 9:14) and of all people (Ps. 9:8 [HB 9:9]). By His righteous judgment He vindicates His own (Judg. 5:11; Isa. 54:17; Mic. 7:9) and brings them salvation/deliverance (Isa. 45:21; 46:12-13), ultimately through His Righteous One (Jer. 23:6; 33:18).483

Habakkuk’s prayer would be answered according to the terms of Israel’s covenant with God (Deut. 4:25-31) and also the prophecies of Jeremiah (Jer. 25:1-11; 29:10-14; cf. 2 Chron. 36:22; Ezra 1;1; Dan. 9:2). His prayer and its realization stand as an earnest of God’s future gathering of His people in redemptive power (Deut. 30:1-3; Ezek. 36:24-38; 37:21-28; Amos 9:14-15; Mic. 4:6; Zeph. 3:20; Zech. 10:5-12).

God is seen by His enemies not as Yahweh, Israel’s covenant God, but as Eloah, the Creator (Deut. 32:15) and Lord of the earth (Pss. 18:31 [HB 18:32]; 114:7). God is also declared to be the Holy One (Isa. 63), the one who convicts of sin and judges the world (Lev. 19:1; 20:7; Jer. 50:29; 51:5), but who is Israel’s Redeemer (Isa. 41:14; 43:1-3). The one whom Habakkuk had addressed in his second perplexity (Hab. 1:12) is the sovereign, holy God who had come long ago in all His glory.

When he was informed of God’s intention to use the godless Chaldeans to bring judgment to His people (1:5-11), Habakkuk was all the more perplexed (1:12-2:1). The words of the ancient epic poem that he now considers remind him of the just nature of God. Though the Lord may employ nations and people of all sorts to do His bidding, He will ultimately deal with them on their own merits (cf. Isa. 24:1-6; 63:1-6; Jer. 50:9-13; Hos. 1:4; Nah. 3:4). Further, He will deal with them according to their troubling of His people Israel (cf. Gen. 12:3; Isa. 26:12-20; Joel 3:1-8 [HB 4:1-8]; Obad. 14-15; Zeph. 2:10).

God’s indignation against the nations in this regard can mean the deliverance of His own people, as here. Indeed, salvation/deliverance was at the heart of the epic cycle concerning the Exodus (Ex. 15:2). God redeems His people out of Egypt (Ex. 15:1-10, 14-18; Hab. 3:12-15), carries them to Sinai where He reveals Himself to them (Ex. 15:11-13), and then, as their triumphant Redeemer, goes before them both to demonstrate His redemptive power to the nations and to bring His people victoriously into the land (Deut. 33:2-3; Judg. 5:4-5; Pss. 18:7-15 [HB 18:8-16]; 68:7-8 [HB 68:8-9]; 77:16-19 [HB 77:17-20]; 144:5-6; Hab. 3:3-11). That Exodus theme is perpetuated throughout the OT (e.g., Num. 23:21-24; 24:8-9, 17-19; Deut. 4:35-40; Josh. 23:3-6), especially among the prophets who build upon it in looking forward to the final salvation of Israel in a future day (e.g., Isa. 10:20-22; 25:9; 35:4; 41:11-16; 43:1-13; 49:8-26; 50:11; 52:7-10; 54:6-10; Jer. 23:5-8; 32:37-44; Ezek. 34:11-16; 36:24-38; 37:21-28; Hos. 2:14-3:5; Joel 2:31-32 [HB 3:4-5]; Amos 9:11-15; Obad. 17; Mic. 2:12-13; 4:1-7; 5:5-15; Nah. 1:13-15; Zeph. 3:8-20; Hag. 2:23; Zech. 14:3; Mal. 4:5-6).

The salvation of God’s anointed* is singled out for particular attention. Although historically the term here probably has reference to Moses, it can be applied also to the ruling member of the Davidic line, whose future coming was recorded by Moses (cf. Gen. 49:10; Num. 24:19). David understood his role as God’s anointed (2 Sam. 7:8-29; 23:1-7), and the Scriptures from his time forward proclaim the inviolability of the far-reaching provisions in the Davidic Covenant (cf. Pss. 2; 45:2-7; 89:3-4, 19-24, 27-37 [HB 89:4-5, 20-25, 28-38]; 110; Jer. 33:19-26; Ezek. 34:20-31) that will find their ultimate realization in Israel’s Messiah (Isa. 42:1-7; 48:16-17; 49:1-7; 52:13-53:12; Jer. 23:5-8; Ezek. 37:24-28; Zech. 9:9; cf. Isa. 61:1-2 with Luke 4:18-19; see further Luke 1:68-78; Acts 2:29-36; 3:24-26; 15:16-17; Rev. 11:15).

In addition, the fig tree and the vine had spiritual significance, for they symbolized the blessing of God upon an obedient people (cf. Hos. 2:12; Amos 4:9 with 1 Kings 4:25 [HB 5:5]; 2 Kings 18:31; see also Ps. 105:33; Isa. 36:16; Jer. 5:17; 8:13; Joel 2:19, 24; Hag. 2:19; Zech. 3:10). Likewise, olive oil and the grain of the field (as well as the cattle) were objects of God’s blessing (cf. Num. 18:12; Deut. 7:13; 11:14; 28:51; 2 Kings 18:32; Jer. 31:12; Joel 2:19; Hag. 1:11). עֹאן and בָּקָר are often used together to represent the totality of cattle, both small and large.626 Thus the failure of all these resources had serious economic and spiritual ramifications.

† שְׁדֵמוֹח (“fields”): Although the plural is twice used of terraced lands (2 Kings 23:4; Jer. 31:40), it was also employed with grapes and vines in Deut. 32:32; Isa. 16:8, so that “vineyard” is a likely possibility not only in these passages but also in Hab. 3:17. But the following אֹכֶל (“food”) makes a final decision difficult. I have retained the traditional denotation “fields.”

Most distinctive of all, however, is that, while vv. 2, 16-19 contain themes and phrases that may be indebted to the material contained in vv. 3-15, they are written in a poetic style largely representative of the classical language and themes of the Psalter and prophets (cf. v. 2 with Pss. 44:1 [HB 44:2]; 85:4-7 [HB 85:5-8]; 102:12-13; Isa. 54:8; v. 16 with Ps. 37:7; v. 17 with Jer. 5:17; Joel 1:10- 12; Amos 4:9; vv. 18-19 with Pss. 27:1; 46:1-5 [HB 46:2-6]; 97:12). On the other hand, vv. 3-15 reflect Israel’s earliest poetry (cf. v. 3 with Judg. 5:4; Ps. 68:7 [HB 68:8]; v. 5 with Deut. 33:2-3; vv. 10- 11 with Judg. 5:4-5; Pss. 18:7-15 [HB 18:8-16]; 68:7-8 [HB 68:8-9]; 77:16-19 [HB 77:17-20]; 144:5-6; vv. {1.269}12-15 with Ex. 15:6-10, 14-18).639 In addition, as noted in the introduction under Literary Context, this section is filled with archaic grammatical elements, poetic devices, and themes such as that of the chariot warrior baring his bow.640

The prophet Habakkuk, who I think is perfectly matchable with the great Jeremiah, would therefore be the latter in his later mission of ‘building and planting’ (also as Haggai), which positive mission could not be activated until the post-exilic phase, the Medo-Persian rule.

Part Four: As Zechariah

“This title (han-nâbî) is applied only to Habakkuk, Haggai, and Zechariah”.

With Habakkuk now identified as (Jeremiah =) Haggai, then it would be a neat completion if also Zechariah (of the same title as Habakkuk and Haggai) could be an additional alter ego.

Apart from the shared title, there are a few points to recommend this further identification, (Habakkuk = Jeremiah = Haggai) = Zechariah.
But there are also certain problems with it.
What follows here will thus be a brief and tentative beginning, for further elaboration later.

In Favour

To identify Jeremiah with Zechariah would immediately solve this most vexed of scriptural problems: https://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=6&article=658

Who was Matthew Quoting?
by Dave Miller, Ph.D.
Eric Lyons, M.Min.

After reporting in his gospel account about Judas’ suicide and the purchase of the potter’s field, Matthew quoted from the prophets as he had done many times prior to chapter 27. He wrote: “Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, ‘And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the value of Him who was priced, whom they of the children of Israel priced, and gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me’ ” (27:9-10). For centuries, these two verses have been contemplated by Christians and criticized by skeptics. The alleged problem with this passage, as one modern-day critic noted, is that “this is not a quote from Jeremiah, but a misquote of Zechariah” (Wells, 2001). Skeptics purport that Matthew misused Zechariah 11:12-13, and then mistakenly attributed the quotation to Jeremiah. Sadly, even some Christians have advocated this idea (see Cukrowski, et al., 2002, p. 40). What can be said of the matter?
“What can be said of the matter” is that Matthew was quoting Jeremiah, but in the latter’s post-exilic guise as Zechariah.
And it would also serve to fill out the duration of the ministry of the prophet Haggai, which, according to estimates based upon the Book of Haggai alone, “was short, lasting only four months” (http://www.bible-studys.org/Bible%20Books/Haggai/Book%20of%20Haggai.html)
However, the prophet was old at this stage, anyway, by my estimations, so his post-exilic ministry must of necessity have been rather brief.
Now, just as we found with the prophet Habakkuk, with Haggai, “… it is possible that [Zechariah] was a priest2” (https://bible.org/article/introduction-book-zechariah).
Jeremiah we know to have been both priest and prophet.
Ezra 5:1 would now read as connected with a waw (וּ): “Now Haggai the prophet even Zechariah the prophet …”.
And so my explanation would enable for the integration of Haggai 1:1: “In the second year of King Darius, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai …”, with Zechariah 1:1: “In the eighth month of the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to the prophet Zechariah …”. Etc.
The same prophet, operating in the very same regnal year!
It might also explain why Haggai (= Habakkuk) is accorded no genealogy, since Zechariah (1:1) will go on to supply that lack, “… Zechariah, son of Berekiah, the son of Iddo …”.

Problematical

To identify Jeremiah with Zechariah would mean having to cope with an additional Hebrew name for the prophet. I have already loaded down Jeremiah with the additional names of Habakkuk and Haggai, but Habakkuk is easily explained as a foreign (Akkadian) name given to Jeremiah presumably by the Chaldeans. Haggai I take to be a hypocoristicon of Habakkuk. It was not uncommon, however, for Israelites to acquire a new name at a turning point in their lives – the well-known example of Jacob to Israel, for instance.
And I have previously identified:

Prophet Nahum as Tobias-Job Comforted

https://www.academia.edu/8729042/Prophet_Nahum_as_Tobias-Job_Comforted

Another problem with my reconstruction is that, whilst Jeremiah-as-Habakkuk in the time of king Cyrus is reasonable (I have estimated Jeremiah by now to be in his mid-eighties), to stretch the prophet further to embrace Haggai/Zechariah, presumably in a later Persian phase again, would make him extremely old.
This matter, involving as it does, a fairly substantial renovation of Medo-Persian history, will need to be left to another time.
But what I am very excited about is that Zechariah 1:12, situated as it is still “in the second year of Darius” (v. 7), speaks of the culmination then of Jeremiah’s 70 years: “Then the angel of the LORD said, ‘LORD Almighty, how long will you withhold mercy from Jerusalem and from the towns of Judah, which you have been angry with these seventy years?’”
That is perfectly in accord with my revised chronology of Chaldean-Medo/Persian history.
It goes like this:

By “the first year of Nebuchadnezzar”, 23 (of the 70) years had already elapsed (Jeremiah 25:1-3):

The word came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, which was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. So Jeremiah the prophet said to all the people of Judah and to all those living in Jerusalem: For twenty-three years—from the thirteenth year of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah until this very day—the word of the LORD has come to me and I have spoken to you again and again, but you have not listened.

Cf. v. 11, “seventy years”.

Nebuchednezzar reigned for 43 years. 23 + 43 = 66 years.
Evil-merodach, as Belshazzar (my revision), reigned for about 3 years. 69 years.
Darius the Mede = Cyrus finally allows the Temple to be rebuilt in his Year 1.
69 + 1 = 70.
So, in Year 2 the author of Zechariah can appropriately refer to “these seventy years”.

Prophet Jeremiah and “Savonarola”

Girolamo Savonarola

 

Part One: And Jewish Abravanel

  

by

 Damien F. Mackey

  

Savonarola bears some uncanny likenesses to the Jewish Abravanel,

both of these also sharing similarities with the ancient Jewish prophet Jeremiah.

 

 

Introduction

 

Such can be the similarities in these cases that it would almost seem as if the biblical prophet Jeremiah (c. 600 BC) has been ghostly projected to the 1400’s AD in the form of the generic Jeremiah-like Jew, “Don Isaac ben Judah Abravanel”, who in turn can remind one of the Italian, Savonarola (1452-1498 AD).

The prophet Jeremiah appears not to have received a full martyrdom (despite the tradition that he was murdered – stoned to death, or poisoned), though he did suffer beating, imprisonment and near death in a cistern. The sorely-tried Jeremiah did experience many ‘martyrdoms’, however, and The Jerome Biblical Commentary (19:98) actually designates the substantial block of Jeremiah 36:1-45:5, as the “Martyrdom of Jeremiah”.

Savonarola was, for his part “a martyr of preaching”.

The name Girolamo (Savonarola) is just the Italianised version of Jerome, which is like Jeremiah. He, in fact, is often called Jerome Savonarola.

Now, Savonarola is thought to have had a Jewish contemporary, Abravanel, whose name has some similarity to the Italian name of Savonarola. The full name of this very Jeremiah-like Jew was “Don Isaac ben Judah Abravanel”.

 

A Jeremiah Type

The fiery Renaissance preacher, a Dominican friar, Fra Girolamo, pronouncing doom upon Florence, is a Jeremiah type, ‘coming in the spirit of Jeremiah’.

Commentators have readily noticed this. One has only to read, for instance, Savonarola’s purely Jeremian words (as taken from Jonathan Kirsch’s A History of the End of the World, Harper, 2006, p. 98):

 

I have sometimes thought, as I came down from the pulpit, that it would be better if I talked no more and preached no more about these things – better to give up and leave it all to God …. But whenever I went up into the pulpit again, I was unable to contain myself. To speak the Lord’s words has been for me a burning fire within my bones and my heart. It was unbearable. I could not speak. I was on fire. I was alight with the spirit of the Lord.

 

The prophet Jeremiah had sais almost identically (Jeremiah 20:9): “If I say, ‘I will not mention him, 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’.”

Just as striking are T. Cheyne’s comparisons between Jeremiah and Savonarola, in whom, he writes, “several of the old Hebrew prophets seemed united” (Jeremiah: His Life and Times, Google Books, pp. 203-205, emphasis added):

 

PER CRUCEM AD LUCEM

 

… I would rather compare Jeremiah with one who was mighty both in words and in deeds (Acts vii. 22), and whom a sympathetic poetess has painted perhaps more truly than her sister-artist in prose.’

Need I mention his name?

“This was he, Savonarola, who, while Peter sank With his whole boat-load, cried courageously, ‘Wake, Christ; wake, Christ!’ Who also by a princely deathbed cried, ‘Loose Florence, or God will not loose thy soul!’ Then fell back the Magnificent and died Beneath the star-look shooting from the cowl, Which turned to wormwood-bitterness the wide Deep sea of his ambitions”.

I admit that Jeremiah had not the hopefulness described in the opening lines; Jerusalem was a less promising field of work than, with all its faults, Florence was in the age of Lorenzo. But do not the closing lines give almost a reflexion of Jeremiah’s attitude towards Jehoiakim [king of Jerusalem]? Savonarola had, I suppose, a richer nature than Jeremiah. In him several of the old Hebrew prophets seemed united. He had the scathing indignation of Amos, and the versatility of Isaiah, as well as the tenderness of Jeremiah. He differs most from the latter in two respects in his emphatic reassertion of the principle of theocratic legislation, and in his ultra-supernaturalistic theory of prophecy, which disturbed the simplicity of his faith in his own inspiration. Again and again, however, in his latter days, his preaching reminds us of Jeremiah’s. “Your sins,” he cries to the Florentines, “make me a prophet. . . . And if ye will not hear my words, I say unto you that I will be the prophet Jeremiah, who foretold the destruction of Jerusalem, and bewailed it when destroyed.” Like Jeremiah, he had many a sore inward struggle; “an inward fire,” he says, “consumeth my bones (comp. Jer. xx. 9), and compelleth me to speak.” Like Jeremiah, he was no respecter of persons; he fought bravely, and outwardly at least was defeated. Like Jeremiah, he foresaw the end of the struggle. “If you ask me in general” so he said, shortly before he was burned at the stake, in the convent-church of St. Mark’s “as to the issue of this struggle, I reply, Victory. If you ask me in a particular sense, I reply, Death. For the master who wields the hammer, when he has used it, throws it away. So He did with Jeremiah, whom He caused to be stoned at the end of his ministry. But Rome will not put out this fire, and if this be put out, God will light another, and indeed it is already lighted everywhere, only they perceive it not.”

It was winter both in Jeremiah’s time and in Savonarola’s. Which was the more favoured of these two heralds of spring? I think, Jeremiah, because his prophecy of spring was fulfilled, after a brief interval, to his own people. ….

[End of quote]

 

And indeed there does seem to be a distinct Jewish-Israelitish connection with Savonarola (who some even suspect was Jewish). It is with his Jewish contemporary, Abravanel, who can be somewhat like a ghostly projection of the real Jeremiah. Thus Benzion Netanyahu asks (in Don Isaac Abravanel: Statesman and Philosopher?, Cornell University Press, 5th edition, 1998, as quoted by Mor Altshuler at Haaretz.com Wed, January 19, 2011 Shvat 14, 5771. Emphasis added):

 

How did [Abravanel] this Jewish version of Savonarola, the fundamentalist monk who prophesied the fall of corrupt Rome-Babylonia, come up with the format for a democratic, constitutional Jewish state hundreds of years before one was established? Netanyahu believes he took his cue from the Venetian republic, which had democratic components not often seen in those days. Perhaps throwing off the yoke of this world made it easier for him to offer Europe in general, and the Jews in particular, an improved model of government that would only come into being centuries later. ….

 

[End of quote]

 

Netanyahu has even more to say about Savonarola as a veritable mirror-image of Abravanel. According to Todd Endelman (Comparing Jewish Societies, p. 85, n. 36, emphasis added:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_Abrabanel&#8221): “Netanyahu notes the parallels between the prophecies of Savonarola and Abravanel. Often the only substantial difference is that one [Savonarola] is referring to the Florentines and Florence, while the other [Abravanel] is referring to the Jews and Jerusalem”.

Abravanel, then, is the prophet to the Jews, whilst Savonarola is a prophet to the Florentines. Hence Abravanel is the more accurate version of Jeremiah than is Savonarola because he, like Jeremiah, was an Israelite preaching to the Jews, and he was not physically martyred; whereas with Savonarola, a Catholic, he preached largely to the Catholics of Florence, with his life terminating in a real martyrdom.

But it is remarkable how closely the names accord: ‘Savonarola’ and ‘Abravanel’ (whose variants are Abrabanel, Abarbanel, Barbonel). He was a “Portuguese Jewish statesman, philosopher, Bible commentator, and financier of Lisbon and Venice” – belonging to a famous family of the time that claimed to trace its roots back to King David of the tribe of Judah.

The name ‘Isaac ben Judah Abravanel’ reads like (to me) a kind of generic Hebrew name, with the latter part, Abravanel, comprising Ab (father) Rabban (priest) and El (God). It may even be some sort of a title, since he is “commonly referred to as The Abarbanel”.

By de-Italianising the name, ‘Savonarola’, converting the ‘v’ to a ‘b’ and the ‘arola’ ending to a more Hebrew ‘arel’, we get Sabonarel, somewhat like Barbonel (Abravanel).

Due to lack of available data on the Jews of this time, a researcher such as Benzion Netanyahu has to attempt to tie together various disparate threads. Altshuler (op. cit.) tells of the difficulties here, where “Netanyahu takes advantage of the fact that he is a biographer, and hence endowed with hindsight”:

 

…. Jewish historical research is short on biographies despite their importance for understanding the spirit of the times, possibly because shifting attention from a person’s work to his private life was perceived as presumptuous in Jewish tradition. Source material from which one can assemble a solid picture of the lives of great Jews is rare. Benzion Netanyahu grappled with this paucity of Jewish sources by plumbing the archives of the European monarchies under which Abravanel lived, from documents on the Inquisition to the correspondence of Christian scholars. The outcome is a comprehensive, two-part biography divided into sections on Abravanel’s life with the expulsion of the Jews from Spain and the annihilation of Jewish life in the Iberian Peninsula, and the evolution of Abravanel’s thinking. Combining these elements in one book allows Netanyahu to examine the relationship between the events of the time and Abravanel’s spiritual outlook. The conclusion he comes to is that Abravanel, in the face of this cruel and senseless expulsion, began to despair whether the world would ever operate in a logical and just manner. This despair led him to give up his rationalist approach to history and to base his political theories on messianic theocracy, launching the age of Jewish messianism and heralding European utopianism. Useless fire and brimstone. In the same way that Don Isaac Abravanel was an admirer of Maimonides, but had no qualms about exposing flaws in his thinking, Netanyahu lauds Abravanel’s greatness but is not afraid to point out his weaknesses. As a leader of Spanish Jewry, he failed in his primary mission: alerting the Jews to the fact that expulsion was imminent and that a safe haven should be sought elsewhere, perhaps in the Ottoman Empire, which Abravanel, as a diplomat, knew was more tolerant. Abravanel’s nonchalance proved tragic. ….

[End of quote]

 

The key phrase in the above is (I think) “the evolution of Abravanel’s thinking”.

Of Jeremiah it could largely be said, as Netanyahu writes of Abravanel, that he, “in the face of this cruel and senseless [he did warn of it, though] expulsion, began to despair whether the world would ever operate in a logical and just manner. This despair led him to give up his rationalist approach to history and to base his political theories on messianic theocracy, launching the age of Jewish messianism and heralding European [read Jewish] utopianism”. This could be considered an ‘evolution’ of Jeremiah’s thinking.

Abravanel also suffered a tri-part loss like the prophet Job (op. cit.):

 

…. Don Isaac Abravanel was born in 1437 to a wealthy and influential Jewish family in Spain that traced its ancestry back to King David. ….

…. [Abravanel] lost everything he had three times in a row − once when he fled to Portugal after his father converted to Christianity and the family went bankrupt; a second time in 1482, when he was accused of participating in a conspiracy of Portuguese nobles seeking to overthrow Juan II and was forced to take refuge in Spain; and a third time, in 1492, when the Jews were expelled from Spain.

 

The prophet Job, too, like Abravanel, had famously suffered three catastrophic losses ‘in a row’ (Job 1:13-19).

 

…. Thanks to his diplomatic and financial skills, [Abravanel] managed to recover each time. Latin, Portuguese, Castilian and Hebrew − he spoke them all fluently. He was a Jewish scholar, an expert in philosophy, including the works of Aristotle and the Arab philosophers Ibn Rushd and Ibn Sina − and knowledgeable in the sciences of his time − magic, medicine and astrology. His biblical exegesis put him on par with Rashi and the Ramban. His ability to spot contradictions in the writings of Maimonides led Rabbi Samuel David Luzzatto (Shadal) to describe him as the conqueror of the Jewish Aristotelians. As the author of a messianist trilogy, the historian Zeev Aescoly called him “the greatest codifier of messianism in his day”. If there was any Jew toward the end of the medieval period and the beginning of the modern period who deserved a royal title, it was Don Isaac Abravanel. ….

 

 

But what we also find is that Abravanel’s writings also greatly influenced Christians [certainly the case with the biblical prophet Jeremiah]. Wikipedia again:

 

…. Christian scholars appreciated the convenience of Abravanel’s commentaries, and often used them when preparing their own exegetical writing. This may have had something to do with Abravanel’s openness towards the Christian religion, since he worked closely with Messianic ideas found within Judaism. Because of this, Abravanel’s works were translated and distributed within the world of Christian scholarship.

 

Exegesis
His exegetical writings are set against a richly-conceived backdrop of the Jewish historical and sociocultural experience, and it is often implied that his exegesis was sculpted with the purpose of giving hope to the Jews of Spain that the arrival of the Messiah was imminent in their days. This idea distinguished him from many other philosophers of the age, who did not rely as heavily on Messianic concepts. Due to the overall excellence and exhaustiveness of Abrabanel’s exegetical literature, he was looked to as a beacon for later Christian scholarship, which often included the tasks of translating and condensing his works. ….

[End of quote]

Altshuler continues:

 

…. Many of the Jews of Spain fled to Portugal, falling into a trap: Juan II closed the borders and forced them to convert. Others were herded onto ships bound for the Mediterranean. Plague epidemics broke out on the overcrowded vessels, which were then refused entry to the ports of Italy. Only in Genoa were the passengers allowed to disembark for a short time, on a dock surrounded by water on three sides. “One might have mistaken them for ghosts”, an eyewitness wrote. “So emaciated they were, so funereal, their eyes sunken in their sockets. They could be taken for dead, if not for the fact that they were still able to move”.

 

Cf. Lamentations 2:10: “The elders of daughter Zion sit on the ground in silence; they have thrown dust on their heads and put on sackcloth; the young girls of Jerusalem have bowed their heads to the ground”.

 

2:11-12: “Infants and babies faint on the streets of the city. They cry to their mother, ‘Where is bread and wine?’ As they faint like the wounded in the streets of the city, as their life is poured out on their mothers’ bosom”.

 

4:7, 8: “Her princes …. Now their visage is blacker than soot; they are not recognized in the streets. Their skin has shriveled on their bones; it has become as dry as wood”.

 

[Altshuler]: …. By the summer of 1492, in less than three months, the Jews of Spain, whose cultural achievements had been a beacon to the Jewish world for hundreds of years, were wiped out. ….

 

Netanyahu tells of Abravanel in words that could, in the main, be re-directed back to Jeremiah, but with one needing to replace all of the modern European history references now with ancient Jewish history and the Chaldeans. Thus the invader from across the Alps, Charles VIII of France takes the place of Nebuchednezzar the Chaldean invading from the north; Lorenzo ‘the Magnificent’ reminds (as according to Cheyne above) of king Jehoiakim of Jerusalem. Allow me to supply the parallels, of Abravanel, with both Jeremiah and with Savonarola:

 

…. Jews dwell securely in all the countries of Spain, feasting on delicacies in peace and tranquility.

(Jeremiah 6:14): “They have treated the wound of my people carelessly, saying “Peace, peace”, when there is no peace”.

 

…. The alarm should have sounded with the onset of the pogroms of 1391, which was followed by waves of forced conversion and reached a peak when the Inquisition was established, 11 years before the final expulsion edict. Despite centuries of oppression, the Jews of Spain dismissed the dangers and became hooked on the illusion that the pogroms were a lightening rod that would divert the hatred toward the converts and away from the Jews. ….

(Jeremiah 7:4): “Do not trust in the deceptive words: “This is the Temple of the Lord, the Temple of the Lord, the Temple of the Lord”.

 

…. It is an intriguing tale about a man who soars high and falls low, who watches helplessly as ships [in Jeremiah’s case, probably carts] laden with Jews sail [roll] off to their deaths, and who hobnobs with princes and dukes in the palaces of Naples and Venice.

Jeremiah mixed with high and low alike.

 

…. The drama reaches a pinnacle in the final chapters: Abravanel, shattered and depressed by his people’s fate, disgusted with the vanities and temptations of this world, consolidates a pessimistic view of the world as Sodom and Gomorrah, fated to be destroyed in an apocalyptic war.

Cf. Savonarola: “After Charles VIII of France [cf. Nebuchednezzar II the Chaldean] invaded Florence [Jerusalem] in 1494, the ruling Medici were overthrown and Savonarola [like Jeremiah] emerged as the new leader of the city, combining in himself the role of secular leader and priest. He set up a republic in Florence. Characterizing it as a “Christian and religious Republic,” one of its first acts was to make sodomy, previously punishable by fine, into a capital offence. Homosexuality had previously been tolerated in the city, and many homosexuals from the elite now chose to leave Florence. ….

(Jeremiah 23:14): “… the prophets of Jerusalem … all of them have become like Sodom to me, and its inhabitants like Gomorrah”.

(Lamentations 4:6): “For the chastisement of my people has been greater than Sodom”.

 

…. His belief in the end of history is supported by intricate eschatological calculations proving that sometime between 1501 and 1513, salvation will arrive: An end-of-days war between Christians and Muslims will destroy evil Rome; from beyond the Sambatyon [akin to the Euphrates] River a Jewish army of the Ten Tribes will arise and take revenge on the enemies of Israel; the dead will return to life, and the Messiah, now revealed, will lead the last revolution − the revolution of the Kingdom of Heaven. ….

So did Savonarola foresee a New Jerusalem?: The reward for the self-sacrifice of the Florentines, he promised, would be the elevation of the city of Florence to the stature of the New Jerusalem, a model of Christian purity and the capital of the millennial kingdom.

And Jeremiah?: (Jeremiah 31:31): “The days are surely coming says the Lord, when I will make a New Covenant with the House of Israel and the house of Judah”. (38, 40): “The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when the city [of Jerusalem] shall be rebuilt … sacred to the Lord. It shall never again be uprooted or overthrown”

 

…. This era of geographical exploration and the sense of space conjured up by the New World, which contrasted starkly with the gloomy prospects of the Jews, prompted Abravanel to fantasize about a mythical solution for his persecuted people. In this Jewish theocracy that he predicted would arise at any moment, he envisioned a humane and democratic government in which everyone would have the right to vote; in which the judges would be chosen by the people rather than the king; in which officials would serve the public, not their superiors.

(Jeremiah 33:14-15): “The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfil the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land”.

 

One has to ask why God would so favour the city of Florence of all places, so as to make of it a ‘New Jerusalem’. Jerusalem renewed, yes. Or Rome, the eternal city. These two holy cities. But Florence?

 

Like Jeremiah, Savonarola was a rather reluctant prophet.

He burned to engage in the work of saving souls, yet shrank for some years from entering on the priestly office. This might be ascribed to his sense of its responsibility and of the high qualifications which it demanded. No preparatory studies, no Church ceremonial, neither Pope nor prelate, he boldly averred, could make a man a priest; personal holiness, in his judgment ….

(Jeremiah 1:6): “Then I said, ‘Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a [Hebrew na’ar, usually translated as] ‘boy’.”.

 

As a result, Savonarola is always cast as being lambasted for being “ungainly, as well as being a poor orator”. But it was Jeremiah’s actual words that were ridiculed, with his listeners mocking his mantra: ‘Terror on every side’.

 

Jeremiah also, like Savonarola, had a disdain for both priests and prophets. And so did Abravanel (though supposedly of the Catholic clergy). Thus Netanayahu (Don Isaac Abravanel … p. 323):

 

An echo of Savonarola’s campaign against official Rome may be heard in the following statement of Abravanel: “All the priests of Rome and her Bishops pursue avarice and bribery and are not concerned with their religion, for the sign of heresy is upon their forehead”. (Salvations, p. 3, 4a).

Now this is again an entirely Jeremian image in relation to Unfaithful Israel (Jeremiah 3:3). “You have the forehead of a whore, you refuse to be ashamed” (the image taken up again later by St. John in Revelation 17:5).

Indeed, Savonarola called the Vatican “…. a house of prostitution where harlots sit upon the throne of Solomon and signal to passersby: whoever can pay enters and does what he wishes”.

 

But Jeremiah was, like Savonarola, virtually the only good man left, so he had to be chosen. “Search …. If you can find one person who acts justly and seeks truth …” (Jeremiah 5:1).

Savonarola is supposed to have claimed: “It is not the cowl that makes the monk – being not only the highest qualification for that office, but one indispensable and essential”.

This qualification he is thought to have possessed in a pre-eminent degree. In no Church has there been many men so holy. Fra Sebastiano da Brescia, a very devout Dominican, who was vicar of the congregation of Lombardy, and for a long time his confessor, declared his belief that Savonarola had never committed – what he calls – a mortal sin, and bears the highest possible testimony to the purity of his life. …. Perhaps his reluctance arose also from the degraded position into which those who filled it had brought the sacred office. So openly abandoned to vice were most of them at that time, that he was in the habit of saying, “If you wish your son to be a wicked man, make him a priest !” ….

 

Savonarola, like Jeremiah, would suffer greatly for this: “Little did this gentle spirit, lover of peace as of purity, dream, as he entered the gates of the monastery, of a day when he would exclaim with Jeremiah, “Woe is me, my mother, that thou hast borne me a man of strife, a man of contention to the whole earth!” [a reference to Jeremiah 15:10]. But so it turned out”.

One could do worse than to view, in a Jeremian context, the apocalyptical warnings of Abravanel and Savonarola and their denunciations of the rulers and the clergy.

 

Early years

Savonarola’s stance against morally corrupt clergy was initially manifested in his poem on the destruction of the world entitled De Ruina Mundi (On the Downfall of the World), written at the age of 20. It was at this stage that he also began to develop his expression of moral conscience, and in 1475 his poem De Ruina Ecclesiae (On the Downfall of the Church) displayed his contempt for the Roman Curia by terming it ‘a false, proud archaic wench’.

Cf. Jeremiah’s references to Jerusalem and Israel as ‘playing the harlot’ (2:20; 3:1, 6, 8).

 

Friar
Finally in 1482 the Order dispatched him to Florence, the ‘city of his destiny’. He made no impression on Florence in the 1480s [supposedly because he was not a good orator], and his departure in 1487 went unnoticed. He returned to Bologna where he became ‘master of studies’.

Savonarola returned to Florence in 1490 at the behest of Count Pico della Mirandola. There he began to preach passionately about the Last Days ….

(Jeremiah 23:20): “The anger of the Lord will not turn back until he has executed and accomplished the intents of his mind. In the latter days you will understand it clearly”.

 

Part Two: Candidate for Sainthood?

  

Savonarola a most controversial holy man.

 

 

Jesuits and Dominicans square off anew over Savonarola

BY JOHN L. ALLEN JR.

NCR Staff

 

http://natcath.org/NCR_Online/archives2/1999a/012299/012299g.htm

More than 500 years after being burned at the stake as a heretic, Dominican Friar Girolamo Savonarola — preacher of fiery apocalyptic sermons, de facto ruler of Florence and today a candidate for sainthood — can still stir deep passions.

A public tiff in Italy between members of the Dominicans and the Jesuits over the campaign to canonize Savonarola is the latest proof of his enduring power to divide.

Despite having called the church of his day a “harlot” and a “monster of abomination” — and despite charges of having administered a fundamentalist theocracy in Florence, Italy, analogous to Afghanistan under the Taliban — Savonarola seems a serious candidate for a halo.

Last year [1998] Cardinal Silvano Piovanelli of Florence convened a historical commission in conjunction with the 500th anniversary of Savonarola’s death. Italian media accounts suggest the commission is likely to issue a positive report, which could clear the way for an investigation by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

This past summer L’Osservatore Romano, the official newspaper of the Vatican, paid tribute to Savonarola. The paper called him “a tireless preacher for moral reform of civil society.”

But Savonarola still has influential detractors — the most visible of whom happen to be Jesuits, the old rivals of the monk’s Dominican order.

An editorial in the 1999 New Year issue of the influential Jesuit journal La Civiltà Cattolica said that “an indiscriminate revisionist spirit” was at work in the effort to rehabilitate the controversial monk.

He was a “contradictory man who inspired opposing passions,” the magazine said. He was capable of “deceit.” It is “probably impossible to give a definitive opinion” about him, the article concluded — strongly hinting that the requisite certainty of Savonarola’s holiness could not be found.

Jesuits ‘deceived’?

In an interview with an English journalist, Jesuit Fr. Ferdinando Castelli, a writer for La Civiltà Cattolica, was more direct. “He rebelled against ecclesiastical authority,” he said of Savonarola. “We do not believe that he was a religious man worthy of sanctification,” Castelli told London’s Daily Telegraph on Jan. 7.

Meanwhile the Italian newspaper La Stampa quoted a Dominican member of the historical commission in Florence on Jan. 2 as saying that it might be the Jesuits who are “deceived.”

“Savonarola was not a heretic but was burnt for his obstinate fidelity to the gospel,” Fr. Tito Centi said. “He stood against the atrocious agents of Alexander VI, who inflicted every type of persecution on the friar in order to remove him, even unto death.”

“The Jesuits have been anti-Savonarola from the foundations of their order,” Centi said, referring to Ignatius of Loyola’s insistence that Savonarola’s works be burned. Ignatius saw Savonarola as an enemy of the papacy.

The work of the historical commission to date has shown that “the old suspicions of the Jesuits are totally unfounded,” Centi told La Stampa. “These charges repeated over the centuries can be discounted, though they are disagreeable because they come from brothers in the faith.”

Centi’s criticism was echoed by Professor Claudio Leonardi, a Florentine advocate of Savonarola, who also spoke to the Daily Telegraph. “Whoever wrote the [La Civiltà Cattolica] article … has never read the works of Savonarola and was influenced more by subjective considerations than historic reality,” he said.

Such divided opinions reflect the complexities of Savonarola’s life and legacy. From 1494-1498, Savonarola’s followers controlled Florence after they chased out the successor to Lorenzo (de Medici) the Magnificent. During those four years the city was rocked by running clashes between the pro- and anti-Savonarola factions.

Savonarola captured hearts as a preacher. His powerful apocalyptic visions warned that God would soon scour the world and that Florence, God’s chosen city, had better be ready. Contemporaries speak of the spellbinding power of these sermons; Savonarola’s followers were called piagnoni, or weepers, because he so often moved them to tears.

As evidence of his powerful charisma, Savonarola managed to convince the highly humanistic Florentines to surrender their mirrors, dice, cards, cosmetics and nude paintings and burn them all in the Piazza di Signoria in a towering bonfire of the vanities. He also demanded repression of homosexuals. It is these aspects of his reign that have led to comparisons with the Taliban or to Iran under the ayatollahs.

But Savonarola was also an early democrat, pushing for the creation of a citizen’s council that would form city policy.

He was also a friend to the poor. Under Savonarola, the city created a building society that offered loans at rates well below what was demanded by Florence’s private bankers — 5 to 7 percent, as opposed to the 32.5 percent that had been standard practice under the de Medicis. One of the charges that led to Savonarola’s downfall was that he impoverished the city by refusing to ever turn away a beggar.

He also patronized the famous painters of his day. Michelangelo would later say that when he painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, it was the sermons of Savonarola he heard in his mind.

Savanarola was a fierce critic of ecclesiastical corruption, and this is perhaps the most contested aspect of his legacy for those proposing to canonize him. He referred to Alexander VI as a “broken tool,” accusing the pope of practicing simony and of dubious personal morality. He defied the pope by aligning Florence with the French king, Charles, rather than the “Holy Alliance” of Italian city-states championed by Alexander. Toward the end, Savonarola called for a church council that would depose Alexander.

There was never serious question about Savonarola’s doctrine — his chief theological work, The Triumph of the Cross, is widely viewed as orthodox. In 1558, Pope Paul IV — who had served in the court of Alexander VI — said that Savonarola was not a heretic. The question for examiners today is not doctrinal but disciplinary: whether Savonarola defied the authority of the pope in impermissible fashion.

In English the name of Savonarola may be synonymous with religious fanaticism, but many Italians, and Florentines in particular, have a different image.

In an age of corruption, Savonarola represented honest government, making him something of a patron for the current Italian drive to break the grip of cronyism and political patronage that has long dominated their politics.

In a move laden with symbolism, prosecutor Gherardo Colombo took part in a ceremony in Florence on May 23, 1998, marking the anniversary of Savonarola’s death. Colombo is a key figure in Italy’s “clean hands” anti-graft campaign.

Popular with reformers

Savonarola also defended rule by the people against the feudal dynasties and papal politics that for centuries impeded Italian nationalism. As an ecclesial dissenter, Savonarola is popular among today’s Catholics who believe the church could stand some reform.

There are even those who argue that had the Renaissance papacy been a bit more open to Savonarola’s critique, the church might have been spared the agony of the Protestant Reformation.

Whatever the case, Savonarola’s most ardent supporters seem unlikely to be discouraged by anything historical research might uncover. He was a “man of faith who loved Jesus Christ,” according to Dominican Fr. Armando Verde in the International Herald Tribune. Savonarola may have made compromises in the rough-and-tumble of Florentine politics, Verde said, “but on the ethical and spiritual level, absolutely never.”

National Catholic Reporter, January 22, 1999

 

Such fiery preaching was not uncommon at the time, but a series of circumstances quickly brought Savonarola great success. The first disaster to give credibility to Savonarola’s apocalyptic message was the Medici family’s weakening grip on power owing to the French-Italian wars.

In Jeremiah’s age, the troubles began firstly with the Egyptians and then the Chaldeans.

The flowering of expensive Renaissance art and culture paid for by wealthy Italian families now seemed to mock the growing misery in Italy, creating a backlash of resentment among the people.

The second disaster was the appearance of syphilis (or the “French pox”). Finally, the year 1500 was approaching, which may have brought about a mood of millennialism. In minds of many, the Last Days were impending and Savonarola was the prophet of the day.[1] His parish church in San Marco was crowded to over-flowing during his celebration of Mass and at his sermons. Savonarola was a preacher, not a theologian. He preached that Christian life involved being good and practicing the virtues. He did not seek to create a religious group separate from the Catholic Church. Rather, he wanted to correct the transgressions of worldly popes and secularized members of the Church’s wayward Curia. Lorenzo de Medici, the previous ruler of Florence and patron of many Renaissance artists, was also a former patron of Savonarola. Eventually, Lorenzo and his son Piero de Medici became targets of Savonarola’s preaching.

[End of quote]

 

Now, continuing on from Part One:

 

Leader of Florence

In 1497, he and his followers carried out the Bonfire of the Vanities. They sent boys from door to door collecting items associated with moral laxity: mirrors, cosmetics, lewd pictures, pagan books, immoral sculptures (which he wanted to be replaced by statues of the saints and modest depictions of biblical scenes), gaming tables, chess pieces, lutes and other musical instruments, fine dresses, women’s hats, and the works of immoral and ancient poets, and burnt them all in a large pile in the Piazza della Signoria of Florence.[2] Many fine Florentine Renaissance artworks were lost in Savonarola’s notorious bonfires — including paintings by Sandro Botticelli, which he is alleged to have thrown into the fires himself.[3]

 

Cf. e.g. Jeremiah 6:27-30 (testing with fire):

‘I have made you a tester of metals among my people,

that you may know and test their ways.

They are all stubbornly rebellious,

fgoing about with slanders;

they are bronze and iron;

all of them act corruptly.

The bellows blow fiercely;

the lead is consumed by the fire;

in vain the refining goes on,

for the wicked are not removed.

Rejected silver they are called,

for the Lord has rejected them’.

 

Florence soon became tired of Savonarola because of the city’s continual political and economic miseries partially derived from Savonarola’s opposition to trading and making money. When a Franciscan preacher challenged him to a trial by fire in the city centre and he declined, his following began to dissipate.

During his Ascension Day sermon on May 4, 1497, bands of youths rioted, and the riot became a revolt: dancing and singing taverns reopened, and men again dared to gamble publicly.

 

Cf. e.g. Jeremiah 16:8-13:

 

‘And do not enter a house where there is feasting and sit down to eat and drink. For this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Before your eyes and in your days I will bring an end to the sounds of joy and gladness and to the voices of bride and bridegroom in this place. When you tell these people all this and they ask you, ‘Why has the Lord decreed such a great disaster against us? What wrong have we done? What sin have we committed against the Lord our God?’ then say to them, ‘It is because your ancestors forsook me,’ declares the Lord, ‘and followed other gods and served and worshiped them. They forsook me and did not keep my law. But you have behaved more wickedly than your ancestors. See how all of you are following the stubbornness of your evil hearts instead of obeying me. So I will throw you out of this land into a land neither you nor your ancestors have known, and there you will serve other gods day and night, for I will show you no favor.’

 

Excommunication and execution

 

On May 13, 1497, the rigorous Father Savonarola was excommunicated by Pope Alexander VI, and in 1498, Alexander demanded his arrest and execution.

 

Cf. e.g. Jeremiah 20:1-3:

 

Now Pashhur the priest, the son of Immer, who was chief officer in the house of the Lord, heard Jeremiah prophesying these things. Then Pashhur beat Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the stocks that were in the upper Benjamin Gate of the house of the Lord. The next day, when Pashhur released Jeremiah from the stocks, Jeremiah said to him, ‘The Lord does not call your name Pashhur, but Terror on Every Side’.

 

On April 8, a crowd attacked the Convent of San Marco. A bloody struggle ensued, during which several of Savonarola’s guards and religious supporters were killed. Savonarola surrendered along with Fra Domenico da Pescia and Fra Silvestro, his two closest associates. Savonarola was faced with charges such as heresy, uttering prophecies, sedition, and other crimes, called religious errors by the Borgia pope. During the next few weeks all three were tortured on the rack, the torturers sparing only Savonarola’s right arm in order that he might be able to sign his confession. All three signed confessions, Savonarola doing so sometime prior to May 8. On that day he completed a written meditation on the Miserere mei, Psalm 50, entitled Infelix ego, in which he pleaded with God for mercy for his physical weakness in confessing to crimes he believed he did not commit. On the day of his execution, May 23, 1498, he was still working on another meditation, this one on Psalm 31, entitled Tristitia obsedit me.[4] On the day of his execution he was taken out to the Piazza della Signoria along with Fra Silvestro and Fra Domenico da Pescia. The three were ritually stripped of their clerical vestments, degraded as “heretics and schismatics”, and given over to the secular authorities to be burned. The three were hanged in chains from a single cross and an enormous fire was lit beneath them. They were thereby executed in the same place where the “Bonfire of the Vanities” had been lit, and in the same manner that Savonarola had condemned other criminals himself during his own reign in Florence. Jacopo Nardi, who recorded the incident in his Istorie della città di Firenze, wrote that his executioner lit the flame exclaiming, “The one who wanted to burn me is now himself put to the flames.” Luca Landucci, who was present, wrote in his diary that the burning took several hours, and that the remains were several times broken apart and mixed with brushwood so that not the slightest piece could be later recovered, as the ecclesiastical authorities did not want Savonarola’s followers to have any relics for a future generation of the rigorist preacher they considered a saint. The ashes of the three were afterwards thrown in the Arno beside the Ponte Vecchio.[5]

Niccolò Machiavelli, author of The Prince, also witnessed and wrote about the execution. Subsequently, Florence was governed along more traditional republican lines, until the return of the Medici in 1512. ….

 

According to J. Kirsch (A History of the End of the World, Harper, 2006, pp. 166-169):

 

…. So it was that a sermonizer might seek to set his audience afire with terrors [cf. Jeremiah’s mantra: ‘Terror on Every Side’] and yearnings and end up in the flames of his own making. Such was the fate of a man who has been called “a martyr of prophecy,” Girolamo Savonarola (1452-1498), perhaps the single most famous (or notorious) [167] of the apocalyptic radicals. …. Florence was destined to be the New Jerusalem, or so Savonarola believed and preached, and he saw it as his divine mission to make it so. At a moment in history when Europe was afflicted by “presages, phantoms and astrological conjunctions of dreadful import,” as one contemporary chronicler put it, the Florentines were a ready and willing audience.”

 

Kirsch now proceeds to liken Savonarola to the author of the Book of Revelation, a book whose obscure “symbols” another author, Larry Richards (The Book of Revelation: https://books.google.com.au/books?id=-eKuoIruSJQC&pg=PR88&lpg=PR88&dq=p) will endeavour to interpret from the Book of Jeremiah:

 

Like the author of Revelation, Savonarola was a self-appointed soldier in a culture war.

The Dominican friar detested what he called “the perversities and the extreme evil of these blind peoples amongst whom virtue is reduced to zero and vice triumphs on every hand”… – that is, the worldly ways of life and art that are seen today as the glory of the Renaissance. And, just as John denounced the pleasures and treasures of Roman [sic] paganism (“Cargo of gold, silver, jewels and pearls, fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet …”) … Savonarola condemned the opulent lives of the Roman Catholic clergy. “You have been to Rome,” he declared. “Well, then, you must know something of the lives of these priests. They have courtesans, squires, horses, dogs. [Cf. e.g. Jeremiah 3:2: “You have defiled the land with your prostitution and wickedness”]. Their houses are filled with carpets, silks, perfumes, servants. Their pride fills the world. Their avarice matches their pride. All they do, they do for money.” …. [Cf. e.g. Jeremiah 48:29: “… exceeding proud … loftiness … and … arrogancy … and … pride, and … haughtiness of … heart”].

Savonarola, again like the author of Revelation, was a gifted and powerful preacher, and his sermons “ignited a fireball of religious panic that heated even the city’s most urbane minds,” according to cultural historian Robin Barnes. …. His public lectures on the book of Revelation were so popular, in fact, that he was forced to move to ever-larger quarters in order to accommodate the crowds. They took to heart his warning that the end of the world was near: “torrents of blood,” “a terrible famine,” and “a fierce pestilence” awaited the sinners. …. And they surely thrilled at the sight of a seer in action: “My reasons for announcing these scourges and calamities are founded on the Word of God,” ranted Savonarola in one of his white-hot sermons. “1 have seen a sign in the heavens. Not a cross this time, but a sword. It’s the Lord’s terrible swift sword which will strike the earth!” [Cf. e.g. Jeremiah 14:12: ‘I am going to make an end of them by the sword, famine and pestilence’].  …. [Jeremiah has many references to the sword of slaughter (2:30; 4:10; 5:12; 9:16; 12:12, etc, etc)].

Above all, Savonarola commanded his congregation to forgo the pleasures of the flesh in anticipation of the Day of Judgment. “Sodomy is Florence’s besetting sin,” declared Savonarola, who complained that “a young boy cannot walk in the streets without of falling into evil hands.”‘ …. But he was no less punishing when it came to the sexual excesses of women, real [168] or imagined. “Big flabby hunks of fat you are with your dyed hair, your high-rouged cheeks and eyelids smeared with charcoal,” he railed. “Your perfumes poison the air of our streets and parks. Not content with being the concubines of laymen and debauching young boys, you are running after priests and monks in order to catch them in your nets and involve them in your filthy intrigues.” [Cf. e.g. Jeremiah 4:30: “What are you doing, you devastated one? Why dress yourself in scarlet and put on jewels of gold? Why highlight your eyes with makeup? You adorn yourself in vain. Your lovers despise you; they want to kill you”].

…. And he laid the same charge against the pope and the clergy: “Come here, you blasphemy of a church!” he sermonized, making good use of the catchphrases of Revelation. “Your lust has made of you a brazenfaced whore. [Cf. e.g. Jeremiah 3:3: “… you have the brazen look of a prostitute; you refuse to blush with shame]. Worse than beasts are you, who have made yourself into an unspeakable monster!” …. ‘ ….

“Tell him,” said he to a deputation who, at the instigation of Lorenzo – determined to silence Savonarola by fair means or foul – came urging him to leave Florence, “Tell him that he is the first man in the city, and I am but a poor friar; nevertheless, it is he who has to go from hence, and I who have to stay; tell him that he should repent of his sins, for God has ordained the punishment of him and his.” So it happened, I may remark, not long afterwards when the house of the Medici fell, and the sceptre departed from their hands.

Cf. Jeremiah 21:1-8: “This is the Word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, when King Zedekiah sent to him Pashhur son of Malchiah and the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah, saying, ‘Please inquire of the Lord on our behalf, for King Nebuchedrezzar of Babylon is making war against us …”.

Then Jeremiah said to them: ‘Thus you shall say to Zedekiah: Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel; I am going to turn back the weapons of war that are in your hands and with which you are fighting against the king of Babylon and against the Chaldeans who are besieging you outside the walls; and I will bring them together into the center of this city. I myself will fight against you with outstretched hand and mighty arm, in anger, in fury, and in great wrath. And I will strike down the inhabitants of this city, both human beings and animals; they shall die of a great pestilence. Afterward, says the Lord, I will give King Zedekiah of Judah, and his servants, and the people in this city – those who survive the pestilence, sword, and famine – into the hands of King Nebuchedrezzar of Babylon, into the hands of their enemies, into the hands of those who seek their lives. He shall strike them down with the edge of the sword; he shall not pity them, or spare them, or have compassion”.

 

From: https://www.google.com.au/search?hl=en&biw=1536&bih=769&site=imghp&q=

Vol. 6, Chapter IX (Cont’d) – 76. Girolamo Savonarola

 

His message was the prophet’s cry, “Who shall abide the day of His coming and who shall stand when He appeareth?”

I could not endure any longer the wickedness of the blinded peoples of Italy. Virtue I saw despised everywhere and vices exalted and held in honor. With great warmth of heart, I made daily a short prayer to God that He might release me from this vale of tears. ‘Make known to me the way,’ I cried, ‘the way in which I should walk for I lift up my soul unto Thee,’ and God in His infinite mercy showed me the way, unworthy as I am of such distinguishing grace.

The clergy he arraigned for their greed of prebends and gold and their devotion to outer ceremonies rather than to the inner life of the soul.

 

[Cf. e.g. Jeremiah 22:17): “But your eyes and heart are only on your dishonest gain, for shedding innocent blood, and for practising oppression and violence”.

 

Portraying the insincerity of the clergy, he said: —

In these days, prelates and preachers are chained to the earth by the love of earthly things. The care of souls is no longer their concern. They are content with the receipt of revenue. The preachers preach to please princes and to be praised by them. They have done worse. They have not only destroyed the Church of God. They have built up a new Church after their own pattern. Go to Rome and see! In the mansions of the great prelates there is no concern save for poetry and the oratorical art. Go thither and see! Thou shalt find them all with the books of the humanities in their hands and telling one another that they can guide mens’ souls by means of Virgil, Horace and Cicero … The prelates of former days had fewer gold mitres and chalices and what few they possessed were broken up and given to relieve the needs of the poor. But our prelates, for the sake of obtaining chalices, will rob the poor of their sole means of support.

 

Jeremiah 22:13, 14, 17: “Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness, and his upper rooms by injustice; who makes his neighbours work for nothing, and does not give them their wages; who says, “I will build myself a spacious house with large upper rooms”, and who cuts out windows for it, panelling it with cedar, and painting it with vermillion … your eyes and heart are only on your dishonest gain, for shedding innocent blood, and for practising oppression and violence”.

 

The inscription on the heavenly sword well represents the style of Savonarola’s preaching. It was impulsive, pictorial, eruptive, startling, not judicial and instructive. And yet it made a profound impression on men of different classes. Pico della Mirandola the elder has described its marvellous effect upon himself. On one occasion, when he announced as his text Gen_6:17, “Behold I will bring the flood of waters upon the earth,” Pico said he felt a cold shudder course through him, and his hair, as it were, stand on end.

 

Cf. e.g. Jeremiah 47:2: “See, waters are rising out of the north and shall become an overflowing torrent; they shall overflow the land and all that fills it, the city and those who live in it”.

 

Savonarola’s confidence in his divine appointment to be the herald of special communications from above found expression not only from the pulpit but was set forth more calmly in two works, the Manual of Revelations, 1495, and a Dialogue concerning Truth and Prophecy, 1497. The latter tract with a number of Savonarola’s sermons were placed on the Index. In the former, the author declared that for a long time he had by divine inspiration foretold future things but, bearing in mind the Saviour’s words, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs,” he had practised reserve in such utterances. He expressed his conception of the office committed to him, when he said, “The Lord has put me here and has said to me, ‘I have placed thee as a watchman in the centre of Italy … that thou mayest hear my words and announce them,’” Eze_3:17.

 

Cf. e.g. Jeremiah 1:18: “And I for my part have made you today a fortified city, an iron pillar, and a bronze wall, against the whole land – against the kings of Judah, its princes, its priests, and the people of the land”.

 

The question arises whether Savonarola was a genuine prophet or whether he was self-deluded, mistaking for the heated imaginations of his own religious fervor, direct communications from God. Alexander VI. made Savonarola’s “silly declaration of being a prophet” one of the charges against him.

 

Cf. e.g. Jeremiah 29:27: ‘So now why have you not rebuked Jeremiah … who plays the prophet for you?”

 

Prior to any further push for canonisation, it may be worthwhile reviewing Savonarola’s legacy regarding the Church, and the papacy, and his supposed anti-culturalism, such as “paintings by Botticelli and books by Petrarch and Boccaccio were also pitched into the flames …”.

And, indeed, much else.