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[JESOT 1.1 (2012): 1–24]

VOLUME 3, ISSUE 1 _________________________________________

JOURNAL FOR THE EVANGELICAL STUDY OF THE OLD TESTAMENT _____________________________________________________________________________________

The Shape of Hope in the Book of Kings: The Resolution of Davidic Blessing and Mosaic Curse / 3 BY NATHAN LOVELL The Soteriological Development of the Arm of the Lord Motif / 29 BY MATHEW AKERS Making Sense of Melchizedek (Gen 14:18–20) / BY SILVIU TATU David, “The Ruler of the Sons of the Covenant” (‫)מושל בבני בריתו‬: The Expansion of Psalm 151 in 11QPsa / 77 BY ANDREW WITT Book Reviews


Book Review Index

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Journal for the Evangelical Study of the Old Testament

JESOT is published bi-annually online at and in print by Wipf and Stock Publishers. 199 West 8th Avenue, Suite 3, Eugene, OR 97401, USA

ISSN 2169-0685

Š 2014 by Wipf and Stock Publishers JESOT is an international, peer-reviewed journal devoted to the academic and evangelical study of the Old Testament. The journal seeks to publish current academic research in the areas of ancient Near Eastern backgrounds, Dead Sea Scrolls, Rabbinics, Linguistics, Septuagint, Research Methodology, Literary Analysis, Exegesis, Text Criticism, and Theology as they pertain only to the Old Testament. The journal seeks to provide a venue for high-level scholarship on the Old Testament from an evangelical standpoint. The journal is not affiliated with any particular academic institution, and with an international editorial board, online format, and multi-language submissions, JESOT seeks to cultivate Old Testament scholarship in the evangelical global community. JESOT is indexed in Old Testament Abstracts and Christian Periodical Index

Journal for the Evangelical Study of the Old Testament Executive Editor STEPHEN J. ANDREWS (Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, USA)

Journal correspondence and manuscript submissions should be directed to Instructions for authors can be found at

Managing Editor WILLIAM R. OSBORNE (College of the Ozarks, USA)

Books for review and review correspondence should be directed to Russell Meek at

Associate Editor RUSSELL L. MEEK (Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, USA)

All ordering and subscription inquiries should be sent to

Editorial Board T. DESMOND ALEXANDER (Union Theological College, Queens University, Ireland)

WALTER C. KAISER JR. (GordonConwell Theological Seminary, USA)

GEORGE ATHAS (Moore Theological College, Australia)

JENS BRUUN KOFOED (Copenhagen Lutheran School of Theology, Denmark)

ELLIS R. BROTZMAN (Emeritus, Tyndale Theological Seminary, The Netherlands)

KENNETH A. MATHEWS (Beeson Divinty School, Samford University, USA)

HÉLÈNE DALLAIRE (Denver Seminary, USA)

STEVEN M. ORTIZ (Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, USA)

JOHN F. EVANS (Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School of Theology, Kenya)

CRISTIAN RATA (Torch Trinity Graduate University, South Korea)

JOHN HOBBINS (University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh, USA)

MATHIEU RICHELLE (Faculté Libre de Théologie Évangélique, France)

JAMES K. HOFFMEIER (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, USA)

DAVID T. TSUMURA (Japan Bible Seminary, Japan)

JERRY HWANG (Singapore Bible College, Singapore)

BARRY G. WEBB (Emeritus, Moore Theological College, Australia

[JESOT 3.1 (2014): 3–27]

The Shape of Hope in the Book of Kings: The Resolution of Davidic Blessing and Mosaic Curse NATHAN LOVELL North-West University and George Whitefield College, South Africa

The issue of hope in the book of Kings has long been a focal point of debate. This paper approaches the question from the standpoint of the final form of the book, rather than attempting to discern the voice of the Deuteronomist(s) within the text. I argue that the message of hope is exposed by a central theological tension within the book: that Yahweh has promised both blessing to David and curse for Mosaic breach. I conclude that in the resolution of this tension the book encourages hope in its exilic readership, but precludes a return to the monarchy as it was formerly. Rather, the purpose of Kings as it now stands is to reshape exilic hope towards a different type of kingdom, and to demonstrate to the exiles the new shape that this kingdom will take through the prophetic ministry amongst the powerless to gather a remnant. Messianic and nationalistic hope in Kings is shaped by the exile, which represents a new beginning for Yahweh’s people.

KEYWORDS: 1–2 Kings, Davidic promise, Mosaic covenant, Messianic hope, Remnant, Exile, Solomon, Hezekiah, Josiah, Elijah, Elisha, Jehoiachin

In this paper I revisit the question of what hope for restoration the book of Kings offers its exilic readership.1 For over half a century this question has been central to an analysis of the message of Kings, and answers have ranged across a spectrum: from hope for complete restoration of the Davidic monarchy, to no hope whatsoever.2 The question was first posed 1. I am assuming an exilic composition of Kings, which is implied by the account of Jehoiachin’s release in 561 B.C. (2 Kgs 25:27–30). 2. I outline some of the positions here, but see Michael Avioz, “The Book of Kings in Recent Research (Part 1),” Currents 4 (2005): 18–20.


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by Martin Noth in 1957 in the context of his larger proposal for a Deuteronomistic History.3 He argued that the Deuteronomist offered no hope of restoration at all, but rather that the purpose of Kings was to explain the exile as the outworking of the breach of the Mosaic covenant in Israel’s history. Gerhard Von Rad, on the other hand, proposed that Jehoiachin’s release from Babylonian prison (2 Kgs 25:27–30) offered hope for a full restoration of the Davidic monarchy because it could be read in the light of the Davidic promise (2 Sam 7:1–17).4 Both answers have found adherents since that time, as well as a range positioned between these two poles.5 The difficulty of the question has driven some to propose that no answer is even possible, that rather the book is best accounted for by a series of Deuteronomistic editors, each with their own agenda for the material.6 3. Martin Noth, The Deuteronomistic History (2nd ed.; trans. D. J. A. Clines; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, 1981), 97–99. 4. Gerhard Von Rad, Old Testament Theology (trans. D. M. G. Stalker; New York: Harper & Row, 1962), 341–43. 5. Most recently, Janzen has argued that it is a message of hope and warning for Jehoiachin. See David Janzen, “The Sins of Josiah and Hezekiah: A Synchronic Reading of the Final Chapters of Kings,” JSOT 37 (2013): 351–52 and idem, “An Ambiguous Ending: Dynastic Punishment in Kings and the Fate of the Davidides in 2 Kings 25.27–30,” JSOT 33 (2008): 57. Provan is positive about the message of the book, finding in it hope for a Davidic messiah like Solomon, Hezekiah, or Josiah. See Iain W. Provan, 1 & 2 Kings (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, 1997), 87–93 and idem, “The Messiah in the Book of Kings,” in The Lord’s Anointed: Interpretation of Old Testament Messianic Texts (ed. Philip E. Satterthwaite, Richard S. Hess and Gordon J. Wenham; Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2012), 76–81. Hobbs, likewise, is positive about the possibility of restoration. See Thomas R. Hobbs, 2 Kings (Waco, TX: Word, 1985), 268–69. Wolff is more reserved in his assessment, believing that Noth had the better of the argument, but that he overlooked the possibility of repentance. He proposed that Kings was compiled as an encouragement to the exiles to turn to Yahweh in hope of restoration. See Hans W. Wolff, “The Kerygma of the Deuteronomic Historical Work,” in The Vitality of Old Testament Traditions (2nd ed.; Atlanta: John Knox, 1982), 93– 97. The repentance position has also been defended by Donald F. Murray, “Of All the Years the Hopes—or Fears? Jehoiachin in Babylon (2 Kings 25:27–30),” JBL 120 (2001): 263–65 and Peter R. Ackroyd, Exile and Restoration: A Study of Hebrew Thought of the Sixth Century BC (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1968), 79–81. Others see various formulations of qualified hope. McConville, for example, sees a reason for hope in the book, but not hope for a return to the former status quo. See J. Gordon McConville, “Narrative and Meaning in the Books of Kings,” Bib 70 (1989): 48. Galil argues for reading the Deuteronomistic history as continuing into Jeremiah and projects hope forward through that book. See Gershon Galil, “The Message of the Book of Kings in Relation to Deuteronomy and Jeremiah,” BibSac (2001): 413–14. 6. Frank Moore Cross championed this position with what has now become a classical double-redaction explanation (Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic: Essays in the History

LOVELL: The Shape of Hope in the Book of Kings


The reason that a definitive answer has proved so elusive is because tension arises in the narrative between two promises of Yahweh. On the one hand, Yahweh has promised blessings to Israel (later Judah) because of the Davidic covenant (2 Sam 7:1–17). But on the other, Yahweh has promised curses through Moses for covenant breach (e.g., Deut 27:9–26; 28:15–68). If history had proceeded along a different line there would be no tension. The covenant at Horeb promised blessings for obedience which would align with the blessing promised to David (e.g., Deut 28:1–14). This hope is revealed from the outset as futile because “there is no one who does not sin” (1 Kgs 8:46). As the narrative progresses it becomes inevitable that the curse of the Mosaic covenant will be enacted in both kingdoms. What then of the promise to David? The thesis of this paper is that this tension is intentionally exploited to create a message of hope for the exilic readers of Kings.7 Some definitions will be necessary to begin. The book of Kings shares

______________________________________________________ of the Religion of Israel [Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1973], 274–78, 287–89). The first redaction supported Josiah’s reforms and had a positive assessment of the Israelite monarchy, but was later modified by a second Deuteronomist explaining the exile. Although Cross’s proposal of multiple redactions of the material has been broadly accepted (Avioz, “The Book of Kings,” 14–16), his scepticism about the coherence of Kings as the book now stands has not. Much recent scholarship agrees that the final form of Kings presents a more or less coherent message, whatever its literary history. See, e.g., Jon D. Levenson, “The Last Four Verses in Kings,” JBL 103 (1984): 354–56; Terence E. Fretheim, First and Second Kings (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1999), 8–10; Walter A. Brueggemann, 1 & 2 Kings (Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys, 2000), 1–5; and Jerome T. Walsh and David W. Cotter, 1 Kings (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical, 1996), xii. All these find coherence in the message of the book, despite their disparate approaches. Janzen critiques the whole approach in Janzen, “The Sins of Josiah and Hezekiah,” 351–55. 7. This demands that the narrative be considered a cohesive whole, and this will be a feature of my approach, rather than explaining the tension as the result of a series of editions. The history of the debate has often focussed on the message of the Deuteronomist, rather than the book itself, and so the discussion has usually revolved around a small number of key texts considered “Deuteronomistic.” Such texts include Solomon’s prayer of dedication (1 Kgs 8:22–61), Jeroboam and Rehoboam (1 Kgs 12– 13), the release of Jehoiachin (2 Kings 25:27–30), and the Deuteronomistic endorsement of Josiah (2 Kgs 22–23). See, e.g., McConville, “Narrative and Meaning,” 31–34, and J. Gordon McConville, “1 Kings VIII 46–53 and the Deuteronomic Hope,” VT 42 (1992): 67–71. There are, however, a number of non-Deuteronomistic texts that are usually omitted from consideration, but that comprise large sections of the book, especially: the Elijah/Elisha narratives (1 Kgs 17–19, 2 Kgs 3–13), some of the Solomon narratives (1 Kgs 3–4), material from Ahab, Jezebel, and Jehu (2 Kgs 9–10), as well as the Isaianic material in the Hezekiah narrative (2 Kgs 18:13–20:21). See Susanne Otto, “The Composition of the Elijah-Elisha Stories and the Deuteronomistic History,” JSOT 27 (2003): 487–90. This essay outlines a reading of Kings that relates the broader narrative to its central theological tension.


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with Old Testament theology a conception of a series of covenants that govern Israel’s history, initiated by Yahweh with Abraham (Gen 12:1–3; 15:1–21; 17:1–14), then with Israel through Moses (Ex 20–35, Deut 5– 30), then expanded with David (2 Sam 7:1–17).8 However the presentation of covenant in Kings is more nuanced than this. The book uses the word “covenant” (‫ )ברית‬22 times to refer to a covenant between Yahweh and Israel, and 20 times with the Mosaic covenant in mind (1 Kgs 3:15; 6:19; 8:1, 6, 21, 23; 11:11; 19:10, 14; 2 Kgs 17:15, 35, 38; 18:12; 23:2–3, 21).9 Of the two instance of ‫ ברית‬that are not explicitly Mosaic, one is Jehoiada’s covenant in 2 Kgs 11:17, which in context is also likely to be a Deuteronomic renewal. The other is 2 Kings 13:23, which refers to Yahweh’s covenant with Abraham. This is the only mention of the Abrahamic covenant in the book, the importance of which I will explore below. In every other case, covenant-related language is reserved to highlight Israel’s failure to Yahweh’s commands given through Moses.10 Thus, covenant language in Kings becomes associated with the curse promised in the eventuality of covenant breach. By contrast, Kings never uses covenant language to refer to the Davidic covenant (cf. 2 Sam 7:1–17, 2 Sam 23:5). Rather, Kings speaks of Yahweh establishing the “word” (‫ )דבר‬that he spoke to David, and uses language that highlights the unilateral nature of that agreement. Yahweh’s word to David has or will be “fulfilled” (1 Kgs 8:15, 24; ‫)מלא‬, “established” (1 Kgs 8:20; ‫)קום‬, “kept” (1 Kgs 8:25; ‫)שׁמר‬, and “confirmed” (1 Kgs 8:26; ‫)אמן‬, “just as he spoke” (1 Kgs 2:24; 5:5; 6:12; 9:5; ‫)כאשׁר דבר‬.11 Kings uses this “word” language to emphasise

8. See Bruce K. Waltke and Charles Yu, An Old Testament Theology: An Exegetical, Canonical, and Thematic Approach (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007), 147–56. 9. Apart from explicit mention, there are numerous allusions to the Horeb covenant through mention of Moses (e.g., 1 Kgs 2:3; 8:53, 56; 2 Kgs 8:6; 14:6; 21:8; 23:25), Torah (2 Kgs 10:31; 17:13, 34, 37; 23:24), or other Deuteronomic language (e.g., 1 Kgs 3:6). The Ark of the Covenant explicitly refers to the Horeb covenant (1 Kgs 8:21); the Book of the Covenant found by Josiah (2 Kgs 22:8) is very likely to be some form of Deuteronomy. 10. Solomon’s prayer of dedication reflects on how Yahweh’s faithfulness to Moses has established Israel within the land (1 Kgs 8:56). This is the only positive use of the Mosaic covenant in the book, but it is not a future promise of blessing. 11. This is not to imply that 2 Sam 7 is something other than a covenant, since the book understands the fulfilment of the Mosaic blessings and curses in these terms also (1 Kgs 8:56; 2 Kgs 17:23). Nor does it imply that the two are unrelated. One of the features of Kings’ presentation of the Davidic covenant is to make it conditional on covenant obedience to the Mosaic covenant. I will return to this below.

LOVELL: The Shape of Hope in the Book of Kings


Yahweh’s action in history.12 The word spoken to David is mentioned or alluded to 26 times in Kings. The prophet Ahijah’s speech to Jeroboam (1 Kgs 11:31–39) introduces a motif that recurs throughout the book: that Yahweh would act so that David might “always have a lamp before me in Jerusalem” (1 Kgs 11:36; 15:4; 2 Kgs 8:19). This leitmotif occurs in response to Judah’s disobedience to the Mosaic covenant, and therefore the word to David is a promise that stands independent of the Mosaic covenant. I will reflect this distinction in this essay by referring to the Mosaic covenant, along with its inevitable curse, in contrast to the Davidic promise.13 By framing the covenants in this way, the book of Kings positions itself to explore the outcome of Israel’s history as a function of the tension that exists between promise and curse. It asks, for example, whether Israel’s disobedience to Moses threatens the fulfilment of Yahweh’s promise to David, whether the promise to David supersedes the Mosaic covenant entirely, and whether Israel should expect the fulfilment of the Davidic promise only in the case that they are able to obey Moses. Ultimately, as we shall see, Kings does not expect either covenant curse or Davidic promise to be undone, and it is precisely in this theological dilemma that hope arises in the book. When Israel, from the context of the exile, reflects on their history through the narrative of Kings, they realise that their curse has been enacted, and therefore the demands of the Mosaic covenant have been met. From exile, then, hope is found because the exile represents a new beginning, free from the curse of the Mosaic covenant. Since the promise to David has not been

12. Every prophetic utterance recorded in the book (eventually) happens “according to the word of Yahweh” (‫ )כדבר יהוה‬during the course of the narrative (1 Kgs 12:24; 13:26; 14:18, etc.). Therefore, fulfilment of Yahweh’s word has long been recognised as a theme of Kings. Von Rad tabulated the predictions and fulfilments in Kings and notes that Kings also fulfils some prophetic announcements from the Deuteronomistic history more generally (e.g., 1 Kgs 2:27 fulfils 1 Sam 2:27–36.) Gerhard Von Rad, From Genesis to Chronicles: Explorations in Old Testament Theology (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2005), 157–59. 13. Strictly speaking, the curse is a promise as well. Indeed, this is the point, because the two promises of God are in opposition, which creates the narrative tension. However, to understand the promise of curse and the promise of blessing as alternate outcomes of the one covenant misses the point of Kings because it undoes the tension that requires both. The language the book uses in association with David implies that, conceptually at least, it is possible that this word of blessing will stand even after the covenant curse has been enacted. Because “word” is awkward in English, I have chosen to use language of “promise,” in opposition to “covenant” and “curse,” as a way to better reflect the underlying theology of the book.


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fulfilled, it shapes what Israel might hope for in this new beginning. I will explore the shape of this hope both in messianic and nationalistic terms. IS THE DAVIDIC PROMISE NULLIFIED BY COVENANT DISOBEDIENCE? The 2 Sam 7 version of the Davidic promise was explicitly not conditioned on obedience to Moses (2 Sam 7:14–15), but in Kings it is always linked to the covenant and its fulfilment always requires obedience (1 Kgs 2:4; 6:12; 8:25; 9:5–7). Therefore, one possibility for resolving the tension between promise and curse is to read the narrative as an explanation of why the promise has been nullified.14 Although this interpretation has been common,15 there are several reasons why it is unsuitable. First, although the promise is stated in conditional form, its continued unconditional nature is reflected in other ways. The “burning lamp” leitmotif (1 Kgs 11:36; 15:4; 2 Kgs 8:19) reaffirms Yahweh’s purpose to preserve Judah because of his commitment to David, and Yahweh continues to deal favourably with the southern dynasty “for the sake of David” (1 Kgs 11:12–13, 32–36; 15:4; 2 Kgs 8:19; 19:34; 20:6). Also, phrases like those in 11:36, “that David might always (‫)כל־הימים‬ have a lamp before me,” are universal and unconditional (see also 11:32, 39). There is no explicit abrogation of the Davidic promise in the book of Kings, but there is explicit reaffirmation of Yahweh’s choice of David (1 Kgs 8:16; 11:34).16 Second, other positive factors in the book can be understood as indicators of the continued validity of the Davidic promise into the exile. These include the ongoing commitment to David’s city as Yahweh’s chosen habitation (1 Kgs 8:44, 48; 14:21; 23:27),17 in some cases forever (1 Kgs 8:13; 9:3; 10:9; 2 Kgs 21:7), and the continued role of Zion during exile (1 Kgs 8:46–51). 14. As per the priestly lineage of Eli (1 Sam 2:30). 15. E.g., Wolff, “Kerygma,” 86. 16. Janzen argues that the compiler of Kings both knew 2 Sam 7 and intentionally refused to abrogate it, and that this is true whether the book stands independently of the rest of the Deuteronomic history or not (“An Ambiguous Ending,” 50–51). 17. 2 Kgs 23:27 indicates that Yahweh has “cast off” (‫ )שׁלך‬Jerusalem, but I will discuss this text below.

LOVELL: The Shape of Hope in the Book of Kings


Third and perhaps most decisively, is the evidence of the contrasted fate of the two kingdoms. Throughout the book, the Davidic dynasty is maintained despite the continued sin of the Davidic kings, the best efforts of Athaliah to annihilate the Davidic line (2 Kgs 11:1–6), and even the exile (2 Kgs 25:27–30). By contrast, the northern kingdom experiences eight dynasties. In turn each “walks in the way of Jeroboam son of Nebat,”18 and so suffers the fate of Jeroboam’s dynasty: every male in the dynasty is “cut off” (1 Kgs 14:10; see also 1 Kgs 16:11 21:21; 2 Kgs 9:8). This phrase recurs for each of the major northern dynasties, indicating a pattern in the way Yahweh deals with Israel that parallels and reverses the “burning lamp” leitmotif of the southern kingdom. What accounts for the different ways that Yahweh deals with the two kingdoms?19 The mitigating factor is the Davidic promise. The only equivalent promise offered to the northern kingdom was entirely conditional on obedience and breached almost immediately (1 Kgs 11:37–38).20 Ultimately the exile of the northern kingdom is not only attributed to covenant disobedience (2 Kgs 17:7–23), but also to their separation from David. References to this separation frame the history of the North (“What portion do we have with David?” 1 Kgs 12:16; 2 Kgs 17:21), and sit alongside covenant disobedience as a reason for their exile (see 1 Kgs 12:19). In juxtaposing the two histories in this way, the book of Kings affirms the continuing validity of the Davidic promise. DOES THE DAVIDIC PROMISE ABROGATE THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE COVENANT? The Davidic promise stands in Kings whether David’s descendants are faithful to the Mosaic covenant or not. But if the promise is certain, what 18. Apart from Jeroboam I there are 20 such verdicts: 1 Kgs 15:26, 30, 34; 16:2, 13, 19, 26; 21:22, 52; 2 Kgs 3:3; 10:29, 31; 13:2, 6, 11; 14:24; 15:9, 18, 24, 28. 19. One possibility is Janzen’s suggestion that the sin of the South is of a different kind than the sin of the North. This argument depends on a distinction between the sins of northern kings, who cause Israel to sin (hiphil of ‫)חטא‬, and those of the South who do not. Janzen proposes that the northern kings suffer the punishment associated with this sin (1 Kgs 15:29; 16:12–16; 2 Kgs 9:14–10:17), but David’s line simply continues until this type of sin is committed, which happens first with Manasseh (2 Kgs 21:11). Yet, when Manasseh causes Judah to sin the punishment is not met. In the end, the release of Jehoiachin (2 Kgs 25:27–30) is a decisive break of grace in the well-established pattern, as Janzen also recognizes (ibid., 49–54). 20. Note that this promise also avoids covenant language, preferring to use the “word” language that has until now been associated with the Davidic promise.


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role does the Mosaic covenant play in the message of the book? The key question is why the compiler of Kings reframed the Davidic promise as dependent on obedience to Moses when he did not intend to undo the unconditional promise of 2 Sam 7. What is gained by adding conditions to an unconditional covenant?21 It accomplishes two things. First, it creates space for the Deuteronomistic assessment of individual kings without jeopardising the ultimate fulfilment of the promise. The continued validity of the Davidic promise does not imply that every Davidic scion will be automatically blessed,22 and not every Davidic scion must be obedient in order for God to ultimately fulfil his promise. Rather, God is free to enact the covenant curses for disobedience, knowing that one of David’s future offspring will yet receive the blessings. This is possible even from exile (2 Kgs 25:27–30), which is the ultimate curse for covenant breach (Deut 29:22– 28). Second, it shapes the overall messianic expectation of the book. McConville notes that as the story progresses, “it becomes clearer that there is a deep tension in the narrative, whose resolution will not be in terms of unqualified hope for Judah in contrast to menace for the north only.”23 Rather, both covenant and promise remain in effect: punishment for any dynasty in breach of Moses’s, including David’s, but ultimate blessing for David nevertheless. The tension gives the overall narrative a messianic overtone as it awaits its only possible resolution: a righteous covenant-keeping king to sit on the throne of David. Solomon is a fine example of the way the Mosaic covenant critiques the Davidic kings despite the Davidic promise. References to the Davidic promise are clustered around Solomon,24 and he is explicitly portrayed as the promised Davidic scion on multiple occasions: from his own lips (1 Kgs 2:24, 33, 45; 3:6; 5:5 [Heb. 5:19]; 8:20, 24–26), by his father (1 Kgs 2:4), by Hiram of Tyre (1 Kgs 5:7 [Heb. 5:21]), by Yahweh 21. McConville has explored this question in relation to the book of Deuteronomy where there is a parallel tension. See J. Gordon McConville, Grace in the End: A Study in Deuteronomic Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1993), 134–39. In the book of Deuteronomy, the question is whether the conditionality of the Mosaic covenant supersedes the certainty of the promised blessing to Abraham, and I am indebted to his line of reasoning for the argument I use here with respect to Kings. 22. McConville, “1 Kings VIII,” 77–79. 23. McConville, “Narrative and Meaning,” 38. 24. Of the 26 allusions to the Davidic promise in Kings, 22 are found in the Solomon narratives.

LOVELL: The Shape of Hope in the Book of Kings


(1 Kgs 6:12; 9:5; 11:12–13), and the narrator (1 Kgs 2:12). On the surface, the account of Solomon’s achievements seems overwhelmingly positive. His kingdom is presented as idyllic (1 Kgs 4:25): the fulfilment of patriarchal promises for a multitudinous nation (1 Kgs 3:8, Gen 15:5; 1 Kgs 4:20, Gen 22:17), the land of Canaan (1 Kgs 4:21, Gen 15:18–19), and the blessings of the Mosaic covenant (1 Kgs 8:56, Deut 12:10–13). It is understandable, then, that many interpret Solomon’s kingdom as a foreshadowing of the kingdom of God, and Solomon as a prototype of God’s ideal, wise king.25 Yet, this is an unbalanced portrait of Solomon in Kings. Even throughout the early chapters of the book, prior to his explicit apostasy in 1 Kgs 11, there is a subtext that critiques Solomon’s reign.26 The Deuteronomic laws of kingship (Deut 17:14–20) read like a checklist of anti-Solomonic rhetoric: forbidding the acquisition of horses (1 Kgs 10:26), trade with Egypt (1 Kgs 10:28), accumulation of gold (1 Kgs 10:27), and collection of wives (1 Kgs 11:1). And even though Deuteronomy enjoins Israel’s king to read, copy, and recite the law, Solomon is never portrayed as doing this. Solomon’s failure is broader than explicit disobedience.27 His use of his wisdom comes under narrative critique, even though it is a divine gift (1 Kgs 3:10–14). He is charged by David to establish the kingdom according to his wisdom (1 Kgs 2:6, 9), which results in the assassination of his political enemies (1 Kgs 3:13–46). His alliance with Hiram of Tyre is portrayed as a result of his wisdom (1 Kgs 5:12), and yet requires the forced labour of thousands of his own people (1 Kgs 5:13–18). The same treaty jeopardises Israelite territory (1 Kgs 9:10– 11)28 and results in a further breach of Deuteronomic law (Deut 17:15). 25. E.g., Provan, “The Messiah in the Book of Kings,” 76–77. His eventual demise (1 Kgs 11) has done little to detract from this image, in many eyes he has simply succumbed to the weakness of human failure at the end of his life. 26. There is a recent trend in scholarship to explore the ambiguity of Solomon’s character. E.g., Walter A. Brueggemann, Solomon: Israel’s Ironic Icon of Human Achievement (Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 2005), 153–59; J. Daniel Hays, “Has the Narrator Come to Praise Solomon or to Bury Him? Narrative Subtlety in 1 Kings 1–11,” JSOT 28 (2003): 155; Hugh S. Pyper, “Judging the Wisdom of Solomon: The Two-Way Effect of Intertextuality,” JSOT (1993): 35; and Kim I. Parker, “Solomon as Philosopher King: The Nexus of Law and Wisdom in 1 Kings 1– 11,” JSOT (1992): 76. 27. I am indebted to Davies and Hays here, who outline the different ways that the narrative subtly presents Solomon as a failure in his foreign alliances. See John A. Davies, “‘Discerning Between Good and Evil’: Solomon as a New Adam in 1 Kings,” WTJ 73 (2011): 52–53 and Hays, “Has the Narrator,” 163.


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In his wisdom (1 Kgs 10:23–24) he trades military hardware to the Hittites and the Arameans (1 Kgs 10:29), who will be Israel’s enemies in years to come. He divides his kingdom into twelve taxation districts (1 Kgs 4:7–19), leaving the province of Judah exempt, and extracts an exorbitant royal provision from each on a monthly basis (1 Kgs 4:22– 28). Although this is portrayed as another act of wisdom (1 Kgs 4:29– 34), it closely matches Samuel’s warning that the people would become “slaves” (‫ )עבדים‬to the king (1 Sam 8:10–18), and it left his people complaining about the “hard service” (‫ )העבדה הקשׁה‬that he imposed (1 Kgs 12:4), which is something that they had not suffered since Egypt (Ex 1:14).29 In a play on words, the glory (‫ )כבד‬of Solomon’s kingdom is at the same time “his heavy yoke” (‫ )עלו הכבד‬that hangs around the necks of his people (1 Kgs 12:4). In the end, Solomon’s wisdom results in an intolerable kingdom. As Leithart comments, Solomon fails “precisely at the height of his wisdom . . . precisely in his exercise of wisdom.” 30 This is a critique of the ability of wisdom to build the kind of kingdom that Yahweh can bless, and shows that wisdom does not necessarily lead to obedience. The Solomon presented in Kings was a fulfilment of Davidic hope (1 Kgs 3:6), and blessed in ability, power, and resources, but his kingdom failed because he was unable to keep the Mosaic covenant (1 Kgs 11:11). Ironically, Solomon did not request wisdom in the first place, but a “listening heart” (‫ ;לב שׁמע‬1 Kgs 3:9). If that request had been granted in the Deuteronomic sense, it would have yielded the covenant obedience required of him (Deut 5:27–29, 6:4–5). But Yahweh instead answered his request by giving him “a wise and discerning heart” (‫ ;לב חכם ובון‬1 Kgs 3:12), a gift that granted him “discernment between good and evil” ( ‫להבין‬ ‫ ;בין טוב לרע‬1 Kgs 3:9): a foreboding allusion to Gen 3:5.31 Through this divine gift of wisdom Solomon was able to construct a glorious kingdom, but was unable to yield obedience. And so the most promising of Davidic candidates is judged inadequate in the end according to the standards of the Mosaic covenant.

______________________________________________________ 28. Compare Naboth’s attitude to Israelite land in 1 Kgs 21:3. 29. Peter J. Leithart suggests that Solomon increasingly becomes more Pharaonic as the narrative progresses, until Israel finds themselves symbolically back in Egypt under his rule (1 & 2 Kings [Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos, 2006], 76). 30. Ibid., 82. 31. See Davies, “Discerning Between Good and Evil,” 41–44.

LOVELL: The Shape of Hope in the Book of Kings


WILL THE DAVIDIC PROMISE BE FULFILLED BY MEANS OF THE COVENANT? Kings, therefore, expects the fulfilment of the Davidic promise, but refuses to override the demands of the covenant in order to do so. The only resolution is that a righteous king must appear. Thus, messianic hope is sharply focused in Kings on Josiah who is presented as the righteous King par excellence (2 Kgs 23:25). This hope is established prior to Josiah’s actual appearance by 31 chapters. The prophecy of the unnamed “man of God” from the South against Jeroboam I mentions Josiah by name (1 Kgs 13:1–6). It comes precisely at the point when the North decisively breaks away from David (1 Kgs 12:16), transgressing their own dynastic covenant (1 Kgs 11:38, see also 1 Kgs 12:30). The key component of the prophecy is that the apostate religion created by Jeroboam I will be undone only by the scion of David named Josiah (1 Kgs 13:2), and therefore by implication, hope for the northern kingdom will only be found in reunification with the Davidic dynasty (see 1 Kgs 12:16).32 Josiah succeeds precisely where Solomon failed. In contrast to Solomon, Josiah is the king who does “listen” (‫ )שׁמע‬to the Law of Moses (2 Kgs 22:11, 18–19), who “reads” (‫ )קרא‬it (2 Kgs 22:10, 16; 23:2; Deut 17:19), who “keeps” (‫)שׁמר‬, and “does” (‫ )עשׂא‬it (2 Kgs 22:2, 13; 23:3, 21; Deut 17:19). Unlike Solomon, there is no subtextual critique here. Rather, the endorsement of the book toward Josiah can hardly be overstated (2 Kgs 22:2; 23:25; Deut 6:4–5). Josiah renews the covenant (2 Kgs 23:1–3), destroys idol worship in Judah (2 Kgs 23:4–14), begins to do so in the former northern kingdom (2 Kgs 23:15–20), and reinstitutes the Passover (2 Kgs 23:21–27). If one were to pause the narrative at 2 Kgs 23:25 to ask what kind of kingdom is expected from Josiah, then the answer would come unequivocally: one based not on wisdom, power, or wealth like Solomon’s kingdom, but on hearing and obeying the law of Moses. At this point, then, the hope offered by Kings seems to be contingent on repentance. Many have proposed that this might be the larger message of the book of Kings,33 and it is not without wider textual support. The word ‫שׁוב‬, used in the sense of repentance, is thematic in Solomon’s prayer of dedication (1 Kgs 8:22–53, used six times). This passage is widely

32. This is paralleled in nearly all of the prophetic literature. See Hos 3:4–5, Amos 9:11–15, Jer 33:23–26, Ezek 37:15–28. 33. This is Wolff’s thesis, that future hope in Kings is based on repentance. Wolff, “Kerygma,” 91–93. See more recently Janzen, “The Sins of Josiah and Hezekiah,” 370.


Journal for the Evangelical Study of the Old Testament 3.1

understood to be indicative of the Deuteronomist’s purpose.34 Similarly, Elijah’s confrontation with the prophets of Baal has been understood as a case study in the hope that repentance offers, that “after the time of judgment, the way to live in peaceful communion with God is open for everybody—one needs only to give up the other gods and return to the way of Yahweh.”35 However, understanding the message of the book as a call to repentance requires qualification in terms of the overall shape of the book. As right as repentance might be in response to covenant breach (Deut 30:2), every instance of repentance in the book fails to usher in the promised kingdom in the longer term. The story of Elijah’s victory over Baal and the repentance of the people (1 Kgs 18:39–40) is undone just one verse later (1 Kgs 19:1) with Elijah’s failure, the return of the Baal cult through Jezebel, and Elijah’s flight to Horeb (1 Kgs 19:1–3). Kings from the North who repent invariably have their dynasty extended by several generations (e.g. 1 Kgs 21:25–29; 2 Kgs 22:19), but judgment still comes in the end.36 Even when Hezekiah repents and Jerusalem is delivered from Sennacherib (2 Kgs 19:20), judgment is only suspended for a time (2 Kgs 20:10–19). Even though repentance is the right response to a breach of the Mosaic covenant, as Solomon prayed (1 Kgs 34. Solomon’s final petition in particular (1 Kgs 8:46–53) is commonly thought to be a message addressed directly to the exiles (e.g., McConville, “Narrative and Meaning,” 36). 35. Otto, “The Composition of the Elijah-Elisha Stories,” 504. Despite this, many who would understand a call to repentance as the core message of the book have not been inclined to examine 1 Kgs 18 for support. Wolff, for example, does not mention Elijah or Elisha anywhere in his “Kerygma of the Deuteronomic Historical Work” because of his focus on the purposes of the Deuteronomist. Even though Elijah’s confrontation with the cult of Baal might have aligned with Deuteronomistic interests (1 Kgs 19:10, 19:14), Otto points out that “. . . stories of Elijah and Elisha seem to have no particular purpose within the Deuteronomists’ conception of history and theology” and that “the Deuteronomists seem to pay no attention to the happenings in 1 Kgs 17–19 at all” (ibid., 494). He outlines several problems with the portrayal of Elijah and the stories concerning him if indeed they were pre-exilic stories incorporated into the book by the hand of the Deuteronomist(s), and goes on to propose that they were likely inserted sometime later; either late in or shortly after the exile. Interestingly, this means that there are two schools of thought, both of which argue that repentance is the message of Kings, but that ultimately disagree with each other as to where that message is found. Wolff and those who follow him find the message within the work of the Deuteronomist, but Otto argues that it was inserted after the work of the Deuteronomists, presumably because they did not find within the Deuteronomistic version of Kings the message of repentance that they wished to convey! 36. Leslie J. Hoppe, “The Death of Josiah and the Meaning of Deuteronomy,” LA 48 (1998): 31–47.

LOVELL: The Shape of Hope in the Book of Kings


8:33, 34, 35, 47, 48), it is not the ultimate source of hope for the future. Solomon’s prayer may encourage repentance of its exilic readership, but it does not encourage a belief that repentance will restore Israel from exile. It only asks for forgiveness from sin and compassion from their captors (1 Kgs 8:46–53). Something more than repentance is ultimately required if the Davidic promise is to be fulfilled. Nowhere is this better illustrated than the Josiah narrative. The dust from Josiah’s conquest has not even settled (2 Kgs 23:6, 12, 15) when the reader is abruptly reminded that Josiah too will fail. Josiah has turned (‫ )שׁוב‬to Yahweh (2 Kgs 23:25), but Yahweh has not turned (‫)שׁוב‬ from his anger (2 Kgs 23:26–27). National repentance has not atoned for the former breach of covenant,37 as Josiah understands (2 Kgs 22:13). Neither is the prophetic message from Huldah one of blessing and restoration following repentance, but rather one of certain judgment despite it (2 Kgs 22:16–18). Since Josiah is the archetypal covenant-keeping ruler in Kings,38 his untimely death (2 Kgs 23:29–30) at once lays to rest any hope that Mosaic reform will establish the kingdom promised to David, and removes any notion that the message of the book might be that reform in exile will trigger the fulfilment of the Davidic promise. But what then of the messianic arc that began in 1 Kgs 13:2? 39 Despite the imposing volume of scholarly attention devoted to Josiah, comparatively little attention has been given to the role he plays in the narrative as it now stands.40 Simply by its context within a wider narrative of ultimate failure, the Mosaic reforms of Josiah take their place among a long list of things that do not work to fulfil Davidic hope. Therefore, in the end, the covenant is seen to be an unsuitable vehicle for 37. Janzen, “The Sins of Josiah and Hezekiah,” 361. 38. Unlike Solomon, Josiah’s relationship to the Davidic promise is underplayed. Only once does the narrative remind us that Josiah is a Davidic heir (2 Kgs 22:2). By contrast Hezekiah, Judah’s other great reformer, is explicitly portrayed as Davidic several times (2 Kgs 18:3; 19:34; 20:5). Kings primarily understands Josiah in relation to covenant, and Hezekiah, as we shall see, in relation to promise, and then examines them in that light. 39. This question is precisely what drove Cross to propose his double-redaction theory. See Cross, Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic, 274–78. 40. Even if, as Cross asserted (ibid., 274–78), the book of Kings developed from a document intended to support Josianic reform, the role of Josiah in the final narrative is neither to demonstrate a successful king (according to the hopes of the Davidic promise), nor a successful kingdom. See Leithart, 1 & 2 Kings, 266–71 and James R. Linville, Israel in the Book of Kings: The Past as a Project of Social Identity (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, 1998), 229–35.


Journal for the Evangelical Study of the Old Testament 3.1

the realisation of the promises to David. Even in the hands of the most law-abiding of kings, the Mosaic covenant is unable to usher in the kingdom of promise simply because the covenant lacks what is needed most: a means by which former sin might be forgiven (2 Kgs 23:26–27; see 1 Kgs 8:46).41 THE EXILE AS YAHWEH’S NEW BEGINNING If the Mosaic covenant is unable to realise the Davidic promise then the exile itself becomes a symbol of hope because it fulfils the curses of the Mosaic covenant (2 Kgs 17:7–23, Deut 29:24–28),42 but leaves Israel with the promise that a righteous, covenant-keeping Davidic king will yet come. The exile is not simply Yahweh’s judgment, but the chance for him to now act according to the blessings he has promised, unrestricted by the demands of the curses (see Deut 30:1–6). Although, strictly speaking, the exiles of the northern and southern kingdoms occur finally in 2 Kgs 17 and 24–25 respectively, they have been foreshadowed in the narrative long before that.43 Kings begins with an account of Yahweh establishing and blessing the united kingdom by fighting against their enemies (1 Kgs 2:12, 24, 45, 46), and ends with Yahweh having set those enemies against his own people to destroy them (2 Kgs 24:2–3). The turning point in the exercise of Yahweh’s power is not the exile itself; it is Elijah’s flight to Horeb, and particularly 1 Kgs 19:15–18. Two events occur within these verses that are of interest. First, Yahweh will bring judgment on the house of Ahab (1 Kgs 19:17). He not only intends to raise up Jehu, but Hazael—a Syrian— against Ahab’s dynasty. This important moment marks the only occasion in Israel’s historical literature that a non-Israelite is anointed (‫)משׁח‬.44 41. Kings makes a similar point as Jer 31:31–34 through the narrative theology of the book. In the context of exile, Jeremiah also reaffirms the Davidic promise (Jer 33:14– 17), but envisages the need for a new covenant unlike the Mosaic covenant (Jer 31:32) whereby sin might be forgiven (Jer 31:34). Neither Kings nor Jeremiah implies that the Mosaic law is no longer important for the exiles (Jer 31:33), but rather the modification of the covenant terms whereby Israel might “live” (Deut 5:33). 42. Note the way the narrator relates the exile to the Mosaic covenant (v. 7): . . . ‫כי־חטאו‬ ‫ המעלה אתם מארץ מצרים‬. . . ‫ליהוה‬. 43. The fate of the northern kingdom was sealed from the time of Jeroboam I (1 Kgs 14:16). 44. This is paralleled in the prophetic corpus as a sign of Yahweh’s sovereignty over the foreign powers, and that even the mighty Cyrus unwittingly serves Yahweh (Is

LOVELL: The Shape of Hope in the Book of Kings


Hazael will serve Yahweh’s purpose. He will be a thorn in the side of Ahab and a means of destruction for Israel, and in doing so he foreshadows Yahweh’s later use of Assyria and Babylon for the same purpose. Therefore, within the narrative of Kings, Mt. Carmel (1 Kgs 18) represents a final offer by Yahweh to call the northern kingdom to repentance and covenant faithfulness through his prophet (1 Kgs 18:21). Having won the battle (1 Kgs 18:39–40), but losing the war (1 Kgs 19:1– 3), Elijah travels to Horeb where Yahweh instructs him to commission Elisha with a different purpose: the judgment of the northern kingdom. It is tempting to see Elisha’s numerous similarities to Elijah as the controlling factor in understanding the narratives in 2 Kgs 4–13 (see 2 Kgs 2:9), but despite similarities in the miracle stories, Elisha’s overall purpose is different. Where Elijah calls Israel to repent (1 Kgs 18:21), Elisha is to prepare their burial (1 Kgs 19:17).45 Yahweh has now turned against Israel, and so the exile has effectively, if not literally, begun. Judah will follow Israel in due course (2 Kgs 20:12–18). The second thing of interest at Horeb is Yahweh’s answer to Elijah when he protests that “the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant” (1 Kgs 19:14). Yahweh informs him that “I will cause 7,000 to remain” (hiphil of ‫)שׁאר‬. This introduces to the narrative the concept of a remnant (‫ )שׁאר‬of Israel who will survive the coming judgment of Yahweh (1 Kgs 19:18).46 Following this story the narrative introduces an enigmatic group identified repeatedly as the “Sons of the Prophets” (1 Kgs 20:35, 2 Kgs 2:3, 5, 7, 15; 4:1, 38; 5:22; 6:1; 9:1), who are closely tied with the ministry of Elisha.47 The often maligned incident in 2 Kgs

______________________________________________________ 44:28–45:1). Hazael is strictly speaking the only anointed one in Kings. 45. Wesley J. Bergen fails to see this shift in the nature of prophetic ministry and argues, instead, that Elisha failed in his prophetic duty to call Israel to any real kind of repentance (Elijah and the End of Prophetism [Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, 1999], 176). See also Philip E. Satterthwaite (“The Elisha Narratives and the Coherence of 2 Kings 2–8,” TynBul 49 [1998], 1–28), who makes the same assumption. 46. The verb is a weqatal (‫)והשׁארתי‬, which places it in logical (but not necessarily temporal) sequence with the judgment verbs of the previous verse (v. 17). Hazael will “put to death” and Elisha will “put to death,” but Yahweh will “cause to remain.” That is, this should not be understood simply as Yahweh’s answer to Elijah’s complaint that “Israel has forsaken your covenant and only I am left” (v. 14). Yahweh is not saying, “It’s OK, there are 7,000 after all!” Rather, this is an exilic promise: a group who will survive the coming judgment of Hazael and Jehu. 47. Scholarship on this group has been concerned with identifying a historical subcommunity of Israel to whom to attach the label ‫בני־הנביאים‬. See Michael Avioz, “The Book of Kings in Recent Research (Part 2),” Currents 5 (2006): 72. While this is an interesting question, it is not necessary in order to understand the role of the group within the narrative of Kings.


Journal for the Evangelical Study of the Old Testament 3.1

2:15–25 illustrates the relationship between Elisha and this group well. Immediately following Elijah’s ascension, Elisha performs two miracles that reveal the nature of his ministry. The first is a deliverance miracle, directed specifically towards this group (2 Kgs 2:15–22). The second is a judgment miracle directed against some Israelite boys (2 Kgs 2:23–25). Throughout his ministry, Elisha’s deliverance miracles are not directed for the benefit of Israel generally, but only for this group (see 2 Kgs 4:1– 7, 38–44; 6:1–6),48 or for the benefit of Israel’s enemies (2 Kgs 3:1–27; 5:1–14; 6:8–23).49 Although Elisha’s ministry is focused particularly on the house of Ahab, it illustrates the wider point. Through his ministry we see that Yahweh will no longer direct his energy toward building and maintaining the old Israelite kingdoms because Israel has “forsaken the covenant” (1 Kgs 19:10, 14) and all that remains is the curse. Yahweh continues to exercise patience, especially when confronted with a penitent king (1 Kgs 21:25–29; 2 Kgs 22:19), but the curse will not be undone. Exile is inevitable. However, precisely in this exile there is hope because Yahweh will do something new, and the Davidic promise is not the only indication we have from Kings as to what that new thing will be. We now also understand this new Israel through the prophetic concept of remnant. The question of hope in the book of Kings has now taken us in two directions. First, the book continues to expect a Davidic scion, even into the exile. And second, in light of the covenantal failures of Israel and Judah, the book refocuses the reader’s attention away from those kingdoms and toward the prophetic ministry and the remnant that will survive exile. I now turn to assessing those two strands of hope. THE SHAPE OF MESSIANIC HOPE IN THE BOOK OF KINGS What would the Messiah of God’s new beginning look like? Obviously messianic hope is grounded in the Davidic promise (2 Sam 7:12–16), so 48. Although not explicitly identified as part of this group, the narrative placement of the miracle in Shunem (2 Kgs 4:8–10), sandwiched between two “Sons of the Prophets” miracles (4:1–7, 38–44), as well as the indication that the woman fears Yahweh (4:9), indicates that this is not a break in the pattern. Elisha is still directing his energy toward those who “have not bowed the knee to Baal” (1 Kgs 19:18). It is the same woman in 2 Kgs 8:1–6. 49. The story of the siege of Samaria (2 Kgs 6:24–7:2), which involves only an oracle (rather than a miracle) from Elisha, appears to be an exception to the pattern. It can be explained because Hazael, rather than Ben-hadad, was to be Yahweh’s anointed (‫)משׁח‬ against Israel (1 Kgs 19:17), and Hazael will not become king of Syria until 2 Kgs 8.

LOVELL: The Shape of Hope in the Book of Kings


the Messiah will be a Davidic scion. Beyond this, I have argued above that the only possible resolution to the tension between covenant and promise is that a king must appear who is righteous by Mosaic standards. Since the promise is certain, the book encourages hope for this kind of Messiah. Deuteronomy 17:14–20 outlines the expectation: an Israelite who does not rely on militarily power, who is not prone to accumulating wives and money, who is subject to the law of Moses, and who is humble. There are no kings like this in the book of Kings.50 Usually, discussions of messianic hope in Kings examine as case studies those few southern kings that the narrative endorses. For example, Provan’s study understands Solomon, Hezekiah, and Josiah to function messianically when read in the wider context of the Former Prophets.51 There is some truth to this—the Messiah that Kings expects should be wise, faithful, and righteous. However to understand Judah’s good kings as messianic case studies requires a reading of the book that overlooks the overall shape of the narrative because ultimately each of these kings failed. Solomon did not fail because he stopped being wise, Hezekiah did not fail because he stopped trusting, and neither did Josiah fail because he transgressed the covenant. Furthermore, none of these kings live up to Deut 17:14–20 despite their endorsement from the narrator. It can hardly be the argument of the book that the hoped-for Messiah will be a king like these.52 Rather, the book hopes that “someone greater than Solomon” might one day appear.53 The key to messianic hope in the book is to ask how it is shaped by the failure of these kings and their kingdoms, as the account of Jehoiachin demonstrates (2 Kgs 25:27).54 Jehoiachin is released in the thirty-seventh year of the exile, but regains neither kingdom nor crown. Rather, he lives indebted to the king of Babylon, who “lifts his head” and “speaks kindly too him” (‫ ;וידבר אתו טבוה‬2 Kgs 25:27–28).55 Thus 50. Even Josiah does not meet this standard, despite his endorsement. See J. Gordon McConville, Deuteronomy (Leicester: Apollos, 2002), 216–17. 51. Provan, “The Messiah in the Book of Kings,” 80–81. 52. I do not have the space here to do full justice to Provan’s reading, which is more nuanced than my brief portrayal here suggests; however, I think the critique stands. 53. I allude, of course, to Matt 12:42. 54. The release of Jehoiachin has been the interpretive crux of the whole debate on hope in the books of Kings. See Gerhard Von Rad, Studies in Deuteronomy (trans. D. M. G. Stalker; London: SCM, 1953), 90–91. Here I am indebted here to Levenson’s careful reading of Jehoiachin’s release (“The Last Four Verses,” 356–58). 55. Levenson argues that this phrase (‫ )וידבר אתו טבות‬should be understood as the


Journal for the Evangelical Study of the Old Testament 3.1

Jehoiachin becomes an example of something new. He is a Davidic heir without a throne. Unable to reign from David’s city, Jehoiachin lives in exile, under the dominion of his enemy and dependent on his welfare. But the Davidic hope is not extinguished in the strangeness of this new situation. The historical reality of exile is neither antithetical to the wider purposes of Yahweh for Israel, nor is it detrimental to his ability to fulfill the promise that he made to David.56 In fact, more than this, Jehoiachin in exile represents no less hope than Solomon did in the glory days of Israel’s past. The Solomon of Kings was a failed David, and the Davidic promise was as uncertain in his kingdom as it is in exile. In both cases the accomplishment of the promised kingdom relied solely on Yahweh’s ability to work through, and in spite of, human failure. The shape of messianic hope in Kings remains the same in exile: a Davidic heir on the throne of David. However, it is complemented here by the surprising message that, for a time at least, it is acceptable to Yahweh that such a king find himself in the hands of the nations. From a human point of view, this is perhaps even demanded by Deut 17:14–20. Could a humble monarch of this type, with neither military power nor excessive wealth and status really expect to meet the needs of state?57 The difference between the two types of monarch is nowhere better illustrated than Rehoboam, who when challenged by his father’s advisors to choose humility over power, opts instead to become a king like his father (1 Kgs 12:1–15). But the advisors’ words are telling: “If you will be a servant (‫ )עבד‬to this people today and serve them (‫)ועבדתם‬, and speak good words to them (‫ודברת‬ ‫)אליהם דברים טובים‬58 when you answer them, then they will be your servants forever (‫( ”)כל־הימים‬1 Kgs 12:7). This is what is required if

______________________________________________________ beginning of a treaty of subjugation between Evil-merodach and Jehoiachin, which is plausible (ibid., 361). He concludes from this that the message of hope in Kings “represents part of an effort by an exilic Deuteronomistic source to bring the legacy of the promissory covenant with David into line with the new historical reality effected by the events of 587 B.C.E. and with the novel social and political situation of the continuing Diaspora.” 56. The exilic prophets agree with this sentiment, See Jer 29, esp. v. 7. The result of the exile is that messianic hope in ancient Israel shifts in the direction that Israel’s postexilic literature will eventually take, in which a messianic figure, like Zerubbabel, can be understood as a governor who “reigns” only at the pleasure of a foreign overlord (see Hag 2:20–23; Zech 5:6–10; 9:9–13). 57. J. Gordon McConville, God and Earthly Power: An Old Testament Political Theology, Genesis–Kings (London: T & T Clark, 2008), 80–81. 58. Which is something even Evil-merodach managed to do (2 Kgs 25:28)!

LOVELL: The Shape of Hope in the Book of Kings


David is truly to “always (‫ )כל־הימים‬have a lamp before me” (1 Kgs 11:36; 15:4; 2 Kgs 8:9): a servant king. THE SHAPE OF THE NEW ISRAEL IN THE BOOK OF KINGS I turn now to the second strand of hope that arises in exile: the prophetic ministry and the remnant. This hope is closely intertwined with the concept of Israel in the book because it is the remnant from which the new post-exilic Israel will emerge. The question of who is truly Israel in Kings is a difficult one, and most who address it conclude that neither the united monarchy, nor either the northern or southern kingdoms fully embodies what it means to be Israel.59 However, the remnant has been neglected as a possible answer,60 and I wish to redress that here. What does the ministry of the prophets to gather a remnant indicate about the nature of the new Israel? Within Kings, the prophets are the channels through which Yahweh enacts blessing on his people. This includes the obvious instances of miraculous sustenance (e.g., 1 Kgs 17:8–16; 2 Kgs 2:15–22; 4:1–7; 4:38–44; 6:1–7), healing (2 Kgs 5:1–14), childbirth (2 Kgs 4:8– 17), and resurrection (e.g., 1 Kgs 17:17–24; 2 Kgs 4:18–37; 13:20–21). But it goes further than this. The prophets mediate the word of Yahweh, which makes them the means by which Yahweh works to accomplish his purpose in history.61 The narrative establishes this in several ways. The prophets alone have access to the word which comes (‫ )ויהי‬only to them (1 Kgs 6:11; 13:20; 16:1, 7; 17:2, 8; 18:1; 21:17, 28; 2 Kgs 20:4). Likewise, in the book of Kings the spirit of Yahweh rests only upon the prophets (1 Kgs 18:12; 22:24; 2 Kgs 2:16), and the prophets alone have access to heaven where Yahweh dwells (1 Kgs 22:19–23; 2 Kgs 2:11; 1 Kgs 8:30). The prophets are in the unique position both to address kings and to petition Yahweh (1 Kgs 13:6; 17:22; 2 Kgs 4:33; 6:17–18). After 1 Kgs 19, as we have seen, all of these blessings belong to the remnant rather than national Israel. The theology of the temple in Solomon’s prayer of dedication 59. See Linville, Israel in the Book of Kings, 29–30. 60. This neglect is because most of the stories in Kings concerning prophetic figures are not considered Deuteronomistic, and scholarship on the meaning of Kings has been largely focussed on the message of the Deuteronomist. See Otto, “The Composition of the Elijah-Elisha Stories,” 487–90 and Fretheim, First and Second Kings, 6–8. 61. I noted the connection between “word” language and Yahweh’s action in history above.


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indicates that these blessings should be a function of the temple (1 Kgs 8:22–61), which is to say that they belong to national Judah. However, in the course of the narrative it becomes obvious that the temple will not often be used for this purpose. The kings of Judah are far more likely to plunder the temple than pray toward it (1 Kgs 14:26; 15:18; 2 Kgs 11:10). In any case the temple is unavailable to mediate Yahweh to the northern kingdom (1 Kgs 12:27). Even though the temple remains a potential source of blessing for Judah, in the course of the narrative what is promised through the temple usually occurs through the prophets:

1 Kgs 8:28–30

Sought at the Temple God will hear cries and pleas

1 Kgs 8:31–32

Condemning guilty, vindicating righteous

1 Kgs 8:33–34 1 Kgs 8:35–36 1 Kgs 8:37–40

Salvation after military defeat Rain in time of drought Supply in time of famine

1 Kgs 8:41–43

Prayers of foreigners heard

1 Kgs 8:44–45

Victory in battle

1 Kgs 8:46–53

Compassion in exile

Delivered by Prophets 1 Kgs 13:6; 17:22; 18:36– 37; 2 Kgs 4:18–37; 6:1–7 1 Kgs 13:21–22; 14:7–16; 18:20–40; 20:35–43; 21:17– 24; etc. 2 Kgs 7:1–2; 13:14–19 1 Kgs 18:41–46; 2 Kgs 3:17 1 Kgs 17:8–16; 2 Kgs 4:1– 7, 38–44 1 Kgs 17:8–16; 2 Kgs 5:1– 14 1 Kgs 20:13, 28; 2 Kgs 7:1– 20

Who then is Israel within Kings? Is it those who have the temple or those who receive the blessings of the temple? For the exilic readers who are without a temple, it is surely the latter. After 1 Kgs 19, the message of hope in the book of Kings is to be found within the remnant who receive Yahweh’s provision and blessing, and not within nationalist Israel and Judah, even if these two groups overlap at times. What shape does this new Israel take in the story of Kings? There are several clues in the narrative, the most prominent of which is the role of faith, which is the correct response to the prophetic word. 62 Nowhere in the historical literature does the concept of faith arise so frequently as 2 Kgs 18–19, where it is closely linked with deliverance of the remnant (2 Kgs 19:30–31).63 All eight instances of the verb “trust” 62. It has become clear that Israel is unable to yield obedience, which is the correct response to covenant. 63. This is the only other explicit occurrence of remnant in 1–2 Kings.

LOVELL: The Shape of Hope in the Book of Kings


(‫ )בטח‬in Kings occur in these chapters, and nine of the 10 instances of “deliver” (‫)נצל‬.64 The issue of these chapters is Isaiah’s assurance to Hezekiah in the face of Sennacherib’s imposing army, and this conflict is framed in covenant-promise terms. The Rabshakeh’s speech uses language highly suggestive of Deuteronomy to confront Hezekiah with an alternative covenant: each man at rest under his vine and fig tree, in a land of grain and wine, olives and honey (2 Kgs 18:31–32; Deut 8:7–9), bringing life and not death (2 Kgs 18:32, Deut 30:19–20).65 Hezekiah’s choice is between the covenant of Yahweh on the one hand and the covenant of the Rabshakeh on the other (2 Kgs 18:19–25). It is a powerful strategy because the very presence of the Rabshakeh outside Jerusalem reminds Judah that they are not recipients of the blessings of the Mosaic covenant (see Deut 28:7). Perhaps they would do better with Assyria? Isaiah’s assurance to Hezekiah, however, follows a different strategy. Rather than assuring Hezekiah of covenant blessing, he attacks the pride of Assyria (2 Kgs 19:21–28) and reminds Hezekiah of Yahweh’s promise to David (2 Kgs 19:34). In an event remarkable for its peculiarity, Hezekiah listens to Isaiah and turns to Yahweh in faith (2 Kgs 19:6–7; 19:14–19; see also 2 Kgs 18:5).66 The ministry of Isaiah results in deliverance for Hezekiah and the postponement of judgment for the sins of Judah (2 Kgs 20:16–19). The reader of the book now understands that the new Israel is the remnant that have faith in Yahweh’s promise (2 Kgs 19:30–31). Glimmers of hope for national Israel and Judah occasionally occur this way (e.g., 1 Kgs 20:1–25), but for the most part the kings of the two nations trust in anything other than Yahweh, thus finding themselves opposed to the ministry of the prophets. While the two nations decline, and while those with power refuse to listen, the prophets go to the powerless (e.g., 1 Kgs 17:8–24; 2 Kgs 4). The Deuteronomic blessing of oil, food, and life (Deut 7:13, 32:47) comes through the word of the prophets to the desperate and the weak (1 Kgs 17:14, 23–24; 2 Kgs 64. The lexical peculiarity can be explained if these chapters are the product of Isaiah’s hand rather than the compiler of Kings. Isaiah 36–39 is nearly identical to 2 Kgs 18:13– 19:37. John W. Olley (“‘Trust in the Lord’: Hezekiah, Kings and Isaiah,” TynBul [1999]: 77) ascribes them to a wisdom school operating in close proximity to Isaiah in Hezekiah’s court. Even so, their inclusion here plays an essential role in the narrative of Kings. 65. For an extended comparison, see Dominic Rudman, “Is the Rabshakeh also among the Prophets? A Rhetorical Study of 2 Kings XVIII 17–35,” VT 50 (2000): 106–9. 66. This is the first time in the narrative since Solomon’s dedication that the temple has been used for its intended purpose of prayer.


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4:32–35) and to the remnant who would not bow the knee to Baal (2 Kgs 2:19–22; 4:38–44; 6:1–6). In the prophetic ministry of Elijah and Elisha it matters very little whether these people are Israelite or not, as the Naaman narrative demonstrates (2 Kgs 5, see also 1 Kgs 17:8–24). It is a story of reversals. An oppressor of Israel become one of the oppressed, powerful Naaman becomes helpless with leprosy (2 Kgs 5:1). His restoration involves learning to trust the powerless (2 Kgs 5:4, 13) rather than appealing to the powerful (2 Kgs 5:5–7, 11–12). Naaman becomes like a child (2 Kgs 5:14) and becomes a servant himself (‫ עבד‬is used five times in 2 Kgs 5:15–18). In doing so he joins the new Israel of those who are blessed by Yahweh (2 Kgs 5:15–17). It is significant that Naaman leaves with a gift of the land; not because Yahweh is localised in Israel as some have supposed,67 but because the land is the promised inheritance of Israel, as Naboth protested to Ahab (1 Kgs 21:4).68 By 2 Kgs 5 the kingdom of promise is now clearly found amongst the remnant, who are the servants, the humble, the poor, and the lowly. As Naaman becomes one of those, he too inherits the earth, and hope for blessing comes to the Gentiles. This is not to imply that Naaman becomes a national Israelite; clearly he does not. It is as a Gentile that he comes to inherit the Israelite blessing, but this too is Deuteronomic: the blessings of Yahweh go to the Gentiles when the wrath of God turns against national Israel (Deut 32:21). The curious and short account of Elisha’s death, or at least his bones (2 Kgs 13:20–21), is also noteworthy in the discussion of the new Israel.69 There are strong textual links with the narrator’s comment that follows it (2 Kgs 13:22–23), so that the placement of the two becomes highly suggestive of exilic themes.70 The word “cast” in v. 21 (‫ )שׁלך‬is the same word as used in v. 23, and throughout the book, to refer to Yahweh’s action of removing Israel from the land (2 Kgs 17:20; see also 1 Kgs 9:7; 2 Kgs 24:20). On its own, the repetition of this word is 67. E.g., Mordechai Cogan, 1 Kings: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2008), 67; Hobbs, 2 Kings, 66. The book of Kings itself rejects this conclusion by portraying Yahweh as sovereign over foreign kings and nations, anointing them (1 Kgs 19:15), and using them for his purposes (e.g., 2 Kgs 17:7–18). 68. See Fretheim, First and Second Kings, 154–55; Leithart, 1 & 2 Kings, 195–97. 69. The episode has confused commentators who see it as essentially humorous or inexplicable (e.g., Brueggemann, 1 & 2 Kings, 432–33). 70. See Fretheim, First and Second Kings, 184.

LOVELL: The Shape of Hope in the Book of Kings


unremarkable. However, 2 Kgs 13:22–23 is also a very unusual passage. The narrator gives numerous reminders that Yahweh would not destroy the southern kingdom completely because of his promise to David, but this is the only equivalent statement for the northern kingdom. This is also the only recollection within Kings of the covenant with Abraham that was inherited equally by the North and the South. Despite the use of the term “covenant” (‫)ברית‬, the context closely mirrors the way the book has spoken of the promise to David, so this sole reference to the Abrahamic covenant provides the same basis for hope in the North as the Davidic promise does in the South. By it the reader understands that the northern kingdom was also an heir to a promise and a future, despite its covenant disobedience and alienation from the Davidic promise. It is not simply a narrative foil by which the progress of the South might be assessed. What would have the “cast off” readers in exile understood when the northern kingdom is “cast” from Yahweh’s presence (2 Kgs 17:20)? It is only because of 2 Kgs 13:22–23 that they have been reminded of the promises to Abraham. By its juxtaposition with 2 Kgs 13:20–21 they have also been reminded of the power of God to raise to life those who were once “cast off.”71 In a sophisticated way, the book moves beyond a simple message of either hope for national restoration or explanation of destruction. Nor is it hope conditioned on repentance. Rather, with the other exilic literature, Kings portrays both a certain and complete destruction according to the curses of the Mosaic covenant, and a sure hope based theologically in resurrection,72 which occurs historically through the preservation of a humble and faithful remnant 73 so that the promises made to Abraham and David may be fulfilled. CONCLUSIONS The theology of the book of Kings is underpinned by two promises of 71. There are several resurrections in the book of Kings. It is the narrative placement of this unit that gives this one its symbolic significance. 72. This is a shared theological theme with Ezekiel (37:1–14) and with the prophetic literature more generally. See Donald E. Gowan, Theology of the Prophetic Books: The Death and Resurrection of Israel (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1998), 1–21. McConville (“1 Kings VIII,” 79) suggests that the message of Kings takes a “different cue” from Deuteronomy concerning the issue of hope for the exiles than do the prophetic books, but there is much more in common than he suggests. 73. See Zeph 3:11–12 and Hab 2:4.


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God: on the one hand, certain hope for David’s dynasty, and on the other, certain destruction for disobedience to the Mosaic covenant. The narrative of Kings explores this tension in order to see how these two seemingly contradictory promises might be reconciled, and what, if any, hope might be offered for the first readers of the book in the Babylonian exile. The book forbids the conclusion that either of the promises undoes the other, so there is only one resolution left. The curses must be enacted for covenant breach, as indeed it had been for the first readers of the book, which then leaves only hope that the promise might be fulfilled. Thus, the exile becomes a symbol of hope in itself: that now Yahweh might begin something new. The messiah that Kings expects is unlike any of the Davidic kings in Judah’s or Israel’s history because, despite having abundant blessing from Yahweh, their kingdoms failed. Rather, the release of Jehoiachin during exile confirms that Yahweh is able to raise a Davidic heir even without David’s throne. Israel’s exilic situation does not preclude the fulfilment of Yahweh’s promise, and so the book encourages the exiles to hope for the appearance of a righteous, covenant-keeping king, even from exile, who will inherit the promise to David. Likewise, the nationalistic kingdoms of Israel and Judah have failed, but the ministries of the prophetic figures of the book have shown that exile is not Yahweh’s final word for Israel. The book expects a remnant who will survive the coming destruction, through whom Yahweh’s new Israel might yet be raised from the dead. But this new Israel will not look like the power structures of national Israel. Instead, they will be the widows, the orphans, the humble, and even the Gentiles. They will be those who have not bowed the knee to Baal. They will be those who hear the word of Yahweh as it comes through the prophetic ministry and respond with faith. To conclude, that hope in the book of Kings is shaped in this way certainly moves us beyond the interests of the so called Deuteronomist. Indeed, if it is correct, it may require a reassessment of some of the proposed literary history of the book, which after all relies heavily on the presupposition of the book’s purpose.74 But it does give a reading of the book that is more closely aligned with the theology of its contemporary exilic literature, as well as one that plays a definite role in the canonical shape of Scripture and the flow of the overarching story of 74. Janzen has recently also called for a revision of the source–critical hypothesis in light of his more synchronic reading (“The Sins of Josiah and Hezekiah,” 370).

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the Bible. The hope is firmly placed in God, for every human king and institution in the book has failed. Kings becomes a story of the hope that remains after Israel moves from the nationalistic and glorious roots of Solomon to the reality of exile—a scattered people and a subjugated king. But such a reality is not antithetical to the purpose of God for Israel. In fact, it is cogent with God’s overall plan. The book tells the story of how the kingdom of Israel might move from Solomon’s kingdom to something greater than Solomon; to a people who will not bow the knee to Baal. It tells the story of how Yahweh might yet, even from exile, raise up a servant king.

[JESOT 3.1 (2014): 29–48]

The Soteriological Development of the “Arm of the LORD” Motif MATTHEW R. AKERS Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary

A quarter of a century ago James Hoffmeier published his groundbreaking Biblica article “The Arm of God Versus the Arm of Pharaoh in the Exodus Narratives.” The same year, Manfred Görg released his study “Der starke Arm Pharaos” in the Festschrift honoring François Daumas. Both men demonstrated that the OT seizes Egyptian victory language and applies it to the God of Israel in order to portray him as the conqueror of Pharaoh. This paper builds upon these important works, arguing that the OT authors, particularly in the prophetical period, employed the theme to express several important theological concepts. The author of this paper explores a number of OT passages that depict the arm of the LORD as the deliverer of postConquest Israel and the redeemer of the entire world.

KEYWORDS: Deliverance, Soteriology, Theology, Prophets, Messiah

INTRODUCTION As OT scholars of the past several centuries have analyzed and assimilated countless archaeological discoveries, they have directed their areas of expertise along avenues that previous generations were unable to travel. Perhaps no branch of OT scholarship has progressed more rapidly than the study of the Hebrew language. These appreciable advancements serve the purpose of better illuminating critical concepts such as OT figures of speech and their theological significance. Once such phrase that is worthy of examination is the expression the “arm of the LORD.”1 1. Although the phrase ‫“( זרוע יהוה‬arm of the LORD”) occurs only a handful of times in the OT, numerous texts associate the arm with God. In this study, the “arm of the LORD” will serve as shorthand for the miscellaneous descriptive terms that the OT writers applied to God (e.g., “holy arm,” “outstretched arm,” “powerful arm,” etc.). Also of importance is the phrase the “hand of the LORD.” While in Exod 6:6–7 God


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The first biblical reference to the arm of the LORD appears in Exod 6:6 in the context of a divine speech that God addressed to Moses. Previous to this encounter, God had sent Moses and his brother Aaron to petition Pharaoh so that he might allow the people of Israel to celebrate a feast dedicated to the LORD in the wilderness (Exod 5:1–3). When the ruler of Egypt refused to make this allowance (Exod 5:2–5), and instead increased the workload of his slaves (Exod 5:6–9), the God of Israel proceeded to punish the Egyptians. Before striking Egypt with the ten plagues and delivering his people from slavery, God expressed his intentions to liberate the Israelites: Say, therefore, to the children of Israel, “I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the compulsory servitude of Egypt, and I will deliver you from their slavery and redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great punishments. I will also take you for My people, and I will be your God; and you will know that I am the LORD your God who brought you out from under the compulsory servitude of the Egyptians.” (Exod 6:6-7)2 This reference to the arm of the LORD serves as the foundation for a series of little studied theological revelations concerning God. This article will examine OT passages that develop the phrase soteriologically. A SUMMARY OF HOFFMEIER’S FINDINGS In his groundbreaking article “The Arm of God Versus the Arm of Pharaoh in the Exodus Narratives,” James Hoffmeier was one of the first scholars to write extensively on the Egyptian foundation of the OT arm motif.3 He observed that arm iconography was one of the most enduring images of Egyptian culture, reaching its height during the Eighteenth Dynasty.

______________________________________________________ promised to redeem his people with his arm, in Exod 7:5 he assured the sons of Israel that he would punish Egypt with his hand. This study also will consider instances in which the “hand of the LORD” appears alongside soteric usages of the “arm of the LORD” motif (e.g., Pss 44:1–3; 98; Isa 59). 2. All Scripture translations are original to the author unless otherwise noted. 3. James K. Hoffmeier, “The Arm of God Versus the Arm of Pharaoh in the Exodus Narratives,” Bib 67 (1986): 378–87.

AKERS: Development of the “Arm of the Lord” Motif


The arm of the LORD is not an OT image employed haphazardly; the phrase is replete with significance that would not be lost on the original audience. Essentially, the God of the Israelite slaves appropriated the victory language of the Egyptians and demonstrated that the terminology rightly belonged to him. When the people of Israel heard the message that is recorded in Exod 6, they would have understood the reference to be a declaration of the supremacy of the LORD over the gods of Egypt as well as the Pharaoh, who considered himself to be divine. The Egyptians were accustomed to hearing of the mighty deeds that the arm of their king accomplished, but soon they would realize by means of the ten plagues that the deeds of the LORD could not be superseded. On the one hand, Pharaoh and his subjects would understand Exod 6 and the subsequent mighty acts of the arm of the LORD as challenges to the king and their gods. On the other hand, the people of Israel who had sojourned in Egypt for centuries (and subsequently were familiar with Egyptian religion) would have recognized the expression as divine warfare. Although at first the slaves refused to “listen to Moses on account of their despondency and cruel bondage” (Exod 6:9), they would begin to believe the message when the arm of the LORD acted with great signs and wonders, humbling the greatest contemporary power in the process. The height of the humiliation occurred when the people of Israel sang of the defeat of Pharaoh and his army at the Red Sea: Let me sing to the LORD, for He is greatly exalted; He has thrown the horse and his rider into the sea . . . . Who is like You among the gods, LORD? Who is like You, glorious in holiness, Honored in praises, performing wonders? (Exod 15:1, 11) Interestingly, the victory hymn in Exod 15 is similar to the ones previously sung in honor of the conquered Egyptian king. 4 The arm of the LORD, therefore, had proven victorious in the military campaign against Pharaoh and the gods of Egypt as he had promised beforehand (Exod 12:12). Further, the exodus event would not be the last time that the OT employs the phrase “arm of the LORD,” but instead it goes on to serve as the foundation for an important theological motif.

4. Ibid., 387. Here Hoffmeier captured the irony of Egypt’s humiliation: “What better way for the exodus traditions to describe God’s victory over Pharaoh, and as a result his superiority, than to use Hebrew derivations or counterparts to Egyptian expressions that symbolised Egyptian royal power.”


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A SUMMARY OF GÖRG’S FINDINGS The same year that Hoffmeier published his findings, Manfred Görg’s article “Der starke Arm Pharaos” appeared in a Festschrift honoring François Daumas.5 Görg noted that scholars had not given proper attention to comparative studies that focused on the imagery of Egypt, the ancient Near East (ANE), and the OT. He desired to help remedy this oversight by analyzing the phrase “the strong arm of Pharaoh” because the terminology exists in Egyptian documents, in Syro-Palestinian correspondence, and the OT. Görg first surveyed the examples of this motif in the preConquest Amarna Letters. In his correspondence with the Egyptian royal court, Jerusalem’s mayor ‘Abdi-Ḫeba referred to “the strong arm of the king [of Egypt]” (EA 286.13; cf. EA 287.27; 288.15, 34). Because Görg saw in these letters a distinctive metaphorical expression, he speculated that Jerusalem may be the place where the idiom originated.6 Next, Görg considered God’s declaration that he had “shattered the arm of Pharaoh, king of Egypt” (Ezek 30:21; cf. vv. 22–25). Whereas the Amarna Letters spoke of Pharaoh’s strength, the book of Ezekiel contains what one might consider the result of a gradual modification of an established word picture. The resulting metaphor reverses the pharaonic image of power in order to demonstrate that Egypt’s militaristic dominance had been broken. Finally, Görg examined hieroglyphic references to “the strong arm of Pharaoh” in writings that pertain to Thutmosis IV, Haremhab, and Ramses II. Egyptian allusions to the king’s mighty arm tend to celebrate his ability to defeat his enemies. This detail prompted Görg to conclude that the most likely explanation for the origin of the OT usage of the arm motif is a cross-pollination of the Egyptian and Canaanite uses of the metaphor. In other words, while Egypt was responsible for originating the symbolism, the alteration of the concept to suit Canaan’s purposes also left a mark on OT writers. Although Görg limited his discussion of the OT arm motif to a single biblical text, his contribution is valuable for two reasons. First, his article emphasizes the role of comparative linguistic and metaphoric studies in expanding scholars’ understanding of the richness of OT allusions. Second, Görg’s research established that arm imagery was a 5. Manfred Görg, “Der starke Arm Pharaos: Beobachtungen zum Belegspektrum einer Metapher in Palästina und Ägypten,”in Hommages à François Daumas (Montpellier: Université de Montpellier, 1986), 323–30. 6. Ibid., 326.

AKERS: Development of the “Arm of the Lord” Motif


significant ANE theme, so OT examples of the metaphor deserve more special attention. A SELECT SURVEY OF THE SOTERIOLOGICAL CONTRIBUTION OF THE OLD TESTAMENT “ARM OF THE LORD” MOTIF An examination of the arm motif would be incomplete without considering how OT authors developed the theme theologically. The OT uses the arm of the LORD motif to depict God as Creator (Ps 89:11–13; Jer 27:5; 32:17), Deliverer (Pss 44:1–3; 77:11–20; 98:1–9; Isa 51:4–8; 52:10; 53:1; 59:1–21; 63:4–5, 7–14), Divine Warrior (Ps 89:5–10; Isa 30:27–33; Isa 51:9–11), King (Pss 44:4–8; 89:1–4, 19–29; Isa 40:10–11; Ezek 20:33–38), and Judge (Deut 2:14–16; Ps 98:9; Isa 51:5; 63:1–4a, 5b–6; Jer 21:5; 27:5). Space limitations prevent a thorough examination of each of these five theological assertions, so the remainder of this paper will focus solely on the soteriological development of the arm of the LORD motif. The Arm of the LORD as Israel’s Deliverer The OT addresses the redemptory role of the arm of the LORD more often than any other branch of the arm motif. This aspect of the theme is comprised of two ideas: (1) The role of the arm of the LORD in the liberation of the Israelites from their enemies; and (2) the role of the arm of the LORD in the soteric deliverance of both Israelites and Gentiles. Since the release of the sons of Israel from Egypt already has been mentioned, it need not be reconsidered here. Several OT writers employed the image of the exodus from Egypt as an archetype for victory.7 The typical formula for this aspect of 7. Occasionally, however, the Lord’s arm and hand (an additional metaphor sometimes paired with the arm of the LORD) punished his own people rather than delivering them (e.g., Deut 2:14–16; 1 Sam 12:15; Jer 21:5). The reason for the intermittent inversion of this motif is twofold. First, when Israel acted like the surrounding nations by rebelling and serving false gods, the Lord reproved his covenant people in much the same manner that he punished the pagan countries. Second, much as a shepherd used his rod and staff to defend and discipline his sheep (cf. Ps 23:4), the Lord’s arm and hand defended his people when they were under attack and disciplined them when they strayed from his path. For more information on what some scholars refer to as the “anti-Exodus theme,” see W. L. Moran, “The End of the Unholy War and the AntiExodus,” Bib 44 (1963): 333–42; David Rolph Seely, “The Image of the Hand of God in the Exodus Traditions” (Ph.D. diss., University of Michigan, 1990), 193–95; Matthew R. Akers, “The Employment of zeroa’ as a Messianic Motif with Particular Emphasis on the Origin of the Concept as Well as its First Usage in Exodus 6:1–8” (Ph.D. diss., Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary, 2005), 25–26.


Journal for the Evangelical Study of the Old Testament 3.1

the motif begins with a summary of the origin of the nation before expressing confidence that the founder of Israel once more will work in the present life of Israel as he did at the nation’s establishment. This “Vergangenheit und . . . gegenwärtige Bekenntnis zur Zuversicht”8 structure appears in Pss 44 and 77. The confidence that Israel places in God appears in the context of community laments that bemoan present national tragedies. Such a pairing of tragedy and trust is not contradictory, but petitions God to remedy national disasters through his arm. Psalm 44:1–3 Psalm 44:1 begins with a rehearsal of ancient events that the present generation has learned from its fathers: “God, we heard with our ears, our fathers recounted to us the deeds that You did in their days, in the days of old.” This statement demonstrates Israel’s faithfulness to adhere to God’s command to teach future generations, for the author of Exod 13:14–16 and Deut 6:20–25 instructs the people that the transmission of “God’s mighty deeds . . . was a religious duty incumbent on all parents.”9 The audience, who never experienced such an act of redemption, bemoans the fact that “what they have heard with their ears is tacitly contrasted with the very different things which they have seen with their eyes.”10 Scholarship is divided on which events are mentioned in Ps 44. While David C. Mitchell argued that the passage speaks of the Exodus event,11 Uriel Simon held that the psalm instead celebrates “the expulsion

8. T. Hieke, “Der Exodus in Psalm 80: Geschichtstopik in den Psalmen,” in Studies in the Book of Exodus: Redaction, Reception, Interpretation (ed. Marc Vervenne; BETL 126; Leuven: Peeters, 1996) 556. An English translation of Hieke’s quotation reads: “past . . . and present confession of confidence.” 9. J. W. Rogerson and J. W. McKay, Psalms 1–50 (CBC; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977), 207. 10. Joseph Addison Alexander, The Psalms: Translated and Explained (Grand Rapids, MI: 1977), 195. This observation of the psalmist’s present situation is not an accusation against God, suggesting either an inability to work or an apathetic attitude, but instead reflects the desire to see God’s arm at work once more. 11. David C. Mitchell, The Message of the Psalter: An Eschatological Programme in the Book of Psalms (JSOTSup 252; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, 1997), 250.

AKERS: Development of the “Arm of the Lord” Motif


of the Canaanites” during the conquest.12 The pericope, however, most likely offers a comprehensive portrait of God’s workings during both the exodus and the conquest. The Israelites could credit their birth as a nation not to their vigor (cf. Ps 44:3[Heb. 4]), but to God’s might: “For they did not take possession of the land with their own sword, nor did their arm save them, but Your right hand and Your arm and the light of Your face, for You took pleasure in them.” This citation is not merely a quotation from the Torah. Whereas Exod 6:6 pertains solely to the liberation of the people of Israel from Egypt,13 the psalmist attributes the favorable outcome of the conquest to the arm of the LORD as well (Ps 44:3). In the promised land God’s hand eradicated the inhabitants of Canaan while at the same time his arm once more delivered his covenant people. When examined in context, Ps 44:1–3 serves as the basis by which Israel beseeches God so that he “may graciously again intervene so powerfully” as he had done in the past. 14 Since the arm of the LORD had rescued their ancestors from servitude in Egypt and firmly planted them in Canaanite territory, his people could expect a similar work of deliverance in the present. Thus, Israel gained from “der Vergangenheit neue Hoffnung” where none was visible to the naked eye.15 Psalm 77:11–2016 Several aspects of Ps 77:11–20 are noteworthy. First, the psalmist recalls the inaugural event of Israel’s history at a time when many felt that the end of the nation may be near. In Ps 77:14–16 (which contains 39 12. Uriel Simon, Four Approaches to the Book of Psalms from Saadiah Gaon to Abraham Ibn Ezra (trans. L. J. Schramm; New York: State University of New York Press, 1991), 60. 13. This statement also is true of every other allusion to the arm of the LORD in the Torah (Exod 4:34; 5:15; 7:19; 9:29; 11:2; 15:16; 26:8). 14. Hans-Joachim Kraus, Psalm 1-59 (trans. Hilton C. Oswald; Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1988), 447. 15. Hieke, “Der Exodus in Psalm 80,” 556. The gist of Hieke’s quotation is that Israel gained new hope as they recalled God’s past workings. 16. Readers of the NASB may be surprised to find this passage categorized as an arm of the LORD text because no mention of God’s arm appears in this translation of Ps 77. Verse 15 reads “You have by Your power redeemed Your people, the sons of Jacob and Joseph.” The word “power” actually is “arm” in the Masoretic text, and many other well-known translations use the word “arm” in v. 15. E.g., KJV, NJKV, RSV, NRSV, NIV, TNIV, ESV.


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percent of the vocabulary found in the victory hymn of Exod 15:11– 13),17 Asaph encouraged the nation to place their faith in the God of their ancestors. If God, through his arm, overcame seemingly impossible situations in bygone days, he could do so once more. Second, at the Red Sea God led his “people like a flock” (Ps 77:20), thus combining the concept of the arm of the LORD with shepherding imagery.18 Although this theme often is synonymous with kingship, the terminology also carried the notion of redemption in the culture of the ANE.19 In effect, the LORD, who is king, ensures this perpetual deliverance of the covenant nation by means of his arm. Third, another facet of the text (which occurs only here and in Obad 18),20 is the pairing of the names “Jacob and Joseph” (Ps 77:15). Scholarship has variously interpreted this coupling as (1) an indication of a northern origin of the psalm,21 (2) an allusion to the fact that both personages insisted that they be buried in the promised land rather than Egypt,22 or (3) a “link between the patriarchs and the exodus.”23 Although “Joseph” does appear occasionally as a reference to northern Israel in the prophetic corpus (e.g., Amos 5:6, 15; 6:6),24 J. W. Rogerson and J. W. McKay correctly maintained that “more likely the verse refers to the redemption of the whole Israelite nation in the exodus”25 as opposed to only a portion of the population. 17. Helen G. Jefferson, “Psalm 77,” VT 13 (1963): 89. 18. Inherent in this allusion is the portrayal of God leading his people out of Egypt by means of his arm, much as a shepherd leads his flock with his staff in hand. 19. “God, why have You continuously rejected us? Why does Your anger smoke against the flock of Your pasture? Remember Your congregation, You purchased it long ago, You redeemed the tribe of Your inheritance. This Mount Zion, You dwelled on it.” (Ps 74:1–2) 20. Woodrow Michael Kroll, Psalms: The Poetry of Palestine (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1987), 218. 21. Hans-Joachim Kraus, Psalm 60-150 (trans. Hilton C. Oswald; Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1988), 116. Although Kraus mentioned this position as an option, he did not hold this view of the passage. 22. Derek Kidner, Psalms 73–150: A Commentary of Books III-V of the Psalms (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1975), 280. 23. John S. Kselman, “Psalm 77 and the Book of Exodus,” JANES 15 (1983): 52. 24. A. A. Anderson, The Book of Psalms (NCB 2; Greenwood, SC: Attic, 1992), 560. 25. Rogerson and McKay, Psalms 51–100, 138.

AKERS: Development of the “Arm of the Lord” Motif


The Arm of the LORD as Deliverer Physical deliverance was always a major concern of the Israelites, but the OT looks forward to a complete, spiritual redemption as well. Not only did the arm of the LORD birth the nation and continue to sustain it throughout the centuries, the arm also proved to be the means by which the people might obtain eternal hope. Israel’s redemption from Egypt, therefore, served as the model for the deliverance that God’s people anticipated. Psalm 98 Scholars often classify Psalm 98 as “a Divine Warrior victory song.”26 Aspects of this motif certainly are present in the passage, particularly in the reference to God’s punitive hand working in conjunction with his emancipatory arm to secure victory (Ps 98:1). Also present in the text are elements that emphasize divine kingship.27 The main thrust of the psalm, however, is God’s redemption as evidenced by the triple usage of “salvation” (‫ )ישׁועה‬in verses 1–3. Unlike Pss 44 and 77, which begin with laments, the author of Ps 98 immediately displays “eine Äußerung der Freude.”28 The passage, which serves as the “prophetic counterpart of” Isa 52:7–10,29 contains the only title to be found among Pss 93–99. Since the psalmist calls upon the people to sing a new song, it is reasonable to suggest that “the presence of this title in Ps 98 likely serves to emphasize the ‘new start’ (for a song) mentioned within the psalm itself.”30 The 26. Marvin E. Tate, Psalms 51–100 (WBC 20; Dallas: Word, 1990), 524. Tate accurately classifies Ps. 98 as a soteric “hymn of triumph” that clearly emphasizes the dual purposes of the LORD’s “saving works, which have revealed his ‘righteousness’ to the nations and his enduring love and faithfulness toward his own people in Israel.” 27. Hans-Joachim Kraus, Theology of the Psalms (trans. K. Crim; Minneapolis: Fortress, 1992), 86. 28. B. Maarsingh, “Das Schwertlied in Ez. 21:13–22 und das Erra-Gedicht,” in Ezekiel and His Book: Textual and Literary Criticism and Their Interrelation (ed. J. Lust; BETL 74; Leuven: Leuven University Press, 1986), 351. The phrase “eine Äußerung der Freude” means “a statement of joy.” 29. James Luther Mays, Psalms in Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching (Louisville: John Knox, 1994), 313. 30. David M. Howard Jr., “A Contextual Reading of Psalms 90–94,” in The Shape and Shaping of the Psalter (ed. J. Clinton McCann; JSOTSup 159; Sheffield: JSOT, 1993), 120.


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phrase ‫“( שׁיר חדשׁ‬new song”), which occurs only seven times in the OT,31 always finds association with the theme of deliverance.32 The “new song” apparently serves the purpose of “celebrating the accomplishment” of the revelation of God’s salvation to the entire earth.33 Psalm 98:1 explains the reason why it is appropriate for the audience to sing a new song. The Israelites could rejoice because of God’s ‫“( נפלאות עשׁה‬marvelous works”). Kidner observed that the verb translated “extraordinary” (cf. Jer 32:17) is more than a superlative, but a way in which to formulate “the miraculous interventions of God.”34 In short, the works that the arm of the LORD performs are incomparable. The word “salvation” is paralleled with God’s “extraordinary deeds” in Ps 98:1, indicating that redemption indeed is the focus of this pericope. Unlike Pss 44 and 77, though, Ps 98 is not a description of nationalistic deliverance. Rather, the text declares that “all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God” (Ps 98:3), thus affirming the psalm’s soteric focus. Consequently, verse 1 attributes the consummation of God’s soteriological plan for Israel and the Gentile nations to the arm of the LORD. A Note on the Significance of Arm Imagery in Isa 40–55 The theme of a “new exodus” permeates Isa 40–55.35 Prior to this segment of the book, the prophet Isaiah focuses on imminent judgment (Isa 1–39), but after this he turns his attention to the future hope that the Lord would effect. By means of his Messiah, God will bring about a spiritual liberation that will rival the deliverance of the sons of Israel from Egypt. The four Servant Songs appear within the context of Isa 40– 55,36 but the arm of the LORD also figures prominently within this section.

31. Tremper Longman III, “Psalm 98: A Divine Warrior Victory Song,” JETS 27 (1984): 269. The phrase ‫ שׁיר חדשׁ‬appears in Pss 33:3; 40:3(4); 96:1; 98:1; 144:9; 149:1; Isa 42:10. 32. Ibid. 33. Ellen F. Davis, “Psalm 98,” Int 46 (1992): 172. 34. Kidner, Psalms 73–150, 352. 35. Rikki E. Watts, Isaiah’s New Exodus in Mark (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1997), 79–84. 36. Isaiah 42:1–4; 49:1–6; 50:4–9; 52:13–53:12.

AKERS: Development of the “Arm of the Lord” Motif


Isa 40–55 contains a total of 26 rhetorical questions.37 Interestingly, the questions begin directly after a reference to the arm of the LORD in Isa 40:11 and terminate with another reference to the arm of the LORD in the final Servant Song (Isa 53:1). The thrust of this stylistic device is that the unveiling of the messianic Servant provides the answer to all of the prophet’s inquiries in Isa 40–53. Given this fact, an understanding of the soteric usages of the arm of the LORD in the book of Isaiah is necessary in order to understand the prophetic aspect of the corpus correctly.38 Isaiah 51:4–8 In Isa 51:1–3 the prophet introduces the theme of 51:4–8 by referring to the birth pains of Sarah (v. 2) as well as to a future time when the deserts of Zion would be made fertile like the garden of Eden (v. 3). Gerald Janzen perceived that the birth of Isaac often is tied to Zionic themes of fertility,39 so the pairing of these two topics is fitting. These twin images of fruitfulness prefigure the soteric deliverance of the arm of the LORD. Isaiah 51:4 begins by announcing that a law (‫ )תורה‬would go forth from God. The verse parallels ‫ תורה‬with ‫משׁפט‬, which the LORD would set “for a light of the peoples.” Although “judgment” is the general translation of ‫משׁפט‬, the idea in this context is “deliverance” or “justice.”40 The purpose for this rendering is threefold. First, the term “light” is an OT metaphor for salvation.41 Second, the number of soteric terms in Isa 51:4–8 validates this observation. “Righteousness” appears in four consecutive verses (vv. 5–8), while “salvation” occurs three times (vv. 5, 6, 8). Third, Isa 51:1–11 is chiastic, 37. Kenneth J. Kuntz, “Rhetorical Questions in Deutero-Isaiah,” in Writing and Reading the Scroll of Isaiah: Studies of an Interpretive Tradition (ed. Craig C. Broyles and Craig A. Evans; VTSup70.1; Leiden: Brill, 1997), 126. Kuntz provided a beneficial list of all passage between Isa 40:12 and 53:1 which employ interrogative texts: Isa 40:12–14, 18, 21, 25, 28; 41:2, 4, 26; 42:19, 24; 43:13; 44:7–8; 45:9, 11, 21; 46:5; 48:14; 49:15, 24; 50:1–2, 9; and 53:1. 38. Since the reference in Isa 40:10–11focuses on the kingly qualities of the arm of the LORD, the author will not elaborate on the text within the confines of this paper. 39. Gerald J. Janzen, “Rivers in the Desert of Abraham and Sarah and Zion (Isaiah 51:1–3),” HAR 10 (1986): 139. 40. D. W. van Winkle,“The Relationship of the Nations of Yahweh and to Israel in Isaiah 40–55,” VT 35 (1985): 457. 41. Ibid., 453.


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and 51:5b–c, replete with salvific overtones, is the center of the pericope.42 For these reasons, and due to its coupling with “salvation,” “righteousness” means here “salvation, or deliverance.”43 According to Isa 51:5, deliverance emanates from the arm of the LORD: “The coastlands will wait for Me, even for My arm will they wait.” Whereas only Israel benefited from the nationalistic deliverance accomplished by God’s arm, this new redemption would extend to every point of the compass (Isa 51:4). To be sure, verse 5 contends that the arm also would “judge the peoples,” but this tribunal appears to be limited only to those who reject God’s benevolence. In Isa 51:6–8, the prophet underscores the eternal nature of this nation-encompassing redemption. At some point “the heavens will be dissipated like smoke, and the earth will wear out like a garment and those who dwell on it will die like gnats” (v. 6), but God’s salvation never would wane. Likewise, the works of men would deteriorate, but God’s arm would ensure that spiritual liberation would last “to all generations” (v. 8). J. Ridderbos associated the redeemer of Isa 51:4–8 with Cyrus44 since earlier chapters in Isaiah name him as God’s servant. No passage in Isaiah, however, ever calls Cyrus the arm of the LORD, for the expression always serves as “una designación de la persona divina.”45 Rather, Cyrus the messiah prefigures the work of the Messiah, whose mission would be to “deliver the world from the clutches of sin, just as Cyrus was to deliver the Israelites from the clutches of Babylon.”46

42. Frederick C. Holmgren, “Chiastic Structure in Isaiah 51:5–11,” VT 19 (1969): 197– 98. 43. John N. Oswalt, “Righteousness in Isaiah: Chapters 55–66,” in Writing and Reading the Scroll of Isaiah: Studies of an Interpretive Tradition (ed. Craig C. Broyles and Craig A. Evans; VTSup70.1; Leiden: Brill, 1997), 186. 44. J. Ridderbos, Isaiah (trans. J. Vriend; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1985), 455. 45. Enrique Farfan Navarro, El Desierto Transformado: Una Imagen Deuteroisaiana de Regeneración (AnBib 130; Rome: Editrice Pontificio Istituto Biblico, 1992), 188. Navarro’s quotation notes that the arm of the LORD always serves as “a designation for a divine [rather than a merely human] person.” 46. John N. Oswalt, The Book of Isaiah: Chapters 40–66 (NICOT; Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1980), 336.

AKERS: Development of the “Arm of the Lord” Motif


Isaiah 52:10 Isaiah 52:10 belongs to an anticipatory poem (vv. 7–10) that bears much in common with Ps 98.47 The passage speaks of a messenger “qui s’adresse à la population de Jérusalem pour lui annoncer le salut imminent apporté par Dieu.”48 The Qumran community seems to have regarded this “‘herald’ of Isa 52:7 . . . [as] a messianic figure”49 (cf. 11QMelch). The first verse of the pericope (v. 7) delineates two aspects of the message. First, the verse connects the concept of ‫“( מבשׁר‬good news”), with peace. Second, ‫ מבשׁר‬appears once more in v. 7 alongside the adjective “good,” which intensifies the force of the word. The result is that “aboundingly joyous news” flows from the lips of the herald. In the LXX εὐαγγέλιον, the NT word for “gospel,” is the translation of ‫מבשׁר‬ because the terms are semantic cognates. The watchmen appear for the first time in Isaiah in verse 8, jubilantly lifting up their voices because they will see with their own eyes the restoration of Zion. Not only will Jerusalem experience redemption (v. 9), for “all the nations” will see the salvation of God (v. 10). According to Isa 51:10, the means by which God will manifest this salvation is through the baring of his holy arm. Many scholars assume that this intriguing phrase signifies “doing battle, for in battle the soldier threw back his cloak from his right arm”50 for the purpose of “us[ing] his sword.”51 Military activity, however, is not the purpose of Isa 52:10. The baring of the arm of the LORD to the nations is soteric rather than militaristic because warrior language is absent from vv. 7–10. The sense of the passage, further, is that God’s redemption would not be limited to the descendants of Jacob. J. Ross Wagner said:

47. Tryggve N. D. Mettinger, “In Search of the Hidden Structure,” in Writing and Reading the Scroll of Isaiah: Studies of an Interpretive Tradition (ed. Craig C. Broyles and Craig A. Evans; VTSup70.1; Leiden: Brill, 1997), 151. 48. Phillippe de Robert, “Esaie 52:1–12,” ETR 52 (1977): 537. De Robert’s quotation makes reference to a messenger “who addresses the population of Jerusalem in order to announce the imminent salvation provided by God.” 49. John J. Collins, The Scepter and the Star: The Messiahs of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Other Ancient Literature (ABR; New York: Doubleday, 1995), 11. The Qumran Community added ‫“( משׁיח‬Messiah”) to their rendering of Isa 52:7 in 11QMelch. 50. Ridderbos, Isaiah, 466. 51. R. N. Whybray, Isaiah 40–66 (NCB; Greenwood, SC: Attic, 1975), 168.


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Isaiah 52:10 functions both as a summary of the first major section of Isaiah 51–55 (51:1–52:12) and as a pivotal link with the following section (52:13–53:12). The LXX reads, “And the Lord will reveal (ἀποκαλύπτω) his holy arm before all the Gentiles, and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of God.” The Arm of the LORD has been an important term for God’s saving activity [in Isa 40:10–11; 51:5, 9]. . . . The revelation of God’s saving work to the Gentiles and to the “ends of the earth” in 52:10 restates the important theme of 51:4–5 that the Gentiles and “the islands” will hope in the arm of the Lord. The reference to the Gentiles also points back to the previous mention of Gentiles in 52:5, “because of you my name continually is blasphemed among the Gentiles.” In 52:10, the Gentiles now see God’s vindication of his name as he saves his people. It also points ahead to the statement that “many Gentiles” will marvel at the Lord’s Servant (52:15) and that “proselytes” will be included among the people of God.52 Isaiah 52:10, therefore, hearkens back to God’s promise to Abraham in Gen 22:18.53 A careful reading of Isa 49:6 confirms that the arm of the LORD is not an abstract concept, but a messianic title: “[God] says, ‘It is too small a thing for You to be My Servant in order to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to cause the preserved of Israel to return; I will also make You a light to the nations in order to be My salvation to the end of the earth.’” Isaiah 49:1 supports this connection, for the Servant addresses the “islands” and the “peoples from afar,” while God bares his arm to “all the nations” and “all the ends of the earth” in 52:10. The Arm of the LORD, then, becomes an alternate title for the messianic Servant of the LORD. A difference does surface, however, when one compares Isa 49 and 52. Whereas previously the Servant explained, “In the shadow of His hand [God] has hidden Me” (Isa 49:2), the prophet declares in 52:10 that in the future God would reveal the Arm of the LORD to the entire world.

52. J. Ross Wagner, “The Heralds of Isaiah and the Mission of Paul: An Investigation of Paul’s Use of Isaiah 51–55 in Romans,” in Jesus and the Suffering Servant (ed. William H. Bellinger Jr., and William R. Farmer; Harrisburg, PA: Trinity, 1998), 217– 18. 53. “By means of your seed all of the nations will be blessed, because you obeyed My voice” (Gen 22:18). Both the apostles Peter (Acts 3:25–26) and Paul (Gal 3:16) recognized Abraham’s seed as none other than Christ.

AKERS: Development of the “Arm of the Lord” Motif


In other words, the one the LORD had hidden in past times ultimately would be revealed as God’s Messiah. For this reason, both Isa 49:13 and 52:9 contain a command to rejoice. In 49:13 the heavens, earth, and mountains break into joy because God’s people are comforted, while in 52:8–9 the “waste places of Jerusalem” celebrate the fact that God “has redeemed Jerusalem.” According to Isa 49, therefore, “the servant himself will be the Lord’s salvation to the ends of the earth,”54 an attribute applied to the arm of the LORD in Isa 52:10. Just as one rolls up his sleeve in order to reveal his bare arm, God would reveal his Messiah in due time. Isaiah 53:1 In order to appreciate the full significance of Isa 53:1, one must remember the overarching message of chapters 49–52: “God has promised to deliver his people from their alienation from him so that they can indeed become his servants to the world. Now [in Isa 52:13–53:12] he tells the means by which he proposes to effect that deliverance.”55 This redemption is made possible through the Servant of God. In Isa 52:13 God claims the Servant as his own, and this preparatory statement introduces a pericope that describes aspects of both the Servant’s ministry and the response of those who witness his work. The pronouns “he,” “his,” and “him” appear regularly through 52:13–15,56 directing the reader back to their antecedent, the Servant. In this section of Isaiah, the enigmatic nature of this messianic figure once again comes to the attention of the audience. The prophet declares in verse 15 that a mystery will be revealed to the nations that will cause the kings to “shut their mouths.” This theme appeared earlier in Isaiah in passages such as 49:2 as well as 50:6, in which “images of the servant are linked with the themes of hiddenness 54. E. R. Ekblad Jr., Isaiah’s Servant Poems According to the Septuagint: An Exegetical and Theological Study (CBET 23; Leuven: Peeters, 1999), 277. 55. Oswalt, Isaiah 40–66, 382. 56. According to the pericope: (1) “He will be exalted and lifted up”; (2) “His appearance was disfigured more than any man”; (3) “His form [was disfigured] more than the sons of man”; (4) “He will sprinkle many nations”; and (5) “Kings will shut their mouths because of Him.” The prophet Isaiah employed multiple masculine pronouns throughout this section so that his audience immediately would realize that he was continuing his discussion regarding the Servant. This deliberate device ensured that there would be no question that Isa 53 refers to the kingly, yet suffering Messiah whom the LORD promised to send in order to provide atonement for the people’s sin.


Journal for the Evangelical Study of the Old Testament 3.1

and seeing.”57 The verse at hand explains that the Arm of the LORD is the revelation to be disclosed. No masculine pronouns appear in 53:1 because the Arm of the LORD is substituted for the pronoun “him,”58 but thereafter pronouns occur with great frequency once more (vv. 2–12). This stylistic element indicates afresh that the Arm of the LORD is God’s Servant, and his mission is the soteric redemption of Jews and Gentiles alike. The implication, then, is that “the message of Isa 52:7–12 is put into effect” in 53:1.59 David J. A. Clines rightly noted that verse 1b, like verse 1a, contains “a rhetorical question expecting a negative answer.”60 This stylistic feature indicates that not only must the messianic Arm of the LORD be revealed, but that he also would be disclosed in an unexpected way that would startle observers.61 The surprise of the audience stems from two factors. The Israelites, first, were cognizant that the arm of the LORD was the instrument by which God expressed his militaristic might. The working of God’s arm against the Egyptians at the Red Sea (e.g., Exod 15:16; Deut 4:34; 5:15) had left a lasting impression on the people of God. 57. R. P. Carroll, “Blindsight and the Vision Thing,” in Writing and Reading the Scroll of Isaiah: Studies of an Interpretive Tradition (ed. Craig C. Broyles and Craig A. Evans; VTSup70.1; Leiden: Brill, 1997), 88. 58. The word ‫ זרוע‬is a feminine noun, but the gender of the term does not mean that the arm is feminine. In languages such as Hebrew, the gender of the noun is not always a case of masculinity or femininity: “It is important to understand that feminine nouns (grammatical gender) do not refer only to feminine things (natural gender) or masculine nouns only to masculine things. . . . What the gender of a Hebrew noun indicates is the pattern of inflection it will usually follow.” Gary D. Pratico and Miles van Pelt, Basics of Biblical Hebrew Grammar (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001), 29. ‫ זרוע‬is a good example of this pattern, for although it is feminine in Hebrew, its Greek equivalent (βραχιών) is masculine. The Bible recognizes both ‫ זרוע‬and βραχιών (cf. John 12:38) as messianic, demonstrating that ‫ זרוע‬possesses a grammatical rather than a natural gender. 59. N. T. Wright, “The Servant and Jesus: The Relevance of the Colloquy for the Current Quest for Jesus,” in Jesus and the Suffering Servant: Isaiah 53 and Christian Origins (ed. William H. Bellinger Jr., and William R. Farmer; Harrisburg, PA: Trinity, 1998), 293. “The arm of [the LORD] . . . is revealed according to Isa, 53:1, in and through the work of [his] Servant”. 60. David J. A. Clines, I, He, We, and They: A Literary Approach to Isaiah 53 (JSOTSup 1; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1976), 15. 61. The fulfillment of this prophecy appears in John 12:37–39a: “But though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him. This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet which he spoke: ‘LORD, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For this reason they could not believe. . . .’” (NASB)

AKERS: Development of the “Arm of the Lord” Motif


Second, in chapters previous to Isa 51:4–8 the prophet employs the arm as the conqueror of Israel’s enemies.62 To Israel’s astonishment, therefore, the Arm of the LORD “would [not] rend the heathen,”63 but would seek to redeem them (cf. Isa 52:10–53:15). Isaiah 59 The first section of Isa 59 begins with a charge against God’s people (Isa 59:1–8). Isaiah explains that their sundry problems did not stem from any failure on God’s part—the LORD’s hand was not short when it came to deliverance (Isa 59:1). Rather, the people’s hands were defiled with blood and their fingers with iniquity (Isa 59:3). The prophet Isaiah then numbers himself among the guilty (vv. 9–11) by employing the pronoun “we.” After the confession of national sin (v. 12), Isaiah describes the situation in which the people find themselves because of their iniquity (vv. 13–15a): “The absence of justice . . . gives evidence of the completeness of the breach between Israel and God.”64 In the following section (vv. 15b–16) the text declares that God’s “arm delivered salvation to Him, and [His arm’s] own righteousness upheld Him” (v. 16b). Odil Hannes Steck observed that “die eschatologische Wende Jahwes unwiderstehlich schnell kommt–man beachte schon die präteritale Formulierung der Heilsinitiative Jahwes.”65 The preterite tense of the verbs suggests that at the point at which the prophet wrote the chapter that God already had begun to take the initiative in acting to bring about redemption. In Isa 59:17–19 the prophet described the ramification of God’s work in the world, emphasizing that it would “be done with exact justice.”66 Further, God’s covenant with Israel is the heart of Isa 59:20–

62. In Isa 30:30 the LORD strikes at Assyria with his arm; the target at which God directs his arm in Isa 48:14 is the Chaldeans. 63. George A. F. Knight, Servant Theology: A Commentary on the Book of Isaiah 40– 55 (ITC; Edinburgh: Handsel, 1984), 169. 64. Daniel Kendall, “The Use of ‘Mispat’ in Isaiah 59,” ZAW 96 (1984): 399. 65. Odil Hannes Steck, “Jahwes Feinde in Jesaja 59,” BN 36 (1987): 54. An English translation of Steck’s quotation reads: “The eschatological turn of Yahweh comes irresistibly fast—note already the preterite formulation of Yahweh’s salvation initiative.” 66. J. Alec Motyer, Isaiah: An Introduction and Commentary (TOTC; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1999), 369.


Journal for the Evangelical Study of the Old Testament 3.1

21. This discussion anticipates the new covenant that Jeremiah and Ezekiel would foretell a century later.67 Isaiah 59 functions in much the same way as chapter 53, which also deals with the concepts of guilt and forgiveness. Oswalt explained: “Here, as in Isa 53, God must intervene on his people’s behalf. There, they were helpless before the guilt and alienation that their sin produced, and God’s arm intervened on their behalf, submitting to the death that was rightfully theirs and ours.”68 The authors of Sanhedrin 98a counted Isa 59:16 as a prophecy that would find fulfillment at the advent of the Messiah69 because they understood the Arm of the LORD to be the righteous messianic figure that God would send at the end of time. The point of the passage is not to suggest that “salvation had to be postponed until such time as God chose to intervene on behalf of those who turned to him,”70 but that humans are incapable of manufacturing the salvation that they so desperately need.71 This theological point is demonstrated by the past tense of the verbs in Isa 59:16–17, one of which asserts that God could find no human to intercede.72 For this reason the LORD purposed that his own arm would stand in the gap between his righteousness and mankind’s wickedness. Although the triumph of the Arm of the LORD had not yet transpired when the prophet composed the chapter, the past tense of ‫“( תושׁע‬the [arm] brought victory”) in v. 16 serves the purpose of “express[ing] what the Lord has determined upon.”73 The redemption was as good as finished in the mind of God.

67. John C. Whitcomb, “Christ’s Atonement and Animal Sacrifices in Israel,” GTJ 6 (1985): 205. 68. Oswalt, Isaiah 40–66, 528. 69. Rikki E. Watts, “Jesus’ Death, Isaiah 53, and Mark 10:45: A Crux Revisited,” in Jesus and the Suffering Servant: Isaiah 53 and Christian Origins (ed. William H. Bellinger Jr., and William R. Farmer; Harrisburg, PA: Trinity, 1998), 147. 70. Robert P. Carroll, “Eschatological Delay in the Prophetic Tradition,” ZAW 94 (1982): 56. 71. Kendall, “The Use of ‘Mispat’ in Isaiah 59,” 399. 72. See Victor P. Hamilton, “‫ ”פגע‬TWOT II, 715. Of the forty-four times that ‫ פגע‬occurs in the OT, four of these occurrences appear in the hip‘il stem, denoting the act of intercession. Two of these instances (Isa 53:12; 59:16) depict the Arm of the LORD as interceding for transgressors, a function which the NT attributes to Christ (cf. Rom 8:34; Heb 7:25). 73. Motyer, Isaiah, 368.

AKERS: Development of the “Arm of the Lord” Motif


The chapter reveals another important quality of the arm of the LORD. “Righteousness” is a major factor in the passage,74 occurring five times (Isa 59:4, 9, 14, 16, 17). In one instance the term is parallel with the arm of the LORD (cf. Isa 59:16) in order to contrast God’s righteous arm with unrighteous humanity. The chapter further intimates that somehow the righteousness of the Arm of the LORD would cancel out the iniquities of mankind, for “a Redeemer (‫גואל‬, cf. Exod 6:6) would come to Zion, and to those who would turn from transgression in Jacob” (Isa 59:20). Isaiah 63:4–5, 7–14 Isaiah 63:1–6 undoubtedly is related to Isaiah 59:15–17 as evidenced by the “strong connections of vocabulary between [the two].”75 Whereas the declaration of 59:15–17a sprang from the lips of the prophet, 63:4–8 records a direct address made by God. The chapter reinforces the importance of the previous text as well as the part that God’s arm plays in soteric redemption. Although Isa 63 begins with a reference to the vengeance of God (v. 4), the focus of verses 4–5, 7–14 is soteric. God searched for a redeemer among the people of the earth who could bring salvation and thus satisfy his vengeance, but was astonished that no one could fill the position (v. 5b). Verses 7–14 cite the exodus redemption, as well as the people’s rebellion, in order to remind the audience that God did not work on their behalf because of Israel’s righteousness, but because “of His compassion” (v. 7). In both the past and the future, the Arm of the LORD emerges as “the solitary provision of a just salvation” because redemption could be secured by no other means.76 CONCLUSION The first part of our study demonstrated that Exod 6:1–8 is of primary importance for a number of reasons. Not only does the pericope provide the blueprint for the LORD’s future dealings with Israel, Exod 6:6 is the 74. John W. Olley, “Righteousness,” The Septuagint of Isaiah: A Contextual Study (SCS 8; Missoula, MT: Scholars, 1979), 72. 75. P. A. Smith, Rhetoric and Redaction in Trito-Isaiah: The Structure, Growth and Authorship of Isaiah 56–66 (VTSup 62; Leiden: Brill 1995), 124. 76. Robert H. O’Connell, Concentricity and Continuity: The Literary Structure of Isaiah (JSOTSup 188; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, 1994), 226.


Journal for the Evangelical Study of the Old Testament 3.1

first instance in which the OT associates the word “arm” with God. In this context, the arm of the LORD delivers and redeems the people of Israel. Since this exact formula appears at least 124 times in the Hebrew text, and the phrase “arm of the LORD” occurs in numerous passages, one must regard the theme as one of the key OT theological motifs. The final part of the study examined soteriological texts from the prophetic era that make use of “arm of the LORD” terminology. The liberation of the people of Israel from Egypt by means of God’s arm served as a guarantee of their continued national deliverance in the postConquest era. Furthermore, the idea of physical deliverance provided the underpinning for the prophets’ discussion of soteriological deliverance. Interestingly, a number of texts in the book of Isaiah identified the Arm of the LORD as none other than the LORD’s anointed Servant and hence function as a messianic appellation. This theological examination of the development of the arm of the LORD motif has not exhausted the theme. Space does not allow for an analysis of the arm as Creator, Divine Warrior, King, and Judge. For the time being, the contribution of these important texts to the arm of the LORD motif must remain the purview of a future study.

[JESOT 3.1 (2014): 49–76]

MAKING SENSE OF MELCHIZEDEK (GENESIS 14:18–20) SILVIU TATU Institutul Teologic Penticostal (București, România)

Biblical criticism has debated for the last two centuries whether or not to include the Melchizedek episode (Gen 14:18–20) with the other incidents of the story in Gen 14. This article makes the case for the early integration of Melchizedek’s episode in the narrative concerning Abram recovering Lot and his properties and in the Abraham narrative cycle as a whole. In order to achieve that, several general issues had to be addressed: the integrity of the text itself with its syntactic relationships, literary genre and plot. An investigation of some particular issues follows: Melchizedek’s name, title, and actions, as well as assessing how well they fit the patriarchal context and the original plot. Since the debate is complex and multi-layered, various tools were employed: Hebrew grammar and syntax, form criticism, narrative criticism, and History of Religions. We found that, as it stands, Gen 14:18–20 is too well integrated in the story of Abraham and the fabric of its own world to need political agendas motivating its late addition as various source theories claim.


Melchizedek, Genesis 14, Abram and Melchizedek, narrative criticism, form criticism, Canaanite priesthood, Story of Abraham

INTRODUCTION Critical scholars deny the place of Gen 14:18–20 within the larger context of chapter 14 on various grounds. The abrupt appearance of Melchizedek in the story of Abraham, among other things, triggered objections to accepting this fragment as part of the original script. Although Ps 110:4 and Heb 5:6, 10; 6:4; 7:1–17 explore Melchizedek from a theological viewpoint in terms of a priesthood superior to that of Levi, it does not help to clarify his peculiarity. For this reason Melchizedek has drawn a lot of attention among interpreters, despite the fact that he is a transitory character in the patriarchal narratives. The variety of interpretations he has received throughout the centuries stand


Journal for the Evangelical Study of the Old Testament 3.1

as proof of the extent of interest Melchizedek has generated. Some have identified him with the patriarch Shem,1 while Philo found room both for a literal interpretation of Melchizedek as a human figure and a non-literal interpretation of Melchizedek as the Logos.2 Jerome followed Hebrews in preferring to see the Logos in the person of Melchizedek.3 In Qumranic and Gnostic literature he was seen as an angelic figure.4 Similarly, Rabbi Isaac identifies one of the four blacksmiths in Zechariah with Melchizedek.5 More recently, some scholars have denied his historicity altogether, taking Melchizedek as only a mythical figure.6 This article assesses the details that Gen 14 offers about Melchizedek, investigates the solutions currently expressed in the debate, and proposes an integrative explanation of this character in the context of comparative literature, utilizing the tools of literary criticism. Once a resolution is reached, its implications can be drawn both in dating the text and in establishing the context of its writing, as well as in its relationship with the canonical literature, particularly with Ps 110 and 1. Rabbi Ishmael quoted in the Babylonian Talmud b. Nedarim 32b; Epiphanius, cited by Ephrem the Syrian in Commentary on Genesis 11.2, claimed that the Samaritans saw this connection as well. For the polemic context that might have generated Rabbi Ishmael’s assertion, see J.J. Petuchowski, “The Controversial Figure of Melchizedek,” HUCA 28 (1957): 127–36. 2. Philo, Leg., 3.79–82. 3. Jerome, Epistle LXIII, Heb 5:5–10, 7:1–3. 4. Qumranic texts include 11Q13, 11Q17, 4Q401, 2 En.. 71:2, and relevant Gnostic texts from Nag Hammadi such as Melchizedek, Pistis Sophia, fragment 52 found at Deir El-Bala’izah. For an evaluation of the interpretation of Melchizedek in Gnostic literature, see F. L. Horton, Jr., The Melchizedek Tradition: A Critical Examination of the Sources to the Fifth Century A.D. and in the Epistle to the Hebrews (SNTSMS 30; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976), 131–52; B. A. Pearson, Gnosticism, Judaism, and Egyptian Christianity (SAC; Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 1990), 108–23; Anders Aschim, “Melchizedek the Liberator: An Early Interpretation of Genesis 14?” SBL Seminar Papers 35 (1996): 243–58; James R. Davila, “Melchizedek, Michael, and War in Heaven,” SBL 1996 Seminar Papers 35 (1996): 259–72. 5. The other three were Elijah, Messiah, and the war priest. See James Kugel, Traditions of the Bible: A Guide to the Bible As It Was At the Start of the Common Era (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998), 276–93. 6. John van Seters, Abraham in History and Tradition (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1975), 296–308; M. Bodinger, “L’énigme de Melkisédeq,” Revue de l’histoire de Religions 211 (1994): 299ff.; T. L. Thompson, The Historicity of the Patriarchal Narrative: The Quest for the Historical Abraham (BZAW 33; Berlin: de Gruyter, 1974), 187–90.

TATU: Making Sense of Melchizedek


Heb 7. In other words, the topic has reverberations in the fields of exegesis, hermeneutics, and the history of the text, though these implications are not the concern of the current article. We start off by displaying the text and discussing its syntactic relationships. The following investigation of the literary genre and the narrative’s plot will help to assess the clues that we can find to better integrate the text into the larger context of Gen 14. Finally, we will turn to Melchizedek’s name, title, and actions to determine how well they fit the patriarchal context and the original plot. THE TEXT ‫מלכי־צדק מלך שׁלם הוציא לחם ויין‬ ‫והוא כהן לאל עליון׃‬ ‫ויברכהו‬ ‫ויאמר‬ ‫ברוך אברם לאל עליון‬ ‫קנה שׁמים וארץ׃‬ ‫וברוך אל עליון‬ ‫אשׁר־מגן צריך בידך‬


(b) 19 (a) (b) (c) 20

‫ויתן־לו מעשׂר מכל׃‬

(a) Melchizedek, king of Shalem,

(d) (a) (b) (c)

brought bread and wine. He was a priest of ‘El-’Elyon. He blessed him and said, “May Abram be blessed by ‘El’Elyon, The Maker of heaven and earth. May ‘El-’Elyon be blessed. He delivered your enemies into your hands.” He gave him a tenth of everything.

The layout above highlights the clauses and the relationships between them. Thus, to the traditional verse number some lowercase letters have been added to divide each verse into its corresponding clauses (a, b, c, d). Clauses that are not part of the main narrative line, such as direct description (v. 18b) and direct speech (vv. 19c–20b) are indented. Despite its many contradictory interpretations, the text under scrutiny displays a clear textual reception. There are no manuscripts to suggest a variant, although there have been speculative suggestions to emend the text. THE TEXTURE The passage displays two types of literary forms: narrative and nonnarrative. This delimitation is made plain mainly by means of verbal forms and parallelism of thought. Of the eight clauses in the text, five have a finite verb, but only four of these are part of the storyline (three wayyiqtol’s [19a, 19b, 20c] and a qatal integrated in a waw-x-qatal


Journal for the Evangelical Study of the Old Testament 3.1

construction [18a]). The other one (20b) is integrated in the poetic lines of the benediction. Clause 18b is a verbless identification clause. The non-narrative text is announced properly as direct speech by means of a quotative frame consisting of two meta-pragmatic verbs deriving from the roots ‫ ברך‬and ‫( אמר‬19a, 19b). Its lines are organized according to the principles of correspondence common with poetical parallelism of thought. In this case the repetition of the verb (qal passive participle ‫ברך‬, 19c, 20a) and the name of God (‘El-’Elyon, 19c, 20a) further support the parallelism. Horton thinks that the poetic structure of the double benediction is not perfect due to its inexact parallelism.7 But this could be alternative parallelism, as Gray proposed earlier,8 or an ABA’C quatrain as Watson more recently defined it.9 Due to the repeated material, lines A (19c) and A’ (20a) are almost identical with the exception of the name Abram which is missing in A’ and the lamed fronting the name of God in line A. Examples of verses with alternative parallelism can be found among those generally accepted as ancient Hebrew poetry (Exod 15:6, 16b; Judg 5:26b with a second reconstructed ‘Sisera’). GATTUNG In terms of Gattung, suggestions vary from cultic saying,10 ancient chant,11 blessing,12 Midrash on Ps 110:4,13 to liturgical doxology.14 7. Horton, The Melchizedek Tradition, 16. 8. G. B. Gray, The Forms of Hebrew Poetry: Considered with Special Reference to the Criticism and Interpretation of the Old Testament (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1972), 62–64. 9. W. G. E. Watson, Classical Hebrew Poetry: A Guide to Its Techniques (JSOTSup 26; Sheffield: JSOT, 1984), 185–87. 10. O. Eissfeldt, The Old Testament: An Introduction (Oxford: Basil Blackwells, 1965), 75. 11. A. Causse, Les plus vieux chants de la Bible (Etudes d’histoire et de philosophie religieuses publiees par la faculte de theologie protestante de l’universite de Strasbourg 14; Paris: Alcan, 1926), 18. 12. John Skinner, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Genesis (ICC; Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1910), 269 13. H. H. Rowley, “Melchizedek and Zadok (Gen 14 and Ps 110),” in Festschrift für Alfred Bertholet (ed. Walter Baumgartner, et. al.; Tübingen: Mohr, 1950), 461.

TATU: Making Sense of Melchizedek


Mitchell includes this blessing in the category of “benedictions of praise and congratulations” among other optative benedictions uttered by humans for their fellow humans.15 Among the word roots used to express blessing/cursing, the root ‫ ברך‬is more frequent in the OT, Hebrew inscriptions, and manuscripts than all the other roots combined.16 Three of the occurrences are found in Gen 14:18–20 alone. Benedictions are optative utterances by which humans call upon God to bless a person, and the words have nothing magic in them.17 Aitken too concludes his study on the verb ‫ ברך‬saying that when it has “both a human subject and a human object, it denotes the expressing of the favour conferred on the person by God.”18 Melchizedek’s words of blessing affirm that God will continue to bless Abram, as he did when he was on his side in war.19 Both form and content qualify the utterance in Gen 14:18–20 as a blessing. It is obvious that Melchizedek’s blessing has two parts, one addressed to Abram (19cd), the other to God (20ab). They are better analyzed as distinct blessings. However, is such a literary form located closer to the more transparent end of the literary spectrum (narrative) or closer to its opaque end (poetry)? In order to reach a final conclusion, several texts must first be surveyed. Deborah’s praise for Jael in Judg 5:24 comes closest to the first part of Melchizedek’s blessing (19cd). In Judg 5 (arguably one of the oldest poems in the Bible) the verb form is different (pual imperfect instead of passive participle), the verse comprises three poetic lines, instead of two, and the name of God is not invoked. The feature they share, though, is the second line expanding on the identity of the

______________________________________________________ 14. Van Seters, Abraham in History and Tradition, 302. 15. C. W. Mitchell, The Meaning of BRK “to Bless” in the Old Testament (SBLDS 95; Atlanta: Scholars, 1987), 115–18. 16. Computing Aitken’s statistics for each verb and noun from the same root, see J. K. Aitken, The Semantics of Blessing and Cursing in Ancient Hebrew (ANE Studies Supplement 23; Louvain: Peeters, 2007). 17. Horton, The Melchizedek Tradition, 168–69. 18. Aitken, Semantics, 116. Since in Rabbinic Hebrew, and even in some Biblical Hebrew texts, it can also mean “curse” when it has God as an object, it can be deduced that this is a late development. See 1 Kgs 21:10, 13; Job 1:5, 11; Prov 30:11, possibly Deut 33:11, Pss 10:3; 62:5; 109:28; Job 2:5, 9 (Aitken, Semantics, 114). 19. Mitchell, The Meaning of BRK, 116.


Journal for the Evangelical Study of the Old Testament 3.1

character mentioned. Note that the poet of Judg 5 recalls the first line by repeating it almost identically in the third line (a b c // c’ // b d a). ‫ברוך אברם לאל עליון‬ ‫קנה שׁמים וארץ׃‬ (Gen 14:19b)

‫תברך מנשׁים יעל‬ ‫אשׁת חבר הקיני‬ ‫מנשׁים באהל תברך׃‬ (Judg 5:24)

The same verb root is identified in two fragmentary blessings found on jars unearthed in the remains of the caravanserai from Kuntillet ‘Ajrud (8th cent. B.C.). The inscription on the first one reads, “w . . . brkt.’tkm / lyhwh.smrn.wl’srth,” meaning “I bless you before Yahweh of Samaria and his Asherah.” Although the verb is finite, notice the preposition lamed preceding the divine name. Another blessing found on the second jar reads, “[‘]mr / ‘mryw / ‘mr l.’dn[y] / hslm.’t/brktk.l[y] / hwh tmn / wl’srth.yb / rk.wysmrk / wyhy’m.’d[n] / y[ . . . / k [ . . . This means, “Thus says Amaryau: Say to my lord: Is it well with you? I bless you before Yahweh of Teman and his Asherah. May He bless you and keep you and be with my lord . . .” Again, the name of the deity invoked as giver of the blessing is preceded by a lamed. The third blessing is too fragmentary for our current purposes.20 The blessing found in Ps 115:15 is closer to Gen 14:19cd, both in form and content, although it also displays several original features: the recipient is plural, the verb that describes God is ‫ עשׂה‬not ‫קנה‬, and ‫יהוה‬ replaces ‫ עליון אל‬as the name of God. The more recent poem did not employ the archaic elements with good reason. ‫ברוך אברם לאל עליון‬ ‫קנה שׁמים וארץ׃‬ (Gen 14:19b)

‫ברוכים אתם ליהוה‬ ‫עשׂה שׁמים וארץ׃‬ (Ps 115:15)

Blessing God as an expression of joyous satisfaction for God’s acts on behalf of the believer can be found not only in Genesis, but in other biblical texts as well. Noah’s blessing for Shem (Gen 9:26) is forged on an unusual pattern, having the second line cast out with a jussive.21 Thus, the second line does not recall past deeds of God in 20. Othmar Keel and Cristoph Uehlinger, Gods, Goddesses, and Images of God in Ancient Israel (trans. Thomas H. Trapp; Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 1998), 225–27. 21. Horton mentioned Gen 9:26 but did not expand on it (The Melchizedek Tradition, 117).

TATU: Making Sense of Melchizedek


relation to his enemies, as in Gen 14, but is optative about future dealings with them. A more concise formula is preferred in greetings (cf. 1 Sam 15:13). ‫וברוך אל עליון‬ ‫אשׁר־מגן צריך בידך‬ (Gen 14:20)

‫ברוך יהוה אלהי שׁם‬ ‫ויהי כנען עבר למו׃‬ (Gen 9:26)

Other blessings make use of the relative pronoun as in Genesis 14:20, and follow the same structure: BLESSED > DIVINE NAME > RELATIVE PARTICLE > DIVINE DEED. ‫ברוך יהוה אלהי אדני אברהם‬ ‫אשׁר לא־עזב חסדו ואמתו מעם אדני‬ (Gen 24:27) ‫ברוך יהוה‬ ‫אשׁר הציל אתכם מיד מצרים ומיד פרעה‬ ‫אשׁר הציל את־העם מתחת יד־מצרים׃‬ ( Exod 18:10) ‫ברוך יהוה אלהי ישׂראל‬ ‫אשׁר שׁלחך היום הזה לקראתי׃‬ ‫וברוך טעמך וברוכה את‬ ‫אשׁר כלתני היום הז ׅה מבוא בדמים והשׁע ידי לי׃‬ (1 Sam 25:32–33) ‫ברוך יהוה‬ ‫אשׁר רב את־ריב חרפתי מיד נבל‬ ‫ואת־עבדו חשׂך מרעה‬ ‫ואת רעת נבל השׁיב יהוה בראשׁו׃‬ (1 Sam 25:39) ‫ברוך יהוה אלהיך‬ ‫אשׁר סגר את־האנשׁים אשׁר־נשׂאו את־ידם באדני‬ ‫המלך׃‬ (2 Sam 18:28) It appears from the above examples, and from the many other occurrences of such similar utterances (Ruth 4:14; 2 Sam 22:47; 1 Kgs 1:48; 5:21; 8:15, 56; 10:9; 2 Chr 2:11; 6:4; 9:8; Ps 66:20), that “blessing” God required a reason expressed by means of a clause introduced by a relative pronoun. This ‫ אשׁר‬though could be interpreted as having an


Journal for the Evangelical Study of the Old Testament 3.1

asseverative function only. Surprisingly, none of the above blessings has two verbs in their respective quotative frames, as Melchizedek’s utterance does.22 The two blessings Melchizedek issues have distinct forms that qualify them as rather prosaic utterances, barely poetic, if at all, or as cultic utterances with a poetic ring. Therefore, the criteria for ancient poetry (parallelism, paronomasia, mixed meter) do not help the researcher in this case to discuss and decide on matters of its date.23 The absence of the relative pronoun in authentic old Hebrew poetry and its rarity in formal poetry24 are evidence against this being taken as a poetical form. It is best to take it as a prose form.25 At any rate, the two blessings could well stand in for a complex ritual that took place in the real procedures of Abram’s meeting with Melchizedek. THE PLOT After tracking Abram’s able men in their northern campaign, away from the Siddim Valley and the peaceful and comfortable environment of Mamre, the plot returns to another valley. The old Valley of Shaveh, known also as King’s Valley, witnesses the emergence of two unexpected characters, the king of Sodom and Melchizedek, king of Shalem and priest of ‘El-’Elyon. Abram gives attention to the king-priest first. It was honourable to do so, because the king of Shalem brought gifts, whereas the king of Sodom had only requests.26 Some scholars doubt the unity of the plot. For Hermann Gunkel, the style of Gen 14 is mixed, mingling ancient history and legend, and he 22. For terminology and examples see Cynthia Miller, The Representation of Speech in Biblical Hebrew Narrative: A Linguistic Analysis (HSM 55; Atlanta: Scholars, 1996). 23. For more grammatical, lexical and stylistic characteristics of archaic Hebrew poetry, see W. F. Albright, “A Catalogue of Early Hebrew Lyric Poems (Psalm 68),” HUCA 23 (1950–51): 1–39; F. M. Cross and D. N. Freedman, Studies in Ancient Yahwistic Poetry (Biblical Resource; Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1975), 5–8, 32. 24. Gesenius-Kautzsch, Hebrew Grammar, §2s. 25. Cross and Freedman, Studies in Ancient Yahwistic Poetry, 19; D. N. Freedman, Pottery, Poetry, and Prophecy: Studies in Early Hebrew Poetry (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1980), 2–3. 26. G. J. Wenham, Genesis 1–15 (WBC 1; Waco, TX: Word, 1987), 315. Emerton does not take the reply of the king of Sodom as discourteous, just for being laconic (J. A. Emerton, “Some Problems in Genesis XIV,” in Studies in the Pentateuch [ed. J. A. Emerton; VTSup 41; Leiden: Brill, 1990], 82).

TATU: Making Sense of Melchizedek


catalogued it for that reason as “an incipient historical scholarship.”27 Margalith expects that a legend should not have “a well-constructed plot, but rather a badly-cobbled medley of episodes dimly remembered from past traditions.”28 The variety of genres, noticed by other authors, has been interpreted as proof of multiple editorial interventions.29 Emerton believes that verses 18–20 were a later interpolation from David’s time because they interrupt the natural flow of the story, introducing Melchizedek after announcing Bera’s arrival on the scene. 30 One should see verses 1–11 functioning as exposition for the whole narrative in Gen 14. This exposition is not unparalleled among the narratives in the Abraham Cycle, if Gen 11:27b–32 is accepted as part of the narrative of Abram’s calling. There, too, the reader is given many details on the main characters of the story, as well as on some secondary characters. Thus, the story in Gen 14 loses its punch and its climax if verses 1–11 are not part of the original narrative. As it stands, Abram’s battle is told third, after the Mesopotamian campaign in the Transjordan and the battle of the plain. This fits with a triadic pattern the Hebrews preferred.31 It is to be noted that the role of Melchizedek in the plot is secondary. Even in relation to the king of Sodom, Melchizedek is secondary. The rebellion of the cities of the plain (Sodom included) prompted the Mesopotamian campaign, and Lot was a citizen of Sodom. Since the author follows the main conflict between Abram and the king of Sodom, the secondary details do not receive the same attention. The brief appearance of Melchizedek in the story allows both the narrator and the reader to stay with the main character and the main theme of Gen 14– 15, namely Abram’s attitude toward earned goods. Such a function of the new character is called topicalization. The device of switching attention onto Melchizedek immediately after announcing the entry of the king of Sodom in verse 17, only to have 27. Hermann Gunkel, Genesis (trans. M. E. Biddle; Macon, GA: Mercer, 1997), 289. 28. Similar legends would be Parsifal, Siegfrid, and Wilhelm Tell (Othniel Margalith, “The Riddle of Genesis 14 and Melchizedek,” ZAW 112 [2000]: 501–8; 504–5). 29. Claus Westermann takes the introduction (vv. 1–11) as report, and verses 12–17, 21–24 as narrative, leaving aside verses 18–20 as an inserted episode (Genesis 12–36: A Commentary [Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg, 1981], 190–92). 30. J. A. Emerton, “The Riddle of Genesis XIV,” VT 21 (1971): 407–8; idem, “Some Problems,” 78, 91. 31. Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 307. Emerton (“Some Problems,” 83) is not ready to accept the validity of this argument for a unity between verse 17 and verses 18–20.


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the king addressing Abram subsequently in verse 21, is meant to express simultaneity. In other words, while the king of Sodom was initiating the contact with Abram, Melchizedek’s cortège approached Abram. Sodom’s king was witness to all that took place between Abram and Melchizedek. Wenham explains the recall of the king of Sodom as a literary strategy of cohesion, holding together verse 17 with verses 18–20 by means of a chiasm, A: king of Sodom comes > B: Melchizedek brings > B’: Melchizedek speaks > A’: king of Sodom speaks.32 Alongside the chiasm, there are other elements of coherence that bind together verses 18–20 to the immediate context. The repetition of apparently redundant material for the purpose of simultaneity, known as “resumptive repetition” is one of these features.33 In Gen 14:17–21, the repetition of the phrase “king of Sodom” is necessary to ensure the reader does not confuse this character with Melchizedek after his intervention in the plot. A narrative mainline does not need to specify explicitly the subject with every verb, especially if the subject does not change or is understood from the context. This is exactly what happens in Gen 14 with the verbs referring to the invading kings (vv. 5–7, 11–12), the kings of the Canaanite Pentapolis (vv. 3–4), and Abram (vv. 14–16). The fact that the phrase “king of Sodom” is stated again in verse 21 is by itself a sign that this story had included the Melchizedek episode from its very beginning. One wishes that a similar clarification had been in place for the otherwise ambiguous clause in verse 20c. Another resumptive repetition, though on a larger scale, is found in Gen 14 when the name of the combative kings is given again (vv. 8–9) following several details on the military campaign of the Mesopotamian coalition (vv. 5–7). Although the main items are taken up in verses 8–9, there are three main differences.34 First, the names of Canaanite kings are truncated; when repeated they all look like the anonymous king of Bela, without their respective personal names. The author could have opted for this possibility to anticipate their tragic end by depersonalizing them. Second, the author changed the order of the kings in his list. By giving priority to the Canaanite kings, the order of the two groups of kings in

32. Ibid., 315. 33. Shemaryahu Talmon, Literary Studies in the Hebrew Bible: Form and Content (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1993), 112–33, mainly 122ff. 34. For repetitions with variation see Meir Sternberg, The Poetics of Biblical Narrative: Ideological Literature and the Drama of Reading (Indiana Studies in Biblical Literature; Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1987), 390–93.

TATU: Making Sense of Melchizedek


verses 1–2 is reversed and allows switching the focus of the reader from the marauders to the patriots.35 The names of the Mesopotamian kings are reversed as well (D E B C), although the repetition is verbatim in their case. Third, the author employed repetition only after unexpected grammatical transformations. By that we do not mean replacing the introductory formula with a finite verb because that was expected. The renewed focus on the Canaanite kings required a proper active verb to describe their involvement in the war (A’). Most significant is the change from the very concise “they made war” (F) to a more detailed “they waged war against them in the Siddim Valley” (F’). Thus, a clearer sense of confrontation and a location are provided. The new rendering has a new addition as well, “four kings against five,” which underlines the possible odds of the outcome, which, after the account of the successful campaign in Transjordan and the depersonalization of the Canaanite kings, has only one possible reason: to postpone obvious conclusions. ‫ ויהי בימי‬A

‫ ויצא‬A’

‫ אמרפל מלך־שׁנער‬B

‫ מלך־סדם‬G’

‫ אריוך מלך אלסר‬C

‫ ומלך עמרה‬H’

‫ כדרלעמר מלך עילם‬D

‫ ומלך אדמה‬I’

‫ ותדעל מלך גוים׃‬E ‫ עשׂו מלחמה‬F

‫ ומלך צביים‬J’ ‫ ומלך בלע הוא־צער‬K

‫ את־ברע מלך סדם‬G

‫ ויערכו אתם מלחמה בעמק השׂדים׃‬F’

‫ ואת־ברשׁה מלך עמרה‬H

‫ את כדרלעמר מלך עילם‬D

‫ שׁנאב מלך אדמה‬I

‫ ותדעל מלך גוים‬E

‫ ושׁמאבר מלך צביים‬J

‫ ואמרפל מלך שׁנער‬B

‫ ומלך בלע היא־צער׃‬K

‫ ואריוך מלך אלסר‬C

(Gen 14:1–2)

‫ ארבעה מלכים את־החמשׁה׃‬L (Gen 14:8–9)

The general purpose of repeating such a large piece of the story is to reconnect the plot after the description of the Transjordanian

35. Wenham noticed the chiastic reproduction of the kings, Mesopotamian > Canaanite > Canaanite > Mesopotamian, but did not integrate the switching of the Mesopotamian kings (Genesis 1–15, 305).


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campaign intruded, altering the chronology of the story (i.e., dischronologization). Repeating the phrase “king of Sodom” (v. 21) without giving his name follows the plot closely (he is anonymous on his second occurrence). It was necessary to repeat the phrase for clarity (making clear who is the subject), since the intrusive appearance of Melchizedek (simultaneity) might have directed the reader to take the king of Sodom for Melchizedek. Such a strategy bespeaks honest narrative artistry and not unscrupulous political maneuvering of texts. Next to the previously mentioned features of inner coherence of the story, one could follow Mathews in identifying verbal and thematic connectors linking Gen 14 to the surrounding chapters.36 Thus, Abram’s march to the most northern end of the country in pursuit of Lot (14:14) is seen as a fulfillment of God’s command to travel across Canaan (13:17). Abram is camped at Mamre’s oaks (14:13), where the story left him at the end of the previous narrative (13:18). His conflict with Kedorlaomer of Shinar is an expression of the ancient conflict between the descendents of Shem and those of Ham, whose main representative is Nimrod, the founder of Babel and Assyria according to Gen 10:9–12, thus the archenemy of Abram’s descendants. At Babel, humanity built a tower from bricks and bitumen (11:3), the latter being one of the economical assets of Sodom and Gomorrah (14:10), most likely the cause that sparked the war.37 Abram’s victory over the foreign coalition of kings comes as a fulfillment of God’s promise to give him international fame and use him by blessing others through him (12:1–3). Both the Amorite allies of Abram and the kings of Canaan, Melchizedek included, are blessed with riches due to Abram’s successful campaign. Several comments concerning Lot and Sodom at the end of chapter 13 anticipate the events of chapter 14. Thus, Zoar is another name for Bela (13:10; 14:2, 8; 19:22), Lot approached Sodom (13:11–12) only to settle there eventually (14:12), and the people of Sodom and Gomorrah are described as evil (‫ ;רעים‬13:13), and wicked (‫ ;רשׁעים‬18:23, 25). The kings of these cities

36. J. G. Mathews’ recent monograph Melchizedek’s Alternative Priestly Order: A Compositional Analysis of Genesis 14:18–20 and its Echoes Throughout the Tanak (BBRS 8; Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2013) investigates the Melchizedek episode intertextually seeking reasons for the original inclusion of the episode into the narrative of Genesis 14 in order to prove that the Hebrew Bible exploited the theme to promote an alternative priesthood to that of Aaron. 37. Ibid., 54–58.

TATU: Making Sense of Melchizedek


have names that play on these very adjectives: ‫ ברע‬of Sodom and ‫ ברשׁע‬of Gomorrah (14:2).38 As for the connections to chapter 15, Mathews speaks of several plays on words, the first of which is between the verb “to deliver” (14:20) and the noun “shield” (15:1), whose roots are built on the same consonants (‫)מגן‬.39 God promised Abram a reward (‫ ;שׁכר‬15:1), a term that is made by reversing the consonants of “possession” (‫ ;רכשׁ‬14:11, 12, 16, 21),40 a term reiterated in 15:14.41 Another wordplay is identified between the noun for “help” (‫ )עזר‬in Eliezer’s name and the one for seed (‫ ;זרע‬15:3, 5, 13, 18). The connection to chapter 14 comes in the form of a gematria, since Eliezer’s numerical value is 318, exactly the number of armed slaves Abram prepared to pursue the Mesopotamians.42 Two more wordplays link Melchizedek’s name and title to Abram’s faith, which was credited to him as righteousness (‫ ;צדקה‬15:6) and resulted in a life that ended in peace (‫ ;שׁלום‬15:15).43 One theme stands out as binding together not only Abram’s life but the patriarchal narratives as well, namely “possessions.” Abram left Haran with all his possessions (12:5), took refuge in Egypt with them, and returned to Canaan having more (13:1–2), only to be separated from Lot because they had too much (13:6). Abram pursued the Mesopotamians to retrieve all the possessions of Lot and the kings of Canaan (14:11–12). The same pattern is evident in the story of Jacob, who sojourned in Padan-Aram, Canaan, and Egypt only to become richer in cattle (31:18; 32:5; 46:6; 47:4, 27). The term for “cattle” (‫)מקנה‬ provides another wordplay with the verb “to acquire” (‫)קנה‬, from whence

38. Ibid., 58–60. 39. Ibid., 61, following G. W. Coats, Genesis (FOTL 1; Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1983), 123; G. Granerød, Abraham and Mechizedek: Scribal Activity of Second Temple Times in Genesis 14 and Psalm 110 (BZAW 406; Berlin: de Gruyter, 2010), 75; and K. A. Mathews, Genesis 11:27–50:26 (NAC 1B; Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 2005), 158, 163. 40. Mathews, Melchizedek’s Alternative, 62. 41. Coats, Genesis, 123. Coats adds the verb “to go out,” he noticed to be used in 14:17, 18 but in 15:4, 5, 7, 14 as well. 42. Mathews, Melchizedek’s Alternative, 66–68. Whether the original author intended it or knew gematria at all is difficult to prove. 43. Ibid., 70–71.


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the participle ‫ קנה‬used in reference to God comes (14:19, 22).44 One can conclude that there are plenty of reasons to see the narrative in chapter 14 as well built, displaying features of coherence not only to its own plot, but also to the main story of Abraham and the patriarchal narratives. It is safe to say that the final form of the narrative in chapter 14 is the work of one mind, well aware of the biographical highlights of Abraham’s life. MELCHIZEDEK: WHAT IS IN THE NAME? During the last two centuries, as the hypotheses for the origin and function of the Melchizedek text in Gen 14 multiplied, the interpretation of Melchizedek’s name revealed aspects that were unknown before or considered of little importance. Several questions that sprang out of those critical interactions follow: How is one to understand the compound proper name made of two nouns in juxtaposition? What is the purpose of the hireq after the noun ‫ ?מלך‬Is this a nominal-sentence name or a compound name? Is Melchizedek a theophoric name? How does ‫מלך שׁלם‬ relate to ‫?מלכי־צדק‬ In order to define the meaning of ‫מלכי־צדק‬, one has to explain the hireq after ‫מלך‬. Layton identified four possible explanations: (1) pronominal suffix, (2) it signals a gentilic adjective, (3) hypocoristic suffix, and (4) hireq compaginis, nothing more than an archaic connector. Options (2) and (3) are not applicable to our context because they require a noun in an absolute state, not in construct, as is the case with ‫מלך‬.45 Whereas Layton decided reluctantly that hireq functions as a pronominal suffix here, Joüon & Muraoka are certain that it is rather a hireq compaginis.46 Waltke & O’Connor presented the hireq as indicating a genitive singular, a remnant of the old case system.47

44. Ibid., 62–65. 45. Scott C. Layton, Archaic Features of Canaanite Personal Names in the Hebrew Bible (HSM 47; Atlanta: Scholars, 1990), 118–21. 46. See B. K. Waltke and M. P. O’Connor, An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax (Winona Lane, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1990), §93 l, m. Evidence of compound names built by means of hireq compaginis were not found at Ugarit though, mainly because Ugaritic alphabet does not have a sign for it. Cf. Richard S. Hess, “The Onomastics of Ugarit,” in Handbook of Ugaritic Studies (ed. W. G. E. Watson and N. Wyatt; Leiden: Brill, 1999), 507. 47. Waltke & O’Connor, Hebrew Syntax, §8.2.c.

TATU: Making Sense of Melchizedek


This matter is further connected to the interpretation of the relationship between the two nouns in the name. If it is not just a compound name, ‫ מלכי־צדק‬should be taken as a nominal-sentence name. Various ancient authorities—Hebrews, Philo, and Josephus being among them—preferred to translate the name Melchizedek as “king of justice.”48 If the character bearing the name ‫ מלכי־צדק‬in some fragmentary manuscripts from Qumran (4Q180, 4Q181, 4Q’Amram, and 4Q280)49 is indeed the opponent of ‫מלכי־רשׁע‬, translated as “king of wickedness,” it follows that Melchizedek should be translated as “king of justice” even in the manuscripts from Qumran.50 This rendering assumes a hireq compaginis. Layton prefers the rendering “my king is Zedek,” because he believes that this option reflects better the religious context that might have originated the name.51 This was the preferred interpretation in Gunkel’s day as well.52 Horton takes the compound name as a throne name, built as a construct relationship, but its interpretation is different altogether: “Zedek’s king.”53 Rosenberg reads the god Zedek everywhere the term ‫ צדק‬appears in the Hebrew Bible, not only in narrative texts, but in prophetic texts as well.54 All the above interpretations, though, are based on the as yet unproved assumption that there was a god bearing this name who was worshipped in Jerusalem as well as in other parts of Canaan, or that Zedek was a well-known divine epithet. To pretend that only some divine attributes stand for the name of homonymic gods could

48. Βασιλεὺς δίκαιος in Antiquities I 10,2 (§180–1). 49. 11QMelch is also useful for the presence of Melchizedek although his opponent is Belial. See J. T. Milik, “Milkî-sedeq et Milkî-resa’ dans les anciens écrits juifs et chréttiens,” JJS 23 (1972): 95–144; and Paul J. Kobelski, Melchizedek and Melchiresha’ (CBQMS 10; Washington, D.C.: Catholic Biblical Association of America, 1981). 50. Kobelski (Melchizedek and Melchiresha’, 56) is ready to accept this translation only as a popular variant that eventually superseded the original cultic one (“Zedek is my king”). 51. See Layton, Archaic Features, 107–54 on hireq compaginis, and 139–40 for Melchizedek’s name. 52. Hermann Gunkel, Genesis (3rd ed.; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1910), 285. 53. Horton, The Melchizedek Tradition, 42–43 54. R. A. Rosenberg, “The God Tsedeq,” HUCA, 36 (1965): 161–77.


Journal for the Evangelical Study of the Old Testament 3.1

have been a practice in antiquity, but who decides what divine attributes do not follow this practice, since Yahweh is described by many?55 “Zedeq” as an epithet is easier to accept than a divine name among scholars of ancient Ugarit. Wyatt takes the noun as a divine epithet only, rendered as “noble god” (KTU 1.108 R:1–3a),56 and makes no mention of such a deity when he speaks of the Ugaritic pantheon.57 The parallelism between ‫ צדק‬and ‫שׁלם‬, functioning as fixed word-pairs in Hebrew poetry (Isa 1:26; 32:17; 48:18; 60:17), as well as in Ugaritic poetry, is long attested.58 But the term ‫ צדק‬is also parallel with ‫תמים‬,59 and as far as we know no one looked for such a god. Moreover, the term ‫צדק‬ appears in the Ugaritic literature in connection with other nouns (e.g., att—“wife,” b’l—“husband, lord,” and mlk—“king”) and it is advised that one render the phrase as “legitimate/lawful wife/husband/lord.”60 This interpretation makes use of the hendiadys principle, when two nouns are coordinated to express another concept. Layton provides other examples of compound names constructed by juxtaposing a common noun to a proper noun denoting a place: ‫נחליאל‬ (Num 21:19), and ‫( אדמי הנקב‬Josh 19:33), as well as the throne name ‫אדני־‬ ‫ בזק‬meaning “lord of Bezeq” (Judg 1:5–7).61 In these cases Layton accepts the construct relationship as the sufficient explanation of the relationship between the two nouns. Consequently, it is possible to render ‫ מלכי־צדק‬as “king of Zedek” where the proper noun stands for a location or a divinity (possessive genitive). If ‫ מלכי־צדק‬is not a compound clause, but a nominal-sentence name, what type of nominal verbless clause qualifies it? In a 55. Ahuva Ho, Sedeq and Sedeqah in the Hebrew Bible (American University Studies VII; Theology and Religion 78; New York: Peter Lang, 1991), 43–45. 56. N. Wyatt, Religious Texts from Ugarit: The Words of Ilimilku and his Colleagues (Biblical Seminar, 53; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, 1998), 395. 57. N. Wyatt, “The Religion of Ugarit: An Overview,” in Handbook of Ugaritic Studies (ed. W. G. E. Watson and N. Wyatt; Leiden: Brill, 1999), 528–85. 58. W. G. E. Watson, “Fixed Pairs in Ugaritic and Isaiah,” VT 22 (1972): 464. 59. W. G. E. Watson, Classical Hebrew Poetry: A Guide to Its Techniques (JSOTSup 26; Sheffield: JSOT, 1984), 327. 60. See KTU 2.81: 2, 11, 20, 31. Cf. Gregorio del Olmo Lete and Joaquin Sanmartin, A Dictionary of the Ugaritic Language in the Alphabetic Tradition (Handbook of Oriental Studies: Section 1, The Near and Middle East 67; trans. W. G. E. Watson; Leiden: Brill, 2003), 779. 61. Layton, Archaic Features, 117.

TATU: Making Sense of Melchizedek


classification clause, an entity qualifies another (most likely an adjective), and the nominal predicate precedes the subject. In an identification clause, an entity is identified with another, and the subject comes before the nominal predicate.62 The interplay of the subjectnominal predicate is important in these circumstances. Identification clause (Gen 6:9) Classification clause (1 Sam 24:18)

‫נח אישׁ צדיק‬ Noah [was] a just man. ‫צדיק אתה ממני‬ You [are] more just than me.

Since we have two nouns and not a noun and an adjective, the only alternative to the construct relationship (“king of justice”) is an identification clause (“my king is Zedek” or “Malki is justice”). By necessity, each of these options implies a theophoric name.63 Unlike “Melek Shalem,” the name “Malki-Zedek” has two peculiarities: it is written with a maqqeph both in Gen 14 and in Ps 110, and has a connective yod. Compared with this, “Melek-Sedom” is always with a maqqeph, with two exceptions (vv. 2, 22).64 Hebrew compound names usually do not take a maqqeph in the Massoretic tradition of the Hebrew Bible, but here the Massoretes preferred to keep the two nouns of Melchizedek as one thought unit. MELEK SHALEM This gloss on the name of Melchizedek knew many interpretations across the centuries. One of the main issues raised concerns the quality of the second noun ‫שׁלם‬. Is it a common noun, an adjective, a proper noun denoting a geographical location, or a deity?

62. F. I. Andersen, The Hebrew Verbless Clause in the Pentateuch (JBL Monograph Series 14; Nashville: JBL, 1971), 31–34. For identification clauses, see examples #1 ff., and for classification clauses see examples #94 ff. Also S. Tatu, The Qatal//Yiqtol (Yiqtol//Qatal) Verbal Sequence in Semitic Couplets: A Case Study in Systemic Functional Grammar with Applications on the Hebrew Psalter and Ugaritic Poetry (Gorgias Ugaritic Studies 3; Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias, 2008), 176–77. 63. As Roy A. Rosenberg proposed in “The God Tsedeq,” HUCA 36 (1965): 161–77. See also Kobelski, Melchizedek and Melchiresha’. 64. Waltke and O’Connor, Biblical Hebrew Syntax, 127, n. 6.


Journal for the Evangelical Study of the Old Testament 3.1

Anderson advanced the theory that the “king of Shalem” is actually the “king of Sodom,” and the text should be emended.65 Thus, one could transform the name of the intruder into the name of the new king of Sodom who replaced Bera after he found his death in the tar pits where he had fallen. Anderson overlooks the fact that the king of Sodom is mentioned without a name, as all the other Canaanite kings, the second time he appears in the text (v. 8). Thus his anonymity is owing to the plot development, not to some untold events or narrator’s oversight. Besides, there are no textual variants to substantiate such an emendation. This theory has found no followers. Sigmund Mowinckel, followed by Rosenberg, took ‫ שׁלם‬as the name of the sun god, whose manifestations were Melek (king), Shalim (covenant) and Zedek (justice).66 H. H. Rowley, in his theory, even had a place for the sun god worshipped at Jerusalem prior to David’s triumph over Jerusalem, the bronze serpent Nehushtan.67 Shalim was indeed a Phoenician god, twin brother to Shahar, both sons of the supreme god El, known for their insatiable appetites and for bringing the day (Shahar = dawn) and making the day pass (Shalim = dusk).68 His presence in the mythological texts of Ugarit is rather scarce (KTU 1.100:45–47), and the worship of this god alone is theoretically impossible in a polytheistic society and practically not attested to have been taking place in any ANE city. Other scholars read ‫ שׁלם‬in Gen 33:18 as the earlier versions (LXX, Targums, Vulgate, Peshitta and Jubilees 30:1) suggested, as if it was another name for Samaria (Alexander Polyhistor, Eusebius of Caesarea),69 a city neighbouring Samaria (Eusebius of Emesa,

65. C. E. Anderson, “Who Was Melchizedek? A Suggested Emendation of Gen 14:8,” AJSL 19 (1903): 176–77. 66. See the republished edition of his work Psalms in Israel’s Worship (2 vols. in one; Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans: 2004) 132–33. Roy A. Rosenberg proposed (“The God Tsedeq” 161–77) that the reforms of Hezekiah and Josiah were actually promoting the sun-god of Jerusalem and were frustrated by Manasseh (177). 67. H. H. Rowley, “Zadok and Nehushtan,” JBL 58 (1939): 132–41. 68. John C. L. Gibson, “The Mythological Texts,” in Handbook of Ugaritic Studies (ed. W. G. E. Watson and N. Wyatt; Leiden: Brill, 1999), 200–201. 69. See Alexander Polyhistor, Concerning the Jews (1st cent. B.C.) quoted by Eusebius in Prep. Ev. 419a; Eusebius of Caesarea, Onomasticon 150:1–7. The Madaba map (6th cent. mosaic from St. George church in Madaba, Jordan) has Shalem associated with Shechem. S. Landersdorfer, “Der Priesterkonigtum von Salem,” JSOR 9 (1925): 203–

TATU: Making Sense of Melchizedek


Epiphanius of Salamis),70 or even a valley near Samaria.71 Alternatively, Jerome proposed that Shalem was the place near Aenon, where John ‘the’ Baptist was active (John 3:23).72 Going on, these scholars identify Shalem in Gen 33:18 with the one in Gen 14, but such a theory based on conjecture alone cannot stand. Not only is the adjective reinterpreted as a noun, but also the following assumed clause is too compact, missing a necessary ‫ אשׁר‬or ‫הוא‬. The evidence for the name of Jerusalem in ancient documents is mixed. On one hand the city appears in earlier extra-biblical documents under the names Urushalimu (Egyptian execration texts, 19th–18th cent. B.C.), Uru-Salim (El Amarna Tablets, 15th–14th cent. B.C.), and Ur-sa-liim-mu (Sennacherib’s stele, 8th cent. B.C.).73 On the other hand, Jerusalem is known in the Bible during the pre-monarchic period under the name Jebus (Judg 19:10, 11; 1 Chr 11:4), a city where Jebusites used to live (Josh 15:63; Judg 1:21). Psalm 110 identifies the city of Melchizedek with Jerusalem (Zion). Shalem and Zion are also paralleled in Ps 76:3. Later on, Genesis Apocryphon 20:13 identifies Salem with Jerusalem. Even though there is no proof that Salem was used as a hypocoristicon simultaneously with the longer name Jerusalem, such a possibility still exists. The arguments in favor of identifying Salem with Jerusalem are still open to debate, but those against the option are not superior.74 Identifying Salem with Jerusalem is impossible to Margalith due to the geographical setting of Abram’s battle with the Mesopotamians. If the war took place in the area of Dan and the pursuit continued until they reached Hobah, in the vicinity of Damascus, his return, Margalith says, must have taken place via the King’s Way in the Transjordan.75 Even so, there was an alternative route that followed the hill country of Ephraim

______________________________________________________ 16; J. A. Emerton, “The Site of Salem, the City of Melchizedek,” in Studies in the Pentateuch (ed. J. A. Emerton; VTSup 41, Leiden: Brill, 1990), 45–72. 70. Epiphanius of Salamis, Panarion, 55.2. This theory is embraced by A. Alt, “Das Institut im Jahre 1928,” Palastinajahrbuch 25 (1929): 5–59. 71. J. G. Gammie (“Loci of the Melchizedek Tradition of Genesis 14:18–20,” JBL 90 [1971]: 385–96) follows J.T. Milik’s suggestion. 72. Emerton, “The Site of Salem,” 45–51. 73. Gammie, “Loci of the Melchizedek tradition,” 389. 74. Emerton, “The Site of Salem,” 55–69. 75. Margalith, “The Riddle of Genesis 14,” 507–8.


Journal for the Evangelical Study of the Old Testament 3.1

and passed near Jerusalem.76 Abram would have preferred the route through Canaan to the one through Transjordan, since his camp was loaded with all the prisoners and the animals recovered needed a more friendly and familiar territory. Before we conclude this part of our analysis, it is useful to see how ‫ מלך שׁלם‬relates to ‫מלכי־צדק‬. Traditionally the phrase “Malki-Zedek, Melek Shalem” was interpreted as a throne name, followed by a gloss with reference to the domain of the king. Thus Zedek is a dynastic title used for the kings of Salem.77 The pattern of the name Melchizedek is evident in another name that belonged to a king of Jerusalem, namely Adoni-Zedek (Josh 10). Similarly, ‫ אבימלך‬was used for the monarchs of the Beer-Sheba area (Abi-Melek). Margalith argues that “Melek Shalem” is just a gloss for “Malkizedeq,” thus a theophoric name itself for the same person, because Shalem, Melek/Milku and Zedeq are all theophoric names.78 If all are theophoric names, how do they relate to one another? Only an identification clause could explain such an agglomeration of theophoric names, but are they normal? For Rowley, the presence of “Zedek” in a compound name is proof of a theophoric name, even though that name might have been long forgotten (e.g., Zedekiah, Jehozadak).79 But these names are theophoric because they carry the name of Yahweh. Whether Zedek used to be the name of a god or his hypostasis is as good a speculation as any other. If the king of Babylon changed the name of Mattaniah into Zedekiah (“the justice of Yah,” also a prophetic name in 1 Kgs 22) for a purpose, which is not necessarily to revive an ancient religious tradition, but to warn the king in office of his covenantal allegiance to Babylon and the consequences derived from his oath taken in the presence of Yahweh.

76. Emerton, “The Site of Salem,” 60. 77. H. Zimmern and H. Winckler, K.A.T. 2:224 apud Rowley, “Melchizedek and Zadok,” 465, n. 7, 466. See J. A. Emerton, “Riddle,” 426. 78. Margalith (“The Riddle of Genesis 14 and Melchizedek,” 506) reads as follows: ‫מלכי־צדק הוא מלך שׁלם‬. There are no textual variants to support this claim, it remains a mere speculation. Milk / Maliku could be rendered as a god, because the name is present in a prayer of a mythological mare to the goddess Shapsh, alongside other deities (KTU 1.100 R 40ff). See R. S. Hess, “Cultural Aspects of Onomastic Distribution in the Amarna Texts,” UF 21 (1989): 209–16; idem, Amarna Personal Names (SORDS 9; Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1993). 79. Rowley, “Zadok and Nehushtan,” 132.

TATU: Making Sense of Melchizedek


The nine kings in Gen 14 are listed by name and have a gloss with reference to their respective domains. An auxiliary identification gloss inserted for the anonymous king of Bera (v. 2), makes clear that these nouns are meant as geographical terms. Therefore, ‫ מלך שׁלם‬should be taken as a gloss in reference to Melchizedek’s domain. Given all the above, we believe there is not enough evidence to offer an alternative to the traditional interpretation of the name Melchizedek. Thus, ‫ מלכי־צדק‬would stand as a compound proper name, having two nouns connected via a hireq compaginis, thus meaning “king of justice.” MELCHIZEDEK: INDIRECT DESCRIPTION The God ‘El-’Elyon Although the Tendenz during the first half of the twentieth century was to read [‘El]-’Elyon as a distinct deity superior to Yahweh,80 or as part of a divine triad alongside Yahweh and El or Shadday,81 there are scholars

80. G. von Rad, Gesammelte Studien zum Alten Testamenti (TBü 8; Munich: Chr. Kaiser Verlag, 1958), 1:144; O. Eissfeldt, “El and Yahweh,” JJS 1 (1956): 25–37. Marvin H. Pope (El in the Ugaritic Texts [VTSup 2; Leiden: Brill, 1955], 55–57) reads the fragmentary evidence of the Ugaritic literature as if ‘Elyon is El’s grandfather, although in order to reach that conclusion he has to ignore the witness of the Sujin inscription where El and Elyon are connected by means of the conjunction w, as in other Ugaritic compound names like Kothar we-Khasis as well as Qudsh wa-Amrar, and refers to a single deity. For the Sujin inscription see H. Bauer, “Ein aramäischer Staatsvertrag aus dem 8. Jahrhundert v. Chr. Die Inschrift der Stele von Sudschin,” AfO 8 (1932–1933): 1–16; G. R. Driver, “Notes on the Aramaic Inscription from Soudschin,” AfO 8 (1932–1933): 203–6. 81. Levi della Vida proposes a triad on the basis of Aramaic inscription of Sefire (8th cent. B.C.), where El (Lord of Earth) and ‘Elyon are distinctive deities and part of a divine triad alongside Shamen. This information concurs with that Eusebius collected about the Phoenicians (Prep. Ev. 1:10, 15–16). Thus, ‘El-’Elyon in Gen 14 is for della Vida produced by merging two gods into one, rather than a “theological speculation.” Cf. Levi della Vida, “El-’Elyon in Genesis 14:18–20,” JBL 63 (1944): 1–9. Morgenstern (“The Divine Triad in Biblical Mythology,” JBL 64 [1945]: 15–37) supports della Vida, and points out the Mesopotamian triad Anu, Enlil, and Enki-Ea, and the Greek triad Hypsistos, Ouranos, and Kronos. One god is responsible for each of the three cosmic planes. In search for other examples of triads in the Bible, Morgenstern notices other divine names, such as Shadday, and Eloah that appear in connection with El or Yahweh. His theory is that the Yahwist authors of the biblical text merged the tradition of the three gods and divine triad, as the activities, powers and attributes of one universal god. All this happened during the so-called Deuteronomic Reformation (516–490 B.C.).


Journal for the Evangelical Study of the Old Testament 3.1

who doubt that interpretation,82 despite its contemporary supporters.83 For Kelso, ‫ אל עליון‬is an ancient name, common among many Semitic peoples and fully convergent with the historical perspective of the material in chapter 14, not used exclusively for Yahweh (Num 24:16).84 In Numbers, as in Ps 91:1, the name ‘Elyon is parallel to Shadday. The fact that ‫ אל עליון‬is present in the oracles of Balaam, another non-Jewish character, is further proof of its non-Yahwistic original context as well as its antiquity. Rémi Lack finds that ‘Elyon is a common name among the West Semites for the supreme being in their respective pantheons, and the association of ‘Elyon with Shadday and Tsur in biblical literature is proof of its antiquity. 85 Freedman noticed that such names are proof of ancient poetry, originating during the so-called patriarchal revival period (9th cent. 86 B.C.). The name ‫ אל שׁדי‬is preferred in the patriarchal blessings (Gen 28:3; 43:14) and is the name God revealed to the patriarchs (Gen 17:1; 35:11; 48:3; 49:25 cf. Exod 6:3). The connection between El and Yahweh in relation to the use of the title “Maker (‫ )קנה‬of heaven and earth” in the biblical literature and its theological evolution supports its antiquity. The title ‘El-’Elyon appears in the eighth-century extra-biblical literature (cf. the inscription at Sefire, with reference to the god El in a Karatepe inscription from 720 87 B.C.) and a fragmentary inscription from Jerusalem (7th cent. B.C.). Therefore, it is safe to say that by this time at least, the god ‘El was known in Canaan.

82. D. I. Block, The Gods of the Nations: Studies in Ancient Near Eastern National Theology (ETSMS 2; Jackson, MS: Evangelical Theological Society, 1988), 14, n. 18; N. Wyatt, Myths of Power: A Study of Royal Myth and Ideology in Ugaritic and Biblical Tradition (UBL 13; Münster: Ugarit Verlag, 1996), 350–51. 83. S. B. Parker, “Sons of (the) God(s) Myhla(h)/ Myla/ Nwylo ynb,” in Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible (ed. K. van der Toorn et al.; 2nd ed.; Leiden: Brill, 1999), 796. 84. J. L. Kelso, “The Antiquity of the Divine Title ‘El ‘Elyon in Gen 14,” JBL 20 (1901): 50–55. 85. Rémi Lack, “Les origines de ‘Elyôn, le Trìs-Haut, dans la tradition cultuelle d’Israël,” JBL 24 (1962): 44–64. 86. D. N. Freedman, Pottery, Poetry, and Prophecy: Studies in Early Hebrew Poetry (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1980), 78, 89. 87. The inscription found in the Jewish quarter reads, ‘‫ אל קנה ארץ‬,’ that is ‘El, creator of earth.’ See P. D. Miller, “El, the Creator of Earth,” BASOR 239 (1980): 43–46.

TATU: Making Sense of Melchizedek


It is also found in several pre-exilic biblical texts (Ps 18:14 = 2 Sam 22:14; Ps 46:5; Deut 32:8). Scholars suggest various theories on how exactly ‘Elyon came to be associated with the God of Israel.88 It is generally agreed that ‘Elyon is a titular ascription that can be attached to any divine name, not only to El, a name that was used to define the supreme god of the Canaanite pantheon. As for the phrase ‫קנה שׁמים וארץ‬, late theological thinking disconnected the procreative overtones of the verb ‫ קנה‬from the title attributed to Yahweh, present in early literature (Gen 4:1; Deut 32:4–6, 8–9; Num 24:4, 8, 16),89 and developed it through meditation on God’s miraculous involvement in salvation history (Pss 115:15; 121:2; 124:8; 134:3; 134:5–6) and polemical reformulation of the role of Yahweh as creator (Deutero-Isaiah). This title is notably used in a formulaic structure in the context of the dispensation of blessing, a trait preserved from Gen 14 (cf. Gen 49:24–26). In order to avoid the procreative connotation of the verb ‫קנה‬, different verbs were used: ‫עשׂה‬, and ‫( ברא‬Exod 15:11; Pss 72:18; 98:11; and Isa 42:5; 45:18 respectively). Alternatively, speaking of God as creating heaven was avoided altogether (Ps 139:1–7, 10–11; Jer 32; Neh 9).90 The association between heaven and earth represents the cosmic polarity and is used as a merism for all that exists. Concerning its age, the phrase ‫ קנה שׁמים וארץ‬is either an ancient name, popular among the Semites, or a rather recent name (even postexilic), and therefore an anachronism in Gen 14. Since it appears in the context of other terms that suggest a rather old history (Melchizedek, Shalem, ‘El-’Elyon), the former interpretation is more probable. King of Shalem and Priest of ‘El-’Elyon As for Melchizedek’s double function as priest and king in Canaan, Skinner states, “it is perfectly credible, though not historically attested.”91 Did anything change during the last century to alter such an assessment? Discoveries at Ugarit (from 1929 onwards) offered the 88. N. C. Habel, “‘Yahweh, Maker of Heaven and Earth’: A Study in Tradition Criticism,” JBL 91 (1972): 321–22. 89. Mathews (Melchizedek’s Alternative, 76–77) noticed that the poem of Moses in Deut 32, 33 and Num 24 displays other connections to Melchizedek’s blessing: the references to help and foes (Deut 32:27; 33:7; Num 24:4). 90. Habel, “Yahweh, Maker of Heaven and Earth,” 326–36. 91. Skinner, Genesis, 268.


Journal for the Evangelical Study of the Old Testament 3.1

necessary pieces of evidence. It becomes apparent from Ugaritic literature that the king enjoyed priestly functions. Looking at the heroic stories discovered at Ugarit, John Gray discovers that by their titles (son of god, dispenser of fertility) and actions (sacrifices and divination), the king of Ugarit “mediates divine revelation to his people.”92 As intermediaries between the patron god of the dynasty and the people, the role they played in religious rituals proves that the kings must have occupied a central position. Moreover, after death, when they were deified, kings continued to play the role of guardians of the dynasty. 93 Wyatt sees the king’s role as a pontifex, similar to the one played by Mesopotamian kings.94 By the Amarna period (14th cent. B.C.), there were 12 priestly families attested at Ugarit, and the high priest belonged to the royal family.95 This could be a sign of the emancipation of priesthood, but we cannot know where this could have led because Ugarit was destroyed by the Sea People invasion during the twelfth century. The Exchange of Offerings What is the meaning of the offering of bread and wine? Some take it as expressing a full banquet.96 Waltke arrives at this conclusion noting that “bread” and “wine” appear next to each other in biblical and Ugaritic literature as word-pairs.97 The examples of Hebrew and Ugaritic poetry

92. John Gray, The Legacy of Canaan: The Ras Shamra Texts and Their Relevance to the Old Testament (VTSup 5; Leiden: Brill, 1957), 153. 93. Juan-Pablo Vita, “The Society of Ugarit,” in Handbook of Ugaritic Studies (ed. W. G. E. Watson and N. Wyatt; Leiden: Brill, 1999), 468. 94. See N. Wyatt, “The Religion of Ugarit: An Overview.” 95. Ibid., 154. 96. Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 316; V. P. Hamilton, The Book of Genesis: Chapters 1–17 (NICOT; Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1990), 408; B. K. Waltke, Genesis: A Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2001), 233. 97. Although Waltke quoted 2 Sam 17:27–29 and Prov 9:5, the former is not a poetic text, but a list of goods. Similar lists can be found in 1 Sam 10:3, 16:20, 25:18. The Ugaritic text is quoted from John Gray, The Legacy of Canaan (Leiden: Brill, 1965), 94.

TATU: Making Sense of Melchizedek


where “bread” and “wine” are used as word-pairs could be multiplied.98 It is likely that this poetic usage as a merism passed into common speech as in Gen 14:18 and other biblical texts.99 Refusing any cultic connection, Emerton thinks that bread and wine were offered simply as refreshments, as Ziba did for David’s camp (2 Sam 16:1–8).100 For others, the phrase conveys a covenant feast between equal parties101 or a cultic feast.102 The interpretation of Melchizedek’s offering as a cultic meal seems to have been preferred in later antiquity and medieval Christian interpretation,103 although the Epistle to the Hebrews did not go that far with its typological fulfilment of Melchizedek in Jesus. Since the text is wanting in details, one cannot be certain of the meaning of the bread and wine offering just from the information it offers. Nevertheless, the episode resembles the incident with the Gibeonite delegation to Joshua (Josh 9:12–14) and the meeting between Isaac and Abimelek (Gen 26:26–30). Comparing this scene (Abram and Melchizedek) with the following one (Abram and Bera), Elgavish concludes that the text reveals Abram’s openness for a partnership with Melchizedek and a denial of a similar link to Bera.104 Although the clause lacks an explicit subject, it was traditionally assumed that Abram was the giver and Melchizedek the receiver. Vawter and Smith assert that Melchizedek was actually offering Abram a tenth 98. Proverbs 4:17; 9:5; Eccl 9:7. Isaiah 55:1–2 adds “milk,” to the “wine,” and “bread,” and Deut 29:5 adds “strong dinks.” “Bread” and “wine” as parallel pairs are found in the following Ugaritic verses: KTU 1.4 iv:35–37; 1.5 i:24–25; 1.6 vi:43–44; 1.16 iii:14–15; 1.23:6 (M. Dahood, “Ugaritic-Hebrew Parallel Pairs,” in Ras Shamra Parallels [ed. Loren R. Fisher; AnOr 49; Rome: Pontificium Institutum Biblicum, 1972] 1:249–50). 99. See Josh 9:12–13; Judg 19:19; Neh 5:15. 100. Emerton, “The Site of Salem,” 58. 101. David Elgavish, “The Encounter of Abram and Melchizedek King of Salem: A Covenant Establishing Ceremony,” in Studies in the Book of Genesis: Literature, Redaction, and History (ed. A. Wenin; BETL 155; Leuven: Peeters, 2000), 498–99. 102. W. T. McCree, “The Covenant Meal in the Old Testament,” JBL 45 (1926): 121. J. E. Coleran (“The Sacrifice of Melchizedek,” TS 1 [1940]: 27–36) argues that it was more than refreshments because Melchizedek acted as a priest, supporting Jerome’s translation “for he was a priest of the Most High” (cf. participial clauses in Gen 15:2; 18:1, 8, 10, 27; 20:3; 25:29; 32:32; 37:2; 42:38; 48:14). 103. Cf. Lucien-Jean Bord, Melchisédek: formation, histoire et symbolique d’une figure biblique (Paris: Geuthner, 2013). 104. Elgavish, “Encounter of Abram and Melchizedek,” 506–8.


Journal for the Evangelical Study of the Old Testament 3.1

of all the goods the Mesopotamians plundered from Salem, which Abram had recovered. This is interpreted accords with a similar gesture by the king of Sodom afterwards.105 Who is the giver and who is the receiver, after all? Is this a case of intentional ambiguity? It is very unlikely that Abram remained idle, without a reply to such a lavish initiative from a king-priest towards him. It is against his generous, outward approach to relationships. The text itself demands a reply, if not verbal, then at least a pragmatic one.106 Besides, we find as an afterthought that Abram has sworn an oath not to keep any of the booty for himself, and with good reason, so that nobody can accuse him of capitalizing on others’ sufferings (Gen 14:22–23). A tenth extracted from the plunder could well be interpreted as a gift to conclude a treaty between equal parties as in the covenant between Abraham and Abimelek (Gen 21:27), or as a gift to deity as the Israelites offered after war (Num 31:49–50; 1 Sam 20:26– 31).107 Emerton draws attention to the ambiguity of “all” with reference to the goods from which Abram extracted the tithe.108 Is it all the spoil Abram captured from the defeated eastern kings that he tithed or all his goods foreign and domestic? The same phrase appears in verse 23, but there it is qualified by “that [is] yours.” Again Emerton signals a problem because the gift already offered to Melchizedek should be subtracted from “all” that belonged to the king of Sodom.109 If one follows the story, the context usually makes plain what is apparently obscure. Since the story was not written for twenty-first-century Europeans, we should expect that some things desirable for our clarification were not necessary at all for the primary audience. In order to make good sense of the story, one should gain all the information scattered in the text and not only within the one verse. Therefore, it can be assumed—given the practice of vows—that Abram vowed to keep for himself nothing that belonged to the king of 105. B. Vawter, On Genesis: A New Reading (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1977), 199. R. H. Smith (“Abram and Melchizedek [Gen 14:18–20],” ZAW 77 [1965]: 129– 53) builds his case on the parallel with the Keret story (Ugarit). Abram himself received riches from Pharaoh and Abimelek (Gen 12:10–20; 20; 21:22–33). 106. Although rare, the Bible records situations in which no answer is given. 107. Elgavish “Encounter of Abram and Melchizedek,” 502. 108. Emerton, “The Riddle of Genesis XIV,” 408. 109. Emerton, “Some Problems,” 82.

TATU: Making Sense of Melchizedek


Sodom if God would give him the victory (vv 22–23). The enemies were defeated and the victorious party that included Abram and his Amorite allies took over all those defeated (vv. 14–16). On their way back home, the army was feeding on the goods recovered (v. 24a). When meeting Melchizedek, Abram gave him a tenth of his share (v. 20c), and later on, Abram promised the king of Sodom all that belongs to him from his share (vv. 22–24). Unless the king of Sodom was sovereign over the other four kings of the Canaanite alliance, so that he expected the return of all the goods recovered, Abram kept for himself his share from all the defeated, which included only properties that belonged to the other Canaanite kings. Thus, the king of Sodom was much poorer than before the Mesopotamian raid, but not totally impoverished. IMPLICATIONS AND CONCLUSIONS Scholars continue to be divided on the issues of the historicity and antiquity of Gen 14. Whereas members of the traditionalist school are still finding evidence of its antiquity (earlier than J with J glosses for Wenham),110 representatives of the critical school argue for a late or very late origin of the text (during the monarchy for Emerton, Deuteronomist for Astour, and postexilic for Westermann).111 There were times, though, when even critical scholars were convinced of its ancient origin. At the turn of the twentieth century, Gunkel declared, “The account contains very ancient information to be considered historical.”112 The Jerusalem legitimation hypothesis took the two offices Melchizedek held at once as justification for two distinct offices held by two different persons and founders of dynasties at Jerusalem: David for a dynasty of kings and Zadok for a dynasty of priests. Its aetiological function hangs by a thread: Zadok must be proven a Jebusite priest coopted by David to share power in the conquered Jerusalem. In order to do so one must prove that David’s imperial bureaucracy was strongly controlled so that he could have built for himself a public image of impeccable virtue and true Yahwism despite his obvious concessions to 110. Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 307. 111. Emerton, “The Riddle,” 407–426; M. C. Astour, “Political and Cosmic Symbolism in Genesis 14 and in Its Babylonian Sources,” in Biblical Motifs: Origins and Transformations (ed. A. Altmann; Studies and Texts 3; Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1966), 69–74; C. Westermann, Genesis 12–36: A Commentary (trans. J. J. Scullion, Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg, 1985), 192. 112. Gunkel, Genesis, 288.


Journal for the Evangelical Study of the Old Testament 3.1

paganism. Kingdom narratives, public memory, and prophetic memory witness against this case. Besides, Melchizedek was not a high priest but a priest and a king, or a king acting in a priestly manner. There is too little evidence to make him a monotheist and, for that reason, the prototype of Israelite priesthood, and even less certain the forefather of the Hasmoneans (high priests and kings at the same time).113 A text like this, holding a Canaanite priest in such a positive light, could not have been produced by the strong Yahwistic agenda of the post-exilic community. The only option that takes into account all the data is to place the events of the story as early as the Late Bronze Age, and have it written not later than the Early Iron Age. This story could not have been written during the time of the monarchy. Genesis 14:18–20 is a very short episode that has generated a disproportionate amount of debate. Its transmission in time is surprisingly impeccable given the number of hypotheses offered to explain its content and origin. The passage consists of a few lines of narrative and two blessings uttered by a character named Melchizedek, having two different objects, Abram and ‘El-’Elyon. Both form and content qualify his utterances as blessings that follow a pattern with a long tradition in Israel, attested both in ancient Hebrew poetry and in inscriptions. The episode integrates well with the plot in terms of characters, their relationships, and contribution to the plot. Melchizedek’s presence is vindicated as topicalization, and his contribution in the story happens simultaneously with that of the king of Sodom. The resumptive repetition accounts for the repetition of the phrase “king of Sodom,” which some scholars thought to be a sign of the editorial work that inserted verses 18–20 into Abram’s heroic tale. Name, titles, words, and actions describe Melchizedek. Following the most natural reading of names and titles in the narrative, ‫ מלכי־צדק‬stands for the name of the priest of ‘El-’Elyon, and ‫מלך שׁלם‬ gives the extent of his domain. Whereas Shalem cannot be identified with any certainty in the narratives of the Abraham Cycle, it was customary among the Canaanite/Phoenician heads of city-states during the Late Bronze Age to function as priests on behalf of their people.

113. Skinner, Genesis, 270–1; Mark Treves, ‘Two Acrostic Psalms,’ VT 15 (1965): 81– 90; John Van Seters, Abraham in History and Tradition, 304–8; Bodinger, “L’énigme de Melkisédeq,” 303ff.

[JESOT 3.1 (2014): 77–97]

David, the “Ruler of the Sons of His Covenant” (‫מושל‬ ‫)בבני בריתו‬: The Expansion of Psalm 151 in 11QPsa ANDREW C. WITT Wycliffe College at the University of Toronto

Since 1965, there has been great debate concerning the provenance of the Great Psalms Scroll (11QPsa).Building off recent analyses by Strawn and Debel, this article argues that Psalm 151A contains the sectarian phrase “sons of his covenant,” which was added to the psalm as part of its Qumranic revision. This puts into question Flint’s position that the 11QPsa-Psalter tradition had a provenance prior to the establishment of the Qumran community. In its final pages, the article examines some of the implications of its findings, particularly concerning the redactional history of Psalm 151, and how one might interpret Psalm 151A in light of its expansions. KEYWORDS: Psalm 151, 11QPsa, Great Psalms Scroll, sectarian terminology, provenance

In 1965, James Sanders published the first edition of the “Great Psalms Scroll” of Cave 11 (11QPsa), and in a number of essays following that publication, outlined his theory concerning the scroll’s provenance and scriptural status.1 The scroll has been dated to ca. 30–50 A.D., and is the largest psalm collection to be found at Qumran.2 The contents of the scroll include a large portion of psalms from Books IV–V in the 1. James A. Sanders, The Psalms Scroll of Qumrân Cave 11 (11QPsa) (Discoveries in the Judaean Desert IV; Oxford: Clarendon, 1965); idem., The Dead Sea Psalms Scroll (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1967); idem., “Variorum in the Psalms Scroll (11QPsa),” HTR 59 (1966): 83–94; idem., “Cave 11 Surprises and the Question of Canon,” McCormick Quarterly Review 21 (1968): 1–15; idem, “The Qumran Psalms Scroll (11QPsa) Reviewed,” in On Language, Culture, and Religion: In Honor of Eugene A. Nida (ed. M. Black and W. A. Smalley; The Hague: Mouton, 1974), 79–99. 2. Peter W. Flint, The Dead Sea Psalms Scrolls and the Book of Psalms (STDJ 17; Leiden: Brill 1997), 39.


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Received Psalter (Pss. 90–150), but arranged in a different sequence and alongside a number of non-biblical psalms. Sanders’s initial proposals continue to be the objects of much debate in the discussion surrounding 11QPsa. Since the broad lines of that discussion are well known, a comprehensive summary is hardly needed here. To refresh memory, though, a brief summary of those lines pertinent to the concerns of this article will be given.3 THE GREAT 11QPSA DEBATE Peter Flint has helpfully summarized and organized Sanders’s proposals into four theses, entitling them the “Qumran Psalms Hypothesis”: (1) Concerning Gradual Stabilization:11QPsa witnesses to a Psalter that was being gradually stabilized, from beginning to end. (2) Concerning Textual Affiliations: Two or more Psalters are represented among the scrolls discovered in the Judaean Desert. (3) Concerning Provenance:11QPsa was compiled at Qumran, and thus may be termed the “Qumran Psalter.” (4) Concerning Status: 11QPsa contains the latter part of a true scriptural Psalter. It is not a secondary collection that is dependent on Pss 1–150 as found in the Received Text (MT150).4 The implications of these theses are inherently significant, since taken together they posit a book of Psalms which did not have a fixed form until the first century A.D. Given their importance, Sanders’s proposals

3. For such a summary, and to see some of the major differences in content between the MT-150 and 11QPsa, see Flint, Dead Sea Psalms Scrolls; cf. Gerald Wilson, The Editing of the Hebrew Psalter (SBLDS 76; Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1985); idem., “The Qumran Psalms Scroll Reconsidered: Analysis of the Debate,” CBQ 47 (1985): 624–42. 4. Flint, Dead Sea Psalms Scroll, 8.

WITT: David, the “Ruler of the Sons of His Covenant”


have been met with mixed reactions.5 Leading figures such as Shemaryahu Talmon, M. H. Goshen-Gottstein, and Patrick Skehan have argued that 11QPsa is a secondary psalms compilation, originating within the Qumran community as the product of a liturgical reordering of the MT-150, and, therefore, does not represent a true, scriptural Psalter. It was “a scroll used and useful in the life of the Community, probably for liturgical purposes, and thus a liturgical manuscript, but not a copy—in the text-critical sense—of the Book of Psalms.”6 Even though Sanders was arguing against formidable opponents, his views continued to garner support and by the 1980s something of an impasse was reached.7 Through the publication of a monograph and several articles by G. H. Wilson, Sanders’s position was further refined and given new fodder.8 In the current state of the field, the strongest argument related to Sanders’s above proposals has been given by Flint, beginning with his 1998 monograph.9 Refining the earlier proposals of

5. ShemaryahuTalmon, “Pisqah Be’emṣa‘ Pasuq and 11QPsa,” Textus 5 (1966): 11–21; M. H. Goshen-Gottstein, “The Psalms Scroll (11QPsa): A Problem of Canon and Text,” Textus 5 (1966): 22–33; Patrick Skehan, “A Liturgical Complex in 11QPsa,” CBQ 34 (1973): 195–205; idem, “Jubilees and the Qumran Psalter,” CBQ 37 (1975): 343–47; idem, “Qumran and Old Testament Criticism,” in Qumrân: Sa piété, sathéologie et son milieu (BETL 46; ed. M. Delcor; Paris: Leuven University Press, 1978): 163–82; idem, “The Divine Name at Qumran, in the Masada Scroll, and in the Septuagint,” BIOSCS 13 (1980): 14–44. Further dissenters include: Menaham Haran, “The Two Text-Forms of Psalm 151,” JJS 39 (1988): 171–82; idem, “11QPsa and the Canonical Book of Psalms,” in Minḥah le-Nahum (ed. M. Brettler and M. Fishbane; JSOTSup 154; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993), 193–201; Ben Zion Wacholder, “David’s Eschatological Psalter: 11Q Psalmsa,” HUCA 59 (1988): 23–72; Emanuel Tov, “Excerpted and Abbreviated Biblical Texts from Qumran,” RevQ 16 (1995): 581–600; Ulrich Dahmen, Psalmen- und Psalter-Rezeptionim Frühjudentum: Rekonstruktion, Textbestand, Struktur und Pragmatik der Psalmenrolle 11QPsa aus Qumran (STDJ 49; Leiden: Brill, 2003); Brent Strawn, “David as One of the ‘Perfect of (the) Way’: On the Provenience of David’s Compositions (and 11QPsa as a Whole?),” RevQ 24 (2010): 607–27. 6. Strawn, “Perfect of (the) Way,” 610. 7. Peter W. Flint, “Unrolling the Dead Sea Psalms Scrolls,” in The Oxford Handbook of the Psalms (ed. William P. Brown; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), 233. 8. Gerald Wilson, Editing; cf. idem., “The Qumran Psalms Scroll Reconsidered”; idem, “The Qumran Psalms Manuscripts and the Consecutive Arrangement of Psalms in the Hebrew Psalter,” CBQ 45 (1983): 377–88; idem, “The Qumran Psalms Scroll (11QPsa) and the Canonical Psalter: Comparison of Editorial Shaping,” CBQ 59 (1997): 448–64. 9. Flint, Dead Sea Psalms Scrolls; cf. idem, “Of Psalms and Psalters: James Sanders’s Investigation of the Psalms Scrolls,” in A Gift of God in Due Season: Essays on Scripture and Community in Honor of James A. Sanders (ed. Richard D. Weis and David M. Carr;


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Sanders and Wilson, he argues that one should not speak of a Qumranic provenance for 11QPsa; rather, it is better to recognize at least three major Psalter traditions existing contemporaneously before the Qumran period.10 He calls these traditions Edition I, Edition IIa, and Edition IIb. In his proposal, Flint argues that two secondary Psalter traditions were stabilized in a two-stage process from a pre-existing Psalter tradition (Edition I), which included only Pss 1/2–89/92.11 Expanding on this first edition, Edition IIa (the “11QPsa-Psalter”) added the texts most fully attested in11QPsa, which includes Edition I plus Pss 101–151, and at least Ps 93.12 For Flint, there are at least two other scrolls in the Judaean desert which evidence this edition of the Psalter:11QPsb and (possibly) 4QPse.13 At the same time, he finds no evidence that this edition was compiled by the Qumran community, but that it most likely came into existence among Jewish sects who advocated a solar calendar in a period prior to that of Qumran (early 2nd cent. B.C.). Moreover, given this provenance, the 11QPsa-Psalter must have had widespread use in early Judaism, far beyond the communities at Qumran. The second secondary edition of the Psalter, Edition IIb, originated contemporaneously with Edition IIa, prior to the Qumran period.14 This edition, however, was used in communities advocating a lunar calendar.15 Differing from Edition IIa, it expands Edition I by including Pss 90–150, and is most fully represented by the Received Text (MT-150). Further evidence of its existence is found at Masada (MasPsb)

______________________________________________________ JSOTSup 225; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1996), 65–83; idem, “The Book of Psalms in the Light of the Dead Sea Scrolls,” VT 48 (1998): 453–72. 10. Flint, Dead Sea Psalms Scrolls, 150–71. 11. Ibid., 168–69. Here, Flint only thinks Edition I included up to Psalm 89, but in “Unrolling” he has opened up the possibility that it could have included up to Psalm 92. 12. Flint, “Unrolling,” 240–41. 13. Flint, Dead Sea Psalms Scrolls, 169; cf. idem, “11QPsb and the 11QPsa-Psalter,” in Diachronic and Synchronic: Reading the Psalms in Real Time: proceedings of the Baylor Symposium on the Book of Psalms (ed. Joel S. Burnett, W. H. Bellinger, Jr., and W. Dennis Tucker, Jr.; LHB/OTS 488; New York: T&T Clark, 2006), 157–66. Key compositions (Catena, Plea for Deliverance, Apostrophe to Zion) and the sequence 141– 133–144 show support in 11QPsb, with possible support in 4QPse coming in the sequence 118–104–[147–]105–146. 14. Flint, “Unrolling,” 233. 15. Flint, Dead Sea Psalms Scroll, 169 n. 82, identifies one such group as the Pharisees.

WITT: David, the “Ruler of the Sons of His Covenant”


and in the Septuagint translation(s).16 For Flint, in the caves surrounding Qumran, however, there is no unambiguous support for the MT-150.17 This raises a question about which Psalter edition had “scriptural status” at Qumran,18 and he gives his full support for the 11QPsa-Psalter.19 EVALUATING FLINT’S ARGUMENT In his 2010 article, “David as One of the ‘Perfect of (the) Way,’” Brent Strawn set out to investigate the possibility of sectarian terminology in one of the non-biblical texts included in 11QPsa, David’s Compositions.20 As part of his argument, he laid out several problem areas with Flint’s proposals. First, he wonders whether the evidence can bear the weight of

16. Ibid., 170 n. 85. The exact date that the Old Greek (OG) of the Septuagint gained its shape is difficult to ascertain, though most scholars, following Swete, would date it ca. 200 B.C. In “Unrolling,” (240–41) Flint continues to attempt to create distance between the OG and the MT-150, not even mentioning it in his conclusion. 17. Ibid., 170 n. 87. He identifies several scrolls with ambiguous support (that is, scrolls which could support either second edition): 1QPsa, 1QPsb, 2QPs, 4QPsl, 4QPsm, 4QPso, 4QPsp, 4QPsu, and 11QPsd.While most of these scrolls are ambiguous, the contents of 4QPsm, 1QPsa, and 2QPs seem quite unambiguous in their support of the MT-150, even if they are fragmentary. Moreover, several scrolls, though in partial disagreement with the MT-150, at least witness to a number of sequences which are present in the MT-150 against the 11QPsa-Psalter.These include 4QPsb (the sequence of Pss. 91–103) and 4QPsf (the sequence Pss. 107-108-109). “Unambiguous” is not the best term to describe the textual support of the MT-150 at Qumran. 18. It should be noted that recent scholarship has delineated between “scriptural” in the sense of “canonical,” and “scriptural” in the sense of a functional and authoritative text within a community. There is significant debate concerning the canonical status of the Psalter during this period, and even if the term ‘canon’ is an appropriate description of any text prior to ca. 100 A.D. In this article, I am using the term ‘scriptural’ in the latter sense, of a functionally authoritative text within a community. For Flint, the question is which edition of the Psalter was functionally authoritative within the Qumran community? 19. Ibid., 223–24, 227. In “Unrolling” (240–41), Flint also recognizes several other arrangements of psalms which he does not consider proper editions of the Psalter, but smaller collections (4QPsb, 4QPsd, 4QPsk, 4QPsn, and 11QapocPs). 20. The term “sectarian” is used in reference to texts, phrases, and terminology which have widespread reception and significance by the manuscripts found surrounding Qumran. Cf. Carol A. Newsom “‘Sectually Explicit’ Literature from Qumran,” in The Hebrew Bible and Its Interpreters (ed. B. Halpern, W. H. Propp, and D. N. Freedman; BJS 1; Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1990), 167–87.


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Flint’s argument.21 He summarizes Flint’s argument as follows: Because (a) a solar calendar was widely used in Early Judaism (witness 1 Enoch and Jubilees) and because (b) 11QPsa reflects that calendar (via DavComp especially), then it follows that (c) 11QPsa represents a psalter-type that was widely used in Early Judaism. If so, it further follows that (d) 11QPsa is far from a sectarian, “non-biblical” composition, secondary and inferior to the MT-150 Psalter. Instead it is a “true, Scriptural” Psalter reflective of one shape of the Psalms in Early Judaism.22 For Strawn, the evidence from Qumran, Masada, and Naḥal Hever cannot definitively establish the direct correlation between steps (a)–(b) and steps (c)–(d). In fact, at present there is no non-Qumranic evidence for the 11QPsa.23 Even though Qumran shares a solar calendar with other Jewish sects, this does not make the use of that calendar or the use of 11QPsa any less sectarian; it only shows that the solar calendar was not the sole property of the Qumran community. Further evidence is needed to demonstrate that 11QPsa was used outside of the Qumran community, and as Strawn points out, such evidence is completely lacking.24 Along these same lines, Strawn questions Flint’s proposal that while the specific manuscript of 11QPsa was copied at the Qumran site, the tradition it represented was brought to the Qumran community from somewhere else.25 Since such evidence is again completely lacking, he concludes that Flint’s proposal is “entirely speculative” and is “almost entirely a matter of conjecture.”26

21. Strawn, “Perfect of (the) Way,” 614. 22. Ibid., 612. 23. Ibid., 614. 24. He writes, “By all accounts, the find-spot and the date of 11QPsa place this manuscript squarely at Qumran, which—again, by virtually all accounts—was very much a sect, even a highly exclusivist and radically isolated one” (Ibid., 614). 25. Flint, Dead Sea Psalms Scroll, 199–200. 26. Strawn, “The Perfect of (the) Way,” 615.

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A second problem area is the use of sectarian terminology in11QPsa.27 Flint adamantly asserts 11QPsa contains none of the terms so frequently used in the unambiguous sectarian texts.28 Strawn, however, argues that he has found a sectarian phrase in 11QPsa 27.3 (David’s Compositions), “perfect of (the) way” (‫ דרך‬+ ‫)תמים‬. For him, “when the use of ‫ דרך‬+ ‫ תמים‬in DavComp is considered along with the numerous and stereotypical instances of that collocation elsewhere in Qumran literature . . . David begins to look like a Qumran Covenanter himself— like one of the ‫תמימי דרך‬, one of the ‘Perfect of (the) Way,’ perhaps even paradigmatically so.”29 Strawn avers such sectarian terminology raises serious questions about 11QPsa as a whole, especially since David’s Compositions has received so much attention in the previous debates. Evocatively, he asks how and why a larger non-sectarian manuscript (tradition) should or would contain sectarian compositions or terminology?30 Sharing his concerns and questions, I will attempt to add to Strawn’s observations by showing that another sectarian phrase can be found in 11QPsa 28.12 (Ps 151A:7b), “the sons of his covenant” (‫)בני בבריתו‬. INTRODUCTORY REMARKS ON PSALM151A-B Prior to the discovery of 11QPsa, Ps 151was known in Greek, Old Latin, Syriac, Ethiopic, Coptic, and Armenian translations, all showing clear dependence upon the Greek.31 Unlike its Greek counterpart, the version in 11QPsa is written in Hebrew, and appears as two separate psalms 27. Ibid., 615–22. Again, this includes terminology or phrases which either have distinctive usage within the Qumran community though originating elsewhere, or have little to no attestation outside those communities, but could provide evidence of particular interest for these communities. 28. Flint, Dead Sea Psalms Scroll, 199. 29. Strawn, “Perfect of (the) Way,” 622. Two important independent confirmations of Strawn’s findings can be found in Dahmen, Psalmen- und Psalter-Rezeption, 254, and in Devorah Dimant, “Pertinence and Usage of Taxonomy,” RevQ 24 (2009): 11 n. 12. 30. Ibid., 623. Here he seems to be speaking of Newsom’s category of composition, not reception and use. 31. Sanders, Dead Sea Psalms Scroll, 94; cf. M. S. Smith, “How to Write a Poem: The Case of Psalm 151 (11QPsa 28.3–12),” in The Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Ben Sira: proceedings of a symposium held at Leiden University, 11-14 December 1995 (ed. T. Muraoka and J. E. Elwolde; STDJ 26; Leiden: Brill, 1997), 182 nn. 1–3. Such widespread ancient support will lend credibility to Debel’s theory of redaction in Psalm 151, as well as the uniqueness of the Qumranic version of Psalm 151 found in 11QPsa.


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(151A-B). Below they are laid out in parallel to help see their differences:32 LXX



This Psalm is autobiographical. Regarding Dauid and outside the number. [When he fought Goliad in single combat.]

A Hallelujah of David the son of Jesse.

I was small among my brothers and the youngest in the house of my father; I would shepherd the sheep of my father.




My hands made an instrument; my fingers tuned a harp.


And who will report to my lord? The Lord himself, it is he who

Smaller I was than my brothers, and younger than the sons of my father, but he made me the shepherd of his flock, and ruler over his kids. My hands made a harp, my fingers a lyre, and I rendered glory to the Lord; I spoke in my interior: 3 “The mountains cannot bear witness for me, nor can hills declare (anything) on my behalf, (nor can) the trees my words (of praise), (nor) the flock my works (of praise). 4 For who will declare, who can speak, who can recount my works?” The Lord of all saw,

32. LXX translation from A New English Translation of the Septuagint and the Other Greek Translations Traditionally Included under That Title (ed. Albert Pietersma and Benjamin G. Wright; New York/Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), 619–20. 11QPsa translation is mostly from Eric Reymond, New Idioms within Old: Poetry and Parallelism in the Non-Masoretic Poems of 11Q5 (= 11QPsa) (Early Judaism and its Literature 31; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2011), 55; and Sanders, Dead Sea Psalms Scroll, 97–99. Texts have been underlined to help identify variants and expansions more easily.

WITT: David, the “Ruler of the Sons of His Covenant”



God of all, he heard, and gave ear to (my thoughts). 5


It was he who sent his messenger and took me from the sheep of my father and anointed me with the oil of his anointing. 5

My brothers were handsome and tall, and the Lord did not take delight in them.

He sent his prophet to anoint me, Samuel to exalt me; my brothers went forth toward him, beautiful of form, beautiful of appearance, 6 exalted in their height, beautiful with their hair, The Lord God did not choose them. 7

But he sent and took me from behind the flock, and he anointed me with holy oil; and he made me leader for his people, and ruler over the sons of the covenant.


I went out to meet the allophyle, and he cursed me by his idols. 7 But I, having drawn the dagger from him, I beheaded him and removed reproach from Israel’s sons.

[PSALM 151B] At the beginning of David’s power after the prophet of God had anointed him. Then I (saw) a Philistine uttering defiances from the r[anks of the enemy]. . . . I . . . the . . .

From this layout, one observes that both 11QPsa and the LXX contain material that the other does not, and often have variant readings of those parts of the psalm which are parallel. Throughout the past 50 years, scholarly attention has been fixed on the bulk of this variant material. In particular, scholars have provided analysis along two main lines: the textual relationship and/or development between these two versions, and whether or not there are traces of Orphism in 151A:2–4.33 33. Concerning the textual relationship between the two versions, see the following: James Sanders, “Ps. 151 in 11QPss,” ZAW 75 (1963): 59–61; Patrick Skehan, “The Apocryphal Psalm 151,” CBQ 25 (1963): 407–9; James Sanders, The Dead Sea Psalms Scroll, 94–103; Menaham Haran, “The Two Text-Forms of Psalm 151,” JJS 39 (1988):


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Beginning with Sanders, the Hebrew text form of Psalm 151 in 11QPsa was understood as the original form of the psalm, with both its form and content “reworked and abbreviated” in the LXX.34 This view was widely held until 1988, when Menaham Haran challenged it through linguistic analysis.35 According to Haran, the opposite is true, “[The] Hebrew text behind Ps 151 LXX reflects the original extent of the Psalm, Ps 151A-B being expanded and derivative.”36 In a more recent article, Hans Debel articulated a third position, arguing that Ps 151 LXX and Ps 151A-B are not necessarily directly related to one another.37 Instead, he argued that both versions of Ps 151 stem from a now lost Hebrew text.38 This earlier text, which he designated “edition n,” was faithfully translated into Greek and added as a supernumerary psalm to the Greek Psalter and subsequent versions.39 Independently from this tradition, “edition n” was also revised by a scribe who expanded portions of it through a reworking of 1 Sam 16:7.40 This revision was then divided between the calling of David (151A) and the Goliath episode (151B), and may have also been enriched with other expansive elements.

______________________________________________________ 171–82; Smith, “How to Write a Poem,” 182–208; D. Amarma, “Psalm 151 from Qumran and Its Relation to Psalm 151 LXX. English Abstract,” Textus 19 (1998): 183– 85; M. Segal, “The Literary Development of Psalm 151: A New Look at the Septuagint Version,” Textus 21 (2002): 139–58; Hans Debel, “‘The Lord Looks at the Heart’ (1 Sam 16,7): 11QPsa 151A-B as a ‘Variant Literary Edition’ of Ps 151 LXX,” RevQ 23 (2008): 459–73.Concerning the influence of Orphism, see the review of the discussion in Debel, “The Lord Looks at the Heart,” 464–66. 34. Haran, “Two Text-Forms of Psalm 151,” 172; cf. Sanders, Dead Sea Psalms Scroll, 95. 35. Haran, “Two Text-Forms of Psalm 151.” 36. Debel, “The Lord Looks at the Heart,” 466, summarizing Haran’s position. 37. Ibid., 467. 38. Ibid., 472. This is also suggested in Devorah Dimant, “David’s Youth in the Qumran Context,” in Prayer and Poetry in the Dead Sea Scrolls and Related Literature (ed. J. Penner, K. M. Penner, and C. Wassen; STDJ 98; Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2012), 114. She does not seem to be aware of Debel’s argument. 39. Ibid., 472. 40. Ibid., 472, but cf. pp. 468–71. Cf. Sanders, The Psalms Scroll, 56, who describes it as a “midrash” on 1 Samuel 16:1–13.

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While Debel argues that it is wrong at this point to designate either version as “later” or “earlier” historically,41 his observations concerning 11QPsa have at least one important implication for the concerns here: literary expansions have taken place between “edition n” and Ps 151A-B. Though it is difficult for one to conjecture at what point such literary expansions took place, I argue below that one of those literary expansions, the phrase “sons of his covenant,” is both late and germane to the concerns found in other unambiguous sectarian texts. THE “SONS OF HIS COVENANT” (‫ )בני בריתו‬OUTSIDE OF PSALM 151A The collocation ‫ ברית‬+ ‫“( בן‬descendant/son” + “covenant”) has no precedent in the biblical texts, and is only found in one Greek text in early Judaism outside the scrolls of the Judaean wilderness (Pss. Sol. 17:15). Before looking at that text, I will first look at its six attestations within the scrolls and fragments from Qumran.42 In the Qumran texts, ‫ ברית‬+ ‫ בן‬occurs three times in “undisputed” sectarian texts (1QM17.8; 4Q284 4.2; 4Q503 7–9.3),43 twice in a “disputed” text (4Q501 2; 7),44 and once in the text at hand (11QPsa 28.12). 41. Ibid., 473. 42. M. G. Abegg, Jr., James Bowley, and Edward Cook, “‫ברית‬,” in The Non-Biblical Texts from Qumran (vol. 1 of The Dead Sea Scrolls Concordance; Leiden: Brill, 2003), 158–60. 43. 1QM (War Scroll) is one of the core texts thought to have arisen from the Qumran community itself. Cf. Devorah Dimant, “The Qumran Manuscripts: Contents and Significance,” in Time to Prepare the Way in the Wilderness (ed. Devorah Dimant and Lawrence Schiffman; STDJ 16; Leiden/New York: Brill, 1995), 38. 4Q284 (4QPurification Liturgy) is unclassified by Dimant, “Qumran Manuscripts,” 56, but is identified as having a sectarian provenance by both Russel C. D. Arnold, The Social Role of Liturgy in the Religion of the Qumran Community (STDJ 60; Leiden: Brill, 2006), 184, and Hannah K. Harrington, Purity Texts (Companion to the Qumran Scrolls 5; New York: T& T Clark, 2007), 63. 4Q503 (4QDaily Prayers) is classified by Dimant, “Qumran Manuscripts,” 41, as a liturgical sectarian text, an identification shared by Daniel K. Falk, Daily, Sabbath, and Festival Prayers in the Dead Sea Scrolls (STDJ 27; Leiden/Boston: Brill, 1998), 22–27; Arnold, The Social Role of Liturgy, 120–27; and D. Olson, “Daily Prayers,” in The Dead Sea Scrolls: Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek Texts with English Translations, Volume 4a:Pseudepigraphic and Non-Masoretic Psalms and Prayers (ed. J. A. Charlesworth; Tübigen: Mohr Siebeck, 1997), 236. Note, “sectarian” here designates texts with a provenance in the Qumran community, much like the Gospels or letters of Paul would be sectarian for early Christian communities. 44. 4Q501 (4QApocryphal Lamentations B) is considered a sectarian liturgical text by Dimant, “Qumran Manuscripts,” 41, but is considered non-sectarian by James R. Davila, Liturgical Works (ECDSS; Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2000), 178. Adele Berlin,


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In 1QM17.8, the phrase occurs in the middle of the final section (14:end–19:13+), which describes an epic battle against the Kittim.45 Following Nickelsburg’s literary analysis, its occurrence can be more narrowly understood as within an account describing Belial’s counterattack to the first attack made by the armies of Israel (16:11– 17:9).46 Here, a priest encourages the armies and in a final word says, “And you, sons of his covenant (‫)בני בריתו‬, be strong in God’s crucible until he shakes his hand and finishes his testings, his mysteries concerning your existence” (17.8–9). The phrase, then, is used appositionally to encourage the armies of Israel to remain strong while God tests them. Within the larger context, the “sons of his covenant” are also given these other synonymous epithets: “the lot of his covenant” (‫ ;גורל בריתו‬17.6), “God’s lot” (‫ ;גורל אל‬17.7), and “the sons of his truth” (‫ ;בני אמתו‬17.8). The importance of these final priestly encouragements, combined with the significance the War Scroll had for the selfunderstanding of the Qumran community, give these epithets a certain weight as self-designations. It is reasonable to conclude, then, that there is a strong link between the Qumran community’s self-understanding and the title “the sons of his covenant.” 4Q284 (4QPurification Liturgy) is a fragmentary scroll dated to the first century A.D.47 According to Arnold, it contains “a priestly liturgy, recited by an individual presiding over the rites of purification.”48 He also notes, The people are designated, through the use of language that emphasized their chosen-ness, their access to the covenant, and their status as God’s lot. The sectarian nature of these titles

______________________________________________________ “Qumran Laments and the Study of Lament Literature,” in Liturgical Perspectives: Prayer and Poetry in Light of the Dead Sea Scrolls: proceedings of the Fifth International Symposium of the Orion Center for the Study of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Associated Literature, 19-23, January, 2000 (ed. E. G. Chazon; STDJ 48; Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2003), 13, 15-16, initially identifies the work as non-sectarian, but in concluding is not as confident. Hence its designation here as “disputed.” 45. George W. E. Nickelsburg, Jewish Literature between the Bible and the Mishnah: A Historical and Literary Introduction (2nd ed.; Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2005), 145. 46. Ibid., 145. 47. Arnold, Social Role of Liturgy, 181. 48. Ibid., 184.

WITT: David, the “Ruler of the Sons of His Covenant”


ensured that these designations referred to the Qumran community alone.49 Though little context remains to provide analysis of how the phrase is specifically used in Fragment 4, from what does remain it appears that “sons of your covenant” (‫ ;בני בריתכה‬4.2) is used in parallel with, or at least designates the same group as, the phrase “the lot of your truth” ( ‫גורל‬ ‫ ;א[מת]כה‬4.3). The change in pronoun from third-person to second-person is due to the nature of the text, with the priest addressing God. This variation does not change the thrust of the epithets, but their affinities with those noted above in the War Scroll provide strong grounds for taking them as self-designations of the communities at Qumran. A third occurrence of the epithet occurs in 4Q503 (4QDaily Prayers). This text is a large collection of fragmentary prayers dated ca. 100–75 B.C.50 Through textual reconstruction, scholars have been able to understand a great deal about them. Short, and formulaic in style, they are organized chronologically, according to day of the month, and within each day, by a designation for morning or evening prayer.51 Each prayer averages between four and six lines in length, and the collection as a whole seems to emphasize several basic themes and uses important key phrases, such as light and darkness, knowledge, holiness, chosen-ness, and the joint-witness and praise with angels.52 The designation “sons of your covenant” appears in Fragment 7–9.3, within the prayers designated for the morning of the sixth day, “[And we,] the sons of your covenant (‫)בני בריתכה‬, bless [your name,] with all the companies of [the light . . . with al]l the tongues of knowledge” (3–4). Here, the phrase is again a self-designation of the ones praying, who are blessing the name of God alongside the “companies of the light” (‫)דגלי אור‬. One familiar with the key terms and themes of the sectarian texts will again see the close affinities with the above two texts, further corroborating the epithet “sons of his/your covenant” as a self-designation germane to the interests of the Qumran community. The final two occurrences of the phrase are in 4Q501 (4QApocryphal Lamentations B), lines 2 and 7. The scroll has been dated ca. 50–25 B.C., and is a poetic text addressing God, asking for his 49. Ibid. 50. Olson, “Daily Prayers,” 235. 51. Arnold, Social Role of Liturgy, 120. 52. Ibid., 121. In footnote 54, Arnold identifies our phrase, “sons of your covenant,” a key phrase emphasizing the theme of chosen-ness.


Journal for the Evangelical Study of the Old Testament 3.1

protection from persecutors within the Jewish community. 53 The first occurrence of the phrase is in line 2, “Remember the sons of your covenant (‫)בני בריתכה‬.” Within the larger context, the supplicant is petitioning God to remember his or her community, which is also called “the removed ones of your people” (‫ ;עצורי עמכה‬line 2), “the forsaken ones of your inheritance” (‫ ;עזובי נחלתכה‬line 2), the “desolate” (‫;השוממים‬ line 2), “the wanderers, whom no one brings back, the sorely wounded, whom no one bandages, [those bent double, whom no one rai]ses up” (‫ ;המנודבים תועים ואין משיב שבורים ואין חובש [כפופים ואין זו]קף‬lines 3–4). It is used, then, in reference to a faction of people within Israel whom God is called on to remember (‫)זכר‬. In contrast to this group, a second faction of people, the oppressors, are identified as “the wretched ones of your people” (‫ ;חילכיא עמכה‬line 4) who have disgraced the speaker’s group through a lying tongue. In 4Q501 line 7, the phrase, though partially deleted, appears again and seems to function similarly to its use in line 2.54 The group praying sees its enemies as the disgraceful “sons of your people” (lines 5–6) and asks that their posterity not be included “among the [sons of the] covenant” (‫)מב[ני ב]רית‬. As Davila notes, in line 7 the phrase “their posterity” seems to “refer to hostile members of the Jewish community, since there would be no question of the seed of the oppressing Gentiles being associated with the covenant.”55 In this prayer, then, we have a faction of Israel identifying themselves as the “sons of your covenant,” distinguishing themselves from another party in Israel (“sons of your people”), likely seeing themselves as the true heirs of the covenant. Though occurring in a text which may or may not be sectarian in provenance, these two uses in 4Q501 at the very least show ideological similarities with those expressed in sectarian compositions, as well as the self-designation “sons of your/the covenant” in 1QM, 4Q284, and 4Q503. My final investigation of the phrase is from Psalms of Solomon. This work has a consensus dating to the middle of the first century A.D., and likely originated from a party in Jerusalem sharing similar concerns

53. M. Baillet, Qûmran Grotte 4: III (4Q482–4Q520) (DJD 7; Oxford: Clarendon, 1982), 79–80; Davila, Liturgical Works, 177. 54. Speculatively, the partial-deletion of the phrase may prove an even stronger marker of self-designation, since the mistake of the scribe would have been to write the epithet of his community rather than to simply refer to the covenant of Israel. 55. Davila, Liturgical Works, 180.

WITT: David, the “Ruler of the Sons of His Covenant”


over Jerusalem and messianism as found in the Dead Sea Scrolls.56 Given the absence of many key features of the Dead Sea Scrolls (e.g. dualism, a sharp differentiation between who is in and out of the community, etc.), it is unlikely Psalms of Solomon originated in the same circles.57 Psalms of Solomon 17, where the phrase occurs, is noted for its developed messianism.58 It is written by an author whose community has had to flee from Jerusalem (17:11–18) because of the treatment of its citizens by an incoming foreign leader (17:7, 11). This invasion was understood as punishment against the Jewish community in Jerusalem for adopting the practices of the Gentiles (17:15–20, 36). Out of this situation, the psalmist turns to God (17:1, 46), and petitions for the Davidic messiah to come to Jerusalem, purge it of both Gentile and Jewish sinners, and reign righteously from Jerusalem (17:21–45). The phrase is used in 17:15, where the psalmist is describing the impact of the foreign invasion on the Jewish citizens of Jerusalem. It reads, “And the children of the covenant (οἱ υἱοὶ τῆς διαθήκης) in the midst of the people of mixed origin surpassed them, there was no one among them in Jerusalem who practiced mercy and truth.”59 The “children of the covenant” being referenced here are Jewish citizens, surpassing even the Gentiles in avoiding the practice of mercy and truth. It lacks the exclusivity observed in the scrolls above, and simply seems to be a designation for those Jewish people who, though in rebellion, are 56. Jerry O’Dell, “The Religious Background of the Psalms of Solomon,” RevQ 3 (1961): 241–59; Robert B. Wright, “The Psalms of Solomon, the Pharisees, and the Essenes,” in 1972 Proceedings for the International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies and the Society of Biblical Literature Pseudepigrapha Seminar (ed. Robert A. Kraft; Septuagint and Cognate Studies 2; Missoula, Mont.: Society of Biblical Literature, 1972), 136–54; D. Rosen and A. Salvensen, “A Note on the Qumran Temple Scroll 56.15–18 and Psalms of Solomon 17.33,” JJS 38 (1987): 98–101; P. N. Franklyn, “The Cultic and Pious Climax of Eschatology in the Psalms of Solomon” JSJ 18 (1987): 1–17; Robert R. Hann, “The Community of the Pious: The Social Setting of the Psalms of Solomon,” SR 17 (1988): 184–89; Ernest-Marie Laperrousaz, “Le milieu d’origine du 17e Psaulmes (apocryphes) de Salomon,” REJ 150 (1991): 557–64. 57. It is far beyond the scope of this article to enter into these questions here. For helpful reviews see the following: Joseph Trafton, “The Psalms of Solomon in Recent Research” JSP 12 (1994): 7–8; Nickelsburg, Jewish Literature, 238–47; Robert B. Wright, The Psalms of Solomon: A Critical Edition of the Greek Text (Jewish and Christian Texts in Contexts and Related Studies 1; New York: T&T Clark, 2007). 58. Kenneth Atkinson, I Cried to the Lord: A Study of the Psalms of Solomon’s Historical Background and Social Setting (Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism 84; Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2004). 59. Ibid., 130.


Journal for the Evangelical Study of the Old Testament 3.1

still part of the covenant community of Israel. Its use, then, is much different than that of 1QM, 4Q284, 4Q503, and 4Q501. While 4Q501 line 7 used the phrase in reference to those in Israel who are considered true members of God’s covenant, in distinction from the rest of “the sons of your people,” in Psalms of Solomon 17:15, no such distinction is maintained. Considering the above uses of the phrase in our texts above, the following conclusions are reasonable. First, we can conclude that in the undisputed sectarian texts (1QM, 4Q284, and 4Q503) the epithet “sons of the/his/your covenant” is self-designating and particular to an exclusive group of Jewish people, synonymous with the members of the Qumran community.60 Second, in the disputed text 4Q501, the epithet is also self-designating and is used to differentiate the praying faction from other Israelite factions. And third, in the non-sectarian Psalms of Solomon the epithet is used to refer more generally to Israelites (those in covenant with God) as opposed to foreigners. From this discussion, then, we can conclude that even though the collocation “sons + covenant” (‫ ברית‬+ ‫ )בן‬can be used in less sectarian ways within early Judaism, when used by those at Qumran it is a self-designating referent to a particular, exclusive group (faction) of Jewish people, synonymous with those identifying with the Qumran community. This would add further evidence to Strawn’s previous discovery of sectarian terminology, and, if true, would further weaken Flint’s proposal. In what remains of the article, I will investigate how the phrase is used in Ps 151A-B, and how its inclusion in the psalm fits within the larger concerns of other sectarian texts. PSALM 151A AND ITS QUMRANIC EXPANSION Psalm 151A can be divided into two general parts: verses 1–4b and verses4c–7.61 In the first part of the psalm, David is introduced (v. 1) as 60. Another similar phrase is the use of ‫ ברית‬+ ‫( אנוש‬1QS 5.9; 6.19; 1QSa 1.2; 1Q36 7.2; 4Q258 VI.8; 4Q511 63–64.II.5; 63–64.III.5). 61. I follow the division by Jean Carmignac, “La Formepoétique du Psaume 151” RevQ 4 (1963): 374–76, and Isaac Rabinowitz, “Alleged Orphism of 11QPss 28 3–12” ZAW 76 (1964): 196–97. Reymond, New Idioms within Old, 67, argues for four paragraphs: v. 1, vv. 2–4b, vv. 4c–e, and vv. 5–7. Pierre Auffret, “Structure littéraire et interprétation du Psaume 151,” RevQ 9 (1977): 163–88, divides the psalm similarly according to a symmetrical relationship where David is the passive object of the actions (v. 1), where David is subject (vv. 2–4b), where God reacts to David (v. 4c–e), and where God is subject and David the object of the actions (vv. 5–7).

WITT: David, the “Ruler of the Sons of His Covenant”


the shepherd of his father’s flock (‫ )רועה לצונו‬and ruler of his kids (‫ומושל‬ ‫)בגדיותיו‬. The psalm then turns to describe the inward monologue of David (vv. 2a–4b). It recalls how David, since neither the mountains or hills or trees or flock can bear witness to David’s works of praise, creates musical instruments and worships YHWH (vv. 2a–c). In the second part of the psalm (vv. 4c–7), God responds to David’s inward disposition by sending the prophet Samuel to anoint him as a “leader” (‫ )נגיד‬for his people and as a “ruler over the sons of his covenant” (‫)מושל בבני בריתו‬. For Ps 151A, David’s need to personally render glory to God sets him apart from his brothers. The message of the psalm, then, seems to focus on the transformation of David from his role as shepherd to his role as king, a transformation tied to his inward disposition to praise God. Reinforcing this message is the enveloping structure that occurs between verses 1 and 7, which is tied to specific vocabulary (e.g. ‫בן‬, ‫שים‬, ‫צואן‬, and ‫ )מושל‬and parallel grammatical structures (e.g. 1c–d and 7c–d are both VOM//OM).62 What is interesting to note about the shape of the psalm is that it is only partially paralleled by Ps 151 LXX. In that version of the psalm, there is no reference to David being ruler or leader; instead, David’s transformation from shepherding to anointing is focused on David’s ability to overpower and vanquish Goliath, his enemy. The effect of the expansions in Ps 151A-B is a refocusing of 151A toward David’s changing flock, namely, from “ruler” (‫ )מושל‬of his father’s kids to the ruler (‫ )מושל‬of the sons of God’s covenant. It is only after this transformation takes place that the reader is ready to reflect on David’s military success over Goliath and the Philistines (Ps 151B). What is striking is how instrumental our phrase is in the transformation in Ps 151A; it is one of the principal expansive phrases in the psalm emphasizing David’s changing leadership role. Without verses 1d and 7c–d, the focus of Ps 151A would be exactly the same as in LXX Ps 151. The only difference would be a clearer identification of the reasons why David is anointed (151A:2c–3).63


62. Reymond, New Idioms within Old, 69–70. 63. Dimant, “David’s Youth,” 112–13, has also made similar independent observations about the specific contribution these variant and expanded elements add to Ps 151A-B in 11QPsa.


Journal for the Evangelical Study of the Old Testament 3.1

Given the discovery of sectarian terminology by Strawn, and the preceding argument for further sectarian terminology in Ps 151A, the evidence demands that scholars seriously consider whether or not 11QPsa could be, in C. Hempel’s words, a “community-specific” (gemeindespezifisch) collection with “authorship or revision by the Yaḥad” (VerfasserschaftoderÜberarbeitung durch den Jachad).64 Like the rule texts, 11QPsa is a “manuscript collection” (Sammelhandschrift) that at some point in its composition was editorially revised.65 That being the case, the possibility that a redactor (Überarbeiter) inscribed a phrase with ideological import into one of the texts from 11QPsa, a text which did not have such language within its own “compositional level” (Kompositionsebene), must remain open.66 Ulrich Dahmen, has, in fact, made such a case.67 As for the interpretation of Ps 151A, the acknowledgment of sectarian terminology changes its interpretation. As Dahmen notes, [David] is the paradigm of the small outsider—a radical reality for the Qumran community—who, though unnoticed by the wider public, is exalted by God and in the future will not only succeed, but will become the unrivaled standard and the ideal of a life well-pleasing to God. In this hope the Qumran community has kept itself until the end.68 For Dahmen, the characterization of David in Ps 151A becomes paradigmatic for the whole Qumran community. David’s story is one that

64. Charlotte Hempel, “KriterienzurBestimmung ‘essenischerVerfasserschaft’ von Qumrantexten,” in Qumran kontrovers: Beiträge zu den Textfunden vom Toten Meer (ed. Jörg Frey and Hartmut Stegemann; Katholische Akademie Schwerte 6; Paderborn: Bonifatius, 2003), 75. In the essay, Hempel takes issue with some of the proposals made by Dimant regarding the identification of sectarian texts (cf. Dimant, “The Qumran Manuscripts”). In particular, Hempel emphasizes the difficulty in classifying redacted texts. Her concern is with texts that have certainly been redacted by the communities at Qumran, but which mostly likely did not originate with them (p. 75). For her, room must be made for a more nuanced picture that considers a more complex literary traditionhistorical and redaction-historical (redaktionsgeschichtlichen) development (p. 80). 65. Ibid., 75. 66. Ibid., 79. 67. Dahmen, Psalmen- und Psalter-RezeptionimFrühjudentum, 262–63. 68. Ibid., 263. Translation my own.

WITT: David, the “Ruler of the Sons of His Covenant”


can give them hope, providing them a picture of their own future. But one can also observe broader significance than this. Following Debel’s reconstruction, the literary expansion of Ps 151 “edition n” into Ps 151A-B has created a division between David’s anointing as ruler over the Qumran community and David’s subsequent military success over Goliath. As noted above, the effect of this division in Ps 151A was to emphasize the transformation of David from shepherd over Jesse’s flock to ruler over the sons of the covenant. The reason for this transformation was David’s inward desire to give glory to God. His inclination to praise, then, is what makes him fit to rule over the sons of the covenant. As a paradigm, David’s praise was meant to instill the value of worship with those who used this scroll at Qumran. Following this through, the ideological impact is that just as David was given dominion over the sons of the covenant through his worshipful deeds, so Qumran covenanters would be given a special place over the sons of Israel. Moreover, just as this David, now the anointed ruler, is able to slay enemy nations (Ps 151B), so the covenant community is anointed to lead the battle against Belial and the Kittim (1QM). This interpretation is more speculative, but it does offer an explanation for why the psalm might have been divided into two. In this scheme, Ps151A allows the community to see itself in the coloring of David’s divinely sanctioned worship, while Ps 151B allows them to reflect on their special calling to fight as the true Israel, the true sons of the covenant, against the Kittim. The placement of Ps 151A-B in 11QPsa enhances such a proposal further. In 11QPsa, Ps 151A-B is the concluding psalm of the scroll, and is preceded by a non-biblical text enumerating David’s Compositions (11QPsa 27:2–11; DavComp), and several verses from Ps 140:1–5 (11QPsa 27:12–15) and Ps 134:1–3 (11QPsa 28:1–2).69 For Sanders, “these last columns of the scroll clearly demonstrate the belief that David composed, or ‘spoke,’ not only all the psalms in this scroll but many, many more.”70 The final texts included in 11QPsa, then, put all of the psalms into the mouth of David. By doing so, the poetic and musical abilities of David recounted in Ps 151A are given further clarification and can be identified with what precedes Ps 151A in the scroll. Thus, if the David of Ps 151A-B is a kind of figure or type to be imitated by the Qumran community, the arrangement of the scroll can be seen as a kind of liturgical joining with David in his praise, in preparation for the final eschatological battle. 69. Dimant, “David’s Youth,” 100. 70. Sanders, Dead Sea Psalms Scroll, 10–11.


Journal for the Evangelical Study of the Old Testament 3.1

Such a view of David is described well by Dimant in her recent essay on the youthful David of Ps 151A.71 For her, “The portrayal of David, who recognizes that his first duty is to glorify God, is strikingly close to the ideals conveyed by the particular world-view of the Qumran sectarian writings.”72 She surveys 1QH 9:29–33 to better appreciate the theme of praise, concluding, “Seen from the perspective of the primacy attached by the sectarian ideology to praising God, [the] David of the poem under consideration emerges as a prototype of perfect piety from a young age, a characteristic which earned him royal leadership.”73 Identifying with the piety of David through the use of 11QPsa, those at Qumran were able to join with him in his praise, preparing themselves for what may come in the future. In conclusion, the debate over the provenance of 11QPsa will undoubtedly continue, and whether the above analyses are correct will require further discussion. But, as Dimant notes, some explanation needs to be given for the differences between Ps 151A-B and its LXX counterpart. Out of the above considerations, the tentative conclusion of this article, given further sectarian terminology and the relationship between this terminology and the expansive nature of Ps 151A-B (in view of wider sectarian ideology), is that the present form of Ps 151A-B originated within the Qumran community.74 Building off of Strawn’s argument, this would continue to weaken Flint’s proposal concerning the provenance of the 11QPsa, but by no means settles the debate on how to

71. Dimant, “David’s Youth.” 72. Ibid., 109–110. 73. Ibid., 112. Dimant also suggests that the different title in Psalm 151A (‘Hallelujah’), as compared against the LXX, could reflect this emphasis on praise in the psalm (p. 102). 74. Dimant, “David’s Youth,” 114, similarly concludes, “What matters is that the Qumran version of this psalm is close to the particular Qumran ideology. In its present form it seems to have been composed by a member of the Qumran community or a related circle.”

WITT: David, the “Ruler of the Sons of His Covenant”


understand the growth of the Psalter or its potential alternative arrangements.75

75. One might still posit that the tradition represented by 11QPsa has a provenance prior to Qumran and that the specific manifestation of that tradition preserved by 11QPs a is something peculiar to Qumran. For the present author, however, it is more likely that the MT-150 was completed by the end of the third century B.C., that its use was widespread in early Judaism, especially with its translation into the OG (without Ps 151), and that Ps 151 was included at a later date as a supernumerary psalm, as the manuscript tradition unanimously indicates (contra William P. Brown, “The Psalms: An Overview,” in The Oxford Handbook of the Psalms, 3–4, who erroneously notes that Codex Sinaiticus presents Ps 151 as within the “151 Psalms of David.” The manuscript clearly reads και εξωθεν του αριθμου.). The Psalms scrolls found in Caves 4 and 11 at Qumran are likely liturgical collections of psalms, some with more popularity than others (hence, some scrolls supporting others). If 11QPsa does represent a true alternative Psalter tradition (in my view it is impossible to determine), then it is one which is peculiar to Qumran, functioning authoritatively as a liturgical and meditative collection with clear ideological connections to other undisputed sectarian texts (e.g. 1QM, 1QH).

[JESOT 3.1 (2014): 99–149]


Beginning Biblical Hebrew: A Grammar and Illustrated Reader by John A. Cook and Robert D. Holmstedt. Illustrated by Philip William. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2013. 324 pp., US $28.70, softcover. As many students of a second language can attest, pedagogical methodology in language classes is often inadequate to the task. Rote memorization of terms and rules may work for a small percentage of students, but not for all (or even most). Fortunately, in many modern second language classes teaching practice is shifting toward more solid pedagogical ground. Instead of memorization, many teachers and textbooks are embracing the insights from modern research in second language acquisition (SLA). The results are classes that encourage collaboration, active student engagement, and a focus on how language learning works. As a former secondary Spanish teacher, I can attest to the effectiveness of these methods. Unfortunately, this has not often been the case in the study of the biblical languages. John A. Cook and Robert D. Holmstedt seek to address this concern in their Beginning Biblical Hebrew: A Grammar and Illustrated Reader, which unabashedly embraces SLA methodology. Both of these authors have worked and taught extensively in the Hebrew language. John A. Cook is Associate Professor of Old Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary, where he has taught since 2007. Robert D. Holmstedt is Associate Professor, Ancient Hebrew and NW Semitic Languages at the University of Toronto. Beginning Biblical Hebrew developed out of these authors mutual dissatisfaction with the limits of Hebrew grammars. The resulting text comes at the end of several years of practical adaptation in the classroom. As they state, Beginning Biblical Hebrew “has been guided by the goal of acquiring the ancient Hebrew language as opposed to simply learning its grammar” (p. 10). The hope of such a goal is that it would lead to a contextual grasp and understanding of the Hebrew language in use, as opposed to knowledge of a list of grammatical rules that become jumbled together when a student is faced with the Hebrew in its natural environment—the biblical text. Beginning Biblical Hebrew is separated into two parts. The first part, which contains the introductory material, reads from left to right and presents fifty grammatical lessons, five appendices, a Hebrew-


Journal for the Evangelical Study of the Old Testament 3.1

English glossary, and an English-Hebrew glossary. The grammatical lessons are short (sometimes only a page or two), contain brief explanations, and some exercises. The lessons do not always follow a “traditional” order for a Hebrew grammar. For instance, the prepositional lamed, which is usually included in a chapter on the prepositions (lesson 13), is actually introduced in the ninth grammatical lesson. Cook and Holmstedt do not present it for its prepositional function, but rather its use in possessive clauses. While verbs, and the Qal perfect conjugation, are presented in chapter 19, students learn about copular sentences in chapter 6. This also includes the verb ‫היה‬. Such ordering, which many traditional teachers will no doubt find strange, is based on the recognition “that language is learned in small chunks of information that alternate through the various aspects of grammar” (p. 10). The result is that students are to be reading and interacting with full Hebrew sentences in a textual context much earlier than with the traditional presentation of concepts, which require concepts to be compartmentalized until they are connected much later. The second part of the book is the Illustrated Reader. It begins at the “back” of the book, and reads right to left, just as the biblical Hebrew text. The Reader uses very little English, as it is meant to give the student specific contextualized interaction with the Hebrew language. The table of contents indicates the places the Reader should be used. The Illustrated Reader provides further vocabulary lists, and gives the students activities that require more than simple translation. The exercises in the reader require students to organize vocabulary according to type (e.g., animals vs. buildings) and use that vocabulary in actual communication. The Illustrated Reader also uses images as much as possible. Vocabulary words are not presented in lists, but with pictures. Best of all, students are provided with a graphical presentation of select stories from Genesis. These presentations resemble comic books, and contain just enough exposition and dialogue (in Hebrew) to allow the story to be told. The exercises give students a helpful context by which they can interact with and acquire the Hebrew terms and concepts with which they are working. Such centering of the acquisition process around the storytelling process fits nicely with the findings in SLA research. Those using Beginning Biblical Hebrew as a textbook should be prepared for a steep learning curve at the beginning of the adoption process. The authors do not provide much advice for instructors on how to use the textbook effectively. Because of the radical shift in methodology that they employ, this is an oversight that should be addressed in a future edition. Further, Cook and Holmstedt do not use the terminology that is common in the field of biblical Hebrew. For instance,



they use the term “bound nouns” instead of the “construct.” Their reason for avoiding jargon—the language is “idiosyncratic and archaic” (p. 11). Nevertheless, anyone who wants to study biblical Hebrew seriously will have to learn some of the specialized language in the field. This text’s approach may be valid from a student’s perspective, but I am not convinced that we do service to our students by avoiding such terms. Failure to do so at the introductory level may lead to confusion for students later on. This text is not for everybody, and should be used deliberately and strategically. Those adopting this book should use it as the primary textbook for the class. I attempted to adapt this text as a supplement to another text in my undergraduate Beginning Hebrew class. This did not work as well as it could have. Further, to use this text, class objectives must shift from a “covering” mentality. That is to say, instead of making the course goal “covering up to the strong verb,” the instructor’s goals must shift toward those like “students will be able to read basic Hebrew texts.” By embracing SLA practices, Cook and Holmstedt have provided a road map for further work in this direction. Cook and Holmstedt treat the language acquisition process as a contextual, wholebrained process, and in doing so, they provide a great service to their students. Beginning Biblical Hebrew is a cool breeze in what has often been a desert of biblical Hebrew pedagogy. WILLIAM K. BECHTOLD III Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Isaiah by David W. Baker. Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2013. xii + 227 pp., US $19.99, softcover. This commentary on Isaiah is a separate reprinting of what formerly appeared in volume 4 (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, and Daniel) of the five-volume series The Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary. Several of the more popular biblical books, such as Genesis (John H. Walton), Psalms (John W. Hilber), and Isaiah (David W. Baker), have been pulled out as stand-alone commentaries. The series itself was written by excellent scholars and fills an important niche. It provides cultural background information and interesting illustrations to highlight concepts in the biblical books that other


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commentaries often do not include. The commentary on Isaiah by David W. Baker is no exception. This commentary provides valuable information on the historical and cultural foundations of the book of Isaiah, which helps to confirm the accuracy of the people, nations, historical events, and the cultural characteristics noted in this book. For example, a picture of a rock relief recording Sennacherib’s capture of Lachish adds a certain reality to the events and depicts how Sennacherib accomplished it—it is the closest thing to a snapshot of this historical event that we will ever get. If “a picture is worth a thousand words,” then this commentary is truly a vast library. This well-written, well-illustrated work (over 2,000 illustrations) is primarily aimed at the layperson who wants to know more about the customs and history behind the biblical book. Some of the very useful illustrations include: Tiglath-pileser III (p. 4); a family and their oxen taken prisoner from Lachish (p. 5); an ancient butter churn (p. 42) to illustrate the passage speaking about “curds and honey”; the six-winged figure from Tel Halaf to illustrate the six-winged seraphim of Isa 6 (p. 35); the pictures of Lachish’s defeat at the hands of Sennacherib (pp. 122–23); and pig bones from Tell es-Safi to illustrate the offensive offerings described in Isa 66:3 (p. 187). Having said that, there are a few things that could help the reader have a better understanding of the ideas this book is trying to present. First, sometimes it is unclear why certain pictures were included or at least placed where they are. This could be improved by more consistency between the text and some of the illustrations and provide a more detailed description of the illustrations used. For example, why is the very first illustration a picture of “Sargon”? Would not a picture of Sennacherib or possibly Cyrus be more appropriate at the beginning of a commentary of Isaiah? But at the very least include a more detailed explanation as to why Sargon would be important. Another, lesser example of inconsistency appears on page 8, which features an illustration of “horses feeding at a manger”; however, chapter 1 does not mention “horses,” but does refer to “a donkey” and “a bull” knowing his master’s manger. However, to be fair, sometimes they do an excellent job of showing the connections, like on page 21 where they use the words “trading ships” in both the text and the illustration. Another place where they clearly show the connection is on page 25 where they have the “Allegory of the Vineyard (5:1-7) and right under it the picture of winemaking from ancient Egypt. Second, the endnotes are very complete and contain a great deal of helpful information. But because of their placement at the end of the book, it is very cumbersome for the reader to access them, especially



when there are 1,466. It would be far easier for the reader if each note were to appear on the page where it is actually referenced. Third, sometimes it is hard to make the connection as to how a particular cultural example helps us to understand the text better. For example, how does the Ugaritic incantation on page 110 help us to understand the “bread of adversity”? Or how does the comment about a Neo-Assyrian seal that depicts a god standing on the back of a horse help enlighten the passage in Isaiah 66:20 where the remnant is returning “by horses” (p. 188)? At first it is difficult to see the connection between the picture of Ashurnasirpal standing by a sacred tree (p.16) and the context of Isaiah 1:29 which speaks about the trees on the high places that they have desired; but the general description that follows helps link them somewhat. The explanation given concerning Isaiah 49:16 suggesting that this passage does not mean “ownership,” but a plan for the reconstructed city as illustrated by the inscribed brick from the palace in Larsa, is unconvincing (p. 163). Also many examples intended to illustrate a passage come from significantly different time periods. For example, on page 9, the Old Babylonian text describing the medicinal use of oil dates at least 1,000 years earlier. One would hope that in 1,000 years they would have learned much more about the healing properties of oil; for example, frankincense or other spices may have been augmented with oil (Tutankhamen [1336-1327] had frankincense placed in his burial tomb). Having said that, sometimes there is simply a lack of specific information from the ancient Near East and there is little we can do about that. Though most of the vocabulary in this book is geared to the lay reader, there are certain technical terms that should be defined: extispicy (“prophesying future events by using animal entrails,” p. 138); xenophobia (“fear of another nation,” p. 166); and Demotic script (“a stage in Egyptian writing,” p. 184). There are also a few needed corrections, such as on page 20 the impression is technically from a “stamp seal,” not a cylinder seal. The depiction of the weighing of the heart on page 29 could use further explanation so that the reader can more fully understand the illustration: if the heart is not equal in weight to the feather of truth, it will be devoured by Ammit (“devourer” or “soul-eater”). There is no doubt that this book fills a niche for the lay reader that is largely untouched and its numerous illustrations and some of the cultural materials are invaluable. However, as a commentary for biblical studies students, it does not provide enough discussion of the text of Isaiah to be required as the main textbook. Thus it is more likely to be


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relegated to supplemental reading in the library as opposed to a required textbook. PAUL WEGNER Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary

Journey to Joy: The Psalms of Ascent by Josh Moody. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2013, 181 pp., US $14.99, softcover. Journey to Joy is a psalm-by-psalm exploration of the main themes of the Psalms of Ascent (Pss 120–134), with a keen eye for how these themes have significance for one’s spiritual life in the twenty-first century. Its author, Josh Moody, is the senior pastor of College Church, in Wheaton, Illinois. He is a former pioneer missionary to Georgia and Azerbaijan, and did his doctoral work at the University of Cambridge, where he wrote about Jonathan Edwards and the Enlightenment. He is also well published, having edited the volume Jonathan Edwards and Justification (Crossway, 2012), with three other books: No Other Gospel: 31 Reasons from Galatians Why Justification by Faith Alone is the Only Gospel (Crossway, 2011), The God-Centered Life: Insights from Jonathan Edwards for Today (IVP UK, 2006), and Authentic Spirituality (Kingsway, 2000). The author emerges as passionate about contemporary Christian spirituality and its vitality in the church today. His experience with the Psalms appears to be more pastoral than academic. Moody approaches the Psalms as a collection of poetry which is meant to “help us put our feelings in the right place” (p. 14). By this, he means that psalms are tools which help us to “feel truly the truth,” giving us a place to express and bring our emotions into line with God’s will and God’s way. He colloquially calls his approach to the Psalms “Psalmnotherapy”—a fitting term—as he has a broad therapeutic and existential concern for one’s own personal journey towards God and one’s experience of God through the Psalms. This approach is also apparent in how Moody understands the historical context of the Psalms. After reviewing several speculated historical settings (p. 14–15), he advocates the idea that these fifteen psalms were arranged in a purposeful order, designed to challenge the emotional feeling of the worshipper as she journeys towards Jerusalem or God. One may agree or disagree with him, but the advantage of this setting is somewhat convenient for his aims.



The book is structured much like the Psalms of Ascent themselves. After a brief preface, each of the fifteen chapters is devoted to one of the fifteen psalms. A thematic title has been given to every chapter matching his exposition of the psalm. For example, chapter 1 is called “Peace” (Ps 120), while chapter 9 is titled, “The Blessing of Family” (Ps 128). Chapters are roughly ten pages in length, well-suited for their intended purpose as daily devotionals. Moody seems to have used this material within the church he pastors, and writes for a typical American, conservative evangelical Christian. Structurally, each chapter follows the same template. The full psalm is printed at the beginning of the chapter, using the English Standard Version. This is followed by a few page introduction to the theme explored in the chapter. The remaining section of the chapter is an expository walk through of the psalm, usually taking one or two verses at a time. There are a few tendencies of each chapter that were somewhat striking to me, and hint towards an underlying problem for the book, which may simply be true of devotional books generally. The aim of every chapter is to point out a potential problem in our contemporary spiritual experience, and then show how the psalm was designed to address that specific problem. An example comes from the third chapter on Ps 122, a chapter which Moody thematically summarizes as “church.” For him, the value of the psalm is the analogy between the love that an Israelite was to have towards Jerusalem and the love a Christian is to have towards the church. Both Jerusalem and the church provide a place for loving community, fulfilling a deep need for connection—a place where not only God’s people can connect, but also where God and his people meet. In his exposition of the psalm, Moody shows how this theme connects to the two main ideas of the psalm: resisting individualism (vv. 1–4), and rejecting cynicism (vv. 5–9). While these two points are important words to hear in the contemporary church, Moody did not make it clear just how different our contemporary experience is from that of ancient Israel. For instance, in the first half of the psalm, Moody does not acknowledge that our modern view of individualism finds no parallel in ancient Israel. It is simply not true that “the first part of this psalm is a very clear rejection of any individualistic notion of what it means to have a relationship with God” (p. 43). Such an idea could have never crossed the psalmist’s mind, and no attempt is made to show how cultural notions of individuality and community in the ancient world are related to our modern views. Similarly, in the second half of the psalm it is the author who rejects cynicism, not the psalmist himself. Certainly, cynicism may have been a response to the worshipful affirmations of the psalm, but a number of other reactions could have also existed. The problem is that Moody makes it seem like


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the psalmist wrote the psalm to confront these particular twenty-first century concerns. Similar concerns were also found in other chapters. To conclude, Moody is certainly a wonderful communicator. He is able to connect well with the reader in each chapter, as his introductory sections draw in the reader. What he has to say for the church is quite helpful, and I found myself on my own journey of theological reflection as I read through the book. But given the concerns above, I would also recommend supplementing this book with a close study of the Psalms using other commentaries or guides. With that caveat, I would recommend this book for use in the contemporary church. ANDREW WITT Wycliffe College at the University of Toronto

From Conquest to Coexistence: Ideology and Antiquarian Intent in the Historiography of Israel’s Settlement in Canaan by Koert van Bekkum. Culture and History of the Ancient Near East 45. Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2011. xxi + 691 pp., US $249.45, hardcover. A lightly revised version of his 2010 doctoral dissertation completed under the supervision of G. Kwakkel at the Theologische Universiteit Kampen, van Bekkum’s From Conquest to Coexistence is an ambitious project. It explores in significant detail “the plausibility of the historical truth-claims of Joshua 9:1–13:7 by appreciating [this section’s] literary forms and ideology and by bringing the historical implications of this text into dialogue with the relevant artefactual evidence” (p. 594). Van Bekkum’s choice of Josh 9:1–13:7 as his focus text is motivated by the fact that this section comprises a “clear textual unit,” presents a “unified conquest,” is of a style that can be compared to “non-biblical conquest accounts,” and names more than thirty conquered cities, which makes the unit “more suitable for the interdisciplinary dialogue with the artefactual evidence than a passage like Josh 6–8, which tells about the conquest of only two cities with a disputed archaeological reputation, namely Jericho and Ai” (p. 91). The volume is structured in four parts. Part I, “Text and Artefact” (pp. 7–92), addresses a number of issues surrounding the much debated topic of Israel’s conquest of/emergence in Canaan. Importantly, along the way van Bekkum lays out a clear understanding of history writing as “a kind of representational art” in which “artistic construction, simplification, selectivity and suggestive detail” are not merely “literary embellishments within some



referential constraints,” but “essential elements” in the way narrative historiography works (p. 36). This conviction leads van Bekkum to a three-stage methodological approach to biblical texts: (1) study literary artistry and genre conventions; (2) formulate and define historical truthclaims; (3) test truth-value by bringing the results into dialogue with artefactual evidence (pp. 36–37). With all this the present reviewer is in hearty agreement (cf. my Art of Biblical History, 1994). What distinguishes van Bekkum’s volume is not only the soundness of his approach but its thoroughness. Recognizing that historical analysis requires that “text” and “artefact” be brought into dialogue only after each is thoroughly investigated in its own right, van Bekkum shapes the remainder of his volume accordingly. Part II, “Monologue of Text” (pp. 95–423), offers a linguistic and literary analysis of Josh 9:1–13:7, including a meticulous, annotated translation as well as separate chapters on synchronic and diachronic concerns. This textual work leads van Bekkum to formulate an “historiographical hypothesis” that the text under consideration is, indeed, “full of artistic construction, selectivity and suggestive detail mirroring the aims and beliefs of its scribes” and is a “transmitted,” not a “found,” text, but all the same constitutes genuine ancient historiography composed by scribes who “respected their oral and textual sources” (p. 411). On the question of provenance, van Bekkum avers that this “piece of ancient Hebrew historiography [was likely] composed in Judah between the late 10th and the early 8th century B.C.E. with [the] help of Late Bronze memories” (p. 575; cf. pp. 409–10). Part III, “Monologue of Artefact” (pp. 427–572), comprises a thorough-going review of cities and regions mentioned in Josh 9:1–13:7. The archaeological exploration, as van Bekkum notes is “not purely independent and objective,” inasmuch as “the selection of sites under discussion is given by the text” and “the period under review is marked out by the historiographical hypothesis” (p. 427) formulated in Part II. This being so, van Bekkum is scrupulous in treating the archaeological data on their own terms and in their own contexts. Additionally, regular sections addressing the “regional perspective” provide a broader perspective. Two of the more controversial sites with respect to the biblical account of Israel’s entry into Canaan, i.e. Jericho and Ai, do not figure into van Bekkum’s textual unit and so receive only the occasional passing comment that they are problematical. He sensibly suggests that discussion of the archaeology of the Book of Joshua should, in any case, not rest on only two sites but on the other “31 identified locations mentioned within the boundaries of the Cisjordanian ‘conquered land’ of Joshua 9:1–13:7” (p. 461). His survey of these sites is commendably detailed, especially considering the necessary breadth of his project. In


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the course of his survey, van Bekkum cautiously addresses a number of controversial issues such as Finkelstein’s proposed “low chronology,” the dating of the famous gates at Hazor, Gezer, and Megiddo, Eilat Mazar’s “large stone structure” in Jerusalem, the proliferation of Central Hill Country villages in Iron I, and others. In Part IV, “Dialogue of Text and Artefact” (pp. 575–592), van Bekkum harvests the fruit of his labours. While recognizing that problems remain with Jericho, Ai, and Gibeon (only the latter of which is treated in any depth), he concludes that “the overall pattern is quite positive,” in particular in view of correlations “between archaeological excavations and the Egyptian New Kingdom texts describing Asiatic campaigns.” He concludes that “the possibility of some late 10th or 9th century B.C.E. scribes writing about the conquest of the land by a group called ‘Israel’ during the Late Bronze Age cannot be ruled out from an archaeological point of view” (p. 579). Indeed, for van Bekkum, “the overall pattern of historical truth-claims of Joshua 9:1–13:7”—“a story going ‘from conquest to coexistence’”—offers the best explanation of the complex archaeological picture (pp. 584–85). In short, “there is no considerable distance between story and history” (p. 592). There is much to commend in this sensible and erudite volume, but it is not without its minor flaws. A fair number of typos, grammatical/syntactical mistakes, malaprops, non-standard spellings (e.g., “Rehabeam and Jerobeam” [p. 402]), and instances of “DutchEnglish” (e.g., the occasional occurrence of “en” in place of “and,” or of the uncommon “decennia” in place of “decades”) managed to survive the editing process. Given the complexity of the volume, such survivors are, perhaps, to be expected, but given the importance of the volume, it is too bad that they hinder the reading process slightly. These minor flaws aside, the volume is very attractively produced with helpful maps and illustrations sprinkled throughout, and with an extensive bibliography and excellent indices. An added bonus is an epilogue in which van Bekkum offers a brief account of who he is, where he stands on certain philosophical and theological issues, why he has chosen to avoid unhelpful terms such as “maximalist” and “minimalist,” and so forth. Understanding amongst those engaged in debates surrounding Israel’s history and historiography would be enhanced if more scholars were similarly self-aware and forthcoming. In a day and age in which there is too much to read and long books in particular are daunting, perhaps the best way to conclude this review is to say that I am glad to have read this long book. It is a wellconceived, thoroughly researched, well-ordered and executed, packed with useful information, and duly cautious and sensible in its judgments.



It is a book that I shall keep on my shelf and return to often, especially for its archaeological summaries. V. PHILIPS LONG Regent College, Vancouver

Jerusalem and the Nations: Studies in the Book of Isaiah by Ronald E. Clements. Hebrew Bible Monographs 16. Sheffield: Phoenix Press, 2011. xii + 248 pp., US $90.00, hardcover. R. E. Clements is a well-known commentator on the Hebrew Bible, having contributed commentaries on Exodus, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, as well as his Old Testament Theology: A Fresh Approach. This collection of essays focuses on the development of the book of Isaiah, and more specifically, on the Assyrian invasion of 701 B.C. Clements is revisiting his Isaiah and the Deliverance of Israel (JSOT, 1980), updating and occasionally modifying some of his views. Studies on the Assyrian invasion usually focus on historical problems presented by the various siege reports of Jerusalem and Hezekiah’s survival. Clements maintains that failure to recognize the literary and theological aspects of the deliverance of Jerusalem prevents the reader from fully appreciating the story in the context of the collection of prophecies in the book of Isaiah. This first part of the book concerns the formation of the book of Isaiah. Clements comments in a later chapter that Isaiah must be considered one of the most complicated writings in the Hebrew Bible (p. 226). Few scholars read the book as coming from a single, eighthcentury prophet, and even the idea of a simple scheme of two Isaiahs is difficult to maintain. Clements sees the prophetic books as “piecemeal assemblages put together from a number of ancient documents” (p. 9). The main purpose of assembling the prophetic books was to “present an overall picture of God’s plan and purpose for Israel” (p. 5). But he would resist calling a book like Isaiah an anthology since there is a careful plan and structure to the book. Recent studies on the prophets have suggested that later writers interpreted the words of a prophet in light of new situations, so that prophecy became a “living dialogue between God and Israel” (p. 13). In current prophetic studies this dialogue is often called “intertextuality”—a popular term in biblical studies that ought to be defined carefully. Clements points out that his view of intertextuality in Isaiah is not merely word-games, but a serious attempt to re-read older prophecy and apply it


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to new situations. As the prophecy moved from spoken word to written books, the words of the prophet would naturally be understood in light of present realities. The most obvious “historical reality” for the prophetic books of the Hebrew Bible is the fall of Jerusalem. Unlike the Assyrian invasion in 701 B.C., God did not protect the city in 587 B.C., and thus the story of God’s rescue of Jerusalem “took on a different complexion later when the city was destroyed” (p. 15). There is perhaps another episode in the Persian period that forms the background to another re-reading of the earlier prophecies of Isaiah. In this final edit of Isaiah, chapters 1–4 and 65–66 were added in response to this conflict. Clements discusses the evidence for this final edit in chapters 3 and 15. Only Isaiah 5–35 is in response to the two political crises of the eighth century. It is likely that many evangelical readers will not accept Clements’ discussion of the formation of a prophetic book since he does not think the whole book came from an eighth-century prophet named Isaiah. Since he is suggesting later layers of the book of Isaiah interpret the earlier ones intertextually, Clements is open to the criticism faced by intertexual studies. The later interpretations are only valid if the earlier text is in fact earlier. Clements argues in his third chapter that Isa 1–4 and 65–66 were added in the final edition of the book and that they interpret the whole book in the light of events at the time of the final edit. But if it can be shown that these chapters were not the last to be added to the book, then this re-reading of an earlier Isaiah cannot be maintained. Someone might argue that chapters 1–4 come from the original eighthcentury prophet, not a Persian-era prophetic editor. Intertextuality works best when applied to separate books that are clearly datable, or better still, the New Testament use of the Hebrew Bible. Within a smaller canon like Isaiah, it is much more difficult to prove which text is the earliest in order to determine the direction of the intertextual link. The second section of the book (chs. 6–10) focuses specifically on the Assyrian invasion of 701 B.C. Some elements of the story told in 2 Kings, Isaiah, and the Sennacherib Chronicle are certain (for example: Sennacherib invaded Judah but Jerusalem was not destroyed). The main problem is the biblical claim that the Angel of the Lord destroyed much of Sennacherib’s army. The biblical material sees this as a divine intervention to preserve the kingdom of Judah, while the Assyrian records simply do not explain why Sennacherib did not destroy Jerusalem. Clements argues the miraculous rescue story developed over a long period of time in response to growing threats to Judah in the sixth century B.C. (p. 81). The theology of the story is that Mesopotamian imperialism is a direct attack on Yahweh’s authority over Judah. When



the Assyrians invaded, God miraculously defended his city Jerusalem. When the story is told in the sixth century, Jerusalem is threatened by Babylon, another blasphemous Mesopotamian empire. Clements suggests the story of God’s deliverance influenced the disastrous policies of Jehoiakim and Zedekiah. The “final form,” however, consciously contrasts the events of 701 (preservation of the nation) with the events of 587 (p. 82). Clements interprets some of the Oracles of Woe (Isa 28:1–31:9) in the context of the political uncertainty just prior to the Assyrian invasion, but others seem to reflect a time after the invasion. Reliance on Egypt as a worthless illusion is a main theme of the unit and the prophet warns against any alliance with Assyria. Both were options for Hezekiah prior to the crisis, but after the miraculous delivery of Jerusalem, reliance on God is the only real option. Clements once argued that the collection of messages was perhaps made in the sixth century during the nationalistic revivals of Josiah’s reign. Now he sees these chapters as part of the original eighth-century prophetic material (a so-called “Isaiah Memoir”), albeit edited and revised in the light of later events (p. 97). The third section of the book examines Isaiah in the light of a Persian context, although the essays are not as cohesive as those in the second section of the book. Chapters 11–14 are reprinted articles dealing with specific texts. Chapter 12 concerns Isa 14:22–27. Two chapters study elements of the servant songs: Isa 53 and the restoration of Israel (ch. 12) and the “light to the nations” (ch. 13). In chapter 14 Clements suggests that the symbol of Zion-Jerusalem is an intertextual link between the two major sections of the book. Rather than looking for two sequential prophetic calling experiences in either half of the book, Clements suggests that the central theme of Zion links the halves. Just as God delivered Zion in the past, so too, will he rescue Zion again in the future. In chapter 15 Clements builds on many of the observations found in the book and suggests Isa 1:1–31 functions as an introduction to the book. He has already argued that Isa 5–35 form the earliest unit of Isaiah, and many scholars now follow Marvin Sweeney, who argued chapters 1– 4 are an introduction to Isaiah. Clements sees chapters 2–4 as a selfcontained unit that he calls “The Little Book of Zion.” The confident hope of a restored Zion is threatened in this introductory message as the leaders of Israel are described as rebels and are threatened with destruction. In conclusion, this collection of essays is a valuable contribution to the study of Isaiah. It is always convenient for essays originally published in obscure festschrifts to be collected and reprinted, but the essays produced specifically for this book are what make this volume


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particularly valuable. Despite the cogency of his arguments, Clements will likely not convince some evangelicals on aspects of the formation of prophetic books like Isaiah. Nevertheless, his observations on the final, canonical form of Isaiah are excellent and ought to be integrated into any serious study of the book of Isaiah. PHILLIP J. LONG Grace Bible College

Psalms 1–2: Gateway to the Psalter by Robert L. Cole. Hebrew Bible Monographs 37. Sheffield: Phoenix, 2013. ix + 182 pp., US $80.00, hardcover. In this monograph Robert Cole follows up on his published dissertation, The Shape and Message of Book III (Pss.73–89) (Sheffield Academic, 2000) by studying the first two Psalms as a canonical introduction to the entire Psalter. What sets this study apart from other similar monographs is Cole’s application of his method to the third Psalm. After providing a close analysis of Pss 1–2 in order to show that they are intended to be read as an introduction to the book, he examines Ps 3 in order to show that there are verbal and thematic connections between the first three Psalms. Cole argues that the canonical arrangement of the first three Psalms is intentional. Furthermore, Cole argues that the first two Psalms have broader connections to other canonical seams in the Psalter as well as connections to the canonical arrangement of the Hebrew Bible. As his first chapter makes clear, the notion that the first two Psalms are an introduction to the whole Psalter is not a new idea. In his exhaustive literature survey, Cole shows that while many previous writers have spoken of Pss 1–2 as an introduction to book of Psalms, few see the “fundamental and irreconcilable opposition that exists between a serious grappling with the canonical shape of the Psalter and Gunkel’s explicit rejection of it” (p. 44). In fact, a major motivation for Cole is his rejection of form critical categories since these categories obscure the canonical shape of the Psalter. He concludes that Gunkel’s rejection of canonical order is based on the categories of form criticism. Since the order of the Psalter did not conform to Gunkel’s own categories, he rejected any shaping of the Psalter (p. 157). In chapter 2, Cole examines the details of Ps 1 in order to show the lexical lineages to Ps 2, as well as many other links to canonical seams in the Psalter. For example, Pss 1:2 and 40:9 [ET 40:8] both



feature “delighting in the will of God and his Torah.” Cole identifies this as “an inclusio across the initial division of the Psalter” (p. 61). He examines the structure of the psalm, pointing out the minimal acrostic pattern and clear structural features marking it off as a clear unit. He then provides a detailed commentary on the psalm in which he detects a number of close parallels to Josh 1:7–8. While he follows the work of Botha on intertextuality and Ps 1, Cole does not describe the parallels between Ps 1 and Josh 1 as an “intertextual relationship,” although one could easily use the term. In both contexts there is an admonition to meditate on the Torah both day and night as well as a promise of success for the man who makes such a commitment. For Cole, the one who is to “meditate on the Law day and night” is the ruler of the people. Since Ps 1 was described by Gunkel as a “wisdom psalm,” the verbal connections to Ps 2 were obscured. By connecting the righteous man of Ps 1 to Josh 1:7–8, Cole can argue that Ps 1 is more like a royal psalm, providing further evidence of a connection to Ps 2. But he goes beyond this by suggesting that Ps 1 looks forward to a future, conquering king in the pattern of Joshua—the monarch of Ps 2. Psalm 1 is a description of an eschatological future in which the wicked will be destroyed and the righteous will be preserved (p. 78). He finds support for this eschatological reading of the Psalm in the shape of the Hebrew Canon, where Malachi is immediately followed by Ps 1. He offers a number of lexical and thematic parallels between Mal 3 and Ps 1 (p. 73). In fact, with Josh 1:7–8 as the introduction to the Prophets and Mal 3 as the conclusion, these themes form an inclusio for the Prophets as well as an introduction to the Psalter. Cole provides a similar analysis of Ps 2 in chapter 3. While Ps 2 is certainly different than Ps 1, there is ample evidence of purposeful juxtaposition of the two. Cole provides a comprehensive list of the verbal links between Ps 1 and 2. Like the first Psalm, Ps 2 has a number of “overt verbal connectors” appearing in the canonical seams of the Psalter (42, 72, and 89) as well as the conclusion to the book (Pss 146–50). Having shown the close links between Pss 1 and 2 as well as numerous lexical links to the other canonical seams in the psalter, Cole examines Ps 3 in his final chapter to show that this Psalm takes up further topics raised by the first two psalms (p. 163). He provides numerous verbal links as well as thematic links such as the human King David threatened by his enemies. The fate of the enemies in both psalms is similar, for example, and both Ps 2 and 3 begin with similar questions (why? how long?). This reading of Ps 3 in the light of the first two psalms has been obscured by Gunkel’s dismissal of a purposeful arrangement of the Psalter as well as his description of Ps 1 as a wisdom psalm and Ps 2 as a royal psalm. The verbal and thematic connections


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between Pss 1–2 and Ps 3 indicate that the “Psalter’s order deserves, like any other book, to be seriously considered on its own merits” (p. 157). This conclusion is not unlike Gerald Wilson’s The Editing of the Hebrew Psalter (Scholars, 1985). Cole’s motivation to move the study of the canonical shape of the Psalter out of the long shadow of Gunkel is commendable and he is able to assemble a great deal of evidence from Pss 1–3 for the canonical shaping of the Psalter. But Cole’s monograph is only a first step in the exploration of the formation of the Psalter. As Cole concludes, a similar detailed study of each Psalm is required in order to determine how they were intentionally arranged. PHILLIP J. LONG Grace Bible College

Against the Gods: The Polemical Theology of the Old Testament by John D. Currid. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2013. 153 pp., US $17.99, softcover. Awareness of the similarities between ancient Near Eastern literature and the Old Testament is growing in popular culture. More and more programming on television, not to mention internet sources, addresses topics of archaeological and ancient textual interest. This comparative material rarely receives comment in the context of teaching and preaching in today’s evangelical churches. As a consequence, most Christians, especially young people engaged in university studies, are clueless what to think when they first encounter these similarities. Currid writes for this audience, offering a work that “is introductory and, therefore, is designed for those who know little about the topic of polemical theology” (p. 10). He is careful to note that polemics are not the only relationship between the Old Testament and ancient Near Eastern backgrounds (p. 141); but this is a dominant literary technique underlying much of the biblical text. His book, therefore, is a help for educating the church and broader culture. Chapter 1 provides “a cursory outline of the history of ancient Near Eastern studies” and its “relationship to the field of biblical studies” (p. 11). This overview captures the essential movements in clear and helpful fashion. Currid could have been more careful, however, when addressing current discussions within evangelical studies. His one paragraph describing accommodationist hermeneutics lumps together Peter Enns and John Walton. He concludes that such scholars “do not recognize, to any great degree, the foundational differences between [Old



Testament theology and ancient world perspectives]” (p. 23). This representation is unfair to the diversity within the evangelical guild as well as the clear statements by such comparativists regarding significant worldview differences. Perhaps some reductionism is necessary in this sort of cursory treatment, but I think more care is necessary when representing others who are personally close to the tradition of the intended audience. Personal reputations aside, the complexity of this issue deserves a more thorough and nuanced introduction for the “uninitiated” (later discussion in chapter 3 notwithstanding). Chapter 2 defines polemics: “Polemical theology is the use by biblical writers of the thought forms and stories that were common in ancient Near Eastern culture, while filling them with radically new meaning” (p. 25). Further discussion in this chapter clarifies this definition when Currid highlights that polemics “demonstrate essential distinctions between Hebrew thought and ancient Near Eastern beliefs and practices” (p. 26). The remaining pages of this chapter illustrate this definition with a few simple examples, thereby setting the stage for indepth treatment of more complex cases in the chapters that follow. Genesis 1 and ANE creation accounts are the topic of chapter 3. Currid contrasts his own view not only with that of the older panbabylonianism represented by Delitzsch, but also with Peter Enns, John Walton, and Bruce Waltke, who, in his terms, illustrate a recent evangelical trend to “drift” and “wane” on opposition to older critical perspectives (p. 34). In particular, he is concerned about affirmations that the Old Testament accommodates itself to an ancient Near Eastern view of the cosmos while only demythologizing the polytheistic religious associations. Such a posture in his view differs little from Delitzsch. Having lumped these evangelicals with Delitzsch, Currid critiques the whole position: It undervalues and undercuts the originality and exceptional nature of the Hebrew world-and-life view. Thus sits the question in a nutshell: is the Hebrew creation account distinct thought at its very core or not? Is it merely another ancient Near Eastern myth that has been cleansed, or is it a radical, unique cosmogonical view? Or is it something in between? (p. 35) This frames the question, but unfortunately, Currid never answers it clearly. When he analyzes key differences between the Bible and ancient Near Eastern accounts, he notes the unique transcendence of the Bible’s Creator-God, ex-nihilo creation, the dignity of humanity’s purpose in the Bible, and the means by which Israel’s God creates in contrast to the diverse portraits of other ancient accounts. These surely are “radical”


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differences in biblical theology. But in the end, it seems that his “radical” distinctions are not much different than the views expressed by evangelicals whom he has criticized. There is disagreement on whether ex-nihilo creation is clear in Gen 1 (exegetically, it is only inferential), but all evangelicals with whom I am familiar would affirm creation exnihilo at the level of biblical theology, even if needing to draw from outside of Gen 1 to do so. His mention of creation by word in the Memphite theology needs more elaboration, as this is a key similarity that often shocks people on first encounter. His contrast on page 46 could be strengthened by the observation that in this text, the creator-god, Ptah, is himself identified with the cosmic waters (compound name Ptah-Nun). Chapter 4 treats the flood account, chapter 5 the spurned seductress motif in the Joseph narrative, and chapter 6 the similarities between the birth of Moses and stories of other persecuted children who rise to fame and power. Currid’s expansion of discussion in chapter 6 beyond the Sargon legend to include Egyptian and Hittite stories is particularly helpful. Chapter 7 compares the flight of Moses to Midian with the Story of Sinuhe. Currid maintains that both utilize a well-known “exile-return” motif, only rather than Moses longing for Egypt and Pharaoh’s court, he exhibits the opposite of the expected Egyptian “virtues.” Whether the ancient audience would have reflexively thought of Sinuhe when hearing the Moses story is questionable in my judgment, but the polemical commentary by Exodus on Egyptian values espoused by Sinuhe would have been stark. Chapter 8 introduces a “little known parallel” (p. 97), indeed new to me. A line in the Egyptian “Book of the Heavenly Cow” reports the words of Re: “I am that I am. I will not let them take action” (p. 100; referring to humanity’s rebellion in “The Destruction of Mankind”). Following the lead of Egyptologists Hornung and Fecht, Currid argues that since both the Egyptian text (Egyptian ywy ymy) and Exod 3:14 (’ehyeh ’asher ’ehyeh) use the idem per idem formula with similar sound, morphology, and semantic intent, there is an intertextual play between Exodus and the Egyptian text. Each reader will need to judge the merits of this interesting suggestion. The parallel is not close phonetically or morphologically (contra Currid), but a semantic similarity is there. Nevertheless, the cogency of any proposed literary allusion is dependent upon the target audience’s sphere of relevance. For me, the association remains doubtful. The possibility that Yahweh’s speech co-opted the words of Re is difficult in that it assumes a Semitic audience would appreciate this very subtle, semantic allusion. Currid’s preferred explanation, that a Pharaoh polemicized against the name “Yahweh” (p. 107, 109), is more problematic, since even Currid recognizes that the



“Book of the Heavenly Cow” most likely pre-dates Moses (p. 98). Even if not of Middle Egyptian origin, the appearance of this text in the tomb of Seti I precludes the possibility if Moses dates to the thirteenth century. For this suggestion to work, the explication of the divine name using the idem per idem formula must have existed alongside the name itself in patriarchal times. Chapters 9 and 10 consider the Rod of Moses and the parting of the Red Sea, respectively. As one might have already observed, most of Currid’s discussions engages polemics involving Egyptian background. Considering the preponderance of attention usually given to Canaanite and Mesopotamian background, this welcome treatment redresses an imbalance for those already familiar with Old Testament polemics. However, the final chapter (ch. 10) does offer concise discussion of several commonly recognized polemics against Canaanite religion. In sum, I find helpful discussion in Currid’s book. Explanations are basic and clear (well-suited to the intended audience). One may wish for more extensive discussion or inclusion of other examples, but given the nature of the target audience and the subject matter, this book is of good length (i.e., brief). It can be read tolerably by a popular audience, hopefully whetting the appetite for more comparative study that similarly enriches one’s understanding and appreciation of the message of the Old Testament. JOHN W. HILBER Grand Rapids Theological Seminary

Jewish and Christian Approaches to the Psalms: Approaches and Convergence edited by Susan Gillingham. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. xix + 271 pp., US $125.00, hardcover. This volume assembles the published papers originally presented at a conference on the Psalter at Worcester College, Oxford, in the fall of 2010. The contributors represent scholars from both Jewish and Christian traditions. Throughout the collection the scholars from each tradition respond to one another. The varieties of scholarly traditions draw out the very conflict and even convergence alluded to in the subtitle. The work contains an introduction by Susan Gillingham, followed by 20 essays divided into three parts, and concludes with three indexes (i.e., names, subject, psalms). The work also includes 16 full color plates. The range of topics and the interaction between scholars


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make this collection a fruitful addition to the current state of Psalms studies. The first part of the volume, “Jewish and Christian Responses to the Psalms,” includes 10 essays. This part reflects the convergence of ideas between Jewish and Christian scholars. The first six essays show a collaborative effort and exchange between the presenters. The first two essays, Peter W. Flint’s “The Dead Sea Psalms Scrolls,” and Geza Vermes’s “Reflections on the Canon and the Text of the Bible,” suggest the idea that there was not a uniform or Urtext for the Psalter. Both of these scholars, especially Flint, work through multiple Psalms manuscripts from the Judean desert to point to “textual elasticity,” variant readings, and different ordering of individual psalms as the rationale for challenging the assumption of an original Hebrew Psalter. The second round of essays in Part 1 consists of Adele Berlin’s paper “Medieval Answers to Modern Questions,” followed by Corinna Körting’s response “Medieval Psalms Exegesis as a Challenge to Modern Exegesis.” Berlin’s paper was a delight to read. As a means of representing the nuances of medieval exegetes, Berlin presented an imagined interview with Saadi, Rashi, Ibn Ezra, and David Qimhi. Körting’s response attempted to establish how modern exegetes struggle with the same issues as their medieval counterparts—cultural situation, tradition, and the relationship and understanding of divine and human language within the Psalter. The third round of essays in Part 1 consists of two essays focused on the reception history of Ps 137 within both Jewish and Christian traditions. Susan Gillingham’s essay surveys the reception of this psalm in both traditions throughout the centuries. She suggested that the psalm does not lend itself to either a “David-centered” reading or a “Christ-centered” reading (p. 79). Thus, this psalm is an illustration of a “life-centered” approach to the Psalter, whereby the “I” of the psalm is anyone who “maintains integrity of faith even when the going is hard” (p. 80). Jonathan Magonet expands upon the previous essay and suggests the implications of the closing section of the psalm—the expression of anger and curses—when incorporated into a holistic reading. The final four essays in Part 1 are Elizabeth Solopova’s “The Liturgical Psalter in Medieval Europe,” Aaron Rosen’s “True Lights: Seeing the Psalms through Chagall’s Church Windows,” David Mitchell’s “How Can We Sing the Lord’s Song? Deciphering the Masoretic Cantillation,” and John Sawyer’s “The Psalms in Judaism and Christianity.” All four of the essays focus on either the use of the psalms in art or in music and how these observations can assist in creating dialogue between Christianity and Judaism. Mitchell’s essay was a joy to



read and the insights he provided were interesting. I would venture a guess that many scholars of the Psalter have experienced the awareness of the “absence of music” as they read the Psalms, and have even asked the question, “Where is the tune?” (p. 119). Mitchell surveyed the cantillation system of Haïk-Vantoura and provided a full transcription with musical notations for Pss 23, 95, and 122. I am not trained in music; however, I am currently working on a project with a church musician. I am providing translations for some key psalms and pointing out how I believe the Masoretic accents may function to establish lines that may prove useful for putting these psalms to music. Mitchell’s essay opened the door for further research as to how to bring the words of the Psalter into the music of the modern church (it may be more correct to say, bring the singing of the Psalter back into the church). The second major section “Reading the Psalter” includes six essays. These essays return to the format of a paper from one tradition followed by a response from the other. In the essay “The Psalter as Theodicy Writ Large,” Bill Bellinger suggested that the “questions raised by the trouble and woe of exile and its aftermath as pervading all the parts of the Psalter” (p. 157). For Bellinger the idea of theodicy is expressed in the issues of the kingship of Yahweh and the tradition of protest expressed in Books Four and Five. Thus, the approach of interpreting the Psalter as a book can have a major impact on a reading community, especially one attempting to understand the relationship between faith and reality, whether in the Jewish or Christian tradition. Dirk Human responded to Bellinger in his essay “The Psalter and Theodicy: Perspectives Related to a Rhetorical Approach.” The next set of essays represents different approaches to reading the Psalter as a book. Klaus Seybold’s essay “The Psalter as a Book” once again brings up the issue of an Urtext. Seybold offers the idea of “a scroll of texts” as the “first elusive scroll of the book of Psalms” (p. 169). He gives seven suggestions which point to the possibility of a type of Urtext. In David Howard’s response to Seybold, “The Proto-MT, the King, and Psalms 1 and 2,” he discusses the competing perspectives of the “Psalter of Moses” and the “Psalter of David” brought up by Seybold (pp. 178, 185–87). The final set of essays in Part 3 consists of Nancy deClaisséWalford’s paper “On Translating the Poetry of the Psalms” and Philip Johnston’s paper “Traduttore Traditore, Beowulf, and the Psalms.” deClaissé-Walford’s essay was, at least in my mind, one of the more thought-provoking papers. Her insights were developed initially in her work with the Bible translation project “The Voice” and the forthcoming Psalms volume in the NICOT series. Her work in the latter project brought up four issues, each of which she discusses in detail. Though


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these issues are not new to anyone who has worked in Hebrew poetry, her reflections on the translation of certain Hebrew words; the repetition of Hebrew sounds, verbal roots, and words and phrases; maintaining the word order of Hebrew poetry; and the use of gender neutral language, were valuable and to be considered by scholars of the Psalter. Her insights are providing fodder for the project I previously mentioned— singing the Psalms. Johnston’s critique of deClaissé-Walford’s paper is fair and he does find exceptions for most of her suggestions. He seems to suggest that translation must be on a case-by-case basis. He notes, “In translation there is never a correct version” because in a sense we will always prove the proverb Traduttore traditore (p. 208). The final part of these collected essays focuses on the Psalms from the perspective of the past and the present. In two separate papers John Day and Erhard Gerstenberger deal with the correspondence and similarities between some of the psalms and other ancient Near Eastern hymns. Day discusses Ps 104 and Akhenaten’s “Hymn to the Sun.” Gerstenberger opines on the correspondence between Sumerian hymns and forms in the Psalter. Frank-Lothar Hossfeld and Till Magnus Steiner compare the Psalter to a great house in their essay “Problems and Prospects in Psalter Studies.” The authors note that the Psalter “in its final form, is complex and cannot be restricted to viewing it in just one dimension: we encounter several different corridors and floors, and each offers infinite opportunities for the reception and delivery of different messages” (p. 241). They suggest that the future study of the Psalter must be one in which synchronic and diachronic study enlighten each other (pp. 248–49). John Barton provides a postscript for these collected essays. Barton’s insightful comment that seems to be a natural observation from these essays: “I am surprised no one has organized a theology of the Old Testament around the Psalter” (p. 259). The aim of this collection and the conference from which it came was to open the door for dialogue between the Jewish and Christian traditions and their understandings of the Hebrew Psalter. The range of ideas and issues presented in these papers cover the spectrum of scholarship related to the Psalms. The dialogue, at least in print, was considerate and constructive. This volume shows, that in many ways, there is convergence between the traditions. Yet, the conflict, or maybe “differences” is a better word, is just as obvious. These collected essays are a good example of how listening to those from another tradition could very well advance the scholarship of any given area of biblical studies. Any serious scholar or student of the Psalter should read this work. A Psalms scholar may not be familiar with some of the material in



the book, such as Chagall’s art or musical notations. Any paper in this volume may just open a door they did not even know was there to be opened. JOSHUA E. STEWART Luther Rice University

Invitation to the Psalms: A Reader’s Guide for Discovery and Engagement by Rolf A. Jacobson and Karl N. Jacobson. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2013. 184 pp., US $15.00, softcover. Rolf Jacobson, associate professor of Old Testament at Luther Seminary, has written several books, journal articles, and conference papers on the Psalms throughout his career. His brother, Karl, is an assistant professor of religion at Augsburg College. Karl has written a study guide on Jonah for the Book of Faith series published by Augsburg Fortress. In their previous collaboration, Crazy Book: A Not-So-Stuffy Dictionary of Biblical Terms, the Jacobson brothers interpret Scripture in an informal and humorous tone. The purpose of present volume is to teach about the psalms in a simple way so that believers “may learn to read, pray, sing, shout, chant, and wonder the psalms” (p. 2). The authors present the psalms with a fresh outlook in order to create a deeper appreciation of the book in the reader. By focusing on the construction, genres, voice, metaphors, and theology of the psalms, the reader will gain a better historical understanding of the psalms. This book is intended for those who have not studied Psalms but are open to learning the significance of this book and what it means to the rest of the Bible and its practical application to the Christian life. Each chapter focuses on a specific aspect of the book of Psalms. The first chapter covers the basic construction of Hebrew poetry such as the repetition of certain words, phrases, or ideas in order to emphasize importance. The authors explain the different kind of parallelisms that occur in Psalms. Several examples are given throughout the chapter clarifying the different types of parallels showing diversity among the composition, message, and theme of the different songs. Chapters 2 and 3 focus on the different genres. Chapter 2 introduces the idea of the psalms being diverse in their meaning and message. Much like songs today, the biblical songs of the Bible have different meanings and purposes. The authors emphasize that the form of a psalm changes based on its historical context. The Jacobsons explain the situation, language, and audience for the different songs in the Bible.


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In Chapter 3, the authors delve deeper into the idea of the types of genres. They emphasize that other scholars may categorize the psalms differently, but the genres they choose are royal, enthronement, wisdom, creation, historical, Zion, imprecatory, penitential, and liturgical. For every genre, the Jacobsons give examples of the different psalms and explain why they match the chosen archetype. Chapter 4 focuses on the voice and life situations of the psalms. The authors explain that the psalms were not written by the same author or in the same time period. They also accentuate that a persona or life situation defines the meaning of a poetical work. The Jacobsons explain that the psalmists use a particular persona in order to convey a specific message. By emphasizing the impact of the persona, the Jacobsons allow the reader to make a more personal connection to the poems. The authors describe how the message of popular songs today can change based upon the life situation of the performer because songs will be expressed differently based upon the experiences of a particular person. In Chapter 5, the Jacobsons seek to explain to the reader the significance of metaphors throughout the Psalms. This chapter analyzes how the metaphors in the Psalms reveal deep biblical truth by using familiar imagery. God is not a rock, a literal shepherd that tends sheep, or a massive light. However, metaphors such as rock, shepherd, and light all explain aspects of God’s personality and his divine power. Chapter 6 examines the theology of Psalms. The Jacobsons illustrate how all the psalms ultimately point to God’s faithfulness, love, and his role in creation. Since God is all of these things then He is worthy of praise and songs of trust and thanksgiving. The authors conclude their book by stating that the psalms are not meant to be studied or analyzed. Ultimately the authors believe that the psalms are meant to be read, sung, and experienced. The casual language of the book may bother more advanced students of the Old Testament. The book also does not engage debates about various interpretations of Psalms, nor does it interact with the Hebrew text. However, the authors make clear that this book is not intended for scholars, but rather for those who are interested in learning more about the significance of the psalms. Laypeople will appreciate that the Jacobsons do not use a plethora of theological terms but explain their arguments in plain language. This book would also benefit those who may have trouble reading the psalms because of cultural and literary barriers. Through the authors’ explanation of the significance of the literary styles, the reader will gain a deeper appreciation of the psalms and poetry. Another goal of this book is to enlighten the reader on how to experience the psalms as



opposed to simply reading them. One way that the authors engage readers is that they allow readers to practice writing psalms based on the types of examples found in the Bible. These exercises allow the reader to appreciate the psalms in the Bible as a form of artwork. The book also contains several case studies that examine biblical songs or modern songs that challenge the reader to understand the voice, audience, or theme that the writer intended. This book would assist young students who are interested in studying the different types of psalms in the Bible. By analyzing the Scriptures and carefully explaining their significance, the authors shed light on questions that a reader may have about the Psalms. This book provides as a general guide through the Psalms that could be used in either a personal or corporate Bible study. Old Testament professors may find that this book provides a textbook to use in their classes as a way of allowing modern students to engage the psalms on a more practical level. ROBERT BURGESS Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Reading with the Faithful: Interpretation of True and False Prophecy in the Book of Jeremiah from Ancient Times to Modern by Seth B. Tarrer. Journal of Theological Interpretation Supplement 6. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2013. xi + 209 pp., US $34.95, softcover. Seth Tarrer’s Reading with the Faithful is a slightly revised version of his doctoral dissertation which focuses on “representative interpretations of Jeremiah, Ezekiel and theological works dealing explicitly with the question of true and false prophecy in an effort to present a ‘sampling’ of material from the span of the church’s existence” (p. 2). In the desire to keep his survey brief, he limits his study to the Protestant tradition. His aim is to determine whether his historical survey might resolve the current impasse concerning the notion of false prophecy by helping modern interpreters consider whether those from earlier history might provide assistance in resolving the issue. His study seeks to answer two questions: (1) “What was at work historically, politically, and personally in various interpreters’ attempts to delineate criteria within and throughout the prophetic books?” (p. 3) and (2) in light of modern pluralism and the effect of historical-critical approaches, “is it reasonable to posit that the need for criteria fell away as the interpretive environment of the nineteenth and twentieth-centuries was increasingly marked by a lack of urgency and an increased sense of tolerance” (p. 4)?


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What differentiates Tarrer’s study from others is his focus on the issue of false prophecy. He limits his interaction to those who have written on Jeremiah or false prophecy in the OT. Thus, he covers Jerome and Theodoret from the early church (ch. 2); the Glossa Ordinaria and Thomas Aquinas from the medieval period (ch. 3); Calvin from the Reformation (ch. 4); Hobbes, Spinoza, Vitringa, Calmet, and Thomas Newton from the Enlightenment era (ch. 5); Seiler, Hengstenberg, Keil, von Orelli, George Adam Smith, Ewald, Duhm, and Kuenen from the nineteenth century (ch. 6); von Rad, James Sanders, and Childs from the twentieth century (until 1986; ch. 7); Brenneman, Lange, and Moberly from 1986 to the present (ch. 8). Though the study is more expansive than this review can cover, a few conclusions are in order. Tarrer argues that the early church and medieval tradition appealed to some form of association with Jer 28 and the prophetic warnings in Deut 13 and 18 (p. 4). Prior to the Law, Calvin saw the main feature of the prophetic office as foretelling future events. However, with the writing of the Book of the Law, Calvin saw the Law as the means to interpret prophecy. With the rise of the Enlightenment, Vitringa and Calmet gave several criteria by which the prophet’s revelation should be evaluated. Spinoza saw morality as the foundation of any true prophet. The nineteenth century saw the separation between the Prophets and the Law as the JEDP theory arose and placed the writing of the Law in a postexilic context. Interpreters saw different theological themes as the loci around which true prophets gathered (e.g. the messianic ideal suggested by Hengstenberg). Duhm and Kuenen emphasized the discord between Isaiah’s prophecies of salvation and Jeremiah’s of judgment. Later interpreters sought to explain the discord between these two. Von Rad saw the submission of the prophet to Yahweh’s word as the evidence of true prophecy, and he emphasized the transcendency of Yahweh. Childs’s commitment to the shape of the canon forced him to see some relation between the Prophets and the Law that von Rad failed to highlight. In more recent times, Brenneman argues that the criteria for true and false prophecy is determined by the reader and interpretive community, thus championing a more postmodern reading of the text (p. 172). Moberly emphasizes Jer 23 to highlight three criteria for identifying false prophecy: 1) the lack of character in the life of the prophet, 2) a failure to urge repentance, 3) and the false prophet’s absence from the divine council. Tarrer concludes his study by noting common features that emerged throughout the history of the literature. He sees traces of



Aquinas picked up by Calvin as well as commonality between Moberly and Spinoza’s assertions about the morality of the prophet. He concludes by advocating the canonical approach of Childs as the way forward. Childs make use of redaction criticism’s observations concerning the lack of harmonization, allowing him to ask questions of the text which pre-moderns did not ask. Tarrer’s work deserves a number of commendations. First, he distills a vast amount of research and history into a concise, informative survey. Second, he insightfully points out similarities in the history of interpretation (e.g. Moberly and Spinoza as well as Calvin and Aquinas, as mentioned above). These similarities show the modern interpreter the roots of (some) current interpretations, and demonstrate in many ways that there is “nothing new under the sun.” Third, he weaves throughout his work an understanding of the political and historical atmosphere of each interpreter discussed. A major benefit of the work is that it maintains clarity of focus in answering the first question posited in the introduction. Though the work is successful in achieving many of its purposes, there are a few minor areas where it could be improved. First, it would have aided the reader if Tarrer had given even a brief overview of the texts in Jeremiah and Deuteronomy in his introduction in order to set the context for the subsequent discussion as the conflict in perspectives is not always clear to the reader. Second, while the introduction is helpful in providing an outline of the remaining chapters, Tarrer could better orient the reader to the discussion on the whole. It is clear that he will be discussing the history of interpretation of true and false prophecy, but it is not clear as to why this discussion is necessary other than the fact that it has (and continues) to be debated. He could have included a brief overview of the conflict between Jer 28 and Deut 13 and 18 that some have posited. Instead, he assumes that the reader is familiar with the debated passages and plunges into the differing ways that Christians have understood the difference between true and false prophets. Thus, it does not seem like the introduction adequately brings the reader into the topic at hand. Third, while Tarrer mentions that Childs’s approach is the best way forward, it would help if he gave more specific explanation as to why. Though an in-depth discussion of the way forward would be beyond the scope of this work, it seems that it would aid the reader in understanding some specific ways that this work might be useful for future studies in this field. Finally, while he returns to his second question—whether the need for criteria fell away based on later developments in biblical studies—in the conclusion, it is not clear how he would answer it. From


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his introduction, he seems to imply that it is reasonable to assume that the need for criteria dissipated because of a lack of urgency and an increased sense of tolerance. However, he does not present an effective case for this contention. Tarrer’s study assists OT scholars in understanding the history of how Christians have understood true and false prophecy and is a valuable resource for one seeking a concise, in-depth survey about the major works and figures in this field. It would primarily aid those OT scholars who want to study the field of prophecy and need a resource that will give an overview of the history of research in this area. ADAM DAY The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Jesus the Messiah: Tracing the Promises, Expectations, and Coming of Israel’s King by Herman W. Bateman IV, Darrell L. Bock, and Gordon H. Johnston. Grand Rapids: Kregel Academic, 2012. 527 pp., US $36.99, hardcover. Messianism is one of the most popular and one of the most important concepts present within Scripture. In their recent volume, Jesus the Messiah, Herbert Bateman, Darrell Bock, and Gordon Johnston enter into the discussion with a book that “offers contextual-canonical, messianic, and Christological developments of God’s promise of ‘messiah’ within the larger framework and unfolding of Jewish history in canonical and extra-biblical literature” (p. 20). The authors are all wellrespected evangelical scholars who are more than qualified to take on such an endeavor. In the introduction Bateman lays out the approach of the book. In doing so he notes that the work assumes a canonical reading that includes the New Testament. He describes the biblical unfolding of messianic revelation as a puzzle that becomes clearer with each successive piece. The approach that the authors advocate takes into account “God’s progress of revelation through the writings of human authors” (p. 32). The discussion of messianism is done through the lens of kingship “because the anointed deliverer is tied to a kingdom and the rule of a king” and because “the key features about Messiah surface in claims tied to kingship and kingdom” (pp. 31–32). The main argument of the book is broken into three major sections: promises of Israel’s king (the Old Testament writings), expectations of Israel’s king (the Second Temple



period literature), and the coming of Israel’s king (the New Testament writings). The first section of the book is concerned with Old Testament expectations of the coming of the Messiah. This section is authored by Johnston and is comprised of seven chapters that cover messianic content in the Old Testament books of Genesis, Numbers, Psalms, Amos, Hosea, Micah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and Zechariah. There is also a chapter on the Davidic covenant. The content of these chapters is described in terms of “Messianic Trajectory.” Bateman is responsible for the second section, which is focused on messianic anticipations/expectations within the Second Temple period. This section begins with a discussion of four obstacles that need to be overcome. The first obstacle is that there are limited Second Temple resources that focus specifically on the concept of messianism. The second obstacle is that the reader often comes to the Second Temple period with “blurred vision” because there is a tendency to read messianic terminology back into the Old Testament without accounting for a development of meaning as it relates to the terminology within the Second Temple period. There is also “blurred vision” because the church distanced herself from Judaism in her formative years, which has led to a lack of familiarity with this period. This has led to the third problem, which is a lack of historical and social sensitivities of this time period. The fourth obstacle is the literature of this time period is seldom taken seriously. The remaining three chapters in this section are concerned with discussing competing portraits of the Messiah from this time period. The portraits that Bateman discusses are based upon the designations used to describe the future Messiah. The portraits that he discusses are: the one called Messiah, the one called Branch and Prince, and the one called Son. The final section of the book is written by Bock and focuses on the New Testament texts. Bock begins this section with a discussion of Revelation and the Catholic Epistles and then works backwards in the remaining chapters. He does this because by “working backwards, we go from ideas that have a larger consensus back to those that are more disputed” (p. 336). This section is concerned with three things: tracing the term Christ through the New Testament, to make a case for linking this term and its usage to Jesus himself, and to point out places where the New Testament uses the Old Testament in an explicit messianic fashion. After his discussion of Revelation and the Catholic Epistles, Bock then moves through the Pauline epistles, Acts, and then the Gospels (with a discussion on the historical Jesus).


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The book also includes an appendix where Johnston discusses Gen 3:15 and messianism. This is dealt with separately because he notes that it is not an explicitly messianic text. Since this journal focuses in on the study of the Old Testament this review will largely be focused on Johnston’s section of the book, which deals with the expectation of the Messiah in various Old Testament books. There are multiple features of this book that are commendable. First, there are not many treatments of messianism in the Old Testament, Second Temple period, and the New Testament from an evangelical perspective. The few other evangelical volumes that do this are edited volumes with articles written by various authors such as Israel’s Messiah in the Bible and the Dead Sea Scrolls (Baker 2003, repr. Wipf and Stock, 2011) and The Messiah in the Old and New Testaments (Eerdmans, 2007). Jesus the Messiah is both more cohesive in its argument and more thorough in its presentation than these other recent volumes. Second, since the authors narrow the discussion to only include kingship, this work is focused and allows for more detail on this specific aspect of messianism. As Bateman notes in the introduction, there are other topics and themes that have messianic implications, but the most prominent is that of king/kingdom. While a discussion of servant or prophet would have been helpful, it would have complicated the work’s focus. And while messianism has many facets, the focal point in the New Testament (looking back on the Old Testament) is kingship and kingdom. A final commendable feature of the book (though by no means the last) is its readability. Most other academic works on this subject are too technical to be serviceable to the layperson. This work often combines the benefits of scholarly content in an easily understandable presentation. The numerous charts help in this respect. The readability of Bateman’s section is particularly welcome. One of the reasons why there is such “blurred vision” about the Second Temple period is because there are few works that discuss this period of time in non-technical terms. I hope that this book, but especially the section by Bateman, gets into the hands of more people in the pews so that this time period can become clearer. There are three weaknesses worth mentioning: The first concerns the lack of a bibliography and (at times) interaction with other sources. This book does not contain a bibliography, which would serve as a good tool for further study in this area to readers who may enter into the world of messianism for the first time with this book. Beyond the bibliography there are times when this work would benefit from more scholarly



interaction. I do not want to detract from my previous comment that this work is readable and yet often has very good scholarly content; this is true. But there are chapters, especially in the Old Testament section, that have little to no interaction with other scholarly literature on the subject of messianism. This is most apparent in the first two chapters. In the first chapter Johnston only references one scholarly work (p. 46 n. 6). In the second chapter he references two works on page 71, but neither of them deal with messianism. While these chapters contain a lot of very good information, and have extensive biblical cross-referencing, the lack of scholarly interaction diminishes the value of these chapters. The lack of referencing in these chapters is particularly strange because other chapters that Johnston writes are heavy with citation and interaction. This is the case in his chapter on Isaiah where he has multiple interactions on most pages (on the first two pages of this chapter he references over ten sources). This gives the feeling that the first few chapters were rushed and makes Johnston’s chapters feel lopsided in their presentation. Second, since the focus of this book is on messianism through the presentation of kingship there were several important Old Testament texts on kingship that are not examined in sufficient detail. For example, there is only passing reference to the law of the king in Deut 17:14–20 and there is no sustained discussion of the refrain in Judges that laments the lack of a king (Judg 17:6; 18:1; 19:1; 21:25). I am assuming that the author might note that these texts do not explicitly deal with messianism. This may be true, but these are texts that establish an understanding of kingship within the Old Testament and since king/kingdom is the focal point of messianism these texts warrant interaction. The final weakness of this work is that Johnston does not discuss the problem of the supposed anti-monarchial texts in the Old Testament. Since the trajectory of messianism within this book is founded on the concept of kingship there needs to be a discussion and explanation of the texts that are viewed by many as anti-monarchial: Judg 8:23, 9:7–15; 1 Sam 8, 11; and Hos 13:11. These texts are commonly taught as saying that kingship is an illegitimate and sinful institution within ancient Israel. If kingship is illegitimate then how is messianism (which is to be seen through the lens of king/kingdom according to this book) to be understood? The fact that Johnston does not discuss the problem of these anti-monarchial texts is made all the more evident in that Bateman and Bock are both concerned with resolving problems in their respective sections (Bateman with his discussion of obstacles and Bock with the order of his presentation from clear to disputed texts). The lack of interaction with these supposed anti-monarchial texts seriously compromises the claims of the book and weakens the argument.


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Despite the above criticisms this book is the most thorough evangelical treatment of the concept of messianism in recent years and would serve as a great textbook for college and seminary classes. This book would also be a great introductory text for laypeople. I would suggest that it be supplemented by a volume edited by Satterthwaite, Hess, and Wenham entitled The Lord’s Anointed: Interpretation of Old Testament Messianic Texts (Baker 1995, repr. Wipf and Stock, 2012). DANIEL S. DIFFEY Grand Canyon Univeristy

A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New by Gregory K. Beale. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker 2011. 1072 pp., US $54.99, hardcover. Beale’s project begins with a reflection on the Old Testament story that undergirds the New Testament. His rendition of this story must, by nature, be rather focused. He provides two chapters to establish his perspective on the Old Testament story: the first focusing on the creation-fall story of Gen 1–3 and the second on the eschatological character of the Old Testament witness. The first of these two chapters is more easily accepted by an Old Testament scholar. Genesis 1–3 is at the beginning of the Old Testament canon and identifies the global setting for the epic of Israel, which begins in earnest in Gen 12. He uses these key chapters to lay a foundation for all that follows in the Old Testament, drawing in the kingship theme in an early phase to make sense of national Israel and texts which do not fit the narrative scheme as neatly. Creational theology, however, is hardly a dominating force in Old Testament theology; it is not even present in the earliest narrative creedal formulations (Deut 6, 26; Josh 24). More controversial, however, is the second chapter, which searches for the eschatological dimension of the Old Testament, even as early as Gen 49. For a scholar who devoted much early energy to the use of the Old Testament in Revelation, it is not surprising that his focus would be on Gen 1–3 with its creational themes which reappear at the end of Revelation. But it does raise the question of whether Beale has retold the Old Testament story in a way most conducive to his New Testament denouement. Thus one may say that this work is not New Testament theology arising from Old Testament theology, but rather a New Testament Old Testament Theology. One may want to hear some of the



“untamed theological witness” and “discrete voice” of the Old Testament, those elements in Old Testament theology that may not fit so neatly with certain dominant renditions of New Testament theology (on these terms, see e.g. Childs, Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments [Fortress, 1993], 76.). It raises the question of what contribution the Old Testament can make to Christian theology, especially in its details. It appears that there are key elements of the Old Testament witness that are helpful for Christian theology and which are not dealt with in the New Testament at least in terms of its details. The biggest concern for Old Testament scholars, however, may be over the chapter which reads the Old Testament as eschatological. Much of this concern is related to how one defines the word eschatological, and it appears that Beale is careful in this regard. He has sought to highlight a future orientation which envisions a new day coming which is in some ways discontinuous from the present day. It may be that this focus on the eschatological is a gift that Beale has given to the Old Testament guild, a function of what Wolterstorff once called “Privileged Cognitive Access” (“Does Truth Still Matter?” Crux 31 [1995], 17). Some may say he is merely imposing his eschatological lens on the text, finding eschatology “behind every bush.” But what he does may be legitimate, reading the Bible through the lens of the final form of the canon, that is, a canon which has Revelation at its conclusion, and so prompts “rereaders” (Ben Zvi, Signs of Jonah [Sheffield, 2003]) to read the canon again as if for the very first time. Of course, earlier voices in this canonical redaction can be lost in the mix and the question endures as to what we do with the main thrust of these earlier voices which are not given expression in descriptions of a final “canonical redaction” as Beale provides. But this prompts a reflection on the future and restorative vision of the final canonical forms of the Old Testament. Although “eschatological” may be eschewed as too strong a word, a future orientation is clearly in view in the final canonical divisions and collections of the TANAK. Ending the Torah at Deuteronomy, prior to Joshua, places reading Israel at the brink of possession of a land, that is, anticipation, a future hope, looking for something beyond the present disaster which is described in Deut 4 and 30 (On this future orientation see Boda, A Severe Mercy: Sin and Its Remedy in the Old Testament [Eisenbrauns, 2009]). Or ending the Former Prophets at Kings with the release of Jehoiachin creates anticipation, as does the Latter Prophets which look to something new beyond the failed penitential project of the earlier prophets, one that would involve a divine intervention and transformation of both humanity and creation. Even the Writings (Kethubim), which has so often been denied future orientation, possesses this potential, whether in Psalms,


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Daniel, or Chronicles, and even Ezra-Nehemiah leaves the reader looking for something more. This, of course, is even more obvious in Old Greek orderings. This “future” perspective may indeed be key to the canonical shaping of the Old Testament, as the community living in the wake of the exile and the disillusionment over the lack of progress in restoration reads these texts with hope for a better tomorrow. The challenge of such an approach as I have noted, however, is that it brings into question the value of so much in the Old Testament which is not future in orientation, and how this material relates to the Christian theological project. Beale’s focus on story is, not surprisingly, attractive to many within the Old Testament guild, partly because of our enduring interest in history on the one side, and in the literary form of narrative on the other. Leveraging story for laying an Old Testament foundation for the New Testament is easily affirmed in that story plays such a key role in the Old Testament canon, dominating books from Genesis–2 Kings as well as Chronicles, Ezra-Nehemiah, and Esther. The ubiquity of Von Rad’s “short historical creeds” in the Old Testament reveals that the dominating presence of narrative as a form of biblical expression was a reflection of a theological impulse. Redemptive-historical event as communicated through narrative captured the heart of Israelite faith and Yahweh’s revelatory purposes. Interest in the value of story and especially the short historical creed for biblical theology, is related to the concern that we not formulate biblical theology merely in the categories of systematic theology, but allow our formulations to arise from the expression of the canonical text. What is helpful with a narrative approach to biblical theology is that it appears to reflect in a greater way the dominating form of the biblical canon. In addition, the narrative approach avoids the tendency toward the abstract logical expressions of the western traditions which have often seemed to lose much of the punch of the biblical witness as it transformed the witness from its original narrative form into abstractions. However, this is not the exclusive avenue of revelation in Scripture, and it raises questions about the role of three other dimensions of biblical revelation that seem to be underemphasized in any Biblical Theology that preferences narrative. First, there is canon. The focus on the redemptive-historical is helpful in that it provides a deeper structure to bring cohesion to a diverse witness. However, it risks playing down the unique emphases of the various literary units of the canon. Even within those books most conducive to the storied approach there is a risk that these books are merely windows to view the underlying story, rather than theological



works in their own right that are developing theology based on the events. For example, in the storied approach it is easy to plane out the differences between Kings and Chronicles. The events are important, but the writer of Kings may be developing theodicy and penitence, for instance, while the Chronicler is developing worship and penitential agenda for their audiences. Of course, this is problematic for those books that do not fit within the storied category As has been the case throughout the history of writing biblical theology based on story, there is a risk of creating a canon of story within a canon and making the other pieces fit, which usually means losing the contribution of non-storied sections of the Old Testament to biblical theology. This discussion does not even take into account the shape of the Old Testament canon and whether it really reflects a continuous story. The second dimension of biblical revelation is related to another key creedal expression in the Old Testament witness. While von Rad’s short historical creed is certainly ubiquitous throughout the Old Testament as a key centre of theological reflection on the Old Testament, a fixation with this creedal expression seems to miss a second major creedal formulation in the Old Testament, what I have called the “character creed,” that which is found in Exod 34 and which not only reverberates throughout the Old Testament but weaves its way into the New Testament as Jesus fully reveals the character of Yahweh in flesh (e.g., John 1:14–18) (Knowles, The Unfolding Mystery of the Divine Name [IVP Academic, 2012]). The final concern I have with allowing story to dominate biblical theology arises from the concern that is apparent throughout Beale’s work that he not miss the value of the poetic books of the Old Testament. I appreciate his honesty at each juncture, and my thought is that his constant defense reflects an honest concern that he not lose the value of these key canonical witnesses. But one wonders if “he protesteth too much.” One of the dangers of adopting a narrative approach is that while it does ensure we do not impose modern abstractions to create propositions, it remains a system that is used to bring order to theology; it is just a different order. But on the level of genre there are other modes of theology and I am wondering if it is not time for us to take seriously the other dominating genre present in the Scriptures: poetry. The theological implications of poetic forms and expressions have been explored especially by the Christian interpreter Patrick Miller in his 1994 article “The Theological Significance of Biblical Poetry” and Jewish interpreter Stephen Geller in his studies published in 1996 as Sacred Enigmas: Literary Religion in the Hebrew Bible. John Goldingay offers further reflections on the theological significance of poetry based on his studies of Isaiah (“Poetry and Theology in Isaiah 56–66”). These studies


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highlighted for me the possibilities of poetics for theological reflection and prompted this question: Why is it that the two most direct and intimate forms of communication between God and humanity, psalms and prophecy, are dominantly cast in poetic form? It is true that we seem to have moved beyond mere propositions to embrace narrative as key to theological reflection, but why not poetics? Possibly the reason is that poetry contains so much ambiguity, image, even mystery. I find in Beale’s biblical theological project a narrative structure used to communicate propositional truths, but possibly it is time to pursue a form of theology that shares qualities with poetry: releasing the imagistic power of the Word and embracing the ambiguity typical of poetic forms, which may take us further in the project of giving glory to this transcendent one who is beyond human understanding. MARK J. BODA McMaster Divinity College/McMaster University

An Introduction to Ugaritic by John Huehnergard. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2012. 250 pp., US $69.95. This volume is the latest publishing effort to produce an introductory grammar for Ugaritic. Chronologically, it has recently been preceded by William Schniedewind and Joel Hunt’s A Primer on Ugaritic (Cambridge University Press, 2007) and Michael Williams’ Basics of Ugaritic (Zondervan, 2012). Although A Manual of Ugaritic by Pierre Bourdreuil and Dennis Pardee (Eisenbrauns, 2009) might be used to introduce students who have a command of Hebrew to Ugaritic, it is something of a hybrid introduction-reference grammar-chrestomathy. As such this volume won’t factor into the comments that follow. My thoughts on Huehnergard’s grammar will of necessity be filtered through both my experience as a graduate student and as someone who has taught Ugaritic. I deliver a video-based introduction to Ugaritic online and have used the volumes by Schniedewind and Hunt and by Williams. Since this course is not for formal credit, students may or may not have had any exposure to biblical Hebrew or any other Semitic language. As such, one size doesn’t fit all. I am in agreement with other reviewers that Huehnergard’s introduction is now the best introductory volume for learning Ugaritic if one has had prior exposure to Biblical Hebrew. If that is not the case, Williams’ Basics of Ugaritic is a better place to start. Williams does a



fine job of simultaneously presenting general grammar and the basics of Ugaritic. The professor might lament Williams’s “folksy” language and illustrations to teach grammatical terms and concepts, but the strategy works. It serves no purpose to protest that students should have learned that material in high school or as undergraduates in English class. The argument is silenced by the contrary reality. The major flaw in Williams’s introduction is the lack of exposure to actual Ugaritic texts. There are brief but serviceable exercises in Williams, but no primary text selections. I use Williams for teaching my course and fill this void with texts found in Bourdreuil and Pardee. In the future I plan to continue my use of Williams and require Huehnergard for his exercises and text selections. As a graduate student I was fortunate that our professor had access to Huehnergard’s classroom notes that became the basis of his grammar. Our class used those notes to supplement Segert’s A Basic Grammar of the Ugaritic Language (University of California Press, 1985), for many years the only introduction available. Segert has been superseded by Huehnergard. The latter is more coherently structured, and the explanations much more lucid. Students who have gone through a year of Biblical Hebrew, taught deductively, will feel right at home with the format, as opposed to Segert’s disjointed and, in places, cryptic presentation. This familiarity of presentation is also what makes Huehnergard preferable to Schniedewind and Hunt, which attempts a more inductive strategy. In my experience, the effort of that volume fails in clarity and coherence for students, whether they have had Hebrew or not. Schniedewind and Hunt simply presuppose too much for most beginning students. For example, explanations cite forms and vocabulary from Akkadian. Explanations of grammar are moved to the back of the book. (If they are needed, why the inductive approach?) It also has too many irritating typographical errors. With respect to the content of Huehnergard’s introduction, In Part I we find an adequate introductory overview of the Ugaritic language, text corpus, genres, tools for studying Ugaritic, and points of comparison with Biblical Hebrew. I would like to have seen Huehnergard provide a substantive essay on the intersection of Ugaritic material with Israelite religion and other points of biblical research. This is something Williams included, albeit in quite simplified form, as well as Schniedewind and Hunt. I suspect that omission of this sort of material stems from a resistance to “justifying” the study of Ugaritic. The reality is that most students of Ugaritic come from the world of biblical studies, and so connections with the content (not just the language) of the Hebrew Bible is not only appropriate, but desirable.


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Parts II and III briefly cover orthography (pp. 19–22) and phonology (pp. 23–30). The treatment of orthography is actually supplemented by an excellent essay (Appendix A) with hand-drawing illustrations on the alphabetic script of Ugarit by John Ellison (pp. 179– 88). Other than the space devoted to text selections, Part IV, which covers Ugaritic morphology, is the longest single section of the grammar (pp. 31–80). All the expected parts of speech are covered. Part V briefly surveys Ugaritic syntax (pp. 81–84). The remainder of the grammatical presentation concludes with Part VI, which addresses features of poetic Texts (pp. 85–87). Exercises, vocabulary, and exposure to actual Ugaritic texts form the content of Parts VII and VIII. Exercises and vocabulary for memorization begin in Part VII (pp. 89–98). Text selections in Part VIII (pp. 99–138) include six letters, four legal texts, two economic/administrative texts, and short selections from Kirta and the Baal Cycle (Baal and Yamm, CTA 1.2.i.11–38). Every text is accompanied by commentary that deals with vocalization, morphology, and syntax. Huehnergard includes a full answer key (Appendix B) for all the exercises and text selections for translation, Paradigms (Appendix C). Lastly, the volume includes 51 plates as illustrations of Ugaritic tablets, some of which are in color. MICHAEL S. HEISER Bellingham, WA

When God Spoke Greek: The Septuagint and the Making of the Christian Bible by Timothy Michael Law. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013, 216 pp., US $24.95, softcover. Timothy Michael Law is currently an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow in the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, a Junior Research Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, and Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of The Marginalia Review of Books. He is also a coeditor of an Oxford University Press series on The Apocrypha in the History of Interpretation and the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of the Septuagint. Although there are encouraging signs that interest in the Septuagint (LXX) is growing, the Greek OT still receives less attention



than it deserves in evangelical institutions. Seminarians devote countless hours to the Hebrew Bible, which is a worthy investment, but the Greek textual traditions most often employed by NT writers and by the Church during the first four centuries of her existence deserve increased investigation, especially since those textual traditions do not always precisely mirror the Hebrew texts represented in the Masoretic Text (MT). If Christians are to be informed about the nature of the biblical writings we cherish, we should labor to understand the relationships between ancient text forms, how they were employed by Jews and Christians in the Greco-Roman era, and why certain text forms came to be used by the church instead of others. To take one example, we should investigate such questions as why the quotation of Jer 31:32 in Heb 8:9 reflects the LXX, while Jer 31:32 itself reflects the MT in our English Bibles. The difference between the two textual traditions is one of substance and not merely style. Law’s book rightly labors to redress the neglect of such investigations. In addition to reasons already mentioned, Law suggests that the LXX deserves increased interest because it (a) sheds light on Hellenistic Judaism from the third century B.C. to the first century A.D., providing insight into the world of the NT and early Christianity; (b) significantly shaped the theology of the earliest Christians, sometimes in directions not specified by the Hebrew Bible; and (c) often points not only to alternative, but perhaps even older, forms of the Hebrew text. Law’s narrative traverses a large amount of terrain for a slim volume. He provides historical background on the hellenized context that gave rise to a Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures; argues for significant fluctuation and plurality in Hebrew textual traditions and the absence of an agreed upon canon prior to the second century A.D.; describes the original translators of the LXX, as far as can be known from legendary accounts and other sources, and the nature of their translation; highlights differences between Hebrew and Greek textual traditions of the OT; addresses the relevance of apocryphal writings to the discussion of the canon; narrates how a canon arose from the variety of text forms; discusses the extent and nature of the use of the LXX by the NT and the early church; and plenty more. He also includes a lengthy and helpful, though not exhaustive, bibliography for those who wish to pursue these issues further. Although When God Spoke Greek has only been available for a short time, it has already garnered much praise from an impressive array of scholars. Law is to be commended for expressing himself clearly for non-specialists, for crafting a narrative that is both informative and delightful to read, and for exposing readers to significant issues regarding biblical textual traditions that too often remain unknown not


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only to the rank and file in the church, but even to scholars and church leaders. My commendations for Law’s book come with some qualifications. Space permits mention of only three general ones. First, Law sometimes does not sufficiently make readers aware of thoughtful opposing viewpoints. For example, certain capable scholars in the field believe that an OT canon had more solidity prior to the second century A.D. than Law sees. We do not have to look only to conservative scholars to find those who would temper Law’s suggestion that “Talking about the canon is . . . inescapably retrospective” (p. 82). Some would see Law’s tendency to disallow canonical standing prior to the appearance of later lists to be itself anachronistic. Even if Law gets closer to the truth in his assessment of the evidence, his book would better serve uninitiated readers if he acknowledged the existence and arguments of alternative viewpoints more readily, even if only in endnotes. The purposeful brevity and intended audience of the book do not entirely excuse this tendency. Second, Law too regularly expresses his conclusions in unrestrained terms when more caution is warranted. The pages teem with such expressions as “spectacularly different message” (p. 6), “extraordinarily fluid” and “multiple divergent textual traditions” (p. 31), “extensive textual plurality” (p. 80), “rich variety of biblical textuality” (p. 84), “dizzying variety of textual forms” (p. 86), “very much in flux” (p. 116), and “many diverse theological trajectories” (p. 170). The starkness of such language at times seems to over interpret the evidence. One example, among others that could receive mention, appears in Law’s discussion of the textual traditions of Ezekiel. He suggests that P967, a Greek fragment discovered in 1931, “may shed light on the earlier form of Ezekiel.” By the end of the same paragraph, Law confidently asserts that a passage that is missing from this fragment “was not originally in the older Hebrew text” (p. 53). Law may ultimately be correct in his assessment, but he jumps incautiously from acknowledged uncertainty (“may shed light on the earlier form”) to confident conclusion (“was not originally in the older Hebrew text”). Hector Patmore has rightly urged caution when comparing P967 with texts found at Masada, suggesting that “unless new materials come to light, there is no credible way of establishing the historical precedence or originality of either” (“The Shorter and Longer Texts of Ezekiel: The Implications of the Manuscript Finds from Masada and Qumran” JSOT 32 [2007]: 242). Third, Law regularly suggests that the variety of textual traditions prior to the second century A.D. was “normal and unproblematic for the earliest Jewish and Christian users of Scripture”



(p. 84; cf. 6–7) and “did not disturb the New Testament writers” (p. 116). But he does not adequately demonstrate that NT writers commonly had access to a variety of text forms or that they intentionally selected readings from known variations. In fact, Law himself seems to acknowledge uncertainty about what they had access to. He writes, “Whether or not [NT writers] were aware of the divergences between the Septuagint and the Hebrew Bible is irrelevant [to the question of the extent of Septuagintal impact on the NT]” and “Whether consciously or not, they were transmitting a message based on a theological reading of the Jewish scriptures that was often different from the Hebrew Bible’s message” (p. 7). If he is unsure about how much access they had to diverging witnesses, how can he be sure that variations were “normal and unproblematic” or “did not disturb” them? Moreover, if most firstcentury readers/hearers would not likely have had the opportunity to compare and contrast textual traditions and we cannot yet be certain how much the NT writers themselves did so, the lack of “any indication of a debate over the textual plurality” (p. 86) in that time period cannot prove much. The concern of Matthew’s Jesus with jots and tittles may also strain Law’s argument here. Another matter that gives me pause about Law’s assertions on this point is that, as some in the early church increasingly became aware of textual variations, especially as they interacted with Jews and their texts, anxiety did indeed arise. The existence of revisions of Greek versions toward Hebrew text traditions and of Origen’s Hexapla testify to some measure of anxiety over textual variation. Later, as Law himself acknowledges, “many readers were disturbed by Jerome’s new expressions [translated from the Hebrew]. . . . The novelty of Jerome’s language was unsettling to those who would have become comfortable with the language of the Old Latin [which largely followed the LXX]” (p. 161). Law also points to the bishop of Oea who “almost lost his congregation” when he read from Jerome’s rendering of Jonah 4:6. They “fumed upon hearing the new translation” (p. 164). Law concludes that this story “provides a window into the struggle of parting with the church’s Bible in favor of Jerome’s new translation” (p. 164). Such incidents do not portray a tidy milieu of appreciation for a diversity of text forms or a lack of concern over textual plurality. Law again does not handle the evidence cautiously enough when he claims most early Christians showed “no anxiety at the thought of not having the ‘original’” and that concern over textual plurality “is a distinctively modern theological anxiety” (p. 168). For these and other reasons, I would encourage readers who are just beginning to wade into the issues treated here to consult other perspectives in dialogue with this one. For the important subjects it treats


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and the clarity and verve with which it treats them, Law’s book should be read by any and all, yet one will want to look elsewhere if a broader sweep of the field is desired. KENT CAPPS The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

The Story of Israel in the Book of Qohelet: Ecclesiastes as Cultural Memory by Jennie Barbour. Oxford Theological Monographs. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012. xv + 225 pp., US $135.00, hardcover. With this monograph, Jennie Barbour has shared with the world the fruits of her doctoral research carried out under such stalwarts in the field as Hugh Williamson, Stuart Weeks, and John Barton. Her writing is clear, concise, and easily readable. Furthermore, her arguments are lucid and well-developed, so that while the reader may disagree with her, it is certainly not because of the author’s lack of clarity. The Story of Israel in the Book of Qohelet adds to the evergrowing literature on allusion in biblical studies. Barbour draws from the work of Richard Hays, among others, as she attempts to demonstrate allusion in the book of Ecclesiastes. Barbour maintains that the allusions she finds within Qohelet more or less cohere with the seven guidelines proposed by Hays in his study of Pauline literature. Interestingly, Barbour moves beyond strictly literary allusions by arguing that Qohelet echoes not only previous literature, but also the broader cultural memory of previous kings and exiles that is reflected in the literature of Lamentations, the historical books, and the writing prophets. Moving beyond strictly textual relationships to applying studies on collective memory highlights Barbour’s creativity and offers multiple insights into the text of Ecclesiastes. Essentially, Barbour argues that the background against which Ecclesiastes was written can and should be found in Israel/Judah and the literature it composed. This is a sharp departure from the critical trends of the past two centuries that would locate influences on Ecclesiastes within Greece, Egypt, and the broader ancient Near East. Barbour’s work, along with other recent work such as that done by Stuart Weeks, represents a significant step in the right direction by noting the importance of the literary tradition within Israel itself rather than searching for outside influence upon Ecclesiastes. Barbour finds the background to Qohelet in five primary areas: Qohelet as a composite of



all the kings of Israel (ch. 1); a recounting of history in the book’s opening poem (ch. 2); portraits of Solomon, David and his sons, and Saul in Eccl 4 (ch. 3); exile (ch. 4); and the fall of Jerusalem (ch. 5). Barbour’s analysis of these five themes is impeccable. She demonstrates the textual relationships between Ecclesiastes and multiple other portions of the Scriptures in a way that sheds fresh light on the book of Ecclesiastes and the potential argument that it is making. Most interestingly for this reviewer, Barbour demonstrates significant linguistic overlap between the Chronicler’s description of Hezekiah and the Royal Experiment of Eccl 2. Barbour also highlights the many linguistic and thematic overlaps between Ecclesiastes and prophetic literature, a lacuna that Raymond van Leeuwen highlighted some years ago. Finally, in her conclusion Barbour issues a well-crafted argument for a Christo-telic reading of Ecclesiastes, stating that, “The kingship of Qohelet has a continuity with the kingship of Christ, anticipating it positively rather than simply requiring it negatively” (p. 182). Her argument demonstrates how the book speaks to the coming of Christ in a positive sense, as opposed to the typical Christo-centric reading of the book as “without Christ, everything is meaningless.” Her Christo-telic reading allows the book to be read in its original context as longing for the King who would finally fulfill all of the Davidic promises. In these respects, Barbour’s work is to be praised. Nevertheless, there are a few issues in Barbour’s work that caused me pause. For example, Barbour’s investigation into allusion in Ecclesiastes rests on the assumption that the book was written during the Hellenistic period (pp. 8–9). One would expect that such a significant piece of her argument would be demonstrated rather than assumed. Barbour might argue that her investigation of allusion undergirds her assumption. Nevertheless, even a cursory treatment of arguments regarding the book’s provenance would have been helpful, especially given that her work argues for echoes of historical memory within Ecclesiastes. Furthermore, I found it interesting that in her discussion of city-laments in chapter five, Barbour states: . . . certainly there are many central city-lament traits missing from Ecclesiastes, such as the personification of the city, the issue of Yahweh’s agency, the direct address to the deity, or the question of the city’s sin and possible restoration, but the resemblances particularly at the level of scenery and atmosphere are marked enough for us to suppose that the book of Ecclesiastes, while being a very different type of literature, does draw on city-lament material as part of its literary heritage and stylistic vocabulary. Generically, these works are completely


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different, but as Qohelet elsewhere assimilates motifs and ways of speaking from other genres (prophecy, history, law), so too in this case coincidence of genre is less important than the presence of the same language in establishing a general relationship. (pp. 142–3) Barbour’s arguments regarding the influence of city-laments upon the so-called poem on death and dying in Eccl 12 are quite convincing, as her thesis solves the most common problems of allegorical readings. However, when criticizing the view that the text speaks of the Day of Yahweh, she notes that it lacks many of the key features of the motif. The difficulty with her criticism is that she makes the same concession in regards to her own theory that 12:1–7 is a city lament. Despite these reservations, Barbour has given readers much to consider when thinking through possible inner-biblical references in the book of Ecclesiastes. As noted above, the most problematic issue for evangelical readers will be her dating of the book of Ecclesiastes, which consequently calls into question the validity of the allusions she sees in the book. Nevertheless, those interested in how Ecclesiastes fits within the canon will do well to spend the time working through her arguments. RUSSELL L. MEEK Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Prophets before the Exile: Amos, Hosea, Micah, Zephaniah, Nahum, Habakkuk by Christopher R. Smith. Understanding the Books of the Bible. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Connect, 2013. 114 pp., US $10.00, softcover. This book is part of a series of study guides designed to be used in conjunction with The Books of the Bible, a version of the Bible, in the translation of the NIV, without any chapter or verse numbers. Available from, this is intended to facilitate a reading of the biblical books in their natural form, without the chapter or verse numbers getting in the way. Another intention is for readers to engage with the biblical books in their entirety by studying them section by section in a reading and study group. Smith’s guide thus encourages readers to read the prophetic books aloud in the context of such a group and then engage with them a



few prophetic oracles at a time. Another point worth noting is that The Books of the Bible does not follow the traditional canonical order but arranges them according to their assumed chronological sequence. This is reflected in this guide to the pre-exilic Minor Prophets, which follows the order indicated by its subtitle. It is just about possible to use this guide in conjunction with a traditional version of the NIV, but this is not advisable for two reasons: (a) readers will not be able to follow up the frequent references to the introductions to the individual prophetic books found in The Books of the Bible, and (b) in that version the books’ “natural sections” are apparently marked off by white space. As there are no references to any chapter or verse numbers anywhere, readers of this guide are told to find passages with the help of their introductory words, such as “Sound the trumpet in Gibeah” or “Ephraim is oppressed, trampled in judgment.” As the aim is to read the books in their entirety, this is not too much of a problem, but I imagine that the reading experience is facilitated by the presence of the white space included in The Books of the Bible but missing from other versions. Smith’s guide features some introductory instructions on how it is best used, including the encouragement to share deeply and agree on some ground rules, such as confidentiality and respect. It is designed for the Bible to be studied in community, and it encourages creativity by inviting people to share responses to the biblical texts in the form of “poetry, journal or blog entries, artwork, dramas, videos, and so on, and especially the creative retellings that are invited in some sessions” (p. 7). There are twenty-one sessions in this guide, five on Amos, six on Hosea, four on Micah, and two each on Zephaniah, Nahum, and Habakkuk. The first session on each book invites readers to read through the entire book in one sitting before engaging with some general discussion questions related to the book as a whole. Follow-up sessions are then designed to take readers through the book again, this time section by section, enabling deeper engagement with the particular issues raised by the prophets’ words. Each section includes observations, either on the prophetic books as a whole or on their individual parts. These observations provide something like a running commentary that is designed to offer some general guidance to and explanation of the main issues addressed in or raised by the text. In my judgment, this is a very worthwhile project, and it deserves to be widely-known, supported, and adopted. To encourage Christian communities to engage with the biblical books as communities and to look at them as books that are to be read and studied in their entirety is laudable. While I did not have access to The Books of the


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Bible, it seems to me that the experience of reading the Bible without chapter or verse numbers is likely to be stimulating and to encourage a fresh reading that moves beyond any preoccupation with individual verses, which has beset the traditional Christian reading of the prophets in particular. The brevity of Smith’s guide on the pre-exilic prophets does not allow him to offer detailed commentary, and in the case of difficult texts like these, this is likely to cause some frustration at times. Perhaps study groups should be advised to have access to at least one more detailed commentary for those times when further information and explanation are required. That said, it was evident that Smith is well-informed, not only concerning the prophetic books as such, but also with respect to the conclusions of biblical scholarship. However, for me the highlight of this guide was the discussion questions. They were among the very best of such questions I have ever come across. They encourage readers to pay attention to what the prophets were saying in the context of their own time. They also encourage honest and unflinching engagement with the difficult questions raised by the texts, including divine violence and the nature of God as envisaged by the prophets. Smith’s questions further promote reflective, thoughtful and creative engagement with current issues in the light of the prophets’ message. In fact, this is an area in which the questions particularly excel. And they invite not only critical, but also positive engagement with today’s world. What I mean by that is that Smith, for instance, frequently asks readers to find positive examples of where contemporary social injustice, obviously one of the key issues addressed by these prophetic books, has been alleviated by humanitarian efforts. It is encouraging to come across a project that promotes the communal study of the biblical texts in their entirety, and I would highly recommend this guide to Christian readers wishing to engage with the prophetic books of Amos, Hosea, Micah, Zephaniah, Nahum and Habakkuk. Karl Möller University of Cumbria

Genesis by John H. Walton. Zondervan Illustrated Bible Background Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2013. 176 pp., US $16.99, softcover.



John Walton’s Genesis is part of the Zondervan Illustrated Bible Background Commentary series. This commentary on Genesis was previously released in 2009 as the first part of volume 1, bound together with the commentaries on each of the five books of the Pentateuch. Walton is the general editor of the series. The commentary is written at a semi-popular level and is printed in full color on glossy pages. There is at least one image (pictures, maps, charts, and the like) on one of the facing pages in the entire commentary (most pages have two or more images). There are also more than 100 sidebars and/or charts spread through the commentary. The volume is visually pleasing, sporting a semi-glossy magazine look. Half of the 140 page commentary is devoted to the background of Gen 1–11 and the other half to chapters 12–50. The commentary ends with an annotated bibliography of about a dozen and a half titles and about 20 pages of endnotes. The commentary does not provide an interpretation of the biblical text, but offers individual comments pertaining to background issues of selected verse fragments or phrases. It reads much like The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament by John Walton, Victor Matthews, and Mark Chavalas (InterVarsity, 2000), but it is much more visually appealing. The background materials treated include: historical, cultural, religious, mythological, chronological, architectural, archaeological, and so on. Walton has written extensively on the background matters of Genesis previously; those familiar with his writing will not find surprises here. For whom is this commentary designed? The student studying ancient Near Eastern context of the Scriptures interested in Walton’s views might do better reading his Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament: An Introduction to the Conceptual World of the Hebrew Bible (Baker, 2006). The student or pastor studying the biblical text to prepare for a paper or sermon might benefit more from Walton’s Genesis in the NIVAC series (Zondervan, 2001). The student or teacher interested in the research behind Walton’s innovative views of Gen 1 would do better checking out of the library his Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology (Eisenbrauns, 2011). I can see how busy teachers and pastors could use the concise materials in this illustrated background commentary for writing sermons and lessons, yet we all hope they will indulge in more detailed study of the issues. Ideally, this book should only serve as first step in sermon research. However, the book appears as though it is meant for the lay reader. Walton’s Background Commentary lacks any statement about its purpose and approach, what is meant by “background,” or about its basis


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for comparisons. The theoretical explanation is handled by a promotional blurb on the back cover in terms of what readers can hope to avoid: “[W]ithout knowledge of the ancient context we can easily impose our own culture on the text, potentially distorting it.” Presumably this background commentary is meant as an antidote in the case of interpreting the book of Genesis. The heavy lifting in Gen 1–11 is comparison to ancient myths and legends and in Gen 12–50 to short snippets regarding relevant aspects of ancient cultures. Historical, geographical, and theological comments are less of a focus but appear frequently through the commentary. The commentary offers no introductory explanation regarding methods or aims or basis of the comparisons, not even in the introduction. The commentary offers no thesis, no running argument, and no overall interpretation of Genesis. Walton simply begins comparing ancient things to Genesis. He regularly, but not always, affirms or challenges the relative viability of the elements he introduces to compare to Genesis. The reader is left to think that anything ancient that seems similar in any way is the necessary background for Genesis. The discussion of “Genesis and Mythology” in the Illustrated Background Commentary does not define myth but points to myths’ functions. Walton infers that Genesis functions more like ancient myths than the normal ways moderns think (see pp. 9–10). He says Genesis “offers an alternative encapsulation of how the world worked” (p. 9). However, that is not necessarily the impression one gets when reading the comparisons he offers. Here is a representative sampling of the comparisons (usually presented favorably or without judgment): 

   

“Expanse (1:6)” is compared to the Mesopotamian views of “skins” and contrasted to Nut the ancient Egyptian sky goddess, and concludes that virtually all ancients thought of the firmament as “solid” (see p. 17); “Water above it (1:7)” is compared to the Marduk’s dividing of Tiamat in Enuma Elish and other myths (see pp. 17–18); “Seventh day … holy (2:3)” is compared to the Near Eastern New Year’s festivals which celebrate the enthronement of the deity (see pp. 23–24); “Tree of the knowledge of good and evil (2:9)” is compared to the hero’s sexual intercourse to a prostitute in the Epic of Gilgamesh (see p. 28); “Helper suitable for him (2:18)” is compared to the hero’s counterpart Enkidu in the Epic of Gilgamesh (see p. 31);


    

  


“Serpent (3:1)” is compared to the magical plant in the Epic of Gilgamesh, serpents in Egyptian mythology, and other ancient mythic traditions (see pp. 33–34); the long lives of the genealogy of Gen 5 are compared to the Sumerian King List (see p. 42); “Married any of them they chose (6:2)” is compared to the deflowering of the bride in the Epic of Gilgamesh (see pp. 43–44); “Nephilim . . . heroes (6:4)” is compared to Gilgamesh (see p. 45); some of the details of Noah’s flood are compared to several ancient accounts (Epic of Atrahasis, Epic of Gilgamesh), but Walton concludes that the biblical account provides a different interpretation of the tragedy (see pp. 48–49); the Abrahamic covenant is explained in relation to Weinfeld’s distinctions regarding the treaty and grant forms (see pp. 76–77); circumcision is compared to ancient Levantine and Egyptian practices (see pp. 88–89); Nuzi texts which mention family gods are compared to the teraphim Rachel took (Walton emphasizes ancient females converting to their husbands’ gods but does not mention contrary evidence like the treaty marriages of 1 Kgs 11; see p. 112); “Fulfill your duty to her as a brother-in-law (38:8)” is compared Hittite laws (see pp. 124–26).

These kinds of comparisons attended on every page by images of associated ancient sculptures, reliefs, artifacts, and the like reinforces page after page that the book of Genesis shares much with the surrounding ancient cultures. In many of Walton’s other writings he is explicit in what he does not say about the Bible and myths: “When we use the literature of the ancient Near East in comparison with the Bible, we are not trying to identify or suggest literary relationship” (Genesis [Zondervan, 2001], 27; also discussion on pp. 21–35). For other such deflections as well as reasoned explanations on wrong and right means of ancient comparative studies for biblical interpretations see, for example, “Creation,” Dictionary of Old Testament: Pentateuch (InterVasity, 2003), 155–68; and the introductions to his Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology and The Lost World of Genesis One (InterVarsity, 2009). In other places Walton boldly claims ancient background as essential. “[A]t times the cultural


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background of the text is an essential ingredient for deciphering the authoritative message and meaning of the text” (“Interpreting the Bible as an Ancient Near Eastern Document,” in Israel: Ancient Kingdom or Late Invention? [B&H, 2008], 299 [298–327]; also see Walton’s brief discussion on “Confessional Scholarship and the Role of Comparative Studies,” 301–3). In a carefully nuanced explanation of using ancient comparative studies in evangelical biblical interpretation, Walton offers similar bold claims under the heads “God did not reject the entire worldpicture of Israel’s neighbors, but used much of its structure as a framework for revelation” and “Revelation did not always counter ancient Near Eastern concepts, but often used them in productive ways” (“Ancient Near Eastern Background Studies,” Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible [Baker Academic, 2005], 40–45). Walton has written extensively on the use of ancient Near Eastern background for biblical interpretation. His contributions both to the theory and specific applications of ancient comparative studies to the Scriptures offer much to students and scholars. The colorful background commentary on Genesis under review here, however, provides no theoretical explanation of method and does not provide any extensive discussion of the comparisons. The many comparisons are simply there as suggestions, undifferentiated in value or significance for the laity. If the commentary were to have an introduction I would imagine it being along the lines of the picture-less IVP Background Commentary coauthored by Walton (cited above). The stated two-fold purpose of that commentary is to “help the interpreter avoid erroneous conclusions” and sometimes “simply to satisfy curiosity” (see pp. 7–9). The IVP Background Commentary comes short of acknowledging an incongruity between the intended nonprofessional readership’s lack of access to look up sources for further information and the lack of any such references to look up. The Zondervan Illustrated Bible Background Commentary under review corrects part of the problem by providing endnotes for many entries. However, the same incongruity between manifold suggested comparisons and lack of adequate interpretation for lay readers stands. Perhaps this problem could be solved by an introduction which advised lay readers to use the background commentary alongside other reliable published interpretations of Genesis. The general reader could benefit by a careful reading of this book, especially if used alongside a reliable semi-popular commentary on the book of Genesis itself. Walton’s background commentary is attractive and fun. Perhaps the ideal reader is the lay person preparing to teach Bible studies or church classes. Walton’s illustrated background



commentary could well serve the general reader but only if used in concert with other reliable interpretive guides. GARY EDWARD SCHNITTJER Cairn University


Beginning Biblical Hebrew: A Grammar and Illustrated Reader by John A. Cook and Robert D. Holmstedt (Reviewed by W. K. Bechtold)


Isaiah by David W. Baker (Reviewed by P. Wegner)


Journey to Joy: The Psalms of Ascent by Josh Moody (Reviewed by A. Witt)


From Conquest to Coexistence: Ideology and Antiquarian Intent in the Historiography of Israel’s Settlement of Canaan by Koert van Bekkum (Reviewed by V. P. Long)


Jerusalem and the Nations: Studies in the Book of Isaiah by Ronald E. Clements (Reviewed by P. J. Long)


Psalms 1–2: Gateway to the Psalter by Robert L. Cole (Reviewed by P. J. Long)


Against the Gods: The Polemical Theology of the Old Testament by John Currid (Reviewed by J. W. Hilber)


Jewish and Christian Approaches to the Psalms: Approaches and Convergence edited by Susan Gillingham (Reviewed by J. E. Stewart)


Invitation to the Psalms: A Reader’s Guide for Discovery and Engagement by Rolf A. Jacobson and Karl N. Jacobson (Reviewed by R. Burgess)


Reading with the Faithful: Interpretation of True and False Prophecy in the Book of Jeremiah from Ancient Times to Modern by Seth B. Tarrer (Reviewed by A. Day) 123 Jesus the Messiah: Tracing the Promises, Expectations, and Coming of Israel’s King by Herman W. Bateman IV, Darrell L. Bock, and Gordon H. Johnston (Reviewed by D. Diffey) 126

A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New by Gregory K. Beale (Reviewed by M. J. Boda)


An Introduction to Ugaritic by John Huehnergard (Reviewed by M. S. Heiser)


When God Spoke Greek: The Septuagint and the Making of the Christian Bible by Timothy Michael Law (Reviewed by K. Capps)


The Story of Israel in the Book of Qohelet: Ecclesiastes as Cultural Memory by Jennie Barbour (Reviewed by R. L. Meek) 140 Prophets before the Exile: Amos, Hosea, Micah, Zephaniah, Nahum, Habakkuk by Christopher R. Smith (Reviewed by K. Mรถller) 142 Genesis by John H. Walton (Reviewed by G. E. Schnittjer)


JESOT 3.1