Unit 2 Optional Paper
Unit 2 Optional Paper
The Main Topic. In plain English, in your own words, teach Unit 2 of this course to someone who has
not taken this class. To do this, write a paper giving:
? brief background, from earlier in the course, whatever your readers need to know to understand
your paper now
? a summary of the most important course knowledge (subject matter) of Unit 2; this will be most of
? your response to it or reflection on it, i.e., what you think of it, or what thoughts it generates, or
how it might be relevant today
The purpose of accurate citation is not rules or red tape but knowledge integrity. Knowledge is not
credible if we do not know or cannot show exactly where it came from. This is especially important
because biblical misinterpretation has often been carried into action harmfully. One way to limit this
problem is to carefully maintain knowledge integrity through accurate citation of our sources,
including the Bible itself.
? System: choose MLA, Turabian, or Chicago (Humanities), whichever one you are familiar with
? In general, use the standard method for in-text citation as given in your chosen citation system, but
also follow the other instructions here if they are different
? Give in-text citation when you paraphrase a source, and also for all information which is not
common public knowledge. This means you don’t just use it for direct quotes.
? Cite the handouts which I have authored using the format for unpublished papers
? Give the page numbers for print sources for in-text citation
? Include a Works Cited or Bibliography at the end
? You do not need to cite the instructor’s lectures within the body of the paper itself. (It is true that
there is a formal way to do this, but it would be a needless burden.) However, include an entry
in the Works Cited like this:
Brubacher, Gordon. Class lectures for Theology 201: “Reading the Old Testament.” Creighton University, Omaha, NE. Spring 2014.
Wed Feb 18 …………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. And Here We Are! The Early Period of Israelites in the Land. The Book of Judges also contains a surprise, even though we shouldn’t be very surprised: it tells a candid story of uneven beginnings for the chosen nation in the Promised Land.
? First, read TOT, Chapter 14. What is happening in Judges? ? Now read the entire Book of Judges, preferably at one sitting, and absorb the story line. What is happening as a story? How does it function as part of the meta-narrative? ? What do you notice about a repeated cycle? ? What do you notice about a major shift or turning point about 2/3 of the way through? ? How are things going by the end?
The story of Ruth. Next in the OT story line we get quite a change of pace, a novella set in the period described in Judges. ? First, read TOT, 339-343, to meet the Book of Ruth. What might help you understand this
story? ? Now read the little Book of Ruth itself, also at one sitting, and absorb the story. What happens here? ? How does it function as part of the meta-narrative? ? What does it mean alongside the Book of Judges?
Establishing the Monarchy: Samuel, Saul, and the Rise of David. The Book of 1 Samuel begins with a reversal of the catastrophes unfolding at the end of Judges. It continues with an unexpected development, namely, the Israelites starting kingship, describing why and how this happened, the
rise and fall of the first candidate, and the early career of the second. ? First, read TOT, Chapter 15, pp. 211-213d. What is happening as a story? ? Now read the entire Book of 1 Samuel, preferably at one sitting, and absorb the story line. What is happening as a story? How does it function as part of the meta-narrative? Samuel the Achiever. God raises up Samuel, a combo super-judge, prophet, and military leader, who amazingly brings the people back on track and repels the Philistine advance for the time being. But when he grows old, they begin to fear for the future and demand that he appoint them a king, “like other nations” (1 Sam 8:5). Problem: to do the mission, they are supposed to be different from
other nations. ? God sighs, gives in, and decides to work with it, but first instructs Samuel to warn them what they are getting into: “You’ll be sorry!” (vv. 7 9). ? Samuel faithfully delivers the warning, summarized by the phrase “he [your king] will take. . .” (vv. 10 17) and ending with famous last words: “and you shall be his slaves” (v. 17). ? What are the implications of this important speech for the story at that point and for the meta-narrative as a whole? First King. In light of the big picture, how would you describe and assess the rule of King Saul? Is
The Early David. In light of the big picture, how would you describe and assess the early career of
King David. Beyond hope or belief, the great King David, larger than life, reverses the catastrophe. He defeats the Philistines, and goes on to conquer every surrounding nation, creating a mini-empire in the process. He engages in many activities and his rule also suffers setbacks. Almost nothing is
small or insignificant in the rule of David. ? First, read TOT, 213d-218. What is happening in the Book of 2 Samuel? ? Now read the entire Book of 2 Samuel, preferably at one sitting, and absorb the story line. What is happening as a story? How does it function as part of the meta-narrative? ? Read the online document “The Idea of the Temple.” What are the main points here?
Major Events. What would you identify as major events and turning points in the career of David? In
light of the big picture, how would you assess his rule as a whole?
King Solomon in All His Glory. Solomon starts with many advantages (both from God and his father David), but acts like a human and goes wrong. The Bible describes him as imitating a great king in his empire city, full of splendor, wealth, and greatness, and also characterized by great wisdom. Like his father David, he engages in many activities and his rule also suffers setbacks. Also like his father, almost nothing Solomon does is average or insignificant.
? First, read TOT, 221-226a. What is the story in this section? ? Then read 1 Kings 1-11, preferably at one sitting, and absorb the story line. What is happening as a story? ? Finally, read the two online documents: (i) “Solomon in All His Glory”; and (ii) “Solomon, Inc.” (Apologies for the rough state of the second as partial draft; please give the content a chance).
King Solomon and His Policies.
? What do you think of the way Solomon acquired and secured the throne? (Keep in mind the scene in 2 Samuel 7.) ? What would you identify as major events and turning points in the career of Solomon? ? How would you understand the temple? ? How would you assess justice in the rule of Solomon? ? How would you understand Solomon’s wisdom? ? How does the rule of Solomon function as part of the meta-narrative? In light of the big picture, how would you assess his rule as a whole?
Foreshadowing: The Career of Jeroboam (1 Kgs 11:26-40). During the rule of Solomon, Jeroboam is a man from one of the northern tribes with outstanding leadership qualities. Solomon notices and puts him in charge of all the forced labor for the two big Joseph tribes (Ephraim and Manasseh). Soon Ahijah the prophet tells Jeroboam that God will tear away 10 of the 12 tribes and make him their king. Reasons: abandoning the LORD; worshipping the gods of the surrounding nations; failing to do what is right. Solomon hears about it and tries to kill him (naturally), but Jeroboam escapes to Egypt.
? Read about this in 1 Kgs 11:26-40. What might surprise us in this story?
The Kingdom Divides (1 Kgs 12:1-24). At the death of Solomon, the 10 northern tribes secede because of oppression from Jerusalem and start their own nation, called “the Northern Kingdom,” or “Israel,” or “the North.” The split is presented as God’s idea (1 Kgs 11:26-40). The two southern tribes of Judah (large) and Simeon (small), are now called “Judah,” or the “Southern Kingdom,” or “the South.” Capital is Jerusalem.
? First, read TOT, 59c-61b and 226b-d for the story and background.
? Then read 1 Kgs 12:1-24, plus the online reading “Northern Kingdom” to the section titled “The Kingdom Divides.” What, specifically, sets off the rebellion? What other factors might be
playing a role? ? What surprise do we get in this story?
Wed Feb 25 …………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. The Northern Kingdom: Initial Problems (1 Kgs 12:25-16:28). Jeroboam, first king of the North, starts off on the wrong foot with those famous golden calves which look too much like Baal worship, because the young bull is the symbol of the god Baal. The next few generations see endless competition for the throne–one assassination, coup or civil war after another. Power, and the chance to take power, seem to corrupt. Finally a strong general named Omri takes control, and hands a strong kingdom to his son Ahab. The rule of king Ahab can represent much of the story of the N. Kingdom. ? Read 1 Kgs 12:25-16:28, along with the online document, “Northern Kingdom”, pp. 1-3 (to first
half of p. 3). ? What are the main ideas here? How will they affect our understanding of the Old Testament? The Northern Kingdom: King Ahab, the Prophet Elijah, and Life under Baal. King Ahab and his high-powered Phoenician queen Jezebel set a record by doing “more evil in the eyes of the LORD than any of those before him” (16:30) by specifically serving the god Baal (16:31-33). This is language which means complete devotion (servitude, slavery) to the god. In actions consistent with this, Jezebel sets about exterminating the prophets of the LORD (18:4, 13). Elijah vs. Ahab, Yahweh vs. Baal. Read the rather exciting stories of 1 Kgs 16:29 through chapter 19, plus chapter 21, along with TOT, 229, and especially the online document, “Northern Kingdom,” middle of p. 3 to middle of p. 6. ? How should we understand the contest at Mt. Carmel and its aftermath? ? How should we understand Elijah’s trip to the desert? ? How should we understand the story of Naboth’s vineyard? Life under Baal: “The only good king. . . .” (1 Kgs 22). Read the brilliantly composed story of King Ahab’s death in 1 Kings 22 along with the online document “Northern Kingdom,” middle of p. 6 to middle of p. 7. ? How should we understand this scene and its place in the meta-narrative? The Prophet Elisha, King Jehu, and the Common People. After the career of Elijah, an intense series of episodes takes place in short order involving his successor, the prophet Elisha. Their names are
similar specifically to confuse students if possible. ? Read 2 Kings chapters 2 and 4-10 (but skip 8:16-29); and TOT, 231d-233; and the online
document: “Meta-narrative…,” “J. The Prophet Elisha….” (pp. 5-6). ? What happens in general in the continuing story? ? What do you notice of interest in the career of Elisha? ? What is the meaning of the Naaman episode? ? How would you assess the career of King Jehu and his policies? ? Is kingship working?
Prophets in Ancient Israel. From this point onward, prophets will play an exceedingly important role in the storyline and content of the Old Testament. ? For a valuable explanation of their varied nature and functions, read and absorb the explanation
in TOT, chapter 17.
The Northern Kingdom: King Jeroboam II (788-747) and the Beginning of the End.
? Jeroboam II (788-747) brings a time of prosperity and expansion, perhaps the greatest of the N. Kingdom. But the prosperity is mostly for the ruling class. The nation is rife with internal oppression and social injustice, and will now be critiqued by the prophet Amos. ? Read 2 Kgs 14:23 to the end of the chapter along with the online document, “Northern Kingdom,” p. 7, second half, on Jeroboam II and the prophet Amos. What are the main ideas here? How does this period fit into the meta-narrative? ? What possible development might we see starting?
The Prophet Amos. Read the introduction to the Book of Amos in TOT, 248-251c; and also the online
document “Amos- Introduction, by Greg Mobley.” Now read the Book of Amos itself, straight through, and absorb the literature. It’s short, easy for
? What can we learn about conditions in and around the Northern Kingdom by reading Amos? ? What are the main messages of Amos? ? What happens to him at Bethel? ? What might have enduring value in this collection of messages?
Selected Readings in the Book of Amos.
Part One: 1:1 – 2:5. God’s judgment on war crimes and crimes against humanity.Six messages against 6 neighboring countries. Summary: if you engage in violence, you will suffer from violence in turn. What goes round comes round.
Part Two: 2:6 – 9:15. Messages of critique and reform to the Northern Kingdom.
? 2:6-8 Against oppressing and exploiting the common people, e.g., with induced debt
slavery. ? 3:1-2 More privilege means more accountability for Israel. ? 3:10-11 Against the fortress cities; they will fail and be destroyed. ? 3:15 The multiple mansions of the ruling class will be destroyed. ? 4:4-5 The lavish public religion at Bethel is a sin. ? 5:4-15 Seek the Lord to survive, or you will be destroyed. Do social justice in order
to survive. Maybe it’s not too late. ? 5:18-20 The “Day of the Lord” will be disaster, not privileged blessing like you think. ? 5:21-24 The Lord rejects your lavish public sacrifices and offerings and religious festivals. Instead, let social justice flow like life-giving waters. ? 6:1-3 Your trust in fortress cities and the ruling class will fail for national security,
just like it has already failed some other strong nations. ? 6:4-7 The ruling class living in luxery will be the first to go into exile. ? 7:10-17 Narrative episode: Amos confronts the high priest at Bethel. ? 8:4-6 Against the ruling class engaging in oppression and injustice on the common
people. ? 9:7-8 You are no different from other nations. The same standards apply to you. ? 9:9-10 Possible outcome A: doom of the Northern Kingdom. ? 9:11-15 Possible outcome B: positive, if you repent. The outcome is up to you.
Wed Mar 4 ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………… The Prophet Hosea. Read the introduction to the Book of Hosea in TOT, 251d-253; and also the online
document “Hosea- Introduction, by Greg Mobley.” ? Now read the Book of Hosea itself, straight through, and absorb the messages in light of the situation at the time. ? How is the book structured? How does it end? ? What are the primary messages of Hosea, and what might have enduring relevance?
Selected Readings in the Book of Hosea.
Part One, Chapters 1-3: The symbolic marriage.
Summary: Hosea marries an unfaithful wife, who is a symbol for the unfaithfulness of the N. Kingdom to their God. Hosea forgives her, which is a symbol for Divine patience and forgiveness, but maybe not endless indulgence. Note 1:4-5: criticism of Jehu’s bloodshed in his fanatical devotion to the Lord.
Part Two, Chapters 4-14: Messages of critique and reform to the Northern Kingdom. The remaining chapters contain messages which critique the N. Kingdom for (i) religious unfaithfulness, especially by going to Canaanite religion; (ii) social injustice; and (iii) trust in the wrong things for national security. Other messages call upon Israel to reform before it is too late, in language of love and compassion by a God who loves His people
like parents love a wayward child.
? 4:1-3 The Lord is inditing the nation (pressing charges) for a whole list of crimes
which result from “no knowledge of God in the land”; many are related to the Ten
? 4:4-10 The Lord holds the religion leaders accountability for leading the nation astray, and they will not be immune from the consequences.
? 6:1-6 A religious service for repentance and reform, which seems to be a satire. The
Lord’s response is, or would be, conflicted about this because it would transient or
insincere, and the Lord wants enduring, long-range commitment rather than lavish sacrifices. ? 7:11 Criticism for placing trust in the wrong things, in this case for changing alliances for security, back and forth between Egypt and Assyria. ? 8:14 Criticism for placing trust in the wrong things, in this case in fortress cities, along with a prediction that it won’t work—they will be destroyed in war. ? 10:13-15 Criticism for placing trust in the wrong things, in this case in the N. Kingdom military power and fortress cities, along with a prediction that it won’t work—they will be destroyed in war—even Bethel– just as Shalmaneser V of Assyria has already done to others. ? 11:1-9 Portrait of God as a loving parent who is conflicted between mercy and justice for Israel.
? 13:1-11 Possible future A: doom of the Northern Kingdom, with a king who cannot save it.
? 14:1-8 Possible future B: positive, if the nation repents. ? 14:9 A final comment, possibly by the editors. Be smart : the outcome is up to you.
The Doom of the Northern Kingdom (2 Kings 15 and 17). Read the online document, “Northern
Kingdom,” p. 8 (from the heading “Assyria Arrives” to the end), along with the passages in 2 Kings listed there. What happens? Why?
The Story of Judah, the Southern Kingdom. We now go to the S. Kingdom, and go back in time to the division between North and South. To understand this period, we need to watch what the prophets say about faith and national policies–both foreign and domestic. Usually the prophets evaluate things by the standards of the covenant, of the desert values, and of well-being for all as the highest
priority. These standards remain relevant to the end of the story in the Promised Land.
The general situation is initial stability because the Davidic dynasty and covenant mean no fighting over who gets the throne. But the mighty Assyrian empire is a growing threat on the horizon, a juggernaut heading this way.
The story of the S. Kingdom is somewhat like that of the North, though with the added factors of Jerusalem and the temple, and with the survival of a remnant beyond the day of doom. Events in the time of the great prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah are the most important and in many ways represent the whole.
For a succinct overview of this period, first read TOT, 234d-237.
The Kingdom of Judah (S. Kingdom) in the 700’s.
? For main events in this period read the online document: “Meta-narrative…,” sections “L. Career of Judah….” to “N. Isaiah, King Hezekiah….” ? In the online document “Southern Kingdom,” read the first section titled “Part One: Judah’s Covenant with Death,” along with the readings in Kings and Isaiah mentioned there.
? What happens in the time of King Azariah (783-742? (He is also called Uzziah.)
Isaiah, King Ahaz (735-715) and the International Crisis (2 Kgs 15:32 16:20; Isa 7-8).
? What happens in the time of King Ahaz, and what is the role of the prophet Isaiah?
? What is the message of Isaiah?
Isaiah, King Hezekiah (715-687), and the Assyrian Crisis (2 Kgs 18-19; Isa 36-37).
? What happens in the time of King Hezekiah, and what is the role of the prophet Isaiah? ? In particular, what is the changing message of Isaiah? ? What might be a possible result of the fact that Jerusalem–and only Jerusalem–survived the devastating destruction of the S. Kingdom by the Assyrian army?
Thur Mar 5 …………………………………………………………………………..
Special voluntary assignment for bonus points, to sort of make up your disappointment at missing class over spring break. Instead, you are invited to attend a class in a course much like ours, only at Yale University, online, with Professor Christine Hayes; and then write a response to it, to turn in. Due Thur Mar 5.
First read about the course at https://oyc.yale.edu/religious-studies/rlst-145
? Then attend her class on “The Parts of the Whole,” which is her intro. presentation to the course. Click on “View Class Sessions” (bottom left, small font); then on “Lecture 1:
The Parts of the Whole.” ? Read the “Overview” paragraph, and then click on either transcript, audio, or video (at the bottom) to take in the lecture itself. ? Pay special attention to the section titled “Chapter 2. Common Myths about the Bible” in the html transcript version, starting about one-third of the way through with: “So before we proceed, I need to ask you to set aside for the purposes of this course, some of the more common myths about the Bible.” (It’s at 00:16:10 in the audio and video versions.) ? Then finish the lecture. ? Return to that section on common myths about the Bible.
Write the following, to submit to me:
? Summarize the 5 myths, two or three sentences each. ? Respond to one of them thoughtfully. That is, give your considered opinion of it, what thoughts it causes in you. ? Length: total of one or two pages. ? Grading: Worth up to 1.0 points toward your final grade, which will function as bonus points of up to 1% beyond the course 100 points for your overall final grade. ? Submit it on BlueLine. Click on Assignments (left side), then on “Yale.”? Due Thur Mar 5.
SPRING RECESS…………………………………………………………………………………………………….. Wed Mar 18 …………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
Meet the Book of Isaiah.
? Our study of Isaiah has a special issue–a mystery–which we want to look at first. What should we do about the apparent difference in historical periods and audiences addressed in the book? When we read straight through Isaiah at one sitting (people do this all the time, right?), and do it with extra attention to whom the audience might be, we notice something interesting. It seems that three different parts of the book address three different audiences in three different time periods and situations, making it look like we can do a basic outline of Isaiah in three parts: ? Part I, called First Isaiah, chapters 1-39: To the Southern Kingdom, especially in the time
of King Hezekiah plus several other kings ? Part II, called Second Isaiah, chapters 40-55: To the Judahites in Babylonian Exile. ? Part III, called Third Isaiah, chapters 56-66: To those who have returned from Exile.
? Read about this in TOT, 255-257a. ? At our stage in the OT story, Part I is the relevant section.
First Isaiah (Isaiah 1-39). Warnings and Hope for the Southern Kingdom.
? This section is clearly addressed to an audience living in the Southern Kingdom, especially in the time of King Hezekiah plus several other kings, over a long career covering a period of approximately 739-687 BCE. The opening verse (Isa 1:1) signals this. ? We often call this prophet “Isaiah of Jerusalem” because that is where he lived. ? The primary message in chapters 1-39 seems to be that the nation has gone wrong, and in what ways, and how it can expect divine discipline or punishment if it does not repent and reform. It also includes some hope for the future beyond such punishment. Chapter 1 as a whole is an example, and chapter 5 is another, though with less hope. ? Read the survey of the messages of Isaiah of Jerusalem in their historical setting in TOT, 257b-260.
Selected Readings in First Isaiah. Read the following selected passages in what we often call “First
Isaiah” (Isaiah Part I) and try to understand them in their own time and place. ? 1:2-9 The South Kingdom is acting like a rebellious son ? 1:10-17 God cannot tolerate sacrifices and offerings without justice and right actions to go with them ? 1:21-27 Zion (Jerusalem) can still find redemption by doing justice and right actions ? 2:1-4 Ending warfare by converting swords into plows and no longer preparing for war ? 2:7-8 Wealth, military power, and idolatry all connected in one list of how the nation has gone wrong ? 5:1-10 The Song of the Vineyard and its meaning ? Chapter 6 Isaiah’s vision calling ? 22:8-11 Criticism of King Hezekiah for trusting his military defenses but not the Lord ? 30:1-5 Inditement for trusting Egypt for national security when rebelling against Assyria, against God’s will? 31:1-3 Inditement for trusting Egypt for national security when rebelling against Assyria ? 32:1-2 A king who can rule with justice and right actions, bringing about well-being like streams of water in the desert ? 32:15-18 The spirit of God can be poured out on all people (not just judges, kings, and
prophets), resulting in justice, right actions, well-being, and safety
The Prophet Micah. Overlapping with the prophet Isaiah in this period was the prophet Micah.
? Read the introduction to the Book of Micah, and a survey of Micah’s messages in their historical setting, in TOT, 261. ? Now read the Book of Micah itself, straight through, and absorb the messages in light of the situation at the time. ? What are the primary messages of Micah, and what might have enduring relevance? Example key passages include: ? 1:2-9 Addressed to all nations and peoples (including the North Kingdom and South Kingdoms). This is a new development. ? 1:13 Chariot battalions in fortress cities like Lachish were the beginning of sin for the S. Kingdom ? 2:6 False prophets try to silence Micah: “Do not proclaim such messages. . . ,” they say to him? 3:1-3, 9-11 Against social injustice and oppression in both the North and South Kingdoms, including the rulers who “build Zion (Jerusalem) with blood” (verse 10) ? 3:5 Criticism of the false prophets who (i) say what their bosses want to hear, and (ii) oppose those who do not pay them ? 3:12-4:4 Two possible outcomes, either destruction or a bright and warless future, depending on the actions chosen by the rulers. Note that Micah adds v. 5 to Isaiah’s version of swords into plows. ? 5:10-15 Includes the military and the fortress cities in a sin list along with idolatry ? 6:1-8 Summary of what God requires of humanity: make justice happen (as a society), be committed to mercy, and walk humbly with God
? 7:14-20 Message of repentance and hope. Note verse 18: “Who is a God like you, pardoning
wrongdoing? . . .He does not stay angry forever. . . .”
King Manasseh (687-642), the Villain of Judah (2 Kgs 21).
? What happens in the time of King Manasseh, and what is the role of prophetic voices during his rule? ? What happens to the service of the Lord during his rule?
Wed Mar 25 ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………. King Josiah (640-609) and the Prophet Jeremiah: Reforms and Foreign Policy.? Assyria starts weakening; several powerful nations, especially Babylon, are looking for their chance to destroy it; Babylon regains independence from Assyria; Egyptian power and ambition are resurging; nationalism is rising in Judah; things are on the move. Driven by conviction and seeing opportunity, the young King Josiah (640-609) energetically begins various activities and policies. And, no surprise, new prophetic voices are heard on the scene: first Zephaniah about the coming “Day of the Lord”; and then the young Jeremiah, the greatest super-prophet of all time, about
practically everything important in the period. ? For a short summary of this eventful period, first read the online document: “Meta-narrative…,” “N. Jeremiah and the Doom of the South” (pp. 8-9), along with the Bible passages mentioned there. ? In more detail, read the online document “Southern Kingdom,” “Part Two: Reform Movement:
Back to Moses’ Torah,” pp. 5-9, also with the Bible passages mentioned there. ? What happens in this period? More specifically: ? What were the 2 kinds of covenant, and what did the new prophetic voices say at this time? ? What was King Josiah’s public national religious reform, and how did it turn out? ? What was the nature and role of the Book of Deuteronomy in all this? ? What was Josiah’s foreign policy, and how did that turn out? The Prophet Zephaniah. In the rule of King Josiah, likely after his great reforms are turning into
nationalism, the prophetic voice of Zephaniah is heard on the scene. ? Read a survey of his messages in their historical setting in TOT, 261d-262. ? Now read the short Book of Zephaniah itself, straight through, and absorb the messages in light of the situation at the time. ? What are the primary messages of Zephaniah, and what might have enduring relevance?
Jeremiah’s Message in the Time of Josiah’s Reform:
? Jer 11:1-13 “The covenant is broken—return to the covenant” (supporting Josiah’s
The Prophet Nahum. When the hated Assyrian Empire falls to Babylonia, the whole world dances on its grave. A prophetic voice expresses the venting of these feelings and gives the fall of Assyria a
surprisingly sophisticated theological interpretation. ? Read a survey of the message of Nahum in its historical setting in TOT, 263. ? Now read the short Book of Nahum itself, straight through, and absorb the messages in light of the situation at the time. ? What are the primary messages of Nahum, and what might have enduring relevance? Jeremiah and the Fall of the Southern Kingdom (609-586). During the rule of King Josiah and through the tumultuous decades that follow, the greatest prophetic voice of all time brings one message after another about the endlessly formative events of the era. Jeremiah’s message changes with the situation as the nation self-destructs through a series of errors in international policy, in social injustice, and in failure to trust God. Judah is vassal first to Egypt and then to Babylon
before it crashes and burns.
Jeremiah’s Changing Message.? For a short summary of this uncommonly eventful period, and what Jeremiah said as the situation kept changing, first read the online document: “Meta-narrative…,” “O. Jeremiah and the Fall of the
Southern Kingdom” (p. 9), along with the Bible passages mentioned there. ? In more detail, read the online document “Southern Kingdom,” “Part Three: The Fall of Jerusalem (2 Kgs 24-25),” pp. 9-end, also with the Bible passages mentioned there. ? Also, read a survey of the messages of Jeremiah in their historical setting in TOT, 266-271a. ? What happens in this period? More specifically: ? What are the main events and what does Jeremiah say about each? ? What, and when, are the two phases or stages of the end of the S. Kingdom and exile to
Babylon? ? Which of Jeremiah’s messages seem interesting to you? Why?
Selected Readings in Jeremiah. Read the following selected passages in the Book of Jeremiah, and try to understand each in its own situation. Use the two online documents assigned for “Jeremiah’s
Changing Message” just above.
Time of Josiah’s reform:
? Jer 11:1-13 “The covenant is broken—return to the covenant” (supporting Josiah’s reform).
? Jer 22:1-5 “Act with justice! End oppression!”? Jer 2:18, 36 “Don’t trust in Egypt for security!”
? Jer 7:1-15 “Don’t trust in the temple for security! Especially while you act with injustice.”
(When Jehoiakim rebels against Babylon)
? Jer 27:12-15 “Serve the king of Babylon and live! Why should the population suffer and
perish? Don’t listen to false prophets.”
? Jer 29:5-10 Letter to the Phase I exiles; “Put down roots, make a life, you will be there for
awhile. Seek the well-being of the enemy city—better for everyone!”? Jer 21:8-12 Inside Jerusalem, under siege by Babylon: “Surrender to Babylon and survive.”
? Jer 21:1-9; 38:17-18 “Don’t expect another miracle [like the time of Hezekiah]. Surrender and
survive! The temple won’t save you.
Sometime at or near the end, maybe after the fall of Jerusalem:
? Jer 31:31-34 “Dear survivors, there is still some hope for the future; God is planning a new covenant.”
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