Archive for the ‘1 Kings 15’ Category

The Superscription and First Epigram of the Book of Amos   2 comments

Above:  Map of the Kingdoms of Judah and Israel during the Reigns of Kings Azariah (Uzziah) of Judah and Jeroboam II of Israel

Image Scanned from an Old Bible

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READING AMOS, PART I

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Amos 1:1-2

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The superscription (1:1) provides information useful in dating the original version of the Book of Amos.  Jeroboam II (r. 788-747 B.C.E.; 2 Kings 14:23-29) was the King of Israel.  Azariah/Uzziah (r. 785-733 B.C.E.; 2 Kings 15:1-17; 2 Chronicles 26:1-23).  In a seismically-active region, the “big one” of circa 770 or 760 or 750 B.C.E. was apparently a memorable natural disaster.  (Ironing out wrinkles in the chronology of the era from Uzziah to Hezekiah has long been difficult, as many Biblical commentaries have noted.  For example, reputable sources I have consulted have provided different years, ranging from 742 to 733 B.C.E., for the death of King Uzziah.)  Centuries later, after the Babylonian Exile, Second Zechariah recalled that cataclysm in the context of earth-shaking events predicted to precede the Day of the Lord–in Christian terms, the establishment of the fully-realized Kingdom of God:

And the valley in the Hills shall be stopped up, for the Valley of the Hills shall reach only to Azal; it shall be stopped up as a result of the earthquake in the days of King Uzziah of Judah.–And the LORD my God, with all the holy beings, will come to you.

–Zechariah 14:5, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

The original version of the Book of Amos, then, dates to circa 772 or 762 or 752 B.C.E.

The final version of the Book of Amos, however, dates to the period after the Babylonian Exile.  The prophecies of Hosea, Amos, Micah, and First Isaiah, in their final forms, all do.  So do the final versions of much of the rest of the Hebrew Bible, from Genesis to the two Books of Kings.  The final version of the Book of Amos indicates a pro-Judean bias, evident first in the listing of Kings of Judah before King Jeroboam II of Israel.

“Amos,” the shorter version of “Amasiah,” derives from the Hebrew verb for “to carry” and means “borne by God.”

Amos was a Judean who prophesied in the (northern) Kingdom of Israel.  He was, by profession, a breeder of sheep and cattle, as well as a tender of sycamore figs (1:1, 7:14).  The prophet was wealthy.  In 2 Kings 3:4, King Mesha of Moab was also a sheep breeder.  Amos hailed from the village of Tekoa, about eight kilometers, or five miles, south of Bethlehem, and within distant sight of Jerusalem (2 Samuel 14:2; Jeremiah 6:1).  King Rehoboam of Judah (r. 928-911 B.C.E.; 1 Kings 12:1-33; 1 Kings 15:21-31; 2 Chronicles 10:1-12:16; Ecclesiasticus/Sirach 47:23) had ordered the fortification of Tekoa (2 Chronicles 11:6).  Although Amos prophesied in the (northern) Kingdom of Israel, “Israel” (Amos 1:1) was a vague reference.

Since the prophetic office as manifested in Amos was a function of Yahweh’s lordship over his people, the political boundary that had been set up between Judah and Israel was utterly irrelevant.  Amos was concerned with Israel in their identity as the people of the Lord; the sphere of his activity was the realm of the old tribal league, all Israel under Yahweh, and not the state cult with its orientation to the current king and his kingdom.

–James Luther Mays, Amos:  A Commentary (1969), 19

I wonder if the vagueness of “Israel” in Amos 1:1 is original or if it is a product of subsequent amendment and editing.  The later editing and amendment do present questions about how to interpret the edited and amended texts.  Anyhow, I recognize that the message of God, via Amos of Tekoa, received and transmitted faithfully in a particular geographical and temporal context, remains relevant.  That message remains germane because human nature is a constant force, often negatively so.

The reference to the cataclysmic earthquake (Amos 1:) may do more than help to date the composition of the first version of the book.  One may, for example, detect references to that earthquake in Amos 2:13, 3;14f, 6:11, and 9:1.  One may reasonably speculate that the Book of Amos, in its final form, at least, may understand the earthquake of circa 770 or 760 or 750 B.C.E. as divine punishment for rampant, collective, persistent, disregard for the moral demands of the Law of Moses.  This presentation of natural disasters as the wrath of God exists also in Joel 1 and 2 (in reference to a plague of locusts) and in Exodus 7-11 (in reference to the plagues on Egypt).  This perspective disturbs me.  I recall certain conservative evangelists describing Hurricane Katrina (2005) as the wrath of God on New Orleans, Louisiana, allegedly in retribution for sexual moral laxity.  I wish that more people would be more careful regarding what they claim about the divine character.  I also know that earthquakes occur because of plate tectonics, swarms of locusts go where they will, and laws of nature dictate where hurricanes make landfall.

Amos seems to have prophesied in the (northern) Kingdom of Israel briefly, perhaps for only one festival and certainly for less than a year, at Bethel, a cultic site.  Then officialdom saw to it that he returned to Tekoa, his livestock and sycamore figs, and the (southern) Kingdom of Judah.

[Amos] proclaimed:

The LORD roars from Zion,

Shouts aloud from Jerusalem;

And the pastures of the shepherds shall languish,

And the summit of Carmel shall wither.

–Amos 2:2, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

The theological understanding in Amos 2:2 holds that God was resident in Zion.  The reference to Mount Carmel, on the Mediterranean coast and in the (northern) Kingdom of Israel makes plain that the message was, immediately, at least, for the Northern Kingdom.  Looking at a map, one can see the geographical setting.  For the divine voice, shouted in Jerusalem, to make the summit of Mount Carmel writhe, poetically, God really is a force with which to reckon.

God is near, but he is also far–immeasurably exalted, inexpressively different.  He is the king who does not die.

–R. B. Y. Scott, The Relevance of the Prophets, 2nd. ed. (1968), 121

How we mere mortals think, speak, and write about God depends largely on our theological and social contexts–how well we understand science, how we define moral parameters, and how wide or narrow our theological imagination may be.  How we mere mortals think, speak, and write about God must also include much poetry, even prose poetry.  If we are theologically, spiritually, and intellectually honest, we will acknowledge this.  How we mere mortals think, speak, and write about God may or may not age well and/or translate well to other cultures.

Despite certain major differences from the pre-scientific worldview of the eighth-century B.C.E. prophet Amos and the world of 2021 B.C.E., the social, economic, and political context of the Book of Amos bears an unfortunate similarity to the world of 2021.  Economic inequality is increasing.  The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the numbers of poor people while a relative few already extremely wealthy people have become richer.  God still cares deeply about how people treat each other.  God continues to condemn institutionalized inequality.  Many conventionally pious people–religious leaders, especially–are complicit in maintaining this inequality.

Amos of Tekoa continues to speak the words of God to the world of 2021.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 19, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JACQUES ELLUL, FRENCH REFORMED THEOLOGIAN AND SOCIOLOGIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT CELESTINE V, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF SAINT DUNSTAN OF CANTERBURY, ABBOT OF GLASTONBURY AND ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

THE FEAST OF SAINT IVO OF KERMARTIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC ATTORNEY, PRIEST, AND ADVOCATE FOR THE POOR

THE FEAST OF GEORG GOTTFRIED MULLER, GERMAN-AMERICAN MORAVIAN MINISTER AND COMPOSER

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King Ahab’s War Against the Arameans   Leave a comment

Above: Map of the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 1-2 SAMUEL, 1 KINGS, 2 KINGS 1-21, 1 CHRONICLES, AND 2 CHRONICLES 1-33

PART LXXV

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1 Kings 20:1-43

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God is the opposite of evil,

and life is the opposite of death;

so the sinner is the opposite of the godly.

–Ecclesiasticus/Sirach 33:14, Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition (2002)

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King Ahab of Israel (Reigned 873-852 B.C.E.)

King Ben-Hadad I of Aram (Reigned 880-842 B.C.E.)

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Ben-Hadad I was the King of Aram from prior to 1 Kings 15:18 through 2 Kings 8:15.  His realm (roughly modern Syria) sat between Israel and Assyria.  Aram also contained precious trade routes.  In the name of protecting these commercial caravan routes, Ben-Hadad I attacked Israel sometimes.  Ben-Hadad I’s campaign in 1 Kings 20:1-22 was an attempt to force King Ahab of Israel to join an alliance against Assyria, forces of which attacked Aram annually.  Ahab also had closed Aramean bazaars (in Samaria since the days of King Omri of Israel, Ahab’s father).

Ben-Hadad I, not dissuaded by defeat at Samaria the first time, attacked again months later.  He lot again.  The text made clear that that God, not Ahab, therefore, had no right to spare the life of Ben-Hadad I, which he did.

A recurring theme repeats in 1 Kings 10:  Disobedience to God’s instructions leads to death.  This death may not occur immediately, but it will happen.

One acculturated to Reformation theology may consider this teaching too close to the works side of the faith-works debate.  We need to acknowledge an irrefutable historical fact:  Hebrews of the 800s B.C.E. were not Protestants.  Also, works matter, not that I object to King Ahab sparing the life of King Ben-Hadad I.

As Amy-Jill Levine says of the Hebrew Bible, people did things differently then.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 27, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JAMES A. WALSH AND THOMAS PRICE, COFOUNDERS OF THE MARYKNOLL FATHERS AND BROTHERS; AND MARY JOSEPHINE ROGERS, FOUNDRESS OF THE MARYKNOLL SISTERS OF SAINT DOMINIC

THE FEAST OF DMITRY BORTNIANSKY, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF HARRY WEBB FARRINGTON, U.S. METHODIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

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The Reigns of Kings Baasha, Elah, and Zimri of Israel   Leave a comment

Above:  King Zimri of Israel

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 1-2 SAMUEL, 1 KINGS, 2 KINGS 1-21, 1 CHRONICLES, AND 2 CHRONICLES 1-33

PART LXIX

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1 Kings 15:32-16:20

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Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, he will also reap.

–Galatians 6:7, Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition (2002)

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King Baasha of Israel (Reigned 906-883 B.C.E.)

King Elah of Israel (Reigned 883-882 B.C.E.)

King Zimri of Israel (Reigned 882 B.C.E.)

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Baasha became the King of Israel by rebelling against King Nadab, son of King Jeroboam I.  The fate of the House of Baasha was a repeat of that of the House of Jeroboam I.  The author made clear that God had judged King Jeroboam I, Nadab, Baasha, and Elah–four kings in two dynasties–for their sins.

King Zimri, who came to power in a coup, reigned for a week.  Then Omri, another army commander, challenged him.  King Zimri, his fate sealed, burned down the palace with himself in it.  Omri became the next King of Israel and the founder of a new, notorious dynasty.

One can almost hear the tone in the author’s voice.

This is what you get for not having a monarch from the Davidic Dynasty,

one can read between the lines.  That is one of the biases of the Deuteronomic History.  That bias glosses over the sins of King David while simultaneously acknowledging them.  Whenever I read in the Bible that King David did only what was just and that he had a heart after God’s heart, I ask,

Really?

I recall certain Biblical stories from 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, and 1 Kings 1-2 that belie those claims.  I am not theologically and emotionally invested in engaging in nostalgia for King David.  Besides, nostalgia entails remembering the past as being better than it was.

As for the theme of punishment for sins…

Perhaps the operative principle is that we reap what we sow.  God may not have actively deposed any of the monarchs named in this post.  The author did, however, believe that God had done so.  Maybe a particular monarch simply made enemies, who turned on him.  Those who live by the sword die by it, after all.  

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 25, 2020 COMMON ERA

PROPER 25:  THE TWENTY-FIRST SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF PHILIPP NICOLAI, GERMAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT PROCLUS, ARCHBISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE; AND SAINT RUSTICUS, BISHOP OF NARBONNE

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Posted October 25, 2020 by neatnik2009 in 1 Kings 1, 1 Kings 15, 1 Kings 16, 1 Kings 2, Galatians 6

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The Reigns of Kings Abijah/Abijam and Asa of Judah   Leave a comment

Above:  King Abijah/Abijam of Judah

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 1-2 SAMUEL, 1 KINGS, 2 KINGS 1-21, 1 CHRONICLES, AND 2 CHRONICLES 1-33

PART LXVIII

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1 Kings 15:1-24

2 Chronicles 13:1-16:14

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O LORD, your word is everlasting;

it stands firm in the heavens.

Your faithfulness remains from one generation to another;

you established the earth, and it abides.

By your decree these continue to this day,

for all things are your servants.

–Psalm 119:89-91, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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King Rehoboam of Judah (Reigned 928-911 B.C.E.)

King Abijah/Abijam of Judah (Reigned 911-908 B.C.E.)

King Asa of Judah (Reigned 908-867 B.C.E.)

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The reign of King Rehoboam of Judah (1 Kings 12:1-15; 1 Kings 14:21-31; 2 Chronicles 10:1-12:16) was undistinguished, to be polite.  It included the division of the united monarchy and humiliation by a Pharaoh.

The brief reign of King Abijah/Abijam of Judah was also undistinguished, except by sin and warfare, mainly.  Yet the author of 2 Chronicles emphasized that the divine promise to King David remained in effect, and that God granted Judah victory over Israel and King Jeroboam I in combat.

The evaluation of King Asa of Judah is somewhat positive, in contrast to those of his two immediate predecessors.  We read of his long reign, of his faithfulness to God, of his religious reforms, of his war against King Baasha of Israel, and of his failure to trust God during that war.  We also read of King Asa’s unjust actions in reaction against a prophetic critique in 2 Chronicles 16.

We read:

…yet Asa’s heart was undivided as long as he lived.

–2 Chronicles 15:17b, The New American Bible (1991)

Really?  We also read:

“Because you relied on the king of Aram and did not rely on the LORD, your God, the army of the king of Aram has escaped your hand.”

–2 Chronicles 16:7, The New American Bible (1991)

Furthermore, we read:

But even in his sickness he did not seek the LORD, but only the physicians.

–2 Chronicles 16:12b, The New American Bible (1991)

Make up your mind, Chronicler!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 25, 2020 COMMON ERA

PROPER 25:  THE TWENTY-FIRST SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF PHILIPP NICOLAI, GERMAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT PROCLUS, ARCHBISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE; AND SAINT RUSTICUS, BISHOP OF NARBONNE

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The Conclusions of the Reigns of Kings Rehoboam of Judah and Jeroboam I of Israel, with the Fall of the House of Jeroboam I   Leave a comment

Above:  King Rehoboam of Judah

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 1-2 SAMUEL, 1 KINGS, 2 KINGS 1-21, 1 CHRONICLES, AND 2 CHRONICLES 1-33

PART LXVII

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1 Kings 14:1-31

1 Kings 15:1-8

1 Kings 15:25-32

2 Chronicles 12:1-16

2 Chronicles 13:1-21

Ecclesiasticus/Sirach 47:23-25

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Solomon rested with his ancestors,

and left behind him one of his sons,

broad in folly and lacking in sense,

Rehoboam, whose policy drove the people to revolt.

Then Jeroboam son of Nebat led Israel into sin

and started Ephraim on its sinful ways.

Their sins increased more and more,

until they were exiled from their land.

For they sought out every kind of wickedness,

until vengeance came upon them.

–Ecclesiasticus/Sirach 47:23-25, The New Revised Standard Version with the Apocrypha (1989)

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King Rehoboam of Judah (Reigned 928-911 B.C.E.)

King Jeroboam I of Israel (Reigned 928-907 B.C.E.)

King Abijah/Abijam of Judah (Reigned 911-908 B.C.E.)

King Nadab of Israel (Reigned 907-906 B.C.E.)

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The New American Bible–Revised Edition (2011) does not mention Jeroboam I by name in Ecclesiasticus/Sirach/Wisdom of Ben Sira 47.  That translation describes him as

the one who should not be remembered.

Both mentioning and not mentioning Jeroboam I by name in Ecclesiasticus/Sirach/Wisdom of Ben Sira 47 are justifiable.  In fact, Ben Sira did not name either Rehoboam or Jeroboam I.  No, Ben Sira substituted a synonym for 

broad, open place

for Rehoboam and 

let his name not be mentioned

for Jeroboam I.  Nevertheless, as I read in Volume V (1997) of The New Interpreter’s Bible, the present Hebrew text contains the names of both monarchs.  And Ecclesiasticus/Sirach/Wisdom of Ben Sira exists in both Hebrew and Greek versions.

1 Kings 14 would have us believe that King David kept commandments and followed God with all his heart, doing only what was right.  Biblical stories of King David are fresh in my memory.  I do not know what version God, according to the prophet Ahijah, had read or heard.  It must have been a truncated, nostalgic version.

Moving on….

After nearly twenty-two years of King Jeroboam I and about two years of King Nadab, the first dynasty of the northern Kingdom of Israel fell and a bloodbath ensued.  The theme of divine retribution via domestic and foreign troubles played out, according to the texts.  The same theme played out in Judah, in the context of King Rehoboam, in 1 Kings 14 and 2 Chronicles 12.

King Jeroboam I also fought a war against King Abijah, son of King Rehoboam, in violation of the truce in 1 Kings 12:24.

The saga of Israel and Judah was far from over.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 24, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ROSA PARKS, AFRICAN-AMERICAN CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST

THE FEAST OF FRITZ EICHENBERG, GERMAN-AMERICAN QUAKER WOOD ENGRAVER

THE FEAST OF HENRY CLAY SHUTTLEWORTH, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

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