Archive for the ‘2 Kings 23’ Category

Israel’s True Power and Strength   Leave a comment

Above:  King John Hyrcanus I

Image in the Public Domain

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READING JUDITH

PART III

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Judith 4:1-6:2

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Holofernes represented an oppressive violent power and an ego-driven monarch.  The general had succeeded in his previous campaigns, even against people who had greeted his army with garlands, dancing, and the sound of timbrels (2:1-3:10).  The Israelites were in dire straits as he turned his attention toward them.

Yet the Israelites worshiped God.  They prayed to God.  And, as even Achior, the Ammonite leader acknowledged, the Israelites’ power and strength resided in God.  Yet Holofernes asked scornfully,

Who is God beside Nebuchadnezzar?

–Judith 6:2b, The New American Bible–Revised Edition (2011)

Achior found refuge with the Israelites, at least.

A refresher on the Kingdom of Ammon and on the Ammonites is in order.

  1. “Ammon” comes from Benammi, both the son and grandson of Lot (Genesis 19:30-38).  Lot’s daughters had gotten their father drunk then seduced him.  They gave birth to the founders of the Moabite and Ammonite peoples.
  2. The attitude toward the Ammonites in the Bible is mostly negative.
  3. The Kingdom of Ammon was east of the River Jordan and north of Moab.  
  4. The Kingdom of Ammon, a vassal state of Israel under Kings David and Solomon.  After Ammon reasserted itself, it became a vassal state of the Neo-Assyrian Empire then the Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian Empire.  A failed rebellion led to mass deportations of Ammonites and the colonization of their territory by Chaldeans.

Anyone who wants to read more about the Ammonites in the Bible may want to follow the following reading plan:

  1. Genesis 19;
  2. Numbers 21;
  3. Deuteronomy 2, 3, 23;
  4. Joshua 12, 13;
  5. Judges 3, 10, 11, 12;
  6. 1 Samuel 10, 11, 12, 14;
  7. 2 Samuel 8, 10, 11, 12, 17, 23;
  8. 1 Kings 11, 14;
  9. 2 Kings 23, 24;
  10. 1 Chronicles 11, 18, 19, 20;
  11. 2 Chronicles 12, 20, 24, 26, 27;
  12. Ezra 9;
  13. Nehemiah 2, 4, 13;
  14. Psalm 83;
  15. Isaiah 11;
  16. Jeremiah 9, 25, 27, 40, 41, 49;
  17. Ezekiel 21, 25;
  18. Daniel 11;
  19. Amos 1;
  20. Zephaniah 2;
  21. Judith 1, 5, 6, 7, 14;
  22. 1 Maccabees 5; and
  23. 2 Maccabees 4, 5.

Back to Achior…

A close reader of Achior’s report (5:6-21) may detect some details he got wrong.  Not all characters speak accurately in every matter.  One may expect an outsider to misunderstand some aspects of the Israelite story.

At the end of the Chapter 6, we see the conflict between the arrogance of enemies of God and the humility of Israelites.  We know that, in the story, the Israelites could turn only to God for deliverance.  Anyone familiar with the Hebrew prophets ought to know that this theme occurs in some of the prophetic books, too.

In the context contemporary to the composition of the Book of Judith, Jews had endured Hellenistic oppression under the Seleucid Empire.  Jews had won the independence of Judea.  John Hyrcanus I (reigned 135-104 B.C.E.; named in 1 Maccabees 13:53 and 16:1-23) had ordered the destruction of the Samaritan temple on Mount Gerazim and forced many people to convert to Judaism.  The persecuted had become persecutors.  This was certainly on the mind of the anonymous author of the Book of Judith.

May we, collectively and individually, do to others as we want them to do to us, not necessarily as they or others have done to us.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 8, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE TENTH DAY OF ADVENT

THE FEAST OF WALTER CISZEK, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY PRIERST AND POLITICAL PRISONER

THE FEAST OF SAINTS AMATUS OF LUXEUIL AND ROMARIC OF LUXEUIL, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONKS AND ABBOTS

THE FEAST OF ERIK CHRISTIAN HOFF, NORWEGIAN LUTHERAN COMPOSER AND ORGANIST

THE FEAST OF JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER, U.S. QUAKER ABOLITIONIST, POET, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARIN SHKURTI, ALBANIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1969

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Prophets Versus King Jeroboam I of Israel   Leave a comment

Above:  King Jeroboam I 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 LXVI

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1 Kings 13:1-34

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You spurn all who stray from your statutes;

their deceitfulness is in vain.

–Psalm 119:118, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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

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Some people tell me (in the context of science fiction series I have rewatched repeatedly) that my historical perspective, applied to any given episode, is wrong.  They tell me that I should watch each episode as a discreet unit.  Such people are objectively wrong.  They are also not history majors.  No, perspective–hindsight, in particular–is crucial.

I have already finished the project that picks up where this series of blog posts terminates.  This fact provides essential perspective that informs this post.  I know, for example, that the memorial to the errant, unnamed “man from God” from Judah who died in 1 Kings 13 remained intact centuries later, and that King Josiah of Judah (reigned 640-609 B.C.E.) left it intact.  Read 2 Kings 23:16-18, O reader.

Two themes dominate 1 Kings 13.  The first is that the Temple in Jerusalem was the only proper place to offer sacrifices to God, and that priests must come from Levite stock.  The second theme is that deviations from divine instructions leads to death.

Deviation from divine instructions does not always lead to death, but it does always carry negative consequences.  In fact, obedience to divine commands may lead to negative consequences in this life, too.  The question one should ask oneself is not how to avoid all negative consequences.  Doing so is impossible.  No, one ought to ask oneself, 

What kind of person do I want to be?

I, putting my historian’s hat back on, recall reading the transcript of a somewhat profane exchange between Governor George C. Wallace of Alabama and President Lyndon Baines Johnson in the Oval Office.  LBJ, in favor of lowering barriers to African Americans voting, pressured Wallace on this issue.  The Governor responded with lies about how powerless he allegedly was and how this was really a matter for local officials.  LBJ’s rejection of of those falsehoods was both accurate and profane.  The LBJ asked the Governor how he (Wallace) wanted people to remember him (Wallace)–as a man who loved or a man who hated.

What kind of person do you, O reader, want to be?  Do you want to love or to hate your neighbors?  Do you want to love those similar to you and to hate and dehumanize those dissimilar to you?  Do you want to think about the long term first or last?  Do you want to leave the world and your part of it better than you found it?  And are you willing to pay the potentially high price for following the Golden Rule?

I know what kind of person I want to be.  I also recognize cognitive dissonance in myself.  The best news germane to this state of affairs is that I need not surrender to my lower nature.  No, grace is sufficient and plentiful.  Free will still plays a role; I still have to decide what kind of person I want to be and choose what to do regarding that grace.

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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The Rebuke and Repentance of King David   Leave a comment

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Above:  Nathan Rebukes David

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 XXXIX

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2 Samuel 12:1-25

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Hide your face from my sins

and blot out my iniquities.

–Psalm 51:10, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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This story comes to us via 2 Samuel, in the context of the Ammonite war.  1 Chronicles 19-20 omits this story, which portrays David in an unflattering light.  As a serious student of the Hebrew Bible ought to know, the Chronicler liked to make David look good.

King David had abused his power severely.  He had violated a marriage, fathered a child out of wedlock, and used Bathsheba for his purposes.  David had also attempted to cover up his sins in a manner that was far from subtle.  When Uriah the Hittite, Bathsheba’s husband, had refused to play along, David had arranged for his death in combat.  David had committed murder.

Was not David supposedly a man after God’s heart?

To David’s credit, however, he responded appropriately when Nathan the prophet confronted him.  Nathan had courage; David could have had him killed, too.  David’s hands were bloody before he heard of Uriah the Hittite, too.  Yet David had enough integrity to confess his sins and repent.

David repented then received forgiveness.  He did not, however, escape punishment for his sins.  According to the Bible, many of the subsequent woes of David’s reign resulted from the events of 2 Samuel 11.  Unfortunately, the innocent first child of David and Bathsheba also paid the price.  That child died.  The couple had another child, Jedidiah, also known as Solomon.  And David showed some sensitivity to Bathsheba’s feelings.  He took long enough!

I openly dislike David.  I conclude that if David was a man after God’s heart, I do not want to know such a deity.  I, however, hold that David was not a man after God’s heart, but that Josiah, one of David’s successors, was.  (Read 2 Kings 22-23; 2 Chronicles 34:1-35:27; and 1 Esdras 1:1-33, O reader.)

Power carries many temptations.  Power also enables people who have it to indulge certain temptations.  Many of us may want to commit certain sins yet lack the opportunities and means to do so.  I reject the false dichotomy between power corrupting and power revealing character.  Both are accurate and applicable.  Both are also evident in stories of King David.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 1, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT DIONYSIUS EXIGUUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK AND REFORMER OF THE CALENDAR

THE FEAST OF DAVID PENDLETON OAKERHATER, CHEYENNE WARRIOR, CHIEF, HOLY MAN, AND EPISCOPAL DEACON AND MISSIONARY IN OKLAHOMA

THE FEAST OF SAINT FIACRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC HERMIT

THE FEAST OF FRANÇOIS MAURIAC, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC NOVELIST, CHRISTIAN HUMANIST, AND SOCIAL CRITIC

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The Reign of King Jehoiachin/Jeconiah, With His Subsequent Life in Babylon   Leave a comment

Above:  Jehoiachin

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 2 KINGS 22-25, 1 ESDRAS, 2 CHRONICLES 34-36, EZRA, AND NEHEMIAH

PART VIII

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2 Kings 24:8-17; 25:27-30

2 Chronicles 36:9-10

1 Esdras 1:43-46

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For we consume away in your anger:

and we are terrified by your wrath.

–Psalm 90:7, A New Zealand Prayer Book (1989)

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Jehoiachin was the second King of Judah also known as Jeconiah.  The first Jeconiah was Jehoahaz/Shallum (2 Kings 23:31-35; 2 Chronicles 36:1-4; 1 Esdras 34-38).  Jehoiachin was Jeconiah Esther A:4; Esther 2:6; Jeremiah 24:1; Jeremiah 27:20; Jeremiah 28:4; Jeremiah 29:2; and Baruch 1:3 and 1:9.

Jehoiachin (r. 597 B.C.E.) held office for just over three months.  He was either eight years old (2 Chronicles 36:9) or eighteen years old (2 Kings 24:8; 1 Esdras 1:43) at accession.  (That decade makes a big difference.)  The son of Jehoiakim/Eliakim became the third consecutive King of Judah to go into foreign exile and the second one to die in exile in Babylon.  And Nebuchadnezzar II took more sacred vessels from the Temple in Jerusalem off to Babylon.  Furthermore, the first stage of the Babylonian Exile began.

Cuneiform tablets confirm part of 2 Kings 25:27-30.  They do not mention Jehoiachin’s release from prison after 37 years per se.  However, tablets document food rations delivered to the royal household of “Iaukin.”

Jehoiachin ended his days as a leader of his people in exile.  Yes, there was hope, even during the Babylonian Exile.

 

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 5, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ALFRED TENNYSON, ENGLISH POET

THE FEAST OF ADAM OF SAINT VICTOR, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF ALBRECHT DÜRER, MATTHIAS GRÜNEWALD, AND LUCAS CRANACH THE ELDER, RENAISSANCE ARTISTS

THE FEAST OF GEORGE FREDERICK ROOT, POET AND COMPOSER

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The Reign of King Jehoiakim/Eliakim   1 comment

Above:  Jehoiakim

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 2 KINGS 22-25, 1 ESDRAS, 2 CHRONICLES 34-36, EZRA, AND NEHEMIAH

PART VII

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2 Kings 23:36-24:7

2 Chronicles 36:5-8

1 Esdras 1:39-42

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You have renounced your covenant with your servant:

you have defiled his crown in the dust.

–Psalm 89:38, A New Zealand Prayer Book (1989)

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King Jehoiakim (r. 609-598 B.C.E.) was a vassal then an exile and a prisoner.  He did not even get to keep his own name as King of Judah.  He, born Eliakim (“God raises up”), became Jehoiakim (“YHWH raises up”) at the behest of Neco II, Pharaoh of Egypt.  Then Jehoiakim became a vassal of Nebuchadnezzar II/Nebuchadrezzar II (r. 605-562 B.C.E.).  There was a new sheriff in town, so to speak.  The new sheriff even carried some of the sacred vessels from the Temple in Jerusalem off to Babylon.  The already-bad situation became worse as the chickens came home to roost.

Having two successive Kings of Judah sent into exile presaged the coming Babylonian Exile.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 5, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ALFRED TENNYSON, ENGLISH POET

THE FEAST OF ADAM OF SAINT VICTOR, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF ALBRECHT DÜRER, MATTHIAS GRÜNEWALD, AND LUCAS CRANACH THE ELDER, RENAISSANCE ARTISTS

THE FEAST OF GEORGE FREDERICK ROOT, POET AND COMPOSER

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The Reign of King Jehoahaz/Jeconiah/Shallum   Leave a comment

Above:  The Seal of the Kingdom of Judah

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 2 KINGS 22-25, 1 ESDRAS, 2 CHRONICLES 34-36, EZRA, AND NEHEMIAH

PART VI

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2 Kings 23:31-35

2 Chronicles 36:1-4

1 Esdras 1:34-38

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But now you have cast off and rejected your anointed king:

and poured out your wrath upon him.

–Psalm 89:37, A New Zealand Prayer Book (1989)

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Before I get into the substance of this post, I must explain two names.  The Bible contains references to four Jeconiahs and fourteen Shallums.  To confuse matters in this case, “Jeconiah” applies to two of Josiah’s four successors.  Furthermore, the Book of Jeremiah mentions three Shallums.  One of the Shallums in Jeremiah is one of the Jeconiahs.  For the record, Jehoahaz (r. 609 B.C.E.) equals Shallum (Jeremiah 22) and Jeconiah (1 Esdras 1:9, 34-38).

The topic of this post is Jehoahaz, King of Judah.  A serious student of the Bible may recall that there was also a King Jehoahaz of Israel (r. 817-800 B.C.E.) in 2 Kings 10:35 and 13:1-9.

Jehoahaz means “YHWH has grasped.”  This is ironic because the tangible grasper evident in the accounts is Neco II, Pharaoh of Egypt.

Judah became a vassal state of Egypt.  Jehoahaz, after a brief reign (about three months), became a prisoner in Egypt.

Neco II had killed Josiah (2 Kings 23:21-27; 2 Chronicles 35:1-19; 1 Esdras 1:1-22).  After seizing and deposing Jehoahaz, he chose the next King of Judah.  The Kingdom of Judah had entered its terminal spiral toward oblivion.

One may notice the brevity of the accounts of the final four Kings of Judah relative to the lengths of the accounts of Josiah.  Perhaps the brevity constitutes a theological commentary on and an evaluation of the final four monarchs of Judah.  Perhaps the brevity of the coverage of the last four Kings of Judah in 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles, and 1 Esdras indicates an opinion that they were insignificant.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 5, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ALFRED TENNYSON, ENGLISH POET

THE FEAST OF ADAM OF SAINT VICTOR, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF ALBRECHT DÜRER, MATTHIAS GRÜNEWALD, AND LUCAS CRANACH THE ELDER, RENAISSANCE ARTISTS

THE FEAST OF GEORGE FREDERICK ROOT, POET AND COMPOSER

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The Death of King Josiah   Leave a comment

Above:  King Josiah

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 2 KINGS 22-25, 1 ESDRAS, 2 CHRONICLES 34-36, EZRA, AND NEHEMIAH

PART IV

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2 Kings 23:28-30

2 Chronicles 35:20-27

1 Esdras 1:25-33

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For I am full of trouble;

my life is at the brink of the grave.

–Psalm 88:3, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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The Assyrian Empire had fallen in 612 B.C.E., despite the reference to the Assyrian king in 2 Kings 23:29.  The Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian Empire had conquered the Assyrian Empire.  The political situation was unstable in 609 B.C.E.  Some remnant of Assyrian power may have remained.  Pharaoh Neco II (r. 610-595 B.C.E.) sought to establish Egyptian power in Syria.  His route went through Judah.  Josiah wanted to extend his power, too.  Josiah died, either in Megiddo (2 Kings 23:29) or Jerusalem, of mortal wounds inflicted in Megiddo (2 Chronicles 35:24; 1 Esdras 1:31).  Neco II’s bid to extend Egyptian power into Egypt failed; Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian forces made sure of that.

Two recurring themes overlap in the readings for this post.  The first theme is that anyone may, at least once, speak for God.  In this case, the unlikely prophet (partly right) was Neco II, who encouraged Josiah to leave.  The other theme is that disregarding divine instructions, such as those even an unlikely prophet may speak, can lead to one’s death.  One may recall another example of this happening when an unnamed “man of God” from Judah died in 1 Kings 13.  One may also remember that Josiah left that prophet’s memorial intact in 2 Kings 23:15f.  Pulling these threads together may lead to great understanding of the texts.

People were correct to lament the passing of Josiah.  The Kingdom of Judah had about 22 years left.  His successors were terrible.

Even heroes have flaws.  What if Josiah had not acted foolishly in 609 B.C.E.?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 29, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS MARY, MARTHA, AND LAZARUS OF BETHANY, FRIENDS OF JESUS

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King Josiah’s Great Passover   Leave a comment

Above:  Solomon’s Temple

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 2 KINGS 22-25, 1 ESDRAS, 2 CHRONICLES 34-36, EZRA, AND NEHEMIAH

PART III

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2 Kings 23:21-27

2 Chronicles 35:1-19

1 Esdras 1:1-22

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He struck down the firstborn of their land,

the firstfruits of all their strength.

–Psalm 105:36, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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First, let us get the Books of Esdras straight, so that we may know what I mean by 1 Esdras 1:1-22.  The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha contains a useful chart explaining the names of all the Books of Esdras.  Depending on how one counts, there are as many as five Books of Esdras.  The Douay Old Testament lists Ezra as 1 Esdras and Nehemiah as 2 Esdras.  The Revised Standard Version, the New Revised Standard Version, The New English Bible, and The Revised English Bible call the Apocryphal or Deuterocanonical (depending on one’s theological orientation) paraphrase of 2 Chronicles 35-35, Ezra, and part of Nehemiah  (with the tale of three young bodyguards in the court of King Darius I) as 1 Esdras and the apocalypse as 2 Esdras.  The Orthodox Study Bible (2008) lists 1 Esdras as 1 Ezra, Ezra as 2 Ezra, and Nehemiah as Nehemiah.  The apocalypse (2 Esdras) is, according to various sources, alternatively 3 Esdras, 4 Esdras, and, compositely, 2, 4, and 5 Esdras.  For my purposes, Ezra is Ezra, Nehemiah is Nehemiah, 1 Esdras is the paraphrase, and 2 Esdras is the apocalypse.  This is the naming system according to most English translations.

1 Esdras, originally in Greek, dates to no later than 100 B.C.E.  It opens with King Josiah’s great Passover and concludes with Ezra reading the Law to the people.  The focus of 1 Esdras is the Temple in Jerusalem–rather, both of the Temples.  And, just as chronology is not the organizational principle in Ezra and Nehemiah, neither is it the organizational principle in 1 Esdras.

The great Passover of Josiah was part of the monarch’s religious reform policy.  That policy pleased God yet did not prevent the coming judgment, 2 Kings reminds us.

Some minor discrepancies exist between texts.

  1. 1 Esdras 1:10 (originally Greek) reads, in part, “…having the unleavened bread.”  This is a bad translation of 2 Chronicles 35:10 (originally Hebrew), which reads, in part, “by the king’s command.”
  2. 2 Chronicles says that there were 5,000 small cattle and 500 large cattle for the Levites.  1 Esdras says there were 5,000 sheep and 700 calves for the Levites.  If I were a literalist, I would care.
  3. Chronology remains an issue.  As I wrote in the first post in this series, 2 Kings 22 establishes the beginning of Josiah’s religious reforms in the eighteenth year of his life.  In 2 Kings 23, therefore, the great Passover occurred that year.  However, 1 Esdras follows the chronology from 2 Chronicles  34 and 35, placing these events in the eighteenth year of Josiah’s reign instead.
  4. Differences in names may count as discrepancies yet not contradictions.  A careful student of the Bible should be able to think of more than one example of a character with names.  For the record, Conaniah (2 Chronicles 35:9) is reasonably close to Jeconiah (1 Esdras 1:9).  Jeiel and Jozabad (2 Chronicles 35:9) could easily be Ochiel and Joram (1 Esdras 1:9).  And Heman and Jeduthun (2 Chronicles 35:15) could be alternative names for Zechariah and Eddinus (1 Esdras 1:15).

Josiah was trying–really trying.  Kings had staged grandiose Passovers at the Temple prior to this Passover.  For example, Hezekiah, Josiah’s great-grandfather, had staged a grand Passover in 2 Chronicles 30.  Yet this was the first Passover on such a grand scale since the time of Samuel, prior to the monarchy.

However, a portent hung over the glorious occasion.  Josiah was mortal.  His successors were terrible.  The Kingdom of Judah fell.  Exile began.  Yet hope remained, even then.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 29, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS MARY, MARTHA, AND LAZARUS OF BETHANY, FRIENDS OF JESUS

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King Josiah’s Religious Reforms   Leave a comment

Above:  King Josiah Hearing the Book of the Law

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 2 KINGS 22-25, 1 ESDRAS, 2 CHRONICLES 34-36, EZRA, AND NEHEMIAH

PART II

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2 Kings 23:1-20

2 Chronicles 34:19-33

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I will keep your statutes;

do not utterly forsake me.

–Psalm 119:8, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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If one pays attention to 2 Kings 22-23 and compares their contents to 2 Chronicles 34, one notices some irreconcilable differences, chiefly the rearrangement of material from 2 Kings 22-23.  The chronologies differ.  Some of the material from 2 Kings 22 shows up in 2 Chronicles 34:19-33.  Furthermore, 2 Kings 23 tells the story of Josiah’s religious reforms starting after the rediscovery of the Book of the Law in the Temple.  In contrast, the narrative in 2 Chronicles 34 is that Josiah had begun his reforms prior to the finding of the Book of the Law.

I generally consider the accounts in the Books of Samuel and Kings more reliable than those in 1 and 2 Chronicles.  I do this regardless of the internal contradictions present in the Books of Samuel and Kings due to the editing of different, sometimes mutually exclusive sources into one narrative.  Yet the Books of Samuel and Kings are brutally honest about the moral failings of characters who are supposed to be heroes.  However, 1 and 2 Chronicles put the best possible faces on heroes.  1 Chronicles 11 omits the civil war between Kings David and Ishbaal (2 Samuel 2:8-4:12) after the death of King Saul (1 Samuel 31; 2 Samuel 1; 1 Chronicles 10).  Also, 2 Samuel 11 and 12 tell of David and Bathsheba, a story absent from 1 and 2 Chronicles.

2 Kings 23:1-20 details how far folk religion had fallen during the reigns of Josiah’s grandfather (Manasseh) and father (Amon).  The text even mentions prostitution at the Temple in Jerusalem.  The text describes a folk religion that had assimilated with the cultures of neighboring peoples.  If one pays close attention to the Hebrew Bible, one knows that syncretism was an old pattern.  One may also recall that Elijah, after mocking Baal Peor in 1 Kings 17:20f, slaughtered the prophets of the Canaanite storm god.  Josiah resembles Elijah in 2 Kings 23:20.

2 Kings 23:15f refers to 1 Kings 13, in which an unnamed prophet, a “man of God,” from the southern Kingdom of Judah traveled to the northern Kingdom of Israel to condemn the altar in Bethel during the reign (928-907 B.C.E.) of Jeroboam I.  Shortly thereafter, we read, that prophet died because he disobeyed divine instructions.  That is an important detail, one to which I will return in another post before I finish writing about Josiah’s reign.  We also read that Josiah honored the memory of the unnamed “man of God.”

One theme present in both 2 Kings 23:1-20 and 2 Chronicles 34:19-33 yet more prominent in the latter is communal commitment to God.  This is imperative.

Raymond Calkins wrote in The Interpreter’s Bible, Volume III (1954):

The people might perform acts of worship as prescribed, yet go their way as before, living lives of greed and selfishness.  True reform, in a word, is the reformation of inward motives, impulses, desires.  We must begin there.  No outside scheme of salvation will avail so long as men themselves remain self-seeking, materially minded, unbrotherly, indulgent.  The world for which we wait depends not on outward organizations but upon the revival of a true religion in the hearts of men.  Precisely what we are, the world will become.  The reformation of the world depends upon the reformation of the soul.  Such are the lessons taught us by the reforms of Josiah.

–323-324

No theocracy can effect this reformation and make it last, keeping in 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles.  However, the imperative of spiritually-healthy collective action, paired with individual action, remains.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 29, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS MARY, MARTHA, AND LAZARUS OF BETHANY, FRIENDS OF JESUS

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Good and Bad Shepherds, Part I   1 comment

Jehoiakim

Above:   Jehoiakim

Image in the Public Domain

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The Collect:

O God, our true life, to serve you is freedom, and to know you is unending joy.

We worship you, we glorify you, we give thanks to you for your great glory.

Abide with us, reign in us, and make this world into a fit habitation for your divine majesty,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who reigns with you

and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 53

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The Assigned Readings:

Zechariah 11:1-17 (Friday)

Jeremiah 22:18-30 (Saturday)

Psalm 46 (Both Days)

1 Peter 1:3-9 (Friday)

Luke 18:15-17 (Saturday)

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God is our refuge and our strength,

a very present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth be moved,

and though the mountains be toppled into the depths of the sea;

Though its waters rage and foam,

and though the mountains tremble at its tumult.

The LORD of hosts is with us;

the God of Jacob is our stronghold.

–Psalm 46:1-4, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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The reading from Second Zechariah is an allegory of a selfish and foolish shepherd who, instead of protecting the sheep of his flock, sells them to their slaughterer for the sum of thirty shekels of silver.  The identification of the shepherd (code for political leader) is open-ended, and the price for which he sells the sheep of his flock to their doom is the same amount Judas Iscariot went on to receive for betraying Jesus in Matthew 26:14-16.  One might surmise correctly that many members of Matthew’s audience, being Jews familiar with their scriptural heritage, would have recognized the echo of Zechariah 11.

Perhaps Second Zechariah was thinking of monarchs such as Jehoiakim (reigned 608-598 B.C.E.), of whom one can read in Jeremiah 22:13-19, 2 Kings 23:36-24:7, and 2 Chronicles 36:5-8, and of his son, Jeconiah/Jehoiachin (reigned 597 B.C.E.), of whom one can read in Jeremiah 22:20-30, 2 Kings 24:8-17, and 2 Chronicles 36:9-10.  Jehoiachin was the penultimate King of Judah, and, by the time of his deposition by a foreign potentate, the realm Kingdom of Judah was obviously independent in name only.

Of Jehoiakim, father of Jehoiachin, Jeremiah 22 says in part:

Woe to him who builds his house on wrong,

his terraces on injustice;

Who works his neighbor without pay,

and gives him no wages.

Who says, “I will build myself a spacious house,

with airy rooms,”

Who cuts out windows for it,

panels it with cedar,

and paints it with vermillion.

–Verses 13-14, The New American Bible (1991)

Such shepherds abound, unfortunately.  I refer not to those who strive to do the right thing for their populations yet fail to accomplish their goals, but to those to operate not out of any sense of seeking the common good but out of greed, self-aggrandisement, and indifference toward justice, especially that of the economic variety.

Among the most familiar images of Jesus in the Gospels is that of the Good Shepherd (John 10:1-21), who not only watches his flock attentively but lays down his life for it.  The Good Shepherd is the polar opposite of the shepherd in Zechariah 11.  The Good Shepherd is Jesus in 1 Peter 1 and the figure who points to powerless children as spiritual models in Luke 18.  The Good Shepherd is one consistent with the description of God in Psalm 46.

To be a sheep in the flock of the Good Shepherd is wonderful indeed.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 7, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK LUCIAN HOSMER, U.S. UNITARIAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANTHONY MARY GIANELLI, FOUNDER OF THE MISSIONARIES OF SAINT ALPHONSUS LIGUORI AND THE SISTERS OF MARY DELL’ORTO

THE FEAST OF CHARLES AUGUSTUS BRIGGS, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN PASTOR THEN EPISCOPAL PRIEST

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROBERT OF NEWMINSTER, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND PRIEST

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Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2016/06/07/devotions-for-friday-and-saturday-before-proper-29-year-c-elca-daily-lectionary/

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