Archive for the ‘Abiathar’ Tag

The Superscription of the Book of Jeremiah   Leave a comment

Above:  Jeremiah

Image in the Public Domain

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READING JEREMIAH, PART I

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Jeremiah 1:1-3

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The first three verses of the Book of Jeremiah identify the prophet, his father, the prophet’s hometown, and the timeframe of his prophetic ministry.

Jeremiah (“YHWH will exalt”) ben Hilkiah hailed from Anathoth, about three and a half miles northeast of Jerusalem.  The father, Hilkiah, was a priest.  Hilkiah and Jeremiah were outside of the priestly establishment in Jerusalem.  Therefore, this Hilkiah was not the high priest Hilkiah (2 Kings 22:3-23:37) who found the scroll of Deuteronomy in the Temple, brought that scroll to King Josiah (r. 640-609 B.C.E.), and participated in Josiah’s religious reformation.

Hailing from Anathoth was significant.  Anathoth was one of the cities assigned to Levitical priests in Joshua 21:18.  After the death of King David, King Solomon had exiled the priest Abiathar (1 Samuel 22:20-22; 1 Samuel 23:6, 9; 1 Samuel 30:7; 2 Samuel 8:17; 2 Samuel 15:24, 27, 29, 35; 2 Samuel 17:15; 2 Samuel 19:11; 2 Samuel 20:25; 1 Kings 1:7, 19, 25, 42; 1 Kings 2:35; 1 Kings 4:4; 1 Chronicles 15:11; 1 Chronicles 18:16; 1 Chronicles 24:6; 1 Chronicles 27:34; Mark 2:26) to Anathoth for supporting Adonijah in the struggle for succession (1 Kings 2:26-27).  Jeremiah, therefore, was also a member of a priestly family.  He understood the ancient traditions of Israel, as well as the foundational character of the covenant in the life of Israel.

The superscription also defines the period during which Jeremiah prophesied:  from the thirteenth year (627 B.C.E.) of the reign (640-609 B.C.E.) of King Josiah of Judah through “the eleventh year of King Zedekiah,” “when Jerusalem went into exile in the fifth month” (586 B.C.E.).  We read in Chapters 39-44 that Jeremiah prophesied after the Fall of Jerusalem, too.  The list of kings names Josiah, Jehoiakim, and Zedekiah.  That list omits Jehoahaz/Jeconiah/Shallum and Jehoiachin/Jeconiah/Coniah.  Yet, as the germane note in The Jewish Study Bible, Second Edition (2014), points out, few of the prophecies in the Book of Jeremiah date to the reign of King Josiah.

Jeremiah prophesied during a turbulent and difficult period of decline–mostly after the fall of the Assyrian Empire (612 B.C.E. and before the Fall of Jerusalem (586 B.C.E.). In the wake of King Josiah’s death, Judah had become a vassal state of Egypt.  Pharaoh Neco II had chosen the next two Kings of Judah.  Jehoahaz/Jeconiah/Shallum (2 Kings 23:31-35; 2 Chronicles 36:1-4; 1 Esdras 1:34-38) had reigned for about three months before becoming a prisoner in Egypt.  Then Neco II had appointed Eliakim and renamed him Jehoiakim (r. 608-598 B.C.E.; 2 Kings 23:36-24:7; 2 Chronicles 36:5-8; 1 Esdras 1:39-42).  Jehoiakim was always a vassal while King of Judah.  After being the vassal of Neco II of Egypt for about three years, he became a vassal of the Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian Empire in 605 B.C.E.  He died a prisoner in that empire.

Two more Kings of Judah reigned; both were vassals of the Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian Empire.  Jehoiachin/Jeconiah/Coniah (2 Kings 24:8-17; 2 Kings 25:27-30; 2 Chronicles 36:9-10; 1 Esdras 1:43-46) reigned for about three months before going into exile in that empire.  The last King of Judah was Zedekiah, born Mattaniah (2 Kings 24:18-25:26; 2 Chronicles 36:11-21; 1 Esdras 1:47-58).  He reigned from 597 to 586 B.C.E.  The last events he saw before Chaldean soldiers blinded him were the executions of his sons.

The Book of Jeremiah is one of the longest books in the Hebrew Bible; it contains 52 chapters.  The final draft is the product of augmentation and editing subsequent to the time of Jeremiah himself.  In fact, Jeremiah 52 is mostly verbatim from 2 Kings 24:18-25:30.  Also Jeremiah 52:4-16 occur also in Jeremiah 39:1-2, 4-10.  Chronology is not the organizing principle of material in the Book of Jeremiah; jumping around the timeline is commonplace.  For example, the Fall of Jerusalem (586 B.C.E.) occurs between Chapters 32 and 33, as well as in Chapters 39 and 52.  Some ancient copies are longer than other ancient copies.  None of the subsequent augmentation and editing, complete with some material being absent from certain ancient copies of the book surprises me, based on my reading about the development of certain Biblical texts.  I do not pretend that divinely-inspired authors were mere secretaries for God.

Rabbi Abraham J. Heschel made a germane and wonderful point in The Prophets, Volume I (1962), viii:

The prophet is a person, not a microphone.  He is endowed with a mission, with the power of a word not his own that accounts for his greatness–but also with temperament, concern, character, and individuality.  As there was no resisting the impact of divine inspiration, so at times there was no resisting the vortex of his own temperament.  The word of God reverberated in the voice of man.

The prophet’s task is to convey a divine view, yet as a person he is a point of view.  He speaks from the perspective of God as perceived from the perspective of his own situation.  We must seek to understand not only the views he expounded but also the attitudes he embodied:  his own position, feeling response–not only what he said but also what he lived; the private, the intimate dimension of the word, the subjective side of the message.

Those paragraphs applied to all the Hebrew prophets.  They applied to Jeremiah with greater poignancy than to the others, though.

I invite you, O reader, to remain with me as I blog my way through the book of the “weeping prophet.”

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 6, 2021 COMMON ERA

PROPER 5:  THE SECOND SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF FRANKLIN CLARK FRY, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED LUTHERAN CHURCH IN AMERICA AND THE LUTHERAN CHURCH IN AMERICA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CLAUDE OF BESANÇON, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, MONK, ABBOT, AND BISHOP

THE FEAST OF HENRY JAMES BUCKOLL, AUTHOR AND TRANSLATOR OF HYMNS

THE FEAST OF JOHANN FRIEDRICH HERTZOG, GERMAN LUTHERAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM KETHE, PRESBYTERIAN HYMN WRITER

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David on the Run, Part II   Leave a comment

Above:  A Map Showing Israel at the Time of Saul and 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 XXI

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1 Samuel 23:1-14

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Fight those who fight me, O LORD;

attack those who are attacking me.

Take up shield and armor

and rise up to help me.

–Psalm 35:1-2, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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The events of 1 Samuel 23:1-14 flow from those of 1 Samuel 21 and 22.

In 1 Samuel 21, David, on the run, had lied to Ahimelech (great-grandson of Eli), priest at Nob.  David had claimed to be on a mission for King Saul.  Ahimelech had believed David yet not consulted God on David’s behalf.  In the following chapter, Saul had ordered the execution of the priests, all the inhabitants of Nob, and their livestock.  Ahimelech had allegedly consulted God on David’s behalf.

In 1 Samuel 23:1-14, David and his forces defeated Philistines threatening the town of Keilah.  With Saul and his forces on the way, the inhabitants were ready to save themselves from the wrath of the king by turning David over to him.  David fled and continued to live.  Also, Abiathar son of Ahimelech consulted God on David’s behalf.

In 1 Samuel 23:4, David consulted God, who answered.

I like the Quaker doctrine of the Inner Light.  As I age, I find myself growing into mysticism and contemplative prayer.  Despite the strong rebuke of a certain fundamentalist Presbyterian I know, I recognize no spiritual error in listening to and for God.  Contemplative prayer is an ancient aspect of Christian tradition.  Contemplative prayer is a positive part of Christian tradition.  Contemplative prayer has great value.  Prayer is more than talking to God; it includes listening, too.  God, I assume, has much to say and says it.  One operative question is, are we listening?  Are we consulting God?  And, when we receive divine replies, how do we respond?  Do we recognize them for what they are?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 21, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BRUNO ZEMBOL, POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC FRIAR AND MARTYR, 1942

THE FEAST OF SAINTS CAMERIUS, CISELLUS, AND LUXORIUS OF SARDINIA, MARTYRS, 303

THE FEAST OF THE MARTYRS OF EDESSA, CIRCA 304

THE FEAST OF SAINT MAXIMILIAN OF ANTIOCH; MARTYR, CIRCA 353; AND SAINTS BONOSUS AND MAXIMIANUS THE SOLDIER, MARTYRS, 362

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David on the Run, Part I   1 comment

Above:  Ahimelech Giving the Sword of Goliath to David, by Aert de Gelder

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 XX

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1 Samuel 21:1-22:23

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They go to and fro in the evening;

they snarl like dogs and run about the city.

They forage for good,

and if they are not filled, they howl.

For my part, I will sing of your strength;

I will celebrate your love in the morning;

For you have become my stronghold,

a refuge in the day of my trouble.

To you, O my Strength, will I sing;

for you, O God, are my stronghold and my merciful God.

–Psalm 59:16-20, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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David was in open rebellion against King Saul.  Why not?  King Saul had forced the issue by trying to kill David and to have David terminated with extreme prejudice.  There was no indication of David being disloyal to King Saul before the monarch forced fugitive-rebel status upon him.  David, therefore, remained alive the best ways he knew.  The future king, in mortal peril, lied to Ahimelich, great-grandson of Eli, and feigned insanity before Achish, the King of Gath.  According to the text, Achish knew who David, carrying the sword with which he had beheaded Goliath, was.  David’s lie to Ahimelech led to the execution of all but one of the priests at Nob.  Abiathar son of Ahimelech survived, though (1 Samuel 2:33).

The narrative emphasizes the contrast between the characters of Saul and David.  Saul ordered the deaths of innocents–priests, the inhabitants of Nob, and livestock.  When David realized the role he played leading up to those murders, he accepted personal responsibility.  Saul also passed the buck before finally admitting error in 1 Samuel 15.  But was he sincere when he confessed?

You, O reader, may know or know of someone who seldom or never accepts responsibility for his or her actions.  This person may be a neighbor, a boss, a relative, a politician, et cetera.  Such people blame others for their errors, frequently in the manner of projecting their failings onto others.

Those of us who have read the story of David know he was deeply flawed.  We may not like him.  That is fine.  But, if we are honest, we must admit that, according to the story, David admitted errors more than once.  David admitted errors more than once.  I count such honesty as a virtue.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 21, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BRUNO ZEMBOL, POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC FRIAR AND MARTYR, 1942

THE FEAST OF SAINTS CAMERIUS, CISELLUS, AND LUXORIUS OF SARDINIA, MARTYRS, 303

THE FEAST OF THE MARTYRS OF EDESSA, CIRCA 304

THE FEAST OF SAINT MAXIMILIAN OF ANTIOCH; MARTYR, CIRCA 353; AND SAINTS BONOSUS AND MAXIMIANUS THE SOLDIER, MARTYRS, 362

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