Archive for the ‘Jeroboam II’ Tag

Five Visions of Divine Judgment Against Israel   Leave a comment

Above:  Nature Morte au Vase de Porcelaine, by Pierre-Antoine Lemoine

Image in the Public Domain

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READING AMOS, PART V

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Amos 7:1-9:10

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The prophecies against King Jeroboam II (reigned 788-747 B.C.E.; 2 Kings 14:23-29) of Israel, his dynasty (842-747 B.C.E.), and the (northern) Kingdom of Israel were unpopular at Bethel, predictably.

One scholarly hypothesis holds that the original draft of the Book of Amos came into existence after the prophet (who humbly denied being a prophet in 7:14) had to return to the (southern) Kingdom of Judah.  If so, the existence of the Book of Amos constitutes an example of irony.  In 2021, many people can hear and/or read an expanded, amended version of what Amaziah, the priest at Bethel in the middle-to-late 700s B.C.E., tried to quash.

The first vision of judgment (7:1-3) was that of a swarm of locusts consuming late-sown crops after the royal reaping.  (King Jeroboam II had claimed a portion of the earlier harvest for his herds and horses to consume.)  God was not in a forgiving mood.

The second vision of judgment (7:4-6) was that of a rain of fire that, having devoured “the great abyss,” consumed these locust-devastated fields.  In the germane ancient cosmology, that of the creation myth in Genesis 1:1-2:4a, the Earth was flat, with waters below and a dome above.  (Do Creationists think that the planet is like this?  Do they belong to the Flat Earth Society?)  In this apocalyptic scene, God was really not in a forgiving mood.

The third vision of judgment (7:7-9) was that of a plumb line, or a plummet (depending on translation).  One used this tool to determine how far out of line a wall or building had become, if repair was possible, and if demolition was necessary.  The verdict on the kingdom of Jeroboam II was that the realm was beyond salvage.

The fourth vision of judgment (8:1-14) was that of a basket of fruit (or figs) from the end of summer.  (The Hebrew word for “summer” puns on the Hebrew word for “end.”)  God declared doom on the kingdom that had forsaken the covenant.  Rife, systemic social injustice, especially of the economic variety, was evidence of this abandonment of the covenant.  God was indeed distant from the (northern) Kingdom of Israel.  The people had spurned God, anyway.

The language of the fifth vision (9:1-10), the vision of the destruction of the sanctuary, is bleak, evocative, and apocalyptic.  The (northern) Kingdom of Israel had, in laymen’s terms, “torn it.”  The proverbial gig was up.  The fulfillment of this prophecy was simply a matter of time–about a quarter of a century.

Given that commentaries inform me of subsequent editing of the original version of the Book of Amos, I wonder how well some religious figures in the (southern) Kingdom of Judah handled these prophesies as that kingdom went into decline and vassalage, and as the threat of the Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian Empire loomed.  I also wonder how much of the content in the texts in Amos 7-9 dates to after 722 B.C.E. and before 586 B.C.E.

Anyhow, a timeless lesson applies.  Divine judgment and mercy exist in balance.  Divine patience is not infinite.  Neither is divine judgment.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 23, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE DAY OF PENTECOST, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF SAINT IVO OF CHARTRES, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF BENJAMIN CARR, ANGLO-AMERICAN COMPOSER AND ORGANIST

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK AUGUSTUS BENNETT, FIRST MAORI ANGLICAN BISHOP IN AOTEAROA/NEW ZEALAND

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JÓZEF KURGAWA AND WINCENTY MATSUZEWSKI, POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS AND MARTYRS, 1940

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM OF PERTH, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC BAKER AND MARTYR, 1201

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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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Israel’s Punishment and Restoration, Part I: The Fruits of Idolatry and Punishment for Rebellion   1 comment

Above:  Small Waterfall, Poss Creek, Ben Burton Park, Athens-Clarke County, Georgia, October 29, 2017

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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…Like foam upon water.

–Hosea 10:7, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

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READING HOSEA, PART VIII

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Hosea 10:1-15

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St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430) defined sin as disordered love.  The great theologian and Bishop of Hippo Regius explained that God deserves the most love.  Furthermore, people, as well as certain items, ideas, institutions, and activities deserve less love than God.  Furthermore, some some ideas, items, institutions, and activities deserve no love.  The Bishop of Hippo Regius taught that to give God less love than proper and anything or anyone else more love than proper is to have disordered love–sin.  This sin is also idolatry, for it draws love away from God.

Hosea 10:1-15 employs metaphors for the (northern) Kingdom of Israel.  10:1-10 describes Israel as a vine.  The vine’s days of economic prosperity and military security during the reign (788-747 B.C.E.) of Jeroboam II are over in the vision.  Also, we read, the golden calf at Bethel (“House of God”), or as Hosea called the place, Beth-aven (“House of Evil;” see 4:15 also), will become an object of tribute hauled off to the Assyrian Empire.  And

Samaria’s monarchy is vanishing

Like foam upon the water….”

–10:7, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

The New American Bible–Revised Edition (2011) offers an alternative translation:

Samaria and her king will disappear,

like a twig upon the waters.

Israel is like a heifer in 10:11-15.  Israel, trained to sow righteousness and, therefore, to reap the fruits of goodness, instead plows wickedness.  Therefore, Israel reaps iniquity and eats the fruits of treachery.  Israel’s reliance on its way has led to its preventable fate.

I detect what may be evidence of subsequent Judean editing of 10:11:

I will make Ephraim do advance plowing;

Judah shall do [main] plowing!

Jacob shall do final plowing!

TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

Hosea 10:13-14 refers to military threats.  The immediate threat was from either Tiglath-pileser III (r. 745-727 B.C.E.), Shalmaneser V (r. 727-722 B.C.E.), or Sargon II (r. 722-705 B.C.E.) of the Assyrian Empire.  Shalmaneser V began the siege of Samaria; Sargon II finished it.  This detail seems to have been lost on the author of 2 Kings 17:1-6.  Perhaps Hosea 10:13-14, in referring to Shalman having destroyed Betharbel, means Shalmaneser III (r. 858-824 B.C.E.), from the time of King Jehu of Israel (r. 842-814 B.C.E.).  (See 2 Kings 9:1-10:30; 2 Chronicles 22:5-9.)  The reference to the battle at Betharbel is obscure, but the warning is plain.  The collective consequences of collectively forsaking the divine covenant are terrible, we read.

Perhaps James Luther Mays summarized the situation best:

Yahweh will be the one who acts in gruesome devastation against those whose faith makes them secure against his judgment and independent of his power.  Autonomy as a state of violation of their existence as the covenant people is the “evil of their evil.”  The king to whom the army belongs and who therefore incarnates their independence of Yahweh will be the first to fall.  In the dawn’s first light, when the battle has hardly begun, he shall be cut off.

Hosea:  A Commentary (1969), 150

After all, as R. B. Y. Scott wrote:

If the righteousness of Yahweh could not find realization in a social order, it must destroy the order of life men built in its defiance.

The Relevance of the Prophets, 2nd. ed. (1968), 188

The prophets Hosea and Amos were contemporaries with different foci.  As Rabbi Abraham J. Heschel wrote, Amos saw episodes yet Hosea saw a drama.  Also, Amos focused on social injustice (especially economic injustice), but Hosea focused on idolatry.  Injustice and idolatry were related to each other.  The people and their kings, by straying from God, strayed also from the divine covenant, of which social justice was an essential part.

That is a timeless message that should cause many people to tremble.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 18, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF MALTBIE DAVENPORT BABCOCK, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, HUMANITARIAN, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT FELIX OF CANTALICE, ITALIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC FRIAR

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN I, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF MARY MCLEOD BETHUNE, AFRICAN-AMERICAN EDUCATOR AND SOCIAL ACTIVIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT STANISLAW KUBSKI, POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1945

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God’s Case Against Israel, Part III: Israel’s Treachery   Leave a comment

Above:  Doves (Hosea 7:11)

Image in the Public Domain

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READING HOSEA, PART VI

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Hosea 6:7-8:14

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Understanding this reading in textual context requires backing up to at least Hosea 6:4.  For a refresher, I refer you, O reader, to the previous post in this series.

Hosea 6:7-8:14 contains some references from a later period, after the Fall of Samaria in 722 B.C.E.  These references to Judah (6:11, 8:14) relate to the text to the (southern) Kingdom of Judah when it was declining.

According to this and other prophetic texts, alliances with powerful and dubious neighbors constituted infidelity to and treason against God.  The references to the Egyptians were odd, given that the (northern) Kingdom of Israel entered into alliances with Aram and Assyria.  At the time of Hosea 1:1, the main regional conflict was Aram versus Assyria.  However, Judah did become a vassal of Egypt (2 Kings 23:31f).

That matter aside, divine chastisement, designed to bring about repentance, had not done so.  Therefore, the time for punishment had arrived.

Hosea 7:3-7 makes sense if one considers royal succession in the (northern) Kingdom of Israel during the final quarter-century of the that realm:

  1. Jeroboam II (r. 788-747 B.C.E.) had died.  (See 2 Kings 14:23-29.)
  2. Zechariah (r. 747 B.C.E.), his son, succeeded him.  Zechariah reigned for about six months.  (See 2 Kings 15:8-12.)
  3. Shallum (r. 747 B.C.E.) overthrew Zechariah then reigned for about a month.  (See 2 Kings 15:13-16.)
  4. Menahem (r. 747-737 B.C.E.) overthrew Shallum.  (See 2 Kings 15:17-22.)
  5. Pekahiah (r. 737-735 B.C.E.), his son, succeeded him.  (See 2 Kings 15:23-26.)
  6. Pekah (r. 735-732 B.C.E.) overthrew Pekahiah.  (See 2 Kings 15:27-31.)
  7. Hoshea (r. 732-722 B.C.E.) overthrew Pekah and became the last King of Israel.  (See 2 Kings 17:1f.)

Two dynasties and four kings of Israel fell in twenty-five years.  Six Kings of Israel came and went.  Two kings without dynasties fell.  The (northern) Kingdom of Israel did not endure.

They sow wind,

And they shall reap the whirlwind–

Standing stalks devoid of ears

And yielding no flour.

If they did yield any,

Strangers shall devour it.

–Hosea 8:7, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

Assyrians did devour it.

The two calves of Samaria, at Bethel and Dan (1 Kings 12:26-33), dated to the reign (928-907 B.C.E.) of Jeroboam I.  (See 1 Kings 11:26-14:20.)  King Jeroboam I, for political reasons, did not want any of his subjects making pilgrimages to the Temple in Jerusalem, the capital of the (southern) Kingdom of Judah.  The two calves, therefore, were substitutes for the Temple in Jerusalem.

I reject your calf, Samaria!

I am furious with them!

Will they ever be capable of purity?

For it was Israel’s doing;

It was only made by a joiner,

It is not a god.

No, the calf of Samaria shall be

Reduced to splinters!

–Hosea 8:5-6, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

Hosea 8:1-14 may, in its final form, be the product of Judean editing of an extant text.  One feasible interpretation of 8:3-6 is that all the kings of the (northern) Kingdom of Israel (from Jeroboam I to Hoshea) were as illegitimate as the golden calves at Bethel and Dan.  One who has read of the northern monarchs may recognize the pattern of dynasties rising and falling.  I hold open the possibility that the original version of the Book of Hosea included at least some of this material.  The final version of 8:14, bearing the stamp of Judean editing, updated for a new (now ancient) context, provided no comfort.

Israel has ignored his Maker

And built temples

(And Judah has fortified many cities).

So I will set fire to his cities,

And it shall consume their fortresses.

TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

It happened twice, in 722 and 586 B.C.E.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 17, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THOMAS BRADBURY CHANDLER, ANGLICAN PRIEST; HIS SON-IN-LAW, JOHN HENRY HOBART, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF NEW YORK; AND HIS GRANDSON, WILLIAM HOBART HARE, APOSTLE TO THE SIOUX AND EPISCOPAL MISSIONARY BISHOP OF NIOBRARA THEN SOUTH DAKOTA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CATERINA VOLPICELLI, FOUNDRESS OF THE SERVANTS OF THE SACRED HEART; SAINT LUDOVICO DA CASORIA, FOUNDER OF THE GRAY FRIARS OF CHARITY AND COFOUNDER OF THE GRAY SISTERS OF SAINT ELIZABETH; AND SAINT GIULIA SALZANO, FOUNDRESS OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE CATECHETICAL SISTERS OF THE SACRED HEART

THE FEAST OF CHARLES HAMILTON HOUSTON AND THURGOOD MARSHALL, ATTORNEYS AND CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVISTS

THE FEAST OF DONALD COGGAN, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

THE FEAST OF SAINT IVAN ZIATYK, POLISH UKRAINIAN GREEK CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1952

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The Family of Hosea and the Restoration of Israel   Leave a comment

Above:  Hosea and Gomer

Image in the Public Domain

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READING HOSEA, PART II

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Hosea 1:2-2:1 (Anglican, Protestant, and Eastern Orthodox)

Hosea 1:2-2:3 (Jewish and Roman Catholic)

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When I began my preparation for writing this post, I read the text aloud.  While doing so, I got theological whiplash.  Late in the reading, I also detected evidence of subsequent, Judean editing of the text, as in 1:7 and 1:10-2:1/2:3.  (I wrote about reasons for subsequent, Judean editing in the original text of the Book of Hosea in the previous post.)

Adultery and prostitution, in the Bible, are sometimes simply adultery and prostitution.  On other occasions, they are not literal references, but metaphors for idolatry.  And, on other occasions, they are both literal and metaphorical.  Regarding Gomer, the third option is germane.

Idolatry was widespread in ancient Israel.  Polytheism was ubiquitous in the ancient world, so monotheism was an outlying theological position.  Canaanite religion was popular in ancient Israel, much to the consternation of God, God’s prophets, and pious priests.  Pious priestly religion and folk religion were quite different from each other.  The cult of Baal Peor, the Canaanite storm and fertility god, entailed shrine prostitution, to ensure continued fertility and productivity of the soil, officially.  Gomer (“to complete,” literally) was probably one of these prostitutes.

A competing scholarly opinion in commentaries holds that Gomer was a different type of prostitute.  Some books I consulted suggested that she may have resorted to prostitution out of economic necessity, that her alternatives may have been starvation and homelessness.  These scholars write accurately that many women in patriarchal societies have found themselves in this predicament, and that, in Gomer’s society, women lacked property rights.

Gomer being a shrine prostitute fits the metaphor in the Book of Hosea better.

Metaphorically, God’s covenant with the Jews was a marriage.  Worship of Baal Peor, therefore, constituted infidelity.  God was, metaphorically, her husband, and the Jewish people were God’s wife.

The marriage of Hosea and Gomer dramatized the divine indictment of Israel.  The prophet played the role of God, and Gomer took the role of Israel.  The children of Hosea ben Beeri and Gomer bath Didlaim bore names that revealed God’s terse messages.

  1. The first son was Jezreel, literally “God sows.”  Jezreel was a city (as in Joshua 15:56) and a valley (as in Judges 6:33).  Apart from the Book of Hosea, this place name occurred in Joshua 15, 17, and 19; Judges 6; 1 Samuel 25, 27, 29, and 30; 2 Samuel 2, 3, and 4; 1 Kings 4, 18, and 21; 2 Kings 8, 9, and 10; 1 Chronicles 4; and 2 Chronicles 22.  The city of Jezreel had a bloody past.  There, for example, Queen Jezebel had plotted the murder of Naboth (1 Kings 21).  And, when King Jehu founded the dynasty to which King Jeroboam II belonged, Jehu did so by assassinating the entire royal court at Jezreel.  What had come around was coming around, God warned.  In 747 B.C.E., King Zechariah, son of Jeroboam II, died after reigning for about six months.  His life and the House of Jehu ended violently when King Shallum staged a palace coup.  About a month later, King Shallum died in another palace coup (2 Kings 15:11-15).  Hosea, by the way, disagreed with the perspective of 2 Kings 9-10, the author of which held that God had authorized Jehu’s revolution.
  2. Lo-ruhamah was the daughter of Hosea and Gomer.  The daughter’s name meant “not accepted” and “not shown mercy.”  (Poor girl!)  God refused to accept or pardon the House of Israel.
  3. Lo-ammi was the second son.  His name meant “not My people.”  (Poor boy!)  The House of Israel had ceased to be God’s people.

Pronouncements of divine judgment continued after 1:9.  But first, in 1:10-2:1/2:1-3 (depending on versification), came an announcement of divine mercy.  Those God had just condemned as not being His people would become the Children of the Living God, shown mercy and lovingly accepted.  This passage may have been a subsequent insertion into the Book of Hosea.

The juxtaposition of material serves a valuable theological purpose.  It reminds us that divine judgment and mercy exist in balance.  Therefore, do not abandon all hope or presume on divine mercy; God both judges and forgives.  I recognize this balance without knowing where judgment gives way to mercy, and mercy to judgment.

The marriage of Hosea and Gomer also dramatized God’s continued yearning for Israel.  R. B. Y. Scott wrote:

Hosea speaks of judgment that cannot be averted by superficial professions of repentance; but he speaks more of love undefeated by evil.  The final words remain with mercy.

The Relevance of the Prophets, 2nd. ed. (1968), 80

History offers a complicating factor.  John Adams, while defending the accused British soldiers charged in the so-called Boston Massacre, said,

Facts are stubborn things.

Consider the following stubborn facts, O reader:

  1. The Assyrian Empire absorbed the (northern) Kingdom of Israel in 722 B.C.E.  A mass deportation followed.  This was not the first mass deportation.  A previous one had occured in 733 B.C.E., when that empire had claimed much of the territory of the (northern) Kingdom of Israel.
  2. Many refugees from the (northern) Kingdom of Israel fled south, to the Kingdom of Judah after these events.  These refugees merged into the tribes of Judah and Simeon.
  3. Many other Israelites remained in their homeland.  Many who did this intermarried with Assyrian colonists, producing the Samaritans.
  4. The Ten Lost Tribes assimilated.  Their genetic and cultural heritage spread throughout the Old World, from Afghanistan to South Africa, over time.
  5. The two kingdoms did not reunited, contrary to Hosea 1:11/2:2.

Nevertheless, I like what R. B. Y. Scott wrote:

The final word remains with mercy.

I hope so.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 13, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE ASCENSION OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST

THE FEAST OF HENRI DOMINIQUE LACORDAIRE, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, DOMINICAN, AND ADVOCATE FOR THE SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE

THE FEAST OF FRANCES PERKINS, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF LABOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT GEMMA OF GORIANO SICOLI, ITALIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC ANCHORESS

THE FEAST OF SAINT GLYCERIA OF HERACLEA, MARTYR, CIRCA 177

THE FEAST OF UNITA BLACKWELL, AFRICAN-AMERICAN CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST

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The Superscription of the Book of Hosea   3 comments

Above:  A Map of the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah

Scanned from an Old Bible

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READING HOSEA, PART I

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Hosea 1:1

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This post begins an ambitious program of Bible study and blogging.  I, having recently blogged my way through Daniel, Jonah, and Baruch at this weblog, turn to the other books of the Old Testament classified as prophetic.  In the first stage, I am reading and blogging about Hosea, Amos, Micah, and First Isaiah, all of them contemporaries prior to the Babylonian Exile.

The prophet Hosea (“rescue”) ben Beeri lived and prophesied in the (northern) Kingdom of Israel.  According to Hosea 1:1, Hosea prophesied during the reigns of the following monarchs:

  1. Azariah (Uzziah) of Judah (r. 785-733 B.C.E.); see 2 Kings 15:1-7 and 2 Chronicles 26;
  2. Jotham of Judah (r. 759-743 B.C.E.); see 2 Kings 15:32-38 and 2 Chronicles 27:1-9;
  3. Ahaz of Judah (r. 743/735-727-715 B.C.E.); see 2 Kings 16:1-20, 2 Chronicles 28:1-27, and Isaiah 7:1-8:15;
  4. Hezekiah of Judah (r. 727/715-698/687 B.C.E.); see 2 Kings 18:1-20:21, 2 Chronicles 29:1-32:33, Isaiah 38:1-39:8, and Ecclesiasticus/Sirach 48:17-22 and 49:14; and
  5. Jeroboam II of Israel (r. 788-747 B.C.E.), see 2 Kings 14:23-29.

The list of kings (with dates taken from The Jewish Study Bible, Second Edition, 2014) does not include any Israelite monarchs who succeeded Jeroboam II through the Fall of Samaria (722 B.C.E.) and were contemporary with King Ahaz of Judah and perhaps King Hezekiah of Judah.  Also, this list prioritizes the Kings of Judah.  If one is intellectually honest (as I try to be), the chronological problem is obvious: Ahaz and Hezekiah do not belong on the list of kings in Hosea 1:1. The Book of Hosea contains layers of composition and editing.  Alteration of the original text seems to have begun perhaps as early as prior to the Babylonian Exile, in the (southern) Kingdom of Judah, and continued (probably) as late as the post-Exilic period.  The chronological discrepancy in Hosea 1:1 is a minor matter.  If I were a fundamentalist, it would trouble me, and I would attempt to reconcile the irreconcilable.  Karen Armstrong tells us:

…fundamentalism is antihistorical….

A History of God:  The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (1993), xx

The NIV Study Bible (1985) pretends that there is no chronological discrepancy in Hosea 1:1.  But I do not affirm either Biblical literalism or inerrancy, so I acknowledge and ponder the evidence of alteration of the original text of the Book of Hosea.  Besides, salvation does not require willful ignorance or a frontal lobotomy.  Besides, giving short shrift to one’s intellect in the name of piety dishonors the image of God in oneself.

The germane note in The Jewish Study Bible, Second Edition (2014) argues for the editing of the original text of the Book of Hosea during the final, declining period of the (southern) Kingdom of Judah:

From the Israelite perspective, the book is anchored in the last period of strength of the Northern Kingdom; from the Judahite perspective, it is anchored in a period in which Israel moves from a political position of strength to the beginning of its demise in the days of Hezekiah.  This double perspective is no mistake, but a rhetorical clue for the reading of the book.

–1132

Gale A. Yee wrote:

The priority of Judean kings suggests a Judean editing.  The phraseology and structure that this verse shares with other prophetic superscriptions indicates that it was part of a joint redaction of the prophetic books.  This editing probably occurred during or after the Babylonian exile, when the latter prophets can be dated.  Moreover, the phraseology is similar to the editing of 1 and 2 Kings, suggesting a deuteronomistic redaction.  The superscription emphasizes that while the revelation was addressed to a particular prophet at a particular historical time, the book in its later, edited state articulates the revealed message of God.  As God’s word through Hosea spoke to its original audience and to its later Judean audience, it continues to address us today.

The New Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. 7 (1996), 217

The (united) Kingdom of Israel had divided in 928 B.C.E., early in the reign of King Rehoboam, son of King Solomon.  The Davidic Dynasty, which had ruled the (united) Kingdom of Judah since 1005 B.C.E., governed the (southern) Kingdom of Judah, including the tribes of Judah and Simeon, until the Fall of Jerusalem (587 B.C.E.).  In contrast, dynasties rose and fell in the (northern) Kingdom of Israel.  King Jeroboam II (reigned 788-747) belonged to the House of Jehu, which had come to power in a bloody revolution in 842 B.C.E.  Jeroboam II presided over a prosperous and militarily strong realm (2 Kings 14:23-29). Yet, just a quarter-century after his death, the former (northern) Kingdom of Israel fell to the Assyrian Empire.  Those twenty-five years were politically tumultuous.

  • King Zechariah succeeded his father, Jeroboam II, in 747 B.C.E., and reigned for about six months (2 Kings 15:8-12)
  • King Shallum ended the House of Jehu, as well as the life and reign of King Zechariah via assassination in 747 B.C.E.  Shallum reigned for about a month (2 Kings 15:13-16).
  • King Menahem (r. 747-737 B.C.E.) came to power by having King Shallum assassinated (2 Kings 15:17-22).
  • King Pekahiah (r. 737-735 B.C.E.), succeeded his father, King Menahem (2 Kings 15:23-26).
  • King Pekah (r. 735-732 B.C.E.) came to power by having King Pekahiah assassinated (2 Kings 15:27-31).
  • King Hoshea (r. 732-722 B.C.E.) came to power by having King Pekah assassinated.  Assyrian King Sargon II (r. 722-705) finished what Shalmaneser V (r. 727-722) had started; Sargon II terminated Hoshea’s reign and the existence of the (northern) Kingdom of Israel (2 Kings 17:1-23).

A note in The New Interpreter’s Study Bible (2003) suggests:

Because Hosea condemned the house of Jehu, it may be that he fled Israel prior to the revolt [of 747 B.C.E.], continuing to speak from Judah.

That is possible.

God, speaking through Hosea, repeatedly warned the people of the (northern) Kingdom of Israel of the terrors they were about to experience and urged them to restore their covenant relationship with God.  They did not renew that covenant relationship, to their detriment.  Perhaps subsequent editors of the original text of the Book of Hosea amplified these themes, with the benefit of hindsight.  But these editors did not invent them.

Repurposing and revising texts was sufficiently commonplace in Biblical times that finding evidence of it had ceased to surprise me.  For example, some of the Psalms originated at one place and in one period yet went through stages of revision, to fit different contexts.

Dr. Yee’s final point provides my jumping-off point for my conclusion for this post:

…[God’s word] continues to address us today.

Here, “God’s word” refers to what God has said and says.  God’s word is as current today as it was last year, a decade ago, a century ago, a thousand years ago, and in antiquity.  God’s word, although ancient, remains fresh.  Are we paying attention?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 12, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT GERMANUS I CONSTANTINOPLE, PATRIARCH OF CONSTANTINOPLE; AND DEFENDER OF ICONS

THE FEAST OF SAINT GREGORY OF OSTIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT, CARDINAL, AND LEGATE; AND SAINT DOMINIC OF THE CAUSEWAY, ROMAN CATHOLIC HERMIT

THE FEAST OF PAUL MAZAKUTE, FIRST SIOUX EPISCOPAL PRIEST

THE FEAST OF ROGER SCHÜTZ, FOUNDER OF THE TAIZÉ COMMUNITY

THE FEAST OF SYLVESTER II, BISHOP OF ROME

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Idolatry, Part IV   1 comment

Above:  Hosea

Image in the Public Domain

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The Collect:

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

Hosea 1:1-11 (Protestant and Anglican)/Hosea 1:1-2:2 (Jewish, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox)

Psalm 25

Colossians 1:1-14

John 12:20-36

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The word of the LORD that came to Hosea son of Beeri in the days of Uzziah, Ahaz, Hezekiah, kings of Judah and in the days of Jeroboam son of Joash king of Israel.

–Hosea 1:1, Robert Alter, The Hebrew Bible (2019)

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The reading from Hosea provides a timeframe.  Dates of reigns are approximate, on the B.C.E.-C.E. scale, due to the use of relative dating in antiquity.  Furthermore, if one consults three sources, one may find three different sets of dates for the reigns of the listed monarchs.  With that caveat, I cite The Jewish Study Bible to tell you, O reader, the following regnal spans:

  • Azariah (Uzziah) of Judah:  785-733 B.C.E.
  • Jotham of Judah:  759-743 B.C.E.
  • Ahaz of Judah:  743-735-727/715 B.C.E.
  • Hezekiah of Judah:  727/715-698-687 B.C.E.
  • Jeroboam II of Israel:  788-747 B.C.E.
  • Fall of Samaria:  722 B.C.E.

The chronological problem is obvious:  Kings Ahaz and Hezekiah of Judah do not belong in Hosea 1:1.  However, one may know that the decline of the northern Kingdom of Israel followed the death of King Jeroboam II, just as the decline of the southern Kingdom of Judah began during the reign of King Hezekiah.  The beginning of a kingdom’s decline informs the reading of Hosea, set in the northern Kingdom of Israel.  One may reasonably conclude that the lessons of this book were also for subjects in the Kingdom of Judah.

Divine judgment is a prominent theme in this reading from Hosea.  Divine forgiveness will come up in Chapter 2.  For now, however, the emphasis is on judgment.  In that context, one reads that idolatry is a form of spiritual adultery and prostitution.

All the LORD’s paths are mercy and forgiveness,

for those who keep his covenant and commands.

–Psalm 25:10, The Revised New Jerusalem Bible (2019)

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Whoever serves me, must follow me,

and my servant will be with me wherever I am.

–John 12:26a, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

The invitation in Lent is to walk out of the darkness and into the light.  The invitation is not to let the darkness overtake one.  The invitation is to follow Jesus in the shadow of the cross.

The most enticing form of idolatry may not involve statues or anything else tangible.  No, the most enticing form of idolatry may be the temptation to think of God as being manageable.  God is not manageable.  God is not domesticated.  And God is not a vending machine.  God judges.  God shows mercy.  God forgives the sins of the penitent.  And God deserves more love than anyone and anything else in our lives.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 6, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE EPIPHANY OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST

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Adapted from this post:

https://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2021/01/06/devotion-for-the-first-sunday-in-lent-year-d-humes/

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Mutuality in God V   1 comment

Above:  Icon of Amos

Image in the Public Domain

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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Amos 3:1-8 or Proverbs 1:1-19

Psalm 115:1-11

1 Timothy 1:1-2, 12-17

John 1:35-42

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The Humes lectionary provides two options for the First Reading.  I will write about both of them.

Amos 3:1-8 includes a variation on the old saying that great responsibility accompanies great privilege.  Grace is free, not cheap.  One can never purchase it, but accepting it entails taking on duties.  To tie Proverbs 1:1-19 into that principle, one has a duty to show love for God by doing love to one’s fellow human beings.  Elsewhere in Amos, we read of greedy, exploitative people, as we do in Proverbs 1:8-19.

These men lie in wait for their own blood,

they set a trap for their own lives.

This is the fate of everyone greedy of loot:

unlawful gain takes away the life of him who acquires it.

–Proverbs 1:18-19, The New American Bible (1991)

Whatever we do to others, we do also to ourselves.

The audience in Amos 3 is collective; it is the people of Israel.  To be precise, it is the people of Israel during the reigns of King Azariah (Uzziah) of Judah (785-733 B.C.E.) and King Jeroboam II of Israel (788-747 B.C.E.).  The  Deuteronomic theology of the Book of Amos teaches that actions have consequences.  Obey the Law of Moses, please God, and reap the benefits.  Alternatively, disobey the Law of Moses, displease God, and reap the negative consequences.  Many of those commandments pertain to social justice, especially economic justice.

Our Western culture, with its pervasive individualism, easily overlooks collective responsibility.  Politically, the Right Wing emphasizes individual responsibility.  Meanwhile, the Left Wing stresses collective responsibility.  Both sides err in so far as they give short shrift to or ignore either type of responsibility.  Just as divine judgment and mercy exist in balance, so do individual and collective responsibility.  Mutuality holds them in balance.

Psalm 115 condemns idolatry.  The real idols are ideas, not objects.  A statue of a god, for example, can be a work of art to display in a museum.  Idolatry is about misplaced, disordered love, to go Augustinian on you, O reader.  In the case of the greedy people in Proverbs 1, their idol was attachment to wealth.

The reading from 1 Timothy 1 reminds us that God embraces repentance.  Remorse is an emotion that enables repentance, a series of actions.

Regardless of who wrote or dictated the First Letter to Timothy (probably not St. Paul the Apostle), St. Paul seemed unlikely to have become what he became in God.  Saul of Tarsus certainly did not expect it.  And, to turn to John 1:35-42, calling St. Simon “Peter,” or “Rock,” may have seemed ironic at first.  But Jesus recognized potential in him.  St. Simon Peter eventually grew into that potential.  St. Paul the Apostle grew into his potential, as well.

If we are to grew into our potential individually, we need the help of God and other people.  St. Paul had Ananias.  St. Simon Peter had Jesus.  Who do you have, O reader?

Likewise, if we are to grow into our potential collectively, we need the help of God and other groups of people.  We live in a web of mutuality.  We know this, do we not?  Globalization, at least, should have taught us that the communities and nation-states can affect the fates of our communities and nation-states.  

Will we work for the common good?  Or will we persist in delusions of amoral rugged individualism and isolationism?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 28, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FOURTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN THE EVANGELIST (TRANSFERRED)

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Adapted from this post:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2020/12/28/devotion-for-the-second-sunday-after-the-epiphany-year-d-humes/

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The Reigns of Kings Jeroboam II, Zechariah, and Shallum of Israel   7 comments

Above:  King Jeroboam II 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 XCVI

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2 Kings 14:23-29; 15:8-16

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Do not invite death by the error of your life,

nor bring on destruction by the works of your hands;

because God did not make death,

and he does not delight in the death of the living.

For he created all things that they might exist,

and the creatures of the world ware wholesome,

and there is no destructive poison in them;

and the dominion of Hades is not on earth.

For righteousness is immortal.

But ungodly men by their words and deeds summoned death;

considering him a friend, they pined away,

and they made a covenant with him,

because they are fit to belong to his party.

–Wisdom of Solomon 1:12-16, Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition (2002)

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King Amaziah of Judah (Reigned 798-769 B.C.E.)

King Jeroboam II of Israel (Reigned 788-747 B.C.E.)

King Azariah/Uzziah of Judah (Reigned 785-733 B.C.E.)

King Zechariah of Israel (Reigned 747 B.C.E.)

King Shallum of Israel (Reigned 747 B.C.E.)

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The Kingdom of Israel seemed to be doing well during the reign of King Jeroboam II.  The military was strong, the borders were secure, Assyria was not yet the threat it went on to become. The Kingdom of Israel was prosperous, but the uneven distribution of wealth meant that the relative few rich people owed their money and status to the exploitation of the impoverished masses.  The devastating and timeless prophecies of Amos came from this time.

A quarter of a century after King Jeroboam II died, the Assyrians conquered Israel.

King Jeroboam II was the fourth of five monarchs of the House of Jehu.  The fifth monarch, King Zechariah, reigned for about half a year before he died in a coup d’état.  The next King of Israel, Shallum, reigned for about a month before he died in another coup d’êtat.

The accounts in 2 Kings 14 and 15 are brief.  I suspect that the author chose not to dwell on these three kings.  

For a fuller flavor of the time of Jeroboam II, read the Book of Amos.  Its moral standards should alarm many people around the world today.  After all, human nature is a constant.  So is God.  

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 6, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN GREGOR, FATHER OF MORAVIAN CHURCH MUSIC

THE FEAST OF GIOVANNI GABRIELI AND HANS LEO HASSLER, COMPOSERS AND ORGANISTS; AND CLAUDIO MONTEVERDI AND HEINRICH SCHÜTZ, COMPOSERS AND MUSICIANS

THE FEAST OF HALFORD E. LUCCOCK, U.S. METHODIST MINISTER AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF SAINT MAGDELEINE OF JESUS, FOUNDRESS OF THE LITTLE SISTERS OF JESUS

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The Reign of King Azariah/Uzziah of Judah   9 comments

Above:  King Azariah/Uzziah 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 XCV

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2 Kings 15:1-7

2 Chronicles 26:1-23

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Love righteousness, you rulers of the earth.

think of the Lord with uprightness,

and seek him with sincerity of heart;

because he is found by those who do not put him to the test,

and manifests himself to those who do not distrust him.

For perverse thoughts separate men from God,

and when his power is tested, it convicts the foolish;

because wisdom will not enter a deceitful soul,

nor dwell in a body enslaved to sin.

For a holy and disciplined spirit will flee from deceit,

and will rise and depart from foolish thoughts,

and will be ashamed at the approach of unrighteousness.

–Wisdom of Solomon 1:1-5, Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition (2002)

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King Amaziah of Judah (Reigned 798-769 B.C.E.)

King Azariah/Uzziah of Judah (Reigned 785-733 B.C.E.)

King Jotham of Judah (Reigned 759-743 B.C.E.)

King Jeroboam II of Israel (Reigned 788-747 B.C.E.)

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Again, the account in 2 Chronicles expands on its source material in 2 Kings.  This elaboration creates a different impression regarding the cause of the monarchs’ skin disease (“leprosy”–not what most of us think of when we hear that word) than 2 Kings 15 does.

Anyway, the skin disease made King Azariah/Uzziah ritually impure, thereby excluding him from the Temple and isolating him.  His son Jotham served as the regent.

The primary theme regarding King Azariah/Uzziah is hubris.  Strength leads to pride.  The lack of repentance for pride leads to punishment.  Willful disobedience has terrible consequences.  

The scene of the monarch’s hubris, impenitence, and willful disobedience may seem odd to many.  Perhaps one recalls that King Solomon burned incense in a priestly manner in 1 Kings 9:25.  The Chronicler’s perspective, informed by postexilic standards that only Aaronic priests may burn incense at the Temple, may be anachronistic.

Nevertheless, the example of King Azariah/Uzziah should serve as a reminder not to rest on one’s spiritual laurels.  If we think we are spiritual insiders, we may set ourselves up for the fall that comes after pride goes.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 5, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ARTHUR AND LEWIS TAPPAN, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST BUSINESSMEN AND ABOLITIONISTS; COLLEAGUES AND FINANCIAL BACKERS OF SAMUEL ELI CORNISH AND THEODOER S. WRIGHT, AFRICAN-AMERICAN MINISTERS AND ABOLITIONISTS

THE FEAST OF BERNARD LICHTENBERG, GERMAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1943

THE FEAST OF SAINT HRYHORII LAKOTA, UKRAINIAN GREEK CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1950

THE FEAST OF JOHANN DANIEL GRIMM, GERMAN MORAVIAN MUSICIAN

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