Saturday, March 17, 2007

1200BC to 100BC: The Old Testament (continued)

Obadiah. Foretells destruction of Edom, enemy of Israel; prophesies deliverance of Israel.

Jonah. Disobeys Jehovah’s command to preach in Nineveh. Takes ship in opposite direction. God sends tempest. Sailors throw Jonah into the sea. Swallowed by whale. Vomited on land. Told to go to Nineveh again and this time he goes.

Micah. Predicts fall of Israel and Judah, but sees hope of redemption in Messiah.

Nahum. Short, poetic book. Prophesies bloody destruction of Nineveh in graphic detail.

Habakkuk. Questions actions of a god who uses wicked enemy to punish sinful people. Foresees final triumph over evil by forces of righteousness and faith.

Zephaniah. Before Babylonian captivity. Apocalyptic vision: warns of Day of Judgment. Exhortation to repent; prophesies restoration of Israel.

Haggai. After Israelites returned to Jerusalem from Babylonian captivity. Rebukes people for not rebuilding Temple. Encourages them to begin.

Zechariah. Time of restoration of Temple, 430 BC. Contains same message as Haggai. Part 2 after death of Alexander the Great. Visions of Israel’s future, the Messiah.

Malachi. Last book of the Old Testament. After rededication of Temple in Jerusalem, 516 BC. Economic hardships of people and moral laxness. Criticizes priesthood. Reproves people for general indifference, apathy and for adultery and marriage to heathens. Foretells Judgment Day.

The Apocrypha
Ezdra I. Ezra. Last days of Judean kingdom, fall of Jerusalem, Babylonian exile. Reorganization of Jewish state under Ezra. No mention of Nehemiah.

Ezdra II. Comparable to Daniel and Revelations and other apocalypses. Fantastic imagery; dominant concern with human suffering. Anguished contemplation of disaster that had already run its course?

Tobit. Afflictions of pious Israelite. Adventures of dutiful son who makes journey in company of disguised angel and returns with bride and means to restore his father’s health and wealth. Portrayal of ancient Jewish family life. Religious teachings characteristic of stage in development of post-exilic Judaism.

Judith. Judith slays Holofernes, leader of opposing army. Gets him drunk, cuts off his head, leaves enemy camp with his head in a bag. With leader dead, enemy scatters in disarray. Like Esther, glory in ruthless destruction of an enemy accomplished by a beautiful woman. Excellent example of an ancient short story.

Esther, Additions. Six passages not found in Hebrew text. Purpose: add details and add religious element lacking in original. Not very successful; still vindictive and does not raise religious tone of story.

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