Reflections for 10-2: Fall and Exile

I.
A) Isaiah sees God in the temple above the Ark of the Covenant. This is the seat of the presence of God and therefore Isaiah is greatly honored to be in God’s presence. He directly sees God something which few others can claim (Moses being the main exception). The call of Isaiah is also similar to what happens to Samuel where God asks for a servant and Samuel answers affirmatively.  In 6:10 it is clear that the people will not “understand” or “perceive” the message of Isaiah.

B) Isaiah’s sons are Shear-jashhub (a remnant will return), Emmanuel (with us is God), and Maher-shalal-hash-baz (quick spoils, speedy plunder). Shear-jashub and Maher-shalal-hash-baz’s names symbolize the coming calamities for Aram and Israel while Emmanuel is a sign of God’s continued support for the House of David.  Ahaz is facing the destruction of his kingdom and will be tempted to join with his neighbors to defend himself but God reassures him through the sign Emmanuel that the House of David will survive.  This is expressed in the oracle in Chapter 8 where Isaiah calls upon Ahaz to conspire with the Lord (8:13). Haz should not conspire with Assyria nor should he submit to Syria and Israel but should align himself with the Lord.  Isaiah’s advice is clearly more theological because in the face of practical problems faith in God is a theological response not the more apparent pragmatic solution (which is not to say it is the wrong choice).  Aligning with Assyria makes geopolitical sense because it would appear that Assyria will inevitably gain hegemony and it is better to be a vassal than to be completely wiped out.

C) Isaiah’s call and role in the crisis makes it seem like prophets are meant to serve as political advisors to kings to help them determine the best policy. Prophecy, therefore, is simply a manner of divining the best course of action. However, Isaiah gives counter-intuitive advice which may mark him as a legitimate prophet as opposed to a mere advisor.

II.

A)Deuteronomy 17 and 18 explain the roles of the prophets and the king and explains that the king must humble himself before the law and be an executor of it and the prophets must commune with God.  Huldah states that God is angry about the disruption of the covenant which recalls the sections of curses in Deuteronomy 28.  For these reasons the king should believe this new law and restore the order.  In addition, the way Josiah reads the law aloud recalls Deuteronomy 31:11 where Moses instructs the reading of Deuteronomy aloud during the feast of booths.  The removal of Non-Yahwistic elements from Israel clearly recalls the first of the ten commandments (Deuteronomy 5:6-10) as does the destruction of the shrine at Beth-El. Josiah’s Passover recalls Deuteronomy 16:1-8 where the Passover ritual is prescribed.

B) Josiah’s behavior fulfills the prophecy made by the unnamed man of God in 1 Kings 13:1-3. Josiah undoes the sins of Jeroboam just as predicted which confirms that the man was a true prophet (since according to Deuteronomy 18 you can tell a true prophet by seeing if what they say comes true). This represents the reversal of the secession from the House of David and the restoration of the House of David’s preeminence since Josiah obeys God while Jeroboam did not. In this sense the House of David is necessary to fulfill and restore the lost covenant.

C)Josiah certainly seems like a reformer and defender of the covenant because all of his actions are done to restore the relationship between the people and God.  Certain things came between God and the people and the people were even divided but under Josiah this is largely repaired and he seems to be acting genuinely.  His death in some sense is necessary as part of the punishment for past sins but it also keeps the loyal Josiah from having to see that fall of his kingdom because of the sins in the past just as he is promised in 2 Kings 22:20.  This seems consistent with the model of prophecy since he dies before he can see the fall and exile thus confirming the status of prophecy.

III.

A) At Shiloh God punished the people by allowing the Philistines to take control of the area and to take the Ark. This is not disrespectful as Jeremiah is making that point that God’s presence alone is not sufficient to protect anyone if they are disobedient to him. This is just reasserting the idea of the covenant that disobedience brings disaster. The argument he is refuting seems to be that the temple will save Judah in a war because God would not allow the city of Jerusalem to be defeated.  The political patronage of the princes seems to initially save Jeremiah and when a debate ensues it is then that the argument about Micah becomes relevant.  Jeremiah probably wouldn’t have gotten the chance to be defended with the Micah argument if he did not have political support.

C) It seems as though originally the DtrH would have ended at s Kings 23:30. This is the end of the last very detailed accounts of a reign and given the important events after Josiah’s reign it seems like they should be presented in more detail unless they are added as a post-script. Moreover, ending with Josiah ends on a positive note and seems to complete the cycle of apostasy which has extended throughout the DtrH with an obedient king.

2 Kings 22-24 and 2 Kings 17 both blame the falls and exiles of the kingdoms on evil and disobedience against God, however 2 Kings 22-24 seems to place more personal blame on the kings who were in power when bad things happened.  It seems like the more general explanation is more satisfying theologically because it is consistent with a range or prophecies and seems like a general punishment should go with a general crime, however the personal explanations make sense politically because inept rulers would be more likely to harm their kingdoms. The elevation of Jehoiachin seems to symbolize the possibility that the exile is only a temporary event and that the Israelites will nto have to suffer permanently for it (thus providing a theological purpose –that God will not punish this people forever—and a literary purpose—foreshadowing).

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