Reflections for 10/9: DtrH, Prophets, and Salvation from the Exile

I. According to Walsh’s view of the covenant disobedience to it results in curses which “describe … sober political reality” (125). Infidelity to Yhvh involves getting mixed up with other nations or “playing the Great Powers game” which is dangerous because it brings threats to Israel’s existence. This seems inconsistent with blaming Manasseh for the exile for his specific sins since 2 Kings 21 does not detail any foreign entanglements only inappropriate rituals.  The debates over whether exile was deserved may explain why DtrH2 blames Manasseh because the political explanation might not have seemed entirely adequate so a specific person needed to be blamed.

Walsh’s explanation of Deuteronomy and DtrH shows us the way in which Judeans might have thought of themselves as in a literal political relationship wigh God.  However, post-exile this relationship would have been unclear (consider for example the debate over where God’s presence was) since without a state a political relationship makes less sense.  This might actually account for some features of the Pentateuch.  Deuteronomy’s political explanation was now unclear so certain elements of Babylonian society where turned against them (for instance the creation stories, the flood story, and the tower of Babel) in order to assert that God is the true master over the universe.  This would have been an act of reestablishing Yhvh’s sovereignty even without a Jewish state.

II. Heschel sees profits as highly emotional people who are concerned with human affairs rather than profound theological or philosophical questions. Being concerned with human affairs does not mean that they are worldly or don’t care about God. Instead because of their passion for God they see human affairs as incredibly important.  When injustice occurs the prophets condemn it without reservation because injustice is a slight against God.  So prophets sympathize with the oppressed in one sense, with God in another, and with all of the people because all people can be affected by God’s wrath in response to injustice.

The prophets who have books named after them fall more into this category than the prophets in the DtrH. Those prophets are part of institutions and are concerned with maintaining their role in their office.  This is part of the reason why Amos denies being a prophet.  He is impassioned because of his concern with God and the sins of the people.  He is not afraid to insult kings to make his point and is not trying to seek wealth for himself like some institutional prophets.

III.

1. Isaiah 40:1-2 seems to indicate that God regrets over-punishing the people and is about to restore them from exile. The rest of “Second Isaiah” therefore seems like it will be predictions of the fall of Babylon and the salvation of the people.  The call of this prophet is like that of Samuel (1Samuel 3) where God calls to him and Samuel asks what God wants him to do.  It is less similar to Isaiah 6 but still follows the sort of pattern where God “calls” for someone to deliver his message and the prophet responds.

The “word of our God” that stands forever is probably the promise of God to Abraham. It will last forever despite the human failings leading to the exile.  The good news is that God’s power is coming, presumably to strike a blow of revenge against the Babylonians.

These all serve to signify a repetition of the larger pattern of  Israel’s history.  God has realized the people have suffered double what they were supposed to, remembers the promise to Abraham, calls a prophet to act as a leader or intermediary between Himself and the people (though not a military leader in this context) and will deliver them (this time straight through the wilderness with no adversity unlike what happened in Exodus).

2. God intends on ending the exile and it is going to be far grander than the Exodus. Isaiah 43:1 references the creation of the people through Jacob reminding the people that they are specially created by God through His promise. In Isaiah 43:16-17 God recalls the way the waters of the “Red Sea” (perhaps another body of water) were split and the Egyptian army destroyed.  This may serve as reassurance that despite Babylon’s military strength they can be defeated by God.

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One thought on “Reflections for 10/9: DtrH, Prophets, and Salvation from the Exile

  1. Great post! My only question is whether the word of God that stands forever is the Abrahamic covenant or perhaps one of the later covenants? The idea of standing forever may better refer to the unconditional promise of love that God gives in the Davidic covenant. Can a similar case be made for the Abrahamic covenant?

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