Sie sind auf Seite 1von 257

Old Testament Survey

An Independent-Study Textbook

Developed by
Global University Faculty and Staff

Second Edition

Berean School of the Bible,


a Global University School

1211 South Glenstone Avenue


Springfield, MO 65804 USA

1-800-443-1083
Fax: (417) 862-0863
E-mail: berean@globaluniversity.edu
Web: www.globaluniversity.edu
Contributing Content Specialists
John Wesley Adams
Bethany Nazarene College (now known as Southern Nazarene University), BA, MA
Nazarene Theological Seminary, BD, MDiv
Baylor University, PhD

James Book
Northwest College, BA
Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, MA, MDiv
Covenant Theological Seminary, DMin

Roger Douglas Cotton


Central Bible College (now merged with Evangel University), BA
Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, MDiv
Concordia Seminary, STM, ThD

Donald Johns
Central Bible College (now merged with Evangel University), BA
Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, MA
Saint Louis University, PhD

Quentin McGhee
Oral Roberts University, BS, DMin
Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, MDiv

The term Palestine is used throughout this course to identify the geographic region generally located between the Sea of
Galilee and the Negev desert and west of the Jordan River. Although this term is not an official political label for this area either
now or during the first century AD, it is a convenient way to reference a geographic area that is very difficult to name due to its
tumultuous political, ethnic, and religious history. This descriptive term has been used since the fifth century BC, even though
it was not officially applied as a political designation until the second century AD. It is used for convenience because of its
general recognition and does not intend any historical, political, or ethnic implications.

Global University
Springfield, Missouri, USA

© 2006, 2010 Global University


All rights reserved. First edition 2006
Second edition 2010

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture is taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®.
Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of
International Bible Society.

PN 02.15.02

ISBN 978-0-7617-1466-8

Printed in the United States of America by Gospel Publishing House, Springfield, Missouri
Table of Contents
Enrollment Information for Berean Courses.............................................................................7
How to Use Berean Courses.....................................................................................................8
Old Testament Survey.............................................................................................................12

UNIT 1 The Law


Chapter 1 Treasures from the Old Testament..............................................16
Lesson 1.1 The Old Testament
Lesson 1.2 The Beginnings (Genesis 1–11)

Chapter 2 The Patriarchs (Genesis 12–50)...................................................30


Lesson 2.1 Abraham (Genesis 12:1–25:11)
Lesson 2.2 Isaac (Genesis 24:1–28:9)
Lesson 2.3 Jacob (Genesis 25:19–35:27)
Lesson 2.4 Joseph (Genesis 37–50)

Chapter 3 Israel’s Early Years


(Exodus–Deuteronomy)................................................................44
Lesson 3.1 Exodus: Escape from Egypt
Lesson 3.2 Leviticus: Prescription for Living
Lesson 3.3 Numbers: Prescription for Traveling
Lesson 3.4 Deuteronomy: Centrality of the Covenant

UNIT 2 The Historical Books


Chapter 4 Conquest and Life in Canaan
(Joshua–1 Samuel)........................................................................62
Lesson 4.1 Joshua: Conquering Canaan
Lesson 4.2 Judges: Settling Canaan
Lesson 4.3 Ruth: Providential Grace
Lesson 4.4 1 Samuel: Kingdom Beginnings

Chapter 5 The Israelite Empire (2 Samuel,


1 and 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles,
2 Chronicles 1–9)...........................................................................78
Lesson 5.1 David’s Reign (2 Samuel, 1 Chronicles)
Lesson 5.2 Solomon’s Reign (1 Kings 1–11; 2 Chronicles 1–9)
Lesson 5.3 The Northern Kingdom (1 Kings 12–2 Kings 17)
Chapter 6 The Southern Kingdom of Judah
(1 and 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles 10–36)...........................................94
Lesson 6.1 Rehoboam to Ahaz: Judah during the Divided Kingdom
(1 Kings 12–22; 2 Kings 8–16; 2 Chronicles 10–28)
Lesson 6.2 Hezekiah to Zedekiah: Judah, the Surviving Kingdom
(2 Kings 18–24; 2 Chronicles 29–36)

Chapter 7 The Postexilic Books


(Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther)...........................................................108
Lesson 7.1 Ezra: The Rebuilding of the Temple
Lesson 7.2 Nehemiah: The Rebuilding of the Walls
Lesson 7.3 Esther: The Protection of the Nation

UNIT 3 The Poetry and


Wisdom Books
Chapter 8 Humanity’s Appeals to God
(Job, Psalms)................................................................................122
Lesson 8.1 Job: Perseverance in Suffering
Lesson 8.2 Psalms: Israel’s Hymnbook and Prayer Book
Lesson 8.3 Psalms: Categories of Psalms

Chapter 9 Divine Appeals to Humanity


(Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs)....................................136
Lesson 9.1 Proverbs
Lesson 9.2 Ecclesiastes
Lesson 9.3 Song of Songs

UNIT 4 The Early Prophets


Chapter 10 Israel’s Early Prophets
(Jonah, Amos, Hosea).................................................................152
Lesson 10.1 Jonah: The Fleeing Prophet
Lesson 10.2 Amos: The Prophesying Shepherd
Lesson 10.3 Hosea: The Prophet and the Prostitute

Chapter 11 Judah’s Early Prophets


(Joel, Isaiah, Micah)...................................................................166
Lesson 11.1 Joel: The Prophet of Pentecost
Lesson 11.2 Isaiah: The Prophet of the Messiah
Lesson 11.3 Micah: The Prophet of Judgment and Mercy
UNIT 5 The Later Prophets
Chapter 12 The Preexilic Prophets
(Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Obadiah, Jeremiah)...........180
Lesson 12.1 Nahum: The Prophet of Nineveh’s Fall
Lesson 12.2 Habakkuk: The Prophet of Faith
Lesson 12.3 Zephaniah: The Prophet of the Day of the Lord
Lesson 12.4 Obadiah: The Prophet against Edom
Lesson 12.5 Jeremiah and His Lamentations:
.The Prophet of Weeping

Chapter 13 The Exilic Prophets (Ezekiel, Daniel).......................................196


Lesson 13.1 Ezekiel: The Prophet of Dramatic Acting
Lesson 13.2 Daniel: The Prophet of Divine Sovereignty

Chapter 14 The Postexilic Prophets


(Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi)....................................................208
Lesson 14.1 Haggai: The Prophet of Rebuilding the Temple
Lesson 14.2 Zechariah: The Prophet of Visionary Encouragement
Lesson 14.3 Malachi: The Prophet of Giving One’s Best

Chapter 15 The Connection


(The Old and New Testaments).................................................220
Lesson 15.1 The Discontinuity
Lesson 15.2 The Continuity
Lesson 15.3 The Relevance

Reference List.......................................................................................................................229

Essential Course Materials....................................................................................231


Service Learning Requirement Assignment and Report Form.......................................233
Unit Progress Evaluation Instructions............................................................................237
Unit Progress Evaluations...............................................................................................239
Answer Keys...................................................................................................................249
Test Yourself Quizzes..............................................................................................251
Unit Progress Evaluations........................................................................................252
Forms..............................................................................................................................253
Round-Tripper..........................................................................................................255
Request for Printed Final Examination....................................................................257
6 Old Testament Survey
Digital Course Options 7

Digital Course Options

This printed independent-study textbook (IST) represents only one of the ways you can study through
Global University’s Berean School of the Bible (BSB). Global University offers electronic delivery formats
that allow you to complete courses without using printed material.
You may choose one or more of these course delivery options with or without the printed IST.
Digital Courses
• Online Courses. Complete your entire ministry training program online with fully interactive learning
options.
You can complete your chapter reviews, unit progress evaluations, and final exam online and receive
instant results, even if you use print or other digital study versions.
• Logos Bible Software. Purchase an entire digital library of Bibles and Bible reference titles and the
Berean courses specifically created to function inside these digital library environments.
• Electronic courses. Check Global University’s website for additional electronic course versions (for
e-readers and other devices) and their availability.
Enrollment Policies and Procedures
Enrollment policies and procedures are provided in the most current Berean School of the Bible Academic
Catalog. An electronic version of the catalog is available at the Global University website.

Contact Global University for Enrollment Information


Phone: 1-800-443-1083 (9 a.m. to 6 p.m., CST, Monday–Friday)
Spanish language representatives are available to discuss enrollment in Spanish courses.
E-mail: berean@globaluniversity.edu
Web: www.globaluniversity.edu
Fax: 417-862-0863
Mail: 1211 S. Glenstone Ave., Springfi eld, MO 65804
8 Old Testament Survey

How to Use Berean Courses


Independent study is one of the most dynamic student service representatives are available to help
and rapidly growing educational methods. Although you get the most out of your Berean program.
different from traditional classroom study, the goal
General Course Design
is the same—to guide you, the student, through
a systematic program of study and help you gain • Each course is based on course objectives.
new knowledge and skills. Berean courses are • Each course is composed of several units.
independent-study courses. Some students may • Each unit is composed of several chapters.
participate in a Berean study group, where a
• Each chapter is composed of two or more lessons.
facilitator enhances the learning experience for a
group of Berean students. Other options include • Each lesson contains one or more lesson
studying the courses online and/or purchasing objectives.
digital study tools made possible through Berean’s • Each lesson objective corresponds to specific
partnership with Logos Bible Software. lesson content.
All Berean courses are printed in a Course Objectives
comprehensive independent-study textbook (IST). Course objectives represent the concepts—or
The IST is your teacher, textbook, and study knowledge areas—and perspectives the course will
guide in one package. Once you have familiarized teach you. Review these objectives before you begin
yourself with the course components, explained studying to have an idea of what to focus on as you
below, you are ready to begin studying. Whether study. The course objectives are listed on the course
you are studying for personal growth or working introduction page.
toward a diploma, the Berean faculty, advisers, and

Unit Overview
A unit overview previews each unit’s content
and outlines the unit development.
Chapter, Lesson Content, Lesson Objectives, and
Numbering System
Each chapter begins with an introduction and
outline. The outline presents the chapter’s lesson titles
and objectives. Chapters consist of short lessons to
allow you to complete one lesson at a time (at one
sitting), instead of the entire chapter at one time.
The lesson content is based on lesson objectives.
Lesson objectives present the important concepts
and perspectives to be studied in the course.
Each chapter, lesson, and objective is uniquely
numbered. This numbering system is designed to help
you relate the lesson objective to its corresponding
lesson content. Chapters are numbered consecutively throughout
the course. Lessons are numbered within each chapter with a
two-digit decimal number. For example, Lesson 2 in Chapter 3
is numbered 3.2. The first number is the chapter (3), the second
number is the lesson (2) within the chapter.
Lesson objectives are tagged with a three-digit decimal
number. For example, Chapter 1, Lesson 1, Objective 1 is
identified as Objective 1.1.1. Chapter 1, Lesson 2, Objective 3 is
Objective 1.2.3. The first number is the chapter, the second is the
lesson, and the third is the objective. The numbering system is to
assist you in identifying, locating, and organizing each chapter,
lesson, and objective.
How to Use Berean Courses 9

What to Look for in the Margins


Left margins contain numbers for units, chapters, and lessons. In
addition, margins contain two learning tools—lesson objectives with their
respective numbers and interactive questions that focus on key principles.
Read, understand, and use these two learning tools to study the lesson text.
Interactive questions relate to specific lesson content and specific lesson
objectives. Interactive questions, along with lesson objectives, will help
you learn the concepts and perspectives that are tested in exam questions.
Interactive questions are numbered consecutively within each chapter.
Once you understand what the interactive question is asking, search for the
answer as you study the lesson’s related content section. You can compare
your responses to our suggested ones at the back of each chapter.
Lesson objectives present the key concepts. These tips on using lesson
objectives will help you master the course content and be prepared for exams:
• Identify the key concept(s) and concept perspectives in the objective.
• Identify and understand what the objective is asking you to do with
the key concept(s).
• Think of the objective as an essay test question.
• Read and study the lesson content related to the objective and search
for the answer to the “essay test question”—the objective.
Lesson Titles and Subheads
Lesson titles and subheads identify and organize specific lesson content.
Key Words
Key words are presented in boldface print and defined in the glossary of
this IST; they are words that are used with a specific meaning in the lesson.
Reference Citations
Outside sources are documented using in-text citations in parentheses. These
sources are compiled in more detail in the Reference List at the end of the IST.
Test Yourself
The Test Yourself section concludes the chapter with multiple-choice
questions based on the lesson objectives, interactive questions, and their
supporting lesson content. Test Yourself answer keys are in the Essential
Course Materials at the back of this IST.
Glossary and Reference List
A glossary (which defines key words) and reference list (works cited in
each chapter) follow the last chapter of the IST.
Recommended Reading Textbook
An optional textbook is recommended for use with each course. The
textbook recommended to accompany this course is listed on the course
introduction page. Some courses may provide additional suggested reading
lists following the reference list.
Essential Course Materials in the back of this Two Requirements to Receive a Course Grade:
IST contain the following: To receive a grade for this course, you must:
• Service Learning Requirement (SLR) 1. Submit your SLR Report Form. The
Assignment and SLR Report Form instructions for the SLR assignment are in the
• Unit Progress Evaluation (UPE) Instructions Essential Course Materials at the back of this
IST. The report is required, but not graded.
and UPEs
2. You must also take a closed-book final
• Answer Keys for Test Yourself quizzes and examination. Your course grade is based on
UPEs the final exam. The Berean School of the
• Forms: Round-Tripper (as needed) and Request Bible grading scale is 90–100 percent, A;
for a Printed Final Examination (if needed) 80–89 percent, B; 70–79 percent, C; and 0–69
percent, F.
10 Old Testament Survey

Checklist of Study Methods


STUDY METHODS √ If you carefully follow the study methods listed
below, you should be able to complete this
1. Read the introduction in the Independent-
course successfully. As you complete each
Study Textbook (IST) to learn how to use the IST.
chapter, mark a √ in the column for that chapter
2. Study the Table of Contents to familiarize beside each instruction you followed. Then
yourself with the course structure and content. continue to study the remaining chapters in the
same way.
CHAPTERS 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

3. Pace yourself so you will study at least two or


three times each week. Plan carefully so you
can complete the course within the allowed
enrollment period. Complete at least one
lesson each study session.
4. Read Scripture references in more than one
translation of the Bible for better understanding.
5. Underline, mark, and write notes in your IST.
6. Use a notebook to write additional notes and
comments.
7. As you work through each chapter, make
good use of reference tools, such as a study
Bible, a comprehensive concordance, a Bible
dictionary, and an English dictionary.
8. Complete all interactive questions and learning
activities as you go.
9. In preparation for the Test Yourself, review the
objectives for each lesson in the chapter and
your notes and highlights to reinforce the key
principles learned in the chapter.
10. Discuss with others what you are learning.
11. Apply what you have learned in your spiritual
life and ministry.
UNIT EVALUATIONS
Review for each Unit Progress Evaluation by rereading the
a. lesson objectives to be sure you can achieve
what they state.
b. questions you answered incorrectly in Test
Yourself.
c. lesson material for topics you need to review.
How to Use Berean Courses 11

Student Planner and Record


This chart is for you to record your In the boxes below, record the unit number, the date you
expect to complete each chapter, the date you do complete
personal progress in this course. Be the chapter, and the date of review.
sure to keep it up to date for quick Unit Chapter Expected Actual Date
Number Number Completion Completion Reviewed
reference. Date Date
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18

UNIT EVALUATIONS Date Completed


Unit Evaluation 1
Unit Evaluation 2
Unit Evaluation 3
Unit Evaluation 4
Unit Evaluation 5
Unit Evaluation 6

WRITTEN ASSIGNMENTS & FINAL EXAM Date Completed


Service Learning Requirement (SLR) Report

Final Examination

SLR report & closed-book final exam


materials submitted (The SLR report does not
apply to the internship courses.)
12 Old Testament Survey

Old Testament Survey


Why Study the Old Testament?
The Christian Bible consists of the thirty-nine books of the Old Testament and the twenty-seven books of
the New Testament. The New Testament records the incarnation, life, and ministry of God’s Son, Jesus Christ,
and the establishment of His church. It is important for us to know and understand the message of the New
Testament. But why should Christians study the Old Testament?
The Old Testament is the most accepted religious document—more accepted than all other religious
writings combined. Jews, Muslims, and Christians all find their beginnings there. The Old Testament was
a covenant or agreement between God and Abraham’s children, the Jews, and makes up 75 percent of the
entire Bible. Because God has not changed since Old Testament days, we should study the Old Testament to
understand Him better. Furthermore, the Old Testament is the seed and plant from which the fruit of the New
Testament grew. The New Testament refers to the Old Testament more than six hundred times. Therefore, the
Old Testament provides the background we need to understand the New Testament.
The thirty-nine books of the Old Testament were written by at least thirty different authors, over a period of
about one thousand years (1400–400 BC). All of the Old Testament books are inspired by the Holy Spirit, as
God guided the authors to write what He wanted them to write. In this course, we will study the author and date
of each of these books.
Clearly, it is important for Christians to study the Old Testament. It presents a panorama of individuals who
contributed to the unfolding of Israel’s history. As we study, we learn of God’s eternal plan to establish a “new” and
better covenant that He would write on the hearts of His people. Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of that covenant.
Course Description BIB214 Old Testament Survey (5 CEUs)
A practical approach to the Old Testament, this course gives students material they can use in teaching and
preaching. It covers significant details from every book in the Old Testament in an inspirational yet informative
manner.
In addition to using your Bible, we recommend that you also use They Spoke from God: A Survey of the Old
Testament, edited by William C. Williams to enhance your learning experience.
Course Objectives
Upon completion of this course, you should be able to
1. Discuss the importance, structure, authors, and canon of the Old Testament.
2. Explain how Genesis 1–11 serves as the introduction to the Old Testament, and summarize what it says
about Creation, the Fall, the Flood, Noah and his sons, and Babel.
3. Evaluate God’s covenants with Abraham, Moses, and David, and tell how each covenant influenced the
history, religious life, and political relationships of the Jews.
4. Describe the Exodus, the Covenant, the tabernacle, the offerings, priests, laws, and feasts.
5. Summarize events that happened at Sinai, Kadesh, Moab, and Mount Nebo (Pisgah).
6. Identify characteristics and themes from the five poetic and wisdom books.
7. Comment on key leaders and prophets of each period from Abraham to Malachi.
8. Summarize and apply two cross-cultural, timeless principles from each book of the Old Testament.
Service Learning Requirement (SLR) Assignment 13

BEFORE YOU BEGIN

Successfully completing this course requires that you apply content you study
in a ministry activity. The instructions for this Service Learning Requirement
(SLR) are found in the Essential Course Materials in the back of this IST.
Please take time now to become familiar with these instructions so that you
can be planning your SLR activity throughout your study of this course.
14 Old Testament Survey
1
The Law
UNIT The Old Testament is a treasure filled with narratives about God’s creative
power and the history of the nation of Israel. Yet some believers do not fully
appreciate the value of studying the Old Testament. In part, this attitude has
developed because some teachers take Old Testament passages out of context,
ignoring valid principles of interpretation and imposing an unjustified legalism.
Other teachers have gone to the opposite extreme, claiming that the Old
Testament does not apply at all to today’s Christians. However, this view fails to
account for the New Testament’s numerous quotations from the Old Testament.
The New Testament writers obviously viewed the Old Testament as God’s Word.
In fact, without a proper understanding of the Old Testament, we cannot fully
understand and appreciate the New Testament.
Therefore, in Unit 1, we will begin to discover the Old Testament’s riches by
examining the books of the Law. These first three chapters will survey the value
of the Old Testament and the account of beginnings, the lives of the patriarchs,
and the early years of Israel’s history.
Please take time to read each book of the Old Testament as you approach the
specific lessons.

Chapter 1 Treasures from the Old Testament


Lessons
1.1 The Old Testament
1.2 The Beginnings (Genesis 1–11)

Chapter 2 The Patriarchs (Genesis 12–50)


Lessons
2.1 Abraham (Genesis 12:1–25:11)
2.2 Isaac (Genesis 24:1–28:9)
2.3 Jacob (Genesis 25:19–35:27)
2.4 Joseph (Genesis 37–50)

Chapter 3 Israel’s Early Years (Exodus–Deuteronomy)


Lessons
3.1 Exodus: Escape from Egypt
3.2 Leviticus: Prescription for Living
3.3 Numbers: Prescription for Traveling
3.4 Deuteronomy: Centrality of the Covenant
1
16 Old Testament Survey

Treasures from the Old Testament


CHAPTER
We have already mentioned the riches the Old Testament contains. Regardless
of genre—law, history, poetry, or prophecy—the books of the Old Testament
display God’s plan of redemption, preparing us for the revelation of Jesus as
Messiah and Savior.
To see the craftsmanship of this tapestry unfold, we must learn to understand
how the Old Testament is woven together. We must learn what the Old Testament
is and the role it plays in God’s plan. We must consider the people of the Old
Testament and take their lessons to heart.
In the Old Testament, God has provided a treasure trove of wisdom,
understanding, and truth. It is ours for the taking if we will truly seek it and apply
it to our hearts and lives.

Lesson 1.1 The Old Testament


Objectives
1.1.1 summarize key facts about the old Testament.
1.1.2 List the major divisions of the old Testament.

Lesson 1.2 The Beginnings (Genesis 1–11)


Objectives
1.2.1 discuss authorship issues regarding the Pentateuch.
1.2.2 evaluate three viewpoints about creation.
1.2.3 describe the Fall and the Flood.
Treasures from the Old Testament 17

1.1
The Old Testament
LESSON The Signifi cance of the Old Testament
People buy more Bibles than any other book in the world. Millions live
by its message. Bible translators have put the Scriptures into more than 2,300
languages. Over 95 percent of the world’s people have access to at least part of
1.1.1
OBJECTIVE the Bible in a language they know. As you study, remember that you are joining
summarize key facts about millions of others who love and obey God’s Word.
the old Testament. The Old Testament is accepted by more people than are all other religious
writings combined. Jews, Muslims, and Christians all find their beginnings in the
Old Testament. With this in mind, let us consider four common questions about
this first section of the Bible.
What Is the Old Testament?
1 Briefly describe the Old We refer to the first thirty-nine books of the Bible as the old Testament.
Testament. Based on a Latin word derived from Hebrew and Greek roots, the term testament
describes “a covenant, agreement, or will” (see the following table).

Roots of the Word Testament


Hebrew Greek Latin English
diatheke testamentum testament
berit
(covenant) (covenant or (covenant,
(covenant)
(2 Corinthians testament) agreement, will)
(Genesis 9:9;
3:14; Hebrews
Numbers 14:44)
8:6)

The Old Testament, then, was a covenant or agreement between God and
Israel, the children of Abraham. God promised to keep His part of the covenant
if the Israelites kept their part. He instituted a tabernacle, priests, and animal
sacrifices and gave them laws to live by. He promised to bless Israel if they
obeyed His laws.
The biblical accounts show that God’s people had a difficult time keeping
the old covenant. Yet, as we continue to study the Old Testament, we will better
understand its role in God’s plan and its significance for us today.
Who Wrote the Old Testament, and When?
The Old Testament is a part of the Bible, a term derived from Greek and
Latin words for “book.” The Bible is the book above all other books in that
it contains sixty-six books written by about forty authors over a period of
approximately 1,500–1,600 years—yet all inspired by the same Spirit. That is, all
the words of Scripture—both Old and New Testaments—were breathed by God
(2 Timothy 3:16). God guided the authors of the Old and New Testament books
to write what He wanted them to write. He carried them along by His Holy Spirit
(2 Peter 1:21). Throughout this course, we will study the authors God inspired to
write each Old Testament book as well as the approximate date of the writing.
How Did the Books of the Old Testament Get into Our Bible?
2 Explain what is meant by We refer to the books from Genesis to Malachi as the canon of the Old
the term canon. Testament. The word canon first meant “reed” but later came to mean “standard.”
Thus, the Old Testament canon is the list of books that meet the standards for
being in God’s Word. The thirty-nine books in our Old Testament are the same
books that Jesus and the Jews of His day accepted as God’s Word.
18 Old Testament Survey

The Catholic Bible and some Eastern Orthodox Bibles also contain books
that are grouped in a class called the Apocrypha. The word Apocrypha first meant
“hidden books” but later came to mean “not in the canon or list.” During the time
of Martin Luther, the Catholics accepted seven apocryphal books as well as minor
additions to the books of Esther and Daniel (Harris 1969, 180). The Catholics did
not officially accept the books of the Apocrypha until 1546 at the Council of Trent.

Books of the Apocrypha Related to the Old Testament


1 Esdras (also known as 3 Esdras and Baruch
Greek Ezra) Letter of Jeremiah
2 Esdras (also known as 4 Esdras and Prayer of Azariah and
the Apocalypse of Ezra) Song of the Three Young Men
Tobit Susanna
Judith Bel and the Dragon
Additions to Esther Prayer of Manasseh
Wisdom of Solomon 1 Maccabees
Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 2 Maccabees

Jerome’s list of books in the Apocrypha


(New English Bible with Apocrypha 1976, iii)

Although some of these books were included in the Septuagint (the Greek
translation of the Hebrew Scriptures), they were not part of the Hebrew
Scriptures during Christ’s time. Neither Jesus nor the apostles quoted any of the
apocryphal books as Scripture (Harris 1969, 182–183). While the books in the
Apocrypha contain some truth, they also contain error. Therefore, they do not
meet the standards set for recognizing Scripture.
Why Should We Study the Old Testament?
3 Why is it important to We should study the Old Testament for at least three reasons. First, the Old
study the Old Testament? Testament comprises 75 percent of the entire Bible. To ignore it would be to miss
a large portion of God-inspired Scripture! All of God’s Word “is a lamp to our feet
and a light for our path” (Psalm 119:105). All of God’s Word is precious to us.
Second, God has not changed since Old Testament days. Some people see
God as a God of anger and judgment in the Old Testament and a God of love in
the New Testament. However, the Old Testament describes the God of justice
and love (Deuteronomy 4–6; Jeremiah 9:23–24). He is the same God in both
the Old and New Testaments. He has not changed. The apostle Paul knew the
Old Testament well, and he referred to God as “the Father of compassion”
(2 Corinthians 1:3). We should therefore study the Old Testament to understand
God better.
Third, the Old Testament is the seed and plant from which the fruit of the
New Testament grew (Archer 1978, 17). As a result, the Old Testament provides
the background we need to understand the New Testament. For example, John
the Baptist called Jesus “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”
(John 1:29). We can understand the full significance of the term Lamb of God as
we read the Old Testament and its descriptions of the animal sacrifices.
Think of all the Old Testament people mentioned in the New Testament.
Without the Old Testament, we would not know much about Adam, Abel, Noah,
Abraham, Moses, or others that Jesus and the apostles often referred to. The New
Testament refers to the Old Testament more than six hundred times. Thus, we
must know the Old Testament well to understand the New.
Treasures from the Old Testament 19

1.1.2 The Divisions of the Old Testament


OBJECTIVE
List the major divisions of The Jews of old, like Jews today, divided their Scriptures into three parts: the
the old Testament. Law, the Prophets, and the Writings (Schultz 2000, 2):
• The Law, also called the Pentateuch, included the five books of Moses:
Genesis through Deuteronomy.
• The Prophets included eight books divided into two parts. First were the
four books of the Former Prophets: Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel (as one
book), and 1 and 2 Kings (as one book). Then came the Latter Prophets:
Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the twelve Minor Prophets (as one book).
• The Writings included eleven books: Psalms, Job, Proverbs, Ruth, Song of
Songs, Ecclesiastes, Lamentations, Esther, Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah (as one
book) and 1 and 2 Chronicles (as one book) (Douglas 1978, 193).
4 From memory, write the Because the original Hebrew Scriptures were written on twenty-four scrolls,
five major divisions of the Old the order was not of primary importance. However, as books replaced scrolls,
Testament. the Scriptures began to be arranged in a certain order, like our modern Bibles
(Schultz 2000, 2). For our study, we will divide the books of the Old Testament
into five groups: (1) The Law (or Pentateuch), (2) History, (3) Poetry and
Wisdom, (4) Major Prophets, and (5) Minor Prophets. The books in each major
group are listed in the following chart.

The Old Testament


The Law History Poetry and Major Minor
Wisdom Prophets Prophets
Genesis Joshua Job Isaiah Hosea
Exodus Judges Psalms Jeremiah Joel
Leviticus Ruth Proverbs Lamentations Amos
Numbers 1 Samuel Ecclesiastes Ezekiel Obadiah
Deuteronomy 2 Samuel Song of Daniel Jonah
1 Kings Songs Micah
2 Kings Nahum
1 Chronicles Habakkuk
2 Chronicles Zephaniah
Ezra Haggai
Nehemiah Zechariah
Esther Malachi

1.2
The Beginnings (Genesis 1–11)
The English word genesis means “beginnings”; thus, the book of Genesis is
LESSON the book of beginnings. Its first eleven chapters describe Creation, the Fall, and
the Flood. God has chosen not to reveal every specific detail about each event to
us; rather, He has emphasized what He deems important.
As the story develops, we realize how the truths taught in Genesis are
foundational to God’s provision of redemption and a Redeemer. Genesis not
only shows humanity’s sin but also affirms God’s divine provision for salvation.
Introduced in Genesis 1–11, these truths are expanded in the abbreviated
biographies of the patriarchs in Genesis 12–50.
20 Old Testament Survey

Survey courses often call attention to highlights and do not always cover
every detail. However, the study of Genesis is exciting; the stories are interesting
and suspenseful; and the people teach us valuable lessons for living the Christian
life today. Therefore, to adequately cover the book of Genesis, we will study
Genesis 1–11 in this lesson and Genesis 12–50 in Chapter 2.

1.2.1 Authorship
OBJECTIVE
discuss authorship issues As noted in the previous lesson, the first five books of the Bible are called the
regarding the Pentateuch. Law or the Pentateuch. In Greek, pente means “five,” and teuchos means “scroll”
or “book.” Thus, Pentateuch means “five books.” It includes Genesis, Exodus,
Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.
5 Why is Moses considered Who could have written the Pentateuch? Whom did God’s Spirit inspire
to have written the Pentateuch? with the account of the beginnings of history? Genesis itself contains no explicit
reference to the author, who has chosen to remain in the background. Yet, “in
general, the Bible and all of Jewish and Christian tradition credit Moses as
the author of the Pentateuch” (Arnold 1998, 175). When we carefully read the
remaining books of the Pentateuch and study Judeo-Christian tradition, we note
important evidence for Mosaic authorship.
Internal biblical evidence points to the real possibility that Moses wrote at
least sections of the Pentateuch and perhaps the entire Pentateuch.
Moses is responsible for the pentateuchal law, which covers roughly Exodus
20–Deuteronomy 26. Thus the heart of the Pentateuch has a Mosaic self-
claim, which should not be missed. Much of this material is said to be
material that the Lord spoke to Moses (as in Exodus 25:1 and Leviticus 1:1),
or “the very words Moses spoke to all of Israel” (Deuteronomy 1:1). More
specifically, the text states that Moses actually wrote down an account of the
battle against Amalek (Exodus 17:14), the so-called Book of the Covenant
(Exodus 24:4) and at least portions of the Book of Deuteronomy (31:9; 19,
22, 24). (Arnold 1998, 175–176)
Since Moses wrote many years after the events of Genesis took place, he may
have used written materials and oral stories handed down from one generation to
the next. We believe that the Holy Spirit guided Moses to write what God wanted
to include in the Pentateuch.
A large number of Bible verses reveal that Moses wrote, spoke, or said
something (see Exodus 15:1; Deuteronomy 31:9, 22). Others mention
a “book” that has its origins with Moses (see 2 Chronicles 23:4;
Ezra 6:18). Mosaic authorship does not mean, however, that no portions
of the Pentateuch are earlier or later than the life of Moses. Nor should
his authorship be taken to mean that he used no sources compiling the
Pentateuch. In Numbers, for example, he quotes from “the Book of the
Wars of the Lord” (21:14). Like Luke would do centuries later in putting
together his gospel (1:1–4), Moses examined the materials at his disposal.
Guided by the Holy Spirit, he selected the information that was suitable.
(Williams 2003a, 64)

Outline of Genesis 1–11


Genesis 1–11 is the introduction not only of the Pentateuch but also of the
entire Old Testament. The New Testament quotes Genesis 1–11 at least sixty
times (Horton 1995, 218). These first eleven chapters of the Bible explain
Treasures from the Old Testament 21

humankind’s creation, fall, judgment, and scattering. Thus, they introduce God,
humans, and the problem of sin.
Humans were made in God’s image, but sin separated them from God. From
that point on, the Bible begins to reveal God’s solution to the problem of sin
and separation. Later in Genesis, the Lord calls Abraham to raise up a nation as
a light to bring salvation to all other nations. While we will explore this theme
of salvation and the Messiah throughout the Old Testament, it is important to
see that Genesis 1–11 introduces the background and the problem that the entire
Bible discusses (Robert Cooley interview 2003).
I. The Creation Account, 1–2
A. Summary of all creation (1:1–2:4)
B. Creation of Adam and Eve (2:4–25)
II. Humanity’s Fall and Its Results, 3–5
A. Adam and Eve’s disobedience and judgment (3)
B. Cain and the ungodly lineage (4:1–24)
C. Seth and the godly lineage (4:25–5:32)
III. The Flood: God’s Judgment, 6:1–8:17
IV. Humankind’s New Beginning, 8:18–11:32
A. God’s covenant with Noah (8:20–9:17)
B. Noah and his sons (9:18–10:32)
C. The tower of Babel (11:1–9)
D. The messianic line of Shem (11:10–32)

1.2.2 The Creation Account (Genesis 1–2)


OBJECTIVE
evaluate three viewpoints For the Israelites, the phrase in the beginning introduced a new view of
about creation. Creation. The surrounding nations taught that creation had no starting point;
they maintained that all of history was like a circle, with no beginning or end. In
contrast, the Bible reveals a linear view of creation—a beginning followed by
Days 1–6.
The story of the beginning of Creation is simple and clear. The Bible does not
try to prove that God exists. It says only that God created all things. He created
the universe and everything in it out of nothing (Romans 4:17; Hebrews 11:3).
He spoke, and Creation happened (Genesis 1:1–2).
Even without all the specific details, the story of Creation shows order and
purpose. Robert Cooley reminds us:
The biblical account of Creation is a short summary for a specific purpose.
Imagine how much God could have told us about the creation of the universe
and every living thing. But the purpose of the Genesis account of creation was
not to answer the millions of questions that science can ask. Rather, Genesis
1–2 was written for the purpose of showing humankind’s beginning in relation
to God. What the Bible says about creation is true. But it is good to realize
that Genesis was written for a theological, not a scientific purpose. (Cooley
interview 2003)
Views Concerning Creation
6 Explain three views about Cooley’s last statement is important to keep in mind as we consider different
Creation. interpretations of the biblical accounts of Creation in Genesis. Here, we present
three of the several views common among Bible scholars.
22 Old Testament Survey

The Gap Theory (1:1–31)


Supporters of the gap theory think that a time gap occurred between the
first two verses of Genesis. That is, they believe Genesis 1:1 shows God’s first
creation, which was afterward destroyed by God’s judgment. Verse 2 then
describes a dark, fallen creation many years later. Some refer to the prophecy
against “the prince of Tyre” in Ezekiel 28, linking the dark condition in Genesis
1:2 to the fall of Satan and his angels (Luke 10:18). According to the gap theory,
Genesis 1:3–31 describes how God restored creation after Satan’s fall.
The Step-by-Step View (1:1–31)
This preferred view states that Genesis 1:1–2 describes the first step God took
in creation. That is, God created the heavens and earth like a lump of clay, ready
for a potter to shape. Then, in Days 1–3, God formed the earth. In Days 4–6, He
filled the earth (Horton 1995, 226–227).

Step or Act of Creation Genesis


God created the heavens and earth, dark and empty. 1:1–2

Day 1: Light 1:3–5

Day 2: Air between heavens and earth 1:6–8

Day 3: Dry ground, plants, and trees 1:9–13

Day 4: Light-bearers (sun, moon, and stars) 1:14–19

Day 5: Fish and birds 1:20–23

Day 6: Animals and humans 1:24–31

Even within the step-by-step view, people have many different beliefs about
how long God took to complete creation. While the Bible says the work of
creation took six days, it does not explain the length of each day. As with other
Scripture passages, the word day in Genesis 1–11 may mean a long period of
time. Peter tells us that with the Lord, “a day is like a thousand years, and a
thousand years are like a day” (2 Peter 3:8). On the other hand, a day in Scripture
often refers to twenty-four hours (Genesis 8:12).
The Literary Framework View (1:1–31)
Some Bible interpreters understand the organization of the days in Genesis
1 to be topical and theological, not necessarily chronological or sequential
(Moreland and Reynolds 1999, 138). This is called the literary framework view
because of the literary structure of the biblical text. These interpreters view Days
4–6 as being parallel to Days 1–3. For example, Day 4 is parallel to Day 1 in that
both days deal with the subject of light. Days 2 and 5 are similar in that waters
and sky are the theme; yet in Day 5, the animals that inhabit these areas are also
mentioned. The third and sixth days deal with land, although the creation of
animals and humankind are mentioned in the account of the sixth day (Blocher
1984, 51).
The important thing in all of these views is that God is acknowledged as our
Creator and Provider.
The Creator and Provider
Two names for God appear in the Genesis Creation story. At first, the Hebrew
name Elohim is used to show God in His relationship to the world. The name
Elohim describes Him as the great Creator (Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2).
Treasures from the Old Testament 23

Beginning in Genesis 2:4, however, the greater name yahweh elohim (Lord
God) is used. Yahweh is the personal, revealed name that speaks of God in His
relationship to humankind. It shows Him as the One who is there, who cares and
provides for us. Thus, as God begins to form the first human being—the climax,
or highest point, of Creation—He becomes the Lord God, having a special
relationship with humanity. From Genesis 2:4 on, humankind is at the center of
God’s interests.
Creation of Humankind (2:4–25)
Most believers agree that creation changes. Bodies of water may become
smaller or disappear, or rivers may shift their course over time. Animals change
or evolve as they adapt to new conditions or areas. In this sense, then, we would
say that evolution—meaning “change”—occurs.
However, some teach evolution in a false way. This theory of evolution claims
that lower life-forms slowly changed into animals and that apes slowly evolved
and became humans.
In contrast, the Bible teaches that God himself created Adam and made
humanity superior to animals. This is clear from several aspects:
• The Bible shows humans as intelligent and responsible. Adam was
responsible for naming the animals and ruling over them. He took care of
the Garden of Eden, and he and Eve enjoyed daily fellowship with God.
In addition, God continues to communicate and converse with humans
through language today.
• God created man and woman in His own image (Genesis 1:27), which is
reflected in many ways: (1) Humans are to be holy as God is holy
(1 Peter 1:15–16). Nowhere are animals given this mandate. (2) While God
allows us to kill and eat animals, He commands us not to kill our fellow
humans. Killing a human is considered murder. (3) Animals do not have an
eternal soul or spirit and thus will not be resurrected or judged. However,
God says that each human will give an account for his or her words and
deeds (Matthew 12:36; John 5:28–29; Acts 10:42; 2 Timothy 4:1; Revelation
20:11–15).
• The animals could not give Adam love or friendship. None was a “suitable
helper” for Adam (Genesis 2:20). Therefore, God created Eve to be
Adam’s wife and helper (2:21).
• God commanded Adam and Eve to “fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over
the fish . . . and the birds . . . and over every living creature that moves
on the ground” (Genesis 1:26, 28). God himself gave humanity dominion
over all other living things.
The Fall (Genesis 3–5)
1.2.3 Two life-altering events stand out in the history of humankind: (1) humanity’s
OBJECTIVE fall in the Garden and (2) Christ’s coming to save fallen humanity. The Fall
describe the Fall and the occurred before there were written records. Therefore, we depend on God’s Word
Flood. to tell us about the creation of humans, their fall, and God’s plan to save them.
Adam and Eve (3:1–24)
7 What two major historical
events link the Old Testament The Scriptures show that the fall of humankind and its results are real. Adam and
with the New Testament? Eve were real people whose relationship to God depended on trust and obedience.
However, they chose to disobey because they doubted God’s word. They listened to
the tempter and sinned by obeying his suggestions. Because of this sin, God judged
the serpent, Satan, Eve, and Adam (Genesis 3:1–24; Romans 5:12, 15–19).
24 Old Testament Survey

8 Give an example of Yet God gave Adam and Eve mercy before judgment. How? He promised them
God’s judgment and of His that the Seed of the woman would defeat the seed of the serpent (Genesis 3:15).
mercy in the Garden. This was the first promise of the coming Messiah. Later in the Old Testament, God
would give more details about the promised Messiah (Genesis 12:1–3; Numbers
24:17–19; 2 Samuel 7; 1 Chronicles 17:11–14; Isaiah 7:14; 9:6–7).
After showing mercy by promising Adam and Eve a Savior, God showed
judgment by driving them out of the Garden. At that moment, they began to feel
the full weight of the curse that sin brought. Still, in the midst of His judgment,
God displayed His love by clothing them with animal skins.
Although God punished Adam and Eve for disobeying Him, He gave them
hope for the future. When Cain was born, Eve expressed that hope by saying,
“With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man” (Genesis 4:1). She knew
that, through the continuation of the human line, someday God’s promised
Redeemer would crush the serpent’s head (3:15). From one generation to another,
others held on to the hope of victory over sin and the serpent and thus kept the
promise of redemption alive.
Cain (4:1–24)
However, Eve’s hope of a Redeemer would not be realized in Cain, who
became the first murderer. Cain disobeyed by offering God a sacrifice that did
not please Him (Genesis 4:3–5). It is not clear whether God instructed Cain and
Abel about what type of sacrifice they should bring or why God was displeased
with Cain’s offering. Although the biblical account acknowledges sin in Cain’s
life (4:6–7), it does not specifically state what that sin is. In any case, the events
surrounding the sacrifice resulted in Cain’s anger and jealousy, which led him to
sin by murdering his brother (4:8; 1 John 3:12). God punished Cain by placing
him under a curse and condemning him to wander the earth.
9 Compare Cain’s Genesis 4:17–24 includes a summary of Cain and his family tree, which may
family record with Seth’s cover a long period of time. Some of Cain’s descendants raised flocks and herds.
descendants. In time, they developed many useful things, including musical instruments. They
learned how to forge metal such as bronze and iron into tools and weapons.
Because of their progress, the people began to feel safe. They depended on
themselves, not on God.
The Bible presents Lamech, a descendant of Cain, as a very proud man. He
was the first man we know of to reject God’s plan of monogamy (Genesis 4:19).
Also, he bragged about killing a man who hurt him. Lamech did not believe in
an eye for an eye; he believed in a life for a bruise (4:23). Lamech considered
himself ten times more valuable than Cain (4:24).
Seth (4:25–5:32)
Adam and Eve renewed their hope in God when Seth was born. Eve said,
“God has granted me another child in place of Abel, since Cain killed him”
(Genesis 4:25). Seth’s legacy turned out to be very different from Cain’s.
As we examine Seth’s lineage, it is important to understand the approach
of biblical cultures to compiling genealogies. The Hebrews used the word son
much like we use the term descendant today. It indicated any relationship to
an ancestor. Thus, a son (descendant) in the biblical text could refer to a son,
grandson, great-grandson, and so on. As a result, the biblical genealogies are
selective, not comprehensive. This allows genealogies to cover long periods of
time, highlighting only key descendants. The genealogy of Genesis 5 covers a
great deal history, yet moves the narrative ahead quickly (Arnold 1998, 58).
Treasures from the Old Testament 25

With this in mind, we note that Seth’s descendants included Enosh (his son),
Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, and Noah. Several of
those in Seth’s family line were godly men. In the days of Enosh, people “began
to call on the name of the Lord” (Genesis 4:26).
Enoch was born several centuries after Seth and Enosh. He was a godly person,
well known for his lifestyle of close fellowship with God. In the brief account of
his life, the Bible twice emphasizes that Enoch walked with God (5:22, 24). He had
such a close relationship with God that his life did not end in death. Rather, God
raptured Enoch, taking him up to heaven while he was still alive.
The godly example of Seth’s line continued in Noah’s father, Lamech (a
different Lamech than Cain’s descendant). The Scriptures record that Lamech
believed and hoped in God. When Noah was born, Lamech prophesied, “He will
comfort us in the labor and painful toil of our hands caused by the ground the Lord
has cursed” (5:29). Lamech believed God would provide a way for people to be set
free from the curse of sin that had expelled Adam and Eve from the Garden.

The Flood (Genesis 6:1–8:17)


As the early history of humanity unfolds, we see that sin and evil appear
to constantly increase. “Genesis traces mounting sin” (Arnold 1998, 57). “In
Genesis 6:1 the curtain rises on a scene of ever increasing wickedness. The reason
for the Flood is immediately clear: The wickedness of the world had become
intolerable to God” (Williams 2003b, 122). God was grieved that He had created
people, “and his heart was filled with pain” (Genesis 6:6). He planned to destroy
everyone on earth (6:17). However, in the midst of this prevalence of sin, one
individual trusted God. His name was Noah. Because of Noah’s righteousness, God
promised to make a covenant with him and his family (6:8–9, 18).
God told Noah to build an ark to protect him and his family during the
coming flood. In it, he was to house unclean animals in pairs and clean animals
in sevens. Noah obeyed and built the ark according to the dimensions God had
given. When completed, the ark was “the length of one and one-half football
fields and taller than a three story building” (Arnold 1998, 59).
Conservative Bible scholars generally agree that Noah and his family were
in the ark for just over a year. “The Flood is commonly thought of in terms of a
rain that fell forty days and nights. In reality, Noah stayed in the ark much longer.
By comparing Genesis 7:1–13 and 8:13–19 it can be determined that Noah, his
family, and the animals were in the ark more than a year” (Williams 2003b, 128).
10 What are two ways God Although the Flood was a divine act of judgment, God also used the Flood
used the Flood? to renew His covenant with humankind. We learn from this account that God
tempers His judgment with His mercy. As “Noah found grace in the eyes of the
11 Why are the Fall and Lord” (Genesis 6:8, KJV), people today can also be recipients of God’s grace.
the Flood significant Old
Testament events? A New Beginning (Genesis 8:18–11)
God’s Covenant with Noah (8:20–9:17)
God expressed His grace by giving people a brand new opportunity in the post-
Flood world. When Noah left the ark, he worshipped God with an animal sacrifice.
In response, God promised that He would never again destroy the human race and
every living creature with a flood. The sign of the rainbow sealed His promise.
However, this did not mean that sin was now totally absent. Even as Noah
presented his sacrifice after coming out of the ark, God acknowledged that “every
26 Old Testament Survey

inclination of [humanity’s] heart is evil from childhood” (8:21). The Flood did
not erase humankind’s sin nature. The sin nature would still express itself.
Noah and His Sons (9:18–10:32)
The sin nature’s continued existence is illustrated in the story of Ham, one
of Noah’s sons. Ham failed to demonstrate respect for his father when he found
Noah drunk and uncovered (9:20–22). As a result, Noah cursed Canaan, Ham’s
son, saying that Canaan’s sons would be servants of servants. Some people have
wrongly interpreted this event, attributing the slavery of African-Americans to their
descent from Canaan. Such a conclusion is wholly incorrect. The Canaanites were
not the same color as African-Americans. More importantly, the color of a person’s
skin does not matter to God. He loves everyone and shows no favoritism.
Ham was the youngest of Noah’s three sons. His older brothers were Japheth
and Shem. As noted in Genesis 10, each of Noah’s sons migrated to a different
area: Japheth toward Spain and northern Asia Minor, Ham toward Africa
(10:6–14), and Shem near the Persian Gulf (10:21–31).
The Tower of Babel (11:1–9)
After the Flood, the human race was one group that spoke only one
language. Although God had originally directed Noah’s family to “fill the earth”
(Genesis 9:1), many individuals settled on the Plain of Shinar for quite some
time (11:1–2). As their pride and arrogance in their abilities and skills grew,
they purposed to build a tower at Babel—a great tower that would reach to the
heavens. Their main motivation was “so that we may make a name for ourselves”
(11:4). However, God confused their language to hinder communication and
cooperation and to halt their plans. As a result, people finally migrated to several
different locations according to God’s original instructions.
The Messianic Line of Shem (11:10–32)
Genesis 11 ends with a synopsis of Shem’s lineage. The children of Shem
are called Shemites (Semites), from which the word Semitic is derived. The
list in Genesis 11 names ten families and ends with Terah, who moved from Ur
to Haran. Terah was Abraham’s father. Through this nation, the promise of a
Messiah would be fulfilled (Genesis 22:15–18; Matthew 1:1–2). Genesis 12–50
discusses the early patriarchs, whom we will study in the next chapter.
Treasures from the Old Testament 27

T Test Yourself
Circle the letter of the best answer.
1
CHAPTER

1. The Old Testament was a covenant or agreement 6. The idea that creation days are not necessarily
between God and chronological is a characteristic of the
a) Enoch. a) gap theory.
b) Noah. b) literary framework view.
c) the Hebrews. c) step-by-step view.
d) Israel’s surrounding nations. d) young earth view.
2. The word canon refers to the books that meet the 7. The idea that Creation consisted of sequential
standards set for divine acts is a characteristic of the
a) academic quality. a) theistic evolution view.
b) recognizing Scripture. b) step-by-step view.
c) literary excellence. c) literary framework view.
d) outstanding authorship. d) gap theory.
3. Studying the Old Testament is important because 8. The idea that a major time lapse occurred
a) it is about 50 percent of the entire Bible. between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 is a characteristic of the
b) it alone describes the reality of God’s anger. a) theistic evolution view.
c) it helps us to properly understand the New b) step-by-step view.
Testament. c) literary framework view.
d) the New Testament refers to it more than six d) gap theory.
thousand times.
9. The biblical account of the Fall reveals a
4. The major divisions of the English Old tension between
Testament are the a) husbands and wives.
a) Pentateuch, History, Poetry and Wisdom, Major b) animals and humans.
Prophets, and Minor Prophets. c) mercy and judgment.
b) Pentateuch, History, Poetry and Wisdom, d) murder and grace.
Former Prophets, and Latter Prophets.
10. Our study indicates that the Flood was primarily
c) Law, Former Prophets, Latter Prophets, and the
an act of God’s
Writings.
a) grace.
d) Law, History, Former Prophets, Latter Prophets,
b) judgment.
and the Writings.
c) promise.
5. We believe Moses wrote the Pentateuch because of d) sovereignty.
a) internal biblical evidence including a Mosaic
self-claim.
b) Jewish, Christian, and ancient Near Eastern
traditions.
c) his apparent dislike for using other sources.
d) the anonymity of the author of Genesis.
28 Old Testament Survey

Responses to Interactive Questions


Chapter 1
Some of these responses may include information that is supplemental to the IST. These questions are intended
to produce reflective thinking beyond the course content and your responses may vary from these examples.
1 Briefly describe the Old Testament.
It is the first thirty-nine books of the Bible. The word testament means “covenant, agreement, or will.”
2 Explain what is meant by the term canon.
The word canon means “standard” and has come to mean “list.” In the Old Testament, the canon is the list of
books that meet the standards for being in God’s Word.
3 Why is it important to study the Old Testament?
Among the number of reasons are the following: the Old Testament is 75 percent of the entire Bible; God has
not changed since Old Testament days, and we need to understand God better; and the Old Testament is the
seed and plant from which the fruit of the New Testament grew.
4 From memory, write the five major divisions of the Old Testament.
The Law; History; Poetry and Wisdom; Major Prophets; and Minor Prophets
5 Why is Moses considered to have written the Pentateuch?
In general, the Bible and all of Jewish and Christian tradition credit Moses as the author of the Pentateuch.
6 Explain three views about Creation.
The gap theory allows for a time gap between the first two verses of Genesis and says that God restored
creation after the fall of Satan. The step-by-step view is the preferred view. It states that Genesis 1:1–2
describes the first step God took in Creation. The literary framework view believes the organization of the days
in Genesis 1 to be topical and theological, not necessarily chronological or sequential.
7 What two major historical events link the Old Testament with the New Testament?
Humankind’s fall in the Garden and Christ’s coming to save fallen humanity
8 Give an example of God’s judgment and of His mercy in the Garden.
God punished Adam and Eve for disobeying Him by driving them out of the Garden. He showed them mercy
by promising a Savior, the hope for the future.
9 Compare Cain’s family record with Seth’s descendants.
God is not mentioned in Cain’s family tree; the people depended on themselves, not on God. Seth’s lineage
included notable, godly men.
10 What are two ways God used the Flood?
The Flood was an act of God’s divine judgment. He also used it to renew His covenant with humankind. He
expressed His grace by giving people a new opportunity in the post-Flood world.
11 Why are the Fall and the Flood significant Old Testament events?
Both events show that sin and evil existed, and because it was constantly increasing, God was sorry that He had
created people. In both events, God’s judgment was tempered by His mercy and grace.
Treasures from the Old Testament 29
2
30 Old Testament Survey

The Patriarchs (Genesis 12–50)


CHAPTER
Genealogical research has become increasingly popular in recent years:
Where did my last name come from? What were my ancestors like? Were they
committed to a particular faith tradition? What kind of past did they have? What
country did they come from? Why did they leave that country? Are people with
the same last name possibly related to me? Although the questions are endless,
numerous tools have been developed to help provide answers.
In revealing the family tree of Israel, the Bible provides a framework to help
us understand more about God and His people. Genesis 12–50 focuses on four
patriarchs or elders of the nation of Israel: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph.
What is a patriarch? The term refers to the individuals who stood at the
fountainhead of our faith: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They, their wives, and their
families were pioneers of faith who paved the way for ancient Israel. They also
have an honored position in the New Testament (Hebrews 11). The patriarchs are
the ancestors of our faith (Arnold and Beyer 1999, 90).
In the previous chapter, we found that Genesis 1–11 describes the background
of humanity and the problem of sin. People were created in God’s image to have
fellowship with Him. By Genesis 11, we see humans both separated from God
and separated geographically. However, in Genesis 12, we begin to see God’s
plan unfold to redeem and restore people.

Lesson 2.1 Abraham (Genesis 12:1–25:11)


Objectives
2.1.1 identify abraham’s character strengths and weaknesses.
2.1.2 describe God’s purpose in testing the believer.

Lesson 2.2 Isaac (Genesis 24:1–28:9)


Objective
2.2.1 compare God’s role and humanity’s role in prayer.

Lesson 2.3 Jacob (Genesis 25:19–35:27)


Objectives
2.3.1 explain why sibling rivalry was not appropriate or necessary.
2.3.2 evaluate the family characteristic of favoritism.

Lesson 2.4 Joseph (Genesis 37–50)


Objectives
2.4.1 explain how divine grace, mercy, and sovereignty function in the story
of Joseph.
2.4.2 evaluate Joseph’s actions.
2.4.3 evaluate the actions of Joseph’s brothers.
The Patriarchs (Genesis 12–50) 31

2.1
Abraham (Genesis 12:1–25:11)
Abraham is one of the greatest people in history. Judaism, Islam, and
LESSON Christianity all consider him to be the first patriarch. Christians also consider him
to be a person of great faith.
Abraham was born into a family that did not worship the true God
2.1.1 (Joshua 24:2–3). His father, Terah, may have worshipped the moon god. But in
OBJECTIVE response to God’s call, Abraham left his father in Haran:
identify abraham’s Genesis 12 begins with a man and his small family traveling west to an
character strengths and unknown land. Why? Abraham had heard God’s voice and did what God said.
weaknesses. He left his home, his extended family, and his community. He put his security
and future in God’s hands. . . . He could set out on this lifelong “camping trip,”
because “he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect
and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:8–10). (Stallman 2003, 193–194)
Before moving to Haran, Abraham’s family originally lived in Ur of the
Chaldeans, a city along the Tigris-Euphrates River Valley near the Persian Gulf.
The large area between ancient Ur and the Nile River in Egypt, now known as the
Fertile Crescent, is shaped as its name implies—like an upturned crescent moon.
While the land south of the crescent is desert, the land of the crescent itself is green
and rich. The two end points of the Fertile Crescent, Egypt and Chaldea (Babylon),
were great centers of culture, learning, and trade in the old world. Traders often
traveled with loaded camels and donkeys between Egypt and Chaldea. To do this,
they had to pass through Canaan, a region by the Mediterranean Sea later known as
Please Note: Palestine*. Thus, Canaan was an important place for trade.
*The term Palestine is used throughout
this course to identify the geographic At God’s command and promise, Abraham began his journey to this
region generally located between the unfamiliar region of Canaan (Acts 7:2–4). Abraham’s journey of faith is
Sea of Galilee and the Negev desert
and west of the Jordan River. Although described in Genesis 12–25.
this term is not an official political label
for this area either now or during the Significant Events in Abraham’s Life
first century AD, it is a convenient
way to reference a geographic area Event or Topic Genesis
that is very difficult to name due to
its tumultuous political, ethnic, and Abram’s call 12:1–9
religious history. This descriptive term
has been used since the fifth century Abram in Egypt 12:10–20
BC, even though it was not officially
applied as a political designation Abram and Lot separate 13:1–13
until the second century AD. It is
used for convenience because of Abram promised the land 13:14–18
its general recognition and does not
intend any historical, political, or ethnic Abram rescues Lot 14:1–16
implications.
Abram blessed by Melchizedek 14:17–24

God’s covenant with Abram 15:1–21

Abram, Hagar, and Ishmael 16:1–16

Abram’s name changed; given circumcision as a covenant sign 17:1–27

Abraham intercedes for Sodom 18:1–33

Sodom and Gomorrah destroyed 19:1–38

Abraham and Abimelech 20:1–18

Isaac born; Hagar and Ishmael sent away 21:1–34

Abraham’s great test 22:1–24


32 Old Testament Survey

Significant Events in Abraham’s Life (continued)


Event or Topic Genesis
Abraham buries Sarah 23:1–20

Abraham sends his servant to get a wife for Isaac 24:1–67

Abraham leaves all to Isaac; dies 25:1–11

Wealth and Customs


1 Describe Abraham’s Genesis describes Abraham as a man of great wealth. In that culture, wealth
strengths and weaknesses. involved much more than money—it included having servants and animals to
assist in travel. From the biblical text, we learn that Abraham had many servants
and camels (Genesis 12:5; 14:14; 24:10).
Deception for Protection (Genesis 12:10–20)
Abraham was also a man rich in faith, yet he was imperfect just as we are.
Famine pressured him to leave Canaan and live in Egypt. While there, his actions
revealed his spiritual weaknesses. Not only was his wife, Sarah, very beautiful;
she was also his half sister. Knowing that Pharaoh could kill him to acquire
Sarah as his own wife, Abraham told Pharaoh that Sarah was his sister. To protect
himself, Abraham refused to tell Pharaoh the whole truth.
Suddenly our hero’s actions are not very heroic, as he moves from faith to fear.
Abram fell victim to the old lie that telling a half-truth is permissible if you
can get away with it. Sarai was in truth his half-sister (read 20:12), so he could
justify his actions. But Abram meant to deceive, and using one half of the truth to
conceal the other is no less a lie! As her brother, he would be treated with respect
and honor. As her husband, he feared he would be killed. (Arnold 1998, 74)
At times, we may take an idealistic or romanticized view of biblical
personalities, emphasizing their positive characteristics and excluding the
negative. We may superimpose a degree of holiness on biblical individuals that is
close to perfection. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. The Bible paints
a realistic picture of each person, noting the positive qualities that should be
emulated and the negative ones that should be avoided.
Since the New Testament often refers to Abraham’s example of righteousness
by faith, we tend to forget that his faith was not always strong. He had many
moments of weakness, just as we do. From the episode with Pharaoh, “we learn
. . . that all is not perfect with our main character. [Abraham] has lost faith in
God’s protection, and has taken matters into his own hands” (Arnold 1998, 74).
God is always ready to enable us to overcome our weaknesses, but it must be
done in His strength and not in our own.
Question of Inheritance (Genesis 15:1–6)
Customs vary from culture to culture. Some harmonize with biblical
principles; some contradict biblical principles; and others may be considered
neutral. Common practices in Abraham’s time and location may help to explain
why he did certain things.
For example, according to one law or custom, a childless couple could adopt
one of their servants to be a son. The servant would then have all the rights of a
natural son. This practice probably explains Abraham’s quandary in Genesis 15.
He knew God had promised that he would become the father of many nations,
yet he remained childless. When Abraham spoke to the Lord about giving his
inheritance to his servant Eliezer, God renewed His promise to bless Abraham
The Patriarchs (Genesis 12–50) 33

with a son and numerous descendants (15:4–5). Then “Abram believed the Lord,
and he credited it to him as righteousness” (15:6).
More Deception for Protection (Genesis 20)
Later, however, Abraham again demonstrated spiritual weakness in the form
of deception. He apparently had not learned his lesson from the first time he lied.
This time, he lied about his wife to King Abimelech of Gerar. Despite this sin,
God again assisted Abraham and protected Sarah. God also answered Abraham’s
prayer and healed the king and his household.
A Maid as a Wife (Genesis 16; 21:1–21)
After waiting ten more years for the promised son, Sarah had an idea
that stemmed from her sinful nature rather than from God. With Abraham’s
agreement, she gave her maid, Hagar, to Abraham as a second wife—a common
practice at that time. However, conforming to custom is not an excuse for
violating God’s principles. Abraham and Sarah attempted to fulfill a divine
promise through human means. Human means are not always wrong, but we do
need to submit our plans to God and inquire of the Lord.
What really stands out in this story, however, is the way Abraham and Sarah
took matters into their own hands. The whole Book of Genesis makes it clear
that not only does God promise, he delivers. But God always reserves the right
to do things his way and in his time. God didn’t need Abraham’s clever ideas
and help any more than he needs ours today. Faith does more than believe that
God can do what He said He would. Faith trusts that God will do it and then
patiently endures to the end (Hebrews 6:12). (Stallman 2003, 199)
Ultimately, God rejected Abraham and Sarah’s plan. Hagar’s son Ishmael was
not the son God had promised. When Ishmael was thirteen and Abraham ninety-
nine, God again assured Abraham that Sarah would give birth to the true son of
promise, Isaac. Just as He sent a rainbow as the sign of His covenant with Noah,
God then established circumcision as a sign of his covenant with Abraham and
his descendants (Genesis 12:1–3; 13:14–18; 15:18–21; 17:1–27).
Soon after Isaac’s birth, serious problems developed between Sarah and her
maid Hagar. When Sarah asked Abraham to send Hagar and her son Ishmael
away, Abraham was reluctant to carry out the request. Abraham finally did send
Hagar and Ishmael away, but only after he knew this was God’s will (21:9–21).
A Site for Burial (Genesis 23)
When Sarah died, Abraham again followed the custom of his day. He asked
the Hittites to let him buy a tomb in which to bury his wife. After purchasing the
cave of Machpelah and the field around it, Abraham buried Sarah there.

Faith (Genesis 12–14)


2 What six elements make In spite of the tension between Abraham’s sin and Abraham’s faith, God still
up God’s divine promise to honored and fulfilled His divine promises to Abraham. The promises involved
Abraham? six elements:
1. I will make you into a great nation.
2. I will bless you.
3. I will make your name great.
4. You will be a blessing to others.
5. I will bless those who bless you and curse the one who curses you.
6. Through you, all the families on the earth will be blessed.
34 Old Testament Survey

Throughout history, God has fulfilled His promises to Abraham as He


continues to bless Abraham’s descendants. Jews, Muslims, and Christians all
honor the name of Abraham. Matthew’s Gospel states that Jesus—the Savior
of the world—is “the son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1). Thus, the promise that
Abraham would be a blessing to all the families of the earth was fulfilled in
Christ (Galatians 3:6–9).

Intercession (Genesis 18–19)


According to Isaiah 41:8, God considered Abraham His friend. Psalm 25:14
says, “The Lord confides in those who fear him.” We see this in God’s revelation
to Abraham of His intent to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. God’s plan shocked
Abraham because he had relatives living there, including Lot. Abraham
approached the Lord in earnest intercession, asking, “Will not the Judge of all the
earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25).
Finally, God promised Abraham that He would save Sodom and
Gomorrah if He found ten righteous people living there (18:32). God desired
to show mercy. But because He could not find even ten righteous people
there, He destroyed the cities. Still, as a kindness to Abraham, God rescued
Lot and his family (19:29).
As described in Genesis 19, many men in Sodom were homosexuals who
tried to abuse the angels God sent to destroy the city. The Bible does teach that
homosexuality is sin (Leviticus 18:22, 30; Romans 1:26–27), but it is no worse
than engaging in heterosexual forms of immorality. Ezekiel 16:49–50 indicates
that God destroyed Sodom for a multitude of sins besides homosexual
behavior, including arrogance and pride, selfishness, and lack of concern for
the poor.

2.1.2 Testing (Genesis 22)


OBJECTIVE
describe God’s purpose in Genesis—the very first book of the Bible—affirms that God tests His
testing the believer. children. Although no test or trial is pleasant in our sight, it is through such
testing that God accomplishes His purposes in our lives. After Isaac, the son
3 What was God’s purpose of promise, was born, Abraham’s faith was greatly tested when God asked him
in asking Abraham to to sacrifice Isaac on Mount Moriah. This is one of the most suspenseful and
sacrifice Isaac? shocking stories the Bible records.
In obedience, Abraham began to carry out plans that would result in the
4 Why did God later tell sacrifice of his son. As father and son made the long walk to Moriah, Isaac
Abraham not to sacrifice Isaac? asked a difficult question: Where was the sacrifice? Abraham assured Isaac
that God would provide the sacrificial lamb (22:8). Yet when they reached
the designated place, Abraham bound Isaac and put him on the altar. He
grabbed the knife, ready to sacrifice his son. Then God spoke: “Abraham!
Abraham! . . . Do not lay a hand on the boy. . . . Do not do anything to him”
(22:11–12). At that moment, Abraham saw a ram caught in the thicket. God
had indeed provided a sacrifice.
In Genesis 15, God confirmed His commitment to Abraham with a sacrifice.
Now it was Abraham’s turn to do the same. Although we read that it is only
a “test” (22:1), the idea of God commanding child sacrifice is nevertheless a
shock for us. Perhaps it was a bit less so for Abraham, who lived in a culture
where people tended to think of their children more as extensions of the parents
and less as individuals with their own rights. Child sacrifice, particularly of
the firstborn, was common. . . . Although Isaac was a son, not sheep, the Law
The Patriarchs (Genesis 12–50) 35

had not yet been given. God can rightly ask for anything He wants, but the
instruction to offer Isaac ought to astonish us, especially when we remember
two important points: Isaac was especially dear to his parents and his birth
was the result of God’s own promise. God’s demand for Isaac’s life struck at
the heart of what was important to Abraham. It involved not only his son, but
also his faith. God’s extraordinary command called for radical obedience from
Abraham. (Stallman 2003, 202)
5 What lessons can be The story of Abraham’s testing contains many lessons for us. For instance,
learned about testing in a it teaches us to maintain a faithful commitment to God even in the direst
believer’s life? circumstances, to let God be God, and to be assured that in His timing, God’s test
will be over.

2.2
Isaac (Genesis 24:1–28:9)
God’s promises were not for Abraham alone; they extended to his son Isaac
LESSON and his descendants. God reconfirmed this both to Abraham (Genesis 22:15–18)
and to Isaac (26:1–5, 24).
Abraham realized that for God to fulfill His promises, Isaac would need a
2.2.1 wife. “Clearly, not just any wife would do. First, she could not be a Canaanite.
OBJECTIVE Why not? Canaanite women had a reputation for low moral standards. The
compare God’s role and girl who would marry Isaac had to be from Abraham’s own people back in
humanity’s role in prayer. Mesopotamia” (Stallman 2003, 204).
The story of how Abraham secured a bride for Isaac not only is intriguing
but also demonstrates the interaction of humanity and God in prayer. The
biblical narrative includes several references to prayer and worship. As
Abraham’s servant stood at a spring, he prayed that the God of his master
would grant “success today” in finding a wife for Isaac (Genesis 24:12–16).
“Before he had finished praying,” Rebekah arrived at the spring to draw water
(24:15). After conversing with the “very beautiful” young lady, Abraham’s
servant worshipped God for answering his prayer. Later, the servant told
Rebekah’s family his account of how God answered prayer at the spring
(24:42–47) and how he had worshipped and praised the Lord as a result
(24:48–49). The story both demonstrates one of the many ways God leads us
and affirms God’s sovereignty.
The account of how Abraham’s servant found Rebekah and brought her to Isaac
is unusually long, but it shows us the marvelous way that God leads. Abraham
knew that God was in control and was sure that he would send an angel to
guide the process (24:7). Besides that, we learn something about Rebekah, who
is destined to be a key player in redemption’s story. Like Abraham, she was
very hospitable and generous, watering the camels and offering a place to stay.
Although she was pretty (24:16), her real attraction came from the quality of her
character (Proverbs 31:10). (Stallman 2003, 204–205)
Later, Isaac himself shows his faith in God and in prayer. When Rebekah
remained barren, Isaac prayed that God would heal her infertility. About twenty
years after they were married, “the Lord answered his prayer, and his wife
Rebekah became pregnant” (Genesis 25:21).
36 Old Testament Survey

Significant Events in Isaac’s Life


Event Genesis
Isaac marries Rebekah 24:1–67

Rebekah gives birth to Esau and Jacob 25:19–26

Esau sells his birthright to Jacob 25:27–34

God confirms His covenant to Isaac 26:1–5, 24

Isaac lies to Abimelech’s men 26:6–22

God blesses Isaac 26:23–33

Isaac favors Esau 26:34–27:4

Isaac blesses Jacob and Esau 27:5–28:9

Isaac dies 35:28–29

2.3
Jacob (Genesis 25:19–35:27)
Rebekah birthed not just one son, but twin sons: Jacob and Esau. The Bible’s
LESSON account of the lives of Jacob and Esau affirms their correct actions but does not
hide their sins and mistakes and poor attitudes. Regardless of cultural and historical
factors, it appears that fighting between brothers is normal. In this case, according
to the Scriptures, the fighting began in Rebekah’s womb (Genesis 25:22):
2.3.1
OBJECTIVE Even before birth, the twins struggled within the womb of Rebekah. She
explain why sibling rivalry inquired as to the significance and God told her that this was a sign that the two,
was not appropriate or followed in turn by their respective posterities, would struggle with each other
necessary. in years to come, with the elder being made to serve the younger. Esau was born
first, with Jacob grasping his heel. (Wood 1970, 66)
6 Describe the The sibling rivalry continued, as seen in the birthright battle that became
consequences of sibling central in the narrative shortly after the birth account. In this incident, Jacob
rivalry in this biblical account. manipulated Esau’s hunger to make the birthright his own. Later, with Rebekah’s
help, he deceived his blind father who was also in poor physical condition. Does
this sound familiar? It should, since “we’ve seen character flaws in this family
before” (Stallman 2003, 206).
2.3.2 Was this deception necessary? Of course not. In spite of commendable faith
OBJECTIVE in God, each family member committed sins while trying to help God out. Some
evaluate the family interpreters say that Isaac could have chosen to “call both his sons to receive
characteristic of favoritism. a blessing, as was customary” (Arnold 1998, 122). Instead, Isaac foolishly
summoned only his favorite son, Esau, whose “tasty food” was the kind he liked
(Genesis 27:4). Not only did sibling rivalry enter into the picture, but conflict also
arose between husband and wife, who each preferred a different child. This led to
the sin of favoritism, resulting in the family feud over the birthright.
Rebekah schemed and manipulated, and Jacob willingly participated in her
devious plan. While Jacob objected at first (27:11–12), his protests seemed to be
motivated by fear rather than genuine concern about the moral issues. Apparently
without much convincing, Jacob agreed to the deception and ended up with the
birthright. This made Esau so angry that Jacob had to flee for his life.
The Patriarchs (Genesis 12–50) 37

7 What were the four Again, the patriarchs and their families teach us valuable lessons. From their
characters in this narrative mistakes, we are reminded that God will accomplish His purposes without our
guilty of? What did it prove “help.” Life situations work out best if we refrain from attempting to assist the
about God?
Sovereign One.
Like Abraham before them, these characters were unwilling to wait on the Lord
to accomplish his will in their lives. Though ultimately God was faithful to
his Word and accomplished his purposes through them, they made their lives
difficult by pursuing their own designs. While other biblical narratives illustrate
the exemplary behavior of our great heroes of faith, this chapter depicts the
fallibility of each member of the chosen family. All four characters are guilty:
Esau in reckless marriages; Isaac in stupefied favoritism; Rebekah in calculated
brazenness; and Jacob in deceitful exploitation. Yet despite all of this, God’s
grace endures and his purpose for the chosen seed of Abraham advances.
(Arnold 1998, 123)
Ill-advised choices often result in unfortunate consequences. Jacob’s
choices led him to seek help from his uncle Laban, who had two daughters:
Leah and Rachel. Jacob loved Rachel and worked seven years for his uncle
as a bride price. However, Laban was a master at deception just as Jacob was.
Laban gave Leah, instead of Rachel, to Jacob as his bride. Only when the
deception became known did Laban explain the local custom of marrying the
older daughter before the younger. He offered to let Jacob marry Rachel one
week later, but only on the condition that he work another seven years for
Laban. Jacob agreed and ended up with two wives, bitterness toward Laban,
and favoritism toward Rachel. This led to tremendous rivalry among Jacob’s
sons. Still, through all the events of Jacob’s life, God remained faithful to His
promises of blessing.

Significant Events in Jacob’s Life


Event or Topic Genesis
Jacob’s dream at Bethel 28:10–22

Jacob’s wives, family, and wealth 29–30

Jacob parts with Laban 31:1–32:2

Jacob and Esau are reconciled 32:3–33:17

Jacob’s trouble at Shechem 33:18–34:31

Jacob worships at Bethel 35:1–15

Jacob buries Rachel at Bethlehem 35:16–20

Jacob’s sons 35:23–26

Jacob and his descendants move to Egypt 46:1–47:31

Jacob blesses his sons and grandsons, dies 48–49

Jacob’s burial in Canaan 50:1–14


38 Old Testament Survey

2.4
Joseph (Genesis 37–50)
The story of Joseph is one of the most fascinating in the Bible, occupying
LESSON fourteen chapters at the end of Genesis. People often think of Joseph as the
dreamer, the one with the coat of many colors, and the later ruler over Egypt. Yet
this story involves much more than these few observations. It is characterized
by suspense as well as the old family traits of favoritism and jealousy. The story
2.4.1
OBJECTIVE teaches important lessons about family feuds and forgiveness; temptations and
explain how divine grace, victory; and God’s sovereignty and grace in spite of difficulties, abandonment, and
mercy, and sovereignty severe trials. While no biblical personage is perfect, including Joseph, he comes the
function in the story of closest to showing some biblical qualities that believers should emulate.
Joseph.
Significant Events in Joseph’s Life
Event or Topic Genesis
Joseph hated by his brothers and sold 37:1–36

(Judah and Tamar) 38

Joseph, Potiphar’s wife, prison 39:1–23

Joseph interprets dreams; is promoted 40–41

Joseph’s brothers seek food in Egypt 42

Joseph’s brothers’ second trip to Egypt 43

Judah’s plea for Benjamin 44

Joseph and his brothers reconcile 45

Joseph reunited with Jacob 46:28–47:12

Joseph guides Egyptians through the famine 47:13–26

Joseph’s prophecy and death 50:15–26

2.4.2 Favored Son, Hated Brother (Genesis 37)


OBJECTIVE
evaluate Joseph’s actions. Do you remember the favoritism expressed by Joseph’s ancestors in the
patriarchal family? Jacob displayed the same detrimental trait when he gave
Joseph a coat of many colors, leading to jealousy among the brothers.
The text states bluntly, “Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons”
(37:3) and he apparently made no attempt to hide the favoritism. He gave
Joseph a richly ornamented robe, which may have been the type of work more
commonly reserved for royalty than for a seventeen-year-old shepherd boy. The
favoritism that had plagued the patriarchal family since the days when Isaac
and Rebekah showed unfair preferences for Jacob and Esau (25:28) obviously
continued to be the source of considerable trouble. Jealousy and sibling rivalry
continued to characterize the patriarchal story. (Arnold 1998, 216)
In this environment, Joseph dreamed some incredible dreams. Rather than
keeping the dreams to himself and pondering their possible meanings, he
unwisely shared them with his family, provoking even greater jealousy:
A bad situation is made unbearable by Joseph’s two dreams. . . . The dreams
portray a royal setting in which the entire family pays homage as subjects
to Joseph, a scene fulfilled in Egypt (42:6; 43:26; 44:14). The dreams only
intensify the hatred Joseph’s brothers feel for him. This opening paragraph of
The Patriarchs (Genesis 12–50) 39

the Joseph narrative is marked by the recurring phrase “they hated him”
(vv. 4, 5, 8). The phrase is further modified by the observation that his brothers
were unable to speak kindly to him. (Arnold 1998, 146)
2.4.3 Jealousy motivated the brothers to kill Joseph, but the oldest brother, Reuben,
OBJECTIVE talked the others into throwing Joseph into a pit instead. After selling Joseph to
evaluate the actions of a caravan of Midianite merchants, the brothers made it appear to their father that
Joseph’s brothers. Joseph had been killed.

Trusted Servant, Prisoner, and Interpreter of Dreams


(Genesis 39–41)
The Midianites took Joseph to Egypt and sold him to Potiphar, a high-
ranking official under Pharaoh. Joseph became a servant in Potiphar’s house and
performed his duties in a conscientious, commendable manner.
However, Potiphar’s wife desired young, handsome Joseph. Although she
repeatedly attempted to seduce Joseph, he consistently refused. Joseph displayed
great character in resisting temptation. Yet one day, something went terribly
wrong. Potiphar’s wife approached Joseph again, this time grabbing his cloak.
Realizing how intent she was in fulfilling her desire, Joseph knew the only way
of escape was to run. As he ran, his cloak was left in her hand, and she used
it as evidence to falsely accuse Joseph of sexual assault. Potiphar raged with
anger and placed Joseph in prison. Although Joseph again found himself in
discouraging, unfair circumstances, God’s purpose and sovereignty would be
revealed in His time.
It was precisely Joseph’s refusal to have sex with Potiphar’s wife that
eventually landed him in prison. But there he met Pharaoh’s cupbearer, who
had the connections to help Joseph. So it was faithfulness to God that resulted
not only in Joseph’s advancement in Potiphar’s house, but his disgrace and
imprisonment. Obedience to God does not always mean success as the world
defines success. Nevertheless, his faithfulness resulted in another advancement
in prison and, ultimately, vindication in Pharaoh’s court. (Arnold 1998, 151)
While Joseph was in prison, God enabled him to interpret dreams for
Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker. Although the baker was executed, the cupbearer
was reinstated to his position. After his release from prison, the cupbearer forgot
about Joseph until two years later when Pharaoh became troubled by his own
dreams. The cupbearer suggested that Joseph be brought before Pharaoh to
interpret the king’s dreams.
8 Give examples of God’s When Pharaoh recounted his dreams for Joseph, Joseph explained that God
sovereignty, grace, and mercy would send Egypt seven years of abundance followed by seven years of famine
in Joseph’s life story. (Genesis 41:14–36). He even suggested a plan to prepare for the coming events.
Recognizing that God had gifted Joseph with wisdom, Pharaoh appointed Joseph
to be a great ruler under his supervision.

Family Rescuer (Genesis 42–50)


The hand of God was clearly at work. As Pharaoh’s second in command,
Joseph was in the position to keep the Israelites alive, to help save his father, his
brothers, and their families from the effects of the famine. First, however, God
needed to reunite Joseph with his brothers.
When his brothers first journeyed to Egypt to buy grain, Joseph recognized
them, but they did not recognize him. Thus, Joseph faced a delicate dilemma.
Due to past events, Joseph knew he must verify his brothers’ trustworthiness.
40 Old Testament Survey

He wanted to ascertain that their hearts had changed. To test them, he decided
to trick them. Claiming they were spies, he allowed them to return home only if
they promised to bring their younger brother Benjamin with them the next time.
9 Compare and contrast On their second trip to Egypt, false accusation entered the story again, but
the actions of Joseph with the this time it was Joseph falsely accusing his own brother Benjamin of stealing his
actions of his brothers. cup. Unaware of Benjamin’s innocence and Joseph’s identity, Judah volunteered
to take Benjamin’s place in punishment. Judah’s impassioned plea moved Joseph
greatly. Many years later, the dreams of Joseph’s youth were being fulfilled:
His brothers were bowing to him, including Judah! Joseph could stand it no
more. The whole thing was torturing him as much as his brothers. Impressed
with this show of loyalty and moved to tears, he ordered his Egyptian servants
out of the room. Once in private, Joseph revealed his true identity to his
brothers, who must have been shocked indeed. What irony! The man who had
saved them from starvation was the brother they had tried to kill. (Stallman
2003, 216)
What a unique, moving, and tearful family reunion! Joseph then asked his
brothers to get their father and move the entire family to Egypt. The brothers did,
and the family was rescued.
One of the many lessons we learn is that God is the key person in this
narrative, not Joseph. The exercise of God’s sovereignty is demonstrated again
and again. The lengthy account of Joseph reaffirms the truths found in the first
part of Genesis:
God had made both good and evil possible in the Garden of Eden at the
beginning of the Book of Genesis. Now at its conclusion we learn that in his
grace and mercy, he works to accomplish his good through even the sinful actions
of human beings. The book offers no explanation of how God turns evil into
good on our behalf. But implicit here is the intimate relationship between divine
sovereignty and human responsibility. We can never fully understand how both
are held together, yet both are clearly affirmed in Scripture. (Arnold 1998, 163)
What a gracious God we serve!
The Patriarchs (Genesis 12–50) 41

T Test Yourself
Circle the letter of the best answer.
2
CHAPTER

1. Abraham’s spiritual weaknesses are revealed by his 6. Favoritism in Jacob’s family led to
a) numerous servants, animals, and monetary wealth. a) God’s purposes being accomplished in their lives.
b) boldness in interceding for Sodom and b) positive results for each family member.
Gomorrah. c) spiritual maturity for each family member.
c) acceptance of sinful lifestyles in Sodom and d) continuing problems in succeeding generations.
Gomorrah.
7. Joseph’s experience in prison confirms that he was
d) half-truths about his wife to both Pharaoh and
a) the central character in the biblical narrative.
Abimelech.
b) guilty of sexual sin with Potiphar’s wife.
2. Abraham’s spiritual strengths are revealed by his c) ultimately released due to God’s sovereignty.
great faith and d) a master of deceptive practices.
a) willingness to sacrifice his son.
8. Joseph’s actions in the biblical narrative were
b) willingness to find Isaac a wife.
a) always wise.
c) boldness in asking God about Sodom and
b) usually wise.
Gomorrah.
c) usually sinful.
d) numerous servants, animals, and monetary wealth.
d) always sinful.
3. God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac because
9. Joseph’s reunion with his brothers reveals
He was
a) God’s sovereignty.
a) angry at Abraham for having a son with Hagar.
b) Benjamin’s innocence.
b) angry at Abraham for lying about Sarah.
c) the thief who took the cup.
c) testing Abraham about his degree of trust in God.
d) the human will’s link to divine election.
d) instituting child sacrifices for atonement.
10. The actions of Joseph’s brothers in the biblical
4. The story of the servant seeking a wife for Isaac
narrative were
illustrates human
a) always sinful.
a) free agency and divine election.
b) usually sinful.
b) responsibility and divine sovereignty in prayer.
c) usually righteous.
c) weaknesses and divine perfections in prayer.
d) always righteous.
d) sinful nature and divine judgments.
5. Sibling rivalry is not necessary or appropriate
because
a) families should not allow competitiveness.
b) families should model perfection.
c) it can lead to deception and manipulation.
d) any disagreement among brothers is sin.
42 Old Testament Survey

Responses to Interactive Questions


Chapter 2
Some of these responses may include information that is supplemental to the IST. These questions are intended
to produce reflective thinking beyond the course content and your responses may vary from these examples.
1 Describe Abraham’s strengths and weaknesses.
Abraham’s great faith was his strength, but when he lost faith in God’s protection and became fearful, he took
matters into his own hands. Abraham believed God’s promise that he would become the father of many nations
(his strength) but then lied again and demonstrated his spiritual weakness.
2 What six elements make up God’s divine promise to Abraham?
(1) I will make you into a great nation. (2) I will bless you. (3) I will make your name great. (4) You will be a
blessing to others. (5) I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you. (6) Through you, all the
families on the earth will be blessed.
3 What was God’s purpose in asking Abraham to sacrifice Isaac?
To test Abraham’s ultimate faith in God. Such a sacrifice required radical obedience.
4 Why did God later tell Abraham not to sacrifice Isaac?
Abraham was willing to sacrifice what was most important to him and obey God at all costs.
5 What lessons can be learned about testing in a believer’s life?
Abraham’s faith teaches us to remain faithfully committed to God even in the most difficult times and to know
that in His timing, His test will be over.
6 Describe the consequences of sibling rivalry in this biblical account.
Jacob manipulated Esau’s hunger to get his birthright; he deceived his blind father; and Esau was so angry at
losing the birthright that Jacob had to flee for his life.
7 What were the four characters in this narrative guilty of? What did it prove about God?
Esau was guilty of reckless marriages, Isaac of excessive favoritism, Rebekah of calculated brazen plotting,
and Jacob of deceitful exploitation. God accomplished His purposes, and His grace endured in spite of each
character’s mistakes.
8 Give examples of God’s sovereignty, grace, and mercy in Joseph’s life story.
Among the many examples are these: (1) Instead of carrying out their plot to kill him, Joseph’s brothers threw
him into a pit and sold him to a caravan of traders. (2) When Joseph was falsely accused and imprisoned, he
met Pharaoh’s cupbearer who had the connections to help him. (3) From his interpretations of dreams in prison,
Joseph was brought forward to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams. Pharaoh recognized Joseph’s gift of wisdom and
appointed him to be a great ruler.
9 Compare and contrast the actions of Joseph with the actions of his brothers.
Joseph was impetuous and unwisely shared his dreams with his brothers. The brothers were extremely jealous
of Joseph (their father’s favorite son), hated him, and planned to kill him. Joseph performed his duties in a
conscientious and commendable manner in Potiphar’s house. He was a wise ruler under Pharaoh. He was
shrewd and verified his brothers’ trustworthiness before he revealed himself to them. His brothers finally
showed trustworthiness in their loyalty to the family.
The Patriarchs (Genesis 12–50) 43
3
44 Old Testament Survey

Israel’s Early Years


CHAPTER (Exodus–Deuteronomy)
Many years after Joseph’s death, the cry of the enslaved Israelites “went up to
God” (Exodus 2:23). God had not forgotten His covenant with Israel’s patriarchs.
Specifically, He remembered His promise that they would inhabit the land of
Canaan. It was now time to fulfill that promise.
To do so, He would need a strong leader—an imperfect yet righteous prophet
to mediate between God and His people. He needed Moses. Throughout the
grueling ordeal of leading the disgruntled, rebellious Israelites to the land of
their inheritance, Moses not only served as God’s mouthpiece to the people but
also interceded several times to allay God’s wrath against them. In the process,
he became the Lord’s friend (Exodus 33:11) yet remained “more humble than
anyone else on the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3). Until the time of Jesus, no
prophet could compare to Moses’s example of “mighty power” and “awesome
deeds” (Deuteronomy 34:12).
The last four books of the Pentateuch entwine the life of Moses with the
journey of the Israelites to the Promised Land. As we study Exodus through
Deuteronomy, you will notice the contrast between the Israelites’ rebellion and
Moses’s faithfulness.

Lesson 3.1 Exodus: Escape from Egypt


Objective
3.1.1 describe the exodus, journey to sinai, the covenant, and the tabernacle.

Lesson 3.2 Leviticus: Prescription for Living


Objective
3.2.1 From Leviticus, describe the offerings, the priests, and the feasts and
holy days.

Lesson 3.3 Numbers: Prescription for Traveling


Objective
3.3.1 From numbers, summarize events that happened at sinai, kadesh, and moab.

Lesson 3.4 Deuteronomy: Centrality of the Covenant


Objective
3.4.1 summarize one lesson from each of moses’s three messages and his
farewell.
Israel’s Early Years (Exodus–Deuteronomy) 45

3.1
Exodus: Escape from Egypt
The word exodus means “escape” or “exit.” Thus, the book of Exodus is the
LESSON narrative of the Israelites’ escape from Egypt and their journey to Mount Sinai.
It emphasizes three specific geographical locations: “Israel in Egypt (1:1–12:36),
Israel in the desert (12:37–18:21), and Israel at Mount Sinai (19–40)” (Arnold
and Beyer 1999, 104–105).
3.1.1
OBJECTIVE Several generations passed between the end of Genesis and the beginning
describe the exodus, of Exodus. According to Exodus 1, Abraham’s descendants had become so
journey to sinai, the numerous that the nation of Egypt, where they lived, considered them a threat.
covenant, and the The Pharaoh then in power did not remember Joseph and feared that the Israelites
tabernacle. would turn against him. To keep this potential threat under control, the Egyptians
enslaved the Israelites, and Pharaoh tried to limit their birthrate. He issued an
edict to drown all newborn Israelite male babies in the Nile River (Exodus 1:22).
During this time of slavery, Moses was born. Realizing after three months that
she could no longer hide her baby boy, Moses’s mother put him in a basket and put
the basket in the Nile River. Pharaoh’s daughter found the Hebrew infant, named
him Moses, and took him into her family as her own son. As part of Pharaoh’s
family, Moses received the best Egyptian education and was trained in the wisdom
of the Egyptians. God was preparing Moses for his unique life mission.
When he was forty years old, Moses killed an Egyptian who was beating an
Israelite. He then fled to the desert of Midian, where God continued to train him for
forty years. There he married Zipporah, the daughter of Jethro, a priest of Midian.
Exodus 3 records Moses’s divine encounter with God at the burning bush. It
was here that Moses voiced many objections to God, ranging from “Who am I?
What shall I tell them? What if they do not believe me?” to “Please send someone
else to do it” (Exodus 3:1–4:17). Yet, although He allowed Aaron to help, God did
not release Moses from the call to deliver His people, the nation of Israel.

Themes
1 What are the major The major themes of Exodus are deliverance, covenant, and divine mystery
themes of Exodus? (McQueen 2003, 234). “The people of God were languishing under the heavy
bondage of the Egyptians. They had no leadership and no hope of escape. But
God was moved by his grace and his earlier commitment to the patriarchs
(2:24–5). He delivered his people by providing the necessary human leader,
Moses” (Arnold and Beyer 1999, 111–112). “Although Moses is the primary
human character of the Exodus narratives, the real story is the redemptive work
of Yahweh in delivering Israel from slavery in Egypt and establishing a unique
covenant relationship with the nation” (Hill and Walton 2000, 81).

Outline
I. God Delivers Israel from Slavery, 1–13:19
A. Oppression in Egypt (1)
B. Preparation of Moses (2–4)
C. The contest: God and Pharaoh (5–11)
D. The Passover and the Exodus (12:1–13:19)
II. From Egypt to Sinai, 13:19–19:2
A. God’s deliverance (13:20–15:21)
B. On the way to Mount Sinai (15:22–19:2)
46 Old Testament Survey

III. God’s Covenant with Israel, 19:3–24:18


A. Preparing to meet God (19:3–25)
B. The Ten Commandments (20:1–17)
C. Laws for Israel (20:18–23:33)
D. Approving the covenant (24)
IV. The Tabernacle, 25–40
A. Preparing to build (25–31)
B. Idolatry and judgment (32–34)
C. Building the tabernacle (35–40)

Deliverance from Slavery (Exodus 1–13:16)


God used Moses to lead His people out of Egypt. However, the deliverance
from slavery did not come immediately. Moses faced many challenges, including
a lack of cooperation from his own people and serious conflict with Pharaoh,
the ruler of the land. Moses also dealt with personal struggles while waiting for
God’s ultimate deliverance.
God and Pharaoh (5–11)
Despite divine action through signs and wonders, Pharaoh continued to
respond negatively. Exodus 7–11 is an interesting account of interactions
between God, Moses, and Pharaoh. When God promised to punish Egypt,
Pharaoh reacted, and divine judgments were carried out through plagues. As God
used Moses in the arena of the supernatural, an amazing story emerges of a series
of power encounters between God and those who would challenge Him. God is
the one who performed the miracles; Moses was merely the human instrument.
Moses acted in miracle power only when God spoke. “God is also the Lord of
history, for there is no one like him, ‘majestic in holiness, awesome in glory,
working wonders’ (15:11). Thus neither the affliction of Israel nor the plagues of
Egypt were outside his control. Pharaoh, the Egyptians, and all Israel would see
the power of God” (Gaebelein 1990, 292, 325).
The Passover (12–13:16)
Before the last plague, God commanded the Israelites to spread lambs’ blood
on the doorframes of their homes. Seeing the blood, the angel of death passed
over the Israelite houses and went only to the Egyptian homes, where no blood
was on the doorposts. That night, as the angel brought death to every firstborn
son of the Egyptians, the Israelites were to prepare for their journey and be ready
to go at any moment. Their deliverance was about to become reality.
The Lord instructed His people to commemorate the angel of death’s passing
over them with an annual feast called the Passover. The Passover’s connection
with the last plague is significant. Because the Israelites obeyed God by
sacrificing a lamb, eating its meat, and spreading its blood on their doorposts,
they were spared. “Lambs had died in place of sons” (Wood 1970, 129).
In this way, the sacrifice of the Passover lamb served as the biblical model of
redemption. Innocent blood was shed so that human life might be saved. . . .
On that night, Yahweh was especially alert and watchful over his people. The
Israelites, too, watched and waited for the coming release from bondage. In the
New Testament, the Lord’s Supper serves a similar purpose of redemption and
anticipation. (McQueen 2003, 243)
Israel’s Early Years (Exodus–Deuteronomy) 47

The Exit from Egypt (Exodus 13:17–19:2)


The shortest way from Egypt to Canaan was a well-traveled road along the
Mediterranean Sea coast. However, knowing that Pharaoh would follow the
Israelites, God told Moses to go another way. The Lord had a plan for Pharaoh.
After the Israelites passed through a sea, God brought the waters back on
Pharaoh’s army in such great force and amounts that the army drowned.
Biblical scholars, even conservative ones, do not agree on the route of the
Exodus and which sea the Israelites crossed. Since the Hebrew literally means
“Sea of Reeds,” some teachers believe the Israelites crossed a marshy body of
water. Larry McQueen explains this view:
It appears that “God led the people around by the desert road” (Exod. 13:17–18)
because the coastal road was heavily fortified with Egyptian outposts. They
took instead the desert road toward the Red Sea (yam suf). Because suf means
“papyrus” or “reeds,” a better translation is “Reed Sea” or “Sea of Reeds” (see
NIV text note). In some texts, yam suf is given a wide meaning to refer to the
Gulf of Suez or the Gulf of Aqaba, the two bodies of water that extend out
to the Red Sea. . . . Following the literal meaning of yam suf, however, most
scholars believe that the Israelites crossed what was known as the “Sea of
Reeds.” It was probably a marshy fresh water lake that could support the growth
of papyrus. The only fresh water lake in the area is Lake of Timsah, lying to the
north of the Gulf of Suez and to the south of Lake Menzala. This area also fits
well with the testimony of Scripture. (2003, 244–245)
On the other hand, scholar Leon Wood (1970) contends that because the water
drowned the Egyptians, we know that the sea had deep water and was not marshy.
According to Wood, the size of the Israelite population and the time it would take
such a large population to cross is more consistent with the Bitter Lakes, which at
that time were considered an extension of the Red Sea or Gulf of Suez. Wood also
asserts that not enough is known about possible Egyptian fortifications in that day
to draw a definite conclusion against his particular viewpoint.
Although both of these views have elements that encourage serious consideration,
their weak logical arguments prevent a definite conclusion. Whatever view is adopted,
the biblical text is clear about one thing: This was a series of God-orchestrated
miracles that won the Israelites’ deliverance from their Egyptian taskmasters.

God’s Covenant with Israel (Exodus 19:3–24:18)


Israel’s religion was a revealed religion. That is, their beliefs were not based on
the religions of the people around them, but came directly from God. While some
of Israel’s religious practices were similar to those of other nations, there were
major theological differences. God told the Israelites exactly how they were to
worship Him, the only true God, and how they could receive forgiveness of sin.
2 Explain the difference Earlier, God had made a covenant with Abraham and his family. Now,
between God’s covenant with at Sinai, God made a covenant with Israel as a nation (Exodus 19:3–24:8).
Abraham and His covenant Having delivered Israel from Egypt, God desired that Israel be a holy nation to
with Israel.
accomplish His purpose of salvation for all nations. The only way for Israel to
have a right relationship with God was through His covenant.
Grace came before law. A covenant relationship is very different from legalism.
In strict legalism, if one party breaks the contract, the other party is free to leave
with no strings attached. In a covenant, sin hurts and grieves the injured party.
The covenant, however, continues as long as the initiator wills it. Thus the event
48 Old Testament Survey

of the exodus and the giving of the covenant may be seen as the crux of the
entire Old Testament. (McQueen 2003, 253)
This was not a covenant that made Israel the people of the Lord. That had
been accomplished long before through God’s covenant with Abraham. Rather,
the covenant about to be implemented would give Israel the opportunity to be
God’s servant people, the channel by which He would communicate and transmit
His redemptive program to the whole world (Dyer and Merrill 2001, 57–58).
The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1–17)
3 What was the purpose of As part of His covenant with the nation of Israel, God issued the Ten
the Ten Commandments? Commandments to Moses, and Moses conveyed the instructions to the people.
These instructions were given to protect both the individual and the nation.
Their purpose was to prevent injustices and unfair treatment of others. The Ten
Commandments, sometimes called the Decalogue, were “the constitution of
the covenant community, as it were, and the remaining laws are amendments or
clarifications of the commandments” (Dyer and Merrill 2001, 59).
The Ten Commandments were unique because they required monotheism,
the worship of the one true God. Although the surrounding nations worshipped
many gods and made idols to represent them, Israel did not. God commanded
them not to. They were different from the other nations because they knew the
living God. However,
the Israelites’ obedience to the covenant was very short-lived. While Moses was
on the mountain receiving the tablets and instructions for the tabernacle, the
people grew restless. In direct violation of the first and second commandments,
they demanded a visible god to worship. Aaron promptly granted their request
by making a calf from gold supplied by the people themselves. They held a feast
and bowed before the calf as the god that delivered them from Egypt
(Exod. 32:1–6). This act betrayed the heart of the covenant.
(McQueen 2003, 257)
The Israelites broke their promise of obedience and suffered the
consequences. Because of their sin, the Lord inflicted them with a plague.
Yet, through Moses’s intercession and God’s own grace, the Lord restored His
covenant relationship with His people (Exodus 32–34:28).

The Tabernacle (Exodus 25–40)


Whereas the Egyptians had many temples, Israel had only one place of
worship. God placed Bezalel and Oholiab in charge of building the tabernacle,
often called the “tent of meeting” in the Scriptures. Bezalel and Oholiab were
filled with God’s Spirit, knowledge, and skills (Exodus 35:30–34). The biblical
text seems to indicate that the Holy Spirit empowers human ability, talents, and
intellect to accomplish God’s purposes.
The tabernacle itself was 45 feet (13.7 m) long and 15 feet (4.6 m) wide and
15 feet (4.6 m) high, with two major divisions: the Holy Place and the Most Holy
Place, also called the Holy of Holies. Since the entrance to the Holy Place was on the
east side, the priest entered in the morning with the rising sun. A thick curtain or veil
separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place, which was square in its design.
Israel’s Early Years (Exodus–Deuteronomy) 49

3.2
Leviticus: Prescription for Living
The book of Leviticus establishes the rituals that were to characterize Israel’s
LESSON religious practice in the days of the Law. In these pages, God gave specific
instructions for how the people were to worship Him with their lives.

Outline
3.2.1
OBJECTIVE I. The Offerings, 1–7
From Leviticus, describe II. The Priests, 8–10
the offerings, the priests,
III. The Laws, 11–22
and the feasts and holy days.
IV. The Feasts and Holy Days, 23–25
V. The Choice, 26–27

The Offerings (Leviticus 1–7)


4 Name the five types From the time of Adam and Eve, people brought offerings to God. Having
of offerings from memory, chosen Israel to testify about His way of salvation, God now gave specific
and then explain each one’s instructions about making sacrifices to express the people’s repentance, faith,
purpose.
thankfulness, and love. Four of the five types of offerings required blood
sacrifices. (See the following chart.)

Old Testament Sacrifices and Offerings


Type Leviticus Offering Purpose
Free act of worship;
atoned for unintentional
1; 6:8–13; Bull, ram; dove or
1. Burnt sins, that is, those done
8:18–21; pigeon by the poor;
offering without planning or
16:24 burned to ashes
desire. Showed complete
surrender to God.

Free giving of thanks


and praise to God for His
2. Grain 2; Grain, flour, olive oil, goodness and provisions;
offering 6:14–23 incense, baked bread offered with a burnt
offering or fellowship
offering, but never alone

Free act of worship; the


priests and the person
Any animal without
3. Fellowship 3; bringing this offering ate
defect from a herd or
offering 7:11–34 part of it together to show
flock
fellowship between God
and humankind.

a. Young bull for the


high priest and
Israelites
b. Male goat for leader Required for certain
4:1–5:13;
c. Female goat or unintentional sins.
4. Sin 6:24–30;
lamb for a common Forgiveness and
offering 8:14–17;
person cleansing from sins
16:3–22
d. Dove or pigeon for confessed.
poor
e. Flour for the very
poor
50 Old Testament Survey

Old Testament Sacrifices and Offerings (continued)


Type Leviticus Offering Purpose
Required to atone for
unintentional sins;
5. Guilt 5:14–6:7; required restitution and
Ram or lamb
offering 7:1–6 a fine of 20 percent.
Necessary to restore
relationships.

The Priests (Leviticus 8–10)


God’s prescription for worship presented in Leviticus also discusses the role
of the priests. In patriarchal times, the head of a family offered sacrifices for the
entire family. Now, after the Exodus, priests were to offer sacrifices for anyone
who was part of the national community. God chose Moses’s brother Aaron to be
the first high priest, and Aaron’s sons assisted him. When two of his sons, Nadab
and Abihu, failed to follow the prescribed divine pattern for worship, God judged
them with death (Leviticus 10:1–3).
5 What were the priests’ The priestly ministry under the Levitical system differed significantly from
duties? that of the priests of other religions and cultures near Israel. According to the
Lord’s instructions, the priests represented the people before God and taught
God’s laws and principles to the people. They were also custodians of the
tabernacle, with the Levites appointed to assist them. God commissioned the
Levites to take the place of the firstborn males (Numbers 3:5–13; 8:18).

The Feasts and Holy Days (Leviticus 23–25)


6 Why did the Israelites have God established special feasts and holy days to remind the Israelites that they
special feasts and holy days? were His holy people. The Law outlined what to do on each occasion. Leviticus
speaks of the following holy times:

Name Leviticus Purpose and Explanation


A day of rest set apart to God; no work for people or
1. Sabbath 23:3
animals

2. Sabbath
25:1–7 A year of rest for the land
Year

3. Year of 25:8–55; To help the poor; debts were cancelled, slaves


Jubilee 27:17–24 freed, and land returned to first owners.

To recall deliverance from Egypt; each family killed and


4. Passover 23:5
ate a lamb with bitter herbs and unleavened bread.

To recall that God brought Israel out of Egypt in


5. Unleavened
23:6–8 haste; ate bread without yeast, met together several
Bread
times, and gave offerings.

To recognize the Lord’s blessing in the land; waved


6. Firstfruits 23:9–14 a sheaf of barley grain and gave a burnt offering
and a grain offering.

7. Weeks; To rejoice and give thanks for the grain harvest;


Harvest 23:15–21 a feast of joy; included both required and freewill
(Pentecost) offerings.
Israel’s Early Years (Exodus–Deuteronomy) 51

(continued)
Name Leviticus Purpose and Explanation
8. Trumpets;
Rosh To present Israel to God and seek His favor; the
23:23–25
Hashanah people met, blew trumpets, and offered sacrifices.
(New Year)

9. Day of
To cleanse priests and people from sin; to purify the
Atonement 16;
Holy Place; people rested, fasted in mourning over
(Yom 23:26–32
their sins, and sacrificed.
Kippur)

To recall the journey from Egypt to Canaan; for a


10. Tabernacles
week they lived in booths made of tree branches or
(Booths, 23:33–43
palm trees and rejoiced for all the Lord had provided;
Ingathering)
each seventh year, priests read all of the Pentateuch.

11. Sacred To recall the closing of the cycle of feasts; they met,
23:36
Assembly rested, and offered sacrifices.

The theology of holiness pervades the book of Leviticus. It affirms both the
holiness of God and the propensity of people toward sin. Yet God desires His people
to move toward holiness. He provides the sacrifice for sin. Thus, the theology of
holiness undergirds the sacrifices, the role of the priests, and the feast celebrations.

3.3
Numbers: Prescription for Traveling
LESSON Outline
The book of Numbers summarizes the nomadic lives of the Israelites and notes
their travels. For almost a year, Israel camped at Mount Sinai, where God gave
them instructions (Numbers 1–10). Later, the Israelites marched for eleven days to
3.3.1
OBJECTIVE Kadesh (11–12). From there, Moses sent spies into the land of Canaan, but their
From numbers, summarize report caused the people to turn away from God in doubt and unbelief (13–14). God
events that happened at punished the Israelites by allowing the faithless generation to die in the wilderness
sinai, kadesh, and moab. (15–19). Finally, after almost forty years, Israel’s next generation was ready to enter
Canaan (26–36). Moses gave his farewell speeches in Deuteronomy to them.
7 Describe the outline of In the following outline, we have divided Numbers into three parts. Note that
Numbers. the chapters in Numbers are not written in the order of the events.
I. At Sinai: God Prepares Israel to Inherit Canaan, 1:1–10:10
A. Preparing to march (1–4)
B. Establishing camp rules (5:1–6:21)
C. Dedicating the tabernacle (6:22–9:16)
D. Following divine guidance to Canaan (9:17–10:10)
II. At Kadesh: The People Forfeit Their Inheritance, 10:11–21:35
A. Complaints and an outpouring of the Spirit (10:11–12:16)
B. Rebellion with ten spies (13–14)
C. Thirty-eight years of wandering (15–19)
D. From Kadesh to the Plains of Moab (20–21)
52 Old Testament Survey

III. At Moab: God Prepares a New Generation to Possess Canaan, 22–36


A. Balak and Balaam (22–25)
B. The second census (26)
C. Joshua: the new leader (27)
D. Commands about offerings, feasts, and vows (28–30)
E. War with Midian (31)
F. Dividing and settling the land (32–36)

At Sinai (Numbers 1:1–10:10)


Preparing to March (1–4)
8 What did God prepare Before leaving Mount Sinai, Moses counted the men but not the women,
Israel for at Sinai? children, or Levites (1:2, 45–46). Because of this, some scholars have concluded
that there were 600,000 men alone. They estimate that by the time one adds
women, children, and Levites, approximately two to three million Israelites left
Egypt (Westbrook 2003, 315). Considering that they traveled from place to place,
this is an incredible number of people.
Establishing Camp Rules (5:1–6:21)
To keep the Israelites holy, God established laws concerning cleanliness and
health, tests for an unfaithful wife, and the Nazirite vow, among others. Whereas
the health laws were for their physical benefit, the holiness laws were for their
spiritual benefit. Some individuals took a Nazirite vow, a special sign of devotion
that called for abstinence from several things, including the consumption of wine.
The book of Judges indicates that Samson took a Nazirite vow.
Dedicating the Tabernacle (6:22–9:16)
After construction of the tabernacle and its furniture was completed, Moses
performed an act of dedication, and God’s glory filled the tabernacle. Thus, the
tabernacle became the center of Israel’s religious life. Through Moses, God set
apart Aaron and the Levites to minister in it (8:5–26). God also instructed the
priests to say a specific blessing, now called the Aaronic Blessing (6:24–26), over
the people to set them apart as His.
One year after the deliverance from Egypt, the Lord reminded the Israelites to
celebrate the Passover. All strangers traveling with the Israelites could choose to
participate in the celebration as well.
Following Divine Guidance to Canaan (9:17–10:10)
When the Israelites camped, the tabernacle was to be the center of the
camping activity, with the Levites camped around it. The cloud of God’s glory
covered the tabernacle. “When the cloud lifted from above the Tent, the Israelites
set out; wherever the cloud settled, the Israelites encamped” (9:17). In this way,
as the Israelites continued their wilderness journey, God guided them by a pillar
of cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night.

At Kadesh (Numbers 10:11–21:35)


9 The Israelites’ time in Complaints and an Outpouring of the Spirit (10:11–12:16)
Kadesh can be divided into During their trek, the Israelites began to forget the conditions of slavery
what four parts?
in Egypt, focusing instead on their present negative circumstances. They
consistently complained and turned against both God and Moses. When God
provided manna for food, they demanded meat. God then provided quail, and
Israel’s Early Years (Exodus–Deuteronomy) 53

they had more than enough to eat. However, God became so angry about their
ungrateful, selfish attitudes that He punished them, once with fire (11:1–3) and
once with a plague that killed many (11:33–34).
Moses cried out to God because the burden of carrying so much emotional
weight was becoming too heavy. God told him to choose seventy men who
would share the burden and responsibilities of leading the people. God poured
out His Spirit on these individuals so they would be empowered to carry out the
task (11:16–17, 24–30). Human responsibility and delegation, as well as divine
empowerment, are necessary to fulfill God’s assignments for us.
Yet the Israelites’ negative attitude continued. Their complaints led even
Aaron and Miriam to criticize Moses. They were jealous that Moses had all of the
authority. As a result, God rebuked Aaron and Miriam because of their rebellion
and caused Miriam to have leprosy for seven days. In this way, He let everyone
know that Moses was His chosen leader (12:1–15).
Rebellion with Ten Spies (13–14)
As Israel camped in the Desert of Paran, Moses sent twelve spies to the land
of Canaan. Upon returning, they reported that the land was good and fruitful.
However, ten of the spies did not believe Israel could conquer Canaan because
of the great strength and size of the people living there. Only Joshua and Caleb
stood firm in faith and proclaimed that, with God’s help, Israel could take the
land. The people believed the faithless spies, talked of rejecting Moses as their
leader, and threatened to stone Joshua and Caleb.
In response, God told Moses that He would destroy the people and begin a
new nation. But Moses prayed and interceded for the Israelites. Although God
forgave them as Moses asked, He proclaimed that all the unbelieving adults
would die in the wilderness.
Thirty-eight Years of Wandering (15–19)
As a result of God’s judgment, the Israelites spent thirty-eight years
wandering in the desert around Kadesh. During this time, two groups turned
against God and His chosen leaders (Numbers 16). God sent judgment against the
rebels so that the ground opened up and swallowed them and their families.
God also confirmed Aaron as high priest by bringing Aaron’s rod to life,
having it blossom and produce almonds. It was later placed in the ark of the
covenant (Hebrews 9:4).
From Kadesh to the Plains of Moab (20–21)
While in Kadesh, a crisis arose when the multitude had no water. Again, the
people complained against Moses’s leadership. God told Moses to speak to a rock
so that water would flow from it, but Moses struck the rock instead. Although
water still came from the rock, Moses’s disobedience caused the Lord to bar him
from entering the Promised Land.
Finally, after thirty-eight years in the wilderness, the Israelites arrived at the
border, continuing to complain. God punished them by sending deadly snakes
into the camp. When they repented and Moses prayed for them, God provided a
way for them to live. If a person who was bitten looked upon the snake of bronze
that Moses placed on a pole, he or she would live (21:4–9). Later, Jesus used this
as an illustration of the life He would offer through His death (John 3:14–15).
From there, Israel traveled south and went around the regions of Edom and
Moab. God did not allow them to fight against Moab, the nation of Ruth. But they
54 Old Testament Survey

conquered Sihon, King of Heshbon, and Og, King of Bashan. As they camped on
the plains north of Moab, God gave them further instructions for entering Canaan.

At Moab (Numbers 22–36)


The last division of Numbers shows God’s protection of Israel from Balak
and the prophet Balaam: “There is no sorcery against Jacob, no divination against
Israel” (23:23). It also describes God’s judgment on the Israelites who turned to
Moabite idols and immorality (25:1–17). In the midst of this judgment, Eleazar’s
son, Phinehas, defended God’s honor and ended the plague God had sent. The Lord
commended him for his zeal and promised his family “a lasting priesthood” (25:13).
Numbers 26 describes the second census, which showed that the number of
fighting men was still at 600,000. However, this generation was ready to trust
God and possess the Promised Land. Moses announced that Joshua, now Spirit-
filled, would be the new leader of Israel.
10 Describe the purpose for In this final portion of Numbers, we also read of the settlement of the land
the six cities of refuge. east of the Jordan by the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh
(32:1–42), of the establishment of the boundaries of the promised land (34:1–29),
and of the instructions given regarding the “cities of refuge” (35:6–34). Each of
these cities would be a place of safety, where an Israelite who accidentally killed
a person could escape.

3.4
Deuteronomy: Centrality of the Covenant
The word deuteronomy comes from the Greek title of this book in the
LESSON Septuagint. deutero means “second,” and nomy is a form of the word law.
The book of Deuteronomy reviews the Law and covenant God gave to Israel.
Concerning its purpose, Hill and Walton state:
The book of Deuteronomy does not give a “second law” as the name suggests,
3.4.1
OBJECTIVE but rather provides an important summary of the history of the wilderness
summarize one lesson period and organization of the legal material. Framed in the words of Moses
from each of moses’s three shortly before his death, the book tries to give the Israelites a broad perspective
messages and his farewell. on the events of the previous generation as it affords the opportunity for the
renewal of the covenant. (2000, 131)

Outline
I. Moses’s First Message: History, 1–4:43
A. Review of Israel’s failures (1–3)
B. Encouragement to obey (4:1–40)
C. Cities of refuge (4:41–43)
II. Moses’s Second Message: Law and Love, 4:44–26:19
A. Covenant; Ten Commandments (4:44–11:32)
B. Laws for living in Canaan (12–26)
III. Moses’s Third Message: Blessings or Curses, 27–30
IV. Moses’s Final Words and Death, 31–34
A. Joshua’s commission (31:1–29)
B. Song and blessing of Moses (31:30–33:29)
Israel’s Early Years (Exodus–Deuteronomy) 55

C. Death of Moses (34)

Moses’s First Message: History (Deuteronomy 1–4:43)


11 What was the purpose of In his first speech, Moses reviewed Israel’s history, giving attention to both
Moses’s first message? positive and negative aspects. He addressed the people’s tendency to consistently
complain and to turn away from God so often that God disallowed them from
entering Canaan. Moses reminded the people that the divine promises were
conditional, involving obedience that was rooted in love for God.

Moses’s Second Message: Law and Love


(Deuteronomy 4:44–26:19)
Moses’s second speech centered on the concept of the covenant (4:44–26:19).
Once again, he emphasized the conditional aspect of the covenant. That is, the
divine blessing depended on obedience rooted in love. A continual, consistent
disobedience would lead the people away from God’s blessings and destroy their
relationship with God.
Moses’s second message contains five familiar passages or concepts:
• A repetition of the Ten Commandments, including the exhortations to
remove idol worship and all those who worshipped idols (4:44–5:33).
• The Jewish confession of faith, or a brief doctrinal statement (6:4–9). This
confession is called the Shema, which is an imperative that means “Hear!”
Many faithful Jewish believers still quote these verses every day. The New
Testament refers to this Old Testament passage and affirmation of the one
true God several times: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is
one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and
with all your strength” (6:4–5).
• Exhortations to love God, their neighbors, and the foreigners among them
(10:12, 19).
• Many ethical standards for living (12–25).
• Prophecy of a coming prophet (18:18–19). This prophecy was fulfilled in
Jesus Christ (John 1:45; 6:14; Acts 3:22–26).

Moses’s Third Message: Blessings or Curses


(Deuteronomy 27–30)
12 What would you title Moses’s third speech involves both blessings and curses. Although such a
Moses’s third message? speech is unfamiliar and hard for Western cultures to understand, it was common
in ancient Near Eastern cultures. A message of blessings and curses is sometimes
called a doctrine of retribution or deuteronomic theology (Arnold and Beyer
1998, 147).
Though Deuteronomy’s doctrine of retribution is certainly true, it is not the
whole picture because it deals with the immediate future. Israel will succeed in
the promised land only if she is faithful to the covenant. On the other hand, if
she disobeys God, she will lose the land. The rest of biblical revelation broadens
the scope by teaching that character ultimately has to do with one’s eternal
destiny. The circumstances of this life may have little to do with one’s character.
Someone born blind cannot be accused of being in that condition because of sin
(John 9:1–3); people killed tragically in accidents have not met untimely death
because of sin (Luke 13:4–15). (Arnold and Beyer 1999, 147)
56 Old Testament Survey

Moses’s Farewell (Deuteronomy 31–34)


In his farewell, Moses commissioned Joshua to be the new leader. God
revealed to Moses that the people would bow to idols, and He gave Moses a song
to teach them as a witness against them. Moses instructed the priests to place the
Law in the ark of the covenant, and he spoke a blessing over each tribe.
13 What was Moses able to Then God told Moses to climb Mount Nebo (also called Pisgah), and from
see from Mount Nebo? there, he could see the land Israel was about to enter. God himself buried Moses
on Mount Nebo. After mourning for Moses, the Israelites, led by Joshua, went on
to the Promised Land.
Israel’s Early Years (Exodus–Deuteronomy) 57

T Test Yourself
Circle the letter of the best answer.
3
CHAPTER

1. The book of Exodus is a narrative of 6. The dominant theme of Leviticus is


a) the Israelites’ wilderness experience and the a) redemption.
organization of the Law. b) holiness.
b) the Israelites’ escape from Egypt and journey to c) deliverance.
Mount Sinai. d) divine mystery.
c) events that occurred at Sinai, Kadesh, and Moab.
7. The book of Numbers relates that at Sinai
d) God’s anger toward the Israelites.
a) the people forfeited their inheritance.
2. The major themes of Exodus are b) God prepared a new generation to possess Canaan.
a) deliverance, holiness, and divine mystery. c) God prepared Israel to inherit Canaan.
b) deliverance, holiness, and covenant. d) Moses received the Ten Commandments.
c) deliverance, covenant, and divine mystery.
8. According to Numbers, what occurred at Kadesh?
d) divine mystery, holiness, and worship.
a) The people forfeited their inheritance.
3. The Ten Commandments were intended to b) God prepared a new generation to possess Canaan.
a) provide a covenant constitution, protecting both c) God prepared Israel to inherit Canaan.
individuals and the nation. d) Moses received the Ten Commandments.
b) provide a constitution like other surrounding
9. The book of Deuteronomy summarizes
nations.
a) God’s anger toward the nation of Israel.
c) subject the Israelites to God’s power and control.
c) events that occurred at Sinai, Kadesh, and Moab.
d) expose the wickedness of the Israelites.
b) the Israelites’ escape from Egypt and journey to
4. The priest and the person bringing the offering Mount Sinai.
ate part of the sacrifice together in the d) the Law and the history of the Israelites’
a) burnt offering. wilderness experience.
b) sin offering.
10. Moses’s third speech in the book of
c) fellowship offering.
Deuteronomy
d) grain offering.
a) centers on the concept of covenant.
5. Which offering atoned for unintentional sins and b) involves both blessings and curses.
required restitution? c) commissions Joshua to be the future leader of
a) Burnt offering Israel.
b) Sin offering d) reviews the positive and negative aspects of
c) Fellowship offering Israel’s history.
d) Guilt offering
58 Old Testament Survey

Responses to Interactive Questions


Chapter 3
Some of these responses may include information that is supplemental to the IST. These questions are intended
to produce reflective thinking beyond the course content and your responses may vary from these examples.
1 What are the major themes of Exodus?
Deliverance, covenant, and divine mystery
2 Explain the difference between God’s covenant with Abraham and His covenant with Israel.
God’s covenant with Abraham made Israel the people of the Lord. His covenant with Israel gave Israel the
opportunity to be the channel through which God would transmit and communicate His redemptive program to
the entire world.
3 What was the purpose of the Ten Commandments?
The commandments were given to protect both the individual and the nation. The purpose was to prevent
injustices and unfair treatment of other people.
4 Name the five types of offerings from memory, and then explain each one’s purpose.
The burnt offering was to atone for unintentional sins and to show complete surrender to God. The grain
offering was thanks and praise to God for His goodness and provisions, never offered alone. The fellowship
offering was to show fellowship between God and humankind. The sin offering was required for certain
unintentional sins and offered forgiveness and cleansing. The guilt offering was required for unintentional sins
and required restitution, necessary to restore relationships.
5 What were the priests’ duties?
The priests represented the people before God and taught them God’s laws and principles. The priests were also
custodians of the tabernacle. Their ministry differed significantly from the priests of other religions and cultures
of peoples who lived near Israel (Numbers 3:5–10).
6 Why did the Israelites have special feasts and holy days?
To remind them that they were God’s holy people. The Law told them what to do on each occasion.
7 Describe the outline of Numbers.
At Sinai: God prepares Israel to inherit Canaan. At Kadesh: The people forfeit their inheritance. At Moab: God
prepares a new generation to possess Canaan.
8 What did God prepare Israel for at Sinai?
He prepared Israel with everything they would need to inherit Canaan.
9 The Israelites’ time in Kadesh can be divided into what four parts?
(1) Complaints and an outpouring of the Spirit; (2) rebellion with ten spies at Kadesh; (3) thirty-eight years of
wandering; (4) from Kadesh to the Plains of Moab
10 Describe the purpose for the six cities of refuge.
They were places of safety. If an Israelite accidentally killed another, he or she could run to a city of refuge to live.
11 What was the purpose of Moses’s first message?
Moses’s first speech reviewed Israel’s history, emphasizing both positive and negative.
12 What would you title Moses’s third message?
Blessings and Curses
Israel’s Early Years (Exodus–Deuteronomy) 59

13 What was Moses able to see from Mount Nebo?


He could see the land Israel was about to enter, although he himself would not enter the Promised Land.

UNIT PROGRESS EVALUATION 1


Now that you have finished Unit 1, review the lessons in preparation for Unit Progress Evaluation 1.
You will find it in Essential Course Materials at the back of this IST. Answer all of the questions without
referring to your course materials, Bible, or notes. When you have completed the UPE, check your answers
with the answer key provided in Essential Course Materials. Review any items you may have answered
incorrectly. Then you may proceed with your study of Unit 2. (Although UPE scores do not count as part of
your final course grade, they indicate how well you learned the material and how well you may perform on
the closed-book final examination.)
60 Old Testament Survey
2
The Historical Books
UNIT The books of the Bible from Joshua through Esther chronicle the
establishment, destruction, and restoration of Israel as a nation. They trace
Israel’s history from the first days of conquering Canaan, through the spiritually
trying times of the judges and kings and the divided nation, to the people’s exile
and return. Geisler (1981, 83) presents the Law and historical books in terms of
the nation of Israel as follows:

Books of the Law and History from a National Point of View

Book Theme

Law: The Foundation for Christ


Genesis The election of the nation

Exodus The redemption of the nation

Leviticus The sanctification of the nation

Numbers The direction of the nation

Deuteronomy The instruction of the nation

History: The Preparation for Christ


Joshua The possession of the nation

Judges/Ruth The oppression of the nation

1 Samuel The kingdom of the nation

2 Samuel The expansion of the nation

1 Kings 1–11 The glory of the nation

1 Kings 12–22 The division of the nation

2 Kings 1–17 The fall of the northern nation

2 Kings 18–25 The exile of the southern nation

1 Chronicles The preparation of the nation’s temple

2 Chronicles The destruction of the nation’s temple

Ezra The restoration of the nation’s temple

Nehemiah The rebuilding of the nation’s capital city

Esther The protection of the nation’s people

Chapter 4 Conquest and Life in Canaan (Joshua–1 Samuel)


Lessons
4.1 Joshua: Conquering Canaan
4.2 Judges: Settling Canaan
4.3 Ruth: Providential Grace
4.4 1 Samuel: Kingdom Beginnings
62 Old Testament Survey

Chapter 5 The Israelite Empire (2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings,


1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles 1–9)
Lessons
5.1 David’s Reign (2 Samuel, 1 Chronicles)
5.2 Solomon’s Reign (1 Kings 1–11; 2 Chronicles 1–9)
5.3 The Northern Kingdom (1 Kings 12–2 Kings 17)

Chapter 6 The Southern Kingdom of Judah (1 and 2 Kings,


2 Chronicles 10–36)
Lessons
6.1 Rehoboam to Ahaz: Judah during the Divided Kingdom
(1 Kings 12–22; 2 Kings 8–16; 2 Chronicles 10–28)
6.2 Hezekiah to Zedekiah: Judah, the Surviving Kingdom
(2 Kings 18–24; 2 Chronicles 29–36)

Chapter 7 The Postexilic Books (Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther)


Lessons
7.1 Ezra: The Rebuilding of the Temple
7.2 Nehemiah: The Rebuilding of the Walls
7.3 Esther: The Protection of the Nation

4
Conquest and Life in Canaan
(Joshua–1 Samuel)
CHAPTER
Moses’s exhortations throughout Deuteronomy had been clear: Be faithful
to God, keep Him central to every aspect of life, and you will be blessed. Turn
away from Him, reject His authority, and He will turn you over to your enemies
(Deuteronomy 30:15–18).
Had the Israelites remembered these key principles, their years of entering
and settling in Canaan would have been far more peaceful and far less volatile.
Yet, as the years passed, the people forgot the words of Moses. They became
more interested in their own pursuits than in the pursuits of their God.
Despite the Israelites’ faithlessness, however, God himself remained faithful
(see 2 Timothy 2:13). Although He punished the Israelites, He also raised up godly
people such as Joshua, Deborah, Jephthah, Samuel, and David to lead Israel back
to the worship of the one true God. As the story of Ruth illustrates so beautifully,
these first few historical books show the blessing that comes from remaining
faithful to God and loving Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.

Lesson 4.1 Joshua: Conquering Canaan


Objectives
4.1.1 describe the author, setting, and purpose of Joshua.
4.1.2 summarize the process of entering, conquering, and dividing canaan.
Conquest and Life in Canaan (Joshua–1 Samuel) 63

Lesson 4.2 Judges: Settling Canaan


Objectives
4.2.1 explain israel’s cycle of failure during the time of the judges, and give
an example.
4.2.2 comment on each of the six major judges and abimelech.

Lesson 4.3 Ruth: Providential Grace


Objective
4.3.1 summarize the story of ruth, and apply lessons for us today.

Lesson 4.4 1 Samuel: Kingdom Beginnings


Objectives
4.4.1 analyze the setting, author, and purpose of 1 samuel.
4.4.2 summarize lessons from the lives of eli, samuel, saul, and david.

4.1
Joshua: Conquering Canaan
LESSON Author
According to Jewish tradition, Joshua is considered to be the author of the
book that bears his name. However, some internal biblical evidence indicates that
Joshua did not write certain sections of the book. How can this be reconciled?
4.1.1
OBJECTIVE Arnold and Beyer summarize the authorship evidence:
describe the author, setting, Joshua 24:26 suggests Joshua wrote at least part of the book, and Jewish
and purpose of Joshua. tradition names Joshua as the author. The account of Joshua’s death (24:29–31)
clearly indicates another author besides Joshua, at least for this section. The
1 Do we know who wrote common phrase “until this day” (4:9; 5:9; 7:26; etc.) suggests an extended
the book of Joshua? Explain amount of time has elapsed since the events described, though not necessarily
your answer.
an extremely long time. The mention of Jebusites in Jerusalem (15:63) suggests
a date prior to 1000 BC, when David conquered Jerusalem and drove out the
Jebusites (2 Samuel 5:6–10). The reference to Canaanites in Gezer (16:10)
implies a date prior to about 970 BC, when the king of Egypt conquered Gezer
and gave it to Solomon (1 Kings 3:1; 9:16).
When we look at all the evidence, it seems reasonable to conclude that much of
the book comes from eyewitness accounts, perhaps from Joshua’s own hand.
Furthermore, the historical references suggest the book was in its present form
no later than Solomon’s time. (1999, 169)

Theme and Purpose


2 Describe the main theme Joshua, as leader of the nation of Israel, appears to be the main human character
and purpose for the book of and theme of the book. After Moses’s death, Joshua led Israel in crossing the
Joshua. Jordan River. They began to conquer the people of Canaan and settled in the land
as their home. Geisler believes that the book covers twenty-five to thirty years of
Israel’s history (1981, 83). Thus, the theme and purpose of the book of Joshua is to
demonstrate three things: (1) God kept His promise to Abraham involving the land
of Canaan, (2) God, though rich in mercy, eventually judges sin as an act of justice,
and (3) God judges sin in all nations—Canaan as well as Israel.
64 Old Testament Survey

Setting: Conditions in Canaan


God’s judgment on the Canaanites came after many years of mercy. Men
like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had built altars to the true God there. Israel’s
patriarchs demonstrated to the Canaanites the worship of the one true God. Yet
the Bible indicates that at the time of Abraham, the sins of the Amorites were
not yet complete (Genesis 15:16). While the Israelites tarried in Egypt for four
hundred years, the Canaanites became more evil.
3 What were the physical The peoples of Canaan had turned away from God and created their own
and religious conditions in idols. The Canaanites were polytheistic, meaning they worshipped many different
Canaan? gods. Their chief god was El, who was called “father,” “bull,” and “creator.”
They also worshipped Asherah, the “wife” of El, and called El’s chief son Baal,
which means “lord” (1 Kings 18). They thought that Baal reigned as king of the
gods and that he controlled heaven, earth, and childbirth.
The cruel and evil nature of these gods was reflected in the Canaanites’
religious customs. Archaeologists believe that they sacrificed their children,
consorted with religious prostitutes, and worshipped snakes. Moses was deeply
aware that the Canaanites could and would lead Israel into sin, so he warned the
Israelites to destroy these wicked people completely.
The war between Israel and Canaan was God’s tool of judgment on the
Canaanites. Through the conquest of Canaan, God took back the land that
belonged to Him and judged those who chose not to honor Him.
A Canaanite city was often built on a hill with a tall, thick wall around
it to make the city secure. The ruler of a city governed both the city and the
surrounding area. People in a walled city could fight off an enemy for a long
time if they had enough food and water. As a result, it seemed difficult for the
Israelites to succeed in conquering Canaan. However, God had a plan!

Joshua the Person


According to Numbers 13:16, Joshua was first called Hoshea, which means
“Yahweh has saved.” But Moses changed his name to Joshua, a Hebrew word
that means “the Lord is salvation.” The name Jesus comes from the Greek form
of a shortened version of this word.
4 Explain why Joshua Joshua was a well-trained leader. Having once been a slave in Egypt, he
was an excellent choice for witnessed the miracles God performed in delivering Israel. Joshua was present
leadership in conquering with Moses and participated in several key developments in the unfolding
Canaan.
of the Old Testament story. Before Moses died, he laid his hands on Joshua.
God’s Spirit came upon Joshua, enabling and empowering him to lead Israel
(Numbers 27:18–23; Deuteronomy 34:9).

Outline
I. Entering Canaan, 1–4
A. Joshua becomes the leader (1)
B. Two spies go to Jericho (2)
C. Crossing the Jordan (3)
D. Setting up a memorial (4)
II. Conquering Canaan, 5–12
A. Preparing for the battles (5)
B. Central battles: Jericho and Ai (6–8)
Conquest and Life in Canaan (Joshua–1 Samuel) 65

C. Southern battles: Amorite allies (9)


D. Northern battles: Canaanite allies (11:1–15)
E. Summary of the victories (11:16–12:24)
III. Settling Canaan, 13–24
A. The plan for dividing (13–14)
B. The place for each tribe (15–19)
C. Cities for Levites and for refuge (20–21)
D. Farewell and death of Joshua (22–24)

Entering Canaan (Joshua 1–4)


At God’s appointed time, Israel entered the Promised Land. The divine promise
of success in conquering Canaan depended on obedience to the given Law. Thus,
4.1.2
OBJECTIVE
Joshua began to lead the nation of Israel under the authority and presence of God.
Joshua sent two spies to Jericho on the west side of the Jordan River. From a
summarize the process of woman named Rahab, the spies learned that the Canaanites were afraid of Israel.
entering, conquering, and Word of God’s great power had reached the people of Canaan; they knew that
dividing canaan. God had assisted Israel in winning many battles. Rahab demonstrated great faith
in God and hid the spies in her house until they were safe. As a result, her life
5 Describe the miracle of
was later spared when Jericho was destroyed.
entering Canaan as told in
Joshua 4. After the spies returned to Joshua with their report, a divine miracle facilitated
the Israelites’ crossing the Jordan River (Joshua 3–4). Each tribe carried one large
stone out of the river, and Joshua used the stones to build a memorial, a reminder
that God had rolled back the waters of the Jordan.

Conquering Canaan (Joshua 5–12)


6 The battles to conquer The book of Joshua vividly describes the battles Israel fought, which are
Canaan were divided into generally divided into the central battles (6–8), southern battles (9–10), and
what three campaigns? northern battles (11–12). (Some scholars outline the battles and chapters
differently, but this is the outline we will use for this course.) Dyer and Merrill
describe the strategy behind Joshua’s campaigns:
7 How was Joshua’s Joshua’s military strategy has long been admired as a model of intelligence and
military strategy described? efficiency. Simply put, it was one of divide and conquer. Canaan consisted of
two major power blocs, the Amorites to the south and Canaanites to the north.
If Joshua could drive a wedge between them he could prevent their forming an
alliance against him and thus could dispose of them each in turn. But this wedge
could be effected only by first penetrating into Canaan’s central highlands, a
task that required bringing Jericho and other strongholds under Israelite control.
(2001, 167)
8 What famous biblical Two famous biblical stories occur in the central campaign. The first conveys
story is told in Joshua 6? the defeat of the city of Jericho through the unusual means of marching around
the city and blowing trumpets (Joshua 5:13–6:27). The second story (7–8)
describes the defeat of the city of Ai and the sin of Achan. Achan’s sin caused
Israel to lose the first battle with Ai. When the sin was dealt with, however, God
granted Israel the victory.
The Israelites’ successful central campaign led to their deception by the
Gibeonites, who formed coalitions to protect themselves. Joshua foolishly made a
pact with them without first consulting God. All leaders in the Bible, while having
good leadership qualities, sometimes made wrong decisions. Joshua’s error was
66 Old Testament Survey

unfortunate because just prior to the defeat of Jericho, “the Lord revealed to Joshua
that because the battle was His, only His methods could bring success” (Dyer and
Merrill 2001, 167, 169). When Joshua discovered the truth, he made the citizens of
Gibeon slaves, cursing them to “serve as woodcutters and water carriers” (9:23).
Later, when Gibeon was attacked, Israel came to fight and destroy the
Amorites. During the battle, Joshua prayed that the sun would stand still, and
God granted his request: “The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed
going down about a full day. . . . Surely the Lord was fighting for Israel!” (10:13–
14). Having promised Joshua victory in this battle (10:8), the Lord also “hurled
large hailstones” on the Amorites, killing many (10:11).
In the central battles, then, Israel defeated Jericho and Ai. The southern battles
involved the Gibeonites’ deception of Israel and the defeat of the Amorites. In
the northern battles, Joshua turned his attention to defeating the Canaanites and
destroying the city of Hazor. Although Israel did not fully comply with Moses’s
instruction to remove all of the Canaanites, they did take possession of all of the land.

Settling Canaan (Joshua 13–24)


The remainder of the book of Joshua describes the division of the land
(13–19) and its settlement (20–24). Again, although scholars disagree about the
chapters covering these themes, we will use the above division for the purposes
of this course.
With the exception of the Levites, each tribe received its own area of Canaan
in which to settle. As priests and ministers serving the Lord, the Levites lived
in forty-eight cities across the nation (21:1–42). The city of Shiloh became the
religious center for Israel, and they set up the tabernacle there (18:1). Part of the
land division also involved the settlement of six cities of refuge, with three on the
east side and three on the west side of the Jordan River.
9 Describe briefly the topic For many years, the Israelites enjoyed some peace from their enemies and
and main occurrences of followed the Lord their God (22:1–23:1). Before Joshua died, he called all Israel
Joshua 22–24. together and spoke a farewell. He reminded them that God had called Abraham
out of idolatry and warned them always to fear and obey God (23–24). The
people pledged to serve the Lord and obey Him.

4.2
Judges: Settling Canaan
While the theme of the land settlement continues in the book of Judges, the
LESSON Judges account “emphasizes how much of the land was not conquered. It tells
how most of the tribes failed to take over their territories.” The book “begins with
a rather lengthy summary of the conquest of the land of Canaan” (Barnes 2003,
380) and details a volatile time in Israel’s history.
4.2.1
OBJECTIVE
explain israel’s cycle of Authorship and Date
failure during the time of Determining the human author of the book of Judges is difficult due to a lack
the judges, and give an of internal evidence in both the book itself and the complete biblical text. As a
example. result, many conservative scholars have concluded that the author is anonymous.
However, there is some evidence that Samuel may have authored the book:
Conquest and Life in Canaan (Joshua–1 Samuel) 67

According to the Babylonian Talmud (Baba Bathra 14b), Samuel wrote Judges
as well as 1 and 2 Samuel. Inasmuch as everything in the book chronologically
precedes Samuel’s death, this is a reasonable suggestion. The book itself offers
no clue to its authorship, however, nor is there internal witness to it elsewhere
in the Bible. It seems best to leave it as an anonymous composition. (Dyer and
Merrill 2001, 179)
The statement “In those days Israel had no king” occurs four times in Judges
(17:6; 18:1; 19:1; 21:25) and suggests that Judges was written after Saul became king
in 1050 BC. Since David took Jerusalem away from the Jebusites about 1000 BC
(2 Samuel 5:7), it is possible that Judges was written between 1050 and 1000 BC.
The title of the book describes those who ruled after Joshua. While it
appears that some of the judges ruled simultaneously, the book of Judges covers
approximately 325 years (1375–1050 BC). After this period, Eli and Samuel each
served forty years as judge and priest (1 Samuel 1–9). Taking this into account,
one could say that the period of judges lasted about four hundred years, as did the
period of the kings. During those four hundred years, Israel was a group of tribes,
and each tribe governed itself (Judges 2:10–14).

Outline
I. Conditions in the Time of the Judges, 1:1–3:6
A. Areas not conquered (1:1–2:5)
B. Israel’s cycle of failure (2:6–3:6)
II. Six Major Judges Who Delivered Israel, 3:7–16:31
A. Othniel—from Mesopotamia (3:7–11)
B. Ehud—from Moab (3:12–30)
C. Deborah and Barak—from Canaan (4–5)
D. Gideon—from Midian (6–8)
E. Contrast: Abimelech—the anti-judge (9)
F. Jephthah—from Ammon (10:6–12:7)
G. Samson—from Philistia (13–16)
III. A Time of Confusion, 17–21
A. Micah and his idolatry (17)
B. The Danites and their relocation (18)
C. Sin and civil war (19–21)

Conditions in Israel (Judges 1:1–3:6)


10 What was Israel’s cycle The book of Judges serves two purposes: (1) it records the history of Israel
of failure during the time of between Joshua and Samuel, and (2) it reveals the spiritual cycle of Israel in
the judges? Canaan. Israel consistently refused to obey God and became enamored with
idols and immorality. As a result, God sent other nations to conquer them. Then,
after some years of slavery, Israel would cry out to God for deliverance, and God
would honor their prayer by sending deliverers or judges. Although they would
return to God and worship Him for a time, they would soon return to idolatry and
continuous sin, restarting the unfortunate cycle.
As we learned in the book of Joshua, God had instructed Israel to remove
all their enemies from the land, but they failed to fully obey. Some Canaanites
remained in the land and caused God’s people many problems (Judges 2:1–3).
68 Old Testament Survey

Although at times the Canaanites worked for Israel and paid taxes, whenever the
Israelites turned away from God, their enemies conquered them.

4.2.2 Six Major Judges and Abimelech (Judges 3:7–16:31)


OBJECTIVE
comment on each of the In the context of this period of Israel’s history,
six major judges and the word judges refers not so much to those who presided over trials at court but
abimelech. rather to men and women raised up by the Spirit of God to establish and maintain
domestic law and order, adherence to covenant principles, and deliverance from
foreign oppression. They were chosen arbitrarily by the Lord with no particular
notice given of their qualifications or even their character. Their office furthermore
was non-hereditary. A judge’s children did not automatically succeed him or her
in office. The point clearly being made is that the Lord alone is King and that He
can and does choose the most surprising channels through whom to administer His
dominion. (Dyer and Merrill 2001, 185)
A total of thirteen judges are mentioned in Judges, including six minor judges
that the book says little about and six major judges (Raccah 2003, 409):

Six Minor Judges Six Major Judges


Judge Reference Judge Reference
Shamgar 3:31 Othniel 3:7–11

Tola 10:1–2 Ehud 3:12–30

Jair 10:3–5 Deborah (and 4:1–5:31


Barak)

Ibzan 12:8–10 Gideon 6–8

Elon 12:11–12 Jephthah 10:6–12:7

Abdon 12:13–15 Samson 13–16

Highlights from the lives of the major judges are as follows:


• othniel: deliverance from mesopotamia (3:7–11). Like his uncle Caleb,
Othniel was anointed by the Spirit of the Lord, who enabled him to war
against the king of Aram and to secure forty years of peace for Israel.
• ehud: deliverance from moab (3:12–30). Commissioned to present a
tribute to the king of Moab, Ehud, “a left-handed man,” hid a double-
edged sword under his clothing and killed the king when they were
alone. The Moabite king was so obese that his fat closed over the sword,
including the hilt. Before the king’s servants could discover his death,
Ehud escaped and rallied the Israelites to conquer Moab.
• deborah and Barak: deliverance from canaan (4:1–5:31). When
Deborah prophesied that God would give Canaan’s army into Barak’s
hand, Barak insisted that Deborah accompany him. As a result, Deborah
told him that a woman would receive the honor for ensuring the defeat.
Barak and his men fought and defeated Canaan, but the commander of the
Canaanite army escaped to the tent of Heber the Kenite and his wife Jael.
After giving the commander food and drink, Jael killed him while he slept.
Deborah and Barak celebrated the victory with a song (5:1–31).
• Gideon: deliverance from midian (6–8). One notable aspect of Gideon’s
story is the number of times he asks for and/or receives confirmation and
encouragement from God: (a) to verify who He was, the Lord consumed
Conquest and Life in Canaan (Joshua–1 Samuel) 69

Gideon’s offering with fire (6:17–24); (b) twice, God confirmed His
promise of deliverance through Gideon’s fleece and the adjacent ground
(6:36–40); (c) knowing Gideon’s fear, the Lord sent him and his servant
to overhear a Midianite’s dream and the prophecy of Israel’s victory
(7:9–15). Despite Gideon’s foolish decisions later on, the Lord used his
leadership to deliver the Israelites from their oppression under Midian.
• Jephthah: deliverance from ammon (10:6–12:7). Because Jephthah was the
offspring of his father’s illegitimate affair, Jephthah’s brothers drove him
away from the family. However, when Jephthah later became “a mighty
warrior,” these same brothers sought his help in fighting the Ammonites and
promised to make him leader over all of Gilead. The Spirit of the Lord came
upon Jephthah as he went to battle, and he conquered the enemies. Before
the fight, Jephthah had vowed that if victorious, he would offer as a sacrifice
to God whatever came out of his house to meet him. When his daughter—
his only child—came out to greet him, Jephthah was in anguish, yet he had
no choice but to fulfill his vow and sacrifice his daughter.
• samson: deliverance from Philistia (13–16). Samson is perhaps one of
the better-known judges because of his unusual physical strength yet
weakness for Philistine women. The Spirit of the Lord gave Samson
strength to do many things, including tearing a lion apart with his bare
hands, striking thirty men from Ashkelon, and using a donkey’s jawbone
to kill a thousand men. After falling prey to the Philistines’ schemes
through Delilah, Samson prayed for supernatural strength one last time,
and the Lord enabled him to push a temple’s pillars so that the building
collapsed, killing himself as well as thousands of Philistines.
11 Who was Abimelech, and The remaining leader is Abimelech, also known as the anti-judge because he
what sets him apart from the was the opposite of the other judges God appointed. Unlike the six major judges,
other judges? he did not deliver Israel from any enemies, and unlike the six minor judges, his
story is given an entire chapter (Judges 9).

A Time of Confusion (Judges 17–21)


The final five chapters of Judges are sometimes considered appendixes. “They
narrate two horrible episodes that illustrate one of the darkest periods of Israel’s
national history: Micah and the migration of Dan (chapters 17–18) and the rape of
the Levite’s concubine and the subsequent intertribal war (chapters 19–21). Here
we read of idolatry, conspiracy, senseless violence, and sexual degeneracy” (Arnold
and Beyer 1999, 184). The statement “In those days Israel had no king; everyone
did as he saw fit” (Judges 17:6; 21:25) aptly describes this period of Israel’s history.

4.3
LESSON

4.3.1
Ruth: Providential Grace
While Judges ends on a negative note, Ruth presents a positive story of
lavish grace and providence in the midst of tragic life circumstances. The
story centers around three primary individuals: Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz,
OBJECTIVE though many consider Ruth to be the main character of the book (Arnold and
summarize the story of Beyer 1999, 187).
ruth, and apply lessons Ruth was a godly woman from the land of Moab. While the Law forbade
for us today. her to be part of the nation of Israel, her story demonstrates that God’s mercy
70 Old Testament Survey

is extended to every nation. Ruth, like Rahab, was a Gentile, and both were
ancestors of the Jewish Messiah.

Authorship
As with Judges, while the book of Ruth contains no internal evidence
concerning the author, Jewish tradition seems to attribute its authorship to Samuel:
The attachment of the Book of Ruth to the Book of Judges in the twenty-
two book arrangement of the Hebrew Bible implies common authorship or
compilation of the two books, supported by the Babylonian Talmud as well
(Baba Bathra 14b). There is no reason to reject the Jewish tradition that Samuel
was responsible for the whole, though admittedly there is no explicit internal
evidence to support it. (Dyer and Merrill 2001, 197)

Outline
In Ruth, “the four chapters are written almost like a four-act play. Each
chapter (or scene) has a clear opening and concluding paragraph, and each
revolves around an important dialogue. The chapters are organized around a
‘problem-solution’ framework” (Arnold and Beyer 1999, 187–188). This short
book can be outlined as follows:
I. Naomi and Ruth Move from Moab to Bethlehem, 1
II. Ruth Meets Boaz in His Field, 2
III. Ruth Talks with Boaz at His Threshing Floor, 3
IV. Boaz Redeems and Marries Ruth, 4:1–17
V. Genealogy: The Messianic Line Is Traced from Perez to David, 4:18–22

Setting
From the beginning phrase of Ruth 1:1, “In the days when the judges ruled,”
we know that the story of Ruth comes from the time of the judges. It opens as
a Jewish couple, Elimelech and Naomi, are leaving Judah because famine has
forced them to look for food. They travel to Moab, a nation east of the Dead Sea.
12 What is the importance The Hebrew names Elimelech and Naomi are rich in meaning. While Eli-
of the story of Ruth, and how melech means “my God is king,” Naomi means “pleasant.” Ironically, many of
does it apply to us? Naomi’s life experiences were not pleasant but bitter. Elimelech died in Moab
along with their two sons, who had married Moabite women. In fact, when she
eventually returned to Israel, Naomi said, “Don’t call me Naomi, . . . . Call me
Mara,” which means “bitter” (Ruth 1:20). However, the story of Naomi and Ruth
reveals that God is the Sovereign King over all and extends His mercy to all,
specifically to those who experience great suffering.

From Moab to Bethlehem (Ruth 1)


Ruth 1 describes Naomi’s becoming a widow with no children. Naomi
encouraged her two daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth, to remain in Moab while she
prepared to return home. Although Orpah agreed and stayed with her people and her
gods (1:15), Ruth refused to leave Naomi. In her impassioned speech, she pledged,
“Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my
people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried”
(1:16–17). Naomi consented, and Ruth accompanied her back to Bethlehem.
Conquest and Life in Canaan (Joshua–1 Samuel) 71

In Boaz’s Field (Ruth 2)


After their return, Ruth went out to glean (gather grain left by reapers) so
that she and Naomi would have something to eat. The Israelite law commanded
the harvesters to leave some grain around the edges of the field for the poor,
the widows, and the non-Jews living among them, all of which described Ruth
(Leviticus 19:9–10; 23:22; Deuteronomy 24:19).
God’s providence led Ruth to glean in the field of Boaz, who was a relative of
Naomi. He was second in the genealogical line as Ruth’s kinsman-redeemer. The
purpose of the kinsman-redeemer was to protect the interests of needy members of the
immediate family as well as other relatives. Responsibilities included (1) marrying
a widow and providing an heir for a brother who had died, (2) redeeming or buying
back land that a poor relative had sold to someone outside the family, (3) redeeming a
relative who had been sold into slavery, and (4) avenging the killing of a relative.

With Boaz at His Threshing Floor (Ruth 3)


Next, the author describes Naomi’s counsel to Ruth to express interest in
marrying Boaz, her kinsman-redeemer. As Boaz was sleeping at the threshing floor
to protect his crops, Ruth lay nearby, at his feet, to demonstrate that she wanted to
marry him. Boaz agreed by spreading the corner of his garment over her, a cultural
custom that symbolized his willingness to marry, protect, and care for her.

Of Kinsman-Redemption and the Messianic Line (Ruth 4)


Ruth 4 recounts the transaction of buying back the property Naomi had sold.
After meeting with the nearest kinsman-redeemer, Boaz bought the property,
returned it to Elimelech’s family, and married Ruth.
Boaz and Ruth had a son named Obed, who was the father of Jesse, who was
the father of King David. Through David, God established the lineage through
which the Messiah and our own Kinsman-Redeemer came. Thus, through Jesus,
God’s mercy and grace in Ruth’s life extends all the way to believers today.

4.4
LESSON 1 Samuel: Kingdom Beginnings
In the Hebrew canon, 1 and 2 Samuel are combined into one book. First
Samuel records the point at which Israel turned from judges to kings, covering
three major leadership changes in approximately one hundred years—from
4.4.1
OBJECTIVE Samuel’s birth to Saul’s death (1105–1010 BC). It provides a historical link
analyze the setting, author, between the book of Judges and the books of the kings.
and purpose of 1 samuel.
Authorship
13 What does 1 Samuel
record, and over what period
The Babylonian Talmud credits Samuel with authorship of the two books that
of time? bear his name. However, Samuel dies and his death is mentioned twice before
14 Explain the title of the end of 1 Samuel. Most likely, his prominence in the first book was considered
1 Samuel. reasonable evidence for the title of both books (Raccah 2003, 410–411).
72 Old Testament Survey

Outline
I. Eli as Priest and Judge, 1–4
A. Birth of Samuel (1:1–2:11)
B. Sins of Eli and his sons (2:12–26)
C. Two warnings to Eli (2:27–3:21)
D. Judgment of Eli (4)
II. Samuel as Prophet, Priest, and Judge, 5–8
A. The ark restored to Israel (5:1–7:2)
B. Revival and victory under Samuel (7:3–8:3)
C. Israel asks for a king (8:4–22)
III. Saul as Israel’s First King, 9–15
A. Saul is anointed by Samuel (9:1–10:16)
B. Saul is praised after a victory (10:17–11:11)
C. Saul becomes king (11:12–12:25)
D. Saul fails to wait for Samuel (13:1–15)
E. Saul defeats the Philistines and others (13:16–14:52)
F. Saul disobeys at the Amalekite victory (15:1–35)
IV. David as National Hero, 16–31
A. David is anointed and kills Goliath (16–17)
B. Saul seeks to kill David; Jonathan befriends him (18–20)
C. David flees, and Saul hunts for him (21–26)
D. The Philistines give David refuge (27)
E. Saul consults a witch at Endor (28)
F. David recovers his family and wealth (29–30)
G. Saul dies (31)

4.4.2 Eli (1 Samuel 1–4)


OBJECTIVE
summarize lessons from First Samuel relates several thrilling stories within the context of Israel’s
the lives of eli, samuel, continuing struggle with the Philistines, which lasted for approximately four
saul, and david. hundred years. The book opens by telling us that Eli was the high priest and Hannah
was praying at the temple because of her childlessness. The high priest wrongly
concluded that Hannah was drunk because her lips were moving but her voice was
silent. When Hannah corrected him, Eli blessed her, saying, “May the God of Israel
grant you what you have asked of him” (1:17). God did answer Hannah’s prayer,
and Samuel was born. Some scholars believe that Hannah’s prayer of rejoicing after
Samuel’s birth is a model for Mary’s Magnificat in Luke 1:46–55.
Meanwhile, God became angry because Eli did not discipline his sons. The
consistent wickedness of Eli’s sons contrasted with Samuel’s desire to please
God. God warned Eli twice before exercising judgment. The Philistines crushed
Israel in battle, stole the ark, and killed both of Eli’s sons. Eli was so shocked by
the terrible report that he fell backwards and died.

Samuel (1 Samuel 5–8)


15 How does Scripture treat
Samuel, and what were some Samuel was not only the last of the judges to rule Israel but also a prophet.
of his accomplishments? Although he was not from Aaron’s family, he became the high priest as well.
Conquest and Life in Canaan (Joshua–1 Samuel) 73

Samuel taught, offered sacrifices, and cleansed the land from idols. Scripture
commends Samuel for acting in a godly manner. While serving a rebellious
people, he remained faithful and righteous.
When the nation of Israel saw that the nations around them had kings, they
wanted a king as well. Samuel instinctively realized that a human king would
become an idol in the eyes of Israel, replacing the true King, the one true God.
Nevertheless, even after Samuel’s dialogues with God, Israel rejected both
Samuel’s and God’s advice.

Saul (1 Samuel 9–15)


16 What is the one In spite of Israel’s rejection of clear advice, God guided Samuel to Saul.
characteristic that applied Samuel anointed Saul as king privately and then publicly announced it to all the
only to the reigns of Saul and people at Mizpah. “The king was the anointed of Yahweh. The sacredness of the
David?
office of king is the one element that characterized the reigns of both Saul and
David. Only in the stories of Saul and David are we told that the Spirit came
upon them during their anointing” (Raccah 2003, 453).
However, although God selected and anointed Saul for kingship, Saul had
many character weaknesses. At Gilgal, when Samuel did not arrive on time to
offer sacrifices, Saul grew impatient and disobeyed God by offering the sacrifices
himself (13:8–14). Later, Saul again disobeyed God by not completely destroying
the Amalekites as the Lord instructed. Through Samuel, God rebuked Saul for his
arrogance and rebellion (15:1–23). Saul’s pride became his downfall.
Saul’s son Jonathan, however, had tremendous faith in God. Stating, “Nothing
can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few,” Jonathan led his
armor-bearer in a daring attack against a Philistine outpost. After scaling a cliff,
the two of them killed about twenty Philistines. God honored Jonathan’s faith and
courage by sending a panic throughout the rest of the Philistine army (14:1–15).
Jonathan later became one of David’s best and most committed friends (18:1–4).

David (1 Samuel 16–31)


17 First Samuel 16:5–13 In rejecting Saul as king, God “sought out a man after his own heart and
emphasizes which appointed him leader of his people” (13:14). Thus, David was God’s choice
characteristic of David? as Saul’s successor. As with Saul, Samuel anointed David privately; Saul was
unaware of it. Indicating why He chose David over some of David’s brothers,
God reminded Samuel that humans tend to focus on outward appearance, but
God focuses on the heart attitude (16:5–13).
David soon began serving Saul as a musician and armor-bearer, splitting his
time between Saul’s service and Jesse’s sheep (17:15). However, after killing
Goliath, the giant Philistine, David became increasingly popular in Israel, and
Saul grew dangerously jealous. Saul tried to kill David, both indirectly and
directly, but with the Lord’s help, David escaped each attempt. Finally, by way of
a message from Jonathan (20:1–42), David knew he had to flee for his life.
The remainder of 1 Samuel recounts the events of David’s flight from Saul
and Saul’s pursuit, as well as Israel’s continuing trouble with the Philistines, with
whom David had taken refuge. Before the last battle with the Philistines recorded
in 1 Samuel, Saul consulted a witch in Endor about the outcome because the Lord
did not answer him (28:6–7). He learned that Israel would be defeated and that his
kingdom would go to David, just as the Lord had promised some years before.
In the meantime, David and his men had begun to accompany the Philistines
to battle but were ordered to turn back. Finding their encampments raided and
74 Old Testament Survey

their families and possessions taken, David and his men pursued the raiders and
recovered everything. David went after the raiding party only after the Lord
assured him that he would be successful.
The final chapter of 1 Samuel records the fierce battle against the Philistines;
the deaths of Saul’s sons, including Jonathan; and Saul’s death by suicide. Yet,
despite the tragic ending and all the less-than-positive events in 1 Samuel, three
theological emphases emerge from this book:
18 What three theological First, the ancient promise of God that kings would issue from the Patriarchs
emphases are found in (Genesis 17:6; 35:11) is fulfilled. Second, the book reveals the error of
1 Samuel? attempting to run ahead of the promises of God and to bring to pass with
human effort what only God can and should do. . . . Third, the book teaches the
principle that the all-wise and all-powerful God is Sovereign and when nations
or individuals submit to His dominion, there is great blessing. (Dyer and Merrill
2001, 205–206)
Conquest and Life in Canaan (Joshua–1 Samuel) 75

T Test Yourself
Circle the letter of the best answer.
4
CHAPTER

1. One purpose of the book of Joshua is to 6. Jephthah helped to deliver Israel from
a) show God’s provision and faithfulness. a) Moab.
b) recount the Israelites’ journey to Mount Sinai. b) Canaan.
c) demonstrate that God kept His promise to c) Philistia.
Abraham. d) Ammon.
d) summarize events that occurred at Sinai,
7. naomi literally means
Kadesh, and Moab.
a) “bitter.”
2. The Canaanites’ believed that heaven, earth, and b) “pleasant.”
childbirth were controlled by c) “my God is king.”
a) Baal. d) “barren.”
b) Asherah.
8. The book of Ruth communicates the message
c) Chemosh.
of God’s
d) El.
a) forgiveness and restoration.
3. Joshua’s military strategy for conquering Canaan b) desire for purity and holiness.
is known as c) redeeming grace.
a) blitzkrieg. d) judgment.
b) guerrilla warfare.
9. Who was the last judge to rule Israel?
c) surround and conquer.
a) Samuel
d) divide and conquer.
b) Gideon
4. The book of Judges emphasizes the Israelites’ c) Samson
a) steadfastness and faithfulness. d) Jephthah
b) complete fall into idolatry.
10. What characterized the reigns of both Saul
c) failure to conquer much of the land.
and David?
d) success in conquering Canaan.
a) Peace with surrounding nations
5. Which major judge was Caleb’s nephew and b) The sacredness of the office of king
fought the king of Aram? c) Their wholehearted service to God
a) Ehud d) Their godly character
b) Othniel
c) Jephthah
d) Samson
76 Old Testament Survey

Responses to Interactive Questions


Chapter 4
Some of these responses may include information that is supplemental to the IST. These questions are intended
to produce reflective thinking beyond the course content and your responses may vary from these examples.
1 Do we know who wrote the book of Joshua? Explain your answer.
Although Joshua 24:26 suggests that Joshua wrote at least part of the book, the account of Joshua’s death and
other sections indicate a different author. The common phrase until this day suggests that an extended amount
of time had elapsed since the events described. The best conclusion may be that the book was written by
eyewitnesses, perhaps including Joshua himself.
2 Describe the main theme and purpose for the book of Joshua.
The theme and purpose of Joshua is to demonstrate that God kept His promise to Abraham involving the land
of Canaan. The book also demonstrates that God, though rich in mercy, eventually judges sin as an act of
justice. Also, Joshua shows that God judges sin in all nations.
3 What were the physical and religious conditions in Canaan?
A Canaanite city was often built on a hill and had a tall, thick wall around it to help make the city secure. The cruel,
evil nature of the many gods the Canaanites worshipped was reflected in the religious customs. Archaeologists
believe that they sacrificed their children, consorted with religious prostitutes, and worshipped snakes.
4 Explain why Joshua was an excellent choice for leadership in conquering Canaan.
Joshua was a former slave, well-trained leader, and witness to the miracles with which God delivered Israel. As
Moses’s aide, Joshua participated in several key developments in the Exodus. Before Moses died, he laid his
hands on Joshua, who received God’s Spirit, enabling and empowering him to lead Israel.
5 Describe the miracle of entering Canaan as told in Joshua 4.
God rolled back the waters of the Jordan River, enabling the Israelites to cross in safety.
6 The battles to conquer Canaan were divided into what three campaigns?
The central battles involved defeating Jericho and Ai (6–8); the southern battles involved the defeat of the
Amorites and the Gibeonites’ deception of Israel (9); and the northern battles involved defeating the Canaanites
and the destruction of the city of Hazor (11–12).
7 How was Joshua’s military strategy described?
“Divide and conquer.” His armies drove a wedge between the Amorites to the south and the Canaanites to the north.
8 What famous biblical story is told in Joshua 6?
Joshua’s army defeated Jericho through the unusual means of marching around the city and blowing trumpets.
9 Describe briefly the topic and main occurrences of Joshua 22–24.
Israel enjoyed a time of peace and commitment to God. Before Joshua died, he called all Israel together, reminding
them that God had called Abraham out of idolatry and warning them to always fear and obey God.
10 What was Israel’s cycle of failure during the time of the judges?
Israel refused to obey God and became enamored with idols and immorality. God sent other nations to conquer
them. After some years of slavery, Israel cried out for deliverance, and God sent deliverers. They returned to
God and worshipped Him, but eventually returned to idolatry and sin, again setting the cycle in motion.
Conquest and Life in Canaan (Joshua–1 Samuel) 77

11 Who was Abimelech, and what sets him apart from the other judges?
Abimelech was the opposite of the type of judge God usually appointed. Unlike the six major judges, he did not
deliver Israel from any enemies, and unlike the six minor judges, there is an entire chapter about him.
12 What is the importance of the story of Ruth, and how does it apply to us?
The story of Ruth reveals that God is the sovereign King over all and extends His mercy to all, specifically to
those who experience great suffering—a great application for believers today.
13 What does 1 Samuel record, and over what period of time?
First Samuel describes Israel’s transition from judges to kings and covers about one hundred years from
Samuel’s birth to Saul’s death.
14 Explain the title of 1 Samuel.
Although the Babylonian Talmud attributes authorship to Samuel, his death is mentioned twice before the end
of the first book. Most likely, his prominence in 1 Samuel was considered reasonable evidence for the title of
both books.
15 How does Scripture treat Samuel, and what were some of his accomplishments?
Scripture commends Samuel for acting in a godly manner. Samuel taught, offered sacrifices, and cleansed the
land from idols.
16 What is the one characteristic that applied only to the reigns of Saul and David?
Only in the stories of Saul and David are we told that the Spirit came upon them during their anointing.
17 First Samuel 16:5–13 emphasizes which characteristic of David?
His heart attitude, which pleased God
18 What three theological emphases are found in 1 Samuel?
(1) The fulfillment of God’s ancient promise that kings would issue from the patriarchs; (2) the error of trying
to run ahead of God’s promises and attempting with human effort what only God can and should do; (3) the
principle that the all-wise and all powerful God is sovereign and that nations or individuals who submit to His
dominion enjoy great blessing
5
78 Old Testament Survey

The Israelite Empire (2 Samuel,


CHAPTER 1 and 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles,
2 Chronicles 1–9)
Along with 2 Samuel, the books of Kings and Chronicles highlight three
phases in Israel’s history: the united kingdom, the divided kingdom, and the
surviving kingdom. Despite occasional hostility, the nation remained united
under both David’s wartime rule and Solomon’s peaceful leadership. However,
soon after Solomon’s death, the tribes separated into the Northern Kingdom
(Israel) and the Southern Kingdom (Judah). While David’s descendants ruled
Judah (discussed in the next chapter), the Northern Kingdom was ruled by
increasingly wicked kings and did not last long.

Lesson 5.1 David’s Reign (2 Samuel, 1 Chronicles)


Objectives
5.1.1 analyze the political, spiritual, and military successes of david’s reign.
5.1.2 summarize david’s great sin and the way it affected him, his family, and
his kingdom.

Lesson 5.2 Solomon’s Reign (1 Kings 1–11; 2 Chronicles 1–9)


Objectives
5.2.1 describe solomon’s beginning, building, and international relations.
5.2.2 explain solomon’s disobedience and judgment.

Lesson 5.3 The Northern Kingdom (1 Kings 12–2 Kings 17)


Objectives
5.3.1 Name the five dynasties of the Northern Kingdom.
5.3.2 relate the key rulers and major events of each northern kingdom dynasty.
The Israelite Empire (2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles 1–9) 79

5.1
David’s Reign (2 Samuel, 1 Chronicles)
Author and Date
LESSON
In the previous chapter, we learned that 1 and 2 Samuel were together as
one book in the Hebrew Scriptures and that the author of the books is unknown.
While 1 Samuel covers about one hundred years from Samuel’s birth to Saul’s
5.1.1
OBJECTIVE
death (1105–1010 BC), 2 Samuel confines its coverage to David’s rule, a period
of forty years (1010–970 BC). Second Samuel may have been written late in the
analyze the political,
tenth century BC, after David’s death.
spiritual, and military
successes of david’s reign. Outline
The rule of David, whom many regard as the greatest of Israel’s kings, is
described in 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles. Providing many details of David’s reign,
2 Samuel is the only book that tells about the sin and rebellion in David’s family.
Meanwhile, 1 Chronicles lists the ancestors of the twelve tribes and shows that
David began a dynasty in Israel; it emphasizes David as a leader in politics and
religion and records his work in preparing to build the temple.
Event or Topic 2 Samuel 1 Chron.
I. David’s Political Success 1–5 1–10
A. Genealogies –– 1–9
B. David mourns Saul’s death 1 10
C. David’s seven years as king of Judah 2–4 ––
D. David as king over all Israel 5:1–5 ––
E. David conquers Jerusalem and makes 5:6–10 ––
it the national capital
II. David’s Spiritual Success 6–7 11–17
A. David makes Jerusalem a religious 6 13–16
center
B. God’s covenant with David 7 17
III. David’s Military Success 8–10 18–19
A. Victories over Philistia, Moab, Zobah, 8 18
Aram, and Edom
B. David and Mephibosheth 9 ––
C. Victory over Ammon 10 19
IV. David’s Sin as King 11:1–12:14 ––
A. David’s adultery with Bathsheba 11 ––
B. David’s rebuke from Nathan 12 ––
V. Judgment on David’s Household 12:15–15:6 ––
A. Death of David’s son from adultery 12:15–23 ––
B. Amnon’s rape of Tamar, his half-sister 13:1–22 ––
C. Absalom’s revenge and deceit 13:23–15:6 ––
VI. Judgment on David’s Kingdom 15–20 ––
A. Absalom steals the kingdom 15–17 ––
B. Absalom is murdered; David mourns 18:1–19:8 ––
C. David is restored; partly forgives 19:9–20:26 ––
Shimei
80 Old Testament Survey

VII. David’s Last Years 21–24 21–22; 29


A. Three-year famine 21:1–14 ––
B. War with the Philistines 21:15–22 20:4–8
C. David’s psalm, last words, and mighty 22–23 ––
men
D. David’s sin in counting his fighting 24 21:1–27
men; God’s judgment and mercy
E. David’s preparations for Solomon to –– 22
build the temple
F. David’s death –– 29:22–30

David’s Reign (2 Samuel 1–10; 1 Chronicles 1–19)


Following Saul’s death, the commander of his army, Abner, helped to crown
Saul’s son Ish-Bosheth as king of Israel. Because scholars disagree about time
factors in Ish-Bosheth’s reign and other aspects, we will focus on David’s reign.
David was living in Philistia when he heard of Saul’s death. After mourning
for Saul and Jonathan, David returned to Hebron, where the people of Judah
anointed him as their king. Tension and hostility arose until the nation of Israel
began to realize that David did not hate Saul’s family and had no plans to harm
Ish-Bosheth or Abner. In fact, David initiated peace talks between the tribes.
Eventually, after Abner and Ish-Bosheth were killed without David’s approval,
David became king over all the tribes of Israel.

David’s Political Success (2 Samuel 1–5; 1 Chronicles 1–10)


1 Describe some examples As the new king, David sought a new capital city that was more centrally
of David’s political successes. located and politically neutral; thus, he set his sights on Jerusalem. The Jebusites
who controlled Jerusalem were Canaanites whom Israel had never driven out.
Also, Jerusalem sat high on a hill and was surrounded by tall, thick walls. The
Jebusites were confident that their city was impenetrable, but David’s army
entered Jerusalem through its water tunnel. Joab led the army in defeating the
Jebusites and, as a reward for this military victory, became the commander of
David’s army. Many Old Testament writings call Jerusalem the “City of David”
(1 Chronicles 11:7). The city is also called Zion, which perhaps is the name of the
fort David took from the Jebusites.
As David organized the nation from Jerusalem, the city became the place of
authority for all Israel. The loyal men who assisted David when Saul tried to kill
him became leaders in the new kingdom. Later, with materials from Tyre, David
built a palace for himself in Jerusalem (2 Samuel 5:11–12).
Although the Philistines had not been concerned when David was king at
Hebron, they grew alarmed when he became king of the whole nation. David
and his army’s two previous victories over the Philistines may have led to his
kingship over all Israel. After asking God for direction, David fought against
the Philistines twice more and defeated them. Before the second battle, the Lord
told David to listen for “the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees . . .
because that will mean the Lord has gone out in front of you” (2 Samuel 5:24).
God blessed David with victory because of his obedience.
The Israelite Empire (2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles 1–9) 81

David’s Spiritual Success (2 Samuel 6–7; 1 Chronicles 11–17)


Jerusalem became not only the political and geographical center of Israel
but also its religious center. In time, David brought the ark of the covenant to
Jerusalem and put it in a tent, or tabernacle. David reinstated the ministry of the
priests and Levites and led the entire nation in worshipping the one true God.
2 Why was King David not David desired to build a temple for God because he “felt the Lord deserved a
allowed to build God’s temple? better place for His name” (Arnold and Beyer 1999, 214). He was distressed that
he himself lived in a palace while the ark of the covenant remained in a tent.
When he approached the prophet Nathan about building a temple, at first
Nathan considered it a good idea and gave David the go-ahead. However, that
night, God revealed to Nathan that David’s son would be the one to build the
temple. Although David was a man after God’s own heart, he was also a warring
king and had shed much blood (1 Kings 5:3; 1 Chronicles 22:7–8). David’s son
Solomon, a man of peace, would build God’s temple. Some intentional irony
occurs in the biblical narrative as God promises to build David a “house”; that is,
He promises that David’s kingdom would continue forever (2 Samuel 7:16).
The earthly kingdom or dynasty of David did not last forever—it ended
when Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, conquered Judah and deposed its kings
(2 Chronicles 36:5–20). Instead, God’s covenant promise to David was fulfilled
in the person of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Messiah. Jesus is called “the son of
David” (Matthew 1:1) in the New Testament and is the King of kings and Lord of
lords who will rule forever.

David’s Military Success


(2 Samuel 8–10; 21–22; 1 Chronicles 18–19)
Israel became a leading nation of the Fertile Crescent in the tenth century
BC. Under both David’s and Solomon’s reign, the kingdom stretched from the
southern edge of the Negev desert to the Euphrates River of Mesopotamia.
Although the Philistines created many problems for Israel, they were masters at
craftsmanship, particularly forging iron weapons and tools. While David was hiding
from Saul in Philistia, he learned numerous things, perhaps including how to make
iron. First Chronicles 22:3 indicates that Israel used iron during David’s reign.
3 What did David do militarily David greatly improved the military strength of Israel. “David liberated
to make Israel the dominant Israel from Philistine oppression and incorporated their territories and peoples
power in western Asia? under his rule (2 Samuel 5:17–25; 2 Chronicles 18:1–2; 20:4–8). Then he started
building an extended empire. Israel became the dominant power in western Asia”
(Brueggeman 2003a, 472). His reason for conquering Edom was to extract tribute
from them and perhaps to acquire iron and copper (Deuteronomy 8:9). David also
conquered the Moabites and Amalekites, taking gold and silver from them. When
5.1.2
OBJECTIVE Syria and Ammon joined to fight against David, he defeated both of them. After
summarize david’s great sin this great victory, all the kings subject to Syria made peace with Israel and were
and the way it affected him, subject to them (2 Samuel 10:19).
his family, and his kingdom.
David’s Sin (2 Samuel 11–20)
4 What had happened in The Bible does not hide the sins of Israel’s leaders. In fact, the biblical
David’s life that might have
contributed to his sin with
narrative is quite detailed about David’s sin and shame. While 2 Samuel 1–10
Bathsheba? recounts the wonderful years of David’s success, 2 Samuel 11–24 tells of his
years of sorrow. Success can lead to spiritual danger. Once power and authority
82 Old Testament Survey

have been achieved, they can easily be abused. David’s reveling in his military,
political, and spiritual successes may have played a role in his sin.
One night David walked out on his roof because he could not sleep. Upon
noticing a beautiful woman bathing, he desired her. At his inquiry, he learned that
she was Bathsheba, the wife of one of his soldiers, Uriah. David sent for Bathsheba
and had sexual relations with her. When Bathsheba informed him that she was
pregnant, David tried to manipulate Uriah into coming home and sleeping with
Bathsheba. When that did not work, David plotted to have Uriah killed on the front
lines of war. This plot succeeded, and Bathsheba became one of David’s wives.
Displeased, “the Lord sent Nathan to David” (2 Samuel 12:1). The prophet
told David a suspenseful story about a lamb, and David became so angry that he
demanded the offending party pay restitution and die. Nathan then shocked David
with the words, “You are the man!” (12:7).
5 How did David’s sin affect Judgment came not only on David and the succeeding generations of his
his family and the nation of family but also on his kingdom (2 Samuel 12–20). This judgment was marked
Israel? by the sword as well as discord within his family. Yet God forgave David and
took away his sin (12:13). Moreover, the Bible records that the Lord loved
Solomon (12:24) and that Christ came through the lineage of David through his
relationship with Bathsheba (Matthew 1:6).
How do we balance the biblical reality about the sinful failures of leadership
with the extension of God’s grace? This theological tension exists throughout the
Old and New Testaments.
David has frequently been put high on the pedestal of a spiritual giant. Yet David
committed a number of serious errors. These came, not from ignorance of what
is right, but from being impulsively driven by the need of the moment without
reflecting on the consequences. His lies cost people their lives (1 Sam. 22); his
temper “jeopardizes” his royal destiny (1 Sam. 25); his duplicity led him to execute
civilians (1 Sam. 27); his lust entangled him in a murderous plot (2 Sam. 11); his
unwillingness to take firm disciplinary action contributed to the bloodshed within
his family (2 Sam. 13–14); and his pride brought a pestilence that devastated the
land (2 Sam. 24). Yet God chose David and affirmed that he walked in accordance
to his law. David was loyal to the Lord and recognized when he had committed sin.
A balanced view of David recognizes his godliness, but realizes that, like any of us,
he was not immune to lapses in judgment. (Hill and Walton 2000, 224)
Perhaps David’s life is one of several reasons why the New Testament exhorts
believers to “watch yourself, or you also may be tempted” (Galatians 6:1).

David’s Last Years (2 Samuel 21–24; 1 Chronicles 21–22; 29)


Throughout David’s kingship, he had been a man of war, succeeding in making
Jerusalem the capital and defeating many nations who had threatened Israel. Under
his rule, Israel rose to her greatest height. David accomplished many great things
with the Lord’s help and maintained a heart attitude that pleased God.
Yet David’s rule was not perfect or not problematic. His sin resulted in
numerous problems that plagued him for ten years. In divine judgment for one
of Saul’s long-ago misdeeds, God placed Israel under a famine for three years
(2 Samuel 21:1–14). Then, against Joab’s objections, David insisted on counting
his fighting men. This angered the Lord, who sent a plague against the nation
(2 Samuel 24; 1 Chronicles 21:1–27). When David built an altar on the threshing
floor of Araunah the Jebusite, according to God’s orders, the judgment stopped.
The Israelite Empire (2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles 1–9) 83

David spent the last ten years of his life making plans and arrangements for
Solomon to build the temple. He instructed the priests and princes to recognize
Solomon as their new king. David’s last words, recorded in 2 Samuel 23:1–7,
sound much like a prayer or a psalm although they reflect on his relationship with
God. David died after serving as king for forty years.

5.2
Solomon’s Reign (1 Kings 1–11; 2 Chronicles 1–9)
LESSON Author, Date, and Purpose
Together, the books of 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 and 2 Kings recount the
complete history of the kings, from Saul to Zedekiah, Judah’s last king, as well
as some of the better-known prophets of that time period. The author of 1 and
5.2.1
OBJECTIVE 2 Kings is unknown, but the books were likely finished about 560–550 BC.
describe solomon’s Like the books of Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings were one book in the Hebrew
beginning, building, and Scriptures. Covering a span of about four hundred years (970–560 BC), the
international relations. books were written for Jews exiled in Babylon to reveal God’s perspective on
Hebrew history and to explain reasons for the divided kingdom.
Outline
The first several chapters of 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles highlight the rule of
Solomon, David’s son. His reign can be outlined as follows:
Event or Topic 1 Kings 2 Chron.
I. Solomon Becomes King 1–4 1
A. Rise above Adonijah 1:1–2:46 ––
B. Wisdom from God 3–4 1:1–13
C. Trade and prosperity –– 1:14–17
II. Solomon’s Building Programs 5–9 2:1–8:16
A. The temple in Jerusalem 5–7 2:1–5:1
B. Solomon’s palace 7:1–8 ––
C. Dedication of the temple 8:1–9:9 5:2–7:10
D. Treaty with King Hiram of Tyre 9:10–25 ––
III. Solomon’s International Relations 9–10 8–9
A. Ships at Ezion Geber 9:26–28 8:17–18
B. Queen of Sheba 10:1–13 9:1–12
C. Money and trade 10:14–29 9:13–31
IV. Solomon’s Disobedience and Death 11 ––
A. Foreign wives and idolatry 11:1–8 ––
B. Judgment and enemies 11:9–43 ––
6 What kind of heritage did Solomon Becomes King (1 Kings 1–4; 2 Chronicles 1)
King David leave Solomon
with, and how did Solomon Peace and prosperity describe the golden years of Solomon’s rule. Under
enlarge on it? David, the nation had become united, had expanded its borders, and was
84 Old Testament Survey

respected by other nations. Now, Solomon benefited from David’s military


victories, and his peaceful reign lasted for forty years.
As we consider the stories of the kings, we should note that Scripture does
not always record historical events in chronological order. For instance, 1 Kings
describes the temple first and then relates how Solomon obtained the materials
to build it. The book also tells about Solomon’s palace before recounting the
dedication of the temple, which occurred thirteen years before the palace was built.
The building of the temple occurred during the first ten years of Solomon’s reign.
Solomon may have been between twenty-one and twenty-five years old when
he became king. Realizing that the position, responsibility, and workload would
be demanding, he sought divine wisdom. Pleased with Solomon’s prayer, God
promised him wisdom as well as wealth and honor. However, God exhorted
Solomon to be obedient to divine directives and walk closely to Him, as his
father David had done (1 Kings 3:10–14).
People were impressed with Solomon’s great wisdom and came from all
nations to seek his advice (1 Kings 4:29–34). His wisdom in ruling helped the
kingdom to grow even larger. He divided the country into twelve districts for
tax purposes, with each district providing the government with supplies for one
month (4:7, 27). King Solomon added greatly to the numerical and military
strength of Israel’s army, keeping part of the army in special cities and the rest of
the army in Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 1:14–17).

Solomon’s Building Programs


(1 Kings 5–9; 2 Chronicles 2:1–8:16)
7 What were some of Solomon led the nation in several building programs, including the temple in
Solomon’s building programs? Jerusalem. He built the temple on the site of the threshing floor where David had made
sacrifices to stop the plague his census caused (2 Samuel 24:18–25). The threshing
floor was on Mount Moriah (2 Chronicles 3:1), but it is uncertain whether or not this
was the same Mount Moriah where Abraham traveled to sacrifice Isaac (Genesis 22).
The temple was approximately twice as large as the tabernacle. It was very
beautiful, and many of the articles inside were covered with gold. The temple was
completed about 950 BC, during the time of Israel’s greatest growth, and it fulfilled
David’s desire—the temple was a permanent place for the people to worship God.
Solomon dedicated the temple to God during the Feast of Tabernacles by
leading the people in worship, praying, and delivering a message. One of the
most important events in Israel’s history after they left Mount Sinai, the temple
dedication occurred 480 years after Israel left Egypt (1 Kings 6:1). The people
followed the divinely prescribed order of music and worship as the priests carried
the ark of the covenant into the Most Holy Place. As a result, God’s glory fell,
and His presence filled the temple (2 Chronicles 5:2–7:10).
When Nebuchadnezzar defeated Judah in 586 BC, he destroyed Solomon’s
temple. In 516 BC, after seventy years of captivity in Babylon, Israel built a
second temple known as Zerubbabel’s temple. In a later era, Herod built another
temple for the Jews, but it was destroyed in AD 70 by the Roman army.
After he built the temple, Solomon built a palace for himself, which took thirteen
years to complete. It contained government offices and an area for Pharaoh’s daughter
(one of Solomon’s wives) as well as Solomon’s own quarters (1 Kings 7:1–12).
The Israelite Empire (2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles 1–9) 85

Solomon’s International Relations


(1 Kings 9–10; 2 Chronicles 8–9)
8 What did Solomon do At the end of David’s rule, Israel had many iron and copper mines, which
to increase Israel’s power in made the nation powerful in business and trade. With the help of the Phoenicians,
business and trade? Solomon built ships to carry this iron and copper to other nations, some as far
as southwest Arabia and Ethiopia. There, he traded for gold, silver, ivory, and
monkeys. Israel also gained wealth by trading spices with other countries.
The horses and chariots Solomon obtained from the Hittites increased his
military strength, and his powerful army enabled him to control trade in the
entire region. Political expediency led Solomon to establish mutually agreeable
international relations with other countries. This may have included an alliance
with the queen of Sheba, who was amazed by Solomon’s wisdom, saying it “far
exceeded the report” she had heard (1 Kings 10:7).

5.2.2 Solomon’s Disobedience and Death


OBJECTIVE
The final chapter of Solomon’s life is sobering. Despite his great wisdom
explain solomon’s
and wealth, his life ended in failure and defeat. Like other kings, he confirmed
disobedience and judgment.
treaties and sealed alliances by marrying the kings’ daughters. Solomon had
seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines, or secondary wives.
9 What was Solomon’s
disobedience, and what was
According to 1 Kings 11:2, God had warned the Israelites, “You must not
God’s judgment as a result? intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.”
However, Solomon allowed his love for these women to override his wisdom
and obedience. He permitted his wives to worship idols and constructed temples
for the false gods, even worshipping a few other gods himself. As a result,
Solomon’s “heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God” (1 Kings 11:4).
Early in Solomon’s reign, he entered a political alliance with Egypt, which involved
a royal wedding to the daughter of Pharaoh (3:1). This hinted at future trouble.
Large royal harems were not uncommon in those days. Solomon’s numerous
political marriages seemed an innocent way to strengthen foreign alliances (11:3).
But God had specifically forbidden such intermarriages (11:2; Dt. 7:4; 17:17).
Now, in Solomon’s old age, the religious apostasy his foreign wives brought into
the royal court adversely affected his faith. He slowly and gradually drifted from an
exclusive monotheism and began incorporating the worship of other gods (11:4).
Religious compromise is almost never swift and obvious, but happens gradually as
one drifts slowly away from God. (Arnold and Beyer 1999, 227)
Because of Solomon’s disobedience, God told him that He would divide the
kingdom, but for David’s sake, the division would not happen until Solomon died
(1 Kings 11:9–13). Even before his death, however, Solomon saw enemies begin
to arise. Yet “a theological motif in 1 Kings is the . . . sovereignty of God, which
despite human failings, continues to carry forward His eternal purposes” (Dyer
and Merrill 2001, 248).

5.3
LESSON

5.3.1
The Northern Kingdom (1 Kings 12–2 Kings 17)
After Solomon died, the people turned against the new king, his son
Rehoboam. As a result, the nation divided into two kingdoms. Ten tribes
OBJECTIVE
established the Northern Kingdom, or Israel, with Jeroboam as their king.
Name the five dynasties of Rehoboam reigned over the Southern Kingdom, or Judah, which consisted of
the northern kingdom. only two tribes: Judah and Benjamin.
86 Old Testament Survey

The remainder of 1 Kings and the beginning chapters of 2 Kings primarily


describe the history of the Northern Kingdom. However, since the two kingdoms
existed at the same time, some events of the Southern Kingdom are included.
Thus, the Bible often uses the name israel for the Northern Kingdom and Judah
for the Southern Kingdom.
The Northern Kingdom existed for approximately two hundred years
(931–722 BC), and the ruling families changed often. Of the twenty kings, all of
them did evil, failing to serve the one true God.

Outline of the Northern Kingdom (Israel)


I. First Dynasty: Jeroboam and His Son, 1 Kings 12–15
A. Sinful ways of Israel (12:25–33)
B. Warnings by two prophets (13:1–14:20)
II. Second Dynasty: Baasha and His Son, 1 Kings 15–16
A. Baasha (15:16–16:7)
B. The prophet Jehu (16:1–7)
C. Elah, son of Baasha (16:8–14)
III. Third Dynasty: Omri and His Sons, 1 Kings 16–22; 2 Kings 1, 3, 9
A. Omri (1 Kings 16:21–28)
B. Ahab and Jezebel (1 Kings 16:29–34; 20–22; 2 Kings 9:30–37)
1. Ahab’s religion (1 Kings 16:30–34)
2. Elijah the prophet (1 Kings 17–19, 21)
3. War with Syria (1 Kings 22)
C. Ahaziah, son of Ahab (1 Kings 22:51–2 Kings 1:18; 2 Chronicles
20:35–37)
D. Joram, son of Ahab (2 Kings 3; 8:29–9:26)
1. Elisha the prophet (1 Kings 19:19–21; 2 Kings 2; 4–9; 13)
IV. Fourth Dynasty: Jehu and His Sons, 2 Kings 9–10, 13–14
A. Jehu (9–10)
B. Jehoahaz (13:1–8)
C. Jehoash (13:9–13)
D. Jeroboam II (14:23–29)
V. Fifth Dynasty: Menahem and His Son, 2 Kings 15:17–26
A. Menahem (15:17–21)
B. Pekahiah (15:22–26)
VI. The Last Two Kings of Israel, 2 Kings 15–17
A. Pekah (15:27–31)
B. Hoshea, the last king (17:1–6)
5.3.2
OBJECTIVE The First Dynasty (1 Kings 12–15)
relate the key rulers and Because Jeroboam had good management abilities, during Solomon’s reign,
major events of each the king had given him the responsibility of overseeing the building of the
northern kingdom dynasty. Jerusalem wall. Then the prophet Ahijah revealed Israel’s future to Jeroboam.
Ahijah tore his own new coat into twelve separate pieces, representing the twelve
tribes of Israel. Ahijah gave Jeroboam ten pieces and prophesied that Jeroboam
would be the king of ten tribes (1 Kings 11:27–39).
The Israelite Empire (2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles 1–9) 87

When Solomon tried to kill Jeroboam, Jeroboam fled to Egypt and stayed there
until Solomon’s death. He returned after Israel’s elders rebelled against Rehoboam,
and he became the first king of the Northern Kingdom. Jeroboam ruled for
approximately twenty-two years, during which he engaged in “continual warfare”
with Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 12:15).
10 What was the length in However, although God had promised to be with Jeroboam if he obeyed
time of Israel’s first dynasty, God’s commands, Jeroboam did not lead Israel in godly principles and practices.
and who were its kings? Rather, he led Israel away from God and introduced idolatry. He constructed
large golden calves, appointed new priests, and allowed the Israelites to offer
idolatrous sacrifices throughout the Northern Kingdom. Ahijah and an unnamed
prophet from Judah warned Jeroboam about his idolatrous sin and told him he
would lose his kingdom (1 Kings 13:1–14:20). When Jeroboam died, his son
Nadab ruled only two years, and the first dynasty ended after twenty-four years.

The Second Dynasty (1 Kings 15–16)


11 The second dynasty was Baasha, from the tribe of Issachar, killed Nadab and became king for twenty-
characterized by what king four years. Like Jeroboam, he made Tirzah his capital. When many people
and his reign? from the Northern Kingdom began to return to Judah, Baasha perceived their
migration as a threat to his kingdom. As a result, he sent his soldiers to Ramah
to prevent anyone going into Judah and to threaten King Asa of Jerusalem
(1 Kings 15:16–17).
Although confronted by the prophet Jehu, Baasha continued in the idolatrous
lifestyle of Jeroboam and passed his ungodly ways to his son, Elah. Upon
Baasha’s death, Elah ruled Israel for two years until one of his commanders,
Zimri, killed him while he was drunk. Zimri also annihilated the rest of Baasha’s
family, fulfilling Jehu’s prophecy. Thus, Baasha’s dynasty came to an end after
twenty-six years. Zimri ruled for only one week before Omri took power and
began Israel’s third dynasty.

The Third Dynasty (1 Kings 16–22; 2 Kings 1, 3, 9)


12 Who was head of the Omri was the head of the most evil ruling family in the Northern Kingdom.
evilest ruling family in Israel, During his twelve-year reign, Israel regained much of the land they had lost to
and how long did this dynasty Syria. Eventually, Omri moved his capital to Samaria, which remained a strong,
last?
safe capital for 150 years. Omri had a good international policy and made
treaties with other nations. He sealed his treaty with the Phoenicians through the
marriage of his son, Ahab, to Jezebel, daughter of the king of Sidon.
13 Who was the best- Ahab, the most famous king of Israel’s third dynasty, ruled for twenty-two
known and most sinful king years. While the kingdom became very wealthy under Ahab’s rule, history calls
in the third dynasty, and what him the most sinful of Israel’s kings because he and Jezebel led Israel to worship
famous Bible story occurred
during his reign?
Baal (1 Kings 21:25–26).
It was during Ahab and Jezebel’s reign that the prophet Elijah confronted the
prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. In this confrontation, God answered Elijah
in a spectacular, miraculous, and unique fashion; fire from heaven confirmed
that Yahweh was the one true God and that the idols of Baal were powerless.
Despite this great victory, however, Elijah became frightened at Jezebel’s threat
of revenge and hid at Sinai, depressed and complaining to God. God strengthened
his prophet physically and emotionally and instructed him to call Elisha as his
successor (1 Kings 19).
Later, Ahab coveted a vineyard, but the owner, Naboth, refused to sell it to
him. Ahab’s jealous greed and Jezebel’s wickedness caused Naboth to be stoned
88 Old Testament Survey

to death. Angry, the Lord prophesied through Elijah that He would destroy
Ahab’s family. When Ahab repented, God promised to delay part of his judgment
until after Ahab’s death (1 Kings 21).
Ahab was killed during a battle with Syria, and his son Ahaziah took over the
throne. Ahaziah reigned approximately two years (1 Kings 22:51). He died from
injuries suffered in an accident because he consulted idols rather than the one true
God (2 Kings 1).
Ahaziah’s brother Joram (also called Jehoram) became the next king and
ruled for twelve years. He was an ungodly king, although not as evil as his
parents, Ahab and Jezebel. As Joram recovered from wounds received in battle,
Elisha sent a young prophet to privately anoint Jehu as the new king of Israel
(2 Kings 9:1–13). Jehu then killed Joram and took over the throne. Overall,
Omri’s dynasty lasted about forty-seven years.

The Fourth Dynasty (2 Kings 9–10, 13–14)


14 Which dynasty ruled the Jehu’s dynasty ruled the Northern Kingdom longer than any other family—
Northern Kingdom longer almost one hundred years. Jehu destroyed Joram’s entire family, including Jezebel,
than any other family, and and ended the worship of Baal. Yet the Israelites continued to worship idols.
how long did it last?
During the reigns of Jehu and his son Jehoahaz, Israel had many enemies. The
troubles with neighboring countries weakened Israel’s power. However, under
Jehoahaz’s son, Jehoash, Israel began to prosper again and to rebuild its army.
15 Which king was The kingdom of Israel became its strongest when Jehoash’s son Jeroboam II
considered the Northern ruled. Jeroboam II reigned for forty-one years; during the first twelve of those
Kingdom’s greatest king, years, he ruled with his father. Considered the greatest king in the Northern
and why?
Kingdom, Jeroboam II won back much of Israel’s land and made Samaria’s walls
larger. Not since Solomon had such peace and wealth existed in Israel. Jeroboam
II died in 753 BC, and his son, Zechariah, became king for only six months
before Shallum killed him. In the thirty-year period following Jeroboam II’s
death, the Northern Kingdom became weak and fell. Thus, in only three decades,
Israel went from her strongest to her weakest.

The Fifth Dynasty and the Last Two Kings


of Israel (2 Kings 15–17)
16 What is most notable Menahem ruled Israel for ten years after Shallum’s one-month rule. Menahem
about Israel’s fifth dynasty? and his son, Pekahiah (who ruled for two years), paid taxes to Assyria to avoid being
invaded. Pekah, son of one of King Pekahiah’s captains, rebelled against Pekahiah
and killed him. This ended the fifth dynasty, which lasted from 753 to 739 BC.
King Pekah of Israel joined with King Rezin of Syria to fight Assyria,
their common enemy. Assyria attacked Syria and killed Rezin. In Samaria, the
Israelites killed Pekah and then made Hoshea king.
Hoshea, the last king of Israel, was considered a vassal king because he did
what Assyria told him to. However, when the rule of Assyria changed hands,
Hoshea rebelled. The Assyrians besieged Samaria, Israel’s capital city, for three
years and finally forced Israel to surrender in 722 BC. This Assyrian victory
marked the end of the Northern Kingdom.
Review the kings of Israel by considering the following chart. The names
in bold indicate a king who began a dynasty. Also, in regard to years of reign,
remember that sometimes one king’s rule overlapped another’s.
The Israelite Empire (2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles 1–9) 89

Kings of the Northern Kingdom (Jensen 1968, 108)


King Years of Character Relationship 1 Kings 2 Kings 2 Chron.
Reign with Judah
  1. Jeroboam 22 Bad War 11:26–14:20 –– 9:29–13:22

  2. Nadab 2 Bad War 15:25–28 –– ––

  3. Baasha 24 Bad War 15:27–16:7 –– 16:1–6

  4. Elah 2 Drunkard War 16:8–10 –– ––

  5. Zimri 7 days Murderer War 16:10–20 –– ––

  6. Tibni 4 Bad War 16:21–22 –– ––

  7. Omri 12 Very bad War 16:16–27 –– ––

  8. Ahab 22 The worst Ally 16:28–22:40 –– 18:1–34

  9. Ahaziah 2 Bad Peace 22:40, 51–53 1:1–17 20:35–37

10. Joram 12 Bad Ally –– 3:1–3; 22:5–7


9:14–25

11. Jehu 28 Bad War –– 9:1–10:36 22:7–12

12. Jehoahaz 17 Bad Peace –– 13:1–9 ––

13. Jehoash 16 Bad War –– 13:10–25; 25:17–24


14:8–16

14. Jeroboam II 41 Bad Peace –– 14:23–29 ––

15. Zechariah 6 months Bad Peace –– 15:8–12 ––

16. Shallum 1 month Bad Peace –– 15:13–15 ––

17. Menahem 10 Bad Peace –– 15:16–22 ––

18. Pekahiah 2 Bad Peace –– 15:23–26 ––

19. Pekah 20 Bad War –– 15:27–31 28:5–8

20. Hoshea 9 Bad Peace –– 17:1–41 ––


90 Old Testament Survey

T Test Yourself
Circle the letter of the best answer.
5
CHAPTER

1. The book of 2 Samuel recounts the years of 6. Solomon disobeyed God by


a) Samuel’s birth to Saul’s death. a) handling the ark of the covenant inappropriately.
b) David’s rule. b) marrying many foreign wives.
c) Saul’s life. c) accumulating a lot of wealth.
d) Samuel’s life. d) counting his fighting men.
2. David captured Jerusalem from the 7. The first king of the Northern Kingdom was
a) Philistines. a) Omri.
b) Ammonites. b) Baasha.
c) Jebusites. c) Jeroboam.
d) Moabites. d) Rehoboam.
3. Who confronted David concerning his sin with 8. How many tribes comprised the Northern
Bathsheba? Kingdom?
a) Nathan a) Two
b) Samuel b) Four
c) Hushai c) Eight
d) Ahijah d) Ten
4. The years of Solomon’s reign were 9. Who led Israel in worshipping Baal?
a) peaceful and prosperous. a) Omri
b) peaceful but unsuccessful. b) Ahab and Jezebel
c) prosperous but volatile. c) Jeroboam
d) oppressive and uncertain. d) Baasha
5. Solomon dedicated the temple during the Feast of 10. Assyria conquered the Northern Kingdom in
a) Trumpets. a) 586 BC.
b) Passover. b) 622 BC.
c) Tabernacles. c) 686 BC.
d) Unleavened Bread. d) 722 BC.
The Israelite Empire (2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles 1–9) 91

Responses to Interactive Questions


Chapter 5
Some of these responses may include information that is supplemental to the IST. These questions are intended
to produce reflective thinking beyond the course content and your responses may vary from these examples.
1 Describe some examples of David’s political successes.
King David took Jerusalem back from the Jebusites. It became the place of authority for all Israel, and David
organized the nation from Jerusalem (often called Zion).
2 Why was King David not allowed to build God’s temple?
The prophet Nathan revealed that David’s son would build the temple since David was a warring king and his
son Solomon would be a man of peace.
3 What did David do militarily to make Israel the dominant power in western Asia?
King David conquered Edom and acquired iron and copper. He conquered the Moabites and Amalekites, taking
gold and silver from them. He defeated Syria and Ammon. He liberated Israel from Philistine oppression and
made their territories and people subject to his rule.
4 What had happened in David’s life that might have contributed to his sin with Bathsheba?
David achieved great power and authority. Reveling in his military, political, and spiritual successes may have
contributed to his sin with Bathsheba.
5 How did David’s sin affect his family and the nation of Israel?
David’s personal sin cost the lives of people, his lack of firm discipline contributed to bloodshed in his own
family, and his pride brought a plague against the nation.
6 What kind of heritage did King David leave Solomon with, and how did Solomon enlarge on it?
David left Solomon the heritage of a kingdom that was united, had expanded borders, and was respected
by other nations. Solomon increased the kingdom further, divided it into twelve districts for supplying the
government, and added greatly to the number and military strength of Israel’s army.
7 What were some of Solomon’s building programs?
The most important was the temple, with its dedication being one of the most significant events in Israel’s
history since they left Mount Sinai. He also built a palace for himself.
8 What did Solomon do to increase Israel’s power in business and trade?
King Solomon built ships to carry Israel’s copper and iron to other nations where he traded for gold, silver, and
ivory. He also gained wealth by trading spices with other countries. He obtained horses and chariots from the
Hittites to increase his military strength, and his army enabled him to control trade in the entire region.
9 What was Solomon’s disobedience, and what was God’s judgment as a result?
King Solomon confirmed treaties and sealed alliances with other kings by marrying the kings’ daughters. The
foreign wives brought religious apostasy into the royal court and began the worshipping of other gods. After
Solomon’s death, God would divide the kingdom because of Solomon’s disobedience.
10 What was the length in time of Israel’s first dynasty, and who were its kings?
The first dynasty lasted for twenty-four years: Jeroboam reigned for twenty-two years, and his son Nadab ruled
only two years.
11 The second dynasty was characterized by what king and his reign?
Baasha, who reigned for twenty-four years. His dynasty was characterized by idolatrous lifestyles.
92 Old Testament Survey

12 Who was head of the evilest ruling family in Israel, and how long did this dynasty last?
Omri’s dynasty lasted about forty-seven years.
13 Who was the best-known and most sinful king in the third dynasty, and what famous Bible story occurred
during his reign?
Ahab’s reign included the story of Elijah’s confronting the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel and God’s
answering Elijah in a spectacular, miraculous way.
14 Which dynasty ruled the Northern Kingdom longer than any other family, and how long did it last?
The dynasty of Jehu (fourth dynasty) lasted almost one hundred years of the Northern Kingdom’s two hundred
years of existence.
15 Which king was considered the Northern Kingdom’s greatest king, and why?
King Jeroboam II, the fourth ruler in Jehu’s dynasty, won back much of Israel’s land, made Samaria’s walls
larger, and brought peace and wealth back to Israel that had not existed since King Solomon.
16 What is most notable about Israel’s fifth dynasty?
The fifth dynasty (Menahem’s dynasty) was the last dynasty of the Northern Kingdom and lasted only fourteen years.
The Israelite Empire (2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles 1–9) 93
6
94 Old Testament Survey

The Southern Kingdom of Judah


CHAPTER (1 and 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles 10–36)
According to the biblical account, the kingdom of Israel divided for two
reasons: (1) Rehoboam demanded unusually high taxes, following the advice of
younger individuals rather than the counsel of wise elders (1 Kings 12:1–15).
(2) God carried out His displeasure with Solomon’s sins by judging him
(11:9–13), although the divided kingdom occurred after Solomon’s death
(2 Samuel 7:12–16). God delayed His judgment as an expression of grace and
mercy to David.
The Southern Kingdom, or the Kingdom of Judah, lasted approximately 350
years (931–586 BC). Twenty kings ruled in Judah, twelve of them during the
time of the divided kingdom. The events of their reigns are recorded in 1 and
2 Kings and the ending chapters of 2 Chronicles.
Dwaine Braddy states, “There are two basic ways to read the books of
Kings and Chronicles: from the perspective of history or from the perspective
of theological narrative” (2003, 648). In fact, there are instances when the
writers of these books, themselves, interpret events theologically (1 Kings
15:30; 2 Kings 18:12; 24:20). Thus, we can say that the purpose of the books
of Kings and Chronicles extends beyond mere historical facts and figures. God
has something to teach us beyond the historical details.
1 Approximately how long While the history of the books can be difficult to decipher at times, “we know
did the Southern Kingdom last? more about this period of Israel’s history than any other because of the amount of
material available, both biblical and extrabiblical” (Arnold and Beyer 1999, 244).
While 1 and 2 Kings describe the history of the Southern Kingdom in reference
to the Northern Kingdom, 2 Chronicles gives more detailed information about
David’s ruling family.

Lesson 6.1 Rehoboam to Ahaz: Judah during the Divided Kingdom


(1 Kings 12–22; 2 Kings 8–16; 2 Chronicles 10–28)
Objectives
6.1.1 identify the three periods of the divided kingdom.
6.1.2 identify the most important kings, and summarize events of the three
periods of the divided kingdom.

Lesson 6.2 Hezekiah to Zedekiah: Judah, the Surviving


Kingdom (2 Kings 18–24; 2 Chronicles 29–36)
Objectives
6.2.1 summarize the reigns of hezekiah, manasseh, and Josiah.
6.2.2 describe the events related to the last kings of Judah.
The Southern Kingdom of Judah (1 and 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles 10–36) 95

6.1
Rehoboam to Ahaz: Judah during the Divided
Kingdom (1 Kings 12–22; 2 Kings 8–16;
LESSON
2 Chronicles 10–28)
Three Periods of the Divided Kingdom of Israel and Judah
6.1.1 Second Period
OBJECTIVE First Period Third Period
Kingdom (75 Years of
identify the three periods (60 Years of War) (75 Years of War)
Alliance)
of the divided kingdom.
Israel Jeroboam–Omri Ahab–Jehoahaz Jehoash–Hoshea

Judah Rehoboam–Asa Jehoshaphat–Joash Amaziah–Ahaz

Outline
The events surrounding Judah during the divided kingdom are outlined as follows:
Event or Topic 1 Kings 2 Kings 2 Chron.
I. First Period: Sixty Years of War 12:1– — 10–16
with Israel 15:24
A. Rehoboam, Solomon’s son 12–14 — 10–12
B. Abijah, Rehoboam’s son 15:1–8 — 13:1–
14:1
C. Asa’s changes 15:9–24 — 14–16
II. Second Period: Seventy-five 22:41–50 8:25– 17–24
Years of Alliance with Israel 12:21
A. Jehoshaphat 22:41–50 — 17–20
1. Alliance with the Omri — — 18:1–
dynasty 19:3;
20:35–37
2. The prophets: Micaiah, — — 18–20
Jehu, and Eliezer
3. Elisha — 3:11–20 —
B. Ahaziah — 8:25–29; 22:1–9
9:27–29
C. Athaliah — 8:18, 22:10–
25–26; 23:21
11:1–20
D. Joash — 11–12 22:10–
24:27
III. Third Period: Seventy-five Years — 14:1–14; 25–28
of War with Israel 15–16
A. Amaziah — 14:1–14 25
B. Uzziah (Azariah) –– 15:1–7 26
C. Jotham –– 15:32–38 27
D. Ahaz, Father of Hezekiah –– 16 28
96 Old Testament Survey

6.1.2 First Period: Sixty Years of War (Rehoboam–Asa)


OBJECTIVE
identify the most important When the kingdom divided, the Southern Kingdom consisted of only two tribes:
kings, and summarize Benjamin and Judah (David’s tribe). Whereas the Northern Kingdom was eventually
events of the three periods ruled by five different dynasties, the Southern Kingdom continued to be ruled by the
of the divided kingdom. family or dynasty of David, except for the brief reign of Queen Athaliah. The capital
of the Southern Kingdom stayed in Jerusalem, where David had established it.
2 How long was the first Rehoboam planned to crush the rebellion in Israel by developing a strong
period of Judah, and how is it army. He called the men of Judah and Benjamin to go to war, but the prophet
characterized? Shemaiah advised Rehoboam not to fight the other tribes (1 Kings 12:21–24).
Although Rehoboam obeyed the Lord’s command this time, he later warred with
Jeroboam throughout his seventeen-year reign (14:30). He also led the people of
Judah further into idolatry.
War between the Northern and Southern Kingdoms continued under Abijah,
Rehoboam’s son, who reigned for three years (1 Kings 15:1–8; 2 Chronicles 13:1–2).
Abijah also continued to worship idols instead of the one true God.
3 Who were the first and After Abijah, Asa ruled over Judah for forty-one years (910–869 BC). Asa
last kings of this period, and started leading the nation back to God, a spiritual revival that would flourish under
how are they remembered? the next king, Jehoshaphat. Warning the people to obey God’s law, Asa removed
the idols from the land and began relying on God to help fight his enemies.
However, Asa’s spiritual renewal did not last. Toward the end of his rule,
facing a possible attack from Israel, Asa turned to Syria rather than to the Lord.
When the prophet Hanani rebuked him, Asa had Hanani thrown into prison
and began oppressing the people of Judah (2 Chronicles 16:1–10). Later, Asa
contracted a disease in his feet yet refused to seek God’s help. A few years
afterward, he died (16:12–13).

4 What characterized Second Period: Seventy-Five Years of Political Alliance


Judah’s second period, and
how long did it last?
(Jehoshaphat–Joash)
Jehoshaphat
5 What king’s reign is Jehoshaphat succeeded Asa as king of Judah and reigned for twenty-five
sometimes considered one
years. Jehoshaphat led the nation in restoring some commendable practices. He
of Judah’s most spiritual
times? What did he do to sent princes, priests, and Levites throughout the land to teach the Law, and he
bring this about? established peaceful relations with other nations (2 Chronicles 17). When the
Moabites, Ammonites, and others warred against Judah, he led his people in a time
of fasting and prayer (20:1–30). These positive aspects of his leadership have led
some to conclude that this was one of the most spiritual times in Judah’s history.
However, Jehoshaphat also made numerous blunders in his leadership. He made
a peace agreement with the ungodly King Ahab by marrying his son, Jehoram, to
Athaliah, Ahab and Jezebel’s daughter. One of the worst things about this alliance
was that sometime later Athaliah became a ruthless queen in Judah and killed many
of Jehoshaphat’s family.
Because of Ahab and Jezebel’s idolatry and evil influence, various prophets
confronted Jehoshaphat about his unwise alliances with Israel. When Jehoshaphat later
joined Ahab in war against Syria, Israel’s prophets assured the respective kings that
Israel would be victorious. Jehoshaphat had his doubts, however, and Ahab appeased
him by bringing in the prophet Micaiah, who warned that King Ahab would be killed
(1 Kings 22; 2 Chronicles 18). Micaiah’s prophecy came true, and Jehoshaphat escaped
great danger. Yet Jehoshaphat continued to make unwise decisions based on the
perceived benefits of political alliance (2 Kings 3; 2 Chronicles 20:35–37).
The Southern Kingdom of Judah (1 and 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles 10–36) 97

In light of these factors, it is probably best to view Jehoshaphat’s reign as a


mixture of wise and unwise decisions and of spiritual and unspiritual leadership:
A closer look at his reign will reveal a study in contrasts. The upside of his
reign demonstrates a spiritual fervor. He had an earnestness to lead Judah in
the suppression of idolatry. He tried to restore pure religion before God. The
downside of his reign shows his repeatedly involving himself and the nation in
alliances with the Northern Kingdom and wicked king Ahab. In effect, he failed
to spiritually discern with regard to pagan, idolatrous, evil God-forsaking Israel—
thereby weakening the spiritual vitality of his reforms. His reign began with great
promise . . . yet his record contains a most serious blot. (Braddy 2003, 661)
Jehoram through Athaliah
Jehoshaphat died in 848 BC, and his oldest son, Jehoram, became the new
king. Jehoram immediately killed all of his brothers. He may have “feared that
his own position might not be altogether secure; so he slew all his brothers
to preclude their possible personal ambitions” (Dyer and Merrill 2001, 328).
Not only did Jehoram establish and encourage idolatrous worship, possibly
influenced by his wife Athaliah, but he actually pressured the people to worship
at idolatrous shrines (2 Chronicles 21:11). Elijah confronted Jehoram about
his sins. “After meeting the horrible death that Elijah predicted, Jehoram was
denied the customary burial of a king. The summary of his reign is recorded in
2 Chronicles  21:20: ‘He passed away, to no one’s regret’” (Braddy 2003, 664).
Ahaziah, Jehoram’s son, succeeded him as king but ruled for only one year.
Ahaziah followed in his father’s footsteps, doing evil in the sight of the Lord.
When he died, his mother, Athaliah, seized the throne of Judah. Ahab
and Jezebel’s daughter, Athaliah was harsh and cruel and began her six-year
reign by killing Jehoshaphat’s family. Although Athaliah attempted to destroy
David’s lineage, God miraculously preserved Ahaziah’s small son, Joash
(2 Chronicles 22:10–12). “Through God’s sovereignty, Joash, the one-year-old
son of Ahaziah, was saved by Jehosheba, wife of the priest Jehoiada. She hid
Joash in the temple for six years (2 Kings 11:2–3)” (Braddy 2003, 665). Joash, a
descendant of David, ascended to the throne after Athaliah was killed, fulfilling
the promise that David’s throne would be eternal (2 Samuel 7:12–16).
Joash
6 How could seven-year- In 835 BC, Joash became king when he was only seven years old. His reign
old Joash have the wisdom to lasted for forty years, until 796 BC.
reign as king?
How would a seven-year-old boy have the wisdom to reign as king over the
nation? The answer is simple: Joash was heavily influenced by the godly priest
Jehoiada at the beginning of his reign (2 Kings 12:2). In fact, his forty-year
reign may be divided into two periods: the period of Jehoiada’s godly influence
and the period of Joash’s apostasy. (Braddy 2003, 666)
7 Who were the first and During the time of Joash’s godly reign, he decided to restore temple worship.
last kings of the second To do so, he conducted a financial campaign, collecting offerings for temple repair.
period in Judah’s history? After Jehoiada the priest died, however, Joash and his leaders slipped into rebellion
Compare their reigns.
against God. They ceased worshipping in the temple and worshipped the goddess
Asherah and other idols. Zechariah, Jehoiada’s son, warned the people about their
continual disobedience, but the king and the people reacted to his dire prophetic
warnings by stoning him in the temple courtyard (2 Chronicles 24:17–22).
When Syria threatened to attack Judah, Joash bribed the Syrian king with
some of the temple’s most treasured possessions (2 Kings 12:17–18). Some time
98 Old Testament Survey

later, the Syrians attacked Judah and Jerusalem anyway, wounding Joash. Joash’s
military officers rebelled against him for his treatment of Zechariah, killing him
in his own bed (2 Chronicles 24:23–26).

8 How long did the third Third Period: Seventy-Five Years of War (Amaziah–Ahaz)
period last, and how was it
characterized? Amaziah
Joash’s son Amaziah ruled for a total of twenty-nine years (796–767 BC),
9 Which king began with five of those years by himself and the remaining years with his son, Uzziah.
Judah’s third period, and what “Similar to earlier Judean kings, Amaziah . . . began his reign well” (Braddy
characteristic of his reign was 2003, 667) but did not end it well. Amaziah strengthened Judah’s army and
similar to earlier Judean kings?
challenged the Israelite army to a battle (2 Chronicles 25:17). In doing so,
Amaziah destroyed the peaceful relationship that had existed between Israel and
Judah for approximately one hundred years.
Israel then attacked Judah, and because its army was stronger, Israel’s
military might prevailed. The Israelites broke down part of the wall of Jerusalem,
captured King Amaziah and others, and confiscated gold and silver from the
temple. Sometime after King Jehoash of Israel died, Amaziah was released but
was killed in Lachish by some men from Judah (25:25–28).
Amaziah’s pride led to suffering for the Southern Kingdom. Judah’s national
hopes fell to the lowest point since Solomon’s kingdom divided.
Uzziah through Jotham
Uzziah (called Azariah in 2 Kings 15:1–7) began to rule while his father
was still living (791 BC) and reigned for a total of fifty-two years. Gradually,
he led the nation in a period of restoration that included rebuilding the walls
of Jerusalem and developing friendship and cooperation with Jeroboam II
and Israel. Uzziah developed a strong army and restored economic prosperity,
perhaps almost to the level known under the reigns of David and Solomon.
At first, Uzziah depended on God for the strength and power to accomplish
the needed changes. He had learned from the prophet Zechariah about the
importance of respecting and obeying God. According to 2 Chronicles 26:5,
“as long as he sought the Lord, God gave him success.”
However, “after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall”
(2 Chronicles 26:16). Around 750 BC, after ruling for forty years, Uzziah violated
divine directives about worship by entering the temple to burn incense—a duty and
privilege reserved for the priests (Numbers 18:1–7). The high priest Azariah, along
with eighty other priests, rebuked the king and told him to leave the sanctuary.
This was no small rebuke! God judged Uzziah by inflicting him with leprosy, and
thereafter he lived alone in a separate house (2 Chronicles 26:19–21).
Archaeologists, excavating at Ramat Rahel just south of Jerusalem, believe
they have uncovered the dwelling of this leprous king. They found striking
proof of Uzziah’s illness on a marble plaque, called the “Epitaph of Uzziah.”
This plaque bears an inscription in Aramaic, dating to about the first century
AD It reads: “To here were brought the bones of Uzziah, King of Judah. Do
not open.” (Braddy 2003, 671)
Jotham, Uzziah’s son, began ruling with his sick father, and they co-reigned for
ten years until Uzziah’s death in 740 BC. In this same year, Isaiah answered the call
to be a prophetic voice of righteousness in Jerusalem. As Jotham ruled Judah, he
continued to oppose Assyria, who was threatening to attack. “Religiously his reign
was much like that of his father, with one exception: He carefully avoided any
The Southern Kingdom of Judah (1 and 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles 10–36) 99

interference with the priestly office. . . . Under Jotham’s influence, Judah became
prominent” (Braddy 2003, 671–672). “Jotham grew powerful because he walked
steadfastly before the Lord his God” (2 Chronicles 27:6).
Ahaz
Jotham’s son, Ahaz, began to rule Judah in 735 BC. Unlike his father, he
engaged in idolatry and befriended Assyria, who had become a dominant political
and military power. Assyria planned to conquer the entire land of Canaan. Until
the eighth century BC, Israel and Judah had not been truly threatened by other
empires, in spite of periodic battles with their neighbors. However, now “the
ominous Assyrian cloud on the horizon would become a thunderstorm bringing
judgment upon the nation of Israel” (Braddy 2003, 672).
10 Who was the final king Pekah (king of Israel) and Rezin (king of Syria) joined forces to battle
of Judah during the divided Assyria. Because Ahaz refused to join them, Pekah and Rezin also fought against
kingdom, and what was his Judah, killing many and taking thousands of captives.
tragic mistake?
Knowing that Ahaz and the people of Judah were shaken, the Lord sent Isaiah
to encourage King Ahaz not to be afraid but to trust in God alone (Isaiah 7:2–8).
Unfortunately, Ahaz ignored God’s counsel through Isaiah and turned to the
nation of Assyria for help. Although this brought quick results, ultimately it was
not beneficial.
After journeying to Damascus to meet with the victorious Assyrian king,
Ahaz’s idolatry increased. Previously, he had sacrificed his own children in
worship to idols—an evil practice that God thoroughly condemned (2 Kings 16:3;
2 Chronicles 28:3). Now, he rearranged the sacred objects in the temple and began
worshipping his false gods there (2 Kings 16:10–18). Later, “he shut the doors of
the Lord’s temple and set up altars at every street corner in Jerusalem”
(2 Chronicles 28:24). “Ahaz was the antithesis of Jotham in every way. His
spiritual models were the evil kings of Israel” (Dyer and Merrill 2001, 333).
As Judah struggled through the years of idolatry with Ahaz, divine judgment
came on Israel, just as God’s prophets had warned. Assyria cut through the land
like a razor (Isaiah 7:20) and flowed through the land like a river (8:7). Assyria
killed thousands of Israelites in the North and scattered captives throughout
Persia (2 Kings 18:10–11).

6.2
Hezekiah to Zedekiah: Judah, the Surviving
Kingdom (2 Kings 18–24; 2 Chronicles 29–36)
LESSON
Remember that the history of the kingdom of Israel can be divided into three
segments: (1) the united kingdom, (2) the divided kingdom, and (3) the surviving
kingdom. The following chart gives a little more detail about each of these periods:
6.2.1
OBJECTIVE
summarize the reigns of United Kingdom Divided Kingdom Surviving
hezekiah, manasseh, and Kingdom
Josiah. (North/Israel) (South/Judah) (Judah alone)
Saul, David,
Jeroboam through Rehoboam Hezekiah through
and Solomon
Hoshea through Ahaz Zedekiah

1050–930 BC 930–722 BC 722–586 BC


100 Old Testament Survey

Only the Southern Kingdom of Judah survived the era of the divided
kingdom, continuing for about 150 years after the Northern Kingdom fell.
The surviving kingdom spans the era of eight kings and their reigns. Again,
the history is a mixture of the kings’ and the nation of Judah’s pleasing and
displeasing God.
Outline
The events and characters of the surviving kingdom may be outlined as follows:
Event or Topic 2 Kings 2 Chronicles
I. Hezekiah: A Righteous King 18–20 29–32
A. Judah returns to God 18:3–6 29–31
B. Hezekiah develops the nation 18:7–8 31:20–21
C. God saves Judah 18:13–20:37 32:1–23
D. Judah grows stronger 20:1–21 32:27–31
II. Manasseh: A Sinful King 21:1–18 33:1–20
A. Manasseh’s evil deeds 21:2–16 33:2–9
B. Manasseh’s repentance — 33:10–20
C. Manasseh’s son, Amon 21:19–25 33:21–25
III. Josiah: A Boy King 22:1–23:30 34–35
A. Religious revival 22–23 34–35:19
B. Huldah the prophetess 22:14–20 34:14–28
C. Jeremiah the prophet — 35:25
D. Josiah’s sudden death 23:29 35:20–27
IV. The Last Kings of Judah 23:31–25:30 36
A. Jehoahaz: 609 BC (3 months) 23:31–33 36:1–4
B. Jehoiakim: 609–598 BC 23:36–24:7 36:5–8
C. Jehoiachin: 598–597 BC 24:6–16 36:8–10
(3 months)
D. Zedekiah: 597–586 BC 24:18–20 36:11–14
E. Jeremiah and the last kings — 35:25

Hezekiah (2 Kings 18–20; 2 Chronicles 29–32)


Hezekiah, the son of Ahaz, began to reign in 716 BC and ruled for twenty-nine
years. Assyria had conquered the Northern Kingdom six years earlier, in 722 BC.
11 Identify positive, Hezekiah did not follow the evil example of his father. Instead, he led the
significant aspects of King nation in a restoration of righteousness that included cleansing the temple,
Hezekiah’s rule. restoring the divinely prescribed worship patterns, removing idols, sacrificing
offerings for sin, and participating in great thanksgiving celebrations. “He
immediately set about to reverse the damage done to the political and religious
life of the nation under Ahaz, charging the priests and Levites to refurbish the
temple and to prepare for covenant renewal. This they did in Hezekiah’s very first
month (29:11–19)” (Dyer and Merrill 2001, 334).
Hezekiah not only strengthened the nation politically and economically
but also built up an army. To bring fresh water into the city of Jerusalem, he
constructed a tunnel that connected the Pool of Siloam with the spring at Gihon
The Southern Kingdom of Judah (1 and 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles 10–36) 101

and was dug through 1,777 feet of solid rock. He also extended the wall of
Jerusalem around the Pool of Siloam. At the same time Hezekiah instituted
measures to protect the city from enemies, he exhorted the people to rely on the
Lord for divine protection (2 Chronicles 32:6–8).
In 701 BC, Sennacherib, king of Assyria, threatened Jerusalem and led his
army into Palestine to quench the anti-Assyrian rebellions. The Assyrian army
captured forty-six walled cities, including many strong cities in the kingdom
of Judah. Sennacherib demanded that Judah surrender to his powerful army,
but Isaiah urged Hezekiah to trust in the Lord. King Hezekiah and the nation
prayed, and in response to their prayer, God sent an angel who killed 185,000
soldiers and leaders in the Assyrian camp (2 Kings 19:35; Isaiah 37:36). An
embarrassed Sennacherib returned to his own country, and soon after, some of
his own sons killed him.
12 What happened to After this, Hezekiah became very sick. When the prophet Isaiah told
Hezekiah when the prophet Hezekiah he would die, Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall, wept, and
Isaiah told him he would die? prayed. God answered his prayers and added fifteen years to Hezekiah’s life
(2 Kings 20:1–11).
As word reached the surrounding nations about how God saved King
Hezekiah and Judah from Assyria, many sent valuable gifts to the king
(2 Chronicles 32:22–23). When the rulers of Babylon sent messengers with
gifts and encouraging letters, King Hezekiah welcomed them with open arms,
showing the visitors everything in his kingdom and the wealth in his storehouses.
Isaiah rebuked him for his pride, warning that judgment would come to Judah for
Hezekiah’s foolish action. He prophesied that one day Babylon would carry off
everything in the palace (2 Kings 20:12–19).
When Hezekiah died in 686 BC, the people of Judah honored him because
of his effective political and spiritual leadership (2 Chronicles 32:33).
Despite his faults, “Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There
was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after
him” (2 Kings 18:5).

Manasseh (2 Kings 21:1–18; 2 Chronicles 33:1–20)


Manasseh’s Evil
Manasseh, Hezekiah’s son, began ruling with his father in 696 BC. After
Hezekiah’s death ten years later, Manasseh ruled for approximately forty-
five more years. Unfortunately, Manasseh followed in his grandfather Ahaz’s
footsteps more than in his father’s. That is, Manasseh was an evil king who
rejected righteousness and promoted and practiced idolatry of all kinds. As part
of these practices, he placed idols in God’s temple and sacrificed children to
the false god Molech in the valley of Hinnom. Historical tradition claims that
Manasseh ordered Isaiah to be sawed in half. He filled Jerusalem with innocent
blood, from one end to the other (2 Kings 21:16). Because of these acts, some
consider Manasseh to be the wickedest of Judah’s kings.
Manasseh’s Repentance
13 What does King Yet, in spite of Manasseh’s extreme wickedness and sinful practices, he
Manasseh’s life portray about eventually repented after Assyria attacked Judah and took him in chains to
God, and why? Babylon. Upon his return to Jerusalem, Manasseh removed the idols and altars
from God’s temple and rebuilt the altar of the Lord. Manasseh even commanded
the people to serve the one true God (2 Chronicles 33:11–16). The change in
102 Old Testament Survey

King Manasseh is a great example of God’s mercy. His life demonstrates that
God will forgive anyone who repents, even the worst of sinners.
Manasseh’s Son, Amon
When Manasseh died, his son Amon became king. Amon ruled for only two
years before his own officers killed him. He promoted and practiced idolatry,
once again leading the kingdom of Judah away from God.

Josiah (2 Kings 22:1–23:30; 2 Chronicles 34–35)


The people of Judah killed King Amon’s murderers and made Josiah,
Amon’s son, king. Only eight years old when he assumed the throne, Josiah
ruled for approximately thirty-one years. At sixteen, Josiah began to seek
the Lord, and at the age of twenty, he began to lead the nation back to God
(2 Chronicles 34:3).
14 Describe King Josiah’s A few years later, Josiah led a campaign to repair and restore the temple.
reign and its effects on Judah During this time, the book of the Law was discovered, perhaps having been
as a nation. hidden and even some copies destroyed during Manasseh’s reign. When
Shaphan, a secretary, read the law of Moses to the young king, it affected
Josiah deeply. The king repented, lamenting how sinful Judah had become.
When he sent people to the prophetess Huldah to inquire of the Lord, Huldah
warned that judgment was coming. However, she said, because the king and
his people sought the Lord, God would delay His judgment to spare Josiah. As
a result, Josiah’s reign was quiet and peaceful, and he led Judah back to God
until the end of his reign.
A few years before Josiah’s spiritual revival began, the nations of Babylon
and Media united. In 612 BC, they destroyed Nineveh, the capital of Assyria.
Since this defeat affected the entire Fertile Crescent, in 609 BC, Pharaoh Neco of
Egypt marched his army north to head off the threat against his nation.
Although Neco did not want to fight Judah, Josiah would not turn back from
engaging him in battle. During the fight, Josiah disguised himself and was shot
with an arrow. He died within a short time at the age of thirty-nine. “The Bible
does not say if he had consulted the Lord before this battle. Apparently he simply
made a military decision that proved unsuccessful” (Brubaker 2003b, 758). The
people of Judah mourned their king, and the prophet Jeremiah wrote a lament in
memory of Josiah (2 Chronicles 35:25).

6.2.2 The Last Kings of Judah (2 Kings 23:31–25:30; 2 Chronicles 36)


OBJECTIVE
describe the events related “Josiah had three sons, and each in time ruled over Judah. . . . Yet all
to the last kings of Judah. three failed to follow their father in obeying God” (Wood 1970, 370). First,
the people made his son Jehoahaz king “because of the almost total social
15 Which kings were and political breakdown that followed the untimely death of Josiah” (Dyer
Josiah’s sons, and what and Merrill 2001, 338). The ungodly reign of Jehoahaz (also called Shallum
characterized all their reigns? in 1 Chronicles 3:15 and Jeremiah 22:11) lasted only three months before
Neco deposed him by demanding taxes and carrying him off to Egypt. This
fulfilled Jeremiah’s prophecy recorded in Jeremiah 22:10–12. After capturing
Jehoahaz, Neco placed Jehoahaz’s brother Eliakim on the throne and changed
his name to Jehoiakim.
Four years later, in 605 BC, Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon defeated Neco
and overtook Judah, confiscating treasure from the temple and taking some of
the finest young men as prisoners. Among those taken to Babylon were Daniel
The Southern Kingdom of Judah (1 and 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles 10–36) 103

and his three friends, Hananiah (Shadrach), Mishael (Meshach), and Azariah
(Abednego) (Daniel 1:1–7).
In 597 BC, Jehoiakim rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar. Not long afterward,
Jehoiakim was killed and his son Jehoiachin became king. The nature of
Jehoiakim’s death is uncertain, but he was killed “possibly in battle or
assassinated by political enemies” (Brubaker 2003b, 760).
Like his uncle Jehoahaz, Jehoiachin reigned only three months. Jehoaichin’s
reign “is labeled an ‘evil’ one by the writer of Kings” (Brubaker 2003b, 760).
In 597 BC, when Nebuchadnezzar again invaded Judah and marched his army
to Jerusalem, Jehoiachin surrendered. Nebuchadnezzar confiscated more wealth
and took Jehoiachin, craftsmen, and other leaders as prisoners—“a total of ten
thousand” (2 Kings 24:14)—including the prophet Ezekiel.
Nebuchadnezzar then selected Mattaniah, Josiah’s youngest son, to be his
puppet-king and changed his name to Zedekiah (2 Kings 24:17). Zedekiah
was the last king to rule over Judah in Jerusalem, but for eleven years, his
reign was merely as a servant to the nation of Babylon (2 Chronicles 36:11).
Meanwhile, the Egyptians constantly pressured him to join them in resistance
against Babylon. Zedekiah finally succumbed and agreed to this dangerous
military plan.
The last of Judah’s kings, Zedekiah, was another son of Josiah, perhaps
the worst of the lot. He rebelled against the Lord and Nebuchadnezzar
(36:13), and for the latter indiscretion he paid not only with his own life
but also . . . that of a great many of his fellow citizens. With fury, the
Babylonians came, decimating the population, robbing and destroying the
temple and city, and carrying off those who remained alive (36:17–20).
(Dyer and Merrill 2001, 339)
Zedekiah escaped to Jericho, but soldiers caught him, blinded him, put him
in chains, and took him to Babylon. The kingdom of Judah ceased to exist as a
nation. The people were now in exile:
In 586–582 BC, Babylon destroyed Judah and took the survivors into exile.
Thus, the night of exile settled over the Southern Kingdom. God’s judgment
on his people was complete. Both the histories of Kings and of Chronicles
reveal sad stories of what happened to a people and their kings when they were
consistently disobedient to God’s covenant. The words of God to Moses came
true. Violation of the commands of God brought death and a seventy-year
“night” of exile. (Brubaker 2003b, 763)
Yet hope in God remained, for the Exile would not last forever.
16 What is the benefit of Clearly, there is much to be learned from the history of both good and evil kings
studying both good and evil and periods of righteousness and idolatry. The purpose of these Old Testament
kings and the impact of their narratives is most likely both historical and theological. Theologically, the intent
reigns?
of this involved (and sometimes complex) history is to commend obedience out
of proper motives and to warn against disobedience. It also demonstrates the
sovereignty of God in spite of human mistakes, sin, and poor decisions.
Review all of the kings of Judah by studying the following chart. In regard to
years of reign, remember that sometimes one king’s rule overlapped another’s.
104 Old Testament Survey

Kings of Judah
Years of Relationship
King Character 1 Kings 2 Kings 2 Chron.
Reign with Israel
  1. Rehoboam 17 Bad War 12:1–14:31 –– 10:1–12:16

  2. Abijah 3 Bad War 15:1–8 –– 13:1–22

  3. Asa 41 Good War 15:9–24 –– 14:1–16:14

  4. Jehoshaphat 25 Good Alliance 22:41–50 –– 17:1–20:37

  5. Jehoram 8 Bad Peace –– 8:16–24 21:1–20

8:25–29;
  6. Ahaziah 1 Bad Alliance –– 22:1–9
9:27–29

  7. Athaliah 8:25–28;
6 Bad Peace –– 22:10–23:21
(Queen) 11:1–20

  8. Joash 40 Good Peace –– 11:1–12:21 22:10–24:27

  9. Amaziah 29 Good War –– 14:1–20 25:1–28

10. Uzziah
52 Good Peace –– 15:1–7 26:1–23
(Azariah)

11. Jotham 16 Good War –– 15:32–38 27:1–9

12. Ahaz 16 Bad War –– 16:1–20 28:1–27

13. Hezekiah 29 Good — –– 18–20 29–32

14. Manasseh 55 Bad — –– 21:1–18 33:1–20

15. Amon 2 Bad — –– 21:19–23 33:21–25

16. Josiah 31 Good — –– 22:1–23:30 34:1–35:27

17. Jehoahaz 3 months Bad — –– 23:31–33 36:1–4

18. Jehoiakim 11 Bad — –– 23:34–24:5 36:5–7

19. Jehoiachin 3 months Bad — –– 24:6–16 36:8–10

20. Zedekiah 11 Bad — –– 24:17–25:7 36:11–21


The Southern Kingdom of Judah (1 and 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles 10–36) 105

T Test Yourself
Circle the letter of the best answer.
6
CHAPTER

1. Israel and Judah saw seventy-five years of political 6. When Assyria besieged Jerusalem, which
alliance in which period of the divided kingdom? prophet urged Hezekiah to trust in the Lord?
a) First a) Jeremiah
b) Second b) Isaiah
c) Third c) Zechariah
d) Fourth d) Amos
2. The first king of the Southern Kingdom was 7. Which king of Judah sacrificed children to
a) Asa. Molech in the valley of Hinnom?
b) Jehoshaphat. a) Manasseh
c) Jeroboam. b) Josiah
d) Rehoboam. c) Joash
d) Amon
3. Who immediately killed all his brothers once he
was made king of Judah? 8. Jeremiah wrote a lament in memory of King
a) Jehoshaphat a) Manasseh.
b) Asa b) Zedekiah.
c) Jehoram c) Josiah.
d) Abijah d) Joash.
4. When Athaliah tried to destroy David’s lineage 9. The last king to rule over Judah in Jerusalem was
through Jehoshaphat, God spared a) Josiah.
a) Asa. b) Jehoahaz.
b) Joash. c) Jehoiachin.
c) Jehoram. d) Zedekiah.
d) Jehoshaphat.
10. The purpose of the Old Testament narratives of
5. Which king helped to kill Zechariah, son of the kings is
Jehoiada? a) historical.
a) Joash b) theological.
b) Amaziah c) instructional.
c) Uzziah d) both historical and theological.
d) Jehoram
106 Old Testament Survey

Responses to Interactive Questions


Chapter 6
Some of these responses may include information that is supplemental to the IST. These questions are intended
to produce reflective thinking beyond the course content and your responses may vary from these examples.
1 Approximately how long did the Southern Kingdom last?
Approximately 350 years
2 How long was the first period of Judah, and how is it characterized?
The first period lasted sixty years and was characterized by war with Israel.
3 Who were the first and last kings of this period, and how are they remembered?
Rehoboam reigned at its beginning and turned to idolatrous practices. Asa ended it with a righteous reign.
4 What characterized Judah’s second period, and how long did it last?
The second period was seventy-five years of political alliance between Israel and Judah.
5 What king’s reign is sometimes considered one of Judah’s most spiritual times? What did he do to bring
this about?
King Jehoshaphat restored some godly practices, sent teachers to teach the Law of Moses, established peaceful
relations with other nations, and led Judah in prayer and fasting.
6 How could seven-year-old Joash have the wisdom to reign as king?
The godly priest Jehoiada heavily influenced Joash at the beginning of his reign, and that period was known as
the period of Jehoiada’s godly influence.
7 Who were the first and last kings of the second period in Judah’s history? Compare their reigns.
King Jehoshaphat began the second period, and King Joash ended it. King Jehoshaphat reestablished some
commendable practices, although his rule is best characterized as a mixture of spiritual and unspiritual
leadership. King Joash began his reign as a godly king but turned to idolatry at the end.
8 How long did the third period last, and how was it characterized?
The third period lasted seventy-five years and was characterized by war between Israel and Judah.
9 Which king began Judah’s third period, and what characteristic of his reign was similar to earlier Judean kings?
Although King Amaziah began his reign well, it did not end well.
10 Who was the final king of Judah during the divided kingdom, and what was his tragic mistake?
King Ahaz did not take the prophet Isaiah’s counsel, which was to not be afraid and to trust in God alone.
Instead, he turned to the nation of Assyria for help and led the people into idolatry.
11 Identify positive, significant aspects of King Hezekiah’s rule.
King Hezekiah led the nation in righteousness restoration—cleansing the temple, removing idols, restoring
prescribed worship patterns, and reinstituting sacrificial sin offerings and thanksgiving celebrations.
12 What happened to Hezekiah when the prophet Isaiah told him he would die?
Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed. God answered by adding fifteen years to his life.
The Southern Kingdom of Judah (1 and 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles 10–36) 107

13 What does King Manasseh’s life portray about God, and why?
Manasseh was considered the most wicked king Judah ever had (in addition to other horrors he committed, he
ordered Isaiah to be tied between two boards and sawed in half), but when he was taken to Babylon in chains,
he repented and returned to Judah to lead the people in serving the one true God. His life shows that God
forgives anyone who repents, even the worst sinner.
14 Describe King Josiah’s reign and its effects on Judah as a nation.
King Josiah sought the Lord, and at the age of twenty, he began to lead the nation back to God. During his
reign, he led a campaign to repair the temple, and the book of the Law was discovered. Because he and the
people sought God, the judgment of Judah was delayed.
15 Which kings were Josiah’s sons, and what characterized all their reigns?
Although Josiah was a godly king, all three of his three sons—Jehoahaz, Eliakim (renamed Jehoikim), and
Zedekiah, the last king to rule Judah—“failed to follow their father in obeying God.”
16 What is the benefit of studying both good and evil kings and the impact of their reigns?
It (1) commends obedience and proper motives, (2) warns against disobedience and (3) demonstrates God’s
sovereignty in spite of human mistakes, sin, and poor decisions.
7
108 Old Testament Survey

The Postexilic Books


CHAPTER (Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther)
Because of the prophecies of Isaiah, Micah, and Jeremiah, the captive people
of Judah knew that the Exile was divine judgment for their sins. Yet, just as the
prophets had warned of the coming exile, they also gave the people of Judah a
promise: God would restore them. When Cyrus made the decree in 538 BC, the
people were free to return home and begin the task of rebuilding their homeland.
As the final three historical books, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther give us the
history of God’s people after the Babylonian exile. They describe Jewish life
from the return to Jerusalem through the close of the Old Testament.

Lesson 7.1 Ezra: The Rebuilding of the Temple


Objectives
7.1.1 discuss the author, purpose, and setting of ezra.
7.1.2 summarize three stages of the exile and three stages of the Jews’ return.
7.1.3 contrast the themes of ezra 1–6 and ezra 7–10.

Lesson 7.2 Nehemiah: The Rebuilding of the Walls


Objective
7.2.1 analyze the character and work of nehemiah.

Lesson 7.3 Esther: The Protection of the Nation


Objectives
7.3.1 describe the main characters, ethics, and theme of esther.
7.3.2 explain the meaning of Purim.
The Postexilic Books (Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther) 109

7.1
Ezra: The Rebuilding of the Temple
LESSON Authorship and Ezra the Person
Most scholars believe that a single author or editor compiled the books of
Ezra and Nehemiah. Both books contain several official lists. The books deal
with the same chronological time period and appear to be sequential. In addition,
7.1.1
OBJECTIVE the Hebrew canon combines them into one book called Ezra. Some Bibles still
discuss the author, purpose, refer to Ezra and Nehemiah as 1 Ezra and 2 Ezra. For these reasons, the two
and setting of ezra. books are studied together (Arnold and Beyer 1999, 264).
Ezra was a priest and a scribe. The scribes had numerous responsibilities,
1 With what does Hebrew including copying, studying, and teaching the Law. Hebrew tradition credits him
tradition credit Ezra? with organizing the entire Old Testament into the Hebrew canon.
The development of writing systems in the ancient Near East led to the rise
of a professional class of scribes, and this held true for Hebrew society in Old
Testament times. In preexilic Israel these official secretaries were key figures
in the religious and civil administration. . . . During the period of the Hebrew
monarchies the scribes functioned as “diplomats” in a way, since their expertise in
the languages and the literature of the day facilitated international correspondence.
. . . The Levites also served as scribes and recorders for the temple
(2 Chron. 34:13, 18). After the fall of the Hebrew monarchies, the scribal class
in postexilic Israel was tied solely to the temple and more narrowly focused as to
function. These temple scribes were essentially a class of scholars who devoted
themselves to copying, preserving, publishing, and interpreting the Law of Moses
for the Hebrew people. Ezra is often identified as the precursor of this scribal
class (Ezra 7:1–10). By New Testament times, the scribes formed a powerful and
religious political class in Judaism. They became major opponents of the ministry
of Jesus, accusing him of violating Jewish law (cf. Matt. 23:2). (Hill and Walton
2000, 278)

Purpose and Theme


2 What does the book of The book of Ezra demonstrates God’s faithfulness to His promises and His
Ezra demonstrate about God? people. Especially through the seven official documents or letters included
in the book of Ezra, we see that God sovereignly used three Persian kings—
Cyrus, Artaxerxes I, and Darius—to assist the Jewish nation in returning to and
rebuilding their homeland. In addition, God used Ezra, Jeshua, Zerubbabel, and
Nehemiah as spiritual leaders in this time of restoration.
7.1.2
OBJECTIVE Setting
summarize three stages of The Exile and the Jews’ return to Jerusalem each involved three stages:
the exile and three stages
of the Jews’ return. The Exile
605 BC Daniel and others are taken (Daniel 1:1–7).
3 Identify the three stages 597 BC Ten thousand are taken, including Ezekiel (2 Kings 24:14).
of exile, including people 586 BC The rest of Judah is taken (2 Kings 25:11–21).
involved and dates. The Return
538 BC Zerubbabel leads 50,000 from Babylon to Jerusalem (Ezra 2).
4 Who led the three 458 BC Ezra leads 1,700 men and 5,000–10,000 women and children back
stages of the Jews’ return to to Jerusalem (Ezra 8:1-14, 18–21).
Jerusalem? 445 BC Nehemiah leads a group from Babylon to Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:1–10).

5 What is the primary Little is known about the exiles’ lives for the seventy years they were in Babylon.
setting of the book of Ezra? To return home, they had to travel approximately nine hundred miles, which took
110 Old Testament Survey

about four months. They arrived in Jerusalem to find that many Jewish family
members had been killed or scattered, and their homes, as well as the temple where
they had worshipped, had been burned. The book of Ezra describes the return of many
of the exiles and their struggles to rebuild the temple and restore their homeland.

Outline
I. The First Group Returns from Babylon, 1–2
II. At Home in Jerusalem, 3–4
III. The New Temple, 5–6
IV. The Second Group Returns from Babylon, 7–8
V. Reform, 9–10

The First Group Returns from Babylon (Ezra 1–2)


Because God is the sovereign King over all, He is the one who not only
establishes nations and leaders but also causes nations to cease. Cyrus, King
of Persia, conquered Babylon, and God moved his heart to help the captive
Jews go home. Daniel had prophesied this fall of Babylon when he interpreted
handwriting on the wall for King Belshazzar (Daniel 5). That same night, the
Medes and Persians overtook Babylon (5:30–31).
Approximately 160 years before, Isaiah had prophesied that a ruler named
Cyrus would allow the Jews to return and rebuild both Jerusalem and the temple.
Cyrus’ decree, recorded in Ezra 1:1–4, was unusual for those times, considering
that Assyria had scattered their captives and Babylonia had oppressed theirs. Thus,
God used Cyrus to accomplish His purposes. “The king’s heart is in the hand of the
Lord; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases” (Proverbs 21:1).
As about fifty thousand Jews prepared to leave Babylon, Cyrus gave them some
of the treasure that Nebuchadnezzar had taken from their temple. Zerubbabel led
this first group in their return to Jerusalem and in rebuilding the temple. Zerubbabel
was a grandson of King Jehoachin, a descendant of David, from the tribe of Judah.
The priest assigned to oversee religious matters was Jeshua or Joshua.

At Home in Jerusalem (Ezra 3–4)


After settling in Jerusalem, the returning Jews built an altar. They sacrificed
burnt offerings and joyfully celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles (Ezra 3:1–6).
This action showed that they were returning not just to land but also to their
religious values. God had cast their ancestors out of the land because of
disobedience. This first postexilic generation desired to please God. Pleasing
God meant offering to him the appropriate sacrifices. . . . The Feast of
Tabernacles . . . reminded them of their people’s time in the wilderness under
Moses. As God had taken care of Israel then, so he would take care of them
now. (Brubaker 2003a, 805)
6 What hindered the When the people of Samaria offered to help rebuild the temple in Jerusalem,
progress of rebuilding the the repatriated Jews refused (Ezra 4:1–3). Under Assyria, the Jews of the Northern
temple? Kingdom had intermarried with Gentiles, and their descendants had become known
as Samaritans. Due to their Assyrian captivity and Gentile roots, the Samaritans had
adopted the common religious practice of syncretism, a blend of different religions
and many gods; therefore, the Samaritans saw the one true God of the Hebrews
as only one of many different gods (2 Kings 17:24–41). The people of Samaria’s
The Postexilic Books (Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther) 111

idolatry and mixed heritage caused the Jews not only to reject the Samaritans’ help
with the temple but also to disapprove of intermarrying with them.
We must note that the issue against intermarriage was religious, not
racial. That is, God commanded the Jews not to marry Gentiles because they
worshipped idols and would turn the Jews away from Him (Deuteronomy 7:3–4).
God blessed mixed marriages in which the Gentile was God-fearing, however.
For instance, Boaz’s father Salmon married Rahab, and Boaz himself married
Ruth. Rahab and Ruth were both Gentiles, yet they were part of the lineage of
Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:5).
The returning Jews’ rejection angered the Samaritans. As a result, the
Samaritans hindered the Jews’ work on the temple for about sixteen years,
(536–520 BC). Ezra referred to the people of Samaria as enemies (Ezra 4:1), and
because of their opposition, it took twenty-five years to rebuild the temple.

The New Temple (Ezra 5–6)


When a new ruler named Darius came to power in Persia, he stopped the
Samaritans from hindering the Jews. Instead, he ordered Tattenai (the governor
of Trans-Euphrates) and his friends to send the Jews money from the province
of Syria (Ezra 6:6–12). With the opposition now ended, the prophets Haggai and
Zechariah urged the people to finish the temple. Haggai exhorted them to have as
much concern about God’s house as they had for their own houses.
Within five years, the rebuilding of the temple was complete. The Jews celebrated
joyfully as they dedicated the temple. Temple sacrifices were restored in accordance
with the law of Moses, and the hopes of the people who had returned were fulfilled.

7.1.3 The Second Group Returns from Babylon (Ezra 7–8)


OBJECTIVE
contrast the themes of Between Ezra 6 and Ezra 7 is a gap of sixty years. (Esther was queen during
ezra 1–6 and ezra 7–10. this period.) King Artaxerxes then commissioned Ezra, a scribe who was
thoroughly familiar with the law of Moses, to lead another group of Jews back to
Judah. Artaxerxes gave them money for the trip, returned the remaining treasures
the Babylonians had taken from the temple, and sent an official letter to kings
along the way. This favor from Artaxerxes came because “the hand of the Lord
his God” was on Ezra (Ezra 7:6). Some Jews chose to remain in Babylon, but
they helped the Jews who were returning.
Zerubbabel had led the first group of fifty thousand Jews back to their
homeland in 538 BC. Now, in approximately 458 BC, Ezra led the second group
to Jerusalem. This group included 1,700 men and 5,000–10,000 women and
children. The last four chapters of Ezra describe his journey and his work.

Reform (Ezra 9–10)


When Ezra arrived in Jerusalem, he discovered that many individuals,
including some leaders, were abandoning their faithfulness and commitment to
God. They had married people who worshipped idols and given their daughters
to pagan men. Ezra confronted them with their sin and led them in individual
and corporate repentance. The Jews divorced their foreign wives and sent them
and their children away. While these decisions seem harsh, Ezra did not want the
Jews to become exiles again.
7 What theological These last chapters of Ezra highlight the theological emphases of the book,
emphases are found in the including the viability of the community, repentance, covenant renewal in the
book of Ezra? postexilic community, and reaffirmation of divine sovereignty (Hill and Walton
112 Old Testament Survey

2000, 273–274). The activities of the postexilic community continue in the book
of Nehemiah when the Jews rebuild the walls of the city.
Chronology of Events in Ezra and Nehemiah
Date (BC) Event Scripture
539 Cyrus the Persian conquered Babylon. Daniel 5:30

Cyrus decreed that the Jews could return


Ezra 2:64;
539–538 home.
Daniel 9:2, 24–27
Daniel saw a vision of the seventy “sevens.”

Zerubbabel led fifty thousand back to


538 Ezra 2
Jerusalem.

538–537 Jews rebuilt the altar in Jerusalem. Ezra 3:1

538–537 Jews began rebuilding the temple. Ezra 3:8

536 Jews completed the foundation of the temple. Ezra 3:8–10

Samaritans hindered and stopped work on Ezra 4:1–5, 24;


536–520
the temple for sixteen years. Haggai 2:15–19

Darius I (Darius the Great) encouraged the


Jews to continue rebuilding the temple.
520 Ezra 4:24; Haggai 1:14
Haggai and Zechariah prophesied to
encourage the Jews to rebuild.

516 The Jews completed the temple. Ezra 6:15

Esther was queen sometime during the


483 Ezra 6–7; Esther 1–10
sixty-year gap between Ezra 6 and Ezra 7.

Ezra led 1,700 men and 5,000–10,000 women


458 Ezra 7–8
and children from Babylon to Jerusalem.

Ezra mourned over the mixed marriages. He


458–457 formed a committee to send away all wives Ezra 9–10
and children of mixed marriages.

Nehemiah received permission from


Artaxerxes I to be governor of Jerusalem
445–444 and led the third group back to Jerusalem. Nehemiah 1–6; 5:14
They built the walls in fifty-two days.
Nehemiah was governor for twelve years.

When the wall was rebuilt, Ezra and


Nehemiah led the Jews in revival. All took an
oath to support the house of God and not to Nehemiah 7–10
444
marry foreigners. Nehemiah 11–12
Ten percent of the Jews moved into
Jerusalem. All dedicated the wall.

Nehemiah returned to Persia in the thirty-


second year of Artaxerxes. Later, he
returned to Jerusalem as governor for
433–425 a second term. The Jews had stopped Nehemiah 13
supporting the temple, and some had
married foreigners. Nehemiah and Malachi
led them back to God again.

Malachi preached to the sinning Jews in


430–420 Malachi 1–4
Judah and Jerusalem.
The Postexilic Books (Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther) 113

7.2
Nehemiah: The Rebuilding of the Walls
As discussed in the previous lesson, although the authorship of Ezra and
LESSON Nehemiah is largely unknown, many consider them to be the work of one
author or compiler. Ezra and Nehemiah lived and ministered at the same time as
the prophets Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. For this reason, some scholarly
references study all of these books together.
7.2.1
OBJECTIVE Ezra and Nehemiah were contemporaries, albeit with different backgrounds.
analyze the character and Ezra was a scribe and priest. Nehemiah was involved in government as cupbearer
work of nehemiah. and confidant to King Artaxerxes of Persia and later governor in Israel. While the
book of Ezra concentrates on the rebuilding of the temple, Nehemiah’s writings
8 Who was Nehemiah, and emphasize the rebuilding of the walls around Jerusalem. Ezra led the second
what was his political position? group of Jews back to Jerusalem, and Nehemiah led the third and final group.

Outline
I. Nehemiah Sent by King Artaxerxes, 1:1–2:8
II. Nehemiah’s Mission in Jerusalem, 2:9–6:16
III. Ezra Brings Change, 7–10
IV. Nehemiah’s Program and Policies, 11–13

Nehemiah’s Mission (Nehemiah 1–6)


9 Describe Nehemiah’s After arriving in Jerusalem, Nehemiah led the nation as governor for twelve
character, giving examples of years. He set an example for the people, working on the wall beside them
each aspect. as a servant rather than as a dictating supervisor. Nehemiah had tremendous
organizational abilities, including delegation of tasks to various individuals
(Nehemiah 3). Because of his organizational skills and his love for the people,
the Jews carried out their tasks with diligence and proper motivation. Although
their enemies vigorously mocked and laughed at them, the people under
Nehemiah’s leadership did not become discouraged but kept working until
the wall was halfway up (4:6). The enemies—led by Gershem, Tobiah, and
Sanballat—then stopped laughing and planned to attack them.
Fervently praying for God’s protection, Nehemiah and the Jews worked from
dawn to dark. Approximately half of the people worked on the wall while the
other half guarded them with shields, spears, and bows. Some carried materials to
build in one hand and a sword in the other (4:13–18). Since they worked all day,
they finished the wall in only fifty-two days (6:15)! Their enemies were shamed,
and the Jews gained respect from other nations.
When he learned that the people of Jerusalem were struggling to feed their
families and to pay taxes, Nehemiah called a public meeting to correct religious
leaders who charged high interest rates on loans. The leaders repented, promising
to return the interest money and not to charge interest in the future. Nehemiah
himself refused to take tax money for food during his twelve years of service, and
he did not acquire any land for himself (5:14–18).
Nehemiah exemplifies faithfulness and a close relationship with God.
Throughout Nehemiah’s account, we often find him pausing to say a quick, simple
prayer. Some in our day want to minimize the work God has called us to do and
focus exclusively on prayer. Others minimize the importance of prayer and focus
exclusively on the work God has called us to do. Nehemiah teaches us that both are
equally important, although this does not necessarily imply equal time spent in both.
114 Old Testament Survey

Ezra’s Infl uence (Nehemiah 7–10)


After the wall was rebuilt, Nehemiah set up a guard system for the entire city
and required the Jews in Judah to register, as he planned to ask some of them to
move to the vacant areas along the inside of the wall (7:1–5). Nehemiah and Ezra
also restored the temple ministry involving the priests and Levites.
At the seventh month, Nehemiah suspended his registration project so the
people could observe the Feasts of Trumpets and Tabernacles as well as the Day
of Atonement. As part of the celebrations, Ezra led the people in the reading and
interpretation of the Law. Ezra, Nehemiah, and the priests taught the people for
many days, and on the Day of Atonement, the Jews fasted and confessed their sins.
On the Feast of Trumpets, the people gathered in the Water Gate square. Ezra,
standing on a high platform, read from the Torah of Moses. From time to time,
he would stop to let the Levites explain or interpret what had been read. The
people stood to listen. They raised their hands and shouted, “Amen! Amen!”
They bowed in worship. The Word convicted their hearts and they wept. Ezra,
Nehemiah, and the leaders recognized the hand of God upon this event. They
called for a celebration because the people had heard and understood the
Scripture. (Brubaker 2003a, 823)

Programs and Policies (Nehemiah 11–13)


Once the wall was secure, the people cast lots to see who would move into
the city, and ten percent of the Jews moved into Jerusalem (Nehemiah 11:1–2).
When Nehemiah dedicated the wall, the whole province of Judah attended.
Ezra and Nehemiah each led a group of leaders and choir members around the
top of the new wall, and the two groups met at the temple, where the people
sang and gave praise to God.
Around 433–432 BC, Nehemiah went back to Persia (modern Iran) to
continue his service to King Artaxerxes (13:6). He later returned to Jerusalem to
discover that foreign neighbors had once again influenced the Jews to turn away
from God. Forcing the foreigners to leave, Nehemiah cleansed the temple and
restored temple and Sabbath worship as well as other observances. He reminded
the leaders that sin had led to exile, and he made some difficult decisions to
restore righteousness in the land. The book of Nehemiah ends with his recurring
prayer: “Remember me with favor, O my God” (13:31).

7.3
Esther: The Protection of the Nation
When Zerubbabel led fifty thousand Jews from the Persian Kingdom, many
LESSON Jews chose to stay in Persia. By that time, the Jews had been living in Babylon or
Persia for about one hundred years, and many like Esther or Mordecai had never
seen the land of Israel. Some estimate that approximately two to three million
Jews remained in Persia (Keil and Delitzsch 1976, 308).
7.3.1
OBJECTIVE Although the author of Esther is unknown, he may have been one of the
describe the main Jews who lived in Persia. The events described in Esther took place between
characters, ethics, and Zerubbabel’s and Ezra’s returns to Jerusalem; that is, the story occurred
theme of esther. between Ezra 6 and Ezra 7. Esther became queen of Persia in 478 BC, in the
The Postexilic Books (Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther) 115

seventh year of Xerxes (Esther 2:16), and reigned at least thirty years before
Nehemiah served in the Persian court.
10 Who were the main It would be difficult to find a more riveting, dramatic, and suspense-filled
characters in the book of plot in the pre-Hellenistic world than the book of Esther. Although the
Esther? book is in the center of a number of swirling controversies, they all fade
into the background as we are introduced to the colorful cast: pompous and
impressionable Xerxes/Ahasuerus, who is thwarted by his unruly and defiant
Queen Vashti and repeatedly manipulated by all; the diabolical archvillian,
Haman, and above all, the beautiful, wise, and courageous Esther at center
stage. (Hill and Walton 2000, 281)
11 What is a unique aspect Note that Esther is one of two books of the Bible that do not mention God’s
of the book of Esther? name (the other book is Song of Songs). For this reason, some have suggested
that Esther should not be part of the Old Testament canon. Yet God’s hand is seen
throughout the book. The author crafts the story so the message is clear: God is the
one who sovereignly protects the nation through the major characters in the book.

Outline
One possible outline of Esther focuses on the feasts celebrated: the feasts
of Xerxes (1:1–2:18), the feasts of Esther (2:19–7:10), and the feast of Purim
(8:1–10:3) (Brubaker 2003a, 828). However, we will use the following outline:
I. Esther Becomes Queen, 1–2
II. Haman Seeks to Destroy the Jewish People, 3–5
III. God Delivers the Jews through Esther, 6–10

Esther as Queen (Esther 1–2)


When Queen Vashti of Persia rebelled and refused to obey her husband, King
Xerxes, a furious Xerxes sought counsel from his advisors. Xerxes acted on their
recommendation that Vashti be deposed as queen, but later, he began to miss
her. Then his advisors suggested that he choose a new, beautiful queen from the
virgins of his kingdom (Esther 2:2). Among those selected was a young Jewish
girl named Hadassah. Her Persian name was Esther, perhaps meaning “star.” An
orphan, Esther had been adopted by her cousin Mordecai (2:7).
After Xerxes chose Esther to be his queen, Mordecai sat at the king’s gate
with the “royal officials” (Esther 3:2), which enabled him to communicate with
Esther. Because of his location, he discovered that two guards were plotting to
kill the king. Through Esther, Mordecai reported the plot to King Xerxes, and the
guards were hanged. The official records of the kingdom indicated that Mordecai
had spared the king’s life (2:21–23).

Haman’s Plot against the Jews (Esther 3–5)


Sometime afterward, Haman became an adviser to the king. In fact, King
Xerxes made Haman the second-most powerful individual in the kingdom,
directly under himself, and commanded that the other nobles bow down to
Haman. Mordecai refused. This enraged Haman, who devised a plot to destroy
not only Mordecai but all of Mordecai’s people—the Jews. Declaring that the
Jews did not obey the king’s laws, Haman convinced King Xerxes to sign a law
to destroy them (3:8–11). Neither the king nor Haman was aware that Queen
Esther was a Jew.
116 Old Testament Survey

God’s Deliverance through Esther (Esther 6–10)


But God’s plan and purpose was to work through Esther. Warning her that she
was also in danger, Mordecai persuaded Esther to go to the king and plead for
mercy for the Jewish people, even though she risked her own life by doing so. He
indicated that God may have made Esther queen “for such a time as this” (4:14).
Esther arranged two private dinners with Xerxes and Haman to disclose
Haman’s plot. Just before the second dinner, the king’s insomnia resulted
in his finding out that Mordecai had not been rewarded for discovering the
assassination plot. For his reward, Xerxes commanded Haman to honor
Mordecai by taking him around town on the king’s horse. At the second dinner
Esther told Xerxes that she was Jewish and that Haman desired to kill the Jews.
The king commanded Haman’s death. (Brubaker 2003a, 829–830)
Because the law did not allow Xerxes to change the original edict, he issued
a new edict that allowed the Jews to prepare for the day of attack and defend
themselves, which they successfully did. In two days of fighting, the Jews killed
seventy-five thousand of their enemies (Esther 8:11–9:16).
7.3.2 The Jews celebrated their deliverance at a feast they named Purim. In Old
OBJECTIVE Testament times, people cast a pur, or lot, to make choices. The word purim
explain the meaning of means “two or more lots.” The Jews called their feast Purim to remind them
Purim. that although Haman had used a pur to choose a day to destroy them, God was
faithful and delivered them (Esther 9:19–28).
12 Why was the name Purim
chosen for the celebration Purpose and Theme
feast?
Even though God is not mentioned, the theological theme of the book of
Esther is undoubtedly God’s sovereignty and protection of His people and
13 How would you describe
the theme of Esther? chosen nation. At the same time, the book reveals several aspects about the
character of Queen Esther:
14 What details about • God gave her favor with everyone who saw her (2:9, 15, 17).
Esther’s character emerge • She turned to the Lord through prayer and fasting (4:15–16).
from the story?
• She cared more about her people than her own life (7:3; 8:6).
• She used wisdom in dealing with Haman (5:1–8; 7:1–10).
• She submitted to God’s plan for her involvement in the deliverance of His
people (8–9).
The story contains a remarkable series of “coincidences.” Esther happened to
be selected as Vashti’s successor; Mordecai happened to uncover the plan to
assassinate the king; Ahasuerus happened to have insomnia on the night before
Haman planned to kill Mordecai; the selection of royal chronicles read to the
king that night happened to contain the report of Mordecai’s good deed. These
“coincidences” are not limited to the realm of God’s people. Persian kings and
royal officials also move and act under the unseen hand of the great Sovereign
Lord. Though God is not mentioned, he is the central character of the book,
more so than Esther or Mordecai. This makes the book of Esther extremely
relevant for our day; for God is still sovereignly at work to save His people.
(Arnold and Beyer 1999, 277)
The Postexilic Books (Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther) 117

T Test Yourself
Circle the letter of the best answer.
7
CHAPTER

1. According to Jewish tradition, who organized 6. The man with exceptional organizational skills
the entire Old Testament Hebrew canon? who helped rebuild the walls of Jerusalem was
a) Nehemiah a) Ezra.
b) Ezra b) Zerubbabel.
c) Zerubbabel c) Zechariah.
d) Zechariah d) Nehemiah.
2. Cyrus’s permission for the Jews to return to 7. The theme of Nehemiah is the
Jerusalem was prophesied 160 years in advance by a) grace and forgiveness of the Lord.
a) Isaiah. b) judgment and wrath of God.
b) Jeremiah. c) rebuilding of the temple.
c) Zechariah. d) rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem.
d) Amos.
8. The events of the book of Esther took place
3. After Cyrus’s decree, who led the second group a) before the Jews returned to Jerusalem.
of Jews back to Jerusalem? b) between the first and second returns.
a) Ezra c) between the second and third returns.
b) Nehemiah d) after the final return of the Jews.
c) Zerubbabel
9. King Xerxes ordered a search for a new queen
d) Zechariah
because Vashti
4. Ezra 1–6 focuses on the return to Jerusalem a) rebelled and refused to obey him.
and the rebuilding of the temple, while Ezra 7–10 b) was old and unable to fulfill her duties.
describes c) was unable to have children.
a) the dedication of the priests. d) became ill and died.
b) Ezra’s journey and work.
10. Which feast celebrates the Jews’ deliverance
c) opposition from other nations.
from Haman and his plot?
d) Haggai and Zechariah’s prophetic ministry.
a) Trumpets
5. The Jews completed rebuilding the walls around b) Tabernacles
Jerusalem in how many days? c) Purim
a) Thirty d) Passover
b) Forty-eight
c) Fifty-two
d) Sixty-four
118 Old Testament Survey

Responses to Interactive Questions


Chapter 7
Some of these responses may include information that is supplemental to the IST. These questions are intended
to produce reflective thinking beyond the course content and your responses may vary from these examples.

1 With what does Hebrew tradition credit Ezra?


Hebrew tradition credits Ezra with organizing the entire Old Testament into the Hebrew canon. In addition, the
Hebrew canon combines Ezra and Nehemiah as one book called Ezra.
2 What does the book of Ezra demonstrate about God?
It demonstrates God’s faithfulness to His promise and His people, sovereignly using three Persian kings to
assist the Jewish nation in returning to their homeland and rebuilding it. God’s faithfulness also included using
Ezra, Jeshua, Zerubbabel, and Nehemiah as spiritual leaders in this time of restoration.
3 Identify the three stages of exile, including people involved and dates.
Daniel and others were taken to Babylon in 605 BC; Ezekiel and ten thousand more were exiled in
597 BC; and the rest of Judah was taken in 586 BC.
4 Who led the three stages of the Jews’ return to Jerusalem?
The three leaders were Zerubbabel (538 BC), Ezra (457 BC) and Nehemiah (445 BC).
5 What is the primary setting of the book of Ezra?
Much of the setting is in Jerusalem, where the Jews rebuilt the altar and completed the temple.
6 What hindered the progress of rebuilding the temple?
The Jews refused to let the Samaritans help with the temple because of their idolatry and mixed heritage. The
Samaritans became angry and effectively opposed the rebuilding.
7 What theological emphases are found in the book of Ezra?
The theological emphases include the viability of the community, repentance, covenant renewal in the
postexilic community, and reaffirmation of divine sovereignty.
8 Who was Nehemiah, and what was his political position?
Nehemiah was King Artaxerxes’ cupbearer and confidant and later became governor of Israel. He emphasized
rebuilding the walls and led the third and final group of exiles back to their homeland.
9 Describe Nehemiah’s character, giving examples of each aspect.
Nehemiah had a servant’s heart, working beside the people on the wall rather than dictating to them as
governor. He had tremendous organizational abilities, was able to delegate, loved the Jewish people, prayed
fervently, refused to take food money for his entire twelve years of service, and did not acquire land for
himself. Nehemiah was godly—he and Ezra restored the temple ministry, dedicated the wall, and led the people
in praise to God. After a time in Persia, he returned to Jerusalem and dispatched the foreigners, cleansed the
temple, and restored temple worship.
10 Who were the main characters in the book of Esther?
Courageous Esther, her wise uncle Mordecai, pompous King Xerxes, defiant Queen Vashti, and evil Haman
11 What is a unique aspect of the book of Esther?
Esther is one of two books of the Bible that do not mention God’s name anywhere, although His hand is seen
throughout the book. (The other book is Song of Songs.)
The Postexilic Books (Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther) 119

12 Why was the name Purim chosen for the celebration feast?
The name Purim was chosen because it means “two or more lots.” It would remind them that Haman had used
a pur to choose a day to destroy them, but God was faithful and delivered them.
13 How would you describe the theme of Esther?
It could be described as God’s sovereignty and protection of His people and chosen nation. The book also
reveals the character of Queen Esther.
14 What details about Esther’s character emerge from the story?
God gave Queen Esther favor with everyone who saw her, she turned to the Lord through prayer and fasting,
she cared more about her people than her own life, she was very wise in the way she dealt with Haman, and
she was the person God used to deliver the Jews. In other words, she was honorable and gracious, spiritual,
unselfish and loving, discerning and wise, and a willing instrument of God.

UNIT PROGRESS EVALUATION 2


Now that you have finished Unit 2, review the lessons in preparation for Unit Progress Evaluation 2. You
will find it in the Essential Course Materials section at the back of this IST. Answer all of the questions
without referring to your course materials, Bible, or notes. When you have completed the UPE, check your
answers with the answer key provided in the Essential Course Materials section, and review any items you
may have answered incorrectly. Then you may proceed with your study of Unit 3. (Although UPE scores do
not count as part of your final course grade, they indicate how well you learned the material and how well
you may perform on the closed-book final examination.)
120 Old Testament Survey
3
The Poetry and
UNIT Wisdom Books
The books of Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs are
sometimes designated as Wisdom Literature or the Poetical Books. These books
reflect the popular poetical writing styles of the Old Testament culture and era.
Just as languages differ in grammatical structure, so styles of poetry differ in
respective cultures. Simply put, Job and Psalms can be considered humanity’s
appeals to God for His assistance and wisdom in life circumstances. Proverbs,
Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs can be considered God’s appeals to humanity
for wise and righteous living. These five books relate God’s wisdom to the great
issues of life.

Chapter 8 Humanity’s Appeals to God (Job, Psalms)


Lessons
8.1 Job: Perseverance in Suffering
8.2 Psalms: Israel’s Hymnbook and Prayer Book
8.3 Psalms: Categories of Psalms

Chapter 9 Divine Appeals to Humanity (Proverbs, Ecclesiastes,


Song of Songs)
Lessons
9.1 Proverbs
9.2 Ecclesiastes
9.3 Song of Songs
8
122 Old Testament Survey

Humanity’s Appeals to God


CHAPTER (Job, Psalms)
The book of Job addresses the debate about the problem of suffering. That
is, Job deals with the age-old question, “If God is good and loving, why does
He allow people to suffer?” Why do tragedies occur in life? Why do children
and young people die? Why do phenomena like tsunamis, hurricanes, and
earthquakes cause so much death and destruction? These are not easy questions
to answer in any age or culture. In pursuit of these answers, the book of Job
describes the experience of a righteous individual who faced numerous tragic life
situations yet persevered in his faith in God.
Then, as a musical book (hymnbook) and prayer book for the nation of Israel,
Psalms highlights the gamut of human emotions. Its 150 prayers and songs were
originally set to music and expressed both confidence in God and other positive
and negative feelings common to humanity. Since emotions have changed very
little, if any, through the centuries, the book of Psalms continues to speak to us
and for us today.

Lesson 8.1 Job: Perseverance in Suffering


Objectives
8.1.1 describe the background and setting of Job and its possible authorship.
8.1.2 discuss insights from Job concerning God’s justice and human suffering.

Lesson 8.2 Psalms: Israel’s Hymnbook and Prayer Book


Objectives
8.2.1 discuss the historical background of the book of Psalms, including
authors and dates.
8.2.2 explain four types of parallel poetry.
8.2.3 Identify the five sections of the Psalms, and explain their importance.

Lesson 8.3 Psalms: Categories of Psalms


Objective
8.3.1 describe the seven main categories or genres of psalms.
Humanity’s Appeals to God (Job, Psalms) 123

8.1
Job: Perseverance in Suffering
LESSON Authorship and Date
The author and date of the book of Job are unknown. Some have speculated
that it was written during the time of Abraham, while others have suggested
various times up until the Exile. Those who believe the book may have been
8.1.1
OBJECTIVE written during Abraham’s time consider the following factors to be evidence for
describe the background their viewpoint:
and setting of Job and its • Job’s long life (about two hundred years) was common in the days of
possible authorship. Abraham, who lived 175 years (Genesis 25:7). Job lived another 140 years
after the events described in his book (Job 42:16).
1 What are some evidences • Job’s wealth, like Abraham’s, was measured by his animals (1:3; 42:12).
that the book of Job was
written during the time of • Job served as a priest for his family (1:5) as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob did.
Abraham? • In Job, God is called Shaddai (thirty-one times). This was the name for
God that Abraham and the other patriarchs used.
• The book of Job makes no reference to the law of Moses or any history of
the Israelites.
2 Are there enough clues Despite these factors, the clues as to the author and date of Job’s writing
in the book of Job to say are so minimal and so diverse that no firm conclusions are truly possible.
conclusively who authored it? Nevertheless, conservative scholarship agrees that the book of Job is inspired and
belongs in the canon of Scripture.

Setting
3 What is the setting for the According to Job 1:1, Job lived in Uz, a large area east of the Jordan. It included
book of Job? Edom in the south (Genesis 36:28; Lamentations 4:21) and Syrian lands in the
north (Genesis 10:23; 22:21). Thus, the story of Job took place in Arabia, not Israel.
While we are not told how Job came to place his faith in God, the Bible affirms that
Job “was the greatest man among all the people of the East” (Job 1:3).
Job’s friends Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, and Elihu apparently lived nearby
(Job 2:11). Eliphaz (an Edomite name) was from Teman, a city in Edom south
of the Dead Sea (Genesis 36:11; Jeremiah 49:7; Ezekiel 25:13; Amos 1:12;
Obadiah 9). Bildad was a Shuhite, perhaps signifying that he was a son of Shuah,
the youngest son of Abraham and Keturah (Genesis 25:2). We know little about
Zophar, but Elihu’s father was a Buzite (Job 32:2), possibly referring to Buz, an
eastern desert region (Jeremiah 25:23).
The book of Job is an inspired record of what took place between God, Satan,
Job, and Job’s four friends—Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, and Elihu. However, because
the individuals in the debate were of limited knowledge and God is the only
one who possesses infinite knowledge, not everything said in the book of Job is
theologically accurate. While it is important to read through every book of the
Bible in its entire context, this is especially true of the book of Job. The reader must
discern what God agrees and disagrees with in the ongoing events and conversation.
For instance, Satan lied about Job’s character and tenacity to persevere,
saying that Job would curse God if God removed his wealth (Job 1:11). But
Job remained faithful even when his wealth was destroyed. Although the Bible
accurately records Satan’s words, this does not mean that the words of Satan or
demons are inspired or true. Satan is clever, mixing truth and error as he did with
Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:4–5).
124 Old Testament Survey

Similarly, the Bible accurately records the discussion among Job’s friends,
but their words were also a mixture of truth and error. In the end, God rebuked
them and sent them to ask Job for prayer (Job 42:7–9). God told them, “You
have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has” (42:7). Job’s friends
attempted to correct and persuade Job by what they believed was true. However,
God insisted that they repent for their foolishness and folly (42:8).

8.1.2 Theme
OBJECTIVE
discuss insights from Job The term for the relationship of God’s goodness to human pain and suffering
concerning God’s justice is theodicy. How do we explain the problem inherent in theodicy? How do we
and human suffering. reconcile God’s being all powerful, all loving, and carrying out justice when we
often do not see justice effected in our lives and nations? How can a loving, good
God put up with the human problem of evil and suffering?
4 Identify four insights in Some individuals, particularly atheists and agnostics, reject any belief in God
the book of Job that relate to because they cannot reconcile this tension in their minds. Many believers also
the problem of theodicy. struggle with these questions. What a comfort it should be to believers that God
foresaw our human intellectual dilemma with this issue and devoted an entire
book of the Scriptures to it. Yet God does not give us a complete answer to this
dilemma for reasons that will not be known until eternity. Still, as the book of Job
wrestles with this perplexing issue, particularly in regard to the suffering of the
righteous, it provides several insights:
• God’s complete plan is not and will not be fully realized on this earth, but
only in the age to come in heaven. Some theologians call this the “already,
not yet” tension. That is, in one sense, God’s will is partially fulfilled now
(already) but will not be completely fulfilled until the future (not yet).
• Satan’s power is limited by God’s sovereign design. Satan can do nothing
without God’s permission (Job 1:12; 2:6); he is not God’s equal but a
created being. Satan does not have all power. Only God does!
• God tests and tries people. He also allows Satan to test and try people.
Although trials are extremely difficult to walk through, they teach us
valuable lessons and purify our faith. Because of his hardships, Job grew
in his faith and in humility (Job 42:1–10).
• Due to humanity’s fall in the Garden of Eden, we live in a sinful, fallen
world. Horrible things happen simply because we live under the curse
of sin (Genesis 3:14–19). Neither God nor Satan is responsible for such
events; nor are they caused by human will. Some trials are just part of
living in an imperfect world. Yet God is compassionate and walks with
the believer through every test, trial, and tragedy of life. Holding on to the
truth of God’s promises never to leave us and to be our Rock amidst life’s
storms helps to lessen the sting of the theodicy dilemma.

Outline
I. The Setting of Job’s Trials, 1–2
II. Talks between Job and His Three Friends, 3–27
III. Wisdom: Its Location, Value, and Meaning, 28
IV. Job’s Defense of His Innocence, 29–31
V. Elihu’s Four Speeches to Defend God, 32–37
VI. God’s Responses to Job, 38:1–42:6
VII. Job’s Restoration, 42:7–17
Humanity’s Appeals to God (Job, Psalms) 125

Job’s Trials Begin (Job 1–2)


Job was a righteous individual who feared God and turned away from all
evil (1:1, 8; 2:3). God had blessed him with numerous children and great wealth.
However, Satan claimed that the only reason Job served God was because of the
divine blessings. When God allowed Satan to test Job’s heart and life, Job lost all
of his children and all of his possessions.
In Job 1, a rapid series of tragedies occurred as messengers came one by one
to deliver bad news. While one was still speaking, another arrived with even
further bad news, culminating in the disclosure that Job’s children had been
destroyed “when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the
four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the
only one who has escaped to tell you!” (Job 1:19). Some scholars believe that
this “suggests a tornado or whirling wind, building in momentum as it whipped
across the desert” (Zuck 1978, 16).
Despite these grievous circumstances, Job remained faithful to God and
exhibited an incredible tenacity. Job believed that God, who freely gave, also had
the right to take away (Job 1:21).
In a second and later trial, God allowed Satan to affect Job’s health in a
serious manner. This time, even Job’s wife suggested that he curse God and die
(2:9). But Job held firm in insisting that he would not blame God. He was an
individual of great faith, patience, and perseverance (James 5:10–11).

Job and His Friends Talk (Job 3–27)


Three friends came to comfort and empathize with Job. They sat and mourned
in silence for a week at the beginning, truly demonstrating friendship. However,
after these seven days, the empathy turned into a discussion or debate about the
reasons for Job’s horrendous physical condition.
Despite their harsh rhetoric at times, these three were motivated by their love
and commitment to Job. Moved by the noblest intentions, Job’s friends arrived
to “sympathize with him and comfort him” (2:11). His suffering was so severe
they hardly recognized him. . . . Job’s lament in chapter 3 breaks the silence and
begins the dialogue. (Arnold and Beyer 1999, 294)
Job spoke first. Although he did not curse God, he cursed the day that he
was born, strongly wishing that his birthday had been wiped off the calendar
(Job 3:6). His life was so difficult and painful that he was convinced his fate was
worse than death (3:1–26).
As we consider the book of Job, note that the speeches revolve in an
interesting cycle. First, Eliphaz speaks and Job responds; then Bildad speaks
and Job answers; then Zophar speaks and is answered by Job. That is, Job 4–27
“contains three cycles of six speeches each. Each cycle includes a speech by
Job’s three friends, answered in turn by a speech from Job. The final cycle is
incomplete (chapters 22–26) since it omits the final speech by Zophar” (Arnold
and Beyer 1999, 294–295).
First Cycle (Job 4–14)
Eliphaz responded to Job’s initial lament with a strange mixture of positive
thinking and motivational theology. He exhorted Job to be strong. After all, Job
had encouraged others to be strong, so Eliphaz suggested that Job follow his own
advice, stay totally positive even in extreme negative circumstances, and put
his trust and faith in God. Eliphaz seemed unaware that his advice was easy to
126 Old Testament Survey

say but difficult to do. He did not appear to realize that what Job needed at that
moment was not self-righteous advice but empathy and concern.
Eliphaz believed that God cares for the innocent and judges the wicked (Job 4:3,
6–9). Therefore, according to Eliphaz, Job’s sickness must be a result of sin. Job’s
friend asserted that when people sin, they should welcome God’s discipline as the
pattern God uses to redeem them (5:17–20). Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar all shared
the belief that a person suffers because he or she has sinned. This is not God’s
viewpoint; rather, it is “Satan’s condemnation” (Brueggeman 2003b, 523).
In answer, Job observed that his friend’s words were worthless (Job 6:14–27).
Job was not looking for pat answers. Instead, Job spoke despairingly about his
painful life (7:3–8) and rhetorically asked why God appeared to be attacking him
by treating him in such a seemingly unworthy manner (7:11–19).
Bildad reprimanded Job for saying such things. Like Eliphaz, Bildad believed
in a cause-effect relationship between sin and suffering. He thought God had
allowed Job’s children to die because of their sin (8:4). In fact, he described
Job and all the wicked as plants without water or plants that try to root among
rocks instead of good soil (8:11–19). As soon as Job was again blameless, Bildad
asserted, God would restore his joy and laughter (8:20–22).
Job wanted to demonstrate that he was truly right with God but realized
he could not demand that his Maker and Judge explain himself (9:1–16). Job
believed that at times God treated the righteous just like the wicked. However,
proving such an assertion was not feasible (9:22) because there was no judge to
oversee and hear Job’s case (9:33–35).
Zophar’s reply was harsh; he was unjustifiably dogmatic and certain that his
comments were theologically accurate. He insisted that Job was lying about his
righteousness (11:3–4) and argued that if Job would only be persuaded to repent,
his darkness would turn into morning (11:17).
Job, in turn, maintained that he was indeed righteous. Job decided that his
friends’ assumptions were greatly flawed and that he would ignore their pious,
all-knowing advice. After all, God alone is truly wise and truly all-knowing. God
alone is all-powerful (12:1–6, 13–25). Acknowledging this, Job decided to move
ahead with his court case and complaint against God (13:1–19).
Second Cycle (Job 15–21)
In his second speech, Eliphaz attempted to refute Job’s complaint by lambasting
him and contending that Job’s words were windy and empty (15:1–6). He argued that
Job had rejected the wisdom of the elders and accused him of acting as though he had
secret knowledge from God (15:7–13). Eliphaz asserted that Job was purposefully
hiding his sin and wickedness (15:18–35). However, Eliphaz was wrong.
Both Bildad and Zophar supported Eliphaz’s presupposition that Job was sinful.
Bildad warned Job that the fate of the wicked is trouble and, in the end, death
(18:5–21). Zophar grouped Job with the wicked who would encounter God’s
burning anger (20:4–29). All three friends continued to believe that God was
disciplining and judging Job for sins he had committed in order to persuade him to
repent.
Since his friends refused to believe him, Job began speaking directly to God.
His style of speech in these chapters is similar to the lament psalms in that he
lamented his physical condition and spoke openly and honestly to God about his
negative feelings and current circumstances. He brought charges against God,
contending that God had brought trouble on him while he was at peace. God
Humanity’s Appeals to God (Job, Psalms) 127

had attacked him on every side, treating him like an enemy (16:7–17). Job cried
out for someone to see his trials and identify with him in his pain (16:18–22).
As far as comforting him, Job’s friends were useless. Job believed the righteous
would be shocked at how God had treated him (17:1–10; 19:1–12). People acted
like he was a social outcast. Even his wife, servants, and friends despised him
(19:13–22). His hope was that God would keep a record of his suffering and that
his Redeemer would justify him in the end (19:23–27).
Third Cycle (Job 22–27)
Eliphaz’s last speech was much like his first two. He insisted that the list of
Job’s sins was endless (22:5). He accused Job of stealing clothes, not giving
water or food to the needy, and refusing to help widows and orphans (22:6–9).
Eliphaz contended that these numerous sins explained Job’s intense suffering.
He urged Job to repent so that God could and would restore him (22:21–30).
Affirming Eliphaz’s beliefs, Bildad questioned whether any person can truly be
pure in God’s eyes (25:1–6).
Yet Job did not agree with his friends’ faulty assumptions. Whereas they
believed God always blesses the righteous and judges the wicked, Job claimed
there was significant evidence to the contrary. Many wicked people were happy
and rich and appeared to have no troubles (21:7–34; 24:1–17). Job wanted God to
explain His justice or, more accurately, what appeared to humans to be a lack of
justice. He knew that humans could not always fully understand God (26:5–14).
But Job wanted God to tell him why he suffered so much, why God was judging
him, when he was truly innocent (27:1–6). Even his friends thought he must be
wicked (27:7–23). What could he tell them? How could he defend himself? His
situation seemed hopeless.
Job Searches for Wisdom and Defends Himself (Job 28–31)
Job ended the discussion with his friends by giving four summarizing speeches.
The first was essentially a short poem that compared the search for wisdom with
the search for jewels and precious metals (Job 28). Both jewels and wisdom “can
be extracted only by arduous and even dangerous labor. They are hidden and
therefore of no practical value until they are found and brought to light (28:1–11)”
(Dyer and Merrill 2001, 391). Wisdom is the most valuable, although we do not
fully understand its worth (Job 28:13). People dig deep into the earth for gold and
other precious stones, “but where can wisdom be found?” (28:12). Wisdom appears
hidden from individuals; God alone knows where wisdom dwells (28:20–28).
In the other three summarizing speeches, Job defended his innocence before
God and humanity (29–31). Since Job’s debate with his friends ended in total
frustration, he gave one final, brief statement of his case. God had indeed blessed
him in the past, and he had been a respected man in society (29:1–25). But now
people mocked and dishonored him. God was apparently attacking him
(30:1–31), yet Job was innocent (31:1–40). Job wanted God to explain how this
could be truly just from a divine perspective.

Elihu Defends God (Job 32–37)


A fourth friend had been listening to the others’ debate, growing angrier as it
progressed (32:2–3). Ancient culture emphasized respect for one’s elders. Thus,
as the youngest of the group, Elihu had shown that respect by remaining silent
until the others had finished speaking (32:4–7). Yet Elihu could stay quiet no
longer. He contended that he was full of words, like an animal skin about to burst
with new wine (32:18–19).
128 Old Testament Survey

Elihu claimed that Job erred in saying that God did not answer his complaints.
Elihu asserted that God speaks through visions, dreams, pain, and even angels
(33:14–15, 19, 23). Throughout the discourse, Elihu defended God’s seeming
silence by emphasizing His sovereignty and power.

God Responds to Job (38:1–42:6)


5 What were the main Finally, God broke the lengthy divine silence and challenged Job in two
points of God’s two speeches different speeches. First, He questioned Job about the creation of the world. Where
to Job? was Job when God laid the foundation of the earth? God created and controls the
sea, the light, the world, and the weather (38:1–38). He understands and controls
the lion, deer, ox, ostrich, horse, hawk, and eagle (38:39–39:30). Can Job find fault
with God? No, he is silent in God’s presence (40:1–5).
In His second challenge, God reminded Job of the behemoth (possibly referring
to a hippopotamus) and the leviathan (40:15–41:34). Earlier, Job had wanted the
leviathan to help eliminate the day he was born (3:8). The leviathan was more than just
a beast—it was even described as breathing out fire (41:18–21). It was the meanest,
strongest, fiercest animal imaginable. God’s point is this: Did Job desire to wrestle with
the leviathan? No one is fierce enough to wrestle with such a powerful beast! Who then
is able to stand against the great God who created the leviathan (41:10)?
All along, the book has been crying out for God to answer . . . . In a way that
silenced all debate (40:3–5), the Lord himself answered Job from the midst
of a fierce windstorm (or whirlwind, 38:1 and 40:6). He began by rebuking
Job for speaking in ignorance and reminded him of his mortality (38:3). Then
he challenged Job to answer a series of questions centering on the awesome
strength and power of God as Creator and Sustainer of the universe. What did
Job know and understand of such things as the founding of the earth (38:4), the
confining of the sea (38:8), the courses of the constellations (38:31) and more?
The Lord challenged Job to answer (40:1–2), but Job was speechless (40:3–5).
He simply acknowledged his inadequacy and agreed to keep silent before God.
(Arnold and Beyer 1999, 297)

God Restores Job (Job 42:7–17)


In the story’s conclusion, God revealed that Job was correct about his
innocence and basic theology even though he seriously questioned it during
his time of agony (Job 42:7). His three friends, however, were wrong in their
assumptions and faulty conclusions about Job. Job was not suffering because he
had sinned. Because they had spoken falsely, God required the friends to repent,
and they obeyed. They confessed both to God and to Job that they were wrong,
and Job prayed for them. Then God restored Job by giving him far more than he
had before, including another ten children and incredible wealth (42:12–15).
Sometimes believers need both/and thinking. In this story, Job and his friends
used either/or thinking, saying, “Either God is just or Job is just.” However, the
Lord’s response shows that both God and Job were just and righteous. Both either/or
and both/and thinking have a correct time and place. Often, people err in choosing
one method of thinking over the other, forgetting that both ways have merit.
6 What are the primary As far as theological themes, the book of Job “is not intended to address
theological themes of Job? issues of causation. We often cannot know what causes our suffering, but we can
take comfort that all is in the hand of an infinitely wise and sovereign God. The
divine attributes of wisdom, justice, and sovereignty are emphasized in the book
of Job” (Hill and Walton 2000, 338).
Humanity’s Appeals to God (Job, Psalms) 129

8.2
Psalms: Israel’s Hymnbook and Prayer Book
Many of the psalms were set to music and were intended for both public
LESSON and private worship. As a result, the introductions of some, such as Psalms 4
and 5, include notes for the choir leader. Several psalms encourage singing (for
example, Psalm 95:1–2; 96:1–2; 98:1, 4–6), while others call for musicians
to praise God with their instruments (for example, 33:2; 98:5–6; 108:1–2;
8.2.1
OBJECTIVE 150:3–5). Old Testament believers sang psalms in the temple: “Enter his gates
discuss the historical with thanksgiving and his courts with praise” (100:4). “These special places of
background of the book of God’s presence are places of intimate and at times fearful encounter with the God
Psalms, including authors of the universe. They are places which demand human response; they demand
and dates. worshipful prayer. The Psalms are such a divine-human encounter, and they find
their actual setting within the formal worship of Israel” (Longman 1988, 11).
Throughout the centuries since ancient Israel, the psalms have been used in
many worship contexts, both formal and informal. Regardless of theological
position or worship style, many churches have employed the psalms in their
public worship services. “Many contemporary hymns (not to speak of more
traditional hymns) are based on passages from the Psalms. Churches with a
liturgical bent incorporate a responsive reading from the Psalms into the order of
worship” (Longman 1988, 12). In responsive readings, the pastor or leader says
one line or one verse, and the congregation responds in unison with the next line
or verse. For instance, Psalm 136 has been used as a responsive reading in which
the worship leader reads the first line of each verse and the people respond with
the refrain, “His love endures forever.”

Authors and Dates of Writing


7 Who wrote the psalms, The psalms were compiled into one book by an editor. The individual songs
and over what period of time were composed or authored by several different individuals (Arnold and Beyer
did they write? 1999, 304) over a period of one thousand years—from 1400 to 400 BC. The
writings before the psalms inform us that David wrote seventy-three psalms,
Asaph wrote twelve, the sons of Korah wrote ten, Solomon wrote two (72 and
127), and others wrote the other three. According to biblical and historical
references, the individuals who helped in collecting the songs into one book
were David (1 Chronicles 15:16–22), Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 29:25–30;
Proverbs 25:1), and Ezra (Nehemiah 10:39; 11:22; 12:27–36, 45–47).

Key Facts about the Psalms


8 What are significant facts • Psalms is the longest book in the Bible. In fact, Martin Luther referred to the
about Psalms? book as being a small Bible and said the Psalms summarized the entire Old
Testament (Longman 1988, 52). The book of Psalms contains both the longest
chapter (Psalm 119) and the shortest chapter (Psalm 117) in the Bible.
• hallelujah, a much-recognized Hebrew term translated as “praise the
Lord,” occurs twenty-eight times in the Bible, and twenty-four of those are
in Psalms. The most intense use of hallelujah is in Psalm 150, where it is
used three times. This one term is an imperative to praise the Lord!
• More than any other book of the Bible, Psalms connects us with God. It
expresses humanity’s deepest feelings and needs. The songs of praise in
Psalms rise like tall mountains, while the cries of help in Psalms come from
the deepest valleys. God wants to share our brightest times of rejoicing and
our darkest days of sorrow. Indeed, the psalms verbalize our appeals and
cries to God for help in times of difficulty, sorrows, trials, tribulations, and
130 Old Testament Survey

desperation for deliverance from enemies. Yet the psalms also express our
praise, worship, and elation for who God is and what He has done.
• The New Testament quotes the book of Psalms 186 times—far more
than it quotes any other Old Testament book. Jesus and the writers of
the New Testament often used the psalms to teach doctrine and godly
practices. “Paul provides us with one-third of the total quotations of the
Old Testament in the New Testament. One-fifth of his citations are from
the Psalms” (Longman 1988, 65). “While the Psalms are not ‘doctrinal
treatises,’ the Psalms do teach doctrine” (Longman 1988, 52).
• The psalms involve forms of Hebrew poetry. Humans tend to closely
identify with the emotions expressed in poems. Poetry “stimulates our
imaginations, arouses our emotions, feeds our intellect, and addresses our
wills” (Longman 1988, 92).

8.2.2 Characteristics of Hebrew Poetry


OBJECTIVE
explain four types of Hebrew poetry is not based on rhyme. It is based primarily on parallel lines
parallel poetry. of thought, like the tracks of a train. The term for this is parallelism. At least four
types of parallel poetry are used in Scripture: synonymous, antithetic, synthetic,
and chiastic.
9 What are the four • synonymous parallelism occurs most often and is the best known. It is
categories of parallelism, and defined as the repetition of the same thought in two different phrases,
how are they defined? using two different sets of words. “The two parts basically reflect the same
idea” (Arnold and Beyer 1999, 282). Psalm 2 is largely constructed with
synonymous parallelism: “Why do the nations conspire and the people
plot in vain?” (Psalm 2:1).
• antithetic parallelism also expresses the same thought twice, but from two
different and often opposite perspectives. “The two lines stand in sharp
contrast to each other; usually the conjunction ‘but’ provides a clue” (Arnold
and Beyer 1999, 283). The book of Proverbs primarily uses antithetic
parallelism; for example, “A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish
son grief to his mother” (Proverbs 10:1). An example from Psalms is 37:21:
“The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously.”
• In synthetic parallelism, the second phrase completes or supplements
the first. That is, “the second line normally completes a thought the first
line left incomplete. The two lines stand in relationship to each other, but
that relationship is not as clearly defined as in synonymous or antithetic
parallelism” (Arnold and Beyer 1999, 283–284). For example, Psalm
19:10 reads, “They [the ordinances of the Lord] are more precious than
gold, than much pure gold.”
• chiasm is one of the most interesting and frequently encountered categories
of parallelism. “The word ‘chiasm’ comes from the Greek letter ‘chi’ which
is written like the letter ‘X.’ Chiasm occurs when two successive lines of
poetry reverse the order in which parallel themes appear, ‘crisscrossing’
each other” (Arnold and Beyer 1999, 284). Isaiah 55:8 is a clear example
of this, as is Psalm 18:20: “The Lord has dealt with me according to my
righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me.”
The whole of Psalm 1 illustrates chiasm in a longer portion of poetry.
Humanity’s Appeals to God (Job, Psalms) 131

8.2.3 Outline and Structure of Psalms


OBJECTIVE
Identify the five sections Psalms is divided into five sections or smaller books of psalms. The themes of these
of the Psalms, and explain five books are parallel to the five books of the Pentateuch (Leupold 1969, 561–562):
their importance. The Five Books of the Psalms
Book 1: Book 2: Book 3: Book 4: Book 5:
10 How do the five sections
Psalms Psalms Psalms Psalms Psalms
of Psalms parallel the five
books of the Pentateuch? 1–41 42–72 73–89 90–106 107–150
Number of
41 31 17 17 44
Psalms
Mostly
Mostly
Mostly David and Mostly Mostly
Author(s) unknown or
David sons of Asaph unknown
David
Korah
Primary
YAHWEH El/Elohim El/Elohim YAHWEH YAHWEH
Name of
(The LORD) (God) (God) (The LORD) (The LORD)
God
Humans Deliverance Worship The desert
Common God’s Word
and and and the and God’s
Topics and praise
Creation redemption temple ways
Parallel in Deutero-
Genesis Exodus Leviticus Numbers
Pentateuch nomy

In the Psalms, the writings after the psalm numbers but above the actual psalms
are called superscriptions (super means “above,” and scriptions means “writings”).
A total of 116 psalms have these superscriptions. For example, Psalm 48 has the
following designation: “A song. A psalm of the sons of Korah.” Scholars have
determined that the superscriptions were not part of the original psalms; however,
they were written before 200 BC, when the Hebrew Bible was translated into
Greek (the Septuagint). The superscriptions note important information such as
the author’s name, the type of psalm, musical terms, and type of service (such as a
wedding). Some include historical notes, as in the superscription above Psalm 3: “A
psalm of David. When he fled from his son Absalom.”

8.3
LESSON
Psalms: Categories of Psalms
Some have suggested that the psalms can be classified in up to thirteen different
8.3.1 categories. However, most current conservative scholars prefer to divide the psalms
OBJECTIVE into only seven categories or genres. Genre means “a group of texts similar in
describe the seven main their mood, content, structure, or phraseology” (Longman 1988, 20). The seven
categories or genres of genres of psalms are (1) hymns, (2) laments, (3) thanksgiving psalms, (4) psalms of
psalms. confidence, (5) psalms of remembrance, (6) wisdom psalms, and (7) kingship psalms
(Longman 1988, 24–34; Brueggeman 2003b, 526–529). Arnold and Beyer suggest
11 What are the seven main a similar list: hymns, penitential psalms, wisdom psalms, royal psalms, messianic
categories of psalms and psalms, imprecatory psalms, and lament psalms (1999, 307–312). For the purposes
their definitions?
of this study, however, we will use Longman and Brueggeman’s categories.
• hymns are recognized by “their exuberant praise of the Lord. The psalmist
pulls out all the stops in his rejoicing in God’s goodness. His praise is
exuberant because the psalmist is very conscious of God’s presence”
(Longman 1988, 24). Example: Psalm 113
132 Old Testament Survey

• Laments cry out to God for divine assistance in the unfairness of life’s
circumstances, trials, and tests. The lament honestly expresses the
believer’s true feelings when God seems nowhere or when God himself
appears to be unfair. At times, the individual even asks God to destroy
his enemies. According to Longman, the Psalms contain “three types of
complaints. 1. The psalmist may be troubled by his own thoughts and
actions. 2. He may complain about the actions of others against him
(the ‘enemies.’). 3. He may be frustrated by God himself” (1988, 26).
Example: Psalm 137
• The thanksgiving psalms are more than simple expressions of gratitude to
God. They are in reality “a response to an answered lament” (Longman
1988, 30). Example: Psalm 30
• Psalms of confidence express trust in God’s goodness and power
(Longman 1988, 30; Brueggeman 2003b, 528). Examples: Psalms 16, 23
• Psalms of remembrance express gratitude for what God did in the past.
They specifically pay attention to “the great redemptive acts of the past”
such as the Exodus (Longman 1988, 32). Example: Psalm 78
• The wisdom psalms emphasize a contrast between righteous patterns and
wicked patterns of living and their consequences (Longman 1988, 33).
Examples: Psalms 1, 37
• Kingship psalms can be divided into two categories: those that discuss
human kingship and those that discuss God as the King over all (Longman
1988, 34). The divine kingship psalms “extol God’s rule” (Brueggeman
2003b, 529); that is, they affirm God’s reign and sovereignty. Examples:
Psalms 45 (human kingship), 47 (divine kingship)
As seen in the different genres, the psalms emphasize various theological
themes. Nevertheless, “the overwhelmingly predominant theological thrust of
the book of Psalms is its God-centeredness” (Dyer and Merrill 2001, 405). This
is reflected in the fact that the psalms are cries, prayers, and songs crafted by
humans under divine inspiration but addressed specifically to God. The psalms
are a great tool to help believers engage in God-centered worship.
Humanity’s Appeals to God (Job, Psalms) 133

T Test Yourself
Circle the letter of the best answer.
8
CHAPTER

1. Reading a book of the Bible in its entire context 6. What kind of parallelism is illustrated in Psalm
is especially important for the book of 2:1? “Why do the nations conspire and the people
a) Proverbs. plot in vain?”
b) Psalms. a) Antithetic
c) Job. b) Synonymous
d) Lamentations. c) Synthetic
d) Chiasm
2. Theodicy deals with the issue of
a) why the righteous suffer. 7. What kind of parallelism is illustrated in Psalm
b) the consequences of sin. 19:10? “They [ordinances of the Lord] are more
c) gossip and slander. precious than gold, than much pure gold.”
d) God’s forgiveness. a) Antithetic
b) Synonymous
3. The last and youngest person that contended
c) Synthetic
with Job about the cause of his suffering was
d) Chiasm
a) Eliphaz.
b) Bildad. 8. Psalms 42–72 parallel the book of
c) Zophar. a) Genesis.
d) Elihu. b) Exodus.
c) Leviticus.
4. The book of Job deals with the themes of
d) Deuteronomy.
a) forgiveness, judgment, and justice.
b) wisdom, judgment, and injustice. 9. The lives of the righteous and the wicked are
c) wisdom, justice, and sovereignty. contrasted in
d) forgiveness, judgment, and restoration. a) laments.
b) hymns.
5. A good example of a responsive reading is Psalm
c) psalms of confidence.
a) 1.
d) wisdom psalms.
b) 32.
c) 100. 10. Cries for divine assistance in the unfairness of
d) 136. life’s circumstances are expressed in
a) laments.
b) hymns.
c) psalms of confidence.
d) wisdom psalms.
134 Old Testament Survey

Responses to Interactive Questions


Chapter 8
Some of these responses may include information that is supplemental to the IST. These questions are intended
to produce reflective thinking beyond the course content and your responses may vary from these examples.
1 What are some evidences that the book of Job was written during the time of Abraham?
(1) Job’s long life was common in Abraham’s day. (2) Job’s wealth was measured in animals, like Abraham’s
was. (3) Job served as a priest for his family as did Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. (4) In Job, God is called
Shaddai, the name Abraham and the patriarchs used for God. (5) Job does not refer to the law of Moses or the
history of the Israelites.
2 Are there enough clues in the book of Job to say conclusively who authored it?
No. The author and date of Job are unknown, despite differing views about when it was written.
3 What is the setting for the book of Job?
Job’s story took place in Arabia, not Israel. He lived in Uz, a large area east of the Jordan.
4 Identify four insights in the book of Job that relate to the problem of theodicy.
(1) God’s complete plan is not fully realized on this earth. (2) Satan’s power is limited by God’s sovereign
design. (3) God tests and tries people, and He allows Satan to test people. (4) Due to the Fall, we live in an
imperfect world and experience horrible things.
5 What were the main points of God’s two speeches to Job?
In God’s first speech, He questioned Job about the creation of the world. In the second speech, God challenged Job
again, centering on His awesome strength and power as Creator and Sustainer of the universe.
6 What are the primary theological themes of Job?
Job is not intended to address causes of suffering but to give comfort that all is in the hand of a divine God. The
book emphasizes God’s attributes of wisdom, justice, and sovereignty.
7 Who wrote the psalms, and over what period of time did they write?
King David wrote the most psalms (seventy-three). Other authors were Asaph (twelve), the sons of Korah (ten),
and Solomon and others (five). The psalms were written over a period of one thousand years—from 1400 to
400 BC.
8 What are significant facts about Psalms?
Significant facts about Psalms include these: (1) It is the longest book in the Bible. (2) Of the twenty-eight
times the word Hallelujah appears in the Bible, twenty-four of these are in Psalms. (3) It relates our deepest
feelings and needs to God. (4) The New Testament quotes the Psalms 186 times, far more than it quotes any
other Old Testament book. (5) The psalms are a form of Hebrew poetry.
9 What are the four categories of parallelism, and how are they defined?
(1) Synonymous parallelism is the repetition of the same thought in two different phrases, using two different
sets of words. (2) Antithetic parallelism also states the same thought twice, but from two different and often
opposite perspectives. (3) Synthetic parallelism occurs when the second phrase completes or supplements the
first. (4) Chiasm parallelism occurs when two successive lines of poetry reverse the order in which parallel
themes appear, thereby crisscrossing each other.
Humanity’s Appeals to God (Job, Psalms) 135

10 How do the five sections of Psalms parallel the five books of the Pentateuch?
(a) Psalms 1–41 parallel Genesis; common topics: humans and Creation. (b) Psalms 42–72 parallel Exodus;
common topics: deliverance and redemption. (c) Psalms 73–89 parallel Leviticus; common topics: worship
and the temple. (d) Psalms 90–106 parallel Numbers; common topics: the desert and God’s ways. (e) Psalms
107–150 parallel Deuteronomy; common topics: God’s Word and praise.
11 What are the seven main categories of psalms and their definitions?
(1) Hymns: exuberant praise of the Lord. (2) Laments: cries to God for divine help in the unfairness of
life’s circumstances, trials, and tests. (3) Thanksgiving psalms: gratitude to God and a response to an
answered lament. (4) Psalms of confidence: expressions of trust in God’s goodness and power. (5) Psalms of
remembrance: expressions of gratitude for what God did in the past. (6) Wisdom psalms: contrasting patterns of
righteous living and wicked living; showing the consequences of the two. (7) Kingship psalms: descriptions of
human kingship and divine kingship that extol God as King over all, affirming God’s reign and sovereignty.
9
136 Old Testament Survey

Divine Appeals to Humanity


CHAPTER (Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs)
While Job and Psalms reflect humanity’s appeals, prayers, and hymns
to God, the remaining poetical books—Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of
Songs—represent God’s appeals and exhortations to humanity to live in a wise
and righteous manner. The five poetry or wisdom books taken together can be
considered a conversation with God. That is, humanity talks to God in Job and
Psalms, and God talks to humanity in Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs.

Lesson 9.1 Proverbs


Objectives
9.1.1 summarize the characteristics of Proverbs.
9.1.2 discuss the major themes and purposes of Proverbs.

Lesson 9.2 Ecclesiastes


Objectives
9.2.1 discuss the background of ecclesiastes, including date, setting, and
possible authorship.
9.2.2 Explain how the negative statements in Ecclesiastes fit into the book’s
content, and define its theme.

Lesson 9.3 Song of Songs


Objectives
9.3.1 discuss the background of song of songs, including possible authorship
and dates.
9.3.2 identify the generally accepted purpose for song of songs.
Divine Appeals to Humanity (Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs) 137

9.1
Proverbs
The parallelism studied in the last chapter also characterizes the other wisdom
LESSON books, particularly Proverbs. In ancient Near Eastern cultures, proverbs (short
sayings generally intended to teach about life) were quite common, and they
remain popular in many non-Western cultures today. However, proverbs are
intended only as generalizations and not necessarily hard, fast rules. In other
9.1.1
OBJECTIVE words, the results of a proverb are not guaranteed or automatic; they are not
summarize the absolute. Still, a wise person heeds the warnings and instructions of proverbs.
characteristics of Proverbs. The proverbs included in the Bible are didactic in nature, meaning they are
designed and intended to teach the common citizen, particularly the believer, the
best and wisest way to live.

Authorship and Date


1 Who were the authors Just as David wrote many psalms, his son Solomon spoke 3,000 proverbs and
of the proverbs, and wrote 1,005 songs (1 Kings 4:32). Many of his wise sayings are preserved in the
approximately when was the book of Proverbs:
book compiled?
The book contains several references to Solomon’s role in the proverb traditions
of Israel. The proverbs in 10:1–22:16 are called “the proverbs of Solomon” (10:1),
and those of chapters 25–29 are “more proverbs of Solomon, copied by the men
of Hezekiah king of Judah” (25:1). The opening verse of the book associates the
whole collection with Solomon. . . . The evidence implies that Solomon composed
much of the material in the book of Proverbs. Contributions of other wisdom
teachers were attached to Solomon’s collection, because he was the impetus and
patron of the Israelite wisdom tradition. (Arnold and Beyer 1999, 321)
Other authors named in Proverbs are Agur (Proverbs 30) and King Lemuel
(31:1–9). Proverbs 22:17 and 24:23 indicate that others may have contributed
their wise sayings as well.
Although most of the proverbs seemingly came from Solomon, the entire
book of Proverbs as we have it today was probably compiled during the time of
King Hezekiah, around 700 BC. Remember that Hezekiah led Judah in returning
to the God of their forefathers. Part of this reform involved directing specific
individuals to gather and organize the proverbs of Solomon and others into a
collected work (Proverbs 25:1).

Characteristics
2 Identify several Key facts about Proverbs include the following:
characteristics of Proverbs. • The Hebrew word mashal means “wise speech, parable, proverb, or wise
saying.” Proverbs 1–9 contains thirteen such short talks or speeches.
• In the longest part of the book (10:1–22:16), most proverbs are two lines
that show contrast or comparison.
• Although many proverbs describe the result of an action or characteristic,
proverbs are not laws or guarantees. Rather, they describe what usually
happens.
• The proverbs apply to all cultures.
• Some proverbs use numbers for emphasis: “There are six things the Lord
hates, seven that are detestable to him” (6:16); “There are three things that
are too amazing for me, four that I do not understand” (30:18).
138 Old Testament Survey

• Some proverbs are direct: “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways
and be wise!” (6:6); “Pay attention and listen to the sayings of the wise”
(22:17).
• Many proverbs teach that we should trust in the Lord: “Trust in the Lord
with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (3:5).

Outline
I. The Purposes and Theme of Proverbs, 1:1–7
II. Wise Sayings for Youth, 1:8–9:18
III. The Main Collection of Solomon’s Wise Sayings, 10:1–22:16
IV. Wise Sayings from Other Wise Men, 22:17–24:34
V. Solomon’s Wise Sayings Recorded by Hezekiah’s Scribes, 25:1–29:27
VI. Wise Sayings of Agur and Lemuel, 30:1–31:9
VII. Epilogue: Wise Sayings about the Virtuous Wife, 31:10–31

9.1.2 Purposes and Theme (Proverbs 1:1–7)


OBJECTIVE
discuss the major themes The purposes of this book are stated clearly in Proverbs 1:2–6. The proverbs
and purposes of Proverbs. were compiled to
1. Promote wisdom, understanding, and discipline (1:2–3).
3 What are the purposes 2. Encourage individuals to do what is right, just, and fair (1:3).
of Proverbs according to
Proverbs 1:2–6? 3. Give wisdom to the unlearned (1:4).
4. Teach youth to discern what is wise (1:4).
5. Help the wise become wiser (1:5–6).
Then the editor identifies the theme of the book: “The fear of the Lord is
the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline” (1:7).
He emphasizes the theme again in Proverbs 9:10: “The fear of the Lord is the
beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” In this
sense, to fear God means to respect, honor, and obey Him. Wisdom does not
depend on a person’s degree of intellectual ability or educational achievements.
Rather, wisdom has its source in God and God alone. “Much more than
intellectual information or head-knowledge, the instruction found in this book
is based on the reverence and worship of Yahweh: ‘the fear of the Lord is the
beginning of knowledge’ (v. 7). As its ‘beginning,’ the fear of God is the first and
controlling principle of wisdom” (Arnold and Beyer 1999, 316).
While the entire book of Proverbs contains a variety of contrasts, the contrast
between wise and foolish living is repeatedly emphasized: “On the one hand,
there are those who reject God’s laws and refuse to keep his covenant. Proverbs
designates these individuals as ‘fools’ and their life choices as ‘folly.’ On the
other hand, those who carefully maintain their relationship with God and adhere
to his ways are called ‘wise’ and their lives are characterized by ‘wisdom’”
(Arnold and Beyer 1999, 316).
4 What are the major Thus, the book of Proverbs focuses on these major themes: “(1) the secret
themes of Proverbs? of a happy, meaningful and effective life is found in wisdom and the practical
application of its principles; (2) wisdom comes only from knowing and
confessing God as its source; therefore (3) a person must seek after God with all
of his or her being in order to be wise and enjoy wisdom’s benefits” (Dyer and
Merrill 2001, 483).
Divine Appeals to Humanity (Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs) 139

Wise Sayings for Youth (Proverbs 1:8–9:18)


Several of the discourses in this section begin with the phrase my son or my
sons, indicating that an older, wiser father is instructing his son. The father’s
counsel involves exhortations to appropriate living and warnings about unwise
living, as well as considerations about sexual purity and sexual immorality. This
language is also often used between teacher and pupil.
The proverbs often engage a literary device called personification in which a
concept or idea is represented as a person. For example, in Proverbs 1, wisdom is
personified as a woman: “Wisdom calls aloud in the street, she raises her voice in
the public squares” (1:20). Later, the characteristic of folly or foolishness is also
represented by a woman:
The first, Dame Folly (Prov. 7), is a street corner prostitute. This seductress,
either literal or figurative, appears in Proverbs 2:16–19; 5:3–20; 6:23–35;
7:6–27; 9:13–18. She glitters with flattery and seductive charm but drags her
young victim into dark death (9:13–18). The second, Dame Wisdom, the street
preacher with a prophetic message, is “the soul’s true bride, true counselor,
true hostess and the very offspring of the Creator” (1:20–33; 8:1 through 9:6
cf 31:10–31). This section describes folly in terms of sexual immorality. But it
also speaks of other temptations young men are prone to, such as gang violence
(Proverbs 1:10–19; 3:27–32; 4:14–19), mockery (1:22; 3:34; 9:7–8), or even
laziness (6:6–11). (Brueggeman 2003b, 532–533)

Main Collection of Solomon’s Wise Sayings


(Proverbs 10:1–22:16)
Solomon’s proverbs address God’s sovereignty along with many other
subjects, including “poverty and wealth, slander, self-discipline, speech and
silence, work and laziness, rash promises, discipline in education, sickness and
grief, old age, and more” (Arnold and Beyer 1999, 318). The contrasts in some of
these topics are examples of the antithetic (opposite) form of parallelism studied
in the previous chapter of this course. “The unit consists largely of a collection
of proverbial sayings in poetry of two lines each . . . . The parallelism is almost
always antithetical, as in . . . ‘A wise child makes a glad father, but a foolish child
is a mother’s grief’ (NRSV 10:1)” (Arnold and Beyer 1999, 318).

Wise Sayings from Other Wise Men (Proverbs 22:17–24:34)


The next section contains a series of more advice and warnings from wise men
other than Solomon. These proverbs frequently use the phrase Do not in warning
against such things as oppressing the poor (22:22), spending too much energy
on becoming rich (23:4), envying sinners (23:17; 24:1), or rejoicing when the
wicked fall (24:17). They also address wise actions such as trusting in God (22:19),
demonstrating respect for authority (24:21), and working hard (24:30–34).
Scholars have noted the similarities between this section of the book of
Proverbs and an ancient Egyptian document known as “The Teachings of Amenem-
Opet (or Amenemope)” (Brueggeman 2003b, 534; Arnold and Beyer 1999, 319):
The two works have a number of common themes and expressions. Also
“Amenemope” consists of thirty chapters and Proverbs 22:20 (NIV) asks,
“Have I not written thirty sayings for you?” The book of Proverbs may have
borrowed and adapted some of these sayings in Amenemope, or perhaps both
Proverbs and Amenemope borrowed from some earlier writings. At any rate,
this does not compromise the integrity of the biblical passage as the inspired
140 Old Testament Survey

word of God, for extracanonical and even non-Israelite writings are commonly
cited by biblical authors (for example, Josh. 10:13; 2 Sam. 1:18; 1 Kings 11:41;
Acts 17:28; Titus 1:12). (Dyer and Merrill 2001, 495)

Solomon’s Wise Sayings Recorded by Hezekiah’s Scribes


(Proverbs 25:1–29:27)
The collection of Solomon’s proverbs that Hezekiah’s scribes preserved and
collected contains much variety. The collection includes sayings about “proper
priorities” and “the fate of the sluggard” (Brueggeman 2003b, 534). These proverbs
appear to have captured Hezekiah’s interests because of his intention to bring
spiritual reformation to the nation of Israel. “They frequently deal with topics of
leadership and those who associate with leaders” (Arnold and Beyer 1999, 320).

Wise Sayings of Agur and Lemuel (Proverbs 30:1–31:9)


The Bible says very little about Agur and Lemuel, who provided the wise
sayings in the next section of Proverbs. Agur confesses that he does not have
great wisdom and understanding (30:1–4), yet he wants God to teach him
wisdom and keep him from deception (30:8–9). He learns much by observing
creation, particularly animals, as well as human life and interaction (30:10–33).
Then Lemuel recounts principles his mother taught him about a king’s
responsibilities. His proverbs encourage leaders to guard against negative
influences, specifically sexual immorality and drunkenness (31:1–7), and to treat
all people fairly, without favoritism (31:8–9).

Wise Sayings about the Virtuous Wife (Proverbs 31:10–31)


The last chapter of Proverbs includes a well-known discourse about the virtue
and inner beauty of a woman who honors God. The woman “of noble character”
is wise, generous, hard working, and a wonderful gift from God.
Scholars have noted that these twenty-two verses form an acrostic poem. That
is, each verse begins with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet:
The last two-thirds of Proverbs 31 is an A to Z description of an ideal wife
(cf. Proverbs 18:22). She cares for the husband, family and home (31:11–15,
21–23). She strengthens the family economy through real estate purchases and
sales of handicrafts (vv. 16–18, 24). She guides her household well (vv. 25–27).
She cares for the poor (v. 20). She is certainly praiseworthy (vv. 28–31). These
remarkable standards are not an exhortation demanding that a young woman
become a super-wife. Rather they encourage a young man to choose a wife
carefully, seeking qualities reflected in Dame Wisdom rather than in Dame
Folly (Proverbs 9). (Brueggeman 2003b, 535)
5 Describe some of the main This final poem is a fitting epilogue or conclusion to Proverbs because of the
topics discussed in Proverbs. family’s central place in the book. Indeed, the family had a central place in Israel
from the earliest days (Exodus 20:12, 14, 17; Deuteronomy 6:1–9). Proverbs
exposes, warns against, and condemns sins that destroy the family. Therefore, it is
fitting that the book should end by praising a wife known for her good qualities.
Divine Appeals to Humanity (Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs) 141

9.2
Ecclesiastes
LESSON Author and Date
A number of “traditional Jewish and Christian interpreters” attribute the
authorship of Ecclesiastes to Solomon. Some of these scholars believe Solomon
wrote the book after he had turned away from God (Brueggeman 2003b, 538).
9.2.1 However, the evidence that Solomon authored Ecclesiastes is sketchy at best
OBJECTIVE and certainly rather inconclusive. Most scholars, including conservative ones
discuss the background who affirm the inspiration of Scripture, admit that we do not know who wrote
of ecclesiastes, including Ecclesiastes and that even the internal evidence in the book itself is not sufficient
date, setting, and possible to arrive at a reasonable conclusion.
authorship.
The phrase “son of David, king in Jerusalem” and certain passages like 1:16–17
are clearly meant to remind the reader of Solomon. . . . Yet the boast that he had
6 What is the best
surpassed all who preceded him on the throne is rather weak if his father David
conclusion regarding the author
and date of Ecclesiastes? was his only predecessor. Since the book nowhere claims Solomon as its author,
it is better to leave the matter unsettled. (Arnold and Beyer 1999, 330)
The date of the book’s writing is uncertain as well. Some scholars point to a
rather late date because of perceived Aramaic-type sayings called Aramaisms.
However, others point out that since these sayings are also found in preexilic
literature, an early date is certainly conceivable. Some have suggested a date
around 930 BC, but, again, “it is best to leave the matter unsettled” (Dyer and
Merrill 2001, 504).

Title
In the Hebrew Scriptures, the title of this book is Qoheleth, meaning “one who
calls a group of people together and speaks to them.” In the Septuagint, the Hebrew
qoheleth was translated into a Greek word with the same meaning: ekklesiastes.
This is based on the Greek word ekklesia, referring to “a group or assembly called
together.” The New Testament translates the word ekklesia as “church.”
Some scholars and some translations of the Bible render qoheleth as “teacher”
or “preacher.” However, others think that the concept of a lecturer speaking to
an assembly of people is a more appropriate concept or translation (Brueggeman
2003b, 538).

9.2.2 Theme and Content


OBJECTIVE
explain how the negative While the author and date of Ecclesiastes may be uncertain, the theme of the
statements in ecclesiastes book, stated twice, is definite: “‘Meaningless! Meaningless!’ says the Teacher.
fit into the book’s content, ‘Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless’” (1:2; 12:8). In fact, the word
and define its theme. meaningless occurs thirty-five times in the twelve chapters of this book. In the
Hebrew Scriptures, the phrase in Ecclesiastes 1:2 is “Vanity of vanities” (NASB and
7 What is the primary NRSV). This form of writing identifies the greatest of a group; for example, the Holy
theme of Ecclesiastes? of Holies is the holiest place in the temple, and the King of kings is the greatest King.
Thus, vanity of vanities indicates that the most meaningless, empty thing of all is
living without God (Arnold and Beyer 1999, 327). The lecturer, preacher, or teacher
had learned that life without God is empty, useless, and meaningless.
8 With its negative Because Ecclesiastes is filled with these negative statements about life, some
statements, why is question the book’s value and inclusion in the biblical canon. They wonder how
Ecclesiastes included in the statements such as “Everything is meaningless” can be God-inspired. Yet these
Old Testament canon?
individuals fail to see the negative comments within the book’s entire context.
142 Old Testament Survey

The unusually pessimistic statements in this book must be understood as the


musings of a person attempting to think and live apart from divine revelation.
That is, its conclusions in various matters must be taken with considerable
caution, for as often as not the “man in the street” is wrong in his basic
assumptions and therefore deviant in the theological assertions that derive from
them. (Dyer and Merrill 2001, 505)
In the previous chapter, we found that although Satan’s words in the book of
Job are part of the inspired record, his words themselves are not inspired. In the
same way, the sayings in Ecclesiastes are part of the inspired record, but we must
not assume them to be theologically accurate or inspired. Rather, the negative
statements reflect the common wisdom of individuals who do not serve God.
With so many negative and theological inaccuracies in the book, how can we
say that Ecclesiastes is God’s appeal to humanity to live wisely and in accordance
with His purpose and plan? This assertion comes from examining the book’s
context, theme, and purpose. Like Proverbs, Ecclesiastes contrasts worldly
wisdom with divine wisdom. In addition, the book affirms that our lives must be
God-focused. Ecclesiastes “warns against a life caught in the pursuit of absurd
and empty pleasures that have no lasting value. Life without God at the center
is meaningless” (Arnold and Beyer 1999, 326). Ecclesiastes demonstrates the
emptiness of living by human wisdom and searching for meaning apart from God.
9 What are some positive Not all of the observations in Ecclesiastes are negative, however. Its positive
aspects of Ecclesiastes? statements support the wise actions of those who place God at the center of their
lives. It acknowledges some of God’s gifts (2:24–26; 3:13; 5:19) and claims
that God “has made everything beautiful in its time” (3:11). While the author
of Ecclesiastes knows that life involves many empty, vain, and useless things,
he also knows that some values give meaning to life. Thus, he encourages his
readers to discern between what has value and what is useless (Smith 1991, 23).

Outline
I. Introduction of the Problem, 1:1–11
II. Meaninglessness, 1:12–2:26
III. Time, 3
IV. Society, 4
V. Worship and Wealth, 5–6
VI. Wisdom, 7:1–8:1
VII. Justice, 8:2–9:12
VIII. More on Wisdom, 9:13–11:6
IX. Conclusion and Solution to the Problem, 11:7–12:14

The Problem (Ecclesiastes 1:1–11:6)


Ecclesiastes 1:1–11 introduces the problem that life without God is without
meaning. In light of the subject, the best way to interpret and understand this
book is to
consider the conclusion (12:9–14). Then watch the unifying refrains throughout
the work’s main body, which is bracketed by the identical opening and closing
verses (1:2; 12:8). If you do this, you’ll hear a strong statement: Life lived with
a view only of this world is meaningless. But with an eternal perspective, you
can find joy and meaning in creation. (Brueggeman 2003b, 539)
Divine Appeals to Humanity (Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs) 143

The author of Ecclesiastes experienced many things: wisdom (1:17–18), wit


(2:2), wine (2:3), works (2:4–6), wealth (2:7–8; 5:10), women (2:8), worldly
fame (2:9), and worldly pleasure (2:10). But without God, nothing truly satisfied
his quest for meaning in life.
Nevertheless, while the book proclaims the meaninglessness of life without
God, it also confirms that every good thing in life is a gift from God. For
instance, since God created the sun, moon, stars, and all good things, they are
meant to be enjoyed as God’s creation. Yet creation cannot satisfy humanity’s
deepest need. Only the Creator can satisfy. The futility of satisfying oneself with
created things will keep a person in a meaningless cycle of life.

The Solution (Ecclesiastes 11:7–12:14)


The teacher or lecturer concludes the book with a poem about old age and
encourages youth to recognize God early in life. If we please God and obey Him
while we live, we will rejoice to face Him when we die.
Believers wrestle with some of the same questions and dilemmas that
Ecclesiastes addresses. All of us must come to understand that our perplexing
questions about life have no easy answers. Indeed, “like the book of Job,
[Ecclesiastes] refuses to dodge the hard questions of life and does not allow easy
solutions” (Hill and Walton 2000, 365). The comfort lies in acknowledging God’s
sovereignty and control in every circumstance. Ecclesiastes alludes to this in
spite of the repetitive cycles and apparent meaninglessness of life.
10 What are your conclusions So what mindset should we read the entire book with? “In the end, the
about Ecclesiastes? narrator provides his key to the interpretation of this book (12:9–14). He issues
neither absolute denial nor approval of the teacher. We are to respect the teaching
of the first-person spokesman. At the same time we must be cautious and critical
of his conclusions” (Brueggeman 2003b, 540).
We must remember that Ecclesiastes was not meant to emphasize repentance
or to present a detailed systematic theology from God’s own perspective. Rather,
the primary purpose was to establish that life “under the sun” cannot offer
fulfillment and to offer an alternate worldview. The philosophy expressed is
not simply “enjoy life,” but “enjoy life and fear God.” This is not abandonment
of all for a life of pleasure; it is a responsible, optimistic integration of life and
faith. The result is that few books of the Bible offer as clear a challenge to our
contemporary Western worldview. Enjoyment of life comes not in the quest for
personal fulfillment, but in the recognition that everything comes from the hand
of God. (Hill and Walton 2000, 371)

9.3
LESSON

9.3.1
Song of Songs
As mentioned in the previous lesson, phrases such as king of kings emphasize
supremacy or superiority, so that King of kings refers to the greatest King. Thus,
OBJECTIVE song of songs means the greatest song. Some Jewish and Christian scholars
discuss the background of believe that it was composed to be sung at weddings and is the greatest wedding
song of songs, including song ever written. It is one of the five scrolls in the Holy Writings (hagiographa
possible authorship and in Greek), which is the third part of the Hebrew Scriptures. The Jews publicly
dates. read the book at the Feast of Passover (Hill and Walton 2000, 374).
144 Old Testament Survey

11 Describe evidence both Authorship and Date


for and against Solomon’s
authorship of Song of Songs. Although the book is called “Solomon’s Song of Songs” (1:1) and mentions
Solomon in seven places, both internal and external evidence that Solomon was
the author remain inconclusive. Scholars who accept Solomon’s authorship
indicate the author’s knowledge both of plants and botany and of Hebrew
wisdom and poetry to support their position (Kinlaw 1991, 1210). However,
others consider this insufficient evidence to arrive at a definitive conclusion.
These scholars emphasize the fact that “many of the references to Solomon are in
the third person” (Arnold and Beyer 1999, 333).
The opening verse calls this “Solomon’s Song of Songs” (Song 1:1), but
the connection with Solomon is a bit troubling. It’s difficult to harmonize
the wholesome sexuality of this book with the historical books’ picture of a
man with too many wives and concubines. In fact, 1 Kings 11:6–11 blames
Solomon’s apostasy on his many wives. Wherever the book mentions Solomon
by name, it’s pretty impersonal (3:6–11; 8:10–12). Perhaps it’s best to say that
Solomon wrote some of its poems just as he wrote or collected much of the
Book of Proverbs. (Brueggeman 2003b, 542)
12 What are the various Those who accept Solomonic authorship believe that the book was written in
dates suggested for the the tenth century BC. Some have suggested a date around 960 BC, while others
writing of Song of Songs? refer to more general dates within the century. If Solomon wrote the song, “it
could not have originated later than 931 BC, the date of his death” (Dyer and
Merrill 2001, 511). Even some who are not convinced that Solomon is the author
agree that the song was probably written around the time of Solomon (Hill and
Walton 2000, 374). The book refers to many places throughout Israel but says
nothing about a Northern or Southern Kingdom; this strengthens the belief that
Israel was a united kingdom when the book was written. Other dates suggested
range all the way from before the patriarchal times to very late dates.

Outline
I. Poem 1: The Bride Longs for Her Groom, 1:1–2:7
II. Poem 2: The Lovers Seek and Find Each Other, 2:8–3:5
III. Poem 3: The Wedding Procession and Marriage, 3:6–5:1
IV. Poem 4: The Bride Fears She Will Lose the Groom, 5:2–6:3
V. Poem 5: The Groom Describes the Bride’s Beauty, 6:4–8:4
VI. Poem 6: The Nature of Love, 8:5–14

9.3.2 Overview
OBJECTIVE
identify the generally Throughout the centuries, the explicit sexual imagery and words of Song of
accepted purpose for song Songs have disturbed and discomforted some. This has resulted in a variety of
of songs. perspectives regarding the book’s intents and interpretations. Some wonder whether
the book should be included in the canon of Scripture. Others have explained the
images away by proposing various allegorical and typological interpretations. For
the purposes of our study, we will consider three views concerning Song of Songs:
• In the beginning, Jews did not attempt to discover so-called hidden
meanings in Song of Songs. Rather, they believed the book was about the
beauty of sexual intimacy in marriage. In the Garden of Eden, before sin
entered the world, God created Adam and Eve. Neither He nor they were
embarrassed that the humans were naked (Genesis 2:25). God saw that all
He had made was very good, including human sexuality (1:31). Therefore,
Divine Appeals to Humanity (Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs) 145

to the Israelites, Song of Songs celebrated the love of a husband and wife.
Human sexuality is a gift from God that, like anything else, can be used
properly or abused. Physical and emotional joy in marriage was God’s
idea. For this reason, the Jews read Song of Songs at each Passover Feast.
• Later, some individuals thought that the book’s focus on the beauty of
the human body was sinful and that it promoted lustful thoughts. They
developed what they believed to be more spiritual ways to read the book
and promoted it as a symbol of God’s love for Israel. This is an example
of a more allegorical or typological approach to interpretation. In doing so,
however, these individuals chose to ignore the book’s historical background
as well as its more obvious literal sense. In the first century AD, Rabbi
Aqiba began to teach that the Shulammite woman represented the nation of
Israel, and throughout the years, other rabbis began to do likewise.
• Although the New Testament never quotes from the books of Esther or Song
of Songs, it appears that, in agreement with the Jews, the early believers
saw Song of Songs as a book about love in marriage. Then, about AD 200,
a man named Hippolytus said that the bride in Song of Songs stood for the
church (Lint 1998, 480). In the third century, a church leader named Origen
greatly emphasized allegory, a literary device that uses symbols to represent
truths about life (Ryken and Longman 1993, 281). That is, Origen tried to
find a hidden, spiritual meaning in almost everything. Song of Songs is one
of the shortest books in the Bible, with only 117 verses, yet Origen wrote
ten books of allegory on what he thought were hidden meanings in Song of
Songs. Looking for allegories in Scripture is risky because we can create
meanings that God never intended. We should use allegorical interpretations
only when Scripture itself uses allegory, such as in Paul’s reference to Hagar
and Sarah in Galatians 4.
13 What is the best With these historical perspectives in mind, how should today’s believer view
interpretation of Song of Song of Songs? The best way to interpret this book is in its literal, natural sense,
Songs? which affirms and encourages the celebration of sexual relations within the bonds
of marriage. Song of Songs upholds the fact that sex between a husband and wife
is a gift from God. “The provocative sexual imagery in the Song of Solomon is
straightforward love poetry. But Jewish and Christian interpreters have labored
to find a more ‘spiritual’ message in the book . . . . [However,] to choose a
natural approach to the book does not mean we must adopt a non-theological
perspective” (Brueggeman 2003b, 541–542).
It is often argued that such themes are unworthy of being treated in Scripture,
since the focus of the biblical material is on the redemption from sin, and by
definition, “sexuality is sinful.” However, even a casual reading of the Old
Testament should reveal that this equation was never made by the biblical
writers. It is illicit sexuality that is condemned, not sexuality per se. From the
creation story in Genesis 1–2 to the marriage of the Lamb in Revelation 21,
human sexuality is presented as a specific gift from God to his creation. . . . The
creation of mankind in the image of God, yet created male and female (i.e., as
sexual beings) for the purpose of procreation (Gn. 1:28), fellowship, mutual
support and dependence (Gn. 2:18), and physical as well as spiritual unity (Gen.
2:22–24), should be clear evidence that God’s action of creating us as sexual
beings was no accident or compromise. It was the divine intention from the
beginning, and is, in fact, ‘good’ (Gn. 1:31). (Carr 1984, 34–35)
14 What does Song of Thus, although some believers try to avoid the topic of sex altogether or
Songs teach us? claim that all sex is sinful, the Bible takes a pure and balanced approach to
146 Old Testament Survey

sexual relations within marriage. While many cultures have profaned God’s
gift of sexuality, the biblical approach not only validates the beauty of sexuality
within the purpose of God’s design but also warns against the dangers of its
abuse. Song of Songs uses erotic sexual imagery to convey to us the beauty and
truth that God’s approach to sexuality is pure, appropriate, and encouraged in
a marital relationship because everything God created was good. “The book
models mutually submissive sexual behavior between a loving couple. It affirms
a wholesome delight in the marriage bed” (Brueggeman 2003b, 545).
The Song, therefore, is didactic and moral in its purpose. It comes to us in this
world of sin, where lust and passion are on every hand, where fierce temptations
assail us and try to turn us aside from the God-given standard of marriage. And
it reminds us, in particularly beautiful fashion, how pure and noble true love is.
(Young, as cited in Carr 1984, 35–36)
Divine Appeals to Humanity (Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs) 147

T Test Yourself
Circle the letter of the best answer.
9
CHAPTER

1. The entire book of Proverbs was likely 6. According to Ecclesiastes, the most meaningless,
compiled around empty pursuit is
a) 300 BC. a) striving after riches.
b) 500 BC. b) living without God.
c) 700 BC. c) pouring much effort into work.
d) 900 BC. d) trying to advance in one’s position.
2. The proverbs are statements that 7. The book of Ecclesiastes uses the word
a) describe usual results of actions. meaningless how many times?
b) describe guaranteed results of actions. a) Fifteen
c) applied only to the Old Testament culture. b) Twenty-five
d) emphasize the contrast between law and grace. c) Thirty-five
d) Forty-five
3. The theme of the book of Proverbs is that
a) God’s promises never fail. 8. The author of song of songs is
b) most of life is meaningless. a) Samuel.
c) our worship of God takes various forms. b) David.
d) wisdom begins with honoring the Lord. c) Solomon.
d) uncertain.
4. A literary device that represents a concept or
idea as a person is called 9. Jewish tradition has interpreted the Song of
a) a metaphor. Songs to be a book about
b) a simile. a) the beauty of sexual intimacy in marriage.
c) personification. b) perverted and sensual sexuality.
d) parallelism. c) Christ’s love for the church.
d) God’s love for Israel.
5. ecclesiastes is based on a Hebrew word that means
a) “one who is sorrowful.” 10. We should interpret Scripture allegorically
b) “one who calls people together and talks to them.” only when
c) “wise speech or parable.” a) the interpretation appears to conflict with the
d) “meaningless or futile.” rest of Scripture.
b) the interpretation does not conflict with the rest
of Scripture.
c) the Scriptures themselves teach an allegorical
interpretation.
d) a passage is too explicit, as in the case of Song
of Songs.
148 Old Testament Survey

Responses to Interactive Questions


Chapter 9
Some of these responses may include information that is supplemental to the IST. These questions are intended
to produce reflective thinking beyond the course content and your responses may vary from these examples.
1 Who were the authors of the proverbs, and approximately when was the book compiled?
Solomon wrote the majority of the proverbs, but other authors included the wise men Agur and Lemuel. The
book was compiled about 700 BC, under King Hezekiah’s leadership.
2 Identify several characteristics of Proverbs.
(1) Proverbs 1–9 contain thirteen mashals (short speeches). (2) In Proverbs 10:1–22:16, most proverbs consist
of two lines that show contrast or comparison. (3) Proverbs are not laws, but descriptions of what usually
happens. (4) People of all cultures can easily apply the proverbs. (5) Some proverbs use numbers for emphasis.
(6) Some are direct. (7) Many teach that we should trust the Lord.
3 What are the purposes of Proverbs according to Proverbs 1:2–6?
To (1) promote wisdom, understanding, and discipline; (2) encourage people to do what is right, just, and fair;
(3) give wisdom to unlearned people; (4) teach youth to discern what is wise; and (5) help the wise become wiser.
4 What are the major themes of Proverbs?
(1) The secret of a meaningful, effective life lies in wisdom and its application; (2) wisdom comes only from
knowing and confessing God as its source; (3) to be wise and enjoy wisdom’s benefits, individuals must seek
after God with all their beings.
5 Describe some of the main topics discussed in Proverbs.
Main topics include leadership and kings’ responsibilities, desired qualities or characteristics for individuals,
poverty and wealth, respect for authority, a virtuous woman, trusting in God, and so forth.
6 What is the best conclusion regarding the author and date of Ecclesiastes?
Because of inconclusive evidence, “it is best to leave the matter unsettled.”
7 What is the primary theme of Ecclesiastes?
“‘Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless’” (1:2; 12:8). That is, life is meaningless without God at the center.
8 With its negative statements, why is Ecclesiastes included in the Old Testament canon?
Within the whole book’s context, the negative comments reflect the theological inaccuracies of non-believers. The
book contrasts worldly wisdom with divine wisdom and affirms that our lives must be God-focused.
9 What are some positive aspects of Ecclesiastes?
Its positive statements acknowledge God’s gifts and affirm the wise actions of those who keep God as the center of
their lives. Also, the author encourages readers to discern between what has value and what is useless.
10 What are your conclusions about Ecclesiastes?
Your answer
11 Describe evidence both for and against Solomon’s authorship of Song of Songs.
Although the book mentions Solomon seven times, the evidence that Solomon authored it is inconclusive.
Proponents for Solomon’s authorship point to the author’s knowledge of plants as well as Hebrew wisdom
and poetry. Opponents to his authorship say this is insufficient evidence and point out that many references to
Solomon are in the third person.
Divine Appeals to Humanity (Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs) 149

12 What are the various dates suggested for the writing of Song of Songs?
Those who believe Solomon wrote Song of Songs think he wrote it at some point between 960 BC and 931 BC,
the date of his death. Other dates range from before patriarchal times to very late dates.
13 What is the best interpretation of Song of Songs?
It is best to interpret the book in its literal, natural sense. It encourages the celebration of sexual relations
between husband and wife in the bonds of marriage, affirming that this is a gift from God.
14 What does Song of Songs teach us?
The book uses sexual imagery to demonstrate that God’s approach to sexuality is pure, appropriate, and
encouraged in a marital relationship. Everything God created is good, including sexuality within God’s
intended purpose.

UNIT PROGRESS EVALUATION 3


Now that you have finished Unit 3, review the lessons in preparation for Unit Progress Evaluation 3.
You will find it in Essential Course Materials at the back of this IST. Answer all of the questions without
referring to your course materials, Bible, or notes. When you have completed the UPE, check your answers
with the answer key provided in Essential Course Materials. Review any items you may have answered
incorrectly. Then you may proceed with your study of Unit 4. (Although UPE scores do not count as part of
your final course grade, they indicate how well you learned the material and how well you may perform on
the closed-book final examination.)
150 Old Testament Survey
4
The Early Prophets
UNIT In earlier chapters, we discussed the history of the Israelite kingdoms in relation
to kings and nations. Now we will consider the ministry of the leading prophets
during those historical eras. The prophets whose stories and prophecies conclude
the Old Testament probably ministered from approximately 850 to 450 BC. During
these four hundred years, the history of Israel and Judah was affected by three
major kingdoms: Assyria, Babylon, and Persia. To review, Assyria conquered Israel
in 722 BC, and Babylon conquered Judah in 586 BC. Persia conquered the Medes
in 550 BC when Cyrus, king of Persia, attacked his father-in-law Astyages, king of
Media. Then, in 539 BC, the Persians conquered Babylon on the night when Daniel
interpreted the handwriting on the wall (Daniel 5:1–31).
Two common methods are used to divide the Old Testament books of
prophecy. One way is to distinguish between the Major Prophets and the Minor
Prophets (referring to the general length of the books rather than to the prophets
themselves). According to this method, Isaiah, Jeremiah (with Lamentations),
Ezekiel, and Daniel are considered the Major Prophets. The Minor Prophets
are Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah,
Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.
In the second method, scholarly literature divides the prophets by the
historical eras in which they lived and the way they spoke to their respective
nations or kingdoms. This organizational pattern divides the books as follows:
prophets during the divided kingdom, prophets before the exile, prophets during
the exile, and prophets after the exile. In addition, during the divided kingdom,
prophets to Israel are distinguished from prophets to Judah. (See the following
chart.) We will use this second approach for the purposes of our study.
Divided (Assyrian) Babylonian Persian
Kingdom Kingdom Kingdom
Pre-exile
Prophets: Post-exile
Prophets to/ Prophets to Prophets in
Nahum, Prophets:
from Israel: Judah: Exile:
Zephaniah, Haggai,
Jonah, Amos, Joel, Isaiah, Ezekiel and
Habakkuk, Zechariah,
and Hosea and Micah Daniel
Obadiah, and and Malachi
Jeremiah

Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Chapter 12 Chapter 13 Chapter 14

Chapter 10 Israel’s Early Prophets (Jonah, Amos, Hosea)


Lessons
10.1 Jonah: The Fleeing Prophet
10.2 Amos: The Prophesying Shepherd
10.3 Hosea: The Prophet and the Prostitute

Chapter 11 Judah’s Early Prophets (Joel, Isaiah, Micah)


Lessons
11.1 Joel: The Prophet of Pentecost
11.2 Isaiah: The Prophet of the Messiah
11.3 Micah: The Prophet of Judgment and Mercy
10
152 Old Testament Survey

Israel’s Early Prophets


CHAPTER (Jonah, Amos, Hosea)
In Chapter 5 of this course, we learned that Israel split into two kingdoms
under the reign of Rehoboam, Solomon’s son. Jeroboam I became the king of the
Northern Kingdom (Israel) and led the priests and nation into idolatrous worship
practices. Eventually, the Israelites fully devoted themselves to worshipping Baal.
In response, God raised up prophets such as Elijah and Elisha to call the people
to repentance. Elijah and Elisha ministered and lived during the time of Ahab
and Jezebel (1 Kings 16:29–18:46). Years later, when Jonah, Amos, and Hosea
ministered to the nation of Israel, the people were still consistently worshipping
Baal (Smith 1991, 40).

Babylonians
Assyrians (850–612 BC)
(612–539 BC)
M all riah I
Shcha m I

Pekah em
az

H ahiah
h

Pe na m

a
ah

as

Ze bo

he
m

e u
hu

ho

ho
ra

ro

os
k

Kings of ISRAEL
Jo

Je

Je

Je

Je

10 Tribes Conquered by Assyria

Prophets of ISRAEL Elisha Jon. Am. Hosea

850 BC 800 BC 750 BC 700 BC 650 BC 600 BC 550 BC

722 612 586 539

God became angry with Israel because of His people’s participation in sinful
practices and consistent breaking of their covenant with Him. The prophets’
voices fell on deaf ears. God therefore commissioned Syrian kings Hazael and
Ben-Hadad to defeat the nation of Israel. Finally, the Israelites cried out to
God in a desperate plea for assistance. God showered His mercy on them (see
2 Kings 13:4, 22–23; 14:26–27) and sent the Assyrians to defeat the Syrians.

Lesson 10.1 Jonah: The Fleeing Prophet


Objectives
10.1.1 describe the background of Jonah, including authorship and date.
10.1.2 apply the lessons of Jonah to believers today.

Lesson 10.2 Amos: The Prophesying Shepherd


Objectives
10.2.1 describe the calling and theme of amos.
10.2.2 explain three principles from amos 3–6.

Lesson 10.3 Hosea: The Prophet and the Prostitute


Objectives
10.3.1 describe the purpose of hosea.
10.3.2 explain how hosea’s marriage and message were similar.
10.3.3 List the themes in hosea.
Israel’s Early Prophets (Jonah, Amos, Hosea) 153

10.1
Jonah: The Fleeing Prophet
Jonah preached to two different nations: Israel and Assyria. In regard to Israel, the
LESSON Bible reveals only that Jonah spoke the word of God during the reign of Jeroboam
II. He predicted military victories that were fulfilled under this king (2 Kings 14:25).
The book of Jonah then describes this prophet’s ministry in the nation of Assyria.

10.1.1
OBJECTIVE
Author and Date
describe the background Due to a lack of internal biblical evidence about the writer of Jonah, many
of Jonah, including conservative scholars believe that the book’s author is uncertain. Others prefer to
authorship and date. stand by Hebrew tradition, which names Jonah himself as the author. At any rate, most
scholars agree that it is best to leave the authorship of this book as an open question.
The date for the writing of Jonah appears to be approximately 760 BC.
The prophet Jonah ministered while Jeroboam II ruled Israel in 793–753 BC
(2 Kings 14:23–25).

Historical Reliability
1 Explain the underlying Because the story of Jonah indicates a rather unusual miracle involving a
question regarding the “great fish” (Jonah 1:17), some people have questioned its historical reliability.
historical accuracy of However, conservative scholars generally agree that the story is historically
Jonah’s story.
accurate. They emphasize that the real issue is whether God performs miracles,
not whether a great fish can swallow a human being:
The key issue is whether Jonah is a work of fiction or of nonfiction. . . . Two
problems complicate the question. The first asks, “Is it possible for a person to
survive three days inside a great fish?” Accounts of sailors who underwent an
ordeal similar to Jonah litter the commentaries. But that misses the point. The
God who parted the Red Sea to save Moses and the Israelites could employ a
fish to save this prophet even if it never happened to anyone else. The real issue
under discussion by interpreters is whether God works miracles or not. That is
not an issue in Jonah (or the rest of the Bible for that matter). That is an issue
raised by the philosophy of the interpreter. (Israel and Fettke 2003, 703–704)

Outline
I. Jonah’s Response to God’s First Call, 1–2
A. Jonah’s call (1:1–2)
B. Jonah’s disobedience (1:3)
C. Results of Jonah’s disobedience (1:4–17)
D. Jonah’s prayer and deliverance (2:1–10)
II. Jonah’s Response to God’s Second Call, 3–4
A. Jonah’s call (3:1–2)
B. Jonah’s obedience (3:3–4)
C. Results of Jonah’s obedience (3:5–10)
D. Jonah’s lesson (4:1–11)

10.1.2 God’s First Call (Jonah 1–2)


OBJECTIVE
apply the lessons of Jonah Of the sixteen major and minor prophets, only Jonah and Hosea were born
to believers today. and reared in Israel. Jonah was from Gath Hepher, a small village three miles
northeast of Nazareth in Galilee (2 Kings 14:25) (Douglas 1978, 454).
154 Old Testament Survey

At some point, God instructed Jonah to go to Nineveh, the Assyrian capital,


and call the people to repentance. Nineveh was approximately 500 miles (800 km)
northeast of Jonah’s hometown; its ruins can still be seen today on the Tigris
River, opposite the city of Mosul, Iraq (Douglas 1978, 888). “Nineveh was a very
large city; it took three days to go all through it” (Jonah 3:3). Within its eight-
mile (13 km) perimeter lived more than 120,000 people (Jonah 4:11). When the
surrounding suburbs, or smaller cities, were included, the greater Nineveh area
spread about 20 miles (32 km) east to west and 20 miles north to south; that is, the
total circumference was approximately 60 miles (96 km) (Barker 1985, 1368).
However, Jonah struggled with the directive from God. He tried to flee from
his God-given responsibility by traveling in the exact opposite direction, toward
Tarshish (possibly in Spain, about 2,500 miles west of Palestine). Jonah was
going as far away from Nineveh as he possibly could!

Jonah’s Journey

2 Why did Jonah disobey Although we often criticize Jonah for foolishly trying to run from God’s
God’s call? instructions, believers today are not immune from similar responses to God’s
directives. As for Jonah, he disobeyed God most likely for a variety of reasons.
For one thing, Jonah detested the Assyrians because they worshipped idols,
which was a violation of God’s command, and they were Israel’s enemies. Their
strategy in wartime involved cruelty and injustice. Because of this, Jonah did
not want the citizens of Nineveh to repent; he wanted God to destroy them.
In addition, Jonah feared that if the Assyrians did repent, God would pour out
His mercy on such wicked, cruel, undeserving people (Jonah 4:2). Jonah had
forgotten several key theological truths: (1) God created everyone, (2) God raised
up Israel to be a blessing to other nations (Genesis 12:1–3), and (3) God desired
that everyone come to know Him in a personal relationship.
Yet, in spite of Jonah’s explicit disobedience, God did not discard him. Instead,
God expressed His great love through discipline. A violent storm arose and
bombarded the ship Jonah was on. According to customs and cultures of that day,
particularly of other nations and religions, such weather phenomena meant the gods
were angry and were punishing someone for inappropriate behavior. The sailors
cast lots to determine who had stirred the divine anger. When the lot indicated
Jonah, he confessed and admitted his guilt. At his insistence, the sailors threw
Jonah overboard into the raging waters of the sea, expecting him to drown and die.
But God calmed the sea (Jonah 1:15), and the sailors worshipped the God of Israel.
In the meantime, God sent a large fish to swallow Jonah, rescuing him from
death (1:17). But Jonah was gripped by intense fear. The fish’s stomach was
similar to a dark grave with a horrible smell and taste. The disobedient prophet
Israel’s Early Prophets (Jonah, Amos, Hosea) 155

came to his senses, regretted his disobedience, and repented. From deep in the
dark sea, he prayed earnestly for God’s help (2:1–9). God’s mercy and grace are
lavish, incredible, and pervasive. God forgave Jonah and prompted the great fish
to vomit Jonah out onto dry land (2:10). Jonah had been rescued both from his
sin of disobedience and from the prison of the insides of a fish.

God’s Second Call (Jonah 3–4)


This time, when God again instructed Jonah to go to Nineveh, he obeyed
and proclaimed the message God had given. God’s dire prophecy through Jonah
caused the people of Nineveh to repent and turn to God. As a result, God “did not
bring upon them the destruction he had threatened” (3:10).
Jonah responded to this development in anger (4:1). This was the very thing
he had feared from the beginning! Why should God extend mercy to such wicked
people? Mercy was the last thing Jonah desired for the city of Nineveh. He
wanted God to hammer the Assyrians with judgment for their sinful behavior
(Jonah 4:2–3) (Good 1965, 39–55). Yet, in this human-divine dialogue, “the Lord
replied, ‘Have you any right to be angry?’” (Jonah 4:4). Despite his faults, the
Lord was patient and merciful with Jonah, just as He was patient and merciful
with Nineveh.

Theological Implications
Does God Change His Mind?
3 What major theological Of the theological issues that arise from the book of Jonah, a major question
issue does the book of Jonah is whether or not God changes His mind. On the basis of Jonah 4:2 and other
raise? scattered Old Testament texts, some individuals assert that God does indeed
relent, or change His mind. Some have further claimed that God reverses His
decisions as a result of our prayers, perhaps contending that prayer is effective
only to the degree that it causes God to relent. However, these beliefs are not
supported by Scripture. Other biblical texts clearly indicate that God does not
change His mind. Numbers 23:19 states, “God is not a man, that he should lie,
nor a son of man, that he should change his mind.” Although a few contend that
the biblical texts are contradictory, when the biblical principle of interpretation
is followed—that unclear texts should be interpreted in light of clear texts rather
than vice versa—the theological tension can be resolved.
Our position is that God does not change His mind. Consider the following
statements by Rich Israel and Steve Fettke:
The story [of Jonah] also raises the issue of God’s changing his decision, or
“relenting” (nacham; Jon. 4:2). Sometimes readers ask how an unchangeable
God, who knows the end from the beginning, can “change his mind.” After all,
Numbers 23:19 claims that such change is a characteristic of humans, not of
God. Yet, Jonah described God as one who “relents from evil.” How may one
hold those two views together theologically?
The sense of the Hebrew verb nacham is “to be sorry.” God was sorry for the
evil that he had decreed against the inhabitants of Nineveh. One should not
infer, though, that God’s mind changed. Jonah knew what God had in mind
from the beginning. He knew that God wanted to spare those wicked sinners,
so he fled to avoid preaching to them. God’s character, however, requires him
to relent from sending calamity any time humans repent from evil (Jon. 4:2).
What he actually “has in mind,” therefore, is to be gracious, compassionate,
slow to anger, abounding in love, and relenting from evil. It was God’s grace
156 Old Testament Survey

that motivated him to send prophets like Jonah to preach to their enemies. God’s
mind does not change. He turns (3:9) from judgment when humans turn (3:10)
from evil. (2003, 706)
Missionary Purpose
A second theological issue involves the book’s missionary theme. God had
a missionary purpose in His call to Jonah; that is, He called Jonah to a specific
missionary task in a specific location. Although Jonah initially resisted the call
and ultimately complained about Nineveh’s positive response, God accomplished
His missionary purpose anyway.
“The story ends with a question that goes unanswered. In posing it, the
narrator puts us all in the hot seat. Do we feel compassion only for our own
comfort? Can we get beyond that to share in God’s compassion for the world,
including our enemies?” (Israel and Fettke 2003, 707). The entire book,
particularly the Lord’s responses in Jonah 4, affirms God’s care, concern, and
mercy for all people. His purpose remains the same today. God desires that all
people and all nations embrace Him as the one true God and Lord of all.

10.2
Amos: The Prophesying Shepherd
LESSON Author and Date
Bible scholars generally agree that Amos authored the book that bears his
name. He was not a priest like Jeremiah or Ezekiel; he was a shepherd and
took care of fig trees (Amos 7:14–15). Since the book of Amos uses an unusual
10.2.1
OBJECTIVE Hebrew word for shepherd, some scholars suggest that Amos was a businessman
describe the calling and who owned flocks and was quite wealthy. However, others question this
theme of amos. conclusion. We do know that Amos’s home was in Tekoa, a small village in Judah
6 miles (9.6 km) south of Bethlehem and 11 miles (18.7 km) from Jerusalem. But
God sent him north to prophesy in the kingdom of Israel.
Amos was not an exegete, scribe, or biblical scholar. He did not attend a
school for prophets, nor was his father a prophet (7:14). While his knowledge of
the times and biblical history shows that he had some education (1:3–2:3), some
contend that this education was not in the formal sense. “God’s willingness to use
people without former academic and religious training highlights the truth that he
shows no partiality—a timely reminder in an age of professionalism like ours”
(Hill and Walton 2000, 479).
4 What does Amos’s Amos’s name, which means “burden-bearer” (Hill and Walton 2000, 479),
name mean, and how did he is theologically significant to his message and calling. For instance, he bore
exemplify this? the burden of social injustice and of identifying with people in their struggles
and difficult times in life. Amos also bore the burdens of the nation of Israel,
particularly in relation to their sin and unfaithfulness to God. That is, he bore
the burden of God’s call to speak prophetically to people who had sinned
consistently and failed to repent of their sinful actions.
By the same token, the fact that he was not part of the religious establishment
of the day enabled him to speak the word of the Lord freely and boldly. “Given
his platform as an ‘independent layman’ and ‘blue-collar’ worker, Amos had
freedom to proclaim God’s message unencumbered by vested interests or public
opinion” (Hill and Walton 2000, 479).
Israel’s Early Prophets (Jonah, Amos, Hosea) 157

According to Amos 1:1, the prophet recorded “what he saw” from God
concerning Israel. Amos received his messages or visions during the reigns
of Uzziah, king of Judah, and Jeroboam II, king of Israel. Thus, Amos likely
ministered around 760–755 BC.

M alluriah I
Ba ab I

Shcha m I
am

Pekah em
az

H kahiah
h
ra h

Pe na m

a
El sha

ah

as
bo

Jo azia

Ze bo

he
m
Ahab
Ti ri

hu

ho

ho
Ah ri
O i
Zi h
ro

ro
bn
ad
a

os
Kings of ISRAEL

m
a

e
Je

Je

Je

Je

Je
N
Prophets of ISRAEL Elijah Elisha Jon. Am. Hosea

1 Sam. 16–
1 Sam. 9–16
2 Sam. 24
1 Kings 1–11 ↕ 1 Kings 12–22 ↕ ↕ 2 Kings 1–17 ↕ ↓ 2 Kings 18–25 ↓
United Kingdom ↓ Divided Kingdom ↓ ↓ Surviving Kingdom ↓
Saul - 40 David - 40 Solomon - 40
1 Chron. 1–29 2 Chron. 1–9 ↓ 2 Chronicles 10–36 ↓

h
Q azi m t

lia
Ah ora pha
ija m

h
ha

h
Ab boa

se
h
h a

ia
ue ah
At

ia

am
Je osh

as
ek
h

az

ia
o

az
en

as

th

an
eh

ez
a

zz
h

Am
Kings of JUDAH

Ah
As

Je

Jo

Jo

M
R

H
Ob. Joel Isaiah
Prophets of JUDAH
Micah

1050 B.C. 1000 B.C. 950 B.C. 900 B.C. 850 B.C. 800 B.C. 750 B.C. 700 B.C. 650 B.C.

722
Prophets of the Divided Kingdom (Gray shading shows wicked kings)

Setting, Purpose, and Theme


5 What is the main theme Amos 1:1 indicates that two years prior to an earthquake, Amos prophesied
of Amos? and warned the Israelites of impending judgment. Israel’s prosperity under
Jeroboam II had led the nation to become lax in their faithfulness to God and
casual about sin. Amos preached against hypocrisy by calling for social justice
for the poor and faithful godly living. The main theme of the book is given
in Amos 5:24: “But let justice roll on like a river; righteousness like a never-
failing stream!”
6 How did Amos use his Because Amos was a shepherd as well as a prophet, he possessed a natural
communication skills? understanding of the people’s occupations. He explained his messages in the
words of a farmer and shepherd. For instance, he spoke of a wagon piled with
grain (2:13), a shepherd rescuing a lamb from a lion (3:12), and a sieve sifting
grain (9:9).
Amos was a person with great communication skills. He used literary devices
to influence his audience. These included a funeral lament about his listeners
(Amos 5:2), a parody of a priest’s instructions to pilgrims (4:4), biting sarcasm
(6:1–7), verses from hymns (4:13; 5:8–9; 9:5–6), and other rhetorical strategies.
We get the impression of a courageous person wading into controversy. (Israel
and Fettke 2003, 708)
158 Old Testament Survey

10.2.2 Outline
OBJECTIVE
explain three principles I. Judgments on Eight Nations, 1:1–2:16
from amos 3–6. A. Damascus (Aram or Syria) (1:3–5)
B. Gaza (Philistia) (1:6–8)
C. Tyre (Phoenicia) (1:9–10)
D. Edom (1:11–12)
E. Ammon (1:13–15)
F. Moab (2:1–3)
G. Judah (2:4–5)
H. Israel (2:6–16)
II. Three Principles of Judgment on Israel, 3–6
A. Privilege brings responsibility (3)
B. God’s discipline should lead to repentance (4)
C. God is with those who seek good and against those who seek evil
(5–6)
III. Five Visions of Judgment on Israel, 7:1–9:10
A. Locusts (not sent) (7:1–3)
B. Fire (not sent) (7:4–6)
C. Plumb line (7:7–9)
(Judgment of Amaziah the priest) (7:10–17)
D. Basket of ripe fruit (8:1–14)
E. The Lord by the altar (9:1–10)
IV. Future Restoration of Israel, 9:11–15

Judgments on Eight Nations (Amos 1:1–2:16)


The book begins with Amos’s pronouncing divine judgment on eight nations.
The first six nations were Israel’s enemies: Damascus, Philistia, Phoenicia,
Edom, Ammon, and Moab. The condemnation of these enemy nations and their
terrible sins (1:3–2:3) excited Israel. According to some scholars, when the
Israelites realized they liked this shepherd-prophet’s statements, their uncertainty
about Amos turned to acceptance. “As God judged each nation for the ‘three sins
. . . even for four’ (a poetic way to describe their ‘many’ sins), the people of Israel
must have applauded Amos and acknowledged him as a true prophet from God”
(Dyer and Merrill 2001, 748).
Israel’s excitement dimmed when the prophecy of God’s judgment fell closer
to home—against Judah, Israel’s neighbor. After declaring that God would judge
Judah for their sins, Amos’s first prophetic message ended with a decree that
roared through Israel like thunder. Instead of pronouncing victory for the nation
of Israel, the Lord castigated the Israelites for their sins and asserted that they
were even more wicked than the other nations! “Once he had their full attention,
Amos thrust home the dagger of God’s judgment as he announced that God
would also judge israel for ‘three sins . . . even for four’” (Dyer and Merrill
2001, 748). Their many sins included oppression of the poor, even selling them as
slaves (Amos 2:6–8). They had forgotten that they too were once slaves in Egypt
and that God rescued them from the tyranny of slavery (2:9–10). Moreover, the
Law prohibited treating other Israelites like slaves (Leviticus 25). God hates
oppression and favors justice. Therefore, God was going to destroy Israel too.
Israel’s Early Prophets (Jonah, Amos, Hosea) 159

Amos set a rhetorical trap to indict his Israelite audience. He first got their
attention by announcing judgment on the breakaway nations of the former
Davidic empire. The climax to his sermon came when he pronounced a more
severe judgment on his Israelite listeners (Amos 2:6–16). For them, that was
probably an unpleasant and unexpected turn of events. In their desire for
judgment on their enemies, they had set themselves up for the same. God’s
accusations against the nations other than Judah and Israel stemmed from
crimes against humanity. Excessive cruelties in warfare were typical reasons
for judgment. Some of those practices included deporting whole populations,
ripping open “pregnant women” (Amos 1:13), and treaty violations. They
were actions that every moral person would condemn as extreme. They were
the reasons for God’s judgment on those nations. Yahweh was the judge of all
nations. He would judge and punish all injustices. (Israel and Fettke 2003, 710)

Principles of Judgment on Israel (Amos 3–6)


7 What were Amos’s Following his initial pronouncement, Amos described and developed three
three principles for judgment principles or reasons for God’s impending judgment against Israel:
against Israel?
1. Privilege brings responsibility (Amos 3).
2. The purpose of God’s discipline is to lead to repentance (4).
3. God is with those who seek good and against those who seek evil (5–6).
Within these principles, Amos affirmed that Israel was indeed God’s chosen
nation and that God had “elected” them to that position.
Apparently Israel had an attitude of superiority growing out of their special
relationship with God. In fact, the privilege of Israel’s election was at the root of
their problem. They assumed that their standing with God excused them from his
judgment. How could God’s “most favored nation” lose its status? Was God not
prospering their economy and politics? Amos argued that God’s special election
was the basis for his judgment (Amos 3:1–2). (Israel and Fettke 2003, 711)

Five Visions of Judgment on Israel (Amos 7:1–9:10)


Amos then recounted five visions or illustrations of the divine judgment
coming to Israel: locusts (7:1–3), fire (7:4–6), a plumb line (7:7–9), a basket of
ripe fruit (8:1–14), and the Lord standing by the altar (9:1–10). Israel was ripe for
God’s judgment. Their consistent sinful practices had gone on far too long, and it
was time for God to withhold His mercy and grace. As a result, the people would
experience a famine of God’s word; His messages through the prophets would be
cut off (8:11–12).

Future Restoration (Amos 9:11–15)


8 How does the book of Yet the book ends on a positive note. Even after divine judgment, God extends
Amos end? What are two mercy, grace, and hope—hope beyond judgment. The end of Amos’s book
descriptions of this? describes this hope in two ways, using (1) God’s promise to David to restore
Israel and (2) the vivid imagery of a future agricultural bounty. When Jesus,
the messianic King, returns, He will rule over every nation. Then Israel will
“‘possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations that bear my name,’ declares
the Lord” (9:12). In that day, the people will enjoy peace and a plentiful harvest.
God is indeed a God of all nations. Amos 9:11–12 is but one of numerous Old
Testament passages that proclaim God’s judgment of all nations and His intent to
bring all nations to himself.
160 Old Testament Survey

10.3
Hosea: The Prophet and the Prostitute
LESSON Author, Setting, and Date
The name hosea means “the Lord saves” and is considered to be connected
with the names of Joshua and Isaiah. A contemporary of Amos, Hosea began
his ministry during the last years of the reign of King Jeroboam II, in a time of
10.3.1
OBJECTIVE economic prosperity for Israel. However, when Jeroboam II died in 753 BC, a
describe the purpose of reversal quickly set in. Within fifteen years of Jeroboam’s death, four of Israel’s
hosea. kings were murdered (Zechariah, Shallum, Pekahiah, and Pekah). Within fifteen
more years, Assyria conquered Israel and carried the Jews away as prisoners
(722 BC), later scattering them among the nations. Thus, in the course of Hosea’s
ministry he saw great changes, including the fulfillment of Amos’s prophecies.
The prophet Hosea probably wrote his book from Judah about 715–710 BC.

Purpose
9 What was the purpose of Hosea’s prophecy was God’s last attempt to call the nation of Israel to
Hosea’s prophecy? repentance. Hosea emphasized three things: (1) God’s great love and desire to
redeem His people from their sins, (2) His obligation to judge those who reject
Him, and (3) Israel’s state of spiritual adultery.

Outline
Various outlines of the book of Hosea have been proposed. For the purposes of
this course, the outline provided by Arnold and Beyer is commendable (1999, 440):
I. Hosea’s Family and God’s Family, 1–3
II. God Takes Israel to Court, 4–5
III. Hosea’s Invitation Tarnished by Reality, 6:1–11:11
IV. God’s Final Arguments against Israel, 11:12–13:16
V. The Possibility of Restoration, 14

10.3.2 Family Issues (Hosea 1–3)


OBJECTIVE
explain how hosea’s As with Song of Songs, some individuals have questioned the book of
marriage and message Hosea’s role in God’s inspired Word. After all, if the message is a call to Israel
were similar. to repent because of their unfaithfulness, why would God tell Hosea to marry a
prostitute? Is that not a contradiction?
10.3.3
OBJECTIVE
Part of the controversy involves the question of whether Gomer, Hosea’s
wife, was unfaithful before or after Hosea married her. Some scholars claim
List the themes in hosea.
that Gomer was adulterous only after her marriage to Hosea. They assert that
(1) the plural form of adultery in the Hebrew refers more to character than to
10 What question from Hosea
specific acts, (2) children of unfaithfulness refers to children born after Hosea and
do Bible scholars debate?
Gomer’s marriage, and (3) the first child is described as Hosea’s child (Dyer and
Merrill 2001, 725). They argue that this viewpoint “better fits the analogy of God
and Israel (2:15)” (Arnold and Beyer 1999, 441). However, to other scholars, the
biblical text strongly indicates that Gomer was a prostitute prior to the marriage.
They focus on the term harlot or adulterous wife’s use in Hosea 1:2 and at least
twelve other times in the entire Old Testament. While the debate continues over
its meaning in 1:2, in the other Old Testament occurrences, “the term refers to
past or present harlotry, never to future harlotry” (Arnold and Beyer 1999, 441).
Israel’s Early Prophets (Jonah, Amos, Hosea) 161

11 What position does This course takes the position that most likely Gomer was a prostitute prior
this course take regarding to the marriage and continued in her unfaithfulness even after the marriage. That
Gomer’s unfaithfulness? is, we prefer a both/and conclusion from the biblical text rather than an either/or
interpretation. Noted scholars Andrew Hill and John Walton affirm the both/and
view (2000, 468).
In any case, in Hosea’s story, Gomer represented Israel and Hosea represented
God. God often had His prophets illustrate their messages by actually living them
out, such as Jeremiah’s wearing a wooden yoke (Jeremiah 27–28) and Ezekiel’s
erecting a model of the siege of Jerusalem and lying alongside it (Ezekiel 4–5).
In the same way, God used Hosea’s marriage to illustrate His message to Israel
about their unfaithfulness. Gomer committed physical adultery just as Israel
committed spiritual adultery against God (Hosea 2:8–13). The Hebrew text uses
brutal honesty and vivid language to compare the two.
Hosea’s marriage to Gomer also told the Israelites how God felt about choosing
them as His chosen nation. He had married a “prostitute” who was consistently
unfaithful to Him. Thus, Hosea shared a part of God’s heartache, sorrow, and pain.
“Through his failed marriage, Hosea suffered the divine pathos. He felt the pain
of a husband deserted by his unfaithful wife. Like God, he endured his people’s
hostile rejection of his message” (Israel and Fettke 2003, 717).
Even the names of Hosea’s children were prophetic signs to Israel
(Hosea 1:4–9). Hosea 1:3 indicates that Hosea fathered their first child, a son
named Jezreel. However, the absence of the word him in Hosea 1:6 and 1:9 may
mean that the other two children were born from Gomer’s adulterous relationships
(1:2). The names of the second and third children symbolized God’s deep
disappointment in Israel: Lo-Ruhamah meant “not loved,” and Lo-Ammi meant
“not my people.”
12 Compare Hosea’s Yet the overriding lesson in Hosea involved Gomer’s continued adultery
marriage with his message. during their marriage. Despite her unfaithfulness, God did not tell Hosea to stone
her as the law of Moses commanded. Rather, God clearly instructed the prophet
to love her. According to Hosea 3:1–5, Gomer had become the property of
another, so Hosea redeemed her, or bought her back.

Court Case (Hosea 4:1–13:16)


The vivid depiction of marital unfaithfulness laid the foundation for the
courtroom imagery beginning in Hosea 4. God now appeared as the prosecuting
attorney, bringing a lawsuit against His own people. The court case against the
nation of Israel continued through Hosea 13:16.
God was bringing a legal dispute against Israel. When Israel failed to live up
to her part of the covenant God had made with her, God had the right to bring
charges against her. Israel stood guilty before God. Hosea declared that the
people did not really know God. This lack of knowledge led to sin, which
would bring judgment. (Arnold and Beyer 1999, 442)
“In every direction, His people have played Him false: in religion with other
gods, another cult; in politics, with shabby intrigues and dubious patrons; in
morals, with unbridled sex and violence” (Kidner 1981, 13). Therefore, God
detailed three charges against the nation of Israel:
1. No acknowledgement of God (Hosea 4–5)
2. No loyal love toward God (6:1–11:11)
3. No faithfulness to God (11:12–13:16) (Dyer and Merrill 2001, 730–735).
162 Old Testament Survey

As the case progressed, Hosea continued to use vivid illustrations to


demonstrate Israel’s unfaithfulness to God. The story’s intrigue and suspense
raised a disturbing question: Was God considering “divorcing” His own people
when He so clearly stated that he “hates divorce” (Malachi 2:16)? Yet, throughout
the proceedings, God continued to ask, “How can I give you up?” (Hosea 4–14).
Ultimately, He desired to redeem them.

Possible Restoration (Hosea 14)


Hosea 14 again held out hope, reminding the nation of Israel that restoration
was possible. If they would only repent, God promised them healing and
blessing. He assured them that He would forgive all their sins.
13 What do you consider to The concluding chapter of Hosea’s book was probably written on the eve of
be the themes of Hosea? Samaria’s fall. Hosea called the Israelites to repent. He even provided a prayer
for them to recite (14:1–3). A favorable response by Israel would bring about
God’s favorable reply (14:4–8). Once again God’s grace and love would
emerge in promises of healing and blessing. The triumph of God’s love over all
obstacles shines through in Hosea. Human rebellion receives divine judgment.
But beyond that, God remains committed to his people in unrelenting love.
Hosea dramatically pictured God’s love as devotion that does not falter under
the gravest circumstances. (Israel and Fettke 2003, 721)
Israel’s Early Prophets (Jonah, Amos, Hosea) 163

T Test Yourself
Circle the letter of the best answer.
10
CHAPTER

1. The greatest debate about Jonah’s historical 6. Based on Amos 3–6, it appears that Israel’s sin
accuracy centers on which question? problem was rooted in their
a) Would God send a prophet to a wicked a) intermarriage with people from other nations.
Gentile nation? b) inability to discern God’s message through Amos.
b) Can God perform the miracle of keeping Jonah c) pride in their privileged position as God’s
alive in a fish’s belly for three days? chosen people.
c) Can God use a prophet who resents the mission d) rejection of God’s discipline.
God has given him?
7. Hosea’s name means
d) Does God really care about the heathen nations
a) “light-bearer.”
of the world?
b) “burden-bearer.”
2. Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh primarily c) “Jehovah is my righteousness.”
because d) “the Lord saves.”
a) the journey was too far.
8. The period of Hosea’s ministry overlapped that of
b) the people were wicked and enemies of Israel.
a) Amos.
c) he would be rejected by his own people.
b) Joel.
d) he was too old to make the journey.
c) Micah.
3. The people of Nineveh responded to Jonah’s d) Obadiah.
message by
9. The name of Gomer’s third child, Lo-Ammi, meant
a) repenting and turning from their wicked ways.
a) “not my people.”
b) laughing at Jonah with rejection.
b) “Israel is forsaken.”
c) forcing Jonah to flee for his life.
c) “not love.”
d) listening yet resisting the urge to repent.
d) “unfaithful.”
4. Amos’s name means
10. God uses courtroom imagery to bring charges of
a) “Jehovah is my righteousness.”
unfaithfulness against Israel in the book of
b) “the Lord saves.”
a) Jonah.
c) “burden-bearer.”
b) Obadiah.
d) “light-bearer.”
c) Amos.
5. According to Amos 5:24, the theme of Amos d) Hosea.
centers on
a) the tension between God’s love and His judgment.
b) God’s desire for redemption.
c) judgment for Israel’s idolatry.
d) social justice and righteousness.
164 Old Testament Survey

Responses to Interactive Questions


Chapter 10
Some of these responses may include information that is supplemental to the IST. These questions are intended
to produce reflective thinking beyond the course content and your responses may vary from these examples.
1 Explain the underlying question regarding the historical accuracy of Jonah’s story.
Some question the truth of Jonah’s story, wondering whether a person can survive three days in a fish.
However, the underlying question is whether or not God performs miracles.
2 Why did Jonah disobey God’s call?
Jonah avoided God’s call most likely for a variety of reasons, including both prejudice and fear that God would
be merciful to a cruel people whom Jonah detested.
3 What major theological issue does the book of Jonah raise?
The issue of whether God changes His mind or relents. This course advocates that God does not change His mind.
4 What does Amos’s name mean, and how did he exemplify this?
Amos means “burden-bearer.” Amos bore the burdens of the nation of Israel in their unfaithfulness to God,
the burden of social injustice, the burden of identifying with people in life’s difficult times, and the burden of
God’s call to speak prophetically to people who had sinned and failed to repent.
5 What is the main theme of Amos?
“Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream” (Amos 5:24).
6 How did Amos use his communication skills?
Because Amos was a shepherd, he explained his messages in the words of a farmer and a shepherd. He used
illustrations from everyday life in these occupations as well as literary devices such as lament, parody, sarcasm,
verses from hymns, and other rhetorical strategies.
7 What were Amos’s three principles for judgment against Israel?
(1) Privilege brings responsibility. (2) The purpose of God’s discipline is to lead to repentance. (3) God is with
those who seek good and against those who seek evil.
8 How does the book of Amos end? What are two descriptions of this?
Amos ends on a positive, hopeful note: Even after divine judgment comes divine mercy, grace, and hope. Two
descriptions of that hope are (1) God’s promise to David to restore Israel through Jesus and (2) a vivid image of
a future agricultural bounty.
9 What was the purpose of Hosea’s prophecy?
To call the nation of Israel to repentance. It emphasized (1) God’s love for His people and desire for
redemption, (2) impending judgment on those who rejected God, and (3) Israel’s spiritual adultery.
10 What question from Hosea do Bible scholars debate?
Was Gomer, Hosea’s wife, unfaithful before or after Hosea married her?
11 What position does this course take regarding Gomer’s unfaithfulness?
Gomer was most likely a prostitute prior to the marriage, but perhaps she continued in her unfaithfulness after
her marriage.
Israel’s Early Prophets (Jonah, Amos, Hosea) 165

12 Compare Hosea’s marriage with his message.


Gomer represented Israel, and Hosea represented God. She committed physical adultery as Israel committed
spiritual adultery against God. The pain Hosea felt from Gomer’s unfaithfulness reflected God’s sorrow and
pain about Israel’s idolatry. Even the names of Hosea’s children were prophetic signs. Gomer continued her
adulterous relationships during the marriage, yet God did not tell Hosea to stone her, but to love her. Gomer
became the property of another, so Hosea redeemed her.
13 What do you consider to be the themes of Hosea?
Your answer might include these ideas: When we repent, God’s grace and love bring healing and blessing.
Human rebellion receives divine judgment, but God remains committed to His people in unrelenting love.
God’s devotion does not falter under the gravest circumstances.
11
166 Old Testament Survey

Judah’s Early Prophets


CHAPTER (Joel, Isaiah, Micah)
In the previous chapter, we discussed the early prophets who ministered to
the nation of Israel during the divided kingdom. In this chapter, we will consider
the early prophets who ministered in Judah during the same era. (Review the
following chart.)

Divided (Assyrian) Kingdom

Prophets to Israel: Prophets to Judah:


Jonah, Amos, Joel, Isaiah,
and Hosea and Micah

Chapter 10 Chapter 11

While the rulers of the Northern Kingdom led Israel further and further into
idolatry, the Southern Kingdom’s decline under her leaders was more gradual.
Kings such as Jehoshaphat and Josiah led the nation of Judah in worshipping the
one true God. Yet other kings turned away from monotheism and worshipped
idols. As the rule of Judah passed from one king to another, God continued to
speak through prophets such as Joel, Isaiah, and Micah, calling His people to
repent and turn to Him wholeheartedly or face judgment.

Lesson 11.1 Joel: The Prophet of Pentecost


Objective
11.1.1 summarize what Joel says about locusts, repentance, Pentecost, and the
day of the Lord.

Lesson 11.2 Isaiah: The Prophet of the Messiah


Objectives
11.2.1 describe the author, setting, purpose, and call of isaiah.
11.2.2 summarize what isaiah says about judgment, hope, and the messiah.

Lesson 11.3 Micah: The Prophet of Judgment and Mercy


Objective
11.3.1 identify the kings of micah’s time, and explain why micah prophesied
both judgment and mercy.
Judah’s Early Prophets (Joel, Isaiah, Micah) 167

11.1
Joel: The Prophet of Pentecost
LESSON Author and Date
The name Joel, meaning “the Lord is God,” was common in Old Testament
times. At least twelve other men in the Old Testament were named Joel.
However, Joel 1:1 clearly states that the prophet Joel, son of Pethuel, authored
11.1.1
OBJECTIVE the book that bears his name. Frequent references to Zion or Jerusalem, Judah,
summarize what Joel says and priests or the temple (Joel 2:32; 3:1, 6, 8, 16–20) appear to support the idea
about locusts, repentance, that Joel lived in Judah.
Pentecost, and the day of The date of the book of Joel is difficult to know because he does not
the Lord. refer to any king or historical event. Some scholars propose a date as late as
312 BC, claiming the book was written after the Jews returned from exile in
Babylon and rebuilt the temple. They point to Joel’s frequent references to the
priests instead of a king as support for their argument. Other scholars propose
a date as early as 835 BC, around the time of King Joash of Judah, well before
the Exile. Most conservative scholars favor this latter, preexilic date, around
the eighth century BC.

Purpose and Theme


1 Why did Joel write his Joel recorded great disasters—plagues of locusts, famine, fire, army invasions,
book? the sun turning dark, and the moon turning to blood—to both demonstrate God’s
judgment on Judah and urge the people to repent. That is, Joel wrote the words of
his prophecy for four reasons:
1. To explain why calamity (locusts and famine) had come
2. To warn of an even greater danger (the army that was ready to march on
Judah from the north)
3. To call the people of Judah to repent
4. To prophesy about the future Day of the Lord that would bring blessings
for some and judgment for others
The Day of the Lord is the theme of Joel’s book.

Outline
I. Judah’s Present Judgment, 1:1–20
A. A great plague of locusts (1:2–12)
B. A call to national repentance (1:13–14)
C. Judah’s desperate situation (1:15–20)
II. An Even Greater Judgment at Hand, 2:1–17
A. An army prepared to march against Judah (2:1–11)
B. A call to national repentance (2:12–17)
III. The Future Day of the Lord, 2:18–3:21
A. Prophecy of restoration (2:18–27)
B. Prophecy of Pentecost (2:28–32)
C. Prophecy of judgment (3:1–15)
D. Prophecy of salvation (3:16–21)
168 Old Testament Survey

Judah’s Present Judgment (Joel 1:1–20)


The book of Joel opens with the record of a locust plague and a call to
national repentance. Although only about two inches long, locusts fly in a swarm
that may be 100 feet (30 m) wide and 4 miles (6 km) long, darkening the sky and
consuming everything in their path. With the locusts came famine. No grapes,
figs, or grain were left. The ground dried up, the fig trees withered, and the fields
cracked because there was no rain (1:10, 12). Livestock were dying from the lack
of food. The people believed it to be the most severe plague of locusts, famine,
and drought they had ever seen.
Joel knew that the plagues were not an accident; the lack of grain in the barns
and lack of water in the rivers were sure signs of God’s judgment. In the region
of Judah, the rainy season extended from late November through early March.
The Bible often uses the terms former rains and latter rains to refer to the cycle
of the rainy season. The people depended on these rains for a good harvest.
Because of this, the Old Testament often depicts a lack of rain as divine judgment
and an abundance of rain as God’s blessing.

The Coming Judgment (Joel 2:1–17)


2 What did the locusts in Joel then prophesied that the present locusts were a harbinger of things to
the book of Joel represent? come—a future divine judgment. That is, the locusts symbolized another army
that was coming. Like locusts, this army would turn a garden like Eden into a
desert and, like a fire, eat everything before it. The warriors would climb over the
walls and into houses through the windows. They would turn the sky black, and
the nation of Judah would fall (2:1–11).
Joel called for the nation to repent and cry out to God as their only hope. “If
the people did not return to the Lord, his army would attack Jerusalem (2:12–17).
The people had to repent or face the day of the Lord” (Israel and Fettke 2003,
730). Joel urged them to go beyond the outward signs of tearing their clothes and
to rend their hearts instead (Joel 2:12–14). He called for an internal repentance.
In doing so, Joel reassured Judah that God remains “gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love” (2:13).

The Day of the Lord (Joel 2:18–3:21)


After warning of impending judgment, Joel prophesied about a future
restoration for the nation of Judah—both physical (2:18–27) and spiritual
(2:28–3:21). The land and spiritual vitality would be restored. The plagues would
cease. However, this restoration depended on the people’s repentance. “Joel’s
description of the nation’s genuine heartfelt cry to God is the pivot on which the
book turns. After the nation repents, ‘then the Lord will be jealous for his land
and take pity on his people.’ . . . God [would remove] the people’s reproach by
driving the invading locusts from the land” (Dyer and Merrill 2001, 742).
The people really did return to the Lord (Joel 2:18–3:21). Consequently, the
Lord would bless them. Their losses from devastation would be restored
(2:21–27). In the more distant future an age of the Spirit’s outpouring would
precede the Day of the Lord. All who would call on the name of the Lord would
be delivered from the anguish of that day (2:32). God would pour out His Spirit
on all people. (Israel and Fettke 2003, 730–731)
3 Why did Peter quote Joel Although we must be careful to interpret the book of Joel in light of
on the Day of Pentecost? its original audience and original context, it is important to note that Peter
quoted from Joel on the Day of Pentecost. Why? The Day of Pentecost
Judah’s Early Prophets (Joel, Isaiah, Micah) 169

was most likely a partial fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy as it relates to the


outpouring of the Holy Spirit:
The prophecy of Joel had an impact far beyond the audience that he
personally addressed, because later interpreters applied it directly to their own
generations. This is particularly evident in the apostle Peter’s use of Joel’s
prophecy in the birth of the church at Pentecost. When the Holy Spirit came
on those in the upper room, the change that occurred in them caused quite a
stir among the many visitors. . . . Peter spoke up and immediately explained
the phenomenon as a fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy found in 2:28–32. He
launched into a sermon explaining who Jesus was and calling on the people to
repent and be baptized (Acts 2:1–41).
This citation has sometimes perplexed scholars, for it is difficult to see how
the endowment of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost had much if anything to do with
the “day of the Lord” that was addressed in Joel. Peter’s use of this passage,
however, did not indicate that he considered the day of the Lord to have arrived.
The apostles’ situation had two significant similarities with the prophecy of
Joel—the endowment of the Spirit, and the need of the moment to call upon
the Lord and be saved. These conditions would have been sufficient for Peter to
draw the connection. (Hill and Walton 2000, 477)
As Pentecostals who believe in the baptism of the Holy Spirit as evidenced
by speaking in tongues and who are committed to evangelism through world and
home missions, we can rest assured that the Holy Spirit will empower us to share
the gospel message globally. Joel’s prophecy will be completely fulfilled.

11.2
Isaiah: The Prophet of the Messiah
LESSON Author and Date
Differing opinions exist concerning the authorship of the book of Isaiah.
Many maintain that Isaiah wrote the entire book. However, others believe that
Isaiah wrote chapters 1–39 and another person authored chapters 40–66. Still
11.2.1
OBJECTIVE others contend that a third person wrote chapters 55–66.
describe the author, The discussion of authorship centers on the fact that Isaiah 40–66 refers
setting, purpose, and call to a historical era after the eighth century BC. Thus, the question is, Does the
of isaiah. book look at this time period from a future or present perspective? In other
words, were these events prophesied ahead of time or within the author’s own
generation? Those with a multiple-author perspective argue that the historical
events could be known only to someone living at that particular time. They
support their position by indicating differences in writing style as well as in
theological emphases or themes between sections of the book.
4 Who does this course However, all of these arguments assume that such variances could not occur by
advocate as the author of the same author. Dyer and Merrill correctly point out that “all these objections . . .
Isaiah, and why? are based on the presupposition that predictive prophecy is not possible” (2001,
524). Did not the omniscient God often use His prophets to foretell specific future
events even hundreds of years in advance? Conservative scholarship contends that
a view of “divided authorship undermines both the supernatural character and the
authority of Scripture” (Israel and Fettke 2003, 749). In addition, Jesus and the
apostles seem to promote the prophet Isaiah as the author of the entire book. “If
170 Old Testament Survey

. . . scripture interprets scripture, then surely the noncritical acceptance of Isaiah’s
writings from all its sections by Jesus and the apostles should be given great
weight and lasting authority” (Israel and Fettke 2003, 749). In other words, internal
biblical evidence appears to support the one-author viewpoint.
Therefore, like most conservative evangelical scholars, this course holds
to the view that the entire book—chapters 1–66—was authored by the prophet
Isaiah, son of Amoz (Isaiah 1:1). Isaiah likely wrote his book around 700 BC.

Isaiah’s Call
5 Read Isaiah 6:1–8, and Isaiah 6 records Isaiah’s unique call and commission to serve as God’s
describe Isaiah’s call. prophet. In a vision, Isaiah “saw the Lord seated on a throne,” surrounded
by flying seraphs who continually worshipped Him (6:1–3). When Isaiah
despaired of his uncleanness, one of the seraphs cleansed Isaiah’s lips with
a coal. To the Lord’s question, “Whom shall I send?” Isaiah obediently
answered, “Here am I. Send me!” (6:8).
Isaiah then prophesied “during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and
Hezekiah” (1:1), meaning that his ministry spanned “decades, from 740 until
701 BC or later” (Israel and Fettke 2003, 733). “Isaiah served as a prophet in
Judah’s royal court. He thus prophesied mainly to Judah, though he also had
words for Israel and other nations” (Arnold and Beyer 1999, 355). Some have
suggested that Isaiah’s service in the royal court may have given him access to
certain information included in his book.

Purpose and Themes


6 Why did Isaiah write his Isaiah’s purpose in writing was to (1) warn Judah and other nations that God’s
book? judgment was coming on their sins, (2) prophesy that a group of Jews would
return after the captivity and would be a light to the nations, and (3) prophesy
that God would send the Messiah to be the Savior of all nations.
7 What does the name Isaiah was an educated man, and his poetic style of writing is exceptional.
Isaiah mean, and how does Since his name means “the Lord is salvation,” it is appropriate that he uses
it relate to one of the book’s the term salvation three times as much as all the other Old Testament prophets
major themes?
combined. Besides judgment, his book focuses on the Messiah and includes a
tremendous recurring emphasis on God’s grace and love. As a result, Isaiah has
sometimes been called the evangelical prophet, and his book is referred to as “the
Gospel of the Old Testament” (Arnold and Beyer 1999, 354). The book of Isaiah
numbers with Deuteronomy and Psalms as one of the three books most quoted in
the New Testament.

Background and Setting


The Assyrians marched west into Aram (Syria) and Canaan in 733 BC in
response to the alliance between King Pekah of Israel and King Rezin of Syria.
These two kings then attacked Ahaz, king of Judah, to force him into fighting
with them against Assyria (2 Kings 16:5; Isaiah 7:1).
Although Ahaz’s army successfully defended Jerusalem, he and the people of
Judah were afraid because Israel and Syria had defeated them at an earlier time
(2 Chronicles 28:5–8). Isaiah counseled Ahaz to trust in God and not ask for help
from the king of Assyria (Isaiah 7), but Ahaz refused. At Ahaz’s request, King
Tiglath-Pileser of Assyria came to his aid and conquered Damascus, the capital of
Syria (2 Kings 16:7–10). Later, in 722 BC, Assyria conquered Israel.
Judah’s Early Prophets (Joel, Isaiah, Micah) 171

But Ahaz’s rapport with Tiglath-Pileser turned out to be “trouble instead of


help” for Judah (2 Chronicles 28:20). In 701 BC, King Sennacherib of Assyria
marched toward Jerusalem (Isaiah 36:1). As King Hezekiah prayed to God for
help, Isaiah prophesied that God would force the Assyrians to leave Jerusalem
(37:6–7), and the prophecy was fulfilled.
Still, Isaiah indicated that because of Judah’s sins, Babylon would conquer
the nation (39:5–7). This captivity did not occur until 586 BC, about one hundred
years after Isaiah’s death. God showed Isaiah not only the sorrows of captivity
but also the mercy He would extend to the Jews afterward. Isaiah prophesied that
the Lord would raise up a leader named Cyrus to assist the Jews (44:28–45:13).
God fulfilled this prophecy in the days of Ezra (Ezra 1:1–2)—about 150 years
later. Isaiah also foretold many details about the future Messiah, who would
come centuries later to provide salvation from sin for all nations.

Outline
I. Prophecies of Judgment, 1–35
A. Setting of the book (1)
B. Early prophecies of Isaiah (2–5)
C. Call of Isaiah (6)
D. Early prophecies of the Messiah (7–12)
E. Judgment on the nations (13–23)
F. The coming kingdom of God (24–27)
G. Woe and hope (28–35)
II. Hezekiah’s Deliverance, Healing, and Pride, 36–39
III. Prophecies of Salvation and Hope, 40–66
A. Israel’s restoration (40–48)
B. The suffering Messiah (49–53)
C. Israel’s redemption (54–59)
D. Israel’s glorious future (60–66)

11.2.2 Judgment (Isaiah 1–35)


OBJECTIVE
summarize what isaiah As with other biblical prophets, many of Isaiah’s prophecies tell of coming
says about judgment, hope, judgment. Isaiah 1 accuses Judah of rebellion, insincere worship, and injustice
and the messiah. (Dyer and Merrill 2001, 528). As a result, the early chapters of Isaiah use a
literary device known as the “woe oracles” to pronounce judgment against Judah.
Israel and other nations are also warned of coming disaster:
Chapters 1 through 12 deal with the purification of Jerusalem through judgment.
Chapters 13 through 27 describe the coming judgment of God against other
nations. Chapters 28 through 33 unmask Jerusalem’s false hope in Egypt as the
power that will deliver them from the Assyrians, at the same time pointing to
the coming reign of God as the genuine depository of hope. (Israel and Fettke
2003, 737–738)
Despite this emphasis on judgment, however, the first section of Isaiah
also incorporates the themes of hope, deliverance, mercy, love, and grace. For
instance, Isaiah 7 prophesies the virgin birth of the Messiah—the ultimate Hope
and Deliverer for all nations.
172 Old Testament Survey

Salvation and Hope (Isaiah 40–66)


The last section of Isaiah strengthens the focus on these themes of grace, love,
hope, mercy, and deliverance, particularly through the Messiah. “The second half
of the book continues the themes begun in Isaiah 1 through 33. The perspective,
however, shifts from promise to the beginning of fulfillment” (Israel and Fettke
2003, 740). Dyer and Merrill suggest the following outline for Isaiah 40–66:
“God’s Deliverance (chapters 40–48), God’s Deliverer (chapters 49–57) and
God’s Delivered (chapters 58–66)” (2001, 527).
8 Identify at least six of Isaiah prophesied not only the Messiah’s coming but also many of His
Isaiah’s prophecies about the attributes. The following chart presents an overview of Isaiah’s prophecies about
Messiah. the Messiah as fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ (Stamps 1992, 976):

Prophecy about Christ Reference in Isaiah New Testament


Fulfillment
His incarnation and deity 7:14; 9:6–7 Matthew 1:22–23; Luke
1:32–35

His youth 7:15–16; 11:1 Luke 3:23, 32; Acts


13:22–23

His message and 11:2; 42:1; 61:1 Matthew 12:15–21


anointing

His mission 11:2–5; 42:1–41; 60:1–3; Luke 4:17–19, 21


61:1–3

His miracles 35:5–6 Matthew 11:2–5

His obedience 50:5 Hebrews 5:8

His suffering 50:6 Matthew 26:67; 27:26, 30


53:4–5, 11 Acts 8:28–33

His shame 52:14 Philippians 2:7–8

His rejection 53:1–3 Luke 23:18; John 1:11;


7:5

His atoning death 53:4–12 Romans 5:6

His ascension 52:13 Philippians 2:9–11

His second coming 26:20–21 Jude 14


61:2–3 2 Thessalonians 1:5–12
65:17–25 2 Peter 3:13

Specifically, Isaiah 40–55 portrays the Messiah as the Servant of the Lord.
Scholars note that four “servant songs” appear in this portion of Scripture:
(a) 42:1–4; (b) 49:1–6; (c) 50:4–9; and (d) 52:13–53:12. The fourth servant
song on “the Suffering Servant” (52:13–53:12) is further outlined as follows:
the servant’s triumph (52:13–15), the servant’s rejection (53:1–3), the servant’s
suffering (53:4–6), the servant’s death (53:7–9), and the servant’s reward
(53:10–12) (Israel and Fettke 2003, 743).
While the chapter variations may differ, conservative scholars agree that the
remainder of Isaiah deals with God’s promised restoration of Israel. As with other
of the prophetical books, God ends His message of judgment by offering hope
and deliverance.
Judah’s Early Prophets (Joel, Isaiah, Micah) 173

11.3
Micah: The Prophet of Judgment and Mercy
LESSON Author and Date
Scholars generally agree that “Micah of Moresheth” (Micah 1:1) authored
the book that bears his name. Strong evidence of this is found in Jeremiah 26:18,
where some elders remind the people of Micah’s ministry and quote from
11.3.1
OBJECTIVE Micah 3:12. The Jeremiah reference says that Micah “prophesied in the days
identify the kings of of Hezekiah king of Judah,” and Micah himself specifically mentions the kings
micah’s time, and explain Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah (Micah 1:1). Thus, Micah ministered sometime
why micah prophesied between 750 and 686 BC and was a contemporary of Isaiah, who prophesied in
both judgment and mercy. Jerusalem, and Hosea, who prophesied in Israel.
Micah was from Moresheth Gath, a small town in Judah about 25 miles
9 During the reigns of what (40 km) southwest of Jerusalem. It was near the old Philistine stronghold of Gath.
three kings did Micah minister? Like Amos, then, Micah was a country prophet.

Purposes and Themes


10 What were Micah’s Micah’s message centered on the themes of social injustice, true worship, and
themes? false security (Arnold and Beyer 1999, 455) as well as judgment for sinful practices.
However, he also emphasized mercy and deliverance. As part of these themes, Micah
1. cried out against the social evils of his day, including corruption, greed,
and immorality;
2. predicted the fall of Israel and its capital, Samaria (Micah 1:6–7), and of Judah
and its capital, Jerusalem (Micah 1:9–16; 3:9–12) (Smith 1991, 50); and
3. promised deliverance after judgment.
In addition, Micah prophesied the birthplace of the Messiah, the One who
would be Israel’s deliverer.

Outline
Arnold and Beyer see Micah 1–5 as the “first round of judgment and
salvation” and 6–7 as the “second round of judgment and salvation” (1999, 455).
For the purposes of our study, however, we will use the following outline:
I. Judgment against Israel and Judah, 1–3
A. Introduction (1:1–2)
B. Prophecy: God will destroy Samaria (1:3–7)
C. Prophecy: God will destroy Judah (1:8–16)
D. Sins among God’s people (2:1–11)
E. Hope amidst despair (2:12–13)
F. Sins among God’s leaders (3)
II. Prophetic Message of Hope, 4–5
A. The coming Kingdom (4)
B. The coming King from Bethlehem (5:1–5)
C. The coming victory and cleansing (5:5–15)
III. God’s Case against Israel, 6
A. God accuses His people (6:1–8)
B. The coming judgment (6:9–16)
IV. Future Hope for God’s People, 7
174 Old Testament Survey

A. Micah mourns over the sins of his society (7:1–6)


B. Micah’s personal hope (7:7)
C. Prophecy: Israel will rise again (7:8–13)
D. God’s final blessings for His people (7:14–20)

Judgment for Israel and Judah (Micah 1–3)


In Micah 1, the prophet used an interesting literary device to convey his
message: “In the Hebrew text, a series of alliterations and puns on place names
draws the listener into the message, adding to the rhetorical force of Micah’s
words” (Israel and Fettke 2003, 725). “Micah makes a pun or play on words out
of the name of each town as he describes the effects the disaster will have on it.
This serves to reinforce the thought that each town deserves the punishment it
will receive and that it is appropriate to the transgression” (Finley 1996, 126).
Such puns occur in Micah 1:6, 10–15.
Like other prophets, Micah prophesied God’s judgment with vivid imagery.
For instance, when God pronounced judgment on Samaria (1:6–7), He indicated
that the “wealth gained through illicit spiritual prostitution by Israel would be
used by pagans for physical prostitution” (Dyer and Merrill 2001, 783).
In Micah 2, God’s promise of judgment on the greedy and corrupt false
prophets came through His true prophet Micah. The contrast between Micah
and corrupt civil and spiritual leadership continued in Micah 3, where God
again detailed His judgment on the ungodly leaders and prophets. Yet, in the
midst of condemning evil practices, the Lord promised ultimate deliverance of
the remnant of His people (2:12–13). Micah 4–5 then emphasized the coming
restoration of Judah, including release from captivity, deliverance from their
enemies, and restoration of positive leadership.

The Case against Israel and Future Hope (Micah 6–7)


In Hosea, God brought charges against His people much like in a court of
law. Likewise, Micah 6 incorporates courtroom imagery as God again detailed
His case against Israel. Then, in Micah 7, the word of the Lord emphasized
Israel’s judgment and future restoration. In these last two chapters, Micah grieved
over Israel’s sin, expressed hope for a future deliverance, and prayed for God’s
intervention (Dyer and Merrill 2001, 783–794).
11 What theological tension These chapters, as well as the rest of Micah, highlight the theological tension
is apparent in Micah? between God’s judgment and God’s mercy and grace. Some individuals have
the wrong impression that God is a God of judgment in the Old Testament and a
God of mercy and grace in the New Testament. However, if God is God, and if
His characteristics or attributes do not change, then God has been a God of both
judgment and mercy throughout the ages, including both testaments. Numerous
references indicate the judgment and grace of God in both testaments. Arnold and
Beyer describe this tension in the book of Micah:
Micah’s message also contained encouraging words for the future of God’s
people (4:1–5:15). Micah spoke of God’s ultimate kingdom, when Jerusalem
would serve as a channel of blessing for the world. The world would experience
peace under God’s rule, and people would walk with him (4:1–8). Futhermore,
God’s ultimate King would be born in Bethlehem, a relatively minor city. God
had planned for this king’s coming since ancient times (5:2). Micah proclaimed
these prophecies to motivate his hearers to godly living in their own generation
Judah’s Early Prophets (Joel, Isaiah, Micah) 175

(4:9–13). Jesus Christ fulfilled God’s word through Micah (Mt 2:4–6;
Lk 2:1–7). Jesus accomplished spiritual salvation during his first coming, and
one day, he will return to reign over all as King of kings. . . . Unfortunately,
as God looked at Micah’s generation, he saw few such lives. Instead, he saw
crooked business practices, violence, and deceit (6:11–12). The people followed
the ways of Omri and Ahab, two evil kings from Israel’s past (6:16). God
warned His people: He would not allow these sins to continue! (1999, 455)
A well-known key verse from Micah summarizes his message: “He has
showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To
act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (6:8). That is,
believers should exhibit humility and treat others—believers and unbelievers
alike—with social justice. God’s children should also love mercy, to the extent
of acknowledging that if not for the grace of God, they would be under the
judgment of God as well.
176 Old Testament Survey

T Test Yourself
Circle the letter of the best answer.
11
CHAPTER

1. Joel means 6. Isaiah uses which word more than all the other
a) “burden-bearer.” Old Testament prophets combined?
b) “the Lord is God.” a) Judgment
c) “the Lord is holy.” b) Servant
d) “Jehovah saves.” c) Salvation
d) Restoration
2. A prominent theme in the book of Joel is
a) the Day of the Lord. 7. Isaiah 7:14; 9:6–7 prophesy about the Messiah’s
b) the coming Messiah. a) incarnation.
c) God’s faithfulness. b) message.
d) God’s holiness. c) mission.
d) second coming.
3. What kind of restoration does the prophet Joel
refer to? 8. The “song” about the Suffering Servant is found
a) Physical in Isaiah
b) Spiritual a) 42:1–4.
c) Emotional b) 49:1–6.
d) Physical and spiritual c) 52:13–53:12.
d) 61:1–3.
4. A major argument against multiple authorship of
the book of Isaiah involves 9. Micah prophesied during the reigns of
a) Jewish tradition. a) Uzziah, Ahaz, and Hezekiah.
b) Jesus’ and the apostles’ indication of one author. b) Uzziah, Jotham, and Ahaz.
c) the book’s continuity of flow and theme. c) Uzziah, Jotham, and Hezekiah.
d) its unified tone and writing style. d) Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah.
5. Isaiah prophesied during the reigns of 10. In Micah 6:8, the prophet summarizes his
a) Pekah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. message about
b) Ahab, Pekah, Uzziah, and Hezekiah. a) law versus grace.
c) Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. b) mercy and judgment or justice.
d) Uzziah, Pekah, Ahaz, and Jeroboam. c) complete restoration for Israel.
d) responsibilities that come with privileges.
Judah’s Early Prophets (Joel, Isaiah, Micah) 177

Responses to Interactive Questions


Chapter 11
Some of these responses may include information that is supplemental to the IST. These questions are intended
to produce reflective thinking beyond the course content and your responses may vary from these examples.
1 Why did Joel write his book?
(a) To explain why locusts and famine had come to Judah, (b) to warn of a great army that was to march on
Judah from the north, (c) to call Judah to repent, and (d) to prophesy about the future Day of the Lord
2 What did the locusts in the book of Joel represent?
The locusts and their devastation of the land represented another army that would march on Judah from the
north and destroy the land.
3 Why did Peter quote Joel on the Day of Pentecost?
Peter explained the phenomenon of the Holy Spirit coming on the believers in the upper room as a fulfillment
of Joel 2:28–32.
4 Who does this course advocate as the author of Isaiah, and why?
The entire book was authored by Isaiah, son of Amoz. Internal biblical evidence, including quotes from Jesus
and the apostles, appears to support the unified authorship viewpoint.
5 Read Isaiah 6:1–8, and describe Isaiah’s call.
Isaiah had a vision of the Lord seated on a throne, with seraphs flying around Him and worshipping Him. One of
the seraphs cleansed Isaiah’s lips with a coal, and Isaiah obediently answered God’s call to serve Him.
6 Why did Isaiah write his book?
(a) To warn Judah and other nations that God’s judgment was coming on their sins, (b) to prophesy that a group
of Jews would return after the captivity and would be a light to the nations, and (c) to prophesy that God would
send the Messiah to be the Savior of all nations
7 What does the name Isaiah mean, and how does it relate to one of the book’s major themes?
Isaiah means “the Lord is salvation.” The prophet uses the term salvation three times as much as all the other
Old Testament prophets combined. Isaiah has been called the evangelical prophet, and his book is referred to as
“the Gospel of the Old Testament.”
8 Identify at least six of Isaiah’s prophecies about the Messiah.
Any six of the following: Isaiah foretells the Messiah’s incarnation and deity, youth, message and anointing,
mission, second coming, miracles, obedience, suffering, ascension, shame, rejection, and atoning death.
9 During the reigns of what three kings did Micah minister?
Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah (of Judah)
10 What were Micah’s themes?
His message centered on social injustice, true worship, false security, and judgment. Yet he also emphasized
mercy and deliverance.
11 What theological tension is apparent in Micah?
The tension between God’s judgment and God’s mercy and grace
178 Old Testament Survey

UNIT PROGRESS EVALUATION 4


Now that you have finished Unit 4, review the lessons in preparation for Unit Progress Evaluation 4.
You will find it in Essential Course Materials at the back of this IST. Answer all of the questions without
referring to your course materials, Bible, or notes. When you have completed the UPE, check your answers
with the answer key provided in Essential Course Materials. Review any items you may have answered
incorrectly. Then you may proceed with your study of Unit 5. (Although UPE scores do not count as part of
your final course grade, they indicate how well you learned the material and how well you may perform on
the final examination.)
5
The Later Prophets
UNIT Studying the books of prophecy in relation to their historical time period helps
us develop a historical overview and understand God’s overarching purposes in
the different eras. It also helps us coordinate the various prophets with not only
the kings who ruled at the time but also the circumstances that sparked some of
the prophecies.
In the previous unit, we considered the prophets who ministered in the
divided kingdom until and immediately following Israel’s captivity. Now, we
turn our attention to those who prophesied before, during, and after the time of
Judah’s exile:

Babylonian Kingdom Persian Kingdom

Pre-exile Prophets: Prophets in Exile: Post-exile Prophets:


Nahum, Zephaniah, Ezekiel and Haggai, Zechariah,
Habakkuk, Obadiah, Daniel and Malachi
and Jeremiah

Chapter 12 Chapter 13 Chapter 14

Chapter 12 The Preexilic Prophets (Nahum, Habakkuk,


Zephaniah, Obadiah, Jeremiah)
Lessons
12.1 Nahum: The Prophet of Nineveh’s Fall
12.2 Habakkuk: The Prophet of Faith
12.3 Zephaniah: The Prophet of the Day of the Lord
12.4 Obadiah: The Prophet against Edom
12.5 Jeremiah and His Lamentations: The Prophet of Weeping

Chapter 13 The Exilic Prophets (Ezekiel, Daniel)


Lessons
13.1 Ezekiel: The Prophet of Dramatic Acting
13.2 Daniel: The Prophet of Divine Sovereignty

Chapter 14 The Postexilic Prophets (Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi)


Lessons
14.1 Haggai: The Prophet of Rebuilding the Temple
14.2 Zechariah: The Prophet of Visionary Encouragement
14.3 Malachi: The Prophet of Giving One’s Best

Chapter 15 The Connection (The Old and New Testaments)


Lessons
15.1 The Discontinuity
15.2 The Continuity
15.3 The Relevance
12
180 Old Testament Survey

The Preexilic Prophets


CHAPTER (Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah,
Obadiah, Jeremiah)
Following Josiah’s godly rule, the spiritual condition of Judah declined yet
again. God continually reminded the people of the coming judgment through
righteous prophets, but the people refused to listen. The prophetic books believed
to have been authored during this time leading up to the Exile are Nahum,
Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Obadiah, Jeremiah, and Lamentations.

Lesson 12.1 Nahum: The Prophet of Nineveh’s Fall


Objective
12.1.1 summarize what nahum says about the reasons for God’s judgment of
nineveh.

Lesson 12.2 Habakkuk: The Prophet of Faith


Objectives
12.2.1 summarize habakkuk’s two questions and God’s answers.
12.2.2 analyze habakkuk’s prayer and song of faith.

Lesson 12.3 Zephaniah: The Prophet of the Day of the Lord


Objective
12.3.1 explain what Zephaniah teaches about the day of the Lord.

Lesson 12.4 Obadiah: The Prophet against Edom


Objective
12.4.1 explain the background of the book of obadiah and the reason for
coming judgment.

Lesson 12.5 Jeremiah and His Lamentations: The Prophet of


Weeping
Objectives
12.5.1 summarize Jeremiah’s call, ministry, and message before and after
Jerusalem fell.
12.5.2 Describe the five funeral poems in Lamentations.
The Preexilic Prophets (Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Obadiah, Jeremiah) 181

12.1
Nahum: The Prophet of Nineveh’s Fall
LESSON Author and Date
It is generally agreed that the prophet Nahum wrote his book, although little is
known about him. Nahum 1:1 indicates that he was from Elkosh, but its location
is undetermined. Nahum was most likely from Judah, since Israel had been
12.1.1
OBJECTIVE conquered when he wrote.
summarize what nahum The date of authorship appears to be around 630–620 BC. “We can date
says about the reasons for Nahum’s prophecy because of his allusions to datable events. Nahum mentions
God’s judgment of nineveh. the fall of Thebes (3:8), an event that occurred in 663 BC. The prophet also
speaks of Nineveh’s fall, which took place in 612, as something yet future.
Consequently, we may date Nahum’s prophetic ministry between 663 BC and
612 BC” (Arnold and Beyer 1999, 456). Thus, Nahum ministered during the
revival that occurred in King Josiah’s reign.

Background
Nahum prophesied against Nineveh, the capital city of the Assyrian Kingdom.
Nineveh “boasted a large wall eight miles in circumference. It utilized a water
system employing an aqueduct. Archaeologists have unearthed a royal library
containing twenty thousand clay tablets” (Brubaker 2003b, 764). Yet the
Assyrians had a reputation for cruelty and oppression to people they conquered.
“The Assyrians’ ruthless political policies led other nations to fear them” (Arnold
and Beyer 1999, 457). After capturing a city, they slaughtered hundreds of
people and scattered the others to faraway cities. Many of these captives died
on the journey because of harsh treatment (Nahum 3:3). The Assyrians tortured
the leaders of conquered nations and then murdered them. As Nahum 3:19 asks,
“Who has not felt your endless cruelty?”
More than one hundred years earlier, Jonah had prophesied against
Nineveh, and the people of Nineveh had repented. Yet sometime later, the
people returned to their oppressive ways. God used these cruel Assyrians to
punish Israel. They conquered the Northern Kingdom in 722 BC and destroyed
Samaria, the capital of Israel.
In the eighth century BC, the prophet Jonah went to the city of Nineveh
to proclaim a judgment oracle against her. The Ninevites responded with
repentance, and God spared them. More than a century later, Nahum also
declared the judgment of God upon the wicked city of Nineveh. This time
there was no fasting or sackcloth, and Nineveh was not spared. (Hill and
Walton 2000, 509)

Purpose and Theme


1 What was Nahum’s Thus, Nahum prophesied judgment and destruction for Nineveh but comfort
message? and compassion for Judah. Since the majority of Nahum’s three chapters
describes Nineveh’s doom, this is the primary theme of the book.

Outline
I. The Judge of Nineveh, 1
A. God’s wrath and goodness (1:1–7)
B. Nineveh’s judgment (1:8–11, 14)
C. Judah’s comfort (1:12–13, 15)
182 Old Testament Survey

II. The Fall of Nineveh, 2


A. Nineveh attacked and destroyed (2:1–12)
B. The voice of the Lord (2:13)
III. The Reasons for and Certainty of Nineveh’s Fall, 3

The Judge of Nineveh (Nahum 1)


Nahum is a poetic book with many word pictures, literary devices such as
contrast, and figures of speech. His metaphors and similes involve doves, fig
trees, lions, and prostitutes. He also employs hymns, battle reports, taunts, woe
speeches, and insults (Arnold and Beyer 1999, 457).
Nahum’s first word picture is an incredible description of the omnipotence
of God. God’s all-powerful nature is seen in both the exercise of His wrath and
vengeance and the fact that He “is slow to anger” (1:3). The prophecy therefore
contrasts God’s wrath with His goodness. Although God will judge Nineveh, He
will show kindness to Judah. Similar to Isaiah 52:7, Nahum 1:15 announces good
news on the mountain: Assyria would no longer attack Judah’s cities, and God
would provide refuge for the nation of Judah. “Nahum 1:9–2:2 contains three
cycles in which Nahum alternates between describing vengeance on Nineveh and
compassion towards Judah” (Arnold and Beyer 1999, 457).

The Fall of Nineveh (Nahum 2–3)


Nahum 2:3–13 then describes the siege and destruction of Nineveh, and
Nahum 3 explains why Nineveh deserved God’s judgment. The reasons included
“her promiscuity (3:1–7), her cruelties (3:8–11), and her false security (3:12–19)”
(Dyer and Merrill 2001, 800).
2 What does Nahum Amidst the turmoil of our present world, the message of Nahum teaches
remind us about God? us that true security is found in God, not in governments or circumstances. In
addition, while God is merciful and gracious and slow to anger, He does not
tolerate wickedness forever. “In a day when grace rather than the wrath of God is
more palatable to our moral tastes, Nahum comes as a tart reminder: God never
overlooks wickedness” (Brubaker 2003b, 766).

12.2
Habakkuk: The Prophet of Faith
LESSON Author and Date
Habakkuk 1:1 and 3:1 indicate that the author of this book was likely
“Habakkuk the prophet.” As with Nahum, information about the person of
Habbakuk is not abundant.
12.2.1
OBJECTIVE Concerning date of authorship, although Habakkuk does not refer to a
summarize habakkuk’s king, “most scholars place the beginning of his ministry before 605 BC, when
two questions and God’s Babylon, under Nebuchadnezzar, became a dominant world power (1:5).
answers. Habakkuk’s words against Babylon (2:5–20) imply that Babylon had already
become a strong nation. Probably Habakkuk’s ministry began before 605 but
continued until shortly before Jerusalem’s fall in 587” (Arnold and Beyer 1999,
458). As a result, a significant number of scholars think Habakkuk wrote his book
sometime between 625 and 605 BC.
The Preexilic Prophets (Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Obadiah, Jeremiah) 183

3 Describe the three Setting


Babylonian invasions of Judah.
At that particular time, Babylon was rising in power. Nahum’s prophecy was
fulfilled when the Babylonians and Medes conquered Nineveh, the Assyrian
capital, in 612 BC. Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, then defeated Egypt at
the battle of Carchemish in 605 BC. Afterward, Nebuchadnezzar marched south
and invaded the nation of Judah. To review, this was the first of three Babylonian
invasions of Judah:
1. 605 BC: Nebuchadnezzar took Daniel and other individuals as captives to
Babylon (Daniel 1:1–7).
2. 597 BC: Nebuchadnezzar took about ten thousand people, including
Ezekiel, into captivity in Babylon (2 Kings 24:14).
3. 587 BC: Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem and the temple and took
numerous captives (2 Kings 25:11–21).

Purpose and Themes


Habakkuk’s main message was not to warn the sinful, but to encourage the
faithful Jews. He emphasized two great themes: (1) God will judge all sinners in
His time, and (2) the righteous will live by faith.

Outline
I. Habakkuk’s Questions and God’s Answers, 1–2
A. Question 1: How can God allow wicked Judah not to be punished?
(1:2–4)
B. Answer 1: God will use the Babylonians to punish Judah (1:5–11)
C. Question 2: How can God use a more wicked nation to punish
Judah? (1:12–2:1)
D. Answer 2: God will judge Babylon later (2:2–20)
II. Habakkuk’s Prayer and Song of Faith, 3
A. Prayer: In wrath, remember mercy (3:1–2)
B. The power of the Lord (3:3–7)
C. The saving acts of the Lord (3:8–15)
D. Habakkuk’s steadfast faith in God (3:16–19)

Questions and Answers (Habakkuk 1–2)


4 What were Habakkuk’s Judah’s wickedness had increased to the point where Habakkuk could not
two questions and God’s endure any more. The prophet cried out to God with the agonizing question,
responses? “How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen?” (1:2). In other
words, how could God allow wicked Judah to remain unpunished (1:2–4)?
God responded by asserting that He would use the Babylonians to punish
Judah (1:5–11).
To Habakkuk, this raised a theological dilemma: How could God use a more
wicked nation to punish Judah (1:12–2:1)? Again, God’s response emphasized
His sovereignty: He would judge Babylon later, at His appointed time (2:2–20).
He declared that His sovereign purposes would be accomplished.
Within God’s second response is the well-known statement, “But the
righteous will live by his faith” (2:4), which is quoted three times in the New
Testament: Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; and Hebrews 10:37–38. While we must
184 Old Testament Survey

remember to interpret Habakkuk in the context of its original audience, the New
Testament references affirm that our righteousness comes through faith in Jesus
Christ. The truth of Habakkuk 2:4, along with other New Testament texts, played
a key role in the Protestant Reformation, for it led Martin Luther to embrace the
biblical doctrine of grace, or justification by faith alone (Boice 1996, 90).

Prayer and Song of Faith (Habakkuk 3)


In the wake of God’s response to his questions, Habakkuk declared, “I stand
12.2.2
OBJECTIVE in awe of your deeds, O Lord” (3:2). His prayer and song of faith describe God
analyze habakkuk’s with poetic imagery (3:3–15):
prayer and song of faith. • His splendor was as beautiful as the dawn; His power flashed from His
hand like rays of light.
5 With what images did
• He rode in a chariot, churning the waters, and His horses trampled the sea.
Habakkuk describe God?
• The Almighty shot many arrows and split the earth with rivers.
• Lightning was His flashing spear as He went through the earth in anger to
deliver His people.
Habakkuk then closed his prayer with one of the greatest statements of faith
in the Bible (3:16–19). “The book’s conclusion affirms trust in God against all
indications to the contrary” (Brubaker 2003b, 779).
6 What three truths From Habakkuk’s honesty come three crucial applications for the believer today:
concerning believers and doubt 1. Believers do experience doubt. Doubt is not a sign of a lack of faith.
can we learn from Habakkuk?
2. Believers must place their trust in the providential hands of God.
3. Believers can and should continue to praise God in spite of any lingering
questions or doubts.
Brubaker notes, “Throughout biblical and church history the most deeply
spiritual believers have sometimes had the most troubling questions (e.g., Martin
Luther). It is not wrong to ask God, ‘Why?’ If the prophet Habakkuk inquired as
to why, the believer today may also inquire of God as to why without sinning or
violating biblical principles” (2003b, 780–781).

12.3
Zephaniah: The Prophet of the Day of the Lord
LESSON Author, Date, and Setting
The prophet Zephaniah, whose name means “the Lord hides,” wrote
the book that bears his name. Zephaniah states that he was a great-great-
12.3.1
OBJECTIVE
grandson of Hezekiah (1:1). While some scholars disagree, quite a few
conservative scholars believe this refers to King Hezekiah of Judah. Some
explain what Zephaniah note that Zephaniah “was possibly a member of the royal household” (Hill and
teaches about the day of Walton 2000, 521) and that “his unusual genealogy mentions four ancestors”
the Lord. (Brubaker 2003b, 766). According to Zephaniah 1:1, he prophesied during
7 What was Zephaniah’s
the reign of one of his relatives, King Josiah (640–609 BC), who was the last
personal background? godly king of Judah.
Zephaniah probably wrote his book around 630 BC, in the same general
time period in which Jeremiah, Habakkuk, and Nahum ministered. The corrupt
influence of kings Manasseh and Amon, who ruled prior to Josiah, continued for
The Preexilic Prophets (Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Obadiah, Jeremiah) 185

many years. Whereas Zephaniah denounced Judah’s sins (1:4–13; 3:1–7), Nahum
did not mention them at all, indicating that Nahum prophesied after King Josiah
led the nation to repent. Because of this, many scholars believe that Zephaniah
ministered a few years before Nahum. “In the eighteenth year of Josiah’s reign,
the Book of the Law was discovered in the temple, and this discovery ignited
a period of sweeping spiritual revival in Judah (2 Kings 22:3–23:7). In light of
this, many propose that Zephaniah prophesied early in Josiah’s reign before the
revival occurred” (Arnold and Beyer 1999, 459).

Purpose and Theme


8 What were Zephaniah’s Zephaniah sounded an alarm to Judah and the surrounding nations, warning
three purposes in writing his them to wake up from their spiritual sleep and repent. If they failed to repent,
book? immediate judgment would fall on them. In addition, Zephaniah warned of
a future judgment that would occur at the very end of time, which scholars
9 What does Zephaniah sometimes call the eschaton. On that specific “Day of the Lord,” God would
write about the Day of the finally judge all nations for their immorality, injustice, and cruelties. Yet
Lord?
Zephaniah held out hope by promising the Jews that a time would come when
God would restore His people once and for all. Thus, the Day of the Lord was
Zephaniah’s theme.

Outline
I. The Day of the Lord Will Bring Judgment to Some, 1:1–3:8
A. God will judge the whole earth (1:2–3)
B. God will judge Judah (1:4–13)
C. The great Day of the Lord will come (1:14–18)
D. God calls all to repent (2:1–3)
E. God will judge the nations (2:4–15)
F. God will judge Jerusalem (3:1–7)
G. God will judge the whole earth (3:8)
II. The Day of the Lord Will Bring Salvation to Some, 3:9–20
A. A remnant will be restored and purified (3:9–13)
B. The people will rejoice with God in their midst (3:14–17)
C. God promises to restore His people (3:18–20)

Judgment (Zephaniah 1:1–3:8)


The book of Zephaniah opens with a clear reference to the eschatological Day
of the Lord when God “will sweep away everything from the face of the earth”
(1:2). The language of this passage, reminiscent of the universal flood of Noah’s
time, is reflected twice more in Zephaniah: in 1:14–18 and 3:6–8 (Brubaker
2003b, 767–768).
Zephaniah declared that Judah and all the surrounding nations would face
judgment. “Zephaniah 2:14–15 is a miniature collection of oracles against these
nations . . . . All the lands to the north (Assyria), south (Cush), east (Moab and
Ammon), and west (Philistia) would come under God’s wrath. God’s wrath
would also come upon his own people” (Brubaker 2003b, 768). The nation of
Judah faced judgment because they were involved in idolatry, syncretism, and
corrupt practices in civil and religious leadership. The people insisted on carrying
186 Old Testament Survey

out their hearts’ desires in these areas and apparently had little or no interest in
worshipping the one true God who had delivered them in the past.

Salvation (Zephaniah 3:9–20)


10 What positive message In spite of the dominant tone of judgment in the first part of Zephaniah, a
of hope appears at the end of positive message of hope emerges at the end of this short book. This seems to be
Zephaniah? God’s pattern in several of the prophetic books. As Zephaniah proclaimed,
The day of God’s judgment would also bring God’s healing and restoration.
The Lord would purify the lips of his people so they might serve him faithfully.
He would remove the proud, exalt the humble, and give his people security in
the midst of their land. Such blessings would normally cause God’s people to
rejoice over him, but Zephaniah affirmed that God would rejoice over them!
(Arnold and Beyer 1999, 460–461)
“The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight
in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing”
(Zephaniah 3:17). What an amazing conclusion! And what a great promise for
believers today: God rejoices over us!

12.4
Obadiah: The Prophet against Edom
LESSON Author, Date, and Setting
A prophet named Obadiah wrote the book of the same name (Obadiah 1:1).
However, Obadiah was a common name; scholars indicate that at least twelve
people in the Old Testament were called Obadiah. The biblical text provides few
12.4.1
OBJECTIVE clues as to which of these persons wrote this book. Therefore, the exact author
explain the background of remains uncertain.
the book of obadiah and the Because the book is so short—only one chapter—the internal evidence for the
reason for coming judgment. date of the book and the historical setting is minimal at best. Although as many
as five dates have been proposed for its authorship, the majority of scholars focus
on two possible dates: 848–841 BC or 587–586 BC. Those who propose the
earlier date of Obadiah’s writing discount the 587–586 BC date because all other
prophets who refer to Jerusalem’s final destruction call Nebuchadnezzar by name
or mention Babylon. Such scholars claim that since Obadiah does not mention
these specifics, he must have written his book in regard to a different attack on
Jerusalem. They believe Obadiah referred to the Philistines’ and Arabs’ invasion
of Jerusalem during King Jehoram’s rule (2 Chronicles 21:16–17).
However, this is a rather weak perspective because it is an argument from
silence (based on something the biblical text does not say)—a risky way to
interpret Scripture. As a result, the majority of conservative scholarship holds to a
date of 587–586 BC that coincides with the destruction of Jerusalem. Despite the
brevity of Obadiah, its internal evidence seems to support this date:
The majority view . . . considers the book to be a response to the 587–586 BC.
attack by Babylon and its allies such as Edom. If the majority view is correct,
Obadiah’s prophecy was a divine word of retribution for Edom. This nation
took particular delight in Judah’s humiliation. Following the fall of Jerusalem, it
made raids on the Judean people. (Brubaker 2003b, 781)
The Preexilic Prophets (Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Obadiah, Jeremiah) 187

Background, Purpose, and Theme


Located southeast of the Dead Sea, the country of Edom had its roots
in both the conflict and the peaceful settlement between Jacob and Esau
(Genesis 25:21–23; 32–33; 36). Although Jacob and Esau made peace, the
hatred continued between their descendants, resulting in numerous wars
between the Israelites and Edomites (Numbers 20:14–21; 1 Samuel 14:47;
2 Samuel 8:14; 1 Kings 11:14–22). “Biblical history is stained with blood shed
between Israel and Edom” (Brubaker 2003b, 782). As a result of this and other
factors, Edom is the Gentile nation that the Old Testament prophets address
most frequently (Brubaker 2003b, 782).
11 What is the three-part Obadiah’s prophecy spoke to the nation of Edom with a three-part purpose:
purpose for the book of 1. To reveal God’s anger that Edom rejoiced at Judah’s suffering
Obadiah?
2. To announce God’s coming judgment on Edom (which is Obadiah’s theme)
3. To announce Israel’s deliverance in a coming Day of the Lord (Stamps
1992, 1323)

Outline
I. Judgment on Edom, 1–14
A. God’s promise to completely destroy Edom (1–9)
B. The reason for Edom’s destruction (10–14)
II. The Day of the Lord, 15–21
A. Judgment on Edom and other nations (15–16)
B. Salvation for Israel (17–21)

Judgment on Edom (Obadiah 1–14)


12 According to Obadiah, The Edomites took pride in their location in the rugged mountains because
why was God going to judge it was easy to defend. Also, a major trade route went through the nation and
Edom? contributed greatly to Edom’s incredible wealth (Obadiah 5). Successful protection
from their enemies and increasing wealth caused the Edomites to become arrogant.
Therefore, through Obadiah, God warned them of impending judgment on their
nation. While Edom possessed many friendly political alliances with other nations
(v. 7), God would destroy these when His judgment rained upon them.

The Day of the Lord (Obadiah 15–21)


Then Obadiah prophesied about the Day of the Lord (v. 15). He indicated that
God would bring further judgment to the nation of Edom, although some would
be saved. Edom’s taking pleasure and gloating in Judah’s humiliation angered
God. Thus, God would treat Edom in the same way by bringing judgment on
their nation.
Obadiah concluded his prophecy much like other biblical prophets had,
declaring God’s ultimate triumph over all of His enemies (Brubaker 2003b, 783).
He proclaimed, “And the kingdom will be the Lord’s” (v. 21).
188 Old Testament Survey

12.5
Jeremiah and His Lamentations:
The Prophet of Weeping
LESSON
Authorship and Date
The prophet Jeremiah wrote his book (1:1) because of a divine mandate. In
12.5.1 Jeremiah 36:1–4, God told the prophet to write on a scroll all the words God
OBJECTIVE had spoken to him concerning the nations in his twenty years of prophesying.
summarize Jeremiah’s Scholars believe this occurred sometime around 605 BC. Jeremiah obeyed
call, ministry, and God’s command by dictating the words to Baruch. Although King Jehoiakim
message before and after burned the first scroll, God instructed Jeremiah and Baruch to make a second one
Jerusalem fell. (36:27–32). Baruch faithfully served as an administrative assistant and likely put
Jeremiah’s book in its final form shortly after Jeremiah died (585–580 BC).

Jeremiah’s Ministry
The son of a priest, Jeremiah was born and reared in the village of Anathoth,
4 miles (6.5 km) northeast of Jerusalem. “More is known about this ancient
preacher than any other prophet of God: his birthplace, call, time references,
friends, enemies. Specific settings for some messages are clearly understood”
(Brubaker 2003b, 769).
When God called him to prophesy (1:4–5), Jeremiah tried to claim that he
was too young and did not know how to speak for God. But the Lord touched
Jeremiah’s mouth and assured Jeremiah of His presence, saying, “I have put
my words in your mouth” (1:9). Jeremiah then prophesied to Judah during the
last forty years of the nation’s existence (626–586 BC). That is, he was the last
prophet to the nation of Judah before the kingdom fell. Jeremiah personally
witnessed three different Babylonian invasions of Judah and Jerusalem. He saw
soldiers tear down the city walls and destroy the temple, kill numerous Jews, and
carry many others to Babylon.
13 What did God specifically Throughout his book, Jeremiah showed unusual vulnerability in detailing his
instruct Jeremiah not to do? life and ministry. He revealed his struggles with God’s call, with the formidable
opposition to his ministry, and with the unique commands God gave him. For
instance, God directed Jeremiah not to attend weddings or funerals (16:5–9).
Immediately before these instructions, God had commanded Jeremiah himself not
to marry or have children (16:1–4). The context of this passage seems to suggest
that God called Jeremiah to celibacy because of the coming judgment of Judah and
the uncertainty of the historical and political times (Brubaker 2003b, 770).
14 What was Jeremiah often Jeremiah’s life was lonely and full of sorrow. He was often called the Weeping
called, and why? Prophet because of his many tears and his tender heart (9:1). Still, the Lord’s
promise to be with him and strengthen him (1:8; 15:20) enabled Jeremiah to be
bold and brave and to carry out his call and commission from the Lord (1:4–10).
However, Jeremiah’s faithful warnings of impending judgment alienated
him from the people he loved and caused them to become antagonistic. He was
beaten (20:1–2; 37:15), lowered into a well where he sank into the mud (38:1–6),
and jailed twice (20:2; 37:15–16). After Jerusalem fell, Jewish insurgents forced
Jeremiah to flee with them to Egypt against God’s clear mandate not to go there
(42–43:7). In Egypt, Jeremiah continued to prophesy, and Jewish tradition
contends that he was stoned to death.
The Preexilic Prophets (Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Obadiah, Jeremiah) 189

Purposes and Themes


15 What themes occur Jeremiah’s recurring themes include God’s sovereignty and control in all
frequently in Jeremiah? circumstances, the sinfulness of human nature, and the human tendency to
rebel. In addition, the prophet emphasized that, although judgment for sin was
inevitable, God promised not to abandon His people because of His mercy and
grace (Brubaker 2003b, 774).

Outline of Jeremiah
Scholars have outlined the book of Jeremiah in various ways. One such
outline is given below. Note that the organization of chapters in the book of
Jeremiah is not chronological.
I. Jeremiah’s Call and Commission, 1
II. Jeremiah’s Prophecies to Judah, 2–33
A. Prophecies about judgment (2–29)
B. Prophecies about restoration (30–33)
III. Jeremiah’s Role as Watchman, 34–45
A. Prophecy to Zedekiah about captivity (34)
B. The lesson of the Recabites (35)
C. Burning of Jeremiah’s scroll and his imprisonment (36–38)
D. Fulfillment of prophecies concerning Jerusalem’s fall (39)
E. Jeremiah’s ministry after the fall of Jerusalem (40–45)
IV. Jeremiah’s Prophecies to the Nations, 46–51
V. Historical Appendix on Jerusalem’s Fall, 52

Highlights of the Content


Instead of following the positive influences of long-ago generations, Jeremiah’s
generation followed the negative influences of their ancestors. “They had committed
two great evils (2:13). First, they had turned away from God, the source of all they
had, ‘the spring of living water.’ Second, they had substituted idol worship for their
relationship with God. Jeremiah compared their idols to broken cisterns that could
hold no water” (Arnold and Beyer 1999, 385). The broken cistern imagery was only
one of the many symbols God used to convey His messages through Jeremiah; others
included a belt, a yoke, the potter and the clay, and two baskets of figs.
Jeremiah castigated the people not only for worshipping idols but also for
performing this worship in the temple designed for the one true God. To make
matters worse, the people were sacrificing their own children to these false gods.
Eventually, God instructed Jeremiah not to pray for the people anymore because
He would not listen to their cries of distress (11:14).
Jeremiah then engaged in intense wrestling with both God and the people.
Arnold and Beyer describe the rest of the book as follows (1999, 384–402):
190 Old Testament Survey

Chapters Topic
11–20 Jeremiah’s confessions; that is, his dialogues with God

21–29 Jeremiah’s confrontations and rebuke of civil and religious leaders,


including false prophets and the people in general

30–33 The book of comfort or consolation, emphasizing Israel’s return to God


and the land and God’s awesome future actions or works

34–39 The spiritual atrocities of leadership

40–45 Jerusalem after the fall

46–51 Oracles concerning Egypt and other nations

52 Conclusion, reiterating the issue of Jerusalem’s fall

Thus, wedged between prophecies of judgment and the consequences of


Jerusalem’s fall is a message of consolation and restoration. As part of this, the
Lord promised to make a new covenant with Israel. This one would be a lasting
covenant written on their hearts and minds (31:31–34).

Implications
A key theological question that the book of Jeremiah raises is this: Does
God’s consistent judgment of the nations in the Old Testament specifically apply
to individual believers today? Noted scholars Andrew Hill and John Walton
provide helpful comments on this particular issue:
This system is operative for nations, not individuals, so it should not be
confused with salvation by works. This scale of deeds is never conveyed as the
way that God deals with individuals, and the differences must be noted. Nations
are not “saved” from sin, nor do they exist eternally. Nations are therefore
treated solely on physical and temporal terms, so the system can in no way be
equated to the eternal destiny of individuals. Grace does exist in the system as
evidenced by the longsuffering character of God, and it continues to manifest
his grace, because there is nothing in Scripture to suggest that God has changed
his policy for dealing with nations. (2000, 430–431)
Like other prophets, Jeremiah affirmed God’s judgment as well as His mercy
and grace. Entreating the people to repent, Jeremiah often wept because of his
love for God and for the people God sent him to. Prophesying harsh words of
judgment was not something Jeremiah would have chosen for himself, but God
chose him. Jeremiah obeyed God’s call and spoke what God told him to convey,
both negative and positive.

12.5.2 Lamentations: Author, Date, and Setting


OBJECTIVE
Describe the five funeral Lamentations is a book of laments or poems conveying deep sadness that are
poems in Lamentations. often read at funerals. Scholarship is divided over whether or not Jeremiah wrote
this book. Those who do not accept Jeremiah’s authorship indicate apparent
differences in the writing styles of the books of Jeremiah and Lamentations. They
also point out that Lamentations does not specifically name the author.
16 What evidence indicates However, many conservative scholars do believe that Jeremiah is the writer
that Jeremiah wrote and note that the books of Jeremiah and Lamentations have very similar themes.
Lamentations? According to 2 Chronicles 35:25, Jeremiah wrote laments to commemorate King
Josiah, so he was familiar with the genre. Moreover, both the Septuagint and
The Preexilic Prophets (Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Obadiah, Jeremiah) 191

Jewish tradition attribute authorship of Lamentations to Jeremiah (Arnold and


Beyer 1999, 402–403).
17 What is the message Thus, because the five laments express grief over the destruction of Judah
of the five poems in and Jerusalem, it is believed that Jeremiah wrote them shortly after the fall of
Lamentations? Jerusalem in 586 BC. “The book reflects the heartache of someone who still
anguished over the vivid scenes surrounding Jerusalem’s fall” (Arnold and Beyer
1999, 403). The five poems describe the horrendous things Jeremiah witnessed,
including intolerable cruelty by the Babylonian army, who murdered many
people and burned the city and the temple. The poetic songs of sorrow point to
sin as the cause of this judgment but also take comfort in God’s faithfulness and
mercy. The author knew that God could restore Judah.

Series of Acrostics
The laments in Lamentations 1–4 are acrostic poems. An acrostic poem
in Hebrew uses sequential letters of the 22-letter Hebrew alphabet in some
fashion, most often to begin each verse or stanza. For example, Lamentations 1:1
begins with aleph, the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and Lamentations 1:2
begins with beth, the second letter. The author continues to use each letter of
the alphabet to begin a verse so that 1:22 begins with taw, the last letter of the
Hebrew alphabet. Lamentations 2 and 4 follow the same type of pattern. In the
sixty-six verses of Lamentations 3, the first three verses begin with aleph, the
next three verses begin with beth, and so on.

Outline of Lamentations
The organization of the book of Lamentations coincides with each chapter. That
is, although chapter divisions were not added until centuries after the Scriptures
were written, each chapter of this book comprises an individual lament:
I. Jerusalem’s Destruction, 1
II. God’s Anger and Jerusalem’s Sorrow, 2
III. God’s Suffering People and Their Hope, 3
IV. Jerusalem’s Past, Present, and Future, 4
V. Prayer for Restoration, 5

Themes and Content


The very structure and text of Lamentations convey its vivid message and
themes. The author expresses his people’s sin, sorrow, and shame, confessing the
nation’s rebellion and transgressions against the divine covenant. The laments
also note a future hope, but only if confession and repentance occur.
Other themes that emerge include the inevitability of human suffering due
to the Fall (Hill and Walton 2000, 435–438), the desolation of Jerusalem, God’s
punishment of sin, God’s anger, the remnant’s response (Dyer and Merrill 2001,
648–655), and God’s great faithfulness.
The book’s formal structure as a funeral dirge makes clear its purpose: The poet
describes the grief of the survivors over the death of their city. He likens the
city to a widow whose children have been taken from her. The poet uses this
metaphor to describe in vivid detail how Jerusalem was once full of people but
was now empty (Lamentations 1:1). (Brubaker 2003b, 776–777)
Lamentations 1:11 and 5:4–9 indicate that the people lacked the necessities of
life such as food and water and were being exploited by those who would charge
192 Old Testament Survey

an outrageous price in the wake of disaster. Yet, in spite of all the torment and
destruction, Lamentations 3 affirms the faithfulness of God.
There is a pop theology circulating today that says if believers have faith they
will not suffer. However, Lamentations suggests life’s most intense cruelties can
prove our faith. Out of the black abyss of chaos, out of the fires of torment, out
of the depths of agony, rises that majestic hymn of the church, its words taken
from Lamentations 3:22–23: “Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father. There
is no shadow of turning with thee. Thou changest not, Thy compassions they
fail not. As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be.” (Brubaker 2003b, 776–777)
God’s faithfulness will prevail even in times of uncertainty, tragedy, distress,
and persecution.
The Preexilic Prophets (Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Obadiah, Jeremiah) 193

T Test Yourself
Circle the letter of the best answer.
12
CHAPTER

1. As seen in Nahum, promiscuity, cruelties, and 6. Zephaniah affirmed that


false security led to judgment for a) the joy of the Lord was the people’s strength.
a) Edom. b) God’s people would rejoice over Him.
b) Samaria. c) God would restore Israel’s joy.
c) Jerusalem. d) God would rejoice over His people.
d) Nineveh.
7. Obadiah foretold God’s judgment on Edom
2. Nineveh fell in because of their
a) 722 BC. a) pride and treatment of Israel.
b) 612 BC. b) sexual perversions.
c) 586 BC. c) social injustice.
d) 444 BC. d) idolatry.
3. The reminder “the righteous will live by his 8. The last prophet to Judah before the nation’s fall
faith” (Habakkuk 2:4) was part of God’s promise to was
a) judge Babylon later for its wickedness. a) Zephaniah.
b) use Babylon to punish Judah. b) Obadiah.
c) restore the nation of Israel. c) Jeremiah.
d) answer Habakkuk’s cry for help. d) Ezekiel.
4. Habakkuk’s prayer and song of faith show that 9. Jeremiah was called the Weeping Prophet
a) doubt signifies a lack of faith. because of
b) even true believers sometimes experience doubt. a) God’s command for him not to marry.
c) believers should wait to praise God until they b) his many tears and tender heart.
deal with their doubts. c) his exile to Babylon.
d) Habakkuk should not have asked God “why?” d) his lack of courage.
5. Zephaniah means 10. Lamentations 1–4 use a literary device known as
a) “the Lord is my salvation.” a) an acrostic.
b) “the Lord is my righteousness.” b) alliteration.
c) “the Lord hides.” c) personification.
d) “burden-bearer.” d) metaphors.
194 Old Testament Survey

Responses to Interactive Questions


Chapter 12
Some of these responses may include information that is supplemental to the IST. These questions are intended
to produce reflective thinking beyond the course content and your responses may vary from these examples.
1 What was Nahum’s message?
He prophesied God’s judgment and destruction for Nineveh but comfort and compassion for Judah.
2 What does Nahum remind us about God?
God is the true source of security, yet He never overlooks wickedness.
3 Describe the three Babylonian invasions of Judah.
(1) In 605 BC, Nebuchadnezzar invaded Judah and took Daniel and others as captives. (2) In 597 BC, the king
again struck Judah and took ten thousand people (including Ezekiel) captive. (3) In 587 BC, Nebuchadnezzar
destroyed Jerusalem and the temple and took numerous captives.
4 What were Habakkuk’s two questions and God’s responses?
Question 1: How could God allow wicked Judah to go unpunished? Answer 1: God would use the Babylonians
to punish Judah. Question 2: How could God use a more wicked nation to punish Judah? Answer 2: God would
judge Babylon at a later time.
5 With what images did Habakkuk describe God?
His splendor was like the dawn, and power flashed from His hand. The Lord rode in a chariot, and His horses
trampled the sea. The Almighty shot many arrows and split the earth with rivers. Lightning was His flashing
spear as He went through the earth to deliver His people.
6 What three truths concerning believers and doubt can we learn from Habakkuk?
(1) Believers do experience doubt. (2) Believers must place their trust in the providential hands of God.
(3) Believers can and should continue to praise God in spite of any lingering questions or doubts.
7 What was Zephaniah’s personal background?
He was a great-great-grandson of Hezekiah, and his unusual genealogy mentions four ancestors. He prophesied
during the reign of another relative, King Josiah.
8 What were Zephaniah’s three purposes in writing his book?
(1) To warn of immediate judgment if the nations did not repent, (2) to warn of future judgment at the end of
time, (3) to offer the hope of restoration for the Jews
9 What does Zephaniah write about the Day of the Lord?
On that day, God will finally judge all nations for their immorality, injustice, and cruelties, and He will restore
His people once and for all.
10 What positive message of hope appears at the end of Zephaniah?
The Lord promised to purify His people so they might serve Him faithfully, to remove the proud, to exalt the
humble, and to give His people security. He promised to rejoice over them with singing.
11 What is the three-part purpose for the book of Obadiah?
(1) To reveal that God was angry because Edom rejoiced at Judah’s suffering, (2) to announce God’s coming
judgment on Edom, and (3) to announce Israel’s deliverance in a coming Day of the Lord
The Preexilic Prophets (Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Obadiah, Jeremiah) 195

12 According to Obadiah, why was God going to judge Edom?


Edom’s arrogance and pride in its defendable location, trade routes, and political alliances angered God. In
addition, Edom took pleasure and gloated in Judah’s humiliation.
13 What did God specifically instruct Jeremiah not to do?
God told Jeremiah not to marry and not to attend weddings or funerals (Jeremiah 16:1–9).
14 What was Jeremiah often called, and why?
He was known as the Weeping Prophet because of his heartfelt concern and tears about God’s message of
judgment for Judah.
15 What themes occur frequently in Jeremiah?
God’s sovereignty and control in all circumstances, the sinfulness of human nature, and the human tendency to
rebel; also, the inevitability of judgment for sin and God’s promise not to abandon His people
16 What evidence indicates that Jeremiah wrote Lamentations?
The themes of the books of Jeremiah and Lamentations are similar. Jeremiah had written other laments
previously, and the Septuagint and Jewish tradition credit him with writing Lamentations. In addition, the book
reflects the heartache of someone who had witnessed the vivid scenes and horror of Jerusalem’s fall yet clung
to the hope of restoration. This description fits Jeremiah.
17 What is the message of the five poems in Lamentations?
They express grief over the fall of the nation of Judah as well as the city of Jerusalem. They indicate that sin
caused this judgment, but they take comfort in God’s faithfulness, His mercy, and the hope of Judah’s restoration.
13
196 Old Testament Survey

The Exilic Prophets (Ezekiel, Daniel)


CHAPTER
Jeremiah prophesied that the Babylonians would conquer Judah and that
the Jews would be captives in Babylon for seventy years (Jeremiah 29:10). The
fulfillment of this prophecy brought a dark time for the people. However, “during
this time of national despair, God raised up two prophetic voices. They gave
the Judean exiles hope for their present and for their future. These two men had
themselves experienced the disorientation and alienation of exile in Babylon”
(Brubaker 2003b, 784). God used the situations of Ezekiel and Daniel to fulfill
His plans and purposes.
Daniel was taken captive when he was approximately seventeen years old,
in 605 BC. He had been living in Babylon for nine years when the ten thousand
captives that included Ezekiel were exiled to Babylon in 597 BC. The remaining
people of Judah were taken into Babylonian captivity and the destruction of
Jerusalem was complete in 586 BC.

army at the battle of Carchemish


King Josiah is killed as he fights

few others are taken as captives

destroyed by the Babylonians;


Ezekiel and 10,000 others are

Jerusalem and the temple are


Babylonia crushes the Egyptian
with the Egyptians marching to

taken as captives to Babylon


(Jeremiah 46:2); Daniel and a
Assyria conquers Israel, the

falls to the Babylonians and


Nineveh, capital of Assyria,

Assyria (2 Kings 23:29–30).

prophet to the captives in

many captives are taken.


to Babylon (Daniel 1:1–7).

Ezekiel is called to be a

Babylon (Ezekiel 1).


ten northern tribes.

(2 Kings 24:14).
Medes.

722 BC 612 BC 609 BC 605 BC 597 BC 593 BC 586 BC

Time Line of the Fall of Israel and Judah

Ezekiel and Daniel ministered to the people by prophesying and assuring


them of God’s ultimate control and sovereignty. God’s unique design called for
Ezekiel to convey his prophetic messages through dramatic acts or plays; thus,
we refer to Ezekiel as the prophet of dramatic acting. As for Daniel, God placed
him in a unique position to minister amidst an oppressive government. Although
both prophets emphasize the sovereignty of God, Daniel is called the prophet of
divine sovereignty.

Lesson 13.1 Ezekiel: The Prophet of Dramatic Acting


Objectives
13.1.1 recount the setting, purposes, and themes of ezekiel.
13.1.2 Give examples of symbolic actions, parables, and visions in ezekiel.

Lesson 13.2 Daniel: The Prophet of Divine Sovereignty


Objectives
13.2.1 explain the setting, author, date, and themes of daniel.
13.2.2 describe the dreams or visions in daniel 2, 7, 8, 9, and 10–12.
The Exilic Prophets (Ezekiel, Daniel) 197

13.1
Ezekiel: The Prophet of Dramatic Acting
LESSON Author and Date
Although some liberal scholars disagree, conservative scholars believe that
the prophet Ezekiel himself recorded his prophecies in the book of Ezekiel. They
focus on internal biblical evidence such as the book’s frequent use of the first
13.1.1
OBJECTIVE person, the many specific dates given for Ezekiel’s prophecies and visions, and
recount the setting, the various literary devices used. Due to these factors, conservative scholars
purposes, and themes of agree that Ezekiel probably completed writing his book by 570 BC, shortly after
ezekiel his last recorded prophecy.
Ezekiel, whose name means “God strengthens,” was both a prophet and
a priest (1:3). Ezekiel lived in Jerusalem until he was twenty-five, when he
was taken as a captive to Babylon, away from the temple in Jerusalem where
the Israelite priests usually began their ministry. Because of his priestly role,
Ezekiel’s prophecy emphasized the temple and appropriate worship patterns and
attitudes (8–11; 40–48). As prophet, Ezekiel was often called to deliver messages
about the people’s failure to abide by their covenant with God.
While in Babylon, Ezekiel and his wife lived in their own house among
the Jewish exiles by the Kebar River (1:1; 3:15, 24; 8:1). He prophesied for at
least twenty-two years, from 593–571 BC (29:17). God specifically directed
Ezekiel to be personally involved in his messages and with the people by
acting out his prophecies.

1 Identify several unique Throughout his ministry, God referred to the prophet as “son of man” (ninety
aspects of the book of Ezekiel. times) and showed him many visions of future judgment and other events. More
than any other Old Testament prophet, Ezekiel carefully documented the dates on
which he saw several of his visions. In some of these, the Spirit of the Lord came
into Ezekiel and lifted him, at times carrying him to a different place (2:2; 3:12,
14, 24; 8:3; 11:1, 24; 37:1; 43:5).

Purposes and Themes


2 What are some purposes Ezekiel’s book has two primary purposes and themes:
and themes in the book of
Ezekiel? 1. To proclaim God’s judgment on Judah (Ezekiel 1–24) and the nations
(25–32)
2. To encourage the Jewish captives with prophecies of the future glory of
God’s kingdom and with affirmation of divine sovereignty
Ezekiel prophesied of judgment for Judah and other nations from approximately
593 BC to the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC. He related these judgments to God’s
authority by essentially asking this question: If God is indeed sovereign over evil
nations and will judge them, how can God avoid judging Judah who knows the
way but consistently refuses to follow it? Because of God’s sovereignty, He was
compelled to judge Judah for the people’s disobedience; however, He would also
judge the surrounding nations. Then, in the future, God would establish a Kingdom
that would last forever, where all would be well and peaceful.

Outline
I. Ezekiel’s Call to Prophesy, 1–3
A. Ezekiel’s vision of God (1)
B. Ezekiel’s call and commission (2–3)
198 Old Testament Survey

II. Messages of Judgment on Judah, 4–24


A. Prophetic signs of coming judgment (4–5)
B. Prophetic messages of coming judgment (6–7)
C. Prophetic visions of coming judgment (God’s glory departs) (8–11)
D. Prophetic signs, messages, and parables of judgment (12–24)
III. Messages of Judgment on the Nations, 25–32
A. Ammon, Moab, Edom, and Philistia (25)
B. Tyre, Sidon, and Egypt (26–32)
IV. Messages on the Restoration of Judah, 33–48
A. The watchman of restoration (33)
B. The promises of restoration (34–37)
C. Victory over Gog and Magog (38–39)
D. God’s glory in the new temple (His glory returns) (40–48)

13.1.2 The Call to Prophesy (Ezekiel 1–3)


OBJECTIVE
Give examples of symbolic The vivid imagery so prevalent in this book begins with the prophet’s initial
actions, parables, and vision in Ezekiel 1. Here, Ezekiel saw a throne, four living creatures, and wheels
visions in ezekiel. intersecting other wheels. On the throne, he saw “a figure like that of a man.
. . . Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the
radiance around him” (1:26–28). Ezekiel knew that he was seeing the glory of the
Lord. According to some interpreters, the throne symbolized God’s sovereignty
and omnipresence; that is, they claim it showed Ezekiel that God was not limited
to Jerusalem. This vision marked Ezekiel’s call to prophesy to the “rebellious
house” of Israel (2:9).

Messages of Judgment (Ezekiel 4–32)


Intense Signs and Parables
3 Give at least three God instructed Ezekiel to act out his messages more often than any other
examples of vivid imagery prophet. For instance, the Lord told Ezekiel to build a model of the siege of
found in Ezekiel, and explain Jerusalem using a clay tablet, a ramp and battering rams, and an iron pan (4:1–3).
what each illustrated.
At the Lord’s direction, Ezekiel lay beside the model on his left side for 390 days
and on his right side for 40 days to illustrate bearing the sin of Israel and Judah,
respectively (4:4–8). During this time, the prophet was to drink water and eat
bread that he cooked over dung (while the initial instructions were to use human
dung, God allowed him to use cow dung instead). This imagery represented the
rations of defiled food the Jews would be forced to eat during captivity (4:9–17).
Next, God commanded Ezekiel to shave his head and beard with a sword and to
divide the hair into three parts. This action illustrated the different outcomes for
the Jews (5:1–12).
Later, the prophet packed his bags, dug through a wall with his hands, and
carried his belongings out with his face covered to illustrate the people’s exile
(12:1–16). He ate his food with fear and trembling to demonstrate the Jews’ despair
(12:17–20). Then, in Ezekiel 24, God instructed Ezekiel not to show mourning
when his wife died to demonstrate that the people would not grieve over the
desecration of the Lord’s temple and the destruction of Jerusalem (24:15–27).
4 Why did Ezekiel
communicate his message Why did Ezekiel communicate his messages with such dramatic acting and
with drama and symbolism? symbolism? Why do these actions seem so unusual to us? Were they unusual to
The Exilic Prophets (Ezekiel, Daniel) 199

Ezekiel’s original audience as well? “As drama, Ezekiel’s words and actions gave
‘shock treatment’ to a nation made callous by sin against the Lord. His bold and
provocative language (especially the image of harlotry in chapters 16 and 23)
was designed to scandalize and convict a people desensitized to the truth by a life
of spiritual adultery” (Hill and Walton 2000, 446).

King of Tyre or Satan?

5 Do you believe Ezekiel One theological issue in the book of Ezekiel concerns chapter 28. As with
28 refers to Satan? Support any biblical passage, we must first interpret this chapter in light of its original
your answer from research. historical and cultural context and how the audience of that day understood
its meaning. With that in mind, scholars agree that Ezekiel 28 primarily refers
to the king of Tyre. However, some believe in a possible secondary meaning.
They suggest that Ezekiel 28 also refers to Satan and his expulsion from heaven.
Arnold and Beyer state:
Like Isaiah 14, Ezekiel 28 is another passage many evangelicals believe describes
Satan because the language goes so far beyond what we would normally expect
of a human ruler. Yet verse 12 specifically refers to the king of Tyre as the
object of Ezekiel’s words. Also, the New Testament does not cite these verses as
referring to Satan. Probably Ezekiel’s lofty language symbolically described the
great material blessing God had given Tyre’s ruler. (1999, 419)

Messages of Restoration (Ezekiel 33–48)


Promises of Renewal (Ezekiel 33–37)
The remainder of the book of Ezekiel describes Israel’s future restoration and
the new temple. In that day, God will finally reign supreme and peace will prevail.
Thus, Ezekiel holds out the message of hope in circumstances of hopelessness.
This section opens with a call for the people and their leaders to repent.
Ezekiel calls the spiritual shepherds to repentance for taking care of themselves
rather than the sheep God had entrusted to them (Ezekiel 34). Yet despite the
leaders’ sin, Ezekiel affirms that God will be their Chief Shepherd.
God further symbolizes his message of restoration for His people by showing
Ezekiel the valley of dry bones (Ezekiel 37). At God’s command, Ezekiel prophesied
to the bones, and they formed muscles and skin. When he prophesied a second time,
“breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet” (37:10).
Gog and Magog (Ezekiel 38–39)

6 What do the terms Gog Next, Ezekiel prophesies against Gog and Magog (38–39). Throughout history,
and Magog represent to you? scholars have debated over the meaning of these two terms and what they represent.
According to Arnold and Beyer, “the terms appear to describe the ultimate foe of
God’s people. Revelation 20:8 also mentions them in an equally difficult context.
We can say that whoever they are, God’s power will overcome them. As they gather
against God’s people, the Lord will bring final victory” (1999, 421).
The New Temple (Ezekiel 40–48)

7 In your opinion, what is the Ezekiel’s prophecy includes two visions of the temple: (1) as God’s glory
best interpretation concerning leaves prior to the temple’s destruction (8–11) and (2) as God’s glory returns
Israel’s new temple? after the temple’s restoration (40–48). The question of how to interpret the nine
chapters describing the new temple (40–48) has led to many differing views:
200 Old Testament Survey

1. These prophecies were fulfilled in the return and rebuilding of Jerusalem


during the times of Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah.
2. This will be fulfilled in the future as a part of the literal one-thousand-year
reign known as the Millennium.
3. The prophecies are being fulfilled now in the present reign of Christ over
His church.
A fourth view combines aspects of the first and third views. A fifth view
contends that these passages should be interpreted only symbolically, not literally
(Arnold and Beyer 1999, 423–424).
While we should study the issues carefully and know what we believe, the most
important thing to remember is that God is sovereign and will ultimately rule and
reign. In His future eschatological reign, we will know perfect harmony, peace, and
obedience from a new heart and will acknowledge God’s ultimate sovereignty.

13.2
Daniel: The Prophet of Divine Sovereignty
LESSON Author and Date
More-liberal scholars question Daniel’s authorship of his book because of
perceived historical inaccuracies and their assumptions that predictive prophecy
is not possible. They contend that the apocalyptic nature of the book of Daniel
13.2.1
OBJECTIVE implies fanciful and fictitious speculations.
explain the setting, author, However, conservative scholars affirm that Daniel himself wrote the book, a
date, and themes of daniel. view supported by internal biblical evidence naming him as the author (Daniel 9:2;
10:2; 12:4–5). This evidence extends to the New Testament in Matthew 24:15,
where Jesus called Daniel by name and quoted from Daniel 9:27; 11:31; and 12:11.
Conservative scholars also point out that, while a few historical mysteries remain,
many of the so-called inaccuracies in the book of Daniel have been resolved by
archaeological finds and other recent discoveries about that historical era.
The book of Daniel spans from Nebuchadnezzar’s first invasion of Jerusalem
(605 BC) to the third year of Cyrus in 536 BC (Daniel 10:1). Thus, most
conservative scholars hold to a date of authorship sometime in the sixth century BC.

Setting
Daniel, whose name means “God is my judge,” was one of the last Old
Testament prophets. Remember that Daniel was likely only a teenager when
he was captured and taken to Babylon in 605 BC. He apparently lived through
the end of the seventy years of captivity of which Jeremiah prophesied
(Jeremiah 25:11–12; 29:10–14; Daniel 9:1–3).
Daniel was exiled by the Babylonians in 605 BC for governmental service.
He, along with other young men from various conquered lands, was taken to
the great city of Babylon. There they received an education in the Babylonian
language and literature. Daniel’s divinely anointed and natural abilities propelled
him into a position as a counselor to King Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel faithfully
and competently served his foreign masters for many decades. In 539 BC the
Persians, under Cyrus the Great, took control of Babylon. Thus Daniel’s last
years were lived as an official in the Persian government. (Brubaker 2003b, 792)
The Exilic Prophets (Ezekiel, Daniel) 201

Daniel 7–12 is autobiographical, relating the prophet’s own experiences,


dreams, and visions. It is likely that Daniel was quite elderly when he
experienced these visions.

Apocalyptic Literature

8 Describe the literary Like Revelation in the New Testament, the book of Daniel is classified
genre in which Daniel falls. as apocalyptic literature. The term apocalyptic stems from the Greek word
apokalupto, meaning “to unveil or reveal.” A common literary genre in the
ancient Near East, apocalyptic literature used visions and symbols to unveil
or reveal hidden things, which often included future events. In other words,
apocalyptic books incorporated several common characteristics, including
visions, a concern about the future, descriptions of an eschatological judgment,
and a division of history into distinct chronological periods culminating in the
final judgment (Arnold and Beyer 1999, 428).

Purpose and Themes


Daniel wrote his book to encourage his people that their captivity would end
and that the future would be brighter. Unlike many prophets, Daniel did not tell
the Jews to repent; rather, he emphasized being faithful to God in a foreign land.
His actions, and those of his three friends, showed what it meant to be faithful.
9 What is the primary The main theme of Daniel is divine sovereignty—that is, God’s rule or reign
theme of Daniel, and what over the human kingdoms and governments established in this world. This theme
does it mean? of God’s sovereignty over all nations and rulers (4:17; 5:21) plays out in both
political and spiritual arenas. Daniel 1–6 deals primarily with God’s sovereignty
over the kingdoms in existence during the Exile and in which Daniel played a
role because of divine appointment. Daniel 7–12 deals primarily with God’s
sovereignty over the kingdoms that would rise and fall after Daniel’s time.
Some of these kingdoms are apparently still in the future, that is, in the coming
eschatological age.
10 What are some other The primary and secondary theological themes emerge from the narrative or
themes of Daniel, and how story-like nature of the book of Daniel. Along with God’s sovereignty, the book
are they conveyed? emphasizes (1) the arrogance of rulers and others who fail to acknowledge that
God is indeed the Supreme Ruler and (2) the guarantee of future divine victory
over all evil. Secondary themes include prayer and the general prophetic message
(Arnold and Beyer 1999, 431–432).

13.2.2 Outline
OBJECTIVE
describe the dreams or The stories in Daniel 1–6 “are accounts of Daniel and his friends. They detail
visions in daniel 2, 7, 8, 9, their education and work as administrators and wise men. These narratives
and 10–12. resemble the centuries-old hero stories and court tales of Joseph and Moses in
the land of Egypt” (Brubaker 2003b, 793). Then, in chapter 7, Daniel transitions
into recounting his dreams and visions about the future events of Israel and other
nations. The entire book can be outlined as follows:
I. Historical Setting, 1
A. Exiled to Babylon (1:1–7)
B. Faithfulness to God (1:8–16)
C. Promotion for Daniel and his friends (1:17–21)
202 Old Testament Survey

II. Daniel’s Messages about the Nations, 2–7


A. Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of a huge statue (2)
B. The gold image and the fiery furnace (3)
C. Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the great, tall tree (4)
D. Belshazzar’s feast and Babylon’s fall (5)
E. Darius’s decree and Daniel’s deliverance from lions (6)
F. Daniel’s dream of four beasts (7)
G. The kingdom of heaven: the eternal kingdom (7:13–14, 27)
III. Daniel’s Messages about Israel, 8–12
A. Daniel’s vision of a ram, a goat, and a small horn (8)
B. Daniel’s prayer and vision of 70 sevens (9)
C. Daniel’s vision of Israel’s future (10–12)

Content According to Themes


Sovereignty of God
God’s sovereignty is displayed first in Daniel’s appointment to an influential
position of leadership in an evil land and government. Unlike other prophetic
books that emphasize divine sovereignty by pronouncing judgment on neighboring
nations, Daniel shows that God uses even pagan rulers to accomplish His divine
purposes. That is, God is sovereign over both nations and individuals. In the last
section of his book, Daniel asserts God’s ultimate victory and sovereignty over
future evil empires that detest God and the people who follow Him.
Arrogance of Leaders
Within Daniel 1–6 is a powerful rebuke of egotism, arrogance, and pride as
epitomized by Babylonian kings Nebuchadnezzar (chap. 4) and Belshazzar
(chap. 5). In these six chapters, God vindicates Daniel and his friends in spite of
various conspiracies by other political leaders.
In Daniel’s visions in chapters 7–12, a succession of evil rulers and
governments that display arrogance are eventually replaced by the kingdom of
the Son of God and the Son of Man, Jesus Christ, the only One worthy of such
recognition and devotion.
While we may find it easy to condemn the pride and arrogance of governmental
rulers exemplified in the book of Daniel, the message for us is just as profound:
We must guard against all pride, including pride in our own spirituality. For “God
opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).
Prophecies of the Future
The last six chapters of Daniel raise the question of how God will fulfill the
promise of His ultimate victory and final reign. Because Daniel’s visions of
eschatological events are sometimes difficult to interpret, not all agree on the
possible timelines or facts of their fulfillment.
Which kingdoms?
Conservative scholars agree that the four beasts of Daniel 7 match the four
kingdoms of Daniel 2. However, they disagree about which kingdoms—past,
present, or future—the visions represent. Three views have been proposed:
The Exilic Prophets (Ezekiel, Daniel) 203

1. A rather common evangelical position is “that the four metals in the statue
predicted the four major empires of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and
Rome” (Brubaker 2003b, 794).
2. A non-evangelical position identifies the kingdoms as Babylonia, Media,
Persia, and Greece.
3. Some evangelicals contend that the fourth kingdom is Greece but still hold
to a conservative date of authorship in the sixth century BC (Arnold and
Beyer 1999, 434).
11 What are the four beasts The authors of this course agree with the first viewpoint. That is, we believe
in Daniel, and what four that the kingdoms symbolized are Babylon, Media-Persia, Greece, and Rome:
kingdoms do they represent?
• Babylon was represented by a head of gold and the lion with wings.
Soaring over all kingdoms, Babylon was as fierce as a lion, cruel, and
quick to conquer and punish. The wings torn off the lion may represent the
great change in Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4). Some individuals believe that
Nebuchadnezzar was truly converted (7:4).
• Media-Persia was symbolized by the statue’s chest of silver and the bear,
which was raised up on one side to demonstrate the superior strength of
Persia over Media.
• Greece was represented by the bronze belly of the statue and the leopard
with four wings and four heads. The wings demonstrated the swiftness of
Greece’s conquering power, and the four heads probably represented the
four generals under Alexander the Great. After Alexander’s death, his four
generals divided his kingdom into four parts.
• Rome was symbolized by the iron/clay in the statue and the terrible beast
of Daniel 7. Note that Rome was too terrible to compare with any animal.
Some believe the ten horns that came up on the beast refer to the same
ten kings John mentions in Revelation (Revelation 17:12). The horn with
eyes and a mouth represents the Antichrist, who conquers the ten kings
and rules the world (Daniel 7:8, 24). It appears that the Antichrist will
persecute the Tribulation saints for three and one-half years (7:21–25;
12:7; Revelation 12:6, 14). Then Christ will defeat the kingdom of the
Antichrist, and He will reign and rule forever.

What time frame?


A related issue is how to interpret phrases such as seventy “sevens” (or
seventy weeks; 9:24) and the abomination that causes desolation (11:31; 12:11).
The term seventy “sevens” or seventy weeks has been variously interpreted even
among conservative evangelical scholarship. Dyer and Merrill contend that “a
time was parallel to a year; and a ‘time’ (1), ‘times’ (2), and ‘half a time’ (1/2)
were equivalent to three and a half years, or the middle of the ‘seven’” (2001,
717). The numerous viewpoints on these matters are best studied in a course
on eschatology. For the purposes of this course, it is enough to note that some
believe the abomination that causes desolation took place in the past, around 167
or 166 BC, but many conservative interpreters see this event as yet future.

12 Describe the three views Evangelicals hold several different viewpoints about the end-time,
different evangelicals hold particularly about the order of events such as the Rapture, the Tribulation, and
concerning the Millennium. the Millennium. Three views exist concerning the Millennium (the one-thousand-
year reign of Christ):
204 Old Testament Survey

1. Premillennial: Christ will return before the Millennium begins.


2. Postmillennial: The Millennium began with Christ’s resurrection and will
end with His second coming. Thus, Christ will return after the Millennium.
3. Amillennial: There is no literal Millennium because Revelation 20 is
symbolic, not literal.
Within the broader category of premillennialism are three perspectives about
the order of the Rapture and the Tribulation:
1. Pre-Tribulation: The rapture of the church will occur prior to the seven
years of the Tribulation.
2. Mid-Tribulation: The Rapture will occur approximately halfway through
the Tribulation.
3. Post-Tribulation: The Rapture will occur after the Tribulation.
Although all of these views are held by different evangelicals and Pentecostals,
the Assemblies of God holds to a premillennial, pre-Tribulation viewpoint.
Unfortunately, some popular teachers have gone way beyond the clear
teaching of Scripture on eschatology and have engaged in unfounded speculation
about how, where, and when such prophecies will be fulfilled. History has proven
many of these speculations totally false. With that in mind, ministers must
remember to discern and preach the truth of the Word as it is stated. They must be
clear where Scripture is clear and silent where Scripture is silent.
Still, despite misinterpretation, pervasive evil, human arrogance, and intense
persecution of believers, the truth remains that God’s rule is coming! Jesus
Christ is already the governor and ruler over all; yet an age is coming when
He will finalize His victory and turn the spiritual reality of His kingdom into
a governmental reality. Until that day, believers can rest assured that God’s
sovereignty prevails, even in the difficult circumstances of life.
The Exilic Prophets (Ezekiel, Daniel) 205

T Test Yourself
Circle the letter of the best answer.
13
CHAPTER

1. The book of Ezekiel is set in 6. The primary theme of Daniel is


a) Babylon. a) the Day of the Lord.
b) Judah. b) the Suffering Servant.
c) Assyria. c) divine sovereignty.
d) Israel. d) social injustice.
2. ezekiel means 7. apocalyptic comes from a Greek word meaning
a) “the Lord hides.” a) “bizarre or unrealistic.”
b) “the Lord saves.” b) “to unveil or reveal.”
c) “God strengthens.” c) “supernatural intervention.”
d) “God is my judge.” d) “symbolic and figurative language.”
3. The themes of Ezekiel are 8. Who took control of Babylon in 539 BC?
a) the Suffering Servant and the Day of the Lord. a) Cyrus
b) social injustice and encouragement of the captives. b) Xerxes
c) God’s judgment for Babylon and grace for Judah. c) Nebuchadnezzar
d) God’s judgment on Judah and encouragement of d) Alexander the Great
the Jewish captives.
9. In Daniel’s visions, Media-Persia was
4. The king of Tyre is addressed in Ezekiel represented by both the statue’s
a) 28. a) head of gold and the lion with wings.
b) 32. b) chest of silver and the bear.
c) 42. c) bronze belly and the leopard with four wings.
d) 48. d) iron/clay and the terrible beast.
5. The terms Gog and Magog refer to 10. Daniel 9 describes Daniel’s vision of
a) Babylon. a) the seventy “sevens.”
b) Assyria. b) a ram, a goat, and a small horn.
c) Russia. c) a great war.
d) the ultimate foe of God’s people. d) four beasts.
206 Old Testament Survey

Responses to Interactive Questions


Chapter 13
Some of these responses may include information that is supplemental to the IST. These questions are intended
to produce reflective thinking beyond the course content and your responses may vary from these examples.
1 Identify several unique aspects of the book of Ezekiel.
Any of these: The book includes many visions, parables, and unusual actions by the prophet and describes
them with vivid imagery. More than any other Old Testament prophet, Ezekiel cataloged the dates of many of
his visions. God referred to Ezekiel as “son of man” ninety times. The Spirit came into Ezekiel and often lifted
him. God instructed Ezekiel to act out his messages more often than any other prophet.
2 What are some purposes and themes in the book of Ezekiel?
To proclaim God’s judgment on Judah, encourage the Jewish captives with prophecies of the future glory of
God’s kingdom, and affirm divine sovereignty
3 Give at least three examples of vivid imagery found in Ezekiel, and explain what each illustrated.
Any three of these: Ezekiel built a model of the siege against Jerusalem. He lay on his left side for 390 days
and his right side for 40 days to illustrate the sin of Israel and Judah. He cooked bread over cow dung to
symbolize food rations during captivity. He shaved his head and beard and divided the hair three ways to
indicate three diffe