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2 Kings 10:29-31 However, (Jehu) did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit--the worship of the golden calves at Bethel and Dan. The LORD said to Jehu, "Because you have done well in accomplishing what is right in my eyes and have done to the house of Ahab all I had in mind to do, your descendants will sit on the throne of Israel to the fourth generation." Yet Jehu was not careful to keep the law of the LORD, the God of Israel, with all his heart. He did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam, which he had caused Israel to commit.
Hosea 1:4 Then the LORD said to Hosea, "Call him Jezreel, because I will soon punish the house of Jehu for the massacre at Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of Israel.
The Skeptical program for these verses is set thusly:
In 2 Kings 9-10, for example, the story of Jehus massacre of the royal family of Israel at Jezreel is related with the obvious approval of whoever wrote the account. At the end of this account, the writer declared Yahwehs approval of Jehus actions: Yahweh said to Jehu, Because you have done well in carrying out what I consider right, and in accordance with all that was in my heart have dealt with the house of Ahab, your sons of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel (10:30)...
Whoever wrote the record of Jehus and his descendants reigns obviously thought that Jehu had pleased Yahweh in the massacre of the royal family of Israel in order to usurp the throne. Several years later, however, the prophet Hosea expressed an entirely different opinion of Jehus actions. When his wife Gomer bore a son, Hosea claimed that Yahweh said to him, Name him Jezreel; for in a little while I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel (Hosea 1:4). So the writer of 2 Kings heaped praise on Jehu for the Jezreel massacre of the royal family, but years later the prophet Hosea apparently said that Yahweh would avenge the blood of Jezreel and end the reign of the house of Jehu. This was apparently a retrojected prophecy to explain the assassination of Zechariah, the last Israelite king from the house of Jehu, but, regardless, in making the prediction, Hosea put himself into obvious disagreement with the writer of 2 Kings, who thought that Jehu had done all that was in [Yahwehs] heart in the matter of Jezreel.
An answer to this can be given in two ways: First, to show that in Kings Jehu exceeded his commanded mission and therefore, though he did earn his keep and kingdom for his descendants, also deserved the condemnation of Hosea; or, to show that Hosea is not condemning Jehu at all.
I prefer the latter explanation and shall offer it first. The former explanation I will also present, as a secondary option. We will also consider certain Skeptical objections to our explanations, as provided by a source of negligible notice.
Summary of view: The punishment is of a kind, not related in purpose. The likeliest answer here is that Hosea 1:4 is to be read to express the idea that the bloodshed of Jezreel will be visited upon the house of Jehu - which is to say, the verse should read, not punished for the blood of Jezreel, but punished by - the reference is to the mode of punishment, rather than the cause of it.
This view of course works with the assumption that Hosea here is specifically referring to the events of 2 Kings 10. But the fact is that there is nothing in the verse above that requires this connection at all. It has merely been assumed that since 2 Kings is the only other place in the OT that describes suitable events located at Jezreel, that this must be, necessarily, what Hosea is referring to.
However, there is nothing in Hosea that connects this reference to the specific actions of Jehu in 2 Kings. Allegedly condemned here is the "house of Jehu" - but this "house" consisted of several kings and their respective housemates, all but one of which had sufficient time to commit some objectionable (but otherwise unrecorded) atrocity or series of atrocities in Jezreel, which was a rather large geographical area.
In the end, there is no certainty that Hosea is indeed referring to the events recorded in 2 Kings 10, which may make the entire discussion pointless...though we will assume for the sake of argument hereafter that it does.
The bottom line is that the OT records only a tiny portion of the history of the kings of Israel and Judah (as indeed, what documents we have remaining from ALL ancient civilizations leave to us only the tiniest portion of their respective histories), and we cannot simply assert that Hosea can ONLY be referring to the 2 Kings incident.
The fact that the prophet selected this particular event from Jehu's past as his example of what would happen to the house of Jehu would surely indicate that he considered it a despicable event. In other words, to find something appropriate to compare to the impending fate of the house of Jehu, Hosea looked back and selected Jehu's complete extermination of the royal family of Israel. Would he have done that if he had thought that Jehu's actions at Jezreel were praiseworthy?
However, no one is arguing that Hosea thought that Jehu's actions per se were praiseworthy; this is failing to distinguish here between condemnation and example. Which is to say: Assuming that Hosea did choose this event, there is no doubt that he chose it for its appropriateness; but that is not the same thing as condemning it. Thus, the analogy:
The death of those who fought at the Alamo is considered an example to be greatly admired, and so the men who died there are thought of as exceptional heroes. If the ignominious end of some despicable person should be compared to an event like the fall of the heroes at the Alamo, anyone could see the inappropriateness of it.
-- is incomplete and inappropriate. Aside from the problem of comparing the heroes of the Alamo to the (at the very least) wicked and (at best) unquantified subjects of Jehu's massacre, the point, under the "visit" interpretation, would not be the social and political principles behind the Alamo, but the absolute awfulness of the carnage of the Alamo - which, heroic actions or not, is an undeniable part of that event.
Let's suppose, for example, that a prophet of today should pronounce impending doom upon Saddam Hussein by saying, "God will visit upon Saddam Hussein the death of those who died at the Alamo." Who would not be able to see the incongruity in the comparison? Anyone could see that a far better analogy would be to compare Hussein's fate to the atrocity that he administered on the Kurds within his own country when he used nerve gas to wipe them out.
This too misses the point. If the point of referring to the Alamo here is that the Texans were starving for independence, then yes, the analogy would be inappropriate - never mind the social, chronological and geographic anachronisms involved, which make this an even more inappropriate analogy for our case.
But if this had been said with the particular violence of the Alamo in mind, then it would indeed be appropriate - albeit, because of the problem of anachronism, not as good as using the Kurds.
So then: It is incorrect to say that even if my interpretation is correct, "the text would still indicate that the prophet disapproved of the massacre at Jezreel." Actually, it would indicate that he thought it was a bloody event, but that in itself places no moral weight upon the motives and actions behind the event.
To fix that analogy: The difference here would be between someone saying, "I will punish Santa Ana's descendants for the bloodshed at the Alamo" versus "I will visit upon Santa Ana's descendants the bloodshed of the Alamo." If we have the first sense, it is an obvious condemnation/punishment for the events of the Alamo. But if we have the second sense, then the source of the condemnation/punishment could be anything - perhaps the Alamo, but also perhaps if Santa Ana (or his descendants) beat someone up 20 years after the Alamo, or perhaps in relation to a poker debt.
To decide one way or the other, we need to know the context of the statement - and that is where our arguments re the content of the rest of Hosea favoring a "visit" interpretation come into play.
The primary argument we will pursue under these assumptions involves two aspects:
- concerning the word translated "punish/avenge"
- the word translated "massacre."
The first argument a) is that Hosea's words indicate that the house of Jehu will be punished, not because of the blood of Jezreel, but in the same way as occurred at Jezreel - which is to say, as Jehu at Jezreel destroyed his enemies, so shall now the house of Jehu be destroyed. The key here is the Hebrew term which emerges in our translations as punish/avenge.
The Hebrew word in question is paqad. It has many nuances, such as avenge and punish; but also bestow, remember, visit. If this verse is read, "I will visit the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu..." or "apply the bloodshed of Jezreel" then we have something which matches what we have stated previously: The matter is one of punishment by type and method, and has nothing to do with retribution for the actions of Jehu. It is saying no more than, "I will bring upon the house of Jehu the same type of judgment that they brought about at Jezreel" - i.e. extermination of the totality of the house.
The question, of course, is whether we are justified in deferring to the bestow/visit interpretation upon this word, in preference to the avenge/punish interpretation.
In reply, some may list English translations of the Bible that use the English rendering they wish to have present, but simply listing translations is insufficient scholarship. Further, let it be pointed out that we are not engaging any sort of special pleading here: It is no less legitimate to appeal to the "Semitic mindset" and the nuances of Hebrew when considering the OT than it is to appeal to the "medieval mind" and the nuances of Elizabethan English when considering the works of Shakespeare. Even the most basic anthropological work (such as Matthews and Benjamin's Social World of Ancient Israel) makes it quite clear that there is a world of difference between our way of thinking and that of members of Ancient Near Eastern Mediterranean society - and that these differences must be taken into account when considering the Old and New Testaments.
Let us add as well that it is vain to appeal to "hundreds" of translators who did their work. Let's say each of 25 versions employed a team of 50 translators on average for their OT translation work. That adds up to hundreds, actually 1250. But it'd be a bit of a step to suggest that EACH of these 1250 worked on Hos. 1:4 - that's not how translations are put together. Translations of the Bible are done by teams, and each book is assigned a certain number of translators.
A small-to-medium book like Hosea would not need many translators (as opposed to Isaiah, for example), but let's give the best face possible and say that 4 translators from each version worked on Hosea. That means we're only dealing with a hundred people...but we're not done yet.
The linguistic detail work on this verse has only been done in the last two decades. Unless they had the gift of prophecy, the overwhelming number of these versions (I daresay at least the KJV) were translated before this research was performed. Without examining the date of each of the versions, let's be generous and say that one-third were done by the time prescribed. We are down to 33 translators.
Now of these 33, we must presume that a) they were aware of the linguistic research in question; b) that they were able and willing to acquire and evaluate it; c) that they considered the data carefully and fairly, and finally d) critically evaluated the data and made a decision based on sound principles. So unless someone wants to go out and take a poll of those translators and find out WHY they chose the way they did, throwing the weight of their numbers at us is simply the fallacy of argument by authority.
Please note that my "commentators" run the spectrum from conservative to moderate to liberal. All three groups, when seeking resolutions to apparent problems, are really doing no more than any responsible historian (outside of the radical and presumptuous critical school) is doing, which is seeking first to resolve a given difficulty before assuming some error on the part of the source material.
They also have different solutions: Some of the liberal bent suggest a type of progressive revelation, in which God has set higher standards of action in Hosea's time than were set in Jehu's time, in response to the human need for growth. [see AndFree.Hos, 178; Crai.12P, 12; for reply, see Irv.ThrJez, 499]. Others remain content with seeing contradiction (but seldom offer any detailed work on the subject - see Wolf.Hos, 17-18; May.Hos, 28; Jone.12K, 273). Irvine [Irv.ThrJez, 503] suggests that our 2 Kings passage (10:30-1) is a piece of imperial propaganda that was being refuted by Hosea, which would raise the question of interpolation in 2 Kings or its sources.
To begin, now, with the answer for the visit/punish problem. Here we will give the floor to McComiskey's detailed exegesis [MCom.MP, 20n; see also MCom.PrIron and Garr.HosJoe, 57], which argues that the word paqad here "establishes a relationship expressing supreme irony." Places where Hebrew characters appear in the text are represented with material in ():
(Paqad) is difficult to define. It frequently describes an action that precedes the bestowal of blessing (Gen. 21:1, 50:24-5, Exod. 3:16) or the execution of judgment (Ex. 32:34, 1 Sam. 15:2, Is. 23:7) on the part of God. Since the word may precede an act of blessing, it cannot denote the sole idea of punishment. It is best to understand it as attending to or giving heed to a person, object or situation before responding. This concept of mental apprehension is apparent in the frequent association of the word with (remember, see, e.g., Jer. 14:10). There are many other nuances, but in contexts of judgment it describes an action in which God attends to the wrong he observes by intervening with appropriate action. When (paqad) is collocated with (upon) as well as a direct object and an indirect object (as it is here) in statements of judgment, the direct object is viewed as attending the indirect object. That is, the direct object is brought into the experience of the indirect object.
It should be noted that McComiskey is not referring to English grammar but Hebrew grammar, which of course will not follow the same rules. McComiskey is calling the object of the preposition in the phrase, "upon the house of Jehu" -- "upon" being the preposition, and "house" being the object of the preposition -- an indirect object. The words in the phrase "upon the house of," in Hebrew, operate as a grammatical unity. Thus, "upon the house of" is treated as one word: There is no confusion of the "object of the preposition" with the "indirect object" because the preposition has been "absorbed" into the word following, and thereby becomes part of its grammatical identity - in this case, an indirect object.
McComiskey, at any rate, cites as an example Jeremiah 15:3, where paqad is used:
"I will send (paqad) four kinds of destroyers against them," declares the LORD, "the sword to kill and the dogs to drag away and the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth to devour and destroy."
He then writes:
The collocation (visit upon) cannot denote punishment for in this context. The nation will not be punished for these destroyers, but by them. The direct object (the four destroyers) is to come into the experience of the indirect object (the nation as the object of the preposition upon). This sense of the idiom is exists in every context where (visited upon) has two objects. On the other hand, the translation "punish for" does not apply in every context. We must not assign that sense to the collocation uncritically.
A few citations will bring home the point that this word paqad is a difficult translation to determine - which explains why so many translations (as well as less in-depth commentaries) continue to use it. Speiser once remarked of paqad that, "there is probably no other Hebrew verb that has caused translators as much trouble" - and it will take only a few citations to see why:
Gen. 21:1 - Now the LORD was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did for Sarah what he had promised.
This verse has a blessing visited upon Sarah. Paqad is not literally translated and emerges through the word "did".
Gen. 40:4 - The captain of the guard assigned (paqad) them to Joseph, and he attended them. After they had been in custody for some time...
Ex. 3:16 - "Go, assemble the elders of Israel and say to them, 'The LORD, the God of your fathers--the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob-- appeared to me and said: I have watched (paqad) over you and have seen what has been done to you in Egypt.' "
Ex. 32:34 - "Now go, lead the people to the place I spoke of, and my angel will go before you. However, when the time comes for me to punish, I will punish (paqad) them for their sin."
Num. 1:3-21 - In these verses, paqad is used several times in relation to the numbering of the Hebrews. The KJV and NIV offer no English word as a parallel.
1 Ki. 11:28 - Now Jeroboam was a man of standing, and when Solomon saw how well the young man did his work, he put him in charge of the whole labor force of the house of Joseph.
Paqad here is used to refer to Jeroboam being "put in charge" of the labor force.
1 Ki. 14:27 - So King Rehoboam made bronze shields to replace them and assigned (paqad) these to the commanders of the guard on duty at the entrance to the royal palace.
1 Ki. 20:26 - The next spring Ben-Hadad mustered (paqad) the Arameans and went up to Aphek to fight against Israel.
2 Ki. 3:6 - So at that time King Joram set out from Samaria and mobilized (paqad) all Israel.
2 Ki. 12:11 - When the amount had been determined, they gave the money to the men appointed (paqad) to supervise the work on the temple. With it they paid those who worked on the temple of the LORD--the carpenters and builders...
Now it may be replied:
A written statement contains only the information that the writer puts into it. If there is no reason given for the sending of the "destroyers" in Jeremiah 15:3, it is because the writer didn't state the reason.
This has nothing to do with McComiskey's explanation. There is no issue at all relative to a "reason" for sending the destroyers within this verse; that much is true, but the point is that this is not a "reason" verse but rather a "method" verse - the same as we argue is in Hosea. Continuing:
In Hosea 1:4, the prophet stated the reason for the impending vengeance on the house of Jehu. Yahweh would extract this vengeance because of the "blood of Jezreel." The reason is specifically stated, and so this statement cannot be compared to another statement by another writer who used "paqad" but did not state the reason why Yahweh would "visit" or "remember" or "send" destruction or punishment.
Here we have simply a case of assuming what needs to proved: That the use of paqad here does indeed imply vengeance. Whether Hosea did indeed give the "reason" within this single verse is the very point at issue.
We argue that Hosea, too, gave the reasons for the "visit" - it was no more than the same old sins, just as in the case of Jeremiah - but that the reason was not given in Hosea 1:4, and that it is a faulty reading of the verse to think that the reason is given there. Rather, McComiskey is arguing that the grammar in the Hebrew (NOT the English) proves that this gives a method ("I will visit upon them the blood of Jezreel") versus a reason ("I will punish them for the blood of Jezreel").
Here is what we are arguing analogically: Smith has vandalized Doe's car, all right, but Doe hired him to vandalize it because he was entering an old-fashioned demolition race and wanted to look the part. But then, Smith also went on to Doe's house and set it on fire and painted Doe's dog purple. So, since Smith is an expert in vandalizing cars for such purposes as described, Doe chooses a condemnation that Smith will grasp perfectly: "For painting my dog and burning my house, I'm gonna mess your face up, and it's gonna look just like my car does now." That, we argue, is what Hosea is doing, in a typical ANE communication fashion: Choosing a graphic example very familiar to the subject at hand (the house of Jehu) in order to let them know what's ahead for them.
So, the obvious difficulty with this word helps explain why translators have used, and sometimes continue to use, "punish" in Hosea 1:4. It is also explained by a couple of other factors:
- Most importantly - and a good reason why the majority of translations don't carry this interpretation - is that the detailed linguistic work on the matter has only been done in the last 5-7 years or so. The majority of translations were performed and/or published earlier than this research was done. Yes, it may take over 2,000 years to get all of the nuances of an ancient language down pat: Especially when we have little or no other literature from the period, and because serious Biblical scholarship has only been ongoing for the last 150-200 years; and most of the major discoveries in archaeology, linguistics, and paleography has been made in the last 50-100.
- The specific collocation here appears nowhere else in the OT. [Irv.ThrJez, 497] Unique words or word combinations are nearly always problematic. The lack of a comparable parallel does not make it improbable that this verse could have been mistranslated.
- An undoubtedly influential factor is that the Greek translation of the OT uses "punish/avenge" here. Of course, from the point of view of the later writers of the LXX, Jehu's house has already had their "visit" and it has turned out to be a "punishment." Their selection has rather the taste of hindsight. (The LXX is often given weight in deciding the meaning of a Hebrew word that is obscure or difficult to determine.)
- Hosea uses paqad six additional times (2:13, 4:9, 4:14, 8:13, 9:9, 12:2) in his book. In most cases, it clearly indicates the "punish" mode, but obviously this should not mean that it is used that way throughout his book. (Note that the KJV translators rendered paqad as "visit" in some cases.)
- Andersen and Freedman acknowledge the viability of the "visit" translation and accept the same explanation of the issue as we have, as noted below. However, they stick with "punish" and reject a "visit" translation because "its vacuity misses the juridical connotations of the idiom." In other words, they use "punish" because of problems with the vacuity of our language - not because of the Hebrew: Our English word "visit" lacks juridical connotations. Hence, it does not clearly express the negative aspect of Hosea 1:4, according to our language as it is now used: "Visit" as we use the word today carries images of going over to your neighbor's house for a barbecue or bringing Grandma some flowers and candy - not the image we need for this verse.
Nevertheless, Andersen and Freedman agree that what stands behind paqad in this verse is indeed a "visitation" - but not a pleasant one.
- "Punish" is also selected in part because of the supposed connotation of the word for "massacre". The Hebrew here is dam, and the interpretation of it in our view yields a similar result to the matter of paqad above. Let's give the floor this time to commentator Douglas Stuart [Stu.HosJon, 23n; see also MCom.MP, 21-2]. Places where Hebrew symbols appear in the text are indicated with an ():
It should be noted that the present oracle does not per se condemn Jehu's coup at Jezreel, called for by Elisha. (Dam yizre'el) could mean "bloodguilt of Jezreel" in the sense of a great, decisive slaughter. The former connotation, "bloodguilt," is found for (dam) in Lev. 20:9, Duet. 19:10, 2 Sam. 21:1, etc. But the connotation "killing" or "bloodshed" is also well-attested as in (dam) "bloodshed-of-battle" (1 Kgs. 2:5) or (dam) "unnecessary bloodshed" (1 Kgs. 2:31), etc. Recognition of the use of (dam) in the context, so often associated with requital of justice in the Old Testament, should not lead to the conclusion that Hosea is condemning Jehu for fulfilling God's command. Instead, Yahweh now announces that he will turn the tables on the house of Jehu because of the real issue, i.e., what has happened in the meantime. In the same way that Jehu in 842 had annihilated a dynasty feared for its long history of oppression and apostasy, so Yahweh himself will now put an end to the Jehu dynasty because it, in turn, has grown hopelessly corrupt.
A reply may be given, using Lev. 20:9 --
If anyone curses his father or mother, he must be put to death. He has cursed his father or his mother, and his blood will be on his own head.
Of this, it may be said:
Under the Mosaic law, one could be put to death for cursing his father or mother: "And he that curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death" (Ex. 21:17). Thus, all that Leviticus 20:9 did was to repeat this law but to go on and say that those who curse their parents have no one to blame but themselves when they are put to death. "Their blood is upon them." In other words, the responsibility for the shedding of their own blood falls upon them, because they violated a law that called for the death penalty.
Similar things may be said of two other verses, Deut. 19:10 and 2 Samuel 21:1.
But Stuart agrees that the above verses should read "bloodguilt" - but he goes on to say that Hosea 1:4 should NOT read that way, but rather read "bloodshed" in line with interpreting paqad in a "visit" sense (or as Stuart puts it, "apply").
So, tying our two major arguments together:
- Had Hosea wished to indicate the avenge/punish interpretation, then he picked an unusual word for it. The present form "does not clearly inform the collocation with the sense of retributive justice." [MCom.PrIron, 94] A much stronger and precise word to use would be naqam, which means only "punish". This word is found in the following verses, where it clearly indicates punishment or vengeance:
Gen. 4:15 - But the LORD said to him, "Not so ; if anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance (naqam) seven times over." Then the LORD put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him.
2 Ki. 9:7 - You are to destroy the house of Ahab your master, and I will avenge (naqam) the blood of my servants the prophets and the blood of all the Lord's servants shed by Jezebel.
Is. 34:8 - 8 For the LORD has a day of vengeance (naqam), a year of retribution, to uphold Zion's cause.
Another word that would have been better was yacar. It is used elsewhere by Hosea (7:12, 15; 10:10). It means:
3256. yacar, yaw-sar'; a prim. root; to chastise, lit. (with blows) or fig. (with words); hence to instruct:--bind, chasten, chastise, correct, instruct, punish, reform, reprove, sore, teach.
And is used in Gen. 15:14:
But I will punish (yacar) the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions.
Paqad does serve in a strong and precise way to indicate punishment in many verses, but we're dealing with this verse, and the specific and unique word set, not the others.
That Hosea chose another word for his "condemnation" besides one of the two above should be a signal to us. However, there is more:
- Let us consider the argument that Hosea is here displeased with what Jehu did to the house of Ahab. An unasked question is, "Why should he have been?" Hosea is no less condemning of the sins of the sort committed by the house of Ahab than the Kings writer is, and "nowhere else in the book (of Hosea) are the murders at Jezreel cited as the cause of Israel's demise." [MCom.MP, 20 ]. Instead, it is all the usual sins that are the problem.
Andersen and Freedman [AndFree.Hos, 179; see also Acht.MP1, 16-7] bring this point home nicely:
There is no reason to suppose that Hosea's view of Israel's history in relation to its God was significantly different from that of the biblical historians (the Kings writers - ed.) or the prophets who preceded or were contemporary with him. In the rest of his book we find numerous points of contact and agreement, although emphases and tendencies vary from the norms. In this case as well, we may suppose his full agreement with the thundering condemnation of Ahab and his house, and the necessity for the violent overthrow of that infamous regime. While, therefore he, along with other prophets and historians, could approve Jehu's action in overthrowing the house of Ahab, that in itself does not require automatic approval of Jehu and his dynasty in other matters. Thus the historian condemns Jehu and his house in the stereotyped fashion after granting the inexorable divine oracle and promise. The house of Jehu has turned out to be no different from the house of Omri; it will come to the same bloody end for the same reasons.
In this aspect, Andersen and Freedman see in Hosea's words a similarity to the situation that Israel had when entering Canaan: They entered on a promise, but when they took up the evil ways of the Canaanites, the promise was turned back upon them. Thus, regarding Jehu's actions, they write that Hosea...
...viewed the behavior of Jehu in a dual light; in the very act of carrying out the divine judgment against the house of Ahab, he overstepped the bounds of his mandate and showed that arrogance and self-righteousness which was the undoing of the preceding dynasty. Already the seeds of destruction were sown in the terrible slaughter initiated by Jehu.
This excess, Andersen and Freedman find (as we do) in the destruction of members of the house of Judah (see below; see also Hous.12K, 293). They therefore conclude:
We should not suppose that in the thought of the prophet(s) it was Jehu's sin which doomed his great-great-grandson...
Accordingly we reject the modern interpretation of Hos. 1:4 which maintains that the prophet here repudiates Jehu's extermination of Ahab's line and sees this as a crime for which his descendent must pay. On the contrary, the main target of Hosea's criticism of the royal house of his day is precisely the sin of the Omrides...Hosea is saying that what God did to Ahab and his brood by means of Jehu is exactly what he will now do to Jeroboam (II) and his family, and for similar reasons. (emphasis in original)
The above exegesis travels a slightly different road, but arrives at the same conclusion that we have. Andersen and Freedman see the logical sense of the fact that, if Hosea condemns the same sins as those committed by the house of Ahab, how could he here be disapproving of Jehu's destruction of their house? We would also add, to complete the circle: Without any reasonable supposition as to why Hosea would take this tack against Jehu and his house in the matter of the house of Ahab, where is the logic or compulsion to read paqad in its avenge/punish sense?
While there are places where paqad can NOT be read in a "punish/avenge" sense because the action in reference is positive (something we already made quite clear in an extended quote from McComiskey), this is NOT the same as proving the opposite assertion that we are making, that paqad can be read in an ominous, "visit" sense in places where negative action is intended (as in Jer. 15:3) without using the even more ominous "punish/avenge" translation.
Responding to the question of why Hosea would be displeased with Jehu, it may be said:
First, it could well be that Hosea personally thought that no matter how grievous the sins of Ahab may have been, this was no justification for massacring descendants of Ahab who were not responsible for what Ahab had done or to kill those who were not descendants of Ahab.
Could have been? That idea isn't in the text. But if it were, it is actually indirectly SUPPORTING my upcoming arguments in regards to 2 Kings - especially if we consider people who were not descendants of Ahab.
But let's take this speculation that Hosea is condemning the killing of members of the house of Ahab who were not responsible for what Ahab did, or people who were not descendants of Ahab. My questions are:
- Who are these people, and it is known that they were not involved in what Ahab did?
- How is this any different (aside from direct proof in 2 Kings) from our upcoming assertion that, if this condemnation is for ANY reason related to Jehu, it is for killing people OUTSIDE the house of Ahab who had no direct responsibility?
But even so, Hosea would have no concern regarding the death of any allegedly "not responsible" member of Ahab's house being killed, for of course punishment was thought of in terms of corporate responsibility in this age. Note that "corporate responsibility" is not quite the same concept as the "bear the sins of the fathers" issue, and it is not clear in what way this citation is applicable. The matter has no relevance to the book of Hosea at all. (For a reply to that issue, see here.)
The writer of Kings was very condemning of the "sort" of sins committed by the house of Ahab (1 Kings 21:1-26), but his inconsistency was in praising Jehu for committing atrocities that were fully as bloody as anything Ahab had done. Furthermore, the writer of Kings also condemned the idolatry of Ahab and Jezebel (1 Kings 16:31-32; 18:1-40) but gave Jehu only a slap on the wrist for allowing the worship of the golden calves to continue (2 Kings 10:29, 31). Hosea was more consistent in his condemnation of such sins than was the writer of Kings.
This is misguided. The point is that Hosea roundly condemned the idolatry committed by the house of Jehu, which was the SAME KIND of idolatry committed by the house of Ahab - so that he has no reason at all to condemn the destruction of the house of Ahab by Jehu. He is "no less condemning" (Read: He is just as, if not indeed much MORE condemning) of such idolatry than the Kings writer.
We will note in Part 2 that the Kings writer simply "slaps wrists" - which is to say, gives summary notices - for the golden calves (more precisely, those, along with the other Jeroboam sins) THROUGHOUT his work, and that he isn't praising Jehu for atrocities outside of God's command.
As for the rest of those cites - 1 Kings 21:1-26 is the Naboth's vineyard story, which has no recorded parallel in Jehu's reign; in 16:31-2, Ahab serves and sets up altars for Baal, whereas Jehu kills off all of their priests - and the passages referenced in Chs. 16 and 21 are written in the Kings writer's usual disconnected, annalistic narrative style; 18:1-40 is the Elijah vs. the priests of Baal smash-up and has nothing to do with the condemnation of Ahab per se, but rather with the idolatry of the people at large.
Are you saying that because Hosea did not condemn this atrocity several times, we can't conclude from his one denunciation of it that he opposed Jehu's actions? What kind of logic is that? How many times must one express disapproval of something before it can be known that he disapproved of it?
Since whether Hosea did indeed condemn this atrocity once, if at all, is the issue at hand, this is here simply assuming what needs to be proved, and again, one does not prove an argument by appealing to that argument. Other than that, it is revealing to read the book of Hosea in its entirety. Over and over and over, the cause for denunciation is the faithlessness of Israel. Not another word is said about this supposed condemnation for killing the Ahabites.
Now it is POSSIBLE that Hosea mentions this just once and never goes back to it, but we had better have a good reason for saying that there is a sudden change in subject rather than a consistent message, once the writer has set a theme.
In this case, the birth of the three children sets the theme for the rest of the oracle, which is TOTALLY about Israel's faithlessness. These children were born of a faithless marriage; likewise, each of the events that they are named for MUST (to maintain the parallelism) be a result of faithlessness to God. If it were actually about both that AND the bad acts of the house of Jehu in regards to the massacre, then it would be most sensible to expect Hosea to come back to the BOTH issues, not just keep harping on about one of them and ignore the other.
Hosea's use of the present tense throughout his book indicates that his focus was on "sins" that were contemporary to his times, but his reference in 1:4 to the past actions of Jehu clearly indicates his disapproval of what Jehu had done and expressed his prediction that Yahweh would punish the house of Jehu for the "blood of Jezreel."
Again, this assuming what needs to be proved: That 1:4 is indeed a reference to Jehu's specific doings.
... [It] is completely compatible with the thinking of the times to suppose that Hosea, seeing in contemporary political affairs the impending end of the kingdom of Israel, put the blame on a well known bloody massacre from Israel's past and attributed the end of Israel to the blood that Jehu shed at Israel.
Where is this found in the text of Hosea? It isn't, except by assuming what needs to be proved. We readily grant that this explanation makes some sense in the given social context; but even so, where is this found in the book of Hosea, other than by assuming what needs to be proven? It does not sufficiently overcome the facts that the condemnations in Hosea outside of our verse in issue are 100% composed of condemnations against idolatry and the sinful faithlessness of the people in the present time - and we need a lot more than speculation and circular reasoning to overturn the fact that this makes it all the more likely that Hosea 1:4 is in regards to these things and that time as well.
Anderson and Freeman say:
There is no reason to suppose that Hosea's view of Israel's history in relation to its God was significantly different from that of the biblical historians (the Kings writers - ed.) or the prophets who preceded or were contemporary with him.
There isn't? What about the fact that the "biblical historian" who wrote 2 Kings heaped praise on Jehu's actions at Jezreel, as we have repeatedly seen, but the prophet Hosea expressed disapproval of it by identifying it as the reason why Yahweh was going to bring the kingdom of Israel to an end? Would that be sufficient reason to "suppose that Hosea's view of Israel's history in relation to its God was significantly different from that of the biblical historian's"?
This is yet another argument in a circle. The reason that we can suppose that Hosea's view of history is different is - that it is different, here in the verse we are concerned with. We will also see that the Kings writer was far from "heaping" praise, and the issue, by the way, is the respective writers' reactions to idolatry - not the Jezreel incident.
Anderson and Freeman say:
In this case as well, we may suppose his full agreement with the thundering condemnation of Ahab and his house, and the necessity for the violent overthrow of that infamous regime. While, therefore he, along with other prophets and historians, could approve Jehu's action in overthrowing the house of Ahab, that in itself does not require automatic approval of Jehu and his dynasty in other matters.
Forget about Jehu's "dynasty in other matters," because the context of Hosea 1:4 makes no reference to anyone in Jehu's dynasty. It cited only the "blood of Jezreel" as the reason why the house of Jehu would be punished. The text said that Yahweh would avenge THE BLOOD OF JEZREEL on the house of Jehu. Nothing was said about what anyone else in the house of Jehu had done after Jezreel.
First of all, we cannot simply "forget" about Jehu's dynasty in other matters because it is the ENTIRE book of Hosea that is considered in this argument - not just 1:4, which is EXCLUDED from the argument by reason of it being the very thing at issue. And outside of 1:4, there is indeed condemnation for what the current administration of the house of Jehu was up to. Most of Hosea is directed towards the general population of Israel, but check out these couple of condemnations on the local royalty:
Hos. 5:1 Hear this, you priests! Pay attention, you Israelites! Listen, O royal house! This judgment is against you: You have been a snare at Mizpah, a net spread out on Tabor.
And what are Mizpah and Tabor? They are places where idolatry was practiced - and idolatry is an issue at hand in the oracle (5:1-7). There are also a few more condemnations of idolatry in the book that concern the royals. (Notably 8:6-7 - referring to the golden calf.) Next check this out, regarding the people of Israel:
Hos. 7:3-7 They delight the king with their wickedness, the princes with their lies. They are all adulterers, burning like an oven whose fire the baker need not stir from the kneading of the dough till it rises. On the day of the festival of our king the princes become inflamed with wine, and he joins hands with the mockers. Their hearts are like an oven; they approach him with intrigue. Their passion smolders all night; in the morning it blazes like a flaming fire. All of them are hot as an oven; they devour their rulers. All their kings fall, and none of them calls on me.
It sounds like God is unhappy with the royalty for taking delight in the sins of the people. So where is Jezreel is all this? Where's Jehu? The issue never comes back, and it strains credulity to say that Hosea would set, at the very beginning of his collection of oracles, something thematically UNLIKE what he says in the rest of the book, and that he would have an interminable focus on present sins throughout his book.
Anderson and Freeman say:
Thus the historian condemns Jehu and his house in the stereotyped fashion after granting the inexorable divine oracle and promise. The house of Jehu has turned out to be no different from the house of Omri; it will come to the same bloody end for the same reasons.
Now all that they need to do is to find a biblical text that states this, but they can't do it. The biblical "historian" clearly stated that Jehu had "done well in exercising that which [was] right" in Yahweh's eyes and that he had done to the house of Ahab "according to ALL that was in [Yahweh's] heart" (2 Kings 10:30).
Well, what about 2 Kings 10:31 - the quite stereotyped condemnation of the Kings writer on Jehu - and the condemnations in Hosea cited above, condemning the current royal house (Jehu's) for sins that match precisely in nature those of the house of Ahab?
Second, no one is saying that "approval of Jehu's actions at Jezreel were conditional on the good behavior of his descendants." Jehu's actions at Jezreel aren't even on the ticket. What IS on the ticket is the blessing of the four generations on the throne - the last of which, Zechariah, might have lasted a bit longer or come to a more peaceful end had the house of Jehu kept up good behavior; but instead, since they behaved overall no differently than their predecessors - they got the same thing their predecessors did.
Anderson and Freeman say that Hosea:
...viewed the behavior of Jehu in a dual light; in the very act of carrying out the divine judgment against the house of Ahab, he overstepped the bounds of his mandate and showed that arrogance and self-righteousness which was the undoing of the preceding dynasty.
Andersen and Freedman may regard Jehu's actions in this way, but one thing they cannot do is cite scriptural references that state that Jehu "overstepped the bounds of his mandate."
First, it is more precisely that Anderson and Freeman say that Hosea saw things that way, not that they saw it that way; but even so, here, the "mandate" referred to is the one to kill the house of Ahab - and as we say, they agree with us in seeing the acts of Jehu as overstepping those bounds, in particular where the 42 princes are concerned.
...As far as biblical history is concerned, it recorded no massacre of Jehu's descendants. Jeroboam II, the fourth-generation descendant of Jehu, was assassinated by Shallum (2 Kings 15:8-12), and this ended the reign of the dynasty that Jehu began. The Bible, however, records
no massacre of all of Jehu's descendants, and I can see no reason to interpret Hosea 1:4 to mean that the prophet was saying that all of the descendants of Jehu would die in a violent massacre like the one that he performed at Jezreel.
We may readily recognize this as argument from silence, but we can actually go a step further. True enough: The Kings writer records no such decimation of the house of Jehu (And incidentally, it was King Zechariah, not Jeroboam II, who was the one assassinated by Shallum to end the Jehu dynasty), but a clear understanding of the social context of the assassination makes it a high historical probability that Shallum went on to get rid of anyone else that was in Zachariah's house - because anyone who was left would be the first in line to try a counter-coup. The social constraints of the ANE, indeed, made it foolish to NOT eliminate all the members of the house that you took the throne from; so that, while no explicit record is made of such a destruction, it is not a hazardous assumption to suppose that the rest of Zachariah's house was put to the sword not long after the assassination.
2 Kings Perspective
Summary of argument: Jehu, if he is condemned by Hosea, is condemned because of his excesses in going beyond the command of God by killing more people than he was supposed to.
Our material shall follow to a greater degree an outline previously set forth by Glenn Miller in his own exposition on this subject. Miller offered a listing of eight actions taken by Jehu. Some of these were within the parameters of Jehu's commission; others were not. In those others, Jehu exceeded the command to destroy only the house of Ahab.
An argument we wish to bring across is that within the literary context of 2 Kings, verses 10:29-31, the "done well" comment applies to the actions taken by Jehu regarding the destruction of preists of Baal, whereas the "in accordance" refers only to what was done to the house of Ahab - with no direct comment on what was done extracurricularly. Although he eventually posits that it does refer to the deeds done to the house of Ahab, Mullen [Mull.DynJehu, 198-9] notes that "the stylized nature of the phrase makes it difficult to define 'what is right' in specific terms..." We suggest, then, along with Provan [Prov.12K, 216], that another interpretive option is available.
Verses 30-1 operate as a fully independent literary unit in context; they act as a summary of what has gone on before. The "done well" response has nothing to do with Jehu's political actions whatsoever. The literary form of the passage, as well as the literary separation of the actions relative to the house of Ahab, indicates that the "done well" praise is in reference ONLY to Jehu's Baal-bashing coterie, for this is a significant event in the preceding material that had nothing to do with the house of Ahab.
Obviously, the writer was upset with Jehu's failure to stamp out the worship of false gods completely. How reasonable is it, then, to believe that this writer in a context in which he expressed disapproval of some of Jehu's actions would not have mentioned at all an offense so grievous that Yahweh would someday destroy the house of Jehu for it?
By the same logic, we may ask why Hosea, if he was indeed displeased with Jehu's actions, was not more clear and detailed about it himself.
Even so, the answer is found in the style of the Kings' writer. Our writer is of a dry and disconnected nature - he reports atrocities and beneficences with equally flat sentiment. "The writer of 2 Kings was not concerned to pass judgments of a political or sociological nature on the events he is describing." [Hobb.2K, 119] It is not his nature to comment, except for the monotonous, summary repetition of whether a king did good or evil in the eyes of the Lord which was applied to all of the kings evaluated, and he generally lets the data speak for itself without need for further explanation.
That being so, we should not expect any such explicit condemnatory comments. For the Kings writer, readers are intelligent enough to understand (especially living as they did in the same religious and socio-political world) that Jehu's piling of his enemies' heads in front of the city was an unwarranted tactic of terror; they did not need it spelled out for them that Jehu went beyond God's orders in certain of his actions; they did not deem it necessary at the conclusion of events to recap by saying, "Jehu was told to do A, B and C; but he did A, B, C, D and E, which was more than he was supposed to do, and that was wrong."
No, they did not need such superfluous commentary; no more than we need a narrator of World War II films featuring visions of Auschwitz reminding us that what we are seeing, by the way, is bad.
And Jehovah said unto Jehu, Because thou hast done well in executing that which is right in mine eyes, [AND] hast done unto the house of Ahab according to all that was in my heart, thy sons of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel.
Of this, it may be said:
Let's notice that the conjunction "and," which connects what you argue were two separate actions, is not in the Hebrew text. Hence, if you want to talk about the "literary form" of the passage, you should consider that the absence of the conjunction in this verse is a very strong indication that the second statement was intended as an appositive of the
The probable sense of the passage would be accurately represented if it read like this: "And Jehovah said unto Jehu, 'Because thou hast done well in executing that which is right in mine eyes BY DOING unto the house of Ahab according to all that was in my heart, thy sons of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel." This is the case, because the "liteary-form" demands that the two clauses be separated by a coordination junction. Since there is no coordinate conjunction in the original, it is more probable that the writer intended for the last clause to be a restatement of the first in order to emphasize the extent of Yahweh's approval of what Jehu had done.
Where isjustification for saying what the "probable sense" of the passage is, according to the vagaries of the Hebrew? There is none -- this is simply calling up rules of ENGLISH usage and applying to the Hebrew.
But for the sake of argument, let's allow that this passage works the way that this says it does, for it might indeed be true in this case under the rules of parallelism in Hebrew:
Let's notice that the conjunction "and," which connects what you argue were two separate actions, is not in the Hebrew text. Hence, if you want to talk about the "literary form" of the passage, you should consider that the absence of the conjunction in this verse is a very strong indication that the second statement was intended as an appositive of the first. Appositives are linguistic equivalents of that which was said before them. If I should say, "John Smith, the superintendent of schools, is my brother-in-law," the expression "the superintendent of schools" would be in apposition to John Smith. In other words, John Smith is the superintendent of schools, and the superintendent of schools is John Smith. The two are the same. Appositives can at times be more complex than this simple example and can even take the form of separate clauses. If someone should ask a friend what she bought at the mall yesterday, the friend might say, "I didn't buy anything, didn't spend a dime." In such a scenario, who would think that the friend was relating two separate actions? Anyone with common sense would know that the last statement was in apposition to the first. The friend didn't buy anything; the friend didn't spend a dime.
So then, it may be argued:
The literary form of this verse makes it far more likely that the two statements were intended as one and the same thing, and parallelisms (a type of apposition) are a part of the Hebrew literary form.
The argument, basically, is that "thou hast done well in executing that which is right in mine eyes" is an exact equal to, "hast done unto the house of Ahab according to all that was in my heart." But our argument is that Jehu did nasty things to people OUTSIDE the house of Ahab, and that THAT (if anything related to 2 Kings) is the source of the condemnation in Hosea. In other words, even IF the second phrase is an appositive for the first, then it is right in line with our own arguments. What Jehu "done unto the house of Ahab" was just fine: It's what he did to folks OUTSIDE of Ahab's house - Ahaziah, the 42 princes, and the priests and political supporters, as well as the above-and-beyond piling of the heads for the sake of political terror - that we argue is the source of condemnation under the established parameters. In order for this argument to work, one must show that these parties listed were part of the grouping established in the second phrase.
...we are asked to believe that Yahweh thought that Jehu's approval of the golden calves warranted condemnation twice within the space of three verses but that an excessive massacre that would result eventually in Yahweh's destruction of the house of Jehu wasn't worth even hinting at.
There is a big problem, though, with the claim that "approval of the golden calves warranted condemnation twice within three verses..." Aside from the fact that "approval" is not actually indicated ("indifference" is the most we can read from the text), the calves are mentioned specifically in only ONE of those verses - verse 29. This is appropriate, for it caps the account of the Baal-bash, in which the Kings writer recounts the destruction of the priests of Baal, and specifically the destruction of the sacred stone of Baal and the dismantling of the temple of Baal for later use as a latrine.
However, lest the reader think that Jehu was a model idol-smasher because of this particular work against Baal's preists, the Kings writer at once tosses water on the idea by pointing out that, despite the event, Jehu left in place the most significant idols of all: The golden calves.
On the other hand, our second verse, 10:31, makes no mention of the golden calves at all - instead, it is a repeat of the Kings writer's summary condemnation of all of the idolatrous kings, saying only that Jehu was not careful to keep the law of the Lord and did not turn away from the "sins" of Jeroboam - which is inclusive of much more than simply the golden calves. In other words, verses 29 and 31 are not identical, but fraternal, twins: The former done as a clarification of how far Jehu's zeal really went (in this case, it went as far as political expediency permitted.), and the latter was just the status quo and summary repetition of the Kings writer, applied to every king of Israel who failed.
Finally, with an understanding the intent of the Kings writer and his nature, his lack of explicit condemnation of Jehu's excess is not unbelievable at all. The writer of 2 Kings is of a dry and disconnected nature; he is quite methodical and even predictable in his presentation, as the consistent parallels among his descriptions of each king's reign demonstrate. The excessive massacre was an event which he simply recounted and allowed to speak for itself, as he did any other evil actions that stood outside his standard paradigm.
In response to my observation that the Kings' writer "is of a dry and disconnected nature" and therefore was not concerned to pass judgments other than his monotonous, summary repetitions, I am accused of "incredible ignorance of this book" and then offered is 2 Kings 21:1-2 --.
Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign; he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Hephzibah. He did what was evil in the sight of Yahweh, following the abominable practices of the nations that Yahweh drove out before the people of Israel.
And then it is said:
So did the writer of 2 Kings settle just for this "monotonous, summary repetition" of Manasseh's having done that which was evil in the sight of Yahweh? Hardly! He went on to give a pretty thorough catalog of Manasseh's sins.
From there, quotes are offered from the following verses:
For he rebuilt the high places that his father Hezekiah had destroyed; he erected altars for Baal, made a sacred pole, as King Ahab of Israel had done, worshiped all the host of heaven, and served them. He built altars in the house of Yahweh, of which Yahweh had said, "In
Jerusalem I will put my name." He built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the
house of Yahweh. He made his son pass through fire; he practiced soothsaying and augury,
and dealt with mediums and with wizards. He did much evil in the sight of Yahweh, provoking him to anger. The carved image of Asherah that he had made he set in the house of
which Yahweh said to David and to his son Solomon, "In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put my name forever; I will not cause the feet of Israel to wander any more out of the land that I gave to their ancestors, if only they will be careful to do according to all that I have commanded them, and according to all the law that my
servant Moses commanded them."
The critic apparently feels here that this itemization somehow overcomes the objection that the Kings writer is of a dry, disconnected nature. Hardly so. A bare listing of anything is usually of a monotonous and summary nature, and even this list of Manasseh's sins above is a list without extended commentary, one that leaves it to the reader to realize, "Yes, this was pretty wicked stuff" rather than making any effort to point it out especially.
In other words, this is right in line with the methods of the Kings writer, just as I have argued: It just so happens that Manasseh's list was longer than that of most of the other kings. But as far as being dry and disconnected, it is exactly that. It is a listing that is allowed to speak for itself: No one had to be told over and again that consulting wizards and building pagan altars was bad news.
Then this verse is offered:
But they did not listen; Manasseh misled them to do more evil than the nations had done that Yahweh destroyed before the people of Israel.
And is is said:
I would say that this last statement was much more than just "a monotonous, repetition" of whether Manasseh had done evil. It was a ringing indictment of his evil.
This is simply off the mark. This indictment is simple and to the point, like the rest of Kings. Compared to the mouthfuls of description found in other indictment-type texts of the period (for example, the prophetic works of Hosea), this is tame, dull, and rather unexciting.
Yahweh said by his servants the prophets, "Because King Manasseh of Judah has committed these abominations, has done things more wicked than all that the Amorites did, who were before him, and has caused Judah also to sin with his idols; therefore thus says Yahweh, the God of Israel, I am bringing upon Jerusalem and Judah such evil that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle. I will stretch over Jerusalem the measuring line for Samaria, and the plummet for the house of Ahab; I will wipe Jerusalem as one wipes a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down. I will cast off the remnant of my heritage, and give them into the hand of their enemies; they shall become a prey and a spoil to all their enemies, because they have done what is evil in my sight and have provoked me to anger, since the day their ancestors came out of Egypt, even to this day."
It is right that I "could say, of course, that the foregoing passage was merely a
repetition of what Yahweh had said about Manasseh through the prophets..." This is a fully independent literary unit that finds it's source in the words of God, not the Kings writer, who apparently had to consult up a prophet of God to get this more emotive selection - he certainly didn't produce it himself.
So what can a critic say in reply to this? That "the following statement (verse) clearly expresses the view of the writer himself" :
Moreover Manasseh shed very much innocent blood, until he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another, besides the sin that he caused Judah to sin so that they did what was evil in the sight of Yahweh. Now the rest of the acts of Manasseh, all that he did, and the sin that
he committed, are they not written in the Book of the Annals of the Kings of Judah? Manasseh slept with his ancestors, and was buried in the garden of his house, in the garden of Uzza. His son Amon succeeded him.
Of which it is said:
Saying that a king had shed "much innocent blood, until he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another" is certainly more than a "monotonous, summary repetition" of whether the king had done evil.
Yes, as a matter of fact, it is. The Kings writer does refer to bloodshed, but that he packs it away in a single half-sentence (a "summary") and then goes on to engage his usual summary reference to the nation's historical annals and the place of the king's burial seems to me to be a sign of a very, VERY straightforward, summary nature. It just so happens here that this was a special aspect of Manasseh's reign that was to be highlighted; had the other kings done the same, it would have been pointed out as well, but what we have here is nothing but a most basic description that fits right in with the monotonous and summarizing nature of the Kings writer.
It would be rather comparable to saying, in a history of Cambodia: "Pol Pot shed a lot of innocent blood, until he had filled Cambodia from end to another" - and then saying nothing else about the subject. To reduce genocide to the level of a summary today would be regarded as, at the very least, insensitive; at worst it would be completely heartless. It was not quite that way in the time of the Kings writer, but the point remains the same: This is indeed a summary.
From here, one may go on to make the same sort of argument re lists of righteous deeds for King Josiah, and the answer is the same; one may also point out two passing references to Manasseh later on in the book, and details of Ahaz's reign that are listed - supposedly proving that the Kings writer was not into summary and monotony and was not an "impassionate" writer, but rather one, we are to suppose, who poured his heart and soul into what he wrote. But this again fails utterly to conceive of this literature in its social and literary context. Making bare lists without commentary is not an indication of passion, any more than making out a grocery list, or balancing his checkbook.
Lest a point be missed, let me make something clear. It may be said:
The list of Josiah's specific acts of righteousness continued on through 20 more verses, but these are sufficient to show that (Holding) is wrong in saying that it wasn't the style of the writer of 2 Kings to go into details about the right and wrong that kings did except to speak in "monotonous, summary repetitions" of whether the kings did good or evil. All anyone has to do is actually read this book to see that the writer was quite often very specific in recording the righteous and unrighteous acts of kings.
Let's look at what I actually said again:
Our writer is of a dry and disconnected nature - he reports atrocities and beneficences with equally flat sentiment. "The writer of 2 Kings was not concerned to pass judgments of a political or sociological nature on the events he is describing." [Hobb.2K, 119] It is not his nature to comment, except for the monotonous, summary repetition of whether a king did good or evil in the eyes of the Lord which was applied to all of the kings evaluated, and he generally lets the data speak for itself without need for further explanation. That being so, we should not expect any such explicit condemnatory comments as Skeptic X suggests.
The point being: We wanted to know how reasonable it was to suppose that the Kings writer would not condemn explicitly something that God was displeased with (the extracurricular killings). I pointed out that the Kings writer, with the exception of the summary repetitions re "good or evil", is not the sort to do this - he almost exclusively lets the data speak for itself. The Israelites knew the rules: If someone committed adultery, and the Kings writer reported it, they knew it was a violation; they did not need notice of it being a violation made repetitively explicit. And so it is, indeed, for every one of the cites that may be offered as supposed proof of the Kings writers' passion. All right, so the Kings writer makes huge lists of what the kings did, right and wrong. So what? Where's the passion in that? He makes the lists, but he doesn't make explicit comments of condemnation or praise outside of his summaries; he just lets the data speak for itself.
Let's take, for example, the big list of Manasseh's sins:
For he rebuilt the high places that his father Hezekiah had destroyed; he erected altars for Baal, made a sacred pole, as King Ahab of Israel had done, worshiped all the host of heaven, and served them.
Lots of passion here? Really hot stuff? Did the readers need to be TOLD that this was wicked? Did the Kings writer go on apply all sorts of nasty adjectives to Manasseh? No - there is no more explicit condemnation here than there is in the references to what Jehu did to the folks outside Ahab's house. This is a list that is allowed to speak for itself in the given social context, and it needed no editorial decoration. All we have here is a standard list, and a standard comparison to previous kings.
He built altars in the house of Yahweh, of which Yahweh had said, "In Jerusalem I will put my name." He built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of Yahweh.
This is probably the most patently offensive thing (from a Jewish perspective) that Manasseh did on the entire list, and yet our Kings writer pokes over it in just TWO sentences. Frankly, if someone set up a pagan altar in your church, I think you'd be in flames about it and write more than just two sentences with NO inflammatory prose whatsoever when the time came to write an account of the matter.
He made his son pass through fire; he practiced soothsaying and augury, and dealt with mediums and with wizards.
It's bad stuff, really bad, but where are all the horrifying adjectives? The best we get is this next sentence:
He did much evil in the sight of Yahweh, provoking him to anger.
Manasseh did all of these horrible things, things which cut into the very heart of Judaism; and yet - this is it? A short echo of the usual, "he did evil in the eyes of the Lord" refrain? If anyone finds any passion in this, they must lead a pretty dull life!
The carved image of Asherah that he had made he set in the house of which Yahweh said to David and to his son Solomon, "In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put my name forever; I will not cause the feet of Israel to wander any more out of the land that I gave to their ancestors, if only they will be careful to do according to all that I have commanded them, and according to all the law that my servant Moses commanded them."
And that's the close of the list, a bit more detail on the above - and here the Kings writer even lets someone else speak for him rather than creating his own commentary. Passion? The Kings writer, whoever he was, couldn't have taken the ice off of a soft drink in the Sahara. He's dull, he's repetitious, he's concise, he's monotonous, he's direct, he's impassionate - and that's because he was imitating the style of imperial annals, works so dull that they made good sleep aids (cf. Esth. 6:1 - I mean this literally).
A couple of asides that merit some attention:
This is the god whose cause Holding and Miller have taken up, and they expect us to believe that such a god as this would be so inconsistent that he would overlook Jehu's refusal to stamp out the worship of the golden calves but was so angered at Jehu's excesses in eradicating the house of Ahab that Yahweh later exterminated Jehu's lineage....
This, again, is hardly relevant to our situation, but let's be fair and address the one point: How could God condemn Jehu's line for this excess when He put judgment upon others for these lesser offenses? Well, to begin of course, we will argue that there is not any such condemnation offered at all; but further, if someone wants to suggest here that it ought to have been for the golden calves that a judgment should have been given, then it hardly helps the case here.
The majority of the kings of Israel left those calves standing, along with a host of other pagan altars, and were not judged with death for that reason. One may suggest that Uzzah, Nahab, Jehu, etc. were all directly responsible for their offenses, and/or desecrated an actual holy object of God, and/or disobeyed directly an order of God; whereas, with the golden calves, the OT kings after Jeroboam were only marginally responsible (the continued presence of the pagan altars was a corporate sin of the people of Israel) and did not directly involve such objects.
Second Kings 9:1-10 clearly states that Yahweh selected Jehu to be king of Israel and sent him to completely destroy the house of Ahab, so we have every reason to wonder why an omniscient, omnipotent deity would have selected for a mission like this someone who would himself form a dynasty that would grow "hopelessly corrupt" and require extermination just
as Ahab's dynasty.
To which I say: Does the critic have a better candidate in mind?
2 Kings Praise?
For the purpose of the remainder of this essay we shall continue under the assumption that Hosea did indeed offer condemnation of some sort in the avenge/punish sense. We will find that even then, the critical exegetical construct is a highly substandard one. We will analyze, in the following order (according to their length), responses to the remaining three items from Miller:
2. The killing of Ahaziah
7. The killing to 42 princes of Judah
6. The killing of Ahab's supporters, who were not his descendants
In a supplemental reply, a critic advanced the following argument. Noting that the parallel account of Ahaziah's death in 2 Chron. 22:6-9 indicates that Ahaziah walked in the ways of the house of Ahab, and that his death was "ordained by God," it is said:
So if Yahweh was so miffed as the house of Ahab that he would have commissioned Jehu to go and kill every male, both BOND AND FREE, in the house of Ahab, he surely wouldn't have minded if Jehu threw in Ahaziah for good measure and killed him too.
...If Ahaziah's downfall was ordained by God, then it wasn't very nice of God to cut off the house of Jehu's century later for Jehu's massacre of Ahaziah.
Ahaziah, though a grandson of Jezebel and a potential avenger of his brother-in-law Joram, was not of the house of Ahab; he was of his own house in Judah, in line with the social rules of the time regarding households. (Of course, had he somehow been part of the house of Ahab, then Jehu would have been obliged by his commission to get rid of Ahaziah's slaves, servants, etc. - see below - but there's no sign of THAT kind of action in the text, which is significant since it would have required an invasion of Judah to pull off.) Therefore, in killing Ahaziah, Jehu went beyond what God ordered - period. That it fit in with what God ordained is irrelevant, and proof of nothing more than that:
- As might be expected, the will of an omnipotent deity is done regardless of what irritating actions of rebellion we might take.
- The fact that according to the Israelite mindset, God is the source of primary causality. Death, even if by accident or disease, was ultimately by the decree of Yahweh, and an unexplained or untimely death (like Ahaziah's) was always thought of as a sentence. Hence the Chronicles writer simply reflects the common Israelite belief of his day and in no way reflects upon the matter of Jehu's obedience or lack thereof.
Moreover, this can be said: Advancing such "logic" as this, one (even a state-appointed executioner) could justify entering into a maximum-security prison and killing every inmate on death row, then shrugging it off with the maxim, "It was what the state had ordained anyway. I'm sure they wouldn't mind." Such logic offers nothing in the way of an actual answer to the fact that in killing Ahaziah, Jehu exceeded his commission. It was by all means a course of political wisdom, but it plainly was done in violation of Jehu's orders. (And of course, we argue that the condemnation was not JUST for the killing of Ahaziah.)
It may be remarked in reply that the Kings writer says nothing about this being an error by Jehu -- but that would be because he didn't NEED to, no more than he needed to say "this was an error" of many other heinous deeds recorded therein.
...Ahaziah of Judah was the grandson of Jezebel, and as such, he was a descendant of Ahab and would have been considered part of the house of Ahab.
A critic goes on to argue further on this line, but there is no need for us to go further. As we will show below, in terms of the social rules of this time regarding households, Ahaziah was NOT considered part of the house of Ahab. Yes, Ahaziah was the grandson of Jezebel; but he was the son of Athaliah, who married someone (Jehoram) in the house of Judah - and thus became PART of that house, and no longer was part of the house of Ahab. Just as in modern times our convention is that a woman who marries takes on the surname of her spouse, and in line with the command in Genesis to "cleave unto the husband" and leave the original family, so it is that a woman of that time became part of the house she married into.
Likewise, to use a popular example, Princes Charles did not join the House of Spencer when he married Diana; she joined the House of Windsor.
Regarding the Chronicles paralell, concerning the Israelite mindset, it is said:
Well, I certainly agree with this statement. The "Israelite mindset" was such that the hand of Yahweh was seen in everything; however, if something happened purely by accident and an Israelite writer said that it was "of God" or "from God," would that not be an error?
The answer is: No. This fails to understand here the point regarding primary causality. This could evolve into a discussion regarding free will, predestination, etc. - it has parallels in modern discussions regarding God's soverignty - but let's make it simple by cutting to the quick. The critic agrees that the "Israelite mindset" ("Semitic mindset" would be more accurate, but we won't quibble) saw the hand of Yahweh in all things. Fine. Now let's suppose that Jehu's commission had been as follows:
Jehu got up and went into the house. Then the prophet poured the oil on Jehu's head and declared, "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 'I anoint you king over the Lord's people Israel. You are to destroy the house of Ahab your master, and I will avenge the blood of my servants the prophets and the blood of all the Lord's servants shed by Jezebel. The whole house of Ahab will perish. I will cut off from Ahab every last male in Israel--slave or free. I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam son of Nebat and like the house of Baasha son of Ahijah. As for Jezebel, dogs will devour her on the plot of ground at Jezreel, and no one will bury her. But be sure that you do not touch anyone outside of the house of Ahab. Do not kill Ahaziah king of Judah or anyone connected to him.'" Then he opened the door and ran, because a lecture by Skeptic X was about to start.
So - let's suppose that we have this clear statement, and things nevertheless go the same way - Jehu kills Ahaziah and all the rest, thus disobeying his commission in a quite clear way. Question: Would the Chronicles writer have still said that Ahaziah's death was "ordained by God"?
Yes, of course - no Jew could think of any event happening that was not ordained by God, and the critic is right about it being part of the mindset. In terms of primary causality, though, events required no specific act from God, and nothing was viewed as an "accident" in cosmic terms - merely as an event that fell within the proper scheme of things according to what was just and right.
This had no bearing on whether or not any humans involved had anything to do with it, and whether they were properly involved, which is where the matter of Jehu stepping in and taking his part without orders comes into play. This expression sees Jehu as no more acting under specific divine direction than a disease, a flood, or a rock falling off of a cliff - but none of these were considered "accidents" outside of divine purview and supervision (that is, they were not "accidents" in a cosmic sense - they could still be regarded as "accidents" in a human sense), for they were under the rubric of primary causality.
Thus it is incorrect to indicate that 2 Chron. 22:7 would be in error, for that fails to understand the social and theological concept behind the remark. There were no "accidents" except in the sense that humans could not themselves control the cause - but there could be disobedience. That leads back to my first point, which is that the Semitic mind perceived that what God wanted would be done, regardless of whether He was obeyed or not.
It is said that my prison analogy is "imperfect" because:
...if an official account of my massacre of "every inmate on death row," say, an account written by the governor or a proclamation issued by the state legislature, should say, "Now the
destruction of the prison inmates was 'of [from] the legislature' or 'of [from] the governor,' to say the very least, this statement would be an expression of approval of the massacre. If not, why not?
Why not? Because the legislature/governor (the latter is most appropriate here) would ALSO have a regulation that gives THEM the power to decide when execution would take place - and the two would have to be taken together, just as Chronicles and Kings have to be taken together, especially if we agree (as few do not) that the writer of Chronicles used Kings as a source for his material.
Yes, the analogy is not perfect, of course, because a governor is not in charge of primary causality for his state, much less the universe - no analogy would be perfect in this scenario. My core point, however, is unaffected. Jehu acted outside his commission, and in terms of the mindset under which this was written, there is neither error nor contradiction involved.
Following this, the matter returns to a point re Ahaziah as grandson of Ahab. It is claimed that the Kings writer considered Ahaziah to be part of the house of Ahab because of these words in 2 Kings 8:25-27 (and a parallel in 2 Chron. 22) --
In the twelfth year of King Joram son of Ahab of Israel, Ahaziah son of King Jehoram of Judah began to reign. Ahaziah was twenty-two years old when he began to reign; he reigned one
year in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Athaliah, a granddaughter of King Omri of Israel. He also walked in the way of the house of Ahab, doing what was evil in the sight of Yahweh, as the house of Ahab had done, for he was son-in-law to the house of Ahab.
We see in the last statement that Ahaziah's "evil" ways were attributed to the fact that he was a "son-in-law to the house of Ahab." Thus, this writer considered Ahaziah to be a part of the house of Ahab.
False -- this says nothing about Ahaziah being a member of the house of Ahab; it says that he was related by marriage to the house of Ahab, which is not the same thing, no more so than Charles being related by marriage to the house of Spencer made him part of the house of Spencer - the point being, that Ahaziah picked up on the evil ways by marriage, having been influenced by his marriage partner's family. (The actual word used here is chathan, meaning a relative by marriage, especially through the bride.)
This does not identify Ahaziah as part of the house of Ahab, nor do the social constraints and definitions of the time permit such identification. Only birth brought a male into a given house; relation by marriage did not - though this did not mean one could not pick up bad habits from one's in-laws, and picking up those bad habits did not make one part of the social unit of the "house" either.
After this, we have a citing 1 Kings 16:10-11, noting again the parallel to the command to make the house of Ahab like the house of Baasha:
Zimri came in and struck him [Elah, Baasha's son] down and killed him, in the twenty-seventh year of King Asa of Judah, and succeeded him. When he began to reign, as soon as he had seated himself on his throne, he killed all the house of Baasha; he did not leave him a single male of his KINDRED or his friends.
Critics believe that "kindred" here can equate with what Ahaziah was to the house of Ahab, but that is still not a proper social definition. The question to be settled is whether one of Ahaziah's distance and relationship is indeed considered to be "kindred" (ga'al - it refers, actually, to "next of kin" and those who would avenge Baasha's death, which would be the nearest relatives, and most likely any brothers or sons that he had - whether a grandson by a daughter's marriage [as with Ahaziah] would fit this category is indeed questionable) in this case, and within the "house" in question.
Claim is made that Ahaziah "was a grandson of Ahab, which would certainly have been a kinsman," but this again ignores the rules of the day regarding what constituted a "house" within which "kinsmen" existed - and ignores also the possibility that, even if this IS somehow correct in the definition, Baasha had no male "kindred" who existed outside of his "house". In other words, in order to make this argument work, a critic must show that Baasha had a male relative who was of equal relationship to Ahaziah and was killed in this coup by Zimri; but there is no data at all concerning the makeup of Baasha's "kindred" or family in this regard, so that this argument is a dead end. The critic is using modern familial terms and categories to describe an entirely different social situation, and advancing arguments on the back of non-evidence.
In answer to Miller's item #7, a critic advanced the following argument:
We should keep in mind that Hosea said that Yahweh would soon avenge THE BLOOD OF JEZREEL upon the house of Jehu. In other words, Yahweh's vengeance would come down on the house of Jehu because of "the blood of Jezreel." However, some of the atrocities in Miller's list above include massacres the (sic) were done outside of Jezreel...these 42 princes were not killed at Jezreel, which was located north of Samaria.
And so, we are told, because this massacre was not at Jezreel, then this event cannot be considered part of the "blood of Jezreel." But is this truly the case?
Significantly, a critic does not quote the text of 12-14 itself, which offers us some answers:
Jehu then set out and went toward Samaria. At Beth Eked of the Shepherds, he met some relatives of Ahaziah king of Judah and asked, "Who are you?" They said, "We are relatives of Ahaziah, and we have come down to greet the families of the king and of the queen mother." "Take them alive!" he ordered. So they took them alive and slaughtered them by the well of Beth Eked--forty-two men. He left no survivor.
This massacre of 42 princes, then, took place at a very specific location: Beth Eked. The usual designated site of Beth Eked is Beit Qad, about 4 miles from the city of Jezreel, close enough to Jezreel and probably literally dependent upon the larger city for its survival (within the bounds of a tribal military/protection covenant alliance), so that Hosea could easily include it within the parameters of his supposed Jezreel condemnation.
Yes, the Skeptic says; but it is still NOT Jezreel the city. Four miles could be seen as a long way. Why should we include it in these parameters?
I submit that such is a reply of the "close only counts in horseshoes" variety; again, within the bounds of a covenant alliance, Beth Eked was undoubtedly (since it was the closest large city) politically part of the city of Jezreel. But for those of a more particular bent, here is an answer:
Beth Eked is part of a larger geographic entity called Jezreel. "Jezreel" is a name not only for a specific city, but also a valley and a rather large region - one that extends from the Jordan Valley to Mount Carmel. This was an extensive territory - and Beth Eked was within the designated Jezreel Valley and in the heart of the wider Jezreel region.
It is significant in this context that Hosea would mention that Israel will be defeated in the Valley of Jezreel, which would indicate (assuming, for the sake of argument, the Skeptical interpretation of Hosea 1:4) that the city alone was not considered the single focal point of judgment.
Furthermore, Hosea had his own motive for selecting Jezreel as the focal point: Jezreel means "God sows" - and thus the point emerges from Hosea that what he describes are a result of what God sows. (In line with the above notion of paqad as "visit," the sowing could be good or bad - depending on how the house of Jehu behaves in response to the oracle.) Hosea naming his child "Jezreel" was much the same as naming a child today "Vietnam" or "Watergate" [Crai.12P, 11] - neither of which by any means requires pinpointing of/restriction to an exact geographic location for all of the events concerned. Indeed, since "Beth Eked" means "house of shearing" [sheep!], there wasn't much punch in arranging something involving THAT particular name.
Added punch in selecting "Jezreel" is the fact that in the Hebrew, a punning reference is made with "Israel" that further emphasizes the point that it is Israel that will be the subject of the "sowing." [Morr.PPH, 79] In light of this, we might well expect Hosea to restrict his comments to the central and seminal geographic entity with which Jehu's actions were associated - even in regards to what he did elsewhere and later on in the same general effort.
However we look at it, then, the massacre of the 42 princes thus remains within the geographical parameters of disobedience for Jehu and of the supposed condemnation from Hosea. (Moreover, to use Skeptical logic, is it really credible that Hosea would condemn the house of Jehu for the massacre in the city of Jezreel proper, yet have nothing to say regarding an incident in such close proximity, or of events in Samaria, where another great slaughter by Jehu took place?)
Interestingly, a critic's response to the above did indeed surprise me a bit, as he anticipated it would - he says that what I write re Beth Eked's location, he considers to be "a reasonable possibility." Even so, the critic does go on to a different argument against the 42-prince exclusion, and we progress to these at length. First I'd like to clear up a few social issues where the critic appears to be unclear on the concept. After a repeat of a previous argument re Hosea, we get to where I wrote:
Hosea naming his child "Jezreel" was much the same as naming a child today "Vietnam" or "Watergate" [Crai.12P, 11] - neither of which by any means requires pinpointing of/restriction to an exact geographic location for all of the events concerned!
To which one writes:
Let's just suppose that a modern prophet--and there are always prophets who think they know God's will--should name a child Vietnam or Watergate and then give this as his reason for so doing: "For yet a little while, God will visit on the American people the blood of Vietnam [or the iniquity of Watergate]." Would there be much doubt that this modern prophet disapproved of Vietnam or Watergate? The disapproval is the point of inconsistency, and Holding can't seem to understand this as he quibbles his way along.
The critic misses my point here, and my point following regarding Beth Eked. What I am pointing out has NOTHING to do with approval or disapproval; the whole point is (assuming for the sake of argument that Hosea has indeed actually condemned the massacre at Jezreel) the reason for Hosea selecting "Jezreel" as the focus point in a way that does not exclude places outside the city proper. That's the point I make, but it isn't the point that the critic addresses. (What he DOES address we have already covered, between our note of the need to distinguish method versus punishment, and the "Alamo Allegory" which we repaired previously.)
Then, the critic tries to bring the 42 princes under the rubric of the house of Ahab, thusly:
These "princes" were called "brethren" in 2 Kings 10:13; in 2 Chronicles 22:8, they were called "princes" and "sons of the brethren of Ahaziah." Since the Bible record states that all of Ahaziah's brothers had been killed in a raid by the Arabians (2 Chron. 21:161-7)[sic], the writer probably didn't mean that these were literal brothers of Ahaziah, so the expression "sons of the brethren of Ahaziah" could have meant nephews or some other kinsmen...
Ahaziah was a grandson of Ahab, and so, unless Jehoram of Judah had had other wives besides Athaliah (Ahab's daughter), Ahaziah's brothers would have been Ahab's "kinsmen" too, and so would their sons. At any rate, as I continue my replies, I will show that the "umbrella" mandate that was given to Jehu was broad enough to cover ANYONE who was in any way associated with kinsmen of Ahab. These 42 "princes" were found "ministering" to Ahaziah (2 Chron. 22:8), so that certainly would have made them associates or servants or friends, and as we will see, any such association with the member of a "house" was sufficient cause for extermination when Yahweh went on a rampage and ordered the extermination of that house.
So then - the argument basically is referencing the previous one about Ahaziah. The critic says that he was of the house of Ahab; therefore, those that minister to him or are related to him were also of the house of Ahab. That's a fine logical progression - assuming that the initial premise, that Ahaziah was indeed considered part of the house of Ahab, was proven correct, which we have seen is not.
So where does this leave us? With an as-yet unproven core premise, with no support at all either in the text of the Bible or in the social data of the period.
By far the most significant Skeptical argument is that related to item 6, recounting Jehu's obliteration of the house of Ahab's "great/chief men, close friends, and priests." It is also the place where the critic makes his most incredible error - and thereby proves the folly of merely comparing English translations in one's studies.
The question at hand is: Are these three parties - chief men, close friends, priests - to be considered part of the "house of Ahab"? Let us first look at how the Skeptic seeks to begin addressing the matter:
What these inerrantist quibblers have apparently never noticed is that verse 9 states that the "house of Ahab" was to be abolished in the way that the house of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, and the house of Baasha, the son of Abijah, were destroyed. I will give details of that later, but first, let's notice two things: (1) What this "son of the prophets" said upon anointing Jehu was the same as Elijah's pronouncement of doom upon the house of Ahab. (2) The word "house" as used in expressions like "the house of Ahab" or "the house of Jehu" carried a broader denotation than just the descendants of the head of the house. It also included those who were servants or associates of the head of the clan.
This follows with examples of places where someone other than a blood relation was a member of a "house": Sarah as part of Pharaoh's house, Abraham's 318 servants in his house, etc. Then it concludes:
If inerrantists would read what a good Bible dictionary or encyclopedia says about the meaning of "house" as it was used in the situations mentioned above, they would not have made the mistake of assuming that Jehu had been ordered to kill only those who were male descendants of Ahab.
Let's notice a few things here:
- First of all, I find it ironic that this critic, who has previously objected to the citation of the "Semitic mindset" and nuances in the original language, here, when it serves his own purposes, willfully adopts a viewpoint derived from such mindset/nuances. This broad use of "house," though known in a way in some of our Western monarchies (i.e., "the house of Windsor"), nevertheless reflects a uniquely ancient practice. Why is the critic here so willing to adapt explanations to the sociological and linguistic facts, but not elsewhere when it might be injurious to his case?
- As for the rhetoric re: consulting a "good Bible dictionary," etc. - there would be no need. I am well aware of this usage of "house" (Hebrew: bayith) - and that is why I am also aware that this argument is false.
What of the definition of "house"? It does indeed have a broader meaning: It may refer to an actual building, of course, but about a quarter of the OT usages imply something different or more abstract. "Building a house" means the same thing as "raising a family." "House" is even used to refer to a spider's web (Job 8:15).
While there is indeed a broader meaning available, the critic, regrettably, does not tell us what "Bible dictionary or encyclopedia" he gets his source material from. However, having consulted no less than a dozen such sources, and a variety of others - ranging in persuasion from the liberal Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible to the conservative Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary - I find, yes, references to servants being part of a "house," along with slaves (as household property), foreign guests (in line with Eastern rules of hospitality), concubines (as Sarah would have been considered in Pharaoh's house), adopted orphans, and sojourners.
What I do not find is this peculiar word that the Skeptic uses, "associates." Associates? What are these? Is this a specific socio-economic class from the Ancient Near East? The critic tries to prove his point that a "house" consisted of more than just blood relatives. He cites examples of slaves, of which there is no question in fact, but of which there is also no relevance for the Jehu case. We are not arguing that Jehu was condemned for killing slaves; we are arguing here that his condemnation was in part the result of his killing of the house of Ahab's "great men, close friends, and priests." The critic tries to slip in this trio under the rubric of the "house" along with the slaves, but the direct questions need to be asked. What of these parties? Were they part of the "house" of Ahab?
In answer, the critic first tried to explain away his use of the vague word "associates":
I used the word "associate" in explaining the inclusiveness that the expression "house of" connoted in the OT, and he apparently can't find this term in the Bible. Possibly, it didn't occur to him that I am writing in English, and in so doing, I will quite often use words that can't be found in translations of the Hebrew text, but that doesn't mean that the ideas or concepts they denote are not taught in the OT.
He is writing in English, all right, and that is precisely the problem. The English word "associate" is rather a broad term (as opposed to "slave" or "concubine", which reflect specific ANE social classes) and therefore not on the same level of specificity as the other "house members".
CAN we get more specific? An English definition of "associate" has nothing to with the specific social classes and terms represented in the Hebrew. It does not suit the far more precise words related in the Hebrew, and the critic never does get around to offering us a specific definition of what exactly constitutes a "house" - he just finds ways to absorb those he needs as he goes along.
Regarding my comment:
This massacre of 42 princes, then, took place at a very specific location: Beth Eked. The usual designated site of Beth Eked is Beit Qad, about 4 miles from the city of Jezreel, close enough to Jezreel and probably literally dependent upon the larger city for its survival (within the bounds of a tribal military/protection covenant alliance), so that Hosea could easily include it within the parameters of his supposed Jezreel condemnation. Yes, the skeptic quibbles; but it is still NOT Jezreel the city. Four miles could be seen as a long way. Why should we include it in these parameters?
Another critic commented:
Curiously the anonymous author who calls himself James Patrick Holding claims that the present day city of Tyre is not the same as the old Biblical city of Tyre because it is a mile or so away, yet he also claims that Beth Eked is part of the city of Jezreel.
The case with Tyre is far more complicated is let on here. It was not just the location of the new Tyre, but also its functional identity; furthermore, the analogy is inappropriate because of the chronological difference involved, and because of the added factor of the covenant alliance.
Now the fact that the Kings writer separates the men/friends/priests group from the "house of Ahab" grouping should indicate to us that the men/friends/priests group was not considered to be part of the house of Ahab - and is in fact the closest thing to a "condemnation" of excess that we can expect from the Kings writer in his dry, analytical style. Nevertheless, let us pursue the matter further. On the priests, it is said:
Is Holding unaware that priests were a part of the king's inner circle or entourage of advisors? He seems to be, because we will later see him arguing that priests were members of the "house of the Lord."
However, the "inner circle or entourage of advisors" and being of the "house of the Lord" did NOT equal being part of the "house" of the king. The example of David and Abiathar is irrelevant: Abiathar was NOT of the house of David, under any social definition. We do agree that "one who was seizing control of a government by force" would indeed "have exterminated those who had been close advisors and ministers of the king," and we say as much - but we do not agree that these advisors and ministers were part of the king's "house", and the critic does not even prove this point - he merely assumes it for the sake of his argument.
Following this, is this very interesting comment:
If Holding were just a bit more familiar with the Bible, he would understand that usually when coups such as Jehu's took place, no one who was in a position to pose any threat to the usurper was spared.
Yes, we know, and we agree - but what does this do to the argument above re there being no record of the destruction of the remainder of the house of Jehu following Zachariah's assassination...? And even so, how does this prove that any "great man" who could lead a coup was thereby part of the "house"? It doesn't. This is yet again merely assuming what he needs to prove.
...when Solomon succeeded David as king, he ordered the death of his half-brother Adonijah and removed Abiathar as the king's priest. Before David died, he had allegedly reminded Solomon that the faithful general Joab had killed Abner and Amasa, and so Solomon was told not to let Joab's "hoary head go down to Sheol in peace" (2 Kings 2:6). Verses 28-33 tell of Solomon's execution of David's orders.
And having set this background, the critic quotes several verses from this chapter in Kings, of which we need take notice only of these:
1 Kings 2:31, 33 And the king said unto him, Do as he hath said, and fall upon him, and
bury him; that thou mayest take away the innocent blood, which Joab shed, from ME, and from THE HOUSE OF MY FATHER...Their blood shall therefore return upon the head of Joab, and upon the head of his seed for ever: but upon David, AND UPON HIS SEED, AND UPON HIS HOUSE, and upon his throne, shall there be peace for ever from the LORD.
Notice that Solomon allegedly said in verse 31 that killing Joab would take away the innocent blood he had shed from "ME and from the house of my father." Now according to (Holding)'s logic, the separation of "me" and "the house of my father" would mean that Solomon was not a part of David's house, but that would be a ridiculous twist to put on the passage, because 2 Samuel 7:12-17 and 1 Chronicles 22:6-12 show that Solomon was not only a part of
David's house but that he was the specific "seed" through whom the throne and house of David were to be established forever.
And of the second verse:
Furthermore, verse 33 above has Solomon saying that the killing of Joab would return upon his head and his seed the blood that Joab had shed but there would be peace forever
upon "David, AND UPON HIS SEED, AND UPON HIS HOUSE." According to (Holding)'s logic, the separation of David's seed from his house would mean that David's seed was not considered a part of his house, but that too would be a ridiculous interpretation. What we have in these verses is a clear example of repetitive emphasis, and there is no reason to think that the same was not true in 2 Kings 10:11...
In 1 Kings, in both of these verses what we have is progressions in reference, not repetitive emphasis. In the first verse, it is a progression from one person ("me") to the larger group ("house"). In the second verse it is a regression from a larger group ("seed" - meaning all of Dave's descendants, present and future) to a smaller group ("house" - David's descendants [but not including those who leave the house by way of marriage] who are still alive in that day and time) to the smallest group of all, one person ("throne" - which the critic omits from his secondary analysis). No such progression or regression exists in the 2 Kings verse, which refers to groups of varying identity, and that means that the attempt to make a parallel fails.
But in fact it gets worse:
So Jehu killed all who were left of the house of Ahab in Jezreel, all his leaders, close friends, and priests, until he left him no survivor.
This version makes it sound like those groups ought to be included in the house. But a Skeptic won't quote the NIV for us:
So Jehu killed everyone in Jezreel who remained of the house of Ahab, as well as all his chief men, his close friends and his priests, leaving him no survivor.
Can't have that one up for comparison, can we? Nor the NEB or the REB, which say the same thing. But we have one more version to look at - the KJV -
So Jehu slew all that remained of the house of Ahab in Jezreel, and all his great men, and his kinsfolks, and his priests, until he left him none remaining.
The placing of an "and" before each group is the way that is most faithful to the literal Hebrew, which does the same thing. That being the case, what we obviously have here is indeed literary separation: It is a listing of groups whose members are exclusive of each other. It isn't just the first "and" that the critic has to deal with, but two more of them as well, and these make his arguments above even more irrelevant.
Now let's consider some relevant data:
- Of particular notice - and something the critic fails to notice, even though he uses the material as evidence (see below) - is the story of Zimri eliminating the house of Baasha in 1 Kings 16. Note that Zimri was one of Baasha's "officials" and that he killed Baasha's "whole family" (NIV - the word is the Hebrew bayith, as noted, equalling "house"). Obviously, though he served Baasha's house in an official capacity (he had charge of half of King Elah's chariots), Zimri was NOT part of Baasha's "house" - or else his rule would have been considered a continuation of Baasha's house. The evidence here indicates that a king's house did NOT include those who were not blood-related but were serving in an official capacity, such as Zimri.
- Similarly, Omri, the man who overthrew Zimri 7 days after he took charge, is listed as the "captain of the host." (1 Kin. 16:16) Obviously Omri was not part of the house of Baasha either, since Zimri was already have supposed to taken care of them. That is, unless we'd like to suppose that Zimri appointed Omri, sent him some 30-50 miles away to Gibbethon...and he gained the confidence of the host enough to lead them back to Tizrah against Zimri...all within that 7-day span. Needless to say, it is far more likely that Omri was already captain of the host under Baasha - and that this therefore indicates that officials of the king were NOT considered part of his bayith.
The critic's reply to these two points, especially the first, amounts to this: It's OK that Zimri was left, because God needed SOMEONE to fulfill His will, and anyway, Zimri was killed a week later, so there we go, the house of Baasha was taken care of. We "would hardly expect (God) to have Zimri fall on his sword and commit suicide so that it could be said that the house of Baasha in its entirety had fallen."
But that isn't the issue, and the answer is nothing more than a distraction. The Kings writer says that Zimri killed the WHOLE house - the entire family -- not "everyone in the house but himself." Conclusion: The Kings writer did not think that Zimri was part of the house of Baasha.
The critic cannot simply read the text any way that it suits him, and the critic's entire exposition, here and concerning Omri, misses the point and thus fails to overcome the argument. (Note also that the critic objected earlier that we could not find an "only" in the verse in 2 Kings - but here, we have something equivalent, and he STILL objects. Isn't that an inconsistency?)
Of some irony following is the objection that I am "trying to press this point to force (the critic's) broader definition of 'house' to include just anyone who was serving in the king's army, and (the critic has) certainly not indicated any such belief."
That's part of the problem: The critic has not expressed enough of a "belief" at all as to who is in a "house". He has kept his definition "broad" and elusive so that he can include (and exclude.) anyone whom he deems convenient. We use the examples of Zimri and Omri to show that those equal to the "great men" are not part of the king's house. The critic insists that there is a difference "in considering all of a king's 'great men, familiar friends, and priests' as a part of his house and considering men like Zemri and Omri members of the house of Baasha" - well, then, what is it? Who is part of the house, and why? What few answers we are given offer no logical progression whatsoever, only d speculation and arguments by convenience.
Holding seems to have lost sight of what he is arguing. He has argued that Jehu went beyond his "mandate" and killed those who weren't really a part of Ahab's house, but he can't prove this by arguing that if a "house" included every single servant and soldier in the king's service, then Baasha, Zemri, and Omri didn't go far enough in exterminating the houses of Jeroboam and Baasha because they should have killed themselves too.
The argument is not at all concerning "every single servant and soldier" but "those in a high appointed position" - like Zimri and Omri, who despite the unavoidable anachronism may be equated to our chiefs of the armed forces. We still await a definition showing us who these "great men" are and WHY they should be included in the house - when Zimri and Omri, who would have been among the king's "great men," obviously were not.
- Similarly, note within the text of our concern in 2 Kings, that in verses 1-2, Jehu writes a letter to "the officials of Jezreel" (or some manuscripts read, "the city" - more likely, since Jehu is IN Jezreel already - Jone.12K, 2/465) and to "the elders and to the guardians of Ahab's children." He tells them, "As soon as your master's sons are with you and have chariots and horses, a fortified city and weapons, choose the best and most worthy of your master's sons and set him on his father's throne. Then fight for your master's house."
Note here: The king is referred to as the "master" ('adown) of these elders and guardians that Jehu writes to. A reply comes from "the palace administrator, the city governor, the elders and the guardians" deferring to Jehu's power. They acknowledge themselves as Jehu's "servants" and that they will do his will.
Now note in verse 9 that Jehu tells the people of the city of the killing of the 70 sons, "It was I who conspired against my master ('adown) and killed him, but who killed all these?" Jehu refers to Israel's now-dead king as having been his "master" using exactly the same Hebrew word as used to describe the elders, guardians, etc. in their relation to the king. As with Zimri above, this demonstrates the existence of a class of people who served the king yet were not of his "house" - otherwise, we are left with the same sort of situation in which Jehu himself, having had the king as his "master" in his role as a commander in the Israeli army, was himself a member of the very "house" he was commissioned to destroy. Clearly, though these people served the king of Israel, they were NOT considered to be of the "house" of the king.
The critic replies to this with what comes down to the quotation of this verse, 2 Kings 10:11 --
So Jehu killed all who were left of the house of Ahab in Jezreel, all his leaders, close friends, and priests, until he left him no survivor.
Of which he says:
...Jehu killed all who were LEFT of the house of Ahab in Jezreel...until he left him [Ahab] NO SURVIVOR. No survivor of what? The statement hardly makes sense unless it is understood to mean no survivor in what could rightly be considered the house of Ahab whom Yahweh had said through Elijah would be utterly swept away.
From this the critic goes on to once again insist upon his "repetitive emphasis" interpretation of the verse, but he doesn't want us to see the versions of this verse that say "as well as" and that reflect the presence of the multiple conjunctions which indicate separation.
But there is more to it than that: The Hebrew is even more repetitive, in a way that subverts this "survivor" interpretation quite handily. Kohlenberger's interlinear translation shows us that the literal words here are: "...all of the ones remaining of house of Ahab in Jezreel and all of chief men of him and ones knowing him and priests of him until not he left to him survivor." So rather than "no survivor" referring to "no survivor of the house," this phrase means "no survivor of any of the four groups listed" - four groups which are literarily and grammatically separated from each other and allow no indication of overlap. Clearly this writer did not consider the great men, etc. to be a part of the "house".
But the critic has a second prong ready for the word 'adown. He says that he finds it "really amusing" that I "spent so much space trying to show us that paqad was an almost incomprehensible word in Hebrew" and was "now trying to put a very narrow meaning on the word ' 'adown,' which in addition to meaning 'master' also carried the sense of lord or sovereign, and it was frequently used in the OT in reference to kings and those in positions of political importance."
Yes, it was, and that is the sense in which Jehu uses it: To refer to a king, the one Jehu just killed, and we say that quite precisely. The critic somehow manages to get the idea that I am applying the word in the sense of the "master" of a slave, but where he gets this is anyone's guess.
But in terms of the rest of this objection, the critic here sets up the straw man of excess: I was not showing that paqad was "almost incomprehensible" but that it required some thinking. Moreover, the comparison is not apt, for there is a difference in our comparisons: The use of paqad across several books, applied to a variety of situations, versus for 'adown a comparison internal to the books of Kings (indeed, internal to a single episode in Kings) and used to apply to a specific and small set of people - Jehu and the elders. .
- "Great men" refers to the nobles of the kingdom [Jone.12K, 2/467]. We have seen above that such people were not considered to be members of the royal household; the OT and anthropological data offers no evidence for such a position. The move was politically astute, since any one of these men could have done as Jehu himself did and risen up against him, but it was still outside the bounds of his commission.
After the expected objection about my use of a citation, and a charge that the source is biased (actually, Jones is a moderate/liberal), the critic offers the indication that he is inclined to think "nobles" would be included in this subset - "but that the expression would not have been limited to nobles." All right then - so who else is included?
The critic alludes to the elders of Jezreel in chapter 10 who took care of Joram's sons, but these were CITY officials (not national ones), so that the applicability of this example is rather questionable, and we have no cause to suppose that the Kings writer thereby considers "great men" to be more inclusive that just "nobles", although even then I see no way that including "elders" on the national scene would help him.
Beyond that, we are offered no further suggestion for defining "great men" but instead we are referred back to an explanation regarding usurpers, which in no way proved that these people were part of the king's "house".
"Know then that there shall fall to the earth nothing of the word of Yahweh, which Yahweh spoke concerning the house of Ahab; for Yahweh has done what he said through his servant Elijah." So Jehu killed all who were left of the house of Ahab in Jezreel, all his leaders, close friends, and priests, until he left him no survivor.
The word "so" at the beginning of verse 11 ties the statement it introduces back to verse 10. Since Jehu swore that nothing of the word of Yahweh spoken through Elijah concerning the house of Ahab would fall to the earth and then immediately killed ALL who were LEFT of the house of Ahab in Jezreel, including ALL his leaders, close friends, and priests, and left
Ahab NO SURVIVOR, that is clear evidence that Jehu considered the leaders, close friends, and priests to be among those whom Yahweh had commanded him to utterly sweep away. If I go over this often enough, (Holding) might actually see the obvious meaning of the statement.
The meaning is obvious, but his burden on the word "so" here is pretty heavy, not to mention that it is countered by the repetitive use of "and" that we have shown exists in this verse and serves to separate the latter groups from the house of Ahab and from each other. But, perhaps rather than going over this particular several times, we would be better advised to "go over" the entire pericope again, which did NOT begin with verse 10 or even with Jehu's speech.
It began with Jehu writing a letter to the guardians of the 70 sons with the eventual result that the sons were executed by the guardians - after which Jehu had the heads piled, and made his speech the following morning. The question then revolves around whether "all who were left of the house of Ahab in Jezreel" refers back to the 70 sons, or to an entirely different party that Jehu killed after his speech, perhaps the three groups themselves, and perhaps some other "house" members of unknown quantity - the latter of which seems to be the crux of the critic's argument ("immediately"). And that objection, we answer, first by pointing to the previous argument re the multiple uses of "and" within this verse which indicate multiple, separate parties, which are themselves thereby indicated to be separate from the "house" grouping; and second by saying that the "so" phrase is a reference back to the past event of the execution of the 70 sons who lived in Jezreel and were "all who were left of the house of Ahab in that city", whereas the latter grouping is either an indication of what took place after the speech, or else of a secondary activity that was unrecorded in the original pericope.
Jehu, as a usurper, would have done the smart thing by killing off any potential counter-insurgents; so that, even if we are forced to interpret "so" in the way demanded, the killing of the great men, etc. is viably interpreted as a way of "keeping from falling to earth" the prophetic directive giving Jehu the kingship. Either way, the critic's interpretation is grounded, and is based in part on the assumption of the very thing he needs to prove, over and against clear sociological and Scriptural data as to what constituted the members of a "house".
- Priests, of course, were of the "house of the Lord" (cf. Jer. 29:26, Zec. 7:3), of their own familial households (cf. Aaron), and were state officials. Thus there are places in the OT where it is indicated that a king has appointed a priest or given orders to one, but there is no indication whatsoever that this degree of loyalty or duty indicated membership in the bayith of the king.
The only possible exception to this rule is found in Judges 17-18, where Micah hired his own Levite who tended the family shrine. This Levite had his own house (Judg. 18:15) and MAY have been considered part of Micah's own house - but note that this priest was HIRED by Micah, and that this story is told as part of a book that collects stories exemplifying its theme: The people of Israel in that time each did as they saw fit. Clearly Micah's actions are intended to be seen as a deviation from the norm - and in any event, the Levite, if he was a member of Micah's house, likely would have been so as a sojourner rather than as a priest.
Then what of Jehu's obliteration of the priests in 2 Kings? Jehu's acts against the priests had political motives, since a priest could effect a coup (cf. 2 Kings 11:4-20) by citing improper worship practices. This has specific application here: A king or a usurper needed priestly support for their own political ends. Although it was obvious trickery on Jehu's part and probably not a sincere sacrifice, the priests that had served under the previous kings of Israel could have cited Jehu's apparent sacrifice to Baal as an improper practice and used it as an excuse to depose him! In killing off these priests, Jehu was simply using the means of political murder to head off any trouble from that direction.
So neither of these two parties comes under the roof of the "house of Ahab" nor of any royal household, literally or figuratively. In killing these people, Jehu clearly exceeded the demands of his commission and destroyed those outside the house of Ahab.
Holding admits that priests were "state officials," but despite evidence to the contrary, he denies that they were considered a part of a king's house or "friends."
And what evidence is this? Well, the critic thinks that to satisfy me, he would have to:
...find a place where the Bible says, "Priests were members of a king's house." Off hand, I don't know where the Bible directly says that wives were members of the king's house, but surely no one would deny that they were.
This, of course, does not answer the argument at all, and it is a major category error to compare a wife with a priest. The issue is, whether one can find a place where it says - either directly OR indirectly, and I would be satisfied with the latter - that priests were of the house of the king, or of any person's house other than their own when serving in their official capacity and not acting as sojourners. (We didn't need to look far to find out that wives, as well as sons and sons' wives, were part of a "house" - just check Genesis 7:1.)
The critic goes on to quote verses that "show that priests were considered an important part of a king's inner circle of advisors," but this proves absolutely nothing in terms of whether a priest was, in his official capacity, part of a king's house, no more so than showing that Janet Reno was attorney general proved that she was part of the family of Bill Clinton.
Anachronisms aside, the critic has yet to provide any direct or substantiative definition of what a "house" consists of. But one word on what is cited as evidence, from 2 Samuel 20:23-6 --
Now Joab was in command of all the army of Israel; Benaiah son of Jehoiada was in command of the Cherethites and the Pelethites; Adoram was in charge of the forced labor; Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was the recorder; Sheva was secretary; Zadok and Abiathar were priests; and Ira the Jairite was also David's priest.
This is cited as a counter to my assertion that there are no other examples of a personal priests (aside from Micah), though he admits that there is a textual dispute over the word, and cites (argument by authority?) those translations that accept "priest" as the proper word. But does this, or that David and Solomon had priests as officials (which we indicated, that they were officials) indicate that this priest was part of David's, etc.'s "house"? Not at all - no more so than it does before regarding the "great men".
Then we have this cite of 1 Kings 4:1-7 --
King Solomon was king over all Israel, and these were his high officials: Azariah son of Zadok was the priest; Elihoreph and Ahijah sons of Shisha were secretaries; Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was recorder; Benaiah son of Jehoiada was in command of the army; Zadok and Abiathar were priests; Azariah son of Nathan was over the officials; Zabud son of Nathan was priest and king's friend; Ahishar was in charge of the palace; and Adoniram son of Abda was in charge of the forced labor. Solomon had twelve officials over all Israel, who provided food for the king and his household; each one had to make provision for one month in the year.
The word for "palace" in verse 6 was "bayith" (house), the very term under discussion. "Bayith" was also the word for "household" in verse 7, so we have a list of "high officials" in Solomon's government, and in listing them the text twice used the word "bayith" (house). Included in the list were priests.
Arguing by mere proximity is not enough, but what about context? The problems with using this passage are:
- As it is used in verse 6, bayith clearly indicates the physical plant of the king's palace, and has nothing to do with the bayith of the king, which was a "living" entity - and even if it somehow did not indicate this, would only serve to indicate that Ahishar alone was part of the "house" in some sense;
- Verse 7 says that the 12 officials provided food for the king and his household, which is not the same thing as being part of the household. It seems here that the critic is also assuming that the "twelve officials" in verse 7 are the same as the officials listed above, which evidence indicates, they were not - there are only 11 names given; the Hebrew words used for each grouping are different [sar versus natsab]; and at any rate, it is hard to accept that Solomon had his army commander, scribes, priests and labor supervisors spend a month per year scrounging out food for the king's household.
- That leaves only the matter of "close friends." Here alone does the critic take up the gauntlet: "In the case of Yahweh's destruction of the house of Baasha, there can be no doubt at all that those who were not male descendants of Baasha were included in the destruction of Baasha's house." For relevant proof, he cites 1 Kings 16:11 -
As soon as he began to reign and was seated on the throne, he killed off Baasha's whole family. He did not spare a single male, whether relative or friend.
Verse 11 is clear enough. Zimri killed "all the house of Baasha," and in doing so he didn't leave alive "a single male of his kindred or HIS FRIENDS."
Thus does the critic find that Jehu destroyed the house of Ahab with the same thoroughness as the house of Baasha was destroyed. The match is perfect - or is it?
In fact, what we have here is an enormous blunder, and startling proof that one cannot simply consult the stark English translations for answers. Aside from totally ignoring the matters of the great men and priests, it turns out that both Zimri and Jehu were similar in that they were acting politically - but the fact is that they were getting rid of two different kinds of people.
Let's get behind the English. In 1 Kings 16:11, what is killed are ga'al (next of kin/kindred) and reya. This latter word translates out to brother, companion, lover, neighbor, etc. These are people of rather close relationship. The word is used elsewhere in this sense; here are some citations of places where it appears:
Gen. 38:12, 20 - When Judah had recovered from his grief, he went up to Timnah, to the men who were shearing his sheep, and his friend (reya) Hirah the Adullamite went with him...Meanwhile Judah sent the young goat by his friend (reya) the Adullamite in order to get his pledge back from the woman, but he did not find her.
Note here: This is a person whom Judah trusts with his property and his personal affairs.
Ex. 22:7 - "If a man gives his neighbor (reya) silver or goods for safekeeping and they are stolen from the neighbor's house, the thief, if he is caught, must pay back double."
Note: Are you going to give silver or goods to someone you are not close friends with for safekeeping?
Deut. 13:6 - If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend (reya) secretly entices you, saying, "Let us go and worship other gods," gods that neither you nor your fathers have known...
Note: Here this kind of person is classified with family members as someone so close that they might have a certain power to persuade you.
2 Ki. 7:3 - Now there were four men with leprosy at the entrance of the city gate. They said to each other, "Why stay here until we die?"
Note: The word is not transliterated here, but is used to refer to the four lepers outside the gates of the city - men with a common bond. What we see here, though, is another way reya is used -- though it does not help the critic's case at all to have the verses refer to "great men, one another, and priests" or "kindred and one another" or anything like - he needs a more definite type of term in those spaces.
Prov. 3:28 - Do not say to your neighbor (reya), "Come back later; I'll give it tomorrow"-- when you now have it with you.
Note: Here the word specifies someone who lends things to you. In the next verse after the above it refers to someone who lives near you.
Prov. 14:20 - The poor are shunned even by their neighbors (reya), but the rich have many friends.
Note: Here there is a distinct difference made between reya (neighbors) and 'ahab (friends). The latter is an even stronger word indicating affection.
Prov. 17:17-8 - A friend (reya) loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. A man lacking in judgment strikes hands in pledge and puts up security for his neighbor (reya).
Note: Here is a very precise description of what a reya was all about - and a description of how far foolish people take this relationship because of trusting overmuch. (By the way - the word "loves" above is that Hebrew 'ahab.)
Conclusion: Clearly some close associational link is implied by this word, and in many cases we see relationships that fit in under the parameters of the broad definition of "house" in the OT context.
What, then, of the "friends" of Ahab's house in 2 Kings, who were killed by Jehu? These were not reya at all, but yada - an entirely different Hebrew word, with an entirely different connotation. Since yada occurs some 932 times (!) in the OT, and is usually translated as the word "know," rather than cite verses here we will call upon the explication of Coogan [Coog.2K, 114], who cites an example of an Akkadian concept of "friend of the king" - a person who paid a tax for this designated status and was able to pass it on to his children, much as in modern times someone who donates to a political campaign may be designated as a "friend" of the politician.
While yada is not precisely in line with this idea, and has a wide number of other nuances (including "kinsman/folk" - not the likely meaning in the Jehu matter, since these people are clustered with non-family, and the Kings writer, as we have seen, uses the more specific word for "kinsman/folk," ga'al, elsewhere), it is obvious that the Baasha account and the Jehu account refer to two entirely different types of people, thus making the critic's argument re: "friends" in 2 Kings irrelevant. Not that he even needed to know definitions: The fact that two entirely different Hebrew words are used is more than sufficient to defeat his argument.
The critic wishes to claim that these two different words used is no different from someone today using the words "pals" or "friends" or "buddies" interchangeably, but he will need to do a lot of work to show that the distinction is as insignificant for these Hebrew words, which I showed was not the case. What can the critic do here specifically, other than trying to anachronize with slang English terms? He first cites Ex. 20:16 --
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor [reya]. You shall not covet your neighbor's [reya] house; you shall not covet your neighbor's [reya] wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor [reya].
If, as Holding claims, "reya" always denoted someone with whom a person had a close personal friendship, then he would have to say that the commandment above did not forbid one's bearing false witness against a person just as long as the person was not someone with whom he had a close relationship. Likewise, one could covet another person's wife just as long as that person wasn't a close friend.
To which I say: Yes, he's right - it does not forbid these actions in terms of someone who is not a reya, but that is not quite the same thing as permitting such actions on a non-reya. Is it supposed that someone could come to this rule and seriously and legitimately suggest, "We can go and lie, covet, etc. about that guy, because he's not our reya?" Sure they could - if they made the object of the offense the focus rather than the offense itself. We will see later that this type of interpretation, which did come up in a sense much later in Israel's history, is explicitly rejected elsewhere in the Bible.
The critic perhaps fails to understand that the command above is given (as were all commands in this section) in the context of a community-oriented covenant. These were "in-house" rules for the people of Israel to follow, and thus specific mention was made to the people of Israel who would be expected to be an exemplary community of God and be reya amongst themselves (this will relate to other entries below, re a broader use of reya).
That, of course, did not happen; but the point is that this no more allows coveting, etc. regarding those outside the community than a rule banning prostitution within the city limits constitutes an endorsement of it outside of the city limits. The city council doesn't make the rule because they think another area is more geographically appropriate for prostitution; they create the rule foremost because they think that prostitution is immoral.
Next cited is Ex. 21:18-9 ---
When individuals quarrel and one strikes the other [REYA] with a stone or fist so that the injured party, though not dead, is confined to bed, but recovers and walks around outside with the help of a staff, then the assailant shall be free of liability, except to pay for the loss of time, and to arrange for full recovery.
Here, it is written:
The word "reya" was used here in reference to individuals who quarrel to the point of coming to blows or even wielding stones as weapons. If I used Holding's logic, then, I could argue that the word "reya" connoted people who had feelings of strong hostility for each other. In other words, this passage by (Holding)'s logic would show that the word means the exact opposite of what he is claiming.
This doesn't help either: People who quarrel can either be close friends (even to the point of such violence) or not know each other at all; this verse therefore offers no indications that this could not have been a close friend in the sense that we argue.
However, that is beside the point, for we would agree that this verse uses reya in the vaguer "one another" sense as in the lepers verse from Kings above, and still point out that this does not help at all in regards to 2 Kings. (And of course, the "close friend" reya is not the opposite of the "one another" reya, as Skeptic X claims - the two nuances are of an entirely different categorical nature.)
The critic then goes on to use Ex. 18:15-16, Judges 6:28-9 and Genesis 15:8-11 the same way as he did for the leper verse above; again, this does not help him at all, since reya as used in these verses offers no firm and permanent sense of identity to put in the 1 Kings 16 and 2 Kings 10 passages. At best, what has been gained? The critic has shown that reya can also be used in a much less definitive sense, within a given group, and that is just fine - but it offers him nothing in terms of the Jehu group, nor in terms of the listing under the destruction of Baasha. He accuses me of trying to cover up this alternate meaning, but even if I did - and I didn't; I merely deemed it irrelevant, which we have seen it is - what has he gained? The "other" interpretation won't fit in the Jehu situation, for it does not refer to any specific person or group as the Jehu listing does; nor will it fit in the Baasha situation.
Finally, the critic quotes Luke 10:25-27 --
Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he said, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" He said to him, "What is written in the law? What do you read there?" He answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself."
This, he says, will push the definition of reya beyond what I have supposed, since Jesus is quoting Lev. 19:18 here. He then cites the verses following, in which he says that Jesus defines "neighbor" - the good Samaritan parable:
Jesus replied, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, 'Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.' Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?" He said, "The one who showed him mercy." Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."
From this, the critic concludes that Jesus "clearly taught that a neighbor ('reya') was not just a person for whom one had close personal feelings but just anyone, even a stranger, who needed help." - and therefore supposes that my use of reya has backfired.
But there is a big problem with the way that the critic is using this parable. Note that the Samaritan "was a neighbor" only AFTER he showed mercy. In other words, this is not a case of Jesus saying that "even a stranger who needed help" was a reya - it was a case of Jesus saying that anyone who needed help should become our reya, and that we should become a reya to them. Indeed, what Jesus says here serves as a rejection of the sort of interpretation the critic imposes on the Exodus and Leviticus passages above - and is right in line with the radical "love your enemies" approach Jesus put forward in this nationalist social context.
The excursion into the NT sounds clever, but it utterly errs - not only within the interpretation, but also because it still offers no counter to the issue of 1 and 2 Kings. Does the critic want to argue that Jehu killed "great men, priests, and anyone, even a stranger, that needed help" or that Zimri killed "kindred and anyone, even a stranger that needed help"?
But now what of our other word in question, yada? The critic insists that he can show that these words were "sometimes used interchangeably" and thus lays something of a burden for himself. In order to show this, he must find a place where a) one word was used to describe the relationship between one person and another, and then the second word was used to describe that same relationship; b) the relationship in question did not undergo some key change that would have necessitated the change in terminology; or, c) the writer(s) of the words did not make the change for polemical or rhetorical purposes - and it would be most persuasive if he could show such inconsistency in terms within the texts of the Kings writer.
The critic first embarks upon a commentary on the definition of yada as offered up in Strong's. Now the entry for this word was rather long and carried a variety of nuances; hence, we went the route of citing a commentator's notation that, in the context of 1 Kings 16 (the Baasha story) the word referred to political "friends", and concluded, at any rate, that the mere difference in words was enough to overturn the critical case, even without a detailed study.
The critic notes the broader range of meaning and says that "common sense should tell us that it would be more inclusive than 'reya,' " but in fact the closest overlap Strong's offers for the terms is "familiar friend" for yada and "friend" for reya. After repeating back the issue that reya also conveys the "one another" sense, we get this point:
At any rate, one of Strong's definitions of "yada" was "familiar friend," which was the
expression used to translate the word in the ASV, but wouldn't a "familiar friend" be a "close personal friend"? I point this out only to call attention to the flagrant quibbling that we have seen in Holding's article. He argued that a "reya" was a close personal friend and then claimed that
this somehow connoted a different relationship than a "yada," which was a "familiar friend."
Would a "familiar friend" be a "close personal friend"? No - a familiar friend would be a familiar friend, and a close personal friend would be a close personal friend. We are talking about two entirely different levels (in ENGLISH, let me add) of friendship, and simply making the suggestion that they might be the same does not make them the same. The critic X will have to do better than that to bring reya and yada together, like give us some specific Scripture cites.
And indeed, this is what we finally get to. Ignoring the comment by Coogan that refers to these yada as equitable to political "friends" (in the political context of the Kings passage), the critic writes that he will be "demonstrating that the words 'yada,' 'reya,' and also 'ahab' were often used interchangeably in the OT in passages that used the Hebrew literary device
known as parallelism." He gives a couple of informational examples of parallelism from the OT as a demonstration, which we will cite for reference:
Zechariah 7:1 says, "And it came to pass in the fourth year of king Darius that the
word of Yahweh came to Zechariah in the fourth day of the ninth month, *even in Chislev.*" The ninth month was Chislev, and Chislev was the ninth month. The two are the same. Notice that when parallelism is used the two terms or expressions in the parallel could be switched without altering the meaning of the sentence: "(T)he word of Yahweh came to Zechariah in the fourth day of Chislev, even in the ninth month." In 12:6, Zechariah said, "And they of Jerusalem shall yet again dwell in their own place, even in Jerusalem." Their own place was Jerusalem, and Jerusalem was their own place.
These are good examples indeed of parallelism, we agree. But now, he says, we will look at a place that proves the interchangeability, in Psalm 88. Now it must be said first of all that it is rather questionable to compare a poem (Psalms) with a narrative (Kings), for the former allows a great deal more freedom in expression, and the latter uses words in quite specific narrative contexts. This alone makes any comparison in the Psalms questionable, but let's look at the example anyway. We need only quote the latter portion, from which the critic makes his relevant argument:
Is your steadfast love declared in the grave, or your faithfulness in Abaddon? Are your wonders known in the darkness, or your saving help in the land of forgetfulness? But I, O Yahweh, cry out to you; in the morning my prayer comes before you. O Yahweh, why do you cast me off? Why do you hide your face from me? Wretched and close to death from my youth up, I suffer your terrors; I am desperate. Your wrath has swept over me; your dread assaults destroy me. They surround me like a flood all day long; from all sides they close in on me. You have caused friend ['ahab] and neighbor [reya] to shun me; my companions [yada] are in darkness.
The critic claims that this causes "serious problems" for my argument that these three words were "significantly different words in meaning", and from there goes on to explain the above in terms of a parallelism - thinking that, apparently, the "shunning" of the friends in the first phrase is equal to their having been put "in darkness" in the second phrase.
Well, there is a parallelism here, all right, but it is not the one that the critic thinks exists here. There is an interesting "cover-up" of his own that the critic does, one that shows that his interpretation of this verse is false, because this is how another version, the NIV, reads that verse:
You have taken my companions and loved ones from me; the darkness is my closest friend.
Would this suggest that those three words are interchangeable? It would seem that if there is any "parallelism" at all, it is not in the meaning of those three words, but in, on the one hand, the writer's having his close-by folks taken from him, and on the other hand, his becoming "friends" with the darkness - so that it seems the version the critic quotes is saying, that the Psalmist finds his companionship "in" darkness, to say that "darkness" is itself the companion that he has without his best friends and beloved around.
Parallelism there is indeed here, but it actually proves the opposite of what the critic wishes to argue - for it is the loss of 'ahab and reya that is actually EQUATED WITH "making yada" with impersonal, fearsome darkness - and it seems to me that the latter doesn't involve anything we would call pleasant.
Bottom line: The parallelism does NOT make the terms interchangeable at all; if anything, it points up the vast difference between them. Not that the critic's interpretation of this verse would get far anyway: How would friends who are "shunning" the Psalmist be the ones who are put "in darkness"? It is the friends who are playing the active role here.
From here, the critic also cites some verses from Psalm 55, but none of the verses cited involve both reya and yada, which makes the citation totally irrelevant. At best he shows that yada is equitable to two other Hebrew words, neither of which ('erek or 'alluph) express the closeness of the firm-identity usage of reya.
The next example comes from the book of Job, and again, since we are dealing with poetry rather than narrative, the application is already questionable. But let's look at the verses he cites from Chapter 19 of the book, looking specifically at the verses under consideration, from 13 through 21:
He has put my family far from me, and my acquaintances [yada] are wholly estranged from me. My relatives and my close friends [yada] have failed me; the guests in my house have forgotten me; my serving girls count me as a stranger; I have become an alien in their eyes. I call to my servant, but he gives me no answer; I must myself plead with him. My breath is repulsive to my wife; I am loathsome to my own family. Even young children despise me; when I rise, they galk against me. All my intimate friends [math] abhor me, and those whom I loved have turned against me. My bones cling to my skin and to my flesh, and I have escaped by the
skin of my teeth. Have pity on me, have pity on me, O you my friends [reya], for the hand
of God has touched me!
The critic tries to pull in the word math as well, but again, this has no relevance for our two words. But what is his case? He insists as follows:
In verses 13-14 of this text, Job deplores the estrangement of his relatives and "close friends." The word for "close friends" was "yada," as noted in brackets, but as Job continued his lament, he used "math" to refer to all of his "intimate friends" (v:19) and concluded his lamentation by crying for his friends "reya" (v:21) to have pity on him, as if "reya" was inclusive
of all the words Job used in this passage to convey the idea of friendship?
Aside from the fact that this would be a stretch to describe as a "parallelism", there is a big problem with this one as well, and in this case, it happens to be where the critic stops his quote, at verse 21. Let's look at verses 21 and 22 together:
Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O ye my friends; for the hand of God hath touched me. Why do ye persecute me as God, and are not satisfied with my flesh?
Wait a moment - who is it that Job is talking to, who have been "persecuting" Job as God, and are not satisfied with his flesh? It is Job's three friends sitting with him - the superfluous Howard Cosells who have been saying to him, "Hey, Job, let me give you some sage advice," rather than sympathizing with him or comforting him as they should have been doing. In other words, there is no parallel or inclusive reference here to the yada (or even the math) who deserted/abhorred Job. The reya were the friends who did NOT or abhor or desert him.
Now, though, another example, again from Job. This one does come from the narrative section in chapter 42, verses 10-11 --
And Yahweh restored the fortunes of Job when he had prayed for his friends; and Yahweh gave Job twice as much as he had before. Then there came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known [yada, rendered "acquaintances" in KJV, NKJV, ASV, and others] him before, and they ate bread with him in his house; they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that Yahweh had brought upon him; and each of them gave him a piece of money and a gold ring.
Of this, it is said, "I would say that anyone who would give me money and a gold ring would very likely be someone who is a close friend." Those who know the social rules of the day would not. Job, as a powerful tribal chieftain and man of some wealth (indeed, twice what he had before!), would be expected to receive tribute in the form of money or a gold item upon recovery of his personal prestige and wealth. These yada aren't "trusting" Job with the loot; they are GIVING it to him to keep as a tribute! In fact, this passage is right in line with our identification of yada as "political friends" of the ruler who offer support to the ruler to gain favor.
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