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2008, Vol.14, No.2

  • 1.

    The Levirate Marriage: Tamar and Ruth

    Kim, Chang Joo | 2008, 14(2) | pp.10~28 | number of Cited : 6
    Abstract PDF
    This paper is to compare Tamar story (Genesis 38) to Ruth episode (the Book of Ruth). Both passages deal with the so-called ‘levirate marriage.’ It has been apparent that levirate marriage is, first of all, to preserve the name of the deceased, secondly, to keep his property, and thirdly, to support the widow's welfare while she is left alone (Josephus, Antiquities. iv. 8, § 23). However, almost every students overlook the most important thing of levirate marriage, that is ‘procreation’ of woman. This study argues that widow owns right to conceive a baby. It is because giving birth is the most privileged right for every woman in the light of creation accounts. As an ancient tradition levirate marriage is that when a man dies without a son one of his brothers shall take the wife of the deceased in marriage (Deut. 25). Unfortunately, two episodes support and problematize the levirate custom because of their similarities and differences. That is why this article tries to examine the stories in question closely. Tamar and Ruth are foreigners, Canaanitess and Moabitess, respectively. Right after their husbands die, they step in at a critical situation in the life of a family or herself but meet a positive turn in events from a negative direction. It is quite clear that they take the initiative in the stories regardless of the males who have power over them. Tamar and Ruth disguise themselves; Tamar puts off her widow's garment, putting on a veil. Ruth also washes and anoints herself, and puts on her best clothes. They attempt to recover their own right to conceive a baby. I believe this is the key to the levirate marriage. As a result, both widows become mothers of Perez and Obed, and finally become matriarchs of David. Man and woman are entitled to procreation, as God commands, “Be fruitful and multiply”(Gen. 1: 26); hence, levirate marriage is to be understood as a widow's right. However Tamar and Ruth fail to get a chance to conceive and give birth. Consequently, they try to take subversive action against the ancient male-dominant society. A Korean proverb says, “woman puts her shoes side by side on the terrace stone before delivery.” It is not certain if she could wear the shoes after childbirth. It means that giving birth can cost her life. In this regard, Tamar and Ruth's stories may challenge the contemporary male-centric culture, even to transform it. No matter how patriarchal the ancient society was, these two ‘subversive foreign women’ risked their own lives for the sake of the rights of becoming ‘mother’ God bestowed aa a gift.
  • 2.

    The Social Causes of the Northern Kingdom's Fall and Prophet Amos's Judgement Proclamation

    Lee Hee Hak | 2008, 14(2) | pp.29~48 | number of Cited : 5
    Abstract PDF
    The Northern Kingdom of Israel was economically and politically stable in the early and the middle of the 8th century B.C., compared to other period. The purpose of this paper is to examine the social circumstances of the Northern Kingdom at the period, to analyze the causes that affected the Israel's social crises, and to find the meaning and legacy of the theological controversy, implied in the judgment proclamation of Amos. During the reign of the king, Jeroboam II, the Northern Kingdom had experienced more political stability and economical prosperity than any other period. Yet, unfortunately this newly gained economical prosperity and wealth had not been evenly distributed to all the people. Economical wealth, earned through international trades, enriched mostly not the country but the city residents. The more international peace had persisted and international trades had been active, the more economical wealth had been accumulated. However, it more widened the gap between the rich and the poor, and more landlords and rich people arose. The growth of the number of the rich landlords and the increase of the poor tenant farmers weakened the bond of the families and caused the radical change of the traditional communal relationship. The farmers who lost their land hopelessly had to face economical difficulties, rapid urbanization and extent individualism. Although the Northern Kingdom seemed outwardly developing and prospering, prophet Amos was keenly aware of the causes of the internal collapse of the society. The leaders of the society were enjoying the expansion of the kingdom and its economical growth, but in the name of God Amos criticized their sins and proclaimed God's judgment against them, which would bring them to a total collapse. For Amos, they were the ones who destroyed the traditional basic norm system, that is, the equalitarian relationship, but hardly felt their responsibility for weakening such Yahweh religion. They were also the nonsensible who did not feel guilty, although they were destroying ‘justice’(ט󰘩󰚉󰗬) and ‘righteousness’(ה󰙌󰕇󰙃), which consisted of the foundation of the Israeli society. They were the ones who rejected the moral request of Yahweh. Amos proclaimed that Yahweh would no more ignore the immoral situation and judge the whole of the sinful Northern Kingdom through justice and power of liberation, as he had proved through the long history of Israel. Amos understood the social evil from the point of the whole Israeli history, so that the relation between Yahweh and the Northern Kingdom confronted the cruel crisis because of the sins the leaders of the society committed.
  • 3.

    Josiah’s Reforms and ‘am ha’ares - Socio-political Understanding

    이동규 | 2008, 14(2) | pp.49~66 | number of Cited : 6
    Abstract PDF
    Since A. Menes and G. von Rad, various scholars have acknowledged the connection between the ‘people of the land’ and Deuteronomy and deuteronomistic movements. It has been argued that they were supporters of deuteronomistic reforms, however, the Hebrew Bible is not clear on this point, and they were non-existent in reform scenes. This study has attempted to find a way forward in understanding their relationship with King Josiah's reform by focusing on socio-political aspects of the reforms and their activities, aided by archaeological observations. The late eighth through the late seventh centuries presented the royal court in Jerusalem with new circumstances. Jerusalem experienced rapid expansion, and the centralization of Judah would have been in progress from the eighth century. Also, as the Hebrew Bible vividly describes, factional conflicts in the court had existed from the reign of David, and Josiah’s enthronement occurred in the middle of court conflict. It was the ‘people of the land’ who appeared to be active participants in Judahite political events for Judah’s last centuries, influencing the succession of the Davidic dynasty. As landed aristocracy and as rural elders representing their towns and social units and having strong rural connections to decentralized cultural bases, they could not help but be against the national centralization tendency of the time. For Josiah whose father was assassinated in the court intrigue and who would have lived his young life under the influence of the regent or regent figure(s), centralization reform could be seen as an inevitable route to escape from the influence of the regent figure(s) and to consolidation of his kingship over court of kingdom. Through his reforms, Josiah seems to have attempted to challenge the power structure of Judah, changing national fiscal flows and embracing other elite groups drawn from Jerusalem officialdom, while the ‘people of the land’ were still caught up in the decentralized rural culture of Judahite provinces. The analyses of socio-political circumstances of Josiah's reforms reveal a quite different picture of the ‘people of the land’ and their relationship with the reforms from the traditional one. Von Rad's thesis regarding their relations to the Deuteronomistic movement must be re-considered and re-evaluated in the light of socio-political stance of the "people of the land" in the kingdom of Judah.
  • 4.

    Mazzeba in Isaish 6: 13: It’s meaning and function

    장대규 | 2008, 14(2) | pp.67~86 | number of Cited : 3
    Abstract PDF
    The purpose of this article is to interpret massebet/massabtāh in Isa 6: 13 by utilizing the textual and archaeological evidence. This paper articulates that the terms massebet/massabtāh in Isa 6: 13 are associated with a standing stone(massēbâ) in light of textual evidence(Old Testament/Ugaritic texts) and archaeological discoveries. The massebet/massabtāh has four major functions: (1)to mark the memory of a dead person or the burial position of his/her grave, (2)to mark a legal relationship existing between individuals or groups, (3)to commemorate and to memorize an event, and (4)to mark the sacred area where a deity is immanent. The massebet/massabtāh ranges in date from the eleventh to the early seventh century BCE in Palestine (Megiddo, Shechem, Tirzah, Lachish, Gezer, Hazor, Hebran, Bethel, Beersheba. Arad, and the Southern Negev area including the Uvda Valley). The aniconic nature of the massebah enabled early (nascent) Israelites to interpret them as commemorative of YHWH's theophanies and historical acts. These masseboth were an abstract representation of God/YHWH as opposed to the tradition of iconographic representation, which was predominant in the ancient Near East. Later, the massebah was often related with asherah, altars, a terebinth, an oak, and high places(v.13). The influence of foreign cults swept away the original function/meaning of the massebah in Israel. The massebet/massabtāh changed its original function and as an image. For this reason, Isaiah considers the massebet/massabtāh to be prohibited under the second commandment. The use of the massebet/massabtāh is not a late innovation, but the logical conclusion of a very long development in ancient Near East and Palestine. The massebet/massabtāh as aniconic representations of a deity showed an aspect of popular religion. Isa 6: 13 is linked to their judgement based on idolatry conducted with massebah, which was the solid expression of their idol worship. Thus, the massebet/massabtāh function as cultic and memorial/symbolic ones.
  • 5.

    Who is Esra?

    김윤이 | 2008, 14(2) | pp.88~106 | number of Cited : 6
    Abstract PDF
    Various portrayals of Ezra, as scholar or priest, or ‘priest and scholar’, are found in Ezra-Nehemiah. The portrayals were established as many theological understandings of him at that time and afterwards have been attributed to. This article purports to analyze historical Ezra and later interpretations of him editorially layered thus finding the historical causes and intentionsof the theological interpretations of him, and, also, figuring out the development of the history of the Chronicles, its Sitz im Leben and theological orientation. First, in the source-layer of the books, Ezra is prominent as a scholar who was an official scribe ( ambassador, official, scribe) of Persian Artaxerxes, executing the Law as the Persian constitution , and uprighted the Judean ministration stabilizing the Returnees to have resorted to their religious traditions. Second, Ezra is prominent as a priest in the early documents of the historical accounts of the Chronicles. He is understood as an orthodox Zadokite priest in the anti-Samaritan context, who strived to preserve the integrity of the Judean community, taking charge of the financial affairs in Jerusalem, the rituals of the people and their problem of intermarriage with ‘the people of the land’. Third, even though the mixed title ‘the priest and scribe , which is derived from the source-layer and the early editorial layer, are attributed to him in the late editorial layer (the final edition) in the historical accounts of the Chronicles, Ezra’s very much expanded role, unlike the former two layers, as a scribe taking charge of whole Israel’s total consensus is significantly told to confirm a solid identity of ‘whole Israel’. That is, ultimately, Ezra was interpreted as a leader (representative) of entire nation, who was supposed to instruct the entire people to unite in the Law along with the Levites, especially in the anti-Hellenistic time. It may be concluded that Ezra’s status and role were diversely interpreted in the various historical context of each editions. Ezra, a scholar of Persia, was portrayed, i.e., re-interpreted, as an orthodox priest of Jerusalem in the anti-Samaritan context (the early editorial one) by the early historian of the Chronicles, and then as a scribe taking charge of whole Israel’s total consensus in the anti-Hellenistic (or anti-foreign) context (the late editorial one) by the late historian of the Chronicles, respectively. The Chronicles historians, just as they interpreted David as their ideal leader in their record of the Israelite history, interpreted Ezra in their record of the post-Persian history according to their own Sitz im Leben, portraying him as their role model.
  • 6.

    The Political Theology of the Davidic Dynasty embedded in Psalm 89

    Hae Kwon Kim | 2008, 14(2) | pp.107~127 | number of Cited : 8
    Abstract PDF
    The purpose of the present paper is to explore the political theology of the Davidic covenant as embedded in Psalm 89 with special focus on the dynamic relationship between myth and history. For this end the present essay makes an exegetical inquiry into Psalm 89 with a religion-of-history approach to the tension lying between the history of the Davidic covenant and the ancient Near Eastern creation myths. Starting from the assumption that characteristic of the religion of Israel is a perennial and unrelaxed tension between the mythic and the historical, the present essay argues that Israelite religion is continuous with the religions of Israel's neighbors, and hence continuous with a mythological tradition. I agree with F. M. Cross when he argues for the commonality between the Davidic kingship and the central, cosmogonic myth of the Canaanites in threefold areas: (1) a divine warrior battles against a god of chaos; (2) the divine warrior is victorious; and (3) the divine warrior becomes king and receives a royal palace. Cross observes that this pattern appears in some Old Testament texts in its pure, mythical form. Through this exegetical and comparative inquiry of the Davidic covenant in Psalm 89, the present essay offers a new way of understanding the Davidic Covenant as an intersection of myth and history. Finally, the present essay concludes that the political theology of the Davidic dynasty can be best understood in the dialectical dynamic between history and myth, eventually contributing to the preservation of the people of Israel as a community who had survived many historic catastrophes in expectation of the coming of a Davidic messiah to take the vacant throne of David.
  • 7.

    Ugaritic Studies and Their Impact on the Study of the Old Testament

    조상열 | 2008, 14(2) | pp.128~141 | number of Cited : 5
    Abstract PDF
    This paper introduces a short history of Ugaritic studies and their impact on Old Testament studies. From the first archaeological discoveries in the late 1920s, Ugaritic studies have revised the modern biblical scholars' understanding of the Old Testament. In this paper, the methodological trends of the major Ugaritic and biblical scholars are analyzed. Thus, it focuses on three major issues, including linguistic, literary, and religious relationships between Ugaritic and Hebrew. For the linguistic impact of Ugaritic to Hebrew, it emphasizes Ugaritic evidence cited in several important dictionaries of biblical Hebrew and the use of Ugaritic studies in some biblical commentary series, especially on the work of M. Dahood. The Ugaritic-Hebrew literary study is exampled in works of two representatives: S. B. Parker and Y. Avishur. The relationship between the Ugaritic religion and the ancient Hebrew religious tradition is one of the most interesting topics in the recent Old Testament studies. After surveying some important works producted by several contributors in this field, the research focuses on the theological discussion of two significant scholarly figures: M. S. Smith and J. C. de Moor. From these comparative studies, the research makes a conclusion that ancient Hebrew religious tradition have shared the same idea of deities with the Ugaritic religion. Ugaritology became an interest in the area of biblical studies as Assyriology had been so before 1929. The paper presents the fact that Ugaritic studies will keep its importance in regard to the comparative study with Hebrew, as it has been so. With this fact, the Ugaritic texts deserve a deeper concern of biblical scholars. For this reason, it is necessary to have the fundamental peruse of the Ugaritic cuneiform texts with a disciplined skill and the historical research on the text. Then it can be established through archaeological evidence which may enhance confidence in numerous affinities between the two religious texts of Ugaritic and Hebrew.
  • 8.

    Theological Implication on Social Justice in the Sumerian Laws of Uruinimgina and Hebrew Laws

    Jong-Keun Lee | 2008, 14(2) | pp.142~161 | number of Cited : 11
    Abstract PDF
    The laws of Uruinimgina is the oldest and first legal collections that concern social justice in the ancient Near East, though not given in casuistic form. Urinimgina/ Urukagina (c. 2351-2342 BC) was the ruler of Lagash. His reforms became the backbone of mīšarum in Akkadian later, which includes three types of provisions: 1) adjustments to royal administrative machinery, regulating and abolishing official malpractices and extortion, 2) fixing and reducing of taxes for various activities, 3) manumission of slaves, releasing debt-slaves. The law lists royal propaganda which he did for gods and temples based on divine election by Ningirsu, the tutelary deity of the city to be the king and to establish the divine laws. He reformed the bureaucracy not to oppress and extort the people, and reduced and abolished various taxes, declaring the temple estates are divine property. He made a compact with the patron deity of Lagash not to allow marginals, widows and orphans to be handed over to the rich. It seems that the laws is geared to solidification of royal power through social reforms. The motif of social justice is well attested in all Hebrew religion and institutions. Abraham, the father of Hebrew nation, came from Ur, the cradle of Sumerian culture in Mesopotamia. Lagash was a city state of Sumerian civilization, which is located in southern Mesopotamia together with Ur. The Laws of Uruinimgina set some directions of reforms for social justice. The spirit and meaning of social justice in the Laws of Uruinimgina is well expanded and implemented thoroughly in the later Hebrew culture. Exodus is the call for reform against Egyptian model of despotism and monopoly of riches and power: the land was distributed to 12 tribes; national powers are dispersed to kings, priests, elders and the people. Religion and cultic matters are absolutely in the hands of the Levites. The motif of social justice is the foundation of all Hebrew laws, aiming to provide the quality of life to the poor in the land. Sabbatical year stipulates the rest of land, remission of debt, and reading of Torah with abundant blessing from God on the seventh year cycle, while the Jubilee commands the return of land to original owners, release of slaves, and remission of debt based on divine ownership of the land every fiftieth years. The social justice in land laws is geared to freedom, emancipation, equality, reconciliation, and restoration with new start for life. The social justice in Sumerian laws by Uruinimgina is a torch light in ancient Mesopotamia, while that of land laws in Hebrew Bible seems to be bright shining light which shows divine care for both humanity and the nature. The issues of social justice continue evermore in human history, an open question even today.