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Centralization of Cult

Han, Dong-Gu 1

1평택대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The centralization of cult was a movement that abolished all the local shrines to leave only one place Jerusalem as a cultic center. Ahas' Judah in the 8th century BCE was vassal to Assyria. It was militarily subordinate and religiously too to Assyria, so Judah was in total crisis that called for theological and cultic reform to liberate itself. There have been lots of misunderstandings about the centralization of cult. It was taken as a mean to abolish the idols in the local shrines, which was an unpolitical understanding. Or, it was understood as a part of centralization of power as any sociological understanding could indicate. Above all, it has been mistaken as fictional with no historical evidence (i.e., ex eventa record). Hezekiah brought together all the people in defence of Assyrian assail. He attempted a religious reform in cult to blow up resistance spirit against Assyria in the mind of the people. By centralizing cult he wanted to bring about unity of all the people. In a way the centralization of cult made oneness and belongingness in terms of politics. The centralization is attested in Deut 12:13-14; 18:1-8; 2Kgs 23:8-9; and etc. As for an archeological evidence the excavation at Tel Beersheba attests that stones used for alters were reapplied for a newer building. Unity and harmony of a nation would not be archived being forced by rulers. It would be possibly made only by spontaneous act of the people. Abandoning the local shrines to centralize cultic place only in Jerusalem would not have made possible by the needs of the time or forcing power, but by sacrifice of rulers admitting the priests of the local shrines. Cultic centralization could be accomplished not by the will to collect power but by self-sacrifice of rulers who willingly seek for egalitarian community.

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* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.