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A Study on the Prophetic Phenomenon in the Context of the So-called "Murmuring" Stories: Focusing on Historical Contextualization in Numbers 11

Choi Jong-Won 1

1서울신학대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The Purpose of this article is to trace and examine deuteronomistic theology in Numbers 11:4-35 and to reconstruct the final form of the Pentateuch. The text plays the role of a bridge between the Sinai pericope (Exod 19—Lev 26) and the Moab pericope (Num 22-25). The two pericopes are closely related to the formation of the Pentateuch. In this literary structure, Number 11:4-35 consists of two basic strata (J and E) just like an artistic tapestry, but they are found to be unrelated to each other. For the two independent stories intimately communicate with each other through a literary expansion of an extremely high degree. Certainly this aspect suggests that the canonization of Torah came to be in the later fourth century B.C. From the deuteronomistic perspective, Deuteronomy 1:9-18, which is closely related with this text, reenacts Exodus 18, but the method of electing the head of each tribe and the source of the thought of a presiding judge are expressed differently. The leadership of those who are elected is authorized by the spirit of God, but the fundamental activity of prophecy was expanded to all the people of Israel. Although the sphere of prophetic activity became wider, the sin of the Israelite people ended negatively in punishment. Therefore, the key to the intention of the text is Numbers 11:25-29, in which are given traces of a reconstruction of the original account and of expanding it to the whole area of greed and punishment. The key lies in ‘the rest of God’s spirit upon them’ and ‘the prophecy.’ As a result, the activity of prophecy is not in relation to prophets, but the problem that caused the social struggle. The social problem arose because of the complaints of the people. If we see this problem from a synchronic perspective, the content of the text is revealed not to be related to the Sinai pericope, but rather to the ‘wilderness wandering’ story in an independent tradition. This feature supports the position of the “hypothesis of story loop” (Erz hlkranzhypothese), which has been recently studied and actively used. Besides, it shows that the situation of the times in the text reflects the early and middle fourth century B.C., rather than the theory of “empire authorization” (Reichsautorisation) of Persia.

Citation status

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

This paper was written with support from the National Research Foundation of Korea.