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A Study on the Correlation between the ‘Completion of the Temple and the Wall’ in the Book of Ezra and Nehemiah

  • Korean Journal of Old Testament Studies
  • Abbr : KJOTS
  • 2024, 30(1), pp.46-74
  • Publisher : Korean Society of Old Testament Studies
  • Research Area : Humanities > Christian Theology

김영호 1

1한신대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This thesis reevaluates the meaning of ‘the completion of the second temple and the wall’ in Ezra-Nehemiah through the lens of ‘Ideology deconstruction criticism.’ This thesis argues that the meaning of ‘the completion of the wall’ is not a wall for military purposes. The ‘completion of the wall’ in the Book of Nehemiah is literary in nature, and as seen in the emphasis on ‘the law’, ‘the Feast of Tabernacles’, ‘the temple tax’, and ‘the Levitical priests’ the editorial work represents an emphatic expression of the priest`s ideology. Specifically, this thesis focuses on the edited passages containing priestly ideology found in the book of Ezra-Nehemiah. The narrative of the Levitical priests and Levites and commemorating with the people after the construction of the wall (Nehemiah 10:34) serves as an ideological expression indicating that it was the Levitical priests who held the authority over the temple after its completion. This implies that, even though the physical temple had been constructed and politically separated from the Samaritan temple and incorporated into the direct administration of the Persian Empire, the ultimate goal of the Levitical priests was not merely that. The function of the Jerusalem Temple included, alongside its role as a tax collection center for the imperial taxes of the time, the ability to operate as a delegate of the provincial government, enabling independent tax collection within the temple state system. Therefore, the declaration of ‘the completion of the wall’ in conjunction with the rituals indicated in Nehemiah chapters 8-10 served to proclaim the ability to collect temple taxes in independence. Additionally, it signifies the stabilization of temple authority and the establishment of a stable relationship with local indigenous powers. This was demonstrated through the previously unobserved offering of the Passover before the construction of the temple, to the Feast of Tabernacles (Nehemiah 8:13) after the completion of the wall, the Levitical priests, as the ultimate victors of temple authority, displaying their independence in temple management, tithing, and observing the Sabbath (Nehemiah 10:34-39). This is why the narrative of Nehemiah's completion of the wall was longer than the narrative of Ezra's completion of the temple because it described the province as a mandated theocracy through ‘the sole God, Yahweh - the construction of the temple - restoration of the law - temple tax’ within provincial context. While the completion of the temple was determined by Persian imperial policies, the narrative in Nehemiah presents ‘the completion of the wall’ as a development into their own temple state within their province.

Citation status

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