Throughout the Hebrew Bible YHWH’s chosen people, more popularly known as Jews continually find themselves being driven out of their homeland by a foreign power only to return again. Furthermore, these chosen people struggle to find ways to maintain their identity in a foreign land. As the cycle of being driven out and returning repeats itself, YHWH’s people eventually come to identify themselves as living in diaspora—maintaining their identity and more importantly, their religious identity in foreign lands among foreign powers. Joseph, Esther, and Daniel are figures whose books in the Hebrew Bible are considered Jewish novella—short works of fiction that have a historical setting, but contain inaccurate details—figures. These three chosen people find themselves part of the aforementioned cycle, however, each has a different story to tell. Although these three figures share fundamental similarities in plot reversals and instruction on faithfulness in diaspora, there are more essential dissimilarities in the role that God plays and how each individual identifies himself/herself.
In 640, Josiah, the king of Judah was enthroned, but he was under the influence of Assyria. Later, Josiah carried out the religious reform in 622 after the king of Assyria died in 627. In the same year, Jeremiah was called to prophesy through the reign of Josiah (640-609), Jehoahaz, and Jehoiakim (609-598). In 597, Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, gained in power, and Jeremiah predicted for a coming Babylonian exile (Jer 24: 1-10; 27:1-22; 28:1-17; 29:1-32). In 586, Jerusalem was razed with fire, and the Temple was destroyed. King Zedekiah and all southerners were forced to exile in Babylon (2 Kgs 25; Jer 39:7). Before and in exilic period, the prophet continued to voice God’s messages toward the exiles.
This writing was mainly fueled by prophets who believed their society was in turmoil. They saw the destruction of Israel and wondered why that occurred. They concluded that people have turned away from the worship of YHWH and went back to their polytheistic tendencies so as divine punishment, YHWH destroyed Israel. According to these prophets, the people of Judah needed to purge their old gods and worship the one and only true god, YHWH in order to avoid the same fate as Israel. Josiah, the ruler of Judah, also attempted to call for a religious reform and by doing so he went and destroyed hilltop temples dedicated to the people’s many gods in an effort to assure people worshipped properly (Hill,
I. Introduction The fiftieth psalm begins with the heading “A psalm of Asaph”. Whether it was officially written by him or simply dedicated to him , it is noteworthy to understand who Asaph was and the impact he had on the music and worship of Israel. Asaph was part of a music guild in the court of David along with Heman (1 Chronicles 6:39 ) and Ethan (1 Chronicles 15:19). These men were appointed to lead the musical celebration for the return of the Ark of the Covenant when King David danced passionately enough to embarrass his wife Michal (1 Chronicles 15:16ff).
The book of Nehemiah was originally the second section of the book of Ezra. “Closely allied to the Book of Ezra, it was attached to it in the old Jewish reckoning.” In this book of the Bible, the book of Nehemiah illustrates Jerusalem’s final stage of reconstruction during the 5th century B.C. Babylonian exile period. Although, Nehemiah might have not been a man with much power, he was in fact a man of ability, courage, and action. God’s purpose for Nehemiah was to prepare him to accomplish a forceful task within the entire Bible. Nehemiah had a job and responsibility, which was to help rebuild and reestablish the walls of Jerusalem.
In the video, Act V: The Written Word, many kings and prophets are mentioned. One of the kings mentioned is Jehoiakim. Jehoiakim ruled from 608-598 B.C. (Achtemeier, 490) and during his rule, he and his people “retrogressed, once again, to worshiping idols” (Who Wrote the Bible Act V: The Written Word). This went against the bible and the beliefs of Yawhew’s people. Jeramiah, a prophet during Jehoiakim’s rule, warned that “because your ancestors have forsaken me…and have gone after other gods and have served them and worshiped them…Therefore I will hurl you out of this land into a land that neither you nor your ancestors have known” (Jeremiah 16:11-13). Jeremiah was warning Jehoiakim that if he and the people continued to worship other gods,
Carson, D. A. New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition. 4th ed. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994.
James L. Mays.Harper Collins Bible Commentary,with society of biblical literature. HarperSanFransico.United states of America.New York. 1988 .985.
New International Version. [Colorado Springs]: Biblica, 2011. BibleGateway.com. Web. 3 Mar 2011. Accessed 22 April 2014.