Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Old Testament Essays]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/rss.php?pid=1010-991920210003&lang=es vol. 34 num. 3 lang. es <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/img/en/fbpelogp.gif http://www.scielo.org.za <![CDATA[<b>Editorial</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1010-99192021000300001&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es <![CDATA[<b>An Inverted Type-Scene? Setting Parameters around a Jacob Cycle Sister-Wife Story</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1010-99192021000300002&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es The sister-wife episodes in Genesis (Gen 12:10-20; 20:1-18; 26:1-13) are well documented in biblical scholarship. Occasionally, an equivalent story in the Jacob cycle (Gen 25-35) is proffered. This essay investigates the tenability of such a proposal. The primary contribution is setting parameters around the proposed germane fourth story, through integrative exegetical methodologies, to properly assess the smattering of resonant motifs common between Gen 29-31 and the standard type-scene. By bracketing the texts anterior and posterior to the sister-wife stories, a common preface and postface emerge: a wife-at-the-well type-scene and the form-critical element of covenant-making, respectively. With this exegetical framing in place, the numerous motifs in the Jacob cycle-typically crafted via inversion- shared with the other sister-wife stories is cogent enough to conclude that there is a viable case of an inverted sister-wife type-scene in Gen 29-31. Furthermore, a hypothetical rationale for its literary inversion is elaborated. <![CDATA[<b>Jonadab Son of Shimeah: A Figure Wrapped in Controversy</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1010-99192021000300003&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es Jonadab son of Shimeah was King David's nephew. His character can be evaluated on the basis of the two brief scenes where he appeared in 2 Sam 13:3-5, 30-37. The article surveys four aspects of the controversy that swirls around Jonadab's moral nature: 1. The terms used to describe him, namely, "friend" and "a very smart man," which can be interpreted as "wise in evil counsel" (b. Sanh. 21a) or as "intelligent and perspicacious "; 2. The assessment of his conduct and relations with the other characters-Amnon, Tamar, Absalom, and David; 3. How he fits into the narrative as a whole and whether he is a main or supporting character; 4. How the editor revised the original author's text of this chapter. The first three aspects allow an examination of Jonadab' s moral character, the fourth determining whether his presence is essential to the story. <![CDATA[<b>Counting the Jeremiahs: Machine Learning and the Jeremiah Narratives</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1010-99192021000300004&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es Scholars have long debated the redactional history of the prose sections of Jeremiah (chapters 26-45) but no consensus has been reached on the number of redactional layers in the text, the verses that comprise these layers or their sources. This study used a machine learning method to organise the chapters into sections based upon authorial word choices. The method used pairs of synonyms in a hierarchical clustering algorithm in the statistical program R. The goal of the study was two-fold. First, the division of the text by computerised model was used to analyse the divisions made by three other more traditional critical methods. Second, the validity of the method used in this study and previous synonym-based studies was analysed and critiqued. The conclusion is that this type of analysis can validate findings from other methods but some of the inherent biases and linguistic ambiguities make it dubious as a primary method of investigation for the Hebrew Bible. <![CDATA[<b>What "Persuades" God to Respond to the Psalmist's Cry? Use of Rhetorical Devices Related to "Vows of Future Praise" in Some Psalms of Lament</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1010-99192021000300005&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es Psalms of lament characteristically include affirmations of trust and sometimes a vow to praise God in the future. This article questions the motivation behind such vows by looking carefully at whether future praise is conditional on God's positive response and what other rhetorical devices are linked to the promise God makes. Attention is given to the nature of praise and lament psalms (considering the power dynamic) and foundational principles of Persuasion Theory. Five biblical psalms of lament are considered, with particular attention to their use of a vow and other persuasive tactics to encourage God to intervene. Although a vow of future praise (and other persuasive tactics) may be used, the psalmist's most critical means of persuasion (as apparent in Ps 88) is the character of the psalmist's covenant-partner. <![CDATA[<b>Re-interpreting Deuteronomy to Empower Women (of South Africa)</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1010-99192021000300006&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es The patriarchal discourse in the Deuteronomic Code creates the need for its re-interpretation from a feminist perspective. This is in aid of understanding the subordination of women viewed from the following perspectives: their roles, images and the limited contributions of women in the ancient world. The reading also includes some remarks on the patrilineal and patriarchal organisation of the Israelite society and its family-centred economy - with special reference to the Covenant Code because of its similarity to Deuteronomy. This article describes how reformers of the Code formed a social structure which they made effective by linking disempowerment of women with other poverty alleviation laws. <![CDATA[<b>Death by Stoning in the Hebrew Bible and in Post-Biblical Traditions</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1010-99192021000300007&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es Different modes of death appear in the Hebrew Bible, among which we find stoning as a form of execution. Since the person is dead, why does the Bible go to such lengths to describe this manner of death? In order to proffer an answer, we shall examine the cases which describe death by stoning. The intention behind stoning seems to have been to remove the criminal from the camp and the city. This was not merely a physical removal; it also bore significance for the dead man's spirit. The punishment of stoning prevented the burial of the corpse. Non-burial was worse than death because the spirit of the dead would not find rest and would therefore never reach the underworld. In a later period, the procedure for stoning was modified. Forms of judicial execution mentioned in the Bible, compared with those in the Talmud, indicate the latter made an effort to preserve the body of an executed man. This difference stems from the fact that in the Talmudic period the idea of resurrection was well developed. <![CDATA[<b>Toxic Masculinity in Africa and the Bible: The Strong-man Model and the Co-optation of Feminist Biblical Interpretation</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1010-99192021000300008&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es The present article discusses the concept of toxic masculinity in the context of African political history, leadership models and feminist biblical interpretation. It explores and problematises the idea of manliness as a key concept of masculinity exhibited in the African context by warrior queens and perpetuated by modern African leaders. The essay will demonstrate that such masculinity is toxic and it uses this backdrop to investigate how feminist biblical scholarship interpret the portrayal of women characters in the Bible. This approach uncovers a tendency by feminist scholars to interpret some biblical women characters (such as Sarah, Hagar, Yael, Rahab, Jezebel, and Abigail) in a toxic way-as strong men, or even better men. As a result, feminist scholarship unwittingly contributes to toxic masculinity by presenting women who outdo men. The goal of this article is to expose the potential for co-optation of feminist biblical interpretation by toxic masculinity. This observation leads to an alternative and contextual reading of women characters in the Bible in a non-toxic way that potentially rehabilitates them. The ramifications of reading biblical women in a non-toxic way have potential implications for reading biblical men in a non-strong-man and non-toxic way. <![CDATA[<b>The Ethical Obligation to Disrupt: Facing the Bloody City in Nah 3:1-7</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1010-99192021000300009&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es In Nah 3:1, the Assyrian capital Nineveh is called "city of bloodshed." Nineveh is indeed "a bloody city," filled with the blood of the numerous dead bodies associated with the fall of the city. However, as also in the case of a similar portrayal of the city of Jerusalem in Ezek 22:2, Nineveh is depicted as a female entity, hence suggesting that one may also read these poetic texts as invoking the image of a bleeding, menstruating city with all the connotations of not only ritual impurity but also moral guilt associated with this portrayal of sexual perversion or pollution (cf. Lev 18:19; 20:18). In this regard, it is significant that Nineveh in Nah 3:4 is called "a whore " - a derogatory slur that often is used to denote those who are " other" or foreign. The article will explore the ethical implications of disruption as a reading strategy that is particularly important when reading the prophetic traditions through the lens of gender, postcolonial and queer biblical interpretation. <![CDATA[<b>Rhetoric of Honour and Shame in Understanding the Fate of the King of Tyre in Ezek 28:1-19</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1010-99192021000300010&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es While the oracles against Tyre are often understood in terms of Tyre's political and economic relationship with Judah and advocate a sovereign God who oversaw the destiny of foreign powers, this article explores the oracles against Tyre, particularly Ezek 28:1-19, from the perspective of honour and shame in an ancient Mediterranean context. It finds that the rhetoric of the contrasting notion of honour and shame plays an important role in understanding the rise and fall of the king of Tyre in Ezek 28:1-19. The fluctuation of honour and shame with regards to the Adamic identity of the king of Tyre in the passage serves to enhance in a forceful and sarcastic way the reality of the king's mortal human fate. I propose that the purpose of this oracle, in light of the honour/shame rhetoric, is to address the suffering Israelites in exile with comfort and assurance in that crucial moment of history. <![CDATA[<b>"Dismiss All Foreign Wives!" The Understanding of the Torah in Ezra-Nehemiah as a Step towards Exclusive Judaism</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1010-99192021000300011&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es Numerous passages in the prophets and other Old Testament (OT) texts demonstrate connections to the Torah. In many of these cases, there are discussions on the nature of these connections. The main question is whether the Mosaic Law itself was already fixed at this time. However, there is no doubt that the Torah was already in place at the time of the composition of Ezra-Nehemiah, at least in a preliminary stage. The book of Ezra-Nehemiah shows how a later Jewish community interacted with and interpreted certain Old Testament law texts of the Torah. The divorce of foreign wives is the most important topic in this regard. The Mosaic Law itself dos not demand the dismissal of non-Jewish wives. The question therefore arises, how was the dismissal of foreign wives justified by Ezra and Nehemiah? What does this show about their understanding of the Mosaic Law? The article argues that the dismissal of foreign wives can be seen as a step towards the later "fence around the law. " It was a way to secure one's own identity by clearly distinguishing between the "true Israel" and everyone outside. This eventually led to the rigid and exclusive alienation of the non-Jews, as we find in New Testament times and beyond. <![CDATA[<b>Community Leadership, Diaspora, and Ezra-Nehemiah: Continuing the Conversation with Gary Knoppers</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1010-99192021000300012&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es This article examines the last contributions that Gary Knoppers made to the study of Ezra-Nehemiah. In his last book, which was published posthumously, he examined the 'conspicious' disappearance of Zerubbabel from Ezra-Nehemiah (and from other prophetic literatures) as well as the surprising down-playing of the places Mizpah and Ramat Rahel that were - according to the archaeological record - important places during the post-exilic period. In his assessment, he shows a more prominent ideological-critical line of scholarship that had not been so overt in his very well-known work on Chronicles. This article engages in further debate with Knoppers regarding these contributions to the study of Ezra-Nehemiah. <![CDATA[<b>Making Some Sense of the Paradox: Polyphony, Conflicting Ideologies, Dialogism, and the Dialectic Dynamics of Ecclesiastes</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1010-99192021000300013&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es Rooted in the rubrics of "Text and Reading, "1 this article correlates some of the new advances in the study of Ecclesiastes in the recent past.2 Employing four intentionally hammered out reading strategies-reading polyphonically; reading "cross the grains"; reading dialectically and reading narrativally, it seeks to demonstrate that the integration of four perspectival readings will enrich the meaning-significance of the book. Moreover, it aims at a proposal that would make some sense of this paradoxical book. <![CDATA[<b>Reconciliation in the Templeless Age: The Servant as Sanctuary in Isa 53</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1010-99192021000300014&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es Isaiah 53 has been at the crossroads of Jewish-Christian polemical debate about the identity of the unnamed figure. This article emphasises that it is not the identity but the function of the Servant which is pivotal. This study examines relevant terms, imagery, and allusions in Isa 53 to determine intertextual links to cultic texts. It investigates the Servant's association with the triple roles of priest, sacrifice and offerer/sinner while also considering his expiatory function. The study frames this cultic portrayal of the Servant as a response to the "templeless age." The destruction of the temple in 587 B.C.E resulted in a dilemma for the deportees who sought to reconcile with their deity in a foreign land. The traumatic loss of the temple resulted in creative ideas of how to access God in the absence of a sanctuary. Isaiah 53 addresses the cultic void by shifting the site and means of expiatory atonement from a physical place (the temple) to a person (the Servant). <![CDATA[<b>The Anti-Yahweh Label <i>lassaw' </i>in Jeremiah (PART 1)</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1010-99192021000300015&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es The traditional stance is that –—“•” in Jeremiah (2:30; 4:30; 6:29; 18:15 and 46:11) denotes futility, mostly translated as "in vain. " This study scrutinises the first three texts (Jer 2:30; 4:30 and 6:29) in an effort to substantiate and modify a recent hypothesis that this term is instead a reference to the god Baal, " The Vain/Worthless One." Support for the said hypothesis is gained by (1) a tentative observation in the discussion of Jer 2:30 that —“•” futility, "in vain ") is apparently limited to wisdom literature, whereas the Jeremiah texts are part of a cultic-legal corpus within a covenantal setting where the lexeme consistently appears as the prepositional prefixed definite form –—“•” and apparently refers to prohibited objects of worship; (2) a search for intertexual clues in Jer 4:30; and (3) alertness to recurring key words and chiastic patterns in the context of Jer 6:29. In the course of working through the relevant texts, the notion took shape that the preposition –“ is -besides meaning "for, for the sake of - a technical term indicating covenantal relationship.¹ It therefore seems that –’—“’’•‘” is not only a pejorative reference to Baal but also a label of the contra and anti-Yahweh overlord/s (”––•–/”––) in (illegal) covenant relation to Israel. <![CDATA[<b>Book Reviews</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1010-99192021000300016&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es The traditional stance is that –—“•” in Jeremiah (2:30; 4:30; 6:29; 18:15 and 46:11) denotes futility, mostly translated as "in vain. " This study scrutinises the first three texts (Jer 2:30; 4:30 and 6:29) in an effort to substantiate and modify a recent hypothesis that this term is instead a reference to the god Baal, " The Vain/Worthless One." Support for the said hypothesis is gained by (1) a tentative observation in the discussion of Jer 2:30 that —“•” futility, "in vain ") is apparently limited to wisdom literature, whereas the Jeremiah texts are part of a cultic-legal corpus within a covenantal setting where the lexeme consistently appears as the prepositional prefixed definite form –—“•” and apparently refers to prohibited objects of worship; (2) a search for intertexual clues in Jer 4:30; and (3) alertness to recurring key words and chiastic patterns in the context of Jer 6:29. In the course of working through the relevant texts, the notion took shape that the preposition –“ is -besides meaning "for, for the sake of - a technical term indicating covenantal relationship.¹ It therefore seems that –’—“’’•‘” is not only a pejorative reference to Baal but also a label of the contra and anti-Yahweh overlord/s (”––•–/”––) in (illegal) covenant relation to Israel.