Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Old Testament Essays]]> vol. 21 num. 2 lang. pt <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>Image schemata of containment and path as underlying structures for core metaphors in Psalm 142</b>]]> The psalms of lamentation depict a situation in which waves of anguish threaten to engulf the righteous. Surrounded by hostile forces, voices of distress implore Yahweh to intervene in a transformative and restorative manner. The supplicant bemoans the fact that the adversaries have hidden snares in his path in an attempt to bring about his downfall. It should therefore come as no surprise that in the psalms of lamentation snares symbolise containment and subsequent separation from Yahweh and the religious community. Psalm 142 can be regarded as a case in point. Drawing on the most recent assumptions related to image schema research, this contribution argues that the container image schema serves as the underlying structure of the psalmist's metaphorical reference to the hidden snare and the experience of being led out of prison. In addition, the exploration elucidates the link between the container image schema and the path image schema in Psalm 142. The investigation illustrates how the poet's bodily experience of containment and motion along a path allows for the conceptualisation of and reasoning about particular abstract domains. <![CDATA[<b>’Killing them softly with this song…’ The literary structure of Psalm 3 and its Psalmic and Davidic contexts</b>: <b>Part II: A contextual and intertextual interpretation of Psalm 3</b>]]> In this article, the second in a series of two on Ps 3, the contribution which its immediate literary context and its heading makes to the interpretation of Ps 3 is discussed. It seems that Ps 3 is connected to its immediate neighbours, Pss 1-2 on the one hand, and Pss 4-14 on the other, with the help of key-words and shared motifs. The heading draws attention to intertextual connections it has with the narrative of Absalom's revolt in 2 Sam 15-19 and with David's song of triumph in 2 Sam 22, and through this last mentioned text also with the rest of the Psalter. Ps 3 can consequently be viewed as part of the 'overture' of the Psalter consisting of Pss 1-3, but simultaneously as the first exemplaric prayer of David which he formulated under difficult circumstances. The connections with 2 Sam 22 also suggest that the psalm can only be properly understood from the perspective of David's victory over 'all' his enemies. <![CDATA[<b>Psalm 104</b>: <b>A bodily interpretation of 'Yahweh's history'</b>]]> Psalm 104 is one of the finest pieces of lyric poetry in the Old Testament, expressing the poet's emotions regarding 'Yahweh's history. ' According to Israelite belief, creation was Yahweh's first act in history, the first fundamental deed setting the stage for Yahweh's involvement with his people. The praise of Yahweh's works and wonders in the creation is often mentioned in the same breath as his acts in the history of his people. In this paper 'Yahweh's history,' as expressed in Psalm 104, is examined from a bodily perspective. Our involvement in and contemplation of this 'history' can only be via the body. It is shown how God-constructs, animal behaviour, and descriptions of nature, as depictions within 'Yahweh's history,' all refer back to and are metaphorised from human bodily experiences. Human involvement in the 'history of Yahweh' appears to be on the same level as the rest of creation in this psalm. This has important ethical implications on all levels of our involvement in that 'history.' <![CDATA[<b>David and Uriah (with an occasional appearance by Uriah's wife) - Reading and re-reading 2 Samuel 11</b>]]> The interpretation of 2 Samuel 11 has been built around three points: 1. The primacy of the relationship between David and Bathsheba; 2. Uriah dies in a cover-up; 3. The narrative is full of ambiguity. This paper explores the narrative from the perspective of the ambiguities employed, showing that the third point undermines the frst two. This is achieved by drawing on Genette's theory of anachrony which emerges as an important historiographical feature in Samuel. The text is meant to be read and then re-read as each anachrony is encountered, thus coming to a clearer understanding of what is meant by the narrator's closing comment. <![CDATA[<b>Why is there <i>something</i> rather than <i>nothing?</i> Biblical ontology and the <i>mystery of existence</i></b>]]> In metaphysics, perhaps the most fascinating but also the most commonly misunderstood problem presents itself in the question, 'Why is there something rather than nothing?' This is the mystery of existence and it has proved to be insoluble as long as it is properly understood. One popular misconception with regard to the problem includes the belief that biblical ontology was concerned with a similar query, in response to which it supposedly offered the 'god-hypothesis' as a pre-philosophical solution to the riddle of the Real. In this paper, these assumptions are critically evaluated and shown to be both anachronistic and presumptuous. Protological aetiologies in the Hebrew Bible show no trace of familiarity with the problem of Being and the assumed deity-reality relation was never intended as a solution to the mystery of why things are the way they are, or why they are at all. <![CDATA[<b>Psalm 16 (LXX ps 15) and Acts of the Apostles part II</b>]]> Psalm 16 is one of the most well-known texts of the Psalter. This can be attributed to, amongst other things, the fact that the NT, specifically Acts of the Apostles, applied this text to the life of Jesus of Nazareth. The quotations from Psalm 16 in the book of Acts thus got a messianic-Christological meaning. If we, however, take a look at the text of Psalm 16, it seems that this psalm does not contain any direct messianic conceptions. Neither does it refer to the resurrection of the flesh. There are, however, features in the Greek translation (LXX) of this psalm which offered material to the New Testament authors to apply the text to Jesus - specifically to his resurrection from death. In Part I of this article the focus was on the MT text of Psalm 16. Part II will focus on its application in Acts of the Apostles, as well as the hermeneutical background of the author(s) of Acts of the Apostles. It seems that the Septuagint paved the way for this interpretation of the MT text and that it can be regarded as 'praeparatio evangelica'. <![CDATA[<b>Psalm 69:36 in the light of the Zion-tradition</b>]]> Zion is explicitly mentioned in Psalm 69:36a. This article will endeavour to outline its significance for the interpretation of the text of Psalm 69. The text of Psalm 69 functioned as an individual lament in the pre-exilic period. In the crisis of the exilic/early post-exilic period, as well as later in the post-exilic period, it became a vehicle for a divided Jewish community to express their laments as the personified 'I'. Consequently, a new perspective has been created in this text: the sufferer of the basic text has now come to reflect the suffering community in the different epochs in the post-exilic Judah. Moreover, it is significant that the end of this text discovered the hope for Zion and the cities of Judah in God's faithfulness expressed to the suffering individual. <![CDATA[<b>'A negro, naturally a slave': An aspect of the portrayal of Africans in colonial Old Testament interpretation</b>]]> The essay analyzes how Old Testament references to black people -the so-called 'Cushites' - are portrayed in colonial Old Testament interpretation. The point of departure is an Edinburgh commentary from 1899 on the Books of Samuel, where a Cushite officer in King David's army (cf. 2 Sam 18) is described as 'a negro (naturally, a slave)'. Based on a discussion of various hermeneutical approaches to the relationship between 'Africa' and the Old Testament, it is argued that the term 'naturally' reflects a late nineteenth century, colonial understanding of Africans. <![CDATA[<b>The witch in Psalm 59: An Afro-centric interpretation</b>]]> In the traditional western interpretation it has been argued that the enemy in the individual lament of Psalm 59 is no more than an unbeliever and a traitor. However, an afro-centric interpretation of the Psalm reveals that this adversary shares various traits with the contemporary African witch. The Psalm contains magical formulas and a counter-curse that is comparable to traditional African ways of dealing with the problem of witchcraft. It is argued that this content makes the Psalm an ideal protective text that can be added to the list of Psalms already used by African churches for protection against magical assaults. <![CDATA[<b>Intertextuality</b><b> in multi-layered texts of the Old Testament</b>]]> This article proceeds from the tenet that the Old Testament is, in various different ways, a layered text, to argue that the interpretation of the so-called 'final' text can only be done if the intertextual influence of the various pre-texts on the final text is taken into consideration. The different levels of intertextuality between a text and its pre-stages, its alternative forms (which are often also present in the 'final ' form), and the context into which it was embedded are described. The complementarity of the synchronic and diachronic dimensions of a text and the importance of the intertextual network it forms with other texts are illustrated by two examples - that of the Succession Narrative (in which the parallels between Eli and David are shown to be hermeneutically significant), and the book of Esther (in which the parallels with Exodus are shown to be hermeneutically significant). <![CDATA[<b>The meaning of 'great mountain' in Zechariah 4:7</b>]]> The book of Zechariah contains a large amount of visionary material and oracles. Sometimes it is difficult to interpret the different metaphors and symbols used in this material. In most instances these symbols are not explained in the Hebrew text. One of these difficult symbols is the reference to IwdghArh (great mountain) in Zechariah 4:7. The question posed by this article is: what is the real meaning of these words? Scholars have offered different hypotheses to answer this question. The 'mountain' was interpreted inter alia as a fictional mountain; Mount Gerizim; opposite powers or world empires; a specific person or group of persons; and a heap of rubble at the temple site. This article evaluates the different hypotheses and suggests a possible interpretation, namely that it must be understood in a holistic and open-ended way, referring to a 'mountain' of problems or adversity that could range from a heap of temple rubble to hostile powers. <![CDATA[<b>YHWH Loves Zion - Zion loves YHWH</b>: <b>An exploration of the workings of ancient near eastern social values in Psalm 87</b>]]> Psalm 87 is widely regarded as being notoriously problematic, posing difficulties on all levels. Despite all of the uncertainties that exegetes have regarding this psalm, almost all agree that the psalm deals with Zion acting as mother city. This article attempts to shed new light on the problem of Psalm 87 by examining it in its immediate context as a Korahite psalm, and ultimately from an Ancient Near Eastern social values perspective. It is argued that this approach aids in determining the meaning of the psalm, as these values were an integral part of Ancient Near Eastern society. They thus not only influenced this psalm, but also reveal a lot about the thought processes behind the psalm. In light of the examination of the psalm, a new theory is proposed about Psalm 87's dealing with the exclusivity of Zion rather than its universality. <![CDATA[<b>David and Shimei</b>: <b>Innocent victim and perpetrator?</b>]]> Feeding on the current social anxiety in the country that is defined by racial lines, the paper suggests the possibility of a theology for the 'retributed', i.e. those who undergo justice in terms of affirmative action or land repossession. Employing Ndebele's thoughts on the folktale The lion and the rabbit and the issue of justice in Lars von Trier's Dogville as its matrices, the paper enquires into the roles of perpetrator or victim Shimei and David play to each other in Samuel-Kings in order to see whether Shimei's death constitutes retributive justice or whether there is some social benefit in turning him into a purificatory sacrifice in a Girardian sense. <![CDATA[<b>Hoe Bruikbaar is Levitikus 18 en 20 in die homoseksualiteitsdebat?</b>]]> Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 are the only Old Testament texts that seemingly explicitly prohibit homosexual acts between men. It is important to determine how useful these texts are in the current debate about homosexuality. Can churches simply use these texts to reject homosexual relationships on these 'Biblical' grounds? The exegetical and hermeneutical analysis of these texts makes it clear that neither Leviticus 18:22 nor Leviticus 20:13 can simply be applied directly in the current theological debate. <![CDATA[<b>The theme of the Babylonian exile as imprisonment in Isaiah 42:22 and other texts in Isaiah 40-55</b>]]> Although some scholars argue that Isaiah 42:22 has the people remaining in Judah rather than the exiles in mind, this paper asserts that the description of the exile as imprisonment is an exaggeration. Some Judean exiles were in all likelihood forced to work on royal building projects. Their imprisonment would at most be temporary. By depicting the exile as imprisonment 42:22 accentuates Yahweh's announcement in 42:14-44:23 that he would restore his relationship with Israel. The end of the punishment was in sight despite the fact that Israel's precarious situation could be interpreted as an indication that Yahweh's relationship with them has ended. In the present form of the text of Isaiah 40-55, 42:22 reveals that the one who would deliver the prisoners (42:7), himself needed deliverance. 42:22 thus sets the stage for the re-commissioning of the servant in 49:1-6. Although 49:24-26 does not give the servant a role in the return of Zion's sons, the statement in verse 25 that Yahweh himself would take up the prisoners' cause forms a strong contrast to the reproach reflected in 42:22. <![CDATA[<b>A narratological analysis of time in 2 Samuel 11:27a</b>]]> This article enquires into the role of time in 2 Samuel 11 - the story of David, Bathsheba and Uriah. This is done by first demarcating 2 Samuel 11:2-27a as a narrative unit and determining the scenes of the narrative. An analysis of time, on the basis of the narrative theory of GĂ©rard Genette, then follows. It can be clearly seen in this analysis, amongst other things, that the main theme of this narrative is rather the murder of Uriah than the adultery of David and Bathsheba. <![CDATA[<b>Hebrew alphabetic acrostics - Significance and translation</b>]]> 'In translating poetic texts there must be a concern not only for correct meaning, but also for conveying the poetic impact of the text'. Quotes like these are seen in literature, but the acrostic feature is mostly not included. This article explores the significance of Biblical Hebrew alphabetic acrostics and tries to give an explanation of the purpose of acrostics from the perspective of the Cognitive Sciences. This leads to the question whether this feature should be reproduced in a translation. Because of various obvious reasons, the acrostic form cannot be exactly reproduced in a translation. Is it better to produce a form that at least represents the original acrostic to some extent, or is it better not to endeavour it at all? The author is convinced that any acknowledgement of the acrostic form in a translation contributes much to conveying the poetic impact of the acrostic poem and it should not be ignored completely. <![CDATA[<b>Salvation for earth?</b>: <b>A body critical analysis of Psalm 74</b>]]> In Psalm 74 the god metaphor is strictly and forcefully male. In Israel the king was a man, and the man was king. So the God of Psalm 74 is king, a man, and thereby the cult is constituted. Nature, Earth and her components are simply the stage on which the cult is enacted, and does not have intrinsic value. The values underpinning the god construct in Psalm 74 are ethnocentric and androcentric. This text should be regarded as a cultural artefact that renders no contribution towards an ideology which regards Earth and her components as intrinsically valuable. <![CDATA[<b>Who really 'created'?</b> <b>Psalm 19 and evolutionary psychology in dialogue</b>]]> The beauty and awe that the natural world evokes lead humans intuitively to believe in an all powerful creator as is convincingly exemplified by Psalm 19. The author allows both nature and law to communicate elatedly about this god, who is believed to exist objectively. This ease with which human beings conceptualize counterintuitive beings ('gods'), has lately been confirmed by Evolutionary Psychology as well. The 'Theory of Mind' mental tool especially, plays a primary role in this regard. To 'think up' a god(s), responsible for the world and its functioning, comes naturally and intuitively. Evolutionary Psychology, however, differs from Psalm 19, namely therein that 'god' is a subjective construct. Bringing Darwinian evolution into the conversation, the problem of the 'existence of god' becomes even more critical, as evolution does not need a creator god. But god(s) persists. In reaction to the personal 'god' of theism and the no-god of atheism, seeking the 'godly' (atheism) becomes quite attractive.