Showing posts with label Nahum. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nahum. Show all posts

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Mining the Minors: Nahum (6)

Consider the limitations the Law of Moses placed on Israel and Judah, had they chosen to follow it with any consistency.

The usury laws and the Jubilee would curtail the ability of merchants and profiteers to exploit the lack of financial sophistication among their fellow Israelites. Israel’s law forbade certain forms of lucrative trade: fortune telling, the manufacture of graven images, cult prostitution. The Sabbath laws would restrict commerce to six days a week rather than seven. Tithing obligations would take well over 10% of your income, and the law would permit, even encourage, the poor and the sojourner to help themselves to the excess of your fields and vineyards.

In short, when the provisions of Mosaic Law were observed and enforced, Israel was not the easiest place in the world of its day for profiteers and merchants to get rich quick. That said, it was a great place to live for normal, godly people.

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Mining the Minors: Nahum (5)

By 616 B.C., Nabopolassar had ruled Babylon for a decade. He had spent those ten years profitably, rebelling against the Assyrians and successfully expelling their forces from Babylonia. Civil wars between major Assyrian cities and the general decrepitude of the empire confirmed his belief that the time had come to transfer the seat of Mesopotamian power from Nineveh to Babylon. Gathering his own Chaldean army, along with allies from Media, Persia, Cimmeria and Scythia, Nabopolassar marched on the capital city of Nineveh in May of 612 B.C.

Resistance was fierce, but they took the city within three months. What Nabopolassar probably didn’t know was that a Judean prophet had accurately describe his sacking of Nineveh as many as thirty years prior to it. Still less did the king of Babylon understand that he was doing the work of Judah’s God when he went about his business.

Saturday, March 04, 2023

Mining the Minors: Nahum (4)

The remainder of the first chapter of Nahum careers back and forth between addressing Nineveh and addressing Judah. The word “you” necessarily has different meanings as we move through these last five verses. In verse 11, “you” is Nineveh. In verses 12-13, it’s Judah. In verse 14, it’s Nineveh again, or perhaps the “worthless counselor” described in verse 11. Finally, in verse 15, the prophet returns to addressing Judah with further words of comfort.

You have to have your head on a swivel as you read it or you’ll lose track of who’s being addressed at any given point.

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Mining the Minors: Nahum (3)

It has been observed that verses 2-8 of Nahum’s first chapter are a poem or hymn about the wrath of the Almighty that appears to have been written in the acrostic style of some Psalms (9-10, 25, 111, 119), which is to say each clause usually begins with the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet. I say “appears” because scholars only noticed this pattern in Nahum a couple of centuries ago, mostly because the acrostic is incomplete (three letters are missing, and only the first half of the alphabet is used at all) as well as somewhat irregular (the expected letter is not always first in its clause).

We might sum up Hebrew scholar Aron Pinker’s conclusions about it by simply saying the pattern is too consistent to be accidental and too inconsistent for his peers to agree about.

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Mining the Minors: Nahum (2)

Nahum begins his oracle, appropriately enough, by identifying its divine source and describing him for his readers. Who is the Lord, you might ask? Scripture answers that question in many ways at many different times. Here the answers appear to skew toward God’s destructive characteristics: jealousy, vengeance, wrath and power. It’s an intimidating prospect.

Still, we ought to bear in mind that for the victims of relentless oppression, God’s declaration of these characteristics about himself to their oppressors is cause for celebration.

It means justice is finally coming.

Saturday, February 11, 2023

Mining the Minors: Nahum (1)

Nahum is the seventh Minor Prophet in our modern Bibles and the fifth in the chronological order we are following in these studies, as well as one of the four shortest. (I promise not to turn this mini-series into 42 instalments!) Today’s post provides general background information on Nahum’s oracle and examines the terminology used in its first verse.

Boring? Maybe for some. Not for me. I figure we can all use a reminder that God keeps his promises about dealing with the wicked when their time has come, especially in the current year, when the wicked of our own day are in the process of taking off their masks of respectability and letting their true characters be seen.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Twitterized Bible

How about that morning verse, eh?
Ben Irwin dislikes the ‘Twitterized’ Bible.

You know, the way Christians tend to quote scripture in tiny fragments. He’s concerned that in doing so we’ll lose the Author’s original meaning and not even realize it’s gone. Twitterizing is only one name for it. Others call it “using the Bible as a medicine cabinet” or “prooftexting”.

For the most part I agree with Ben, so I’m going to tread carefully here.

After all, I have harped here about context as the most critically important interpretive tool in the Bible student’s tool kit so many times I’ve lost track. Taken out of their original context, verses of holy writ may be misunderstood or have their meanings entirely inverted.

But not always.