Welcome to MJR's Bible Exegesis course in the Early Prophets (Historical Books). In this course, we will explore a Jewish approach to the material in the books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings.
If you have not done so already, please acquire the following textbooks before you begin:
Fox, Everett. The Early Prophets. The Schocken Bible Volume II; New York, N.Y.: Schocken Books, 2014. ISBN 978-0-8052-4181-5.
Stuart, Douglas. Old Testament Exegesis: A Handbook for Students and Pastors. Fourth Edition (or later); Louisville, Ky.: Westminster/John Knox, 2009. ISBN 978-0-6642-3344-0.
Any additional readings will be provided via PDF file or link to the source of the content. Please also download the course syllabus posted below.
The tools used in MJR's courses were selected because they hold particular value in communicating the concepts being studied in a given course. Some may not be specifically targeted to a Messianic audience, but may still contain information that would be advantageous to the Messianic talmid/ah. Others may reflect in places terminology that has fallen into disuse, but does not diminish the value of the information conveyed. As with everything that is not the Bible itself, read them with discernment.
We do not expect students to agree with everything presented in any course, whether via lecture, assigned reading, or video presentation. As participants in higher education, students enrolled in MJR's courses and/or programs should be practicing critical thinking and discernment every step of the journey. To that end, your faculty recites this blessing along with each of you:
.בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יהוה אֱלהֵינוּ מֶלֶך–הָעולָם אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָנוּ בְּמִצְותָיווְצִוָּנוּ לַעֲסק בְּדִבְרֵי-תורָה
Barukh atah Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha’olam asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu la’asok b’divrei Torah.
Blessed are You, O L-rd our G-d, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to study the words of Torah.
NOTA BENE: While it is the general practice and preference of MJR to use circumlocutions in place of the Covenant Name of our G-d (Hashem, Adonai, Elohim, Elokim, Adoshem, etc.), some course materials (e.g. textbooks, linked websites, journal articles, etc.) may not always do this.
Key Themes of the Early Prophets
Cities of Refuge (Joshua 20)
Israel was the only ANE nation to distinguish between murder and manslaughter.
Those who accidently killed a person could go to one of these 6 cities and their safety would be guaranteed.
Family members of a murderer were fair game for vengeance in the ANE... except in Israel, where they could go to a city of refuge and be protected.
The names of these cities are meaningful (and possibly all foreshadow Messiah):
- Kedesh (sanctuary, holy place): In Mashiach, we find our refuge/sanctuary (Rev. 1:18)
- Shechem (shoulder, back): In Mashiach, we find our rest (Luke 15:5)
- Hebron (fellowship, alliance): We can have fellowship with Hashem because Mashiach purifies us (1 John 1:7)
- Bezer (strength): In Mashiach, we find strength (Luke 1:51)
- Ramoth (high place): We will sit in heavenly places raised up with Mashiach (Ephesians 2:6)
- Golan (exile): Mashiach was rejected (Isaiah 53:3; Luke 1:11)
The Ban (hērem)
Meaning: devoted for complete destruction, accursed.
First mention: Numbers 21:3 “And Israel made a vow to ADONAI and said, If You will deliver these people to our hands, we will utterly destroy their cities.”
In Joshua, the cities of Jericho and Ai are called hērem (but Achan disobeyed).
In 1 Samuel 15, the Amalekites are hērem (but Saul disobeyed).
Concept: Individuals are judges after death, but nations are judges for bloodguilt sins on earth.
Meaning: deliberate shedding of innocent blood; includes child sacrifice, abortion.
Blood requires blood: For the deliberate shedding of innocent blood, G-d requires the death penalty (Genesis 9:5-6).
Wherever governments don’t carry out the required death penalty, G-d will call that place cursed (Numbers 35:33).
E.g., Canaanites sacrificed their own children to demons (Psalm 106:37-40), thus G-d declared hērem upon them (Joshua 1-2).
E.g., King Manasseh shed innocent blood (2 Kings 21:16), and G-d did not pardon him (24:4); sent Judah into captivity for 50 years.