Essay Sample on Old Testament Stories

Posted on February 18, 2008

The year of the fall of Samaria was approaching. Hoshea, son of Elah, was ruling over Israel. As most of the kings before him, Hoshea “did evil in the eyes of the Lord”. Therefore, God put curses on Samaria with the invasion of Assyria. All Israelites had to leave their land and move to Assyria. The king of Assyria took the complete power over the land of Israelites and “brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath and Sepharvaim and settled them in the towns of Samaria to replace the Israelites” (2 Kings 17:24).

God did this because of Israel’s numerous sins. Israelites did not follow the book of Law written by Moses, but instead acted in opposite way. They worshipped other kings, had a lot of high places, where they burned incense, and even sacrificed their sons and daughters in the fire. God removed all Israel from his presence, but left only one tribe Judah, as he still was holding to the Covenant he made with David.More…This happened to be a warning to the tribe of Judah. Nevertheless, it was not enough for people to stop act against God. Although, Hezekiah, king of Judah, ruled “right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father David had done” (2 Kings 18:3), removed all high places and even broke Moses’ Bronze Snake, to which people burned incense, Hezekiah’s follower Manasseh made the most evil thing by rebuilding high places erecting altar to Baal and making an Asherah pole, and even sacrificing his own son in the fire. “Therefore, this is what the Lord, the god of Israel says: I am going to bring such disaster on Jerusalem and Judah that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tangle” (2 Kings 21:12). During the reign of Josiah, grandson of Manasseh, the Book of the Law was found by Hilkiah, the high priest. Josiah acted in accordance with the law during his life. However, all of his followers including Zedekiah, ignored God’s commandments, so in 586 B.C., Jerusalem was seized by Babylon and all people were made to flee to Egypt. These are the evens that took place at that time period and now we have to find reasons and explanation to these evens and their significance in the Bible.

The book of Torah is the primary reason for writing a second edition of DH. This book was written by Moses on the scroll and placed next to the Ark. It was considered to be the Law Code, which people were obligated to “carefully observe them with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 26:16). One of the most important points in the book of Law was the centralization of worship. There did not have to be numerous places to worship, but only the one. “But you are to seek the place the Lord your God, will choose from among all your tribes to put his Name for his dwelling. (Deuteronomy 12:5) The book of the Law also contained special code of laws for kings. A king could not be a foreigner, “must not acquire great numbers of horses”, “must not take many wives”, and “must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold” (Deuteronomy 15:17).

However, practice did not comply with the law. Most of the kings until the reign of Josiah acted in the way totally different as it was said in the book. Besides the fact that king Solomon “had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines” (1 Kings 11:3), he was building a lot of high places to worship his wives’ gods. According to the Law, only Levite priests could perform sacrifices. This point of code was ignored either. For example, in 1 Kings 12:31, “Jeroboam built shrines on high places and appointed priests from all sorts of people even though they were not Levites”. Also, in 1 Samuel 1, we can observe Samuel who is non-Levite, worshipping the Lord in his house at Shiloh. The reason to this is the lost Book of the Law after Philistines’ capturing the ark.

Davidic covenant was included in DH1. The God said to David though the prophet Nathan “your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.” (2 Samuel 7:16) This covenant was treated as unconditional. However, as we can see, the actions of David’s followers led to eventual cancellation of the covenant. David’s son Solomon, who was predestinated to build of the house for Lord, did not behave as his father did. During his reign, he accumulated a great number of horses, silver and gold, had enormous number of wives and worshipped their gods. Because of his negative performance God decided to tear his kingdom away from him, however, leaving him a piece of land in order to keep to his promise to David. Further, troubles came upon Israel. Most kings of Israel were engaged in fighting, murder and worshipping other gods. As Jeroboam, “you [Jeroboam] had done more evil than all who lived before you. You have made for yourself other gods, idols made of metal…” (1 Kings 14:9) Rehoboam, king of Judah, also did evil. He built high places, sacred stones, and Asherah poles everywhere. Asa, king of Judah was one of relatively good kings. “He expelled the male shrine prostitutes from the land and got rid of all idols his father has made. ” (1 Kings 15:12) However, he did not destroy the high places for sacrifices and worship. Both kings of Israel, Baasha and Elah did evil things, that is why, their whole family was killed because of their sins, as it was declared through the prophet Jehu. Ahab, king of Israel was one of the worst kings. “Ahab also made an Asherah pole and did more to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel than did all the kings of Israel before him” (1 Kings 16:33). Nevertheless, God decided not to put disaster on him but on his son as Ahab humbled himself before God. Jehoshaphat, king of Judah was one of the kings devoted to Lord, his God. But, anyway, he didn’t remove the high placed it was required according to the law. Despite of the wrongdoings of the kings Jehoram, Ahaziah, Jehoahaz, Jehoash, Jeroboam II, Zechariah, Shallum, Pekah and others, God “Was not willing to destroy Judah. He had promised to maintain a lamp for David and his descendants forever.” (2 Kings 8:19) The kings Joash, Amaziah, Azariah, and Jotham, did what was right in the eyes of the Lord”, but they never destroyed high places. Hoshea did more evil that his predicators, therefore God decided to curse Israel by taking away their land and putting them into exile. Hezekiah, king of Judah, was better than all those who preceded him. He is compared to King David. Hezekiah removed all high places and even broke the Bronze Snake, the sign of Moses. Nevertheless, his follower, turned everything the way it was before. He restored high places, built other places to worship and sacrificed his own son in the fire. “He did much evil in the eyes of the Lord provoking Him to anger.” (2 Kings 21:6) The most devoted and righteous king was Josiah. In Deuteronomy 6:5 it is said “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your strength.” Of all the kings only Josiah did everything in accordance with the law. He is even compared to Moses. During Josiah’s reign there was the centralization of worship. He introduced the Law to all people and made them pledge to the renewed covenant.

In my opinion, Jeremiah is the most probable author of Deuteronomist history. It was written in 622 B.C. during the reign of Josiah. Jeremiah was the son of Hilkiah, the high priest, who found the book of law. Shaphan was a secretary. Therefore, he decided to write DH1 to show why the kings of that period did not follow the law code and to prove the unconditional status of Davidic covenant. Jeremiah dictated the text to Baruck who scribed it. One more proof of Jeremiah’s authorship is the language used in the books of Jeremiah, Deuteronomy and 2 Kings. We can observe numerous similar verses in Deuteronomy and Jeremiah. For instances, in both Deuteronomy 10:16 and Jeremiah 4:4 it is said “circumcise your hearts”. In Deuteronomy 4:20 and Jeremiah 11:4 “brought you out of iron-smelting furnace”. Furthermore, there are numerous similarities in Deuteronomy and 2 Kings. As P author wrote in approximately, 700 B.C. Jeremiah was aware of him. P did not make restrictions about sacrifices in one place; therefore he was not aware of the book of Law.

Although, David was promised that there always be a king on his throne, 586 B.C. Jerusalem fell, and now there was no king on the throne. Jerusalem was captured by Babylon and people were put to exile. During this time, DH2 was written by Jeremiah and Baruch. They needed to find a reason for exile, therefore, after Josiah, there was a shift in focus of DH. Jeremiah revised what God said to David in the covenant with Solomon. God said to Solomon that if he would keep to all God’s commands and laws, be righteous and obedient, God would establish his throne forever. “But if you or your sons turn away from me and do not observe the commands and decrees I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, than I will cut off Israel from the land I have given them, and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my name.” (1 Kings 9:6-7) Here we can see a reference to exile. As for Manasseh, in 2 Kings, he would never be forgiven for his terrible sins: “For he had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood and the Lord was not willing to forgive (2 Kings 24:4). However, in 2 Chronicles 23:13, when Manasseh prayed to God the Lord was moved by his entreaty and took him back to his kingdom. The purpose for including this verse in DH2 is to show that God does forgive his people.

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