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REL 394 Prophets Kings

REL 394 Prophets Kings - Hebrew Prophetic Narrative 1-2...

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1 Hebrew Prophetic Narrative: 1-2 Kings Introduction VIDEO: Forrest Gump (“Praying with Jenny” // “Not enough rocks”) 13:30 // 1:44:27 Why does Jenny want Forrest to pray with her? Kings is filled with “Jenny”-like characters Prostitutes whose children are kidnapped ( 1 Kings 3 ) Lepers with nowhere to go and nothing to lose ( 2 Kings 5 and 7 ) Women struggling to save their families and land ( 2 Kings 4 and 8 ) Widows facing starvation ( 1 Kings 17 ) Kings is also about prophetic justice in response to suffering Justice for the murdered ( 1 Kings 21; 2 Kings 10 ) Justice for idolaters ( 1 Kings 13 ) Justice for tyrants ( 2 Kings 11 ) Justice for a nation ( 2 Kings 22 ) Searching in Sheba (1 Kings 10:1-13) VIDEO: Forrest Gump (“Jenny and Lt. Dan get educated”) 1:28:10 This is one of the great stories of the Bible, a text inspiring prophets, mystics, poets, novelists, and artists for millenia. Something about it captures the imagination, whether we focus on the mystery enshrouding this foreign queen, or on the wisdom and wealth of this handsome young king, or even on the hiddenness of Israel’s God behind the scenes. Each one of these characters is an avenue into the story’s theological core.
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2 Solomon’s “fame” (Vg fama ) and “listening heart” ( uni05DC uni05D1 uni05E9 uni05D5 uni05DE uni05E2 , 1 Kings 3:9 ), however important as they are, are not so much the subject of this story as the object of a student’s curiosity. The Sabean is the one doing the “hearing” here, not Solomon. The primary action takes place in her , not him . Ancient Near Eastern monarchs hear “reports” about their neighbors all the time, yet seldom do such reports sufficiently motivate them to make long, expensive, dangerous journeys. Granted, we are dependent here on an Israelite narrator’s perspective for our information, but still, something is extraordinary about this particular “report.” Why does it so seize her attention? Does she see in Solomon a potential trading partner? ( J. Gray argues this position ( 1 and 2 Kings , 2 nd ed. [OTL; Philadelphia: Westminster, 1970] 241). ) Does she see in him a potential military rival? ( Assyrian king Shalmeneser III (858- 824) reports having to face a cavalry of one thousand camels from Arabia ( ANET 279). Tiglath-Pileser III (744-727) reports receiving tribute from a queen of Arabia named Zabibe ( ANET 283). Does she see in him, as later legend so fantastically speculates, a potential lover/mate? ( LXX, for example, changes the phrase “Happy are your men” in v. 8 to “Happy are your wives” [ gunaike" ], yet later Jewish, Arab and Ethiopian traditions go wild, portraying her as everything from “seductive temptress” to “hairy [Lilith] demon” [see the survey in Alice Ogden Bellis, “The Queen of Sheba: A Gender-Sensitive Reading,” Journal of Religious Thought 51 {1996} 17-28]).
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