b-hebrew digest: August 17, 1999

Paul Zellmer zellmer at digitelone.com
Fri Aug 20 19:27:34 EDT 1999


Sorry it took a couple days to get back to you.  I don't want to draw
this discussion out, but there were a couple points that seemed to need
a bit more of a defense.

Baruch Aslter wrote:

> Paul Zellmer wrote:
>
> >
> > I'm not quite sure from your post exactly what your idea is.

<snip>
>
> Sorry if I wasn't clear enough.  My *main* point is, of course, that
chap.
> 25 is meant for Ammon, to compare their punishment with those of other
> nations (#6 below).
>
That cleared it up.

> Connecting chaps. 24 and 25 seems to me slightly problematic, although
this
> happens to be the opinion of Abravanel.  In chaps. 1-24, Ezekiel's
main
> theme is the destruction of Jerusalem.  Chaps. 25-32, the oracles
against
> the nations, seem to have more in common with the restoration chapters
> (33-48), especially chap. 25, where the nations sinned against
> Israel/Judah, and in one case (Edom, v. 14), Israel itself will take
> revenge.
>
Actually, I see you listing the three largest divisions of the book: the
destruction of Jerusalem, the judgment of the nations, and the
restoration of Israel.  In chapter 25, we have elements of all three, as
we do, in a very general discussion, in the first part of chapter 33.
Had the first part of chapter 33 mentioned Egypt (the topic of chapter
32), my case for connecting 24 and 25 would be stronger, but there still
is a fairly strong unifying theme between 24 and 25, one that fits a
transitional section.  Chapter 24 talks of the certainty of the
destruction, and chapter 25 talks of what happens to other nations as a
result of their reaction to the destruction.  So the section is a
transition, a closing out of the first division and an introduction of
the second, a confluence of the themes of the book with an emphasis on
the themes which immediately precede and follow.

But, if you feel more comfortable splitting off Chapter 25 and the first
part of 33 and making them introductions to the sections that follow
each, I can see that argument.  I have a much harder time making the
first part of 26 a part of or even simple variation of 25, though.  You
would almost have to include all of 26-28 to do that.

<snip>
>
> > I see this more as a progression in the seriousness of the complaint
as
> > we go through the parts of the oracle.  There is also a progression
in
> > the punishments.  The use of progressions like these is a fairly
common
> > organizing features in communication in many different languages and
> > cultures.
>
> When I started working on this chapter, and I found there is a
connection
> between all its parts, I tried looking for a progression, since it is
so
> common.  But I couldn't find it - see below.
>
> > > 6.  Therefore, Ezekiel's message in this oracle is to equate
Ammon's
> > > seemingly lighter sin of rejoicing with those nations who
committed
> > the
> > > seemingly heavier sin of revenge.
>
>
> > Perhaps you have read too much into the common theme and the
pronominal
> > use here.  I see the use of the second person in the first
"sub-oracle"
> > and the use of the third person in the other three more as an
indication
> > that Ezekiel expected the Ammonites to see the oracle while the
other
> > three would not.  But the punishment of Ammon (to be cut off and
> > destroyed) is arguably less severe than the punishment of Moab (the
> > exposure of the glory of the land and the infliction of punishment),
>
> Sorry, but 'destruction' is much harsher than 'judgement'.  Ammon's
> punishment is also written in much more detail than Moab's, which also
> serves for emphasis.  This is why I don't see a progression of
punishments
> here.
>
Actually, I know of no definitive study comparing the various Hebrew
concepts of destruction and judgment, especially one which analyzes
which were considered more harsh than others.  But I do see this
progression: destruction, a more drawn out destruction at the hands of
others, a punishment through the agency of YHWH's chosen people, a
punishment at the hand of YHWH himself.

How can destruction be the least severe of these?  In the US, those
states that have the death penalty come under a charge that their
methods of execution are actually "cruel and unusual" punishment *if*
the death is not swift, if the one who is executed goes through a
significant period between the start of the execution and the actual
death.  While I do not personally hold to the theological view and have
never studied it out with those that do, it has been reported to me that
the reason why the group known as "Jehovah's Witnesses" hold to the
total annihilation of the wicked is because they feel this is more in
line with the actions of a loving God than would be an eternity of
suffering in eternal flames.  And the same theme can be found in other
cultures and other times: a quick end is less severe than is a long,
drawn-out end, if there must be an end.

So I still see a case for progression here.  And I don't see any words
of comparison or correlation of the other three judgments to Ammon.
Even the second person is not present when Ammon is referred to in
Moab's judgment.

<snip>

> If only Ammonites were meant to hear this message, and they wouldn't
pay
> attention to the 'progression', why go on about the other nations at
all?

Since chapter 33 seems to show that Ezekiel was a messenger to Judah,
why go on about any of the judgments of other nations?  As examples, is
all I can figure out.  At least with Judah, there appears to be a
possibility of remedy and restoration such as is not offered to the
others in the book.  Answer to your question: I guess we'll just have to
ask Ezekiel when we see him next time!

HTH,

Paul Zellmer




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