Divided Monarchy $ the Shape of Authority of Israelite Tradition

Lloyd Barre barre at c-zone.net
Tue Feb 2 01:38:48 EST 1999

> **--------- Original Message follows... 

>Dear Lloyd,

Thanks for your answer but I know all that.

Ok.  I do not know what you know, or what you may know and disagree with.  Anyway...

  I need something deeper and
less facile.

Ok.  Maybe the discussion can come up with something.

 What were the social / religious splits in the nation that
required this kind of integrating ideology?

You mean Deuteromism ideology I take it.  At the risk of stating the obvious, the establishment of religious syncretism and the acceptance of many sanctuaries that reaches back to the origins of the premonarchic tribal confederacy and made official by Solomon is with Deuteronomism being rejected officially for the first time with the possible exception of the Levitical purists or whatever group stood behind the Decalogue.  In the context of the Assyrian crises, kings like Manasseh and Amon had no reason to reject syncretistic Yahwism as this was the norm.  The exclusvistic worship of Yahweh in a centralized sanctuary is was a relatively late innovation and at best a minority viewpoint.  The DtrH, which portray it as establishment by Moses from of old is a fabrication, and the picture of Israelite history as periodic eras of apostasy is a complete distortion and the judgements made against the allegedly "apostasy" of all the northern kings and many of the southern kings is only!
 made by anachronistically projected Dueteronomic ideals onto the past.  Obviously, worship of Yahweh alone at the central sanctuary in Jerusalem is a creation of one group in Judah who came into power with possibly Hezekiah but more likely only with Josiah.  I doubt very much that there were very many at all who would have criticized Solomon's religio-political practices aimed at consolidating international relationships as a moral or religious issue at all.  Perhaps only marginal conservative groups like the bene nabi'im, some Levites, perhaps the Nazarites who like the later Rechabites were rigoursly conservative Yahwists.  Even if such dissident groups existed in Israel, mostly in the prophetic tradition, their opinions were ignored, that is until this minority opinion came into power with Deuteronomism,  the descendents of whose viewpoints dominate the materials preserved in the Hebrew Bible.  Actually, as I think of it, I would have to see a similar type of ideology aime!
d at centralization around Yahwism in the Yahwist's Epic which I date to the Davidic reign.  But his ideological bent is more to justify Davidic imperialism as expressed in the promises to Abraham which David is seen as the one who will bring about their realization in which the patriarchs descendants will be a source of blessing (material prosperity) to the other nations.  The same ideology that defines national identity and a historical destiny in terms of international hegemony stands behind the self-invented notion of Israel as a "chosen people," conveniently proclaimed by their own god.  In the final analysis, this self-definitions is simply an expression of nationalism and patriotism.  Within Israel, Deuteronomism is simply an expression of ideology of but one political party.  In kind, one could easily compare it to one the several position found within Christianity, Judaism to whatever religious tradition one may wish to consider.  All of this too may seem shallow and !
facile as well, but I think you would admit this type of perspective is not widely neither known or acknowledged.  It is not a deep perception.  Actually, it is based on common sense.  Why is there religious diversity?  Because there is.  Why do ideologies arise, because one group is perpetuated its interests.  Why is a god's words invoked?  Because in a religious culture this is the most powerful way to win allegiance to a particular religio-political position.  What better way to convince the Judean of the policies of Josiah's rule than to put the legislation into the mouth of Yahweh which he had long ago spoken to none other than Moses.  What better way to insure compliance that to contain a law that calls for the execution of a rebellious teenager?  What better way to squelched alternative religious authorities than to ban the high places and centralize all worship exclusively in Jerusalem?  What better way to demand undivided political loyalty that to demand the exclusive!
 worship of Yahweh?  What better way to  insure military loyalty that to present Joshua (Josiah) as the ideal military commander?  Too bad he was killed in battle.  I wonder how Deuteronomism explained that.

  How does this relate to the
influx and assimilation of refugees from the north after the Assyrian
takeover in 722 bce.?

One important result was the introduction the Elohist's Epic (E) written in the north into the south, thereby explaining D's dependence upon E, seen most clearly in the Decalogue (Ex 20=Deut 5).  No doubt many northern traditions came south with the refugees.

  Why is an Ephraimite tradition adopted as the
national myth?

I am unclear as to what tradition your are referring to here. 

 Does Judah have a national myth?

Perhaps the Yahwist's Epic (J)  belongs to what you are asking about here.  Or perhaps the ideology of the eternal dynasty of David.

  Is it the Davidic
succession stories and the developing tradition of the deity's promise
to the Davidic dynasty.

This was certainly an important part of Judean tradition as is clear from the use of royal psalms in cult, some of which are specifically related to the Davidic dynasty (eg. Ps 89:3-4).  Davidic royal ideology was perpetuated in the Jerusalem cult.

   Does the Dt Htr point to the beginning of the
use of "all Israel" to designate a supra-organization encompassing
Israel and Judah?

I don't think so.  It is present in J who like E probably constructed his Epic from a common source (G) that served as the common basis for both versions which took the form of a precise summary of Israel's historical experiences such as we find in Josh 24.   I suspect this particular type of all Israel self-understanding goes back to the premonarchic tribal confederacy.

  If I recall, the emphasis in Joshua (and Judges) is
in the geographic area of Israel.  How does this relate to the idea of a
United /divided monarchy?

The precise definition of tribal allotments may well express the interest of the Priestly Writer and is not unlike the concern of Ez 48.  It seems to me tribal definitions have also been related to Solomon's concern with setting up tax districts.

  The need to create a "historical" and
"religious" mythos of unity points to deep cleavages in the social

I am not sure I would go that far.  It seems to me that such unifying concepts were aimed at overcoming the natural presence of cultural diversity of various levels.

If  we understand Dt and much of the individual Dt Htr units
as part of a northern tradition, can we say that the north was the
intellectual capital of the two countries and that the north
intellectually conquered the south.

As stated above, I would see Dt as a southern adaption of northern traditions that came south following the destruction of the Northern Kingdom.

Your recapitulation of northern history was informative but it doesn't
answer the question:  Why was it Judah and not Israel that unified the
tribes?  Your answer suggests that the unifying country should have been
Israel.  Is this a case where the leadership of David proved the
deciding factor?

Actually, it was Saul who did all the work, especially seen in how he threatened Israel into unity against Nahash the Ammonite.  Even so, before that event,  a tribal confederacy that include all the tribes of Israel was already in place probably since the defeat of Jabin.  Even though the northern tribes vis-a-vis Judah had separate histories and distinctive cultural identities, the old northern designation of Israel had been adopted to describe the confederacy, not only because of age but also because the northern tribes were once in themselves known as Israel, a designation that Judah adopted when they became a member of it.  Neither Saul nor David could overturn the tradition designation even if they for some reason  wished to.  Judah only became a national designation (The Kingdom of Judah) when the northern tribes or Israel seceded. 

Yes, there were military issues and social issues but what about the
economic conditions---something which would not be obviously stated in
the biblical text?  What economic conditions are prerequisites for state
formation.  If I recall, the 10th cent. was a period of an expanding
economy and re-urbanization of the Medit. area, a period of expanding
agriculture (into marginal areas) and consolidation into (somewhat)
larger production units as well as a partial change from purely
subsistence farming to some farming devoted to export crops and, thus,
trade.  What I am suggesting is that urbanization and surplus for export
are also factors in state formation and that one political unit ruling a
large area (as opposed to smaller local and tribal rule) is more
efficient.  The primacy of Judah may have been an aberration.  The
economically more viable unit was the north.

Solomon's greedy exploitation of the north was no doubt fueled by the fact that the north was economically richer than the south, which would have certainly fed the fires of revolt that broke out during Rehoboam's rule.  It also would  explain Jeroboam's call to Israel to simply have nothing to do with the house of David.  His attitude seems to have been, "Who needs them anyway?"

BTW, I've been getting messages with very long horizontal scrolls.  Why
is this?  They are difficult to read.  How can this be prevented?

Sorry, but I have no idea.

Lloyd Barre

irene riegner

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> ** Original Subject: Re: Divided Monarchy $ the Shape of Authority of Israelite Tradition
> ** Original Sender: Irene Riegner <iriegner at concentric.net>
> ** Original Date: Mon, 01 Feb 1999 21:28:41 -0500
> **---------


Lloyd M. Barre, Ph.D.

barre at c-zone.net

"Do I dare
  Disturb the universe?"

  T.S. Eliot from, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." (1917)

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