[b-hebrew] "Desire of Women" in Heb. Text of Dan. 11:37

Harold Holmyard hholmyard at ont.com
Tue Nov 14 21:00:33 EST 2006

Yitzhak Sapir wrote:
>>> Both of you are reading these verses with a theological message, and that
>>> theological message may be appropriate for you and those who abide by
>>> your theological beliefs.
>> HH: The Bible is a theological message.
> This short statement makes various assumptions.  First, I don't know what
> Bible you are referring to.

HH: It doesn't matter. The Tanakh is a theological message.
>   Probably not the Hebrew Bible, because you later
> quote Hebrews on the one hand, and suggest that my doubting the sources
> of the book of Ezra is a theological position.

HH: Doubting is a theological issue. Quoting the Book of Hebrews shows 
that some Israelites of the first century believed Haggai meant a 
certain thing. They're two thousand years closer to the reality than we 

>   The next issue is that the
> statement assumes that the Bible's theological message and the book of
> Haggai's theological message are one and the same. 

HH: There is a Jewish canon.

>  The various Bibles
> were put together years after the book of Haggai.  The choice whether to
> include books, including Haggai, carries with it a theological message that
> is different than that current during the authorship of Haggai.  The Samaritans
> which did not include the book of Haggai in their canon at all obviously had
> different considerations in mind.

HH: I don't care very much what the Samaritans thought. Salvation is 
from Israel, not the Samaritans.
>>>   That theological message and set of beliefs must
>>> be set aside, however, and the verses interpreted in their proper context to
>>> understand what Haggai was talking about.
>> HH: The theological message may be taken from the text rather than
>> imposed on it.
> The problem is when you use claims such as:
>> HH: The Jews of the first century saw the world shaking predicted by
>> Haggai as an event still in the future.

HH: That's not a problem. It is a fact.
> Now, putting aside whether the Jews of the first century did indeed hold
> this point of view, the fact is that this point of view is necessarily separate
> from Haggai, whose prophecy relates to events several hundred years
> earlier, and was probably authored several hundred years earlier.

HH: The discussion is about the proper interpretation of Haggai, and 
Israelites of the first century may be supposed to have had access to 
ancient traditions of interpreting Haggai.

>   That is,
> unless you are suggesting Haggai is a first century composition.  When
> you suggest that the theological message may be taken form the text
> but then go ahead to view the text as any part of a specific canon, the
> theological message used is that of the entire canon you are using.  If
> that canon happens to be the Christian Bible, then it is the Christian
> theology that you are using.

HH: I'm talking about what ancient Israelites thought the verse meant 
that is under discussion.

>    Haggai was speaking to a
> people who did not know of a third temple, who did not expect a third
> temple, who did not expect the Davidic line of kings to be interrupted.
>> HH: The Davidic line of kings had already been interrupted. The fact
>> that these people were not expecting a third temple is not determinative
>> because biblical prophecy sometimes speaks of events hundreds or even
>> thousands of years in advance of the fulfillment.
> Well, can you show that Haggai's theology assumes that prophecy sometimes
> speaks of events thousands of years in advance of fulfillment or is it your
> theology and had you lived in the 201st century, you'd have believed that
> prophecy can speak of events tens of thousands of years in advance?

HH: Why do I have to prove such elementary matters to you? Haggai was a 
Jewish prophet, and that's the way Jewish prophecy works. It is all 
through the Tanakh. But if you insist, the previous verses suggest as much:

Hag. 2:4 But now be strong, O Zerubbabel,’ declares the LORD. ‘Be 
strong, O Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you 
people of the land,’ declares the LORD, ‘and work. For I am with you,’ 
declares the LORD Almighty.
Hag. 2:5 ‘This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. 
And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear.’

HH: The Lord says that his treatment of Israel in Haggai's day is a 
fulfillment of prophecies or promises made when God brought Israel out 
of Egypt, which was many hundreds of years earlier by any biblical 
reckoning, and Haggai was a believer in Israel's religious heritage. 
Haggai is a very short book, and the issue does not otherwise arise.
>   In
> fact, can you show that Haggai's theology assumes that prophecy can speak
> of hundreds of years ahead when not saying so explicitly, and so when he
> speaks of Zerubbabel, he is in fact speaking symbolically of someone years
> hence? 

HH: Why should Haggai be any different than the other prophets? He is 
the Lord's prophet, and the Lord does not change. So what he does with 
one prophet he can do with another.

>  For example, the book of Kings was conceivably authored before
> Haggai in entirety, because it does not mention the Persian conquest.
> 1 Kings 13:2 brings forth a prophecy that would not come to pass for
> hundreds of years, but the prophecy is not symbolic at all.  When 1 Kings
> 11:29-39 is symbolic, it clearly explains the symbolism.  So why would
> Haggai think that all of a sudden, God is speaking in symbolism, that does
> not need to spelled out, of a period hundreds of years hence, that does not
> need to be spelled out, using a person who was an existent person at that
> time as the medium by which to pass the prophecy?

HH: For one thing, Haggai uses the prophetic phrase "in/on that day," 
which often refers to eschatological prophecy, prophecy to be fulfilled 
in the far distance (v. 23).

Hag. 2:21 “Tell Zerubbabel governor of Judah that I will shake the 
heavens and the earth.
Hag. 2:22 I will overturn royal thrones and shatter the power of the 
foreign kingdoms. I will overthrow chariots and their drivers; horses 
and their riders will fall, each by the sword of his brother.
Hag. 2:23 “‘On that day,’ declares the LORD Almighty, ‘I will take you, 
my servant Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will 
make you like my signet ring, for I have chosen you,’ declares the LORD 

HH: Second, it seems evident that there was no world shaking in the time 
of Zerubbabel that caused him to occupy a unique destiny as God's signet 
ring. He was already back in Israel, so getting him there was not part 
of the future world shaking God was talking about. When the Israelites 
saw that Zerubbabel's time did not present the fulfillment of the 
prophecy, they would realize that it had to be interpreted symbolically.
>   It is akin to a political
> commentator writing an analysis and probable forecast regarding the President
> of the United States, and yet when years later some particulars of that forecast
> don't seem to you to have taken place, you'd conclude that the commentator
> was speaking symbolically of some period thousands of years later and using
> the President only symbolically.

HH: You could look at things that way, but there is a strong current of 
such prophecies throughout the Bible, and particularly in the 
contemporaneous Book of Zechariah. They point forward to a Davidic ruler 
in the future.
> I think this is enough for now.  Let me just point out that when I said "the
> meaning of the prophecies" I meant, "The meaning, as the author of the book
> of Haggai, understood them."

HH: I presume Haggai would have had some understanding of what he was 
saying. I don't suppose he misunderstood himself.

>   Also, skepticism about the historical reality
> underlying the Biblical claims is not a theological position.

HH: Of course it is.
>   Theology is the
> study of the divine and the study of history does not need to be related to
> the study of the divine (unless that is a theological position you hold).

HH: The position the Tanakh holds is that theology does relate to 
historical events.

>   So
> the position that the book of Ezra must be historically accurate because it is
> in the divinely sanctioned canon of books is a theological position.But theview that the book of Ezra is not necessarily accurate is not a theological
> position.

HH: Reality counts, and discounting reality changes one's theology. 
Disassociating theology from biblical history inevitably affects one's 
theology about Scripture.

>   To put the point further, the book of Hebrews may be in your
> theological view, a 1st century book allowing us to see the views of the Jews
> at that time.  But for me, it is just a book, and you'd have to show me that
> it was composed in the 1st century, that it was representative of the views of
> Jews, and that the particular passage you are quoting is original to that book
> and are not a later addition by, just for example, 3rd century Christians.s

HH: I don't have to show you anything. And really, the impulse to find 
the truth must come from you. Seek and you will find. But if you insist 
on others proving everything for you, you may not find much.

> Similarly, if you claim the existence of a Medo-Persian empire, you're going
> to have to show that there was a Medo-Persian empire, not by relying just
> on the book of Daniel as it is preserved in manuscripts from the 1st BCE and
> onwards, but by evidence from the Persian period itself.  If you simply rely
> on theological positions to show that these two "facts" are true, then you
> are speaking to a rather limited audience -- those who accept the entire
> Christian Bible as authoritative and also accept that the interpretation you
> hold for the book of Daniel is historically accurate.

HH: Reality is reality. God expects faith of his people and appeals to 
faith. Furthermore, there is plenty of evidence already available about 
Cyrus, the Medes, and the Persians. You can find it many places, as you 
well know:


Especially, I recommend the Bible.

Harold Holmyard

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