November 30, 2011

Amos 3.12->

Thus says the Lord:

"As the shepherd rescues from the mouth of the lion
two legs, or a piece of an ear,
so shall the people of Israel who dwell in Samaria be rescued,
with the corner of a couch and part of a bed.

"Hear, and testify against the house of Jacob,"
says the Lord God, the God of hosts,

"that on the day I punish Israel for his transgressions
I will punish the altars of Bethel,
and the horns of the altar shall be cut off
and fall to the ground.

"I will smite the winter house
with the summer house
and the houses of ivory shall perish,
and the great houses shall come to an end,"
says the Lord.


At 3:47 p.m., Blogger forrest said...

"I will punish the altars of Bethel"...

Back when the inhabitants of "Israel" (the northern kingdom) reclaimed their independence from Solomon's successor, their new King "Jeroboam said in his heart... 'If this people go up to offer sacrifices in the House of the Lord in Jerusalem, then the heart of this people will turn again to... Rehoboam King of Judah, and they will kill me and return to their lord Rehoboam King of Judah'...

"So the King took counsel, and made two calves of gold. And he said to the people, 'You have gone up to Jerusalem long enough. Behold your gods, oh Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.' And he set one up in Bethel, and the other one he put in Dan."

Okay, the prophets we've been reading about (many of them connected with YHWH's cult in Jerusalem) have been downright obsessive about these shrines. Because those shrines threatened to give the northern Kings a controllable state religion of their own, in opposition to the Temple back in Jerusalem.

But it also looks like the Temple priests have always wanted to centralize worship, & especially sacrifices, in Jerusalem under their own auspices, and those of the King of Judah. Worship on 'the high places' continues from Solomon's time (before he completes the Temple) until Joshia's reign, when someone "finds" "the Book of the Law"[ie Deuteronomy] in the Temple. But the Temple authorities probably wish it didn't!

This "calves" (bulls) and the lines, "These are your gods, oh Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt," ought to catch everybody's attention. Solomon had strong ties to Egypt, and instituted forced labor for his building projects from "Israel" (not necessarily from his home kingdom of Judah!), an unpopular policy that eventually led to Jeroboam's revolt, when Solomon's son 'refused to lighten the yoke' his father had laid on Israel.

Wherever the Exodus story originated... it looks to have been very pointedly reformulated, with these events in mind! [I've been reading a book that claims to sort all this out, but I'm still very far from seeing, myself, quite how this worked. Help?]


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