Re: prophets gave little support as a rule to the Levitical Law?

Date: Sat Feb 22 2003 - 08:41:47 EST

  • Next message: "Re: prophets gave little support as a rule to levitical law?"

    In a message dated 2/22/03 3:14:42 AM Eastern Standard Time, writes:

    > Rich wrote:
    > > I will concede that in the examples below, it is the priests and scribes
    > who supported levitical law, but it is inconceivable to me that the
    > prophets would be anti-supportive. Perhaps the prophets might be
    > anti-supportive of the priestly class when they abandoned the law as Jesus
    > was when they favored the letter of the law rather than the spirit of the
    > law, but I would appreciate if you could give me an example of a prophet
    > with a reference who gave little support 'as a rule' to Levitical law and
    > an example of a prophet who was 'anti-supportive.'

    don replied:

    > A good example of what I mean by anti-supportive is Isaiah 1:10-17. Isaiah
    > tells the people that all their observances of the ceremonial laws are
    > offensive to God because they are not observing the moral laws and the law
    > against having other gods, which have priority. The prophets are not
    > exactly telling people to stop obeying the ceremonial laws; they're saying
    > that obeying such low-priority laws while violating the high-priority laws
    > wins them God's ill will rather than his favor. It would be better for
    > them, the prophets seem to be saying, if they didn't even try to obey the
    > ceremonial laws. That's what I mean by "anti-supportive."
    > The prophets of course were well aware of the Levitical laws, they just
    > rarely concentrated on promoting them. Isaiah, however, promotes
    > observance of the Sabbath in chapter 56, as does Jeremiah in chapter 17 (in
    > a section I find out of place; I think some scribe added it later).
    > Ezekiel also mentions several times in chapter 20 that a man who obeys
    > God's laws will live by them--but that is in connection with a recitation
    > of how the Israelites had been persistently unfaithful, and it's not
    > primarily an admonition to keep the laws. Ezekiel himself seemed to be a
    > stickler for keeping ceremonial laws (see chapter 4:12f). A tentative
    > conclusion from this hit & miss-type survey is that the prophets felt
    > keeping the Sabbath had a rather higher priority than doing the sacrifices
    > and observing the festivals.
    > I believe the Babylonian captivity was so traumatic for the Jews that it
    > shrank them in the sense that they could no longer love God in
    > freedom--like David, for instance--but felt tied down to the letter of the
    > law like never before. They became legalistic nit pickers. Rather than
    > heeding the prophets and getting their priorities right, they started down
    > the road to Phariseeism.
    > Don

    rich responds:
    Hosea talks about the priests and the people. He says: "They shall eat but
    not be satisifed, they shall play the harlot but not increase." (hosea 4:10)
    The priests and the people are guilty of "false swearing, lying, murder,
    stealing and adultery!" (hosea 4:2)
    Playing the harlot is abandoning the Lord. These evil behaviors listed are
    immoral behaviors, contrary to the Law, not ceremonies/rituals. Notice the
    "not increase." I suggest that means population increase, the legacy promised
    to Abraham. If you review Lev. 18, all the behaviors prohibited if practiced
    result in population decrease.

    In an introduction to the book of amos in a Catholic Bible we find: "Amos was
    no innovator, his conservatism was in keeping with the whole prophetic
    tradition calling people back to the high moral and religious demands of
    Yahweh's revelation." Not ceremony...

    Don, you wrote:
    Ezekiel also mentions several times in chapter 20 that a man who obeys God's
    laws will live by them--but that is in connection with a recitation of how
    the Israelites had been persistently unfaithful, and it's not primarily an
    admonition to keep the laws.

    I simply ask, do you need an explicit reference to a specific Levitical Law
    chapter and verse to see that the laws to which Ezekiel refers cannot ever
    exclude Levitical Law? The Levites were commissioned specially by Moses,
    hence Mosaic Law.

    I do not see that the prophets were concerned with ceremony - quite the
    contrary. They prophecy in the face of pestilence, famine, invasion,
    corruption, idolatry. I do not see a ceremonial focus here.

    You say the post-exilic Jews became legalistic nitpickers as a result of
    trauma. If your finest people had been taken away from your land and then
    returned a generation or two later, to live among the lower classes who had
    remained and you wanted to be sure to maintain the composition of the elite
    class that was returning you would strictly reinforce the laws of endogamy to
    prevent the returning Jews from intermarrying with the lower classes who were
    left behind and had mingled with the nations and participated in their
    abominations. This is precisely what Ezra and Nehemiah do. They are
    nit-picking with a very specific purpose in mind, and remember I don't
    believe they are as traumatized as you say since I suggested previously
    (supported by Olmstead of the U of C) that they acted as a 5th column within
    Babylon to help the Persians take it. It is the Persians who finance the
    Jewish return to Zion. As Joseph became counselor to the pharoah, the Jews
    have become counselors to the Babylonians (Daniel) they weaken and the
    Persians whose cause they advance.
    This is not without precedent. Tiglath Pilaser III had made Israel a tax
    paying vassal of assyria in 738 BC. Assyrian war tactic was to erase national
    identities by way of population transfer. The mixed mongrel populace that
    resulted from the Assyrian conquest become known as the Samaritans, still
    outcasts by Jews in the New Testament period.

    Do any of us want our children to grow up among "Jerry Springer" types? Of
    course not.

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