‘YAHWEH’S PEOPLE’ IN THE ABRAHAMIC AND MOSAIC COVENANTS

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INTRODUCTION

The question “Who are Yahweh’s people?” can hardly be answered easily today because it might spark a whole range of responses or viewpoints from Jews and Christians alike (cf Goldingay 2003:224-226). This complexity may stem from the fact that what each religious group believes about the accounts from the Old and the New Testaments concerning the concept of ‘Yahweh’s people’ may differ from each other to a certain extent. This same question, I suppose, appeared to have sparked similar varied responses during the early post-exilic period in Ezra and Nehemiah.

MOTIVATION

One of the first questions that normally comes to the mind of a reader in a study like this is: what has motivated the researcher to do an investigation on such a topic? My response to such a question is that there are a number of factors that have motivated me to do research on the concept of ‘Yahweh’s people.’ The situation in my family as well as my religious and educational experiences, in one way or the other, have inspired me to write on the concept of ‘Yahweh’s people’. My interest to study the Bible academically and to contribute to the global theological discourse also forms part of this motivation.

STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

Much work has been done by scholars on several issues in Ezra and Nehemiah during the last twenty years 7. Through a brief study of this literature, it seems that little discussion has been done on the two theological perspectives in Ezra and Nehemiah on the conception of ‘Yahweh’s people’ and other nations, foreigners and aliens during the early post-exilic period (539-350 BC). In other words, the concept of ‘Yahweh’s people’ during the early post-exilic period in Ezra and Nehemiah appears to be one of the central theological trajectories that lay behind the conflicts in the books and should have deserved much more attention among scholars.

AIMS AND OBJECTIVES

There are several aims and objectives to this investigation. First, the research aims at showing that certain passages from the Abrahamic and the Mosaic covenants, according to my viewpoint, provide a covenantal framework through which the concept of ‘Yahweh’s people’ might be understood and applied to the covenant believing members of Israel and to other people who might originate from different races, nations, tribes and languages, who embrace Yahweh as their God through this appropriate covenant means.

Dedication
Acknowledgements
Abstract
CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION
1.1 INTRODUCTION
1.2 MOTIVATION
1.3 RELEVANCE OF THE STUDY
1.4 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
1.5 AIMS AND OBJECTIVES
1.6 HYPOTHESIS
1.7 METHODOLOGY AND DESIGN
1.8 CHAPTER DIVISION, ORTHOGRAPHY AND TERMINOLOGY
1.8.1 Chapter division
1.8.2 Orthography
1.8.3 Terminology
CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW ON THE BOOKS OF EZRA AND NEHEMIAH
2.1 INTRODUCTION
2.2 DATE AND AUTHORSHIP
2.3 UNITY WITH 1 AND 2 CHRONICLES
2.4 COMPOSITION, CHRONOLOGY AND UNITY
2.5 SHESHBAZZAR AND ZERUBBABEL
2.6 BOOK OF THE LAW
2.7 OWNERSHIP OF THE LAND OF JUDAH
2.8 ADMINISTRATIVE STATUS OF THE STATE OF JUDAH
2.9 THEOLOGY OF EZRA AND NEHEMIAH
2.9.1 Movement theology
2.9.2 Rebuilding of two walls
2.9.3 Theology of continuity
2.9.4 Theologies of crying, intermarriage, covenant, retribution and Torah
2.10 FACTORS BEHIND THE TENSION IN EZRA-NEHEMIAH
2.10.1 Prohibition of intermarriage
2.10.2 Women in Ezra 9-10
2.10.3 Identity and attitude of the Samaritans
2.10.4 Concept of ‘Yahweh’s people’
2.11 SYNTHESIS
CHAPTER 3 ANCIENT NEAR EASTERN TREATY AND ABRAHAMIC COVENANT
3.1 INTRODUCTION
3.2 ANCIENT NEAR EASTERN TREATY/COVENANT
3.2.1 Definition of the term tyrIB
3.2.2 Origin and meaning of the term
3.2.3 Ancient Near Eastern treaty form
3.2.3.1 Identification of the covenant giver
3.2.3.2 Historical prologue
3.2.3.3 Stipulations
3.2.3.4 Preservation and periodic public reading
3.2.3.5 Witnesses to the treaty
3.2.3.6 Blessing and curses
3.2.3.7 Ratification ceremony
3.2.3.8 Imposition of the curses
3.3 ABRAHAMIC COVENANT
3.3.1 Literary context of the Abrahamic covenant
3.3.2 Structure of Genesis
3.3.3 Movement of the narrative
3.3.4 Characteristic elements of the Abrahamic covenant
3.3.4.1 Identification of the covenant giver
3.3.4.2 Historical prologue
3.3.4.3 Stipulations/obligations
3.3.4.4 Preservation and/or periodic public reading
3.3.4.5 Witnesses to the treaty
3.3.4.6 Blessing and curses
3.3.4.7 Ratification ceremony
3.4 IMPLICATIONS OF THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANT.
3.4.1 Exclusive and inclusive character
3.4.2 Yahweh unilaterally administered the covenant
3.4.3 Goal(s) or value(s) of the Abrahamic covenant
3.4.3.1 Yahweh will be Abraham’s God
3.4.3.2 Leadership, obedience, righteousness and justice
3.4.3.3 Abraham will be blessed and be a channel of blessing
3.4.3.4 Covenant as a means of Yahweh’s self-revelation
3.4.3.5 Redemption of Abraham’s descendants
3.4.4 Significance of name change
3.5 EZRA, NEHEMIAH AND THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANT
3.5.1 Introduction
3.5.2 Ezra, Nehemiah and the Abrahamic covenant
3.6 CONCLUSION
3.7 EXCURSUS: Blessing of other nations
3.7.1 Introduction
3.7.2 Passive interpretation of barak
3.7.3 Reflexive interpretation of barak
3.7.4 Examining the passive interpretation of the verb forms
CHAPTER 4 ‘YAHWEH’S PEOPLE’ IN THE ABRAHAMIC AND MOSAIC COVENANTS
4.1 INTRODUCTION
4.2 SOURCE OF THE NAME AND CULT OF ‘YAHWEH’
4.2.1 Israelite origin
4.2.2 Non-Israelite origin
4.2.3 Pentateuchal perspectives on Yahweh and his cult
4.2.3.1 Pre-Mosaic source tradition
4.2.3.2 Mosaic source tradition
4.3 YAHWEH’S PEOPLE IN THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANT
4.3.1 Introduction
4.3.2 Yahweh promises to become Abraham’s God
4.3.3 Significance of the name ‘Abraham’
4.3.4 Circumcision
4.3.5 Yahweh’s promise to other nations via Abraham
4.4 YAHWEH’S PEOPLE IN THE MOSAIC COVENANT
4.4.1 Introduction
4.4.2 Israel (and other nations): the people of Yahweh
4.4.2.1 Food provision
4.4.2.2 Sabbath-keeping
4.4.2.3 Celebration of Passover, feasts of Weeks and Tabernacles
4.4.2.4 Equality before the Law of Yahweh
4.4.2.5 Intermarriage
4.4.2.6 Sacrificial offering
4.4.2.7 Cities of refuge
4.5 CONCLUSION
4.6 EXCURSUS: Terms
CHAPTER 5 PERSPECTIVES ON ‘YAHWEH’S PEOPLE’ IN EZRA AND NEHEMIAH
5.1 INTRODUCTION
5.2 EZRA NARRATIVE
5.2.1 Structural projects
5.2.1.1 King Cyrus’ orders
5.2.1.2 Work on the altar
5.2.1.3 Work on the temple
5.2.2 Religious, social and cultural reforms
5.2.2.1 Celebration of the Passover
5.2.2.2 Marriage reforms
5.2.3 Conclusion
5.3 NEHEMIAH NARRATIVE
5.3.1 Structural projects
5.3.1.1 King Artaxerxes’ orders.
5.3.1.2 Work on the city wall
5.3.2 Religious and social reforms
5.3.2.1 Confession of sins
5.3.2.2 Signing an agreement
5.3.2.3 Law of Moses
5.3.2.4 Sabbath reforms
5.3.2.5 Marriage reforms
5.3.3 Conclusion
5.4 EXCURSUS: Terms associated with the golah community as ‘Yahweh’s people’
CHAPTER 6 SYNTHESIS
6.1 INTRODUCTION
6.2 MOTIVATION
6.3 RELEVANCE
6.4 METHODOLOGY AND DESIGN
6.5 AIMS AND OBJECTIVES
6.6 HYPOTHESES
6.7 SUMMARY OF CHAPTERS
6.8 FINAL SYNTHESIS
6.9 POSTSCRIPT
BIBLIOGRAPHY

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THEOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVES ON THE CONCEPT OF ‘YAHWEH’S PEOPLE’ IN EZRA AND NEHEMIAH DURING THE EARLY POST- EXILIC PERIOD (539-350 BC)

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