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Writing as Oracle and as Law: New Contexts for the Book-Find of King Josiah

Author(s): Jonathan Ben-Dov


Source: Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 127, No. 2 (Summer, 2008), pp. 223-239
Published by: The Society of Biblical Literature
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JBL 127,
no. 2
(2008):
223-239
Writing
as
Oracle and
as
Law:
New Contexts for the Book-Find
of
King
Josiah
JONATHAN
BEN-DOV
jbendov@research.haifa.ac.il
University
of
Haifa,
Mount
Carmel,
Haifa
31905,
Israel
Two recent collections of articles have introduced new
horizons to the
study
of
prophetic
literature:
Writings
and
Speech
in Israelite and Ancient Near Eastern
Prophecy
(2000)
and
Prophets, Prophecy,
and
Prophetic
Texts in Second
Temple
Judaism (2006).1
These volumes have
given
the formal
stamp
to a
trend that has
already gained
some influence in recent research. This new
agenda
centers on the
relation between the mantic
arts,
prophecy,
and the scribal culture. Based on
the
commonly accepted
view that the lion's share of the
production
of
prophetic
books
was
carried out
by
scribes rather than
prophets, scholarly
effort is
increasingly
focusing
on
the
relationships among prophets,
diviners,
and scribes in order to
ascertain the
precise
role each of these
parties played
in the
"publishing"
process
of
a
prophetic
book.2 In
addition,
more
attention is
being paid
to the relevance of
This
paper
was first
presented
in a
workshop
entitled "The Roles of Books in Ancient Soci
eties" at the Institute of Advanced Studies at the Hebrew
University
in
June
2005.1 would like to
thank Professors
Guy
Stroumsa and
Margalit Finkelberg,
the
organizers
of the
workshop,
as well
as
the
participants
of the
group.
In
addition,
Professor Bustenai Oded read the article and made
helpful
comments.
English
translations of biblical material follow the
NJPS
version.
1
Ehud Ben Zvi and Michael H.
Floyd,
eds.,
Writings
and
Speech
in Israelite and Ancient Near
Eastern
Prophecy
(SBLSS 10;
Atlanta:
Society
of Biblical
Literature,
2000);
Michael H.
Floyd
and
Robert D.
Haak, eds.,
Prophets, Prophecy,
and
Prophetic
Texts in Second
Temple
Judaism
(Library
of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies
427;
New
York/London: T&T
Clark, 2006).
2
See Lester L.
Grabbe, Priests,
Prophets,
Diviners,
Sages:
A Socio-Historical
Study of
Reli
gious Specialists
in Ancient Israel
(Valley Forge,
PA:
Trinity
Press
International,
1995); James
C.
VanderKam,
"Prophecy
and
Apocalyptic
in the Ancient Near
East,"
CANE
3:2083-94;
Anne Marie
Kitz,
"Prophecy
as
Divination," CBQ
65
(2003): 22-42;
E.
Cancik-Kirschbaum,
"Prophetismus
und Divination?Ein Blick auf die keilinschriftlichen
Quellen,"
in
Propheten
in
Mari,
Assyrien,
und
223
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224
Journal
of
Biblical Literature
127,
no. 2
(2008)
extrabiblical
prophetic
texts,
the
study
of which has introduced
new data to the
already weighty
discourse on biblical
prophetic
literature.3
Finally, acknowledg
ment of
early
Judaisms
textual orientation has
augmented
the consideration
being
given
to the
gradual
textualization of
prophecy4
Given the increased
importance
of
writing
and
books,
on
the one
hand,
and
the enormous
scholarly
interest in the book-find of
King
Josiah,
on the other
hand,
it is a natural
step
to relate the two issues. The narrative of 2
Kings
22-23 stands at
the intersection of various streams of tradition in ancient Israel
regarding
the value
of written documents. A diachronic
analysis
of the
story's composition
and the
books
implied
contents reveals
a
burgeoning appreciation
for the "Book" in Israelite
religion, constituting
the foundation stone for what in due course would
emerge
as
the
"religion
of the Book." It will be
suggested
below that a
pre-Deuteronomistic
(pre-Dtr)
narrative?embedded in 2
Kings
22-23?conceived of the book not as a
document of law but as a
sign
from
heaven,
part
of the routine oracular
procedure
in ancient Near Eastern
royal
courts.
The
particular
value attributed to texts in
Jewish
sources is
usually
considered
to be a
product
of the
Babylonian
exile,
during
which the scattered
community
was
cut off from the
temple
cult. As
James
L.
Kugel
has
noted, however,
"This
change,
certainly
characteristic of
post-exilic
life,
is
probably
not a mere reflex of events of
the
exile_[S]omething
of the
growing independent
life of texts
may perhaps
be
glimpsed
even
among writings
that
preceded
the return."5
In the
present
article,
I wish to
highlight
the value attributed to written texts
in
preexilic
Israelite
religion.
At the same
time,
I will
ground
this
religious concept
in the matrix of ancient Near Eastern
religions,
thus
tracing possible origins
for the
concept
noted
by Kugel.
Israel
(ed.
Matthias K?ckert and Martti
Nissinen;
FRLANT
201;
G?ttingen:
Vandenhoeck &
Ruprecht,
2003)
33-53.
3
See the articles
by
John
Van
Seters,
Karel van der
Toorn,
and Martti
Nissinen,
in
Writings
and
Speech,
ed. Ben Zvi and
Floyd,
and the articles
by
Nissinen and Armin
Lange
in
Prophets,
Prophecy
and
Prophetic
Texts,
ed.
Floyd
and Haak.
4
See
esp.
Michael H.
Floyd,
'"Write the Revelation!'
(Hab 2:2):
Re-imagining
the Cultural
History
of
Prophecy,"
in
Writings
and
Speech,
103-43; idem,
"The Production of
Prophetic
Books
in the
Early
Second
Temple
Period,"
in
Prophets, Prophecy
and
Prophetic
Texts, 276-97; Joachim
Schaper,
"The Death of the
Prophet:
The Transition from the
Spoken
to the Written Word of God
in the Book of
Ezekiel,"
in
Prophets, Prophecy
and
Prophetic
Texts, 63-79; idem,
"Exilic and Post
exilic
Prophecy
and the
Orality/Literacy
Problem,"
VT 55
(2005):
324-42;
Hindy Najman,
"The
Symbolic Significance
of
Writing
in Ancient
Judaism,"
in The Idea
of
Biblical
Interpretation: Essays
in Honor
of
James
L.
Kugel
(ed.
Hindy Najman
and
Judith
H.
Newman;
JSJSup
83;
Leiden:
Brill,
2004),
139-73.
5
James
L.
Kugel, "Early Interpretation:
The Common
Background
of Late Forms of Bibli
cal
Exegesis,"
in idem and Rowan A.
Greer,
Early
Biblical
Interpretation
(LEC
3;
Philadelphia:
Westminster, 1986),
17.
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Ben-Dov:
Writing
as
Oracle and as Law 225
Josiah
was not the first ancient
king
to enact a
religious
reform. Nadav Naa
man has summarized the similarities between
Josiahs
acts and those of other reli
gious
reforms.6 In a
lecture delivered before the Israeli
Academy
of
Sciences,
he
discussed issues of
royal authority, religious
initiative,
and the
public response
to
the cult reform. Here I aim to
clarify
an additional element that was
only
touched
on
by
Naaman: the divine oracles adduced
by
the monarch as an endorsement for
his
plan. Although
the motif of the book-find as oracular
support
for
religious
acts
has been discussed in
previous scholarship,7
it is now time to
investigate
it
again
with new sources and renewed
perspectives.
More
specifically, recognition
of the
role of "the book that was found" as an oracular
object may
enhance our under
standing
of the use of written media in the
prophetic process.
I. Torah?From Divine Oracle to Law Code
and
Canon
Since
Josiah's
book is
frequently designated
"the Book of torah"
a
prelimi
nary
discussion of the
polyvalent
Hebrew term mm
(tora)
and the various mean
ings
it carries in the Hebrew Bible constitutes a
critical task. Michael Fishbane has
demonstrated the
development
of
(the
concept
of)
min in Hebrew
religion
and
thought
up
to the time of its status as a
prominent symbol
of
Judaism.8
1 , from
the root ,
designates any
kind of instruction?such as the words of a
parent
to
a
child
(Prov 6:20;
7:1-2)
or a
teachers instruction of
a
disciple
(Prov 13:14).
While
this
meaning
of the
term,
common in wisdom
literature,
retains a secular
aspect,9
elsewhere in biblical literature 1
conveys
a
divine
message,
mediated
by
a
6
Nadav
Na'aman,
The Past That
Shapes
the Present: The Creation
of
Biblical
Historiography
in the Late First
Temple
Period and
after
the
Downfall
(in Hebrew; Jerusalem: Bialik, 2002),
47
48.
7
E.
Naville,
"Egyptian Writings
in Foundation
Walls,
and the
Age
of the Book of Deuteron
omy," Proceedings of
the
Society of
Biblical
Archaeology
29
(1907): 232-42;
S.
Euringer,
"Die
?gyp
tischen und keilinschriftlichen
Analogien
zum
Fund des Codex Helciae
(4Kg
22 u. 2 Chr
34),"
BZ
10
(1912): 13-23;
Wolfgang Speyer, B?cherfunde
in der
Glaubenswerbung
der Antike: Mit einem
Ausblick
auf
Mittelalter und Neuzeit
(Hypomnemata
24;
G?ttingen:
Vandenhoeck &
Ruprecht,
1970);
Lowell
.
Handy,
"Historical
Probability
and the Narrative of
Josiah's
Reform in II
Kgs,"
in The Pitcher Is Broken: Memorial
Essays for
G?sta W. Ahlstr?m
(ed.
Steven W.
Holloway
and
Lowell K.
Handy; JSOTSup
190;
Sheffield: Sheffield Academic
Press,
1995),
252-75;
Thomas C.
R?mer, "Transformations in Deuteronomistic and Biblical
Historiography:
On
'Book-finding'
and Other
Literary Strategies,"
AW 109
(1997):
1-11.
8
Michael
Fishbane,
"Torah"
(in Hebrew),
Encyclopaedia MiqraHt
(Jerusalem: Bialik,
1971
88)
8:469-83. See also Felix Garcia
Lopez,
"min
t?rah,"
TWAT
8:597-637;
Moshe
Greenberg,
"Three
Conceptions
of the Torah in Hebrew
Scriptures,"
in Die Hebr?ische Bibel und ihre
zweifache
Nachgeschichte: Festschrift f?r Rolf Rendtorff
zum 65.
Geburtstag
(ed.
Erhard Blum et
al.;
Neukirchen-Vluyn:
Neukirchener
Verlag,
1990),
365-78.
9
Fishbane, "Torah,"
480.
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226
Journal
of
Biblical Literature
127,
no. 2
(2008)
prophet, priest,
or diviner. It is this
signification primarily
that is relevant to the
present
discussion.
As the word of God mediated
by
Gods
agents,
mm is
expressed
in various
forms. In
Priestly
literature,
it takes the
shape
of
a
short cultic
instruction,
cover
ing any
of the situations
occurring
in the
priest's profession.
The Sitz im Leben of
the
priestly
mm can be seen in
Hag
2:11-13.
Priestly
instructions were recorded
on short
scrolls,
each
carrying
a
specific
instruction and marked
by
a
colophon,
at
either the
beginning
or
the end.10 Those
scrolls, however,
are never
designated by
the term 50
(seper).11
An additional form of divine instruction was mediated
by
the
prophets.
The
prophetic message
is
usually
termed 2
(d?b?r, "word"),
but on several occa
sions?notably
in First Isaiah?mm indicates the divine word. This can be seen
from the
parallelism
of mm and 1 in Isa
1:10,
as well as in Isa 2:3: "mm will
come forth from Zion / and the
,
of the Lord from
Jerusalem" (cf.
Isa
8:16; 42:4;
51:4).12
Proverbs 29:18
preserves
the
parallelism
of
(h?zdn,
"prophetic
vision")
and
mm,
reinforcing
the oracular
aspect
of mm.
The
prophetic
use of the term mm as a divine oracle resembles the
cognate
Akkadian term
tertu(m).13
Alongside
its administrative
usage,
this Akkadian term
is
strongly
connected to
divinatory practices, mainly by extispicy,
in which the deci
sion of the
god
revealed in the form of the
inspected
liver is
perceived
as an
"instruction" to the human realm.
Tertu(m)
carries the
meaning
"decree,
commis
sion issued
by gods,"
but also
more
specifically "extispicy"
and even
"exta,
liver."14
The use of
tertu(m)
as the instruction of
an
oracle is
especially pronounced
in the
inscriptions
of the
Babylonian king
Nabonidus,
whose
particular importance
for
the
present topic
will be discussed below.15
A wider
meaning
is attached to mm in
Deuteronomy
and its related litera
ture.16 Here the term often refers to the novel
concept
of
an
all-embracing
collec
10
Michael
Fishbane,
"Biblical
Colophons,
Textual Criticism,
and
Legal Analogies,"
CBQ
42
(1980):
438-49;
Garcia
Lopez,
"
1
," 605-6;
Jacob
Milgrom,
Leviticus 1-16: A New Translation
with Introduction and
Commentary
(AB
3;
New York:
Doubleday,
1991),
382-83.
11
Menahem Haran,
The Biblical Collection: Its Consolidation
to the End
of
the Second Tem
ple
Times and
Changes of
Form to the End
of
the Middle
Ages
(in Hebrew; Jerusalem: Bialik, 2003),
2:35.
12
Fishbane, "Torah," 473;
cf. Hans
Wildberger,
Isaiah 1-12: A
Commentary
(trans.
Thomas H.
Trapp;
Continental Commentaries;
Minneapolis:
Fortress, 1991),
91.
13
Garcia
Lopez,
"
1
," 600,
and
bibliography given
there.
14
CAD
T, 363-67;
cf.
AHw,
s.v.
tertu(m),
1350B:
"Weisung(en)
von
G?ttern,
Opferschau,
Omina,"
and in Mari
"
Wortorakel."
15
See the
glossary
in
Hanspeter Schaudig,
Die
Inschriften
Nabonids
von
Babylon
und
Kyros'
des Grossen,
samt den in ihrem
Umfeld
entstandenen
Tendenzschriften: Textausgabe
und Gram
matik
(AOAT
256;
M?nster:
Ugarit,
2001),
686.
16
Several mentions of in
Deuteronomy
still retain the
simpler meaning
"oracle"
(17:11;
33:4).
On the
priestly
oracular
judgment
in Deut
17:8-13,
see Bernard M.
Levinson,
Deuteronomy
and the Hermeneutics
of Legal
Innovation
(Oxford:
Oxford
University
Press, 1998),
127-30. It is
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Ben-Dov:
Writing
as
Oracle and as Law 227
tion of laws. In
Deuteronomy,
the mm moves from
being merely
a
marginal
ele
ment in Israelite
religion
to
being
its core.17 mm
designates
the entire book of
Deuteronomy
and subunits in
it,
as is clear from the book's
incipit
(1:5)?"Moses
undertook to
expound
this
mm";
it is also "the mm that Moses set before the
Israelites"
(4:44;
cf.
4:8; 17:18; 27:3;
etc.).
Menahem Haran has noted that Deuteron
omy?or,
more
specifically,
source
D,
which constitutes the core of the
present
Deuteronomy?views
itself as the initial embodiment of a
canonical
composition
in
Israel.18 For the first
time,
the word of
God,
through
the
speech
of his
servant,
Moses,
is
incorporated
within one
comprehensive
document,
whose observance is
a
necessary
and sufficient condition for
attaining
the
required degree
of
piety.
In
place
of the
plural
form,
known from other sources
(e.g.,
Lev
26:46;
Ezek
43:11;
44:24),
Deuteronomy
uses
the
singular
form
mm,
often with the definite
article,
turning
mm into a
specific
document. The final
chapters
of
Deuteronomy
contain several mentions of "the book of mm"
(Deut 28:61; 29:20; 30:10; 31:26;
and
passim),
thus
adding
further
emphasis
to the works written
aspect.19
In these
chapters,
the mm is referred to as "this mm"
(28:58; 31:11-12;
and
passim)?as
if from the outside?as
a
complete
and self-contained document.20
Deuteronomy gives special
attention to
writing
as a medium for the word of
God.21
Thus,
in
31:9,24,
Moses writes a mm scroll and
assigns
it to the
priests
for
preservation;
"All the words of this mm" should be
copied
on
twelve
stones,
serv
ing
as memorial stelae for Yhwh's covenant
(27:2-3, 8),
while the
king
is ordered
to inscribe a
personal copy
of the mm
(17:18).22
In Deut 6:9 and 11:20 the
people
are
required
to write "the
words,"
on the door
posts
and
gates
of their
dwellings.
revealing
to note that the oracular
judgment
of the
priests
in Deut 17:8-11 is transformed in the
Temple
Scroll
(11QT1 LVI.2-8)
into a textual one:
"According
to the word
they
will tell
you from
the Book
of
the torah?
17
See Yehezkel
Kaufmann,
The
Religion of
Israel: From Its
Beginnings
to the
Babylonian
Exile
(trans,
and
abridged
Moshe
Greenberg; Chicago: Chicago University
Press, 1960), 174-75;
Barnabas
Lindars,
"Torah in
Deuteronomy,"
in Words and
Meanings: Essays
Presented to David
Winton Thomas on His Retirement
from
the
Regius Professorship of
Hebrew in the
University of
Cambridge,
1968
(ed.
Peter R.
Ackroyd
and Barnabas
Lindars;
Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 1968), 117-36,
esp.
131.
18Haran,
Biblical
Collection,
2:170-84. A more intricate view of the
relationship
between
Deuteronomy
and the Book of Torah is
presented
in
Jean-Pierre Sonnet,
The Book within the
Book:
Writing
in
Deuteronomy
(BIS 14;
Leiden:
Brill, 1997), esp.
259-62.
19
The Hebrew "13 D can
designate any
written document:
a
letter,
a
scroll,
a
legal
note,
and
so on
(see BDB).
I use the translations "book" and "scroll"
indiscriminately.
On the
question
whether "l?)D can also denote an
ostracon,
see Nadav
Naaman,
"The Distribution of
Messages
in
the
Kingdom
of
Judah
in
Light
of the Lachish
Ostraca,"
VT 53
(2003):
178 n. 17.
20Haran,
Biblical
Collection, 2:71; Sonnet,
Book within the
Book,
103-12.
21
Haran,
Biblical
Collection, 2:174-84;
cf. Ehud Ben
Zvi,
"Introduction:
Writings, Speeches,
and the
Prophetic Books?Setting
an
Agenda,"
in
Writings
and
Speech,
ed. Ben Zvi and
Floyd,
7-8.
22
The
meaning
of mwn in Deut 17:18 is "a second
(copy
of
the) min"; (on
the
implications
of the
copying
of 1 , see
Sonnet,
Book within
a
Book,
72-78).
A similar
concept
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228
Journal
of
Biblical Literature
127,
no. 2
(2008)
In
summary,
in
Deuteronomy
mm combines elements from all the various
meanings
adduced above. It is a
divinely inspired composition,
which
corresponds
to the use of the term in
prophetic
circles. It is also the testament of a
great
master,
Moses,
in which he instructs his
disciples
in
proper
conduct.23 The reader of
Deuteronomy,
like the reader of Proverbs
(1:9;
3:3, 22; 4:9; 6:21-22;
7:3),
is
urged
to meditate on the words of the mm while awake and when
retiring,
in his house
and outside
it,
to write the mm on his door
posts,
and to tie it as a
jewel
on his arms
and forehead
(Deut 6:6-9;
11:18-20).
At the same
time,
like the
priestly
(t?r?t),
min in
Deuteronomy
also constitutes a
collection of commandments.
While the
priestly
1 1 were short statutes known to
priests only,
the Deutero
nomic mm was a
comprehensive
law
code,
with which
every
individual under the
covenant should become familiar. It was
Deuteronomy
that first created the
equa
tion: mm
=
word of God
=
law.24
The Deuteronomic mm was dominant
throughout
the redaction of the his
torical
books,
Deuteronomistic
(Dtr)
authors
employing
mm as one of their
pri
mary
guidelines.25
In this
respect,
Josiahs
reign brings
Dtr
history
to its climax
when,
for the first
time,
mm is
publicly
declared to be the ultimate
source of
authority.
2
Kings
23:1-3 narrates how
Josiah
read the "words of the "12 D of the
covenant" to the
people
in
public
and
required
their commitment to them. What
causes one to
wonder, however,
is the extent to which the
centrality
of the Book of
mm in 2
Kings
22-23 itself constitutes the
product
of
a Dtr writer. In other
words,
the
question
we should be
asking
ourselves is whether the
place
of mmn 20 in
2
Kings
22-23 reflects the view of
a
pre-Dtr
author
regarding
the
original
course
of events or that of later writers.
My suggestion
here is that the crucial act of the
book-find
may
have carried
nuances in its
original setting
different from those
attributed to it
by
Dtr
authors,
who wrote
approximately
a
century post factum.
A
can be seen in the
royal
court of
Assyria,
where
King Assurbanipal kept
a
luxurious
copy
of the
omen series Enurna Anu Enlil for his
own
perusal,
the
monarchy being
the institution most in
need of divine instruction. See Simo
Parpola,
Letters
from Assyrian
Scholars to the
Kings
Essarhad
don and
Assurbanipal
(AO
AT
5.1-2;
Kevelaer: Butzon &
Bercker;
Neukirchen-Vluyn:
Neukirch
ener
Verlag,
1983;
repr.,
Winona
Lake,
IN:
Eisenbrauns, 2007),
no. 319
(=
SAA
8,19).
Similarly,
Nabonidus ordered tablets of the same omen series to be sent to him in
Arabia,
where he
spent
a
great part
of his
reign.
For this
episode,
see Peter Machinist and
Hayim
Tadmor,
"Heavenly
Wis
dom,"
in The Tablet and the Scroll: Near Eastern Studies in Honor
of
William W. Hallo
(ed.
Mark E.
Cohen et
al; Bethesda,
MD:
CDL, 1993),
146-51.
23
For the indebtedness of
Deuteronomy
to wisdom
traditions,
see
classically
Moshe Wein
feld,
Deuteronomy
and the Deuteronomic School
(Oxford:
Clarendon, 1972),
244-81.
24
This
equation
became dominant in
subsequent phases
of
Judaism,
until the of Moses
was
finally
identified
as
nomos, "law." See the classic treatment in Charles H.
Dodd,
The Bible and
the Greeks
(London:
Hodder &
Stoughton,
1935), 25-42;
Garcia
Lopez,
"min,"
634-35.
25
See the roster of Deuteronomistic terms
relating
to min in
Weinfeld,
Deuteronomy
and
the Deuteronomic
School, 334-39;
G.
J.
Venema,
Reading Scripture
in the Old Testament: Deuteron
omy
9-10, 31,
2
Kings
22-23, Jeremiah 36,
Nehemiah 8
(OTS
48; Leiden: Brill, 2004),
50-52.
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Ben-Dov:
Writing
as Oracle and
as Law 229
similar
process
of
development
of min from oracle to law as
outlined above
may
also have taken
place
with
regard
to the
understanding
of
Josiah's
book-find.
II. The Composition
of 2
Kings
22-23
and the
Roles of the
Book
The
historical-literary analysis
of 2
Kings
22-23 has been the
subject
of
numerous studies in the
past sixty years
and is too
complex
to be summarized
here.26 As with
respect
to other
episodes
in the book of
Kings,
it is
commonly
assumed that the
Josiah
narrative contains
a certain amount of material written
by
a
pre-Dtr
source close to the time of
Josiah,
subsequently
interwoven
by
one or
more Dtr redactors into a later
composition. Opinions regarding
this
process vary
from the view that the entire
story
is
non-Dtr,
with the sole
exception
of a redac
tional framework in 22:2 and 23:24-27
together
with several
glosses,
to the asser
tion that the entire
story
is Dtr
apart
from the short notice in
23:8a.27
The structure of the narrative in its
present
state can
be outlined
as
follows:
22:1 -2
Chronographie
formula and evaluation of
Josiah's
reign.
22:3-10
Temple
renovation. The book is found and read to the
king.
22:11-20 The
king's
response.
An oracular
inquiry
to Huldah and her
reply.
23:1-3 The
king
reads the book to the
people.
Covenant.
23:4-20 Reform
report
in
Judah, Bethel,
and Samaria.
23:21-23 Passover celebrations in
Jerusalem.
26
For valuable
surveys,
see
Gary
N.
Knoppers,
Two Nations under God: The Deuterono
mistic
History of
Solomon and the Dual
Monarchies,
part
2,
The
Reign of
Jeroboam,
the Fall
of
Israel,
and the
Reign ofjosiah
(HSM 53;
Atlanta: Scholars
Press,
1994);
Christoph
Hardmeier,
"King
Josiah
in the Climax of the Deuteronomic
History
(2
Kings
22-23)
and the
pre-Deuteronomic
Document of a Cult Reform at the Place of Residence
(23.4-15):
Criticism of
Sources,
Recon
struction of
Literary Pre-stages
and the
Theology
of
History
in 2
Kings
22-23,"
in Good
Kings
and
Bad
Kings
(ed.
Lester L.
Grabbe;
Library
of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies
393; London/
New York:
Continuum, 2005),
123-63.
27
For the former
opinion,
see
Haran,
Biblical
Collection, 2:24-25; somewhat
similarly?
although
with
regard
to the reform
report
only?already
Gustav
H?lscher,
"Das Buch der
K?nige,
seine
Quellen
und seine
Redaktion,"
in E A :
Studien zur
Religion
und Literatur des
Alten und Neuen
Testaments;
Hermann Gunkelzum 60.
Geburtstage,
dem 23. mai 1922
(ed.
Hans
Schmidt;
G?ttingen:
Vandenhoeck &
Ruprecht, 1923), 158-213,
esp.
206-10: "Wenn hier nicht
eine
geradezu
authentische
Geschichts?berlieferung vorliegt,
so
g?be
es
?berhaupt
keine";
Rudolph
Kittel,
Die B?cher der
K?nige
(HAT;
G?ttingen:
Vandenhoeck &
Ruprecht,
1900),
297.
For a
contrasting opinion,
see
primarily Christoph
Levin,
"Joschija
im
deuteronomistischen
Geschichtswerk,"
ZAW 96
(1984):
351-71. For the basic
authenticity
of the reform
narrative,
see
Christoph Uehlinger,
"Was There a
Cult Reform under
King
Josiah?
The Case for a Well
Grounded
Minimum,"
in Good
Kings
and Bad
Kings,
ed.
Grabbe,
279-316.
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230
Journal
of
Biblical Literature
127,
no. 2
(2008)
23:24-27
Concluding
evaluation
concerning
Josiahs
rule.
23:28-30
Chronographie
formula and additional information
Strictly speaking,
Dtr
phraseology
is restricted to the
following passages:
the
open
ing
(22:2);
Huldah's
prophecy
(22:16-20);28
the covenant renewal and Passover cel
ebration
(23:1-3, 21-23);29
glosses
and
expansions
in the reform
report
in
Judah
(23:4-14);30
the reform in Bethel and Samaria
(23:15-20);31
and the evaluation and
concluding
formula
(23:24-27). Thus,
although
the
general
framework of 22:2
23:30
betrays
an
editorial
hand,
an
earlier,
pre-Dtr
kernel is
by
no means
precluded.
I do not intend to
argue
here for
a
maximalistic
historical-literary analysis
of
2
Kings
22-23. For the
present purposes,
it is sufficient to
argue (with
Gary
Knoppers)
that at least
a
minimal
part
of the
Josiah
narrative
originated
in a con
temporary pre-Dtr
source.32 This source
comprised
at least
parts
of the book-find
and the
prophetic
consultation
(22:3-14),
as well as of the reform
report
(23:4-14).
With
respect
to the
latter,
the
authenticity
of
parts
of the reform
report
in
23:4-14 is now
commonly acknowledged.33
With
regard
to the
former, however,
skeptical
views still
prevail
in recent
scholarship concerning
the existence of
a
pre
Dtr book-find
story.34
The evidence marshaled
by proponents
of this
persuasion,
however,
is
usually
based on the
setting
rather than on
phraseology,
while in fact
the book-find
report
demonstrates clear marks of
authenticity.
Most
significant
in
this
respect
is the mention of
Huldah?hardly
a Dtr
celebrity?in
this
passage,
together
with her identification
as "the wife of Shalum son of
Harhas,
the
keeper
of clothes." As
James
A.
Montgomery rightly
claims,
the mention of Huldah
con
stitutes a clear marker of
authenticity.35
The otherwise unknown details in the
pres
entation of Huldah's husband Shalum
represent
additional evidence for the
existence of
a
noneditorial hand. It is the
presence
of
sundry personal
names and
titles that
gives
the entire
episode
in chs. 22-23 its mark of
antiquity. Compare,
for
example,
the
equally
unknown titles in the reform
report
(23:8,11).
28
Knoppers,
Two Nations under
God,
2:131-33.
29
Hardmeier,
"King
Josiah
in the Climax of the Deuteronomic
History,"
143-44;
Knoppers,
Two Nations under
God, 2:157,
216-17.
30
Hardmeier,
"King
Josiah
in the Climax of the Deuteronomic
History,"
159-60.
31
See Mordechai
Cogan,
"A
Slip
of the Pen? On
Josiah's
Actions in Samaria
(II
Kgs
23:15
20),"
in
Sefer
Moshe: The Moshe
Weinfeld
Jubilee Volume;
Studies in Bible and the Ancient Near
East,
Qumran,
and Post-Biblical
Judaism (ed.
Chaim Cohen et
al.;
Winona
Lake,
IN:
Eisenbrauns,
2004),
3-8.
32
Knoppers,
Two Nations under
God,
2:121-25.
33
Ibid., 2:176-81;
Uehlinger,
"Was There a Cult Reform under
King
Josiah?";
Hardmeier,
"King
Josiah
in the Climax of the Deuteronomic
History,"
153-60.
34
Knoppers,
Two Nations under
God, 2:130; Hardmeier,
"King
Josiah
in the Climax of the
Deuteronomic
History,"
141-44.
35
James
A.
Montgomery,
A Critical and
Exegetical Commentary
on the Booh
of Kings
(ICC;
Edinburgh:
T&T
Clark, 1951),
545. In
contrast,
Hardmeiers
suggestion ("King
Josiah
in the Cli
max of the Deutronomic
History,"
138 n.
49)
that "the Dtr construction of
history
lifts the other
wise
completely
unknown Huldah into the office of
a
prophet"
is
unconvincing.
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Ben-Dov:
Writing
as Oracle and
as Law 231
The clear
impression
created is that
an
editorial hand refashioned
an older
narrative in order to
align
it with the Dtr
agenda.
A central element of the edito
rial
activity
lies in the
identity
of the book discovered: It is
primarily
in Dtr
passages
that the reader is
encouraged
to
identify
the book with
Deuteronomy.
The various
designations employed
for the book
throughout
the narrative
comport
with the
distinctions
suggested
above.
Only
in the two most
clearly
discerned Dtr
passages?
23:1-3,
21-23?is the
phrase
man "ISO
("book
of the
covenant")
employed,
reflecting
the self-identification of
Deuteronomy
as a
covenantal
object
(Deut
28:69;
29:8;
and
passim).
In
contrast,
the reform
report
does not mention the book at all.
As
a
rule,
the book-find
story
refers
neutrally
to the book as
"a/the book"
(22:10,
13,
16).
The twice-invoked
designation
1 "l?30
(22:8, 11) may consequently
be
perceived, according
to the discussion
below,
as a non-Dtr
designation
for
an
object
conveying heavenly
instruction in the form of an oracle.
While it
may
be doubted whether the book
was
truly
found
or whether the
entire scene was
staged by
Hilkiah and his
party?just
as
speculations concerning
the exact contents of the
book,
whether
parts
of
Deuteronomy
or
otherwise,
may
also be
indulged?the
fact of the matter is
that,
in the
eyes
of the
Israelites,
a book
was found and was considered to serve as a
catalyst
for the cult reform. The con
siderable
portion
of
pre-Dtr prose
contained in 2
Kings
22-23 could not have
sus
tained the
authority
of the book in Dtr terms. Sufficient
explanation
must rather be
adduced from non-Dtr
conceptions
to account for the
authority
attributed to the
discovered book. In other
words,
how did the non-Dtr
author,
unacquainted
with
Deuteronomic ideas
concerning
books and
writing,
understand the
authority
of
the book?
One must
note,
first of
all,
that the book was not
initially
understood as the
Book,
a text that would
engender
a
drastic transformation of Israelite
religion.
The
initial declaration of Hilkiah the
priest?"I
have found the book of 1 in the
house of God"
(22:8)?did
not contain the elaborate
meanings
and
nuances of the
term 1 as found in Dtr literature. 2
Kings
22-23 therefore
encompasses
two dif
ferent
conceptions
of the discovered book?as well
as two different
meanings
of
1
.
The
pre-Dtr comprehension
understood the book-find
as
conveying
the word
of God to the
king through
a
miraculous document. This
understanding
related to
the book
as
simply
"the
book,"
or
"the book of
mm,"
the latter
referring
to the
objects
oracular
aspect.
A different
view,
stemming
from the Dtr circles which
shaped
the
present
narrative,
perceived
the book as an ancient Mosaic
composi
tion,
long forgotten
but now rediscovered. This
layer
of the text refers to the book
as
"The Book of Covenant"
(23:2,21),
emphasizing
its link to
Deuteronomy.36
The
following
discussion will
clarify
these two
conceptions.
361
might suggest clarifying
this distinction
using contemporary
Akkadian terms. While
the first notion of the book was
something
akin to an uHltu?a note or
report
written in horizontal
format not meant for
long-term
archival
preservation?the
later narrative viewed it as
tuppu,
a text
written in vertical format intended to be
a
permanent
record. On this
distinction,
see Martti
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232
Journal
of
Biblical Literature
127,
no. 2
(2008)
III. Books and
Book-finds as
Oracular Media
Since a
large part
of a
reformer
kings
acts
conflicted with well-rooted reli
gious practices,
such a
monarch was
compelled
to obtain divine confirmation for
the acts he chose to
perform.
Each of the current
practices
was
supported by
an
institution?priestly, political,
or
sometimes both. In his
lecture,
Naaman noted
that
reforming kings
made use of a
variety
of oracular
techniques
in order to
achieve the desired divine
message.37
Good
examples
are the
Neo-Assyrian kings
Sennacherib, Essarhaddon,
and
Assurbanipal,
all of whom
presented
numerous
queries
to the
gods
in order to confirm their cultic and
religious
innovations. Most
of these
queries
were
answered
by extispicy,
and
quite
a
few of them have been dis
covered in
Assyrian
archives.38
Several reformer
kings spoke
of the
discovery
of ancient books as
evidence of
oracular
support
for their cultic acts. This fact is
especially
clear in
examples
from
ancient
Egypt.39
A
chapter
from "The Book of the Dead" declares the text to have
been found
during
a
temple
renovation in
Egyptian antiquity. Similarly,
a
report
from the Ptolemaic
period concerning
the renovation of the Dendra
temple
notes
that an
ancient document discovered there revealed the
program
for this
temple,
including
its
physical layout
and a detailed account of its rites.
A similar
phenomenon appears
in the
reign
of the
Babylonian king
Naboni
dus,
whose enormous
building
and renovation
activity
commenced
early
in his
reign.40
Nabonidus was
especially
keen to
legitimize
his
temple
renovations
by dig
ging up
ancient
deposits,
laid at the foundations of those
temples by
the ancient
Nissinen,
"Spoken,
Written,
Quoted,
and Invented:
Orality
and Writtenness in Ancient Near East
ern
Prophecy,"
in
Writings
and
Speech,
ed. Ben Zvi and
Floyd,
247-48.
37
On the use of divination
as a
political
instrument in
Mesopotamian royal
courts,
see Beate
Pongratz-Leisten, Herrschaftswissen
in
Mesopotamien:
Formen der Kommunikation zwischen Gott
und
K?nig
in 2. und 1.
Jahrtausend
v. Chr.
(SAAS 10;
Helsinki: Helsinki
University
Press,
1999).
38
Ivan
Starr, Queries
to the
Sungod:
Divination and Politics in
Sargonid Assyria
(SAA 4;
Helsinki: Helsinki
University
Press, 1990),
nos.
262-65,
315.
Parpola reinterprets
sections of the
prescriptive
text BM 121206
(G.
van
Driel,
The Cult
ofAssur
[SSN 13;
Assen: Van
Gorcum, 1969],
74-119)
as
reflecting
additional
queries
to the sun
god;
see Simo
Parpola,
"The
Originality
of the
Teachings
of Zarathustra in the
Light
of Yasna
44,"
in
Sefer
Moshe,
ed. Cohen et
al.,
376 and n. 13.
39
Naville,
"Egyptian Writings,"
232-42;
Euringer,
"Die
?gyptischen
und keilinschriftlichen
Analogien,"
13-23. Book-finds from the Greco-Roman
world,
some of which
belong explicitly
in
the realm of
prophecy
and
oracles,
have been noted and discussed
by Speyer, B?cherfunde.
Since
the
present study
does not intend to trace the entire
history
of this
motif, however,
I have not ana
lyzed
them here.
40
On
Nabonidus,
see Paul-Alain
Beaulieu,
The
Reign ofNabonidus King of Babylon
556-539
b.c.
(New
Haven/London: Yale
University
Press,
1989).
The
inscriptions
ofNabonidus have been
collected
by Schaudig,
Die
Inschriften
Nabonids.
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Ben-Dov:
Writing
as Oracle and as
Law 233
kings
who had built them. He thus declares with
regard
to the
temple
of Samas
in
Sippar:
I made excavations all around the cella and the central area of the
platform,
and
I
gathered city
elders,
citizens of
Babylon, many
wise scribes who dwell in the
temple academy....
I sent them to
deliberate,
thus
ordering
them: "Look for the
old foundations..." With ardent
prayers
to Samas
my
lord and
supplications
to
the
great gods,
the
assembly
of scholars found the old foundations and made
excavations in the cella and the
platform.41
Nabonidus was noted
among Babylonian kings
as
especially
learned in writ
ing,
wisdom,
and
divination,
possessing
a
special regard
for the
god's
word in the
form of
oracles, omens, and various other
signs.42
Nabonidus's finds consist
mainly
of artifacts of former
kings,
however,
whereas we are
seeking parallels
to the
Josiah
narrative,
in which the
object
found is a
text,
the actual word of a
god.
Closer
parallels
to the biblical text can
be adduced from the Hittite culture.
The Hittite
king
Mursiii II
(late
fourteenth
century
b.c.e.),
troubled
by
a
plague
that
struck Hatti
during
his
reign, repeatedly inquired
of the
gods
after the cause of this
plague through
various media. In his "second
plague prayer,"
Mursili recounts the
outcome of one such
inquiry:
[The
matter of the
plague]
continued to trouble
[me,
and I
inquired
about
it]
to
the
god [through
an
oracle]. [I found]
two old tablets: one tablet dealt with
[the
ritual of the Mala
river].
Earlier
kings performed
the ritual of the Mala
river,
but
because
[people
have been
dying]
in Hatti since the
days
of
my
father,
we never
performed
[the ritual]
of the Mala river.
The second tablet dealt with the town of Kurustamma: how the storm
god
of
Hatti carried the men of Kurustamma to
Egyptian territory
and how the storm
god
of Hatti made a
treaty
between them and the men of Hatti.
. .
the men of
Hatti
thereby suddenly transgressed
the oath of the
gods
...
When I found the aforementioned tablet
dealing
with
Egypt,
I
inquired
about
it to the
god through
an oracle_And it was
confirmed
by
the oracle. Because
41
From the "Ebabbar
cylinder" (Schaudig,
Die
Inschriften
Nabonids, 386;
trans.
Beaulieu,
Reign ofNabonidus,
7).
Similarly
also: "The foundation of Eulmas of
Akkad,
from the time of Sar
gon,
king
of
Babylon,
and of his son
Naram-Sin,
former
kings,
had not been seen
up
until the
reign
ofNabonidus,
king
of
Babylon" (Schaudig,
454).
Nabonidus continued the habit of his
pred
ecessors;
see
Paul-Alain
Beaulieu,
"Nabopolassar
and the
Antiquity
of
Babylon,"
in
Hayim
and
Miriam Tadmor Volume
(ed.
Israel
Eph'al
et
al;
Erlsr
27; Jerusalem:
Israel
Exploration Society,
2003),
l*-9*.
42
See Machinist and
Tadmor,
"Heavenly
Wisdom";
Hanspeter Schaudig,
"Nabonidus,
der
'Gelehrte auf dem
K?nigsthron':
Omina,
Synkretismen
und die
Ausdeutung
von
Tempel-
und
G?tternamen als Mittel zur
Wahrheitsfindung sp?tbabylonischer Religionspolitik,"
in Ex
Mesopotamia
et
Syria
Lux:
Festschrift f?r Manfred
Dietrich zu seinem 65.
Geburtstag
(ed.
Oswald
Loretz et
al.;
AOAT
281;
M?nster:
Ugarit,
2002),
619-45.
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234
Journal
of
Biblical Literature
127,
no. 2
(2008)
of the
plague
I also asked the oracle about the ritual of the
[Mala]
river. And then
too it was
confirmed that I should
appear
before the
Storm-god
of
Hatti,
my
lord.
I have
[just]
confessed
[the
sin before the
storm-god
of
Hatti].
It is so. We have
done
[it.
But the sin did
not]
take
place
in
my
time.
[It
took
place]
in the time of
my
father.. ,43
Having
realized the cause behind the
plague,
the
king immediately
confessed the
sin44 and acted to correct it.
It is clear from Mursili's
prayer
that the
finding
of the two tablets was
consid
ered
part
of the
divinatory process.45
The tablets were discovered after
an
initial
inquiry
was
presented
to the
god,
and
they
were then double-checked with the ora
cle to make
sure their
message
concurred with the official divine line of
thought.
Although examples
of the
double-checking
of oracles abound in ancient Near East
ern
cultures,46
Mursili's
story,
which involves a
book-find,
strongly
evokes the
story
of
Josiah.
In
light
of the
above,
it is a natural
step
to understand the book-find in
Josiah's
reign
as
part
of a routine oracular
process.
A monarch's need for an oracle was felt
both in times of distress and in times of
serenity; temple
renovation
represented
the
cause for an oracle
inquiry just
as did
a
disastrous
plague.
In
fact,
Josiah's
book-find
may
well have been
preceded by
an
oracle
request
on
the
king's part.
Various oracular
practices
existed in
Jerusalem
around the
royal
court in the
eighth
and seventh centuries
b.c.e.,
as
attested,
for
example,
in Isa 8:19-20. The
43
CTH 378.III
(Emmanuel
Laroche,
Catalogue
des textes hittites
[Etudes
et commentaires
75;
Paris: Klincksieck, 1971]),
according
to Itamar
Singer,
Hittite
Prayers
(SBLWAW
11;
Atlanta: Soci
ety
of Biblical Literature,
2002),
58-59. See earlier
ANET>
394-96. On the
political background
of
the covenantal
violation,
see Hans G.
G?terbock,
"Mursili's Accounts of
Supiluliuma's Dealings
with
Egypt,"
RHA 18
(1960):
57-63. In Mursili's "first"
plague prayer,
the oracle states somewhat
differently
that the
plague
is due to a
violation of
a covenant made
by
Mursili's father with
regard
to the former
king, Tudhaliya (Singer,
61).
Here the oracle does not include
a book-find.
44
Note that Mursili
lays
the blame
on his
father,
just
as
Josiah
does in 2
Kgs
22:13: "because
our fathers did not
obey
the words of this scroll."
45
Cf. the statement of
King
Muwatali,
himself
a
reformer: "Whatever I... now find from
written
records,
this I shall
carry
out_And whenever I shall examine a venerable old man,
as
they
remember
a
(certain)
rite and tell
it,
I shall also
carry
it out_I shall follow the
(covenan
tal)
bond of the
gods
that I am
rediscovering,
and it shall be henceforth carried on"
(KB
xi
1,
apud
Moshe
Weinfeld,
"Deuteronomy,
Book
of,"
ABD
2:175).
46
For this
practice,
see ARM XXVI
81;
Parpola,
Letters
from Assyrian
Scholars, 486; Starr,
Queries
to the
Sungod,
XXXII.
Handy
has
pointed
out several
examples
of the
double-checking
of
oracles
pertaining
to cult
reforms,
especially by
Essarhaddon and Nabonidus:
see Lowell K.
Handy,
"The Role of Huldah in
Josiah's
Cult
Reform,"
ZAW 106
(1994):
40-53. He concludes that both
the 13D and Huldah's
prophecy
are Dtr
fictions,
invented in order to
replace
the
practices
of
observing
omina and
consulting foreign gods
for oracles.
This, however,
is too
far-reaching
a ver
dict,
since books
were used as omens
already by
Hittite
kings, hardly
devout monotheists them
selves. While the
present
form of Huldah's
prophecy
has
evidently
been
heavily glossed by
the
Deuteronomists,
they surely
did not invent the
inquiry
to Huldah.
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Ben-Dov:
Writing
as Oracle and as Law 235
Judean
king
and his court were keen "consumers" of
prophecies
and oracles.
Although
from the
eighth century
onwards Israelite
prophets
were
accustomed to
delivering
their admonitions to the entire
population
rather than
confining
their
audience to the
court,
traditional court
prophecy
still maintained its status in later
periods.
Cultic
prophecy
was oriented toward the
king.
The
prophetess
Huldah,
wife of
a minor official in the
temple's personnel
(2
Kgs
22:14),
probably belonged
to the cultic
prophetic
institution,
hence she was the one asked to confirm the con
tents of the book rather than the
prophets
Jeremiah
or
Zephaniah,
who were
already
active
by
then.47 Classical
prophecy
had been at war with institutional
prophecy/
divination almost since its
inception,
as can be seen from historical and
propheti
cal literature alike
(1
Kings
22;
Deut
18:9-15;
Isa
8:1-22)
48
During
the
period
of
Josiah's
successors,
Jeremiah
had to confront several such
prophets
and
justify
the
hostile tone of his own
prophecies
(Jer
23:9-40; 27:14-18;
28:1-16).
At the
same
time he was also summoned to
present
the word of God to the
king
(Jer 37:17-27).
By
the end of the seventh
century
b.c.e.,
prophetic
books were considered a
standard medium for the word of God in
Judah
49
Somewhat
later,
in the Lachish
letters,
the
report
of
a
Judean army
officer mentions a 5 that was sent to the front
by
a
prophet
or official:
Who is
your
servant
(but)
a
dog
that
my
lord should have sent
(him)
the
king's
letter
[spr]
and those of the officials
asking
me to read them? The
[official's/
prophet
s]
statements are not
good?(they
are of a
kind)
to slacken
your courage
and to weaken that of the men
..
.50
The Hebrew Bible contains several
examples
of scrolls inscribed with
pro
phetic sayings.
Isaiah in the
eighth century
is commanded to write down his ora
cles,
whether as a means of
preservation
or as
part
of the
efficacy
of the
prophetic
act
(8:1-4,16-20; 30:8-11;
cf.
34:16).51
More than a
century
later,
Habakkuk
reports
47
John
Gray,
I & II
Kings:
A
Commentary
(OTL;
Philadelphia:
Westminster, 1970),
726.
48
The classification of various mantic
practitioners?prophet,
false
prophet,
cult
prophet,
court
prophet,
diviner,
priest,
and so on?has been the
subject
of continuous
scholarly
debate. The
classifications used in the biblical text seem to have little value with
regard
to the
contemporary
phenomenology
of
prophecy;
see
Grabbe, Priests,
Prophets,
Diviners,
Sages.
49See,
e.g., Schaper,
"Exilic and Post-exilic
Prophecy." Schaper's reasoning, although
more
nuanced,
similarly
concludes that the institutions of
prophecy
and scribalism became closer from
late
preexilic
times onwards.
50
Lachish 6
(trans.
Dennis
Pardee,
COS
3:80-81).
On the
reading
nh3
("prophet")
in Lachish
letters 3 and
6,
see ibid. n.
21; this
reading
is
supported
also
by
Simon B.
Parker,
"The Lachish Let
ters and Official Reactions to
Prophecies,"
in
Uncovering
Ancient Stones:
Essays
in
Memory of
H. Neil Richardson
(ed.
Lewis M.
Hopfe;
Winona
Lake,
IN:
Eisenbrauns,
1994),
65-78. For a
slightly
different
reading,
see
Naaman,
"Distribution of
Messages,"
176-78.
51
On the
significance
of
committing prophetic sayings
to
writing,
see
the works cited in
nn. 1 and 2
above,
where
specific
discussions
are
dedicated to the
prophetical passages
mentioned
here.
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236
Journal
of
Biblical Literature 127no. 2
(2008)
how Yahweh commanded him to
preserve
his
predictions
in
writing
so that
they
would stand as witnesses for future times
(Hab
2:2-3;
cf. Isa
30:8).52
Similarly,
Jere
miah is ordered in 36:2: "Get
a
scroll53 and write
upon
it all the words that I have
spoken
to
you"
(cf. 25:13;
30:2).
Ezekiel
(2:9-3:2)
is ordered to consume a written
scroll so that he can transmit its contents to the
people
of Israel.54 Once
inscribed,
the
prophetic
scroll becomes a divine
object
rather than a
merely
technical means
for
collecting
the words of God. In
Najman's
words,
"some later exilic and
post
exilic
passages portray writing
as the medium of revelation itself."55
Though
none of the
prophetic
scrolls noted above is
designated
as
30,
as is
Josiah's book,
they
adduce sufficient
prophetic background
for the
way
books
have been conceived. In
fact,
the
story
written on
Jeremiah's
scroll in
Jeremiah
36
demonstrates
a
strong
link with
Josiah's
story
in 2
Kings
22. The two accounts
depict opposing
scenarios of
a
kings response
to a sacred book of oracles. When
Josiah
hears the words of the
book,
he tears his clothes and
repents;
his son
Jehoiakim
fails to
repent,
burns the
scroll,
and
persecutes
the
prophet
(Jer 36:24).56
In
summary,
the
presence
of
pre-Dtr prose
in 2
Kings
22-23
permits
us to
conclude that the
primary
function of
Josiah's
book was the transmission of a
divine oracle. This is
supported by reports
on
prophecies
both within and without
the Hebrew Bible.
IV.
Josiah's
Book as Lawbook and as
Object
of
Study
While the
designation
in 2
Kings
22
belongs
to non-Dtr
narrative,
the Dtr view of this book is best
expressed by
the
designation
1
20,
"the
52
Reading
IVIftb IV, "the vision is a witness to the
appointed
time,"
instead of MT
I'M;
cf. Isa
30:8;
Dan
8:17,26;
11:35. For the
possible background
of this
practice
in
Neo-Assyrian
cul
ture,
see
Schaper,
"Exilic and Post-exilic
Prophecy,"
330-31.
53
Hebrew 1?JD
VibX? is a
pleonastic
construction
combining
two words that refer both to
the
writing
material and to the written text. See Avi
Hurvitz,
"The
Origins
and
Development
of
the
Expression
20 nbxfr. A
Study
in the
History
of
Writing-Related Terminology
in Biblical
Times,"
in
Texts,
Temples
and Traditions: A Tribute to Menahem Haran
(ed.
Michael V. Fox et
al;
Winona
Lake,
IN:
Eisenbrauns, 1996),
*37-*46. In
Jeremiah
36,
the scroll is sometimes also labeled
just
nbXD
(w.
6,14,21,23, 25)
or IflD
(w.
10, 11, 13,18).
In v. 32 both
designations
appear,
with
a
possible
difference in nuance.
54
See Moshe
Greenberg,
Ezekiel 1-20: A New Translation with Introduction and Commen
tary
(AB
22;
Garden
City,
NY:
Doubleday,
1983),
66-68, 73;
Schaper,
"Death of the
Prophet."
55Najman, "Symbolic Significance
of
Writing,"
169.
56
On the relation between 2
Kings
22-23 and
Jeremiah
36,
see Charles D.
Isbell,
"2
Kings
22:3-23:24 and
Jeremiah
36: A
Stylistic Comparison,"
JSOT
8
(1978):
33-45;
Caetano Minette de
Tillesse,
"Joiaqim, repoussoir
du 'Pieux'
Josias:
Parallelismes entre II
Reg
22 et
Jer 36,"
AW 105
(1993):
352-76;
Andre Kabasele
Mukenge,
"Les derniers rois de
Juda
et la lecture du 'Livre':
Josias
(2
R
22-23),
Joiaqim
(Jr 36)
et
Jekonias (Ba 1, 1-14),"
RTL 30
(1999):
11-31; R?mer,
"Transfor
mations," 9;
Najman, "Symbolic Significance
of
Writing,"
163-64.
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Ben-Dov:
Writing
as Oracle and as Law 237
book/scroll of the
covenant,"
which
appears
in two
key
redactional
passages:
23:1
3 and 21-23. This
concept
resembles the self-definition of
Deuteronomy,
which
conceives of itself as a written covenant
(Deut
29:19,
26).
2
Kings
23:1-3 recounts
the covenant reenactment. This
passage
contains
unmistakably
Dtr
elements,
iden
tifiable not
only by typical phraseology
but also
by
its reconstruction of an earlier
setting
known from
Deuteronomy. Knoppers
has
gone
so far as to claim that "the
account of
Josiah's
covenant
(2
Kgs
23:1-3)
is the deuteronomist's
own
composi
tion."57 Most
notably,
the heart of
v.
3?"that
they
would follow the Lord and
observe his
commandments,
his
injunctions,
and his laws with all their heart and
soul"?reflects
a
transformation of the book's
identity.
It no
longer
contains a
reproof
or a
prophecy
of future
doom,
as assumed in
previous passages,
but rather
a collection of laws. The
people
are admonished to
obey
those
ordinances,
as is
usual with
regard
to the 1 in
Deuteronomy
and Dtr
passages (cf.
Deut
30:10;
Josh 23:6;
1
Kgs
2:3).
In
fact,
the Deuteronomists
emphasized
the
new
identity they
attributed to
Josiah's
book as a manifestation of their
conception
of
Deuteronomy
itself.
They consequently
orchestrated the
implementation
of a
public assembly
along
the lines of
Deuteronomy
29-30 and
Josh 23:2; 24:1b,
insinuating
that
Josiah
reenacted the
type
of
public reading stipulated
in Deut 31:11-13.
Further Dtr
activity
is seen in the
description
of the Passover festival in 2
Kgs
23:21-23.
Although
once
again
we meet here the 20 of the
covenant,
this time it
is mentioned for the sake of one
specific
rule contained in
it,58
the rule of the
Passover sacrifice in Deut 16:1-8. This fact serves as a further demonstration of
the nature of the discovered book: it dictated not
only
the
vague
"commandments"
of 23:3 but also
specific religious
statutes.59
The two
key passages just
noted offer two different manifestations of
piety
ritual and textual.
Along
with the cultic feast of the
Passover,
Josiah
also commis
sioned a
public assembly
in which he read the text of the
JTTin,
a
verbal-textual act.
This
was
naturally performed
as
part
of
a
larger
covenant
ceremony
in the
temple
court,
and
as such it was an act rooted in a
cultic
background.60
What
we
note,
57
Knoppers,
Two Nations under
God,
2:157. For a more
moderate
view,
see
Montgomery,
Books
of Kings,
528.
58
The
majority
of scholars see the entire
passage
as
Dtr;
see
Knoppers,
Two Nations under
God,
2:216-17 with detailed references. Haran
(Biblical Collection, 2:25)
claims that the
passage
contains a
pre-Dtr
kernel.
59
It
may
therefore be
suggested
that the
chronology
of
Josiah's
reign
in Chronicles is more
original
than that of 2
Kings
22-23,
which
gives
the
impression
that the entire
Josianic
reform was
initiated
by
the book-find in
Josiah's
eighteenth year.
On the version in
Chronicles,
see
Lyle
Eslinger,
"Josiah
and the Torah Book:
Comparison
of 2
Kgs
22:1-23:28 and 2 Chr
34:1-35:19,"
HAR 10
(1986):
37-62;
but cf. Mordechai
Cogan
and
Hayim
Tadmor,
II
Kings:
A New Translation
with Introduction and
Commentary
(AB 11; Garden
City,
NY:
Doubleday,
1988),
296.
60
Menahem
Haran,
"The Berit 'Covenant': Its Nature and Ceremonial
Background,"
in
Tehillah le-Moshe: Biblical and
Judaic
Studies in Honor
of
Moshe
Greenberg
(ed.
Mordechai
Cogan
et
al;
Winona
Lake,
IN:
Eisenbrauns, 1997),
203-19.
This content downloaded from 108.81.114.222 on Tue, 28 Jan 2014 16:24:52 PM
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238
Journal
of
Biblical Literature
127,
no. 2
(2008)
however,
is
that,
following
the Dtr
instruction,
Josiah
enacts a
religious
rite that
involves neither sacrifices
nor
temple liturgy.
The
religion
of the
Book,
prevalent
in
Judaism
of the Second
Temple period
and
afterwards,
thus has its
origins
in the
acts of
Josiah,
carried out several decades before the
temple's
destruction.61 What
made this
activity possible
was the
amalgam
of
cultic,
sapiential,
and
prophetic
cur
rents achieved in the Book of
Deuteronomy.
Josiah
did not conceive of the book as a substitute for the
temple.
This idea
appears
neither in the
original pre-Dtr
narrative nor in the Dtr framework. He
did,
however,
elevate the book to the level of a
significant religious object
and thus laid
the foundations for the
religion
of the Book.
Although
this kind of
religion emerged
from the
background
of ancient Near Eastern
cults,62
it
gradually developed
into the
unique
kind of literate
spirituality
that is
typical
of later
Judaism.63
V. Conclusion: The Book-Find of
Josiah
in History and Tradition
I have
suggested
here that
a
preliminary story
that
assigned
an
important
role
to the book discovered in the
temple
in
Josiah's
reign
was
augmented
in Dtr circles
in order to reflect the
special
(but different)
role
played by
books in the latter kind
of
religious ideology.
In the older
story,
the book-find
was
interpreted
as tradi
tionally
understood in ancient Near Eastern
royal
courts?that
is,
as a divine oracle
61
Similar ideas
concerning
Josiah's
acts were
expressed
in
R?mer, "Transformations"; idem,
"Du
Temple
au Livre:
L'ideologie
de la centralization dans
l'historiographie
deuteronomiste,"
in
Rethinking
the Foundations:
Historiography
in the Ancient World and in the Bible.
Essays
in Hon
our
of
John
Van Seters
(ed.
Steven L. McKenzie and Thomas
R?mer;
BZAW
294;
Berlin: de
Gruyter,
2000),
207-25,
esp.
222-24. There is no reason to believe with R?mer that the narrative
of the book-find is a
piece
of
literary
fiction,
however. It
may
well be that even
prior
to the destruc
tion of the
temple, Deuteronomy-type
circles transformed Israelite
religion
in the direction of a
less cultic and
more "humanistic" worldview. See
Weinfeld,
Deuteronomy
and the Deuteronomic
School 191-243; idem,
"Jeremiah
and the
Spiritual Metamorphosis
of
Israel,"
ZAW 88
(1976):
17-56;
recently
also
Na'aman,
Past That
Shapes
the
Present, 44-47,
with
up-to-date bibliography.
62
Karel
van der
Toorn,
"The Iconic Book:
Analogies
between the
Babylonian
Cult of
Images
and the Veneration of the
Torah,"
in The
Image
and the Book: Iconic
Cults, Aniconism,
and the Rise
of
Book
Religion
in Israel and the Ancient Near East
(ed.
Karel
van der
Toorn;
Leuven:
Peeters,
1997),
229-48.
63
Michael
Fishbane,
The Garments
of
Torah:
Essays
in Biblical Hermeneutics
(Bloomington:
Indiana
University
Press,
1989);
idem,
"Law to Canon: Some
'Ideal-Typical' Stages
of
Develop
ment,"
in Minhah le-Nahum: Biblical and Other Studies Presented to Nahum M. Sarna
(JSOTSup
154;
ed. Marc Brettler and Michael
Fishbane;
Sheffield: Sheffield Academic
Press, 1993), 65-86;
Robert
Goldenberg,
"Law and
Spirit
in Talmudic
Religion,"
in
Jewish
Spirituality,
vol.
1,
From the
Bible
through
the Middle
Ages
(ed.
Arthur
Green;
World
Spirituality
13;
New York:
Crossroad,
1987),
232-52.
This content downloaded from 108.81.114.222 on Tue, 28 Jan 2014 16:24:52 PM
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
Ben-Dov:
Writing
as Oracle and as Law 239
sent to
legitimize
the
king's
actions. In
contrast,
the redactional framework of this
story
construed this book as a
comprehensive
law book.
Books, scrolls,
and
tablets?any
kind of
writing
material,
in effect?are
a
tab
ula rasa,
subject
to various
manipulations
in the realm of
religion.
Josiah's
book
find occurred in a
significant period,
one that is
justifiably
considered a
turning
point
in Israelite
religion.
The traditional
Jerusalemite
religion
was based
on a
divinely
ordained monarch who
enjoyed
the
support
of
a
band of
prophets
and
diviners?very
similar to other
royal ideologies
in the ancient world. In
Josiah's
time,
and under the influence of
Deuteronomy,
this
gradually gave place
to a more
restrained,
somewhat elitist
religion,
in which the book
played
an
important part.
A new
conception
of the book was fashioned
by
Deuteronomic circles to fit this
kind of
religion,
in which old
conceptions
from various
religious
streams were com
bined and
adapted.
This
conception,
in
turn,
had considerable influence on the
production
of
prophetic
books
during
the Second
Temple period.
This content downloaded from 108.81.114.222 on Tue, 28 Jan 2014 16:24:52 PM
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions