A Comment on Ehud Ben Zvi’s Total Exile, Empty Land and the General Intellectual Discourse in Yehud.

  • Ntozakhe Simon Cezula Stellenbosch University
Keywords: “Empty Land” Myth, Exclusivity, Ezra-Nehemiah, Theology of Reconstruction.


The Judeans of the Late Persian era could not interpret the “empty land” myth in any other way other than inclusively, including Ezra-Nehemiah, so argues Ehud Ben Zvi. This transpires from his social memory analysis of thepentateuchal, Deuteronomistic history and prophetic literature. The logic in his argument is so persuasive that it compels a review of one’s stance on the exclusivity of Ezra-Nehemiah. After some more engagement with Ezra-Nehemiah this paper remains convinced that Ezra-Nehemiah is exclusive and the “empty land’ myth is applied in an exclusive perspective. Of great concern however, is the fact that Ben Zvi’s argument comes at a time when Africans are engaged in a quest for a biblical paradigm for a theology of reconstruction that is being contemplated. Particularly of concern is that some suggest Nehemiah as a paradigm for a theology of reconstruction in Africa just as Moses and the Exodus were for the theology of liberation. For historical reasons this paper rejects Nehemiah as a biblical paradigm for a theology of reconstruction in Africa. This paper engages with Ben Zvi’s paper titled “Total Exile, Empty Land and the General Intellectual Discourse in Yehud” against this background.

Author Biography

Ntozakhe Simon Cezula, Stellenbosch University
Department of Old & New Testament


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