Trading Yahweh’s Word for a Price: Ethical Implications of the Collusion of Prophets and Priests in Micah 3:5–7, 11

  • Blessing Onoriode Boloje
Keywords: Micah, prophets and priests, inverted oracles and commercialised teachings, Yahweh’s word, wealth and power, economic idolatry,

Abstract

Trading Yahweh’s word for a price is an attempt to articulate the implications of the mercenary attitude of prophets and priests in the book of Micah, in discharging their duties as religious functionaries. The article examines Micah’s indictment of charismatic and cultic Judean’s self-centered leadership for commercialising Yahweh’s word. This exploration is done against the background of the functions and responsibility of prophets and priests in the HB/OT. Prophets and priests both functioned in the religion of Ancient Israel and Judah as channels for the transmission of Yahweh’s word to their people and nation. However, Micah presents a charismatic and cultic Judean leadership that was bereft of ethical standard of responsibility, reliability, constancy and integrity. Rather than embodying ethical character that could inspire confidence and commitment, they traded Yahweh’s word for symbols of wealth and power and thus became stumbling blocks to genuine orthodoxy. Such attempt to lower the standard of God’s demand on people so as to gratify self in a religious function that is designed to embody integrity, honesty, reliability and accountability constitute not only affront on Yahweh but abuse of privilege and position, amount to religious deception and economic idolatry and create a false sense of security. 


https://doi.org/10.17159/2312-3621/2018/v31n3a13

References

Achenbach, Reinhard. “A Prophet like Moses” (Deut 18:15) – “No Prophet like Moses” (Deut 34:10): Some Observations on the Relation between the Pentateuch and the Latter Prophets.” Pages435–458 in The Pentateuch: International Perspectives on Current Research. Edited by T.B. Dozeman, K. Schmid and B.J. Schwartz; Tubingen: Mohr Seibeck, 2011.

Allen, Leslie C. “Micah’s Social Concern.” Vox Evangelica 8 (1973): 22–32.

Andersen, Francis I and Freedman, David N. Micah: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. Anchor Bible 24E. New York: Doubleday, 2000.

Baker, Kenneth. The NIV Study Bible. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1995. Rogers, Adrian. “False Prophets: Their Method, Manner and Motives.” Available at http://www.oneplace.com/ministries/love-worth-finding/read/article s/false-prophets-theirmethod-manner-and-motive-14018.html (accessed 5th July 2018).

Beentjes, Pancratius C. “Constructs of Prophets and Prophecy in the Book of Chronicles.” Pages 21–40 in Constructs of Prophecy in the Former and Latter Prophets and Other Texts. Edited by Lester L. Grabbe & Martti Nissinen. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2011.

Block, Daniel I. “Empowered by the Spirit of God: The Holy Spirit in the Historiographic Writings of the Old Testament.” Southern Baptist Journal of Theology 1/ 1 (1997): 41–52.

Bright, John. A History of Israel. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1981.

Carr, David M. An Introduction to the Old Testament: Sacred Texts and Imperial Contexts of the Hebrew Bible. Chichester: Blackwell Publishing, 2010.

_______. The Formation of the Hebrew Bible: A New Reconstruction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Chaney, Marvin L. “The Political Economy of Peasant Poverty: What the Eighth-Century Prophets Presumed but Did Not State. ”Pages 34–60 in The Bible, the Economy, and the Poor. Edited by Ronald A. Simkins and Thomas M. Kelly. Journal of Religious Studies Supplement Series 10 (2014). URL: http://purl.org/JRS

Chang, Dongshin D. Phinehas, the Sons of Zadok, and Melchizedek: Priestly Covenant in Late Second Temple Texts. Library of Second Temple Studies 90. New York: Bloomsbury T &T Clark, 2016.

De Jong, Matthijs J. “The Fallacy of ‘True and False’ in Prophecy Illustrated by Jer. 28:8–9.” Journal of Hebrew Scripture 12/10 (2012): 1–31. https://doi.org /10.5508/jhs.2012.v12.a10

_______. “Why Jeremiah is not among the Prophets: An Analysis of the Terms נביא and נבאים in the Book of Jeremiah.” Journal for the Study of Old Testament 35/4(2011): 483–510. https://doi.org/10.1177/0309089211402177

_______. Isaiah among the Ancient Near Eastern Prophets: A Comparative Study of the Earliest Stages of the Isaiah Tradition and the Neo-Assyrian Prophets. Vetus Testamentum Supplement 117. Leiden: Brill, 2007.

Dempster, Stephen G. Micah. The Two Horizons Old Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2017.

Driver, Samuel R. An Introduction to the Literature of the Old Testament. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1913.

Edelman, Diana V. “From Prophets to Prophetic Books: The Fixing of the Divine Word.” Pages 29–54 in The Production of Prophecy: Constructing Prophecy and Prophets in Yehud. Edited by Diana V. Edelman and Ehud Ben Zvi. London, Oakville: Equinox Publishing Ltd., 2009.

Gowan, Donald E. Theology of the Prophetic Books: The Death and Resurrection of Israel. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1998.

Grabbe, Lester L. Priests, Prophets, Diviners, Sages: A Socio-Historical Study of Religious Specialists in Ancient Israel. Valley Forge: Trinity Press International, 1995.

Groenewald, Alphonso. “Prophetic Witness in the Hebrew Bible: From Prophetic Word to Prophetic Books.” Pages 29–46 in Prophetic Witness: An Appropriate Contemporary Mode of Public Discourse? Edited by Heinrich Bedford and Etienne de Villiers. Munster: LIT Verlag, 2011.

Hetrick, Lon. “Selling the Gospel: The Christian Hype that Stifles Christian Hope.” Available at http://felixcheakam.com/77-selling-Jesus-at-a-discount.html (accessed 5th July 2018).

Hrobon, Bohdan. Ethical Dimension of the Cult in the Book of Isaiah. Beihefte zurZeitschrift für die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 418. Berlin/New York: De Gruyter, 2010.

Huber, Robert V., Grant Robert M. and Grant-Starter, Tracey. Who is Who in the Bible. Pleasantville; New York: Reader’s Digest Association, Inc., 1994.

Huffmon, Herbert B. “A Company of Prophets: Mari, Assyria, Israel.” Pages 47–70 in Prophecy in its Ancient Near Eastern Context: Mesopotamian, Biblical, and Arabian Perspectives. Edited by M. Nissinen. Society of Biblical Literature, Semeia Studies 13. Atlanta, Society of Biblical Literature, 2000.

Jenson, Philip P. Obadiah, Jonah, Micah: A Theological Commentary. Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies 496. New York: T &T Clark, 2008.

Kaiser, Otto. Isaiah 1–12: A Commentary. London: SCM Press LTD, 1972.

Leuchter, Mark A. “The Priesthood in Ancient Israel.” Biblical Theology Bulletin 40/2 (2010):100–110 (109). https://doi.org/10.1177/0146107910364344

Lindblom, Johannes. Prophecy in Ancient Israel. Oxford: Blackwell, 1962.

MacArthur, John. Ashamed of the Gospel: When the Church Becomes Like the World. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1993.

Matthews, Victor H. Social World of the Hebrew Prophets. Peabody; Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 2001.

Mays, James L. Micah: A Commentary. London: SCM Press Ltd., 1976.

Mignon, Jacob. The Conceptual Coherence of the Book of Micah. Journal for the Study of Old Testament Supplement Series 322. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2001.

Nogalski, James D. The Book of the Twelve: Micah-Malachi. Macon, Georgia: Smyth & Helwys Publishing, 2011.

O'Brien, Julia M. Micah. Wisdom Commentary 37. Collegeville, Minnesota: Michael Glazier Book, 2015.

Olyan, Saul M. “Ben Sira’s Relationship to the Priesthood.” Harvard Theological Review 80 (1987):261–286.

Premnath, Devadasan N. “Amos and Hosea: Socio-historical Background and Prophetic Critique.” Word & World 28/ 2 (2008): 125–132

Preuss, Horst D. Old Testament Theology. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1996.

Provan, Iain, Long V. Philips and Longman Tremper III. A Biblical History of Israel. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003.

Redditt, Paul L. Introduction to the Prophets. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2008.

Rendtorff, Rolf. The Canonical Hebrew Bible: A Theology of the Old Testament. Translated by David E. Orton. Tools for Biblical Study, 7. Leiden: Deo Publishing, 2005.

Routledge, Robin L. Old Testament Theology: A Thematic Approach. Apollos: Inter-Varsity Press, 2008.

Schofield, Alison and Vanderkam, James C. “Were the Hasmoneans Zadokites?” Journal of Biblical Literature 124 (2005):73-87. https://doi.org/10.2307 /30040991

Shalom-Guy, Hava. “The Call Narratives of Gideon and Moses: Literary Convention or More?” Journal of Hebrew Scripture 11/11 (2011): 2–19. https://doi.org/ 10.5508/jhs.2011.v11.a11

Smith, Ralph L. Micah—Malachi. Word Biblical Commentary 32. Waco: World Books, 1984.

Smith-Christopher, Daniel L. Micah: A Commentary. The Old Testament Library. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2015.

Tiemeyer, Lena-Sofia. Priestly Rites and Prophetic Rage: Post-exilic Prophetic Critique of the Priesthood. Forschungen zum Alten Testament 2/19. Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2006.

Van der Toorn, Karel. Scribal Culture and the Making of the Hebrew Bible. London: Harvard University Press, 2007.

Von Rad, Gerhard. Old Testament Theology. London: Oliver & Boyd 1962.

Waltke, Bruce K. A Commentary on Micah. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007.

_______. “Micah.” Pages 591–764 in The Minor Prophets: An Exegetical and Expository Commentary. Edited by T. E. McComiskey. Grand Rapids Mich.: Baker, 1993.

Wolff, Hans W. Micah: A Commentary. Translated by Gary Stansell. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1990.

Published
2019-01-31