Saturday, October 5, 2013

Living Lessons from Dead Kings / Lesson 07 - Jehoshaphat pt 2 - 2 Chronicles 19-20

Lesson 7 – Jehoshaphat
#1-2  can be used to talk about the justice system in our country or our personal decision making process when we have to judge between children or people who work for us. 
2.  This might be a good time to point out this fruit of Jehoshaphat’s following Deuteronomy 17.18-19.
4.  I stumbled across a Christian “rapper” named Jahaziel on the web.  I smiled at the comparisons and contrasts between him and the Jahaziel in this passage.
#6 revisits the topic of alliances with the ungodly.
4. My understanding of “directing” your heart toward God is making changes in your circumstances, schedule, and priorities that make it easier to pursue you relationship with God and more difficult to stray from the Lord.  It also speaks to how far you are willing to go in following the Lord.  Some of the men might have tips for how they have successfully done this.
5. Your men may not feel comfortable sharing these, but you should encourage them to think about it.
This is the second of seven parts of the article, “Guidelines for Understanding and Proclaiming Old Testament Narratives.”  This section emphasizes how observing the plot of an account helps to uncover the meaning the author is seeking to communicate.  Most of us barely remember talking about this stuff in our high school or college literature classes, so a quick review should be helpful.
Lesson 07 - Jehoshaphat pt 2 - 2 Chronicles 19-20
ID: Inductive Questions (Asking the text questions like who, what, where, when, why, & how?”)
CR: Cross References (Comparing Scripture to Scripture, understanding the vague by the clear.)
WS: Word Study (Understanding definition, theological meaning, and usages in other passages.)
The WORD: What does the Bible say?
Context: The primary focus of this lesson will be on Jehoshaphat’s judicial reforms, war with Moab and Ammon, and his regnal résumé in 2 Chronicles 19-20.
1.    ID:  (19:4-5, 8)  What judicial structure did Jehoshaphat set up for the courts in Judah?
2.    CR:  (19:6-7, 9-10)  What instructions did Jehoshaphat give to the judges and priests for settling controversies?  Can you think of any parts of the Pentateuch that they might have been taken from?
3.    ID:  ( 20:6-12 )  Outline Jehoshaphat’s prayer.  Notice how he appeals to God’s character and then to the injustice of his attackers before he makes his request.
4.    ID:  (20:14-17) What did Jahaziel tell Jehoshaphat to do?  What did he say God would do?
5.    ID/CR:  (20:21-29) – What song did they sing in the battle? Can you think of a song or other Scriptures (like Psalm 136) that include those same or similar words?  How did the LORD fight for them??
6.    ID:  (20:35-37)  Think through the highlights of Jehoshaphat’s alliance with Israel.  In light of Eliezar’s short, blunt rebuke why do you think God opposed those alliances?  What seems to have motivated Jehoshaphat to ally with Ahab? with Ahaziah?
The WALK: What should I do?
1.    What applications do Jehoshaphat’s instructions to his judges have for us in our personal lives?  Are they still good guidelines for judges today?  (“You shall warn them” may not be something we usually associate as a judicial function.)
2.    What are some insights or tips you have learned about praying from the example of Jehoshaphat’s prayer in 20:5-12? 
3.    Singing in difficult times is also a Christian tradition (Acts 16:25).  Do you remember a trying time when you sang praises to the Lord? Do we “praise the beauty of holiness” in our worship?  How? 
4.    How do you direct (or aim) your heart toward God?
5.    Have you identified any “nevertheless” areas (20:33) in your life?  What do you still need to do to finish well?

Hermeneutical Guidelines
The following hermeneutical guidelines can help exegetes recapture the "mode of perception that was second nature to the original audiences."9
1.    Follow the Plot Development and Shape
According to Bar-Efrat a narrative's plot consists of "a meaningful chain of interconnected events." 19 Gunn and Fewell comment, "Plot is the organizing force or principle through which narrative meaning is communicated.  There must be events for there to be story; not random events but events that are connected, events that have design, that form a pattern—events that are ‘plotted.'"20
Tracking the plot is important because "the plot serves to organize events in such a way as to arouse the reader's interest and emotional involvement, while at the same time imbuing the events with meaning."21  Plots in Old Testament narrative assume the same basic shape.  These plots build on a conflict or a collision between two forces.22  "No ignorance and no conflict, no plot."23  Generally interpreters should look for the plot to unfold in this pattern:
    1. Background (exposition)
    2. Crisis (complication)
    3. Resolution
    4. Conclusion (denouement) such as to inspire or inform.24
At the beginning of a story, the background or exposition supplies the details needed for understanding the story.  It introduces the characters, giving their names, traits, physical appearance, position in life, and relationships among them.25  It may also describe the geographical or historical setting.  "In general no information is included in the exposition which does not have a definite function in the development of action." 26  For example in the Judah-Tamar story of Genesis 38, verses 1–6 function as background or exposition, introducing the geographical setting ("went down…Adullam") and the characters who play a part in the plot (Judah, his sons, and Tamar).  This information, which shows Judah making a break with his brothers and establishing relationships with the Canaanites, tips off the reader that Judah is not walking in fellowship with Yahweh.27  In the Book of Esther, chapters 1–2 serve as background.  To understand the story of Esther, a reader must grasp King Xerxes' anger and compulsive behavior, Esther's secret nationality, and Mordecai's uncovering of an assassination plot.  According to Esther 2:23, Mordecai's heroic deed was recorded in official court records.  This information becomes crucial in the events recorded in Esther 6.
After the background the plot moves into the crisis or complication. Bar-Efrat recognizes that this is the climax of a story.28  In Genesis 38, verses 7–24 present the crisis. Actually two crises are present. First, in verses 7–11 Yahweh put two of Judah's sons, Er and Onan, to death.  Tamar, Er's wife, was left as a childless widow when Judah refused to give his third son, Shelah, to her in keeping with the custom of levirate marriage.  Rather than moving quickly to a resolution, verses 12–24 build toward another crisis that flares up in verse 24 .29  There Judah discovered Tamar's pregnancy and sentenced her to burning.  In the Book of Esther the crisis occurs in chapters 3–4 , which record Haman's plot to destroy the Jews.30
From the climax of conflict, the plot descends rapidly to the resolution of the tension. In Genesis 38 the resolution occurs in verses 25–26 when Tamar produced the objects that indict Judah as the man who impregnated her. Judah then pronounced her more righteous than himself. In the Book of Esther the resolution occurs in 5:1–9:19 as (a) Mordecai received the honor Haman intended for himself, (b) Haman received the hanging he intended for Mordecai, and (c) the Jews triumphed over their enemies.
Stories end in a conclusion or denouement. Some scholars lump this together with the resolution. But some stories' conclusions develop the consequences of this resolution for the principal characters. Esther 9:20–10:3 certainly illustrates this point.   Less certain is whether Genesis 38:27–30 functions as a separate conclusion or is part of the resolution.
According to Bar-Efrat the conclusion in many biblical narratives is clearly marked, often by someone who returns home or leaves for another destination. 31
Ryken also notes that the movement of a plot may take either a comic or a tragic direction. A comedy is a "U-shaped story that begins in prosperity, descends into tragedy, and rises again to end happily."32  Old Testament narratives with comic structure include the Book of Esther, the Book of Ruth, and Genesis 38. A tragedy, on the other hand, is "the story of exceptional calamity. It portrays a movement from prosperity to catastrophe."33  Tragedies in the Old Testament include the stories of Esau in Genesis 25–27, Samson in Judges 13–16 , and Saul in 1 Samuel 8–31. 
(Continue reading this article in the next lesson or read it all at

[9] Alter, The Art of Biblical Narrative, 62.
[19] Bar-Efrat, Narrative Art in the Bible, 93.
[20] David M. Gunn and Danna Nolan Fewell, Narrative in the Hebrew Bible (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993), 100.
[21] Bar-Efrat, Narrative Art in the Bible, 93.
[22] Ibid., 94.
[23] Sternberg, The Poetics of Biblical Narrative, 173.
[24] Tremper Longman III provides a helpful diagram of plot structure in biblical narrative (Literary Approaches to Biblical Interpretation [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1987], 92). His diagram follows the same pattern suggested above, but he provides more details in the flow of the plot structure.
[25] Bar-Efrat, Narrative Art in the Bible, 111.
[26] Ibid., 114.
[27] For an analysis of Genesis 38 see Steven D. Mathewson, "An Exegetical Study of Genesis 38," Bibliotheca Sacra 146 (October-December 1989): 373-92. Interpreters should be aware of the fluid changes between the elements of a plot. Sometimes it is difficult to determine the precise point at which one element stops and the next begins. For example does the background section of Genesis 38 end with verse 5 , 6 , or 10 ?
[28] Bar-Efrat, Narrative Art in the Bible, 121. Also see Longman, Literary Approaches to Biblical Interpretation, 92.
[29] Bar-Efrat calls this structure an "illusory conclusion". He writes, "In contrast to examples, where the story line gradually rises to a climax and then descends rapidly to the serene conclusion, here the narrative does not end after the gradual ascent and the rapid decline, but rises once more to another pinnacle, only then descending to the genuine conclusion" (Narrative Art in the Bible, 124).
[30] Once again the fluid changes between plot elements make it difficult to determine if the crisis section ends with chapter 4 or extends into chapter 5, where two more "mini-crises" transpire: Esther had to approach the king, and Haman built gallows on which to hang Mordecai.
[31] Bar-Efrat, Narrative Art in the Bible, 130-31. Also see Alter, The Art of Biblical Narrative, 65.
[32] Leland Ryken, How to Read the Bible as Literature (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984), 82. Ryken lists the following elements in literary comedy: disguise, mistaken identity, character transformation from bad to good, surprise, miracle, providential assistance to good characters, sudden reversal of misfortune, rescue from disaster, poetic justice, the motif of lost and found, reversal of conventional expectations, such as the preference of the younger child over the older, and sudden release.
[33] Ibid., 83.

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