I’m doing a few post on reading the minor prophets, specifically Amos, so I thought I’d back up and lay out some helpful things to remember/know while reading.
Prophet – from the Hebrew, related to fountain. So, God’s Fountain of words. The prophet is God’s spokesman. Described by one theologian as someone who cares more about the truth than being liked. Can either be spoken to by God or sees visions. The point is not to predict the future, that is not what a prophet is; though, they may receive revelations about the future.
Minor prophet – just means shorter books. Shorter in latin is something like minus, which just became minor. There are 12 of them and the writings combined fit in the middle, lengthwise, of the four major (longer) prophets. Sometimes there combination is called the Book of the Twelve.
Jerusalem – Northern Kingdom, made up of 10 tribes, sometimes referred to as Jacob or Joseph (or house thereof); also sometimes (especially in Hosea) called Ephraim. Capital was Samaria. Spiritual center was Bethal.
Judah – Southern Kingdom, made up of 2 tribes (Ben). Split when north wouldn’t recognize Rehoboam as king, after Solomon dies in 931. Capital was Jerusalem.
Ephraim – Most powerful tribe, descendant of Joseph.
Edom – Sovereign nation south of Judah; descendants of Esau. On and off war. More oracles against it than anyone else.
Assyrians – World badasses from 1000 to 605. Destroyed the temple in 722 and owned North Kingdom from 722 to 605.
Babylonians – World badasses from 605 to 539. Had both kingdoms. Jews were exiled. Nebuchadnezzar defeats Assyrians. Destroys Jerusalem.
Persians – World Badasses from 585 to 330. Cyrus defeats Babylonains. Allows Judah to return, rebuild temple.
Baal – god of thunderstorms, fertility and agriculture; lord of Heaven. Jews worshiped him and God. Had ritual prostitution at the temple.
Day of the Lord – Basically the end of the world, where God sits in Judgment. In the Ancient Near East, they didn’t have endless wars. After a few battles, they could tell who would win. An area could be conquered in months, weeks or even days. God, being the most powerful will conquer and Judge the world in a day.
Major Themes of Minor Prophets
- God’s Sovereignty
- God’s people needing to return to worship of God and God alone
- Peace, Justice and fair treatment of the poor/foreigners
- Pre-exile, future destruction
- Post-exile, future return to homeland
- David King and continuing Kingdom, Temple/Jerusalem restored
931 – Solomon dies; United Kingdom divides into North and South.
Pre-Assyrian Prophets – Obediah (most likely 845), Joel (probably, between 875ish to 830ish, could also be 750ish to 720ish), Amos(755), all in the South and Jonah (probably, 785-775) and Hosea (750-725ish) in the North.
735ish-695ish – Micah
722/21 – Destruction of Temple
Assyrian Captivity (722-605)
Nahum in the north
Zephaniah and Habakkuk (non-concurrent) in the South
Babylonian Captivity and Exile (605-535)
605 – First Jews deported
586 – Fall of Jerusalem
Obadiah may be floating around here if not earlier.
539 – Cyrus defeats Babylon
536 – Jews return to Judah, start to rebuild Temple
520 – Haggai and Zechariah
516 – Temple completed
445 – Walls of Jerusalem rebuilt
440ish – Malachi