The four-source theory

Originally, many thought Moses wrote all the Torah, the first five books of the Bible.  Bible scholars of the last century have been able to locate four distinct strands, the Jahwist (J) the oldest from around 950 BCE, the Elohist (E) from around 850 BCE, the Deuteronomist (D) from around 650 BCE, and the later Priestly (P) sources around 600-400 BCE.  The Priestly source put it altogether after the exile around 450 BCE, long after the death of Moses.  Some scholars have developed more elaborate documentary hypothesis within this source theory.

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The attack on Jerusalem (Zech 14:2-14:2)

“I will gather

All the nations

Against Jerusalem

To battle.

The city shall be taken.

The houses shall be looted.

The women shall be raped.

Half of the city

Shall go into exile.

But the rest of the people

Shall not be cut off

From the city.”

Yahweh was going to gather all the other countries to battle against Jerusalem.  Jerusalem would be defeated, as the city would be taken.  Their house would be robbed and their women raped.  Half of the city would go into exile, while the other half would be okay in the city.

The example of Thebes (Nah 3:8-3:10)

“Are you better

Than Thebes?

They sat by the Nile,

With water around her.

Her rampart was a sea.

Water was her wall.

Ethiopia was her strength.

Egypt too was her strength,

Without any limit.

Put

With the Libyans

Were her helpers.

Yet Egypt became an exile.

She went into captivity.

Even her infants were

Dashed into pieces

At the head

Of every street.

Lots were cast

For her nobles.

All her dignitaries

Were bound in chains.”

The Assyrians had captured Thebes, the capital of Egypt in 663 BCE.  Thus, Nahum pointed out that the Assyrians were no better than the Egyptian capital town of Themes on the Nile River.  Even though they were on the Nile River and protected by water all around them, they still fell to these Assyrians.  All their neighbors, including the other people of Egypt, and the surrounding counties of Ethiopia and Libya, were not able to help her.  Thus, Nahum pointed out that Egypt went into exile and captivity.  Even their children and infants were dashed to pieces on the street corners.  They held a lottery for their noble men.  All the important dignitaries of the city of Thebes were bound in chains.  So too, it would be the same for Nineveh and Assyria.

The distressed city of Nineveh (Nah 2:6-2:9)

“The river gates

Are opened.

The palace trembles.

It is decreed

That the city

Be exiled.

Its slave women were

Led away,

Moaning

Like doves,

Beating their breasts.

Nineveh is

Like a pool

Whose waters

Run away.

‘Halt!

Halt!’

They cry.

But no one turns back.

Plunder the silver!

Plunder the gold!

There is no end

Of treasure.

There is an abundance

Of every precious thing.

Devastation!

Desolation!

Destruction!

Hearts faint!

Knees tremble!

All loins quake!

All faces grow pale!”

Nahum painted this picture of chaos in Nineveh.  He said that the river gates were opened, so that the palace and the people in it were trembling.  The people of this city were going to go into exile.  The slave women were led away, moaning like doves and beating their breasts.  The whole city of Nineveh had become like an overflowing pool.  People were saying stop, but no one was listening.  No one turned back as they keep on fleeing.  Meanwhile, there was a great plunder of their treasures of gold, silver, and the other abundant precious things.  Everywhere there was devastation, desolation, and destruction in this great city.  Hearts were fainting, while kneels were trembling.  Their faces grew pale as their loins shook.

Amos was told to leave Israel (Am 7:11-7:13)

“Thus Amos has said.

‘Jeroboam shall die

By the sword!

Israel must go

Into exile

Away from his land!’

Amaziah said

To Amos.

‘O seer!

Go!

Flee away

To the land

Of Judah!

Earn your bread there!

Prophesy there!

But never again prophesy

At Bethel!

It is the king’s sanctuary.

It is a temple

Of the kingdom.’”

Amos had said that King Jeroboam II would die by the sword. Amos had also said that Israel would go into exile. Thus, Amaziah, the main priest at Bethel, told Amos to go back to Judah. There he could earn his keep and prophesize. However, he was to never again prophesize at Bethel, since that was the king’s sanctuary, the temple for the northern kingdom of Israel. This northern priest wanted Amos to go south to Judah, since he did not like what Amos was saying.

The woeful bad situation in Israel (Am 6:4-6:7)

“Woe to those

Who lie on beds

Of ivory!

Woe to those

Who lounge

On their couches!

Woe to those

Who eat lambs

From the flock!

Woe to those

Who eat calves

From the stall!

Woe to those

Who sing idle songs

To the sound of the harp!

Like David,

They improvise

On instruments of music.

Woe to those

Who drink wine

From bowls!

Woe to those

Who anoint themselves

With the finest oils!

But they are not grieved

Over the ruin of Joseph!

Therefore,

They shall now be

The first of those

Who go into exile.

The revelry

Of the loungers

Shall pass away.”

Yahweh, via Amos, pointed out the woeful bad situation in Israel. Those lying on beds of ivory, lounges, or couches would be cursed. Those eating lambs or calves would also be cursed. Even those who sang idle songs on the harp or other improvised instruments would also be cursed. Those who drank wine from bowls or anointed themselves with fine oil would also be cursed. They would not grieve for the ruin of Joseph, that is Israel. Now all these who were lounging around will be the first to be sent into exile. All of these pleasures among the overconfident people in Israel would pass away.

Against Ammon (Am 1:13-1:15)

“Thus says Yahweh.

‘For three transgressions,

Of the Ammonites,

And for four,

I will not revoke

The punishment.

Because they ripped open

Pregnant women

In the Gilead.

They wanted to enlarge

Their territory.

So,

I will kindle a fire

Against the wall of Rabbah.

Fire shall devour

Its strongholds,

With shouting

On the day of battle.

There will be a storm

On the day of the whirlwind.

Their king

Shall go into exile,

He with his officials together.’

Says Yahweh.”

Ammon was east of the Jordan River, between the Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee in the old Gad territory. According to Genesis, chapter 19, the Ammonites were the descendants of Lot through the incest he had with his daughter. Yahweh, via Amos, invoked the same language as he had used against Damascus, the Philistines, Tyre, and Edom. He used the same numeric formula of 3 and 4, as found in Proverbs, chapter 30. These Ammonites had killed pregnant women in the Gilead, the Israelite territory on the east side of the Jordan River, because they wanted to take over that territory. Thus, Yahweh was going to send fire down on Rabbah, the capital city that is today the capital of Jordan, Amman. This fire would destroy all their fortresses, like a storm or whirlwind. The king and all its officials would go into exile.