OLD TESTAMENT READING: JEREMIAH, OBADIAH, NAHUM, HABAKKUK, ZEPHANIAH, EZEKIEL, AND ISAIAH 40–66
In this chapter, we will expand our prophetic coverage, exploring the books of Jeremiah, Obadiah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Ezekiel, and the second portion of Isaiah. Lengthy books like Jeremiah and Ezekiel are considered “major,” whereas the shorter books, such as the single-chapter Obadiah, are deemed “minor prophets.” Some books include personal details about the prophet, whereas others like Nahum are virtually devoid of such information. However, all of these writing prophets articulated Yahweh’s messages in the seventh century BCE and through the crises leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BCE and the ensuing exile.
We will note how the traumatic events of Israel’s changing world impacted the urgency, tone, and even theological emphases of the prophets. For example, Second Isaiah contains one of the most explicit OT statements of monotheism. In Ezekiel, we will observe the first focus on the role of individual responsibility for sin, along with an especially personal tone by means of the fi rst-person voice. Finally, we will encounter the concept of the “Day of the Lord,” which represents Israel’s move toward eschatology.
Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians in 586 BCE. In one moment, the Judeans lost their city, their king, and their temple and priesthood. Their leadership was taken away into exile. This was obviously a turning point in Israelite history. Beyond the crisis itself, the exile lasted until 539 BCE, when the Persians captured Babylon and released the Judeans shortly thereafter. The period of the exile was likewise an important moment in history.