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Hosea, Book of

(633 words)

Author(s): Thiel, Winfried
1. Hosea was the only native writing prophet of the northern kingdom. He was active between 755/50 and 725 b.c., a period that saw the last years of peace for Israel (§1) under Jeroboam II, the so-called Syro-Ephraimite war of 733, and the successive dismantling of the northern kingdom by the Assyrian king Shalmaneser V. The defeat of Samaria and deportation of Israel by the Assyrians are not yet reflected in the book. Hosea worked in Samaria but probably also in Bethel and Gilgal. He differs from Amos in that his message contains less social complaint and more criticism of the cult. 2. The book …

Malachi, Book of

(326 words)

Author(s): Thiel, Winfried
1. Name, Author, Form “Malachi” is not the name of a prophet but simply means “my messenger” (see 3:1). We do not know, then, the name of the author. The work consists of six discussions setting out a thesis, stating the arguments against it, then establishing it and drawing out the implications. This form influenced later scribal disputations (Scribes) in early Judaism. 2. Contents The book deals with the people’s offering of worthless sacrifices and reduced tithes, divorce and mixed marriages, and proclamation of the day of God’s judgment. Many scholars vi…

Joel, Book of

(239 words)

Author(s): Thiel, Winfried
The Book of Joel has a strong liturgical orientation. A serious plague of locusts and drought (chap. 1) ¶ signifies the threatening proximity of the day of Yahweh (2:1–11). This setting issues in a proclamation of a day of lamentation and fasting (2:12–17), which brings about a turn to salvation (2:18–32). The day of Yahweh becomes a day of judgment on foreign peoples, while Jerusalem and Judah experience deliverance and paradisiacal fruitfulness (chap. 3). The date of the book is contested, though it may be the beginning of the fourth century b.c. (a different view is taken by W. Rud…

Jonah, Book of

(354 words)

Author(s): Thiel, Winfried
The Book of Jonah is the only part of the Minor Prophets that consists of a prophet story in which a psalm (2:1–9) has been inserted. The work tells of the prophet’s attempt to evade a divine commission, the miraculous way in which God brought him back, his proclamation of judgment upon Nineveh, the penitence of Nineveh, which moves God to withhold his judgment, and the anger of Jonah that God spared the city upon its conversion, to which God responds with instruction. The main character, Jonah, is taken from a note in 2 Kgs. 14:25, referring to a prophet who proclaimed a message of salva…

Obadiah, Book of

(323 words)

Author(s): Thiel, Winfried
The Book of Obadiah opens with the phrase “The vision of Obadiah,” a superscription obviously intended to reflect the prophetic functions of Obadiah, about whom we know nothing. Although the ¶ name may have been a fictitious one attached to an originally anonymous collection of oracles against Edom, an actual individual may be behind the book, someone generally identified as a cult prophet who was active shortly after the fall of Jerusalem in 587 b.c. (see vv. 11–14). H. W. Wolff suggests he may have been a cult prophet who a…

Habakkuk, Book of

(364 words)

Author(s): Thiel, Winfried
The Book of Habakkuk has a liturgical form. A complaint by the prophet in 1:2–4 is followed by God’s reply (vv. 5–11), which announces the coming of the Chaldeans (v. 6). When the prophet objects (vv. 12–17), Yahweh gives a fresh answer (2:1–5), to which a series of woes is appended (6–20). Chap. 3 contains a prayer, the heart of which is the depiction of a theophany. This chapter is structured in such a way that it can be used in worship. The presence of social criticism, which in the present context is directed at international events and especially at the Babylonians, crea…

Micah, Book of

(442 words)

Author(s): Thiel, Winfried
1. Man and Date Micah was from Moresheth-gath in the Judean hill country. He was also active in Jerusalem. He was a younger contemporary of Isaiah, and his message is similar. He prophesied between 734 and 712 b.c. Nothing is known of his status. He has been described as a poor farmer, a worker on the land, and a village landowner or elder (H. W. Wolff). 2. Contents and Redaction The book is divided into three parts (chaps. 1–2, 3–5, 6–7) and carries a message structured according to the schema of disaster and salvation. Scholars dispute how much comes from Micah himself. T…

Amos, Book of

(648 words)

Author(s): Thiel, Winfried
1. Amos, the first of the writing prophets, came from Tekoa in Judah. Although a herdsman and a grower of figs, not a professional prophet, Amos was a man of broad outlook who did not lack means or education. A call from God took him out of his daily round and sent him to do prophetic work in the northern kingdom. He came there about 760 b.c. and in Bethel and Samaria, perhaps also Gilgal, proclaimed the inevitable fall of Israel. Denounced and expelled, he seems to have gone back to Judah after hardly a year of activity. Amos’s coming occurred at the time of Israel’s final prosperity. The w…

Nahum, Book of

(261 words)

Author(s): Thiel, Winfried
The prophet Nahum came from Elkosh (site unknown). He was active between the capture of Thebes (or No-Amon, see 3:8) by the Assyrians in 664/663 b.c. and the fall of Nineveh in 612. The essential content of his book is intimation of the collapse of Assyria and of future salvation for Israel (§1). These themes and the liturgical forms used are generally taken to suggest that Nahum was a Jerusalem cult prophet. The work begins with a fragmentary acrostic psalm (1:2–8) that Nahum himself, it is widely thought, did not perhaps formulate. After a word of comfort for Juda…

Haggai, Book of

(367 words)

Author(s): Thiel, Winfried
The Book of Haggai contains sayings of the prophet woven into a narrative and set in a chronological framework. Haggai emerged in Jerusalem in 520 b.c., the second year of the Persian monarch Darius I, and served there for only four months. Economic difficulties stemming from poor harvests were troubling the community, and reconstruction of the temple had come to a halt. This setting provided the occasion of Haggai’s (and Zechariah’s) ministry. The temple stood at the heart of Haggai’s message. The distress of the day, he taught, was the result of breaking off the r…