Thursday, April 20, 2017

Interesting Random Facts--Jehoshaphat

I was always a huge Old Testament history geek when I was a kid.  And I still largely am now (despite becoming an agnostic.)
Jehoshaphat was an interesting one.  The authors of Kings and Chronicles praised him as one of the best Kings of Judah.  And yet Jehoshaphat was always palling around with King Ahab, who the authors of Kings and Chronicles thought was one of the worst Kings of Israel.  How do you explain that?  What do you suppose those two talked about when they got together.

The other day, I saw the word "Jehoshaphat" being used as an exclamation, which made me remember my 5th grade Bible classes studying about King Jehoshaphat and King Ahab.  Which sent me over to Wikipedia.

Interesting things I learned:

How did Jehoshaphat's name become an oath?

The king's name in the oath jumping Jehosaphat was likely popularized by the name's utility as a euphemism for Jesus and Jehovah. The phrase, spelled "Jumpin' Geehosofat", is first recorded in the 1865-1866 novel The Headless Horseman by Thomas Mayne Reid.[5][6] The novel also uses "Geehosofat", standing alone, as an exclamation[7] The longer version "By the shaking, jumping ghost of Jehosaphat" is seen in the 1865 novel Paul Peabody by Percy Bolingbroke St John.[8]
Another theory is that the reference is to Joel 3 where the prophet Joel says, speaking of the judgment of the dead, "Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about: thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O LORD. Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about."
In the 1956 Warner Brothers Merrie Melodies theatrical cartoon short, Yankee Dood It, (based on the fairy tale of The Elves and the Shoemaker, Jehosephat figures prominently as an invocation to turn elves into mice.
Also, remember the battle of Ramoth-Gilead?  Turns out that...

The British Bible scholar, Hugh J. Schonfield theorized that the location of Armageddon, mentioned only in the New Testament, at Revelation 16:16, is a Greek garbling of a supposed late Aramaic name for Ramoth-Gilead; that this location, having anciently belonged to the Hebrew tribe of Gad, was, in New Testament times, part of the Greek region known as the Decapolis, it was (Schonfield theorized) known as Rama-Gad-Yavan (Yavan meaning Greek), which when translated into Greek became Armageddon (much as Ramathaim was translated to Aramathea).[1]

And also an interesting Wikipedia article on Mesha (The Moabite King that Ahab and Jehoshaphat teamed up against)

And from there, there's a really interesting article on The Mesha Stele (also known as the "Moabite Stone")

I am Mesha, son of Chemosh-gad,[20] king of Moab, the Dibonite. My father reigned over Moab thirty years, and I have reigned after my father. And I have built this sanctuary for Chemosh in Karchah, a sanctuary of salvation, for he saved me from all aggressors, and made me look upon all mine enemies with contempt. Omri was king of Israel, and oppressed Moab during many days, and Chemosh was angry with his aggressions. His son succeeded him, and he also said, I will oppress Moab. In my days he said, Let us go, and I will see my desire upon him and his house, and Israel said, I shall destroy it for ever. Now Omri took the land of Madeba, and occupied it in his day, and in the days of his son, forty years. And Chemosh had mercy on it in my time. And I built Baal-meon and made therein the ditch, and I built Kiriathaim. And the men of Gad dwelled in the country of Ataroth from ancient times, and the king of Israel fortified Ataroth. I assaulted the wall and captured it, and killed all the warriors of the city for the well-pleasing of Chemosh and Moab, and I removed from it all the spoil, and offered it before Chemosh in Kirjath; and I placed therein the men of Siran, and the men of Mochrath. And Chemosh said to me, Go take Nebo against Israel, and I went in the night and I fought against it from the break of day till noon, and I took it: and I killed in all seven thousand men, but I did not kill the women and maidens, for I devoted them to Ashtar-Chemosh; and I took from it the vessels of Jehovah, and offered them before Chemosh. And the king of Israel fortified Jahaz, and occupied it, when he made war against me, and Chemosh drove him out before me, and I took from Moab two hundred men in all, and placed them in Jahaz, and took it to annex it to Dibon. I built Karchah the wall of the forest, and the wall of the Hill. I have built its gates and I have built its towers. I have built the palace of the king, and I made the prisons for the criminals within the wall. And there were no wells in the interior of the wall in Karchah. And I said to all the people, ‘Make you every man a well in his house.’ And I dug the ditch for Karchah with the chosen men of Israel. I built Aroer, and I made the road across the Arnon. I took Beth-Bamoth for it was destroyed. I built Bezer for it was cut down by the armed men of Daybon, for all Daybon was now loyal; and I reigned from Bikran, which I added to my land. And I built Beth-Gamul, and Beth-Diblathaim, and Beth Baal-Meon, and I placed there the poor people of the land. And as to Horonaim, the men of Edom dwelt therein, on the descent from old. And Chemosh said to me, Go down, make war against Horonaim, and take it. And I assaulted it, And I took it, for Chemosh restored it in my days. Wherefore I made.... ...year...and I....

Interesting.  In The Unauthorized Version, Robin Lane Fox says that the house of Omri was attested to in inscriptions outside of the Bible.  (Omri, you'll remember, was Ahab's father.)  This must have been what he was talking about.

Also both Robin Lane Fox and Peter Enns talk about how other ancient inscriptions in Palestine are very similar to the kind of polemics found in the Old Testament, only with the names of different gods.  I think, actually, one or both of them may even have referenced this exact same inscription, but I can't remember for certain.

No comments: