This post is a continuation from Proof of God From Prophecy Part 1.
Ancient Near East cultures, languages, mythologies, law codes, literature, prophecies etc: often provides the keys to
understand the Tenach. This post will focus on ANE prophecies which have points of contact with Tenach prophecies.
From Ancient Texts For The Study of The Hebrew Bible - Kenton Sparks 2005)
Mesopotamian Omen Literature (Beginning on page 217) Who wrote them ? 1) The god Ea per one important tradition 2) The gods Samas and Adad revealed them to the primeval king Enmedoranki per another popular view. 3) The ancient scholars who wrote the divination texts believed they are divinely inspired works. [1) thru 3) are not unlike notions found among Jews.]
Page 221 The Mesopotamian Summa Alu - fungal growths are portents sent by the gods; so too in Israel Leviticus 14:33-34. Both cultures required a ritual response.
Page 222 Divination by Psephomancy - Used by Mesopotamians and by Israel’s priests via Urim and Thummim - Exodus 28:30, Lev 8:8, Numbers 27:21.
The Babylonian Talmud provides ritual prescription for Lecanomancy (oil omens) in which the gods Ea, Sin, Samas, Marduk are demythologized as the sea and three luminaries.
Dream Omens and revelations (from the gods). Such notions also found in the Bible and other culture in the ANE. [Even today some Orthodox Jews will claim their own dreams, say concerning a deceased family member or some other issue are a communication from the spiritual realm.]
Page 224 Old Babylonian Mari Prophecies include prophecies from at least ten deities. Like in ancient Israel, there were also ‘ecstatic’ prophets; and prophecies received in dreams.
Page 227 Neo Assyrian Prophecies - Some oracles remind the King of Istar’s continued faithfulness during hard times. Also, there is an oracle where god Assur promises to protect and preserve the King’s dynasty [Both notions are found in the Tenach, only the king and god are different.]
In the ‘NeoAssyrian letters’ (purported to be sent by gods to NeoAssyrian Kings), god Assur informs Assurbanipal victories are the result of divine favor because of his opponents “evil deeds” and sins. [This notion also found in the Tenach, only the king and god are different.]
Page 233 Ugarit - Deceased king delivers oracles to those still living. See I Sam 28:3- 25. I wrote a post on this see Saul, The Witch, and the Ghost
Page 235 A) Poetry was a feature of some Near East prophecies and the same is true of many Bible prophetic oracles. Book suggests it would enhance receptivity of the listening audience. [ Their listening audience were the people thousands of years ago, not us. Their listening audience thousands of years ago would probably understand most of the coded words, veiled references and symbolism found in the Tenach prophecies.]
B) Mesopotamian prophecies were delivered orally and then preserved in writing. The oracle reports are influenced by the Ideological perspectives and concerns of those who wrote them. The state apparatus preserved some oracles giving nascent canonical status. Additional editorial shaping could occur when disparate oracles are organized by theme and content. Thus biblical records are probably not verbatim oracles. Israel’s prophetic literature was complex, transmitted over along period, and passed thru different Ideological hands. We expect each prophetic book an end product of a lively editorial and theological process.
C) With a few exceptions, ancient States tended to preserve oracles supporting state apparatus. But Hebrew prophets disparaged the government sometimes predicting it’s downfall. Book suggests Hebrew prophetic corpus transmitted thru a combination of State and non State contexts.
[I suggest one possible reason for our prophets attitudes are related to the desert semetic origins of some of the Israelites. The Tenach relates early on, in some circles there was some Israelite reluctance to have an Israelite King. Kings are not consistent with desert semetic tribal culture. Arguably, the desert semetic tribe had allegiance to their tribal god and or tribal ‘fathers’ not a King. Another possible reason includes that the Israelite religion grew out of disenfranchisement with the Canaanite culture who may have had Kings, perhaps even oppressive kings.]
D) Near East prophecies are not a product of a long canonical process. However, Near East omen compendia are canonical texts reflecting a long process of composition and editing. Book explains some Hebrew prophetic books (Isaiah, Jeremiah...) can be attributed to such a process.
E) Omen divination by arrow occurs with Elisha in 2 Kings 13:14-20
Page 241(246 ?) Standard Scholastic viewpoint is that the visionary material in Daniel are pseudoprophetic and were composed in response to Hellenistic oppression of the Jews during the second century BCE.
Page 242 The Sulgi Prophetic Speech
King Sulgi (2094-2047 BCE) predicts the history of Babylon down thru the 12th century. The book explains the prophecies can be correlated with history down thru the 12th century BCE. The prophecies are also followed by a prediction of Babylon’s restoration. [This should sound familiar to our prophets ‘predicting’ the restoration of Israel’s monarchy or glory days etc:]
Page 243 The Uruk Prophecy
Predicts a 10th king would renovate Uruk’s Temples and return the statutes of Uruk’s protective goddess from Babylon. A prediction that fits Nebuchadnezzer II (604 -562 BCE). There is also a prediction of an 11th King of Uruk whose dynasty would forever rule the world.
[This should sound familiar to our prophets ‘predicting’ the Israel’s’ dominance over other nations.]
Page 244 The Dynastic Prophecy
Predicts the rise and fall of Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Macedonia with good accuracy. The alternating pattern of ruling dynasties are good and evil. The book suggests the next Dynasty would have been the evil Seleucids; thus a prediction of Seleucids downfall. The book relates this to Daniel’s message - the Seleucids would be replaced by the favorable Babylonians. Also, book 3 of Sibylline Oracles seem to confirm anti Seleucid sentiments common in Babylon at the time.
Page 245 Prophecy of Neferti
Given by Neferti to Pharaoh Sonfru of the Old Kingdom 2575-2551 BCE. Predicts Egypt will fall into disarray until a king from the South named Ameny will rise and restore Egypt’s fortunes. [ This should sound familiar to our prophets ‘predicting’ the restoration of Israel with a future King.] The prophecy comes true with a King Amenemhet I 1991-1962 BCE the savior !
Page 247 Egyptian Texts - Oracle of the Potter and Nectanebo’s dream predicts national deliverance from the Greeks. [ Just like the Tenach prophecies of deliverance.]
Page 247 From the Babylonian exile on, Jewish tradition received inspiration from Mesopotamia, Egypt, Persia and Greece. Persian influence on the Eschatology of Second Temple Judaism include: Religious Dualism, Angels, Demons, Millennialism Judgment, Afterlife and the periodization of history. There is substantial evidence the basic shape of Persian Apocalyptic existed by 600 BCE several centuries before Daniel was written. “This makes it more likely that the conceptual and generic features of Jewish apocalyptic were influenced by Persian Ideas.”
Page 248 Greek Authors in 7th century BCE were using conventions that would later become important in Jewish historical apocalypses.
Page 250 Daniel, Babylonian Dynastic Prophecy, Egyptian Demotic chronicle similarities: Presents history as a cycle of rising and falling kingdoms; use esoteric/symbolic language; practice vaticinia ex eventu ; their pseudoprophecies are followed by genuine prophecies; all three respond to Hellenistic oppression and predict deliverance thru a native ruler. The book then explains that if all three are in response to oppression, the prophecies importance rest not in prediction value but encouragement for the suffering.
The Jewish Study Bible Berlin and Brettler editors 2004 edition. Page 1641regarding Daniel “Scholars consider the predictions in this book [Daniel] as in other apocalypses, to be prophecies after the fact, purportedly written down centuries earlier and kept secret in order to give credence to other predictions about the end of history. The predictions are detailed and accurate `until the end of the Maccabean revolt in 164. At that point, however, they veer dramatically from what we know of the actions of the Seleucid king (see annotations to ch 11), and scholars assume that the author lived and wrote at the precise time when the predictions become inaccurate.”
The Religion Of Israel An Historical Study by Henry P. Smith 1914 Writes regarding Daniel : “All that we need note is that the Author of Daniel was firmly convinced that the great event of the worlds history, the termination of the world’s history, in fact, and the opening of a new period, was three years and a half away from the date of writing.” In this he was of course mistaken.
My prior Proof of God From Prophecy Part 1 mentioned a valid argument may be made there are ‘prophecies’ in the Tenach that have not been fulfilled, false prophecies. Per Smith and the Jewish Study Bible we have found one in Daniel. Another is found in Human Sacrifice in the Bible Part 2. Time permitting, I intend to provide other examples of failed prophecies in the Tenach.
My Proof of God From Prophecy Part 1 established the required criteria that a prophecy should fulfill before we entertain the prophecy as evidence for something supernatural. Using those criteria I think we can dispose of any Bible or any ANE prophecies you may come across as proof of supernatural.
- Alter Cocker Jewish Atheist
- Sorry no longer take comments. Post's 'labels' are unreliable for linking or searching. Use the INDEX OF POSTS instead. A fairly accurate, but incomplete INDEX of Posts & good overview of this blog READ SOME REASONS TO REJECT ORTHODOX JUDAISM my April 2014 post or click link above. Highlighted words lead to other posts almost all in my blog. Born into an Orthodox Jewish family (1950's) and went to Orthodox Yeshiva from kindergarten thru High School plus some Beis Medrash.Became an agnostic in my 20's and an atheist later on. My blog will discuss the arguments for god and Orthodox Judaism and will provide counter arguments. I no longer take comments. My blog uses academic sources, the Torah, Talmud and commentators to justify my assertions. The posts get updated. INDEX OF POSTS SEE MAY 2017 or click link above.