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God’s Kingdom During the Second-Temple Era

God’s Kingdom During the Second-Temple Era

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Published by Rafael Rodriguez
During the Second-Temple era, Jews exhibited a wide variety of ideas regarding how God would act, eventually, to judge wickedness and vindicate faithfulness. This speech examines these ideas in two texts, the deutero-canonical book of Tobit and the Dead Sea Scroll fragment known as 11Q13 (or 11QMelchizedek).
During the Second-Temple era, Jews exhibited a wide variety of ideas regarding how God would act, eventually, to judge wickedness and vindicate faithfulness. This speech examines these ideas in two texts, the deutero-canonical book of Tobit and the Dead Sea Scroll fragment known as 11Q13 (or 11QMelchizedek).

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Categories:Types, Speeches
Published by: Rafael Rodriguez on Nov 03, 2011
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“Anticipations: God’s Kingdom During the Second-Temple Era” p. 1Rafael Rodríguez, PhD Johnson UniversityThursday, 3 November 2011
[1]
 
A
NTICIPATIONS
:
 
G
OD
S
INGDOM DURING THE
S
ECOND
-T
EMPLE
E
RA
 
1. Introduction
Wow. It’s great to be here. No, seriously. I never thought I’d get the chance to speak at aJohnson University chapel service. At least, not again. Not after the incident with
[2]
 
theJapanese beetles. (Just between you and me, I think Dean Wolf is getting desperate for chapelspeakers; sometimes it feels like
[3]
 
they’ll let anyone get up here on stage.) In case you weren’there for our celebration of the quadricentennial celebration of the King James Bible, theorganizers of that event assigned me
[4]
 
the enviable title, “The Greek Text behind the KingJames Bible.” This week I have been asked to present some thoughts on the theme of thekingdom of God in texts that were written between the Old and the New Testaments. Finally, atopic I can get excited about!! The period between the Testaments saw the rise of multiplefactions among Jews living in Palestine, so I thought I about calling today’s address,
[5]
 
“FromGreek Text to Jewish Sects.” But instead I thought we’d focus on
[6]
 
Jewish expectations andanticipations of the advent of God’s kingdom in the centuries between the prophetic activities of Malachi and the birth of Jesus. If I have a point to make (and I suppose I
 should 
), it would bethis: After Ezra and Nehemiah,
[6
A
]
 
Jews of the Second-Temple era didn’t know what to expect, but they knew to expect something.
 [7]
 
2. Setting the Stage
Historian George Nickelsburg lists three facts that
[7
A
]
 
“dominated Jewish history in the sixthand fifth centuries [
BCE
]: the fall of Jerusalem and the ensuing exile in Babylon; the return fromthe exile and the restoration of the Jewish community;
[8]
 
and the continued dispersion of a large
 
“Anticipations: God’s Kingdom During the Second-Temple Era” p. 2Rafael Rodríguez, PhD Johnson UniversityThursday, 3 November 2011
number of Jews.”
1
The third of these facts—the continued dispersion of a large number of Jews beyond the borders of 
eretz Israel 
among the surrounding nations—would dramatically affectJewish culture and theology clear through the twentieth century. I think it’s easy for us tooverlook the trauma of the ongoing Dispersion for Jewish identity even after the return fromexile; for example, I was raised and educated to speak of “monarchical,” “exilic,” and“postexilic” Israel (or Judaism). This language, however, masks the sense in which Jewsexperienced the exile as an ongoing condition afflicting the body of God’s people even
after 
 Ezra and Nehemiah. As a result, instead of “postexilic” Judaism, I prefer to speak of “SecondTemple Judaism,” which leaves open the question whether Israel had emerged from exile(“postexilic”) or was in any sense still “in exile.” A little later Nickelsburg explains:
[9]
 
The destruction of Jerusalem and the exile meant the disruption of life and the breaking up of institutions whose original form was never fully restored. Much of  postbiblical Jewish theology and literature was influenced and sometimes governed by ahope for such a restoration:
[10]
 
a return of the dispersed; the appearance of a Davidicheir to throw off the shackles of foreign domination and restore Israel’s sovereignty; andthe gathering of one people around a new and glorified temple.
2
 Judaism from the Persian period through the various rulers of the Hellenistic period and the brief experience of autonomy under the native Hasmonean Dynasty and into the Roman period was, inmany if not in most senses, the story of this “hope for such a restoration” of “institutions whoseoriginal form was never fully restored.”
1
George W. E. Nickelsburg,
 Jewish Literature between the Bible and the Mishnah
(second edition;Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2005), 8.
2
Nickelsburg,
 Jewish Literature
, 14.
 
“Anticipations: God’s Kingdom During the Second-Temple Era” p. 3Rafael Rodríguez, PhD Johnson UniversityThursday, 3 November 2011
My plan for this morning is to briefly present two texts from the late Second-Temple era(or what we Christians normally call the intertestamental period). And, of course, I will be tryingto demonstrate my central thesis, that
[11]
 
“Jews of the Second-Temple era didn’t know what toexpect, but they knew to expect something.”
 [12]
 
3. Soundings from the Second Temple:
Tobit 
The book of 
Tobit 
is a work of historical fiction that revolves around the life and experiences of Tobit, a very pious Israelite from
[12
A
]
 
the northern tribe of Naphtali. Like the Old Testamentfigure of Job, or like Cornelius in the Acts of the Apostles, Tobit’s faith shows itself throughremarkable acts of piety. For example,
[12
B
]
 
he gives one-tenth of his income to poor and
[12
C
]
 
another tenth to care for widows, orphans, and gentile converts to Judaism. When the Assyrianking would kill Israelites and leave their bodies lying outside the city walls,
[12
D
]
 
Tobit wouldtake it upon himself to bury them. But Tobit’s piety did not result in excuse him from life’sdifficulties. Despite his faithfulness to
YHWH
when the Naphtalites began worshiping the calf-idols throughout Galilee,
[13]
 
Tobit found himself carried off by the Assyrians and exiled to thecity of Nineveh. Despite his concern to bury the Israelite victims of the Assyrian king, or rather 
because
of his concern to bury Sennacherib’s victims,
[13
A
]
 
Tobit found himself hunted by theking, forced into hiding, and all his possessions confiscated. And finally, after Sennacherib’sdeath and Tobit’s return to Nineveh and his family, Tobit suffered the ultimate indignation. Onenight, after burying a murdered Israelite whose body had been left in the marketplace, Tobit wassleeping in his courtyard near where some sparrows were nesting. Let me read the text at this point:
[14]
 
“I did not know that there were sparrows on the wall; their fresh droppings fell intomy eyes and produced white films. I went to physicians to be healed, but the more they treated

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