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Comment on Greenberg¶s essay of the difference between the ideal and the reality of power, and focus on Deut 17 and sections in 1 Samuel. Greenberg presents a difference between the ideal and the reality of power in his article. There is mention of unselfishness, humility, and correct information flow in the Law, but the prophets do not fulfill this ideal. In regards to unselfishness, Greenberg comments that the description of a King in Deut 17:16-20 is ³paradoxical, if not quixotic´ (pg 255). He correctly sees that the King which Deuteronomy speaks of is not supposed to be concerned with personal gain. Therefore there should not be the acquirement of many horses, many wives, nor silver and gold. Reflecting on the year of jubilee, and the economic system portrayed in the Law, Greenberg identifies the ideal Israel community to be made of equality in possessions. This includes the leadership of the King. The King is suppose to be humble and be willing to serve instead of be served. In 1 Samuel 8, and 15 we see how the very first King did not follow the principles of selflessness made in Deuteronomy 17. Instead, Samuel correctly warns the people that the King will take things for himself: daughters, the best of the fields and vineyards, a tenth of the grain, and slaves. Samuel gives this stern warning, including the later rejection of God, but the people do not listen. After Saul is chosen, we see how he indeed takes all the fields and vineyards for his own servant commanders (1 Samuel 22:7). This selfishness and disregard for Deut. 17 is seen even more clearly in the later King of Solomon. Solomon had twelve thousand horses (2 Chron. 9:25), received 666 talents of gold each year (2 Chron. 9:13), and even had 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:3). This unrespectable selfish approach to Kingship is the reality of the Bible. Once the Kings were instituted, not one King lived up to the expectations.

Behind a proper sense of unselfishness comes humility. In reference to Deuteronomy 17, a King is to have a heart that is not lifted up above his brothers (verse 20). He must fear God and know the book of the Law. Although the King is given authority, the authority does not lie in the King alone, but in the God above him. The repeated phrase in the context of the Laws concerning Israel¶s Kings is ³I will chose a King´ or some abbreviation of it. God¶s sovereignty is more important than the people¶s desire for a King; God will put a King in place when the land is possessed and dwelt in (17:14). Even this ideal, of possessing the promised land of milk and honey doesn¶t seem to be fulfilled in the Old Testament. Solomon quickly loses the temple and although Nehemiah and Ezra rebuild the city, the Temple has been destroyed ever since 70 AD. Historically, the land of promise is either: yet to come into existence, is all a lie, or it is not made by human hands and immaterial. Greenberg argues that universal peace was the real goal, in which nations would give up their trust in idols and power and lives in the desired humble equality (pg 258). This humble acceptance of God¶s power, not human power, is the ideal that the Bible points to. The Bible would say that only God is just and right to be Judge and King, and the power and corruption of human leaders proves this. Humans fail because humans cannot be good gods. An ideal is shown in Genesis 1, where Adam and Eve live in equality with each other in the image and likeness of God. The power and corruption first entered the Biblical narrative when humble submission was replaced with selfish ambition; for Eve lusted to ³be like God´ as Adam was with her (Genesis 3:5). This power shift put the authority in human hands, an immediately shame occurred because of the imperfection of human authority (Genesis 3:7). All this happened because the serpent questioned God¶s sovereignty when asKing what God ³actually said´ (Genesis 3:1). Just as God provided a plan to live in Genesis 1 and 2, God provided a correct way of Kingship in Genesis

17. Both of these disruptions in power occurred when God¶s plan was not trusted, and the authority was given to humans instead of God. Samuel warns that a King will ³reign over you´ similar to the authority of God. Although there is no clear reference to Saul using such a strong authority, Solomon uses acquired labour enforced by scorpions. (1 Kings 5:13-16, 12:4). These actions of reign show that the desire of the King is for personal glory, instead of God¶s glory. Greenberg correctly shows that the Israel people only received victory in war and constant miracles because of divine reward (pg 256). God¶s grace, coupled by Israel¶s holiness, is how the intended society is to function. The material realm is what the King¶s are wrongly concerned about, correct spiritual authority is the beginning of knowledge. The fear of the Lord, and the first commandment, echo this continual theme of trust in God¶s authoritative sovereignty. Because of the reality of power in the prophets, the Bible demonstrates that either a new King must come or that only God can be that King (or both). The authority must start from God and then go to the people. The King, understood in the Deut. 17, must be a mediator at most in this flow of authority. Through the authority comes the understanding of the Law. The King must copy the Law, and apply it to his own life. This is to help him personally, but it is also for his children (verse 20). The final ideal shown in Deut. 17 is that a King will provide continued spiritual discipline throughout further generations. Wisdom and knowledge is closely linked to authority, as the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. As the ideal King reads the copy of the Law all the days of his life (verse 19), he will learn more and more obedience to the Law.

Just as the other examples have shown, the ideal does not match the reality. When Saul becomes King he passes the crown onto his¶ son¶s friend, not his son. Although it could be argued that this is not a direct contradiction to Deut. 17, but Saul¶s successor quickly made a mess of being King. David committed adultery with Bathsheba. It has been suggested that Bathsheba played no seductive roll in the encounter, and David potentially abused his authority. Regardless, David did not practice one of the clearest commandments: do not commit adultery or covet after another man¶s wife. Knowing Solomon¶s previously discussed sins, we move to the next child; David¶s grandson Rehoboam. Because 10 of the tribes of Israel did not accept Rehoboam as their King a civil war broke out within Israel. At this point, all moral order was lost. If the chapters of Judges prove that there was need for a King, then the Kingship proves that there is a need for a better King. Moral order, based on equality of peoples under authority of God, was lost quickly due to the reality of the Kings. The warnings from Samuel in 1 Samuel 8 show that the failures were to be expected of human Kings. God¶s providence proved to the Israelites that they must have no authority but God himself. There should to be humility, even in leaders. Without humility the Kings abused their power for selfish momentary gain. If they were to stand by the guidance of the ideal King in Deut 17, then the knowledge through the Law would keep their hearts humble and morals pure. However, just as Greenberg suggests, the ideal and the real do not comingle in the Old Testament Kings.

3. Discuss the narrative in the book of Esther, focussing on it¶s satire and comedy. The Book of Esther is equated with comedy literature, it has satire and 2 key reversals in it¶s narrative. King Athasuerus is shown as an incompetent king who likes women and drinks. Additionally, Haman as second in command felt the brash of reversals to demonstrate the lack of true kingly leadership over Israel. Ahasuerus Greenstein notes that the king in the Book of Esther is a ³royal buffoon´ (pg 233). This was clearly portrayed by his love of wine, his treatment of women, and his gullible lack of knowledge as king. When reading through the narrative, I easily found myself laughing at Ahasuerus. Like any good comedy, there was a certain sense of tragedy running through the plot; how could such a king be king of Israel? But in the end we realize it was okay to laugh at him all along, because his stupidity was used for Jewish gain. As king, Ahasuerus loved throwing parties and getting people drunk. This in itself is satire. Redicule is quickly placed on the king in chapter 1 verse 8 when he orders each man to do as each man desired. Constantly through the narrative, the theme of drunkenness is brought to the forefront. Instead of a direct dismissal, the implications of the poor merits of drunkenness are seen by the actions of the king. In 2:1 Ahasuerus¶ drunken anger abates, and recalls what he did last night. But this isn¶t a University student, this is a king! Imagine former President Obama, throwing parties for congress and then making drunken decisions with women within his office. When President Clinton had a similar incident in the 90¶s, it provided decades of satire and ridicule from both sides. Surely a king should not be involved in this behaviour, and humour is used to demonstrate how ridiculous this king is.

One night, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he calls out to Queen Vashti to show off her goods. Even though Vashti is her wife, the king starts up an American Idol competition to figure out who the best looking girls are ± of coarse to have sex with him. After Esther is chosen among other women, I was struck by the king¶s ridiculous action. King Ahasuerus gives them all a year to get beautiful. I can¶t imagine telling my girlfriend she is among the prettiest girls in the nation and then tell her I¶ll buy her cosmetics and see her again in a year. There are some cultural differences at play, but through satire king Ahasurus is shown as unrespectable womanizer. When it comes to information, the king also seems to be at least 20 steps behind. He is easily fooled by Haman to make orders to kill the Jews. When the king does figure out what had happened, his reaction is like that of a baby who receives candy. Ahasuerus too often got drunk, and it left him making rash decisions. Not once in the story does Ahasuerus make a decision on his own accord ± other than drinking! Esther uses big feasts to get the king drunk in order to persuade the king¶s decision in Esther¶s favour. Not only does Ahasuerus fall to this, but he even allows the Jews to destroy their enemies. Like a puppet the king is manipulated by Esther. Overall the character of the king is something to be laughed at. In another instance he requests the book of memorable deeds in order to fall asleep. In chapter 6 you could say that the king was doing a good noble act by honouring Mordecai. But this theory is easily thrown out by the fact that Ahasuerus used the book that Mordecai was in to fall asleep. Throughout Esther, the king is seen as a passive agent of change used by others. There is no leadership, no authority (other than his seal, which he almost freely gives out to people) and there is no ideal king. It¶s as if the reader is reading a story of ³world¶s worst king.´ Through

satire and comedy, the reader is left ridiculing the king after reading the book. Clinton was made fun of for years, and the same is true for Ahasuerus. As king, Ahasuerus showed a poor political system. As second to the king, Haman showed the lack of political leadership. Haman In the narrative of Esther, two clear reversals took place. Reversals are used to show extremes, and are often promoted by someone making an strong argument. For example, I can insist that I am the best basketball player. But it would be made more clear if another player was first perceived as the best. The humour would begin when I learn from him, but later on I would become his basketball mentor. Such a reversal would show the extremity of my skills; since I would be taking him to school. The first reversal was used when Haman got killed in his own plot. As Esther 7:9-10 reads, the gallows that was once prepared for Mordecai is now being used to hang Haman. This is even funnier because of Haman¶s earlier comments. In Esther 5:9-14 Haman open ridicules Mordecai, only to be embarrassed later (6:12). This poor character of Haman allows the reader to openly laugh at him, since he is a morally unjust person. The second reversal was when Haman¶s plan was overtaken by Esther and Mordecai. Conclusion Both Ahasuerus and Haman are humorously out-witted by Esther and Mordecai. This leaves the reader disrespecting the king, yet still respecting Jews. Throughout this humorous comedy satire and reversals are used to withdrawn the power of the political system and leaders.