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The Prophets (Nevi’im) I . The Deuteronomistic History (DH) (Chapter 6 in textbook). The Prophets : - The Former Prophets (the Deuteronomistic History [DH]) ( Nevi’im I): - Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings; and - The Latter Prophets ( Nevi’im II ) :

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the prophets nevi im i

The Prophets (Nevi’im) I

The Deuteronomistic History (DH)

(Chapter 6 in textbook)


The Prophets:

- The Former Prophets (the Deuteronomistic History [DH]) (Nevi’im I):

- Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings;


- The Latter Prophets (Nevi’imII):

- Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and The Twelve (that is, the 12 Minor Prophets).


The Former Prophets (the Deuteronomistic History [DH]) (Nevi’im I):

  • Joshua, Judges, Samuel (1 and 2), and Kings (1 and 2).
  • Order of Treatment:
  • A General Overview of the Former Prophets; and then
  • Specific books of the Former Prophets.

1.A General Overview of the Former Prophets:

Why are the Former Prophets (Nevi’im I) called the Deuteronomistic History (DH)?

Two versions of the Deuteronomistic History:

1. During the reign of Josiah (640-609 BCE), that is, 621-609 BCE;

2. During the Babylonian Exile (587-538 BCE).

(See Table 3.2 “A Tentative Chronology of Tanak (Hebrew Bible) Writings,” pp. 45-46 in textbook.)


R. E. Friedman, Who Wrote The Bible? and the identity of the Deuteronomist. Jeremiah?

See Textbook, p. 148.


Sources that the Deuteronomistic historian(s) used (p. 148):

- Oral Traditions:

- Stories about the individual tribes (tribal stories);

- Stories about the Prophets Elijah and Elisha;

- Written Documents:

- Archaic poetry, e.g., Book of Jashar (Josh 10.13; 2 Sam 1.18).


Sources that the Deuteronomistic historian(s) used (contd.):

- Written Documents (contd.):

- Royal Archives, e.g., The Book of the Acts of Solomon (1 Kings 11.41); The Book of the Annals of the Kings of Judah (1 Kings 14.29); and the Book of the Annals of the Kings of Israel (1 Kings 14.19).

None of these sources have survived!


The Deuteronomistic Author(s) proposed only one factor for Israel’s rise and fall - its loyalty or disloyalty to Yahweh (see Book of Deuteronomy, Chapter 28);

  • Assyria and Babylonia were seen by the Deuteronomistic author(s) as the means that Yahweh used to punish a disobedient people;
  • These nations are instruments of Divine Wrath;
  • The Deuteronomistic History (DH) emphasizes the theological meaning rather than the mere facts of historical change;

DH covers seven crucial periods or events (pp. 148-49):

  • (In the books of Joshua through 2 kings):
  • 1) the conquest of Canaan under Joshua’s leadership (the Book of Joshua);

DH covers seven crucial periods or events (pp. 148-49):

(In the books of Joshua through 2 kings):

2) the Twelve-Tribe confederacy and its battles with assorted Canaanite city-states (the Book of Judges) (Figure 6.4, p. 157);


DH covers seven crucial periods or events (contd.):

  • (In the books of Joshua through 2 Kings)
  • the Philistine crisis …apex reached under David and Solomon (1 and 2 Samuel; 1 Kings); (Solomon’s temple, see Figure 6.5, p. 175); (the empire of David and Solomon, Figure 6.6, p. 177).
  • The Philistine Pentapolis: Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gath, and Ekron (Joshua 13.3)
  • (For the chronology of all these events see Textbook, Table 3.1, pp. 42-44).

DH covers seven crucial periods or events (contd.):

  • 4) the secession of the Northern Tribes … and the two Kingdoms, that is, Judah and Israel (1 Kings) (see Map, Figure 6.7, p. 180);
  • 5) the Divided Kingdom and the destruction of the capital of the Northern Kingdom in 721 B.C.E. (2 Kings); (see Table 6.1, pp. 178-79);
  • 6) King Josiah’s religious reforms in Judah following 621 BCE. (2 Kings) Textbook, p. 186).
  • (For the chronology of all these events see Textbook, Table 3.1, pp. 42-44).

DH covers seven crucial periods or events (contd.):

7) Babylon's destruction of the Kingdom of Judah and its Temple in Jerusalem in 587 B.C.E; and the Babylonian Exile (2 Kings) (Textbook, p. 205).

(For the chronology of all these events see Textbook, Table 2.1, pp. 45-47).


Exile of inhabitants of the northern state of Israel into captivity in 721 BC and the southern state of Judah in 586 BC.


In addition, the DH is characterized by three motifs (p. 149):

1. Yahwist prophets such as Elijah and Elisha are pictured as heroic crusaders against the cult of Baal and other Canaanite impurities (see 1 Kings 17.1-24; 18.1-46; 19.1-8 [all about Elijah]); and 19.19-21 (the call of Elisha);

2. The preeminence of Jerusalem …;

3. Every ruler in the Northern Kingdom is condemned; moreover, every King of Judah who was not a complete Yahwist is also condemned… only two of David's successors, namely, Hezekiah and Josiah, measure up to Mosaic standards.


DH ends with a glimmer of hope (2 Kings 25.27-30).

Does the final editor of DH hope that Yahweh would restore the Davidic royal line?

A National Crisis: Questioning the Deuteronomic Assumptions (Psalms 44.17-19 and 89.38-39) (Textbook, pp. 186-87)

Second Isaiah proclaims that Yahweh would lead a new exodus back to the promised land (Textbook, p. 187).


Specific Books of the Former Prophets:

  • Joshua;
  • Judges;
  • 1 and 2 Samuel; and
  • 1 and 2 Kings.

The Book of Joshua:

- an idealized portrayal of the “Conquest” of the land of Canaan; and

- subsequent distribution of the land among the Israelite tribes.

(The Book of Judges provides a different picture of the “conquest”/”settlement” in the Promised Land.)

- the Book of Joshua portrays the fulfillment of the promise to the Patriarchs and Matriarchs that their descendants would possess the land.


JOSHUA (pp. 150-158):

  • The book has two main divisions:
    • the Conquest (1.1-12.24); and
    • the Allotment of the land (13.1-24.33).


  • The book follows a logical geographic arrangement:
    • an east-west crossing into Canaan (chs. 2-5);
      • military campaigns directed at:
        • the centre (chs. 6-8);
        • south (chs. 9-10); and
        • north (ch. 11).
        • This is concluded by a summary list (ch. 12).


    • The division of the land covers:
  • - the Transjordanian tribes(ch. 13);
  • - the south and central tribes (chs. 14-17);
  • - the northern and peripheral tribes (chs. 18-19); and
  • - entities of marginal status (chs. 20-21).

Three Models for the Historic Origins of Israel:

  • See Textbook, Box 6.2, pp. 154-55.
  • Discrepancy between the Book of Joshua and the findings of archaeology.
  • Using:
  • - the biblical text; and
  • - the archaeological evidence.
  • Three competing theories on Israelite origins:
  • Conquest model;
  • peaceful infiltration model; and
  • social revolution model.


  • The law (“torah”) plays a normative role in the book:
    • Israel’s obedience or disobedience to the law determines success or failure (Deuteronomistic Theology);

The Book of Judges:

- “Period of the Judges”;

- traditionally dated to the Iron I (1200-1000 B.C.E.);

- provides a different picture of the “conquest”/”settlement” of the Promised Land than does the Book of Joshua (see Judges 1.1-36);


Sequence of Events in the Book of Judges:

- Israel repeatedly turns against God/Yahweh;

- as a result, God gives Israel into the hand of its enemies;

- the people realize why they are oppressed;

- they repent;

- God raises up a “judge”;

- the people are delivered from their enemies;

- For example, Jgs 2.11-23.


Who were these “Judges” of Israel?

- military leaders, e.g., Ehud (Jgs 3.12-30);

- judicial function, e.g., Deborah (Judges 4);


- the tribes of Israel struggling to maintain their footing in Canaan;

- little in the way of cohesion among them;

- no unity (Jgs 17.6; 18.1; 19.1; 21.25);

- no definite state;

- frontiers not as yet fixed;

- at first, occupy mostly the mountainous areas of the land of Canaan.


Judges 4 and 5:

- Deborah and Barak narrative.


Keep in Mind:

- that these narratives were originally tribal in nature;

- they most probably involved one or two tribes;

- however, the Deuteronomistic Historian gives these stories a pan-Israel setting;

- the narratives are used to show the results of both loyalty or disloyalty to Yahweh (see above);

- Israel’s enemies are used as instruments of Yahweh’s wrath against a disobedient people;

- they are, thus, history written from a religious point- of-view.


1 Samuel:

  • Traces the origin and development of kingship in Israel;
  • the fulfillment of Yahweh’s promise to Abraham;
  • different sources used: one favourable to the monarchy; the other unfavourable;
  • Main Divisions of 1 Samuel:
    • the career of Samuel (chs. 1-12);
    • the rise and tragic fall of Saul, Israel’s first king (chs. 13-31).

1 Samuel (contd.):

  • - Samuel: priest, prophet, and judge;
  • He is also a king-maker and a king-breaker: initially anoints Saul as king and later rejects him;
  • He secretly anoints David as king;
  • Saul’s decline and David’s rise;
  • Samuel, Saul, and the Philistine crisis.

2 Samuel:

  • The long reign of David described;
  • He is at first just king of Judah, his own tribe;
  • later he becomes ruler of the 10 northern tribes as well;
  • Davidic Covenant: an “everlasting” dynasty; it is unconditional;
  • David and Bathsheba (chs. 11-12).

1 Kings:

  • a general laudatory account of Solomon’s reign (chs. 1-10);
  • dedication of the temple built by Solomon;
  • a criticism of Solomon’s toleration of the worship of foreign cults - Solomon’s apostasy and its consequences (ch. 11);
  • a revolt by Jeroboam I against Rehoboam, Solomon’s son and successor, and the establishment of the northern kingdom of Israel (chs. 12-14); the Great Schism;
  • - the DH condemns all the kings of the northern kingdom (chs. 15-16) (see, for example, 2 Kings 15.23-29; etc. (Table 6.1, “Events and Rulers in the Divided Kingdom”);
  • - bitter rivalry between Israel’s King Ahab and the Yahwist prophet Elijah (chs. 17-22) (see Map, Fig. 6.7, p. 180).

2 Kings:

  • - book is thought to have originally ended with a description of Josiah’s religious reform;
  • however, revised to explain the downfall of the northern kingdom at the hands of the Assyrians (721 BCE) and the southern kingdom of Judah at the hands of the Babylonians (587 BCE);
  • the DH narrates stories of the covenant-breaking of both the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah;
  • thus, he prepares the readers for the final catastrophe.

2 Kings (contd.):

  • - Ahab’s death, Elisha’s backing of Jehu and the slaughter of all of Ahab’s descendants (chs. 1-10);
  • The reigns of Israelite and Judean kings (chs. 11-16);
  • the Assyrian conquest of Israel and the origin of the Samaritans (ch. 17);
  • the last days of Judah and the approval of the policies of Hezekiah (chs. 18-20);
  • denunciation of Manasseh and the reason for the collapse of Judah (ch. 21);
  • Josiah’s reforms (chs. 22-23); and
  • Nebuchadnezzar’s destruction of Jerusalem and the temple of Solomon (chs. 24-25).

Exile of inhabitants of the northern state of Israel into captivity in 721 BC and the southern state of Judah in 586 BC.



“Questions for review” #s 1 and 2 (textbook, p. 150);

“Questions for Discussion and Reflection” (textbook, p. 150);

Add on this section questions:

Describe clearly the seven crucial periods or events that the DH covers.

Describe the three motifs by which the DH is characterized.


Questions (contd.):

“Questions for Review”, p. 156 in textbook;

“Questions for Discussion”, #1 on p. 156 in textbook.

Add to these questions:

Describe clearly three models for the historic origins of Israel.


Questions (contd.):

“Questions for Review”, p. 163 in textbook;

“Questions for Review”, p. 173 in textbook;

“Questions for Review”, pp. 187-188 in textbook.

“Terms and Concepts to Remember” for all these books.