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Micah

Background 

The prophet Micah was born in the town of Moresheth-Gath, an agricultural town in southern Judah. His name means “who is like God.” He was active between 742 and 687 BC during the overlapping reigns of Jotham and Ahaz, as well as Hezekiah. Which is where he is listed on the Biblical Timeline Poster. Most of the situations Micah wrote about occurred during the reigns of Jotham and Ahaz, but his prophecies were written during much of Hezekiah’s reign which may have brought about the religious reformation he initiated.

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He lived around the same time period as the prophets Hosea, Isaiah, and Amos. While Micah came from and prophesied in the country, Isaiah lived and prophesied in Jerusalem. Samaria was on the verge of collapse because of repeated invasions of the Neo-Assyrian army during the writing of the book of Micah and Judah itself was not doing very well during the reigns of Jotham and Ahaz.

Micah_prophet
“Micah the prophet”

The Book of Micah

The prophecies of Micah are divided into three parts:

  • The condemnation against Samaria and Judah because of various sins the people committed.
  • The future punishment for these negative actions, including the doom that the Assyrian armies will bring about.
  • The hope for a restoration of Israel after their repentance.

Throughout the book, the condemnation, the punishment, and the hope for restoration repeatedly and consistently follow each other.

Condemnation:

Part I

  1. Accusations against Samaria and Jerusalem (1:2-5)
  2. Judgment against rich oppressors (2:1-5)
  3. Judgment against false prophets (2:6-11)

Part II

  1. Judgment against Israel’s oppressive and corrupt leaders who receive bribes; paid prophets (3:1-4; 8-11)

Part III

  1. Judgment against dishonest merchants and corrupt and violent wealthy people (6:10-12)
  2. Judgment against officials and judges who accept bribes and twist justice (7:1-6)

Punishment

Part I

  1. Destruction of Samaria, followed by Judah (1:6-7; v 9-16)
  2. Punishment for the wealthy oppressors (2:3-5)
  3. Eviction from their homes (2:10)

Part II

  1. Darkness and disgrace for false prophets (3:5-7); destruction of Jerusalem and Mount Zion (3:12)

Part III

  1. Economic ruin for dishonest merchants and rich yet corrupt people (6:13-15)
  2. Downfall of corrupt officials and judges (7:7-10)

Restoration

Part I

  1. Return from exile of those who were in captivity and restoration of those who remained in Israel (2:12-13)

Part II

  1. Restoration of Mount Zion, peace between the nations of the earth, and prosperity (4:1-5)
  2. Israel’s return from exile (4:6-8)
  3. The promise of a ruler from Bethlehem who will rescue the people from the Assyrians (5:2-6)
  4. Purification of the remnants of Israel (5:7-15)

Part III

  1. Forgiveness of sins and compassion on the people (7:14-20)
References:
Holy Bible: New Living Translation. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1996
Picture By 18-century icon painter – Iconostasis of Transfiguration Church, Kizhi monastery, Karelia, north Russia, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3235604
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Ezekiel

Background

Ezekiel, whose name means ‘God strengthens,’ was born in Jerusalem during a time of great upheavals caused by the invading Babylonian army. He can be found on the Biblical Timeline at the end of 600 BC. Ezekiel is introduced in the first chapter as ‘the priest, the son of Buzi’. He received one of his first fantastic visions of four-faced and winged creatures as well as ‘the appearance of the likeness of the glory of God’ while living in exile near the Kebar river in Babylon. His ministry started seven years before the final destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. and covered the events between 590 B.C. and 571 B.C. He was already working as a priest when he was captured and taken to Babylon in 597 B.C.

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Daniel and Ezekiel were roughly the same age, although Daniel was already established in his prophetic ministry in Babylon by the time Ezekiel arrived (Ezekiel 14:14 and 20, 28:3). Ezekiel was married, the death of his wife is recorded in Ezekiel 24:15-27.

The Book of Ezekiel

Ezekiel
“Biblical illustration of Book of Ezekiel Chapter 37”

Destruction of Jerusalem

Ezekiel’s prophecies are divided into three parts:

  1. the condemnation of Judah and the total destruction of Jerusalem (chapters 1-24)
  2. the prophecies against foreign nations (25-39)
  3. the plans for rebuilding the new temple (40-48)

The first part consists of a series of prophecies concerning Judah. He was called by God to prophesy against the people by eating a scroll with laments written on it (2:8-10; 3:1-3). The prophecies of Ezekiel about the fall of Jerusalem were full of symbolism which included

* The drawing of a map of Jerusalem under siege on a clay tablet (4:1-3).

* Lying on his left side for 390 days for each year of Israel’s sins and 40 days on his right side for each year of Judah’s sins (4:4-8).

* The ration of bread baked with cow dung as fuel to symbolize scarcity and Israel’s impending captivity into the land of the Gentiles (4:9-17).

* The divine razor used by Ezekiel in cutting up his hair into three parts which symbolized the people who will die of famine and disease in the city, those killed outside the city walls, and those who will be scattered (5:1-13).

The last prophecies against Jerusalem can be read on the 24th chapter, while the 25th chapter up to the 32nd is series of messages against Judah’s neighbors. Those who received condemnation were the Ammonites, Moabites, Edomites, Philistines, the Phoenicians of Tyre and Sidon, and Egyptians.

Promise of Restoration

Ezekiel is not all gloom and doom. The last parts of his prophecies were promises of restoration. His fantastic vision of a valley full of dry bones connecting with each other and coming back to life is a symbol of hope for the people of Israel who will be freed from captivity and will return to Jerusalem in due time (37:1-14). He received a vision as early as the 14th year from the fall of Jerusalem (40:1) about God’s detailed plans for a new temple. Ezekiel also received instructions on the new borders and divisions of the land for each tribe. A sacred site will be allotted between Judah and Benjamin as the place where the new temple will stand. A river of healing will flow out from the temple to the Dead Sea.

References:
Curtis, Adrian, and Herbert G. May. Oxford Bible Atlas. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007
https://bible.org/article/introduction-book-ezekiel
Picture By Distant Shores Media/Sweet Publishing, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18884417
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James the Greater

Saint James the Greater was one of Jesus’ first disciples and one of the apostles who was killed because of his faith. (The life of Christ and his ministry with the twelve apostles is listed on the Bible Timeline after 1 AD). Jesus had first called Simon and his brother Andrew to follow him. He then found the other brothers, James, and John. They were in a boat with their father, Zebedee. Jesus found the fishermen repairing their nets and told them to follow him. They got up, and they left their father behind. (Matt. 4:21; Mark 1:19; Luke 5:10)

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James was the son of Zebedee and Salome (Matt. 27:56; Mark 15:40, 16:1). He was the elder brother of John the Beloved and probably called “the Greater” because he was older or taller than James the Less. As he was one of the first disciples of Jesus, the description (epithet) “the Greater” would also make sense.

James_the_Greater
“Saint James the Greater”

An introduction of all twelve apostles can be found in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke (Matt. 10:2; Mark 3:17-18; Luke 6:14). The list included both James, son of Zebedee and James, son of Alphaeus. He and his brother John were called “sons of thunder” (Boanerges) because they were easily angered. Jesus rebuked them when the Samaritans refused to welcome Jesus as he passed through their village. The brothers had asked him if they should “call down fire from heaven to burn them up” (Luke 9:54).

Jesus was with James and John when he taught in the synagogue of Capernaum and cast out an evil spirit from a man. The brothers were also present when Jesus healed Simon’s mother-in-law and saw him heal the sick people of the town (Mark 1:21-34). James, along with Peter and John, were among the apostles who were close to Jesus as they witnessed his transfiguration (Matt. 17:1; Mark 9:2; Luke 9:28) as well as the healing of Jairus’ daughter (Luke 8:40, 51-56).

Jesus gave both James, John, their mother Salome, and the other apostles present a lesson in serving others in Matt. 20:20-24 and Mark 10:35-41. Their mother asked Jesus if her two sons could “sit in places of honor next to Jesus” and he rebuked them. Jesus would later bring James, John, and Peter with him in the garden of Gethsemane before his crucifixion (Matt. 26:37; Mark 14:33). He was also present during and after Jesus’ ascension (Acts 1:6-13).

According to the Historia Compostelana, which was published in the 12th century, James preached first in Judea and Samaria and sailed later to Spain. He came back to Judea but was sentenced to death by Herod Agrippa I (Acts 12:1-3). After his death, his body was transported by boat to the shores of Iberia (Spain) and was buried in Santiago de Compostela, a city which now bears his name. The city’s cathedral houses the relics of Saint James and has become the center of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage. The relics were authenticated by Pope Leo XIII on November 1, 1884.

References:
Orr, James. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans Pub., 1939
Maddrell, Avril, Alan Terry, and Tim Gale. Sacred Mobilities: Journeys of Belief and Belonging
Picture By Guido RenibgH3Bqotg5nTTw at Google Cultural Institute maximum zoom level, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21880518
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David and Bathsheba, How old was their son when he died?

The question: Can you tell me the age of the infant son of David and Bathsheba from their adultery when he died?

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Bethsheba

Answer: No. All we know is that Nathan the prophet was sent to David after the child was born but we do not know how long it was after he was born. We also know that the child was struck ill on that day and lived for seven days. The history is found in 2 Samuel Chapters 11-12. It is interesting that during the entire nine months until the birth of the child and Nathan’s visit David did not write any new psalms. Also, it’s interesting to me that David and Bathsheba’s fifth son, born after the death of their first, is named Nathan.

An excellent discourse on these chapters including repentance, forgiveness, the effects of sin on those around us and more can be found in Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible

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Absalom

Absalom was the third son of David and Maacah, the daughter of King Talmai of Geshur (2 Samuel 3:3). He can be found on the Bible Timeline Chart around 1029 BC. Absalom had a sister named Tamar whose rape by their brother Amnon played a crucial role in Absalom’s rebellion.

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Early Life

Absalom was one of the sons born to David in Hebron and described as a handsome man who had no rival in Israel when it comes to physical beauty (2 Samuel 14:25). Over the course of time, Absalom had three sons and one daughter also named Tamar. He was known to be a charming man who insinuated his way into the hearts of the people of Israel to gain power (2 Samuel 15:1-6).

The Rape of Absalom’s Sister Tamar and His Escape to Geshur (2 Samuel 13)

The Bible does not gloss over the mistakes and weaknesses of many of its central characters, especially the House of David. It is ironic that the meaning of Absalom’s name was “Father of Peace” when his violent deeds resulted in a struggle for the kingdom with his father David that ultimately led to Absalom’s death. The narrative started in 2 Samuel 13 when Amnon schemed with his cousin Jonadab to bring Tamar, his half-sister, and Absalom’s sister, into his quarters by pretending to be sick and have her cook for him because he lusted after her.

King David unwittingly agreed when Amnon made the request and sent his daughter to Amnon’s quarters to prepare the food. She was then raped and cast out by her half-brother. The news reached her brother Absalom and her father, David. While they both were angry with Amnon, the incident was hushed up. Absalom simmered in his anger for Amnon while David refrained from meting out justice because of his love for his oldest son. Absalom had Amnon murdered afterward. Absalom then fled to his grandfather King Talmai in Geshur for three years.

Absalom
“David fleeing from Jerusalem”

Reinstatement and Rebellion (2 Samuel 14 and 17)

David longed to see his son Absalom in spite of his crime. Absalom returned to Jerusalem after a successful scheme by Joab involving a woman from Tekoa. She told the story of her two sons who killed each other. After his reinstatement, Absalom conspired to overthrow David and declared himself king over Israel in Hebron. David had to leave Jerusalem after most of the people sided with Absalom. Meanwhile, David sent his adviser Hushai back to serve and spy on his son. To add insult to injury, Absalom also slept with his father’s wives as advised by Ahithophel, David’s former counselor.

Ahithophel also promised Absalom to kill David himself so a civil war could be averted, but Hushai fooled Absalom and counseled against a direct assassination. Hushai suggested that they gather an army and go to an open war with David and his men. The news of the attack reached David, and they were able to escape. He assembled his men to prepare for a battle against his son but instructed his commanders and the soldiers not to harm Absalom.

Death (2 Samuel 18)

During the battle, Absalom got his hair caught in the branches of a tree. He was killed by Joab and was deeply mourned by David when news of his son’s death reached him. Absalom was buried in Ephraim’s Forest where Joab’s men threw his body into a deep pit and put piles of rock over it (2 Samuel 18:17).

References:
Picture By William Brassey Hole – http://www.orientalism-in-art.org/David-fleeing-from-Jerusalem-is-cursed-by-Shimei.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20344164
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Abraham Lived During The Life Of Shem

He was no doubt familiar with antediluvian events and would have given to his generation a very direct account of the same.

Abraham was one of Shem’s most distinguished descendants. (The line of descent from Shem down to Abraham is listed in Genesis 11:10-26.)  This is listed on the Bible Timeline Chart around 2004 BC. His ancestors were ordered as follows.

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Ancestor Age Upon Fatherhood Age Upon Death
Shem 100 600
Arphaxad 35 438
Shelah 30 433
Eber 34 464
Peleg 30 239
Reu 32 239
Serug 30 230
Nahor 29 148
Terah 70 205
Abraham 100 175

 

Abraham and Shem
“The genealogy of Shem to Abraham according to the Bible”

Abraham (then named Abram) was born in Ur of the Chaldeans in Mesopotamia when his father Terah was 70 years old. There were several generations linking Shem with Abraham. However, Shem was still alive when Abraham was born. As mentioned in Genesis 11:11, Shem lived 500 years more after the birth of Arphaxad. This overlapping of years between the two may have allowed Abraham to learn about the antediluvian events directly from one of the people who survived the flood such as Shem. This included the Genesis creation narrative, the story of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, as well as other notable ancestors who came before Shem. Although the construction of the Tower of Babel was mentioned before the appearance of Abraham in Genesis 11, it is not clear whether Abraham lived before, during, or after this event.

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Laban, Rebecca’s Brother

Laban was the son of Bethuel and Milcah and brother to Rebecca. He was Isaac’s cousin, and later he became Isaac’s brother-in-law after Rebecca’s marriage. Laban was also the father-in-law and uncle to Jacob through marriage to Leah and Rachel. He can be found on the Bible Timeline around 1829 BC.

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Laban was first mentioned in the Bible after Abraham’s chief servant set off to Paddan Aram (Aram Naharaim) to do his master’s bidding of finding a suitable wife for Isaac from his own kin. After the servant’s initial meeting with Rebecca by the town’s well, she rushed back to her family and told them about a man who gave her a gold nose ring and gold bracelets. Laban played a crucial role in Isaac and Rebecca’s marriage. He acted as the head of the family as Abraham’s servant asked for Rebecca’s hand in marriage on behalf of Isaac. Laban and his father Bethuel did not consent nor decline but acknowledged that the matter “is from the Lord” (Genesis 24:50).

Laban
“Laban and Jacob make a covenant together, as narrated in Genesis 31:44–54”

Laban once again became part of the story when his nephew Jacob fled his family after stealing his twin brother’s birthright. Laban gave his nephew refuge in Paddan Aram, and Jacob worked for him for seven years after meeting and falling in love with Laban’s daughter Rachel. The relationship between Laban and his son-in-law soured after a series of frauds which included the switching of brides during Rachel’s supposed wedding night, Laban’s dishonesty in the division of flocks, and changing of Jacob’s wages ten times. Jacob summed up the injustice he experienced with Laban in the passage below.

“I have been with you for twenty years now. Your sheep and goats have not miscarried, nor have I eaten rams from your flocks. I did not bring you animals torn by wild beasts; I bore the loss myself. And you demanded payment from me for whatever was stolen by day or night. This was my situation: The heat consumed me in the daytime and the cold at night, and sleep fled from my eyes. It was like this for the twenty years I was in your household. I worked for you fourteen years for your two daughters and six years for your flocks, and you changed my wages ten times. If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been with me, you would surely have sent me away empty-handed. But God has seen my hardship and the toil of my hands, and last night he rebuked you.” Genesis 31:38-43 NIV

Both, later on, agreed on a covenant and parted on good terms.

References:
Picture By illustrators of the 1728 Figures de la Bible, Gerard Hoet (1648-1733) and others, published by P. de Hondt in The Hague in 1728 – http://www.mythfolklore.net/lahaye/032/LaHaye1728Figures032GenXXXI44-54JacobLabanMakeCovenant.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8479622
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Habakkuk 629 B.C

Habakkuk was a prophet who existed in the Hebrew Bible. He is listed on the Bible Timeline Poster around 629 BC. Very little is known about his life and very little about his life is mentioned in the Bible. What is noteworthy are his works, particularly the book of Habakkuk. The Book of Habakkuk is a short book of the Bible which is attributed to Habakkuk. The book contains five oracles about the Chaldeans which were a small Semitic nation that emerged during the period of the late tenth and early ninth century BC. It also contains a song of praise to God.

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Habakkuk
“Russian icon of the prophet Habakkuk”

The book has been admired by many scholars for its originality and uniqueness. As the book questions the working of God himself. This was extremely bold considering the times and suggests that the man was of great literary talent.

His final resting place is seen to be in dispute as it is claimed to be in multiple locations. Currently, the prophet’s tombs are located in two places; one in Israel and another in a shrine in Persia. There is a feast to celebrate him on the 2nd of January by the orthodox Christians and on the 15th of January by the Roman Catholics and the Greeks.

References:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Habakkuk
http://www.bible-history.com/faussets/H/Habakkuk/
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3379385,00.html
Picture By 18 century icon painter – Iconostasis of Transfiguration church, Kizhi monastery, Karelia, north Russia, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3235522
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Bethuel the Syrian, Rebecca’s Father 1804 BC

Bethuel the Syrian was the father of Laban and more importantly, Rebecca. He is listed on the Biblical Timeline Poster around 1804 BC. Bethuel was also related to Abraham through his parents Nahor and Milcah. Who were Abraham’s brother and niece respectively. Bethuel was the youngest of eight sons which included Uz, Buz, Kemuel, Kesed, Hazo, Pildash, and Jidlaph. He was first mentioned in Genesis 22:22-23.

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Nahor settled in Paddan Aram (also known as Aram-naharaim, in northern Syria and now a site in Altinbasak village in southern Turkey) with his wife Milcah and eight sons which included Bethuel. Bethuel still lived in Paddam Aram when Abraham sent his servant to get a wife from his relatives for Isaac (Genesis 24).

Bethuel
“Isaac’s servant tying the bracelet on Rebecca’s arm”

Abraham’s servant prayed to God for guidance in choosing a suitable wife while resting beside a well just outside of town and saw Rebecca come out to draw water. Rebecca introduced herself as one of Bethuel’s children. He was also present (Genesis 24:50) during the servant’s narration of how Rebecca was chosen to be Isaac’s wife. Isaac and Rebecca were later married, making Bethuel both father-in-law and cousin to Isaac.

Bethuel’s grandson Jacob would come back years later to seek refuge from his brother Esau in his uncle Laban’s home in Paddan Aram. And later to marry two of Bethuel’s granddaughters Leah and Rachel.

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Esau married Judith and Bashmeth, Hittites

Esau is the elder twin brother of Jacob, sons of Isaac and Rebekah.

At the age of 40, he married his first two wives, Judith and Bashemath, who both came from the  Canaanite tribe of the Hittites. This event is listed on the Biblical Timeline Poster around 1829 BC. Judith is the daughter of Beeri the Hittite while Bashemath is the daughter of Elon the Hittite.

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Esau's Wives
“Hittite chariot, from an Egyptian relief”

His union with the two Canaanite women was against the wishes of his parents. Hittite women were considered heathens of Canaan at that time. Which was because of their ungodly ways of idolatry and adultery.

In Genesis 36, Esau’s two Canaanite wives were again mentioned; however, they went with different names from that of the wives referred in Genesis 26 and 28. In this later chapter, his wives were named Adah, the daughter of Elon the Hittite, and Aholibamah, the daughter of Anah, daughter of Zibeon the Hivite. His third wife was called Bashemath, Ishmael’s daughter and Nebajoth’s sister. Scholars have since equated the three wives with those mentioned in earlier chapters.

When Esau saw that his father blessed Jacob, sent him to Paddan Aram to take a wife, and commanded him not to marry any daughter of the degenerate Canaanites, he changed his evil ways. He went to visit his uncle Ishmael and married his cousin, Mahalath, whose name means “forgiveness.” By merit of his latest marriage, God forgave Esau all his sins.

After his father’s death, Esau took his wives, children, servants, and cattle to move away from Jacob and settle at Mount Seir.