In 1 Maccabees 9 the narrative is transitioning from the death of Judas to the rise of Jonathan, his brother. Judas’ death left the people exposed to Bacchides’ rule, which is described as a time where according to v. 27, “…there was great distress in Israel, such as had not been since the time that prophets ceased to appear among them.”
Interesting line: the prophets ceased to appear among them [Israel]. What does this mean? Does it refer to those who might be seen as prophets during the exile or after the exile? None of the prophets labeled as post-exilic are mentioned (that I recall). In 1 Maccabees 2:60 Daniel is named, though not called a prophet, specifically. Although Antiochus Epiphanes IV committed great sacrilege the author doesn’t seem to be referring to recent events, although those would have been very troubling times for Israel. So when does the author of 1 Maccabees considers the prophets to have stopped appearing? Prior to the exile? If so, what does this say of his view of people who came to be understood as prophets after the exile?
Thanks… yes, interesting. I have to confess to ignorance of the Maccabee lit. But I found some good background history and archaeology in Wm. Dever’s good book, which might have things pertinent here (I can’t recall tho having read most of it fairly recently): “What Did the Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know it?”
See also 1 Macc 4.46; 14.41 for the lack of prophets/prophecy.
I’ve seen Dever’s book here and there. You say it has info on the Maccabees?
I didn’t connect that w. 4:46 and 14:41, but that is very interesting. So 1 Maccabees does seem to advocate the idea that the present period is one without prophets.
Maybe there’s a relationship to Zechariah 13 going on:
2 “And on that day, declares the Lord of hosts, I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, so that they shall be remembered no more. And also I will remove from the land the prophets and the spirit of uncleanness. 3 And if anyone again prophesies, his father and mother who bore him will say to him, ‘You shall not live, for you speak lies in the name of the Lord.’ And his father and mother who bore him shall pierce him through when he prophesies.
4 “On that day every prophet will be ashamed of his vision when he prophesies. He will not put on a hairy cloak in order to deceive, 5 but he will say, ‘I am no prophet, I am a worker of the soil, for a man sold me in my youth.’[a] 6 And if one asks him, ‘What are these wounds on your back?’[b] he will say, ‘The wounds I received in the house of my friends.’
This is a possibility. In Zech. 12 the nations continue to strike at Jerusalem and in 1 Macc. this is an important part of the narrative. The purifying aspect of Zech. 13 also seems to match the message of 1 Macc. That might explain why 1 Macc. 4:46 and 14:41 deny that there are prophets at the present time. Until Jerusalem is cleansed, prophets can only be false prophets. Zech. 14 resumes w. YHWH defending Jerusalem, so there does seem to be parallel themes. Interesting insight!
In the days of Zechariah, as a consequence of the (false) priestly prophets, meaning the chief priests, declaring that Jerusalem would not fall to Babylon God shut the mounts of the prophets until the branch of the root of Jesse would appear. Neither Israel nor Judah would hear directly from God because of the hardness of their hearts.
[Zech 13:2b-5] says it like this “ And also I will remove from the land the prophets and the spirit of uncleanness. And if anyone again prophesies, his father and mother who bore him will say to him, ‘You shall not live, for you speak lies in the name of the LORD.’ And his father and mother who bore him shall pierce him through when he prophesies. “On that day every prophet will be ashamed of his vision when he prophesies. He will not put on a hairy cloak in order to deceive, but he will say, I am no prophet, I am a worker of the soil, for a man sold me in my youth (referencing the House of Joseph).’“.
In addition to the spirit that spoke lies to the King of Judah in the days of Zechariah saying ‘peace, peace’ where there was no peace [Jer 6:14], another benefit in shutting the mouths of the prophets besides punishment was to make way for John the Baptist to declare the coming of the Messiah. Judah had not seen a real prophet in at least 600 or so years, so John the Baptist’s ministry of prophecy followed by Yahshua’s ministry of miracles were hard to refute as being from God ….
The major and minor prophets speak more of this. In part the ‘wise (prophet priests) became foolish, and the foolish (uneducated fishermen) became wise …
God indeed chose the foolish of the word to shame the wise just as he chose the weak to shame the strong .. [1 Cor 1:27]
@Brian: Actually, now that I’ve looked at what I can see via Amazon re. Dever’s book (I don’t own it), it doesn’t appear it probably has much, if anything on the Maccabees, nor probably much on that general period of the revolt against Greece, the Seleucids, etc. The focus of the book is the earlier history of Israel/Judah, the pertinent archaeology (Dever’s discipline, as you may be aware), and how the scholarly fields (his and biblical studies, etc.) have treated study of ancient Israel and its Scriptures. I DO highly recommend it for anyone doing OT and/or general biblical studies and/or history of Israel.
HOWEVER, it is a 2001 publication. As I was reading (most, not all of) it earlier this year, I was wishing I knew of or could easily find an “update” on the scholarship issues he focuses a lot on… he doesn’t seem to have written one himself, tho I think he’s still active in the field…. Correct me if I’m wrong on either count. Actually he probably HAS updated his comments but in scholarly articles not avail. on the Inet (some might be at Westminster in CA, just a couple miles from me, if I care to take the time). All that to say that he focuses a lot on “debunking” the few but prominent revisionists (his term) on the extreme, who got a lot of attention back then anyway, if not still. I.e., those who basically asserted that there is no valid history in the Heb. Scriptures. I liked his perspective and input a lot, in that he at least seemed to have a pretty “neutral”, “just-the-facts” kind of approach… consistent with what else I’ve read him saying in at least one interview, and the high respect he seems to have from most fellow scholars, of various faith persuasions. (He is not a “believer” himself, but unafraid to support “conservative” viewpoints when he finds them factually validated.)
So, unrelated to the Maccabees situation, largely if not fully, I do wonder if you or anyone can point me to a key book or two that would update me on the situation of the latest “camps” and what they are saying, in the archaeology/biblical studies arena as to the history of ancient Israel (and on up through inter-testamental period)…. That is, an overview, not books that get into specifics on various topics (which I know there are tons of).
Unfortunately, I haven’t read much on ancient Israel, so I wouldn’t know of anything. Hopefully someone comes along who can provide a helpful recommendation.
@ Andrew T
You don’t think Daniel was written around the time of the Maccabean Revolt? If not, why not? (Besides the “internal” evidence of setting given by the author, or if that is adequate for you, on what basis?)
Howard, if I were an academic, and so where you, I’d recommend the work of Israel Finkelstein. He seems to be the most vocal septic of our age, and he enjoys fashion within the academics of biblical studies.
Unfortunately, he employs a bit of fallacious logic to derive his conclusions (such as the “absence of evidence (for an Exodus) is ‘evidence of absence‘, so no Exodus happened. However, feel free to ignore this problem with his argument as just about everyone else does. (Oh, and don’t question the correctness of the historical time-line reconstruction he uses for Bronze age, and Iron Age I, II. It makes his theories more more palatable if you don’t …)
Oh and with respect to my belief about the book of Daniel, you have to understand the motivation for giving it a later date.
The argument goes as follows: the narratives in [Dan1-6] could be no earlier than the Hellenistic age (c. 332 B.C.). The four-kingdom outline, explicitly stated in [Dan 2], apparently (to a sceptic) requires a date after the rise of the Grecian Empire. Since there is no explicit reference to Antiochus Epiphanes IV (175-164 B.C.), a Seleucid king clearly under prophetic consideration in [Dan 11], a date in the late third or early second century B.C. is most likely (Collins, 1992a, 2:31; Whitehorne, 1992, 1:270). The precise predictive nature of the book of Daniel about events several hundred years removed from the period in which they were composed is a problem for someone procedurally obliged to the lens of materialism.
However, I am not so obliged, so … no I don’t accept such an early date and recent archaeology has confounded this scepticism. The sheer amount of Daniel fragments found in various caves at/near Qumran, both show this prophetic book was one of the most treasured by that community and that it was not in flux with respect to its final form. Had it been written even 150-200 years early, these fragments would show far more variability than they do, by standards methodologies of document analysis and propagation. Moreso, as a finished document 4QDanc; (Cave 4; Qumran; Danc – one of the Daniel fragments arbitrarily designated “c” to distinguish it from other fragments in the same cave) has been dated to the late second century B.C. (see Hasel, 1992, 5:47).
Accordingly, Daniel would at least have to have been composed before that. Given that it takes time for a document to settle into its finished forum (often assume to be no less than 150 years), that means that even the worst sceptic is now forced to credit Daniel with having been written 4th century ….
Could whatever period indicated by the “time that prophets ceased to appear” be Hebrew hyperbole? In that it expressed the author’s/authors’ distaste for the prophets or pseudo-prophets of any stripe then? Remember “Jacob I loved, Esau I hated”? It meant “I loved Jacob more than Esau”. In the late Second Temple age, if a teacher disagreed with another teacher, one thing commonly said was to the effect that the second teacher was ‘destroying’ Torah. So, could hyperbole play a role regarding “ceased”?
I think the additional references noted by Michael above lead me to think that it was more than hyperbole. There was the expectation of a coming prophet, and this statement suggest that there had been a cessation of prophets, so it would seem to me that the author thought this was a time where there were no prophets in Israel.
Google “1 Macc 4.46”.
@ Andrew T.:
Thanks for the meaty reply re. dating of Daniel; also the ref. to Finkelstein. You put details into the Qumran scrolls info that I’d either not encountered or not recalled (memory ain’t quite what it used to be, tho not bad… as far as I can remember :). Since I’ve not been following much OT scholarship of either “conserv.” or “liberal” sources (or in-between, as I’d consider Dever), I can’t say for sure, but wouldn’t most of the conservative ones NOT want to argue for up to 150 years or so for Heb. biblical texts to have settled into a final form?… That may not be as long as liberals would suggest or argue for on a by-case basis, but even it seems antithetical to their concept of inspiration and reliability of authorship claims (internal) or as traditionally assigned. Somebody like NT Wright I can see accepting it, or maybe Peter Enns, but most of the others? (And those two, particularly Enns it seems, are on the “outs”–literally in his case–with many conservative scholars.)
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