• Old Testament

    Ancient Israel’s Calendar and the Bible

    A calendar is a cultural convention of tracking extended time. It is internalized without much thought by a culture, but it is interesting (and important) to note that calendars have changed significantly over time. In fact, it may come as a surprise to some readers that the current calendar that Western nations use is called the Gregorian calendar, which was recently (1582 AD) put into place by Pope Gregory XIII to improve the former Julian calendar, which had been used utilized since the time of domination by the Roman Empire. The Julian calendar, named after Julius Caesar (40s BC), was largely accurate, but was off by about 1 day per…

  • Old Testament

    Who is the Queen of Heaven in Jeremiah?

    Those who are willing to read through the lengthy prophet Jeremiah will come across a phrase which is not mentioned elsewhere—the queen of heaven (cf. Jeremiah 7:18; 44:17-19, 25). Although the Queen of Heaven is mentioned in Catholic writings, it is used there as a reference to Mary, mother of Jesus. Catholics do not wish to equate their usage of “Queen of Heaven” with the book of Jeremiah. However, one cannot miss the subtle irony that the phrase queen of heaven in Jeremiah is a clear reference to idolatry, which is the very same charge leveled against Catholicism and their veneration of Mary. Read More

  • Law,  Old Testament

    The King in Israel: a Contrast with ANE Nations

    Sometimes students of Scripture are surprised to find out that it was always God’s plan for Israel to have a king. God had promised Abraham that “kings shall come from you” (Gen 17:6). God gave a similar promise to Jacob (Gen 35:11). In fact, by the time the Pentateuch wraps up, we are expecting a powerful king who will come from Judah (Gen 49:10; Num 24:17). It should not really be that surprising that Israel would have a king. A king ruling over a kingdom was the default governmental system for the ancient Near East (ANE) nations. But, what is very surprising is the kind of king that Israel was…

  • Old Testament

    Why the Levite Cut Up His Concubine in Judges 19

    The Israelite discovers his concubine, dead on his doorstep – Gustave Doré, Circa 1880 Having recently taught Judges 19 (the story about the Levite and his concubine) to a group of women who were keen to study their Bibles, I was asked afterward why the Levite would cut up his concubine. Further, what was the reason the Levite sent the pieces of the concubine to the other tribes? These are good questions, and after having done a little more research on the issue I wanted to provide some of my thoughts.   Read More

  • Christian Living

    Wisdom in the Bible and the ANE

    Old Testament scholars have noted an interesting overlap in ANE wisdom literature. On the one hand you have a book like Proverbs, which is divinely inspired and a special part of the Canon. But on the other hand you have sources like Amenemope, an Egyptian collection of wisdom sayings, which is polytheistic. Perhaps shockingly some of the statements in the Egyptian wisdom parallel what we would find in Proverbs. Note the following examples. Wealth is Not Everything Better is poverty in the hand of the god, than wealth in the storehouse; Better is bread with a happy heart, than wealth with vexation (Amenemope 9.5-9). Better is a poor man who…