Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Eli the priest

Robert, on May 26, 2010 at 8:21 pm Said:

Steven (2) makes some very good points which the determinist Steven[Nemes] completely ignores and refuses to deal with….Steven (2) also makes the biblical point that the parents are not responsible for the sins of their children: each is responsible for his own actions and his own sins. Determinists such as Steven [Nemes] seem to ignore this biblical truth clearly presented by the Ezekiel passage which Steven (2) cites.

1 Sam 2:12-17,27-36

12Now the sons of Eli were worthless men. They did not know the LORD. 13The custom of the priests with the people was that when any man offered sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come, while the meat was boiling, with a three-pronged fork in his hand, 14and he would thrust it into the pan or kettle or cauldron or pot. All that the fork brought up the priest would take for himself. This is what they did at Shiloh to all the Israelites who came there. 15Moreover, before the fat was burned, the priest’s servant would come and say to the man who was sacrificing, "Give meat for the priest to roast, for he will not accept boiled meat from you but only raw." 16And if the man said to him, "Let them burn the fat first, and then take as much as you wish," he would say, "No, you must give it now, and if not, I will take it by force." 17Thus the sin of the young men was very great in the sight of the LORD, for the men treated the offering of the LORD with contempt.

27And there came a man of God to Eli and said to him, "Thus the LORD has said, 'Did I indeed reveal myself to the house of your father when they were in Egypt subject to the house of Pharaoh? 28 Did I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to go up to my altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before me? I gave to the house of your father all my offerings by fire from the people of Israel. 29Why then do you scorn my sacrifices and my offerings that I commanded, and honor your sons above me by fattening yourselves on the choicest parts of every offering of my people Israel?' 30Therefore the LORD, the God of Israel, declares: 'I promised that your house and the house of your father should go in and out before me forever,' but now the LORD declares: 'Far be it from me, for those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed. 31Behold, the days are coming when I will cut off your strength and the strength of your father’s house, so that there will not be an old man in your house. 32Then in distress you will look with envious eye on all the prosperity that shall be bestowed on Israel, and there shall not be an old man in your house forever. 33The only one of you whom I shall not cut off from my altar shall be spared to weep his eyes out to grieve his heart, and all the descendants of your house shall die by the sword of men. 34 And this that shall come upon your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, shall be the sign to you: both of them shall die on the same day. 35 And I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who shall do according to what is in my heart and in my mind. And I will build him a sure house, and he shall go in and out before my anointed forever. 36And everyone who is left in your house shall come to implore him for a piece of silver or a loaf of bread and shall say, "Please put me in one of the priests’ places, that I may eat a morsel of bread.'"


  1. Unfortunately, to defend libertarianism, it appears that Robert (and "Steven2") is forced to ignore some key doctrines of the Bible. If everyone pays for their own sins then notice what this does to the doctrine of original sin and Christ's imputed righteousness. I leave the rhetorical force to linger in the air.

  2. cont.

    Second, the verses for individual responsibility are usually pulled out of context. Daniel Block has written what some have referred to the best book on the Old Testament; his commentary on Ezekiel. Block notes about Robert'/Steven's R&S type of argument,

    “For more than a century this chapter has provided the primary basis for the widely held notion that one - perhaps the most - important contribution made by Ezekiel to Israelite theology was his doctrine of individual responsibility. Prior to this time sin and judgment were supposed to have been dealt with by Yahweh on a corporate basis.”

    So we can see that R&S's interpretation is simply keeping in step with some standard views on the claim by Jehovah made in both Jeremiah and Ezekiel. It is not disputed that they are referring to the exact same proverb. Therefore, any answer applicable to Ezekiel is likewise applicable to Jeremiah as well. Block goes on to note that,

    “In recent years, however, scholars have largely abandoned this view. Not only is the individualism reflected in this chapter [Ezekiel 18] evident in texts much earlier than Ezekiel; the corporate emphasis of earlier writings is never abandoned in favor of strict individualism. Furthermore, individual responsibility is much more muted here than has previously been supposed. Indeed, the aim of this dispute in the transformation of the corporate body, specifically the exilic community. These are the children whose ‘teeth are set on edge’ (v. 2). This corporate focus is highlighted by early references to Israel (vv. 2, 3) and repetitious later identification of the addresses as ‘the house of Israel’ (vv. 25, 29-31; cf. also vv. 6, 15). The call to repentance is issued to the community as a whole. To identify a new doctrine of individualism as the principle agenda of the chapter is to confuse subject with theme.”

    Block notes that this was a “pithy saying” that operated in both the ancient Near East as well as Israel. R&S’s interpretation suffers from a few problems. First, this saying was a secular proverb. Block says that Ezekiel quotes the proverb correctly (Jeremiah was trying to highlight the anteriority of the father’s actions, hence his use of the perfect verb, akelu). The non-perfect use of the verb represents “true proverbial style” (Block, 560). It also “expresses belief in an inevitable and uncontrollable determinism. This is how things are; one can do nothing to change it” (Block, 560).

    Second, in ch. 16 Ezekiel does quote cause-effect relationship between generations, but this is just to establish that personality traits are passed on from one generation to the next.

    Third, why, if this challenge by the people is intended to mock previous ways God has dealt with his people, why was the point made so “obliquely?” (Block, 560). Indeed, Ezekiel’s audience makes direct charges against God in this very chapter (v. 25).

    And, fourth, since the Israelites ask why God should not punish people for the sins of their fathers in v. 19, then the traditional interpretation has a built in contradiction to it. Supposedly, in v. 2 the people reject the traditional theology, and then in v. 19 they ask for it to be implemented!

    So, Block concludes that, “the problem the proverb poses for Ezekiel is not with punishment that children are bearing for the sins of the fathers, or even the issue of theodicy. On the contrary, it reflects a materialistic fatalism, a resignation of immutable cosmic rules of cause and effect. … To the extent that the charge concerns God at all, it accuses Him of disinterest or impotence in the face of the exiles’ current crisis” (Block, 561).

    The response to the Israelites is an extended theology on the involvement and immanency of God. Jehovah responds by claiming that he is Lord over all life. Jewish as well as Gentile. Theocentrism is taught and fatalism repudiated. Their fate, as is the fate of every man, is in the hands of a personal God, not impersonal fates.

  3. Hah!

    PM: "...Their fate, as is the fate of every man, is in the hands of a personal God, not impersonal fates."

    No, no I am not, no, no I am not; "knock" "knock", "who's there?" Death!

    Job 18:5 "Indeed, the light of the wicked is put out, and the flame of his fire does not shine.
    Job 18:6 The light is dark in his tent, and his lamp above him is put out.
    Job 18:7 His strong steps are shortened, and his own schemes throw him down.
    Job 18:8 For he is cast into a net by his own feet, and he walks on its mesh.
    Job 18:9 A trap seizes him by the heel; a snare lays hold of him.
    Job 18:10 A rope is hidden for him in the ground, a trap for him in the path.
    Job 18:11 Terrors frighten him on every side, and chase him at his heels.
    Job 18:12 His strength is famished, and calamity is ready for his stumbling.
    Job 18:13 It consumes the parts of his skin; the firstborn of death consumes his limbs.
    Job 18:14 He is torn from the tent in which he trusted and is brought to the king of terrors.
    Job 18:15 In his tent dwells that which is none of his; sulfur is scattered over his habitation.
    Job 18:16 His roots dry up beneath, and his branches wither above.
    Job 18:17 His memory perishes from the earth, and he has no name in the street.
    Job 18:18 He is thrust from light into darkness, and driven out of the world.
    Job 18:19 He has no posterity or progeny among his people, and no survivor where he used to live.
    Job 18:20 They of the west are appalled at his day, and horror seizes them of the east.
    Job 18:21 Surely such are the dwellings of the unrighteous, such is the place of him who knows not God."