Serge Frolov, «Evil-Merodach and the Deuteronomist: The Sociohistorical
Setting of Dtr in the Light of 2 Kgs 25,27-30», Vol. 88 (2007) 174-190
The article demonstrates that four concluding verses of the Former Prophets (2 Kgs 25,27-30) militate against the recent tendency to view Deuteronomism as a lasting phenomenon, especially against its extension into the late exilic and postexilic periods. Because Evil-Merodach proved an ephemeral and insignificant ruler, the account of Jehoiachin’s release and exaltation under his auspices could be reasonably expected to shore up the notion of an eternal Davidic dynasty only
as long as the Babylonian king remained on the throne (562-560 BCE). Since the dynastic promise to David and associated concepts rank high on Dtr’s agenda, it means that the Former Prophets was not updated along Deuteronomistic lines to
reflect the shift in the audience’s perspective on Evil-Merodach caused by his downfall. If so, there was no Deuteronomistic literary activity in the corpus after
178 Serge Frolov
spared comments of this kind, but what happens to these dynasties fits
in with the general rule.
In sum, if there is any merit to Nothâ€™s Deuteronomistic hypothesis
(and if this is not the case, perhaps all discussions of â€œDtrâ€ or
â€œDeuteronomistic schoolâ€ should be abandoned as meaningless), the
concept of an eternal dynasty founded by David must have been
among the central pillars of Dtrâ€™s agenda (12). Admittedly, certain parts
of the Former Prophets do not seem to share this agenda, in that they
either attack the institution of monarchy as inherently ungodly (e.g., 1
Samuel 8) or portray David as a less-than-model ruler (e.g., 2 Samuel
10-12). However, all these widely scattered, isolated, and self-
contained fragments have been increasingly identified in recent
scholarship as post- and anti-Deuteronomistic (and to somewhat lesser
extent anti-Deuteronomic) interpolations (13).
Dealing exclusively with the fate of the last surviving (although
not the last reigning) Davidic king, 2 Kgs 25,27-30 obviously bears on
the issue of the Davidic promise. Moreover, since the piece concludes
the Former Prophets, its evidence may be decisive as far as the lasting
validity of this promise is concerned. In the last six decades, the intent
of 2 Kgs 25,27-30 has been the subject of massive scholarly scrutiny
that divided most exegetes into two camps. One of them sees the
fragment as â€œthe final nail into the coffinâ€ of Davidâ€™s dynasty, while
(12) On this point, see especially G. VON RAD, Deuteronomium-Studien
(FRLANT 58; GÃ¶ttingen 1947) 59-64. Noth believed that Dtrâ€™s political
philosophy, shaped by the catastrophe of 586 BCE, must have been predo-
minantly anti-monarchic and therefore tried to downplay the discussed tendency,
ascribing it to Dtrâ€™s sources (e.g., Studien, 55-57, 64-65, 91-92). In fact, there is
no reason to assume that pro-monarchic attitude was impossible in an exilic or
post-exilic setting. At the very least, it can be taken for granted that Jehoiachin,
his descendants (who, if Zerubbabelâ€™s prominence in Ezra is any indication,
retained a degree of influence decades after the exile), and his exiled courtiers (2
Kgs 24,14-16) did not have a negative opinion of the institution.
(13) These interpolations may include Judges 19â€“21 (thus C. EDENBURG, The
Story of the Outrage at Gibeah [Judg. 19â€“21]. Composition, Sources and
Historical Context [Unpublished Ph.D. thesis; Tel Aviv 2003]); 1 Samuel 1â€“8 (S.
FROLOV, The Turn of the Cycle. 1 Samuel 1â€“8 in Synchronic and Diachronic
Perspectives [BZAW 342; Berlin 2004]); most of 2 Samuel (J. VAN SETERS, In
Search of History. Historiography in the Ancient World and the Origins of
Biblical History [New Haven 1983] 277-291; FROLOV, â€œSuccession Narrativeâ€,
102-103, limits the putative post-Deuteronomistic contribution in this book to chs.
10-12); and prophetic narratives in Kings (VAN SETERS, Search, 303-306; S.L.
MCKENZIE, The Trouble with Kings. The Composition of the Book of Kings in
the Deuteronomistic History [VTS 42; Leiden 1991] 81-100).