Koog P. Hong, «The Deceptive Pen of Scribes: Judean Reworking of the Bethel Tradition as a Program for Assuming Israelite Identity.», Vol. 92 (2011) 427-441
Nadav Na’aman has recently proposed that the Judean appropriation of Israel’s identity occurred as a result of the struggle for the patrimony of ancient Israel. This paper locates textual evidence for such a struggle in the Judean reworking of the Jacob tradition, particularly the Bethel account (Gen 28,10- 22), and argues that taking over the northern Israelite shrine myth after the fall of northern Israel was part of the ongoing Judean reconceptualization of their identity as «Israel» that continued to be developed afterwards.
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428 KOOG P. HONG
severely criticized by Naâ€™aman in another article 5. The second proposed
solution is Daviesâ€™s recent argument for the fifth-century origins of Judean
assumption of Israelite identity and is based largely on the intermediary role
that the Benjaminites played as a result of their unique dual membership in
Israel and Judah 6. When Judeans returned to Jerusalem, they had to
negotiate with the already established â€œmemoryâ€ 7 of the Benjaminites, who
had taken control of the land after the fall of Jerusalem 8. Naâ€™aman rejects
not only this role for the Benjaminites 9 but also the late origin of Judean
assumption of Israelite identity 10.
Dissatisfied with existing solutions, Naâ€™aman took up Machinistâ€™s classic
argument that â€œliterature is essentially a political act, created to explain and
justify major political and cultural shiftsâ€ and freshly applies it to Josiahâ€™s
program of northern expansion â€” Machinist, on the other hand, applied it
to the time of David and Solomon 11. That is, when Assyria managed to
overcome Babylonia through military prowess, it employed a number of
typical strategies for legitimating conquest. Assyrians moved the statue of
Marduk to Ashur and celebrated a major religious festival in Ashur, actions
that were both conscious attempts to shift the Mesopotamian cultural center
to Assyria. They also transported Babylonâ€™s large literary collection to
N. NAâ€™AMAN, â€œWhen and How Did Jerusalem Become a Great City? The
Rise of Jerusalem as Judahâ€™s Premier City in the Eighth-Seventh Centuries
B.C.E.â€, BASOR 347 (2007) 21-56. For similar critiques, see DAVIES, Origins,
20-22; and E.A. KNAUF, â€œBethel: The Israelite Impact on Judean Language
and Literatureâ€, Judah and the Judeans in the Persian Period (eds. O.
LIPSCHITS â€“ M. OEMING) (Winona Lake, IN 2006) 293-295.
Cf. Y. LEVIN, â€œJoseph, Judah and the â€˜Benjamin Conundrumâ€™â€, ZAW
116 (2004) 223-41.
One of the main methods on which Davies relies is the idea of â€œcultural
memoryâ€. See DAVIES, Origins, 30-35. See also M. SMITH. The Memoirs of
God. History, Memory, and the Experience of the Divine in Ancient Israel
(Minneapolis, MN 2004).
DAVIES, Origins, 173. Daviesâ€™s view on the role of Bethel in the neo-
Babylonian and Persian periods is based on his critical reading of Jeremiah
40-41 and recent scholarship that highlights the renewed significance of this
ancient shrine after the fall of Jerusalem. For a broader discussion on the issue,
see O. LIPSCHITS â€“ J. BLENKINSOPP (eds.), Judah and the Judeans in the Neo-
Babylonian Period (Winona Lake, IN 2003); and O. LIPSCHITS â€“ M. OEMING
(eds.), Judah and the Judeans in the Persian Period (Winona Lake, IN 2006).
For his critique of the Benjamin hypothesis, see N. NAâ€™AMAN, â€œSaul,
Benjamin and the Emergence of â€˜Biblical Israelâ€™â€, ZAW 121 (2009) 211-224,
335-349; Id., â€œPatrimonyâ€, 4-5.
NAâ€™AMAN, â€œPatrimonyâ€, 5-6.
P. MACHINIST, â€œLiterature as Politics: The Tukulti-Ninurta Epic and the
Bibleâ€, CBQ 38 (1976) 455-482. The quotation is from 478.