Friday, November 6, 2009

The Deuteronomists

"Finally, the Deuteronomists stripped the king of his traditional powers. He was no longer a sacred figure. In an astonishing departure from Near Eastern custom, the Deuteronomists drastically limited the sovereign's prerogatives. His only duty was to read the written torah, 'diligently observing all the words of this law and these statutes, neither exalting himself above other members of the community nor turning aside from the commandments, either to the right or the left, so that he and his descendants may reign long over his kingdom in Israel.' The king was no longer the son of God, the special servant of Yahweh, or a member of the divine council. He had no special privileges but, like his people, was subject to the law. How could the Deuteronomists justify these changes, which overturned centuries of sacred tradition? We do not know exactly who the Deuteronomists were. The story of the discovery of the scroll suggests that they included priests, prophets, and scribes. Their movement could have originated in the northern kingdom and come south to Judah after the destruction of the kingdom of Israel in 722. They may also reflect the views of the disenfrancised am ha-aretz, who had put Josiah on the throne."

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