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  •  Still and All - - (1+ / 0-)
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    blue aardvark

    I think it's fair to say that most prophets functioned on the fringes of their society, seemingly being crackpots and tinfoil types. It's only in retrospect that they were seen as accurate prognosticators.

    John the Baptist was decapitated, too. By someone who he had condemned, IIRC. (Sorry, a wee bit rusty on my Bible stories.) I guess the powerful simply cannot take criticism in the least, but truth will out in the end. (Small comfort to John, though.)

    •  One of the Herods (1+ / 0-)
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      He had criticized him for marrying his brother's widow.

      In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; but in practice, there always is a difference. - Yogi Berra

      by blue aardvark on Mon Jul 18, 2011 at 11:36:24 AM PDT

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    •  Don't assume the prophets were loners. (1+ / 0-)
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      They had groups, communities and repositories of scrolls, etc. and traditions that lived outside the main cities.  Having such sanctuary was helpful in surviving the changes of kingdoms, invasions and enduring vassal state status, revolts, changes of royal succession, etc.  Yet they were still close enough they could trek in to deliver "the burden of the LORD concerning..." as needed or be sought out for guidance by those seeking God's assistance.  You can read in II Kings of several instances of groups of prophets having a place in the life of Israel's regions.  And they did preserve stories with endings showing it is bad to mess with the prophets.  

      One story (II Kings 2) of Elisha would be "frightening" to Stephen Colbert and would likely offend modern sensibilities about God's attitude toward often impudent young people.  You'll read that there was 50 prophets who came out for Elijah's ascension, along with Elisha son of Shaphat (aka Elijah's assistant...for years after). Elisha called out Elijah and Elijah took Elisha across the Jordan river with him, after spanking the river with his cloak, and after Elijah got his firey chariot ride up, Elisha spanked the Jordan, it divided and he came back across and started his miracles and prophecies.  

      After that, Elisha was feeling pretty good after miracle number one, having just purified the waters of Jericho which was causing death and miscarriages, with a bowl of salt and the hand of God.  He then headed towards Bethel but encountered a gang of 40 teens who rudely accosted him, teasing him for his mangy baldness (some may recall long lush hair is a sign of God's favor) and clamored for him to rise into the sky (like his predecessor Elijah, whose prophetic mantle was known to have passed to Elisha by miracle), saying, "Go up, you bald head, go up!"  It was obviously a very bad idea on their part. First, Elisha wasn't ready to go, he was just getting started, and nobody there would have been a worthy successor anyway.  Understandably, Elisha snapped--we all know how frustrating dealing with teens can be, especially in large peer groups intent on making life miserable for some adult. Elisha prophesied a double-portioned curse upon them, which apparently brought forth two very hairy she-bears from the woods who rose up and killed them all.  No jokes about God's SWAT team please.  

      We can admit Elisha wasn't cut out to be a youth minister, but his double-portion of the Spirit of Elijah did make him far more edgy and his messages were indeed intended for adults, although he often did wait for an invitation or was visited.  I wish we could know if these 40 teens perhaps young prophets in training who really, really should have known better?   Anyway, after that smack-down of impudence, it seems Elisha laid low for about 10 to 12 years, until someone in the royal court remembered he was around during a time of brewing war with Moab. It was so serious the 3 kings of Israel's regions decided to visit Elisha together...hmmm 3 kings...  Elisha asked why they didn't seek out their friendly neighborhood prophets and diss'ed King Jehosephat.  They entreated him for help, so Elisha requested a harpist for musical accompianment, and after his words, issuing military guidance for various clever and brave deeds, etc. the King of Moab was beaten back to his city walls by the 3 armies...although not quite defeated due to an unexpected glitch in morale due to the Moab king sacrificing his first born son.

      It's also interesting that in II Kings 5 we see that the LORD helped the king of Syria prevail in his battles (so much the kings of Israel were afraid), via his commander the leper Naaman, but Elisha used his healing (7 dips in the river Jordan) to send a sign--making clear which God they should worship and Which God was blessing them.  Apparently, being God's chosen people doesn't necessarily mean being the strongest, mightiest, most formidable and successful military force, or the only ones God blesses in battle.  

      Although, later, when Syria's king started war with Israel and was failing due to Elisha's military intel, the king sent his charioteers after Elisha.  But Elisha uses what seems like Jedi mind tricks to make the scarry charioteers (who were trying to find and kill him) blind and lost, and to trust him. He then guided them inside the gates of the king of Samaria's city (a well-armed stronghold in Israel) whereupon Elisha opened their eyes to that terrifying surprise, but he then asked the king that the warriors be given a feast, and then allowed home. After that, well, the Syrians stopped attacking Israel.  A very interesting way to solve a military crisis without injuring any of God's chosen sets of warriors.  Have to imagine some daring missionary prophet group going off to hang out in Syria after that.

      When life gives you wingnuts, make wingnut butter!

      by antirove on Mon Jul 18, 2011 at 01:44:57 PM PDT

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