Sunday, January 21, 2007

Jesus and the Restoration of the Davidic Kingdom (1.2. Part 3: Psalms of Solomon)

Another significant witness is the Psalms of Solomon.[1] This book contains strong anti-Hasmonean tendencies, describing the Hasmonean rulers as “sinners” who tried to usurp God’s design, having “despoiled the throne of David with arrogant shouting” (Pss. Sol. 17:4-10).[2] Later, it describes the coming of a Davidic messiah: “See, Lord, and raise up for them their king, the son of David, to rule over your servant Israel in the time known to you, O God” (Pss. Sol. 17:21).

This restoration entails several important elements.[3] First, though the Messiah shall reign, the kingship of God is emphasized, framing the chapter (Pss. of Sol. 17:1, 46). Second, the hope of the Davidic messiah is rooted in God’s sworn oath to David (Pss. of Sol. 17:4; alluding to 2 Sam 7).[4] Third, sinners and Gentiles will be defeated (Pss. of Sol. 17:21-42), though Gentiles will share in the restored kingdom (Pss. Sol. 17:31, 34). Fourth, the Messiah conquers through his holiness, being free from sin (Pss. of Sol. 17:36) and establishing a holy people (Pss. of Sol. 17:26-27, 30, 32, 41, 43). Fifth, this restoration is connected with Jerusalem, which he will cleanse from sin (Pss. of Sol. 17:30). Sixth, the vision describes the restoration of the exiles (Pss. of Sol. 17:31) and the gathering of “the tribes of the people made holy by the Lord,” whom he shall apportion tribal territories for (Pss. of Sol. 17:26, 28).[5] Finally, we should mention that the Messiah is referred to as xristov kuriov. Whether or not this represents a Christian interpolation is a matter of debate. However, Laato makes a convincing case that it is authentic.[6]
[1] For a discussion on the issues regarding the background of this book see R. B. Wright, “Psalms of Solomon” in Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (vol. 2; ed., James Charlesworth; ABRL; New York, N. Y.: Doubleday, 1985), 639-50.
[2] John J. Collins, The Scepter and the Star: The Messiahs of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Other Ancient Literature (ABRL; New York, N. Y.: Doubleday, 1995), 53.
[3] Here we draw from Laato’s analysis, A Star, 281-4.
[4] Collins, The Scepter, 51.
[5] It is not clear the “tribes” refer to the twelve tribes of Israel. However, there is a distinction made between Israel and the “alien and the foreigner” (Pss. of Sol. 17: 28). The chapter also refers to the “good fortune of Israel” (17:44-45). It seems at least possible that the “tribes” could be understood to include the tribes of Israel while also including the presence of other Gentile tribes.
[6] See Laato, A Star, 283-4.

3 comments:

DimBulb said...

Mister Barber,

I believe that this post should be labeled Part 3.

Michael Barber said...

dimbulb,

Thanks--I fixed it.

Michael Barber said...

dimbulb,

Thanks--I fixed it.