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以斯帖记 - 一个看不见神的世代

第十二课 - 第二幕(一) - 哈曼阴谋除灭犹大人

经文:斯二:19 - 三:6

主旨: 末底改破坏了暗杀亚哈随鲁王的阴谋,虽然名字被记录在史册,但没有获得奖赏;亚甲族人哈曼得晋升,因末底改不肯跪拜他而怒火中烧,开始设计要灭绝犹大族。

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1。斯二:19 - 23  “19第二次招聚处女的时候,末底改(Mordecai)坐在朝门。20以斯帖(Esther)照着末底改所嘱咐的,还没有将籍贯宗族告诉人,因为以斯帖遵末底改的命,如抚养她的时候一样。21当那时候,末底改坐在朝门,王的太监中有两个守门的辟探(Bigthan)和提列(Teresh),恼恨亚哈随鲁王(Ahasuerus 或薛西一世 Xerxes I,486BC-465BC),想要下手害他。22末底改知道了,就告诉王后以斯帖。以斯帖奉末底改的名,报告于王。23究察这事,果然是实,就把二人挂在木头上,将这事在王面前写于历史上。”

《新译本》:19第二次召集处女的时候,末底改坐在朝门那里。20以斯帖照着末底改吩咐她的,没有把自己的身世和种族告诉人;末底改所说的话,以斯帖都遵行,就像昔日养育她的时候一样。21那时,末底改坐在朝门那里,王有两个守门的太监:辟探和提列,一时因为恼怒,正想下手害亚哈随鲁王。22这阴谋给末底改知道了,他就告诉王后以斯帖;以斯帖便以末底改的名义对王说起这事。23那阴谋查究起来,就发现真相;于是把二人悬挂在木架上。这事在王面前曾写于史记。

KJV:19 And when the virgins were gathered together the second time, then Mordecai sat in the king's gate. 20 Esther had not yet shewed her kindred nor her people; as Mordecai had charged her: for Esther did the commandment of Mordecai, like as when she was brought up with him. 21 In those days, while Mordecai sat in the king's gate, two of the king's chamberlains, Bigthan and Teresh, of those which kept the door, were wroth, and sought to lay hand on the king Ahasuerus. 22 And the thing was known to Mordecai, who told it unto Esther the queen; and Esther certified the king thereof in Mordecai's name. 23 And when inquisition was made of the matter, it was found out; therefore they were both hanged on a tree: and it was written in the book of the chronicles before the king.


“第二次招聚处女的时候,末底改(Mordecai)坐在朝门。”  --  我们不知道“第二次招聚处女”指的是什么时候,总之这是发生在以斯帖被立为王后之后。

“末底改(Mordecai)坐在朝门”  --  《以斯帖记》有很多次提到“朝门”(gate house) :

斯二:19,21  第二次招聚处女的时候,末底改坐在朝门。。。当那时候,末底改坐在朝门,王的太监中有两个守门的辟探和提列,恼恨亚哈随鲁王,想要下手害他。

斯三:2,3  在朝门的一切臣仆,都跪拜哈曼,因为王如此吩咐;惟独末底改不跪不拜。在朝门的臣仆问末底改说:“你为何违背王的命令呢?”

斯四:2,6  到了朝门前停住脚步,因为穿麻衣的不可进朝门。。。于是,哈他革出到朝门前的宽阔处见末底改。

斯五:9  那日,哈曼心中快乐,欢欢喜喜地出来,但见末底改在朝门不站起来,连身也不动,就满心恼怒末底改。

斯五:13  只是我见犹大人末底改坐在朝门,虽有这一切荣耀,也与我无益。

斯六:10,12  王对哈曼说:“你速速将这衣服和马,照你所说的,向坐在朝门的犹大人末底改去行。凡你所说的,一样不可缺。”。。末底改仍回到朝门;哈曼却忧忧闷闷地蒙着头,急忙回家去了。。

朝门(gate house)在哪里?请看第七课。它在王宫以北80米,有通道连接正宫;朝门 40米X28米,占约 1200方米面积;朝门中房是 21米正方形,四角有 12-13米的高柱。末底改能坐在朝门显示他在宫中不是一个小官。

“以斯帖(Esther)照着末底改所嘱咐的,还没有将籍贯宗族告诉人,因为以斯帖遵末底改的命,如抚养她的时候一样。”  --  我在上一课已经解释,这里不再重复。

“当那时候,末底改坐在朝门,王的太监中有两个守门的辟探(Bigthan)和提列(Teresh),恼恨亚哈随鲁王(Ahasuerus 或薛西一世 Xerxes I,486BC-465BC),想要下手害他。末底改知道了,就告诉王后以斯帖。以斯帖奉末底改的名,报告于王。究察这事,果然是实,就把二人挂在木头上,将这事在王面前写于历史上。”  --  暗杀帝王,或暗杀总理等事件古今中外都有,不足为怪;只是圣经没有告诉我们何以“王的太监中有两个守门的辟探(Bigthan)和提列(Teresh),恼恨亚哈随鲁王。。”要下手害他。这里再次让我们看到上帝那只看不见的手所安排的两件事:

一、“当那时候,末底改坐在朝门。。”--  暗杀计划进行时,末底改正好坐在朝门。

二、“末底改知道了,就告诉王后以斯帖。以斯帖奉末底改的名,报告于王。究察这事,果然是实,就把二人挂在木头上,将这事在王面前写于历史上。”  --  暗杀计划被揭露,按常理末底改应得到王的奖赏,史学家希罗多德(Herodotus, 484-425BC)说波斯王宫的档案之中有一份“功臣”(英文 benefactors,希腊文 orosanges)的名单。这次末底改没有获得奖赏,只是名字被记在编年史里,是上帝特意为后来要拯救犹大人所埋下的伏笔(斯六:1-3)。


2。斯三:1 - 6  “1这事以后,亚哈随鲁王(Ahasuerus 或薛西一世 Xerxes I,486BC-465BC)抬举亚甲族(Agagite)哈米大他(Hammedatha)的儿子哈曼(Haman),使他高升,叫他的爵位超过与他同事的一切臣宰。2在朝门的一切臣仆,都跪拜哈曼,因为王如此吩咐;惟独末底改(Mordecai)不跪不拜。3在朝门的臣仆问末底改说:‘你为何违背王的命令呢?’4他们天天劝他,他还是不听。他们就告诉哈曼,要看末底改的事站得住站不住,因他已经告诉他们自己是犹大人。5哈曼见末底改不跪不拜,他就怒气填胸。6他们已将末底改的本族告诉哈曼。他以为下手害末底改一人是小事,就要灭绝亚哈随鲁王通国所有的犹大人,就是末底改的本族。”

《新译本》:1这事以后,亚哈随鲁王使亚甲族哈米大他的儿子晋升;王提拔他,使他的地位高过所有与他在一起的大臣。2在朝门那里,王的所有臣仆,都向哈曼屈身下拜,因为王曾经这样吩咐;只有末底改不跪,也不拜。3于是在朝门的臣仆问末底改:“你为甚么违背王的命令呢?”4他们天天劝他,他还是不听,他们就告诉哈曼,要看看末底改的话是不是坚持到底,因为他已经告诉他们,他自己是犹太人。5哈曼见末底改不向他屈身下拜,就非常忿怒。6他以为只下手对付末底改一人还是小事,因为有人把末底改的本族告诉了哈曼;所以哈曼设法要把亚哈随鲁王全国所有的犹太人,与末底改一起消灭。

KIV:1 After these things did king Ahasuerus promote Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him, and set his seat above all the princes that were with him. 2 And all the king's servants, that were in the king's gate, bowed, and reverenced Haman: for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence. 3 Then the king's servants, which were in the king's gate, said unto Mordecai, Why transgressest thou the king's commandment? 4 Now it came to pass, when they spake daily unto him, and he hearkened not unto them, that they told Haman, to see whether Mordecai's matters would stand: for he had told them that he was a Jew. 5 And when Haman saw that Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence, then was Haman full of wrath. 6 And he thought scorn to lay hands on Mordecai alone; for they had shewed him the people of Mordecai: wherefore Haman sought to destroy all the Jews that were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus, even the people of Mordecai.


“这事以后,亚哈随鲁王(Ahasuerus 或薛西一世 Xerxes I,486BC-465BC)抬举亚甲族(Agagite)哈米大他(Hammedatha)的儿子哈曼(Haman),使他高升,叫他的爵位超过与他同事的一切臣宰。”  --  恶人终于上场了,他就是亚甲族(Agagite)人哈曼(Haman)。我在第十课已经介绍了亚甲族,说:

。。《以斯帖记》里的高官哈曼是亚甲族人(Agagite),是亚玛力人(Amalekites)的后裔,并不是波斯人。犹太人和亚玛力人是世仇,在出埃及的时候,他们是第一个上来在利非订(Rephidim)和以色列人争战(出十七:8)的敌人。耶和华对摩西说:“我要将亚玛力的名号从天下全然涂抹了,你要将这话写在书上作纪念,又念给约书亚听。。。又说:‘耶和华已经起了誓,必世世代代和亚玛力人争战。’”(出十七:14,16)摩西也不忘提醒出埃及的第二代以色列人,“你要记念你们出埃及的时候,亚玛力人在路上怎样待你。。。所以,耶和华你上帝使你不被四围一切的仇敌扰乱,在耶和华你上帝赐你为业的地上得享平安。那时,你要将亚玛力的名号从天下涂抹了,不可忘记。”(申二十五:17,19)在扫罗时代,万军之耶和华吩咐撒母耳对扫罗说:“以色列人出埃及的时候,在路上亚玛力人怎样待他们,怎样抵挡他们,我都没忘。现在你要去击打亚玛力人,灭尽他们所有的,不可怜惜他们,将男女、孩童、吃奶的,并牛、羊、骆驼和驴尽行杀死。。。”(撒上十五:2-3)扫罗却怜惜亚甲,也爱惜上好的牛、羊,不肯灭绝,结果被上帝所废。。(撒上十五:9)亚甲族人哈曼就是这样得以存活至波斯时代。。。(完)

亚甲族人哈曼怎么会在书珊城(Susa)呢?从下文斯五:10 我们知道他的妻子是细利斯(Zeresh),这个名字似乎源自以拦女神 Zarisha 的名字。书珊城是过去以拦帝国的首都,肯定有很多以拦人,哈曼来到这里与以拦女子细利斯结婚,定居下来,不足为奇。

现在亚哈随鲁王使亚甲族人哈曼晋升,地位高过所有与他在一起的大臣,应该是宰相吧。我们不知道王为什么会提拔亚甲,从下文斯三:9 说亚甲捐一万他连得(talents,等于 10,000X30= 300,000公斤或 300吨!)银子交给掌管国库的人,可见他是一个大财主。从历史的记载,亚哈随鲁王与希腊长期交战中惨败(看第四课),国库肯定损失惨重,哈曼提议捐如此庞大银钱入库,必能讨好王的心。总之,恶人当道,国家肯定就会被弄得昏乱无道。

“在朝门的一切臣仆,都跪拜哈曼,因为王如此吩咐;惟独末底改(Mordecai)不跪不拜。在朝门的臣仆问末底改说:‘你为何违背王的命令呢?’他们天天劝他,他还是不听。他们就告诉哈曼,要看末底改的事站得住站不住,因他已经告诉他们自己是犹大人。”  --  哈曼得晋升高位,王还命令人要跪拜他。这样一个重要人物,经外文献有记载吗? 没有。瓦实提、以斯帖、末底改在经外文献至少还有迹可循,但哈曼却没有,所以一些学者就抓住这点说《以斯帖记》是捏造的故事。不久之前,我买了一本新书《Ancient Israel - From Abraham to the Roman Destruction of the Temple》(Third Edition,Edited by Hershel Shanks,Co-Published by The Biblical Archaeology Society,2011)。在第一章 The Patriarchal Age - Abraham, Isaac and Jacob , 作者 P Kyle McCarter, JR 是 W F Albright Professor of Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies at the Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore, Maryland,而且还是 American Schools of Oriental Research 的前会长,他竟然把《创世记》第十二章至五十章肢解得体无完肤,说亚伯拉罕、以撒、雅各和孩子们都是虚构人物,他们的故事是亡国后的以色列人从不同的传说编造而成。我把其中一段放在这里,真会叫你读得“胆战心惊”。。 这些学者完全藐视圣经的权威,他们应该听听传道者的劝戒:(传十二:12-13)

12我儿,还有一层,你当受劝戒:著书多,没有穷尽;读书多,身体疲倦。
13这些事都已听见了,总意就是敬畏上帝,谨守他的诫命,这是人所当尽的本分。

 


Abraham

....His name (in contrast to those of Isaac, Jacob, Israel and Joseph) appears only as a personal name in the Bible, never as a tribal or local designation. Thus it seems fairly certain that he was not an eponymous ancestor. He may have been a historical individual before he became a figure of tradition and legend. If so, however, it seems impossible to determine the period in which he lived. "Abram," at least in the form "Abiram," is a very common type of name, known in all periods. It is especially well attested in the Late Bronze Age ( 1550-1200 B.C.E. ) , though this may be no more than a coincidence. The variants "Abram" and " Abraham" arose in different languages and dialects.

Nor can we determine whether any of the biblical stories told about Abraham has a historical basis. The claim that Abraham came to Canaan from Mesopotamia is not historically implausible. Such a journey could have taken place in more than one historical period. As we have seen, however, the insistence that the Israelites were not Canaanite in origin was so pervasive that the belief that the first patriarch came from a foreign land could have arisen as part of the ethnic boundary-marking that characterized the development of the tradition. Still, the connections between the family of Abraham and the city of Haran in northern Mesopotamia (Eski Harran or "Old Haran" in modern Turkey) are very precise in our earliest narrative source ( J, or the Yahwist). Terah, Nahor and Serug -- Abraham's father, grandfather and great-grandfather (Genesis 11:22-26) -- seem to be the eponymous ancestors of towns in the basin of the Balikh River, near Haran. All three names appear in Assyrian texts from the, first half of the first millennium B.C.E. as the names of towns or ruined towns in the region of Haran, namely, Til-(sha)-Turakhi (the ruin of Turakh), Til-Nakhiri (the ruin of Nakhir) and Sarugi. Earlier, in the second millennium B.C.E., Til-Nakhiri had been an important administrative center, called Nakhuru. The patriarchal connection with this region may be rooted in historical memories of Amorite culture of the second millennium B.C.E.

Abraham is represented as the founder of religious sites in the regions of Shechem (Genesis 12:7), Bethel/Ai (Genesis 12:8, see also 13:4), Hebron (Genesis 13:18), Mount Moriah (Genesis 22:2) and Beersheba (Genesis 21: 33) . As Benjamin Mazar has noted, all these sites lie within the boundaries of early Israelite settlement in Iron Age I ( 1200-1000 B.C.E. ). These stories present Abraham as the founder of major cultic sites both in Manasseh- Ephraim and in Judah, the dominant tribes of the north and south. Here we see Abraham functioning as the founder of a common social and religious identity, uniting northern and southern tribes. 「notes: Amos's references to Beersheba (in the south) as a pilgrimage shrine for northerners (Amos 5:5, 8:14) is consistent with the connection between Abraham and Beersheba in the E source, and must derive from some prior northern religious association with Beersheba. In the J source, Abraham's southerly home is Hebron, not Beersheba (which is founded by Isaac in J), an address that points to Hebron's importance in Judah in the Davidic period (2 Samuel 5:1-5, 15:7-10). 」

The earliest reference to Abraham may be the name of a town in the Negev listed in a victory inscription of Pharaoh Shishak I (biblical Sheshonk). The campaign occurred in about 925 B.C.E. during the reign of Rehoboam ( 1 Kings 14:25-26; 2 Chronicles 12:2-12 ). A place-name in the Negev section of the inscription is pa'ha-q-ru-'a 'i-bi-ra-ma, which is best read "the fortification of Abram" or, more simply, "Fort Abram." The location and chrono- logical context of this site make it plausible that the Abram after whom the site was named was the Abram of biblical tradition. Although we cannot be certain of this identification, the place name probably indicates the presence and importance of the Abram/ Abraham tradition in the tenth century B.C.E.

 
Isaac

The biblical Isaac has clear geographical associations with the northern Negev, and particularly the oases of Beersheba and Beer-lahai-roi ( Genesis 24:62, 25: 11, 26:32-33 ). The archaeological record indicates that this area was not settled before the end of the Late Bronze Age. Expansion into the Negev from the north began no earlier than the latter part of the 13th century B.C.E. Archaeological excavations at Beersheba have shown that a deep well associated with the sanctuary was dug at about this time. Apparently, this is the well mentioned in Genesis 21:25 and 26:25. The settlement of the Negev spread southward and was complete by the 11th century. This shows that the attachment of the patriarchal tradition to the Beersheba region cannot have preceded the 12th century and, in fact, may have occurred later as a part of the southern development of the tradition in the time of David and Solomon.

As we have noted, "Isaac" is structurally suitable as a personal, tribal or geographical name. We might expect the meaning of the name to indicate which of these possibilities is most likely. Though it is unattested outside the Bible, we assume that "Isaac" is a shortened form of a name like "Isaac-El," which may mean "May [the god] El smile," that is, "May El look favorably upon." If this is correct, the name then seems equally acceptable as the designation of an individual, group or place. In referring to the northern kingdom in the eighth century, moreover, Amos twice uses the name Isaac as parallel to Israel (Amos 7:9, 16). This usage must reflect a recollection of the name Isaac as a designation for the northern tribal region. In this light, it is intriguing to note that J depicts Isaac as the founder of the religious site at Beersheba ( Genesis 26:23, 25), a southern shrine to which northerners made pilgrimage (Amos 5:5, 8:14).


Jacob

According to Genesis, the events of Jacob's birth and childhood take place at Beersheba, Isaac's home; but after returning from Haran, Jacob lives in the region of Shechem in the central hill country. He is the founder of the religious site of Bethel (Genesis 28:10-22, 35:1-15), and like Abraham he builds an altar at Shechem ( Genesis 33: 18-20 ) .Both sites are in the north. It is not surprising that Jacob dwells in the central hill country, since at this point Jacob is Israel. The historical association of Israel with the central hills was strong, as its persistence during the time of David and beyond shows. In contrast to Abraham and Isaac, therefore, Jacob was never thought of in close association with the southern part of the country.

It is generally agreed that the biblical name "Jacob" is a shortened form of "Jacob-El" or something very similar. An early form of "Jacob," constructed with "El" or another divine name, was a common West Semitic personal name of the Middle Bronze Age and the Hyksos period, when Egypt was ruled by Asiatic princes (c. 1675-1552 B.C.E.). It is also attested at Ugarit (in Syria) in the Late Bronze Age. But it does not appear again (outside of the biblical patriarchal narratives) until the Persian period. "Jacob-El," however, was also a Late Bronze Age place-name. It occurs in lists of enemies conquered by Tuthmosis III (c. 1479-1425 B.C.E.) and other kings of Egypt. Most of the identifiable names in these documents refer to cities, though some designate districts and even tribal groups. Because of the loose organization of the lists, the precise location of Jacob-El cannot be determined. It is clear, however, that it was in central Canaan, most probably in the general vicinity of Rehov and Beth-Shean, both of which lay north of Shechem. In view of the proximity of both time and place, therefore, it does not seem reckless to conclude that the Jacob-El conquered by Tuthmosis had something to do with the biblical Jacob tradition.

We must ask, then, which had priority, the patriarch Jacob or the place Jacob-El. The name probably means "Let El protect," and this seems equally suitable as the name of a person or a place. It is possible that there was an early hero called Jacob-El who gave his name to the town or district mentioned in the Egyptian lists.

Archaeologist Aharon Kempinski suggested, on the basis of a scarab of Jacob-Har found in a tomb at Shiqmona, Israel, dating to the 18th century B.C.E., that the later Hyksos king of Egypt named Jacob-Har may be the descendant of a local Palestinian king of the same name. This local ruler may be the Jacob for whom the place was named. Although this argument is speculative, it offers an intriguing possibility for the origin of the Jacob tradition in the central hills of Palestine in the second millennium B.C.E.

In the Bible, Jacob has two names. According to the earliest written account, Jacob was given the name Israel after wrestling with a divine being on the bank of the Jabbok River (Genesis 32:28-29). In the latter part of Genesis, the two names Jacob and Israel are used more or less interchangeably. Modern biblical scholars have explained this in a variety of ways. Noth concluded that Israel, the collective name of the tribes, was assigned to the patriarch Jacob at a fairly late point in the development of the tradition. On the other hand, the elaborate genealogical structure of the tradition was itself an early feature; the purpose of this structure was to give a social definition to Israel. Jacob, the eponym of the people or district of Jacob-El, was the key figure in the genealogical scheme. It is very likely, then, that he was identified as Israel, the eponym of the newly emerging community, when the kinship tradition was devised at the time of the formation of the tribal alliance.

This is not to suggest that the name "Israel" was invented at this time. Several scholars have attempted to identify a distinctive group of traditions around a patriarch Israel, whom they would distinguish from Jacob, and it is possible that there was some kind of early tribal group in the central hills called Israel. In fact, however, our sources give us no hint of the use of the name in Canaan before the time of Merneptah ( c. 1207 B.C.E. ) , which, as we have seen, must have been very close to the time of the formation of the community itself Since we know that the population of the hill country was growing steadily at this time, we must also consider the possibility that the name "Israel" was brought into the region by one of the arriving peoples.

Finally, Jacob's relationship with Esau may predate the identification of the two brothers with Israel and Edom in the genealogical structure. As Gunkel noted, Esau's name and personality have little to do with Edom, which had a reputation for wisdom in biblical tradition. Gunkel associated the conflict of the two brothers with a cultural memory of the ascent of herders over hunters in Palestinian history, which Noth localized to the history of Gilead. It is doubtful, however, that a socioeconomic history of the region can be derived from the rivalry between the two brothers. The relationship is more adequately characterized as a conflict between civilization and nature. Note the consistent series of contrasts between Jacob and Esau in Genesis 25 and 27: man of the tents ( civilized habitat) vs. man of the steppe ( wild habitat) ; cooking ( characteristic of human culture) vs. hunting ( common to humans and predatory animals) ; cunning intelligence vs. stupidity; smooth skin vs. hairy skin; domestic animals (as meal and disguise) vs. wild game; and, finally, the culmination in blessing and political dominance vs. curse and subjection. ( Compare the way Gilgamesh and Enkidu are contrasted in the Mesopotamian Gilgamesh epic.) The fraternal relationship, therefore, falls into the category of ethnic boundary-making, as one's own ancestor is identified with civilization in contrast to another's ancestor, who is wild and uncivilized ( compare the characterization of Ishmael, as opposed to Isaac, in Genesis 16:12 and 21:20, and the parentage of Ammon and Moab in Genesis 19 ). In other words, the relationship between Jacob and Esau is best comprehended as an expression of cultural and ethnic self-definition. .This feature may predate the identification of the two with Israel and Edom, but it continues to function in this identification.

Joseph

Turning finally to the sons of Israel, we begin by recalling that the name "Joseph" belongs in the category of "Isaac," "Jacob" and "Israel," as noted earlier. We assume that it is a shorter form of "Joseph-El," which means "May El increase," and this too seems equally suitable as a personal, tribal or geographical designation. Thus it is possible that Joseph was a hero of the past or the fictitious eponym of a group or district. The latter possibility is suggested by the use of "the house of Joseph" as a collective designation for the northern tribes in the literature of the early monarchy ( 2 Samuel 19:21 ) and elsewhere. A strong case can be made, however, that this expression was coined after the unification of Judah and Israel as a term parallel to "the house of Judah." References to a tribe of Joseph, moreover, are rare and appear only in late materials (Numbers 13: 11, 36:5 ). It thus seems more likely that "Joseph" was a personal name belonging to a local hero of the past. During the period of the formation of the Israelite community, Joseph was identified as a son of Jacob and the father of the tribal eponyms Ephraim and Manasseh.

The special prominence of Joseph in the biblical narrative must be, at least in part, a reflection of the eminence of "the house of Joseph" at the end of the settlement period (about 1000 B.C.E. ) and the continuing historical importance of the Manasseh-Ephraim region. Scholars believe that the long story about Joseph and his family in Genesis 37 and 39-47 originated independently of the other patriarchal narratives. This story depicts Joseph as preeminent among his brothers and as the favorite of his father, Jacob (Israel). The story was probably passed down orally among the inhabitants of the region around Shechem and Dothan (see Genesis 37:12 and 37:17), in the heart of the traditional territory of Ephraim and Manasseh, the two "half-tribes" of Joseph's sons. In an early form, this story may have eulogized Joseph, the tribal patriarch, as a man who went to Egypt as a slave and rose to a position of authority in the Egyptian court.

Many scholars believe that the events described in the story of Joseph have an ultimate basis in historical fact. It has often been supposed, especially by those scholars who believe that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob lived in the Middle Bronze Age (about 2000-1550 B.C.E.), that Joseph lived during the so-called Hyksos period ( c. 1675-1552) , when Egypt was ruled by two dynasties of Asiatic princes. The scholars who hold this view argue that since Joseph was himself an Asiatic, he would have been most likely to find a favorable reception from an Asiatic king of Egypt. Moreover, the capital of Egypt during the Hyksos period was located in the eastern Delta, which is generally agreed to have been the site of the biblical "land of Goshen," where the family of Joseph settled (Genesis 45:10, 46:28-29, 47:1).

But even if the general outline of the Joseph story is based on the life of a historical individual, it is unlikely that much of the information found in Genesis 37 and 39-47 is historically factual. The biblical Joseph story has more in common with a historical romance than a work of history; Its carefully planned story line is fashioned from narrative motifs that were widespread in the literature and folklore of the ancient Near East. The episode of Potiphar's wife, who accuses Joseph of attempted rape after she fails to seduce him (Genesis 39:6b-20 ), has numerous parallels in the literature of the ancient world, including the popular "Tale of Two Brothers" of XIXth-Dynasty Egypt ( 13th century B.C.E. ). The motifs of dreams and dream interpretation are found in literature, folklore and myth throughout antiquity. The convention of the seven lean years is known from Egyptian, Akkadian and Canaanite literature.

Further, the author of the biblical Joseph story displays only a limited knowledge of the life and culture of Egypt. Recalling the hot wind that blows across the Transjordanian plateau into Israel, he writes of the east wind scorching pharaoh's grain (Genesis 41:23,27), but in Egypt it is the south wind that blights crops. The titles and offices the author assigns to various Egyptian officials have closer parallels in Syria and Canaan than in Egypt.

There are a number of authentic Egyptian details in the Joseph story, but these details correspond to the Egyptian way of life in the author's own day, not in the Hyksos period. The king of Egypt is called "Pharaoh,' an Egyptian phrase meaning "great house," which was not used as a title for the king before the reign of Tuthmosis III (c. 1479-1425 B.C.E.).1n Genesis 47:11, the area in which the family of Joseph settles is called "the land of Rameses," a designation that could not have been used earlier than the reign of Ramesses II (c. 1279-1213B.C.E.).( notes: It is possible, however, that "in the land of Rameses" in Genesis 47:11 is a scribe's gloss, intended to harmonize the account of the Israelites' entry into Egypt with the statement in Exodus 1:11 that locates the Israelites in "Pithom and Rameses." )

Some of the personal names in the story are Egyptian. Joseph's wife is called Asenath (Genesis 41:45), which could correspond to one of several Egyptian names from the second and first millennia B.C.E. The name of Asenath's father is Potiphera ( Genesis 41 :45), and this name has been found on an Egyptian stela dating to the XXIst Dynasty (c. 1069-945 B.C.E.) or later. The name of Joseph's Egyptian master, Potiphar (Genesis 37:36), is probably a shorter form of the name Potiphera. Joseph's own Egyptian name, Zaphenath-paneah (Genesis 41:45), has no exact parallel in extant Egyptian records, but names with a similar structure are attested from the XXIst Dynasty and later.

It is unlikely, therefore, that the Joseph story as we know it in the Bible was composed before the establishment of the United Kingdom ( that is, before about 1000 B.C.E.). Many of the elements of the plot and most of the narrative details are fictional. It does not follow from this, however, that the tradition upon which the story is based is unhistorical. We cannot exclude the possibility that there was a historical Joseph who went to Egypt as a slave and rose to a position of power there.

Egyptian records from the Middle Kingdom to the Roman period cite numerous individuals of Syrian, Canaanite and nomadic origin who rose to high positions in the Egyptian govemment. An especially interesting parallel to the story of Joseph is that of an Asiatic named Irsu, who seized power in Egypt during a period of hardship (probably famine) at the end of the XIXth Dynasty (c. 1200 B.C.E.). Many Egyptologists believe that Irsu was another name for Bay, the powerful chancellor who ruled Egypt during the minority of the last king of the XIXth Dynasty and who may have come from Palestine.( note: Another striking parallel may be the Semitic-named vizier Aper-El whose tomb was discovered at the ancient burial ground of Saqqara in Egypt. )

Clearly, then, the biblical description of Joseph's career is historically plausible in its general outline. We might surmise that Joseph was the leader of a group of people from the vicinity of Shechem and Dothan who migrated to Egypt seeking pasturage during a time of drought in Canaan. Such groups are amply attested in Egyptian records. In a text from the reign of Merneptah (c. 1212-1202 B.C.E.), for example, a frontier official reports:

[We] have finished letting the Bedouin tribes of Edom pass the Fortress [of] Mer-ne-Ptah .. which is (in) Tjeku ( notes: "Tjeku" is the Egyptian name for the land called Goshen in the Bible. ) ...to the pools of Per-Atum (notes: Per-Atum is biblical Pithom (Exodus 1:11).) ...which are (in) Tjeku, to keep them alive and to keep their cattle alive.

Alternatively, the people of the central hills may have preserved memories of Hyksos kings of local origin (perhaps even from the line of a local king named Jacob) and combined these memories with the tradition of the Exodus of slaves from Egypt. By this means the patriarchal stories may have been joined with those of the Exodus, yielding a coherent epic tradition, uniting all the tribes. Of course these are mere speculations about the history of the Joseph tradition. We have few clues from the narrative itself.


Jacob's other sons

The names of most of the other sons of Jacob (Israel) do not have the form of personal names. Several are geographical names. "Asher" was a name by which the Egyptians knew the coastal region north of Carmel in the Late Bronze Age. "Judah," "Ephraim" and "Naphtali" seem first to have been the names of ranges of hills (see Joshua 20:7); the people who inhabited the hill country of Judah were called bene yehuda, "the children of Judah," or "Judahites"; and so on. The name "Benjamin" probably arose from the location of the tribe's territory; it lay to the south of the other (northern) tribes, so that the people were called bene yamin "the children of the south," or "Benjaminites."

On the other hand, the names of a few of the sons of Jacob (Israel) do take the form of personal names. "Simeon" and "Manasseh," for example, are most easily understood in this way; and the corresponding tribes may have been named after tribal heroes or even patriarchs. In the genealogical structure, the 12 sons of Israel are eponyms of the 12 tribes of Israel, created in the course of the evolution of the Israelite tradition during the period of settlement. The process of community formation, which began in about 1200 B.C.E., at the end of the Late Bronze Age, presupposes the existence of the tribes with established names. The origin of the various tribal names- whether derived from geographical associations, ancestral traditions or something else-was already in the remote past. When the tribes were joined together into the larger entity of Israel, their kinship was expressed in terms of brotherhood; and a group of 12 sons, the eponyms of the 12 tribes, was assigned to the patriarch Jacob (Israel).

It follows from all this that the setting of the prehistory of the Israelite community was the central hill country, between the valley of Aijalon and the Beth-Shean corridor, in the Late Bronze Age. This region was very sparsely populated before 1200 B.C.E., suggesting that the people among whom the Israelite tradition germinated were pastoralists, as the patriarchal stories would lead us to expect. They venerated a local hero called Abram or Abraham, who was probably already regarded as a patriarchal figure; that is, he was identified as the ancestor of one or more of the groups in the region. Jacob and Isaac may also have been revered as ancestors in local tribal lore.

These proto-Israelites were hill people and shepherds, and they must have seen themselves as distinct from the peoples of the cities, which, in this period, were situated on the coastal plain and in the major valleys. This was the period of Egypt in Canaan, but the remoteness of the highlands from the population centers and the major trading routes sheltered Israel's forerunners from the full influence of Egypt. These circumstances were favorable to the creation of a national community larger than the city-states of the Bronze Age, a development that needed only an increase in population to make it possible. This requirement was fulfilled at the end of the Late Bronze Age when new peoples penetrated into the forests of the Ephraimite plateau and the saddle of Benjamin to the south. At this time a larger tribal alliance was formed, and the old relationships were formalized genealogically. Abraham was identified as the father of Isaac and Isaac of Jacob. Jacob became the father of a large group of sons, eponyms of the various groups and districts that made up the new alliance. A core group of this alliance ( to which the Merneptah Stele refers) bore the collective name "Israel." Thus the eponym Israel had an equal claim to the status of tribal father, and he was identified with Jacob. (完)


学者这样宰割圣经,妖言惑众,真令人痛心。我们千万不要乱了阵脚,以为圣经的记载不可信,不可靠。上帝是很幽默的,在适当的时候,他会叫石头高声呼喊,印证上帝话语的真确,使我们认定圣经是上帝权威的话语 。即或不然,我们也要铭记在心:(来十一:1-6)

1信就是所望之事的实底,是未见之事的确据。
2古人在这信上得了美好的证据。
3我们因着信,就知道诸世界是借上帝话造成的,这样,所看见的,并不是从显然之物造出来的。。。
6人非有信,就不能得上帝的喜悦;因为到上帝面前来的人,必须信有上帝,且信他赏赐那寻求他的人。


所以,亚甲人“哈曼”没有出现在经外文献,不表示他是捏造的故事人物。

“在朝门的一切臣仆,都跪拜哈曼,因为王如此吩咐;惟独末底改(Mordecai)不跪不拜。在朝门的臣仆问末底改说:‘你为何违背王的命令呢?’他们天天劝他,他还是不听。他们就告诉哈曼,要看末底改的事站得住站不住,因他已经告诉他们自己是犹大人。”  --  为什么末底改不遵王命跪拜哈曼呢?是因为这样做违背律法吗?有学者说,因为末底改破坏了杀害王的阴谋,他的名字被记录在编年史里,属于希罗多德所说的“功臣”(orosanges, The Benefactor of the King)之一;作为“功臣”,他有特权,除了王以外,不用跪拜别人。 但这段经文也暗示,因为末底改是犹大人,所以才不向哈曼跪拜。律法有规定犹太人不能跪拜王或尊贵的人吗?不能跪拜别神是肯定有的。至于犹太庶民见到扫罗,或大卫王,或所罗门王有没有跪拜 呢?从撒下九:6,十四:4,22等经节,他们是有伏地叩拜王的。据一些解经家说,犹太人也向波斯宫廷的外邦官员鞠躬。他们不把这视为宗教行为,而是一种宫廷礼仪。这样,末底改拒绝跪拜哈曼,只有两个可能性:一就是刚才说的,他作为“功臣”,有特权不跪拜;二是因为哈曼是亚甲族人,作为犹 大人的末底改没有忘记上帝的命令,视他为世仇。我自己倾向最后一项的解释。

问题来了。 我们知道基督徒是不会跪拜偶像,但向死者遗像鞠躬,或向死者遗像或坟墓、牌位行礼,或向国父孙中山鞠躬行礼是否可以呢?我把马利/杨牧谷博士编著的《信仰疑惑四百问》(更新资源有限公司出版,1999年)所给的解答放在这里供大家参考:

。。在丧礼、追悼会上向死者遗像行礼鞠躬,在现代社会多是表示对死者的敬意和追念,很少带有祈求祖先保佑的宗教迷信意味,而且致敬的也远不限于家人,可以是生前友好或后辈、学生等。这不是拜偶像。基督徒在这场合怎样表达立场很重要,如果坚持不行礼,给社会的印象往往是不孝或不敬,或持守一套死板古怪的信念,就算百般解释,也很难让人理解,对传福音的作用可能适得其反。

。。慎终追远是中国人重要的社会价值观,着重的是感恩和纪念。中国古代传统称跪拜为「大礼」,当然可以用来崇拜鬼神,但也可以只是用来向人表示高度敬意和谢恩的礼节,例如:感父母养育之恩,谢师尊教导之清,古已有之,并非都有宗教含义。前人虽逝,恩情犹在,基督徒扫墓、向遗像献花敬礼,既是表达自己对逝者的怀念,也是向社会作出基督徒应有的见证,与拜偶像全不相关。

当然,具体情况需要具体分别对待。在某些地区,宗教迷信气氛特别浓厚,所有向死者表示敬意的礼仪,都会被人认定是向死者祈福荫求庇佑。为免造成误解绊倒他人,基督徒需要以行动清楚地表明信仰,就不能跟着习俗行礼了。这是为了让他人能认识福音的缘故,并不是怕自己会犯拜偶像的罪。(完)


“哈曼见末底改不跪不拜,他就怒气填胸。他们已将末底改的本族告诉哈曼。他以为下手害末底改一人是小事,就要灭绝亚哈随鲁王通国所有的犹大人,就是末底改的本族。” --  哈曼对末底改的不跪不拜已经怒火中烧,现在又知道他是犹大人,就更加忍无可忍。于是他开始设计灭绝波斯帝国内所有的犹大人。

哈曼要怎样灭绝犹大族人呢?我们下一课再见。


默想:


恨火焚身

“哈曼见末底改不跪不拜,他就怒气填胸。他们已将末底改的本族告诉哈曼。他以为下手害末底改一人是小事,就要灭绝亚哈随鲁王通国所有的犹大人,就是末底改的本族。”(斯三:5-6)

“伺候王的一个太监名叫哈波拿说:‘哈曼为那救王有功的末底改做了五丈高的木架,现今立在哈曼家里!’王说:‘把哈曼挂在其上!’于是,人将哈曼挂在他为末底改所预备的木架上。王的忿怒这才止息。”(斯七:9-10)

“不要以恶报恶。”(罗十二:17)


    乔治•华盛顿•卡佛(1864-1943年)战胜了极端的种族偏见,成为了美国著名的教育家。虽然他受到很不公平的对待,但他不愿意因此变得愤世嫉俗。他写下了这句至理名言:「心怀仇恨的,最终必被仇恨毁灭。

    在《以斯帖记》中,我们可以看到,仇恨会带来何等的自我毁灭。末底改,一个犹太人,拒绝跪拜一个在波斯宫廷中自视甚高的权贵哈曼。愤怒的哈曼于是玩弄花招,让国王感到末底改和他的族人是波斯帝国的威胁(斯三:8-9节)。当他的诡计起了作用,哈曼要求波斯王杀害所有的犹太人。就在国王下旨后,但还没执行之前,以斯帖介入当中,哈曼狡诈的阴谋因而被揭穿(斯七:1-6)。国王在盛怒之下,决定把哈曼挂在他为末底改所预备的木架上。 (斯七:7-10)

    卡佛的话和哈曼的行为提醒我们,仇恨会带来自我毁灭。圣经要我们以德报怨。保罗说:「不要以恶报恶」(罗十二:17),当被冒犯时,「不要自己伸冤」(19节),反而,要做正确的事情(17节),那么你才能够「与众人和睦」(18节)。


窝藏在心中的恨,

让我们无法立足;

唯循真理和恩慈,

让我们得主赐福。

憎恨带来毁灭;爱成就基督的教导。

(取自《灵命日粮》2012年四月二十八日,作者:H Dennis Fisher)

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