Haman Hamstrung


But the LORD said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid because of them, for tomorrow about this time I will deliver all of them slain before Israel. You shall hamstring their horses and burn their chariots with fire.”  Joshua 11:6

‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Are [you] he of whom I have spoken in former days by My servants the prophets of Israel, who prophesied for years in those days that I would bring you against them?  Ezekiel 38:17

James Jordan’s correlation of Ezekiel 38-39 with the book of Esther makes a great deal of sense.[1] I have found it plays out in many ways, including the structure of the book of Ezekiel. None of the books of the Bible are thrown together haphazardly. They all follow strict literary conventions. The validity of this Esther interpretation is supported by the structure of the book of Ezekiel.

Genesis – the prophet is ordained as a new Adam, the son of man (Sabbath)

Exodus – the seven angels do a ‘Passover‘ slaying the wicked without mercy after the faithful are marked (sealed)

Leviticus – the Laws are applied to Solomon’s temple and it is deconstructed (this section follows the pattern of the Creation week, very ironically) (Firstfruits)

Numbers – the “mighty men” in the wilderness, the Canaanite nations made strong by their alliances with Israel, are judged (Pentecost)

Deuteronomy – Ezekiel 37 sees the nation resurrected, the next generation who will take vengeance on the Gentile empire (Trumpets)

Joshua – the battle of Gog and Magog sees the reconquest of the Promised Land. Ezekiel 38-39 are full of Atonement symbols

Judges – Sabbath comes with Ezekiel’s vision of a restored glorified Temple (Tabernacles), only this time, as in Revelation, it is a building made of people. The Jews established synagogues throughout the empire, which explains the many God-fearing Gentiles that come out of the woodwork in Acts. This is the white field Jesus sent the apostles to harvest.

But then, is Ezekiel 38:17 a problem? Is Gog/Haman one whom the previous prophets had spoken about? Nathan Bierma [2] writes:

Daniel Block, in a seminar at the Preaching Apocalyptic Texts Conference, noted that the recently released TNIV renders the rhetorical question in Ezekiel 38:17 (“Are you the one I spoke of…?”) as a statement (“You are the one…”).

While it is often legitimate to render a RQ in Hebrew with a statement, it is not in this case, Block said. That’s because the rhetorical question actually implies a negative answer here, not a positive one. Gog was NOT the power that prophets foresaw as conquering Israel; Babylon was. Babylon was an instrument of God’s purposes by overtaking Israel; Gog would not be. So God is actually invalidating Gog’s ambition in this verse, rather than validating it.

I checked up on this and, assuming Block is correct, the NIV had it wrong, too, by adding the word “not” (Are you not the one…”), and then turning the relative clause modfying “prophets” (“who in those days prophesied…”) into a separate statement (“At that time they prophesied…”)

The Message also blew it:

Years ago when I spoke through my servants, the prophets of Israel, wasn’t it you I was talking about? Year after year they prophesied that I would bring you against them.

And look what the CEV does to it!

The LORD said to Gog: Long ago, I had my prophets warn the people of Israel that someday I would send an enemy to attack them. You, Gog, are that enemy, and that day is coming.

Haman was not a new Nebuchadnezzar. For the people of God, the tables of history had turned. Haman was a new Zedekiah, and his dynasty ended with the public execution of his sons.

[1] See Saul and Agag.
[2] Botched Rhetorical Question and Relative Clause in Ezekiel 38 Translation. Block and Bierma totally overlook the events in Esther as a fulfilment of the the prophecy, however.

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