The Preservation of Prophecy in the Jewish Antiquities: Josephus’s Account of Elisha’s Prophecy during the Campaign against Moab

In: Journal for the Study of Judaism

This project builds on the observations of Begg and Feldman by examining how Josephus ensures prophetic accuracy in his account of 2 Kings 3 in Antiquities 9.3.29-44. It examines the questions of Josephus’s source material for this account and the significant issues in the biblical account Elisha’s prophecy of victory before tracing the steps that Josephus takes to ensure its accuracy in Antiquities for his audience. Josephus slightly alters his Hebrew source in order to allow for the campaign’s final retreat and strengthens the connection between 2 Kings 3 with 1 Kings 22:1-40 by adding the concepts of true and false prophecy and rendering Elisha’s address to Joram in 2 Kings 3:13 as sarcasm. These steps, designed to persuade his audience to believe his apologetic account of Jewish history, allow Josephus to preserve the connection between prophecy and history that he makes throughout Antiquities.

  • 1

    Christopher T. Begg“The ‘Classical Prophets’ in Josephus’ Antiquities,” in “The Place Is Too Small for Us”: The Israelite Prophets in Recent Scholarshiped. Robert P. Gordon Sources for Biblical and Theological Study 5 (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns1995) 547-62 at 561. Ferda has also noted this relationship: Tucker S. Ferda “Jeremiah 7 and Flavius Josephus on the First Jewish War” jsj 44 (2013): 158-73 esp. 159.

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  • 2

    Begg“The ‘Classical Prophets’ in Josephus’s Antiquities” 551-54.

  • 3

    Ibid.560.

  • 5

    Ibid.399.

  • 7

    Ibid.394.

  • 11

    Begg“Filling in the Blanks” 107; Etienne Nodet “The Text of 1-2 Kings Used by Josephus” in The Books of Kings: Sources Composition Historiography and Reception ed. André Lemaire Baruch Halpern and Matthew Joel Adams VTSup 129 (Leiden: Brill 2010) 41-66 esp. 50.

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  • 12

    Nodet“The Text of 1-2 Kings Used by Josephus” 59.

  • 14

    Begg“Filling in the Blanks” 108.

  • 17

    Jesse C. Long Jr. and Mark Sneed“ ‘Yahweh Has Given These Three Kings into the Hand of Moab’: A Socio-Literary Reading of 2 Kings 3,” in Inspired Speech: Prophecy in the Ancient Near East: Essays in Honor of Herbert H. Huffmoned. John Kaltner and Louis Stulman lhbots 378 (London: T&T Clark2004) 253-75esp. 261.

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  • 20

    Burns“Why Did the Besieging Army Withdraw?” 193.

  • 21

    Kratz“Chemosh’s Wrath and Yahweh’s No” 109.

  • 22

    Long and Sneed“ ‘Yahweh Has Given These Three Kings into the Hand of Moab’ ” 261.

  • 23

    Sprinkle“2 Kings 3” 270.

  • 24

    Morschauser“A ‘Diagnostic’ Note on the ‘Great Wrath upon Israel’ in 2 Kings 3” 300-301.

  • 25

    Berlyn“The Wrath of Moab” 225.

  • 27

    Robert B. Chisholm Jr.“Israel’s Retreat and the Failure of Prophecy in 2 Kings 3,” Bib 92 (2011): 70-80esp. 72.

  • 30

    Berlyn“The Wrath of Moab” 222; Terrance E. Fretheim First and Second Kingswbc (Louisville: Westminster John Knox 1999) 142; A.D.H. Mayes Deuteronomyncb (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans 1979) 296.

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  • 32

    Jonathan KlawansJosephus and the Theologies of Ancient Judaism (Oxford: Oxford University Press2012) 3; Edwin M. Yamauchi “Josephus and the Scriptures” Fides et Historia 13 (1980): 42-63 esp. 45. Begg “Filling in the Blanks” 96.

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  • 33

    Louis H. Feldman“Josephus’ Portrait of Elisha,” NovT 36 (1994): 1-28esp. 3.

  • 34

    Begg“Filling in the Blanks” 108-9.

  • 38

    Begg“Filling in the Blanks” 21.

  • 43

    Chisholm“Israel’s Retreat and the Failure of Prophecy in 2 Kings 3” 72.

  • 45

    Sprinkle“2 Kings 3” 253; John R. Bartlett “The ‘United’ Campaign Against Moab in 2 Kings 3:4-27” in Midian Moab and Edom: The History and Archaeology of Late Bronze and Iron Age Jordan and North-West Arabia ed. John F.A. Sawyer and David J.A. Clines lhbots 24 (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic 1983) 135-46 esp. 135; Chisholm “Israel’s Retreat and the Failure of Prophecy in 2 Kings 3” 76; Long “Elisha’s Deceptive Prophecy in 2 Kings 3” 170; Erasmus Gass “Topographical Considerations and Redaction Criticism in 2 Kings 3” jbl 128 (2009): 65-84 esp. 81.

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  • 46

    Begg“Filling in the Blanks” 96.

  • 47

    Feldman“Josephus’s Portrait of Elisha” 13.

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