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Home Forums Evidence for Biblical miracles Naturalistic vs. spectacular supernatural Reply To: Naturalistic vs. spectacular supernatural

  • Deborah Hurn

    June 2, 2021 at 12:26 am

    I had a closer look at 2 Chron 20:2 about Hazazon-tamar and the battle of Jehoshaphat:

    2Ch 20:1-23 NRSV  After this the Moabites and Ammonites, and with them some of the Meunites, came against Jehoshaphat for battle.  (2)  Messengers came and told Jehoshaphat, "A great multitude is coming against you from Edom, from beyond the sea; already they are at Hazazon-tamar" (that is, En-gedi).... (20)  They rose early in the morning and went out into the wilderness of Tekoa; and as they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, "Listen to me, O Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe in the LORD your God and you will be established; believe his prophets."  (21)  When he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to sing to the LORD and praise him in holy splendor, as they went before the army, saying, "Give thanks to the LORD, for his steadfast love endures forever."  (22)  As they began to sing and praise, the LORD set an ambush against the Ammonites, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed.  (23)  For the Ammonites and Moab attacked the inhabitants of Mount Seir, destroying them utterly; and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they all helped to destroy one another. (24) When Judah came to the watchtower of the wilderness, they looked toward the multitude; they were corpses lying on the ground; no one had escaped.

    It is highly unlikely that the Moabites, Ammonites, and Meunites (from Baal-meon in the S Jordan Valley, Num 32:38; Josh 13:17; Jdg 10:12; 1 Chr 5:8; Ezek 25:9) would have come around the south end of the Dead Sea to attack Judah in alliance with the Edomites. They would have had to go through Edom to make this circuitous route, so it doesn’t make strategic sense seeing as they obviously are not on good terms with the Edomites. From the way the story ends with the Ammonites and Moabites attacking the Edomites (presumably at En-gedi), I would say that there are two concurrent campaigns, the former from the east and the latter from the south, both attacking Judah at once for the perceived weakness or some other reason. They meet in Hazazon-tamar, undoubtedly for the water, although it is out of the way for both of them if they intended to march on Jerusalem (this is a weak point in the story). Jehoshaphat’s approach to meet them through the Valley of Tekoa (near Bethlehem) is in line with a SE route from Jerusalem to En-gedi. Note they got to a watchtower, presumably looking down into the Dead Sea Valley, just as Abraham did when he went to see what happened to Sodom.

    So for reasons of chronology and the compatibility with the Jehoshaphat story, I can accept En-gedi as Hazazon-Tamar as clearly stated in 2 Chron 20:2, and explain the border of Ezekiel thus:

    Ezekiel is sketching the borders of an idealised (post-captivity) Israel in the simplest vectors (Ezek 47:13-23). Tamar at En-gedi about halfway along the western shore of the Dead Sea (the “eastern sea” of v. 18) is consistent with a border that runs S through the Rift Valley and then runs SW in along Wadi Zin to Kadesh-barnea as it does in the original S border of Judah (Num 34:3-5 and Josh 15:1-4). Thus, unless there is something I have missed, Hazazon-tamar is not at Ein Tamar or Ein Hazevah (Ain Husb). That’s good for me because I already have a wilderness itinerary name for Ein Hazevah.

    Thomas, this means that the four kings of the north had already passed the five cities of the plain… that’s if the cities were clustered around the southeastern end of the present Dead Sea. This suits Collins of course, who imagines the invaders are still approaching Tall al-Hammam in the S Jordan Valley. But he also has problems with where the Vale of Siddim and its slime pits could be (none of that in the Jordan Valley). So it is still hard to reconcile all the data.