What does DtrH claim to be the right reason for the kings of Israel to found the shrines for Yhwh?

What reasons are given for the founding of these shrines in 2 Samuel 7:1-17,1 Kings 12:1-33, 1 Kings 16:29-33, and 2 Chronicles 3:1-5:14?

In 2 Samuel 7:1-17, with his settlement in Jerusalem, David expresses his wish to build a temple for the Lord by contrasting his house of cedar and the tent where the ark of God stays. However, God’s response in vv.5-16 suggests that it is not David who will build the temple, but someone else in his dynastic succession (v.5, 11). According to the commentary of the Harper Collins Study Bible, God appears to be hostile to a temple under any circumstances (vv.6-7), which may represent the core of an older oracle prohibiting rather than postponing the construction of a temple as mentioned in 2Kings 21:15, I have been moving about, wherever I have moved about, which emphasizes the freedom of the Lord to go where he pleases. The following verses (vv. 8-16) reflects the royal theology of Jerusalem in its emphasis on the dynastic promise to David and the commission of the erection of a temple in Jerusalem, which is considered an editorial composition of the Deuteronomistic Historian, who affirmed the establishment of the Davidic dynasty and the Jerusalem temple as conditions necessary for the realization of the Lord’s promise of rest from enemies for Israel (v.11), in spite of the prophetic suspicion of dynastic rule, possibly retaining echoes of an early oracle forbidding the building of a temple. (the Harper Collins Study Bible, pp.445-446)

Bandstra also suggests that David’s fetching the Ark of God from Kiriath-yearim and bringing it to Jerusalem was “an act of great piety and even greater political astuteness in that the presence of the great symbol of the tribal federation and focus of earlier religious devotion firmly established Jerusalem as the religious center of the newly unified nation.” (p254) By the quote of 2 Samuel 7:16, “Your house and your kingdom will be established firmly forever before me. Your throne will be established forever,” Banstra asserts that David’s desire to build a shrine for the Ark in Jerusalem was rejected by God through Nathan with a divine play on words; instead, God would build a house for David, meaning a perpetual dynasty. In terms of the Davidic covenant, God pledged his enduring support for Davidic dynastic succession and God would never remove his support from Davidic dynasty even with their sins, as He did with Saul. (p255)

Dr. Lester also presents this Davidic covenant in his lecture of “the Judeo Royal Theology B,” which Dr. Lester asserts reflects Deuteronomistic Historian’s (DtrH) conviction that Yhwh’s commitment to David described in 2 Samuel 7 is unconditional and everlasting in his descendants even with their disloyalty and thereby the kingship will not be taken away from them. In addition, Dr. Lester explains that as part of this Judeo royal theology, human king is considered as adopted son of Yhwh to rule over the entire cosmos and that the king, as representative of the deity, has the cultic and priestly functions that reinforces the king’s status as a priest based on a part of covenant that Davidic king enjoys in Yhwh.

This royal theology of DtrH should be the major reason for the founding of the shrines for Yhwh, which appears to be implied in the given texts, 2 Samuel 7:1-17, 1 Kings 12:1-33, 1 Kings 16:29-33, and 2 Chronicles 3:1-5:14. Stanley asserts that DtrH, who wanted to explain the entire historical events of Israel from the destruction of the northern kingdom by the Assyrians to the Babylonian exile of the southern kingdom, Judah, as God’s discipline of His people for their disloyalty to Him, especially their worship of other gods, paid attention to the societal leaders, kings, through out the story based on their conviction that Yhwh judges his people according to the conduct of their leaders, especially their religious behavior. Stanley also claims that what is important to DtrH is whether a leader was sufficiently devoted to Yhwh and his temple in Jerusalem and that this viewpoint is reflected in their depictions of the kings of Israel and Judah whose deeds of devotion to Yhwh are the basis of the judgment of them to be good kings or bad kings (p 251-253).

In 1 Kings 12:1-33, Rehoboam, Davidic king, and Jeroboam, non-Davidic king, became the kings of the divided kingdoms of Israel, the king of Judah (southern) and the king of Israel (northern), respectively, with the divine legitimation through a prophet. However, Jeroboam, who is a non-Davidic king and thereby assumed to be against the royal theology, founded two shrines, one in Bethal and the other in Dan, in order to prevent the people of the northern kingdom from going up to Jerusalem to worship Yhwh and turning to Rehoboam, the king of Judah; DtrH considers this act of Jeroboam problematic in his violation of the Deuteronomistic guidelines for proper worship (the Harper Collins Study Bible, pp 498-501).

In 1 Kings 16:29-33, Ahab, the king of Israel, is described to be even more sinful than his predecessors in his marrying Jezebel and worshiping Baal by building the house of Baal and erecting an altar for Baal in it, which DtrH considers was also against Yhwh and thereby resulted in the destruction of the northern kingdom, Israel, by the Assyrians (the Harper Collins Study Bible, p 508).

In 2 Chronicles 3:1-5:14, Solomon’s building of the Temple in Jerusalem, the account of which is shorter than in 1 Kings, is described to emphasize the parallels between the temple and the tabernacle, which implies the Temple of Jerusalem was built following the direction of God and the final verse of 2 Chronicles 5:14, “for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God,” verifies the importance of the royal theology as the legitimate reason of building the shrines of Yhwh (the Harper Collins Study Bible, pp 601-604).

How credible do these reasons seem to you?

Considering the theory of the double redaction of the Deuteronomistic History (DtrH) developed by Frank Moore Cross and Richard D. Nelson in which the major claim of DtrH has changed from the first redaction to the second one, as Dr. Lester mentions in his lecture of “Deuteronomy & the DtrH A,” these reasons do not seem to be credible to me.

Why does the narrator express such different opinions [concerning] the northern and southern shrines?

As Stanley mentions, what matters to DtrH is whether a king was sufficiently devoted to Yhwh and his temple in Jerusalem (p 252); the two themes of DtrH, the Judeo royal theology in which God’s everlasting commitment to Davidic dynastic succession and the city of Jerusalem, which is called Zion, as God’s everlasting place to dwell, and sin of Jeroboam worshiping golden calf (Dr. Lester’s lecture of “Deuteronomy & the DtrH A), make DtrH’s opinions concerning the northern and southern shrines different.

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3 thoughts on “What does DtrH claim to be the right reason for the kings of Israel to found the shrines for Yhwh?”

  1. Thanks for your thought through the presentation! I can clearly see your point through your detailed article.
    Also you put well- organized description about each passages and what we have learned so far! So I can remind what we’ve gained from the class. Great Job!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for sharing on this subject of the shrines for Yahweh. I have learned a lot about the different reasons for building the shrines and the different viewpoints between the northern and southern kingdoms. I had never thought about an earlier oracle forbidding the building of a temple. Thanks for writing this!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I like the way you phrase, “This royal theology of DtrH should be the major reason for the founding of the shrines for Yhwh.” At one time I would have agreed with you wholeheartedly. But during our study of the ancient forms of worship, specifically those of Abraham and Jacob, etc… And given the fact that we know the redactions took place after the destruction of the Temple, I can see the possibility that the DtrH writer was biased and that it would have been ok to allow the shrines to stay in tact as it had been with the ancients. Good food for thought!!

    Liked by 1 person

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