“They called for the king; and Eliakim son of Hilkiah the palace administrator,
Shebna the secretary, and Joah son of Asaph the recorder went out to them”.
2 Kings 18:18
“In the eighteenth year of Josiah’s reign, to purify the land and the temple, he sent Shaphan son of Azaliah and
Maaseiah the ruler of the city, with Joah son of Joahaz, the recorder, to repair the Temple of the LORD his God”.
2 Chronicles 34:8
Merging as one “Joah” of Hezekiah and “Joah” of Josiah
There is an apparent repetition of names between the above two texts, in Shebna-Shaphan and Joah-Joah, which is perfectly understandable in my revised context, according to which Hezekiah, “the king” of 2 Kings 18:18, was the very same person as king Josiah in 2 Chronicles 34:8. See e. g. my article “Jonah resurrected”: https://amaic-alphaomega.blogspot.com/2020/04/jonah-resurrected.html
But such a coinciding of names is apparently worrisome to the text book commentators – who would conventionally estimate that the two incidents occurred about 90 years apart – who may be inclined, like Thenis, to ‘pronounce these personages fictitious’, and say that “Joah the recorder [of king Josiah] seems to have been borrowed from [the Joah of king Hezekiah] 2Kings 18:18 …”. https://biblehub.com/2_kings/22-3.htm
It is an indication of the correctness of my revision of the later kings of Judah, however, that king Hezekiah, king Josiah, could have officials of (near to) identical names, holding identical positions.
Thus Joah is “the recorder”, ha mazkir (הַמַּזְכִּיר) in both cases, Hezekiah and Josiah. Shebna is “the secretary” ha sopher (הַסֹּפֵר) as his counterpart, Shaphan (סֵפֶר), is found to have been upon further scrutiny (2 Kings 22:8).
And in my “Jonah” article (above), I have identified another parallel character in Isaiah (for Hezekiah) and Asaiah (for Josiah): thus, Isaiah = Asaiah.
The “Hilkiah” referred to in 2 Kings 18:18 as the father of “Eliakim” is met again in the era of Josiah as the identically named “Hilkiah” (3 Chronicles 34:9): “They went to Hilkiah the high priest …”.
Eliakim himself, whom I have identified as high priest in my article:
Hezekiah’s Chief Official Eliakim was High Priest
does not (I think) appear in any of the accounts of king Josiah. There may he a good reason for this. He, as I have argued in this article, had replaced Shebna as commandant of the fort of Lachish (= “Ashdod”). In the Book of Judith, in which Eliakim (Douay), var. Joakim, is the high priest, we are specifically told that: (Judith 4:6): “The High Priest Joakim, who was in Jerusalem at that time, wrote to the people in the towns of Bethulia and Betomesthaim, which face Jezreel Valley near Dothan”. This geographical information, “who was in Jerusalem at that time”, could indicate that Eliakim was sometimes stationed outside Jerusalem, say, for military and defensive purposes.
But Eliakim had by no means died out by the time of king Josiah, for we find him as “the high priest” even as late as Baruch (1:2): “… in the fifth year, on the seventh day of the month, at the time when the Chaldeans took Jerusalem and burned it with fire”. Eliakim, or Joakim, is there called by the related name of “Jehoiakim” (on “related names” see e.g., https://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Jehoiakim.html#.Xsxq8e0vPnE), and commentators (following an enlarged chronology) do not know who he was (this being especially complicated by the fact that they have failed to realise that the Eliakim of Hezekiah was a high priest). The Baruch text, which identifies Jehoiakim as “son of Hilkiah”, as we know him (as Eliakim/Joakim) to have been, reads thus (vv. 5-7): “Then they wept, and fasted, and prayed before the Lord; they collected as much money as each could give, and sent it to Jerusalem to the high priest Jehoiakim son of Hilkiah son of Shallum, and to the priests, and to all the people who were present with him in Jerusalem”.
The office of “recorder” was apparently a highly significant one, some placing it as high as vizier to the king. Thus we read in Bible study tools: https://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/recorder/
(Heb. mazkir, i.e., “the mentioner,” “rememberancer”), the office first held by Jehoshaphat in the court of David ( 2 Samuel 8:16 ), also in the court of Solomon ( 1 Kings 4:3 ). The next recorder mentioned is Joah, in the reign of Hezekiah ( 2 Kings 18:18 2 Kings 18:37 ; Isaiah 36:3 Isaiah 36:22 ). In the reign of Josiah another [sic] of the name of Joah filled this office ( 2 Chronicles 34:8 ). The “recorder” was the chancellor or vizier of the kingdom. He brought all weighty matters under the notice of the king, “such as complaints, petitions, and wishes of subjects or foreigners. He also drew up papers for the king’s guidance, and prepared drafts of the royal will for the scribes. All treaties came under his oversight; and he had the care of the national archives or records, to which, as royal historiographer, like the same state officer in Assyria and Egypt, he added the current annals of the kingdom”. [End of quote]
Note that only three supposed individuals are specifically designated as “recorder” in the OT, Jehoshaphat, at the time of kings David and Solomon, and the supposedly two Joah’s – who, though, I think, need to be trimmed down to just one. One would expect, however, that there must have been a continuation of those holding the office of recorder from Joah all the way back to Jehoshaphat, who will soon become of significance with regard to the ancestry of Joah.
The office of recorder may have involved, also, “herald”, or trumpet-blower, shofar (שׁוֹפָר), in the case of an emergency. Joah may have, for instance, overseen or commanded the trumpet-blowing Levites. John Strazicich has written on trumpet-blowing in the Bible, especially with reference to the Book of Joel (to be considered in Part Two), in his book Joel’s Use of Scripture and the Scripture’s Use of Joel (1960, p. 116):
“The primary theological OT text for the blowing of trumpets is Num 1:1-10. The trumpets function for gathering the cultic community, for use at time of war, and at the time of sacrifice. According to Milgrom, the blowing of trumpets, whether for religious purposes or for war, serves as instruments of prayer in Num 10:9-10. …. Whether for sacrifice or deliverance at times of war, the use of trumpets for prayer has theological significance in Joel’s liturgical context of the [Day of the Lord], as well as for the cultic gathering of the nation. The priestly trumpet blast noted above is an alarm which functions militarily, so that the community is be [sic] remembered before Yahweh. The cultic connection to Joel’s use of the trumpets acts in concert with the prayers of all the community to plead for Yahweh’s mercy (2:15-17)”. [End of quote]
Other “instruments of prayer”, such as cymbals, may also have been part of the recorder’s repertoire. Psalm 150:1-6 lists various such instruments: “Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals!”
As this article progresses, I shall have something to say, as well, about the apparently different patronymics of my main character, Joah. For example, Joah is “son of Asaph” in the account of king Hezekiah, but he is the “son of Joahaz” in the account of king Josiah.
And now, in Part Two, we are going to acquire yet another patronymic for our Joah, one which may be compatible with the above-mentioned recorder, Jehoshaphat, who is given in 2 Samuel 8:16 and I Kings 4:3 as “son of Ahilud”.
Joah as the prophet Joel
The Book of Joel opens with the raising of the alarm about a devastating invasion of “locusts” (Joel 1:2-4):
“The word of the Lord that came to Joel son of Phatuel.
‘Hear this, you elders;
listen, all who live in the land.
Has anything like this ever happened in your days
or in the days of your ancestors?
Tell it to your children,
and let your children tell it to their children,
and their children to the next generation.
What the locust swarm has left
the great locusts have eaten;
what the great locusts have left
the young locusts have eaten;
what the young locusts have left
other locusts have eaten’.”
This, I had argued in my university thesis:
A Revised History of the Era of King Hezekiah of Judah and its Background
is a symbolical reference – under the form of “locusts” – to the invasion of Israel and Judah by the armies of Sennacherib, king of Assyria. It is a brilliant image of the utter destruction to the land caused by the marauding Assyrians. These were described as “locusts”, both in history, and in the Bible. For example, “Assyrian documents link armies and locusts …”. (Pablo R. Andiñach, “The Locusts in the Message of Joel”, Vetus Testamentum, Vol. 42, Fasc. 4, Oct., 1992). And Judith 2:20 describes the massive invading host of “Holofernes” as: “A huge, irregular force, too many to count, like locusts, like the dust of the earth …”. (Cf. Amos 7:1).
Joel then becomes more specific (and less symbolical) when he describes this host as both a “nation” and an “army” (1:6): “A nation has invaded my land, a mighty army without number …”. The Douay version of Joel 2:20, referring to “the northern enemy”, includes this footnote: “The northern enemy”: Some understand this of Holofernes and his army: others, of the locusts”. The corrrect view is, I believe, “Holofernes and his army”.
The name of Joel’s “father”, or ancestor, is given as “Phatuel” (or “Pethuel”), which I now take to be a long-ranging reference back to that earlier recorder, Jehoshaphat, the two names sharing the common element “phat” as well as each having a theophoric. Joah of Hezekiah’s father, ancestor, “Asaph”, may perhaps be seen, then, as part of that name, Jehoshaphat – both names sharing the “shap[h]” element.
Joah of Josiah’s ancestor, “Joahaz”, is not so apparent. If, as I am saying, he is to be merged with the Joah of Hezekiah, then presumably “Joahaz” is another reference to Jehoshaphat.
Joah-Joel as the prophet Zephaniah
“Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble,
for the day of the Lord is coming. It is close at hand—”
“The great day of the Lord is near—near and coming quickly.
The cry on the day of the Lord is bitter; the Mighty Warrior shouts his battle cry.
The “Day of the Lord” [DOL] is a theme common to the prophet Joel and to Zephaniah, who, again like Joel – at least according to my reconstruction of Joel – was prophesying in the days of king Josiah (1:1): “The word of the Lord that came to Zephaniah son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hezekiah, during the reign of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah”.
Joel and Zephaniah share another similarity, as we shall read below, regarding trumpet-blowing in the case of an emergency. Hence my inclusion in Part One of “herald” or trumpet-blower as relevant to the role of the recorder.
Indeed, there are so many likenesses between the messages of Joel and Zephaniah (see Comparisons below), that I am convinced that this was just the one prophet at the time of king Josiah (who is my king Hezekiah).
Some difficulties – genealogy
– Contrary to my connecting of Zephaniah to the Levite line, though, is a tradition that Zephaniah was a Simeonite.
– It is also thought by most that Zephaniah had royal connections going back to king Hezekiah as attested by his unusually long superscription back to a “Hezekiah” (Zephaniah 1:1).
Regarding the first point, the Simeonite tradition, we read in The Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testament, and Apocrypha, Volume 2:
“According to Epiphanius, [Zephaniah] was of the tribe of Simeon, and of mount Sarabatha, a place not mentioned in Scripture. Dr. Gray thinks it probable, that the place of his nativity was Saraa, near Eshthaol, in the tibe of Simeon, which, by the addition of the common word beth to the name of places, would come near to Sarabatha. The Jews are of opinion, that the ancestors of Zephaniah, mentioned at the beginning of this prophecy, were all prophets themselves. Some have pretended, but without any foundation, except from the enumeration of his ancestors, that he was of an illustrious family”. [End of quote]
The tradition does not appear to have been unanimously received: “An ancient tradition declares that Zephaniah was of the tribe of Simeon, which would make it impossible for him to be of royal blood; but the origin and value of this tradition are uncertain”. https://www.internationalstandardbible.com/Z/zephaniah-book-of.html
Regarding the second point, a connection back to king Hezekiah, some have expressed doubts about this: For instance, according to the Jewish virtual library: “The genealogy given in Zephaniah 1:1 traces Zephaniah’s ancestry back four generations to a certain Hezekiah, who some have identified with Hezekiah, king of Judah (715–687 B.C.E.), although this identification is sometimes doubted because Hezekiah is not referred to as king …”: https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/zephaniah
Given that Zephaniah was a contemporary of king Hezekiah, in my view, then I must reject for him any descent from king Hezekiah. Moroever, some texts replace the name “Hezekiah” with the variant readin “Hilkiah” in Zephaniah’s superscription. And I am going to show a bit further on that “Hilkiah” is in fact the correct reading.
If Zephaniah were Joah-Joel, as I am saying, then he must have had Levite ancestry. And that is what we are now going to find. Our prophet was a Merarite Levite.
A character who is obviously of the same lineage as Zephaniah emerges in the Book of Jeremiah. I refer to Jehudi, who was sent by the princes to invite Baruch to read Jeremiah’s roll to them (Jeremiah 36:14; 36:21). This Jehudi, too, has an impressive genealogy, “son of Nethaniah, the son of Shelemiah, the son of Cushi”, which includes an ancestor of the same name as does Zephaniah’s genealogy, “Cushi”. Given that Jehudi, at the time of Baruch, was at least a close contemporary of the prophet Zephaniah, the latter’s “Cushi” could not have been his actual father, as Zephaniah 1:1 might seem to imply. Cushi was at the very least the great grandfather of Jehudi, and hence a few generations removed from Zephaniah. Remember that Eliakim (son of Hilkiah), high priest at the time of king Hezekiah, was still in office, as Jehoiakim (son of Hilkiah) in the days of Baruch, Jehudi’s contemporary.
The possibiity that Zephaniah was this same Jehudi, “the Jew”, which may be a nick-name, can now be considered as well. Was he specified a “Jew” because of his ancestor’s ethnicity, as a Cushite (“Cushi”)? T. K. Cheyne has argued for what he considers to have been a North Arabic, or “Cushite”, influence amongst the Levites (“From Isaiah to Ezra: A Study of Ethanites and Jerahmeelites”, The American Journal of Theology, 5, no. 3 (Jul., 1901): 433-444). I cannot agree with all of his assertions. But I was interested in his linking of the name Ethan with Nethaniah, for reasons that will now become apparent. Thus T. K. Cheyne writes (p. 435): “Elnathan is a variation of Nethaniah, which is an altered form (note the reflex action of n) of the ethnic Ethani”.
In I Chronicles 6 we finally seem to find our genealogical pathway.
Firstly, we are given the chronological location to the time of king David (vv. 31-32) “These are the men David put in charge of the music in the house of the Lord after the Ark came to rest there. They ministered with music before the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, until Solomon built the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem. They performed their duties according to the regulations laid down for them”. Note that these men were Levite musicians, as I have claimed our central figure prophet to have been.
Then follows the crucial name information (vv. 44-45):
“… and from their associates, the Merarites, at his left hand:
Ethan son of Kishi, the son of Abdi,
the son of Malluk, the son of Hashabiah,
the son of Amaziah, the son of Hilkiah ….”
I see here four names from the Zephaniah-Jehudi genealogies: Ethan (= Nethaniah, as explained); Kishi (var. Kushaiah = Cushi); Amaziah (for Amariah) son of Hilkiah (not Hezekiah). Compare Zephaniah 1:1: “The word of the Lord that came to Zephaniah son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hilkiah, during the reign of Josiah …”.
John Strazicich has recorded a plethora of intertextual comparisons between the books of Joel and Zephaniah – he regarding Joel as dependent upon Zephaniah – in his book, Joel’s Use of Scripture and the Scripture’s Use of Joel (1960). I now give just some of these to seal our Joah-Joel as Zephaniah:
Pp. 91-92: “Berlin notes that the general dates given for the book [of Zephaniah] range from 630-520 B.C.E. …. Thus, the case for Joel’s dependency upon Zephaniah can be upheld”.
P. 92: “Zephaniah 3 presents a global restoration, where Zion becomes a praise in the earth. Peculiarly, Joel 3-4 particularizes the aspects of Zephaniah’s universalistic purposes (Zeph 3:9)”.
Pp. 96-97: “The motif of theophany is readily observed in Zephaniah, with the association of clouds, thick darkness and the sound of the shofar. All these elements are associated with Yahweh’s theophany on Mt. Sinai (Exod 19:16; Deut 5:22), and are transferred to the DOL.118 Joel adapts these elements for his depiction and incorporates them into the approaching metaphoric locust army of 2:1-11″.
“Particularly important to the task at hand, in the call to alarm, are are the passages from Zeph 1:14-16, Hos 5:8, and Jer 4:5–6 and 6:1. Joel’s call is inseparable from its attachment to the DOL. …. The only passage previous to Joel that brings together these two motifs is Zeph 1:14-16. Although Zephaniah’s formulation for the Alarmbefehl is different, the influence of this passage is undeniable. Joel’s use of this motif is made from two imperative verb forms in synonymous parallelism …. Joel has received this tradition combined with the DOL from Zeph 1:14-16 …. The controlling motifs which Zephaniah provides are the characteristics of theophany and the call to alarm for battle. Note that Zephaniah’s DOL is a Day of an Alarmbefehl and Lārmzeichen … which is in synonymous parallelism, but minus the verb forms. … petinent references from Zeph 1 … show parallels to Joel 2:1-2 a…”.
P. 114: “Zephaniah’s influence on Joel’s account of the call can be established by its correspondences of borrowed metaphors, such as the nearness of the Day of Yahweh …. the theophanic darkness … and th call to alarm …. These ideas are evidently appropriated into Joel’s own account”.
“Zephaniah’s call to alarm functions as a spring board from which Joel takes the idea of this motif and expands it”.
“The trumpet blast in the book of Joel announces Yahweh’s march against Jerusalem. It is also a theme firmly connected to the theophany at Sinai in Exod 19:16. The Sinai tradition flows into the book of Joel via Zephaniah. This latter prophet connects the Sinai theophanic motifs to the DOL The trumpet blast has precise;ly the same annunciatory connotation as in Joel”.
To be continued ….