Posted by: religionthink | September 10, 2009

Holy Warriors and Yahweh. (Part 2)

Holy Warriors and Yahweh. (Part 2)

Now we will discuss some important features of the Nazirite. First of all when they committed heroic acts in battle they were said to be filled with the spirit of Yahweh or the spirit of the Lord. Below are a few examples:

(Jdg 3:10 NRSV) The spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he judged Israel; he went out to war, and the Lord gave King Cushan-rishathaim of Aram into his hand; and his hand prevailed over Cushan-rishathaim.

(Jdg 6:34 NRSV) But the spirit of the Lord took possession of Gideon; and he sounded the trumpet, and the Abiezrites were called out to follow him.

(Jdg 11:29 NRSV) Then the spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah, and he passed through Gilead and Manasseh. He passed on to Mizpah of Gilead, and from Mizpah of Gilead he passed on to the Ammonites.

(Jdg 13:25 NRSV) The spirit of the Lord began to stir him in Mahaneh-dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol.

(Jdg 14:6 NRSV) The spirit of the Lord rushed on him, and he tore the lion apart barehanded as one might tear apart a kid. But he did not tell his father or his mother what he had done.

(Jdg 14:19 NRSV) Then the spirit of the Lord rushed on him, and he went down to Ashkelon. He killed thirty men of the town, took their spoil, and gave the festal garments to those who had explained the riddle. In hot anger he went back to his father’s house.

(Jdg 15:14 NRSV) When he came to Lehi, the Philistines came shouting to meet him; and the spirit of the Lord rushed on him, and the ropes that were on his arms became like flax that has caught fire, and his bonds melted off his hands.

(1Sa 10:6 NRSV) Then the spirit of the Lord will possess you, and you will be in a prophetic frenzy along with them and be turned into a different person.

(1Sa 16:13 NRSV) Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the presence of his brothers; and the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. Samuel then set out and went to Ramah.

(1Sa 16:14 NRSV) Now the spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him.

Some would like to include Samuel in this order because of the text:

(1Sa 1:11 NRSV) She made this vow: “O Lord of hosts, if only you will look on the misery of your servant, and remember me, and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a male child, then I will set him before you as a nazirite [4] until the day of his death. He shall drink neither wine nor intoxicants, [5] and no razor shall touch his head.”

However, later as Samuel, who is dedicated to the temple acts as high priest, fills the role as oracle or prophet rather then being a holy warrior. As the role of prophets changed in the Old Testament they also took on healing, doing miracles, controlling weather, along with their old job of ordaining holy war, prophesying, and being a counselor and critic of the King. We will discuss the role of the prophets and their ever-changing duties at a later time. In this case, however, some scholars think that stories of Samuel and Saul over time were mingled together(1). Possibly Saul was dedicated as the Nazirite and Samuel to the temple to be Yahweh’s mouthpiece. Later some would say both Jesus and John the Baptist may have been Nazirites. However Jesus apparently drank wine (according to tradition) and John the Baptist filled the role possibly as a prophet. However, as above, we have seen the rule of the Nazirite order broken by Samson and others, so certain vows may have applied to certain people allowing them to do certain things that would otherwise be a violation.

When Disobedience occurs or requirements are not kept we see the warriors or warrior defeated or their super human powers are lost. Two popular examples are seen below:

(Jdg 16:19-21 NRSV) She let him fall asleep on her lap; and she called a man, and had him shave off the seven locks of his head. He began to weaken, [61] and his strength left him. (20)Then she said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” When he awoke from his sleep, he thought, “I will go out as at other times, and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the Lord had left him. (21) So the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes. They brought him down to Gaza and bound him with bronze shackles; and he ground at the mill in the prison.

(1Sa 16:14 NRSV) Now the spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him.

In conclusion the Process of Holy War involved consecrated warriors through which Yahweh could manifest his power along with using the natural elements and fear to scatter his enemies. When disobedience, or failure to observe part of the ritual occurred. The offended Yahweh would withdraw from the meticulous process and the war would be lost. Later we will explore some holy war hymns and discuss the methods by which Yahweh fought for his people and how over time he changed so he would not be confused with his competitor Baal.

[1] See- McCarter, Jr. P, Kyle. The Anchor Bible. I Samuel. Doubleday & Company. 1980. pp. 64-65

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