Defiant Prophets

Jonah, Balaam, Jeremiah and Their Rebellion Against God

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About the Book

This book examines the tales of three remarkable figures of the biblical world: the tragic prophet Jeremiah, and the two atypical prophets Jonah and Balaam. Jeremiah was cursed from birth and condemned to a lifelong losing battle against national disaster. Jonah was notorious for his connection with a whale, whereas Balaam was best known as the owner of a talking donkey. Yet these prophets (servants of their deity) are portrayed as rebels against their god.

This book contends that these tales, beyond their intrinsic appeal as stories, were written to serve as metaphors. Although set in ancient times and in the exotic Near East, the issues that underlie these gripping tales are not unfamiliar to modern times and Western lives. These prophets represent “everyman” and these unusual dramas explore the phenomenon of revolt against restrictive conditions and against authority.

About the Author(s)

Hillel I. Millgram, ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, lives in Israel. He combines research and writing with teaching graduate courses in the Bible.

Bibliographic Details

Hillel I. Millgram
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 384
Bibliographic Info: 9 photos, glossary, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2022
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8677-6
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4472-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

List of Maps ix
Principal Abbreviations x
Preface 1
Acknowledgments 11
Introduction 13
Part I. The Book of Jonah
Introduction to the Book of Jonah 25
1. The Flight of the Rebel 35
2. In a Tight Spot 51
3. The Great Reversal 66
4. Endgame 78
5. Some Second Thoughts About a Strange Book 90
II. The Enigmatic Balaam, Son of Beor
6. Prologue: The Path to the Steppes of Moab 103
Introduction to the Book of Balaam 112
7. Come, Curse Mine Enemy 115
8. The Mouthpiece 132
9. The Prophet 151
10. Retrospect 167
11. Epilogue: The Road to Dusty Death 184
III. A Persecuted Prophet
12. Prologue: A Tangled Three-Act Tragedy 205
13. Problematic Beginnings 219
Historical Interlude I. The Road to Megiddo: Playing on the Big Board 235
14. De Profundis 241
Historical Interlude II. Scandals in the Temple 255
15. The Long Night 262
Historical Interlude III. Long Day’s Journey into Night 276
16. The Anatomy of a Lifelong Agony 284
Conclusion: A Final Accounting 299
A: When Was Jonah Written? 313
B: Who Was the Innovator and Who Were the Copycats? 317
C: North Moab: A Tale of Lost Lands 322
D: The Geography and Ecology of the ­Trans-Jordan 325
E: The Deir ‘Alla Inscription(s) 327
F: The Plague at ­Baal-Peor 330
G: Who Was Jeremiah? 333
H: Psalm 22 and the Prayer of Jeremiah 337
Timeline I: Putting Things in Perspective 340
Timeline II: Late 7th–Early 6th Centuries bce 343
Glossary of Terms and Place Names 345
Who’s Who 358
Bibliography 363
Scriptural Index 367
General Index 371