Ethical Issues in the Historical Books of Tanach;
JOSHUA, JUDGES, SAMUEL, KINGS (Nevi’im Rishonim)
These four books ostensibly are merely the history of Israel from the entry into the Promised Land until the destruction of the Temple and the temporary loss of independent statehood. In fact they are actually, in a specifically Jewish sense, the most deeply religious and spiritual books of the Bible. One does not have to be specifically Jewish to see or feel the religion and spirituality in the revelations of the prophetic writings or in the words of the Tehillim. They speak to all people, as evidenced by the fact that the Bible is still the world's bestseller and there are millions of non-Jews who regularly recite the Psalms. However, it is specifically and intrinsically Jewish to understand that G-d is revealed in the prosaic material, in the political, social and military events in the lives of ordinary men and women, kings and leaders that are described in the Nevim Rishonim. Here are described the ideology and religious thoughts in Judaism, while in Chronicles we have the purely historical.
On Being a Jewish Prophet part 3and
the Woman of Tzarfat (Melachim Alef 17:9-15)
Just as Rivka did not query why strong men like Eliezer and his servants could not draw their own water, so too the widow did not question Eliyahu.
When he asked for a cake to eat, she
did not refuse him even though she only had a handful of flour and the
last drops of oil, neither when he told her to bake for him first. Rivka's
reward was Isaac and hers was two miracles — the revival of her son and
that neither flour nor oil ceased, to feed her, her son and her extended
family until the famine passed. This chesed was not an act of an
individual nor was it the mark of singular kindness; rather it has been
our national characteristic throughout history, as we learn from the
Eishet Chayil that we recite in our homes every Friday night. This was the
paean of praise recited by Abraham as the hesped for Sarah. In the Aggadic
literature, this Aishet Chayil poem served as a model for the
prophetesses, pious women and matriarchs descended from Sarah. "All the
years that Sarah was alive, there was a cloud at the entrance to her
tent... the doors of the tent stood wide open... there was blessing in the
So the Sages taught, "Everyman who is not married lives without a [this] blessing (Yevamot, 62b).
To Sarah is ascribed the idea of buying the Maarat Hamachpelah in Hevron. This, together with Shechem, [present day Nablus] and the Temple Mount are sites bought for full money rather than obtained by Israelite conquest. So these three sites remain eternally in the possessions of the sons and daughters of Sarah and Abraham. "She envisions a field and buys it, from the fruit of her handiwork she plants a vineyard"
Yalkut Shimoni attributes many of the verses of Eishet Chayil (Proverbs 31:10-31), to various women in the historical books of the Tanach, as follows:
"She stretched out her hand to the
distaff", this is Yael who killed Siserah with a tent peg instead of with
a sword, because of her modesty, refusing to bear weapons character-
istically belonging to men (Judges 4:17-22).
"She fears not snow for her household", this is Rahab, who had no fear of the Israelite conquest of Jericho because she trusted in the promised sign of the scarlet thread (Joshua 2:18-19).
"Distinctive in the councils is her husband when he sits with the elders of the land" (31), this is Michal who saved her husband, David, from the anger of her father, King Saul.
"She makes a cloak to sell", this is Tzellafonit, who gave birth to Samson, who judged Israel for 20 years.
"She opens her mouth with wisdom", this is Serach bat Asher who was the wise woman who counseled Joav to bring about the reconciliation between David and Absalom (2 Samuel, 14:1-20).
"She anticipates the ways of her household", this is the wife of Ovadiah who saved her children from the idolatry of Achav (1 Kings 18:3-4).
"Her sons rise up to praise her", this is the Shunemite whose son was brought back from the dead by Elisha, by merit of her acts of charity (2 Kings 4:8-37).
"Many daughters achieve greatness but you have outdone them all", this is Ruth of Moav who brought herself to nestle beneath the wings of the Shechina [through her acts of chesed] and was the ancestress of Kings David and Solomon, who sang songs of praise to HaShem".
This is the 33rd installment in Dr. Tamari’s series on “Tanach and its messages for our times”