Sunday, December 17, 2017

Aramaic irony

The Edict of Darius declares concerning any who may hinder the reconstruction: “that a beam (ʾāʿ) will be ripped out of his house and, once reerected, he will be hanged on it.” This curse acquires its full rhetorical significance only if one reads it in connection with the reference to building lumber in the preceding section ([Ezr.]6:4). Thus, it appears as an ironic antithesis to Ezr. 6:4: Just as Cyrus and Darius finance the reconstruction of the “house of God” (6:3) by also supplying, among other things, the wood for its construction, so must any who oppose this project provide the wood for his gallows from his own house, which will ultimately destroy it. Thus, wood here becomes a sign both for blessing and for the fates of the various groups depending on the extent to which they agree with God’s plan.—Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, XVI, forthcoming (this is the Aramaic volume).

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