Tuesday, June 16, 2020

God and chance

But here too YHWH is shown to operate in a fashion that is not altogether different from the ways of chance. There is first the matter of the suppertime test: Why can David and Jonathan not just ask YHWH whether Saul is dangerous? Why construct an elaborate randomizer based on what might or might not happen at the meal? Then there is the follow-up procedure introduced by Jonathan to contact David and inform him that the coast is clear once the meal is over: Jonathan will shoot three arrows in a field and employ coded phrases when he calls out for his servant to retrieve them (1 Sam 20:17–22). Not only was this type of activity with arrows a standard form of divination in the ancient world (belomancy), it is “theologized” in this biblical narrative as indicative of YHWH’s will (v. 22: “Then leave, for yhwh has sent you away”; my emphasis). Once more YHWH is depicted as similar to chance while simultaneously being differentiated from it.—Stephen B. Chapman in Divine Doppelgängers: YHWH’s Ancient Look-Alikes, 192

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