Another school writing assignment, this time from my Bible Survey class (read my last essay from my Education class here). For this project, we were to write three mock Bible Dictionary entries, one about a book of the Bible, one about a Bible character, and one about a place mentioned in the Bible. Each “entry” was supposed to be about 200-250 words, which, let me tell you, was quite a challenge–not to meet the minimum, but to be within the maximum! For me, it’s much harder to bring down my word count than it is to bring it up! 🙂 However, it’s very good for me, as it increases my clarity and conciseness. I received a grade of 96% for this assignment, the docked points mostly for some grammatical errors, but also for the fact that I unnecessarily cited some common knowledge.
Biblical Book: Jeremiah
The book of Jeremiah falls within the prophetical genre. It was written by Jeremiah (1:1) and Baruch, his scribe (Hindson & Towns, 2013) sometime after God’s first message came to Jeremiah in the thirteenth year of Josiah’s reign (1:2), around 627 B.C. (Hindson & Towns, 2013). The latest date mentioned is the first year of Evil-Merodach’s reign in Babylon (52:31), or 562 B.C. (Horn, 1960). The book’s key themes include Israel and Judah’s stubborn sinfulness and God’s warning of coming punishment, Jeremiah’s “laments, complaints, and confessions” (Hindson & Towns, 2013, p. 237), and the priests’ and false prophets’ promise of coming peace and safety. The latter part of the book describes the coming judgment on the inhabitants of Egypt, Babylon, and other idolatrous nations. The purpose of Jeremiah is to show God’s justice toward His covenant people. Even though He punished them for their sins, He promised to one day deliver and restore them (16:14-15). Major events portrayed in this book include Jeremiah’s confrontations with the false prophet Hananiah, his revision of another prophetic scroll after King Jehoiakim burned the first, his deliverance from death in a cistern, his release, and finally his forced flight to Egypt. Also described is Jerusalem’s destruction and the three deportations to Babylon, Gedaliah’s murder and Ishmael’s rampage, and the remaining Israelites’ disobedient flight to Egypt and their idolatry there. The narrative revolves around the personalities of Jeremiah, Baruch, and Kings Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah, among others.
Biblical Character: Rahab
Rahab’s story is found in Joshua, chapters two and six. Though it is impossible to know the exact dates of her lifespan, she was obviously alive at the fall of Jericho, which could have occurred anywhere between 1405 and 1399 B.C. (Hindson & Towns, 2013). Also, Joshua 6:25 indicates that Rahab was still alive when the book was authored (between 1380 and 1370 B.C. [Hindson & Towns, 2013]). Though not specifically stated in the Bible, Rahab’s birthplace was probably Jericho, since all her father’s household dwelt there (Josh. 2:13). Rahab was a harlot when living in Jericho (Josh. 2:1). When the Israelites came in to possess the land under Joshua’s leadership, Rahab successfully hid two Israelite spies and helped them escape from the king of Jericho’s men. In return for her kindness to them, she secured their promise that she and her family would be dealt with kindly. When the Lord brought down the walls of Jericho, Rahab and all her father’s household were spared and brought to the camp of Israel (Josh. 6:23). Rahab’s contemporaries included Joshua, Salmon, and Boaz. Her marriage to Salmon (Matt. 1:5) and the birth of her son Boaz made her an “ancestress of King David and of Jesus Christ” (Horn, 1960, p. 901). Rahab leaves a legacy of action-filled faith and belief (Josh. 2:11; Heb. 11:31; James 2:25). Her story shows God’s love toward and willingness to redeem those not of His “chosen people,” even to include them in the Messianic lineage.
Biblical Place: Nineveh
The city of Nineveh is central to the Biblical books of Jonah and Nahum. It was built after the flood by either Shem’s son Asshur or by Nimrod (Smith, 2002). The Babylonians eventually conquered and destroyed the city in 612 B.C. (Hindson & Towns, 2013; Horn, 1960). Nineveh is located on the Tigris River in modern-day Iraq just above the branch of the Great or Upper Zab River, not far from Mosul. From a Biblical perspective, Nineveh was home to the Assyrians that the Israelites so often contended with, including king Sennacherib (2 Kings 19:36). Nineveh’s centralized, river-side location provided excellent opportunities for trade (Hindson & Towns, 2013). The Assyrians of Nineveh were a blatantly idolatrous and pagan nation. Second Kings 19:37 makes mention of King Sennacherib worshiping a god named Nisroch, the “eagle-headed human” (Smith, 2002, p. 452). Ninevites were also prolific worshipers of Ishtar (Horn, 1960). Moreover, the Assyrians often boasted of their extremely violent and brutal acts (Hindson & Towns, 2013). The whole city repented of their sins with sackcloth and ashes after the warning of Jonah (most likely between 793 and 753 B.C. [Hindson & Towns, 2013]), but the revival must not have lasted; later Nahum described the city as the “mistress of sorceries” (Nahum 3:4), and both Nahum and Zephaniah prophesied the city’s final destruction. Still, in New Testament times, Jesus stated that the Israelites who did not believe in Him would be condemned by the Ninevites who had heeded Jonah’s warning (Matt. 12:41).
Hindson, E., & Towns, E. (2013). Illustrated Bible survey: An introduction. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group.
Horn, S. H. (1960). Seventh-day Adventist Bible dictionary. Washington, D.C.: Review & Herald Publishing Association.
Smith, W. (2002). Smith’s Bible Dictionary. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.