A comment on Ehud Ben Zvi's "total exile, empty land and the general intellectual discourse in Yehud"

Cezula, Ntozakhe (2017)

CITATION: Cezula, N. 2017. A comment on Ehud Ben Zvi's "total exile, empty land and the general intellectual discourse in Yehud". Old Testament Essays, 30(2):592-608, doi:10.17159/2312-3621/2017/v30n3a4

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Article

The Judeans of the pre-late-Persian period could not interpret the "empty land" myth other than in an inclusive manner. This approach is also reflected in Ezra-Nehemiah, according to Ehud Ben Zvi. This interpretation is clear from his social memory analysis of the penta-teuchal, Deuteronomistic history and prophetic literature. The logic in his argument is so persuasive that it compels a review of one's stance on the exclusivity of Ezra-Nehemiah. After some engagement with Ezra-Nehemiah, this paper offers the argument that Ezra-Nehe-miah is exclusive, and that the "empty land" myth is applied in an exclusive manner. Of great concern, however, is the fact that Ben Zvi's argument comes at a time when Africans are engaged in a quest for a biblical paradigm for a theology of reconstruction that is currently contemplated. Of more concern is that some scholars suggest Nehemiah as a paradigm for a theology of reconstruction in Africa, just as Moses and the Exodus, propound a theology of liberation. For historical reasons, this paper rejects Nehemiah as a biblical paradigm for a theology of reconstruction in Africa. This paper therefore engages with Ben Zvi's paper titled "Total Exile, Empty Land and the General Intellectual Discourse in Yehud" against this background.

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