The No-Name God
A Bible Study by Fred Kenison
Entrance into Canaan
After Moses died, Jehovah spoke to Joshua and told him to lead the people of Israel, revealing that he is the god, or leader, of Israel, and that he appoints their human leaders. Joshua will lead them into the promised land in order to fulfill the promise Jehovah made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
"Remember the word which Moses the servant of the lord (yehovah:H3068) commanded you, saying, The lord (yehovah:H3068) your god (‘elohiym:H430) hath given you rest, and hath given you this land." (Joshua 1:13).
When the people reached the Jordan river and were preparing to enter Canaan, the promised land, the officers went throughout the camp giving them Jehovah’s instructions:
"When you see the ark of the covenant of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) your god (‘elohiym:H430) with the priests the Levites carrying it, then you shall set out from your place, and follow it. Yet, a space there shall be between you and it, about two thousand cubits in the measure. Do not come near unto it in order that you may know the way you shall in it, for you have not passed this way before." (Joshua 3:3-4).
Jehovah’s presence in the ark of the covenant showed that he was still the leader of Israel.
Note carefully that it is Jehovah’s covenant which the people were to follow. This covenant represented his given word that he would deliver them into the promised land. The covenant was to guide them, and Jehovah expected absolute obedience from them.
When they came to the Jordan river, Jehovah instructed the people to stand still and await the parting of the waters. When Joshua followed Jehovah’s instructions, the waters were stayed, and the people crossed over.
"On that day Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) exulted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they stood in awe of him, as they had stood in awe of Moses all the days of his life." (Joshua 4:14).
Joshua 5 relates Jehovah’s instructions for Joshua to make flint knives with which he was to circumcise the people of Israel. All the men who had come out of Egypt, and who had been circumcised by Moses, had died in the wilderness. They died because of their disobedience, and of that group, Jehovah allowed only Joshua (an Israelite) and Caleb (a Gentile) to enter the promised land. Now, Joshua was again to make the sign of the covenant upon all the men of Israel that they, too, would know that they were to obey all of Jehovah’s precepts.
Following Jehovah’s command, Joshua began to enter the promised land. In all of this, Jehovah continually demonstrated his leadership of Israel. The people knew, without question, that they were conquering these lands by the power of Jehovah, not by their own power. Joshua 10:8 is only one example of many that could be cited.
"And Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) said to Joshua, Do not fear them for into your hands I have given them, for there shall not stand of them before you."
Time after time, this was the formula as the Israelites conquered the land promised to them.
In many instances, Jehovah instructed Joshua and army of Israel to utterly destroy the people of the cities they conquered. Joshua 10:28 is an example of this:
"And Joshua took Makkedah on that day and smote it with the edge of the sword. With its king, he utterly destroyed them every person in it. He left none remaining, and he did to the king of Makkedah as he had done to the king of Jericho."
Cases such as Makkedah cause some people to say that the god of the Old Testament was a cruel and merciless god. But, was he? By destroying every soul in Makkedah, Jehovah was attempting to protect the people from the false religions these people followed. He knew that if people adopted these false gods, it would destroy their usefulness for his purposes. The question involves which is more important in the eyes of Jehovah: the physical lives of people, or their spiritual well-being?
As time went on, the Israelites began to compromise Jehovah’s instructions, and they did not drive all the people out of the land, but allowed some to stay. Later scriptures will point out that this was a big mistake.
Earlier, Jehovah had told Moses how the land was to be divided once the people possessed the promised land. Much of the balance of Joshua concerns setting the boundaries for each part of the land given to each of the tribes of Israel. No land, however, was given to the Levites, who were to live on the tithes and offerings given by the people.
When Joshua was old, and the land had been divided, he called all the elders and officers of Israel together and, like Moses, warned them about the temptations to worship the local gods.
"Know assuredly that Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) you god (‘elohiym:H430) will not continue to drive out these nations before you, but they shall be for you a snare and a trap and a scourge on your sides and thorns in your eyes till you perish from off this good land which Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) your god (‘elohiym:H430) has given you." (Joshua 23:13).
Just as they had for Moses, the people promised Joshua that they would obey and worship only Jehovah. But, they did not.
After Joshua’s death, Jehovah set judges over Israel to express his will for them. The Israelites were now ensconced in the promised land, at least to a great degree. But, they had not yet taken all of the land because of their unbelief that Jehovah would be with them, strengthen them, and cause them to prevail over their enemies. Therefore, some of the richest lowlands were denied to them by the indigenous people, and some of the Israelite tribes had to dwell in the less productive hill country.
Judges 2:1-3 explained why Jehovah would no longer support some of the efforts to drive the occupants out of the land.
"Now went up the angel of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) from Gilgal to Bochim, and he said, I have brought you up from Egypt and brought you into the land which I swore to your fathers, and I said I will not break my covenant with you for ever. And you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land. You shall break down their altars. But you have not obeyed my voice; what is this you have done? So now I say I will not drive them out before you, but they shall become to you sides (snares), and their gods shall be to you a snare."
Jehovah clearly exhibited the attribute of punishment to those who deliberately disobeyed his instructions. Israel would have been greatly blessed if only they had obeyed! Now, however, they were being disciplined by Jehovah to bring them back to a place of blessing. These verses were written after the death of Joshua, but they refer to a historical incident. At that time the people, still under Joshua, repented, and Jehovah accepted that.
Judges 2:11-15 relates the result when the people sinned again.
"And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), and served the Baals, and they forsook Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) the god (‘elohiym:H430) of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. They went after other gods from among the gods of the peoples who were round about them, and bowed down to them, and they provoked the anger of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068). They forsook Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) and served Baal and the Ashtaroth. So the anger of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) was kindled against Israel and he gave them over to plunderers who plundered them, and he sold them into the power of their enemies round about so that they could no longer withstand their enemies. Whenever they marched out, the hand of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) was against them for evil, as Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) had warned and as Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) had sworn to them; and they were in sore straits."
Israel now began to experience a long spiral of incidences which would eventually result in their being cast out of the promised land. However, Jehovah’s longsuffering patience will delay this result for several hundred years. His patience must have been tried mightily with Israel’s pattern of repentance and disobedience.
Judges 2:16-17 exemplifies Jehovah’s attribute of patience.
"Then Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) raised up judges who saved them out of the power of those who plundered them. And yet they did not listen to their judges, for they played the harlot after other gods, and bowed down to them. They soon turned aside from the way in which their fathers had walked, who had obeyed the commandments of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), and they did not do so."
Reading of Israel’s repeated failures forces one to ask the question: How stupid can people be on a continuous basis?
Judges 3:9 shows that Jehovah was no respecter of persons.
"But when the people of Israel cried to Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) raised up a deliverer for the people of Israel who delivered them, Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother."
Jehovah did not raise up a blood descendant of Abraham, but the son of Kenaz, the younger brother of Caleb, the Gentile proselyte!
Again, Judges 3:10 shows that Jehovah will always endow those he calls to a special purpose with the power to accomplish that purpose.
"The spirit of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) came upon him, and he judged Israel, and he went out to war, and Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) gave into his hand Chushan-rishathaim, king of Mesopotamia (Aram), and his hand prevailed over Chushan-rishathaim."
Time after time, Jehovah raised up judges to deliver Israel from the messes brought about by their disobedience to him. The book of Judges repeatedly points out how the people "did evil in the sight of Jehovah."
It is in Judges that we discover Jehovah no longer spoke "face to face," as he did with Moses, but now spoke through his angel. The term "angel of Jehovah" appears with great frequency throughout Judges, as well as the term "the spirit of Jehovah." For example, when Gideon was called to deliver Israel from the Midianites, Judges 6:34 says that,
"the spirit of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) took possession of Gideon."
The term "took possession of" will become more common as our study progresses through the Bible. The KJV translates "took possession of " as "came upon." However, the idea conveyed is that Gideon, and others who had the same experience, were actually taken under the control of the spirit of Jehovah.
When the people wanted to make him ruler over Israel,
"Gideon said to them, I myself will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you; Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) will rule over you." (Judges 8:23).
This was quite commendable. However, he did ask that the Israelite men give him the gold earrings taken from the conquered people. They not only gave him the gold earrings, but also other gold items and purple clothing. What did Gideon do with these things? Judges 8:27 says,
"And Gideon made of it an ephod and put it in his city, in Ophrah, and all Israel played the harlot after it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and to his family."
Judges 8:34-35 points out that,
"And the people of Israel did not remember Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) their god (‘elohiym:H430), who had rescued from the hand of all their enemies on every side. And they did not show kindness to the family of Jerubbaal, Gideon, in return for all the good that he had done to Israel."
Judges 10:6 says,
"And again the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), and served the Baals and the Ashtaroth, the gods of Syria, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the Ammonites, and the gods of the Philistines, and forsook Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), and did not serve him."
The result of this was related in Judges 10:13-14, when Jehovah said,
"Yet you have forsaken me, and served other gods. Therefore, I will deliver you no more. Go and cry to the gods whom you have chosen. Let them deliver you in the time of your distress."
Even Jehovah eventually ran out of patience with a sinful people.
When Samson judged Israel, he became entangled in an affair with Delilah, a Philistine woman, which was eventually his undoing. Judges 16:28-30 describes the final events of Samson’s life.
"Then Samson called unto Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), and said, O lord (‘adonay:H136) Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O god (‘elohiym:H430), that I may be avenged, vengeance upon the Philistines for one of my two eyes. And Samson grasped the two middle pillars which the house rested on them, and he leaned upon them, his right hand on the one and his lefthand on the other. And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. Then he bowed with might, and the house fell upon the lords and upon all the people that were in it. So the dead were whom he slew at his death were more than he had slain during his life."
The word lord (adonay) might be more correctly understood as "master." It referred to those whom others are to serve. Service belonged to their master, Jehovah.
Eventually, as they continued to forsake their god, Jehovah, anarchy came to Israel. Judges 17:6 says,
"In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes."
Failing to worship Jehovah led to anarchy. Even today, when people mix true worship with the gods of materialism, the same characteristics of anarchy come into being.
Verse 17:6 was repeated as the last verse in Judges 21:25:
"In those days there was no king in Israel; a man did what was right in his own eyes."
Perhaps the spirit which moved upon the Old Testament writers wanted to be sure that people did not miss this point: Every man did what was right in his own eyes.
Ruth is a beautiful love story, relating to the wonderful relationship between a daughter-in-law and her mother-in-law. It also illustrated many of the customs of that day. The word Jehovah appears thirteen times, and the word god (‘elohiym:H430) appears four times; however, no new or different attributes of Jehovah were revealed in this book.
The first use of Jehovah occurs in I Samuel 1:3.
"Now this man went from his city from year to year to worship and to sacrifice to Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) of hosts at Shiloh, and there two of the sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068)."
Some maintain the term "lord of hosts" illustrates that Jehovah is the god of the heavenly hosts. In context, it seems to indicate Jehovah being in command of the Israelite army. However, it more often seems to refer to Jehovah as having a heavenly host at his command.
Elkanah’s wife, Hannah, was barren, but she dearly desired a child.
"And she [was] deeply distressed (bitter of soul), and prayed to Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), and bitterly. And she vowed a vow, and said, Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thy maidservant, and remember me, and not forget thy maidservant, but wilt give to thy maidservant a son (seed of men), then I will give him to Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) all the days of his life, and a razor shall not touch his head." (I Samuel 1:10-11).
Jehovah answered her prayer, and she bore a son, Samuel (I Samuel 1:20). This passage reveals that Jehovah does hear prayer, and often his answer affects the future of Israel far beyond anything that men might imagine. Jehovah clearly controls future events.
Later, when Samuel was born, Hannah brought him to Eli, the high priest who heard her praying to Jehovah for a child. She explained to Eli,
"Oh my lord (‘adown:H113), as you live, my lord (‘adown:H113), I am the woman who was standing in your presence here praying to Yahweh (yehovah:H3068). I prayed for this child, and Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) has granted me my petition which I made to him. Therefore, I have lent him to Yahweh (yehovah:H3068); all the days which he has he is lent to Yahweh (yehovah:H3068). And they worshiped Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) there." (I Samuel 1:26-28).
This provides the background for how Jehovah would use Samuel in the future. Note that when Hannah addressed Eli, the priest, she used the word, adonai, often translated as lord, but perhaps better understood as master. Adonai is the word used by someone who is subordinate to another, and to whom respect, and often obedience, is warranted.
As I Samuel continues, it shows the wisdom of Jehovah and his knowledge of the future. It also reveals at least part of the reason why he answered Hannah’s prayer for a son.
I Samuel 2:12 says about the sons of Eli:
"Now the sons of Eli [were] worthless men; they had no regard for Yahweh (yehovah:H3068)."
The term "worthless men" was translated in the KJV as "sons of Belial." Unfortunately, because of this translation, many teach that this means sons of the devil. Such a translation is misleading to say the least. What it actually means is that they were worthless to the cause of Jehovah. They were unfit to be priests after Eli; therefore, Jehovah was raising up Samuel. [For more discussion on "sons of Belial" or "sons of worthlessness," see Part V in our book, What Scripture Says About Salvation.]
I Samuel 3:1 says,
"Now the boy Samuel was ministering to Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) under Eli, and the word of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision."
Here is another attribute of Jehovah. When those called to be his ministers fail in the performance of their duties, the word becomes rare. There is no vision. Remember, of course, that this referred to the manner in which Jehovah spoke to his high priests at that time in history.
I Samuel 3:19-21 points out,
"And Samuel grew, and Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba knew that Samuel was established as a prophet of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068). And again Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) appeared at Shiloh, for Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068)."
Here is another attribute of Jehovah: as he worked through his high priests, he revealed himself "by the word."
Again and again, the people deserted the worship of Jehovah, and he brought neighboring nations against them. Then, Israel would repent, and the merciful Jehovah would again begin to work through them. However, the people of Israel eventually came to a crossroad in their relationship with Jehovah.
I Samuel 8:4-9 reports,
"Then all the elders of Israel gathered together, and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, Behold, you are old, and your sons do not walk not in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to govern us like all the nations. But the thing displeased in the eyes of Samuel when they said, Give us a king to govern us, and Samuel prayed to Yahweh (yehovah:H3068). And Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) said to Samuel, Hearken to the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but me they have rejected from being king over them. According to all the deeds which they have done from the day that I brought them out of Egypt, even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods. So are they doing also to you. Now then hearken to their voice. Only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them."
Not only did the people of Israel disobey Jehovah, as their king, but they desired a man to rule in his place.
Jehovah chose Saul to be king over Israel, and to let the people know that he was accepted, Eli said to him that,
"And the spirit of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) will come mightily upon you, and you shall prophesy with them, and be turned into another man." (I Samuel 10:6).
This shows another attribute of Jehovah. He takes a man, and by his spirit, turns him into a different man. The man upon whom he puts his spirit is changed.
Jehovah was not pleased when the people requested a king, and he expressed his displeasure.
"But you this day have rejected your god (‘elohiym:H430) who saves you from all your calamities and your distresses, and you have said, No, but a king set over us. Now therefore present yourselves before Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) by your tribes and by your thousands." (I Samuel 10:19).
This attitude was another expression of Adam’s sin. Adam wanted to be his own god, and so would these people be their own god by choosing a king over them instead of Jehovah.
The people asked Samuel, the prophet, to
"Pray for your servants to Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) your god (‘elohiym:H430), that we may not die, for we have added to all our sins this evil, to ask for ourselves a king." (I Samuel 12:19).
This states clearly that the prophet Samuel’s god was Jehovah . Earlier, we learned that Jehovah was also the god of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, and all the other prominent people mentioned. This is an important point, as we will see later.
I Samuel 15:2 shows another attribute of Jehovah. He may delay punishment, but he never forgets great sins against himself or Israel.
"Thus says Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) of hosts, I will punish Amalek what did to Israel, which he did to them on the way when they came up out of Egypt."
Exodus 17 describes how Amalek fought the Israelites on their way to the promised land. Until now, Jehovah had not punished him for that sin.
Poor King Saul was constantly in trouble with Jehovah. Jehovah sent him on a mission against Agag, king of the Amalekites, and said to utterly destroy him, and all the animals as well. However, Saul only partially obeyed, blaming the people for his inability to destroy the animals. He said to Samuel:
"But the people took of the spoil sheep and oxen, the best of the things devoted to destruction,to sacrifice to Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) your god (‘elohiym:H430) in Gilgal. And Samuel said, Has Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068)? Behold, to obey [is] better than sacrifice; to hearken than the fat of rams." (I Samuel 15:21-22).
This was the final insult for Jehovah. He told Samuel to anoint a son of Jesse as king over Israel to replace Saul. In his instructions to Samuel, Jehovah revealed another of his attributes.
"But Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) said to Samuel, Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For not as man sees, for man looks with the eyes, but Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) looks on the heart." (I Samuel 16:7).
Jehovah told Samuel to anoint David as king over Israel, which he did.
"Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers, and the spirit of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) came mightily upon David from that day forward." (I Samuel 16:13).
Although he had been anointed king, David would not take the throne for some time, because Saul continued to reign until his death.
Earlier, we said that the term "Jehovah of hosts" often meant that Jehovah was actually the one in command of the armies of Israel. This is verified in I Samuel 17:45:
"Then said David to the Philistine (Goliath), You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) of hosts, the god (‘elohiym:H430) of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied."
Again, when the word "name" is used as above it means power. "I come to you in the power of Jehovah."
David was successful in all he did because the spirit of Jehovah was upon him, and he was obedient. All of this success caused Saul to hate David, and he sought to destroy him by various plots, none of which succeeded.
The reason for David’s success is revealed in I Samuel 26:23, which also shows another attribute of Jehovah.
"Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) rewards every man for his righteousness and his faithfulness."
David obeyed Jehovah because he believed that Jehovah, his god, was a god who would reward these two characteristics of men.
II Samuel begins with the story of Saul’s death, and the death of Jonathan, his son. After Saul’s death, David was anointed king over Judah. Under the guidance of Jehovah, David began to consolidate the other tribes of Israel into one political entity for the first time. Before this, they had only been loosely allied upon special occasions.
II Samuel 7:14-16 says,
"I will be his father and he shall be my son. When he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men. And my steadfast love shall not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before thee. And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure for ever; before you, your throne shall be established for ever."
Some believe that the phrase, "I shall be his father, and he shall be my son," is a statement made only when declaring that Jehovah had anointed someone to be king. Prophets, priests, and others appointed to a special duty were also spoken of as being a son, and Jehovah as being a father to them. Clearly, Jehovah had revealed himself as the one who controls the history of mankind, even determining who will sit upon a throne far into the future.
II Samuel 7:25-26 says,
"And now, O Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) god (‘elohiym:H430), the word which thou hast spoken concerning thy servant, and concerning his house, confirm for ever and do as thou hast spoken. And thy name will be magnified for ever, saying, Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) of hosts is god (‘elohiym:H430) over Israel, and the house of thy servant David will be established before thee."
Again, this clearly states that Jehovah is the god over Israel, or at least this is David’s perception. However, we will show later that David did not know all there was to know about Jehovah’s position in the scheme of things.
David became involved in an adulterous relationship with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah. She became pregnant, and David, in desperation, had Uriah sent up to the front lines. He instructed the commander of the army to withdraw when the battle began, and leave Uriah there to die, essentially, committing murder (see II Samuel 11:1-27).
Jehovah was displeased with this, and pronounced sentence upon David:
"Thus says Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house, and I will take your wives before your eyes and give (them) to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. For you did (it) secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun. David said to Nathan, I have sinned against Yahweh (yehovah:H3068). And Nathan said to David, Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) also has put away your sin; you shall not die. Nevertheless, because you have utterly scorned the enemies of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) by this deed, also the child that is born to you shall die." (II Samuel 12:11-14).
Note carefully that Nathan did not say that Jehovah had forgiven David’s sin, but that he had "put it away." [For further study of this issue, see our book, The Truth Revealed in Romans, especially Chapter 3.]
All that Jehovah promised would happen to David did happen. His own son, Absalom, tried to usurp his throne, and when David was compelled to flee, his son took some of David’s wives up on a roof top, in plain view of all Israel, and
"went in to them." (II Samuel 6:20-22).
In those days, this was a clear indication that the king was no longer in control of his kingdom, and that someone else had taken over. The history of Absalom’s treachery, and his final destiny, are described in II Samuel 17, 18.
There are many places in II Samuel 18-19 where David is addressed as lord. The word used is adonai, which means master, or lord, or the one to whom one owes service and obedience. Although this is the usual meaning, the term may also be used to indicate respect. Lord, adonai, signified someone who was greater in power than those addressing him.
II Samuel 22 contains a song that David sang to Jehovah celebrating his deliverance, or salvation, from all the evil that had come about in his life. Verse 22:32 clarifies again who David regards as his god.
"For who is god (‘el:H410), but Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), and who is a rock, except our god (‘elohiym:H430)?"
David recognizes Jehovah as his god, and also the rock often spoken of in the Old Testament. He repeats essentially this same thought in verse 22:47:
"Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) lives, and blessed be my rock, and exalted be the god (‘elohiym:H430) of the rock of my salvation."
The word rock is often used as a term indicating safety and support.
I Kings 1:1-5 relates a story of King David’s old age, and the test which would indicate if he had the stamina to rule Israel.
"Now King David was old, advanced in years, and they covered him with clothes [but] he could not get warm. Therefore, his servants said to him, Let be sought for my lord the king a young maiden, and let her wait before the king and be his nurse. Let her lie in your bosom, that you may be warm, for my lord the king. So they sought a beautiful maiden throughout all the territory of Israel, and found Abishag, the Shunammite, and brought her to the king. The maiden was very beautiful, and she became nurse to the king and ministered to him, but the king knew her not. Then, Adonijah, the son of Haggith, exalted himself, saying, I will be king. And he prepared for himself chariots and horsemen and fifty men to run before him."
This was a common test in that day to see if a king was physically fit to rule the nation. If he was unable to know (physically) a young maiden, then the people began to look for another king.
There were always those like Adonijah who were willing to risk their lives to become king by promoting themselves. But, there were also politics to be considered in those days, even as now. Bathsheba reminded King David that he had sworn to her that her son, Solomon, would reign after David. So, David acquiesced to her plea, and Solomon was made king instead of Adonijah, who had already begun his reign (see I Kings 1:38-40).
I Kings 1:36 again states that Jehovah was the god of David, the king.
"And Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada, answered the king (and said), Amen. May Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) the god (‘elohiym:H430) of my lord (‘adown:H113) the king say so."
Earlier in the study we noted that the main players all acknowledged that Jehovah was their god, as well as the god of Israel.
After Adonijah heard that Solomon was king, he fled to the altar, and took hold of the horns of it for safety, expecting that Solomon, according to the custom, would slay him. Solomon, however, told him that no harm would come to him if he behaved himself. But, Adonijah, either recklessly or unknowingly, had Bathsheba go to Solomon and ask that Abishag, the young maiden brought in to warm king David, be given to him as a wife.
This was tantamount to an attempt to unseat Solomon. Whenever another man took a king’s concubine, it was understood as a sign that he was seeking to become king. Solomon recognized the danger of this mistake and sentenced Adonijah to death.
This small bit of history illustrates a point concerning the will of Jehovah. Although he intended to set up Solomon as king, it was carried out through the political process of the time in Israel. The point, though, is that Jehovah chose the kings of Israel at that time (see I Kings 2- 4).
Jehovah had earlier ( I Samuel 2:35-36) told Eli that none of his sons would continue as priests after Eli died. It was Solomon who expelled Abiathar, the priest, from serving Jehovah,
"And to Abiathar the priest the king said, Go to Anathoth, to your estate; for you are a man of death, but I will not put you to death at this time because you bore the ark of the lord (‘adonay:H136) Yahweh (yehovih:H3069) before David my father, and because you shared in all that my father was afflicted. So Solomon expelled Abiathar from being priest to Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), thus fulfilling the word of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) which he had spoken concerning the house of Eli in Shiloh." (I Kings 2:26-27).
Priests earned their livelihood from the offerings of the people, and when Abiathar was expelled, he was no longer given the priestly food, which meant he would fall upon hard times.
Solomon also announced that Jehovah was his god.
"And now, O Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) my god (‘elohiym:H430), thou hast made thy servant king in the place of David my father, although I am but a little child. I do not know how to go out or come in." (I Kings 3:7).
Solomon asked Jehovah for wisdom to rule, and Jehovah granted it to him.
"And god (‘elohiym:H430) gave wisdom to Solomon, and understanding beyond measure, and largeness of mind, like the sand on the sea shore." (I Kings 5:9).
Hence, we know that Jehovah, from whom wisdom was requested, is the god who gave it. This shows another attribute of Jehovah: he provided what was necessary for the task at hand.
Solomon was usually addressed by others as "my adonai," or my lord. The same was often true whenever someone spoke of Jehovah. The word adonai was used to express their subservience to the king, as well as their subservience to Jehovah.
Four hundred and eighty years after the Israelites left Egypt, Solomon began to build a house for Jehovah. This was in the fourth year of his reign as king over Israel. After completing the temple at Jerusalem, and after a long prayer of dedication and entreaty for Jehovah’s blessing, Jehovah appeared to Solomon in a dream.
"And Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) said to him, I have heard your prayer and your supplication which you have made before me. I have consecrated this house which you have built, and put my name there for ever; and my eyes and my heart shall be there for all time." (I Kings 9:3).
The word "name" signifies that the power of Jehovah would be present in that place.
Solomon later put himself in a place of temptation, and consequently found that his dedication was divided between Jehovah and the gods of his many wives. I Kings 11:1-4 says:
"Now King Solomon loved many foreign women, the daughter of Pharaoh, Moabite women, Ammonite women, Edomite women, Sidonian women, and Hittite women from the nations concerning which Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) had said to the people of Israel, You shall not enter (into marriage) with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn your heart away after their gods. Solomon clung to these in love. He had wives, seven hundred princesses, and three hundred concubines, and his wives turned away his heart. And it was when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) his god (‘elohiym:H430), as was the heart of David, his father."
Note that Solomon did not stop worshiping Jehovah, but his heart was not wholly true because he also worshiped other gods.
I Kings 11:11-12 points out that,
"Therefore, Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) said to Solomon, Since this has been with you, and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you, and will give it to your servant. Yet in your days I will not do it for the sake of David, your father. I will tear it out of the hand of your son."
The phrase "for the sake of David, your father" appears several more times in this chapter. Later, we also find that Jehovah told Solomon that the kingdom would be divided, and only the tribes of Judah and Benjamin would remain with his descendants (I Kings 11:29-32). The attribute of Jehovah illustrated here is that he does not, and will not, tolerate divided loyalty, not even from a king!
I Kings provides a litany of the different kings who ruled over Judah, and the kings who ruled over the ten tribes of Israel. For the most part, they were disobedient to the laws and statutes of Jehovah. Occasionally, however, a king arose who walked in the ways of David, such as Asa.
I Kings 17 describes how Elijah was instructed by Jehovah to go into the home of a widow and her son, and request that she bake bread for him (I Kings 17:9-16). She responded that she only had a very little meal and oil left, and to do as he requested would deplete her small supply. Nevertheless, Elijah insisted, and she did as he wished. Consequently, Jehovah kept replenishing the oil and meal in her containers as long as Elijah stayed with her.
Later, the woman’s son died, and she said to Elijah,
"What have you against me, O man of god (‘elohiym:H430)? You have come to me to bring my sin to remembrance and to cause the death of my son. And he said to her, Give me your son. And he took him from her bosom and carried him up into the upper chamber where he lodged (there), and laid him upon his own bed. And he cried to Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), and said, O Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) my god (‘elohiym:H430), hast even upon the widow, hast thou brought calamity with whom I sojourn by slaying her son? Then he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried to Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), and said, O Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) my god (‘elohiym:H430), let the breath of this child come again into him. And Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) hearkened to the voice of Elijah, and the breath of the child came again into him, and he was revived." (I Kings 17:18-22).
The ability to restore life to the dead is another attribute of Jehovah.
l Kings 18:24 is another scripture illustrating that the word "name" is often used to mean power.
"And you call on the name of your god (‘elohiym:H430), and I will call on the name of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068); (and it will be) the god (‘elohiym:H430) who answers by fire, he is god (‘elohiym:H430). And all the people answered, and said the thing is good."
Elijah was putting the god, Baal, to the acid test to determine whether or not he could produce fire to devour the offerings. Later, after the priests of Baal called and called, Jehovah sent fire and devoured the offerings, the wood, and the stones (I Kings 18:38). This illustrates another attribute of Jehovah: he is sometimes willing to go to great extremes, producing great miracles, in order to convince people that he is their god.
I Kings 19:14 relates that Elijah felt he was the only one left to serve Jehovah.
"He said, I have been very jealous for Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) the god (‘elohiym:H430) of hosts, for the people of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, have thrown down thy altars, and have slain thy prophets with the sword. And I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away."
I Kings 19:18 relates Jehovah’s answer to Elijah.
"Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him."
These verses are a good reminder for those who feel they are the only ones around trying to serve god.
This book continues the histories of the kings of Judah and Israel. It also contributes additional knowledge about the attributes and attitudes of Jehovah, the god of Israel and Judah. The common mistake of most of the kings cited so far, is that they believed they could practice a synergistic religion, that they could worship Jehovah along with other gods, too.
The first two chapters relate the end of Elijah's time, and the beginning of Elisha’s time as "the man of god." II Kings 2:1 describes the beginning of a journey taken by Elijah and Elisha, while they awaited Elijah’s departure. First, the two went to Gilgal, which means separation. This came from Jehovah’s statement to Joshua after he had circumcised the men of Israel:
"And the lord (yehovah:H3068) said unto Joshua, This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you. Wherefore the name of the place is called Gilgal unto this day."
The people of Israel were separated to Jehovah by their circumcision.
Elijah and Elisha also went to Beth-el, which means consecration (see Genesis 35:1-6). Finally, they came to Jericho, the city which was taken by faith in Jehovah, that by his power, the city would be taken (see Joshua 6:12-21).
The journey of Elijah and Elisha took them from separation, to consecration, to faith. This symbolizes the journey we must all take.
Before Elijah departed, he asked Elisha what he desired from him. Elisha requested a double portion of the spirit which was upon Elijah, and Jehovah granted his request. The attribute of Jehovah illustrated is this: Jehovah will often grant any request for someone who is totally consecrated to him, especially if the request is an unselfish one.
Elijah disappeared rather abruptly and spectacularly while he and Elisha were walking together.
"And as they still went on and talked, and behold a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven." (II Kings 2:11).
Despite all the preaching that Elijah was taken up to heaven in a fiery chariot, that is not what the scriptures say. Elijah went up in a whirlwind.
Before leaving this part about Elijah and Elisha, II Chronicles 21:12 says that while Jehoram was ruling in Judah, he received a letter from Elijah. According to the chronicles, this would be after Elijah had been taken up in a whirlwind. This raises an interesting question: How far up did Elijah go? Was he taken up to be with Jehovah, as it is usually taught, or was he only retired from his office as a prophet and deposited somewhere else?
Again, it should be noted that Elisha also served Jehovah. II Kings 3:14 says,
"And Elisha said, As Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) of hosts lives, whom I serve."
An interesting sidelight in this portion of scripture is that the word "hosts" is a proper name. Earlier, when the term "god of hosts" was used, it was not written in the Hebrew as a proper name. The reason for this may be that when Jehovah, a proper name, is used the word "hosts" is also written as a proper name. When the word "god," a common noun was used, "hosts" was also written as a common noun.
Another interesting point is brought out in II Kings. With the advent of prophets, or, as written in the singular, a man of god, the scriptures were showing the power of Jehovah, through them, to bring back the dead to life (for example, see II Kings 4:32-35). Earlier, I Kings 17:22 told how Elijah had restored life to a dead child. This a another attribute of Jehovah: he can restore life to the dead!
Jehu was anointed king with the direct order from Jehovah to kill Ahab, the evil king who had killed the prophets, the men of god (II Kings 9:6-8).
"So he arose, and went into the house and poured the oil on his head, saying to him, Thus says Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) the god (‘elohiym:H430) of Israel, I anoint you king over the people of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), over Israel. And you shall strike down the house of Ahab, your master, that I may avenge the blood of my servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) on the hand of Jezebel. For the whole house of Ahab shall perish, and I will cut off from Ahab every male (literally, urinating against a wall), bond or free in Israel."
Here, again, although sin may not immediately be punished, Jehovah definitely did not forget.
After Ahab and Joram were slain in a battle, Jehu recalled an oracle from Jehovah.
"As surely as I saw the blood the blood of Naboth and the blood of his sons yesterday, says Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), I will requite you on this plot of ground, says Yahweh (yehovah:H3068). Now therefore take up and cast him on the plot of ground, according to the word of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068)." (II Kings 9:26. ).
Ahab and Jezebel, his wife, had coveted the vineyard of Naboth, and they killed Naboth and his sons just to get the land they desired instead of buying it from them. Years later, Jehu fulfilled the prophecy of Jehovah.
Even after seeing the judgment of Jehovah upon Ahab, which he himself carried out, Jehu later caused Israel to sin by leading them away to false gods (I Kings 16:1-3).
There were several kings after Jehu; some were evil, and some walked in the path of Jehovah. But, Jehovah had made a promise to Jehu, which II Kings 15:12 says he kept.
"This was the promise of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) which he spake to Jehu, saying, The sons of the fourth generation shall sit for you upon the throne of Israel. And so it came to pass."
Jehovah always keeps his word!
The people of Israel did not completely turn away from worshiping Jehovah, but mixed that worship with also worshiping the idols of the heathen people around them. II Kings 17:33 says,
"They feared Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), but they also served their own gods (‘elohiym:H430) after the manner of the nations from among whom they had been carried away."
Jehovah was not pleased with this. He repeatedly told the people of Israel, "I am a jealous god." Jehovah never accepted a synergistic kind of worship, but treated it as though he were not worshiped at all!
The king of Assyria brought a great army to take Jerusalem, and the messengers he sent made a mockery of Hezekiah’s god, Jehovah. They argued that the god of Assyria was much stronger than Hezekiah’s god, and that he was foolish to trust his god for deliverance from their great army.
Then, another attribute of Jehovah is recorded in II Kings 19:22, 32-35.
"Whom have you mocked and reviled, and against whom have you raised your voice and haughtily lifted your eyes against the holy one of Israel?...Therefore, thus says Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) to the king of Assyria, He shall not come to this city or shoot an arrow here, or come before it with a shield, or cast up a mound against it. By the way that he came he shall return, and into this city he shall not come, says Yahweh (yehovah:H3068). For I will defend this city to save it for my own sake, and for the sake of David, my servant. And that night the angel of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) went forth and slew in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and eighty-five thousand. And when the men arose early in the morning, behold these were all dead bodies."
The attribute of Jehovah illustrated here is that Jehovah is not mocked by anyone. He is able, and willing, to defend his name. We see little of such defense now in this age of grace, but judgment is coming!
II Kings 20:5 records the words spoken to Isaiah, a prophet in the time of King Hezekiah.
"Turn back and say to Hezekiah, the prince of my people, Thus says Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), the god (‘elohiym:H430) of David your father, I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears. Behold, I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068)."
Still, Hezekiah doubted, which is such a human characteristic. Isaiah reassured him by describing another attribute of Jehovah in II Kings 20:9-11.
"And Isaiah said, This is the sign to you from Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), that Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) will do the thing that he has promised: shall the shadow go forward ten steps, or go back ten steps? And Hezekiah answered, It is an easy thing for the shadow to lengthen ten steps; rather let the shadow go back backwards ten steps. And Isaiah the prophet cried to Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), and he brought the shadow back on the steps which it had declined, on the steps of Ahaz, ten degrees backwards."
Jehovah keeps any promise he makes!
Under some of the kings, various cults became rampant, and the people seldom worshiped Jehovah. One of the worst examples of this is found in II Kings 23:7, which recorded part of the history of King Josiah, who attempted to cleanse Israel of false religions.
"And he broke down the houses of the cult prostitutes which were in the house of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), where the women wove there hangings (tent-shrines) for the Asherah."
An asherah was a wooden image of the goddess Ashtoreth, and was usually so large that it was implanted in the ground. Scholars believe that it sometimes may have been a large tree which was worshiped by the Sidonians and the apostate Israelites. The sexual orgies with the temple prostitutes which were associated with this type of worship probably took place in these tent shrines. This was actually occurring in the temple of Jehovah! No wonder he removed the people from the land he had given them, just as he had promised he would if they served the false gods of the area.
The removal from the promised land is recorded in II Kings 24:12-14.
"And Jehoiachin, the king of Judah, went out to the king of Babylon, himself and his mother, and his servants, and his princes, and his palace officials. And the king of Babylon took him in the eighth year of his reign, and carried off from there all the treasures of the house of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), and the treasures of the king's house, and cut in pieces all the vessels of gold which Solomon, king of Israel, had made in the temple of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), as Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) had foretold. He carried away all Jerusalem, and all the princes, and all the mighty men of valor, ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and the smiths. None remained, except the poorest people of the land."
They would spend 70 years in Babylon as captives. Why 70 years? They were supposed to let the land lie idle every seventh year. They had not done this for the last 490 years. Therefore, they would spend one year for each of those years they had continued to harvest the land in disobedience to the law of Jehovah. For 70 years they would not be allowed back into the land of Judah.
# Note carefully that it is Jehovah’s covenant which the people were to
follow. This covenant represented his given word that he would deliver
them into the promised land. The covenant was to guide them, and
Jehovah expected absolute obedience from them.
# The people knew, without question, that they were conquering these
lands by the power of Jehovah, not by their own power.
# The question involves which is more important in the eyes of Jehovah:
the physical lives of people, or their spiritual well-being?
# No land was given to the Levites, because they were to live on the tithes
and offerings given by the people.
# Israel now began to experience a long spiral of incidences which would
eventually result in their being cast out of the promised land. However,
Jehovah’s longsuffering patience will delay this result for several
# Jehovah did not raise up a blood descendant of Abraham, but the son
of Kenaz, the younger brother of Caleb, the Gentile proselyte!
# It is in Judges that we discover Jehovah no longer spoke "face to face,"
as he did with Moses, but now spoke through his angel.
# Gideon, and others, were actually taken under the control of the spirit
# Even Jehovah eventually ran out of patience with a sinful people.
# Failing to worship Jehovah led to anarchy
# Jehovah does hear prayer, and often his answer affects the future far
beyond anything that men might imagine. Jehovah clearly controls
# Not only did the people of Israel disobey Jehovah, as their king, but
they desired a man to rule in his place. Adam wanted to be his own
god, and so would these people be their own god by choosing a king
over them instead of Jehovah.
# The prophet Samuel’s god was Jehovah . Earlier, we learned that
Jehovah was also the god of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, and
all the other prominent people mentioned. This is an important point,
as we will see later.
# David was successful in all he did because he was obedient to the spirit
of Jehovah which was upon him.
# Under the guidance of Jehovah, David began to consolidate the other
tribes of Israel into one political entity for the first time. Before this,
they had only been loosely allied upon special occasions.
# Some believe that the phrase, "I shall be his father, and he shall be my
son," is a statement made only when declaring that Jehovah had
anointed someone to be king. However, prophets, priests, and others
appointed to a special duty were also spoken of as being a son, and
Jehovah as being a father to them.
# The word "name" signifies that the power of Jehovah would be present
in that place.
# Note that Solomon did not stop worshiping Jehovah, but his heart was
not wholly true because he also worshiped other gods.
# The common mistake of most of the kings cited so far, is that they
believed they could practice a synergistic religion, that they could
worship Jehovah along with other gods, too.
# Jehovah never accepted a synergistic kind of worship, but treated it as
though he were not worshiped at all!
# The journey of Elijah and Elisha took them from separation, to
consecration, to faith. This symbolizes the journey we must all take.
# Jehovah will often grant any request for someone who is totally
consecrated to him, especially if the request is an unselfish one.
# The Israelites would spend 70 years in Babylon as captives. Why 70
years? They were supposed to let the land lie idle every seventh year.
They had not done this for the last 490 years. Therefore, they would
spend one year for each of those years they had continued to harvest
the land in disobedience to the law of Jehovah.
# Jehovah is the god, or leader, of Israel, and he appoints their human
# Jehovah punished those who deliberately disobeyed his instructions.
# Jehovah is no respecter of persons.
# Jehovah will always endow those he calls to a special purpose with the
power to accomplish that purpose.
# Jehovah does hear prayer.
# Jehovah clearly controls future events.
# Jehovah revealed himself "by the word" as he worked through his high
# Jehovah takes a man, and by his spirit, turns him into a different man.
The man upon whom he puts his spirit is changed.
# Jehovah may delay punishment, but he never forgets great sins against
himself or Israel.
# Men look with the eyes, but Jehovah looks on the heart.
# Jehovah rewards every man for his righteousness and his faithfulness.
# Although Jehovah's will was to set up Solomon as king, this was carried
out through the political process of the time in Israel. The point,
though, is that Jehovah chose the kings of Israel at that time
# Jehovah provided what was necessary for the task at hand.
# The attribute of Jehovah illustrated here is that he does not, and will
not, tolerate divided loyalty, not even from a king!
# Jehovah has the ability to restore life to the dead.
# Jehovah is sometimes willing to go to great extremes, producing great
miracles, in order to convince people that he is their god.
# Jehovah keeps any promise he makes! He always keeps his word!
# Jehovah is not mocked by anyone. He is able, and willing, to defend his
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