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以斯帖記 - 一個看不見神的世代

第十二課 - 第二幕(一) - 哈曼陰謀除滅猶大人

經文:斯二:19 - 三:6

主旨: 末底改破壞了暗殺亞哈隨魯王的陰謀,雖然名字被記錄在史冊,但沒有獲得獎賞﹔亞甲族人哈曼得晉升,因末底改不肯跪拜他而怒火中燒,開始設計要滅絕猶大族。

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1。斯二:19 - 23  “19第二次招聚處女的時候,末底改(Mordecai)坐在朝門。20以斯帖(Esther)照著末底改所囑咐的,還沒有將籍貫宗族告訴人,因為以斯帖遵末底改的命,如撫養她的時候一樣。21當那時候,末底改坐在朝門,王的太監中有兩個守門的辟探(Bigthan)和提列(Teresh),惱恨亞哈隨魯王(Ahasuerus 或薛西一世 Xerxes I,486BC-465BC),想要下手害他。22末底改知道了,就告訴王后以斯帖。以斯帖奉末底改的名,報告于王。23究察這事,果然是實,就把二人挂在木頭上,將這事在王面前寫于歷史上。”

《新譯本》:19第二次召集處女的時候,末底改坐在朝門那里。20以斯帖照著末底改吩咐她的,沒有把自己的身世和種族告訴人﹔末底改所說的話,以斯帖都遵行,就像昔日養育她的時候一樣。21那時,末底改坐在朝門那里,王有兩個守門的太監:辟探和提列,一時因為惱怒,正想下手害亞哈隨魯王。22這陰謀給末底改知道了,他就告訴王后以斯帖﹔以斯帖便以末底改的名義對王說起這事。23那陰謀查究起來,就發現真相﹔于是把二人懸挂在木架上。這事在王面前曾寫于史記。

KJV:19 And when the virgins were gathered together the second time, then Mordecai sat in the king's gate. 20 Esther had not yet shewed her kindred nor her people; as Mordecai had charged her: for Esther did the commandment of Mordecai, like as when she was brought up with him. 21 In those days, while Mordecai sat in the king's gate, two of the king's chamberlains, Bigthan and Teresh, of those which kept the door, were wroth, and sought to lay hand on the king Ahasuerus. 22 And the thing was known to Mordecai, who told it unto Esther the queen; and Esther certified the king thereof in Mordecai's name. 23 And when inquisition was made of the matter, it was found out; therefore they were both hanged on a tree: and it was written in the book of the chronicles before the king.


“第二次招聚處女的時候,末底改(Mordecai)坐在朝門。”  --  我們不知道“第二次招聚處女”指的是什么時候,總之這是發生在以斯帖被立為王后之后。

“末底改(Mordecai)坐在朝門”  --  《以斯帖記》有很多次提到“朝門”(gate house) :

斯二:19,21  第二次招聚處女的時候,末底改坐在朝門。。。當那時候,末底改坐在朝門,王的太監中有兩個守門的辟探和提列,惱恨亞哈隨魯王,想要下手害他。

斯三:2,3  在朝門的一切臣仆,都跪拜哈曼,因為王如此吩咐﹔惟獨末底改不跪不拜。在朝門的臣仆問末底改說:“你為何違背王的命令呢?”

斯四:2,6  到了朝門前停住腳步,因為穿麻衣的不可進朝門。。。于是,哈他革出到朝門前的寬闊處見末底改。

斯五:9  那日,哈曼心中快樂,歡歡喜喜地出來,但見末底改在朝門不站起來,連身也不動,就滿心惱怒末底改。

斯五:13  只是我見猶大人末底改坐在朝門,雖有這一切榮耀,也與我無益。

斯六:10,12  王對哈曼說:“你速速將這衣服和馬,照你所說的,向坐在朝門的猶大人末底改去行。凡你所說的,一樣不可缺。”。。末底改仍回到朝門﹔哈曼卻憂憂悶悶地蒙著頭,急忙回家去了。。

朝門(gate house)在哪里?請看第七課。它在王宮以北80米,有通道連接正宮﹔朝門 40米X28米,占約 1200方米面積﹔朝門中房是 21米正方形,四角有 12-13米的高柱。末底改能坐在朝門顯示他在宮中不是一個小官。

“以斯帖(Esther)照著末底改所囑咐的,還沒有將籍貫宗族告訴人,因為以斯帖遵末底改的命,如撫養她的時候一樣。”  --  我在上一課已經解釋,這里不再重復。

“當那時候,末底改坐在朝門,王的太監中有兩個守門的辟探(Bigthan)和提列(Teresh),惱恨亞哈隨魯王(Ahasuerus 或薛西一世 Xerxes I,486BC-465BC),想要下手害他。末底改知道了,就告訴王后以斯帖。以斯帖奉末底改的名,報告于王。究察這事,果然是實,就把二人挂在木頭上,將這事在王面前寫于歷史上。”  --  暗殺帝王,或暗殺總理等事件古今中外都有,不足為怪﹔只是聖經沒有告訴我們何以“王的太監中有兩個守門的辟探(Bigthan)和提列(Teresh),惱恨亞哈隨魯王。。”要下手害他。這里再次讓我們看到上帝那只看不見的手所安排的兩件事:

一、“當那時候,末底改坐在朝門。。”--  暗殺計划進行時,末底改正好坐在朝門。

二、“末底改知道了,就告訴王后以斯帖。以斯帖奉末底改的名,報告于王。究察這事,果然是實,就把二人挂在木頭上,將這事在王面前寫于歷史上。”  --  暗殺計划被揭露,按常理末底改應得到王的獎賞,史學家希羅多德(Herodotus, 484-425BC)說波斯王宮的檔案之中有一份“功臣”(英文 benefactors,希臘文 orosanges)的名單。這次末底改沒有獲得獎賞,只是名字被記在編年史里,是上帝特意為后來要拯救猶大人所埋下的伏筆(斯六:1-3)。


2。斯三:1 - 6  “1這事以后,亞哈隨魯王(Ahasuerus 或薛西一世 Xerxes I,486BC-465BC)抬舉亞甲族(Agagite)哈米大他(Hammedatha)的兒子哈曼(Haman),使他高升,叫他的爵位超過與他同事的一切臣宰。2在朝門的一切臣仆,都跪拜哈曼,因為王如此吩咐﹔惟獨末底改(Mordecai)不跪不拜。3在朝門的臣仆問末底改說:‘你為何違背王的命令呢?’4他們天天勸他,他還是不聽。他們就告訴哈曼,要看末底改的事站得住站不住,因他已經告訴他們自己是猶大人。5哈曼見末底改不跪不拜,他就怒氣填胸。6他們已將末底改的本族告訴哈曼。他以為下手害末底改一人是小事,就要滅絕亞哈隨魯王通國所有的猶大人,就是末底改的本族。”

《新譯本》:1這事以后,亞哈隨魯王使亞甲族哈米大他的兒子晉升﹔王提拔他,使他的地位高過所有與他在一起的大臣。2在朝門那里,王的所有臣仆,都向哈曼屈身下拜,因為王曾經這樣吩咐﹔只有末底改不跪,也不拜。3于是在朝門的臣仆問末底改:“你為甚么違背王的命令呢?”4他們天天勸他,他還是不聽,他們就告訴哈曼,要看看末底改的話是不是堅持到底,因為他已經告訴他們,他自己是猶太人。5哈曼見末底改不向他屈身下拜,就非常忿怒。6他以為只下手對付末底改一人還是小事,因為有人把末底改的本族告訴了哈曼﹔所以哈曼設法要把亞哈隨魯王全國所有的猶太人,與末底改一起消滅。

KIV:1 After these things did king Ahasuerus promote Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him, and set his seat above all the princes that were with him. 2 And all the king's servants, that were in the king's gate, bowed, and reverenced Haman: for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence. 3 Then the king's servants, which were in the king's gate, said unto Mordecai, Why transgressest thou the king's commandment? 4 Now it came to pass, when they spake daily unto him, and he hearkened not unto them, that they told Haman, to see whether Mordecai's matters would stand: for he had told them that he was a Jew. 5 And when Haman saw that Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence, then was Haman full of wrath. 6 And he thought scorn to lay hands on Mordecai alone; for they had shewed him the people of Mordecai: wherefore Haman sought to destroy all the Jews that were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus, even the people of Mordecai.


“這事以后,亞哈隨魯王(Ahasuerus 或薛西一世 Xerxes I,486BC-465BC)抬舉亞甲族(Agagite)哈米大他(Hammedatha)的兒子哈曼(Haman),使他高升,叫他的爵位超過與他同事的一切臣宰。”  --  惡人終于上場了,他就是亞甲族(Agagite)人哈曼(Haman)。我在第十課已經介紹了亞甲族,說:

。。《以斯帖記》里的高官哈曼是亞甲族人(Agagite),是亞瑪力人(Amalekites)的后裔,并不是波斯人。猶太人和亞瑪力人是世仇,在出埃及的時候,他們是第一個上來在利非訂(Rephidim)和以色列人爭戰(出十七:8)的敵人。耶和華對摩西說:“我要將亞瑪力的名號從天下全然涂抹了,你要將這話寫在書上作紀念,又念給約書亞聽。。。又說:‘耶和華已經起了誓,必世世代代和亞瑪力人爭戰。’”(出十七:14,16)摩西也不忘提醒出埃及的第二代以色列人,“你要記念你們出埃及的時候,亞瑪力人在路上怎樣待你。。。所以,耶和華你上帝使你不被四圍一切的仇敵擾亂,在耶和華你上帝賜你為業的地上得享平安。那時,你要將亞瑪力的名號從天下涂抹了,不可忘記。”(申二十五:17,19)在掃羅時代,萬軍之耶和華吩咐撒母耳對掃羅說:“以色列人出埃及的時候,在路上亞瑪力人怎樣待他們,怎樣抵擋他們,我都沒忘。現在你要去擊打亞瑪力人,滅盡他們所有的,不可憐惜他們,將男女、孩童、吃奶的,并牛、羊、駱駝和驢盡行殺死。。。”(撒上十五:2-3)掃羅卻憐惜亞甲,也愛惜上好的牛、羊,不肯滅絕,結果被上帝所廢。。(撒上十五:9)亞甲族人哈曼就是這樣得以存活至波斯時代。。。(完)

亞甲族人哈曼怎么會在書珊城(Susa)呢?從下文斯五:10 我們知道他的妻子是細利斯(Zeresh),這個名字似乎源自以攔女神 Zarisha 的名字。書珊城是過去以攔帝國的首都,肯定有很多以攔人,哈曼來到這里與以攔女子細利斯結婚,定居下來,不足為奇。

現在亞哈隨魯王使亞甲族人哈曼晉升,地位高過所有與他在一起的大臣,應該是宰相吧。我們不知道王為什么會提拔亞甲,從下文斯三:9 說亞甲捐一萬他連得(talents,等于 10,000X30= 300,000公斤或 300噸!)銀子交給掌管國庫的人,可見他是一個大財主。從歷史的記載,亞哈隨魯王與希臘長期交戰中慘敗(看第四課),國庫肯定損失慘重,哈曼提議捐如此龐大銀錢入庫,必能討好王的心。總之,惡人當道,國家肯定就會被弄得昏亂無道。

“在朝門的一切臣仆,都跪拜哈曼,因為王如此吩咐﹔惟獨末底改(Mordecai)不跪不拜。在朝門的臣仆問末底改說:‘你為何違背王的命令呢?’他們天天勸他,他還是不聽。他們就告訴哈曼,要看末底改的事站得住站不住,因他已經告訴他們自己是猶大人。”  --  哈曼得晉升高位,王還命令人要跪拜他。這樣一個重要人物,經外文獻有記載嗎? 沒有。瓦實提、以斯帖、末底改在經外文獻至少還有跡可循,但哈曼卻沒有,所以一些學者就抓住這點說《以斯帖記》是捏造的故事。不久之前,我買了一本新書《Ancient Israel - From Abraham to the Roman Destruction of the Temple》(Third Edition,Edited by Hershel Shanks,Co-Published by The Biblical Archaeology Society,2011)。在第一章 The Patriarchal Age - Abraham, Isaac and Jacob , 作者 P Kyle McCarter, JR 是 W F Albright Professor of Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies at the Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore, Maryland,而且還是 American Schools of Oriental Research 的前會長,他竟然把《創世記》第十二章至五十章肢解得體無完膚,說亞伯拉罕、以撒、雅各和孩子們都是虛構人物,他們的故事是亡國后的以色列人從不同的傳說編造而成。我把其中一段放在這里,真會叫你讀得“膽戰心驚”。。 這些學者完全藐視聖經的權威,他們應該聽聽傳道者的勸戒:(傳十二:12-13)

12我兒,還有一層,你當受勸戒:著書多,沒有窮盡﹔讀書多,身體疲倦。
13這些事都已聽見了,總意就是敬畏上帝,謹守他的誡命,這是人所當盡的本分。

 


Abraham

....His name (in contrast to those of Isaac, Jacob, Israel and Joseph) appears only as a personal name in the Bible, never as a tribal or local designation. Thus it seems fairly certain that he was not an eponymous ancestor. He may have been a historical individual before he became a figure of tradition and legend. If so, however, it seems impossible to determine the period in which he lived. "Abram," at least in the form "Abiram," is a very common type of name, known in all periods. It is especially well attested in the Late Bronze Age ( 1550-1200 B.C.E. ) , though this may be no more than a coincidence. The variants "Abram" and " Abraham" arose in different languages and dialects.

Nor can we determine whether any of the biblical stories told about Abraham has a historical basis. The claim that Abraham came to Canaan from Mesopotamia is not historically implausible. Such a journey could have taken place in more than one historical period. As we have seen, however, the insistence that the Israelites were not Canaanite in origin was so pervasive that the belief that the first patriarch came from a foreign land could have arisen as part of the ethnic boundary-marking that characterized the development of the tradition. Still, the connections between the family of Abraham and the city of Haran in northern Mesopotamia (Eski Harran or "Old Haran" in modern Turkey) are very precise in our earliest narrative source ( J, or the Yahwist). Terah, Nahor and Serug -- Abraham's father, grandfather and great-grandfather (Genesis 11:22-26) -- seem to be the eponymous ancestors of towns in the basin of the Balikh River, near Haran. All three names appear in Assyrian texts from the, first half of the first millennium B.C.E. as the names of towns or ruined towns in the region of Haran, namely, Til-(sha)-Turakhi (the ruin of Turakh), Til-Nakhiri (the ruin of Nakhir) and Sarugi. Earlier, in the second millennium B.C.E., Til-Nakhiri had been an important administrative center, called Nakhuru. The patriarchal connection with this region may be rooted in historical memories of Amorite culture of the second millennium B.C.E.

Abraham is represented as the founder of religious sites in the regions of Shechem (Genesis 12:7), Bethel/Ai (Genesis 12:8, see also 13:4), Hebron (Genesis 13:18), Mount Moriah (Genesis 22:2) and Beersheba (Genesis 21: 33) . As Benjamin Mazar has noted, all these sites lie within the boundaries of early Israelite settlement in Iron Age I ( 1200-1000 B.C.E. ). These stories present Abraham as the founder of major cultic sites both in Manasseh- Ephraim and in Judah, the dominant tribes of the north and south. Here we see Abraham functioning as the founder of a common social and religious identity, uniting northern and southern tribes. 「notes: Amos's references to Beersheba (in the south) as a pilgrimage shrine for northerners (Amos 5:5, 8:14) is consistent with the connection between Abraham and Beersheba in the E source, and must derive from some prior northern religious association with Beersheba. In the J source, Abraham's southerly home is Hebron, not Beersheba (which is founded by Isaac in J), an address that points to Hebron's importance in Judah in the Davidic period (2 Samuel 5:1-5, 15:7-10). 」

The earliest reference to Abraham may be the name of a town in the Negev listed in a victory inscription of Pharaoh Shishak I (biblical Sheshonk). The campaign occurred in about 925 B.C.E. during the reign of Rehoboam ( 1 Kings 14:25-26; 2 Chronicles 12:2-12 ). A place-name in the Negev section of the inscription is pa'ha-q-ru-'a 'i-bi-ra-ma, which is best read "the fortification of Abram" or, more simply, "Fort Abram." The location and chrono- logical context of this site make it plausible that the Abram after whom the site was named was the Abram of biblical tradition. Although we cannot be certain of this identification, the place name probably indicates the presence and importance of the Abram/ Abraham tradition in the tenth century B.C.E.

 
Isaac

The biblical Isaac has clear geographical associations with the northern Negev, and particularly the oases of Beersheba and Beer-lahai-roi ( Genesis 24:62, 25: 11, 26:32-33 ). The archaeological record indicates that this area was not settled before the end of the Late Bronze Age. Expansion into the Negev from the north began no earlier than the latter part of the 13th century B.C.E. Archaeological excavations at Beersheba have shown that a deep well associated with the sanctuary was dug at about this time. Apparently, this is the well mentioned in Genesis 21:25 and 26:25. The settlement of the Negev spread southward and was complete by the 11th century. This shows that the attachment of the patriarchal tradition to the Beersheba region cannot have preceded the 12th century and, in fact, may have occurred later as a part of the southern development of the tradition in the time of David and Solomon.

As we have noted, "Isaac" is structurally suitable as a personal, tribal or geographical name. We might expect the meaning of the name to indicate which of these possibilities is most likely. Though it is unattested outside the Bible, we assume that "Isaac" is a shortened form of a name like "Isaac-El," which may mean "May [the god] El smile," that is, "May El look favorably upon." If this is correct, the name then seems equally acceptable as the designation of an individual, group or place. In referring to the northern kingdom in the eighth century, moreover, Amos twice uses the name Isaac as parallel to Israel (Amos 7:9, 16). This usage must reflect a recollection of the name Isaac as a designation for the northern tribal region. In this light, it is intriguing to note that J depicts Isaac as the founder of the religious site at Beersheba ( Genesis 26:23, 25), a southern shrine to which northerners made pilgrimage (Amos 5:5, 8:14).


Jacob

According to Genesis, the events of Jacob's birth and childhood take place at Beersheba, Isaac's home; but after returning from Haran, Jacob lives in the region of Shechem in the central hill country. He is the founder of the religious site of Bethel (Genesis 28:10-22, 35:1-15), and like Abraham he builds an altar at Shechem ( Genesis 33: 18-20 ) .Both sites are in the north. It is not surprising that Jacob dwells in the central hill country, since at this point Jacob is Israel. The historical association of Israel with the central hills was strong, as its persistence during the time of David and beyond shows. In contrast to Abraham and Isaac, therefore, Jacob was never thought of in close association with the southern part of the country.

It is generally agreed that the biblical name "Jacob" is a shortened form of "Jacob-El" or something very similar. An early form of "Jacob," constructed with "El" or another divine name, was a common West Semitic personal name of the Middle Bronze Age and the Hyksos period, when Egypt was ruled by Asiatic princes (c. 1675-1552 B.C.E.). It is also attested at Ugarit (in Syria) in the Late Bronze Age. But it does not appear again (outside of the biblical patriarchal narratives) until the Persian period. "Jacob-El," however, was also a Late Bronze Age place-name. It occurs in lists of enemies conquered by Tuthmosis III (c. 1479-1425 B.C.E.) and other kings of Egypt. Most of the identifiable names in these documents refer to cities, though some designate districts and even tribal groups. Because of the loose organization of the lists, the precise location of Jacob-El cannot be determined. It is clear, however, that it was in central Canaan, most probably in the general vicinity of Rehov and Beth-Shean, both of which lay north of Shechem. In view of the proximity of both time and place, therefore, it does not seem reckless to conclude that the Jacob-El conquered by Tuthmosis had something to do with the biblical Jacob tradition.

We must ask, then, which had priority, the patriarch Jacob or the place Jacob-El. The name probably means "Let El protect," and this seems equally suitable as the name of a person or a place. It is possible that there was an early hero called Jacob-El who gave his name to the town or district mentioned in the Egyptian lists.

Archaeologist Aharon Kempinski suggested, on the basis of a scarab of Jacob-Har found in a tomb at Shiqmona, Israel, dating to the 18th century B.C.E., that the later Hyksos king of Egypt named Jacob-Har may be the descendant of a local Palestinian king of the same name. This local ruler may be the Jacob for whom the place was named. Although this argument is speculative, it offers an intriguing possibility for the origin of the Jacob tradition in the central hills of Palestine in the second millennium B.C.E.

In the Bible, Jacob has two names. According to the earliest written account, Jacob was given the name Israel after wrestling with a divine being on the bank of the Jabbok River (Genesis 32:28-29). In the latter part of Genesis, the two names Jacob and Israel are used more or less interchangeably. Modern biblical scholars have explained this in a variety of ways. Noth concluded that Israel, the collective name of the tribes, was assigned to the patriarch Jacob at a fairly late point in the development of the tradition. On the other hand, the elaborate genealogical structure of the tradition was itself an early feature; the purpose of this structure was to give a social definition to Israel. Jacob, the eponym of the people or district of Jacob-El, was the key figure in the genealogical scheme. It is very likely, then, that he was identified as Israel, the eponym of the newly emerging community, when the kinship tradition was devised at the time of the formation of the tribal alliance.

This is not to suggest that the name "Israel" was invented at this time. Several scholars have attempted to identify a distinctive group of traditions around a patriarch Israel, whom they would distinguish from Jacob, and it is possible that there was some kind of early tribal group in the central hills called Israel. In fact, however, our sources give us no hint of the use of the name in Canaan before the time of Merneptah ( c. 1207 B.C.E. ) , which, as we have seen, must have been very close to the time of the formation of the community itself Since we know that the population of the hill country was growing steadily at this time, we must also consider the possibility that the name "Israel" was brought into the region by one of the arriving peoples.

Finally, Jacob's relationship with Esau may predate the identification of the two brothers with Israel and Edom in the genealogical structure. As Gunkel noted, Esau's name and personality have little to do with Edom, which had a reputation for wisdom in biblical tradition. Gunkel associated the conflict of the two brothers with a cultural memory of the ascent of herders over hunters in Palestinian history, which Noth localized to the history of Gilead. It is doubtful, however, that a socioeconomic history of the region can be derived from the rivalry between the two brothers. The relationship is more adequately characterized as a conflict between civilization and nature. Note the consistent series of contrasts between Jacob and Esau in Genesis 25 and 27: man of the tents ( civilized habitat) vs. man of the steppe ( wild habitat) ; cooking ( characteristic of human culture) vs. hunting ( common to humans and predatory animals) ; cunning intelligence vs. stupidity; smooth skin vs. hairy skin; domestic animals (as meal and disguise) vs. wild game; and, finally, the culmination in blessing and political dominance vs. curse and subjection. ( Compare the way Gilgamesh and Enkidu are contrasted in the Mesopotamian Gilgamesh epic.) The fraternal relationship, therefore, falls into the category of ethnic boundary-making, as one's own ancestor is identified with civilization in contrast to another's ancestor, who is wild and uncivilized ( compare the characterization of Ishmael, as opposed to Isaac, in Genesis 16:12 and 21:20, and the parentage of Ammon and Moab in Genesis 19 ). In other words, the relationship between Jacob and Esau is best comprehended as an expression of cultural and ethnic self-definition. .This feature may predate the identification of the two with Israel and Edom, but it continues to function in this identification.

Joseph

Turning finally to the sons of Israel, we begin by recalling that the name "Joseph" belongs in the category of "Isaac," "Jacob" and "Israel," as noted earlier. We assume that it is a shorter form of "Joseph-El," which means "May El increase," and this too seems equally suitable as a personal, tribal or geographical designation. Thus it is possible that Joseph was a hero of the past or the fictitious eponym of a group or district. The latter possibility is suggested by the use of "the house of Joseph" as a collective designation for the northern tribes in the literature of the early monarchy ( 2 Samuel 19:21 ) and elsewhere. A strong case can be made, however, that this expression was coined after the unification of Judah and Israel as a term parallel to "the house of Judah." References to a tribe of Joseph, moreover, are rare and appear only in late materials (Numbers 13: 11, 36:5 ). It thus seems more likely that "Joseph" was a personal name belonging to a local hero of the past. During the period of the formation of the Israelite community, Joseph was identified as a son of Jacob and the father of the tribal eponyms Ephraim and Manasseh.

The special prominence of Joseph in the biblical narrative must be, at least in part, a reflection of the eminence of "the house of Joseph" at the end of the settlement period (about 1000 B.C.E. ) and the continuing historical importance of the Manasseh-Ephraim region. Scholars believe that the long story about Joseph and his family in Genesis 37 and 39-47 originated independently of the other patriarchal narratives. This story depicts Joseph as preeminent among his brothers and as the favorite of his father, Jacob (Israel). The story was probably passed down orally among the inhabitants of the region around Shechem and Dothan (see Genesis 37:12 and 37:17), in the heart of the traditional territory of Ephraim and Manasseh, the two "half-tribes" of Joseph's sons. In an early form, this story may have eulogized Joseph, the tribal patriarch, as a man who went to Egypt as a slave and rose to a position of authority in the Egyptian court.

Many scholars believe that the events described in the story of Joseph have an ultimate basis in historical fact. It has often been supposed, especially by those scholars who believe that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob lived in the Middle Bronze Age (about 2000-1550 B.C.E.), that Joseph lived during the so-called Hyksos period ( c. 1675-1552) , when Egypt was ruled by two dynasties of Asiatic princes. The scholars who hold this view argue that since Joseph was himself an Asiatic, he would have been most likely to find a favorable reception from an Asiatic king of Egypt. Moreover, the capital of Egypt during the Hyksos period was located in the eastern Delta, which is generally agreed to have been the site of the biblical "land of Goshen," where the family of Joseph settled (Genesis 45:10, 46:28-29, 47:1).

But even if the general outline of the Joseph story is based on the life of a historical individual, it is unlikely that much of the information found in Genesis 37 and 39-47 is historically factual. The biblical Joseph story has more in common with a historical romance than a work of history; Its carefully planned story line is fashioned from narrative motifs that were widespread in the literature and folklore of the ancient Near East. The episode of Potiphar's wife, who accuses Joseph of attempted rape after she fails to seduce him (Genesis 39:6b-20 ), has numerous parallels in the literature of the ancient world, including the popular "Tale of Two Brothers" of XIXth-Dynasty Egypt ( 13th century B.C.E. ). The motifs of dreams and dream interpretation are found in literature, folklore and myth throughout antiquity. The convention of the seven lean years is known from Egyptian, Akkadian and Canaanite literature.

Further, the author of the biblical Joseph story displays only a limited knowledge of the life and culture of Egypt. Recalling the hot wind that blows across the Transjordanian plateau into Israel, he writes of the east wind scorching pharaoh's grain (Genesis 41:23,27), but in Egypt it is the south wind that blights crops. The titles and offices the author assigns to various Egyptian officials have closer parallels in Syria and Canaan than in Egypt.

There are a number of authentic Egyptian details in the Joseph story, but these details correspond to the Egyptian way of life in the author's own day, not in the Hyksos period. The king of Egypt is called "Pharaoh,' an Egyptian phrase meaning "great house," which was not used as a title for the king before the reign of Tuthmosis III (c. 1479-1425 B.C.E.).1n Genesis 47:11, the area in which the family of Joseph settles is called "the land of Rameses," a designation that could not have been used earlier than the reign of Ramesses II (c. 1279-1213B.C.E.).( notes: It is possible, however, that "in the land of Rameses" in Genesis 47:11 is a scribe's gloss, intended to harmonize the account of the Israelites' entry into Egypt with the statement in Exodus 1:11 that locates the Israelites in "Pithom and Rameses." )

Some of the personal names in the story are Egyptian. Joseph's wife is called Asenath (Genesis 41:45), which could correspond to one of several Egyptian names from the second and first millennia B.C.E. The name of Asenath's father is Potiphera ( Genesis 41 :45), and this name has been found on an Egyptian stela dating to the XXIst Dynasty (c. 1069-945 B.C.E.) or later. The name of Joseph's Egyptian master, Potiphar (Genesis 37:36), is probably a shorter form of the name Potiphera. Joseph's own Egyptian name, Zaphenath-paneah (Genesis 41:45), has no exact parallel in extant Egyptian records, but names with a similar structure are attested from the XXIst Dynasty and later.

It is unlikely, therefore, that the Joseph story as we know it in the Bible was composed before the establishment of the United Kingdom ( that is, before about 1000 B.C.E.). Many of the elements of the plot and most of the narrative details are fictional. It does not follow from this, however, that the tradition upon which the story is based is unhistorical. We cannot exclude the possibility that there was a historical Joseph who went to Egypt as a slave and rose to a position of power there.

Egyptian records from the Middle Kingdom to the Roman period cite numerous individuals of Syrian, Canaanite and nomadic origin who rose to high positions in the Egyptian govemment. An especially interesting parallel to the story of Joseph is that of an Asiatic named Irsu, who seized power in Egypt during a period of hardship (probably famine) at the end of the XIXth Dynasty (c. 1200 B.C.E.). Many Egyptologists believe that Irsu was another name for Bay, the powerful chancellor who ruled Egypt during the minority of the last king of the XIXth Dynasty and who may have come from Palestine.( note: Another striking parallel may be the Semitic-named vizier Aper-El whose tomb was discovered at the ancient burial ground of Saqqara in Egypt. )

Clearly, then, the biblical description of Joseph's career is historically plausible in its general outline. We might surmise that Joseph was the leader of a group of people from the vicinity of Shechem and Dothan who migrated to Egypt seeking pasturage during a time of drought in Canaan. Such groups are amply attested in Egyptian records. In a text from the reign of Merneptah (c. 1212-1202 B.C.E.), for example, a frontier official reports:

[We] have finished letting the Bedouin tribes of Edom pass the Fortress [of] Mer-ne-Ptah .. which is (in) Tjeku ( notes: "Tjeku" is the Egyptian name for the land called Goshen in the Bible. ) ...to the pools of Per-Atum (notes: Per-Atum is biblical Pithom (Exodus 1:11).) ...which are (in) Tjeku, to keep them alive and to keep their cattle alive.

Alternatively, the people of the central hills may have preserved memories of Hyksos kings of local origin (perhaps even from the line of a local king named Jacob) and combined these memories with the tradition of the Exodus of slaves from Egypt. By this means the patriarchal stories may have been joined with those of the Exodus, yielding a coherent epic tradition, uniting all the tribes. Of course these are mere speculations about the history of the Joseph tradition. We have few clues from the narrative itself.


Jacob's other sons

The names of most of the other sons of Jacob (Israel) do not have the form of personal names. Several are geographical names. "Asher" was a name by which the Egyptians knew the coastal region north of Carmel in the Late Bronze Age. "Judah," "Ephraim" and "Naphtali" seem first to have been the names of ranges of hills (see Joshua 20:7); the people who inhabited the hill country of Judah were called bene yehuda, "the children of Judah," or "Judahites"; and so on. The name "Benjamin" probably arose from the location of the tribe's territory; it lay to the south of the other (northern) tribes, so that the people were called bene yamin "the children of the south," or "Benjaminites."

On the other hand, the names of a few of the sons of Jacob (Israel) do take the form of personal names. "Simeon" and "Manasseh," for example, are most easily understood in this way; and the corresponding tribes may have been named after tribal heroes or even patriarchs. In the genealogical structure, the 12 sons of Israel are eponyms of the 12 tribes of Israel, created in the course of the evolution of the Israelite tradition during the period of settlement. The process of community formation, which began in about 1200 B.C.E., at the end of the Late Bronze Age, presupposes the existence of the tribes with established names. The origin of the various tribal names- whether derived from geographical associations, ancestral traditions or something else-was already in the remote past. When the tribes were joined together into the larger entity of Israel, their kinship was expressed in terms of brotherhood; and a group of 12 sons, the eponyms of the 12 tribes, was assigned to the patriarch Jacob (Israel).

It follows from all this that the setting of the prehistory of the Israelite community was the central hill country, between the valley of Aijalon and the Beth-Shean corridor, in the Late Bronze Age. This region was very sparsely populated before 1200 B.C.E., suggesting that the people among whom the Israelite tradition germinated were pastoralists, as the patriarchal stories would lead us to expect. They venerated a local hero called Abram or Abraham, who was probably already regarded as a patriarchal figure; that is, he was identified as the ancestor of one or more of the groups in the region. Jacob and Isaac may also have been revered as ancestors in local tribal lore.

These proto-Israelites were hill people and shepherds, and they must have seen themselves as distinct from the peoples of the cities, which, in this period, were situated on the coastal plain and in the major valleys. This was the period of Egypt in Canaan, but the remoteness of the highlands from the population centers and the major trading routes sheltered Israel's forerunners from the full influence of Egypt. These circumstances were favorable to the creation of a national community larger than the city-states of the Bronze Age, a development that needed only an increase in population to make it possible. This requirement was fulfilled at the end of the Late Bronze Age when new peoples penetrated into the forests of the Ephraimite plateau and the saddle of Benjamin to the south. At this time a larger tribal alliance was formed, and the old relationships were formalized genealogically. Abraham was identified as the father of Isaac and Isaac of Jacob. Jacob became the father of a large group of sons, eponyms of the various groups and districts that made up the new alliance. A core group of this alliance ( to which the Merneptah Stele refers) bore the collective name "Israel." Thus the eponym Israel had an equal claim to the status of tribal father, and he was identified with Jacob. (完)


學者這樣宰割聖經,妖言惑眾,真令人痛心。我們千萬不要亂了陣腳,以為聖經的記載不可信,不可靠。上帝是很幽默的,在適當的時候,他會叫石頭高聲呼喊,印証上帝話語的真確,使我們認定聖經是上帝權威的話語 。即或不然,我們也要銘記在心:(來十一:1-6)

1信就是所望之事的實底,是未見之事的確據。
2古人在這信上得了美好的証據。
3我們因著信,就知道諸世界是借上帝話造成的,這樣,所看見的,并不是從顯然之物造出來的。。。
6人非有信,就不能得上帝的喜悅﹔因為到上帝面前來的人,必須信有上帝,且信他賞賜那尋求他的人。


所以,亞甲人“哈曼”沒有出現在經外文獻,不表示他是捏造的故事人物。

“在朝門的一切臣仆,都跪拜哈曼,因為王如此吩咐﹔惟獨末底改(Mordecai)不跪不拜。在朝門的臣仆問末底改說:‘你為何違背王的命令呢?’他們天天勸他,他還是不聽。他們就告訴哈曼,要看末底改的事站得住站不住,因他已經告訴他們自己是猶大人。”  --  為什么末底改不遵王命跪拜哈曼呢?是因為這樣做違背律法嗎?有學者說,因為末底改破壞了殺害王的陰謀,他的名字被記錄在編年史里,屬于希羅多德所說的“功臣”(orosanges, The Benefactor of the King)之一﹔作為“功臣”,他有特權,除了王以外,不用跪拜別人。 但這段經文也暗示,因為末底改是猶大人,所以才不向哈曼跪拜。律法有規定猶太人不能跪拜王或尊貴的人嗎?不能跪拜別神是肯定有的。至于猶太庶民見到掃羅,或大衛王,或所羅門王有沒有跪拜 呢?從撒下九:6,十四:4,22等經節,他們是有伏地叩拜王。據一些解經家說,猶太人也向波斯宮廷的外邦官員鞠躬。他們不把這視為宗教行為,而是一種宮廷禮儀。這樣,末底改拒絕跪拜哈曼,只有兩個可能性:一就是剛才說的,他作為“功臣”,有特權不跪拜﹔二是因為哈曼是亞甲族人,作為猶 大人的末底改沒有忘記上帝的命令,視他為世仇。我自己傾向最后一項的解釋。

問題來了。 我們知道基督徒是不會跪拜偶像,但向死者遺像鞠躬,或向死者遺像或墳墓、牌位行禮,或向國父孫中山鞠躬行禮是否可以呢?我把馬利/楊牧谷博士編著的《信仰疑惑四百問》(更新資源有限公司出版,1999年)所給的解答放在這里供大家參考:

。。在喪禮、追悼會上向死者遺像行禮鞠躬,在現代社會多是表示對死者的敬意和追念,很少帶有祈求祖先保佑的宗教迷信意味,而且致敬的也遠不限于家人,可以是生前友好或后輩、學生等。這不是拜偶像。基督徒在這場合怎樣表達立場很重要,如果堅持不行禮,給社會的印象往往是不孝或不敬,或持守一套死板古怪的信念,就算百般解釋,也很難讓人理解,對傳福音的作用可能適得其反。

。。慎終追遠是中國人重要的社會價值觀,著重的是感恩和紀念。中國古代傳統稱跪拜為「大禮」,當然可以用來崇拜鬼神,但也可以只是用來向人表示高度敬意和謝恩的禮節,例如:感父母養育之恩,謝師尊教導之清,古已有之,并非都有宗教含義。前人雖逝,恩情猶在,基督徒掃墓、向遺像獻花敬禮,既是表達自己對逝者的懷念,也是向社會作出基督徒應有的見証,與拜偶像全不相關。

當然,具體情況需要具體分別對待。在某些地區,宗教迷信氣氛特別濃厚,所有向死者表示敬意的禮儀,都會被人認定是向死者祈福蔭求庇佑。為免造成誤解絆倒他人,基督徒需要以行動清楚地表明信仰,就不能跟著習俗行禮了。這是為了讓他人能認識福音的緣故,并不是怕自己會犯拜偶像的罪。(完)


“哈曼見末底改不跪不拜,他就怒氣填胸。他們已將末底改的本族告訴哈曼。他以為下手害末底改一人是小事,就要滅絕亞哈隨魯王通國所有的猶大人,就是末底改的本族。” --  哈曼對末底改的不跪不拜已經怒火中燒,現在又知道他是猶大人,就更加忍無可忍。于是他開始設計滅絕波斯帝國內所有的猶大人。

哈曼要怎樣滅絕猶大族人呢?我們下一課再見。


默想:


恨火焚身

“哈曼見末底改不跪不拜,他就怒氣填胸。他們已將末底改的本族告訴哈曼。他以為下手害末底改一人是小事,就要滅絕亞哈隨魯王通國所有的猶大人,就是末底改的本族。”(斯三:5-6)

“伺候王的一個太監名叫哈波拿說:‘哈曼為那救王有功的末底改做了五丈高的木架,現今立在哈曼家里!’王說:‘把哈曼挂在其上!’于是,人將哈曼挂在他為末底改所預備的木架上。王的忿怒這才止息。”(斯七:9-10)

“不要以惡報惡。”(羅十二:17)


    喬治•華盛頓•卡佛(1864-1943年)戰勝了極端的種族偏見,成為了美國著名的教育家。雖然他受到很不公平的對待,但他不愿意因此變得憤世嫉俗。他寫下了這句至理名言:「心懷仇恨的,最終必被仇恨毀滅。

    在《以斯帖記》中,我們可以看到,仇恨會帶來何等的自我毀滅。末底改,一個猶太人,拒絕跪拜一個在波斯宮廷中自視甚高的權貴哈曼。憤怒的哈曼于是玩弄花招,讓國王感到末底改和他的族人是波斯帝國的威脅(斯三:8-9節)。當他的詭計起了作用,哈曼要求波斯王殺害所有的猶太人。就在國王下旨后,但還沒執行之前,以斯帖介入當中,哈曼狡詐的陰謀因而被揭穿(斯七:1-6)。國王在盛怒之下,決定把哈曼挂在他為末底改所預備的木架上。 (斯七:7-10)

    卡佛的話和哈曼的行為提醒我們,仇恨會帶來自我毀滅。聖經要我們以德報怨。保羅說:「不要以惡報惡」(羅十二:17),當被冒犯時,「不要自己伸冤」(19節),反而,要做正確的事情(17節),那么你才能夠「與眾人和睦」(18節)。


窩藏在心中的恨,

讓我們無法立足﹔

唯循真理和恩慈,

讓我們得主賜福。

憎恨帶來毀滅﹔愛成就基督的教導。

(取自《靈命日糧》2012年四月二十八日,作者:H Dennis Fisher)

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