David In Ezra-Nehemiah -- By: Dean R. Ulrich
WTJ 78:1 (Spring 2016) p. 49
David In Ezra-Nehemiah
Dean R. Ulrich has taught Old Testament at Trinity School for Ministry and China Reformed Theological Seminary. He holds doctorates from Westminster Theological Seminary and North-West University.
Recent scholarship on Ezra-Nehemiah tends to say that Ezra-Nehemiah lacks any messianic expectation for the royal line of David. According to Sara Japhet, “The House of David, as the vehicle of aspirations to national unity and as the symbol ‘par excellence’ of salvific hopes, has no place in this world view [of Ezra-Nehemiah which despairs of release from Persian control] and therefore is conspicuously absent from the book [of Ezra-Nehemiah].”1 Similarly, H. G. M. Williamson says that “the importance of the covenant with David and his dynasty, including the hope for its future restoration, is nowhere raised in Ezra-Nehemiah.”2 Tamara Eskenazi adds that “this ‘author’ [of Ezra-Nehemiah] is not interested in David” but later retreats a bit to say that “Ezra-Nehemiah is only marginally interested in David.”3 Meanwhile, Christiane Karrer-Grube asserts, “The idea of an independent Davidic kingdom in Judah is definitely rejected by Nehemiah,” and “There is no place [in Ezra-Nehemiah] for a Judean, Davidic king.”4 If these assessments are accurate, then God’s promise to David of an eternal dynasty that establishes righteousness to the ends of the earth (2 Sam 7:16; Ps 72; Ps 89:20-29; Isa 11:1-5) does not factor into the future outlook of Ezra-Nehemiah.
This article will argue that these statements are worded too strongly and need to be revised in view of the eleven occurrences of David’s name in Ezra-Nehemiah.5 To be more specific, this article denies that the writer of Ezra-Nehemiah mentions David’s name in an eschatologically neutral way. The political reality of Persian dominance may have tempered post-exilic hope for
WTJ 78:1 (Spring 2016) p. 50
the realization of earlier prophecies about the restoration of Davidic kingship. Even so, the hope existed, and the writer of Ezra-Nehemiah shared it.
David’s role in Ezra-Nehemiah is bound up with the structure and message of the book.6
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