Friday, February 22, 2013

Jonah ben Amittai from Gath Hepher

23 In the fifteenth year of Amaziah son of Joash king of Judah, Jeroboam son of Jehoash king of Israel became king in Samaria, and he reigned forty-one years. 24 He did evil in the eyes of the Lord and did not turn away from any of the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit. 25 He was the one who restored the boundaries of Israel from Lebo Hamath to the Dead Sea, in accordance with the word of the Lord, the God of Israel, spoken through his servant Jonah son of Amittai, the prophet from Gath Hepher.

26 The Lord had seen how bitterly everyone in Israel, whether slave or free, was suffering; there was no one to help them.27 And since the Lord had not said he would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven, he saved them by the hand of Jeroboam son of Jehoash.

28 As for the other events of Jeroboam’s reign, all he did, and his military achievements, including how he recovered for Israel both Damascus and Hamath, which had belonged to Judah, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel? 29 Jeroboam rested with his ancestors, the kings of Israel. And Zechariah his son succeeded him as king.
2 Kings 14:23-29 NIS
This is a bit difficult text because of the contrast between the evil deeds of Jeroboam (24) and the praise given to that king (27)

Of great interest is the very short reference in a single verse 25 to a prophecy on military events that came true. The exact wording of the prophecy has not survived but it was given through Jonah Ben Amittai, the prophet from Gath Hepher. This is the only reference in Tanakh to prophet Jonah Ben Amittai beyond the Book of Jonah and it gives some important historical and archaeological references.

King Jeroboam II
The rule of King of Israel Jeroboam II is usually dated 786-746 BC contemporary with the Kings of Judea Amaziah (2 Kings 14:23) and Uzziah (2 Kings 15:1).

The prophetic work of Isaiah began during the rule of King of Juda Uzzia so Jonah Ben Amittai lived during the times of the King of the Prophets.
The vision concerning Judah and Jerusalem that Isaiah son of Amoz saw during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham,Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.
Isaiah 1:1 NIV
There was a great earthquake in the time of King Jeroboam II mentioned in the Book of Amos
The words of Amos, one of the shepherds of Tekoa—the vision he saw concerning Israel two years before the earthquake, when Uzziah was king of Judah and Jeroboam son of Jehoash was king of Israel.
Amos 1:1 NIV
Archaeological evidence of this earthquake has been identified in the major sites of Tel Hazor and Lachish and dated to 760 BC. (wikipedia)

Gath Hepher

Map Leon's Message Board
Jonah ben Amittai is from the border town of Gath Hepher (wine press of digging) mentioned only here in 2 Kings 14:25 and in the border description in Joshua 19:13.
Jerome in Roman Times (Commentary on Jonah) describes the town ‘as an inconsiderable village’ and tells that the tomb of Jonah was nearby. Similarly the medieval geographer Benjamin of Tudela also relates the tomb of Jonah in his travels to the area.

Today the site, at Latitude 32° 44' 30" N and Longitude 35° 19' 30" E in the HaZafon region of the Galilee, is a small set of ruins on a hilltop near the Arab village of el-Meshed 5 km north of Nazareth and 1 km from Canna. The supposed tomb of Jonah, is still pointed out by locals.

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