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By Donald E. Gowan

Utilizing a canonical process, during which he explores the outdated testomony as a complete - instead of the lessons of person previous testomony authors - Professor Gowan lines the hopes of the folk of Israel for a greater destiny. He concludes that for God to make

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Wa s thus a blow to the heart of Israel's understanding of itself as a people of God. Israel possessed n o theolog y tha t could justify it s continuing identity in an other country. " (Ps. 137:4) wa s their initial response to exile. I t was crucial to thei r continuing existence tha t som e basi s fo r a futur e coul d b e provide d them , an d i n just that setting two important prophetic traditions concerning exil e as an interi m period, to be followed by a restoration to the land, ma y be found.

Dan 5; T . Benj. 9 ; T . Jos. 6; T . Ash. 7; T . Jud. 23—25 ; T . (Arm] 19) . The concern abou t reunio n o f the twelve tribes reappears i n interesting ways in several o f these text s (T. Jos. [Arm] 19 ; As. Mos. 3:3—4:9 ; 2 Apoc. Bar. 78— 87). D . 70, frequently take s up the question of the meaning of exile, but the subject cannot b e pursue d furthe r i n thi s context. 12 The continuing eschatologica l quality of the hope for return, in rabbinic thought, is nicely illustrated by this saying from the Babylonian Talmud : Whoever goe s u p fro m Babylo n t o th e Lan d o f Israe l transgresse s a positiv e commandment, fo r it is said in Scripture, They shall be carried t o Babylon, and there they shall be, until the day that I remember them, saith the Lord.

Restoration as an Eschatologlcal Theme Judeans wh o wer e taken int o exil e in Babylonia believed tha t whe n Je rusalem fell it was the end of Israel as the people of God. The city that Yahweh had chose n fo r himself had bee n destroyed , his temple la y in ruins and it s cult had been abandoned, and the people had been rooted u p from the land he had promise d them . "Ou r bone s ar e dried up , and our hope is lost; w e are clean cut off' (Ezek . 37:1 Ib) became a proverb in their midst. Israel was dead, and as the prophet Ezekiel ministered to those exiles his message concerning new lif e inevitably involved a promise of return to their land .

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