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SBL e-journal

Reinhard Achenbach





How YHWH Became King of the Universe





APA e-journal

Reinhard Achenbach





How YHWH Became King of the Universe








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How YHWH Became King of the Universe

Israel’s deity becomes a universal God and the political power behind human affairs. This is just one of seven historical shifts in how the Bible conceives of “theocracy,” divine political power.


How YHWH Became King of the Universe

YHWH creates the world, Johann Sadeler, 1639 (colorized). Rijksmuseum

In Jewish liturgy, blessings begin by describing God as מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם “king of the universe” or “eternal king.” Implicit in this description is that humans in general, and the people of Israel in particular, are subject to God’s rules. Indeed, this is the straightforward implication of the Torah’s law collections.

In the political realm, such a concept is known as theocracy, a Greek term meaning “divine power.”[1] This word was created by Josephus (ca. 37/38–ca. 100 C.E.) in his defense of Judaism:

Againt Apion 2:164–165 Some peoples have entrusted the supreme political power to monarchies, others to oligarchies, yet others to the masses. Our lawgiver, however, was attracted by none of these forms of polity, but gave to his constitution the form of what – if a forced expression be permitted – may be termed a “theocracy” placing all sovereignty and authority in the hands of God.[2]

Years later, the Jewish philosopher Benedict (Baruch) Spinoza (1632–1677) characterized the Torah’s system in the same way: 

Tractatus Theologico-Politicus The sovereignty of the Jews, then, was held by God alone; and it was the covenant alone which justified them in calling their state God’s kingdom (Regnum Dei) and god their king, and hence in calling the enemies of their state the enemies of God, citizens who aimed at usurping the sovereignty traitors to God, and, finally, their civil laws the laws and commandments of God.…

In short, there was no distinction at all between civil law and religion. This was why their state could be called a theocracy – because its citizens were only bound by laws revealed by God.[3]

Josephus and Spinoza were looking at the entire Bible, more or less as we have it, and interpreting its theology holistically. Nevertheless, the concept of theocracy developed in many stages.

Stage 1: Monarchic Period

During the period of the Israelite and Judean monarchies, the divine kingship of YHWH determined the royal ideology. This is visible in ancient Psalms in which YHWH, the former weather deity, gains the heavenly throne as divine warrior and king among the gods in Jerusalem:

תהלים כד:ח מִי זֶה מֶלֶךְ הַכָּבוֹד יְ־הוָה עִזּוּז וְגִבּוֹר יְ־הוָה גִּבּוֹר מִלְחָמָה.
Ps 24:8 Who is the King of glory? YHWH, strong and mighty, YHWH, mighty in battle.[4]

In this early period, according to the concept in Jerusalem, YHWH reigned through the proxy of the Davidic dynasty. This too is reflected in several psalms from the monarchic period. For example, at the end of Psalm 18 (=2 Samuel 22), after the psalmist thanks YHWH for his salvation, we find a summary statement:

תהלים יח:נא מגדל [מַגְדִּיל] יְשׁוּעוֹת מַלְכּוֹ וְעֹשֶׂה חֶסֶד לִמְשִׁיחוֹ לְדָוִד וּלְזַרְעוֹ עַד עוֹלָם.
Ps 18:51 He accords great victories to His king, keeps faith with His anointed, with David and his offspring forever.[5]

The Davidic King Is YHWH’s Vassal

In the later 7th century, at the end of the Neo-Assyrian period, the Deuteronomic reform under King Josiah built upon this perspective when it declares all worship sites outside the royal Temple of Jerusalem to be illegitimate. It further envisions Israel creating an Assyrian-type vassal treaty with YHWH, living under divine rule, with the Davidic king as YHWH’s vassal, as he had been to the Assyrian king previously.

Not long after the reform, however, when King Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem together with its Temple, and exiled much of its population, including and especially its intelligentsia, to Babylon, this hope collapsed. The Babylonian conquest effectively ending Judah’s term as a politically sovereign kingdom.

Stage 2: A Post-Exilic Deuteronomistic Scribal Narrative: Renewing the Covenant at Horeb

Following the destruction and exile, the Deuteronomists explained that the disaster was a result of the continuous apostasy of the Israelite and Judahite kings.[6] Thus, they proposed renewing Israel’s connection with YHWH based not upon the Davidic kingship but on the ancient Sinai/Horeb covenant to worship YHWH alone.[7]

In the updated Deuteronomistic version of the revelation at the mountain, the Israelite priesthood, represented by Aaron, sins by building the Golden Calf, but YHWH nevertheless agrees to renew the covenant (Exod 32, 34, Deut 9–10).[8] This story serves as a paradigm for a new beginning, as the post-exilic community looked ahead for how they would reestablish their own covenant with YHWH and rebuild Judah.

The post-exilic Deuteronomistic school did not see the necessity of renewing the kingship. On the contrary, in the Deuteronomistic layer of the book of Samuel, YHWH declares the people’s request to install a king is nothing less than a rejection of their God as their ruler:

שמואל א ח:ז ‏...כִּי אֹתִי מָאֲסוּ מִמְּלֹךְ עֲלֵיהֶם.
1 Sam 8:7 …For they have rejected me from being king over them!”

And Samuel then explains this to the people:

שמואל א י:יט וְאַתֶּם הַיּוֹם מְאַסְתֶּם אֶת אֱלֹהֵיכֶם אֲשֶׁר הוּא מוֹשִׁיעַ לָכֶם מִכָּל רָעוֹתֵיכֶם וְצָרֹתֵיכֶם וַתֹּאמְרוּ לוֹ[9] כִּי מֶלֶךְ תָּשִׂים עָלֵינוּ...
1 Sam 10:19 But today you have rejected your God who delivered you from all your troubles and calamities. For you said to him, “set up a king over us!”…

While some circles supported reestablishing a Davidic kingdom under Zerubbabel, as reflected in the books of Haggai and Zechariah, they ultimately failed.[10] Instead, Judea was dominated by the Temple priesthood[11] and a series of governors appointed by Persia, most famously Nehemiah.

Stage 3: YHWH as the Only God and Divine Patron of the Persian Empire

Grappling with the loss of the Davidic kingship, and what this meant for YHWH’s kingship, prophetic circles responsible for the oracles collected in Deutero-Isaiah, accepted the role of the Persian King Cyrus as YHWH’s shepherd and anointed one:

ישעיה מד:כח הָאֹמֵר לְכוֹרֶשׁ רֹעִי וְכָל חֶפְצִי יַשְׁלִם וְלֵאמֹר לִירוּשָׁלַ͏ִם תִּבָּנֶה וְהֵיכָל תִּוָּסֵד.
Isa 44:28 I am the same who says of Cyrus, “He is My shepherd; he shall fulfill all My purposes! He shall say of Jerusalem, ‘She shall be rebuilt,’ and to the Temple: ‘You shall be founded again.’”
מה:א כֹּה אָמַר יְ־הוָה לִמְשִׁיחוֹ לְכוֹרֶשׁ אֲשֶׁר הֶחֱזַקְתִּי בִימִינוֹ לְרַד לְפָנָיו גּוֹיִם וּמָתְנֵי מְלָכִים אֲפַתֵּחַ לִפְתֹּחַ לְפָנָיו דְּלָתַיִם וּשְׁעָרִים לֹא יִסָּגֵרוּ.
45:1 Thus said YHWH to Cyrus, His anointed one—whose right hand He has grasped, treading down nations before him, ungirding the loins of kings, opening doors before him and letting no gate stay shut…

As for the position the Davidic king once held as YHWH’s servant, Deutero-Isaiah transfers this title to an unnamed future figure who will bring about universal knowledge of YHWH:

ישעיה מב:א הֵן עַבְדִּי אֶתְמָךְ בּוֹ בְּחִירִי רָצְתָה נַפְשִׁי נָתַתִּי רוּחִי עָלָיו מִשְׁפָּט לַגּוֹיִם יוֹצִיא.
Isa 42:1 This is My servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one, in whom I delight. I have put My spirit upon him, he shall teach law (!) to the nations.

Indeed, in Deutero-Isaiah, YHWH as the only real God, becomes for the first time the universal divine king of the world:

ישעיה מד:ו כֹּה אָמַר יְ־הוָה מֶלֶךְ יִשְׂרָאֵל וְגֹאֲלוֹ יְ־הוָה צְבָאוֹת אֲנִי רִאשׁוֹן וַאֲנִי אַחֲרוֹן וּמִבַּלְעָדַי אֵין אֱלֹהִים.
Isa 44:6 Thus said YHWH, the King of Israel, their Redeemer, YHWH of Hosts: I am the first and I am the last, and there is no god but Me.
ישעיה מה:ה אֲנִי יְ־הוָה וְאֵין עוֹד זוּלָתִי אֵין אֱלֹהִים...
Isa 45:5 I am YHWH and there is none else; beside Me, there is no god…[12]

Deutero-Isaiah is not merely reacting to Judean political powerlessness, but is responding to the Babylonian theology, in which their chief god, Marduk, is king of the world and rules over all the other gods.[13] In response, Deutero-Isaiah depicts YHWH as the acknowledged universal deity of creation, who has elected the small people of Israel to become his people and serve as witnesses for teaching the rest of the world. YHWH also occupies the place of the Persian deity Ahura-Mazda, the deity Cyrus actually worshipped.[14]

In short, the confession of Jewish monotheism is central for the renewal of the post-exilic Israelite-Jewish religion, and we see it further developed in the Priestly Text of the Torah, whose base layer Pg (Grundschrift¸ “basic layer”) dates to the early Second Temple period as well.

The Universal God of Pg

In the Priestly text, YHWH is the universal Elohîm for all peoples. He creates the world (Genesis 1), reveals himself as El Shadday to the ancestors, and then as YHWH to Moses (Exod 6), who proclaims YHWH as the true God of the world before Pharaoh. For example, Moses explains that he is giving Pharaoh the option to choose exactly when the frogs will be removed from Egypt,

שמות ח:ו ...לְמַעַן תֵּדַע כִּי אֵין כַּי־הוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ.
Exod 8:6 … that you may know that there is none like YHWH our God.[15]

YHWH’s message to Pharaoh through Moses about the hail makes the point more clearly:

שמות ט:יד כִּי בַּפַּעַם הַזֹּאת אֲנִי שֹׁלֵחַ אֶת כָּל מַגֵּפֹתַי אֶל לִבְּךָ וּבַעֲבָדֶיךָ וּבְעַמֶּךָ בַּעֲבוּר תֵּדַע כִּי אֵין כָּמֹנִי בְּכָל הָאָרֶץ. ט:טו כִּי עַתָּה שָׁלַחְתִּי אֶת יָדִי וָאַךְ אוֹתְךָ וְאֶת עַמְּךָ בַּדָּבֶר וַתִּכָּחֵד מִן הָאָרֶץ. ט:טז וְאוּלָם בַּעֲבוּר זֹאת הֶעֱמַדְתִּיךָ בַּעֲבוּר הַרְאֹתְךָ אֶת כֹּחִי וּלְמַעַן סַפֵּר שְׁמִי בְּכָל הָאָרֶץ.
Exod 9:14 For this time I will send all My plagues upon your person, and your courtiers, and your people, in order that you may know that there is none like Me in all the world. 9:15 I could have stretched forth My hand and stricken you and your people with pestilence, and you would have been effaced from the earth. 9:16 Nevertheless I have spared you for this purpose: in order to show you My power, and in order that My fame may resound throughout the world.[16]

Like in Deutero-Isaiah, YHWH wishes his dominion to be recognized not merely by Israelites, but by the entire world, and as such, he works to get the attention of the ruler of a world superpower. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that we see the same type of phraseology “in order that you may know” in YHWH’s message to Cyrus in Deutero-Isaiah (the only other place this phrase appears in the Bible):

ישעיה מה:ג וְנָתַתִּי לְךָ אוֹצְרוֹת חֹשֶׁךְ וּמַטְמֻנֵי מִסְתָּרִים לְמַעַן תֵּדַע כִּי אֲנִי יְ־הוָה הַקּוֹרֵא בְשִׁמְךָ אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל.
Isa 45:3 I will give you treasures concealed in the dark  And secret hoards—  so that you may know that it is I YHWH, the God of Israel, who call you by name.

At the same time, this supremely important deity has adopted the small and inconsequential nation of Israel as his special people, and at Mount Sinai promises to dwell in their midst in the Tabernacle:

שמות כט:מה וְשָׁכַנְתִּי בְּתוֹךְ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְהָיִיתִי לָהֶם לֵאלֹהִים. כט:מו וְיָדְעוּ כִּי אֲנִי יְ־הוָה אֱלֹהֵיהֶם אֲשֶׁר הוֹצֵאתִי אֹתָם מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם לְשָׁכְנִי בְתוֹכָם אֲנִי יְ־הוָה אֱלֹהֵיהֶם.
Exod 29:45 I will abide among the Israelites, and I will be their God. 29:46 And they shall know that I YHWH am their God, who brought them out from the land of Egypt that I might abide among them, I YHWH their God.

In Pg, like in Deutero-Isaiah, we have a universal deity recognized (albeit after much coercion) by a powerful king, but who chooses the small and inconsequential people of Israel as his main vehicle for introducing himself to the world.

Unsurprisingly, in Pg, YHWH’s main interaction with humanity is through Temple service, with the Aaronide priesthood holding a special place in history beginning with the exodus.

Stage 4: The Levitical Priesthood and the Hexateuch

The frame of the Torah was born when the Priestly text (Pg) was combined with the core of Deuteronomy and Joshua—what some scholars call DtrL (Landeroberungserzählung [land conquest narrative]) to form the Hexateuch,[17] which presents Moses as the original and paradigmatic עֶבֶד יְ־הוָה “servant of YHWH” (Josh 1:1).

In a further development of the Golden Calf story, it is Moses’ intercession that saves Israel from extermination, making a new covenant possible.

While the scribes of the Hexateuchal Composition did not exclude the possibility of renewing the monarchy, they recast the monarch as someone completely dedicated to the Torah from the Levitical priests (Deut 17):

דברים יז:יח וְהָיָה כְשִׁבְתּוֹ עַל כִּסֵּא מַמְלַכְתּוֹ וְכָתַב לוֹ אֶת מִשְׁנֵה הַתּוֹרָה הַזֹּאת עַל סֵפֶר מִלִּפְנֵי הַכֹּהֲנִים הַלְוִיִּם.
Deut 17:18 When he has taken the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself a copy of this law on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests.[18]

Legitimate priestly families are now only Levitical, הַכֹּהֲנִים הַלְוִיִּם,[19] i.e., from the tribe of Moses, chosen to minister to YHWH, bless the people, and serve as judges:

דברים כא:ה וְנִגְּשׁוּ הַכֹּהֲנִים בְּנֵי לֵוִי כִּי בָם בָּחַר יְ־הוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ לְשָׁרְתוֹ וּלְבָרֵךְ בְּשֵׁם יְ־הוָה וְעַל פִּיהֶם יִהְיֶה כָּל רִיב וְכָל נָגַע.
Deut 21:5 The priests, sons of Levi,[20] shall come forward; for YHWH your God has chosen them to minister to Him and to pronounce blessing in the name of YHWH, and every lawsuit and case of assault is subject to their ruling.

Moreover, they are tasked with carrying the ark, which holds the law of YHWH to which all, even the king, are subject:

דברים י:ח בָּעֵת הַהִוא הִבְדִּיל יְ־הוָה אֶת שֵׁבֶט הַלֵּוִי לָשֵׂאת אֶת אֲרוֹן בְּרִית יְ־הוָה לַעֲמֹד לִפְנֵי יְ־הוָה לְשָׁרְתוֹ וּלְבָרֵךְ בִּשְׁמוֹ עַד הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה.
Deut 10:8 At that time YHWH set apart the tribe of Levi to carry the Ark of YHWH’S Covenant, to stand in attendance upon YHWH, and to bless in His name, as is still the case.

The story of how the Levites were the ones who did not worship the calf, and instead brought down YHWH’s justice upon the heads of the sinners (Exod 32:26–29) serves as the foundation myth for this Levitical priestly system.[21]

Zadokite Priests: Some Pushback from Ezekiel

That priests are only from the tribe of Levi was in tension with the family of Zadokite priests, who served in the Jerusalem Temple and likely saw themselves as an independent priestly family with no ties to the myth of Levitical origin. The book of Ezekiel attempts to solve this tension, by accepting the Levitical framework but claiming that Zadokites are indeed Levitical, but a special subgroup chosen for service in the Temple:

יחזקאל מד:טו וְהַכֹּהֲנִים הַלְוִיִּם בְּנֵי צָדוֹק אֲשֶׁר שָׁמְרוּ אֶת מִשְׁמֶרֶת מִקְדָּשִׁי בִּתְעוֹת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל מֵעָלַי הֵמָּה יִקְרְבוּ אֵלַי לְשָׁרְתֵנִי וְעָמְדוּ לְפָנַי לְהַקְרִיב לִי חֵלֶב וָדָם נְאֻם אֲדֹנָי יְ־הוִה.
Ezek 44:15 But the Levitical priests descended from Zadok, who maintained the service of My Sanctuary when the people of Israel went astray from Me—they shall approach Me to minister to Me; they shall stand before Me to offer Me fat and blood—declares the Lord YHWH.[22]

Notably, the book of Ezekiel is future focused. In the final chapters, it envisions what will be the proper order in the next Temple. Moreover, in the early chapters, YHWH’s revelation takes place in Babylon, not in Jerusalem, and on a flying throne that is independent from the Sanctuary.[23]

Stage 5: God Beyond the Temple: All of Israel Is Holy

The Ezekiel scribal circle influenced the formation of the Pentateuch.[24] Here YHWH’s kavod “glory,” present in the midst of a fire and a cloud, descends to reveal himself to Moses in a tent of meeting separate from the people (Exod 33:7–11).[25]

In contrast to Ezekiel’s visions, who only perceives the deity in a veiled manner, Moses speaks to YHWH face to face:

שמות לג:יא וְדִבֶּר יְהוָה אֶל מֹשֶׁה פָּנִים אֶל פָּנִים כַּאֲשֶׁר יְדַבֵּר אִישׁ אֶל רֵעֵהוּ וְשָׁב אֶל הַמַּחֲנֶה...
Exod 33:11 YHWH would speak to Moses face to face, as one man speaks to another. And he would then return to the camp…

From the Tent of Meeting, Moses receives the revelations of the Holiness Code, where the concept of “Levitical priests” has vanished. Israel shall be a holy congregation:

ויקרא יט:ב דַּבֵּר אֶל כָּל עֲדַת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵהֶם קְדֹשִׁים תִּהְיוּ כִּי קָדוֹשׁ אֲנִי יְ־הוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם.
Lev 19:2 Speak to the whole Israelite community and say to them: “You shall be holy, for I, YHWH your God, am holy.”

The expansion of divine revelation reported in the Sinai-Pericope makes this same point:

שמות יט:ה וְעַתָּה אִם שָׁמוֹעַ תִּשְׁמְעוּ בְּקֹלִי וּשְׁמַרְתֶּם אֶת בְּרִיתִי וִהְיִיתֶם לִי סְגֻלָּה מִכָּל הָעַמִּים כִּי לִי כָּל הָאָרֶץ. יט:ו וְאַתֶּם תִּהְיוּ לִי מַמְלֶכֶת כֹּהֲנִים וְגוֹי קָדוֹשׁ...
Exod 19:5 Now then, if you will obey Me faithfully and keep My covenant, you shall be My treasured possession among all the peoples. Indeed, all the earth is Mine, 19:6 but you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.

Even so, H doesn’t cancel the priesthood entirely, but following the Levitical model, presents a genealogy of Aaron as an offspring of Levi (Exod 6:13–27).

Stage 6: The Power of the High Priest and Theocracy

With the failure of the Davidic dynasty to reestablish its power in post-exilic Judea, the central position of the anointed High Priest was strengthened as the main representative of the Judean community. In Trito-Isaiah, can be heard proclaiming himself to be imbued with the divine spirit:

ישעיה סא:א רוּחַ אֲדֹנָי יְ־הוִה עָלָי יַעַן מָשַׁח יְ־הוָה אֹתִי לְבַשֵּׂר עֲנָוִים שְׁלָחַנִי לַחֲבֹשׁ לְנִשְׁבְּרֵי לֵב לִקְרֹא לִשְׁבוּיִם דְּרוֹר וְלַאֲסוּרִים פְּקַח קוֹחַ.
Isa 61:1 The spirit of the Lord YHWH is upon me, because YHWH has anointed me; He has sent me as a herald of joy to the humble, to bind up the wounded of heart, to proclaim release to the captives, liberation to the imprisoned.[26]

At the same time, the late Priestly reworkings of the Pentateuch[27] focus on the formation of the congregation (qahal) of Israel as edah – a political and a Temple community. It is the task of the Aaronide high priest to put the Name of YHWH onto the People in an ancient blessing[28] now recast as the Aaronide blessing (Num 6:22–27):

במדבר ו:כז וְשָׂמוּ אֶת שְׁמִי עַל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וַאֲנִי אֲבָרֲכֵם.
Num 6:27 Thus they shall link My name with the people of Israel, and I will bless them.

Moses, the servant of YHWH (Exod 14:31) proclaims the kingdom of YHWH in the Song at the Sea:

שמות טו:יז תְּבִאֵמוֹ וְתִטָּעֵמוֹ בְּהַר נַחֲלָתְךָ מָכוֹן לְשִׁבְתְּךָ פָּעַלְתָּ יְ־הוָה מִקְּדָשׁ אֲדֹנָי כּוֹנְנוּ יָדֶיךָ. טו:יח יְ־הוָה יִמְלֹךְ לְעֹלָם וָעֶד.
Exod 15:17 You will bring them and plant them in Your own mountain, the place You made to dwell in, O YHWH, the sanctuary, O YHWH, which Your hands established. 15:18 YHWH will be king for ever and ever!”

The Song coincides with late theocratic reworkings in the Book of Psalms (Ps 92; 95; 97; 99).[29]

Stage 7: The Return of the Davidic King in Chronicles

The book of Chronicles rewrites the stories of Samuel and Kings. It is aware of the late priestly layers of the Pentateuch, especially the lineages of the Zadokides. When this “history” of the Israelites is written during the early Ptolemaic Period (4th cent. B.C.E.), the hope of a renewal of the kingdom arose again, and these Judean scribes wished to produce positive examples for a possible David redivivus.

For example, unlike in Samuel, in Chronicles, David is responsible for planning the Temple, which not only replaces the wilderness tabernacle but houses it:

דברי הימים ו:טז וְאֵלֶּה אֲשֶׁר הֶעֱמִיד דָּוִיד עַל יְדֵי שִׁיר בֵּית יְ־הוָה מִמְּנוֹחַ הָאָרוֹן. ו:יז וַיִּהְיוּ מְשָׁרְתִים לִפְנֵי מִשְׁכַּן אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד בַּשִּׁיר עַד בְּנוֹת שְׁלֹמֹה אֶת בֵּית יְ־הוָה בִּירוּשָׁלָ͏ִם וַיַּעַמְדוּ כְמִשְׁפָּטָם עַל עֲבוֹדָתָם.
1 Chron 6:16 These were appointed by David to be in charge of song in the House of YHWH, from the time the Ark came to rest. 6:17 They served at the Tabernacle of the Tent of Meeting with song until Solomon built the House of YHWH in Jerusalem; and they carried out their duties as prescribed for them.

In Chronicles, the role of the high priests in the description of history and religious reforms remains hidden behind the narratives on reforms of the kings, who – referring to the Priestly texts in Numbers 3–10, 17–18, 20, and 27 – establish priestly and Levitical divisions (1 Chron 24–26), established judiciary (2 Chron 19), and purged the temple (2 Chron 29).[30] Indeed, this renewed focus on the importance of David and his descendants in the divine plan leads naturally into the messianic concept of a descendent of David emerging in the future and redeeming the Israelites, or in some framings, the entire world.

An Everchanging Model of Theocracy

In sum, the scriptures within a forthgoing development of scribal discourses and narratives bear witness to the conviction in an ongoing process of divine self-revelation.[31] Starting with YHWH as king through the Davidic monarch, post-exilic scribes grappled with how YHWH’s rule would be represented on earth without a Davidic kingdom: through the priesthood, through the Torah, or perhaps through the people’s own holiness. Thus, the loss of the Davidic kingdom brings to the fore YHWH’s direct rule over Israel, through the people’s acceptance of his Torah. 


September 14, 2023


Last Updated

July 15, 2024


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Prof. Reinhard Achenbach is Professor for Old Testament at the University of Münster. He did his doctoral work at the University of Göttingen and his Habilitation at the University of Munich. He is the author of, Israel between promise and commandment. Literary-Critical Studies of Deuteronomy 5-11 (German 1991); The Completion of the Torah: Studies on the Editorial History of the Book of Numbers in the Context of the Hexateuch and Pentateuch (German, 2003), and Torah in the Persian Period: Collected Studies on Theology and Legal History of Judah (German, forthcoming), and is co-editor of Torah in the Hebrew Bible: Studies on the History of Redaction and the Synchronic Logic of Diachronic Transformations (German, 2007). Achenbach has been a member of the Cluster of Excellency on Religion and Politics at the University of Münster since 2007.