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Preaching in the Old Testament: Joel-Daniel

Posted by on Aug 5, 2009 in scripture | Comments Off on Preaching in the Old Testament: Joel-Daniel

In this series, I plan to examine the use of the term κηρύσσω (kÄ“russō – usually translated “preach”) in the Old Testament. Specifically, I will examine the use of the term “preach” in the Septuagint (LXX), the Greek translation of the Old Testament.

In this post, I’ll examine the following uses of the term κηρύσσω (kÄ“russō – usually translated “preach”): Joel 1:14; 2:1, 15; 4:9; Jonah 1:2; 3:2, 4, 5, 7; Zephaniah 3:14; 9:9; Isaiah 61:1; Daniel 3:4. Similarly, there are five uses of the term κηρύσσω (kÄ“russō – “preach”) in the non-canonical books which are usually included in the Greek translation of the Old Testament. I will also look at the uses of the term κηρύσσω (kÄ“russō – “preach”) in 1 Esdras 2:1; 1 Maccabees 5:49; 10:63, 64; Psalms of Solomon 11:1. Here are the passages:

Consecrate a fast; call [preach] a solemn assembly. Gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the house of the LORD your God, and cry out to the LORD. (Joel 1:14 ESV)

Blow a trumpet in Zion; sound [preach] an alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming; it is near… (Joel 2:1 ESV)

Blow the trumpet in Zion; consecrate a fast; call [preach] a solemn assembly; gather the people. Consecrate the congregation; assemble the elders; gather the children, even nursing infants. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her chamber. (Joel 2:15-16 ESV)

Proclaim [preach] this among the nations: Consecrate for war; stir up the mighty men. Let all the men of war draw near; let them come up. (Joel 4:9 ESV)

“Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out [preach] against it, for their evil(1 has come up before me.” (Jonah 1:2 ESV)

Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out [preach] against it the message that I tell you.” So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three days’ journey in breadth. Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out [preached], “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called [preached] for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them. The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. nd he issued a proclamation [preached] and published through Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water, but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.” (Jonah 3:2-7 ESV)

Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout [preach], O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! (Zephaniah 3:14 ESV)

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout [preach] aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (Zephaniah 9:9 ESV)

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim [preach] liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound… (Isaiah 61:1 ESV)

And the herald proclaimed [preached] aloud, “You are commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages… (Daniel 3:4 ESV)

Then Belshazzar gave the command, and Daniel was clothed with purple, a chain of gold was put around his neck, and a proclamation was made [it was preached] about him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom. (Daniel 5:29 ESV)

These passages are from the non-canonical books:

In the first year of Cyrus king of the Persians, that the word of the Lord might be accomplished, that he had promised by the mouth of Jeremy; The Lord raised up the spirit of Cyrus the king of the Persians, and he made proclamation [preached] through all his kingdom, and also by writing, Saying, Thus saith Cyrus king of the Persians; The Lord of Israel, the most high Lord, hath made me king of the whole world… (1 Esdras 2:1ff)

Wherefore Judas commanded a proclamation [preaching] to be made throughout the host, that every man should pitch his tent in the place where he was. (1 Maccabees 5:49)

And he made him sit by himself, and said into his princes, Go with him into the midst of the city, and make proclamation [preach], that no man complain against him of any matter, and that no man trouble him for any manner of cause. Now when his accusers saw that he was honored according to the proclamation [preaching], and clothed in purple, they fled all away. (1 Maccabees 10:63-64)

Sound the trumpet in Zion, the signal for the saints! Proclaim [preach] in Jerusalem the voice of one bringing good news for God became merciful to Israel in watching over them. (Psalms of Solomon 11:1)

As in the previous passages (Genesis-Micah), it is clear that the usages of the term κηρύσσω (kÄ“russō) in the passages above do not bear close resemblance to any of the modern definitions of the English word “preach”. Instead, once again, the usages are closer to the modern English verb “announce”.

Notice particularly the passages in Jonah chapter 3, where Jonah makes an announcement, the people of Nineveh make an announcement, and finally the king of Nineveh makes an announcement. This passage would not make since with any of our modern definitions of “preach”.

The only exception would be in Zephaniah, where the usage of the word κηρύσσω (kÄ“russō) is closer to the English word “shout”. While some preachers are shouters, “shout” is not one of the modern definitions of the English word “preach” either.

Of particular interest would be the passage from Isaiah (61:1) since Jesus quotes this passage as one of the purposes of his time on earth. In the next post in this series, I’ll examine various passages in the New Testament (including those that quote Isaiah 61:1) to see if “announce” might be a better translation of κηρύσσω (kÄ“russō).


“Preaching” in the Old Testament Series:

  1. Introduction
  2. Genesis-Micah
  3. Joel-Daniel (and noncanonical books)
  4. Conclusion

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