129. The Holy Bible. The Old Testament. The Books of the ‘Minor’ Prophets (Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi)

Contents:  The remaining books of the Old Testament, covering briefly the stories and pronouncements of the twelve prophets Hosea through to Malachi. I believe the adjective ‘minor’ is more to do with the length of the books as they are all comparatively brief, and not from any insignificance of the respective personages.

My thoughts:  Firstly overwhelming relief that I have finished the OT, which I found either OTT or duller than dishwater, but had to be endured to have even a small chance of catching biblical references in literature from now on.

Onto the books. I must confess that I didn’t find them easy or straightforward to read and understand at first look – no wonder people organize Bible Study classes to discuss them.

The first few books continue the theme of God’s retribution for His abandonment by the tribes of Israel as they preferred to worship stone and gold idols. In Hosea, they are compared to whores with many lovers who have abandoned their husband, while in Joel, God sends drought and an almighty army of locusts to bring starvation and death.

“A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains ….. the land is as the Garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them … like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains … like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble, … they shall climb the wall like men of war … they shall run to and fro in the city .. they shall enter in the windows like a thief. The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble; the sun and the moon shall be dark and the stars shall withdraw their shining.”                     Joel, 2:2-10

Also the familiar peaceful line from the Book of Isaiah is reversed, not for the better.

“Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning-hooks into spears”     Joel, 3:10

Yet worse is in store for the people of Edom, descendants of Esau, in The Book of Obadiah, as they will be wiped out entirely for their violence against their brother’s descendants, the House of Jacob.

Finally, something familiar from Sunday School!   Jonah takes ship to Tarshish to flee from God’s direction to go to Ninevah and prophesy their doom, but a storm threatens to sink the boat. Jonah is reluctantly thrown overboard by the crew (at his own suggestion!) and is swallowed by a great fish and stays in its bowels for three days until he finally repents and is vomited onto the beach. On hearing his words, all the people of Ninevah actually repent, from the king down to the cattle, and Jonah is a bit miffed, until God points out his own inconsistencies. A far more straightforward story that shows a more sensible people and a more merciful God. Yet about one hundred and twenty years later, Ninevah is destroyed by God in the Book of Nahum (c. 625 BC)
I read on through the remainder : Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah and lastly, Malachi. I have very little to say, except the “Great Day of the Lord coming” is referenced several times, and full of apocalyptic destruction. The last word of the OT is ‘curse’ and it seems to encapsulate so much of the contents, not the wonder it could have expressed.

Personal rating: These last few books I would have to give a 2, and even that feels generous. Over all the posts I have made on the Old Testament, only the Song of Solomon was pleasant to read, and without it, the rest was on average a 3, but as a whole I would rate the experience as 1/10.

The sanity in between: I also read Anne of Avonlea, the second in the Anne of Green Gables series by L. M. Montgomery, and Doctor Sally, a very short work (adapted from his own stageplay) by the master P. G. Wodehouse (lots of initials this week). Enjoyed both immensely – I left 4 stars and 5 stars on Goodreads respectively. Good ol’ P.G. kept giving me a nudge because he used the phrase “minor prophet” at least three times in his modest 120 pages. I can usually take a hint after only two prompts!

Next : Getting starry eyed with Aratus’ celestial poem The Phaenomena.

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