SDQ, MIȘPAT and the social critique of the eighth century prophets
This dissertation focuses primarily on three areas. It provides detailed examinations of SDQ and MIȘPAT as they are used in the Old Testament. To this end, extra-Biblical material from the Ancient Near East is also examined, thus yielding the background meanings of these concepts. SDQ and MIȘPAT are investigated with a view to demonstrating "relationship" as their overall functional locus, and all occurrences of these concepts in the Old Testament are studied. The occurrences of SDQ and MIȘPAT indicate that whether these concepts have to do with aspects such as "justice in the gate", "Yahweh's ordinances", "salvation", "deliverance" or even secular matters such as "weights and measures" and "trading", the fundamental element that unites all of them is "relationship" and the sustaining of it. The thesis argues that SDQ and MIȘPAT as terms of "relationship", are the basis for the social critique of the Eighth Century Prophets. In this regard, the different subjects of the prophets' social critique are examined. The discussion concludes that corruption in the economic, social and religious aspects of life is directly correlated to the absence of SDQ and MIȘPAT. In the Eighth Century prophets SDQ is seen to be the bond which is integral for the covenant relationship between Yahweh and his people, while MIȘPAT is the element necessary for a right relationship amongst individuals. The absence of both SDQ and MIȘPAT as is the case in the Eighth Century, suggests clearly that the Prophets' critique concerns not only the relationship between individuals, but even more fundamentally, the people's relationship with Yahweh.