The (non)violent life and times of the biblical prophets


All of the old biblical prophets opposed the system of domination and oppression, some used violence, others did not. Elijah and Elisha supported the violent overthrow of Omri, offspring of the notorious Ahab and Jezebel regime, at the hand of Jehu. With the blessing of Elijah and Elisha, Jehu fired an arrow “with all his strength” into Omri’s back as he was fleeing, splitting Omri’s shoulder blades and cutting through his heart. Omri was rushed to the ER but didn’t make it.

Jehu was the new king, but unfortunately, Jehu had a son and that son was Jeroboam II, who didn’t fair any better than the Omri and Ahab types. “Elijah and Elisha simply took Israel out of the frying pan and into the fire” (Crossan).

Next up to bat: the prophet Amos. He was the prophet who confronted the injustices of Jeroboam II, but this time with nonviolence. Of the prophetic words of Amos it was said, “The land is not able to bear all his words” (Amos 7). “From Amos onwards, the biblical prophets worked always on that same interface between politics and religion and spoke always in the name of God and Torah, justice and equity, but never again did a biblical prophet promote a violent internal revolution as the will and plan of God.” (emphasis mine)

The above are quotes and my own paraphrasing from John Dominic Crossan’s five-star book, God and Empire.

Like Gandhi, I would rather see a violent protestor of injustice rather than someone who doesn’t care at all. Interesting, though, for those of us of the Christian persuasion that there seems to have been a shift in the biblical prophets, from violent to nonviolent.

Published by

Jonathan Erdman

Writer. In the summers, I live and work in the incredible state of Alaska, in the bush community of McCarthy, as the Executive Director of the Wrangell Mountain Center. When not in McCarthy, you'll typically find me in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California, writing and working with local activists. My primary writing project right now is a novel set in remote bush Alaska, of the magical realism genre wherein an earnest and independent young woman finds a mysterious radio belonging to her grandmother, a device that has paranormal bandwidth and a disturbing ability to mess with one's mental stability.

Consider this post an invitation, an invitation to comment and collaborate ~ In Solidarity, JE

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