ruah YHWH, ruah 'elohim: A case for literary and theological distinction in the Deuteronomistic History

John M Ragsdale, Marquette University

Abstract

The Deuteronomist (or Deuteronomistic Historian, Dtr) uses the word rûah[dotbelow] twenty-eight times to refer to the divine spirit in Deuteronomy-2 Kings (the Deuteronomistic History, DH). Of those uses, rûah[dotbelow] appears in construct with one of the divine names twenty-four times: rûah[dotbelow] YHWH (spirit of the LORD) and rûah[dotbelow] 'e lohîm (spirit of God). In the four cases in which a divine name is not used to modify rûah[dotbelow], rûah[dotbelow] YHWH or rûah[dotbelow] 'e lohîm appears elsewhere in the immediate context. Thus, "spirit" is still denoted. The Deuteronomistic historian only uses the term rûah[dotbelow] 'e lohîm in association with Israel's first king, Saul. When Dtr refers to the divine spirit in narratives about Israel's judges, about David and about the prophets, he uses the term rûah[dotbelow] YHWH. The scholarly consensus holds that the use of rûah[dotbelow] YHWH or rûah[dotbelow] 'e lohîm is no more than a terminological variation. I contend, however, that Dtr uses these two terms distinctively to underscore a difference between Israel's judges, prophets and David on one hand, and Saul on the other. The first chapter of this dissertation reviews the scholarly literature devoted to both the DH and to the divine spirit in the Hebrew Bible (HB). The second chapter examines the, HB's references to the divine spirit outside the DH. The third chapter analyzes Dtr's uses of rûah[dotbelow] in the book of Judges. The fourth chapter investigates Dtr's uses of rûah[dotbelow] in the books of Samuel and Kings. The fifth chapter offers the following conclusions. First, the distinctive use of these two terms is limited to the DH. Second, the divine rûah[dotbelow] is exclusively associated with an individual's empowerment by God in the DH. Third, Dtr's use of rûah[dotbelow] YHWH in association with the judges and with David is consistent with the brief summary of Israel's leadership in the land found in 2 Sam 7:11. Fourth, Dtr's use of rûah[dotbelow] 'e lohîm in association with Saul alone helps make his case that Saul deserves YHWH's rejection. Fifth, Dtr's use of rûah[dotbelow] YHWH and rûah[dotbelow] 'e lohîm reflects his endorsement of Josiah and of his reforms in the seventh century B.C.E.

Recommended Citation

John M Ragsdale, "ruah YHWH, ruah 'elohim: A case for literary and theological distinction in the Deuteronomistic History" (January 1, 2007). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. Paper AAI3263811.
http://epublications.marquette.edu/dissertations/AAI3263811

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