Sunday, July 23, 2017

Court Prophets Revel in Their "Unprecedented" Royal Access

JERUSALEM (ARNS*) -- Squeezed in among two dozen other prophets in residence at the royal court, Hananiah added his hand to the other reaching to pray for King Zedekiah of Judah.

The royal prayer session is just one example of the access the court of Zedekiah and his key aides have given to a cadre of prophets, from evening-long dinners to all day meetings.

"This is unlike anything we've experienced in our career in prophecy -- unprecedented access, unprecedented solicitation of viewpoints and opinions," said Hananiah.

Previous kings had granted access to prophets across the spectrum, although not always positively -- the death of the prophet Uriah son of Shemaiah at the hands of King Jehoiakim comes to mind -- but Zedekiah's court has been particularly given over to those prophets of the party of Hananiah.

Observers suggest that the cadre of court prophets gives Zedekiah a "seal of approval" among an important constituency in Judah, a significant support for a king whose situation is shaky at best. The court prophets also offer Zedekiah protection against non-conformist prophets such as Jeremiah, an agitating presence across multiple royal courts. Hananiah's spectacular attack against Jeremiah, in which he took the prophet's wooden yoke and broke it in front of the king, was reported to have been received with great favor by Zedekiah and Hananiah's fellow court prophets.

"I'm sure that the king would be happy if Jeremiah had been elimiated with Uriah years ago, although fortunately that didn't happen somehow thanks to the protection of Ahikam son of Shaphan. But to be able to put that pest in his place shows just how much the king values our prophetic utterances in support of the kingdom and of the king," Hananiah is reported to have said. "We do the job of supporting the king when fake prophets like Jeremiah won't, and the king favors us accordingly. It's the best situation we've ever known."

Clearly Zedekiah enjoys the support of the so-called court prophets; after the latest such meeting he referred to the court prophets as "my kind of people," and he was reported to have laughed uproariously at Hananiah's breaking of Jeremiah's yoke.

While prophets such as Jeremiah have not gone away, their number is far fewer and their safety is not guaranteed. Hananiah's star rose with his prophecy of the end of Babylon's power and the return of exiled people and stolen artifacts, against which Jeremiah had spoken (leading to the yoke-breaking incident). The direct attack of one prophet against another is seen as a sign of just how much favor the court party of prophets has with the relatively new king.

Jeremiah, the non-court prophet, responded to a request for comment for this story with a lengthy prophetic statement about wooden and iron yokes. Hananiah the unofficial leader of the court prophet party, was also asked for further comment but was unable to reply due to illness.

An artist's depiction of the incident in which Hananiah broke Jeremiah's yoke (video cameras were not allowed at the session).

Note: the original article being parodied is here; a quick browse of Jeremiah 26-28 is also recommended.

*ARNS = Ancient Religion News Service

(If you still need a mainline "moral of the story" at this point...don't be like Hananiah. Even Billy Graham came to regret how much he let Richard Nixon use him.)

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