The word I’d like to emphasize or illustrate today is “intertextuality!”
It’s not particularly a spiritual term, having a vast secular use as well. The dictionary defines it as: “
Today I’d like to use part of Ezra 6:22 to reveal the Bible’s beautiful (and ingenious) way of utilizing intertextuality, to great advantage, as an aid to our learning God’s Word. As a help in our growing spiritually too!
“… for the LORD had … turned the heart of the king of Assyria unto them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.”
The King of Assyria is a merely code name for the current King of Persia, who also ruled what was once Israel’s arch-enemy, Assyria. By the way, that Persian King was Darius.
He helped (strengthened) Israel?
His very words: “Moreover I make a decree what ye shall do to the elders of these Jews for the building of this house of God: that of the king’s goods, even of the tribute beyond the river, forthwith expenses be given unto these men, that they be not hindered. And that which they have need of, both young bullocks, and rams, and lambs, for the burnt offerings of the God of heaven, wheat, salt, wine, and oil, according to the appointment of the priests which are at Jerusalem, let it be given them day by day without fail: that they may offer sacrifices of sweet savours unto the God of heaven, and pray for the life of the king, and of his sons.” Ezra 6:8-10, what a list, what provision!
But WHY did the King do all this?
Other than wanting and needing prayer for himself and his sons?
“THE LORD HAD TURNED HIS HEART!” From Ezra 6:22, a direct quote!
The verb “turned” (in Hebrew “sabab”) means “to turn around.” Or “to beset, to encompass!” Plus the verb is “causative” in Hebrew, suggesting that God Himself had a good reason for doing this, that being “the welfare of Israel, of Judah!”
Now, surely with none of you readers doubting this historical fact … I proceed to show you a prime instance of intertextuality.
Proverbs 21:1, written in Solomon’s day, teaches: “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.” Wow! (Israel had this great Truth around 400 years prior to God’s once again enacting it with the gracious King of Persia!)
Though in Proverbs a different verb is used (in Hebrew) for “turned,” the meaning is essentially the same. “Natah” means “to stretch, to wrest, to pitch,” as well as the 16 times it is translated “to turn.”
Ezra 6:22 echoes Proverbs 21:1.
So here we have one Text utilizing another Text in the same Book, in the Bible, God’s inspired Word!
This phenomenon occurs thousands upon thousands of times in Scripture!
So that one can learn a lot … by comparing Scripture with Scripture!
Paul, in First Corinthians 2:13 says: “the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.”
One book, the Bible, really a Library!
Yet 66 separate Books within it’s covers!
Written over a period of 1600 years!
By 40 different men!
Yet, inter-textually, bearing the same message!
What a Miracle!
— Dr. Mike Bagwell
I stand amazed!