Richard-Jude Thompson investigates Martin Noth's conclusion about the
Deuteronomistic History (DH) that the people of Israel had committed
apostasy ceased to obey the law code of Yhwh, and thus lost their land.
Scholars have challenged Noth's hypothesis and even the existence of
such a history. The present study adopts a thematic reading of the DH as
a coherent corpus of writing with a consistent message. A close reading
reveals a god, Yhwh, who declares war on other gods ('elohim 'a?erim)
and commands his followersto conquer and to sanctify the mountain of the
Emorites (har ha'emori; Deut 1:7) and the land of Canaan ('ere?k?na?an;
Deut 32:49) to Yhwh. The sanctification includes the killing of the
people living there: "When you attack them, you shall annihilate
(ha?arem ta?arim) them entirely. Do not make a treaty with them and do
not show mercy to them" (Deut 7:1-2). Throughout the DH, Yhwh and his
spokespersons, the n?bi'im, reward obedience and punish disobedience.
Because the disobedient people of Israel fail to enforce Yhwh's command
to remove the nations of Canaan and their 'elohim 'a?erim, Yhwh enforces
imperial law and sentences them to national death and exile.
The author hypothesizes that the DH depicts an imperial, military
covenant. After a survey of the inscriptions of the second-millennium
b.c.e. Levant, the Hittite empire, the Neo-Assyrian empire, and the
first-millennium b.c.e Levant, the study concludes with a hypothesis
that the evidence points to the ideology of the Neo-Assyrian empire as
the historical precedent for the Dtr covenant. The study challenges two
presuppositions that underlie both the DH and its scholarship: that of
the torahas law and that of Yhwh as a unique god.