Damien F. Mackey
“But the anger of Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram burned;
against Job his anger burned because he justified himself before God”.
Previously in this series we considered some likenesses between Elihu and the prophet Ezekiel, which others have picked up, and the question was asked:
…. Can they be the same?
“Ezekiel [was] the priest, the son of Buzi …” (Ezekiel 1:3).
We now know that Elihu and Ezekiel were contemporaries.
They also have in common the rare name, Buzi: “According to Strong, "Buzi" in Ezekiel 1:3 is the same word as "Buzite" in Job 32:2. This is a rare name in Scripture. That both Elihu and Ezekiel have this name mentioned in their ancestry alerts us to look for other similarities between these two men”.
Ezekiel 1:3: (בּוּזִי)
Job 32:2: (הַבּוּזִי).
They both refer to Job:
Elihu says (Job 33:1): ‘But now, Job, listen to my words; pay attention to everything I say’.
Ezekiel twice has God proclaim (Ezekiel 14:14, 20): ‘… even if these three men—Noah, Daniela and Job—were in it, they could save only themselves by their righteousness …’.
And most strikingly in relation to this situation we learned that: “The exact same Hebrew phrase (שְׁלֹשֶׁת הָאֲנָשִׁים הָאֵלֶּה), “these three men”, is found in both Ezekiel 14:14 and Job 32:1.
Then … we further learned of a whole variety of parallels and links between Elihu and Ezekiel, for example: “Comparisons include whirlwinds; sitting for seven days; not speaking; and rebuking elders even though they themselves were much younger”.
Nigel Bernard, who had provided us with some of the best of these likenesses, did, however, distinguish “Ezekiel … "the priest, the son of Buzi". That he was both a priest and the son of Buzi provides a link with Elihu. Malachi wrote that "the priest’s lips should keep knowledge" (2:7)” from Elihu: “Although not a priest, Elihu sought to live the spirit of these words, for he said, "my lips shall utter knowledge clearly" (Job 33:3)”.
To which I had attached this comment: “Whether or not Elihu was a priest has yet, I think, to be determined”.
The prophet Ezekiel was most definitely a priest, as is clear from 1:3: “Ezekiel the priest …”. So, in order even to consider whether or not Elihu and Ezekiel could be the same person, one would need to be able to show that Elihu’s genealogy (the only one given in the Book of Job) (32:2): “… son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram”, was Levite.
Given that this is the only reference in the Bible to the name Barachel, the task is a difficult one.
Moreover, the phrase “of the family of Ram” (מִמִּשְׁפַּחַת-רָם), has led some to the conclusion that young Elihu was an Aram(= Ram)ite, i.e., of the Syrian race.
However, the Hebrew phrase rendered here invariably refers to “family”, rather than to race.
[End of quotes]
At this stage I had to interrupt my pursuit of an understanding of Elihu’s (Ezekiel’s?) genealogy, to write some articles reconstructing the life of the prophet Elisha, for instance:
Elisha – Terminator of Baalism in Judah
which I considered to be necessary to fill in certain ancestral details (e.g. Rechabitism) pertaining to Elihu. The prophet Elisha was identified here with both Jehonadab the Rechabite - Jehu’s partner in the destruction of the northern Baalists - and with Jehoiada, the reforming priest in Jerusalem. Now, it is in this revised package:
Elisha = Jehonadab = Jehoiada,
that, I think, we can find crucial clues for putting together in a satisfactory manner those enigmatic biographical details associated with Elihu:
“… son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram”.
Elihu a descendant of
the prophet Elisha
The priest Jehoiada, with whom I am identifying Elisha, was otherwise known as Barachiah, or Berechiah (Matthew 23:35): ‘… on you will come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar’.
Cf. 2 Chronicles 24:22: “King Joash did not remember the kindness Zechariah’s father Jehoiada had shown him but killed his son, who said as he lay dying, ‘May the LORD see this and call you to account’.”
The name Barachiah was in this case more of a title than a proper name, I suggest, stemming from (and this is where Jehonadab the Rechabite comes in) the Hebrew ben [bar] Rechab.
He was Jehonadab son of Rechab
Appropriately, now, Elihu was “son of Barachel”. And, as we see from the following list from Abarim (http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Barachel.html#.WKTvp000N9A):
Associated Biblical names
the name, Barachel can be associated with Berechiah.
Barachel was not, therefore, Elihu’s direct father, but rather his famous priest-ancestor, Berechiah (= Jehoiada), who I am saying was the prophet Elisha himself.
This would mean that Elihu of the Book of Job was actually a priest, thereby strengthening my hopeful equation of Elihu with “Ezekiel the priest …” (Ezekiel 1:3), who was, according to the same verse, “the son of Buzi”. I take this to be, as in the case of Elihu, a geographical indicator - that Elisha was from the land of Buz, not that Ezekiel’s father was called “Buzi”.
Was Elisha (Barachel) geographically a Buzite?
Unfortunately it is difficult to be definitive about this because geographical details are, at this present stage of our knowledge, somewhat uncertain. Whilst we know from I Kings 19:16, for instance, that “Elisha … [was] from Abel-Meholah ….”, we do not encounter certainty as to the location of this place.
It is frequently described as being “unknown”.
Saint Jerome gave its location as about ten Roman miles south of Beth-Shean: http://bibleatlas.org/abel-meholah.htm
According to this latest find (https://claudemariottini.com/2013/07/25/have-archaeologists-discovered-elishas-house/):
“… archaeologists have discovered the remains of a house that probably was the house where the prophet Elisha lived. The Bible says that the prophet Elisha was the son of Shaphat and lived in the Israelite city of Abel-meholah (1 Kings 19:16). Elisha was a disciple and the successor of the prophet Elijah. The building that archaeologists believe was the house where the prophet Elisha lived was discovered at the site of Tel Rehov, a few miles from Abel-meholah.
According to the Institute of Archaeology of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Tel Rehov was “the location of the largest ancient Canaanite and Israelite site in the Beth-Shean Valley and one of the largest tels in the Holy Land.” The site was occupied in the 10th-9th centuries B.C. during the reigns of David and Solomon and during the reigns of Omri and Ahab.
During the excavations at Tel Rehov, archeologists found a broken piece of pottery with an inscription written in red ink with the name “Elisha.”
[End of quote]
Others place it “east of the Jordan River”: http://www.dictionary.com/browse/abel-meholah
For instance, “Abel Meholah in Gilead” http://www.aboutbibleprophecy.com/p158.htm
The matter is further complicated by uncertainty as to the location of the “land of Buz”. However, it is commonly associated with the land of Uz (Job’s home), which land we have determined, in:
A Common Sense Geography of the Book of Tobit
to have been the fertile Hauran valley region of Bashan.
King Esarhaddon of Assyria mentions both lands, Uz and Buz, his Ḫazû and Bazû, with the latter being 75 miles further (reckoning from Nineveh), according to F. Delitzsch. See e.g.: https://www.jstor.org/stable/3156857?seq=3#page_scan_tab_contents
An “Abel Meholah in Gilead”, bordering on Bashan, would appear to be a suitable scenario. “The limits of Bashan are very strictly defined. It extended from the “border of Gilead …”.”
A location in Gilead would mean that the prophet Elisha hailed from the same land as did “Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead …” (I Kings 17:1), with whom Elisha was a very close acquaintance – he being Elijah’s chosen disciple.
Family of Ram
Despite the difficulties that commentators have had in explaining Elihu’s “family of Ram” - e.g. does “Ram” stand for Aram (Syrian)? - I think that we can be quite clear about its meaning now in light of the fact that our Barachel (Jehoiada), great ancestor of Elihu, was married to the daughter of king Jehoram (Ram) of Judah. She was Jehosheba (2 Kings 11:2):
But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Jehoram and sister of Ahaziah, took Joash son of Ahaziah and stole him away from among the royal princes, who were about to be murdered. She put him and his nurse in a bedroom to hide him from Athaliah; so he was not killed.
Elihu’s “Ram”, then, must refer to Jeho-Ram, indicating Elihu’s royal connections through his ancestor, the priest Jehoiada (var. Barachel/Elisha).