"I will utterly sweep away everything from the face of the earth"
Tubbs Loya, Melissa. “"I will utterly sweep away everything from the face of the earth"”, Boston College, 2010. http://hdl.handle.net/2345/3732.
This study defines and explores the theme of decreation, or the unmaking of all creation by Yahweh or one of his agents in response to human wrongdoing, as it appears in examples of Israel's prophetic literature. In the books of Amos, Hosea, Zephaniah, and Jeremiah--which when taken together represent prophetic traditions in both the northern and southern kingdoms and range from the eighth to the sixth centuries B.C.E.--decreation is described as a reversal of creation through desiccation, flood, desolation, darkening, quaking, melting, and an annulment of the cult. The specific events that comprise decreation differ from prophet to prophet, although between texts there appears an overlap in the language and imagery used to depict the effects of Yahweh's unmaking. The reasons given for the phenomenon also vary from prophet to prophet, as the theme is recast to convey specific indictments against Israel and Judah. Some prophets identify particular crimes as the direct cause of decreation, including broken covenant provisions and the worship of foreign deities, while others speak more generally of Israel's guilt. These texts share the idea that the entire cosmos can be unmade as a result of human wrongdoing. Israel can act in ways so contrary to Yahweh's intentions for creation, in other words, that the entire system of created order is put in jeopardy and the assurances given at the moment of creation are threatened. In some instances in the prophetic literature decreation has already begun, though in others it remains a looming threat. In all cases, the examined prophets warn, decreation is a complete dismantling of created order. Given this, it is not a surprise that many prophetic depictions of decreation reflect traditions that also appear in biblical creation accounts. In particular, the descriptions of precreation found in the Priestly writer's and the Yahwist's creation narratives resonate in many prophetic portrayals of a return to the state of things before Yahweh fashioned the heavens and the earth. This and other correlations between prophetic decreation texts and the Priestly and Yahwist creation accounts raise questions in the study regarding the dating of the Pentateuchal sources.