God Appeased by Homicide? 2 Samuel 21:1–14 in View of Some Hittite and Assyrian Parallels

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    Present-day readers, including Jews and Christians, tend to be shocked by the account of the purposeful execution of seven descendants of Saul in 2 Samuel 21:1–14. Traditionally, the narrative was presumed to justify David’s decision to have them killed. Nowadays, the story is often read with suspicion. Does the homicide really serve a purpose, and is the way in which it is justified convincing? The elimination of Saul’s relatives may have served David well. A new analysis of three non-biblical texts from the ancient Near East demonstrates that the plot of the biblical episode largely fits a known conceptual pattern. This pattern indicates what a responsible king must do in times of misery. The comparison shows that some critical readings of 2 Samuel 21:1–14 lack a solid basis, while others have a point. Despite the elements that do not make sense to twenty-first-century readers, both the biblical and the non-biblical texts appear to exhibit positive aspects of ancient religious thinking.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationViolence in the Hebrew Bible
    Subtitle of host publicationBetween Text and Reception
    EditorsJacques van Ruiten, Koert van Bekkum
    Place of PublicationLeiden
    PublisherBrill Academic Publishers
    Number of pages40
    ISBN (Electronic)978-90-04-43468-4
    ISBN (Print)978-90-04-43467-7
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020

    Publication series

    NameOld Testament Studies

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