Published online by Cambridge University Press: 19 November 2020
This study began by observing how the declining health of rulers can lead to political instability, regime change, and even wars. In biblical historiography, by contrast, the motif of the sick king is used to reflect on the nature of kingship in its relation to gods, the people, dynasties, and nations. By utilizing Charles E. Rosenberg’s concepts of “disease as frame” and “framing disease,” this study has contextualized and analyzed the representation of royal illness in biblical historiography.1 The picture that has emerged allows for conclusions about the depiction of royal illness that are otherwise not readily apparent. It can now be shown how the physical and mental deterioration of kings is either framed by the king’s sinful behavior or is used as a frame for prophetic oracles and for royal apologetics. Despite these differences in representation, the imagery and language surrounding the physical and mental demise of kings is used in both the Deuteronomistic History and in Chronicles as an opportunity to reflect on social issues relating to the role of kingship in Israel’s and Judah’s monarchic past by providing an announcement of and an explanation for the eventual destruction of these nations.