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2 - Royal Illness in the Story Cycles of Elijah and Elisha

from Part I - The Failure of Kingship and the Demise of the Nation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 November 2020

Isabel Cranz
Affiliation:
University of Pennsylvania
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Summary

This chapter shows how the story-cycles of Elijah and Elisha use royal illness to provide a Yahwistic perspective for the political and cultic crises of the ninth century. In 1 Kgs 22:52–2 Kgs 1, Elijah uses Ahaziah’s illness as an opportunity to emphasize the superiority of Yahweh as the national god of Israel. In a similar vein, we witness in 2 Kgs 8:7–15, how Elisha uses the illness and death of Ben-Hadad to anticipate the disastrous effects of Hazael’s reign, which leads to a temporary period of hardship for the Israelites and can be interpreted as a punishment for Baal-worship. In both instances the oracles associate the king’s illness and premature death with the cultic misconduct of dynasties and people.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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