Date of Award
Master of Arts
Religion, MA: Old Testament
Roy E. Gane
Problem The execution of Saul’s descendants in 2 Sam 21:1-14 has long been interpreted as resulting from David’s succession motives, and may appear to be posthumous ruler punishment, expiation on Saul’s behalf, or an error in judgment on David’s part in whom to turn to in order to know what to do in this case. In addition, the delay in justice until David’s reign for something that Saul had done is puzzling. Method Analysis of the Hebrew text, comparison between ANE and biblical homicide law, examination of the sociological structure of the ANE family, examination of the characters of Saul and David, and intertextual analysis of Scripture contribute to a clearer understanding of the roles of the characters and how justice was achieved. Conclusions Close examination of the text and its cultural background reveals that Saul’s descendants died for inheritable corporate culpability that polluted the land as a result of his mass murder that violated an oath taken in YHWH’s name. The narrative begins with a famine and ends with the phrase God “was moved by prayer for the land,” which appears to give approval to the actions that precede it. This narrative demonstrates that restoration of justice is necessary for healing of the land. By delaying the famine until the reign of David, who enjoyed a positive relationship with God himself, God facilitated the limitation of retributive justice to a few responsible individuals.
Theodicy., Justice--Biblical teaching.
Rhodes, Carrie S., "Theodicy and Execution for Expiation in 2 Samuel 21:1-14" (2009). Master's Theses. 50.
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