Politics of Dead Kings
Dynastic Ancestors in the Book of Kings & Ancient Israel
Forschungen zum Alten Testament 2. Reihe, No. 48
By Matthew J. Suriano
Distributed by Coronet Books Inc.
$107.50 Paper original
In the narrative of Israel and Judah found in the Book of Kings, the end of a king’s rule is summed up in a series of stock statements that begin with the poetic idiom for death: “and [the king] lay with his fathers.” The summary statements all revolve around the problem of royal death and succession, encapsulated in a brief epilogue that consisted typically of a notice of burial (in the royal tombs) and the introduction of the successor. As such, the formulaic statements conveyed royal legitimacy through the ideals of political continuity and the linear descent of power.
The formulaic epilogues reflected the importance of funerary rituals and royal tombs in their ability to confront the political problem posed by a king’s death and the subsequent act of dynastic succession. This political ideology found in the epilogues of Kings was consistent with the political landscape of the Levant during the Iron Age.
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