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Why Not Her?

A Form and Literary-Critical Interpretation of the Named and Unnamed Women in the Elijah and Elisha Narratives


Hye Kyung Park

In this book, Hye Kyung Park examines the functions and roles of the women who appear in the Elijah and Elisha narratives. The named and unnamed female characters in the Elijah and Elisha cycles frequently drive the plot of these narratives, giving a voice to important theological, historical, and social concerns that are otherwise overlooked. Consequently, this book elaborates upon the critical meaning of women’s voices through a close interpretation of the roles and functions attributed to women in 1 Kings 17:8–24; 2 Kings 4:8–37, 5, and 8:1–6.
These female figures and presences include the Zarephath woman in 1 Kings 17:8–24, twenty-nine third-person feminine verbs to emphasize the Shunammite woman’s frequent appearances in 2 Kings 4:8–37, the Israelite girl as a prophetess in 2 Kings 5, and the Shunammite woman’s return in 2 Kings 8:1–6. Even though the various women in 1 Kings and 2 Kings have not been named throughout the biblical traditions, their presence and actions were crucial for advancing the prophetic narratives concerning Elijah and Elisha. Indeed, the women are crucial to the Elijah and Elisha narratives, both in terms of advancing the plot of the narratives and defining the roles of the prophets presented within.

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Chapter Six: The Unnamed Woman 3: The Israelite Girl, as the Prophetess, in 2 Kings 5


← 160 | 161 → CHAPTER SIX

The Israelite Girl, as the Prophetess, in 2 Kings 5

Second Kings 5 is a well-known story compared with other biblical texts treated in my study. The story ends dramatically when Elisha demonstrates his power by healing Naaman’s leprosy.1 The healing highlights the relationship between the Israelite prophet and the Aramean commander. Elisha’s power overwhelms Naaman’s illness. Elisha’s power to heal comes from the same source same as his power to revive the dead son in 2 Kings 4:8–37. However, the Naaman narrative has become much more famous from its reference in the Christian Gospel of Luke. The Naaman narrative is an example of complete transformation that demonstrates the Lordship of Israel’s God over the world. The gentile is healed and he confesses “Now I know that there is no God in all the earth except in Israel” (2 Kings 5:15, NRSV). However, Naaman loses, because he cannot resist bowing down in Rimmon’s temple, in Aram. In addition, he requests a pardon in advance for not worshipping the Israelite God whom he confesses as the only God in all the earth. Therefore, the assignment of the main character of the Naaman narrative moves from Naaman to the Israelite girl, who recognizes the problem of the narrative and suggests that Elisha heal Naaman’s leprosy. The DtrH willingly edits the Israelite girl’s story into the Naaman narrative to enforce the Israelite victory over Aram in 2 Kings 6:8–7:20....

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