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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 Seven: The Unnamed Woman 4: The Shunammite Woman’s Return in 2 Kings 8:1–6


← 190 | 191 → CHAPTER SEVEN

The Shunammite Woman’s Return in 2 Kings 8:1–6

The Shunammite woman of 2 Kings 4:8–37 returns in 2 Kings 8:1–6. In this narrative, she appears as a plaintiff before the Israelite king to seek justice for her house and field. The king as a judge decides in her favor. The unnamed woman’s appeal is granted by the king. The royal court pays attention to her request. This shows that her appeal is important. Her status cannot be ignored by the royal court. She not only has the status of an important person in the royal court, but also functions in a significant role in the DtrH’s narratives. The unnamed woman narrative immediately precedes the narratives of two officers—Hazael of Aram and Jehu of Israel, both of whom become kings by striking down their masters. After the returned woman’s narrative, Hazael and Jehu begin their rule. Hazael suffocates Ben Hadad, and he takes over the throne of Aram (2 Kings 8:7–15). Jehu becomes a king after the assassination of Jehoram (2 Kings 9:1–26). One reads the regnal accounts of two Judean kings: Jehoram (2 Kings 8:16–24) and Ahaziah (2 Kings 8:25–29) between the two revolts. These two Judean kings are not related to the Shunammite woman narrative, since Elisha does not appear in the narratives of the Judean kings. Second Kings 8:1 begins with , which is a...

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