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xiv + 127 pp.

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Abigail, Wife of David, and Other Ancient Oriental Women
Edited by Daniel Bodi

This is the first book devoted to the biblical figure of Abigail, whose encounter with David is narrated in 1 Samuel 25. An interdisciplinary study, its seven papers combine biblical criticism, narratology, history of religions, Assyriology and the study of midrash.

One article (by Michaël Guichard) brings to light a major historical analogy from the Mari documents to the triangular relationship of Abigail, Nabal and David. The career of the princess Inib-sharri, first married to an old sheikh, and, after his sudden, mysterious death, to a younger princeling, provides a very apt analogy to that of Abigail.

Another article (by Daniel Bodi) compares David’s way of seizing power to the pattern of seizing power in the ancient Near East: Zimri-Lim in Mari, Idrimi in Alalakh, and the ‘Apiru in the Amarna texts serve as analogies to David.

The tale of David as an ambitious warlord taking power through marriage can be paralleled by the myth of Nergal and Ereshkigal; in its older Amarna version Nergal takes power through violence whereas in its Assyrian version his power is due to Ereshkigal’s seduction and love. The Abigail story combines both aspects, beginning with violence and ending with marriage (Jean-Jacques Glassner).

Some rabbis saw Abigail as a seducer and a hellish type of woman. The final articles (by Bodi and Jean-Marie Husser) show that, while her behaviour might be ambiguous, she should not be branded a scarlet woman.

Daniel Bodi is Professor of History of Religions of Antiquity at the University of Paris IV – La Sorbonne.

Series: Hebrew Bible Monographs, 60
978-1-909697-04-1 hardback
Publication October 2013