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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

The Mystery of the House of Royal Women: Royal Pīlagšīm As Secondary Wives in the Old Testament
Davidovich, Tal

Uppsala: Uppsala Universitet, 2007 pp. 214. $43.50

Series Information
Studia Semitica Upsaliensia, 23

Description: This study focuses on one of the groups of royal women in the OT who were considered the spouses of the king: the group of the royal pilagshim, who had a kind of secondary status in the household. Having pilagshim was not a privilege reserved to the kings, but was also practiced by other leaders, like the forefathers and the judges. One may assume continuity in the existence of this phenomenon in Ancient Israel. It encompasses several hundreds of women. In this work we studied the narrator’s descriptions of a phenomenon through his story telling and not necessarily a certain reality. The aim of this study is to shed light on the secondary status of royal women, especially one of the groups to which they belonged, the group called “royal pilagshim”. Although this group occupied a somewhat secondary place in the hierarchy in the house of royal women, it constituted one of the big groups of royal women in the palace, if not the biggest one, and some of the women belonging to this group had great importance both to the life in the palace and to the political events in the different kingdoms. By examining the different functions of these women in the palaces as they are described in the OT, some aspects of the life of royal women, not only those belonging to this particular group and not only those of secondary status, are revealed, and the hierarchy of women in the royal house is emphasised. Furthermore, reasons why some men became king while others did not; emerge from the results of the discussion about these women’s children. Thus, we can better understand the powers that controlled the kingdoms described in the OT both in the darkness of the night and in broad daylight.

Subjects: Methods, Historical Approaches, History, History of Israel, Social-Scientific Approaches, Sociology

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Review by Yael Shemesh
Published 2/21/2009
Citation: Yael Shemesh, review of Tal Davidovich, The Mystery of the House of Royal Women: Royal Pīlagšīm As Secondary Wives in the Old Testament, Review of Biblical Literature [] (2009).

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