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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

Legitimacy, Illegitimacy, and the Right to Rule: Windows on Abimelech's Rise and Demise in Judges 9
Oeste, Gordon K.

New York: T&T Clark, 2011 pp. xiii + 267. $140.00

Series Information
Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies, 546


Description: This book explores the portrayal of the rise, reign, and demise of Abimelech in Judges 9 and asks about whose interests this portrayal may have served. The negative depiction of Abimelechís kingship in this chapter, coupled with Gideonís rejection of kingship in Judges 8:22-23, has led interpreters to view the passage as anti-monarchic. This perspective clashes with the pro-monarchic stance of Judges 17-21. However, while the portrayal of Abimelechís kingship is negative, it may yet have served as a legitimation strategy for the monarchy. In support, this study examines Judges 9 through three methodological lenses: a narrative analysis, a rhetorical analysis and a social scientific analysis. In addition, anthropological data on early and developing states shows that such states attempt to prevent fissioning (the tendency inherent within political systems to break up and form other similar units) by subverting local leaders, groups, and institutions, and so legitimate the centralization of power. When read in this light, Judges 9 supports monarchic interests by seeking to subvert localized rule and alliances in favor of a centralized polity.

Subjects: Bible, Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Historical Books, Judges, Literature

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Review by Trent C. Butler
Published 4/20/2012
Citation: Trent C. Butler, review of Gordon K. Oeste, Legitimacy, Illegitimacy, and the Right to Rule: Windows on Abimelech's Rise and Demise in Judges 9, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2012).


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