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The Vow to Kill Elisha: Function and Meaning in 2 Kings 6:31–33

In: Vetus Testamentum
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  • 1 Department of Biblical Studies, University of Haifa26748HaifaIsrael
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Abstract

In the story of the siege of Samaria (2 Kgs 6:24–7:20), the passage in which the king surprisingly threatens to kill Elisha (6:31–33) is problematic. This passage also recounts the preparations by Elisha and the elders who are with him for the arrival of the king’s messenger who comes to kill the prophet (6:32). Eventually, and without explanation, the king abandons his initial intention to kill Elisha (6:33). This strange passage does not promote the plot and its function in the story is not clear.

An analysis of this passage in its context leads to the recognition that the story is not unified and reveals the stages of its development. Understanding the motivation for developing the story leads to another conclusion: that the formation of this story is closely related to the wider context, namely the redaction of the Elisha cycle.

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