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A Poem within a Poem: Some Literary Aspects of the Lament for Saul and Jonathan

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Chapter Summary

The Hebrew Bible is undoubtedly a very serious work, or rather a small library of very serious books. This chapter attempts to apply some new insights about language play in the Hebrew Bible to a well-known text, namely David's elegy on the death of his predecessor Saul and Saul's son and David's friend Jonathan. It makes a new attempt to explain the form of the poem, with the help of one general observation about the stories which deal with the beginning of David's career, and of the comparison with some types of language play in biblical Hebrew prose, namely peculiar types of ambiguity, surprise, interruption and the use of the form of language to express the emotions or character of the speaker. The use of strategy reveals David's feelings that turn a rather conventional dirge for the dead king and his son into a personal lament for the lost friend.

Keywords:David; Hebrew Bible; Jonathan; Saul; language

10.1163/9789004240841_023
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