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The Frame of Sacrificing in Judges

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image of Vetus Testamentum

AbstractElements of the semantic frame of Sacrificing recurrently appear at key positions throughout the narratives of Judges. Humans in Judges are violently treated as animals, and many times treated as victims brought to sacrifice. This is the case of Ehud Ben Gera killing Eglon, the cutting of Adoni-Bezekʼs fingers by the tribe of Judah, and the Philistines slaughtered by Shamgar’s oxgoad, thus suggesting images of cattle violently handled by the Israelite judges. In addition, Jephthahʼs daughter is sacrificed, and an Israelite concubine is slaughtered by a Levite. Other elements present in the narratives also evoke the semantic frame of Sacrificing; Abimelech kills his brothers on a single stone, which may represent an altar. He scatters salt over the city of Shechem, a procedure connected to the preparation of sacrifices in the Bible, and Ehud Ben Gerahʼs right thigh symbolizes the thigh of the altar (Lev 1:11). These actual and symbolic acts of violence and sacrificing point at a deterioration of moral standards in the period of the Judges, and perhaps implicitly criticize the priestly way of life, in which sacrificing is a significant procedure.

Affiliations: 1: The Department of Hebrew Culture StudiesBible UnitTel Aviv


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