Old Testament Essays
On-line version ISSN 2312-3621
BRANCH, Robin Gallaher. A case of spousal abuse? A study of the marriage of Jeroboam I (1 Kings 14:1-18). Old testam. essays [online]. 2009, vol.22, n.2, pp. 253-280. ISSN 2312-3621.
The biblical text introduces Jeroboam with high praise as a hayil, a man of standing (1 Kgs 11:28). However, something is wrong in his household. Using a cross-disciplinary approach incorporating a close textual reading informed by reader-response criticism, canonical considerations,2 and psychology, this article focuses on the unnamed, silent wife of Jeroboam and argues that she and her marriage reflect the classic signs of a kind of suffering now termed spousal abuse. Although the vignette recounts no evidence of physical beating, textual evidence supporting the view that the wife of Jeroboam experiences abuse includes the following: her isolation, passivity, and instant obedience. Textual evidence that Jeroboam operates as an abusive husband includes his control over her comings and goings; his command-mode mentality in addressing her; his lack of compassion toward her; his cowardice in sending her to Ahijah instead of going himself; and his earlier violence toward the man of God (1 Kgs 13).