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Old Testament Essays

versión On-line ISSN 2312-3621
versión impresa ISSN 1010-9919

Old testam. essays vol.22 no.2 Pretoria  2009


A case of spousal abuse? A study of the marriage of Jeroboam I (1 Kings 14:1-18)1



Robin Gallaher Branch

North-West University, Potchefstroom





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).



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Robin Gallaher Branch
Professor in Biblical Studies
Crichton College, Memphis, Tennessee, USA
Extraordinary Associate Professor
Faculty of Theology, North-West University
Potchefstroom, South Africa



1 This article builds on my earlier published work, Robin Gallaher Branch, "The Wife of Jeroboam, 1 Kings 14:1-18: The Incredible, Riveting, History-Changing Significance of an Unnamed, Overlooked, Ignored, Obedient, Obscure Woman" Old Testament Essays, 17/2 (2004):157-167.
2 Westminster Confession of Faith, I:6: “The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man's salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture.”

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