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Old Testament Essays

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

Old testam. essays vol.24 no.3 Pretoria  2011


Patrimonialism in the causes of the division of the kingdom in Israel: A reading of the division narrative from the perspective of the Rwandan context of social conflict



Eraste Nyirimana






The account of the division of the kingdom of Israel reported in 1 Kgs 11-14 shows a tension between the recounted episode in itself and its global contextual framework. On one hand, the narrative reports the event as a divinely fated event resulting from Yahweh's judgment on Solomon's apostasy. On the other hand, the larger context described in the biblical traditions as well as the social history of Israel indicate that the division resulted from socio-economic problems that developed throughout the history of Israel. These problems revolved around the people's resistance against the leaders who, instead of serving the people, exploited them through patrimonial regimes in which the leaders appealed to kinship relations to consolidate their rules. Aspects of this socio-economic conflict in Israel find parallels in contemporary social conflicts in Africa and elsewhere. The present essay attempts a comparative and evaluative approach that establishes a dialogue between the context of social conflict in Israel and the context of similar conflict in Rwanda. Issues that provide the space for interaction in the present article include the attitude of political leaders whose inequitable regimes jeopardized social unity; then the deliberate decision of the same leaders to ignore the voice of the peacemakers resulting in tragedies. The paper argues that patrimonialism contributed to conflicts in both contexts. A dialogical interaction between the contexts of conflict in Israel and in Rwanda is preceded by a brief description of the comparative approach adopted in this paper.



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Dr Eraste Nyirimana
Post-doctoral Research, Department of Biblical Studies
University of Kwazulu-Natal

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