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Children in Ancient IsraelThe Hebrew Bible and Mesopotamia in Comparative Perspective$
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Shawn W. Flynn

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198784210

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198784210.001.0001

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When Children Die

When Children Die

The Interplay between Value and Violence

4 (p.111) When Children Die
Children in Ancient Israel

Shawn W. Flynn

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines texts in which children experience violence. By examining childhood violence in war contexts, we see how brutal treatment is used in promotional texts for its rhetorical effect. Likewise, violence against children through curses is met with an equally robust societal response. Further, child sacrifice is rarely practiced but had broad narrative impact. In childhood burials, we see a high regard for children reflecting the child’s value in the domestic cult. These contexts frame how we read childhood violence in the Hebrew Bible. Psalm 137 and 2 Kings 8:11–12 offer a poetic and narrative example of how violence against children assumes a child’s value in order to be effective texts. This is demonstrated through 2 Samuel 12 and the boys and the bears in 2 Kings 2 as well as in Genesis 22. To be rhetorically effective, violence used against children assumes their broadly held value.

Keywords:   childhood burials, child sacrifice, violence and value, Genesis 22, Psalm 137, 2 Kings 8

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