Hope for Reconciliation in a Divided Kingdom: Allusions to the Joseph Narrative in 1 Kings 11–14

This paper examines inner-biblical allusions to the Joseph narratives in 1 Kings 11-14, with an eye to resolving some of the interpretive difficulties of those chapters. Bodner has written that one of “the more innovative trends in recent research is the identification of allusions to the Joseph narrative within the closing lines of Kings” (Bodner 2019, 223). Beyond those allusions at the end of the Book of Kings that appropriate Joseph’s hope in Israel’s future exodus and restoration (2 Kgs. 25:27–30; Chan 2013), Hordes (2021) has also observed allusions to Joseph’s wisdom at the beginning of the Book of Kings (1 Kgs. 3). This paper will identify another extensive series of more than twenty-five verbal allusions to the Joseph narratives in 1 Kings 11–14 that focus our reading of the division of the twelve tribes through the lens of the division (and reunification) of the tribal patriarchs in Genesis 37–50. In this paper, we will investigate how the allusions in 1 Kings 11–13 shape our interpretation by following the plot of Genesis 37–50, while allusions in 1 Kings 14 reflect on the beginning and end of the Joseph cycle to offer a concluding condemnation against human wisdom for accomplishing God’s good purposes. Then, this paper will seek to answer two major questions: (1) By recognizing this extended allusion to the Joseph narratives, might we gain a better grasp on some of the most difficult exegetical questions in those chapters, such as the owner of the new garment that Ahijah tears (Cogan 2000; Chun 2006; Sonia 2020), the missing piece of that torn garment (Gray 1963; Provan 1995), the death of the man of God from Judah (Leithart 2006), and the disguise of Jeroboam’s wife (Coggins 1991)? (2) What do these allusions in 1 Kings 11–14 suggest regarding the relationship between wisdom and future hope in the Book of Kings, as suggested by the two other sets of Joseph allusions (Harvey 2010)? Ultimately, this paper will argue that the Book of Kings embeds a message of hope for the future reconciliation of the twelve tribes even from the very beginnings of their division—a hope that will be realized through divine providence and apart from human wisdom.

6 thoughts on “Hope for Reconciliation in a Divided Kingdom: Allusions to the Joseph Narrative in 1 Kings 11–14”

  1. Jacob D. Gerber
    I’d like to give him a chance and see what he has to say.
    Gary has convinced me that allusions to the patriarchal narratives are all over the place!!


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