Unexpected Destruction: An Exegetical and Thematic Study of Ironic אבד in 2 Kings

This paper focuses on the use of אבד in 2 Kings 11, 2 Kings 21, and 2 Kings 24. In these passages, the term אבד takes on an ironic quality, where the desired destruction by humans is thwarted by God and turned back on their heads. This paper surveys the usages of אבד in order to establish ironic אבד as a viable category of meaning for אבד. This paper consults these chapters and their surrounding contexts as well as briefly overviewing other passages in order to establish the grounds of a wider contextual meaning of אבד than is typically seen in its standard definition of “destruction.” The contextualized meaning of אבד in these passages serves to support a key theological point made by the text, namely God’s sovereignty over the desires of His enemies. The ironic category has a tremendous impact on our understanding of these passages and our understanding of אבד in general, as it serves to heighten God’s sovereignty over the wicked. This demonstrates that God’s desires and plans are fulfilled while the desires of the enemies of God are repaid to the wicked. The current literature on this topic explores the concepts of reversal and discusses the significance of the historical figures, for example Athaliah and Manasseh. But currently, the scholarly literature does not consider אבד’s significance in these contexts. This paper, therefore, fulfills a need in scholarship as it explores the authorial significance of utilizing אבד in these contexts, which serves to emphasize the concepts of reversal in a new way.

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