The Revenge of the Man of God

Conflict and Resolution in the Rise and Fall of the Divided Monarchies

  • David Ackerman Asia Pacific Nazarene Theological Seminary, Philippines
Keywords: Jeroboam, Bethel, Man of God, Divided Kingdom, Josiah


Most scholars recognize literary problems in the two stories about the man of God found in 1 Kings 13. The older school of literary criticism has asked what redactional layers might be present, whether a prophetic source or redaction stands behind this story or a prophetic legend has been transformed by the Deuteronomist. Newer literary approaches show that the episodes involving the man of God play vital roles in the development of the larger plot of the downfall of the northern kingdom of Israel with Jeroboam and the rise of the southern kingdom with Josiah. The unnamed man of God becomes symbolic of the obedience and disobedience of the monarchy.

The story of the man of God in 1 Kings 13 has been carefully crafted into a two-sided plot. One scene is positive, the other negative. Conflict in this plot between the word of Yahweh spoken through the man of God and the altar at Bethel is not resolved until 2 Kings 23. The surface conflicts between the human characters become symbolic of the deeper conflict between Yahweh and other gods. The theme of obedience or disobedience to the divine word emerges from this deeper plot.


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