Royal Ideology in Ancient Israel

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The ongoing threat of invasion from the Philistines to some extent brought about the conditions for a monarchy within Israel. A line of charismatic Judges protected Israel before the adoption of the kingship. Thus it is evident that the change from a patriarchal, loosely-knit tribal rule to a centralised government with a monarch required much self understanding, a strong stance against anti-monarchical views and tolerance of royal ideology, which had in part to be appropriated from neighbouring monarchies.

Saul bridged that chasm well as he was chosen by Yahweh primarily as a defender of his nation against continual threat from invasion. Nevertheless the introduction of the monarchy did not occur without criticism despite the subtle transition due to Saul's previous charismatic status. Incredible tension formed as underlined in I Samuel 7-15, stemming between early pro-monarchic sources and a later anti-monarchic one. The anti-monarchic sentiments (I Sam 8:7) revealed a reflective criticism of the monarchy, which is probably exilic in origin. I Sam 8:11-18 revealed the root of the criticism and the nature of the kingship in the ancient world. The pious were not the dissenters rather the rich farmers who did not wish to pay taxes to the centralised government. In Marx's ideology it is the Base economic loss which caused the religious or Super Structure criticism of the monarchy.

Obviously if monarchy underwent criticism from conception there was some ideological justification for this. Whitelam notes "The dissemination of a royal ideology containing important images, attitudes, and ideals associated with kingship was carried out by a centralised bureaucracy and specialists." Textual form, expressing legitimacy and righte...

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...value="7"> Information taken from King and Kingship Lecture notes on Shiloh and Gilgal.

Alt, A. "The Monarchy in Kingdoms Israel and Judah", Essays on Old Testament History and Religion, Blackwell 1966. p.243.

"Monarchy in kingdoms of Israel and Judah", p. 248.

"Monarchy in kingdom of Israel and Judah", p. 249-50.


Alt, A. "The Monarchy in Kingdoms Israel and Judah", Essays on Old Testament History and Religion, Blackwell 1966.

Day, "The Canaanite Inheritance of the Israelite Monarchy", King & Messiah in the Ancient Near East (ed. J. Day), Sheffield 1998.

Noth, "God, King and Nation in the Old Testament", The Laws in the Pentateuch and other Essays, Oliver & Boyd 1966.

Whitelam, "King and Kingship", The Anchor Bible Dictionary (Volume IV), edited by D.N. Freedman, Double Day, 1992.
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