Book Reviews: Mourning in the Bible: Coping with Loss in Biblical Literature

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There are various reactions to death throughout the Bible: Shemesh traces anger (the widow of Zarephath's reaction to her son's death in 1 Kings 17), blood vengeance (Shemesh interprets David's order to have Joab killed in 1 Kings 2 as a deferred act of revenge for Absalom's death.), depression (as exhibited by David over Absalom's death, and by Jacob when he believed Joseph had been killed by a wild animal), and acceptance (David following the death of Bathsheba's infant, and Job). In chapter 6 Shemesh takes a look at the role of women in mourning rites and rituals in the ancient Near East and the Bible, and in the final two chapters of the book, her strong literary skills are evident in her analysis of two narratives related to mourning and bereavement--the David narratives (which "more than any other literary unit in the Bible, provide an extensive, comprehensive range of information regarding all that pertains to mourning"), and the story of Rizpah, Saul's concubine (2 Samuel 21). Other instances are also subject to this debate, such as the documentation of weeping at funerals (67); some might claim that this reflects spontaneous exhibition of emotion, while there may be room to assert the opposite. [...]she notes throughout the book that in every culture people learn to express their grief through formal ritual, which allows them to channel their emotions and express their pain publicly.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)397-399
JournalAJS Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2016


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