The motif of beauty in the books of Samuel and kings

Michael Avioz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


It is well-known that there are no detailed descriptions of the physical beauty of specific characters in the Bible. Despite this "disclaimer", we seek to treat descriptions of such beauty in the books of Samuel and Kings in this article as they are manifested in stories of male (Saul, Eliab, David, Absalom, and Adonijah) and female figures (Abigail, Bathsheba, Tamar, and Abishag the Shunammite). We shall attempt to answer the following questions: What are the opinions of the authors of Samuel and Kings on physical appearance? Is a distinction drawn between masculine and feminine beauty? What are the purposes of pointing out a specific character's physical beauty? An analysis of the Biblical convocations is conducted according to the literary approach. The article focuses on methods used to cast the characters and on analogies between the various stories, and tries to draw conclusions regarding trends in the books of Samuel and Kings, as well as on the homogeneity of Deuteronomistic history.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)341-359
Number of pages19
JournalVetus Testamentum
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
*) I would like to thank the Beit Shalom Foundation of Japan and the Ihel fund for their support in the preparation of this manuscript. I also thank Dr. Yael Shemesh for reading and commenting on the first draft of the article.


  • Beauty
  • Deuteronomistic history
  • Hebrew bible
  • Literary analysis


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