The King and the Land: A Geography of Royal Power in the Biblical World

ISBN : 9780199361885

Stephen C. Russell
304 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Dec 2016
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In The King and the Land, Stephen C. Russell offers a history of space and power in the biblical world by demonstrating how the monarchies in ancient Israel and Judah asserted their power over strategically important spaces such as privately-held lands, religious buildings, collectively-governed towns, and urban water systems. Case studies in the book treat Solomon's use of foreign architecture (1 Kings 5-8), David's dedication of land to Yahweh (2 Samuel 24), Jehu's decommissioning of Baal's temple (2 Kings 10), Absalom's navigation of the collective politics of Levantine towns (2 Samuel 15), and Hezekiah's reshaping of the tunnels that supplied Jerusalem with water (2 Kings 20; 2 Chronicles 32). Steeped in archaeological and textual evidence, this book contextualizes Israelite and Judahite royal and tribal politics within broader patterns of ancient Near Eastern spatial power. By providing a historical investigation into the nature of power and physical space in the Iron Age Levant, this book also offers fresh literary readings of the biblical texts that anchor its theses.


1. Solomon's Temple: On Space, Power, and Ancient Evidence
2. David's Threshing Floor: On Royal Dedication of Land to the Gods
3. Jehu's Dung Heap: On Royal Decommissioning of Religious Space
4. Absalom's Gate: On Royal Navigation of Collective Urban Politics
5. Hezekiah's Tunnel: On Royal Shaping of the Water Supply
6. Summary
Index of Ancient Sources
Index of Authors
Index of Subjects

About the author: 

Stephen C. Russell is Assistant Professor of Ancient History at John Jay College, CUNY.

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