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The Untold Story of the Kingdom of Judah

(D8) The Untold Story of the Historical Reality in Elisha’s Stories

Prof. Oded Lipschits

The description of the major low point in Israel’s history during the reigns of Jehu and his son Joahaz was interwoven with the set of stories about the prophet Elisha, and few of the long chapters taken from the prophetic stories refer to the geopolitical reality that existed in Israel during this period of time. It seems that apart from the basic information that the biblical historiographers had in the kings lists, they drew all the other information from the prophetic stories, and despite the important information that was in these stories, and the historiographers’ understanding of this information, they preferred to place Elisha’s stories before the days of Jehu and Joahaz, and this out of ideological and literary considerations and from a desire to keep these stories close to the written source from which the information was drawn. Placing the story where the biblical historiographers decided to place it created a large and unbridgeable gap between the historical reality and the description of things as they are in the Book of Kings, evidence that from the historiographers’ point of view, historical reliability, the accuracy of the details and the correct placement of the facts was not the most important consideration.

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