2 Samuel and the Architecture of Poetic Justice


  • Ekaterina E. Kozlova London School of Theology




entrance ways, paraklausithyron, Tamar, Amnon, Absalom, David


The so-called Succession Narrative abounds in references to locales and architectural structures used by royals and their aides to their advantage in matters of private and national interests. This article considers two episodes, which feature individuals lamenting near entrance ways: in 2 Sam 13:1–20 Tamar, David’s daughter, laments on either side of the door to Amnon’s private quarters; and in 2 Sam 18:33–19:1–4, David laments over the city gate. Using studies on the intersection of place, ideology, and behaviour and analysing the bolted door and the chambered gate within their immediate contexts and a wider narrative space (i.e., the Absalom crisis), this article discusses the role these structures play in the construction of David’s reign.


Adelman, Rachel. “The Rape of Tamar as a Prefiguration for the Fate of Fair Zion.” Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 37 (2021): 87–102.

Alter, Robert. The David Story: A Translation with Commentary of 1 and 2 Samuel. New York: W.W. Norton, 1999.

Anderson, Cheryl B. Women, Ideology, and Violence: The Construction of Gender in the Book of the Covenant and Deuteronomic Law. Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series 394. London: T&T Clark, 2004.

Anderson, Gary A. A Time to Mourn, A Time to Dance: The Expression of Grief and Joy in Israelite Religion. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1991.

Auld, A. Graeme. I & II Samuel: A Commentary. Old Testament Library. Louisville: John Knox Press, 2012.

Bail, Ulrike. Gegen das Schweigen Klagen: Eine Intertextuelle Studie zu den Klagepsalmen Ps 6 und Ps 55 und der Erzählung von der Verwaltigung Tamars. Gütersloh: Gütersloher Verlagshaus, 1998.

Barré, Michael L. “‘Wandering about’ as a Topos of Depression in Ancient Near Eastern Literature and in the Bible.” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 60 (2001): 177–187.

Bender, Claudia. Die Sprache des Textilen. Untersuchungen zu Kleidung und Textilien im Alten Testament. Beiträge zur Wissenschaft vom Alten und Neuen Testament 17. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 2008.

Berlin, Adele. Poetics and Interpretation of Biblical Narrative. Grand Rapids: Eisenbrauns, 1994.

Berquist, Jon L. “Critical Spatiality and the Construction of the Ancient World.” Pages 14–29 in “Imagining” Biblical Worlds: Studies in Spatial, Social and Historical Constructs in Honor of James W. Flanagan. Edited by David M. Gunn and Paula M. McNutt. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2002.

Brownsmith, Esther. “Getting Steamy in Amnon’s Chamber: Philological and Metaphorical Observations on 2 Samuel 13.” Vetus Testamentum (2021): 1–31.

Cairns, Francis. “The Terms komos and paraclausithyron.” Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies 60 (2020): 262–71.

Camp, Claudia V., and Jon L. Berquist, eds. Constructions of Space II: The Biblical City and Other Imagined Spaces. New York: Bloomsbury, T&T Clark, 2008.

Camp, Claudia V., and Jon L. Berquist, eds. Constructions of Space I: Theory, Geography, and Narrative. Library Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies 481. New York: Bloomsbury, T&T Clark, 2007.

Caspi, Mishael. “‘You Will Have No Reward for the Tidings’: The Run of Ahimaaz and the Run of the Cushite (2 Samuel 18.19–19.5).” Beth Mikra: Journal for the Study of the Bible and Its World 30 (1985): 59–71.

Conroy, Charles. Absalom Absalom! Narrative and Language in 2 Sam 13–20. Analecta Biblica 81. Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1978.

Copley, Frank O. Exclusus Amator: A Study in Latin Love Poetry. Philological Monographs 17. New York: American Philological Association, 1956.

Cresswell, Tim. In Place/Out of Place: Geography, Ideology, and Transgression. Minneapolis: The University of Minnesota Press, 1996.

Davies, Andrew. “Tears in Jerusalem: David’s Response to the Death of Absalom in 2 Samuel and Tomkin’s ‘When David Heard’.” Pages 132–144 in A Critical Engagement: Essays on the Hebrew Bible in Honour of J. Cheryl Exum. Edited by David J.A. Clines and Ellen van Wolde. Hebrew Bible Monographs. Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2011.

De Hemmer Gudme, Anne Katrine. “Inside-Outside: Domestic Living Space in Biblical Memory.” Pages 61–78 in Memory and the City in Ancient Israel. Edited by Diana V. Edelman and Ehud Ben Zvi. Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2014.

De Ward, Eileen F. “Mourning Customs in 1, 2 Samuel.” Journal of Jewish Studies 23 (1972): 1–27.

Dietrich, Walter. “David, Amnon und Abschalom (2 Samuel 13): Literarische, textliche und historische Erwägungen zu den ambivalenten Beziehungen eines Vaters zu seinen Söhnen.” Textus 23 (2007): 115–143.

Doak, Brian R. Heroic Bodies in Ancient Israel. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019.

Driver, Samuel R. Notes on the Hebrew Text of the Books of Samuel. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1913.

Eidelkind, Yakov. “Two Notes on Song 4:12.” Pages 217–236 in Babel und Bibel 3: Annual of Ancient Near Eastern, Old Testament and Semitic Studies. Edited by Leonid E. Kogan, Natalia Koslova, Sergey Loesov, and Serguei Tishchenko. Orientalia et Classica 14. Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2006.

Ephʻal, Israel. The City Besieged: Siege and Its Manifestations in the Ancient Near East. Culture and History of the Ancient Near East 36. Leiden: Brill, 2009.

Exum, J. Cheryl. Song of Songs: A Commentary. Old Testament Library. Louisville: John Knox Press, 2005.

Flanagan, James W. “Ancient Perceptions of Space/Perceptions of Ancient Space.” Semeia 87 (1999): 15–43.

Flanagan, James W. “Mapping the Biblical World: Perceptions of Space in Ancient Southwestern Asia.” Pages 1–18 in Mappa Mundi: Mapping Culture/Mapping the World. Edited by Jacqueline W. Murray. Ontario: Humanities Research Group, 2001.

Fokkelman, Jan P. Narrative Art and Poetry in the Books of Samuel: A Full Interpretation Based on Stylistic and Structural Analyses. Vol. 1. King David (II Samuel 9–20 & I Kings 1–2). Studia Semitica Neerlandica, 20. Assen: Van Gorcum, 1981.

Fox, Michael V. The Song of Songs and the Egyptian Love Songs. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1985.

Frese, Daniel A. “Chambered Gatehouses in the Iron II Southern Levant: Their Architecture and Function.” Levant (2015): 75–92.

Frese, Daniel A. The City Gate in Ancient Israel and Her Neighbors: The Form, Function, and Symbolism of the Civic Forum in the Southern Levant. Culture and History of the Ancient Near East 108. Leiden; Brill, 2019.

Frymer-Kensky, Tikvah. Reading the Women of the Bible: A New Interpretation of Their Stories. New York: Schocken, 2002.

Gault, Brian P. “Avenging Husband and Redeeming Lover? Opposing Portraits of God in Hosea.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 60 (2017): 489–509.

Gault, Brian P. Body as Landscape, Love as Intoxication: Conceptual Metaphors in the Song of Songs. Ancient Israel and Its Literature 36. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2019.

George, Mark, ed. Constructions of Space IV: Further Developments in Examining Ancient Israel’s Social Space. The Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies 569. New York: Bloomsbury, T&T Clark, 2013.

Gilmour, Rachelle. “Sex Scandal and the Politics of David’s Throne.” Journal of Biblical Literature 141 (2022): 83–104.

Gruber, Mayer. Aspects of Nonverbal Communication in the Ancient Near East. Studia Pohl 12. Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1980.

Hachlili, Rachel. Jewish Funerary Customs, Practices and Rites in the Second Temple Period. Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism 94. Leiden: Brill, 2005.

Hartley, John E. The Book of Job. New International Commentary on the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988.

Herzog, Ze'ev. The City Gate in the Land of Israel and Her Neighbours. Tel Aviv: Ha-Makhon le-Arkheologyah, Universitat Tel Aviv, 1976. (Hebrew).

Hicks, R. Lansing. “The Door of Love.” Pages 153–158 in Love and Death in the Ancient Near East: Essays in Honor of Marvin H. Pope. Edited by John H. Marks and Robert M. Good. Suilford: Four Quarters, 1987.

Higgins, Ryan S. “He Would Not Hear Her Voice: From Skilled Speech to Silence in 2 Samuel 13:1–22.” Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 3 (2020): 25–42.

Hill, Andrew E. “A Jonadab Connection in the Absalom Conspiracy?” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 30 (1987): 387–390.

Hutton, Jeremy M. The Transjordanian Palimpsest: The Overwritten Texts of Personal Exile and Transformation in the Deuteronomistic History. Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 396. Berlin: de Gruyter, 2009.

Johnson, Benjamin J.M. “An Unapologetic Apology: The David Story as a Complex Response to Monarchy.” Pages 225–42 in The Book of Samuel and Its Response to Monarchy. Edited by Sara Kipfer, Jeremy M. Hutton, Regine Hunziker-Rodewald, Thomas Naumann, and Johannes Klein. Beitrage Zur Wissenschaft Vom Alten Und Neuen Testament 28. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 2021.

Kalmanofsky, Amy. Dangerous Sisters of the Hebrew Bible. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2014.

Kelle, Brad E. Hosea 2: Metaphor and Rhetoric in Historical Perspective. Academia Biblica. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2005.

Kelle, Brad E. The Bible and Moral Injury: Reading Scripture Alongside War’s Unseen Wounds. Nashville: Abingdon, 2020.

Kent, Suzan. “Activity Areas and Architecture: An Interdisciplinary View of the Relationship between Use of Space and Domestic Built Environments.” Pages 1–8 in Domestic Architecture and the Use of Space: An Interdisciplinary Cross-cultural Study. Edited by Suzan Kent. New Directions in Archaeology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

Keys, Gillian. The Wages of Sin: A Reappraisal of the “Succession Narrative”. Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series 221. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1996.

Kim, Daniel E. Rest in Mesopotamian and Israelite Literature. Perspectives on Hebrew Scriptures and its Contexts 29. Piscataway: Gorgias Press, 2019.

Knapp, Andrew. Royal Apologetic in the Ancient Near East. Writings from the Ancient World Supplement Series 4: Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2015.

Koenig, Sara M. “Tamar and Tamar: Clothing as Deception and Defiance.” Pages 87–108 in Dress and Clothing in the Hebrew Bible: “For All Her Household Are Clothed in Crimson” Edited by Antonios Finitsis. The Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies 679. London: Bloomsbury, T&T Clark, 2019.

Köhlmoos, Melanie. “Tearing One’s Clothes and Rites of Mourning.” Pages 303–314 in Clothing and Nudity in the Hebrew Bible. Edited by Christoph Berner, Manuel Schäfer, Martin Schott, Sarah Schulz, and Martina Weingärtner. London: Bloomsbury, T&T Clark, 2019.

Kozlova, Ekaterina E. “‘Dressed as a Harlot and Cunning of Heart’? A New Look at the Heart of the Strange Woman in the Book of Proverbs.” Vetus Testamentum 71 (2021): 607–618.

Kozlova, Ekaterina E. “Acedia, ‘Bourgeois Ennui’, and Kingship in the Hebrew Bible and The Epic of Gilgamesh.” Journal of Theological Studies 72 (2021): 539–579.

Kozlova, Ekaterina E. “Jonah 2: A Death Liturgy for the Doomed Prophet.” Journal of Hebrew Scriptures (2021): 1–21.

Kozlova, Ekaterina E. Maternal Grief in the Hebrew Bible. Oxford Theological Monographs. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017.

Kruger, Paul A. “Depression in the Hebrew Bible: An Update.” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 64 (2005): 187–192.

Kselman, John S. “‘Wandering about’ and Depression: More Examples.” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 61 (2002): 275–277.

Kunz-Lübcke, Andreas. “Behind Closed Doors and Between the Lines of Deuteronomy: Tamar’s Rape in 2 Sam 13:1–22 as a Narrative Rereading of the Juridical Text Deut 22:13–29.” Zeitschrift für altorientalische und biblische Rechtsgeschichte 19 (2013): 235–248.

Leichty, Erle V. The Omen Series Šumma Izbu. Texts from Cuneiform Sources 4. Locust Valley: J.J. Augustin, 1970.

Løland Levinson, Hanne. The Death Wish in the Hebrew Bible: Rhetorical Strategies for Survival. Society for Old Testament Study Monographs. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021.

Matthews, Victor H. “Entrance Ways and Threshing Floors: Legally Significant Sites in the Ancient Near East.” Fides et Historia 19 (1987): 25–40.

Matthews, Victor H. “Physical Space, Imagined Space, and ‘Lived Space’ in Ancient Israel.” Biblical Theology Bulletin 33 (2003): 12–20.

May, Natalie N. “Gates and Their Functions in Mesopotamia and Ancient Israel,” Pages 77–123 in The Fabric of Cities: Aspects of Urbanism, Urban Topography and Society in Mesopotamia, Greece and Rome. Edited by Natalie N. May and Ulrike Steinert. Culture and History of the Ancient Near East 68. Leiden: Brill, 2013.

McCarter, P. Kyle, Jr., II Samuel: A New Translation with Introduction, Notes, and Commentary. Anchor Bible 9. Garden City: Doubleday, 1984.

Miller, Virginia. A King and a Fool? The Succession Narrative as a Satire. Biblical Interpretation Series 179. Leiden, Boston: Brill, 2019.

Motyer, J. Alec. The Prophecy of Isaiah: An Introduction and Commentary. Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press, 1993.

Nappa, Christopher. “Elegy on the Threshold: Generic Self-Consciousness in Propertius 1.16.” The Classical World 101 (2007): 57–73.

Niu, Zhixiong, The King Lifted Up His Voice and Wept: David’s Mourning in the Second Book of Samuel. Tesi Gregoriana 200. Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 2013.

O’Connor, Kathleen M. Jeremiah: Pain and Promise. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2011.

Økland, Jorunn, J. Cornelius de Vos, and Karen J. Wenell, eds. Constructions of Space III: Biblical Spatiality and the Sacred. The Library of the Hebrew Bible and Old Testament 540. New York: Bloomsbury, T&T Clark, 2016.

Olyan, Saul M. Biblical Mourning: Ritual and Social Dimensions. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.

Payne, Randy C. “‘He Opened the Doors of the House of Yahweh’: Door Imagery in the Hebrew Bible in Light of Its Ancient Near Eastern Context.” Ph.D. diss., Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2017.

Peters, Kurtis. “Together in Guilt: David, Jonadab, and the Rape of Tamar.” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 45 (2021): 309–319.

Phillips, Anthony. “Nebalah—A Term for Serious Disorderly and Unruly Conduct.” Vetus Testamentum 25 (1975): 237–242.

Polzin, Robert. David and the Deuteronomist: A Literary Study of the Deuteronomic History. Part III. 2 Samuel. Biblical Literature. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993.

Prinsloo, Gert T.M., and Christl M. Maier, eds. Constructions of Space V: Place, Space, and Identity in the Ancient Mediterranean World. The Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies 576. New York: Bloomsbury, T&T Clark, 2013.

Pyper, Hugh S. David as Reader: 2 Samuel 12:1–15 and the Poetics of Fatherhood. Leiden: Brill, 1996.

Quick, Laura. Dress, Adornment, and the Body in the Hebrew Bible. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021.

Quine, Cat. “On Dying in a City-Gate: Implications in the Deaths of Eli, Abner, and Jezebel.” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 40 (2016): 399–413.

Rendsburg, Gary. “Confused Language as a Deliberate Literary Device in Biblical Hebrew Narrative,” Journal of Hebrew Scriptures 2 (1999): 1–20.

Ringgren, Helmer. סגר, TDOT 10:148–152.

Roberts, Jimmy J.M. First Isaiah. Hermeneia. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2015.

Russell, Stephen C. The King and the Land: A Geography of Royal Power in the Biblical World. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017.

Schmidt, Brian B. Israel’s Beneficent Dead: Ancestor Cult and Necromancy in Ancient Israelite Religion and Tradition. Forschungen zum Alten Testament 11. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1994.

Schreiner, Patrick. “Space, Place and Biblical Studies: A Survey of Recent Research in Light of Developing Trends.” Currents in Biblical Research 14 (2016): 340–371.

Shemesh, Yael. “וילך שם (Ezra 10:6): “Wandering About” as a Sign of Mourning.” Vetus Testamentum 72 (2021), 305–314.

Smith, Mark S. Poetic Heroes: The Literary Commemorations of Warriors and Warrior Culture in the Early Biblical World. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2014.

Smith, Richard G. The Fate of Justice and Righteousness During David’s Reign: Narrative Ethics and Rereading the Court History According to 2 Samuel 8:15–20:26. The Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies 508. New York: T&T Clark, 2009.

Stavrakopoulou, Francesca. “The Prophet Huldah and the Stuff of State.” Pages 277–296 in Enemies and Friends of the State Ancient Prophecy in Context. Edited by Christopher A. Rollston. University Park: Eisenbrauns, 2018.

Stiebert, Johanna. Rape Myths, the Bible, and #MeToo. Rape Culture, Religion, and the Bible. London: Routledge, 2020.

Suriano, Matthew. “Remembering Absalom’s Death in 2 Samuel 18–19: History, Memory, and Inscription.” Hebrew Bible and Ancient Israel 7 (2018): 172–200.

Tamarkin Reis, Pamela. “Killing the Messenger: David’s Policy or Politics?” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 31 (2006): 167–191.

Trible, Phyllis. Texts of Terror: Literary Feminist Readings of Biblical Narratives. Overtures to Biblical Theology. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1984.

Tromp, Nicholas J. Primitive Conceptions of Death and the Nether World in the Old Testament. Biblica Et Orientalia 21. Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1969.

Tsumura, David T. The Second Book of Samuel. New International Commentary on the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2019.

Vanoni, Mödling G. רגז, TDOT 13:304–309.

Wagner, Siegfried. נצר, TDOT 9:541–549.

Walsh, Carey. “Testing Entry: The Social Functions of City-Gates in Biblical Memory.” Pages 43–59 in Memory and the City in Ancient Israel. Edited by Diana V. Edelman and Ehud Ben Zvi. Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2014.

Wasserman, Nathan. “‘Talking to Doors”: Paraklausithyron in Akkadian Literature.” Pages 305–318 in From Mari to Jerusalem and Back: Assyriological and Biblical Studies in Honor of Jack Murad Sasson. Edited by Annalisa Azzoni, Alexandra Kleinerman, Douglas A. Knight, and David I. Owen. University Park: Eisenbrauns, 2020.

Watts, John D.W. Isaiah 1–33. Word Biblical Commentary 24. Waco: Word Books, 1985.

Weeks, Stuart. Early Israelite Wisdom. Oxford Theological Monographs. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

White, John B. A Study of the Language of Love in the Song of Songs and Ancient Egyptian Poetry. SBL Dissertation Series 38. Missoula: Scholars Press, 1978.

Whybray, Roger Norman. The Succession Narrative: A Study of II Samuel 9–20; I Kings 1 and 2. Naperville: A.R. Allenson, 1968.

Willey, Patricia. “The Importunate Woman of Tekoa and How She Got Her Way.” Pages 115–132 in Reading Between Texts: Intertextuality and the Hebrew Bible. Edited by Danna N. Fewell. Literary Currents in Biblical Interpretation. Louisville: John Knox Press, 1992.

Yamada, Frank M. Configurations of Rape in the Hebrew Bible: A Literary Analysis of Three Rape Narratives. Studies in Biblical Literature 109. New York: Peter Lang, 2008.

Cover Page - Vol 22, Art 4 - Kozlova




How to Cite

Kozlova, E. E. (2023). 2 Samuel and the Architecture of Poetic Justice. The Journal of Hebrew Scriptures, 22. https://doi.org/10.5508/jhs29603