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Dual Functions of the Law of Kingship in Deut 17: 14-20

Seokgyu Jung 1

1한영신학대학교

Candidate

ABSTRACT

______________________________________________________________________________ Dual Functions of the Law of Kingship in Deut 17:14-20 ______________________________________________________________________________ Seokgyu Jung, Ph.D. Professor, Department of Theology Hanyoung Theological University This paper attempts to expose the dual functions of the law of kingship in Deut 17: 14-20 by a structural analysis on the text itself and in relation to its larger contexts. In the extant form of Deut 17: 14-20, the regulation of the establishment of a king(17: 14-15) justifies the institution of kingship by the people's designation and divine approval. However, the regulations of the duties of a king(17: 16-20) explicitly function to restrict the royal prestige by mentioning a list of prohibitions imposed on the king (17: 16-17), and the torah that should be read and observed by the king(17: 18-20). Thus, the present form of Deut 17: 14-20 unveils both positive and negative perspectives on kingship. In the larger context of Deut 16: 18 - 18: 22, the law of kingship functions to restrict the monarchic power within both ancient Israel and the Ancient Near East. The regulations in Deut 16: 18 - 18: 22 demonstrate decentralization and distribution of power through limiting the power and prestige of the authorities under the torah: judges/officials(16: 18 - 17: 13), the king(17: 14-20), priests/Levites(18: 1-8), and the prophet (18: 9-22). In the larger context of Deut 16: 18 - 18: 22, thus, the law of kingship regards the king as an authority controlled under the torah actualized as the will of God. In the larger context of Deut 16: 18 - 17: 20, however, the law of kingship functions to legitimate royal administrative authority. Deut 16: 18 - 17: 20 can be regarded as a legitimate literary unit. The successive appearances of the conjunctive particle, (17: 2, 8, 14), explicitly unveil how the judicial procedure shifts from the local court (17: 2-7) to the highest centralized authority(17: 14-20) via the higher court(17: 8-13). In relation to its larger context of Deut 16: 18 - 17: 20, the negative tasks of a king(17: 16-17) postulate a new royal task to restore the divided kingdom caused by Solomon's erroneous policies by providing a counter-model against Solomon. Also, the positive tasks of a king (17:18-20) provide the monarchy with a divinely authorized legitimacy to administer the people under the torah. In the context of Deut 16: 18 - 17: 20, therefore, the law of kingship (17: 14-20) can be understood within a positive perspective on kingship.

Citation status

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