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How to Understand Ḥērem

DONG-HYUK KIM 1

1연세대학교(미래캠퍼스)

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This paper attempts to answer the question of how to understand ḥērem, especially the ḥērem of Jericho. The first half of the paper surveys different understandings of ḥērem among biblical scholars. Bible scholars have understood the ḥērem of Jericho (1) as Israel’s primitiveness, (2) as God’s wrath, and (3) as the model of obedience; they have also tried to evade the issue (4) by doubting the historicity of the relevant biblical material. These attempts may be helpful for understanding ḥērem historically, but they cannot satisfy the moral sensitivity of the moderns. Accordingly, the second half of the paper exploits Hebrew Bible scholar Katheryn Pfisterer Darr’s suggestion about teaching difficult texts. By adopting her suggestion that narratives should be turned into problems and different biblical texts should debate with each oth¬er, we can establish a foothold for understanding ḥērem narratives. By asking questions about ḥērem narratives and by making other biblical texts have con¬versations with them, we realize that ḥērem is only one part of a bigger bibli¬cal picture. Indeed, the ḥērem of Jericho does not represent ḥērem in general; ḥērem is not what the narrative of the battle of Jericho is all about; and the God who commands ḥērem is not the whole picture of the God revealed by the Bible. Ḥērem is a burdensome and difficult topic, but wrestling with it can lead the faith community into a deeper appreciation of the Bible.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.