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Abishag, the Administrator of King David’s Wives

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Ambrose Fleming lecture theatre

UCL Roberts Building

Malet Place, off Torrington Place

London

WC1E 7JE

United Kingdom

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Lecture by Daniel Bodi, Sorbonne


Abishag has commonly been characterised in the King David story as “David’s hot-water bottle.” That is hardly doing her justice. This presentation will compare the Hebrew term sōkenet in 1 Kgs. 1:2,4 (describing Abishag’s job at David’s court) with the Akkadian šākintu, designating the female chief administrator of the royal women of the Assyrian kings in Nimrud. We will see Abishag as the chief administrator of David’s household and of the women’s quarters. She is a key figure in resolving an acute political crisis about David’s succession, when David almost lost his crown. Abishag serves as a catalyst in a series of transactions around David, revealing the conflicting agendas of the main protagonists in this drama: Bathsheba, Adonijah and Solomon.

Daniel Bodi is Professor of History of Religions of Antiquity in the Department of History at the Sorbonne – University of Paris 4. Prior to that he was Professor of Hebrew Bible and Semitic Languages in the Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies at the University of Paris 8, Vincennes Saint-Denis and Associate Professor, Paris School of Oriental Studies (INALCO = Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales), Paris.

Preceded by Refreshments 6.00pm, Foyer

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Ambrose Fleming lecture theatre

UCL Roberts Building

Malet Place, off Torrington Place

London

WC1E 7JE

United Kingdom

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