Tanakh is replete with familial assignations. On numerous occasions we are told
of a familial connection that two people share only to be reminded of this connection in a
subsequent verse. We find these seemingly unnecessary epithets primarily in the books of
Tanakh that explore complex family relationships. Sefer Shemuel exists as a prime
example, replete with characterizations that require analysis, specifically regarding the
relationships that surround King David. We find in David’s relationship with Yonatan,
Michal, Bat Sheva and the relationship of his children to each other, a pattern of
unnecessary familial assignations. Upon engaging in a textual analysis of Sefer Shemuel,
as well as delving into the works of traditional and modern scholars, it is possible to
determine what purpose these epithets have. It is clear that beyond the dramatic tone
repetition for effect creates, there is a deeper motivation driving the Navi’s choice of
language. A powerful judgment is being made about the ideal form key relationships
should take as the Navi deepens our understanding of the motivations at play in each
story. What emerges is the power of familial assignation to add depth and meaning to the
text as well as the Torah’s overall stance on the primacy of human relationships.
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