HOMI K. BHABHA AND THE “BENE YISRAEL”: POSTCOLONIAL PROBINGS INTO THE CHRONICLER’S CONSTRUCTION OF NORTHERN ISRAELIAN CULTURAL IDENTITY
David J. Fuller
Old Testament scholars have long noticed that the Chronicler alternately views the inhabitants of northern Israel as “brothers” to the South and portrays them as apostate rebels. This tension has been widely commented upon but hitherto unresolved. The postcolonial theory of Homi Bhabha is a helpful analytical tool to apply to this problem, as it elucidates the valuable purpose played by ambiguity and tension in constructions of the Other. Understood in this framework, the articulation of cultural identity is always an exercise carried out in the context of comparison with a deficient culture, and thus happens in an “in-between” space. Therefore, the Other of northern Israel has to be placed in continuity with Judah before it can be understood as a defective version of Judah. Additionally, the various signifiers of Judahite authority (throne and cultus) have an unclear relationship that serves to mask Judahite power for the end purpose of making it all the more difficult to identify or challenge.
Chronicles; Northern Israel