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Framing Repetitions in Biblical Historiography

Author(s): Burke O. Long

Source: Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 106, No. 3 (Sep., 1987), pp. 385-399
Published by: The Society of Biblical Literature
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3261063
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JBL 106/3 (1987) 385-399

Bowdoin College, Brunswick, ME 04011

In biblical narrative, the resumptive repetition of words, phrases, or

sentences to form a framework around other literary material has mostly
been taken as a sign that an editor or compiler had cut the thread of a
primary narrative,inserted other material of a different character, and then
resumed the temporal sequence of the first account by repeating a word or
phrase that had occurred at the point of insertion. Recently, H. Parunak
treated this sort of framing repetition as one of several devices used to mark
out material that was peripheral to the course of argument.2Parade examples
according to several scholars include 2 Chr 2:1, 17 (framing w 2-16); 12:2,
9a (framingw 3-8); Gen 37:36 and 39:1 (bracketing chap. 38); 2 Sam 3:1, 6a
(framing w 2-5); 13:34aa, 37a (around w 34ap-36).3
As Shemaryahu Talmon has realized, to view framing repetitions in this
way makes them captive to a dissecting mode of criticism which has been
characteristic of source and redaction analysis.4To source critics, repetition
is secondary redundancy; it marks not simply the peripheral within a
sequence but the signature of a derivative writer at work inserting, editing,
and touching up an original document. However, the notion of "secondary"
has actually covered a number of different theoretical operations: (1) editorial

I For a brief history of this line of investigation, see S. Talmon, "The Presentation of Syn-
chroneity and Simultaneity in Biblical Narrative,"in Studies in Hebrew Narrative Art throughout
the Ages (ed. J. Heinemann and S. Werses; Scripta hierosolymitana 27; Jerusalem: Magnes, 1978)
9-26. This principle of "resumptive repetition" is much used by J. Trebolle-Barerraas a tech-
nique for identifying stages of recensional and redactional history; see, e.g., his "Redaction,
Recension, and Midrash in the Books of Kings"'Bulletin of the International Organizationfor
Septuagint and Cognate Studies 15 (1982) 12-35.
2 H. Van
Dyke Parunak, "Oral Typesetting: Some Uses of Biblical Structure,"Bib 62 (1981)
160; see also A. Berlin, Poetics and Interpretationof Biblical Narrative (Sheffield: Almond, 1983)
3 See H. Wiener,
Composition of Judges 2:11 to 1 Kings 2:46 (Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1929); C.
Kuhl, "Die 'Wiederaufnahme- ein literarkritisches Prinzip?"ZAW 64 (1952) 1-11; I. L. Seelig-
mann, "Hebraische Erzahlung und biblische Geschichtsschreibung" TZ 18 (1962) 314-24;
Parunak, "Typesetting."
4 Talmon, "Synchroneity' 14.

386 Journal of Biblical Literature

insertion or rearranging(e.g., 2 Kgs 17:6, 23b, framing a commentarial excur-

sus); (2) one author's digression on the primary "story"(e.g., 2 Chr 6:12, 13b
and 1:3a, 5bp); (3) a writer's expansion of one source with material from
another in a single act of literary composition (e.g., 2 Chr 12:2, 9; cf. 1 Chr
16:7, 37 framing material that derives from at least three known psalms and
conforms to standard Hebrew poetic style).5
Something like these thoughts may have led Talmon to observe that in
many instances resumptive repetitions were used by a writer to convey
synchronous events in one or more locales (e.g., 1 Sam 2:11b,18, 21b, 26; 3:1,
19; 19:12, 18; 18:20a, 28b; 2 Sam 13:34, 37). The technique lent itself to
intricate structuring in those cases which required an author to present a
variety of contemporaneous events (a partial overlap of temporal setting) or
simultaneous events (complete concurrence of time). To his list of instances,
Adele Berlin added Exod 20:18, 21; Gen 45:2, 16; 1 Sam 4:11 + 5:1 and noted
a link with the use of chiastic sentences to express simultaneous action.7
These last authorlike nuances given to the word "secondary,"even
though they still function within a model of historical or diachronic explana-
tion, actually move us closer to a synchronic theory of narrativepoetics.8One
imagines the writer of Samuel or the Chronicler as authors, not redactors,
rather much as one might assume that any anonymous text, whatever its
history might have been, implies an "author"and a "reader"whose narrative
strategies and response may be inferred from the "work"9This shift in

A. Hill, "PatchworkPoetry or Reasoned Verse? Connective Structure in 1 Chronicles xvi,'
VT 33 (1983) 97-101.
Talmon, "Synchroneity"17-25.
Berlin, Poetics, 126-28. See also F I. Andersen, The Sentence in Biblical Hebrew (The
Hague: Mouton, 1974) 121.
8 Note recent studies which
suggest that Assyrian scribes periodically authored, not simply
edited or revised, royal inscriptions by abbreviating, paraphrasing, deleting, interpolating, or
harmonizing their sources-all in the interest of updating the accomplishments of their king
(see H. Tadmor,"Observations on Assyrian Historiography,"in Ancient Near Eastern Studies in
Memory of . J. Finkelstein [ed. Maria de Jonge Ellis; Hamden, CT: Archon, 1977] 209-10; M.
Cogan and H. Tadmor,"Gygesand Ashurbanipal:A Study in Literary Transmission,"Or 46 [1977]
65-85; L. D. Levine, "The Second Campaign of Sennacherib"JNES32 [1973]312-17). Note also
that some classicists now view Herodotus as an author and explain the Histories, despite the oc-
currence of long digressions and inattention to dramatic plot, as the product of a singular act
of composing-not clumsy editing or numerous revisions by later hands. See, above all, H. R.
Immerwahr,Formand Thoughtin Herodotus(Cleveland, OH: Western Reserve University Press,
1966); and H. Wood, The Histories of Herodotus:An Analysis of Formal Structure(Paris:Mouton,
9 G. Genette, Narrative Discourse:An
Essay in Method (Ithaca, NY:Cornell University Press,
1980) 211-62. The notions of implied author and reader used by Wayne Booth (The Rhetoric of
Fiction [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961]) have been the subject of much discussion
during the past twenty-five years. Note Booth's comments in the second edition of his book
(1983), pp. 421-25.
Long: Framing Repetitions 387

theoretical perspective allows us to consider other examples of repetitions

within the historiographical books in a similar way (e.g., 1 Sam 5:6, llb3,
around vv 7-llba; 25:1 + 28:3, framing 25:1b-28:2; 2 Sam 3:1, 6a, around
w 2-9; 8:6b, 14b, framing vv 7-14a).
Study of these and other examples adduced by various scholars suggests
that although some resumptive repetitions may be explained as signs of
secondary insertions, they all do not plausibly yield to such analysis. Ambigu-
ity among the data yields indeterminacy in the results. Furthermore, to
recognize that historical theory might unnecessarily restrict our understand-
ing of literary phenomena is to invite other theoretical models to inhabit the
house. One might consider a biblical text with its repetitions as in effect-
and possibly originally, although the matter can never be resolved -a singly
"authored"composition. In this case, one looks to narrative poetics and
synchronic explanations of literary composition and function rather than to
historical (redactional and source) theory for the vantage point from which
the object of study is defined and investigated.10
Toadvance discussion further,I propose to relate resumptive repetitions
to some broader aspects of synchronic narrativetheory. This move will allow
one to supplement historical explanations by appreciating other examples of
the device as flexible tools by which ancient authors, as implied in the
writings we possess, achieved interesting literary effects.

Structuralist literary theory emphasizes that the study of narrative is
essentially the study of relationships between narrative and narrating."l
Takinga metaphor from the grammar of verbs, one may say that the task of
analysis has to do with three interrelated aspects of narrative:tense, mood,
and voice.
Tense refers to the varied relationships between time in the story and
the temporal aspects of the narrative discourse. One artificial time (the
sequentiality of events in the story) is thrown constantly against another arti-
ficial time (sequentiality in the narrating or reading). Simultaneity of occur-
rence is a simple example: story events, if completely simultaneous, must

10 See R. Alter, The Art Biblical Narrative

of (New York:Basic Books, 1981); G. Hammond,
"The Bible and Literary Criticism,"Critical Quarterly 25/2 (1983) 5-21; 25/3 (1983) 3-15; B. O.
Long, First Kings with an Introductionto Historical Literature (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1984);
M. Perry and M. Sternberg, "The King through Ironic Eyes: The Narrator's Devices in the
Biblical Story of David and Bathsheba and Two Excurses [sic] in the Theory of the Narrative
Text" Hasifrut 1 (1968-69) 263-92 [English summary, pp. ii-v]; Sternberg, "The Bible's Art of
Persuasion: Ideology, Rhetoric, and Poetics in Saul's Fall,' HUCA 54 (1983) 45-82; Sternberg,
The Poetics of Biblical Narrative (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985).
1 I am drawing on G. Genette, Narrative Discourse; see also R. Barthes, "AnIntroduction to
the Structural Analysis of Narrative,"New Literary History 6 (Winter 1975) 237-72; W. Booth,
388 Journal of Biblical Literature

necessarily be told in serial sequence or perhaps be indicated grammatically,

"At exactly that moment...,' or "while [so and so was happening]" (see
1 Kings 1:22a). Or a narratormay begin a story in the midst of a situation and
only later go back to explain how events came to that point (e.g., 2 Kgs
4:8-10). Obviously much more complicated examples are possible, especially
in modern fiction.l2
Mood indicates the modalities of narrativerepresentations. One may tell
more or less about events, and one may focus them through certain
characters, a narrator,or the author.'3Narrative information for the reader
has its degrees, more or fewer details, and it has its modes, more or less
directly communicated. Moreover, information may be regulated by the
narratorwith comments, screening, or according to the capacities of one or
another participant in the story. For example, in 1 Samuel 18, the author
directly reveals Saul's emotional state (w 8, 17b) while refusing comment on
David's. In 1 Kgs 20:42, a command issued by God to the king is withheld
from the reader until after it has been transgressed. These various aspects
of mood contribute to the reader's sense of distance from, and perspective
on, narrative events. We notice both in relation to tense in the story and its
Voice refers to the narrating instance, to the ways in which narrating
itself is implicated in the moment of enunciation, and, along with this, how
narrating involves the narrator with a real or implied audience. The basic
questions lead one to see complex relationships. Identifying the narrator,
who may be the author or a character, requires also that we grasp four main
functions of narrating: (1) simply to tell the story or a part of it; (2) to refer
to the narrative text in a metalinguistic way, for example, marking internal
organization by means of a prophetic fulfillment formula (1 Kgs 15:29b;
16:12);(3) to establish or maintain contact, even dialogue, with the narratee,
who may be the reader or a character in the story (e.g., Neh 5:19; 6:9b, 14
present narrator-Ezra'scomments to God, who is made at that moment the
implied reader of the narrative;or 1 Sam 15:13-23, wherein Saul's narrating
of events is played off against Samuel's probing and skeptical comments);
(4) to maintain a testimonial or ideological relationship to the story (e.g., a
commentary, 2 Kgs 17:7-8; or in 1 Samuel 15, a more subtle strategy to
persuade the reader of the justness of Saul's condemnation).'5

Genette, Narrative Discourse, 33-112.
13 See Berlin, Poetics, 43-82, for a discussion of point of view in biblical narrative.
14 Genette, Narrative Discourse, 161-211. Cf. R. Alter's treatment of the narrator's"reticence"

in 1 Samuel 18 (Art of Biblical Narrative, 117-25); or G. Hammond on Judges 19 ("The Bible

and Literary Criticism" Critical Quarterly 25/3 [1983] 7-8); E. Auerbach, Mimesis (Princeton,
NJ: Princeton University Press, 1953) characterizing biblical narrative as "fraught with
background";see also Perry and Sternberg, "The King through Ironic Eyes,' and Sternberg, "Art
of Persuasion."
15 See M.
Sternberg, "Artof Persuasion"
Long: Framing Repetitions 389

Narrative voice must also be heard at various levels, within or outside

of stories and associated with various narrators. For example, in 1 Kings 1,
Nathan and Bathsheba tell of Adonijah'scelebratory feasting within another
moment of narrativecommunication between author and reader.At the same
time, both characters refer to David's vow (1 Kgs 1:13, 17, 24), which is an
event in the story world-whether real or contrived by Nathan-that lies
beyond the temporal boundaries established in the main story of palace
For our purposes, since some examples of resumptive repetitions in the
Bible mark synchronous events, it is helpful to relate the notions of mood and
voice to the concept of anachrony, that is, the various ways an author,
narrator,or narrating character, achieves freedom from the constraints of
temporality within a story.
Anachrony creates discord between the temporal sequence in the
narrativeand the time frame of the narration, as when, for example, someone
retrospectively supplies information after the fact (analepsis), evokes in
advance an event that will take place later (prolepsis) or narrates simul-
taneous events.6 Such anachronies may take place at the level of narrator-
author or at the level of a character embedded within the story. Naturally
they may entail all sorts of complex relationships, especially in modern
literature, which exploits the "omnitemporality of the remembering
The chief variables have to do with reach, extent, and frequency.'8 Viola-
tion of sequentiality may cover a temporal span into the past or future that
is far from, or near to, the moment in story time that was interrupted to make
room for the anachrony.This is reach. For example, 2 Sam 18:18extends back
into time before the moment of Absalom's burial, and the phrase "until this
day"reaches far into the future, into the time of the implied reader. On the
other hand, the anachrony itself-the author's remark, or a character's
momentary reflection - may cover a period in story time that varies in length.
Nathan'sreport about Adonijah'ssacrifices (1 Kgs 1:25) covers no more than
one day's duration, whereas the narrator-authorin 2 Sam 13:38 runs ahead
and fills a gap of three years' length. This sort of temporal duration is the
extent of anachrony. Finally, within anachrony, one may note frequency, the
system of relationships established between the capacities for repetition
which are inherent in the narrated events and the discourse about those
events. Thus, one might state once what happened once in the story
(singulative narration, e.g., 2 Sam 13:7-8); or by grammatical construction
one may narrate once what happened over and over again in the story

See W. Martin, "'Dischronologized' Narrative in the Old Testament,' in Congress Volume:
Rome, 1968 (VTSup 17; Leiden: Brill, 1969) 179-86.
E. Auerbach, Mimesis, 481. See Genette, Narrative Discourse, 48-85.
18 Genette, Narrative Discourse, 47-67, 113-60.
390 Journal of Biblical Literature

(iterative narration, e.g., 1 Sam 1:7). A third possibility, often found in tradi-
tional narratives, is to narrate two or more times what happened only once
in the story (e.g., 2 Sam 13:34, 37, 38 "andAbsalom fled").
The importance of achieving some clarity about these theoretical
concepts is that it will help us to see more completely how a biblical writer's
use of framing repetitions relates to the varied structural relationships set up
in a narrative.'9We shall explain certain examples of such repetition as a
device by which a narrator manipulated time and altered the structural
relationships associated with tense, mood, and voice. In becoming more
attentive to these matters, it is to be hoped that the imaginative and fictive
dimensions of biblical historiography will stand out all the more clearly.


Framing Repetition and Synchroneity

Talmon'sstudy as summarized above may be supplemented and broad-
ened with a few additional examples.
1. 2 Kgs 4:12b, 15 (qerd'. . . wayyiqrd'-lahwatta 'mod lepanayw / qerd'-
lah wayyiqrii'-lah watta'imod bappatah). These phrases surround the main
dialogue between Elisha and Gehazi. One imagines that prophet and servant
speak about this Shunammite woman while she stands by, having presented
herself to the prophet (v 12b). Apparently hearing their musing conversation,
she intrudes tentatively (v 13b), as though answering but speaking to no one
in particular, and the men carry on without acknowledging her comment
(v 14). The repeated motif in v 15 draws both sequences of simultaneous
action together into one discourse and also marks the transition to direct
communication between Elisha and the Shunammite. Representing just
these dialogic sequences as occurring simultaneously seems more than hap-
penstance, for the anachrony powerfully aids in characterizing the relation-
ship between Elisha and the woman. She approaches, drawing closer "in the
doorway"(v 15 adds this small variation, bappdtah, in the repetition), but is
ignored. Elisha addresses her directly only in v 16. Save for this moment, the
woman deals with him through Gehazi the go-between. This suggestion of
protocol between Elisha and the woman is characteristic of the narrator's
vision; it is evident in w 25-27, 36 and is vigorously upset by the Shunammite
herself in v 27 as she emerges as a forceful mother determined to wrest moral

19 We exclude cases of "ring"or chiastic composition, the use of repetitions to intensify and
extend meanings, set up contrasts and analogies, state leitmotifs, create rounded high style, or
otherwise to mark out sections of discourse. See S. Talmon and M. Fishbane, "Aspects of the
Literary Structure of the Book of Ezekiel," Tarbiz42 (1972) 27-41 (Hebrew); H. V. D. Parunak,
Structural Studies in the Book of Ezekiel (Ann Arbor: University Microfilms, 1979; Y. Radday,
"Chiasm in Kings,' Linguistica Biblica 31 (1974) 52-67.
Long: Framing Repetitions 391

restitution from Elisha. In short, anachrony which expresses simultaneity

and which is marked by framing repetition also helps the narrator char-
acterize protagonist and antagonist.
2. 2 Kgs 4:25a, 27a (wattelek wattb6' 'el-'ish'el6ohm 'el-harhakkarmel
/ wattdbo' 'el-'ishadelohim'el-hahdr).This framing repetition seems to mark
out a dialogue between Elisha and Gehazi and a meeting with the Shunam-
mite woman, both occurring while she approaches Mount Carmel. If
w 25b-26 supply information after the fact, then the framing repetition
would also mark analepsis, a retrospective filling of an ellipsis, in which case
we would have anachronywithin anachrony.To catch this nuance, one would
translate, "She came to the man of God-now when the man of God (had)
seen her from afar,he said to Gehazi ... [afterthe woman is met, the account
resumes] and she came to the man of God to the mountain and grabbed hold
of his feet."Like w 12-15, this disruption of narrativetime contributes to the
narrator'scharacterization of the Shunammite woman. This event dramatizes
her determined, impassioned singlemindedness. As she did with her
husband'searlier attempts to discourage her visit to Elisha (v 23), the woman
turns back the prophet's greeting with one word, sdl6m. She thereby refuses
Elisha's proffered concern and thrusts aside what his offer protects, the
protocol that sets distance between woman and prophet.
3. 1 Kgs 20:12a, 16 (wehu' soteh hu' wehammeldkim bassiikot / uben-
hidad soteh sikk6r bassiuk6thu' wehammeldkim. ..). This text may be con-
sidered along with vv 27, 29aa (wayyahdnu bene-yisrd'el negddm /
wayyahdnu 'elleh nokah 'elleh) since both cases of framing repetition
describe a continuing situation in the Aramean camp, while focusing our
attention on concurrent prophetic oracles among the Israelites. In the first,
Aram's drink-crazed mustering of an army frames a picture of Israelite
consultation with a prophet. With this wraparound of images, which is inten-
sified by the incremental change in v 16 (the Arameans have grown to thirty-
two kings, and Ben-Hadad is "drunk"[sikkor]),we are made to view Aram as
a great host led by drunkards.One implicitly drawsa contrast with Ahab, who
in our imagination drinks soberly from an oracle's cup. In the second ex-
ample, vv 27-29, another oracle for Israel (v 28) comes concurrently with an
ongoing condition described by framing repetition: the once-defeated kings,
reconstituted army for army, encamp opposite tiny Israel. The divine word,
which partly commits a second anachrony by referring to an event already
past, particularizes a new confusion that afflicts the Arameans. They make
up a massed army,frozen and poised for battle in this moment while Yahweh
speaks to his own. But the prophet ridicules them as a foolish, misguided
horde whose premises are comically mistaken. Aram staggers here as much
from false assumptions about Israel's God as it did in Samaria from strong
drink. Framing repetitions mark anachronies that portray concurrent events;
they also provide occasion to characterize the combatants and draw a special
relationship with the narratee. The forces are not simply opposed militarily,
392 Journal of Biblical Literature

the reader learns, but ideologically as well. Furthermore, attending to narra-

tive voice, the author-narratorpersuades the reader with sarcasm and trium-
phant superiority that Israel's victory is justly deserved.
4. 2 Kgs 5:11aa,12b[3(wayyiqsop na'amdnwayyelak /wayyipen wayyelek
behema). This motival repetition reports Naaman's angry departure from
Elisha and marks an enclosed speech-event as concurrent with his going
away.The resulting anachrony provides one of those rare glimpses into the
interior motivations and perspectives of a biblical character.Naaman'swords,
presumably uttered to himself but overheard by his servants (v 13), also
contain within them analepsis, which supplies information withheld from the
reader at an earlier point in the narrative.On journeying to the Israelite man
of God, Naaman had thought to find ceremonial pomp and respectful
initiative from the curer. He carried a bundle of expectations rooted in
success and royalfavoramong the Arameans.What he received was an order,
insultingly simple and quite unceremonial, to wash his affliction in an
Israelite river. In this instance, framing repetition that carries within it
simultaneous speech-event and analepsis offers an evaluation of events by a
principal character. At the same time the anachrony supplies the reader
some basis for inferring Naaman'sattitudes. However, one must set his private
perspective against another- the author'sown comment made directly to the
reader in v 1. There Naaman'shigh position was explained on quite different
grounds: he was in favorwith the king because Yahweh,not human prowess,
had given him military victory. Much of the story's power in the reader's
experience grows from these counterposed focalizations of the narrative-
the perspective of author-narratorand Naaman-narrator.

Framing Repetition and Analepsis

Certain examples of framing repetitions mark out analepses, those
points at which a narrator,who may be the author or a character in the
narrative, disrupts the chronological sequence of story time and retro-
spectively fills a gap in the reader's information. In such cases, time in the
primary narrativepasses unchronicled or comes to an absolute halt; attention
shifts to the analepsis, which has its own more or less complicated sequen-
tiality. Analepsis is always measured relative to a narrative moment to which
it is temporarily subordinate. Its essential function is to convey explanatory
antecedents to that moment. See, for example, analepsis without framing
repetitions in 1 Kgs 2:28; 12:2; 2 Kgs 6:32a; 11:2-3.
1. 2 Kgs 4:8aoc,llao (wayehi hayyom wayya'dbor 'elisi' 'el-siunem...
ydsur sdmma . . / wayehi hayyom wayydb6' gdmmd wayydsar 'el-
hd'a~lyya . . ). The primary narrative event, Elisha's going to Shunem,
encloses a retrospective remark in which suggestions of character and past
relationships between the prophet and the Shunammite woman emerge in
a network of repeated images. The idiom wayehi hayyom marks Elisha'stravel
Long: Framing Repetitions 393

to Shunem as a singulative event, that is, a one-time happening which is told

only once (cf. 2 Kgs 4:18; 1 Sam 1:4; 14:1;Job 1:6, 13; 2:1). The analepsis itself
suggests both singulative and habitual activity external to the main story, for
it recounts events of indefinite duration, some of which repeatedly took place
before this particular journey to Shunem. The prophet was accustomed to
taking food from this woman (note the durative construction, wayehi midde
+ infinitive, v 8b; cf. 1 Kgs 14:28a; 1 Sam 1:7;18:30). However, this particular
habit had been encouraged by the woman's decision to provide lodgings for
Elisha, who habitually passed by ('ober 'alenu tamfd). The catchwords 'br and
yasur sdmma bind Elisha's customary action with the Shunammite's plan to
care for him (vv 8b3, 9, 10). The same words link up with the framing
repetition (vv 8b, Hla).Thus, the whole is a well-constructed opening exposi-
tion for the longer narrative (vv 8-37). Narration begins in medias res, then
immediately disrupts narrative sequentiality to offer a palpable sense of the
Shunammite. When the main narrative resumes, she and the man of God
meet with background, obligations, and intimacies already established in the
reader'sconsciousness. Cf. a similar case in 2 Chr 1:3a, 5bp. A framing motif
around analepsis explains how cultic objects had been appropriately
gathered at Gibeon, making it for the time a legitimate place to which
Solomon "went up" to offer sacrifices. Cf. further, simple analepsis within
framing repetition in Esth 2:19-21.
2. 1 Sam 1:3a, 7a (we'didah 'is hahu '.. . miyyamim yamtm ... lyhwh
/ weken ya 'dseh sana bgesnd midde 'alota bebet yhwh). This framing device
duplicates the sense more than the actual wording. Nevertheless, it seems to
function similarly to the repetition in 2 Kgs 4:8, 11. The framework marks
analepsis which conveys certain background information. Through it the
narrator-authormanipulates the reader'sperception of those events to which
the analepsis is subordinate, Hannah's distress on one particular occasion
(vv 7b-8). The framing words convey iterative action: Elkanah went up to the
sanctuary "everyyear"(miyyamimydmimd);and so it happened "yearby year
as often (sand bgesnd midde... ) as she [Hannah] went up" This iterative
frame apparently lends its durative frequency to the one-time expressed
event in vv 4-6 (note the singulative idiom wayehi hayym in v 4a [cf. above
at 2 Kgs 4:8, 11]).Analepsis reaches far into the indefinite but iterative past
and thus adds the weight of Hannah's life experience to her anguish in the
present (vv 7b-8).2°
3. 2 Kgs 7:5b, 8a (wayyabo'u 'ad-qeseh mahinhh 'dram / wayyabo'u
hamesor 'fm ha'elleh 'ad-qesehhammahdneh).This framing repetition marks
the point at which the narrator-authorinterrupts the lepers' journey out to
the enemy and retrospectively explains how the Aramean camp came to be
totally empty. The analepsis fills a gap within the primary story with

welo'to'kalin v 7b seems to takeup the primarynarrativeafterthe

20 Note how wattibkeh

concludingremarkson the analepsis(wekenya'ageh... ken tak'lgenna).

394 Journal of Biblical Literature

privileged information aimed only at the reader. Thus, the device disrupts
chronology in the interest of narrative voice. It persuades the reader of the
grope and stagger by which both the Israelite king and the lepers make their
way, and it dramatizes the hidden causality that matters most: Yahweh's
power to thwart the Arameans, mystify the lepers, and mock the king's
perception of reality (6:31, 33; 7:12).
4. 1 Kgs 1:1,4 and 1:15b(wehammelekddwfd zdqen ... wattehi lammelek
sokenet wattesaretehu / wehammelek zaqen me'od wa'abisag ... mgesrat 'et
hammelek). This framing repetition marks out analepsis (vv 5-14) which
conveys background information relevant to two ongoing series of contempo-
raneous events: Adonijah'sfeasting at En Rogel (vv 9, 41ff.) and the palace
intrigue in Jerusalem (vv 15-40). The frame itself conveys additional
background by suggesting that David's infirmity is a precondition for all other
events. Further complications in temporality arise owing to the report of
Adonijah'skinglike feast, v 9, which is both antecedent to some events (e.g.,
Nathan's proposal, w 11-14) and-we learn from v 41-contemporaneous
with others (e.g., the representations made to David [w 15-31]). Further-
more, mention of Adonijah'sfeast nests with another anachronywhich locates
antecedents of his celebration in earlier, continuing acts of self-glorification
(w 5-8).21 Adonijah (had been) exalting himself (Hebrew durative participial
phrase, mitnasse).... He (had) prepared chariots (v 5) ... (had) conferred
with Joab, and his supporters (had) followed after him (v 7). Moreover, the
narratorembeds still another anachrony within this iterative past. Stepping
out of narrativesequentiality altogether, he remarks in v 6 on the problematic
of the whole affair.Adonijah'sself-promoting actions-going on while David
is doting within the palace and while Nathan and Bathsheba are plotting-
have a certain justification even if they force divisions of loyalty and challenge
the hidden favor of Yahwehtoward Solomon (2 Sam 12:25). David had never
protested his son's overreach, and Adonijah, after all, was handsome-a
prerequisite for royal leadership (cf. 2 Sam 14:25-26; 1 Sam 10:23; 16:12).
Adonijah is also the legitimate crown prince, since Absalom is dead.
This intricately structured analepsis provides a sense of ambiguity to
events and complicates the reader's attitudes toward them. What might have
been presented ideologically as simply a question of morality or of Yahweh's
design is instead explored amid the realistic tensions of human life where
choices must be made, but not so assuredly. At the point where palace
intrigue begins to run its course, when the main narrativesequence resumes,
the reader reserves judgment, withholds sympathy, and possibly defers
commitment to one faction or another.
In this story, one of the best crafted in the books of Kings, framing
repetition marks a rather complex moment of narration. It seems calculated

21See J. Fokkelman, Narrative Art and Poetry in the Books of Samuel: King David I (Assen:
VanGorcum, 1981)348, for useful observations on the temporal relationships depicted in w 5-8.
Long: Framing Repetitions 395

to provide antecedents to a doubly sequenced, contemporaneously running,

primary narrative: Adonijah'scelebration at En Rogel and the developing
conspiracy against him in David'spalace. At another level the author-narrator
shapes the reader's attitudes toward this background with a rhetorical
strategy of playing multiple aspects of voice against one another: his own
atemporal comments, his straightforwardrecounting of events, Nathan's and
Bathsheba'sversion of Adonijah'stale. One arrives at David's room heavy with
bags, deftly handed one at the door.
5. 1 Sam 14:1a,6a (wayyomer yonatan ... 'el-hanna'ar nose ' kelayw leka
wena'berd 'el-massab pelistzm / wayyomer yehondtdn 'el-hanna'ar nse'
kelayw leka wena'berd 'el massab hd'drelim). This framing repetition marks
a pause in the narratingof Jonathan'smission to the Philistine garrison. The
author disrupts the primary sequence to give added information and descrip-
tive details, all of which belong to the spatiotemporal universe of the story,
not to the world of commentarial excursus, as, for example, 2 Kings 17 (see
below). First, there is analepsis internal to the story time. When Jonathan
called his armor-bearerto the mission, Saul, some six hundred fighting men,
and an Elide priest were already in Gibeah (Geba).22They are unaware of
Jonathan's intentions, a fact that becomes important in v 17. Thus the
narrator informs us in retrospect of a synchroneity of sequences: Saul and
company in one place, Jonathan in another (note that participial and nominal
phrases express accompanying circumstances [w 2-3]). In fact, this double
focus is the key structural element in the narrativeto follow (w 7-23), which
tells of Jonathan's mission among the Philistines concurrently with Saul's
reactions, and the eventual coming together of the two sequences in
vv 21-22. There is also a proleptic description of the place to which Jonathan
is headed (w 4-5). Before it becomes relevant, the reader gains a vivid image
of the saw-toothed terrain that will be the setting for Jonathan'sdaring plan
("goingup,' w 9-13). The framing motif (v 6a) brings the reader back to the
main narrative where Jonathan repeats his call to the armor-bearer. The
narrator allows incremental variation on the repetition and so opens a
window onto Jonathan'sinner attitude: the Philistines are "the uncircum-
cised,' and, by contrast, Jonathan is Yahweh'swarrior,confident in the Lord's
strength (v 6b). In sum, framing repetition marks out a pause in the main
story while the narrator establishes synchroneity of events in two locales,
offers descriptive details important to the larger narrative, and suggests the
ideological contrasts that are to define victor and vanquished.
6. 1 Sam 18:5, 14, 30 (bekol 'aser yislahennu sa'ul yaskil /wayehi dawid
lekol derdakwmaskil wyhwh 'immo/wayehi midde s 'tdm sakal dawTdmikkol
'abde sa'ul wayyiqar semo me'od). This framing repetition marks a complex
anachrony that establishes David as a member of Saul's court, Jonathan's

Hebrew, mistakenly gib'a? Cf. v 5b.
396 Journal of Biblical Literature

friend, and the object of Saul's murderous plot (17:57-18:4 + 19:1ff.).It also
is similar to the type of repetition that gives special thematic emphasis, as,
for example, in 1 Sam 5:6, llb-12; 2 Sam 8:6b, 14b. Within the frame, the text
offers a pastiche of singulative narrative moments, each related somewhat
differently to each other and to the main story (w 6-9, 10-11, 12-16, 17-29).
Further, the narrator gives each moment an iterative nuance as though to
suggest a rising swell of habitual bad feeling between Saul and David (vv 9,
lib, 16b, 29b). In addition to marking this anachrony,the repeated motifs in
the frame provide a sort of thematic distillation-David, with ease, succeeds
at every turn (vv 5, 30; ya&kil/ skal).
The first narrative moment, vv 6-8, is analepsis. At a time when David
had already apparently entered Saul's court, fresh from his victory over
Goliath (17:57), the narratortakes the reader back to an incident on the way
home from that battle (v 6; note the reference to "the Philistine,' obviously
meaning Goliath). However, a closing remark turns this single occasion into
a condition that extends into the indefinite future: "andSaul kept an eye on
David from that day on" (mehayyOmhahu' wdhali'd). The next day (after
David had come to Saul's court?), the king tries to kill him (vv 10-11). The
narratorgeneralizes this moment too. A quick remark doubles the frequency:
"andDavid escaped him two times" The third section, vv 12-16, reports less
an event than a summary of Saul's growing fear and David's increasing
success. The key motifs of the framework appear again, and the narrator
summarizes ongoing effects: "(David) went out and came in before them"
(v 16b; note the use of participles to convey repeated action). A fourth event,
Saul's desperate plan to engineer David's death (vv 17-27), also ends with
iteration and, moreover, binds itself to vv 12 and 16 with key words: Saul is
still more afraid in the light of David's success and the love the people show
him; the king became his enemy "everafter" (kol hayydmtm, v 29). Finally,
the narratorbrings us back to the outer ring of repetition (v 30). He provides
an iterative summary, picking up the framework motif of military "success"
(sdkal;cf. v 5) and mentioning again the "servantsof Saul,' who since v 5 had
dropped from sight. The whole composition seems calculated to suppress
ordinary chronological sequence. There is a kind of atemporality about
events within the framework (vv 5 and 30), or rather a feeling that Saul's
brooding madness has no clear beginning and no foreseeable end. Note the
intensity of emotion expressed in v 29: wayyo'sef sd'au2l ler' mippene ddwid
'od, "Saul was still more afraid of In
David"' brief, this extensive anachrony
fills a pause in the primary narrative and evokes background and motivation
for Saul'scommand in 19:1where action moves forwardagain. All subsequent
events now fall within the penumbra of Saul's insatiable, violent eclipse of
Long: Framing Repetitions 397

Framing Repetition and Commentarial Excursus

Certain examples of framing repetition surround a narrator'scommen-
tary on events within the primary narrative. In such cases, story time tends
to come to an absolute halt, while the narrator-authoraddresses the reader
directly. The commentary itself involves varied temporal relationships and in
fact takes on a kind of omnitemporality unrestrained by the spatiotemporal
boundaries of the main narrative. In biblical historiography, this kind of
excursus typically offers a far-reaching didactic exposition.
1. 2 Kgs 17:6b, 23b (wayyegel 'et-yisra'el 'assurd ... / wayyigel yisra'el
me'al 'admdto 'assurd 'ad hayyom hazzeh). This framing repetition marks an
interruption in the main narrative (vv 1-6a), which resumes at v 24.23
Whether vv 1-6 and 7-23a stem from a single writer or from multiple hands
and how one might reconstruct the text's compositional history depend in
part on arguments and suppositions that are independent of 2 Kings 17. For
our purposes, it suffices to ask how the study of framing repetitions from a
synchronic perspective casts new light on a narrative much in dispute.24
Without presuming to solve the problems raised by historical scholar-
ship, one might observe that the present text implies an author who halted
the flow of story time and turned to explanatory comments for the reader's
edification. In this case, spreading before us a colossal anachrony,the narra-
tor pauses at the moment of exile for the northern kingdom to give reasons
for such a catastrophe. The reach of this analepsis extends far back beyond
the parameters of the monarchy (w 7-8) and covers an indefinite time span
during the monarchy but still anterior to this moment of exile. The horizon
also extends proleptically to the demise of the southern kingdom (w 19-20),
completely running ahead of the moment at which the primary narrative
sequence had been disrupted. The author then resorts to analepsis again to
recall that decisive moment in which the people of the northern kingdom
went astray (w 21-22). Finally, in the outer part of the framing repetition
(v 23), one is led back to the narrative "present"and just as quickly turned
to the future with the proleptic attestation "asat this day"With this remark
the narrative overtakes the time frame of the narrating;the author removes

23 This text has been a

favorite proving ground for conflicting hypotheses of compositional
and redactional history of the books of Kings. For our purposes it is unnecessary to engage in
the full range of debates. See H.-D. Hoffmann, Reform und Reformen (Zurich: Theologische
Verlag, 1980) 127-39; R. D. Nelson, The Double Redaction of the Deuteronomistic History
(Sheffield: University of Sheffield Press, 1981) 55-65; A. D. H. Mayes, The Story of Israel Between
Settlementand Exile (London: SCM, 1983) 125-28; E. Wiirthwein, Die Biicher der K6nige 1 K6n.
17-2 K6n. 25 (G6ttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1984) 391-403. For a study that gives
special attention to framing repetitions, see S. Talmon, "Polemics and Apology in Biblical
Historiography-2 Kings 17:24-41,' in The Creation of Sacred Literature (ed. R. E. Friedman;
Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981) 57-68.
24 Note how a notion of
proper chronological sequence is one crucial element in Nelson's
argument (Double Redaction, 55-56).
398 Journal of Biblical Literature

the distinction between his situation and that of his narrative.

There is nothing unusual here (cf. 1 Sam 14:1-6). The text offers a plaus-
ible example of a familiar phenomenon, the omnitemporality of the
remembering consciousness or the digressing ancient historian.25It is not
unreasonable to imagine the implied author as surveying the events he
speaks about and drawing from them all, in one interpretative sweep, the
lessons for his reader.6
2. 2 Kgs 17:33-34, 40-41 (... 'et-yhwh hdyu yere'Im... hagg6oym...
'ad hayy6m hazzeh hem 'oszmkammispdatmhdr'sonim ... / wel6' sam me'u kt
im-kemispdatmhdar'son hem 'oszm.... wayyihyiuhaggoyim ha 'lleh yere'jm
'et-yhwh ... ka'aser 'adu 'abotam hem 'o6sm 'ad hayyom hazzeh). Like w
7-23, this section is often seen as secondary insertion and implicated in the
various disputes about redactional history in chap. 17. For reasons set forth
above, we may set aside these concerns and look provisionally to a theory of
repetitions to explain the text.
The narrator set up doubled repetitions and made vv 34a and 40b a
frameworkwithin another frame, vv 33 and 41. This outer ring, with its catch
phrase, "(they) the nations continued revering Yahweh"(hdyu [wayyihyu] 'et-
yhwh), is a thematic motif that ties vv 34b-40 to the main subject ofvv 24-28
and its related comment, vv 29-32. (See 2 Sam 8:6b, 14b; 1 Sam 5:6, 11b-12
for framing repetitions that set thematic boundaries.) The inner repetition,
w 34a and 40b, encloses proleptic commentary which extends temporal
reach far beyond the time of the northern kingdom's exile. In relation to this
time frame and that of w 24-28 (+ 29-33), which simply continue the
sequentiality of vv 1-6, the story has overtaken the narration. Commentarial
excursus merges past into present, into the immediacy of narration that is
simultaneous with what is reported. The transgressions of the north com-
mitted long ago continue right now. Not only the phrase "asat this day"but
also the present tense participles in v 34b suggest this reading.
Thus, the narrator-authorpaused in recounting the aftermath of the
northern kingdom's exile and offered a commentarial excursus which ran
backward and forward in time (note the analepsis in vv 35-39 that reaches
outside the "main story" of monarchy). Through analepsis within prolepsis,
through retrospective within a direct appeal to the time of narrator-author-
reader, the comment convicts those northerners-even to their children's
children (v 41)-of continuing their confused allegiance to Yahwehand the
other gods. Such omnitemporality of consciousness seems analogous to the

For an ancient parallel to such far-reaching digression in a historiographical work, see J.
Cobet, HerodotsExkurseund die Fragenach der Einheit seines Werke(Wiesbaden: Steiner, 1971).
Synchronic analysis converges with diachronic explanation in M. Noth's hypothesis of a
single exilic historian who produced a sweeping history of Israel and, incidentally, most of the
chapter under discussion, from a vantage point in the Judean exile; see Uberlieferungs-
geschichtliche Studien (Tiibingen: Niemeyer, 1957) 85-86, 108 (Eng. trans. The Deuteronomistic
History [Sheffield: University of Sheffield Press, 1981] 73, 97).
Long: Framing Repetitions 399

sort of freedom modern writers of fiction achieve. If one imagines an author

standing in a time in which all of this history is a matter of memory, then such
violations of chronology in the telling are not only reasonable, but plausible
and effective in expressing the didactic purposes of the historical work.

To summarize the results: A common historical or diachronic theory
explains resumptive or framing repetitions in biblical historiography as
marking points at which a second author or editor inserted material into a
previously existing text; in other cases such a device allowed an author to
present two or more synchronous events in different locales. Using an alter-
native model, a synchronic theory of explanation, we propose to view the
latter cases and a number of other examples within a broader theory of narra-
tive poetics. A number of resumptive repetitions may be understood relative
to various structural relationships set up in narrativesby a narrator'sexercise
of freedom from the spatiotemporal constraints of his story world. They
demark anachronies in the act of narrating,that is, points at which violations
of story time (or primary sequentiality) were exploited to various effect. One
may distinguish three types: (1) narration of synchronous events [Talmon];
(2) marking analepsis or retrospective narrative of varying complexity; and
(3) surrounding commentarial excursus in which didacticism is served by the
final convergence of story time and narrating time.
With the analytical power gained from the notions of narrative tense,
mood, and voice, one may appreciate that not all examples of resumptive
repetition need be explained diachronically with theories of redaction. In
quite a few instances one may plausibly speak of a writer, as demanded by
and inferred from the text, who manipulates the chronology of events and the
reader's experience (a reader is also inferred from the text). With control of
information, including the use of framing repetitions, the narrator could
sharpen characterization, provide ironic perspective, or comment on the
story with didactic intent-all in the rhetorical interest of shaping sympa-
thies, attitudes, and perceptions.