Resolving the redactional ambivalence over the role of patrimonialism in the collapse of monarchy in Israel: implications for Nigerian democracy

  • EN Uzuegbunam

Abstract

In 930 BC when Israel broke up into two kingdoms, the Deuteronomistic redactors raised alarm on the revolt against the Davidic patrimonial dynasty which retained rulership over the two tribes of the southern kingdom. Thus, there was the repeated reference to “the sin which Jeroboam, son of Nebat made Israel to sin” (1 King 16:19, 25, 31). While this reference is often made in relation to the setting up of two altars, one in Dan and the other in Beersheba, the central concern of the Deuteronomistic redactors was that the motive of unifying the nation under David the King par excellence, had been defeated. Thus when the Northern Kingdom with its ten tribes collapsed in 721 BC under the terrific military assaults of the Assyrian war lord, Shalmanesser V, the Deuteronomistic redactors seemed to have been vindicated that יהוה had punished severely those who revolted against Davidic patrimonial dynasty. The southern kingdom thus became the centre for repentance and unification. The eventual collapse of the southern kingdom under assault by Nebuchadnezzar in 605 BC thus became an enigma that defied explanation. Internal evidence however shows that the support for patrimonialism in monarchy in Israel was not unanimous and universal. Thus Rehoboam was restrained from waging a war against the revolting Israelite party under Jeroboam, because, according to the word from the Prophet Shemaiah, the war was unnecessary as יהוה had a hand in the rebellion against Davidic patrimonial dynasty, thus betraying the ambivalence of יהוה over patrimonial monarchy. This paper espouses the redactional ambivalence over patrimonialism as a factor in the collapse of monarchy in Israel. It goes ahead to see how the patrimonial orientation is threatening to upturn the practice of democracy in Nigeria. A section of the Nigerian polity has a world view that posits a fused religio-political system in which leadership is a matter of patrimonial bequeathal through a singular religio-political authority, to the extent that to contravene that world view is to threaten the unity of the country, and hence its survival as a geo-political entity.

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print ISSN: 2006-5442