David's Play: Fertility Rituals and the Glory of God in 2 Samuel 6

Bruce Rosenstock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article proposes that in 2 Samuel 6 we find a utopian representation of David as a king who debases his own glory and rejects Michal's perspective in which royal glory mirrors divine glory and where both are supposed to remain invisible. The narrative of David' s dance and self-display can be illuminated against the background of pan-Mediterranean rituals, widely attested in the Greek cultural sphere, involving dance, genital self-display, and mocking speech designed to elicit laughter. David is represented as 'carnivalizing', to use Bakhtin's term, the religious ideology of royal phallic power as the embodiment of divine glory that these rituals supported. Constructing an ideal image of David entering Jerusalem, the narrative is ironically reversed with the cursing of David as he leaves Jerusalem by Shimi in 2 Samuel 16.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)63-80
Number of pages18
JournalJournal for the Study of the Old Testament
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2006


  • Bakhtin
  • Genital display
  • Greek religion
  • Israelite monotheism
  • Patriarchy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies


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