Once a literary or story-telling convention is firmly established, hints and allusions to it may occur without its full and obvious use.  In the case of Biblical stories, particularly in the Old Testament, we are so far removed from the origins of the stories that we may simply miss many such hints and allusions.  Here we will consider one fairly clear case of the annunciation type-scene, although abbreviated, and one case that may contain allusions to the type.

The weaker of these two examples is the famous story of Solomon and the two women fighting over the baby in I Kings 3:16-28.  The verses that set the domestic scene (1) in this case tell us that the two women are prostitutes, rather than respectable wives, and that they share a house rather than a husband (3:16f.).  This initial setting makes obvious that we are dealing with a very different case from that of the type we have been considering in this study.  There are, however, enough parallels, albeit usually ‘fractured’ parallels, with the typical case to suggest that this story may in fact originally have alluded to the familiar type-scene.

The women are rivals (2).  Neither of them is infertile (1), and yet the death of one of their sons has left one of them childless.  Their point of rivalry is over the surviving, living child.  The appeal to king Solomon is a kind of prayer for a child (4).  The judgement of Solomon is not, obviously, an annunciation of conception (5) by an angel, prophet, or God directly, but it bestows a son nonetheless on the true mother.  There is a cultic context (6, see 3:15), a strong reaction to the announcement of the king’s decision (7, see 3:26), the restoration of the child to his rightful mother (similar to a birth in its effect, 8, see 3:27), and praise for God and his wise king (9, see 3:28).  There is no notice of the future of the child (10), since the purpose of the story is to illustrate Solomon’s wisdom, not the child’s future.

It is possible that these points of similarity to annunciation type-scenes are accidental and that the differences are so great as to make the idea of an allusion to the type far-fetched.  But it also is possible that the writer of I Kings intended to allude to the type, and that only our distance from the stories makes this seem doubtful.  It should be noted that I and II Samuel and I and II Kings probably all share at least their final editor.  Since I Samuel contains the story of Hannah’s conception of Samuel, the story in I Kings 3 has at the least gone through editing by someone who makes skillful use of the annunciation type-scene elsewhere.

The second example is not a very full version of the type-scene but plainly is a story that draws on the convention.  This example is the story of Elisha and the Shunammite woman in II Kings 4:8-37.

As in the case of Manoah’s wife, the setting of the domestic scene (1) makes clear that we are dealing in this case with a barren woman but not with rival wives (II Kings 4:8-14).  The scene is set less economically than usual, but that is so as to fit the type-scene smoothly into its general setting in the Elijah-Elisha cycle of stories.  There is no prayer for children (4):  on the contrary, the woman rejects the idea (4:16).  This rejection will serve a dramatic purpose later in the story (4:28).  Nonetheless, there is a clear and thoroughly typical prophecy of conception by Elisha (5, see 4:16), a strong reaction of doubt (7, see 4:16), and a notice of conception and birth (8, see 4:17).  There is no sacrificial context (6), praise for God (9), or notice of future greatness (10).  The final elements of the type are replaced by the story of the child’s death and resuscitation by Elisha, with praise for Elisha, rather than God, at its end (4:37).  This praise serves to forward one of the main themes of the Elijah-Elisha cycle, namely the presence and power of God’s word in the person and deeds and, especially, words of the prophet.

While this example of the type-scene is somewhat abbreviated in terms of the full ten element pattern of the fullest examples of the type, it does contain the three parts that summarize the type: the setting of the scene; the annunciation; the birth and its aftermath.  So this is a true example of an annunciation type-scene.  It is perhaps notable that once again the woman is a more important figure in the story than her husband, who in fact appears to be comparatively dense (4:23).

So the Old Testament contains annunciation type-scenes involving, in order:  Sarah/Hagar & Abraham; Rachel/Leah & Jacob; the wife of Manoah & Manoah; Hannah/Peninnah & Elkanah; the Shunammite woman & her husband.  The type may, in addition, be alluded to in the case of the two harlots and Solomon’s judgement.

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