Biblical Entanglements: Reading David’s Killings in 2 Sam 21.1-14 alongside those of Te Kooti at Matawhero in Aotearoa New Zealand

Judith E. McKinley


This is a brief consideration of two narratives, one biblical and one set in New Zealand’s colonial past, both of which concern matters of power, land and the observance of covenant. The reading is informed by the statement that postcolonial narrative “confronts an indigestible past, a past that can never be fully remembered or forgotten” (Sam Durrant). 2 Sam 21.1-14 hints of a seemingly not wholly forgotten incident from the past of Israel’s own settlement narrative that the scribal editor has slipped into his Davidic script. Setting this text alongside an account of an early New Zealand massacre, in which there is a knotty biblical entanglement, reinforces the thesis that biblical texts such as this can be valuable tools in jolting our complacency about our present as those of us of settler descent struggle with the complexities of our own past.

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Bible and Critical Theory: ISSN 1832-3391