Second Kings 6:24–30 presents an astonishing narrative wherein two Israelite mothers agree to eat their children. The city of Samaria is under siege and food is scarce, but this hardly lessens the shock of the mothers’ cannibalism. Scholars view this text as describing a world where everything has gone awry, where violence in society becomes a call for social change. Scholarship has failed, however, to connect the mothers’ act to the events immediately following their actions: the king has a revelation, Elisha announces that the siege will end, and indeed the enemy retreats. This part of the narrative, 2 Kgs 7:1–7, provides a new way of reading the text. The women have saved the city by unintentionally offering a child sacrifice and, in doing so, have lifted the siege and restored order and harmony. The sacrifice can be read as a veiled polemic against child sacrifice and the religious depravity running rampant in the northern kingdom.

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