Original Research - Special Collection: New Landscapes in Identity

Domestic violence in the Old Testament and during the COVID-19 pandemic: A question of identity

Tiana Bosman
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 77, No 3 | a6792 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v77i3.6792 | © 2021 Tiana Bosman | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 April 2021 | Published: 28 September 2021

About the author(s)

Tiana Bosman, Department of Religion and Theology, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa


With the global COVID-19 pandemic and different levels of lockdown being enforced across the world, domestic violence has escalated at an alarming rate. The restrictions on movement that lockdown has placed on countless women forced them to share a confined space with their abusers and the effects of this abuse are devastating. These women’s identities are at stake. In a space dominated by their male perpetrators, they are at risk of becoming mere shadows of their former selves. All too often, they also lose their lives. This dire state of affairs brings to mind two women in the Old Testament, Tamar of Genesis 38 and Tamar of 2 Samuel 13, and how they were subjected to domestic violence. This article studies the plight of these women. Through the exegesis of these narratives, I highlight the similarities between the accounts of domestic violence and what we see globally today. The aim of this study is to add the names of the biblical Tamars to our collective list of names of women for whom we unite weekly against gender-based violence in the #ThursdaysInBlack campaign.

Contribution: This is a contribution from the field of biblical studies. The exegesis of two Old Testament narratives highlights the similarities between ancient accounts of domestic violence in situations of lockdown and what we see globally today. It calls for a recognition of women spanning the course of history who have suffered domestic violence.


domestic violence; Genesis 38; 2 Samuel 13; Tamar; patriarchy; COVID-19; identity; #ThursdaysInBlack


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