|The Bialik Institute|
The purpose of this essay is to discuss the completely transformed character in the bible, which is a sub-category of the complex characters. The transformed character is situated at the end of the complex characters' scale. The words "completely transformed" indicate that the character has gone through a 180 degrees change from a positive evaluation to a negative one, or vice versa. The difference between a complex character and a transformed one is that the positive complex character may sin and reform, whereas the transformed character does not reform after having sinned, but rather continues to sin. Or on the contrary – the negative complex character may reform then sin again, whereas the transformed character reforms and sticks to its new reformed ways.
I chose characters of kings due to the fact that most of them receive a judicial evaluation at the opening formula of their exposition. This way, one can examine whether they persist in their deeds according to the initial evaluation, or show a significant transformation.
The descriptions of total transformation are versatile. I chose three kings to represent the issue:
King Saul's character was completely transformed from good to bad. The description of his transformation is long and slow, abundant with ups and downs, reformations as well as deviations from righteous ways, in which his deterioration increases. There are many repeated events in his life. Similar situations examine his credibility by testing his reactions. Will he correct in the second time that which he distorted in the first one? Will he stand up to his promise to act better in a similar event?
Manasseh's character in II Chronicles went through a transformation from bad to good. At the beginning of his reign he sinned a lot. His transformation is instant and reasoned. It occurs following a traumatic event in his life – being captured and sent to exile in Babylon. There, in the foreign country, he discovered the truth, reformed and humbled himself before God. After his return to Jerusalem he acts as a righteous king, correcting his failures.
Amaziah, in II Chronicles, went through a different transformation – from good to bad. At the beginning he did "that which was right in the eyes of the Lord". Indeed, he sinned before God by hiring soldiers from Israel, yet gave it up showing he reformed. After his victory over the Edomites he practiced idolatry. His transformation was instant, with no logical base.
Forming the king as a transforming character serves the philosophy and the ideological purposes of the authors of the book. The narrator forms the character to match his purposes, values and the theory of retribution he believes in. Saul's positive character becomes unfavorable, which explains the transfer of the kingdom to David. Manasseh began his way as a sinner before God, but reformed with all his heart and was fortunate to sit on his throne for many years, according to the theory of personal reward of the narrator in II Chronicles. Amaziah began in the right way, managing even to overcome Edom, but lost the battle against Jehoash king of Israel, and was later murdered. It is not possible according to II Chronicles not to reward a man who had done righteously in the eyes of God, therefore to justify the event, the narrator mentioned that Amaziah was punished because he become an idol worshipper.