Twelve Steps to the Tent of Zimri: An Imaginarium

  • Yael Klangwisan
Part of the Religion and Radicalism book series (RERA)


The murder of Cozbi is a clear incidence of gendered, sexualized violence, recounted in the Hebrew biblical book of Numbers. Drawing inspiration from Roland Barthes’s Camera Lucida and Helene Cixous’ Angst, Yael Klangwisan takes an unflinching look at the bloody spectacle of Numbers 23. Employing Barthes’s photographic categories of studium (the wider scene or spectacle) and punctum (an element that punctures the scene), she teases out this biblical tradition relating the murders of Zimri and Cozbi by Hebrew priest Phinehas, recounting the litany of horrors in such a way that the reader is refused the distance and the sang-froid offered by the narrator. Comparing the biblical tradition with other classical love tragedies, Klangwisan then considers this literary trope in depth, moving towards her own, alternative ending for Cozbi’s story, where, in the spirit of Cixous’ rereading of the Tristan and Isolde legend, “love and life are victorious.”


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yael Klangwisan
    • 1
  1. 1.Laidlaw Graduate SchoolAucklandNew Zealand

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