Archive for August 2020

King David Versus the Ammonites, the Arameans, and the Philistines   Leave a comment

Above:  Icon of King David

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 1-2 SAMUEL, 1 KINGS, 2 KINGS 1-21, 1 CHRONICLES, AND 2 CHRONICLES 1-33

PART XXXVII

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2 Samuel 10:1-19 and 12:26-31

1 Chronicles 19:1-20:8

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“Let us be strong and resolute for the sake of our people and the land of our God; and the LORD will do what He deems right.”

–Joab, in 2 Samuel 10:12, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

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King David’s Ammonite war frames the story of Uriah and Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11 and 12), absent from 1 Chronicles.

Ammonite court politics caused the Ammonite war.  Nahash, King of Ammon, had died.  Hanun, listening to bad advice, mistook David’s official condolences for a spy mission then humiliated his envoys.  David’s forces won battles, though.  They did so against superior Ammonite-Aramean forces.  The author meant for us to understand that God was on the side of Israel in this war.

1 Chronicles 20:4-8 tells of another war against Philistines.  It seems that keeping Philistines down was difficult.  This passage mentions Elhanan, who slew the brother of Goliath.  This passage contradicts 2 Samuel 21:19, which says that Elhanan slew Goliath.  This language in 2 Samuel 21:19 is very similar to that in 1 Chronicles 20:5.  2 Samuel 21:19, of course, also contradicts 1 Samuel 17, which tells us that David slew Goliath.  If I were a Biblical literalist, this matter would bother me.

Back to the beginning of the Ammonite war….

David had kept faith/kindness (hesed) with King Nahash of Ammon, just as he did with Mephibosheth in 2 Samuel 9.  The text makes the connection between those two chapters.  We readers are to think positively of David in his dealings, with Mephibosheth and his treaty partner, the King of Ammon, according to the text.

One translation of hesed is “kindness.”  Kindness is absent from the end of the story; the forced labor of prisoners of war, although common in the region at the time, indicates the opposite of kindness.  Kindness is also absent toward Uriah the Hittite in 2 Samuel 11.

David, in these and other cases, practices hesed selectively.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 31, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT NICODEMUS, DISCIPLE OF JESUS

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King David and Mephibosheth   1 comment

Above:  Mephibosheth Kneels Before King David

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 1-2 SAMUEL, 1 KINGS, 2 KINGS 1-21, 1 CHRONICLES, AND 2 CHRONICLES 1-33

PART XXXVI

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2 Samuel 21:1-14

2 Samuel 9:1-13

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David asked, “Is there anyone belonging to Saul’s family left, to whom I might show faithful love for Jonathan’s sake?”

–2 Samuel 9:1, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

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Consistent chronology is not the organizing principle in the books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles.  Neither is it the organizing principle in this blogging project.  Thematic considerations override chronology sometimes.

Remnants of the House of Saul remained alive and constituted potential political threats to King David.  Mephibosheth, born Meribbaal, was a son of Jonathan.  (Recall, O reader, that “bosheth” means “shame.”)  David and Jonathan had made a pact (1 Samuel 18:3 and 23:18).  David honored that pact by keeping Mephibosheth alive, in the royal court, and at a place of honor, the king’s dining table.  Also, David could always watch Mephibosheth.

Mentions of Mephibosheth also occur in 2 Samuel 16 and 19.

Mephibosheth was not all that was left of the House of Saul.  There was Michal, of course.  And Saul had at least seven surviving sons.  Seven sons of Saul, despite being innocent of any offense other than being sons of Saul, died.  They died, Chapter 21 tells us, to satisfy Saul’s blood guilt and to end a three-year-long drought.  In an incident recorded nowhere else in the Bible, Saul had attempted the genocide of the Gibeonites.  Seven sons of Saul died horribly–via impaling–for their father’s sin.

I, citing Ezekiel 18, reject holding children accountable for the sins of their parents.

These two passages portray King David as a complicated figure.  We read of a man–a monarch–who kept faith/kindness/faithful love (hesed) with Jonathan’s son and simultaneously reined him in.  Mixed motives are old news; human nature is a constant factor.  One may also reasonable argue that David should have kept hesed with Michal and those seven unfortunate sons of Saul.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 30, 2020 COMMON ERA

PROPER 17:  THE THIRTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF SAINT JEANNE JUGAN, FOUNDRESS OF THE LITTLE SISTERS OF THE POOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN LEARY, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC SOCIAL ACTIVIST AND ADVOCATE FOR THE POOR AND THE MARGINALIZED

THE FEAST OF KARL OTTO EBERHARDT, GERMAN MORAVIAN ORGANIST, MUSIC, EDUCATOR, AND COMPOSER

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This is post #2300 of BLOGA THEOLOGICA.

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King David: Wars and Administration   4 comments

Above:  King David

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 1-2 SAMUEL, 1 KINGS, 2 KINGS 1-21, 1 CHRONICLES, AND 2 CHRONICLES 1-33

PART XXXV

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2 Samuel 8:1-18

1 Chronicles 18:1-17

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The LORD gave David victory wherever he went.

–2 Samuel 8:14b, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

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That sentence is a refrain in 2 Samuel 8.  Both versions of the material describe the royal supremacy and military dominance of King David.  The context tells us of the subjugation of the Philistines, previously pushed back into their territory in 2 Samuel 5:17-25.  Acts of cruelty (such as those to Moabites and to horses) should disturb readers.  (I have tried to be a pacifist, and cruelty to animals has always offended me.)

David, once a vassal, had vassals.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 30, 2020 COMMON ERA

PROPER 17:  THE THIRTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF SAINT JEANNE JUGAN, FOUNDRESS OF THE LITTLE SISTERS OF THE POOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN LEARY, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC SOCIAL ACTIVIST AND ADVOCATE FOR THE POOR AND THE MARGINALIZED

THE FEAST OF KARL OTTO EBERHARDT, GERMAN MORAVIAN ORGANIST, MUSIC, EDUCATOR, AND COMPOSER

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King David, the Temple, and the Dynasty   1 comment

Above:  Icon of Kings David and Solomon with the Madonna and Child

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 1-2 SAMUEL, 1 KINGS, 2 KINGS 1-21, 1 CHRONICLES, AND 2 CHRONICLES 1-33

PART XXXIV

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2 Samuel 7:1-29

1 Chronicles 17:1-27

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The LORD has sworn an oath to David,

in truth, he will not break it:

“A son, the fruit of your body,

will I set upon your throne.

If your children keep my covenant

and my testimonies that I shall teach them,

their children will sit upon your throne for evermore.”

–Psalm 132:11-13, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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This is a familiar story.  When reading a familiar story, one ought to read it closely, for one may not know it as well as one imagines.

I like wordplay, for I am a notorious punster.  Imagine my delight, O reader, in the wordplay regarding bayit, or house.  We read that King David dwelt in a bayit (palace), but God had no bayit (temple).  Extremely attentive readers of the Hebrew Bible may recall the references to the House of the LORD in 1 Samuel 1.  Nevertheless, 2 Samuel 7:6 has God deny ever having had a house.  This is a minor matter, but one worth mentioning, for the sake of thoroughness.  A note in The Jewish Study Bible points out that God had a house as well as a tent (Joshua 18:1; 1 Samuel 2:22), the tent indicating that

the LORD is not restricted to one fixed place.

The wordplay with bayit continues with God establishing a covenant and making David the founder of a house (dynasty).  The texts allude to King Solomon presiding over the construction and dedication of the first Temple (See 1 Kings 6:1-8:66; 1 Chronicles 28:1-29:9; 2 Chronicles 2:1-7:22).  One ought to know that hindsight is the lens through which people recall the past.

God changes the divine mind sometimes, according to scripture.  One example is 1 Samuel 2:30-31.  Keep the divine tendency to change the divine mind in your mind, O reader, when reading David’s prayer (2 Samuel 7:25-29; 1 Chronicles 17:23-27).

What am I, O Lord GOD, and what is my family, that You have brought me this far?

–2 Samuel 7:18b, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

Covenants are not contracts.  Covenants do not entail quid pro quos.  Covenants do entail grace, which, in turn, imposes obligations.  Many people are comfortable with quid pro quos and uncomfortable with grace.  Perhaps grace reminds them of this unworthiness.  Perhaps they prefer to have earned something.  Perhaps the obligations that accompany grace put them ill at ease.  Grace is free, not cheap.

I, having read the rest of the story of David and his dynasty, cannot reread these two versions of this portion of the narrative without feeling sadness over the wasted potential.  I know the rest of the story.  I know of the abuses of David and Solomon.  I know that scripture gives most of their successors negative reviews.  I know about the division of the kingdom and the fall of both successor kingdoms.  I know that David’s lineage continued, but that the dynasty ended.  And I, as a Christian, link this portion of the narrative (in two versions) with Jesus, not Just Solomon and the other Davidic kings.

We are all unworthy.  Grace is our only hope.  This realization may threaten our egos.  On the other hand, this realization may prompt us to live gratefully and to seek to honor God in our own lives, as we relate to God and other human beings.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 30, 2020 COMMON ERA

PROPER 17:  THE THIRTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF SAINT JEANNE JUGAN, FOUNDRESS OF THE LITTLE SISTERS OF THE POOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN LEARY, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC SOCIAL ACTIVIST AND ADVOCATE FOR THE POOR AND THE MARGINALIZED

THE FEAST OF KARL OTTO EBERHARDT, GERMAN MORAVIAN ORGANIST, MUSIC, EDUCATOR, AND COMPOSER

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Bringing the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem   Leave a comment

Above:  David Dancing in the Presence of the Ark of the Covenant

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 1-2 SAMUEL, 1 KINGS, 2 KINGS 1-21, 1 CHRONICLES, AND 2 CHRONICLES 1-33

PART XXXIII

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2 Samuel 6:1-23

1 Chronicles 13:1-14

1 Chronicles 15:1-16:43

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Great is the LORD, and highly to be praised;

in the city of our God is his holy hill.

Beautiful and lofty, the joy of all the earth, is the hill of Zion,

the very center of the world and the city of the great King.

God is in her citadels;

he is known to be her sure refuge.

–Psalm 48:1-3, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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The versions from 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles are similar yet different.  The chronology differs; 1 Chronicles places the beginning of the moving of the Ark of the Covenant and the death of Uzzah (1 Chronicles 13 and 2 Samuel 6) prior to David’s defeat of the Philistines (1 Chronicles 14 and 2 Samuel 5).  The account from 1 Chronicles also omits the material from 2 Samuel 6:20-23.  The two versions also differ regarding the sacrifices in Jerusalem–an ox and a fatling (2 Samuel 6:13) or seven bulls and seven rams (1 Chronicles 15:26).  Furthermore, 1 Chronicles adds material, such as list of Levites and musicians, as well as a psalm of Thanksgiving.  Both versions have David dance in public while wearing only a small apron, as well as Michal seeing him and despising him.

At least seven points warrant consideration.

  1. Uzzah meant well.  He was not responsible for the Ark of the Covenant being on an oxcart and for the oxen stumbling.  The proper way to carry the Ark was on poles, over human shoulders.  David was responsible for the manner of transportation of the Ark.
  2. Lethal holiness struck again.  Getting too approximate to God was perilous.  This constituted a change from the presentation of God in the beginning of Genesis, when God walked in the Garden of Eden and took strolls with Abraham.
  3. Michal loved David until she did not.  No Biblical text indicates, however. that David loved her.  David treated Michal badly.
  4. David’s dance was lewd.
  5. David’s psalm of thanksgiving includes a variety of universalism–God is the God of all the Earth, not a tribal or national deity.  The case of Obed-edom, a Gittite (2 Samuel 6:9-11; 1 Chronicles 13:13-14) fits neatly with this theme.
  6. The removal of the Ark of the Covenant from Baalim/Baalam/Kiriath-jearim to Jerusalem bolstered David’s royal authority.
  7. The account in 1 Chronicles portrays David in a more flattering light than the version in 2 Samuel does.  1-2 Samuel offers more honesty about David’s flaws than 1 Chronicles does.

I arrive at a four-part summary.

  1. I dislike David.
  2. I sympathize with Michal.
  3. I sympathize with Uzzah.
  4. As much as I grasp reverence for God, I also affirm that the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity as Jesus of Nazareth contradicts lethal holiness.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 30, 2020 COMMON ERA

PROPER 17:  THE THIRTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF SAINT JEANNE JUGAN, FOUNDRESS OF THE LITTLE SISTERS OF THE POOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN LEARY, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC SOCIAL ACTIVIST AND ADVOCATE FOR THE POOR AND THE MARGINALIZED

THE FEAST OF KARL OTTO EBERHARDT, GERMAN MORAVIAN ORGANIST, MUSIC, EDUCATOR, AND COMPOSER

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David Versus the Philistines   Leave a comment

Above:  Icon of David

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 1-2 SAMUEL, 1 KINGS, 2 KINGS 1-21, 1 CHRONICLES, AND 2 CHRONICLES 1-33

PART XXXII

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2 Samuel 5:17-25

1 Chronicles 14:1-17

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Save me, O God, by your Name;

in your might, defend my cause.

Hear my prayer, O God;

give ear to the words of my mouth.

–Psalm 54:1-2, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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Saul became the King of Israel with a charge to defeat the Philistine threat.  He failed for nearly twenty years.  Some time after David became the undisputed King of Israel, he defeated Philistine forces and liberated Israel from that threat, for a while.  (2 Samuel 5:17 is vague regarding the passage of time.)  God was fighting for Israel and advising David, the texts emphasized.

These passages contain references to previous passages.  The Israelite capture of idols as war booty indicates the opposite of the Philistine capture of the Ark of the Covenant (1 Samuel 4).  Exodus 14:25 and Judges 5:20 also mention God taking a side and intervening.

Interestingly, “Baal” functions as a name of God in 2 Samuel 5:20.  This is not entirely surprising.  I know of other religious connections between the Israelites and their neighbors.  For example, some of the Psalms indicate Egyptian or Canaanite influences; the texts use extant hymns as models.  Also, “El” and “Elohim” are Jewish names of God.  A student of ancient comparative religion may know that El was the chief Canannite deity and the presiding officer of the divine council, the Elohim.  The use of “Baal” for YHWH in 2 Samuel 5:20 prompts me to wonder about Ishbaal, son of Saul.  I wonder of the “man of Baal” was the “man of YHWH,” literally.  “Baal” means “Lord” or “Master.”  Perhaps the most famous Baal is Baal Peor, the Canaanite storm god and one the Baals.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 30, 2020 COMMON ERA

PROPER 17:  THE THIRTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF SAINT JEANNE JUGAN, FOUNDRESS OF THE LITTLE SISTERS OF THE POOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN LEARY, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC SOCIAL ACTIVIST AND ADVOCATE FOR THE POOR AND THE MARGINALIZED

THE FEAST OF KARL OTTO EBERHARDT, GERMAN MORAVIAN ORGANIST, MUSIC, EDUCATOR, AND COMPOSER

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David Becomes the Unchallenged King of Israel, With the Lists of His Mighty Warriors   1 comment

Above:  David King Over All Israel

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 1-2 SAMUEL, 1 KINGS, 2 KINGS 1-21, 1 CHRONICLES, AND 2 CHRONICLES 1-33

PART XXXI

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2 Samuel 5:1-16

1 Chronicles 11:1-9

2 Samuel 23:8-39

1 Chronicles 11:10-12:40

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Give the King your justice, O God,

and your righteousness to the King’s Son;

That he may rule your people righteously

and the poor with justice;

That the mountains may bring prosperity to the people,

and the little hills bring righteousness.

–Psalm 72:1-3, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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1 Chronicles 11:1-9 follows 2 Samuel 5:1-16, with some notable differences.  2 Samuel 5 follows a two-year-long civil war (2 Samuel 2-4), absent from 1 Chronicles 11.  In the version of events according to 1 Chronicles, Saul died in Chapter 10 then David immediately became the undisputed King of Israel in Chapter 11.  Also, 2 Samuel 5 establishes that David and his forces seized Jerusalem (Jebus) about five and a half years after David became the undisputed monarch.  1 Chronicles is unclear regarding the passage of time in this matter.

The germane texts argue that David, whose forces defeated the weakest and the strongest Jebusite soldiers alike, had human and divine recognition.

The lists of King David’s mighty warriors are very similar, with 1 Chronicles adding material.  So be it.

David reigned for about forty years and six months, including the two years of the civil war.  He governed from Hebron for about seven and a half years and from Jerusalem for about thirty-three years.  He added wealth, power, and women to his collection.  David’s family life was hardly ideal.  It became worse with the passage of time.  The shape of the end was evident in the beginning.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 30, 2020 COMMON ERA

PROPER 17:  THE THIRTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF SAINT JEANNE JUGAN, FOUNDRESS OF THE LITTLE SISTERS OF THE POOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN LEARY, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC SOCIAL ACTIVIST AND ADVOCATE FOR THE POOR AND THE MARGINALIZED

THE FEAST OF KARL OTTO EBERHARDT, GERMAN MORAVIAN ORGANIST, MUSIC, EDUCATOR, AND COMPOSER

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Abner, Ishbaal/Ishbosheth, and David   Leave a comment

Above:  The Assassination of Ishbaal/Ishbosheth

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 1-2 SAMUEL, 1 KINGS, 2 KINGS 1-21, 1 CHRONICLES, AND 2 CHRONICLES 1-33

PART XXX

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2 Samuel 3:1-4:12

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The wicked are perverse from the womb;

liars go astray from their birth.

They are as venomous as a serpent,

they are like the deaf adder which stops its ears,

which does not heed the voice of the charmer,

no matter how skilled his charming.

–Psalm 58:3-5, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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Ishbaal/Ishbosheth was the King of Israel in name only.  The real power behind the throne was Abner, who had made him the monarch.  Abner also began to ally himself with David.  Then Joab slew Abner for having killed Asahel in 2 Samuel 2:25-32.  Ishbaal/Ishbosheth died via assassination.  Then David had the assassins executed.

The narrative goes to great lengths to establish David’s innocence in the deaths of Abner and Ishbaal/Ishbosheth.  One may surmise that rumors of David’s complicity circulated widely.  Human nature does not change.  However, the speed at which lies circulate varies according to technology.  They spread more widely more rapidly in this age of social media than in previous times.  One may acknowledge, however, that lies spread rapidly in antiquity, too.

My only other point is to object to the use of wives–including Michal–as political pawns of powerful men, such as David.  People do have inherent dignity, do they not?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 30, 2020 COMMON ERA

PROPER 17:  THE THIRTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF SAINT JEANNE JUGAN, FOUNDRESS OF THE LITTLE SISTERS OF THE POOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN LEARY, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC SOCIAL ACTIVIST AND ADVOCATE FOR THE POOR AND THE MARGINALIZED

THE FEAST OF KARL OTTO EBERHARDT, GERMAN MORAVIAN ORGANIST, MUSIC, EDUCATOR, AND COMPOSER

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Posted August 30, 2020 by neatnik2009 in 2 Samuel 2, 2 Samuel 3, 2 Samuel 4, Psalm 58

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The Accession of King David of Judah and the Beginning of the Israelite Civil War   Leave a comment

Above:  Abner

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 1-2 SAMUEL, 1 KINGS, 2 KINGS 1-21, 1 CHRONICLES, AND 2 CHRONICLES 1-33

PART XXIX

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2 Samuel 2:1-32

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Do you indeed decree righteousness, you rulers?

do you judge the peoples with equity?

No; you devise evil in your hearts,

and your hands deal out violence in the land.

–Psalm 58:1-2, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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1 Chronicles 11:1-3 skips over years of civil war (2 Samuel 2-4) and jumps to 2 Samuel 5:1-5.  Civil war?  What civil war?  There was a civil war?

Yes, there was.

David became the King of Judah after the death of Saul, the King of Israel.  Ishbaal/Ishbosheth, one of Saul’s surviving sons, became the King of Israel.  Ishbaal (“Man of Baal”) was his given name.  Ishbosheth (“Man of shame”) was an editorial comment.  Ishbaal/Ishbosheth reigned for about two years.

Aside:  On occasion, “Baal” functioned as a synonym for YHWH, as in 2 Samuel 5:20.  Usually, though, it referred to a Canaanite deity, often Baal Peor, the storm/fertility god.  “Baal” mean “Lord.”  Some Biblical texts referred to “the Baals” (Judges 2:11; Judges 3:7; Judges 8:33; Judges 10:6; Judges 10:10; 1 Samuel 7:4; 1 Samuel 12:10; 1 Kings 18:18; 2 Chronicles 17:3; 2 Chronicles 24:7; 2 Chronicles 28:2; 2 Chronicles 33:3; 2 Chronicles 34:4; Jeremiah 2:33; Jeremiah 9:14; Hosea 2:13: Hosea 2:17; and Hosea 11:2).

The civil war began at Gibeon.  Abner served as the general loyal to Ishbaal/Ishbosheth.  Joab was David’s general.  The forces under Joab’s command won the first battle.

The narrative emphasizes the legitimacy of David as monarch.  God was on David’s side, according to the text; Abner’s forces had a higher death toll.

Abner’s question, from the context of those high casualties, remains applicable.

Must the sword devour forever?

–2 Samuel 2:26a, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

How long will the sword, tank, missile, drone, bullet, et cetera, devour?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 30, 2020 COMMON ERA

PROPER 17:  THE THIRTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF SAINT JEANNE JUGAN, FOUNDRESS OF THE LITTLE SISTERS OF THE POOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN LEARY, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC SOCIAL ACTIVIST AND ADVOCATE FOR THE POOR AND THE MARGINALIZED

THE FEAST OF KARL OTTO EBERHARDT, GERMAN MORAVIAN ORGANIST, MUSIC, EDUCATOR, AND COMPOSER

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The Battle of Gilboa and the Death of Saul and Jonathan   Leave a comment

Above:  The Death of Saul

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 1-2 SAMUEL, 1 KINGS, 2 KINGS 1-21, 1 CHRONICLES, AND 2 CHRONICLES 1-33

PART XXVIII

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1 Samuel 31:1-13

1 Chronicles 10:1-14

2 Samuel 1:1-27

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For my enemies are talking against me,

and those who lie in wait for my life take counsel together.

They say, “God has forsaken him;

go after him and seize him;

because there is none who will save.”

–Psalm 71:10-11, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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Consistent chronology is not the organizing principle of 1 Samuel.  Chronologically, the correct order at the end of the book is:

  1. 27:1-28:2
  2. 29:1-11
  3. 30:1-11
  4. 28:3-25
  5. 31:1-13

Saul had become the King of Israel with a charge to free the Israelites from the Philistine threat.  He had failed.  After his death, most of Israel came under Philistine domination.  Saul, early in his reign, had rescued the people of Jabesh-Gilead (1 Samuel 11).  Ironically, Saul was beyond rescue in Chapter 31.  Residents of Jabesh-Gilead rescued his corpse, however.  Saul had chosen honorable suicide over captivity.  His story had a sad ending.

Saul’s dynasty continued, though.  One son, Ishbosheth, survived.  He became the King of Israel in 2 Samuel 2.

Notice, O reader, the consistency between 1 Samuel 31:1-13 and 1 Chronicles 10:1-14.  Both of them state that Saul committed suicide.  Then, O reader, contrast that version with with the tale the Amalekite told David in 2 Samuel 1.  One lesson a person can learn from reading certain portions of the Hebrew Bible is never to trust an Amalekite.  Also remember that not everybody in the Bible speaks honestly.

The unnamed Amalekite, I suppose, sought a reward from David for having allegedly killed Saul, even allegedly at Saul’s request.  The Amalekite lied to the wrong man.  Saul, as David acknowledged, was God’s anointed.

David also mourned for Jonathan, his friend and brother-in-law.  Jonathan had good character.  He was also loyal to his father to the end.  Jonathan had been honest about Saul’s failings as a man, a ruler, and a military commander.  Jonathan had spoken up on David’s behalf and incurred Saul’s verbal wrath.  Jonathan had helped David while the latter was on the run from Saul.  Yet Jonathan had never been disloyal to the kingdom and the monarchy.

The germane texts depict Jonathan as a decisive military commander and a man of good character.  I wonder about a counterfactual scenario in which Jonathan succeeded his father.  I wonder what the Biblical evaluation of King Jonathan would have been.  That, of course, is not the story we have.  The death of Jonathan in 1 Samuel 31 and 1 Chronicles 10 may be sadder than that of King Saul.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 23, 2020 COMMON ERA

PROPER 16:  THE TWELFTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF SAINTS MARTIN DE PORRES AND JUAN MACIAS, HUMANITARIANS AND DOMINICAN LAY BROTHERS; SAINT ROSE OF LIMA, HUMANITARIAN AND DOMINICAN SISTER; AND SAINT TURIBIUS OF MOGROVEJO, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF LIMA

THE FEAST OF THEODORE O. WEDEL, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR; AND CYNTHIA CLARK WEDEL, U.S. PSYCHOLOGIST AND EPISCOPAL ECUMENIST

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