Archive for the ‘2 Samuel 20’ Category

The Superscription of the Book of Jeremiah   Leave a comment

Above:  Jeremiah

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

READING JEREMIAH, PART I

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Jeremiah 1:1-3

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The first three verses of the Book of Jeremiah identify the prophet, his father, the prophet’s hometown, and the timeframe of his prophetic ministry.

Jeremiah (“YHWH will exalt”) ben Hilkiah hailed from Anathoth, about three and a half miles northeast of Jerusalem.  The father, Hilkiah, was a priest.  Hilkiah and Jeremiah were outside of the priestly establishment in Jerusalem.  Therefore, this Hilkiah was not the high priest Hilkiah (2 Kings 22:3-23:37) who found the scroll of Deuteronomy in the Temple, brought that scroll to King Josiah (r. 640-609 B.C.E.), and participated in Josiah’s religious reformation.

Hailing from Anathoth was significant.  Anathoth was one of the cities assigned to Levitical priests in Joshua 21:18.  After the death of King David, King Solomon had exiled the priest Abiathar (1 Samuel 22:20-22; 1 Samuel 23:6, 9; 1 Samuel 30:7; 2 Samuel 8:17; 2 Samuel 15:24, 27, 29, 35; 2 Samuel 17:15; 2 Samuel 19:11; 2 Samuel 20:25; 1 Kings 1:7, 19, 25, 42; 1 Kings 2:35; 1 Kings 4:4; 1 Chronicles 15:11; 1 Chronicles 18:16; 1 Chronicles 24:6; 1 Chronicles 27:34; Mark 2:26) to Anathoth for supporting Adonijah in the struggle for succession (1 Kings 2:26-27).  Jeremiah, therefore, was also a member of a priestly family.  He understood the ancient traditions of Israel, as well as the foundational character of the covenant in the life of Israel.

The superscription also defines the period during which Jeremiah prophesied:  from the thirteenth year (627 B.C.E.) of the reign (640-609 B.C.E.) of King Josiah of Judah through “the eleventh year of King Zedekiah,” “when Jerusalem went into exile in the fifth month” (586 B.C.E.).  We read in Chapters 39-44 that Jeremiah prophesied after the Fall of Jerusalem, too.  The list of kings names Josiah, Jehoiakim, and Zedekiah.  That list omits Jehoahaz/Jeconiah/Shallum and Jehoiachin/Jeconiah/Coniah.  Yet, as the germane note in The Jewish Study Bible, Second Edition (2014), points out, few of the prophecies in the Book of Jeremiah date to the reign of King Josiah.

Jeremiah prophesied during a turbulent and difficult period of decline–mostly after the fall of the Assyrian Empire (612 B.C.E. and before the Fall of Jerusalem (586 B.C.E.). In the wake of King Josiah’s death, Judah had become a vassal state of Egypt.  Pharaoh Neco II had chosen the next two Kings of Judah.  Jehoahaz/Jeconiah/Shallum (2 Kings 23:31-35; 2 Chronicles 36:1-4; 1 Esdras 1:34-38) had reigned for about three months before becoming a prisoner in Egypt.  Then Neco II had appointed Eliakim and renamed him Jehoiakim (r. 608-598 B.C.E.; 2 Kings 23:36-24:7; 2 Chronicles 36:5-8; 1 Esdras 1:39-42).  Jehoiakim was always a vassal while King of Judah.  After being the vassal of Neco II of Egypt for about three years, he became a vassal of the Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian Empire in 605 B.C.E.  He died a prisoner in that empire.

Two more Kings of Judah reigned; both were vassals of the Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian Empire.  Jehoiachin/Jeconiah/Coniah (2 Kings 24:8-17; 2 Kings 25:27-30; 2 Chronicles 36:9-10; 1 Esdras 1:43-46) reigned for about three months before going into exile in that empire.  The last King of Judah was Zedekiah, born Mattaniah (2 Kings 24:18-25:26; 2 Chronicles 36:11-21; 1 Esdras 1:47-58).  He reigned from 597 to 586 B.C.E.  The last events he saw before Chaldean soldiers blinded him were the executions of his sons.

The Book of Jeremiah is one of the longest books in the Hebrew Bible; it contains 52 chapters.  The final draft is the product of augmentation and editing subsequent to the time of Jeremiah himself.  In fact, Jeremiah 52 is mostly verbatim from 2 Kings 24:18-25:30.  Also Jeremiah 52:4-16 occur also in Jeremiah 39:1-2, 4-10.  Chronology is not the organizing principle of material in the Book of Jeremiah; jumping around the timeline is commonplace.  For example, the Fall of Jerusalem (586 B.C.E.) occurs between Chapters 32 and 33, as well as in Chapters 39 and 52.  Some ancient copies are longer than other ancient copies.  None of the subsequent augmentation and editing, complete with some material being absent from certain ancient copies of the book surprises me, based on my reading about the development of certain Biblical texts.  I do not pretend that divinely-inspired authors were mere secretaries for God.

Rabbi Abraham J. Heschel made a germane and wonderful point in The Prophets, Volume I (1962), viii:

The prophet is a person, not a microphone.  He is endowed with a mission, with the power of a word not his own that accounts for his greatness–but also with temperament, concern, character, and individuality.  As there was no resisting the impact of divine inspiration, so at times there was no resisting the vortex of his own temperament.  The word of God reverberated in the voice of man.

The prophet’s task is to convey a divine view, yet as a person he is a point of view.  He speaks from the perspective of God as perceived from the perspective of his own situation.  We must seek to understand not only the views he expounded but also the attitudes he embodied:  his own position, feeling response–not only what he said but also what he lived; the private, the intimate dimension of the word, the subjective side of the message.

Those paragraphs applied to all the Hebrew prophets.  They applied to Jeremiah with greater poignancy than to the others, though.

I invite you, O reader, to remain with me as I blog my way through the book of the “weeping prophet.”

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 6, 2021 COMMON ERA

PROPER 5:  THE SECOND SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF FRANKLIN CLARK FRY, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED LUTHERAN CHURCH IN AMERICA AND THE LUTHERAN CHURCH IN AMERICA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CLAUDE OF BESANÇON, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, MONK, ABBOT, AND BISHOP

THE FEAST OF HENRY JAMES BUCKOLL, AUTHOR AND TRANSLATOR OF HYMNS

THE FEAST OF JOHANN FRIEDRICH HERTZOG, GERMAN LUTHERAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM KETHE, PRESBYTERIAN HYMN WRITER

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Death and Legacy of King David   Leave a comment

Above:  David and Solomon with the Madonna and Baby Jesus

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

PART LIII

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

2 Samuel 23:1-7

1 Kings 2:1-12

1 Chronicles 29:26-30

Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 47:2-11

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

In all his activities he gave thanks

to the Holy One Most High in words of glory;

he put all his heart into his songs

out of love for his Creator.

–Ecclesiasticus 47:8, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

After reigning for about forty years and six months, David died.  His record was mixed–more mixed than some Biblical authors admitted.  Other Biblical sources, however, were honest about David’s moral failings as a man and a monarch.

David’s final advice to Solomon in 1 Kings 2 combines piety with orders for executions.  One reads of plans to punish (by killing) Joab and Shimei, both of whom David had spared in 2 Samuel–Shimei in Chapters 16 and 19, and Joab in Chapters 2, 18, 19, and 20.  The Corleone family–er, Davidic Dynasty–was about to settle accounts.

To repeat myself from a previous post, I do not like David.  I even have strong sympathies for Saul.  I perceive unduly negative press regarding the first King of Israel.  I perceive a pro-Davidic filter in accounts of Saul.  I conclude that Saul was not as bad as we are supposed to think, and that David was much worse than we are supposed to think, according to the texts.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 15, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT TERESA OF AVILA, SPANISH ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN, MYSTIC, AND REFORMER

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Victory Over the Philistines   Leave a comment

Above:  King David, by Valentin de Boulogne

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

PART XLVIII

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

2 Samuel 21:15-22:51

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The LORD thundered out of heaven;

the Most High uttered his voice.

He loosed his arrows and scattered them;

he hurled his thunderbolts and routed them.

–Psalm 18:14-15, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

2 Samuel 21-24 constitute an appendix.  They interrupt the narrative flow from 2 Samuel 20 to 1 Kings 1.  Organizing material for maximum clarity can be a challenge, and following chronology strictly does not always lead to maximum clarity.  Sometimes thematic organization is preferable.  And appendices are legitimate.

I have already covered 2 Samuel 21:1-14, based on thematic organization of material.

The material in 2 Samuel 21:15-22:51 comes from the early period of David’s reign, prior to 2 Samuel 11, perhaps even to 2 Samuel 5.  The germane Biblical authors, for all their literary, historical, and theological virtues, did not always make the material’s placement in time relative to other material clear.  That we are reading an edited, composite book composed of material with conflicting timelines complicates the matter.

The psalm of thanksgiving (2 Samuel 22) is literarily and theologically rich.  Its devices should be familiar to anyone who has read the Book of Psalms (especially Psalm 18) closely.

I reserve 2 Samuel 23:1-7 (the last words of David) for a future post, for the sake of keeping a chronology.

I have already covered 2 Samuel 23:8-39, for the purpose of thematic organization of material.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 15, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT TERESA OF AVILA, SPANISH ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN, MYSTIC, AND REFORMER

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Another Revolt in Israel   Leave a comment

Above:  Joab Slays Amasa

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

PART XLVII

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

2 Samuel 20:1-26

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Repay them according to their deeds,

and according to the wickedness of their actions.

–Psalm 28:4, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Chronology is not always the organizing principle for material in 2 Samuel.  2 Samuel 20, for example, leads into 1 Kings 1.  2 Samuel 21-24 constitute an appendix.  I, trained as a historian, think about the arrangement of material.  Chronology is not always the best organizing material.  One can often make a case for moving chronologically within one theme at a time.  Appendices are also legitimate.

Joab!  Joab slew Abner (2 Samuel 3:27).  Joab ordered the death of Absalom, against David’s commands (2 Samuel 18).  Then David demoted Abner and promoted Amasa (2 Samuel 19).  (Aside:  I would have fired Joab.)  Next, some time later, Joab slew Amasa (2 Samuel 20:10) and became the commander again.  (Aside:  Why did David keep Joab around so long?)  Joab also threatened the town of Abel of Beth-maacah and accepted an offer to save the population in exchange for the head of Sheba son of Bichri, the most recent rebel leader.  David, dying, advised Solomon to order the execution of Joab (1 Kings 2:5-6).  Solomon did (1 Kings 2:28f).

How are we supposed to evaluate Joab?  Was he an overzealous patriot who occasionally violated David’s orders?  Perhaps.  Maybe David should not have permitted Joab to get away with such actions.  Or maybe Joab was correct vis-á-vis Sheba.  If had David had consented to the beheading of Shimei in 2 Samuel 16:9, the rebellion of Chapter 20 would never have occurred, according to a note in The Jewish Study Bible.  If we agree with that note, the dying David was correct to order the execution of Shimei (1 Kings 2:8-9), which Solomon made happen several years later (1 Kings 2:39-46).  Or maybe one agrees with me and disagrees with that note in The Jewish Study Bible.

Nobody is right or wrong all of the time.  One is, however, either right more often that one is wrong or wrong more often than one is right.  Even a broken clock is right twice a day, to quote a cliché.  

So, was Joab right more often than he was wrong?  Or was he wrong more often than he was right?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 14, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS CALLIXTUS I, ANTERUS, AND PONTIAN, BISHOPS OF ROME; AND SAINT HIPPOLYTUS, ANTIPOPE

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROMAN LYSKO, UKRAINIAN GREEK CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1949

THE FEAST OF SAMUEL ISAAC JOSEPH SCHERESCHEWSKY, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF SHANGHAI, AND BIBLICAL TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF THOMAS HANSEN KINGO, DANISH LUTHERAN BISHOP, HYMN WRITER, AND “POET OF EASTERTIDE”

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

David’s Attempts to Restore Unity   Leave a comment

Above:  King David

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

PART XLVI

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

2 Samuel 19:1-43 (Protestant)/19:2-44 (Jewish and Roman Catholic), or, as the Eastern Orthodox call the text, 2 Kingdoms 19:2-44

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Turn to me and have pity on me,

for I am left alone and in misery.

The sorrows of my heart have increased;

bring me out of my troubles.

Look upon my adversity and misery

and forgive me all my sin.

–Psalm 25:15-17, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

David was victorious and relatively magnanimous following the events of 2 Samuel 15-18 (the rebellion of Absalom).  The King, for example, demoted Joab, who had committed insubordination, caused the death of Absalom, and behaved insensitively toward the grieving David.  But David let Joab live.  David promoted Amasa to take Joab’s place.  The King even rejected another suggestion to have Shimei (who had cursed him 2 Samuel 16) executed.  Unfortunately, David changed his mind years later (1 Kings 1:8-9) and Solomon ordered the death of Shimei (1 Kings 2:36-46).

Unity remained elusive in the immediate wake of the rebellion of Absalom, however.  There was no way David could unfry that egg.

2 Samuel 19 presents David favorably.  He stands in contrast to the lying, insensitive Joab and the pitiful yet loyal Mephibosheth.  The narrative also presents David as a broken, humbled man not eager to shed more blood immediately after a bloody rebellion.

This was the first rebellion.  The second one followed in Chapter 20.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 3, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GEORGE KENNEDY ALLEN BELL, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF CHICHESTER

THE FEAST OF ALBERTO RAMENTO, PRIME BISHOP OF THE PHILIPPINE INDEPENDENT CHURCH

THE FEAST OF SAINT GERARD OF BROGNE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF JOHN RALEIGH MOTT, U.S. METHODIST LAY EVANGELIST, AND ECUMENICAL PIONEER

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++