Archive for the ‘Jonathan’ Tag

A Dangerous Game, Part I   2 comments

Above:  Coin of Alexander Balas

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 1, 2 AND 4 MACCABEES

PART XXVI

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1 Maccabees 10:1-89

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Demetrius I Soter (Reigned 162-150 B.C.E.)

Alexander Epiphanes (Balas) (Reigned 150-145 B.C.E.)

Ptolemy VI Philometor (Reigned 180-145 B.C.E.)

Demetrius II Nicator (Reigned 145-139/138  and 129/128-125 B.C.E.)

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As the Biblical texts and historical records established, and as I have written in this series, the Seleucid Empire became politically unstable during the time of the Hasmonean Rebellion.  There were years of relative stability, though.

Then, in 152 B.C.E. (160 on the Seleucid/Hellenistic calendar), Alexander Epiphanes (Balas; sometimes spelled Balus) landed and established himself as a claimant to the throne King Demetrius I Soter occupied.  Alexander claimed to be a son of King Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175-164/163 B.C.E.) and a brother of King Antiochus V Eupator (reigned 164/163 B.C.E.).  King Demetrius I Soter and Alexander Balas competed in a bidding war, with Jonathan as the central figure. 

  1. King Demetrius I Soter declared the Hasmonean leader an ally, authorized the release of hostages in the Jerusalem citadel, and gave him the authority to raise an army.
  2. Alexander Balas, in turn, appointed Jonathan the High Priest and made him a Friend of the King.  Jonathan began his duties at the High Priest in 152 B.C.E.
  3. Then King Demetrius I Soter exempted Jews from paying tribute and other taxes, vowed to free all Jewish prisoners of war, and granted the High Priest (not specifically named as Jonathan) authority over the citadel in Jerusalem.  King Demetrius I Soter also recognized Jerusalem as a holy city, vowed to subsidize the Temple, and promised funds for rebuilding Jerusalem.
  4. Jonathan supported Alexander Balas.

Father Daniel J. Harrington, S. J., writing in The New Collegeville Bible Commentary:  Old Testament (2015), suggested that King Demetrius I Soter’s counter-offer may have been an attempt to lure Jews away from Jonathan with promises too good to be true.

Meanwhile, the armies of King Demetrius I Soter and Alexander Balas fought each other.  Alexander Balas defeated and killed King Demetrius I Soter in combat in 150 B.C.E.

Next, King Alexander Balas cemented an alliance with the Ptolemaic Empire.  In 150 B.C.E., he married Cleopatra Thea, daughter of King Ptolemy VI Philometor.  Jonathan attended the wedding ceremony, met both monarchs, and won their favor.  Jonathan, enrolled in the highest rank of Friends of the King, became a general and a governor, serving under King Alexander Balas.

Meanwhile, the future King Demetrius II Nicator, son of King Demetrius I Soter, began a rebellion against King Alexander Balas in 147 B.C.E. (165 on the Seleucid/Hellenistic calendar).  Jonathan answered a challenge to lead his army into combat against seemingly overwhelming odds.  Apollonius, the governor of Coele-Syria (thereby Jonathan’s superior)  and an ally of Demetrius II Nicator, came to regret having issued that challenge.  The Hasmonean army triumphed.  That army also showed no mercy to certain villages, burned a pagan temple, and killed 8,000 people.  King Alexander Balas, impressed, granted Jonathan Ekron and the environs.  The monarch also promoted Jonathan to the rank of the King’s Kinsman.

Robert Doran, writing in The New Interpreter’s Bible, Volume IV (1996), noted that Jonathan played both ends against the middle, and thereby played a dangerous game.  Doran also asked what role moral issues should play in international politics.  Furthermore, Doran wrote:

Thinking only of one’s own national gain in such circumstances as Jonathan found himself in can bring short-term benefits, but long-term loss.  When one of the parties wins control, then the victor may not look so kindly on promises extracted under duress.

–131

History books tell me that King Demetrius II Nicator defeated King Alexander Balas in 145 B.C.E.  Oops!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 15, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE NEW MARTYRS OF LIBYA, 2015

THE FEAST OF BEN SALMON, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC PACIFIST AND CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR

THE FEAST OF FRANCIS HAROLD ROWLEY, NORTHERN BAPTIST MINISTER, HUMANITARIAN, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF MICHAEL PRAETORIUS, GERMAN LUTHERAN COMPOSER AND MUSICOLOGIST

THE FEAST OF THOMAS BRAY, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND MISSIONARY

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The Death of Judas Maccabeus   Leave a comment

Above:  The Death of Judas Maccabeus

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 1, 2 AND 4 MACCABEES

PART XXIV

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1 Maccabees 9:1-22

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Demetrius I Soter (Reigned 162-150 B.C.E.)

Alcimus, High Priest (In Office Before 162-159 B.C.E.)

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Back in 1 Maccabees 7 and 2 Maccabees 15, Nicanor (one of the Nicanors, anyway) died in combat against Hasmonean forces under the command of Judas Maccabeus.  Nicanor’s severed head hung from the citadel of Jeusalem, and his severed tongue became food for birds.

Seleucid King Demetrius I Soter reacted to that news about as well as you, O reader, may have guessed.  He sent governor Bacchides and High Priest Alcimus into action again in the Seleucid/Hellenistic year 152 (160 B.C.E.)  The war between the Hasmoneans and the Seleucid Empire continued.  The overwhelming numbers of the Seleucid army inspired fear in Hasmonean ranks.  Judas Maccabeus’s relatively small army became smaller via desertion.

Judas Maccabeus remembered what you, O reader, may also recall:  the effectiveness of guerrilla warfare earlier in the narrative.  That was then.  Judas Maccabeus died in combat.

The Hasmonean Rebellion continued, however.

1 Maccabees 9:21 reads:

How is our champion fallen,

the saviour of Israel.

The Revised English Bible (1989)

This draws from two other verses.  One is 2 Samuel 1:25a, part of David’s lament for the Jonathan and King Saul:

How are the warriors fallen on the field of battle!

The Revised English Bible (1989)

The other verse is Judges 3:9:

Then the Israelites cried to the LORD for help, and to deliver them he raised up Othniel son of Caleb’s younger brother Kenaz, and he set them free.

The Revised English Bible (1989)

Robert Doran, writing in The New Interpreter’s Bible, Volume IV (1996), asked a germane question:

What had Judas actually accomplished?

-111

Seleucid forces controlled Jerusalem.  Furthermore, Judas Maccabeus had died as a guerrilla seeking to avoid capture.  He died a failure.  So did King Saul (1 Samuel 31:1-13; 1 Chronicles 10:1-10), who perished while fighting to liberate the Hebrews from Philistine oppression.

Doran proposed that Judas Maccabeus became a hero postmortem because his family eventually won the struggle and founded a dynasty:

Judas’s was a movement that could not fail, for it depended not on him alone but on the vision that his father had sparked in many minds.

–Robert Doran, in The New Interpreter’s Bible, Volume IV (1996), 111

Jonathan, brother of Judas Maccabeus, took on the mantle of leadership and continued the struggle.  In contrast, David, rival of King Saul, eventually won freedom for his people from Philistine oppression.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 14, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE LAST SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF SAINT ABRAHAM OF CARRHAE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF CHRISTOPH CARL LUDWIG VON PFEIL, GERMAN LUTHERAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINTS CYRIL AND METHODIUS, APOSTLES TO THE SLAVS

THE FEAST OF JOHANN MICHAEL ALTENBURG, GERMAN LUTHERAN PASTOR, COMPOSER, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF VICTOR OLOF PETERSEN, SWEDISH-AMERICAN LUTHERAN HYMN TRANSLATOR

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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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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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David and Jonathan   Leave a comment

Above:  David and Jonathan

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 XIX

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1 Samuel 20:1-42

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Hear my voice, O God, when I complain;

protect my life from the fear of the enemy.

–Psalm 64:1, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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1 Samuel 20 does not flow from 1 Samuel 19, except for an addition in the first verse.  If one has been paying close attention to the composite narrative, one may recall 1 Samuel 19.  One may remember that King Saul, aware of David’s absence from the royal court, had started to pursue the former shepherd.  One may also recall that King Saul had instructed Jonathan to kill David and that Jonathan had spoken up for David.  I mention all this because, at the beginning of 1 Samuel 20, we read of Jonathan being unaware of the monarch’s plans and efforts to kill David.  If I were a Biblical literalist, this would bother me, and I would seek to reconcile the different sources and resolve the contradictions.  I prefer, however, to acknowledge the factual inconsistencies and write about the friendship of David and Jonathan.

Jonathan, heir to the throne, sided with David, whom he acknowledged as a future king.  Jonathan did this to the disadvantage of this position.  He was at peace with his decision.  King Saul, who was not at peace with Jonathan’s decision, cursed out the crown prince (verse 30).  (The Living Bible came closest to getting the English translation correct.  It had King Saul call Jonathan, “You son of a bitch!”)  King Saul even threw a spear at Jonathan, as the monarch had done to David (19:8-10).

Friendship is a form of love.  Focusing not on selfish gain but on what is best for a friend constitutes expressing this form of love.  Doing the right thing may be dangerous and/or costly.  It remains the only morally feasible option, though.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 21, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BRUNO ZEMBOL, POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC FRIAR AND MARTYR, 1942

THE FEAST OF SAINTS CAMERIUS, CISELLUS, AND LUXORIUS OF SARDINIA, MARTYRS, 303

THE FEAST OF THE MARTYRS OF EDESSA, CIRCA 304

THE FEAST OF SAINT MAXIMILIAN OF ANTIOCH; MARTYR, CIRCA 353; AND SAINTS BONOSUS AND MAXIMIANUS THE SOLDIER, MARTYRS, 362

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Posted August 21, 2020 by neatnik2009 in 1 Samuel 19, 1 Samuel 20, Psalm 64

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David Forced to Flee from King David   Leave a comment

Above:  Saul Attacking David, by Guercino

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 XVIII

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1 Samuel 19:1-24

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Not because of any guilt of mine

they run and prepare themselves for battle.

Rouse yourself, come to my side, and see;

for you, LORD God of hosts, are Israel’s God.

–Psalm 59:4-5, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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Samuel never saw David again to the day of his death.

–1 Samuel 15:35a, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

Not unless one counts 1 Samuel 19:22-24, from a different source.  This is just one example of a contradiction that resulted from the cutting and pasting of sources into a composite narrative.

Back in 1 Samuel 10:9-12, after his anointing as the King of Israel, the Spirit of God gripped Saul.  He, amid a band of prophets, spoke in ecstasy with them.

Is Saul too among the prophets?

–1 Samuel 10:11, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

Yes.

Is Saul too among the prophets?

–1 Samuel 19:24, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

No.  Saul had become an oath-breaking monarch who openly attempted murder and will willing to kill his son-in-law in bed.  Saul had lost the support of Michal (his daughter and David’s wife) and Jonathan (his son and David’s friend and son-in-law).  Saul had lost his dignity and honor.  Saul had lost God’s blessing.  David, in the company of Samuel, had gained it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 15, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARY OF NAZARETH, MOTHER OF GOD

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Posted August 15, 2020 by neatnik2009 in 1 Samuel 10, 1 Samuel 15, 1 Samuel 19, Psalm 59

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David, Goliath, and Elhanan, Too   Leave a comment

Above:  David With the Head of Goliath, by Nicolas Tournier

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 XVI

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1 Samuel 17:1-18:5

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I went out to meet the Philistine,

and he cursed me by his idols.

But I drew my own sword;

I beheaded him, and took away disgrace from the people of Israel.

–Psalm 151:6-7, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

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One can learn much by consulting an unabridged concordance of the Bible.

2 Samuel 21:18-22, set during the reign of King David, begins:

After this, fighting broke out again with the Philistines, at Gob; that was when Sibbecai the Hushathite killed Saph, a descendant of the Raphah.  Again there was fighting with the Philistines at Gob; and Elhanan son of Jaare-oregim the Bethlehmite killed Goliath the Gittite, whose spear had a shaft like a weaver’s bar.

–2 Samuel 21:18-19, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

1 Chronicles 20:15, also set during David’s reign, mentions Elhanan the Benjaminite, too.  The Chronicler altered 2 Samuel 21:19, though.

Again there was fighting with the Philistines, and Elhanan son of Jair killed Lahmi, the brother of Goliath the Gittite; his spear had a shaft like a weaver’s beam.

–1 Chronicles 20:5, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

One Elhanan son of Dodo the Bethlehemite receives a brief mention in 2 Samuel 23:24 and 1 Chronicles 11:26.  Whether Elhanan son of Jair/Jaare-oregim was Elhanan son of Dodo is uncertain.  According to Hans Wilhelm Herzberg, I and II Samuel:  A Commentary (1964), the son of Jair/Jaare-oregim being the son of Dodo is “questionable.”

According to 1 Samuel 17:7, the shaft of Goliath’s spear

was like a weaver’s bar,

just like the spear shaft in 2 Samuel 21:19 and 1 Chronicles 20:5.

If I were a Biblical literalist, the questions of who slew Goliath and who Elhanan killed would bother me.  I am not a Biblical literalist, though.  I agree with the scholarly opinion that Elhanan slew Goliath and that someone altered 1 Samuel 17 to relabel “the Philistine” occasionally as Goliath.  Besides, I know of the tendency to credit kings for the deeds of their warriors.  One may recall reading of Saul receiving credit in 1 Samuel 13:4 for what Jonathan had done in 13:3.

If I were a Biblical literalist, I would also seek to reconcile 1 Samuel 16:18-23 (in which Saul, having learned who Jesse and David were, took David into the royal court) with 1 Samuel 17, in which David had not yet entered royal service (verses 12-15) and Saul did not know who Jesse and David were (verses 55-58) until David told him in verse 58.  I would also try to reconcile 1 Samuel 16:18-23 with 1 Samuel 18:2, in which David entered royal service after slaying Goliath.

The Biblical stories one needs to read the most closely are the tales one thinks one knows.  One may not know those stories as well as one thinks.

“David and Goliath” has become shorthand for being an underdog.  That theme does exist in the story.  However, I choose to focus on another theme, that of the consequences of mocking God.  1 Samuel 17 drives home that the uncircumcised Philistines (verse 26) were mocking the “ranks of the living God.”  Some translations use “disgrace” instead of “mock.”  Everett Fox, in Volume II of The Schocken Bible, points to the Philistine champion falling face-down (verse 49) as if in a posture of worship after David found the Philistine warrior’s weak spot and killed him.  Fox also refers to another Biblical example of mocking God in the presence of Hebrew soldiers.  He mentions the Assyrian mocking of God in 2 Kings 18, during the reign of King Hezekiah.  One may remember that, in 2 Kings 19, an angel slew the Assyrian army.

Mocking God is a bad idea.  So is shutting down one’s critical faculties.  I refuse to check my brain at the threshold of a church building and at the cover of a Bible.  I also try not to mock God.

Anyway, for the rest of the story…

David went on to forge a friendship with crown prince Jonathan, win battles, and make a name for himself, according to 1 Samuel 18:1-5.  The author presented David as possessing excellent royal qualities.  David was becoming a political threat to King Saul, in that monarch’s unsettled mind.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 15, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARY OF NAZARETH, MOTHER OF GOD

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The War Against the Philistines Continues   Leave a comment

Above: King 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 XIII

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1 Samuel 13:15b-14:52

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Let God arise, and let his enemies be scattered;

let those who hate him flee before him.

–Psalm 68:1, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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This story presents Saul negatively.

  1. Jonathan was a superior strategist.
  2. Saul was impulsive.  Jonathan understood the element of surprise.
  3. Jonathan, unlike his father, understood that an army marches on its stomach, to steal a line from Napoleon Bonaparte.
  4. Saul, not considering that he had not acted to inform Jonathan of the ban on eating honey, was willing to execute his son for unknowingly violating the order.
  5. Ironically, the crown prince (who had started the war in 13:3) was better at fulfilling one reason many people requested a king (1 Samuel 8) than his father was.

The story presents King Saul as a man who did not grow into his job.  The past is replete with people who have had power thrust upon them.  Historical records indicate that some of these individuals grew into their offices and performed their duties well.  Historical records also indicate that many others did not rise to the occasion and the office.

King Saul comes across as one in over his head.  He comes across as one who would have been happy remaining a farmer who occasionally chased runaway donkeys.

Jonathan comes across as one who knew Saul better than Saul.  His criticism of his father (14:29) follows one version of God’s rejection of Saul (13:8-15a).  Father-son tensions are on display in this story.  The story, in which the army overrules the monarch (14:44-45), reveals that Jonathan, in one way, had an advantage over his father.

But wait, was not Saul the chosen of God (Chapter 10) until he was not (13:8-15a and 15:1-35)?  The editing of different sources into a composite narrative complicated interpretation.  Furthemore, the interpretive lens of this material was pre-Davidic Dynastic.  Nevertheless, Saul may have been subpar.  (I have no good reason to reject that conclusion.)

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 15, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARY OF NAZARETH, MOTHER OF GOD

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God Rejects Saul: Two Versions   Leave a comment

Above: Saul Rejected as King

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 XII

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1 Samuel 13:1-15a

1 Samuel 15:1-35

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[Samuel said,] “After that, you are to go down to Gilgal ahead of me, and I will come down to you to present burnt offerings and offer sacrifices of well-being.  Wait seven days until I come to you and instruct you what you are to do next.

–1 Samuel 10:8, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

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The editing of different sources into a composite narrative created doublets–two versions of the same story–throughout parts of the Old Testament.  Therefore, in the composite narrative, God rejected Saul in Chapters 13 and 15–in chapter 15 as if the account from Chapter 13 had not occurred.

I will write about each version in turn.

1 Samuel 13:1-15a

Samuel the prophet was under the impression that Saul, as the King of Israel, was his subordinate.  Saul initially tried to obey the prophet’s instructions from 10:8, but Samuel was late.  The monarch cited military necessity to act in Samuel’s stead.  Samuel was not happy.

Saul was in this difficult, wartime situation because his son, Jonathan, had killed the Philistine prefect in Geba.  The crown prince apparently thought that God would grant great victory.  Saul, however, feared the superior Philistine forces.  The king may have been correct to fear them.  Anyway, he received credit for Jonathan’s deed and proceeded to lead the military campaign.

What else was Saul supposed to do at Gilgal?  He faced a superior force that had more men and better technology.  His army was about to desert.  So, he made the sacrifice.  Samuel deemed the monarch acting in the stead of the prophet improper.  Yet the army not only continued to exist but grew.

1 Samuel 13:8-15a offers the improper sacrifice version of God’s rejection of Saul.  The implication in the text is that Saul, perhaps still a reluctant monarch, lacked faith in God.

1 Samuel 15:1-35

The Amalekites were archenemies of the Jews.  They had attacked the Hebrews in Exodus 17:8-16 and Deuteronomy 25:17-18.   Saul, according to 1 Samuel 15, under a divine directive to

kill alike men and women, infants and sucklings, oxen and sheep, camels and asses,

to spare nobody, led an assault against the Amalekites.  The Israelite army did not, however, follow orders.  They spared the life of the Amalekite king (Agag), much livestock, and

all else that was of value.

Saul, complicit in this disobedience, blamed his soldiers.  The monarch refused to accept personal responsibility for his decision.  The spoils of war were supposed to be God alone.

I cannot reconcile that attitude with Jesus, the Prince of Peace.

 

Neither can I reconcile the two stories from different sources either.

There is a common theme, though.  Disobedience to God leads to dire consequences.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 15, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARY OF NAZARETH, MOTHER OF GOD

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Hesed, Part I   1 comment

Above:  Mephibosheth Before David

Image in the Public Domain

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The Collect:

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

2 Samuel 9:1-13a

Psalm 68:17-20

Revelation 19:1-10

Mark 8:1-10

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The reading from 2 Samuel 9 contains a wonderful Hebrew word, hesed, which can mean “faith” or “kindness.”  For example, in 9:1 we read,

David inquired, “Is there anyone still left in the House of Saul with whom I can keep faith for the sake of Jonathan?”

TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

The New Revised Standard Version (1989) uses the other translation:

David asked, “Is there anyone left of the House of Saul to whom I may show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”

Kindness is not always a simple matter.  Treating Mephibosheth, the self-described “dead dog” and crippled son of Jonathan with mercy and prestige is easy enough.   Furthermore, the miracle (the Feeding of the 4000) in Mark 8 is an example of extravagant and unambiguous kindness.  But what about the contents of the other readings?

Babylon (the Roman Empire) has fallen in Revelation 18.  The regime based on violence, oppression, and economic exploitation is no more.  Those who benefited from relationships to the empire mourn its passing.  We read of rejoicing in Heaven in Revelation 19.  But what about the innocent victims of the fall of the empire?  Might they also mourn the passing of the empire?

In Psalm 68 (a liturgy for a festival celebration in the Temple), taken in full, we read of God’s judgment and mercy.  Yes, divine hesed is present, but so is God crushing the heads of his enemies (verse 21).  As I have written repeatedly, good news for the oppressed is frequently catastrophic news for the unrepentant oppressors.  Perhaps the enemies whose heads God crushes were harming the widows and orphans mentioned in verse 5.

There is more than enough divine hesed to go around, but each of us has the individual responsibility to practice hesed toward each other also.  Furthermore, we have the collective responsibility to practice hesed institutionally, including as nation-states.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 14, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT METHODIUS I OF CONSTANTINOPLE, PATRIARCH

THE FEAST OF DOROTHY FRANCES BLOMFIELD GURNEY, ENGLISH POET AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF HANS ADOLF BRORSON, DANISH LUTHERAN BISHOP, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

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Adapted from this post:

https://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2017/06/14/devotion-for-the-fifth-sunday-of-easter-ackerman/

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