Archive for the ‘Nahash the Ammonite’ Tag

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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Samuel’s Farewell Address   Leave a comment

Above: Icon of Samuel

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 XI

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1 Samuel 12:1-25

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I will exalt you, O God my King,

and bless your Name for ever and ever.

–Psalm 145:1, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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The cutting and pasting of sources to create a composite narrative made some chronological inconsistencies.  Consider 1 Samuel 12:12, for example, O reader.

But when you saw that Nahash, king of the Ammonites, was advancing against you, you said to me, “No, we must have a king reigning over us”–though the LORD your God is your King.

TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

People demanded a king in Chapter 8.  Nahash the Ammonite advanced against Jabesh-Gilead in Chapter 11.

If I were a Biblical literalist, this chronological inconsistency would bother me.  I would feel compelled to reconcile the chronologies.  I am not a Biblical literalist, though.

The theological meat in 1 Samuel 12 is that (1) the call for a monarchy constitutes a rejection of God, and (2) if the people and their king obey God, the future will go well.  Keep in mind, O reader, that this series of blog posts covers texts informed by hindsight.  We humans think, speak, and write of the past through the lens of our present day.  We may preserve the accuracy of the account, but we are not disoriented, objective historians.  No, the lens is the present day, with its issues and our agendas.  Therefore, 1 Samuel 12:14-15 and 12:23-25, in retrospect, constitute heartbreaking prophecy.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 15, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARY OF NAZARETH, MOTHER OF GOD

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The Accession of King Saul   Leave a comment

Above: The Coronation of 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 X

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1 Samuel 11:1-15

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He shall defend the needy among the people,

he shall rescue the poor and crush the oppressor.

–Psalm 72:4, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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Saul, chosen to become the King of Israel, was not yet the monarch.  He was still working in the field at the beginning of Chapter 11.  Saul rose to the occasion and led forces into victory against those of the cruel Nahash the Ammonite.

The mention of Jabesh-Gilead, east of the River Jordan, constitutes a call-back to Judges 21:8-12.  In that passage, set after a civil war against the tribe of Benjamin, victorious tribes sacked Jabesh-Gilead  to find wives for Benjaminite men.  Judges 21:25 reads,

In those days, there was no king in Israel; all the people did what was right in their eyes.

The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

In narrative context, then, the deliverance of the inhabitants of Jabesh-Gilead affirmed the necessity of the monarchy.

Saul’s behavior in 1 Samuel 9-11 indicated that he did not want to become the King of Israel.  The family farm seemed to be his preference.  After the anointing, Saul returned home and told nobody about the anointing.  He hid in the baggage at the assembly.  After the assembly, he was still a farmer.

Reading the stories of the beginning of Saul’s reign may create a sense of sadness.  Knowing the rest of the story places the beginning of the tale in context.  One can imagine what Saul may have become if he had made different choices or had never had to pursue runaway donkeys on a certain day.  There is also a cautionary tale about the allure of power and the fragility of some psyches.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 14, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM CROFT, ANGLICAN ORGANIST AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF JOHN BAJUS, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN HENRY HOPKINS, JR., EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND HYMNODIST; AND HIS NEPHEW, JOHN HENRY HOPKINS, III, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND MUSICIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT MAXIMILIAN KOLBE, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1941; AND JONATHAN MYRICK DANIELS, EPISCOPAL SEMINARIAN AND MARTYR, 1965

THE FEAST OF SARAH FLOWER ADAMS, ENGLISH UNITARIAN HYMN WRITER; AND HER SISTER, ELIZA FLOWER, ENGLISH UNITARIAN COMPOSER

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