DAVID MELECH YISRAEL 2Sam 5-7
DAVID MELECH YISRAEL 2 Samuel 5-7
CONTEXT: Hevron was the major city of Y’hudah, the seat of David’s early power. The northern tribes, dominated by Efrayim, will, following the death of Sh’lomoh, be called Yisrael. Our narrator seems to be using “Yisrael” to include both south and north. The monarch’s first order of business will be to establish a central capital. Y’rushalayim is ideally located, and is as yet part of no Israelite tribe. Next, fix this city as cultic capital by bringing up the portable ark and perhaps building a temple.
GLOSSARY: 5:3 Brit, בְּרִית, frequently translated: “covenant.” Mutual obligation, social contract, is possible between ruler and subjects but there is no mention here of conditions or obligations. “Bond” captures the sort of relationship here, similar to the use of the term elsewhere in Tanach to describe human dependence on deity.
“Cut,” karat, כרת, is the verb for forming a brit.
5:6 Indigenous Y’vusi (Jebusites) are mentioned as one of the nations that lived in the land prior to B’neyYisrael, e.g.Num 13:29. Their city is called Y’vus, and the people are said to have remained living with the Y’hudim long after the place became the capital city, Y’rushalayim (Josh 15:63).
5:8 Whoever… This is an oath like idiom that assumes an accompanying hand gesture, something like showing a thumbs up.
HEVRON 2 Samuel 5:1-5
1All the tribes of Yisra’el came to David at Hevron to say: “Behold, we are your flesh and bone. 2Yesterday and the day before, while Sha’ul was king over us, you were the one who led Yisra’el out [to battle] and back in. Yahh has said to you, ‘You shall shepherd my people, Yisra’el. You shall become ruler over Yisra’el.’”
3All the elders of Yisra’el came to the king [of Y’hudah] at Hevron. The king cut a brit with them before Yahh. They, [the elders,] anointed David as king over Yisra’el.
4David was thirty years old when he became king. He reigned forty years: 5in Hevron over Y’hudah, seven years, six months, and in Y’rushalayim, thirty-three years over all Yisra’el (and Y’hudah.)
DAVID CONQUERS Y’RUSHALAYIM FOR HIS CAPITAL
CONTEXT: The fact that this story is so brief and tantalizing adds to the likelihood of its reflecting a historical event. Little art went into the narrative. Archaeology, by both excavations and documents, contributes data that help. The well known Gihon spring, low on the hill just south and east of the Jerusalem old town wall, had a shaft, partly natural and partly man made which led upward to the town. This shaft may be the צנור, tsinor, “tunnel/shaft” by which an attacker might stealthily enter the town. Tanach suggests that around 700 BCE King Hezekiah had the shaft as seen today built (2 Chronicles 32:30). But excavators think that rudiments of the access may have existed much earlier.
Blind and lame are featured in this story. Here is the way Josephus, a military commander, explains it:
Now the Jebusites, who were the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and were by extraction Canaanites, shut
their gates, and placed the blind, and the lame, and all their maimed persons, upon the wall, in way
of derision of the king, and said that the very lame themselves would hinder his entrance into it.
This they did out of contempt of his power, and as depending on the strength of their walls. David
was hereby enraged, and began the siege of Jerusalem, and employed his utmost diligence and
alacrity therein, as intending by the taking of this place to demonstrate his power, and to intimidate
all others that might be of the like [evil] disposition towards him. Antiquities, Bk 7, Ch 3)
In the 1950’s, Yigal Yadin, a Hebrew University archaeologist, found the following in a Hittite soldiers’ oath of commitment in:
They parade in front of them a [blind woman] and a deaf man and [you speak] as follows: “See!
Here is a blind woman and a deaf man. Whoever does evil to the king (and) the queen, let the
oaths seize him! Let them make him blind! Let them [ma]ke him [deaf]! Let them [blind] him
like a blind man! Let them [deafen] him like a deaf man! Let them [annihilate him], the man
(himself) together with his wife, [his children] (and) his kin. (Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to Old Testament, p 354)
Yadin’s explanation, widely accepted, is that the Jebusites set out their blind and lame in a similar gesture, as much as to say that any attackers would become blind and lame like these. This would also justify David’s hatred of the blind and the lame.
The saying, referred to in a gloss, about blind and lame not coming to the house is otherwise unknown in Tanach. The Septuagint renders “temple,” where priests with physical disabilities could not serve. (see Leviticus 21:17)
The Chronicles version of this story differs significantly. Rather than modify the 2 Samuel version with insertions that may or may not be primary, I offer both, in parallel columns and let the reader have the fun..
11Chiram, king of Tsor, sent messengers to David with cedar wood, wood workers, and masons, and they built a house for David. 12David knew that Yahh had confirmed him as king over Yisra’el and that his reign would be exalted for the sake of Yisra’el His people.
13After he had arrived from Hevron David took more concubines and women from Y’rushalayim and sons and daughters were born to him. 14The names of the Yerushalayim born: Shamua, Shovav. Natan, Sh’lomo, 15Yivchar, Elishua, Nefeg, Yafiya, 16Elishama, Elyada (a.k.a. Ba’alyada), and Elipelet.
17P’lishtim heard that they had anointed David to be king over Yisra’el. They all went up seeking David. David heard and went down to the citadel. 18P’lishitm arrived and spread into Emeq R’fa’im, [a valley to the southwest of Y’rushalayim.]
19David asked of Yahh: “Should I go up against P’lishtim? Will you give them into my hand?”
Yahh said: “Go up, for I will indeed give the P’lishtim into your hand.”
20David arrived at Ba’al P’ratsim, a nearby hill, and struck from there. He said; “Yahh has broken (parats) my enemies before me the way water breaks through.” That’s why he called the place Ba’al P’ratsim. 21The P’lishtim left there their idols and David and his men carried them off.
22P’lishtim again went up and spread in Emeq R’fa’im. 23David consulted Yahh, Who said: “Do not go up. Circle to their rear and approach them opposite the mulberry trees. 24When you hear the sound of their march in front of the mulberries, then be quick for then Yahh will go out before you to strike a P’lishti camp.” 25David did so, as Yahh had commanded him, and he struck the P’lishtim from Geva (a nearby hill) to the approach to Gezer.
DAVID AND THE ARK, TEMPLE? 2 Samuel 6-7:17; 1 Chronicles 13:1-4, 15:1-27
CONTEXT: The Chronicles version, probably dating from the 4th century BCE, opens with David consulting the leaders and later inserts a detailed description of the kohanim and L'viyim who, alone, were designated, from the perspective of the post exilic period, to touch and carry the Holy Ark. (Exodus 25:13, Numbers 10:17,21) Chronicles adds what the author thinks should have been the procedure. The account also precedes the Ark action with a list, in chapter 12, of tribal leaders who supported David in Hevron and then in Y’rusahalayim.
GEOGRAPHY: Ba’alah is another name for Kiryat Y’arim (Joshua 15:9; 1 Samuel 6:21). The site may earlier have been sacred to the god Ba’al. The Masoretic Hebrew seems to have confused the place name with the word for “the leaders,” as found in many translations.
GLOSSARY: Yahh Ts’vaot, frequently translated “Lord of Hosts,” refers to God’s might. Ts’va, צבא, is an armed force. “K’ruvim” כרובים, frequently transliterated “Cherubim,” refers to the angelic beings perched on the ark between whom Yahh sits during an encounter with the people. (Exodus 36:10-22)
Among the celebratory gifts David distributes to the people (1S 6:19) is eshpar, אשפר, a word of unknown meaning and etymology occurring only in this story. Traditional Jewish commentators thought it meant a meat cut. Others have suggested some sort of baked item. Robert Alter offers, “date cake.” My preference is a block of halva.
3They loaded the Ark of God onto a new cart and bore it from the house of Avinadav on the hill. Uzah and his brothers, Avinadav’s sons, led the new cart with the Ark of God, 4the brothers walking in front of the Ark. 5David and the whole house of Yisra’el were playing before Yahh with everything: cypress wood bones, lyres and harps, timbrels, shakers, and cymbals.
6When they arrived at a threshing floor belonging to Nachon, the oxen stumbled and Uzah put out his hand to the Ark of God and held it. 7Yahh’s nose burned with anger against Uzah. The god struck him there for the lapse. He died there, by the Ark of God.
8David was angry that Yahh had burst such an outburst against Uzah. To this day the place is called Perets (outburst of) Uzah.
9That day David feared Yahh, saying: “How can the Ark of Yahh come to me?” 10He did not wish to remove it to himself, to Davidtown. He diverted it to the house of OvedEdom of Gat.
11The Ark of Yahh stayed three months at the OvedEdom’s house and Yahh blessed OvedEdom and all his household. 12It was reported to David: “Yahh has blessed the house of OvedEdom and all of his on account of the Ark of God.”
16When the Ark reached Davidtown, Michal batSha’ul was looking out the window and saw the king, David, leaping and whirling before Yahh and she disdained him in her heart.
17They brought the Ark of Yahh and set it up in its place in the tent David had prepared. David then made burnt offerings before Yahh, and sh’lamim (“well being offerings”). 18When he finished the offerings he greeted the people in the name of Yahh Ts’va’ot. 19He then distributed to all, to all the roaring crowd, both men and women, a loaf of bread, a block of halva, and a cake of raisins.
20David returned to greet his house and Michal batSha’ul came out to meet him and said: “How honored today is the king of Yisrael, exposed to the eyes of his servants’ maids, the way any lowlife would expose himself.”
21“Before Yahh who chose me over your father and all his house,” said David to Michal, “to command me to be leader over the people of Yahh, of Yisrael. I played before Yahh! 22I’ll belittle myself more than that, till I’m truly low, but with the maids you mentioned, with them I’ll be honored.”
23Michal batSha’ul died childless.
2 Samuel 7
CONTEXT: Ascertaining God’s will was thought to be reserved for Kohanim, “priests,” who divined by lots (urim and tumim), and prophets who received and interpreted dreams or even “word of God” messages.(Numbers 27:21, Deuteronomy 18:9-22). Hebrew for prophet is navi, נביא, meaning “spokesman.” This story introduces Natan (Nathan) who seems to be a courtier and advisor.
1When the king dwelt in his house and Yahh had given him respite from his enemies on every side, 2the king addressed Natan the prophet: “Look here, I dwell in a house of cedars while god’s ark dwells in a curtain.”
3Said Natan to the king: “Whatever is on your mind, go do, for Yahh is with you.”
4That night the word of Yahh came to Natan: 5“Go say to My servant, to David, thus says Yahh, ‘Would you build Me a house for My dwelling? 6I have never dwelled in a house, from the time I brought the B’neyYisrael from Mitsrayim (Egypt) to this day. I have been going about in a tent, in a tabernacle. 7In all that going about with all B’neiYisrael, did I ever speak a word to one of the judges of Yisrael whom I ordered to shepherd My people: “Why haven’t you built me a house of cedars?”
8‘I took you from the meadow, from the flock to be leader over my people, over Yisrael. 9I have been with you wherever you have gone. I have cut off from you all your enemies. I have made for you a great name, as the greatest in the land. 10I have set a place for My people, for Yisrael. I have planted him and he is settled, in place, no more to tremble. No more will the unjust trouble him as earlier, 11since the days when I ordered judges over my people, Yisrael.
‘I have given you rest from all your enemies. Be it known to you that Yahh will establish a house for you. 12 When your days are done and you lie with your fathers, I will raise your seed after you, one from your loins, and I will firm his rule. 13He shall build a house for my name. And I will establish his throne of rule till eternity. 14I will be father to him and he shall be son to me. When he strays I will correct him with a man’s rod, with human bruises. 15But my love shall never turn from him the way I turned it away from the one who came before you. 16Your house and your rule shall be affirmed before me till eternity. Your throne established forever.’”
17With such words as these and with such a vision, so spoke Natan to David.
© Rabbi David L. Kline http://good-to-be-a-jew.blogspot.com/