Wednesday, December 23, 2009

What's In The Book: II Samuel

The Second Book of Samuel chronicles the reign of King David.

After the death of King Saul, Ish-boshet, Saul’s only surviving son, declared himself king. The Tribe of Judah seceded from the kingdom and declared David their king. After a short civil war, the crown of Israel went to David, who eventually established Jerusalem as the capital of his kingdom.

The kingdom of Israel was not yet viewed as an independent power, and so David, like his predecessor, spent much of his reign at war with varying neighbors. The Israelites made many of their enemies into their vassals.

One of the most famous (and complicated) stories from the Book of II Samuel is that of David and Bathsheba. David fell in love with Batsheba when he noticed her from his rooftop. Her husband, who was at war, was eventually killed after David ordered him placed in the most dangerous battle zone. David and Bathsheba married, but their first son died. Solomon was a later son of David and Bathsheba.

David’s family life takes up a large part of the narrative. He had eight wives (Michal, Ahinoam, Abigail, Maachah, Haggith, Abital, Eglah, and Bathsheba - each with her own story). The sons named in the Tanach are: Amnon, Daniel, Absalom, Adonijah, Shephatiah, Ithream, Shimea, Shobab, Nathan, Solomon, Ibhar, Elishama, Elishua, Eliphelet, Nogah, Nepheg, Japhia, and Eliada. He had other children who were born to concubines, as well. Only one daughter, Tamar, is named.

David had troubles with his older sons: Amnon raped his half-sister, Tamar, and was slain by her brother Absalom. Absalom and Adonijah each led a rebellion against their father.

David reigned over Israel for 40 years, during which time the kingdom was unified and its territory expanded.

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