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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Reviews by Hubie Goode: The Life and Times of King David part 4

The procession of a King's Death
The Life and Times of
King David

part 4

Saul had created the first standing army in Israel’s history. David then took it and expanded it. The cream of the armed forces were known as the “thirty”. These were the men who had fought by David’s side in his outlaw days. They formed his honorary army council and served as sort of the “congress” of the army. Under Joab they commanded the two separate branches of David’s regular military army. One branch was recruited from the Sea people, Cretans and Aegeans, among others. The second branch was formed entirely from the assimilated Philistines.

Bodyguards for the King and the palace were formed from the men of Gath, or Gittites. These were men who also ran with David during the exile.

The army had some 2,000 well trained regulars,  and there were also territorial contingents who could be called upon as were needed. These men came from the Israelite tribes and came in groups of 10, 50, 100 and 1,000 each and were lead by their own commanders.

The tools of defense were swords, javelins and spears. Armor was a helmet, a breast plate, leg guards and a leather covered wooden shield. Territorial accompaniments had to buy their own equipment. One of which, the two edged sword, was a tool of the wealthy. The rest used Ox goads, rough lances, wooden bows and arrows. Also included: bludgeons, axes and the sling.

With such a force at hand, and the elimination of the Philistine threat, David moved east toward the Jordan river. He launched wars of expansion  which took advantage of the crumbling Babylonian empire. The Hittites were no longer a power in the Near East, and the Hurrians had been destroyed by the Hittites and Assyrians. The Assyrians themselves at this time were not in a position for further military aggression. Internal strife in the Egyptian administration had weakened them  to the point that David would have to be ignored no matter whose toes he stepped on. David’s intel had notified him of all of these advantages  for a free hand in the area and he took swift action to capitalize on the situation.

David’s forces rolled in he area. He defeated one after another, the peoples who were living there: the Ammonites, the Edomites, the Moabites, and then he took out the last of the Amelikites. The latter, for those who do not know, are considered the remaining vestige of the Nephilhelm, those mixed of human and demon descent.

He stretched his kingdom south from Edom, rich in copper mines, to the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea. This gave Israel a potential port. Eventually, Solomon would trade from there with Arabia and Africa. When David conquered the Arameans of eastern Syria, he gained control of all trade routes to the Euphrates river.

David took part in may of those campaigns, but usually it was the brilliant commander Joab who lead the troops while David stayed at the capital. On one such an occasion, when he should have been out leading the troops in battle, David allowed his idleness to get the best of him and create gateway for other problems. Above the city, on his palace roof, he looked down and saw Bathsheba bathing.
Bathsheba enticingly bathed in the open, but for most women
of her day, this was done indoors. Unscented oil was used like cold
cream to remove dirt, then scented oil would follow.

She was the wife of a Hittite soldier named Uriah. At the time he was with Joab battling the Ammonites. David, feeling that he was King after all, sent for Bathsheba and they tripped the light fantastic. She did, however, become pregnant by the king.

David immediately called Uriah home to his wife, no doubt believing that the lines between his child and Uriah’s child needed to be blurred as soon as possible for the up and coming date.  Uriah, however, refused to return home. Instead he slept with his buddies at the door of the King’s house. A soldier in battle, kept himself sacramentally clean, and this meant no slap and tickle during war time. David then had to resort to legal murder in order to cover up the impending results of his dalliance. This meant legal murder.  David had Joab send Uriah up front in the upcoming battle and then pull back behind him in order that he may be killed in action.
A clay figurine of the period

Uriah was of course killed, and Bathsheba went into mourning. When the time was over, David married her, and soon after she gave birth to a son. But the Lord was displeased with David’s soap opera movements, and he sent Nathan the prophet, to David.

The story was now well known throughout the country and Nathan addressed the King and said, “ Thus says the God of Israel, I anointed you King over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul; and I gave you your master’s house... and also that of Israel and Judah... and if this were too little I would add to you much more. Why have you done evil in the Lord’s sight?”

David accepted his guilt and confessed to his sin against God. He probably expected Nathan to pronounce a death sentence, but Nathan assured him that he was not to die. However, the child to be born would indeed die, and Nathan left him with that.

The child lay ill for six days and David did all he could to entreat the Lord to change his mind about the fate of the boy. But on the seventh day, the child did die. David, revealing the thoughts of those at the time as to what happens when we die, stated that it was he who would go to the child but the child would never return to him.  Thus David had to live with the results of caving in to his own lust, as a fine officer and his own son, met their ends at his own hands. Bathsehba, however, would be the one to bear his future son, the future King Solomon.

Israel had become rich and secure under David, but as time passed he had become less and less of a favored celebrity. Fat with prosperity, and military superiority, the Israelites resented the taxes they had to pay, and the conscription of troops.  David’s third born son, Absalom, took full advantage of the disgruntled populace.

David’s daughter, Tamar, had been raped by Amnon, David’s oldest son, and Absalom had him killed for it two years later. This was, however, a political move more than an act of vengeance, as Absalom had now been placed in the position  of heir apparent. Tamar, never recovered.

Absalom then ran from what he knew would be David’s anger toward him. With the help of Joab, he managed a reconciliation with David a few years later. Unsatisfied, he then began to plot a rebellion among the people, hoping to gain David’s kingdom.

Absalom started politicking in the public squares and speaking out against his father’s negligence as a judge and telling the people what they wanted to hear from their leadership. He showed off before them with pomp and circumstance  and turned many toward him as they became sold on his campaign.

For four years he campaigned against David while showing himself to be both proud and humble to the populace. Then suddenly he left for Hebron, with 200 of his followers. He told his people, “As soon as you hear the trumpet say: Absalom is King at Hebron!”

The time for open rebellion had come.

.. and ever since David’s dalliance with Bathsheba, strife had never left his home.

more on this next time.    


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