Friday, April 8, 2011

2 Samuel 1-4 How the mighty have fallen

2 Samuel 1-4

Book two starts off just where book one ends.  Any reason for splitting them up?  Different authors?

David kills the messenger when he finds out that Saul and Jonathan are dead.

There is an interesting quote from David about the man that was trying to kill him for several years.
"Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their lives"

David then goes to Hebron and is crowned King of Judah.  Abner crowns Ishbosheth the king of all Israel.  This causes a civil war (and why is any war called "civil"?)

People get smote under the fifth rib, we get a bunch of begats from the seed of David and he is reunited with Michal.

Abner and David make peace but unfortunately, Joab learns about it too late and does some fifth rib smoting on Abner.

Finally, Rechab and Baanah learn that surprise gifts aren't always appreciated.
How would you react if someone handed you the head of Ishbosheth?

Reminds me of the ending of the movie Se7en.  Spoiler Alert and NSFW.
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  1. I think this is my first comment, although I've been following along pretty much since the beginning. I had gotten behind (again) and just caught up! Just FYI, I'm a non-believer (atheist/pantheist), despite having grown-up as a member of a small Southern Baptist church. I've been enjoying seeing all the things that were glossed over in Sunday School.

    This is slightly off-topic, since it isn't mentioned in today's reading, but... I've noticed in recent readings that an entity named "Belial" keeps coming up. Unless I've missed something (quite possible!), no commenter has asked who he is, so I will. Who/what is Belial? I did a little (very little) research on my own and supposedly he is a demon, or a prince of Hell. But since Hell has yet to be mentioned thus far in the Old Testament, that seems unlikely to me. Maybe another Canaanite deity? Anyone have any idea?

  2. 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel were originally one book (or scroll), but it was split up to make copying it by hand easier, so instead of one person doing one long scroll you could have two people doing two shorter scrolls. The Jewish bible to this day keeps Samuel as one book (as well as Kings and Chronicles, at least according to

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  4. Any reason for splitting them up? Different authors?

    The divisions within Samauel and Kings are completely arbitrary and due to the max length of ye olde scrolls.

    But there is grounds for considering them different authors: there is a ginormous contradiction.

    1st Sammy ch. 31 has Saul dying via his own hand.

    Saul: "Kill me."
    Armour-bearer: "No."
    Saul: "Then I'll do it myself"
    *Saul falls on his sword.*
    *Armour-bearer falls on his sword.*

    But the *next* chapter, 2nd Sammy ch. 1, an Amalekite comes across Saul, who has apparently stabbed himself but isn't dying fast enough:

    Saul: "Finish me off."
    Amalekite: "Okay."
    *Amalekite kills Saul.*

    Obviously this only SEEMS like a contradiction, because here is how the two accounts can be harmonized.

    Saul is shot by archers, knows he's going to die. He asks his armour-bearer to dispatch him. The armour-bearer refuses. So Saul falls upon his own sword. The armour-bearer follows suit.
    But only the armour-bearer dies; Saul is inept at everything, even suicide.

    Then, as the chariots close in around him, an Amalekite walks up to Saul, and Saul is like "I'm really bad at this seppuku thing, can you finish me off?" So the Amalekite does, and takes his crown and armlet.

    See, it's easy. No contradiction! The Bible is 100% truth!

  5. As far as I can tell, Belial (בליעל) is simply a Hebrew word meaning "scoundrel". I don't know why it's not translated in the KJV.

    Here is 1st Sammy 25:25 in various translations:

    KJV: Let not my lord, I pray thee, regard this man of Belial, [even] Nabal: for as his name [is], so [is] he; Nabal [is] his name, and folly [is] with him: but I thine handmaid saw not the young men of my lord, whom thou didst send.

    NKJV: "Please, let not my lord regard this scoundrel Nabal. For as his name is, so is he: Nabal* is his name, and folly is with him! But I, your maidservant, did not see the young men of my lord whom you sent.

    NIV: May my lord pay no attention to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name—his name is Fool, and folly goes with him. But as for me, your servant, I did not see the men my master sent.

    I would settle this as a bad reading of the KJV if not for this: Belial is mentioned once in the NT, in 2nd Corinthians:

    2C 6:15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?

    Neither the Septuagint or Vulgate use "Belial". But apparently he's a character in the Book of Jubilees (a late non-canonical Jewish writing) and a Dead Sea Scroll document, and various apocryphal works.

    Seems in the late Jewish period, roughly after 2nd century BCE, Belial became personified, and this tradition continued into the Christian era. How it started, I don't know.

  6. Abbie you should consider a career in apologia ;)

  7. @Abbie,

    I would expect you to be able to spot a lie when you see one, i guess i was wrong. I am referring to your explanation of 1 Samuel 31 and 2 Samuel 1. Let me try to explain. When the Amalekite said he killed Saul, he was lying(2 Samuel 1:10). Why did he lie? Because Saul was perceived as being the enemy of David, so this young man thought he was bringing good tidings to David and would get a reward (2 Samuel 4:10).

    It's interesting this reading section included enough to deduce that the man was lying, yet you missed it.

    And don't consider a career in apologia, just stick with commenting here for now. ;-p

  8. frig, I like that explanation better. (No, really!) I guess it could be dramatic irony: the amalekite thinks he's going to get a reward, but instead gets killed.

    This is pretty much exactly what happens when Banaah and Rechab kill Ishboseth, and then are killed by David when they bring him the head as a reward.

    But David doesn't kill Joab after Joab kills Abner... (Abner was on Team Saul but changed allegiance to David; Joab was Team David, but was avenging his brother's death.)

    Something about the house of Saul still being holy, despite Saul being a total dick? But why does Joab get off for killing? Did he not ask for a reward?

    So confusing.

  9. Killing Joab is delayed (see 1 King 2). Within the context of the story, Joab is too powerful, one of David's chief henchman. According to Chronicles, Joab was also David's nephew (son of his sister, Zeruiah, 1 Chronicles 2).

  10. @Abbie,

    Joab gets his. I Kings 2:5-6 David tells Solomon to deal with Joab because he shed the blood of war in peace. In 2:28-34 records Joab being slain because of his sin.

    It seems here that David was now conscious to himself that he had not done well to spare him, when he had made himself once again obnoxious to the law, but the murder of Abner first and afterwards of Amasa, both of them great men, captains of the hosts of Israel. Though he has been long reprieved, he shall be reckoned with at last; time does not wear out the guilt of any sin, particularly that of murder.

    I borrowed heavily from MHC for the above.

  11. I should point out that the killing of Abner was legal according to OT law since Joab was avenging the death of his younger brother and Abner was not in a city of refuge.

  12. @Erp,

    You are wrong. It was not legal for Joab to kill Abner. Joab's brother was killed during war (2 Samuel 3:30), not during times of peace. The law given about the revenger of blood and the cities of refuge were not for war, but for the killer doing it by accident(Numbers 35:25-32) in times of peace. If he did it during times of peace and had enmity with Asahel then Joab had all rights to revenge his brothers blood. David said Joab shed the blood of war in peace (I Kings 2:5-6).

  13. Would you care to cite where in the Torah there was an exception for deaths during a civil war (Jew against Jew).

    Note I don't think Joab should have killed Abner, but, then I don't think a revenger of blood should be killing someone who by accident killed a relative (I wonder how many were killed before they reached a city of refuge).

  14. @Erp,

    What is the difference between war against other nations and a civil war in regards to this law? All i can say is that this law was for the children of Israel, and for the stranger, and for the sojourner among them. (Numbers 35:15)
    What i am pointing out is that the law you are trying to use was for a time of peace not war, civil or not. I am aware of no rules given for the revenge of blood during war. I have read over Numbers 35:9-34 and i did not see any mention of war. I read this in context and it is only addressing the times of peace. It would make no sense if it was for war as well, seeing that the killed decided to engage as a combatant, and was killed, the person that did the killing was defending their own life. And in this story Asahel was requested to turn away was he not (2 Samuel 2:19-23)?

    As for killing by accident. The person was to be brought up and judged (Numbers 35:24,25). If the revenger did kill in hatred or enmity he was to be executed himself. (Numbers 35:20,21) I guess that would keep someone from flying off the handle and going out to revenge the death of a relative.

    What i have read is that we don't have an account of anyone using these cites. Maybe we will find some nugget while we read over the text again. Granted i doubt i will find something those before me missed. :-D