Monday, May 24, 2010

2 Samuel, Chapters 4-6

Chapter 4

Problems at the royal court: on hearing of Abner's death, Ishbosheth develops tremors in his hands. His guards flee. Jonathan's son is lamed at 5 years old when he falls whilst fleeing.

One day, Ishbosheth lays down for a nap. Two men sneak in and stab him and cut off his head, which they run off with and present to David. Far from receiving rewards and virgins, David reminds them what happened to the last man who confessed to killing a king, the Amalekite. He proclaims Ishbosheth innocent and has them killed rather gruesomely: hands and feet cut off and hung over a pond. Ishbosheth's head is buried in a royal tomb.

Chapter 5

David is crowned king in Hebron, at age 30. His reign will continue another 40 years. Not satisfied, he leads an army to Jerusalem, currently occupied by the Jebushites. They pretend they aren't scared, saying Except thou take away the blind and the lame, thou shalt not come in hither: thinking, David cannot come in hither. (v. 6). David nevertheless conquers the city and promises anyone that can get in by the gutters will be his captain. Jerusalem is now called 'The City of David.'

The king of Tyre sends some cedars to David for a house. It must have smelled awesome. He takes even more wives, none of whom are named, who produce eleven more sons.

The Philistines aren't as friendly as the Tyreans and they come and camp in a valley nearby. David, unable to make the simplest of decisions for himself, asks god if he should attack them. God says yes, he'll help kill them. So he does, making sure to destroy their idols as well.

They come back, of course, because they always do. This time David is instructed to encircle them and to drive them towards a mulberry grove. When he hears trumpets in the trees, that's the signal that god is coming along to finish them off. He smites the Philistines yet again.

Chapter 6

David gathers an army of 30 000, which is somewhat less than the 600 000 men of fighting capability listed in numbers, but still on par with the modern-day Finnish army. He orders the ark brought to Jerusalem. It has been in the house of Abinadab, and his sons, Uzzah and Ahio bring it up in their new ox cart. As they get to someone's threshing floor, the oxen jostle the cart and Uzzah puts his hand out to steady the ark. Bad move: god smites him right there. I wonder what the punishment would have been for letting it fall? I'm thinking smiting. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

David is angry and afraid. He asks god how he should carry it, and duh, he said only the sons of Kohath should carry it, but that isn't delineated here. Instead, it is taken to the home of Obededom, where it stays for three months, after which David retrieves it again. Before the new bearers go six paces, David's sacrificing oxen.

David also dances, possibly naked, which his wife Michal sees. As he leads the proceedings into the temple and sacrifices and barbecues and all, she rebukes him for showing his naughty bits to the servant girls. David says it was before god, so he's fine. Micah is punished with infertility.

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