Tuesday, July 29, 2014

2 Samuel: a Book Report

The following is from a work-in-progress called "The Bible: a Book Report" in which I read each book of the Bible, and then summarize it in my own words.  I will also include biblical artwork by famous artists.

When David learned of Saul’s death, he wept bitterly and wrote a dirge (a song written on the occasion of someone’s death).  Then David became king over the tribe of Judah.  Israel was divided, however, because Saul’s son Ish-bosheth was king over the northern tribes.  There was a Civil War in Israel, between the northern forces of Ish-bosheth and the southern forces of David.  

The war dragged on, and many Israelites died.  Eventually, David began to gain the upper hand.  Abner, the commander of the northern forces, decided to join David.  However, this truce was short lived because Joab, the commander of David’s forces, murdered Abner, as vengeance for killing his son.  David then mourned the death of his former enemy.

When word reached Ish-bosheth’s men than their commander had been killed, they realized they were going to be defeated, so they conspired against their king, and murdered Ish-bosheth.  The two murderers brought Ish-bosheth’s head to king David, expecting some kind of reward.  Instead, David was repulsed, and had the two murderers killed.

Then the elders of all the tribes got together, and decided to make David king over all of Israel.  David captured the city of Jerusalem, and made it the center of his kingdom.  Now that he was king, David took lots of wives and concubines, and had many many children.  He was a sex machine.

"David" by Michelangelo Buonarroti (1504)

As King, David had many military successes against the neighbors of Israel.  He defeated their perennial enemy the Philistines again, as well as the Moabites and others.  David had the ark of the covenant brought to Jerusalem, and he was so excited about this that he started dancing.  David’s wife Michal thought David had made a fool of himself, and told David how she felt.  In response, God made Michal childless.

With his kingdom established, and the ark in Jerusalem, David began making plans to build a permanent temple.  God made a covenant with King David, saying, “Your house and your kingdom shall endure before me forever.”  This was a variation on the covenants God had made to Abraham and Moses.  David was happy.

But his happiness was short-lived.  Once, when the Israelite forces were off fighting, David looked down form the roof of his palace and saw a beautiful woman bathing, and was very attracted to her.  He had her brought to his palace and, even though she was already married to a guy named Uriah, he had sex with her and she became pregnant.  David then stealthily had Uriah killed, and married Bathsheba, the woman.  

"David and Bathsheba" by Bernardino Mei (17th Century)

God thought this was evil, and he punished David by killing Bathsheba’s baby.  That’s right.  God killed a baby.  But then Bathsheba had another son named Solomon, who would eventually become David’s heir, and a great king.

After the Bathsheba incident, things began to get really weird and fucked up for David’s Kingdom.  One of David’s sons named Ammon had the hots for his sister Tamar, and he raped her.  This pissed off Tamar’s brother Absolom, who killed Ammon, and then fled.  Then, as if things weren’t bad enough, Absolom began conspiring against David, and began planning a coup d’etat.  When David heard about this, he fled, and Absolom and his men took control of Jerusalem.  Absolom had sex with David’s concubines.

Then there was another civil war, between the forces of Absolom and the forces of David.  There was a great battle, which David’s forces won.  Absolom was slain in the battle.  When David heard that his son was slain, he grieved deeply, saying, “O my son Absolom, my son, my son Absolom!  Would I had died instead of you, O Absolom, my son!”  One unique quality of David was his ability to have compassion upon those who were his enemies.

"David Mourns Absolom" by Marc Chagall

David re-gained control of Israel, but the land was traumatized by inner turmoil.  Another rebellion rose up, led by a man named Sheba, but this was put down by Joab, David’s general.

Then there was a famine in Israel for three years.  David asked God, “Why the famine?”  And God said it was because, back when Saul was king, he had unjustly killed a bunch of Gibeonites.  So David sent the Gibeonites seven of Saul’s sons to be hanged.   This human sacrifice satisfied God, and the famine ended.

After winning more battles against the Philistines, David wrote a couple songs about his deliverance.  David was fond of song-writing.  Near the end of his life, David decided to take a census of Israel.  For some reason, this made God so mad that he sent a plague on Israel.  The book ends with David building an altar, and God taking away the plague.

Stay tuned for more familial drama, war, and sex with 1 Kings: a Book Report...

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