There was other strong pressure to change the government of Israel to a kingship besides the threat of Israel's neighbors, especially the Philistines, whose victories had resulted in the destruction of the central sanctuary at Shiloh and the disintegration of the amphictyonic organization. Although Samuel, as a Judge and a prophet, had signally distinguished himself, he was now old, and his sons displayed none of his honesty nor competency (1 Sam. 8:1-9). Accordingly, the elders of Israel came to the aging prophet-judge and demanded that a visible king be appointed over them, so that they might be like the well-organized nations surrounding them and that they might have a leader who could conduct them to victory over their pressing foes.
Although the ultimate organization of the Hebrew kingdom with an earthly monarch as the representative of Yahweh had long been envisioned prophetically and in the divine foreknowledge (Gen. 17:6, 16; and 35:11 and Deuteronomy 17:14-20), yet this people were not guiltless in demanding a king at this crisis. The spirit in which they did so was plainly irreligious. They lacked abiding faith in God, without which the rule of Yahweh as a theocratic king was impossible. Under the circumstances, their action in asking for a human ruler was tantamount to turning away from faith in the invisible God to confidence in a visible leader. The moral problem connected with what they did is consequently not to be explained as the result of divergent and contradictory sources indicative of the composite character of 1 Samuel, each source giving a "diametrically opposed attitude to the monarchy." Any divine approval or permission of their choice of a king was a mere accommodation to human weakness and sin.
The Early Fortunes of the Kingdom
Saul the Benjaminite (c. 1020- c. 1000 BC) was chosen as Israel's first ruler. As king he was unable to advance beyond a loose political confederacy, mainly because of his innate weakness of character, and he left an unfinished task to be completed by his brilliantly successful successor, David.
Saul's Early Exploits
Saul's initial victory at Jabesh Gilead over the Ammonites (1 Samuel 11:1-14) was of great importance in establishing him in the minds of the people as God's chosen leader, as one "capable of taking up the mantle of the old Judges, one inspired of the Spirit, who could fight and win battles for Israel."
Saul not only pushed back the Ammonites in Transjordan, but by his victories over the Philistines, notably as a follow-up of Jonathan's brilliant rout of the Philistine garrison at Michmash (1 Samuel 14:1-46), he also broke the Philistine monopoly on iron. The Philistines did their best to see that the Israelites did not learn how to forge this new metal. "Now there was no smith to be found throughout all the land of Israel; for the Philistines said, 'lest the Hebrews make themselves swords or spears,' but every one of the Israelites went down to the Philistines to sharpen his plowshare, his mattock, his ax, or his sickle." (1 Samuel 13:19-20).
In the eleventh century BC iron was just coming into general use in Palestine, as excavations have shown, and the iron monopoly was not only an incalculable help to Philistine superiority in arms, but a valuable commercial consideration as well, as the Hittites, who seemed to have started the monopoly, discovered two centuries earlier. The fact that the Israelites had to go to Philistia to have iron tools made or repaired was inconvenient enough, but it was even more expensive. The charge for sharpening is said to have been "a pim for the plowshares and for the mattocks, and a third of a shekel for sharpening the ax and for setting the goads." (1 Samuel 19:21). The weight in question, "a pim" (Hebrew pym) had been completely forgotten even in antiquity, but pre-exilic Jewish weights were inscribed "p-y-m", i.e., "two thirds of a shekel". It is needless to say that two-thirds of a shekel of silver was a pretty stiff price to pay for a single plow tip not over eight or ten inches long.
Throughout the period of the Judges the Israelites remained comparatively poor because of a lack of iron for farming implements, nails, and weapons of war. They were unable to drive the Canaanites out of the plains because the latter had chariots of iron (Joshua 17:18, Judges 1:19 and 4:2-3) and certainly weapons of iron. Excavations have shown that the Philistines possessed iron weapons and jewelry, while the Israelites apparently did not. Even as late as the time of Saul it is emphasized that "on the day of battle there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people with Saul and Jonathan; but Saul and Jonathan his son had them." (1 Samuel 13:22)
When Saul and David broke the power of the Philistines, the iron-smelting formula became public property, and the metal was popularized in Israel. The result was an economic revolution, making possible a higher standard of living. The struggle against the Philistines was, accordingly, a war of survival, justly celebrated in song and story.
Saul's Fortress at Gibeah
Of particular interest is Saul's home town, Gibeah of Benjamin, which figures prominently in the narratives of his reign in 1 Samuel. It is located in the hill country about four miles north of Jerusalem and about two miles south of Ramah. The present site is called Tel el-Ful, which long ago was identified with Saul's city by Edward Robinson (an early explorer in the Holy Land); it was subsequently excavated by W.F. Albright in 1922 and 1933.
At the bottom of the mound Albright found the first fortress of Gibea, which showed traces of destruction by fire, so Albright identified it with the destruction mentioned in Judges 20:40. Just above this fortress were the remains of a second, the most elaborate structure discovered in the mound. Its outer wall was about six feet thick and was defended by a sloping base. It was furnished with two stories and contained a massive stone staircase. Albright identified this with Saul's stronghold. The structure, measuring 170 by 155 feet, with its casemated walls and separated by fonded corner towers, illustrates the construction of this period.
On top of Saul's structure was a third and somewhat smaller fortress, chracterized by a series of stone piers. These piers connect it with the time of the Monarchy. Some connect it with the building activity of King Asa at Geba of Benjamine (1 Kings 15:22). But in the light of Isaiah 10:29, Geba and Gibeah of Saul are not identical.
At any rate, this citidel suffered destruction by fire, perhaps in the Syro-Ephraimite War (cf. Isaiah 7). After a further lapse of time, another fortress was built on the ruins of all these, which is dated by pottery to the Macabbean period.
The Rustic Nature of Saul's Reign
Saul's kingdom was primitive by the later standards of David and especially Solomon. The principle building at Gibeah, from Saul's era, with massive stone construction and eep walls, "was like a dungeon rather than a royal residence, in comparison with the Canaanite masonry with whch Solomon later graced Jerusalem." Saul's general cultural background is similarly evaluated by Albright: "...Saul was only a rustic chieftain, as far as architecture and the amenities of life were concerned."
Moreover, what was true of Saul was in a general way culturally true of all the Israelite tribes throughout the period of the Judges and up to the efflorescende of industry and the arts and sciences in the prosperous Davidic-Solomonic era. Israelite poverty and rusticity of life in the pre-monarchic period are fully demonstrated by the excavations.
Saul's Failure as King
William A. Irwin aptly characterizes King Saul as "of the independent spirit that would not be servile to any priest-prophet however revered." This disposition, however, was diametrically opposed to the Near Eastern concept of the king as the representative of the national diety (in Israel's case, of Yahweh, the onle and only true God).
Saul's Self Will
As a leader, it was Saul's first concern to ascertain the will of Yahweh through the ordained means of his honored prophet, Samuel, and, having clearly apprehended it, to execute it fully. This is precisely what Saul failed to do and thereby demonstrated clearly his unfitness to be God's representative.
The king's first example of self-will was his intrusion into the priest's office. Severely pressed by the Philistines, restive under Samuel's delay to meet him at Gilgal, and threatened by the desertion of a great number of his followers, Saul committed a very grave offense in offering a burnt offering, which only a priest might do, according to the Law of God. This act of disobedience was the first step in his rejection as the founder of a dynasty (1 Samuel 13:13-14).
Later, after Saul's victory over the Philistines, which was occasioned by Jonathan's signal valor at Michmash (1 Samuel 13:15-14:46), Samuel directed Saul to wage a war of extermination against the Amalekites. Saul undertook the war, but failed to exterminate the enemy. For this second act of disobedience, by which he fu;rther proved he could not be strusted to act as God's instrument, but was dominated by his own will in God's kingdom, he was emphatically rejected from being king (1 Samuel 15:1-35), and Samuel was sent to Bethlehem to annoint David (1 Samuel 16:1-13).
It is best to see these two events as coterminous with Saul's rejection as king, with his rejection the result of these two acts of disobedience, not just one or the other.
Structure of 1 Samuel
I. Establishing the Problem
The documentary hypothesis and much of modern higher critical theories derive from the inherent complexity and odd structuring of the Hebrew narrative as found in the Bible. Evangelicals will generally reject these higher critical techniques in favor of a more traditional understanding of the text, but in so doing, evangelicals often do not effectively confront and explain the complexities that created the critical reactions in the first place. The creative failure results from western myopia when it comes to the text. Inevitably the Bible is seen through the eyes of western civilization; certain presuppositions are so obviously and inherently correct to a westerner that his bias is invisible to him. Westerners expect texts and documents to follow a chronological arrangement, especially when the document in question is a narrative telling a story. Because of this expectation, not only is it possible to misunderstand the Bible, but such questionable ideas as the documentary hypothesis are easily postulated as the recalcitrant text is forced into an alien and ill-fitting garment. McCarter points out the problem in relation to 1 Samuel:
The narratives about Samuel, Saul, and David that make up our book have a heterogeneous appearance even to the untrained eye. Numerous internal thematic tensions, duplications, and contradictions stand in the way of a straightforward reading of the story. The figure of Samuel dominates the first three chapters, then vanishes suddenly and completely in cc 4-6, only to return again in c 7. In c 8 kingship is depicted as wholly offensive to Yahweh, while in cc 9-10 the first king is anointed at Yahweh's command. Saul becomes king by lottery in 10:17-27 but, apparently, by popular proclamation in c 11. He seems to be rejected by Yahweh not once but twice (in cc 16 and 17). There are two accounts of David's betrothal to a daughter of Saul (c 18), two of his defection to the Philistine king of Gath (cc 21 and 27), and two of his refusal to take Saul's life (cc 24 and 26).
The pioneering scholars of the early nineteenth century (Eichhorn, Thenius), aware of these inconsistencies and mindful of the successes of parallel source theories in dealing with similar problems in other books of the Bible, posited the existence of discrete strands within the Samuel narratives.
G. Herbert Livingston in his book, The Pentateuch in its Cultural Environment, makes an interesting and valid observation:
Many form critics have castigated scholars for looking at and interpreting the OT from the standpoint of Western thought patterns and customs. Yet the names give to the Pentateuchal literary types and the criteria for isolating and labeling these types are Western to the core. The observation that names for type do not often occur in the Pentateuch does not justify this procedure. Efforts must be made to devise labels that accord with and arise out of the biblical materials themselves.
There is a delightful consistency in the nature of the critical problems throughout the Bible; rather than explaining the difficulties as the result of conflicting sources, or by simply ignoring them, perhaps they should instead be recognized as an inherent characteristic of Hebrew narrative; it seems an obvious solution. The problems so well recognized by the critics, if one thinks of it, are remarkably similar to what is taken for granted as normal in Hebrew poetry: for instance, the parallelism, which, by its nature, is repetitious. So, perhaps in narrative something of this method of structuring thought can be recognized.
II. Summary of the Solution
What will be demonstrated, therefore, is that chronology is not the overriding structural principle in Hebrew writing (and this would include the New Testament as well, because, though written in Greek, it was not primarily composed by Greeks). Rather, chronology is subsumed by more important principles, at least in Hebrew thought: namely, theme and content.
While chronology is not lacking, it is not the only, most important or overriding sequencer of the material. Rather, other things can become more important, thereby skewing the chronology in unexpected ways. Perhaps this is not so surprising. After all, the very nature of the Hebrew verbal system is suggestive of the possibility; instead of tense, Hebrew has aspects which describe action in terms of completion or incompletion, rather than in terms of past, present and future. This outlook cannot have avoided having an impact on narrative techniques. Yet, in the teaching of the language, the true nature of the aspect system in Hebrew is commonly obscured. For instance, Menahem Mansoor, in his book Biblical Hebrew Step by Step, states:
Strictly speaking, Biblical (i.e. Classical) Hebrew has no tense similar to those used in English, French, or German. The action is regarded as either complete or incomplete. Hence most scholars prefer to call a completed action perfect and an incompleted action imperfect....
The use of the Hebrew tenses is relatively easy to learn....Thus, many different types of past action are expressed by the Hebrew perfect tense. This reductionism is largely true of the Hebrew imperfect tense in expressing various types of future (and sometimes also present) action.
Even Gesenius relegates a discussion of the peculiar nature of the verbal system to a footnote (p. 125), and little if any discussion is ever made in any grammar on the oddities that such an outlook on the world would play in narrative or poetic structures.
Rather than stressing the peculiarity of the Hebrew verbal system, the attempt is made to force it into a familiar mode, so that students are invariably left with the impression that the imperfect is present or future and perfect is past tense, with no awareness of the non-chronological character of the verbal system. Rather than adjusting minds to the Hebrew mold, Hebrew is pressed into a Western European mold -- thereby obscuring what is actually transpiring in the text.
Hebrew narrative structure contains what can be called a thematic expansion of topic -- a format that commonly replaces chronology as an organizational principle even in straightforward narrative. This structuring can be illustrated in various portions of the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, and is especially illuminating when it comes to the difficulties mentioned by McCarter in 1 Samuel. Once noticed, this non-chronological structuring principle becomes rather obvious throughout the scriptures.
III. Preliminary Examples
A. Genesis 1:1-2:25
Genesis 1:1 through 2:25 takes the following basic pattern:
1. 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
2. 1:2-2:4a How God created the heavens and the earth.
3. 2:4b-2:25 How God created man and woman.
A discussion of this pattern follows:
1. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth" (1:1-2) is the opening or summary statement regarding the passage, similar to what one finds in the first paragraph of a newspaper story.
2. How God created the heavens and the Earth 1:3-2:4a; in the passage that follows, the author of Genesis now expands upon his statement of theme. In detail, he describes the way that God went about creating the heavens and the Earth.
Notice the tendency to arrange by theme rather than chronology continues with the six days. Their thematic arrangement has been pointed out before, for instance by Derek Kidner in his commentary on Genesis for the Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries.
Notice that on days 1-3, empty places are prepared, while on days 4-6 the inhabitants to fill those empty places are made.
1. Light=day/dark=night 4. Sun for day/moon, stars for night
2. water below/above 5. fish below/birds above
3. dry ground/plants 6. land animals/people
3. How God created man and woman 2:4b-3:25
The narrative has finally moved from the simple opening that God created the universe, through how he did it (a general introduction describing the six days), until finally the author brings the reader to the details, hinted at in 1:26-30, of how the human race was created. In 1:26-30, the narrative explains that God created both man and woman, and that they are both in the image of God. In the passage of 2:4b-2:25, details regarding the creative process are revealed; rather than man and woman being created simultaneously, as a reading of 1:26-30 alone might intimate, the author explains that Adam was created first, that he studied the animals and "named" them, finally learning for his efforts that unlike all the rest of God's creatures, he had no mate. This fact determined, God anesthetized Adam and performed surgery; through the use of some of Adam's tissue, God produced a female clone to be his mate. Adam recognized her and named her and took her as his wife. The details and the perspective of 2:4b-2:25 are different and expand dramatically from the previous account given in 1:26- 30. Notice the following pattern:
A In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (1:1) -- a summary statement
B God creates the heavens and the earth (1:2-25)
C God creates humans (1:26-30)
D God rested (1:31-2:4a)
A' God created the heavens and the earth (2:4b) -- a summary statement
B' God creates the earth (2:5-6)
C' God creates man (2:7)
B' God creates the Garden/Rivers (2:8-14)
C' God establishes man, plans for woman (2:15-18)
B' God creates animals (2:19-20)
C' God creates woman (2:21-25)
B. Jonah 3:5-9
(5) The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. (6) When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. (7) Then he issued a proclamation in Nineveh: "By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let any man or beast, herd or flock, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. (8) But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. (9) Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish."
Jonah displays another example of this same thematic structuring. Jonah 3:5-9 is a description of Nineveh's reaction to Jonah's preaching. 3:5 gives a summary of the response of the city to Jonah's preaching, while 3:6-9 gives specific details about what happened and how. If an attempt is made to read this as strictly a chronological description of what occurred, a certain confusion results. Verse five recounts how the people repented and wore sack cloth. If verses 6-9 follow chronologically, then why does the king order his people to do what they've already done?
However, if the thematic arrangement is recognized, the problems evaporate, and the narrative is perfectly clear and consistent. Look at the pattern:
A The Ninevites believed God (3:5a)
B They declared a fast (3:5b)
C They put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least (3:5c)
C' King puts on sackcloth (3:6)
B' Proclamation that no one is to eat or drink (3:7)
C' Man and beast covered with sackcloth (3:8a)
A' Let them call urgently on God and repent (3:8b-9)
C. Ecclesiastes 2:1-26
(1) I thought in my heart, "Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good." But that also proved to be meaningless. (2) "Laughter," I said, "is foolish. And what does pleasure accomplish?" (3) I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly--my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was worthwhile for men to do under heaven during the few days of their lives.
(4) I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. (5) I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. (6) I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. (7) I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. (8) I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired men and women singers, and a harem as well--the delights of the heart of man. (9) I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me.
(10) I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;
I refused my heart no pleasure.
My heart took delight in all my work,
and this was the reward for all my labor.
(11) Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
nothing was gained under the sun.
(12) Then I turned my thoughts to consider wisdom,
and also madness and folly.
What more can the king's successor do than what has already been done?
(13) I saw that wisdom is better than folly,
just as light is better than darkness.
(14) The wise man has eyes in his head,
while the fool walks in the darkness;
but I came to realize that the same fate overtakes them both.
(15) Then I thought in my heart,
"The fate of the fool will overtake me also.
What then do I gain by being wise?"
I said in my heart,
"This too is meaningless."
(16) For the wise man, like the fool, will not be long remembered;
in days to come both will be forgotten.
Like the fool, the wise man too must die!
(17) So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. (18) I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. (19) And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the work into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless. (20) So my heart began to despair over all my toilsome labor under the sun. (21) For a man may do his work with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then he must leave all he owns to someone who has not worked for it. This too is meaningless and a great misfortune. (22) What does a man get for all the toil and anxious striving with which he labors under the sun? (23) All his days his work is pain and grief; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is meaningless.
(24) A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, (25) for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? (26) To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
Ecclesiastes 2:1-26 displays the following basic pattern, a pattern that by now may be starting to become familiar:
A I thought in my heart, "Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good." (2:1a)
B But that also proved to be meaningless. (2:1b)
A' Testing with pleasure to discover what's good. (2:2-10)
B' Everything is meaningless. (2:11-26)
In the first verse, the two halves of what the author of the book of Ecclesiastes seeks to discuss are expressed. In the verses that follow, he does exactly what he has indicated, first discussing what is good -- repetitiously, as is the nature of Hebrew poetry -- and then turning to the second half at verse 11 and repetitiously describing how meaningless it is. This is standard Hebrew pattern, and not at all odd, unless one were to insist on a western outlook in narrative or poetic techniques.
D. Proverbs 1:10-19
(10) My son, if sinners entice you,
do not give in to them.
(11) If they say, "Come along with us;
let's lie in wait for someone's blood,
let's waylay some harmless soul;
(12) let's swallow them alive, like the grave,
and whole, like those who go down to the pit;
(13) we will get all sorts of valuable things
and fill our houses with plunder;
(14) throw in your lot with us,
and we will share a common purse"--
(15) my son, do not go along with them,
do not set foot on their paths;
(16) for their feet rush into sin,
they are swift to shed blood.
(17) How useless to spread a net in full view of all the birds!
(18) These men lie in wait for their own blood;
they waylay only themselves!
(19) Such is the end of all who go after ill-gotten gain;
it takes away the lives of those who get it.
A My son, if sinners entice, (1:10a)
B do not go (1:10b)
A' 1:11-14 How sinners entice (1:11-14)
B' Do not go with them (1:15-19)
The first line of the pericope establishes the structure for what follows; the first half of the line, dealing with the enticement of sinners is expanded upon in the next four verses. At that point, there is a shift, and the second half of verse ten, about "not going" is then expanded upon for the same length of time.
E. Joshua 15:13-19
The book of Joshua falls into six parts easily enough:
I. The Entry into Canaan 1-6
II. Incident at Ai and renewal of the covenant 7-8
III. Conquest of the South 9-10
IV. Conquest of the North 11-12
V. Division of the Land 13-22
VI. Farewell and Death of Joshua 23-24
Section V is devoted to the distribution of the land among the tribes. The story of Caleb and his daughter appears in 15:13-19. This same story is repeated near the beginning of Judges (1:1-15), which explicitly informs us that Joshua died before the incident with Caleb occurred. Yet in Joshua, we do not see the death of Joshua until the end of the book (Joshua 24:28-30).
There is no difficulty, however, if it is understood that theme will override chronology in the arranging of a narrative, even a story, because the incident with Caleb is described in a section of the book devoted to the theme of the conquest. Caleb's story of the conquest of Hebron fits in perfectly at that point thematically, although certainly not chronologically. But chronology was subsumed by the theme.
The structure of Judges, likewise, is probably not chronological -- especially chapters 17-21. The last chapters of the book do not necessarily follow chapters 1-16; instead, they perhaps offer a snapshot of what transpired in the land during those times when there were no judges. They illustrate the phrase "there was no king; everyone did what was right in his own eyes."
I. The Time of the Elders 1:1-2:10
II. The Time of the Judges 2:11-16:31
III. A Picture of Anarchy 17-21.
2:11-3:6 is a summary of the entire period of the Judges, with 3:7-16:31 expanding upon 2:14-3:6 and 17-21 being an expansion of 2:11-13, creating a chaiastic structure for the book.
It is interesting to notice the common phrase used four times in 17-21: "Israel had no king". It appears in 17:6, 18:1, 19:1 and 21:25.
In the New Testament, this structuring principle arranges the beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-11: "the poor in spirit" begins the narrative in 5:3; the lines beneath (4-11) are simply expansions and details of who and what the poor in spirit are. John's gospels and letters begin to make greater sense. In Revelation, words that seem to describe the end of the world are repeated in 6:12-17, 11:15-19, and 16:17-21, not to mention 18-22. This is not strange, if a thematic rather than a chronological arrangement is recognized, however.
IV. The Problem of 1 Samuel
Consider, then, the arrangement of the David/Saul narrative in 1 Samuel. McCarter points out that Saul was rejected twice by Yahweh and that there are also two accounts of how David entered Saul's service.
How does the theory of "topical expansion of topic" easily explain these difficulties?
The narrative is certainly puzzling in its current form, if it is assumed to have a strict chronological arrangement. In 13:7-15 Samuel tells Saul that his kingdom will not endure, but will be given to another. In 15:7-34, Samuel tells Saul that God has rejected him and given the kingdom to another. In 16:14-23 David enters Saul's service, playing the harp for him in order to make him feel better (evil spirit perhaps better translated as "depression" based on the fact that Hebrew "spirit" demonstrably means "emotion" as in Genesis 45:27, paralleling the English "lifting his spirit"; see also Num. 14:24, Deut. 2:30, Judges 9:23, 1 Sam. 18:1). Yet, come 17:55-18:2, after slaying Goliath, Saul seems not to have previously met David -- and David then enters Saul's service.
If a topical/thematic arrangement of the narrative is recognized, these apparent problems are relatively easily dealt with. If one insists on chronology as the sole, or most important structuring criterion, then the problem remains and the interpreter must choose either to accept the documentary hypothesis, or else explain away the difficulties as not really present.
So how does it work here?
A 13:7-9 Saul in Gilgal; performs sacrifice!
B 13:10-11a Samuel arrives, questions Saul.
C 13:11b-12 Saul's response.
D 13:13-14 Samuel's rebuke
A' 15:1-7 Saul sent against Amelekites
15:8-9 Saul spares Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle
B' 15:10-14 Samuel questions Saul
C' 15:15 Saul's response
D' 15:16-19 Samuel's rebuke
C'A' 15:20-21 Saul's response; animals for sacrifice!
D' 15:22-23 Samuel's rebuke
C' 15:24-25 Saul's response
D' 15:26-29 Samuel's rebuke
C' 15:30 Saul's response
E' 15:31-33 Samuel kills Agag
15:34-35 Summary; Samuel leaves.
The key to the linkage of these at first apparently separate incidents is the mention of animals for sacrifice in 13:7-9 and 15:20-21. The perspective of the two descriptions is somewhat different, but notice that the passage in 13 is much shorter and much more condensed than the account of 15, which can therefore be taken an expansion of the earlier account (notice that this expansion of topic matches the pattern observed in Genesis 1 and 2, as in comparing 1:26-30 with 2:4b-2:25).
Now notice the overall structure of 13-15:
A 13:3-7a -- Jonathan attacked the Philistine outpost
B 13:7b-22 The account of Saul's rejection
A' 13:23-14:14 -- Description of Jonathan's attack on the
Philistine outpost, much expanded from the account in 13:3-7a
C 14:15-23 -- Summary of general Israelite attack on Philistines
C' 14:24-48 -- Specific details of the campaign summarized in 14:15-23, with additional information of Jonathan's exploits.
D 14:49-52 -- Summary of Saul's family; statement regarding the wars with Philistines and statement that
"Whenever Saul saw a mighty or brave man, he took him into his service" -- a foreshadowing of David's coming.
Finally, (B') 15:1-34 is an expansion on Saul's rejection first described in 13:7b-22.
The addition of David to Saul's staff meshes with the patterns already established and in 14:52, David's entrance is foreshadowed.
In response to Saul's rejection, Samuel goes and finds a replacement in the person of David, 16:1-13. Notice that after having anointed David, 16:13 states "Samuel then went to Ramah", paralleling the condensed version of 15:34 "Then Samuel left for Ramah", and 13:15 "Then Samuel left Gilgal and went up to Gibeah of Benjamin" (LXX has "went his way"). Look at the structure:
A 16:14-17 -- Saul's emotional problems and search for musician
B 16:18 -- David, described as a warrior
C 16:19 -- request to David's father
D 16:20-23 -- David enters Saul's service as an armor bearer
B'-C' 17:1-54 Philistine war and Goliath David's involvement
D' 17:55-18:2 -- Introduction after success; David' enters Saul's service.
Both narratives (16:14-23 and 17:1-18:2) end at the same point, with David entering Saul's service. The difference is that 16:14-23 is a summary account, while 17:1-18:2 is an expanded account of the same time frame, but with the emphasis somewhat different, as the former (16:14-23) narrative ends on Saul's emotional problems resulting from his rejection by God, and the latter (17:1-18:2) on military problems associated with the Philistines. In both cases, David is involved, but the Hebrew approach to relating the story separates thematic elements and concentrates on them one at a time.
The structure of the whole passage (13-18:2) may be visualized as follows:
V. Conclusion and Summary
The supposed difficulties in the Flood narrative or the Tower of Babel narrative harmonize and fall into place once the overriding importance of theme is recognized. Difficulties in the order of events between the gospels (especially between John and the Synoptics), and many of the special difficulties of Matthew's gospel can be handled in the same way, especially if one recognizes that Luke, being Greek, had reason to write at the beginning of his Gospel, contrasting himself with the other narratives, that it "seemed good also to me to write an orderly account..." (Luke 1:3). That is, Luke chose to write an account where chronology was the most important structuring principle -- in the Greek style in contrast to the Hebrew style.
So, once freed from insisting on a Greek narrative technique in which chronology and time are principle elements of arranging a narrative, the texts of Scripture are once again fully comprehensible, although they contribute to a certain discombobulation and culture shock.
Saul's Recourse to Occultism
The final step in the king's downfall was his recourse to the so-called "witch" (necromancer) of Endor (1 Samuel 28:3-25). The seriousness of this, the king's final plunge into ruin, is made clear in the fact that he was resorting to an illegitimate means of ascertaining the future, which many view as characteristic of the polytheistic nations surrounding Israel (though there is some doubt about that, as we shall see), and certainly utterly at variance with Yahwehism. As such, occult traffic in Israel was under the most severe interdict and punishable by death (Lev. 19:31; 20:6, 27; Deut. 18:10, 11). The fact that Saul himself had outlawed occult practices and that he dared to have recourse to them himself when he was cut off from communication with God (1 Samuel 28:6) clearly indicates his own desperation.
Deciphering and interpretation of the Hittite texts discovered by Hugo Winckler in excavations begun in 1906 at Boghazkeui, the site of the old Hittite capital situated in the great bend of the Halys River, ninety miles east of Ankara, has shed light on this interesting Biblical episode. It is now known from these cuneiform t exts that in ancient Asia Minor of the second millennium BC (and later) magical ritual and occult practices were the special province of old women. A number of magical rituals are said to have been recorded from the utterance of these sibyls or seers. Several centuries later old women also appear among the Assyrians as insturments of oracles. Among the Canaanites of Ugarit in North Syria in the 14th c. BC, the word which is translated "familiar spirit" evidently had the meaning of "spirit of the dead."
Occult practices, with widespread belief in demons or evil spirits, and the manifestation of various demonological phenomena such as divination, magic and necromancy (consulting the supposed spirits of the departed dead) were characteristic of the environment of ancient Israel and offered the perpetual peril of contamination to the faithful follower of Yahweh.
The Old Testament "witch" (Exodus 22:18; Deut. 18:10), correctly rendered in the NIV as "sorceress", is a term used to describe women who trafficked in occult practices in general. The so-called "witch" or "medium", is described as "one who has a familiar spirit (Heb. 'ov)", that is "One in whom there was (0r was thought to be) a divining demon" (cf. Lev. 19:31; 20:6; and 20:27). The woman whom Saul consulted is said to have been "a woman who was mistress of a divining demon" (1 Sam. 28:7), that is, an ancient necromancer (same as the modern "spiritualist") who professed to give clandestine information from the spirits of the departed dead.
According to the narrative, Saul's doom is announced by Samuel by means of a post-mortem appearance of the venerable prophet in spirit form (1 Sam. 28:11-25). The monarch's resort to a source of information that was by evil power and the antithesis of being directed by Yahweh was as complete a denial as was possible of the essential meaning of what Hebrew King was intended to be as a representative of divine will. Saul, accordingly, merited his destruction on the battlefield of Gilboa (concerning Astrology, see Isaiah 47:12-15).
Where was Endor, the place where Saul's witch was from? According to Joshua 17:11 it was a city in Manassah; probably it is to be identified with the modern Endor, located on the north side of Little Hermon (Nebi Dahi), about four miles from Mt. Tabor. The name Endor is from two Hebrew words, ein, meaning spring and dor meaning generation or age; hense, a translation of the name would be something like Generation Spring.
The "witch" or necromancer was common throughout Israel and the Ancient Near East in general. In any polytheistic society, the gods, by virtue of multiplicity and limitations of power, are incapable of securing for themselves, for nature, and for humanity the stability and security essential for the continuation of things as they are. This deficiency forced both gods and human beings to make use of magic -- an inactive power independent of gods and human beings, but which could be activated by the use of incantations and rituals in order to accomplish supernatural deeds.
It is nevertheless intersting to find a negative view of necromancy even among the Babylonians. The second law in the Code of Hammurappi is the following:
If a man has brought a charge of socery against another man, but has not proved it, the one against whom the carge of sorcery was brought, upon going to the river, shall throw himself into the river, and if the river has then overpowered him, his accuser shall take his estate; if the river has shown that man to be innocent and he has accordingly come forth safe, the one who brought the charge of sorcery against him shall be put to death, while the one who threw himself in to the river shall take over the estate of his accuser.
The Reign of David
Later Hebrew history looked back upon David as the ideal king, and regarded his reign, and that of his son Slomon, as the golden age of the Hebrew kingdom. In the esteem of the nation David was accorded a place only second to Moses himself. Whereas Moses had led the tribes out of bondage and merged them into a nation at Sinai, giving them a common faith and laying down for them their civil and ecclesiastical law, David was the real founder of the Hebrew Monarchy. It was he who "carried into effect the whole system, civil and ecclesiastical, which had been foreshadowed at Sinai."
Moreover, in contrast to Saul, who although noble in his strictly national aspierations, wa nevertheless rough and repelling, David possessed a singularly gentle and wisome personality and showed a remarkable gift for attracting friends. This preeminent element in his chracter not only eventually won for him the kingship which was entirely unsought, but assured him the fullest success in it when once he was chosen to the high office. It is quite certain that Jonathan, being heir to the throne after Saul, would not have been such an ardent friend and supporter of David in everything had David from the beginning conspired to bring about Saul's downfall and had possessed selfish plans to assume the royal title.
David's magnanimity was remarkably displayed toward Saul upon numerous occasions. After he became king of Judah, similar tactics of patience and moderation in national affairs won for him the kingship over all Israel and in international affairs enabled him to carve out a substantial empire to bequeath to his son Solomon. This feat of empire building he was able to accomplish largely without resorting to wars that were waged for conquest. By simply fighting in defense of the Israelite nation when it was threatened by those who refused his overtures of friendship and who were jealous of his expanding power, he was able to extend his domains apart from actual military aggression.
David's policy as king seems clearly to have been "to be strong at home, but to live side by side with other nations as his allies." Ties of friendship accordingly were established with Hiram, king of Tyre (2 Sam. 5:11) and Toi, king of Hamath (2 Sam. 8:9-10). David's proposed alliance with the Ammonites, on the other hand, was contemptuously rejected (2 Sam. 10:1-5). This affront not only complelled him to war against Ammon, but brought him into inevitable clash with the Arameans, whom the Ammonites hired to fight against Israel (2 Sam. 10:6-19).
Likewise the warlike advance of the Philistines, when they heard that David had been annointed king over Israel, made peaceable agreement with them impossible and opened up the occasion, as in the case of his other enemies, for their conquest (2 Sam. 5:17-25). Similarly David's attitude toward the Moabites (cf. 1 Sam. 22:3-4) and the Edomites, to whom he conceded a measure of independence after he conquered them, suggests the same policy.
David's early activity as king
The death of Saul precipitated a crisis in the political history of Israel, and a period of civil war followed. Meanwhile David had gone up to the city of Hebron situated in the hill country of Judah some ninetten miles in a southwesterly direction from Jerusalem. Well-known in Biblical hisotory since the days of the patriarchs, Hebron was now to come into special prominence as a royal city.
Not long after David and the men who were with him had taken up their residence a hebron, he was anointed king over the house of Judah and reigned seven and one half years over that tribe (2 Sam. 2:1-11). In the interim the long civil war between the house of Saul and the house of David eventuated in the gradual weakening and the final extermination of the house of Saul, and David's being anointed king over all Israel (2 Sam. 2:8-5:5).
Capture of Jerusalem
As soon as he was chosen king over all the tribes, David set himself to the task of establishing the kingdom. One of his first and most important accomplishments was his conquest of the Jebusite stronghold at Jerusalem, which he made his new capital. Situated on a plateau of commanding height twenty-five hundred feet above the Mediterranean and thirty-eight hundred feet above the Dead Sea, the Jebusite fortress, scarped by natural rock for defense, with stout walls, gates and towers, was considered impregnable. So secure did the native Jebusite defenders consider themselves that they taunted David and the Israelite beseigers with the words: "You will not come in here, but the blind and the lame will ward you off -- thinking David cannot come in here." (2 Sam. 5:6)
Despite the formidable defenses of the place David took the stronghold. On the day when the citadel was stormed David said "Whoever would smite the Jebusites, let him get up the water shaft to attack the lame and the blind, who are hated by David's soul." (2 Sam. 5:8). It is possible that this "get up the water shaft" should better be rendered "gets up with a hook" and kills the Jebusites.
Albright observes: "The word is now known to be typically Canaanite and the sense "hook" has been handed down through Aramaic to modern Arabic. The hook in question was used to assist besiegers in scaling ramparts.
The common interpretation of this word which might now be translated "hook" has been that it constitutes a reference to the ancient water shaft inside the Virgin Fountain at Jerusalem. But there is some question about this now. However, early research of the Palestine Exploration Fund at Jerusalem, under the direction of Sir Charles Warren, yielded important knowledge of the Jebusite water system. The city was naturally deficient in water supply. All water had to be caught in cisterns during the rainy season or brought in from a distance by aqueducts, since there were no springs on the hill. Two springs in the valley supply water. One, situated at the foot of the eastern hill in the Kidron Valley below Ophel, the hump or hill, south of the Temple area, was anciently called Gihon (1 Kings 1:40-45; 2 Chron. 32:30) and is mentioned by Josephus. Today, it is known as Sai Mary's Well or the Virgin's Fountain. The other fountain, Enrogel, now called Job's Well, is located southeast of the city at a point just below the junction of the valleys of Hinnom and the Kidron (Josh. 15:1, 2 Sam. 17:17).
As a result of his excavations Warren discovered that the inhabitants of Jerusalem about 2000 BC had made a rock-cut passage, similar to the one at Gezer and at Megido, to enable them to secure water from the Gihon spring without having to go outside the city walls. From the cave into which the Gihon spring entered, a horizontal tunnel had been driven back into the hill some 36 feet west and 25 feet north. This conduit brought the water back into an old cave, which thus served as a reservoir. Running up from this was a 40 foot vertical tunnel (now known as Warren's Shaft), at the top of which was a platform where the women could stand to lower their buckets and draw up water. From this a sloping passage ran up with its entrance within the city walls.
Although David's men evidently scaled the walls of Jerusalem and did not gain entrance to the Jebusite fortress, as had been thought, by means of the city's underground water system; archeology has shown that the anciaent citadel which David took called "the stronghold of Zion" and subsequently the "city of David" (2 Samuel 5:7), which the king built, were located on the eastern hill above the Gihon Fountain and not on the so-called western hill of Zion, separated by the Tyropoean Valley. This is clear from excavations and from the fact that the water supply determined the earliest settlement in Jerusalem.
In Old Testament times the eastern hill was considerably higher and more commanding in appearance than in later times. The Hasmoneans of the 2nd century BC removed the crest of this area that it might not rival the Temple area in height. This accentuated the prominence of the western hill, which was naturally larger and higher. As a result, since as early as the beginning of the Christian era, ancient Jebusite Jerusalem had been popularly but erroneously associated with the southern portion of the western hill, a tradition which has been corrected only by more than a century's worth of archeological research, extending from De Saulcey's first search for the Tombs of the Kings of David and his successors in 1850 to the discovery of the location and limits of the City of David in 1927.
The actual uncovering of the City of David, although made possible through the previous labors of such men as sir Charles Warren, Clermont-Ganneau, Hermann Guthe, Frederick Bliss and Captain Raymond Weill, was due to the research of John Garstang and his colleagues, together with his successor, J.W. Crowfoot, which extended over the years 1922-1927. As a result of these fruitful researches the modest limits of the City of David were determined. Portions of the Jebusite city wall and fortification were uncovered, including the great western gate.
Evidence brought to light showed that the city which David captured was shaped like a huge human footprint about 1250 feet long and 400 feet wide and was situated some distance south of the temple area. At most its total walled space could not have exceeded eight acres, comparable to the same area within the walls of Tell en-Nasbeh, the six acres of Canaanite Jericho and the 30 acres of contemporary Megiddo. However, its stout walls and elevated position made it virtually impregnable to foes. Nevertheless, by superhuman courage David's valiant men took it by storm.
Jerusalem Made the Nation's Capital
David's conquest of Jerusalem was an exceedingly important event, making possible the choice of the city as his capital. Moreover, he displayed great wisdom in his selection of the conquered city as the focal point of his new government. He realized its strategic importance and doubtless had it in mind as his new capital before conquering it. The city stood on the border of Judah and Israel and its neutral oocation tended to allay the jealousy between the northern and southern portions of his kingdom. Its liberation from the Canaanites opened the highway between Judah and the North, expedited commercial and social intercourse, and helped further to unite the kingdom.
Subjugation of Neighboring States
David's establishment as king over a united Israel provoked the fear and jealousy of the Philistines, who twice invaded Israelite territory to attack David and who were twice decisively defeated near Jerusalem (2 Sam. 5:17-25). David wisely followed up these victories by invading Philistia. The capture of Gath (1 Chron. 18:1) and additional conquests in subsequent brief campaigns (2 Sam. 21:15-22) so completely subjugated the Philistines that the power of this inveterate enemy of Israel, which had continuously threatened to overwhelm the young Israelite kingdom since the days of Saul, was effectively nullified.
In similar fashion to counteract attack, to avenge insult, to insure the safety of the nation and to keep it from idolatrous contamination, David waged war with other surrounding nations including the Moabites, Aramaeans, Ammonites, Edomites and Amalekites (2 Sam. 8:10; 12:26-31). By these conquests and by skillful diplomacy, he was able to build up an empire of sorts for his son Solomon which extended from Ezion-Geber, on the Gulf of Aqabah in the south to the region of Hums, on the border of Hamath in the north.
David's Political and Religious Innovations
Although the shepherd king's colorful personality, his skillful diplomacy and his brilliant military strategy have overshadowed his administrative ability, this aspect of his talent must not be overlooked. His name is possibly derived from the title dawidum, which meant "leader" in the earlier Mari letters from Tell el Hariri on the Middle Euphrates.
Organization of the kingdom. That his administrative achievements were extensive in contrast to those of Saul, who was little more than a rustic chieftain, is clearly reflected in the strong kingdom he left behind him and in the preservation of accounts of its effecient organization (cf. 1 Chron. 22:17-27:34). David's officialdom, moreover, has been shown to have been organized in part at least on Egyptian models. Among Egyptian official institutions which he copied, doubtless not directly but through Phoenician or other intermediaries, was the division of functions between the "recorder" or "chronicler" (mazker) and the "scribe" or "secretary" (sopher); see 2 Sam. 8:16-17 -- and the coucil of thirty (cf. 1 Chron. 27:6). His army was a well-organized and efficient fighting machine (2 Sam. 8:16) and included a select personal bodyguard of foreign mercenaries, evidently Philistine, called Cherethites and Pelethites (2 Sam. 8:18).
Allocation of Levitical Cities. As another important element in the political organization of his realm many scholars ascribe to David the actual allocation of Levitical cities. Although these cities, including the cities of refuge (Num. 35), were provided for by Moses before entrance into the land and appointed by Joshua after the Conquest (Josh. 20:1, 2; 21:2), it was impossible before the time of Saul or David for many of these places, such as Gezer, Ibleam, Taanach, Rehob in Asher, Joknean and Naholal (cf. Josh. 21), to have been actually allotted to the Levites since they were not Israelite at all before that time.
Other towns such as Eltekeh and Gibbethon were under Philistine control until the time of David, and such small hamlets as Anathoth and Alemoth in the tribe of Benjamin can scarcely have become Levitic towns before the removal of the tabernacle to Nob in the time of Saul. It is more likely that they were allotted to the Levites after David took Jerusalem and made it the capital of Israel, since there is no doubt that he planned some kind of administrative reorganization of the Israelite confederation.
Allocation of Cities of Refuge. It is quite certain that the six cities of refuge, as well as the 48 Levitical cities, figured prominently in David's reorganization of his realm. In his time there was a very real need for an institution that would provide asylum to which one unjustly accused of a crime might flee, as Loehr has pointed out. The idea, common throughout the ancient Mediterranean world, would contribute to the stability of the Monarchy and would not be overlooked by a wise administrator like David.
During the period of the judges, private, clan and tribal vendettas flourished, and were commonly very destructive, as is illustrated by Ephraim's jealousy of Gideon's victories over the Amalekites (Judges 8:1-4), Jephthah's successes over the Ammonites, and the bitter civil war between the various tribes and Benjamin over the murder of the Levite's concubine (Judges 19:1-21:25). As a wise statesman, David was fully aware that a stable monarchy could not tolerate blood feuds, and he was quick to see the advantage of employing the Mosaic provision of six Levitic towns, three on each side of the Jordan, for the purpose of helping to consolodate his kingdom and of contributing to its tranquility.
Removal of the Ark to Jerusalem. As soon as he had established his kingdom, as a loyal worshiper of Yahweh, David turned his attention to the mora and spiritual needs of his people and sought to make his new capital at Jerusalem the religious as well as the political center of his expanding empire.
His most important single act in this direction was the removal of the ark to Jerusalem from Kiriath-Jearim, where Israel's sacred chest had remained, except for a very breif period at Beth-shemesh, after the Philistines, in whose territory it had been kept since its capture at the battle of Ebenezer (c. 1050 BC), had restored it to Israel.
But David's first attempt to bring the ark to Jerusalem proved abortive, owing to his unwitting, though serious, neglect to follow the divine instructions concerning the transportation of the sacred object (2 Sam. 6:1-15; 1 Chron. 15:13). Instead of first having the chest covered by the priests and then borne by the Levites by means of its staves in accordance with prescribed Mosaic regulations (Num. 4:5, 15, 19), his resort to the Philistine expedient of a new cart drawn by oxen (cf. 1 Sam. 6:7, 8) led to the death of Uzzah, who put his hand out to steady the ark and thus committed a sacrilege for which the law stipulated death (Num. 4:15).
As a result of this mishap, the ark remained at Perez-Uzzah for three months, after which David with great religious celebration brought it up the City of David (2 Sam. 6:12-15). During th elaborate ceremonies of music, pagentry and sacrifices, David is said to have "danced before the Lord with all his might ... girded with a linen ephod " (2 Sam. 6:14) -- this ephod was a kind of linen apron, suspended from the shoulders, and usually very ornate. What David and the priests wore was something very different from the ephod of Gideon, apparently, which weighed in at 17,000 shekels (nearly 425 pounds!); see Josh. 18:10, 1 Sam. 3:3, and 4:10-11.
A structure, doubtless copied after the specifications of the Mosaic prototype, had existed at Nob to which the priests apparently fled (1 Sam. 21:1, 9) after the ark had been taken by the Philistines. But without the ark the tabernacle had lost its value and glory (Psalm 78:60) until David constructed a new tent to house the sacred symbol of God's covenant presense with His people.
Modern criticism shows a tendency to deny the historicity of the original tabernacle described in the Pentateuch and the book of Joshua and to make it essentially a reflection of the later allegedly more ornate and complex Davidic tent or a concoction of exilic and post-exilic priestly writers. Modern criticism supposes that the elaborate construction and appurtenance of the Mosaic institution were unsuitable to the life of migrants. However, archaeology has shown that the description of the constru;ction of the tabernacle offers nothing which would have been difficult for the craftsmen of the Mosaic era to make, and technical terms employed of the tabernacle and its parts have recently been found in records dating from the 14th to the 11th centuries BC. The tent which David pitched for the ark accordingly may be safely taken as a faithful replica of the Mosaic tent and not as largely a Davidic innovation.
Moreover, from ancient Arabic tradition and modern Bedouin practice it is well-known that it was customary for nomadic desert tribes to carry their sacred tent-shrines with them much in the manner of Israel in the wilderness. From fragments of the Phoenician history of Sanchuniathon (c. 650 BC) there is a reference to a portable shrine of much earlier date, which was drawn by oxen. Diodorus, the Greek historian of the first century AD, tells of a sacred tent pitched in the center of a Carthaginian battle camp with an altar nearby.
Of particular significance in the archeology of the tabernacle is the ancient miniature red leather tent with domed top called the qubbah. In the pre-Islamic period some of these tents were suitable for mounting on camel back. Others were larger. The tent frequently contained the local idols (betyls) and was deemed capable of guiding the tribe in its wanderings, and by firtue of its presence on the battlefield, was regarded as efficacious to protect from the enemy and give victory. Accordingly, it was commonly set up near the chieftain's tent. As an object of peculiar sacredness, the qubbah afforded general protection. It was also a place of worship, where priests gave oracles.
Since black tents were characteristic from most ancient times, the red leather of which they were made is most extraordinary, especially since the color tended to expose the camp and the station of the chieftain. This strange custom implies a deep-rooted conservative religious practice, and is illustrated by a number of representations of the qubbah from Syria and a specific reference to the institution in an Aramaic inscription. The temple of Bel in Palmyra, which dates from the third to the first century BC, interestingly, portrays the qubbah in a bas-relief, with tremnants of paint still clinging to it.
The qubbah is mentioned in Numbers 25:8 in connection with Phinehas who "went into the tent " (qubbah) and killed the "man of Israel" and the Midianite woman he had married. The passage is usually construed as a reference to the tabernacle or to the sacred enclosure.
These Semitic parallels lend striking confirmation to the fact that the Mosaic tabernacle had a "covering...of rams; skins dyed red" (Exo. 26:14; 36:19) and the institution of the qubbah among ancient Semies doubltless sheds light on the origin of the tabernacle. The portable red leather tent appears to be one of the oldest motifs in Semitic religion and furnishes additional evidence that the Israelite tabernacle and ark have historical connections with the Semitic past. Parallels must not be unduly pressed, as some scholars have done, but the fact must nevertheless be kept in mind that Israel's religious customs were rooted in general Semitic practices, which, hhowever, under divine revelation through Moses, were transformed to suit the purposes of the worship of Yahweh.
As the ancient Semitic tent-shrine was radically reinterpreted by Mohammed at a much later date, so doubtless it had been transformed at a much earlier time under Moses to fit the mould of Israelite monotheism. Moreover, David's tent went back to the Mosaic pattern, although it doubtless elaborated on some features, as was certainly the case in the Solomonic temple.
Organization of Sacred Music. There has been a marked tendency on the part of modern criticism to deny or to drastically minimize David's activity in organizing Hebrew sacred music. The common theory is that the formal establishment of classes of temple musicians is strictly post-exilic. Their alleged founding in the early monarchic period (1 Chron. 1:4-6, 37-43) is assumed to be aetiological or purposive, the Chronicler (about 400 BC) attributing to David (around 990 BC) the organization of the temple musical guilds because he was anxious to magnify the role of the singers' and doorkeepers' guilds which were striving for a higher rank (1 Chron. 23-25).
Until recent times this fallacious position was not easy to refute because of a lack of external evidence. Now, however, archeology has illuminated the subject to such an extent as to show that there is nothing incongruous in the light of conditions existing in the ancient Near Eastern world around 1000 BC, in the Biblical representation of David as the patron saint of Jewish hymnology and "the organizer of the Temple music."
Egyptian and Mesopotamian sources give ample evicence that Palestine and Syria were well-known in antiquity for their musicians. The knowledge of music and musical instruments among the early Hebrews and their prediluvian ancestors in extremely early times is reflected in the account of Jabal, Jubal and Tubal-Cain (Gen. 4:20-22). In the early nineteenth century BC Semitic craftsmen carried musical instruments with them when they went down into Egypt, as is depicted on the famous relief from Beni-Hasan, 169 miles above Cairo.
From the epic religious literature discovered at Ras Shamra, ancient Ugarit in north Syria, it is now known that the "singers" (sharim) formed a special class of temple personnel there as early as 1400 BC. The records of the New Empire in Egypt (c. 1546-1085), the period of the heyday of Pharaonic splendor, contain a number of references to Canaanite music and many representations of Canaanite musicians and instruments. King Hezekiah of Judah in the 8th c. BC sent Sennacherib of Assyria male and female musicians, who are listed as part of a valuable tribute, indicating that these performers had considerable reputation for talent. Moreover, the Greeks are known to have borrowed several musical instruments along with their names from the musically talented Phoenicains. external evidence thus offers every reason to suppose that the institution of temple muscians goes back to an early date.
The Scriptural narratives themselves, on the other hand, offer strong evidence attesting David's musical interests and abilities. Coupled with his pious devotion to Yahweh, David's interest in music presents an ideal background for the Chronicler's assertion that he organized the guilds of temple musicians. David is repeatedly represented as a skillful performer on the lyre (1 Sam. 16;14-23) and a composer of beautiful poetry (2 Sam. 1:17-27). he is said to have danced before the ark (2 Sam. 6:5 and 14). A large number of Psalms are attributed to him by a persistent tradition reflected in the superscriptions.
However, there are not only strong indications of the existence of temple music early in Israel, but there is incontrovertible archaelogical evidence for the antiquity of the musical guilds themselves. The Phoenicians (Canaanites) outshone their contemporaries in music, and the Israelites were early influenced by them. Musical guilds of the Hebrews may be traced back in some instances, to told Canaanite families whose designations, such as Heman the Ezrahite (1 Chron. 2:6), became a part of later Hebrew family names.
In addition, such terms as "Asaph", "Heman" and "Ethan" or "Jeuthun" are evidently used by the Chronicler to designate musical guilds, and in the case of "Heman" and "Ethan" are closely paralleled by scores of abbreviated names found at Ugarit and elsewhere, and are characteristically Canaanite and early, not appearing in later Hebrew lists of contemporary names.
Other names occuring in connection with the musical guilds are Chalcol and Darda (1 Chron. 2:6), which with Ethan and Heman appear in the lists of wise men in 1 Kings 4:31. This classification is quite appropriate, since a great musician was commonly also a seer (1 Chron. 25:5) or a prophet (1 Chron. 25:2,3), as well as a wise man. Chalocol and Darda are designated "sons of Mahol" or "members of the orchestral guild", and seem to reflect a class of plant or flower names applied to musicians. The equivalent of "Chalcol" significantly appears on several ivoires found at Megiddo in the hieroglyphic form kulkul, as a singer attached to the temple of Ptah in the Canaanite city of Ashkelon, dated about the 13th century BC.
Hebrew temple music was accordingly recognized in Israel as going back to early pre-Israelite sources, and, although archelogical evidence does not prove that David organized the first religious music in Israel, it does show that the Chronicler's attribution of such activity to Israel's shepherd king contains nothing inconsistent with the spirit of the times or at variance with the contemporary historical scene.
Moreover, with regard to the Davidic authorship of the psalms, a similar conclusion may be reached. Although archeological evidence does not prove that any of the psalms go back to David, it does demonstrate that it is not only possible, but highly probable that many of them are as early as David or even earlier. Abundant light shed on the Hebrew Psalter by the religious literature from Ugarit shows that many of the Psalms, such as 18, 29, 45, 68, 88 and 89 are saturated with Canaanite stylistic and literary parallels and even with dierrect quotations. Just as the Israelites borrowed their music from their precursors, so they borrowed the metric form, vocabulary and style of their sacred lyrics from their Canaanite predecessors. Consider how this should affect one's views on music today, along with other things which are sometimes criticized for "being worldly."
Although the Canaanite material in many of the Psalms does not necessarily prove an early date, since strong Canaanite coloring can be shown to have taken place in two distinct periods -- the 11th-10th centuries or in the 6th-4th centuries BC -- yet the Canaanite context of such a Psalm as 68 and its striking parallels with such an obviously ancient poem as the Song of Deborah (Judges 5), which cannot be dated under any circumstances later than the early 11th century, show that this Psalm (and certainly many others) may well go back to David's time or earlier. In fact, archeological evidence points to the high probability that the entire Psalter spans the whole of OT history from Moses to Zechariah, as its internal evidence would lead us to conclude, and supports the traditional role of David as a musician, poet and the organizer of sacred music in Israel.
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