15 August 2010

Holy Righteous Prophet and King, David of Old Israel

David (Hebrew: דָּוִד, דָּוִיד, Modern David Tiberian Dāwîḏ ; beloved) was the second king of the united Kingdom of Israel according to the Hebrew Bible. He is depicted as a righteous king, although not without fault, as well as an acclaimed warrior, musician and poet, traditionally credited for composing many of the psalms contained in the Book of Psalms.

Edwin Thiele dates his life to c.1040–970 BC, his reign over Judah c.1010–1003 BC, and his reign over the united Kingdom of Israel c.1003–970 BC. The Books of Samuel, 1 Kings, and 1 Chronicles are the only source of information on his life and reign, although the Tel Dan Stele records the existence in the mid-9th century of a Judean royal dynasty called the "House of David".

David's life is particularly important to Jewish, Christian, and Islamic culture. In Judaism, David, or Melekh David, is the King of Israel, and the Jewish people. A direct descendant of David will be the Mashiach. In Christianity David is known as an ancestor of Jesus' adoptive father Joseph, also in Islam, he is considered to be a prophet and the king of a nation.

God withdraws his favor from Saul, king of Israel. The prophet Samuel seeks a new king from the sons of Jesse of Bethlehem. Seven of Jesse's sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel says "The LORD has not chosen these." He then asks "Are these all the sons you have?" and Jesse answers, "There is still the youngest but he is tending the sheep." David is brought to Samuel, and "the LORD said, 'Rise and anoint him; he is the one.'"

God sends an evil spirit to torment Saul and his attendants suggest he send for David, a young warrior famed for his bravery and for his skill with the harp. Saul does so and makes David one of his armor-bearers and "whenever the spirit from God came upon Saul, David would take his harp and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him."

The Israelites are facing the Philistines in the Valley of Elah. The boy David is bringing food to his older brothers who are with King Saul. He hears the Philistine giant Goliath challenging the Israelites to send their own champion to decide the outcome in single combat. David tells Saul he is prepared to face Goliath and Saul allows him to make the attempt. He is victorious, striking Goliath in the forehead with a stone from his sling, and the Philistines flee in terror. Saul sends to know the name of the young champion, and David tells him that he is the son of Jesse.

Saul makes David a commander over his armies and offers him his daughter Michal in marriage. David is successful in many battles, and his popularity awakes Saul's fears — "What more can he have but the kingdom?" By various stratagems the jealous king seeks his death, but the plots only endear David the more to the people, and especially to Saul's son Jonathan, who loves David (1 Samuel 18:1, 2 Samuel 1:25-26). Warned by Jonathan, David flees into the wilderness, where he gathers a band of followers and becomes the champion of the oppressed while evading the pursuit of Saul. He accepts Ziklag as a chief from the Philistine king Achish of Gath, but continues secretly to champion the Israelites. Achish marches against Saul, but David is excused from the war on the accusation of the Philistine nobles that his loyalty to their cause cannot be trusted.

Saul and Jonathan are killed by the Philistines at Mount Gilboa. David mourns their death, then goes up to Hebron, where he is anointed king over Judah; in the north, Saul's son Ish-Bosheth is king of the tribes of Israel. War ensues between Ish-Bosheth and David, until Ish-Bosheth is murdered. The assassins bring the head of Ish-Bosheth to David hoping for reward, but David executes them for their crime against the Lord's anointed. Yet with the death of the son of Saul, the elders of Israel come to Hebron, and David, 37 years old, is anointed King over Israel and Judah.

David conquers the Jebusite fortress of Jerusalem, and makes it his capital, and "Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David, and cedar trees, also carpenters and masons who built David a house." David brings the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, intending to build a temple, but God, speaking to the prophet Nathan, forbids it, saying the temple must wait for a future generation. God makes a covenant with David, promising that he will establish the house of David eternally: "Your throne shall be established forever."

With Yahweh's help David is victorious over his people's enemies. The Philistines are subdued, the Moabites to the east pay tribute, and Hadadezer of Zobah, from whom David takes gold shields and bronze vessels.

David commits adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite. Bathsheba becomes pregnant and David sends for Uriah, who is with the Israelite army at the siege of Rabbah, so that he may lie with his wife and conceal the identity of the child's father. Uriah refuses to do so while his companions are in the field of battle and David sends him back to Joab, the commander, with a message instructing him to abandon Uriah on the battlefield, "that he may be struck down, and die." David marries Bathsheba and she bears his child, "but the thing that David had done displeased the Lord." The prophet Nathan confronts David, saying: "Why have you despised the word of God, to do what is evil in his sight? You have smitten Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and have taken his wife to be your wife." David repents, yet God "struck the [David's] child ... and it became sick ... [And] on the seventh day the child died." David leaves his lamentations, dresses himself, and eats. His servants ask why he wept when the baby was alive, but ends his mourning when the child dies. David replies: "While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, who knows whether Yahweh will be gracious to me, that the child may live? But now he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me."

David's son Absalom rebels against his father, and they come to battle in the Wood of Ephraim. Absalom is caught by his hair in the branches of an oak and David’s general Joab kills him as he hangs there. When the news of the victory is brought to David he does not rejoice, but is instead shaken with grief: "O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!"

When David has become old and bedridden Adonijah, his eldest surviving son and natural heir, declares himself king. Bathsheba, David's favourite wife, and Nathan the prophet, fearing that they will be killed by Adonijah, go to David and procure his agreement that Solomon, Bathsheba's son, should sit on the throne. And so the plans of Adonijah collapse, and Solomon becomes king. It is to Solomon that David gives his final instructions, including his promise that the line of Solomon and David will inherit the throne of Judah forever, and his request that Solomon kill his oldest enemies on his behalf. David dies and is buried in the City of David, having ruled forty years over Israel, seven in Hebron and thirty-three in Jerusalem.

David is referred to as “the favorite of the songs of Israel,” the one who soothed Saul with music, and the founder of Temple singing. A Psalms scroll from the Dead Sea Scrolls (11QPsa) attributes 3600 tehilim (songs of praise) plus other compositions to David, and 73 of the 150 Psalms in the Bible are attributed to him. The supreme kingship of Yahweh is the most pervasive theological concept in the book of Psalms, and many psalms attributed to David are directed to Yahweh by name, whether in praise or petition, suggesting a relationship. According to the Midrash Tehillim, King David was prompted to the Psalms by the Holy Spirit that rested upon him.

David is an important figure in Judaism. Historically, David's reign represented the formation of a coherent Jewish kingdom centered in Jerusalem. David is an important figure within the context of Jewish messianism. In the Hebrew Bible, it is written that a human descendant of David will occupy the throne of a restored kingdom and usher a messianic age.

In modern Judaism David's descent from a convert is taken as proof of the importance of converts within Judaism. David is also viewed as a tragic figure; his acquisition of Bathsheba, and the loss of his son are viewed as his central tragedies.

Many legends have grown around the figure of David. According to one Rabbinic tradition, David was raised as the son of his father Jesse and spent his early years herding his father's sheep in the wilderness while his brothers were in school. Only at his anointing by Samuel - when the oil from Samuel's flask turned to diamonds and pearls - was his true identity as Jesse's son revealed. David's adultery with Bathsheba was only an opportunity to demonstrate the power of repentance, and some Talmudic authors stated that it was not adultery at all, quoting a Jewish practice of divorce on the eve of battle. Furthermore, according to David's apologists, the death of Uriah was not to be considered murder, on the basis that Uriah had committed a capital offence by refusing to obey a direct command from the King.

According to the Midrashim, Adam gave up 70 years of his life for the life of David. Also, according to the Talmud Yerushalmi, David was born and died on the Jewish holiday of Shavuot (Feast of Weeks). His piety was said to be so great that his prayers could bring down things from Heaven.

Originally an earthly king ruling by divine appointment ("the anointed one", as the title Messiah had it), the "son of David" became in the last two pre-Christian centuries the apocalyptic and heavenly who would deliver Israel and usher in a new kingdom. This was the background to the concept of Messiahship in early Christianity, which interpreted the career of Jesus "by means of the titles and functions assigned to David in the mysticism of the Zion cult, in which he served as priest-king and in which he was the mediator between God and man." The early Church believed that "the life of David [foreshadowed] the life of Christ; Bethlehem is the birthplace of both; the shepherd life of David points out Christ, the Good Shepherd; the five stones chosen to slay Goliath are typical of the five wounds; the betrayal by his trusted counsellor, Achitophel, and the passage over the Cedron remind us of Christ's Sacred Passion. Many of the Davidic Psalms, as we learn from the New Testament, are clearly typical of the future Messias."

In the Middle Ages, "Charlemagne thought of himself, and was viewed by his court scholars, as a 'new David'. [This was] not in itself a new idea, but [one whose] content and significance were greatly enlarged by him." The linking of David to earthly kingship was reflected in later Medieval cathedral windows all over Europe through the device of the Tree of Jesse its branches demonstrating how divine kingship descended from Jesse, through his son David, to Jesus.

Western Rite churches (Roman Catholic, Lutheran) celebrate his feast day on 29 December, Eastern-rite on 19 December. The Eastern Orthodox Church and Eastern Catholic Church celebrate the feast day of the "Holy Righteous Prophet and King David" on the Sunday of the Holy Forefathers (two Sundays before the Great Feast of the Nativity of the Lord), when he is commemorated together with other ancestors of Jesus. He is also commemorated on the Sunday after the Nativity, together with Joseph and James, the Brother of the Lord.

In the Qur'an and in the Islamic tradition, David (Arabic داود, Dāwūd) is one of the prophets of Islam, to whom the Zabur (Psalms) were revealed by God. The Islamic tradition includes many elements from the Jewish history of David, such as his battle with the giant Goliath, but rejects the Biblical portrayal of David as an adulterer and murderer - the rejection is based on the goodness of the Prophets of God in Islam (fallible, but to an extent of minor and basic human error) and on the concept of ismah, or the infallibility of the prophets (according to Shia Islam). According to some, but not all Islamic traditions David was not from Judah but from Levi and Aaron.

David also appears in various Hadith (oral traditions derived from those who knew the Prophet Muhammad). In Sahih al-Bukhari and in Abd-Allah ibn Amr he is named as the person whose way of fasting and praying is the most perfect: "God's Apostle (Muhammad) said to me, "The most beloved fasting to God was the fasting of (the Prophet) David who used to fast on alternate days. And the most beloved prayer to God was the prayer of David who used to sleep for (the first) half of the night and pray for 1/3 of it and (again) sleep for a sixth of it." David was also given the most beautiful voice of all mankind, just as Joseph was given the most beautiful appearance. In one hadith, Abu Hurairah narrates that Muhammad said, "The reciting of the Zabur (i.e. Psalms) was made easy for David. He used to order that his riding animals be saddled, and would finish reciting the Zabur before they were saddled." Other hadith relate that David's reading of psalms was so entrancing that fish would leave the sea to listen when he recited, and that it was he who began the building of the Holy Temple, completed by his son Solomon, and which later became the site of Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The biblical account about David comes from the book of Samuel (divided into two books in the Christian tradition), and the book of Chronicles (also divided into two books in the Christian tradition). (Although almost half of the Psalms are headed "A Psalm of David", the headings are later additions). Chronicles, however, merely retells Samuel from a different theological vantage point, and contains little if any information not available there, and the biblical evidence for David is therefore dependent almost exclusively on the material contained in the chapters from 1 Samuel 16 to 1 Kings 2.

According to Ruth 4:18-22, David is the tenth generation descendant from Judah, the fourth son of the patriarch Jacob (Israel). The genealogical line runs as follows: Judah → Pharez → Hezron → Ram → Amminadab → Nahshon → Salmon → Boaz (the husband of Ruth) → Obed → Jesse → David.

The New Testament traces the genealogy of Jesus back to David and Abraham, with three blocks of fourteen "generations" each being similarly schematic. In the ancient world each letter of the alphabet had a numerical value, the value for the name "David" being fourteen: the fourteen "generations" thus underscored Christ's Davidic descent and his identity as the expected Messiah.

David was born in Bethlehem, in the territory of the Tribe of Judah. His father was named Jesse. His mother is not named in the Bible, but the Talmud identifies her as Nitzevet daughter of Adael. David had seven brothers and was the youngest of them all. He had eight wives: Michal, the second daughter of King Saul; Ahinoam the Jezreelite; Abigail the Carmelite, previously wife of Nabal; Maachah, daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur; Haggith; Abital; Eglah; and Bathsheba, previously the wife of Uriah the Hittite.

The Book of Chronicles lists David's sons by various wives and concubines. In Hebron he had six sons 1 Chronicles 3:1-3: Amnon, by Ahinoam; Daniel, by Abigail; Absalom, by Maachah; Adonijah, by Haggith; Shephatiah, by Abital; and Ithream, by Eglah. By Bathsheba, his sons were: Shammua; Shobab; Nathan; and Solomon. His sons born in Jerusalem by other wives included: Ibhar; Elishua; Eliphelet; Nogah; Nepheg; Japhia; Elishama; and Eliada. 2 Samuel 5:14-16 According to 2 Chronicles 11:18, Jerimoth, who is not mentioned in any of the genealogies, is mentioned as another of David's sons. According to 2 Samuel 9:11, David adopted Jonathan's son Mephibosheth as his own.

David also had at least one daughter, Tamar by Maachah, who was raped by Amnon, her half-brother. Her rape leads to Amnon's death. 2 Samuel 13:1-29 Absalom, Amnon's half-brother and Tamar's full-brother, waits two years, then avenges his sister by sending his servants to kill Amnon at a feast to which he had invited all the king's sons. 2 Samuel 13
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