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Oxford Bible Atlas Contextualizes the stories and lands of the Bible through user-friendly maps and illustrations.

David

The early stories of David tell of the handsome shepherd‐boy anointed by Samuel at Bethlehem (1 Sam. 16: 1–13 ), who played the lyre for Saul (1 Sam. 16: 14–23 ). He famously and remarkably succeeded in defeating the Philistine ‘giant’ Goliath, armed only with a sling and stone (1 Sam. 17: 1–51 ). The narrator in 1 Samuel is at pains to set the scene of this exploit precisely: the Philistines were encamped between Socoh and Azekah at a place (whose exact location is not known) called Ephes‐dammim, and the Israelites in the Valley of Elah (1 Sam. 17: 1–2 ). After David's victory the Israelites pursued the Philistines to two of their cities, Ekron and Gath (1 Sam. 17: 52 ). Thereafter, David, having become Saul's rival, is described as pursuing an unsettled existence in the hill country of Judah, spending time with the priest at Nob (1 Sam. 21: 1–9 ), going to the Philistine king, Achish of Gath (1 Sam. 21: 10–15 ), fleeing to the cave of Adullam (1 Sam. 22: 1 ), and even journeying as far as Moab (1 Sam. 22: 3 ) before returning to Judah. He defeated the Philistines at Keilah (1 Sam. 23: 1–12 ), then fled to the wilderness of Ziph (1 Sam. 23: 14 ), and thence to the wilderness of Maon (1 Sam. 23: 24 ), of Engedi (1 Sam. 24: 1 ), and of Paran (1 Sam. 25: 1 ). He married Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Maon, who had refused to pay ‘protection’ to him (1 Sam. 25: 2–42 ). Subsequently he is described as going over to the Philistines, and being given the city of Ziklag by Achish of Gath (1 Sam. 27: 6 ).

David

The Setting of the Stories of David and Solomon

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When Saul died, the biblical narrative suggests that at first there were rival claims to the succession. At Hebron, David was anointed king of Judah by the people of Judah (2 Sam. 2: 4 ) but at Mahanaim in Transjordan, Saul's sonIsh‐bosheth (Ish‐baal) was declared king by Abner, Saul's commander‐in‐chief (2 Sam. 2: 8–9 ). Their armies came into conflict at the pool of Gibeon (2 Sam. 2: 12–32 ). Abner planned to defect to David, but he was killed by Joab, David's commander (2 Sam. 3 ). Ish‐bosheth was assassinated and his head was brought to David at Hebron (2 Sam. 4 ). David was declared king of all Israel (2 Sam. 5: 1–5 ), the beginning of what came to be known as the ‘United Monarchy’.

David

Jerusalem: aerial view from the south. The City of David was on the hill to the south of the Temple Mount, with the Kidron Valley to the east.

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Zev Radovan, www.BibleLandPictures.com

The first act with which David is credited after being made king of all Israel was the establishment of a new capital city, taking from its previous inhabitants the stronghold of Jerusalem (2 Sam. 5: 6–10 ). For a discussion of the capture of the city, see ‘Jerusalem in the 1st Millennium BCE’ . He subsequently established it as a religious centre by transferring the Ark of the Covenant there from Kiriath‐jearim (2 Sam. 6 ). David is also credited with a succession of victories, securing and expanding his kingdom. The victories were achieved thanks to the existence of a standing army, at whose core were mercenary soldiers whose designations suggest that they may have been Philistines—Cherethites, Pelethites, and Gittites (2 Sam. 8: 18; 15: 18 ). He removed the Philistine threat, driving them from the hill country and pursuing them from Geba to Gezer (2 Sam. 5: 17–25 ). He is accorded victories over neighbouring kingdoms to the south and in Transjordan. The Edomites were defeated in the Valley of Salt and garrisons placed throughout Edom (2 Sam. 8: 13–14 ). The Moabites too were defeated and placed under tribute (2 Sam. 8: 2 ). A victory was won over the cavalry and chariotry of the Aramean (Syrian) king Hadadezer of Zobah, and an army from Damascus who came to Hadadezer's assistance, and tribute was exacted and plunder taken (2 Sam. 8: 3–8 ). The Ammonites sought the assistance of the Arameans of Bethrehob, the Arameans of Zobah, the king of Maacah, and the people of Tob (2 Sam. 10: 6 ), but the Aramean forces were defeated and the alliance with the Ammonites broken (2 Sam. 10: 6–19 ). Subsequently Ammon was attacked, its capital city Rabbah besieged, and the Ammonites set to hard labour (2 Sam. 11: 1; 12: 26–31 ). It is in the context of the fighting against the Ammonites that the story of David's liaison with Bath‐sheba, and the death of her husband, Uriah the Hittite, is set (2 Sam. 11: 2–27 ). It is also suggested that, as David's strength increased, kings of territory further to the north sought to establish friendly relationships with him—King Hiram of Tyre (2 Sam. 5: 11 ) and King Toi of Hamath (2 Sam. 8: 9–11 ). The territory presented as coming under David's control, from the borders of Hamath in the north down to the territory of Edom in the south, seems to reflect an ideal view of the totality of the Promised Land. Ezekiel's vision of the restored land (Ezek. 48 ) envisages the tribes as occupying very much this extent of land. A slightly smaller area is reflected in the description of the territory included in David's census (2 Sam. 24 ). This is described as beginning in Transjordan, from Aroer, just north of the River Arnon, going northward through Gad and Gilead and on to Dan and the region of Tyre and Sidon, and thence southward through the territory to the west of the Jordan, as far south as Beer‐sheba.

The latter part of the account of the reign of David given in 2 Samuel and 1 Kings suggests a time of dissension and uncertainty over who was to succeed. (The account in 1 Chronicles omits this and suggests a smooth transition from David to Solomon.) First his son Absalom had himself declared king in Hebron (2 Sam. 15: 10 ), forcing David to flee to Mahanaim in Transjordan where he was befriended by people from Rabbah, Lo‐debar, and Rogelim (2 Sam. 17: 27–9 ). After Absalom was killed in battle in the ‘forest of Ephraim’ (2 Sam. 18: 6 ), the people of Judah were persuaded to bring David back to Jerusalem (2 Sam. 19 ). But this is presented as having led to dissension with the northern tribes, who revolted at the instigation of a Benjaminite named Sheba, who declared, ‘We have no portion in David, no share in the son of Jesse! Everyone to your tents, O Israel!’ (2 Sam. 20: 1 ). The revolt was put down by Joab, who besieged Sheba in Abel‐beth‐maacah in the far north (2 Sam. 20: 14 ). Then when David was on his very deathbed, another of his sons, Adonijah, sought to take the kingship but was frustrated by the protagonists of Solomon who, according to the account in 1 Kings 1 , finally persuaded David to declare Solomon his successor. (Contrast the brief statement in 1 Chronicles 23: 1 : ‘When David was old and full of days, he made his son Solomon king over Israel.’) Solomon was anointed king at the spring Gihon (1 Kgs. 1: 38–9 ).

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