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2 Samuel

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James C. Turro writes: "It is not possible to date with precision the origin of 1-2 Sm. In part, these books undoubtedly contain very old materials, some dating from the first years of the monarchy in Israel. The Narrative of Succession (2 Sm 9-20) is an example of such early documentation. It was probably fixed in written form soon after the events that it narrates took place. The entire work was probably given its definitive shape—allowance amde for some later additions and retouching—shortly before, or during, the Exile. This final restyling was accomplished under D influence, reflected especially in I Sm 2:27-36 and 2 Sm 7." (The Jerome Biblical Commentary, vol. 1, p. 163)

David M. Gunn writes: "Most commonly accepted of the ideas about sources is the view that chaps. 9-20 together with 1 Kings 1-2 was originally a separate document. This 'story of King David' is often referred to as the 'court history' or 'succession narrative,' since some have seen the struggle between David's son to succeed him on the throne as its primary theme. A case has been made for including most of chaps. 2-4 (the war between David and Saul's son Ishbosheth) with this material and possibly part of chaps. 6 (David and Michal) and 7 (the promise of a Davidic dynasty). But where this postulated document originally began is uncertain." (Harper's Bible Commentary, p. 287)

J. Alberto Soggin writes: "The 'succession narrative', II Sam. 9-20 (perhaps preceded by 21.1-14 and ch. 24, cf. the question in 9.1, which is probably a reference to the episode described in 21.1ff., and the beginning of 24.1ff., the form of which is similar to that of 21.1ff.) and I Kings 1-2, is a historiographical work of remarkable importance. After the classic study by L. Rost, the narrative has often been considered to be one of the earliest history writings in the world, if not the earliest. The author is a supreme storyteller and sees history as a series of inter-connected events linked by a chain of cause and effect, and at the same time dominated by the concept of divine recompense. In this sense, then, we have a precursor of Dtr. The narrative begins with a few factual details: David sought to possess the wife of one of his generals, Uriah the Hittite, and did not hesitate to have the latter killed to remove the impediment to his marriage. Now comes retribution: as David has destroyed the family of Uriah, so his own family is to be destroyed by the divine judgment (cf. the speech by the prophet Nathan in II Sam. 12.7-12). The criterion which unifies this historiography is thus the hand of God, who is the real protagonist in the history: he guides it even in its less edifying aspects (cf. also II Sam. 11.27 and 17.14). For the rest, however, we have a secular history and a principle of approach which is fundamental for any scientific history. On the other hand, it has recently been noted that the narrative is rich in elements which by their nature cannot be subjected to historical investigation: not only the concept of divine reward and punishment, an anticipation of Dtr and a feature common to all Near Eastern and Israelite wisdom, which believes in a cosmic order of which Yahweh is the guarantor in Israel, but also other aspects cannot be verified in any way. For example, in v. 9b it is expressly said that there are no witnesses to the conversation between Ammon and his half-sister Tamar (II Sam. 13.10ff.) in the bedroom where the former is pretending to be ill, but the conversation is reported in its entirety. This is a typical example of what we shall be discussing. Thus although the narrative refers to historical events, it is not properly historical, but rather a historical novel which attempts to penetrate into the makeup of the people it describes and which bases its approach on a fundamental theme of wisdom: that no one can escape the laws of the world order which have been laid down by Yahweh. Furthermore, it is a story with an obvious message: that Solomon is the legitimate successor to David and willed by Yahweh. Notwithstanding these reservations, however, it is difficult to deny that the account bears witness to the way in which Israel struggled to gain an understanding of history as a world-wide phenomenon, an interest which we do not find among any other people at this time (with the brief exception of the Hittites)." (Introduction to the Old Testament, pp. 192-193)

Jay G. Williams writes: "The David of Samuel, unlike the David of Chronicles, is hardly a man who spends most of his time worrying about cultic affairs. He is a vigorous general, a virile and sometimes lustful hero, and a keen politician. At the same time, the David of Samuel is a fervently pious man who does more than simply manipulate religion for the benefit of the state. His dancing before the ark in an 'uncovered' state is just one example of his enthusiasm for Yahweh and his cult." (Understanding the Old Testament, pp. 173-174)

Samuel Sandmel writes: "We read in II Samuel 21:19 that the slayer of Goliath was a certain Elkanan. Legend transferred the achievement to David; gowing legend took two forms—the one of making the Goliath incident the occasion for the meeting of Saul and David; the other, since they have presumably met, ascribes it to a development in David's life at the court." (The Hebrew Scriptures, p. 447)

James King West writes: "David's reign not only established the broad patterns for Israel's four centuries of monarchical rule, but produced as well significant and lasting concepts of the divinely appointed role of the king, the nation, and the city of Jerusalem in the future destiny of world history. In southern tradition, most especially, David took a place alongside Abraham and Moses as the recipient of a covenant with Yahweh which assured for his descendants an everlasting kingdom. This comes to expression in II Samuel 7, in Nathan's promise to the king: 'And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.' [II Sam. 7:16] The same theme recurs in the poem of II Samuel 23:1-7 and is reflected in a great many references and allusions in later Old Testament passages, particularly in the royal Psalms. A royal theology developed which was sufficiently bold to refer to the king as God's (adopted) 'son' and 'annointed' (mashiah), and, alongside it, a tradition of Zion (Jerusalem) as God's 'holy hill' and 'resting place forever.' Long after the collapse of the monarchy, the hope continued to live on in the messianic expectation of a future deliverer prince who would reign over God's people from Zion." (Introduction to the Old Testament, pp. 195-196)

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