The Rise of the Unified Monarchy. 2

Biblical material 2

Samuel 4

Ark Narrative. 7

Saul Cycle. 12

History of the Rise of David. 19

Solomon. 32

J Document 34

Psalms. 38

Proverbs – Early. 48

Story of Joseph as Wisdom.. 53

Solomon as Wisdom Teacher 65

Song of Songs. 68

History. 72

Theology. 73

Rise of kingship. 73

Divided Monarchy. 77

History. 77

Egypt 78

Biblical Material 79

900’s BC History for Assyria. 80

900’s BC biblical material 80

800’s BC History. 81

800’s BC biblical material 83

Elijah Cycle. 84

800’s BC continued. 88

Elisha Cycle. 89

700’s BC History. 91

700’s BC biblical material 94

Amos. 96

Hosea. 100

700’s BC continued. 106

Micah before 721 BC.. 108

Isaiah before 721 BC.. 108

Fall of Samaria in 721 BC.. 111

Psalms. 114

Prophetic Activity toward Israel 155

Prophetic Activity toward Judah. 156

Summary of prophetic activity during divided monarchy. 156

Literary matters. 156

Calling of the prophet 157

Prophets and kings. 158

Solidarity and individuality. 159

Personal relation to God. 159

Old Testament morality with a prophetic influence: norms, goods, and motives. 160

Eschatology. 161

Positive Impact of Kingship. 162

Hindu Upanishads. 163


The Rise of the Unified Monarchy

Biblical material

This period began under Saul, David, and Solomon, embracing the years 1020 to 922 BC.  This was also during the Iron Age I (1200-900 BC). One of the fortunate aspects of this period for Israel was that there was no dominate world power at this time.  This left time open for the nation to expand its borders and experience some security, as long as it had the right leadership.

            The biblical texts involved are I Samuel 8 through I Kings 11, a substantial portion of the individual sayings in the Book of Proverbs, and the Song of Solomon.  The J and E documents and court records form the basis of the historical material. The Song of Hannah presupposes the monarchy, but is appears to be a text from its early period.


1 Samuel 2:1-10 (NRSV)

Hannah’s Prayer

(Cp Lk 1.46—55)

2 Hannah prayed and said,

“My heart exults in the Lord;

my strength is exalted in my God.

My mouth derides my enemies,

because I rejoice in my victory.

2 “There is no Holy One like the Lord,

no one besides you;

there is no Rock like our God.

3 Talk no more so very proudly,

let not arrogance come from your mouth;

for the Lord is a God of knowledge,

and by him actions are weighed.

4 The bows of the mighty are broken,

but the feeble gird on strength.

5 Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread,

but those who were hungry are fat with spoil.

The barren has borne seven,

but she who has many children is forlorn.

6 The Lord kills and brings to life;

he brings down to Sheol and raises up.

7 The Lord makes poor and makes rich;

he brings low, he also exalts.

8 He raises up the poor from the dust;

he lifts the needy from the ash heap,

to make them sit with princes

and inherit a seat of honor.

For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s,

and on them he has set the world.

9 “He will guard the feet of his faithful ones,

but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness;

for not by might does one prevail.

10 The Lord! His adversaries shall be shattered;

the Most High will thunder in heaven.

The Lord will judge the ends of the earth;

he will give strength to his king,

and exalt the power of his anointed.”


            The story of the united monarchy is contained in Samuel.  The oldest narratives concern the following texts. There is some editing in the exilic period, though very little.

            The story begins with Eli and Samuel. The sins of Eli, the lack of family control by this priest, becomes quite clear.


1 Samuel 2:12-17 (NRSV)

12 Now the sons of Eli were scoundrels; they had no regard for the Lord 13 or for the duties of the priests to the people. When anyone offered sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come, while the meat was boiling, with a three-pronged fork in his hand, 14 and he would thrust it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; all that the fork brought up the priest would take for himself. This is what they did at Shiloh to all the Israelites who came there. 15 Moreover, before the fat was burned, the priest’s servant would come and say to the one who was sacrificing, “Give meat for the priest to roast; for he will not accept boiled meat from you, but only raw.” 16 And if the man said to him, “Let them burn the fat first, and then take whatever you wish,” he would say, “No, you must give it now; if not, I will take it by force.” 17 Thus the sin of the young men was very great in the sight of the Lord; for they treated the offerings of the Lord with contempt.

1 Samuel 2:22-25 (NRSV)

Prophecy against Eli’s Household

22 Now Eli was very old. He heard all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 23 He said to them, “Why do you do such things? For I hear of your evil dealings from all these people. 24 No, my sons; it is not a good report that I hear the people of the Lord spreading abroad. 25 If one person sins against another, someone can intercede for the sinner with the Lord; but if someone sins against the Lord, who can make intercession?” But they would not listen to the voice of their father; for it was the will of the Lord to kill them.

1 Samuel 4:12-18 (NRSV)

Death of Eli

12 A man of Benjamin ran from the battle line, and came to Shiloh the same day, with his clothes torn and with earth upon his head. 13 When he arrived, Eli was sitting upon his seat by the road watching, for his heart trembled for the ark of God. When the man came into the city and told the news, all the city cried out. 14 When Eli heard the sound of the outcry, he said, “What is this uproar?” Then the man came quickly and told Eli. 15 Now Eli was ninety-eight years old and his eyes were set, so that he could not see. 16 The man said to Eli, “I have just come from the battle; I fled from the battle today.” He said, “How did it go, my son?” 17 The messenger replied, “Israel has fled before the Philistines, and there has also been a great slaughter among the troops; your two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God has been captured.” 18 When he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell over backward from his seat by the side of the gate; and his neck was broken and he died, for he was an old man, and heavy. He had judged Israel forty years.



            We find an account of the childhood of Samuel, one that offers an early honoring of the prophet/judge. I am not sure of the date of this material.


1 Samuel 1:9-28 (NRSV)

9 After they had eaten and drunk at Shiloh, Hannah rose and presented herself before the Lord. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. 10 She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord, and wept bitterly. 11 She made this vow: “O Lord of hosts, if only you will look on the misery of your servant, and remember me, and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a male child, then I will set him before you as a nazirite until the day of his death. He shall drink neither wine nor intoxicants,and no razor shall touch his head.”

12 As she continued praying before the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. 13 Hannah was praying silently; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard; therefore Eli thought she was drunk. 14 So Eli said to her, “How long will you make a drunken spectacle of yourself? Put away your wine.” 15 But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman deeply troubled; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. 16 Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation all this time.” 17 Then Eli answered, “Go in peace; the God of Israel grant the petition you have made to him.” 18 And she said, “Let your servant find favor in your sight.” Then the woman went to her quarters, ate and drank with her husband,and her countenance was sad no longer.

19 They rose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord; then they went back to their house at Ramah. Elkanah knew his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her. 20 In due time Hannah conceived and bore a son. She named him Samuel, for she said, “I have asked him of the Lord.”

21 The man Elkanah and all his household went up to offer to the Lord the yearly sacrifice, and to pay his vow. 22 But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, “As soon as the child is weaned, I will bring him, that he may appear in the presence of the Lord, and remain there forever; I will offer him as a nazirite for all time.” 23 Her husband Elkanah said to her, “Do what seems best to you, wait until you have weaned him; only—may the Lord establish his word.” So the woman remained and nursed her son, until she weaned him. 24 When she had weaned him, she took him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine. She brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh; and the child was young. 25 Then they slaughtered the bull, and they brought the child to Eli. 26 And she said, “Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the Lord. 27 For this child I prayed; and the Lord has granted me the petition that I made to him. 28 Therefore I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he lives, he is given to the Lord.”

She left him there forthe Lord.

1 Samuel 2:18-21 (NRSV)

The Child Samuel at Shiloh

18 Samuel was ministering before the Lord, a boy wearing a linen ephod. 19 His mother used to make for him a little robe and take it to him each year, when she went up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice. 20 Then Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, and say, “May the Lord repay you with children by this woman for the gift that she made tothe Lord”; and then they would return to their home.

21 And the Lord took note of Hannah; she conceived and bore three sons and two daughters. And the boy Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord.

1 Samuel 3:1-4:1 (NRSV)

Samuel’s Calling and Prophetic Activity

3 Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread.

2 At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room; 3 the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. 4 Then the Lord called, “Samuel! Samuel!” and he said, “Here I am!” 5 and ran to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” So he went and lay down. 6 The Lord called again, “Samuel!” Samuel got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” 7 Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. 8 The Lord called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. 9 Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’ ” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

10 Now the Lord came and stood there, calling as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” 11 Then the Lord said to Samuel, “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make both ears of anyone who hears of it tingle. 12 On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. 13 For I have told him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them. 14 Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be expiated by sacrifice or offering forever.”

15 Samuel lay there until morning; then he opened the doors of the house of the Lord. Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli. 16 But Eli called Samuel and said, “Samuel, my son.” He said, “Here I am.” 17 Eli said, “What was it that he told you? Do not hide it from me. May God do so to you and more also, if you hide anything from me of all that he told you.” 18 So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. Then he said, “It is the Lord; let him do what seems good to him.”

19 As Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. 20 And all Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba knew that Samuel was a trustworthy prophet of the Lord. 21 The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord.4 1 And the word of Samuel came to all Israel.


Samuel then becomes involved in the transition from judges to kings.


1 Samuel 8 (NRSV)

Israel Demands a King

8 When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel. 2 The name of his firstborn son was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beer-sheba. 3 Yet his sons did not follow in his ways, but turned aside after gain; they took bribes and perverted justice.

4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, 5 and said to him, “You are old and your sons do not follow in your ways; appoint for us, then, a king to govern us, like other nations.” 6 But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to govern us.” Samuel prayed to the Lord, 7 and the Lord said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. 8 Just as they have done to me, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so also they are doing to you. 9 Now then, listen to their voice; only—you shall solemnly warn them, and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.”

10 So Samuel reported all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen, and to run before his chariots; 12 and he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his courtiers. 15 He will take one-tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and his courtiers. 16 He will take your male and female slaves, and the best of your cattle and donkeys, and put them to his work. 17 He will take one-tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. 18 And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves; but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”

Israel’s Request for a King Granted

19 But the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel; they said, “No! but we are determined to have a king over us, 20 so that we also may be like other nations, and that our king may govern us and go out before us and fight our battles.” 21 When Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the ears of the Lord. 22 The Lord said to Samuel, “Listen to their voice and set a king over them.” Samuel then said to the people of Israel, “Each of you return home.”


Ark Narrative 

Ark in I Samuel 4:lb-7:1, II Samuel 2:12-17, 22-25, 4:lb­7:1, and II Samuel 6.


1 Samuel 4:1-7:1 (NRSV)

4 1 The Ark of God Captured

In those days the Philistines mustered for war against Israel,and Israel went out to battle against them; they encamped at Ebenezer, and the Philistines encamped at Aphek. 2 The Philistines drew up in line against Israel, and when the battle was joined, Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who killed about four thousand men on the field of battle. 3 When the troops came to the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why has the Lord put us to rout today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord here from Shiloh, so that he may come among us and save us from the power of our enemies.” 4 So the people sent to Shiloh, and brought from there the ark of the covenant of the Lord of hosts, who is enthroned on the cherubim. The two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.

5 When the ark of the covenant of the Lord came into the camp, all Israel gave a mighty shout, so that the earth resounded. 6 When the Philistines heard the noise of the shouting, they said, “What does this great shouting in the camp of the Hebrews mean?” When they learned that the ark of the Lord had come to the camp, 7 the Philistines were afraid; for they said, “Gods have come into the camp.” They also said, “Woe to us! For nothing like this has happened before. 8 Woe to us! Who can deliver us from the power of these mighty gods? These are the gods who struck the Egyptians with every sort of plague in the wilderness. 9 Take courage, and be men, O Philistines, in order not to become slaves to the Hebrews as they have been to you; be men and fight.”

10 So the Philistines fought; Israel was defeated, and they fled, everyone to his home. There was a very great slaughter, for there fell of Israel thirty thousand foot soldiers. 11 The ark of God was captured; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, died.

Death of Eli

12 A man of Benjamin ran from the battle line, and came to Shiloh the same day, with his clothes torn and with earth upon his head. 13 When he arrived, Eli was sitting upon his seat by the road watching, for his heart trembled for the ark of God. When the man came into the city and told the news, all the city cried out. 14 When Eli heard the sound of the outcry, he said, “What is this uproar?” Then the man came quickly and told Eli. 15 Now Eli was ninety-eight years old and his eyes were set, so that he could not see. 16 The man said to Eli, “I have just come from the battle; I fled from the battle today.” He said, “How did it go, my son?” 17 The messenger replied, “Israel has fled before the Philistines, and there has also been a great slaughter among the troops; your two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God has been captured.” 18 When he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell over backward from his seat by the side of the gate; and his neck was broken and he died, for he was an old man, and heavy. He had judged Israel forty years.

19 Now his daughter-in-law, the wife of Phinehas, was pregnant, about to give birth. When she heard the news that the ark of God was captured, and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she bowed and gave birth; for her labor pains overwhelmed her. 20 As she was about to die, the women attending her said to her, “Do not be afraid, for you have borne a son.” But she did not answer or give heed. 21 She named the child Ichabod, meaning, “The glory has departed from Israel,” because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband. 22 She said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.”

The Philistines and the Ark

5 When the Philistines captured the ark of God, they brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod; 2 then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it into the house of Dagon and placed it beside Dagon. 3 When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face to the ground before the ark of the Lord. So they took Dagon and put him back in his place. 4 But when they rose early on the next morning, Dagon had fallen on his face to the ground before the ark of the Lord, and the head of Dagon and both his hands were lying cut off upon the threshold; only the trunk of Dagon was left to him. 5 This is why the priests of Dagon and all who enter the house of Dagon do not step on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod to this day.

6 The hand of the Lord was heavy upon the people of Ashdod, and he terrified and struck them with tumors, both in Ashdod and in its territory. 7 And when the inhabitants of Ashdod saw how things were, they said, “The ark of the God of Israel must not remain with us; for his hand is heavy on us and on our god Dagon.” 8 So they sent and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines, and said, “What shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel?” The inhabitants of Gath replied, “Let the ark of God be moved on to us.” So they moved the ark of the God of Israel to Gath. 9 But after they had brought it to Gath, the hand of the Lord was against the city, causing a very great panic; he struck the inhabitants of the city, both young and old, so that tumors broke out on them. 10 So they sent the ark of the God of Israel to Ekron. But when the ark of God came to Ekron, the people of Ekron cried out, “Why have they brought around to us the ark of the God of Israel to kill us and our people?” 11 They sent therefore and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines, and said, “Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it return to its own place, that it may not kill us and our people.” For there was a deathly panic throughout the whole city. The hand of God was very heavy there; 12 those who did not die were stricken with tumors, and the cry of the city went up to heaven.

The Ark Returned to Israel

6 The ark of the Lord was in the country of the Philistines seven months. 2 Then the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners and said, “What shall we do with the ark of the Lord? Tell us what we should send with it to its place.” 3 They said, “If you send away the ark of the God of Israel, do not send it empty, but by all means return him a guilt offering. Then you will be healed and will be ransomed; will not his hand then turn from you?” 4 And they said, “What is the guilt offering that we shall return to him?” They answered, “Five gold tumors and five gold mice, according to the number of the lords of the Philistines; for the same plague was upon all of you and upon your lords. 5 So you must make images of your tumors and images of your mice that ravage the land, and give glory to the God of Israel; perhaps he will lighten his hand on you and your gods and your land. 6 Why should you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? After he had made fools of them, did they not let the people go, and they departed? 7 Now then, get ready a new cart and two milch cows that have never borne a yoke, and yoke the cows to the cart, but take their calves home, away from them. 8 Take the ark of the Lord and place it on the cart, and put in a box at its side the figures of gold, which you are returning to him as a guilt offering. Then send it off, and let it go its way. 9 And watch; if it goes up on the way to its own land, to Beth-shemesh, then it is he who has done us this great harm; but if not, then we shall know that it is not his hand that struck us; it happened to us by chance.”

10 The men did so; they took two milch cows and yoked them to the cart, and shut up their calves at home. 11 They put the ark of the Lord on the cart, and the box with the gold mice and the images of their tumors. 12 The cows went straight in the direction of Beth-shemesh along one highway, lowing as they went; they turned neither to the right nor to the left, and the lords of the Philistines went after them as far as the border of Beth-shemesh.

13 Now the people of Beth-shemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley. When they looked up and saw the ark, they went with rejoicing to meet it. 14 The cart came into the field of Joshua of Beth-shemesh, and stopped there. A large stone was there; so they split up the wood of the cart and offered the cows as a burnt offering to the Lord. 15 The Levites took down the ark of the Lord and the box that was beside it, in which were the gold objects, and set them upon the large stone. Then the people of Beth-shemesh offered burnt offerings and presented sacrifices on that day to the Lord. 16 When the five lords of the Philistines saw it, they returned that day to Ekron.

17 These are the gold tumors, which the Philistines returned as a guilt offering to the Lord: one for Ashdod, one for Gaza, one for Ashkelon, one for Gath, one for Ekron; 18 also the gold mice, according to the number of all the cities of the Philistines belonging to the five lords, both fortified cities and unwalled villages. The great stone, beside which they set down the ark of the Lord, is a witness to this day in the field of Joshua of Beth-shemesh.

The Ark at Kiriath-jearim

19 The descendants of Jeconiah did not rejoice with the people of Beth-shemesh when they greeted the ark of the Lord; and he killed seventy men of them.The people mourned because the Lord had made a great slaughter among the people. 20 Then the people of Beth-shemesh said, “Who is able to stand before the Lord, this holy God? To whom shall he go so that we may be rid of him?” 21 So they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kiriath-jearim, saying, “The Philistines have returned the ark of the Lord. Come down and take it up to you.”7 1 And the people of Kiriath-jearim came and took up the ark of the Lord, and brought it to the house of Abinadab on the hill. They consecrated his son, Eleazar, to have charge of the ark of the Lord.

2 Samuel 6 (NRSV)

David Brings the Ark to Jerusalem

(1 Chr 13.1—14; 15.25—16.3)

6 David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. 2 David and all the people with him set out and went from Baale-judah, to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the Lord of hosts who is enthroned on the cherubim. 3 They carried the ark of God on a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were driving the new cart 4 with the ark of God; and Ahiowent in front of the ark. 5 David and all the house of Israel were dancing before the Lord with all their might, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals.

6 When they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen shook it. 7 The anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah; and God struck him there because he reached out his hand to the ark; and he died there beside the ark of God. 8 David was angry because the Lord had burst forth with an outburst upon Uzzah; so that place is called Perez-uzzah, to this day. 9 David was afraid of the Lord that day; he said, “How can the ark of the Lord come into my care?” 10 So David was unwilling to take the ark of the Lord into his care in the city of David; instead David took it to the house of Obed-edom the Gittite. 11 The ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite three months; and the Lord blessed Obed-edom and all his household.

12 It was told King David, “The Lord has blessed the household of Obed-edom and all that belongs to him, because of the ark of God.” So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom to the city of David with rejoicing; 13 and when those who bore the ark of the Lord had gone six paces, he sacrificed an ox and a fatling. 14 David danced before the Lord with all his might; David was girded with a linen ephod. 15 So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet.

16 As the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, Michal daughter of Saul looked out of the window, and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart.

17 They brought in the ark of the Lord, and set it in its place, inside the tent that David had pitched for it; and David offered burnt offerings and offerings of well-being before the Lord. 18 When David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the offerings of well-being, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord of hosts, 19 and distributed food among all the people, the whole multitude of Israel, both men and women, to each a cake of bread, a portion of meat, and a cake of raisins. Then all the people went back to their homes.

20 David returned to bless his household. But Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, “How the king of Israel honored himself today, uncovering himself today before the eyes of his servants’ maids, as any vulgar fellow might shamelessly uncover himself!” 21 David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me in place of your father and all his household, to appoint me as prince over Israel, the people of the Lord, that I have danced before the Lord. 22 I will make myself yet more contemptible than this, and I will be abased in my own eyes; but by the maids of whom you have spoken, by them I shall be held in honor.” 23 And Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death.


Saul Cycle

The Saul cycle of stories goes from I Samuel 9:1-10:16, 11:1-15, 13:2-7a, 13:15b-23, 14:1-46. The Saul cycle in I Samuel 9:1-10:16, 10:27b-11:15, 13:2­7a, 15b-23, 14:1-46, is ancient, telling about his family and relation to Samuel, victory over the Ammonites in 1050 BC, revolt against Philistines, preparing for battle, Jonathan leading a battle against them. Ultimately, the history makes it clear that Saul is rejected in favor of David. 


1 Samuel 9:1-10:16 (NRSV)

Saul Chosen to Be King

9 There was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish son of Abiel son of Zeror son of Becorath son of Aphiah, a Benjaminite, a man of wealth. 2 He had a son whose name was Saul, a handsome young man. There was not a man among the people of Israel more handsome than he; he stood head and shoulders above everyone else.

3 Now the donkeys of Kish, Saul’s father, had strayed. So Kish said to his son Saul, “Take one of the boys with you; go and look for the donkeys.” 4 He passed through the hill country of Ephraim and passed through the land of Shalishah, but they did not find them. And they passed through the land of Shaalim, but they were not there. Then he passed through the land of Benjamin, but they did not find them.

5 When they came to the land of Zuph, Saul said to the boy who was with him, “Let us turn back, or my father will stop worrying about the donkeys and worry about us.” 6 But he said to him, “There is a man of God in this town; he is a man held in honor. Whatever he says always comes true. Let us go there now; perhaps he will tell us about the journey on which we have set out.” 7 Then Saul replied to the boy, “But if we go, what can we bring the man? For the bread in our sacks is gone, and there is no present to bring to the man of God. What have we?” 8 The boy answered Saul again, “Here, I have with me a quarter shekel of silver; I will give it to the man of God, to tell us our way.” 9 (Formerly in Israel, anyone who went to inquire of God would say, “Come, let us go to the seer”; for the one who is now called a prophet was formerly called a seer.) 10 Saul said to the boy, “Good; come, let us go.” So they went to the town where the man of God was.

11 As they went up the hill to the town, they met some girls coming out to draw water, and said to them, “Is the seer here?” 12 They answered, “Yes, there he is just ahead of you. Hurry; he has come just now to the town, because the people have a sacrifice today at the shrine. 13 As soon as you enter the town, you will find him, before he goes up to the shrine to eat. For the people will not eat until he comes, since he must bless the sacrifice; afterward those eat who are invited. Now go up, for you will meet him immediately.” 14 So they went up to the town. As they were entering the town, they saw Samuel coming out toward them on his way up to the shrine.

15 Now the day before Saul came, the Lord had revealed to Samuel: 16 “Tomorrow about this time I will send to you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him to be ruler over my people Israel. He shall save my people from the hand of the Philistines; for I have seen the suffering of my people, because their outcry has come to me.” 17 When Samuel saw Saul, the Lord told him, “Here is the man of whom I spoke to you. He it is who shall rule over my people.” 18 Then Saul approached Samuel inside the gate, and said, “Tell me, please, where is the house of the seer?” 19 Samuel answered Saul, “I am the seer; go up before me to the shrine, for today you shall eat with me, and in the morning I will let you go and will tell you all that is on your mind. 20 As for your donkeys that were lost three days ago, give no further thought to them, for they have been found. And on whom is all Israel’s desire fixed, if not on you and on all your ancestral house?” 21 Saul answered, “I am only a Benjaminite, from the least of the tribes of Israel, and my family is the humblest of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin. Why then have you spoken to me in this way?”

22 Then Samuel took Saul and his servant-boy and brought them into the hall, and gave them a place at the head of those who had been invited, of whom there were about thirty. 23 And Samuel said to the cook, “Bring the portion I gave you, the one I asked you to put aside.” 24 The cook took up the thigh and what went with it and set them before Saul. Samuel said, “See, what was kept is set before you. Eat; for it is setbefore you at the appointed time, so that you might eat with the guests.”

So Saul ate with Samuel that day. 25 When they came down from the shrine into the town, a bed was spread for Saul on the roof, and he lay down to sleep. 26 Then at the break of dawn Samuel called to Saul upon the roof, “Get up, so that I may send you on your way.” Saul got up, and both he and Samuel went out into the street.

Samuel Anoints Saul

27 As they were going down to the outskirts of the town, Samuel said to Saul, “Tell the boy to go on before us, and when he has passed on, stop here yourself for a while, that I may make known to you the word of God.”10 1 Samuel took a vial of oil and poured it on his head, and kissed him; he said, “The Lord has anointed you ruler over his people Israel. You shall reign over the people of the Lord and you will save them from the hand of their enemies all around. Now this shall be the sign to you that the Lord has anointed you ruler over his heritage: 2 When you depart from me today you will meet two men by Rachel’s tomb in the territory of Benjamin at Zelzah; they will say to you, ‘The donkeys that you went to seek are found, and now your father has stopped worrying about them and is worrying about you, saying: What shall I do about my son?’ 3 Then you shall go on from there further and come to the oak of Tabor; three men going up to God at Bethel will meet you there, one carrying three kids, another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a skin of wine. 4 They will greet you and give you two loaves of bread, which you shall accept from them. 5 After that you shall come to Gibeath-elohim, at the place where the Philistine garrison is; there, as you come to the town, you will meet a band of prophets coming down from the shrine with harp, tambourine, flute, and lyre playing in front of them; they will be in a prophetic frenzy. 6 Then the spirit of the Lord will possess you, and you will be in a prophetic frenzy along with them and be turned into a different person. 7 Now when these signs meet you, do whatever you see fit to do, for God is with you. 8 And you shall go down to Gilgal ahead of me; then I will come down to you to present burnt offerings and offer sacrifices of well-being. Seven days you shall wait, until I come to you and show you what you shall do.”

Saul Prophesies

9 As he turned away to leave Samuel, God gave him another heart; and all these signs were fulfilled that day. 10 When they were going from there to Gibeah,a band of prophets met him; and the spirit of God possessed him, and he fell into a prophetic frenzy along with them. 11 When all who knew him before saw how he prophesied with the prophets, the people said to one another, “What has come over the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?” 12 A man of the place answered, “And who is their father?” Therefore it became a proverb, “Is Saul also among the prophets?” 13 When his prophetic frenzy had ended, he went home.

14 Saul’s uncle said to him and to the boy, “Where did you go?” And he replied, “To seek the donkeys; and when we saw they were not to be found, we went to Samuel.” 15 Saul’s uncle said, “Tell me what Samuel said to you.” 16 Saul said to his uncle, “He told us that the donkeys had been found.” But about the matter of the kingship, of which Samuel had spoken, he did not tell him anything.

1 Samuel 10:27-11:15 (NRSV)

27 But some worthless fellows said, “How can this man save us?” They despised him and brought him no present. But he held his peace.

Now Nahash, king of the Ammonites, had been grievously oppressing the Gadites and the Reubenites. He would gouge out the right eye of each of them and would not grant Israel a deliverer. No one was left of the Israelites across the Jordan whose right eye Nahash, king of the Ammonites, had not gouged out. But there were seven thousand men who had escaped from the Ammonites and had entered Jabesh-gilead.

Saul Defeats the Ammonites

11 About a month later, Nahash the Ammonite went up and besieged Jabesh-gilead; and all the men of Jabesh said to Nahash, “Make a treaty with us, and we will serve you.” 2 But Nahash the Ammonite said to them, “On this condition I will make a treaty with you, namely that I gouge out everyone’s right eye, and thus put disgrace upon all Israel.” 3 The elders of Jabesh said to him, “Give us seven days’ respite that we may send messengers through all the territory of Israel. Then, if there is no one to save us, we will give ourselves up to you.” 4 When the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul, they reported the matter in the hearing of the people; and all the people wept aloud.

5 Now Saul was coming from the field behind the oxen; and Saul said, “What is the matter with the people, that they are weeping?” So they told him the message from the inhabitants of Jabesh. 6 And the spirit of God came upon Saul in power when he heard these words, and his anger was greatly kindled. 7 He took a yoke of oxen, and cut them in pieces and sent them throughout all the territory of Israel by messengers, saying, “Whoever does not come out after Saul and Samuel, so shall it be done to his oxen!” Then the dread of the Lord fell upon the people, and they came out as one. 8 When he mustered them at Bezek, those from Israel were three hundred thousand, and those from Judah seventy thousand. 9 They said to the messengers who had come, “Thus shall you say to the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead: ‘Tomorrow, by the time the sun is hot, you shall have deliverance.’ ” When the messengers came and told the inhabitants of Jabesh, they rejoiced. 10 So the inhabitants of Jabesh said, “Tomorrow we will give ourselves up to you, and you may do to us whatever seems good to you.” 11 The next day Saul put the people in three companies. At the morning watch they came into the camp and cut down the Ammonites until the heat of the day; and those who survived were scattered, so that no two of them were left together.

12 The people said to Samuel, “Who is it that said, ‘Shall Saul reign over us?’ Give them to us so that we may put them to death.” 13 But Saul said, “No one shall be put to death this day, for today the Lord has brought deliverance to Israel.”

14 Samuel said to the people, “Come, let us go to Gilgal and there renew the kingship.” 15 So all the people went to Gilgal, and there they made Saul king before the Lord in Gilgal. There they sacrificed offerings of well-being before the Lord, and there Saul and all the Israelites rejoiced greatly.

1 Samuel 13:2-7 (NRSV)

2 Saul chose three thousand out of Israel; two thousand were with Saul in Michmash and the hill country of Bethel, and a thousand were with Jonathan in Gibeah of Benjamin; the rest of the people he sent home to their tents. 3 Jonathan defeated the garrison of the Philistines that was at Geba; and the Philistines heard of it. And Saul blew the trumpet throughout all the land, saying, “Let the Hebrews hear!” 4 When all Israel heard that Saul had defeated the garrison of the Philistines, and also that Israel had become odious to the Philistines, the people were called out to join Saul at Gilgal.

5 The Philistines mustered to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots, and six thousand horsemen, and troops like the sand on the seashore in multitude; they came up and encamped at Michmash, to the east of Beth-aven. 6 When the Israelites saw that they were in distress (for the troops were hard pressed), the people hid themselves in caves and in holes and in rocks and in tombs and in cisterns. 7 Some Hebrews crossed the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. Saul was still at Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling.

1 Samuel 13:15-23 (NRSV)

15 And Samuel left and went on his way from Gilgal. The rest of the people followed Saul to join the army; they went up from Gilgal toward Gibeah of Benjamin.

Preparations for Battle

Saul counted the people who were present with him, about six hundred men. 16 Saul, his son Jonathan, and the people who were present with them stayed in Geba of Benjamin; but the Philistines encamped at Michmash. 17 And raiders came out of the camp of the Philistines in three companies; one company turned toward Ophrah, to the land of Shual, 18 another company turned toward Beth-horon, and another company turned toward the mountain that looks down upon the valley of Zeboim toward the wilderness.

19 Now there was no smith to be found throughout all the land of Israel; for the Philistines said, “The Hebrews must not make swords or spears for themselves”; 20 so all the Israelites went down to the Philistines to sharpen their plowshares, mattocks, axes, or sickles; 21 The charge was two-thirds of a shekel for the plowshares and for the mattocks, and one-third of a shekel for sharpening the axes and for setting the goads. 22 So on the day of the battle neither sword nor spear was to be found in the possession of any of the people with Saul and Jonathan; but Saul and his son Jonathan had them.

Jonathan Surprises and Routs the Philistines

23 Now a garrison of the Philistines had gone out to the pass of Michmash.

1 Samuel 14:1-46 (NRSV)

14 1 One day Jonathan son of Saul said to the young man who carried his armor, “Come, let us go over to the Philistine garrison on the other side.” But he did not tell his father. 2 Saul was staying in the outskirts of Gibeah under the pomegranate tree that is at Migron; the troops that were with him were about six hundred men, 3 along with Ahijah son of Ahitub, Ichabod’s brother, son of Phinehas son of Eli, the priest of the Lord in Shiloh, carrying an ephod. Now the people did not know that Jonathan had gone. 4 In the pass, by which Jonathan tried to go over to the Philistine garrison, there was a rocky crag on one side and a rocky crag on the other; the name of the one was Bozez, and the name of the other Seneh. 5 One crag rose on the north in front of Michmash, and the other on the south in front of Geba.

6 Jonathan said to the young man who carried his armor, “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; it may be that the Lord will act for us; for nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few.” 7 His armor-bearer said to him, “Do all that your mind inclines to. I am with you; as your mind is, so is mine.” 8 Then Jonathan said, “Now we will cross over to those men and will show ourselves to them. 9 If they say to us, ‘Wait until we come to you,’ then we will stand still in our place, and we will not go up to them. 10 But if they say, ‘Come up to us,’ then we will go up; for the Lord has given them into our hand. That will be the sign for us.” 11 So both of them showed themselves to the garrison of the Philistines; and the Philistines said, “Look, Hebrews are coming out of the holes where they have hidden themselves.” 12 The men of the garrison hailed Jonathan and his armor-bearer, saying, “Come up to us, and we will show you something.” Jonathan said to his armor-bearer, “Come up after me; for the Lord has given them into the hand of Israel.” 13 Then Jonathan climbed up on his hands and feet, with his armor-bearer following after him. The Philistines fell before Jonathan, and his armor-bearer, coming after him, killed them. 14 In that first slaughter Jonathan and his armor-bearer killed about twenty men within an area about half a furrow long in an acre of land. 15 There was a panic in the camp, in the field, and among all the people; the garrison and even the raiders trembled; the earth quaked; and it became a very great panic.

16 Saul’s lookouts in Gibeah of Benjamin were watching as the multitude was surging back and forth. 17 Then Saul said to the troops that were with him, “Call the roll and see who has gone from us.” When they had called the roll, Jonathan and his armor-bearer were not there. 18 Saul said to Ahijah, “Bring the ark of God here.” For at that time the arkof God went with the Israelites. 19 While Saul was talking to the priest, the tumult in the camp of the Philistines increased more and more; and Saul said to the priest, “Withdraw your hand.” 20 Then Saul and all the people who were with him rallied and went into the battle; and every sword was against the other, so that there was very great confusion. 21 Now the Hebrews who previously had been with the Philistines and had gone up with them into the camp turned and joined the Israelites who were with Saul and Jonathan. 22 Likewise, when all the Israelites who had gone into hiding in the hill country of Ephraim heard that the Philistines were fleeing, they too followed closely after them in the battle. 23 So the Lord gave Israel the victory that day.

The battle passed beyond Beth-aven, and the troops with Saul numbered altogether about ten thousand men. The battle spread out over the hill country of Ephraim.

Saul’s Rash Oath

24 Now Saul committed a very rash act on that day. He had laid an oath on the troops, saying, “Cursed be anyone who eats food before it is evening and I have been avenged on my enemies.” So none of the troops tasted food. 25 All the troops came upon a honeycomb; and there was honey on the ground. 26 When the troops came upon the honeycomb, the honey was dripping out; but they did not put their hands to their mouths, for they feared the oath. 27 But Jonathan had not heard his father charge the troops with the oath; so he extended the staff that was in his hand, and dipped the tip of it in the honeycomb, and put his hand to his mouth; and his eyes brightened. 28 Then one of the soldiers said, “Your father strictly charged the troops with an oath, saying, ‘Cursed be anyone who eats food this day.’ And so the troops are faint.” 29 Then Jonathan said, “My father has troubled the land; see how my eyes have brightened because I tasted a little of this honey. 30 How much better if today the troops had eaten freely of the spoil taken from their enemies; for now the slaughter among the Philistines has not been great.”

31 After they had struck down the Philistines that day from Michmash to Aijalon, the troops were very faint; 32 so the troops flew upon the spoil, and took sheep and oxen and calves, and slaughtered them on the ground; and the troops ate them with the blood. 33 Then it was reported to Saul, “Look, the troops are sinning against the Lord by eating with the blood.” And he said, “You have dealt treacherously; roll a large stone before me here.” 34 Saul said, “Disperse yourselves among the troops, and say to them, ‘Let all bring their oxen or their sheep, and slaughter them here, and eat; and do not sin against the Lord by eating with the blood.’ ” So all of the troops brought their oxen with them that night, and slaughtered them there. 35 And Saul built an altar to the Lord; it was the first altar that he built to the Lord.

Jonathan in Danger of Death

36 Then Saul said, “Let us go down after the Philistines by night and despoil them until the morning light; let us not leave one of them.” They said, “Do whatever seems good to you.” But the priest said, “Let us draw near to God here.” 37 So Saul inquired of God, “Shall I go down after the Philistines? Will you give them into the hand of Israel?” But he did not answer him that day. 38 Saul said, “Come here, all you leaders of the people; and let us find out how this sin has arisen today. 39 For as the Lord lives who saves Israel, even if it is in my son Jonathan, he shall surely die!” But there was no one among all the people who answered him. 40 He said to all Israel, “You shall be on one side, and I and my son Jonathan will be on the other side.” The people said to Saul, “Do what seems good to you.” 41 Then Saul said, “O Lord God of Israel, why have you not answered your servant today? If this guilt is in me or in my son Jonathan, O Lord God of Israel, give Urim; but if this guilt is in your people Israel, give Thummim.” And Jonathan and Saul were indicated by the lot, but the people were cleared. 42 Then Saul said, “Cast the lot between me and my son Jonathan.” And Jonathan was taken.

43 Then Saul said to Jonathan, “Tell me what you have done.” Jonathan told him, “I tasted a little honey with the tip of the staff that was in my hand; here I am, I will die.” 44 Saul said, “God do so to me and more also; you shall surely die, Jonathan!” 45 Then the people said to Saul, “Shall Jonathan die, who has accomplished this great victory in Israel? Far from it! As the Lord lives, not one hair of his head shall fall to the ground; for he has worked with God today.” So the people ransomed Jonathan, and he did not die. 46 Then Saul withdrew from pursuing the Philistines; and the Philistines went to their own place.


History of the Rise of David

The history of David's rise to be king is in I Samuel 16:14-II Samuel 5:10, thereby legitimizing his claim to the throne.  I will limit myself here to texts that seem to originate from this period. We find two accounts of the entry of David into the service of Saul. One is his entry as minstrel and barer of the armor of Saul.


1 Samuel 16:14-23 (NRSV)

David Plays the Lyre for Saul

14 Now the spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him. 15 And Saul’s servants said to him, “See now, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you. 16 Let our lord now command the servants who attend you to look for someone who is skillful in playing the lyre; and when the evil spirit from God is upon you, he will play it, and you will feel better.” 17 So Saul said to his servants, “Provide for me someone who can play well, and bring him to me.” 18 One of the young men answered, “I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite who is skillful in playing, a man of valor, a warrior, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence; and the Lord is with him.” 19 So Saul sent messengers to Jesse, and said, “Send me your son David who is with the sheep.” 20 Jesse took a donkey loaded with bread, a skin of wine, and a kid, and sent them by his son David to Saul. 21 And David came to Saul, and entered his service. Saul loved him greatly, and he became his armor-bearer. 22 Saul sent to Jesse, saying, “Let David remain in my service, for he has found favor in my sight.” 23 And whenever the evil spirit from God came upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it with his hand, and Saul would be relieved and feel better, and the evil spirit would depart from him.

1 Samuel 17:1-11 (NRSV)

David and Goliath

17 Now the Philistines gathered their armies for battle; they were gathered at Socoh, which belongs to Judah, and encamped between Socoh and Azekah, in Ephes-dammim. 2 Saul and the Israelites gathered and encamped in the valley of Elah, and formed ranks against the Philistines. 3 The Philistines stood on the mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on the mountain on the other side, with a valley between them. 4 And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. 5 He had a helmet of bronze on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail; the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. 6 He had greaves of bronze on his legs and a javelin of bronze slung between his shoulders. 7 The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron; and his shield-bearer went before him. 8 He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why have you come out to draw up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. 9 If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants; but if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.” 10 And the Philistine said, “Today I defy the ranks of Israel! Give me a man, that we may fight together.” 11 When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.

1 Samuel 17:32-40 (NRSV)

32 David said to Saul, “Let no one’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” 33 Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are just a boy, and he has been a warrior from his youth.” 34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father; and whenever a lion or a bear came, and took a lamb from the flock, 35 I went after it and struck it down, rescuing the lamb from its mouth; and if it turned against me, I would catch it by the jaw, strike it down, and kill it. 36 Your servant has killed both lions and bears; and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, since he has defied the armies of the living God.” 37 David said, “The Lord, who saved me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, will save me from the hand of this Philistine.” So Saul said to David, “Go, and may the Lord be with you!”

38 Saul clothed David with his armor; he put a bronze helmet on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail. 39 David strapped Saul’s sword over the armor, and he tried in vain to walk, for he was not used to them. Then David said to Saul, “I cannot walk with these; for I am not used to them.” So David removed them. 40 Then he took his staff in his hand, and chose five smooth stones from the wadi, and put them in his shepherd’s bag, in the pouch; his sling was in his hand, and he drew near to the Philistine.

1 Samuel 17:42-48 (NRSV)

42 When the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was only a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance. 43 The Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the field.” 45 But David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword and spear and javelin; but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This very day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head; and I will give the dead bodies of the Philistine army this very day to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the earth, so that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, 47 and that all this assembly may know that the Lord does not save by sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and he will give you into our hand.”

48 When the Philistine drew nearer to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine.

1 Samuel 17:49 (NRSV)

49 David put his hand in his bag, took out a stone, slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead; the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell face down on the ground.

1 Samuel 17:51-54 (NRSV)

51 Then David ran and stood over the Philistine; he grasped his sword, drew it out of its sheath, and killed him; then he cut off his head with it.

When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled. 52 The troops of Israel and Judah rose up with a shout and pursued the Philistines as far as Gath and the gates of Ekron, so that the wounded Philistines fell on the way from Shaaraim as far as Gath and Ekron. 53 The Israelites came back from chasing the Philistines, and they plundered their camp. 54 David took the head of the Philistine and brought it to Jerusalem; but he put his armor in his tent.


We also find a second and later account, in which David distinguishes himself in battle and comes to the attention of Saul. This account shows clearly the deterioration of the mental state of Saul, the friendship of Jonathan and Michal, Saul’s own family, with David, and the beginning of the popularity of David among the people. The two accounts did not come together as the canonical text has them until the 300’s BC.


1 Samuel 17:12-31 (NRSV)

12 Now David was the son of an Ephrathite of Bethlehem in Judah, named Jesse, who had eight sons. In the days of Saul the man was already old and advanced in years. 13 The three eldest sons of Jesse had followed Saul to the battle; the names of his three sons who went to the battle were Eliab the firstborn, and next to him Abinadab, and the third Shammah. 14 David was the youngest; the three eldest followed Saul, 15 but David went back and forth from Saul to feed his father’s sheep at Bethlehem. 16 For forty days the Philistine came forward and took his stand, morning and evening.

17 Jesse said to his son David, “Take for your brothers an ephah of this parched grain and these ten loaves, and carry them quickly to the camp to your brothers; 18 also take these ten cheeses to the commander of their thousand. See how your brothers fare, and bring some token from them.”

19 Now Saul, and they, and all the men of Israel, were in the valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines. 20 David rose early in the morning, left the sheep with a keeper, took the provisions, and went as Jesse had commanded him. He came to the encampment as the army was going forth to the battle line, shouting the war cry. 21 Israel and the Philistines drew up for battle, army against army. 22 David left the things in charge of the keeper of the baggage, ran to the ranks, and went and greeted his brothers. 23 As he talked with them, the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, came up out of the ranks of the Philistines, and spoke the same words as before. And David heard him.

24 All the Israelites, when they saw the man, fled from him and were very much afraid. 25 The Israelites said, “Have you seen this man who has come up? Surely he has come up to defy Israel. The king will greatly enrich the man who kills him, and will give him his daughter and make his family free in Israel.” 26 David said to the men who stood by him, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine, and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” 27 The people answered him in the same way, “So shall it be done for the man who kills him.”

28 His eldest brother Eliab heard him talking to the men; and Eliab’s anger was kindled against David. He said, “Why have you come down? With whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your presumption and the evil of your heart; for you have come down just to see the battle.” 29 David said, “What have I done now? It was only a question.” 30 He turned away from him toward another and spoke in the same way; and the people answered him again as before.

31 When the words that David spoke were heard, they repeated them before Saul; and he sent for him.

1 Samuel 17:41 (NRSV)

41 The Philistine came on and drew near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him.

1 Samuel 17:48 (NRSV)

48 When the Philistine drew nearer to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine.

1 Samuel 17:50 (NRSV)

50 So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, striking down the Philistine and killing him; there was no sword in David’s hand.

1 Samuel 17:55-58 (NRSV)

55 When Saul saw David go out against the Philistine, he said to Abner, the commander of the army, “Abner, whose son is this young man?” Abner said, “As your soul lives, O king, I do not know.” 56 The king said, “Inquire whose son the stripling is.” 57 On David’s return from killing the Philistine, Abner took him and brought him before Saul, with the head of the Philistine in his hand. 58 Saul said to him, “Whose son are you, young man?” And David answered, “I am the son of your servant Jesse the Bethlehemite.”

1 Samuel 18:1-5 (NRSV)

Jonathan’s Covenant with David

18 When David had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was bound to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. 2 Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father’s house. 3 Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. 4 Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that he was wearing, and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt. 5 David went out and was successful wherever Saul sent him; as a result, Saul set him over the army. And all the people, even the servants of Saul, approved.

1 Samuel 18:10-11 (NRSV)

Saul Tries to Kill David

10 The next day an evil spirit from God rushed upon Saul, and he raved within his house, while David was playing the lyre, as he did day by day. Saul had his spear in his hand; 11 and Saul threw the spear, for he thought, “I will pin David to the wall.” But David eluded him twice.

1 Samuel 18:17-19 (NRSV)

David Marries Michal

17 Then Saul said to David, “Here is my elder daughter Merab; I will give her to you as a wife; only be valiant for me and fight the Lord’s battles.” For Saul thought, “I will not raise a hand against him; let the Philistines deal with him.” 18 David said to Saul, “Who am I and who are my kinsfolk, my father’s family in Israel, that I should be son-in-law to the king?” 19 But at the time when Saul’s daughter Merab should have been given to David, she was given to Adriel the Meholathite as a wife.

1 Samuel 18:29-30 (NRSV)

29 Saul was still more afraid of David. So Saul was David’s enemy from that time forward.

30 Then the commanders of the Philistines came out to battle; and as often as they came out, David had more success than all the servants of Saul, so that his fame became very great.


The affection of Jonathan, the son of Saul, for David is clear throughout this account. David must depart from the company of Saul, since Saul suspects of David of sedition. Michal saves David from her father. Samuel becomes a protector of David. Jonathan helps David to escape, “since he loved him like his very soul.” When they depart from each other, the embrace and weep. David receives some help from the priests at Nob and in particular from Ahimelech. David hides among the Philistines, pretending to be a lunatic. David now becomes an outlaw in the eyes of Saul. His family joined him. Saul massacred the priests of Nob. Abiather, a son of Ahimelech, escaped and joined David. David goes to Keilah and saves the inhabitants from the Philistines. David goes to Horesh and receives Jonathan. David narrowly escapes from Saul because of the subterfuge of the people of Ziph. David spares the life of Saul. In an encounter with Nabal, eventually ending in his death, David receives his wife, Abigal, into his family as a second wife. David spares Saul again. David then hides among the Philistines at Gath. He becomes their vassal. Yet, the military leaders of the Philistines do not trust David, and they send him away. David raids the Amalekites for attacking the Negeb and Ziklag. He shared his booty with elders of Judah. As the Philistines did battle against Saul, they killed Saul and Jonathan, occupying Israel. David then laments the death of Saul and Jonathan.


2 Samuel 1:19-27 (NRSV)

19 Your glory, O Israel, lies slain upon your high places!

How the mighty have fallen!

20 Tell it not in Gath,

proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon;

or the daughters of the Philistines will rejoice,

the daughters of the uncircumcised will exult.

21 You mountains of Gilboa,

let there be no dew or rain upon you,

nor bounteous fields!

For there the shield of the mighty was defiled,

the shield of Saul, anointed with oil no more.

22 From the blood of the slain,

from the fat of the mighty,

the bow of Jonathan did not turn back,

nor the sword of Saul return empty.

23 Saul and Jonathan, beloved and lovely!

In life and in death they were not divided;

they were swifter than eagles,

they were stronger than lions.

24 O daughters of Israel, weep over Saul,

who clothed you with crimson, in luxury,

who put ornaments of gold on your apparel.

25 How the mighty have fallen

in the midst of the battle!

Jonathan lies slain upon your high places.

26      I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan;

greatly beloved were you to me;

your love to me was wonderful,

passing the love of women.

27 How the mighty have fallen,

and the weapons of war perished!


            The story of David continues the consecration of David at Hebron as leader over Judah, probably around 1010 BC. Abner, the commander of the armies of Saul, at first installed the son of Saul as king. They had a parting of the ways, and Abner negotiated with David. However, Joab, the commander of the armies of David, had Abner killed. Ishbaal was then murdered. David then becomes king of Israel as well as Judah. He conquers Jerusalem as a neutral site for his capitol city.


2 Samuel 5:1-12 (NRSV)

David Anointed King of All Israel

(1 Chr 11.1—3)

5 Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron, and said, “Look, we are your bone and flesh. 2 For some time, while Saul was king over us, it was you who led out Israel and brought it in. The Lord said to you: It is you who shall be shepherd of my people Israel, you who shall be ruler over Israel.” 3 So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron; and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel. 4 David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years. 5 At Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months; and at Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years.

Jerusalem Made Capital of the United Kingdom

(1 Chr 11.4—9; 14.1—7)

6 The king and his men marched to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, who said to David, “You will not come in here, even the blind and the lame will turn you back”—thinking, “David cannot come in here.” 7 Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion, which is now the city of David. 8 David had said on that day, “Whoever would strike down the Jebusites, let him get up the water shaft to attack the lame and the blind, those whom David hates.” Therefore it is said, “The blind and the lame shall not come into the house.” 9 David occupied the stronghold, and named it the city of David. David built the city all around from the Millo inward. 10 And David became greater and greater, for the Lord, the God of hosts, was with him.

11 King Hiram of Tyre sent messengers to David, along with cedar trees, and carpenters and masons who built David a house. 12 David then perceived that the Lord had established him king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel.


Victory over the Philistines comes to David, with regular attention given to consulting the Lord. He consolidates his religious authority by bringing the Ark to Jerusalem. We then have several early accounts of the divine election of David, and therefore of the covenant of God with David and his dynasty in Jerusalem.


2 Samuel 7:8-16 (NRSV)

8 Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David: Thus says the Lord of hosts: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep to be prince over my people Israel; 9 and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. 10 And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and evildoers shall afflict them no more, as formerly, 11 from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. 12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. When he commits iniquity, I will punish him with a rod such as mortals use, with blows inflicted by human beings. 15 But I will not take my steadfast love from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. 16 Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever.

2 Samuel 7:18-29 (NRSV)

David’s Prayer

(1 Chr 17.16—27)

18 Then King David went in and sat before the Lord, and said, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far? 19 And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord God; you have spoken also of your servant’s house for a great while to come. May this be instruction for the people, O Lord God! 20 And what more can David say to you? For you know your servant, O Lord God! 21 Because of your promise, and according to your own heart, you have wrought all this greatness, so that your servant may know it. 22 Therefore you are great, O Lord God; for there is no one like you, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears. 23 Who is like your people, like Israel? Is there another nation on earth whose God went to redeem it as a people, and to make a name for himself, doing great and awesome things for them,by driving out before his people nations and their gods? 24 And you established your people Israel for yourself to be your people forever; and you, O Lord, became their God. 25 And now, O Lord God, as for the word that you have spoken concerning your servant and concerning his house, confirm it forever; do as you have promised. 26 Thus your name will be magnified forever in the saying, ‘The Lord of hosts is God over Israel’; and the house of your servant David will be established before you. 27 For you, O Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, have made this revelation to your servant, saying, ‘I will build you a house’; therefore your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you. 28 And now, O Lord God, you are God, and your words are true, and you have promised this good thing to your servant; 29 now therefore may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue forever before you; for you, O Lord God, have spoken, and with your blessing shall the house of your servant be blessed forever.”


David continues to defeat the Philistines and other enemies of Israel and Judah, while crediting the victories to Yahweh. He also administered law and justice to all the people.

            The history of the rise of David continues with an account of the difficulties involved in who would succeed David as king. David brings the son of Jonathan, Meribbaal, into Jerusalem as part of the royal family, a fact that neutralizes him as potential threat to the dynasty. War ensues with the Ammonites, which results in a peace treaty that makes the Ammonites subjects of Israel. We then read of an account of David and Bathsheba. The result of this story is that Solomon becomes part of the mix involved who would succeed David as king.


2 Samuel 11:1-15 (NRSV)

David Commits Adultery with Bathsheba

11 In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab with his officers and all Israel with him; they ravaged the Ammonites, and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem.

2 It happened, late one afternoon, when David rose from his couch and was walking about on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; the woman was very beautiful. 3 David sent someone to inquire about the woman. It was reported, “This is Bathsheba daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” 4 So David sent messengers to get her, and she came to him, and he lay with her. (Now she was purifying herself after her period.) Then she returned to her house. 5 The woman conceived; and she sent and told David, “I am pregnant.”

6 So David sent word to Joab, “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent Uriah to David. 7 When Uriah came to him, David asked how Joab and the people fared, and how the war was going. 8 Then David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house, and wash your feet.” Uriah went out of the king’s house, and there followed him a present from the king. 9 But Uriah slept at the entrance of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord, and did not go down to his house. 10 When they told David, “Uriah did not go down to his house,” David said to Uriah, “You have just come from a journey. Why did you not go down to your house?” 11 Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah remain in booths; and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field; shall I then go to my house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do such a thing.” 12 Then David said to Uriah, “Remain here today also, and tomorrow I will send you back.” So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day. On the next day, 13 David invited him to eat and drink in his presence and made him drunk; and in the evening he went out to lie on his couch with the servants of his lord, but he did not go down to his house.

David Has Uriah Killed

14 In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah. 15 In the letter he wrote, “Set Uriah in the forefront of the hardest fighting, and then draw back from him, so that he may be struck down and die.”

2 Samuel 12:1-14 (NRSV)

Nathan Condemns David

But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord,12 1 and the Lord sent Nathan to David. He came to him, and said to him, “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. 2 The rich man had very many flocks and herds; 3 but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. He brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children; it used to eat of his meager fare, and drink from his cup, and lie in his bosom, and it was like a daughter to him. 4 Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was loath to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb, and prepared that for the guest who had come to him.” 5 Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man. He said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die; 6 he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.”

7 Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: I anointed you king over Israel, and I rescued you from the hand of Saul; 8 I gave you your master’s house, and your master’s wives into your bosom, and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added as much more. 9 Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10 Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, for you have despised me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife. 11 Thus says the Lord: I will raise up trouble against you from within your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes, and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this very sun. 12 For you did it secretly; but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.” 13 David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan said to David, “Now the Lord has put away your sin; you shall not die. 14 Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child that is born to you shall die.”

2 Samuel 12:15-25 (NRSV)

15 Then Nathan went to his house.

Bathsheba’s Child Dies

The Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and it became very ill. 16 David therefore pleaded with God for the child; David fasted, and went in and lay all night on the ground. 17 The elders of his house stood beside him, urging him to rise from the ground; but he would not, nor did he eat food with them. 18 On the seventh day the child died. And the servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead; for they said, “While the child was still alive, we spoke to him, and he did not listen to us; how then can we tell him the child is dead? He may do himself some harm.” 19 But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, he perceived that the child was dead; and David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?” They said, “He is dead.”

20 Then David rose from the ground, washed, anointed himself, and changed his clothes. He went into the house of the Lord, and worshiped; he then went to his own house; and when he asked, they set food before him and he ate. 21 Then his servants said to him, “What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while it was alive; but when the child died, you rose and ate food.” 22 He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me, and the child may live.’ 23 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.”

Solomon Is Born

24 Then David consoled his wife Bathsheba, and went to her, and lay with her; and she bore a son, and he named him Solomon. The Lord loved him, 25 and sent a message by the prophet Nathan; so he named him Jedidiah, because of the Lord.


Other children become part of the intrigue. Those who become significant for this story are the following. Amnon was the oldest son of David, through Ahinoam. Absalom was his son through Maacah, daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur. Adonijah was his son through Haggith. Amnon raped the sister of Absalom, who then kills Amnon. Absalom flees for his life. David found great grief at what happened within his family. Joab negotiates the return of Absalom. Clearly, the king liked Absalom. So did the people.


2 Samuel 14:25-26 (NRSV)

David Forgives Absalom

25 Now in all Israel there was no one to be praised so much for his beauty as Absalom; from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him. 26 When he cut the hair of his head (for at the end of every year he used to cut it; when it was heavy on him, he cut it), he weighed the hair of his head, two hundred shekels by the king’s weight.

Yet, Absalom set about to the hearts of the northern kingdom of Israel. His conspiracy grew in number. Due to the strength of the rebellion, David flees from Jerusalem. He leaves the Ark in Jerusalem. Hushai, an Archite, was a friend of David, but acted within the party of Absalom on behalf of David. Shimei curses David on the way out of Jerusalem, and David spares his life. Absalom took control of the concubines of David. Ahithophel gave advice to Absalom, which Absalom then took as the voice of God. However, at a critical moment, Absalom takes the advice of Hushai rather than Ahithophel. The reason stated theologically is that Yahweh resolved to thwart the wise plans of Ahithophel and therefore bring disaster to Absalom. Further, because of this decision, Ahithophel goes home, gets his affairs in order, and hangs himself. David flees across the River Jordan. Absalom pursues him, but the army of David soundly defeats the army of Absalom. We then read of the death of Absalom.


2 Samuel 18:9-15 (NRSV)

9 Absalom happened to meet the servants of David. Absalom was riding on his mule, and the mule went under the thick branches of a great oak. His head caught fast in the oak, and he was left hanging between heaven and earth, while the mule that was under him went on. 10 A man saw it, and told Joab, “I saw Absalom hanging in an oak.” 11 Joab said to the man who told him, “What, you saw him! Why then did you not strike him there to the ground? I would have been glad to give you ten pieces of silver and a belt.” 12 But the man said to Joab, “Even if I felt in my hand the weight of a thousand pieces of silver, I would not raise my hand against the king’s son; for in our hearing the king commanded you and Abishai and Ittai, saying: For my sake protect the young man Absalom! 13 On the other hand, if I had dealt treacherously against his life (and there is nothing hidden from the king), then you yourself would have stood aloof.” 14 Joab said, “I will not waste time like this with you.” He took three spears in his hand, and thrust them into the heart of Absalom, while he was still alive in the oak. 15 And ten young men, Joab’s armor-bearers, surrounded Absalom and struck him, and killed him.

2 Samuel 18:24-33 (NRSV)

24 Now David was sitting between the two gates. The sentinel went up to the roof of the gate by the wall, and when he looked up, he saw a man running alone. 25 The sentinel shouted and told the king. The king said, “If he is alone, there are tidings in his mouth.” He kept coming, and drew near. 26 Then the sentinel saw another man running; and the sentinel called to the gatekeeper and said, “See, another man running alone!” The king said, “He also is bringing tidings.” 27 The sentinel said, “I think the running of the first one is like the running of Ahimaaz son of Zadok.” The king said, “He is a good man, and comes with good tidings.”

28 Then Ahimaaz cried out to the king, “All is well!” He prostrated himself before the king with his face to the ground, and said, “Blessed be the Lord your God, who has delivered up the men who raised their hand against my lord the king.” 29 The king said, “Is it well with the young man Absalom?” Ahimaaz answered, “When Joab sent your servant, I saw a great tumult, but I do not know what it was.” 30 The king said, “Turn aside, and stand here.” So he turned aside, and stood still.

31 Then the Cushite came; and the Cushite said, “Good tidings for my lord the king! For the Lord has vindicated you this day, delivering you from the power of all who rose up against you.” 32 The king said to the Cushite, “Is it well with the young man Absalom?” The Cushite answered, “May the enemies of my lord the king, and all who rise up to do you harm, be like that young man.”

David Mourns for Absalom

33 The king was deeply moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept; and as he went, he said, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!”


David returns to Jerusalem. In the process, he spares Shimei of death, even though as a prophet he had cursed David earlier. Meribbaal, son of Saul, receives generous treatment from David. Barzillai, the Gileadite, David allowed to return home. Israel and Judah dispute over what portion they will have in the rule by David. Sheba, of the tribe of Benjamin, says he has no share in the rule of David and Israel joins with him in rebellion. However, with the approach of the army of Joab, the inhabitants of the city where Shimei hid out cut off his head and gave it to Joab. A famine of three years began. As David consulted Yahweh, the answer was that the descendants of Saul brought guilt upon the land. The result was their execution by David and the end of the famine. Another account of the famine is in the final chapter of II Samuel, with the account of the census as the reason for the plague that inflicted Israel, which eventually David deals with by building an altar. Philistines made war against David, and David won his victories. The text offers an account of the champions of David. We hear two accounts of the last words of David.


2 Samuel 23:1-7 (NRSV)

The Last Words of David

23 Now these are the last words of David:

The oracle of David, son of Jesse,

the oracle of the man whom God exalted,

the anointed of the God of Jacob,

the favorite of the Strong One of Israel:

2 The spirit of the Lord speaks through me,

his word is upon my tongue.

3 The God of Israel has spoken,

the Rock of Israel has said to me:

One who rules over people justly,

ruling in the fear of God,

4 is like the light of morning,

like the sun rising on a cloudless morning,

gleaming from the rain on the grassy land.

5 Is not my house like this with God?

For he has made with me an everlasting covenant,

ordered in all things and secure.

Will he not cause to prosper

all my help and my desire?

6 But the godless are all like thorns that are thrown away;

for they cannot be picked up with the hand;

7 to touch them one uses an iron bar

or the shaft of a spear.

And they are entirely consumed in fire on the spot.


1 Kings 2:5-12 (NRSV)

5 “Moreover you know also what Joab son of Zeruiah did to me, how he dealt with the two commanders of the armies of Israel, Abner son of Ner, and Amasa son of Jether, whom he murdered, retaliating in time of peace for blood that had been shed in war, and putting the blood of war on the belt around his waist, and on the sandals on his feet. 6 Act therefore according to your wisdom, but do not let his gray head go down to Sheol in peace. 7 Deal loyally, however, with the sons of Barzillai the Gileadite, and let them be among those who eat at your table; for with such loyalty they met me when I fled from your brother Absalom. 8 There is also with you Shimei son of Gera, the Benjaminite from Bahurim, who cursed me with a terrible curse on the day when I went to Mahanaim; but when he came down to meet me at the Jordan, I swore to him by the Lord, ‘I will not put you to death with the sword.’ 9 Therefore do not hold him guiltless, for you are a wise man; you will know what you ought to do to him, and you must bring his gray head down with blood to Sheol.”

Death of David

(1 Chr 3.4; 29.26—28)

10 Then David slept with his ancestors, and was buried in the city of David. 11 The time that David reigned over Israel was forty years; he reigned seven years in Hebron, and thirty-three years in Jerusalem. 12 So Solomon sat on the throne of his father David; and his kingdom was firmly established.

Adonijah, a son of David through Haggith, wanted to be king. Joab and Abiathar supported him. However, Nathan the prophet, Zadok, Benaiah, Shimei, Rei, and the military leaders of David did not support him. Nathan and Bathsheba work together to bring Solomon to the throne. David consecrates Solomon as king. Adonijah begs for mercy from Solomon, and he receives it. Then, after Adonijah asks for the hand of Abishag in marriage, Solomon had Benaiah kill him. Solomon has Abiathar, Joab, and Shimei put to death as part of securing the throne for Solomon and of securing the concept of dynasty.


1 Kings 2:12 (NRSV)

12 So Solomon sat on the throne of his father David; and his kingdom was firmly established.

1 Kings 2:24 (NRSV)

24 Now therefore as the Lord lives, who has established me and placed me on the throne of my father David, and who has made me a house as he promised…”

1 Kings 2:33b (NRSV)

33 to David, and to his descendants, and to his house, and to his throne, there shall be peace from the Lord forevermore.”

1 Kings 2:46b (NRSV)

46 So the kingdom was established in the hand of Solomon.




            Solomon appointed his administrators of the kingdom. The text makes these claims about the years of his rule.


1 Kings 4:20-21 (NRSV)

20 Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand by the sea; they ate and drank and were happy. 21 Solomon was sovereign over all the kingdoms from the Euphrates to the land of the Philistines, even to the border of Egypt; they brought tribute and served Solomon all the days of his life.

1 Kings 4:25 (NRSV)

25 During Solomon’s lifetime Judah and Israel lived in safety, from Dan even to Beer-sheba, all of them under their vines and fig trees.


Solomon engaged in building the Temple. He paid for this project through forced labor. He also built his palace. He brought the Ark into the Temple. We find Yahweh taking possession of the Temple. Solomon offers this prayer.


1 Kings 8:12-13 (NRSV)

12 Then Solomon said,

“The Lord has said that he would dwell in thick darkness.

13 I have built you an exalted house,

a place for you to dwell in forever.”

Solomon then addresses the people.


1 Kings 8:14-21 (NRSV)

Solomon’s Speech

(2 Chr 6.3—11)

14 Then the king turned around and blessed all the assembly of Israel, while all the assembly of Israel stood. 15 He said, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who with his hand has fulfilled what he promised with his mouth to my father David, saying, 16 ‘Since the day that I brought my people Israel out of Egypt, I have not chosen a city from any of the tribes of Israel in which to build a house, that my name might be there; but I chose David to be over my people Israel.’ 17 My father David had it in mind to build a house for the name of the Lord, the God of Israel. 18 But the Lord said to my father David, ‘You did well to consider building a house for my name; 19 nevertheless you shall not build the house, but your son who shall be born to you shall build the house for my name.’ 20 Now the Lord has upheld the promise that he made; for I have risen in the place of my father David; I sit on the throne of Israel, as the Lord promised, and have built the house for the name of the Lord, the God of Israel. 21 There I have provided a place for the ark, in which is the covenant of the Lord that he made with our ancestors when he brought them out of the land of Egypt.”


They offered sacrifices in the Temple as part of the dedication.

            The text also presents Solomon as a trader with other nations. His wisdom and riches surpassed that of surrounding nations.

            Solomon had foreign enemies in Hadad of Edom and Rezon, son of Eliada.


1 Kings 11:15-22 (NRSV)

15 For when David was in Edom, and Joab the commander of the army went up to bury the dead, he killed every male in Edom 16 (for Joab and all Israel remained there six months, until he had eliminated every male in Edom); 17 but Hadad fled to Egypt with some Edomites who were servants of his father. He was a young boy at that time. 18 They set out from Midian and came to Paran; they took people with them from Paran and came to Egypt, to Pharaoh king of Egypt, who gave him a house, assigned him an allowance of food, and gave him land. 19 Hadad found great favor in the sight of Pharaoh, so that he gave him his sister-in-law for a wife, the sister of Queen Tahpenes. 20 The sister of Tahpenes gave birth by him to his son Genubath, whom Tahpenes weaned in Pharaoh’s house; Genubath was in Pharaoh’s house among the children of Pharaoh. 21 When Hadad heard in Egypt that David slept with his ancestors and that Joab the commander of the army was dead, Hadad said to Pharaoh, “Let me depart, that I may go to my own country.” 22 But Pharaoh said to him, “What do you lack with me that you now seek to go to your own country?” And he said, “No, do let me go.”

1 Kings 11:23-25 (NRSV)

23 another adversary against Solomon, Rezon son of Eliada, who had fled from his master, King Hadadezer of Zobah. 24 He gathered followers around him and became leader of a marauding band, after the slaughter by David; they went to Damascus, settled there, and made him king in Damascus. 25 He was an adversary of Israel all the days of Solomon, making trouble as Hadad did; he despised Israel and reigned over Aram.


Internally, Jeroboam revolted against Solomon.


1 Kings 11:26-32, 40 (NRSV)

26 Jeroboam son of Nebat, an Ephraimite of Zeredah, a servant of Solomon, whose mother’s name was Zeruah, a widow, rebelled against the king. 27 The following was the reason he rebelled against the king. Solomon built the Millo, and closed up the gap in the wall of the city of his father David. 28 The man Jeroboam was very able, and when Solomon saw that the young man was industrious he gave him charge over all the forced labor of the house of Joseph. 29 About that time, when Jeroboam was leaving Jerusalem, the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite found him on the road. Ahijah had clothed himself with a new garment. The two of them were alone in the open country 30 when Ahijah laid hold of the new garment he was wearing and tore it into twelve pieces. 31 He then said to Jeroboam: Take for yourself ten pieces; for thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, “See, I am about to tear the kingdom from the hand of Solomon, and will give you ten tribes. 32 One tribe will remain his, for the sake of my servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem, the city that I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel. 40 Solomon sought therefore to kill Jeroboam; but Jeroboam promptly fled to Egypt, to King Shishak of Egypt, and remained in Egypt until the death of Solomon.



J Document

            We find the first appearance of the J in an account of creation, which stands in sharp contrast to the priestly account in Genesis 1:1-2:4. I offer selected verses from the first four chapters of Genesis to give a flavor of the movement of thought. God shows great interest in humanity. God shows personal interest in life. Yet, humanity rebels against God in chapter 3, refusing to offer love and devotion to God. The idea of God walking in the garden with Adam and Eve suggests the intimacy of communion that God intended. As we read this text, we may wonder why the bible places such great emphasis upon this small act of disobedience. After all, we reason, it was only some fruit.    We have a graphic example of temptation in Genesis 3. Eve isolates herself from Adam. While alone, the thought arises to do something God forbade, namely, eating fruit from one particular tree. It bothers us that the command of God concerns such an important think as fruit. Yet, often we reveal our character in small events. An angry word, a selfish act, lustful meditations, inappropriate consumption of food and expenditure of wealth, and so on, can reveal who we are and what we value. In the small act of disobedience, Eve discovered who she was. She wanted to lead her life independent of God. She also wanted to bring Adam into her orbit. Then, they broke the familiar relationship they had with God in Eden by hiding from God. The secretive nature of sinful behavior becomes clear. Yet, even though Adam and Eve sinned together, the sin disrupts their relationship with each other. The experience of authenticity they had in Eden with God, with each other, and with nature, remains a hope, but is not human life.

            In chapter 4, humanity cannot even treat each other with love and respect. Of course, details concerning from where the enemies of Cain come is of no interest to the author. The story continues the record of human alienation from God and from each other.


Genesis 2:4b-8, 2:15-18, 21-25 (NRSV)

4 b In the day that the Lord 5 when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground; 6 but a stream would rise from the earth, and water the whole face of the ground— 7 then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being. 8 And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed.

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.”

18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.”

21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones

and flesh of my flesh;

this one shall be called Woman,

for out of Man this one was taken.”

24 Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed.

Genesis 3:1-13, 20-23 (NRSV)

 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?” 2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.’ ” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die; 5 for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.

8 They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 He said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent tricked me, and I ate.”

20 The man named his wife Eve, because she was the mother of all living. 21 And the Lord God made garments of skins for the man and for his wife, and clothed them.

22 Then the Lord God said, “See, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”— 23 therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken.

Genesis 4:1-10 (NRSV)

 Now the man knew his wife Eve, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have produced a man with the help of the Lord.” 2 Next she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a tiller of the ground. 3 In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, 4 and Abel for his part brought of the firstlings of his flock, their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, 5 but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. 6 The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your countenance fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.”

8 Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let us go out to the field.” And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel, and killed him. 9 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” 10 And the Lord said, “What have you done? Listen; your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground!


            This document also contains an account of life before and during the flood. Noah is a consolation to his father, Lamech. Then we read the corruption of humanity before the flood.


Genesis 6:1-7 (NRSV)

 When people began to multiply on the face of the ground, and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that they were fair; and they took wives for themselves of all that they chose. 3 Then the Lord said, “My spirit shall not abide in mortals forever, for they are flesh; their days shall be one hundred twenty years.” 4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went in to the daughters of humans, who bore children to them. These were the heroes that were of old, warriors of renown.

5 The Lord saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually. 6 And the Lord was sorry that he had made humankind on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7 So the Lord said, “I will blot out from the earth the human beings I have created—people together with animals and creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.”


We go on to read of the judgment of God in the flood, and then the grace of God at the close of the flood.


Genesis 8:20-22 (NRSV)

20 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. 21 And when the Lord smelled the pleasing odor, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of humankind, for the inclination of the human heart is evil from youth; nor will I ever again destroy every living creature as I have done.

22 As long as the earth endures,

seedtime and harvest, cold and heat,

summer and winter, day and night,

shall not cease.”


Yet, Noah and his sons continue the sinful ways of humanity. Their descendents build a tower of Babel that is expression of their arrogance.


Genesis 11:1-9 (NRSV)

 Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. 2 And as they migrated from the east, they came upon a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. 3 And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves; otherwise we shall be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.” 5 The Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which mortals had built. 6 And the Lord said, “Look, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down, and confuse their language there, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.” 8 So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. 9 Therefore it was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.


            The following are psalms that may be from this period.


Psalm 2 (NRSV), also see II Samuel 23.

1 Why do the nations conspire,

and the peoples plot in vain?

2 The kings of the earth set themselves,

and the rulers take counsel together,

against the Lord and his anointed, saying,

3 “Let us burst their bonds asunder,

and cast their cords from us.”

4 He who sits in the heavens laughs;

the Lord has them in derision.

5 Then he will speak to them in his wrath,

and terrify them in his fury, saying,

6 “I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill.”

7 I will tell of the decree of the Lord:

He said to me, “You are my son;

today I have begotten you.

8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,

and the ends of the earth your possession.

9 You shall break them with a rod of iron,

and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise;

be warned, O rulers of the earth.

11 Serve the Lord with fear,

with trembling12 kiss his feet,

or he will be angry, and you will perish in the way;

for his wrath is quickly kindled.

Happy are all who take refuge in him.

Psalm 18 (NRSV), also see II Samuel 22.

1 I love you, O Lord, my strength.

2 The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer,

my God, my rock in whom I take refuge,

my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

3 I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,

so I shall be saved from my enemies.

4 The cords of death encompassed me;

the torrents of perdition assailed me;

5 the cords of Sheol entangled me;

the snares of death confronted me.

6 In my distress I called upon the Lord;

to my God I cried for help.

From his temple he heard my voice,

and my cry to him reached his ears.

7 Then the earth reeled and rocked;

the foundations also of the mountains trembled

and quaked, because he was angry.

8 Smoke went up from his nostrils,

and devouring fire from his mouth;

glowing coals flamed forth from him.

9 He bowed the heavens, and came down;

thick darkness was under his feet.

10 He rode on a cherub, and flew;

he came swiftly upon the wings of the wind.

11 He made darkness his covering around him,

his canopy thick clouds dark with water.

16 He reached down from on high, he took me;

he drew me out of mighty waters.

17 He delivered me from my strong enemy,

and from those who hated me;

for they were too mighty for me.

18 They confronted me in the day of my calamity;

but the Lord was my support.

19 He brought me out into a broad place;

he delivered me, because he delighted in me.

20 The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness;

according to the cleanness of my hands he recompensed me.

21 For I have kept the ways of the Lord,

and have not wickedly departed from my God.

25 With the loyal you show yourself loyal;

with the blameless you show yourself blameless;

26 with the pure you show yourself pure;

and with the crooked you show yourself perverse.

27 For you deliver a humble people,

but the haughty eyes you bring down.

28 It is you who light my lamp;

the Lord, my God, lights up my darkness.

31 For who is God except the Lord?

And who is a rock besides our God?—

32 the God who girded me with strength,

and made my way safe.

46 The Lord lives! Blessed be my rock,

and exalted be the God of my salvation,

47 the God who gave me vengeance

and subdued peoples under me;

48 who delivered me from my enemies;

indeed, you exalted me above my adversaries;

you delivered me from the violent.

49 For this I will extol you, O Lord, among the nations,

and sing praises to your name.

50 Great triumphs he gives to his king,

and shows steadfast love to his anointed,

to David and his descendants forever.


Psalm 20 (NRSV)

1 The Lord answer you in the day of trouble!

The name of the God of Jacob protect you!

4 May he grant you your heart’s desire,

and fulfill all your plans.

5 May we shout for joy over your victory,

and in the name of our God set up our banners.

May the Lord fulfill all your petitions.

6 Now I know that the Lord will help his anointed;

he will answer him from his holy heaven

with mighty victories by his right hand.

7 Some take pride in chariots, and some in horses,

but our pride is in the name of the Lord our God.

8 They will collapse and fall,

but we shall rise and stand upright.

9 Give victory to the king, O Lord;

answer us when we call.

Psalm 41 (NRSV)

1 Happy are those who consider the poor;

the Lord delivers them in the day of trouble.

2 The Lord protects them and keeps them alive;

they are called happy in the land.

You do not give them up to the will of their enemies.

3 The Lord sustains them on their sickbed;

in their illness you heal all their infirmities.

4 As for me, I said, “O Lord, be gracious to me;

heal me, for I have sinned against you.”

5 My enemies wonder in malice

when I will die, and my name perish.

6 And when they come to see me, they utter empty words,

while their hearts gather mischief;

when they go out, they tell it abroad.

7 All who hate me whisper together about me;

they imagine the worst for me.

8 They think that a deadly thing has fastened on me,

that I will not rise again from where I lie.

9 Even my bosom friend in whom I trusted,

who ate of my bread, has lifted the heel against me.

10 But you, O Lord, be gracious to me,

and raise me up, that I may repay them.

11 By this I know that you are pleased with me;

because my enemy has not triumphed over me.

12 But you have upheld me because of my integrity,

and set me in your presence forever.

13 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,

from everlasting to everlasting.

Amen and Amen.


Psalm 60 (NRSV)

1 O God, you have rejected us, broken our defenses;

you have been angry; now restore us!

Psalm 68 (NRSV)

1 Let God rise up, let his enemies be scattered;

let those who hate him flee before him.

5 Father of orphans and protector of widows

is God in his holy habitation.

6 God gives the desolate a home to live in;

he leads out the prisoners to prosperity,

but the rebellious live in a parched land.

32 Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth;

sing praises to the Lord,      Selah

33 O rider in the heavens, the ancient heavens;

listen, he sends out his voice, his mighty voice.

34 Ascribe power to God,

whose majesty is over Israel;

and whose power is in the skies.

35 Awesome is God in his sanctuary,

the God of Israel;

he gives power and strength to his people.

Blessed be God!

Psalm 72 (NRSV)

1 Give the king your justice, O God,

and your righteousness to a king’s son.

2 May he judge your people with righteousness,

and your poor with justice.

3 May the mountains yield prosperity for the people,

and the hills, in righteousness.

4 May he defend the cause of the poor of the people,

give deliverance to the needy,

and crush the oppressor.

12 For he delivers the needy when they call,

the poor and those who have no helper.

13 He has pity on the weak and the needy,

and saves the lives of the needy.

14 From oppression and violence he redeems their life;

and precious is their blood in his sight.

15 Long may he live!

May gold of Sheba be given to him.

May prayer be made for him continually,

and blessings invoked for him all day long.

16 May there be abundance of grain in the land;

may it wave on the tops of the mountains;

may its fruit be like Lebanon;

and may people blossom in the cities

like the grass of the field.

17 May his name endure forever,

his fame continue as long as the sun.

May all nations be blessed in him;

may they pronounce him happy.

18 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,

who alone does wondrous things.

19 Blessed be his glorious name forever;

may his glory fill the whole earth.

Amen and Amen.


Psalm 75 (NRSV)

1 We give thanks to you, O God;

we give thanks; your name is near.

People tell of your wondrous deeds.


Psalm 77 (NRSV)

1 I cry aloud to God,

aloud to God, that he may hear me.

2 In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord;

in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying;

my soul refuses to be comforted.

3 I think of God, and I moan;

I meditate, and my spirit faints.      Selah

11 I will call to mind the deeds of the Lord;

I will remember your wonders of old.

12 I will meditate on all your work,

and muse on your mighty deeds.

13 Your way, O God, is holy.

What god is so great as our God?

14 You are the God who works wonders;

you have displayed your might among the peoples.

15 With your strong arm you redeemed your people,

the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.      Selah

16 When the waters saw you, O God,

when the waters saw you, they were afraid;

the very deep trembled.

17 The clouds poured out water;

the skies thundered;

your arrows flashed on every side.

18 The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind;

your lightnings lit up the world;

the earth trembled and shook.

19 Your way was through the sea,

your path, through the mighty waters;

yet your footprints were unseen.

20 You led your people like a flock

by the hand of Moses and Aaron.


Psalm 89 (NRSV)

1 I will sing of your steadfast love, O Lord, forever;

with my mouth I will proclaim your faithfulness to all generations.

2 I declare that your steadfast love is established forever;

your faithfulness is as firm as the heavens.

3 You said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one,

I have sworn to my servant David:

4 ‘I will establish your descendants forever,

and build your throne for all generations.’ ”      Selah

5 Let the heavens praise your wonders, O Lord,

your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones.

6 For who in the skies can be compared to the Lord?

Who among the heavenly beings is like the Lord,

7 a God feared in the council of the holy ones,

great and awesome above all that are around him?

8 O Lord God of hosts,

who is as mighty as you, O Lord?

Your faithfulness surrounds you.

9 You rule the raging of the sea;

when its waves rise, you still them.

10 You crushed Rahab like a carcass;

you scattered your enemies with your mighty arm.

11 The heavens are yours, the earth also is yours;

the world and all that is in it—you have founded them.

12 The north and the south —you created them;

Tabor and Hermon joyously praise your name.

13 You have a mighty arm;

strong is your hand, high your right hand.

14 Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne;

steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.

15 Happy are the people who know the festal shout,

who walk, O Lord, in the light of your countenance;

16 they exult in your name all day long,

and extol your righteousness.

17 For you are the glory of their strength;

by your favor our horn is exalted.

18 For our shield belongs to the Lord,

our king to the Holy One of Israel.

19 Then you spoke in a vision to your faithful one, and said:

“I have set the crown on one who is mighty,

I have exalted one chosen from the people.

20 I have found my servant David;

with my holy oil I have anointed him;

21 my hand shall always remain with him;

my arm also shall strengthen him.

22 The enemy shall not outwit him,

the wicked shall not humble him.

23 I will crush his foes before him

and strike down those who hate him.

24 My faithfulness and steadfast love shall be with him;

and in my name his horn shall be exalted.

25 I will set his hand on the sea

and his right hand on the rivers.

26 He shall cry to me, ‘You are my Father,

my God, and the Rock of my salvation!’

27 I will make him the firstborn,

the highest of the kings of the earth.

28 Forever I will keep my steadfast love for him,

and my covenant with him will stand firm.

29 I will establish his line forever,

and his throne as long as the heavens endure.

30 If his children forsake my law

and do not walk according to my ordinances,

31 if they violate my statutes

and do not keep my commandments,

32 then I will punish their transgression with the rod

and their iniquity with scourges;

33 but I will not remove from him my steadfast love,

or be false to my faithfulness.

34 I will not violate my covenant,

or alter the word that went forth from my lips.

35 Once and for all I have sworn by my holiness;

I will not lie to David.

36 His line shall continue forever,

and his throne endure before me like the sun.

37 It shall be established forever like the moon,

an enduring witness in the skies.”      Selah


Psalm 93 (NRSV)

1 The Lord is king, he is robed in majesty;

the Lord is robed, he is girded with strength.

He has established the world; it shall never be moved;

2      your throne is established from of old;

you are from everlasting.

3 The floods have lifted up, O Lord,

the floods have lifted up their voice;

the floods lift up their roaring.

4 More majestic than the thunders of mighty waters,

more majestic than the waves of the sea,

majestic on high is the Lord!

5 Your decrees are very sure;

holiness befits your house,

O Lord, forevermore.


Psalm 110 (NRSV)

1 The Lord says to my lord,

“Sit at my right hand

until I make your enemies your footstool.”

2 The Lord sends out from Zion

your mighty scepter.

Rule in the midst of your foes.

3 Your people will offer themselves willingly

on the day you lead your forces

on the holy mountains.

From the womb of the morning,

like dew, your youth will come to you.

4 The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind,

“You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”

5 The Lord is at your right hand;

he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath.

6 He will execute judgment among the nations,

filling them with corpses;

he will shatter heads

over the wide earth.

7 He will drink from the stream by the path;

therefore he will lift up his head.


Psalm 132 (NRSV)

1 O Lord, remember in David’s favor

all the hardships he endured;

2 how he swore to the Lord

and vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob,

3 “I will not enter my house

or get into my bed;

4 I will not give sleep to my eyes

or slumber to my eyelids,

5 until I find a place for the Lord,

a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob.”

6 We heard of it in Ephrathah;

we found it in the fields of Jaar.

7 “Let us go to his dwelling place;

let us worship at his footstool.”

8 Rise up, O Lord, and go to your resting place,

you and the ark of your might.

9 Let your priests be clothed with righteousness,

and let your faithful shout for joy.

10 For your servant David’s sake

do not turn away the face of your anointed one.

11 The Lord swore to David a sure oath

from which he will not turn back:

“One of the sons of your body

I will set on your throne.

12 If your sons keep my covenant

and my decrees that I shall teach them,

their sons also, forevermore,

shall sit on your throne.”

13 For the Lord has chosen Zion;

he has desired it for his habitation:

14 “This is my resting place forever;

here I will reside, for I have desired it.

15 I will abundantly bless its provisions;

I will satisfy its poor with bread.

16 Its priests I will clothe with salvation,

and its faithful will shout for joy.

17 There I will cause a horn to sprout up for David;

I have prepared a lamp for my anointed one.

18 His enemies I will clothe with disgrace,

but on him, his crown will gleam.”


Psalm 144 (NRSV)

1 Blessed be the Lord, my rock,

who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle;

2 my rock and my fortress,

my stronghold and my deliverer,

my shield, in whom I take refuge,

who subdues the peoples under me.

3 O Lord, what are human beings that you regard them,

or mortals that you think of them?

4 They are like a breath;

their days are like a passing shadow.

5 Bow your heavens, O Lord, and come down;

touch the mountains so that they smoke.

6 Make the lightning flash and scatter them;

send out your arrows and rout them.

7 Stretch out your hand from on high;

set me free and rescue me from the mighty waters,

from the hand of aliens,

8 whose mouths speak lies,

and whose right hands are false.

9 I will sing a new song to you, O God;

upon a ten-stringed harp I will play to you,

10 the one who gives victory to kings,

who rescues his servant David.

11 Rescue me from the cruel sword,

and deliver me from the hand of aliens,

whose mouths speak lies,

and whose right hands are false.

12 May our sons in their youth

be like plants full grown,

our daughters like corner pillars,

cut for the building of a palace.

13 May our barns be filled,

with produce of every kind;

may our sheep increase by thousands,

by tens of thousands in our fields,

14      and may our cattle be heavy with young.

May there be no breach in the walls, no exile,

and no cry of distress in our streets.

15 Happy are the people to whom such blessings fall;

happy are the people whose God is the Lord.


Proverbs – Early

            Although it is difficult to say when any proverb originated, according to one study, certain forms of the proverb appear to come from the earliest period. One example is the description of the way of the wisdom and the way of foolishness.


How much better to get wisdom than gold!

              To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.  (16:16 A)

An intelligent mind acquires knowledge,

              and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.  (18:15 A)

To get wisdom is to love oneself;

              to keep understanding is to prosper.  (19:8 A)

There is gold, and abundance of costly stones;

              but the lips informed by knowledge are a precious jewel.  (20:15 A)

Wisdom is at home in the mind of one who has understanding,

              but it is not known in the heart of fools.  (14:33 A)

Wisdom is a fountain of life to one who has it,

              but folly is the punishment of fools.  (16:22 A)

The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life,

              so that one may avoid the snares of death.  (13:14 A)

Those who keep the commandment will live;

              those who are heedless of their ways will die.  (19:16 A)

Listen to advice and accept instruction,

              that you may gain wisdom for the future.  (19:20 A)

Fools think their own way is right,

              but the wise listen to advice.  (12:15 A)

Better is open rebuke

              than hidden love.  (27:5 A)

One who is often reproved, yet remains stubborn,

              will suddenly be broken beyond healing.  (29:1 A)

Whoever heeds instruction is on the path of life,

              but one who rejects a rebuke goes astray.  (10:17 A)

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,

              but those who hate to be rebuked are stupid.  (12:1 A)


Wisdom considers matters of the human heart.


The light of the eyes rejoices the heart,

              and good news refreshes the body.  (15:30 A)

Like cold water to a thirsty soul,

              so is good news from a far country.  (25:25 A)

Even in laughter the heart is sad,

              and the end of joy is grief.  (14:13 A)

A glad heart makes a cheerful countenance,

              but by sorrow of heart the spirit is broken.  (15:13 A)

A cheerful heart is a good medicine,

              but a downcast spirit dries up the bones.  (17:22 A)

The heart knows its own bitterness,

              and no stranger shares its joy.  (14:10 A)

The human spirit will endure sickness;

              but a broken spirit--who can bear?  (18:14 A)

The purposes in the human mind are like deep water,

              but the intelligent will draw them out.  (20:5 A)

The words of the mouth are deep waters;

              the fountain of wisdom is a gushing stream.  (18:4 A)

Hope deferred makes the heart sick,

              but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.  (13:12 A)

A tranquil mind gives life to the flesh,

              but passion makes the bones rot.  (14:30 A)

There is a way that seems right to a person,

              but its end is the way to death.  (14:12 A?)

Sometimes there is a way that seems to be right,

              but in the end it is the way to death.  (16:25 A)


Character traits find comment in wisdom literature. Humility is one trait wisdom values.


Do you see persons wise in their own eyes?

              There is more hope for fools than for them.  (26:12 A)

When pride comes, then comes disgrace;

              but wisdom is with the humble.  (11:2 A)

Pride goes before destruction,

              and a haughty spirit before a fall.  (16:18 A)

Do not boast about tomorrow,

              for you do not know what a day may bring.  (27:1 A)


Another trait is that of trust


Many proclaim themselves loyal,

              but who can find one worthy of trust?  (20:6 A)


Another trait is that of a good reputation.


A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,

              and favor is better than silver or gold.  (22:1 A)


Wisdom also considers the use of words.


One who is quick-tempered acts foolishly,

              and the schemer is hated.  (14:17 A)

Those with good sense are slow to anger,

              and it is their glory to overlook an offense.  (19:11 A)

A gossip reveals secrets;

              therefore do not associate with a babbler.  (20:19 A)

A gossip goes about telling secrets,

              but one who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a confidence.  (11:13 A)

Pleasant words are like a honeycomb,

              sweetness to the soul and health to the body.  (16:24 A)

Death and life are in the power of the tongue,

              and those who love it will eat its fruits.  (18:21 A)

To make an apt answer is a joy to anyone,

              and a word in season, how good it is!  (15:23 A)

A word fitly spoken

              is like apples of gold in a setting of sliver.  (25:11 A)

A soft answer turns away wrath,

              but a harsh word stirs up anger.  (15:1 A)

Truthful lips endure forever,

              but a lying tongue lasts only a moment.  (12:19 A)


Wisdom leads to certain reflections upon relationships in the family.


Like a gold ring in a pig's snout,

              is a beautiful woman without good sense.  (11:22 A)

It is better to live in a corner of the housetop

              than in a house shared with a contentious wife.  (21:9; 25:24 A)

It is better to live in a desert land

              than with a contentious and fretful wife.  (21:19 A)

A continual dripping on a rainy day

              and a contentious wife are alike;

            to restrain her is to restrain the wind

              or to grasp oil in the right hand.  (27:15-15 A)

Like a bird that strays from its next

              is one who strays from home.  (27:8 A)

Train children in the right way,

              and when old, they will not stray.  (22:6 A)

Those who spare the rod hate their children,

              but those who love them are diligent to discipline them.  (13:24 A)

Discipline your children while there is hope;

              do not set your heart on their destruction.  (19:18 A)

Discipline your children, and they will give you rest;

              they will give delight to your heart.  (29:17 A)

A wise child loves discipline,

              but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.  (13:1 A)

A slave pampered from childhood

              will come to a bad end.  (29:21 A)


Wisdom offers guidance in relationships with the neighbor.


A friend loves at all times,

              and kinsfolk are born to share adversity.  (17:17 A)

Do not forsake your friend or the friend of your parent;

              do not go to the house of your kindred in the day of your calamity.

            Better is a neighbor who is nearby

              than kindred who are far away.  (27:10 A)

Some friends play at friendship

              but a true friends sticks closer than one's nearest kin.  (18:24 A)

If you have found honey, eat only enough for you,

              or else, having too much, you will vomit it.

            Let your foot be seldom in your neighbor's house,

              otherwise the neighbor will become weary of you and hate you. 

            (25:16-17 A)   

Well meant are the wounds a friend inflicts,

              but profuse are the kisses of an enemy.  (27:6 A)


Wisdom recommends the discipline of work.


Do not love sleep, or else you will come to poverty;

              open your eyes, and you will have plenty of bread.  (20:13 A)

In all toil there is profit,

              but mere talk leads only to poverty.  (14:23 A)

One who is slack in work

              is close kin to a vandal.  (18:9 A)

Know well the condition of your flocks,

              and give attention to your herds;

            for riches do not last forever,

              nor a crown for all generations.

            When the grass is gone, and new growth appears,

              and the herbage of the mountains is gathered,

            the lambs will provide your clothing,

              and the goats the price of a field;

            there will be enough goats' milk for your food,

              for the food of your household

              and nourishment for your servant girls.  (27:23-27 A)

Wealth hastily gotten will dwindle,     

              but those who gather little by little will increase it.  (13:11 A)


Wisdom recommends the path that avoids greed.


Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied,

              and human eyes are never satisfied.  (27:20 A)


Wisdom recognizes the realities of wealth and poverty.


The wealth of the rich is their fortress;

              the poverty of the poor is their ruin.  (10:15 A)

Some pretend to be rich, yet have nothing;

              others pretend to be poor, yet have great wealth.  (13:7 A)

Wealth brings many friends,

              but the poor are left friendless.  (19:4 A)

The poor are disliked even by their neighbors,

              but the rich have many friends.  (14:20 A)

If the poor are hated even by their kin,

              how much more are they shunned by their friends!

            When they call after them, they are not there.  (19:7 A)

All the days of the poor are hard,

              but a cheerful heart has a continual feast.  (15:15 A)


Wisdom honors age.


The glory of youths is their strength,

              but the beauty of the aged is their gray hair.  (20:29 A)


Wisdom recognizes proper behavior in the court system.


A truthful witness saves lives,

              but one who utters lies is a betrayer.  (14:25 A)

A gift opens doors;

              it gives access to the great.  (18:16 A)

Many seek the favor of the generous,

              and everyone is a friend to a giver of gifts.  (19:6 A)


Wisdom recognizes proper behavior in the government.


The glory of a king is a multitude of people;

              without people a prince is ruined.  (14:28 A)

It is not fitting for a fool to live in luxury,

              much less for a slave to rule over princes.  (19:10 A)

When a land rebels

              it has many rulers;

            but with an intelligent ruler

              there is lasting order.  (28:2 B)

Without counsel, plans go wrong,

              but with many advisers they succeed.  (15:22 A)

A bad messenger brings trouble,

              but a faithful envoy, healing.  (13:17 B)

Do not put yourself forward in the king's presence

              or stand in the place of the great;

            for it is better to be told, "Come up here,"

              than to be put lower in the presence of a noble.  (25:6-7 A)

It is the glory of God to conceal things,

              but the glory of kings is to search things out.  (25:2 A)

Story of Joseph as Wisdom

The story of Joseph appears to be a novella, a little novel. Scenes are part of the whole rather than individual Joseph sagas. Joseph is the ideal youth of the wisdom school in the time of Solomon. We find the theme of the story in two places.


Genesis 45:5-8 (NRSV)

5 And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. 6 For the famine has been in the land these two years; and there are five more years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. 7 God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. 8 So it was not you who sent me here, but God; he has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt.

Genesis 50:20 (NRSV)

20 Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people, as he is doing today.



We find a largely J account in 37, 39, 43-44, 46:28-47:6, 13-31, 50:1-14.


Genesis 37 (NRSV)

Joseph Dreams of Greatness

37 Jacob settled in the land where his father had lived as an alien, the land of Canaan. 2 This is the story of the family of Jacob.

Joseph, being seventeen years old, was shepherding the flock with his brothers; he was a helper to the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father’s wives; and Joseph brought a bad report of them to their father. 3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his children, because he was the son of his old age; and he had made him a long robe with sleeves. 4 But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him.

5 Once Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more. 6 He said to them, “Listen to this dream that I dreamed. 7 There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright; then your sheaves gathered around it, and bowed down to my sheaf.” 8 His brothers said to him, “Are you indeed to reign over us? Are you indeed to have dominion over us?” So they hated him even more because of his dreams and his words.

9 He had another dream, and told it to his brothers, saying, “Look, I have had another dream: the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” 10 But when he told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him, and said to him, “What kind of dream is this that you have had? Shall we indeed come, I and your mother and your brothers, and bow to the ground before you?” 11 So his brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.

Joseph Is Sold by His Brothers

12 Now his brothers went to pasture their father’s flock near Shechem. 13 And Israel said to Joseph, “Are not your brothers pasturing the flock at Shechem? Come, I will send you to them.” He answered, “Here I am.” 14 So he said to him, “Go now, see if it is well with your brothers and with the flock; and bring word back to me.” So he sent him from the valley of Hebron.

He came to Shechem, 15 and a man found him wandering in the fields; the man asked him, “What are you seeking?” 16 “I am seeking my brothers,” he said; “tell me, please, where they are pasturing the flock.” 17 The man said, “They have gone away, for I heard them say, ‘Let us go to Dothan.’ ” So Joseph went after his brothers, and found them at Dothan. 18 They saw him from a distance, and before he came near to them, they conspired to kill him. 19 They said to one another, “Here comes this dreamer. 20 Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; then we shall say that a wild animal has devoured him, and we shall see what will become of his dreams.” 21 But when Reuben heard it, he delivered him out of their hands, saying, “Let us not take his life.” 22 Reuben said to them, “Shed no blood; throw him into this pit here in the wilderness, but lay no hand on him”—that he might rescue him out of their hand and restore him to his father. 23 So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the long robe with sleeves that he wore; 24 and they took him and threw him into a pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it.

25 Then they sat down to eat; and looking up they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, with their camels carrying gum, balm, and resin, on their way to carry it down to Egypt. 26 Then Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? 27 Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and not lay our hands on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.” And his brothers agreed. 28 When some Midianite traders passed by, they drew Joseph up, lifting him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt.

29 When Reuben returned to the pit and saw that Joseph was not in the pit, he tore his clothes. 30 He returned to his brothers, and said, “The boy is gone; and I, where can I turn?” 31 Then they took Joseph’s robe, slaughtered a goat, and dipped the robe in the blood. 32 They had the long robe with sleeves taken to their father, and they said, “This we have found; see now whether it is your son’s robe or not.” 33 He recognized it, and said, “It is my son’s robe! A wild animal has devoured him; Joseph is without doubt torn to pieces.” 34 Then Jacob tore his garments, and put sackcloth on his loins, and mourned for his son many days. 35 All his sons and all his daughters sought to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted, and said, “No, I shall go down to Sheol to my son, mourning.” Thus his father bewailed him. 36 Meanwhile the Midianites had sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard.

Genesis 39 (NRSV)

Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife

39 Now Joseph was taken down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there. 2 The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man; he was in the house of his Egyptian master. 3 His master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord caused all that he did to prosper in his hands. 4 So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him; he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had. 5 From the time that he made him overseer in his house and over all that he had, the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had, in house and field. 6 So he left all that he had in Joseph’s charge; and, with him there, he had no concern for anything but the food that he ate.

Now Joseph was handsome and good-looking. 7 And after a time his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, “Lie with me.” 8 But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Look, with me here, my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my hand. 9 He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except yourself, because you are his wife. How then could I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” 10 And although she spoke to Joseph day after day, he would not consent to lie beside her or to be with her. 11 One day, however, when he went into the house to do his work, and while no one else was in the house, 12 she caught hold of his garment, saying, “Lie with me!” But he left his garment in her hand, and fled and ran outside. 13 When she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and had fled outside, 14 she called out to the members of her household and said to them, “See, my husband has brought among us a Hebrew to insult us! He came in to me to lie with me, and I cried out with a loud voice; 15 and when he heard me raise my voice and cry out, he left his garment beside me, and fled outside.” 16 Then she kept his garment by her until his master came home, 17 and she told him the same story, saying, “The Hebrew servant, whom you have brought among us, came in to me to insult me; 18 but as soon as I raised my voice and cried out, he left his garment beside me, and fled outside.”

19 When his master heard the words that his wife spoke to him, saying, “This is the way your servant treated me,” he became enraged. 20 And Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined; he remained there in prison. 21 But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love; he gave him favor in the sight of the chief jailer. 22 The chief jailer committed to Joseph’s care all the prisoners who were in the prison, and whatever was done there, he was the one who did it. 23 The chief jailer paid no heed to anything that was in Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with him; and whatever he did, the Lord made it prosper.

Genesis 43-44 (NRSV)

The Brothers Come Again, Bringing Benjamin

43 Now the famine was severe in the land. 2 And when they had eaten up the grain that they had brought from Egypt, their father said to them, “Go again, buy us a little more food.” 3 But Judah said to him, “The man solemnly warned us, saying, ‘You shall not see my face unless your brother is with you.’ 4 If you will send our brother with us, we will go down and buy you food; 5 but if you will not send him, we will not go down, for the man said to us, ‘You shall not see my face, unless your brother is with you.’ ” 6 Israel said, “Why did you treat me so badly as to tell the man that you had another brother?” 7 They replied, “The man questioned us carefully about ourselves and our kindred, saying, ‘Is your father still alive? Have you another brother?’ What we told him was in answer to these questions. Could we in any way know that he would say, ‘Bring your brother down’?” 8 Then Judah said to his father Israel, “Send the boy with me, and let us be on our way, so that we may live and not die—you and we and also our little ones. 9 I myself will be surety for him; you can hold me accountable for him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame forever. 10 If we had not delayed, we would now have returned twice.”

11 Then their father Israel said to them, “If it must be so, then do this: take some of the choice fruits of the land in your bags, and carry them down as a present to the man—a little balm and a little honey, gum, resin, pistachio nuts, and almonds. 12 Take double the money with you. Carry back with you the money that was returned in the top of your sacks; perhaps it was an oversight. 13 Take your brother also, and be on your way again to the man; 14 may God Almighty grant you mercy before the man, so that he may send back your other brother and Benjamin. As for me, if I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.” 15 So the men took the present, and they took double the money with them, as well as Benjamin. Then they went on their way down to Egypt, and stood before Joseph.

16 When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the steward of his house, “Bring the men into the house, and slaughter an animal and make ready, for the men are to dine with me at noon.” 17 The man did as Joseph said, and brought the men to Joseph’s house. 18 Now the men were afraid because they were brought to Joseph’s house, and they said, “It is because of the money, replaced in our sacks the first time, that we have been brought in, so that he may have an opportunity to fall upon us, to make slaves of us and take our donkeys.” 19 So they went up to the steward of Joseph’s house and spoke with him at the entrance to the house. 20 They said, “Oh, my lord, we came down the first time to buy food; 21 and when we came to the lodging place we opened our sacks, and there was each one’s money in the top of his sack, our money in full weight. So we have brought it back with us. 22 Moreover we have brought down with us additional money to buy food. We do not know who put our money in our sacks.” 23 He replied, “Rest assured, do not be afraid; your God and the God of your father must have put treasure in your sacks for you; I received your money.” Then he brought Simeon out to them. 24 When the steward had brought the men into Joseph’s house, and given them water, and they had washed their feet, and when he had given their donkeys fodder, 25 they made the present ready for Joseph’s coming at noon, for they had heard that they would dine there.

26 When Joseph came home, they brought him the present that they had carried into the house, and bowed to the ground before him. 27 He inquired about their welfare, and said, “Is your father well, the old man of whom you spoke? Is he still alive?” 28 They said, “Your servant our father is well; he is still alive.” And they bowed their heads and did obeisance. 29 Then he looked up and saw his brother Benjamin, his mother’s son, and said, “Is this your youngest brother, of whom you spoke to me? God be gracious to you, my son!” 30 With that, Joseph hurried out, because he was overcome with affection for his brother, and he was about to weep. So he went into a private room and wept there. 31 Then he washed his face and came out; and controlling himself he said, “Serve the meal.” 32 They served him by himself, and them by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves, because the Egyptians could not eat with the Hebrews, for that is an abomination to the Egyptians. 33 When they were seated before him, the firstborn according to his birthright and the youngest according to his youth, the men looked at one another in amazement. 34 Portions were taken to them from Joseph’s table, but Benjamin’s portion was five times as much as any of theirs. So they drank and were merry with him.

Joseph Detains Benjamin

44 Then he commanded the steward of his house, “Fill the men’s sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put each man’s money in the top of his sack. 2 Put my cup, the silver cup, in the top of the sack of the youngest, with his money for the grain.” And he did as Joseph told him. 3 As soon as the morning was light, the men were sent away with their donkeys. 4 When they had gone only a short distance from the city, Joseph said to his steward, “Go, follow after the men; and when you overtake them, say to them, ‘Why have you returned evil for good? Why have you stolen my silver cup? 5 Is it not from this that my lord drinks? Does he not indeed use it for divination? You have done wrong in doing this.’ ”

6 When he overtook them, he repeated these words to them. 7 They said to him, “Why does my lord speak such words as these? Far be it from your servants that they should do such a thing! 8 Look, the money that we found at the top of our sacks, we brought back to you from the land of Canaan; why then would we steal silver or gold from your lord’s house? 9 Should it be found with any one of your servants, let him die; moreover the rest of us will become my lord’s slaves.” 10 He said, “Even so; in accordance with your words, let it be: he with whom it is found shall become my slave, but the rest of you shall go free.” 11 Then each one quickly lowered his sack to the ground, and each opened his sack. 12 He searched, beginning with the eldest and ending with the youngest; and the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. 13 At this they tore their clothes. Then each one loaded his donkey, and they returned to the city.

14 Judah and his brothers came to Joseph’s house while he was still there; and they fell to the ground before him. 15 Joseph said to them, “What deed is this that you have done? Do you not know that one such as I can practice divination?” 16 And Judah said, “What can we say to my lord? What can we speak? How can we clear ourselves? God has found out the guilt of your servants; here we are then, my lord’s slaves, both we and also the one in whose possession the cup has been found.” 17 But he said, “Far be it from me that I should do so! Only the one in whose possession the cup was found shall be my slave; but as for you, go up in peace to your father.”

Judah Pleads for Benjamin’s Release

18 Then Judah stepped up to him and said, “O my lord, let your servant please speak a word in my lord’s ears, and do not be angry with your servant; for you are like Pharaoh himself. 19 My lord asked his servants, saying, ‘Have you a father or a brother?’ 20 And we said to my lord, ‘We have a father, an old man, and a young brother, the child of his old age. His brother is dead; he alone is left of his mother’s children, and his father loves him.’ 21 Then you said to your servants, ‘Bring him down to me, so that I may set my eyes on him.’ 22 We said to my lord, ‘The boy cannot leave his father, for if he should leave his father, his father would die.’ 23 Then you said to your servants, ‘Unless your youngest brother comes down with you, you shall see my face no more.’ 24 When we went back to your servant my father we told him the words of my lord. 25 And when our father said, ‘Go again, buy us a little food,’ 26 we said, ‘We cannot go down. Only if our youngest brother goes with us, will we go down; for we cannot see the man’s face unless our youngest brother is with us.’ 27 Then your servant my father said to us, ‘You know that my wife bore me two sons; 28 one left me, and I said, Surely he has been torn to pieces; and I have never seen him since. 29 If you take this one also from me, and harm comes to him, you will bring down my gray hairs in sorrow to Sheol.’ 30 Now therefore, when I come to your servant my father and the boy is not with us, then, as his life is bound up in the boy’s life, 31 when he sees that the boy is not with us, he will die; and your servants will bring down the gray hairs of your servant our father with sorrow to Sheol. 32 For your servant became surety for the boy to my father, saying, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, then I will bear the blame in the sight of my father all my life.’ 33 Now therefore, please let your servant remain as a slave to my lord in place of the boy; and let the boy go back with his brothers. 34 For how can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? I fear to see the suffering that would come upon my father.”

Genesis 46:28-47:6 (NRSV)

Jacob Settles in Goshen

28 Israel sent Judah ahead to Joseph to lead the way before him into Goshen. When they came to the land of Goshen, 29 Joseph made ready his chariot and went up to meet his father Israel in Goshen. He presented himself to him, fell on his neck, and wept on his neck a good while. 30 Israel said to Joseph, “I can die now, having seen for myself that you are still alive.” 31 Joseph said to his brothers and to his father’s household, “I will go up and tell Pharaoh, and will say to him, ‘My brothers and my father’s household, who were in the land of Canaan, have come to me. 32 The men are shepherds, for they have been keepers of livestock; and they have brought their flocks, and their herds, and all that they have.’ 33 When Pharaoh calls you, and says, ‘What is your occupation?’ 34 you shall say, ‘Your servants have been keepers of livestock from our youth even until now, both we and our ancestors’—in order that you may settle in the land of Goshen, because all shepherds are abhorrent to the Egyptians.”

47 So Joseph went and told Pharaoh, “My father and my brothers, with their flocks and herds and all that they possess, have come from the land of Canaan; they are now in the land of Goshen.” 2 From among his brothers he took five men and presented them to Pharaoh. 3 Pharaoh said to his brothers, “What is your occupation?” And they said to Pharaoh, “Your servants are shepherds, as our ancestors were.” 4 They said to Pharaoh, “We have come to reside as aliens in the land; for there is no pasture for your servants’ flocks because the famine is severe in the land of Canaan. Now, we ask you, let your servants settle in the land of Goshen.” 5 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Your father and your brothers have come to you. 6 The land of Egypt is before you; settle your father and your brothers in the best part of the land; let them live in the land of Goshen; and if you know that there are capable men among them, put them in charge of my livestock.”

Genesis 47:13-21 (NRSV)

The Famine in Egypt

13 Now there was no food in all the land, for the famine was very severe. The land of Egypt and the land of Canaan languished because of the famine. 14 Joseph collected all the money to be found in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, in exchange for the grain that they bought; and Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh’s house. 15 When the money from the land of Egypt and from the land of Canaan was spent, all the Egyptians came to Joseph, and said, “Give us food! Why should we die before your eyes? For our money is gone.” 16 And Joseph answered, “Give me your livestock, and I will give you food in exchange for your livestock, if your money is gone.” 17 So they brought their livestock to Joseph; and Joseph gave them food in exchange for the horses, the flocks, the herds, and the donkeys. That year he supplied them with food in exchange for all their livestock. 18 When that year was ended, they came to him the following year, and said to him, “We can not hide from my lord that our money is all spent; and the herds of cattle are my lord’s. There is nothing left in the sight of my lord but our bodies and our lands. 19 Shall we die before your eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land in exchange for food. We with our land will become slaves to Pharaoh; just give us seed, so that we may live and not die, and that the land may not become desolate.”

20 So Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh. All the Egyptians sold their fields, because the famine was severe upon them; and the land became Pharaoh’s. 21 As for the people, he made slaves of them from one end of Egypt to the other.

Genesis 50:1-14 (NRSV)

50 Then Joseph threw himself on his father’s face and wept over him and kissed him. 2 Joseph commanded the physicians in his service to embalm his father. So the physicians embalmed Israel; 3 they spent forty days in doing this, for that is the time required for embalming. And the Egyptians wept for him seventy days.

4 When the days of weeping for him were past, Joseph addressed the household of Pharaoh, “If now I have found favor with you, please speak to Pharaoh as follows: 5 My father made me swear an oath; he said, ‘I am about to die. In the tomb that I hewed out for myself in the land of Canaan, there you shall bury me.’ Now therefore let me go up, so that I may bury my father; then I will return.” 6 Pharaoh answered, “Go up, and bury your father, as he made you swear to do.”

7 So Joseph went up to bury his father. With him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his household, and all the elders of the land of Egypt, 8 as well as all the household of Joseph, his brothers, and his father’s household. Only their children, their flocks, and their herds were left in the land of Goshen. 9 Both chariots and charioteers went up with him. It was a very great company. 10 When they came to the threshing floor of Atad, which is beyond the Jordan, they held there a very great and sorrowful lamentation; and he observed a time of mourning for his father seven days. 11 When the Canaanite inhabitants of the land saw the mourning on the threshing floor of Atad, they said, “This is a grievous mourning on the part of the Egyptians.” Therefore the place was named Abel-mizraim; it is beyond the Jordan. 12 Thus his sons did for him as he had instructed them. 13 They carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him in the cave of the field at Machpelah, the field near Mamre, which Abraham bought as a burial site from Ephron the Hittite. 14 After he had buried his father, Joseph returned to Egypt with his brothers and all who had gone up with him to bury his father.


The E document also has an account of Joseph in 40-42.


Genesis 40-42 (NRSV)

The Dreams of Two Prisoners

40 Some time after this, the cupbearer of the king of Egypt and his baker offended their lord the king of Egypt. 2 Pharaoh was angry with his two officers, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, 3 and he put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the prison where Joseph was confined. 4 The captain of the guard charged Joseph with them, and he waited on them; and they continued for some time in custody. 5 One night they both dreamed—the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were confined in the prison—each his own dream, and each dream with its own meaning. 6 When Joseph came to them in the morning, he saw that they were troubled. 7 So he asked Pharaoh’s officers, who were with him in custody in his master’s house, “Why are your faces downcast today?” 8 They said to him, “We have had dreams, and there is no one to interpret them.” And Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Please tell them to me.”

9 So the chief cupbearer told his dream to Joseph, and said to him, “In my dream there was a vine before me, 10 and on the vine there were three branches. As soon as it budded, its blossoms came out and the clusters ripened into grapes. 11 Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand; and I took the grapes and pressed them into Pharaoh’s cup, and placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand.” 12 Then Joseph said to him, “This is its interpretation: the three branches are three days; 13 within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your office; and you shall place Pharaoh’s cup in his hand, just as you used to do when you were his cupbearer. 14 But remember me when it is well with you; please do me the kindness to make mention of me to Pharaoh, and so get me out of this place. 15 For in fact I was stolen out of the land of the Hebrews; and here also I have done nothing that they should have put me into the dungeon.”

16 When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was favorable, he said to Joseph, “I also had a dream: there were three cake baskets on my head, 17 and in the uppermost basket there were all sorts of baked food for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating it out of the basket on my head.” 18 And Joseph answered, “This is its interpretation: the three baskets are three days; 19 within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head—from you!—and hang you on a pole; and the birds will eat the flesh from you.”

20 On the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, he made a feast for all his servants, and lifted up the head of the chief cupbearer and the head of the chief baker among his servants. 21 He restored the chief cupbearer to his cupbearing, and he placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand; 22 but the chief baker he hanged, just as Joseph had interpreted to them. 23 Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.

Joseph Interprets Pharaoh’s Dream

41 After two whole years, Pharaoh dreamed that he was standing by the Nile, 2 and there came up out of the Nile seven sleek and fat cows, and they grazed in the reed grass. 3 Then seven other cows, ugly and thin, came up out of the Nile after them, and stood by the other cows on the bank of the Nile. 4 The ugly and thin cows ate up the seven sleek and fat cows. And Pharaoh awoke. 5 Then he fell asleep and dreamed a second time; seven ears of grain, plump and good, were growing on one stalk. 6 Then seven ears, thin and blighted by the east wind, sprouted after them. 7 The thin ears swallowed up the seven plump and full ears. Pharaoh awoke, and it was a dream. 8 In the morning his spirit was troubled; so he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt and all its wise men. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but there was no one who could interpret them to Pharaoh.

9 Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, “I remember my faults today. 10 Once Pharaoh was angry with his servants, and put me and the chief baker in custody in the house of the captain of the guard. 11 We dreamed on the same night, he and I, each having a dream with its own meaning. 12 A young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. When we told him, he interpreted our dreams to us, giving an interpretation to each according to his dream. 13 As he interpreted to us, so it turned out; I was restored to my office, and the baker was hanged.”

14 Then Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was hurriedly brought out of the dungeon. When he had shaved himself and changed his clothes, he came in before Pharaoh. 15 And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I have had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.” 16 Joseph answered Pharaoh, “It is not I; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.” 17 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “In my dream I was standing on the banks of the Nile; 18 and seven cows, fat and sleek, came up out of the Nile and fed in the reed grass. 19 Then seven other cows came up after them, poor, very ugly, and thin. Never had I seen such ugly ones in all the land of Egypt. 20 The thin and ugly cows ate up the first seven fat cows, 21 but when they had eaten them no one would have known that they had done so, for they were still as ugly as before. Then I awoke. 22 I fell asleep a second time and I saw in my dream seven ears of grain, full and good, growing on one stalk, 23 and seven ears, withered, thin, and blighted by the east wind, sprouting after them; 24 and the thin ears swallowed up the seven good ears. But when I told it to the magicians, there was no one who could explain it to me.”

25 Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “Pharaoh’s dreams are one and the same; God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. 26 The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good ears are seven years; the dreams are one. 27 The seven lean and ugly cows that came up after them are seven years, as are the seven empty ears blighted by the east wind. They are seven years of famine. 28 It is as I told Pharaoh; God has shown to Pharaoh what he is about to do. 29 There will come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt. 30 After them there will arise seven years of famine, and all the plenty will be forgotten in the land of Egypt; the famine will consume the land. 31 The plenty will no longer be known in the land because of the famine that will follow, for it will be very grievous. 32 And the doubling of Pharaoh’s dream means that the thing is fixed by God, and God will shortly bring it about. 33 Now therefore let Pharaoh select a man who is discerning and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt. 34 Let Pharaoh proceed to appoint overseers over the land, and take one-fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt during the seven plenteous years. 35 Let them gather all the food of these good years that are coming, and lay up grain under the authority of Pharaoh for food in the cities, and let them keep it. 36 That food shall be a reserve for the land against the seven years of famine that are to befall the land of Egypt, so that the land may not perish through the famine.”

Joseph’s Rise to Power

37 The proposal pleased Pharaoh and all his servants. 38 Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find anyone else like this—one in whom is the spirit of God?” 39 So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has shown you all this, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. 40 You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command; only with regard to the throne will I be greater than you.” 41 And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.” 42 Removing his signet ring from his hand, Pharaoh put it on Joseph’s hand; he arrayed him in garments of fine linen, and put a gold chain around his neck. 43 He had him ride in the chariot of his second-in-command; and they cried out in front of him, “Bow the knee!” Thus he set him over all the land of Egypt. 44 Moreover Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, and without your consent no one shall lift up hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.” 45 Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-paneah; and he gave him Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, as his wife. Thus Joseph gained authority over the land of Egypt.

46 Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went through all the land of Egypt. 47 During the seven plenteous years the earth produced abundantly. 48 He gathered up all the food of the seven years when there was plenty in the land of Egypt, and stored up food in the cities; he stored up in every city the food from the fields around it. 49 So Joseph stored up grain in such abundance—like the sand of the sea—that he stopped measuring it; it was beyond measure.

50 Before the years of famine came, Joseph had two sons, whom Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, bore to him. 51 Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh, “For,” he said, “God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house.” 52 The second he named Ephraim, “For God has made me fruitful in the land of my misfortunes.”

53 The seven years of plenty that prevailed in the land of Egypt came to an end; 54 and the seven years of famine began to come, just as Joseph had said. There was famine in every country, but throughout the land of Egypt there was bread. 55 When all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread. Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph; what he says to you, do.” 56 And since the famine had spread over all the land, Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe in the land of Egypt. 57 Moreover, all the world came to Joseph in Egypt to buy grain, because the famine became severe throughout the world.

Joseph’s Brothers Go to Egypt

42 When Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why do you keep looking at one another? 2 I have heard,” he said, “that there is grain in Egypt; go down and buy grain for us there, that we may live and not die.” 3 So ten of Joseph’s brothers went down to buy grain in Egypt. 4 But Jacob did not send Joseph’s brother Benjamin with his brothers, for he feared that harm might come to him. 5 Thus the sons of Israel were among the other people who came to buy grain, for the famine had reached the land of Canaan.

6 Now Joseph was governor over the land; it was he who sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed themselves before him with their faces to the ground. 7 When Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he treated them like strangers and spoke harshly to them. “Where do you come from?” he said. They said, “From the land of Canaan, to buy food.” 8 Although Joseph had recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him. 9 Joseph also remembered the dreams that he had dreamed about them. He said to them, “You are spies; you have come to see the nakedness of the land!” 10 They said to him, “No, my lord; your servants have come to buy food. 11 We are all sons of one man; we are honest men; your servants have never been spies.” 12 But he said to them, “No, you have come to see the nakedness of the land!” 13 They said, “We, your servants, are twelve brothers, the sons of a certain man in the land of Canaan; the youngest, however, is now with our father, and one is no more.” 14 But Joseph said to them, “It is just as I have said to you; you are spies! 15 Here is how you shall be tested: as Pharaoh lives, you shall not leave this place unless your youngest brother comes here! 16 Let one of you go and bring your brother, while the rest of you remain in prison, in order that your words may be tested, whether there is truth in you; or else, as Pharaoh lives, surely you are spies.” 17 And he put them all together in prison for three days.

18 On the third day Joseph said to them, “Do this and you will live, for I fear God: 19 if you are honest men, let one of your brothers stay here where you are imprisoned. The rest of you shall go and carry grain for the famine of your households, 20 and bring your youngest brother to me. Thus your words will be verified, and you shall not die.” And they agreed to do so. 21 They said to one another, “Alas, we are paying the penalty for what we did to our brother; we saw his anguish when he pleaded with us, but we would not listen. That is why this anguish has come upon us.” 22 Then Reuben answered them, “Did I not tell you not to wrong the boy? But you would not listen. So now there comes a reckoning for his blood.” 23 They did not know that Joseph understood them, since he spoke with them through an interpreter. 24 He turned away from them and wept; then he returned and spoke to them. And he picked out Simeon and had him bound before their eyes. 25 Joseph then gave orders to fill their bags with grain, to return every man’s money to his sack, and to give them provisions for their journey. This was done for them.

Joseph’s Brothers Return to Canaan

26 They loaded their donkeys with their grain, and departed.

29 When they came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan, they told him all that had happened to them, saying, 30 “The man, the lord of the land, spoke harshly to us, and charged us with spying on the land. 31 But we said to him, ‘We are honest men, we are not spies. 32 We are twelve brothers, sons of our father; one is no more, and the youngest is now with our father in the land of Canaan.’ 33 Then the man, the lord of the land, said to us, ‘By this I shall know that you are honest men: leave one of your brothers with me, take grain for the famine of your households, and go your way. 34 Bring your youngest brother to me, and I shall know that you are not spies but honest men. Then I will release your brother to you, and you may trade in the land.’ ”

35 As they were emptying their sacks, there in each one’s sack was his bag of money. When they and their father saw their bundles of money, they were dismayed. 36 And their father Jacob said to them, “I am the one you have bereaved of children: Joseph is no more, and Simeon is no more, and now you would take Benjamin. All this has happened to me!” 37 Then Reuben said to his father, “You may kill my two sons if I do not bring him back to you. Put him in my hands, and I will bring him back to you.” 38 But he said, “My son shall not go down with you, for his brother is dead, and he alone is left. If harm should come to him on the journey that you are to make, you would bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to Sheol.”


Solomon as Wisdom Teacher

            This approach to Solomon is from the standpoint of the Wisdom school.


1 Kings 3:4-28 (NRSV)

4 The king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for that was the principal high place; Solomon used to offer a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. 5 At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask what I should give you.” 6 And Solomon said, “You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant my father David, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you; and you have kept for him this great and steadfast love, and have given him a son to sit on his throne today. 7 And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David, although I am only a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. 8 And your servant is in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a great people, so numerous they cannot be numbered or counted. 9 Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people?”

10 It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. 11 God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches, or for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, 12 I now do according to your word. Indeed I give you a wise and discerning mind; no one like you has been before you and no one like you shall arise after you. 13 I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor all your life; no other king shall compare with you. 14 If you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your life.”

15 Then Solomon awoke; it had been a dream. He came to Jerusalem where he stood before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. He offered up burnt offerings and offerings of well-being, and provided a feast for all his servants.

Solomon’s Wisdom in Judgment

16 Later, two women who were prostitutes came to the king and stood before him. 17 The one woman said, “Please, my lord, this woman and I live in the same house; and I gave birth while she was in the house. 18 Then on the third day after I gave birth, this woman also gave birth. We were together; there was no one else with us in the house, only the two of us were in the house. 19 Then this woman’s son died in the night, because she lay on him. 20 She got up in the middle of the night and took my son from beside me while your servant slept. She laid him at her breast, and laid her dead son at my breast. 21 When I rose in the morning to nurse my son, I saw that he was dead; but when I looked at him closely in the morning, clearly it was not the son I had borne.” 22 But the other woman said, “No, the living son is mine, and the dead son is yours.” The first said, “No, the dead son is yours, and the living son is mine.” So they argued before the king.

23 Then the king said, “The one says, ‘This is my son that is alive, and your son is dead’; while the other says, ‘Not so! Your son is dead, and my son is the living one.’ ” 24 So the king said, “Bring me a sword,” and they brought a sword before the king. 25 The king said, “Divide the living boy in two; then give half to the one, and half to the other.” 26 But the woman whose son was alive said to the king—because compassion for her son burned within her—“Please, my lord, give her the living boy; certainly do not kill him!” The other said, “It shall be neither mine nor yours; divide it.” 27 Then the king responded: “Give the first woman the living boy; do not kill him. She is his mother.” 28 All Israel heard of the judgment that the king had rendered; and they stood in awe of the king, because they perceived that the wisdom of God was in him, to execute justice.

1 Kings 4:29-34 (NRSV)

Fame of Solomon’s Wisdom

29 God gave Solomon very great wisdom, discernment, and breadth of understanding as vast as the sand on the seashore, 30 so that Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east, and all the wisdom of Egypt. 31 He was wiser than anyone else, wiser than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, Calcol, and Darda, children of Mahol; his fame spread throughout all the surrounding nations. 32 He composed three thousand proverbs, and his songs numbered a thousand and five. 33 He would speak of trees, from the cedar that is in the Lebanon to the hyssop that grows in the wall; he would speak of animals, and birds, and reptiles, and fish. 34 People came from all the nations to hear the wisdom of Solomon; they came from all the kings of the earth who had heard of his wisdom.


1 Kings 10:1-13 (NRSV)

Visit of the Queen of Sheba

(2 Chr 9.1—28)

10 When the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon, (fame due to the name of the Lord), she came to test him with hard questions. 2 She came to Jerusalem with a very great retinue, with camels bearing spices, and very much gold, and precious stones; and when she came to Solomon, she told him all that was on her mind. 3 Solomon answered all her questions; there was nothing hidden from the king that he could not explain to her. 4 When the queen of Sheba had observed all the wisdom of Solomon, the house that he had built, 5 the food of his table, the seating of his officials, and the attendance of his servants, their clothing, his valets, and his burnt offerings that he offered at the house of the Lord, there was no more spirit in her.

6 So she said to the king, “The report was true that I heard in my own land of your accomplishments and of your wisdom, 7 but I did not believe the reports until I came and my own eyes had seen it. Not even half had been told me; your wisdom and prosperity far surpass the report that I had heard. 8 Happy are your wives! Happy are these your servants, who continually attend you and hear your wisdom! 9 Blessed be the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and set you on the throne of Israel! Because the Lord loved Israel forever, he has made you king to execute justice and righteousness.” 10 Then she gave the king one hundred twenty talents of gold, a great quantity of spices, and precious stones; never again did spices come in such quantity as that which the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon.

11 Moreover, the fleet of Hiram, which carried gold from Ophir, brought from Ophir a great quantity of almug wood and precious stones. 12 From the almug wood the king made supports for the house of the Lord, and for the king’s house, lyres also and harps for the singers; no such almug wood has come or been seen to this day.

13 Meanwhile King Solomon gave to the queen of Sheba every desire that she expressed, as well as what he gave her out of Solomon’s royal bounty. Then she returned to her own land, with her servants.

1 Kings 10:23-24 (NRSV)

23 Thus King Solomon excelled all the kings of the earth in riches and in wisdom. 24 The whole earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom, which God had put into his mind.


Song of Songs

            A different type of literature is encountered with the Song of Songs.  It is likely from the time of Solomon, though there is debate at this point.  In the history of exegesis, this text has been the object of more study than any other eight chapters. The allegorical interpretation in Judaism and Christianity was the preferred method of approach. This love song is in the Bible because of the allegorical interpretation of it, as people viewed it as an expression of the love between Israel and God, or later between Christ and the church.  The love between God and Israel, or between Christ and the church, was the focus of interpretation. This instinct that the text concerns romantic love and the divine reflection of that love is an important one. The references to vineyards and gardens may refer back to the Garden of Eden. That story did not end happily. It ended with alienation and separation. This Song suggests restoration of the intimacy that existed there, between man and woman and between humanity and God. With the images of nature, it invites us to consider restoration of the relationship with nature. However, we need to understand the text in the context of the Palestinian love songs that were popular at the time.  This poem expresses the love between two persons, giving some freedom to understand that God created sexual desires, passion, and romance, while at the same time expressing the elusiveness of love, the blessedness of beauty, the importance of devotion, and that love is lasting until death. 

            The book contains several interesting comments about romantic love.


Song of Solomon 1:2-3 (NRSV)

2 Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!

For your love is better than wine,

3      your anointing oils are fragrant,

your name is perfume poured out;

therefore the maidens love you.


            The woman describes herself in this way: “I am black and beautiful.” She also describes her past sexual experiences in this way:


Song of Solomon 1:6 (NRSV)

6 they made me keeper of the vineyards,

but my own vineyard I have not kept!


            We read of the elusive quality of love.


Song of Solomon 1:7 (NRSV)

7 Tell me, you whom my soul loves,

where you pasture your flock,

where you make it lie down at noon;


Song of Solomon 3:2 (NRSV)

2 “I will rise now and go about the city,

in the streets and in the squares;

I will seek him whom my soul loves.”

I sought him, but found him not.


Song of Solomon 3:4 (NRSV)

4 Scarcely had I passed them,

when I found him whom my soul loves.

I held him, and would not let him go

until I brought him into my mother’s house,

and into the chamber of her that conceived me.


Song of Solomon 5:6 (NRSV)

6 I opened to my beloved,

but my beloved had turned and was gone.

My soul failed me when he spoke.

I sought him, but did not find him;

I called him, but he gave no answer.


Song of Solomon 6:1 (NRSV)

Where has your beloved gone,

O fairest among women?

Which way has your beloved turned,

that we may seek him with you?


            The text presents genuine celebration of sensual, romantic love. One interesting phrase in 2:4 is "his banner over me is love.” Another interesting phrase is in 2:16, 6:3 “My beloved is mine, and I am his.” Another phrase in 3:11, “On the day of his wedding, On the day of the gladness of his heart.” We also find this phrase:


Song of Solomon 7:10 (NRSV)

10 I am my beloved’s,

and his desire is for me.


            2:5, "for I am faint with love," may refer to an insatiable sexual desire for her partner. In fact, the following verse and in 8:3 speaks of "His left arm is under my head, his right embraces me," clearly in one love-making position. We also find these verses of celebration:


Song of Solomon 5:16 (NRSV)

16 His speech is most sweet,

and he is altogether desirable.

This is my beloved and this is my friend,

O daughters of Jerusalem.


            Her lover appears to be a peeping tom:


Song of Solomon 2:9 (NRSV)

9 Look, there he stands

behind our wall,

gazing in at the windows,

looking through the lattice.


            The text refers to pre-marital sex with her partner is anticipated. 


Song of Solomon 3:1 (NRSV)

 Upon my bed at night

I sought him whom my soul loves;

I sought him, but found him not;

I called him, but he gave no answer.


            The text refers to how volatile romantic love can be.


Song of Solomon 3:5, 8:4 (NRSV)

5 I adjure you, …

do not stir up or awaken love

until it is ready!

Song of Solomon 6:5 (NRSV)

5 Turn away your eyes from me,

for they overwhelm me!


            He praises her body in chapter 4--all of it.  We find another praise of her body in chapter 7. A single glance from her could arouse passion in him in 4:9. The reference to the "garden" in 4:16 may refer to the sexual act itself.

            We need to think of the celebration of the sensual:


Song of Solomon 5:1 (NRSV)

 I come to my garden, my sister, my bride;

Eat, friends, drink,

and be drunk with love.


            He poetically expresses his desire to fondle her breasts:


Song of Solomon 7:7-9 (NRSV)

7 You are stately as a palm tree,

and your breasts are like its clusters.

8 I say I will climb the palm tree

and lay hold of its branches.

O may your breasts be like clusters of the vine,

and the scent of your breath like apples,

9 and your kisses like the best wine

that goes down smoothly,

gliding over lips and teeth.


 The woman expresses her sexual desire as well:


Song of Solomon 5:4 (NRSV)

4 My beloved thrust his hand into the opening,

and my inmost being yearned for him.


            The text shows the attachment that romantic love creates between two people that translates into a lifting up and making special the object of affection.


Song of Solomon 6:9 (NRSV)

9 My dove, my perfect one, is the only one,

the darling of her mother,

flawless to her that bore her.

The maidens saw her and called her happy;

the queens and concubines also, and they praised her.


            The woman suggests that when he comes to her, she will have sexual pleasures from the past awaiting him, as well as some new pleasures:


Song of Solomon 7:13 (NRSV)

13 The mandrakes give forth fragrance,

and over our doors are all choice fruits,

new as well as old,

which I have laid up for you, O my beloved.


            Even with the elusiveness of romantic love a theme throughout, it concludes with the abiding nature of love:


set me like a seal on your hear, like a seal on your arm.

For love is strong as Death, passion as relentless as Sheol

Love no flood can quench,

 no torrents drown.

were a man to offer all his family wealth to buy love,

contempt is all that he would gain.


The love she has will bring peace to him:


Song of Solomon 8:10 (NRSV)

10 I was a wall,

and my breasts were like towers;

then I was in his eyes

as one who brings peace.




            Saul was on the lips of everyone. He soon became a subject of poetry. For theology, he became the anointed one who slipped from Yahweh’s hand, the one quitting the stage, and yielding to him who was coming. Saul is the god-forsaken, driven from one delusion to the other. He ended up desperate and alone. Right to the end, the stories follow the unhappy king on his with a deep human sympathy, and unfold a tragedy that in its final act rises to solemn grandeur. He was called to be a a special tool of the will of Yahweh in history, for it was through him that Yahweh wanted to give effect to his plan to save Israel. On this task, he came to disaster. The life of the anointed was still subject to other laws than was the life of ordinary human beings, and that it was threatened by the possibility of much more dreadful disaster. Saul is the type of the anointed who went to pieces in the sight of God, whose collapse, in darkness and despair, the story-teller followed up with deep sympathy.

            Samuel chooses David. He enters the service of Saul.  The story of Goliath is clearly a combination of two accounts that were combined in the fourth century.  The affection of Jonathan, Saul's son, for David is recurring theme.  Saul's jealousy increasing mental illness becomes an issue.  David must leave and avoid Saul.  He becomes an outlaw, hiding in Philistine territory at times.  After the death of Saul and Jonathan in battle, David is proclaimed king at Hebron in 1010 BC.  He becomes king over all Israel seven years later.  Part of the intrigue of the period was that Abner, Saul's commander of the army, was killed by David's troops, though David is absolved of responsibility for this.  It is only at this time that Jerusalem comes under Israelite control, David making a neutral site his capitol City.  He also desires to make Jerusalem the religious center for the 12 tribes, providing unity for them, so he brings the Ark of the Covenant to the city.  Nathan, a prophet, proclaims a covenant with David that God is establishing, with both David and his descendants.  He is called the Lord's servant throughout.  David is successful in battle.  However, he is not viewed as successful in his family life.  The census David undertook was associated with a plague in Israel. From a modern perspective, an epidemic may have spread by means of the takers of the census. However, it came to have the interpretation that the Lord sought to stop the census and judged what David did as rebellion. Yet, even from a modern perspective, we can understand the desire to make sense out of occurrences that do not seem to make sense. Of course, the Chronicler shifts theologically to Satan as the origin of the census. In any case, the end of the plague outside of Jerusalem serves to emphasize the chosen nature of Jerusalem. The intrigue surrounding the birth of Solomon and the sin with Bathsheba and judgment by Nathan are given.  The story of Absalom, who challenges David's leadership through organizing a rebellion which David seems to have little will to deal with, is also given.  At his death, David gives leadership over to Solomon, although another son would have been older and more in line to the throne.  The other son dies, as well as other people who might be a problem to Solomon, though he is absolved of responsibility.  Solomon is pictured as a wise man, in continuation with the covenant with David.  He undertakes to build an expensive temple, using forced labor.  Although David could not build the temple because he was a man of war, the temple was still built by booty received from war. Then the palace for him is built.  He begins trading during this period, and this may be where contact with the wisdom traditions of other lands began to have their influence upon Solomon's court.


Rise of kingship

            The rise of kingship had a religious dimension. As such, it was far more profoundly involved with the inner experience of the people than any element of political life could ever be. It was both strongly affected by religious movements and had its own effect upon them. Attempts have been made to clarify the theme of sacral kingship on the broadest possible basis afforded by the comparative study religions. It is all too easy to underrate the spiritual power of the concept of Yahweh and its transforming effect on traditional material, when a pattern of divine kingship based on myth and cult is used to give a definitive explanation of the Israelite conception of the king.

            The dynasty of David was the great new thing that Yahweh set up in the history of Israel.           One interesting point is that Israel never brought the covenant with David into its confessional statement of divine activity in history. That God guaranteed the continuance of the throne of David did not reach the framework of saving history. The older stories of David show the anointed in all the frailty of his human nature, and on occasion portray him in scandalous situations. He is not the incarnation of the deity, as in Egyptian myth. We first discover David in three mutually exclusive stories. One is David coming to the courts of Saul as a harpist, included with little religious objective. The second brings the youthful David into the camp, where accomplishes the deed of slaying Goliath. We also find David and his election and anointing in his youth, recording a religious call. David initially gets entangled in secular political quarrels that reveal no trace of any pressing towards the goal of this office. He received support for kingship for human initiative. The great new thing, the endorsement and guarantee of this throne by Yahweh, did not take place until later, when David dwelt in Jerusalem, and with the prophecy of Nathan. The original prophecy consisted in Yahweh’s promise to build a house for David, to establish his authority as king, and to offer him a father and son relationship. Yahweh will be father to the anointed, and the latter is to be a son. The Nathan prophecy became highly creative in the tradition. People did not forget this promise of Yahweh, even though later generations interpreted it anew and made it relevant to the present. Messianic expectation arose out of the soil of this covenant with David. The Succession Document took up the prophecy and incorporated it as one of its most important component parts. The event of the covenant with David was at once set in a wise historical context.

            The Succession Document is a unity from beginning to end. It begins with a discordant note, but stating that the queen is barren, and follows this with the Nathan prophecy. This gives the theme and creates the tension. How will Yahweh make good the promise to build a house for David? This tension holds the reader in suspense until the last act, when the problem becomes fraught with the highest degree of drama. It keeps giving dark hints at the main problem. Ammon, the eldest son of David, falls victim to his own licentiousness. Absalom falls victim to his own ambitious schemings. The possibility that a descendant of Saul might be the successor of David is also ruled out. At last, the young Solomon comes into view. His older stepbrother, Adonijah, would have had the better title in law to claim the throne, but at that moment Nathan and Bathsheba succeed in enforcing the accession of Solomon.

            What impresses the theologian who reads this history is the worldliness of the picture. It portrays character here. In the center of it all stands David, a man with strong inner antagonisms. As a public official, he was a far-sighted genius. As a man, many passions drove him. He could succumb to crime. Yet, he was always capable of generous impulses, and had a genuine dignity in misfortune. As he grew old, he had to experience the fading of his splendor and the transference of favor and popularity to his sons. To these sons, he was attached to the extent of weakness and guilt, and this brought his throne to the brink of ruin. This undemonstrative and yet very penetrating artistry in psychological portrayal goes far beyond the possibilities of depicting human nature that were open to the older narratives. The utter candor of this historian’s openness to the world stands up to the test, for the people whom he portrays are certainly anything but religious characters. He allows the thoughtful reader to see the whole range of love and hate, intrigue, ambition, humiliations, cunning, and tests of loyalty, without casting blame on what is dark or praising what is light. The freedom that this historian reserved to himself in his treatment of the king is something unique in the ancient East. An air of austere nobility broods over the whole work. God acts upon the sinner through the eye for eye principle.

            The office of the monarchy has its roots in the office of the primitive chieftain endowed with divine powers, exercising prophetic and royal functions. The king appropriated to himself the exercise of military power, and of the religious limits. Nevertheless, he kept the character of a religious leader, and it depended largely on the trend of the times and the general spiritual state of the nation to what extent this character made itself felt. The incorporation of the king into the cultus ensures that this primitive outlook is preserved. Typically, the king of this period used religion to uphold the state. However, this relationship was bound to assume quite another form when the religion of Israel received it and transformed it. National unity in the form of the people of the Lord was a religious structure. It was a religious confederacy with considerable independence for its individual members. This had already posed the question whether the changeover to a nation-state with centralized government by the king and his officials could take place without friction. The religious pretensions of the monarchy were always weighed in the balance, and it was refused any assurance from a dogma of worship and ritual involving the sovereign’s divine sonship. In fact, humanly speaking, the king had an impossible task. This was the reason why not only many individual monarchs, but finally the institutions itself, broke on the insuperable obstacles in its way.

            The tension between the Mosaic brand of charismatic leadership and an official position like that of the king and court existed from the beginning. This move from the sporadic outbursts of power in both religion and politics and toward settled political and religious institutions appear as a lack of trust in Yahweh. As a matter of experience, the monarchy strove to make itself hereditary, and to secure an inalienable authority quite independent of the qualities of the person filling it. Was it right to hand over to such an office the ascendancy over the free working of the spirit? The more people saw Yahweh working in the form of unexpected interventions in the course of events, of explosive acts of power shattering in their force, the less they were inclined to acknowledge as the principal champion of the Yahweh religion a man who held office quite without reference to these divine operations. In these circumstances, the old conflict between enthusiasm and official status was bound to break out. They feared the abuse of royal power. Part of this fear was the prospect of the despotic use of national resources. Behind this, those who had hitherto been the nation’s religious leaders saw another danger. Religion might be used as a means to an end, as just one more horse harnessed to the chariot of dynastic and nationalist designs. The purity of the religious motto, Yahweh alone, seemed imperiled.

            The documents clearly show the continuation of the need for the charismatic form of leadership.  The seers and the prophets become convinced that the monarchy was politically inevitable and accepted it only on the understanding that it would be charismatic in character. The rise of Saul suggests he is a step beyond the judge, but still dependent upon the sudden presence of the Lord coming upon him.  The decisive factor in the mind of the ancient historian was the charismatic character of the man, his personal enthusiasm. What makes the king is the proof in his person that he is a man filled with divine power, and therefore capable of greater things than other people are. The attempt to attribute the desire for a king to purely the will of people is a later interpretation, based upon the historical experience with kingship.  The rise of kingship at its beginning is the continuation of the form of charismatic leadership for the previous centuries.  It did not destroy the tribal federation, but completed its purpose.  Indeed, it appears the internal dynamics of charismatic leadership would eventually lead to such a leader being over all Israel.  The unspoken contrast implied by the portrait of Saul is between the man inspired by God and the ordinary official. As Saul is made king, by the acclamation of the people, a new dimension is added.  The will of people is made a part of what formally had been solely the will of God.  In this way, the external threat from the Philistines could be met with more success.  However, in the form of kingship, was concept of a dynasty a given?  It would appear not.  After all, the documents indicate resistance to the belief that kingship means dynasty.  This suggests that even kingship was viewed as the choice of God, who would through the endowment of certain gifts upon an individual designate a king.

            It became apparent that monarchy could not be put into practice because of Saul. What had been possible in the case of the judges over a short period and with limited objectives was not enough for a monarchy designed for permanence, and entrusted with solving the critical problems of the nation’s destiny. A broader foundation for its existence was needed than the force of a strong personality. A constitutional basis was required for the king to collect his forces and establish his influence in the intervals of peace between a standing army of professional soldiers. It remained to be seen whether the official power entrusted to the king could be adapted to the needs of the religion of Yahweh, or would turn out to be its enemy. The tragedy of Saul is that he failed to unite these two different aspects of the monarchy.

            David understood that he had to deal with two main representative parties in the religion of Yahweh. As king, he succeeded in allying the charismatic and institutional conceptions of religion. He reconciled both in the monarchy. He was at the same time able to raise this into a much safer and less vulnerable structure than Saul had done. piety purified by the harsh experiences of his life provided him with the presuppositions indispensable to this work. His actions reveal a breadth of feeling and thought with a capacity for working otherwise incompatible elements in double harness such as few men have possessed. He brought the Ark to Jerusalem and formed attendants, the appointment of his sons to priesthood, and desired to build a temple, point to his creation of a close association between the royal and religious functions. Furthermore, he consolidated his kingdom by making covenants with the elders. He incorporated conquered neigh boring states. He made clever choice of a capital. He organized a standing army. He established a bureaucracy and a court circle. All these measures patently governed by a plan of making the constitutional and domestic basis of the monarchy as secure as possible. With all this, he still managed to keep the prophetic party on the side of the king. He sincerely set so high a value on these charismatic representatives of the will of God and felt an inner kinship with them. The prophets bestow the divine approval on his efforts to stabilize the kingdom, and promise that his dynasty shall endure forever, a concession one would hardly have thought possible from the charismatic after their disappointment over Saul. David’s reign demonstrated the possibility of the office of king within the framework of the Yahweh religion. David’s peculiar achievement was that he was able to unite the diverse religious forces to be found in Israel under the leadership of the monarchy, and at the same time to secure the indispensable constitutional basis that would ensure the effectiveness of the kingly office. The rise of David was largely through the loyalty of the military class.  They had confidence in his leadership against the Philistines.  The acceptance of David's leadership can be assured only as he shows military leadership at a national level, whose authority is from the Lord's choice, and can be demonstrated only in warlike deeds at the head of the national army, and be completely recognized only upon the acclamation of the people.  The clear distinction between Judah and Israel at this point would have consequences in the future.  Neither David nor Solomon completely brought the two together.  David's designation of his own city-state, Jerusalem, as the capitol of Israel and Judah, suggest that he never intended the two territories to be united fully.  His own power was consolidated through the expansion of the national army and at the expense of the tribal forces.

            This is further shown in the designation of his successor. Solomon had no vision to realize how vitally important this religious foundation was for kingship. His ideal was the absolutism of Pharaoh or the king of Tyre. In pursuit of this ideal, he tried to safeguard the religious position of the monarch by the one-sided expedient of linking it solidly with the sacramental and cultic wing. By joining the royal palace to the sanctuary within a single containing wall he provided for all to see a symbol of the unique position that the king now enjoyed by virtue of a holiness inherent in his office and independent of the holder. An intensification of royal authority along these lines was certainly not in keeping with the ideas of the original religion of Yahweh. The prophets regarded such changes as abandoning the attitude of steadfast obedience to Yahweh in favor of a position of inviolable human power. In the view of the Deuteronomic history, Solomon’s accession saw the kingdom enter on just that road that they had always feared as a dangerous deviation. The decline of Solomon is attributed to his wives that he takes from foreign lands; his enemies in other lands, and the revolt of Jeroboam that seems to be at the instigation of prophet who predicted the kingdom would be divided after Solomon's death. If at the end of his reign, we find prophets on the side of the enemies of the king. The counter revolution is completed under Solomon.  Israel becomes increasingly preoccupied with politics and power.  The upper class dominates the religion of Israel.  The vision of a values based community becomes increasingly placed in the background.  There is no longer any thought of God's choice or of the will of the people.  The system that David had built demanded more assurances than that, so he designated Solomon, who is then accepted by the leadership in Jerusalem.  Now, a dynasty becomes a reality.  The problem is that kingship does not have an ideology other than the divine delegation of power to the king.  This would appear to have been such a large change, beyond the capabilities of the people to assimilate them, and against their own traditions of city-states and tribal authority, that after Solomon they reverted back to their previous organizational systems.

Divided Monarchy


                The divided monarchy continued into most of the eighth century, with Iron Age II going from 900-600 BC.  Assyria becomes the dominant world power around 883-859 under the reign of Assurnasirpal II.  Egypt is weak during this period.  Tiglath-Pileser III, 745-727 will oversee the reviving of Assyria.  He dies, but Sargon II, 721-705, continues his push south to Israel and defeats Samaria, and deports the people from the Israel. This was the time of Assyrian power rising and presenting a threat to the Northern Kingdom.  The capital city fell in 721 BC.  Eventually, Jerusalem itself would be threatened, but spared in 701 BC. 

            During this period, the Northern Kingdom, also known as Samaria and Israel, separated from the Southern Kingdom, known as Judah.  At Shechem a division between north and south occurred soon after the death of Solomon, again over the issue of forced labor.  This was in 931 BC. 

            The 800’s BC saw the work of Elijah and Elisha as prophets.  It also saw the beginning work of the Deuteronomic school in the northern kingdom and the priestly school begins work on its documents in the south.  The Deuteronomic views a succession of kings as evil, mostly because they worshipped Canaanite deities.

            During the reign of Jeroboam II, the Northern Kingdom experienced policy successes, luxury, abundance, and injustice. Some hostile incidents occurred around the border.

            During this period, Judah remained more directly related to the city-state of Jerusalem.  It had been a unified system for a much longer period than the territory to the north. With Israel, or the northern kingdom, the situation was different.  The ideal of a charismatic leadership re-asserted itself after the death of Solomon.  Though a dynasty kept trying to be created through the influence of the leadership around Samaria, this was not necessarily the objective of the rest of the people. With Judah, the expectation arose that only someone who was from the family of David could rule, and this rule could only occur in Jerusalem.  It is out of this complex of ideas that the hope of a Messiah would be born.

            Judah escaped serious threats in the 800’s. In the 700’s it experienced the threat from Assyria. Tiglath Pileser was king and advance along the coast to Egypt. Judah joined an anti-Assyrian coalition, and then they appealed to Assyria for help in the Syro-Ephraimite war. Assyria incorporated the northern kingdom into its provincial system in 721. This made Assyria the nearest neighbor of Judah, with the imperial boundary only a few miles north of Jerusalem. It sought independence from Assyria in three ways. One was a rebellion over which Assyria gained victory at Rapihu in 720. The second was a movement toward revolt in 713-711, when Hezekiah broke off allegiance to Assyria, to whom Judah had been vassal since 732. Judah again escaped destruction. The third rebellion broke out in Askelon at the time of a change in throne in Nineveh in 705, while Sennacherib did not appear until 701 and gained most of the kingdom of Hezekiah.


"The Instruction of Amen-em-opet," is an Egyptian writing of this period.

The punishment of the wicked is sure.


             Those who do evil, the very river-bank abandons them,

              And their floodwater carry them off.

              The north wind comes down that it may end their hour;

              It is joined to the tempest;

              The thunder is loud, and the crocodiles are wicked.


One is not to worry about the future.


Do not spend the night fearful of the morrow.  At daybreak what is the morrow like?


One is not to respond to an opponent with violence.


Do not greet thy heated opponent in thy violence,

                          nor hurt thy own heart thereby.


One is to be careful about the use of words.


                        Another good deed in the heart of the god

                              is to pause before speaking.

                        Empty not your belly to everybody,

                        nor damage thus the regard for you.

                        Spread not your words to the common people,

                        nor associate to yourself one too outgoing of heart.

                        Better are people whose talk remains in their belly

                        than those who speak it out injuriously.

                        Do not talk with people falsely--

                        the abomination of the god.

                        Do not cut off your heart from your tongue,

                        that all your affairs may be successful.

                        Be sincere in the presence of the common people,

                        for one is safe in the hand of the god.

                        God hates those who falsify words;

                        their great abomination is the contentious belly.


One is to be careful concerning riches.


            Cast not your heart in pursuit of riches,

            For there is no ignoring Fate and Fortune.

            Place not your heart upon externals,

            For all persons belong to their appointed hour.

            Do not strain to seek an excess

            When your needs are safe for you.

            Better is poverty in the hand of the god

            Than riches in a storehouse...

            Better is bread, when the heart is happy,

            Than riches with sorrow.


One is to have integrity in business dealilngs.


Do not lean on the scales nor falsify the weights

            Nor damage the fractions of the measure.

            Make not for yourself weights which are deficient;

            They abound in grief through the will of God.

            If riches are brought to thee by robbery,

            They will not spend the night with you;

            At daybreak they are not in your house;

            Their places may be seen, but they are not.


One is to treat with respect those not fortunate in life.


            Do not laugh at a blind person or tease a dwarf

            Nor injure the affairs of the lame.

            Do not tease a person who is in the hand of the god,

            For humanity is clay and straw,

            And the god is the builder.

            He is tearing down and building up every day.

            Be not greedy for the property of a poor people,

            Nor hunger for their bread.

            Guard yourself against robbing the oppressed

            and against overbearing the disabled. 

            If you find a large debt against a poor person,

            Make it into three parts,

            Forgive two, and let one stand...

            Better is praise as one who loves people

            Than riches in a storehouse...

            God desires respect for the poor

            More than the honoring of the exalted.


One is to speak the court with respect.


            Do not bear witness with false words,

            Nor support another person thus with your tongue.

            Do not accept the bribe of a powerful person...


One needs to accept the role one has in contributing to wrong-doing in this world.


            Say not: "I have no wrongdoing,"

            Nor yet strain to seek quarreling.

Biblical Material

            As Israel came into existence as a nation, it looked toward two significant events in the way God dealt with them. The first was the whole complex of material around the covenant at Sinai. The history of the patriarchs, Moses, and the Tribal Federation revolve around the way God dealt with them at Sinai and under the leadership of Moses. The history contained in Joshua and Judges is a confession of sin, in that they failed to accept Yahweh as their king and the failure to keep covenant with each other, symbolized by the tragic conclusion of Judges. The second significant event in the dealing God had with Israel was the covenant with David and his dynasty. The history contained in Samuel and Kings are a record of the failure of that covenant, due to the failure to give worship only to Yahweh and to the failure to fulfill the obligations of the covenant to each other, symbolized in the exile of 721 and 587.

            The story of Kings shows the rise, decline, and fall of the monarchy.  The themes are loyalty to the worship of the Lord in temple, fulfillment of the word of God in prophecy, and divine judgment because of the sin of the people.  All of this shows the interests of the author of Deuteronomy once again. Sources include the history of the divided monarchy, which includes annals of the kings, the story of the House of Ahab, and prophetic legend and folk tales surrounding Elijah and Elisha. Formalized during this period were the Ten Commandments, the covenant code of Exodus 21-23, and the Ritual code of Exodus 34. The biblical material during this period includes the Proverbs that interpret wisdom in light of the prophetic emphasis upon the Lord.        One text that may reflect this period is the account of the levitical cities in Joshua 21, which reflects where Levites had their teaching center of Israel between 775 and 725 BC.

            The Elijah cycle goes from I Kings 17 to II Kings 1. It involves the story of the drought and defeat of the prophets of Baal, the encounter with God at Mt. Horeb in which Elijah becomes aware of God’s presence in the light breeze, the Aramaen wars, and the injustice of Naboth’s vineyard. 

            The Elisha cycle goes from II Kings 2 through 13.  This includes Elijah being taken into heaven, miracles by Elisha which most likely originated around the prophetic circle around Mount Carmel, the Noabite wars, the Aramaean wars, the story of Jehu as one anointed by a disciple of Elisha but still not giving up all the gods of the past.

900’s BC History for Assyria

            The most important factor in the history of Mesopotamia in the 10th century was the continuing threat from the Aramaean seminomads. Again and again, the kings of both Babylonia and Assyria were forced to repel their invasions. Even though the Aramaeans were not able to gain a foothold in the main cities, there are evidences of them in many rural areas. Ashur-dan II (934–912) succeeded in suppressing the Aramaeans and the mountain people, in this way stabilizing the Assyrian boundaries. He reintroduced the use of the Assyrian dialect in his written records.

            Adad-nirari II (c. 911–891) left detailed accounts of his wars and his efforts to improve agriculture. He led six campaigns against Aramaean intruders from northern Arabia. In two campaigns against Babylonia he forced Shamash-mudammiq (c. 930–904) to surrender extensive territories. Shamash-mudammiq was murdered, and a treaty with his successor, Nabu-shum-ukin (c. 904–888), secured peace for many years.


900’s BC biblical material

            In Israel, Jeroboam I reigned from 931 to 910. The people of the Northern Kingdom went to the leadership of Jeroboam I in order to rebel against the policies of Rehoboam. The text relates that this political division had an accompanying religious division.


1 Kings 12:26-33 (NRSV)

26 Then Jeroboam said to himself, “Now the kingdom may well revert to the house of David. 27 If this people continues to go up to offer sacrifices in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, the heart of this people will turn again to their master, King Rehoboam of Judah; they will kill me and return to King Rehoboam of Judah.” 28 So the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold. He said to the people, “You have gone up to Jerusalem long enough. Here are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.” 29 He set one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan. 30 And this thing became a sin, for the people went to worship before the one at Bethel and before the other as far as Dan. 31 He also made houses on high places, and appointed priests from among all the people, who were not Levites. 32 Jeroboam appointed a festival on the fifteenth day of the eighth month like the festival that was in Judah, and he offered sacrifices on the altar; so he did in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves that he had made. And he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places that he had made. 33 He went up to the altar that he had made in Bethel on the fifteenth day in the eighth month, in the month that he alone had devised; he appointed a festival for the people of Israel, and he went up to the altar to offer incense.


An anonymous prophet denounced this altar.

            In the Southern Kingdom, Rehoboam reigned from 931-913. The judgment upon was that he built high places for worship and used male sacred prostitutes, copying the worship practices of the Canaanites.

            In the Southern Kingdom, Abijam ruled from 913-911. His mother was Maacah, descendant of Absalom. Nothing of significance occurred.

            In the Northern Kingdom, Nadab, son of Jeroboam I, ruled from 910-909. Baasha, son of Ahijah, of the House of Issachar, murdered him at Gibbethon while he besieged the Philistine town of Gibbethon. Baasha killed his family, thus ending the family of Jeroboam I, even as prophesied by Ahijah.

800’s BC History

            Tukulti-Ninurta II (c. 890–884), the son of Adad-nirari II, preferred Nineveh to Ashur. He fought campaigns in southern Armenia. He was portrayed on stelae in blue and yellow enamel in the late Hittite style, showing him under a winged sun—a theme adopted from Egyptian art. The son of Tukulti-Ninurta II, Ashurnasirpal II (883–859) continued the policy of conquest and expansion. He left a detailed account of his campaigns, which were impressive in their cruelty. Defeated enemies were impaled, flayed, or beheaded in great numbers. Mass deportations, however, were found to serve the interests of the growing empire better than terror. Through the systematic exchange of native populations, conquered regions were denationalized. The result was a submissive, mixed population in which the Aramaean element became the majority. This provided the labour force for the various public works in the metropolitan centres of the Assyrian empire. Ashurnasirpal II rebuilt Kalakh, founded by Shalmaneser I, and made it his capital. Ashur remained the centre of the worship of the god Ashur—in whose name all the wars of conquest were fought. A third capital was Nineveh.

            Ashurnasirpal II was the first to use cavalry units to any large extent in addition to infantry and war-chariot troops. He also was the first to employ heavy, mobile battering rams and wall breakers in his sieges. Following after the conquering troops came officials from all branches of the civil service, because the king wanted to lose no time in incorporating the new lands into his empire. The supremacy of Assyria over its neighbouring states owed much to the proficiency of the government service under the leadership of the minister Gabbilani-eresh. The campaigns of Ashurnasirpal II led him mainly to southern Armenia and Mesopotamia. After a series of heavy wars, he incorporated Mesopotamia as far as the Euphrates River. A campaign to Syria encountered little resistance. There was no great war against Babylonia. Ashurnasirpal, like other Assyrian kings, may have been moved by religion not to destroy Babylonia, which had almost the same gods as Assyria. Both empires must have profited from mutual trade and cultural exchange. The Babylonians, under the energetic Nabu-apla-iddina (c. 887–855) attacked the Aramaeans in southern Mesopotamia and occupied the valley of the Euphrates River to about the mouth of the Khabur River.

            Ashurnasirpal, so brutal in his wars, was able to inspire architects, structural engineers, and artists and sculptors to heights never before achieved. He built and enlarged temples and palaces in several cities. His most impressive monument was his own palace in Kalakh, covering a space of 269,000 square feet (25,000 square metres). Hundreds of large limestone slabs were used in murals in the staterooms and living quarters. Most of the scenes were done in relief, but painted murals also have been found. Most of them depict mythological themes and symbolic fertility rites, with the king participating. Brutal war pictures were aimed to discourage enemies. The chief god of Kalakh was Ninurta, god of war and the hunt. The tower of the temple dedicated to Ninurta also served as an astronomical observatory. Kalakh soon became the cultural centre of the empire. Ashurnasirpal claimed to have entertained 69,574 guests at the opening ceremonies of his palace.
            The son and successor of Ashurnasirpal was Shalmaneser III (858–824). His father's equal in both brutality and energy, he was less realistic in his undertakings. His inscriptions, in a peculiar blend of Assyrian and Babylonian, record his considerable achievements but are not always able to conceal his failures. His campaigns were directed mostly against Syria. While he was able to conquer northern Syria and make it a province, in the south he could only weaken the strong state of Damascus and was unable, even after several wars, to eliminate it. In 841 he laid unsuccessful siege to Damascus. Also in 841 King Jehu of Israel was forced to pay tribute. In his invasion of Cilicia, Shalmaneser had only partial success. The same was true of the kingdom of Urartu in Armenia, from which, however, the troops returned with immense quantities of lumber and building stone. The king and, in later years, the general Dayyan-Ashur went several times to western Iran, where they found such states as Mannai in northwestern Iran and, farther away in the southeast, the Persians. They also encountered the Medes during these wars. Horse tribute was collected.

            In Babylonia, Marduk-zakir-shumi I ascended the throne about the year 855. His brother Marduk-bel-usati rebelled against him, and in 851 the king was forced to ask Shalmaneser for help. Shalmaneser was only too happy to oblige; when the usurper had been finally eliminated (850), Shalmaneser went to southern Babylonia, which at that time was almost completely dominated by Aramaeans. There he encountered, among others, the Chaldeans, mentioned for the first time in 878 BC, who were to play a leading role in the history of later times; Shalmaneser made them tributaries.

            During his long reign he built temples, palaces, and fortifications in Assyria as well as in the other capitals of his provinces. His artists created many statues and stelae. Among the best known is the Black Obelisk, which includes a picture of Jehu of Israel paying tribute. The bronze doors from the town of Imgur-Enlil (Balawat) in Assyria portray the course of his campaigns and other undertakings in rows of pictures, often very lifelike. Hundreds of delicately carved ivories were carried away from Phoenicia, and many of the artists along with them; these later made Kalakh a centre for the art of ivory sculpture.

            In the last four years of the reign of Shalmaneser, the crown prince Ashur-da'in-apla led a rebellion. The old king appointed his younger son Shamshi-Adad as the new crown prince. Forced to flee to Babylonia, Shamshi-Adad V (823–811) finally managed to regain the kingship with the help of Marduk-zakir-shumi I under humiliating conditions. As king he campaigned with varying success in southern Armenia and Azerbaijan, later turning against Babylonia. He won several battles against the Babylonian kings Marduk-balassu-iqbi and Baba-aha-iddina (about 818–12) and pushed through to Chaldea. Babylonia remained independent, however.
            Shamshi-Adad V died while Adad-nirari III (810–783) was still a minor. His Babylonian mother, Sammu-ramat, took over the regency, governing with great energy until 806. The Greeks, who called her Semiramis, credited her with legendary accomplishments, but historically little is known about her. Adad-nirari later led several campaigns against the Medes and also against Syria and Palestine. In 804 he reached Gaza, but Damascus proved invincible. He also fought in Babylonia, helping to restore order in the north.



800’s BC biblical material

            In the Southern Kingdom, Asa ruled from 911-870. He rid the country of male prostitutes and idols. He did not give his grandmother, Maacah, the dignity of the queen mother. He did not destroy the high places that had altars. He was loyal to the Lord. He was at war with the king of the Northern Kingdom, Baasha. In the end, he developed a disease in his feat.

            In the Northern Kingdom, Baasha ruled from 909-886. He did not fulfill his potential, as the prophet Jehu, son of Hanani spoke in his prophesy against him.

            In the Northern Kingdom, Elah ruled from 886-885. He apparently had a drinking problem, for during one his drinking escapades, Zimri, one of his officers, assassinated him. Zimri butchered the entire family of Baasha.

            In the Northern Kingdom, Zimri ruled in 885. When the people preferred Omri, another officer, he committed suicide.

            In the Northern Kingdom, Omri ruled from 885-874 BC. He continued the practice of worshipping idols.

            Ahab, son of Omri, ruled from 874-853. The text remembers him as being particularly displeasing to the Lord. He received support from one prophet for his Aramaean wars. However, the band of prophets in the wilderness generally went against him. In a second war with Aram, false prophets looked for success for Ahab, while Micaiah predicts defeat. In fact, Ahab is killed Ramoth in Gilead.

Elijah Cycle

            Elijah is the first prophet of whom we have a clearly drawn historical figure. He is unapproachable, unpredictable, feared, and even hated. However, is always someone with whom one must reckon. A miracle with the widow at Zarepath had the woman receive an endless flow of flour and oil during a drought. Yet, as Jesus would later point out, we must balance this act of mercy with the reality that many other people continued to starve. Further, her son became sick, and Elijah raised him to life. Again, Jesus pointed out that many people died, even if God worked through Elijah to heal this boy.

            Elijah came from Gilead, suggesting the purest form of worship of Yahweh in Israel. He had horror at the syncretism of the nation, a reality of the religious life of Israel after David incorporated large amounts of formerly Canaanite land. Although external worship and ritual remained much the same, he wondered if people were not worshipping Baal as the giver of the gifts of nature. The policies pursued by Omri and Ahab made the matter of syncretism acute. The upper classes started worship of Baal. At a time when the pure worship of Yahweh was threatened, Elijah appeared.

            The gathering on Mount Carmel suggests that Elijah had been able to force authorities to take action on the question of who would be God of Israel. He presented the matter to his fellow citizens as a matter of either-or. No one else in his time saw the matter as clearly as he did. Most assumed that they could work out some accommodation between the worship of Baal and Yahweh.


1 Kings 18:20-40 (NRSV)

20 So Ahab sent to all the Israelites, and assembled the prophets at Mount Carmel. 21 Elijah then came near to all the people, and said, “How long will you go limping with two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” The people did not answer him a word. 22 Then Elijah said to the people, “I, even I only, am left a prophet of the Lord; but Baal’s prophets number four hundred fifty. 23 Let two bulls be given to us; let them choose one bull for themselves, cut it in pieces, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it; I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it. 24 Then you call on the name of your god and I will call on the name of the Lord; the god who answers by fire is indeed God.” All the people answered, “Well spoken!” 25 Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are many; then call on the name of your god, but put no fire to it.” 26 So they took the bull that was given them, prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning until noon, crying, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice, and no answer. They limped about the altar that they had made. 27 At noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud! Surely he is a god; either he is meditating, or he has wandered away, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” 28 Then they cried aloud and, as was their custom, they cut themselves with swords and lances until the blood gushed out over them. 29 As midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice, no answer, and no response.

30 Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come closer to me”; and all the people came closer to him. First he repaired the altar of the Lord that had been thrown down; 31 Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord came, saying, “Israel shall be your name”; 32 with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord. Then he made a trench around the altar, large enough to contain two measures of seed. 33 Next he put the wood in order, cut the bull in pieces, and laid it on the wood. He said, “Fill four jars with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood.” 34 Then he said, “Do it a second time”; and they did it a second time. Again he said, “Do it a third time”; and they did it a third time, 35 so that the water ran all around the altar, and filled the trench also with water.

36 At the time of the offering of the oblation, the prophet Elijah came near and said, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your bidding. 37 Answer me, O Lord, answer me, so that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” 38 Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering, the wood, the stones, and the dust, and even licked up the water that was in the trench. 39 When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The Lord indeed is God; the Lord indeed is God.” 40 Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal; do not let one of them escape.” Then they seized them; and Elijah brought them down to the Wadi Kishon, and killed them there.


In I Kings 18:30, we learn of the destruction of an altar to Yahweh, built after the death of David, representing an invasion into Canaanite territory. Mount Carmel had been the domain of the worship of Baal. Note the great confidence Elijah has in his prophetic powers. An ancient law, reflected in Exodus 22:19-20, said that one could impose the death penalty on any form of apostasy from Yahweh, so the slaughter of the priests of Baal was not an act of vengeance or fanaticism. Deuteronomy 13:7-12 retains the provision, and 13:13ff extended it to include apostasy of a whole city, for which total destruction of the city was possible.

            The story of the appearance of Yahweh at Horeb in I Kings 19 also takes seriously the desperate plight of Yahweh. The divine intention shows itself in particular forms of divine activity. One recognizable shift in perspective occurs in the memorable story of Elijah and his encounter with God at Horeb. Yahweh is not in the storm, earthquake, or fire, as the people of the Tribal Federation came to know Yahweh, but rather in the soft, gentle breeze. It suggests the closest proximity of one whispering, as over against terrifying distance.


1 Kings 19:11-13 (NRSV)

11 He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. 13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”


The extermination of the pure worship of Yahweh is the real reason for his despair. Showing weakness at its weakest, the prophet contemplates suicide. The contrast between earthquake, storm, and fire on the one hand and the voice of a thin silence is strange and effective. The powers of nature lying in the foreground of the story should make us aware of another world lying behind them. The representation of the manifestation of Yahweh in air or breath, though still in the natural realm, represents the extreme limit of apprehension by the senses. The result increases the tension in Elijah. The text appears to point back to a tradition of Sinai. The journey taken by Elijah may have been a pilgrimage. In any case, his complaint is that the cause of Yahweh is lost. The answer he received is that Yahweh is not finished with Israel. Yahweh still has plans for Israel. It must suffer dreadful havoc at the hands of Hazael of Syria and Jehu, and Elijah is to appoint these two avengers to their task. The one is to punish the nation from the outside, and the other from the within. However, even this is not the end, for seven thousand persons have not worshipped Baal. Israel will survive and stand before Yahweh. After this revelation, Yahweh is done with Elijah, even though he knows that Yahweh will continue to bless Israel and that out of a remnant a new Israel will emerge. The concept of remnant arose out of civil life, and normally indicated the wretched and poor life of the remnant. J used the concept to show the paradoxical designs of Yahweh on history, as in Noah’s family as a remnant preserved after the flood, Lot had his family as a remnant escaped from Sodom, and even the story of Joseph celebrates the escape of a remnant. What is new here is that the remnant experiences preservation from calamities still to come and which Yahweh will cause.

            The picture of Elijah continues with the story of Naboth in I Kings 21.


1 Kings 21:1-21 (NRSV)

 Later the following events took place: Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard in Jezreel, beside the palace of King Ahab of Samaria. 2 And Ahab said to Naboth, “Give me your vineyard, so that I may have it for a vegetable garden, because it is near my house; I will give you a better vineyard for it; or, if it seems good to you, I will give you its value in money.” 3 But Naboth said to Ahab, “The Lord forbid that I should give you my ancestral inheritance.” 4 Ahab went home resentful and sullen because of what Naboth the Jezreelite had said to him; for he had said, “I will not give you my ancestral inheritance.” He lay down on his bed, turned away his face, and would not eat.

5 His wife Jezebel came to him and said, “Why are you so depressed that you will not eat?” 6 He said to her, “Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite and said to him, ‘Give me your vineyard for money; or else, if you prefer, I will give you another vineyard for it’; but he answered, ‘I will not give you my vineyard.’ ” 7 His wife Jezebel said to him, “Do you now govern Israel? Get up, eat some food, and be cheerful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.”

8 So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name and sealed them with his seal; she sent the letters to the elders and the nobles who lived with Naboth in his city. 9 She wrote in the letters, “Proclaim a fast, and seat Naboth at the head of the assembly; 10 seat two scoundrels opposite him, and have them bring a charge against him, saying, ‘You have cursed God and the king.’ Then take him out, and stone him to death.” 11 The men of his city, the elders and the nobles who lived in his city, did as Jezebel had sent word to them. Just as it was written in the letters that she had sent to them, 12 they proclaimed a fast and seated Naboth at the head of the assembly. 13 The two scoundrels came in and sat opposite him; and the scoundrels brought a charge against Naboth, in the presence of the people, saying, “Naboth cursed God and the king.” So they took him outside the city, and stoned him to death. 14 Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, “Naboth has been stoned; he is dead.”

15 As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned and was dead, Jezebel said to Ahab, “Go, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give you for money; for Naboth is not alive, but dead.” 16 As soon as Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, Ahab set out to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it.

17 Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying: 18 Go down to meet King Ahab of Israel, who rules in Samaria; he is now in the vineyard of Naboth, where he has gone to take possession. 19 You shall say to him, “Thus says the Lord: Have you killed, and also taken possession?” You shall say to him, “Thus says the Lord: In the place where dogs licked up the blood of Naboth, dogs will also lick up your blood.”

20 Ahab said to Elijah, “Have you found me, O my enemy?” He answered, “I have found you. Because you have sold yourself to do what is evil in the sight of the Lord, 21 I will bring disaster on you; I will consume you, and will cut off from Ahab every male, bond or free, in Israel;


The point is the unconditional validity of the law of God, before which all people are equal, to which even a king is subject. The arbitrary rights and privileges of a monarch was characteristic of the Canaanite city-states. This contrasts with the concept of king in Israel, which was more democratic and made demands of the king, in particular that without respect of person, rights, and property, were under divine protection.

            The picture continues with the account of the search of Ahaziah for a cure in II Kings 1. A conflict breaks out in the sphere of sacral medicine. He sought healing from Beelzebub of Ekron, known as the possessor of the power of miraculous healing. Elijah again displays intolerance by saying that healing belongs to Yahweh. The king had broken the first commandment.

            The stories regard Elijah as a part of a mighty event in the self-witness borne by Yahweh after a time of syncretism and apostasy. The subject of these stories is Yahweh. Yahweh brought everything to pass and gave answer to the question of who would be God in Israel. Elijah comes momentarily, only to vanish and then, mysteriously and for no apparent reason, reappear elsewhere. He lived alone, with no fixed home, roaming from place to place. The proposition that Israel belonged to Yahweh alone, a belief deriving from the earliest history of this people, no doubt found in Elijah a champion such as it had never had before. He also extended this conviction to the concept that Yahweh is resolved not to tolerate the apostasy of this people, and is about to rise up against them.

800’s BC continued

            In the Southern Kingdom, Jehoshphat ruled from 870-848 BC. Although he did not destroy the high places, he basically pleased the Lord.

            In the Northern Kingdom, Ahaziah, son of Ahab rules from 853-852.

            In the Northern Kingdom, Jehoram, son of Ahab, rules from 852-841. Even though he removed the altar that Ahab made, he still displeased the Lord. He united with the king of Judah in a military alliance against Moab. Alarmed by the willingness of the king of Moab to sacrifice his son to this god, the Israelites remove themselves from the attack. The king of Aram went against the Northern Kingdom, besieging Samaria, and bringing famine. They find the military camp of Aram abandoned, the siege ends, and the famine ceases, all as the prophet Elisha foretells.

            In the Southern Kingdom, Jehoram rules from 848 to 841. Edom and Libnah revolt from domination by Judah and succeed.

            In the Southern Kingdom, Ahaziah rules in 841. in his war against Aram, he was injured and died from that injury.

            In the Northern Kingdom, Jehu ruled from 841 to 814. Elisha anoints him as king. He plotted against Jehoram, at the time repelling an attack by Aram. Jehu assassinated Jehoram with an arrow between the shoulder blades. He also assassinated Jezebel. He massacred the royal family of Israel. He also massacred the brothers of Ahaziah, king of Judah, who were near Beth-Eked. An interesting encounter between Jehu and Johonadab occurs.


2 Kings 10:15-16 (NRSV)

15 When he left there, he met Jehonadab son of Rechab coming to meet him; he greeted him, and said to him, “Is your heart as true to mine as mine is to yours?” Jehonadab answered, “It is.” Jehu said,“If it is, give me your hand.” So he gave him his hand. Jehu took him up with him into the chariot. 16 He said, “Come with me, and see my zeal for the Lord.” So he had him ride in his chariot.


The two of them adopted the strategy of offering a sacrifice to Baal, and then killing the priests and destroying the temple area.

            In the Southern Kingdom, Athaliah, mother of Ahaziah, ruled from 841 to 835. She murdered the rest of the royal family when she learned of the death of her son. She was assassinated. The priest Jehoiada made a covenant that the king and people would remain faithful to Yahweh.

            In the Southern Kingdom, Jehoash ruled from 835-796 BC. He started his rule at seven years old. The priest Jehoiada essentially ruled for a period. He paid a substantial tribute to Aram to avoid war. Jozacar and Jehozabad assassinated him.

            In the Northern Kingdom, Jehoahaz, son of Jehu, ruled from 814 to 798 BC. During this time, the nation experienced oppression from Aram. However, after Hazael died, he recaptured some of his towns.


Elisha Cycle

            The stories surrounding Elisha begin with Elijah taken into heaven and the succession of Elisha as the leader of the prophets.


2 Kings 2:8-13 (NRSV)

8 Then Elijah took his mantle and rolled it up, and struck the water; the water was parted to the one side and to the other, until the two of them crossed on dry ground.

9 When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me what I may do for you, before I am taken from you.” Elisha said, “Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit.” 10 He responded, “You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it will be granted you; if not, it will not.” 11 As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven. 12 Elisha kept watching and crying out, “Father, father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” But when he could no longer see him, he grasped his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.

13 He picked up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan.


            Elisha is in the company of disciples of the prophets, a separate group within society. Elisha is their leader and teacher. They may cling to the patriarchal mode of life, in which they had a title to land, and had been unable to maintain themselves within the framework of the more feudal economy of the Canaanites. They represent the pure worship of Yahweh. Elisha was a worker of miracles. His possession of gifts gave him the power to perform miracle is the subject of these stories. He made bitter water drinkable, he had children who called him baldy killed by bears, a widow receives an endless supply of oil, the woman of Shunem receives a son and has him healed, he does not allow a poisoned pot of soup to hurt his prophetic community, and a small amount of bread is enough for the whole army.

            II Kings 5 gives the story of Naaman the Syrian. He is one of the chief officials of state and an upright man. Yahweh lent aid to him and the Syrians, demonstrating the Yahweh is always looking out for the righteous and blesses them. However, he is a leper. The story contrasts the hiddenness of the ways of God and the insignificance of the means that Yahweh employs. A slave girl from Israel makes the first move that leads to the healing of Naaman. The Syrian king makes the matter an affair of state and sends the king of Israel a diplomatic note requesting him to cure Naaman. They did not know that Yahweh grants gracious gifts without considering social status. The Israeli king does not know what to make of the request. Even after all of this clears away, the solution is not speedy. Naaman, accompanied y a large group of attendants, drives up to the door of Elisha. Another clash of opposite points of view takes place. Elisha sends a servant and avoids the competition of miracles by commanding Naaman to wash in the Jordan, a call for obedience. Naaman’s first unhappy clash with Elisha, and their friendly conversation following the healing, form the climax of the story. A touching point in the story is when Naaman requests dirt from Israel to take back with him, so that he might pray to Yahweh there. He wanted to continue to worship Yahweh on heathen soil. The point of sacramental contact was the dirt of the Promised Land. He also requests the right to bow down in the temple of Rimmon when his official position made this necessary. The response from Elisha, “Go in peace,” suggests that no he imposed no law upon Naaman. Elisha sent him back to his pagan environment, and put him and his faith under the guidance of Yahweh, in whose service he had pledged himself ot continue. Although the initial reception of Naaman was harsh, this final parting has the character of generosity. Naaman appears in the best of lights when compared with the greedy Gehazi.

            His real interest may have been politics. The story in II Kings 8:7-15 suggests he had influence as far away as Damascus. Prophets like Elijah and Elisha were servants of Israel, and that included its political life. Prophets gave both spiritual and worldly guidance and protection. Note the meeting of Elisha with Hazael in II Kings 8:7-15. The prophet meets the future usurper of the throne. High political tension and human woe concentrate in a sublime and moving scene. They speak together in words of restraint and delicacy.

            The story of the death of Elisha summarizes much of the influence this man had on his times.


2 Kings 13:14-21 (NRSV)

14 Now when Elisha had fallen sick with the illness of which he was to die, King Joash of Israel went down to him, and wept before him, crying, “My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” 15 Elisha said to him, “Take a bow and arrows”; so he took a bow and arrows. 16 Then he said to the king of Israel, “Draw the bow”; and he drew it. Elisha laid his hands on the king’s hands. 17 Then he said, “Open the window eastward”; and he opened it. Elisha said, “Shoot”; and he shot. Then he said, “The Lord’s arrow of victory, the arrow of victory over Aram! For you shall fight the Arameans in Aphek until you have made an end of them.” 18 He continued, “Take the arrows”; and he took them. He said to the king of Israel, “Strike the ground with them”; he struck three times, and stopped. 19 Then the man of God was angry with him, and said, “You should have struck five or six times; then you would have struck down Aram until you had made an end of it, but now you will strike down Aram only three times.”

20 So Elisha died, and they buried him. Now bands of Moabites used to invade the land in the spring of the year. 21 As a man was being buried, a marauding band was seen and the man was thrown into the grave of Elisha; as soon as the man touched the bones of Elisha, he came to life and stood on his feet.


700’s BC History

            Shalmaneser IV (c. 783–773) fought against Urartu, then at the height of its power under King Argishti (c. 780–755). He successfully defended eastern Mesopotamia against attacks from Armenia. On the other hand, he lost most of Syria after a campaign against Damascus in 773. The reign of Ashur-dan III (772–755) was shadowed by rebellions and by epidemics of plague. Of Ashur-nirari V (754–746) little is known.

            In Assyria the feudal structure of society remained largely unchanged. Many of the conquered lands were combined to form large provinces. The governors of these provinces sometimes acquired considerable independence, particularly under the weaker monarchs after Adad-nirari III. Some of them even composed their own inscriptions. The influx of displaced peoples into the cities of Assyria created large metropolitan centres. The spoils of war, together with an expanding trade, favoured the development of a well-to-do commercial class. The dense population of the cities gave rise to social tensions that only the strong kings were able to contain. A number of the former capitals of the conquered lands remained important as capitals of provinces. There was much new building. A standing occupational force was needed in the provinces, and these troops grew steadily in proportion to the total military forces. There are no records on the training of officers or on military logistics. The civil service also expanded, the largest administrative body being the royal court, with thousands of functionaries and craftsmen in the several residential cities.

            The cultural decline about the year 1000 was overcome during the reigns of Ashurnasirpal II and Shalmaneser III. The arts in particular experienced a tremendous resurgence. Literary works continued to be written in Assyrian and were seldom of great importance. The literature that had been taken over from Babylonia was further developed with new writings, although one can rarely distinguish between works written in Assyria and works written in Babylonia. In religion, the official cults of Ashur and Ninurta continued, while the religion of the common people went its separate way.

In Babylonia not much was left of the feudal structure; the large landed estates almost everywhere fell prey to the inroads of the Aramaeans, who were at first half nomadic. The leaders of their tribes and clans slowly replaced the former landlords. Agriculture on a large scale was no longer possible except on the outskirts of metropolitan areas. The predominance of the Babylonian schools for scribes may have prevented the emergence of an Aramaean literature. In any case, the Aramaeans seem to have been absorbed into the Babylonian culture. The religious cults in the cities remained essentially the same. The Babylonian empire was slowly reduced to poverty, except perhaps in some of the cities.

            In 764, after an epidemic, the Erra epic, the myth of Erra (the god of war and pestilence), was written by Kabti-ilani-Marduk. He invented an original plot, which diverged considerably from the old myths; long discourses of the gods involved in the action form the most important part of the epic. There is a passage in the epic claiming that the text was divinely revealed to the poet during a dream.

            For no other period of Assyrian history is there an abundance of sources comparable to those available for the interval from roughly 745 to 640. Aside from the large number of royal inscriptions, about 2,400 letters, most of them more or less fragmentary, have been published. Usually the senders and recipients of these letters are the king and high government officials. Among them are reports from royal agents about foreign affairs and letters about cultic matters. Treaties, oracles, queries to the sun god about political matters, and prayers of or for kings contain a great deal of additional information. Last but certainly not least are paintings and wall reliefs, which are often very informative.

            The decline of Assyrian power after 780 was notable; Syria and considerable lands in the north were lost. A military coup deposed King Ashur-nirari V and raised a general to the throne. Under the name of Tiglath-pileser III (745–727), he brought the empire to its greatest expanse. He reduced the size of the provinces in order to break the partial independence of the governors. He also invalidated the tax privileges of cities such as Ashur and Harran in order to distribute the tax load more evenly over the entire realm. Military equipment was improved substantially. In 746 he went to Babylonia to aid Nabu-nasir (747–734) in his fight against Aramaean tribes. Tiglath-pileser defeated the Aramaeans and then made visits to the large cities of Babylonia. There he tried to secure the support of the priesthood by patronizing their building projects. Babylonia retained its independence.

            His next undertaking was to check Urartu. His campaigns in Azerbaijan were designed to drive a wedge between Urartu and the Medes. In 743 he went to Syria, defeating there an army of Urartu. The Syrian city of Arpad, which had formed an alliance with Urartu, did not surrender so easily. It took Tiglath-pileser three years of siege to conquer Arpad, whereupon he massacred the inhabitants and destroyed the city. In 738 a new coalition formed against Assyria under the leadership of Sam'al (modern Zincirli) in northern Syria. It was defeated, and all the princes from Damascus to eastern Anatolia were forced to pay tribute. Another campaign in 735, this time directed against Urartu itself, was only partly successful. In 734 Tiglath-pileser invaded southern Syria and the Philistine territories in Palestine, going as far as the Egyptian border. Damascus and Israel tried to organize resistance against him, seeking to bring Judah into their alliance. Ahaz of Judah, however, asked Tiglath-pileser for help. In 733 Tiglath-pileser devastated Israel and forced it to surrender large territories. In 732 he advanced upon Damascus, first devastating the gardens outside the city and then conquering the capital and killing the king, whom he replaced with a governor. The queen of southern Arabia, Samsil, was now obliged to pay tribute, being permitted in return to use the harbour of the city of Gaza, which was in Assyrian hands.

            The death of King Nabonassar of Babylonia caused a chaotic situation to develop there, and the Aramaean Ukin-zer crowned himself king. In 731 Tiglath-pileser fought and beat him and his allies, but he did not capture Ukin-zer until 729. This time he did not appoint a new king for Babylonia but assumed the crown himself under the name Pulu (Pul in the Old Testament). In his old age he abstained from further campaigning, devoting himself to the improvement of his capital, Kalakh. He rebuilt the palace of Shalmaneser III, filled it with treasures from his wars, and decorated the walls with bas-reliefs. The latter were almost all of warlike character, as if designed to intimidate the onlooker with their presentation of gruesome executions. These pictorial narratives on slabs, sometimes painted, have also been found in Syria, at the sites of several provincial capitals of ancient Assyria.

            Tiglath-pileser was succeeded by his son Shalmaneser V (726–722), who continued the policy of his father. As king of Babylonia, he called himself Ululai. Almost nothing is known about his enterprises, since his successor destroyed all his inscriptions. The Old Testament relates that he marched against Hoshea of Israel in 724 after Hoshea had rebelled. He was probably assassinated during the long siege of Samaria. His successor maintained that the god Ashur had withdrawn his support of Shalmaneser V for acts of disrespect.

            It was probably a younger brother of Shalmaneser who ascended the throne of Assyria in 721. Assuming the old name of Sharru-kin (Sargon in the Bible), meaning “Legitimate King,” he assured himself of the support of the priesthood and the merchant class by restoring privileges they had lost, particularly the tax exemptions of the great temples. The change of sovereign in Assyria triggered another crisis in Babylonia. An Aramaean prince from the south, Marduk-apal-iddina II (the biblical Merodach-Baladan), seized power in Babylon in 721 and was able to retain it until 710 with the help of Humbanigash I of Elam. A first attempt by Sargon to recover Babylonia miscarried when Elam defeated him in 721. During the same year the protracted siege of Samaria was brought to a close. The Samarian upper class was deported, and Israel became an Assyrian province. Samaria was repopulated with Syrians and Babylonians. Judah remained independent by paying tribute. In 720 Sargon squelched a rebellion in Syria that had been supported by Egypt. Then he defeated both Hanunu of Gaza and an Egyptian army near the Egyptian border. In 717 and 716 he campaigned in northern Syria, making the hitherto independent state of Carchemish one of his provinces. He also went to Cilicia in an effort to prevent further encroachments of the Phrygians under King Midas (Assyrian: Mita).

            In order to protect his ally, the state of Mannai, in Azerbaijan, Sargon embarked on a campaign in Iran in 719 and incorporated parts of Media as provinces of his empire; however, in 716 another war became necessary. At the same time, he was busy preparing a major attack against Urartu. Under the leadership of the crown prince Sennacherib, armies of agents infiltrated Urartu, which was also threatened from the north by the Cimmerians. Many of their messages and reports have been preserved. The longest inscription ever composed by the Assyrians about a year's enterprise (430 very long lines) is dedicated to this Urartu campaign of 714. Phrased in the style of a first report to the god Ashur, it is interspersed with stirring descriptions of natural scenery. The strong points of Urartu must have been well fortified. Sargon tried to avoid them by going through the province of Mannai and attacking the Median principalities on the eastern side of Lake Urmia. In the meantime, hoping to surprise the Assyrian troops, Rusa of Urartu had closed the narrow pass lying between Lake Urmia and Sahand Mount. Sargon, anticipating this, led a small band of cavalry in a surprise charge that developed into a great victory for the Assyrians. Rusa fled and died. The Assyrians pushed forward, destroying all the cities, fortifications, and even irrigation works of Urartu. They did not conquer Tushpa (the capital) but took possession of the mountain city of Musasir. The spoils were immense. The following years saw only small campaigns in Media and eastern Anatolia and against Ashdod, in Palestine. King Midas of Phrygia and some cities on Cyprus were quite ready to pay tribute.

            Sargon was now free to settle accounts with Marduk-apal-iddina of Babylonia. Abandoned by his ally Shutruk-Nahhunte II of Elam, Marduk-apal-iddina found it best to flee, first to his native land on the Persian Gulf and later to Elam. Because the Aramaean prince had made himself very unpopular with his subjects, Sargon was hailed as the liberator of Babylonia. He complied with the wishes of the priesthood and at the same time put down the Aramaean nobility. He was satisfied with the modest title of governor of Babylonia.

            At first Sargon resided in Kalakh, but he then decided to found an entirely new capital north of Nineveh. He called the city Dur-Sharrukin—“Sargonsburg” (modern Khorsabad, Iraq). He erected his palace on a high terrace in the northeastern part of the city. The temples of the main gods, smaller in size, were built within the palatial rectangle, which was surrounded by a special wall. This arrangement enabled Sargon to supervise the priests better than had been possible in the old, large temple complexes. One consequence of this design was that the figure of the king pushed the gods somewhat into the background, thereby gaining in importance. Desiring that his palace match the vastness of his empire, Sargon planned it in monumental dimensions. Stone reliefs of two winged bulls with human heads flanked the entrance (see photograph); they were much larger than anything comparable built before. The walls were decorated with long rows of bas-reliefs showing scenes of war and festive processions. A comparison with a well-executed stela of the Babylonian king Marduk-apal-iddina shows that the fine arts of Assyria had far surpassed those of Babylonia. Sargon never completed his capital, though from 713 to 705 BC tens of thousands of labourers and hundreds of artisans worked on the great city. Yet, with the exception of some magnificent buildings for public officials, only a few durable edifices were completed in the residential section. In 705, in a campaign in northwestern Iran, Sargon was ambushed and killed. His corpse remained unburied, to be devoured by birds of prey. Sargon's son Sennacherib, who had quarreled with his father, was inclined to believe with the priests that his death was a punishment from the neglected gods of the ancient capitals.


700’s BC biblical material

            In the Northern Kingdom, Jehoash, son of Jehoahaz, ruled from 798 to 783 BC.

            In the Southern Kingdom, Amaziah, son of Jehoahaz, ruled from 796 to 781 BC. He killed those officers involved in the death of his fater. He slaughtered 10,000 Edomites. Jehoash attacked Israel, where the two kings had show of strength, with Jehoash winning. Amaziah discovered a plot against him, fled to Lachish, and the plotters killed him and brought his body back to Jerusalem.

            In the Northern Kingdom, Jeroboam II, son of Joash, ruled from 783 to 743 BC. He recovered some of the territory lost in previous administrations. Amaziah was priest at Bethel.

Amos 7:10-17 (NRSV)

10 Then Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, sent to King Jeroboam of Israel, saying, “Amos has conspired against you in the very center of the house of Israel; the land is not able to bear all his words. 11 For thus Amos has said,

‘Jeroboam shall die by the sword,

and Israel must go into exile

away from his land.’ ”

12 And Amaziah said to Amos, “O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah, earn your bread there, and prophesy there; 13 but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king’s sanctuary, and it is a temple of the kingdom.”

14 Then Amos answered Amaziah, “I am no prophet, nor a prophet’s son; but I ama herdsman, and a dresser of sycamore trees, 15 and the Lord took me from following the flock, and the Lord said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’

16 “Now therefore hear the word of the Lord.

You say, ‘Do not prophesy against Israel,

and do not preach against the house of Isaac.’

17 Therefore thus says the Lord:

‘Your wife shall become a prostitute in the city,

and your sons and your daughters shall fall by the sword,

and your land shall be parceled out by line;

you yourself shall die in an unclean land,

and Israel shall surely go into exile away from its land.’ ”


Hosea may also have referred to him.


Hosea 4:4-19 (NRSV)

4 Yet let no one contend,

and let none accuse,

for with you is my contention, O priest.

5 You shall stumble by day;

the prophet also shall stumble with you by night,

and I will destroy your mother.

6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge;

because you have rejected knowledge,

I reject you from being a priest to me.

And since you have forgotten the law of your God,

I also will forget your children.

7 The more they increased,

the more they sinned against me;

they changed their glory into shame.

8 They feed on the sin of my people;

they are greedy for their iniquity.

9 And it shall be like people, like priest;

I will punish them for their ways,

and repay them for their deeds.

10 They shall eat, but not be satisfied;

they shall play the whore, but not multiply;

because they have forsaken the Lord

to devote themselves to11 whoredom.

The Idolatry of Israel

Wine and new wine

take away the understanding.

12 My people consult a piece of wood,

and their divining rod gives them oracles.

For a spirit of whoredom has led them astray,

and they have played the whore, forsaking their God.

13 They sacrifice on the tops of the mountains,

and make offerings upon the hills,

under oak, poplar, and terebinth,

because their shade is good.

Therefore your daughters play the whore,

and your daughters-in-law commit adultery.

14 I will not punish your daughters when they play the whore,

nor your daughters-in-law when they commit adultery;

for the men themselves go aside with whores,

and sacrifice with temple prostitutes;

thus a people without understanding comes to ruin.

15 Though you play the whore, O Israel,

do not let Judah become guilty.

Do not enter into Gilgal,

or go up to Beth-aven,

and do not swear, “As the Lord lives.”

16 Like a stubborn heifer,

Israel is stubborn;

can the Lord now feed them

like a lamb in a broad pasture?

17 Ephraim is joined to idols—

let him alone.

18 When their drinking is ended, they indulge in sexual orgies;

they love lewdness more than their glory.

19 A wind has wrapped them in its wings,

and they shall be ashamed because of their altars.



            Amos preached at Bethel in 760 BC, a time when Jeroboam II was king. His home was Tekoa. He preached less than a year, and then went back to his occupation of shepherding.  His affirmation that he is no prophet is an attempt to explain the strange fact that he suddenly began to speak with inspiration, even though as a peasant he had no right to do so. The poetry shows Amos had some training.  The vision in ch 7 & 9 reveal an introspective side to his character. He refers to the lack of justice in the land of the Northern Kingdom.


Amos 2:6 (NRSV)

6 Thus says the Lord:

For three transgressions of Israel,

and for four, I will not revoke the punishment;

because they sell the righteous for silver,

and the needy for a pair of sandals—

Amos 4:1 (NRSV)

4 Hear this word, you cows of Bashan

who are on Mount Samaria,

who oppress the poor, who crush the needy,

who say to their husbands, “Bring something to drink!”

Amos 5:10 (NRSV)

10 They hate the one who reproves in the gate,

and they abhor the one who speaks the truth.

Amos 5:14-15 (NRSV)

14 Seek good and not evil,

that you may live;

and so the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you,

just as you have said.

15 Hate evil and love good,

and establish justice in the gate;

it may be that the Lord, the God of hosts,

will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.

Amos 6:12 (NRSV)

12 Do horses run on rocks?

Does one plow the sea with oxen?

But you have turned justice into poison

and the fruit of righteousness into wormwood—

Amos 8:4 (NRSV)

4 Hear this, you that trample on the needy,

and bring to ruin the poor of the land,


He speaks beautifully of the special relationship God has with the Northern Kingdom.


Amos 3:2 (NRSV)

2 You only have I known

of all the families of the earth;

therefore I will punish you

for all your iniquities.


He speaks of the opportunity that, if they seek the Lord, they will survive.


Amos 5:4-7 (NRSV)

4 For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel:

Seek me and live;

5      but do not seek Bethel,

and do not enter into Gilgal

or cross over to Beer-sheba;

for Gilgal shall surely go into exile,

and Bethel shall come to nothing.

6 Seek the Lord and live,

or he will break out against the house of Joseph like fire,

and it will devour Bethel, with no one to quench it.

7 Ah, you that turn justice to wormwood,

and bring righteousness to the ground!


He speaks powerfully of the Day of the Lord and against the formal character of a religion that has no justice with it.


Amos 5:18-24 (NRSV)

18 Alas for you who desire the day of the Lord!

Why do you want the day of the Lord?

It is darkness, not light;

19      as if someone fled from a lion,

and was met by a bear;

or went into the house and rested a hand against the wall,

and was bitten by a snake.

20 Is not the day of the Lord darkness, not light,

and gloom with no brightness in it?

21 I hate, I despise your festivals,

and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.

22 Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings,

I will not accept them;

and the offerings of well-being of your fatted animals

I will not look upon.

23 Take away from me the noise of your songs;

I will not listen to the melody of your harps.

24 But let justice roll down like waters,

and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.


He promises disaster upon the Northern Kingdom.


Amos 9:7-10 (NRSV)

7 Are you not like the Ethiopians to me,

O people of Israel? says the Lord.

Did I not bring Israel up from the land of Egypt,

and the Philistines from Caphtor and the Arameans from Kir?

8 The eyes of the Lord God are upon the sinful kingdom,

and I will destroy it from the face of the earth

—except that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob,

     says the Lord.

9 For lo, I will command,

and shake the house of Israel among all the nations

as one shakes with a sieve,

but no pebble shall fall to the ground.

10 All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword,

who say, “Evil shall not overtake or meet us.”


            The series of visions he relates have no parallels, for he has no older tradition on which he depends for the contents. He simply ponders the situation he saw in Israel. He had concern for the changes and tensions in the political world of Israel. Locusts, fire, God standing at a wall, and a sheaf of ripe grain are the content of the visions. A psychological turning point may appear between the second and third, in that the possibility of repentance no longer exists. He may have had a premonition of disaster at the beginning of his call, and later the present was interpreted in light of that.

            He preached that God alone is the God of Israel, as well as of the nations, Amos viewed breaches of the unwritten law of international relations seriously enough to bring the judgment of Yahweh upon the nations. Further, he accused the people of Israel, and its leaders, with flagrant breaches of the law. This was something new.

             He preached that Israel will be expelled from the land, that both Israel and the nations are equal as God brings judgment upon them, One could summarize his prophecy of the future with the simple statement that Israel is to suffer a calamitous military defeat and be sent into exile. Israel must deal directly with Yahweh, not of sanctuaries and pilgrimages, but the Yahweh who will perform new deeds upon Israel. Amaziah defends his faith and the faith of his people.  Amos had gone beyond any prophet before him in declaring that Israel will disappear from the land.  He was denying the very foundation of religion and state.  Yahweh would no longer forgive these people. His own prophecies were fulfilled 30-40 years later with the coming of Assyria, which defeated all the nations, including Samaria. 

            He preached that Israel has failed to defend the weak. This represents the social criticism of Amos. The guilt of the leaders of Israel is the reason for its downfall. Amos is enragedat the irresponsible and devastating spread of the sale of human beings. He pictures an exploitive ruling class. He lashes out at their revelry at banquets. The poor have lost their independent livelihood. The injustice which this group is subjected is the heart of Amos' social criticisms.  The Dallim were probably a class of peasant farmers.  Apparently small farmers were having to sell their farms to the rich, possibly eventually becoming slaves for debt.  Luxury as such is not condemned, but the way it was financed.  Amos may assume a constitutional ideal.  But it is also interesting that many of his social critiques end with reference to sanctuaries.  He may have a religious attitude toward the land.  The exploitation of the poor makes a sham of their religious quest.  The rapture of religious enthusiasms was not enough to do away with exploitation.  Instead, Israel is producing pesa, rebellion. The people believe they will find God and life at Bethel, etc., but they won't.  They go to worship, believing they will find God, but this will not happen.  Amos gives a picture of a thoughtless upper class complacent in its material prosperity.

            As a Judean, he took his stand on the election traditions of the south, and in particular those attaching to David and Zion. However, he holds out the possibility of God restoring the Davidic kingdom.


Hosea lived during the tumult of the eighth century B.C. He was a contemporary with Isaiah, which meant that he, too, endured the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah and Jeroboam II. Like Isaiah, Hosea watched uneasily as Assyria's star rose to a place of power among the nations of the ancient Near Eastern world. The disastrous alliance Israel jury-rigged with Assyria proved very well the worst of Hosea's fears and forecasts. As Hosea watched his beloved nation disintegrate before his very eyes -- politically, economically and most heart-wrenching of all, spiritually -- this prophet received a weird word from the Lord, a word that imbued his message with unique accessibility. 

The date of the writing would have to be before the captivity Samaria in 721. He is the only "writing prophet" of the Northern Kingdom.  He gives longer statements than his contemporaries, who often spoke in short oracles.  We have a narrative in chapters 1-3 and oracles in chapters 4-14.  Strong feelings and emotions, like love, anger, and disappointment govern his preaching.  His preaching occurs within a raving history rooted in the Exodus.  He aligned himself closely to the Levites, for the general movement toward becoming increasingly Canaanite necessarily pushed them aside. 

Hosea charges Jeroboam II with idolatry, apostasy, sexual promiscuity, and human sacrifice.  This is against II Kings, which views him as better than most and a recipient of divine grace.  He was aided by Jonah ben Amittai in 14:25, probably "The Prophet" Hosea mentions.  Also, "The Priest," in Ch 4 should be Amaziah of Bethel, mentioned in Amos.  The reference in Hosea 7:3-7 is of a plot is Zechariah.               

He is the first to describe Israel's religion as "harlotry" a breach of faith.  The basic failure is the responsibility of the priesthood.  The people still believed Yahweh was protecting them through the king and coronation in Samaria, but they are actually examples of Yahweh's judgment God had turned against them.  Judgment has come because of Israel's evil deeds.  He couples this with the promise of salvation.  The idea of training brings these two together by the idea of training.  Judgment is part of Yahweh's education of the people.  God will bring Israel back to the beginning, to the wilderness, when Israel would depend on nothing but Yahweh.

First, let us discuss his relationship to other 8th century prophets, such as Amos, Isaiah, and Micah. Hosea had no visions recorded. He does not record a personal call to prophetic ministry.  We must focus upon his relationship with Amos.  Their language is different, Amos being closer to that of the nabis.  Their view of God is different, Amos picturing a God logically planning Israel's downfall and Hose picturing a God who is compassionate and torn apart by the situation.  In terms of criticism of the present, Amos focuses on social injustice while Hosea focuses on the cult.  Nor do they seem to take any recognition of each other.  Hosea had the greater influence upon the future prophets, and in particular Jeremiah and Ezekiel.   

Second, let us discuss Hosea's marriage and family drama as a symbol.


Hosea 1:2-9 (NRSV)

2 When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, “Go, take for yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord.” 3 So he went and took Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.

4 And the Lord said to him, “Name him Jezreel; for in a little while I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. 5 On that day I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel.”

6 She conceived again and bore a daughter. Then the Lord said to him, “Name her Lo-ruhamah, for I will no longer have pity on the house of Israel or forgive them. 7 But I will have pity on the house of Judah, and I will save them by the Lord their God; I will not save them by bow, or by sword, or by war, or by horses, or by horsemen.”

8 When she had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she conceived and bore a son. 9 Then the Lord said, “Name him Lo-ammi, for you are not my people and I am not your God.” 


All that we know of his life is his unhappy experiences of love and marriage.  The surprising element is the section of life he chooses to be a prophetic symbol.  His own marriage becomes the towering symbol of his people's situation in the present and future.  He makes public the secrets of his bedroom.  For months and years, Hosea experienced his family misery as a symbolic action.  He did not permit himself to consider personal happiness.  As Yahweh's messenger, he no longer had a private life of his own.  He does not believe God originally commanded marriage to a harlot. The marriage of Hosea is probably to a woman who took part in Canaanite fertility rites.  Out of his personal and family life came his call, his message, and the symbolism of family. The narrative portion is symbolic prophetic action.  The important thing is the command to do a prophetic action, not the personal experience.  This act foreshadows his prophetic message. 

Third, let us discuss Yahweh's family drama as the content of the symbolism.  In terms of religion and monarchy, Yahweh is the husband of the Promised Land, acquired in the process of salvation history.  In Chapter 2, the sons represent Israelites; the land is the mother.  A fatal misunderstanding is that the fruit of the land is from Baal.  The first child, Jezreel, means, "El inseminates." The city is the winter residence of Israelite kings.  Hosea stresses the masculine role of God because of the erotic connotation, contrast it with another power conceived in feminine terms.  We see the nature of the religious rites in 4:11-14.  The common practices of local sanctuaries, consisting of an altar, a stone pillar is masseba and a wooden post is ashera.  The purpose was to have intercourse with young women of marriageable age, believing this would guarantee a productive year.  The name Jezreel reveals differences with earlier prophet, Elisha.  Note II Kings 9-10.  Now deeply loving, shamefully deceived husband and father, see 7:1, 6:4.  Marriage imagery controls his scheme of meta-history.  The desert wanderings were an ideal period.  As soon as they entered Palestine they began their sin and unfaithfulness. 

Fourth, let us discuss Divine marriage as common ground for prophet and apparent.  Hosea singly views the true relationship of Yahweh to Israel in terms of covenant: love, marriage, betrothal and having children.  So would his Baal opponents!  Some scholars assume that later editors added passages like 2:18, 6:7, 8:1, though this is a mistake.  These passages emphasize covenant in terms of marriage. 

Fifth, let us discuss Torah, knowledge of God, a correct view of nature and further salvation.  The torah will give knowledge of God, and this is the guide for conduct.  This knowledge is not abstract, but personal, calling forth emotion and action.  For Israel, any possibility of positive action seems to be dead.  A new beginning can happen only after the catastrophe.  Amos viewed repentance as a past event.  Hosea views it as a future event.  God will set up a new covenant, beyond anything that has existed so far. 

Note 2:18-25, the key to Hosea's thinking in general.  He takes an important step toward a transcendent God, above nature.


Hosea 2:18-25 (NRSV)

18 I will make for you a covenant on that day with the wild animals, the birds of the air, and the creeping things of the ground; and I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land; and I will make you lie down in safety. 19 And I will take you for my wife forever; I will take you for my wife in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love, and in mercy. 20 I will take you for my wife in faithfulness; and you shall know the Lord.

21 On that day I will answer, says the Lord,

I will answer the heavens

and they shall answer the earth;

22 and the earth shall answer the grain, the wine, and the oil,

and they shall answer Jezreel;

23      and I will sow him for myself in the land.

And I will have pity on Lo-ruhamah,

and I will say to Lo-ammi, “You are my people”;

and he shall say, “You are my God.”


He indicts the Northern Kingdom for the folly of the alliances formed in 733 BC.


Hosea 4:1-3 (NRSV)

 Hear the word of the Lord, O people of Israel;

for the Lord has an indictment against the inhabitants of the land.

There is no faithfulness or loyalty,

and no knowledge of God in the land.

2 Swearing, lying, and murder,

and stealing and adultery break out;

bloodshed follows bloodshed.

3 Therefore the land mourns,

and all who live in it languish;

together with the wild animals

and the birds of the air,

even the fish of the sea are perishing.

Hosea 5:15-6:6 (NRSV)

15 I will return again to my place

until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face.

In their distress they will beg my favor:

6 “Come, let us return to the Lord;

for it is he who has torn, and he will heal us;

he has struck down, and he will bind us up.

2 After two days he will revive us;

on the third day he will raise us up,

that we may live before him.

3 Let us know, let us press on to know the Lord;

his appearing is as sure as the dawn;

he will come to us like the showers,

like the spring rains that water the earth.”

4 What shall I do with you, O Ephraim?

What shall I do with you, O Judah?

Your love is like a morning cloud,

like the dew that goes away early.

5 Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets,

I have killed them by the words of my mouth,

and my judgment goes forth as the light.

6 For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice,

the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.


Chapter 11 portrays the conflict of the love the Lord has for the Northern Kingdom that creates a division in the mind of the Lord.


Hosea 11 (NRSV)

 When Israel was a child, I loved him,

and out of Egypt I called my son.

2 The more I called them,

the more they went from me;

they kept sacrificing to the Baals,

and offering incense to idols.

3 Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk,

I took them up in my arms;

but they did not know that I healed them.

4 I led them with cords of human kindness,

with bands of love.

I was to them like those

who lift infants to their cheeks.

I bent down to them and fed them.

5 They shall return to the land of Egypt,

and Assyria shall be their king,

because they have refused to return to me.

6 The sword rages in their cities,

it consumes their oracle-priests,

and devours because of their schemes.

7 My people are bent on turning away from me.

To the Most High they call,

but he does not raise them up at all.

8 How can I give you up, Ephraim?

How can I hand you over, O Israel?

How can I make you like Admah?

How can I treat you like Zeboiim?

My heart recoils within me;

my compassion grows warm and tender.

9 I will not execute my fierce anger;

I will not again destroy Ephraim;

for I am God and no mortal,

the Holy One in your midst,

and I will not come in wrath.

10 They shall go after the Lord,

who roars like a lion;

when he roars,

his children shall come trembling from the west.

11 They shall come trembling like birds from Egypt,

and like doves from the land of Assyria;

and I will return them to their homes, says the Lord.

12 Ephraim has surrounded me with lies,

and the house of Israel with deceit;

but Judah still walks with God,

and is faithful to the Holy One.


Chapter 12 presents an interpretation of the history of the Northern Kingdom.


Hosea 12 (NRSV)

 Ephraim herds the wind,

and pursues the east wind all day long;

they multiply falsehood and violence;

they make a treaty with Assyria,

and oil is carried to Egypt.

2 The Lord has an indictment against Judah,

and will punish Jacob according to his ways,

and repay him according to his deeds.

3 In the womb he tried to supplant his brother,

and in his manhood he strove with God.

4 He strove with the angel and prevailed,

he wept and sought his favor;

he met him at Bethel,

and there he spoke with him.

5 The Lord the God of hosts,

the Lord is his name!

6 But as for you, return to your God,

hold fast to love and justice,

and wait continually for your God.

7 A trader, in whose hands are false balances,

he loves to oppress.

8 Ephraim has said, “Ah, I am rich,

I have gained wealth for myself;

in all of my gain

no offense has been found in me

that would be sin.”

9 I am the Lord your God

from the land of Egypt;

I will make you live in tents again,

as in the days of the appointed festival.

10 I spoke to the prophets;

it was I who multiplied visions,

and through the prophets I will bring destruction.

11 In Gilead there is iniquity,

they shall surely come to nothing.

In Gilgal they sacrifice bulls,

so their altars shall be like stone heaps

on the furrows of the field.

12 Jacob fled to the land of Aram,

there Israel served for a wife,

and for a wife he guarded sheep.

13 By a prophet the Lord brought Israel up from Egypt,

and by a prophet he was guarded.

14 Ephraim has given bitter offense,

so his Lord will bring his crimes down on him

and pay him back for his insults.


After a description of the devastation soon to come to the Northern Kingdom, Hosea offers this promise.


Hosea 14:2-9 (NRSV)

2 Take words with you

and return to the Lord;

say to him,

“Take away all guilt;

accept that which is good,

and we will offer

the fruit of our lips.

3 Assyria shall not save us;

we will not ride upon horses;

we will say no more, ‘Our God,’

to the work of our hands.

In you the orphan finds mercy.”

4 I will heal their disloyalty;

I will love them freely,

for my anger has turned from them.

5 I will be like the dew to Israel;

he shall blossom like the lily,

he shall strike root like the forests of Lebanon.

6 His shoots shall spread out;

his beauty shall be like the olive tree,

and his fragrance like that of Lebanon.

7 They shall again live beneath my shadow,

they shall flourish as a garden;

they shall blossom like the vine,

their fragrance shall be like the wine of Lebanon.

8 O Ephraim, what have I to do with idols?

It is I who answer and look after you.

I am like an evergreen cypress;

your faithfulness comes from me.

9 Those who are wise understand these things;

those who are discerning know them.

For the ways of the Lord are right,

and the upright walk in them,

but transgressors stumble in them.



700’s BC continued

            In the Southern Kingdom, Uzziah, son of Amaziah, ruled from 781 to 740 BC. He developed a form of leprosy. He lived confined to his room. Jothan, the son of the king, governed the country.

            In the Northern Kingdom, Zechariah, son of Jeroboam II, ruled for six months of 743 BC.  We seem to have a reference to this in Hosea.


Hosea 6:7-7:7 (NRSV)

7 But at Adam they transgressed the covenant;

there they dealt faithlessly with me.

8 Gilead is a city of evildoers,

tracked with blood.

9 As robbers lie in wait for someone,

so the priests are banded together;

they murder on the road to Shechem,

they commit a monstrous crime.

10 In the house of Israel I have seen a horrible thing;

Ephraim’s whoredom is there, Israel is defiled.

11 For you also, O Judah, a harvest is appointed.

When I would restore the fortunes of my people,


     1 when I would heal Israel,

the corruption of Ephraim is revealed,

and the wicked deeds of Samaria;

for they deal falsely,

the thief breaks in,

and the bandits raid outside.

2 But they do not consider

that I remember all their wickedness.

Now their deeds surround them,

they are before my face.

3 By their wickedness they make the king glad,

and the officials by their treachery.

4 They are all adulterers;

they are like a heated oven,

whose baker does not need to stir the fire,

from the kneading of the dough until it is leavened.

5 On the day of our king the officials

became sick with the heat of wine;

he stretched out his hand with mockers.

6 For they are kindled like an oven, their heart burns within them;

all night their anger smolders;

in the morning it blazes like a flaming fire.

7 All of them are hot as an oven,

and they devour their rulers.

All their kings have fallen;

none of them calls upon me.


            In the Northern Kingdom, Shallum ruled for one month in 743 BC.Menahem murdered him and sacked the city of Tapuah, killing all who were in it.

            In the Northern Kingdom, Menahem ruled from 743 to 738 BC. He paid money to Assyria in order to have peace.

            In the Northern Kingdom, Pekahiah, son of Menahem, ruled from 738 to 737 BC. Pekah assassinated him in the place with the help of fifty Gileadites.

            In the Northern Kingdom, Pekah ruled from 737 to 732. Tiglath-Pileser, king of Assyria, captured several cities to the north and deported the population to Assyria. Hoshea assassinated him.

            In the Southern Kingdom, Jotham ruled from 740 to 736 BC. He mother was Jerusha, daughter of Zadok. He built the Upper Gate of the Temple. Razon, king of Aram and Pekah joined in alliance against Judah.

            In the Southern Kingdom, Ahaz, son of Jotham, ruled from 736-716. In 733 BC, Razon, king of Aram, and Pekah, king of Israel, united in their campaign against Jerusalem. They besieged Jerusalem, but could not defeat it. Ahaz gained an alliance with Tiglath-Pileser and paid tribute to him. Assyria defeated Aram in Damascus. He killed Razon and deported the population. He made a model of the altar that the Assyrians had, had the priest Uriah to reconstruct it in Jerusalem, and offered sacrifices on it.

            In the Northern Kingdom, Hoshea ruled from 732 to 724 BC. Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, forced Israel to pay tribute in order to have peace.

Micah before 721 BC

            One text may come from before the Fall of Jerusalem.


Micah 1:2-7 (NRSV)

2 Hear, you peoples, all of you;

listen, O earth, and all that is in it;

and let the Lord God be a witness against you,

the Lord from his holy temple.

3 For lo, the Lord is coming out of his place,

and will come down and tread upon the high places of the earth.

4 Then the mountains will melt under him

and the valleys will burst open,

like wax near the fire,

like waters poured down a steep place.

5 All this is for the transgression of Jacob

and for the sins of the house of Israel.

What is the transgression of Jacob?

Is it not Samaria

And what is the high place of Judah?

Is it not Jerusalem?

6 Therefore I will make Samaria a heap in the open country,

a place for planting vineyards.

I will pour down her stones into the valley,

and uncover her foundations.

7 All her images shall be beaten to pieces,

all her wages shall be burned with fire,

and all her idols I will lay waste;

for as the wages of a prostitute she gathered them,

and as the wages of a prostitute they shall again be used.



Isaiah before 721 BC

            Isaiah offers a lament for Jerusalem around 733 BC in 1:21-26. Another passage from this period is in 2:6-17, 3:1-4:1, where he describes the majesty of the Lord and the anarchy in Jerusalem. From the same period comes the song of the vineyard.


Isaiah 5:1-7 (NRSV)

 Let me sing for my beloved

my love-song concerning his vineyard:

My beloved had a vineyard

on a very fertile hill.

2 He dug it and cleared it of stones,

and planted it with choice vines;

he built a watchtower in the midst of it,

and hewed out a wine vat in it;

he expected it to yield grapes,

but it yielded wild grapes.

3 And now, inhabitants of Jerusalem

and people of Judah,

judge between me

and my vineyard.

4 What more was there to do for my vineyard

that I have not done in it?

When I expected it to yield grapes,

why did it yield wild grapes?

5 And now I will tell you

what I will do to my vineyard.

I will remove its hedge,

and it shall be devoured;

I will break down its wall,

and it shall be trampled down.

6 I will make it a waste;

it shall not be pruned or hoed,

and it shall be overgrown with briers and thorns;

I will also command the clouds

that they rain no rain upon it.

7 For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts

is the house of Israel,

and the people of Judah

are his pleasant planting;

he expected justice,

but saw bloodshed;


but heard a cry!


He pronounces a woe upon Judah in 5:8-13, 18-30. He incorporates a memoir for the Syro-Ephraimite war from this period in 6:1-8:18. The influential call of Isaiah is in this segment.


Isaiah 6:1-11 (NRSV)

 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. 2 Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. 3 And one called to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;

the whole earth is full of his glory.”

4 The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke. 5 And I said: “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”

6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. 7 The seraph touched my mouth with it and said: “Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.” 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!” 9 And he said, “Go and say to this people:

‘Keep listening, but do not comprehend;

keep looking, but do not understand.’

10 Make the mind of this people dull,

and stop their ears,

and shut their eyes,

so that they may not look with their eyes,

and listen with their ears,

and comprehend with their minds,

and turn and be healed.”

11 Then I said, “How long, O Lord?” And he said:

“Until cities lie waste

without inhabitant,

and houses without people,

and the land is utterly desolate;


Isaiah offers some hope to Ahaz.


Isaiah 7:10-17 (NRSV)

10 Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, saying, 11 Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven. 12 But Ahaz said, I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test. 13 Then Isaiah said: “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary mortals, that you weary my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel. 15 He shall eat curds and honey by the time he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. 16 For before the child knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land before whose two kings you are in dread will be deserted. 17 The Lord will bring on you and on your people and on your ancestral house such days as have not come since the day that Ephraim departed from Judah—the king of Assyria.”


He offers a pronouncement against Philistia in 14:29-32, and Moab in 15 and 16. He prophecies against Damascus in 17. He prophecies against Samaria in 28:1-4.

Fall of Samaria in 721 BC

            Hoshea sought an alliance with Egypt, but Assyria discovered this and imprisoned him. Shalmaneser then captured, the capitol city of Samaria, and deported them east of Mesopotamia. He deported people from Mesopotamia to the northern part of Israel. He sent back a priest of the Lord to assist them in their worship. The deportation caused wild beasts to make problems from the transported persons. Each nationality worshipped gods on the high places. Some of them offered child sacrifice. They added worship of Yahweh to the religious rites.

            Several Psalms may come from the northern kingdom before the fall of Samaria in 721 BC.


Psalm 44 (NRSV)

1 We have heard with our ears, O God,

our ancestors have told us,

what deeds you performed in their days,

in the days of old:

2 you with your own hand drove out the nations,

but them you planted;

you afflicted the peoples,

but them you set free;

3 for not by their own sword did they win the land,

nor did their own arm give them victory;

but your right hand, and your arm,

and the light of your countenance,

for you delighted in them.

4 You are my King and my God;

you command victories for Jacob.

5 Through you we push down our foes;

through your name we tread down our assailants.

6 For not in my bow do I trust,

nor can my sword save me.

7 But you have saved us from our foes,

and have put to confusion those who hate us.

8 In God we have boasted continually,

and we will give thanks to your name forever.      Selah

9 Yet you have rejected us and abased us,

and have not gone out with our armies.

10 You made us turn back from the foe,

and our enemies have gotten spoil.

11 You have made us like sheep for slaughter,

and have scattered us among the nations.

12 You have sold your people for a trifle,

demanding no high price for them.

13 You have made us the taunt of our neighbors,

the derision and scorn of those around us.

14 You have made us a byword among the nations,

a laughingstock among the peoples.

15 All day long my disgrace is before me,

and shame has covered my face

16 at the words of the taunters and revilers,

at the sight of the enemy and the avenger.

17 All this has come upon us,

yet we have not forgotten you,

or been false to your covenant.

18 Our heart has not turned back,

nor have our steps departed from your way,

19 yet you have broken us in the haunt of jackals,

and covered us with deep darkness.

20 If we had forgotten the name of our God,

or spread out our hands to a strange god,

21 would not God discover this?

For he knows the secrets of the heart.

22 Because of you we are being killed all day long,

and accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

23 Rouse yourself! Why do you sleep, O Lord?

Awake, do not cast us off forever!

24 Why do you hide your face?

Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?

25 For we sink down to the dust;

our bodies cling to the ground.

26 Rise up, come to our help.

Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love.


Psalm 80 (NRSV)

1 Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel,

you who lead Joseph like a flock!

You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth

2      before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh.

Stir up your might,

and come to save us!

3 Restore us, O God;

let your face shine, that we may be saved.

4 O Lord God of hosts,

how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers?

5 You have fed them with the bread of tears,

and given them tears to drink in full measure.

6 You make us the scorn of our neighbors;

our enemies laugh among themselves.

7 Restore us, O God of hosts;

let your face shine, that we may be saved.

8 You brought a vine out of Egypt;

you drove out the nations and planted it.

9 You cleared the ground for it;

it took deep root and filled the land.

10 The mountains were covered with its shade,

the mighty cedars with its branches;

11 it sent out its branches to the sea,

and its shoots to the River.

12 Why then have you broken down its walls,

so that all who pass along the way pluck its fruit?

13 The boar from the forest ravages it,

and all that move in the field feed on it.

14 Turn again, O God of hosts;

look down from heaven, and see;

have regard for this vine,

15      the stock that your right hand planted.

16 They have burned it with fire, they have cut it down;

may they perish at the rebuke of your countenance.

17 But let your hand be upon the one at your right hand,

the one whom you made strong for yourself.

18 Then we will never turn back from you;

give us life, and we will call on your name.

19 Restore us, O Lord God of hosts;

let your face shine, that we may be saved.


Psalm 83 (NRSV)

1 O God, do not keep silence;

do not hold your peace or be still, O God!

2 Even now your enemies are in tumult;

those who hate you have raised their heads.

3 They lay crafty plans against your people;

they consult together against those you protect.

4 They say, “Come, let us wipe them out as a nation;

let the name of Israel be remembered no more.”

5 They conspire with one accord;

against you they make a covenant—

6 the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites,

Moab and the Hagrites,

7 Gebal and Ammon and Amalek,

Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre;

8 Assyria also has joined them;

they are the strong arm of the children of Lot.      Selah

9 Do to them as you did to Midian,

as to Sisera and Jabin at the Wadi Kishon,

10 who were destroyed at En-dor,

who became dung for the ground.

11 Make their nobles like Oreb and Zeeb,

all their princes like Zebah and Zalmunna,

12 who said, “Let us take the pastures of God

for our own possession.”

13 O my God, make them like whirling dust,

like chaff before the wind.

14 As fire consumes the forest,

as the flame sets the mountains ablaze,

15 so pursue them with your tempest

and terrify them with your hurricane.

16 Fill their faces with shame,

so that they may seek your name, O Lord.

17 Let them be put to shame and dismayed forever;

let them perish in disgrace.

18 Let them know that you alone,

whose name is the Lord,

are the Most High over all the earth.



Psalm 53 (NRSV)

1 Fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.”

They are corrupt, they commit abominable acts;

there is no one who does good.

2 God looks down from heaven on humankind

to see if there are any who are wise,

who seek after God.

3 They have all fallen away, they are all alike perverse;

there is no one who does good,

no, not one.

4 Have they no knowledge, those evildoers,

who eat up my people as they eat bread,

and do not call upon God?

5 There they shall be in great terror,

in terror such as has not been.

For God will scatter the bones of the ungodly;

they will be put to shame, for God has rejected them.

6 O that deliverance for Israel would come from Zion!

When God restores the fortunes of his people,

            Jacob will rejoice; Israel will be glad.



Psalm 4 (NRSV)

1 Answer me when I call, O God of my right!

You gave me room when I was in distress.

Be gracious to me, and hear my prayer.

Psalm 6 (NRSV)

1 O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger,

or discipline me in your wrath.

Psalm 9 (NRSV)

1 I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart;

I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.

2 I will be glad and exult in you;

I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.

3 When my enemies turned back,

they stumbled and perished before you.

4 For you have maintained my just cause;

you have sat on the throne giving righteous judgment.

5 You have rebuked the nations, you have destroyed the wicked;

you have blotted out their name forever and ever.

6 The enemies have vanished in everlasting ruins;

their cities you have rooted out;

the very memory of them has perished.

7 But the Lord sits enthroned forever,

he has established his throne for judgment.

8 He judges the world with righteousness;

he judges the peoples with equity.

9 The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed,

a stronghold in times of trouble.

10 And those who know your name put their trust in you,

for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.

11 Sing praises to the Lord, who dwells in Zion.

Declare his deeds among the peoples.

12 For he who avenges blood is mindful of them;

he does not forget the cry of the afflicted.

13 Be gracious to me, O Lord.

See what I suffer from those who hate me;

you are the one who lifts me up from the gates of death,

14 so that I may recount all your praises,

and, in the gates of daughter Zion,

rejoice in your deliverance.

15 The nations have sunk in the pit that they made;

in the net that they hid has their own foot been caught.

16 The Lord has made himself known, he has executed judgment;

the wicked are snared in the work of their own hands.      Higgaion. Selah

17 The wicked shall depart to Sheol,

all the nations that forget God.

18 For the needy shall not always be forgotten,

nor the hope of the poor perish forever.

19 Rise up, O Lord! Do not let mortals prevail;

let the nations be judged before you.

20 Put them in fear, O Lord;

let the nations know that they are only human.      Selah

Psalm 10 (NRSV)

1 Why, O Lord, do you stand far off?

Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?

Psalm 11 (NRSV)

1 In the Lord I take refuge; how can you say to me,

“Flee like a bird to the mountains;

2 for look, the wicked bend the bow,

they have fitted their arrow to the string,

to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart.

3 If the foundations are destroyed,

what can the righteous do?”

Psalm 13 (NRSV)

1 How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?

How long will you hide your face from me?

2 How long must I bear pain in my soul,

and have sorrow in my heart all day long?

How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

3 Consider and answer me, O Lord my God!

Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,

4 and my enemy will say, “I have prevailed”;

my foes will rejoice because I am shaken.

5 But I trusted in your steadfast love;

my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.

6 I will sing to the Lord,

because he has dealt bountifully with me.

Psalm 14 (NRSV)

1 Fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.”

They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds;

there is no one who does good.

2 The Lord looks down from heaven on humankind

to see if there are any who are wise,

who seek after God.

3 They have all gone astray, they are all alike perverse;

there is no one who does good,

no, not one.

4 Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers

who eat up my people as they eat bread,

and do not call upon the Lord?

5 There they shall be in great terror,

for God is with the company of the righteous.

6 You would confound the plans of the poor,

but the Lord is their refuge.

7 O that deliverance for Israel would come from Zion!

When the Lord restores the fortunes of his people,

Jacob will rejoice; Israel will be glad.

Psalm 15 (NRSV)

Psalm 15

Who Shall Abide in God’s Sanctuary?

A Psalm of David.

1 O Lord, who may abide in your tent?

Who may dwell on your holy hill?

2 Those who walk blamelessly, and do what is right,

and speak the truth from their heart;

3 who do not slander with their tongue,

and do no evil to their friends,

nor take up a reproach against their neighbors;

4 in whose eyes the wicked are despised,

but who honor those who fear the Lord;

who stand by their oath even to their hurt;

5 who do not lend money at interest,

and do not take a bribe against the innocent.

Those who do these things shall never be moved.

Psalm 17 (NRSV)

Psalm 17

Prayer for Deliverance from Persecutors

A Prayer of David.

1 Hear a just cause, O Lord; attend to my cry;

give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit.

2 From you let my vindication come;

let your eyes see the right.

8 Guard me as the apple of the eye;

hide me in the shadow of your wings,

9 from the wicked who despoil me,

my deadly enemies who surround me.

10 They close their hearts to pity;

with their mouths they speak arrogantly.

11 They track me down; now they surround me;

they set their eyes to cast me to the ground.

12 They are like a lion eager to tear,

like a young lion lurking in ambush.

Psalm 19 (NRSV)

1 The heavens are telling the glory of God;

and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.

2 Day to day pours forth speech,

and night to night declares knowledge.

3 There is no speech, nor are there words;

their voice is not heard;

4 yet their voice goes out through all the earth,

and their words to the end of the world.

In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun,

5 which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy,

and like a strong man runs its course with joy.

6 Its rising is from the end of the heavens,

and its circuit to the end of them;

and nothing is hid from its heat.

7 The law of the Lord is perfect,

reviving the soul;

the decrees of the Lord are sure,

making wise the simple;

8 the precepts of the Lord are right,

rejoicing the heart;

the commandment of the Lord is clear,

enlightening the eyes;

9 the fear of the Lord is pure,

enduring forever;

the ordinances of the Lord are true

and righteous altogether.

10 More to be desired are they than gold,

even much fine gold;

sweeter also than honey,

and drippings of the honeycomb.

11 Moreover by them is your servant warned;

in keeping them there is great reward.

12 But who can detect their errors?

Clear me from hidden faults.

13 Keep back your servant also from the insolent;

do not let them have dominion over me.

Then I shall be blameless,

and innocent of great transgression.

14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart

be acceptable to you,

O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Psalm 22 (NRSV)

1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?

2 O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer;

and by night, but find no rest.

3 Yet you are holy,

enthroned on the praises of Israel.

4 In you our ancestors trusted;

they trusted, and you delivered them.

5 To you they cried, and were saved;

in you they trusted, and were not put to shame.

6 But I am a worm, and not human;

scorned by others, and despised by the people.

7 All who see me mock at me;

they make mouths at me, they shake their heads;

8 “Commit your cause to the Lord; let him deliver—

let him rescue the one in whom he delights!”

9 Yet it was you who took me from the womb;

you kept me safe on my mother’s breast.

10 On you I was cast from my birth,

and since my mother bore me you have been my God.

11 Do not be far from me,

for trouble is near

and there is no one to help.

12 Many bulls encircle me,

strong bulls of Bashan surround me;

13 they open wide their mouths at me,

like a ravening and roaring lion.

14 I am poured out like water,

and all my bones are out of joint;

my heart is like wax;

it is melted within my breast;

15 my mouth is dried up like a potsherd,

and my tongue sticks to my jaws;

you lay me in the dust of death.

16 For dogs are all around me;

a company of evildoers encircles me.

My hands and feet have shriveled;

17 I can count all my bones.

They stare and gloat over me;

18 they divide my clothes among themselves,

and for my clothing they cast lots.

19 But you, O Lord, do not be far away!

O my help, come quickly to my aid!

20 Deliver my soul from the sword,

my life from the power of the dog!

21      Save me from the mouth of the lion!

From the horns of the wild oxen you have rescued me.

22 I will tell of your name to my brothers and sisters;

in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:

23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!

All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him;

stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!

24 For he did not despise or abhor

the affliction of the afflicted;

he did not hide his face from me,

but heard when I cried to him.

25 From you comes my praise in the great congregation;

my vows I will pay before those who fear him.

26 The poor shall eat and be satisfied;

those who seek him shall praise the Lord.

May your hearts live forever!

27 All the ends of the earth shall remember

and turn to the Lord;

and all the families of the nations

shall worship before him.

28 For dominion belongs to the Lord,

and he rules over the nations.

29 To him, indeed, shall all who sleep inthe earth bow down;

before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,

and I shall live for him.

30 Posterity will serve him;

future generations will be told about the Lord,

31 and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn,

saying that he has done it.

Psalm 23 (NRSV)

1 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

2      He makes me lie down in green pastures;

he leads me beside still waters;

3      he restores my soul.

He leads me in right paths

for his name’s sake.

4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley,

I fear no evil;

for you are with me;

your rod and your staff—

they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me

in the presence of my enemies;

you anoint my head with oil;

my cup overflows.

6 Surely goodness and mercyshall follow me

all the days of my life,

and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord

my whole life long.

Psalm 24 (NRSV)

1 The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it,

the world, and those who live in it;

2 for he has founded it on the seas,

and established it on the rivers.

3 Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?

And who shall stand in his holy place?

4 Those who have clean hands and pure hearts,

who do not lift up their souls to what is false,

and do not swear deceitfully.

5 They will receive blessing from the Lord,

and vindication from the God of their salvation.

6 Such is the company of those who seek him,

who seek the face of the God of Jacob.       Selah

7 Lift up your heads, O gates!

and be lifted up, O ancient doors!

that the King of glory may come in.

8 Who is the King of glory?

The Lord, strong and mighty,

the Lord, mighty in battle.

9 Lift up your heads, O gates!

and be lifted up, O ancient doors!

that the King of glory may come in.

10 Who is this King of glory?

The Lord of hosts,

he is the King of glory.      Selah

Psalm 27 (NRSV)

1 The Lord is my light and my salvation;

whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the stronghold of my life;

of whom shall I be afraid?

2 When evildoers assail me

to devour my flesh—

my adversaries and foes—

they shall stumble and fall.

3 Though an army encamp against me,

my heart shall not fear;

though war rise up against me,

yet I will be confident.

4 One thing I asked of the Lord,

that will I seek after:

to live in the house of the Lord

all the days of my life,

to behold the beauty of the Lord,

and to inquire in his temple.

5 For he will hide me in his shelter

in the day of trouble;

he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;

he will set me high on a rock.

6 Now my head is lifted up

above my enemies all around me,

and I will offer in his tent

sacrifices with shouts of joy;

I will sing and make melody to the Lord.

7 Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud,

be gracious to me and answer me!

8 “Come,” my heart says, “seek his face!”

Your face, Lord, do I seek.

9      Do not hide your face from me.

Do not turn your servant away in anger,

you who have been my help.

Do not cast me off, do not forsake me,

O God of my salvation!

10 If my father and mother forsake me,

the Lord will take me up.

11 Teach me your way, O Lord,

and lead me on a level path

because of my enemies.

12 Do not give me up to the will of my adversaries,

for false witnesses have risen against me,

and they are breathing out violence.

13 I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord

in the land of the living.

14 Wait for the Lord;

be strong, and let your heart take courage;

wait for the Lord!

Psalm 33 (NRSV)

1 Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous.

Praise befits the upright.

2 Praise the Lord with the lyre;

make melody to him with the harp of ten strings.

3 Sing to him a new song;

play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.

4 For the word of the Lord is upright,

and all his work is done in faithfulness.

5 He loves righteousness and justice;

the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.

6 By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,

and all their host by the breath of his mouth.

7 He gathered the waters of the sea as in a bottle;

he put the deeps in storehouses.

8 Let all the earth fear the Lord;

let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.

9 For he spoke, and it came to be;

he commanded, and it stood firm.

10 The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;

he frustrates the plans of the peoples.

11 The counsel of the Lord stands forever,

the thoughts of his heart to all generations.

12 Happy is the nation whose God is the Lord,

the people whom he has chosen as his heritage.

13 The Lord looks down from heaven;

he sees all humankind.

14 From where he sits enthroned he watches

all the inhabitants of the earth—

15 he who fashions the hearts of them all,

and observes all their deeds.

16 A king is not saved by his great army;

a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.

17 The war horse is a vain hope for victory,

and by its great might it cannot save.

18 Truly the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him,

on those who hope in his steadfast love,