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bellion. The warriors dared not enter Mahanaim
as victors, but repaired homewards stealthily, as
though humiliated after a defeat. David would
see and speak to no one, but mourned continu-
ally for his son's loss. At length Joab took heart,
and reproached him in harsh terms for indulging in
continued mourning, and thereby manifesting ingrati-
tude towards his soldiers. In order to rouse the
king, Joab further threatened that if he did not im-
mediately show himself to his soldiers, and address
them kindly, his faithful followers would leave the
same night, and he would remain alone and helpless.
These sharp words of the rough but faithful Joab
induced David to rouse himself, and appear before
the people. The corpse of Absalom was thrown into
a cave, and covered with a heap of stones. He left
a beautiful daughter, but his three sons had been
snatched away by death before his revolt, as though
it were destined that no son of his should witness
the attempt against his father's life. During his
short reign at Jerusalem, he had erected a splendid
monument in the " King's Valley," to perpetuate
his own name. Intended for his glorification, it
became the commemoration of his disgrace. After


the close of the war, David contemplated returning
to Jerusalem. He did not wish, however, to force
the tribes into submission, he preferred to await their
repentant return to him, and the renewal of their
oaths of allegiance. It was a curious fact that the
tribes of the north were the first to take this course.
Ihe voice of the people appealed to the elders to
lead them back to their king. They cried, "The
king 1 who delivered us from our enemies, and freed
us from the yoke of the Philistines, was forced by
Absalom to flee from his own country. Absalom is
now dead. Why do you not hasten to bring back
our king? Come, let us lead him home." There-
upon the elders of the tribes invited David to re-
turn to his capital; and thus, a second time, they
acknowledged him as king. Contrary to all expec-
tation, the tribe of Judah, and naturally the tribe of
Benjamin were still holding back. They did not
move one step to welcome their king. Probably the
men of Judah felt bitterly ashamed of the revolt they
had started in Hebron, and did not venture to
entreat David's pardon. Perhaps, too, the discon-
tent which had incited them to forswear their alle-
giance was still at work amongst them. It seems
that Amasa, who had fled to Jerusalem after the
defeat in the forest of Gilead, still exercised great
influence over the men of Judah.

When David saw that the tribe of Judah was still
holding aloof from him, he commanded the two priests,
Zadok and Abiathar, who had remained in Jerusalem,
to admonish the elders of Judah to invite their king to
return. He told the priests to assure Amasa that
he would not only receive a free pardon, but even
retain his rank as general. With this prospect
before him, Amasa determined to accept David's
offers, and he persuaded the elders to accede to the
king's proposal. The men of Judah thereupon sent
an invitation to David, and an embassy went forth
to meet the king, and receive him at Gilgal. The

CH. vin. DAVID'S RETURN. 147

men 01' Benjamin were sorely puzzled by this conduct.
What were they to do? The Benjamites had publicly
shown themselves inimical to David when he had
fled from Jerusalem through their territory; they
had not thought it possible that he would ever
return, and reclaim his throne. Now affairs had
changed, and not only the northern tribes, but even
Judah was preparing to do him homage. The
Benjamites felt no attachment to David, but they
could not isolate themselves, for then the king's
wrath would fall heavily on them. Shimei, whose
insults had caused David such bitter pain during his
flight, and who, in consequence, had most cause to
fear the king's anger, advised that they should dis-
play intense enthusiasm for David's cause, exceeding
that of the other tribes, since, by appealing to his
generosity, they might incline him favourably to-
wards them. In obedience to this advice, one thou-
sand Benjamites went forward to meet David, joined
the Judaean embassy, and, on arriving at the bank of
the Jordan, threw a bridge across the river in order
to facilitate the king's transit. Meanwhile the king
had left Mahanaim, and was approaching the Jordan,
attended by his court, his servants, and the faithful
followers who had joined him on the opposite shore.
Shimei advanced before all the others, threw himself
at the king's feet as he was about to cross the river,
acknowledged his fault, and entreated David's for-
giveness. David now returned with a larger con-
course of followers than had accompanied him on his
flight across the Jordan: he was attended by the
Judaean embassy, by a thousand Benjamites, and by
the faithful friends who formed his guard of honour.
The first town reached after crossing the Jordan
was Gilgal. Here the ambassadors of the different
tribes on this side of the river were assembled to
renew their homage ; they felt surprised and an-
noyed that the Judaeans had stolen a march on them
by meeting the king at the very shore of the Jordan.


They saw in this eager display of loyalty, which they
could not consider sincere, an effort on the part of
the house of Judah to regain the king's favour, to the
detriment of the house of Israel.

The elders of Israel made no secret of their dis-
pleasure, and gave vent to it in David's presence ;
the Judaeans, however, retaliated on them. The ques-
tion of precedency degenerated into a violent quar-
rel, the Judseans making angry retorts, thus offend-
ing the northern tribes still more. Bitter animosity
arose between the contending parties; David ap-
pears to have inclined to the side of the Judseans.
Sheba, a Benjamite of the family of Bichri, taking
advantage of the general confusion, sounded the
trumpet and cried, " We have no portion in David,
and no share in the son of Jesse ; let every Israelite
return to his tent." Heeding this cry, the elders of
the northern tribes withdrew, and followed Sheba the
Bichrite. The men of Judah alone remained faithful
to David, and accompanied him to Jerusalem. The
joy of their return was mingled with annoyance: a
fresh breach had arisen, a civil war was imminent.
At this sad juncture David had recourse to a step
which may be considered either very wise or very
foolish. Joab had become obnoxious to him since
the king had leasned that he had killed Absalom, and
David did not wish him to fill the office of general
any longer. Besides this, he desired to keep his
word with Amasa, and to appoint him to the cffice of
commander-in-chief. David, being now dependent
on the tribe of Judah, felt the necessity of retaining
Amasa's good-will, as the latter's influence had im-
mense weight with the Judseans. Without consulting
Joab, he commanded Amasa to summon the forces
of the tribe of Judah within three days, in order to
proceed against the rebels. The time expired, and
Amasa did not return. David became uneasy; he
thought Amasa might have deceived him, and made
common cause with the insurgents. It was neces-


sary to be expeditious, lest Sheba's followers increase
in numbers, and also gain time to occupy fortified
cities. David had no choice but to turn to the sons
of Zeruiah, who, in their unswerving fidelity, had
remained true to him in spite of frequent slights, and
whose skill in matters of war he had amply tested.
David would not, however, give the supreme com-
mand to Joab, but entrusted it to his brother Abishai.
He set out with the Cherethites and Pelethites, who
were to form the nucleus of the army which he
hoped to collect on the way. Joab overlooked the
insult which had been offered him, and joined the
troops, or rather became their leader. He appears
to have issued an appeal to the people to gather
around him. When Amasa joined them in Gibeon,
Joab killed him with one stroke of his sword, and
the Judaeans, whom Amasa had collected, followed
the sons of Zeruiah. In all the towns, fresh par-
tisans and followers attached themselves to David's
cause. Sheba found but few adherents, the northern
tribes being unwilling to begin a civil war for the
sake of a man who was but little known, and who
was followed only by a small band of soldiers.
He had thrown himself into the fortified town of
Abel, and a part of his followers occupied the town
of Dan, which lay at an hour's distance from the
base of Mount Hermon, not far from the source
of the Jordan. Joab quickly ordered a trench to be
dug round the town of Abel, and without calling
on the inhabitants to surrender, he began to under-
mine the walls. The inhabitants became greatly
alarmed. Then a wise woman called from the wall
to the sappers below to summon Joab. When he
approached, she addressed him reproachfully, " Thou
shouldst have asked first in Abel and Dan that
thou mightest have heard, whether all those who are
faithful and peace-loving have departed from Israel.
Why wilt thou slaughter the mothers and the chil-
dren of Israel ? Why wilt thou destroy the inherit-


ance of Jacob?" Joab replied that he did not wish
to do this, that he merely desired to capture the man
who had lifted his hand against the king. On this
the woman promised that the head of the rebel should
soon be thrown over the wall. She kept her word,
for she secretly persuaded her fellow-citizens to sep-
arate Sheba from his few followers, and to kill him.
His gory head was cast over the wall, and Joab
raised the siege, dismissed his soldiers, and returned
to Jerusalem with the news of his victory. The king
was obliged, against his will, to leave him in command
of the army.

David returned to his capital with a purged soul.
He had suffered and atoned heavily for his sins.
He had taken away the wife of his faithful servant,
and his son had taken away his wives. He had spilt
Uriah's blood, and the streams of blood shed in his
own house had almost overwhelmed him. He had
found by bitter experience that even the best king
cannot build on his people's love. His plan of
undertaking a great war against his heathen foes
was shattered. He, therefore, in his old age, during
the last years of his reign, confined his attention to the
internal affairs of his kingdom. He wished to carry
out, before death overtook him, an idea he had long
cherished. He wished to build a magnificent temple
to the God of Israel, xvho had rescued him in his many
troubles. Before commencing, David consulted
Nathan, the prophet; for in those days the prophet
ranked higher than the priest. He said, " I live in a
palace of cedar wood, whilst the Ark of God is
only in a temporary tent. I will build a temple of
cedar for it ! " Nathan approved the plan and said,
" Carry out all that is in thy heart, for God is with
thee!" The next day, however, the prophet came
to him, and revealed to David that he was not des-
tined to build a temple, because he had shed blood,
but that this task would be reserved for his son. At
the same time David was informed that his throne


was established for many years to come, that a
long succession of kings would descend from him,
and occupy his throne, provided that they walked
in the ways of God. Much as David had wished
to build a stately temple in Jerusalem, he bowed
humbly to the divine decree revealed to him by
Nathan, and gave up his project. Before the ark of
the covenant, he thanked God in a heartfelt prayer
for the mercies bestowed on him, who had been
raised up from the dust. His heart was filled with
gratitude that his royal house and his throne were to
be established for many years to come. David gave
expression to this feeling in a psalm, which, however,
has not the same verve as his former songs ; it was,
perhaps, his last poetic prayer.

Although David did not commence the erection
of the temple himself, he began to make the neces-
sary preparations. He devoted to the sanctuary a
part of the booty which he had acquired from the
conquered nations. He also regulated the order in
which divine services were to be conducted, by having,
according to Samuel's method, choirs of Levites to
play on the harp and sing psalms, in addition to the
ordinary sacrificial rites. He is also considered the
inventor of the various musical instruments which
were later on introduced into the service.

David's vital energy began to decrease before he
had attained his seventy-first year. The anxieties of
his youth, the constant warfare, the exciting events
in his own family, Amnon's sinfulness and Absalom's
revolt caused him to grow old at a comparatively
early age. He felt no warmth in his body; he felt
cold despite the torrid heat of Jerusalem, and all the
clothes which he could procure did not seem to
supply him with the necessary vital heat.

Adonijah, the king's fourth son, endeavoured,
by taking advantage of David's failing powers, to
secure the succession. He was the next heir after
Amnon and Absalom, but he feared that he might


be passed over if he awaited the death of his father,
and he had probably heard of the secret under-
standing, according to which the son of Bathsheba,
his youngest brother, \vas to succeed to the throne.
Adonijah had no desire to rebel against his lather
as Absalom had done, he merely wished to have
his right to the succession recognised by the chief
dignitaries of the kingdom. He therefore took
counsel with those of David's court who were opposed
to Solomon's succession. Foremost amongst these
was Joab, who supported him as he had formerly
supported Absalom. Adonijah's other confidant was
Abiathar, the second of the high priests, who seems
to have been placed in an inferior position by David.
Zadok, whose family had been appointed hereditary-
high priests by Saul at Gibeon, had been retained in
that position by David, who wished to secure his
support, and therefore bestowed upon him the
highest rank in the sanctuary. Abiathar may have
felt hurt by this neglect, and perhaps took the part
of Adonijah in order to secure the position he
could not hope to obtain under Solomon. The
other sons of the king also wished to see the throne
assured to Adonijah, and thus intrigues at the
court commenced afresh. Adonijah was as hand-
some and as popular as Absalom had been, and also,
it appears, as thoughtless and as unfit for governing.
Like Absalom, he began to draw the eyes of the
people upon himself by a truly royal display; he
procured chariots and attendants on horseback, and
kept a guard of fifty runners, who preceded him
wherever he went. David was weak in his behaviour
to him, as he had been to Absalom permitted him
to have his own way, and thus tacitly acknowledged
him as his successor. One day Adonijah invited his
confidants, Joab, Abiathar, and all the king's sons
excepting Solomon, to a meeting. They offered up
sacrifices near a well, and during the feast his fol-
lowers cried, "Long live King Adonijah ! '


The first to take exception to Adonijah's proceed-
ings was Nathan the prophet. He knew of the
secret promise, given by David to his wife Bathsheba,
that Solomon should inherit the crown. He had
also revealed to David that Solomon was appointed
by God to be his successor. He seems to have had
confidence in Solomon's character, and to have
expected better things from him than from Adonijah.
Nathan, therefore, went to Bathsheba, and they
devised a plan by which Adonijah's scheme might be
overthrown. Bathsheba then repaired to the king,
reminded him of his oath, and directed his atten-
tion to the fact that, in the event of Adonijah's suc-
cession, she and her son both would be lost, and
her marriage would be branded with ignominy.

Hardly had she ended the description of the sad
fate which awaited her if Solomon's claims were set
aside, when the prophet Nathan was announced,
and confirmed her assertions. David's resolve was
quickly taken, and carried into effect on the same
day, for he was most anxious to keep his oath to
leave the sceptre to Solomon. He called upon the
dignitaries who had not conspired with Adonijah, on
Zadok, Benaiah and the warriors, and announced to
them his resolve that Solomon should be anointed
king during his own lifetime, and they all solemnly
promised to acknowledge Solomon. Thereupon,
David summoned the Cherethites and Pelethites to
attend his son. Solomon then mounted one of the
royal mules, and proceeded to the valley of Gihon, to
the west of the town. A crowd of people joined the
procession, and when the high-priest Zadok and the
prophet Nathan had anointed him with oil from the
tent of the sanctuary, the soldiers blew their trum-
pets, and all the people cried, " Long live King
Solomon ! "

Great excitement now prevailed in Jerusalem.
While the eastern mountains echoed with the cry
of " Long live King Adonijah !" the western chain


was resounding with shouts of " Long live King
Solomon!" Had both the king's sons and their
adherents remained obstinate, a civil war must have
ensued. But Adonijah was not like Absalom he
did not wish to excite a rebellion. Nor would his
chief supporters, Joab and Abiathar, have assisted
him in such an attempt. No sooner did Adonijah
hear that Solomon had been anointed king by his
father's command than his courage failed him. He
hastened to the sanctuary at Zion in order to seek
refuge in the holy of holies. Solomon, however,
who had immediately taken the reins of government,
sent to inform him that he might leave the sanctu-
ary, that not a hair of his head should be touched so
long as he did not attempt any fresh revolt. Ado-
nijah then repaired to the young king, paid him due
homage, and was dismissed with presents. Thus
the contest for the succession ended.

David's weakness gradually increased, until after
a stormy reign of forty years and six months (1015),
he expired peacefully. He was the first to occupy a
place in the royal mausoleum which he had built in
a rocky cave on the southern slope of Mount Zion.

David's death was deeply mourned. He had
made the nation great, independent and happy, and
death transfigured him. When he had passed away,
the nation began to realise the true value of his
work, and what he had been to them. He had
reunited the various tribes, each of which had before
followed its own special interests, and he formed them
into one nation. The revolts of Absalom and Sheba
proved sufficiently how strong the feeling had be-
come which bound the tribes together. The house
of Israel did not seize the opportunity offered by his
death of severing itself from the house of Judah,
and great as was their jealousy of each other, they
held together. David had removed every induce-
ment for party divisions, and had knit them together
with a kind but firm hand. During his reign the

CH. viii. DAVID'S DEATH. 155

priesthood and the prophets worked amicably to-
gether. Thus Solomon was anointed by the high
priest Zadok in conjunction with the prophet Nathan.
David maintained friendly relations between the
priestly houses of Eleazar and Ithamar, represented
by Zadok and Abiathar respectively. The nation
had no reason to complain of oppression, for he
dealt justly to the extent of his ability. By de-
stroying the power of the Philistines, who had so
long held the neighbouring tribes in subjection,
and by conquering the nations inhabiting the banks
of the Euphrates, he had not only established internal
prosperity, but had also founded a great empire
which could vie in power with Egypt, and had
cast into the shade the Chaldaean and Assyrian
kingdoms on the Euphrates and the Tigris. By this
means he had roused the people to the proud con-
sciousness that it constituted a mighty nation of the
Lord, the possessor of the law of God, the superior
of the neighbouring nations. David's sins were
gradually forgotten, for his atonement had been both
grievous and manifold. Posterity pronounced a
milder judgment on him than did his contempo-
raries. The remembrance of his great deeds, his
kindness, his obedience to God, caused him to ap-
pear invested with the traits of an ideal king, who
served as a pattern to all later rulers, one who had
always walked in the ways of God, and never de-
parted therefrom. The kings of his house who suc-
ceeded him were measured by his standard, and
were judged by the extent of their resemblance to

David's reign shone through the ages as perfect,
as one in which power and humility, fear of God
and peace were united. Every succeeding century
added its tribute to David's character, until he became
the ideal of a virtuous king and sacred poet.



The new King's Rule Solomon's Choice Poetic Allegory Murder
of Adonijah and Joab The Court Alliance with Egypt
Tyre Solomon's Buildings The Plan of the Temple The
Workmen The Materials Description of the Temple The
Ceremony of Consecration Reorganisation of the Priesthood
The King's Palace The Throne Increase of National Wealth
The Fleet The Seeds of Disunion Jeroboam Idolatry per-
mitted Estrangement from Egypt Growth of surrounding
Kingdoms Solomon's Fame His Death.

1015 977 B. C. E.

DAVID had left affairs in Israel in such perfect order
that his successor, unless he were a fool or a knave,
or the victim of evil advice, would have but little
trouble in governing. Solomon, however, carried
David's work still further. He shed such lustre
upon Israel that even the most distant gener-
ations basked in the light that emanated from
his wise rule. Indeed, a king who solidifies and
increases, if he does not actually found, the great-
ness of the State ; who permits his people the enjoy-
ment of peace; who sheds the bounties of plenty
over his land, driving poverty away from the mean-
est hovel ; who opens up new channels for the
development of his people's powers, and who thus
increases and strengthens them ; a king who has
the intelligence to arouse his subjects to exercise
their mental gifts, and cultivate their love of the
beautiful; who, by his material and spiritual creations,
elevates his country to the dignity of a model State,
such as had never been before him and scarcely
ever after him ; such a monarch assuredly deserves
the high praise which posterity has accorded to him.


Carried away by the greatness of his deeds for all
these grand characteristics were strikingly prominent
in Solomon men shut their eyes to his weaknesses,
and considered them the inevitable result of human
imperfection. In the first place he strove to preserve
peace for his country, though his father had left him
ample means for making fresh conquests. He was
called the king of peace " Shelomo." By giving to
his people the comforts of prosperity, he widened its
horizon, and raised its self-respect. He ruled it with
wisdom and justice, and decided with strict impar-
tiality all contests between individuals as well as tribes.
He increased the number of towns, and secured the
safety of the roads and of the caravans. He filled
the city of Jerusalem with splendour, and built
therein a magnificent temple in honour of God. He
himself cultivated the fine arts and poetry, and thereby
endowed them with fresh attractions in the eyes of
the people. Lastly, he set great aims before the
nation, and was rightly called the wise king.

History, the impartial arbitress, cannot, however,
be blinded by his dazzling virtues to the blemishes
which attach to his government, and which must be
accounted the cause of the unfortunate breach which
commenced when his grave was scarcely closed.
The beginning of Solomon's rule was not free from
stains of blood, and its end was clouded with mists,
which dimmed its brightness ; his love of splendour
became injurious to morality ; it made him despotic,
and imposed a burden on the people, which it bore
for a considerable time, but shook off at the first
favourable opportunity. Solomon converted the
kingly power into an autocracy, under which every
will had to be subservient to his. But these blem-
ishes were entirely hidden by the greatness of the
achievements under his rule. It is impossible now
to decide how far the responsibility of Solomon for
these evils goes, how much of the blame rests with
his too officious servants, and to what extent their

Online LibraryHeinrich GraetzHistory of the Jews (Volume 1) → online text (page 13 of 46)