Lectionary Year B
July 6, 2003
2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10

Step III: Composition

A. Immediate Context

(JFC) Pre - II Samuel 4 tells of Saul's offspring and other loyalists' trying to beat David to (and, out of?) the throne. Their tactics failed, assuring David's acceding to rule. David was displeased at their wickedness, so punished them by having them killed.
Interlude - II Samuel 5:6-8 tell of David's taking possession of Jerusalem from the Jebusites who had said even their blind and lame, whom it is said "David hated", could hold off David's army, which they could not do. Thereupon, it became an idiom that, "The blind and lame shall not come into this house."
Post - II Samuel 5:11-25 find David being convinced God has called him to rule Israel since Hiram, King of Tyre, sent him gifts of cedar trees, carpenters and masons expressly "to build David a house". Then David moves from Hebron to Jerusalem and takes more concubines and wives and sires more children. Some of their names are listed. Then the Philistines hear of David's coronation and come to dethrone him, upon the hearing of which David protects himself and asks God whether to fight and will God protect him from the raiders. God gives him the go-ahead and promises to preserve him. David's troops prevailed, the Philistines left and abandoned their idols and David's men collected them for their own. Next, the Philistines return and God gives David some fool-proof logistics to defeat them again which he readily does.

B. Organization of Compositional Whole

(JFC) II Samuel continues the chronicles of I Samuel, which are about Samuel's and Saul's lives and services as Israel's first Kings and David's rise to prominence. II Samuel begins accounts of Israel's major/radical transition, definitely under God's guidance, from tribalism to a monarchy. It starts by reporting how Saul's offspring and other followers fell off the charts of leading Israel (chs. 1-4). It proceeds into David's rise to King over Judah and Israel (chs. 5-24) and David's domestic and political challenges and Solomon's assuming the throne (chs. 9-20) and a famine, the execution of Saul's descendants, more war with the Philistines, a poetic song praising God and an altar where David offers sacrifices to God to conclude the Book (chs. 21-24). Walter Brueggemann, in his Interpretation commentary, calls repeated attention to the political- technological-economic-social factors as this work's secondary aims, secondary to Yahweh's governance in the whole process of Israel's changing from "an amorphous, unstable tribal mode of life, easily open to religious idolatry, syncretism and political and military barbarism". Following the Samuel Books, Israel was a centralized monarchy and ordered under God's directives through divinely chosen Kings.

C. Issues of Authorship

(JFC) The Books of Samuel seem to come in real time to us as if they were written almost simultaneously with the actions, around about 1000-960 BCE, they report. Yet, literarily, it seems that different parts come from "varied origin and have only later been arranged in accordance with certain definite points of view", according to H. W. Hertzberg's OTL commentary. So, perhaps final composition occurred by 900 BCE.

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