2 Samuel 19-21
We finally hear someone who makes sense. Joab loses patience with David and tells him to quit his whining and smarten up (v 5-8). So David returns to Jerusalem and plays the smarmy politician again. He straightens out his affairs, forgives the guy who mocked him, makes peace with Jonathan’s son who betrayed him, and generally sucks up to everyone. Probably even kissed a few babies. But what did this whole mess accomplish, except to knock off a few thousand soldiers whose lives don’t matter? And how long will this peace last? There’s already a hint of the next discord at the end of the chapter…..
Back in his palace, David has to deal with the concubines that Absalom slept with. They’re tainted now. I suppose I should be thankful he doesn’t have them executed, but instead he just keeps them in locked confinement for the rest of their lives; arguably not a better option. Meanwhile, trouble is brewing between Judah and the other tribes over David playing favorites. (This constant in-fighting seems to be doing more damage to the Israelite nation than their enemies.) David chooses a different general to lead the battle against the insurrection, so Joab, in a fit of jealousy, assassinates him….. by stabbing him under the fifth rib (you guessed it). When the army corners the instigator in a small town, a wise woman saves everyone from slaughter. Read how in verses 15-22. Notice how women don’t get much mention, but when they do it’s often because they use their wits to reduce violence.
In addition to being a gruesome story and rife with injustices, this chapter is chock-full of contradictions and inconsistencies. It starts out with a famine, which is apparently punishment for Saul’s slaughter of the Gibeonites, (in violation of the peace treaty they signed with Joshua way back in Joshua 9). Only trouble is, we have no record of Saul slaughtering Gibeonites.
As an atonement, the Gibeonites demand the execution of 7 of Saul’s descendants, which is carried out (this contradicts 1 Chronicles 10:6, which says that when Saul died, his sons died with him). Five of those executed included the sons of Michel; but Michal had no children (2 Sam 6:23). The problem here may arise from confusion between the names Michel and Merab, another daughter of Saul. Verse 12 mentions ‘when the Philistines had slain Saul’ – another confusing line.
How Saul exactly died depends on whether you read 1 Sam 31; 2 Sam 1; 2 Sam 21; or 1 Chron 10. Now the giants return, and Goliath dies all over again in verse 19! Much discussion takes place over this verse: the original Hebrew says that Elhenan slew Goliath. The KJV translation changed that to read ‘the brother of Goliath’, to avoid the obvious contradiction, and modern versions have stuck with that interpretation. Jeez, can’t god get his stories straight?