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It has been said that those who make history rarely write it, and 
those who write it rarely understand it. To this it must be added 
that those who write about it not unfrequently fail to take into 
account the circumstances in which the history was made and the 
conditions under which it was put into writing, The history of the 
children of Israel is one of unique complexity chiefly because it is 
a religious histoiy. As it has come down to us, it is so beset by 
internal difficulties that scholars have found themselves obliged to 
subject the evidence to a searching criticism which has been largely 
destructive. But if the result has been that it is now possible to 
trace the steady growth of Israel's religion and institutions, can it be 
denied that the reconstruction of her history, which is now generally 
adopted by ciitics, is no less full of problems ? Yet, one believes that 
the work of literary criticism has not been in vain. Its results have 
been built up slowly and gradually, and the fact that there is practical 
unanimity among the critics themselves is (though it may savour of 
flippancy) a significant indication that they may be generally accepted. 
The " foundation " has been laid, and all are agreed upon the " struc- 
ture," but there are many details of "architecture" and "decoration" 
wherein the builders and workmen are not yet in harmony. A glance 
at any of the recent histories of Israel proves this in a moment. It 
is notably the earlier traditions, the origins of Israel, which are 
especially obscure, and although some may fear that the evidence 
is too isolated and scanty to permit of any attempt to trace the first 
steps, this is no reason why the endeavour should not be honestly made. 

It is this pre-monarchic period which I propose to consider, to 
notice certain narratives and certain historical difficulties which 
appear to invite attention. The studies which follow are all more 
or less independent of each other, although all bear directly upon the 
origins of Israel. I have throughout endeavoured to avoid fettering 
myself with preconceived theories or fancies, a"nd have regarded the 
opening sentences of this paper not so much as a canon for the 
" higher critic," but as a warning when one passes judgment upon 
the historical questions one attempts to investigate. 


Five years ago I published a series of conjectures on the literary 
analysis of 2 Samuel, in the course of which I ventured to propose 
a fundamental reconstruction of the narratives it contained. I had 
at the same time practically completed other notes upon the earlier 
narratives, but these seemed to lead to such far-reaching conclusions 
that I was unwilling to " rush into print " until I had seen the result 
of the earlier article. In the meantime I have not unnaturally found 
myself anticipated in several particulars, although in several cases 
I find that I have arrived at the same results as others on entirely 
different grounds. But the chief cause of delay has been naturally 
the publication of Professor Karl Budde's Bileher Samuel in Marti's 
Kurger Hand-Commentar (1902) where this scholar did me the 
honour of subjecting my article to a close but invariably courteous 
criticism, which rendered a reconsideration of all my theories 
an indispensable preliminary to the publication of the later notes. 
I must confess at the outset that I have found no reason for 
departing from my main conclusions, although Budde's careful 
and sometimes severe criticisms have indicated weak spots in my 
arguments \ which I gratefully acknowledge. I shall proceed, there- 
fore, in the first section to recapitulate as briefly as possible the 
chief results contained in the article of 1900, with a few remarks 
upon the earlier chapters of David's life in 1 Samuel, and shall then 
endeavour to notice the objections that have been raised to my theory. 

I. The Life of David 2 . 

The series of chapters known as the "court history of David" 
(2 Samuel ix-xx, continued in 1 Kings i, ii) has invariably been 
regarded as one of the best specimens of early Hebrew literature : 
continuous, the work of one almost contemporary writer, and, with 
rare exceptions, entirely free from interpolations and signs of redac- 
tion. It was precisely this section which I found occasion to attack ; 
the chief problem being whether it was (as it purported to be) an 
account of the history of David's last years, or whether it did not 

1 Notably in my attempt to find support in the linguistic data, in my 
discussion of ch. vi, and in several small points of detail. On the other 
hand, Budde himself has perhaps gone too far in endeavouring to minimize 
the indications of unevenness which were noticed, and has not shown 
that boldness which marked his invaluable critical labours upon Judges 
and 1 Samuel. 

8 See more fully "Notes on the Composition of 2 Samuel," American 
Journal of Semitic Languages, vol. XVI (1900), pp. 145-77, here referred to 
by the page alone. 


consist of a number of old narratives, originally distinct, belonging 
to various parts of the king's reign. It was primarily on historical 
and not on literary grounds that reconstruction was proposed. Any 
one who has read (let us say) the legends of King Arthur is aware 
that an impression of literary unity alone is no sound argument in 
favour of the genuineness of a piece of writing, and there appeared 
to be no a priori grounds for the conviction that the general view 
of the literary unity of the court history was unassailable. From 
a consideration of many internal difficulties, therefore, it was 
suggested that even as the chronicler wrongly supposed that 
David became king of all Israel immediately after the death of 
Saul (1 Chron. xi), so it was the incorrect view of some redactor 
of 2 Samuel that this event occurred as the necessary sequel to 
the death of Saul's son Ishbaal. We can correct the chronicler by 
the Books of Samuel ; we can only conjecture that the latter give 
expression to an inaccurate view from a study of the internal 
evidence. One knows how later tradition idealized David and 
magnified his achievements ; could one feel confident that the first 
step had not already been taken in 2 Samuel ? One realized that 
the man who was the first king over all Israel, the first to unite 
the north and south, must have been a favourite figure in popular 
tradition. One has only to observe how the Bedouin of Syria and 
Palestine treasure the stories of old-time heroes in order to appreciate 
what David's personality must have meant to the sons of Israel ; and 
when one perceives how the most impossible of all supernatural 
deeds are voted genuine by the existence of this or that place, 
one will scarcely assume too readily that the vivid local colouring 
of any particular story is prima facie evidence of its authenticity. 

From a consideration of the evidence it was suggested that the 
revolt of Absalom must have preceded the great wars. The narrative 
(2 Sam. xv- xx) scarcely seemed to represent David as king over all 
Israel, and it appeared more probable that it was simply a rising 
in which the southern clans of Judah took part. Absalom had been 
at Geshur, a south Palestinian district 1 , whose king was his maternal 
grandfather, the two leading men were Judaean, and the rebels 
met at Hebron (p. 159 sq.). Tradition had associated with it the 
northern tribes, partly because at some period they had no doubt 
tried to withstand David's yoke, and partly, also, to give effect to 
that feeling of national unity which (to take an example) transformed 
the exploits of local "judges" into matters of national moment. 
In consequence of this theory, chs. v-viii, xxi-xxiv were regarded 

1 Not the Aramaean state (pp. 153, 160), " in Aram," xv. 8, being treated 
as a gloss. 


as originally forming a distinct source, and the remaining chapters 
were arranged provisionally : ii-iv (Ishbaal) ; ix (Meribbaal) ; xiii-xx 
(Absalom's revolt) ; x-xii (Ammonite war). Incidentally, this seemed 
to lead to two interesting corollaries. In the first place, when David 
fled to Mahanaim we are told that "Shobi the son of Nahash of 
Rabbah of the children of Amnion " was among those who brought 
David furniture and provisions (xvii. 27). The incident is the more 
valuable since Ammon and Saul's kingdom could not have been on 
friendly terms after 1 Sam. xi. But the passage is difficult in the 
original Hebrew, and, as Prof. H. P. Smith (International Critical 
Commentary) remarks on the words " and Shobi " : " It is possible that 
a verb once stood here." " Shobi " is a curious name, for which no 
plausible explanation has been proposed, and one is tempted to read 
N^l ("and . . . brought") for W, and assume that "son of" was 
inserted to make sense after the verb had become illegible or 
corrupt (p. 164 sq.). Now, if it was really Nahash who received 
David so kindly, it is not surprising that when he was subsequently 
succeeded by his son Hanun, David should have been anxious to 
show his gratitude in a practical manner (x. 2 ; see below, p. 793, 
n. 2). 

In addition to this, the birth of Solomon is now brought immediately 
before the revolt of Adonijah, an appropriate position considering the 
details of the intrigues in 1 Kings i-ii, and the reference to the king's 
promise to Bathsheba (i. 13, 17, 30), which may have been made 
shortly before. It is possible that the story of Bathsheba was origin- 
ally independent of the Ammonite war, and after it had been brought 
into its present content the two chapters (x-xii) may have been 
placed earlier for one of two reasons. Thus, it is possible that when 
v-viii was introduced, it was desired to place the Ammonite war 
nearer to the other wars in ch. viii; or again it is possible that 
pragmatical motives have been at work. The latter seems the 
preferable view. 

With Bathsheba and the birth of Solomon a new element of 
discord was introduced into the inevitable jealousies of the harem, 
and if she were indeed a granddaughter of the wily Ahithophel she 
may have been an adept at schemes and intrigues. At all events, we 
may couple Adonijah's revolt with the appearance of Bathsheba ; 
a clearer motive for his action could not be expected. But if 
tradition knew of the earlier revolt of another son, might it not 
have concluded that this too originated after the birth of Solomon ? 
Tradition knew, too, of the stain which besmirched the king's 
honour, and if David's success were due to his piety, his misfortunes 
must have been due to his sins. Sin and the punishment for sin act 



and react upon one another in life and in tradition. The revolt of 
a dearly loved son might be viewed as a punishment for David's 
adultery, and the death of Absalom would purge the king's guilt and 
prepare the way for Solomon \ Certainly Adonijah's revolt, in spite 
of its far-reaching consequences, did not fasten itself upon the people's 
imagination as did that of Absalom, but yet where could we find 
a more important dissension among the military authorities and the 
priestly representatives ? A closer study of 1 Kings i-ii appears to 
show that its obvious close connexion with the preceding chapters is 
not original; it is rather the work of an editor than of an early 
writer (pp. 172-4). If it is the aim of 1 Kings ii to remove from 
Solomon's shoulders the bloodshed incurred when he established his 
throne, every care has been taken to bring 2 Sam. xv-xx into 
close touch with it. Among other obscure details, perhaps the most 
striking are the passages relating to Joab. The treacherous murder 
of Abner and Amasa led to his fall (ii. 5), but the context deals 
entirely with Absalom's revolt (vv. 5-9), and the two crimes were 
apparently separated by many years. The episodes have a certain 
resemblance to each other (p. 168), and, although the story of Amasa 
is at present obscure, there is no doubt that according to Oriental 
custom Joab acted rightly in avenging the death of Asahel. H. P. 
Smith observes that " by tribal morality David as kinsman of Asahel 
was bound to take blood-revenge as much as Joab himself," and in 
spite of David's denunciation the death of Abner undoubtedly facili- 
tated his move to the throne. Joab's expostulation (2 Sam. iii. 24 sq.) 
is in perfect harmony with his sturdy uncompromising character 
as exemplified in xix. 5-7. The latter passage has been taken as 
an indication that the general had the " old " king in his power, or it 
is assumed that his influence was increased after the episode of Uriah 
the Hittite. But there is nothing to show that David was afraid 
of Joab ; the fact that he is said to have replaced him by Amasa 
points to the contrary. And if we choose to assume that Joab was 
degraded because he had killed Absalom (xviii. 14), it is remarkable 
that no allusion is made to this in David's charges to Solomon. 
Hence I was tempted to conjecture that during the (alleged) redac- 
tion steps were taken to give effect to a feeling of bitter hostility 
towards the sons of Zeruiah. 
Animosity towards Joab, an emphatic representation of David's 

1 So, not only could Absalom's death be regarded as a penalty for 
David's crime, but efforts could be made to remove the stain upon Solomon's 
birth (p. 156 sq.), and finally the steps by which Solomon came to the 
throne might be viewed not, as taken upon the king's responsibility alone, 
but as directly due to David's last charges. 


good will to the house of Saul, and the desire to throw back as 
early as possible the date of his accession to the kingship over all 
Israel, appear to have been the leading motives, and as a general 
result of my criticisms I ventured to draw two main conclusions 
(P- l 77) '• (1) the union of Judah and Israel under one king did 
not occur at an early date in David's reign ; and (2) those narratives 
which reflect a close relationship between Judah and Israel (or 
Benjamin) previous to this union do not go back to the oldest 
account of David's life, but are more probably due to an Ephraimite 
source. These passages tend to combine the histories of David and 
the house of Saul, and emphasize the king's consistent generosity 
towards the unfortunate dynasty (based partly upon a friendship 
which was said to subsist between David and Jonathan). They 
also betray here and there a marked bitterness towards Joab. 
Further, subsequent history shows how loose was the bond uniting 
north and south ; and the ease with which they separated after a few 
years of joint rule under David and Solomon favours the view that 
Judah previous to this union had never stood in any close relationship 
to Israel (or Benjamin). 

The bearing of these conclusions upon David's history in 1 Samuel 
was briefly indicated at the close of the article, and it was pointed 
out that according to the investigations of Budde it was significant 
that the source of his life at Saul's court was almost wholly Ephraimite ; 
in his life as an outlaw the Judaean narrative predominates, and in 
his fortunes as an independent chieftain (xxvii, xxix sq.), the sources 
are wholly Judaean. "We can, in fact, distinguish three separate 
phases : (1) David, the son of Jesse of Bethlehem, a familiar figure at 
the court of Saul, son-in-law of the king, and the favourite of the 
people. (2) David, the outlaw, with a few hundred men, never free 
from danger, and continually hunted by the relentless Saul. To this 
we must add the important fact that he has the sole survivor of the 
priestly family on his side. (3) Finally, we have the David who goes 
to Ziklag with his two wives and his men, "every man with his 
household." Here he establishes a footing in the country, and by 
politic gifts to the sheikhs south of Hebron took the first step which 
led to Jerusalem. It is to be observed that these three situations 
appear to take David further and further south, and sever ever more 
irretrievably his early association with Israel. Arguing from (1), 
we should have expected David to become king over Israel at an 
earlier period than the tradition itself supposes 1 . We hear no more 

1 The Chronicler in this respect is more consistent in his view that 
men of all the tribes of Israel fell away from Saul and came to David at 
Ziklag (1 Chron. xii). 

3 B-3 


of his parents— a redactor has taken the precaution to send them 
to Moab, the country against which David waged war some— how 
many? — years later. If we can easily bridge over the gulf which 
separates (3) from David at Hebron, the narratives scarcely allow 
us to fill the gaps between (1) and (2), (2) and (3) in a satisfactory 
manner. H. P. Smith suggests that 1 Sam. xxv "may have followed 
immediately upon xix. 18-24 i n a life of Samuel " ; the former chapter 
is of a distinctive character compared with its surroundings, but the 
gulf between the two can scarcely be bridged over. Again, since 
xxvi and xxiv are duplicates, and xxiii. 19-29 (David among the 
Ziphites) is to be connected with xxiv, whilst xxiii. 15-18 is "a 
distinct insertion," it follows that xxvii. 1 is to be joined to xxiii. 14. 
The latter verse reads like a summing up of the history, so far as 
relates to this part of David's life, and the constant danger of his 
position is the prelude to the desperate step he took in throwing 
himself upon the mercy of the Philistines (xxvii. 1). These indica- 
tions suifice to show the scantiness of the several traditions. But 
many of the incidents are extremely obscure. If David delivered 
Keilah from the Philistines, and the place was not in Judah, by 
whom was it occupied ? and is it natural that he should willingly 
incur the anger of the Philistines by this hostile deed? Is it not 
strange, also, that the five Philistine princes marched north to Shunem 
and Jezreel to fight Saul whose home was in Gibeah of Benjamin, 
and that David's presence is not noticed until they reached their 
destination ? 

The site of Ziklag is unfortunately unknown, although if it was 
given to David by Achish, king of Gath, it was presumably near 
Gath. But this does not agree with Josh. xv. 31, xix. 5, and a more 
southerly site is required \ If xxvii. 8, 10 means anything at all, it 
must signify that David's raid against Geshurites, Girzites (?), and 
Amalekites would not have commended itself to Achish, whilst a raid 
against the steppes of Judah, of the Jerahmeelites, and of the Kenites 
would lead Achish to believe that David "had broken finally with 
Israel and would be his perpetual vassal " (H. P. Smith). In other 
words, the latter are Israelite, the former conceivably Philistine. 
Nor is it easy to see the relation these bear to the geographical 
indications in xxx. 14, where the Amalekites retaliate by ravaging 
not merely Ziklag, but also the steppes of the Cherethites and of 
the Calebites. And finally, when David sent of the spoil to the 

1 This outlandish name may be for Halusa (Cheyne), but if we may 
infer that it must have been to the south of Hebron, one is tempted to 
conjecture that jhys is a corruption of Isaac (pns') or Isaae-el (wpns'), on 
the analogy of Joseph-el and Jacob-el. 


cities of the Jerahmeelites, the Kenites, and other cities extending to 
Hebron, are we to infer that these were the districts despoiled by 
"the enemies of Yahweh" (xxx. 26; cp. Exod. xvii. 16), or did he 
use the recaptured booty to win the hearts of other clans by tactful 
gifts ? It is easy to say that all these are the heterogeneous elements 
of which the (later) tribe of Judah was composed, but is that very 
satisfactory ? 

The question of the " Philistines " will come up for consideration 
in a subsequent section. For the present, it is enough to observe 
that, although we hear much of the Philistines in North Judah and 
Benjamin, we have no old traditions regarding the expulsion or 
subjugation of the Canaanites from that district (2 Sam. v. 6-9 
excepted). As for Achish, one may wonder whether the super- 
scription to Psalm xxxiv with its mention of Abimelech is a mere 
error. Abimelech was " king of the Philistines at Gerar" (Gen. xxvi), 
and David's visit to Achish of Gath is curiously reminiscent of Isaac's 
visit to Abimelech at Gerar and the covenant between them 1 . We 
may at all events feel sure that if tradition associated David's youth 
with the south of Judah, and actually sent him to the wilderness 
of Paran 2 , there must have been some definite object in view. Paran 
is practically the district around Kadesh ; it is associated with the 
Levites ; Bethlehem (the traditional home of David) appears on two 
noteworthy occasions closely connected with Levites (Judges xvii. 7 ; 
xix. 1) ; the chronicler has associated with David's life the inaugura- 
tion of Levitical and priestly classes — are these three facts indepen- 
dent of each other, or can any connecting link be found ? 

I shall now proceed to notice the objections that have been raised 
against my theory of the composition of 2 Samuel by Professor Budde 
and private correspondents ; they are based partly upon literary, and 
partly upon historical grounds, and I shall endeavour to summarize 
them as fairly as possible. My attempt to find in 2 Samuel Judaean 
and Ephraimite narratives as in 1 Samuel may be willingly given up 
as a general principle, and, were I presenting the theory anew in full, 
I would feel more attracted by such a literary scheme as H. P. Smith 
has adopted in his commentary 3 . 

1 I notice that Winckler (Gesch. Israels, II, 183) has felt the same 
difficulty as regards Achish, king of Gath, and suggests that he has taken 
the place of a king of Musri, that is of a district further to the south of 

2 xxv. 1, LXX, has Maon, clearly the easier reading (cp. xxv. 2 sqq.), 
but how are we to account for the text ? The more obvious reading is 
not necessarily original. 

3 Budde's own labours on Judges and Samuel have perhaps prejudiced 
him. To argue that x in A is not a sign of an Ephraimite source because 


(i) In the first place, it has been pointed out by several that "it is 
incredible to believe that David's history should have been so obscured 
or glossed during the comparatively short interval between David 
and the date of the Judaean narrative (middle of eighth century)." 
To this it is to be observed that it is not to the earliest narrator, 
but to a later redactor, that the present arrangement is due. No 
one will suppose that the famine and pestilence in 2 Sam. xxi and 
xxiv fell between Sheba's revolt and that of Adonijah, and even as 
it is allowed that later theory has obscured the lives of Samuel and 
Saul, so, later theory, too, according to my argument, must be held 
responsible for the position of Absalom's revolt. 

(2) Again, it is said that the chronological difficulties involved 
are too serious, and if (as was argued) the Geshur to which Absalom 
fled was in South Palestine (cp. Josh. xiii. 2), they are only increased ; 
David (it is objected) could not have become the son-in-law of the 
king of Geshur until he had himself become king, therefore not before 
he was anointed at Hebron ; Absalom was not the firstborn, and wo 
must allow time for David to strengthen his position before he could 
make such an alliance; Absalom could not have been very young 
when he revolted, and hence it follows we must allow anywhere 
between twenty and thirty years for David's reign in Hebron ; this 
leaves no time for his deeds as king over Israel, indeed he would be 
too old to conduct campaigns against Ammon, Moab, and Edom, and 
it is strange that the history of the north is blank all these years ; 
finally, at the time of the revolt of Absalom David was an old man, too 
old to go out to war. 

In connexion with these objections, as regards the "king" of Geshur 
who (as a support to the theory of the Judaean revolt under Absalom) 
I took to be a south Palestinian and not a Syrian chief, Budde holds 
that since Geshur is omitted from the list of Syrian allies of Ammon 
(2 Sam. x. 6), there is reason to infer that David had married one of 
its princesses, and he remarks that it must first be made probable that 
a necessarily small tribe of the southern steppes had a " king." As 
for David, he observes, it was of no small importance for him to ally 
himself with a "real king," and this would not have been for him 
a difficult task. 

it occurs elsewhere in B, C, and D which are Judaean, is not convincing 
if B, C, and D are in their turn also Ephraimite. Occasionally, also, the 
linguistic criteria (upon which I laid undue weight) may be successfully 
removed by ingenious emendation. So D^inn " spies " (a sign of E) 
in xv. 10 is replaced by D'wta "messengers," or the word is "einfach 
als falsche Ausdeutung zu streichen." 

1 So years ago Stfthelin thought of the south Geshur (Leben David's, 1866, 
p. 29). 


In reply to this, I must confess that I see no sound reason for the 
supposition that a " king " of the northern Geshur would be a greater 
potentate or a more helpful ally than one of the south. It is good 
policy for a king to strengthen or increase his influence and position 
by useful alliances, and since David had married Abigail of Caleb, 
and Ahinoam of Jezreel, and had sent round presents to the sheikhs 
of the country south of Hebron, it seemed not improbable that David 
had also married into the south Geshur. " King " of course must not 
be pressed too far. There was a king of Arad (Num. xxi. 1), seventy 
kings fed under Adoni-bezek's table (Judges i. 7), and they were 
plentiful in Canaan (Joshua x sq.). One does not regard them as 
" real kings," their power can be comprehended best by comparing 
the authority of the Canaanite chiefs in the Amarna Tablets. After 
all, David's position at Hebron was not a grand one, and a " real 
king" might hesitate to give his daughter in marriage to one who 
a few years before had been a roving outlaw. 

Next, the chronology. Was Absalom born at Hebron (iii. 2-5) ? 
If the framework of the notice be correct, one must allow that 
Amnon and Chileab were born at Hebron, although David was 
already married to Abigail and Ahinoam some time before he went 
to Ziklag, and there he is said to have lived sixteen months (1 Sam. 
xxv. 42 sq., xxvii. 7) \ But the passage is admitted to be an inter- 
polation, and Budde places it before v. 13-16, and this being so, it 
is - only natural that the editor should have brought his list into 
harmony with the context by means of the opening and closing 
statement that the sons whose names he quotes were born at Hebron. 
Moreover, if David only passed seven or eight years at Hebron, how 
old were these sons when he moved to Jerusalem and made them 
(and also the sons bom at Jerusalem) serve as priests (2 Sam. viii. 18) ? 
Is it necessary to insist that Absalom was born at Hebron ? 

Clearly we do not know how old Absalom was when he revolted, 
and if Jehoash and Azariah could reign at the age of seven and 
sixteen respectively, I do not think the question is one that could 
be profitably investigated. Certainly, it was eleven years after the 
murder of Amnon according to the chronology, but it seems extremely 
probable that the data are not genuine 2 . It seems rather inconsistent 

1 In ch. xxv which leads up to David's marriage with Abigail he is 
represented as the chief of a band of roving followers, but he goes down 
to Ziklag with his two wives, and a band of men " every man with his 
household" (xxvii. 3). Will it be held that there is no gap between 
the two situations ? 

2 The eleven years is reduced to nine by arbitrarily supposing (with 
Budde) that the four years of xv. 7 (so LXX) include the two of 
xiv. 28. 


to accept them because they tell against the theory of the early date 
of the revolt, and to reject the notices in ii. 1 1 which imply a period 
of five and a half years between the death of Ishbaal and David's 
accession to the throne in Jerusalem, and thus incidentally support 
the argument that from a historical point of view ch. v. 1-3 does not 
follow immediately after iv. On these grounds, it is not necessary 
to assume that David reigned " twenty to thirty years in Hebron ' " ; 
the narrative of the revolt may give one the impression that Absalom 
is a young impetuous man, but "impressions" alone can scarcely 
serve as evidence. At all events it cannot be admitted that David 
is here represented as an old man and that he would be far too 
old to wage the wars against Ammon and Moab which I have 
placed later. For, firstly, is it reasonable to expect one to fix the 
age at which a king must be supposed to be too old to go to 
war? Secondly, even after a skirmish with the Philistines David 
was adjured not to go out to battle again lest the " light of Israel " 
be quenched (xxi. 16 sq.). Finally, if David is dissuaded from taking 
part in the battle against Absalom (xviii. 3, see Budde, ad loc.) there 
are other motives at work. David was unwilling to take a hand 
in fighting with his beloved son, the loss of Absalom meant more 
to him than the glory of victory ; and, if this be not enough, the 
verse seems to imply that the king could send out reserves if 
necessary. David left Joab to conduct the war against Abner 
(ii-iv), but this is not usually taken as an event in his old age. 
Will it, therefore, be seriously maintained that the energetic king 
who conducts operations in xv-xix, and who (according to Budde) 
took his wives with him in his flight to Mahanaim (see p. 796 below), 
was old and feeble like the David of Adonijah's revolt (1 Kings i) ? 
If, as is usually held, the latter follows upon Absalom's rebellion, is it 
not at least striking that now (and only now) the narrative takes pains 
to show that the king had reached a good old age (1 Kings i. 1-3) ? 
No doubt the chronological notices in xiii-xv represent some scheme, 
and the most probable appears to be that according to which Solomon 
was twelve years old when he came to the throne (p. 160). But such 
notices are not rarely suspicious, and if they are to be rejected it 
is perhaps enough if one can lay the finger upon their probable 

(3) Again, as regards the proposal to place the Ammonite war 
after the revolt, certain counter-arguments have been put forward. 
Budde (Sam. 246 sq.), for example, deems it more probable that the 

1 Nor need the blank in the history of the northern tribes from the 
death of Ishbaal to the time of David's supremacy over all Israel, prove 
a stumblingblock. Are there no blanks in the history of Israel ? 


first relations between David and Ammon were warlike, and that later 
they became on a more friendly footing ; if Nahash king of Ammon 
died in the early part of David's reign, his son Hanun might very 
well have been old enough to ascend the throne a few years later ; 
naturally David cultivated friendly relations with one who would 
be Isbbaal's foe, and the reference in x. 2 has no deeper meaning ; 
but now that David had no longer a rival, but held the sovereignty, 
the Ammonites would regard him as an enemy, and his treatment 
of Moab and Edom would make them suspicious. All this (according 
to Budde) speaks for the early part of David's reign. Subsequently, 
it is observed, when Ammon was no longer a separate state, we 
actually find that Shobi, the brother of the vanquished Hanun, is 
not called "king," clearly because he is only David's governor. 
The refutation thus appears complete in every detail. 

In reply to these objections, one must confess that they are to 
an extent as hypothetical as the reconstructions I suggested, and 
the question must turn rather upon the degree of probability. 
Nahash was king of Ammon (1 Sam. xi) before David appears upon 
the scene, and it has been argued that he must have been dead 
however early the revolt occurred. This is scarcely a question of 
the age to which kings live, and it seems much more remarkable 
that Achish, the king of David's early youth, should have lived to 
a few years after his protege's death (1 Kings ii. 39) '! Again (in 
the absence of evidence) it is surely a matter of opinion whether 
warlike relations precede friendly, or vice versa, and whether x. 2 
has some subtle allusion or is merely diplomatic etiquette 2 . 

It is of course not unlikely that the Ammonites would resent 
David's increased power, and the same has been said of the Philistines, 
who (it is supposed) allowed David to war with Ishbaal, and only 
intervened when he had conquered and become king over the whole 
land 3 . But would not Edom and Moab also rise in arms ? Surely if 

1 The follower of the tradition will observe that Saul reigned only two 
years (1 Sam. xiii. 1), but the tradition is not reliable. 

2 The critics are at variance : H. P. Smith supposes that Nahash had 
helped David in his early struggles. Budde now says " es handelt sich um 
feststehende Gebrauche." Winckler in 1895 (Gesch. Israels, I, 213) was 
convinced that the reference was only to neighbourliness. In 1900 he 
seems to have changed his views (II, 181). Cheyne (Encyc. Bib., col. 3258) 
notes that " The statement that he (Nahash) had ' shown kindness ' to 
David has been much discussed. The ' kindness ' cannot have been 
passed over in the records, and yet where does the traditional text 
mention it ? " So much depends upon whether one is supporting or con- 
testing existing theories. 

3 On pp. 150, 152, 154 it is argued that the fights with the Philistines 


the traditional view is to be followed, it is only right that some attempt 
be made to sketch a plausible sequence of events. One knows that 
the great wars are summarized in 2 Sam. viii. The chapter ends 
with a passage "which evidently marks the conclusion of a section 
of the narrative" (H. P. Smith). The "impression" gained is that 
v-viii owe their position here to an editor ' who has collected much 
miscellaneous matter, similar as regards contents to that which is 
found in xxi-xxiv. There, they are admittedly out of chronological 
order, and it is scarcely less doubtful that the incidents in v-viii 
are not to be viewed as consecutive. Their position suggests an 
early part of David's reign. The "impression" left by eh. viii is 
that we have a concluding panegyric, probably of different periods. 
These successful wars against the Philistines, Moabites, Ammonites, 
Syrians, Edomites (and ver. 1 2 adds the Amalekites !) were obviously 
not waged at one time, simply because each viewed David's step 
with jealousy and hostility. If David adopted a natural policy 
his defeated foes in one war would be his mercenaries or allies in 
the next; to assume that they rose against him each in turn 
would be unreasonable. 

To wage these wars, large armies of seasoned troops were required, 
whereas David fled from before Absalom with a mere bodyguard 
consisting perhaps of foreigners (xv. 18). It would not be unnatural 
to suppose that (adopting the current view) the northern tribes 
submitted to David's yoke in order to fight a common enemy, 
and only revolted when the land was at peace, but it has yet to 
be proved that they actually did revolt (see below, p. 798). And if 
we assume that they did join with Judah, it is strange that although 
they disappear from the narrative in a state of half-suppressed 
hostility (xx. 2), Joab leads the bodyguard— and not an army — 
through their territory as though nothing had happened. Moreover, 
David's wars had raised Israel to the position of the greatest of the 
western states, whereas the whole tenor of the early stages of the 
revolt unmistakably emphasizes his desperate position. Resistance 
was out of the question until he had collected a few warriors to his 
side 2 . But where— following the traditional view — were the decimated 
Ammonites, the despoiled Moabites, the subjugated Philistines, and 
that inveterate foe, the Edomites ? They neither attempted to regain 

in v, xxi, xxiii were to be placed at an early date before David became 
king of Israel. 

1 Or editors, the introductory notice being twofold (v. 3 and v. r, 2 ; 

P- 154)- 

* 4,000 according to Josephus {Ant., vii. 101), and the moderate estimate 
(contrast e. g. 1 Sam. xi. 8) invites confidence. 


their independence nor did they join cause with Absalom. This was 
no sudden rising ; widespread preparations had been made beforehand, 
and yet at the critical time the hostile peoples are quiet. 

As an incidental part of the reconstruction, the theory proposed 
"ganz aus der Welt zu schaffen " the unfortunate Shobi to join 
the unlucky Vashni in the tents of Minnith and Pannag '. To 
infer from the absence of such a title as "king of Amnion" that 
the land was no longer independent is hardly justifiable ; the passage 
mentions homes not official designations (xvii. 27). Even Hanun 
himself is not called "king" of Amnion 2 , and the war in x-xii is 
not with Hanun the king but with the Ammonites. One does not 
infer that when " Hiram, king of Tyre, sent messengers to David " 
(v. n) that the latter had not yet become king; allowance must be 
made for the narrator's style and fancy (contrast viii. 6 and 10). 

It has also been objected that xvii. 27 presupposes ix, and Meribbaal 
could not have been taken from the care of Machir of Lo-debar until 
David had settled in Jerusalem, and had become king of Israel, ergo 
Absalom's revolt must be placed later in David's reign. This brings 
us to a difficulty in the narrative which has to be faced, whether 
the new theory or the traditional view be accepted. No doubt 
Machir's friendliness to David at Mahanaim was intended to be 
viewed as a grateful return for the king's kindness to Meribbaal 
(ix), even as the troubles which befell the king were regarded as 
a fitting retribution for his fall in the matter of Bathsheba and 
his treatment of the sons of Saul (xxi). But as analogy shows, 
it is not the original writer but the later reader who loves to 
associate cause and effect and point a moral to the tale, and, 
further, the "impression of literary unity," in other words, the 
intimate connexion of the narratives one with the other, is due 
to editorial skill. One learns from experience that cross-references 
and the like are the work of the editors, not of the contributors ! 
Contrast for example the simple straightforward passages in 1 Sam. 
ix. 1-14, 15— x. 1 with the cross-references x. 5-8. The fact that 
Saul's rejection at Gilgal (1 Sam. xiii. 8-15) points back to x. 8 
does not make it genuine, and if the account of his anointing 
(x. 17-27) is connected with chaps, viii, xii, and xv, it is not assumed 
that viii-xv inclusive are therefore by one hand. The indications 
of redaction in the court history are certainly less superficial than 
in 1 Samuel, but a careful study of the book seems to prove their 
presence. To notice one insignificant example : when we find that 
the reference in Nathan's speech to Absalom's conduct (xii. 11) is 

1 See the Encyc. Bib. on these names. 

2 But "lord" (jiiM), x. 3. 


regarded as a gloss, I must maintain my former suggestion (p. 162) 
that the act in question (xvi. 22, cp. xv. 16, xx. 3) is alike intrusive. 
The passages fit in loosely, and have all the appearance of being 
interpolated. Budde, if I understand aright, concludes from the 
specific reference to David's concubines that David in his hurried 
flight took his wives with him. Thus we are to suppose that 
the " aged " king, supported only by a mere bodyguard, flees in 
haste from the capital, but takes the precaution to remove his 
wives '. Or, may we not rather believe that the story of the 
revolt as it passed from mouth to mouth was made the vehicle for 
inculcating a lesson? We know what Absalom's act meant to the 
Oriental mind, it was simply a step which the successful usurper 
took as a matter of right ; and it seems far more probable that when 
the narratives were made an object lesson, popular tradition should 
have made David suffer in a characteristic manner in return for his 
treacherous conduct towards Uriah the Hittite. 

Tradition, possibly an Ephraimite one, but in all probability of 
comparatively late origin, saw in David's extremity a fitting punish- 
ment for the blood of the house of Saul (xvi. 6-8 ; cp. xxi). The 
instrument is one Shimei, a Benjamite, and the part which this tribe 
plays in the revolt is not free from obscurity. Shimei himself could 
muster a thousand tribesmen (xix. 17), no inconsiderable gathering 
considering the period. Meribbaal, too, appears to have hoped to 
seize the opportunity to build up the fortunes of Saul's house, and if 
he explains his behaviour with a very intelligible excuse (xix. 24-30), 
he is nevertheless condemned to lose half his estate. But there is no 
concerted action ; they are merely independent lay figures ; and whilst 
Shimei's outspoken language represents what some thought of David's 
dealings with the Gibeonites, Meribbaal's humble attitude is an ac- 
knowledgment of the king's favour to the son of an old friend. The 
emphatic manner in which certain narratives insist upon David's good 
will towards the house of Saul may reflect the sentiments of conquered 
tribes anxious to point to an early covenant bond between conquered 
and conquerors, but the attitude of David in xxi is so entirely 
distinct and archaic from a religious point of view that it must 
strike one as representing an older tradition. Budde, still main- 
taining his original reconstruction, places xxi. 1-14 before ix, and 
finds in the words of Shimei (xvi. 7 sq.) and the appearance of 
Meribbaal (xvi. 1-4, xix. 24-30) support for his view. Whatever we 

1 It would be equally justifiable and rash to assume that Bathsheba 
and Solomon accompanied the king, and with more justice, inasmuch as 
Absalom (it might be argued) would be only too glad to put the young 
child out of the way ! 


may think of David's covenant with Jonathan, there is no difficulty in 
assuming that David's inquiry 1 should follow as soon as possible 
after the death of Ishbaal (iv). If xxi intervenes, we must allow 
an interval of at least three years (ver. 1), which makes David's 
kindness somewhat belated 2 . Here, the Gibeonites have demanded 
and received seven of Saul's descendants, and have executed their 
vengeance upon them. We may treat ver. 7 as a gloss or not, but 
it is at least plausible to imagine that if seven sons could be found, 
the whereabouts of Jonathan's son could hardly be quite unknown. 
The sequel, with the pathetic picture of Rizpah, is well known, but it 
is not until this juncture that David thinks of interring the remains 
of all the survivors in the sepulchre of Kish, the father of Saul. Nor 
does it seem quite appropriate, to our ideas at least, that after seven 
sons had thus met their fate, David should inquire whether any more 
were left'. May one not believe that when xxi. 1-14 found a place 
in 2 Samuel, Shimei was assigned his present somewhat unnatural 
r6le (p. 170 sq.), and that when the story of Meribbaal formed part 
of the present narratives, he too had to find a place in the revolt 
(p. 169 sq.)? 

Again, is it " only natural " that David fled to Mahanaim (so 
Budde), or is it not rather remarkable ? If, following the tradition, 
Israel was up in arms against the king, why should he take refuge in 
Ishbaal's capital ? And if, following the theory, he was not yet king, 
why flee to Mahanaim ? Could he hope for succour here ? Had it 
been Amnion, we could understand his motive. But supposing this 
belongs to an early date, before war broke out with Ishbaal, might 
this not be a good reason for his generous sentiments towards Saul's 
descendants ? The problem would be simplified if it could be agreed 
whether Israel did or did not take part in the revolt. Judah alone is 
prominent throughout ; the men of Israel (like Aaron in the older 
narratives) appear only to disappear. If one considers the preparations 
for the revolt, how Absalom sowed disaffection among men of the 
tribes of Israel (xv. 2-6), and after four years' delay (so LXX) sent 
round messengers to rouse Israel to action, it is scarcely conceivable 
that this is the true account of the commencement*. Although 

1 "Is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may show 
him kindness for Jonathan's sake " (ix. 1). 

2 No doubt the three years in ver. 1 may be easily rejected henceforth, 
but will this remove the difficulty ? 

8 If Meribbaal lived at David's court knowing full well the fate of his 
relatives, is not his grateful acknowledgment in xix. 28 a little forced? 

4 It was suggested that ver. 7 contains the oldest account of the com- 
mencement of the revolt. On its possible object, see p. 160 sq. 


the hostility of the tribes is patent (ver. 13), and they come to Jeru- 
salem with Absalom (xvi. 15), yet Hushai counsels the young prince to 
gather the people from " Dan to Beersheba," and to this advice " all 
the men of Israel" agreed (xvii. 11-14). After the battle it is the 
men of Judah who have to be reconciled, for " Israel " had fled to 
their tents (xix. 8), and when Judah came to Gilgal to escort the 
king, only " half the people of Israel " were present (xix. 40). Even 
at this moment there was hostility between Judah and Israel, and 
when Sheba the Benjamite seized the occasion to raise a fresh revolt, 
" all the men of Israel went up from following David and followed 
Sheba " (xx. 2). But they are heard of no more. Sheba's followers 
are his clansmen only, as small a gathering as that of Shimei, and 
there is nothing to show (as far as the present narratives are concerned) 
whether the ill-feeling had died down by the time we reach 1 Kings i. 
Hence not only was it held that the size of the revolt had been 
exaggerated, but the present position of Sheba's revolt was merely 
due to redaction (p. 166 sq.). "It would have been madness," as 
H. P. Smith admits 1 , "to revolt after the suppression of Absalom," 
and, apart from the question of probability, the present literary form 
of the passage points to the work of an editor. To this Budde dissents. 
The suggestion that Sheba's revolt had been appended by a redactor 
who had in his mind the story of the parting of the two kingdoms 
(1 Kings xii. 16-20) is rejected; the reverse, according to Budde, is 
more probable. But it is not surprising that popular tradition should 
have brought together revolts of different periods and by different tribes, 
and if it will be admitted that Sheba's rising represents an attempt 
of Benjamin to contest the authority of David the situation becomes 
more clear. David's army has sunk down to the bodyguard again 
(xx. 7), and Budde's objection that David's men would scarcely 
pursue Sheba and his clan through the length of North Israel 
applies equally to the traditional view, which represents Israel as 
parting from Judah in hostility. Surely it is more remarkable that 
David should have fled to Mahanaim to escape Judah and Israel, and 
that Saul and his servant wandered about in search of some lost asses 
in a country which was groaning under the yoke of the Philistines 
(1 Sam. ix. 16). 

In conclusion, it is not amiss that we should remind ourselves of 
Robertson Smith's words, nearly thirty years ago, in his article 
" David " in the Encyclopaedia Britannica : " The Biblical narratives 
are not so constructed as to enable us to decide in chronological 
order the thirty-three years of David's reign over all Israel." They 
represent a view which is very generally admitted and the questions 

1 Old Testament History, p. 149, n. a (Edinburgh, 1903). 


I have raised imply that we should probably include also the seven 
years that David was king over Judah at Hebron. Whatever opinion 
may ultimately be held regarding the sequence of events and the 
extent of redaction, it is only right that those who take the traditional 
or even the " moderate " position should endeavour to offer some 
reasonably consistent scheme. The life of David is the turning-point 
in early Hebrew history, and on that account the narratives require 
the closest examination from the historical as well as from the 
literary side. These involve a discussion of the situation before 
David's time, the lives of Saul and Samuel, and the stories of the 
Book of Judges, a consideration of which will be undertaken in the 
following sections. 

Stanley A. Cook. 

(To he continued.)