David’s Last Sin and Punishment – 1017 B.C & City of Ebla.

I guess You expect us to mess up and sin since the devil is here to help us out in doing so, but if our sin was not for the purpose of defying you and we ask for forgiveness then You forgive us, as long as we are sincere in our heart.

And of course, You know if we are sincere or not – I mean, You’re God and You know everything. 

After David’s acts of adultery and murder, did he fly right?

A clay tablet found in Ebla, Syria
The Ebla tablets are a collection of as many as 1800 complete clay tablets, 4700 fragments and many thousand minor chips found in the palace archives of the ancient city of Ebla, Syria.

The tablets were discovered by Italian archaeologist Paolo Matthiae and his team in 1974–75 during their excavations at the ancient city of Tell Mardikh.

The tablets, which were found in situ on collapsed shelves, retained many of their contemporary clay tags to help reference them.

They all date to the period between ca. 2500 B.C. and the destruction of the city ca. 2250 BC.

Today, the tablets are being held in the Syrian museums of Aleppo, Damascus, and Idlib.

“And again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.

For the king said to Joab the captain of the host, which was with him, Go now through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan even to Beersheba, and number ye the people, that I may know the number of the people.

And Joab said unto the king, Now the Lord thy God add unto the people, how many soever they be, an hundredfold, and that the eyes of my lord the king may see it: but why doth my lord the king delight in this thing?” (2 Sam 24:1-3).

So Joab went out to number the people, passing over Jordan and pitching in Aroer.  They went to Gilead and to the land of Tahtim-hodhi, and then to Dan-jaan, and Zidon. 

Then they arrived to the strong hold Tyre, and all the cities of Hivites, and the Canaanites, to the south of Judah, and even to Beer-sheba. 

Nine months and twenty days later they returned to Jerusalem with the results of their count, which was 1,300,000 fighting men, they didn’t count women and children.

“And David’s heart smote him after that he had numbered the people. And David said unto the Lord, I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech thee, O Lord, take away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly.

For when David was up in the morning, the word of the Lord came unto the prophet Gad, David’s seer, saying,

Go and say unto David, Thus saith the Lord, I offer thee three things; choose thee one of them, that I may do it unto thee.

So Gad came to David, and told him, and said unto him, Shall seven years of famine come unto thee in thy land? or wilt thou flee three months before thine enemies, while they pursue thee? or that there be three days’ pestilence in thy land? now advise, and see what answer I shall return to him that sent me (2 Sam 24:10-13).

David told Gad to have God choose which punishment so the Lord sent a pestilence that killed 70,000 men.  When the angel stretched out his hand to destroy Jerusalem God stopped Him and said that was enough.

David then asked God to only punish him and Gad said to, Go up, rear an altar unto the LORD in the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite (2 Sam 24:18).

Lugal is the Sumerian term for “king, ruler”. Literally, the term means “big man.” In Sumerian, lu is “man” and gal is “great,” or “big.”

It was one of several Sumerian titles that a ruler of a city-state could bear (alongside en and ensi, the exact difference being a subject of debate). The sign eventually became the predominant logograph for “King” in general. In the Sumerian language, lugal is used to mean an owner (e.g. of a boat or a field) or a head (of a unit such as a family).

And David went up to do as the Lord had commanded.  Araunah saw the king and his servants coming toward him  and David said he wanted to purchase the threshing floor to build an altar unto the Lord so that the plague be stayed.

The Ebla Tablets Mystery January 15, 2016 ~ admin Tablets Ancient Explorers – Ancient Ebla was located in Northern Syria, approximately halfway between the modern cities of Hamath and Aleppo. Excavations at that site began in the 1960s, and in the 1970s a series of extraordinary tablets was discovered among the ruins of an ancient palace. These tablets became known as “The Ebla Tablets”, and they were originally discovered under the direction of two professors from the University of Rome – Dr. Paolo Matthiae and Dr. Giovanni Petinato. At this point, about 17,000 tablets from the ancient Eblaite Kingdom have been recovered. These tablets appear to have been written during the two last generations of ancient Ebla. This means that they probably come from some time around 2300 to 2250 B.C. But what is remarkable about the Ebla tablets is not how old they are, but rather the amazing parallels to the Bible that they contain.

 Araunah offered to give David oxen, threshing instruments, wood, and other instruments for free.

“And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing. So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver…

And David built there an altar unto the LORD, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the LORD was intreated for the land, and the plague was stayed from Israel” (2 Sam 24:24-25).

The census David takes to count his fighting men is not in itself a sin (although I Chr 21:1 tells us that Satan was the instigator). It seems that David’s motive in counting the men is the problem, although we’re not told what that is, since David did not answer Joab’s question in verse 3.

Perhaps he did the count as a way to gloat about in his military might. Whatever the reason, David realizes the census was a faithless, sinful act (v. 10) and indeed God is very displeased with David because of it.

1 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;

Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no differences:

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God (Rom 3:21-25).

City of Ebla

Ruins of the outer wall and the “Damascus Gate”
Ebla was one of the earliest kingdoms in Syria, located about 55 km (34 mi) southwest of Aleppo near the village of Mardikh.

It was an important center throughout the Third millennium B.C. to the end of the first half of the Second millennium B.C.

Started as a small settlement in the early Bronze Age, it developed into a trading empire and later turned into an expansionist power that imposed its hegemony over much of northern and eastern Syria.

Its language, the Eblaite language is now considered the earliest attested Semitic language, after Akkadian.

The site is most famous for the Ebla tablets, an archive of about 20,000 cuneiform tablets found there, dated from around 2350 B.C., written in both Sumerian and Eblaite languages and using the Sumerian Cuneiform which allowed a better understanding of Sumerian.

Excavating the city of Ebla (modern Tell Mardikh) in northwestern Syria, archaeologists have discovered the single largest collection of third-millennium B.C. cuneiform tablets unearthed to date.

Im­mensely important in the study of the ancient Near East, this site has yielded tens of thousands of complete texts and fragments.

Ebla was destroyed during the 23rd century B.C., it was then rebuilt and was attested in the records of the Third Dynasty of Ur.

The second Ebla was a continuation to the first Ebla, it was destroyed at the end of the second millennia B.C. which paved the way for the Amorite tribes to settle in the city and form the third Ebla.

The third kingdom flourished again as a trade center, it became a subject and an ally to Yamhad (modern Aleppo) until its final destruction by the Hittite king Mursili I in c. 1600 B.C.

Ebla maintained its prosperity through a vast trading network, artifacts from Sumer, Cyprus, Egypt and as far as Afghanistan were recovered from the palaces of the city.

The political organization of Ebla had unique features different from the Sumerian model.

Women enjoyed a special status, the queen had major influence in the state and religious affairs, the pantheon was mainly north Semitic and included deities exclusive to Ebla.

These texts, which include administrative, lexical, literary and diplomatic tablets, were discovered in the palace, which had been destroyed by fire.

Ironically, the conflagration may have helped to preserve the tablets by baking them, although some more important tablets would have been purposely hard-baked when created in order to preserve their information for generations.

The Eblaites utilized the Sumerian cuneiform writing system, adapting it to their Semitic language. This has made deci­pherment and translation of the texts both difficult and tedious.

In fact, early transla­tions often vary drastically from more recent ones as more is learned about the Eblaite language.

As a result, earlier scholars be­lieved they had found a text parallel to the familiar Biblical proverbs, while today this so-called proverbial text is considered to tie merely a list of Sumerian terms for cuts of meat.

Some scholars had thought they saw references to the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob/Israel) in the Ebla tablets, but this also has turned out to be a false lead.

At one point, ancient historians be­lieved that information in the Ebla texts indicated that the city, during its zenith, controlled a vast empire from Egypt to the Persian Gulf.

Many of these early readings have now come under renewed scrutiny as well, with the result that the extent of Ebla’s former power remains in question.

The importance of the Ebla documents for Biblical studies probably lies in what they can tell us in general about life in 3rd mil­lennium B.C.  

Syria-Palestine, as opposed to their providing any specific parallels to the Bible, as had been hoped.

The Last Words of David & King David’s Kingdom Found?

If Moses’ song didn’t explain You, the other one and this one certainly does.

Judean city of Shaarayim
Archaeologists have unearthed a palace in what they believe is the fortified Judean city of Shaarayim, where the Bible states King David battled the giant Goliath.

The discovery of what is thought to be King David’s palace, measuring 1,000 square meters, was made by Hebrew University and the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Over the past seven years the teams have also uncovered a huge storehouse containing pots and artifacts that they believe proves the existence of a ruler in Judah in the tenth century B.C.

“The ruins are the best example to date of the uncovered fortress city of King David,” professors Yossi Garfinkel and Saar Ganor of Hebrew University said.

“This is indisputable proof of the existence of a central authority in Judah during the time of King David.”

“Now these be the last words of David. David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, said,

The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and his word was in my tongue.

The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.

And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain.

Although my house be not so with God; yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although he make it not to grow.

But the sons of Belial shall be all of them as thorns thrust away, because they cannot be taken with hands:

But the man that shall touch them must be fenced with iron and the staff of a spear; and they shall be utterly burned with fire in the same place.

These be the names of the mighty men whom David had: The Tachmonite that sat in the seat, chief among the captains; the same was Adino the Eznite: he lift up his spear against eight hundred, whom he slew at one time.

And after him was Eleazar the son of Dodo the Ahohite, one of the three mighty men with David, when they defied the Philistines that were there gathered together to battle, and the men of Israel were gone away:

He arose, and smote the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand clave unto the sword: and the Lord wrought a great victory that day; and the people returned after him only to spoil.

And after him was Shammah the son of Agee the Hararite. And the Philistines were gathered together into a troop, where was a piece of ground full of lentiles: and the people fled from the Philistines.

But he stood in the midst of the ground, and defended it, and slew the Philistines: and the Lord wrought a great victory.

And three of the thirty chief went down, and came to David in the harvest time unto the cave of Adullam: and the troop of the Philistines pitched in the valley of Rephaim.

Shaaravim
The biblical city of Shaarayim is thought to have become the modern city of Khirbet Qeiyafa, which is approximately 30 kilometres south west of Jerusalem.

The professors said that the ruins are the two largest known buildings to have existed at the time of King David in Jerusalem.

They added: “The southern part of a large palace that extended across an area of about 1,000 square meters was revealed at the top of the city.

The wall enclosing the palace is about 30 meters long and an impressive entrance is fixed through which one descended to the southern gate of the city, opposite the Valley of Elah.

Around the palace’s perimeter were rooms in which various installations were found – evidence of a metal industry, special pottery vessels and fragments of alabaster vessels that were imported from Egypt.”

The archaeologists collected hundreds of artifacts at the site, including religious objects, seals, pottery and tools typical of the time.

The palace is at the center of the site and is higher than the houses lower in the city.

The royal occupants would have had an excellent view of the land, stretching from the Mediterranean Sea in the west to the Hebron Mountains and Jerusalem in the east.

And David was then in an hold, and the garrison of the Philistines was then in Bethlehem.

The remains of what is thought to be a royal storeroom.
It was in this building the kingdom stored taxes it received in the form of agricultural produce collected from the residents of the different villages in the Judean Shephelah

“This is unequivocal evidence of a kingdom’s existence, which knew to establish administrative centers at strategic points,'”said Professors Garfinkel and Ganor.

“To date no palaces have been found that can clearly be ascribed to the early tenth century B.C. as we can do now.”

The Israel Antiquities Authority said it hoped that the new discoveries will lead to the site becoming a national park.

And David longed, and said, Oh that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate!

And the three mighty men brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David: nevertheless he would not drink thereof, but poured it out unto the Lord.

And he said, Be it far from me, O Lord, that I should do this: is not this the blood of the men that went in jeopardy of their lives? therefore he would not drink it. These things did these three mighty men.

And Abishai, the brother of Joab, the son of Zeruiah, was chief among three. And he lifted up his spear against three hundred, and slew them, and had the name among three.

Was he not most honorable of three? therefore he was their captain: howbeit he attained not unto the first three.

And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man, of Kabzeel, who had done many acts, he slew two lionlike men of Moab: he went down also and slew a lion in the midst of a pit in time of snow:

And he slew an Egyptian, a goodly man: and the Egyptian had a spear in his hand; but he went down to him with a staff, and plucked the spear out of the Egyptian’s hand, and slew him with his own spear.

These things did Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and had the name among three mighty men.

He was more honourable than the thirty, but he attained not to the first three. And David set him over his guard.

Asahel the brother of Joab was one of the thirty; Elhanan the son of Dodo of Bethlehem,

Shammah the Harodite, Elika the Harodite,

Helez the Paltite, Ira the son of Ikkesh the Tekoite,

Abiezer the Anethothite, Mebunnai the Hushathite,

Zalmon the Ahohite, Maharai the Netophathite,

Heleb the son of Baanah, a Netophathite, Ittai the son of Ribai out of Gibeah of the children of Benjamin,

Benaiah the Pirathonite, Hiddai of the brooks of Gaash,

Abialbon the Arbathite, Azmaveth the Barhumite,

Eliahba the Shaalbonite, of the sons of Jashen, Jonathan,

Shammah the Hararite, Ahiam the son of Sharar the Hararite,

Eliphelet the son of Ahasbai, the son of the Maachathite, Eliam the son of Ahithophel the Gilonite,

Hezrai the Carmelite, Paarai the Arbite,

Igal the son of Nathan of Zobah, Bani the Gadite,

Zelek the Ammonite, Nahari the Beerothite, armourbearer to Joab the son of Zeruiah,

Ira an Ithrite, Gareb an Ithrite,

Uriah the Hittite: thirty and seven in al”l  (2 Sam 23:1-39).

Israeli Archaeologist Believes
He’s Found a Biblical Site
Linked to King David

In the 2nd Book of Samuel, it is written that King David captured Jerusalem, then under Jebusite control, using a water shaft to penetrate the city’s defenses.

Now, an Israeli archaeologist believes he has uncovered the water tunnel as well as King David’s legendary citadel.

Eli Shukron, an archeologist formerly with Israel’s Antiquities Authority, walks in the City of David archaeological site near Jerusalem’s Old City on May 1, 2014.

Shukron says that his dig uncovered a narrow shaft where water flowed and where those living in Jerusalem came to draw water.

The path of the tunnel led to the wall surrounding the city, the point where he believes David’s forces gained access to Jerusalem.

In his estimation no other structure in the area matches the citadel that David captured in his conquest.

Shukron’s dig, which began in 1995, uncovered a massive fortification of five-ton stones stacked 21 feet (6 meters) wide.

Pottery shards helped date the fortification walls to be 3,800 years old.

They are the largest walls found in the region from before the time of King Herod, the ambitious builder who expanded the Second Jewish Temple complex in Jerusalem almost 2,100 years ago.

The fortification – built 800 years before King David captured Jerusalem from the Jebusites – was believed to have protected the city’s access to water.

Archaeologist Eli Shukron walks in the City of David archaeological site

Shukron said that his findings match clues in the biblical narrative about David’s conquest of the city from that particular location.  Shukron said,

“This is the citadel of King David, this is the Citadel of Zion, and this is what King David took from the Jebusites. The whole site we can compare to the Bible perfectly.”

But another archaeologist who used to work with Shukron said that more pottery shards from the era of King David’s reign during the 10th century B.C. should have been found at the site in order to place the find more definitively during that era.

“The connection between archaeology and the Bible has become very, very problematic in recent years,” archaeologist Ronny Reich said.

Shukron said he found two pottery pieces dating close to that time which he believes is due to the continuous use of the area and that old pottery pieces would have been cleared out in the interim years.

“I know every little thing in the City of David. I didn’t see in any other place such a huge fortification as this,” said Shukron.

Archaeologist Eli Shukron believes this chisel was used during construction of the Second Temple.

Doron Spielman, vice president of the nonprofit Elad Foundation which oversees the archaeological park in the City of David said,“We open the Bible and we see how the archaeology and the Bible actually come together in this place.”

Shukron has been excavating in the City of David – which is located in east Jerusalem – for two decades.

While Israel views Jerusalem as a united city that is its capital, Palestinians claim east Jerusalem as their future capital.

Virtually all of the holy sites, including the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Western Wall and Temple Mount, are located in the Old City which is in the eastern part of the city.

David’s Song of Deliverance & Songs of Warriors

So it’s true, we’re not allowed to kill anyone just because we think it’s right, because we don’t know if it’s right or not, only You know. 

I remember reading that we aren’t supposed to live by our own understanding of things.

“And David spake unto the LORD the words of this song in the day that the LORD had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul, and he said:

The LORD is my rock, and my fortress,
and my deliverer;

The God of my rock; in him will I trust:
he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation,

my high tower, and my refuge, my savior;
thou savest me from violence.

I will call on the LORD, who is worthy to be praised:
so shall I be saved from mine enemies.

When the waves of death compassed me,
the floods of ungodly men made me afraid;

The sorrows of hell compassed me about;
the snares of death prevented me;

In my distress I called upon the LORD,
and cried to my God:

and he did hear my voice out of his temple,
and my cry did enter into his ears.

Then the earth shook and trembled;
the foundations of heaven moved and shook, because he was wroth.

There went up a smoke out of his nostrils,
and fire out of his mouth devoured:
coals were kindled by it.

He bowed the heavens also, and came down;
and darkness was under his feet.

And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly:
and he was seen upon the wings of the wind.

And he made darkness pavilions round about him,
dark waters, and thick clouds of the skies.

Through the brightness before him were coals of fire kindled.

The LORD thundered from heaven,
and the most High uttered his voice.

And he sent out arrows, and scattered them;
lightning, and discomfited them.

And the channels of the sea appeared,
the foundations of the world were discovered,

at the rebuking of the LORD,
at the blast of the breath of his nostrils.

He sent from above, he took me;
he drew me out of many waters;

He delivered me from my strong enemy,
and from them that hated me:
for they were too strong for me.

They prevented me in the day of my calamity:
but the LORD was my stay.

He brought me forth also into a large place:
he delivered me, because he delighted in me.

The LORD rewarded me according to my righteousness:
according to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me.

For I have kept the ways of the LORD,
and have not wickedly departed from my God.

For all his Judgments were before me:
and as for his statutes, I did not depart from them.

I was also upright before him,
and have kept myself from mine iniquity.

Therefore the LORD hath recompensed me according to my righteousness;
according to my cleanness in his eye sight.

With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful,
and with the upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright.

With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure;
and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself unsavory.

And the afflicted people thou wilt save:
but thine eyes are upon the haughty,
that thou mayest bring them down.

For thou art my lamp, O LORD:
and the LORD will lighten my darkness.

For by thee I have run through a troop:
by my God have I leaped over a wall.

As for God, his way is perfect;
the word of the LORD is tried:
he is a buckler to all them that trust in him.

For who is God, save the LORD?
And who is a rock, save our God?

God is my strength and power:
and he maketh my way perfect.

He maketh my feet like hinds’ feet:
and setteth me upon my high places.

He teacheth my hands to war;
so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms.

Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation:
and thy gentleness hath made me great.

Thou hast enlarged my steps under me;
so that my feet did not slip.

I have pursued mine enemies, and destroyed them;
and turned not again until I had consumed them.

And I have consumed them, and wounded them,
that they could not arise:
yea, they are fallen under my feet.

For thou hast girded me with strength to battle:
them that rose up against me hast thou subdued under me.

Thou hast also given me the necks of mine enemies,
that I might destroy them that hate me.

They looked, but there was none to save;
even unto the LORD, but he answered them not.

Then did I beat them as small as the dust of the earth,

I did stamp them as the mire of the street,
and did spread them abroad.

Thou also hast delivered me from the strivings of my people,

thou hast kept me to be head of the heathen:
a people which I knew not shall serve me.

Strangers shall submit themselves unto me:
as soon as they hear, they shall be obedient unto me.

Strangers shall fade away,
and they shall be afraid out of their close places.

The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock;
and exalted be the God of the rock of my salvation.

It is God that avengeth me,
and that bringeth down the people under me,

And that bringeth me forth from mine enemies:
thou also hast lifted me up on high above them that rose up against me:
thou hast delivered me from the violent man.

Therefore I will give thanks unto thee,
O LORD, among the heathen,
and I will sing praises unto thy name.

He is the tower of salvation for his king:

And sheweth mercy to his anointed, unto David,
and to his seed for evermore” (2 Sam 22:1-51).

What David had done with Bathsheba and Uriah would appear to be unforgivable because not only were his actions not holy, but violated the 10 commandments. 

With Bathsheba he committed adultery (Ex 20:14) and Uriah he had murdered (Ex 20:13).  But God forgives all sins, other than blasphemy of the Holy Ghost (Mk 3:29)He does as long as your heart is right (1 Sam 16:7; Is 55:7-9).

Paul explains this in Rom 7:15-25 & 8:1.

1 “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 

In all they ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths

Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil” (Pro 3:5-7).

“Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches:

But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise loving-kindness, Judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD” (Jer 9:23-24).

Songs of Warriors

The Victory Odes of Pindar
The victory odes are divided into Olympians, Pythians, Nemeans, and Isthmians after the four great ‘panhellenic’ games that were open to all Greeks.

All athletics games in ancient Greece were part of a religious festival in honour of gods or heroes. The Olympic games were the oldest and most prestigious, held in Elis in the western Peloponnese in honor of Zeus.

There had been a sanctuary to Zeus there even before the traditional date for the founding of the games (776 BC). Athletics competitions provided an additional way of honoring the god, the winner owing his victory to the help of the god and in consequence thanking the god. The festival lasted five days and took place, as nowadays, every four years.

On the first day Zeus apomuios or ‘averter of flies’ was invoked to keep the sacrificial meat fly-free, and on the third day a hundred oxen were sacrificed to Zeus. The program of events developed and changed during time.

Ashurnasirpal II succeeded his father, Tukulti-Ninurta II, in 883 BC. During his reign he embarked on a vast program of expansion, first conquering the peoples to the north in Asia Minor as far as Nairi and exacting tribute from Phrygia, then invading Aram (modern Syria) conquering the Aramaeans and Neo-Hittites between the Khabur and the Euphrates Rivers. His harshness prompted a revolt that he crushed decisively in a pitched, two-day battle. According to his monument inscription, while recalling this massacre he says:

Their men young and old I took prisoners. Of some I cut off their feet and hands; of others I cut off the ears noses and lips; of the young men’s ears I made a heap; of the old men’s heads I made a minaret. I exposed their heads as a trophy in front of their city. The male children and the female children I burned in flames; the city I destroyed, and consumed with fire.

Following this victory, he advanced without opposition as far as the Mediterranean and exacted tribute from Phoenicia. On his return home, he moved his capital to the city of Kalhu (Nimrud).

The Bible attests to the fact that ancient warriors often celebrated their achievements in song.

Indeed, the first song recorded in the Bible is that of Lamech (Gen 4:23-24), a fighter who boasted of kill­ing a man who had wounded him.

Songs by or about warriors have surfaced in several varieties:

In what may be called the “victory song,” a warrior sang of his triumphs in battle. Such a song could be blatantly boastful, like Lamech’s, or could give thanks to God, as did David’s in 2 Sam 22.

This song praises God but is clearly military in orientation: “He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze” (v. 35).

There are pagan analogies for such songs; an Akkadian hymn celebrating the military campaigns of the Assyrian king Ashurnasirpal II (r. 883-859 B.C.) begins with the king claiming that he would sing in praise of his god, Enlil, but quickly moves on to a boastful account of Ashurnasirpal’s triumphs.

The Greeks some­what transformed this genre and composed songs in honor of athletes, as in the odes of Pindar (5th century B.C.), who celebrated the victors in the Olympic and other games.

A second type of military song was the lament over fallen heroes. A magnificent example is that of David over Jonathan and Saul (1:17-27).

The Greek poet Simonides (5th century B.C.) composed verses for the Greeks who died at the battle of Thermopy­lae, also commemorating the Greek victory over the Persians at Plataea.

Epic poetry, which memorializes at length the deeds of great heroes, can be considered a third genre.

Examples include the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh 1, the Ugaritic epic of Kirta and the well-known Greek Iliad and Odyssey by Homer.

The Bible, because it focuses on God and his covenant rather than on the exploits of heroic human beings, includes no epic poetry.

 

Compensation for Errors & Phoenicia

I have to agree with Joab, David was unfair, especially since Absalom was trying to kill him too.  But then again, David’s a man after 1 Your heart and if he has a heart like Yours then he couldn’t help himself but feel that way.

A woodcarving of Belial and some of his followers from Jacobus de Teramo’s book Buche Belial (1473).
Belial is a term occurring in the Hebrew Bible which later became personified as a demon in Jewish and Christian texts.

“And there happened to be there a man of Belial, whose name was Sheba, the son of Bichri, a Benjamite: and he blew a trumpet, and said, We have no part in David, neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: every man to his tents, O Israel.

So every man of Israel went up from after David, and followed Sheba the son of Bichri: but the men of Judah clave unto their king, from Jordan even to Jerusalem.

And David came to his house at Jerusalem; and the king took the ten women his concubines, whom he had left to keep the house, and put them in ward, and fed them, but went not in unto them. So they were shut up unto the day of their death, living in widowhood.

Then said the king to Amasa, Assemble me the men of Judah within three days, and be thou here present.

So Amasa went to assemble the men of Judah: but he tarried longer than the set time which he had appointed him.

And David said to Abishai, Now shall Sheba the son of Bichri do us more harm than did Absalom: take thou thy lord’s servants, and pursue after him, lest he get him fenced cities, and escape us”  (2 Sam 20:1-6).

“But Amasa took no heed to the sword that was in Joab’s hand: so he smote him therewith in the fifth rib, and shed out his bowels to the ground, and struck him not again; and he died. So Joab and Abishai his brother pursued after Sheba the son of Bichri” (2 Sam 20:9-10).

The Hill-Country of Ephraim
Mount Ephraim, or alternately Mount of Ephraim, was the historical name for the central mountainous district of Israel once occupied by the tribe of Ephraim, extending from Bethel to the plain of Jezreel.

In Joshua’s time, approximately sometime between the 18th century B.C. and the 13th century B.C., these hills were densely wooded.

They were intersected by well-watered, fertile valleys, referred to in Jer. 50:19.

Joshua was buried at Timnath-heres among the mountains of Ephraim, on the north side of the hill of Gaash (Judg. 2:9).

This region is also called the “mountains of Israel” (Josh. 11:21) and the “mountains of Samaria” (Jer. 31:5, 6: Amos 3:9).

Israel’s fourth judge and prophetess Deborah lived in this region.

Her home was called “the palm tree of Deborah”, and was between Bethel and Ramah in Benjamin.

One of Joab’s men yelled for everyone that was in favor of Joab and David to follow Joab, but most of the men stood still staring at Amasa wallowing in his blood in the middle of the highway, so he was moved into the field and covered up.  Then all the men followed.

“And when he was come near unto her, the woman said, Art thou Joab? And he answered, I am he. Then she said unto him, Hear the words of thine handmaid. And he answered, I do hear” (2 Sam 20:17).

“I am one of them that are peaceable and faithful in Israel: thou seekest to destroy a city and a mother in Israel: why wilt thou swallow up the inheritance of the Lord?

And Joab answered and said, Far be it, far be it from me, that I should swallow up or destroy.

The matter is not so: but a man of mount Ephraim, Sheba the son of Bichri by name, hath lifted up his hand against the king, even against David: deliver him only, and I will depart from the city. And the woman said unto Joab, Behold, his head shall be thrown to thee over the wall.

Then the woman went unto all the people in her wisdom. And they cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri, and cast it out to Joab. And he blew a trumpet, and they retired from the city, every man to his tent. And Joab returned to Jerusalem unto the king” (2 Sam 20:19-22).

“Then there was a famine in the days of David three years, year after year; and David inquired of the Lord. And the Lord answered, It is for Saul, and for his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites.

Gibeon was a Canaanite city north of Jerusalem that was conquered by Joshua.

Josh 10:12 and 2 Sam 21:2 describes the Gibeonites as not being Israelites, but as Amorites.

The remains of Gibeon are located on the south edge of the Palestinian village of Jib.

Archaeology

The earliest known mention of Gibeon in an extra-Biblical source is in a list of cities on the wall of the Amum temple at Karnak, celebrating the invasion of Israel by Egyptian Pharaoh Shoshenq I (945-924 B.C.).

The remains of Gibeon were excavated in six expeditions from 1956 to 1962, led by the University of Pennsylvania archaeologist James B. Pritchard.

Gibeon was founded in the Early Bronze Age, for the excavators discovered 14 EB storage jars beneath the foundations of the Iron Age wall.

Other EB remains were discovered at the top of the tel but the stratigraphy had been destroyed by British gunfire during the First World War.

It is probable that there was a defensive wall, but this has not yet been found.

Tombs cut into the rock on the east site of the hill contained EB jars and bowls, formed first by hand and then finished on a slow wheel.

The Early Bronze city was destroyed by fire, but no date has been determined for this destruction.

And the king called the Gibeonites, and said unto them; (now the Gibeonites were not of the children of Israel, but of the remnant of the Amorites; and the children of Israel had sworn unto them: and Saul sought to slay them in his zeal to the children of Israel and Judah.)

Wherefore David said unto the Gibeonites, What shall I do for you? and wherewith shall I make the atonement, that ye may bless the inheritance of the Lord?

And the Gibeonites said unto him, We will have no silver nor gold of Saul, nor of his house; neither for us shalt thou kill any man in Israel. And he said, What ye shall say, that will I do for you.

And they answered the king, The man that consumed us, and that devised against us that we should be destroyed from remaining in any of the coasts of Israel,

Let seven men of his sons be delivered unto us, and we will hang them up unto the Lord in Gibeah of Saul, whom the Lorddid choose. And the king said, I will give them.

But the king spared Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan the son of Saul, because of the Lord‘s oath that was between them, between David and Jonathan the son of Saul.

But the king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bare unto Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth; and the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul, whom she brought up for Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite:

And he delivered them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them in the hill before the Lord: and they fell all seven together, and were put to death in the days of harvest, in the first days, in the beginning of barley harvest.

Gath from East
The Philistine city of Gath was located near Israelite territory at the end of the Elah Valley, and frequently Gath figured in the biblical record.

The most famous inhabitant of Gath was Goliath, the giant who battled David in the Elah Valley, in an attempt to take territory away from the Israelites.

And Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth, and spread it for her upon the rock, from the beginning of harvest until water dropped upon them out of heaven, and suffered neither the birds of the air to rest on them by day, nor the beasts of the field by night.

And it was told David what Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, the concubine of Saul, had done.

And David went and took the bones of Saul and the bones of Jonathan his son from the men of Jabeshgilead, which had stolen them from the street of Bethshan, where the Philistines had hanged them, when the Philistines had slain Saul in Gilboa:

And he brought up from thence the bones of Saul and the bones of Jonathan his son; and they gathered the bones of them that were hanged.

And the bones of Saul and Jonathan his son buried they in the country of Benjamin in Zelah, in the sepulchre of Kish his father: and they performed all that the king commanded. And after that God was intreated for the land”  (2 Sam 21:1-14).

The Philistines again attacked Israel, and David helped fight against them but got faint.

“And Ishbi-benob, which was of the sons of the giant, the weight of whose spear weighed three hundred shekels of brass in weight, he being girded with a new sword, thought to have slain David” (2 Sam 21:16). 

But Abishai, the son of Zeruiah, killed the Philistine, and the men wouldn’t let David go and fight anymore.

Excavations
The site was identified as Gath in 1887 and excavated by Bliss and Macalister in 1899.

At the time the site was occupied by an Arab village, which was later abandoned in 1948.

Bar Ilan University is now excavating the site under the supervision of Aren Maeir.

“And it came to pass after this, that there was again a battle with the Philistines at Gob: then Sibbechai the Hushathite slew Saph, which was of the sons of the giant.

And there was again a battle in Gob with the Philistines, where Elhanan the son of Jaareoregim, a Bethlehemite, slew the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the staff of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam.

And there was yet a battle in Gath, where was a man of great stature, that had on every hand six fingers, and on every foot six toes, four and twenty in number; and he also was born to the giant.

And when he defied Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimeah the brother of David slew him.

City Moat
Recent excavations uncovered a 1.5 mile long moat that surrounded the city on three sides.

This moat dates to the 9th century B.C., and was apparently built by Hazael and his Aramean army when they were besieging the city in 811 B.C.

A brief notice of this battle is given in 2 Kgs 12:17.

These four were born to the giant in Gath, and fell by the hand of David, and by the hand of his servants” (2 Sam 21:18-22).

“1Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” (Ez 33:11).

“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet 3:9). 

Phoenicia

Phoenicia was an ancient Semitic civilization situated on the western, coastal part of the Fertile Crescent and centered on the coastline of modern Lebanon and Tartus Governorate in Syria.

All major Phoenician cities were on the coastline of the Mediterranean, some colonies reaching the Western Mediterranean.

It was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean from 1550 B.C. to 300 B.C.

The Phoenicians used the galley, a man-powered sailing vessel, and are credited with the invention of the bireme.

They were famed in Classical Greece and Rome as “traders in purple”, referring to their monopoly on the precious purple dye of the Murex snail, used, among other things, for royal clothing, and for their spread of the alphabet (or abjad), from which almost all modern phonetic alphabets are derived.

Phoenicians are widely thought to have originated from the earlier Canaanite inhabitants of the region.

Although Egyptian seafaring expeditions had already been made to Byblos to bring back “cedars of Lebanon” as early as the 3rd millennium B.C., continuous contact only occurred in the Egyptian New Empire period.

In the Amarna tablets of the 14th century BC, people from the region called themselves Kenaani or Kinaani (either the same as the Canaanites, or the Kenanites/Cainanites), although these letters predate the invasion of the Sea Peoples by over a century.

The Phoenicians were de­scendants of the people of Canaan. Phoenicia was never organized as a nation-state but consisted of a group of inde­pendent port cities along the northern sea-coast of Israel.

Phoenicia’s main centers included Arwad, Byblos, Sidon and Tyre. Relatively few Iron Age remains have been located at these sites.

Phoenician Sarcophagus at the burial grounds of Antarados, northern Lebanon, 480-450 B.C.

Origins: 2300–1200 B.C.
Phoenician sarkophagus at the burial grounds of Antarados, northern Lebanon, 480-450 B.C.

Herodotus’ account (written c. 440 BC) refers to the myths of Io and Europa.

According to the Persians best informed in history, the Phoenicians began the quarrel.

These people, who had formerly dwelt on the shores of the Erythraean Sea, having migrated to the Mediterranean and settled in the parts which they now inhabit, began at once, they say, to adventure on long voyages, freighting their vessels with the wares of Egypt and Assyria.

The Greek historian Strabo believed that the Phoenicians originated from Bahrain.

Following the socioeconomic collapse of the Late Bronze Age, the Phoenicians established themselves as the preeminent sea traders in the Mediterranean.

Their crafts­men’s need for metals and other goods led merchants to establish colonies throughout the Mediterranean, as far away as Spain and the Atlantic coast of northern Africa.

Phoeni­cian fame also spread from its lumber trade and its thriving purple dye industry. A noted legacy is the Phoenician alphabet, which the Greeks borrowed, probably during the 8th century B.C.

Solomon solicited Phoenician expertise for the construction of the temple and for the maritime gold trade.

The king of Tyre provided cedar and pine in exchange for wheat and olive oil and sent experienced sailors to assist Solomon’s fleet.

But the Phoenicians also exported their reli­gion to Israel. The Sidonian princess Jezebel, who was given in marriage to Omri’s son Ahab, used her position to promote Baal wor­ship in Israel.

Phoenician influence also penetrated the kingdom of Judah, including, among other things, the practice of child sacrifice in the Hinnom Val­ley of Jerusalem.

Excavations at Carthage in northern Africa, the most famous of the Phoenician/Punic colonies, provide grim evidence of the long­standing practice of child sacrifice (8th-2nd centuries B.C.).

Thousands of urns con­taining the charred bones of infants and chil­dren have been excavated from the ritual burial precinct of Tannit, a Phoencian goddess.

These Phoenician religious practices became a stumbling block to both Israel and Judah and a recurring theme of Israelite prophetic rebuke.

Joab Reproaches David & Egyptian And Israelite Administration

Is David going to find out that Joab killed Absalom, and if so, what is he going to do? 

Is the Biblical Account of the Israelite Conquest of Canaan Historically Reliable? By Yigael Yadin There are essentially two views of the Israelite occupation of Canaan. The first conforms in its main outlines to the Biblical view; that is, the Israelite occupation was initiated by several lightning military attacks on major Canaanite cities and was followed after some time by Israelite occupation of adjacent areas thus subdued. (The Bible also recognizes that certain Canaanite enclaves like Jerusalem held out much longer, even to David’s time.) The other view is that the occupation was initiated by peaceful Israelite infiltration of largely unoccupied hill country. Then increasing Israelite pressure led to the collapse of the main Canaanite cities. Is the Biblical Account of the Israelite Conquest of Canaan Historically Reliable?

There are essentially two views of the Israelite occupation of Canaan. The first conforms in its main outlines to the Biblical view; that is, the Israelite occupation was initiated by several lightning military attacks on major Canaanite cities and was followed after some time by Israelite occupation of adjacent areas thus subdued. (The Bible also recognizes that certain Canaanite enclaves like Jerusalem held out much longer, even to David’s time.)

The other view is that the occupation was initiated by peaceful Israelite infiltration of largely unoccupied hill country. Then increasing Israelite pressure led to the collapse of the main Canaanite cities.

The first view is associated especially with the great American archaeologist, William Foxwell Albright, who pioneered in the use of archaeological materials to elucidate the Bible. The second view is associated with scholars of the so-called German school: Albrecht Alt and his follower Martin Noth, who based their views principally on a study of the literary traditions contained in the Bible, and, more recently, Manfred Weippert who attempts to conform archaeological evidence to this interpretation of the literary traditions.

“And the victory that day was turned into mourning unto all the people: for the people heard say that day how the king was grieved for his son.

And the people gat them by stealth that day into the city, as people being ashamed steal away when they flee in battle.

But the king covered his face, and the king cried with a loud voice, O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son!

And Joab came into the house to the king, and said, Thou hast shamed this day the faces of all thy servants, which this day have saved thy life, and the lives of thy sons and of thy daughters, and the lives of thy wives, and the lives of thy concubines;

The Merneptah stele. While alternative translations exist, the majority of biblical archaeologists translate a set of hieroglyphs as “Israel”, representing the first instance of the name Israel in the historical record.

Iron Age I (1200–1000 B.C.).
The name Israel first appears in the stele of the Egyptian pharaoh Merneptah c. 1209 B.C., “Israel is laid waste and his seed is no more.”

This “Israel” was a cultural and probably political entity of the central highlands, well enough established to be perceived by the Egyptians as a possible challenge to their hegemony, but an ethnic group rather than an organised state; Archaeologist Paula McNutt says: “It is probably … during Iron Age I [that] a population began to identify itself as ‘Israelite’,” differentiating itself from its neighbors via prohibitions on intermarriage, an emphasis on family history and genealogy, and religion.

In the Late Bronze Age there were no more than about 25 villages in the highlands, but this increased to over 300 by the end of Iron I, while the settled population doubled from 20,000 to 40,000.

The villages were more numerous and larger in the north, and probably shared the highlands with pastoral nomads who left no remains.

Archaeologists and historians attempting to trace the origins of these villagers have found it impossible to identify any distinctive features that could define them as specifically Israelite – collared-rim jars and four-room houses have been identified outside the highlands and thus cannot be used to distinguish Israelite sites, and while the pottery of the highland villages is far more limited than that of lowland Canaanite sites, it develops typologically out of Canaanite pottery that came before.

Israel Finkelstein proposed that the oval or circular layout that distinguishes some of the earliest highland sites, and the notable absence of pig bones from hill sites, could be taken as a marker of ethnicity, but others have cautioned that these can be a “common-sense” adaptation to highland life and not necessarily revelatory of origins.

Other Aramaean sites also demonstrate a contemporary absence of pig remains at that time, unlike earlier Canaanite and later Philistine excavations.

In that thou lovest thine enemies, and hatest thy friends. For thou hast declared this day, that thou regardest neither princes nor servants: for this day I perceive, that if Absalom had lived, and all we had died this day, then it had pleased thee well.

Now therefore arise, go forth, and speak comfortably unto thy servants: for I swear by the Lord, if thou go not forth, there will not tarry one with thee this night: and that will be worse unto thee than all the evil that befell thee from thy youth until now.

Then the king arose, and sat in the gate. And they told unto all the people, saying, Behold, the king doth sit in the gate. And all the people came before the king: for Israel had fled every man to his tent” (2 Sam 19:2-8).

The Israelites that were not distressed and they wanted David to come back so he returned.

“For thy servant doth know that I have sinned: therefore, behold, I am come the first this day of all the house of Joseph to go down to meet my lord the king.

But Abishai the son of Zeruiah answered and said, Shall not Shimei be put to death for this, because he cursed the Lord‘s anointed?

And David said, What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah, that ye should this day be adversaries unto me? shall there any man be put to death this day in Israel? for do not I know that I am this day king over Israel?

Therefore the king said unto Shimei, Thou shalt not die. And the king sware unto him.

And Mephibosheth the son of Saul came down to meet the king, and had neither dressed his feet, nor trimmed his beard, nor washed his clothes, from the day the king departed until the day he came again in peace.

And it came to pass, when he was come to Jerusalem to meet the king, that the king said unto him, Wherefore wentest not thou with me, Mephibosheth?

And he answered, My lord, O king, my servant deceived me: for thy servant said, I will saddle me an ass, that I may ride thereon, and go to the king; because thy servant is lame.

And he hath slandered thy servant unto my lord the king; but my lord the king is as an angel of God: do therefore what is good in thine eyes.

For all of my father’s house were but dead men before my lord the king: yet didst thou set thy servant among them that did eat at thine own table. What right therefore have I yet to cry any more unto the king?

And the king said unto him, Why speakest thou any more of thy matters? I have said, Thou and Ziba divide the land.

And Mephibosheth said unto the king, Yea, let him take all, forasmuch as my lord the king is come again in peace unto his own house” (2 Sam 19:20-30).

Barzillai the Gileadite was 80 years old when he came over the Jordan to see David.  He had taken care of David many years ago at Mahanaim so David invited him to come and live with him. 

Mystery of Alexandria’s largest coffin: Archaeologists unearth 8.6-foot-long sarcophagus buried in Egypt 2,000 years ago beside a massive stone head.

Experts say black granite sarcophagus found in Alexandria measures 8.6 ft long. It was buried 5m deep during Ptolemaic period, which lasted from 332-30 BCE. Archaeologists also found alabaster head, likely representing the tomb’s owner.

Egyptian archaeologists have discovered what’s thought to be the largest granite sarcophagus ever found in Alexandria, measuring nearly nine feet long. The massive stone casket was buried more than 16 feet beneath the surface alongside a huge alabaster head – likely belonging to the man who owned the tomb.

Experts say the ancient coffin has remained untouched since its burial thousands of years ago during the Ptolemaic period. According to the archaeologists who led the dig, the black granite sarcophagus stands at 185 centimeters tall (6 feet), 265cm long (8.6 ft), and 165 cm wide (5.4 ft). It’s said to be the largest ever found in Alexandria. According to the archaeologists who led the dig, the black granite sarcophagus stands at 185 centimeters tall (6 feet), 265cm long (8.6 ft), and 165 cm wide (5.4 ft). It’s said to be the largest ever found in Alexandria.

Researchers working under the Supreme Council of Antiquities discovered the ancient tomb during an excavation in the Sidi Gaber district of Alexandria.

The team was inspecting a resident’s land ahead of digs planned for the foundation of his building at Al-Karmili Street when they stumbled upon the remarkable Ptolemaic burial 5 meters deep.

The Ptolemaic period lasted roughly 300 years, from 332-30 BCE, making this particular site more than 2,000 years old.

Barzillai declined theinvitation because he knew he was soon to die of old age and he preferred to die in his home town.  But he wanted David to let Chimham go to his kingdom. So Barzillai went home and David, with Chimham, and all his men went to Gilgal.

“And, behold, all the men of Israel came to the king, and said unto the king, Why have our brethren the men of Judah stolen thee away, and have brought the king, and his household, and all David’s men with him, over Jordan?

And all the men of Judah answered the men of Israel, Because the king is near of kin to us: wherefore then be ye angry for this matter? have we eaten at all of the king’s cost? or hath he given us any gift?

And the men of Israel answered the men of Judah, and said, We have ten parts in the king, and we have also more right in David than ye: why then did ye despise us, that our advice should not be first had in bringing back our king? And the words of the men of Judah were fiercer than the words of the men of Israel” (2 Sam 19:41-43).

Egyptian and Israelite
Administration

Archaeological investigations of ancient Israelite sites have shown that the Israelites had adopted an Egyptian script, hieratic, for recording numbers and measures.

For example, several ostraca found at Arad in the Judean Negev employed hier­atic symbols for numerals in listing commodi­ties.

This demonstrates that at least in some respects Egyptian administrative models influ­enced Israel; scholars continue to look for other parallels.

One of the more widely discussed corre­spondences involves Solomon’s division of Israel into 12 administrative districts.

The governors of these districts

“supplied provisions for the king and the royal household. Each one had to provide supplies for one month in the year”.

According to a recently discovered stele, Solomon’s contemporary, Sheshonk I of Egypt’s Twenty-first Dynasty, instituted a similar policy for provisioning the temple of Arsaphes in Herakleopolis.

He divided the nome (administrative district) of Herak­ leopolis into 12 sections, with each one responsible for supporting the temple for one month per year.

As with 1 Kgs 4, the Egyp­tian stele defines each of the 12 districts, as well as designating their respective adminis­trators.

It is an open question whether the Egyptian model influenced the Israelite ver­sion or the other way areupd, or whether the parallel is coincidental.

One thing is clear, however: The Israelites did not live in isolation; they both knew and were influenced by Egyptian (and other) models.

The Advice of Hushai & The Cylinders of Gudea

It seem like Abasolom is going to take over and be the next king, right? 

King Gudea of Lagash
This remarkable man came to the patesiship in the most troubled period of the history of Sumer.

His date is somewhat uncertain, but he lived in all probability under the rule of the kings of Gutium, who, however, are not mentioned in the archives of his reign.

From the style of the writing and the names of the months it would seem that he reigned shortly after the period of Akkad.

But although the numerous monumental inscriptions of Gudea are written in old classical Sumerian, many of the inhabitants of Lagash have Semitic names, and Semitic phrases appear in the temple records.

The majority of the people, the priesthood and the ruling classes are still Sumerian, but their decline before the aggressive Semite of Akkad is now apparent, and the population of Lagash has become cosmopolitan.

Placed by circumstances in a position where his activity was confined to literature and architecture, Gudea exercised a profound influence upon the religion of Sumer.

Not as a temporal ruler, but as the apostle of classical literature and the mysteries of the gods, did he obtain posthumous deification.

In the days of the Sumerian revival, when the empire of Ur was recognized throughout Western Asia, he was one of the rulers of the past who was remembered as a divine man.

A record from Umma in the time of Ibi-Sin mentions offerings to Gudea, where he is mentioned with the deified kings of Ur.

The divine Gudea, patesi, received libations of wine and meal at the feast of the new moon at Lagash, and it is probable that his cult was recognized in all the Sumerian cities and that his was supposed to reside in one of the stars.

“Moreover Ahithophel said unto Absalom, Let me now choose out twelve thousand men, and I will arise and pursue after David this night:

And I will come upon him while he is weary and weak handed, and will make him afraid: and all the people that are with him shall flee; and I will smite the king only:

And I will bring back all the people unto thee: the man whom thou seekest is as if all returned: so all the people shall be in peace.

And the saying pleased Absalom well, and all the elders of Israel.

Then said Absalom, Call now Hushai the Archite also, and let us hear likewise what he saith.

And when Hushai was come to Absalom, Absalom spake unto him, saying, Ahithophel hath spoken after this manner: shall we do after his saying? if not; speak thou.

And Hushai said unto Absalom, The counsel that Ahithophel hath given is not good at this time.

For, said Hushai, thou knowest thy father and his men, that they be mighty men, and they be chafed in their minds, as a bear robbed of her whelps in the field: and thy father is a man of war, and will not lodge with the people.

Behold, he is hid now in some pit, or in some other place: and it will come to pass, when some of them be overthrown at the first, that whosoever heareth it will say, There is a slaughter among the people that follow Absalom.

And he also that is valiant, whose heart is as the heart of a lion, shall utterly melt: for all Israel knoweth that thy father is a mighty man, and they which be with him are valiant men.

Therefore I counsel that all Israel be generally gathered unto thee, from Dan even to Beersheba, as the sand that is by the sea for multitude; and that thou go to battle in thine own person.

Ninurta with his thunderbolts pursues Anzû stealing the Tablet of Destinies from Enlil’s sanctuary (Austen Henry Layard Monuments of Nineveh, 2nd Series, 1853).

The bird-god Zu decided to steal the Tablet of Destiny from the great god Enlil. With the stolen treasure he escaped to a shelter on a mountain top in Arabia.

He knew that the wearer of this tablet had the full control of the universe and fates of all. The Tablet of Destiny (or in Sumerian: ‘me’) was a sort of divine template.

So shall we come upon him in some place where he shall be found, and we will light upon him as the dew falleth on the ground: and of him and of all the men that are with him there shall not be left so much as one.

Moreover, if he be gotten into a city, then shall all Israel bring ropes to that city, and we will draw it into the river, until there be not one small stone found there” (2 Sam 17:1-13).

All the people agreed with Hushai, thinking that God had appointed Ahithophel to bring evil upon Absalom. 

Then Hushai told the priests, Zadok and Abiathar, to go and tell David that he shouldn’t stay in the plains of the wilderness that night because the people may come and kill them.

Jonathan and Ahimaaz stayed by En-rogel so they wouldn’t be seen, but they had been seen and told to Absalom.  Absalom’s servants went to a woman and asked where Jonathan and Ahimaaz were and she said they had gone over a brook, so they went to look but couldn’t find them so they returned to Jerusalem.

In the morning David and his men passed over the Jordan.

When Ahithophel saw that his counsel didn’t follow him, he went home, put everything in order, and hanged himself.

“Then David came to Mahanaim. And Absalom passed over Jordan, he and all the men of Israel with him.

And Absalom made Amasa captain of the host instead of Joab: which Amasa was a man’s son, whose name was Ithra an Israelite, that went in to Abigail the daughter of Nahash, sister to Zeruiah Joab’s mother.

So Israel and Absalom pitched in the land of Gilead.

And it came to pass, when David was come to Mahanaim, that Shobi the son of Nahash of Rabbah of the children of Ammon, and Machir the son of Ammiel of Lodebar, and Barzillai the Gileadite of Rogelim,

Brought beds, and basons, and earthen vessels, and wheat, and barley, and flour, and parched corn, and beans, and lentiles, and parched pulse,

Bull head, probably affixed to the sound-chest of a lyre.

Copper, mother-of-pearl and lapis lazuli, found in Telloh, ancient Girsu.

And honey, and butter, and sheep, and cheese of kine, for David, and for the people that were with him, to eat: for they said, The people is hungry, and weary, and thirsty, in the wilderness” (2 Sam 17:24-29).

David numbered his people, putting captains of thousands and captains of hundred over them.  He then divided them so a third was under Joab, another third under Abishai, Joab’s brother, and a third under Ittai. 

He told them that he too would fight, but the people begged him not to because his life was to valuable so he stayed in hiding.

“And the king commanded Joab and Abishai and Ittai, saying, Deal gently for my sake with the young man, even with Absalom. And all the people heard when the king gave all the captains charge concerning Absalom” (2 Sam 18:5).

So David’s men went out into the field against Israel, into the woods of Ephraim, and David’s men killed 28,000 Israelites.

Clay plans of a six-room building, a sanctuary or a private house.

From Telloh, ancient Girsu.

“For the battle was there scattered over the face of all the country: and the wood devoured more people that day than the sword devoured.

And Absalom met the servants of David. And Absalom rode upon a mule, and the mule went under the thick boughs of a great oak, and his head caught hold of the oak, and he was taken up between the heaven and the earth; and the mule that was under him went away.

And a certain man saw it, and told Joab, and said, Behold, I saw Absalom hanged in an oak.

And Joab said unto the man that told him, And, behold, thou sawest him, and why didst thou not smite him there to the ground? and I would have given thee ten shekels of silver, and a girdle.

Bau, (Sumerian), also called Nininsina, Akkadian Gula or Ninkarrak, in Mesopotamian religion, city goddess of Urukug in the Lagash region of Sumer and, under the name Nininsina, the Queen of Isin, city goddess of Isin, south of Nippur. In Nippur she was called Ninnibru, Queen of Nippur.

Bau seems originally to have been goddess of the dog; as Nininsina she was long represented with a dog’s head, and the dog was her emblem. Perhaps because the licking of sores by dogs was supposed to have curative value, she became a goddess of healing. She was a daughter of An, king of the gods, and the wife of Pabilsag, a rain god who was also called Ninurta or Ningirsu.

And the man said unto Joab, Though I should receive a thousand shekels of silver in mine hand, yet would I not put forth mine hand against the king’s son: for in our hearing the king charged thee and Abishai and Ittai, saying, Beware that none touch the young man Absalom.

Otherwise I should have wrought falsehood against mine own life: for there is no matter hid from the king, and thou thyself wouldest have set thyself against me.

Then said Joab, I may not tarry thus with thee. And he took three darts in his hand, and thrust them through the heart of Absalom, while he was yet alive in the midst of the oak.

And ten young men that bare Joab’s armour compassed about and smote Absalom, and slew him.

First Dynasty of Lagash
This dynasty is dated to the 25th century B.C.

En-hegal is recorded as the first known ruler of Lagash, being tributary to Uruk.

His successor Lugal-sha-engur was similarly tributary to Mesilim.

Following the hegemony of Mesannepada of Ur,

Ur-Nanshe succeeded Lugal-sha-engur as the new high priest of Lagash and achieved independence, making himself king.

He defeated Ur and captured the king of Umma, Pabilgaltuk.

In the ruins of a building attached by him to the temple of Ningirsu, terracotta bas reliefs of the king and his sons have been found, as well as onyx plates and lions’ heads in onyx reminiscent of Egyptian work.

One inscription states that ships of Dilmun (Bahrain) brought him wood as tribute from foreign lands.

He was succeeded by his son Akurgal.

And Joab blew the trumpet, and the people returned from pursuing after Israel: for Joab held back the people.

And they took Absalom, and cast him into a great pit in the wood, and laid a very great heap of stones upon him: and all Israel fled every one to his tent” (2 Sam 18:8-17).

Ahimaaz wanted to run and bear the king tidings for the victory, but Joab said not today since his son is dead.  Joab then sent Cushi, one of the runners, to inform David of the win.  But Ahimaaz also ran.

“And Ahimaaz called, and said unto the king, All is well. And he fell down to the earth upon his face before the king, and said, Blessed be the Lord thy God, which hath delivered up the men that lifted up their hand against my lord the king.

And the king said, Is the young man Absalom safe? And Ahimaaz answered, When Joab sent the king’s servant, and me thy servant, I saw a great tumult, but I knew not what it was.

And the king said unto him, Turn aside, and stand here. And he turned aside, and stood still.

Eannatum
Eannatum, grandson of Ur-Nanshe, made himself master of the whole of the district of Sumer, together with the cities of Uruk (ruled by Enshakushana), Ur, Nippur, Akshak, and Larsa.

He also annexed the kingdom of Kish; however, it recovered its independence after his death.

Umma was made tributary – a certain amount of grain being levied upon each person in it, that had to be paid into the treasury of the goddess Nina and the god Ningirsu.

And, behold, Cushi came; and Cushi said, Tidings, my lord the king: for the Lord hath avenged thee this day of all them that rose up against thee.

And the king said unto Cushi, Is the young man Absalom safe? And Cushi answered, The enemies of my lord the king, and all that rise against thee to do thee hurt, be as that young man is.

And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!”  (2 Sam 18:28-33).

The Cylinders of Gudea

Two large, inscribed clay cylinders were discovered at the end of the 19th century.

After their broken pieces had been meticulously reassembled, the cylinders revealed a lengthy Sumerian composition memorizing the building of a new Gudea (r.c. 2112-2095 B.C. or shortly before).

The cylinders claim that the deity Nsingirsu appeared to Gudea in a dream, commanding  him to build his new temple, the Enunnu.

Gudea cylinder close up showing cuneiform.
The cylinders were found in a drain by Ernest de Sarzec under the Eninnu temple complex at Telloh, the ancient ruins of the Sumerian “holy city” of Girsu, during the first season of excavations in 1877.

They were found next to a building known as the Agaren, where a brick pillar was found containing an inscription describing its construction by Gudea within Eninnu during the Second Dynasty of Lagash.

The Agaren was described on the pillar as a place of judgement, or mercy seat, and it is thought that the cylinders were either kept there or elsewhere in the Eninnu.

They are thought to have fallen into the drain during the destruction of Girsu generations later.

Gudea prayed and slept in the temple already existing on the site, waiting for a second dream; in it Ningirsu revealed the new temple’s plan.

The cylinders provide detailed information about the preparation and purification of the temple area and specifics and conscripting workers, the acquisition of building materials and the laying of the foundation.

Two cylinders telling of the construction of the temple of Ninurta (Ningursu), Girsu. 2125 B.C. Terra cotta.
The Gudea cylinders are a pair of terracotta cylinders dating to circa 2125 B.C., on which is written in cuneiform a Sumerian myth called the Building of Ningursu’s temple.

The cylinders were made by Gudea, the ruler of Lagash, and were found in 1877 during excavations at Telloh (ancient Girsu), Iraq and are now displayed in the Louvre in Paris, France.

They are the largest cuneiform cylinders yet discovered and contain the longest known text written in the Sumerian language.

Next, they described the building process, decorations and furnishings.

Gudea then installed the statues of Ningirsu and his consort, Baba, offered dedicatory prayers and hosted a seven-day banquet.

Upon completion of the project, Gudea recorded, he was blessed and promised long life by his personal gods.

It has been suggested that the account of Solomon’s construction of the Jerusalem temple follows this same general outline.

Since divine sanction for Solomon’s temple building had been given to his father, David, Solomon declared his intention to build Yahweh’s temple in fulfillment of the divine command.

This is followed by a description of the arrangements between Hiram of Tyre and Solomon, which provided for Hiram to contribute cedars and pine for the building project, as well as for Solomon’s levy for laborers and the quarrying of stone for the foundation.

The details of the construction process, including the layout and dimensions of the individual rooms, are included , as are directives regarding the furnishings.

The “Pillar of Gudea”, reconstructed with ancient bricks and modern copies -consisting of four round columns placed side by side.

The inscription mentions a cedarwood portico, court of justice of Ningirsu.

Found in the south-west of the temple of Ningirsu in Girsu.

Just as Gudea installed the statues of his deities to symbolize their presence in the temple, Solomon brought the Ark of the Covenant, which represented God’s footstool  into the temple in Jerusalem.

He then offered his prayer of dedication and hostel a seven-day feast.

Finally, the Lord appeared to the king to bless him and promise him an everlasting throne over Israel, provided Solomon would continue to follow his commands.

That the account of Solomon’s temple building follows the same structure need not surprise or alarm the reader.

The inspired writers worked within familiar cultural and literary structures to faithfully transmit the history of Israel and the Word of God.

Outbreak of Absalom’s Rebellion & Ambitious Princes Among the Hittites

I think Absalom has something up his sleeve, does he?

Yazılıkaya (inscribed rock) was a sanctuary of Hattusa, the capital city of the Hittite Empire, today in the Çorum Province, Turkey.

This was a holy site for the Hittites, located within walking distance of the gates of the city of Hattusa.

—–

Piyusti or Piyušti was a king of Hattusa during the 17th century B.C.

He is mentioned in the Anitta text as being defeated by Anitta on at least two occasions.

Anitta and Piyusti

In the second encounter, Piyusti and his auxiliary troops were defeated at the town of Šalampa.

Later, Anitta was able to storm the city of Hattusa at night after its defenders were weakened by famine.

Anitta utterly destroyed and cursed the Hatti capital.

The later Hittite kings had to completely rebuild the city.

“And it came to pass after this, that Absalom prepared him chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him.

And Absalom rose up early, and stood beside the way of the gate: and it was so, that when any man that had a controversy came to the king for judgment, then Absalom called unto him, and said, Of what city art thou? And he said, Thy servant is of one of the tribes of Israel.

And Absalom said unto him, See, thy matters are good and right; but there is no man deputed of the king to hear thee.

Absalom said moreover, Oh that I were made judge in the land, that every man which hath any suit or cause might come unto me, and I would do him justice!

Termessos was a Pisidian city built at an altitude of more than 1000 meters at the south-west side of the mountain Solymos in the Taurus Mountains (modern-day Antalya province, Turkey).

It lies 30 kilometres to the north-west of Antalya.

It was founded on a natural platform on top of Güllük Dağı, soaring to a height of 1,665 meters from among the surrounding travertine mountains of Antalya, which average only 200 metres above sea level.
—–
Mursili I was a king of the Hittites ca. 1556–1526 B.C., and was likely a grandson of his predecessor, Hattusili I.

His sister was Ḫarapšili and his wife was queen Kali.

Mursili is credited with the conquest of the kingdom of Yamhad and its capital, Aleppo, in northern Syria. Ca. 1531 BC, Mursili led an unprecedented march of 2000 km south into the heart of Mesopotamia where he sacked the city of Babylon, bringing an end to the Amorite dynasty of Hammurabi.

This raid did not result in any Hittite control over Babylonia, but did result in the emergence of the Kassites as the rulers there.

And it was so, that when any man came nigh to him to do him obeisance, he put forth his hand, and took him, and kissed him.

And on this manner did Absalom to all Israel that came to the king for judgment: so Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.

And it came to pass after forty years, that Absalom said unto the king, I pray thee, let me go and pay my vow, which I have vowed unto the Lord, in Hebron.

For thy servant vowed a vow while I abode at Geshur in Syria, saying, If the Lord shall bring me again indeed to Jerusalem, then I will serve the Lord.

And the king said unto him, Go in peace. So he arose, and went to Hebron.

But Absalom sent spies throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, As soon as ye hear the sound of the trumpet, then ye shall say, Absalom reigneth in Hebron”  (2 Sam 15:1-10). 

Absalom took 200 men out of Jerusalem with him and they had no idea what he was doing.  Absalom then sent for David’s counselor, Ahithophel, while he was offering sacrifices. 

The amount of people that Abasolom managed to trick to fall into his conspiracy continued to grow.

 “And one told David, saying, Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom. And David said, OLord, I pray thee, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness.

And it came to pass, that when David was come to the top of the mount, where he worshipped God, behold, Hushai the Archite came to meet him with his coat rent, and earth upon his head:

Unto whom David said, If thou passest on with me, then thou shalt be a burden unto me:

The Alexander Sarcophagus is a late 4th century B.C.

Hellenistic stone sarcophagus adorned with bas-relief carvings of Alexander the Great.

The work is remarkably well preserved and has been celebrated for its high aesthetic achievement.

It is considered the outstanding holding of the Istanbul Archaeology Museum.

—–

Hattusili I was a king of the Hittite Old Kingdom.

He reigned ca. 1586–1556 B.C.

He used the title of Labarna at the beginning of his reign.

It is uncertain whether he is the second king so identified, making him Labarna II, or whether he is identical to Labarna I, treated as his predecessor in Hittite chronologies.

During his reign, he moved the capital from Neša (Kaneš, near modern Kültepe) to Ḫattuša (near modern Boghazkoy), taking the throne name of Ḫattušili to mark the occasion.

He is the earliest Hittite ruler for whom contemporary records have been found. In addition to “King of Ḫattuša”, he took the title “Man of Kuššara”, a reference to the prehistoric capital and home of the Hittites, before they had occupied Neša.

A cuneiform tablet found in 1957 written in both the Hittite and the Akkadian language provides details of six years of his reign.

In it, he claims to have extended Hittite domain to the sea, and in the second year, to have subdued Alalakh and other cities in Syria.

In the third year, he campaigned against Arzawa in western Anatolia, then returned to Syria to spend the next three years retaking his former conquests from the Hurrians, who had occupied them in his absence.

But if thou return to the city, and say unto Absalom, I will be thy servant, O king; as I have been thy father’s servant hitherto, so will I now also be thy servant: then mayest thou for me defeat the counsel of Ahithophel.

And hast thou not there with thee Zadok and Abiathar the priests? therefore it shall be, that what thing soever thou shalt hear out of the king’s house, thou shalt tell it to Zadok and Abiathar the priests.

Behold, they have there with them their two sons, Ahimaaz Zadok’s son, and Jonathan Abiathar’s son; and by them ye shall send unto me every thing that ye can hear.

So Hushai David’s friend came into the city, and Absalom came into Jerusalem” (2 Sam 15:31-37).

And when David was a little past the top of the hill, behold, Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth met him, with a couple of asses saddled, and upon them two hundred loaves of bread, and an hundred bunches of raisins, and an hundred of summer fruits, and a bottle of wine.

Medusa, in Greek mythology was a monster, a Gorgon, generally described as having the face of a hideous human female with living venomous snakes in place of hair.

Gazing directly into her eyes would turn onlookers to stone.

Most sources describe her as the daughter of Phorcys and Ceto, though the author Hyginus interposes a generation and gives Medusa another chthonic pair as parents.

Medusa was beheaded by the hero Perseus, who thereafter used her head as a weapon until he gave it to the goddess Athena to place on her shield.

In classical antiquity the image of the head of Medusa appeared in the evil-averting device known as the Gorgoneion.

—–

Lydia arose as a Neo-Hittite kingdom following the collapse of the Hittite Empire in the twelfth century B.C.

According to Greek sources, the original name of the Lydian kingdom was Maionia.

Herodotus relates that that the “Maiones” were renamed Lydians after their king, Lydus, son of Attis, in the mythical epoch that preceded the rise of the Heracleid dynasty.

And the king said unto Ziba, What meanest thou by these? And Ziba said, The asses be for the king’s household to ride on; and the bread and summer fruit for the young men to eat; and the wine, that such as be faint in the wilderness may drink.

And the king said, And where is thy master’s son? And Ziba said unto the king, Behold, he abideth at Jerusalem: for he said, To day shall the house of Israel restore me the kingdom of my father.

Then said the king to Ziba, Behold, thine are all that pertained unto Mephibosheth. And Ziba said, I humbly beseech thee that I may find grace in thy sight, my lord, O king”(2 Sam 16:1-4).

When David came to Bahurim, Shimei came out of Saul’s house cursing and throwing rocks at David and everyone with him.

“And thus said Shimei when he cursed, Come out, come out, thou bloody man, and thou man of Belial:

The Lord hath returned upon thee all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose stead thou hast reigned; and the Lord hath delivered the kingdom into the hand of Absalom thy son: and, behold, thou art taken in thy mischief, because thou art a bloody man.

Then said Abishai the son of Zeruiah unto the king, Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? let me go over, I pray thee, and take off his head.

And the king said, What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah? so let him curse, because theLord hath said unto him, Curse David. Who shall then say, Wherefore hast thou done so?”  (2 Sam 16:7-10).

“David then told Abishai and his men that Abasolom was out to kill him, but for them to leave him alone because God had bidden him.  And as David and his men went by the way, Shimei continued to curse and throw stones.

And Absalom, and all the people the men of Israel, came to Jerusalem, and Ahithophel with him.

And it came to pass, when Hushai the Archite, David’s friend, was come unto Absalom, that Hushai said unto Absalom, God save the king, God save the king.

Myra is an ancient Greek town in Lycia, where the small town of Kale (Demre) is situated today in present day Antalya Province of Turkey.

It was located on the river Myros (Demre Çay), in the fertile alluvial plain between Alaca Dağ, the Massikytos range and the Aegean Sea.

Historical Evidence
Although some scholars equate Myra with the town Mira in Arzawa, there is no proof for the connection.

There is no substantiated written reference for Myra before it was listed as a member of the Lycian alliance (168 B.C.– 43 A.D.); according to Strabo (14:665) it was one of the largest towns of the alliance.

The Greek citizens worshiped Artemis Eleutheria, who was the protective goddess of the town.

Zeus, Athena and Tyche were venerated as well.

The ruins of the Lycian and Roman town are mostly covered by alluvial silts.

The Acropolis on the Demre-plateau, the Roman theatre and the Roman baths (eski hamam) have been partly excavated.

The semi-circular theater was destroyed in an earthquake in 141, but rebuilt afterwards.

Telipinu was a king of the Hittites ca. 1460 B.C.

At the beginning of his reign, the Hittite Empire had contracted to its core territories, having long since lost all of its conquests, made in the former era under Hattusili I and Mursili I – to Arzawa in the West, Mitanni in the East, the Kaskians in the North, and Kizzuwatna in the South.

Telipinu was a son-in-law of Ammuna and brother-in-law of Huzziya I as a husband of Ammuna’s daughter Ištapariya.

During Telipinu’s reign, Huzziya and his five brothers were killed.

He was able to recover a little ground from the Hurrians of Mitanni, by forming an alliance with the Hurrians of Kizzuwatna; however, with the end of his reign, the Hittite Empire enters a temporary “Dark Ages”, the Middle Kingdom, lasting around 70 years, when records become too scanty to draw many conclusions.

Telepinu is perhaps most famous for drawing up the Edict of Telepinu which dictated the laws of succession for the Hittite throne.

It was designed to stop all the royal murders which had taken place in the previous decades, which had destablised the empire and reduced the empire to only its heartland.

And Absalom said to Hushai, Is this thy kindness to thy friend? why wentest thou not with thy friend?

And Hushai said unto Absalom, Nay; but whom the Lord, and this people, and all the men of Israel, choose, his will I be, and with him will I abide.

And again, whom should I serve? should I not serve in the presence of his son? as I have served in thy father’s presence, so will I be in thy presence.

Then said Absalom to Ahithophel, Give counsel among you what we shall do.

And Ahithophel said unto Absalom, Go in unto thy father’s concubines, which he hath left to keep the house; and all Israel shall hear that thou art abhorred of thy father: then shall the hands of all that are with thee be strong.

So they spread Absalom a tent upon the top of the house; and Absalom went in unto his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel.

And the counsel of Ahithophel, which he counselled in those days, was as if a man had enquired at the oracle of God: so was all the counsel of Ahithophel both with David and with Absalom”  (2 Sam 16:15-23).

Ambitious Princes
Among the Hittites

Hattuşaş was the capital of the Hittite empire from 2000 to 1180 B.C.

The site was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1986.

The Kralkapi or King’s Gate is the best-preserved city gate at Hattusas.

There are two towers on two sides that have both an inner and outer portal.

You will find a model of the relief of the Hittite God of War, the original of which is in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara.

King Pithana was a Hittite Bronze Age king of the Anatolian city Kussara.

Pithana reigned during the 17th century B.C.

During his reign he conquered the city of Kanesh, heart of the Assyrian trading colonies network in Anatolia, and core of the Hittite-speaking territories.

He was succeeded by his son, Anitta, who is best known for conquering Hattusa, the future Hittite capital, and memorializing his achievement using the Hittite language.

Expunging the bloodline of one’s opponent was common practice in ancient monarchies.

The decree of the Hittite King Telipinu describes the political upheaval that often ensued as a throne changed hands.

This document provides a historical account of the succession of Hittite kings from the 17th-14th centuries B.C.

At the outset succession was orderly, and the land prospered. Soon, however, the princes’ servants (often family members) in a lust for power began to conspire against their lords.

A series of palace intrigues ensued, during which a relative of the king would rise up, kill his master and assume control.

He would exterminate all of descendants so that no threat to his rule remained.

Eventually one of his family members, sometimes his own son, would rebel against him, and a new cycle of regicide would begin.

Telipinu was the first Hittite king to attempt to end such bloodshed.

Having exiled the monarch who had tried to elimi­nate him, Telipinu himself became king, but he treated the family of his predecessor kindly.

He then established rules of succes­sion and proclaimed that future kings were to unite the royal family rather than to splin­ter it by murderous intent.

Finally, he decreed that anyone conspiring to kill members of the royal family would be executed, even if that individual were a prince himself.

The problem of palace intrigues and dynastic succession had its parallels in Israelite society.

Like Telipinu, the Biblical David demonstrated that he would not con­done the murder of his rival’s family.

When a young man claimed to have slain King Saul and two others reported that they had killed Saul’s son, David had them executed for their purported treacherous deeds.

He went on to seek out Saul’s living relatives for the purpose of showing them kindness, to the extent of pro­viding personal care and protection to Saul’s lame grandson, Mephibosheth.

David’s own family, however, was not im­mune from the pattern of the surrounding cultures.

His son Absalom attempted to usurp the throne and to kill his father in battled When Absalom himself was killed; David grieved so profoundly that the victory cele­bration was overshadowed by his mourning.

The Recall of Absalom & Warfare In the Ancient World

A lot of killing and rape going on, life hasn’t changed.  History and life today proves that the scripture is true: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23). 

View of Tekoa from Herodion.
Tekoa (Hebrew: תְּקוֹעַ‬) is an Israeli settlement organized as a community settlement in the West Bank, located 20 km northeast of Hebron, 16 km south of Jerusalem and in the immediate vicinity of the Palestinian village of Tuqu’. It falls under the jurisdiction of Gush Etzion Regional Council. In 2017 it had a population of 3,750. The international community considers Israeli settlements in the West Bank illegal under international law, but the Israeli government disputes this. Founding Tekoa was established in 1975 as a Nahal outpost in the vicinity of the Arab village of Tuqu’. In 1977 it was handed over to civilian residents. It is named after the hometown of the Biblical prophet Amos, whereupon the neighbouring settlement of Nokdim indicates his profession (shepherd)) (Amos 1:1). Tekoa is build on land confiscated from the Palestinian citizens of Tuqu’. The town is located 5 miles south of Bethlehem at the foot of Herodion (“Herod’s Palace”).

“Now Joab the son of Zeruiah perceived that the king’s heart was toward Absalom.

And Joab sent to Tekoah, and fetched thence a wise woman, and said unto her, I pray thee, feign thyself to be a mourner, and put on now mourning apparel, and anoint not thyself with oil, but be as a woman that had a long time mourned for the dead:

And come to the king, and speak on this manner unto him. So Joab put the words in her mouth”  (2 Sam 14:1-3).

The woman told David that her husband was dead and she only had two sons, but one of them killed the other.  The rest of the family wanted to kill the brother that killed the other one. 

So David told her to bring the son to him and he would make sure that no one would hurt him.  And she rambled on about how great David was.

“And the king said, Is not the hand of Joab with thee in all this? And the woman answered and said, As thy soul liveth, my lord the king, none can turn to the right hand or to the left from ought that my lord the king hath spoken: for thy servant Joab, he bade me, and he put all these words in the mouth of thine handmaid:

Herodium or Herodion is a truncated cone-shaped hill, located 12 km (7.5 mi) south of Jerusalem and 5 km (3.1 mi) southeast of Bethlehem, in the Judean desert (the West Bank).

Herod the Great built a fortress, a palace, and a small town in Herodium, between 23 and 15 B.C., and is believed to have been buried there.

Herodium is 758 meters (2,487 ft) above sea level,

the highest peak in the Judean desert.

To fetch about this form of speech hath thy servant Joab done this thing: and my lord is wise, according to the wisdom of an angel of God, to know all things that are in the earth.

And the king said unto Joab, Behold now, I have done this thing: go therefore, bring the young man Absalom again (2 Sam 14:19-21).

So Joab arose and went to Geshur, and brought Absalom to Jerusalem.

And the king said, Let him turn to his own house, and let him not see my face. So Absalom returned to his own house, and saw not the king’s face.

But in all Israel there was none to be so much praised as Absalom for his beauty: from the sole of his foot even to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him” (2 Sam 14:23-25).

Absalom lived in Jerusalem for two years and he had three sons and one daughter, who he named after his sister that he had raped.  Absalom had his servants get Joab, but two different times he refused to come.

“Therefore he said unto his servants, See, Joab’s field is near mine, and he hath barley there; go and set it on fire. And Absalom’s servants set the field on fire.

Then Joab arose, and came to Absalom unto his house, and said unto him, Wherefore have thy servants set my field on fire?

A standing stone and portion of the remains of the ancient city gate of the capital city of Geshur at Bethsaida.
For nearly two thousand years, the ancient biblical city of Bethsaida on the shores of the Sea of Galilee had been lost to humanity and was assumed by many to be a myth.

Here, according to the New Testament of the Bible, the Apostles of Jesus, Peter, Andrew, and Phillip, were born.

Here too, Jesus performed some of his miracles, including healing of a blind man, the feeding of the multitudes, and walking on the water of the Sea of Galilee.

And here too, Phillip, the son of Herod the Great, upgraded the city to the status of a Greek city, where he was subsequently buried after his death.

And Absalom answered Joab, Behold, I sent unto thee, saying, Come hither, that I may send thee to the king, to say, Wherefore am I come from Geshur? it had been good for me to have been there still: now therefore let me see the king’s face; and if there be any iniquity in me, let him kill me.

So Joab came to the king, and told him: and when he had called for Absalom, he came to the king, and bowed himself on his face to the ground before the king: and the king kissed Absalom” (2 Sam 14:30-33).

1 Only our God, Jesus, has the right to Judge. 

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Hebron is a Palestinian city located in the southern West Bank, 30 km (19 mi) south of Jerusalem.

Nestled in the Judaean Mountains, it lies 930 meters (3,050 ft) above sea level.

It is the largest city in the West Bank and the second largest in the Palestinian territories after Gaza, and home to approximately 250,000 Palestinians, and between 500 and 850 Jewish settlers concentrated in Otniel settlement and around the old quarter.

Hebron is a busy hub of West Bank trade, responsible for roughly a third of the area’s gross domestic product, largely due to the sale of marble from quarries.

It is locally well known for its grapes, figs, limestone, pottery workshops and glassblowing factories, and is the location of the major dairy product manufacturer, al-Junaidi.

The old city of Hebron is characterized by narrow, winding streets, flat-roofed stone houses, and old bazaars.

The city is home to Hebron University and the Palestine Polytechnic University and notably has no cinemas or places of entertainment.

Hebron is detached to cities of ad-Dhahiriya, Dura, Yatta, the surrounding villages with no borders.

Hebron is also the largest Palestinian governorate with its population of 600,364.

Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this”  (Is 9:6-7).

“Thus saith the Lord, Keep ye judgment, and do justice: for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed.

Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that layeth hold on it; that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil” (Is 56:1).

The sixth commandment, Thou shalt not kill, means that it is a sin to commit murder.  Capital punishment is not a sin, IF  it is justified. 

Absolom should have been punished for raping his sister according to the law of the land, not by another person.

“At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death” (Deut 17:6).

“Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord” (Rom 12:19).

“To me [God] belongeth vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste” (Deut 32:35).

Warfare in the Ancient World

Modern readers may be shocked at the opening verse of Ps 144, but warfare is a prominent theme in Psalms.

The first intact chariot was discovered in 1829 in a tomb whose owner remains unknown and is now on display at the Museo Archeologico in Florence, Italy.

The Florence Chariot has wheels of four spokes and is considered to be of earlier construction and design than other chariots found, which have six spokes.

The earliest wars were conducted with crude weapons of wood and stone.  Horses were of limited value during heavy combat because the stirrup had not yet been invented and a rider could easily fall. 

Chariots were not used extensively until the Bronze Age.  An Egyptian chariot conveyed two men, a driver and an archer (chariots from the Levant [Syria] also accommodated a shield-bearer).

Massed chariots used shock value and speed to demoralize and scatter an enemy.  Chariots were prominent in New Kingdom Egypt

A revolution in military technology occurred at the beginning of the Iron Age.  Massed armies of heavy infantry with the discipline to hold their ranks appeared on the scene. 

They could withstand and rout a chariot charge, making the chariot obsolete except as a prestigious vehicle for commanders. 

Battles were often short, lasting only as long as one side or the other had the stamina to maintain face-to-face combat.  Frequently one side would break ranks and flee.  Panic was common, exacerbated by the commanders’ poor control, having to rely as they did on shouted voice commands or signals.

In keeping with the hilly terrain they inhabited, the Israelites relied primarily on infantry.  Light infantry soldiers wore little or no armor and typically used projectile weapons, like stones and arrows.  They moved in loose formations, relying on speed.

Ruins of Pathenon in Athens Greece
The Parthenon (/ˈpɑːrθəˌnɒn, -nən/; Ancient Greek: Παρθενών; Greek: Παρθενώνας, Parthenónas) is a former temple on the Athenian Acropolis, Greece, dedicated to the goddess Athena, whom the people of Athens considered their patron.

Construction began in 447 BC when the Athenian Empire was at the peak of its power. It was completed in 438 BC, although decoration of the building continued until 432 BC.

It is the most important surviving building of Classical Greece, generally considered the zenith of the Doric order. Its decorative sculptures are considered some of the high points of Greek art.

The Parthenon is regarded as an enduring symbol of Ancient Greece, Athenian democracy and Western civilization, and one of the world’s greatest cultural monuments. To the Athenians who built it, the Parthenon and other Periclean monuments of the Acropolis were seen fundamentally as a celebration of Hellenic victory over the Persian invaders and as a thanksgiving to the gods for that victory.

As of 2007 the Greek Ministry of Culture was carrying out a programme of selective restoration and reconstruction to ensure the stability of the partially ruined structure.

Heavy infantrymen wore full armor and often carried heavy swords and long spears.  They moved in large, close formation, with spears lowered to form a wall of pikes, in effect creating an ancient version of a tank.

The Greek hoplite (heavily armored infantry soldier) marching in his phalanx was a classic example of heavy infantry in action. 

Normally a heavy infantry unit would rout a light infantry corps, but out in the open a single heavy infantryman could be at a disadvantage when pitted against a light infantryman, due to the latter’s mobility and ability to strike at a distance. 

Egyptian Battle Axes

The greatest armies combined heavy and light infantry with cavalry.  Alexander the Great and Hannibal were masters at using their heavy infantry as a solid center for their armies, employing cavalry to flank an opponent. 

The Roman legions rejected the long pike in favor of a short sword.  These legions had the weight and impact of heavy infantry but were much more mobile. 

In addition to fighting pitched battles in the open field, armies sometimes laid siege to walled cities that were often situated atop hills.  How long a city could hold out depended on how much food it had in storage and upon whether it had direct access to underground springs. 

Plague could strike a besieged city, as happened to Athens during the Peloponnesian War in 430 B.C.  Often the besieging army would seek to bring down a city by building a siege ramp and attacking the walls with siege towers. 

Ancient armies were often made up of citizen soldiers called up in times of emergency.  These citizens could fight with dedication but were poorly trained and armed and often needed to return home on short order to tend their crops.  Citizen-soldier armies served Israel during the judges period.

Ancient societies tried to give their armies a core of professional soldiers with long-term enlistments.  Kings would also hire mercenaries. 

The Spartans had a novel solution to the recruitment problem: Every man served in the army full-time and lived in the barracks through most of his adult life (farming was handled by slaves called helots).

Ancient city-states often fought each other in “wars” that lasted a single day.  Casualties could be light, and frequently nothing more was at stake than setting a property claim.  

Other wars could be catastrophic.  The Peloponnesian War lasted 27 years, destroyed the Athenian Empire and devastated the Greek world. 

Victorious armies might slaughter cities and take survivors as slaves, effectively destroying peoples and cultures with deliberate genocide.  Armed conflict was indeed a fact of life for the peoples of ancient times. 

Against this reality David had ample reason to thank God, who trained his hands for war.

Ammon’s Crime & Siege Warfare

I thought it was a stiff sentence that you gave Adam and Eve (Gen 3:15-19), and Cain (Gen 11-12), but what they got is nothing compared to You killing David’s child.  

You loved David’s other son, Solomon.  What kind of person is he going to be? 

The Rape of Tamar
Tamar was the daughter of the charismatic, mercurial King David. Her mother was Maacah, a princess from the neighboring kingdom of Geshur.

“And it came to pass after this, that Absalom the son of David had a fair sister, whose name was Tamar; and Amnon the son of David loved her.

And Amnon was so vexed, that he fell sick for his sister Tamar; for she was a virgin; and Amnon thought it hard for him to do anything to her.

But Amnon had a friend, whose name was Jonadab, the son of Shimeah David’s brother: and Jonadab was a very subtil man.

And he said unto him, Why art thou, being the king’s son, lean from day to day? wilt thou not tell me? And Amnon said unto him, I love Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister.

And Jonadab said unto him, Lay thee down on thy bed, and make thyself sick: and when thy father cometh to see thee, say unto him, I pray thee, let my sister Tamar come, and give me meat, and dress the meat in my sight, that I may see it, and eat it at her hand.

So Amnon lay down, and made himself sick: and when the king was come to see him, Amnon said unto the king, I pray thee, let Tamar my sister come, and make me a couple of cakes in my sight, that I may eat at her hand.

The Rape of the Sabine Women is an episode in the legendary history of Rome, traditionally dated to 750 B.C., in which the first generation of Roman men acquired wives for themselves from the neighboring Sabine families.

The English word rape is a conventional translation of the Latin raptio, which in this context means “abduction” rather than its prevalent modern meaning in English language of sexual violation.

The concept of rape, both as an abduction and in the sexual sense (not always distinguishable), makes its first historical appearance in early religious texts.

The rape of women or youths is a common theme in Greek mythology. Among the rapes or abductions committed by Zeus, the supreme deity of the Greek pantheon, are Europa and Ganymede.

The rape of Chrysippus by Laius was known as “the crime of Laius”, a term which came to be applied to all male rape.

It was seen as an example of hubris in the original sense of the word, i.e. violent outrage, and its punishment was so severe that it destroyed not only Laius himself, but also his son, Oedipus, his wife Jocasta, his grandchildren (including Antigone) and members of his extended family.

Satyr and nymph, mythological symbols of sexuality on a mosaic from a bedroom in Pompeii.

Sexual attitudes and behaviors in ancient Rome are indicated by Roman art, literature and inscriptions, and to a lesser extent by archaeological remains such as erotic artifacts and architecture.

It has sometimes been assumed that “unlimited sexual license” was characteristic of ancient Rome.

The sexuality of the Romans has never had good press in the West ever since the rise of Christianity.

In the popular imagination and culture, it is synonymous with sexual license and abuse.

However, sexuality was not excluded as a concern of the mos maiorum, the traditional social norms that affected public, private, and military life.

Pudor, “shame, modesty”, was a regulating factor in behavior, as were legal strictures on certain sexual transgressions in both the Republican and Imperial periods.

The censors were public officials who determined the social rank of individuals and would, on occasion, remove citizens from the senatorial or equestrian order for sexual misconduct.

The mid-20th-century sexuality theorist Michel Foucault regarded sex throughout the Greco-Roman world as governed by restraint and the art of managing sexual pleasure.

Then David sent home to Tamar, saying, Go now to thy brother Amnon’s house, and dress him meat.

So Tamar went to her brother Amnon’s house; and he was laid down. And she took flour, and kneaded it, and made cakes in his sight, and did bake the cakes.

And she took a pan, and poured them out before him; but he refused to eat. And Amnon said, Have out all men from me. And they went out every man from him.

And Amnon said unto Tamar, Bring the meat into the chamber, that I may eat of thine hand. And Tamar took the cakes which she had made, and brought them into the chamber to Amnon her brother.

And when she had brought them unto him to eat, he took hold of her, and said unto her, Come lie with me, my sister.

And she answered him, Nay, my brother, do not force me; for no such thing ought to be done in Israel: do not thou this folly.

And I, whither shall I cause my shame to go? and as for thee, thou shalt be as one of the fools in Israel. Now therefore, I pray thee, speak unto the king; for he will not withhold me from thee” (2 Sam 13:1-13).

So Ammon raped Tamar, and afterwards not only was he no longer interested in her, but he hated her and told her to leave.

“And she said unto him, There is no cause: this evil in sending me away is greater than the other that thou didst unto me. But he would not hearken unto her” (2 Sam 13:16).

So he had his servants throw her out and lock the door.  Their brother Absolom saw her crying and found out that Ammon had raped her, and he hated Ammon for what he did.  But he told Tamar to be quiet about it at this time and to stay with him.

“But when king David heard of all these things, he was very wroth” (2 Sam 13:21).

Two years later Absalom had sheepshearers in Baal-hazor and he invited all the king’s sons. 

“Now Absalom had commanded his servants, saying, Mark ye now when Amnon’s heart is merry with wine, and when I say unto you, Smite Amnon; then kill him, fear not: have not I commanded you? be courageous, and be valiant.

And the servants of Absalom did unto Amnon as Absalom had commanded. Then all the king’s sons arose, and every man gat him up upon his mule, and fled.

And it came to pass, while they were in the way, that tidings came to David, saying, Absalom hath slain all the king’s sons, and there is not one of them left.

Then the king arose, and tare his garments, and lay on the earth; and all his servants stood by with their clothes rent.

And Jonadab, the son of Shimeah David’s brother, answered and said, Let not my lord suppose that they have slain all the young men the king’s sons; for Amnon only is dead: for by the appointment of Absalom this hath been determined from the day that he forced his sister Tamar” (2 Sam 13:28-32).

Absalom then took off and went to Talmai, the son of Ammihud, king of Geshur, and was there for three years.

Siege Warfare

Ancient Warefare: Siege Ramps
Nimrud stone relief showing earth siege ramp leading up towards the city of Lachish.

Wall relief of the siege ramp at Lachich, which forms as platform for

a battering ram pounding the city walls.

The Assyrians were so successful at warfare that small nations like Judah developed extensive fortifications to repel them.

To little avail, since the Assyrians developed the art of siege warfare.

They used various techniques: siege ramps and battering rams

breaching walls and gates scaling ladders

tunnelling, undermining the walls so that there were cave-ins that destabilised the foundations

psychological warfare.

Ramp Design

In a siege, the attackers built a causeway of piled and rammed earth and rubble, strengthened with wood.

These ramps or earthen bridges filled any obstacle, such as moats, so that the attackers could traverse the gap and apply scaling ladders and rams to the walls.

The siege ramp was a path to the vulnerable walls.

The attackers then brought up a battering ram.

Typically it was a metal-tipped wooden ram inside a framework shielded by a leather covering.

It was pushed forward on wheels until it reached the wall of the city under siege, then it pounded the walls, smashing down any weak part.

The Battering Ram
Where did they aim the battering ram?

The lower part of the wall was the most accessible, but if the ram could be aimed higher, the crumbling wall would dislodge the battlements and its defenders.

Moreover, the fallen debris could be used to widen the ramp, making it suitable for a second, third or fourth battering ram.

Siege warfare was a military strategy in which an attacking force would encircle a fortified position, generally a walled dry city, in order to defeat the inhabiting popula­tion.

The strategy was employed either to gain control of a city or to regain control of a rebellious city.

An attacking fore would encamp near the target city, block off all roads leading in and out of the city and cut off access to supply channels, most notably those involving water.

Once these preliminaries had been achieved, several strategies could be implemented.  (These approaches were not mutually exclusive; often a force would combine two or more tactics during a siege.)

A show of force could intimidate the inhabitants to the point of surrender. This line of attack had obvious advantages in that it would prevent a prolonged and potentially costly siege.

Sennacherib’s representative employed this strategy —unsuccessfully — against Jerusalem during the reign of Hezekiah.

Sometimes an army relied upon a ruse, such as in the story of the Trojan horse.

During the siege of Ai, Joshua divided his troops as a means of enticing the defenders of Ai to leave their defensive position in order to pursue a portion of Joshua’s forces. 

Once this had been accomplished, Joshua and his remaining troops were able to enter and destroy the defenseless city.

All other approaches failing, a besieging army was compelled to resort to direct assault on a city’s wall.

The fastest but most dangerous method of taking a defensive wall was to scale it, a tactic commonly involving the use of assault ladders.

An Egyptian tomb relief dating the Fifth Dynasty of the Early Bronze Age depicts warriors raising ladders against a besieged city wall.  

Depending upon the height of the walls and the tenacity of the defenders, the attackers could suffer extraordinarily high casualties.

The 19th century B.C. saw the de­velopment of effective battering rams, per­haps the greatest invention of siege warfare.

These weapons consisted of a long pole, often metal-tipped, that hung from a covered frame­work (offering protection to the attackers).

It would be hurled repeatedly against the wall or gate in a pendulum motion.

Many cities were surrounded by defen­sive fosses or dry moats, but would-be at­tackers would frequently surround such a city with trenches of their own.

A process of two opposing armies digging trenches and counter-trenches took place at the Athenian siege of Syracuse in 414 B.C.

Sometimes earthen ramps were con­structed against a city’s wall. Remnants of the siege mound constructed by Sennacherib during the siege of Lachish in 701 B.C. are still visible, as is the siege mound used by the Romans during the siege of Ma­sada in a.d.

Sometimes attackers attempted to com­promise a wall by tunneling beneath it. This was achieved by “sappers,” or tunnel engineers.

The annals of Sennacherib describe such a strat­egy during the siege of Hezekiah’s Judean cities.

Siege warfare was also a strategy of attrition, demanding commitment and often patience. (Nebuchadnezzar’s siege of Tyre, e.g., lasted for 13 years.).

It sought to defeat the enemy not primarily by sword but by star­vation and thirst. Defenses against a siege included the stockpiling of food and water, the construction of tall walls and fosses and the reinforcement of city gates with strong bars.

The city walls them­selves could be quite sophisticated in design as well. For example, one technique was to use an offset-inset wall, in which the surface of the city wall was not flat but protruded at intervals.

Defending inhabitants would also send out sorties in counterattacks in the hope of breaking a siege.

A defending force’s greatest advantage was its superior height. This allowed defenders to hurl down stones, arrows, javelins, hot oil or water and even millstones.

David’s Repentance & The Mountain and the Deer: A Hurrian Parable

Wow!  Not only did David commit adultery, but murder as well just so the people wouldn’t know that he slept with Bathsheba. 

What are You going to do to him? 

What do you know about sowing seeds?
For a rural community that lived off the land, sowing was absolutely necessary for survival.

The mere act of sowing brought great hope in the anticipation of a fruitful harvest.

Jesus’ story, however, gives a warning.

A seed can’t mature into fruit without the proper conditions for growth.

Even the prophet Jeremiah gave similar advice several hundred years earlier:

“Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns” (Jer 4:3).

What’s the point of this story for Jesus’ audience and for us?

Jesus’ parable of the sower is aimed at the hearers of his word.

There are different ways of accepting God’s word and they produce different kinds of fruit accordingly.

There is the prejudiced hearer who has a shut mind. Such a person is unteachable and blind to the things of God.

Then there is the shallow hearer who fails to think things out or think them through; such a person lacks spiritual depth.

They may initially respond with an emotional fervor, but when it wears off their mind wanders to something else.

Another type of hearer is the person who has many interests or cares, but who lacks the ability to hear or comprehend what is truly important. Such a person is forever too busy to pray or too preoccupied to study and meditate on God’s word. They may work so hard that they are too tired to even think of anything else but their work.

Then there is the one whose mind is open. Such a person is at all times willing to listen and to learn. He or she is never too proud or too busy to learn. They listen in order to understand. God’s word has power to change and transform us into the likeness of Christ.

God gives grace to those who hunger for his word that they may understand his will and have the strength and freedom to live according to it.

“And the Lord sent Nathan unto David. And he came unto him, and said unto him, There were two men in one city; the one rich, and the other poor.

The rich man had exceeding many flocks and herds:

But the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter.

The Rich Fool
“And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me.

And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?

And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.

And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:

And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?

And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.

And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.

But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?” (Lk 12:13-21).

And there came a traveller unto the rich man, and he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd, to dress for the wayfaring man that was come unto him; but took the poor man’s lamb, and dressed it for the man that was come to him.

And David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, As the Lord liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die:

And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.

And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul;

And I gave thee thy master’s house, and thy master’s wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things.

Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in his sight? thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon.

Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife.

Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun.

For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.

And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord. And Nathan said unto David, The Lordalso hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.

Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die.

And Nathan departed unto his house. And the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife bare unto David, and it was very sick.

David therefore besought God for the child; and David fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth.

And the elders of his house arose, and went to him, to raise him up from the earth: but he would not, neither did he eat bread with them.

And it came to pass on the seventh day, that the child died. And the servants of David feared to tell him that the child was dead: for they said, Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spake unto him, and he would not hearken unto our voice: how will he then vex himself, if we tell him that the child is dead?

But when David saw that his servants whispered, David perceived that the child was dead: therefore David said unto his servants, Is the child dead? And they said, He is dead.

Then David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the Lord, and worshiped: then he came to his own house; and when he required, they set bread before him, and he did eat.Then said his servants unto him, What thing is this that thou hast done? thou didst fast and weep for the child, while it was alive; but when the child was dead, thou didst rise and eat bread.And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether Godwill be gracious to me, that the child may live?

Jesus spoke in parables:
The Sower and the Seeds

“And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him [Jesus] out of every city, He spake by a parable:

A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it.

And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture.

And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it.

And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be?

And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.

Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.

Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.

They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.

And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.

But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience” (Lk 8:4-15).

But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.And David comforted Bathsheba his wife, and went in unto her, and lay with her: and she bare a son, and he called his name Solomon: and the Lord loved him.

And he sent by the hand of Nathan the prophet; and he called his name Jedidiah, because of theLord.

And Joab fought against Rabbah of the children of Ammon, and took the royal city.

And Joab sent messengers to David, and said, I have fought against Rabbah, and have taken the city of waters.

Now therefore gather the rest of the people together, and encamp against the city, and take it: lest I take the city, and it be called after my name.

And David gathered all the people together, and went to Rabbah, and fought against it, and took it.

And he took their king’s crown from off his head, the weight whereof was a talent of gold with the precious stones: and it was set on David’s head. And he brought forth the spoil of the city in great abundance.

And he brought forth the people that were therein, and put them under saws, and under harrows of iron, and under axes of iron, and made them pass through the brick-kiln: and thus did he unto all the cities of the children of Ammon. So David and all the people returned unto Jerusalem” (2 Sam 12:1-31).

Mountain and the Deer:
A Hurrian Parable

In antiquity, wisdom literature often took the form of parables.

The story of the mountain and the deer, found in a collection of Hurrian parables, illustrates a particular genre of wisdom literature in which animals depicted human subjects.

In this story, a deer left the mountain on which it had been born and went to graze upon another mountain.

Although the deer grew fat there, is was ungrateful and began to call down curses of lighting upon the summit of the new mountain.

In retaliation, the mountain summoned hunters to kill the deer.

At the conclusion of the parable the interpretation is spelled out:

The deer was a man who for some reason had fled his hometown and taken refuge in another. He was unappreciative, however, and began to do evil there, as a result being cursed by the gods of that town.

The prophet Nathan used a similar tech­nique to convict David of his sin against Uriah (2 Sam 12, below).

He told a story about two men, one wealthy and the other poor, rep­resenting David and Uriah, respectively. The poor man’s lamb depicted Bathsheba.

Unaware that Nathan’s account was a para­ble, the outraged King David instantly pronounced judgment against the unjust rich man.

Only then did Nathan reveal that David himself was that man!