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.