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