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David

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DAVID, 2d king of Israel, shepherd and harpist, royal armor bearer and warrior, exile and monarch, psalmist and conqueror. Biblical sources present a strictly historical pic ture of one of the leading characters in Scrip ture, embellished in later legends, rabbinical and Mohammedan. According to 1 Chron. xl 15, J he was the youngest of the seven sons of Jesse of Bethlehem, or as stated in 1 Sam. xvi, 10, and following xvii, 12, the youngest of the eight sons. Less rugged than his brothers, he kept his father's sheep, but showed daring courage in their defense. His fame as singer and player was widespread, and was to occasion his sum mons to the court to cure Saul's chronic melan choly. His playing on the harp relieved the despondent king, who grew fond of the youth and made him armor-bearer. David's prowess in the constant struggles with the Philistines gained him increasing popular favor, Saul's daughter Michal as wife and his son Jonathan as close friend. But with a king's proverbial fickleness, Saul's fondness changed to envy and hatred, and David fled for safety to the priests of Nob, all of whom, except one, were put to death as traitors by the king. The fugitive now headed a band of resolute men who secured Keilah when threatened by the Philistines but could not make stand against Saul. Varied ad ventures followed, in one of which he spared the king's life, when he sought refuge among the Philistines and became a vassal of Achish of Gath, receiving Ziglag as residence, where he ruled four months. Then came the luckless battle of Gilboa, with Saul and his three sons slain, and Israel once again under Philistine sway, although Abner, Saul's general, succeeded in founding a small kingdom east of the Jordan in Mahanaim for Saul's son Ishba'al or Ishbo sheth, as the name appears in Samuel.

At this crisis, David resolved to return to Israel, and was anointed at Hebron as tribal king of Judea, after having begun communica tions with its tribes and families. He did not abandon, however, his relations as vassal of the Philistines. For seven years and a half he con tinued this arrangement when events rapidly brought about the logical result. Abner's de feat at Gideon, while attempting to conquer for Saul's son David's small kingdom; that general's defection to David and subsequent death at the hands of David's chieftain Joab, and the mur der of Ishba'al ;— all this induced Jonathan's young lame son Mephibosheth to offer David the vacant throne, and his anointment followed. The next step was to free Israel from the yoke of the Philistines, which was accomplished after a long series of sanguinary battles. Then he planned to secure another centre for his kingdom, instead of at Hebron, which was too far south; and without much delay he con quered from the Canaanite tribe of the Jebu sites the city and stronghold of Jerusalem. With solemn services the Ark of the Covenant was transferred, and in memory of its journey ings in the wilderness it was at first placed in a tent. It was the prophet Nathan who dis suaded David at that time from building for it a temple at Jerusalem. Despite his triumphs on the battlefield, David retained his sense of hu mility and yielded to the prophet in a memor able episode (2 Sam. vii, 1-17).

While details are scanty of David's political and military activity as ruler, Ammon, Edom and Moab and their Aramean neighbors on the north were conquered and made tributary, his kingdom thus becoming the most powerful be tween the Nile and the Euphrates. But now

at the height of his fame, David revealed his moral weakness in the incident with Bathsheba, whose husband he indirectly caused to be slain. There followed quickly the episode of his eldest son Amnon and stepsister Tamar, which led to Amnon's death by Absalom, her full brother. Absalom's rebellion next ensued, and his death at the hand of Joab, against David's express command. Much bitterness arose with the Judeans, due to internaljealousy among the tribes not yet wholly unified, which David was unable to counteract. Sudden revolt spread which might have proved more serious, had it not been promptly quelled by Joab. The only further cloud on David's remaining years was occasioned by the question of his successor. Adonijah, now the eldest of his sons, had been allowed by 'David to appear officially in that role; but Bathsheba strove to secure the honor for her son Solomon, the youngest. David, who had now grown weak and credulous, believed the rumor that Adonijah had already proclaimed himself king. Hence he was induced to present Solomon to the people, with full ceremonial, and had him anointed as king. He died soon after in his 70th year, having reigned 33 years at Jerusalem.

The outline of David's life and work as here presented is based on 1 Sam. xvi to 1 Kings xi, but a somewhat different impression is given in 1 Chronicles, which, omitting features that might be regarded as doubtful and offensive, stresses his activity in the organization of the Temple service, the gathering of material for the structure, the planning of every detail, the arrangement of the priests and ritual, subordi nate functionaries as well as judges and officials, together with ordinances referring to military matters and the royal lands. Hence arose the tradition of David as the founder of Israel's religious poetry. Although only 73 of the psalms have special headings assigning their authorship to him, the entire Psalms are credited as Davidic, which modern criticism disputes. His literary skill and dramatic power attained their highest mark in the dirge on the deaths of Saul and Jonathan (2 Sam. i, 19-27). Apart from his genius as poet, he gave Israel its national unity and character, developing a nation out of a collection of tribes and families. In all its subsequent history, with every change in condition and environment, the national idea was never wholly lost. It is not surprising then, such was the glory of his reign and the strength of his personality, with its human weaknesses which were never extenuated but frankly stated and bore their full penalty in countless sorrows and struggles, that his name belongs to the im mortals of Israel and has become interwoven with visions of the future, rising into roseate clouds of saga in many a rabbinical story and later Mohammedan legend.

Bibliography.— Cited portions of the Old Testament tell the record of his life. For Davidic legends consult Ginzberg, L., 'The Legends of the Jews' (Vol. IV, pp. 81-121) ; Weil, 'Biblische Legenden der MuseImannee ; Griinbaum, Max, and Sagenkund> (pp. 511 ff).