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David

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The biblical King David of Israel was known for his diverse skills as both a warrior and a writer of psalms. In his 40 years as ruler, between approximately 1010 and 970 B.C.E., he united the people of Israel, led them to victory in battle, conquered land and paved the way for his son, Solomon, to build the Holy Temple. Almost all knowledge of him is derived from the books of the Prophets and Writings: Samuel I and II, Kings I and Chronicles I.

David was the eighth and youngest son of Jesse from the kingly tribe of Judah. He was also a direct descendent of Ruth the Moabite. David began his life as a shepherd in Bethlehem. One day, the prophet Samuel called him out of the field and anointed him without the knowledge of the current king, Saul. David simply returned to his sheep. His first interaction with Saul came when the king was looking for someone to play music for him, and the kingЃfs attendant summoned the skilled David to play for him. Saul was pleased with David and kept him in his service as a musician.

The first time David publicly displayed his courage was when, as an inexperienced boy armed with only a stick and a few stones, he confronted the nine-foot, bronze armored Philistine giant, Goliath of Gath. After skilled warriors had cowered in fear for 40 days, David made a slingshot, invoked GodЃfs name, and killed the giant. After this, Saul took David on as commander of his troops and David formed a close friendship with SaulЃfs son, Jonathan.

David was successful in battle against the Philistines and this aroused the jealousy of Saul, who tried to kill David by throwing a spear at him. David stayed with Saul, however, and Saul offered him his own daughter, Merav, as a wife. He later reneged on his promise, but offered David his second daughter, Michal, in exchange for the foreskins of 100 Philistines, a price that David paid.

SaulЃfs jealousy of David grew and he asked his son Jonathan to kill David. Jonathan was a friend of DavidЃfs, however, and hid David instead. He then went to his father and convinced Saul to promise not to kill David. Saul promised, and David returned to his service. This promise did not last and, after Saul attempted to kill David a second time, Michal helped David run away to the prophet Samuel in Ramah. David returned briefly to make a pact of peace with Jonathan and to verify that Saul was still planning to kill him. He then continued his flight from Saul, finding refuge with the king of Moab. On the way, the priest Ahimelech of Nob gave David a weapon. When Saul heard this, he sent Doeg the Edomite to kill 85 of the cityЃfs priests.

In the course of his flight, David gained the support of 600 men, and he and his band traveled from city to city. At one point, in Ein Gedi, David crept up on Saul while he was in a cave, but instead of killing him, cut a piece from his cloak and confronted Saul. Saul broke down and admitted that David would one day be king and asked David to swear that he would not destroy SaulЃfs descendants or wipe out SaulЃfs name. David swore to this, but it did not stop Saul from continuing to pursue him. Finally, David and his supporters joined the service of Achish, the Philistine king of Gath who entrusted David with control of the city of Ziklag. Under AchishЃfs employ, David raided the cities of nomads who harassed the Jews and gave the spoils as gifts to the leaders of Judah to win their support for him against Saul.

Eventually, while David was out battling a tribe called the Amalekites, Saul and Jonathan were killed on Mt. Gilboa in a fight with the Philistines. David mourned, and then began a new stage in his life, as king of Judah. He moved to Hebron, along with his wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail of Carmel, and his followers. The people of Judea were grateful to David for saving them from desert raiders while he was in Ziklag, and they appointed David king.

Meanwhile, Abner son of Ner crowned Ish-Boshet son of Saul king over the tribes of Israel. The kingdoms of Judah and Israel fought, with DavidЃfs dynasty growing stronger as SaulЃfs grew weaker. Finally, after Abner had a fight with Ish-Boshet, Abner approached David and made a pact with him, which allowed David to unite the two kingdoms and rule over all of Israel. As Abner was leaving David, however, DavidЃfs advisor and army commander, Joab, killed Abner without DavidЃfs knowledge. Soon, Ish-Boshet was also killed and the tribes of Israel anointed David as their king. David was 30 years old at the time, and had ruled over Judah for seven years and six months. Over the years, he had taken more wives and had many children. He had also made pacts with kings of various surrounding countries.

DavidЃfs first action as king was to capture what is now the City of David in Jerusalem, fortify it and build himself a palace. When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king and was threatening their hegemony over all of Palestine, they attacked, spread out over the Valley of Raphaim and captured Bethlehem. David retaliated and, in three battles, forced the Philistines out of Israel.

Once David had established the safety of his kingdom, he brought the Holy Ark, which had been passed from city to city, to Jerusalem. He then wanted to build a temple to God and consulted Natan the prophet. Natan replied to David that God would always be with David, but it would be up to DavidЃfs son to build the Temple because David had been a warrior and shed blood.

David then began fighting wars against IsraelЃfs neighbors on the east bank of the Jordan. He defeated the Moabites, the Edomites, the Ammonites and the Arameans. These wars began as defensive wars, but ended with the establishment of a Davidic empire that extended over both sides of the Jordan River, as far as the Mediterranean Sea. David enforced justice in his empire and established civil and military administrations in Jerusalem, modeled

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