My uncle’s view of King David

A Guide to the Prophets

By Hoenig and Rosenberg

 

Hoenig and Rosenberg, the former scholar the late Rabbi Dr. Sydney B. Hoenig was my uncle, assembled a comprehensive description of the prophetical books of the Hebrew Bible.

Among much else, the authors have a very readable general description of the Bible, a table of the history of Israel to 586 BCE when the second Jewish temple was destroyed, a general description of what people call “the minor prophets,” a discussion on the historical background of the last three prophets, eleven appendices on subjects such as gems in the prophets and some striking phrases that are commonly quoted, and a detailed study of close to two dozen biblical books.

For example, while the biblical book of Jonah has only four short chapters, the authors devote seven pages in their discussion about its contents, including the authorship and historical setting, contents, comments on the book with references to ancients such as Saadiah Gaon and Malbim, subjects for further study, when the book is read as a haftorah, and references with page numbers so that readers can get further information.

And there is much more in this wide-reaching thorough volume.

A good example is the authors’ comments on David. Here is some of what they write:

“As a national figure [for after Moses David was the first leader to unite the tribes], David alone was able to conquer the Philistines, who were not Semites but Aegean Greeks who settled in Phoenicia. They were the ones [the Romans referred to when they] gave the name Palestine to the country.  Their invasion of the land contemporaneously with the Israelites was thus a severe clash of two forces seeking the land of Canaan. In truth, the Philistines had power in the land until the Israelites were able to unite formidably under David. Historically, then, David’s conquest of the Philistines made them [the Philistines] a second rate power….

“Despite this unity created by David in the land, the jealousy between North and South was not distinguished. This is evident in the internal dissensions, court intrigues and rebellions of the time, and emerged later as the great catastrophe of the division of North and South in the days of Rehoboam, David’s grandson….

“The most important historic fact of the entire period, undoubtedly, is the change from a nomadic to a settled agricultural mode of life, where property becomes the basis of organization….

“David is real. But his very inconsistencies and frailties before God make him more human and more lovable – a man, a plain man destined to be traditionally the mortal king of Israel, the founder of the Davidic dynasty…. It was David who changed a Jebusite city into the eternal Jerusalem; and gained eternal memory for himself.”

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