Who really was the Biblical David

Most people read what people say is in the Bible even though the Bible does not say what they are told it says. Frequently, the Bible actually says the opposite of what rabbis, priests, and ministers say is in the text.

For example, in “Who Really Was the Biblical David?” I examined I Samuel 16-31, the section of the Bible that describes David before he became the king of the united-kingdom of Israel, and focused on what the Bible actually says about David, not what people think it says. I looked at how traditional and scholarly sources explained the events in these chapters. I found many things that will astonish his readers. My intension was not to debunk the Torah in any way or to belittle David, I have enormous respect for the Bible, but I wanted to see what the Torah actually says.

Among much else, I saw that the Bible shows that David is human, frequently brutal, and often motivated by self-interest in his desire to rule over the united tribes. The book, is filled with many dramas, but they are not saying what people think they are saying. I found eight examples in the early life of David, and several that show that the author of this book may not have known about the books of Joshua, Judges, and Ruth. Significantly, although the book of Ruth states that Ruth was the ancestress of David, this fact is not mentioned in the books of Samuel and Kings, as if the author had no knowledge of it.

There were many other unexpected and thought-provoking facts, including:

  • Two different versions narrating that David had an opportunity to kill King Saul who was pursuing him but refrained from doing so. In each David and Saul have a conversation saying something different than what is in the other chapter, and do not mention that this is a second time that David could have but did not kill the king.
  • In chapters 16-18, there are two radically different versions of David’s introduction to the history. In 16:14–23, he is of mature age and a man of war, brought to Saul’s service because of the king’s mental distress, and was appointed Saul’s armor-bearer. Saul is said in this chapter to like David very much. In contrast, in 17:1–18:5, he is a shepherd lad, inexperienced in warfare, but defeats Goliath as a shepherd would, and neither Saul or his staff have no idea who David is.
  • A second variation of the Goliath tale is in II Samuel 21:19, which states that Goliath was killed by Elhanan, the son of Jaare-oregim of Bethlehem. A third is in I Chronicles 20:5 where Elhanan son of Jair slew not Goliath, but his brother Lahmi.

Most of these events were seen and explained by the ancient rabbis in various way. Recognizing these facts and the rabbinical explanations adds a new dimension to the story of who David actually was.

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