lunes, 13 de febrero de 2017

ON YOAV / JOAB (AND MORE ON THE BOOKS OF SAMUEL)

CURSE OF JOAB
When David's general, Joab, murders Abner, David angrily curses him and his descendants. Among those curses is (2 Sam. 3:29), "My the house of Joab never be without one who has a discharge (the period), who is leprous, or who holds a spindle..." Holding a spindle indicates a feminine occupation. Thus, David's curse on Joab's descendants is that there be someone in it in every generation who is effeminate, this quality being associated in the curse with physical impurities such as having venereal disease or leprosy. The charge of effeminacy that was probably considered more shameful than the homosexual act itself, would be implied in any charge of homosexual behavior.
In the JPS 1985 translation of the MT Abner says to Ishbaal, "yet this day you reproach me over a woman," which would seem to indicate that Abner's anger is not that he was accused falsely, but that he felt he had the right as the real power in the north to do as he pleased in the matter. Abner immediately sends to David and offers to deliver the northern kingdom to him. David agrees on condition that Michal, Saul's daughter, be returned to him. David makes the same demand to Ishbaal, who readily complies. David's insistence on the return of Saul's daughter is akin to Abner's having lain with Rizpah in that it is a brazen demand that Ishbaal acknowledge David's claim to the kingship of the north. It would seem at this point that David has indeed gained the kingdom. But just as Abner departs from David to bring the leaders of the north to him, Joab assassinates him. This is partly out of vengeance for the death of Asahel, Joab's brother, and partly, one suspects, because Joab fears mat Abner will be made David's general in his place. David curses Joab and all his descendants for Abner's murder, but he cannot afford to dismiss him from his post.
Another division of labor evident in both lists is that, while Joab is in charge of the army, Benaiah is in charge of the Cherethites and Pelethites. These terms seem to refer to Cretans and Philistines, particularly since the Egyptian word for the Philistines is Peleset and the Hebrew word is Peleshti.
KILLING ABSALOM
Acting on David's behalf, his friend Hushai feigns loyalty to Absalom and counsels him not to attack David until he can muster all of his troops. This is against the counsel of Ahithophel who is genuinely working for Absalom. He has counseled Absalom to pursue David at once and to kill the king while David's forces are weak, disorganized and weary from their precipitous flight. When Hushai's counsel is taken and Ahitophel's is rejected, the latter sees that Absalom's cause will fail. He therefore goes home and hangs himself. When the battle does take place David's seasoned professionals rout Absalom's volunteers. Absalom is caught by his long luxuriant hair, when it becomes entangled in a tree branch as he is fleeing on mule-back. Joab, acting against David's express orders to spare the young prince, kills him. The curious nature of Absalom's death could represent an ironic, fictionalized commentary on his sexual potency. A full head of hair in a man was seen as a sign of vigor, including sexual vigor. This would fit Absalom's ability to copulate with all of David's concubines in full sight of the people. That Absalom is caught by his luxuriant hair, which he only cuts once a year (see 2 Sam. 14:26), i. e. by the very symbol of his robust virility, becomes a fitting punishment for his signature act of rebellion.
THE MURDER OF AMASA
However, Sheba's rebellion is more of an incipient affair that ends ignominiously. Sheba is rapidly shut up in a single town, which when it is besieged by Joab capitulates by killing Sheba and tossing his head out over the wall. Perhaps the most notable aspect of the affair is that Joab is momentarily ousted as David's general, probably because of having killed Absalom. His job is given to Absalom's general, Amasa, who proves to be somewhat incompetent. This might also be David's way of extending the olive branch to those who had followed his son into rebellion. Joab remedies this situation in his usual way by murdering Amasa. The way in which he does it, greeting Amasa with a brotherly kiss even as he stabs him, is a virtual replay of Joab's murder of Abner, and as such would seem to be as much a literary convention as Sheba's exhortation to the northern tribes to rebel.
JOAB CHARACTER STUDY
Joab is a man without compunction when it comes to getting what he wants, as can be seen in his murders of Abner and Amasa. Never allowing soft emotions to get in the way of the business at hand, he puts Absalom to death against David's orders and then tells the king to stop mourning and review his victorious troops if he wants to retain the loyalty of his army. There is never any question as to what Joab's motives are, and he too seems like a real person.
JOAB ISCARIOT: THE KISS OF DEATH PARALLELS
The actual arrest involves the famous scene in which Judas Iscariot betrays Jesus with a kiss as a way to identify him to the arresting soldiers.3 In Jn. 18:1-11 the arrest does not involve the kiss of betrayal. Judas merely leads the soldiers to the garden of Gethsemane. It almost seems as if the author of the fourth gospel felt the whole betrayal-by-kiss motif was a bit contrived. This is especially true since in the synoptics Jesus upbraids the soldiers for coming after him as if he were a robber/petty thief, when he has been preaching in the Temple every day, and they could have taken him any time. The kiss, like so many aspects of the Passion story, is set up to reflect Jewish scriptures, and it recalls Joab's treacherous murder of his rival Amasa in 2 Sam. 20:9,10:
And Joab said to Amasa, "Is it well with you, my brother?" And Joab took Amasa by the beard with his right hand to kiss him. But Amasa did not observe the sword which was in Joab's hand; so Joab struck him with it in the body, and shed his bowels to the ground without striking a second blow; and he died.
This is Joab's second murder of a rival, and, like the first against Abner, it violates his king's agreement to give authority to the general of a former enemy in order to reconcile that enemy's followers. By kissing Jesus as he leads the soldiers to him, Judas Iscariot shows himself to be as treacherous as Joab. In me version of his death related by Peter in Acts 1:15- 20 we also see echoes of the material from 2 Samuel. Peter says that Judas bought a field with the money he had been paid for his betrayal and fell into it, bursting open in the middle so that his bowels gushed out, just like Amasa's. The word in Greek in both the LXX 2 Sam 20:10 and Acts 1:18 is exchuthe, meaning to "pour out" or "spill."




SAMUEL ALLSORTS
David and his men flee into the Wilderness of Ziph, a rocky area south of Hebron. While he is there, the local people tell Saul of David's whereabouts, and the king comes after him. Chapters 24 and 26 are rival accounts of how David found Saul asleep in his camp and spared his life because Saul was Yahweh's anointed king. In Chapter 26 David sneaks into Saul's camp and takes Saul's spear and a water jar resting near his head. In Chapter 24, he finds Saul asleep in a cave and cuts off the skirt of his robe. In both cases David later confronts Saul with the fact that he could have killed him, in one version calling to him from a ridge across a valley between them. In both cases David protests his innocence, and in both cases Saul, upon hearing David asks, "Is this your voice, my son David?" (1 Sam 24:16,26:17). In both cases Saul also apologizes, in one version telling David to return to him, that he will do him no further harm and predicting that David will go on to do many great things. For all that, David and Saul part company and go their separate ways. The rival version puts even grander words in Saul's mouth, having him predict that David will be king and asking him to swear not to kill off his descendants (1 Sam. 24:20,21), to which David agrees.

The main story of this chapter relates to how David acquired Abigail, the wife of a rich man named Nabal who has 3000 sheep. Hearing that Nabal is shearing his sheep in the region of Carmel, David sends ten of his young men there with the following message (1 Sam. 25:6-8):
...And thus you shall salute him: "Peace be to you and peace be to your house, and peace be to all that you have. I hear that you have shearers; now your shepherds have been with us, and we did them no harm, and they missed nothing, all the time they were in Carmel. Ask your young men and they will tell you. Therefore let my young men find favor in your eyes; for we come on a feast day. Pray give whatever you have at hand to your servants and to your son David."
Nabal responds to this message in a decidedly uncivil manner, saying (1 Sam. 25:1 Ob, 11):
Who is David? There are many servants nowadays who are breaking away from their masters. Shall I take my bread and my water and my meat that I have killed for my shearers, and give it to men who come from I do not know where?
It can be seen from these two passages that David and his band of 600 men have been living by extortion. This fact is softened in David's favor by the courtly quality of his request and the fact that the reader is set up to think ill of Nabal even before this exchange in verse 3, where he is described as "churlish and ill-behaved" (RSV) or "a hard man and an evildoer" (JPS 1985), while his wife, Abigail, is described as beautiful and intelligent. However, consider the reason David gives for why Nabal should supply him and his men with food (1 Sam. 7b): "[Njowyour shepherds have been with us, and we did them no harm, and they missed nothing, all the time they were in Carmel." In other words, David expects Nabal to provision him because he refrained from harming or robbing Nabal's shepherds. Put simply, this is extortion. Nabal's response of "Who is David?" does not mean that he does not know who he is. Rather it means, "Who is David that I should give in to his threats?" This can be seen from his next remark that, "There are many servants nowadays who are breaking away from their masters." This would seem to be a pointed reference to David's outlaw status as a fugitive from King Saul. That David takes the point and is enraged by the words—and by the fact that Nabal has refused to pay up—is seen in his response. He tells 400 of his men to gird on their swords and swears that he will, kill every male among Nabal's servants. He does this in the less expurgated versions of the text by referring to these males as "them that pisseth against a wall." Defining the men by the manner in which they urinate is part of the language of threat. So, despite the gracious wording of his "request," in which he refers to himself as Nabal's servant and as his son, Nabal's refusal provokes a murderous response.
The potential massacre is averted by Abigail, who meets me approaching band with 200 loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five sheep already butchered, five measures of parched grain, 100 clusters of raisins and 200 fig cakes. She also bows, face to the ground, before David and begs him not to regard the words of Nabal, who, she says, is true to his name. In Hebrew nabal (naval) means "fool." Since it is doubtful that Nabal's parents would have given him such a name, it seems more probable either that his name had a similar sound or that his original name was expunged from the narrative, in each case being changed to "fool" to put him in a still worse light, thus making David's extortion that much more acceptable. David happily accepts Abigail's intervention. When she later tells Nabal diat they were nearly attacked by David, he is so struck with fear that he falls ill and is dead ten days later. David swiftly appropriates the dead man's wife and property.

A reflection of this is seen in Sisera's mother looking through her latticed window in vain for Sisera's triumphal approach (i.e. the kingly procession). It is also reflected in the death of Jezebel at the hands of Jehu (2 Kgs. 9:30,31):
When Jehu came to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it; and she painted her eyes and adorned her head, and looked out the window. And as Jehu entered the gate, she said, "Is it peace, you Zimri, murderer of your master?" This scene is full of irony. Jezebel paints her eyes as though she is about to meet a lover and her ironic use of the question "Is it peace?" the question her son Jehoram had asked Jehu just before the latter assassinated him, is followed by a stinging insult in that Zimri, famous only for assassinating Elah, Baasha's son, ruled only a few days before he was himself overthrown by Omri, whose line Jehu is exterminating. Jehu does not bother to answer her just accusation, but merely orders her eunuchs to throw her out the window to her death.
David's kindly treatment of Jonathan's crippled son Merrib-baal (Mephibosheth in 2 Samuel), and while there was some genuine compassion for the young man for Jonathan's sake, it is quite likely that Merrib-baal's being lame is at least one major factor in maintaining his status at David's court. For in such a condition he is not a serious threat to David's position.
(JONATHAN BEGAT MERIB-BAAL AND MERIB-BAAL BEGAT MICAH)


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