posted on Nov, 4 2014 @ 05:09 PM
There was no space in the OP to look at another aspect of politics, viz. the jostling for position around the king.
This happens at every royal court.
“Fain would I climb, yet fear I to fall”, wrote Sir Walter Raleigh (scratching the line on a pane of glass).
The Queen’s tart reply was scratched underneath.
“If thy heart fails thee, climb not at all”.
One of the minor characters in the story of Absolom is Jonadab, another of David’s nephews (by his brother Shimei). Jonadab is described as “a
very crafty man”. He makes two appearances, which are enough to tag him as cold-hearted and unscrupulous.
On his first appearance, he‘s the crony who puts into Amnon’s mind the trap which enables him to seize hold of Tamar.
The next time we see him, though, he seems to have transferred his allegiance to Absolom. When the first rumours of the death of Amnon reach the
court, the first report is that “all the king’s sons have been slain”. Jonadab is the one who blandly assures the king that this report is
false; “Amnon alone is dead, for by the command of Absolom this has been determined from the day he forced his sister Tamar”. This tells us two
things; that Jonadab knew about the plot in advance, and that he had done nothing to forewarn Amnon. He had evidently decided that Amnon was the wrong
horse to back.
When Absolom claims the throne, he is able to call upon the services of Ahithophel, one of the king’s counsellors
“In those days the counsel which Ahithophel gave was as if one consulted the oracles of God; so was all the counsel of Ahithophel esteemed”.
Yet Absolom summons him from his home, where he has returned. We don’t know the background, but there may have been some kind of estrangement from
David. Recent advice had included some unwelcome truths? Absolom is acting on his counsel when he “goes in to” David’s concubines, but rejects
the further advice to pursue David urgently. Ahithophel is clear-sighted enough to see all the consequences of this mistake, so he goes back home and
The young cousin Amasa, as we saw in the OP, advances himself by accepting the post of Absolom’s commander.
This is necessary because David does find loyalty, especially among his military men, like Joab and Ittai.
Hushai the Archite is not a military man, but “the king’s friend”. He’s willing to accompany the king, but David sends him back to the city,
for the specific purpose of pretending to join Absolom and misleading him.
There are two priestly families in this narrative. Abiathar and his son Jonathan are the current representatives of the family which has been
responsible for care of the Ark. The family of Zadok and his son Ahimaaz seem to have been priests of the “high place” in Gibeon (1 Chronicles
ch16 v39). When the first family makes the wrong choice at the later succession crisis, Zadok’s family will become the new custodians of the Ark and
ancestors of the later “High Priests”.
But this story places both families in Jerusalem side by side. When they offer to bring the Ark with David, he sends them back to the city. However,
the two sons soon find themselves in a “spy-chase” drama, as they escape from Jerusalem to find David and take him information about Absolom’s
After the battle, Ahimaaz manoeuvres himself into a position to bring “good tidings”, always a good move in a royal court. There is both good news
and bad news, because the battle is won but Absolom has been killed. Ahimaaz outruns the official messenger, presents the good news, and pretends to
know nothing more. “Let the other man be the one who spoils the mood”. Sir Walter would have loved that ploy.
There is the selfless loyalty of Barzillai the Gileadite, a very rich man, and possibly the leading figure on the eastern side of the Jordan. He keeps
the exiled king supplied with provisions at Mahanaim. When David is returning to Jerusalem, he invites Barzillai to join him there. Barzillai demurs,
on grounds of age, and offers (his relative?) Chimcham instead.
Finally, there is the delicate position of the house of Saul and other leaders of Benjamin.
David has given his protection to Mephibosheth, a lame son of Jonathan. He gave him the lands which belonged to his grandfather Saul, and the family
of Ziba (one of Saul’s former servants) were instructed to work the land for his benefit.
When David goes into exile, Ziba meets him with provisions and claims that Mephibosheth prefers to remain in Jerusalem, hoping for the
restoration of his own family to the throne. Ziba gets the reward he was angling for, the promise that everything David gave to Mephibosheth will be
transferred to himself.
When David returns from exile, Mephibosheth complains (and I believe him) that this was a trick on Ziba’s part. He was too lame to travel, but he
had never been anything but loyal to David.
David then divides the property between them, because he can’t be bothered to do the work of sorting out the truth (exactly the same flaw which cost
him the people’s loyalty in the first place).
The case of Shimei the son of Gera, who may have been their top man outside the immediate family, is less ambiguous.
He gloats unashamedly when David goes into exile, and has to back-track hastily when the king returns.
Almost none of these people make any great impact on the world after their brief appearance in this story.
That, in itself, points out a good moral on the “greasy pole” of struggling for position at court.