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Politics and Religion (3); Joab and Amasa

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posted on Nov, 7 2014 @ 05:01 PM
2 Samuel has a particular interest for students of history, as the only book of the Bible where it’s possible to follow the messy details of politics.
It can be read around (and may have been written around) the career of David’s nephew Joab, who spends the book, apart from a brief interval, as the leader of David’s armies.

Now Joab and Amasa were cousins, and nephews of David, being sons of Zeruiah and Abigail, both sisters of the king.
They were on opposite sides in the crisis of Absolom’s rebellion, for Joab remained faithful to David, while Amasa was appointed as commander of Absolom’s army.

The battle which saw the death of Absolom did not completely settle the country.
There was strife among the tribes of Israel about inviting the king back.
Even David’s own tribe of Judah needed to be won over, since Amasa remained powerful.
David used the leading priests to send a message to the elders of Judah.
He reminded them that they were his kinsmen.
He told them that “the word of all Israel has come in to the king”, and they were in danger of being left behind.
He reinforced the message with a personal promise to Amasa, that he could have Joab’s post as the commander of David’s armies.
These arguments were enough to “sway the heart of all the men of Judah as one man”, so they formally invited him back.

David came down to the eastern banks of the Jordan to meet the tribe of Judah, who crossed over in order to escort him back across the ford.
There were also a thousand representatives from Benjamin, some of whom were there because they had compromised themselves when he went into exile.
The man who most needed to redeem himself was Shimei the son of Gera, who had cursed him, calling him a man of blood and throwing stones at him.
So the renewal of David’s fortunes called for some high quality grovelling;
“Your servant knows that I have sinned; therefore, behold, I have come this day, the first of all of the house of Joseph to come down to meet my lord the king.”
Joab’s brother Abishai wanted the man put to death anyway (he had offered to do it himself at the time of the cursing). However, David rebuked the truculence of “the sons of Zeruiah”. He did not want the joy of his return to be marred by executions.

By the time David reached Gilgal, a place which symbolised Israel’s original crossing of the Jordan, he was accompanied by “all the people of Judah and also half the people of Israel”.
But the mood was being spoiled by Israel’s growing resentment over the dominance of Judah in the proceedings.
They demanded to know why the men of Judah had “stolen the king away”.
Judah’s answer was that the king was “near of kin to us”.
“We have ten shares in the king”, retorted Israel, “and we were the first to invite him back”, and Judah’s reply was even fiercer.
Israel was being pushed into a reaction of “Keep him, then, we’ll find one of our own”, and this was voiced by a “worthless man”, Sheba the son of Bichri, who blew the trumpet and declared
“We have no portion in David, and we have no inheritance in the son of Jesse;
Every man to his tents, O Israel”.

This was Amasa’s first test as commander of David’s armies, and it seems to have exposed his inexperience.
David instructed him to gather the armed levies of Judah and report back in three days.
When the time came, there was no sign of him.
The delay was troubling. Once Sheba had the chance to start seizing fortified cities, there would be no shifting him and the insurrection would grow.
So David instructed Abishai (rather than Joab) to take the professional soldiers, the Cherethites and Pelethites and the “mighty men” and go north in direct pursuit.

When the leaders reached the great stone in Gibeon, Amasa came to meet them.
This must have been a puzzling apparition. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and without the army which he was supposed to be collecting.
Joab went forward to give him a warm cousinly greeting; “Is it well with you, my brother?”
He took hold of him by the beard, with his right hand, in order to kiss him.
But Joab was an old soldier, and he knew that holding a man by the beard is a good way of keeping him still while you stab him. Evidently he could use his sword with his left hand (and an older soldier than Amasa would have been watching for that).
Then the two brothers continued in pursuit of the enemy.
One of Joab’s men was left behind with the body, urging everyone who came up to ignore it and follow on after Joab.
Once he saw this wasn’t working (people would insist on stopping to have a long look), he dragged the body off the highway and concealed it with a garment.

The insurrection was less formidable than David feared.
Sheba “passed through all the tribes of Israel” in full retreat.
It seems that he did not dare to face the professionals in the open field, or else he had been defeated in an unmentioned battle.
He took refuge in Abel, in the far north, and the king’s army came up to besiege it. They raised up a mound outside the city, next to the ramparts, as a platform for the battering ram, which they began to use.
A wise woman of the city appeared on the walls, to negotiate with Joab.
Why did he want to destroy such an established city of Israel?
Joab replied that there would be no need to destroy the city, if the city would only give up Sheba the son of Bichri, which was all he wanted.
The elders of the city thought about this, and threw down Sheba’s head.
Then Joab gave the signal for the armies to disperse, and returned to Jerusalem and the king.

There was a kind of happy ending, then.
The house of David regained control of both kingdoms, until his undiplomatic grandson separated them again.
Joab regained his post as commander, until he took the wrong side in the crisis of David’s death.
We don’t know David’s reaction to the death of Amasa, but he might have complained, once again, that the sons of Zeruiah were too hard for him.

Where is the theology in this story?
In the absence of any direct intervention by God, though the characters frequently appeal to his name, we can only learn about him indirectly.

In the first place, we can recognise real politics in the details of this narrative.
Gibbon described history as a record of the “crimes, follies and misfortunes of mankind”.
“What it’s all about is the dirt”, as one of my tutors used to say.
We can see from the rough-and-tumble nature of these relationships, tinged with brutality and treachery, that events are taking place in the real world.
This is history, not legend.
And the implication is that the relation between the God of Israel and his people is embedded in the world of history, not restricted to the world of legend.
In many cultures, stories about the gods belong only to the world of legend, and the gods are correspondingly distant.
This God maintains himself close to his people, in the middle of real-world events.

It’s obvious enough, in the second place, that the protagonists in these events are filled with flaws.
Even David has his weaknesses, and he ignores the spirit of at least one of the laws of Moses.
This is evidence that a good relationship with God does not depend on being perfect, and that must be encouraging for the rest of us.
These are real people, in short, and God is prepared to work with them as real people.

Finally, if this is God promoting the kingdom of David and developing his own plans, he’s clearly working very indirectly, which says something about his methods.

posted on Nov, 7 2014 @ 05:20 PM
Source information

This story (the aftermath of Absolom’s rebellion) is told over 2 Samuel chs. 19-20

The family connections are spelled out in 1 Chronicles ch2 vv13-17. 2 Samuel tends to play them down, which will be partly a way of putting distance between David and the “bad guy” Joab.

I think Joab’s official responsibility as commander would have been leading the armed levies of Judah, what we might now call “the militia” (which is why Amasa’s first task, when he took over the post, was to gather them together).
But in practice Joab evidently took charge on the battlefield whatever units were involved. We see in this story how David placed Abishai, the leader of the thirty “mighty men,” over the strike force which he sent against Shebna, yet this was tacitly ignored once they left Jerusalem, and everyone was deferring to Joab.

edit on 7-11-2014 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 7 2014 @ 05:31 PM
indeed his lessons come at a fleshly price.

posted on Nov, 7 2014 @ 05:39 PM
a reply to: deadeyedick
That's one way of putting it.

posted on Nov, 7 2014 @ 06:02 PM
a reply to: DISRAELI There is no amount of money, jewels or schools that could be worth or teach what we are learning the hard way. Best of all is that the majority of our lessons are not even known to us until we need them to be.

posted on Nov, 7 2014 @ 07:58 PM
a reply to: DISRAELI

The hidden story here is of a Father (King) and his Son. It's about the struggle to rule with the difficulties of raising a family. It's the story of having wives and not a wife; having foreign wives and not a wife of your own seed. This story is an image of the first story, or the one that follows a kingdom created by a Father and a Son who rebels. For the Father, the struggle is to regain His Son's love without destroying the Son. For the Son, it's a struggle to see Himself as the Father and ruler. What is the best way for this to happen? Make him King. We learn by doing.

Before I say the next bit, who do you mean when you call on the name of the Lord? Yahweh or Jesus? When you speak of yourself, do you speak of person you were, the person you are or the person you will be in the future? Did Jesus say He was, is and is to come?

In Genesis 2, Yahweh (Son of God / LORD) plants (not creates) a garden. He forms (not creates) Adam. He divides God's image by shedding blood. In Chapter 4, he loses his tile Elohim. In chapter 9, he blesses the earth and not man. In Chapter 9, Elohim (Father) blesses ALL nations with the promise of the Rainbow. In Chapter 9, he also says this:

Elohim speaking and not Yahweh/Lord:

6 “Whoever sheds human blood,
by humans shall their blood be shed;
for in the image of God
has God made mankind.

7 As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon

Of course, man shed the blood of the Lord/Son of God/Yahweh. If you say that Yahweh is not the Lord, then again, which Lord are you referring to? The one that was, is or is to come?

By asking what value 2 Samuel has as a message from God, are you asking if that message is from God or to Yahweh? Did Jesus/Lord say he was the only God with none beside? No, he pointed us back to the Father. The value of the struggle Yahweh has as Lord is the struggle he has by refusing the rainbow in order to raise HIS nation of one color. Elohim promised blessing to ALL colors.

The lesson is to Love, which is what Yahweh said as Lord in the New Testament. He also plants the seed to love enemies. Why? When mankind finds out what we know here, he will need forgiveness. Do we need forgiveness?

Then we better forgive. It's the lesson of being the one causing wars and dividing God's image on purpose. There is no greater offender in this than the one that created the Snake he must also kill out.

Genesis 3

3 The snake was more clever than all the wild animals Yahweh Elohim had made.

Yahweh's Own Words

2 Yahweh said to Satan, “I, Yahweh, silence you, Satan! I, Yahweh, who has chosen Jerusalem, silence you! Isn’t this man like a burning log snatched from a fire?”

Was Yahweh snatched from the fire? How?

When does the rainbow appear? After drops of rain fall on the ground (baptism), then the sun evaporates them and distills the water.

Baptism is the flood. Noah is Christ and the Ark is Earth.

Reality Spoilers - The Flood is Baptism

Was Jesus baptized? What happened at that point? Elohim said he loved the Son and Ruach Elohim (Mother / Holy Spirit) was imparted to the Son. Three in One.

Ecclesiastes 4

Those Who Are All Alone

7 Next, I turned to look at something pointless under the sun: 8 There are people who are all alone. They have no children or other family members. So there is no end to all the hard work they have to do. Their eyes are never satisfied with riches. But they never ask themselves why they are working so hard and depriving themselves of good things. Even this is pointless and a terrible tragedy.
Two Are Better Than One

9 Two people are better than one because together they have a good reward for their hard work. 10 If one falls, the other can help his friend get up. But how tragic it is for the one who is all alone when he falls. There is no one to help him get up. 11 Again, if two people lie down together, they can keep warm, but how can one person keep warm? 12 Though one person may be overpowered by another, two people can resist one opponent. A triple-braided rope is not easily broken.

Absalom was a type of Yahweh/Lord/Son of a King.

edit on 7-11-2014 by AlephBet because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 8 2014 @ 12:23 PM
This story is the aftermath of the events described in this thread;
Joab and Absolom

The previous occasion when Joab killed an army commander (as David remembers against him later) was;
Joab and Abner
edit on 8-11-2014 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 9 2014 @ 11:51 AM
The lost days of Amasa

The last days of Amasa are also lost days. We don’t know where he went or what was happening to him, and there is now no way of finding out. However, it is possible to speculate.

Amasa had been sent to raise the levies of Judah. I don’t think he would have found this easy. The men had just finished fighting one campaign under his command. They would remember that he had led them to defeat, and they would be conscious that he had now changed sides. I suspect he would have found them sulky and un-cooperative.

Perhaps his purpose in the region of Gibeon was to raise troops in Benjamin instead, and/or to offer his services to the rebels under Shebna. This possibility raises an interesting question; when he came out into the open at the Stone of Gibeon, which army did he think he was greeting? It would have been an awkward moment, in any case. If any thought entered Joab’s mind that Amasa might be about to betray David, that would be another reason for killing him.

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