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The Demise of the Warlord: A New Look at the David Story


The novelty of this monograph on David and Bathsheba (2 Sam. 11 —12) lies in its placing the narrative in the context of the behaviour of nomadic warlords and Amorite tribal chieftains as reflected in several Akkadian texts from Mari and Mesopotamia.

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SKU: 978-1-906055-82-0

The novelty of this monograph on David and Bathsheba (2 Sam. 11 —12) lies in its placing the narrative in the context of the behaviour of nomadic warlords and Amorite tribal chieftains as reflected in several Akkadian texts from Mari and Mesopotamia. The biblical story is interpreted in the light of an Akkadian literary topos depicting the ideal warlike existence of a Bedouin tribal chieftain. According to this topos, David’s dallying with women, and eating, drinking and living in the shade rather than leading armies into military exploits would be considered unworthy of a warlord and disparaging to his reputation.

Another new feature in this book is the explanation of the treatment that King David inflicted on Uriah the Hittite, a ‘resident alien’ according to the rabbis, in the light of the outrage that a high official of a Pharaoh committed upon a resident-alien in El-Amarna times. There seems to have existed a non-written ancient Near Eastern law about the obligation of protecting and not harming resident aliens. As evidenced by the El-Amarna letter 162, disregard for this law entailed a death sentence on the perpetrator of such an outrage. In 2 Samuel 11 —12 the outrage done to the resident alien is expressed through the literary motif of the abduction of the beautiful wife in the context of oppression and threat exercised by the powerful over the weak and the helpless.

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Chapter 1 A BRIEF SURVEY OF THE HISTORY OF RESEARCH Chapter 2 HISTORICAL, NARRATOLOGICAL AND COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF 1 SAMUEL 11–12 1. The Text of 2 Sam. 11.1-27 and 12.1-31 2. Setting the Stage: the Time, the Occasion and the Place 3. The Phenomenon of Inclusion between 2 Sam. 11.1 and 2 Sam. 12.26-31 3.1. The Original Inclusion 3.2. The Secondary Inclusion 4. Two ‘Females’ Besieged: Rabbah and Bathsheba 5. Siesta in the Shade 6. David Espying and Abducting Bathsheba (vv. 2b-5) 7. Bathsheba’s Name, Age and Status 8. David and Uriah (vv. 6-13) Chapter 3 THE PROPHET NATHAN ACCUSES DAVID (2 Sam. 12.1-31) 1. Nathan’s Parable of the Poor Man’s Ewe-Lamb 2. The Capture of Harems Between Tribal Chiefs 3. The Epilogue (2 Sam. 12.26-31) Chapter 4 AN AKKADIAN LITERARY TOPOS: THE BEDOUIN IDEAL OF THE WARLIKE EXISTENCE 1. The Nomadic Life – ‘La vie nomade’ 2. The Literary Topos in a Letter of Šamši-Addu to his Son Yasma-Addu (ARMT I 69 + M. 7538) 3. The ‘Warriors’ Manifesto’ in the Babylonian Poem of Erra 4. The Warlord Ideology in the Epic of Zimri-Lim 5. Woman at Childbirth Likened to a Warrior in a Middle Assyrian Incantation Chapter 5 A BRIEF ACCOUNT OF THE HISTORY OF MARI AND THE IMPORTANCE OF THE AMORITES FOR BIBLICAL STUDIES 1. The Archaeological Discovery of Mari 2. How to Explain the Rise of the City of Mari in a Desert Area 3. The Amorite Nomads Settling in Mari 4. The History of Mari and the Main Amorite Rulers 5. The North Syrian Amorites and the Arameans Chapter 6 DAVID’S CRIME: OUTRAGING THE RESIDENT-ALIEN 1. The El-Amarna Letter EA 162 2. The Analysis of the Term ubarum ‘Resident-Alien’ 3. Was Uriah the Hittite a Native Israelite or a Resident-Alien? 3.1. Opinions of Rabbinic Authors 3.2. Modern Onomastic Studies of the Name Uriah 4. Hittites in the Bible Chapter 7 THE RETRIBUTION PRINCIPLE IN 2 SAMUEL 12 AND ITS AMORITE AND ANCIENT NEAR EASTERN BACKGROUND 1. The Crime That Brings Pollution 2. The ‘Retribution Principle’ – Not a Hebrew Invention 3. The Amorite Worldview Based on the Retribution Principle 4. The Retribution Principle in the So-Called Weidner Chronicle 5. The Retribution Principle in the Poem of Erra 6. The Retribution Principle in Hittite Texts 7. The Retribution Principle in Greek Texts 8. The Retribution Principle in Egyptian Texts 9. When Could The Story of the House of David Have Been Written? Chapter 8 THE ‘WIDOW’S TABLET’ FOR THE WIFE OF AN ASSYRIAN WAR PRISONER AND THE RABBINIC ‘DIVORCE LETTER’ OF THE HEBREW WARRIORS Introduction 1. The ‘Divorce Letter’ of Hebrew Warriors 2. The ‘Widow’s Tablet’ for the Wife of an Assyrian War Prisoner 3. How to Bridge the Chronological Gap Between the Two Documents?

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  1. Jeremy Hutton, Review of Biblical Literature.

    All in all, this volume is both fascinating and thought-inducing. Its primary audience should be scholars and students interested in the history of the interpretation of Samuel, although it will also undoubtedly be of interest to anyone concerned with the literary interactions between ancient Israel and the wider ancient Near East. I am pleased to recommend it as a captivating interpretation of the David and Bathsheba affair, a complex and provocative text in its own right.

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Book information

Daniel Bodi
List Price
£50 / $85 / €65
Hebrew Bible Monographs, 26
Scholars' Price
£25 / $42.50.50 / €32.50
ISBN 13 hardback
Page Extent
vii + 270
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