« AnteriorContinuar »
herds of the whole neighbourhood formed a line on the hills, and joined in loud shouts to keep them off. Occasionally a single shepherd would pursue the marauder, and tear away from the jaws of the lion morsels of the lost treasure-two legs or a piece of an ear. Such feats as these were those performed by the youthful David. It was his pride to pursue these savage beasts, and on one occasion he had a desperate encounter at once with a lion and a she-bear, the lion had carried off a lamb; he pursued the invader, struck him, with the boldness of 3 an Arab shepherd, with bis staff or switch, and forced the lamb out of his jaws. The lion turned upon the boy, who struck him again, caught him by the mane or the throat, or, according to another version, by the tail, and succeeded in destroying him. The story grew as years rolled on, and it was described in the language of Eastern poetry how he played with lions as with kids, and with bears as with lambs. These encounters developed that daring courage which His
martial already in these early years bad displayed itself against the exploits
. enemies of his country. For such exploits as these he was, according to one version of his life, already known to Saul's guards; and, according to another, when he suddenly appeared in the camp, his elder brother immediately guessed that he had left the sheep in his ardour to see the battle.? The Philistine garrison & fixed in Bethlehem may have naturally fired the boy's warlike spirit, and his knowledge of the rocks and fastnesses of Judea may have given bim many an advantage over them."
Is. xxxi. 4. Comp. Herod. vi. 31. & 2 Sam. xxiii. 14.
9 There is no satisfactory method of See Thevenot, l'oyage de Levante, reconciling the contradictory accounts ii 13; quoted by Thenius on 1 Sam. in 1 Sam. xvi. 14-23, and xvii. 12–31, xvii. 35.
55-58. The first states that David • Joseph. Ant. vi. 9, $3.
was made known to Saul and became • LXX. 1 Sam. xvii. 35 (This pápure
his armour-bearer in consequence of yos).
the charm of his music in assuaging & Ecclus, xlvii. 3.
the king's melancholy. The second ! 1 Sam. xvi. 18, xrü. 28.
implies that David was still a shep
The battle Through this aspect of his early youth, he is gradually of Ephes- thrust forward into eminence. The scene of the battle which dammim.
the young shepherd came to see' was in a ravine in the frontier-hills of Judah, called probably from this or similar encounters Ephes-dammim, the bound of blood.' Saul's army is encamped on one side of the ravine, the Philistines on the other. A dry watercourse marked by a spreading Terebinth runs between them. A Philistinel of gigantic stature insults the whole Israelite army. He is clothed in the complete armour for which his nation was renowned, which is described piece by piece, as if to enhance its awful strength, in contrast with the defencelessness of the Israelites. No one can be found to take up the challenge. The King sits in his tent in moody despair. Jonathan, it seems, is absent. At this juncture David appears in the camp, sent by his father with ten loaves and ten slices of milk-cheese
herd with his father's flocks, and unknown to Saul. The Vatican MS. of the LXX., followed by Kennicott (who argues the question at length, Dissertation on Hebrew Text, 418-432, 554558), rejects the narrative in 1 Sam. xvii. 12–31, 55-51, as spurious. But the internal evidence from its graphic touches is much in its favour, and it must at least be accepted as an ancient tradition of David's life. Horsley, but with no external authority, transposes 1 Sam. xvi. 14-23. Another explanation supposes that Saul had forgotten him. But this only solves half the difficulty, and is evidently not the intention of the narrative. It must therefore be accepted as an independent statement of David's first appearance, modified by the counterstatement already noticed.
I Variations in the common account are suggested by two other passages. (1.) In 2 Sam. xxi. 19, it is stated that Goliath of Gath, the staff of whose spear was like a weaver's beam,' was
killed (not by David, but) by Elhanan
scene may hare wit-
fresh from the sheepfolds, to his three eldest brothers, who were there to represent their father detained by his extreme age.
Just as he comes to the circle of waggons which formed, as in Arab settlements, a rude fortification round the Israelite camp,' he hears the well-known shout of the Israelite war-cry. "The shout of a king is among them.''
. The martial spirit of the boy is stirred at the sound; he leaves his provisions with the baggage-master, and darts to join his brothers (like one of the royal messengers:) into the midst of the lines. There he hears the challenge, now made for the fortieth time—sees the dismay of his countrymen-hears the reward proposed by the king-goes with the impetuosity of youth from soldier to soldier talking of the event, in spite of his brother's rebuke-he is introduced to Saul-he undertakes the combat.
It is an encounter which brings together in one brief space the whole contrast of the Philistine and Israelite warfare. On the one hand is the huge giant, of that race or family, as it would seem, of giants which gave to Gath a kinds of grotesque renown; such as in David's after days still engaged the prowess of his followers —monsters of strange appearance, with hands and feet of disproportionate development. He is full of savage 6 insolence and fury; unable to understand how any one could contend against his brute strength and impregnable panoply; the very type of the stupid . Philistine,' such as has in the language of modern Germany not unfitly identified the name with the opponents of light and freedom and growth. On the other hand is
'1 Sam. xvii. 20; xxvi. 7, A. V. 'trench
Comp. Num. xxiii. 21; Josh. vi. 5 ; Judg. vii. 20.
* 1 Sam. xvii. 22. The same word is used as in xxii, 17.
"As in 1 Sam. iv. 16, 2 Sam. Iiii. 22.
5 Josh. xi. 22; 2 Sam. xxi. 20, 22 Compare the speech of Harapha in Milton's Samson Agonistes.
6 According to the Chaldee Paraphrast, he declares hin the conqueror and slayer of Hophni and Phineas.
the small agile youth, full of spirit and faith; refusing the cumbrous brazen helmet, the unwieldy sword and shield—so heavy that he could not walk with them—which the King had proffered; confident in the new ' name of the * Lord of Hosts,'—the God of Battles—in his own shepherd's sling-and in the five pebbles which the watercourse of the valley had supplied as he ran through it on his way to the battle.? A single stone was enough. It penetrated the brazen helmet. The giant fell on his face, and the Philistine arıny filed down the pass and were pursued even within the gates 3 of Ekron and Ascalon. Two trophies long remained of the battle—the head and the sword of the Philistine. Both were ultimately deposited at Jerusalem; but meanwhile were hung up behind the ephod in the Tabernacle at Nob. The Psalter is closed 5 by a psalm, preserved only in the Septuagint, which, though probably a mere adaptation from the history, well sums up this early period of his life: This is the psalm of David's own writing, and * outside the number, when he fought the single combat with Goliath.'-'I was small amongst my brethren, and the ‘ youngest in my father's house.
father's house. I was feeding my father's sheep. My hands made a harp, and my fingers fitted a 'psaltery. And who shall tell it to my Lord ? He is the • Lord, He heareth. He sent his messenger and took me * from my father's flocks, and anointed me with oil of His • anointing. My brethren were beautiful and tall, but the • Lord was not well pleased with them. I went out to meet *the Philistine, and he cursed me by his idols. But I drew
See Lecture XXIII. 2 For the Mussulman legend, see Weil's Legends, p. 153.
: 1 Sam. xvii. 53 (LXX.).
4 1 Sam. xvii. 54. The mention of Jerusalem may be either an anticipation of the ultimate deposition of these relics in his Sacred Tent there,
2 Sam. vi. 17, or a description of the Tabernacle at Nob close to Jerusalem, where the sword is mentioned, 1 Sam. xxi. 9.
$ Ps. cli. (LXX.) Ps. cxliv., though by its contents of a much later date, is by the title in the LXX. also against Goliath.'
• his own sword and beheaded him, and took away the re‘proach from the children of Israel.'
The victory over Goliath had been a turning point of His rise David's career. The Philistines henceforth regarded him as court of 'the king' of the land’ when they heard the triumphant songs of the Israelitish women, which announced by the vehemence of the antistrophic response ? that in him Israel had now found a deliverer mightier even than Saul. And in those songs, and in the fame which David thus acquired, was laid the foundation of that unhappy jealousy of Saul towards him which, mingling with the king's constitutional malady, poisoned his whole future relations to David.
It would seem that David was at first in the humble but confidential situation—the same in Israelite as in Grecian warfare--of armour-bearer. He then rose rapidly to the rank of captain over a thousand—the subdivision of a tribe * -and finally was raised to the high office of captain of the king's body-guard, second only to Abner, the captain of the host, and Jonathan, the heir apparent. He lived in a separate house, probably on the town 6 wall, furnished, like most of the dwellings of Israel in those early times, with a figure? of a household genius, which gave to the place a kind of sanctity of its own.
His high place is indicated also by the relation in which he stood to the other members of the royal house. Merab and Michal were successively designed for him. There is a mystery hanging over the name and fate of 8 Merab. But
11 Sam. xxi. 11.
Ibid. xviii. 7 (Heb.). Of these and of like songs, Bunsen (Bibelwerk, Pref. cl.) interprets the expression in 2 Sam. xxii. 1, not 'the sweet singer of Israel,' but “the darling of the songs of Israel.' See Fabricius, Cod. Psrulep. V. T. 906.
• 1 Sam. xvi. 21, xviii. 2. • Ibid. xviü. 13.
5 1 Sam. xx. 25, xxii. 14, as explained by Ewald, iii. 98.
6 1 Sam. xix. 11, 12.
8 In the Vatican MS. of the LXX. her whole story (1 Sam. xviii. 17–19) is omitted; and in the Hebrew text of 2 Sam. xxi. 8, the name of her sister Michal appears to have been substituted for hers.