Saul, the first king of Israel, anointed by Samuel, died at the hands of the Philistines at Beit Shean. After a “long war between the house of Saul and the house of David” (II Sam 3:1) David prevailed and with the conquest of Jerusalem he moved his capital from Hebron. When the Ark of the Covenant was brought to Jerusalem, Jerusalem became both the religious and political capital of the Twelve Tribes of Israel.

Although he did not build the Temple, David purchased the threshing ground of the Jebusite king Arunah, on the top of Mount Moriah, where the First Temple would be built by Solomon. Destroyed by the Babylonians, the Second Temple would be built on its ruins

David was born in Bethlehem and as a young man was secretly anointed by Samuel to succeed Saul. As a young shepherd he overcame the much feared Philistine, Goliath, incurring Saul’s praise and jealousy. Forced to flee to the wilderness he gathered a loyal band of followers who were instrumental in assuring his ascension to the throne after Saul’s death.

During the forty years of his reign his conquests included the kingdoms of Aram (Syria) to the north, Ammon and Moab to the east. He made political alliances with the kings of Tyre (Phoenicia) and Geshur and, with the decline of Egypt, made Israel a major player in the area between the Nile and the Euphrates.

His private life was stormy and full of intrigues and the narrative in the Hebrew Scriptures (the Old Testament) makes no attempt to hide his faults and sins. Although he had a number of wives, Bathsheba, whom he married after arranging the death of her husband, Uriah, in battle, was his favorite and he promised her that her son, Solomon would be the next king.

His oldest son Amnon was killed on the orders of his second, and favorite, son Absalom, who later led a revolt against David only to be killed by David’s trusted friend and general, Joab. Next in line, Adonijah, decided to ensconce himself as king even before the death of his father. Hearing of this Bathsheba reminded David of his promise to her. David decided to abdicate and Solomon was hurriedly anointed at the spring of Gihon by the prophet Nathan and the High Priest Zadok.

Known as a poet and musician many of the Psalms are attributed to David and, in the Jewish tradition, the Messiah, when he comes, will be of the House of David.

Text content copyrights: Bein Harim Ltd., Beryl Ratzer (www.ratzer.com)

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