Sunday, June 1, 2014

Wise Woman and the King

In my reading a few days ago I came across a reference to Tekoa, the writer naming it as the city from which Joab brought a "wise woman" to assist him in persuading David to allow Absalom to return to Jerusalem.

Tekoa is located about ten miles south of Jerusalem.  It is situated at the edge of the Wilderness of Judea and at the head of a valley which extends to the Dead Sea.  It was a good place for encampment before proceeding across the barrens. There are two other references to Tekoa in scripture, one in the story of David's reign where we are told that Ira, one of David's mighty men, was from Tekoa.  The other instance is well-known, for the prophet Amos was also a native of Tekoa.

You recall, or if not then you should follow the story of the reign of David as told in the books of First and Second Samuel, that Absalom had slain his elder brother, Amnon, as retribution for Amnon's raping of their sister, Tamar.  As David mourned the death of his son, the murderer fled the city, lest retribution fall upon him.  Time passes.

David loves his son, Absalom, but had made no offer to allow his safe return to Jerusalem.  And thus Joab, David's advisor, knowing that David loved his son, devised a plan to persuade the King to allow Absalom to come home.  Enter the Wise Woman of Tekoa.  Joab told her, Go to the King, and say thus and so.  She did as Joab asked, but David in his wisdom, saw through the plot and asked her plainly, Did Joab put you up to this?  Yes, she confessed.

The upshot was that Absalom was allowed to return to Jerusalem, but David would not see him, nor allow him to see the King.  And thus Absalom lived in his own home and devised a scheme of his own.  Absalom would be King!  He connived to win the hearts and minds of the people by installing himself daily at the gates, ingratiating himself to the people, politicking, in a word.

Absalom builds such a following that he overtly announces his intention to rule.  Not wanting to kill his own son, along with other considerations, David flees Jerusalem, and the plot thickens, as the saying goes.

Things to think about.

1.  Joab as advisor to the King is a principal in the rule of David throughout his reign.
[What ultimate benefit did Joab gain, and what price did he pay?]

2.  Beloved as he is by his father, Absalom manages to outrun himself.
[Do we ever take advantage of those who love us most, to our own detriment?]

3.  The Wise Woman steps on stage, plays her role, and fades into the wings.
[Like this woman, we "step on stage" for a moment only, then fade into the mists of the past.]

4.  This Jerusalem: what exactly are we talking about here?
[Interesting question.  That may come up again on STSTT.]

5.  The Bible books of First and Second Samuel, First and Second Kings, First and Second Chronicles present the history of Israel and Judah under the kings.  David's story begins about the middle of I Samuel.
[Go back and reread these very interesting histories.  No, do not tell me there are too many difficult names and too much gore.  These histories are included in the canon for your edification.]

6. As a mere footnote, we wrote about David's youngest son, Eliphalet.
[You may read this account here.]


Shelly said...

Excellent points. When we were in Jerusalem last month, we saw the ancient cemetery extending from the Mt. of Olives to the Old City walls. They told us one particular grave had been presumed to be Absaloms's for 2,000 years. Each year, people would go out and throw stones on it. When they began excavating it, they had to remove two tons of stones from it. Then they found out it wasn't Absalom's grave at all, but that of some random man.

vanilla said...

Shelly, it could go without saying, but I'll say it anyway: I envy you the trip to the Holy Land. Suspect I will not get there in this lifetime. But I still enjoy my atlases and reference works. If you catch me in an error any time I am writing about the area, call me on it. I have a map of Jerusalem on which the "Tomb of Absalom" is indicated. Maybe I should scratch that out and write "Some Unknown Guy"?