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Wednesday, April 23 2014
2 Samuel 4: The Assassination of Ishbosheth
"How much more, when wicked men have slain a righteous person in his own house upon his bed? shall I not therefore now require his blood of your hand, and take you away from the earth?"
The Israelite civil war in the time of David and Saul (Israel actually had a number of civil wars, before and after their split into two kingdoms; see the Fact Finder question below) began with David avoiding Saul because David did not want to be a king killer of his own people (see 1 Samuel 21: Why Didn't David Kill Saul?, 1 Samuel 24: The Cave Of The Wild Goats Incident and 1 Samuel 26: The Raid On Saul's Camp). The first part of the war was therefore fought with David based in a refuge in Philistine territory (see 1 Samuel 27: David The Philistine Warrior and 1 Samuel 29: Where Is Palestine?).
When King Saul was killed in battle with the Philistines, without any involvement by David (see 1 Samuel 31: Saul's Last Stand and 2 Samuel 1: How The Mighty Have Fallen, along with his would-be successor Jonathan (who would very likely have been a very good king - if Saul hadn't lost the monarchy to himself, and therefore to his heirs; see 1 Samuel 14: Jonathan's Sweet Victory and 1 Samuel 15: Saul's Impeachment), Abner, the commander of Saul's army, appointed a surviving son of Saul, Ishbosheth, to be the king of Israel. Like most modern-day generals, Abner's position and rank depended on a favorable head of the regime. Abner had Ishbosheth made king for the benefit of Abner. All of the tribes of Israel followed Ishbosheth, except "the house of Judah followed David."
"2:8 But Abner the son of Ner, captain of Saul's host, took Ishbosheth the son of Saul, and brought him over to Mahanaim; 2:9 And made him king over Gilead, and over the Ashurites, and over Jezreel, and over Ephraim, and over Benjamin, and over all Israel.
With Saul dead, David was free to fight the war to win. The first battle was a decisive victory and rout for David (see 2 Samuel 3: The War Between The Houses of David and Saul) and the war continued always in David's favor: "Now there was long war between the house of Saul and the house of David: but David waxed stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul waxed weaker and weaker." Eventually, Abner defected to David, along with most of Israel's army.
With the military and political situation rapidly crumbling around them, two of Ishbosheth's remaining army commanders, Rechab and Baanah, assassinated their king in his own palace - and brought his head to David.
"4:1 And when Saul's son heard that Abner was dead in Hebron, his hands were feeble, and all the Israelites were troubled. 4:2 And Saul's son had two men that were captains of bands: the name of the one was Baanah, and the name of the other Rechab, the sons of Rimmon a Beerothite, of the children of Benjamin: (for Beeroth also was reckoned to Benjamin: 4:3 And the Beerothites fled to Gittaim, and were sojourners there until this day.)
David had spent the first part of the war on the run because he desperately wanted to not be a king killer. David's hatred for traitors and assassins remained strong for the rest of his life. When David saw what the traitors had done, "David commanded his young men, and they slew them, and cut off their hands and their feet, and hanged them up over the pool in Hebron. But they took the head of Ishbosheth, and buried it in the sepulchre of Abner in Hebron." As any good chess player knows, opposing kings are never to be touched - only checkmated.
"4:9 And David answered Rechab and Baanah his brother, the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, and said unto them, As the LORD liveth, who hath redeemed my soul out of all adversity, 4:10 When one told me, saying, Behold, Saul is dead, thinking to have brought good tidings, I took hold of him, and slew him in Ziklag, who thought that I would have given him a reward for his tidings: 4:11 How much more, when wicked men have slain a righteous person in his own house upon his bed? shall I not therefore now require his blood of your hand, and take you away from the earth?
Fact Finder: Did Israel actually have a number of civil wars - before and after they split into two separate kingdoms?
This Day In History, April 23
215 BC: A temple was built on Capitoline Hill (one of the "seven hills of Rome") dedicated to Venus Erycina.
1014: Brian Boru, high king of Ireland, was killed while fighting Viking invaders at the Battle of Clontarf.
1016: Edmund Ironside succeeded his father Æthelred as king of England.
1348: The first English order of knighthood, the Order of the Garter, was founded.
1500: Pedro Cabal claimed Brazil for Portugal.
1563: Construction of El Escorial began in Spain by Philip II (a Hapsburg).
1616: English playwright William Shakespeare died. Born on this date in 1564, he died on his 52nd birthday.
1625: Frederick Henry became Stadtholder (ruler) of the Netherlands after the death of Maurice of Nassau.
1633: The League of Heilbronn was established. It united South German Protestants with Sweden and France against the Catholic League and the Imperialists.
1635: The first public school in New England, Boston Latin School, was founded in the English-built city of Boston, Massachusetts.
1661: King Charles II of England, Scotland and Ireland was crowned in Westminster Abbey.
1823: Aaron Arrowsmith died at age 73. The British geographer and cartographer published many fine maps and atlases.
1851: The first Canadian postage stamp, the Three-Penny Beaver, was issued.
1891: Jews were expelled from Moscow, Russia.
1918: The British Navy under Admiral Keyes raided the German submarine base at Zeebrugge.
1941: King George of the Hellenes and the Greek government fled the Greek mainland from the advancing Germans; the Greek army also formally surrendered to Germany and Italy.
1945: The Russian army liberated the Sachsenhausen and Ravensbrueck concentration camps.
1950: Chaing Kai-shek evacuated Hainan, leaving mainland China to Mao Zedong and the communists.
1963: Itzhak Ben-Zvi died. He was the second President of Israel, one of the 37 signers of the declaration of the present-day state of Israel in 1948 (see A History Of Jerusalem: The British Mandate, A History Of Jerusalem: Zionism and A History Of Jerusalem: War And Peace).
1969: Sirhan Sirhan was sentenced to death for assassinating Robert Kennedy. The sentence was later reduced to life imprisonment.
1985: Coca-Cola changed its sugar and caffeine formula and released "New Coke." Consumer response was so overwhelmingly negative that the original formula was back on the market in less than 3 months.
1997: The presidents of Russia and China signed a declaration opposing the domination of one superpower in the post-Cold War world.