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Friday, May 9 2014
2 Samuel 20: Sheba, A Man Of Belial
"There happened to be there a man of Belial, whose name was Sheba"
Belial, a compound Hebrew word that was formed from two other Hebrew words, pronounced bel-ee, meaning failure, and yaw-al, meaning to be valuable, was a term of scorn meaning to waste one's worth. The word is used in the Hebrew Scriptures to describe people who were rebellious and lawless. In the New Testament, it's used only once - for Satan's influence (see also 2 Samuel 17: The Spirit Of Traitors).
Some examples of "sons of Belial" and "daughters of Belial."
"13:13 Certain men, the children of Belial, are gone out from among you, and have withdrawn the inhabitants of their city, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which ye have not known" (Deuteronomy 13:13 KJV; see also Deuteronomy: The Law and History Lessons By Moses)
Absalom's rebellion against his father King David was decisively over (see 2 Samuel 18: The Fall Of The Rebel Prince and 2 Samuel 19: King David's Return To Jerusalem), however the political situation was still tenuous. Another vain "son of Belial," Sheba, seized that opportunity to trigger another revolt, with the same egotistical purpose. This time, the other tribes of Israel against the king of Israel who happened to be of the tribe of Judah: "We have no part in David, neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: every man to his tents, O Israel." (see the Fact Finder question below)
"20:1 And there happened to be there a man of Belial, whose name was Sheba, the son of Bichri, a Benjamite: and he blew a trumpet, and said, We have no part in David, neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: every man to his tents, O Israel." (2 Samuel 20:1 KJV)
Unlike Absalom, who was of the tribe of Judah like his father, Sheba was of the tribe of Benjamin - the tribe of Saul, the first king of Israel that David had replaced because Saul proved himself to be foolish and unstable (see 1 Samuel 15: Saul's Impeachment and 1 Samuel 16: The Anointing Of David). Sheba of Benjamin was making an argument against Judah that others could have made against Benjamin if Saul had remained king i.e. it was a hypocritical argument that was based on nothing more than a struggle for control.
"20:2 So every man of Israel went up from after David, and followed Sheba the son of Bichri: but the men of Judah clave unto their king, from Jordan even to Jerusalem." (2 Samuel 20:2 KJV)
Upon seeing ten of the tribes of Israel forsake their loyalty to him (a situation that repeated, again, in the time of King Solomon), David took ten of his concubines (see The Wives Of King David) that he thereafter left as "widows." Was it merely a spiteful act against ten innocent women? Or were the ten concubines from the tribes that had forsaken him? Did he lose his love for them? Or did he lose his trust of them?
"20:3 And David came to his house at Jerusalem; and the king took the ten women his concubines, whom he had left to keep the house, and put them in ward, and fed them, but went not in unto them. So they were shut up unto the day of their death, living in widowhood." (2 Samuel 20:3 KJV)
David then turned his attention to defeating Sheba's revolt. David appointed his nephew Amasa, a son of David's sister Abigail, as a field commander of the battle to come.
"20:4 Then said the king to Amasa, Assemble me the men of Judah within three days, and be thou here present. 20:5 So Amasa went to assemble the men of Judah: but he tarried longer than the set time which he had appointed him." (2 Samuel 20:4-5 KJV)
When Amasa delayed, David appointed another nephew, Abishai, a son of David's sister Zeruiah - a fierce, and fiercely-loyal warrior of the king, to begin the pursuit of Sheba by David's "mighty men." So too the forces under Joab, another nephew of David, the brother of Abishai. The hunt was on for Sheba.
"20:6 And David said to Abishai, Now shall Sheba the son of Bichri do us more harm than did Absalom: take thou thy LORD servants, and pursue after him, lest he get him fenced cities, and escape us. 20:7 And there went out after him Joab's men, and the Cherethites, and the Pelethites, and all the mighty men: and they went out of Jerusalem, to pursue after Sheba the son of Bichri." (2 Samuel 20:6-7 KJV)
David's nephews were also ambitious to a lethal extreme, but at least their deadliness was against each other, in their competition to be the most loyal to David. While in pursuit of Sheba, Joab killed his cousin Amasa, "So Joab and Abishai his brother pursued after Sheba the son of Bichri."
"20:8 When they were at the great stone which is in Gibeon, Amasa went before them. And Joab's garment that he had put on was girded unto him, and upon it a girdle with a sword fastened upon his loins in the sheath thereof; and as he went forth it fell out.
Sheba, like the other rebel-liberal Absalom before him (conservatives, by definition, don't start revolutions; liberals do), quickly found himself on the run from David's royal army. When he took refuge in Abel-beth-maachah, Joab laid siege to the city, with the intention of destroying it and everyone in it because of their giving asylum to Sheba. The inhabitants saved themselves and their city by delivering Sheba to Joab, or at least "his head shall be thrown to thee over the wall."
"20:14 And he went through all the tribes of Israel unto Abel, and to Bethmaachah, and all the Berites: and they were gathered together, and went also after him. 20:15 And they came and besieged him in Abel of Bethmaachah, and they cast up a bank against the city, and it stood in the trench: and all the people that were with Joab battered the wall, to throw it down. 20:16 Then cried a wise woman out of the city, Hear, hear; say, I pray you, unto Joab, Come near hither, that I may speak with thee. 20:17 And when he was come near unto her, the woman said, Art thou Joab?
So ended the revolt by Sheba. Once again, David became stronger from the war that he was forced to fight.
"20:22 Then the woman went unto all the people in her wisdom. And they cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri, and cast it out to Joab. And he blew a trumpet, and they retired from the city, every man to his tent. And Joab returned to Jerusalem unto the king.
Fact Finder: Why did Israel's civil wars tend to happen between Judah and the rest of the tribes of Israel?
This Day In History, May 9
1092: England's Lincoln Cathedral was consecrated.
1386: England and Portugal signed the Treaty of Windsor, pledging "permanent alliance and friendship."
1450: Timurid ruler 'Abd al-Latif was assassinated. He was succeeded by his cousin Abdallah Mirza.
1502: Christopher Columbus left Cadiz, Spain, on his fourth and last voyage to "America" (i.e. the islands of the Caribbean Sea; see the map at Thanksgiving In History and Prophecy). While Columbus was away, his employer, King Ferdinand of Spain, was beginning the murderous Spanish Inquisition against non-Catholics all across Europe.
1657: William Bradford, English pilgrim governor of Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts for 30 years, died (see also The Pilgrims).
1671: Thomas Blood, the Irish adventurer popularly known as Captain Blood, stole the crown jewels from the Tower of London.
1793: Scottish explorer Alexander Mackenzie began his famous journey from Fort Chipewyan on Lake Athabasca in Canada. He eventually reached the Pacific Ocean by way of the Bella Coola River, becoming the first European to cross North America using a route north of Mexico.
1864: During the Second War of Schleswig, the Danish navy defeated the Austrian and Prussian fleets in the Battle of Heligoland.
1901: Australia opened its first Parliament in Melbourne.
1915: The Battle of Artois during the First World War began (listen to our Sermon The European World Wars). When it ended 18 days later, 216,000 men had been killed or wounded.
1927: The new city of Canberra replaced Melbourne as the capital of Australia.
1936: Italy formally annexed Ethiopia; King Victor Emmanuel was proclaimed emperor of Ethiopia.
1945: The Theresienstadt concentration camp in Czechoslovakia was liberated by the allies; to it had been sent the so-called "privileged Jews", holders of the Iron Cross first class or better and 50 percent disabled war veterans. Of the 141,184 people sent there, more than 88,000 were gassed, including 81 year old Adolfine, sister of Sigmund Freud (Freud, old and dying of cancer, had been ransomed from the Nazis and brought to England). 3 other of Freud's sisters were murdered: Pauline, 80, and Marie, 82, in Treblinka, and Rose, 84, in Auschwitz.
1946: King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy abdicated. The monarchy was replaced by a republic.
1962: A laser beam is successfully bounced off Moon for the first time.
1965: Lunar 5, an unmanned Soviet spacecraft, was launched toward the moon from a rocket already in Earth's orbit. It later crashed on the moon rather than making the projected soft landing.
1970: During the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam civil war, 100,000 war protesters demonstrated in front of the White House.
1974: During the Watergate criminal investigations, the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee opened impeachment hearings against President Richard Nixon.
1978: The body of former Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro was found in the trunk of a car; he had been kidnapped and murdered by the Red Brigades.
1979: Iranian-Jewish businessman Habib Elghanian was executed by firing squad in Tehran, resulting the mass exodus of the once 100,000 member Jewish community of Iran (Iran was known as Persia until the 1930s; see Esther: The Lots Of Purim).
1983: Pope John Paul II announced the reversal of the Catholic Church's 1633 condemnation of Galileo Galilei, the scientist who correctly taught that planets go around the sun - the "infallible" papacy said that Galileo was wrong (listen also to our Sermon Constantine's Papacy).
2002: The 38-day stand-off in the "Church of the Nativity" in Bethlehem ended when the Palestinians inside agreed to have 13 terrorists among them deported to several different countries.