Wednesday, June 12, 2013

King David as a leader in Tsiklag

11 June, 2013
Every year on the first Sunday in June, the twelfth graders in Israel sit their final exam in Bible - Tanach. One of the passages that they have to face in their exam is unseen. This year they had to read 1 Samuel 30 and answer questions about the text.
We recently had elections in Israel and after every election there are always accusations about people who paid for votes. In the Hebrew language there's a word for it – bribe - which, according to the Hebrew Bible, blinds the eyes of the wise.
In the aforementioned chapter there's a crisis after some of the people of Tsiklagצִקְלַג - were captured by the Amalekites, a people who were supposed to have been destroyed by the hands of Saul according to 1 Samuel 15.  These were the days prior to the tragic death of Saul in his battle with the Philistines, the days when David was still planning how to become the leader once Saul was out of the picture.
There are three major moves that David undertook in order to establish himself as the next leader of the Israelites. Firstly, when he heard what happened to Tsiklag, he came to the city and, along with his men, cried with the city's people, as written:
"When David and his men came to the city, behold, it was burned with fire, and their wives and their sons and their daughters had been taken captive.  Then David and the people who were with him lifted their voices and wept until there was no strength in them to weep" (1 Samuel 30:3-4)
וַיָּבֹא דָוִד וַאֲנָשָׁיו אֶל-הָעִיר וְהִנֵּהשְׂרוּפָה בָּאֵשׁוּנְשֵׁיהֶם וּבְנֵיהֶםוּבְנֹתֵיהֶםנִשְׁבּוּוַיִּשָּׂא דָוִד וְהָעָםאֲשֶׁר-אִתּוֹ אֶת-קוֹלָם-וַיִּבְכּוּ: עַדאֲשֶׁר אֵין-בָּהֶם כֹּחַ לִבְכּוֹת."
It's really important to emphasize that David had his reasons to cry, since his two wives were captured as well. However, when we read this passage through a modern-day lens, our minds might drift to President Obama or other leaders that have gone to visit the people of a city when a disaster happens. Though the reaction of the people was violent - many wanted to stone him - I'm sure that some of them saw him as a true leader who had empathy for them.
In the next passage, we can see David as a religious leader, who asked God, with the help of the "ephod", what to do-
"Then David said to Abiathar the priest, the son ofAhimelech, “Please bring me the ephod.” So Abiatharbrought the ephod to David. David inquired of the Lord, saying, “Shall I pursue this band? Shall I overtake them?” And He said to him, “Pursue, for you will surely overtake them, and you will surely rescue all.”(1 Samuel 30:7-8)
"וַיֹּאמֶר דָּוִד אֶל-אֶבְיָתָר הַכֹּהֵןבֶּן-אֲחִימֶלֶךְ הַגִּישָׁה-נָּא לִי הָאֵפוֹד;וַיַּגֵּשׁ אֶבְיָתָר אֶת-הָאֵפוֹדאֶל-דָּוִד.וַיִּשְׁאַל דָּוִד בַּיהוָה לֵאמֹראֶרְדֹּף אַחֲרֵי הַגְּדוּד-הַזֶּה הַאַשִּׂגֶנּוּ;וַיֹּאמֶר לוֹ רְדֹף כִּי-הַשֵּׂג תַּשִּׂיג וְהַצֵּלתַּצִּיל."
David was able to rescue the people who were captured because he was wise enough to know that God would help him defeat the Amalekites. He had only 600 soldiers, and in the end, 200 of them didn't fight when they were left behind. However, David had the hand of God on his side and God’s approval, thus the Amalekites were defeated and only 400 of them escaped. 
The question after the war was about the spoils - who would get them? The 400 warriors wanted the spoils for themselves, but the future King had different plans, as written:
"וַיָּבֹא דָוִד אֶל-צִקְלַג וַיְשַׁלַּח מֵהַשָּׁלָללְזִקְנֵי יְהוּדָה לְרֵעֵהוּ לֵאמֹר:  הִנֵּהלָכֶם בְּרָכָה מִשְּׁלַל אֹיְבֵי יְהוָה."  
"Now when David came to Tsiklag, he sent some of the spoils to the elders of Judah, to his friends, saying, “Behold, a gift for you from the spoils of the enemies of the Lord"(1 Samuel 30:26)

David mourns?
David gave the spoils not just to the 200 warriors who were left behind, but also to the elders of Israel in every place that he roamed when he had to flee from King Saul. Whether this was a bribe or not, we can't say for sure since Biblical commentators were relatively quiet on this subject. Our study today has been an examination of some of David's actions before the people chose him to be king. As I've said before - to me David was a brilliant leader, a savvy politician who simply knew exactly what to say and do in order to get elected. 

To cry
The spoil


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