Column: As It Is Written . . .

King David & the Amalekite

by Patrick Henry Reardon

When—apparently in the third century before Christ—the Sefer Shemuel was divided into First and Second Samuel, its editors found a more-than-satisfactory division point at the death of Saul.

Thus, the first book ends with the Battle of Mount Gilboa, and the second begins with David learning of that battle, and thereupon realizing that he, not Saul, is now the king of Israel. The messenger bearing this news is an improbable Amalekite straggler, who presents David with Saul's crown and armband, boasting that he had given the dying Saul the coup de grace on Mount Gilboa. The messenger evidently expects David to welcome the news . . .

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Patrick Henry Reardon is pastor emeritus of All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church in Chicago, Illinois, and the author of numerous books, including, most recently, Out of Step with God: Orthodox Christian Reflections on the Book of Numbers (Ancient Faith Publishing, 2019).

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