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|Samuel wanted to retire, so he passed his lucrative judgeship to his sons who were corrupt and turned aside after filthy lucre, as the Men's Bible complains. The Israelites prevailed upon Samuel to appoint a king, like all the other nations had, in hopes that somehow a king would be less corrupt than a judge. (?) Brilliant. Even Samuel knew this was a patently stupid idea, and he warned them that a king would be even more likely than a judge to practice corruption. But you know the Israelites- they whined and gnashed their teeth and complained until Samuel said, "OK, already, I'll find you big babies a king!"
The selection process proceeded pretty much like a beauty contest, with a guy named Saul from the tribe of Benjamin being appointed pretty much on the basis of his outstanding looks and unusual stature.
|Saul spent his reign fighting a fairly successful guerilla war with his son Jonathan against the dreaded Philistines and virtually all neighboring nations. But when the influential Samuel's allegiance shifted, the Israelites again invented trivial transgressions to explain the downfall of Saul: he sacrificed some of the looted oxen and sheep to Yahweh instead of slaughtering them all on the scene of the battle, supposedly against God's command. (1 Samuel 15:22) And Samuel said to Saul, "The lord is not as well pleased with burnt offerings and sacrifices as with one who obeys." (Who the hell can keep up with Yahweh's petty commands?!)
So, just like that Saul was out of favor, even though he graciously tried to make amends to Yahweh by slaughtering the defeated king most gruesomely. But that wasn't good enough, even though Yahweh usually enjoyed a good, gruesome slaying on his behalf. And that's how the royal house of Israel was transferred from the Benjamites to the Judahites, and is what the whole story of Samuel is really leading up to.
Now this is significant-- Samuel, the king maker, went to Bethlehem in Judah to seek a new candidate. There, Jesse presented all his sons for Samuel's consideration. They were all tall and handsome, but Samuel had made the mistake of picking on the basis of good looks with Saul. He chose David and craftily schemed to get him into the palace by suggesting his harp playing to Saul as a remedy for Saul's nagging depression.
It wasn't long before the testosterone got to overflowing again and the Israelites found themselves facing off with the Philistines in a contest that had all the immature earmarks of a school yard brawl. The Philistines challenged any Israelite who dared to fight their freakishly large grunt of a soldier, Goliath to the death, with the outcome to determine servitude for the loser's side. The womenfolk would have really been rolling their eyes over this one if the stakes hadn't been so grave.
David prevailed by using basic knowledge of human anatomy and good aiming skill. He shot Goliath between the eyes with a slingshot, which penetrated his brain and killed him. Instant hero.
|David and Saul's son Jonathan became lovers. Imagine Saul's dismay. The homophobic Israelite's son was having a torrid love affaire with the very man who was usurping him politically! If that isn't a conservative politician's worst nightmare, I don't know what is!|
|So, naturally, Saul tried to kill David. About three times. Failing that, Saul married off Malchel, his starry-eyed, young, rabidly hormonal daughter to his arch enemy. But this only made David harder to kill, because then both his love struck children protected their mutual lover from their father by lying, spying, and various subterfuges. Poor Saul just couldn't catch a break.|
|Everybody loved David. Even when Saul demanded 200 Philistine foreskins in place of the bride price for Malchel, which dirt poor David couldn't afford, David easily whored his way through that project. Saul was hoping David would get killed, but David just blew through Philistia, snipping as he went, if you get my drift.
David did eventually have to go underground for years, during which time, Malchel matured, saw through him, divorced him, and remarried. David continued to cat around, marrying at least two more women, Abigail and Ahinoam, in addition to his ongoing trysts with Jonathan and other men.
While David took refuge with the Philistines, his beloved Jonathan was killed in battle by the very same Philistines.
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