Monday, February 8, 2016

It's Not That Complicated: Chapter 2 - Part Three's just 1.5 pages.  I can do this.  I can do this.

Overarching Theme: Women can cause one man to act totally different! See how David responded to Abigail and Bathsheba.

"Abigail's path crossed with David's right as he was determining to commit a crime - to avenge himself against her husband Nabal, who had insulted him and refused to help his fighting men.  When she heard what he was planning, she went boldly to humble herself before a stranger, and a "prince over Israel" - who was in a rage, with his sword drawn and out for blood. Instead of scolding him for acting unreasonably and immaturely, she reminded him that the was God's man, entreated his conscience and knowledge of the law, honored him for fighting the battles of the Lord, and urged him to keep on track with his mission.  An extremely beautiful woman, she wasn't trying to charm David, but to keep him focused on his mission.  And although she didn't offer herself as a pageboy or go-fer to David, her selfless and courageous act helped keep him on the path (as well as saving the lives of all the men in her household)." [The next paragraph is David's response to Abigail (1 Sam. 25:32-34)]. (pg. 23)

"....the blockhead Nabal was saved by his wife's behavior...." (pg. 24)

Let's look at this story in a little more depth since it takes up all of 1 Samuel 25.
  • Nabal is a very wealthy shepherd on the outskirts of David's kingdom and it's the middle of shearing season. (v. 2-4)
  •  David decides that Nabal needs to pay him back for protecting Nabal's holdings and sends a messenger telling Nabal to entertain him and his men since Nabal's in the middle of shearing and already has supplies available. (v. 5-8)
  • Nabal replies that he's not giving the meat and supplies that he had ready for his shearers to David's men because he has no idea who the hell David is (v. 9-11)
  • David tells his men to arm themselves when he hears of the reply and takes 400 men to confront Nabal (v. 12-13).  
  • Nabal's men think Nabal is making a bad choice since David's troops have been defending Nabal's land and tell Abigail that David is going to go bat-shit crazy on them (v.14-17).
  • Abigail loads up the food for the shearers and rides out to meet David without telling Nabal of her plan.  David is nursing one hell of a grudge (14-22).
  • Abigail throws herself at David's feet, informs him that her husband is known to be a fool, begs him not to kill him or his menfolk and points out that this isn't really a fatal offense (v. 23-31).
  • David realizes that killing Nabal is a really, really bad idea and thanks Abigail for her sage advice.  He also accepts the food. (v. 32-35)
  • When Abigail gets home, Nabal is having a huge party and is drunk.  Abigail decided to wait until morning to tell him of her actions (v. 36)
  • Abigail tells Nabal of her actions the next morning.  He's so angered, upset, whatever that he goes catatonic or comatose and dies ten days later (v. 37-38)
  • David hears that Abigail is widowed and marries her (v. 39-42)
Let's discuss how the Botkins mess with this story, shall we?
  • The Bible mentions two character attributes about Abigail: beauty and cleverness (v. 3).  I'm thinking the cleverness mattered more than the beauty in this story.
  • When the enraged leader of your tribe shows up to kill your household, no adult woman would fall back on scolding.   Pleading, begging, bribing, flattery - these are good starting points. 
  • I'm not seeing how Abigail was trying to keep David on a path as much as she pointed out that killing Nabal - even if he was a jerk - would rise up to haunt David later.  A small difference, I know, but Abigail wasn't pushing a "dominion" worldview so much as a "this is bad karma" worldview.
  • Remember how according to the Botkins the literal reason God created woman was to be a help meet for her husband?  Remind me exactly how that fits in this story.  Abigail betrayed her husband's plan.  While that was clearly prudent, "women = help meet" isn't about prudence; it's about following your husband like a lovesick puppy while he achieves some insane goal.   
  • Abigail didn't exactly save her husband's life; the best I can do is that she pushed his death back by ten days.  She had to tell her husband that she undermined his plan and consorted with David.  This literally broke him according to verse 37.  
To me, the Nabal, David and Abigail saga is about how women make the best of the bad choices available  when trapped between an unstable rock and a crusty hard place.    I've always thought the story of David, Uriah and Bathsheba has the same theme except that Uriah seemed like a much nicer guy than Nabal or David.
"Bathsheba appeared in David's life at another point of weakness.  The battles of the Lord were still raging, but he had sent his men off to fight without him and stayed comfortably at home.  While enjoying the view from his roof, he spotted a beautiful woman, bathing in view of his house.  We don't know that Bathsheba was deliberately trying to catch the eye of the king while her husband was away, but we do know that she allowed David to commit adultery with her.  And this time, David did murder the husband.  We can only imagine what Bathsheba felt when she heard the Lord's pronouncement against David:  'You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites.  Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.' Thus says the Lord, "Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house.  And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor...[and] because by this deed you have utterly scorned the LORD, the child who is born to you shall die." (2 Sam.  12:9-14). (pgs. 23-24)

To no one's surprise, the story of Bathsheba and David is more complicated and nuanced in 2 Samuel 11 that the Botkin sisters let on.
  • It is unlikely - nearly impossible - that Bathsheba planned for David to see her bathing.  Verse 4 states that she was ritually purifying herself at the end of her period while verse 1 implies that most people would think David was still away at the battle.  Unless she had psychic powers, she had the random misfortune of reaching the point where she needed to purify herself when David was skulking on his roof.  
  • Exactly how much choice did Bathsheba have in the matter of having sex with David?  David was in control of her husband's life - as is evidenced by the fact he has Uriah killed.  Plus, David had already proven to be hot-tempered and violent during the whole Nabal affair.   She was in the same shitty spot Abigail was: give David what he wants and let your husband live OR say no to David and watch him kill your husband.  She also made the same choice as Abigail: say yes to the armed lunatic.
  • Hell, this story wouldn't have been remembered if there wasn't a hitch: Bathsheba got pregnant while Uriah was away.  David needed to cover up the affair rapidly since the punishment for adultery was death to both parties (Leviticus 20:10).
  • As conservative commentators always gloss over, David's first response wasn't to kill Uriah.  He tried - almost comically - to get Uriah to sleep with Bathsheba after Bathsheba knew she was pregnant in verses 6-17.  Uriah refuses, not because he distrusts Bathsheba, but because that's not good behavior for commanders during battle.
  • Equally problematically, David had Uriah killed by sending a whole group of soldiers into an indefensible position.
  • Unlike Abigail, Bathsheba mourns the death of Uriah prior to marrying David.
2 Samuel 12 adds some more details that are important in the story of Bathsheba as well - and that the Botkin sisters managed to miss.
  • Did Bathsheba know of Nathan's prophecy that her son would die?  Probably not.  She gave birth to a son - but he died before he was named.  This means that he died before he was 8 days old.  Nathan prophesied between the birth and death of the baby and I have a hard time seeing David sharing that information.  
  • Bathsheba mourned the loss of her baby and David comforted her.
  • Did God blame Bathsheba?  The Bible implies that she is blameless since a) she's never cursed by Nathan and b) the next son she bore of David's was Solomon - the wise king of Israel who wrote the Book of Proverbs that the Botkin Sisters are so fond of quoting.  Since David had a heap of wives at that point, a clear message was being made when Bathsheba bore David's heir - that Bathsheba was a righteous woman, not the whore made out by the Botkin sisters.
Abigail tried to save her husband by betraying his plan against David; Bathsheba tried to save her husband by giving in to David.  The real moral of the story is that David did evil things when he had no one to stop his power - not that women have power over men.

No comments:

Post a Comment