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James the Greater

Saint James the Greater was one of Jesus’ first disciples and one of the apostles who was killed because of his faith. (The life of Christ and his ministry with the twelve apostles is listed on the Bible Timeline after 1 AD). Jesus had first called Simon and his brother Andrew to follow him. He then found the other brothers, James, and John. They were in a boat with their father, Zebedee. Jesus found the fishermen repairing their nets and told them to follow him. They got up, and they left their father behind. (Matt. 4:21; Mark 1:19; Luke 5:10)

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James was the son of Zebedee and Salome (Matt. 27:56; Mark 15:40, 16:1). He was the elder brother of John the Beloved and probably called “the Greater” because he was older or taller than James the Less. As he was one of the first disciples of Jesus, the description (epithet) “the Greater” would also make sense.

James_the_Greater
“Saint James the Greater”

An introduction of all twelve apostles can be found in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke (Matt. 10:2; Mark 3:17-18; Luke 6:14). The list included both James, son of Zebedee and James, son of Alphaeus. He and his brother John were called “sons of thunder” (Boanerges) because they were easily angered. Jesus rebuked them when the Samaritans refused to welcome Jesus as he passed through their village. The brothers had asked him if they should “call down fire from heaven to burn them up” (Luke 9:54).

Jesus was with James and John when he taught in the synagogue of Capernaum and cast out an evil spirit from a man. The brothers were also present when Jesus healed Simon’s mother-in-law and saw him heal the sick people of the town (Mark 1:21-34). James, along with Peter and John, were among the apostles who were close to Jesus as they witnessed his transfiguration (Matt. 17:1; Mark 9:2; Luke 9:28) as well as the healing of Jairus’ daughter (Luke 8:40, 51-56).

Jesus gave both James, John, their mother Salome, and the other apostles present a lesson in serving others in Matt. 20:20-24 and Mark 10:35-41. Their mother asked Jesus if her two sons could “sit in places of honor next to Jesus” and he rebuked them. Jesus would later bring James, John, and Peter with him in the garden of Gethsemane before his crucifixion (Matt. 26:37; Mark 14:33). He was also present during and after Jesus’ ascension (Acts 1:6-13).

According to the Historia Compostelana, which was published in the 12th century, James preached first in Judea and Samaria and sailed later to Spain. He came back to Judea but was sentenced to death by Herod Agrippa I (Acts 12:1-3). After his death, his body was transported by boat to the shores of Iberia (Spain) and was buried in Santiago de Compostela, a city which now bears his name. The city’s cathedral houses the relics of Saint James and has become the center of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage. The relics were authenticated by Pope Leo XIII on November 1, 1884.

References:
Orr, James. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans Pub., 1939
Maddrell, Avril, Alan Terry, and Tim Gale. Sacred Mobilities: Journeys of Belief and Belonging
Picture By Guido RenibgH3Bqotg5nTTw at Google Cultural Institute maximum zoom level, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21880518
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David and Bathsheba, How old was their son when he died?

The question: Can you tell me the age of the infant son of David and Bathsheba from their adultery when he died?

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Bethsheba

Answer: No. All we know is that Nathan the prophet was sent to David after the child was born but we do not know how long it was after he was born. We also know that the child was struck ill on that day and lived for seven days. The history is found in 2 Samuel Chapters 11-12. It is interesting that during the entire nine months until the birth of the child and Nathan’s visit David did not write any new psalms. Also, it’s interesting to me that David and Bathsheba’s fifth son, born after the death of their first, is named Nathan.

An excellent discourse on these chapters including repentance, forgiveness, the effects of sin on those around us and more can be found in Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible

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Absalom

Absalom was the third son of David and Maacah, the daughter of King Talmai of Geshur (2 Samuel 3:3). He can be found on the Bible Timeline Chart around 1029 BC. Absalom had a sister named Tamar whose rape by their brother Amnon played a crucial role in Absalom’s rebellion.

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Early Life

Absalom was one of the sons born to David in Hebron and described as a handsome man who had no rival in Israel when it comes to physical beauty (2 Samuel 14:25). Over the course of time, Absalom had three sons and one daughter also named Tamar. He was known to be a charming man who insinuated his way into the hearts of the people of Israel to gain power (2 Samuel 15:1-6).

The Rape of Absalom’s Sister Tamar and His Escape to Geshur (2 Samuel 13)

The Bible does not gloss over the mistakes and weaknesses of many of its central characters, especially the House of David. It is ironic that the meaning of Absalom’s name was “Father of Peace” when his violent deeds resulted in a struggle for the kingdom with his father David that ultimately led to Absalom’s death. The narrative started in 2 Samuel 13 when Amnon schemed with his cousin Jonadab to bring Tamar, his half-sister, and Absalom’s sister, into his quarters by pretending to be sick and have her cook for him because he lusted after her.

King David unwittingly agreed when Amnon made the request and sent his daughter to Amnon’s quarters to prepare the food. She was then raped and cast out by her half-brother. The news reached her brother Absalom and her father, David. While they both were angry with Amnon, the incident was hushed up. Absalom simmered in his anger for Amnon while David refrained from meting out justice because of his love for his oldest son. Absalom had Amnon murdered afterward. Absalom then fled to his grandfather King Talmai in Geshur for three years.

Absalom
“David fleeing from Jerusalem”

Reinstatement and Rebellion (2 Samuel 14 and 17)

David longed to see his son Absalom in spite of his crime. Absalom returned to Jerusalem after a successful scheme by Joab involving a woman from Tekoa. She told the story of her two sons who killed each other. After his reinstatement, Absalom conspired to overthrow David and declared himself king over Israel in Hebron. David had to leave Jerusalem after most of the people sided with Absalom. Meanwhile, David sent his adviser Hushai back to serve and spy on his son. To add insult to injury, Absalom also slept with his father’s wives as advised by Ahithophel, David’s former counselor.

Ahithophel also promised Absalom to kill David himself so a civil war could be averted, but Hushai fooled Absalom and counseled against a direct assassination. Hushai suggested that they gather an army and go to an open war with David and his men. The news of the attack reached David, and they were able to escape. He assembled his men to prepare for a battle against his son but instructed his commanders and the soldiers not to harm Absalom.

Death (2 Samuel 18)

During the battle, Absalom got his hair caught in the branches of a tree. He was killed by Joab and was deeply mourned by David when news of his son’s death reached him. Absalom was buried in Ephraim’s Forest where Joab’s men threw his body into a deep pit and put piles of rock over it (2 Samuel 18:17).

References:
Picture By William Brassey Hole – http://www.orientalism-in-art.org/David-fleeing-from-Jerusalem-is-cursed-by-Shimei.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20344164
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Israel, Wars with

 The Consequences of Disobedience

Israel was greatly protected by God, but through disobedience, they experience many wars and hardships. This event is recorded on the Bible Timeline Chart between 1004 BC and 904 BC. It all started with exogamy or marriage outside of the ethnic group. This was generally frowned upon and even expressly forbidden in Israel in the ancient times (Deuteronomy 7:3-4). The patriarchs such as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob practiced endogamy, marriage within the group. They even went as far as marrying their own close relatives.

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The law against intermarriage with other ethnic groups that surround Israel was laid out to prevent them from worshiping other gods and ensure Israel’s fidelity to Yahweh. Israel was not chosen because of any special attributes it might have, but simply because of God’s love (Deuteronomy 7:7-11). This covenant was made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, so the people must keep it or there will be consequences as shown in the Books of Judges and Kings.

Israel_War
“Solomon sinned by acquiring many foreign wives. Solomon’s descent into idolatry, Willem de Poorter, Rijksmuseum.”

The command to unconditionally obey the Lord was also passed by David to his son in 1 Kings 2:1-4, but Solomon was led astray because of his marriage to foreign women. It was said that he married 700 wives of royal birth (which included an Egyptian princess) and had 300 concubines. They led him to worship and build shrines to other gods in the Canaanite pantheon such as Chemosh, Ashtoreth (Astarte), and Molech (Moloch). The consequences of this particular disobedience were reaped by Solomon’s descendants firsthand.

God warned Solomon to turn away from worshiping other gods but the warning fell on deaf ears. As a result, God promised to tear the kingdom away from Solomon’s son and give a portion of it instead to one of Solomon’s own servants. God still honored his covenant with David by leaving a piece of the kingdom to Solomon’s son where his dynasty reigned over the years.

Jeroboam, King of Israel and Rehoboam, King of Judah (1 Kings 11:26 to 1 Kings 14)

Similar to Kings before him, Jeroboam was appointed ruler over Israel through a prophecy. Jeroboam worked for Solomon as a foreman on one of his building projects. However, a meeting with the prophet Ahijah would change his life forever. After tearing his new cloak, the prophet gave Jeroboam 10 pieces of the scraps which symbolized the ten tribes of Israel, thus fulfilling God’s warning to Solomon before he died. Solomon tried to kill Jeroboam after this prophecy and Jeroboam fled to Egypt afterward.

Solomon died years later and his son Rehoboam now held the throne. As the person who threatened his life was now dead, Jeroboam was compelled to come back to Israel and fulfill the prophecy. Meanwhile, Rehoboam was not doing very well as king either. Solomon’s extensive building projects required heavy labor from the people he employed and at Rehoboam’s ascension as king, they petitioned the newly-crowned ruler to lighten their load.

Instead of following his father’s advisers who told him to grant the request of his people, Rehoboam followed the counsel of his friends and rejected the pleas of his own people. This sowed the seeds of discord in his own house resulting in a rebellion, fulfilling God’s warning and Ahijah’s prophecy. The 10 tribes which broke away from the House of David then elected to make Jeroboam as their king.

Descent into Civil War

Rehoboam mobilized an army of 180,000 men from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin (1 Kings 12:21) but was thwarted when the prophet Shemaiah told them not to fight their own brothers. Rehoboam’s counterpart in the northern kingdom was also busy making himself gold calves to prevent the people from worshiping in Jerusalem.

Jeroboam had made Shechem the capital of the northern kingdom of Israel and had the gold calves installed in Dan at the northern end of Israel and South in Bethel. In his insecurity, he committed a list of sins that may have surpassed or equaled Solomon in his worship of other gods.

Ahijah prophesied Jeroboam’s downfall in 1 Kings 14:1-19 while Rehoboam and the people of Judah were also busy making themselves Asherah poles and sacred pillars. The Egyptian pharaoh Sheshonq I (the Biblical Shishak) raided Jerusalem during Rehoboam’s reign. There were also constant wars between the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah during both kings’ time. Jeroboam outlived two kings of Judah and the few remaining years of his reign overlapped the reign of King Asa of Judah (1 Kings 15:1 and v 9). Wars between the two kingdoms continued until the reign of Baasha of Israel and Asa of Judah.

References:
Picture By Willem de Poorterhttp://www.rijksmuseum.nl/collectie/SK-A-757, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=34249416
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Israel, The Twelve Tribes of

The name Israel first appeared in Genesis 32:28 after Jacob wrestled with God at Peniel and reiterated in Genesis 35:9 with a promise of great blessings. Jacob was given the name Israel which in Hebrew means ‘he struggles with God’ and the group of people descended from him were called Israelites. The Twelve Tribes of Israel is recorded on the Biblical Timeline Chart between 1254 BC – 1004 BC. 

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Division of Tribal Lands in Canaan

The Israelites wandered for 40 years in the Sinai desert before they were allowed by God to defeat the Canaanites who had already settled in the land. By mid-1200 BC and under the leadership of Joshua, the Israelites had conquered most of the Promised Land, and the displaced ethnic groups included the following:

Hittites
* Girgashites
* Amorites
* Canaanites
* Perizzites
* Hivites
* Jebusites (although this tribe was still in Jerusalem during the time of David [2 Samuel 5:6])

Joshua 14 gives us a detailed account of the division of lands between the tribes of Israel. With the exemption of the tribe of Levi, who received only towns for their livestock to graze in due to their duty as priests (Numbers 18:24). Joseph received his inheritance through his sons Manasseh and Ephraim, who were claimed by Jacob as his.

This geographical division of land among the Twelve Tribes of Israel existed from the period when judges ruled the land and into the reign of Israel’s kings. Some of the tribes or nations that remained in the area and bordered the land of the Israelites were the Philistines, Moabites, Ammonites, and Edomites who most of the time opposed and made war with the Israelites.

Twelve_Tribes_of_Israel
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Judges, Time of the

The Book of Judges chronicles the time between the chaotic period after the death of Joshua up to the appointment of Israel’s first king, Saul. This is listed on the Bible Timeline Poster between 1254 – 1104 BC. Israel, under Joshua’s leadership, had conquered much of Canaan. Except the territories of the Philistines, the Geshurites, and territories of the Canaanites “extending from the stream of Shihor on the border of Egypt, northward to the boundary of Ekron” (Joshua 13:3). A full text of territories yet to be conquered can be read in Joshua 13:1-6 and the division of land among the tribes follows that.

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Judges
Moses and the Ten Commandments

As the time of Joshua’s death approached, he gathered all the tribe leaders and reiterated God’s commandments to them. That they were not to deviate from the laws given through Moses, worship other gods except Yahweh, and intermarry with the remaining people in the land who may lead them astray. These were explicitly and repeatedly stated in Joshua 23:6-16 and 24:14-19. As shown in the Book of Exodus, as well as the succeeding books, the people of Israel were prone to be led astray. There were also several complaints and sporadic bursts of rebellion. Such as the instances when they worshiped the Gold Calf (Exodus 32), their complaints about the manna (Numbers 11:4), and the report of Canaan by the scouts (Numbers 13 and 14).

Confederation of Tribes During the Judges’ Time

The cycle of Israel’s apostasy and deliverance continued to the time of the judges when the tribes of Israel had already settled in most of the conquered lands. These territories, however, were surrounded by hostile peoples and the tribes’ failure to purge them completely was a source of the problem. The condition set out by God through Moses and Joshua was for Israel to follow the Lord and refrain from worshiping other gods, but more often than not this condition was violated, and hostile people soon took over.

List of Judges and Hostile Tribes

Hostile Tribe/Nation Judge
Aram Naharaim Othniel (3:7-11)
Moab Ehud (3:12-30)
Philistia Shamgar (3:31)
Canaan Deborah and Barak (4:1—5:31)
Midian Gideon (6:1—8:35)
Hard times under Abimelech, Tola, and Jair (9:1—10:5)
Ammon Jephthah (10:6—12:7)
Minor judges Ibzan, Alon, and Abdon (12:8—15)
Philistia Samson (13—16)
Samuel is last of the major judges including his sons (1 Samuel 8:1-7)

 

This period of chaos also produced some of Israel’s most courageous leaders and put a spotlight on Deborah, the lone female judge. It also highlights the accomplishments of Gideon, who slew thousands of Midianites and their allies with the help of just 300 Israelite men. One of the most outstanding judges was Samson, who led Israel for 20 years and delivered them from the oppression of the Philistines. He was one of Israel’s last great judges before Samuel.

The succeeding chapters after the heroic sacrifice and victory of Samson in the temple of Dagon (or Dagan, ancient Semitic deity) was of several notable stories about the life of the Israelites. Including the idolatry in the tribe of Dan and Israel’s war with the tribe of Benjamin. The time of the judges ended with the death of Samuel and the appointment of Saul as the first king of Israel.

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Israel under Midianites

Around 1229 BC, Israel found itself under the rule of the Midianites where it is recorded on the Biblical Timeline Chart. The years following the conquest of Canaan and the death of Joshua saw Israel without a ruler. The book of Judges chronicles Israel’s cycle of worshiping other gods such as

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The book of Judges chronicles Israel’s cycle of worshiping other gods (such as Baal and Asherah) to repentance during times of oppression. This led to deliverance through the leadership of various judges until the appointment of Saul as king over a unified Israel. Various nations, such as Syria or Aram Naharaim (Judges 3:8), Moab (Judges 3:12), Ammon, Amalek, Philistia (Judges 3), and Canaan (Judges 4) took turns in conquering and oppressing the people of Israel. Each time they were delivered by God when they repented. He also appointed judges who led them to victories, such as Othniel (Judges 3:7), Ehud (Judges 3:12), Shamgar (Judges 3:31), and the prophetess Deborah (Judges 4).

Israel_Peace
“An angel announces Gideon his victory against the Midianites.”

This cycle of turning away from God and repentance continued till the time of Gideon, the son of Joash from the tribe of Manasseh. He helped deliver them from the oppression of the Midianites. The Midianites and the Israelites had a long, intertwined history as Midian was one of Abraham’s son by his third wife, Keturah. The Midianites settled in the area of the Sinai peninsula and may have also settled across the Gulf of Aqaba on the west coast of Arabia.

Moses, later, moved to Midian into voluntary exile after killing an Egyptian. He then and married Zipporah, daughter of Jethro, priest of Midian. The relationship between two groups of people teetered between alliance (such as in the case of Moses’ father-in-law Jethro and his son Hobab [Numbers 10:29]) and much of the time, hostile aggression.

In Judges 6, Israel once again turned away from God and worshiped other gods. They were handed over to the Midianites. Then they suffered from economic sabotage when Midianites and allied peoples such as the Amalekites destroyed their crops. The livestock was also taken away, reducing the Israelites to starvation.

Raiding and stealing of Israelite crops and livestock was so severe that when God sent an angel to Gideon, he was found “threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress to hide the grain from the Midianites” (Judges 6:11). This went on for seven years.

The Israelites were successfully delivered from the oppression of the Midianites through the leadership of Gideon. Other judges followed, delivering the people of Israel from their enemies after Gideon’s death. It even seemed that the Midianites were completely subdued after the time of Gideon and soon faded into obscurity.

References:
http://www.britannica.com/topic/Midianites
Picture By Wolfgang SauberOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=34868324
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Saul Loses Kingship

Saul’s dethroning is recorded on the Bible Timeline Chart around 1050 BC. However, to fully understand his story, let us start from the beginning in 1 Samuel 8. This was when the disgruntled leaders of Israel met with Samuel in Ramah to insist on him appointing a king over them. Samuel was now well into old age and his sons Joel and Abijah whom he appointed as judges were deemed unfit because of their greediness for money. He was displeased with their request for a king but acquiesced after consulting the Lord, who gave him permission to grant it. Saul, from the tribe of Benjamin, was later on anointed as king over Israel.

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Saul’s Downfall

Saul started out strong, but his rash character and poor decisions ended his promising future as Israel’s king. The first instance was during the war with the Philistines when the troops of Israel were routed after a battle. Saul was at Gilgal and his impatience drove him to sacrifice the burnt and peace offerings when Samuel himself instructed him to wait for seven days (1 Samuel 10:8). The burning of the offering was a task delegated exclusively to priests (in this case, Samuel who was descended from the tribe of Levi) because of the degree of purity and holiness they were attributed to. Making Saul’s actions a severe offense to God and Samuel (1 Samuel 13).

Saul_Dethroned
“David and Saul”

The next example of Saul’s poor decision-making was during the war with the Amalekites. Through Samuel, God directed Saul to purge all the Amalekites including, their livestock. This was because they refused to allow the Israelites passage through their territory after they were freed from Egypt. Saul, however, failed in this task by sparing the Amalekite King Agag and keeping the livestock for himself and his men. Destroying only those that are of poor quality (1 Samuel 15:1-9).

The Lord was disappointed with him when he kept the plunder and Samuel admonished Saul for his disobedience. Saul added to his sins when he said that that he kept the livestock so he could sacrifice them to the Lord. This incident pushed Samuel to find a replacement for Saul as king of the new nation.

Mental Illness and Attempts at David’s Life

It has been proposed that Saul exhibited severe mental disturbance that may have contributed to his unstable personality and failed leadership. In 1 Samuel 16:14, the spirit of the Lord departed from Saul altogether, and an evil spirit tormented him. He may also have suffered from depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. Probably, as a result, of the violence he experienced during the war with the Ammonites, Amalekites, and the Philistines. David helped soothe Saul during these episodes by playing his harp.

As Saul’s behavior became increasingly erratic, he exhibited paranoia and jealousy toward David’s success and popularity. This would later drive him to make several attempts at killing David. These repeated attempts at murder would forever mar his reputation. It can even be said that he lost the kingship over Israel long before his demise. His death along with his sons on Mount Gilboa during a battle with the Philistines was the end of his reign. After his violent death, Saul was mourned by David and memorialized in a lament (2 Samuel 1:17-27).

Aftermath and Saul’s Legacy

Further violence erupted, and the young nation descended into civil war as Judah supported David as king while the northern tribes of Israel stayed loyal to the house of Saul. Particularly his son Ish-bosheth who ruled in Israel for two years. Ish-bosheth was later murdered by Recab and Baanah, his own tribesmen and leaders of his raiding band. David ruled over a united Israel and Judah after his death (2 Samuel 2-5).

Saul’s reputation as king and as a person overall was tarnished due to his unstable character and bad decisions. But he was also a mighty warrior who gave Israel some of its most important victories against its enemies during a time of chaos. He was then used by God to pave the way for David and future kings of the nation.

References:
http://www.oxfordbiblicalstudies.com/resource/priests.xhtml
http://dx.doi.org/10.4102/hts.v68i1.906
Picture By Julius Kronberg – nationalmuseum.se, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=936125
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David Subdues All Neighboring Tribes and Leads Israel Into Great Prosperity

Israel was a fledgling country during the reign of King David with enemies that surrounded the country on all sides. This part in history is listed on the Bible Timeline Poster around 1029 BC. Throughout Saul’s reign, incursions by neighboring tribes were constant, and it was no different during David’s reign. King David himself started his military career by slaying Goliath, one of the Philistines’ well-known giant warriors. 2 Samuel 8 offers a glimpse of David’s victories at the height of his reign.

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Philistia

The Philistines were mentioned in the Bible as early as Genesis 10, in the Table of Nations under Ham (Genesis 10:14). The relationship between earlier patriarchs and the Philistines was civil. It was only when Israel emerged as a nation after the Exodus from Egypt that the relationship between the two turned hostile. The Philistines emerged as their archenemies after the Israelites settled in Canaan.

These ancient people lived on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean in cities that include Gaza, Gath, Ashkelon, Ashdod, and Ekron. Raids, as well as full-blown wars with the Philistines, were common from the time of the judge Shamgar (Judges 3:31) to Samson to David. After many years of war with the Philistines, they were finally subdued by David and he took control of Gath and its surrounding villages (1 Chronicles 18:1).

David_Brings_Peace
“Matteo Rosselli, The triumphant David.”

Moab, Ammon, and Amalek

The Moabites and Ammonites lived respectively east of the Dead Sea and Jordan River; while the Amalekites settled north of Kadesh Barnea in the Negev Desert. In Deuteronomy 2:9 and 2:19, the Israelites were instructed not to harass or provoke the Moabites and Ammonites owing to their descent from Lot. The Amalekites (who were Esau’s descendants) were Israel’s enemies as early as the days of wandering in the Sinai desert (Exodus 17:8).

These three surrounding tribes, however, were used by God to turn the Israelites around each time they did evil at the time of the judges. They were still raiding Israelite towns during the time of David. After he had been proclaimed king, David subdued the Ammonites. This was following the humiliation his delegates suffered while offering sympathy to the king of Ammon from his father’s death. Hanun, king of Ammon, further provoked David by assembling a coalition of Arameans and Ammonites to attack Israel. David’s commanders of the army, Joab and his brother Abishai defeated this alliance.

The last details about David’s war with the Moabites are in 2 Samuel 8:2 and 1 Chronicles 18:2. Where he dealt with the Moabites violently after their defeat and they became his subjects. The Amalekites, however, continued to be Israel’s enemy. It culminated when the Amalekites raided Negev and Ziklag. They held captive all the women and children and carried them off. Two of David’s wives were among the captives. David and his men later pursued them and recovered the women and children (1 Samuel 30).

The Amalekites gradually disappeared from the Biblical narrative after David’s time, while the Moabites and Ammonites made intermittent incursions and waged war against Israel.

Aram

There were three Aramean kingdoms mentioned during Saul and David’s reign: Damascus, Beth Rehob, and Zobah. Arameans antagonized David in the alliance with each other and once in alliance with the Ammonites (2 Samuel 10:8). All these kingdoms were defeated by David (2 Samuel 8).

Edom

Edomites and Israelites were related through their ancestors Esau and Jacob, but the Edomites refused Israel passage through their territory on the way to the Promised Land. Furthermore, there was enmity between them during the reign of Saul. David defeated the Edomites in the Valley of Salt and made them his subjects (2 Samuel 8:12-13).

Israel’s Golden Age

David’s victories against neighboring tribes are listed in 2 Samuel 8. It could be said that this was the golden age of the fledgling nation. The tribes that were subdued became subjects who paid tribute to David and plundered goods were dedicated to the Lord. David’s influence reached north when the king of Hamath sent his own son Joram to congratulate him and give gifts. Solomon reaped the benefits of his father’s military victories when he consolidated power and ruled from the Euphrates to the land of the Philistines after David’s death (2 Chronicles 9:26).

References:
http://www.historyfiles.co.uk/KingListsMiddEast/SyriaAramaeans.htm
http://www.ancient.eu/israel/
Picture By Matteo Rossellihttp://pintura.aut.org/, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6633706
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Saul wars against the Ammonites, Moabites, Syria, Idumea, and Philistines

Israel’s journey from Egypt to the Promised Land in Canaan was long and full of battles against her neighbors. These conflicts are listed on the Bible Timeline Chart around 1079 BC. All throughout the books of Exodus, Numbers, Joshua, and Judges, Israel was surrounded by hostile peoples. Which included the Amalekites, Edomites, Amorites, Canaanites, Arameans, Moabites, Ammonites, Midianites, and Philistines. Israel’s long-standing archenemies in the region, however, were her immediate neighbors: the Ammonites, Moabites, and Philistines.

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According to the Old Testament, the Ammonites and Moabites were descended from Lot through his two daughters (Genesis 19:30-38). The Ammonites settled east of the Jordan River while the Moabites settled east of the Dead Sea. The Philistines were the Israelites’ adversaries during the years of the Judges and well into King David’s reign. The origin of the Philistines is still up for debate, but it was hypothesized that they were one of the Aegean peoples who settled on the Mediterranean coast around the same time as the arrival of the Israelites in the area.

Saul_at_War
“According to the Old Testament, the Ammonites and Moabites were descended from Lot through his two daughters (Genesis 19:30-38).”

Against the Ammonites

Saul went to war against the Ammonites, Moabites, and Philistines during the early years of his reign and was victorious against them. His first victory was against the Ammonite King Nahash. This was before Saul was even crowned the King of Israel (1 Samuel 11). The Israelites who lived in Jabesh-Gilead near the territory of the Ammonites sent a peace treaty to King Nahash, which he agreed to honor but laid out a condition that the right eye of each citizen will be gouged out in exchange. Saul rescued the people of Jabesh-Gilead after he mobilized thousands of men from Israel and Judah and launched a surprise attack against the Ammonites. The people of Israel held a ceremony in Gilgal that proclaimed him king after his victory against the Ammonites.

Against the Philistines

His next battle was against the Philistines, who lived on the west coast of the Mediterranean (1 Samuel 13). Due to the number of Philistine warriors and advanced weaponry that they used during the battle (1 Samuel 13:5, 1 Samuel 13:19), Saul, his son Jonathan, and their men were routed and dispersed. The Israelites were victorious against the Philistines later on with the help of Jonathan’s daring plan (1 Samuel 14:1-15) and the Philistine warriors’ confusion that resulted in them killing each other instead (1 Samuel 14:20).

Further Victories

Israel’s army led by King Saul was victorious later on against their hostile neighbors as summarized in 1 Samuel 14:47. He won battles against Moab, Ammon, the kingdom of Zobah (Aram-Zobah, in Syria, Edom (Idumea), and Philistia during this period.