I am a king. Truly, I am! At first I find it hard to believe, and I wipe my eyes in wonder, and try to convince myself of this puzzling fact, because when you dream about ascending to the throne for as long as I have, you learn to suspect what you see, because it may still be the lingering effect of your fantasy, even if to you it seems real. Of course I have no throne to speak of, not yet, because I cannot inherit anything that belonged to my predecessor.
Alas, my kingdom is limited to a small, insignificant province, I mean, to the territory of my own tribe, Judea. The elders of Israel, who represent the other eleven tribes, show no signs of accepting my rule. They insist that to them I am a criminal, a traitor who joined forces with the enemy. They are unreasonably stubborn, which forces us into a bloody, unnecessary civil war.
Are they blind? Can’t they see how much easier it would be for all concerned, had they relented? It is my goal—illusive as it may be—to minimize our casualties. This goal keeps me out of reach of Saul’s court, and his property. I don’t mind steering clear of it, because after all, not much is left.
The House of Saul has collapsed. His palace is in ruins, its contents looted by our people as well as the Philistines. Since his defeat at Mount Gilboa, not a single piece of furniture has been recovered and brought here from his court, which matters little to me. My taste is more refined, and much more expensive than his. Immediately following my hasty coronation in the city of Hebron I find myself so bored with military skirmishes as to delegate the pleasure of fighting to my first in command, Joav.
Which gives me the luxury of turning my attention to what I enjoy most: beauty. My secret pleasure—besides women—is creating the loveliest throne room plunder can buy. So this morning I sharpen my quill and begin writing a message to the renowned craftsmen in the Phoenician city of Sidon, north of the border. They are experts at producing dyes, by means of breaking the shells of tens of thousands of sea snails to extract a precious gram of pigment, which must be prevented from degrading in the sun, and tended to with the utmost care, for which only they know the secret, having perfected it over many years. This skill, combined with their unequaled art of embroidery, is just what I need for embellishing the decor in this place. I would pay any price for that bluish purple indigo dye, because it is so rare as to become the mark of royalty.
I must persuade them, with just the right phrases, to come here to my compound, in this God forsaken minor province, and take measurements for curtains, pillows, armrests and other fineries. No one would be better than them at the task of adorning this place with exotic fabrics, so it may look fit for the ruler of a future empire.
To my dismay I find it impossible to set my mind on my composition, because as a married man I must attend, first and foremost, to the needs of my family. Taking care of one woman is difficult enough. Multiply that triple fold, and you will come close to understanding what I am going through.
Clamoring for my attention, here come my precious sweethearts.
“A new decor would be nice, my lord. Truly, I have nothing against it,” says my wife, Abigail. “But how about a personal gift, I mean, a little something for your servant? A purple dress? Wouldn’t it look deliciously attractive on me?”
And when I say nothing, she goes on to promise, “It’ll make me be good, so good to you, in ways you’ve never even imagined before, which in turn may inspire my lord to write something new, perhaps a psalm for your servant, to be admired by all of us here, and by every cultured person in the entire country.” She always peppers her talk with my lord and your servant, which is pleasant to hear most of the time, but at this particular moment I find it somewhat overbearing. So in turn I yawn, which prevents me from thinking of a quick way to brush her off. To remind me how much I love her, Abigal quotes my best lines, which I wrote for her at the beginning of our affair.
“My beloved is mine and I am his,” she breathes in my ear. “He browses among the lilies. Until the day breaks, and the shadows flee. Turn, my beloved, and be like a gazelle, or like a young stag on the rugged hills.”
I have to admit, “That’s a pretty good line, if I say so myself! It has become so famous as to be claimed by every man in the land as his own.”
Before I can go back to my writing, my other wife, Ahinoam of Jezreel, leans over my desk with her newborn baby.
With motherly pride she bounces him this way and that in her arms. “You know me,” she says. “Unlike that other wife of yours I’m modest, much too modest to ask anything for myself.”
“Thank goodness,” say I, with a sigh of relief. “But then again, what about your son, Amnon?”
“What about him?” “He’s your first born, dear, the fruit of your loins,” she says, with a sudden blush.
“I suppose he is,” say I. “So?”
Ahinoam puts Amnon in my arms, wanting me to coo at him. “I don’t want to put any ideas in your head,” she says, “but—” “Then, don’t!”
“But, but won’t he look adorable, and ever so princely, in a cute little purplish suit?”
“I’m too busy for chitchat, don’t you see?” I tell her, trying to subdue the tone of complaint in my voice.
“And,” I go on to say, “adorable as he may be, I’m not going to squander my hard earned booty, and on top of it let tens of thousands of sea snails be crushed into extinction, just for a trifle, for a baby suit, which he’ll soon outgrow.”
“That would be such a waste,” says Abigail, nudging Ahinoam, ever so gently, away from me. “On the other hand, if you’d find it in your heart to buy your servant a new gown, I promise: I’m never going to outgrow it!”
“Oh darling,” says Ahinoam, under her breath. “It would be quite a challenge to get any bigger than you already are.”
Which Abigail pretends not to hear. Batting her eyelashes, she blows a little kiss in my direction and says, “The expense is well worth it, my lord. Really, it’s just like saving money.” Meanwhile, my new bride, Maacha, elbows her way between both of them.
“Splurging is something I truly appreciate,” she says, “but why would you do it for simple women, women who don’t have a drop of royal blood flowing in their veins? They’re commoners. I’m not!”
To which I say, “I have nothing against commoners. I’m one of them.”
Abigail smiles. “Thank you, my lord.”
At that, Maacha stamps her foot. “Did you hear that? She admits being a maid. I’m a princess!”
And Ahinoam jeers at her, “Who cares? You’re not even one of us, are you?”
When you read a memoir created by somebody else other than the author, you are bound to question the accuracy of that tale. Indeed, many readers may know the story of David and Bathsheba, through their reading of religious books, including the Bible and even those books that are written in the original book, written in Hebrew. The latter was read by the author and as she read through years since he was younger, she became intrigued by David...Her enthusiastic research and subsequent publishing of books centered on David are not only amazing but a significant contribution to the literary historical genre...
Though I knew much about David from my own reading and through sermons, I realized that for the most part, the story of Bathsheba is usually not taught, and especially not discussed. It therefore occurred to me, who early in life, found the King James Version a "bit much" for expecting all people to understand and learn what we were supposedly to learn from the Book.
Reading this trilogy in contemporary English, therefore, has been a delight as not only does it cover basic Bible information, but successfully surrounds that basic story with an elaborate setting, dialogue and characters beyond those you may know, and more importantly, as the author decided to do, to show that what was written may be directly applicable to each of us living today...
Here's the thing though, reading these books in contemporary English, allows you to see the good, the bad, and the ugly, of the lives of those who now reside in various books, including the Bible. For instance, we see changes that have occurred culturally that would negate the use of the Bible as a role model...
Take for instance, David's love of women--having wives as well as concubines historically found at that time. Somewhere along in history, well after the Bible was published, at least in America, it was decided that one man and one woman should be the basic religious home, directly contradicting the Bible...
But let's look deeper into David and Bathsheba, the two main characters in this book. As recently as this month, in talking about the books I was reading, I was told..."but Bathsheba seduced David..." It was very clear to me that this individual had either been taught, or had molded her opinion of the scripture to suit her thoughts about the type of man David must have been to be considered favored by God...
Yet, for me, the story, as written, made a significant point to me. No matter how much we want to follow God and his guidance, we still are human and fall prey to our own desires. David did desire Bathsheba...so much so, that he gave orders to ensure that Bathsheba's pregnancy was not known, and when that failed, ordered her husband's death...
Could God love us even in failing to follow His word? This story certainly supports that as truth. But what of Bathsheba? Was she guilty? Or was it David who did what it took to fulfill his own lust? And again, Bathsheba--was she able to forget that her lover had not only impregnated her, but then killed her husband to hide their guilt...
As a book reviewer, I realized a long time ago that, as a Christian, we should be able to read and learn from other books about the stories in the Bible and other holy books. If our faith is not strong enough to question, as Thomas did, we should try to understand why that is...
This trilogy is not religious. The story has been translated from Hebrew into Contemporary English that flirts with the American language that many of us do not appreciate, but is certainly reflective of today. Poznansky's research and study of the material is written as if she was writing her own memoir. She knows the material inside and out and has gifted us with an exciting and realistic fictional representation of how David came to take a married woman and then arranged the murder of a woman who had grown to be, perhaps, the only woman he ever really loved... The book is fascinating, thought-provoking, and revelatory... It may be just the book you should read if you've ever questioned why this story is included in holy scriptures...
Highly recommended--and for some it may be a must-read...it was for me...