Avraham ben Yaakov
II SAMUEL CHAPTER 7
* * * The sections in II Samuel 6:1-23 and 7:1-17 are read as the Haftara of Parshas Shemini, Leviticus 9:1-11:16 * * *
"AND IT WAS WHEN THE KING SAT IN HIS HOUSE." (v 1)
".And God gave him rest from all his enemies roundabout" (v 1). David's victory over the Philistine invaders at the battle of Emek Refa'im (ch 5) brought to an end the wars that had afflicted the Israelites in their own home territories since the beginning of the period of the judges. Although David still fought many wars (as we see in Chapter 8), from now on all the battles were in enemy territory, and this was the "rest" that God gave David "from all his enemies roundabout".
The Torah commands that "when He will give you rest from all your enemies roundabout and you dwell securely. And it shall be that the place that the Lord your God shall choose to cause His Name to dwell therein ..." (Deut. 12:10) - that place ".shall you search out" (ibid. v 4).
From these verses David learned out that as soon as peace came to the Land, it was a sign that it was time to fulfill the mitzvah to build the Temple . David felt uncomfortable living in his own magnificent house built with timber sent by Hiram of Tyre while the Holy Sanctuary in Giv'on was merely a temporary structure and the Ark newly brought up to Jerusalem had no proper home. (Those who live in extravagant homes while the Temple remains in ruins should take note.) David therefore consulted Nathan the prophet - for all David's actions were based on the guidance of the prophets or the Urim VeThumim - and Nathan felt that the logic of David's understanding of the passage in Deuteronomy was compelling and told David to go ahead.
Notwithstanding this logic, Nathan's INTUITION proved incorrect, and God sent him PROPHECY that very night telling him to put the brakes on David. The rabbis taught that David was so eager that without this immediate prophecy he would have started building the Temple at once and David was the type who could well vow not to eat or drink until it was completed (cf. Psalm 132:2). Since David was not destined to build the Temple , he would have lost out badly had not God immediately sent Nathan to stop him (see RaDaK on v 2 & Rashi on v 4).
Nathan's prophecy centers on the appointment of David and his offspring for ever as the true royal house of Israel (vv 8-11), and prophesies the birth of Solomon, to whom God would be a "father" while he would be God's "son" and would actually build the House to His Name (vv 12-15). In verse 12 God announces to David that "I will establish your seed after you THAT WILL COME FORTH FROM YOUR LOINS." This is the sign that the son who would build the Temple was not Absalom or Adoniyah since they had already been born in Hebron , while the builder of the Temple had yet to come forth from David's loins. The story of the mysterious chain of events whereby the soul of the wisest man that ever lived came into the world will begin in chapter 11.
"AND KING DAVID CAME AND SAT BEFORE HASHEM." (v 18)
In response to Nathan's eloquent prophecy about the glorious destiny of the House of David, the king "sat before HaShem" - i.e. he sat in meditation and prayer before the Ark of the Covenant (only kings of the House of David are permitted to sit in the AZARA, which is the main Temple courtyard, while all others, including even the High Priest, must stand) - and there he poured forth his equally eloquent, humble prayer of praise and thanks and his supplication for future divine protection.
"AND THIS IS THE TORAH OF ADAM." (v 19)
While David's literal meaning in these words may be understood to be that he humbly recognized that his destiny as spelled out in Nathan's prophecy was fit for a great man and not a lowly one such as himself (Metzudas David, RaDaK), his words also imply that he was granted a vision of all the future generations just like Adam (Rashi on v 19), and also that David was comparable to Moses (RaDaK on v 19). Just as Moses was the greatest of the prophets, so David was the greatest of the kings. Moses took Israel out of Egypt while David released them from servitude to the nations. Moses split the Red Sea , while David split the waters of Aram Naharayim (Psalms 60:2). Moses gave Israel the Five Books of the Torah, while David gave us the Five Books of Psalms. (RaDaK ibid.)
David's prayer, with its many memorable phrases (v 23 is included in the Shabbos afternoon Amidah prayer) concludes with his supplication for God's future blessing and help - all to enhance the glory of His Name.
David had been planning the Temple since his initial flight from Saul (I Samuel 19:18 as darshened in Zevachim 54b). From this time on he studiously gathered in all the booty from his wars to Jerusalem , as described in the next chapter, in order to amass all the necessary materials to enable Solomon to build the Temple without delay on ascending to the throne.
In the last decades the Jewish people have witnessed the alarming tendency for historians to rewrite and revise established history in order to suit later opinions and points of view. Thus holocaust denial has been a favorite theme of anti-Semitic writers and publicists until this very day, while the actual history of the birth and growth of the Jewish YISHUV ("habitation") in the land of Israel hundreds of years before the Zionist Congress of Basle and the 1917 Balfour Declaration until today has been totally distorted by the Arabs and their supporters in the mass media and academia worldwide.
Likewise it appears that the true greatness of the Israelite empire and sphere of influence as established by David and Solomon, which stretched "from the river [Nile] to the river [Euphrates]" and endured for much of the period of the later kings, was long ago willfully erased from the annals of history as presented by the chroniclers of the nations. Yet despite what seems to have been deliberate revisionism on the part of Israel 's enemies, it is possible to reconstruct a picture of the true extent and nature of this glorious empire with its sphere of spiritual and cultural influence from various passages in II Samuel, I & II Kings and Chronicles, including our present chapter.
All of the wars described in this and the ensuing chapters took place outside the boundaries of the Israelite's existing habitations. METHEG HA-AMAH in verse 1 is identified by the commentators with Gath (see RaDaK on v 1), which was the leading Philistine city since it was the only one whose ruler was called "king" (such as MELECH Achish) as opposed to "captain" (SEREN). Gath was indeed part of the tribal territory of Judah but had for centuries fallen under Philistine occupation until the time of David.
His campaign in Moab and the harsh punishment he meted out there (v 2) were in revenge for the killing of his parents by the king of Moab (see Rashi here and on I Samuel 22:4).
The people over whom king Hadad-ezer (vv 3ff) ruled were Arameans - descendents of Noah's son Shem - who originally dwelled in eastern Turkey and Armenia and subsequently migrated in waves southwards into Mesopotamia and westwards from the Euphrates in the direction of the Mediterranean . The Arameans comprised a number of different streams (including the family of Abraham's brother Nahor and of Laban and Bilaam), and their language, Aramaic, was the lingua franca of the entire region. Laban's agreement with Jacob as described in Genesis 31:44-53 was a covenant demarcating their respective spheres of influence.
It was only during the period of the Judges that the Arameans migrated into what is now Syria and Lebanon , where they rapidly built up their city-based principalities into strong metropolises that wielded power over extensive belts of territory. Throughout the period of the kings of Israel , the Arameans were one of the main scourges from which the nation suffered.
From various verses in our present text and in the parallel account in Chronicles we can piece together a picture of David's wars against Hadad-ezer, whose home-base of Tzova was in the BIK'A ("valley") of Lebanon , while his sphere of influence extended to Damascus . David's breaking the legs of the Aramean horses (v 4) was designed to make it impossible for them to use their main military resource in future as well as to avoid taking the horses for himself, which would have violated the Torah prohibition against the king's "multiplying horses" (Deut. 17:16). David placed Israelite garrisons in the Aramean territories in Lebanon and Syria , thereby turning them into Israelite colonies (v 6). These territories (including the Golan heights) had large Israelite populations throughout the periods of the First and Second Temples and well after the Jewish exile from Israel . In the language of the Mishneh and Talmud, these territories are collectively called "Suria" (= Syria ). Had David conquered them AFTER completing the conquest of all the territories comprising the actual Promised Land , Syria would also have been incorporated into the Land and all of the MITZVOS TOLUYOS BA-ARETZ (agricultural and other commandments that apply in The Land) would also have been applicable in Suria. However, since David's conquest of Suria came BEFORE the conquest of all of the Promised Land, these laws do not apply there in full but only partially. The roots of the present conflict between Israel and Syria over the Golan Heights and Lebanon lie in David's conflicts with the Arameans millennia ago.
As indicated earlier, David transported all the gold, silver and copper and other booty captured in his wars to Jerusalem in readiness for the building of the Temple .
"And David made a NAME when he returned from striking Aram ." (v 13). The rabbis taught that the NAME that made David famous among all the surrounding nations came in virtue of his unique behavior in his foreign wars (long before the "Geneva Convention"). Whereas other nations would leave their slain enemies lying on the battlefield for the vultures to eat, David had his generals BURY them with dignity (see I Kings 11:15), just as the Israelites are destined to bury the fallen hordes of Gog and Magog in time to come (Ezekiel 39:13).
David's placing of garrisons in the territory of the Edomites and his turning them into a subject nation (verse 14) signifies the end of the World of Devastation in which the kings of Edom (= the "broken vessels" of Sheviras HaKelim) ruled before there was a king over the Children of Israel (Genesis 36:31), thereby initiating the order of TIKKUN (repair). "And David ruled over all Israel ." (v 15).
".And David practiced justice and charity to all his people" (ibid.) It was precisely this "justice and charity" that constituted the repair. The Talmud asks what kind of justice it is that involves charity - surely strict justice and kind charity are opposite attributes? The answer is that a legal PESHARAH ("compromise" = WIN/WIN) is a judgment that is sweetened with kindness and charity (Sanhedrin 49a). Instead of fighting one another, people were willing to make concessions, and this is what leads to true peace within the nation.
BACK TO KNOW YOUR BIBLE HOMEPAGE
By Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum
© AZAMRA INSTITUTE 5767 - 2006-7 All rights reserved