Rest in II Samuel 7

I raised some questions about “rest” in II Samuel 7 in my post, Rest, Then Centralization. It turns out that P. Kyle McCarter believes all the references to “rest” in II Samuel 7 are Deuteronomic. That would include vv 9b-11a. V 10 is especially of interest:

“And I will set up a place (maqom) for my people, for Israel, and I will plant it, and it will dwell in its place, and it will not be agitated again. Sons of unrighteousness will not again afflict it as formerly.”

This is my translation of the verse. McCarter argues that the “place” is the central sanctuary, whereas most contend that it refers to the Promised Land. But didn’t God already plant the Israelites in their land? A.A. Anderson says in his Word Commentary that the verse means God will keep Israel safe under David and his dynasty (121).

For McCarter, the verse means that God will establish a central sanctuary that will not be disturbed, as it was formerly. McCarter applies the “sons of unrighteousness” to Hophni and Phinehas (I Samuel 2:11-26). The Deuteronomist says that the priestly line of Eli will come to an end (I Samuel 2:27-36), which occurs by the time the temple is built, since, a little bit before that, Zadok replaces Abiathar, the descendant of Eli (I Kings 2:26-27, 35b). McCarter states, “In the new sanctuary, we are assured, such corruption [(that of Eli’s sons)] will not take place” (Anchor Bible 204).

I wonder if the Deuteromistic History ever criticizes the priesthood, or if it reserves its criticism for others: the king, the people of Israel, etc. Moreover, could the part of v 10 about the sons of unrighteousness refer to the Philistines’ destruction of Shiloh before Israel had a king (Psalm 78:6; Jeremiah 7)? While the judges failed to protect the central sanctuary, the rationale would run, the king would safeguard it. Would that imply that II Samuel 7:10 is pre-exilic, since the Jerusalem temple was destroyed, thereby invalidating v 10 (at least apparently)? Maybe, but not necessarily: If a king behaves as a good Deuteronomist Davidic king should behave, the Deuteronomist may think in the back of his mind, then the temple will not be destroyed. I don’t know.

I asked yesterday about II Samuel 7:1, which states that God gave David rest all around from his enemies. Does McCarter view this as Deuteronomic? If so, how would he reconcile that with I Kings 5:3-5, which says rest came under Solomon, whereas David was a man of war? McCarter believes that the part of II Samuel 7:1 about rest was a post-exilic insertion into the text, for he notes that I Chronicles 17 (which interprets and revises II Samuel 7) in the parallel verse (v 1) does not mention rest, and Chronicles was written after Samuel (191). So McCarter doesn’t think the “rest” belongs in II Samuel 7:1, meaning the Deuteronomist did not write it, and Dtr’s being consistent with his claim in I Kings 5:3-5 that true rest came under Solomon, which is why he and not David built the temple.

A.A. Anderson disagrees, for he says that the Chronicler may have omitted the part about “rest” because there are wars in later chapters. “God granted David rest, but there are still wars? That doesn’t make any sense!,” A.A. Anderson’s Chronicler is thinking, as he deletes “rest” from his retelling of the story.

Personally, I like the “rest” in II Samuel 7:1: David has defeated his enemies, and he’s relaxing. Then he thinks that maybe God deserves a temple as fancy as David’s palace. The rest provides David with an opportunity to think about building a temple. But the problem is that, if the “rest” of II Samuel 7:1 is from the Deuteronomist, who’s big on “rest,” then the Deuteronomist may be contradicting what he says in I Kings 5:3-5: Solomon not David will build the temple because rest finally exists under Solomon.

At the same time, McCarter says that rest was fulfilled in a preliminary way by the Conquest, but that true rest came under Solomon. I posted yesterday references to Joshua that refer to rest after the Conquest. Couldn’t the rest of II Samuel 7:1 also be preliminary?

That reminds me of what I was reading today in Moshe Weinfeld’s Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomic School: For the Deuteronomist, the king is the one who truly implements the moral law of the Torah for Israelite society. During the time of the Judges, it’s chaos! Joshua did it somewhat, but he was a semi-royal figure. So, for Weinfeld, the monarchy was the best institution to safeguard Israel’s religion and worship. Previous people could do a halfway decent job on occasion, but not as well as the monarchy (170-171). Even in the time of Joshua, things could be pretty ad hoc, as when all of Israel gathered against their fellow Israelites across the Jordan for building another altar, when that wasn’t what the Transjordanian Israelites were doing at all (Joshua 22)! Before there was a king, centralization (when it was enforced) was enforced in a chaotic manner. For the Deuteronomist, that changed when Israel had a king!

Here’s another thought: Maybe Solomon built the temple because he was the only king who ruled over a time of complete and perfect rest, which, according to the Deuteronomist, was a prerequisite for the building of the temple. But the rest did not last, for wars occurred after Solomon’s death. Centuries later, the exile occurred, a dramatic disruption of Israel’s rest from her enemies. Could that be why the Deuteronomist emphasizes Solomon so much in II Samuel 7:13, and I Kings 8: he was the only king who had true rest?

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
This entry was posted in Bible, Papers, Religion. Bookmark the permalink.