Rest, then Centralization

In II Samuel 7:13, the Deuteronomist wants to emphasize that Solomon would build a house for God’s name. P. Kyle McCarter, in his Anchor Bible commentary on II Samuel, maintains that the Deuteronomist applies the zera (seed) of v 12 to Solomon, even though the “seed” originally referred to David’s entire dynasty, not just Solomon.

Why would the Deuteronomist want to focus so much on Solomon? McCarter refers to Deuteronomy 12 and Deuteromistic passages, which may shed light on the issue (191, 217). Deuteronomy 12 states the following:

You shall not act as we are acting here today, all of us according to our own desires, for you have not yet come into the rest and the possession that the LORD your God is giving you. When you cross over the Jordan and live in the land that the LORD your God is allotting to you, and when he gives you rest from your enemies all around so that you live in safety, then you shall bring everything that I command you to the place that the LORD your God will choose as a dwelling for his name: your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and your donations, and all your choice votive gifts that you vow to the LORD. (Deuteronomy 12:8-11, NRSV)

The order that Deuteronomy 12 prescribes is (1.) Israel gets rest from all her enemies, then (2.) worship in the central sanctuary. Centralization of worship comes after rest, according to Deuteronomy 12.

Why did the Deuteronomist think God forbade David to build the temple? I Kings 5:3-5 puts the following words in Solomon’s mouth:

“You know that my father David could not build a house for the name of the LORD his God because of the warfare with which his enemies surrounded him, until the LORD put them under the soles of his feet. But now the LORD my God has given me rest on every side; there is neither adversary nor misfortune. So I intend to build a house for the name of the LORD my God, as the LORD said to my father David, ‘Your son, whom I will set on your throne in your place, shall build the house for my name.'”

For the Deuteronomist, David couldn’t build the temple because there wasn’t complete rest under him. But Israel had rest from her enemies in the time of Solomon, so he could build the temple. The Deuteronomist is adhering to the pattern of Deuteronomy 12: rest, then centralization.

Of course, the problem is that II Samuel 7:1 says the LORD granted David rest from his enemies. Yet, vv 9-11 treat God granting Israel rest from her enemies as future. I wonder how McCarter handles these verses. Many see Israel’s “rest” from her enemies as a Deuteronomist concept. It first appears in Deuteronomy 12:10. It also pops up in the Deuteromistic History, in Joshua 21:44 and 23:1. Those passages say that Israel got rest immediately after the Conquest, but we see from Judges that this didn’t last long. But my impression of McCarter (which could be wrong) is that he views II Samuel 7:9-11 as pre-Deuteronomic. How can he do this, when these passages mention “rest”?

I’d like to do two things. Maybe I’ll get to them tomorrow. Maybe I won’t entirely:

1. I want to see how McCarter handles the verses in II Samuel 7 that talk about “rest” from enemies, a Deuteronomic concept.

2. I want to look at Moshe Weinfeld’s treatment of “rest” in Deuteronomy and the Deuteromistic History.

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.
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