The Deuteronomic Agenda and II Samuel 7, I Kings 8

For my paper on I Kings 8:1-30’s use of II Samuel 7, as well as the Deuteronomic emendations of both passages, I’ll need to define relevant parts of the Deuteronomist’s agenda using the Book of Deuteronomy. I’ll also have to identify the Deuteronomic emendations to II Samuel 7 and I Kings 8:1-30 and state how they relate to the Deuteronomist’s agenda, and possibly his terminology. Then, I’ll want to see what I Kings 8:1-30 is doing to II Samuel 7. My point there will be that it’s subordinating II Samuel 7 to a Deuteronomic agenda.

In this post, I’ll be defining three ways in which the Deuteronomist emends II Samuel 7 to fit his agenda, bringing in I Kings 8:1-30 when I deem it necessary.

1. II Samuel 7:13a says that David’s seed (meaning Solomon) will build a house for God’s name. Such a notion conflicts with the notion of sanctuary in vv 5-6, which define it as God living in a house or tabernacle. In I Kings 8:15-20, 27, which is Deuteronomic, it is emphasized that the house is for God’s name. While David in II Samuel 7 wants to build God a house to dwell in, I Kings 8:15-20 interpret II Samuel 7 to mean that David desires to build the house for God’s name, not God himself. And v 27 explicitly affirms that no house can contain God. But there is a contrary voice in I Kings 8, for Solomon says in v 13: “I have built you an exalted house, a place for you to dwell in forever” (NRSV).

In Deuteronomy 12, 14, 16, and 26, God’s sanctuary is continually referred to as the place where God will choose to put his name. That’s Deuteronomic terminology.

2. II Samuel 7:13a says Solomon will build the temple. Although II Samuel 7 mostly talks about God building David an everlasting dynasty, the Deuteronomist in I Kings 8:14-24 interprets the chapter in a manner that stresses Solomon’s construction of the temple: that’s the promise of II Samuel 7 that the Deuteronomist in I Kings 8:14-24 keys in upon, the promise that he himself inserted into II Samuel 7.

So what’s this have to do with Deuteronomic ideology? Deuteronomy 12:8-11 states that Israel’s rest from all her enemies must precede worship at the central sanctuary, the place God will choose to place his name. And I Kings 5:3-5 has Solomon saying that David couldn’t build the temple because he was a man of war, whereas Solomon can because there is rest during his reign.

So why did the Deuteronomist believe this way? Was it just so he could explain why David didn’t build the temple, as the sources in front of him indicated? I’m getting close to writing this paper, but I’d like to take one final look at how P. Kyle McCarter says II Samuel 7 fits into the Deuteronomist’s overall ideology.

3. II Samuel 7 presents God’s covenant with David for an everlasting dynasty is unconditional: if a Davidid sins, God will chastise him, but he won’t remove him from the throne, as he did with Saul.

I Kings 8:25, however, makes the promise conditional on the Davidid’s obedience: “Therefore, O LORD, God of Israel, keep for your servant my father David that which you promised him, saying, ‘There shall never fail you a successor before me to sit on the throne of Israel, if only your children look to their way, to walk before me as you have walked before me.'”

I wonder if I Kings 8:25 is Deuteronomic. My hunch is “yes,” for Deuteronomy 17:14-20 emphasizes the duty of the king to study and obey God’s commandments, and Deuteronomy 28:36 refers to exile of the king and Israel for idolatry. There are scholars who believe there were two stages of Deuteronomy: the pre-exilic Dtr1, and the exilic Dtr2. I don’t know much about how Deuteronomy 28 is treated within scholarship, but that may be something to look into.

McCarter identifies as Deuteronomic II Samuel 7:16, 22b-26, which say that David’s kingdom will last forever, as will Israel’s rest from her enemies. Does this preclude exile? Not necessarily, in my opinion, for v 25 (which McCarter identifies as Deuteronomic) has David asking God to confirm his promise. That tells me that the Deuteronomist believes the promise is at the pleasure of God, meaning it’s not unconditional. In McCarter’s scheme, the parts of II Samuel 7 that have unconditionality are not at the hands of the Deuteronomist.

But I-II Kings does present an unconditional covenant (see Unconditional Covenant in I-II Kings), in that God doesn’t destroy Jerusalem because he wants to preserve a Davidid. Do scholars consider those passages Deuteronomic, or what?

I want to start writing my paper soon, even if I don’t have all the answers. And it won’t end sentences with a preposition, as this post flagrantly does!

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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