Another rebellion. David slowly losing grip.
The Israelite grumbling is exploited into another rebellion by a guy called Sheba, which is quelled in this chapter.
The rebellion is quelled, but there are some long story threads woven in here.
We learn the fate of the 10 concubines who David inherited from Saul, and who were palace administrators, almost like the white house staff, and passed to Absalom when he was king – a sign the people were intended to take as that David was not coming back politically “dead”.
But he did come back, and ironically treated them as if Absalom was alive for the rest of their lives, ie: cared for them as widows, did not take them back again as his concubines.
This is all a feminist disaster, viewed through the standards women have now achieved, but of course by the standards of the time they faired better than many. They were probably quite noble women, daughters of local kings or land owners. Their passing from man to man was probably 90% like having a new boss as much as a new sexual partner. Such was their lot, they led lives of relative safety and ease though never escaped being political pawns and their formal personal lives were prescribed.
Joab is a great general who has won many battles but he is ambitious, and he sees the political more than the spiritual perspective. He killed a brother earlier, and David and he have the dark bond that he helped David kill Uzziah – Bathsheba’s husband.
Joab has been demoted because he killed Absalom. David seems to have been worn out by Absalom’s rebellion, and part of him no longer cares if he is King. He put Absalom’s general Amasa in charge of hunting Sheba… and Amasa took longer than needed to gather the troops.
Is Amasa disloyal? I mean, politically putting the last rebel’s general in charge of hunting the next rebel… it makes no sense. It was done because of grief, David for his son.
Joab takes matters into his own hand and kills Amasa, as he did his brother and Absalom. He is politically effective, ambitious, typical of a person in his position.
The rebellion is resolved without too much bloodshed because a wise woman in the town where Shea is hiding out bargains… save the town we’ll give you sheba. Women so often have the practical, sensible role to play in this book!
Anyway, its business as usual, David stays being king but his affairs are a mess. And its a business chapter, from a spiritual perspective, its just a working out of the human-ness and decline that Nathan the prophet declared would be David’s lot for his sin.
Maybe I’m viewing it through the lens of tiredness. Its the end of the year, the weather is hot, unpleasantly so, I just want to be on holidays.