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David's Secret Demons : Messiah, Murderer, Traitor, King (The Bible in Its World)
Baruch Halpern

0802844782 Retail Price: $20.00
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Format: Paperback,  492pp.
ISBN: 0802827977
Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
Pub. Date: March 2004

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About the Author
Table of Contents
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From The Publisher:

Biblical tradition portrays King David as an exceptional man and a paragon of godly devotion. But was he? Some scholars deny that he existed at all. Did he? This challenging book examines the textual and archaeological evidence critically in an effort to paint an accurate picture of one of the Bible's central figures.

A leading scholar of biblical history and the ancient Near East, Baruch Halpern traces the development of the David tradition, showing how the image of David grew over time. According to Halpern, David was the founder of the dynasty that progressively exaggerated his accomplishments. Halpern's clear portrait of the historical David reveals his true humanity and shows him to be above all a politician who operated in a rough-and-tumble environment in which competitors were ready literally to slit throats.

David's Secret Demons explores a number of provocative questions:

Did King David actually exist?
Was David an Israelite or a Philistine?
Was Solomon really David's son?
Did David take the throne of Israel by the consent of the people?
How many murders did he commit on his way to the throne?
Are the biblical texts about David reliable?

Challenging, well argued, and written with accessible, at times humorous prose, David's Secret Demons will provoke discussion by scholars and general readers alike.


Halpern (Jewish studies, Pennsylvania State Univ.) has given us a scholarly, fascinating, and controversial study of the figure of David in the Hebrew Scriptures. He does not doubt the actual existence of a historical figure named David, as does Thomas Thompson in his Early History of the Israelite People (Brill, 2001). However, he argues that the historical David was a far different person than the one pictured in 1 and 2 Second Samuel. The controversial nature of this study can be seen in the title of one of the chapters: "King David, Serial Killer." Halpern presents a close textual analysis of the stories about David in 1 Samuel 8 through 2 Samuel 1, along with a special study of 2 Samuel 8. He builds his case around the idea that there were two sources, identified here as A and B, which were used for the final versions of 1 and 2 Samuel. While Source A shows some of his faults, Source B is a kind of whitewashing apology for David in order to justify the kingship of Solomon and his successors. The real David, Halpern thinks, was a ruthless individual who was willing to murder or have murdered all of Saul's family so that he could secure the throne. Sure to receive much scholarly attention,Halpern's work can be profitably read by lay persons and scholars alike. Recommended for both public and academic libraries.
—Library Journal, David Bourquin, California State Univ., San Bernardino Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


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About the Author

Baruch Halpern, who received a Ph.D in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from Harvard University in 1978, holds the Chaiken Family Chair in Jewish Studies, a program he created, at Pennsylvania State University and is also professor of ancient history, classics, and ancient Mediterranean studies, and religious studies. Since 1994, he has been co-director of the archaeological expedition at Megiddo in Israel.

Halpern's previous appointments include a professorship at York University in Toronto (1976-1992) and visiting positions at the University of California, San Diego (1979, 1986, 1991), the Institute for Advanced Studies of the Hebrew University (1983-1984), and the Hochschule fόr Jόdische Studien and University of Heidelberg (1998-1999).

He has held fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities at the Albright Institute for Archaeological Research, from the Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung at the Universities of Munich and of Heidelberg, and from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Halpern's other books include The Constitution of the Monarchy in Israel (Scholars Press, 1981), The Emergence of Israel in Canaan(Scholars Press, 1983), The First Historians: The Hebrew Bible and History (Harper & Row, 1988), and Law and Ideology in Monarchic Israel(co-editor with D.W. Hobson, Sheffield Academic Press, 1991).

Table of Contents

Part IDavid in Writing
1The Surprising David3
2David's History in the Books of Samuel14
Part IIPenetrating the Textual Veil
3Dating 2 Samuel57
4King David, Serial Killer73
Part IIIDefining David's Empire
5How to Take Up What Kings Set Down107
6Reading David's Conquests133
7Settling the Philistine Question: 2 Samuel 8:1144
8The Conquest of Moab: 2 Samuel 8:2160
9David and Hadadezer: 2 Samuel 8:3 and the History of the Ninth Century164
10David in the North and in Transjordan: 2 Samuel 8:3-11187
11The Date and Reception of 2 Samuel 8199
122 Samuel 8 and the Historicity of the Davidic State208
Part IVA Historical Overture to David's Career
13The Relative Chronology of David's Reign229
14Geography of the Davidic State243
Part VA Life of David
15David's Youth263
16David and Saul280
17On the Hot Seat in Hebron295
18Rising Over Zion317
19Bringing Home the Ark333
20David's Wars345
21Absalom's Gift357
22The Aftermath of Absalom's Revolt382
23The Archaeology of David's Reign427
General Index of Select Topics481
Index of Scholars Cited488

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