From Gods to God: How the Bible Debunked, Suppressed, or Changed Ancient Myths & Legends

By Avigdor Shinan; Yair Zakovitch et al. | Go to book overview

22
A Cinderella Tale
Clues to David’s Lost Birth Story

David is first presented to readers in the book of Samuel after God has become fed up with Israel’s first king, Saul, and dispatches the prophet Samuel to anoint the new king: “Fill your horn with oil and set out; I am sending you to Jesse the Bethleḥemite, for I have decided on one of his sons to be king” (1 Samuel 16:1). Remarkably, the storyteller doesn’t bother to include anything more detailed about the family and origins of Israel’s future king. An ancestry provides evidence that the candidate’s family is known and honorable. When Saul was first introduced, the biblical storyteller was unstinting with genealogical details: “There was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish son of Abiel son of Zeror son of Becorath son of Aphiah, a Benjaminite, a man of substance. He had a son whose name was Saul” (1 Samuel 9:1–2). The prophet Samuel’s story began with a reference to his father and his genealogy: “There was a man from Ramathaim of the Zuphitesin the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Elkanah son of Jeroham son of Elihu son of Tohu son of Zuph, an Ephraimite” (1:1). Given the generous information that is provided about these two figures whose lives are so intertwined with David’s, it seems puzzling that news of David’s origins is withheld. To be sure, a feeling of incompleteness led to the missing elements being supplied in the book of Ruth, which was written much later, during the Second Temple period. That book ends with a list of the ten generations from Perez son of Judah to David (4:18–22). But

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