Friday, September 27, 2019

II Samuel 17-18

Chapter 17:

Before we get into this chapter, I think we're going to need a character review.

King David: Long backstory. God's #1 ride or die. He was once a humble musician for King Saul. The gig came with more attempted murder than a musician typically expects, but luckily Saul had the aim of a storm trooper.  Eventually the entire Saul family dies without David having to lift a hand against them. Very convenient.

Absalom: King David's son. He once killed his eldest half brother for raping their sister. Israel loves this guy. I love this guy. He has very kissable hands. Now, Absalom is trying to take the throne from his father. This book wants me to root against him but this book and David can suck a pillar of salt because I'm team Absalom all the way baby.

Ahitophel: Once David's counselor, known for giving good advice. Absalom kidnaps him which I'm fine with.

Hushai: David's spy, planted to give Absalom bad advice and ruin his judgment.

Zadok and Abiathar: David's priest spies. Don't get your hopes up. They're not going to be interesting.

Jonathan and Ahimaaz: Zadok's sons. That's not mentioned in the book. I had to look that up. You're welcome.

I recommend you make index cards to quiz yourself on these names before you keep reading.


Ahitophel gives good advice to Absalom because that's his thing. He suggests the way for Absalom to win the throne is by attacking David and his followers while they are tired and unprepared wandering the desert. Everyone agrees this is a very good idea.

For no real reason at all, Absalom wants Hushai's opinion. Hushai, a stranger with no qualifications. Absalom wants to make sure both sides get an equal say despite both sides not having equal qualifications or education in the matter.

Hushai, the human form of a Russian facebook ad, suggests they blow any surprise or advantage. He says not to underestimate David or his men, that they are unstoppable murder machines "'as fierce as a wild bear robbed of her cubs'" and could be hiding in a cave and ambush them.

Hushai's alternative dumb plan is to ruin any element of surprise and alert all of Israel that Absalom needs fighters and attack David later. You know, so he has time to rest, plan, and hear about any attack, and I don't know...ambush them.

Everyone decides Hushai's plan is better because "God made them."

Sometimes people have the freewill to do evil and they face the consequences for that, maybe and sometimes God makes them do things evil things, and they still face consequences for that. I assume this book has a nihilist perspective that good and evil are relative concepts and everything is ultimately meaningless.

Anyway, Hushai passes the inside information to the spy priests, Zadok and Abiathar. He tells them that David and his men should continue on past the fords. You know the fords. Just in case Absalom and his men wisen up and listen to the qualified counselor and send men out right away.

The priests pass this info onto a "female servant" who gets no name. FS is supposed to pass this onto Jonathan and Ahimaaz who for all we would have known are random dudes but thanks to my extra effort which exceeds the effort of the writers of this book, we know they are Zadok's sons. However, while female servant is continuing the endless game of telephone, the sons are spotted. Why is the priest dad trusted but his sons aren't? Reasons.

The sons have to go on the run, they hide in a well to hide from their pursuers and make it out safely. Alls well that ends well.

They pass the info onto David.

Ahitophel is so bummed people don't take his advice, he literally goes home and kills himself. I'm not joking.

"'When Ahitophel saw that his advice had not been followed, he saddled his donkey and set out for his house in his hometown. He put his house in order and then hanged himself.'"

Chapter 18:

David and Absalom's men are ready to rumble. David wants to go out and fight but his men remind him that his is a politician now and must let other people die for him. David asks that they be gentle with his son Absalom. He has a different approach to fatherhood than Saul did.

There is a forest battle. It is not described because this is not Lord of the Rings but maaaaybe there are still ents?:

". . . the casualties that day were great-twenty thousand men. The battle spread out over the whole countryside, and the forest swallowed up more men that day than the sword."

David's men find Absalom and wouldn't you know it, something goes wrong. Absalom's hair gets caught in a tree (fucking ent) and holds him there as his donkey abandons him. Two men argue about what to do. One wants to murder and one wants to listen to their king. Murder wins out as it so often does in this book:

"Joab said, 'I'm not going to wait like this for you.' So he took three javelins in his hand and plunged them into Absalom's heart while Absalom was still alive in the oak tree. And ten of Joab's armor-bearers surrounded Absalom, struck him and killed him.'"

And once again a likable character in this book is taken from us too soon.

The soldiers bury his body in the forest. According to this book's logic, they disobeyed the king chosen by God and killed one of the family members of the king chosen by God, both things David avoided doing and punished other people for doing so. Ergo, if this book is consistent, they will definitely be punished. Definitely.

When they deliver the news of victory to David, he asks about this son and a soldier with zero bedside manner breaks the news:

"'May the enemies of my lord the king and all who rise up to harm you be like that young man.'" 

David reacts with emotions instead of stoicism which is refreshing. He goes to his room to cry and wishes he had died instead of his son.

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