Monday in 4th Week

II Sam 15.13-14,30; 16.5-13; Ps 3; Mark 5.1-20

The patriarchal stories of the book Genesis culminate in an extended family, the 12 sons of Jacob (who had received the new name ‘Israel’—meaning ‘He fought with God’—as a gift from God), together with their wives, children, grandchildren, living in Egypt.  The opening verses of Exodus make clear that the presence of this racially distinct family of dubious allegiance within Egypt was perceived to be a threat and the ‘Israelites’ were made slaves.

The remaining books of the Pentateuch make clear, though, that few of them thought himself an ‘Israelite’.  Their primary allegiance was to their tribe, the tribes being the descendants of those original 12 sons of the patriarch Jacob.  The slaves are brought miraculously out of Egyptian slavery into a land promised to them by God, but building a nation out of these fractious tribes was a lengthy project.  Nearly a millennium after the crossing of the Red Sea a monarchy was established to unite the 12 tribes into one nation.  

Saul, the first king, was of the tribe of Benjamin.  When David, of the tribe of Judah, became King (and the Bible tells several stories about the way that David came to displace Saul), the change wasn’t simply in the individual called ‘King’ but in the tribe of the 12 that had preëminence.   The remainder of the book called Samuel concerns the ways that David endeavoured to establish himself as the undoubted King of Israel, fending off challenges alike from members of Saul’s family and, ironically, from his own family as well. 

Posted in Daily Reflection.