Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
2 Samuel 2 – The Lord tells David to go into Judah, to the town of Hebron, a very important city to the south and west of the Dead Sea. He goes with two of his wives—Ahinoam of Jezreel (his first wife) and Abigail of Carmel (formerly wife of Nabal – see 1 Samuel 25). There David is anointed king over the house of Judah. The tradition of 2 Samuel is different from the account in 1 Samuel 16:1, where Samuel goes out in search of the shepherd boy whom God has chosen to be the king.
Abner, Saul’s military commander takes Saul’s only surviving son, Ishbaal (Ish-bosheth in Hebrew) and makes him king over Gilead (Israel east of Jordan). Mahanaim is the main town there and it is from here that Ishbaal is set up as king over all Israel, but he reigns for only two years. Only the district of Judah follows David and he rules from Hebron.
Abner suggests to Joab, David’s nephew and commander of his army, that they meet at a pool at Gibeon (north of Jerusalem), and have twelve young men from each side meet in combat to see who will win the civil war (2:15). David’s men win after a very fierce battle. As they are in retreat (I think), one of Joab’s brothers (Asahel), pursues the defeated commander Abner. Abner tries to warn him off, but Asahel continues to threaten him, and Abner ends up killing him. He knows this will mean that Joab or one of Joab’s family will have to avenge him (2:23). Sure enough, Joab and another of his brother’s, Abishai, pursue Abner.
The Benjaminites, whose province they are in at Gibeon, rally around Abner. Abner goes all night and half the next day across the Arabah (rift valley of the Jordan) to Mahanaim. After taking position to defend themselves once again, Abner goes out and calls out to Joab: “Do we have to go on fighting forever? Can’t you see that in the end there will be nothing but bitterness? We are your relatives. How long will it be before you order your men to stop chasing us?” (2:26). Because of this appeal, Joab agrees to stop pursuit; he gathers his men and they return. They bury Asahel at the family tomb at Bethlehem. Then they return to Hebron.
Mark 7:1-13 – The Pharisees notice that Jesus and his disciples are not observing some of the traditions Jews ordinarily observed, in this case, washing hands and foods from the market before eating. The Pharisees observed “traditions” as well as the Law and tried to see to it that others did as well. Jesus does not criticize the tradition, but rather the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees by quoting Isaiah: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.’ (Is. 29:13) [The NRSV translates the passage as follows: ‘these people draw near with their mouths and honor me with their lips while their hearts are far from me, and their worship of me is a human commandment learned by rote;’] The specific thing he seems to direct his ire at is like the example he gives: they know the Law requires them to honor father and mother; but they use the tradition of “corban” (dedicating things—possessions—to God to avoid sharing them with their parents) They use God’s law to avoid doing God’s law or twist reason to do their own wills. “And you do many things like this,” he says to end (7:13).