Questions to Consider
1. Is there one ideal type of leader? (Consider in light of the above passage- is there one ideal season?)
2. In what way must a leader match the needs of his/ her time period?
3. Do you think God chooses individuals who already have the necessary strengths for the job, or does He choose individuals who have the potential to lead well? What is the benefit of each of these approaches?
(18) And the LORD answered Moses, “Single out Joshua son of Nun, a man with spirit in him, and lay your hand upon him. (19) Have him stand before Eleazar the priest and before the whole community, and commission him in their sight. (20) Invest him with some of your authority, so that the whole Israelite community may obey. (21) But he shall present himself to Eleazar the priest, who shall on his behalf seek the decision of the Urim before the LORD. By such instruction they shall go out and by such instruction they shall come in, he and all the Israelites, the whole community.” (22) Moses did as the LORD commanded him. He took Joshua and had him stand before Eleazar the priest and before the whole community. (23) He laid his hands upon him and commissioned him—as the LORD had spoken through Moses.
(2) אלהי הרוחת GOD OF THE SPIRITS [OF ALL FLESH] — Why is this expression used? (i.e., why does it not state simply אלהי כל בשר?) He said to Him: “Lord of the Universe! the personality of each person is revealed to you, and no two are alike. Appoint over them a leader who will tolerate each person according to his individual character (Midrash Tanchuma, Pinchas 10; cf. Yalkut Shimoni on Torah 776). (1) אשר יצא לפניהם ONE WHO MAY GO BEFORE THEM — not as is the way of the kings of the nations who sit at home and send their armies to battle, but as “I” have done — I who fought against Sihon and against Og, as it is said, (Numbers 21:34) “Do not fear him: “[for I have delivered him into thy hand … and thou shall do to him as thou didst unto Sihon, etc.]” and as is the way that Joshua followed, as it is said, (Joshua 5:3) “And Joshua went to him and said, Art thou for us [or for our adversaries]”. And so, too, in the case of David, it says, (I Samuel 18:16) “For he went out and came in before them” — went out at their head, and came in at their head (Sifrei Bamidbar 139:2). (2) ואשר יוציאם AND WHO WILL LEAD THEM OUT, safely through his merits, (3) ואשר יביאם AND WHO WILL BRING THEM IN, safely through his merits (Siphre). Another explanation: ואשר יביאם AND WHO WILL BRING THEM IN — I ask that You should not do to him, as You have done to me' for I may not bring them into the Land. (cf. Yalkut Shimoni on Torah 776).
Questions to Consider
1. Based on Rashi's reading, what character traits does Joshua possess?
2. How might these traits be uniquely suited to his role?
Consider as well the other places we have seen Joshua prior to his investiture: choosing men to fight against the Amalekites (military leader), waiting at the foot of the mountain for Moses (faithful attendant), staying loyal to God when the other spies slandered the land (speaking truth in the face of peer pressure).
Joshua's role is to act as the bridge, providing continuity from the people's experience in the desert to their claiming of the land. He is there to assist the people in this transition. Thus, we might expect him to echo Moses in some ways while very much being his own man in other ways.
Let us now compare Joshua's leadership to that of Moses in a variety of scenarios.
(1) The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, (2) “Send men to scout the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelite people; send one man from each of their ancestral tribes, each one a chieftain among them.” (3) So Moses, by the LORD’s command, sent them out from the wilderness of Paran, all the men being leaders of the Israelites.
(1) Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim, saying, “Go, reconnoiter the region of Jericho.” So they set out, and they came to the house of a harlot named Rahab and lodged there.
Splitting and Crossing a Major Body of Water
(15) Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why do you cry out to Me? Tell the Israelites to go forward. (16) And you lift up your rod and hold out your arm over the sea and split it, so that the Israelites may march into the sea on dry ground. (17) And I will stiffen the hearts of the Egyptians so that they go in after them; and I will gain glory through Pharaoh and all his warriors, his chariots and his horsemen.
(14) When the people set out from their encampment to cross the Jordan, the priests bearing the Ark of the Covenant were at the head of the people. (15) Now the Jordan keeps flowing over its entire bed throughout the harvest season. But as soon as the bearers of the Ark reached the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the Ark dipped into the water at its edge, (16) the waters coming down from upstream piled up in a single heap a great way off, at Adam, the town next to Zarethan; and those flowing away downstream to the Sea of the Arabah (the Dead Sea) ran out completely. So the people crossed near Jericho.
(1) The LORD spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, on the first new moon of the second year following the exodus from the land of Egypt, saying: (2) Let the Israelite people offer the passover sacrifice at its set time: (3) you shall offer it on the fourteenth day of this month, at twilight, at its set time; you shall offer it in accordance with all its rules and rites. (4) Moses instructed the Israelites to offer the passover sacrifice; (5) and they offered the passover sacrifice in the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, at twilight, in the wilderness of Sinai. Just as the LORD had commanded Moses, so the Israelites did.
(10) Encamped at Gilgal, in the steppes of Jericho, the Israelites offered the passover sacrifice on the fourteenth day of the month, toward evening. (11) On the day after the passover offering, on that very day, they ate of the produce of the country, unleavened bread and parched grain.
Taking Off One's Sandals/ Holy Ground
(4) When the LORD saw that he had turned aside to look, God called to him out of the bush: “Moses! Moses!” He answered, “Here I am.” (5) And He said, “Do not come closer. Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you stand is holy ground.
(13) Once, when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing before him, drawn sword in hand. Joshua went up to him and asked him, “Are you one of us or of our enemies?” (14) He replied, “No, I am captain of the LORD’s host. Now I have come!” Joshua threw himself face down to the ground and, prostrating himself, said to him, “What does my lord command his servant?” (15) The captain of the LORD’s host answered Joshua, “Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy.” And Joshua did so.
Conquering Egypt vs. Conquering Canaan
Conquering Egypt is a lengthy process that requires ten plagues and involves the Hebrews leaving (as opposed to taking the land for themselves). In contrast...
כיוצא בדבר אתה אומר (במדבר כז, כ) ונתתה מהודך עליו ולא כל הודך זקנים שבאותו הדור אמרו פני משה כפני חמה פני יהושע כפני לבנה
In a similar manner, you can say that God said to Moses about Joshua: “And you shall put of your honor upon him” (Numbers 27:20), which indicates that you should put some of your honor, but not all of your honor. The elders of that generation said: The face of Moses was as bright as the face of the sun; the face of Joshua was like the face of the moon.
Questions to Consider
1. What seems to be the overall trend of Joshua's leadership as compared to Moses' leadership?
2. How might we compare this to the Abraham/ Isaac relationship? (See below)
Excerpt from "The Chronicles of Isaac" by Rabbi Zvi Shimon (link)
What is the explanation for these phenomena? I believe the two points are related. The reason for the paucity of information regarding Isaac is that there is actually very little to tell. Isaac did not generate any new ideas or set any new direction. The dominant presence of Abraham in Isaac's narrative and the similarity of Isaac's narrative to Abraham's inform us that Isaac is essentially a continuation of Abraham. Abraham was a creative giant, an iconoclast who broke away from his society and etched out a new direction, a new faith. Isaac did not strike off in a new direction but rather faithfully continued his father's heritage. He was able to deepen, preserve and consolidate the spiritual inheritance of Abraham and Sarah.
This characteristic of Isaac might be the key to understanding one of the unique aspects of his life. Unlike Abraham and Jacob who spent prolonged periods in Diaspora, Isaac never left the land of Israel. In contrast to Jacob who goes to Babylon in search for a wife (28:1-2), it is Abraham's servant who brings Isaac a wife (chapter 24). As opposed to Abraham who goes down to Egypt during the famine (12:10), Isaac is commanded to remain in the land of Israel (26:1-2). He is deeply rooted in the land and scenery of Israel. In contrast to the other patriarchs who were primarily shepherds, Isaac is the first to engage intensively in agriculture. Torah relates that Isaac loves Esau because he had a "taste for game (hunting)"(25:28). As Abraham's servant returns with Rebekka, we read that "Isaac went out walking (or meditating) in the FIELD toward evening(24:63). Isaac is a real outdoorsman, a nature lover. He worships God out in the fields (see Rashi 24:63). He connects to God through nature and, more particularly, through the sights of the land of Israel.
However, Isaac's remaining in Israel does not stem only from the nature of his religious character; It stems from the essence of his personality. Isaac represents stability and continuity. His life reflects these attributes. In contrast to the tumultuous lives led by Abraham and Jacob, Isaac lives his whole life securely in Israel. The permanence of his dwelling symbolize the stability of his character. Isaac acquires a certain peace and tranquillity which none of the other patriarchs enjoyed and which have been the aspiration of so many generations of Jews. He lives 180 years, longer than the other patriarchs. His name, Isaac, stems from the root 'tzachak' (laughter) and symbolizes his contentedness.
There are those whose power stems from creativity and who strive on tension. This might be the case with the other patriarchs. Isaac's greatness is of a different nature. It is rooted in stability and in the continuation of the tradition he inherited from his father. Isaac was not only similar to Abraham in appearance or in behavior and character. Isaac's whole life is a direct continuation of Abraham's. "These are the chronicles of Isaac, son of Abraham; Abraham begot Isaac."
(2) There was a certain man from Zorah, of the stock of Dan, whose name was Manoah. His wife was barren and had borne no children. (3) An angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her, “You are barren and have borne no children; but you shall conceive and bear a son. (4) Now be careful not to drink wine or other intoxicant, or to eat anything unclean. (5) For you are going to conceive and bear a son; let no razor touch his head, for the boy is to be a nazirite to God from the womb on. He shall be the first to deliver Israel from the Philistines.”
Questions to Consider
1. Some leaders appear to be chosen based on ways that they distinguish themselves (Moses, Joshua). Others, in contrast, are chosen from birth. Why might this be?
2. What is the purpose of raising this child as a Nazirite?
As you know, Samson is a difficult character to fully understand within the Tanakh. On the one hand, he is a leader of the Israelites. On the other hand, he seems like much more of a vigilante. Additionally, he engages in behaviors that at least according to the peshat make him appear not to be following God's law. He engages in forbidden relations with a Philistine woman in Timnah, a prostitute and Delilah. He kills the Philistines not because they are bad to the Israelites but in order to take revenge. And he breaks his Nezirut (he is around dead bodies and in fact dies by suicide). How could God choose such a leader? And it is clear God *did* choose him...as evidenced below.
(24) The woman bore a son, and she named him Samson. The boy grew up, and the LORD blessed him. (25) The spirit of the LORD first moved him in the encampment of Dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol.
(ו) וַתִּצְלַ֨ח עָלָ֜יו ר֣וּחַ ה' וַֽיְשַׁסְּעֵ֙הוּ֙ כְּשַׁסַּ֣ע הַגְּדִ֔י וּמְא֖וּמָה אֵ֣ין בְּיָד֑וֹ וְלֹ֤א הִגִּיד֙ לְאָבִ֣יו וּלְאִמּ֔וֹ אֵ֖ת אֲשֶׁ֥ר עָשָֽׂה׃
(6) The spirit of the LORD gripped him, and he tore him asunder with his bare hands as one might tear a kid asunder; but he did not tell his father and mother what he had done.
(19) The spirit of the LORD gripped him. He went down to Ashkelon and killed thirty of its men. He stripped them and gave the sets of clothing to those who had answered the riddle. And he left in a rage for his father’s house.
(14) When he reached Lehi, the Philistines came shouting to meet him. Thereupon the spirit of the LORD gripped him, and the ropes on his arms became like flax that catches fire; the bonds melted off his hands.
Last lines of "The Dark Knight"
James Gordon Jr.: Batman? Batman! Why's he running dad?
Lt. James Gordon: Because we have to chase him.
Cop: Okay we're going in! Go, go! Move!
James Gordon Jr.: He didn't do anything wrong.
Lt. James Gordon: Because he's the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So we'll hunt him. Because he can take it. Because he's not our hero. He's a silent guardian. A watchful protector. A Dark Knight.
In a creative interpretation advanced by Dr. Nechama Price, Samson is not chosen for his own qualities so much as he is chosen as a personification of the people. In several episodes that are juxtaposed with his story, a recurring idea appears...
This idea is hinted at with Samson...a man who also does whatever is right in his own eyes.
(ג) וַיֹּ֨אמֶר ל֜וֹ אָבִ֣יו וְאִמּ֗וֹ הַאֵין֩ בִּבְנ֨וֹת אַחֶ֤יךָ וּבְכָל־עַמִּי֙ אִשָּׁ֔ה כִּֽי־אַתָּ֤ה הוֹלֵךְ֙ לָקַ֣חַת אִשָּׁ֔ה מִפְּלִשְׁתִּ֖ים הָעֲרֵלִ֑ים וַיֹּ֨אמֶר שִׁמְשׁ֤וֹן אֶל־אָבִיו֙ אוֹתָ֣הּ קַֽח־לִ֔י כִּֽי־הִ֖יא יָשְׁרָ֥ה בְעֵינָֽי׃
(3) His father and mother said to him, “Is there no one among the daughters of your own kinsmen and among all our people, that you must go and take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?” But Samson answered his father, “Get me that one, for she is the one that pleases me.”
What ends up happening to Samson's eyes?
(כא) וַיֹּאחֲז֣וּהוּ פְלִשְׁתִּ֔ים וַֽיְנַקְּר֖וּ אֶת־עֵינָ֑יו וַיּוֹרִ֨ידוּ אוֹת֜וֹ עַזָּ֗תָה וַיַּאַסְר֙וּהוּ֙ בַּֽנְחֻשְׁתַּ֔יִם וַיְהִ֥י טוֹחֵ֖ן בְּבֵ֥ית האסירים [הָאֲסוּרִֽים׃]
If we understand Samson to be a personification of the Israelites at the time, in the same way that they follow after their own desires (rebelling against god, worshipping idols, acting lawlessly) so too does he. Eventually, however, his eyes are gouged out (indicative of punishment). But he is able to be redeemed...which is an important message for the Israelites as well.
Questions to Consider
1. Based on Dr. Price's reading, does God only select leaders based on their positive personal characteristics?
2. How could Samson's tenure as a judge and his decisions serve as a warning to the Israelites?
3. Did the Israelites heed the warning? Why/ why not?
(י) וְהִ֖יא מָ֣רַת נָ֑פֶשׁ וַתִּתְפַּלֵּ֥ל עַל־ה' וּבָכֹ֥ה תִבְכֶּֽה׃ (יא) וַתִּדֹּ֨ר נֶ֜דֶר וַתֹּאמַ֗ר ה' צְבָא֜וֹת אִם־רָאֹ֥ה תִרְאֶ֣ה ׀ בָּעֳנִ֣י אֲמָתֶ֗ךָ וּזְכַרְתַּ֙נִי֙ וְלֹֽא־תִשְׁכַּ֣ח אֶת־אֲמָתֶ֔ךָ וְנָתַתָּ֥ה לַאֲמָתְךָ֖ זֶ֣רַע אֲנָשִׁ֑ים וּנְתַתִּ֤יו לַֽה' כָּל־יְמֵ֣י חַיָּ֔יו וּמוֹרָ֖ה לֹא־יַעֲלֶ֥ה עַל־רֹאשֽׁוֹ׃
(10) In her wretchedness, she prayed to the LORD, weeping all the while. (11) And she made this vow: “O LORD of Hosts, if You will look upon the suffering of Your maidservant and will remember me and not forget Your maidservant, and if You will grant Your maidservant a male child, I will dedicate him to the LORD for all the days of his life; and no razor shall ever touch his head.”
This echoes the phrase we saw earlier by Samson, which may concern us regarding Samuel's ability to act as a just prophet. However, we soon discover that in his case, he is the one who remains steadfast and honest while those around him are gluttonous and lustful.
Samuel parallels Moses in a variety of important ways. He and Moses are both given up by their mothers at a young age (after having been nursed and weaned by them). They both see others acting inappropriately around them (whether the High Priest's sons or Egyptian brethren) and choose not to align themselves with their cause. They are both prophets. And both of them institute a new form of leadership- Moses by becoming an amalgam between warrior, king and prophet and Samuel by serving as judge and prophet but additionally as kingmaker.
How did Samuel act as leader/ judge?
Why does it mention they were prophets in Be'er Sheva? To show how they did not go in the ways of their father (Samuel) who used to go on a route through all of the cities so as not to trouble the Israelites to come to him to be judged.
And then, as though that were not bad enough, they set themselves up in Be'er Sheva which is at the very *edge* of Israel. It would have been one thing if they would have split up and one of them had judged in the territory of Dan and the other in the territory of Be'er Sheva, but they did not do that.
Instead, they made all the Israelites travel all the way to them in Be'er Sheva which was difficult for the people. (There is an approach that they had good intentions and wanted to provide incomes for the people they employed as scribes etc but still it was at the cost of the people's welfare so t his was not good).
Questions to Consider
1. What kind of individual is Samuel when it comes to his spiritual abilities (prophecy)?
2. What kind of individual is Samuel when it comes to his leadership abilities (judge)?
(ג) הִנְנִ֣י עֲנ֣וּ בִי֩ נֶ֨גֶד ה' וְנֶ֣גֶד מְשִׁיח֗וֹ אֶת־שׁוֹר֩ ׀ מִ֨י לָקַ֜חְתִּי וַחֲמ֧וֹר מִ֣י לָקַ֗חְתִּי וְאֶת־מִ֤י עָשַׁ֙קְתִּי֙ אֶת־מִ֣י רַצּ֔וֹתִי וּמִיַּד־מִי֙ לָקַ֣חְתִּי כֹ֔פֶר וְאַעְלִ֥ים עֵינַ֖י בּ֑וֹ וְאָשִׁ֖יב לָכֶֽם׃ (ד) וַיֹּ֣אמְר֔וּ לֹ֥א עֲשַׁקְתָּ֖נוּ וְלֹ֣א רַצּוֹתָ֑נוּ וְלֹֽא־לָקַ֥חְתָּ מִיַּד־אִ֖ישׁ מְאֽוּמָה׃ (ה) וַיֹּ֨אמֶר אֲלֵיהֶ֜ם עֵ֧ד ה' בָּכֶ֗ם וְעֵ֤ד מְשִׁיחוֹ֙ הַיּ֣וֹם הַזֶּ֔ה כִּ֣י לֹ֧א מְצָאתֶ֛ם בְּיָדִ֖י מְא֑וּמָה וַיֹּ֖אמֶר עֵֽד׃ (פ)
Questions to Consider
1. What does this add to our understanding of Samuel on a personal level (what kind of integrity/ character does he possess)?
2. How has Samuel demonstrated that he is the kind of person who is not influenced by others (consider Chafni & Pinchas)?
Questions to Consider
1. What are the laws a king must keep/ cannot break?
2. Why are these laws in place?
Note that Saul looks like a king (tall, noble, regal, handsome)...but it remains to be seen whether he will be able to act like one.
(א) כבואכם העיר. כן אמרו רבותינו ז"ל מה היה כל האריכות הזה שהאריכו אלו הנערות לדבר מהם אמרו כדי להסתכל ביופיו של שאול ומהם אמרו כי מה' היא לפי שלא הגיע עדין השעה שאמר לו הקדוש ברוך הוא לשמואל כעת מחר אשלח אליך איש:
The Rabbis ask why the women give such a lengthy reply...they say it was because the women wished to look upon the handsome appearance of Saul.
Our introduction to Saul sets us up to see that he is the kind of person who possesses the qualities mentioned in the above excerpt in Deuteronomy.
He is a member of the tribe of Benjamin...not a foreigner.
He goes out searching for donkeys...not horses.
His servant is the one who has money in his pocket...not Saul.
Despite the fact that the women he speaks to are infatuated with him, he does not flirt with them/ return their overtures.
(This understanding comes from Rav Amnon Bazak at this link).
Saul's status as a Benjaminite is significant...because it makes him an unexpected choice to be the leader of the nation. Recall what happened in the book of Judges...
In choosing Saul, God seems to be declaring that the background of an individual (or in this case, his tribe) does not preclude him from serving in this important leadership role. Even though the Benjaminites have a checkered past, God has faith that Saul can serve properly. Perhaps, aware of how terribly wrong things can go - as a member of the tribe that was almost wiped out- Saul will be properly motivated to impose the rule of law and God on the nation and be a successful king.
Unfortunately...over the course of Saul's lifetime, we see that he consistently falls prey to peer pressure and gives in to the people instead of standing firm. Samuel is very frustrated with him about this, largely because Samuel has lived experience of NOT doing this (not following in the footsteps of Chofni and Pinchas, Eli's sons). Additionally, Saul has the potential to act differently- he is not set up for failure. For more on that concept, please see below.
(5) Saul was just coming from the field driving the cattle; and Saul asked, “Why are the people crying?” And they told him about the situation of the men of Jabesh. (6) When he heard these things, the spirit of God gripped Saul and his anger blazed up. (7) He took a yoke of oxen and cut them into pieces, which he sent by messengers throughout the territory of Israel, with the warning, “Thus shall be done to the cattle of anyone who does not follow Saul and Samuel into battle!” Terror from the LORD fell upon the people, and they came out as one man.
(33) When it was reported to Saul that the troops were sinning against the LORD, eating with the blood, he said, “You have acted faithlessly. Roll a large stone over to me today.” (34) And Saul ordered, “Spread out among the troops and tell them that everyone must bring me his ox or his sheep and slaughter it here, and then eat. You must not sin against the LORD and eat with the blood.” Every one of the troops brought his own ox with him that night and slaughtered it there.
Despite the flashes of leadership we see Saul exhibit, more often he finds himself giving in to the people's will...this is why Samuel rebukes him.
(יז) וַיֹּ֣אמֶר שְׁמוּאֵ֔ל הֲל֗וֹא אִם־קָטֹ֤ן אַתָּה֙ בְּעֵינֶ֔יךָ רֹ֛אשׁ שִׁבְטֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל אָ֑תָּה וַיִּמְשָׁחֲךָ֧ ה' לְמֶ֖לֶךְ עַל־יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃
(17) And Samuel said, “You may look small to yourself, but you are the head of the tribes of Israel. The LORD anointed you king over Israel,
Questions to Consider
1. When is modesty and humility appropriate, and when is it problematic?
2. How do modesty and humility differ from insecurity (or do they)?
Thus far, we've seen a leader who embodies continuity, another who personifies the nation and one who refuses to be influenced by those around him. Saul demonstrates the need to have one's own sense of self such that he can follow God's commands to do what is hard but necessary as opposed to what the nation might desire.
(6) When they arrived and he saw Eliab, he thought: “Surely the LORD’s anointed stands before Him.” (7) But the LORD said to Samuel, “Pay no attention to his appearance or his stature, for I have rejected him. For not as man sees [does the LORD see]; man sees only what is visible, but the LORD sees into the heart.”
Either Samuel said this to himself or aloud because he thought this (Eliav) was the king that he had been commanded to anoint because he was tall and strapping and handsome and similar to Saul. He thought that God chooses handsome and tall men for the kingship so the nation will accept him (similar to when Saul was appointed).
But God said- don't look at his appearance. God is a searcher of hearts and innards; he knows the heart of Eliav and that it is not straight. Therefore God said to Samuel "Don't look at his appearance because even though he is handsome and looks regal according to his appearance I know his heart and he is not fit to rule."
Eliav is the brother who is most like Saul...while David is the surprise/ unexpected choice. He's a mere shepherd and not fully accepted amongst the other brothers. And yet it is he who is chosen as king.
David's Encounter with Goliath
It's not just about a youth against a giant...it's about David's relationship to God (which stands in contrast to Saul's lost relationship with Him).
(36) Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and that uncircumcised Philistine shall end up like one of them, for he has defied the ranks of the living God. (37) The LORD,” David went on, “who saved me from lion and bear will also save me from that Philistine.” “Then go,” Saul said to David, “and may the LORD be with you!”
(45) David replied to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin; but I come against you in the name of the LORD of Hosts, the God of the ranks of Israel, whom you have defied. (46) This very day the LORD will deliver you into my hands. I will kill you and cut off your head; and I will give the carcasses of the Philistine camp to the birds of the sky and the beasts of the earth. All the earth shall know that there is a God in Israel. (47) And this whole assembly shall know that the LORD can give victory without sword or spear. For the battle is the LORD’s, and He will deliver you into our hands.”
David as a Leader of Men
Note the echo here to what we had seen by Joshua. But can David only lead orderly troops?
(א) וַיֵּ֤לֶךְ דָּוִד֙ מִשָּׁ֔ם וַיִּמָּלֵ֖ט אֶל־מְעָרַ֣ת עֲדֻלָּ֑ם וַיִּשְׁמְע֤וּ אֶחָיו֙ וְכָל־בֵּ֣ית אָבִ֔יו וַיֵּרְד֥וּ אֵלָ֖יו שָֽׁמָּה׃ (ב) וַיִּֽתְקַבְּצ֣וּ אֵ֠לָיו כָּל־אִ֨ישׁ מָצ֜וֹק וְכָל־אִ֨ישׁ אֲשֶׁר־ל֤וֹ נֹשֶׁא֙ וְכָל־אִ֣ישׁ מַר־נֶ֔פֶשׁ וַיְהִ֥י עֲלֵיהֶ֖ם לְשָׂ֑ר וַיִּהְי֣וּ עִמּ֔וֹ כְּאַרְבַּ֥ע מֵא֖וֹת אִֽישׁ׃
(1) David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam; and when his brothers and all his father’s house heard, they joined him down there. (2) Everyone who was in straits and everyone who was in debt and everyone who was desperate joined him, and he became their leader; there were about four hundred men with him.
(ז) וַיֹּ֨אמֶר לַאֲנָשָׁ֜יו חָלִ֧ילָה לִּ֣י מֵֽה' אִם־אֶעֱשֶׂה֩ אֶת־הַדָּבָ֨ר הַזֶּ֤ה לַֽאדֹנִי֙ לִמְשִׁ֣יחַ ה' לִשְׁלֹ֥חַ יָדִ֖י בּ֑וֹ כִּֽי־מְשִׁ֥יחַ ה' הֽוּא׃ (ח) וַיְשַׁסַּ֨ע דָּוִ֤ד אֶת־אֲנָשָׁיו֙ בַּדְּבָרִ֔ים וְלֹ֥א נְתָנָ֖ם לָק֣וּם אֶל־שָׁא֑וּל וְשָׁא֛וּל קָ֥ם מֵהַמְּעָרָ֖ה וַיֵּ֥לֶךְ בַּדָּֽרֶךְ׃ (ס)
(7) He said to his men, “The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my lord—the LORD’s anointed—that I should raise my hand against him; for he is the LORD’s anointed.” (8) David rebuked his men and did not permit them to attack Saul. Saul left the cave and started on his way.
(ג) וַיָּבֹ֨א דָוִ֤ד וַֽאֲנָשָׁיו֙ אֶל־הָעִ֔יר וְהִנֵּ֥ה שְׂרוּפָ֖ה בָּאֵ֑שׁ וּנְשֵׁיהֶ֛ם וּבְנֵיהֶ֥ם וּבְנֹתֵיהֶ֖ם נִשְׁבּֽוּ׃ (ד) וַיִּשָּׂ֨א דָוִ֜ד וְהָעָ֧ם אֲשֶׁר־אִתּ֛וֹ אֶת־קוֹלָ֖ם וַיִּבְכּ֑וּ עַ֣ד אֲשֶׁ֧ר אֵין־בָּהֶ֛ם כֹּ֖חַ לִבְכּֽוֹת׃ (ה) וּשְׁתֵּ֥י נְשֵֽׁי־דָוִ֖ד נִשְׁבּ֑וּ אֲחִינֹ֙עַם֙ הַיִּזְרְעֵלִ֔ית וַאֲבִיגַ֕יִל אֵ֖שֶׁת נָבָ֥ל הַֽכַּרְמְלִֽי׃ (ו) וַתֵּ֨צֶר לְדָוִ֜ד מְאֹ֗ד כִּֽי־אָמְר֤וּ הָעָם֙ לְסָקְל֔וֹ כִּֽי־מָ֙רָה֙ נֶ֣פֶשׁ כָּל־הָעָ֔ם אִ֖ישׁ עַל־בנו [בָּנָ֣יו] וְעַל־בְּנֹתָ֑יו וַיִּתְחַזֵּ֣ק דָּוִ֔ד בַּה' אֱלֹקָֽיו׃ (ס)
(3) When David and his men came to the town and found it burned down, and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive, (4) David and the troops with him broke into tears, until they had no strength left for weeping. (5) David’s two wives had been taken captive, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail wife of Nabal from Carmel. (6) David was in great danger, for the troops threatened to stone him; for all the troops were embittered on account of their sons and daughters. But David sought strength in the LORD his God.
(17) When David saw the angel who was striking down the people, he said to the LORD, “I alone am guilty, I alone have done wrong; but these poor sheep, what have they done? Let Your hand fall upon me and my father’s house!”
Unlike Saul, who tends to be persuaded by the desires of his people, David is firmly in control of his men (despite their being a complicated group). He forbids them to kill Saul. When they threaten to kill him, he seeks refuge in God. David is faithful and loyal to God. He has unshakable loyalty.
This is demonstrated to great effect over the rest of his life, when many personal tragedies beset him (the death of his child with Batsheva, the rape of Tamar, the revolt of Absalom and the revolt of Adonijah.) Despite all of this, David remains loyal to God.
Aside from his extreme loyalty, David has compassion and love for the nation. He sees them as the sheep it is his responsibility to shepherd. Indeed...
בָּדַק לְדָוִד בַּצֹּאן וּמְצָאוֹ רוֹעֶה יָפֶה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (תהלים עח, ע): וַיִּקָּחֵהוּ מִמִּכְלְאֹת צֹאן, מַהוּ מִמִּכְלְאֹת צֹאן, כְּמוֹ (בראשית ח, ב): וַיִּכָּלֵא הַגֶּשֶׁם, הָיָה מוֹנֵעַ הַגְּדוֹלִים מִפְּנֵי הַקְּטַנִּים, וְהָיָה מוֹצִיא הַקְּטַנִּים לִרְעוֹת, כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּרְעוּ עֵשֶׂב הָרַךְ, וְאַחַר כָּךְ מוֹצִיא הַזְּקֵנִים כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּרְעוּ עֵשֶׂב הַבֵּינוֹנִית, וְאַחַר כָּךְ מוֹצִיא הַבַּחוּרִים שֶׁיִּהְיוּ אוֹכְלִין עֵשֶׂב הַקָּשֶׁה. אָמַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, מִי שֶׁהוּא יוֹדֵעַ לִרְעוֹת הַצֹּאן אִישׁ לְפִי כֹחוֹ, יָבֹא וְיִרְעֶה בְּעַמִּי.
(2) God tested David with sheep and he found him to be a fine shepherd. It says in Psalms 78:70 "He took him (David) from the sheepfolds." What are the sheepfolds? It is like "and the rain from heaven was restrained" in Genesis 8:2. "And he restrained the rain"- he (David) restrained/ penned in the larger sheep as opposed to the smaller sheep. First he would find for the smaller sheep to graze, so that they could eat the soft grass, and after that he would let the older sheep graze so they could eat the in-between grass and finally he would take out the young, strapping sheep so they could eat the hard grass. God said, "Someone who knows how to shepherd the sheep each according to its nature/ strength shall come before Me a
nd shepherd My people."
After David begins his dynasty, we enter the era of kings...featuring many complicated and complex individuals. We will focus on a few in an effort to learn more about what God is looking for in a leader.
(7) And now, O LORD my God, You have made Your servant king in place of my father David; but I am a young lad, with no experience in leadership. (8) Your servant finds himself in the midst of the people You have chosen, a people too numerous to be numbered or counted. (9) Grant, then, Your servant a listening heart to judge Your people, to distinguish between good and bad; for who can judge this vast people of Yours?” (10) The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. (11) And God said to him, “Because you asked for this—you did not ask for long life, you did not ask for riches, you did not ask for the life of your enemies, but you asked for discernment in dispensing justice— (12) I now do as you have spoken. I grant you a wise and discerning mind; there has never been anyone like you before, nor will anyone like you arise again. (13) And I also grant you what you did not ask for—both riches and glory all your life—the like of which no king has ever had.
Why does Solomon ask for a listening heart specifically? Yes, he desires wisdom and to be a good judge- but there's more to it than that. He's actively rectifying a major flaw that occurred under his father's rule, and which led to the rebellion of Absalom. It was that justice was not served for Tamar.
(ב) וְהִשְׁכִּים֙ אַבְשָׁל֔וֹם וְעָמַ֕ד עַל־יַ֖ד דֶּ֣רֶךְ הַשָּׁ֑עַר וַיְהִ֡י כָּל־הָאִ֣ישׁ אֲשֶֽׁר־יִהְיֶה־לּוֹ־רִיב֩ לָב֨וֹא אֶל־הַמֶּ֜לֶךְ לַמִּשְׁפָּ֗ט וַיִּקְרָ֨א אַבְשָׁל֤וֹם אֵלָיו֙ וַיֹּ֗אמֶר אֵֽי־מִזֶּ֥ה עִיר֙ אַ֔תָּה וַיֹּ֕אמֶר מֵאַחַ֥ד שִׁבְטֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל עַבְדֶּֽךָ׃ (ג) וַיֹּ֤אמֶר אֵלָיו֙ אַבְשָׁל֔וֹם רְאֵ֥ה דְבָרֶ֖ךָ טוֹבִ֣ים וּנְכֹחִ֑ים וְשֹׁמֵ֥עַ אֵין־לְךָ֖ מֵאֵ֥ת הַמֶּֽלֶךְ׃ (ד) וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ אַבְשָׁל֔וֹם מִי־יְשִׂמֵ֥נִי שֹׁפֵ֖ט בָּאָ֑רֶץ וְעָלַ֗י יָב֥וֹא כָּל־אִ֛ישׁ אֲשֶֽׁר־יִהְיֶה־לּוֹ־רִ֥יב וּמִשְׁפָּ֖ט וְהִצְדַּקְתִּֽיו׃ (ה) וְהָיָה֙ בִּקְרָב־אִ֔ישׁ לְהִשְׁתַּחֲוֺ֖ת ל֑וֹ וְשָׁלַ֧ח אֶת־יָד֛וֹ וְהֶחֱזִ֥יק ל֖וֹ וְנָ֥שַׁק לֽוֹ׃ (ו) וַיַּ֨עַשׂ אַבְשָׁל֜וֹם כַּדָּבָ֤ר הַזֶּה֙ לְכָל־יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל אֲשֶׁר־יָבֹ֥אוּ לַמִּשְׁפָּ֖ט אֶל־הַמֶּ֑לֶךְ וַיְגַנֵּב֙ אַבְשָׁל֔וֹם אֶת־לֵ֖ב אַנְשֵׁ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ (פ)
(2) Absalom used to rise early and stand by the road to the city gates; and whenever a man had a case that was to come before the king for judgment, Absalom would call out to him, “What town are you from?” And when he answered, “Your servant is from such and such a tribe in Israel,” (3) Absalom would say to him, “It is clear that your claim is right and just, but there is no one assigned to you by the king to hear it.” (4) And Absalom went on, “If only I were appointed judge in the land and everyone with a legal dispute came before me, I would see that he got his rights.” (5) And if a man approached to bow to him, [Absalom] would extend his hand and take hold of him and kiss him. (6) Absalom did this to every Israelite who came to the king for judgment. Thus Absalom won away the hearts of the men of Israel.
It is possible that part of the reason God was so pleased with Solomon was that his request indicated not only that he wanted to be a good leader but also that he understood the need for reformation -for continuing his father's legacy while actively changing aspects of his rule. This reformation can also be seen is Solomon's change of the administrative structure in the kingdom and his focus on creating a Temple that would have both nationalistic AND universal themes.
Once again, we find ourselves matching a leader to his time...now that there is a time of stability, Solomon, who has plans for expansion and reformation, has his moment.
(כו) וְיָרָבְעָם֩ בֶּן־נְבָ֨ט אֶפְרָתִ֜י מִן־הַצְּרֵדָ֗ה וְשֵׁ֤ם אִמּוֹ֙ צְרוּעָה֙ אִשָּׁ֣ה אַלְמָנָ֔ה עֶ֖בֶד לִשְׁלֹמֹ֑ה וַיָּ֥רֶם יָ֖ד בַּמֶּֽלֶךְ׃ (כז) וְזֶ֣ה הַדָּבָ֔ר אֲשֶׁר־הֵרִ֥ים יָ֖ד בַּמֶּ֑לֶךְ שְׁלֹמֹה֙ בָּנָ֣ה אֶת־הַמִּלּ֔וֹא סָגַ֕ר אֶת־פֶּ֕רֶץ עִ֖יר דָּוִ֥ד אָבִֽיו׃ (כח) וְהָאִ֥ישׁ יָרָבְעָ֖ם גִּבּ֣וֹר חָ֑יִל וַיַּ֨רְא שְׁלֹמֹ֜ה אֶת־הַנַּ֗עַר כִּֽי־עֹשֵׂ֤ה מְלָאכָה֙ ה֔וּא וַיַּפְקֵ֣ד אֹת֔וֹ לְכָל־סֵ֖בֶל בֵּ֥ית יוֹסֵֽף׃ (ס) (כט) וַֽיְהִי֙ בָּעֵ֣ת הַהִ֔יא וְיָֽרָבְעָ֖ם יָצָ֣א מִירוּשָׁלִָ֑ם וַיִּמְצָ֣א אֹת֡וֹ אֲחִיָּה֩ הַשִּׁילֹנִ֨י הַנָּבִ֜יא בַּדֶּ֗רֶךְ וְה֤וּא מִתְכַּסֶּה֙ בְּשַׂלְמָ֣ה חֲדָשָׁ֔ה וּשְׁנֵיהֶ֥ם לְבַדָּ֖ם בַּשָּׂדֶֽה׃ (ל) וַיִּתְפֹּ֣שׂ אֲחִיָּ֔ה בַּשַּׂלְמָ֥ה הַחֲדָשָׁ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר עָלָ֑יו וַיִּ֨קְרָעֶ֔הָ שְׁנֵ֥ים עָשָׂ֖ר קְרָעִֽים׃ (לא) וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ לְיָֽרָבְעָ֔ם קַח־לְךָ֖ עֲשָׂרָ֣ה קְרָעִ֑ים כִּ֣י כֹה֩ אָמַ֨ר ה' אֱלֹקֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל הִנְנִ֨י קֹרֵ֤עַ אֶת־הַמַּמְלָכָה֙ מִיַּ֣ד שְׁלֹמֹ֔ה וְנָתַתִּ֣י לְךָ֔ אֵ֖ת עֲשָׂרָ֥ה הַשְּׁבָטִֽים׃
(26) Jeroboam son of Nebat, an Ephraimite of Zeredah, the son of a widow whose name was Zeruah, was in Solomon’s service; he raised his hand against the king. (27) The circumstances under which he raised his hand against the king were as follows: Solomon built the Millo and repaired the breach of the city of his father, David. (28) This Jeroboam was an able man, and when Solomon saw that the young man was a capable worker, he appointed him over all the forced labor of the House of Joseph. (29) During that time Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem and the prophet Ahijah of Shiloh met him on the way. He had put on a new robe; and when the two were alone in the open country, (30) Ahijah took hold of the new robe he was wearing and tore it into twelve pieces. (31) “Take ten pieces,” he said to Jeroboam. “For thus said the LORD, the God of Israel: I am about to tear the kingdom out of Solomon’s hands, and I will give you ten tribes.
שלמה בנה את המלוא – המלוא היה מקום בעיר ירושלם סמוך לירושלם והיה רחבה להתאסף שם העם מענין קראו אחריך מלוא שהוא ענין אסיפה ושלמה בנה אותו המקום כי הוצרך לו כשבנה בית לבת פרעה ואף על פי כן מן הנראה לא היה טוב בעיני העם מה שעשה שלמה והיו יריאים ממנו לאמר כך וכך עשה שלמה וזה ירבעם גבה לבו והעיז את פניו ואמר שלמה בנה את המלוא כלומר ראו רעה שעשה ועוד שאמר שלמה ולא אמר המלך וזה היה מרד במלך ועוד אמר סגר את פרץ דוד אביו פירשו בו כי דוד עשה פרץ בחומת ציון שאם ימרדו בו ישראל יצא ויברח משם בלא דעתם כמו שהוא מנהג היום במלכי ישמעאל שיעשו פרץ במבצריהם שאם יקומו על המלך בני העיר שיברח משם ויקראו שמו שער הבגד ושלמה סגר אותו הפרץ ואמר ירבעם ראו גבהות לבו שסגר הפרץ כלומר שהוא בוטח שאינו ירא ממרד ובדברי רז״ל מפני מה זכה ירבעם למלכות מפני שהוכיח את שלמה ומפני מה נענש מפני שהוכיחו ברבים אמר לו דוד אביך פרץ פרצות בחומה כדי שיעלו ישראל לרגל ואתה גדרת אותם כדי לעשות אנגריא לבת פרעה ואמרו רז״ל מאי וזה הדבר אשר הרים יד במלך שחלץ תפליו בפניו
Radak on Shlomo Built the Millo
The Millo was a place in the City of Jerusalem that was adjacent to Jerusalem and was a wide open space where the nation could gather (which is why it was called Millo from the root full, to fill up) and Shlomo built up this place because he wanted to build a palace for Bat Pharoah and even though the nation was not happy with his decision, they were afraid to oppose him. But Yeravam made his heart haughty and was brazen and said "Shlomo built up the Millo" as though to say "Look at what he has done"- criticizing Shlomo.
When he talks about closing up the bolthole of David, what it refers to was the secret escape route out through the walls that many kings had. So Yeravam said- "Look at Solomon; he is so certain that we will not rebel that he is closing up the bolthole!"
Why was Yeravam chosen as king? Because he rebuked Shlomo. But why was he punished? Because he rebuked him in public. Yeravam said: "David your father made entrances in the walls so Bnei Yisrael would come up for the Shalosh Regalim and here you close them in order to make a palace for Bat Pharoah!"
We can see Yeravam as a populist - someone advancing the cause of the people, caring about them and their needs. He is even willing to speak truth to power and confront Shlomo when he feels the nation's needs are not being served. For this, he deserves to lead...but unfortunately he soon learns that power corrupts and corrodes and the man who was once concerned about Bnei Yisrael being able to gather for Shalosh Regalim ends up being the one to end that practice in his own kingdom.
Achav and Izevel
Achav was aware of the idea that even when humans sin and are punished with lack of rain, God has mercy on the animals...and thus he goes with Ovadiah to search for water "for the animals" but the ultimate purpose is to find that water to sustain his people.
This is one of our first indications of Achav the humanist. Despite having committed himself to doing what is evil in God's eyes, He cares deeply for His nation.
But then Achav does something which works against his humanist behavior, in that he permits Jezebel to frame, falsely accuse and murder Navot in order to steal his vineyard. Despite this major error, Achav is not beyond hope...
But the main way in which Achav is remembered is for his humanism in that he cares for his nation, exhibited perhaps most poignantly by his death scene.
(לד) וְאִ֗ישׁ מָשַׁ֤ךְ בַּקֶּ֙שֶׁת֙ לְתֻמּ֔וֹ וַיַּכֶּה֙ אֶת־מֶ֣לֶךְ יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל בֵּ֥ין הַדְּבָקִ֖ים וּבֵ֣ין הַשִּׁרְיָ֑ן וַיֹּ֣אמֶר לְרַכָּב֗וֹ הֲפֹ֥ךְ יָדְךָ֛ וְהוֹצִיאֵ֥נִי מִן־הַֽמַּחֲנֶ֖ה כִּ֥י הָחֳלֵֽיתִי׃ (לה) וַתַּעֲלֶ֤ה הַמִּלְחָמָה֙ בַּיּ֣וֹם הַה֔וּא וְהַמֶּ֗לֶךְ הָיָ֧ה מָעֳמָ֛ד בַּמֶּרְכָּבָ֖ה נֹ֣כַח אֲרָ֑ם וַיָּ֣מָת בָּעֶ֔רֶב וַיִּ֥צֶק דַּֽם־הַמַּכָּ֖ה אֶל־חֵ֥יק הָרָֽכֶב׃ (לו) וַיַּעֲבֹ֤ר הָרִנָּה֙ בַּֽמַּחֲנֶ֔ה כְּבֹ֥א הַשֶּׁ֖מֶשׁ לֵאמֹ֑ר אִ֥ישׁ אֶל־עִיר֖וֹ וְאִ֥ישׁ אֶל־אַרְצֽוֹ׃
(34) Then a man drew his bow at random and he hit the king of Israel between the plates of the armor; and he said to his charioteer, “Turn the horses around and get me behind the lines; I’m wounded.” (35) The battle raged all day long, and the king remained propped up in the chariot facing Aram; the blood from the wound ran down into the hollow of the chariot, and at dusk he died. (36) As the sun was going down, a shout went through the army: “Every man to his own town! Every man to his own district.”
Achav did not let on that he was wounded so that nobody in his nation would lose heart (and, the implication is, fall in battle).
Achav may have been one of the most wicked kings, but he still loved his people.
(6) So [Jehu] arose and went inside; and [the disciple] poured the oil on his head, and said to him, “Thus said the LORD, the God of Israel: I anoint you king over the people of the LORD, over Israel. (7) You shall strike down the House of Ahab your master; thus will I avenge on Jezebel the blood of My servants the prophets, and the blood of the other servants of the LORD. (8) The whole House of Ahab shall perish, and I will cut off every male belonging to Ahab, bond and free in Israel.
Jehu is chosen by God to achieve a particular mission. It becomes clear that Jehu is a complicated character- a trickster- and this is part of what makes him an appropriate choice.
Unfortunately, although when it comes to the Ba'al Jehu acts appropriately, he makes other decisions that show him as too bloodthirsty and bring him personal benefit and gain as opposed to benefiting the entire nation, and thus is eventually condemned.
So what does God look for in a leader?
It depends on the time period.
It depends on the people.
Sometimes God seeks continuity.
Sometimes He seeks a leader who personifies the nation.
Sometimes He seeks a leader with integrity and a personal moral compass.
Sometimes He seeks a love for humanity.
Sometimes He seeks someone with a darker side (bloodlust, a tricky nature) who can put that nature to use serving Him.
There is one constant that God always desires.
It is this:
When rulers fall, it is inevitably because they were no longer able to control themselves...and they give in to lust for power, sex, blood or idols (or conformity).
There is a Hebrew adage: Who is mighty (a Gibor)? The one who can conquer his inner nature.
"If" by Rudyard Kipling
(‘Brother Square-Toes’—Rewards and Fairies)
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!