The body count is truly impressive: hubris, nemesis, and slaughter of the elite of the Davidic kingdom on a remarkable scale...
All save Benaiah, Zadok, Bathsheba, Nathan, and Solomon... Are any other named characters (save the foreign mercenaries outside the clan-and-revenge structure--the Cherethites and Pelethites) still alive at the end? And does anyone save David (and Samuel) ever manage to die peacefully? Perhaps Abishag the Shunammite makes it out of Jerusalem alive?
The Massacre of the House and Servants of David: 2 Samuel 11 ff.::
David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel, and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah...
But David tarried still at Jerusalem. And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon. And David sent and enquired after the woman. And one said:
Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?
And David sent messengers, and took her; and she came in unto him, and he lay with her; for she was purified from her uncleanness: and she returned unto her house.
And the woman conceived, and sent and told David, and said, I am with child. And David sent to Joab, saying: "Send me Uriah the Hittite." And Joab sent Uriah to David. And when Uriah was come unto him, David demanded of him how Joab did, and how the people did, and how the war prospered. And David said to Uriah: "Go down to thy house, and wash thy feet." And Uriah departed out of the king's house, and there followed him a mess of meat from the king. But Uriah slept at the door of the king's house with all the servants of his lord, and went not down to his house.
And when they had told David, saying, Uriah went not down unto his house, David said unto Uriah: "Camest thou not from thy journey? why then didst thou not go down unto thine house?"
And Uriah said unto David:
The ark, and Israel, and Judah, abide in tents; and my lord Joab, and the servants of my lord, are encamped in the open fields; shall I then go into mine house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? as thou livest, and as thy soul liveth, I will not do this thing.
And David said to Uriah, Tarry here to day also, and to morrow I will let thee depart. So Uriah abode in Jerusalem that day, and the morrow. And when David had called him, he did eat and drink before him; and he made him drunk: and at even he went out to lie on his bed with the servants of his lord, but went not down to his house. And it came to pass in the morning, that David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah. And he wrote in the letter, saying: "Set ye Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retire ye from him, that he may be smitten, and die."
And it came to pass, when Joab observed the city, that he assigned Uriah unto a place where he knew that valiant men were. And the men of the city went out, and fought with Joab: and there fell some of the people of the servants of David; and Uriah the Hittite died also. Then Joab sent and told David all the things concerning the war; And charged the messenger, saying:
When thou hast made an end of telling the matters of the war unto the king, And if so be that the king's wrath arise, and he say unto thee, 'Wherefore approached ye so nigh unto the city when ye did fight? knew ye not that they would shoot from the wall? Who smote Abimelech the son of Jerubbesheth? did not a woman cast a piece of a millstone upon him from the wall, that he died in Thebez? why went ye nigh the wall?' then say thou: 'Thy servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.'
So the messenger went, and came and shewed David all that Joab had sent him for. And the messenger said unto David:
Surely the men prevailed against us, and came out unto us into the field, and we were upon them even unto the entering of the gate. And the shooters shot from off the wall upon thy servants; and some of the king's servants be dead, and thy servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.
Then David said unto the messenger, Thus shalt thou say unto Joab: "Let not this thing displease thee, for the sword devoureth one as well as another: make thy battle more strong against the city, and overthrow it: and encourage thou him."
And when the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she mourned for her husband. And when the mourning was past, David sent and fetched her to his house, and she became his wife, and bare him a son.
But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord. And the Lord sent Nathan unto David. And he came unto him, and said unto him:
There were two men in one city; the one rich, and the other poor. The rich man had exceeding many flocks and herds: But the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter. And there came a traveller unto the rich man, and he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd, to dress for the wayfaring man that was come unto him; but took the poor man's lamb, and dressed it for the man that was come to him.
And David's anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan: "As the Lord liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die: And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity."
And Nathan said to David:
Thou art the man. Thus saith the Lord God of Israel:
I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul; And I gave thee thy master's house, and thy master's wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things. Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in his sight? thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon. Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife.
Thus saith the Lord:
Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun. For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.
And David said unto Nathan: "I have sinned against the Lord."
And Nathan said unto David:
The Lord also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die. Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die.
And Nathan departed unto his house. And the Lord struck the child that Uriah's wife bare unto David, and it was very sick. David therefore besought God for the child; and David fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth. And the elders of his house arose, and went to him, to raise him up from the earth: but he would not, neither did he eat bread with them. And it came to pass on the seventh day, that the child died. And the servants of David feared to tell him that the child was dead: for they said:
Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spake unto him, and he would not hearken unto our voice: how will he then vex himself, if we tell him that the child is dead?
But when David saw that his servants whispered, David perceived that the child was dead: therefore David said unto his servants: "Is the child dead? And they said, He is dead."...
And David comforted Bathsheba his wife, and went in unto her, and lay with her: and she bare a son, and he called his name Solomon: and the Lord loved him....
Now Absalom had commanded his servants, saying: "Mark ye now when Amnon's heart is merry with wine, and when I say unto you, Smite Amnon; then kill him, fear not: have not I commanded you? be courageous, and be valiant." And the servants of Absalom did unto Amnon as Absalom had commanded. Then all the king's sons arose, and every man gat him up upon his mule, and fled. And it came to pass, while they were in the way, that tidings came to David, saying: "Absalom hath slain all the king's sons, and there is not one of them left."
Then the king arose, and tare his garments, and lay on the earth; and all his servants stood by with their clothes rent. And Jonadab, the son of Shimeah David's brother, answered and said:
Let not my lord suppose that they have slain all the young men the king's sons; for Amnon only is dead: for by the appointment of Absalom this hath been determined from the day that he forced his sister Tamar. Now therefore let not my lord the king take the thing to his heart, to think that all the king's sons are dead: for Amnon only is dead....
But Absalom fled, and went to Talmai, the son of Ammihud, king of Geshur. And David mourned for his son every day. So Absalom fled, and went to Geshur, and was there three years. And the soul of king David longed to go forth unto Absalom: for he was comforted concerning Amnon, seeing he was dead....
Absalom sent spies throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying: "As soon as ye hear the sound of the trumpet, then ye shall say, Absalom reigneth in Hebron." And with Absalom went two hundred men out of Jerusalem, that were called; and they went in their simplicity, and they knew not any thing. And Absalom sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David's counsellor, from his city, even from Giloh, while he offered sacrifices. And the conspiracy was strong; for the people increased continually with Absalom.
And there came a messenger to David, saying: "The hearts of the men of Israel are after Absalom."
And David said unto all his servants that were with him at Jerusalem: "Arise, and let us flee; for we shall not else escape from Absalom: make speed to depart, lest he overtake us suddenly, and bring evil upon us, and smite the city with the edge of the sword."
And the king's servants said unto the king: "Behold, thy servants are ready to do whatsoever my lord the king shall appoint."
And the king went forth, and all his household after him. And the king left ten women, which were concubines, to keep the house. And the king went forth, and all the people after him, and tarried in a place that was far off....
And Absalom, and all the people the men of Israel, came to Jerusalem, and Ahithophel with him.... Then said Absalom to Ahithophel, Give counsel among you what we shall do. And Ahithophel said unto Absalom: "Go in unto thy father's concubines, which he hath left to keep the house; and all Israel shall hear that thou art abhorred of thy father: then shall the hands of all that are with thee be strong." So they spread Absalom a tent upon the top of the house; and Absalom went in unto his father's concubines in the sight of all Israel. And the counsel of Ahithophel, which he counselled in those days, was as if a man had enquired at the oracle of God....
David numbered the people that were with him, and set captains of thousands, and captains of hundreds over them. And David sent forth a third part of the people under the hand of Joab, and a third part under the hand of Abishai the son of Zeruiah, Joab's brother, and a third part under the hand of Ittai the Gittite.... And the king commanded Joab and Abishai and Ittai, saying: "Deal gently for my sake with the young man, even with Absalom." And all the people heard when the king gave all the captains charge concerning Absalom.
So the people went out into the field against Israel: and the battle was in the wood of Ephraim; Where the people of Israel were slain before the servants of David, and there was there a great slaughter that day of twenty thousand men. For the battle was there scattered over the face of all the country: and the wood devoured more people that day than the sword devoured. And Absalom met the servants of David. And Absalom rode upon a mule, and the mule went under the thick boughs of a great oak, and his head caught hold of the oak, and he was taken up between the heaven and the earth; and the mule that was under him went away.
And a certain man saw it, and told Joab, and said: "Behold, I saw Absalom hanged in an oak."
And Joab said unto the man that told him: "And, behold, thou sawest him, and why didst thou not smite him there to the ground? and I would have given thee ten shekels of silver, and a girdle."
And the man said unto Joab:
Though I should receive a thousand shekels of silver in mine hand, yet would I not put forth mine hand against the king's son: for in our hearing the king charged thee and Abishai and Ittai, saying, Beware that none touch the young man Absalom. Otherwise I should have wrought falsehood against mine own life: for there is no matter hid from the king, and thou thyself wouldest have set thyself against me.
Then said Joab: "I may not tarry thus with thee." And he took three darts in his hand, and thrust them through the heart of Absalom, while he was yet alive in the midst of the oak. And ten young men that bare Joab's armour compassed about and smote Absalom, and slew him. And Joab blew the trumpet, and the people returned from pursuing after Israel: for Joab held back the people. And they took Absalom, and cast him into a great pit in the wood, and laid a very great heap of stones upon him: and all Israel fled every one to his tent....
And David sat between the two gates: and the watchman went up to the roof over the gate unto the wall, and lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold a man running alone. And the watchman cried, and told the king. And the king said: "If he be alone, there is tidings in his mouth." And he came apace, and drew near.
And the watchman saw another man running: and the watchman called unto the porter, and said: "Behold another man running alone."
And the king said: "He also bringeth tidings."
And the watchman said: "Me thinketh the running of the foremost is like the running of Ahimaaz the son of Zadok."
And the king said: "He is a good man, and cometh with good tidings."
And Ahimaaz called, and said unto the king: "All is well." And he fell down to the earth upon his face before the king, and said: "Blessed be the Lord thy God, which hath delivered up the men that lifted up their hand against my lord the king."
And the king said: "Is the young man Absalom safe?"
And Ahimaaz answered: "When Joab sent the king's servant, and me thy servant, I saw a great tumult, but I knew not what it was."
And the king said unto him: "Turn aside, and stand here." And he turned aside, and stood still.
And, behold, Cushi came; and Cushi said" "Tidings, my lord the king: for the Lord hath avenged thee this day of all them that rose up against thee."
And the king said unto Cushi: "Is the young man Absalom safe?"
And Cushi answered: "The enemies of my lord the king, and all that rise against thee to do thee hurt, be as that young man is."
And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said: "O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!..."
And it was told Joab: "Behold, the king weepeth and mourneth for Absalom." And the victory that day was turned into mourning unto all the people: for the people heard say that day how the king was grieved for his son. And the people gat them by stealth that day into the city, as people being ashamed steal away when they flee in battle.
But the king covered his face, and the king cried with a loud voice: "O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son!"
And Joab came into the house to the king, and said:
Thou hast shamed this day the faces of all thy servants, which this day have saved thy life, and the lives of thy sons and of thy daughters, and the lives of thy wives, and the lives of thy concubines; In that thou lovest thine enemies, and hatest thy friends. For thou hast declared this day, that thou regardest neither princes nor servants: for this day I perceive, that if Absalom had lived, and all we had died this day, then it had pleased thee well. Now therefore arise, go forth, and speak comfortably unto thy servants: for I swear by the Lord, if thou go not forth, there will not tarry one with thee this night: and that will be worse unto thee than all the evil that befell thee from thy youth until now....
Then Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself, saying: "I will be king": and he prepared him chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him.
And his father had not displeased him at any time in saying: "Why hast thou done so?" and he also was a very goodly man; and his mother bare him after Absalom.... But Zadok the priest, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and Nathan the prophet, and Shimei, and Rei, and the mighty men which belonged to David, were not with Adonijah.
And Adonijah slew sheep and oxen and fat cattle by the stone of Zoheleth, which is by Enrogel, and called all his brethren the king's sons, and all the men of Judah the king's servants: But Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah, and the mighty men, and Solomon his brother, he called not. Wherefore Nathan spake unto Bathsheba the mother of Solomon, saying:
Hast thou not heard that Adonijah the son of Haggith doth reign, and David our lord knoweth it not? Now therefore come, let me, I pray thee, give thee counsel, that thou mayest save thine own life, and the life of thy son Solomon. Go and get thee in unto king David, and say unto him: 'Didst not thou, my lord, O king, swear unto thine handmaid, saying, Assuredly Solomon thy son shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne? why then doth Adonijah reign?' Behold, while thou yet talkest there with the king, I also will come in after thee, and confirm thy words.
And Bathsheba went in unto the king into the chamber: and the king was very old; and Abishag the Shunammite ministered unto the king. And Bathsheba bowed, and did obeisance unto the king. And the king said: "What wouldest thou?"
And she said unto him:
My lord, thou swarest by the Lord thy God unto thine handmaid, saying, Assuredly Solomon thy son shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne. And now, behold, Adonijah reigneth; and now, my lord the king, thou knowest it not: And he hath slain oxen and fat cattle and sheep in abundance, and hath called all the sons of the king, and Abiathar the priest, and Joab the captain of the host: but Solomon thy servant hath he not called. And thou, my lord, O king, the eyes of all Israel are upon thee, that thou shouldest tell them who shall sit on the throne of my lord the king after him. Otherwise it shall come to pass, when my lord the king shall sleep with his fathers, that I and my son Solomon shall be counted offenders.
And, lo, while she yet talked with the king, Nathan the prophet also came in. And they told the king, saying: "Behold Nathan the prophet."
And when he was come in before the king, he bowed himself before the king with his face to the ground. And Nathan said:
My lord, O king, hast thou said: 'Adonijah shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne?' For he is gone down this day, and hath slain oxen and fat cattle and sheep in abundance, and hath called all the king's sons, and the captains of the host, and Abiathar the priest; and, behold, they eat and drink before him, and say: 'God save king Adonijah.' But me, even me thy servant, and Zadok the priest, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and thy servant Solomon, hath he not called. Is this thing done by my lord the king, and thou hast not shewed it unto thy servant, who should sit on the throne of my lord the king after him?
Then king David answered and said: "Call me Bathsheba." And she came into the king's presence, and stood before the king. And the king sware, and said:
As the Lord liveth, that hath redeemed my soul out of all distress, Even as I sware unto thee by the Lord God of Israel, saying, Assuredly Solomon thy son shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne in my stead; even so will I certainly do this day.
Then Bathsheba bowed with her face to the earth, and did reverence to the king, and said: "Let my lord king David live for ever."
And king David said: "Call me Zadok the priest, and Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada." And they came before the king. The king also said unto them:
Take with you the servants of your lord, and cause Solomon my son to ride upon mine own mule, and bring him down to Gihon: And let Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him there king over Israel: and blow ye with the trumpet, and say: 'God save king Solomon.' Then ye shall come up after him, that he may come and sit upon my throne; for he shall be king in my stead: and I have appointed him to be ruler over Israel and over Judah.
And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada answered the king, and said: "Amen: the Lord God of my lord the king say so too. As the Lord hath been with my lord the king, even so be he with Solomon, and make his throne greater than the throne of my lord king David."
So Zadok the priest, and Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and the Cherethites, and the Pelethites, went down, and caused Solomon to ride upon king David's mule, and brought him to Gihon. And Zadok the priest took an horn of oil out of the tabernacle, and anointed Solomon. And they blew the trumpet; and all the people said: "God save king Solomon." And all the people came up after him, and the people piped with pipes, and rejoiced with great joy, so that the earth rent with the sound of them....
And Adonijah feared because of Solomon, and arose, and went, and caught hold on the horns of the altar. And it was told Solomon, saying: "Behold, Adonijah feareth king Solomon: for, lo, he hath caught hold on the horns of the altar, saying: 'Let king Solomon swear unto me today that he will not slay his servant with the sword.'"
And Solomon said: "If he will shew himself a worthy man, there shall not an hair of him fall to the earth: but if wickedness shall be found in him, he shall die." So king Solomon sent, and they brought him down from the altar. And he came and bowed himself to king Solomon: and Solomon said unto him: "Go to thine house."...
So David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David. And the days that David reigned over Israel were forty years: seven years reigned he in Hebron, and thirty and three years reigned he in Jerusalem. Then sat Solomon upon the throne of David his father; and his kingdom was established greatly.
And Adonijah the son of Haggith came to Bathsheba the mother of Solomon. And she said: "Comest thou peaceably?"
And he said: "Peaceably. He said moreover, I have somewhat to say unto thee."
And she said: "Say on."
And he said:
Thou knowest that the kingdom was mine, and that all Israel set their faces on me, that I should reign: howbeit the kingdom is turned about, and is become my brother's: for it was his from the Lord. And now I ask one petition of thee, deny me not.
And she said unto him: "Say on."
And he said: "Speak, I pray thee, unto Solomon the king, (for he will not say thee nay,) that he give me Abishag the Shunammite to wife."
And Bathsheba said: "Well; I will speak for thee unto the king." Bathsheba therefore went unto king Solomon, to speak unto him for Adonijah. And the king rose up to meet her, and bowed himself unto her, and sat down on his throne, and caused a seat to be set for the king's mother; and she sat on his right hand. Then she said: "I desire one small petition of thee; I pray thee, say me not nay."
And the king said unto her: "Ask on, my mother: for I will not say thee nay."
And she said: "Let Abishag the Shunammite be given to Adonijah thy brother to wife."
And king Solomon answered and said unto his mother: "And why dost thou ask Abishag the Shunammite for Adonijah? ask for him the kingdom also; for he is mine elder brother; even for him, and for Abiathar the priest, and for Joab the son of Zeruiah." Then king Solomon sware by the Lord, saying:
God do so to me, and more also, if Adonijah have not spoken this word against his own life. Now therefore, as the Lord liveth, which hath established me, and set me on the throne of David my father, and who hath made me an house, as he promised, Adonijah shall be put to death this day.
And king Solomon sent by the hand of Benaiah the son of Jehoiada; and he fell upon him that he died.
And unto Abiathar the priest said the king:
Get thee to Anathoth, unto thine own fields; for thou art worthy of death: but I will not at this time put thee to death, because thou barest the ark of the Lord God before David my father, and because thou hast been afflicted in all wherein my father was afflicted.
So Solomon thrust out Abiathar from being priest unto the Lord; that he might fulfil the word of the Lord, which he spake concerning the house of Eli in Shiloh.
Then tidings came to Joab: for Joab had turned after Adonijah, though he turned not after Absalom. And Joab fled unto the tabernacle of the Lord, and caught hold on the horns of the altar. And it was told king Solomon that Joab was fled unto the tabernacle of the Lord; and, behold, he is by the altar. Then Solomon sent Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, saying: "Go, fall upon him."
And Benaiah came to the tabernacle of the Lord, and said unto him: "Thus saith the king: 'Come forth.'"
And he said: "Nay; but I will die here."
And Benaiah brought the king word again, saying: "Thus said Joab, and thus he answered me."
And the king said unto him:
Do as he hath said, and fall upon him, and bury him; that thou mayest take away the innocent blood, which Joab shed, from me, and from the house of my father. And the Lord shall return his blood upon his own head, who fell upon two men more righteous and better than he, and slew them with the sword, my father David not knowing thereof, to wit, Abner the son of Ner, captain of the host of Israel, and Amasa the son of Jether, captain of the host of Judah. Their blood shall therefore return upon the head of Joab, and upon the head of his seed for ever: but upon David, and upon his seed, and upon his house, and upon his throne, shall there be peace for ever from the Lord.
So Benaiah the son of Jehoiada went up, and fell upon him, and slew him: and he was buried in his own house in the wilderness. And the king put Benaiah the son of Jehoiada in his room over the host: and Zadok the priest did the king put in the room of Abiathar.
And the king sent and called for Shimei, and said unto him:
Build thee an house in Jerusalem, and dwell there, and go not forth thence any whither. For it shall be, that on the day thou goest out, and passest over the brook Kidron, thou shalt know for certain that thou shalt surely die: thy blood shall be upon thine own head.
And Shimei said unto the king: "The saying is good: as my lord the king hath said, so will thy servant do." And Shimei dwelt in Jerusalem many days.
And it came to pass at the end of three years, that two of the servants of Shimei ran away unto Achish son of Maachah king of Gath. And they told Shimei, saying: "Behold, thy servants be in Gath." And Shimei arose, and saddled his ass, and went to Gath to Achish to seek his servants: and Shimei went, and brought his servants from Gath. And it was told Solomon that Shimei had gone from Jerusalem to Gath, and was come again.
And the king sent and called for Shimei, and said unto him, Did I not make thee to swear by the Lord, and protested unto thee, saying:
Know for a certain, on the day thou goest out, and walkest abroad any whither, that thou shalt surely die? and thou saidst unto me: 'The word that I have heard is good.' Why then hast thou not kept the oath of the Lord, and the commandment that I have charged thee with?
The king said moreover to Shimei:
Thou knowest all the wickedness which thine heart is privy to, that thou didst to David my father: therefore the Lord shall return thy wickedness upon thine own head; And king Solomon shall be blessed, and the throne of David shall be established before the Lord for ever.
So the king commanded Benaiah the son of Jehoiada; which went out, and fell upon him, that he died.
And the kingdom was established in the hand of Solomon.