Saul, Doeg, Nabal and the “Son of Jesse”: Readings in 1 Samuel 16—25
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This dissertation examines some of the stories in 1 Sam. 16—25 with the particular focus placed on Saul, Doeg, Nabal and the “son of Jesse.” It seeks to discover new meaning in the structure as well as in the characters’ functions in the narratives by studying the stories synchronically and diachronically. One of the mysterious characters in 1 Samuel that has puzzled many a scholar is Nabal the Calebite. This study offers a new scrutiny of his person by paying closer attention to the elements of Nabal’s characterization in 1 Sam. 25 and by considering the role of the geographic setting in providing a contextual backdrop against which the actions of all of the characters of the narrative in general and Nabal in particular can be better understood. Additionally, in order to perceive who Nabal really was and to penetrate deeper into the nature of his abuses of the “son of Jesse,” an attempt is made to read the story against the background of the political environment during the latter period of Saul’s reign. Much in the same way this work studies the function of the character of Doeg the Edomite in 1 Sam. 21 and 22. A few elements of Doeg’s characterization contribute to the mystery of his person. This work aims to offer a solution to the puzzle of Doeg’s identity and explain the nature of his relationship with King Saul as well as his role in 1 Sam. 21—22 by focusing on three areas of his characterization: his Edomite origin, his particular business in Nob and his official status in Saul’s court. The phrase the “son of Jesse” is quite important in 1 Samuel and serves a particular purpose in the thematic development in the second half of the book. Viewed against the background of the Saul/David relationship, it underscores the superiority of the Davidic person in advancing the divine plan for the nation of Israel. Saul’s negative use of the phrase is a sign of his rebellion against Yahweh. Equally, Doeg and Nabal, who join the king in persecuting David, infuse the phrase with additional negative elements. The determination of the historical context for the making of the book(s) of Samuel is the key to understanding the multilayered messages embedded in the stories. All of the main characters in 1 Sam. 16—25 appear to be typical, as the events themselves are carriers of the deep meaning. This study makes an attempt to determine the purposes of the writer(s) of the book(s) of Samuel by paying closer attention to the various patterns in the structure of 1 Sam. 16—25. The roles of history and ideology in making these stories are also considered with the proposal that the making of the book(s) of Samuel after the Exile (5th c. B.C.) might have been instigated by the writer’s desire to create the context needed for further development of the messianic ideas.