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Monday, April 12, 2010

Deleted Scenes

A few nights ago we had just finished watching a DVD, including some fun "bonus materials", when I went into my room to do my daily Bible reading. I was a day behind, so with six chapters a day I had chapters 19-24 of 2 Samuel (the last in the book) to read. Chapter 19 is David's return to Jerusalem after the long narrative of how he was almost dethroned by his own son Absalom, and chapter 20 describes one final brief rebellion after that (this rebellion was stamped out pretty quickly). It's pretty clear that things are winding down, and at the end of chapter 20 there is a clear note of finality in the story.

After that, though, there are four more very interesting chapters; they take place totally out of the time line of the story, and seem to have only a very tenuous connection with the continuing narrative. The first part is a story of David executing some of Saul's descendants in order to stop a drought. This incident could possibly be the reason Shimei cursed David for spilling "the blood of the house of Saul" in chapter 16, and if that is a true assumption, then this happened much earlier than it is reported in the story. Regardless of the exact order of events, it seems pretty clear that chapter 21 is not chronologically taking place after chapter 20.

The last few verses of chapter 21 report some anecdotes about some of David's soldiers, specifically about them beating Philistines in battle. Chapter 22 is a psalm that David wrote (actually, it is pretty much duplicated in Psalm 18) "...on the day the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul." Saul's death is reported in the final chapter of first Samuel, so clearly, again, outside of the timeline of the book.

Chapter 23 begins with another psalm, "the last words of David." David's death does not occur until the second chapter of the next book, 1 Kings. It ends with the exploits of David's "mighty men," including a list of their names. The last name is "Uriah the Hittite," and David had made quite sure that Uriah was stone dead way back in chapter 11. Only chapter 24 appears to me to be within the main flow of the narrative; David takes a census of his fighting men, angering God and causing a plague which kills a whole bunch of Israelites.

So I was reading this and thinking, why is all of this stuff stuck at the end of this book instead of right in the narrative? Certainly 2 Samuel sometimes doubles back on itself, telling part of a story and then cutting away to another mini-story happening somewhere else and then returning to where it started, but this stuff seems almost random at the end. Then I realized something. The author of 2 Samuel invented the Deleted Scene! Who knew that one of the most popular features on DVDs was actually invented a thousand years before the birth of Christ?


1 comment:

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