THE WAR of the Beards is the core event of this week’s Old Testament study, a series of battles prompted by Hanun, the king of Ammon, who shaved half the beards of messengers sent by David. That incident led to battles outside the Ammonites’ capital of Rabbah, with the Edomites in the Valley of Salt, south of the Dead Sea, and with a coalition of Arameans led by Hadadezer of Zobah in the north of Israel, in the region of the Sea of Galilee.
We also read a number of psalms written before, during, and after this war, and compare the tone of those written after what was apparently a military defeat and at the end of the successful campaign.
DAVID CONSOLIDATES control over his kingdom and subjugates Israel’s neighbors Philistia, Moab, Edom, Ammon, Aram-Damascus, and Zobah, extending his control from the border with Egypt to the Euphrates River in the far north.
We also study a number of Psalms, some of lamentation, some of praise, and another — Psalm 29 — that is another example of Old Testament writers applying imagery and characteristics to Yahweh that the Canaanites used to describe their god, Ba’al. Continue reading →