Shining The Lamp: The Rhetoric Of 2 Samuel 5–24 -- By: David G. Firth

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 52:2 (NA 2001)
Article: Shining The Lamp: The Rhetoric Of 2 Samuel 5–24
Author: David G. Firth

Shining The Lamp:
The Rhetoric Of 2 Samuel 5–24

David G. Firth


2 Samuel 5–24 is here read as a literary unit that covers the whole of the reign of David over Israel and Judah. It is argued that there is an intentional rhetorical pattern that is evident in the literary structure of these chapters, and that the aim of the whole section is to suggest a positive assessment of the whole of David’s reign. This assessment is directed towards the exiles, offering hope because of the continuing validity of the promises to David.


One matter of which readers and interpreters of the Second book of Samuel could be reasonably sure over the years was that chapters 9–20 would be read as a more or less continuous story. Even if not very many were convinced of his suggested starting point, it can be fairly said that Rost’s theory of a Throne Succession Narrative1 was more or less the dominant model of reading these chapters. As is well known, Rost sought to start from the narrative’s conclusion, according to him 1 Kings 1–2, and work back from that point to demonstrate that the goal towards which the narrative was moving was the justification of Solomon being David’s successor. Having found his key in the conclusion, Rost sought to show how the earlier material was always moving in that direction. The influence of Rost’s interpretation can be seen in the fact that even Martin Noth in his equally important The Deuteronomistic History was content to refer to 2 Samuel 9–20 as a

‘traditional story of David’ and thus not make a significant effort to integrate it into his overall thesis.2

Recently, however, we have seen something of an unravelling of the general support for Rost’s thesis, and a move back towards a fragmentary theory for explaining the origins of the books of Samuel.3 As indicated, there were always doubts about the ways in which Rost wanted to include 2 Samuel 6 in his interpretation, but a reading from chapter 9 at least seemed secure.4 But Conroy has sought to show that chapters 13–20 are not dependent upon what goes before,

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