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Our Young Folk's Josephus by  William Shepard
Table of Contents




DAVID was still at Ziklag. He had not heard of the great victory of the Philistines, or of the destruction of the Israelites. But on the third day after the fight there came to Ziklag the man who slew Saul at his bidding. His clothes were rent, and ashes were upon his head. David asked him whence he came. And the man told him that he had fled from the battle, that the Israelites were defeated and many thousands of them had been killed, and that Saul and his sons were among the slain. To prove that what he said was true he produced the crown and the bracelets and gave them to David. David rent his garments, and continued all that day in weeping and lamentation. His grief was increased by the thought that Jonathan, his dearest friend, had been slain.

When David had paid these honors to the king, he inquired of God by the prophet where he should go to dwell. God answered that he was to go to Hebron, in the land of Judah. Then David left Ziklag and came with his followers to Hebron, and the people of the tribe of Judah chose him for their king.

But Abner, who was the general of Saul's army and a very [151] active and brave man, learning of what had happened in Judah, went to the camp and brought away a fourth son of Saul, named Ishbosheth, and passed over to the land beyond Jordan and ordained him king over all the Israelites except the tribe of Judah and he was angry with the tribe of Judah for choosing David king, and declared war against them. David appointed Joab, his nephew, to be general of his army, and sent him out to fight Abner. The two armies met near the city of Gibeon and prepared for battle. Abner proposed that, in order to see which were the best warriors, twelve of the bravest men should be picked out from each side and should fight together. This was done, and the twenty-four men drew their swords and rushed at each other, and fought so desperately that every one of them perished. When these were fallen down dead, the armies came to a sore battle, and Abner's men were beaten. From this time, therefore, there was civil warm in Israel, which lasted a great while, and in which the followers of David grew stronger, while the servants and subjects of Saul's son grew weaker and weaker every day. When Ishbosheth had ruled for seven years, two of his captains plotted against him, thinking that if they should slay him they would receive large presents from David and be made commanders by him. One hot day they came at noon into Ishbosheth's house, and found him alone and asleep in an upper room, with none of his guards around him. And they killed him, and cut off his head, and brought it o David at Hebron. But David was not pleased at what they had done, and he told them that they were wicked men and should be punished as they deserved. He had them put to death, but the head of Ishbosheth he buried with great honor.

Then the chief men among the Israelites, learning of the death of Ishbosheth, came to David in Hebron and told him that they wished him to be their king. So at last David ruled over all the tribes of Israel. He called a great meeting of all the men who were able to bear arms, and they came to Hebron [152] in warlike array, and brought with them great quantities of wine and grain and fruits, and presented them to David. And when the people had rejoiced for three days in Hebron, David went out with his army against the city of Jerusalem.

Up to this time the men of Israel had been unable to conquer the city of Jerusalem from the Canaanites, who had held it against all their attacks from the time of Joshua, a period of five hundred and fifteen years. When they saw David coming, they laughed him to scorn. Shutting their gates, they placed upon the walls all the lame and the blind and the sick among them, and cried out to him that these poor wretches would be sufficient to defend the city against the Israelites.

David was angry at their insolence, and he besieged Jerusalem, and soon took the lower part of the city. Then the inhabitants retreated into a great citadel, or fortress, which as on a hill called Zion. David, knowing that the citadel was a very strong one and would be difficult to take, thought it well to offer some reward to his soldiers. He announced that whoever should first cross over the ditches that were beneath the citadel, and should ascend the citadel itself and take it, should have command of the entire army given to him. All the Israelites rushed forward very eagerly and crossed the ditches and climbed up the walls of the citadel. But Joab was ahead of the rest, and as soon as he had reached the top of the citadel he cried out to the king and claimed the chief command. The Canaanites could not resist the force of this attack, and they were all slain.

David rebuilt the whole of Jerusalem, and called it the city of David, and he lived there all the time of his reign. There was a king named Hiram who lived in the town of Tyre, and he made a league of friendship with David. The men of Tyre were skilful workers in wood and stone. And Hiram sent builders and carpenters to David, and they built him a royal palace at Jerusalem.

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