How King David predicted modern Judaism
Modern Jews are precisely the community King David envisioned, says scholar Joel Baden.
October 12th, 2013
09:05 AM ET

How King David predicted modern Judaism

Opinion by Joel Baden, special to CNN

(CNN) - Most American Jews consider Judaism to be mainly a matter of culture and ancestry, according to a recent poll. An even higher percentage describe themselves as emotionally attached to Israel. For this we have one person to thank: King David.

The Israel we know today is a nation that David created virtually out of thin air. Before David, there were two territories, Israel to the north, and Judah to the south.

By sheer force of personality—and, to be fair, substantial military strength—David combined these two lands under a single crown (his). Not only had this never happened before; no one had ever thought of it before.

Although the Bible makes it sound as if everyone loved David, and were desperate to follow him, this wasn’t really the case. David took power by force.

The people of Israel and Judah became part of David’s kingdom because he conquered them—they had no choice in the matter. Their only option was to abandon the land that they had held for centuries. And in a tight real estate market—every family believed that they had eternal rights to their property—moving was pretty much out of the question.

We tend to think of Israel in biblical terms: the land promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the land of the 12 tribes. These concepts were created in the wake of David’s reign.

Everywhere that the Bible speaks of Judah and Israel together—the stories of the patriarchs, the Exodus, the conquest—we encounter the ramifications of David’s actions.

The borders of the modern state of Israel today are, roughly, David’s borders, or at least those attributed to him by the biblical authors. (For the record: the West Bank was part of David’s kingdom; the Gaza Strip was not.)

And at the center of Israel, both ancient and modern, is the holy city of Jerusalem. This, too, is David’s doing. Before David, Jerusalem was a long-standing independent city-state, belonging to a long-lost people called the Jebusites.

MORE ON CNN: Why everyone fights over Jerusalem

Recognizing that its central location would be perfect for the capital of his newly united state—the ancient equivalent of Washington—David conquered it and wiped out its former inhabitants.

Because David is credited with founding the Temple in Jerusalem—although Solomon built the actual structure, David chose the site, set up an altar, and laid the conceptual groundwork—it’s natural enough to assume that there was some religious motivation at work.

But, in fact, David’s aim in inaugurating a site of worship in his capital was more economical than spiritual. Temples were sites of commerce—Jesus knew this—and having a culturally significant relic, in the form of the Ark of the Covenant, was sure to draw the people in.

Every lamb sacrificed in Jerusalem meant profit for the sanctuary, and for the king who controlled it. Every pilgrim meant a night’s stay in a local bed and breakfast (all fully taxable, of course).

David used belief as a lure to draw in the masses. But he didn’t care much what his people believed. The creation of the unified kingdom of Israel wasn’t based on shared religion.

The inhabitants of the north had very different practices from those in the south. And none of them was following Jewish law—the laws hadn’t been written yet, and wouldn’t be for centuries.

What united the people of David’s kingdom was, quite simply, that they lived there. It was a political state, not a religious one.

Israel then, like today, was primarily a political entity, and only secondarily a religious one. Those who considered themselves attached to Israel believed and practiced a whole range of things, or not; just like those who are attached to Israel today.

A Pew poll released earlier this month demonstrates the continuing pull of David’s Israel. Millions of American Jews financially support the modern state of Israel, either through donations or through tourism.

MORE ON CNN: Study: American Jews losing their religion

We feel the pull of the land, the sanctity of the ancient streets of Jerusalem. We fly El Al, we stay at the hotels, we eat at the restaurants, we pay to enter various sites.

That is: We’re still doing just what David wanted us to do. We are precisely the Jews who David envisioned—believing whatever we want, just so long as we spend our money in Israel.

Joel S. Baden is the author of “The Historical David: The Real Life of an Invented Hero,” and an associate professor of Old Testament at Yale Divinity School. The views expressed in this column belong to Baden.

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Belief • Israel • Jerusalem • Judaism • Middle East

soundoff (869 Responses)
  1. Ken

    Most often, articles like this have points of error or disagreement. Seldom is there total error in every single paragraph. The author clearly knows nothing of history. To refute all of this...where to even begin? Most obviously, the 2 countries, Israel and Judah, formed after David and Solomon's reign, not prior to David's reign. Why do such "experts" even get published?

    October 12, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
    • pa jesseson

      odd that you should point out errors in the article, especially the one you use to illustrate your point. Of course, the writer did not say that judah and israel united prior to David's reign. He said that David is the one who combined them. But, don't let that bother you. Just keep correcting and I'll keep correcting your corrections and pretty soon we'll have a new state of israel. after all, the only thing one can say about two jews is that no two jews ever agree on anything. Wait for it........there, you thought it. You did. You thought, "I don't agree with that." Thank you. You've moved today's pleasure scale up by a foreskin.

      October 12, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
      • Rev.Saenz

        Ken is correct. David was not the one who united Israel or Judah as this split happened after his reign, not before. Where do folks get their facts? Hilarious how someone would refute someone who is right. Ken must be laughing at pa jesseson's response.

        October 12, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
  2. Stupid is as stupid does

    I like the part where all of the teaching of the LORD GOD YWEH that were commanded in the first century A.D.E don't apply anymore, tee hee 🙂

    ...death to those who were mixed fibers!!!
    ...death to the shell fish eaters!!!

    Cherry pick another god, at least Thor and Apollo had some skills...

    October 12, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
    • TrueReality

      Still repeating those tired old talking points about fibers and shellfish? From the 1st century AD (ie, the very beginning), the Christian Church has acknowledged the difference between ceremonial laws (like the ones about fiber and shellfish) and the moral law (like the 10 commandments).

      In the remote off-chance you're interested in a theological explanation, read this: http://justandsinner.blogspot.com/2012/11/answering-shellfish-argument.html

      October 12, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
      • G to the T

        Just because Paul rationalized it, doesn't mean it's theologocially accurate to abandon "some" of the old laws.

        October 14, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
    • Rett

      Ever wonder why to this day you seldom if ever have clothes with a linen and wool blend....research the problems created for the wearer when they are mixed. Shellfish are high in cholesterol, at least shrimp is. they are also the "possums of the sea" as my dad would say, scavengers who scavenge the sea floor ingesting all kinds of things including the poo of other sea creatures. Also ever wonder why shellfish allergies are among the most common food allergies? Maybe the admonition to avoid them was a good one....regardless the NT pretty much makes it clear that the dietary restrictions are now removed.....still doesn't mean it is good to eat the foods forbidden in the OT.....now I know you are convinced, right? I didn't think so......those on both sides of the religious aisle will never be swayed by internet rambling but we enjoy trying don't we? 🙂

      October 12, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
      • Text 101

        Good answer! Good spirit!

        October 12, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
      • G to the T

        And pork is best to avoid because you could get sick eating it right? Sorry but these are some very OLD arguments you are putting forth. What is more likely is that one group raised pigs (Canaanintes) and the others raised sheep (Hebrews). So the food was culturally relevant. If the dietary laws really were "ahead of their time" someone might have mentioned salmonella poisoning...

        October 14, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
  3. Jesus the Albino Porpoise

    Let's file this story under;

    Anthropology, Mythology, and door #3

    October 12, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
  4. children of Israel

    So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Not by emotional feelings or opinions, prove all things. *Psalm 60:7 Judah is lawgiver; *Romans 3:31 Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law. *1st Samuel 10:20 And when Samuel had caused all the tribes of Israel to come near, the tribe of Benjamin was taken. *Romans 11:1 I Say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. *Matthew 1:16 And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ. *Genesis 37:3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: *Matthew 22:45 If David then called him Lord, how is he his son? PLEASE READ *1st Samuel 18:18-22* (Revelation 21:12)

    October 12, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
    • Jesus the Albino Porpoise

      Numbers 31:17-18
      17 Now kiII all the boys. And kiII every woman who has slept with a man,
      18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

      October 12, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
      • Julia Gershon

        Proof that the Torah is of human origin - the type of human with Y chromosomes.

        October 13, 2013 at 10:15 am |
    • Jesus the Albino Porpoise

      Deuteronomy 13:6 – “If your brother, your mother’s son or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul entice you secretly, saying, let us go and serve other gods … you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death”

      October 12, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
    • Jesus the Albino Porpoise

      Leviticus 25
      44 “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves.
      45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property.
      46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

      October 12, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
  5. TrueReality

    Prof. Baden says, "And none of them was following Jewish law—the laws hadn’t been written yet, and wouldn’t be for centuries."

    A typical view of theologically liberal scholarship, one that maintains that the Torah and the OT laws were not actually written until the return from exile in Babylon, the time covered by the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. This is also a view based on rather suspect practices of textual analysis that are founded on several very shaky assumptions about writing style and authorship. Historical-critical Biblical interpretation is essentially an enormous exercise in creative speculation, which is misrepresented as historical fact.

    October 12, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
    • Reality # 2

      Then there of course is this: (only for the new visitors to this blog)

      origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482 NY Times review and important enough to reiterate.

      New Torah For Modern Minds

      “Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. (prob•a•bly
      Adverb: Almost certainly; as far as one knows or can tell).

      The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And DAVID, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

      Such startling propositions – the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years – have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity – until now.

      The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine doc-ument.

      The notion that the Bible is not literally true "is more or less settled and understood among most Conservative rabbis," observed David Wolpe, a rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and a contributor to "Etz Hayim." But some congregants, he said, "may not like the stark airing of it." Last Passover, in a sermon to 2,200 congregants at his synagogue, Rabbi Wolpe frankly said that "virtually every modern archaeologist" agrees "that the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way that it happened, if it happened at all." The rabbi offered what he called a "LITANY OF DISILLUSION”' about the narrative, including contradictions, improbabilities, chronological lapses and the absence of corroborating evidence. In

      October 12, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
      • TrueReality

        I fail to see what that did, except provide another example of the type of thought I was talking about. In fact, that's not accurate, as archaeology has either supported the Biblical narrative of the Exodus and conquest of Canaan, or has simply been inconclusive. For example, Jericho, Ai, and Hazor all exhibit an archaeological layer of destruction and burnt material from the time period they were said to have been conquered and destroyed by the Israelites. There is also a marked and sudden increase of archaeological sites in the Judean hill country, indicated a sudden population influx, right around the time that the Israelites are said to have entered the land.

        Also, existence of ancient Israel is attested to by Egyptian stele (note the extra-Biblical source) as early as 1200 B.C.

        October 12, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
        • Reality # 2

          I suggest you read the studies that went into preparing the New Torah for Modern Minds. After so doing, write to the Conservative Jews and their rabbis with your critique citing reliable studies to make your point.

          October 12, 2013 at 11:53 pm |
        • Just the Facts Ma'am...

          "as archaeology has either supported the Biblical narrative of the Exodus and conquest of Canaan, or has simply been inconclusive. For example, Jericho, Ai, and Hazor all exhibit an archaeological layer of destruction and burnt material"

          So those miraculous events left evidence but a miracle like say, stopping the earths rotation to keep the sun in the sky all day did not leave any evidence?

          October 14, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • Julia Gershon

      Not shaky at all. In fact, not shaky in the least - and confirmed by thousands of scholars who are not bound by the supernatural-authorship theory.

      October 13, 2013 at 10:17 am |
      • TrueReality

        Basic historical criticism is founded on the assumption that any variations in style or vocabulary in a Biblical text indicates multiple authorship. I'm sure there are thousands of modern authors in the past decade alone who would be insulted if you were to assert that one of their works couldn't actually be their, simply because they used some different words than in a previous work. When you talk about one subject, do you always use the exact same words in the exact same ways, every single time?

        And the historical-critical scholars want to have their cake and eat it too: variations in style and vocabulary? Must mean multiple authors. Consistency in style and vocabulary? Must have been imposed by a later editor. Their efforts are trying to "look behind the text" to whatever historical reality was there – they automatically assume that the text is ahistorical. A self-fulfilling prophecy; if you start out with that assumption, then you'll never arrive at a historical conclusion! They only see what they want to see. Interestingly, an increasing number of scholars are turning to more post-modern, post-critical methods of interpretation, which reject the entire historical-critical effort as irrelevant and sympathize more with Wellhausen's view that it is impossible to get behind the text.

        October 14, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
    • G to the T

      Nope. Textual critisicm is pretty solid on this one. Care to try again?

      October 14, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
      • TrueReality

        Wow, great argument.

        October 14, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
        • G to the T

          You disagree with what you see as the fundamentals of textual criticism, I get it. I happen to disagree.

          October 15, 2013 at 9:45 am |
  6. Text 101

    Mr. Baden seems to have forgotten a lot about the Hebrew text and what it says about David and the nation of Israel. Out of the 20 paragraphs he wrote 11 promote ideas and statements that the Hebrew text does not support. A few examples are as follows.

    Mr. Baden says "The Israel we know today is a nation that David created virtually out of thin air. Before David, there were two territories, Israel to the north, and Judah to the south." The Hebrew text however relates a different view.

    Saul was the first King of Israel. Read 1 Samuel chap 8:19 through to chap 11. Before Saul the nation of Israel existed united under the judges and prophets, Samuel being the last prophet before Saul was chosen by God as King. Read 1 Samuel 9:15

    Mr. Baden also says "We tend to think of Israel in biblical terms: the land promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the land of the 12 tribes. These concepts were created in the wake of David’s reign." Mr. Baden is not correct here either.

    According to Exodus, the nation of Israel was considered by God a nation made up of 12 tribes as it left Egypt (and even before that as "my people" Ex. 3:7).

    (Exodus 24:4) Then he got up early in the morning and built at the foot of the mountain an altar and twelve pillars corresponding with the twelve tribes of Israel. Also, (Exodus 19:6) And YOU yourselves will become to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you are to say to the sons of Israel.”

    After the nation entered the land promised to Abraham the land was apportioned by lot to each tribe.

    Numbers 26:55 Only by the lot should the land be apportioned. According to the names of the tribes of their fathers they should get an inheritance.

    The Exodus was some 500 years before David became king so God considered Israel a nation long before before David. Again to emphasize, the concept of Israel as a nation existed at least 500 years before David.

    Mr. Baden attributes commercial motives to David for selecting Jerusalem ... but it was because God chose the site Read 2 Chronicles 6:1-6.

    Mr. Baden article is full of error when compared to the Hebrew text he is supposed to have studied and used as reference. I could go on and on but it would be tiresome .... Too bad there's no way to "vet" articles like these before they are posted.

    October 12, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
    • David & Jonathan

      Good post with great points!

      October 12, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
    • SadieHawk

      This is definitely an article that should be an example on Snopes of non-fact based information. Mr. Baden certainly didn't get his information from the Bible and doesn't appear to even have read it. I agree with the comments by Text. If he is a scholar of the Bible then he most certainly got a raw deal on his education. God bless Israel!

      October 12, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
    • TrueReality

      Prof. Baden appears to be operating based on some variation of the historical-critical method, though I don't know whether he'd say he's more in favor of source criticism or form criticism or some other category. But one thing those have in common is that they do not accept the text of Scripture as strictly historical. There's certainly differences, but all those types of higher criticism begin with the rejection of Scripture as divinely-inspired and instead seek to trace its origins as purely human works. The standard approach among theologically-liberal (or non-Christian) Biblical scholars, but certainly not unanimously accepted by the Church.

      October 12, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
    • G to the T

      The Bible isn't a history book and much of the archeology being done doesn't line up with your conclusions. There was no united kingdom "under the judges". What you have are 12 smaller groups trying to be blended together by the creation of a common history after the fact. This doesn't mean the history was accurate (in fact it argues very much against that idea).

      October 14, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
  7. dave

    The article is totally wrong, it begins on a wrong premise that the people of Judah and Israel were just conquered. It's a biased story with no historical nor biblical truth to it. Speculative narrative designed to change history. You are wrong and malicious to propagate such lies.

    October 12, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
  8. Matt

    oh christ, not more of this gods babble again...

    October 12, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
    • Just a guy

      Why do you read it if you dont like it or believe it – duh!

      October 12, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
      • Just a guy

        Yes – does not believe and just wants to stir the pot with his rabble – just a troll

        October 12, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
  9. Mephibosheth

    i) A shepherd boy,
    ii) a King,
    iii) a Prophet?
    iv) a man after God's own heart
    v) Answers i,ii & iv

    October 12, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
    • League

      Why does King David look sad in that image?

      October 12, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
      • Ziba

        That was how King David looked when he wrote this,

        Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? -Psalm 43

        October 12, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
        • Jonathan

          Here is the verse:

          Why, my soul, are you downcast?
          Why so disturbed within me?
          Put your hope in God,
          for I will yet praise him,
          my Savior and my God. 🙂

          October 12, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
    • Jonathan

      The answer is (v)


      October 12, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
      • Mephibosheth

        You're right!!!

        October 12, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
    • Rett

      Cool name....Mephibosheth is one of my favorite stories in the Bible.

      October 12, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
  10. Ferit Tuzer

    another brown palestinian depicted as a white guy.

    October 12, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
  11. I AM

    You left me with a negative opinion of David and Judaism. It is not all about money, the Bible is about the souls of the people. You are a fool to believe and write such an article!

    October 12, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
    • Jesus the Albino Porpoise

      Humans do not have souls.
      Also no gods.
      Also no living after dying.

      So long, and thanks for all the fish...

      October 12, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
    • G to the T

      Bible may have been about "souls" but to deny that David may have had very "on the ground" concerns is ignorant at best, willfully stupid at worst.

      October 14, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
  12. star1

    I don't know how or what you based your article on, but if you are a scholar of the Bible then you good a raw deal on your education. 1st of all, the Israelites had been chosed by God to be "his people" as a nation. They left as a whole from Egypt. The sacrifices were not for monetary gain, but were commanded by God as atonement for their sins and to remember that they were spared during the last plague in Egypt when each firstborn of any household did not have a mark on their door. In fact Jeus himself threw out "the money changers" of the temple who were in fact trying to make a profit from the sacrifices. King David was appointed by God and although he did commit sins, he was punished for them and that punishment including him not being able to build the temple himself. As for combining the tribes by force, this was also a command by God because one of the tribes had stopped doing God's will and were worshipping false God's. He was only able to conquer them with God's help. I can only assume that you don't read your Bible or don't read the entire one or do research. It also appears you don't think God had anything to do with the writing of the Bible and the events that took place in it, so how can you comment on it? It's a shame.

    October 12, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
    • snowboarder

      one can certainly be a scholar of the bible without believing all the supernatural mumbo jumbo.

      October 12, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
    • Adam

      No doubt that David was a believer in God as evident from his psalms, written especially when he got very ill. But the article is largely true, the Israeli leaders both secular and religious very much cared and still do care for making a business out of people's beliefs. And that's true for other peoples and religions.

      October 12, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
    • G to the T

      Evidence for Exodus = Zero.

      Genesis is a group history, a way to blend 12 tribes into a kingdom. To say that it tells literal history would be in error.

      October 14, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
      • Star1

        You say there is no proof that Exodus is real? That the 12 tribes were just a group? Really, I guess that Egypt and the Pharaohs are not real either. The historical accuracy of the Bible's accounts have been proven correct by historians many times over. Exodus listed very specific names that in fact have been proven. Only someone who just wants to find fault can speak out of ignorance.

        October 14, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
        • G to the T

          Please reference a single piece of extra-biblical evidence for the Exodus, ESPECIALLY from Egypt (hint you wont find it).

          October 15, 2013 at 9:47 am |
      • Star1

        G to the T – Have you actually been to the Louvre or the British Museum? Have you actually seen the oldest known translations of the Bible? I did not say I could read Hebrew, but I do know that the translators at that time had to copy the original text word for word by their meaning into different Languages. They did know Hebrew and were able to translate accuarately. What Bible exist that isn't a translation as the original books were scrolls? As for evidence regarding Exodus, there are pieces of Dead Sea Scrolls. Among the manuscripts found at the Dead Sea, 15 contain fragments of the book of Exodus. One fragment (4QExf) has been dated as from about 250 B.C.E. Two of the fragments, believed to date from the second or third century B.C.E., were written in ancient Hebrew characters that were in use before the Babylonian exile. As for King David, an expert on the Mesha stela (also called the Moabite Stone), Professor André Lemaire, reported that it also refers to the “House of David.” The Mesha stela, discovered in 1868, has much in common with the Tel Dan stela. They both date to the ninth century B.C.E., are of the same material, are similar in size, and are written in almost identical Semitic script.
        As to a new reconstruction of a damaged line on the Mesha stela, Professor Lemaire wrote: “Nearly two years before the discovery of the Tel Dan fragment, I concluded that the Mesha stela contains a reference to the ‘House of David.’ . . . The reason this reference to the ‘House of David’ has never been noted before may well be due to the fact that the Mesha stela has never had a proper editio princeps [first edition]. That is what I am preparing, 125 years after the discovery of the Mesha stela.”
        Such archaeological information is of interest because an angel, Jesus himself, his disciples, and people in general testified to the historicity of David. (Matthew 1:1; 12:3; 21:9; Luke 1:32; Acts 2:29) Archaeological discoveries evidently agree that he and his dynasty, the “House of David,” are fact, not fiction. It is on exhibition at the Louvre Museum, Paris. Also, the British Museum has had this on loan as well. I have been to both and both locations as well as other articifacts.

        October 17, 2013 at 10:06 pm |
  13. MickeyOregon

    Really? David didn't believe that God has anything to do with any of this? Really? Why does the author believe this? Goofy. A typical CNN piece. CNN just hates religion and faith, huh? Well, other than except in the self appointed The ONE, their messiah. He must be a jealous god, and they his fierce acolytes.

    October 12, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
    • Oneforall777

      I agree. Very skewed version of King David. David loved God with a passion, just read all his Psalms to God. He spoke to God continually, praying, asking for help on numerous occasions, praising God, etc. On the few occasions he did not seek God's advice he paid for it and willingly too., because he knew he had done wrong. David was a 'man after God's own heart'. We hear nothing of this during this rambling article about money and political power. The author purposely, it seems, did not mention David's first love which was God. I think you are right, CNN really gets religious and spiritual opinions from people who seem particularly antagonistic towards our God of the universe.

      October 12, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
      • G to the T

        "...read all his psalms to god..." – Pretty big assumption there. How do you know David wrote them?

        October 14, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
        • Star1

          "How do you know David write them"? How do you know he didn't? Heard of the Dead Sea Scrolls much? Other historical writings? Or maybe Gods own Son referring to these scrolls and reading them out loud isn't enough for you either. Maybe the fact that in Timothy it states that "All scripture is inspired and beneficial.." Try reading the actual Bible before posting.

          October 14, 2013 at 7:53 pm |
        • G to the T

          Wow Star1 – you sure seem to have a hard-on for my posts. So the book the phrase appears in says it was inspired by god so it must be so the phrase must be true and applied to the proper author? I'm afraid I don't have the level of faith in the integrity of the bible that you seem to.

          October 15, 2013 at 9:58 am |
        • Star1

          "Wow Star1 – you sure seem to have a hard-on for my posts. So the book the phrase appears in says it was inspired by god so it must be so the phrase must be true and applied to the proper author? I’m afraid I don’t have the level of faith in the integrity of the bible that you seem to"

          Well, I guess that's the point. Many post, other than mine, have cited quite a bit of evidence of the authenticity of the Bible. You even stated that the OT has no purpose, or evidence that it is authentic. Have you read the entire OT and the rest of the Bible? The OT does in fact have a purpose. It states how the earth was created, why God chose Abraham, why he choose the Israelites to be his people and why he had the Mosaic Law written. It list Kings names, dates, etc. As for the Mosaic Law, are you saying that God's laws on quarantine for illness and burying excrement were not only practical for disease, but way ahead of it's time as only later in history was this understood more fully? The most important part of the OT is that God stated his purpose for the earth and humans. That purpose has not changed despite Adam's sin. In the OT he stated how and thru who that purpose would be realized. His purpose for the earth to be a paradise where humans were to live perfectly with death and in harmony with the animals. He stated that due to Adam's sin he would day within 1 day. As a day to God is a thousand years, Adam dies just shy of 1000 years. When God told Adam to fill the earth and subdue it, he did not say it was a testing ground, in fact he stated that only if he sinned that in that very day he would die. So, just because of one man would God change his mind? No. So the OT is primarily a book of prophecies that pointed to how his Son Jesus would fullfill this prophecy. Jesus willingly offered to give his perfect life as a ransom, dying on a torture stake to prove that a perfect man could die faithful, so God did not let his son die. “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life. Your are welcome to believe what you want, but I don't see why you need to insult those of us who do.

          October 17, 2013 at 10:31 pm |
  14. robertfrost1

    Its Pretty Clear this guy has no idea what he is talking about. You must be a descendent of Esau doing the the Heathens work of Deception.

    October 12, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
  15. Tommy

    This author is a biblical scholar who specializes in the old testament, he is an associate professor of the old testament at Yale so he might know what he is talking about

    October 12, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      I think he should quit teaching and go back to school.

      October 12, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
      • G to the T

        yeah – how dare he disagree with me! (eyeroll)

        October 14, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
    • yoavnir

      He should. Which makes you wonder why he ignores the biblical story that Israel and Judah were united by Saul before David's reign. And the face that Israel and Judah split back a mere generation after David's death. So the united kingdom existed for such a short time, that many historians doubt it (along with David, Saul and Solomon) ever existed.

      October 12, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
      • G to the T

        Maybe because in many ways the OT is an unreliable source of historical information?

        October 14, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
    • Oneforall777

      Being a biblical scholar of the Old Testament does not make you an authority on the spiritual nature of the bible at all, it simply means you have studied the bible from an intellectual point of view and possibly have not sought, or wished to seek the spiritual significance behind the amazing words of the bible. Knowledge is one thing, get your PHd, now you know a lot. To Know, is quite another thing. God gave us his Word because he wants us to Know him, not just have knowledge of him.

      October 12, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
      • A Frayed Knot


        This "God" **wants** things that it doesn't get? Impossible if it's a perfect being.

        October 12, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
  16. Tim

    Wow, what a vivid imagination.
    I recognize that he believes that the Bible was not written when it claims to have been written, but written later for the political and religious motivation of it's writers. But that alone is a questionable claim: no proof whatsoever exists. It is often stated by higher critics of the Bible, but there is absolutely no proof for what they say.
    This entire article suffers from the same problem. He takes the Biblical account and throws it out, asserting a completely new hypothesis about history. Except the account that he throws out actually has a historical record supporting it (the Bible, as well as other secular histories). His hypothesis has absolutely no proof.

    October 12, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
    • snowboarder

      you seem to ignore the fact that the "bible" wasn't actually written. it was assembled from a collection of cherry picked stories.

      October 12, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
      • Hans Christian

        Study the truth. You won't come to that conclusion. I did not after I found out the truth about the Bible. Not what people like this writer told me.

        October 12, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
        • snowboarder

          the only legitimate study of religion is anthropology.

          October 12, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
        • G to the T

          I have. I would be interested to hear what you think "the truth" is though...

          October 14, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • The Anachronist

      Agreed! This is more modern historical revisionism. Pure arrogance.

      October 12, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
  17. The Watcher

    'The Israel we know today is a nation that David created virtually out of thin air. Before David, there were two territories, Israel to the north, and Judah to the south.'

    Wow. Second paragraph and already the author has his Bible history mixed up. The division (Israel/Judah) happened at the beginning of the reign of David's GRANDSON, Rehoboam.

    October 12, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Yep, this article is a huge mess.

      October 12, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
    • Ayup

      Not to mention, the Jewish laws are in the book of Leviticus, long before the exploits of David starting in the book of 1st Samuel. Author got that wrong too.

      October 12, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
  18. El Ilegal

    Joel Baden, it seems that you don't know what are you talking about sir. FYI, God's laws were given to the people of Israel right after they left Egypt and before they got the promised land. Check the book of Exodus in the bible.
    It's a shame that CNN lets you write articles when, obviously, you don't know anything about this subject. I wonder why you or CNN call you scholar?
    It's like me calling myself doctor when I don't know anything about medecine but yet CNN lets me write an article about it.

    October 12, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Reading this makes me wonder where on earth did the author get all of this.

      October 12, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
    • G to the T

      Exodus = zero evidence.

      October 14, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
  19. AvdBerg

    For a better understanding of the above article and the history of 'Christianity' and 'Judaism', we invite you to read the articles 'Can Christianity or Any Other Religion Save You?' and 'The Decline and Fall of a Divided Nation (Matthew 12:25)' listed on our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca

    All the other pages and articles listed on our website explain how and by whom this whole world has been deceived as confirmed in Revelation 12:9, and what mankind must do to be reunited with the true and living God.

    October 12, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
    • Observer

      Please advertize your hypocrisy elsewhere.

      October 12, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
      • AvdBerg

        @ Observer

        You advertise your hypocrisy and lies, so please allow us to bring wisdom and knowledge according to Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive (John 14:17).

        October 12, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
    • snowboarder

      that is one kooky website. are there really people that believe that mumbo jumbo?

      October 12, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
      • AvdBerg

        @ snowboarder

        Unless you repent and turn from darkness (whose spirit you are of) to light and from the power of Satan unto God (Acts 26:18), you will remain spiritually blind and not able to understand the Word of God (1 Cor. 2:14).

        October 12, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
        • snowboarder

          sorry. i'm not buying the snake oil you are selling.

          October 12, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
        • snowboarder

          @avd, I always love the secret decoder ring fallacy. "unbelievers can't understand" what a load!

          October 12, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
  20. Gilbert Caesar

    Honestly, the writer of this article presents his article without concrete facts. He says what he thinks, not what is actually a fact. First, how does he know David's motives? Where are the sources of his article? Is this article credible? Hell no!!! Last, from my perspective, he sounds atheist and he has the right to freedom of speech.

    October 12, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
    • Ron Phelps

      I concur. No reference to God's Word or historical archaeological evidence about the facts of David's kingdom! this article's suggestion of David setting up the Temple in Jerusalem for commerce is not supported by the Bible nor is it true!

      October 12, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
      • edward

        We have a divided nation on everything from gun control to education to spending. Its amazing to me you idiotic religious zealots think that there is some "truth" in the bible. Absolutely every last word in it is true. As if the anonymous writers of the entire thing had no bias, or never left details out, or perhaps embellished a whole lot? We could have video tape of an event with Obama in it, and we would have 30 different stories about what actually happened.

        October 12, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
    • Max

      Gilbert, this is an opinion piece... So it is correct to assume the writer wrote what he thinks.

      October 12, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
      • G to the T

        Right? I didn't think the CNN Belief blog was the place for doctoral disritations withreferences cited...

        October 14, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.