Daegaer wrote, @ 2004-03-23 18:55:00
Happy Birthday, riarambles! May cake and presents be yours in abundance!
When David the king was old, his oldest living son, Adonijah the son of Haggith, took upon himself the care of the kingdom. He judged cases and spoke graciously unto the mighty men of foreign kings and David his father was no longer troubled with the affairs of state. In all of these things Abiathar the priest and Joab the captain over the host were the right and left hands of Adonijah, and the kingdom prospered under the hands of David's son and David's friends. When the king was so old that he could not get warm he was brought a Shunnamite girl to lie in his bed and attend to his needs. When he died, she was the first to know of it. Bathsheba the wife of David heard her wails and lamentations begin, and ran to the king's chambers. She slapped the girl into silence and went privately to the house of her son, Jedidiah.
'The king your father is dead,' she said. 'Therefore, go to Benaiah the captain over the foreign troops and take the men he shall give you and go to Nathan the prophet and say, "Thus says David the king: Adonijah the son of Haggith exalts himself and says 'I will be king'. But I swore to Bathsheba my wife by the name of Yahweh that Jedidiah her son would be king after me. Therefore, anoint now Jedidiah my son, that he will reign after I have gone to my fathers." Do this now, my son.'
'A blessing upon you, my mother, that you spoke to the king my father before he died,' Jedidiah said, and was much abashed by his mother's laughter.
'Do not be a fool, my son,' Bathsheba said, and took from her robes the ring she had pulled from David's finger. 'Show this to Nathan, and think well on the fact that if Adonijah the son of Haggith reigns neither you nor I will live long. Tell no one the old man is dead.'
Jedidiah praised the wisdom of his mother in his heart, and went as he was told to the captain of the mercenaries.
'You remember, Benaiah, that the king my father promised I should be king after him?' he asked.
'A soldier has memories only for battles, my lord,' Benaiah said. 'A simple soldier does not speak with kings.'
'And yet you will,' said Jedidiah, and bound the bracelet that had rested upon his arm tight upon the mighty arm of Benaiah. 'It seems to me that you could serve the king my father if you had estates closer to Jerusalem, Benaiah. You must consider if there are any that please you greatly.'
'It seems to me that I remember now how your father the king spoke as you say,' Benaiah said cautiously.
Jedidiah favoured the man with a smile. 'Give me fifty of your mighty men,' he said. 'I cannot look less the prince than that person Adonijah the son of Haggith.'
'I will give you one hundred,' said Benaiah, and his voice was no longer cautious.
Nathan the prophet looked upon the face of Jedidiah and the faces of the hundred mercenaries, and bowed himself down to the ground. He agreed without hesitation that he had heard the king, many times, swear that Jedidiah was to be king after him, and went with ten of the mighty men to the house of Zadok, who had been a priest when David captured Jerusalem, and who was David's servant but not David's friend. And they anointed Jedidiah king over Israel, and the friends of Adonijah heard of it, and fled from his side.
And Jedidiah went daily to the chambers of David his father, and came out again green of face and with a list of men whose names, he regretted, had been given to him by David as traitors against the realm. And the friends of Adonijah decreased daily in number. At last the perfumes brought daily by Jedidiah into the chambers of David were no longer strong enough, and all Israel mourned to hear that David the king had died.
'I recall now that Adonijah the son of Haggith asked me for David's Shunnamite maid as a wife,' Bathsheba said idly as she sat beside her son.
'We must have her killed,' Jedidiah said at once, fearing what the girl knew.
'Why? She is nobody,' Bathsheba said.
Smiling, Jedidiah called for Benaiah, and told him he was outraged at the dishonour shown by Adonijah to the memory of David, and Benaiah, needing no more, went forth and stabbed Adonijah in his own house. When Joab, the captain of the host fled for sanctuary to the altar of Yahweh, all the servants of Jedidiah agreed that no further evidence of treason need by sought, and Benaiah struck him down as he clung to the altar. Jedidiah, being a merciful king and desiring to show only goodness and loving-kindness, spared the life of Abiathar his father's priest, merely confining him to his family estates. The man was very old and would die soon enough, unseen and forgotten. Showing yet more mercy, Jedidiah the king sent David's Shunnamite maidservant back to her father's house. The girl had become mad from her long confinement with the old king's rotting corpse, and never spoke to anyone in words that could be understood.
And Israel was silent, and Jedidiah took the name 'Peace' as the name by which he was to be known.
And the kingdom was firmly established in the hand of Solomon.