Michaelangelo's David

(c 1033 BC - 970 BC)

Israelite King

The Life of David

King David is a legendary king of Israel, a Jewish state in Palestine. He united the people of Israel and expanded the territory under his rule at a time when that state was at its height in the ancient world. His name means "beloved" in Hebrew.

According to the holy books of Judaism and Christianity, known to the English speaking world as The Bible, David was a richeous man, a warrior, musician and poet. He is considered by believers to be the writer of The Book of Psalms. The most famous psalm is number 23:

"A song of David. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He causes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul; He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake.
Even when I walk in the valley of darkness, I will fear no evil for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff-they comfort me.
You set a table before me in the presence of my adversaries; You anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows.
May only goodness and kindness pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for length of days."

Almost all knowledge of him is derived from the Biblical books of Samuel I and II, Kings I and Chronicles I. Many historians consider him a legendary figure - there are very few mentions of him outside of the Bible. Jews (adherents of Judaism) consider him to a figure who ruled over a Jewish golden age. Later Jews developed stories of a figure known as the Messiah who would return the Jewish people back to a similar golden age. Christians believe their messiah, Jesus Christ, was descended from David. Muslims accept David (Daud) as a prophet but the Biblical account containing adultery and murder is rejected.

According to Biblical sources, David was the eighth and youngest son of Jesse from the kingly tribe of Judah. When young, David was a shepherd in Bethlehem (now known as "the city of David"). He was declared the rightful king by a prophet called Samuel but ignored this. He was eventually summoned by the actual monarch, Saul, to be his court musician.

Rembrant: David plays the lyre for Saul
David plays the lyre for Saul

In one legendary confrontation, David, armed with a sling shot and a few stones, defeated a tall, armored giant called Goliath (a word that now means something large in English). This feat made the king appoint David as a military commander.

He eventually became king and defeated the surrounding peoples including Philistines (a word that now means "uncultured" in English but also the same root as the word "Palestine"), Amalekites, Edomites, Ammonites and Moabites. He is credited with capturing the city of Jerusalem.

He was succeeded by his son, Soloman who built a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and is said to have been the "wisest of men".

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Inventions from the period that includes the Israelite period.

These are words found in English from Hebrew.

External David Links

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A brief biography from the Jewish Virtual Library.