Consolidating one’s REIGN and passing on the KINGDOM to one’s own children has been one of the greatest pre-occupations of the Emperors, Kings and Satraps.
Anyone who reads THE PRINCE by Niccolo Machiavelli, would be persuaded that the RULERS down the ages have been the most ruthless in pursuing the abovementioned objective. The title of the blog HEROD & DAVID might be, at the first look, seem as if i am likely to contrast their styles in the pursuance of the said objectives, but on the contrary this blog is aimed at comparing the deeds of the the most loved king and one of the most despised rulers of Israel.
Herod was merely a tetrarch of a part of the dominion of Israel (which was under the Roman rule), but David was a king for the whole of Israel for at least 33 years leaving out the 7 odd years he ruled from Hebron. Further, if Herod had not been the Tetrarch coinciding with the birth of Jesus, he would have merely been a footnote to history.
Herod, as per suspicions available in history, got his brother murdered and married his brother’s wife- as was the custom, to raise the seed of the dead bro! Her name was Herodias and she had a daughter Salome (the subject matter of the play by name SALOME, by Oscar Wilde). One day Salome performs a dance before Herod and naturally, Herod is very impressed with his niece’/step-daughter’s performing art,that he promises to give her anything that she desires. Salome, true to her filial duties, asks her mom Herodias to name the prize. In the meanwhile, there is a Prophet by name John the Baptist, who had been condemning Herod & Herodias’ relationship, therefore Herod had put him in jail.
Salome. as advised by her mom Herodias, asks for the head of John the Baptist. As usual, the ruler cannot go back on his word, so promptly gets John the Baptist executed and serves his head on a platter to Salome.
STRATEGY:Every incident has to be construed as a strategy, especially when the thing sought has no apparent benefit. Herodias must have known how Herod got rid of his brother and was probably afraid that upon the daily insistence of John the Baptist, Herod might repent some day and get rid of Herodias along with his sense of guilt. She did not want the conscience of Herod awakened. Therefore getting John the Baptist killed would, besides stifling the VOICE OF JOHN THE BAPTIST, secure her position in the hierarchy, even after she loses her feminine charms.
The whole Christendom despises Herod and Jesus calls him a FOX.
Let us cut back and see what David did, to secure the kingdom for his off-springs . It was no less lethal.
Saul, the first King of Israel, dies in the battle and his son Ishbosheth ascends the throne, but not for the whole of Israel, as David rules a part of Israel, from Hebron for 7 years. There was a tribe(?)/people from Gibeon who were not a part of Israel but were in the midst of Israel. These Gibeonites were slain by Saul (II Samuel chap.21 ), and in any case were waiting for settling scores with the house f Saul. There was a famine in Israel for 3 years, and David asks God the reason for the famine. Thankfully for David, God says that it is because of what Saul did to the Gibeonites that the famine was upon Israel. Now the time came for the Fox to give judgement on the chicken. The Gibeonites were asked what David shud do, so that they bless Israel and the famine depart. Predictably, the Gibeonites ask of 7 sons of Saul to be handed over to them for them to kill those sons.
David is the sole authority to decide as to which 7 children of Saul to be handed over. David leaves out Mephiboseth s/o Jonathan (s/o Saul) on the grounds that David had sworn to geal mercifully with Jonathan’s house. In any case Mephiboseth was not a threat to David as he was lame in foot and was kept in David’s palace, so that none could rally around him and stake kingship!
David in a masterstroke hands over the two sons of Rizpah and 5 sons of Michal. Rizpah was the concubine of Saul and was a spunky woman. But Michal was spunkier. Michal had been betrothed to David for 100 foreskins ( that means this item could be had only from an uncircumcised non-abrahamite) but later married off to another man. Like a lion that kills the cubs of the lioness that had littered thru another lion, before fathering its own cubs, David eliminates all the children of Michal. Whether they were her children or not, is not clear from the Bible, as it also says that Michal did not conceive- whether after she was brought to David or before is a conundrum!
STRATEGY: Michal was King’s daughter and David was the king, therefore there was every reason for the Israelites to rally around the doubly ROYAL SEED, if any!!! So eliminate them and pave way for his children thru other women only.
Even today justice is given in the name of God. Aurangzeb eliminated his opponent brothers thru the due process of Justice. Dara Sikoh was executed by Aurangzeb, on legal principles.
Susima, the elder brother of Ashoka the Great, also did to Ashoka, what Dara did to Aurangzeb (instigating the father against the son). In due course both Aurangzeb and Ashoka got their brothers executed. But history highlights the fratricide of Aurangzeb and glosses over the fratricide of Asoka.
Likewise, David’s acts of killing the children/grand-children of the previous king Saul is glossed over, but the act of Herod of killing John the Baptist is highlighted in history.
The reason is simple David and Ashoka repented and showed their contrition towards the latter part of their lives. But Herod was arrogant till the end, and Aurangzeb was glorifying his self-righteousness, instead of showing CONTRITION.
“JUDGE NOT A MAN, TILL HE IS DEAD” , says the Wise One.
ACCORDINGLY, WE JUDGE THE REPENTANT ONES FAVOURABLY, BUT THE SELF-RIGHTEOUS AND THE WICKED WE DESPISE , AND ALSO GIVE NEGATIVE PUBLICITY.