The first verse of Second Samuel is this:
Now it came to pass after the death of Saul, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Amalekites, and David had abode two days in Ziklag. 2 Samuel 1.1
That's right. Second Samuel begins with David returning "from the slaughter of the Amalekites."
It's hard to see how David could have found any Amalekites to slaughter since Saul killed them all just a little while before (68), but maybe God created some more Amalekites just so David could slaughter them again. He might have. He's the type.
In any case, when David came back from slaughtering Amalekites, a messenger was waiting for him. And who do you think the messenger was? That's right, an Amalekite!
I am an Amalekite. 1:8
The Amalekite told David that when Saul was mortally wounded, he asked him to put him out of his misery. So he did. Then he removed Saul's bracelet and crown and brought them to David.
So I stood upon him, and slew him, because I was sure that he could not live after that he was fallen: and I took the crown that was upon his head, and the bracelet that was on his arm, and have brought them hither unto my lord. 1:10
When David heard this, he and all of his men "rent their clothes" (Bible folks are always doing that).
Then David took hold on his clothes, and rent them; and likewise all the men that were with him. 1:11
David then thanked the Amalekite for his kindness by having one of his "young men fall upon him."
David called one of the young men, and said, Go near, and fall upon him. And he smote him that he died. 1:15
After Saul's death, David became king of Judah and Saul's son, Ishbosheth, king of Israel. Things didn't go well for poor Ishbosheth, though. First his father and brothers were killed by God (75). Then his captain, Abner, was killed by David's captain, Joel. And his army was always fighting a losing battle with David's. He was about ready to call it quits.
When Saul's son heard that Abner was dead in Hebron, his hands were feeble, and all the Israelites were troubled. 2 Samuel 4:1
After Abner died, Rechab and Baanah became Ishbosheth's captains.
Saul's son had two men that were captains of bands: the name of the one was Baanah, and the name of the other Rechab. 4:2
One day Rechab and Baanah went to visit Ishbosheth, who was taking a nap at the time.
Rechab and Baanah, went, and came about the heat of the day to the house of Ishbosheth, who lay on a bed at noon. 4:5
They pretended to be picking up some wheat, but they really stopped by to kill him. And they "smote him under the fifth rib" (the preferred place to smite someone in the Bible).
They came thither into the midst of the house, as though they would have fetched wheat; and they smote him under the fifth rib. 4:6
After smiting him, they cut off his head and took it to David.
When they came into the house, he lay on his bed in his bedchamber, and they smote him, and slew him, and beheaded him, and took his head. And they brought the head of Ishbosheth unto David. 4:7-8
They figured David would be pleased, since he and Ishbosheth were enemies. But they were wrong.
David told them about how he killed the Amalekite who killed Saul (75), even though Saul asked him to since he was mortally wounded. Now he was going to kill them for killing Saul's son, Ishbosheth.
When one told me, saying, Behold, Saul is dead, thinking to have brought good tidings, I took hold of him, and slew him ... How much more, when wicked men have slain a righteous person in his own house upon his bed? 4:10-11
So David had his "young men" kill Rechab and Baanah, cut off their hands and feet, and hang their bodies up over the pool in Hebron.
David commanded his young men, and they slew them, and cut off their hands and their feet, and hanged them up over the pool in Hebron. 4:12
Mutilated bodies hanging over pools make such nice decorations!
Now that Ishbosheth is dead, David is king of both Israel and Judah, and he's fighting his old friends, the Philistines -- with God's help, of course.
God is David's military adviser. David asked him if he should attack the Philistines, and God said, "Attack: I will help you kill them."
David enquired of the LORD, saying, Shall I go up to the Philistines? wilt thou deliver them into mine hand? And the LORD said unto David, Go up: for I will doubtless deliver the Philistines into thine hand. 2 Samuel 5:19
When they finished slaughtering the Philistines, David asked God if they should do it again. And God said, "Yeah, let's do it again. Only this time attack from behind when you hear troops marching in the tree tops."
When David enquired of the LORD, he said, Thou shalt not go up; but fetch a compass behind them, and come upon them over against the mulberry trees. Then shall the LORD go out before thee, to smite the host of the Philistines. And let it be, when thou hearest the sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry trees, that then thou shalt bestir thyself: for then shall the LORD go out before thee, to smite the host of the Philistines. 5:23-24
God, I tell you, is a military genius!
So David waited until he heard noises in the mulberry trees and then followed God, smiting the Philistines from behind.
And David did so, as the LORD had commanded him; and smote the Philistines. 5:25
The Bible doesn't say how many Philistines died in these two killings, so I'll just give it the usual 1000 for each.
The ark of the Lord is nothing but trouble.
Remember when the Philistines had it? God plagued them with hemorrhoids in their secret parts, so they sent it to one city after another. But God's hemorrhoid's followed the ark wherever it went. (61).
Finally the Philistines got rid of the damned thing by giving God five golden hemorrhoids and sending the ark to Bethshemesh. But then the Bethshemeshites looked into the ark (all of them?), so God killed 50,070.
And now David decides to bring the ark back to Jerusalem. During the trip David and his gang of 30,000 were madly singing and dancing away, when the oxen stumbled and the ark started to fall. Uzzah reached out and tried to steady the cart and, in so doing, touched the ark of the Lord. So God, of course, had to kill him.
That was the condensed version. Here's the story from the Bible.
David gathered together all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. And David arose, and went with all the people that were with him from Baale of Judah, to bring up from thence the ark of God ... And they set the ark of God upon a new cart ... and Uzzah ... drave the new cart ... David and all the house of Israel played before the LORD on all manner of instruments made of fir wood, even on harps, and on psalteries, and on timbrels, and on cornets, and on cymbals. And when they came to Nachon's threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God. 2 Samuel 6:1-7
I guess it was God's way of saying, "Thanks Uzzah."
How should we treat prisoners of war? Fortunately, as with so many difficult questions, the Bible has the answer!
Bible believers don't need to worry about the Geneva Convention. God tells them directly what to do with their POWs in the Bible. All they have to do is follow David's example.
David ... smote Moab, and measured them with a line, casting them down to the ground; even with two lines measured he to put to death, and with one full line to keep alive. And so the Moabites became David's servants, and brought gifts. 2 Samuel 8:1-2
So when it comes to POWs, we know what is right in the eyes of the Lord: kill two-thirds of them and enslave the rest.
That is the Bible's infallible answer.
(My estimate of 667 is two thirds of the standard Biblical slaughter of 1000.)
As I mentioned in the introduction, God approved all of David's killings (except for the matter of Uriah).
David did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, and turned not aside from any thing that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite. 1 Kings 15:5
He even helped out with most of them. Still, some of the ones from 2 Samuel 8-10 are just too damned boring to deal with separately, so I'm lumping them together here.
2 Samuel 8 begins by telling us that David somehow found some more Philistines to smite.
It came to pass that David smote the Philistines, and subdued them. 2 Samuel 8:1
Then David smote Hadadezer, the king of Zobah, "taking" 1000 chariots, 700 (or 7000, if you believe the story in 1 Chronicles 18:3-4) horsemen, and 20,000 foot soldiers. [Since the text doesn't say that David killed the 20,700 (or 27,000) soldiers, I'n not counting them as killings.]
David smote also Hadadezer ... king of Zobah ... And David took from him a thousand chariots, and seven hundred horsemen, and twenty thousand footmen. 2 Samuel 8:3-4a
David smote Hadarezer king of Zobah ... And David took from him a thousand chariots, and seven thousand horsemen, and twenty thousand footmen. 1 Chronicles 18:3-4
David hamstrung ("houghed" in the KJV) all but 100 of the 1000 horses.
David houghed all the chariot horses, but reserved of them for an hundred chariots. 2 Samuel 8:4b
Then he killed 22,000 Syrians. "And the Lord gave David victory wherever he went." (NIV)
When the Syrians of Damascus came to succour Hadadezer king of Zobah, David slew of the Syrians two and twenty thousand men ... and the Syrians became servants to David, and brought gifts. ... And the LORD preserved David whithersoever he went. 2 Samuel 8:5-6
And another 40,700 Syrians (or was it 47,000?).
The Syrians fled before Israel; and David slew the men of seven hundred chariots of the Syrians, and forty thousand horsemen. 2 Samuel 10:18
But the Syrians fled before Israel; and David slew of the Syrians seven thousand men which fought in chariots, and forty thousand footmen. 1 Chronicles 19:8
So I'll give David (and God) credit for 66,850: 1000 Philistines and 65,850 Syrians. (22,000 in the first killing and 43,850 in the second, taking the average of 47,000 and 40,070 from the stories in 2 Samuel 10 and 1 Chronicles 19.)
There's not a lot to go on here, just a few contradictory verses from four different books.
There's a one-verse story from 2 Samuel saying that David got a name for himself by killing 18,000 Syrians in the valley of salt.
David gat him a name when he returned from smiting of the Syrians in the valley of salt, being eighteen thousand men. 2 Samuel 8:13
Then there's a (sort of) similar verse from 1 Chronicles that agrees with 2 Samuel on the number killed (18,000) and the site of the killing (the valley of salt), but disagrees about the identities of the killer (Abishai vs. David) and the people killed (Syrians vs. Edomites).
Abishai ... slew of the Edomites in the valley of salt eighteen thousand. 1 Chronicles 18:12
And there's a Psalm story that says it was Joab who killed 12,000 in the valley of salt with the candlestick (or was it the lead pipe?).
Joab returned, and smote of Edom in the valley of salt twelve thousand. Psalm 60:1
There's something else we are told about this killing. After the 18,000 (or 12,000) Edomites (or Syrians) were killed in the valley of salt by David (or Abishai or Joab), Joab killed every male in Edom.
When David was in Edom, and Joab the captain of the host was gone up to bury the slain, after he had smitten every male in Edom; (For six months did Joab remain there with all Israel, until he had cut off every male in Edom:) 1 Kings 11:15-16
So how many were killed in this killing? 18,000 or 12,000 in the valley of salt? And how many males were killed in Edom in Joab's male genocide?
I'll take 15,000 (the average of 12,000 and 18,000) for the number of Edomite (or Syrian) soldiers that were killed, and guess that 50,000 males of all ages were slaughtered, for a total of 65,000 in all.
I'm not sure what "thus" was, but it whatever it was, it wasn't very nice.
First David sent Joab "and all Israel," and "they destroyed the children of Ammon" and besieged the city of Rabbah.
At the time when kings go forth to battle ... David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah. 2 Samuel 11:1
Joab led forth the power of the army, and wasted the country of the children of Ammon, and came and besieged Rabbah. But David tarried at Jerusalem. And Joab smote Rabbah, and destroyed it. 1 Chronicles 20:1
Then he went to Rabbah and put a gold crown on his head that weighed one talent (about 30 kilograms).
David ... went to Rabbah and ... took their king's crown from off his head, the weight whereof was a talent of gold with the precious stones: and it was set on David's head. And he brought forth the spoil of the city in great abundance. 2 Samuel 12:30
And finally he did this to "all the cities of the children of Ammon":
He brought forth the people that were therein, and put them under saws, and under harrows of iron, and under axes of iron, and made them pass through the brick-kiln: and thus did he unto all the cities of the children of Ammon. 2 Samuel 12:31
David's treatment of the Ammonites is stated a bit more clearly in the 1 Chronicles version of this story.
He brought out the people that were in it, and cut them with saws, and with harrows of iron, and with axes. Even so dealt David with all the cities of the children of Ammon. 1 Chronicles 20.3
Neither story says how many Ammonites were killed. I'll guess 1000.
You've probably heard the story about David and Bathsheba. You know, the one where David sees Bathsheba taking a bath, and since he likes what he sees, he has sex with her.
In an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon. And David sent and enquired after the woman. And one said, Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite? And David sent messengers, and took her; and she came in unto him, and he lay with her. 2 Samuel 11:2-4
She becomes pregnant with David's child and David sends her husband (Uriah) into the front lines to be killed.
The woman conceived, and sent and told David, and said, I am with child. 11:5
In the morning ... David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah ... saying, Set ye Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retire ye from him, that he may be smitten, and die ... And Uriah the Hittite died. 11:14-17
Well, that's not what this story is about. In fact, the killing of Uriah is the only one of David's many killings that God disapproved of. David had Uriah killed and God had nothing to do with it.
The thing that David had done displeased the LORD. 11:27
God was displeased with David for killing Uriah and taking his wife, but he forgave him for it.
The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die. 12:13
Still, God had to do something to show his displeasure. Here's what he decided to do: he'd have David's wives raped by his neighbor while everyone else watches.
Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun. 12:11
It turns out that the "neighbor" that God sends to do his dirty work is David's own son, Absalom.
Ahithophel said unto Absalom, Go in unto thy father's concubines, which he hath left to keep the house ... So they spread Absalom a tent upon the top of the house; and Absalom went in unto his father's concubines in the sight of all Israel. 2 Samuel 16:21-22
But that didn't quite do it. David had caused God's enemies to blaspheme, so God had to give them something else to blaspheme about. But what?
Because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme. 12:14a
Kill the baby, that's what.
The child also that is born unto thee shall surely die. 12:14b
And that's what God did, but not all at once. He let the baby suffer for a while.
The LORD struck the child that Uriah's wife bare unto David, and it was very sick. 12:15
When God made the baby sick, David pleaded with God to stop tormenting him. But God wouldn't listen.
David therefore besought God for the child; and David fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth. 12:16
Finally, after the baby suffered for seven days, God killed him.
On the seventh day, that the child died. 12:18
After the baby died, David washed, got dressed, had a nice meal, and worshiped the God who killed his son.
David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the LORD, and worshipped: then he ... did eat. 12:20
The story has a happy ending, though. After Bathsheba's baby boy is killed by God, David comforts her by going "in unto her." (He's such a nice guy!)
David comforted Bathsheba his wife, and went in unto her. 12:24a
And Bathsheba conceives and bears another son (Solomon).
And she bare a son, and he called his name Solomon. 12:24b
And God loved Solomon.
And the LORD loved him. 12:24c
He probably said to himself, as the Brick Testament (www.bricktestament.com) suggests, "I don't think I'll kill this one."
It all started with one of God's famous three-year famines. David asked God why he sent the famine.
Then there was a famine in the days of David three years, year after year; and David enquired of the LORD. 2 Samuel 21:1a
God said it was because Saul killed some Gibeonites. (The Bible doesn't say when or where Saul supposedly did this.)
The LORD answered, It is for Saul, and for his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites. 21:1b
So David asked the Gibeonites what he could do to make atonement.
Wherefore David said unto the Gibeonites, What shall I do for you? and wherewith shall I make the atonement? 21:3
The Gibeonites said that David should give them Saul's seven sons so they could hang them up before the Lord.
They answered the king ... Let seven men of his sons be delivered unto us, and we will hang them up unto the LORD. 21:5-6
David agreed, giving them two of Saul's sons and five of his grandsons. "And they hanged them in the hill before the Lord."
The king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bare unto Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth; and the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul ... And he delivered them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them in the hill before the LORD. 21:8-9
And that satisfied God so that he quit starving the Israelites.
And after that God was intreated for the land. 21:14
The Bible doesn't say how many Israelites died in God's three year famine. I'll guess 3000, 1000 for each year for the famine.
These be the names of the mighty men whom David had: 2 Samuel 23:8a<
These also are the chief of the mighty men whom David had ... to make him king, according to the word of the LORD concerning Israel. And this is the number of the mighty men whom David had: 1 Chronicles 11:10-11a
There is some confusion about this one. Who was the chief of David's captains (Adino or Jashobeam) and how many did he kill with his spear at one time (300 or 800)? Was it two different captains in two different slaughters? I'll give them both credit and call it 1100.
The Tachmonite that sat in the seat, chief among the captains; the same was Adino the Eznite: he lift up his spear against eight hundred, whom he slew at one time. 2 Samuel 23:8
Jashobeam, an Hachmonite, the chief of the captains: he lifted up his spear against three hundred slain by him at one time. 1 Chronicles 11:11b
Next we have the son of Dodo who smote Philistines until his hand stuck to his sword, "and the LORD wrought a great victory that day." It doesn't say how many he killed; I'll guess 1000.
Eleazar the son of Dodo ... smote the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand clave unto the sword: and the LORD wrought a great victory that day. 2 Samuel 23:9-10
Eleazar the son of Dodo ... one of the three mighties ... slew the Philistines; and the LORD saved them by a great deliverance. 1 Chronicles 11:12-14
Shammah isn't mentioned in the 1 Chronicles account, but according to 2 Samuel, God was involved since "the Lord wrought a great victory." I'll give God and Shammah credit for another 1000 for this "great victory."
Shammah the son of Agee ... slew the Philistines: and the LORD wrought a great victory. 2 Samuel 23:11-12
Abishai killed 300 Philistines with his spear.
Abishai ... lifted up his spear against three hundred, and slew them. 2 Samuel 23:18
Abishai the brother of Joab, he was chief of the three: for lifting up his spear against three hundred, he slew them. 1 Chronicles 11:20
This one is my favorite. Benaiah killed two lion-like men and then a lion in a snowy pit. After that he killed a good-looking, 7.5 foot tall Egyptian with the Egyptian's spear.
Benaiah the son of Jehoiada ... slew two lionlike men of Moab: he went down also and slew a lion in the midst of a pit in time of snow. And he slew an Egyptian, a goodly man: and the Egyptian had a spear in his hand. 2 Samuel 23:20-21
Benaiah the son of Jehoiada ... slew two lionlike men of Moab: also he went down and slew a lion in a pit in a snowy day. And he slew an Egyptian, a man of great stature, five cubits high; and in the Egyptian's hand was a spear like a weaver's beam; and he went down to him with a staff, and plucked the spear out of the Egyptian's hand, and slew him with his own spear. 1 Chronicles 11:22-23
This is not an easy one to explain, but I'll give it a try.
It all starts with God telling David to do a census, you know like the one the U.S. Constitution requires us to do every ten years.
And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah. 2 Samuel 24:1
Or was it Satan that asked David to do the census, as it says in 1 Chronicles 21.1?
Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel. 1 Chronicles 21:1
Oh well, maybe it was both. They often work together (132). In any case, David sent Joab out to take the census, and after 9 months and 20 days, Joab came back with the results: there were 800,000 sword-yielding men in Israel and 500,000 in Judah.
So when they had gone through all the land, they came to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days. And Joab gave up the sum of the number of the people unto the king: and there were in Israel eight hundred thousand valiant men that drew the sword; and the men of Judah were five hundred thousand men. 2 Samuel 24:8-9
Or was it was 1,100,000 and 470,000 men in Israel and Judah, as it says in 1 Chronicles 21:5?
Joab gave the sum of the number of the people unto David. And all they of Israel were a thousand thousand and an hundred thousand men that drew sword: and Judah was four hundred threescore and ten thousand men that drew sword. 1 Chronicles 21:5
Whichever it may have been, either is comparable to the number of active duty soldiers in the U.S. military today. Not bad for small tribal kingdom in 1000 BCE!
After the census, David decided that he had done something wrong, which is weird since he had only taken a census that God told him to take.
David's heart smote him after that he had numbered the people. And David said unto the LORD, I have sinned greatly in that I have done. 2 Samuel 24:10
And God was angry, too, at least that's what the prophet Gad told him. Gad said God offered David three choices:
Thus saith the LORD, I offer thee three things; choose thee one of them, that I may do it unto thee. 2 Samuel 24:11-12
1. Seven years of famine,
Shall seven years of famine come unto thee in thy land? 2 Samuel 24:13a
(or three years if you believe the story in 1 Chronicles 21)
Either three years' famine. 1 Chronicles 21:12a
2. Three months of losing battles,
Or wilt thou flee three months before thine enemies, while they pursue thee? 2 Samuel 24:13b
3. Three days of pestilence.
Or that there be three days' pestilence in they land? 2 Samuel 24:13c
David couldn't decide, so God decided for him. God chose the three days of pestilence, thereby killing 70,000 men, which would mean at least a couple hundred thousand people (since only men count to God).
So the LORD sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning even to the time appointed: and there died of the people from Dan even to Beersheba seventy thousand men. 2 Samuel 24:15
But God was still pissed off, even after he finished killing a couple hundred thousand people in the pestilence. So he sent an angel to destroy the city of Jerusalem. But before the angel destroyed the city, God "repented him of the evil" that he intended to do, and he told the angel to stop.
When the angel stretched out his hand upon Jerusalem to destroy it, the LORD repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed the people, It is enough: stay now thine hand. 2 Samuel 24:16
When David saw the angel that was still killing people, he said, "I've sinned, but what have these people done?" A good question, that God, of course, completely ignores.
David spake unto the LORD when he saw the angel that smote the people, and said, Lo, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly: but these sheep, what have they done? 2 Samuel 24:17
Finally, Gad tells David to buy some land, make an altar, and kill some animals to make God quit killing people. So David buys some land for 50 shekels of silver (or 600 shekels of gold if you prefer the story in 1 Chronicles 21), sets up an altar, and kills some animals for God.
Gad came that day to David, and said unto him, Go up, rear an altar unto the LORD in the threshingfloor of Araunah the Jebusite ... So David bought the threshingfloor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver. And David built there an altar unto the LORD, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the LORD was intreated for the land, and the plague was stayed from Israel. 2 Samuel 24:18-25
And God finally stopped killing people.
So the LORD was intreated for the land, and the plague was stayed from Israel. 2 Samuel 24:25