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Book of Jasher: The Song of the Bow

Updated: Apr 8, 2022

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[Note: This is one of a series listed under the heading: Wordie Post." It was originally posted on the Word Press blog entitled "Our Daily Bread," found at rtippett97@wordpress.com. The changes at Word Press are similar to those on Twitter and Facebook, where I was posting to an empty space. That was because I began and maintained that blog as one of their free offerings. When their force to change to a paid blog website did not move me, they cancelled their "Reader," so posting on Word Press has become like a caged animal at the zoo, where only workers occasionally toss the animals a bite to eat. Word Press [et al] is like what I imagine life was like in the satellite countries of the Soviet Union: meager, bleak, spiritless. So, I am transferring those forty articles here.]


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The “Book of Jasher” is mentioned only twice in the Hebrew Bible: once in Joshua and once in 2 Samuel. In 2 Samuel is when David heard the news of Saul’s death and the death of his army, including his sons, most notable being Jonathan. David ordered this song be taught to the Israelite children, but Jewish scholars disagree if the book ever truly existed, as there is no record in the library of Hebrew scrolls.


I believe the answer to this is the Book of Jasher [a name that means “the Upright” or “the Just Man] can be found by realizing David had been made an honorary Philistine, because he was escaping from Saul’s desire to kill him. David received the news of Saul’s defeat by the Philistine King who gave David asylum in the Philistine town given to David by that king, Ziklag. Thus, the Book of Jasher would have been a book of records, so to speak, of Philistine kings and great warriors, speaking highly of their victories. Since the Philistines had defeated Saul’s army at Mount Gilboa, the story needed to be recorded in the Philistines book of feats.


2 Samuel 1:17 states that David “ordered that the people of Judah be taught this lament of the bow.” It is assumed that “the bow” is the weapon of an archer, with Jonathan known to be an excellent archer. I believe the word is rooted in “qowsh” and more in line with the “bending” of a strong shaft, such that is does not break while suppling a source of power when the bend is released. As a song of “the bending,” the lesson that needed to be taught to the Israelite children was to realize what goes up must come down – a trajectory of an arc – such that the same word also means “rainbow.” Thus, Saul had risen to power through strength, but he became bent with the madness of self-importance, forgetting Yahweh was the true power of Israel, so Saul fell back to earth as a defeated human being: He lived by the sword and he died by the sword.


For David to order this story be told to Israelite children says the Philistine children would routinely be taught the lessons of live by the sword, expecting to die by the sword. Thus, they were raised to always fight the enemies of their people, regardless of the outcome. The battles might be won or lost, but the war goes on forever. David knew Yahweh; and, he was His anointed king to lead the Israelites, after the right time came. David was a true prince of Saul’s house, having married Saul’s daughter after meeting a challenge set before him by Saul: Bring me the foreskins of a hundred Philistines. David brought back two hundred and was thereby rightfully married into the royal family. After Saul’s death, along with most of his sons, the surviving son became king; but he only lasted two years. David became a rightful choice to be King of Israel then.


The story of David bringing back the two hundred foreskins has been incorrectly told. We read that David killed the Philistines and took their foreskins; but that makes no sense. That becomes mutilation after death, which was what the Philistine king did to Saul’s and his sons’ bodies. David having Yahweh’s power available to him would have been no match for any Philistine army; so, to kill them in battle and then mutilate their corpses in order to win a woman’s hand in marriage would have been a corrupt thing to do. Instead, with Yahweh’s power within him and full of confidence that his God was the only true God, David converted two hundred Philistines – including their king – and they all willingly were circumcised in the same manner as were all adult males converting to belief in Yahweh. Those foreskins were collected and taken back to Saul, as proof that he truly was a rightful heir to the throne of Israel. Marrying Saul’s daughter was mere procedural to make that line of succession official.


By realizing this aspect of that story [never preached about in an Episcopal Church], one can see how going to the Philistine king for asylum was a natural thing to do, as both men served the same God. David would marry a Philistine woman and have children in Ziklag, while avoiding Saul. David refused to help the Philistines fight the Israelites, but he did not fight to stop them from waring with Saul’s army either. All of this needs to be intuited, in order to give greater meaning to what otherwise just seems like strange stories that are loose ends … until tied together.

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