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The Book of David: A New Story of the Spiritual Warrior and Leader Who Shaped Our Inner Consciousness Hardcover – October 21, 1997
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Here is Rosenberg's translation of the beginning of 2 Samuel 11:
"Here we are: a year was passing, and it is the season best for the wars of kings. David sends out Joab, his own retinue, and all of Israel's army; and they bring the Ammonites to their knees, beseiging Rabbah. Meanwhile David lingered in Jerusalem. It happens one late afternoon that David rises from his bed, takes a walk around the palace roof, and from there, his glance falls upon a woman in her bath. The woman appeared very beautiful in his eyes."
Breathlessly dramatic but the tenses are all wrong, and words like "lingered" and "glance" miss the simplicity of the Hebrew text. Rosenberg subsequently has David try to "uncover more" about the naked woman in her bath, and has his messengers "beseige" Bathsheba, just as Joab is beseiging Rabbah. These coy, leering figures are not in the Hebrew text, either, which presents the affair in eight blunt words: Vayishlach David malachim vayikachah vatavo eilav vayishchav imah (literally "And David sent messengers, and he got her, and she came to him, and he slept with her"). This story is filled with ironies. Why is it necessary to add ones that aren't in the text?Read more ›
First, the brilliant modern translations of portions of the story of David from 2 Samuel, and several of the most beautiful Psalms.
Second, the tale of the remarkable relationship between "S", the writer behind much of 2 Samuel, and "J", the writer of the Pentateuch. (The first five books of the bible - the books of the law.) According to Rosenberg, J, the brilliant woman writer and poet of Solomon's court, most likely acted as mentor and mother-figure to the young male prodigy S. Many of the Psalms and stories of David seem to reverberate with this close relationship.
As well, Rosenberg studies the indigenous or "Shamanistic" nature of S's relationship with the land, as reflected in his poetry, which provides new insight into the intense yearning for Israel experienced by Jews through the ages.
I highly recommend this book both for its scholarship and its artistic qualities. Anyone with any interest in David, the Jewish experience, Biblical studies, or poetry in general, will find this book a delight.
"The Biblical David taught us what it is to be, as David Rosenberg puts it,
'a poet and thinker, a warrior and peacemaker, a leader and innovator.' We
think we know David, but Mr. Rosenberg teaches us how to see this great
figure with fresh eyes. No readers ideas of religion, politics or
literature will go unchanged--or unimproved--by Mr. Rosenberg's profound,
yet always lively work of scholarship and art. He has written a soulful,
heartfelt, important book."
"Rosenberg not only dusts off the traditional image of David, he restores
to us one of the great visionaries of all time. The Book of David is one
of those unexpected, exhilerating books that forces you to rethink the
nature of the human condition, and that awakens a strange, rare sense of
"Like his translation of The Book of J, Rosenberg's version of this
biblical text is striking for its music, imagery, and human compassion. In
an intriguing commentary, King David emerges clearly as a poet, and as the
herald of a court of writers that blossomed under Solomon. Here Rosenberg
unveils a portrait of the artist whose vision has no boundaries."
"David Rosenberg has used his intelligent, poetic, and most genre-bending
mind to reimagine King David, the turbulent world into which he was born,
and to reassess the writers and religious figures who later appropriated
his life. The Book of David provides us with first-rate intellectual excitement."
--Barbara Probst Solomon