Part II

CHapter 1

Page 106: When the Mad Princess says that she understands where Shelomoam's fits of rage come from, she is alluding to the fits of rage that her own father, King Saul, famously experienced.

Page 106: When the Mad Princess says, "I prayed for this child," she is using the same formulation that Hannah uses in 1 Samuel 1:27 when she brings Samuel to serve God at the Shiloh temple, as she had promised when she had prayed to God to give her a child. In using this formulation, the Mad Princess is also restoring a story to its original family. Some scholars believe that the Biblical story of the circumstances of Samuel's birth was actually written initially as the birth story of Saul. Hannah's entire statement, in 1 Samuel 1:27-28, is "I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.” The words translated as "what I asked" (which is actually two phrases in the Hebrew), "I give him," and "will be given over" are all variants of the root that is also the root of the name Saul. In fact, "will be given over" is "saul" in Hebrew. These scholars speculate that when Saul fell out of favor, his famous birth story was transferred to another character. As Saul's daughter, the Mad Princess reclaims this story for the House of Saul.

Page 106: "I’ve seen it before, that same deep, wild, uncontrollable attraction. Many years ago I saw two other young men, one handsome and tall just like you, but unlike you in his innocence and noble spirit, and the other with beautiful eyes and full of charm. Oh, what charm. No one could resist his bewitching charm." Here, the Mad Princess is thinking about the attraction of her brother Jonathan to David’s charm, as the Bible describes it in 1 Samuel 18:1: “Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself.”


Chapter 2

Page 108: "At first, my father ignored the people’s wishes and continued raising his cattle and plowing his fields." The idea that Saul remained a farmer even after being anointed king is implied by 1 Samuel 11:5: “Just then Saul was returning from the fields, behind his oxen”.

Page 109: "Father’s beauty became a weapon in the hands of his opponents. His critics maliciously claimed that the Israelites, after yearning for a king for so long, could not resist the handsome face, the broad shoulders, and the terrific height of the young peasant from Benjamin and forced Samuel to anoint him." Later in the Bible's story, when God sends Samuel to choose a new king (who turns out to be David), God specifically tells Samuel not to be led astray by a candidate's looks (1 Samuel 16:7): “But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him [David's brother Eliab]. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.’”

Pages 109-110: "Thirty thousand soldiers had fallen in that war, among them the two sons of Eli, the old priest of the Shiloh temple, who fell out of his chair and broke his neck when he received the bitter news that the Holy Ark had fallen into the hands of uncircumcised foreigners." The story of the failed battle at Ebenezer is told in chapter 4 of 1 Samuel.

Page 110: "Indeed, when the King of Ammon demanded that the people of Jabesh Gilead become his slaves, everyone assumed they would submit quickly, offering no resistance . . . Father selected a prime bull from his herd and cut it into twelve pieces as the stunned elders of Benjamin looked on. That very day, twelve messengers set out for the twelve regions of Israel, each one carrying a blood-soaked bundle and a message: thus will be done to the cattle of any person who refuses to join Saul’s army. . . . Father recruited three hundred thirty thousand fighters into his army, which became the region’s largest force. The complacent Ammonites, so certain of their victory, suffered a crushing surprise attack, proving to all the surrounding nations that the Hebrews were defending themselves once more." All of these details are given in the Bible's story in 1 Samuel 11:1-11. Saul's method, cutting up the bull and sending a piece to each tribe, is a call-back to the horrifying story that ends the Book of Judges, in which a Levite, decrying the lawlessness that has taken over Israel and that has allowed Benjaminites to rape and kill his concubine, cuts up his dead concubine and sends a piece to every tribe. (See chapter 19 of Judges for the whole story, and see Judges 19:29 for the specific description: "When he reached home, he took a knife and cut up his concubine, limb by limb, into twelve parts and sent them into all the areas of Israel.") Apparently, this was an effective method of shaming in ancient Israel, as it works both times to get the Israelites to take up arms (see Judges 20:1: "Then all Israel from Dan to Beersheba and from the land of Gilead came together as one and assembled before the LORD in Mizpah.").

Page 111: “'Samson has slain his thousands, and Saul his tens of thousands.'” This cheer does not appear in the Bible as such, but foreshadows the cheer that will undermine Saul later and that does appear in the Bible (1 Samuel 18:7): “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.” Samson refers to the heroic figure from the Book of Judges (chapters 13-15) who killed many Philistines and, before Saul, would have been viewed by the people as the ultimate fighting hero.

Page 111: "Father was embarrassed by all this and tried to hide among the supplies, but Samuel the Prophet dragged him by his cloak up to the dais." In the Bible this happens before the war with Nahash the Ammonite (1 Samuel 10:21-22), describing a lottery to identify God's chosen king: “Then he brought forward the tribe of Benjamin, clan by clan, and Matri’s clan was taken. Finally Saul son of Kish was taken. But when they looked for him, he was not to be found. So they inquired further of the LORD, 'Has the man come here yet?' And the LORD said, 'Yes, he has hidden himself among the supplies.'" Like Saul, Moses is also described as a reluctant leader (see chapters 3 and 4 of Exodus).

Page 111: “'Long live Saul son of Kish, King of Israel!' the crowd roared." See 1 Samuel 10:24: “Then the people shouted, ‘Long live the king!’”

Page 111: “The Judeans have always tried to undermine leaders from the line of Rachel. They even tried to question Joshua’s position by spreading false tales about Moses appointing the head of their tribe, Caleb son of Jephunneh, to be his successor.” Although such a claim is not made in the Bible, Caleb is indeed singled out and described in glowing terms (Numbers 13:30): “Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, ‘We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.’” God acknowledges his contribution in Numbers 14:24, making him one of only two men of his generation to enter into the Promised Land: "'But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.’”

Page 111: "[T]he Levites, as everyone knew, stood outside the tribal divisions." That is, the Levites had no land of their own. According to Deuteronomy 18:1: “The Levitical priests—indeed, the whole tribe of Levi—are to have no allotment or inheritance with Israel. They shall live on the food offerings presented to the LORD, for that is their inheritance.”

Page 111: The various cases of the younger son overtaking the older one are found throughout the Book of Genesis. See Genesis 17:20-21 (Issac and Ishmael): "'And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation. But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year.'” See Genesis 27:40 (Jacob and Esau): "'You will live by the sword and you will serve your brother.'" See Genesis 47:11 (Joseph and his brothers): "So Joseph settled his father and his brothers in Egypt and gave them property in the best part of the land, the district of Rameses, as Pharaoh directed." See Genesis 48:14 (Ephraim and Manasseh): "But Israel reached out his right hand and put it on Ephraim's head, though he was the younger, and crossing his arms, he put his left hand on Manasseh's head, even though Manasseh was the firstborn." See Genesis 29:18 (Rachel): "Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, 'I'll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel.'"

Page 111: The story of Joshua can be found in the Book of Joshua, as well as throughout the Pentateuch. The story of Ehud can be found in Judges 3:12-30. The story of Deborah and Barak can be found in chapters 4 and 5 of the Book of Judges. The story of Gideon can be found in chapters 6-8 of the Book of Judges. The story of Jephthah can be found in Judges 10:6-12:7.

Page 112: “'Priests are required to be firstborns. That is the sacred law of the temples.'” The Bible refers to the more ancient idea that firstborns served as priests when it explains that the Levites are to serve as priests in place of the firstborn of Israel. See Numbers 3:11-13: "The Lord also said to Moses, 'I have taken the Levites from among the Israelites in place of the first male offspring of every Israelite woman. The Levites are mine, for all the firstborn are mine. When I struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, I set apart for myself every firstborn in Israel, whether human or animal. They are to be mine. I am the Lord.'” There is evidence in the Bible and in the later history of Israel that the priesthood was contested and became more and more limited over time.

Page 112: “'Jacob cursed his three oldest sons, but he called our forefather a lion cub and granted him eternal rule.'” Genesis 49:8-10 quotes the blessing given by Jacob to Judah: "'Judah, your brothers will praise you; your hand will be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons will bow down to you. You are a lion’s cub, Judah; you return from the prey, my son. Like a lion he crouches and lies down, like a lioness—who dares to rouse him? The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,until he to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be his.’” The lion became the symbol of the tribe of Judah.

Page 112: “'He may be from Benjamin, the youngest of the tribes, but there is no one on earth as good.'” Samuel's statement here combines elements of 1 Samuel 10:24 (“Do you see the man the LORD has chosen? There is no one like him among all the people.”) and Job 1:8 (“Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”).

Page 112: "Under his leadership, the divided tribes of Israel became a strong, united nation that cast its shadow over every other people in the land, with the exception of the Philistines, who relied upon the iron weapons they had brought with them from the lands of the sea." As reported in 1 Samuel 13:19-22: “Not a blacksmith could be found in the whole land of Israel, because the Philistines had said, ‘Otherwise the Hebrews will make swords or spears!’ So all Israel went down to the Philistines to have their plow points, mattocks, axes and sickles sharpened. . . . So on the day of the battle not a soldier with Saul and Jonathan had a sword or spear in his hand; only Saul and his son Jonathan had them.”


chapter 3

Page 113: "The crowds had gathered in Gibeah from all over the country to show their gratitude for the great victory at Mikmash and to hear the master storytellers describe how the brave-hearted prince had invaded the Philistine camp with the aid only of his shield bearer." The story of this victory is told in detail in 1 Samuel 13:23-14:23.

Page 114: “Saul has slain his thousands, and Jonathan his tens of thousands.” This version of the cheer, like the one on page 111 of The Secret Book of Kings plays with the version given in the Bible, describing the reaction of the people to David (1 Samuel 18:7), “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.”

Page 114: "He stood proud, a head taller than anyone else." This description quotes 1 Samuel 9:2: “Kish had a son named Saul, as handsome a young man as could be found anywhere in Israel, and he was a head taller than anyone else.” It also calls back to Shelomoam's description of how he himself feels sitting on his father's shoulders, on page 5 of The Secret Book of Kings.

Page 114: "[A] lowly tribe, a descendant of Bilhah or Zilpah." Bilhah was the servant of Rachel (see Genesis 30:4-5: “So she gave him her servant Bilhah as a wife. Jacob slept with her, and she became pregnant and bore him a son."), and Zilpah was the servant of Leah (see Genesis 30:9-10: “When Leah saw that she had stopped having children, she took her servant Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as a wife. Leah’s servant Zilpah bore Jacob a son."). Between the two of them, the former servants were the matriarchs of four of the twelve tribes. Bilhah was the mother of Dan and Naphtali, which Zilpah was the mother of Gad and Asher.

Page 115: "To my surprise, she fell upon my neck with kisses and confessed her own secret love for a young officer named Adriel the Meholathite." The idea that Merab found herself a husband on her own is hinted in 1 Samuel 18:19: “So when the time came for Merab, Saul’s daughter, to be given to David, she was given in marriage to Adriel of Meholah.”

Pages 115-116: Paltiel son of Laish, from the town of Gallim in the land of Benjamin, is only mentioned in the Bible after David abandons Michal, and Saul gives her to another man (1 Samuel 25:44): “But Saul had given his daughter Michal, David’s wife, to Paltiel son of Laish, who was from Gallim.”

Page 116: “Did Rachel need a matchmaker to get Jacob to kiss her by the well?” Michal is referring to the story of the meeting of Jacob and Rachel in Genesis 29:5-11: “He said to them, ‘Do you know Laban, Nahor’s grandson?’ ‘Yes, we know him,’ they answered. Then Jacob asked them, ‘Is he well?’ ‘Yes, he is,’ they said, ‘and here comes his daughter Rachel with the sheep.’ . . . When Jacob saw Rachel daughter of his uncle Laban, and Laban’s sheep, he went over and rolled the stone away from the mouth of the well and watered his uncle’s sheep. Then Jacob kissed Rachel and began to weep aloud.”

Page 116: "Ever since I first heard the stories of our matriarchs, I had decided that my own first meeting with my beloved would take place by the well. I yearned to be like our matriarch Rachel . . . . Or like Zipporah the Midianite, who girded herself up to fight for the right to draw water from the well but received unexpected help from an Egyptian man, who was then invited to dine at her father’s table and asked him for her hand." The story of the meeting of Moses and Zipporah is told in Exodus 2:15-21: “. . . Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian, where he sat down by a well. Now a priest of Midian had seven daughters, and they came to draw water and fill the troughs to water their father’s flock. Some shepherds came along and drove them away, but Moses got up and came to their rescue and watered their flock. When the girls returned to Reuel their father, he asked them, 'Why have you returned so early today?' They answered, 'An Egyptian rescued us from the shepherds. He even drew water for us and watered the flock.' 'And where is he?’ Reuel asked his daughters. ‘Why did you leave him? Invite him to have something to eat.’ Moses agreed to stay with the man, who gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses in marriage.”

Page 116: And even like Rebecca, the most assertive of our matriarchs, who was cunning enough to figure out how to impress the servant by the well so much that he brought her back with him to the man who would become her husband in Canaan. As told in Genesis, 24, 15-17: “Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder....The servant hurried to meet her and said, ‘Please give me a little water from your jar.’ 'Drink, my lord,’ she said, and quickly lowered the jar to her hands and gave him a drink. After she had given him a drink, she said, ‘I’ll draw water for your camels too, until they have had enough to drink.’...Without saying a word, the man watched her closely to learn whether or not the LORD had made his journey successful..Then the man bowed down and worshiped the LORD, saying, ‘Praise be to the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who has not abandoned his kindness and faithfulness to my master. As for me, the LORD has led me on the journey to the house of my master’s relatives.’”


Page 120: "I couldn’t stop thinking about his fingers plucking the strings of his harp, his erect posture, the firm line of his jaw, which stood in stark contrast to the youthful roundness of his red cheeks, his curly hair shot through with licks of fire, and, most of all, the look in his eyes." The Bible (1 Samuel 16:12, Jewish Publication Society translation) describes David as being “ruddy, and withal of beautiful eyes, and goodly to look upon.” 

Page 121: Father will agree; I’m sure of it. You should see the way he looks at him.” According to the Bible (1 Samuel 16:21-23), Saul felt positively about David at the beginning: “David came to Saul and entered his service. Saul liked him very much, and David became one of his armor-bearers. Then Saul sent word to Jesse, saying, ‘Allow David to remain in my service, for I am pleased with him.' Whenever the spirit from God came on Saul, David would take up his lyre and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him.”

CHAPTER 4


Page 123-124: "I couldn’t understand why he had stopped playing now, of all times, in these wearying days of waiting, as war with the Philistines threatened to break out at any moment." The Bible (1 Samuel 17:15) says: “[B]ut David went back and forth from Saul to tend his father’s sheep at Bethlehem.”

Pages 124-125: "And those accursed Philistines are taking their time as well. Rumor has it they are expecting a giant warrior from the city of Gath, who will supposedly join their forces at the Valley of Elah and win the battle decisively for them." This giant was Goliath (1 Samuel 17:3-4): “The Philistines occupied one hill and the Israelites another, with the valley between them. A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. His height was six cubits and a span.”

Page 126: “'Father has declared that I am to be a prize. . . . A prize for the warrior who kills the giant from Gath.'” As told in 1 Samuel 17:25: “Now the Israelites had been saying, ‘Do you see how this man keeps coming out? He comes out to defy Israel. The king will give great wealth to the man who kills him. He will also give him his daughter in marriage and will exempt his family from taxes in Israel.’” Although the Bible does not state which of Saul's daughter is to be given as a prize to the man who kills Goliath here, in the next chapter, after David has succeeded, Saul offers him the hand of his elder daughter, Merab (1 Samuel 18:17).

Page 127: “Anyone willing to help has already been drafted, and the people at home prefer to stay among the sheep pens to hear the whistling for the flocks.” Merab is quoting the song of the prophetess Deborah in Judges 5:16: “Why did you stay among the sheep pens to hear the whistling for the flocks? In the districts of Reuben there was much searching of heart.”

Page 127: "She wasn’t being asked to give up her life like the daughter of Jephthah, who was scarified by her father." This sad story is told in Judges 11:30-39: “And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD: ‘If you give the Ammonites into my hands, whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the LORD’s, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.’ . . . When Jephthah returned to his home in Mizpah, who should come out to meet him but his daughter, dancing to the sound of timbrels! She was an only child. Except for her he had neither son nor daughter. When he saw her, he tore his clothes and cried, ‘Oh no, my daughter! You have brought me down and I am devastated. I have made a vow to the LORD that I cannot break.’ ‘My father,’ she replied, 'you have given your word to the LORD. Do to me just as you promised, now that the LORD has avenged you of your enemies, the Ammonites. But grant me this one request,’ she said. ‘Give me two months to roam the hills and weep with my friends, because I will never marry.’ ‘You may go,’ he said. And he let her go for two months. She and her friends went into the hills and wept because she would never marry. After the two months, she returned to her father, and he did to her as he had vowed.” The story also bears resemblances to the Binding of Isaac (Genesis 22:1-19), which ends better.

Page 127: “'One does not come to see the king without being summoned.'” Saul's statement alludes to Esther 4:11: “’All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that they be put to death unless the king extends the gold scepter to them and spares their lives. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king.’'”

Page 128: "‘Does he not regard us as foreigners?' our brave matriarch said. Not only has he sold us, but he has used up what was paid for us.’ Rachel says this, referring to her father, Laban, in Genesis, 31:15

Page 128: “'She is more righteous than I.'” Saul is quoting Judah in Genesis 38:26, after he discovers that the woman he slept with, who he thought was a prostitute, was his daughter-in-law, Tamar. 

Page 128: "Miriam dared to confront her father over his decision to abstain from lying with her mother after the decree that sons born to Israelites would be put to death. ‘You are worse than Pharaoh,’ Miriam told him. ‘Pharaoh’s decree was against only male children, while your decree is against females as well.’" This is a famous midrash (Rabbinic exegetical story) from the Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sotah 12b: "Amram [the father of Moses, Aaron, and Miriam] was the greatest man of his generation; when he saw that the wicked Pharaoh had decreed 'Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river', he said: In vain do we labour. He arose and divorced his wife. All [the Israelites] thereupon arose and divorced their wives. His daughter said to him, 'Father, thy decree is more severe than Pharaoh's; because Pharaoh decreed only against the males whereas thou hast decreed against the males and females. Pharaoh only decreed concerning this world whereas thou hast decreed concerning this world and the World to Come.'" It also alludes to reading in the Passover hagaddah that explains why Laban was worse than Pharaoh: "Come and learn what Laban the Aramean sought to do our father Jacob. For Pharaoh issued his edict against only the males, but Laban sought to uproot all, as it is said, ‘An Aramean would have destroyed my father, and he went down to Egypt and he became there a nation, great, mighty and populous.'"

Page 129: “'Everyone get out and leave me alone with my daughters,'” Father ordered the servants. This order alludes to the order Joseph gave before telling his brothers who he really was (Genesis 45:1): “Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all his attendants, and he cried out, ‘Have everyone leave my presence!’ So there was no one with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers.”

 

CHAPTER 5


Page 131: "'We won! We won!' the servants cried, 'Our soldiers are chasing down the Philistines, killing them in their own cities. They say we've reached all the way to the gates of Ekron." See 1 Samuel 17:52: "Then the men of Israel and Judah surged forward with a shout and pursued the Philistines to the entrance of Gath and to the gates of Ekron. Their dead were strewn along the Shaaraim road to Gath and Ekron."

Page 132: “Windows will return to my story later on . . . .” Actually, they will return twice--once when Michal saves David in 1 Samuel 19:12 (“So Michal let David down through a window, and he fled and escaped.”), and a second time, in 2 Samuel 6:16), when she comes to despise him (“As the ark of the LORD was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD, she despised him in her heart.”). Both these stories are told in detail in later chapters of The Secret Book of Kings.

Page 134: “'We killed their giant!' she called. 'A heroic warrior brought the king his severed head.'” See 1 Samuel 17:51: “David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine’s sword and drew it from the sheath. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword.”

Pages 134-135: “'They failed to heed our warnings and invaded the land of our Judean brothers. In the days of the judges, our enemies knew that when they attacked a tribe, or even imposed tribute, the other tribes would ignore their brothers’ plight and carry on with their lives.' . . . 'Never again!' Father cried. 'Never again! Now every tribe comes to the aid of its brothers. Now we all stand united against our enemies.'” This is how the battle began according to the Bible (1 Samuel 17:1-3): “Now the Philistines gathered their forces for war and assembled at Sokoh in Judah. They pitched camp at Ephes Dammim, between Sokoh and Azekah. Saul and the Israelites assembled and camped in the Valley of Elah and drew up their battle line to meet the Philistines. The Philistines occupied one hill and the Israelites another, with the valley between them.”

Page 135: “'We’ve chased the Philistines all the way to the gates of Ekron and killed the best of their fighters.'” See 1 Samuel 17:52: “Then the men of Israel and Judah surged forward with a shout and pursued the Philistines to the entrance of Gath and to the gates of Ekron. Their dead were strewn along the Shaaraim road to Gath and Ekron.”

Page 135: “'One hundred Philistine foreskins.' Father laughed. 'That is the bride price that the prospective groom must pay.'” The Bible is clear about its view of what Saul had in mind (1 Samuel 18:25): “Saul replied, ‘Say to David, “The king wants no other price for the bride than a hundred Philistine foreskins, to take revenge on his enemies.”’ Saul’s plan was to have David fall by the hands of the Philistines.”

CHAPTER 6


Page 137: The story of the matriarchs Rachel and Leah switching places is told in Genesis 29:23.

Pages 137-138: “'Jonathan gave him his coat?' she repeated what I’d told her incredulously. 'Not only his coat, but also his tunic, his sword, his bow, and his belt.' See 1 Samuel 18:3-4: “And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt.”

Page 138: "When he saw the giant Philistine in the distance, he didn’t run for help. Instead, he quickly gathered five smooth stones and shot them at the monster’s forehead, making him fall backwards with a mighty crash." The more familiar version of this famous story is told in 1 Samuel 17:40-49: “Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine. . . . Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.”

Page 138-139: "With the insight of a brilliant strategist, he saw right away that victory was in his hands, and without another thought he mounted the severed head on a spike and dragged it to the enemy camp. And indeed, when the Philistines saw that their hero was dead they retreated in panic, and the Israelites chased them all the way to Ekron and won the battle." See 1 Samuel 17:51: “After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword. When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran.”

Page 141: “'Merab will marry Adriel,' I whisper. Then louder: 'And I will marry you.'” Something along these lines is hinted at in 1 Samuel 18:19: “So when the time came for Merab, Saul’s daughter, to be given to David, she was given in marriage to Adriel of Meholah.”

Page 141: “'She is clinging to him and letting him drink of her love.'” The language calls to mind Song of Songs 5:1: "I have come into my garden, my sister, my bride; I have gathered my myrrh with my spice. I have eaten my honeycomb and my honey; I have drunk my wine and my milk. Eat, friends, and drink; drink your fill of love."

Page 142: “'. . . [H]e’ll summon you, ask for your forgiveness, and offer you his younger daughter as compensation. That’s what Father will do.'” Indeed, it was, though the Bible takes a different view of Saul's motivations in doing so. See 1 Samuel 18:20-21: “Now Saul’s daughter Michal was in love with David, and when they told Saul about it, he was pleased. ’I will give her to him,’ he thought, ‘so that she may be a snare to him and so that the hand of the Philistines may be against him.’”

CHAPTER 7


Page 143: “'May you increase to thousands upon thousands; may your off spring possess the cities of their haters.'” Rebecca's mother and brother give Rebecca this blessing in Genesis 24:60 as she prepares to set out to marry Isaac.

Page 144: "Is this now the custom here?" Compare with Laban's explanation to Jacob for why he secretly replaced Rachel with Leah in marriage to Jacob (Genesis 29:26): “Laban replied, ‘It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one.’”

Page 144: "[A]nd then how could we get rid of our disgrace?" This objection quotes Tamar, the daughter of King David, when she objects to her brother Amnon's expression of desire to take her to bed with him (2 Samuel 13:12-13): “'No, my brother!’' she said to him. ’Don’t force me! Such a thing should not be done in Israel! Don’t do this wicked thing. What about me? Where could I get rid of my disgrace? And what about you? You would be like one of the wicked fools in Israel. Please speak to the king; he will not keep me from being married to you.’”

Page 144: "The king approves of Michal’s love." As mentioned in the explanatory note to page 142, the Bible states that Saul did approve of the idea, but for very different reasons--as a way to get rid of a rival and threat to himself. See 1 Samuel 18:20-21: “Now Saul’s daughter Michal was in love with David, and when they told Saul about it, he was pleased. ’I will give her to him,’ he thought, ‘so that she may be a snare to him and so that the hand of the Philistines may be against him.’”

Page 145-149: The well known story of David killing Goliath is found in chapter 17 of 1 Samuel. The less well known story of Elhanan son of Jair killing Goliath is found in 2 Samuel 21:19: "And there was again war with the Philistines at Gob; and Elhanan the son of Jaare-oregim the Beth-lehemite slew Goliath the Gittite, the staff of whose spear was like a weaver's beam." While The Secret Book of Kings generally uses the New International Version (NIV) translation, the translation of 2 Samuel 21:19 given here is that of the Jewish Publication Society (JPS). The JPS follows the original Hebrew text, while the NIV follows the King James Version and inserts the words "the brother of" before "Goliath" in an attempt to reconcile these otherwise conflicting stories by suggesting that there is a scribal error in the story of Elhanan. (This is also an attempt to reconcile the events with the story of 1 Chronicles 20:5, which states: "And there was again war with the Philistines; and Elhanan the son of Jair slew Lahmi the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the staff of whose spear was like a weaver's beam." The JPS translation is used again here for ease of comparison. It is very possible that the author of Chronicles, who wrote much later than the author of 2 Samuel, was trying to resolve the same contradiction between 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel that the NIV is trying to resolve and that the error is in Chronicles, not 2 Samuel.) In any event, Yochi Brandes explains the contradiction in a different way.

Page 145: “'She is whoever she is,' he cried . . . ." Elhanan's phrase alludes to God's answer when Moses asked to know God's name at the Burning Bush (Exodus 3:14): “God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’”

Page 146: "The seven sons of Jesse and the three sons of Zeruiah truly did make the journey to the land of Benjamin to enlist in the army, while David continued to frolic in the fields of Bethlehem." According to 1 Samuel 17:14-15: “David was the youngest. The three oldest followed Saul, but David went back and forth from Saul to tend his father’s sheep at Bethlehem.”

Page 147: "The disappointed David tried to convince Abner that, though his arms didn’t ripple with muscles and he wasn’t especially tall, he was a quick-witted warrior; that he had once pummeled to death a bear that had threatened his father’s herd; and that he had even chased down a lion that had stolen one of his sheep, managing to free the poor animal from the lion’s maw." According to the Bible, David makes these claims, though in a conversation with Saul himself, not with Abner (1 Samuel 17:34-36): “But David said to Saul, ‘Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear . . . .’” In his fascinating book, And God Said, Bible translator Joel Hoffman explains, as part of his discussion of Psalm 23 ("The LORD is my shepherd . . .", that shepherds in Biblical times were seen as heroic figures who were willing to fight lions, not as the pastoral figures we often think of in our own times.

Page 148: "Rumor had it that his plated armor weighed no less than five thousand copper coins and that only an iron sword could cut through it." According to 1 Samuel 17:5: “He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing five thousand shekels;”

Page 148: "The Philistines guarded the secret of iron well, and not a blacksmith could be found in the whole land of Israel." See 1 Samuel 13:19: “Not a blacksmith could be found in the whole land of Israel, because the Philistines had said, ‘Otherwise the Hebrews will make swords or spears!’”

Page 148: "David reminded him that the reward had two components: the hand of the princess and a lifelong exemption from taxes." That this was the prize is reported third-hand in the Bible (1 Samuel 17:25): “Now the Israelites had been saying, ‘Do you see how this man keeps coming out? He comes out to defy Israel. The king will give great wealth to the man who kills him. He will also give him his daughter in marriage and will exempt his family from taxes in Israel.’”

CHAPTER 8


Page 151: “'According to the law of Moses, you are required to stay home with me and to give me pleasure for a full year . . . .'” This law is stated in Deuteronomy 24:5: “If a man has recently married, he must not be sent to war or have any other duty laid on him. For one year he is to be free to stay at home and bring happiness to the wife he has married.”

Page 151: “'Instead of being in the bosom of a loving wife, I would have found myself in the arms of a crafty enemy planning to cast me into a pit, just like Potiphar’s wife did, or to hand me over to my enemies, like Delilah did.'” David is referring to two Biblical stories about successful efforts by women to bring down men. The first is the story of Potiphar’s wife trying to get Joseph to sleep with her and then, when he refused, accusing him of actually doing so and causing him to be sent to prison (Genesis 39:6-20). The second story is the well-known story of Samson and Delilah, in which Delilah cuts off Samson's hair, which robs him of his strength, and turns him over to the Philistines (Judges 16:4-21). 

Page 151: “'Hatred impairs common sense.' David sighed with melancholy. 'So does love,' I said, smiling. 'Merab loves me. She wouldn’t hurt my man.'” David's statement is taken from Genesis Rabbah 55:8 "Rabbi Simeon Bar Yohai said: 'Love impairs common sense, and hatred impairs common sense.'"

Page 152: “'Jealousy is as unyielding as the grave.'” according to Song of Songs 8:6: “Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame.”

Page 153: "Judah told Joseph he was willing to rot in prison in the place of his younger brother Benjamin." The story of Joseph and his brothers is told in chapters 42-45 of Genesis, and David refers to its climax at Genesis 44:33: “’Now then, please let your servant remain here as my lord’s slave in place of the boy, and let the boy return with his brothers.’”

Page 153: "Judah’s devotion to Benjamin came only after Judah sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites." As told in Genesis 37:26-27: “Judah said to his brothers, ‘What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? 
Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.’ His brothers agreed.”

Page 153: "With a playful wink, I added that the best way to help jealous family members get over their resentments was to give them jobs and gifts, as Joseph himself had done, granting his older brothers the land of Goshen and providing for all their needs." See Genesis 45:10: ‘’You shall live in the region of Goshen and be near me—you, your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all you have.“”

Page 154: “'Jonathan appointed me to this role.' 'Which role?' 'Making appearances before soldiers.' 'Does Father know? 'It was his idea.' According to 1 Samuel 18:5: “Whatever mission Saul sent him on, David was so successful that Saul gave him a high rank in the army. This pleased all the troops, and Saul’s officers as well.”

CHAPTER 9


Page 159: “'You’ve got the people; what do you need me for?'” See 1 Samuel 18:16: “But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he led them in their campaigns.”

Page 161: "I replied that David was totally devoted to the people, that nothing was more important to him than fulfilling his duty, but she muttered with obvious scorn that Father needed no messenger to soak up the people’s love on his behalf, that he’d managed very well before the son of Jesse had joined our family and could do just as well without him." As stated in the Biblical verses just prior to those that tell of the people's love for David (1 Samuel 18:14-15): “In everything he did he had great success, because the LORD was with him. When Saul saw how successful he was, he was afraid of him.” 

Page 162: The Bible gives the names of the sons of Saul and Rizpah as Armoni and Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 21:8).  The word "bosheth" in Hebrew means "shame," and it would be surprising if a parent gave a child a name containing the word shame. In fact, scholars agree that names the Bible renders with -bosheth endings actually ended in -baal. Ba'al was a Canaanite god. Thus, in the mind of the Judean scribes, dedicated to the god of Israel named YHWH, to have a name ending in -baal was shameful, and thus they rendered -baal names as -bosheth in the Bible (also as a way of not uttering the name of that hated god). By giving Saul and Rizpah's son's name as Mephiel, rather than Mephibaal, Yochi Brandes goes a step further, suggesting that the notion that Saul named his son for a Canaanite god was itself a slander by the Judean scribes of the House of David and that, in fact, the name likely ended in -el, which was the way that the people of the northern kingdom referred to the god of Israel. Many names of northern characters in the Bible end in -el (and many souther names end in variants of YHWH, such as -yahu and -yah, or -jahu and -jah in translation). 

Page 162: Rizpah daughter of Aiah is first mentioned in the Bible in 2 Samuel 3:7 ("Now Saul had had a concubine named Rizpah daughter of Aiah.") in connection with the story of Abner's sexual interest in her, which is addressed later in The Secret Book of Kings. Her sons, Armoni and Mephiel/Mephibosheth, are mentioned in 2 Samuel 21:8, only when they are about to be killed by the Gibeonites (after David turns them over). In the Bible, men and women are usually described as the son or daughter of their father (son's-name son of father's-name or daughter's-name daughter of father's-name) thus, most readers assume Aiah to be the name of the father of Rizpah. However, in Modern Hebrew, the name Aiah is a woman's name. Yochi Brandes uses this uncertainty to develop a fascinating backstory for Rizpah and explanation for how she came to be Saul's second wife (a status that the Biblical author does not give her). 

CHAPTER 10


Page 171: "'[T]hey kept telling me the story of Tamar the Canaanite, who had disguised herself as a prostitute in order to steal the seed of Judah son of Jacob, and who thus became the venerated matriarch of the tribe of Judah.'" The story of Judah, who was seduced by Tamar, the widow of his son, is told in chapter 38 of Genesis. Judah slept with Tamar without realizing that she was his daughter in law (Genesis 38:15-16): “When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute, for she had covered her face. Not realizing that she was his daughter-in-law, he went over to her by the roadside and said, ‘Come now, let me sleep with you.’”

Page 171: "'He declared angrily that the laws of Moses forbade treating women as objects—not foreign women, and certainly not Hebrew ones—and he recalled the ancient law of the "beautiful woman," which cautioned soldiers against raping the women of their defeated enemies, the penalty being that when the battle was over the fighters would be forced to marry the women and take full responsibility for them.'" This law is stated in Deuteronomy 21:10-14: “When you go to war against your enemies and the LORD your God delivers them into your hands and you take captives, if you notice among the captives a beautiful woman and are attracted to her, you may take her as your wife. Bring her into your home and have her shave her head, trim her nails and put aside the clothes she was wearing when captured. After she has lived in your house and mourned her father and mother for a full month, then you may go to her and be her husband and she shall be your wife. If you are not pleased with her, let her go wherever she wishes. You must not sell her or treat her as a slave, since you have dishonored her.”

Page 172: "'I must tell you one thing, though: your father is a righteous man, just like Joseph, or maybe even more so.'" Rizpah is referring to Joseph’s refusal to sleep with the wife of his master, Potiphar (Genesis 39:6-10): “Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, ‘Come to bed with me!’ But he refused. ‘With me in charge,’ he told her, ‘my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?’ And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her.” (In the book of Genesis, this story of righteousness comes just after the story of Judah's unrighteous behavior with Tamar).

Page 172: “'The prostitutes were right,' she whispered, as if to herself. 'I really am like Tamar. They forgot one thing, though: Judah acknowledged his paternity, but he refused to touch the woman who’d stolen his seed ever again.'” So the Bible states in Genesis 38:25-26: “As she was being brought out, she sent a message to her father-in-law. ‘I am pregnant by the man who owns these,’ she said. And she added, ‘See if you recognize whose seal and cord and staff these are.’ Judah recognized them and said, ‘She is more righteous than I, since I wouldn’t give her to my son Shelah.’ And he did not sleep with her again.”

CHAPTER 11


Page 174: “'I will never forgive you for bringing me back to be the king’s musician.'” The changing attitude of Saul to David, which consisted of numerous ups and downs, is described in 1 Samuel. For example (1 Samuel 19:4-7): “Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father and said to him, ‘Let not the king do wrong to his servant David; he has not wronged you, and what he has done has benefited you greatly. He took his life in his hands when he killed the Philistine. The LORD won a great victory for all Israel, and you saw it and were glad. Why then would you do wrong to an innocent man like David by killing him for no reason?’ Saul listened to Jonathan and took this oath: ‘As surely as the LORD lives, David will not be put to death.’ So Jonathan called David and told him the whole conversation. He brought him to Saul, and David was with Saul as before.”

Page 176: “'And only God, who tests the heart and mind, can tell them apart,' I finished her thought." This comment is an allusion to Jeremiah 11:20: “But you, LORD Almighty, who judge righteously and test the heart and mind, let me see your vengeance on them, for to you I have committed my cause.”

Page 178: "'I’ve always promised myself to learn from the mistakes of Jacob the Patriarch and not cultivate jealousy among my children.'" Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, who envied him because their father Jacob preferred him over them. See Genesis 37:3-4: “Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made an ornate robe for him. When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.”

Page 178: “'For now, David will return to serve as my musician. That way I can keep a close watch on him . . . [u]ntil the spies following him are convinced that he isn’t planning to steal Jonathan’s crown.'” In the Bible, Saul expresses this concern to Jonathan explicitly (1 Samuel 20:31): “’As long as the son of Jesse lives on this earth, neither you nor your kingdom will be established. Now send someone to bring him to me, for he must die!’”

CHAPTER 12


Page 181: “'Give me children, or I’ll die!'” Rachel says this in Genesis 30:1. 

Page 181: “'Am I in the place of God, who has kept you from having children?'” Jacob responds this way to Rachel in Genesis 30:2. 

Page 182: “'Sometimes, when I play the harp or the lyre and see the intense hatred in his eyes, I pray for him to hurl his spear at me and pin me to the wall. I’d rather die than rot away in agony like this.'” The Bible tells of more than one occasion when Saul tried to kill David with his spear (see 1 Samuel 18:11 and 1 Samuel 19:10). 

Page 182: “'I’m allowed to visit my family only thanks to Jonathan. He makes up a different excuse each time so I can go see my old father, but I always have to return within a day, before the king discovers my crime.'” Following 1 Samuel 20:27-28: “Then Saul said to his son Jonathan, ‘Why hasn’t the son of Jesse come to the meal, either yesterday or today?’ Jonathan answered, ‘David earnestly asked me for permission to go to Bethlehem.’”

Page 183: “'How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful! Your eyes are doves.'” David's song is a quote from the Song of Songs 4:1 (traditionally ascribed to his son, Solomon). 

Page 183: "At that moment, David leaned over Jonathan, whispered in his ear, and the two of them laughed. I thought I was successfully concealing my emotions, but Rizpah could read me like a book. She said in surprise that it appeared that I had only just now learned the facts of life about my older brother." Much has been written on the possibility that the love between Jonatahn and David was more than platonic, especially following David’s lament after the death of Jonathan, in 2 Samuel 1:26 (“’Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women.’”)

Page 184: “'Love impairs common sense.'” See Genesis Rabbah 55:8 "Rabbi Simeon Bar Yohai said: 'Love impairs common sense, and hatred impairs common sense.'"

Page 185: "Some of the spies even live in Bethlehem and know Jesse’s seven sons and three grandsons, the sons of Zeruiah, personally. The ten heroic warriors, who until recently have been loyal soldiers in Gibeah, are now training a guerrilla army that will have the ability to take the kingdom from the inexperienced crown prince when the time comes. The militia is named for the sons of Zeruiah, known for their cruelty, and is led by Joab, the eldest son, who has a reputation throughout Judah as the most dangerous member of the family of Jesse. At first he recruited mostly the distressed and discontented of Judah, but recently about four hundred debtors and escaped slaves from all over Israel have joined him, ready to give their lives for David." In the Bible this is told only at a later stage, after David had fled from Saul (1 Samuel 22:1-2): “David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. When his brothers and his father’s household heard about it, they went down to him there. All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their commander. About four hundred men were with him.”

Page 185: “'They’d rather die with David.'” Alluding to Samson (Judges 16:29-30): “Then Samson reached toward the two central pillars on which the temple stood. Bracing himself against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other, Samson said, ‘Let me die with the Philistines!’ Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it.”

Page 187: “'If you don’t run for your life tonight, tomorrow you’ll be killed.'” This is a direct quite from this episode in the Bible (1 Samuel 19:11). The entire story of Michal helping David escape Saul by climbing down from the window (and then fooling Saul’s men into believing that he is still in bed) is told in 1 Samuel 19:11-17.

CHAPTER 13


Page 191: “'His sister Abigail still lives with her father Jesse in Bethlehem. David’s new wife is a different Abigail, the wife of Nabal the Carmelite, a descendant of Caleb son of Jephunneh. That odd couple was infamous all across the Carmel region: the husband was mean and stupid, the wife beautiful and clever—truly, a match made in heaven. David and his men had guarded the couple’s land in exchange for sheep and cattle from their many herds, and when Nabal died of too much food and wine during one of the sheep-shearing festivals, Abigail came to David in the desert in the middle of the night and asked him to take her as his wife.'” The story of David, Nabal, and Abigail is told at great length in chapter 25 of 1 Samuel. Note that the Bible goes to great lengths to portray David and Abigail in a positive manner and to defame her first husband; the name Nabal means “wicked” in Hebrew (1 Samuel 25:25, inaccurately translated as "fool" in the New International Version): “’Please pay no attention, my lord, to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name—his name means Fool, and folly goes with him.’”

Page 191: “'She proposed to him?' 'That’s what they say.'” The Biblical story says that David proposed marriage to Abigail (1 Samuel 25:39) (“Then David sent word to Abigail, asking her to become his wife.”) but hints earlier that Abigail was interested (1 Samuel 25:31) (“’...And when the LORD your God has brought my lord success, remember your servant.’”).

Page 192: “'The son of Jesse has taken a third wife. . . . It’s one thing to take another wife. We’ve grown used to that by now. But her name . . . Ahinoam.” That David took a third wife named Ahinoam is told in the Bible in a single verse after the long story of David and Abigail (1 Samuel 25:43): “David had also married Ahinoam of Jezreel, and they both were his wives.”

Page 194: “'You don’t think about anything but David. You meditate on him day and night.'” Michal is using the words of God to Joshua after the death of Moses (Joshua 1:8): “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”

Page 194: “'I’m nothing but an instrument in your war against David—or the son of Jesse, as you call him. I’m the trap meant to bring down your enemy.'” Compare with 1 Samuel 18:20-21: "Now Saul’s daughter Michal was in love with David, and when they told Saul about it, he was pleased. ‘I will give her to him,’ he thought, ‘so that she may be a snare to him and so that the hand of the Philistines may be against him.’”

Page 195: “'Husband, husband, why have you forsaken me?'” Following the well known language of Psalms 22:1: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Page 196: "I have no need of candlelight to know who he is." Michal recognizes Paltiel, whom she loved in the past, although in the Bible he is only mentioned for the first time when he marries her (1 Samuel 25:44): “But Saul had given his daughter Michal, David’s wife, to Paltiel son of Laish, who was from Gallim.” The Bible gives this information just after its telling of David marrying Abigail and Ahinoam.

Page 197: “'I’ve been waiting for you for seven years, Michal, just as Jacob waited for Rachel.'” See Genesis 29:20: “So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.”

Page 197: “'Elkanah loved only Hannah, the mother of our prophet Samuel.'” As told in 1 Samuel 1:1-5: “There was a certain man from Ramathaim, a Zuphite from the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Elkanah . . . . He had two wives; one was called Hannah and the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none. . . . Whenever the day came for Elkanah to sacrifice, he would give portions of the meat to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters. But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her, and the LORD had closed her womb.”

Page 197: “'And some men cannot love at all, not a woman, not their parents, not even their sons—like Abraham, who abandoned his parents, deserted his wives, and was prepared to kill his two sons.'” Referring to four stories about Abraham: [1] Leaving his family to go to Canaan (Genesis 12:1-5); [2] Letting Abimelek take his wife Sarah (Genesis 20:1-5); [3] Expelling his second wife Hagar and her son Ishmael to the desert (Genesis 21:8-21); and [4] His attempt to sacrifice his son Isaac (Genesis 22:1-19).

Page 197: “'Abraham . . . was forced to leave his home and his people and to wander alone through a foreign land.'” Quoting Genesis 12:1: “The LORD had said to Abram, ‘Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.’”

CHAPTER 14


Page 198: "The people of Gibeah gave them the nickname 'The Six Days of Work . . . ” Kiddush “ששת ימי המעשה”

Page 199: “'Ahinoam and David have a child,' I wailed over my shoulder. 'I know. His name is Amnon.'” The Bible tells us of David’s son only much later (2 Samuel 3:2-3): “Sons were born to David in Hebron: His firstborn was Amnon the son of Ahinoam of Jezreel; his second, Kileab the son of Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel . . . ."

Page 200: "I suddenly saw a terrible image that gave me pleasure. I saw little Amnon dying of thirst in the arid desert, just like the son of Hagar, except that no angel came to Ahinoam to raise up a well for the child." Michal is alluding to the story of Hagar and Ishmael in Genesis 21:15-19: “When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. . . . God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven . . . . Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.”

Page 200: “'He is in the palace of Achish, King of Gath,' Paltiel went on." The story of David in the court of Achish is told in two parts: 1 Samuel 21:10-15 and chapter 27 of 1 Samuel.

Pages 200-201: "'The son of Jesse was forced to flee to Gath after Abner’s soldiers spread out across the land, and he had no place left to hide.'" See 1 Samuel 21:10: “That day David fled from Saul and went to Achish king of Gath.”

Page 201: “‘Am I so short of madmen that you have to bring this fellow here to carry on like this in front of me? Must this man come into my house?’” Achish's statement is a direct quote from 1 Samuel 21:15. 

Page 201: “'Eventually, he revealed his true identity to Achish and asked for refuge for his family and the criminal militia of the sons of Zeruiah. In return, David agreed to serve as the king’s senior advisor on affairs relating to Israel. In other words: he agreed to reveal our most confidential security secrets.'” Compare with the much less explicit story in 1 Samuel 28:1-2: “In those days the Philistines gathered their forces to fight against Israel. Achish said to David, ‘You must understand that you and your men will accompany me in the army.’ David said, ‘Then you will see for yourself what your servant can do.’ Achish replied, ‘Very well, I will make you my bodyguard for life.’” The Biblical story then tells in great detail how David eventually did not participate in the battle against Israel, although he was in the camp of the Philistines (chapter 29 of 1 Samuel).

Page 201: "I felt like the prophet Miriam, who reproached her father for abstaining from her mother and thus brought about the birth of her brother Moses." Quote בבלי, מסכת סוטה, דף י"ב, עמוד א'

Page 201: "When she grew older, she also reproached Moses for abstaining from Zipporah and, in doing so, reunited them as well." https://he.wikisource.org/wiki/%D7%9E%22%D7%92_%D7%91%D7%9E%D7%93%D7%91%D7%A8_%D7%99%D7%91_%D7%90? You can read in שבע אימהות page 138.

Page 202: "Around the same time, I heard the rumors of Kileab, Abigail’s first son, who was born in the town of Ziklag, which had been given to David by Achish as a reward for his dedicated service to the Philistine people." See 1 Samuel 27:5-6: “Then David said to Achish, ‘If I have found favor in your eyes, let a place be assigned to me in one of the country towns, that I may live there. Why should your servant live in the royal city with you?’ So on that day Achish gave him Ziklag, and it has belonged to the kings of Judah ever since.”

Page 202: The character of Micah is introduced. In the Bible, the name of the crippled son of Jonathan is Mephibosheth, not Micah. The son of Mephibosheth--the grandson of Jonathan--is Micah. For literary purposes, Yochi Brandes has created a composite character and used the name Micah so as not to cause confusion with the son of Saul and Rizpah, who is also named Mephibosheth. As described earlier, the name Mephibosheth was unlikely to have been the actual name of either the son of Saul or the son of Jonathan, as names that end in -bosheth or -baal are likely to be Judean slanders of northern heroes whose names were different.

Page 203: "When rumors reached the palace of a slaughter carried out in the desert of southern Judah by the army of the sons of Zeruiah, I felt my body turn to stone." The Bible says that David attacked other nations and then told Achish that he attacked Judah (1 Samuel 27:8-11): “Now David and his men went up and raided the Geshurites, the Girzites and the Amalekites. . . . Whenever David attacked an area, he did not leave a man or woman alive, but took sheep and cattle, donkeys and camels, and clothes. Then he returned to Achish. When Achish asked, ‘Where did you go raiding today?’ David would say, ‘Against the Negev of Judah’ or ‘Against the Negev of Jerahmeel’ or ‘Against the Negev of the Kenites.’ He did not leave a man or woman alive to be brought to Gath , for he thought, 'They might inform on us and say, "This is what David did."’ And such was his practice as long as he lived in Philistine territory.”

Page 203: "Father’s ministers and advisors, including his three sons and two sons-in-law, all declared confidently that we had never been in a better situation and that no enemy would dare attack us in the near future." This assessment alludes not to the Bible, but to the history of the modern State of Israel in the years after the Six Day War, when its military and political leaders failed to foresee the Arab armies' attack on Yom Kippur of 1973. 

Page 205: “'Even the Philistine commanders had a hard time believing that a man could betray his people to such an extent. You should have seen how shocked they were when the son of Jesse begged Achish to let him join them in their war against Israel.'” See 1 Samuel 29:4-8: “But the Philistine commanders were angry with Achish and said, ‘Send the man [David] back, that he may return to the place you assigned him. He must not go with us into battle, or he will turn against us during the fighting. . . . ‘But what have I done?’ asked David. ‘What have you found against your servant from the day I came to you until now? Why can’t I go and fight against the enemies of my lord the king?’” 

Pages 205-206: "The Israelites fled before the Philistines, And many fell dead on Mount Gilboa. The Philistines killed Saul and Jonathan and Abinadab and Malkishua, So Saul and his three sons and his armor-bearer and all his men died together that same day. The next day, when the Philistines came to strip the dead, They found Saul and his three sons fallen on Mount Gilboa. They cut off their heads, And stripped off their armor, And fastened their bodies to the wall of Beth Shan." This section is excerpted from 1 Samuel 31:1-10 with some variations to emphasize the different point of view as to how Saul actually died and to make the point that not only Saul's body, but also the bodies of his sons, were taken to Beth Shan (as is clear from 1 Samuel 31:12, where the people of Jabesh Gilead recover the bodies of Saul and his sons from Beth Shan).

CHAPTER 15


Page 208: "When Abner son of Ner, commander of the army of Israel, anointed the young prince, great moans rose up out of the crowd, rather than cheers of joy." The coronation of Ishvi by Abner is told in 2 Samuel 2:8-9: “Meanwhile, Abner son of Ner, the commander of Saul’s army, had taken Ish-Bosheth [Ishvi] son of Saul and brought him over to Mahanaim. He made him king over Gilead, Ashuri and Jezreel, and also over Ephraim, Benjamin and all Israel.”

Page 209: "Abner’s soldiers had no need for sophisticated spying methods to expose the coronation ceremony that the sons of Jesse held for their younger brother in Hebron." The story of this coronation is told immediately after that of Ishvi (1 Samuel 2:10): “Ish-Bosheth [Ishvi] son of Saul was forty years old when he became king over Israel, and he reigned two years. The tribe of Judah, however, remained loyal to David.”

Page 209: "Young Ishvi was torn between the various opinions that were presented to him. After weighing the possibilities, he finally decided to take Abner’s advice and not go to war against Judah." The strong position Abner had taken under Ishvi is reported in 2 Samuel 3:6: “During the war between the house of Saul and the house of David, Abner had been strengthening his own position in the house of Saul.”

Page 211: “'The weapon I’m talking about is stories. The son of Jesse has recruited many scribes to his cause. Their leader is Seraiah, the most talented scribe in Judah.'” Seraiah’s position in David’s administration is reported in 2 Samuel 8:17: “Zadok son of Ahitub and Ahimelek son of Abiathar were priests; Seraiah was secretary;”

Page 211: “'The story describes how an old witch from Endor conjured up the ghost of the prophet Samuel the night before the battle on Mount Gilboa, and heard from him that Saul and his sons would die the next day as punishment for their sins, and that the man chosen by the God of Israel as the next king was none other than his former son-in-law, David son of Jesse of Bethlehem.” This story is told in 1 Samuel 28:7- 19: “Saul then said to his attendants, ‘Find me a woman who is a medium, so I may go and inquire of her.’ . . . Samuel said, ‘Why do you consult me, now that the LORD has departed from you and become your enemy? The LORD has done what he predicted through me. The LORD has torn the kingdom out of your hands and given it to one of your neighbors—to David. Because you did not obey the LORD or carry out his fierce wrath against the Amalekites, the LORD has done this to you today. The LORD will deliver both Israel and you into the hands of the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. The LORD will also give the army of Israel into the hands of the Philistines.’”

Page 212: “'The people of Jabesh Gilead will take the bodies down from the wall of Beth Shan and bring them back for burial in Israel.'” These are the concluding verses of 1 Samuel (1 Samuel 31:11-13): “When the people of Jabesh Gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, all their valiant men marched through the night to Beth Shan. They took down the bodies of Saul and his sons from the wall of Beth Shan and went to Jabesh, where they burned them. Then they took their bones and buried them under a tamarisk tree at Jabesh, and they fasted seven days.”

Page 213-214: "And the people of Israel, what did they do? Well, the people of Israel—who had once looked dubiously at the young man who’d assumed the throne, asking one another with contempt, 'How can this fellow save us?' just as their parents had asked about the king’s father in the early days of his reign—now asked God to guard their king from all evil and grant him a long life, so that he might continue to nurture the Kingdom of Israel." This is what the Bible tells us some people asked when Saul was declared king (1 Samuel 10:26-27): “Saul also went to his home in Gibeah, accompanied by valiant men whose hearts God had touched. But some scoundrels said, ‘How can this fellow save us?’ They despised him and brought him no gifts. But Saul kept silent.”

Page 214: "Rizpah arrived at the hour of the morning watch with ashes in her hair and wearing a torn nightgown. She was scratching at her forehead, pacing and wailing. I didn’t need to ask her what had happened, nor who did it to her." See 2 Samuel 3:7: “Now Saul had had a concubine named Rizpah daughter of Aiah. And Ish-Bosheth said to Abner, 'Why did you sleep with my father’s concubine?’”

Page 214: “'Hush, Sister,' I whispered. 'Don’t take this thing to heart.'” Quoting the later words of Absalom to his sister Tamar after she was raped by her half-brother Amnon (2 Samuel 13:20): “Her brother Absalom said to her, ‘Has that Amnon, your brother, been with you? Be quiet for now, my sister; he is your brother. Don’t take this thing to heart.’”

Page 215: "Ishvi was convinced that the situation with Abner had ended with his banishment from the palace. . . .  No one, not even Merab or I, could conceive of the disaster that could be wrought by a vengeful man who had lost all his inhibitions. The rumor spread quickly, and it terrified the nation more than any rumor that had come before. 'Abner son of Ner has defected and joined the son of Jesse.'” See 2 Samuel 3:8-12: “Abner was very angry because of what Ish-Bosheth said. So he answered, ‘Am I a dog’s head—on Judah’s side? This very day I am loyal to the house of your father Saul and to his family and friends. I haven’t handed you over to David. Yet now you accuse me of an offense involving this woman! May God deal with Abner, be it ever so severely, if I do not do for David what the LORD promised him on oath and transfer the kingdom from the house of Saul and establish David’s throne over Israel and Judah from Dan to Beersheba.’ Ish-Bosheth did not dare to say another word to Abner, because he was afraid of him. Then Abner sent messengers on his behalf to say to David, ‘Whose land is it? Make an agreement with me, and I will help you bring all Israel over to you.’”

Page 216: "But Ishvi died alone. In his sleep. His head was cut off by his two tax collectors while he took his afternoon nap." See 2 Samuel 4:5-7: “Now Rekab and Baanah, the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, set out for the house of Ish-Bosheth [Ishvi], and they arrived there in the heat of the day while he was taking his noonday rest. They went into the inner part of the house as if to get some wheat, and they stabbed him in the stomach. Then Rekab and his brother Baanah slipped away. They had gone into the house while he was lying on the bed in his bedroom. After they stabbed and killed him, they cut off his head.”

Page 216: “'David son of Jesse, King of Judah, sends his condolences to the Kingdom of Israel,' they said. 'The two contemptible murderers, Baanah and Rekab, the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, brought him the king’s severed head, but they performed the wicked deed on their own accord, without his instruction or prior knowledge. The king commanded that their hands and feet be cut off and that they be hung over the pool in Hebron. He despises traitors.'” See 2 Samuel 4:8-12: “They brought the head of Ish-Bosheth to David at Hebron and said to the king, “’Here is the head of Ish-Bosheth son of Saul, your enemy, who tried to kill you. This day the LORD has avenged my lord the king against Saul and his offspring.’ David answered Rekab and his brother Baanah, the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, who has delivered me out of every trouble, when someone told me, “Saul is dead,” and thought he was bringing good news, I seized him and put him to death in Ziklag. That was the reward I gave him for his news! How much more—when wicked men have killed an innocent man in his own house and on his own bed—should I not now demand his blood from your hand and rid the earth of you!’ So David gave an order to his men, and they killed them. They cut off their hands and feet and hung the bodies by the pool in Hebron. But they took the head of Ish-Bosheth and buried it in Abner’s tomb at Hebron.”

Page 217: The war between the house of Saul and the house of David lasted a long time/David grew stronger and stronger/While the house of Saul grew weaker and weaker." This is a direct quote from 2 Samuel 3:1. 

Page 218: "The screams grew louder. Micah cried in terror. The nursemaid took him in her arms and tried to calm him, but he fought her and threw his little body in all directions. . . . Suddenly I heard a bang behind me. Paltiel looked toward the sound and froze. I looked back, too. Micah was lying on the stones, blood trickling from his head. His nursemaid tried to get him up, but he didn’t move. The story is told, with some differences, in 2 Samuel 4:4: “(Jonathan son of Saul had a son who was lame in both feet. He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel. His nurse picked him up and fled, but as she hurried to leave, he fell and became disabled. His name was Mephibosheth [see note to page 202, explaining why the son of Jonathan is called Micah in The Secret Book of Kings].)" 

CHAPTER 16


Page 221: "All across the land, people were talking about the celebrations for the restoration of the kingdom that were to be held in Hebron, at which representatives from all the tribes would swear their allegiance to David son of Jesse, who would no longer be the king of Judah alone, but the king of a united Israel." The Bible tells this story in 2 Samuel 5:3: “When all the elders of Israel had come to King David at Hebron, the king made a covenant with them at Hebron before the LORD, and they anointed David king over Israel.”

Page 221: "And then Abner arrived." According to the Bible, David was willing to accept Abner's service only on on the condition he brought Michal back to him (2 Samuel 3:12-13): “Then Abner sent messengers on his behalf to say to David, ‘Whose land is it? Make an agreement with me, and I will help you bring all Israel over to you.’ ‘Good,’ said David. ‘I will make an agreement with you. But I demand one thing of you: Do not come into my presence unless you bring Michal daughter of Saul when you come to see me.’”

Page 223: “'But when God rejected Saul and chose David, I followed God’s will. The man chosen by God is my king.'” Abney's words are based on what Samuel said to Saul in telling him that he would lose his throne (1 Samuel 15:23): "'Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king.’”

Page 224: "Weeping as he went, my husband followed me, weeping as he went." Michal's description of Paltiel's agony comes from the Bible's description in 2 Samuel 3:16: "And her husband went with her, weeping as he went, and followed her to Bahurim." The Secret Book of Kings uses the more literal Jewish Publication Society (JPS) translation here in order to retain the more lyrical description.

Page 224: "When we reached the village of Bahurim at the outskirts of Judah, Abner lost his temper. He stopped his horse, jumped off, and attacked Paltiel with his large body. 'Go back home!' he yelled." See 2 Samuel 3:16: "Then Abner said to him, "Go back home!" So he went back."

CHAPTER 17


Page 225: "Fifteen years ago, I met a ruddy boy with beautiful eyes." See 1 Samuel 16:12 (Jewish Publication Society translation): "And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and withal of beautiful eyes, and goodly to look upon."

Page 227: “I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me.” David's statement quotes Jeremiah 2:2, but in a very different context. In Jeremiah, the prophet is talking about the relationship of God and the Children of Israel:  “Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem: 'This is what the LORD says: “I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the wilderness, through a land not sown.”'"

Page 228: "Only after Abner’s death did the existence of the vicious games in which soldiers from Judah fought soldiers from Benjamin become publicly known. The people of Israel were shocked to hear how the victims of these contests, euphemistically called 'Let the Young Men Play Before Us,' were buried surreptitiously so that no one would find out how they had died." See 2 Samuel 2:14 (the King James Version translation is used here in The Secret Book of Kings in order to retain the euphemistic language): “And Abner said to Joab, Let the young men now arise, and play before us. And Joab said, Let them arise.”

Page 228: "When Joab and Abishai found out, they avenged the death of their younger brother by killing Abner in the fields." The bible portrays the scene a bit differently (2 Samuel 3:27): “Now when Abner returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside into an inner chamber, as if to speak with him privately. And there, to avenge the blood of his brother Asahel, Joab stabbed him in the stomach, and he died.”

Page 230: "In the months that preceded this event, the king’s scribes had been spreading a new lie, claiming that the ark had been in the hands of the Philistines ever since the defeat at Ebenezer in the days of Eli the Priest and that it had been taken to Edom a few years ago, after the Philistines decided that it cursed whoever held it." Chapter 5 of 1 Samuel tells the story of the disasters that struck the Philistines while they were in possession of the ark. David takes possession of the ark in 2 Samuel 6:12: “So David went to bring up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing.”

Page 230: "I told Rizpah confidently that no one would believe the story, that the nation of Israel would never forget that it was Father who liberated the ark from the Philistines in the early days of his reign." See 1 Samuel 14:18: “Saul said to Ahijah, ‘Bring the ark of God.’ (At that time it was with the Israelites.)”

Page 232: “'Queen Michal mocks the King of Israel for his dancing!'” The herald says out loud what the Bible describes as Michal's private thought (2 Samuel 6:16): “As the ark of the LORD was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD, she despised him in her heart.”

Page 232: “'Michal daughter of Saul says that a king who skips and dances with slaves reveals himself to the nation as an undignified and vulgar fellow!'” In 2 Samuel 6:20, the Bible claims that Michal made the statement: “When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, ‘How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, going around half-naked in full view of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!’”

Page 232: “'I am dancing before my God,' David declared with a smile, 'the one who has chosen me and appointed me ruler over Israel.'" See David's reply to Michal in 2 Samuel 6:21: “David said to Michal, ‘It was before the LORD, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the LORD’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the LORD.’”

Page 233: “'She will not have a son until the day she dies,' people gloated. 'That will be her punishment.'” This punishment is stated at the conclusion of the Biblical story of this episode (2 Samuel 6:23): “And Michal daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death.” The Secret Book of Kings sees things a bit differently.

Page 233: "The days of his life had been few and difficult." This description echoes the way Jacob tells his life story in Genesis 47:9: “And Jacob said to Pharaoh, ‘The years of my pilgrimage are a hundred and thirty. My years have been few and difficult, and they do not equal the years of the pilgrimage of my fathers.’”

Page 234: “The blood of my husband, Paltiel, cries out to you from the ground!” Michal's accusation echoes what God says to Cain after he murders his brother, Abel (Genesis 4:10): “The LORD said, ‘What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.’”

Page 234: “'Man of blood,' I managed to whisper." Michal's term, "man of blood" foreshadows the use of the same term to describe David by Shimei, a relative of hers, in 2 Samuel 16:7 as David is fleeing Jerusalem during Absalom's rebellion: “And thus said Shimei when he cursed: 'Begone, begone, thou man of blood, and base fellow.'” (The Jewish Publication Society translation is used here to retain the evocative, "man of blood," which is a literal translation of the Bible's language, rather than the more prosaic "murderer.")

Page 235: “'Swear to the God of Israel that you will not kill off the descendants of Saul.'” In Chapter 24 of 1 Samuel, Saul and David meet in En Gedi, and the Bible says that Saul realized there that David would become king. The Bible describes Saul's one request (1 Samuel 24:21): "This is what Saul told David: 'Now swear to me by the LORD that you will not kill off my descendants or wipe out my name from my father’s family.’”

CHAPTER 18


Page 239: “'Refugees from Nob, the city of priests your father destroyed.' Waves of fury flooded over me. 'The army of Edom, led by Doeg, destroyed Nob!' I cried. 'Everybody knows that.' 'There are other stories.'” This is what the Bible says about the killing of the priests of Nob (1 Samuel 22:17-19): “Then the king [Saul] ordered the guards at his side: 'Turn and kill the priests of the LORD, because they too have sided with David. They knew he was fleeing, yet they did not tell me.' But the king’s officials were unwilling to raise a hand to strike the priests of the LORD. The king then ordered Doeg, ‘You turn and strike down the priests.’ So Doeg the Edomite turned and struck them down. That day he killed eighty-five men who wore the linen ephod. He also put to the sword Nob, the town of the priests, with its men and women, its children and infants, and its cattle, donkeys and sheep.”

Page 239: “When you fled the palace, you wanted to prove to Achish, King of Gath, that you had cut off all ties to your nation and your tribe so he would trust you and grant you refuge in his land, so you destroyed the towns of the southern desert of Judah on his behalf.” This accusation and David’s reply refer to the Biblical story of David's time among the Philistines, recounted in chapter 27 of 1 Samuel

Page 240: "David conquers peaceful nations and orders his army commander not to leave alive even a single dog pissing on the wall. He tortures his enemies with saws and iron picks and draws lots to decide who will live and who will die. After he conquered Moab, he ordered all its people to lie down on the ground, and he measured them off with a cord. Every two lengths he put to death, and he spared the third so he would have slaves to pay him tribute." See 2 Samuel 12:31: "[David] brought out the people who were there, consigning them to labor with saws and with iron picks and axes, and he made them work at brickmaking. David did this to all the Ammonite towns." See also 2 Samuel 8:2: “David also defeated the Moabites. He made them lie down on the ground and measured them off with a length of cord. Every two lengths of them were put to death, and the third length was allowed to live. So the Moabites became subject to David and brought him tribute.” The colorful language used by Rizpah--"pissing on the wall"--is actually used in the Bible, including by David himself (see 1 Samuel 25:22), usually in the sense of one who "pisses on the wall" as a synonym for "male" (compare the more polite translation of the New International Version with the more literal translation of the King James Version).

CHAPTER 19


Page 242: The story of David and Bathsheba is given in 2 Samuel 11-12.

Page 242: In 2 Samuel 16:23, the Bible describes Ahithophel as a great counselor: "Now in those days the advice Ahithophel gave was like that of one who inquires of God."

Page 243: "I continued embroidering the coat of many colors I was making for my son, Nebat." That Michal makes a coat of many colors reflects her great love for her son, an allusion to Genesis 37:3: "Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours." (The King James Version translation is used here because "coat of many colors" is the term that any readers will recognize for its association with Joseph.)

Page 245: The Bible does not directly state that David's adviser Ahithophel was Bathsheba's grandfather. However, 2 Samuel 11:3 gives Bathsheba's father's name as Eliam, and 2 Samuel 23:34 names an Eliam son of Ahithophel as one of thirty chief warriors of Israel. It is entirely plausible, and even likely that it is the same Eliam in both verses, as both Eliam and Ahithophel are uncommon names.

Page 245: The story of Nathan's rebuke of David is given in 2 Samuel 12:1-14.

Page 249: "As if to confirm Rizpah’s suspicions, Nathan the Prophet appeared before David and informed him that God loved Bathsheba’s son very much and, thus, the boy would be named Jedediah—'friend to God.'” As told in 2 Samuel, 12, 24-25: “Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba, and he went to her and made love to her. She gave birth to a son, and they named him Solomon. The LORD loved him; and because the LORD loved him, he sent word through Nathan the prophet to name him Jedidiah.” 

Page 251: “'Absalom is gorgeous,' I whispered to Rizpah. 'We have to admit that he is even better looking than our boys.'” The Bible attests to Absalom's great beauty (2 Samuel 14:25): “In all Israel there was not a man so highly praised for his handsome appearance as Absalom. From the top of his head to the sole of his foot there was no blemish in him.”

Page 251: "The information quickly made its way to us in the form of Tamar daughter of Maakah, Absalom’s sister, who was running amok all through the palace, ashes in her hair, her gown torn, scratching at her forehead with her fingernails, pacing and screaming." The story of Amnon and Tamar is told at great length in chapter 13 of 2 Samuel

Page 252: "David’s reaction surprised us. Rather than putting his rapist son on trial and punishing him, or at the very least removing him from his position as crown prince, the king demanded that his daughter keep quiet, and he returned to his usual business as if nothing had happened. The Bible is less explicit here (2 Samuel 12:20-21): “Her brother Absalom said to her, ‘Has that Amnon, your brother, been with you? Be quiet for now, my sister; he is your brother. Don’t take this thing to heart.’ And Tamar lived in her brother Absalom’s house, a desolate woman. When King David heard all this, he was furious.”

Page 256: "None of us foresaw Absalom’s rebellion." For the full story of the rebellion see chapters 14-18 of 2 Samuel. The Bible spends given entire chapters on the story of Absalom's rebellion.

Page 257: "I recalled what she’d said back then two years later, as Adonijah’s body, full of stab wounds, was taken from the altar, and the queen mother’s scribes hurried to spread the rumor that he had asked to have the king’s widow for himself, thus declaring himself a rebel against the crown." The maneuvers of Solomon and Adonijah hold the majority of chapter 1 of 1 Kings. See also pages 262-263 of The Secret Book of Kings.

Page 257: "Ahithophel wasted no time and quickly taught Absalom how to win the love of the nation. When I first heard about his methods, I thought they resembled those of David, which I’d seen up close when I had accompanied him on his journeys among the people. But it quickly became clear to me that the son had surpassed his father." The Bible tells us about Absalom's methods in 2 Samuel, 15:1-6.

Page 258: “I don’t care what the nation wants. I know what it needs.” This statement is based on a famous saying of David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister.

Page 258: “'They call him "Man of Blood,"' Micah reported with pleasure. 'The people of Israel have had enough of the Sons of Zeruiah’s reign of terror.' See page 260 of The Secret Book of Kings.

Page 259: "Absalom has fifty people running ahead of him and weighs his hair on a scale." This is what the Bible says of Absalom’s hair (2 Samuel 14:26): “Whenever he cut the hair of his head—he used to cut his hair once a year because it became too heavy for him—he would weigh it, and its weight was two hundred shekels by the royal standard.” The fifty runners are also described in the Bible (2 Samuel 15:1): "In the course of time, Absalom provided himself with a chariot and horses and with fifty men to run ahead of him."

Page 259: “'The hearts of the men of Israel are with Absalom!'” (2 Samuel 15:13).

Page 259: "He ordered that ten of his wives be left behind to tend to his palace." So the Bible reports in 2 Samuel 15:16: “The king set out, with his entire household following him; but he left ten concubines to take care of the palace.”

Page 260: "On our way downstairs we heard from above us the screaming of the women being raped on the roof." As told in 2 Samuel 16:22: “So they pitched a tent for Absalom on the roof, and he slept with his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel.”

Page 260: " . . . weeping as he went, weeping as he went . . ." (A quote from 2 Samuel 15:30).

Page 260: “'Get out, get out, you man of blood, you scoundrel! God has repaid you for all the blood you shed in the household of Saul, in whose place you have reigned. Because you are a man of blood!'” (2 Samuel 16:7-8). (Slight variations from the New International Version translation here in order to retain the more colorful expression "man of blood," used in the Jewish Publication Society translation, which is closer to the Hebrew than the NIV's "murderer.")

Page 261:“'The advice of Ahithophel is like the word of God,' the king told his people." In 2 Samuel 16:23, the Bible tells us: “Now in those days the advice Ahithophel gave was like that of one who inquires of God. That was how both David and Absalom regarded all of Ahithophel’s advice.”

Page 261: “'I’m willing to go frustrate the advice of Ahithophel,'” Hushai told David. The story of Ahithophel’s advice and Hushai’s counsel in told in chapter 17 of 2 Samuel.

Page 261: "Absalom received Hushai with suspicion – saying 'So this is the love you show your friend? If he’s your friend, why didn’t you go with him?'" (See 2 Samuel 16:17).

Page 262: “The advice of Hushai the Arkite is better than that of Ahithophel!” (Quoting 2 Samuel 17:14).

Page 262: "Ahithophel realized that the fate of the rebellion had been sealed . . . . [H]e saddled his donkey and set out for his hometown of Giloh, and he hanged himself." As reported in 2 Samuel 17:23: “When Ahithophel saw that his advice had not been followed, he saddled his donkey and set out for his house in his hometown. He put his house in order and then hanged himself. So he died and was buried in his father’s tomb.”

Page 262: "His wives had nothing but contempt for the young girl from Shunam, who had been brought to his bed to warm his wizened body." The story of Abishag the Shunammite is told in 1 Kings 1:1-4. The reaction of David's wife is not stated, but it is not hard to imagine.

Page 263: “'As surely as God lives, who has delivered me out of every trouble, I will surely carry out this very day what I swore to you by the God of Israel: Solomon your son shall be king after me, and he will sit on my throne in my place.'” (Quoting David's statement in 1 Kings 1:30).

Pages 263-264: "Joab son of Zeruiah fled to the Tabernacle immediately after Solomon’s coronation and grabbed hold of one of the altar’s horns. He thought that no Israelite would dare slaughter a man in a holy place, but Benaiah son of Jehoiada, the new commander of the army, who had chased him there, explained at length that the order to kill him had been given directly by David, who had even made the effort to put it into writing in his will, and that even the altar could not frustrate the will of the king." This episode takes place in 1 Kings 2:28-35.

Page 264: "Adonijah also fled to the Tabernacle and held on to the altar’s horns, and he was also killed by Benaiah son of Jehoiada." This part of the story is told first, in 1 Kings 2:25: “So King Solomon gave orders to Benaiah son of Jehoiada, and he struck down Adonijah and he died.”

Page 264: "So, Solomon sat on the throne of his father David, and his rule was firmly established." (Quoting 1 Kings 2:12).

CHAPTER 20


Page 265: "Our seven boys were taken to Gibeah at the start of the barley harvest, less than a year before Solomon took the throne." See 2 Samuel 21:8-9: “But the king took Armoni and Mephibosheth, the two sons of Aiah’s daughter Rizpah, whom she had borne to Saul, together with the five sons of Saul’s daughter Merab, whom she had borne to Adriel son of Barzillai the Meholathite. He handed them over to the Gibeonites, who killed them and exposed their bodies on a hill before the LORD. All seven of them fell together; they were put to death during the first days of the harvest, just as the barley harvest was beginning.” Note that the New International Version translation, which is the translation generally used throughout The Secret Book of Kings, says “the five sons of Saul’s daughter Merab,” while the original Masoretic Hebrew text (and the Jewish Publication Society translation, which follows it) says “the five sons of Saul’s daughter Michal.” (Compare these translations by clicking here.) Ostensibly, the NIV and other translations believe "Michal" to be a scribal error in the Masoretic Hebrew text, while ancient Rabbinical interpretation has suggested that they are called the sons of Michal because Michal adopted them after the death of her sister Merab. The novel, of course, suggests that one of the boys actually was the son of Michal, a fact that was suppressed by the Biblical author.

Page 265: "I would have cried and begged and repeated the vow he’d made to Father and to me." This statement refers to 1 Samuel 24:21-22: “[Saul said to David:] 'Now swear to me by the LORD that you will not kill off my descendants or wipe out my name from my father’s family.’ So David gave his oath to Saul. Then Saul returned home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold.” 

Page 266: "The king took the two sons of Rizpah daughter of Aiah, whom she had borne to Saul, Armoni and Mephiel, Together with the five sons of Michal daughter of Saul, Whom Merab had borne to Adriel son of Barzillai the Meholathite." Note, again, the difference from the Bible's “five sons of Saul’s daughter Michal, whom she had borne to Adriel son of Barzillai the Meholathite” (2 Samuel 21:8). Yochi Brandes, following the interpretation of Jewish scholars throughout the ages, replaces “she” with “Merab" to emphasize that Michal was the adoptive mother of Merab's sons after Merab's and Adriel’s deaths. 

Page 266: "And my son, my only son, whom I love . . ." This phrasing follows Genesis 22:1-2: “Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, ‘Abraham!’ ‘Here I am,’ he replied. Then God said, ‘Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.’” 

Page 267: "Rizpah daughter of Aiah took sackcloth, And spread it out for herself on a rock. From the beginning of the harvest till the rain poured down from the heavens on the bodies, She did not let the birds touch them by day, Or the wild animals by night." This passage is a direct quote of 2 Samuel 21:10

Page 268: "You killed them because you realize that as long as we still have hope that one of Saul’s descendants might become king, your son’s reign would not be firmly established." This perspective foreshadows the Biblical author's statement later, in 1 Kings 2:12: “So Solomon sat on the throne of his father David, and his rule was firmly established.”

Page 268: "They ordered the palace scribes to remind the people of Israel that the land had been plagued by a terrible drought every year for the past three years, and that all their pleading and praying and begging had done them no good." This line is based on the first line of the Bible's story of the deaths of the sons of Saul: “During the reign of David, there was a famine for three successive years . . .” (2 Samuel 21:1).

Page 269: "They sent the king’s scribes to tell the people that God does indeed despise human sacrifice, but that He also punishes sons for the sins of their fathers." As stated in Exodus 34:6-7: “ ‘The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.’” 

Page 269: "The scribes reminded them that Saul had failed to wipe out the Amalekites and that he hadn’t waited for Samuel, as ordered, but instead had made the war sacrifice himself." The story of the war with the Amalekites, and the perspective of the Biblical author that Saul's failure was the beginning of the end of his reign, is told in chapter 15 of 1 Samuel

Page 269: "But when the scribes saw that the people actually respected Saul for doing those things, they brought up the gravest sin of all: the massacre of the town of Nob. But almost every person in Israel personally knew refugees that had fled Nob and had heard from them more than once that the man who had destroyed that city of priests was Doeg the Edomite." This is what the Bible says about the killing of the priests of Nob (1 Samuel 22:17-19): “Then the king [Saul] ordered the guards at his side: 'Turn and kill the priests of the LORD, because they too have sided with David. They knew he was fleeing, yet they did not tell me.' But the king’s officials were unwilling to raise a hand to strike the priests of the LORD. The king then ordered Doeg, ‘You turn and strike down the priests.’ So Doeg the Edomite turned and struck them down. That day he killed eighty-five men who wore the linen ephod. He also put to the sword Nob, the town of the priests, with its men and women, its children and infants, and its cattle, donkeys and sheep.”

Page 269: "Only then did the scribes inform the people of Saul’s massacre of the Gibeonites, the woodcutters and water carriers of Israel." The status of the Gibeonites as woodcutters and water carriers, as punishment for an act of deception against the Israelites that they undertook in order to save themselves from destruction, is stated in Joshua 9:27: “That day he made the Gibeonites woodcutters and water carriers for the assembly, to provide for the needs of the altar of the LORD at the place the LORD would choose. And that is what they are to this day.” 

Page 269: "David sent out his heralds to call the people of Israel to a magnificent state funeral that would be conducted for the heroic King Saul son of Kish and his ten loved and admired sons." The Bible quotes David in his lament: “’Saul and Jonathan—in life they were loved and admired, and in death they were not parted. They were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions’” (2 Samuel 1:23). 

Page 269: "The bones of Saul and his three sons who had been killed in the battle of Mount Gilboa were dug out of their grave in Jabesh Gilead and brought to Gibeah, and the bodies of the seven boys were taken down from the pillories on the mountaintop." As the Bible tells the story in 2 Samuel 21:11-14: “When David was told what Aiah's daughter Rizpah, Saul's concubine, had done, he went and took the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan from the citizens of Jabesh Gilead. (They had stolen their bodies from the public square at Beth Shan, where the Philistines had hung them after they struck Saul down on Gilboa.) David brought the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan from there, and the bones of those who had been killed and exposed were gathered up. They buried the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan in the tomb of Saul’s father Kish, at Zela in Benjamin, and did everything the king commanded.” 

Page 270: On the day of the funeral, furious rainstorms pounded the entire land without respite." This gift of rain is implied by the conclusion of the Biblical story of the burial of Saul's and Jonathan's bones (2 Samuel 21:14): “After that, God answered prayer in behalf of the land.”

Page 270: “We will not forgive! We will not forget!” Here, Yochi Brandes is quoting a famous Israeli saying, drawn from a speech by fellow bestselling Israeli novelist Meir Shalev delivered shortly after the assassination of the Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995.

CHAPTER 21


Page 272: “Shelomoam, my grandson, my only grandson, whom I love.” Michal's phrasing follows the famous phrasing in the story of the Binding of Isaac in Genesis 22:1-2: “Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, ‘Abraham!’ ‘Here I am,’ he replied. Then God said, ‘Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.’”

CHAPTER 22