Donald F. Murray, «Under Yhwh’s Veto: David as Shedder of Blood in Chronicles», Vol. 82 (2001) 457-476
As grounds for Yhwh’s veto on David’s building the temple, the charge of shedding blood, in Chronicles made against David alone (1 Chr 22,8; 28,3), poses questions both about what is being referred to, and how the charge explains the veto, given that in the Hebrew Bible no other Israelite warrior incurs the charge for killing in warfare. This article explicates the charge, highlights how surprising it is, and then develops a line of argument, drawn principally from Num 31 and 35, that can explain how the Chronicler understood the charge both to be warranted, and to justify Yhwh’s veto.
I. Orientation: the Problem
1. The prime texts
In two separate passages in Chronicles, one addressed to his son Solomon (1 Chr 22,6-11), the other to assembled officials together with all his sons (1 Chr 28,2-7)2, David explains why it is not he himself but Solomon who has been chosen by Yhwh to build the temple. In each passage David relates how his own plan to do so was vetoed by Yhwh3 because he had shed blood and fought wars. In the first version Yhwh encloses his veto within a reiteration of the grounds for his objection:
hnbt-)l ty#( twldg twmxlmw tkp# brl Md
ynpl hcr) tkp# Mybr Mymd yk ym#l tyb
... blood in plenty you have shed and great wars you have prosecuted: you shall not build a house for my name, since copious blood you have shed on the ground in my presence (1 Chr 22,8).
Not only does Yhwh stress by repetition the quantity of blood allegedly shed by David, but he heightens the repetition by adding two further qualifying terms (ynpl hcr) ‘on the ground in my presence’) that focus the issue on how David’s shedding blood affects Yhwh himself. We shall return to the contextual significance of these terms later in the discussion.
In 1 Chr 28,3, on the other hand, the veto comes first, followed by a motivation clause resembling Yhwh’s opening assertion in 22,8: