King David Versus Israel

How a Hebrew tyrant hated by the Israelites became a biblical hero

By Gary Greenberg

King David versus Israel: How a Hebrew Tyrant Hated by the Israelites Became a Biblical Hero

Note: This book was previously published by Sourcebooks under the title The Sins of King David: A New History.

Inside the Book

Read Chapter 1
Good David and Bad David

See the Table of Contents

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What did the ancient Israelites really think about King David?

King David has become one of the most popular and beloved heroes in the entire bible. But how was he perceived by those who knew him in the time that he became ruler over the Hebrew people? In this challenging and controversial biography Greenberg offers compelling evidence that David was widely despised among the ancient Israelites, that he attempted a military coup to overthrow King Saul, that he arranged for the assassination of his various opponents, that he allied himself with the Philistines against Israel, and that he conquered Israel by force of arms and relied on Philistine allies to keep himself in power against ongoing popular resistance from the people of Israel.

Some of the fascinating things you will earn in King David Versus Israel include:

  • David did not kill Goliath. In the original story the hero was one of King David’s soldiers.
  • There are two conflicting stories in the bible about how King Saul died, both attempting to overcome the fact that David was found in possession of incriminating evidence linking him to Saul’s death.
  • David became king of Judah while Saul was still king over Israel and allied Judah with the Philistines against Israel.
  • David became king of Israel only after waging a two-year civil war against King Eshbaal, the son of Saul and Israel’s legitimate king after Saul’s death.
  • One popular military rebellion against King David temporarily removed him from the throne and a second popular rebellion threatened to do the same.

Review Excerpts

I heartily recommend this substantial volume [It] is a worthy addition to the library of first-rate and challenging books on [King] David – Dr. David Noel Freedman, Editor-in-Chief of the Anchor Bible Project

Placing these texts into their historical, political, and geographical setting, Greenberg is able to separate much historical fact from biblical fiction … The work contains maps, timelines, glossaries, and comparison text, making it a comprehensive account of King David. Library Journal

Gary Greenberg will make you think. He might even make you angry. Green Bay Press-Gazette

[Greenberg] offers compelling new evidence that changes our perceptions — turns David, in essence, from a mythological figure into a living, breathing human being.