Updated: Apr 6, 2020
Timeline, Meet the Women, Notes on sources
(1016 BC) Annointing: (1 Samuel 16:1-13)
(1015 - 1012 BC) Rise to Fame: (1 Samuel 17-19; 25:44) Defeats Goliath and wins many battles against the Philistines Marries Michal, flees from Saul
(1012-1005 BC) Flight from Saul: (1 Samuel 25-30) David marries Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, former wife of Nabal. Spares Saul’s life three times, flees into Philistine territory for safety Is given, loses, and reclaims the territory of Ziklag
(1004- 995BC) War with Saul and Early Reign: (1 Samuel 31- 2 Samuel 7)
David made king in Hebron, causing civil war Abner murders Asahel, son of Zeruiah. Saul and his sons die, David protects Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth Ish-bosheth crowned king of Israel, Abner declares loyalty to David, Michal returned to David
Joab and Abishai murder Abner in vengeance David punishes Ishbosheth’s murderers Makes plans to build God’s temple
(996-990) The Wars: (2 Sam. 8:6) David defeats the Philistines, the Moabites, Zoba,
the Arameans of Damascus, the Edomites, and the Ammonites.
(991 BC) Adultery and Murder: David commits adultery with Bathsheba, the wife Uriah the Hittite. Has Uriah killed and then marries Bathsheba Nathan delivers the prophecy that “the sword will never depart from his house.”
(988-976 BC) The Sword Within the House: (2 Sam. 19:4). Amnon rapes Tamar, Absalom kills Amnon, and escapes to Geshur for two years. Absalom stages a coup, runs David out of Jerusalem, defiles his concubines, goes to battle against David, Joab kills Absalom
(975-973 BC) The Sword Without: The Aftermath: (2 Sam. 21) David gives the command of the army to Amasa, whom Joab murders. David resolves three years of famine and Rizpah’s family tragedy.
(969-965 BC)The Last Days of the King: Abishag chosen to keep David warm, Adonijah attempts a coup. Solomon made king David charges Solomon with the work of the temple. Solomon has Adonijah and Joab killed, David dies around age 69 after reigning seven years in Hebron and thirty-three in Israel. (1 Kings. 2:10)
Dates found in The Bible Timeline by Thomas Robinson
Cast of Characters:
In order of Appearance Names, Pronunciations, Meanings, Ages of first appearances, Relation to David, Role, and Biblical references given.
Abishag: AB ih shag, “given to error”
Portrayed as 16, from Shunem,
a beautiful virgin chosen to keep the aging king warm at night
She is considered one of the king’s concubines, but is never intimate with him. Her development frames the play as she tries to decide what she thinks about this so-called “man after God’s own heart.” (1 Kings 1:1-4; 1 Kings 1:15; 1 Kings 2:17; 1 Kings 2:21-22)
Abigail: AB ih gale, “parent of joy” Early 60’s, from Carmel, wife of David, formerly the wife of Nabal, mother of Keliab or Chileab
She acts as Abishag’s mentor and instructs her to learn from the other women in David’s past. While still the wife of Nabal, she persuades David not to take vengeance against Nabal, thereby helping save David from bloodguilt. David takes Abigail to be his wife after God strikes Nabal dead. Abigail flees with David and his other wife, Ahinoam, as David runs from Saul. She bears him one child, Keliab, during his reign as king of Judah in Hebron.
(1 Sam. 25:2-44; 1 Sam. 27:3; 1 Sam. 30:3-5: 1 Sam. 30: 18; 2 Sam. 2:2-3; 2 Sam. 3:2; 1 Ch. 3:1-2)
Woman of Gilgal:
Mid 20's, of Gilgal. She rejoices in the return of her male family members and in the victory David has won over the Philistines. Because of the praises of her and other women, Saul jealousy of David mounts into hatred. (1 Sam. 18:6-7)
Michal: me kawl, “who is like God” 17-18, daughter of King Saul, deeply in love with David.
David pays Saul two hundred Philistine foreskins to marry her. When Saul attempts to kill David, she helps him escape through the window. Saul later gives her in marriage to Paltiel of Lachish. David summons Michal back once he is king over both Israel and Judah but, from what we know, is not intimate with her. She watches him dance before the Ark of the Covenant, “despises him in her heart,” and rebukes him for acting foolishly. David corrects her and most likely is never intimate with her after this point. She bears him no children, living a solitary life within the palace.
(1 Sam. 14:50; 1 Sam. 18: 20-29; 1 Sam. 19:8-17; 1 Sam. 3;12-16; 2 Sam. 6:16; 2 Sam. 6:20-23)
Ahinoam: a HIN oh am, “my brother is delight” Upper 20's, wife of David, from Jezreel, mother of Amnon.
Little is known about Ahinoam other than that she, along with Abigail, fled from Saul with David, was taken captive by raiders and possibly raped, and was rescued by David. She bears him his first child,
Amnon, while he is king over Judah in Hebron. (1 Sam. 25:43; 1 Sam. 27:3; 1 Sam 30:3-5; 1 Sam 30:18; 2 Sam. 2:2; 2 Sam. 3:2;
1 Ch. 3:1-2)
Rizpah: rits-paw, “pavement” 30, concubine to King Saul, mother of Armoni and Meribaal
To repay the house of Saul for Saul’s sin against the Gibeonites, the Gibeonites impale Rizpah’s sons and expose them on the hill of Gibeah along with the five sons of Merab, Saul’s elder daughter. For the entirety of the harvest season, Rizaph guards the bodies from birds and wild animals both night and day. Once David hears about her action, he gathers the bones of Saul and Jonathan and the bones of all the dead sons and buries them. “After that, God answers prayer in behalf of the land” (2 Sam. 21:14).
(2 Sam. 3:6-11; 2 Sam. 21:8-13)
50's; servant of royal household; nurse to Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth, Saul’s grandson Before David fled from Saul, he promised to protect all of Jonathan’s descendants to prove his love for him. Jonathan had a son named Mephibosheth, whose nurse drops him after hearing about Saul and Jonathan’s deaths. The fall cripples the child in both feet. David later brings Mephibosheth and his family into the royal household in honor of his vow to Jonathan. (2 Sam. 4:4)
Bathsheba: bath SHE buh, “daughter of oath” 35, former wife of Uriah the Hittite, wife of David, mother of Solomon Bathsheba is famous for her adultery with David, which results in the death of their wedlock child and the murder Uriah. Much controversy has arisen over whether or not she was a victim or was equally as guilty as David. I have tried to focus on her reaction to the other wives’ opinions of her and leave the judgment of her guilt up to you. (2 Sam. 11; 2 Sam. 12:9-12; 2 Sam. 12:24; 1 Kings 1:11-31; 1 Kings 2:14-25; Matt. 1:6)
Tamar: TAY mur, “palm” 27, daughter of David and Maacah, sister to Absalom and Hanan
Her virgin beauty attracts the lust of her half-brother, Amnon, son of Ahinoam of Jezreel. Amnon constructs a plot to bring Tamar into his room, in which David played a part, and then he rapes her, an offense which leaves her desolate—unable to marry and bear children. Tamar flees to take refuge with her blood brother, Absalom, who houses her. Absalom advises Tamar not to “take it to heart,” but he determines to murder Amnon for his offense. He does so, and then stages a coup against David. As an act of proclaiming his power, Absalom sleeps with David’s concubines on the roof of the palace after he has driven David and the rest of the royal household out of the city. Tamar confronts Absalom, questioning his motives.
(2 Sam. 13: 1-20; 2 Sam. 13:32)
Maacah: mah ak aw, “oppression” 47, wife of David, princess of Geshur, mother of Absalom, Hanan, and Tamar
Maacah mourns over the loss of her sons and the desecration of her daughter. She questions David and his God, who has allowed her, a foreigner, to suffer so acutely. (2 Sam. 3:3; 1 Ch. 3:1-2; 1 Ch. 11:26-27)
Zeruiah: tser OO yaw, “balsam” 56, sister of David, mother of Joab, Abishai, and Asahel, all of whom served in David’s army. Joab
served as the commander of the army. Though loyal to David, he is notorious for looking out for himself. He murders Abner son of Ner to avenge his brother Asahel, and when David removes him from command, he murders Amasa, his cousin, to whom David had granted command. I have written Zeruiah as a mother very active in the affairs of her sons, concerned about their power, and skeptical of David’s righteousness.
(1 Sam. 26:6; 2 Sam. 2:18; 2 Sam. 3;39; 2 Sam. 8:16; 2 Sam. 14:1; 2 Sam. 17:25; 2 Sam. 18:2; 2 Sam. 19:21-22; 2 Sam. 23:18, 37; 1 Kings 1:7; 1 Kings 2:5; 1 Kings 2:22; 1 Ch. 2:13-17; 1 Ch. 11;6, 26-47; 1 Ch. 18:12, 15; 1 Ch. 26:28; 1 Ch. 27:24)
Abigail, Sister of David: AB ih gale, “parent of joy” 48, David’s sister, sister of Zeruiah, aunt of Joab, mother of Amasa When the news of her son’s murder reaches her, Abigail is certain that her sister Zeruiah and nephew Joab are responsible because Amasa had recently been given Joab’s job. She sends her rebuke to her sister through the messenger. (2 Sam. 17:25; 1 Ch. 2:16-17)
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
ish-bo'-sheth ('ish-bosheth, "man of shame" Iesbosthe): Called 'eshba`al, "man of Baal" (1 Chronicles 8:33), and yishwi, "man of Yahweh" (?), perhaps for 'isheyo (1 Samuel 14:49). Compare ESHBAAL and ISHVI (the King James Version "Ishui").
We probably have the right meaning of the name in Eshbaal and Ishvi, the words Baal and Yahweh being frequently interchanged. The change to Ish-bosheth, "man of shame," in 2 Samuel, where the story of his shameful murder is related, may be better explained as reference to this (see MEPHIBOSHETH, whose name was also changed from Merib-baal for similar reasons), than to find here a suggestion of Baal-worship, but see HPN, 121, where the change is explained as a correction of the scribes, in consequence of prophetic protests.
One of the sons of Saul (1 Chronicles 8:33; 1 Chronicles 9:39 1 Samuel 14:49) who, when his father and brothers were slain in the battle of Gilboa (1 Samuel 31:1), was proclaimed king over Israel by Abner, the captain of Saul's host, at Mahanaim (2 Samuel 2:8). Ishbosheth was 40 years old at this time and reigned over Israel 2 years (2 Samuel 2:10). Judah, however, proclaimed David its king. The consequence was war (2 Samuel 2:12).
The house of David prevailed against the house of Saul (2 Samuel 3:1), but the war did not come to a close until Abner, angry on account of the rebuke he suffered from Ish-Bosheth for his unlawful intimacy with Rizpah, Saul's concubine, joined David (2 Samuel 3:6). David's condition to return to him Michal, his wife before peace could be made, was fulfilled by Ish-Bosheth (2 Samuel 3:14 f), but it was not until after Abner's death that Ish-Bosheth seems to have given up hopes of retaining his power (2 Samuel 4:1).
The shameful murder of Ish-Bosheth by his own captains is recorded in 2 Samuel 4:5. David punished the murderers who had expected reward and buried Ish-Bosheth in the grave of Abner at Hebron (2 Samuel 4:12 f).
Arthur L. Breslich
Pronunciations of names and name meanings found at http://www.alabaster-jars.com/womenindex.html
Characters: All the Women of the Bible by Herbert Lockyer Women in Scripture: A Dictionary of Name