It may seem hard to accept, but in this article we will see evidence that King David was illegitimate. We will also see how it relates prophetically not only to Yeshua, but also to us as Ephraimites. Further, in future chapters we will see how this relates to the Two Houses of Israel, and also to Yahweh’s grand plan of salvation.
In the last chapter we saw how Shemuel (Samuel) the Prophet had a special anointing that was both Levitical and Melchizedekian. Then in 1 Shemuel 16 Yahweh told Shemuel to go to Beit Lechem (Bethlehem) and anoint a new king over Israel from among Yishai’s (Jesse’s) sons, to replace King Shaul.
Shemuel Aleph (1 Samuel) 16:1-5
1 Now Yahweh said to Shemuel, “How long will you mourn for Shaul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go; I am sending you to Yishai the Bethlehemite. For I have provided Myself a king among his sons.”
2 And Shemuel said, “How can I go? If Shaul hears it, he will kill me.” But Yahweh said, “Take a heifer with you, and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to Yahweh.’
3 Then invite Yishai to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; you shall anoint for Me the one I name to you.”
4 So Shemuel did what Yahweh said, and went to Bethlehem. And the elders of the town trembled at his coming, and said, “Do you come peaceably?”
5 And he said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to Yahweh. Sanctify yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice.” Then he set Yishai and his sons apart, and invited them to the sacrifice.
Notice that in verse 4 that the city elders “trembled” at Shemuel’s coming. Then in verse 5 we are told that Shemuel set Yishai and his sons apart and invited them to the sacrifice. Yet in verse 10 Shemuel realized that the future king of Israel was not there, so he asked Yishai if “all” of his sons were there. The answer was no, that the youngest was still tending the sheep.
Shemuel Aleph (1 Samuel) 16:10-13
10 Thus Yishai made seven of his sons pass before Shemuel. And Shemuel said to Yishai, “Yahweh has not chosen these.”
11 And Shemuel said to Yishai, “Are all the young men here?” Then he said, “There remains yet the youngest, and there he is, keeping the sheep.” And Shemuel said to Yishai, “Send and bring him. For we will not sit down till he comes here.”
12 So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with bright eyes, and good-looking. And Yahweh said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!”
13 Then Shemuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of Yahweh came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel arose and went to Ramah.
The traditional explanation as to why Yishai did not make sure all of his sons were at the sacrifice is simply that David was the youngest. However, it does not make sense that Yishai would leave any of his legitimate sons out of this feast. Let us consider that Shemuel was judge over Israel, meaning he was the most powerful and respected man in the nation (like a king). So, if a king came to town and set us and our sons apart, and invited us to a special sacrifice, and told us to bring our sons, would we leave one of them out? Or would we make sure they were all there?
It doesn’t make sense that Yishai would leave any of his legitimate sons out of a meeting with a greatly respected leader of the nation such as Shemuel. Yet it would make sense to exclude a bastard son, because a bastard is not normally considered a full legal son (and he does not normally have full legal rights).
For other witnesses to this theory let us read Psalm 51, which was written after David’s adulterous affair with Bat Sheva (Bathsheba). In verse 5, King David wrote: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.”
Tehillim (Psalms) 51:5
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.
What is King David trying to say here? Traditionally this is interpreted to mean that David’s affair with Bat Sheva was due to the same fleshly sinful nature which plagues all of fallen mankind (due to Adam and Havvah’s original sin). However, this does not truly explain why King David committed adultery, because while all humans share the same sinful fleshly nature, not all human beings commit adultery.
Why not take King David at face value when he says, “in sin my mother conceived me”? Why not accept that King David was confessing that he was the product of an illicit affair? Wouldn’t that explain why David was not invited to the meeting with Shemuel (since illegitimate sons are not technically considered full sons)? And yet he was still considered to be a son, such that when Shemuel asked if “all” of Yishai’s sons were there, it could honestly be said that the youngest son was still tending the sheep.
Consider also that Scripture gives us the names of the mothers of many of the other important prophets and kings, including Shemuel’s mother Hannah (1 Shemuel 1:20), Moshe’s mother Yocheved (Exodus 6:20), and Yeshua’s mother Miriam (e.g. Matthew 1:16). We are also told that King Solomon’s mother’s name was Bat Sheva (Bathsheba, 2 Samuel 12:24), but we are never told King David’s mother’s name. Why is her name not mentioned?
There are a few possibilities. First, if David’s mother was married to Yishai, but she had an affair with another man and conceived David, her name might have been left out of the Scriptural record (along with the biological father’s name), because to bring up the genealogy could have brought shame upon Yishai.
Second (and it seems more likely), if Yishai had an affair, or if he had visited a prostitute and she conceived, again David’s mother’s name would have been left out of the Scriptural record, because this also would have brought shame upon Yishai.
In ancient Israel, when a prostitute conceived, the son could be adopted and raised by the father. For example, Judges 11:1-2 tells us that Yipthah (Jepthah) was the son of a prostitute.
Shophetim (Judges) 11:1-2
1 Now Yipthah the Gileadite was a mighty man of valor, but he was the son of a harlot; and Gilead begot Yipthah.
2 Gilead’s wife bore sons; and when his wife’s sons grew up, they drove Yipthah out, and said to him, “You shall have no inheritance in our father’s house, for you are the son of another woman.”
While Gilead raised his son Yipthah, Yipthah was not truly considered a full son (with the same legal rights to the inheritance). Gilead’s legitimate sons eventually drove him out (verse 2), to prevent him from receiving any of his father’s inheritance. And yet because he was a skilled warrior, Yipthah went on to become the judge (basically the king) of Israel, as King David would later do.
Perhaps, like Yipthah’s brothers sought to exclude him, did David’s brothers also pressure their father, to make sure he was not included at the feast? This would also match the record in Psalm 69, which is thought to refer to David’s early life (before he became king). Notice that in verse 8, David says that he had become estranged from his brothers, and that he was also an alien to his mother’s children. This is two separate groups of people.
Tehillim (Psalms) 69:8
8 I have become a stranger to my brothers, And an alien to my mother’s children…
This would seem to strongly support the idea that David was the offspring of another woman, because David’s brothers (Yishai’s sons) rejected him, as did his mother’s children.
Curiously, when Yishai asks David to take food to his brothers when they were fighting with the Philistines, there is no conflict. However, there is conflict as soon as David shows up at the battlefront, with his brother Eliab verbally abusing him.
Shemuel Aleph (1 Samuel) 17:28-29
28 Now Eliab his oldest brother heard when he spoke to the men; and Eliab’s anger was aroused against David, and he said, “Why did you come down here? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your pride and the insolence of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.”
29 And David said, “What have I done now? Is there not a cause?”
David’s answer (“What have I done now?”) seems to say that it was not uncommon for him to receive abuse from Eliab, and perhaps from his other brothers as well. This would be consistent with him being illegitimate.
We might also consider that in ancient times, Israelites most likely had olive colored skin. In contrast, we are told that David’s complexion was “ruddy.” Why are we given this information, unless it is a hint that David did not have the same genetics as his brothers?
Shemuel Aleph (1 Samuel) 16:12
12 So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with bright eyes, and good-looking. And Yahweh said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!”
Returning to Psalm 69, it seems to indicate that David’s early life was filled with loneliness and rejection. David speaks of crying because of his rejection, and also for being punished for sins that he did not commit.
Tehillim (Psalms) 69:3-4
3 I am weary with my crying; My throat is dry; My eyes fail while I wait for my Elohim.
4 Those who hate me without a cause Are more than the hairs of my head; They are mighty who would destroy me, Being my enemies wrongfully; Though I have stolen nothing, I still must restore it.
In Psalm 69:8 (above), when King David said he had become a “stranger” to his brothers, the word in Hebrew is muzar (מוּזָר). Strong’s Concordance tells us that this word is related to the word for an illegitimate child (or a bastard), which in Hebrew is called a mamzer (מַמְזֵר). (The Strong’s definition here is not completely correct. What makes a mamzer is the lack of a lawful union.)
OT:4464 mamzer (mam-zare’); from an unused root meaning to alienate; a mongrel, i.e. born of a Jewish father and a heathen mother:
KJV – bastard.
There is also another related Hebrew word, which is zur (זר). This refers to someone who is turned aside from lodging because he is strange, or profane, or because he comes from a strange man or woman (who is not part of the nation of Israel).
OT:2114 (זור) zuwr (zoor); a primitive root; to turn aside (especially for lodging); hence to be a foreigner, strange, profane; specifically (active participle) to commit adultery:
KJV – (come from) another (man, place), fanner, go away, (e-) strange (-r, thing, woman).
Now here is where the study starts to get interesting. If David was a mamzer (illegitimate), then he would have been shunned in his early life, based on Deuteronomy 23:2, which prohibits anyone of illegitimate birth entering the assembly of Yahweh, even to the tenth generation.
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 23:2
2 “One of illegitimate birth shall not enter the assembly of Yahweh; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the assembly of Yahweh.”
However, we need to understand this prohibition in its greater overall context. Deuteronomy 23:2 cannot mean that no one of illegitimate birth can ever belong to the nation of Israel in an absolute sense, or Yipthah could never have belonged to the nation of Israel (much less been made Israel’s judge).
Further, Judah had five sons, three of which survived.
B’reisheet (Genesis) 46:12
12 The sons of Judah were Er, Onan, Shelah, Perez, and Zerah (but Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan). The sons of Perez were Hezron and Hamul.
Two of the three surviving sons were Perez and Zerah, who came illegitimately through Tamar.
B’reisheet (Genesis) 38:29-30
29 Then it happened, as he drew back his hand, that his brother came out unexpectedly; and she said, “How did you break through? This breach be upon you!” Therefore his name was called Perez.
30 Afterward his brother came out who had the scarlet thread on his hand. And his name was called Zerah.
If we apply the prohibition of Deuteronomy 23:2 in an absolute sense, we must remove two-thirds of the tribe of Judah from Israel! And even if we wanted to do that, we cannot, because there are only nine generations in between Judah’s illegitimate son Perez and the also-illegitimate King David, who is the ancestor of Yeshua. So, if we apply Deuteronomy 23:2 in an absolute sense, we effectively have to exclude Yeshua’s line from the nation of Israel (Elohim forbid!).
Luqa (Luke) 3:31-33
31 the son of Melea, the son of Menan, the son of Mattathah, the son of Nathan, the son of David,
32 the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Salmon, the son of Nahshon,
33 the son of Amminadab, the son of Ram, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah….
So how should we understand Deuteronomy 23:2? It is sometimes thought that the phrase “ten generations” means “for all time.” Yet while illegitimacy will always be prohibited, this prohibition is not absolute such that a bastard must be put outside the nation (because like King David, the child did nothing wrong). Only, it will always be considered a great blemish to be illegitimate, such that someone of illegitimate birth is not allowed to join the assembly of the leaders of the nation (which is the other definition of “assembly”).
We should also remember that Yahweh writes laws for us (not for Himself). Therefore, when it pleases Him to do so, He can make an exception to His own blanket rule and raise one of illegitimate birth up to leadership status. However, unless He does so, the prohibition against illegitimacy will generally keep a bastard from becoming a leader in Israel. And yet there have also been several great bastard kings and queens in the Judeo-Christian world, to include William the Conqueror, and Queen Elizabeth. Perhaps like King David and Yipthah, William and Elizabeth did nothing wrong, and so Yahweh took mercy on their condition, and raised them up.
So, to make matters especially interesting for Ephraim, in addition to the general prohibition against a mamzer serving in the assembly of leaders there is also a prohibition against a zur (זר) or other person of strange birth (or strange faith) serving in the Levitical order, or of touching the things that are assigned to the Levites. One example (among many) is given in Numbers 1:51, where we are told that a stranger (זר) who comes near to the tabernacle (to move it) shall be put to death.
Bemidbar (Numbers) 1:51
51 “And when the tabernacle is to go forward, the Levites shall take it down; and when the tabernacle is to be set up, the Levites shall set it up. The outsider who comes near shall be put to death.”
In the next chapters we will see why this is so interesting, because it hints as to why King David had to establish the Tabernacle of David in order to make possible the regathering of the lost sheep of the house of Ephraim (or Israel), who are also of a similarly illegitimate status.
Hoshea (Hosea) 1:2
2 When Yahweh began to speak by Hoshea, Yahweh said to Hosea: “Go, take yourself a wife of harlotry And children of harlotry, For the land has committed great harlotry By departing from Yahweh.”
As we explain in Nazarene Israel, we Ephraimites are children of spiritual harlotry, and our forefathers also have married outside of the covenant. We are zurim (strangers) in both the spiritual and the physical sense. And yet Yahweh also has compassion on us, in that this is also not our fault. Our mission was to intermarry with all of the families of the earth, in order to bring about the promises given to Israel, that every family and every nation would be blessed in him (genetically), and in his Seed (meaning Yeshua). And yet because we are not allowed to come near the Levitical (or rabbinical) temple, there had to be a means of bringing us near, until such time as Yahweh decides to take some of us for priests, and for Levites.
Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 66:20-21
20 Then they shall bring all your brethren for an offering to Yahweh out of all nations, on horses and in chariots and in litters, on mules and on camels, to My set-apart mountain Jerusalem,” says Yahweh, “as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of Yahweh.
21 And I will also take some of them for priests and Levites,” says Yahweh.
As we will see in the next chapters, Yahweh’s plan was first for Shemuel the Ephraimite priest to anoint King David with a special Melchizedekian anointing. With this special anointing, he would serve as a priest in a new kind of tent called the Tabernacle of David. This was a special tent that was separate from the Tabernacle of Meeting (or the Tabernacle of Moshe), and it was to be a special transitional vehicle which would one day be raised back up by King David’s descendant Yeshua, who was also (wrongly) considered illegitimate. Through His great sacrifice, Yeshua would re-establish King David’s Melchizedekian priesthood, which is another transitional vehicle designed to bring back the lost and scattered “children of harlotry” of the house of Ephraim.