BiblePlaces Newsletter

Vol 20, #1 - April 12, 2021

I often ask my students: “Quick, tell me which books in the Bible are all about David?” It’s not a trick question, although somebody in the past definitely made it trickier by how they named the books. 2 Samuel isn’t about Samuel at all; he already died in 1 Samuel. I would argue that the “Book of Samuel,” as a whole, should more properly be titled the “Book of David.” The Book of Chronicles would be easier for people to read if it was called the “Book of David and Sons.”

I can hardly change matters now, and so our new collection must necessarily be titled “2 Samuel,” as few Bible readers would be drawn to a new photographic resource for the “Book of David.” But make no mistakeóour photos walk you through the life and reign of David. And it is an extraordinary journey, for no individual in the Old Testament is described in as much detail as David, from his lament at Jonathan’s death to his intercession for God’s people at what would become the Temple Mount.

I think our photo collection will serve two groups especially well. The first are those who are already quite familiar with 2 Samuel and just need the photos to fill in the gapsópictures of Hebron and Jerusalem, images from the lands David conquered, and a variety of photos that reflect details otherwise overlooked.

The second group are those who don’t know 2 Samuel so well, perhaps because tales that include adultery and murder are more easily skipped when telling stories to younger ears. This group will find a whole world opened up to them as they read the text and explore the photographs.

Today we are releasing 2 Samuel, and we are providing a large discount to our readers. For only $39, you get 2,900 photos that took us years to take, organize, and annotate. That price includes immediate download plus free shipping of the DVD in the US, or you can purchase the download option without the disc. In any case, your support is greatly appreciated, and our team’s earnest desire is that you will find this a uniquely valuable resource in your own study of David’s life and reign.

Todd Bolen
Photographer, BiblePlaces.com
Professor of Biblical Studies, The Master’s University

Available now as DVD+download or download-only.
$39 today with free shipping.

What Others Say...

“What a ‘fire hydrant’ flow of pertinent, revealing detail for interpreting 2 Samuel! This extravaganza adds repeated perspective and understanding–whether appreciating the sort of turf Abner & Co. would face traveling back to Mahanaim in ch. 2, or getting the ‘skinny’ on David’s conquest of Jerusalem in ch. 5, or simply visualizing the hiding places David may have used in ch. 17; at every turn one gains fresh appreciation and new insights into the text of 2 Samuel in this marvelous geographical-archaeological-cultural starter kit. There is a richness in the Photo Companion that commentaries often don’t or can’t supply.”

–Dale Ralph Davis, Former pastor of Woodland Presbyterian Church in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and professor of Old Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, and author of 2 Samuel: Out of Every Adversity

“The old saying, ‘a picture is worth a thousand words,’ is certainly true when studying the historical books of the Old Testament. The Photo Companion to the Bible is a ‘must-have’ research and teaching tool that greatly enhances our understanding of the Scriptures. With this tool, the Bible will ‘come alive’ in the classroom. This PowerPoint-based tool is user-friendly, with photos arranged by chapter and verse for quick reference and annotated by experts in the field of biblical history, geography, and archaeology. The wide assortment of photos includes high quality pictures of biblical sites, many of which are labeled to help with orientation, as well as pictures of artifacts and ancient Near Eastern artwork illustrating biblical culture and history. I highly recommend this fantastic tool!”

–Robert B. Chisholm, Jr., Chair and Senior Professor of Old Testament Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary, and author of 1 & 2 Samuel in the Teach the Text Commentary Series

The Photo Companion to the Bible

Old Testament (8 volumes): JoshuaJudgesRuth1 Samuel2 SamuelEstherPsalm 23, and Daniel

New Testament (8 volumes): MatthewMarkLukeJohnActsRomans1 Corinthians, and 2 Corinthians

COMPLETE SET (16 volumes): Purchased individually: $887;
Set Discount: $499; with coupon DAVID: $449

A Photo Every Day

Every weekday I choose an interesting photo from the biblical world and post it on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. Follow us to see our latest photos as well as some classics.

Featured BiblePlaces Photos:
2 Samuel

The featured photos this month come from the Photo Companion to 2 Samuel, a riveting narrative of the reign of King David. For more photos, download the 2 Samuel 2 PowerPoint (130 slides). These and more than 2,900 photos are included in the new 2 Samuel volume in the Photo Companion to the Bible.

2 Samuel 2: Civil War at the Pool of Gibeon

Though anointed by Samuel, David was not quickly hailed as king by all Israel when Saul died. Instead, a lengthy period of civil war ensued, during which time Saul’s son Ish-bosheth led the northern tribes in opposition to David. The most dramatic encounter between the two forces was at the “pool of Gibeon,” where twelve men from each side killed each other and resolved nothing. The ancient city of Gibeon features two major watersystems, the most impressive of which is this shaft hewn into the bedrock. Whether the pool is to be identified with this or something else, the pool was still a famous landmark 500 years later in the days of Jeremiah (Jer 41:12).

2 Samuel 5: David Captures Jerusalem

After Ish-bosheth’s death, all twelve tribes recognized David as king. His next move was to capture Jerusalem and make it his capital. To overcome the city required some ingenuity due to its strongly fortified nature, and the secret was the “tsinnor,” a Hebrew word which most likely means “water shaft.” Archaeologists have discovered a series of underground tunnels, including this one that could have provided David’s men access to the Jebusite stronghold. Known as “Warren’s Shaft,” these passageways led from inside the city walls down to the city’s water supply at the Gihon Spring. David’s conquest of Jerusalem changed the history of the world, for the city became home to the temple, the place of Jesus’s sacrifice, and the center of God’s coming kingdom.

2 Samuel 6: The Ark Comes to Jerusalem

One of David’s first moves after capturing Jerusalem was to transfer the ark of the covenant to his capital. For decades the ark had been separated from the tabernacle, kept in the home of Abinadab in Kiriath Jearim. This made it difficult for Israel to worship God as he required, and so David had the ark carried up to Jerusalem where it would await the construction of a permanent home in the temple. This photograph provides an aerial view of Jerusalem, with the ancient City of David visible as the narrow piece of land between the Central and Kidron Valleys.

2 Samuel 12: Uriah Falls in Battle

David served the Lord faithfully for many years, and he enjoyed great successes in fighting the Lord’s enemies. But when David stayed home from battle and took the wife of his soldier Uriah, his downfall began. To cover up his sin with the now-pregnant Bathsheba, David ordered that her husband be stationed close to the walls of the Ammonite capital of Rabbah so that he would be struck down. This photograph shows the likely location of Uriah’s death, near the northern wall where the city was most vulnerable and attack most likely. David’s plan succeeded in that Uriah was killed, but David’s sin would not be so easily concealed.

2 Samuel 13: Absalom Kills His Brother

David’s sexual sin was imitated by his son Amnon, and his sin of murder was copied by his son Absalom. Like his father, Absalom crafted a scheme to do away with his “enemy,” this one under the guise of the annual sheepshearing festival at Baal Hazor. This event was a time of great celebration, as the year’s profits were collected and distributed. Absalom took advantage of his brother’s distraction to have him murdered in cold blood. Then Absalom fled to Geshur, the area where his mother’s family lived.

2 Samuel 18: Absalom Pursues David

After a time in exile, Absalom returned to Jerusalem, but for no good. Before long, he raised a rebellion to replace his father David. Rather than fight against his son, David fled to the Transjordan. Absalom’s army gave chase, and a battle ensued in the forest of Ephraim. This rugged area was so treacherous that “the forest devoured more people that day than the sword devoured” (18:8). Absalom himself was first entangled by the forest and then killed by David’s men.

2 Samuel 20: Sheba’s Rebellion

Unfortunately, this was not the last rebellion David would face, for he had not even made it back to Jerusalem before Sheba sounded the trumpet and called the Israelites to follow him. Initially, the danger seemed even greater than Absalom’s revolt, but once Joab took charge, Sheba’s men made haste for the far northern city of Abel Beth-maacah. The entire endeavor came to a screeching halt when a wise woman counseled the townspeople to toss Sheba’s head over the wall. David’s kingdom was again spared division. This photograph shows wildflowers covering the site, and a portion of Mount Hermon is visible on the right.

2 Samuel 24: David Purchases Land for the Temple

The Lord did not allow David to build the temple, but the purchase of the property was made by the king in the last event recorded in 2 Samuel. In response to David’s foolish decision to count his military men, the Lord sent a plague on the land. But when David appealed to the Lord’s mercy, the afflicting angel stopped over the threshing floor of a Jebusite man. David then paid for the land so that he could build an altar to the Lord. Later his son Solomon would construct the temple at this site, establishing the site for all time as a place of divine mercy. This photograph shows Herod’s Temple Mount with the modern Dome of the Rock located on the summit where Solomon’s temple once stood. In the foreground, the Golden Gate and a Muslim cemetery are visible.

This week you can purchase the 2 Samuel volume at our launch price of $39, including immediate download and free shipping. Use coupon DAVID to receive the discount. This unique collection includes more than 2,900 PowerPoint slides illustrating the life and reign of David by chapter and verse. Purchase as a DVD+download or download-only.


Do you know someone who would enjoy this newsletter? Feel free to pass it on to friends you think might appreciate it. They can subscribe here

The BiblePlaces Newsletter is cost-free and spam-free. Email addresses will never be used for any purpose other than this newsletter. If you have questions about the subscription process, see this page.

All contents © 2021 Todd Bolen. Text and photographs may be used for personal and educational use with attribution. Commercial use requires written permission.