The history of David, his exploits and prophetical writings, are found in two books of the Old Testa- ment, Samuel and the Psalms. He was the youngest son of Yishai (Jessie) from the tribe of Judah. While still a young shepherd, he had killed a bear and torn into halves a lion. The valiant young man swung a small stone right through the forehead of Goliath, an armed Philistine champion and saved the army of Israel. The highest reward for a successful feat displaying valor was the hand of Michal, a daughter of King Saul. David played on a harp and flute, and was a good singer. His flight from his jealous father-in-law, his adventures and attributed exploits as a bandit, are well known in the Bible. On the death of Saul, David was invited by the people to assume the reins of the kingdom, for which he had long before been anointed by the Prophet Samuel. He reigned for some seven years at Hebron. He took Jerusalem from the Jebusites and made it the capital of his kingdom. Its two hills, or mounts, were named "Moriah" and "Sion." Both these words have the same signi- fication and import as the famous mounts of "Marwa" and "Sapha" in Mecca, which words respectively mean "the place of the vision of the Lord," and "the rock" or "stone." David's wars, his very grave family troubles, his sin against the faith- ful soldier, Uriah, and his wife, Bathsheba, was not left with impunity. He reigned forty years; his life was marked with wars and family griefs. In the Bible there are some contradictory accounts about him which are evidently to be ascribed to the two opposite sources.
The alleged crime of David claimed in the Bible in connection with Uriah and his wife (2 Sam. xi.) is not even alluded to in the Qur'an, rather the Qur'an refers to his excellent pious character and that he was one of the top ranking Messengers. It is one of the superiorities of the Holy Qur'an that it teaches us that all prophets are born sinless and die sinless. It does not, like the Bible, impute to them crimes and sins - e.g. the double crime of David, mentioned in the Bible, which, according to the Law of Moses, is punishable by death - which, let alone a prophet who is a chosen worshiper of God the Almighty, we would not even think of attaching to the name of an ordinary human being.
The story of David committing adultery and two angels having come to him thus to remind him of the sin is a puerile falsehood - wherever it may be found. It has been repudiat- ed by the best Muslim opinion. Razl says: "Most of the learned, and those who have searched for the truth among them, declare this charge false and condemn it as a lie and a mischievous story. The words istaghfora and ghafarna occurring in the text of verse 24, chap. 38 of the Holy Qur'an by no means indicate that David had committed a sin, for istighfar really signifies the seeking of protection; and David sought Divine protection when he saw that his enemies had grown so bold against him; and by ghafarana is meant the rectification of his affairs; for David, who was a great ruler, could not succeed in keeping his enemies under com- plete control.
The Old Testament does not mention the time when the gift of prophecy was granted to David. We read there that after David had committed the two sins it was Nathan the Prophet who was sent by God to chastise David. Indeed, until late in his life we find him always having recourse to other prophets. According to the Biblical accounts, there- fore, it would seem that the gift of prophecy came to him after he had thoroughly repented of his sin.
In one of the previous articles I remarked that after the split of the Kingdom into two independent States which were often at war with each other, the ten tribes which formed the Kingdom of Israel were always hostile to the dynasty of David and never accepted any other portion of the Old Testament except the Torah - or the Law of Moses as contained in the Pentateuch. This is evident from the Samaritan version of the first five books of the Old Testament. We do not meet with a single word or prophecy about David's posterity in the discourses of the great prophets, like Elijah, Elisha, and others, who flourished in Samariah during the reigns of the wicked kings of Israel. It is only after the fall of the King- dom of Israel and the transportation of the ten tribes into Assyria that the Prophets of Judeah began to predict the ad- vent of some Prince from the House of David who was soon to restore the whole nation and subdue its enemies. There are several of these obscure and ambiguous sayings in the writings or discourses of these later prophets which have given a rapturous and exotic exultation to the Fathers of the Church; but in reality they have nothing to do with Jesus Christ. I shall briefly quote two of these prophecies. The first is in Isaiah (Chap. vii., verse 14), where that Prophet predicts that "a damsel already pregnant with child shall bear forth a son, and thou shalt name him Emmanuel." The Hebrew word a'lmah does not mean "virgin," as generally interpreted by the Christian theologians and therefore applied to the Virgin Mary, but it signifies "a marriageable woman, maiden, damsel." The Hebrew word for "virgin" is bthulah. Then the child's name is to be Emmanuel, which means "God- is-with-us." There are hundreds of Hebrew names which are composed of "el" and another noun, which forms either the first or the last syllable of such compound nouns. Neither Isaiah, nor King Ahaz, nor any Jew, ever thought that the newly born infant would be himself "God-with-us." They never thought anything else but that his name only would be as such. But the text expressly says that it was Ahaz (who seems to have known the maiden with child), that would give the boy that name. Ahaz was in danger, his enemies were pressing hard against Jerusalem, and this pro- mise was made to him by showing him a sign, namely, a pregnant maiden, and not a Virgin Mary, that would come into the world more than seven hundred years later! This simple prediction of a child that would be born during the reign of Ahaz was equally misunderstood by the writer of the Gospel of Matthew (Matt. i. 23). The name "Jesus" was given by the Angel Gabriel (Matt. i. 21), and he was never called "Emmanuel." Is it not scandalous to take this name as an argument and proof of the Christian doctrine of the "Incarnation"?
The other strange interpretation of a prophetic predic- tion is from Zachariah (ix. 9), which is misquoted and utterly misunderstood by the writer of the first Gospel (xxi. 5). The Prophet Zachariah says: "Rejoice much, O daughter of Sion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King is coming unto thee; righteous and with salvation is he; meek and mounted upon an ass; and upon a colt, son of a she-ass."
In this poetical passage the poet simply wishes to describe the male ass - upon which the King is seated - by saying that it was a young ass, and this colt, too, is described as the son of a female ass. It was only one male colt or young donkey. Now Matthew quotes this passage in the following way: - "Tell the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King is coming unto thee; Meek, and mounted on a female ass, And on a colt, the son of a female ass."
Whether or not the person who wrote the above verse did really believe that Jesus, when making his triumphal entry into Jerusalem by mounting or sitting at the same time both upon the mother ass and her young colt, worked a miracle is not the question; nevertheless it is true to say that the majority of the Christian Fathers so believed; and it never occurred to them that such a show would look rather a comedy than a royal and pompous procession. Luke, how- ever, is careful, and has not fallen into Matthew's mistake. Were these authors both inspired by the same Spirit?
Zachariah foretells in Jerusalem, after the return of the Jews from captivity, the coming of a king. Though meek and humble, mounted upon a colt of an ass, still he is coming with salvation and would rebuild the house of God. He pro- phesies this at a time when the Jews are endeavoring to rebuild the Temple and the ruined town; their neighboring peoples are against them; the work of building is stopped until Darius, King of Persia, issues a firman for the cons- truction. Although no Jewish king had ever appeared since the sixth century before Christ, nevertheless they had had autonomous governments under foreign sovereigns. The sal- vation here promised, be it noted, is material and immediate, and not a salvation to come five hundred and twenty years afterwards, when Jesus of Nazareth would ride upon two asses simultaneously and enter into Jerusalem, already a large and wealthy city with a magnificent temple, simply to be captured and crucified by the Jews themselves and by their Roman masters, as the present Gospels tell us! This would be no solace at all for the poor Jews surrounded with enemies in a ruined city. Consequently, by the word "king" we may understand one of their chief leaders - Zerobabel, Ezra, or Nehemiah.
These two examples are intended to show chiefly to my Muslim readers - who may not be well acquainted with the Jewish Scriptures - how the Christians have been misguided by their priests and monks in giving stupid interpretations and meanings to the prophecies contained therein.
Now I come to David's prophecy: - "YahwaH said to my ADON, Sit at my right until I place Thine enemies a footstool under thy feet."
This verse of David is written in Psalm cxi, and quoted by Matthew (xxii. 44), Mark (xii. 36), and Luke (xx 42). In all languages the two names contained in the first unstitch are rendered as "The Lord said unto my Lord." Of course, if the first Lord is God, the second Lord is also God; nothing more convenient to and suitable an argument for a Christian priest or pastor than this, namely, the speaker is God, and also the spoken to is God; therefore David knows two Gods! Nothing more logical than this reasoning! Which of these two Domini is "the Lord" of David? Had David written, "Dominus meus dixit Domino meo," he would have made himself ridiculous, for then he would have admitted himself to be a slave or worshiper of two Lords, without even men- tioning their proper names. The admission would go even farther than the existence of two Lords; it would mean that David's second Lord had taken refuge with his first Lord, who ordered him to take a seat on his right side until he should put his enemies a footstool under his feet. This reasoning leads us to admit that, in order to understand well your religion, you are obliged to know your Bible or Qur'an in the original language in which it was written, and not to depend and rely upon a translation.
I have purposely written the original Hebrew words YaHWaH and Adon, in order to avoid any ambiguity and misunderstanding in the sense conveyed by them. Such sacred names written in religious Scripture should be left as they are, unless you can find a thoroughly equivalent word for them in the language into which you wish to translate them. The tetragram Yhwh used to be pronounced Yehovah (Jehovah), but now it is generally pronounced Yahwah. It is a proper name of God the Almighty, and it is held so holy by the Jews that when reading their Scriptures they never pronounce it, but read it "Adon" instead. The other name, "Elohim," is always pronounced, but Yahwah never. Why the Jews make this distinction between these two names of the same God is a question for itself, altogether outside the scope of our present subject. It may, however, in passing, be mentioned that Yahwah, unlike Elohim, is never used with pronominal suffixes, and seems to be a special name in Hebrew for the Deity as the national God of the people of Israel. In fact, "Elohim" is the oldest name known to all Semites; and in order to give a special character to the con- ception of the true God, this tetragram is often conjointly with Elohim applied to Him. The Arabic form, Rabb Allah, corresponds to the Hebrew form, Yahwah Elohim.
The other word, "Adon," signifies a "Commander, Lord, and master," or the same as the Arabic and Turkish nouns Amir, Sayyid, and Agha. Adon stands as the opposite term of "soldier, slave, and property." Consequently the first part of the distich is to be rendered as "God said to my Lord."
David, in his capacity of a monarch, was himself the Lord and Commander of every Israelite and the Master of the Kingdom. Whose "servant" was he, then? David, being a powerful sovereign, could not be, as a matter of fact, a slave or worshiper of any living human being whatsoever. Nor is it imaginable that he would call "his Lord" any dead prophet or saint, such as Abraham or Jacob, for whom the usual and reasonable term was "Father." It is equally con- ceivable that David would not use the appellation "my Lord" for any of his own descendants, for whom, too, the usual term would be "son." There remains, besides God, no other conceivable being who could be David's Lord, except the noblest and the highest man of the race of mankind. It is quite intelligible to think that in the sight and choice of God there must be a man who is the noblest, the most praised, and the most coveted of all men. Surely the Seers and the Prophets of old knew this holy personage and, like David, called him "my Lord."
Of course, the Jewish Rabbins and commentators of the Old Testament understood by this expression the Messiah, who would descend from David himself, and so replied they to the question put to them by Jesus Christ as quoted above from Matthew (xxii.), and the other Synoptic. Jesus flatly repudiated the Jews when he asked them a second question: "How could David call him 'my Lord' if he were his son?" This question of the Master put the audience to silence, for they could find no answer to it. The Evangelists abruptly cut short this important subject of discussion. To stop there without a further explanation was not worthy either of the Master or of his reporters. For, leaving the question of his god-head, and even of his prophetical character, aside, Jesus as a teacher was obliged to solve the problem raised by him- self when he saw that the disciples and the hearers were unable to know who then that "Lord," could be!
By his expression that the "Lord," or the "Adon," could not be a son of David, Jesus excludes himself from that title. This admission is decisive and should awaken the religious teachers of the Christians to reduce Christ to his due status of a high and holy worshiper of God, and to renounce the extravagant divine character ascribed to him much to his own disgust and displeasure.
I cannot imagine a teacher who, seeing his pupils unable to answer his question, should keep silent, unless he is him- self ignorant like them and unable to give a solution to it. But Jesus was not either ignorant or a malevolent teacher. He was a prophet with a burning love to God and man. He did not leave the problem unsolved or the question with- out an answer. The Gospels of the Churches do not report the answer of Jesus to the question: "Who was the Lord of David?" But the Gospel of Barnabas does. This Gospel has been rejected by Churches because its language is more in accordance with the revealed Scriptures and because it is very expressive and explicit about the nature of Jesus Christ's mission, and above all because it records the exact words of Prophet Jesus concerning Prophet Muhammad. A copy of this Gospel can easily be procured. There you will find the answer of Jesus himself, who said that the Covenant between God and Prophet Abraham was made on Ishmael, and that "the most glorious or praised" of men is a descendant of Prophet Ishmael and not of Prophet Isaac through Prophet David. Prophet Jesus repeatedly is reported to have spoken of Prophet Muhammad, whose spirit or soul he had seen in heaven.
I shall have, if God wills, an occasion to write on this Gospel later.
There is no doubt that the prophetical eye of Daniel that saw in a wonderful vision the great Barnasha, who was Prophet Muhammad, was also the same prophetical eye fo David. It was this most glorious and praised of men that was seen by the Prophet Job (xix 25) as a "Savior" from the power of the Devil.
Was it, then, Prophet Muhammad who Prophet David calls "my Lord" or my Adon"? Let us see.
The arguments in favor of Prophet Muhammad, who is styled "Sayyidu 'l-Mursalin." the same as "Adon of the Prophets," are decisive; they are so evident and explicit in the words of the Old Testament that one is astonished at the ignorance and the obstinacy of those who refuse to understand and obey.
1. The greatest Prophet and Adon,in the Eyes of God, and man, is not a great conqueror and destroyer of mankind, nor a holy recluse who spends his life in a cave or cell to meditate upon God only to save himself, but one who renders more good and service to mankind by bringing them into the light of knowledge of the One True God,and by utterly destroying the power of the devil and his abominable idols and wicked institutions. It was Prophet Muhammad who "bruised the head of the serpent," and that is why the Qur'an rightly calls the devil, iblis, namely the bruised one"!! He purged the Temple of the Ka'aba and all Arabia of the idols, and gave light, religion, happiness, and power to the ignorant Arab idolaters, who in a short time spread that light into the four directions of the earth. In the service of God, the works and the success of Prophet Muhammad are incomparable and unrivalled.
The Prophets, Saints, and Martyrs form the army of God against the Power of the Devil; and Prophet Muhammad alone is decidedly the Commander-in-Chief of them all. He is indeed, alone the Adon and Lord not only of David but of all the Prophets, for he has purified Palestine and the countries visited by Abraham of idolatry.
2. Since Jesus Christ admits that he himself was not the "Lord" of David nor that the Messiah was to descend from David, there remains none other than Prophet Muhammad among the Prophets to be the Adon or Lord of David. And when we come to compare the praiseworthy religious revolution that the Nobel Son of Ishmael brought about in the world, with what all the thousands of prophets put together have achieved, we have to come to the conclusion that it is alone Prophet Muhammad who deserves the meritorious title of Adon.
3. How did David know that "Wahwah said to Adon, 'Sit thou at my right until I put thine enemies a footstool under they feet'?" and when did David hear this word of God? Christ himself gives the answer, namely "David in spirit wrote this." He saw the Adon Muhammad just as Daniel had seen him (Dan. vii), and Paul had seen him (2 Cor. xii) and many others had. Of course, this mystery of "Sit thou at my right" is hidden from us. Yet we may safely conjecture that this official investiture with the honor of seating himself at the right of the Throne of God, and therefore raised to the dignity of the "Adon." not only of the Prophets but of all the Creatures, took place on the famous night of his Mi'raj to Paradise.
4. The only principle objection to Prophet Muhammad's Divine mission and superiority is his condemnation of the trinity. But the Old Testament knows no other God besides Allah, and the Lord of David did not sit at the right hand of a triple god, but at that of the One Allah. Hence among the Prophets who believed in and worshiped Allah none was so great, and accomplished such a stupendous service for Allah and mankind, as Prophet Muhammad, upon whom be peace and blessings.