Notes and Ideas based on my reading of
Undesigned Coincidences in the Writings of Both the New and the Old Testaments, An Argument of Their Veracity by John James Blunt
(published by Robert Carter & Brothers, New York, 1851)
Today’s Question: Why did David move his parents to Moab for safety when he was running from Saul? And then, why did David destroy Moab?
Jewish tradition claims that moving his parent was a mistake, and that David’s parents were eventually killed in Moab, which would explain why David aggressively destroyed Moab after his reign over all of Israel was established.
Israel at this time was not friends with her neighbors, so David had to choose the lesser of a few evils.
The Philistines were out, since David was the one who slew their champion, Goliath, although David does hide in Philistine territory at one time, in the city of Gath, where Goliath is from. Likely he does this because it is the last place Saul would expect him to be, and he ends up pretending to be ‘mad’ (mentally unstable) to avoid being killed by the local ruler.
Moab on the other hand, is the home of David’s great grandmother, his father’s grandmother, Ruth. It is likely over time that the relatives visited and that there was good will between the families. Additionally, Orpa, Ruth’s sister-in-law, parted with Ruth and Naomi on good terms and her descendents would also know of this family. Further, like Naomi and her husband, many Jewish people left Bethlehem during the famine and traveled to Moab. Not all would have returned after having established lives there, so there was likely a Jewish community in Moab. So why would Moab kill David’s family? (If it did occur, which seems likely since David would not easily attack the place where his family was living, especially if they had provided well for them.) This was a time when ‘the kings went to battle’ every spring. Having a large family group, with military men in it (remember, David’s brothers were part of Saul’s army), who were related to a foreign king (remember, David was married to Saul’s daughter and was prophesied to be the next king) meant that they could be plotting, with the rest of the displaced Jewish population living there, to take over the kingdom. A paranoid king, which many were for good reason, could not let this happen.
It is extremely likely therefore, that tradition is correct and David’s parents (and possibly his brothers as well) were killed in Moab and that David’s rage against the Moabites now makes sense.