David The second king of Israel; the most important figure for ancient Israel besides Moses. United the tribes of Israel into one nation. An unbelievably rich life related more completely than any other in the Old Testament. Highlights include: slingshotting the scary Philistine giant Goliath unto his crashing death; becoming really, really close friends with King Saul's son, Jonathon; living for awhile as Robin Hood of the desert; twice choosing not to kill the first king of Israel, Saul, even though Saul kept trying to kill him; becoming king of Israel; capturing and making Jerusalem the capital of his new empire; creating a massive harem by claiming as his own wives from conquered groups across his kingdom; impregnating the married Bathsheeba (!), and then sending her husband into war so he'd be killed (!!); being nearly overthrown by his son Absalom (famous quote: "O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you!"); naming as his successor Solomon, his second son with Bathsheba. So, you know: kept pretty busy. Jesus' lineage traces back directly to David; he is often called "Jesus, son of David." Indeed David, the great king-priest-prophet, is traditionally understood as a foreshadowing of Christ. He is credited with writing much of the Bible's Book of Psalms. Impossible to come up with one particularly famous quote (what with him having written the messianic psalms, and all), but a definite biggy is something he cried as he was lamenting the deaths of Jonathon and Saul: "How the mighty have fallen!"
Solomon Third king of Israel. Oversaw Israel's greatest period of wealth and power. Famous for being rich (owned, for instance, 12,000 horses and 1,400 chariots: "rich as Solomon" is no hollow epithet), powerful (his kingdom extended from the Euphrates River in the north to Egypt in the south), devout (he built the over-the-top opulent Holy Temple in Jerusalem), and wise (he wrote the Bible's Song of Songs, Book of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes). Ruled Israel for forty years. His weakness for foreign women and the gods they worshiped, combined with his mind-boggling, tax-sucking extravagances, set the stage for Israel's downfall under the rule of his son, Rehoboam. (Quick: say "Rehoboam" three times. Or once, even.)
Esther Orphaned Jewish girl living in ancient Persia. So
beautiful, charming and smart she ends up queen of Persia. Through sheer
strength of character thwarts the plan of the king's evil prime
minister to massacre all Jews in the Persian Empire. Evil prime minister
hung hanged strung up
till dead. Famous quote: "How can I bear to see disaster fall on my
people? How can I bear to see the destruction of my family?" She
couldn't; she didn't. Right on.
Job Becomes hapless subject of wager between Satan (booooooo!) and God (yay!) about human faithfulness to God. As a result his body is covered with painful boils; his children are all killed; his house and fortune are destroyed. Throughout his profound travails he refuses to curse (though certainly not question) God. In the end, having remained loyal to God, God shows his appreciation in a very big way. One of the greatest narratives in world literature. One of Job's many famous quotes: "Man born of woman is of few days, and full of trouble. He springs up like a flower and withers away; like a fleeting shadow, he does not endure." Sublimely awesome, no?
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