The Pigeon’s Cry of David

Episode two of Kings, “Prosperity,” while not directly related to any specific biblical story I can discern, is in many ways more powerful than the pilot. It’s all about signs, and how we can discern God’s will. In addition to its Bible-based characters, the show makes up its cast with a number of archetypal supporting characters.

There is the Shakespearian archetype of the bumbling, comedy relief guards. In the episode, the palace has become infested by pigeons: an omen/plague on the doomed house of Silas. The guards in this episode go through a comic series of attempts to get rid of the pigeons, resulting in a key providential move in the climax.

There is also the soap opera archetype of the powerful siblings: in this case, Silas’s wife, and her brother in law (who is the arms dealer who finances Silas’ administration). While Saul had a wife, she certainly wasn’t the figure this woman is, and the brother/arms dealer is totally out of the writers’ imaginations.

But the writers have inserted another plot element that’s not from the Bible, as far as I can tell. I read a rabbinical biography of Michal, and while it includes much from the midrashes, it doesn’t mention this detail.

In the show, Silas, trying to find a way to keep David and Michelle apart, reminds Michelle of a vow she took, which he witnessed, suggesting that she probably hasn’t told David of it, and that–if she doesn’t, he will. Next time they see each other, she avoids David, and he thinks she’s no longer interested in him.

What vow is that?

According to Numbers 30:4-9, if a woman makes a vow before marriage, her father has to witness it and approve it. Her husband has to speak up right away in order for the vow to remain valid after marriage (although both father and husband have the right to annul the vow the first time around). Now, the passage regarding women only refers to a vow, implies that women’s pledges are “rash,” and has been traditionally used to deny women’s rights in Western tradition.

However, verse 30:3 refers specifically to a man taking a vow of abstinence, so there is reason to think that the subsequent verses apply to women’s vows of abstinence, as well. Some Catholic apologists use this as legal precedent for vows of virginity–and continent marriages–in the Jewish tradition prior to the Holy Family.

It would be interesting if that is the vow implied in the conversation between Silas and Michelle.

Anyway, to the title of the post. The episode contains a bit of an oblique (and surely completely unintentional) reference to St. Patrick. The Lorica is also known as the “deer’s cry,” because St. Patrick composed the prayer when he became aware of an assassination plot against him. He was saying the prayer just as the assassin was aiming his arrow. A deer jumped out of the woods and got in the way of the arrow.

Well, in the show, there’s a scene where a pigeon takes the role of the deer. Again, that is so obscure and coincidental that I’m sure the writers had no clue, but it works for me. 🙂

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