In Bethlehem, in the territory of Judah, there once lived a noble and respected Jew, whose name was Jesse. He had eight clever, talented sons, the youngest of whom was David. David was a very modest youth, and he looked after his father's flocks.

In his heart burned an ardent love of G‑d and of His people, which he expressed in the Psalms and in playing on the lyre.

David also felt a deep love for his lambs and for every living creature. Whenever he brought out his flocks to pasture, he first led the young lambs to graze among the fresh, tender young grasses, for they had not yet any teeth. When the young lambs had nibbled the delicate tips, David then led the oldest sheep and cows, whose teeth were old and weak, to graze there. This was done so that the older sheep and cows would eat the middle part of the stalks which were soft enough for them. Last of all, David would bring the grown sheep and cattle, whose strong teeth could chew the lowest part of the grass nearest to the roots.

David had great physical courage and was not afraid of wild animals. Indeed, he feared nothing and no one, except for G‑d alone. Whenever a lion or bear attacked his flocks or herds and wished to seize a sheep or a cow, David would rush at the savage beast and chase it away just to rescue its prey.

G‑d, therefore, said: "One who can so faithfully tend to his animals, each according to its personal needs, I can safely entrust him with the care of My holy lambs - My people."


The prophet Samuel was greatly distressed that King Saul had disappointed his hopes in the war against Amalek and had, as a result, shown himself unworthy of his crown. Thus G‑d said to Samuel: "Put an end to your tears! Go to Bethlehem and anoint one of Jesse's sons as the future king. The Hebrew kingdom will remain with him and his children and children's children forever, for he is truly fitted for it."

The prophet Samuel arrived at Bethlehem and informed Jesse of G‑d's command. Jesse had his sons brought before the prophet one at a time. Samuel wished to anoint the eldest son, who was handsome and clever and had a noble character. However, G‑d said to him: "This is not the one!" He therefore wished to anoint the second son, but the anointing oil vanished from the anointing horn, so the Prophet Samuel understood that this son as well, was not to be the future king. And so it happened with each son in turn. Samuel found himself in great difficulties. He understood that G‑d was punishing him for having exclaimed once: "I am the 'seer' (prophet)" and now he was unable to 'see' who was to be the future king.

"Have you another son?" the prophet Samuel asked Jesse.

"Yes," replied Jesse, "my youngest son, David, is in the field, looking after my flocks..."

Samuel asked that David be immediately brought before him. As soon as David stood before the prophet, the oil rose in the horn. Samuel then heard the voice of G‑d, declaring: "This is the one I have chosen." Thereupon the prophet anointed David as the king who was to succeed Saul. With his task completed, Samuel returned home.

What effect did this have on David? Did he become proud? Did he dress himself in royal robes? Not at all! He went back to his sheep. However, a heavenly spirit surrounded him. His prayers, his Psalms and his music, full of this Divine spirit, travelled and spread across the hills of Judah. Whoever heard them, felt as if a new soul had awakened in him. The sad person was filled with joy; the downcast felt his heart revive; he who had lost hope regained his faith and all exclaimed: "Listen! It is David, the son of Jesse, who is singing!"

When King Saul fell into a mood of despair, he was told that there was a wonderful youth, whose playing on the harp and whose singing, drove away all evil spirits. From then on, David used to play and sing before King Saul, calming and comforting him.

Even many years later, when King David had ascended the throne, he always kept his harp beside him. Every night at the strike of midnight, a slight breeze used to pluck at the strings, and King David would awaken from his sleep, rise from his couch and compose sweet, sacred songs in praise of G‑d, known to us as the Psalms of David .


King David's realm grew in size. His fame spread to the neighboring nations. He set himself to the task of establishing peace, and the kings around wished to make peace treaties with him. To the north-west of Israel lay the kingdom of Tyre, famous for its craftsmen, the ruler of which was Hiram. Hiram, king of Tyre, sent his best builders and artists to erect a splendid palace for King David and to build beautiful mansions in David's new capital of Jerusalem.

King David should have been contented, but he was disturbed by the thought, that, while his palace and his capital city were now built with great splendor, the holy Ark of G‑d still lodged in a tent, screened only by curtains.

David knew that Jerusalem was to be the center which was to unite Jews from everywhere with the idea of one G‑d, one Torah and one People. David, therefore, was determined to build the Temple, the Beth Hamikdosh.

However, the Prophet Nathan was sent to him by G‑d, and said: "Your good intention comes from a pure heart. Nevertheless, the task of building a Sanctuary for G‑d is not to be given to you. The Sanctuary is to be the place of peace. You fought many battles. Your hands have had to shed blood in these wars, the blood of wicked men, it is true, but still human blood. Therefore you cannot build G‑d's Sanctuary of peace. This holy duty will be carried out by your son, Solomon, whose reign will be one of peace (the name, Solomon, Shlomo, having its origin in the Hebrew word for peace, Shalom). He will put into practice this good intention of yours."

Naturally, King David had to accept G‑d's prophecy, as spoken by the mouth of the prophet Nathan, although he deeply regretted that his eyes would never see the House of G‑d in all its magnificence. But he rejoiced that his son would be considered worthy of the great honor of building the Beth Hamikdosh.

In spite of the knowledge that he himself was not to have a hand in this sacred work, David began to collect the materials needed for the building as well as money to pay for it. All the treasures he had assembled during his reign - gold, silver, copper, precious stones and wood-he had placed in the care of a man called Shabuel, a direct descendant of Moshe Rabbenu, who was appointed to take charge of this treasury.

Not only were the building materials prepared by King David, but he also arranged, with the help of the Sanhedrin, who were inspired by the Divine spirit, the order of the service for the Kohanim and the Levites. Thus King Solomon later had before him a complete plan in addition to the materials necessary for the building of the Beth Hamikdosh.