In what is probably the most massively detailed, impressively researched, and exuberantly narrated popular Biblical since the works of Sholem Asch, Martin recreates the life and darkly bloody times of David--who as warrior and king united the Hebrew tribes into a national state in the 10th century B.C. Martin, a Biblical scholar, strums through the arcane names of places and people--jawbreakers which have routed generations of lay readers--with avuncular, knowing ease, pausing to chat about geography, politics, and peoples along the way. And readers who haven't dipped into Samuel, Kings, or Chronicles lately will find that David's is a story of almost constant warfare, always followed by sweet re, venge--accomplished in various Cuisinart methods of execution or symbolic desecrations (e.g., a pouch containing 2,000 Philistine foreskins). Throughout, Martin gallops along with the grand old stories, avoiding all the pitfalls of lesser Biblical fiction. He never attempts to ""explain"" the miracles or analyze the turnabouts in alliances or loyalties in contemporary terms. (For example, Saul's persecution of the heroic post-Goliath David was simply as the Good Book says: the result of fear and jealousy.) There are marvelous adventures: the spiriting of Philistine iron from Jebus through a water shaft when David was a youth; his killing of (simultaneously) a lion, a bear, and a jackal; Spring Games in the land of the Philistines; a battle in which acrobats are used to scale the walls. The miracles are arresting--from the earth's upheaval at the birth of David to the destruction of Gaza (done in fine DeMille tumult) to the terrible apparitions at Endor. Informal asides explore alien myths and religions: the wonderful ancestors of Goliath with twelve fingers and toes; the images of such gods as the Philistine deity Dagon. And David himself remains sympathetic, often in despair at losing contact with. or faith in, Adonai: ""All Adonai wants from me is to kill, kill, kill."" An accessible, informative, generally non-critical reconstruction of the Bible stories, with plenty of zip and memorable smitings.