Did David marry the wife of King Saul? And other questions raised by the pilot episode for Of Kings and Prophets

Did David marry the wife of King Saul? And other questions raised by the pilot episode for Of Kings and Prophets May 2, 2015


It’s a wrap for Of Kings and Prophets!

The pilot for the proposed series about Saul, David and Samuel finished shooting in South Africa a couple days ago, so now seemed like a good time to round up the last batch of Instagrams posted by the show’s cast and crew. A few new details have leaked regarding the angle the script takes on its biblical source material, too.

First, Season Zero posted a review of the script and said the pilot is clearly aiming for a Game of Thrones vibe — partly by enhancing the role of the female characters:

Game of Thrones is a soap opera in its bones. The Bible is too, in a way. Kings and Prophets even more. It’s about lies, treasons, revenge… Death is everywhere all the time. Love is in the air too, but sex is a weapon, for women but not only. There is a feminist vibe thanks to the character of Ahinoam mostly, the first Queen of Israel but also the real King of Israel when you take a closer look at her doings. And her daughters, at least one of them, could follow her steps. . . .

The three main characters are men, obvisouly. Saul (Ray Winstone) is the unworthy old King of Israel who will, sooner or later, die in atrocious conditions. He’s on the edge of madness, he even threatens to kill his son Jonathan who he considers as a traitor. His fall from grace happens because he refuses a genocide God has ordered… Or is it Samuel? Samuel (Mohammad Bakri) is the narrator of the show -and his voiceover is heavily present in the first and the last act, which is necessary to properly understand what happened before we arrive and as you can imagine, a lot happened. He’s the prophet, but above all a giant liar with an hidden agenda. Finally, there’s David (Oliver Rix), the young innocent and handsome shepherd, who will become the Queen’s new beau. We like him very much for obvious reasons, but also because he offers the best scene of the script: a big fight with a lion he defeats beautifully! If done properly, it could be a very impressive moment of television. . . .

I’m not sure what to make of the idea that David is the Queen’s new beau. In the Bible, Saul offers him his older daughter Merab — possibly as a trophy for killing Goliath — and David turns her down, saying he is too poor to marry a princess. But then Saul’s younger daughter Michal falls in love with David, so David marries her instead.

I suppose it’s not impossible that David had something going on with Saul’s wife too. In fact, according to Wikipedia, biblical scholar Jon Levenson has argued that Saul’s wife Ahinoam was identical to a wife of David’s known as “Ahinoam of Jezreel”.

Oh well, as ever, we will just have to wait to see how this all plays out.

Oh, and note the reference to Samuel being “a giant liar” with a “hidden agenda”.

I have no idea what the “lie” in question is supposed to be, but suffice it to say that I’m not surprised a modern take on this story might take a dim view of the prophet who ordered Saul to commit an act of genocide (and ostensibly because of something the ancestors of those people had done a few centuries earlier).

It’s one of the tougher bits in the Bible, but it’s also an essential part of the narrative — Saul’s refusal to be as thorough with the genocide as Samuel wanted is why Samuel anoints David king in Saul’s place — so it’s not like the series can avoid it.

And once you put the fact of genocide up there on the screen… well, there are only so many ways a show aimed at a broad secular audience can deal with that subject.

Meanwhile, the Italian website House of Telefilm has an “official synopsis” for the pilot which seems to confirm some sort of “thing” between David and Ahinoam. Here is what it says on that subject, as translated by Google:

Meanwhile, the shepherd David is upset that a lion wanders in the desert has decimated his flock. Because of this, he can not achieve the tenth month of her family that has the wife of King Saul, the queen Ahinoam. The queen, however, is willing to trade with this fine [shepherd]. After all, her husband has never been faithful to her, going with other women and having other children.

Second, the pilot’s IMDb page lists two new cast members:

Finally, the Instagram pictures.

Let’s start with this one from Elodie Yung (Saul’s concubine Rizpah), which indicates that the show’s title might be just a little shorter than we’ve been led to believe:

Script and gribouillages #ofkingsandprophets #kingsandprophets #rizpah #elodieyung

A photo posted by Elodie Yung (@elodie_yung) on

Here are a couple pictures of the actors hanging out on the set:

Oh the glamour of it all #KingsandProphets #RayWinston #MyHusband #MySons #JamesFloyd #HazzSleiman #NightShootInTheRain

A photo posted by Simone Kessell (@simonekessell) on

Here is a less-cropped version of an image that I posted seven days ago:

And finally, here are the actors hanging out off the set:

Kings and Prophets meets seafood extravaganza @simonekessell @elodie_yung #RayWinstone #JamesFloyd #KingsandProphets

A photo posted by Maisie Richardson-Sellers (@maisiersellers) on

I posted earlier Instagrams from the pilot episode’s set here, here and here.

May 16 update: Alex McGregor, who plays Saul’s older daughter Merav, just posted this picture of her and Maisie Richardson-Sellers, who plays her sister Michal:

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