With Of Kings and Prophets set to premiere just two months from now, the ABC network is stepping up its publicity campaign. In the last two weeks they have released a 15-second teaser, several new photos, and a press release that explains how the battles depicted in this series are “an origin story” for the conflicts that currently bedevil the Middle East. You can check all those things out below the jump.
It’s interesting that the teaser focuses almost exclusively on David (and his status as a “Warrior”, “Lover” and “Legend”). The earlier trailer for the now-discarded original pilot episode put the primary emphasis on King Saul’s family — and I still expect the actual series to do that, too. That just isn’t how they’re selling the series, yet.
Also, David seems hairier, or not as clean-cut as he did in the earlier trailer.
And, is this the new Goliath? (And, if so, why is he walking in a forest?):
Here is what Goliath looked like in the earlier trailer:
The network has also issued a press release offering an “historical introduction” to the series that situates the story of Saul and David within its larger biblical context but also ties it to the Middle Eastern conflicts of today:
“Of Kings and Prophets” puts a face to the historical figures and a beating heart to the story of ancient Israel, as it explores some of the major players and events from the Old Testament.
We follow David, the greatest king Israel has ever known. The story of his rise from humble shepherd to great warrior king contrasts with King Saul’s fall from power, and his loss of grace with God.
But to understand the epic scope of their tale, we must go to a time before Saul and David – before the land we know as Israel and its people – to the time of Abraham and Moses.
Israel Before David
Abraham was known as the first Hebrew, the first person to whom God spoke. God made a covenant with Abraham, promising to turn his descendants into a great nation. Centuries later, God promised to bring these descendants into the “Promised Land” through a covenant with Moses. This Promised Land (the land of Canaan) would soon become known as Israel.
Divided into twelve tribes, God guided Moses to lead the Hebrews out of enslavement by the Egyptian Pharoah, and to wander through the desert for forty years. When they finally entered the Promised Land, each tribe was allotted an individual region as their own.
The “Twelve Tribes” of Israel are named after the twelve descendants of Jacob (himself the grandson of Abraham).
But the tribes’ settlement in the “Land of Milk and Honey” was not all peaceful. A neighboring military force threatened their very existence: The Philistines. The book Samuel I in the Old Testament tells the story of what happened next.
Historical Context of Samuel 1 – Saul and David
Fearing the Philistines, the tribes of Israel turned to the Prophet Samuel with a request: that he establish a monarchy and a ruler to unite them. So under God’s command, Samuel anointed a young farmer as Israel’s first king, Saul.
Saul was given the task of uniting the twelve tribes and protecting the people. In doing so, Saul found himself in a unique and difficult position: governing his people while following the commands of God (as relayed by Samuel).
Balancing the practical demands of kingship with the demands of “godliness” often presented moral and philosophical contradictions to Saul. What does a ruler do when the demands of the Lord clash with the needs of a nation?God would soon name another in Saul’s place: David. “Of Kings and Prophets” focuses on the complicated relationship between David and Saul. The king and the would-be King.
David has been called many things – a humble shepherd, a warrior, a liar, the slayer of Goliath, a wicked usurper, God’s chosen. David is all of that and more, which is why his name and tale lives on in history to this day. In fact, King David is even said to have a direct lineage to Jesus Christ.
Philistine and Israelite Conflict in History
Many scholars believe the Philistines were placed in the Canaanite region by the Egyptians. At any rate, they were generations ahead of the Israelites and had already discovered the means of forging superior, iron weaponry. They proved a true threat to Israel’s future.
Israelites claimed a religious ownership over the Land of Canaan (Israel), based on the covenant Abraham made with God. It was their “Promised Land.” But the Philistines made their own claim to the land for reasons having to do more with survival: they had nowhere else to go. Moreover, they wanted control of their land for its fertile climates, and to control desirable trade hub.
The battles over Israeli territories in “Of Kings & Prophets” are an origin story for similar conflicts that continue to this day.
Finally, here are some new photos released by the network.
Here are a couple pictures of David (Olly Rix):
Here is David with his nephew Joab (David Walmsley):
And here is David with King Saul (Ray Winstone):
Speaking of whom, here is King Saul in the heat of battle …
… and with his sons Ish-Bosheth (James Floyd) and Jonathan (Haaz Sleiman) …
… and with his wife Ahinoam (Simone Kessell) …
… and with the prophet Samuel (Mohammad Bakri):
Finally, here is a picture of Saul’s daughters Merav (Jeanine Mason) and Michal (Maisie Richardson-Sellers). Merav, you may recall, was offered to David at one point as a reward for killing Goliath, but it was Michal who actually married David:
The series premieres March 8 and will air on Tuesday nights at 10pm.