|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
8:15-18 David neither did wrong, nor denied or delayed right to any. This speaks his close application to business; also his readiness to admit all addresses and appeals made to him. He had no respect of persons in judgment. Herein he was a type of Christ. To Him let us submit, his friendship let us seek, his service let us count our pleasure, diligently attending to the work he assigns to each of us. David made his sons chief rulers; but all believers, Christ's spiritual seed, are better preferred, for they are made kings and priests to our God, Re 1:6.
Verse 18. - The Cherethites and the Pelethites. As we have already seen (1 Samuel 30:14), the Cherethim were an insignificant tribe inhabiting the southern part of the country of the Philistines. Nor is that place the only proof of this fact; for they are connected with the Philistines also in Ezekiel 25:16 and Zephaniah 2:5. David made their acquaintance when at Ziklag; and probably the Pelethim dwelt in the same neighbourhood, and were a still more unimportant clan or family. Much ingenuity has been expended in finding for their names a Hebrew derivation, and Gesenius explains them as meaning "cutters and runners," though for the latter signification he has to go to the Arabic, where he finds a verb falata, "to run away," "flee." But this craze of explaining the names of aboriginal tribes and their towns by Hebrew words is not only absurd in itself, but bars the way to sounder knowledge. For it is possible that, by the study of names not belonging to the Hebrew language, we might arrive at some correct ideas about the races who had previously occupied Palestine. Instead of this, the whole system of derivation is corrupted, and philology made ridiculous. What can be more ludicrous than to explain these Pelethim as "runners away," unless it be the notion that the Rephaim took their name from the Hebrew word for "a ghost"? In his "mighties" David had a powerful bodyguard of native Israelites, and Saul previously had formed a similar force of three thousand men, not merely for the protection of his own person, but to guard the land from marauding incursions of Amalekites and other freebooting tribes. Such a body of men was of primary importance for police purposes and the safety of the frontiers. How useful such a force would be we can well understand from the history of the marches between England and Scotland (see also note on 2 Samuel 3:22); but I imagine that the Cherethites and Pelethites were used for humbler purposes. While "the mighties" guarded the frontiers, and kept the peace of the kingdom, these men would be used about the court and in Jerusalem, to execute the commands of the king and his great officers. Native Israelites would refuse such servile work, and the conquered Canaanites might become dangerous if trained and armed; while these foreigners, like the Swiss Guard in France, would be trustworthy and efficient. As for the true-born Israelites, they probably did not form the mass of the population, but, like the Franks in France, were the privileged and dominant race. We read that even from Egypt, besides their own dependents, there went up with Israel "a great mixture" (Exodus 12:38, margin). In Numbers 11:4 these are even contemptuously designated by a word which answers to our "omnium gatherum;" yet even they, after the conquest of Palestine, would be higher in rank than the subjugated Canaanites, from whom, together with another "mixed multitude" spoken of in Nehemiah 13:3, are descended the felahin of the present day. David's armies would be drawn from the Israelites, among whom were now reckoned the mixed multitude which went up from Egypt, and which was ennobled by taking part in the conquest of Canaan. In the army "the mighties" would hold the chief place; while the mercenaries, recruited from Ziklag and its neighbourhood, which continued to be David's private property (1 Samuel 27:6), would be most useful in the discharge of all kinds of administrative duty, and would also guard the king's person. In 2 Samuel 20:23 for Cherethi we find Cheri, which word also occurs in 2 Kings 11:4, 19. In the former passage the spelling is a mistake, the letter t having dropped out, and it is so regarded by the Jews, who read "Cherethi." The versions also translate there just as they do here, namely the Vulgate and LXX., "Cherethi and Pelethi;" and the Syriac by two nouns of somewhat similar sound to the Hebrew, and which signify "freemen and soldiers." In the latter place in Kings it is probable that some other tribe supplied the bodyguard in Queen Athaliah's time. David's sons were chief rulers; Hebrew and Revised Version, priests. Similarly, in ch. 20:26, "Ira the Jairite was David's priest," Hebrew, cohen; and in 1 Kings 4:5, "Zabud was Solomon's priest." Gesenius and others suppose that they were domestic chaplains, not ministering according to the Levitical law, but invested with a sort of sacerdotal sacredness in honour of their birth. But if we look again at 1 Kings 4:5 we find "Zabud was priest, the king's friend;" and the latter words seem to be an explanation of the title cohen, added because the word in this sense was already becoming obsolete. In 1 Chronicles 18:17 the language is completely changed, and we read, "and David's sons were chief at the king's hand." We may feel sure that the Chronicler knew what was the meaning of the phrase in the Books of Samuel, and that he was also aware that it had gone out of use, and therefore gave instead the right sense. Evidently the word cohen had at first a wider significance, and meant a "minister and confidant." He was the officer who stood next to his master, and knew his purpose and saw to its execution. And this was the meaning of the term when applied to the confidential minister of Jehovah, whose duty it was to execute his will according to the commands given in the Law; but when so used it gradually became too sacred for ordinary employment. Still, there is a divinity about a king, and so his confidants and the officers nearest to his person were still called cohens; and we find the phrase lingering on for another century and a half. For Jehu puts to death, not only Ahab's great men and kinsfolk, but also "his cohens," the men who had been his intimate friends (2 Kings 10:11).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over both the Cherethites and Pelethites,.... These, according to Josephus (k), were the king's bodyguards, and this man is expressly said to be set over his guards, 2 Samuel 23:22; and which some think were of the nation of the Philistines, famous for archery, and slinging of stones; and so the Targum renders it,"was appointed over the archers and slingers;''so "choriti" in Virgil (l) are quivers for arrows; the great use of which in fighting David had observed, and therefore got a select company of these men, partly to teach Israel, and partly to guard himself: but others are of opinion that David would never suffer such as were Heathens to be so near his person, and therefore take them to be Israelites; and so some Jewish writers say they were two families in Israel; which is much better than to interpret them as others do of the sanhedrim, and even of the Urim and Thummim, as in the Targum on 1 Chronicles 18:17; See Gill on Zephaniah 2:5; and it is most probable that they were Israelites, who were David's guards, and consisted of the chiefs that were with him in Philistia, and particularly at Ziklag, which lay on the south of the Cherethites, 1 Samuel 30:14; and so had their name from thence; and among the chief of those that came to him at Ziklag there was one named Peleth, from whence might come the Pelethites, and they were all of them archers; see 1 Chronicles 12:2,
and David's sons were chief rulers; princes, princes of the blood, or "chief about the king", as in 1 Chronicles 18:17; they were constant attendants at court, waiting on the king, ready at hand to do what he pleased to order; they were the chief ministers, and had the management of the principal affairs at court. Abarbinel thinks that this respects not only David's sons, but Benaiah, and the family of the Cherethites and Pelethites, who had none of them particular posts assigned them, which were settled and known, as those before mentioned had, but were always near at hand, to do whatsoever the king commanded them; and which seems better to agree with the literal order and construction of the words; which are:
and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and the Cherethites, and Pelethites,
and the sons of David, were princes, or chief rulers; or priests, who according to Gussetius (m) brought the offerings or presents to the king, and did that to him the priests did to the Lord.
(k) Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 7. c. 5. sect.4.) (l) Aeneid. 10. (m) Ebr. Comment. p. 366.
Wesley's Notes on the Bible
8:18 Cherethites, and c. - The Cherethites and Pelethites were undoubtedly soldiers, and such as were eminent for their valour and fidelity. Most probable they were the king's guards, which consisted of these two bands, who might be distinguished either by their several weapons, or by the differing time or manner of their service. They are supposed to be thus called either, first, from their office, which was upon the king's command to cut off or punish offenders, and to preserve the king's person, as their names in the Hebrew tongue may seem to imply. Or, secondly, from some country, or place to which they had relation. As for the Cherithites, it is certain they were ether a branch of the Philistines, or a people neighbouring to them, and so might the Pelethites be too, though that be not related in scripture. And these Israelites and soldiers of David might be so called, either because they went and lived with David when he dwelt in those parts or, for some notable exploit against, or victory over these people.
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