2 Samuel 2:16
And they caught every one his fellow by the head, and thrust his sword in his fellow's side; so they fell down together: wherefore that place was called Helkathhazzurim, which is in Gibeon.
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(16) Helkath – hazzurim is interpreted in the margin “the field of strong men,” but the etymology is very doubtful. Most modern expositors understand it as meaning “the field of sharp edges.”

2:8-17. The nation in general refused David. By this the Lord trained up his servant for future honour and usefulness; and the tendency of true godliness was shown in his behaviour while passing through various difficulties. David was herein a type of Christ, whom Israel would not submit to, though anointed of the Father to be a Prince and a Saviour to them. Abner meant, Let the young men fight before us, when he said, Let them play before us: fools thus make a mock at sin. But he is unworthy the name of a man, that can thus trifle with human blood.Compare Livy's history of the battle between the Horatii and Curiatii. This combat, like that, may have been proposed as a means of avoiding the effusion of blood of two nations united by consanguinity, and having a common powerful enemy in the Philistines.

Helkath-hazzurim - i. e. "the part, field, or plat Genesis 23:19 of the sharp edges or blades." This seems, on the whole, the best explanation of this rather obscure name.

14. Abner said to Joab, Let the young men now arise, and play before us—Some think that the proposal was only for an exhibition of a little tilting match for diversion. Others suppose that, both parties being reluctant to commence a civil war, Abner proposed to leave the contest to the decision of twelve picked men on either side. This fight by championship instead of terminating the matter, inflamed the fiercest passions of the two rival parties; a general engagement ensued, in which Abner and his forces were defeated and put to flight. By the head; by the hair of the head, which after their manner was of a considerable length, and therefore gave their enemy advantage; which every one of them endeavoured to get, and to improve against the other.

Helkath-hazzurim, or

the field of rocks, i. e. of men who stood like rocks, unmovable, each one dying upon the spot where he fought.

And they caught everyone his fellow by the head,.... By the hair of his head with his hand:

and thrust his sword in his fellow's side; which he had in the other:

so they fell down together; the twelve on each side, all the twenty four; some think only the twelve on Abner's side fell; but to me it seems that they all fell dead as one man, since they thrust their swords in each other's sides:

wherefore that place was called Helkathhazzurim, which is in Gibeon; the field of rocks, or of mighty men as strong as rocks, who stood as immovable, and would not give way, but fell and died in the field of battle; the Targum interprets it, the inheritance of the slain.

And they caught every one his {i} fellow by the head, and thrust his sword in his fellow's side; so they fell down together: wherefore that place was called Helkathhazzurim, which is in Gibeon.

(i) Meaning his adversary.

16. And they caught, &c.] Self-defence was forgotten in the ferocity of the struggle, and all the combatants fell together by a mutual slaughter.

Helkath-hazzurim] This obscure name is variously explained as the field or plat, (a) of sharp edges, in allusion to the swords which proved so fatal; (b) of strong men, literally rocks, from the rock-like obstinacy with which they fought; so the Vulg. ager robustorum; (c) of plotters, the rendering of the LXX. (μερὶς τῶν ἐπιβούλων), which involves a slight change in the Hebrew word, implying that there was some foul play in the combat; (d) of sides, according to a conjectural emendation suggested in the Speaker’s Commentary, in allusion to the phrase “thrust his sword in his fellow’s side.” Either the first or second explanation is the most probable.

Verse 16. - His sword in his fellow's side. The absence of the verb in the original sets powerfully before us the rapidity of the whole action. But what an action! Twenty-four experienced men each take the other by the head, and, without any attempt at self-defence, thrust their swords into their opponents' side, and leave their own sides exposed to a similar thrust. Were they, then, unskilful in the use of weapons? Impossible. Were they blinded by hatred of one another? But no rancour would make a man forget his skill in defence. Here there is no variety, no checkered fortune of the combatants, but all twenty-four do and suffer just the same; and it is remarkable that they had swords only, and no shields. With shields on their arms, they could not have seized one another by the hair. It seems certain, therefore, that this mutual butchery was the "play;" nor can we conceive of a more murderous and savage proceeding. Abner, at the head of his fierce Benjamites, thought, perhaps, that Joab had no men among his followers willing to throw life away in so senseless a manner. But Joab was as ready as Abner, and possibly some code of false honour, such as used to make men practise duelling, required the acceptance of the challenge. And so, with their appetite for blood whetted by the sight of twenty-four murders, they hastened to begin the fight. Helkath-hazzurim. Literally this means "the field of flints;" but as the flint is constantly used for any hard rock (Psalm 78:20), the Authorized Version has admitted into the margin a paraphrase taken from the Vulgate, which supposes that by flints are meant "strong men," and renders, "the field of strong men." So in Isaiah 26:4 "the flint," or rock, "of ages," is even translated "everlasting strength." Flints, however, were constantly used by the Israelites for knives whenever extreme sharpness was required. Thus for the circumcising of Israel, Jehovah commanded Joshua to prepare knives of flint (Joshua 5:2); and in course of time the sharp or whetted edge of a weapon was called its flint. Thus in Psalm 89:43 we read, "Thou hast turned back the flint of his sword." The name therefore probably means "the field of the sharp knives" (see margin of the Revised Version), and refers to the short swords with which they murdered one another. 2 Samuel 2:16Abner then proposed to Joab that the contest should be decided by a single combat, probably for the purpose of avoiding an actual civil war. "Let the young men arise and wrestle before us." שׂחק, to joke or play, is used here to denote the war-play of single combat. As Joab accepted this proposal, twelve young warriors for Benjamin and Ishbosheth, and twelve from David's men, went over, i.e., went out of the two camps to the appointed scene of conflict; "and one seized the other's head, and his sword was (immediately) in the side of the other (his antagonist), so that they fell together." The clause רעהוּ בּצד וחרבּו is a circumstantial clause: and his sword (every one's sword) was in the side of the other, i.e., thrust into it. Sending the sword into the opponent's side is thus described as simultaneous with the seizure of his head. The ancient translators expressed the meaning by supplying a verb (ἐνέπηξαν, defixit: lxx, Vulg.). This was a sign that the young men on both sides fought with great ferocity, and also with great courage. The place itself received the name of Helkath-hazzurim, "field of the sharp edges," in consequence (for this use of zur, see Psalm 89:44).
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