2 Samuel 23:17
And he said, Be it far from me, O LORD, that I should do this: is not this the blood of the men that went in jeopardy of their lives? therefore he would not drink it. These things did these three mighty men.
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(17) Is not this the blood . . .?—The Hebrew here is simply an interrogative exclamation, “the blood of the men?” but in 1Chronicles 11:19 the text reads, “Shall I drink the blood of these men?” &c., and so the LXX. and Vulg. translate here. To David the water gained only at the risk of life, “seemed the very blood in which the life resides” (Leviticus 17:10-11).

These three.—Rather, the three.

2 Samuel 23:17. He said, Far be it from me — He looked upon it no longer as water, but as the blood of those men who fetched it with the peril of their lives; and the blood of every thing belonged to the Lord, and therefore he poured it out before him. If the generosity of David’s worthies was great, David’s generosity was no less so. Such actions as these dignify human nature, and manifest an excellence and grandeur which one should not otherwise think it capable of. These things did these three — They all joined in this hazardous exploit. But now follows what they did singly.

23:8-39 David once earnestly longed for the water at the well of Bethlehem. It seems to be an instance of weakness. He was thirsty; with the water of that well he had often refreshed himself when a youth, and it was without due thought that he desired it. Were his valiant men so forward to expose themselves, upon the least hint of their prince's mind, and so eager to please him, and shall not we long to approve ourselves to our Lord Jesus, by ready compliance with his will, as shown us by his word, Spirit, and providence? But David poured out the water as a drink-offering to the Lord. Thus he would cross his own foolish fancy, and punish himself for indulging it, and show that he had sober thoughts to correct his rash ones, and knew how to deny himself. Did David look upon that water as very precious which was got at the hazard of these men's blood, and shall not we much more value those benefits for purchasing which our blessed Saviour shed his blood? Let all beware of neglecting so great salvation.Better as in 1 Chronicles 11:19. 15, 16. the well of Beth-lehem—An ancient cistern, with four or five holes in the solid rock, at about ten minutes distance to the north of the eastern corner of the hill of Beth-lehem, is pointed out by the natives as Bir-Daoud; that is, David's well. Dr. Robinson doubts the identity of the well; but others think that there are no good grounds for doing so. Certainly, considering this to be the ancient well, Beth-lehem must have once extended ten minutes further to the north, and must have lain in times of old, not as now, on the summit, but on the northern rise of the hill; for the well is by or (1Ch 11:7) at the gate. I find in the description of travellers, that the common opinion is, that David's captains had come from the southeast, in order to obtain, at the risk of their lives, the so-much-longed-for water; while it is supposed that David himself was then in the great cave that is not far to the southeast of Beth-lehem; which cave is generally held to have been that of Adullam. But (Jos 15:35) Adullam lay "in the valley"; that is, in the undulating plain at the western base of the mountains of Judea and consequently to the southwest of Beth-lehem. Be this as it may, David's men had in any case to break through the host of the Philistines, in order to reach the well; and the position of Bir-Daoud agrees well with this [Van De Velde]. Is not this the blood of the men, i.e. the price of their blood or lives, which they rashly exposed to manifest hazard?

These things did these three mighty men; either one of these three are here omitted, as one of the first three is not named, 1Ch 11; or Abishai, who follows next, was one of these three.

And he said, be it far from me, O Lord, that one should do this,.... Drink of the water these men had brought him:

is not this the blood of the men that went in jeopardy of their lives? who risked the shedding of their blood, and went in danger of their lives to get it:

therefore he would not drink it: some compare with this the story of Alexander (d) to whom a vessel of water was offered when in extreme thirst, which he refused, because he could not bear to drink it alone, and so small a quantity could not be divided among all about him; but the reasons are not the same:

these things did these three mighty men; which made them very famous.

(d) Curt. Hist. l. 7. c. 5.

And he said, Be it far from me, O LORD, that I should do this: is not this the blood of the men that went in jeopardy of their lives? therefore he would not drink it. These things did these three mighty men.
17. is not this the blood] As the text stands, the sentence is simply an interrogative exclamation: The blood of the men …? But Sept., Vulg. and Chron. read: Shall I drink the blood …? The water fetched at the risk of his comrades’ lives seemed to him the very blood in which the life resides (Leviticus 17:10-11).

2 Samuel 23:17The three heroes then broke through the camp of the Philistines at Bethlehem, i.e., the outpost that occupied the space before the gate, fetched water out of the well, and brought it to David. He would not drink it, however, but poured it out upon the ground to the Lord, as a drink-offering for Jehovah. "He poured it out upon the earth, rendering Him thanks for the return of the three brave men" (Clericus). And he said, "Far be it from me, O Jehovah, to do this! The blood of the men who went with their lives (i.e., at the risk of their lives)," sc., should I drink it? The verb אשׁתּה is wanting in our text, but is not to be inserted according to the Chronicles as though it had fallen out; the sentence is rather to be regarded as an aposiopesis. יהוה after לי חלילה is a vocative, and is not to be altered into מיהוה according to the מאלחי of the Chronicles. The fact that the vocative does not occur in other passages after לי חלילה proves nothing. It is equivalent to the oath יהוה חי (1 Samuel 14:45). The chronicler has endeavoured to simplify David's exclamation by completing the sentence. בּנפשׁותם, "for the price of their souls," i.e., at the risk of their lives. The water drawn and fetched at the risk of their lives is compared to the soul itself, and the soul is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11). Drinking this water, therefore, would be nothing else than drinking their blood.
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