And Abishai, the brother of Joab, the son of Zeruiah, was chief among three. And he lifted up his spear against three hundred, and slew them, and had the name among three.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Among three.—The Hebrew margin has “the three,” and so also the text in the following clause. “The three” are the triad of heroes just mentioned, of whom Abishai was first, Benaiah second, with an unnamed third. A somewhat similar feat of daring is told of Abishai in 1Samuel 26:6-12.2 Samuel 23:18-19. Abishai was chief among three — The chief of those three mighty men before mentioned. See 1 Chronicles 11:20. Had the name among the three — That is, was most eminent and famous. Was he not most honourable? — Worthy to be the leader of them, for his superior valour and virtue? He attained not unto the first three — He fell short of them in strength and valour.2 Samuel 23:22. It was Abishai's prowess on this occasion that raised him to be chief of this triad.
Had the name among the three, i.e. was the most famous and eminent among them.
and he lifted up his spear against three hundred, and slew them; Josephus (e) says six hundred; this seems to confirm the reading of 2 Samuel 23:8, that the number eight hundred is right, for if it was only three hundred, Abishai would have been equal to one, even the first, of the former three; which yet is denied him in 2 Samuel 23:19,
and had the name among three; of which he was one; and he had the chief name among them, or was the most famous of them.And Abishai, the brother of Joab, the son of Zeruiah, was chief among three. And he lifted up his spear against three hundred, and slew them, and had the name among three.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
18. Abishai] David’s valiant but hard-hearted nephew, who shared the command of the army with his brother Joab in the Ammonite war and in Absalom’s rebellion (ch. 2 Samuel 10:10; 2 Samuel 10:14, 2 Samuel 18:2). The characteristic trait of his nature was a blunt impetuous ferocity. See 1 Samuel 26:8; 2 Samuel 16:9; 2 Samuel 19:21.
chief among three] The Qrî reads chief of the three; those namely who were mentioned in 2 Samuel 23:17. But the Kthîbh has chief of the aides-de-camp, as in 2 Samuel 23:8.
among three] As before, among the three.Verse 18. - Abishai... was chief among three. The sense is obscured in the Authorized Version by the translators having failed to notice the presence of the definite article. Abishai, by reason of this exploit, became "chief of the three;" that is, of the second order of three established in the fraternity of the mighties. At the end of the verse, and in ver. 19, the Authorized Version strangely puts the article where it is absent in the Hebrew, and omits it where it is present. The right rendering and meaning is, "He had a name, that is, rank, reputation, among the three. Was he not the most honourable of the three? For this he was made their captain: yet he attained not to equal dignity with the first three." 2 Samuel 23:33). He also made himself renowned by a great victory over the Philistines. The enemy had gathered together לחיּה, "as a troop," or in a crowd. This meaning of היּה (here and 2 Samuel 23:13, and possibly also in Psalm 68:11) is thoroughly established by the Arabic (see Ges. Thes. p. 470). But it seems to have fallen into disuse afterwards, and in the Chronicles it is explained in 2 Samuel 23:13 by מלחמה, and in 2 Samuel 23:15 by מחנה. "On a portion of a field of lentils there," sc., where the Philistines had gathered together, the people (of Israel) were smitten. Then Shammah stationed himself in the midst of the field, and יצּילה, "wrested it," from the foe, and smote the Philistines. Instead of עדשׁים, lentils, we find in the Chronicles שׁלעורים, barley, a very inconsiderable difference.
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