2 Samuel 23:19
Was he not most honorable of three? therefore he was their captain: however, he attained not to the first three.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
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.i. e., "Was he not the most honorable of the three of the second order, howbeit, he attained not to the three," the triad, namely, which consisted of Jashobeam, Eleazar, and Shammah. That two triads are mentioned is a simple fact, although only five names are given. 19-39. the first three—The mighty men or champions in David's military staff were divided into three classes—the highest, Jashobeam, Eleazar, and Shammah; the second class, Abishai, Benaiah, and Asahel; and the third class, the thirty, of which Asahel was the chief. There are thirty-one mentioned in the list, including Asahel; and these added to the two superior orders make thirty-seven. Two of them, we know, were already dead; namely, Asahel [2Sa 3:30] and Uriah [2Sa 11:17]; and if the dead, at the drawing up of the list, amounted to seven, then we might suppose a legion of honor, consisting of the definite number thirty, where the vacancies, when they occurred, were replaced by fresh appointments. He fell short of them in strength and valour. Was he not most honourable of three?.... He was; who, besides the exploit here mentioned, did many other things; he went down with David into Saul's camp, and took away his spear and cruse, which were at his bolster, 1 Samuel 26:6; he relieved David when in danger from Ishbibenob the giant, 2 Samuel 21:16; he beat the Edomites, and slew eighteen thousand of them in the valley of salt, 1 Chronicles 18:12,

therefore he was their captain; of the other two, or was head over them, took rank before them:

howbeit he attained not unto the first three; for fortitude, courage, and warlike exploits, namely, to the Tachmonite, Eleazar, and Shammah.

Was he not most honorable of three? therefore he was their captain: howbeit he attained not unto the first three.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
To this deed there is appended a similar heroic feat performed by three of the thirty heroes whose names are not given. The Chethib שׁלשׁים is evidently a slip of the pen for שׁלשׁה (Keri and Chronicles). The thirty chiefs are the heroes named afterwards. As שׁלשׁה has no article either in our text or the Chronicles, the three intended are not the three already mentioned (Jashobeam, Eleazar, and Shammah), but three others out of the number mentioned in 2 Samuel 23:24. These three came to David in the harvest time unto the cave of Adullam (see at 1 Samuel 22:1), when a troop of the Philistines was encamped in the valley of Rephaim, and David was on the mountain fortress, and a Philistian post was then in Bethlehem. And David longed for water, and said, "Oh that one would bring me water to drink out of the well of Bethlehem at the gate!" The encampment of the Philistines in the valley of Rephaim, and the position of David on the mountain fortress (בּמּצוּדה), render it probable that the feat mentioned here took place in the war with the Philistines described in 2 Samuel 5:17. Robinson could not discover any well in Bethlehem, "especially none 'by the gate,' except one connected with the aqueduct on the south" (Palestine, vol. ii. p. 158). בּשּׁער need not be understood, however, as signifying that the well was in or under the gate; but the well referred to may have been at the gate outside the city. The well to which tradition has given the name of "David's well" (cisterna David), is about a quarter of an hour's walk to the north-east of Bethlehem, and, according to Robinson's description, is "merely a deep and wide cistern or cavern now dry, with three or four narrow openings cut in the rock." But Ritter (Erdk. xvi. p. 286) describes it as "deep with clear cool water, into which there are three openings from above, which Tobler speaks of as bored;" and again as a cistern "built with peculiar beauty, from seventeen to twenty-one feet deep, whilst a house close by is pointed out to pilgrims as Jesse's house."
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