2 Samuel 23:20
And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man, of Kabzeel, who had done many acts, he slew two lion like men of Moab: he went down also and slew a lion in the middle of a pit in time of snow:
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(20) Benaiah.—He was the general of the third division of the army (1Chronicles 27:5-6). This probably included the Cherethites and Pelethites, since he was also their commander (2Samuel 8:18; 2Samuel 20:23). In consequence of his faithfulness to Solomon in the rebellion of Adonijah, he was finally made commander-in-chief (1Kings 1:8; 1Kings 1:26; 1Kings 1:32; 1Kings 2:25; 1Kings 2:29-35; 1Kings 4:4). His father Jehoiada is called “a chief priest “in 1Chronicles 27:5, and in 1Chronicles 12:27 mention is made of a “Jehoiada the leader of the Aaronites,” who came to David at Hebron, and who may have been the same person.

Kabzeel.—A town on the extreme south of Judah, on the border of Edom (Joshua 15:21).

Lion-like men.—Literally, lion of God, an expression used among Arabs and Persians of great warriors.

Slew a lion.—Comp. 1Samuel 17:34-37. It is not said with what weapons he slew him, but the act was evidently a great feat of valour.

2 Samuel 23:20. Who had done many acts — As Abishai also had done, who had succoured David, when a giant thought to have killed him. But their greatest acts only are here mentioned. He slew two lion-like men of Moab — The Hebrew word אראל, ariel, signifies a lion of God, that is, a great lion. And it was the name among the Moabites for a very valiant man. Such a one at this day is called assedollabi, a lion of God, among the Arabians. He slew a lion in the midst of a pit — By going down into which he had put himself under a necessity of killing or being killed. In time of snow — This is mentioned to magnify the action, because then lions are fiercer both for want of prey, and from the sharpness of their appetite in cold seasons.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.Benaiah the son of Jehoiada - He commanded the Cherethites and Pelethites all through David's reign 2 Samuel 8:18; 2 Samuel 20:23, and took a prominent part in supporting Solomon against Adonijah when David was dying, and was rewarded by being made captain of the host in the room of Joab 1 Kings 1:8, 1 Kings 1:26, 1 Kings 1:32-40; 1 Kings 2:25-35; 1 Kings 4:4. It is possible that Jehoiada his father is the same as Jehoiada 1 Chronicles 12:27, leader of the Aaronites, since "Benaiah the son of Jehoiada" is called a "chief priest" 1 Chronicles 27:5.

Two lion-like men - The Hebrew word אריאל 'ărı̂y'êl, means literally "lion of God," and is interpreted to mean "an eminent hero." Instances occur among Arabs and Persians of the surname "lion of God" being given to great warriors. Hence, it is supposed that the same custom prevailed among the Moabites. But the Vulgate has "two lions of Moab," which seems to be borne out by the next sentence.

Slew a lion ... - Rather, THE lion, one of those described above as "a lion of God," if the Vulgate Version is right. Apparently in a severe winter a lion had come up from its usual haunts to some village in search of food, and taken possession of the tank or cistern to the terror of the inhabitants, and Benaiah attacked it boldly and killed it.

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. Of Kabzeel; a place in Judah, Joshua 15:21.

Who had done many acts: this may belong either to Benaiah, or to his father, to note that Benaiah was a son becoming such a father.

Two lionlike men, for courage and strength. Or, lions of God, i.e. great and strong lions. Or, two gigantic persons; and therefore both so called, as being either equal in might, or brethren by birth.

In the midst of a pit; where he put himself under a necessity, either of killing, or being killed.

In time of snow; when lions are most fierce, both from the sharpness of their appetite in cold seasons, and from want of provisions, cattle being then shut up, and fed at home. And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man of Kabzeel,.... A city in the tribe of Judah, Joshua 15:21; the father of this man was a man of great vivacity, valour, and strength, so that it was like father like son. Procopius Gazaeus says Benaiah was David's brother's son, and a grandson of Jesse:

who had done many acts; which may refer either to the father of Benaiah or to Benaiah himself; and indeed the Syriac and Arabic versions refer the preceding character, "a valiant man", not to the father, but the son:

he slew two lionlike men of Moab; two princes of Moab, as the Targum, or two giants of Moab, as the Syriac and Arabic versions; men who were comparable to lions for their strength and courage; for this is not to be understood of two strong towers of Moab, as Ben Gersom, which were defended by valiant men like lions, or which had the form of lions engraved on them: nor of Moabitish altars, as Gussetius (f), the altar of the Lord, being called by this name of Ariel, the word used; but of men of uncommon valour and fortitude:

he went down also, and slew a lion in the midst of a pit in time of snow; not Joab, 1 Kings 2:34, as is the tradition (g), but a real lion, the strongest among the beasts; and that in a pit where he could not keep his distance, and turn himself, and take all advantage, and from whence he could not make his escape; and which indeed might quicken his resolution, when he must fight or die; and on a snowy day, when lions are said to have the greatest strength, as in cold weather, or however are fiercer for want of food; and when Benaiah might be benumbed in his hands and feet with cold. Josephus (h) represents the case thus, that the lion fell into a pit, where was much snow, and was covered with it, and making a hideous roaring, Benaiah went down and slew him; but rather it was what others say, that this lion very much infested the places adjacent, and did much harm; and therefore, for the good of the country, and to rid them of it, took this opportunity, and slew it; which one would think was not one of the best reasons that might offer; it seems best therefore what Bochart (i) conjectures, that Benaiah went into a cave, for so the word used may signify, to shelter himself a while from the cold, when a lion, being in it for the same reason, attacked him, and he fought with it and slew it; or rather it may be an hollow place, a valley that lay between Acra and Zion, where Benaiah, hearing a lion roar, went down and slew it (k).

(f) Ebr. Comment p. 95. (g) Hieron. Trad. Heb. in 2 Reg. fol. 80. C. (h) Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 7. c. 12. sect. 4.) (i) Hierozoic. par. 1. l. 3. c. 4. col. 758. (k) See the Universal History, vol. 4. p. 227.

And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man, of Kabzeel, who had done many acts, he slew two lionlike men of Moab: he went down also and slew a lion in the midst of a pit in time of snow:
20. Benaiah the son of Jehoiada] Commander of the body-guard (ch. 2 Samuel 8:18, 2 Samuel 20:23), and general of the third division of the army (1 Chronicles 27:5-6). He was an active supporter of Solomon against Adonijah, and was rewarded by being made commander-in-chief in place of Joab. See 1 Kings 1:8; 1 Kings 1:26; 1 Kings 1:32 ff., 1 Kings 2:25-35; 1 Kings 2:46; 1 Kings 4:4. His father Jehoiada was “the chief priest” (1 Chronicles 27:5), that is, probably, the high priest’s deputy, and leader of the “Aaronites,” i.e. priests, who joined David at Hebron (1 Chronicles 12:27).

the son of a valiant man] Better, a valiant man.

Kabzeel] A town in the extreme south of Judah towards the border of Edom (Joshua 15:21), reoccupied after the Captivity and called Jekabzeel. Its exact site is unknown.

two lion-like men of Moab] Ariel, translated lion-like man, means lion of God, a title applied by the Arabs and Persians to celebrated warriors. The Sept. reads “the two sons of Ariel,” and it has been conjectured that Ariel was a title of the Moabite king; but 1 Chronicles 11:22 supports the reading of the Heb. text. The exploit may have been an incident in the Moabite war recorded in ch. 2 Samuel 8:2.

a lion, &c.] The lion had probably been driven by the severity of the winter into the neighbourhood of some village, to the terror of the inhabitants.Verse 20. - Benaiah the son of Jehoiada. He was a very important person throughout David's reign, being the commander of the body guard' (2 Samuel 8:18), and general of the third brigade of twenty-four thousand men (1 Chronicles 27:5). The meaning of the description given of him there is disputed; but probably it should be translated, "Benaiah the son of Jehoiada the priest, as head," that is, of the brigade. He was thus the son of the Jehoiada who was leader of the house of Aaron, and whose coming to Hebron with three thousand seven hundred martial priests did so much to make David king of all Israel (1 Chronicles 12:27). Subsequently he took the side of Solomon against Adonijah, and was rewarded by being made commander-in-chief, in place of Joab (1 Kings 2:35). Kabzeel. An unidentified place in the south of Judah, on the Edomite border (Joshua 15:21), called Jekabzeel in Nehemiah 11:25. Two lionlike men of Moab. The Septuagint reads, "the two sons of Ariel of Moab." which the Revised Version adopts. "Ariel" means "lion of God," and is a name given to Jerusalem in Isaiah 29:1, 2. The Syriac supports the Authorized Version in understanding by the term "heroes," or "champions;" but the use of poetical language in a prosaic catalogue is so strange that the Septuagint is probably right. If so, Ariel is the proper name of the King of Moab and the achievement took place in the war recorded in 2 Samuel 8:2. A lion. This achievement would be as gratefully remembered as the killing of a man eating tiger by the natives in India. A lion, driven by the cold from the forests, had made its lair in a dry tank near some town, and thence preyed upon the inhabitants as they went in and out of the city. And Benaiah had pity upon them, and came to the rescue, and went down into the pit, and, at the risk of his life, slew the lion. 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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