2 Samuel 23:8
These be the names of the mighty men whom David had: The Tachmonite that sat in the seat, chief among the captains; the same was Adino the Eznite: he lift up his spear against eight hundred, whom he slew at one time.
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(8) These be the names.—Here, in the summary at the close of David’s reign, is very naturally given a list of his chief heroes. A duplicate of this list, with several variations, and with sixteen more names, is given in 1Chronicles 11:10-47, which is useful in correcting such clerical errors as have arisen in both. The list in Chronicles is given in connection with David’s becoming king over all Israel; but in both cases the list is not to be understood as belonging precisely to any definite time, but rather as a catalogue of the chief heroes who distinguished themselves at any time in the life of David.

The Tachmonite that sat in the seat.—The text of this verse has undergone several alterations, which may be corrected by the parallel passage in Chronicles. This clause should read, “Jashobeam the Hachmonite,” as in 1Chronicles 11:11. Jashobeam came to David at Ziklag (1Chronicles 12:1; 1Chronicles 12:6), and afterwards became the general of the first division of the army (1Chronicles 27:2), being immediately followed by Dodo. One of the same family was tutor to David’s sons (1Chronicles 27:32).

The captains.—The word for captain and the word for three are much alike, and the text here and in Chronicles perpetually fluctuates between the two. Probably the sense here is that Jashobeam was the chief of the three who stood highest in rank among the heroes.

No mention is made in either list of Joab, because, as commander-in-chief, he stood in a rank by himself.

The same was Adino the Eznite.—It is difficult to attach any meaning to these words in their connection, and they are generally considered as a corruption of the words in 1Chronicles 11:11, “he lifted up his spear,” which are required and are inserted here in the English. For “eight hundred” Chronicles has “three hundred,” as in 2Samuel 23:18. Variations in numbers are exceedingly common, but the probability is in favour of the correctness of the text here. This large number was slain by Jashobeam and the men under his command in one combat.

2 Samuel 23:8. These be the names of the mighty men whom David had — Who helped to raise David to his dignity, and to preserve him in it, being continually with him in all his wars. There is a list of them also 1 Chronicles 11., different from this in several particulars. But Abarbinel thinks this creates no difficulty, if we do but observe that there he distinguishes them into three classes. Those that had always been with him; those that came to him at Ziklag, a little before he was made king of Judah; and those that came to him in Hebron, after he was made king of all Israel. It was proper that the memories of all these should be preserved. But here, in this book, the writer intended only to mention the most excellent of his heroes, who were always with him in his wars; and for whose sake he composed the preceding song of praise to God. Add to this, that this catalogue, though placed here, was taken long before many of the preceding events, as is manifest from hence, that Asahel and Uriah are named in it. It must be observed also, that it was very common for one person to have divers names, and that as some of the worthies died, and others arose in their stead, a great alteration must of course take place in the latter catalogue from the former. We may learn from hence, how much religion tends to inspire men with true courage. David, both by his writings and example, greatly promoted piety among the grandees of his kingdom. And when they became famous for piety, they became famous for bravery.

The Tachmonite that sat in the seat — He sat in the counsel of war, next to Joab, being, it is thought, his lieutenant-general. Chief among the captains — The principal commander after Joab. The same was Adino — This was his proper name, and he probably was of the family of the Eznites. He lifted up his spear — These words are properly supplied out of 1 Chronicles 11:11, where they are expressed. Against eight hundred — In the above-mentioned place of 1 Chronicles it is only three hundred. Whom he slew at one time — In one battle, which, though it be strange, cannot be incredible, supposing him to be a person of extraordinary strength and activity, and his enemies to be discouraged and fleeing away.

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.The duplicate of this passage is in 1 Chronicles 11, where it is in immediate connection with David's accession to the throne of Israel, and where the mighty men are named as those by whose aid David was made king. The document belongs to the early part of David's reign. The text of 2 Samuel 23:8-9 is perhaps to be corrected by comparison with 1 Chronicles 11:11-12.

Chief among the captains - There is great doubt about the exact meaning of this phrase.

(1) the title is given to two other persons, namely, to Abishai in 2 Samuel 23:18; 1 Chronicles 11:20, and to Amasa in 1 Chronicles 12:18.

(2) the word translated "captain," is of uncertain meaning, and the orthography repeatedly fluctuates throughout this and the duplicate passage in 1 Chronicles 11, between "Shalish" a captain, and "Sheloshah" three.

(3) if, however, the text of Chronicles be taken as the guide, then the sense of "captain" will not come into play, but the word will be a numeral throughout, either "three" or "thirty," and will describe David's band of thirty mighty men, with a certain triad or triads of heroes who were yet more illustrious than the thirty.

In the verse before us, therefore, for "chief among the captains," we should render, "chief of the thirty."

Eight hundred - The parallel passage in 1 Chronicles as "three hundred," as in 2 Samuel 23:18. Such variations in numerals are very frequent. Compare the numbers in Ezra 2 and Nehemiah 7.

2Sa 23:8-39. A Catalogue of His Mighty Men.

8. These be the names of the mighty men whom David had—This verse should be translated thus: He who sits in the seat of the Tachmonite (that is, of Jashobeam the Hachmonite), who was chief among the captains, the same is Adino the Eznite; he lift up his spear against eight hundred, whom he slew at one time. The text is corrupt in this passage; the number eight hundred should be three hundred [Davidson, Hermeneutics]. Under Joab he was chief or president of the council of war. The first or highest order was composed of him and his two colleagues, Eleazar and Shammah. Eleazar seems to have been left to fight the Philistines alone; and on his achieving the victory, they returned to the spoil. In like manner Shammah was left to stand alone in his glory, when the Lord, by him, wrought a great victory. It is not very easy to determine whether the exploits that are afterwards described were performed by the first or the second three.

Of the mighty men whom David had, i. e. of his chief and most valiant commanders. And as it was noted upon 2 Samuel 21:1, that the things related in that chapter were done before Absalom’s and Sheba’s rebellion, though they be mentioned after them; so that opinion is confirmed by this catalogue, which, though placed here, was taken long before, as is manifest from hence, that Asahel and Uriah are named here. And whereas there are some differences between this list and that 1Ch 11, most of them are easily reconciled by these two considerations:

1. That nothing is more common than for one person to have divers names.

2. That as some of the worthies died, and others came in their steads; so this must needs cause some alteration in the latter catalogue, 1Ch 11, from this, which was the former.

The Tachmonite, or, Hachmonite, called Jashobeam, 1 Chronicles 11:11, from his place; or, as here, Josheb-bassebet, i. e. as we render it,

that sat in the seat, i.e. was, under Joab, chief or president of the council of war, or lieutenant (locum tenens).

The same was Adino: this was his proper name.

The Eznite; so called, either from his family, or from the place of his birth or education.

He lift up his spear; which words are fitly supplied out of 1 Chronicles 11:11, where they are expressed. Or thus, he was above eight hundred, i.e. he conquered them. So there is only an ellipsis of the verb substantive, which is most frequent.

At one time; in one battle, which though it be strange, yet cannot seem incredible, supposing him to be a person of extraordinary strength and activity, and his enemies to be weak, or discouraged, and fleeing away; and especially, God’s singular blessing and assistance; all which may very reasonably be supposed.

Object. But this man is said to have slain only three hundred in 1 Chronicles 11:11.

Answ. 1. Possibly he slew eight hundred at one time, and three hundred at another; whereof the former is related here, as being most considerable; and the latter in the Book of Chronicles, which supplies many passages omitted in the former writings.

2. He slew three hundred with his own hands; and the other five hundred, though killed by his men, are said to be slain by him, because he was the chief cause of all their deaths; for he, by his undaunted courage, killing three hundred, put the rest to flight, who were easily slain by his soldiers in the pursuit.

3. Some of the Hebrew writers affirm that these were two distinct persons, being called by differing names; the one the father, and the other the son, who succeeded his father, as in strength and valour, so also in his place of honour and trust.

These be the names of the mighty men whom David had,.... Besides Joab his general, who is not mentioned; for these were all military men under him, which are distinguished into three classes; the first and highest consisted of three only, who were general officers; and the second also of three, who perhaps were colonels of regiments; and the third of thirty, who were captains of thousands and hundreds:

the Tachmonite that sat in the seat, the chief among the captains: not in the chief seat in the sanhedrim, and was the head of that, and so had the name of Tachmonite, from his wisdom, as the Jewish writers say; but in the council of war, where he presided under the general, or in his absence, and was, perhaps, lieutenant general, and so over all the captains; and therefore was neither David nor Joab, to whom some of the Rabbins apply these words, as observed by Kimchi; or rather he was the chief of the three to whom he belonged; his name, in 1 Chronicles 11:11, is Jashobeam, an Hachmonite, or the son of an Hachmonite, the same as in 1 Chronicles 27:2; and here it may be as well read Josheb-bashebeth the Tachmonite, the same name, with a little variation; which seem to be names given him, taken from his character and office; for his proper name was as follows:

the same was Adino the Eznite: so called either from the family he was of, or from the place of his birth; though a learned man thinks it should be read as in the following supplement (q):

he lifted up his spear against eight hundred, whom he slew at one time; which, though a very extraordinary exploit, yet not more strange, or so strange as that of Shamgar's slaying six hundred men with an ox goad, Judges 3:31, or as that of Samson's killing a thousand men with the jawbone of an ass, Judges 15:15, in 1 Chronicles 11:11, the number is only three hundred, which some attempt to reconcile by observing, that not the same person is meant in both places; here he is called Joshebbashebeth, there Jashobeam; here the Tachmonite, there the son of an Hachmonite; nor is he there called Adino the Eznite; but yet it seems plain that in both places the chief of the three worthies of David is meant, and so the same man: others observe, that he engaged with eight hundred, and slew three hundred of them, when the rest fled, and were pursued and killed by his men; and he routing them, and being the occasion of their being slain, the slaying of them all is ascribed to him; or he first slew three hundred, and five hundred more coming upon him, he slew them also: but what Kimchi offers seems to be best, that there were two battles, in which this officer was engaged; at one of them he slew eight hundred, and at the other three hundred; for so what is omitted in the books of Samuel, and of the Kings, is frequently supplied in the books of Chronicles, as what one evangelist in the New Testament omits, another records. The above learned writer (r) conjectures, that being the first letter of the words for three and eight, and the numeral letter being here reduced to its word at length, through a mistake in the copier, was written "eight", instead of "three": the Septuagint version is,"he drew out his spear against eight hundred soldiers at once,''and says nothing of slaying them; and seems to be the true sense of the word, as the same learned writer (s) has abundantly shown.

(q) Kennicott's Dissert. 1. so Hillerus in Onomastic. Sacr. p. 230, 231, renders it, "the glory of the spear or spearmen stood against eight hundred", &c. and Weemse, "his delight was to lift up his spear". Exercitat. 16. p. 137. (r) P. 96. (s) P. 103.

These be the names of the mighty men whom David had: The Tachmonite that sat in the {e} seat, chief among the captains; the same was Adino the Eznite: he lift up his spear against eight hundred, whom he slew at one time.

(e) As one of the king's counsel.

8–12. The first Three

8. the mighty men] Used here in a narrower sense, not of the whole body-guard of six hundred. See note on ch. 2 Samuel 15:18.

The Tachmonite that sat in the seat] The text is corrupt, and we must follow 1 Chronicles 11:11 in reading Jashobeam the Hachmonite. He joined David at Ziklag (1 Chronicles 12:6), and was afterwards made general of the first division of the army (1 Chronicles 27:2). Jehiel, the tutor of the king’s sons, belonged to the same family (1 Chronicles 27:32).

chief among the captains] The word translated captains probably means aides-de-camp, or personal attendants on the king. See 1 Kings 9:22 (E. V. captains); 2 Kings 7:2; 2 Kings 7:17; 2 Kings 7:19 (E. V. lord), 2 Kings 9:25, 2 Kings 10:25, 2 Kings 15:25. But it is possible that we should alter the text slightly, and read chief of the three (Vulg., E. V., marg.). Cp. 2 Samuel 23:23. In fact all through this section there is a constant confusion between the words for captain or aide-de-camp, three, and thirty, which are all closely similar in the Heb.

the same was Adino the Eznite] These words are probably a corruption of some words equivalent to those in 1 Chronicles 11:11, which are needed to complete the sense here: he brandished his spear. The Sept. reads “Adinon the Asonæan, he drew his sword.”

eight hundred] Chr. reads three hundred, perhaps by confusion with 2 Samuel 23:18. There is no ground for supposing that two different occasions are referred to.

slew at one time] With the help perhaps of some of his men. Yet cp. Jdg 3:31; Jdg 15:15.

8–39. David’s Heroes and their exploits

 = 1 Chronicles 11:11-41This section is placed in Chronicles after the account of David’s election as King of Israel and his capture of Zion, and is prefaced by the heading: “These also are the chief of the mighty men whom David had, who shewed themselves strong with him in his kingdom with all Israel, to make him king, according to the word of the Lord concerning Israel.” The list therefore belongs, at any rate in substance, to the earlier part of David’s reign.

Verse 8. - These be the names. A similar list is given in 1 Chronicles 11:10-47, with several variations, and sixteen more names. It is given there in connection with David's elevation to the throne of all Israel, and the conquest of Jerusalem. Such catalogues might possibly be revised from time to time, and new names inserted as there were vacancies caused by death. And this seems to have been the case with the list in Chronicles, which contains the names of all who were admitted during David's reign into the order of the mighties. The present is the actual list of the order as it existed on the day when David, at Hebron, was anointed king over all the twelve tribes. And we can well conceive that, on so grand an occasion, David founded this, the first order of chivalry, and gave his thirty knights, as they would be now called, their special rank and high privileges. The Tachmonite. This verse is extremely corrupt. A man could not be a Tachmonite and an Eznite at the same time. In the Revised Version the corruption is confessed in the mildest terms, but there is something painfully ludicrous in giving Josheb-basshebeth as the man's name. The reading "Jashobeam the son of a Hachmonite," in 1 Chronicles 11:11, is confirmed by 1 Chronicles 12:6, where Jashobeam is mentioned among those who joined David at Ziklag, and by 1 Chronicles 27:2, where we find him appointed commander of the first brigade of twenty-four thousand men. The error in the present text arose from the scribe's eye being misled by catching sight of basshebeth in the line above, it being the word translated "in the same place" in the Authorized Version. He Adino the Eznite. These unmeaning words are a corruption of the right reading preserved in Chronicles, "he lifted up his spear." The number of men whom he slew at one time is there stated as having been three hundred; but, as Abishai accomplished this feat, and yet held only inferior rank, eight hundred is probably right. And possibly it is not meant that he slew them all with his own hand, though that is quite possible. He was chief of the captains. The word for "captain," shalish, is derived from the numeral "three;" and probably it was the title of the three who formed the first rank of the mighties. But in course of time it seems to have been applied to the commanders of the body guard (2 Kings 10:25); and we find Bidcar so styled when in personal attendance upon Jehu (2 Kings 9:25); and Pekah used the opportunities afforded by this office for the murder of Pekahiah (2 Kings 15:25). It is not used of military officers generally. Those admitted to the list were evidently the outlaws . who had been with David in his wanderings and at Ziklag. They now received their reward, and became, moreover, the stay of David's throne. It is their past history which accounts for the strange composition of the list. A large number came from Judah, and especially from Bethlehem. Several are David's own relatives. Seven towns or families furnish sixteen out of the whole list. We find a father and his son, and pairs of brothers. There are, moreover, numerous foreigners - Hittites, Ammonites, Moabites, a Syrian from Zobah, and Gideonites, descended from the aboriginal inhabitants of the land. Such a list would have been sorely resented had it not been formed out of men who had earned it by their past services and their fidelity to David. 2 Samuel 23:8The following list of David's heroes we also find in 1 Chronicles 11:10-47, and expanded at the end by sixteen names (1 Chronicles 11:41-47), and attached in 1 Chronicles 11:10 to the account of the conquest of the fortress of Zion by the introduction of a special heading. According to this heading, the heroes named assisted David greatly in his kingdom, along with all Israel, to make him king, from which it is evident that the chronicler intended by this heading to justify his appending the list to the account of the election of David as king over all the tribes of Israel (1 Chronicles 11:1), and of the conquest of Zion, which followed immediately afterwards. In every other respect the two lists agree with one another, except that there are a considerable number of errors of the text, more especially in the names, which are frequently corrupt in both texts, to that the true reading cannot be determined with certainty. The heroes enumerated are divided into three classes. The first class consists of three, viz., Jashobeam, Eleazar, and Shammah, of whom certain brave deeds are related, by which they reached the first rank among David's heroes (2 Samuel 23:8-12). They were followed by Abishai and Benaiah, who were in the second class, and who had also distinguished themselves above the rest by their brave deeds, though they did not come up to the first three (2 Samuel 23:18-23). The others all belonged to the third class, which consisted of thirty-two men, of whom no particular heroic deeds are mentioned (vv. 24-39). Twelve of these, viz., the five belonging to the first two classes and seven of the third, were appointed by David commanders of the twelve detachments into which he divided the army, each detachment to serve for one month in the year (1 Chronicles 27). These heroes, among whom we do not find Joab the commander-in-chief of the whole of the forces, were the king's aides-de-camp, and are called in this respect השּׁלשׁי (2 Samuel 23:8), though the term השּׁלשׁים (the thirty, 2 Samuel 23:13, 2 Samuel 23:23, 2 Samuel 23:24) was also a very customary one, as their number amounted to thirty in a round sum. It is possible that at first they may have numbered exactly thirty; for, from the very nature of the case, we may be sure than in the many wars in which David was engaged, other heroes must have arisen at different times, who would be received into the corps already formed. This will explain the addition of sixteen names in the Chronicles, whether the chronicler made us of a different list from that employed by the author of the books before us, and one belonging to a later age, or whether the author of our books merely restricted himself to a description of the corps in its earlier condition.

2 Samuel 23:8-12

Heroes of the first class. - The short heading to our text, with which the list in the Chronicles also beings (1 Chronicles 11:11), simply gives the name of these heroes. But instead of "the names of the mighty men," we have in the Chronicles "the number of the mighty men." This variation is all the more striking, from the fact that in the Chronicles the total number is not given at the close of the list as it is in our text. At the same time, it can hardly be a copyist's error for מבחר (selection), as Bertheau supposes, but must be attributable to the fact that, according to 2 Samuel 23:13, 2 Samuel 23:23, and 2 Samuel 23:24, these heroes constituted a corps which was named from the number of which it originally consisted. The first, Jashobeam, is called "the chief of the thirty" in the Chronicles. Instead of ישׁבעם (Jashobeam), the reading in the Chronicles, we have here בּשּׁבת ישׁב (Josheb-basshebeth), unquestionably a spurious reading, which probably arose, according to Kennicott's conjecture, from the circumstance that the last two letters of ישׁבעם were written in one MS under בּשּׁבת in the line above (2 Samuel 23:7), and a copyist took בשׁבת from that line by mistake for עם. The correctness of the reading Jashobeam is established by 1 Chronicles 27:2. The word תּחכּמני is also faulty, and should be corrected, according to the Chronicles, into בּן־חכמוני (Ben-hachmoni); for the statement that Jashobeam was a son (or descendant) of the family of Hachmon (1 Chronicles 27:32) can easily be reconciled with that in 1 Chronicles 27:2, to the effect that he was a son of Zabdiel. Instead of השּׁלשׁים ראשׁ (head of the thirty), the reading in the Chronicles, we have here השּׁלשׁי ראשׁ (head of the three). Bertheau would alter our text in accordance with the Chronicles, whilst Thenius proposes to bring the text of the Chronicles into accordance with ours. But although the many unquestionable corruptions in the verse before us may appear to favour Bertheau's assumption, we cannot regard either of the emendations as necessary, or even warrantable. The proposed alteration of השּׁלשׁי is decidedly precluded by the recurrence of השּׁלשׁי ראשׁ in 2 Samuel 23:18, and the alteration of השּׁלשׁים in the Chronicles by the repeated allusion to the שׁלשׁים, not only in 2 Samuel 23:15, 42; 2 Samuel 12:4, and 1 Chronicles 27:6 of the Chronicles, but also in 2 Samuel 23:13, 2 Samuel 23:23, and 2 Samuel 23:24 of the chapter before us. The explanation given of שׁלשׁי and שׁלשׁים, as signifying chariot-warriors, is decidedly erroneous;

(Note: This explanation, which we find in Gesenius (Thes. and Lex.) and Bertheau, rests upon no other authority than the testimony of Origen, to the effect that an obscure writer gives this interpretation of τριστάτης, the rendering of שׁלישׁ, an authority which is completely overthrown by the writer of the gloss in Octateuch. (Schleussner, Lex. in lxx t. v. p. 338), who gives this explanation of τριστάτας: τοὺς παρὰ χεῖρα τοῦ βασιλέως ἀριστερὰν τρίτης μοίρας ἄρχοντας. Suidas and Hesychius give the same explanation (s. v. τριστάται). Jerome also observes (ad Ezekiel 23): "It is the name of the second rank next to the king.")

for the singular השּׁלישׁ is used in all the passages in which the word occurs to signify the royal aide-de-camp (2 Kings 7:2, 2 Kings 7:17, 2 Kings 7:19; 2 Kings 9:25; 2 Kings 15:25), and the plural שׁלישׁים the royal body-guard, not only in 2 Kings 15:25, but even in 1 Kings 9:22, and Exodus 14:7; Exodus 15:4, from which the meaning chariot-warriors has been derived. Consequently השּׁלשׁי ראשׁ is the head of the king's aides-de-camp, and the interchange of השּׁלשׁי with the השּׁלשׁים of the Chronicles may be explained on the simple ground that David's thirty heroes formed his whole body of adjutants. The singular שׁלשׁי is to be explained in the same manner as הכּרתי (see at 2 Samuel 8:18). Luther expresses the following opinion in his marginal gloss with regard to the words which follow (העצנו עדינו הוּא עדינו): "We believe the text to have been corrupted by a writer, probably from some book in an unknown character and bad writing, so that orer should be substituted for adino, and ha-eznib for eth hanitho:" that is to say, the reading in the Chronicles, "he swung his spear," should be adopted (cf. 2 Samuel 23:18). This supposition is certainly to be preferred to the attempt made by Gesenius (Lex.) and v. Dietrich (s. v. עדין) to find some sense in the words by assuming the existence of a verb עדּן and a noun עצן, a spear, since these words do not occur anywhere else in Hebrew; and in order to obtain any appropriate sense, it is still necessary to resort to alterations of the text. "He swung his spear over eight hundred slain at once." This is not to be understood as signifying that he killed eight hundred men at one blow, but that in a battle he threw his spear again and again at the foe, until eight hundred men had been slain. The Chronicles give three hundred instead of eight hundred; and as that number occurs again in 2 Samuel 23:18, in the case of Abishai, it probably found its way from that verse into this in the book of Chronicles.

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