2 Samuel 8:18
And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over both the Cherethites and the Pelethites; and David's sons were chief rulers.
Jump to: BarnesBensonBICambridgeClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsJFBKDKingLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWParkerPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBWESTSK
(18) The Cherethites and the Pelethites.—These bodies of men, here mentioned for the first time, afterwards appear frequently, constituting the most trusted part of the king’s army, and forming his especial body-guard (2Samuel 15:18; 2Samuel 20:7; 2Samuel 20:23; 1Kings 1:38; 1Kings 1:44; 1Chronicles 18:17). Benaiah, who commanded them, a hero from Kabzeel (2Samuel 23:20), was afterwards promoted by Solomon to be general-in-chief (1Kings 2:35). But the meaning of the words, “the Che-rethites and the Pelethites,” has been much disputed. On the one hand it is urged that the form of the name indicates a tribal designation, and that there was a tribe of Cherethites living south of Philistia (1Samuel 30:14), who are also mentioned in connection with the Philistines in Ezekiel 25:16; Zephaniah 2:5. Besides, these names appear as those of bodies of troops only during the reign of David, and the objection that he would have been unlikely to employ foreign mercenaries may be met by the supposition that they had embraced the religion of Israel. On the other hand, the Chaldee (“archers and slingers) and Syriac (“nobles and Tustics”) understood them as appellatives, and it is said that they should properly be translated “executioners and runners,” such offices falling to the chief troops in all Oriental armies; no tribe of “Pelethites” is known, and in 2Samuel 20:23 the expression translated “Cherethites and Pelethites” has another form for “Cherethites,” which again occurs with “Pelethites” in 2Kings 11:4; 2Kings 11:19, and is translated “the captains and the guard.” The question does not seem to admit of positive determination.

Chief rulers.—So these words are rendered in all the ancient versions except the Vulg., and the same term is applied in 1Kings 4:5 to Zabud, with the explanation “the king’s friend,” and also in 2Samuel 20:26 to Ira, “a chief ruler about (literally, at the side of) David.” The word, however (cohen), is the one generally used for “priest,” and there seems here to be a reminiscence in the word of that early time when the chief civil and ecclesiastical offices were united in the head of the family or tribe. Such use of the word had become now almost obsolete, and quite so in the time when the Chronicles were written, since they substitute here (1Chronicles 18:17) “chief about (literally, at the hand of) the king.” For this change in the use of the word, “exact analogies may be found in ecclesiastical words, as bishop, priest, deacon, minister, and many others.”—Speaker’s Commentary.

2 Samuel 8:18. Benaiah, &c. — Benaiah was one of David’s three worthies of the second order; eminent for many great exploits, of which three only are recounted by the sacred historian. Was over both the Cherethites and the Pelethites — These were undoubtedly soldiers of some kind, and even such as were eminent for their valour and fidelity to the king, as is evident from 2 Samuel 15:18; 2 Samuel 20:7; and 1 Kings 1:38; 1 Kings 1:44; yet they were not common soldiers, but probably the constant guards of David’s person; like the Prætorian bands among the Romans. Josephus calls them keepers of the body, or body-guards, who never departed from the place where the king was. That Cherethites is sometimes another word for Philistines, appears plainly from Zephaniah 2:5, and Ezekiel 25:16; But, “that David’s guards were native Philistines, of his mortal enemies, is not to be imagined, even although we should suppose them proselytes. For how could their being proselyted more effectually recommend the fidelity of any men to him than being natives of his own country, and known and tried subjects? The only question, then, is, why any of his own subjects should be called Cherethites; and the answer is obvious. They were called so from their having gone with him into Philistia, and continued there with him all the time that he was under the protection of Achish. These were they who resorted to him from the beginning, in his utmost distress; and clave to him in all his calamities; and it is no wonder if men of such approved fidelity were in a more intimate degree of favour and confidence with the king, and enjoyed, among other privileges, an exemption from the authority of the captain-general, and were placed under peculiar commanders. And it will be no uncommon thing in the history of any country, to find legions and bands of soldiers, denominated, not from the place of their nativity, but that of their residence; as General Monk’s troops, who sojourned with him in Scotland, were called Coldstreamers.” — Delaney. The same author apprehends the Pelethites to have been another body of troops, made up of those valiant men who resorted to David when he resided at Ziklag, among whom we find one Pelet, the son of Azmaveth, (1 Chronicles 12:3,) who, it is supposed, became their captain, and from whom they were called Pelethites, as the soldiers disciplined by Fabius and Iphicrates were called Fabians and Iphicratians. “Now, as the Cherethites adhered to David and followed his fortune from the beginning, they justly held the first degree of favour with him, and therefore they are always placed before the Pelethites, who only resorted to him when he was in Ziklag; and for that reason were only entitled to the second degree of favour.” See 1 Samuel 30:14. It must be observed, however, that the Chaldee interpretation of these terms is, archers and slingers, an interpretation which is defended by a learned professor abroad, deriving the name Cherethite from Caratha, which, in the Arabic language, signifies to hit the mark, and Pelethite, from pelet, which in the same language, among other things, signifies to be alert, to leap, to run swiftly. The latter, therefore, he thinks, were soldiers chosen for their speed, and were light armed, like the Roman velites, who, with their other weapons, carried very light arrows, which were called pelles, and the use of which came from the East. And David’s sons were chief rulers — For so the Hebrew word, כהנים, cohanim, generally translated priests, must often be interpreted. Indeed it signifies any ministers, either of God or of man. David’s sons, being of the tribe of Judah, and not of the posterity of Aaron, could not be priests, according to the law. But they were among the principal officers of his court, the prime ministers of his household. Upon the whole, we find by this chapter that so long as David was zealous for the honour of God, and faithful in the discharge of his duty, God defended and protected him against his enemies, and blessed him with glory and happiness; but the scene changed when he provoked God by his sins, as we see in the sequel of his history.

8:15-18 David neither did wrong, nor denied or delayed right to any. This speaks his close application to business; also his readiness to admit all addresses and appeals made to him. He had no respect of persons in judgment. Herein he was a type of Christ. To Him let us submit, his friendship let us seek, his service let us count our pleasure, diligently attending to the work he assigns to each of us. David made his sons chief rulers; but all believers, Christ's spiritual seed, are better preferred, for they are made kings and priests to our God, Re 1:6.The Cherethites and the Pelethites - See the marginal reference note.

Chief rulers - The word כהן kôhên, here rendered a "chief ruler," is the regular word for a priest. In the early days of the monarchy the word כהן kôhên had not quite lost its etymological sense, from the root meaning to minister, or manage affairs, though in later times its technical sense alone survived.

18. Cherethites—that is, Philistines (Zep 2:5).

Pelethites—from Pelet (1Ch 12:3). They were the valiant men who, having accompanied David during his exile among the Philistines, were made his bodyguard.

Was over: these words are supplied out of the parallel place, 1 Chronicles 18:17, and out of 2 Samuel 20:23, where they are expressed.

The Cherethites and Pelethites were undoubtedly soldiers, and such as were eminent for their valour and fidelity to the king, as is evident from 2 Samuel 15:18 20:7 1 Kings 1:38,44; and most probably they were the king’s guards, which consisted of these two bands, who might be distinguished either by their several weapons, or by the differing time or manner of their service. They are supposed to be thus called, either, first, from their office, which was upon the king’s command to cut off or punish offenders, and to preserve the king’s person, as their names in the Hebrew tongue may seem to imply; or, secondly, from some country or place to which they had relation. As for the Cherethites, it is certain they were either a branch of the Philistines, or a people neighbouring to them, and confederate with them, as is manifest from 1 Samuel 30:14 Ezekiel 25:16 Zephaniah 2:4,5. And so might the Pelethites be too, though that be not related in Scripture. And these Israelites and soldiers of David might be so called, either because they went and lived with David when he dwelt in those parts; or from some notable exploit against or victory over these people; as among the Romans the names of Asiaticus, Africanus, &c. were given for the same reason. One of their exploits against the Cherethites is in part related 1 Samuel 30:14. And it is likely they did many other against them, and against other people, amongst which the Pelethites might be one.

Were chief rulers; had the places of greatest. authority and dignity conferred upon them.

And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over both the Cherethites and Pelethites,.... These, according to Josephus (k), were the king's bodyguards, and this man is expressly said to be set over his guards, 2 Samuel 23:22; and which some think were of the nation of the Philistines, famous for archery, and slinging of stones; and so the Targum renders it,"was appointed over the archers and slingers;''so "choriti" in Virgil (l) are quivers for arrows; the great use of which in fighting David had observed, and therefore got a select company of these men, partly to teach Israel, and partly to guard himself: but others are of opinion that David would never suffer such as were Heathens to be so near his person, and therefore take them to be Israelites; and so some Jewish writers say they were two families in Israel; which is much better than to interpret them as others do of the sanhedrim, and even of the Urim and Thummim, as in the Targum on 1 Chronicles 18:17; See Gill on Zephaniah 2:5; and it is most probable that they were Israelites, who were David's guards, and consisted of the chiefs that were with him in Philistia, and particularly at Ziklag, which lay on the south of the Cherethites, 1 Samuel 30:14; and so had their name from thence; and among the chief of those that came to him at Ziklag there was one named Peleth, from whence might come the Pelethites, and they were all of them archers; see 1 Chronicles 12:2,

and David's sons were chief rulers; princes, princes of the blood, or "chief about the king", as in 1 Chronicles 18:17; they were constant attendants at court, waiting on the king, ready at hand to do what he pleased to order; they were the chief ministers, and had the management of the principal affairs at court. Abarbinel thinks that this respects not only David's sons, but Benaiah, and the family of the Cherethites and Pelethites, who had none of them particular posts assigned them, which were settled and known, as those before mentioned had, but were always near at hand, to do whatsoever the king commanded them; and which seems better to agree with the literal order and construction of the words; which are:

and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and the Cherethites, and Pelethites,

and the sons of David, were princes, or chief rulers; or priests, who according to Gussetius (m) brought the offerings or presents to the king, and did that to him the priests did to the Lord.

(k) Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 7. c. 5. sect.4.) (l) Aeneid. 10. (m) Ebr. Comment. p. 366.

And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over both the {h} Cherethites and the Pelethites; and David's sons were chief rulers.

(h) The Cherethites and Pelethites were as the king's guard, and had charge of his person.

18. Benaiah] See note on ch. 2 Samuel 23:20.

was over] Over is not in the Heb. text, and must be supplied from Chr. But possibly there is some further defect, for the Sept. reads “Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was counsellor.” Cp. note on ch. 2 Samuel 23:23.

the Cherethites and the Pelethites] The first reference to these troops, which are mentioned by this name during the reign of David only. They seem to have formed the king’s body-guard. See ch. 2 Samuel 15:18, 2 Samuel 20:7; 2 Samuel 20:23; 1 Kings 1:38; 1 Kings 1:44; 1 Chronicles 18:17. Two explanations of the names have been proposed: (1) that they mean executioners and runners, it being the duty of the royal guards to execute sentence (see Genesis 37:36 marg.; 1 Kings 2:25), and to convey the king’s orders from place to place (see 2 Chronicles 30:6): (2) that they are the names of two Philistine tribes, the body-guard being composed of foreign mercenaries, like the Pope’s Swiss guard. In favour of the latter explanation it may be urged (a) that the names are gentilic in form; (b) that Cherethites certainly denotes a Philistine tribe in the other passages where it occurs (1 Samuel 30:14; Ezekiel 25:16; Zephaniah 2:5); (c) that they are mentioned in conjunction with the Gittites in ch. 2 Samuel 15:18, so that David evidently had some foreign troops in his service, whom he had gathered round him during his residence at Ziklag.

chief rulers] Ministers. The word is that usually translated priest. It is derived from a root meaning to serve or minister, and in a few instances denotes a civil not an ecclesiastical minister, the king’s confidential adviser. Cp. the paraphrase in 1 Chronicles 18:17 “chief by the side of the king;” and 1 Kings 4:5, where the E. V. renders “principal officer.”

Verse 18. - The Cherethites and the Pelethites. As we have already seen (1 Samuel 30:14), the Cherethim were an insignificant tribe inhabiting the southern part of the country of the Philistines. Nor is that place the only proof of this fact; for they are connected with the Philistines also in Ezekiel 25:16 and Zephaniah 2:5. David made their acquaintance when at Ziklag; and probably the Pelethim dwelt in the same neighbourhood, and were a still more unimportant clan or family. Much ingenuity has been expended in finding for their names a Hebrew derivation, and Gesenius explains them as meaning "cutters and runners," though for the latter signification he has to go to the Arabic, where he finds a verb falata, "to run away," "flee." But this craze of explaining the names of aboriginal tribes and their towns by Hebrew words is not only absurd in itself, but bars the way to sounder knowledge. For it is possible that, by the study of names not belonging to the Hebrew language, we might arrive at some correct ideas about the races who had previously occupied Palestine. Instead of this, the whole system of derivation is corrupted, and philology made ridiculous. What can be more ludicrous than to explain these Pelethim as "runners away," unless it be the notion that the Rephaim took their name from the Hebrew word for "a ghost"? In his "mighties" David had a powerful bodyguard of native Israelites, and Saul previously had formed a similar force of three thousand men, not merely for the protection of his own person, but to guard the land from marauding incursions of Amalekites and other freebooting tribes. Such a body of men was of primary importance for police purposes and the safety of the frontiers. How useful such a force would be we can well understand from the history of the marches between England and Scotland (see also note on 2 Samuel 3:22); but I imagine that the Cherethites and Pelethites were used for humbler purposes. While "the mighties" guarded the frontiers, and kept the peace of the kingdom, these men would be used about the court and in Jerusalem, to execute the commands of the king and his great officers. Native Israelites would refuse such servile work, and the conquered Canaanites might become dangerous if trained and armed; while these foreigners, like the Swiss Guard in France, would be trustworthy and efficient. As for the true-born Israelites, they probably did not form the mass of the population, but, like the Franks in France, were the privileged and dominant race. We read that even from Egypt, besides their own dependents, there went up with Israel "a great mixture" (Exodus 12:38, margin). In Numbers 11:4 these are even contemptuously designated by a word which answers to our "omnium gatherum;" yet even they, after the conquest of Palestine, would be higher in rank than the subjugated Canaanites, from whom, together with another "mixed multitude" spoken of in Nehemiah 13:3, are descended the felahin of the present day. David's armies would be drawn from the Israelites, among whom were now reckoned the mixed multitude which went up from Egypt, and which was ennobled by taking part in the conquest of Canaan. In the army "the mighties" would hold the chief place; while the mercenaries, recruited from Ziklag and its neighbourhood, which continued to be David's private property (1 Samuel 27:6), would be most useful in the discharge of all kinds of administrative duty, and would also guard the king's person. In 2 Samuel 20:23 for Cherethi we find Cheri, which word also occurs in 2 Kings 11:4, 19. In the former passage the spelling is a mistake, the letter t having dropped out, and it is so regarded by the Jews, who read "Cherethi." The versions also translate there just as they do here, namely the Vulgate and LXX., "Cherethi and Pelethi;" and the Syriac by two nouns of somewhat similar sound to the Hebrew, and which signify "freemen and soldiers." In the latter place in Kings it is probable that some other tribe supplied the bodyguard in Queen Athaliah's time. David's sons were chief rulers; Hebrew and Revised Version, priests. Similarly, in ch. 20:26, "Ira the Jairite was David's priest," Hebrew, cohen; and in 1 Kings 4:5, "Zabud was Solomon's priest." Gesenius and others suppose that they were domestic chaplains, not ministering according to the Levitical law, but invested with a sort of sacerdotal sacredness in honour of their birth. But if we look again at 1 Kings 4:5 we find "Zabud was priest, the king's friend;" and the latter words seem to be an explanation of the title cohen, added because the word in this sense was already becoming obsolete. In 1 Chronicles 18:17 the language is completely changed, and we read, "and David's sons were chief at the king's hand." We may feel sure that the Chronicler knew what was the meaning of the phrase in the Books of Samuel, and that he was also aware that it had gone out of use, and therefore gave instead the right sense. Evidently the word cohen had at first a wider significance, and meant a "minister and confidant." He was the officer who stood next to his master, and knew his purpose and saw to its execution. And this was the meaning of the term when applied to the confidential minister of Jehovah, whose duty it was to execute his will according to the commands given in the Law; but when so used it gradually became too sacred for ordinary employment. Still, there is a divinity about a king, and so his confidants and the officers nearest to his person were still called cohens; and we find the phrase lingering on for another century and a half. For Jehu puts to death, not only Ahab's great men and kinsfolk, but also "his cohens," the men who had been his intimate friends (2 Kings 10:11).

2 Samuel 8:18Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, a very brave hero of Kabzeel (see at 2 Samuel 23:20.), was over the Crethi and Plethi. Instead of והכּרתי, which gives no sense, and must be connected in some way with 1 Kings 1:38, 1 Kings 1:44, we must read הכּרתי על according to the parallel passage 2 Samuel 20:23, and the corresponding text of the Chronicles. The Crethi and Plethi were the king's body-guard, σωματοφύλακες (Josephus, Ant. vii. 5, 4). The words are adjectives in form, but with a substantive meaning, and were used to indicate a certain rank, lit. the executioners and runners, like השּׁלישׁי (2 Samuel 23:8). כּרתי, from כּרת, to cut down or exterminate, signifies confessor, because among the Israelites (see at 1 Kings 2:25), as in fact throughout the East generally, the royal halberdiers had to execute the sentence of death upon criminals. פּלתי, from פלת (to fly, or be swift), is related to פּלט, and signifies runners. It is equivalent to רץ, a courier, as one portion of the halberdiers, like the ἄγγαροι of the Persians, had to convey the king's orders to distant places (vid., 2 Chronicles 30:6). This explanation is confirmed by the fact that the epithet והרצים הכּדי was afterwards applied to the king's body-guard (2 Kings 11:4, 2 Kings 11:19), and that הכּרי for הכּרתי occurs as early as 2 Samuel 20:23.

כּרי, from כוּר, fodit, perfodit, is used in the same sense.

(Note: Gesenius (Thes. s. vv.) and Thenius (on 1 Kings 1:38) both adopt this explanation; but the majority of the modern theologians decide in favour of Lakemacher's opinion, to which Ewald has given currency, viz., that the Crethi or Cari are Cretes or Carians, and the Pelethi Philistines (vid., Ewald, Krit. Gramm. p. 297, and Gesch. des Volkes Israel, pp. 330ff.; Bertheau, zur Geschichte Israel, p. 197; Movers, Phnizier i. p. 19). This view is chiefly founded upon the fact that the Philistines are called C'rethi in 1 Samuel 30:14, and C'rethim in Zephaniah 2:5 and Ezekiel 25:16. But in both the passages from the prophets the name is used with special reference to the meaning of the word הכרית, viz., to exterminate, cut off, as Jerome has shown in the case of Ezekiel by adopting the rendering interficiam interfectores (I will slay the slayers) for את־כּרתים הכרתּי. The same play upon the words takes place in Zephaniah, upon which Strauss has correctly observed: "Zephaniah shows that this violence of theirs had not been forgotten, calling the Philistines Crethim for that very reason, ut sit nomen et omen." Besides, in both these passages the true name Philistines stands by the side as well, so that the prophets might have used the name Crethim (slayers, exterminators) without thinking at all of 1 Samuel 30:14. In this passage it is true the name Crethi is applied to a branch of the Philistine people that had settled on the south-west of Philistia, and not to the Philistines generally. The idea that the name of a portion of the royal body-guard was derived from the Cretans is precluded, first of all, by the fact of its combination with הפּלתי (the Pelethites); for it is a totally groundless assumption that this name signifies the Philistines, and is a corruption of פלשׁתּים. There are no such contractions as these to be found in the Semitic languages, as Gesenius observes in his Thesaurus (l.c.), "quis hujusmodi contractionem in linguis Semiticis ferat?" Secondly, it is also precluded by the strangeness of such a combination of two synonymous names to denote the royal body-guard. "Who could believe it possible that two synonymous epithets should be joined together in this manner, which would be equivalent to saying Englishmen and Britons?" (Ges. Thes. p. 1107). Thirdly, it is opposed to the title afterwards given to the body-guard, והרצים הכּרי (2 Kings 11:4, 2 Kings 11:19), in which the Cari correspond to the Crethi, as in 2 Samuel 20:23, and ha-razim to the Pelethi; so that the term pelethi can no more signify a particular tribe than the term razim can. Moreover, there are other grave objections to this interpretation. In the first place, the hypothesis that the Philistines were emigrants from Crete is merely founded upon the very indefinite statements of Tacitus (Hist. v. 3, 2), "Judaeos Creta insula profugos novissima Libyae insedisse memorant," and that of Steph. Byz. (s. v. Γαζά), to the effect that the city of Gaza was once called Minoa, from Minos a king of Crete, - statements which, according to the correct estimate of Strauss (l.c.), "have all so evidently the marks of fables that they hardly merit discussion," at all events when opposed to the historical testimony of the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 2:23; Amos 9:7), to the effect that the Philistines sprang from Caphtor. And secondly, "it is a priori altogether improbable, that a man with so patriotic a heart, and so devoted to the worship of the one God, should have surrounded himself with a foreign and heathen body-guard" (Thenius). This argument cannot be invalidated by the remark "that it is well known that at all times kings and princes have preferred to commit the protection of their persons to foreign mercenaries, having, as they thought, all the surer pledge of their devotedness in the fact that they did not spring from the nation, and were dependent upon the ruler alone" (Hitzig). For, in the first place, the expression "at all times" is one that must be very greatly modified; and secondly, this was only done by kings who did not feel safe in the presence of their own people, which was not the case with David. And the Philistines, those arch-foes of Israel, would have been the last nation that David would have gone to for the purpose of selecting his own body-guard. It is true that he himself had met with a hospitable reception in the land of the Philistines; but it must be borne in mind that it was not as king of Israel that he found refuge there, but as an outlaw flying from Saul the king of Israel, and even then the chiefs of the Philistines would not trust him (1 Samuel 29:3.). And when Hitzig appeals still further to the fact, that according to 2 Samuel 18:2, David handed over the command of a third of his army to a foreigner who had recently entered his service, having emigrated from Gath with a company of his fellow-countrymen (2 Samuel 15:19-20, 2 Samuel 15:22), and who had displayed the greatest attachment to the person of David (2 Samuel 15:21), it is hardly necessary to observe that the fact of David's welcoming a brave soldier into his army, when he had come over to Israel, and placing him over a division of the army, after he had proved his fidelity so decidedly as Ittai had at the time of Absalom's rebellion, is no proof that he chose his body-guard from the Philistines. Nor can 2 Samuel 15:18 be adduced in support of this, as the notion that, according to that passage, David had 600 Gathites in his service as body-guard, is simply founded upon a misinterpretation of the passage mentioned.)

And David's sons were כּהנים ("confidants"); not priests, domestic priests, court chaplains, or spiritual advisers, as Gesenius, De Wette, and others maintain, but, as the title is explained in the corresponding text of the Chronicles, when the title had become obsolete, "the first at the hand (or side) of the king." The correctness of this explanation is placed beyond the reach of doubt by 1 Kings 4:5, where the cohen is called, by way of explanation, "the king's friend." The title cohen may be explained from the primary signification of the verb כּהן, as shown in the corresponding verb and noun in Arabic ("res alicujus gerere," and "administrator alieni negotii"). These cohanim, therefore, were the king's confidential advisers.

2 Samuel 8:18 Interlinear
2 Samuel 8:18 Parallel Texts

2 Samuel 8:18 NIV
2 Samuel 8:18 NLT
2 Samuel 8:18 ESV
2 Samuel 8:18 NASB
2 Samuel 8:18 KJV

2 Samuel 8:18 Bible Apps
2 Samuel 8:18 Parallel
2 Samuel 8:18 Biblia Paralela
2 Samuel 8:18 Chinese Bible
2 Samuel 8:18 French Bible
2 Samuel 8:18 German Bible

Bible Hub

2 Samuel 8:17
Top of Page
Top of Page