2 Samuel 5
Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Then came all the tribes of Israel to David unto Hebron, and spake, saying, Behold, we are thy bone and thy flesh.
Ch. 2 Samuel 5:1-5. David anointed king over all Israel

2 Samuel 5:1-3 = 1 Chronicles 11:1-31. Then came, &c.] It is probable that no long interval elapsed between the death of Ish-bosheth and the election of David. “The consummation to which events in God’s Providence had been leading was now come. Saul and Jonathan, Abner and Ish-bosheth, were all dead; there was no one of the house of Saul capable of taking the lead; David was already head of a very large portion of Israel; the Philistines, and perhaps the remnants of the Canaanites, were restless and threatening; and it was obviously the interest of the Israelitish nation to unite themselves under the sovereignty of the valiant and virtuous son of Jesse, their former deliverer, and the man designated by the word of God as their Captain and Shepherd.” Speaker’s Comm.

all the tribes of Israel] The ‘congregation of Israel,’ or national assembly composed of all the warriors of the nation above the age of twenty who chose to come, met to elect David king. See note on 1 Samuel 10:17.

we are thy bone and thy flesh] An expression denoting close relationship in virtue of common descent. Cp. Genesis 29:14; Jdg 9:2.

Three reasons, arranged in the order of their importance, are given for electing David king: the tie of relationship: his proved capacity as a military leader: the divine choice. The first and third correspond to the precept of Deuteronomy 17:15 : with the second compare ch. 2 Samuel 3:18.

Also in time past, when Saul was king over us, thou wast he that leddest out and broughtest in Israel: and the LORD said to thee, Thou shalt feed my people Israel, and thou shalt be a captain over Israel.
2. thou wast he that leddest out and broughtest in Israel] David had won the good-will of the people as their leader in war. Cp. 1 Samuel 18:5; 1 Samuel 18:13; 1 Samuel 18:16.

the Lord said to thee] See note on ch. 2 Samuel 3:9.

Thou shalt feed] Lit. “thou shalt shepherd” (LXX. ποιμανεῖς): a natural metaphor to express the ruler’s care for his people. It is used by Greek poets, e.g. Homer, whose regular title for Agamemnon is ποιμὴν λαῶν, “shepherd of the peoples.” But it was especially appropriate in the case of David, who was taken from the sheepfolds of Bethlehem to be the shepherd of Israel (Psalm 78:70-72), as the fishers of the Galilean lake were called to become “fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19), and (except perhaps in Genesis 49:24) it does not appear to be used in the O. T. before his time.

captain] The title given to Saul in 1 Samuel 9:16, &c., and to David in 1 Samuel 25:30 (E. V. ruler).

So all the elders of Israel came to the king to Hebron; and king David made a league with them in Hebron before the LORD: and they anointed David king over Israel.
3. all the elders of Israel] From 2 Samuel 5:1 and 1 Chronicles 12:23-40 it is evident that a general assembly of the nation, and not merely a few delegates, met at Hebron: here the elders are particularly specified because they acted as the representatives of the people in negotiating with David. See note on 1 Samuel 8:4, and cp. ch. 2 Samuel 3:17.

made a league with them] Cp. ch. 2 Samuel 3:21. This ‘league’ was probably a solemn contract in which the king on the one hand engaged to rule according to the laws, and the people on the other hand promised him their allegiance. Some kind of a charter, defining the king’s rights, was in existence (1 Samuel 10:25): and later on we find the people demanding some limitation of these rights (1 Kings 12:3 ff). The Israelite monarchy was not an absolute and irresponsible despotism.

before the Lord] The covenant was made as a solemn religious ceremony, in the presence of the supreme King of Israel, whose vicegerent David was. Cp. 1 Samuel 11:15.

they anointed David king] For the third time. See note on ch. 2 Samuel 2:4. In Chronicles is added “according to the word of the Lord by Samuel.”

The book of Chronicles contains further interesting details about this assembly at Hebron (1 Chronicles 12:23-40). The numbers of fighting men sent by each tribe are preserved, amounting to a total of nearly 350,000. Stress is laid on the unanimity of feeling, and the general rejoicing with which David’s anointing was celebrated in a three days’ festival.

David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years.
4. thirty years old] The prime of life: the age at which the Levites entered upon their duties (Numbers 4:3): at which young men commenced to take part in public business in Greece: at which Joseph was made ruler over Egypt (Genesis 41:46): at which Jesus Christ was “anointed with the Holy Ghost” in His Baptism, and began His public ministry (Luke 3:23).

4, 5. The compiler of Chronicles omits these verses here, but inserts the substance of them in 1 Chronicles 29:27.

In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months: and in Jerusalem he reigned thirty and three years over all Israel and Judah.
6–10. The Capture of Jebus

 = 1 Chronicles 11:4-96. to Jerusalem, &c.] The Chronicler paraphrases the text thus, “to Jerusalem, which is Jebus, where the Jebusites were, the inhabitants of the land.” Writing after the Captivity, he felt it necessary to explain how the Jebusites came to be dwelling in Jerusalem by a reference to its ancient name of Jebus.

It is not a little remarkable that the metropolis of the Jewish monarchy, the most sacred city in the world, does not take its place in the history of the nation until a comparatively late period.

As the capital of the important Canaanite tribe of the Jebusites, it bore the name of Jebus. It was assigned to Benjamin (Joshua 18:28), but, lying on the border, was first attacked by Judah (Jdg 1:8), and afterwards by Benjamin (Jdg 1:21). The citadel was either never taken, or soon recovered, for the Jebusites retained joint possession of the city along with the children of Judah and Benjamin through the period of the Judges and down to this time (Joshua 15:63; Jdg 1:21).

Political, civil, and military considerations pointed to Jerusalem as the most suitable capital for the united kingdom.

(a) Its position within the territory of Benjamin yet close upon the borders of Judah (or, as some think, and as may be indicated by the passages quoted above, partly in one tribe, partly in the other), was excellently adapted for binding together the two royal tribes, and conciliating the good-will of Benjamin, without alienating Judah.

(b) Its situation was virtually central, not only with regard to these two great tribes, but for the whole land. “It was on the ridge of the backbone of hills, which extend through the whole country from the Desert to the plain of Esdraelon. Every traveller who has trod the central route of Palestine from north to south, must have passed through the table-land of Jerusalem.” Stanley’s Sinai and Pal. p. 176.

(c) As a military post it was unrivalled. It stood on a rocky plateau surrounded on three sides by deep ravines forming a natural fortress of almost impregnable strength.

On the topography of Jerusalem see Additional Note VI. p. 239.

Except thou take away the blind and the lame, thou shalt not come in hither] Render, Thou shalt not come in hither, but the blind and the lame would repel thee; as much as to say, David, &c. So confident were the Jebusites in the strength of their fortress, that they boasted that a garrison of blind and lame men would be sufficient to defend it.

This boast is omitted in Chron., probably as being obscure, and not bearing directly upon the facts of the narrative.

And the king and his men went to Jerusalem unto the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land: which spake unto David, saying, Except thou take away the blind and the lame, thou shalt not come in hither: thinking, David cannot come in hither.
Nevertheless David took the strong hold of Zion: the same is the city of David.
7. Nevertheless] Heb. simply, And.

the strong hold of Zion] See Additional Note VI. p. 239.

And David said on that day, Whosoever getteth up to the gutter, and smiteth the Jebusites, and the lame and the blind, that are hated of David's soul, he shall be chief and captain. Wherefore they said, The blind and the lame shall not come into the house.
8. Whosoever, &c.] An obscure and probably corrupt passage. The E. V., which transposes the first two clauses and introduces an apodosis from Chronicles, cannot be defended. The most probable explanations, neither of them however free from serious objections, are:

(1)  Whosoever smiteth the Jebusite,

let him hurl down the precipice

both the lame and the blind,

hated of David’s soul.

David bids his men give no quarter, taking up the words of the Jebusites, and in derision calling their garrison “blind and lame.”

(2)  Whosoever smiteth the Jebusite,

let him reach the watercourse,

[and smite] both the lame and the blind,

hated of David’s soul.

According to this rendering there is a reference to the way in which the citadel, supposed by its defenders to be inaccessible, was to be scaled, either by some waterworn gully in the rock, or through a subterranean channel which had been constructed to supply the fortress with water.

The author of the book of Chronicles either had a different text in his original authority, or, more probably, omitted an expression which was already obscure. He gives the passage thus: “Whosoever smiteth the Jebusites first shall be chief and captain. So Joab the son of Zeruiah went first up, and was chief.”

The Sept. reads; “Whosoever smiteth the Jebusite, let him slay with the sword both the lame and the blind who hate David’s soul.” The Vulg. gives a mere paraphrase: “For David had offered a reward on that day to the man who should smite the Jebusite, and reach the water-pipes of the houses, and remove the blind and lame who hated David’s soul.”

Wherefore they said] Wherefore they are wont to say: the regular phrase for introducing a proverb. Cp. 1 Samuel 19:24.

The blind, &c.] This is understood by the Sept., which reads “into the house of the Lord,” and by the Vulgate, which renders “into the Temple,” to mean that the blind and lame were excluded from the Temple. But this does not seem to have been the case, although they were forbidden to minister (Leviticus 21:18). The explanation that it was a proverb applied to obnoxious persons, meaning “We will not have disagreeable persons in the house,” does not take account of the origin of the saying. Probably it should be rendered as a kind of exclamation: “Blind and lame! he cannot come into the house!” i.e. the blind and the lame are sufficient to defend the fortress: he (the assailant) cannot enter into it.

So David dwelt in the fort, and called it the city of David. And David built round about from Millo and inward.
9. in the fort] In the strong hold, the same word as in 2 Samuel 5:7, and in 1 Chronicles 11:5 (E. V. castle).

Millo] The Millo. See Additional Note VI., p. 241.

and inward] Within or under the protection of the Millo, which was the outermost defence of the city.

Chron. adds “And Joab repaired the rest of the city.”

And David went on, and grew great, and the LORD God of hosts was with him.
10. And David went on, and grew great] = “So David waxed greater and greater” in Chron. The E. V. obliterates the identity of the Hebrew. See Introd. p. 22, note [99]

[99] This verbal coincidence is frequently obscured in the E.V. by different renderings of the same original. This may be partly due to the fact that the books of Samuel and Chronicles fell to the lot of different companies of translators (see Dr Westcott’s History of the English Bible, p. 147 ff.); but unfortunately the false principle of introducing variety by different renderings of the same words was deliberately adopted by the translators of 1611.

the Lord God of hosts] See Additional Note I. to 1 Samuel, p. 235.

And Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David, and cedar trees, and carpenters, and masons: and they built David an house.
11–16. David’s Palace and Family

 =1 Chronicles 14:1-711. Hiram king of Tyre] In 1 Kings 5:10; 1 Kings 5:18, the name is spelt Hirom, in Chron. Huram.

Josephus (against Apion i. 18) states, on the authority of Menander of Ephesus, who wrote a history of Tyre based upon native Tyrian documents, that Hiram, Solomon’s ally and helper in building the Temple, reigned thirty-four years. He also states that Solomon began the Temple in the twelfth year of Hiram’s reign. This Hiram therefore reigned only eight years contemporaneously with David, as the Temple was begun in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign.

But David’s palace must have been built before the last eight years of his reign. From ch. 2 Samuel 7:2 we learn that it was finished before he conceived the plan of building the Temple, at a time when Solomon was not yet born (ch. 2 Samuel 7:12 : cp. 1 Chronicles 22:9), and probably some twenty-five years before the close of his reign.

If the statements of Menander and Josephus are accurate, we must suppose that the Hiram here mentioned was either the father or the grandfather of Solomon’s ally. His father is called by Menander Abibaal, but he may have borne both names, or the more familiar name of his son may have been attached to him.

It is probable that the historian to some extent forsakes chronological order, and places the account of David’s palace-building and of his family here by anticipation in proof of the statement of 2 Samuel 5:10. He must have been too fully occupied at the beginning of his reign with the works mentioned in 2 Samuel 5:9, and with wars such as those against the Philistines (2 Samuel 5:17-25), to have had leisure for the luxury of palace-building.

Tyre] One of the two great cities of Phoenicia, celebrated for its commerce, its mechanical skill, and its wealth. When the Israelites entered Canaan, it was already noted for its strength (Joshua 19:29). Three causes co-operated to bring Phoenicia into close and friendly relation with Israel. (a) The contiguity of the countries, and the short distance between their capitals. From Tyre to Jerusalem by land was scarcely more than 100 miles, so that intercourse was easy. (b) Similarity of language. Phoenician so closely resembles Hebrew, that it must have been readily intelligible to the Israelites. (c) Tyre depended upon Palestine for its supplies of wheat and oil, and in return sent to Jerusalem its articles of commerce, and provided skilled workmen for the buildings erected by David and Solomon.

cedar trees] Felled no doubt in the forests of Lebanon, and brought by sea to Joppa. Cp. 2 Chronicles 2:16. The cedar was the prince of trees (Psalm 104:16), the emblem of strength and stature and grandeur (Psalm 92:12; Amos 2:9; Ezekiel 31:3). Its timber was highly prized for building on account of its durability. Other species of pine besides the well-known cedar of Lebanon were probably included under the general term cedar.

they built David a house] Psalms 30, which is entitled “A song at the Dedication of the House,” may possibly have been written to celebrate the completion of this palace. If so, David had just recovered from a severe illness, concerning which the history is silent.

And David perceived that the LORD had established him king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingdom for his people Israel's sake.
12. And David perceived, &c.] The friendly co-operation of so powerful a king as Hiram, and the success of his enterprises in general, were unmistakeable proofs of divine favour.

And David took him more concubines and wives out of Jerusalem, after he was come from Hebron: and there were yet sons and daughters born to David.
13. took him mo concubines and wives] In accordance with the general custom of Oriental monarchs. The law of the king in Deuteronomy 17:17 imposes some limitation on the practice. See note on ch. 2 Samuel 3:5.

Mo as the comparative of many is an archaism which has disappeared from modern editions of the Bible. It occurs frequently in Shakespeare, e. g. Richard II., A. II. S. I. 239, “Many moe of noble blood.”

And these be the names of those that were born unto him in Jerusalem; Shammua, and Shobab, and Nathan, and Solomon,
14. And these, &c.] The list of David’s sons is given again in 1 Chronicles 3:5-8, as well as in 1 Chronicles 14:4-7. The first four were sons of Bathsheba, and as Solomon is always placed last it is natural to suppose that he was the youngest. See note on ch. 2 Samuel 12:24. Josephus distinctly calls him David’s youngest son (Ant. VII. 14, 2). In 1 Chronicles 3. Shammua is called Shimea, and Elishua appears as Elishama, probably by a scribe’s error. Both lists in Chron. insert two more names, Eliphalet or Elpalet and Nogah. It is possible that they are omitted here because they died in infancy, and that the second Eliphalet was named after his dead brother. Beeliada in 1 Chronicles 14 is another form for Eliada compounded with Baal = lord instead of El = God.

Nothing is known of any of these sons except Solomon and Nathan. It was through the latter that Joseph traced his lineal descent from David, according to the genealogy of our Lord given by St Luke (2 Samuel 3:31).

Ibhar also, and Elishua, and Nepheg, and Japhia,
And Elishama, and Eliada, and Eliphalet.
But when the Philistines heard that they had anointed David king over Israel, all the Philistines came up to seek David; and David heard of it, and went down to the hold.
17–25. Two victories over the Philistines

 =1 Chronicles 14:8-1617. But when the Philistines heard] This Philistine invasion probably followed soon after the capture of Jebus. The Philistines were alarmed by the union of the Israelites under a king of proved vigour, who had inaugurated his reign by a brilliant military achievement. They therefore mustered their whole force (cp. 1 Samuel 29:1), for a strenuous effort to crush him.

came up] From the plains of Philistia to the highlands of Judah.

went down to the hold] The word translated “hold” is the same as that translated “stronghold” in 2 Samuel 5:7, and “fort” in 2 Samuel 5:9. But as David “went down” to it, and “went up” from it into the valley of Rephaim (2 Samuel 5:19), it cannot here mean the citadel of Zion. Most probably David wished to drive the Philistines back, and prevent them from plundering his country, and marched down with his forces to his old post at Adullam. The term “stronghold” is used of Adullam in ch. 2 Samuel 23:14, and the incident there related may have happened in this war. It was a strong position in the valley of Elah, one of the most likely routes for an invading army from Philistia to take. See notes on 1 Samuel 17:1; 1 Samuel 22:1. This view agrees with the general statement in 1 Chron. that “he went out against them.”

The Philistines also came and spread themselves in the valley of Rephaim.
18. The Philistines also came] But the Philistines came. Taking a different route, perhaps by the Wady-es-Surâr and Beth-shemesh (see note on 1 Samuel 6:9), so as to avoid David and his army, they came up and occupied “the valley of Rephaim,” an open plain or upland valley, stretching in a S.W. direction from the neighbourhood of Jerusalem towards Bethlehem. Cp. Joshua 15:8; Joshua 18:16 (E. V. the valley of the giants). It was famous for its fertile corn-fields (Isaiah 17:5). The name preserves a trace of the ancient gigantic race of the Rephaim, to which Og the king of Bashan belonged (Deuteronomy 3:11. Cp. Genesis 14:5; Joshua 17:15).

And David inquired of the LORD, saying, Shall I go up to the Philistines? wilt thou deliver them into mine hand? And the LORD said unto David, Go up: for I will doubtless deliver the Philistines into thine hand.
19. inquired of the Lord] Cp. 1 Samuel 23:2, and note on ch. 2 Samuel 2:1.

And David came to Baalperazim, and David smote them there, and said, The LORD hath broken forth upon mine enemies before me, as the breach of waters. Therefore he called the name of that place Baalperazim.
20. as the breach of waters] Isaiah calls the scene of the battle “mount Perazim” (Isaiah 28:21). David, we may suppose, occupied the hill, and swept down from it upon the Philistines in the plain below, scattering them irresistibly as a mountain torrent swollen by a sudden storm sweeps all before it and bursts through every obstacle in its way.

Baal-perazim] Baal = owner or possessor, so that the name signifies “Place of breaches.”

And there they left their images, and David and his men burned them.
21. their images] Cp. 1 Samuel 31:9 (E. V. idols). They brought them into the field to ensure victory, as the Edomites appear to have done (2 Chronicles 25:14), and as the Israelites brought out the Ark (1 Samuel 4:3).

burnt them] Render, took them away, as spoil, perhaps to display in his triumphal procession. According to 1 Chronicles 14:12 he afterwards burnt them, in compliance with the law of Deuteronomy 7:5; Deuteronomy 7:25. The E. V. here “burned them” is a gloss, adopted from the Targum and the passage in 1 Chr. Thus the old disgrace of the capture of the Ark by the Philistines was avenged.

And the Philistines came up yet again, and spread themselves in the valley of Rephaim.
And when David inquired of the LORD, he said, Thou shalt not go up; but fetch a compass behind them, and come upon them over against the mulberry trees.
23. Thou shalt not go up] The addition of the Sept. “to meet them” is needed to complete the sense. This answer implies the same question as in 2 Samuel 5:19.

fetch a compass behind them] Go round to their rear. “Compass” in old English means “circuit;” and “to fetch a compass” means “to make a circuit or detour,” “to go round.”

In Chron. the same manœuvre is described in different words: “Go not after them: turn away from them and come upon them,” &c.

mulberry trees] So the Jewish commentators explain the word bâcâ which is found only here and in the parallel passage of Chronicles. Probably however a tree called bâcâ by the Arabs, resembling the balsam shrub, is meant. The name is derived from bâcâh, “to weep,” from the tear-like sap which exudes when a leaf is torn off. “The valley of Baca” (Psalm 84:6) may have been named from these trees, and the Psalmist refers to it with a play upon its etymological significance, “valley of weeping.”

And let it be, when thou hearest the sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry trees, that then thou shalt bestir thyself: for then shall the LORD go out before thee, to smite the host of the Philistines.
24. the sound of a going] The sound of marching. The cognate verb is used of Jehovah “marching” (so to speak) before His people in Jdg 5:4; Psalm 68:7; Habakkuk 3:12. A rustling in the tops of the trees like the marching of an army was to be the signal that Jehovah Himself would lead David’s army to victory. Cp. 2 Kings 7:6.

bestir thyself] In Chron. less forcibly “go out to battle.”

then shall the Lord go out before thee] The use of the perfect tense in the original gives an emphasis to the assurance. “Then hath Jehovah gone forth before thee.” The E. V. renders it rightly in Chron.

And David did so, as the LORD had commanded him; and smote the Philistines from Geba until thou come to Gazer.
25. from Geba] The Sept. and Chron., as well as Isaiah 28:21, which almost certainly refers to this miraculous defeat of the Philistines, all read Gibeon. This seems to be the true reading. Geba (see note on 1 Samuel 10:5) was too far to the east: Gibeon (see note on ch. 2 Samuel 2:12) was on the natural line of retreat northwards from the valley of Rephaim to Gezer.

Gazer] Rather, Gezer, a royal city of the Canaanites (Joshua 12:12), belonging to the tribe of Ephraim, and assigned to the Kohathite Levites (Joshua 21:21). Its Canaanite inhabitants retained possession of it until the time of Solomon, when Pharaoh took it and presented it to his daughter, Solomon’s queen (1 Kings 9:16). It lay between the lower Beth-horon and the sea (Joshua 16:3), and the name appears to survive in Tell Jezar, a hill about 10 miles W.S.W. of Beth-horon, and six miles E. of Akir (Ekron). M. Clermont Ganneau found there two inscriptions in Hebrew character, which he reads “Boundary of Gezer.” Conder’s Tent Work, I. 13. The Philistines were thus driven right back into their own lowland plain.

The Chronicler concludes the account of these victories with the words: “And the fame of David went out into all lands; and the Lord brought the fear of him upon all nations.”

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