Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary
The psalm of thanksgiving, in which David praised the Lord for all the deliverances and benefits that he had experienced throughout the whole of his life, is followed by the prophetic will and testament of the great king, unfolding the importance of his rule in relation to the sacred history of the future. And whilst the psalm may be regarded (2 Samuel 22) as a great hallelujah, with which David passed away from the stage of life, these "last words" contain the divine seal of all that he has sung and prophesied in several psalms concerning the eternal dominion of his seed, on the strength of the divine promise which he received through the prophet Nathan, that his throne should be established for ever (2 Samuel 7). These words are not merely a lyrical expansion of that promise, but a prophetic declaration uttered by David at the close of his life and by divine inspiration, concerning the true King of the kingdom of God. "The aged monarch, who was not generally endowed with the gift of prophecy, was moved by the Spirit of God at the close of his life, and beheld a just Ruler in the fear of God, under whose reign blessing and salvation sprang up for the righteous, and all the wicked were overcome. The pledge of this was the eternal covenant which God had concluded with him" (Tholuck: die Propheten and ihre Weissagungen, p. 166). The heading "these are the last words of David" serves to attach it to the preceding psalm of thanksgiving.
Now these be the last words of David. David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, said,1 Divine saying of David the son of Jesse,
Divine saying of the man, the highly exalted,
Of the anointed of the God of Jacob,
And of the lovely one in the songs of praise of Israel.
2 The Spirit of Jehovah speaks through me,
And His word is upon my tongue.
This introduction to the prophetic announcement rests, both as to form and substance, upon the last sayings of Balaam concerning the future history of Israel (Numbers 24:3, Numbers 24:15). This not only shows to what extent David had occupied himself with the utterances of the earlier men of God concerning Israel's future; but indicates, at the same time, that his own prophetic utterance was intended to be a further expansion of Balaam's prophecy concerning the Star out of Jacob and the Sceptre out of Israel. Like Balaam, he calls his prophecy a נאם, i.e., a divine saying or oracle, as a revelation which he had received directly from God (see at Numbers 24:3). But the recipient of this revelation was not, like Balaam the son of Beor, a man with closed eye, whose eyes had been opened by a vision of the Almighty, but "the man who was raised up on high" (על, adverbially "above," is, strictly speaking, a substantive, "height," used in an adverbial sense, as in Hosea 11:7, and probably also 2 Samuel 7:16), i.e., whom God had lifted up out of humiliation to be the ruler of His people, yea, even to be the head of the nations (2 Samuel 22:44). Luther's rendering, "who is assured of the Messiah of the God of Jacob," is based upon the Vulgate, "cui constitutum est de Christo Dei Jacob," and cannot be grammatically sustained. David was exalted on the one hand as "the anointed of the God of Jacob," i.e., as the one whom the God of Israel had anointed king over His people, and on the other hand as "the lovely one in Israel's songs of praise," i.e., the man whom God had enabled to sing lovely songs of praise in celebration of His grace and glory. זמיר equals זמרה does not mean a song generally, but a song of praise in honour of God (see at Exodus 15:2), like מזמור in the headings to the psalms. As David on the one hand had firmly established the kingdom of God in an earthly and political respect as the anointed of Jehovah, i.e., as king, so had he on the other, as the composer of Israel's songs of praise, promoted the spiritual edification of that kingdom. The idea of נאם is explained in 2 Samuel 23:2. The Spirit of Jehovah speaks through him; his words are the inspiration of God. The preterite דּבּר relates to the divine inspiration which preceded the utterance of the divine saying. בּ דּבּר, literally to speak into a person, as in Hosea 1:2. The saying itself commences with 2 Samuel 23:3.
The Spirit of the LORD spake by me, and his word was in my tongue.
The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.
And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain.2 Samuel 23:4 describes the blessing that will proceed from this ruler. The idea that 2 Samuel 23:4 should be connected with 2 Samuel 23:3 so as to form one period, in the sense of "when one rules justly over men (as I do), it is as when a morning becomes clear," must be rejected, for the simple reason that it overlooks Nathan's promise (2 Samuel 7) altogether, and weakens the force of the saying so solemnly introduced as the word of God. The ruler over men whom David sees in spirit, is not any one who rules righteously over men; nor is the seed of David to be regarded as a collective expression indicating a merely ideal personality, but, according to the Chaldee rendering, the Messiah himself, the righteous Shoot whom the Lord would raise up to David (Jeremiah 23:5), and who would execute righteousness and judgment upon earth (Jeremiah 33:15). 2 Samuel 23:4 is to be taken by itself as containing an independent thought, and the connection between it and 2 Samuel 23:3 must be gathered from the words themselves: the appearance (the rise) of this Ruler will be "as light of the morning, when the sun rises." At the same time, the Messiah is not to be regarded as the subject to בּקר אור (the light of the morning), as though the ruler over men were compared with the morning light; but the subject compared to the morning light is intentionally left indefinite, according to the view adopted by Luther in his exposition, "In the time of the Messiah it will be like the light of the morning." We are precluded from regarding the Messiah as the subject, by the fact that the comparison is instituted not with the sun, but with the morning dawn at the rising of the sun, whose vivifying effects upon nature are described in the second clause of the verse. The words שׁמשׁ יזרח are to be taken relatively, as a more distinct definition of the morning light. The clause which follows, "morning without clouds," is parallel to the foregoing, and describes more fully the nature of the morning. The light of the rising sun on a cloudless morning is an image of the coming salvation. The rising sun awakens the germs of life in the bosom of nature, which had been slumbering through the darkness of the night. "The state of things before the coming of the ruler resembles the darkness of the night" (Hengstenberg). The verb is also wanting in the second hemistich. "From the shining from rain (is, comes) fresh green out of the earth." נגהּ signifies the brightness of the rising sun; but, so far as the actual meaning is concerned, it relates to the salvation which attends the coming of the righteous ruler. ממּטר is either subordinate to מנּגהּ, or co-ordinate with it. In the former case, we should have to render the passage, "from the shining of the sun which proceeds out of rain," or "from the shining after rain;" and the allusion would be to a cloudless morning, when the shining of the sun after a night's rain stimulates the growth of the plants. In the latter case, we should have to render it "from the shining (and) from the rain;" and the reference would be to a cloudless morning, on which the vegetation springs up from the ground through sunshine followed by rain. Grammatically considered, the first view (? the second) is the easier of the two; nevertheless we regard the other (? the first) as the only admissible one, inasmuch as rain is not to be expected when the sun has risen with a cloudless sky. The rays of the sun, as it rises after a night of rain, strengthen the fresh green of the plants. The rain is therefore a figurative representation of blessing generally (cf. Isaiah 44:3), and the green grass which springs up from the earth after the rain is an image of the blessings of the Messianic salvation (Isaiah 44:4; Isaiah 45:8).
In Psalm 72:6, Solomon takes these words of David as the basis of his comparison of the effects resulting from the government of the true Prince of peace to the coming down of the rain upon the mown grass.
Although my house be not so with God; yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although he make it not to grow.In 2 Samuel 23:5, the prophecy concerning the coming of the just ruler is sustained by being raced back to the original promise in 2 Samuel 7, in which David had received a pledge of this. The first and last clauses of this verse can only be made to yield a meaning in harmony with the context, by being taken interrogatively: "for is not my house so with God?" The question is only indicated by the tone (לא כּי equals הלא כּי: 2 Samuel 19:23), as is frequently the case, even before clauses commencing with לּא (e.g., Hosea 11:5; Malachi 2:15 : cf. Ewald, 324, a.). לא־כן (not so) is explained by the following clause, though the כּי which follows is not to be taken in the sense of "that." Each of the two clauses contains a distinct thought. That of the first is, "Does not my house stand in such a relation to God, that the righteous ruler will spring from it?" This is then explained in the second: "for He hath made an everlasting covenant with me." David calls the promise in 2 Samuel 7:12., that God would establish his kingdom to his seed for ever, a covenant, because it involved a reciprocal relation-namely, that Jehovah would first of all found for David a permanent house, and then that the seed of David was to build the house of the Lord. This covenant is בכּל ערוּכה, "equipped (or provided) with all" that could help to establish it. This relates more especially to the fact that all eventualities were foreseen, even the falling away of the bearers of the covenant of God, so that such an event as this would not annul the covenant (2 Samuel 7:14-15). וּשׁמוּרה, "and preserved," i.e., established by the assurance that even in that case the Lord would not withdraw His grace. David could found upon this the certainty, that God would cause all the salvation to spring forth which had been pledged to his house in the promise referred to. כּל־ישׁעי, "all my salvation," i.e., all the salvation promised to me and to my house. כּל־חפץ, not "all my desire," but "all the good pleasure" of God, i.e., all the saving counsel of God expressed in that covenant. The כּי before לא is an energetic repetition of the כּי which introduces the explanatory thought, in the sense of a firm assurance: "for all my salvation and all good pleasure, yea, should He not cause it to spring forth?"
But the sons of Belial shall be all of them as thorns thrust away, because they cannot be taken with hands:6 But the worthless, as rejected thorns are they all;
For men do not take them in the hand.
7 And the man who touches them
Provides himself with iron and spear-shaft,
And they are utterly burned with fire where they dwell.
The development of salvation under the ruler in righteousness and the fear of God is accompanied by judgment upon the ungodly. The abstract בליּעל, worthlessness, is stronger than בליּעל אישׁ, the worthless man, and depicts the godless as personified worthlessness. מנד, in the Keri מנּד, the Hophal of נוּד or נדד, literally "scared" or hunted away. This epithet does not apply to the thorns, so well as to the ungodly who are compared to thorns. The reference is to thorns that men root out, not to those which they avoid on account of their prickles. כּלּהם, an antiquated form for כּלּם (see Ewald, 247, d.). To root them out, or clean the ground of them, men do not lay hold of them with the bare hand; but "whoever would touch them equips himself (ימּלא, sc., ידו, to 'fill the hand' with anything: 2 Kings 9:24) with iron, i.e., with iron weapons, and spear-shaft" (vid., 1 Samuel 17:7). This expression also relates to the godless rather than to the thorns. They are consumed בּשּׁבת, "at the dwelling," i.e., as Kimchi explains, at the place of their dwelling, the place where they grow. For בּשּׁבת cannot mean "on the spot" in the sense of without delay. The burning of the thorns takes place at the final judgment upon the ungodly (Matthew 13:30).
But the man that shall touch them must be fenced with iron and the staff of a spear; and they shall be utterly burned with fire in the same place.
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.The 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.
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.
And after him was Eleazar the son of Dodo the Ahohite, one of the three mighty men with David, when they defied the Philistines that were there gathered together to battle, and the men of Israel were gone away:"After him (i.e., next to him in rank) was Eleazar the son of Dodai the Ahohite, among the three heroes with David when they defied the Philistines, who had assembled there, and the Israelites drew near." The Chethib דדי is to be read דּודי, Dodai, according to 1 Chronicles 27:4, and the form דּודו (Dodo) in the parallel text (1 Chronicles 11:12) is only a variation in the form of the name. Instead of בּן־אחחי (the son of Ahohi) we find העחחי (the Ahohite) in the Chronicles; but the בּן must not be struck out on that account as spurious, for "the son of an Ahohite" is the same as "the Ahohite." For גּבּרים בּשׁלשׁה we must read הגּבּרים בּשׁלשׁה, according to the Keri and the Chronicles. שׁלשׁה is not to be altered, since the numerals are sometimes attached to substantives in the absolute state (see Ges. 120, 1). "The three heroes" are Jashobeam, Eleazar, and Shammah (2 Samuel 23:11), who reached the first rank, according to 2 Samuel 23:19, among the heroes of David. Instead of בּפּלשׁתּים בּחרפם (when they defied the Philistines), we find in the Chronicles והפּלשׁתּים דּמּים בּפּס, "at Pas-dammim," i.e., most probably Ephes-dammim (1 Samuel 17:1), where the Philistines were encamped when Goliath defied the Israelites. Thenius, Bertheau, and Bttcher therefore propose to alter our text so as to make it correspond to that of the Chronicles, and adduce as the reason the fact that in other passages חרף is construed with the accusative, and that שׁם, which follows, presupposes the previous mention of the place referred to. But the reasons are neither of them decisive. חרף .evisiced is not construed with the accusative alone, but also with ל (2 Chronicles 32:17), so that the construction with ב is quite a possible one, and is not at variance with the idea of the word. שׁם again may also be understood as referring to the place, not named, where the Philistines fought with the Israelites. The omission of אשׁר before נעספוּ is more difficult to explain; and והפּלשׁתּים, which we find in the Chronicles, has probably dropped out after בּפּלשׁתּים. The reading in the Chronicles דּמּים בּפּס (בּאפס) is probably only a more exact description of the locality, which is but obscurely indicated in our text by בּפּלשׁתּים בּחרפם; for these words affirm that the battle took place where the Israelites had once been defied by the Philistines (1 Samuel 17:10), and where they repaid them for this defiance in a subsequent conflict. The Philistines are at any rate to be regarded as the subject to נעספוּ, and these words are a circumstantial clause: the Philistines had assembled together there to battle, and the Israelites had advanced to the attack. The heroic act of Eleazar is introduced with "he arose." He arose and smote the Philistines till his hand was weary and clave to his sword, i.e., was so cramped as to be stiffened to the sword. Through this Jehovah wrought a great salvation for Israel on that day, "and the people (the soldiers) turned after him only to plunder," sc., because he had put the enemy to flight by himself. אחריו שׁוּב does not mean to turn back from flight after him, but is the opposite of מאחרי שׁוּב, to turn away from a person (1 Samuel 15:11, etc.), so that it signifies "to turn to a person and follow behind him." Three lines have dropped out from the parallel text of the Chronicles, in consequence of the eye of a copyist having wandered from נעספוּ פלשׁתּים in 2 Samuel 23:9 to פלשׁתּים ויּעספוּ in 2 Samuel 23:11.
He arose, and smote the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand clave unto the sword: and the LORD wrought a great victory that day; and the people returned after him only to spoil.
And after him was Shammah the son of Agee the Hararite. And the Philistines were gathered together into a troop, where was a piece of ground full of lentiles: and the people fled from the Philistines.The third leading hero was Shammah, the son of Age the Hararite (הררי is probably contracted from ההררי, 2 Samuel 23:33). He also made himself renowned by a great victory over the Philistines. The enemy had gathered together לחיּה, "as a troop," or in a crowd. This meaning of היּה (here and 2 Samuel 23:13, and possibly also in Psalm 68:11) is thoroughly established by the Arabic (see Ges. Thes. p. 470). But it seems to have fallen into disuse afterwards, and in the Chronicles it is explained in 2 Samuel 23:13 by מלחמה, and in 2 Samuel 23:15 by מחנה. "On a portion of a field of lentils there," sc., where the Philistines had gathered together, the people (of Israel) were smitten. Then Shammah stationed himself in the midst of the field, and יצּילה, "wrested it," from the foe, and smote the Philistines. Instead of עדשׁים, lentils, we find in the Chronicles שׁלעורים, barley, a very inconsiderable difference.
But he stood in the midst of the ground, and defended it, and slew the Philistines: and the LORD wrought a great victory.
And three of the thirty chief went down, and came to David in the harvest time unto the cave of Adullam: and the troop of the Philistines pitched in the valley of Rephaim.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."
And David was then in an hold, and the garrison of the Philistines was then in Bethlehem.
And David longed, and said, Oh that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate!
And the three mighty men brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David: nevertheless he would not drink thereof, but poured it out unto the LORD.The three heroes then broke through the camp of the Philistines at Bethlehem, i.e., the outpost that occupied the space before the gate, fetched water out of the well, and brought it to David. He would not drink it, however, but poured it out upon the ground to the Lord, as a drink-offering for Jehovah. "He poured it out upon the earth, rendering Him thanks for the return of the three brave men" (Clericus). And he said, "Far be it from me, O Jehovah, to do this! The blood of the men who went with their lives (i.e., at the risk of their lives)," sc., should I drink it? The verb אשׁתּה is wanting in our text, but is not to be inserted according to the Chronicles as though it had fallen out; the sentence is rather to be regarded as an aposiopesis. יהוה after לי חלילה is a vocative, and is not to be altered into מיהוה according to the מאלחי of the Chronicles. The fact that the vocative does not occur in other passages after לי חלילה proves nothing. It is equivalent to the oath יהוה חי (1 Samuel 14:45). The chronicler has endeavoured to simplify David's exclamation by completing the sentence. בּנפשׁותם, "for the price of their souls," i.e., at the risk of their lives. The water drawn and fetched at the risk of their lives is compared to the soul itself, and the soul is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11). Drinking this water, therefore, would be nothing else than drinking their blood.
And he said, Be it far from me, O LORD, that I should do this: is not this the blood of the men that went in jeopardy of their lives? therefore he would not drink it. These things did these three mighty men.
And Abishai, the brother of Joab, the son of Zeruiah, was chief among three. And he lifted up his spear against three hundred, and slew them, and had the name among three.Heroes of the second class. - 2 Samuel 23:18, 2 Samuel 23:19. Abishai, Joab's brother (see 1 Samuel 26:6), was also chief of the body-guard, like Jashobeam (2 Samuel 23:8 : the Chethib השּׁלשׁי is correct; see at 2 Samuel 23:8). He swung his spear over three hundred slain. "He had a name among the three," i.e., the three principal heroes, Jashobeam, Eleazar, and Shammah. The following words, מן־השּׁלשׁה, make no sense. השּׁלשׁה is an error in writing for השּׁלשׁים, as 2 Samuel 23:23 shows in both the texts (2 Samuel 23:25 of the Chronicles): an error the origin of which may easily be explained from the word שׁלשׁה, which stands immediately before. "He was certainly honoured before the thirty (heroes of David), and became their chief, but he did not come to the three," i.e., he was not equal to Jashobeam, Eleazar, and Shammah. הכי has the force of an energetic assurance: "Is it so that," i.e., it is certainly so (as in 2 Samuel 9:1; Genesis 27:36; Genesis 29:15).
Was he not most honourable of three? therefore he was their captain: howbeit he attained not unto the first three.
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:Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada, "Jehoiada the priest" according to 1 Chronicles 27:5, possibly the one who was "prince for Aaron," i.e., of the family of Aaron, according to 1 Chronicles 12:27, was captain of the Crethi and Plethi according to 2 Samuel 8:18 and 2 Samuel 20:23. He was the son of a brave man, rich in deeds (חי is evidently an error for חיל in the Chronicles), of Kabzeel in the south of Judah (Joshua 15:21). "He smote the two Ariels of Moab." The Arabs and Persians call every remarkably brave man Ariel, or lion of God (vid., Bochart, Hieroz. ii. pp. 7, 63). They were therefore two celebrated Moabitish heroes. The supposition that they were sons of the king of the Moabites is merely founded upon the conjecture of Thenius and Bertheau, that the word בּני (sons of) has dropped out before Ariel. "He also slew the lion in the well on the day of the snow," i.e., a lion which had been driven into the neighbourhood of human habitations by a heavy fall of snow, and had taken refuge in a cistern. The Chethib האריה and בּאר are the earlier forms for the Keris substituted by the Masoretes הארי and הבּור, and consequently are not to be altered. He also slew an Egyptian of distinguished size. According to the Keri we should read מראה אישׁ (instead of מראה fo daetsni( א אשׁר), "a man of appearance," i.e., a distinguished man, or a man of great size, ἄνδρα ὀρατόν (lxx); in the Chronicles it is simplified as מדּה אישׁ, a man of measure, i.e., of great height. This man was armed with a spear or javelin, whereas Benaiah was only armed with a stick; nevertheless the latter smote him, took away his spear, and slew him with his own weapon. According to the Chronicles the Egyptian was five cubits high, and his spear like a weaver's beam. Through these feats Benaiah acquired a name among the three, though he did not equal them (2 Samuel 23:22, 2 Samuel 23:23, as in 2 Samuel 23:18, 2 Samuel 23:19); and David made him a member of his privy council (see at 1 Samuel 22:14).
And he slew an Egyptian, a goodly man: and the Egyptian had a spear in his hand; but he went down to him with a staff, and plucked the spear out of the Egyptian's hand, and slew him with his own spear.
These things did Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and had the name among three mighty men.
He was more honourable than the thirty, but he attained not to the first three. And David set him over his guard.
Asahel the brother of Joab was one of the thirty; Elhanan the son of Dodo of Bethlehem,Heroes of the third class. - 2 Samuel 23:24. "Asahel, the brother of Joab, among the thirty," i.e., belonging to them. This definition also applies to the following names; we therefore find at the head of the list in the Chronicles, החילים וגבּורי, "and brave heroes (were)." The names which follow are for the most part not further known. Elhanan, the son of Dodo of Bethlehem, is a different man from the Bethlehemite of that name mentioned in 2 Samuel 21:19. Shammah the Harodite also must not be confounded with the Shammahs mentioned in 2 Samuel 23:11 and 2 Samuel 23:33. In the Chronicles we find Shammoth, a different form of the name; whilst ההרורי is an error in writing for החרדי, i.e., sprung from Harod (Judges 7:1). This man is called Shamhut in 1 Chronicles 27:8; he was the leader of the fifth division of David's army. Elika or Harod is omitted in the Chronicles; it was probably dropped out in consequence of the homoioteleuton החרדי.
Shammah the Harodite, Elika the Harodite,
Helez the Paltite, Ira the son of Ikkesh the Tekoite,Helez the Paltite; i.e., sprung from Beth-pelet in the south of Judah (Joshua 15:27). He was chief of the seventh division of the army (compare 1 Chronicles 27:10 with 1 Chronicles 11:27, though in both passages הפּלטי is misspelt הפּלני). Ira the son of Ikkesh of Tekoah in the desert of Judah (2 Samuel 14:2), chief of the sixth division of the army (1 Chronicles 27:9).
Abiezer the Anethothite, Mebunnai the Hushathite,Abiezer of Anathoth (Anata) in Benjamin (see at Joshua 18:24), chief of the ninth division of the army (1 Chronicles 27:12). Mebunnai is a mistake in spelling for Sibbechai the Hushathite (compare 2 Samuel 21:18 and 1 Chronicles 11:29). According to 1 Chronicles 27:11, he was chief of the eighth division of the army.
Zalmon the Ahohite, Maharai the Netophathite,Zalmon the Ahohite, i.e., sprung from the Benjaminite family of Ahoah, is not further known. Instead of Zalmon we find Ilai in the Chronicles (2 Samuel 23:29); but which of the two names is the correct one it is impossible to decide. Maharai of Netophah: according to Ezra 2:22 and Nehemiah 7:26, Netophah was a place in the neighbourhood of Bethlehem, but it has not yet been discovered, as Beit Nattif, which might be thought of, is too far from Bethlehem (vid., Rob. Pal. ii. p. 344, and Tobler, Dritte Wanderung, pp. 117-8). According to 1 Chronicles 27:13, Maharai belonged to the Judahite family of Serah, and was chief of the tenth division of the army.
Heleb the son of Baanah, a Netophathite, Ittai the son of Ribai out of Gibeah of the children of Benjamin,Cheleb, more correctly Cheled (1 Chronicles 11:30; or Cheldai, 1 Chronicles 27:15), also of Netophah, was chief of the twelfth division of the army. Ittai (Ithai in the Chronicles), the son of Ribai of Gibeah of Benjamin, must be distinguished from Ittai the Gathite (2 Samuel 15:19). Like all that follow, with the exception of Uriah, he is not further known.
Benaiah the Pirathonite, Hiddai of the brooks of Gaash,Benaiah of Phir'aton in the tribe of Ephraim, a place which has been preserved in the village of Fer'ata, to the south-west of Nablus (see at Judges 12:13). Hiddai (wrongly spelt Hudai in the Chronicles), out of the valleys of Gaash, in the tribe of Ephraim by the mountain of Gaash, the situation of which has not yet been discovered (see at Joshua 24:30).
Abialbon the Arbathite, Azmaveth the Barhumite,Abi-Albon (written incorrectly Abiel in the Chronicles) the Arbathite, i.e., from the place called Beth-haarabah or Arabah (Joshua 15:61 and Joshua 18:18, Joshua 18:22) in the desert of Judah, on the site of the present Kasr Hajla (see at Joshua 15:6). Azmaveth of Bahurim: see at 2 Samuel 16:5.
Eliahba the Shaalbonite, of the sons of Jashen, Jonathan,Eliahba of Shaalbon or Shaalbin, which may possibly have been preserved in the present Selbit (see at Joshua 19:42). The next two names, יהונתן ישׁן בּני and ההררי שׁמּה (Bneyashen Jehonathan and Shammah the Hararite), are written thus in the Chronicles (2 Samuel 23:34), ההררי בּן־שׁגא יונתן הגּזוני השׁם בּני: "Bnehashem the Gizonite, Jonathan the son of Sage the Hararite," The text of the Chronicles is evidently the more correct of the two, as Bne Jashen Jehonathan does not make any sense. The only question is whether the form השׁם בּני is correct, or whether בּני has not arisen merely through a misspelling. As the name does not occur again, all that can be said is that Bne hashem must at any rate be written as one word, and therefore should be pointed differently. The place mentioned, Gizon, is unknown. שׁמּה for בּן־שׁגא probably arose from 2 Samuel 23:11. Ahiam the son of Sharar or Sacar (Chron.) the Ararite (in the Chronicles the Hararite).
Shammah the Hararite, Ahiam the son of Sharar the Hararite,
Eliphelet the son of Ahasbai, the son of the Maachathite, Eliam the son of Ahithophel the Gilonite,The names in 2 Samuel 23:34, Eliphelet ben-Ahasbai ben-Hammaacathi, read thus in the Chronicles (2 Samuel 23:35, 2 Samuel 23:36): Eliphal ben-Ur; Hepher hammecerathi. We see from this that in ben-Ahasbai ben two names have been fused together; for the text as it lies before us is rendered suspicious partly by the fact that the names of both father and grandfather are given, which does not occur in connection with any other name in the whole list, and partly by the circumstance that בּן cannot properly be written with המּעכתי, which is a Gentile noun. Consequently the following is probably the correct way of restoring the text, המּעכתי חפר בּן־אוּר אליפלט, Eliphelet (a name which frequently occurs) the son of Ur; Hepher the Maachathite, i.e., of Maacah in the north-east of Gilead (see at 2 Samuel 10:6 and Deuteronomy 3:14). Eliam the son of Ahithophel the Gilonite, the clever but treacherous counsellor of David (see at 2 Samuel 15:12). This name is quite corrupt in the Chronicles.
Hezrai the Carmelite, Paarai the Arbite,Hezro the Carmelite, i.e., of Carmel in the mountains of Judah (1 Samuel 25:2). Paarai the Arbite, i.e., of Arab, also in the mountains of Judah (Joshua 15:52). In the Chronicles we find Naarai ben-Ezbi: the latter is evidently an error in writing for ha-Arbi; but it is impossible to decide which of the two forms, Paarai and Naarai, is the correct one.
Igal the son of Nathan of Zobah, Bani the Gadite,Jigal the son of Nathan of Zoba (see at 2 Samuel 8:3): in the Chronicles, Joel the brother of Nathan. Bani the Gadite: in the Chronicles we have Mibhar the son of Hagri. In all probability the names inf the Chronicles are corrupt in this instance also.
Zelek the Ammonite, Naharai the Beerothite, armourbearer to Joab the son of Zeruiah,Zelek the Ammonite, Nacharai the Beerothite (of Beeroth: see at 2 Samuel 4:2), the armour-bearer of Joab. Instead of נשׂאי, the Keri and the Chronicles have נשׂא: the latter reading is favoured by the circumstance, that if more than one of the persons named had been Joab's armour-bearers, their names would most probably have been linked together by a copulative vav.
Ira an Ithrite, Gareb an Ithrite,Ira and Gareb, both of them Jithrites, i.e., sprung from a family in Kirjath-jearim (1 Chronicles 2:53). Ira is of course a different man from the cohen of that name (2 Samuel 20:26).
Uriah the Hittite: thirty and seven in all.Uriah the Hittite is well known from 2 Samuel 11:3. "Thirty and seven in all." This number is correct, as there were three in the first class (2 Samuel 23:8-12), two in the second (2 Samuel 23:18-23), and thirty-two in the third (vv. 24-39), since 2 Samuel 23:34 contains three names according to the amended text.