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2 Samuel: Chapter 23

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1Now these are the last words of David:

The oracle of David, son of Jesse, the oracle of the man whom God exalted, b Heb in sitting the anointed of the God of Jacob, the favorite of the Strong One of Israel:

2

The spirit of the LORD speaks through me, his word is upon my tongue. 3 The God of Israel has spoken, the Rock of Israel has said to me: One who rules over people justly, ruling in the fear of God, 4 is like the light of morning, like the sun rising on a cloudless morning, gleaming from the rain on the grassy land.

5

Is not my house like this with God? For he has made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and secure. Will he not cause to prosper all my help and my desire? 6 But the godless are c Gk Vg Compare 1 Chr 11.11 : Meaning of Heb uncertain all like thorns that are thrown away; for they cannot be picked up with the hand; 7 to touch them one uses an iron bar or the shaft of a spear. And they are entirely consumed in fire on the spot. a 1 Chr 11.11 : Meaning of Heb uncertain

8These are the names of the warriors whom David had: Josheb‐basshebeth a Tahchemonite; he was chief of the Three; b Heb adds head he wielded his spear c Two Heb Mss Syr: MT Three against eight hundred whom he killed at one time.

9Next to him among the three warriors was Eleazar son of Dodo son of Ahohi. He was with David when they defied the Philistines who were gathered there for battle. The Israelites withdrew, 10but he stood his ground. He struck down the Philistines until his arm grew weary, though his hand clung to the sword. The LORD brought about a great victory that day. Then the people came back to him—but only to strip the dead.

11Next to him was Shammah son of Agee, the Hararite. The Philistines gathered together at Lehi, where there was a plot of ground full of lentils; and the army fled from the Philistines. 12But he took his stand in the middle of the plot, defended it, and killed the Philistines; and the LORD brought about a great victory.

13Towards the beginning of harvest three of the thirty d Syr Compare 1 Chr 11.25 : Heb Was he the most renowned of the Three? chiefs went down to join David at the cave of Adullam, while a band of Philistines was encamped in the valley of Rephaim. 14David was then in the stronghold; and the garrison of the Philistines was then at Bethlehem. 15David said longingly, “O that someone would give me water to drink from the well of Bethlehem that is by the gate!” 16Then the three warriors broke through the camp of the Philistines, drew water from the well of Bethlehem that was by the gate, and brought it to David. But he would not drink of it; he poured it out to the LORD, 17for he said, “The LORD forbid that I should do this. Can I drink the blood of the men who went at the risk of their lives?” Therefore he would not drink it. The three warriors did these things.

18Now Abishai son of Zeruiah, the brother of Joab, was chief of the Thirty. e Another reading is the son of Ish‐hai With his spear he fought against three hundred men and killed them, and won a name beside the Three. 19He was the most renowned of the Thirty, f Gk: Heb lacks sons of and became their commander; but he did not attain to the Three.

20Benaiah son of Jehoiada was a valiant warrior g Gk: Heb lacks son of from Kabzeel, a doer of great deeds; he struck down two sons of Ariel h Another reading is Hezrai of Moab. He also went down and killed a lion in a pit on a day when snow had fallen. 21And he killed an Egyptian, a handsome man. The Egyptian had a spear in his hand; but Benaiah went against him with a staff, snatched the spear out of the Egyptian's hand, and killed him with his own spear. 22Such were the things Benaiah son of Jehoiada did, and won a name beside the three warriors. 23He was renowned among the Thirty, but he did not attain to the Three. And David put him in charge of his bodyguard.

24Among the Thirty were Asahel brother of Joab; Elhanan son of Dodo of Bethlehem; 25Shammah of Harod; Elika of Harod; 26Helez the Paltite; Ira son of Ikkesh of Tekoa; 27Abiezer of Anathoth; Mebunnai the Hushathite; 28Zalmon the Ahohite; Maharai of Netophah; 29Heleb son of Baanah of Netophah; Ittai son of Ribai of Gibeah of the Benjaminites; 30Benaiah of Pirathon; Hiddai of the torrents of Gaash; 31Abi‐albon the Arbathite; Azmaveth of Bahurim; 32Eliahba of Shaalbon; the sons of Jashen: Jonathan 33son of a 1 Chr 21.2 Gk: Heb to Joab the commander of the army Shammah the Hararite; Ahiam son of Sharar the Hararite; 34Eliphelet son of Ahasbai of Maacah; Eliam son of Ahithophel the Gilonite; 35Hezro b Gk Mss: Heb encamped in Aroer south of of Carmel; Paarai the Arbite; 36Igal son of Nathan of Zobah; Bani the Gadite; 37Zelek the Ammonite; Naharai of Beeroth, the armor‐bearer of Joab son of Zeruiah; 38Ira the Ithrite; Gareb the Ithrite; 39Uriah the Hittite—thirty‐seven in all.

Notes:

a Heb in sitting

b Gk Vg Compare 1 Chr 11.11 : Meaning of Heb uncertain

c 1 Chr 11.11 : Meaning of Heb uncertain

d Heb adds head

e Two Heb Mss Syr: MT Three

f Syr Compare 1 Chr 11.25 : Heb Was he the most renowned of the Three?

g Another reading is the son of Ish‐hai

h Gk: Heb lacks sons of

a Gk: Heb lacks son of

b Another reading is Hezrai

c 1 Chr 21.2 Gk: Heb to Joab the commander of the army

d Gk Mss: Heb encamped in Aroer south of

Text Commentary view alone

23.1–7 : The last words of David.

There may have been a literary tradition in the Bible of ascribing poems to leading characters as their “last words.” Compare the poems attributed to Jacob in Gen 49 and to Moses in Deut 32–33 . David's last words, though, do not consist of a benediction of Israel. Like Moses, however, David is portrayed as a prophet pronouncing an oracle ( 23.1–2 ). The actual date of David's “last words” is uncertain. In contrast to ch 22, 23.1–7 has no parallel in Psalms.

1

: Anointed, a royal title, here referring to David, echoing the end of ch 22 . Strong One of Israel, an epithet for the LORD.

3

: Rock, see 22.3,47 .

4

: The image of the king as the sun was common in the ancient Near East, especially in Egypt, although less so in Israel.

5

: House, the king's (David's) dynasty. Everlasting covenant, the LORD's promise of a dynasty for David in 7.16; cf. Ps 89.28–29 .

6–7

: These verses continue the image of vv. 3–4 . The godless are like thorns consumed by the sun's heat.

23.8–39 : David's heroes.

8–12

: Nothing more is known about the Three greatest warriors in David's army.

13–17

: This story is not about the three warriors just listed but about three anonymous members of the honor guard of the thirty.

13

: The beginning of harvest, the weather was hot and dry, which is why David became thirsty. The cave of Adullam, “cave” may be an error for “stronghold”; the two words are similar in Hebrew. Adullam was David's headquarters and hideout when he fled from Saul (cf. 1 Sam 22.1–4 ).

14

: Stronghold, the fortress at Adullam. Since a garrison of the Philistines was then at Bethlehem, this must have been early in David's reign or even before he became king. Bethlehem, David's hometown, hence his fond remembrance of the water there.

16–17

: He poured it out to the LORD , a libation or sacrifice to God, a great honor to the three men.

20–23

: Benaiah, the commander of David's bodyguard and later of the army under Solomon.

24

: Asahel seems to be a young warrior aspiring to greatness in the story of his death ( 2.18–23 ). Elhanan killed Goliath ( 21.19 ).

30

: Benaiah, a different man from the Benaiah in vv. 20–23 .

39

: Uriah, Bathsheba's husband (ch 11 ). It is uncertain how the count of thirty‐seven is achieved. The list in vv. 24–39 has thirty names in it. The addition of the “Three” plus Abishai and Benaiah brings the number to thirty‐five. Joab may have been counted as a member of this elite group, though his name is not specifically mentioned. There are textual variations in vv. 24–39 where an additional name may have been read.

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