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Bible Commentaries
2 Samuel 23

Peake's Commentary on the BiblePeake's Commentary


1 Samuel 21-24. These chapters form an appendix of material from various sources. One of the editors, perhaps the one to whom the book substantially owes its present form, seems to have met with difficulties in an attempted rearrangement of some of the material; finding no other convenient place for 2 Samuel 21:1-14, 2 Samuel 24, he added them at the end, as a kind of appendix. He or someone else inserted between them the catalogue of heroes ( 2 Samuel 21:15-22, 2 Samuel 23:8-39); later on someone inserted 1 Samuel 22 and 1 Samuel 23:8-29 in the middle of the catalogue. The reader must remember that ancient editors and scribes had no assistance from divisions of chapters and verses or headings; and that only the consonants were written, so that it was not possible to see at a glance where was the most suitable place for an addition.

The proper continuation of ch. 20 is 1 Kings 1.

Verses 1-7

1 Samuel 23:1-7 . The Last Words of David ( cf. above).— This poem is generally held to be a late production and not composed by David. “ Saith” (twice) in 1 Samuel 23:1, is the solemn ne’ um, “ oracle” ( Numbers 24:3). Instead of “ sweet psalmist of Israel,” render “ him whom Israel delights to praise” ( cf. RVm). 2 Samuel 23:4 should run:

He shall dawn like the light of morning,

Like the sun on a morning without clouds.

The text and translation of the last line, and of 2 Samuel 23:5-7, are uncertain; there is no agreement amongst scholars as to how they are to be restored, so that one cannot offer anything which is an assured improvement on RV, except at one or two points. 2 Samuel 23:5 should open, “ Verily my house is sure with God” ; the last line of the verse should be taken with what follows.

Verses 8-39

1 Samuel 23:8-29 . David’ s Heroes ( continued) .— The Three and the Thirty (J). ( Cf. above.)

2 Samuel 23:8-12 . 2 Samuel 23:8 must be emended to read, instead of Josheb, etc., “ Ishbaal the Hachmonite, chief of the three, he lifted up his spear against eight hundred, etc.” 2 Samuel 23:9 should read “ Eleazar ben Dodo the Ahohite, one of the three mighty men, was with David at Pas-dammim ( 1 Samuel 17:1), when the Philistines were there gathered together to battle, and the men of Israel retreated.” Shammah’ s exploit was when the Philistines were assembled “ at Lehi” ( Judges 15:9), not “ into a troop.”

2 Samuel 23:13-17 . Read 2 Samuel 23:13: And three of the thirty went down and came to the rock to David to the hold of Adullam,” SBOT.

2 Samuel 23:18-23 . Read 2 Samuel 23:18: “ And Abishai . . . was chief of the Thirty, . . . and had a name among the Thirty,” or “ like that of the Three.” In 2 Samuel 23:20, the text is hopelessly corrupt; but apparently Benaiah slew two young lions and a lion, “ Ariel” having arisen through the mistaken combination of ’ ari, “ lion” with letters belonging to another word. 2 Samuel 23:22 should be emended at the end like 2 Samuel 23:18.

2 Samuel 23:24-39 . Note that the Three are men of whom we learn nothing elsewhere, apparently remarkable for nothing but personal strength and skill in hand-to-hand fighting They would enjoy public importance and popularity comparable to those accorded to famous cricketers and footballers nowadays; the Thirty enjoyed the same distinction in a less degree. They indeed include men of note in other ways: Asahel ben Zeruiah; also a son of Ahithophel, and Uriah the Hittite, besides Abishai, and Benaiah, the Captain of the Bodyguard. But the bulk of the Thirty are otherwise unknown. Joab, the most powerful man and the finest military commander in Israel, David himself not excepted, belongs to neither body; but his armour-bearers belong to the Thirty; that indicates the value of the distinction. According to 2 Samuel 23:39 the Thirty numbered thirty-seven. Possibly the original number was not adhered to; or the list may include some who were slain like Asahel and Uriah, together with those who replaced them.

Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 23". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pfc/2-samuel-23.html. 1919.
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