Lectionary Calendar
Monday, May 20th, 2024
the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
2 Samuel 24

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 1-25

1 Samuel 24. The Census (J). ( Cf. p. 292.)— This event also may belong to the beginning of David’ s reign over all Israel.

2 Samuel 24:1-9 . Here is another illustration of the imperfect recognition of the moral nature of Yahweh in the primitive documents. No one is conscious of sin, yet Yahweh, for some inscrutable, arbitrary reason, is angry with His people. Accordingly, He induces David to commit an obvious sin, so that He may have a justification for punishing Israel. It is useless to ask why a census was sinful; such ideas go too far back for us to trace their origin ( Numbers 31:50 *). In the Priestly Code censuses are taken quite happily. The subsequent advance of religious thought in Israel is indicated by the fact that in 1 Chronicles 21:1, it is Satan who induces David to take the census. Controlled by a baneful inspiration, David is incapable of listening to reason, he turns a deaf ear to the protests of Joab and his officers, and the census is taken. In considering the theology of this chapter, the reader will appreciate the relief which we obtain when we realise that such passages are records, preserved by the Divine Providence for our instruction, of a primitive and imperfect interpretation of the ways of God. The enumerators began at the S. of E. Palestine; went to the extreme N.; then westward; then they traversed W. Palestine from N. to S. The numbers differ in Ch. and in MSS of LXX, and are no doubt exaggerated.

2 Samuel 24:6 . Tahtim-hodshi. . . Dan-jaan: corrupt readings; there is no certain restoration; but it is clear that the enumerators went to the northern Dan, the extreme point of the territory of Israel northwards.

2 Samuel 24:10-17 . Yahweh now removes the misleading influence from David, so that he comes to himself and is penitent. Yahweh offers him a choice of three punishments; famine for three (so with 1 Chronicles 21:12) years; disastrous war for three months; pestilence for three days. In 2 Samuel 24:15 most scholars follow LXX in reading: “ So David chose the pestilence. And in the days of the wheat harvest, the plague began among the people and slew of the people seventy thousand men.” Then, when the plague was on the point of reaching Jerusalem, David interceded with Yahweh, and He stayed the plague, apparently before the three days had elapsed.

2 Samuel 24:18-25 . By Gad’ s direction David builds an altar and offers sacrifices; the plague is stayed. If 2 Samuel 24:16 f. belongs to the original story, Yahweh was not placated by the sacrifices, but had already bidden the destroying angel stay his hand. David buys a threshing floor and oxen for fifty shekels of silver— Araunah’ s offer of them as a gift is only another piece of Oriental courtesy. The site of this altar is identified with that of the altar of burnt offering in Solomon’ s Temple. In 1 Chronicles 21 David buys “ the place” for six hundred shekels of gold.

Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 24". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pfc/2-samuel-24.html. 1919.
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