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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
2 Samuel 21

 

 

Introduction

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 1-14

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.

1 Samuel 21:1-14. The Story of Rizpah (J). (Cf. above.)—This section and ch. 24 are probably by the same hand They are no doubt ancient, but do not belong to the same source as 1 Samuel 9-20. We have here striking illustrations of the primitive theology of Israel: misfortune, e.g. famine, is regarded as necessarily the punishment of sin. When misfortune comes, the obvious course is to inquire what sin has caused it. Owing to the solidarity of the nation and the family, punishment of sin may fall on the fellow-countrymen or the kinsfolk of the sinner. Saul treacherously massacres the Gibeonites; therefore Israel is afflicted with a famine till the Gibeonites and Yahweh are appeased by the execution of seven of Saul's sons and grandsons. This event probably happened not long after David became king of all Israel.

2 Samuel 21:1-9. To ascertain the cause of a prolonged famine, David seeks the face of Yahweh, i.e. inquires of an oracle; and learns that it is due to Saul having massacred the Gibeonites in spite of their covenant (Joshua 9), with Israel. In 2 Samuel 21:1 read with LXX, "The guilt of blood rests on Saul and on his house." The Gibeonites decline compensation in money, and demand seven descendants of Saul, to be put to death at the sanctuary at Gibeon as a sacrifice to Yahweh. (So generally ICC, on the basis of LXX.) The meaning of the word, RV "hang," denoting the mode of execution, is unknown. Their request was granted and the famine ceased. [J. G. Frazer thinks that the "execution was not a mere punishment, but that it partook of the nature of a rain-charm," since magical ceremonies to procure rain are often performed with dead men's bones (Adonis Attis Osiris, i. 22). The famine was no doubt due to lack of rain.—A. S. P.] In 1 Samuel 8 read Merab (1 Samuel 18:19) for Michal.

2 Samuel 21:10-14. Rizpah, the mother of five of the victims, watches day and night over their remains till David has them buried with the bones of Saul and Jonathan.


Verses 14-22

1 Samuel 21:15-15. David's Heroes (first section). Cf. above. (J).—These verses are probably from the same source as 2 Samuel 23:8 ff., and the source is no doubt ancient. The events in 2 Samuel 21:15 ff. and 2 Samuel 23:8 ff. belong to various periods in the life of David.

2 Samuel 21:15-17. Abishai Rescues David.—The text of 2 Samuel 21:16 is corrupt; the general sense seems to have been:

At Gob, some place otherwise unknown, David was in danger from a giant whose name has been lost through corruption of the text.

2 Samuel 21:18-22. David's warriors slay three Philistine giants one of them Goliath, who is slain by Elhanan the son of Jair (so with 1 Chronicles 20:5). Note the varying tradition as to Goliath; it seems more likely that the exploit of an obscure individual should be credited to David than vice versa. Ch. removes the discrepancy by altering Bethlehemite into "Lahmi the brother of" (Goliath), and AV has made a similar alteration.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 21:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/2-samuel-21.html. 1919.

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Sunday, December 15th, 2019
the Third Week of Advent
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