Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

2 Samuel 17:8

Moreover, Hushai said, "You know your father and his men, that they are mighty men and they are fierce, like a bear robbed of her cubs in the field. And your father is an expert in warfare, and will not spend the night with the people.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Ahithophel;   Armies;   Bear;   Council;   Diplomacy;   Falsehood;   Friendship;   Spies;   Strategy;   War;   Thompson Chain Reference - Animals;   Bears;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Bear, the;   Beasts;   Prudence;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Ahithophel;   Amasa;   Bear;   Hushai;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Absalom;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Animals;   Friend, Friendship;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Ahithophel;   Bear;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Soul;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Bear;   Samuel, Books of;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Ahithophel ;   Bear,;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Absalom;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Ahith'ophel;   Bear;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Chafed;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Bear;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Hebrew Monarchy, the;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Bear;   Chafe;   Swine;   Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia - Bear;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Absalom;   Bear;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

As a bear robbed of her whelps - All wild beasts are very furious when robbed of their young; but we have some remarkable instances of the maternal affection of the bear in such circumstances; see one at the end of the chapter.

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 17:8". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/2-samuel-17.html. 1832.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

For (said Hushai) thou knowest thy father and his men, that they be mighty men,.... Men of courage and valour, and not such weak-handed and weak-hearted men, and so easily intimidated, as Ahithophel suggests:

and they be chafed in their minds; or "bitter in soul"F6מרי נפש "amari animo", Pagninus, Montanus; "amaro animo", V. L. Tigurine version, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. ; not merely filled with trouble and anguish, and depressed in their spirits, on account of that, as the phrase sometimes signifies; but enraged and full of wrath at the rebellion raised against their prince, which obliged them with him to leave their habitations; and now being desperate, their all lying at stake, their wives and children, their families and estates, they would fight furiously in the defence of the king and themselves, and not so soon flee as Ahithophel had represented:

as a bear robbed of her whelps in the field; a bear is a very furious creature, especially a she bear, and the more when it has whelps, and more so when deprived of themF7Aristot. Hist. Animal. l. 6. c. 18. & 9. 1. , when it ranges about in the field, and in its fury attacks whomsoever it meets with; See Gill on Hosea 13:8,

and thy father is a man of war; not only bold and courageous, but expert and skilful in all the arts of war and not easy to be surprised and circumvented, as Ahithophel intimated:

and will not lodge with the people; in the camp, but at some distance from it; partly to prevent any traitorous design upon him in it, and partly that he might not be surprised by the enemy, knowing that their chief view was to seize his person; and therefore as it would not be easy to find him where he was, he could not be smitten alone, as Ahithophel proposed.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 17:8". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/2-samuel-17.html. 1999.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

2 Samuel 17:8 For, said Hushai, thou knowest thy father and his men, that they [be] mighty men, and they [be] chafed in their minds, as a bear robbed of her whelps in the field: and thy father [is] a man of war, and will not lodge with the people.

Ver. 8. They be mighty men.] Mighty indeed they were, whereas some one of them could lift up his hand against a hundred, two hundred, three hundred of the enemy. [2 Samuel 23:18-21] And David himself was of known valour. Our Richard II, when dethroned and committed to Pomfret Castle, was there assaulted by eight assassins, four of whom he valiantly killed. What would David have done then, think we? who as when he was young he fought with great Goliath and slew him, so, long after this rebellion of Absalom, and when he was well in years, he encountered Ishbibenob the giant, the weight of whose spear weighed three hundred shekels of brass in weight; [2 Samuel 21:16] surely he with his old soldiers would have made some work among Absalom’s raw men, fresh water soldiers.

As a bear robbed.] So they, forced to leave all they have, will redouble their resolution to recover what they have lost: and who knoweth not that anger is the whetstone of valour? and that men enraged will venture their utmost?

And thy father is a man of war.] A wary warrior, and expert in stratagems of all sorts: let him alone to look to one.

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 17:8". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/2-samuel-17.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

2 Samuel 17:8. They be chased in their minds, as a bear robbed of her whelps The curious have, in general, long since remarked the coarseness of the images used in the Eastern writings. I have met with instances of this kind, which may serve to illustrate some passages of Scripture more perfectly than I have yet seen. In particular, Hushai's comparing David and his men, in this place, to a bear robbed of her whelps, appears to us very odd; and it shocks our delicacy much more when we find it applied to the Majesty of heaven, Lamentations 3:10. This, however, is entirely owing to the difference of the taste of the Europeans, from that of the people of the Levant. We in England, when we compare a person to a bear, have something of a disagreeable fierceness, and awkward roughness in view; and therefore these paintings give us pain. But though we do, the Eastern nations do not, blend these ideas with those of strength and terribleness in displeasure: that, therefore, which appears an indecent comparison to us, was none to them: and, accordingly, this image still continues in use among those people. Maillet, in his 11th letter, informs us, that Saladine going one day from Cairo up to the castle he had built there, and causing his brother Sirocoe, who had accompanied him, to take a view of its works and buildings, said to him, "This castle, and all Egypt, will be one day the possession of your children." Sirocoe replying, that it was wrong to talk after that manner, since heaven had given him children to succeed to the crown, Saladine rejoined, "My children are born in Egypt, where men degenerate, and lose their spirit and bravery; but yours are born in the mountains of Circassia, of a man that possesses the fierceness of bears, and their courage." The event justified the prediction, the posterity of Saladine reigning but a few years in Egypt after the death of that great prince. Here the reader sees Sirocoe compared to bears by an Eastern prince, when an eulogium was intended, and not the least disrespectful hint designed. See Observations, p. 321 and Scheuehzer, tom. 5: p. 13.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 17:8". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/2-samuel-17.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Mighty men; of approved courage and strength, therefore not so soon vanquished as Ahithophel supposeth.

Chafed in their minds, Heb. bitter of soul, inflamed with rage; desperate, and therefore resolved to sell their lives at a dear rate.

A man of war; a wise prince and general; who knowing of what importance it is to secure his own person, and that your great design is against his life, will doubtless use extraordinary care to keep out of your reach, which he may easily do.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 2 Samuel 17:8". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/2-samuel-17.html. 1685.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

men. Hebrew. "enosh. App-14.

mighty men. Hebrew. gibborim. App-14.

chafed = bitter.

minds = souls. Hebrew. nephesh. App-13.

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Bibliographical Information
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 17:8". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/2-samuel-17.html. 1909-1922.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

For, said Hushai, thou knowest thy father and his men, that they be mighty men, and they be chafed in their minds, as a bear robbed of her whelps in the field: and thy father is a man of war, and will not lodge with the people.
mighty men
15:18; 21:18-22; 23:8,9,16,18,20-22; 1 Samuel 16:18; 17:34-36,50; 1 Chronicles 11:25-47; Hebrews 11:32-34
chafed in their minds
Heb. bitter of soul.
Judges 18:25
as a bear
2 Kings 2:24; Proverbs 17:12; 28:15; Daniel 7:5; Hosea 13:8
thy father is
1 Samuel 23:23
Reciprocal: 1 Samuel 1:10 - in bitterness of soul;  1 Samuel 18:25 - thought;  1 Samuel 22:2 - discontented;  1 Samuel 30:6 - grieved;  Job 21:25 - in the bitterness

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Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 17:8". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/2-samuel-17.html.