Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

2 Samuel 2:16

Each one of them seized his opponent by the head and thrust his sword in his opponent's side; so they fell down together. Therefore that place was called Helkath-hazzurim, which is in Gibeon.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Abner;   Armies;   Championship;   David;   Helkath-Hazzurim;   Israel;   Joab;   War;   Scofield Reference Index - Kingdom;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Helkathhazzurim;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Abner;   Joab;   Sport;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Gibeon;   Helkath-Hazzurim;   Joab;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Arms;   War;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Games;   Gibeon;   Helkath-Hazzurim;   Samuel, Books of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Abner;   Games;   Helkath-Hazzurim;   Joab;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Helkathhazzurim ;   Ishbosheth ;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Joab;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Gibeon;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Hel'kath-Haz'zurim;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Helkath-Hazzurim;   War;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Abner;   Helkath Hazzurim;   Ish-Bosheth;   Samuel, Books of;   Sword;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Caught every one his fellow by the head - Probably by the beard, if these persons were not too young to have one, or by the hair of the head. Alexander ordered all the Macedonians to shave their beards; and being asked by Parmenio why they should do so, answered, "Dost thou not know that in battle there is no better hold than the beard?"

Helkath-hazzurim - "The portion of the mighty;" or, "The inheritance of those who were slain," according to the Targum.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 2:16". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/2-samuel-2.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Compare Livy‘s history of the battle between the Horatii and Curiatii. This combat, like that, may have been proposed as a means of avoiding the effusion of blood of two nations united by consanguinity, and having a common powerful enemy in the Philistines.

Helkath-hazzurim - i. e. “the part, field, or plat Genesis 23:19 of the sharp edges or blades.” This seems, on the whole, the best explanation of this rather obscure name.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 2:16". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/2-samuel-2.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And they caught everyone his fellow by the head,.... By the hair of his head with his hand:

and thrust his sword in his fellow's side; which he had in the other:

so they fell down together; the twelve on each side, all the twenty four; some think only the twelve on Abner's side fell; but to me it seems that they all fell dead as one man, since they thrust their swords in each other's sides:

wherefore that place was called Helkathhazzurim, which is in Gibeon; the field of rocks, or of mighty men as strong as rocks, who stood as immovable, and would not give way, but fell and died in the field of battle; the Targum interprets it, the inheritance of the slain.

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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 2:16". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/2-samuel-2.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

And they caught every one his i fellow by the head, and [thrust] his sword in his fellow's side; so they fell down together: wherefore that place was called Helkathhazzurim, which [is] in Gibeon.

(i) Meaning his adversary.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 2:16". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/2-samuel-2.html. 1599-1645.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And they caught every one his fellow by the head, and thrust his sword in his fellow's side; so they fell down together: wherefore that place was called Helkathhazzurim, which is in Gibeon.

By the head — By the hair of the head, which after their manner was of a considerable length.

Helkath-kazzurim — Or, the field of rock; that is, of men who stood like rocks unmovable, each one dying upon the spot where he fought.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 2:16". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/2-samuel-2.html. 1765.

Scofield's Reference Notes

Helkathhazzurim

i.e. Field of Swords.

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These files are considered public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available in the Online Bible Software Library.
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Scofield, C. I. "Scofield Reference Notes on 2 Samuel 2:16". "Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/srn/2-samuel-2.html. 1917.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

2 Samuel 2:16 And they caught every one his fellow by the head, and [thrust] his sword in his fellow’s side; so they fell down together: wherefore that place was called Helkathhazzurim, which [is] in Gibeon.

Ver. 16. And they caught every one his fellow.] With such eagerness and fury met these gallants, that each in others’ side

Capulo tenus abdidit ensem,

sheathed his sword, for a proof of his valour. Talis fait Cadmaea Tugna. But was this valour, or madness rather? Courage or outrage, whether? Josephus saith - but not well - that Abner’s twelve men only were slain. (a)

Helkathhazzurim,] i.e., The field of strong men, or of rocks, i.e., of those that stood firm as rocks, till they fell in the place.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 2:16". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/2-samuel-2.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

2 Samuel 2:16. They caught every one his fellow by the head i.e. By the hair of the head, or beard. See 2 Samuel 20:9. Plutarch tells us, in his Apophthegms, that all things being prepared for a battle, Alexander's captains asked him, whether he had any thing else to command them? "Nothing," said he, "but that the Macedonians shave their beards." Parmenio wondering what he meant, "Don't you know," replied he, "that there is no better hold in fight than the beard."

REFLECTIONS.—The ambition of Abner, (who was general to Saul,) and zeal for his family, prevail upon him to set up Ish-bosheth, the only surviving and legitimate son of Saul as king; and whilst David, in dependance upon God's promises, remained quiet at Hebron, Abner, by his assiduity, gained over the land of Gilead beyond Jordan first, and then all the tribes but Judah, to acknowledge Ish-bosheth. And thus began that competition which, after two years of peace and five of war, terminated in the death of Ish-bosheth, and the entire submission of all the tribes to David. Note; Before we come to the throne, our faith will be tried, and we must expect war in the gates.

1. Abner begins the war, which, as it seems, David would never have entered into, though his right to the crown was so evident, if he had not been obliged; so desirous was he, rather to preserve the lives of those who should be his future subjects, than treat them now as rebels against his crown.

2. Abner seeing Joab, probably, backward to engage, David being unwilling to shed Israelitish blood, challenges him to produce twelve men of Judah, against twelve of his Israelites, to play before them, that is, fight so many duels; for, to a fierce warrior, blood and wounds are sport and pastime. Joab, like too many, had entertained those false notions of honour, according to which he dared not refuse the challenge; the men are selected, matched, enter the lists, and engage: each instantly seizes his fellow, plunges his sword into the other's side, and all of them fall together; so lavish are generals often of the lives of their brave soldiers, to gratify their caprice. The place, from this occurrence, is called הצרים חלקת cehelkath hazzurim, The Field of Rocks, from the brave men, hardy and firm as rocks, who fell there. Note; (1.) They buy honour very dear, who purchase it at the expence of their brother's blood. (2.) False notions of honour are among the accursed wiles that Satan employs for the destruction both of men's bodies and souls.

3. The general battle hereupon ensues, and Abner and his forces are routed. They who thus stir up strife, often meddle to their own hurt; and it is just in God, to punish the aggressor, and cover those with shame who seek to advance themselves upon their neighbour's ruin.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 2:16". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/2-samuel-2.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

By the head; by the hair of the head, which after their manner was of a considerable length, and therefore gave their enemy advantage; which every one of them endeavoured to get, and to improve against the other.

Helkath-hazzurim, or

the field of rocks, i. e. of men who stood like rocks, unmovable, each one dying upon the spot where he fought.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 2 Samuel 2:16". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/2-samuel-2.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

16.By the head — By the hair of the head or by the beard. Alexander, before entering into battle, ordered his men to shave their beards, because, said he, “in battle there is no better hold for the enemy than a beard.”

They fell down together — The whole twenty-four of them. “The left-handed Benjamites, and the right-handed men of Judah — their sword hands thus coming together — seized each his adversary by the head, and the whole number fell by the mutual wounds they received.” — Stanley.

Helkath-hazzurim — Hebrew, smoothness of the rocks; apparently in reference to a smooth, rocky surface on which the combatants fought. Other explanations of the name have been given, as, the field of the plotters; field of strong men; field of swords; field of sharp edges; but none of them are sufficiently careful of the meaning of the Hebrew words.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 2:16". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/2-samuel-2.html. 1874-1909.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Together. Some understand this only of Abner's soldiers, as the original may be explained: "And they (David's men) caught every on one his," &c. But it is more generally believed that all fell. (Calmet) --- Rufin has erroneously translated Josephus in the former sense, and has lead Comestor, Lyranus, &c., into this opinion. (Tirinus) --- Valiant. Hebrew, "the portion of the smooth stones, (hatsurim, 1 Kings xvii. 40. or) of the brave." (Calmet)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 2:16". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/2-samuel-2.html. 1859.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

And they caught every one his fellow by the head, and thrust his sword in his fellow's side; so they fell And they caught every one his fellow by the head, and thrust his sword in his fellow's side; so they fell down together: wherefore that place was called Helkath-hazzurim, which is in Gibeon.

That place was called Helkath-hazzurim, [ Chelqat-ha-Tsuriym (Hebrew #2521), field of the swords].

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 2:16". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/2-samuel-2.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(16) Helkath – hazzurim is interpreted in the margin “the field of strong men,” but the etymology is very doubtful. Most modern expositors understand it as meaning “the field of sharp edges.”

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 2:16". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/2-samuel-2.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And they caught every one his fellow by the head, and thrust his sword in his fellow's side; so they fell down together: wherefore that place was called Helkathhazzurim, which is in Gibeon.
by the head
Probably by the beard or hair of the head. Plutarch, in his Apophthegms, informs us, that all things being ready for a battle, Alexander's captains asked him whether he had any thing else to command them. "Nothing," said he, "but that the Macedonians shave their beards." Parmenio wondering what he meant, "Dost thou not know," said he, "that in fight, there is no better hold than the beard?"
Helkath-hazzurim
that is, the field of strong men.
Reciprocal: Joshua 19:25 - Helkath;  2 Samuel 2:26 - it will be;  1 Kings 20:20 - they slew;  Acts 1:19 - Aceldama

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 2:16". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/2-samuel-2.html.