Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

2 Samuel 2:18

Now the three sons of Zeruiah were there, Joab and Abishai and Asahel; and Asahel was as swift-footed as one of the gazelles which is in the field.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Abner;   Asahel;   David;   Deer;   Homicide;   Israel;   Joab;   War;   Zeruiah;   Thompson Chain Reference - Abishai;   Animals;   Asahel;   Deer;   Joab;   Zeruiah;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Beasts;   Feet, the;   Roe, the;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Abishai;   Asahel;   Gibeon;   Roe and Roebuck;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Abishai;   Abner;   Joab;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Abishai;   Asahel;   Joab;   Roe;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Ahimaaz;   High Priest;   Joab;   Naphtali;   Roe;   War;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Asahel;   Samuel, Books of;   Son of God;   Zeruiah;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Abishai;   Abner;   Asahel;   Gazelle;   Gibeon;   Joab;   Pool, Pond;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Abner ;   Asahel ;   Zeruiah ;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Joab;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Abishai;   Asahel;   Gibeon;   Smith Bible Dictionary - As'ahel;   Roe, Roebuck;   War;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Asahel;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Abishai;   Asahel;   Deer;   Games;   Gazelle;   Roe;   Zeruiah;   Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia - Abner;   Asahel;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Abner;   Asa;   Asahel;   Ish-Bosheth;   Roe;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Asahel was as light of foot as a wild roe - To be swift of foot was deemed a great accomplishment in the heroes of antiquity; ποδας ωκυς Αχιλλευς, the swift-footed Achilles, is an epithet which Homer gives to that hero no less than thirty times in the course of the Ilias. It has a qualification also among the Roman soldiers; they were taught both to run swiftly, and to swim well.

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 2:18". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/2-samuel-2.html. 1832.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

ABNER KILLED ASAHEL; THE BROTHER OF JOAB

"And the three sons of Zeruiah were there, Joab, Abishai and Asahel. Now Asahel was as swift of foot as a wild gazelle; and Asahei pursued Abner, and as he went he turned neither to the right hand or to the left from following Abner. Then Abner looked behind him and said, "Is it you Asahel"? And he answered, "It is I" Abner said to him, "Turn aside to your right hand or to your left, and seize one of the young men, and take his spoil." But Asahel would not turn aside from following him. And Abner said again to Asahel, "Turn aside from following me; why should I smite you to the ground? How then could I lift up my face to your brother Joab"? But he refused to turn aside; therefore Abner smote him in the belly with the butt of his spear, so that the spear came out at his back; and he fell there, and died where he was. And all who came to the place where Asahel had fallen and died, stood still."

This encounter between Abner and Asahel is related here because of its importance, resulting, as it did, in the death of Abner, David's principal opponent, and of David's nephew, Asahel.

"The three sons of Zeruiah were Joab, Abishai and Asahel" (2 Samuel 2: 18). "Zeruiah was a sister of King David; and her three sons, David's nephews, all held important positions of trust in David's army."[16] Joab commanded his army; Abishai was with David when they found Saul asleep and pleaded with David to allow him to kill Saul (1 Samuel 26:6-12); both he and Asahel were reckoned among David's thirty mighty men (2 Samuel 23:8-38; 1 Chronicles 11:26ff). Strangely enough, the father of these mighty men was never mentioned. This was probably due, as Barker thought, "Either to the widowhood of Zeruiah, or that, as David's sister, she was more prominent than her spouse."[17]

"Asahel was as swift as a wild gazelle" (2 Samuel 2:18). Swiftness of foot was one of the most important abilities in ancient warfare. And, significantly, David in his ode to Saul and Jonathan in the previous chapter eulogized them both as "swift as eagles and as strong as lions."

Abner's forces proved to be no match for David's hardened veterans of many conflicts. Perhaps most of Abner's really able soldiers had been killed in the disastrous defeat by the Philistines in the mountains of Gilboa. Only Abner's superior ability prevented him from being numbered among the slain. Asahel isolated the commanding general Abner, intending to take his armour as spoil. "To gain the general's armour was deemed the grandest trophy";[18] and Asahel pursued Abner with the purpose of killing him and taking his armor. After repeated pleas by Abner for Asahel to turn aside, the skilled commander of Ishbosheth's forces stopped suddenly, at the same time making a backward thrust with his spear, the butt of which had been sharpened in order for it to be stuck in the ground at Abner's head at nights (1 Samuel 26:7). That fatal thrust through Asahel's body ended the conflict.

"Why should I smite you to the ground? How then could I lift up my face to your brother Joab?" (2 Samuel 2:22). Abner's reluctance to slay Asahel was doubtless due to his unwillingness to incur the hatred and certain vengeance of Joab, who, as the avenger of blood, would have the right to kill Abner, unless he remained inside of one of the cities of refuge.

"And all who came to the place where Asahel had fallen and died, stood still" (2 Samuel 2:23). We find no agreement possible with the critical nonsense that, "Such a standing still of the people is out of place"[19] We find this remark an indelible identification by an eye-witness of what really happened. This writer was once called to a field where a dear friend had been suddenly killed; and that memory of how his body lay so still, so very still, is yet vivid after seventy five years! Others also stood there; they stood still and silent. That is exactly what happened here. When Asahel's fellow soldiers came upon the slain body of `the Young Gazelle,' how shocked and how conscious they were of our common mortality, because the silence and stillness of eternity had fallen upon one whom they loved. Porter was certainly correct in his comment that, "So tragic was Asahel's fate and so great was the affection of David's men for him, that all further pursuit of Abner's defeated troops ceased; and all they that came up remained standing by his body."[20] After an interval, of course, Joab and Abishai rallied their men to resume the pursuit of Abner.

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 2:18". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/2-samuel-2.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And there were three sons of Zeruiah there,.... In the battle:

Joab, and Abishai, and Asahel; Joab was the general of the array, Abishai was he who went into Saul's host at night, and took away his spear and cruse of water at his head, 1 Samuel 26:6; and it is for the sake of the third, Asahel, that the account is given, the story of his death being about to be told.

And Asahel was as light of foot as a wild roe: swiftness of foot, as well as courage, for which this man was famous, 1 Chronicles 11:26; was a very great qualification for a warriorF5Cornel. Nepos, Epaminond. l. 2. . So Achilles, in HomerF6 ποδας ωκυς, Iliad. 1. lin. 15. , is often said to be swift of foot, and others of his heroes are commended for their swiftness. Harold son of King Canutus, was from his swiftnessF7Rapin's History of England, vol. 1. p. 128. called Harefoot; as here this man for the same reason is compared to a wild roe, which is a very swift creature, or to one of the roes that were in the field as in the original text. See Song of Solomon 2:7; one sort of which, called "kemas", is said to run as swift as a tempestF8Aelian. Hist. de Animal, l. 14. c. 14. .

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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 2:18". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/2-samuel-2.html. 1999.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

2 Samuel 2:18 And there were three sons of Zeruiah there, Joab, and Abishai, and Asahel: and Asahel [was as] light of foot as a wild roe.

Ver. 18. Light of foot as a wild roe.] Josephus saith he could make as much speed as a horse. Achilles was ποδας ωκυς, swift of foot; so was Jonathan. [2 Samuel 1:23] Harold, son of Canutus, the Dane, king of England, was surnamed Harefoot, for his agility and swiftness. This is excellent in a soldier.

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 2:18". 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 2:18. And Asahel was as light of foot as a wild roe Asahel was a gallant man, and one of David's twelve captains, remarkably valiant, but more remarkably swift; light of foot as a roe in the field. See 1 Chronicles 12:8. Hasselquist's Travels, p. 190 and Shaw's Travels, part 2: p. 414.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 2:18". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/2-samuel-2.html. 1801-1803.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

18.Three sons of Zeruiah — Zeruiah was their mother, and a sister of David. “Their father is unknown, but seems to have resided at Beth-lehem, and to have died before his sons, as we find mention of his sepulchre at that place. 2 Samuel 2:32. They all exhibit the activity and courage of David’s constitutional character. But they never rise beyond this to the nobler qualities which lift him above the wild soldiers and chieftains of the time. Asahel, who was cut off in his youth, and seems to have been the darling of the family, is only known to us from his gazelle-like agility. Abishai and Joab are alike in their implacable revenge. Joab, however, combines with these ruder qualities something of a more statesmanlike character, which brings him more nearly to a level with his youthful uncle, and unquestionably gives him the second place in the whole history of David’s reign.” — Stanley.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 2:18". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/2-samuel-2.html. 1874-1909.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Woods. Swiftness was one great qualification of a warrior, chap. i. 23. Homer generally styles Achilles, "the swift-footed."

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 2:18". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/2-samuel-2.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

as a wild roe = as one of the gazelles which are in the field.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 2:18". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/2-samuel-2.html. 1909-1922.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And there were three sons of Zeruiah there, Joab, and Abishai, and Asahel: and Asahel was as light of foot as a wild roe.
three
1 Chronicles 2:15,16; 11:26
was as light
1:23; 1 Chronicles 12:8; Psalms 147:10,11; Ecclesiastes 9:11; Amos 2:14
foot
Heb. his feet. a wild roe. Heb. one of the roes that is in the field.
Psalms 18:33; Song of Solomon 2:17; 8:14; Habakkuk 3:19
The word {tzevee,} rather denotes the gazelle or antelope
(See note on De 15:22.)
Reciprocal: 1 Samuel 26:6 - to Abishai;  2 Samuel 2:13 - Joab;  2 Samuel 14:1 - Joab;  2 Samuel 20:6 - Abishai;  2 Samuel 22:34 - like hinds';  2 Samuel 23:18 - Abishai;  2 Samuel 23:24 - Asahel;  1 Chronicles 11:6 - Joab;  1 Chronicles 11:20 - Abishai;  1 Chronicles 27:7 - Asahel;  Joel 2:7 - They shall run

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Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 2:18". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/2-samuel-2.html.