Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

2 Samuel 23:13

Then three of the thirty chief men went down and came to David in the harvest time to the cave of Adullam, while the troop of the Philistines was camping in the valley of Rephaim.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Adullam;   Armies;   Cave;   Eleazar (Eleazer);   Philistines;   Rephaim;   Thompson Chain Reference - Adullam;   Caves;   Rephaim;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Harvest, the;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Adullam;   Shammah;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Courage;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Drink;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Bethlehem;   David;   Giants;   Jashobeam;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Adullam;   David;   Giants;   Rephaim, Valley of;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Abishai;   Adullam;   Mighty Men;   Samuel, Books of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Giant;   Ithrite, the;   Samuel, Books of;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Adullam ;   Army;   Rephaim, Valley of;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Rephaim;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Adul'lam;   Reph'a-Im, the Valley of,;   Sham'mah;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Bethlehem;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Hebrew Monarchy, the;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Adullam;   David;   Harvest;   Rephaim, Vale of;   Shammah;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Adullam;   Beth-Lehem-Judah;   Caves in Palestine;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

And three of the thirty - The word שלשים shalishim, which we translate thirty, probably signifies an office or particular description of men. Of these shalishim we have here thirty-seven, and it can scarcely be said with propriety that we have thirty-seven out of thirty; and besides, in the parallel place, 1 Chronicles 11:11-47, there are sixteen added. The captains over Pharaoh's chariots are termed שלשים shalishim, Exodus 14:7.

The Philistines pitched in the valley of Rephaim - This is the same war which is spoken of 2 Samuel 5:17, etc.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 23:13". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/2-samuel-23.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

The feat at Bethlehem by three of the thirty was the occasion of their being formed into a distinct triad; Abishai 2 Samuel 23:18, Benaiah 2 Samuel 23:20, and a third not named, were probably the three.

In the harvest time - An error for “to the rock” (compare the marginal reference).

The troop of the Philistines - The word rendered “troop” occurs in this sense only here (and, according to some, in 2 Samuel 23:11), and perhaps in Psalm 68:11. In 2 Samuel 23:16 the reading is “host” or “camp,” which may be the true reading here.

Pitched - The same Hebrew word as “encamped” in 1 Chronicles 11:15.

Valley of Rephaim - Or Giants. See 2 Samuel 21:16 note.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 23:13". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/2-samuel-23.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

WATER FROM THE WELL OF BETHLEHEM

"And three of the thirty chief men went down, and came about harvest time and came to David at the cave of Adullum, when a band of the Philistines was encamped in the valley of Rephaim. David was then in the stronghold; and the garrison of the Philistines was then at Bethlehem. And David said longingly, "O that someone would give me water to drink from the well of Bethlehem which is by the gate"! Then the three mighty men broke through the camp of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem which was by the gate, and took and brought it to David. But he would not drink of it; he poured it out to the Lord, and said, "Far be it from me, O Lord, that I should do this. Shall I drink the blood of the men who went at the risk of their lives"? Therefore, he would not drink it. These things did the three mighty men."

"Three of the thirty chief men ... These things did the three mighty men" (2 Samuel 23:13,17). There is a difference of opinion among scholars as to whether or not the "three mighty men" who brought David the water from the well at Bethlehem were the same as "the three" mentioned in 2 Samuel 23:9. The mention of a total of thirty-seven men in 2 Samuel 23:39 favors the view of Smith that, "The number 37 is exact, there being thirty ordinary members; and, since Asahel was deceased, we have a replacement mentioned, giving thirty-one names in the list of the thirty, plus three chiefs of the first class, and three chiefs of the second class."[13]

Cook also agreed, "This reckoning is correct; although only 36 names are given, the names of only two of the second triad being given; but 31 names are given in 2 Samuel 23:24-39, which, added to the two triads of six, makes 37."[14] Thus there were two companies of "the three"; and it was that second group who brought the water from Bethlehem.

This leaves unexplained why "the three" are said to be of "the thirty chief men" (2 Samuel 23:13), but it might mean that they were closely associated with them as also were the first triad.

This touching story of David's refusal to drink water which had been procured for him at the personal risk of the lives of his men is one of the most beautiful in the Bible and stresses the deeply religious nature of King David. This story also emphasizes the contrast in David's life before and after his fall. Here he would not drink the blood of the men who had risked their lives for him; but after his fall, "At a later time, under different circumstances, he did not hesitate to have one of the thirty killed on the battlefield in order to get his wife and (in a vain attempt) to cover his own adultery."[15]

"Water from the well at Bethlehem" (2 Samuel 23:15). "Today, Bethlehem is supplied with water by an aqueduct; and the wells close to the city no longer exist. There is a cistern called David's Well three quarters of a mile north of Bethlehem, too far away to be the well that David meant."[16]

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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 23:13". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/2-samuel-23.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And three of the thirty chiefs went down,.... Or three that were chief of the thirty, superior to them; which some understand of the three before mentioned, so JosephusF23Antiqu. l. 7. c. 12. sect. 4. ; and that having related some particular exploits of theirs, here observes one, in which they were all concerned; and others think the three next are meant, of whom Abishai was the chief, Benaiah the next, and the third Asahel; but the first sense is best:

and came to David in the harvest time, unto the cave of Adullam; not when he was there, upon his flight from Saul, 1 Samuel 22:1; but after he was king, when engaged in war with the Philistines; perhaps wheat harvest is here meant:

and the troop of the Philistines pitched in the valley of Rephaim; the army of the Philistines, as the Targum; of the valley of Rephaim; see Gill on Joshua 15:8.

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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 23:13". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/2-samuel-23.html. 1999.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

2 Samuel 23:13 And three of the thirty chief went down, and came to David in the harvest time unto the cave of Adullam: and the troop of the Philistines pitched in the valley of Rephaim.

Ver. 13. And three of the thirty chief.] Or, The three captains over the thirty; viz., those three afore mentioned.

In the valley of Rephaim.] About the beginning of David’s reign. [2 Samuel 5:17-18]

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 23:13". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/2-samuel-23.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Three of the thirty; either,

1. The three already named, as is generally supposed, because it is said of them, in the close of this history, 1 Chronicles 11:19, These things did these three mightiest. But in the Hebrew it is only these three mighty men, as the same words are rendered here, 2 Samuel 23:17. Or rather,

2. The following

three; for it is expressly said, both here, 2 Samuel 23:18, and 1 Chronicles 11:20, that

Abishai was chief, and therefore one of the three; and this three are plainly distinguished from the first three, 2 Samuel 23:19 1 Chronicles 11:25.

Unto the cave of Adullam; which was a strong place, where David had been before, 1 Samuel 22:1, &c., and where he had now again fortified himself in the beginning of his reign, when the Philistines were too strong for him.

In the valley of Rephaim; of which see above, @2 Samuel 5:18.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 2 Samuel 23:13". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/2-samuel-23.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

13.Three of the thirty chief — That is, of the thirty whose names are given in 2 Samuel 23:24-39. Their names are not designated here, and this reference to them is too indefinite to be understood of the three just mentioned, namely, Jashobeam, Eleazar, and Shammah.

Came to David — Put themselves under his command when he was fleeing before Saul, and had taken refuge in the cave of Adullam. See 1 Samuel 22:1-2.

Pitched in’ Rephaim — This was in all probability the same battle as that described in 2 Samuel 5:17-21, and occurred after David had been anointed king over Israel, but before he had taken up his settled residence in Jerusalem. See notes at that place. It is not said that this exploit occurred at the time these heroes first joined David’s band of men, as some have assumed.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 23:13". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/2-samuel-23.html. 1874-1909.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Before this. The exploits performed before the death of Goliath have been recorded. The following took place soon after the taking of Jerusalem. Hebrew simply, "And three of the Schalischim came to David at harvest-time, (Paralipomenon more correctly, to the rocks,) and into the cave," &c. (Calmet) --- Three is undoubtedly the proper word, though the printed Hebrew copies have thirty in the text; except the most ancient edition of Ximenes, 1515, which retains three, with all the versions, and some Hebrew manuscripts and as ver. 17. itself reads among would be better above; (ver. 23,) as the three officers aforesaid were not of the body of thirty, but of a still higher order. --- Harvest. Hebrew el Katsir, is never used elsewhere in this sense; and the Septuagint have left the latter word as a proper name, "at Kasoar;" etsur seems to have been the original word, as in Paralipomenon, "to the rock." Such places had frequently caverns or strong holds, 1 Kings xxiv. 1, 4. --- Camp. The Septuagint also seem to have read mene, as in Paralipomenon, instead of eith, which never occurs, for "a troop." (Kennicott) --- This camp was distant from the station at Bethlehem, (Menochius) which was distant from Jerusalem "two hours travel." (Maundrell) --- Giants, or Raphaim, 2 Kings xxi. 18. (Menochius)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 23:13". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/2-samuel-23.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

three . . . thirty. See note on 1 Chronicles 27:1.

Rephaim = Rapha. A noted descendant of the Nephilim. See App-23and App-25.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 23:13". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/2-samuel-23.html. 1909-1922.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(13) Three of the thirty.—For “three” the Hebrew text reads “thirty” by a manifest error, which is corrected in the margin. These are not the same three (since there is no definite article) with those just mentioned, but were another three more eminent than the rest of the thirty, two of them being, no doubt, Abishai and Benaiah (2 Samuel 23:18; 2 Samuel 23:23). “The thirty” seems to have been a common name for this band of heroes (comp. 2 Samuel 23:23-24, &c), who were perhaps originally exactly thirty, but whose number varied from time to time, being here given (2 Samuel 23:39) as thirty-seven.

In the harvest time.—“The preposition does not mean in, and the reading in 1 Chronicles 11:15 ‘to the rock’ is perhaps the true one” (Kirkpatrick). On “the valley of Rephaim,” see Note on 2 Samuel 5:18.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 23:13". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/2-samuel-23.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And three of the thirty chief went down, and came to David in the harvest time unto the cave of Adullam: and the troop of the Philistines pitched in the valley of Rephaim.
three, etc
or, the three captains over the thirty.
1 Chronicles 11:15-19; "captains,":
the cave
Joshua 12:15; 15:35; 1 Samuel 22:1; Micah 1:15
the valley
5:18,22; 1 Chronicles 11:15; 14:9; Isaiah 17:5
Reciprocal: Genesis 14:5 - Rephaims;  Genesis 38:1 - Adullamite;  1 Samuel 22:4 - in the hold;  2 Samuel 23:19 - he attained;  2 Chronicles 11:7 - Adullam

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 23:13". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/2-samuel-23.html.