Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

2 Samuel 23:20

Then Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man of Kabzeel, who had done mighty deeds, killed the two sons of Ariel of Moab. He also went down and killed a lion in the middle of a pit on a snowy day.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Nave's Topical Bible - Benaiah;   Kabzeel;   Lion;   Moabites;   Pit;   Snow;   Thompson Chain Reference - Benaiah;   Snow;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Lion, the;   Moabites;  
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Benaiah;   Snow;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Benaiah;   Giants;   Hunting;   Kabzeel;   Moabite;   Snow;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Ariel;   Benaiah;   Kabzeel;   Kithlish;   Lion;   Moab;   Palestine;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Benaiah;   Jehoiada;   Kabzeel;   Mighty Men;   Samuel, Books of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Ariel;   Benaiah;   Giant;   Hunting;   Ithrite, the;   Kabzeel;   Samson;   Samuel, Books of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Lion;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Ariel ;   Army;   Benaiah ;   Jekabzeel ;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Lion;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Benaiah;   Kabzeel;   Moab;   Smith Bible Dictionary - A'riel;   Bena'iah;   Da'vid;   Kab'ze-El;   Snow;  
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Hebrew Monarchy, the;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Ariel;   Benaiah;   Hunting;   Jehoiada;   Kabzeel;   Lion;   Moabite Stone;   Names, Proper;   Samson;   Snow;   Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia - Ariel;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Altar;   Ariel;   Benaiah;   Lion;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Two lion-like men of Moab - Some think that two real lions are meant; some that they were two savage gigantic men; others, that two fortresses are meant. The words מואב אראל שני sheney ariel Moab may signify, as the Targum has rendered it, מואב רברבי תרין ית yath terein rabrebey Moab, "The two princes of Moab."

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 23:20". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Benaiah the son of Jehoiada - He commanded the Cherethites and Pelethites all through David‘s reign 2 Samuel 8:18; 2 Samuel 20:23, and took a prominent part in supporting Solomon against Adonijah when David was dying, and was rewarded by being made captain of the host in the room of Joab 1 Kings 1:8, 1 Kings 1:26, 1 Kings 1:32-40; 1 Kings 2:25-35; 1 Kings 4:4. It is possible that Jehoiada his father is the same as Jehoiada 1 Chronicles 12:27, leader of the Aaronites, since “Benaiah the son of Jehoiada” is called a “chief priest” 1 Chronicles 27:5.

Two lion-like men - The Hebrew word אריאל 'ărı̂y'êl means literally “lion of God,” and is interpreted to mean “an eminent hero.” Instances occur among Arabs and Persians of the surname “lion of God” being given to great warriors. Hence, it is supposed that the same custom prevailed among the Moabites. But the Vulgate has “two lions of Moab,” which seems to be borne out by the next sentence.

Slew a lion … - Rather, THE lion, one of those described above as “a lion of God,” if the Vulgate Version is right. Apparently in a severe winter a lion had come up from its usual haunts to some village in search of food, and taken possession of the tank or cistern to the terror of the inhabitants, and Benaiah attacked it boldly and killed it.

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Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 23:20". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

2 Samuel 23:20

He went down also and slew a lion in the midst of a pit in time of snow.

A lion in the snow

Perhaps, like me, you have at times found yourself wondering how it was that Palestine was chosen to be the land of She Bible? There is a reason, if we did but know it. Perhaps because, so far as I know the world, there is no other country which for climate and other things is so much of a world in itself. For instance, we read of a man who slew a lion in time of snow. Now we don’t often think of lions and snow in the same place, but the Holy Land was a place where you could get all sorts of weather and all sorts of beasts. The fact is, the old Book was written for all the world; and, live where you like, you find it speaking of something which you see every day. Whoever reads the Bible should, however, use his imagination. For instance, in this story, as we read, we must think Of that old quarry, and how it would look when the snow was falling. Was the hero of the tale a farmer, and had he gone out to look after the stock, and did he see, to his horror, the footprints of a large beast? The marks on the snow are like those of a cat’s feet, but very much larger. We can hear him say, “There’s a lion down there! He has gone for shelter. Won’t he be hungry? When the snow-storm is over, he will have my calves or sheep. No, he won’t! if I am the man I ought to be, there shall be a dead lion or a dead man in five minutes;” so he went down and slew the great cat that would have otherwise robbed his flock or his family.

I. God always did like courage, especially the sort that is not afraid of great odds. He who always waits to count his enemies will never wear the Victoria Cross. If you are the only Christian in She shop, there’s a chance for you to distinguish yourself. When I was a lad, elections were much rougher than they are nowadays. You could get your head broken without any trouble. A man I knew was electioneering, and strayed into the wrong committee-room. However, he found out his mistake in time, and pulled off his ribbon, put it in his mouth, and swallowed it. That is what some fellows do with their religion when they are in the midst of God’s foes.

II. Difficulties and dangers which give the chance of promotion. If you will follow this man to other parts of the Bible, you will find him at the head of four-and twenty thousand men. Now David did not make men captains because their fathers before them were officers; they had to rise by merit; and King David’s greater Son,. the Prince of Peace, lifts privates into captains when they have shown their mettle. They tell a tale in Lancashire of an Oldham man enlisting with the distinct understanding that he was to he an officer; but next morning, when he woke from his drunken slumbers, he found himself a full private. I am afraid if he ever got a stripe it was only one of many, and they were on his back and not on his arm! Distinguish yourself, and ignominy cannot claim you. The higher you get up the hill the less crowding you will find. When a collection is taken, and some one drops in a piece of gold, it may be hidden by penny pieces while in the box, but when counting begins they will soon see. This man Benaiah little dreamed that three thousand years after he killed the lion somebody would think it worth his while to talk of what happened that snowy day. The fact is, we are making history every day, and it is for ourselves to settle whether it is to be sheen or shade. (T. Champness.)


Benaiah went down also and “slew a lion in the midst of the pit in the time of snow.” That is a man worth looking at! It is a snow day; think of it. It is difficult to be brave on a day like that. But that was the day when Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man of Kabzeel, who had done many mighty acts, went and did another. Did it ever occur to you that that man was wonderfully like another Benaiah? Did you ever think he was wonderfully like the Lord Jesus Christ, who, on one of the dullest and darkest days that ever the world saw, went down into the pit, and encountered, face to face, the devourer and the destroyer of men. And He had nobody to encourage and nobody to cheer. All His disciples forsook Him and fled; and single, unaided, and alone, He went down into the pit, and slew the lion, the dragon, the devourer. He fought and He won. There is a lion-like strength of evil in every one of us, and we are not saved till our foot is upon its neck, and its power is broken. With some, the lion is out, ranging and roaring, as that lion might be supposed to have been before this snowy day when he fell into the pit. No, the big work is to be done yet. Go down into the pit; go down into the deeps of your own fallen nature, the depths of Satan in you; go down there quick, in the strength of Benaiah, and win that fight, or you are not saved yet. None of us, old or young, ignorant or learned, has a right to feel safe until he has done Benaiah’s deed, and gone down into the depths of sin that are in himself with the lamp of God and the sword of God, and stabbed to the heart the life of sin that is in the very deep places of his soul. What does Benaiah mean? Benaiah means, literally, the man whom God built. There is something in a name, after all The man whom God built from the protoplasm upward and onward, the God-built, God-strengthened, God-nerved, God-sustained man. May God grant that all of us shall have that pedigree! “Born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of man, but born of God.” Born again! Spiritual men, whose foundations God hath laid in Christ Jesus; and out of whom God is making strong, stalwart, heroic, spiritual, men, because He has built them and founded them on the Eternal Rock of His own dear Son. (J. McNeill.)

Possible achievement of a man plus God

The Rev. F. B. Meyer had been shown a wonderful collection of chrysanthemums. The horticulturist said to him, “And all these glorious blooms come from a common field daisy.” In response to Mr. Meyer’s questions, the expert told how, by long processes of patient cultivation pursued through a number of years, the simple wild-flower had become a triumph of scientific development. “I see,” he said, “the chrysanthemum is a field-daisy, plus a man.” “Yes,” said the gardener, “that is it.” “And,” said Mr. Meyer, with impressive intensity, “A Christian is a man plus God--God in Christ, who came to give us life, abundantly.”

Possibility of great achievements

There is a wonderful power in honest work to develop latent energies and reveal a man to himself. I suppose, in most cases, nobody is half so much surprised at a great man’s greatest deed as he is himself. They say that, there is dormant electric energy enough to make a thunderstorm in a few rain drops, and there is dormant spiritual force enough in the weakest of us to flush into beneficent light, and peal notes of awaking into many a deaf ear. (A. Malaren, D. D.)

Enterprise essential to success

Success is the reward of endeavour not of accident. Rufus Cheats, when someone remarked that great achievements often resulted from chance, thundered out, “Nonsense! as well talk of dropping the alphabet and picking up the Iliad.”

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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "2 Samuel 23:20". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible


"And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was a valiant man of Kabzeel, a doer of great deeds; he smote two ariels of Moab. He also went down and slew a lion in a pit on a day when snow had fallen. And he slew an Egyptian, a handsome man. The Egyptian had a spear in his hand, but Benaiah went down to him with a staff, and snatched the spear out of the Egyptian's hand, and slew him with his own spear. These things did Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and won a name beside the three mighty men. He was renowned among the thirty, but he did not attain to the three. And David set him over his bodyguard."

This concludes the special record of the unusually brilliant and sensational achievements of certain individuals among the mighty men. The others are named, but their deeds are not especially mentioned. It is significant that a duplicate list of these mighty men appears in 1 Chronicles 11:10-45, with some variations, but essentially the same; and then an additional list of sixteen members of the "thirty" is also appended. This suggests that, as members of the thirty were lost in battle, they were replaced, keeping the company up to its normal size. The report in Chronicles also states that this group gave David, "Strong support in his kingdom" (1 Chronicles 11:10).

"He smote two ariels of Moab" (2 Samuel 23:20). The meaning of ariels is unknown; the common guesses suppose that it might mean lions or lion-like men.


"Asahel the brother of Joab was one of the thirty" (2 Samuel 23:24). He was one of the three sons of Zeruiah, David's sister, who lost his life when he tried to kill Abner (2 Samuel 2:18-23). Joab avenged Asahel's death by murdering Abner (2 Samuel 3:26-30).

"Elhanan the son of Dodo of Bethlehem" (2 Samuel 23:24). This son of Dodo should not be confused with Eleazer the son of Dodo (2 Samuel 23:9). The Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia distinguishes them as sons of different Dodo's.[17]

"Shammah of Harod" (2 Samuel 23:25). Isaacs identified this Shammah with the one mentioned in 2 Samuel 23:11, but pointed out that 1 Chronicles 11:10ff ascribes that deed of bringing David the water from Bethlehem to Eleazer the son of Dodo."[18] Another of the mighty men had the same name (2 Samuel 23:33).

"Elika of Harod" (2 Samuel 23:25). We are given no additional information about Elika.

"Helez the Paltite" (2 Samuel 23:26). "From 1 Chronicles 11:27, it appears that this man was an Ephraimite and captain of the seventh monthly course (1 Chronicles 27:10)."[19]

"Ira the son of Ikkesh" (2 Samuel 23:26). Ira is also mentioned in 1 Chronicles 11:28, but no additional information is given.

"Abiezer of Anathoth" (2 Samuel 23:27). 1 Chronicles 27:12 states that he was a Benjaminite with twenty four thousand men in his division. His was the Ninth course.

"Mebunnai the Hushathite" (2 Samuel 23:27). "This man's name appears only here in this form; but he is elsewhere called Sibbechai (2 Samuel 21:18; 1 Chronicles 20:4), or Sibbecai 1 Chronicles 11:29; 27:11)."[20]

"Zalmon the Ahohite" (2 Samuel 23:28). "He may have been named Zalmon to indicate his strength; he is called Ilai in 1 Chronicles 11:29)."[21] "A mountain near Shechem was called Zalmon."[22] "The name means shady or ascent."[23] We might have called him "a mountain of a man."

"Maharai of Netophah" (2 Samuel 23:28). See 1 Chronicles 11:30. "He was one of the twelve monthly captains in David's reign, serving in the tenth month. He came of the family of Zerah from Netophah in Judah, serving in the tenth month over 24,000 men (1 Chronicles 27:13)."[24]

"Heleb the son of Baanah of Netophah" (2 Samuel 23:29). "This man is called Heled in 1 Chronicles 11:30 and Heldai in 1 Chronicles 27:15. He also was one of the monthly captains over 24,000 men in the twelfth month."[25]

"Ittai the son of Ribai of Gibeah of the Benjaminites" (2 Samuel 23:29). "The name means plowman or living. He is called Ithai in 1 Chronicles 11:31."[26]

"Benaiah of Pirathon" (2 Samuel 23:30). Lockyer gives two possible meanings of this name. "Either Jehovah hath built or is intelligent."[27] He is mentioned again in 1 Chronicles 11:31,27:14, where we learn that he commanded one of the twelve divisions of 24,000 men who were called on a monthly basis to serve David the king. His tour of duty in that capacity was in the eleventh month. He belonged to the tribe of Ephraim.

"Hiddai of the brooks of Gaash" (2 Samuel 23:30). "His name means mighty or joyful."[28] Gaash was in Ephraim.

"Abialbon the Arbathite" (2 Samuel 23:31). This one of David's heroes is mentioned in the Chronicles list under the name of Abiel (1 Chronicles 11:32). "His name may mean father of strength. Presumably, he was from Betharabah (Joshua 15:6,61; 18:22)."[29]

"Azmaveth of Bahurim" (2 Samuel 23:31). Two or three other Biblical characters wore this name which is sometimes said to mean counsel. He appears again in 1 Chronicles 11:33; and "Some identify him as the same Azmaveth whom David placed over his treasures (1 Chronicles 27:25)."[30]

"Eliahba of Shalbon" (2 Samuel 23:32). This hero also is mentioned in 1 Chronicles 11:33; and. "His name means, whom God hides."[31] In view of all the dangerous exploits of this group, the name might well have been applied to all of them.

"The sons of Jashen, Jonathan" (2 Samuel 23:32). The name means God gave,[32] or, as we might say, "The gift of God." His name appears again in 1 Chronicles 11:34, where he is identified as "a son of Shagee the Hatafire." Such difficulties are common in this section of the O.T. We have already cited at least seven or eight uses of the word "son," grandson, or descendant of being among them. This was a very common name in the O.T., there being at least a dozen characters who were named Jonathan.

"Shammah the Hararite" (2 Samuel 23:33). Two of David's mighty men bore this name, one of "the three" (1 Samuel 23:11) and this one "of the thirty." He is called Shammoth in 1 Chronicles 11:27 and Shammuth in 1 Chronicles 27:8, where we learn that he commanded 24,000 men in the fifth month for David.

"Ahiam the son of Sharar the Hararite" (2 Samuel 23:33). Little is known of this man. He is called "the son of Sacar" (1 Chronicles 11:35), which is probably a variation of the same name.

"Eliphelet the son of Ahasbai of Maacah" (2 Samuel 23:34). This name is variously spelled. David must have had a special love for this hero, because he named one of his sons born in Jerusalem Eiphelet (1 Chronicles 3:8).

"Eliam the son of Ahithophel of Gilo" (2 Samuel 23:34). This man, the father of Bathsheba, stood in relation to David as a father-in-law. He is called Amiel in other passages, which is only a variation of Eliam. "The name means, my God is a kinsman."[33] The presence of Bathseba's father in the list of David's thirty heroes adds further to David's shame in violating her. Her grandfather Ahithophel was David's principal counselor; her father and her husband (Uriah) were both among his thirty mighty men.

"Hezro of Carmel" (2 Samuel 23:35). "This name is also spelled Hezrai (1 Chronicles 11:37); it means enclosed or beautiful."[34]

"Paarai the Arbite" (2 Samuel 23:35). "The name means devotee of Peor. He was one of David's thirty-seven valiant men and undoubtedly the same person as Naarai of 1 Chronicles 11:37."[35]

"Igal the son of Nathan of Zobah" (2 Samuel 23:36). "Zobah was a part of Syria,"[36] and thus we must reckon Igal as among the foreigners who supported David. "The name `Igal' means `God redeems'."[37] This was also the name of one of the unfaithful spies sent out to Canaan by Moses (Numbers 13:7).

"Bani the Gadite" (2 Samuel 23:36). This name is not in the list given in 1 Chronicles 11; but the lists may be viewed as supplementary. There is no need for deleting the name of Bani from the list. It might easily have been omitted by accident from the roster in 1Chronicles. It is significant that many of the tribes of Israel and even a number of foreign countries were represented among David's top ranking soldiers. Bani was of the trans-Jordanic tribe of Gad.

"Zelek the Ammonite" (2 Samuel 23:37). Here is another foreigner. Cook listed, "Igal of Zobah, Zelek the Ammonite, Nahari the Beerothite and Uriah the Hittite as the foreigners in this list."[38]

"Naharai of Beeroth the armor-bearer of Joab the son of Zeruiah" (2 Samuel 23:37). Beeroth was one of the four cities of the Hivites who deluded Joshua into a treaty of peace with them (Joshua 9:17). It is now el Bireh, located eight miles north of Jerusalem."[39]

"Armor-bearer of Joab" (2 Samuel 23:37). Some have marveled that Joab is not in this list of the "thirty-Seven" mighty men,' but he is in it. He is mentioned in 2 Samuel 23:18,24,37, the only man to be mentioned three times. He was David's great commander-in-chief who stood prominently above the mighty "thirty-seven."

"Ira the Ithrite, Gareb the Ithrite" (2 Samuel 23:38). Ithrites was the name given to one of the families descended from Kiriath-jearim (1 Chronicles 2:53). Two members of David's mighty men (and bodyguard), Ira and Gareb, came from this family (2 Samuel 23:38; 1 Chronicles 11:40) and may have originated from the town of Jattir (1 Samuel 30:27)."[40] "Jattir is located in the mountains of Judah."[41]

"Uriah the Hittite, thirty seven in all" (2 Samuel 23:39). There is little need to comment on Uriah at this point, since many things concerning him have already been mentioned in Second Samuel. He was the Hittite husband of Bathsheba whom David ordered to be murdered by the hand of Joab in a vain effort to hide David's adultery with Uriah's wife.

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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 23:20". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man of Kabzeel,.... A city in the tribe of Judah, Joshua 15:21; the father of this man was a man of great vivacity, valour, and strength, so that it was like father like son. Procopius Gazaeus says Benaiah was David's brother's son, and a grandson of Jesse:

who had done many acts; which may refer either to the father of Benaiah or to Benaiah himself; and indeed the Syriac and Arabic versions refer the preceding character, "a valiant man", not to the father, but the son:

he slew two lionlike men of Moab; two princes of Moab, as the Targum, or two giants of Moab, as the Syriac and Arabic versions; men who were comparable to lions for their strength and courage; for this is not to be understood of two strong towers of Moab, as Ben Gersom, which were defended by valiant men like lions, or which had the form of lions engraved on them: nor of Moabitish altars, as GussetiusF6Ebr. Comment p. 95. , the altar of the Lord, being called by this name of Ariel, the word used; but of men of uncommon valour and fortitude:

he went down also, and slew a lion in the midst of a pit in time of snow; not Joab, 1 Kings 2:34, as is the traditionF7Hieron. Trad. Heb. in 2 Reg. fol. 80. C. , but a real lion, the strongest among the beasts; and that in a pit where he could not keep his distance, and turn himself, and take all advantage, and from whence he could not make his escape; and which indeed might quicken his resolution, when he must fight or die; and on a snowy day, when lions are said to have the greatest strength, as in cold weather, or however are fiercer for want of food; and when Benaiah might be benumbed in his hands and feet with cold. JosephusF8Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 7. c. 12. sect. 4.) represents the case thus, that the lion fell into a pit, where was much snow, and was covered with it, and making a hideous roaring, Benaiah went down and slew him; but rather it was what others say, that this lion very much infested the places adjacent, and did much harm; and therefore, for the good of the country, and to rid them of it, took this opportunity, and slew it; which one would think was not one of the best reasons that might offer; it seems best therefore what BochartF9Hierozoic. par. 1. l. 3. c. 4. col. 758. conjectures, that Benaiah went into a cave, for so the word used may signify, to shelter himself a while from the cold, when a lion, being in it for the same reason, attacked him, and he fought with it and slew it; or rather it may be an hollow place, a valley that lay between Acra and Zion, where Benaiah, hearing a lion roar, went down and slew itF11See the Universal History, vol. 4. p. 227. .

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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.
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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 23:20". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

2 Samuel 23:20 And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man, of Kabzeel, who had done many acts, he slew two lionlike men of Moab: he went down also and slew a lion in the midst of a pit in time of snow:

Ver. 20. The son of a valiant man.] Fortes creantur fortibus et bonis. (a)

He slew two lion-like men.] Heb., Two Ariels of Moab, perhaps they were brothers, but coeur-de-lions certainly, (b) Or, He took two strong forts, called Ariel, both, - as Vatablus.

And slew a lion.] Which feared the people with his roaring. This was not rashness or ostentation, but magnanimity.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 23:20". John Trapp Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Of Kabzeel; a place in Judah, Joshua 15:21.

Who had done many acts: this may belong either to Benaiah, or to his father, to note that Benaiah was a son becoming such a father.

Two lionlike men, for courage and strength. Or, lions of God, i.e. great and strong lions. Or, two gigantic persons; and therefore both so called, as being either equal in might, or brethren by birth.

In the midst of a pit; where he put himself under a necessity, either of killing, or being killed.

In time of snow; when lions are most fierce, both from the sharpness of their appetite in cold seasons, and from want of provisions, cattle being then shut up, and fed at home.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 2 Samuel 23:20". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

20.Kabzeel — In the south of Judah. Joshua 15:21.

Who had done — The who refers to the valiant man of Kabzeel, Benaiah’s ancestor. The margin is more literal, great of acts.

Two lionlike men — Fierce, bold, and terrible champions, whom few would dare molest.

In the midst of a pit in time of snow — An unusually heavy fall of snow had probably driven the lion into the neighbourhood of human habitations, and it had taken refuge in a pit, or, rather, cistern.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 23:20". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

2 Samuel 23:20. Who had done many acts — As Abishai also had done, who had succoured David, when a giant thought to have killed him. But their greatest acts only are here mentioned. He slew two lion-like men of Moab The Hebrew word אראל, ariel, signifies a lion of God, that is, a great lion. And it was the name among the Moabites for a very valiant man. Such a one at this day is called assedollabi, a lion of God, among the Arabians. He slew a lion in the midst of a pit — By going down into which he had put himself under a necessity of killing or being killed. In time of snow — This is mentioned to magnify the action, because then lions are fiercer both for want of prey, and from the sharpness of their appetite in cold seasons.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 23:20". Joseph Benson's Commentary. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Banaias. The v at the end of this man's name, is wanting in Paralipomenon. It serves to distinguish him more from one of the Thirty, who was the 11th captain in waiting on the king; (1 Paralipomenon xxvii. 14,) whereas this was the third, (1 Paralipomenon v.) and one of great renown, 3 Kings i. 32. --- Lions. Hebrew ari, "a lion;" and el, "god," designate people "of extraordinary valour." (Kennicott) --- Hence the Arabians give the title to Ali, the son-in-law of Mahammed. (Bochart, Anim. iii. 1. --- These two were noblemen, (Chaldean) giants, (Josephus) or fortresses; (Vatable) namely, Areopolis, which is divided into two parts by the Arnon. (Calmet) --- Some suppose that he slew three real lions. The last, being in such a confined situation, enhanced his merit. (Cajetan) (Menochius) --- The Alexandrian copy of the Septuagint has a great omission of the words between slew, occasioned by the word recurring twice; as also ver. 21. Dr. Milles attributes the omission of the famous text 1 John v. 7, to a similar case; Greek: marturountis, being found in the subsequent verse. "Proclivi admodum errore, quod norunt, quibus cum veteribus membranis res est." 2nd edition. --- "A source of frequent mistakes, as all know who have consulted old manuscripts."

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Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 23:20". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

lionlike men. Men of Ariel. Ariel, proper name, occurs only here and twice in Isaiah 29:1, Isaiah 29:2.

a . . . a . . . snow. All these have the Article, as being a well-known exploit.

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Bibliographical Information
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 23:20". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". 1909-1922.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(20) Benaiah.—He was the general of the third division of the army (1 Chronicles 27:5-6). This probably included the Cherethites and Pelethites, since he was also their commander (2 Samuel 8:18; 2 Samuel 20:23). In consequence of his faithfulness to Solomon in the rebellion of Adonijah, he was finally made commander-in-chief (1 Kings 1:8; 1 Kings 1:26; 1 Kings 1:32; 1 Kings 2:25; 1 Kings 2:29-35; 1 Kings 4:4). His father Jehoiada is called “a chief priest “in 1 Chronicles 27:5, and in 1 Chronicles 12:27 mention is made of a “Jehoiada the leader of the Aaronites,” who came to David at Hebron, and who may have been the same person.

Kabzeel.—A town on the extreme south of Judah, on the border of Edom (Joshua 15:21).

Lion-like men.—Literally, lion of God, an expression used among Arabs and Persians of great warriors.

Slew a lion.—Comp. 1 Samuel 17:34-37. It is not said with what weapons he slew him, but the act was evidently a great feat of valour.

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Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 23:20". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man, of Kabzeel, who had done many acts, he slew two lionlike men of Moab: he went down also and slew a lion in the midst of a pit in time of snow:
8:18; 20:23; 1 Kings 1:8,26,38; 2:29-35,46; 1 Chronicles 18:17; 27:5,6
Joshua 15:21
who had done many acts
Heb. great of acts. he slew.
Exodus 15:15
lion-like men
Heb. lions of God.
1:23; 1 Chronicles 11:22-24; 12:8
slew a lion
Judges 14:5,6; 1 Samuel 17:34-37
Reciprocal: 1 Samuel 17:35 - smote him;  2 Samuel 17:8 - mighty men;  2 Samuel 17:10 - heart

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Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 23:20". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge".