2 Samuel (Vol. 1)》(Johann P

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《Lange’s Commentary on the Holy
Scriptures – 2 Samuel (Vol. 1)》
(Johann P. Lange)
Johann Peter Lange (April 10, 1802, Sonneborn (now a part of Wuppertal) - July 9,
1884, age 82), was a German Calvinist theologian of peasant origin.
He was born at Sonneborn near Elberfeld, and studied theology at Bonn (from
1822) under K. I. Nitzsch and G. C. F. Lüheld several pastorates, and eventually
(1854) settled at Bonn as professor of theology in succession to Isaac August
Dorner, becoming also in 1860 counsellor to the consistory.
Lange has been called the poetical theologian par excellence: "It has been said of
him that his thoughts succeed each other in such rapid and agitated waves that all
calm reflection and all rational distinction become, in a manner, drowned" (F.
As a dogmatic writer he belonged to the school of Schleiermacher. His Christliche
Dogmatik (5 vols, 1849-1852; new edition, 1870) "contains many fruitful and
suggestive thoughts, which, however, are hidden under such a mass of bold
figures and strange fancies and suffer so much from want of clearness of
presentation, that they did not produce any lasting effect" (Otto Pfleiderer).
general superintendent of the province of silesia, and professor of theology in the
university of breslau
translated, enlarged and edited
Rev. C.H. TOY, D.D, LL.D,
professors in the theological seminary at louisville, ky.
The Commentary on the two Books of Samuel was prepared in German by the
Rev. Dr. Erdmann, General Superintendent of Silesia and Honor. Professor of
Theology in the University of Breslau, and in English by the Rev. C. H. Toy, D. D,
LL. D, and the Rev. John A. Broadus, D. D, LL. D, Professors in the Theological
Seminary at Greenville, South Carolina.
Dr. Erdmann, in his Preface, dated Breslau, March8, 1873, says:
‘In regard to the execution of the work in its several parts, I add the following
remarks. In the translation, while I have tried to follow the ground-text closely, I
have preserved as far as possible the tone and impress of Luther’s translation. On
account of the admitted defectiveness of the Masoretic text of these books, it
seemed to me better not to place the textual remarks and discussions, together
with the various readings and emendations, under the text of the translation, but
to insert them in the exegetical explanations. In the exegesis I have departed in
one point from the form usual in this Bible-Work, namely, instead of explanations
under each verse, I have given an exegesis that reproduces the content of the
text in connected development, following the received division of verses.
“Exegesis,” therefore, or “Scientific Exposition,” would have been a fitter heading
for the section in question than “Exegetical Explanations.”[FN1] In the next division,
instead of the usual heading, “Dogmatic and Ethical Fundamental Thoughts,” I
have chosen as a more appropriate designation for these prophetical-historical
books: “Theocratic-historical and Biblical-Theological Comments;”[FN2] for we have
here to do with a new step in the historical development of the Theocracy in Israel,
and with the wider unfolding of the religious-ethical truth which has its root in the
advancing revelation of God. From this point of view of the history of revelation
and the theocracy, the comments and remarks of this section are intended to
serve as contributions to the hitherto too little cultivated science of the Biblical
Theology of the Old Testament. In the homiletical section, while I have given my
own words, I have rather cited the diverse witnesses of ancient and modern times,
from whom I could derive any valuable material for fruitful application and
parænetic use of the text on the basis of the preceding scientific exposition.
‘In every part of my work on this portion of the Old Testament history of the
Kingdom of God, with its fund of religious-ethical Revelation, I have been
constantly reminded of and deeply impressed by a profound saying of Hamann,
with which I here close: “Every biblical history is a prophecy, which is fulfilled
through all the centuries and in the soul of every human being. Every history
bears the image of Prayer of Manasseh, a body, which is earth and ashes and
nothing, the sensible letter; but also a soul, the breath of God, the life and the light,
which shines in the dark, and cannot be comprehended by the darkness. The
Spirit of God in His word reveals itself as the Self-sufficient in the form of a servant,
in flesh, and dwells among us full of grace and truth.” ’
As regards the English edition, the work has been so divided that Dr. Toy
prepared the Exegetical and Historical sections, and paid careful and minute
attention to the Hebrew text; Dr. Broadus has reproduced the Homiletical and
Practical portions, partly condensing and partly enlarging the original from
English sources, especially from Bishop Hall’s Contemplations and Sermons,
Matthew Henry’s Commentary, and Dr. W. Taylor’s Life of David.
New York, 42Bible House, March1, 1877.
The Hebrew text of “Samuel” is in the main well supported by internal and external
evidence. Yet the biographical and statistical character of the narrative has
exposed it more than any other of the historical books of the Old Testament to
textual corruption; it is sometimes inaccurate and unclear not only in particular
words and expressions, but also in the connection of its parts. Many such cases
are referred to in the Commentary and the Translator’s Notes; see 1 Samuel6, 9,
12, 17, 18, 20, 26; 2 Samuel 4, 5, 23and elsewhere. For the fixing of the Heb. text
we have not the Manuscript-evidence that is available for a book of the New
Testament. Though there are known a large number of Hebrew MSS. of
“Samuel,” they seem all to be conformed to the masoretic recension (which was
completed about the sixth century of our era, but probably begun some time
before), whereby any differences that may have existed have vanished. The
recently discovered Odessa MSS. and those brought to light by the Karaite
Firkowitsch have not up to this time yielded any readings of importance; the early
dates of the latter are now called in question by Strack and Harkavy. The various
readings of the Talmud and the Masora present very slight differences from the
received text. Assuming, then, the possibility of text-corruption from various
causes, we are forced to examine the ancient Versions the more carefully as
almost the only sources of materials for text-criticism. But while the Hebrew text is
not to be regarded as absolutely authoritative, the text of a version has to be
subjected to especially searching criticism for two reasons: 1) because the
translator may have given an incorrect or free rendering, and may thus
unintentionally misrepresent his original, and2) because a version is exposed to
greater textual corruption (by corrections, marginal insertions, etc.) than a MS. of
the original, especially in the case of the Old Testament. The intentional changes
in our Versions are few and usually obvious. It need not be remarked that the
fixing of the text of a Version as accurately as possible must precede its
employment as an instrument of criticism. In order to call the attention of those
that have not used them to the critical importance of the Ancient Versions and to
furnish a general guide in their use, the following brief account of the value of the
versional material at hand for the text-criticism of “Samuel” is subjoined.
I. The Greek Versions.—Of these the only one of any special value is the
Septuagint, which represents a Hebrew text of c. B. C200, far older than any
known Hebrew manuscript. For an account of the Greek MSS. containing it see
Tischendorf’s Prolegomena to his edition of the Septuagint; the only readings
generally accessible (for the Book of Samuel) are those of the Vatican and
Alexandrian MSS, of which the latter is critically almost worthless, because it has
evidently in many places been corrected after the masoretic Hebrew text.
Substantially, therefore, the Vatican text (Tischendorf’s edition) must be adopted
as the best now obtainable, but must itself be subjected to criticism. The text in
Stier and Theile’s Polyglot is eclectic, and of no critical value; the various readings
of Holmes and Parsons are undigested.
The critical value of the Septuagint (Vatican text) version of “Samuel:”
1) Its honesty. It aims at giving a faithful rendering of the Hebrew, which it follows
with servility, closely imitating Hebrew idioms in defiance of Greek usage,
rendering particles and other words literally to the exclusion of sense, and
guessing at or transferring words whose meaning was unknown. There are
marginal insertions, double readings (see below) and those slight divergencies
that are unavoidable in a version; but there is no trace of intentional
misrepresentation. The translation does not shrink from any difficulties in its
original, and may be taken as a fair rendering of the Hebrew text that the
Alexandrian translator had before him.
2) Its freedom from halachic, haggadic and euphemistic elements. There is no
introduction of later Jewish legal prescriptions (Halacha), even, for instance, in 2
Samuel 24:15, or of legendary statements and superstitious fancies (Haggada).
The two supposed cases of the latter cited by Frankel (Vorstudien zu der Sept.,
pp187, 188), 1 Samuel 20:30; 1 Samuel 28:14, do not warrant his interpretation.
In the first passage there is no ground to assume in the phrase: υἱὲ κορασίων
αὐτομολούντων (deserting) an allusion to the story that Jonathan’s mother was
one of the maidens carried off at Shiloh ( Judges 21), and willingly offered herself
to Saul, nor does the ὄρθιον (‫)זקף‬, “upright” (not “headforemost”), of the second
passage point to the belief that kings magically conjured up rose head first, while
ordinary persons came feet-foremost.—It has no euphemisms for the avoidance
of anthropomorphisms and unseemly expressions.
3) Its correctness as a translation. While in general it gives the sense of the
Hebrew accurately, it is not merely lacking in smoothness and elegance, but
shows a good deal of looseness and ignorance. It not seldom misreads
consonants and vowels, mistakes the meaning and construction of words, and
distorts the connection of sentences, and thus sometimes makes sad work with
the sense, as in 2 Samuel 23:1-7 (while 2 Samuel22. is well translated). It
naturally badly miswrites proper names (apart from differences in the Egyptian
and Palestinian pronunciation of Hebrew words), but shows a good acquaintance
with the syntax of the Hebrew verb.
4) Its insertions and omissions. While it is true that this version of Samuel is to be
considered an honest one, it must be remembered that ancient translators did not
recognize the same obligation to their text that is now felt, but thought themselves
at liberty to make occasional deviations from it. Still our Version takes few liberties.
The shorter insertions and omissions (as of the Nominal or Pronominal subject or
object, and of explanatory words and phrases) do not usually materially affect the
sense; and they are not always to be referred to the translator or a copyist, but
may sometimes be regarded as part of the original Alexandrian Hebrew text. To
be especially noted are the duplets or double readings, where a second marginal
rendering of a passage, or a rendering from a somewhat different recension has
gotten into the text; sometimes also triplets or triple renderings are found, and
these different renderings standing side by side are sometimes combined into one
sentence by a copyist or a corrector. The longer insertions ( 1 Samuel 2:10; 2
Samuel 8:7; 2 Samuel 14:27; 2 Samuel 24:25) are parallel passages or historical
notices added by a reader in the margin and then inserted in the text by a copyist;
but it is possible that one of these additions ( 2 Samuel 24:25) was found in the
translator’s Hebrew text. The more important omissions ( 1 Samuel 17, 18.) are
discussed at length in the Commentary.
5) Its utility for the establishment of the true text. Its relation to our present Hebrew
text shows that it was not translated from the same text that furnished the
masoretic recension. On the contrary, it represents as its original an independent
Hebrew text of the 2 d or 3 d century B. C, and is therefore itself to be regarded as
an independent authority for the restoration of the original Hebrew of “Samuel.” As
is remarked above, its character guarantees its faithful rendering of its Hebrew
original, and it thus brings us face to face with a Hebrew MS. older by many
hundred years than any we now possess, and, what is more important,
independent of the masoretic recension. This is enough to show its great critical
The general result of the comparison between the Hebrew and Greek texts of
“Samuel” is the maintenance of the former. Usually the Septuagint sustains the
Hebrew by its agreement with it (sometimes with Kethib, sometimes with Qeri). Its
divergences from the Hebrew do not always or generally make against the latter,
but in many cases they do give or suggest a better text, instances of which will be
found in the Translator’s textual notes; see, for example, 1 Samuel 14,
In the study of the Greek of Samuel it is recommended that Schleusner’s Lexicon
of the Septuagint and the Commentaries of Thenius, Böttcher and Wellhausen be
The other Greek versions (fragments of Aquila, Theodotion and Symmachus)
represent very nearly the present Hebrew text, and, being much later than the
Septuagint (2d century after Christ), have not much critical value.
II. Latin Versions.—Of the Latin Versions the Old Latin (2d century after Christ) is
a translation of the Septuagint, and has therefore only a secondary critical value
as a help in settling the text of the Septuagint.
The translation of Jerome, the Latin Vulgate (Codex Amiatinus, edited by
Tischendorf) was made from the Hebrew, but not altogether independently of the
Old Latin. For several reasons it must be used with caution in the criticism of the
Hebrew text: 1) where it coincides with the Septuagint against the Hebrew, it is
probable that Jerome or a copyist has adopted the rendering of the Old Latin, and
it is therefore not an independent authority; 2) the Hebrew text of Jerome had
probably received the emendations of the Masorites, and is in so far identical with
that of existing Heb. MSS. and not an independent authority; 3) Jerome’s
translation is much freer than that of the Septuagint, and frequently obscures the
exact form of the Hebrew.
Still the Vulgate gives a certain control over the Hebrew, and in some cases
differs from both Hebrew and Greek. In such cases it may represent a variation in
Jerome’s Heb. text or a variation in the Greek text from which the Old Latin was
III. The Syriac Version.—The only known Syriac text of “Samuel” is that of the
Peshito Version, given in the Paris and London Polyglots and Lee’s edition, and in
at least one unedited MS. in the British Museum.[FN5] A trustworthy text from
existing MSS. is still a desideratum. For the control of the Polyglot text and that of
Lee, we have the various manuscript-readings in Vol. VI. of Walton’s Polyglot, the
citations in the works of Ephrem Syrus and other Syrian writers, and the Arabic
version of “Samuel” in the London Polyglot, which was made from the Peshito
Syriac; but, as the biblical quotations of the early Christian writers are often loose
and inaccurate (because they quote from memory) and the Arabic does not
always hold itself strictly to its original, these authorities must be used cautiously.
The Syriac text of “Samuel” was made directly from the Hebrew, and is in the
main a literal and correct translation. It Isaiah, however, far less useful than the
Septuagint for the criticism of the Hebrew text and the elucidation of its meaning:
1) It was probably not made before the 2 d century of our Era, at which time the
present masoretic text had been substantially formed, and it has in some places
perhaps been corrected after the masoretic recension; it is therefore of little use in
reaching a pre-masoretic Hebrew text.
2) It sometimes takes liberties with the Hebrew, abridging or expanding,
especially in obscure or corrupt passages, as 1 Samuel 13:3-4; 1 Samuel 14:13; 1
Samuel 14:25-26; 1 Samuel 16:15-16; 2 Samuel 5:6 sq.; 2 Samuel 21:16; it omits
a verse from homœoteleuton, 2 Samuel 13:18, or a part of a verse from
breviloquence, 2 Samuel 7:6; it entirely fails to catch a fine conception, as in 1
Samuel 15:23; it miswrites proper names, as Ishboshul 2 Samuel 2:8, Kolob iii3,
Adoniram xx24, Edom for Aram 2 Samuel 10:6; 2 Samuel 10:8, prophets for Abel
2 Samuel 20:18; and it sometimes misunderstands the meaning and connection
of words.
3) It shows some connection with the Septuagint and the Targum, though it is
hard to determine the relation between them. It sometimes agrees with the
Septuagint against Hebrew and Chaldee, as in 1 Samuel 1:24 (a three-year-old
bullock), in the division between chapters3,4, at the end of 2 Samuel 3:24 and in 2
Samuel 21:9.[FN6] Very frequently it agrees with the Hebrew against the
Septuagint, sometimes varies (commonly slightly) from Hebrew, Septuagint, and
Chaldee, and sometimes shows a general agreement with the last, as in 2
Samuel 24:15 and 1 Samuel 16:23, where it is with Septuagint and Chaldee
against Hebrew. It may be that the translator had the Septuagint before him and
occasionally followed it, or that readings from the Greek got from the margin into
the text. It is possible also that he followed in some cases the same general
Jewish hermeneutical tradition that shows itself in the Targum. For
4) There seem to be in the Syriac a few attempts to avoid anthropomorphisms
and unseemly expressions, and a few cases of Rabbinical interpretation. Thus: 2
Samuel 24:16 : “the Lord restrained the Angel of death who was slaying the
people, and said to him “instead of “Jahveh repented him of the evil and said;” 2
Samuel 24:17 : “David said to that angel” instead of “David said to Jahveh;” 1
Samuel 21:5-6 : “if the young men have kept themselves from the offering
(corban). And David said, The offering is lawful for us.” In the first clause the
Arabic has the full explanation: “if the young men have preserved their vessels
from impurity unfit for those that approach the offering.” The obscure passage 2
Samuel 24:15, is rendered by the Peshito: “from the morning to the sixth hour”
(Hebrew ‫)דֵעֹו מ‬, where the Targum has: “from the time of slaying the stated
sacrifice to the time of offering it,” while the Septuagint, avoiding the halachic
interpretation, renders: “from morning to noon” (ἀρίστου).[FN7]
In general the masoretic text of “Samuel” is supported by the Peshito Version. The
Syriac text has to be closely watched throughout. In addition to Thorndyke’s
emendations above referred to (found in Vol. VI. of the London Polyglot) see the
remarks of Rödiger in his monograph[FN8] on tne Arabic Version, pp76, 77. The
Arabic must all along be compared with the Syriac.
The Arabic Version. As is remarked above the Arabic Version of “Samuel” in the
Polyglots is a translation from the Peshito Syriac, and is useful in the criticism of
the text of the latter, not of the Hebrew immediately. It deserves a more careful
textual examination than it has yet received. Its character is most fully discussed
by Rödiger in the work cited above. The same text (unpointed) with a few
variations is given in the Arabic Bible printed for the British and Foreign Bible
Society by Sarah Hodgson, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1811.
IV. The Jewish-Aramaic (Chaldee) Version.—The text of this version (in the
Targum of Jonathan) is given in the London Polyglot and in the edition of P. De
Lagarde, Leipzig, 1873. This Targum probably received its present form not
earlier than the fourth century of our Era (though it doubtless rests on an earlier
translation), and is of little use in the establishment of a pre-masoretic text. It is
made immediately from the Hebrew, and is in the main a good translation.
It is commonly marked by extreme literalness, but sometimes departs from its text
to avoid an anthropomorphic or unseemly expression, to introduce a late legal
idea, or to expand and illustrate. The principal additions are in 1 Samuel 2:1-10
and 2 Samuel 23:3-4; 2 Samuel 23:7-8, where it inserts rambling commentaries,
and in 1 Samuel 15:17, where it explains Saul’s elevation by a historical reference
on which the Bible is silent (Benjamin’s heading the march through the sea).
Goliath’s braggart speech in 1 Samuel 17:8, given in the London Polyglot, is
omitted by Lagarde. It ingeniously fills out the corrupt passage, 1 Samuel 13:1,
and attempts some explanation of the numbers in 1 Samuel 6:19. Among its
Rabbinical features are the substitution of scribe for prophet in 1 Samuel 10:10-12;
1 Samuel 19:20; 1 Samuel 19:24; 1 Samuel 28:6, and the phrase “remember what
is written in the book of the law of Jahveh,” 2 Samuel 13:11; 2 Samuel 20:18. In 1
Samuel 28:13 it avoids the possible irreverence in Elohim by rendering: “angel of
Elohim.” Its rendering in 1 Samuel 14:19 “bring the ephod” instead of the Hebrew
“withdraw thy hand,” suggests an emendation of the Heb. of verse18 (see the
Textual Notes). Thus, without being of high text-critical authority, it secures a
general control over the Hebrew text.
C. H. T.
FN#1 - ‘Exegetical and Critical’ is the heading adopted for the section in this
FN#2 - ‘Historical and Theological’ in the translation.]
FN#5 - Tregelles, Art. Versions in Smith’s Bible-Dictionary, Bleek (Introd. to Old
Test., Eng. Trans, II:447, Note) seems to have supposed that this was a
Hexaplar-Syriac text. I have not access to the catalogues of Syriac MSS. in the
Bodleian Library and the British Museum by Payne Smith and W. Wright, and do
not know whether other MSS. of “Samuel” are found among them.
FN#6 - Nöldeke (Zeitschrift d. Deutsch. morgenländ. Gesellschaft, XXV:267)
remarks that the text of the ancient Syriac Pentateuch MS. in the British Museum
sometimes agrees with the Hebrew where our editions approach the Greek more
nearly, and that it doubtless preserves the original Syriac more faithfully. The
relation between the Septuagint, Syriac and Chaldee calls for closer investigation.
FN#7 - Perles (Meletemata Peschitthoniana, pp16–21) adduces other examples,
not always in point; comp. Prager, De Vet. Test. Vers. Syr. quam Peschittho
vocant Quœst. Criticœ, Pars I.
FN#8 - De origine et indole Arab. Libr. V. T. Histor. Interpretations. Halle, 1829.
01 Chapter 1
Verses 1-27
2 Samuel 1:1 to 2 Samuel 5:5
David after Saul’s Death
2 Samuel 1:1-25
1. The News of the Death. 2 Samuel 1:1-16
1Now [And] it came to pass[FN1] after the death of Saul, when David was returned
from the slaughter of the Amalekites,[FN2] and David had abode [that David abode]
two days in Ziklag [in Ziklag two days]. It came even [And it came] to pass on the
third day that, behold, a man came out of [from] the camp from [FN3] Saul with his
clothes[FN4] rent and earth upon his head; and so it was [om. so it was] when he
came to David, that [om. that] he fell to the earth and did obeisance 3 And David
said unto him, From whence comest[FN5] thou? And he said unto him, Out of [From]
the camp of Israel am I escaped. And David said unto him, How went the [FN6]
matter? 4I pray thee, tell me. And he answered [said], That [om. that][FN7] the
people are fled from the battle, and many of the people also[FN8] are fallen and
dead, and Saul and Jonathan his son are dead also 85 And David said unto the
young man that told him, How knowest thou that Saul and Jonathan his son be
dead?[FN9] 6And the young man that told him said, As [om. as] I happened by
chance upon Mount Gilboa, [ins. and] behold, Saul leaned upon his spear, and lo,
the chariots and [ins. the] 7horsemen[FN10] followed hard after him. And when [om.
when] he looked behind him [or turned round], he [and] saw me, and called unto
me. And I answered [said], Here am I:8 And he said unto me, Who art thou? And I
answered [said to] 9him, I am an Amalekite. He [And he] said unto me again [om.
again], Stand I pray thee, upon[FN11] me, and slay me, for anguish is come upon
me [the cramp[FN12] hath 10 seized on me], because [for] my life is yet whole in me.
So [And] I stood upon him and slew him, because I was sure that he could not live
after that he was fallen; and I took the crown [diadem[FN13]] that was upon his head
and the bracelet that was on his arm, and have brought them hither unto my lord
11 Then David took hold on his clothes and rent them, and likewise all the men
that were with him; 12And they mourned and wept and fasted until [ins. the] even
for Saul and for Jonathan his son and for the people of the Lord [Jehovah [FN14]]
and for the house of Israel, because they were fallen by the sword 13 And David
said unto the young man that told him, Whence art thou? And he answered [said],
I am the son of a stranger,[FN15] an Amalekite 14 And David said unto him, How
wast thou not afraid to stretch forth thine hand to destroy the Lord’s [Jehovah’s]
anointed? 15And David called one of the young men, and said, Go near and fall
upon him [Approach, fall on him]. And he smote him that he died 16 And David
said unto him, Thy blood[FN16] be upon thy head, for thy mouth hath testified
against thee, saying, I have slain the Lord’s [Jehovah’s] anointed.
2. David’s Elegy. 2 Samuel 1:17-27
17And David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and over Jonathan his
Song of Solomon, 18(Also he bade them teach the children of Judah The use of
the bow;[FN17] behold, it is written in the book of Jasher.) [Om. parenthesis-sign,
render: And he commanded that the children of Judah should be taught this song
of “The Bow;” behold, etc.:]
19The beauty[FN18] of Israel is slain upon thy high places [heights]!
How are the mighty fallen!
20Tell it not in Gath,
Publish it not in the streets of Askelon,
Lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice,
Lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph.
21Ye mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew, neither let there be rain upon you
[be neither dew nor rain on you],
Nor fields of offerings;
For there the shield of the mighty is vilely cast away,[FN19]
[For there was cast away the shield of the heroes],
The shield of Saul as though he had not been anointed [unanointed][FN20] with oil.
22From the blood of the slain,
From the fat[FN21] of the mighty [of heroes]
The bow of Jonathan turned not back,
And the sword of Saul returned not empty.
23Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant[FN22] in their lives,
And in their death they were not divided.
They were swifter than eagles!
They were stronger than lions!
24Ye daughters of Israel, weep over[FN23] Saul,
Who clothed you in scarlet with other delights,
Who put on ornaments of gold upon your apparel.
25How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle!
O Jonathan, thou wast slain in thine high places [on thy heights].[FN24]
I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan.
Very pleasant hast thou been unto me,
Thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.
How are the mighty fallen,
And the weapons of war perished!
I. 2 Samuel 1:1-16. The news of Saul’s death, and David’s reception of it.
2 Samuel 1:1 sq. This narrative is closely connected with that of David’s return to
Ziklag and Saul’s death in chaps30,31of the First Book. The words: “and it came
to pass after the death of Saul,” attach themselves immediately to 1 Samuel31,
thus continuing the narrative after the account there given of his death. The words:
“and David was returned from the slaughter of the Amalekites,” resume the
narrative in 2 Samuel 30, and connect themselves especially with 2 Samuel 1:17;
2 Samuel 1:26.—The grammatical apodosis begins with “and abode” (‫ֹויו‬
ַ ‫) ֶׁבש‬,
though according to the sense and the connection 2 Samuel 1:2 forms the factual
apodosis. The narrator desires to make an exact chronological statement for the
following account, to bring out prominently that the news of Saul’s death was
closely connected with the events related in chs 30, 31. The precise statement
that “after David had stayed two days in Ziklag, the messenger came on the third
day with the news of Saul’s death,” indicates, on the one hand, that the narrative
is drawn from exact, minute original sources, and, on the other, that David’s return
from the battle with the Amalekites happened about the same time as the battle of
2 Samuel 1:2. And behold, a man came, according to 2 Samuel 1:6 a youth; he
had belonged to the Israelitish army as a combatant.—[See the doubt as to this
fact in “Text. and Gram.”—Tr.]—“From with Saul” (‫“ = )דֹו ֵעמ‬from the neighborhood
of Saul,” comp. 2 Samuel 1:3-4. The rent garment and the earth on the head are
signs of grief. See 1 Samuel 4:12. His “falling down” recognizes David as future
king. See 2 Samuel 14:4; 2 Samuel 19:18; 1 Kings 18:7.
2 Samuel 1:3. “Escaped,” as all the people had fled from the battle, according to 2
Samuel 1:4.
2 Samuel 1:4. David’s question: “How was the affair, that happened?” is at the
same time the expression of dismay at the news of the flight. The answer is
introduced by a Conj. (‫רֶׁ ַיא‬, Eng. A. V. “that”), here = our “namely;” comp. 2
Samuel 4:10; 1 Samuel 15:20 (‫ יֵ כ‬is sometimes used). Three statements follow
one on another in the rapid, curt account of the informant, who, in keeping with
David’s word “tell me,” is repeatedly termed “the young man that told him,” 2
Samuel 1:5-6; 2 Samuel 13:1) “The people are fled from the battle,” the whole
army broken up in flight; 2) “Many of the people are fallen and dead.” [FN25] This is
not in opposition with 1 Samuel 31:6 : “and all his men,” because the latter refers
to the men immediately around Saul; 3) “And also Saul and Jonathan his son are
dead.” We may render; “not only many of the people, … but also Saul and
Jonathan are dead.” The climax in the three statements is obvious. To David’s
question ( 2 Samuel 1:5), which refers only to the last statement respecting Saul
and Jonathan, the messenger replies ( 2 Samuel 1:6-10) with a full account of
Saul’s death.
2 Samuel 1:6. I happened by chance, that Isaiah, in the press of battle, and in
the flight, which took the direction towards Mount Gilboa, see 1 Samuel
31:1.—Behold, Saul leaned on his spear. This does not mean (Bunsen) that
Saul was lying on the ground, “propping his weary head with the
nervously-clutched spear;” no support for this view is found in 2 Samuel 1:9-10,
for the “after he was fallen” in 2 Samuel 1:10 does not refer to his fall to the
ground. Nor is it to be understood (Cler. and others) of the attempt to kill himself
(according to 1 Samuel 31:4). We must rather suppose that Saul was leaning on
his spear (which was fixed in the earth, 1 Samuel 26:7) in order to hold himself up,
being perfectly exhausted. While he was standing there, “lo, the chariots (that
Isaiah, the chariot-warriors) and the horsemen followed hard on him,” came so
near that they must soon have reached him, see Judges 20:42. Death or captivity
stared him in the face. It is not probable that “chariots and horsemen” followed the
flying Israelites on the mountains; according to 1 Samuel 31:4 the pursuers were
the archers. Cler. justly: “This seems to be the beginning of the young man’s
2 Samuel 1:7. And he turned round, which could not be said of him, if he had
been lying on the ground.[FN26]
2 Samuel 1:8. The marginal reading “I said” [so Eng. A. V.] is to be preferred to
the text “he said,” which seems to have come from the “he said” in the beginning
of the following verse (Then.).—[Some take the Hebrews 3pers. to be oratio
obliqua; but this is not probable.—Tr.]
2 Samuel 1:9. For the cramp has seized me. So we must render this subst,
“cramp” as a twisting of the body (from a stem meaning “to weave, interwork, work
together”), not “death-agony” (Vulg.), not the “cuirass” or other part of the armor
(S. Schmid), nor “vertigo or fainting” (Gesen, De Wette), to which the following:
“all my life is yet in me” does not suit. In consequence of his excitements and
exertions, Saul found himself in a bodily condition in which he could not defend
himself against the onpressing enemy. The “because” (the second ‫ )יֵ כ‬gives a
further reason for the request to slay him, since Saul feared that in his
defenceless condition he would suffer the indignity of falling alive into the
Philistines’ hands.[FN27]—[Paraphrase of 2 Samuel 1:9 : Kill me, for the enemy will
soon be on me, I am too badly wounded to defend myself, yet, not being mortally
wounded, I shall be taken alive.—Tr.]
2 Samuel 1:10. The Amalekite says, that he slew Saul in accordance with his
request, because he saw he “would not live after his fall,” could not survive his fall.
The “fall”[FN28] does not mean “apostasy from God” (O. v. Gerlach), for, apart from
the impossibility of the Amalekite’s using such an expression, we should expect
some corresponding additional phrase; nor “falling after a severe, but not mortal
wound,” inflicted by himself (Cler, Schmid et al.), for this view presupposes a
wrong conception of the “leaning on his spear,” the account in 1 Samuel 31:4
being mixed up with this account. The “fall” here means “defeat;” see Proverbs
24:16.—He took from his head his golden diadem (not “crown,” ‫) ֹורזַא‬, the emblem
of the royal dignity. The “bracelet or arm-band” was worn not only by women, but
also by men, see Numbers 31:50. So the army-commanders are adorned on the
Assyrian monuments (Layard’s Nineveh), and the kings on the Egyptian. The
Amalekite brings from Saul’s corpse the symbols of the royal dignity in order to
confirm his words, and thus secure the favor of David, whom he looked on as king,
and gain a rich reward.—The narrative of the Amalekite contradicts 1 Samuel
31:3, where Saul kills himself with his own sword. The explanation of this
difference by the assumption of two different original accounts of Saul’s death
(Gramberg, Religionsid. II:89, and Ewald) is totally baseless (Then.). Winer (R-W.
II:392): “In any other than a biblical writer, this difference would certainly not be
regarded as proof of the composition of the Book from two narrations” Equally
untenable is the attempt at harmonizing the two (Joseph, Ant. 6, 14, 7, some
Rabbis, and especially S. Schmid) by saying that Saul had only wounded himself
severely by falling on his sword, and received the death-stroke from the Amalekite;
this contradicts the statement in 1 Samuel 31:1.—A careful comparison of the
Amalekite’s account with the other shows that, although his statement about
Israel’s defeat and the enemy’s pressing on Saul was true, he lied in saying that
he killed Saul, in order to gain favor and a royal reward from David; so Theod,
Brenz, Calov, Serar, Sankt, Cler, Mich, Winer, Then, Keil—[A. Clarke, Kitto, Bib.
Com., Philippson reject the Amalekite’s story as a fabrication; Patrick and Gill
seem to think it in general true, though distorted here and there; Wordsworth
defends it (appealing to Josephus), taking it to be supplementary to the other—if it
were not true, he asks, why did the Amalekite not deny it, when he saw that he
was to be put to death for it? To this it may be replied, that no time was given him,
or perhaps he did deny it, and his denial was disregarded. As for the diadem and
bracelet, he might easily have picked them up before the Philistines came to strip
the slain. His account of Saul’s death cannot well be harmonized with that of 1
Samuel31, and then he had an obvious motive for his story.—Tr.]
2 Samuel 1:11 sq. “Weeping and mourning aloud” and rending the garments on
the breast were signs of grief and sorrow for the dead. See Genesis 37:34-35;
Genesis 50:1; 2 Samuel 3:32; 2 Samuel 3:34; Judges 11:35.—The whole body of
soldiers took part in David’s deep grief. The Sept. adds at the end: “rent their
clothes” as explanatory of the terse Heb. text. The numerous signs of sorrow here
mentioned, rending the garments, mourning, weeping, fasting (“till evening”)
exhibit the greatness of David’s sincere grief. The order of mention of the objects
of the lamentation is the inverse of that in 2 Samuel 1:4 : Saul, Jonathan, the
people. His grief for Saul shows his heart to be free from bitterness, revenge and
malignant joy; he mourns the fall of the anointed of the Lord. His heart must have
been filled with deep sorrow for the death of Jonathan, whom he had not seen
since the incident recorded in 1 Samuel 23:18. He laments over the slain and
scattered people for the misery and ignominy that had befallen them through
defeat by the uncircumcised heathen. He calls them “the people of the Lord” with
special reference to their position as a people chosen by the Lord from all nations,
thus His special property by a holy covenant, whose wars against foreign nations,
out of whom he had separated them, are the Lord’s wars, comp. 1 Samuel 25:28.
The house of Israel denotes the people as a unit, with reference to their common
descent. The people of the Lord was in this battle abandoned by the Lord; the
house of Israel as a whole and in all its parts was cast down.—[On the alleged
difficulty in the text of the latter part of this verse see “Text, and Gram.”—Tr.]
2 Samuel 1:13 sq. To David’s question concerning his origin the young man
answers that “he is the son of an Amalekite stranger,” that Isaiah, of an Amalekite
who had settled in Israel[FN29]
2 Samuel 1:14. From the same reverence for the sacred life of Saul that he
showed before in the words: “I will not lay my hand on my lord, for he is the Lord’s
anointed” ( 1 Samuel 24:11), springs David’s indignant question to the Amalekite:
How wast thou not afraid to stretch forth thy hand against the Lord’s
anointed?—Comp. 1 Samuel 31:4 where the armor-bearer “fears” to do such a
thing. This question supposes that the young Prayer of Manasseh, as a foreigner
at home in Israel and living under its law, might very well know what a crime he
committed in laying his hand on the king’s person, even at the king’s request. The
question shows beyond doubt that David took his account to be true, and his
indignation at the crime shows how far he was from any sort of revenge against
the (in his eyes) sacred person of Saul.
2 Samuel 1:15. David causes the Amalekite to be straightway slain for his
self-avowed crime. He slays him not merely that, after the Amalekite has
confessed the regicide, he (David) may not be supposed to countenance such a
crime, and especially not Saul’s murder (Thenius), but he punishes him for his
crime against the person of the anointed of the Lord, and that on the ground of his
right as the king now chosen and appointed by the Lord. It was a theocratic, not a
political act, as Glericus think (“it is to be attributed to political reasons”), and so
Thenius and other moderns.
2 Samuel 1:16. While the preparations for the execution of the judgment are going
on, David pronounces the formal sentence of capital punishment: Thy blood[FN30]
be on thy head.—“Thou hast brought this bloody punishment on thyself, having
confessed thy crime”—For thy mouth hath testified against thee—The ground
of the sentence of death was the statement of the Amalekite himself; he affirmed
that the ornaments he brought were taken from the body of Saul, designing thus
to prove that Saul had been killed by his hand, and hoping to receive a rich reward.
See 2 Samuel 4:10.—Theodoret remarks that it was becoming that the “Prophet
and King” should be astonished at this deed, but not blame it.—[It was so obvious
and dreadful a crime that he could only express astonishment at it.—Tr.]—What
David himself with holy horror had refused to do, namely, to lay hands on Saul’s
sacred person, this murderer (so it seemed to him) had done.—[The
Commentators refer to the fact that the law requiring two witnesses in a
death-sentence was here set aside from the peculiarity of the circumstances.
There is no trace of special anger and haste because of the nationality of the
supposed regicide; but the execution may without difficulty be regarded as having
a political character—not that David, looking to his own accession to the throne,
wished to ward off such attempts against himself, or to curry favor with Saul’s
friends, but that, regarding himself as in fact the highest political authority in the
land, he dispensed punishment for a notorious and shocking political crime. It can
hardly be suspected (Philippson) from the words: “thy mouth hath witnessed
against thee,” that “David saw through the Amalekite” Against the allegation that
David’s conduct here was hypocritical, Chandler cites the cases of Alexander
weeping over Darius, Scipio over Carthage, Caesar over Pompey, and Augustus
over Antony.—Tr.]
II. David’s elegy. 2 Samuel 1:17-27
2 Samuel 1:17. And David sang this lament.—That David was the author of this
elegy is proved by this history, as well as by the vigor of the song and its harmony
with David’s situation and feeling. For the general defeat of Israel David and his
men expressed their sorrow as is above related. Here follows the voice of
mourning from David’s heart especially over Saul and Jonathan, the deaths of
both of whom must powerfully have moved him, though for different reasons.
2 Samuel 1:18. Two notices are prefixed to the Song: one as to its destination; the
other as to its source. As respects its destination it is said: “and he said
(commanded) to teach it to the children of Judah,” they were to learn and practice
it (comp. Deuteronomy 31:19; Psalm 60:1), probably that they might sing it in their
military practice with the bow (Grot, Delitzsch in Herz. xii280). For ‫ ַק ַיק‬is best
understood (from 2 Samuel 1:22) as the title: Song of the Bow.—[Eng. A. V.
improperly supplies: “the use of.”—Tr.]—With all its notes of sorrow the whole
Song has a warlike ground-tone, celebrating Saul and Jonathan as warriors, and
“the bow was a principal weapon of the times, and used especially by Saul’s
tribesmen, the Benjaminites, with great success, see 1 Chronicles 8:40; 1
Chronicles 12:2; 2 Chronicles 14:7; 2 Chronicles 17:17” (Keil). Böttcher connects
“bow” with “children of Judah” and renders: “to teach the archers of Judah;” but
against this restriction to Judah, Thenius rightly remarks that David’s purpose
doubtless was that the whole people should preserve a faithful remembrance of
Saul and Jonathan. Instead of “bow” (‫)ק ַיק‬.
ַ Then. and Ew. substitute adverbial
accusatives, the former “heedfully” (‫ק ַיו‬,
ַ Isaiah 21:7), the latter “exactly” (‫)קיק‬.
Against this see the admirable remarks of Böttcher.—[Böttcher points out that
Thenius’ “heedfully” applies to hearing, and does not suit here, and that Ewald’s
conjectured word means “truth,” not “correctness,” and further requires (if he write
‫ )קשק‬the substitution of the late Aramaic ‫( ק‬in this word) for the Heb. ‫ק‬. To
regarding “Bow” as the title of the Song Böttcher objects that this ought in that
case to be its first word; or, if the mention of the bow in 2 Samuel 1:22 justifies this
title (as the second Sura of the Koran is called “The Cow” from the incidental story
of Moses’ cow in it), the word should at least have the Art, and we should indeed
expect “the song of the bow.” On the other hand we may refer to such titles as
those of Psalm 22, 56, 45, 60. (Kitto). A new suggestion is made by Bib. Com.,
that there was in the Book of Jashar a collection of poems, in which special
mention was made of the bow ( 2 Samuel 1:19-27; 1 Samuel 2:1-10; Numbers
21:27-30; Lamentations 2.; Lamentations 3; Genesis 49; Deuteronomy 32;
perhaps Deuteronomy 33, etc.), that this collection was known as Kasheth (the
bow), and that the author of 2 Sam. transferred this dirge from the Book of Jashar
to his own pages with its title as follows: “For the children of Israel to learn by
heart. Kasheth from the Book of Jashar;” the “and he said” must then be regarded
as introducing the Song of Solomon, the title being a parenthesis. The objection to
this rendering is the position of the “and he said,” which it is hard to attach to the
dirge, and the way in which the Book of Jashar is referred to, which does not suit a
title like those in the Psalm—So far no satisfactory translation has been given
from the existing text, nor any satisfactory emendation suggested. The rendering
of Erdmann is adopted as offering the fewest difficulties—Tr.]—The source
whence the author drew this Song was “the Book of the Upright” (Sing.), or if the
subst. (Jashar) be taken as collective, of the upright ones (Vulg. liber justorum).
Comp. Joshua 10:13. It was in existence before the Books of Joshua and Samuel,
and contained (judging from the two extracts here and in Joshua) a collection of
Songs on specially remarkable events of the Israelite history, together with
celebration of the prominent pious men, whose names were connected with these
events (see Bleek, Introd.); Maurer: “songs in praise of worthy Israelites.”—[On
the Book of Jashar or The Upright, the various opinions as to its origin and
character (including Donaldson’s fanciful and unsound book), the two Rabbinical
works of this name, the anonymous work of1625 (an English translation of which
was published in New York in1840 by M. M. Noah; it abounds in fables, and was
apparently the work of a Spanish Jew), and the “clumsy forgery” which appeared
in England in 1751 under the name of the “Book of Jasher” (reprinted in1827 and
in1833)—see Art. “Book of Jasher” in Smith’s Bib. Dict., and Gill’s Commentary in
loco and on Joshua 10:13. Patrick holds the opinion that it was a book concerning
the right art of making war (Jasher—right), and quotes Victorinus Strigelius, who
says that it was “an ecclesiastical history like those of Eusebius and Theodoret.”
The author has been surmised to be Gad or Nathan, inasmuch as no extract is
given from the work later than the death of Saul. Dr. Erdmann states in the text
the substance of what we know about it.—Tr.]
2 Samuel 1:19. The glory of Israel on thy heights slain!—This lament is the
superscription of the whole song; herein David addresses “the people of the Lord,
the house of Israel” ( 2 Samuel 1:12). “Israel” cannot be taken as Vocative, “O
Israel” (Buns, Keil, et al. [Kitto, Stanley, Bib. Com.]), because then the expression
“the glory” would stand too isolated and undefined, especially at the beginning of
the song; we must therefore suppose it to be defined by the following word.—[Bib.
Com., to avoid this difficulty, renders: “thy glory;” Chandler, Philippson and Cahen:
“O glory of Israel,” which is easier as supplying an antecedent for the “thy
heights;” but perhaps less suitable in the connection, where we should not so
naturally expect a mere exclamation, and where the subst. verb could not with this
translation be supplied. Still it is a quite possible rendering, and deserves
consideration.—Tr.]—Some render the opening word (‫“ )יֶׁ בְּ ֵוכ‬Gazelle” (De Wette,
et al. [Kitto, Stanley]), and Ewald then refers this to Jonathan, who, he says
(Thenius: “a high-handed way, in truth, of dealing with history”), was generally
known among the warriors as “the Gazelle;” but this, apart from the absence in
the song of any comparison with the gazelle, or any allusion to its swiftness and
agility, is untenable simply because the song speaks throughout not of one hero
(Jonathan), but of two (Saul and Jonathan). As the composition has the ring of a
hero-song in honor of these two, who were in fact the hero-glory of Israel, we must
render the word “glory, ornament.” The “heights,” on which these the “ornament of
Israel” were slain, are the mountains of Gilboa, on which David looks as the scene
of the tragic end of the two greatest heroes of Israel. At the outset of his song he
laments the heavy loss which Israel suffered in noble, hero-power. This sorrowful
lament is still more definitely expressed in the following words: “How are the
heroes fallen!” Thrice it appears as the ground-tone of the whole song. Here at the
beginning it introduces the lament for the two strong heroes, Saul and Jonathan
( 2 Samuel 1:20-24), which forms the greater part of the song; in 2 Samuel 1:25 it
is the basis for the lament over Jonathan alone, the deeply loved friend. At the
close ( 2 Samuel 1:27) it sounds out the third time, strengthened by a parallel
exclamation, that the whole song as a hero-elegy may not merely “die away in a
last sigh,” but close with an exclamation aloud of deepest grief over the loss of
these great heroes.
2 Samuel 1:20. The two Philistine cities Gath and Askelon, as the most prominent,
are named in the language of poetry, for the whole land, which they represent
(Gath very near, Askelon at a distance on the sea). The singer will not have
Israel’s great calamity known among the heathen [he did not know that the
Philistines had possession of the bodies of Saul and his sons.—Tr.], for they are
the “uncircumcised,” the enemies of Jehovah and of His people. The latter’s
shame is already great enough in being overcome and trodden down by the
uncircumcised nation; may it not be increased by Philistine songs of triumph over
vanquished Israel.—Tell it not in Gath, so Micah 1:10. “The rejoicing of the
daughters of the Philistines” refers to the common oriental custom of the
celebration by the women and virgins with songs and dances of the heroic deeds
and triumphal return of the men (see 1 Samuel 18:6).—David’s expression: “Tell it
not,” etc., must be conceived and understood throughout according to its poetical
significance: he wishes that Philistia may not learn of this defeat, that Israel may
be spared the shame of becoming the object of the Philistines’ scornful joy over
victory. In fact the defeat of Israel could not possibly remain unknown; news of it
had already gone through the whole land ( 1 Samuel 31:9 sq.). It would be in
contradiction with the poetical type to suppose (as Sack does) that David’s words
are an exhortation to the men assembled about him on Philistine soil [at Ziklag],
that they themselves at least should not announce the sad news to the enemy.
Nor is 2 Samuel 1:21 to be taken as a real imprecation against Nature (Then.), but
as a poetical image.
2 Samuel 1:21. Over against the exultant joy of victory of Israel’s enemies, which
he would gladly be spared, David sets the attitude of mourning, in which he would
behold the mountains of Gilboa, the scene of his heroes’ death-struggle: ye
mountains in Gilboa, poetical for the usual prose-form: “mountains of Gilboa” ( 2
Samuel 1:6; 1 Samuel 31:1), the Preposition further defining the Stat. Const. (see
on this construction Ew. § 289 b, Ges. § 116, 1).—[Others suppose, not so well,
that Gilboa is here named as a tract of country.—Tr.]—Be there neither dew nor
rain on you!—May you lack that which makes you green and fruitful, and
dispenses fresh life. Waste and desert they were to lie, that their death might
present forever a picture of the dreadful end of those that were slain there, and so
Nature might, as it were, mourn for them.—And fields of first-fruits (be not on
you).[FN31] The fields from which were taken the firstlings (as best), were the most
fruitful. The expression therefore means: may these places be destitute (not only
of fructifying dew and rain, but also) of the products of a fruitful soil, may there be
here no fruitful fields whence might be gathered offerings of first-fruits. This is a
poetical elaboration of the thought expressed in the figure of the dew and rain,
and is by no means “meaningless” (Then.). There is no need for changing the text,
as Thenius, for example, after Theodotion would read: “ye forests and mountains
of death.”[FN32] Equally untenable is Böttcher’s conjecture (Aehrenlese, p24, and
Neue Aehrenl, p139): “on the fields of Jarmuth,”[FN33] especially as “the name of
the city in question [Jarmuth] is doubtful, and its location near Gilboa arbitrary”
(Then.). The translation “lofty fields” (campi editi, Cler, Maur.) is opposed to the
usual meaning of the Heb. word (‫)תאּודבק‬,
ְּ is here without special significance, and
requires too much to be supplied in order to connect it with the preceding: “and on
you, ye lofty fields,” come neither dew nor rain.—For there is defiled the shield
of the heroes, defiled with dust and blood, not “cast away” (Vulg.).—[Eng. A. V.:
“vilely cast away,” combining, not badly, the two shades of meaning of the
word.—Tr.]—The shield of Saul is specially mentioned as the military emblem of
the leader of the army.—Not anointed with oil. This is not an explanation of the
words “defiled is Saul’s shield,” as the Vulg. has it: “the shield of Saul, as if it were
not anointed with oil,” nor a reference to Saul: “as if he were not anointed,” 1
Samuel 10:1 sq. (J. H. Michaelis, S. Schmid, Dathe, et al. [Eng. A. V.]), the “as if”
and the reference to the royal anointing being both wrongly introduced; but it
expresses the fact that the shield is not “anointed with oil,” as was usually done to
the metallic shield (‫)דגֹומ‬,
ֵ in order to clean and polish it when it was stained with
blood and defiled by dirt and rust (see the description in Isaiah 21:5). In the
individualizing poetical language the defiled and uncleansed shields denote the
unfitness for war and the helplessness of the glory of Israel lying powerless in
dust and blood. If the shield of Israel lack its ornament and grace, so mayst thou
also, O field of slaughter, lack thine, mourn thou waste and dreary! Let Nature
respond to the shame and wretchedness of the people.
2 Samuel 1:22 celebrates the bravery of the two heroes, which impelled them
ever onward to victory, that thus the contrast to their sad end may come out more
prominently. To Jonathan is assigned the bow (comp. 1 Samuel 18:4; 1 Samuel
20:20), to Saul the sword. They thus represent the weapon-power (“Wehr und
Waffen”[FN34]) of the whole people. The sword, and in a sort the arrow, drinks the
blood and devours the flesh. This frequent poetical conception ( 2 Samuel 2:26;
Deuteronomy 32:42; Isaiah 1:20; Isaiah 34:6; Jeremiah 2:30; Jeremiah 46:10)
mingles in the words: Saul’s sword returned not empty [Jonathan’s bow turned
not back]; these heroes were accustomed to gain complete victory, to overthrow
and destroy all opposing power (comp. 1 Samuel 14:15).
2 Samuel 1:23. The singer sets forth how the two met death not only together, but
also in a deep, cordial union of war-comradeship. They were “beloved” and “lovely,
amiable,” the latter quality being the cause of the former; important data for the
characterization of the two men, both adjectives being referred to each. Comp.
the corresponding description of Saul in 1 Samuel 9:2 sq. and 1 Samuel 10:24.
David here looks at him only in the light of his God-given noble endowments and
qualities, and praises them, turning his glance away (in view of his death) from the
time during which the “evil spirit” had darkened and destroyed his nobility, and not
thinking of the persecutions he himself had suffered.—In life and in death—not
divided.[FN35]—On the one hand David here bears witness to the cordial love that
Saul felt for his Song of Solomon, traces of which we find in 1 Samuel 19:6; 1
Samuel 20:2, though according to 1 Samuel 20:30 sq. the evil spirit in him burned
in hot anger even against Jonathan. On the other hand David here praises the
filial love of Jonathan, in which he remained true to his father in spite of the latter’s
hatred and persecution of his friend, not permitting his friendship to diminish his
filial piety. Equal in noble qualities of heart, bound together in life and death in
cordial personal association, they had also the noblest heroic qualities in common:
each was distinquished for eagle-like swiftness and agility ( Isaiah 40:31;
Deuteronomy 28:49; Jeremiah 4:13; Lamentations 4:19; Habakkuk 1:8), for
lion-like courage and strength ( 2 Samuel 17:10; Judges 14:18; Proverbs 30:30).
How sorrowful, then, the loss!
2 Samuel 1:24. Saul’s gracious free-handedness in dividing out the booty of war.
Scarlet-red, purple or crimson (‫ירֵ כ‬,
ֵ Exodus 25:4; Judges 5:30; Proverbs
31:21).—With delights=in an amiable manner [or the “with” may=“and;” in scarlet
and (other) delights.—Tr.].—To this costly clothing for women he added golden
ornaments, brought along in the spoil of war. As the men are to mourn for the hero,
so the women for the gracious king, who out of the booty of his battles has
bestowed on them costly adornment.—[The poetical power of this appeal to the
women of Israel, beautiful in itself, is heightened when we recollect that these
women had once sung the war-praises of Saul, and were therefore the admirers
of his prowess as well as the grateful recipients of his bounty. Womanly
tenderness is to mourn the fallen hero, whom in his life womanly enthusiasm had
2 Samuel 1:25-26. The special lamentation for Jonathan. 2 Samuel 1:25. The first
part is a repetition of the lamentation in 2 Samuel 1:19 b with the addition: in the
midst of the battle. Then follows first the lamentation over the fact of his death:
Jonathan on thy heights slain, comp. 2 Samuel 1:19 a. David mentions him
alone, in order to bemoan what he had lost in him, the dearly-loved friend. His
union of heart with his friend differences this lament sharply from the foregoing
over him and Saul as heroes.—I am distressed, etc., thus standing first indicates
that David’s heart was deeply moved, and utterly given up to grief. My
brother—the expression of the cordial brotherly love that united them.
Very pleasant wast thou to me must be understood as setting forth the deep
impression that Jonathan made on him by his faithful, absorbing love. On this
account, and because of the expression: “I am distressed,” the “thy love” can only
= “thy love to me,” not “my love to thee” (Bunsen). “David mourns for him not
because he himself loved him, but because he has lost him” (Then.). “More
wonderful, extraordinary”[FN36] than the love of women, the love that women
bear—thus he sets forth the deep devotion of Jonathan’s love, like that which is
peculiar to women, and is the basis of the completest loving union between man
and woman. Theodoret; “As they that are married are made one flesh by their
union, so they that love one another perfectly are made one in soul by their
disposition of mind.” In these words David has not only reared to Jonathan a
monument of friendship, but also borne testimony to that highest ideal of
friendship (realized in him), which in the Old Testament was possible only on the
basis of a common covenant of heart with the living God.
2 Samuel 1:27. The climacteric expression of sorrow after this declaration of
highest loss in Jonathan’s love: How are the heroes fallen! At this culmination of
grief the lament again sounds the key-note of the whole, and returns in conclusion
to its chief object, the sorrow for the hero-glory of Israel destroyed in Saul and
Jonathan. For the concluding words: The weapons of war are perished, refer
not to materials of war (Vulg, De Wette, Böttcher, al.). This would be a
psychologically inconceivable transition, in sharpest contrast with the lofty tone of
the Song of Solomon, from the deepest, tenderest, innermost sorrow of heart for
what the singer and all Israel had lost in these two heroes, to a lament which, as
Thenius admirably says, a Napoleon might have made, but not a David. The
“weapons of war” are the heroes considered as instruments of battle and war;
comp. Isaiah 13:5; Acts 9:15 (σκεν͂ος). [The exquisite beauty of this Ode has been
noted by all commentators. The artistic skill with which its successive thoughts are
introduced is equal to the beauty and passionate tenderness of the thoughts
themselves. The lament over Israel’s glory slain—the picture of exulting foes—the
imprecation on the spot of ground that witnessed and, as it were, permitted the
misfortune—the praise of the military exploits of the heroes, their oneness, their
strength—the appeal to the women—the picture of Jonathan’s deep and faithful
love—these are all exquisitely expressed and connected; the ode has unity, and
yet, short as it Isaiah, has wonderful variety.—It is to be observed that the divine
name does not occur in the Song of Solomon, nor does it contain any theocratic or
religious thought. There is no reference to Jehovah’s wrath, no prayer for
Jehovah’s interposition, no expression of resignation to the divine will. Whatever
David may have thought of these things, he here says nothing about them. The
elegy, therefore (though noble in feeling), is not religious; it is a national Song of
Solomon, as the title seems to indicate, and is here chronicled by the historian as
the speech of Jotham ( Judges 9.) or that of Tertullus ( Acts 24.) is recorded—a
gem of ancient Hebrew poetry, not only pleasing as poetry, but instructive in the
light that it throws on the personages and events of the time.—Tr.]
1. David’s noble, kingly disposition is here splendidly attested in the temptation
that the announcement of Saul’s death brought him. Suddenly he sees himself
freed from the persistent murderous persecutions of Saul, and the way open for
his accession to the long-promised royal power and honor; how easily might his
heart have abandoned itself, if not to malicious joy, at any rate to joy at God’s
righteous judgment on his enemy, and the restoration of quiet in his life and peace
in his land! How human and natural it would seem if he expressed satisfaction at
Saul’s end and its results for himself! Instead of this we see in David’s words and
conduct in the presence of this terrible catastrophe the noblest and purest
unselfishness, and concern only for the sacred interests of Israel as the people of
the Lord. Looking altogether away from himself and his royal calling, he immerses
himself with his men in mourning for the national calamity, for the downfall of the
army of the Lord, for the violation done to the Lord’s honor in the defeat of His
people. He shows deep, true sorrow for Saul’s death, looking away from all that
Saul had done to him, and taking note only of what he was for Israel in his royal
calling as Anointed of the Lord. Further, he without envy celebrates him as the
glory of Israel in the elegy, which contemplates Saul only as military hero, but as
such from the theocratic point of view in his quality of leader of the people and
army of the Lord. As he acted theocratically with perfect justice in slaying in holy
anger the Amalekite as the murderer of the Lord’s anointed, giving no room in his
heart to revenge, so he stands on the summit of the theocratic view, when in his
elegy he celebrates Saul as the national hero and consecrated leader of Israel,
being wholly free from bitterness and anger at the suffering that Saul had so long
inflicted on him. All selfish feeling vanishes, in the presence of the slaughtered
people and the slain king, in the general theocratic concern for Israel and in the
consciousness of the Lord’s control over His people with the army and its leaders.
“David’s lament over Saul and Jonathan is the consecration of completion that is
poured out over the attestation of his royal disposition” (Baumgarten). It is “a
monument of his noble unrevengeful spirit. He who can so speak of the enemy
who has for years sought his life and inflicted on his soul wounds that never heal,
can certainly not be charged with revenge” (Hengst, 4:298 sq.).
2. While he thus exhibits a noble, high-hearted disposition, David also presents an
example of true love of enemies, being not merely free from all feeling of revenge
in the heart, making no complaint or accusation concerning the wrong done him,
uttering no word of joy over the judgment that has befallen his enemy, but
mourning his fall as that of a friend, avenging in holy anger the insult offered to
God in his person, and dwelling with just recognition and praise on the good with
which God has endowed him.
3. As David did, so must every servant of God keep the good and righteous cause
for which he fights and suffers (whether it be merely personal, or also a matter of
God’s kingdom) free and pure from the self-seeking that mingles therewith under
the pretence of furthering and completing it, that he may not set himself at
variance with God’s holy will, whose wise direction prepares right ways for it, nor
with the ends of his kingdom which can never be furthered by sinful means. He
who employs the sin of the world for a cause good and holy in itself, so as to make
himself partaker of this sin, treads the path of falsehood and destruction, and
desecrates the name and the aims of the kingdom of God.
4. Sincere love of enemies has its root in a heart purified from selfishness and in
fellowship with the living God, which seeks not its own, but looks only to God’s
love and honor. For God’s sake the truly God-fearing man loves his enemy. And
so love to enemies shows itself in such main features as are here described: in
the putting away of all revengeful feeling, in the refraining from a strictly justifiable
condemnation in view of God’s completed judgment, in silence of heart and mouth
before God and man as to the evil that the enemy has done, in covering the sin
that the Lord has visited or will visit, in recognizing what was good and
praise-worthy in the enemy, and what he was and what he accomplished by
God’s will and endowment for his kingdom, in praising the name of God for all
whereby the Lord even in the person and life of the enemy has maintained His
honor and exhibited His merciful and long-suffering love.
Wonderful is God’s management in the life of His people. When through the
entanglement of their life with the world their anxieties and afflictions have risen
highest, the Lord suddenly causes things to take a turn that puts an end to all
need and conflict, and introduces a thoroughgoing help that brings all temptations
and trials of faith to a wholesome conclusion.—To those who are distinguished in
the kingdom of God as specially called and favored instruments of His grace,
falsehood and hypocrisy draw near most pressingly and corruptingly in the guise
of humility and self-abasement.—Children of God should not betake themselves
to the ways of unrighteousness and self-will, in order to attain the goal set up for
them; they can reach this only through decided rejection of the means offered and
commended to them by the tempting world.—The God-fearing man sees in the
misfortune that strikes his enemy the judicial righteousness of God, and
accordingly lets no feeling of revenge or of rejoicing at injury to others gain a place
in his heart, and is humbly silent when the Lord speaks. Rather does he mourn
over the fall of his opponent, and over the damage that has been done not only to
the opponent, but to the common good cause.—Love to an enemy is righteous in
that it recognizes the good in an opponent without envy and without reserve, and
thankfully recognizes what God has done in his case according to His own
goodness and mercy.—Even amid the most painful experiences we should be
quick to discern the stamp of divine nobility in an immortal human soul.—When
we behold God’s hand righteously smiting men from whom as our persecutors
and foes we have had to suffer for the sake of God’s cause and kingdom, we
should keep our eyes open against the sin which wishes to anticipate God’s will
and assail the life of our opposers: we should by word and deed testify in holy
wrath against conduct so offensive to God.
2 Samuel 1:1 sq. Schlier: God the Lord has for every one of us also fixed His aim,
and though it be no royal crown that is destined for us, yet about us all God has
long ago formed His special plan. The way to reach this end is the way of duty, the
way of quiet, faithful obedience to God’s will. In such a way we come to the goal.
Think of David, to whom the crown was promised, and who in order to obtain it did
absolutely nothing else than his duty, and how beautifully did David reach the goal!
without his asking, the crown was laid at his feet.
2 Samuel 1:2. Cramer: Hypocrites turn their cloak according to the wind, and
worship the rising more than the setting sun; but He who deals hypocritically with
his neighbor prepares a net for his own feet ( Proverbs 29:5);
2 Samuel 1:3. Osiander: Those who wish to deceive other people mix truth and
falsehood together, in order that they may sell one along with the other, like good
and bad wares ( James 3:10-12).
[ 2 Samuel 1:10. Hall: Worldly minds think no man can be of any other than their
own diet; and because they find the respects of self-love, and private profit, so
strongly prevailing with themselves, they cannot conceive how these should be
capable of a repulse from others.—Henry: David had been long waiting for the
crown, and now it is brought him by an Amalekite. See how God can serve His
own purpose of kindness to His people, even by designing men, who aim at
nothing but to set up themselves.—Tr.]
2 Samuel 1:11-12. For him who has the Holy Spirit it is not impossible to love his
enemies.—Schlier: Who among us has such a persecutor as David had in Saul?
What we have in the worst case is one or another opposer, who injures us or hurts
our feelings. And yet how full we are of hate! and even if we do our opposer no
evil, how glad we are when evil befalls him! Of this we will be ashamed, we will
learn better the love of enemies. We are Christians, and as Christians have
double cause to follow Him who for us, His enemies, gave up His life.—F. W.
Krummacher: O how it should shame us, already in the days of the Old Testament
to meet with a love of enemies such as here manifests itself in David, while it must
with sincerity, truth and candor be confessed that among us, though we know the
revelation of love to sinners in Christ, it belongs, alas! to the rarest pearls.
2 Samuel 1:16. It was indignation at such an outrage when David caused the
regicide to be slain, and such indignation proceeded from fear of God, and at such
a moment there was nothing like calculating prudence to be found in David. But in
truth the fear of the Lord is always at the same time true prudence.—[David’s
course in this matter was the best policy for him; but we have no right to conclude
from that fact that he was led to it by considerations of policy. He had himself
shown, on an occasion of great temptation ( 1 Samuel 24:6), that reverence for
the Lord’s anointed of which he here speaks. The fact that “honesty is the best
policy” will not of itself alone make a man honest; but neither does it prevent a
man’s being honest, or give us a right to suspect a good man’s motives.—Tr.]
2 Samuel 1:17. S. Schmid: When a man dies, it is for the first time seen how
people have been disposed towards him during his life.
2 Samuel 1:20. Krummacher: The word: “Tell it not in Gath,” etc., has since
become a proverb in believing circles. It is often heard when one of their number
has not guarded his feet, and has somewhere given offence. Would that this call
were but more faithfully lived up to than is for the most part the case! Would that
the honor of the spiritual Zion lay everywhere as near the heart of the children of
the kingdom as to David’s heart that of the earthly Zion! But how often it happens
that they are even zealous to uncover the nakedness of their brethren, and by this
renewal of Ham’s offence become traitors in the Church which Christ has
purchased with His blood. They thus make themselves partakers in the guilt of
calumniating the gospel, in that they open the way for it by their perhaps
thoroughly malicious tale-telling—Schlier: Do but let us once learn to love our
fellow- Prayer of Manasseh, not for the sake of what he is or deserves, but for the
Lord’s sake who demands it of us; then shall we, even when we suffer injustice,
for all that not be wanting in love, but shall understand the blessed art of showing
love even where we find no love! How it ought to shame us though that David,
after long banishment and tribulation, feels nothing at the death of Saul but
mourning and lamentation.—Where office and calling does not otherwise demand,
we should be silent as to the evil done by a dead Prayer of Manasseh, especially
when it was a prince or a king; love should cover all that, should find no joy m
saying much of the faults of others. But it should be to us a rightful concern and a
holy joy to bring to light the good that another has done.—[“De mortuis nil nisi
[ 2 Samuel 1:23. How could David sincerely speak thus? There came back to him
now the recollection of those bright days when he dwelt peacefully as Saul’s son
and Jonathan’s brother, and his heart melted into tenderness as he recalled the
amiable traits which not only his dear friend Jonathan, but even Saul in his better
moments, had manifested. Eulogies over the dead often seem insincere or
exaggerated to those who know not the memories awakened.
2 Samuel 1:26. To say, as is sometimes done, that the Scriptures speak of the
love of Christ as “passing the love of women,” is utterly unwarrantable
[ 2 Samuel 1:1-16. A cunning schemer failing and perishing; 1) Amid bloodshed
and mortal agony he coolly lays a deep scheme to promote his own interest2) He
makes a cunning mixture of truth and falsehood (David could not know, and we
cannot tell, just how much of it was true)—as deep schemers usually do3) He
calculates on the narrow selfishness of human nature—commonly a very safe
basis of calculation4) He is foiled by encountering such generosity, loyalty and
justice as he has not been used to and did not look for ( 2 Samuel 1:11-15). The
shrewdest schemers sometimes mistake their Prayer of Manasseh 5) His plan
issues in benefit to another, but only ruin to himself. In this world which so
abounds in selfish schemers and tempters there is yet a grace that can sustain
and a Providence that overrules.—Tr.]
[ 2 Samuel 1:19-27 : Henry: The excellent spirit which David here shows: 1) Very
generous to his enemy, Saul; a) conceals his faults, b) praises what is worthy2)
Very grateful to Jonathan, his sworn friend; a) nothing more delightful in this world
than a true friend, b) nothing more distressful than the loss of such a friend3)
Deeply concerned for the honor of God ( 2 Samuel 1:20). 4) Deeply concerned for
the public welfare. The beauty of Israel slain ( 2 Samuel 1:19), the mighty fallen
( 2 Samuel 1:19; 2 Samuel 1:25; 2 Samuel 1:27).—Tr.]
FN#1 - 2 Samuel 1:1. Cahen and Wordsworth regard this phrase as connecting
the Second Book with the first; but it seems to be nothing more than the ordinary
formula of historical narrative, referring to 1 Samuel31. So begins 2 Samuel2of 2
Sam. There is no trace here of a division of “Samuel” into two Books.—Tr.]
FN#2 - 2 Samuel 1:1. Some MSS. and EDD. read ‫יֵ עֶׁדֵ מֹו ֵקכ‬, the usual form.
Whether the present Heb. text (with the Art.) is impossible (Wellh.) may be
considered doubtful. A final Yod may, however, have fallen out from similarity to
the following Waw.—Tr.]
FN#3 - 2 Samuel 1:2. Thenius thinks that the Sept. reading: “from the people of
(‫)דעֶׁ מ‬
‫ ֹו‬Saul” suits the connection as well as the Heb.; against which Wellhausen
remarks that the Greek reading contradicts 2 Samuel 1:6, from which it appears
that the Amalekite did not belong to the army. This reason of Wellh. does not
seem decisive (for in 2 Samuel 1:3 he seems to say, that he had been in the
army); but the Heb. phrase is more natural than the Greek.—Tr.]
FN#4 - 2 Samuel 1:2. ‫וג ֵֵמכב‬,
ְּ the word for civilian dress, not military vestment (‫)דֶׁ מ‬
as in 1 Samuel 4:12; Judges 3:16 (Bib. Com.). This would so far make against the
supposition that he was a soldier.—Tr.]
FN#5 - 2 Samuel 1:3. The Impf. (‫)תוֵר‬
ֵ may represent the action as incomplete, =
whence art thou now engaged in coming?—Tr.]
FN#6 - 2 Samuel 1:4. Sept.: What is this affair? that Isaiah, What is the matter? =
‫( יֶׁ ֵבוֵ א ֶׁדי־הַ י‬Wellh.), which is not as good as the Heb. text. Syr.: “what is the
FN#7 - 2 Samuel 1:4. The ‫ רֶׁ ַיא‬here = ὄτι, introducing a remark as oratio indirecta
(Then. and Erdmann: = “namely”), and we might render: and he said, that the
people were fled and … fallen, etc. (so Philippson); but “that” with orat. directa (as
in Eng. A. V.) is not Eng. idiom.—Tr.]
FN#8 - 2 Samuel 1:4. This “also … also” is not a very good rendering of the Heb.
‫ םֶׁמ‬... ‫םֶׁמ‬, since it does not clearly bring out the collocation and climax in the two
clauses. On the other hand Erdmann’s rendering: “not only are many of the
people dead, but also Saul and Jonathan are dead,” makes a sharper contrast
than the Heb. expresses. Perhaps the sense would be more exactly given by
translating: “the people fled, and moreover many are dead, and moreover Saul,”
FN#9 - 2 Samuel 1:5. Lit: that Saul is dead, and Jonathan his son? The Syr. has:
“David said to the young Prayer of Manasseh, Tell me how died Saul and
Jonathan his son?” a reading which seems to have nothing for it. The repetition of
the descriptive phrase: “that told him” = “his informant,” is in accordance with the
ancient manner of writing; compare the standing epithets of the Homeric gods and
FN#10 - 2 Samuel 1:6. Lit: “possessors of horses,” where the last word ‫ ׁשֵ ֵאי‬is the
charger or war-horse as distinguished from the ordinary horse (‫)םּומ‬. The Chald.
translates the first word (‫“ )וֶׁ עֶׁמֹו כ‬army,” which is a loose and inaccurate rendering.
Wellhausen, regarding the Heb. phrase as a strange one, has an ingenious
supposition that there was originally to this ‫ ׁשֵ ֵא ֵיכמ‬of the text a correction ‫ַק ַיק וֶׁ עֶׁמֹו כ‬
“possessors of bows,” of which the first word got into the text here, and the
second (‫)ק ַיק‬
ַ into 2 Samuel 1:18, to the vexation of interpreters. Our phrase,
though it occurs here only, is perhaps possible, but the ‫ ועמכ‬is probably an early
FN#11 - 2 Samuel 1:9. ‫עֶׁ ב עֵ ֶׁדא‬. Instead of “stand upon” = “stand against,” some
(Gesen, Philippson, Cahen, Erdmann) render “stand by,” = “come near,
approach.” The objection to this latter rendering is that the verb means always
“stand” or “make a stand,” as in the passages cited by Cahen, Daniel 12:1,
Michael stands by (on behalf of) the people, Esther 8:11, the Jews make a stand
for their lives. Here we should expect a verb of motion: “come near and slay me,”
as in Jeremiah 7:10; Jeremiah 17:9. It is better, therefore, to adopt the sense of
rising up, standing against, or to use the phrase “stand on” made familiar by the
English Authorized Version.—Tr.]
FN#12 - 2 Samuel 1:9. So Aq. (ὁ σφιγκτήρ) and probably Syr. (‫אּואּור ּור‬, rendered
badly in Walton's Polyg. caligines. Castellus gives vertigo, and J. D. Michaelis
spasmus), and so most moderns. See Gesenius, Thesaur. s. v.—The last clause
of the verse is literally: “for all yet is my life in me,” which is given by Saul as the
reason why the young man should slay him—Tr.]
FN#13 - 2 Samuel 1:10. So Sym. and Theod. Aquila has ἁφορισμα from the
ground-meaning of the stem ‫רזא‬, “to set apart,” perhaps regarding the diadem as
that which especially characterizes and sets apart a king (Schleusner)—Wellh.
thinks that the Art. is necessary to ‫רַ אְּ עֵ ֵמי‬.—Tr.]
FN#14 - 2 Samuel 1:12. Sept.: “for the people of Judah and for the house of
Israel,” the other VSS. as the Heb. Wellh. thinks “people of Judah” the true
text-reading, but supposes that this may be a corruption of “people of Jahveh,”
and that it called forth the addition “house of Israel.” But, on the other hand, the
Sept. reading looks like an attempt to smooth away a supposed difficulty, and the
Heb. text gives a clear and deeply theocratic sense, which is well brought out by
Then. and Erdmann. The Synopsis Criticorum and Wellh. are wrong in saying that
“people of Jahveh” and “house of Israel” are identical expressions.—Tr.]
FN#15 - 2 Samuel 1:13. Or: “an Amalekite stranger.” Aq. προσηλύτου, and so
FN#16 - 2 Samuel 1:16. The text has the Plu, the Sing. is found in many MSS. (De
Rossi) and in Qeri, apparently as if the Plu. alone meant “blood-guiltiness.” But in
the Heb. of O. T. both Sing. and Plu. are used in both senses, of “blood” and of
“blood-guiltiness,” see Leviticus 17:4 for the latter sense in the Sing. The Sing. in
the VSS. decides nothing for the Heb. text, because elsewhere (as Genesis 4:10)
the Heb. Plu. = “blood” is given by the Sing. in Syr. and Chald. Wellh. thinks that
this Qeri may have been determined by the use in 1 Kings 2:33; 1 Kings
2:37—After “saying” Sept. has ὄτι of orat. indirecta as in 2 Samuel 1:4, and De
Rossi mentions that one MS. in his possession here has ‫יֵ כ‬, which is perhaps a
copyist's imitation of later usage—Tr.]
FN#17 - 2 Samuel 1:18. So Targ, Rashi and Gill. The discussion in the
FN#18 - 2 Samuel 1:19. Some take the ‫ י‬as Interrog, and render: Is the beauty of
Israel slain? etc.; but the interrogative form does not so well suit the connection.
Others regard “Israel” as Vocative, on account of the following “thy,” which
otherwise would have no antecedent; against this (otherwise most natural)
rendering Isaiah, as Erdmann remarks, the hardness of the first word: The beauty,
O Israel, is slain, etc. Bib. Com. therefore translates: Thy beauty, O Israel; but it is
questionable whether the “thy” can lawfully be supplied. The rendering: “O beauty
of Israel slain,” etc., is harsh, because we should expect “thou art slain” Perhaps
the second of the above translations is the preferable—Tr.]
FN#19 - 2 Samuel 1:21. Erdmann and others render “defiled,” against which see
Ges, Thes. s. v.—Tr.]
FN#20 - 2 Samuel 1:21. The Chald, and perhaps Syr, refers the anointing to Saul
instead of to his shield. Eng. A. V. follows Vulg, which is undoubtedly wrong.—In
some MSS. and printed EDD. ֶׁ‫ דֵ יּוׁש‬is written instead of ֶׁ‫דֵ ֵשכׁש‬, and this is the more
usual form; but in this poetical passage the less usual form is not unnatural.
Instead of ‫ו ֵמכ‬,
ְּ “not,” some MSS. have ‫יכו‬
ְּ = “implement:” “the shield of Saul, armor
anointed with oil,” an improbable and unsupported reading—Tr.]
FN#21 - 2 Samuel 1:22. The reading ‫ׁשַ ַאו‬, “sword,” found in some MSS, is
perhaps a mere textual error (found in no VS.), or perhaps a correction for
FN#22 - 2 Samuel 1:23. These Adjectives have the Art. in the Hebrews, whence
Then and Erdmann render: “Saul and Jonathan, the lovely and pleasant, in life
and in death they were not divided.” Eng. A. V. is supported by all the ancient VSS.
and by most modern commentators.—Tr.]
FN#23 - 2 Samuel 1:24. ‫ עֶׁ מ‬instead of ‫ רַ מ‬in some MSS.; but the change is
unnecessary since ‫“ = רַ מ‬in respect to, for.”—In ‫ דֶׁ ְּמ ֵו ְּילַמ‬some codices substitute
the fem. suffix ‫לַמ‬, as in the last word of the verse; it is probable, however, that the
masc. form was used (especially in poetry) for both genders.—Tr.]
FN#24 - 2 Samuel 1:25. Coislin.: εἰς θάνατον ἐτραυματίσθης, “thou wast wounded
unto death,” a weak reading in comparison with the Heb. Text.—Tr.]
FN#25 - On the adverb use of the Inf. Abs. (‫ )יֶׁ ְּאוֹו י‬see Ew, § 280 c.—On ‫ םֶׁמ‬... ‫םֶׁמ‬,
see 1 Samuel 17:36 and Ew. § 359, 1.
FN#26 - The Heb. (‫ )בֶׁכׁשַ מ‬means “turned his face, looked round,” which seems
possible for a man lying on the ground, half-raised on a spear.—Tr.]
FN#27 - This insertion of ‫ עֵמ‬between ‫ ומ‬as nomen regens and the nomen rectum
occurs in a few other cases, Job 27:3. See Ges, §114, 3 R1.
FN#28 - On the irreg. form (ֵ‫ )רְּ ְּׁשמ‬see Ew, § 255 d.
FN#29 - For Jewish traditions and fables on this whole history see Patrick, Gill,
FN#30 - Read the Plu. of ‫ ֵבמ‬as in the Kethib [Germ. has Qeri, wrongly], since this
alone is used in the sense of “blood-gniltiness.” [This is incorrect; see “Text. and
FN#31 - As ‫ ְּי ֹומכ‬is Sing. (the Plu. is ‫)ימֵק‬,
ְּ all explanations based on the Plu. are
wrong. ‫אּודי‬
ֵ ‫ ְּת‬is used of the bringing of first-fruits, Numbers 15:19 sq.; 2
Chronicles 31:10 [but also of other offerings.—Tr.]
FN#32 - ‫[ ֵדבַק בְּׁשֵ ֹואכ כְּעֵ ֹואכ‬which is “unhebraic, and the first word ungrammatical”
FN#33 - ‫ּוימֵק‬
ְּ ‫כ ְֶּׁאדּוק‬.
FN#34 - A phrase from Luther’s famous hymn (Eine feste burg)—“shield and
weapon.” For a translation see Carlyle's Miscellanies.—Tr.]
FN#35 - On the translation see “Text. and Gram.”—Tr.]
FN#36 - The form ‫ רֵ ְּׁש ְּמרֶׁ ֵקי‬as if from a verb ‫[ מ׳׳י‬with ֶׁ‫ ר‬for ֵ‫]ר‬. Ges, § 75, 21 a, Ew.
§ 194, b.
02 Chapter 2
Verses 1-6
2 Samuel 2:1 to 2 Samuel 3:6
I. David anointed King over Judah—dwells in Hebron. 2 Samuel 2:1-7
1And it came to pass after this, that David inquired of the Lord [Jehovah], saying,
Shall I go up into any [one] of the cities of Judah? And the Lord [Jehovah] said
unto him, Go up. And David said, Whither shall I go up? And he said, 2Unto
Hebron. So [And] David went up thither, and his two wives also, Ahinoam. the
Jezreelitess and Abigail, Nabal’s wife [the wife of Nabal] the Carmelite. [FN1]. 3And
his[FN2] men that were with him did David bring up, every man with his household;
and they dwelt in the cities of Hebron 4 And the men of Judah came, and there
they anointed David king over the house of Judah.
And they told David, saying, That the men of Jabesh-Gilead were they[FN3] that
buried Saul 5 And David sent messengers unto the men of Jabesh-Gilead, and
said unto them, Blessed be ye of the Lord [Jehovah] that ye have showed this 6
kindness unto your lord, even [om. even] unto Saul, and have buried him. And
now, the Lord [Jehovah] show [do] kindness and truth unto you; and I also
will7[om. will][FN4] requite [do] you this kindness, because ye have done this thing.
Therefore [And] now, let your hands be strengthened [strong], and be ye valiant;
for your master [lord] Saul is dead, and also [ins. me] the house of Judah have
[have the house, etc.] anointed me [om. me] king over them.
II. Ishbosheth’s anti-godly Elevation to the Throne of all Israel through Abner, and
the consequent long Contest between the House of Saul and the House of David
2 Samuel 2:8 to 2 Samuel 3:6.
8But [And] Abner, the son of Ner, captain of Saul’s host, took Ishbosheth the son
of Saul, and brought him over to Mahanaim, 9And made him king over [for] [FN5]
Gilead and over [for] the Ashurites and over [for] Jezreel, and over Ephraim and
10 over Benjamin and over all Israel. Ishbosheth, Saul’s Song of Solomon, was
forty years old when he began to reign over Israel, and reigned two years; but [FN6]
the house of Judah followed David.[FN7] 11And the time that David was king in
Hebron over the house of Judah was seven years and six months 12 And Abner
the son of Ner, and the servants of Ishbosheth the son of Saul went out from
Mahanaim to Gibeon 13 And Joab the son of Zeruiah and the servants of David
went out; and [ins. they] met together[FN8] by the pool of Gibeon; and they sat
down, the one [these] on the one 14 side of the pool, and the other [those] on the
other side of the pool. And Abner said to Joab, Let the young men now [om. now]
arise and play before us. And Joab said, Let them arise 15 Then there arose and
went over by number twelve of Benjamin, which [who] pertained[FN9] to Ishbosheth,
the son of Saul, and twelve of the servants of David 16 And they caught every one
his fellow by the head, and thrust[FN10] his sword into his fellow’s side, so they fell
[and fell] down dead together; wherefore [and] that place was called
Helkath-hazzurim,[FN11] which is in Gibeon 17 And there was a very sore battle
that day, and Abner was beaten, and the men of Israel, before the servants of
18And there were three sons of Zeruiah there, Joab and Abishai and Asahel; and
Asahel was as light of foot as a wild roe [gazelle]. 19And Asahel pursued after
Abner, and in going he turned not [he turned not to go] to the right hand nor to 20
the left from following Abner. Then [And] Abner looked behind him and said, Art
thou Asahel? And he answered [said], I Amos 21And Abner said to him, Turn thee
aside to thy right hand or to thy left, and lay thee hold on one of the young men,
and take thee his armor. But Asahel would not turn aside from following of [om of]
him 22 And Abner said again to Asahel, Turn thee aside from following me;
wherefore should I smite thee to the ground? how then should I hold up 23 my
face to Joab thy brother? Howbeit [And] he refused to turn aside; wherefore [and]
Abner with the hinder end of the spear smote him under the fifth rib [in the
abdomen],[FN12] that [and] the spear came out behind him, and he fell down there
and died in the same place [on the spot]; and it came to pass that as many as
came to the place where Asahel fell down and died stood still.
24Joab also [And Joab] and Abishai pursued after Abner; and the sun went down
when they were come [and they came] to the hill of Ammah, that lieth before
Giah[FN13] by the way of the wilderness of Gibeon 25 And the children of Benjamin
gathered themselves together after Abner, and became one troop, and stood on
the 26 top of an hill. Then [And] Abner called to Joab and said, Shall the sword
devour forever? knowest thou not that it will be bitterness in the latter end? how
long shall it be then, ere thou bid the people return from following their brethren?
27And Joab said, As God liveth, unless thou hadst spoken, surely [om. surely]
then[FN14] 28in the morning the people had gone up every one from following his
brother. So [And] Joab blew a trumpet, and all the people stood still, and pursued
after Israel no more, neither fought they any more 29 And Abner and his men
walked all that night through the plain, and passed over Jordan, and went through
all30[ins. the] Bithron, and they [om. they] came to Mahanaim. And Joab returned
from following Abner; and when [om. when] he had [om. had] gathered all the
people together, [ins. and] there lacked of David’s servants nineteen men and
Asahel 31 But [And] the servants of David had smitten of Benjamin and of Abner’s
men, so that[FN15] three hundred and three-score men died 32 And they took up
Asahel and buried him in the sepulchre of his father which was in Bethlehem.[FN16]
And Joab and his men went all night, and they [om. they] came to Hebron at break
of day.
2 Samuel 3:1 Now [And] there was long war between the house of Saul and the
house of David; but [and] David waxed stronger and stronger, and the house of
Saul waxed weaker and weaker 2 And unto David were sons born [FN17] in Hebron;
and his first-born was Amnon, of Ahinoam the Jezreelitess; 3And his second,
Chileab, of Abigail, the wife of Nabal the Carmelite; and the third, Absalom the
son of Maacah the daughter of Talmai king of Geshur; 4And the fourth, Adonijah
the son of Haggith; and the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital; 5And the sixth,
Ithream, by Eglah David’s wife. These were born to David in Hebron. And it came
to pass, while there was war between the house of Saul and the house of David,
that Abner made himself strong for the house of Saul.
I. 2 Samuel 2:1-7. David’s elevation to the throne of Judah, and his residence in
2 Samuel 2:1. The inquiry of the Lord was made through Urim and Thummim,
comp. 1 Samuel 23:2; 1 Samuel 23:10 sq.; 1 Samuel 30:7-8 sq. The high-priest
Abiathar with the Ephod was with David, 1 Samuel 22:30; 2 Samuel 23:6. At this
decisive turning-point of his unquiet life he wished to know the will of the Lord. The
“after this” refers to all that is narrated in 2 Samuel1. and 1 Samuel31. The motive
for inquiring of the Lord is thereby at the same time indicated. He saw that the
promise of the kingdom was now to be fulfilled to him. As he could no longer
remain in the land of the Philistines, but must return to his country, and as the
northern part of the land was held by the Philistines, the return to the territory of
his own tribe was most natural; for there, where he had a long time found refuge
( 1 Samuel 22:5), he might count on a large following ( 1 Samuel 30:26 sq.) and
firm support and protection against the remains of Saul’s army under Abner. To
the first question he receives from the Lord the definite answer that he is to return
to Judah. To the second question: “Whither?” the answer is: “To Hebron.” This city,
situated in a valley ( Genesis 37:14) in the most mountainous, and therefore the
safest part of Judah, held to be a holy place from the recollections of the
Patriarchal time, one of the principal places in the Tribe of Judah, an ancient royal
city and a priestly city ( Joshua 12:10; Joshua 21:11), must now have had for
David a very special importance, which appeared all the clearer from the divine
decision and in respect to his future life became indubitable; here now was to be
fulfilled the old Patriarchal promise ( Genesis 49:8 sq.), the establishment of the
theocratic kingdom in the Tribe of Judah.
2 Samuel 2:2 sq. In accordance with the will and direction of his God he went
thither with his whole family. But also the men that were with him (comp. 1
Samuel 27:2). he led thither into the cities of Hebron, that Isaiah, the places that
belonged to the district of Hebron;[FN18] every man with his house, a complete
and permanent colonization of David’s entire following took place, the foundation
of David’s royal authority, which was established with its seat in Hebron. For it is
forthwith declared in 2 Samuel 2:4 a that the “men of Judah,” that Isaiah, the
elders as the representatives of the Tribe anointed him king over the house (the
tribe) of Judah. See 2 Samuel 5:3, where the elders of all Israel come to make him
king over the whole nation. The first anointment received from Samuel ( 1 Samuel
17.) denoted the divine consecration to the royal office; this second one,
performed by the Elders of Judah, was the public solemn installation of David
(based on that anointment) into this office. Comp. Saul’s first anointment by
Samuel ( 1 Samuel 10:1) and his subsequent public inauguration as king by the
Elders, 1 Samuel 10:24; 1 Samuel 11:15.—So two anointments of Solomon are
described, 1 Chronicles 23:1 sq.; 1 Chronicles 29:22. The anointing of David was
perhaps hastened because Abner’s purpose ( 2 Samuel 2:8 sq.) was already
known. [On the motives of the Tribe of Judah in making David their king see
Chandler’s “Life of David,” Bk. II, 2Samuel 30.—Tr].
2 Samuel 2:4-7. David’s first act as king. The message to the Jabeshites with
thanks for their burial of Saul and the announcement of his anointing as
king.—And they told David, saying (Luther: And when it was told David that) the
men of Jabesh are they that buried Saul. (The form) of this sentence would
certainly be somewhat “hard and ill-constructed” (Then.), but for the obvious
pre-supposition that David, having heard of and deeply lamented Saul’s death on
the battle-field, inquired whether the body of the “Anointed of the Lord” had been
rescued from the hands of the uncircumcised and buried in the sacred soil of his
native land. S. Schmid well remarks of this explanation (which Tremellius has)
that “it accords with David’s piety.” It is thus natural to suppose that David, now by
God’s providence king in Saul’s stead, in consequence of the afflicting news that
had wrung from him such a Lamentations, purposes to give a becoming royal
burial to the man whose person had always been sacred to him, and whose
heroic greatness and virtues he had so passionately celebrated. There is
therefore no need for the bold emendation of Thenius (after Vulg. and Sept.), who
would read simply: “it was told David that the men of Jabesh buried
Saul.”[FN19]—On the burial by the faithful and grateful Jabeshites of the bodies of
Saul and his sons brought away from Bethshean, see 1 Samuel 31:11 sq.
2 Samuel 2:5. The message to the Jabeshites was couched in the tone or royal
authority. It conveys1) a grateful invocation of blessing for the noble deed of love
that they have wrought’ on Saul by burying him; the phrase “your lord” indicates
that they had herein acted as became their relation to Saul as their king and lord.
2 Samuel 2:6. And now the Lord do to you kindness and truth.—This is the
expansion of the wish of blessing in 2 Samuel 2:5. The first noun (‫)ׁשַ םַ א‬, favor,
kindness is not merely pardoning grace (Keil), but in general the gracious love
that God shows His people on the ground of His covenant with them. The second
(‫)רֶ ַדק‬, truth is the trustworthiness and attestation of all His promises. David
wishes them all exhibitions of the love and faithfulness of the Lord for the faithful
love which they showed king Saul even in his death.—And I also do you this
good, because ye have done this thing; the good that he does them is not
merely this wish for the divine blessing (Keil), or therewith a gift of honor (Bunsen),
but this honorable royal embassy with expression of thanks and invocation of
blessing. The rendering: “And I also wish to show you such kindness” (S. Schmid,
Clericus, De Wette) gives no appropriate sense, whether the comparison be
referred to God’s goodness or to the deed of the Jabeshites. Thenius excellently:
“greeting you with blessing by my ambassadors.”—[Eng. A. V, Patrick and
Philippson give the incorrect future rendering.—Tr.]
2 Samuel 2:7 adds2) encouragement and exhortation: let your hands be strong
means not: be consoled! but: “be of strong courage.” And be sons of power
[valiant], that Isaiah, show yourselves brave men and unappalled. [The phrase
means in general “men of force,” the context showing whether the force intended
is moral, intellectual or physical. The word (‫ )ׁשֶׁ כֵמ‬is used of Ruth ( Ruth 3:11) and of
the “virtuous woman” in Proverbs 31:10, and elsewhere of warlike valor and of
wealth. Bib. Com.: the opposite of “men of virtue” are “men of Belial,” that Isaiah,
men of no force of character.—Tr.]—The ground (‫ )יֵ כ‬of this exhortation is at the
same time the explanation of its importance for the interests of David as anointed
king. In the reason assigned he shows them not directly, but indirectly that he has
been made king of Judah, their king Saul being dead. But his exhortation to valor
and courage is intelligible only on the supposition that he gives them to
understand that for them also he has taken Saul’s place as king, and that they
must valiantly espouse and defend his cause against his enemies, the party of
Saul under the lead of Abner. It is not clear whether or not Ishbosheth had at this
time been already set up as king by Abner. But from 2 Samuel 2:9 (which states
that Gilead was one of the districts gained by Abner for Ishbosheth) it is evident
that David, seeing Abner’s movement thither (comp. 1 Samuel 26:7), must have
been concerned to secure to himself the capital city [Jabesh] of this province
(Joseph, Ant. VI:5, 1). Whether he succeeded in this is questionable. His demand
that it should recognize him as king was justly founded on his divine call to be king
over the whole people in Saul’s stead, comp. 2 Samuel 3:9-10. So certainly along
with sincere gratitude “there was policy in this embassy” (Then.), but it was a
thoroughly justifiable theocratic policy.
II. 2 Samuel 2:8 to 2 Samuel 3:6. Ishbosheth’s antigodly elevation to the throne of
Israel by Abner and the thence resulting war.
2 Samuel 2:8. On Abner see 1 Samuel 14:50.—He had taken Ishbosheth the
son of Saul, and brought him over to Mahanaim, that Isaiah, across the Jordan.
Ishbosheth had probably taken part in the unfortunate battle of Gilboa, and as he
survived, Abner his uncle saved him together with the force under his command in
the flight across the Jordan ( 1 Samuel 31:7), in order to keep the kingdom in the
house of Saul. This retreat across the Jordan passed from Bethshean or Mount
Gilboa southeast into Gilead, where not the city Jabesh (as we might expect from
the foregoing), but Mahanaim (that Isaiah, “two camps,” Genesis 32:2) became
the abode of Ishbosheth. In the division of the land this place was assigned to the
Tribe of Gad, and lay on the border between it and the half-tribe of Manasseh
( Joshua 13:26; Joshua 13:30) on the Jabbok [the present Wady Zerqa]. It was
afterwards given to the Levites, Joshua 21:38. At a later period David found
refuge there in his flight from Absalom, 2 Samuel 17:24.—Ishbosheth according to
1 Chronicles 8:33; 1 Chronicles 9:39, was Saul’s fourth Song of Solomon, while in
1 Samuel 14:49 only three are named, who also fell with him in the battle, 1
Samuel 31:2. But in Chronicles he is called Eshbaal, that Isaiah, “Fire of Baal” [or
“man of Baal.”—Tr.]. For the name of the god Baal in Hosea 9:10; Jeremiah 3:24,
is put as equivalent bosheth [shame] in order to indicate the reproach and shame
of idol-worship (comp. Isaiah 42:17; Isaiah 45:16). So for Gideon’s surname
Jerubbaal ( Judges 6:32; Judges 8:35) we find Jerubbesheth ( 2 Samuel 11:21).
Similarly the name Eshbaal was changed into Ishbosheth= “man of shame or
disgrace.” Ewald’s supposition that bosheth was originally used in a good
senses= “reverence, awe,” is without foundation, and is in opposition to the fact
that the word occurs only in a bad sense. It is therefore a natural conjecture that
the change of Eshbaal to Ishbosheth had reference to the shame and disgrace
that befell Saul’s house in the person of this his last Song of Solomon, Psalm
35:26 being thus fulfilled.—[It seems more probable that the name Baal = lord
was in early times given to the God of Israel, and proper names were formed from
it, as Eshbaal or Ishbaal = man of the lord; afterwards when the worship of the
false Baal was introduced into Israel, the change above-described was made.
Possibly this change was made by later editors and scribes, and the original form
was retained in the Book of Chronicles because this book was less read than the
prophetic historical books.—Tr.]—That Ishbosheth was a weak, characterless tool
in the hand of Abner for the maintenance of the interests of the fallen royal house
is already intimated in the words: And Abner took Ishbosheth and carried him
over.—Mahanaim was fitted by its position to be a refuge for Ishbosheth and the
remains of the defeated army.
2 Samuel 2:9. And made him king, as being in his view the legitimate heir to
Saul’s royal throne. Then follows the statement of the districts over which Abner
extended Ishbosheth’s authority: he made him king for Gilead, in which was the
central point of his dominion, Mahanaim, whence consequently the territory of the
two and a half east-jordanic tribes in the first place, which in contrast with the
west-jordanic Canaan ( Joshua 22:9; Joshua 22:13; Joshua 22:15; Joshua 22:32;
Judges 5:17; Judges 20:1) is put as equivalent to Gilead, was claimed for
Ishbosheth. The change of prepositions, three times “to, for” (‫)רַ מ‬, and three times
“over” (‫)עֶׁ מ‬, is neglected by all the versions, which take the first as equivalent to
the second. The difference, however, is to be retained; see Ew, § 217; and c. The
former, as sign of movement “to” [occurring in the Hebrew text with Gilead, the
Ashurites and Jezreel], indicates those regions over which Abner gradually
extended Ishbosheth’s authority, being obliged to wrest them from the Philistines
by continued wars; for it cannot be doubted that the Philistines followed the flying
Israelites across the Jordan, and that after the battle of Gilboa the districts of the
Ashurites and Jezreel remained securely in their possession. It is obvious that the
“Ashurites” here cannot be the Arabian tribe of Asshurim in Genesis 25:3 (Maur.)
nor the Assyrians. The Chald. has “over the tribe of Asher;” but, apart from the in
that case strange insertion of the Article (Then.), this explanation does not accord
with the position of the other districts here mentioned, according to which the
territory of Asher must have embraced also that of Zebulon and Naphtali, which is
not supposable. According to the view of Bachienne cited by Keil the reference is
to the city Asher ( Joshua 17:7) with its territory, since this city lay south-east of
Jezreel, and Abner might well from Gilead have first subjected this region to
Ishbosheth. But in that case (Keil) no reason appears why the name of the
inhabitants (Ashurites) is given instead of that of the city (Asher), and the mention
of a city among districts is improbable. The best way out of the difficulty is to adopt
the reading “Geshurites” found in Vulg, Syr. and Ar, and approved by Then, Winer
(R. W. I:414) and Ewald. This misreading might easily have gotten into the text.
This Geshur cannot, however, be the district whose inhabitants, “Geshurim” =
“bridgemen,” appear in the south of Palestine in connection with Philistia ( Joshua
13:2), and are mentioned along with Girzites and Amalekites ( 1 Samuel 27:8);
nor can it be the little kingdom of Geshur which belonged to Syria ( 2 Samuel
15:8), and there formed an independent State ( 2 Samuel 3:3; 2 Samuel 13:37; 2
Samuel 14:23). From this latter is to be distinguished (against Keil) a district of the
same name which ( Deuteronomy 3:14 sq.; Joshua 12:5 sq.) with the region of the
Maachathites on the west formed the border of the kingdom of Bashan and at the
same time touched Gilead. But the Maachathites dwelt on the southwestern
declivity of Hermon, at the sources of the Jordan (so Jerome). We shall therefore
have to look for the Geshurites (whose district is named also in Joshua 13:11
along with both Gilead and Hermon) together with the Maachathites south of
Hermon in the upper Jordan-region on both sides of the river. That this district is
to be distinguished from the independent “kingdom” of Geshur in Syria is clear
also from Joshua 13:13 : “ the children of Israel drove not out the Geshurites and
the Maachathites, and Geshur and Maachath have dwelt among Israel to this
day,” whence it appears that it belonged to the Israelitish territory. The name
Geshur (Bridgeland) it doubtless received from the numerous crossings that
connected the two banks of the Jordan (Winer, Thenius).—And for Jezreel—this
district called after the city of the same name, the scene of the great battle in
which Israel succumbed to the Philistines, was the great fruitful plain (τὸ
μέγαπεδίον, 1 Maccabees 12:49; Joshua, Ant. XV:1, 22 u. s.) whose recovery
must have particularly occupied Abner.—To these three great regions, which are
mentioned in geographical order, are added, going from north to south (with the
preposition ‫“ עֶׁ מ‬over”), the tribe-territories of Ephraim and Benjamin.—He made
him king over Ephraim and Benjamin, these tribes, which had not yet been
conquered by the Philistines, holding no doubt to the House of Saul.—And over
all (the rest of) Israel, that Isaiah, over all that country which afterwards formed
the kingdom of Israel (Then.).
2 Samuel 2:10-11. Duration of Ishbosheth’s reign over Israel and of David’s in
Hebron.—Forty years old was Ishbosheth when he became king over
Israel.—The words: over Israel connect themselves with and take up the closing
words of 2 Samuel 2:9 : “and over all Israel.” The following: and he reigned two
years, might therefore be understood of his reign over all Israel excluding Judah,
the words “over Israel” being naturally supplied from the context. Abner, in fact, on
account of the wars necessary to conquer from the Philistines at least the three
regions mentioned in 2 Samuel 2:9, could only gradually establish Ishbosheth’s
royal authority, and could not make him king over all Israel till after the clearing of
those districts. It may well be supposed that this reconquering process took five
and a half years. This explanation (Ewald, Bunsen, Keil) sets aside the seeming
discrepancy that arises when we compare the statements that Ishbosheth was
king two years, and that David reigned in Hebron over Judah seven years and six
months; and it yet remains beyond doubt that Ishbosheth’s elevation to the throne
was nearly synchronous with David’s anointment as king over Judah, and his
murder ( 2 Samuel 4), up to which he was king, with the anointing of David as king
over all Israel. Ishbosheth occupied the throne as long as David was king over
Judah; but he was only two years king over Israel, which he could really become
only after the gradual expulsion of the Philistines. However, instead of this
explanation the reading of Thenius (which, it must be confessed, does some
violence to the syntax) commends itself as better: he takes the passage from “but
the house of Judah” to the end of 2 Samuel 2:11 as parenthesis, and renders: and
when he had reigned two years (only the house of Judah followed David, and the
time that David was king in Hebron over the house of Judah was seven years and
six months), then went out Abner, etc. The harmonistic attempt of S. Schmid, Cler.
and others who hold that David reigned two years over Judah till the murder of
Ishbosheth and then further five and a half years over Israel in Hebron till the
conquest of Jerusalem, is in direct contradiction with the words ( 2 Samuel 2:11):
David reigned over Judah seven years and six months. Equally untenable is
the view that the two years of Ishbosheth’s reign were the time of quiet till the
outbreak of the war with David, during which Abner played the chief part
(Grotius)—for Ishbosheth was king till his murder after Abner’s
death.—[Wellhausen connects 2 Samuel 2:10 b with 2 Samuel 2:9, and throws
out10 a as chronologically wrong, and 2 Samuel 2:11 as interrupting the narrative.
It seems probable that10 a and 11 are parenthetical chronological statements; but
they are not on that account to be rejected; they may be regarded as explanatory
insertions by the editor of the book. As to the chronology, there is no objection to
be made to 2 Samuel 2:11, which is well supported ( 1 Kings 2:11), and the two
years of 2 Samuel 2:10 is reasonably explained by Ewald as above stated by
Erdmann, or if the numeral be incorrect, this merely leaves doubtful the duration
of Ishbosheth’s reign (as Saul’s in 1 Samuel 13:1), and does not invalidate the
clause. Exception Isaiah, however, specially taken to Ishbosheth’s age as here
given, forty. The context. it is said, represents him as a youth or child, and
moreover, as probably Saul’s youngest Song of Solomon, he must have been
several years younger than Jonathan, who was the oldest Song of Solomon, and
Jonathan seems to have been nearly of the same age with David, about thirty,
when he died. To this it may be answered that Ishbosheth need not have been
much younger than Jonathan (especially if Saul had more than one wife), that
Jonathan may have been twelve years older than David without bar to their
friendship, that Jonathan may easily at the age of forty-two have left just one
infant child ( 2 Samuel 4:4), and that Saul might have been a husband and a
father at the age of twenty-one, and, dying a stout warrior at the age of sixty-three,
have left a son of forty-two. There is no difficulty in these suppositions single or
combined. But if the number forty be incorrect, this does not affect the
genuineness of the clause. The editor thought it well to insert here these
chronological statements at the beginning of the narrative of the war between the
house of Saul and the house of David. It is quite possible, but by no means certain,
that the numerals have been lost or corrupted by copyists. See “Text, and
2 Samuel 2:12 sq. From 2 Samuel 2:12 on is related how Abner, after actually
establishing Ishbosheth as king over Israel, begins the conflict against David in
order to subject Judah also to Ishbosheth. He could not have undertaken this war,
if he had not finished the war against the Philistines for the establishment of
Ishbosheth’s authority over Israel, so that he knew that he was secure on that side.
It is to be noted that David had at no time and in no way planned or begun
hostilities against Ishbosheth. Rather he was forced into war by the latter through
Abner. From Mahanaim, where Ishbosheth’s headquarters had hitherto been,
Abner advanced with his army against David to Gibeon (the present Jib in the
western part of Benjamin, five miles north of Jerusalem) in order thence to march
southward on Hebron to attack David.—[Bib. Com.: To go out is a technical
phrase for going out to war.—Tr.]
2 Samuel 2:13. Though David had no hostile designs against Ishbosheth, he was
yet fully prepared against such a foreseen attack.—[Some hold less well that war
was already going on between the two princes.—Tr.]—To Ishbosheth’s army
under Abner he opposed a force under Joab. Joab, the son of David’s sister
Zeruiah ( 1 Chronicles 2:16), had no doubt already, as his brother Abishai (who
was with David during his persecution, as David’s family also, 1 Samuel 22, came
to him for protection against Saul), had a military training with his uncle, and taken
a prominent position among his warriors; else he would not now appear as the
chief leader of David’s forces. In the roll of heroes in 2 Samuel 23:8 sq. his name
is not given, probably because he already then stood above them all as General,
as we may conjecture from 2 Samuel 23:18; 2 Samuel 23:24 (Vaihinger in Herzog
VI:712). As General-in-chief he appears in the official lists, 2 Samuel 8:16; 2
Samuel 20:13.—The two armies met at the pool of Gibeon, David having
hastened to anticipate Abner’s attack on the territory of Judah, and to carry the
war into Ishbosheth’s territory. The pool of Gibeon is the “great water” mentioned
in Jeremiah 41:12; there is still in Jib (the ancient Gibeon) in a cave a copious
spring [forming a large reservoir], and not far beneath [on the side of the hill] the
remains of an open tank which Robinson (II:353 sq. [Am. ed455 and ii256]) saw,
one hundred and twenty feet long and one hundred feet wide, about equal to the
pool of Hebron. Comp. Tobler, Topographie von Jerusalem II:515 sq. [and Smith’s
Bib. Dict., Art. Gibeon.—Tr.]. The armies encamped at this pool opposite one
another, the one on this side, the other on that side.
2 Samuel 2:14-16. To avoid a bloody civil war and perhaps also to escape
personal conflict with his near friend ( 2 Samuel 2:22) Joab, Abner proposes to
Joab to decide the contest by a duel between individual warriors (“young men,”
‫רְּ עֵ ֵאבמ‬, comp. 2 Samuel 2:21) put up on both sides. This word “play” (‫)יׁשֹו ק‬
ֵ is used
of children in the street ( Zechariah 8:5), of beasts in the sea ( Psalm 104:26), and
so here of warlike play, = to wrestle, but not to denote a game of arms for
entertainment (Ew.), but a serious battle-play to decide the matter for both armies
(comp 1 Samuel17) as the result ( 2 Samuel 2:16) shows.—Joab accepts the
proposal immediately, a sign that it was agreeable to him. Twelve warriors from
each side, the number probably derived from the number of the Tribes, meet in
single combat on one side of the pool. The “went over” is to be understood of one
party only, while the preceding arose refers to both.—[The “went over” refers from
the wording to both parties; probably they met at some intermediate
point.—Tr.]—And they seized every man the head of his fellow, that Isaiah,
they rushed on one another, in order by the stunning seizure of the head the more
quickly and thoroughly to finish the struggle. It is not necessary (Then. and Ew.
after Sept.) to supply “his hand” after “man” (“they thrust each his hand on the
head of his opponent”) in order to get a verb for “his sword” [Eng. A. V. inserts
“thrust”]; there is no need to repeat the verb “seized,” for we may without forcing
render: and his (every one’s) sword in the side of his opponent! The rapidity
with which, at the same time with the seizure of the head, the sword entered the
adversary’s side is vividly set forth by the absence of the verb, it being logically
necessary to supply merely the word “was.”—And they fell together.—This
result shows the embittered feeling of the young men, but also their military skill
and training.—[Bp. Patrick understands that only the twelve Benjaminites were
slain; but it was clearly a mutual slaughter, the twenty-four fell dead. Bib. Com.
cites the strikingly similar combat of the Horatii and the Curiatii; as the Alban
Mettius there urged the desirableness of avoiding bloodshed because the two
people had in the Etruscans a common powerful enemy, so might Abner have
here urged the same argument in reference to the Philistines (Livy I:25).—The
hair was often worn long in those days; but it was a custom also to cut the hair
(and sometimes the beard) before going into battle, that the enemy might not
have a hold thereby.—These single combats still occur among the
Arabians.—Tr.]—The place (of combat) was called (by the people in
consequence of this result).—Field of knives (or edges) (‫)יֶׁ ב ֵראכמ ׁשַ ְּמ ֶׁקק‬. The
narrative indicates that this name was connected immediately with what was
peculiar in the occurrence, namely, the mutual synchronous slaughter by the edge
of the sword, so that they fell down together. To this corresponds the meaning of
‫אּוא‬, “knife, edge” (comp. Eng. knife), which is found also in Psalm 89:44, and is
established from the ground-idea of the Arabic stem by Fleischer in Delitzsch’s
Comm. on the Pss. in loco (2vols, 1859–60). Thenius after the Sept. (τῶν
ἐπιβούλων, “the plotters”) renders field of adversaries (drängerfeld, ‫ ;)יֶׁ בֵ ֵאכמ ׁש׳‬but
this does not answer to the characteristic fact that occasioned the name, which
was not the mutual attack, but the mutual slaughter with swords. Thenius’
objection to the rendering: “field of edges”—that it would apply to every place of
combat—holds rather against his own translation. Ewald’s rendering: “field of the
artful” (‫ )אֵ ֵמכמ‬unwarrantably introduces the notion of “artifice” into the affair, and
changes the Heb. text, which is supported by all the versions. Vulg.: ager
robustorum, Aq, Sym.: κλῆρος τῶν στερεῶν, “field of the strong,” a rendering
derived from the signification “rock” (which also belongs to the Heb. word), as if
the rock-like firmness of the combatants (which, however, is not specially
mentioned in the narrative) were here indicated.—[Bishop Patrick follows the Vulg.
in the translation of this name, Syr, Philippson, Bib. Com. (which, however, also
suggests “field of sides,” ‫ )אֵ ֵבכמ‬give it as Erdmann. Chald. has “possession of the
2 Samuel 2:17-25. In consequence of the undecisive result of the single combat, a
general and fierce battle between the two armies, which issues in the defeat and
flight of Abner. To the bitterness of the bloody duel answers the violence of the
general conflict that arose the same day, which is described as “very sore” ( 2
Samuel 2:17). Its result, in allusion to the single combat, which had not proved
decisive, is straightway given: Abner and his army were beaten.—In 2 Samuel
2:18-23 we have a very vivid and interesting description of a special battle-scene
or rather pursuit. In this scene the three nephews of David come forward, Joab,
Abishai (comp. 1 Samuel 26:6 with 2 Samuel 16:9; 2 Samuel 18:2; 2 Samuel
21:17; 2 Samuel 23:18) and Asahel, who are expressly described as sons of
Zeruiah (as Joab in 2 Samuel 2:13) in order to indicate the prominent part taken in
this battle by the family of David. 2 Samuel 2:18. Asahel, distinguished for agility
and swiftness, and therefore compared to a “gazelle in the field” [Eng. A. V.: wild
roe], see Proverbs 6:5.
2 Samuel 2:19. He pursues Abner in order by conquering the General to strike the
decisive blow that must end the battle.—He turned not to the right hand nor to
the left from following Abner, pressed hard and straight on him.
2 Samuel 2:20. Asahel was doubtless already known to Abner, comp. 2 Samuel
2:22. Abner’s speaking supposes that Asahel had almost overtaken him, and
might now infer from his silence that he would surrender himself prisoner.
2 Samuel 2:21. Abner’s address to Asahel is based on the supposition that the
latter is anxious only for the glory of making a prisoner and for booty.—Take his
armor,[FN20] that Isaiah, after having slain him.—[Such was the custom; see
Homer for example.—Tr.]
2 Samuel 2:22. Abner speaks again, since Asahel will not desist from the pursuit.
He gives as reason for his exhortation that he wishes to spare Asahel’s life, and
not, by slaying him, make a deadly enemy of his brother Joab, with whom,
therefore, he must previously have stood in friendly relations (Thenius). “From
regard and former friendship to Joab, he was unwilling to kill the young hero”
(Keil), [who was also “probably but a stripling and no fit antagonist for so great a
warrior” (Bib-Com.).—Tr.]—How should I lift up my face? that Isaiah, present
myself with a good conscience before him. [Bp. Patrick not so well: “because Joab
was a fierce Prayer of Manasseh, and would study revenge.”—Tr.]
2 Samuel 2:23. Asahel, however, did not desist from pressing on Abner, who, not
wishing to kill him, was compelled to defend himself, and Song of Solomon, not
with the front part of the spear, which was designed for war, but with the hinder
part, which was stuck into the ground ( 1 Samuel 26:7), and therefore no doubt
was furnished with a sharp edge (perhaps of metal) smote him in the abdomen
so that it came out behind in his back, and he fell dead on the spot. It hence
appears that Asahel pressed violently on Abner, who was defending himself with
the point of the spear, which must have been very sharp. In proof that there was a
lower metallic point to spears, Böttcher cites Hom. I. vi213; x153; xiii443; Herod.
vii41.—[On the translation “abdomen” instead of “fifth rib,” see “Text. and
Gram.”—Tr.] This place, too, where Asahel fell, received importance among the
people from the general mourning over the young hero. This is pathetically and
vividly described by the single expression: “Every one that came to the place
stood still,” comp. 2 Samuel 20:12.
2 Samuel 2:24. The pursuit continues with all the more violence. The two brothers
Joab and Abishai follow Abner till the evening. At the same time the locality (now
unknown) where the pursuit ended, “the hill Ammah in front of Giah on the road to
the wilderness of Gibeon,” is stated with precision; an evidence of the exactness
of the narrative. The wilderness of Gibeon lay east of Gibeon in the tribe of
2 Samuel 2:25. The “children of Benjamin,” as the nearest tribesmen, who must
have been most interested for the kingdom of Ishbosheth. They gathered
themselves together from the dispersion produced by flight into one body after
Abner on a hill, that Isaiah, to protect Abner, and from this more favorable
position to defend themselves.—[Bib-Com.: Abner’s skill and courage in rallying
his followers to a strong position in spite of so crushing a defeat. On the text of 2
Samuel 2:24-25, see “Text. and Gram.”—Tr.]
2 Samuel 2:26-28. On Abner’s appeal to Joab the conflict is straightway stopped,
and the pursuit on Joab’s part ceases. A truce is concluded. Abner’s first word:
Shall the sword devour forever? expresses decided aversion to this bloody
combat. The second question: Knowest thou not that it will be bitterness at
last? points not to outward destruction, but to the empoisoning and brutalizing
(the necessary result at last of such a war) of the feeling that the members of a
people, and especially God’s covenant-people, ought to cherish towards one
another. Just at this moment the bitterness had reached its highest point, and the
result of the continuation of the war would necessarily have been bitter and sullen
despair on the part of the Benjaminites and an increase of military fury in the army
of Judah. Vulg.: “Dost thou not know how dangerous is desperation?” The third
question is a pressing demand to Joab to suspend hostilities immediately and
agree to a truce. Joab answers Abner with an oath, in which he partly charges him
with the blame of the day’s bloody struggle, partly affirms his own perfect
willingness to cease hostilities without following up his victory. The first ‫= יֵ כ‬
“surely” (imo), the mark of emphatic asseveration in an oath, Ew. § 330 b; comp. 1
Samuel 14:44; 1 Samuel 20:3; Genesis 22:16 sq.; 1 Kings 1:29 sq.; 2 Samuel
2:23 sq, where, as here, it follows real oaths and introduces their contents. [This
first “surely” is not in the Eng. A. V.—Tr.] If thou hadst not said this, surely
then.—The second “surely” (‫)יֵ כ‬, strengthened by “then” (‫ )רֵ ז‬as elsewhere by
“now” (‫)עֶׁ ֵתי‬, Numbers 22:29; Genesis 43:10; 1 Samuel 14:30, takes up the first in
order to bring out more expressly and strongly what would then have happened.
What Abner said is his proposition for the single combat ( 2 Samuel 2:14), which
resulted in this obstinate battle. Yea verily, then had the people gone up—that
Isaiah, returned (Niph. of ‫ עֵ מֵ י‬in reflexive sense “get up,” Ew. § 123 b). There
would then have been no fraternal war. Thenius (after Syr. and Ar.) explains: If
thou hadst not (now) spoken (about a truce), then surely in the morning, (namely
to-morrow) would the people have been led back. But1) The “to-morrow” is not in
the Hebrew, and2) Joab’s answer would then amount to nothing, as it was then
evening, and a return on the next morning was a matter of course. To our
interpretation Thenius objects that Abner’s proposal of a duel was meant for good,
and the two armies had originally marched out with intention to fight; but this
objection is of no force against that interpretation, which follows the original word
for word, for Joab means to say simply: if thou hadst not by that challenge given
the signal for the battle, which, as a matter of fact, continued the whole day, then
early in the morning one side would have retreated before the other, and the
battle would not have occurred. Joab herein assumes that Abner, with the
disposition which he has just expressed, would have avoided the battle if he had
not excited it by his well-meant arrangement of the duel, and in his whole address
and his bearing to Abner it may be seen that he (Joab) would not have made the
attack, and that his march against Abner was simply to protect the territory of
Judah. We must read between the lines: but for thine unfortunate word, which has
had such results, we two should have avoided the battle. Here is to be noted what
is indicated in 2 Samuel 2:12 as to the personal relation of Abner to Joab, and
how afterwards (chap3) Abner passed from “the House of Saul” to David’s side.
[Vulg, Lightfoot, Patrick, Philippson agree with Erdmann in the interpretation of
this clause—Bib. Comm. with Thenius. A common explanation is: even if thou
hadst not spoken (for a truce), the pursuit would have ceased to-morrow morning.
This answer would not (as Erdmann declares) be meaningless, for it was by no
means otherwise certain that the battle would not have been continued the next
day. Moreover the phrase “from the morning” might be understood of the following
morning. Two facts seem to favor this latter interpretation: 1) the phrase “from
after their brethren,” repeated by Joab after Abner, would naturally have the same
meaning in both cases, “desist from pursuit;” 2) the form in which Joab couches
his answer, that Isaiah, an oath, better refers to something which lay in his power,
not the non-occurrence of a battle that day, but the cessation of the battle going
on. Joab would then say (agreeably to the context): I did not design to continue
the battle, but, if you had said nothing, my purpose was to withdraw my troops in
the morning—the context showing (as in Exodus 29:34) that the following morning
was meant.—Tr.] 2 Samuel 2:28. Joab straightway causes the trumpet to sound
the signal “Halt! Arms at rest!” The army halts, the pursuit is discontinued, the
battle is ended.
2 Samuel 2:29-32. The withdrawal of both armies from the scene of battle, and
the loss on both sides.
2 Samuel 2:29. Abner and his men marched through the Arabah[FN21] (that Isaiah,
the valley or plain of the Jordan) from the south northward, having marched from
the battle-field first directly eastward towards Jericho. The distance from the
entrance into the Jordan-plain (to reach which point, however ( 2 Samuel 2:3-4),
cost them some hours) up to the point where they crossed the Jordan to go to
Mahanaim, was so great that it took them at least the whole night to pass through
the Arabah. They marched “the whole night,” not from fear of pursuit (for the
pursuit was discontinued and a truce concluded), but probably to avoid the heat of
the day. After crossing the Jordan they traversed “all the Bithron.” The word “all”
forbids us to understand here a city—it is therefore not Bethoron (Aq, Vulg.), apart
from the fact that this lay in the opposite direction north-west of Gibeon—but it
must mean a district beyond the Jordan, probably a mountain-gorge or a plain on
the Jabbok between the Jordan and Mahanaim, which lay on the Jabbok. These
specific geographical statements also about Abner’s return-march show the
historical exactness and value of the narrative.
2 Samuel 2:30. At the same time Joab began his return-march “from after Abner
(who was withdrawing),” as it is vividly described. Not till the whole force was
assembled for the return was a muster held in order to learn the loss. Only
nineteen men and Asahel were missing from David’s army. [Among these
nineteen some reckon the twelve that fell in the single combat.—Tr.]
2 Samuel 2:31. The Benjaminite loss, on the other hand, was much greater, “360
men dead,” as might easily be determined by counting the slain. Joab had in his
army only veteran “servants of David,” tried by many severe battles and privations,
while Abner led into the battle the remains of the army that was beaten by the
Philistines at Gilboa, who moreover in previous battles with that people “might
have been still more weakened and discouraged” (Keil). The disproportion in the
losses “may, however, have been due also in part to the character of the ground,”
comp. 2 Samuel 2:25 (Then.). [On the apparently corrupt text of this verse see
“Text. and Gramm.”—Tr.]
2 Samuel 2:31. Asahel is buried on the march back in the burial-place of his father
at Bethlehem, which lay only a little to the left of the direct road to Hebron. “They
went the whole night thence,” and came at break of day to Hebron. Gibeon is
distant from Hebron about26 miles; they might therefore have gone from Gibeon
to Hebron in one night, even if they stopped on the way to bury Asahel, which
need not have taken much time (against Then.). [However, the text says only that
they went all night from Bethlehem to Hebron, fifteen miles. They had previously
marched from near Gibeon to Bethlehem, after having attended to the duties
incident to the close of a battle.—Tr.]
2 Samuel 3:1-6. Further general and summary account of the long duration of the
conflict between the houses of David and Saul and their different fortunes.
2 Samuel 3:1. And the war was protracted between the house of Saul and the
house of David.—The former stands first because the attack came from it. From
the account of the particular incident at Gibeon, where the contest assumed the
form of open war, which was suddenly ended by the two generals, the narrator
turns to the summary description of the condition in which the two houses from
now on found themselves in respect to the contest, notwithstanding the
discontinuance of external war. While this long-continued struggle lasted, outward
hostilities were not renewed [at least there were no pitched battles—Tr.],
Ishbosheth lacking courage and energy therefor, Abner, as his bearing (chap2)
towards Joab showed, having no special interest in continuing the bloody strife,
and David, as before, so now holding back from attack, since, though he had
power and courage to maintain his claims, he yet hoped to gain his promised
royal authority over Israel, not by his own military power, but only by the
interposition of the Lord. Further is related the fortune of the two houses during
the long contest.[FN22] David grew stronger and stronger.[FN23]—David’s
advance in strength means, however, not the increase of his family (Keil), but of
his adherents, of the number of those that recognized him as king over all Israel,
and came forward as supporters of his authority over the whole country, as is fully
and clearly narrated in 1 Chronicles 12:23 sq. On the other hand the house of
Saul grew weaker and weaker in consideration and power. The reason of this
was Ishbosheth’s incapacity for royal rule and Abner’s afterwards related
defection from the house of Saul. During the time of struggle he was the only
person that sought still to maintain this house ( 2 Samuel 3:6), and it rapidly sank
and disappeared when he went over to David. 2 Samuel 3:1 and 2 Samuel 3:6 are
therefore connected; 2 Samuel 3:1, according to this view, not only continues the
preceding chapter (Then.), but at the same time begins a new section ( 2 Samuel
3:1-6) which forms a transition to the narrative from 2 Samuel 3:7 on, in which is
related how David’s elevation to the throne of all Israel was prepared by the
sinking and disappearance of the house of Saul under his last son.—The
statement ( 2 Samuel 3:2-5) concerning David’s family during his residence in
Hebron, and the sons there born to him certainly interrupts the progress of the
narrative (Then.); for it is not to be connected with 2 Samuel 3:1 as being a factual
proof of the strengthening of David’s house (Keil). But it is quite in place here,
since it is in keeping with the habit [of the biblical writers] of inserting at the
beginning or at a turning-point of the history of the reign of each king, information
about his house and family. Comp. 1 Samuel 14:49-51; 2 Samuel 5:13 sq.; 1
Kings 3:1; 1 Kings 14:21; 1 Kings 15:2; 1 Kings 15:9. The same list of the sons
born in Hebron, with the names of their mothers, is found in 1 Chronicles 3:1-3.
The two first are the sons of the two wives Ahinoam and Abigail ( 1 Samuel 25:42
sq.), whom he brought with him to Hebron. On Amnon see chap13. The Prep. “to”
(so the Heb. ‫)מ‬
ְּ in these cases, where a corresponding noun is to be supplied,
expresses immediate belonging [property], as “a song of (‫)מ‬
ְּ David;” so here “son
to (or of, Germ. von) Ahinoam,” comp. Ewald, § 292 a.
2 Samuel 3:3. The second son is called Chileab, in Chron. Daniel; he had perhaps
two names (Keil). [The name Chileab is suspected by Wellhausen to be a
collateral form of Caleb (see the two in the Heb.), while Bib. Comm. thinks it a
copyist’s erroneous transcription of the first letters of the following word. The
Midrash derives it from ‫“ = רו למי‬exactly his father,” the name indicating his
likeness to David against those who said that he was the son of Nabal. Similarly
the name Daniel, “God has judged me,” is said to refer to God’s judgment on
Nabal. These are all conjectures, and the relation of the two names is involved in
obscurity.—Tr.] The third, Absalom (called in 1 Kings 15:2 Abishalom), son of
Maachah, daughter of king Talmai of Geshur. This was a small independent
kingdom in Syria. See 2 Samuel 15:8, comp. 2 Samuel 2:9. Perhaps this marriage
of David with a foreign un-Israelitish princess had a political ground. Comp. 1
Kings 3:1, Solomon’s marriage with a daughter of Pharaoh. The origin of the three
wives, Haggith, Abital, and Eglah, whose sons were Adonijah, Shephatiah, and
Ithream, is not given. The last is strangely described in an especial way as
“David’s wife.” Bertheau (on 1 Chronicles 3:3) holds that the unknown and
un-described Eglah is so called for the sake of a fuller conclusion; but Thenius
justly remarks against this reason that Haggith and Abital also are otherwise
wholly unknown. Thenius’ suggestion that Michal originally stood in the text is
opposed by the fact that with the exception of the Cod. Vat, which has Aigal, the
correctness of the text-reading is supported by all the witnesses. Probably this in
itself superfluous addition is made in order to give a fuller conclusion by this
epithet which suits each of the six women (Berth, Keil). [On this reading see “Text.
and Gramm.—Tr.]
2 Samuel 3:6 resumes 2 Samuel 3:1 in relation to the continuance of the conflict
between the two houses, and the statement: Abner showed himself strong (=a
strong support) for the house of Saul, concludes the period during which the
house of Saul was able through Abner to maintain itself against the house of
David. In contrast therewith follows now the narrative of the events which, in
consequence of Abner’s ceasing to work for it, through Ishbosheth’s unwise
conduct, farther and farther depressed the house of Saul; comp. 2 Samuel 3:1 b.
So 2 Samuel 3:1-6 form the bridge to the following history (from 2 Samuel 3:7 on).
1. David’s personality, bearing and doing after Saul’s death, and the consequent
turn of his life towards the fulfilment of his call to the theocratic kingdom, show in
all points, as here detailed in the prophetic narrative, absolutely free, trustful and
humble dependence on the will of God, as it has up to this time shown itself as the
foundation of David’s life-development, and a determination of conduct solely by
the carefully sought, distinctly apprehended and clearly recognized divine
decision, as it had before been obtained by him at many important and difficult
moments ( 1 Samuel 19:19; 1 Samuel 22:5; 1 Samuel 23:2; 1 Samuel 23:4; 1
Samuel 23:10; 1 Samuel 23:16; 1 Samuel 30:8). That this was accomplished here
also through the Urim and Thummim is not doubtful; for the high-priest with the
ephod was with him, while nothing is said of a prophet in his retinue, apart from
the fact that the expression “he inquired of the Lord” cannot be applied to a
prophet; it cannot, therefore, be supposed that David received a declaration from
a prophet.
2. David’s pathway from Ziklag to Hebron, till he gained the crown of Judah, and
thence passed to that of Israel, is the way of the Lord. For1) he asks concerning
the will of the Lord, which way he shall go ( 2 Samuel 2:1), humbly subjecting his
will to that of the Lord, in his heart relying firmly on the Lord’s decision, which
could be only for his good, and seeking by repetition of his question to obtain a
clear and secure knowledge of the way he is to go2) He goes the way appointed
him by the Lord ( 2 Samuel 2:2-3) in unconditional obedience towards His
command, in the faithful discharge of his duties towards all about him, who had
hitherto shared all sufferings with him, and in joyous reliance on the further help of
the Lord3) He finds in this way appointed by the Lord after the cross the crown,
and mounts up from lowliness to glory ( 2 Samuel 2:4). 4) He pauses on this way,
which has led him to royal honor, in order quietly to wait in patience till the Lord
direct him to go forward to the final goal, the kingdom over all Israel, and in order
to unfold the noble royal virtues in which he proves himself the Anointed of the
Lord ( 2 Samuel 2:5-7). 5) He advances on the same way according to the Lord’s
direction to ward off the attack of the adversary ( 2 Samuel 2:8-13), to bloody war,
into which he is drawn against his will ( 2 Samuel 2:14-23), to splendid victory
over his opponents ( 2 Samuel 2:25-32), and to the attainment of increasing
power and glory in respect to the sinking house of Saul.
3. Grace (‫ )ׁשַ םַ מ‬and Truth (‫ )רֶ ַדק‬are the fundamental attributes of God, which set
forth His relation to the people of Israel as the covenant-people; grace is the
special exhibition of His love, by which Hebrews 1) chooses the people, 2)
establishes the covenant with them, and3) in this covenant-relation imparts favor
and salvation; truth is God’s love unchangeable and continuing over against the
people’s sin, love that1) does not suffer the choice of free grace to fall, 2)
maintains the covenant, and3) fulfils uncurtailed the promises that correspond to
the covenant-relation. Comp. Exodus 34:6; Psalm 25:10.
4. Every human work well-pleasing to God, wrought out of genuine love and truth,
is a reflection of God’s love and truth, of which the heart has had experience, an
offering brought to the Lord, the impulsion to which has come from this inwardly
experienced love and truth, an object of God’s love and truth which repays with
blessing and salvation, and of men’s honoring recognition in respect to its ethical
5. Invocation of the Lord’s blessing ( 2 Samuel 2:5) presupposes the presence of
the conditions under which alone this blessing can subsist.
2 Samuel 2:1 sq. Faith’s inquiry of the Lord. 1) Whereon it is founded; a) Upon an
entire looking away from human prudence and wisdom; b) Upon unconditional
trust in the divine love and faithfulness, and c) Upon previous experiences of His
gracious help2) What sort of answer it finds; a) A certain decision, which puts an
end to all doubt; b) A definite direction which way to go; c) A safe security that this
way leads to the goal.
2 Samuel 2:1-4 a. From Ziklag to Hebron—the way of humility from the depths to
the heights. 1) After humble subjection to sore trials, which the Lord had imposed,
(“after this,” 2 Samuel 2:1). 2) After humble inquiry of the Lord’s will as to the way
he must further go3) In humble submission to be directed and guided by the Lord
in the way appointed for him4) In humble and patient expectation of the fulfilment
of His promises.
The way of faith through cross to crown. 1) How it is surely found ( 2 Samuel 2:11),
a) inquired for of the Lord; b) pointed out by the Lord2) How it is confidently
pursued, a) under the guidance of the Lord’s hand; b) in communion with those
united in the Lord ( 2 Samuel 2:2-3). 3) How it is joyfully completed, a) at the goal
set up by the Lord; b) under the direction of faithful human love, the instrument of
the Lord’s love ( 2 Samuel 2:4).
2 Samuel 2:4-7. Faithful love to our neighbor in time of need. 1) How it is in a
noble and unselfish manner shown and attested amid the misfortune of our
neighbor ( 2 Samuel 2:4 b). 2) How it is blessed by God in the manifestation of His
grace and the attestation of His faithfulness ( 2 Samuel 2:5-6). 3) How it is
honored by men through thankful recognition and righteous requital ( 2 Samuel
2:6). 4) How it is exalted in itself to a stout heart and to great joy ( 2 Samuel 2:7).
[ 2 Samuel 2:6. “And now the Lord do kindness (grace) and truth unto you.” See
points for the homiletical discussion of this text in “Hist. and Theol.” No3.
2 Samuel 2:1-13. See outline of a sermon in “Hist. and Theol.” No2.—Tr.]
2 Samuel 2:8-32. God’s judgment in war: I. How the divine decision falls: 1)
Against him who has begun the war unrighteously, a) to fight out a pretended right;
b) to extend an assumed power and dominion; c) in conscious resistance to God’s
right and command2) For him who has been innocently drawn into it, a) to repel
injustice; b) to defend His righteous cause; c) to uphold God’s command and
righteousness. II. How men should submit to this divine decision: 1) The
conquered have to bow in humility under God’s hand, and to abandon the war, a)
in order to avoid further bloodshed; b) to ward off further mischief; c) to preserve
the people from spiritually and morally running wild2) The conquerors must, a) in
the course of victory and honor stop immediately with self-denial when the Lord
commands it; b) give the conquered the hand of peace when they ask a cessation
of hostilities on the ground of the divine decision which has been reached, and c)
testify to the readiness for peace which they have felt, and against the
unrighteousness which has constrained them to the conflict.
2 Samuel 3:1-6. By justice divine are decided All conflicts that men have divided.
1) What comes from God, alone can last; 2) What stands against God, soon is
2 Samuel 2:1. Cramer: When the righteous are oppressed and have stood the test,
God leads them by a right way that they may go to a city of habitation, Psalm
107:7; so let us wait patiently for the right time, Hebrews 2:3; Psalm 55:22.
Osiander: A Christian should never undertake anything without good forethought
and effort to learn God’s will from His word, and should often seek to strengthen
his faith therefrom, Psalm 119:105.—Berl. B.: David rests not in all the
illuminations and promises he has before received, but only in the will of God, and
looks to the divine nod and glance, the truest and only guide for tranquilly trusting
souls. Thereby the soul remains free in all things from selfishness and vain joy.
[Henry: He doubted not of success, yet he uses proper means, both divine and
human. Assurance of hope in God’s promise will be so far from slackening, that it
will quicken pious endeavors.—Tr.].
2 Samuel 2:3. Cramer: Faithful friends, proven in time of need, are a great
treasure. Starke: When God gives us prosperity, we should cause this also to be
shared by those who have shared with us in distress. [Hall: Thus doth our
heavenly leader, whom David prefigured, take us to reign with Him who have
suffered with Him.—Tr.].
2 Samuel 2:4. Osiander: The hearts of subjects are in God’s hand, and God can
incline them so that they must love their rulers. What God has promised is sure to
come at last. After enduring sufferings thou shalt receive the crown of life, 2
Timothy 4:8.—S. Schmid: Praiseworthy deeds always get their praise and their
reward even among men, although they are not performed to that end, but from
love to righteousness.
2 Samuel 2:6. Cramer: By gentleness and friendliness rulers may easily win the
hearts of their subjects, and also quiet much contention, Judges 8:2.
2 Samuel 2:7. J. Lange: Kings derive their kingly majesty immediately from God,
but also mediately from their subjects.—F. W. Krummacher: People gained here
the conviction that this Prayer of Manasseh, unmoved by the lower affections of
revenge and malice, knew how to forgive and to forget, and that all the wrong and
injustice he had experienced had not been able to darken for him in his
predecessor the dignity and sacred-ness of an Anointed of the Lord. Besides, this
conduct of David’s made on the people the decided impression that they might
expect of him a humane rule, since he would reckon even the most trifling and
insignificant praiseworthy thing that might happen anywhere in the land to be
worthy of grateful recognition and consideration.
[So Luther. Similarly Conant: Has not man a term of warfare on the
earth?—Tr.].—S. Schmid: Carnal prudence and pride is never willing to submit
itself to God’s will, but will always oppose itself, Exodus 5:2. = 2 Samuel 2:10.
Schlier: He wore the crown that had been promised him, but the cross also did not
yet cease for him. Still he must persevere and wait till the whole kingdom fell to
him, still he must now also bear patiently whatever new burden was allotted to
him.—Berl B.: When he came into possesssion of his kingdom, even yet he
remained quiet awhile, without considering how he might increase it, because he
cast all this care upon Divine Providence. He thus shames the behaviour of those
spiritual men, who when they recognize that God wishes to do something through
them, are constantly making attempts and all sorts of beginnings to see whether
they may perhaps achieve the work, and are never willing in patience and
self-forgetfulness to wait on God, until God Himself performs His will. The hour
must come itself, and so it must simply be waited for.
2 Samuel 2:12. Starke: A Christian must not let his courage sink because when
he has gained a victory in a good cause, unexpectedly new obstacles and
hindrances are found.—Schlier: When a king takes the sword in an ambitious
spirit, and wishes only to subjugate other peoples in order to extend his dominion,
that is an unrighteous war, and woe to all the princes who in base ambition set at
stake the blood of their people!—A bad prince, who wilfully conjures up war upon
his land. But also shame upon the prince who would not help his people when
wrong is done them. A righteous war is a royal duty, from which no prince can
venture to withdraw, even if it were fraternal war! It may have come hard enough
to David to take up arms against his brothers, and yet he could not do otherwise.
God the Lord had Himself given the arms into his hand.
2 Samuel 2:13-32. Cramer: Bloodthirsty warriors count men’s blood as water, and
have their pastime in it, but to God that is an abomination. Schlier: In such times
there is only one consolation, namely, that the Lord sits as ruler, and that we
should accept the war, if there is one, from the hand of the supreme Lord of war,
that we should not regard what princes and kings of the earth do and design, but
see in war the chastening rod of divine wrath, which visits the sins of the peoples
even through the horrors of war.
2 Samuel 2:18-19. Cramer: Let no one rely on the powers of his body, for the race
is not to the swift, Ecclesiastes 9:11
2 Samuel 2:23. Lange: Bravery is certainly very far different from foolhardy
temerity. [Hall: Many a one miscarries in the rash prosecution of a good quarrel,
when the abettors of the worst part go away with victory. Heat of zeal, sometimes
in the indiscreet pursuit of a just adversary, proves mortal to the agent, prejudicial
to the service. Henry: See here (1) How often death comes upon us by ways that
we least suspect. Who would fear the hand of a flying enemy, or the butt end of a
spear? (2) How we are often betrayed by the accomplishments we are proud of.
Asahel’s swiftness, which he presumed so much upon, did him no kindness, but
forwarded his fate.—Tr.]
2 Samuel 2:24 sq. Schlier: The bloodshed was at an end, the horrors of fraternal
war were over, the victory had been won by David, who had begun the war in the
name of the Lord, and now from the Lord had also received the victory. For of this
we should be certain: victory comes from the Lord. As surely as the Lord our God
is no dead but a living God—as surely as He sits in government and orders
everything as the Almighty God, so surely must it also be true that victory comes
from the Lord, Psalm 20:8
2 Samuel 2:24-26. Cramer: A wretched wisdom when one grows prudent only
with losses. Therefore in the beginning think of the end. [Henry: See here (1) How
easy it is for men to use reason when it makes for them, who would not use it if it
made against them ! (2) How the issue of things alters men’s minds! The same
things which looked pleasant in the morning, at night looked dismal.—Tr.].
2 Samuel 2:27. It is an honor to a man to stay out of contention; but they who love
it are altogether fools, Proverbs 20:3.
2 Samuel 2:28. Starke: Even he who has been injured by another should show
himself ready to be reconciled to the other if he desires forgiveness, Matthew 5:5
2 Samuel 2:30-31. Cramer: Prosperity should be used reverently and with
moderation, lest we fly too high.—God punishes in war the sins of both parties.—
2 Samuel 3:1 sq. Roos: What is not devised, done, collected and set up in God’s
name, has no permanence. God in His holy wrath is the fire that consumes such a
thing, however specious it seems; on the contrary, what He wills and approves, is
through His good pleasure obtained, advanced and made strong.
[ 2 Samuel 2:11. David at Hebron: 1) His choosing the place by divine direction ( 2
Samuel 2:1). And we can see that it was a fit place. The city of Abraham, Caleb
and the Levites—a city of refuge—the principal town in David’s tribe, and
somewhat remote from Saul’s tribe—and David had taken pains to conciliate its
inhabitants ( 1 Samuel 30:31). Divine directions are seen to coincide with true
human Wisdom of Solomon, wherever we sufficiently understand the facts2) His
“apprenticeship to monarchy.” Through several previous years he had been in a
course of providential preparation for reigning; and now he begins to reign on a
small scale. He has occasion to learn a) from the apparent failure of wild schemes
( 2 Samuel 2:5 sqq.), b) from open hostility, long continued ( 2 Samuel 2:12 sqq.;
2 Samuel 3:1), c) from the base cruelty of his trusted commander ( 2 Samuel
3:27). Amid all these he grew in popularity and strength ( 2 Samuel 3:1; 2 Samuel
3:36). The lessons e learned were especially, to be prudent ( 2 Samuel 2:5 sqq.; 2
Samuel 3:28), and to be patient ( 2 Samuel 2:11; 2 Samuel 3:1). 3) His founding a
family, ( 2 Samuel 3:2-5). a) To have sons born to him is the joy of any Prayer of
Manasseh, especially of a monarch, b) But here polygamy was already paving the
way to sore family dissension. c) And three of these sons born at Hebron, Amnon,
Absalom, Adonijah, were destined to bring wretchedness and shame on their
father and his house, and ruin on themselves. O the mingled hopes and fears with
which a father must look on his little children!—Tr.]
[A Sunday school address. 2 Samuel 2:18-23. The rash young prince. 1) He had a
shining gift, 2 Samuel 2:18. (In ancient warfare, more were often slain in the
pursuit than the battle; and so swiftness of foot was important to a warrior). 2) He
was ambitious—pursuing the distinguished general of the enemy3) He had
decision and perseverance—turning not to the right or left, and yielding to
persuasion4) He fancied himself superior to an old man—a common and natural,
but grave fault in the young. (The old man at length killed him with ease, in mere
self-defense). 5) He was slain as the penalty of self-confidence and
rashness—besetting sins of many gifted youth.—Tr.]
FN#22 - ‫ יֵ מֶׁ ה‬with Vb. or Adj. ( 1 Samuel 2:26) indicating progressive increase.
Ges. § 131, 3, Rem3.
FN#23 - ‫ ׁשֵ זֹוק‬is not=‫“ ׁשֵ זֵק‬strong” (Böttcher on Exodus 19:19), but Partcp. or Verbal
Adj.=“strengthening” (neuter), as ‫ ( ל ֹוֵממ‬1 Samuel 2:26).
FN#24 - This rhyming in propositions and division is a somewhat common
practice in Germany.—Tr.]
FN#1 - 2 Samuel 2:2. On the fem. form (‫ )לאדמכק‬here given in some MSS. see
notes on 1 Samuel 27:3; 1 Samuel 30:5.—Tr.]
FN#2 - 2 Samuel 2:3. Sept. reads “the men,” which better accords with Greek and
Eng. idiom (Erdmann so has it in the Exposition), but hardly calls for a change in
the Heb. text. Further on Sept. omits the verb “did bring up,” thus attaching the
noun “men” to the verb of the preceding verse. The Syr. also has difficulty with this
sentence, making the Hiphil into Qal, and inserting “and David” at the beginning of
the verse, so as to read: “and David and his-men were with him; and David went
up and the men of his house, and they abode in Hebron.” These readings seem to
substantiate the Heb. text, only they had ‫ בְּעֵ מֵ י‬instead of ‫יַ עֶמֵ י‬, which the Sept.
then omitted as superfluous. The Heb. Hiphil is preferable because it introduces a
new statement, while the Syr. merely repeats.—Tr.
FN#3 - 2 Samuel 2:4. So Erdmann, Philippson, Maurer; but Wellhausen declares
it to be an impossible construction in prose. If not impossible, it is unusual and
hard, and the simple rendering of the Syr. and Vulg.: “the men of Jabesh-Gilead
buried Saul,” commends itself, except that, as this is probably the answer to a
question: “who buried Saul?” we should expect the subject “the men of
Jabesh-Gilead” to be put as the principal and essential part of the answer. The
true form of the sentence is not apparent.—Tr.]
FN#4 - 2 Samuel 2:6. The Fut. rendering is found in Sept, Sym, Vulg, and the idea
“requite” in the two last; but the context (with the present text) points to the Pres,
and it is better to render the Heb. verb (‫ )עיי‬uniformly. Against Thenius
Wellhausen insists that the ‫ֶיי‬
ַ ‫ רַ ע‬cannot be rendered as Pres. (this would require
‫)עיכקכ‬, and, since the Fut. does not accord with the ‫יֶׁ הרק‬, he would for the latter
substitute ‫תׁשֶׁ ק‬,
ֶׁ and render: “I will do you good because (= in place that) ye have
done,” etc. (so the Vulg.), which certainly gives a more appropriate sense, though
the rendering of Thenius (and Erdmann) is not impossible.—Tr.]
FN#5 - 2 Samuel 2:9. The literal rendering of the Prep. (‫ )רֹו מ‬is here (with Erdmann)
in these three cases retained, in contrast with the following ‫עֶׁ מ‬, “over,” because an
error of text does not here seem probable, in spite of the fact that ancient and
modern translators (without exception, as far as I know) neglect the difference.
Erdmann attempts in the Exposition to point out the difference of meaning
between the two Prepositions in the connection.—Instead of “Ashurites” many
read “Geshurites.”—The last word of the verse ‫ יריי‬presents an example of a 3
pers. masc. suffix ( ‫ )יּו‬usually considered to be archaic for ֵ; the fem. pointing (‫)יריֵ כ‬
would be possible, if “Israel” were considered in its national unity, or as a
FN#6 - 2 Samuel 2:10. ‫“ רֶׁ ה‬only, however,” but the rendering “only” would here be
FN#7 - 2 Samuel 2:10. 2 Samuel 2:10-11 are variously handled. Erdmann inclines
to follow Thenius in regarding10 b and 11 as parenthesis, Wellhausen regards10
a and 11 as interpolations, connecting10 b with ver 12 The difficulties in the
figures do not prove ungenuineness of the text, since these may be corrupted by
copyists, and the summary chronological statements are natural and in
accordance with the manner of our Book. The better view is that the Redactor has
inserted as summary statement in his narrative either 2 Samuel 2:10-11, or10 a,
11. The objection to Thenius’ view (which connects10 a with12) is that10 a is
clearly the ordinary formula for the length of a king’s reign and his age at his
accession, and therefore an independent sentence. See the remarks on 1 Samuel
FN#8 - 2 Samuel 2:13. The use of the Acc. suffix and also the adv. ‫ כ ְֶּׁׁש ֵבב‬is
remarkable, since either (as expressing the idea of concurrence) would seem to
exclude the other. We should expect either simply: “they met them at the pool,” or
“they met at the pool together.” The present text may have arisen from the
combination of the two constructions.—Tr.]
FN#9 - 2 Samuel 2:15. The ‫ ב‬is either appositional, = “namely,” or it indicates that
Ishbosheth had other soldiers besides Benjaminites.—Tr.]
FN#10 - Ver16. Some insert (after Sept.) the word “hand” (ֵ‫ )כֵמ‬after the first verb
and read: “they laid every man his hand on the head of his fellow, and his sword
into his fellow's side,” on which see Erdmann. Böttcher adopts this reading, only
he puts the Aramaic form (which he supposes to be popular) ‫ רכמ‬instead of the
Heb. ‫כא‬, in order to account for its falling out after ‫רכי‬.
ֵ This supposition of an
Aramaic reading is somewhat forced, and the Heb. is intelligible without the
insertion of the word “hand,” which is found in no other ancient version.—Tr.]
FN#11 - 2 Samuel 2:16. This word of doubtful meaning is properly left
untranslated in Eng. A. V. The various proposed renderings are discussed by
FN#12 - 2 Samuel 2:23. ‫ׁשדי‬.
Not one of the ancient VSS. renders this word “fifth
rib,” Sept. “loins” (ψόα), Syr. “breast,” Chald. “side of the loins.” Vulg “inguen;”
among moderns only Cahen maintains it, after Rashi and the Talmud (Sanhedrin
49, a). Gesenius and Fürst connect the word with a root (found in Arabic),
meaning “to be fat or strong.”—Tr.]
FN#13 - 2 Samuel 2:24. To the reading of the verse Wellhausen objects: 1) that a
way is stated to be the goal of the pursuit; 2) that the pursuit, starting from Gibeon
( 2 Samuel 2:16), nevertheless ends on the way to Gibeon: 3) that the name Giah
is unknown and suspicious. He therefore substitutes ‫םֹוכ‬, “ravine,” for ‫םכׁש‬, supposing
that the scribe designed to locate the hill Ammah appropriately by a valley; but as
the combination “valley of the way” thus obtained gives no sense, he finally throws
out the ‫ םַכ‬and reads: “opposite the way of the wilderness” (remarking very justly
that roads in Palestine, being unchangeable, answered as well as rivers for
topographical definition). Here this generally acute critic has made difficulties for
himself. For1) the pursuit ends not on a road, but at a hill on a certain road; 2) the
pursuit is not said not to have reached Gibeon, but to have reached a point on the
road to the wilderness of Gibeon, which may have been of considerable extent; 3)
as to Giah, many otherwise unknown names occur once in the Old Testament. It
is not necessary to suppose that the hill of 2 Samuel 2:25 is identical with Ammah
in 2 Samuel 2:24, or to change the ‫ רַ ׁשֵ ק‬into ‫ רֶׁ מֵ י‬or something else.—Tr.]
FN#14 - 2 Samuel 2:27. Literally: “at that time from the morning.” The second ‫יֵ כ‬,
rendered in Eng. A. V. “surely,” is better taken as repetition of the first, the Conj.
introducing the clause, = that, and usually omitted in English.—Tr.]
FN#15 - 2 Samuel 2:31. The text here is corrupt; but it is not easy to restore it.
The Chald. follows the Heb. word by word; the Vulg. inserts the Rel. Pron.: “three
hundred and sixty who also died;” the Syr. omits the verb “died” in 2 Samuel 2:31,
and inserts it (Sing.) at the end of 2 Samuel 2:30. Literally the Heb. reads: “smote
of Benjamin, etc., three hundred and sixty men, they died.” Not only is the syntax
impossible, but also the addition of the statement that the smitten men died is
unusual, being involved in the word “smite” (according to the Heb. usage). The
simplest course would be to omit the word “died,” and read “smote.… three
hundred and sixty men.” Perhaps a marginal explanation has here gotten into the
text (Wellh.).—Tr.]
FN#16 - 2 Samuel 2:32. Some MSS. insert ‫ ְּו‬before ‫מׁשמ וכק‬.—Tr.]
FN#17 - 3:2. Kethib is Pual, Qeri Niphal. For an example of the latter see 2
Samuel 14:27. The text form may be Perf. Pual, ‫ ; ַבכ ְּרימּו‬but some prefer to regard it
as Impf, ‫ ֶׁבש ְּרימּו‬for ‫ ֶׁב ְּככ ְּרימּו‬as the Pual Partcp. occurs without the preformative ‫ד‬.—Tr.]
FN#18 - On Hebron (twenty miles south of Jerusalem) see the books of travel and
Bible-dictionaries. Stanley has given in his “History of the Jewish Church,” Vol. I,
App. II, an interesting account of the visit of the Prince of Wales thither in1862. Bib.
Com. calls attention to the unusual phrase “cities of Hebron,” as if Hebron were
the name of a district, the common designation of dependent towns being
“villages” or “daughters” ( Joshua 15:36; Numbers 21:25). No doubt the name of
the city Hebron attached itself to the surrounding district.—Tr.]
FN#19 - Sept. has ‫ =( רֶׁ ַיא‬quod) after ‫מֹו רד ּוא‬, and the latter is omitted by Vulg.;
Thenius hence supposes that ‫ מֹו רד ּומ‬got into the text by mistake (through careless
looking) for ‫רֶׁ ַיא‬, and that the latter, being added by way of supplement in the
margin, thence got into the wrong place in the text. [See “Text, and Gram.”—Tr.]
FN#20 - ֵ‫ׁשֶׁ ֵמאֵ ק‬, not exuviæ, “spoil” [so margin of Eng. A. V. and Bib-Com.—Tr.],
from ‫ׁשֵ מֶׁ ע‬, “to strip off,” since then the suffix would be meaningless, but Armor from
‫ׁשֵ מֶׁ ח‬, “to gird” (from ‫ׁשֵ מֵ ח‬, “loins”), Niph.: “to arm one's self for battle,” Numbers
32:21; Numbers 32:27; Numbers 32:29 sq.; Joshua 6:7 sq.; Isaiah 15:4; comp.
with Jeremiah 48:41.—Sept.: πανοπλἰα αὐτοῦ.
FN#21 - On the Arabah (which is in general the deep gorge of the Jordan,
extending from the sea of Kinnereth (Gennesaret) to the Gulf of Akabah), see
Smith’s Bible Dict. s.v. and Stanley’s Sinai and Palestine, 481.—Tr.]
03 Chapter 3
Verses 7-39
III. Abner’s quarrel with Ishbosheth, defection from the House of Saul and
transition to David
2 Samuel 3:7-21
7And Saul had a concubine whose name was Rizpah, the daughter of Aiah, and
Ishbosheth[FN4] said to Abner, Wherefore hast thou gone in unto my father’s
concubine?[FN5] 8Then was Abner [And Abner was] very wroth for the words of
Ishbosheth, and said, Am I a dog’s head which against Judah [FN6] [a dog’s head
on Judah’s side?] [ins. I] do show kindness this day [to-day] unto the house of
Saul thy father, to his brethren and to his friends, and have not delivered thee into
the hand of David, that9[and] thou chargest me to-day with a fault concerning this
[the] woman? [!] So do God to Abner and more also except, as the Lord [Jehovah]
hath sworn to David, even so I do to him, 10To translate the kingdom from the
house of Saul, and to set up the throne of David over Israel and over Judah, from
Dan even to Beersheba 11 And he could not answer Abner a word again,
because he feared him.
12And Abner sent messengers to David on his behalf [or in his stead[FN7]], saying,
Whose is the land?[FN8] saying also [om. also], Make thy league [covenant] with
me, and behold, my hand shall be with thee to bring about [to turn] all Israel unto
13 thee. And Hebrews 9 said, Well; I will make a league [covenant] with thee; but
one thing I require of thee, that Isaiah, Thou shalt not see my face except[FN10]
thou first7 [om. first] bring Michal, Saul’s daughter, when thou comest to see my
face 14 And David sent messengers to Ishbosheth, Saul’s Song of Solomon,
saying, Deliver [Give] me[FN11] my wife Michal, which [whom] I espoused to me for
an hundred foreskins of the Philistines 15 And Ishbosheth sent and took her from
her husband, even from Phaltiel the son of Laish.[FN12] 16And her husband went
with her along weeping behind her to Bahurim. Then said Abner [And Abner said]
unto him, Go, return. And he returned.
17And Abner had communication with the elders of Israel, saying, Ye sought for
18 David in times past[FN13] to be king over you; Now, then, do it; for the Lord
[Jehovah] hath spoken of[FN14] David, saying, By the hand of my servant David I
will[FN15] save my people Israel out of the hand of the Philistines and out of the
hand of all their enemies 19 And Abner also [FN16] spake in the ears of Benjamin;
and Abner went also 13 to speak in the ears of David in Hebron all that seemed
good to Israel and that seemed good [om. that seemed good] to the whole house
of Benjamin. So [And] 20Abner came to[FN17] David to Hebron and twenty men
with him. And David made Abner and the men that were with him a feast 21 And
Abner said unto David, I will arise and go, and will gather all Israel unto my lord
the king, that they[FN18] may make a league [covenant] with thee, and that thou
mayest reign over all that thine heart desireth. And David sent Abner away, and
he went in peace.
IV. Murder of Abner by Joab. 2 Samuel 3:22-39
22And behold the servants of David and Joab came from pursuing a troop [came
from an expedition[FN19]], and brought in a great spoil with them. But [And] Abner
was not with David in Hebron, for he had sent him away and he was gone in
peace 23 When Joab and all the host that was with him were come, they told Joab,
saying, Abner the son of Ner came to the king, and he hath sent him away, and he
is gone in peace 24 Then Joab came to the king and said, What hast thou done?
behold, Abner came unto thee; why is it that thou hast sent him away, and he is
quite [om. quite[FN20]] gone? 25Thou knowest Abner the son of Ner[FN21] that he
came to deceive thee, and to know thy going out and thy coming in, and to know
all that thou doest 26 And when [om. when] Joab was come out [went out] from
David he [and] sent messengers after Abner, which [who] brought him again from
the well of Sirah; but David knew it not.
27And when Abner was returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside in [to the middle
of] the gate to speak with him quietly, and smote him there under the fifth rib
28[in[FN22] the abdomen] that he died, for the blood of Asahel his brother. And
afterward when David heard it [when David afterward heard it], he said, I and my
kingdom are guiltless before the Lord [Jehovah] for ever from the blood of Abner
the son of Ner; 29Let it rest [be hurled] on the head of Joab and on all his father’s
house, and let there not fail from the house of Joab one that hath an issue, or that
is a leper, or that leaneth on a staff [crutch[FN23]], or that falleth on [by] the sword,
or that 30 lacketh bread. So[FN24] Joab and Abishai his brother slew Abner
because he had slain their brother Asahel at Gibeon in the battle.
31And David said to Joab and to all the people that were with him, Rend your
clothes and gird you with sackcloth, and mourn before Abner. And king David
himself [om. himself] followed the bier 32 And they buried Abner in Hebron; and
the king lifted up his voice and wept at the grave of Abner, and all the people wept
33 And the king lamented over Abner and said,
Died Abner [Must Abner die] as a fool[FN25] [or villain] dieth?
34Thy hands were not bound
Nor thy feet put into fetters.
As a man falleth before wicked men
So fellest thou.
35And all the people wept again over him. And when [om. when] all the people
came to cause David to eat[FN26] meat [bread] while it was yet day [ins. and] David
sware, saying, So do God to me and more also, if I taste bread or aught else till
the sun be down 36 And all the people took notice of it, and it pleased them;
as[FN27] whatsoever 37 the king did pleased all the people. For [And] all the people
and all Israel understood that day that it was not of the king to slay Abner the son
of Ner 38 And the king said unto his servants, Know ye not that there is a prince
and a great man fallen this day in Israel? 39And I am this day weak, though
anointed king, and these men the sons of Zeruiah be too hard for me; the Lord
[Jehovah] shall [om. shall] reward the doer of evil [wickedness] according to his
III. 2 Samuel 3:7-21. Abner quarrels with Ishbosheth, and goes over to David
2 Samuel 3:7-8. The falling out. Its occasion was Abner’s taking Saul’s concubine,
Rizpah,[FN28] the daughter of Aiah. The Harem was part of the property of the
reigning house, and therefore fell to the successor, comp. 2 Samuel 12:8. Taking
possession of it was a political Acts, and signified actual entrance on royal rights,
comp. 2 Samuel 16:21, and of this act Abner was guilty. Supply from the
connection Ishbosheth (comp. my father and 2 Samuel 3:8) as subject of the verb
said. His question: “Why,” etc., might be taken as the expression of suspicion that
Abner was thus seeking the throne, for in the ancient Orient claim to the harem
was claim to the throne, so especially with the Persian, comp. Herod3, 68;
Justin10, 2. But, if Ishbosheth really had such a suspicion, Abner’s conduct gives
no ground for such a view; his act seems rather the outflow of passionate self-will
and presumptuous contempt towards Ishbosheth. If he had really wished to seize
the throne of Israel for himself, his conduct towards David ( 2 Samuel 3:9 sq.)
would be inexplicable. His answer in 2 Samuel 3:8 shows how loose his relation to
Ishbosheth and concern for his cause already was. “Dog’s head,” as in our
language also, is the expression for something perfectly despicable. The. words:
“which is to Judah,” omitted by Sept, are not to be connected with the preceding
(Clericus: thinkest thou that I am worth no more to the Tribe of Judah than a dog’s
head? Syr.: Am I the head of the dogs of Judah? Ewald: Am I then a Judahite
dog’s head?—such an adjectival periphrasis would be very strange)—nor in
sense to be connected with the following (Vulg.: who against Judah to-day show
kindness; De Wette: who in respect to Judah now show kindness), but to be
rendered simply as they stand: “who is for Judah, pertains to, holds with Judah”
(Buns.). Abner is angered by the insult he thinks shown him by Ishbosheth’s
reproachful question. The sense of his reply is: that Ishbosheth treats him as a
despicable Prayer of Manasseh, who takes no interest in him, as one who
belongs to his opponents, the party of the Tribe of Judah, whereas Hebrews 1) is
showing only kindness to the whole house of Saul, and2) especially has not
delivered him, Ishbosheth, into the hand of David. By adducing these his services
to the royal house Abner repels the reproach based on his appropriation of the
concubine.[FN29] His words express the extremest contempt towards his king, and
the strongest consciousness of services, to which the house of Saul and
Ishbosheth owed everything. The “to-day” is significant;, even “now” he occupies
this position towards Saul’s house; comp. the “made himself strong, was a strong
helper” in 2 Samuel 3:6. The contrast to this comes out sharply in what follows.
There follows—
2 Samuel 3:9-11, the sudden complete breach with the house of Saul and the
solemn oath in respect to the house of David. This is the culmination of what is
said in 2 Samuel 3:1 of David’s advance in strength over against the house of
Saul. (On the simple ‫ יֵ כ‬in oaths see on 2 Samuel 2:27; 1 Samuel 3:17.) The
history does not show a formal divine oath, such as Abner here refers to. But the
divine choice of David to be king, his anointment performed by Samuel at the
divine command ( 1 Samuel 15:28-29; 1 Samuel 16:1-12), and the therewith
conjoined divine declaration which Samuel declares to be inviolable ( 1 Samuel
15:29) because based on God’s truthfulness (comp. Numbers 23:19)—all this had
in fact the significance and weight of a divine oath. Abner’s words presuppose that
acquaintance with the promises given to David was, through the prophetic circles,
widely extended. Abigail is an example of such acquaintance among the people
( 1 Samuel 25:28-31).—So will I do to him; Abner does not consider himself (as
Cler. thinks) as the Lord’s instrument for fulfilling his declaration to David, which
he in fact was not. He merely says, that he will now make David king, as had been
promised him by divine oath. The remark of Cler. that “military men do not
sufficiently weigh what they say” does not apply here; for in Abner’s words there is
the distinct consciousness that over against the divine promise concerning David
the cause of Saul and Ishbosheth is a lost one, but at the same time also the
mortified ambition that thinks its services not sufficiently recognized, and the
overweening pride of a vigorous and energetic man who thinks that he can of
himself make history. In spite of his reference to a divine declaration, his conduct
is anything but theocratic, is rather throughout autocratic, comp. 2 Samuel 2:8, 2
Samuel 9 : “he took Ishbosheth, and made him king.” How far his previous
energetic, autocratic activity for Saul’s house was connected with ambitious,
high-reaching plans for himself, is uncertain. In any case, however, so much is
true: 1) that he knew David’s divine call to be Saul’s successor, and therefore
stood in conscious opposition to the known will of God, and thus in conflict with
himself, and2) that it was only after his defeat in the battle with Joab (which he
himself began, 2 Samuel 2:12 sq.) and his gradually confirmed recognition of the
fact that Ishbosheth was wholly unfit for the kingly rule and its maintenance in the
house of Saul, and in truth the personal insult now offered him by
Ishbosheth—that he suddenly decided to break with the house of Saul and go
over to David. How far ambition herein influenced him along with political insight,
we cannot tell; but it is not probable that he showed so much energy in gaining
over all Israel to David, as is afterwards related, without hope of a high and
influential position with David—With the words: “to translate the kingdom from
Saul,” comp. Samuel’s word, 1 Samuel 15:28.—From Dan to Beersheba, as in
Judges 20:1; 1 Samuel 3:20.—[Bib. Com. thinks it probable that Abner had before
this begun to incline towards David, so that Ishbosheth had some ground for the
taunt: “which belongeth to Judah,” and this made it all the more slinging to
2 Samuel 3:11. And he (Ishbosheth) could not answer, because he feared him.
This characterizes Ishbosheth sufficiently for the explanation of the whole
situation. Having with an effort plucked up courage to ask that reproachful
question, he here shows the greatest feebleness, cowardice and timidity towards
Abner. This also contributes to the explanation of what is said in 2 Samuel 3:1
concerning the house of Saul.
2 Samuel 3:12-21 Abner’s covenant with David.
2 Samuel 3:12. The threat against Ishbosheth is straightway carried out by
sending an embassy to David. ‫ קׁשקב‬is not “in his place” (Vulg. pro se, Cler, De
Wette, Keil [Eng. A. V.: “on his behalf”]), which would be superfluous and
unmeaning (Buns.), but, in keeping with Abner’s passionate excitement in 2
Samuel 3:9, “on the spot, immediately,” παραχρῆμα (Sept, Chald.), as in 2
Samuel 2:23, where Keil also adopts this meaning, though he here declares that
there is no ground for it.—[On this whole passage see “Text, and
Gram.”—Tr.]—The first “saying” (‫ )מֹו רדּוא‬can be taken here only in the usual sense
as introduction of direct discourse, not as = “to say” in reference to the
messengers. And the second “saying” is also so to be taken, and not as = “that is
to say” (Buns, Then.), since it introduces another direct discourse of Abner: “Make
a covenant,” which cannot except by forcing be regarded as an explanation of the
question: “to whom belongs the land?” rather the demand contained in it, as a
consequence of the silent answer to this question, Isaiah, on account of its
importance as the chief thing in the commission of the ambassadors, naturally
appended by means of a repeated “saying.” The saying: To whom belongs (or
whose is) the land? does not relate to David, as if = “to whom does it belong but
to thee?” This interpretation, that the land properly belonged to David by virtue of
his anointment (Vat, S. Schmid, Ew. [Patrick, Bib. Com.]), would agree indeed
with Abner’s acknowledgment in 2 Samuel 3:9, but not with the following words:
Make a covenant with me to turn all Israel to thee, which rather indicate that
Abner means to say: “the land belongs to me” (Sanct, Thenius [Scott,
Philipps]).This is quite in keeping with his proud, haughty nature, as hitherto
manifested in his words and conduct, and also with the facts of the case, since in
fact the whole land except Judah was still subject to Saul’s house, that Isaiah, to
him (Abner) as Dictator. Because he still as influential ruler controlled the greatest
part of the land, he could1) demand of David, as one standing on the same plane
with him, to make a covenant with him, and2) give him the promise (the product
not only of strong self-consciousness, but also of extensive power): “my hand is
with thee to turn all Israel to thee” Obviously there is here not merely implicitly
involved as answer to the above question, the declaration: “the land is his whom I,
the leader of the army, shall favor” (Cler.), but also the expectation that, after the
fulfillment of this promise, David would assign him the highest position in the army
and in the nation next to himself. Abner’s proud and haughty words hardly permit
us to doubt that he was filled with such thoughts.
2 Samuel 3:13. David replies with a condition, namely, the restoration of his wife
Michal[FN30]—Thou shalt not see my face before (= except) thou bring Michal,
etc.—Certainly we should have the opposite of David’s meaning (Then.) If we
rendered: “Thou shalt not see my face except before thou bring Michal.” But, if we
retain the text (‫)מ ְּׁשרֹוכ‬,
ֵ this explanation is unnecessary, rather it quite answers to the
original signification of the word to render literally: “except in the face of thy
bringing Michal …. in thy coming to see my face,” that Isaiah, thou shalt not see
my face except by at the same time bringing me Michal when thou comest to see
my face; thy coming to me to see my face shall not occur except in the presence
of this fact, namely, that thou (= unless, before thou) bring Michal. It is therefore
unnecessary either to omit the Prep. (‫)מ ְּׁשרֹוכ‬
ֵ after the Sept, and change the
following Inf. into a Perf, = “unless thou bring” (Then.), or to omit the “but”(‫)רמ יֵ כ‬
ֵ =
“thou shalt not see my face before thy bringing (= before thou bring)” (Böttcher).
2 Samuel 3:14 presupposes the acceptance of this condition by Abner. In
realization of what Abner had threatened him with, Ishbosheth finds himself
compelled to fulfil David’s condition himself, and that immediately by Abner’s own
hand, to whom was assigned the duty of bringing, and who really did bring Michal
to David ( 2 Samuel 3:15-16). To this end David sends a formal embassy to
Ishbosheth, in order legally to demand and receive Michal back, she having been
illegally taken by Saul and given to another man ( 1 Samuel 25:44). Seb. Schmid:
“that it might be manifest that he had acted legally towards Phaltiel before his king,
and taken her back, not carried her off by force from a husband.” Whom I
espoused to me, that Isaiah, purchased as bride, married—For a hundred
foreskins, comp. 1 Samuel 18:27, where two hundred is the number given. David
thus justifies his claim that Michal lawfully belongs to him, since he had lawfully
won her as his wife. Besides this right to Michal, which he was now for the first
time in position successfully to assert, he was led to a reunion with her partly by
love (“she loved him,” 1 Samuel 18:27; 1 Samuel 19:11 sq.), partly by a political
motive; as king he could not in the presence of the people leave Michal in a
relation into which she had been forced against her will,[FN31] and he wished the
people to see from his relation to Saul as Song of Solomon -in-law that he was
free from hatred towards the latter.
2 Samuel 3:15. And Ishbosheth sent, that Isaiah, to Gallim, where Phaltiel, the
present husband of Michal, dwelt, 1 Samuel 25:44, and sent Abner himself ( 2
Samuel 3:16). Her husband cannot part with her without sorrow. [The Jewish
tradition represents Phaltiel as the guardian merely, not the husband of Michal—a
view that the text does not permit.—Tr.]
2 Samuel 3:16. A touching scene, briefly but vividly sketched. The faithful
husband follows his wife weeping to Bahurim, where Abner, who therefore had
himself brought Michal from Gallim, ordered him to return. Bahurim, the home of
Shimei ( 2 Samuel 19:17; 1 Kings 2:8), a village near Jerusalem ( Joshua, Ant. 7,
9–7) north-east, on the road between the Mount of Olives and the Jordan (Gilgal),
not far from or in the plain of the Jordan (comp. 2 Samuel 16:1; 2 Samuel 16:5; 2
Samuel 17:18).
2 Samuel 3:17-19. Abner’s preparatory negotiations with the Elders of Israel and
especially of Benjamin, and his report thereon to David.
2 Samuel 3:17. Before Abner carried out David’s condition (the restoration of
Michal), he had a conversation (‫ )יֵ כֵי ְּבוֶׁ א־ר׳‬with the Elders of Israel, that Isaiah,
the Northern Tribes with the exception of Benjamin—Both yesterday and the
day before (= in times past) ye desired [= sought] David to be your king—a
striking testimony to the fact that outside of Judah also there had been a favorable
sentiment towards David, against which Abner had energetically established and
hitherto maintained Ishbosheth’s authority. The existence of this favorable feeling
towards David in the Northern Tribes is confirmed by 1 Chronicles12.
2 Samuel 3:18. Now, then, do it, that Isaiah, fulfil your desire, recognize him as
your king. As reason for this demand Abner refers to a “word of Jehovah,” which
indeed in the form here given: I will save my people Israel, is never expressly
mentioned as spoken “to David” (so the Vulg.); but it is to be regarded as the word
applied in the prophetic tradition (which Abner, 2 Samuel 3:9, is well acquainted
with) to David, with which Saul ( 1 Samuel 9:16) received this divine commission,
which in its completeness could only now be fulfilled by David.[FN32]
2 Samuel 3:19. The special elaborate and pressing negotiations with Benjamin
were necessary not only because this tribe had enjoyed many advantages from
the royal house of Saul, 1 Samuel 22:7 (Then.), but in general because, though
numerically the smallest tribe, it had hitherto had the honor of furnishing the
reigning family; it was necessary to overcome the tribal ambition and the
tribe-interest, to which Saul appealed, 1 Samuel 22. The “also … also” (‫)םֶׁם־םֶׁמ‬,
which denotes mutualness (Ew, § 352 a), points out the close connection and
relation between the negotiations carried on with Benjamin as the tribe most
important for David, and the earnest conversation that Abner therefore had with
David (“in the ears of David”) at Hebron. He “went,” namely, after these double
negotiations, in order to bring Michal to David.—All that seemed good, that
Isaiah, not their demands and conditions (De Wette, Then, Buns.), which does not
accord with the context or lie in the words, but (since the negotiations referred to
the recognition of David’s divine right to the kingdom over all Israel, 2 Samuel
3:10) the willingness to recognize him as king, the recognition of his royal
authority.—[Patrick observes that David so effectually attached the Benjaminites
to him that, though they had been Saul’s closest adherents, they became David’s
warm friends, and never afterwards left him. However, comp 2 Samuel20.—Tr.]
2 Samuel 3:20. The twenty men, who accompanied Abner to David and for whom
he prepared a feast, appeared “as representatives of all Israel, in order by their
presence to confirm Abner’s overtures” (Keil).—[Patrick: The feast was not merely
an entertainment, but of the nature of a league. Bib-Com.: “It is remarkable that
not a word should be said about the meeting of David and Michal.”—Tr.]
2 Samuel 3:21. The same quickness with which Abner carried out his resolution to
go over to David ( 2 Samuel 3:12) fulfilled the required condition ( 2 Samuel 3:16),
pressed the preliminary negotiations ( 2 Samuel 3:17 sq.) in order to inform David
about them, he now shows in the further proceedings, that he may institute as
soon as possible the solemn installation of David as king of Israel under formal
conclusion of a covenant between king and people. The gradation in his following
words: I will arise and will go and will assemble all Israel to my lord, is
characteristic of the rapidity, excitedness and energy that we everywhere remark
in Abner. He now for the first time calls David “his lord.” He will “assemble the
whole nation (i. e. in its elders and other representatives) to the solemn
covenanting.” This last was not to consist in the establishment of a constitution
after the nature of a “constitutional monarchy” (Then.), which is wholly foreign to
the theocratic kingdom, but the words: that they may make a covenant with
thee mean: they are to vow to obey thee as the king given them by the Lord, thou
promising to govern them as the theocratic king, through whom as His instrument
the Lord Himself will rule over His people.—And that thou mayest be king over
all that thy heart desireth, that Isaiah, not: “in a way or under conditions that
thou canst accept” (Then.), but he is to rule as he desires; it does not, however,
mean: “as thy soul desires” (Clericus), or “according to thy pleasure” (Dathe),
because the conception of the theocratic rule excluded all arbitrariness from it, but
“over all, according to which is the desire of thy soul,” that Isaiah, according to the
Lord’s will and appointment, over the whole people and land. David had indicated
the desire of his heart in his message to the Jabeshites. Abner was dismissed by
David as his king who was in accord with his purpose. That he was now looked on
by David and his adherents as thoroughly a friend, and received no harm from
any body, is indicated by the concluding words: And he went in peace.
IV. 2 Samuel 3:22-39. Murder of Abner by Joab and his solemn interment by
2 Samuel 3:22. Instead of the Sing, “came,” referring to Joab as leader of the
troop, Sept, Syr, Ar. render: “they came.” “From the troop” came Joab with the
servants of David, who had undertaken an expedition for booty Whither, is not
said, but probably outside the Israelitish territory near the tribe of Judah. In the
incomplete organization of David’s court, such expeditions were necessary for the
support of the large army. “Abner was no longer with David;” probably he had
purposely chosen the time when Joab, with the army, was absent, to carry out his
plan. “He had gone in peace” is repeated from 2 Samuel 3:21 in contrast with the
hostility afterwards shown him by Joab, when ( 2 Samuel 3:23) on his return he
learns that Abner had meantime been with David and had been dismissed in
peace. [For the correction of the rendering of this verse in Eng. A. V. see “Text,
and Gramm.”—Tr.]
2 Samuel 3:24. Joab’s reproach of David that he had sent Abner away—so that
“he was now quite gone” (‫ יֵ מֵה ֹובשֹומַ ה‬Ew. § 280 b)—supposes that Abner had only
come with evil and hostile purpose. [Joab, of course, was afraid that he would be
superseded by Abner, if the latter entered David’s service. He was younger and
less renowned than Abner.—Tr.]
2 Samuel 3:25. Joab gives a reason for his charge of unwisdom against David in
sending Abner away in peace: Thou knowest (or, as a question, knowest thou?)
Abner, that ….. In a quick, passionate speech, for the truth of which he appeals
at the outset to David’s knowledge of Abner’s character (against Thenius’ remark:
“had David known what Joab here says, he would have acted differently”), he
makes a threefold charge against Abner, with the intent of thereby branding him
as spy and traitor. He declares that Abner came1) to trick him out of his most
secret thoughts. The verb (‫ )הֵ ֵקי‬means “to be open” ( Psalm 20:19), Piel “to make
open, persuade, get one’s secrets from him” ( Judges 14:15; Judges 16:5); so
here; 2) to learn David’s outgoing and incoming, that Isaiah, all his present
undertakings, his whole action and course of life (comp. Deuteronomy 28:6;
Psalm 121:8); 3) all that he will do, all his plans for the future.
2 Samuel 3:26. Without David’s knowledge (whether expressly in David’s name,
falsely used by him, is not stated) he sends messengers and brings Abner back,
making him believe, no doubt, that David had something further to say to him. The
pit (or cistern) of Sirah, to which Abner had gotten when he was turned back,
according to Jos. Ant. 7, 1, 5, distant twenty stadia [= nearly two and a half
English miles] from Hebron, is now unknown; the name is perhaps to be derived
from a verb (‫ )םּוא‬meaning “to turn in” (Thenius), and denotes an inn or
caravanserai. [According to others, Song of Solomon -called as surrounded with
thorns, Sirim, ‫( ֵם ֵכאכמ‬Philippson).—Tr.]
[Bib. Comm.: Abner’s conduct bespeaks his entire reliance on David’s good
faith.—Tr.] After Abner’s return to Hebron, Joab met him in the gate of the city,
and turned him “aside to the middle of the gate, in order to speak with him quietly.”
Clericus: “made him turn aside, took him apart” (the Hiphil ‫ ֵיטֵ י‬is transitive as in
Job 24:4; Numbers 22:23). Joab could not speak with him in the way where
people were going out and coming in. He had therefore to take him aside to the
places in the gate-space, where, according to the oriental custom, men used to
meet for private or public conversations and consultations. To the middle of the
gate.—Joab drew Abner to the middle of the inner gate-space (which was no
doubt roofed) between the places of exit and entrance, because it was not so light
there, and one could better escape the notice of the passers-by, who, however,
were probably not very numerous. Bunsen renders well: “made him turn aside
(from the way) near the middle of the gate.” For Joab wished, as he made Abner
believe, to talk with him “in quiet, undisturbed, in private” (‫)וֶׁ ַי ֵמכ‬. There he stabbed
him in the abdomen (‫יׁשּו ַדי‬,
ֶׁ comp. 2 Samuel 2:23) [not “under the fifth rib,” as in
Eng. A.V.—Tr.]. For the blood of Asahel his brother see 2 Samuel 2:23; that
Isaiah, to avenge or punish the death of his brother. According to this it was an act
of revenge for bloodshed. But Abner had not wilfully slain Asahel, but in
self-defence, when the latter pressed on him, 2 Samuel 2:22 sq. But
blood-vengeance was appointed only for intentional killing, and he was protected
by law from it, who had killed a man unintentionally ( Deuteronomy 4:41 sq.;
Joshua 20:1-9). Joab’s deed was a murder, like that which he afterwards
committed on Amasa, 2 Samuel 20:11. He thereby cast false suspicion on David
(comp. 2 Samuel 3:37), whose friendly relation to Abner he yet must have known,
since David no doubt informed him in their conversation ( 2 Samuel 3:24-25) of
Abner’s true position. The avenging of blood was a mere pretext; the real ground
of Joab’s deed was envy and ambition, as Josephus already rightly holds. He
feared that Abner would take a higher position in the new kingdom than
himself—especially would cut him out of the rank of general-in chief of the whole
army. Grotius: “an equal and rival in military glory galled him.”
[The ancient Jewish writers regarded this imprecation of David’s as sinful. The
text passes no opinion on it, but from the religious-theocratic point of view of the
time, it would seem even necessary that the wrath of God should be specially and
sharply invoked on so high-handed a crime, especially as David was not able to
call the criminal to legal account.—Tr.] 2 Samuel 3:30. Supplementary remark of
the narrator, who1) confirms the fact that the slaying of Asahel by Abner was the
ground (pretext) for the murder of the latter just related, and2) adds the important
statement that Joab’s act was not merely personal, but also a family-act: “Joab
and Abishai slew Abner.” Abishai’s part in the affair is not related. Literally: “threw
themselves on him,” the verb being used with Dat. instead of Accus, Isaiah 22:13
(Böttcher, Then.).
2 Samuel 3:31-39. David’s mourning for Abner. 2 Samuel 3:31. David said to Joab
(as him who by his murderous act was chiefly and terribly interested) and to all the
people that were “with him” (those about him), not merely to the “courtiers”
(Thenius): Rend your garments, etc.—He ordered a public mourning with all the
usual ceremonies (rending garments, putting on sackcloth, that Isaiah, rough
mourning garments of haircloth, and lamentations for the dead). We must
distinguish two principal acts: 1) The mourning not over, for, in honor of (Ew. §
217 l) Abner, but “before” him (‫)מ ְּׁשרֹוש‬,
ֵ in the presence of his corpse; 2) the burial, 2
Samuel 3:31 b sq.: And the king David followed the bier.[FN33] The word “king”
is put emphatically first to indicate the official character that he as king gave to
these obsequies, in order to show his personal deep sorrow for the death of Abner
which concerned the whole people, and to stifle at the outset any suspicion that
he had a share in it. His “tears at the grave” showed the genuineness of his grief
to the people who shared in his trouble and wept with him. His elegy ( 2 Samuel
3:33-34) is the expression of the deepest sorrow over Abner’s innocent and
shameful death. In reference to his guiltlessness he exclaims: Must Abner die as
a worthless fellow dies?—as a nabal (‫)רֵוֵ מ‬, a fool; where this term is used of
immorality and crime, these, like denial of God and godlessness ( Psalm 14:1),
are regarded under the point of view of foolishness; nabal always denotes
hollowness, emptiness, insipidity (see Moll [in Lange’s Bible-Work] on Psalm
14:1), and signifies therefore somewhat more precisely “good-for-naught.” [The
sentence may be paraphrased: is this the fate that the noble Abner was to meet,
to die like a worthless fool? alas that he found so inglorious a death.—Tr.] But he
was murdered in shameful wise also: Thy hands were not bound and thy feet
not put into fetters—with free hands, with which he might have defended himself;
with free feet, with which he might have escaped from overpowering force; without
suspecting evil, he was attacked and murdered as a defenceless Prayer of
Manasseh, who yet might have defended himself. (De Wette (against the ‫)מ ּור‬
wrongly renders: Thy hands were never bound, thy feet never put into fetters.)
Only dishonorable, wicked men could so act. This lament of David increased the
grief of the people, so that “they wept still more over Abner.”
2 Samuel 3:35. David’s grief is strongest and most enduring—he refrains entirely
from food. Fasting often occurs as a sign of sorrow—see 2 Samuel 1:12. All the
people (that Isaiah, as many as were present) came to cause David to eat
bread—that Isaiah, not to give him to eat (De Wette), as 2 Samuel 13:5 (an
impossible conception in respect to “all the people”), but to demand of him to take
food. Josephus: “his friends tried to force him to take nourishment.” It was the
custom for mourners to fast immediately after the death of their friends,
whereupon their relatives and friends exerted themselves to comfort them, and
persuaded them to strengthen themselves with food and drink, comp. 2 Samuel
12:16-17; 2 Samuel 12:20; Jeremiah 16. Perhaps the people here acted in
accordance with this custom; but their demand may also be referred to the
mourning meal that followed the burial. But David refuses with an oath; [FN34] up to
evening he will eat nothing. The expression of grief here reaches its culmination.
2 Samuel 3:36. The people took notice of it—namely, of his deep sorrow, and
estimated this expression of his mourning as corresponding to the intensity of his
grief. It pleased them, as[FN35] all that the king did pleased all the
people.—Thus he was not only freed from suspicion of share in the murder of
Abner ( 2 Samuel 3:37). but won the love and confidence of the people.
2 Samuel 3:38. An echo of the elegy: Know ye not that there is a prince and a
great man fallen this day in Israel?—Not: “great prince” (Thenius, after Sept,
omitting the copula), since the distinction between the prince=“army-leader” and
the great man is perfectly appropriate. Abner was a “prince” by his distinguished
military ability, which (as this exclamation intimates) David might have employed
for all Israel; he was a “great man” by reason of his lofty qualities of character and
virtues, his power of action, his courage, the honorable self-conquest he exhibited
in turning from his previous false course of opposition to David, the obedience that
he yielded to the will of God, and the zealous desire he showed to serve by deeds
the true king of Israel. On account of his natural noble endowments and these
moral[FN36] qualities, Abner rightly seems to David to be a great man in Israel, not
merely, therefore, in the incorrect sense in which the term has been applied to a
2 Samuel 3:39. The usual explanation: “but I am still weak….. and these men are
too strong for me;” that Isaiah, as a weak young king I feel unable to bring a man
like Joab to justice; I must therefore confine myself to an imprecation, and leave
the punishment to God ( Joshua, Theod, Brent, Tremell, S. Schmid, Clericus, De
Wette, Keil [Patrick]), is wholly untenable; for David could not and durst not so
express himself. It would have been very unwise to acknowledge his fear and
weakness in respect to Joab and Abishai; nor would it have been true; for he who
had conquered Abner, by whose side stood600 heroes, in whose grief over
Abner’s murder all the people shared, no doubt had power to punish this crime;
such a self-exculpation based on confession of weakness does not at all agree
with the courage and fearlessness that form a fundamental trait of David’s
character.—Against Ewald’s explanation: “I indeed now live in palaces and am
crowned king, and yet the sons of Zeruiah are out of my reach,” it is to be
remarked with Thenius that the word ‫[ ֶׁאה‬Eng. A. V.: “weak, tender”]) for whose
meaning “well living” he cites Isaiah 47:1; Deuteronomy 28:54-56, is used in those
passages in a bad sense=delicatus [luxurious, effeminate], and that the other adj.
(‫)ק ֵיכמ‬
ֵ cannot mean “out of reach;” and there is the further objection to this
rendering that David had as yet no very splendid position, and his dwelling
proudly in royal palaces is out of the question. Against Bunsen’s rendering: “hard,
out of my reach” ( Exodus 48:25), Thenius rightly remarks that hard and out of
reach are two different conceptions, and that the former can be used only of
things, not of persons. Böttcher translates: “And I am to-day easy, and am
crowned king, but these men—are too rough for me,” and finds in the “easy” (‫)אה‬
ֶׁ a
double contrast, on the one hand between David’s present comfortable
circumstances and Abner’s sad death, and on the other hand between the easy
disposition (natural in easy circumstances) inclined to pardon (as was lawful and
right for the king), and the rough deed of the sons of Zeruiah. But1) “we cannot
suppose such a double meaning in the declaration” (Thenius), and2) the history is
in conflict with this supposition of royal well-living on the part of David, who with
his men must have depended chiefly for their living on the booty taken in their
incursions. Thenius alters the text[FN37] after the Sept. and translates: “know ye not
that… and that I am to-day weak and am raised to the position of the king. Those
men… are harder than I. Jehovah reward,” etc. But the text of the Sept in the first
third of the verse is too confused[FN38] to allow an emendation of the Hebrew to be
based on it. Nor could David yet have said: “I am raised to the position of the
king.” Holding to the text, we might rather adopt Thenius’ explanation, according
to which David, over against Abner’s greatness and importance for all Israel
(which he had just affirmed), sets his own present situation, in which this
distinguished man would have been of the greatest value to him, so that the
sense would be: “How well in my situation could I have used such a man as Abner,
I who have just been set on the throne! What these men have done I could not
have done! (comp. 2 Samuel 16:10). But God will judge!” Yet in this explanation
also a confession of weakness would be the chief point, which in David’s present
situation is altogether improbable. David was actually not “set on the throne” in
respect to all Israel; that does not take place till 2 Samuel 3:1. The little word “just”
is put in. Before the whole people David has avowed the deepest, sincerest grief
of heart for Abner by declaring that he would continue his fasting till the sun went
down. Then follows in 2 Samuel 3:36-37 the parenthetical double statement of the
impression that his conduct made on the people: they approved his feeling, and
were firmly convinced that he had no part in the murder. It is then further related in
2 Samuel 3:38 (which connects itself with 2 Samuel 3:35) how David expressed to
the narrower circle of “his servants” (that Isaiah, his immediate royal retinue) his
grief at the loss that he and Israel had suffered by Abner’s death. In 2 Samuel
3:39 follows immediately the avowal of his disposition of mind, that he as king
showed himself soft and weak, while those men showed themselves so hard. The
contrast of “soft” and “hard” (here evidently intended) is thus fully preserved in
respect not to the political situation, but to mental constitution. The meaning of
David’s words would thus be: Wonder not that I so give myself up to grief. You
know what a great man we and all Israel have lost. I am then soft and weak, I, an
anointed king, while these men, the sons of Zeruiah, are in disposition harder than
I. They (at least Joab) were obliged indeed to take part in the ceremony of
mourning ( 2 Samuel 3:31); their hard, inflexible mind, whence proceeded the evil
deed, showed itself in their mien and deportment at the ceremony. This gave
David occasion to contrast his weakness, his absorption in grief with their
hardness, a contrast that is sharpened by his comparing them with himself as king.
The concluding words: The Lord will reward.… are the natural expression of the
feelings and thoughts that filled David’s soul when he looked at their hardness
and inflexible defiance (comp. 2 Samuel 3:29).
1. “The house of Saul grew weaker and weaker” 2 Samuel 3:1. This is the theme
of the following narrative of Ishbosheth’s kingdom under Abner’s lead and
guidance. In the first place, the heir to Saul’s throne appears as a very weak
Prayer of Manasseh, unfit to rule, without character or will, who is merely an
object of Abner’s mighty, unlimited activity, and never (except for a moment in the
affair of the concubine) attempts to take the position of subject [that Isaiah,
independent agent] in respect to Abner. While David undertakes nothing of his
own will and strength in order to overthrow the dynasty of Saul and gain the
promised kingdom over all Israel, patiently waiting for the fulfilment of the promise
given him, this fulfilment is already introduced by the fall of Saul’s house through
its own weakness, and by its loss of the royal throne through the incapacity of its
representative for the royal office, with the co-operation at last of Abner, who was
still its only support. Ishbosheth appears as a will-less, weak mock-king in
degrading dependence on the mighty, vigorous, heroic nature of Abner. When the
latter, in reply to the charge made against him of high-handed and reckless
proceeding against the royal house, breaks forth into anger, discarding all
reverence for his royal master and openly announcing his defection to David,
Ishbosheth has nothing to answer, because he fears Abner. Indeed in his utter
helplessness Ishbosheth seems to have entertained the thought of sharing the
royal dignity with David, being perhaps ready to cede to him the greater part of the
power. At least he became Abner’s passive tool so far as to lend his hand to the
fulfilment of the condition on which David was willing to yield to his proposals,
namely, the restoration of Michal. “The Scripture presents in him a living example
of how the sacredly held right of legitimate inheritance has no root when it is not
ennobled by a vigorous personality. When the divine calling is lacking, no
legitimate pretensions help” (P. Cassel, Herz. s. v.).
2. “David grew stronger and stronger.” This second statement also in 2 Samuel
3:1 is in respect to David the title of this section. While David bears himself
patiently and humbly in respect to his royal interests, the spirit of the people,
under the misrule of Ishbosheth, turns to him more and more in the desire that he
may be king over the remaining tribes also ( 2 Samuel 3:17). Even the bearer and
support of Saul’s kingdom, the mighty Abner, inclines secretly to him on the
ground of his ever clearer consciousness and conviction that it is Jehovah’s will
that the kingdom of Israel should depart from the house of Saul and pass over to
David; till his rupture with Ishbosheth leads to his open transition to David’s side.
Abner had indeed, against his better convictions, maintained his partisan position
against David and continued his hostile efforts against him, and it was only after
the overthrow of his hitherto unlimited power and the violence done to his
self-esteem and ambition, that he came to the conclusion to abandon his position
as David’s opponent; and certainly ambitious plans and views for his position in
the new kingdom were not wanting in his transition to David and his energetic
efforts for David. But all this could give David no ground to reject Abner’s offer;
rather he was under obligation to employ this unsought change in Abner’s mind
and position (which entered into his life as a factor permitted by the Lord) for the
end (fixed not by himself, but by the Lord) of his kingdom over all Israel, the
kingdom of Saul falling to pieces of itself, when the Dictator, who had furnished its
outward support, left it. Abner’s defection from Ishbosheth and effort to gain from
the whole people the recognition of David’s authority was an important preliminary
step thereto. But further, by a wonderful providence of God, Abner’s shameful
murder by the envious, ambitious Joab was to lead to this result, namely, that,
after the Elders of the people had already shown themselves willing to recognize
his authority over all Israel, the whole people gave him their love and confidence;
“all that he did pleased them” ( 2 Samuel 3:36).
3. The realization of the plans and aims of the wisdom of God in the development
of David up to his ascension of the royal throne in Israel is secured by the
co-operation of human efforts and acts (like Abner’s and Joab’s), which have their
ground not in zeal for the cause of the kingdom of God, but in selfish ends and
motives of the self-seeking, sinful heart. Human sin must subserve the purposes
of God’s government and kingdom.—The absolute freedom of control in the
things of His kingdom takes the activity of human freedom into its dispensations,
and weaves them into the fast closed web of divine arrangements and Acts, in
which they fulfil the plans of divine wisdom.—J. Hetz (Geschicht. Davids I:309)
remarks on 2 Samuel 3:18 : “Here also it is to be noted how, merely by preparing
circumstances, the free actions of men have been forced to accord with divine
declarations, of which fact this theocracy gives so many examples.”
4. David’s words concerning Joab and his house are no more the expression of
revenge than the orders that he gives to Solomon in his last words ( 1 Kings 2:5
sq.) respecting the punishment of Joab for this bloody crime (against Dunker,
Gesch. des Alterth. I:386); but they express his moral horror at this evil deed, and
at the same time the everlasting law of God’s requiting justice, which reaches not
merely the person, but also the posterity ( Exodus 20:5) of the offender. David
(though, as theocratic king, he had the right to do it) does not himself execute the
deserved act of divine righteousness on Joab, not, as the common view Isaiah,
because he felt himself too weak in his royal office, but because he wished to
avoid the appearance of personal revenge, especially now when Abner had just
done him such great services. He therefore committed to the Lord the requital and
expiation of this crime, 2 Samuel 3:39. This could be accomplished, however, only
through a human instrument. The commission to this end he accordingly gave to
his son Solomon ( 1 Kings 2:5 sq.), who, not as his Song of Solomon, as a private
person, but as his successor on the throne and as theocratic king, had therein an
official duty to fulfil. For “in the kingdom of God, in which ruled the law of earthly
requital, such a crime might not go unpunished” (O. v. Gerlach).
5. In David’s ethical conduct in this important episode also, which immediately
precedes his ascension of the promised throne, we see individual prefigurations
of his humble obedience to the Lord, without whose will he will take no step in life.
Under the strongest temptations to arbitrariness and violence, which were the rule
with the ancient oriental princes, he maintains strict self-control, exhibits uniform
circumspection, a wisdom and discretion cognizant of God’s ways, and does not
permit anger at the deed of horror that had been done under his eyes to lead him
to immediate, bloody punishment. We must guard against exaggerated demands
on the morality of the Old Testament men of God, that we may not unfairly judge
them by an improper standard, and that we may not pervert the truth of the divine
development of revelation by confounding the stand-points of the Old and New
Testaments. David’s invocation of divine punishment on Joab ( 2 Samuel 3:29)
(wherein, indeed, we must distinguish between the eternal truth of the divine
justice and the sinful element of subjective passion) is held by some to be
unjustifiable from the Christian point of view. To this it is to be replied once for all,
that David belongs to the Old Testament, not the New Testament economy,
stands on the stand-point of the Law, not of the Gospel, and therefore is not to be
ethically judged according to the New Testament stand-point.
[Dr. Erdmann’s remarks on David’s moral motives are determined in part by his
interpretation of 2 Samuel 3:39, about which there is much room for doubt. It may
be merely a confession of political weakness that he here makes privately to his
friends, in which case his self-control is simply political sagacity. David had high
moral and spiritual qualities; at the same time we must guard against the
determination to find the loftiest theocratic motives in every act of his life. Dr.
Erdmann holds that in 2 Samuel 3:39 David affirms his own softness of nature as
reason for his deep grief over Abner, in contrast with the hardness of Joab. The
objection to this is that it does not explain sufficiently why David immediately
appends an appeal to God for the punishment of the doer of evil. Further, the
reason assigned by our author for David’s failure to punish Joab (namely, his
desire to avoid the appearance of revenge) seems unsatisfactory; nobody would
have accused him of personal vengeance. To the usual interpretation Dr.
Erdmann objects that a confession of political weakness on David’s part would
have been unwise and untrue. But, what more natural than that he should make
such a statement to a select body of friends; and that it was not true, we are not
warranted in saying, since we do not know Joab’s power and position. The words
of the Heb. may refer to political relations, and such a statement would accord
with the whole history. It must be allowed, however, that the words are
2 Samuel 3:7 sq. The designs that God has with His chosen ones for the
furtherance of His kingdom often have the way smoothed for them through human
sins.—Single wicked deeds, proceeding from momentary passionate excitement,
do often in God’s government give occasion for changes having important
consequences.—Division among the opposers of God’s kingdom must subserve
the furtherance of His aims, and on the contrary, discord among those who, on a
like ground of faith, wish to live and labor for the same tasks in the kingdom of
God must help the wicked one and further his aims.
2 Samuel 3:12 sqq. When an opposer of God’s word honestly turns, we should
without reluctance give him the hand, without undertaking to pass judgment on
the motives that are hidden in his heart.
2 Samuel 3:13. Where the honor of God and His holy ordinances are concerned,
a man should guard his rights, and demand reparation of a right that has been
2 Samuel 3:17 sq. He who has left the ways of unrighteousness, upon which for a
long time he had consciously or unconsciously gone, and returned to the way of
truth and righteousness, will exhibit the sincerity of his change by a so much the
more earnest striving to restore the damage done by his previous conduct, and to
carry into execution the previously hindered aims of divine wisdom and love.
2 Samuel 3:23 sq. That there is a kingdom of evil is proven by the fact that a
man’s turning from evil to good, which pleases God and is a joy to the angels,
commonly excites bitterness and hate in wicked men, who see their aims and
plans thereby interfered with, and awakens an envy and jealousy that does not
shrink from the most wicked deeds.
2 Samuel 3:28 sq. The honor of one’s good name is too precious a possession to
let even the suspicion cleave to it of participation in other men’s guilt. Manly honor
demands that in every way, by word and deed and behaviour, one should set forth
his innocence when the circumstances and relations give occasion to untrue and
unjust accusations.
2 Samuel 3:33 sq. In lamenting the loss of great men who were prominent in
advancing the kingdom of God, we not merely render to them the honor they
deserve, but also praise God who gave them.
2 Samuel 3:36. That king will be most honored and loved by his people who walks
in the ways of God, and by a noble disposition, magnanimity and hearty goodness
himself awakens the nobler feelings of his people.
2 Samuel 3:39. In patience and humility must we refer to God the Lord the
righteous requital for wicked transgression of His holy commandments.
Indifference thereto makes one a partaker of like guilt.—[Comp. above at close of
“Hist. and Theol.”—Tr.]
On 2 Samuel 3:8. Schlier: How many stand together and seem the most
inseparable friends, so long as each hopes to gain his end; but only let this aim
remove to a distance, only let it become manifest that a selfish or ambitious desire
is not going to be fulfilled, and how soon is all rent in twain! For there is nothing
that really unites men but the fear of God. No friendship is permanent and
progressive that is not rooted in the fear of God.—[ 2 Samuel 3:9-10. Scott: While
men go on in their sins apparently without concern, they are often conscious that
they are fighting against God.—Tr.]—On 2 Samuel 3:16. F. W. Krummacher: It
appears from this occurrence that, amid the wilderness of ruined domestic
relations by which Israel was then overgrown, there was yet here and there to be
found the flower of a true and inward love and fidelity. This bloomed in David’s
house also, but not unstunted, and he has not remained untouched by the curse
which God had laid upon the abomination of polygamy in Israel.—On 2 Samuel
3:21. “When a man’s ways please Jehovah, he maketh even his enemies to be at
peace with him.” Proverbs 16:7.
[ 2 Samuel 3:27. Henry: In this, 1. It is certain that the Lord was righteous. Abner
had against the convictions of his conscience opposed David, and had now
deserted Ishbosheth, under pretence of regard to God and Israel, but really from
pride and revenge2. It is as certain that Joab was unrighteous. (1) Even the
pretence for what he did was very unjust. (2) The real cause was jealousy of a
rival. (3) He did it treacherously, under pretence of speaking peaceably to Abner,
Deuteronomy 27:24. (4) He knew that Abner was now actually in David’s
[Robinson: 2 Samuel 3:33. Are we all, in our several stations, grieved for the
wickedness which we are compelled to witness, and which we cannot prevent or
2 Samuel 3:39. Those who possess the highest authority cannot do all they would.
We should compassionate rather than envy their situation.—Henry: 2 Samuel
3:38. When he could not call him a saint and a good Prayer of Manasseh, he said
nothing of that; but what was true he gave him the praise of, that he was “a prince
and a great man.”
2 Samuel 3:39. This is a diminution, (1) To David’s greatness; he is anointed king,
and yet is kept in awe by his own subjects. (2) To David’s goodness; he ought to
have done his duty, and trusted God with the issue. Fiat justitia, ruat
cœlum.—Taylor: Had he put Joab to death, public opinion would have sustained
him in the execution of justice; and even if it had not, he would have had the
inward witness that he was doing his duty to the state. For a magistrate to be
weak, is to be wicked.… O what suffering—may I not even say what sin?—David
might have saved himself from, if he had only thus early rid himself of the tyrannic
and overbearing presence of Joab!—Wordsworth: He would have probably
prevented other murders, such as that of Ishbosheth and of Amasa; and he would
have been spared the sorrow of giving on his death-bed the warrant of execution
against Joab, to be put in effect by Solomon. “Impunity invites to greater crimes.”
“He is cruel to the innocent who spares the guilty.”—Tr.]
[ 2 Samuel 3:15-16. We pity a man who weeps in helpless and apparently
innocent suffering. But consider a little, and it may appear that this is only the
consequence of a wrong action he committed long ago ( 1 Samuel 25:44). Our
pity is not thereby destroyed; but its character is greatly changed.
2 Samuel 3:17-18. How gracefully rulers can yield to the popular wish when they
conclude that it is their own interest to do so. And how zealous some men will
suddenly become to carry out God’s own will when their own places have been so
changed as to coincide therewith!—Hall: Nothing is more odious than to make
religion a stalking-horse to policy.—Tr.]
[ 2 Samuel 3:25. An ambitious and unscrupulous man is quick to discern, and
ready to distort, the selfish aims of others. “Set a thief to catch a rogue.” And one
who acts from impure motives exposes himself to be accused of grossly wicked
designs which he has not at all entertained.
2 Samuel 3:27; 2 Samuel 3:30. O mad ambition, that pleads fraternal love and
sacred duty to the dead as an excuse for the foul deed that removes a rival! (The
principle of blood-revenge did not apply, for Asahel was killed in war; and if it had
applied, Hebron was a city of refuge.)
2 Samuel 3:33-34. The bitterest fruit that even civil war can bear is assassination,
a thing to awaken horror in every noble mind.—Tr.]
[ 2 Samuel 3:38. Abner, the soldier turned politician.—Or a sermon might be
made on the general career and character of Abner. See 1 Chronicles 9:36; 1
Samuel 14:51; 1 Samuel 17:57; 1 Samuel 26:3-14; 2 Samuel 2:3., and the notes;
and comp. 2 Samuel 4:1.—Tr.]
FN#1 - ‫ יֵ מֶׁ ה‬with Vb. or Adj. ( 1 Samuel 2:26) indicating progressive increase. Ges.
§ 131, 3, Rem3.
FN#2 - ‫ ׁשֵ זֹוק‬is not=‫“ ׁשֵ זֵק‬strong” (Böttcher on Exodus 19:19), but Partcp. or Verbal
Adj.=“strengthening” (neuter), as ‫ ( ל ֹוֵממ‬1 Samuel 2:26).
FN#3 - This rhyming in propositions and division is a somewhat common practice
in Germany.—Tr.]
FN#4 - 2 Samuel 3:7. The lacking subject “Ishbosheth” is supplied in5 MSS, some
printed EDD, and all the VSS. except Chald.; but this shows only that they
regarded this name as the proper subject, not that it was originally in the text.
Whether it stood originally in our Hebrews, or we have here a fragment of a fuller
narrative in which the subject of the verb was indicated by the context, cannot
now be determined.—Before “to his brethren,” in 2 Samuel 3:8, the copula “and” is
inserted in all VSS. except. Chald, and in some MSS.—Tr.]
FN#5 - 2 Samuel 3:7. In ‫ יֵ כמַ רַי‬the quiescent Jod instead of dagh. forte (as is
frequent in Chald.). The origin of the word is unknown; comp. Chald. ‫ׁשֶׁ ְּמרֵ כמֵ ר‬
“vigorous beast,” perhaps “one that has reached years of puberty,” (Levy); but
comp. Arab. falhas and uflud.—Tr.]
FN#6 - 2 Samuel 3:8. This rendering of Eng. A. V, taken from the Vulg, cannot be
well gotten from the Heb.; the translation in brackets is the one now generally
adopted.—Instead of ‫כקכ‬
ֵ ֵ‫( ֵי ְּדא‬for ‫רקכ‬
ֵ ֵ‫)י ְּדא‬
ֵ “delivered,” Syr. has ‫ יממ‬and Sept. has
ηὐτομόλησα = ‫( ֵי ְּימֶׁ ְּד ֵתכ‬Then.).—The change of Prep, after ‫ ֵעמ( ׁשַ םַ מ‬and ‫ )רֹו מ‬is to
FN#7 - 2 Samuel 3:12. ֵ‫ ֶׁת ְּׁשת‬Qeri ‫ת ְּׁש ֵתכ ְּב‬.
ֶׁ Two general renderings of this phrase are
found in the Ancient VSS.: “in his place” (Sym.: “instead of him,” Vulg, pro se
dicentes, Chald, “from his place,” Syr. omits it) and “on the spot” (Sept.
παραχρῆμα, followed by Erdmann). The former best accords with the usage, and
gives a good sense.—Tr.]
FN#8 - 2 Samuel 3:12. The difficulties in this text are1) the double ‫“ מֹו רד ּוא‬saying;”
2) the absence of the Art. Before ‫“ רֵ ַאח‬land;” 3) the obscurity of this question. The
Heb. text is supported by the VSS, except that the second ‫ מֹו רד ּוא‬is omitted in Syr,
Arab, and in a few MSS, and the second in Sept, and the Sept. text of the
question is corrupt (the Vat. Sept shows an imperfect triplet: Abner sent
messengers to David εἰς θαιλάμ οὖ ἦν παραχρῆμα, in which θαιλάμ seems to be
corrupted out of ‫מדכ קׁשקב‬, ο͂υ ῆν is for οῦ γῆν, while παραχρῆμα is translation of
‫)קׁשקכ‬. It appears that the question and the second ‫ מרדא‬were not understood;
Chald.: saying, I swear to him who made the land, saying—Syr.: what is the
land?—The best course seems to be to omit the second ‫מֹו רד ּוא‬, and seek a
meaning in the question.—Tr.]
FN#9 - 2 Samuel 3:13. Some VSS. and MSS. have “David,” which is merely the
expression of the obvious subject;—Tr.]
FN#10 - 2 Samuel 3:13. As the Heb. stands it can only be rendered “except on
condition of thy bringing,” (so Bib. Com. and substantially Erdmann); Böttcher’s
suggested readings ‫“ ֵמ ְּׁשרֶׁכ‬before” (adv.) and ‫“ ְּמׁשֵ רֶׁכ‬before me,” are dropped by
himself as unnatural here. He and Wellhausen see a duplet in this text (‫ רמ לכ‬and
‫)מהרכ‬, which is not improbable, but not necessary. If, in that case, the latter be
adopted, the Inf. of the text is retained; if the former, the Perf. must be read.—Tr.]
FN#11 - 2 Samuel 3:14. There is no need of inserting this Dat. in the Heb. text,
since it is easily supplied from the context, and its omission is in accordance with
Heb. usage. But in 2 Samuel 3:15 the suffix must be written ‫רכיכ‬
“her husband.”
FN#12 - 2 Samuel 3:15. Such is the form in the Qeri or margin; the Kethib or text
has Lush, which perhaps means the same thing “lion.” Apparently by inversion the
Sept. writes the name Selle.—Tr.]
FN#13 - 2 Samuel 3:17. Literally, “both yesterday and the day before”.—Tr.]
FN#14 - 2 Samuel 3:18. ‫—רַ מ‬so Sept, Syr, Arab, Keil, Cahen; but Vulg, Philippson,
Erdmann “to David.” Thenius would read ‫“ עֶׁ מ‬concerning” (as the context requires)
on the ground that ‫ רמ‬cannot so be rendered; but see Jeremiah 22:18.—Tr.]
FN#15 - 2 Samuel 3:18. The text has the Inf, which after ‫ רֵ דֶׁ א‬some would render
“Jehovah said to save” = “said that He would save,” but this is hard on account of
the intervening ‫מֹו רד ּוא‬. and the Impf. is now generally read with many MSS. and
printed EDD, and all the Ancient VSS.—Tr.]
FN#16 - 2 Samuel 3:19. The ‫“ לֶׁמ‬also” qualifies not the succeeding word “Abner,”
but the preceding “spoke,” “went” (Wellh.).—Tr.]
FN#17 - 2 Samuel 3:20. The Heb. has no Prep. here, employing the Acc. of the
point reached; but some MSS. and EDD. insert ‫ו‬,
ְּ and so all VSS. except Chald,
which has ‫מ‬.—Tr.]
FN#18 - 2 Samuel 3:21. The Sept. has the first person, “I will make a covenant
with him,” which is against the syntax of the context.—Tr.]
FN#19 - 2 Samuel 3:22. Lit. “from the troop (or predatory band),” so the VSS.
except Aquila, who has “Geddur” (‫ )רמא‬which he renders μονοζώνου or εὐζώνου.
The Heb. expression is somewhat hard and obscure, but may have been a
technical one.—The Heb. Perfects are here from the connection properly
rendered by Eng. Plups. “had sent,” “was gone.”—Tr.]
FN#20 - 2 Samuel 3:24. The Inf. Abs, the force of which cannot be exactly given
in English. Perhaps the Sept. “in peace” here was designed as a rendering of this
Inf, though it is not improbable that it is merely a repetition from the two preceding
verses; it is therefore not to be inserted in the Heb. text (against Wellh.).—Tr.]
FN#21 - 2 Samuel 3:25. The phrase “the son of Ner” is omitted by Syr. and Ar,
and its points are omitted in one MS. (224Kenn.)—why, is not clear.—The Sept.
rendering: “dost thou not know the wickedness of Abner?” is a weakening of the
original; the Syr. also has the neg-interrog. form, and renders very well “that he
came to flatter thee.”—Tr.]
FN#22 - 2 Samuel 3:27. The Prep. is omitted in the text, but some MSS. insert ‫רַ מ‬,
and so the VSS, according to the Heb. usage.—Tr.]
FN#23 - 2 Samuel 3:29. Böttcher and Erdmann (with Vulg. and Syr.) render: “one
that holds a distaff,” that Isaiah, an effeminate man ( Proverbs 31:19). See the
FN#24 - 2 Samuel 3:30, Erdmann renders: “but Joab and Abishai had slain
Abner,” as if the purpose of the verse were to give the reason for the murder.
Wellhausen holds the verse to be an interpolation on the ground that it adds
nothing except the inclusion of Abishai in the guilt in order to justify David’s curse
on Joab’s family. It seems better, however, to regard the verse not merely as
giving the reason for the murder (which is given in verse27), nor as superfluous,
but as a concluding summing up of the incident, as is so common in Heb.
FN#25 - 2 Samuel 3:33. Sept.: “Will Abner die according to the death of Nabal?”
taking ‫( ֵרלֵמ‬fool) as a proper name. So in 2 Samuel 3:34 it has οὐ προσήγαγεν ὠς
Νάβαλ, misunderstanding the ‫ יֵ רְּ ׁשֵמ‬of the Hebrews, which it read ‫יְּ ֵרלֵמ‬.—Tr.]
FN#26 - 2 Samuel 3:35. De Rossi cites a reading in some MSS. ֶׁ‫אֵקמי‬
ְּ‫“ ל‬to make a
feast” ( 2 Kings 6:23), which Kimchi said was written but not read, perhaps a
clerical error.—Tr.]
FN#27 - 2 Samuel 3:36. ‫יְּ לּומ‬. Wellhausen objects that this ְּ‫ י‬cannot be rendered as
a conjunction (as in Eng. A. V.), and therefore prefers the Sept, which omits the ְּ‫י‬.
Syr. accords with Sept, and Chald and Syr. insert “and” before ‫ועֹו כרֹוכ‬.
ְּ The reading
of Greek and Syr. (“and good in their eyes was all that the king did, and good in
the eyes of all the people”), however, contains a weak repetition, and something
like the Heb. text is required by the connection.—Tr.]
FN#28 - See 2 Samuel 21:8-11 and Genesis 36:24.—Tr.]
FN#29 - It is supposed by some that Abner did not marry Rizpah, but used her as
a harlot.—Tr.]
FN#30 - ‫( יֶ ֵוכרֶׁ ה‬as elsewhere after ‫)מ ְּׁשרֹוכ‬
ֵ like the Perf, instead of the usual
‫ (יֶׁ ֵוכר׳‬Exodus 23:30; Leviticus 23:14 sq.; Deuteronomy 4:28). ‫ ֵמ ְּׁשרֹוכ‬here = “before.”
Ew, § 238 d, § 337 c.
FN#31 - Whether she was divorced from David does not appear.—Tr.]
FN#32 - Instead of the Inf. ֶׁ‫יֵיכע‬
read with all VSS. and many MSS. the Impf.
FN#33 - The bier (‫)דטֵ י‬
ֵ was a bed-like structure, often magnificent. So Herod’s,
Jos. Bell. Jud. I:23, 9. See more in Comms. of Pat. and Philipps.—Tr.]
FN#34 - ‫ ֵרמ‬is asseverative particle = “if,” that Isaiah, “surely not;” ‫ יֵ כ‬introduces the
FN#35 - On this see “Text and Gramm.”—Tr.]
FN#36 - Of these moral qualities nothing is said in the narrative. Abner may have
possessed them, but we know nothing about it. Our author's picture is the creation
of his own imagination—Tr.]
FN#37 - He reads ‫ בְּרֵ רּולֵ כ‬to connect with the preceding ‫( בְּלֵ כ‬καί ὅτι ἐγώ) and ‫יֶׁ מַ מַ ה‬
ֵ ‫ ֶׁתׁשֶׁ ק‬instead of ‫ּודיּוׁש ַדמַ ה‬.
FN#38 - συγγενής for ‫—אה‬probably
corrupted from ἀσθενής (Böttcher)—and
καθεσταμένος ὐπό βασιλέως alongside of καθεστ. εἰς βασιλέα.
04 Chapter 4
Verses 1-5
David becomes Sole Ruler over Israel
2 Samuel 4:1 to 2 Samuel 5:5
I. Murder of Ishbosheth. 2 Samuel 4:1-8
1And when [om. when] Saul’s Song of Solomon 1heard that Abner was dead in
Hebron, [ins. and] his hands were [became] feeble, and all the Israelites [Israel]
were troubled 2 And Saul’s son had two men that were captains of bands. The
name of the one was Baanah and the name of the other Rachab, the sons of
Rimmon a Beerothite, of the children of Benjamin; for[FN2] Beeroth also was
reckoned to Benjamin 3 And the Beerothites fled to Gittaim, and were [have been]
sojourners there until this 4 day. And[FN3] Jonathan, Saul’s Song of Solomon, had
a son that was lame of his feet. He was five years old when the tidings came of
Saul and Jonathan out of Jezreel, and his nurse took him up and fled; and it came
to pass, as she made haste to flee, that he fell and became lame. And his name
was Mephibosheth 5 And the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, Rechab and
Baanah, went, and came about the heat of the day to the house of Ishbosheth,
who lay on a bed at noon [and he was taking his midday-rest].[FN4] 6And they
came thither[FN5] into the midst of the house, as though they would have fetched
[fetching] wheat; and they smote him under the fifth rib7[in the abdomen]; and
Rechab and Baanah his brother escaped.[FN6] For when they [And they] came into
the house, [ins. and] he lay on his bed in his bed-chamber, and they smote him
and slew him and beheaded him, and took his head, and gat them away through
the plain all night 8 And they brought the head of Ishbosheth unto David to
Hebron,[FN7] and said to the king, Behold the head of Ishbosheth the son of Saul
thine enemy, which [who] sought thy life; and the Lord [Jehovah] hath avenged
my lord the king this day of Saul and of his seed.
II. Punishment of Ishbosheth’s Murderers by David. 2 Samuel 4:9-12.
9And David answered Rechab and Baanah his brother, the sons of Rimmon the
Beerothite, and said unto them, As the Lord [Jehovah] liveth, who hath redeemed
10 my soul out of all adversity, When one 8 who] told me, saying, Behold Saul is
dead, thinking to have brought good tidings—I took hold of him and slew him in
Ziklag, who thought that I would have given [in Ziklag, to give him[FN9]] a reward for
his tidings; 11How much more when wicked men have slain a righteous person in
his own house upon his bed? shall I not therefore now [and now, shall I not]
require his blood of your hand, and take you away [destroy you] from the
earth?[FN10] 12And David commanded his [the] young men, and they slew them
and cut off their hands and their feet, and hanged them up over [at][FN11] the pool
in Hebron. But [And] they took the head of Ishbosheth and buried it in the
sepulchre of Abner in Hebron.
III. David anointed King over Israel. 2 Samuel 5:1-5.
1Then came all the tribes of Israel [And all… came] to David unto Hebron, and
spake,[FN12] saying, Behold, we are thy bone and thy flesh 2 Also in time past,
when Saul was king over us, thou wast he that leddest [led] [FN13] out and
broughtest [brought] in Israel; and the Lord [Jehovah] said to thee, Thou shalt
feed my 3 people Israel, and thou shalt be a [om. a] captain over Israel. So [And]
all the elders of Israel came to the king to Hebron, and king David made a league
[covenant] with them in Hebron before the Lord [Jehovah], and they anointed
David king over Israel 4 David was thirty years old when he began to reign,
and[FN14] he reigned forty years 5 In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years
and six months, and in Jerusalem he reigned thirty and three years over all Israel
and Judah.
I. 2 Samuel 4:1-8. Murder of Ishbosheth
2 Samuel 4:1. In consequence of the news of Abner’s murder, Ishbosheth’s hands
became “slack,” the opposite of the “strong” (‫ )ׁשֵ זֶׁק‬comp. 2 Samuel 2:7; 2 Samuel
16:21—that Isaiah, he completely lost heart. And all Israel was troubled,
because people knew Ishbosheth’s incapacity, and that Abner alone had been the
prop of his kingdom ( 2 Samuel 3:6). [Things were generally in an unsettled state.
Patrick: By Abner’s death the treaty with David was broken off, or there was
nobody to manage it like Abner; Plato observes: “when any calamity is about to
befall a city, God is wont to take away (the) excellent men out of that city.”—Tr.]
2 Samuel 4:2. The son of Saul had[FN15] two band leaders, Baanah and
Rechab, sons of Rimmon.—Noteworthy is the designation “son of Saul” for
Ishbosheth, who is never called “the Anointed of the Lord.”—The two
“band-leaders” in Ishbosheth’s service were no doubt bold, adventurous men. The
part that they play, as well as Abner’s conduct, suggests the supposition that the
firm military organization that Saul had called into being had relaxed, and a
disintegration of the army into separate bodies under adventurers and partisans
was imminent, if it had not already occurred. Of the sons of Benjamin; for
Beeroth also was reckoned to[FN16] Benjamin.—Beeroth, according to Rob.
II:345 sq. [Am. Ed. i451–453, ii262] and Later Bibl. Researches190 [Am. Ed.
III:289], the present village Bireh, seven miles north of Jerusalem in an unfruitful
and stony region on a mountain, with old foundations, not far from Gibeon on the
western border of Benjamin. Comp. Joshua 9:17; Joshua 18:25. As from its
border-position, it might easily be reckoned to another tribe, it is here expressly
mentioned as belonging to Benjamin, that there might be no doubt that these
murderers were really Benjaminites, fellow-tribesmen of Saul’s son.
2 Samuel 4:3. An explanatory statement about Beeroth with reference to the time
of the narrator, when that Beeroth was no longer in existence. Not: “they had fled”
(for at the time of Ishbosheth’s murder Beeroth no longer existed), but: “they fled
to Gittaim.” They dwelt there as strangers (‫ )ל ֵֵאכמ‬not protégés (against Ewald,
Then.). Neither the reason for their flight, nor the position of this place is known to
us. In Nehemiah 11:33 a Gittaim is mentioned among the places inhabited by
Benjaminites after the Exile. If that is the same with our Gittaim, we yet cannot
certainly conclude that it belonged to Benjamin before the Exile; the contrary
rather is probable. The word “strangers” points to the fact that the fugitive
Beerothites dwelt there among non-Israelites. It was perhaps one of the places on
the border of Benjamin belonging to the non-Israelitish Amoritic Gibeonites.
[Patrick and Philippson suggest that Beeroth was abandoned by its inhabitants at
the time of the Philistine invasion, 1 Samuel 31:7. Bib-Com. (supposing the
Beerothites to be Gibeonites) conjectures that the flight was occasioned by Saul’s
attack, 2 Samuel 21:1-2, and that the act of Baanah and Rechab was one of
vengeance.—But we know nothing certainly about it.—Gittaim has been
supposed to be the Philistine Gath (Then. and others) or Gath-Rimmon, Joshua
19:45; Joshua 21:24 (Wellh.).—Tr.].
2 Samuel 4:4. A historical remark in respect to the then condition of Saul’s house.
Its only representative besides Ishbosheth was Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth,
five years old at the time of the catastrophe at Jezreel, lame in both feet, helpless
therefore, and neither a support to Ishbosheth nor fit to succeed him on the throne.
In view of this the narrator here inserts this statement in order to make clear how,
on the murder of Ishbosheth related below, the kingdom of Saul’s house was
necessarily extinguished. For further notices of Mephibosheth see9, 2 Samuel
16:1 sq.; 2 Samuel 19:25 sq. Instead of this name we find (parallel with Eshbaal
for Ishbosheth—see on 2 Samuel 2:8) in 1 Chronicles 8:34; 1 Chronicles 9:40,
Meribbaal = “opponent, conqueror of Baal,” and Mephibosheth[FN17] also perhaps
means “exterminator of Baal.” [This statement about Mephibosheth also prepares
the way for the subsequent notices of him.—Tr.].
2 Samuel 4:5. “In the heat of the day” the murderers came to Mahanaim where
Ishbosheth dwelt, see 2 Samuel 2:8. He lay on the midday-bed, that Isaiah, in a
quiet, remote, cool spot of the house. They chose this time of midday-rest as
favorable to their purpose.
2 Samuel 4:6. “And hither.”[FN18] The phrase “fetching wheat” explains how they
could penetrate “into the midst of the house,” where Ishbosheth was lying; they
came as persons that wished or were directed to fetch wheat. The Particp. is
sometimes put for the Impf. as our Fut, as Exodus 10:8, “who are they that are
going?” (=that purpose going), and so in narration does the duty of the Pret, as
Genesis 19:14, “marrying his daughter” (=who were to or wished to marry). Ewald,
§ 335 b. They came not as “purchasers of wheat” (Buns.), but as band-leaders, to
get wheat for the support of their men, “corn [grain] to divide out to their soldiers,
which was kept in the middle of Ishbosheth’s house” (Cler.). We need not
suppose that this was merely a pretext; rather their entrance into the midst of the
house is the more easily explained when we suppose that this was a usual
practice in accordance with their military position, and that they had done it before.
Thus without attracting attention they could slay Ishbosheth, and quickly make
their escape.—The Sept, departing completely from the Masoretic text, here
reads: “and behold, the portress of the house was cleansing wheat and had fallen
asleep and slumbered; and Rechab and Baanah, the brothers, escaped (or,
slipped by).” Thenius’ restoration of the original text after the Sept. is rejected by
Böttcher as “frightfully far” from the masoretic text, while Thenius disapproves
Böttcher’s reading (which Ewald with some modifications adopts) as more
circumstantial than his own. If the original text accorded with these conjectures, it
is not easy to see how the present masoretic text (which differs from it so much)
came from it, while it is easy to suppose that the Sept. (according to its custom),
tried by an interpretation to explain partly how the two murderers could get into
the house unopposed, partly the strange repetition of the account in 2 Samuel 4:7.
The Vulg. (which, through the Itala on which it is based, is dependent on the Sept.)
has the corresponding insertion: “and the portress of the house cleansing wheat
fell asleep,” while in the rest of the verse it follows the masoretic text against the
Sept. All the other ancient versions follow the Heb. According to the latter there is
certainly a tautology in 2 Samuel 4:6-7, the entrance into the house and the
murder being twice mentioned. But in the first place, it is to be observed that in the
attempted restorations of the original text the phrase “came into the house”
remains in 2 Samuel 4:5 and 2 Samuel 4:7. But we must further bear in mind a
peculiarity of Heb. narration (referred to by Königsfeld, Annot. ad post. libr. Sam.,
and Keil), by which a previously-mentioned fact is repeated in order to add
something new. So in 2 Samuel 3:22-23 the coming of Joab, and in 2 Samuel 5:1;
2 Samuel 5:3 the coming of the Tribes is twice mentioned. Here the “coming” of 2
Samuel 4:5 is more fully described in 2 Samuel 4:6, and the “slaying” of 2 Samuel
4:6 is defined in 2 Samuel 4:7 as beheading, and this makes the transition to the
account in 2 Samuel 4:8, that the murderers brought the head of Ishbosheth to
David, having during the night traversed the Arabah or plain of the Jordan. Comp.
2 Samuel 2:29.
2 Samuel 4:8. To the king.—Notice that David is always here so termed, while in
respect to Ishbosheth the title is avoided. Behold the head of thy enemy, who
sought thy life.—The better to justify their deed, and to gain favor and reward
from David, the risen star, they stigmatize Ishbosheth as one that sought after
David’s life, thinking perhaps that the recollection of Saul’s persecution and
Abner’s hostility would give the color of truth to their false assertion. [Others hold
less well that Saul is the enemy here meant.—Tr.]. Nothing is said in the history of
attempts on David’s life by Ishbosheth, and David’s designation of him as a
“righteous Prayer of Manasseh,” who was guilty of no evil deed stamps that
assertion as a lie. They have the effrontery indeed to represent their crime as an
act or judgment of God, the better to commend themselves to David, though they
had committed the murder of their own accord without any commission at all.
II. 2 Samuel 4:9-12. Punishment of Ishbosheth’s murderers by David
2 Samuel 4:9. The words: Who hath redeemed my soul out of all
adversity—are therefore not a confirmation of the murderers’ assertion about
Ishbosheth, but contain the thought “that David is not obliged to free himself by
crime from his enemies” (Keil).
2 Samuel 4:10. He who told me… thinking himself a messenger of good—a
recapitulation of the history of the Amalekite ( 2 Samuel 1), here put in the
absolute construction, and the words and I seized him follow as principal
assertion, instead of: “if I seized and slew him who told me” ( 2 Samuel 1:15). “In
order to give him a reward for his tidings,” that Isaiah, to inflict on him the
punishment he deserved.[FN19] [See “Text. and Gram.” The last clause of this
verse is of the nature of biting irony—David gave the man a reward, and it was
2 Samuel 4:11. “How much more!” (‫ )יֵ כ רֶׁ ף‬the apodosis to the protasis in 2 Samuel
4:10. The words: wicked men… on his bed are (as in 2 Samuel 4:10) proposed
in absolute construction, instead of: “how much more shall I require his blood from
your hand, ye wicked men!” The “wicked men” stands in sharp contrast with the
“righteous man.” David characterizes Ishbosheth as a “righteous Prayer of
Manasseh,” that Isaiah, as one who had never done anything wicked (so
Josephus). This judgment accords with the character given of Ishbosheth in
chaps2, 3. (he was a “good Prayer of Manasseh,” without falsehood and
blameless), and is at the same time a decided refutation of the charge by which
the murderers think to palliate their crime. “David declares that Ishbosheth was
blameless, having done nothing to occasion this end” (Cassel). With the phrase
“and now” David brings his speech to a close, pronouncing sentence of death, by
the same royal authority as in 2 Samuel 1:14-15. The form of the thought is a
progression from the less to the greater: If I executed in Ziklag him who avowed
having killed at his own request on the battle-field my adversary Saul, under
whose persecutions the Lord delivered me from all adversity, how much more
must I demand at your hands the blood of this righteous man whom ye
murderously slew in his house on his bed. On the phrase “require blood,” see
Genesis 9:5, according to which God Himself is the avenger of blood, comp.
Psalm 9:13. David recognizes himself as king in God’s service and His instrument,
when he causes these criminals to be slain in expiation of intentional homicide.
Comp. Numbers 35:31.—“Take away, destroy;” the verb (‫)ועֹו א‬
ֵ is used of
extermination by death, for example, in Deuteronomy 13:6 (5); not “from the
earth,” but “from the land” (‫)רַ ַאח‬, since according to the law ( Numbers 35:33), the
murderer lost his abode in the land of promise.
[Hands and feet were cut off because these were the offending members (Abarb.
in Philippson). This sort of punishment has always been common in the
East.—Tr.].—David had “Ishbosheth’s head” buried in “Abner’s sepulchre in
Hebron” on account of the relation that had existed between the two men.
III. 2 Samuel 5:1-5. David anointed king over all Israel.
2 Samuel 5:1. These incidents (the murder of Abner and that of Ishbosheth),
which made a deep impression on the whole people, taken in connection with the
growing inclination to David in all Israel, necessarily favored and hastened the
attainment of the end after which Abner had striven in his negotiations with the
elders ( 2 Samuel 3:17-18). The tenor of the history leads us to hold with Ewald
that the recognition of David as king over all Israel occurred immediately after
Ishbosheth’s death, against Stähelin, who thinks that there was an interval of
several years after his death, during which the tribes gradually came over to David.
[Here the Book of Chronicles again falls in with our history ( 1 Chronicles 11), and
runs parallel with it in general (though with many differences) to the end of David’s
life. The differences will be noticed as they present themselves.—Tr.].—Thus,
then, appear at Hebron “all the tribes of Israel,” that Isaiah, the elders ( 2 Samuel
5:3) of all the tribes except Judah. The elders give three reasons (arranged in
order of importance) for raising David to the throne over the whole nation: 1)
Behold, we are thy bone and thy flesh.—This expression denotes
blood-relationship in the family, Genesis 29:14; Judges 9:2; it here refers to their
common descent from one ancestor: “we are thy kinsmen by blood,” in view of
which the enmity between us must cease.
2 Samuel 5:2. 2) Before, when Saul reigned over us, it was thou that leddest
Israel out and in—the same thing is said of Joshua in Numbers 27:17. The
expression “lead out and in” does not refer to the affairs of Israel (Keil), but the
people itself (“Israel”), and “the whole people” indeed. This is expressly affirmed in
1 Samuel 18:16 in the words: “And all Israel and Judah loved David, because he
went out and in before them,” and that this “going out and in” is to be understood
of military leadership is clear from 2 Samuel 5:5, 2 Samuel 5:13, and from the
whole connection. The bond of fellowship and love, which had bound him to them
(even under Saul) as leader in their military undertakings, is the second ground of
their proposal.—3) Their last and strongest ground is the immediate call by the
word of the Lord to be shepherd and prince over Israel. And the Lord said to
thee; on the word “feed” (‫)אעֵ י‬
ֵ see Psalm 78:70-72, and on “prince” [captain] see
1 Samuel 25:30. No such word of the Lord, spoken immediately to David, is ever
mentioned. The declaration of the elders is to be explained as Abigail’s in 1
Samuel 25:30, and Abner’s in 2 Samuel 3:9; 2 Samuel 3:18 [that Isaiah, as
belonging to the circle of prophetic thought.—Tr.]. It is perhaps based on the word
of the Lord to Samuel, 1 Samuel 16:1-2, by which David was chosen to be king
over Israel, comp. with 1 Samuel 15:28.—The first and third grounds answer
exactly to the precept in Deuteronomy 17:15 : “Thou shalt make him king over
thee whom the Lord thy God shall choose; out of the midst of thy brethren shalt
thou make a king over thee.” [Patrick: 2 Samuel 5:1. They were not overcome by
the arms, but by the piety and justice of David, to acknowledge him their king.
2 Samuel 5:2. This is the first time we find a governor described in Scripture as
pastor of the people; afterwards the name is much used by the prophets,
particularly Ezekiel 34:23 and many other places. Whence our Lord Christ is
called “the good Shepherd” and “the great Shepherd.”—Evil rulers are called
“roaring lions, hungry bears, and devouring wolves,” etc., Ezekiel 19:2.—Comp.
the Homeric epithet ποιμένες λαω̄ν, and the emblematic animals in Dante’s
Inferno. Bk. I.—Tr.].
2 Samuel 5:3. And the elders… came to Hebron—resumption of the words of 2
Samuel 5:1 with exacter definition of the expression “tribes” by the mention of
their representatives “the elders,” for the purpose of further detailing the solemn
covenanting of David with the people and his anointing as king of Israel. And king
David made a covenant with them before the Lord.—Comp. 2 Samuel 3:21,
“that they may make a covenant with thee.” In this word of Abner is given one side
of the covenant, namely, the obligating of the people to obey him as the king given
them by the Lord; here the other side is given, namely, David promises in this
covenant, in accordance with his divine choice and call to the throne, to rule the
people according to the will of the Lord. Notice the expression of the Heb. “made
to them a covenant” (‫)מ י ֵֶׁאק‬,
ְּ which does not permit us to regard this as a mere
bargain, wherein both parties have equal rights and authority” (Œhler, Herz. viii11).
The relation of both parties to the Lord is indicated by the expression “before.”
The view that an agreement was here entered into of the nature of a modern
constitution [There was probably gradually established between king and people
some recognition of mutual rights and duties—an unwritten, or possibly in part a
written law. This would not be out of harmony with the theocratic conception of the
government. Philippson points out some apparent indications (as 1 Kings12.) of
such a law.—Tr.]
(Then.), does not accord with the relation that the theocratic principle of the
Davidic kingdom established between king and people in their common obligation
to the Lord, the true king of His people. And they anointed David king over
Israel—to which the Chronicler adds ( 1 Chronicles 11:3): “according to the word
of the Lord by Samuel,” an explanatory addition referring to the Lord’s command
to Samuel to anoint David king over Israel, 1 Samuel 16:1; 1 Samuel 16:12.
David’s anointing by Samuel ( 1 Samuel 16) is now confirmed by the anointing of
the people, they having expressly and solemnly recognized his divine call to be
king of Israel ( 1 Samuel 15:28), made by Samuel and witnessed by Samuel’s
anointing. The Chronicler, deriving his information from precise accounts,
declares that there was a large attendance of military men from the whole nation
at this royal festival ( 1 Chronicles 12:23-40).
2 Samuel 5:4-5. The statement in 2 Samuel 2:11 is here resumed, and we have
stated, 1) David’s age (30 years) at his accession to the throne; 2) the whole time
of his reign (40 years), and3) the time of his reign over Israel (33years). See on 2
Samuel 2:11. These statements of time are given in 1 Chronicles 29:27 at the
close of David’s reign. [Bib. Com.: The age of David (30 years) shows that the
events narrated from 1 Samuel13to the end of the book did not occupy above10
years—four years in Saul’s service, four years of wandering, one year and four
months among the Philistines, and a few months after Saul’s death.—Tr.]
1. In the section 2 Samuel 4:1 to 2 Samuel 5:5 we have the completed fulfilment
of the statement made in 2 Samuel 3:1 concerning the theocratically contrasted
fortunes of Saul’s house and David, up to the culmination of the latter’s rise and
the uttermost point of the former’s depression. The spiritual weakness, moral
slackness and personal insignificance of Saul’s heir on the throne, the
unfaithfulness, ambition, selfishness, rude violence and dissolution of all discipline
and order about the royal court, the increasing favor of the people to David and
the entire absence of prospect for the physical maintenance of the kingdom in
Saul’s house, whose last scion was a cripple—all this co-operated to bring about
the fall of this kingdom before the eyes of the people and the fulfilment of the
divine judgment on Saul’s house, without David’s doing the slightest thing to
produce the catastrophe or staining his hands with Ishbosheth’s blood, holding, as
he did, to what he had sworn to Saul, 1 Samuel 24:22. Amid the affecting events
that introduce the final fall of Saul’s house, and the severe temptations with which
he is beset to make a compact with sin, or at least to come in contact with crime in
order to gain his end, David holds, as from the beginning, firm and unshaken to
his stand-point of humble obedience to and complete dependence on the will and
leading of the Lord, knowing himself to be in person and life and in his destination
for the throne of Israel solely in the hand of God. The anger with which he repels
self-commending crime [ 2 Samuel 4:8-11], appealing to the guidance of his God
who had brought him through all adversity, is at the same time a positive witness
to his determination to take all further steps also up to the attainment of his
promised dominion only at the hand of his God, and to guard against all tainting of
his divine mission by sin and crime. “His way to the throne had hitherto been
always the way of obedience to God’s will; it was ever the way of the fear of God
and of conscientious fulfilment of duty, and with such crimes he had never had
anything to do. How could he now defile himself with them! The execution of these
two murderers was a testimony to all the people, what ways David went and
wished further to go, and that whoever would avail anything with this king, must
tread solely the path of godly fear and duty” (Schlier).
2. Ishbosheth’s violent end is not to be regarded as a natural step in the fall of
Saul’s house, or as a necessary consequence thereof, but as a revelation of the
divine justice against his guilt in permitting himself (by his good-nature and moral
weakness) to be misused by his ambitious and high-aiming general Abner, to be
made a rival king and seduced into hostile undertakings against David ( 2 Samuel
2:12). Such an end must Ishbosheth’s kingdom according to the divine justice
have had, since it was founded on opposition to God’s will.
3. And Song of Solomon, in respect to God’s judgments on men’s sins, the
God-fearing Prayer of Manasseh, like David, with all his holy anger against evil,
which is a reflection of God’s holy anger, and with all his obligatory energy of
punitive justice, must yet exhibit recognition of the good that exists in his neighbor
who is smitten by the judgment of God, and especially cherish gentleness and
forbearance where personal wrong has been done him.
4. The covenant, which David made with the people on his accession to the
throne, is not to be thought of as a contract between two parties, who by
negotiations and mutual concessions produce a constitutional relation, in which
their mutual rights and duties are to be considered and carried out.—This would
be directly contradictive of the fundamental idea of Israel’s constitution, namely,
that the God of the fathers, who had chosen the people, separated them to be His
people, redeemed them from the bondage of Egypt, and made a law-covenant
with them at Sinai, was their king, and that they owed Him obedience as their ruler
according to the demands of His law. People and God-given king had to obey the
Lord as their proper, true king; there is no contrasting of king and people, but both
have to render unconditional obedience to the invisible God as their Lord and
Ruler. See 1 Samuel 12:20-25. The conviction that David was called immediately
by the Lord to be king of Israel had spread from Samuel and the prophets
throughout the nation, and announced itself expressly in the formal and solemn
recognition of David as king in accordance with the demand in Deuteronomy
17:15 : “Thou shalt set as king over thee him whom the Lord thy God shall
choose.” This recognition of the divine call precedes the covenanting and the
anointing. On the basis, now, of this recognized fact, the covenanting could
include nothing but what followed necessarily from the principle of the theocratic
kingdom, to govern the people in the name of the Lord, and according to the law
that the invisible King of the people had given. David promised, in accordance
with Deuteronomy 17:19-20, faithfully to perform the law given by the Lord for him
as well as for the people, and not merely a constitutional law agreed on between
him and the people; and the people promised to obey the Lord their God in His
royal government, and to be subject to David as God-appointed instrument of the
theocracy. [While this statement of the joint subordination of king and people to
the divine law is perfectly just, so that there could not be in Israel a political
constitution, political progress, or free institutions according to modern
conceptions, we may still suppose that in carrying out the details of the
government there came to be recognized certain principles (subordinate to the
central principle) which controlled the customary action of sovereign and people,
and were of the nature of Common Law or a Constitution.—Tr.].
5. The establishment of David on the throne of Israel as an act of God (completed
by the people, in the knowledge and recognition of God’s will, by the anointment
as an act of choice and homage) restored externally and internally on the old
deep theocratic basis, the unity of the people introduced by Samuel, which was
gradually weakened under Saul’s government, and after his death destroyed by
the division of the nation into two parts and the establishment of two kingdoms, so
that a recurrence of the disintegration of the Period of the Judges was imminent.
The perfect unity of all the tribes shows itself at David’s anointment in Hebron, 1)
in the avowal of the blood-relationship of the whole people with David through
their common descent from one ancestor —in contrast with the nations that were
corporally foreign to them (comp. Deuteronomy 17:15); 2) in the recognition of
David’s services to the whole nation even in Saul’s time as military leader against
foreign nations, and of the bond of love and confidence that consequently bound
the whole people to him; 3) in the declaration that David was called by the Lord
Himself to be king over all Israel (comp. Deuteronomy 17:15), and4) in the
covenant that the two, king and people, make with one another before the Lord as
their King, on the basis of the law-covenant that God had made with His people
(comp. Deuteronomy 17:19-20, with 1 Samuel 12:20 sq, and Exodus 19:20.)
2 Samuel 4:1 sq. Cursed is the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his
arm, 1) Because of the frailty of all flesh and of all human supports, with which fall
the hopes based on them2) Because of the faithlessness of men, in whom blind
confidence is placed instead of putting all confidence in the faithfulness of the
Lord3) Because of the danger of ruin of body and soul, to which one thereby
exposes himself.
2 Samuel 4:8. How evil seeks deceitfully to clothe itself with the appearance of
good, 1) by falsehood, in alleging something evil in others as a pretext to make
itself appear right and good; 2) by hypocrisy, in representing itself as in harmony
with God’s Word and will; 3) by the pretence of having promoted the interest of
2 Samuel 4:8-12. How the children of God should guard against the power of evil
which presses upon them. 1) By repulsing every service of evil that is to their
advantage, and pointing to the Lord who alone is their help2) By avoiding all
participation in others’ guilt3) By energetically testifying, in word and deed, against
2 Samuel 5:3. What kingdom is in truth a kingdom by the grace of God? That
which, 1) is based on the solid ground of the word and will of God; 2) conducts its
government only in the name and service of-the living God, fulfilling its office of
shepherd and leader, and3) strives after the welfare of the people only in the
covenant of love and obedience towards the holy and gracious God.
2 Samuel 4:1. Starke: Let no one trust in men, Jeremiah 17:5; for they are nothing,
Psalm 62:10, 9], and when they fall, all hope falls, too, Psalm 146:3-4.—S.
Schmid: At last the will of God does come to pass, and His promises go on to their
fulfilment, Romans 4:21; Hebrews 2:3.
[ 2 Samuel 4:2. Scott: Wretched indeed are they who are engaged in undertakings
in which none can serve them without opposing the known will of God ! The more
exalted their station, the greater is their danger; for the very men in whom they
repose their chief confidence are destitute of principle, serve them only for gain,
and will betray or murder them when their mercenary schemes require it.—Tr.].
2 Samuel 4:2-3. Berl. B.: A true king is nothing else than the shepherd of the
people, 2 Samuel 7:7; Psalm 78:71-72. Accordingly God made David a shepherd
of men, as Peter a fisher of men.
2 Samuel 4:3. Starke: God causes His own people, whom He wishes to exalt, first
to come under the cross awhile, Proverbs 13:12.—S. Schmid: Kings and princes
must know that they stand under God, according to whose will and direction they
have to judge themselves.—Wuert. B.: Although God does not cause that which
He has promised the pious, to come to them immediately, yet He does at least
give it to them, and indeed the longer He delays the more glorious it becomes. So
let men patiently wait for the right time.
2 Samuel 4:4. Osiander: What often seems most hurtful to us, must often be most
helpful to us.—Wuert. B.: When God with His grace turns away from a man or a
whole race, there is then no more prosperity, but all gradually goes down.
2 Samuel 4:8. Cramer: Ungodly men boast of their trickery and villainy, and
imagine they will thereby gain praise, and glory in their sin.—Berl. B.: They wish,
as it were, to spread the name of God and His Providence as a mantle over their
knavery, as bad boys are wont to do.—[Wordsworth: It has been often so in the
history of the world and of the Church, where zeal for God is sometimes a color
for worldly ambition, and an occasion for deeds of cruelty and
treachery.—Tr.].—Schlier: Where is there a human heart that knows nothing of
selfishness? O do let us recognize such an enemy in ourselves, and humble
ourselves therefor, do let us all our days fight against the enemy with real
earnestness! Either thou slayest selfishness or it slays thee, and plunges thee into
sin and shame, and thereby into ruin and damnation. It was selfishness that made
these two Benjaminites become murderers of their king.—[ 2 Samuel 4:8. Scott:
Many are conscious that they should be pleased with villainy, provided it
conduced greatly to their profit: thus they are led confidently to conclude that
others will be so too; and as numbers are rewarded for villainous actions, they
expect the same.—Tr.]
2 Samuel 4:9-11. To hate and avoid sin is to be prudent, to keep out of sneaking
ways is to build one’s fortune, and to put away from us even enticing offers that
are not in accordance with duty and the fear of God is to be sensible for time and
2 Samuel 4:9. Cramer: True Christians should commit and commend all their
affairs to God, who judges righteously; He can and will make all well, 1 Peter 2:23;
Psalm 37:5
2 Samuel 4:10. Cramer: God-fearing rulers should not bring territory and people
to them through treachery, assassination, unfaithfulness, apostasy from known
truth, hypocrisy and such like villainous tricks; for to be pious and true will alone
protect the king, and his throne is established by righteousness, Proverbs 20:28.
[ 2 Samuel 4:11. Henry: Charity teaches us to make the best, not only of our
friends but of our enemies, and to think those may be righteous persons who yet
in some instances do us wrong.— 2 Samuel 5:1. Wordsworth: And thus God
overruled evil for good, and brought good out of evil. He made the crimes of Abner,
Joab, and of the two Beerothites to be subservient to the exaltation of David, and
the establishment of his kingdom over all Israel. Thus God will make all the sins of
evil men to be one day ministerial to the extension and final settlement of the
universal dominion of Christ.—Tr.]
[ 2 Samuel 4:1. When the sudden death of one man completely disheartens a
whole people, it shows that he was a great Prayer of Manasseh, but also that the
people were already in an evil condition. And this man who seemed the prop of
everything, may have long been in fact delaying some grand Providential
[ 2 Samuel 4:4. Sunday-school address, The little lame prince. His lameness was
produced under very sad circumstances, was itself a sad calamity, and Seemed
to cut him off from a great career. Yet it afterwards preserved his life, and brought
him wealth and honor ( 2 Samuel 9.). Let us not conclude that the afflicted or
unfortunate have no future. Let us remember how often Providence turns calamity
into blessing.—Tr.]
[ 2 Samuel 4:5-12. Sunday-school address, The assassins. Describe them
walking rapidly all night along the plain of the Jordan, bearing the slain king’s
head1) Their foul deed, 2 Samuel 4:6-7; 2 Samuel 11:2) Their false pretences, 2
Samuel 4:8. 3) Their deserved and terrible fate, 2 Samuel 4:12. Reflections: The
sacredness of human life—trickery often fails—it is a shame to claim God’s
sanction for wickedness—men becoming immortal by their crimes alone.—Tr.]
[ 2 Samuel 4:9. Memory of past deliverances by the Lord. 1) Inspiring gratitude2)
Restraining from sin3) Cheering with hope. (Each may be richly illustrated by
David’s circumstances when he uttered the text).—Tr.]
[ 2 Samuel 5:4. How has David reached the throne? 1) By aspiring to it only
because divinely appointed2) By deserving it a) in what he did; b) in what he
refused to do3) By waiting for it, a) continuing patient through a long course of
trials; b) using all lawful means in his power to gain it (e. g., 25; 2 Samuel 3:20; 2
Samuel 3:36); c) preparing for it, consciously and unconsciously, learning how to
rule men, and to overcome difficulties.—Tr.]
FN#1 - 2 Samuel 4:1. Sept. (Jebosthe) and Syr. (Ashboshul) prefix the name
“Ishbosheth,” and Sept. also in the beginning of 2 Samuel 4:2. Wellhausen thinks
the omission due to the same feeling that led to the change of Eshbaal (or Ishbaal)
to Ishbosheth, namely, repulsion to a bad (idolatrous) name. But the omission
may naturally be explained as a breviloquence or ***, the context clearly fixing the
reference to Ishbosheth; similarly the Sept. inserts in this verse after Abner the
words “son of Ner.” Comp. 1 Samuel 22:7-9; 1 Samuel 22:12-13.—Tr.]
FN#2 - 2 Samuel 4:2. The brackets of Eng. A. V. may just as well be omitted,
since the Heb. regards this statement as part of the narrative, and 2 Samuel 4:4 is
as much a parenthesis as 2 Samuel 4:3.—Aq. improperly makes these men
εὔζωνοι = ‫ג׳ יאכ‬.—The notice 2 Samuel 4:2-3, is an archæological or historical
remark of the editor, not necessarily a “marginal remark” (Wellh.) that has gotten
into the text.—Tr.]
FN#3 - 2 Samuel 4:4. This verse is an explanatory historical remark; see the
Exposition. It is “too peculiar for a gloss” (Wellh.).—“Made haste” is not strong
enough for ‫ׁשֵ ׁשֶׁ ב‬, which contains the notion of “terror,” Sym. θορυβεῖσθαι Erdmann:
sie sich in der angst beeilte, Chald, Syr, Cahen, Philippson as Eng. A. V.—The
name Mephibosheth is written by Sept. Memphibosthe, by other Greek VSS.
Memphibaal. For the first part of the name no satisfactory etymology has been
found, and it is not improbably a corruption of Merib in Meribbaal, 1 Chronicles
FN#4 - 2 Samuel 4:5. Lit.: “sleeping the sleep of noon” (example of cognate
Ace.).—Instead of “about” we may render “at (or, in) the heat of the day.”—Tr.]
FN#5 - 2 Samuel 4:6. ‫יֹו לֵי‬, “hither,” which Norzius (cited by De Rossi) declares to
be the true reading. Some MSS. and printed Edd, together with Sept, Syr, Chald,
read ‫ילֹוי‬,
ֵ “behold.” (So the Chald. text of P. de Lagarde; but others have the masc.
pron. ‫יֹו ֵמי‬, “they.”)—Instead of ‫תֵה עֶׁ א‬, some MSS. and EDD. have ‫רַ מ־קֵה‬.—Tr.]
FN#6 - 2 Samuel 4:6. Two points are to be noted in the criticism of the difficult text
of 2 Samuel 4:6; 2 Samuel 7:1) the seeming repetition of the masoretic text,
double account of the murder; 2) the divergence of the Sept. in 2 Samuel 4:6
especially from the Heb. The Vulg. agrees with Sept. in 2 Samuel 4:6 a; the Chald.
and Syr. substantiate (with slight variations) the masoretic text.—The view taken
of the text will depend largely on the decision of the first point.—Some hold the
repetition in the Heb. of 2 Samuel 4:6 and 2 Samuel 4:7 to be unmeaning, and
therefore adopt the Sept, out of which they endeavor to explain the MSS. text as a
corruption (Ew, Böttch, Then, Wellh, who all differ somewhat in their restorations
of the original text). Others regard the repetition as a characteristic of Heb.
historical narration, and take the Sept. in 2 Samuel 4:6 as a corruption or an
explanatory paraphrase (Keil [who cites Königsfeld], Philipps, Erdmann,
Bib-Com.). A middle view seems preferable: the repetition seems unnecessary;
but the corruption of the Sept. text into the masoretic is improbable. It is therefore
more natural to suppose that the Heb. contains two different accounts of the same
fact put together by the editor, and that the Sept. either represents a different text
or is a corruption of the masoretic.—The following are some of the restorations
attempted. Thenius: ‫כמק ב ְֵּילֹוי‬
ֶׁ ‫תקקַ ק יֶׁ וֶׁ כק ַבמַ ק ְּׁש ֵק‬
ַ ‫כשמ ב ֵֶׁתרֵמ ֵׁש ֵטכמ‬
ֶׁ ‫רֵ ְּדמֵ קּו רֵ ֵׁשכב ּווֶׁ עֶׁ רֵי ב ֹוְּמלֵו ב ֵֶׁת‬
“and behold the female overseer of the door of the house was gathering wheat,
and nodded [slumbered] and slept. And Rechab and Baanah his brother (came)
unperceived (into the house).” But the Greek has “cleansing,” not “gathering”
wheat, and it is not easy to construct the masoretic text out of this. Böttcher: ‫ׁשׁש‬
‫ֵמ ְּק ֶׁ ּו‬
‫יֶׁ וֶׁ כֵק ֵהת יֶׁ יֵעַ ַאק ב ְֵּילֹוי ברב׳ ב ֹוְּאלֵו ברְּ ְּא ֵב ֵדי ֵיבר ְּבר ֵֵדי ֵׁש ֵטכמ‬, and behold, the portress (was)
within the house to cleanse wheat, and she had slumbered and slept; and Rechab
and Baanah had slipped through.” He introduces a verb ‫קׁשׁש‬, “to purify,” from the
Arabic, and does not account for the Heb.: “smote him in the underbody.”—Ewald
adopts Thenius’ reading except that he puts ‫ עֶׁ מ רֶׁ ַיא‬for the Heb.‫עֶׁ מ וֵ רּו‬, and
instead of ‫ מקק‬writes ‫מקמ‬. Wellhausen: ‫ׁש׳ מּו ְּקמֵ י יֶׁ וֶׁ כְּק יֵעַ ַאק ב ְְּּילֹוי‬, “and behold, the
portress of the house was stoning wheat,” where the ‫ םקמ‬makes a difficulty.—If
the suggestion made above be adopted, we may take the masoretic text as the
original (though a blending of two contemporary accounts), and then with the help
of these emendations explain the emergence of the Sept. text from it—Tr.]
FN#7 - 2 Samuel 4:8. Acc. of limit. Three MSS. prefix the prep. ‫ו‬,
ְּ “in.”—Tr.]
FN#8 - 2 Samuel 4:10. Partcp. as preposed absolute Nominative.—Tr.]
FN#9 - 2 Samuel 4:10. Lit.: “who (or, which) for my giving to him [the reward of]
tidings.” Hence three renderings: 1) “which (namely, the slaying him) was to give
him;” 2) “to whom I should have given;” 3) “who thought that I would have given
him.” The first is simplest and strongest (so Bottch, Cahen, Philipps, Keil,
Erdmann). The second is that of the Sept. and Vulg. The third is adopted by Chald.
and Eng. A. V. The Syr. has (in the simplifying style it so often adopts): “instead of
giving him.”—‫יאי‬
ֵ ‫ו‬,
ְּ “good tidings,” here stands for “reward of good tidings.”—Tr.]
FN#10 - 2 Samuel 4:11. Or: “from the land” (Böttcher, Erdmann), a more
distinctively Israelitish conception.—Tr.]
FN#11 - 2 Samuel 4:12. ‫ עֶׁ מ‬in the sense of “on, at” (ἐπί with Dat.).—Tr.]
FN#12 - 2 Samuel 5:1. Lit.: “said, saying,” at which repetition offence has been
taken, but improperly, since it is genuine Heb. (though rare), comp. Exodus 15:1;
2 Samuel 20:18.—The first word is omitted in 1 Chronicles 11:1 and in the Vulg.;
the second by two MSS, Sept, Syr, Ar. After ‫ּורדאּו‬
ְּ ‫ בֶׁש‬some MSS, Sept, Syr, Ar,
insert ֵ‫מ‬, “to him.”—Tr.]
FN#13 - 2 Samuel 5:2. Eng. A. V. is here ungrammatical. The sentence would
now more naturally read: “it was thou that leddest.”—Remove the final ‫ י‬from
‫יֵ כ ְֵּקי‬, and prefix it (as Art.) to the following word, as the masoretic note suggests.
Comp. 1 Chronicles 11:2—Tr.]
FN#14 - 2 Samuel 5:4. The “and” is found in several MSS. and VSS, a natural
FN#15 - It is necessary to supply ‫( ְּמ‬but not ‫כי־ויק‬
‫)מ ֵר‬
ְּ before ‫מ־ירּוא‬
ֵ ַ‫ו‬.
FN#16 - ‫“ = עמ‬on to,” “to.”
FN#17 - ‫ויק‬
ַ for ‫ וֶׁ עֶׁ מ‬and ‫ ְּד ֵׁשכ‬from ‫“ ׁשֵ רֵ י‬scatter” (only Hiph, Deuteronomy 32:26,
Sept. διασπερῶ αὐτούς, and so Ar, Chald.)
FN#18 - It is unnecessary (with Ges. § 121, 6, Rem1) to take ‫ יֹו לֵי‬as Pron. fem. for
masc.; we may render “hither” (Maur.), or point ‫“ ֵילֹוי‬behold.”
FN#19 - The initial ‫ יֵ כ‬introduces the discourse. The ‫ ְּר ַיא‬in the last clause=ὄτι (Ew.
§ 338 b) introducing the following words.
05 Chapter 5
Verses 6-25
2 Samuel 5:6 to 2 Samuel 14:25
David’s reign at its culmination and greatest splendor
2 Samuel 5:6 to 2 Samuel 10:19
I. Its Glorious Establishment And Confirmation
2 Samuel 5:6 to 2 Samuel 6:23
I. The victory over the Jebusites and the conquest of the citadel of Zion. 2 Samuel
6And the king[FN2] and his men went to Jerusalem unto the Jebusites, the
inhabitants of the land. Which [And they] spake unto David, saying, Except[FN3]
thou take away the blind and the lame, thou shalt not come in hither; thinking
[saying], David 7 cannot [shall not] come in hither. Nevertheless [And] David took
the stronghold of Zion; the same is the city of David 8 And David said on that day,
Whosoever[FN4] getteth up to the gutter, and smiteth the Jebusites, and the lame
and the blind that are hated of David’s soul, he shall be chief and captain.
Wherefore they said [say], 9The blind and the lame shall not come into the house.
So [And] David dwelt in the fort [stronghold], and called it the city of David. And
David built[FN5] round about from Millo and inward 10 And David went on and grew
great [David kept growing greater and greater], and the Lord God [Jehovah the
God] of hosts was with him.
11And Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David, and cedar trees and
carpenters and masons; and they built David an house 12 And David perceived
that the Lord [Jehovah] had established him king over Israel, and that he had
exalted[FN6] his kingdom for his people Israel’s sake.
13And David took him more concubines and wives out of Jerusalem, after he was
come from Hebron; and there were yet sons and daughters born to David 14 And
these be [are] the names of those that were born unto him in Jerusalem:
Shammuah15[Shammua] and Shobab and Nathan and Song of Solomon, Ibhar
also [And Ibhar] and 16 Elishua and Nepheg and Japhia, And Elishama and
Eliada and Eliphalet.
2. David’s two victories over the Philistines. 2 Samuel 5:17-25
17But when [And] the Philistines heard that they had anointed David king over
Israel, [ins. and] all the Philistines came up to seek David; and David heard of it,
and went down[FN7] to the hold 18 The Philistines also [And the Philistines] came
and spread themselves in the valley of Rephaim 19 And David enquired of the
Lord [Jehovah], saying, Shall I go up to the Philistines? wilt thou deliver them into
mine hand? And the Lord [Jehovah] said unto David, Go up; for I will
doubtless20[certainly] deliver the Philistines into thine hand. And David came to
Baal-pera-zim,[FN8] and David smote them there, and said, The Lord [Jehovah]
hath broken forth upon [broken asunder] mine enemies before me as the breach
of waters. Therefore he called the name of that place Baal-perazim 21 And there
they left [they left there] their images,[FN9] and David and his men burned them
[took them away].
22And the Philistines came up yet again, and spread themselves in the valley of
23 Rephaim. And when [om. when] David enquired of the Lord [Jehovah], [ins.
and] he said, Thou shalt not go up; but [om. but] fetch a compass behind[FN10]
them, and come upon them over against the mulberry-trees [baca-trees]. 24And
let it be, when thou hearest the sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry-trees
[baca-trees], that then thou shalt bestir thyself; for then shall [will] the Lord
[Jehovah] go out before thee to smite the host of the Philistines 25 And David did
Song of Solomon, as the Lord [Jehovah] had commanded him, and smote the
Philistines from Geba until thou come to Gazer [Gezer].
I. 2 Samuel 5:6-16. Victory over the Jebusites, conquest of the citadel of Zion, and
fixing of Jerusalem as the capital.—In keeping with the reminder of the elders that
he had before led the people out and in to battle and victory, David now proceeds
without delay to fulfil the warlike duties that devolved on him as king of Israel
against the external enemies of the kingdom; for a principal condition of the
establishment of internal unity and of the vigorous theocratic development of the
national life was the purging of the land from the still powerful remains of the
Canaanitish peoples.
2 Samuel 5:6-10. See the parallel 1 Chronicles 11:4-9. The two accounts agree
substantially; being taken from a common source, they complement and confirm
one another in particular statements, of which each has some peculiar to itself. [In
respect to these differences it is important to remember that in general “Samuel”
is more biographical and annalistic, “Chronicles” more historiographical.—Tr.]- 2
Samuel 5:6. And the king and his men went—that Isaiah, according to the
Chronicler, the Israelitish warriors who gathered around him from “all Israel,” and
were now united with his former soldiers—to Jerusalem against the
Jebusites.—This undertaking followed immediately on the anointing in Hebron,
as is evident from the statement ( 2 Samuel 5:5) that David’s reign in Jerusalem
was co-extensive with his reign over all Israel (Keil). After the word “Jerusalem,”
instead of “unto the Jebusites… saying,” “Chronicles” has: “that is Jebus, and
there (are) the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, and the inhabitants of Jebus
said to David.” Which of the two forms is nearer to the original account in the
common source must remain undetermined. [Well-hausen remarks that “the
original author would not have written ‘Jerusalem, that Isaiah, Jebus,’ but more
naturally ‘Jebus, that Isaiah, Jerusalem;’ the Chron. inserts this statement in order
to explain the transition from Jerusalem to the Jebusites—and this leads to the
further remark that the Jebusites were dwelling in the land” According to this, the
author of Chronicles (who wrote after the Exile) introduces this historical
explanation as necessary for his time.—Tr.] The Jebusites[FN11] belonged to the
great Canaanitish race ( Genesis 10:6), who dwelt, when the Israelites took
possession of Palestine, in the mountain-district of Judah by the Hittites and
Amorites (comp. Numbers 13:30; Joshua 11:3), especially at the place afterwards
called Jerusalem, and under kings, Joshua 10:1; Joshua 10:23. Neither Joshua
( Joshua 15:8; Joshua 15:63; Joshua 18:28), who conquered the Jebusites along
with other Canaanitish tribes in a battle ( Joshua 11:3 sq.), nor the children of
Judah, who only got possession of the lower city ( Judges 1:8; comp. Jos. Ant. V:2,
2), nor the Benjaminites, to whom the city had been assigned ( Joshua 18:28),
could conquer the strong citadel of Jebus on Mount Zion, which was the centre of
their dwellings spread out “in the land,” that Isaiah, around Jerusalem ( Judges
1:21; Judges 19:11 sq.). In the time of the Judges Jebus is still called “a strange
city, in which are some of the children of Israel” ( Judges 19:12). But as long as
this point was unconquered, the possession of southern and middle Palestine was
unassured; and so David’s first act was the siege and capture of the citadel.
Relying on its hitherto invincible strength, they declared that David could not get
into it; but the blind and the lame repel thee—that Isaiah, if only blind and lame
defend it, thou canst not take the citadel,[FN12] “saying” (=namely, the Jebusites
meant to say), “David will not come in hither.” Some have supposed (after
Josephus) that the Jebusites had really in derision of David put lame and blind
men on the wall, trusting to the strength of their citadel; an expression that is by
no means so strange (Then.) as that which regards the blind and lame as the
idol-images of the Jebusites, which they had placed on their walls for protection,
and had so called in order to scoff at the Israelites, who ( Psalm 115:4 sq. et al.)
described heathen idols as “blind and lame” (Cler, Luth, Wasse [de cœcis et
claudis Jebusœorum, Witt, 1721]). Would the Jebusites have used such
expressions of their gods?[FN13] This saying of the Jebusites is not found in
“Chronicles.” [Omitted in Chron. perhaps as being obscure, or else as
unnecessary to the general sense, “Chronicles” avoiding details that do not bear
on its main aim, the history of the development of the theocratic cultus.—Tr.]
2 Samuel 5:7 it is briefly remarked that in spite of this braggart reliance of the
Jebusites on the impregnability of their fortress, David took it. This old Jebusite
city and fortress lay on the highest of the hills or mountains that surrounded
Jerusalem, “Mount” Zion ( 2 Kings 19:31; Isaiah 4:5; Isaiah 29:8; Psalm 48:3),
which stretched out in the south and south-west of the city, mount Ophel and
Moriah on the east (more precisely north-east) lying opposite, separated from it by
a precipitous ravine. See more in Winer s. v. [and in the Bible Dictionaries and
books of travel; Philippson has a good description of Jerusalem in his Comm. on
this passage. It is not yet possible however to restore with precision the
Jerusalem of David’s time.—Tr.] The name “Zion” probably=“the dry mountain”
(from ‫“ אֵ כֵי‬to be dry”). [See Psalm 78:17; Psalm 105:41; Isaiah 25:5, where the
root occurs. Some take the name to mean “sunny” (Ges.), others “lofty” (Abarb. in
Philippson). The rock-formation on which the city stands is limestone.—Tr.] The
explanatory addition, “city of David,” anticipates what is narrated in 2 Samuel 5:9.
From this mountain, where David built (whence arose the city of David, that Isaiah,
the Upper City) and resided, the city extended itself northward and eastward. [The
name “City of David” was sometimes given afterwards to Jerusalem, Isaiah 29:1;
and see 1 Kings 11:43; 1 Kings 15:8 for its use as burial-place of the kings.—Tr.]
2 Samuel 5:8. “David had said,” the sense requiring the Plup. (Then.)—an
appended incident of the capture in connection with the derisive words of the
Jebusites. We must undoubtedly assume a reference to those words in the
treatment of the following difficult and variously explained saying of David. The
“blind and lame” are the Jebusites themselves, so called by David in answer to
their scornful words. We must further suppose that the assailants had a difficult
task before them, and were all the more embittered by the derisive remarks of the
Jebusites, as David’s words indicate. In the attempt to explain this obscure
passage, the principal point is the meaning of the expression ba-zinnor, ‫[ וֶׁ בֵ לֵא‬Eng.
A.V.: “to the gutter”]. Zinnor occurs elsewhere only Psalm 42:8, where the
meaning assigned by several expositors (mostly with regard to our passage),
“conduit, canal,” does not suit at all, but the connection (in which the Psalmist
speaks of the roaring of violently swelling and plunging waves) indicates the
signification to be that adopted (after Sept. καταῤῥαικταί) by Keil, Moll, Delitzsch,
and others, “cataract, waterfall.” Ewald accordingly translates: “Every one who
conquers the Jebusites, let him cast down the precipice both the lame,” etc.; and
this of all the attempts at explanation is the simplest in sense and construction,
suiting the locality also, since Mount Zion had steep declivities on the east, south
and west, which, with the opposite-lying heights, formed deep gorges. Yet it is
better with Keil to keep more strictly to the signification of the word according to
Psalm 42:8, and to take it as meaning not with Ewald the precipitous declivity of
the rock that produces the waterfall, but the waterfall itself. We are therefore not to
think of an aqueduct, by cutting off which the capture of the citadel was decided
(Stähelin), nor water pipes for carrying off the rain from the height (Vatab, Cler.),
nor gutters (Luther), nor a subterranean passage (Joseph.). But there is nothing
opposed to the supposition of a waterfall on one of the declivities. At present the
south-east part of the ridge, which slopes somewhat toward the northwest (the
ridge running from south to north) is still the point where appear the only springs in
Jerusalem, at the foot of the declivity (comp. E. Hoffmann, Das gelobte land, 1871,
p116 sq.). There is the pool of Siloah in the valley Tyropœon [cheesemongers’
valley], on the border of Zion and Moriah, which receives its water from a
lofty-lying basin hewn out of the rocky side of Zion,[FN14] into which it flows from
springs that break forth higher up. Might not this be conjecturally the precipice
spoken of in our passage, if the question of locality (a precise answer to which is
impossible) is to be raised? But in another place also, for example, on the west,
where is found the lower pool under the highest part of the northwestern corner of
Zion, there might be waterfalls which in the precipitous descent of the rocky
declivity plunged into a gorge. According to this view, David gives strict orders that
when the Jebusites are overcome in the fortress, where the space was relatively
limited, their slain should be thrown into the waterfall. He calls them “the lame and
the blind,” taking up their own words, with reference, perhaps, at the same time, to
the expression “every one that smiteth,” etc; the fallen and slain in the battle
(regarded as a victory) are to be cast down[FN15] the precipice, that the citadel may
be free and habitable for the Israelites. The next clause may be rendered “they
hate,” or “who hate,” pointing the verb as 3 plu. Perf.; the absence of the Eel. Pron.
(Keil) is not a decisive objection to this rendering; comp. Ges. § 123, 3; Ew. § 332,
333 b. But the connection and warlike tone make the marginal pointing (Pass.
Partcp.) also appropriate: “who are hated of David’s soul,” that Isaiah, hated by
David in his “soul.” Both of these admissible renderings point to the fact that the
Israelites had to maintain a furious, embittered combat with this enemy who so
confidently and scornfully boasted of his strong fortress, and they were directed to
make short work of it with the “blind and lame” in the assault, and clear the ground
of the enemy straightway. Therefore they say: Blind and lame will not come
into the house.—That Isaiah, one holds no intercourse with disagreeable, hateful
people like the Jebusites; or, with reference to the crippled condition of lame and
blind persons, the sense is: “will not get home,” like those blind and lame plunged
into the precipice and unable to get back.[FN16] “Into the house.” Some (Buns,
Then.) understand by this the temple, and assume (with reference to Acts 3:2;
John 9:1; John 8:59) an old law, forbidding the blind and the lame to enter the
temple, which law the narrator derives from this incident; but this view is wholly
without support. This explanation [Erdmann’s explanation of the whole passage]
avoids the difficulty that ensues when David’s address is taken as protasis merely,
and the apodosis supplied [as in Eng. A. V, Philippson]. Against Thenius’
rendering: “he who smites the Jebusites (paves the way to the capture of the city,
in that he first) reaches the battlements and the lame and the blind—him David’s
soul envies” apart from its unwarranted changes of text[FN17]—it is rightly remarked
by Böttcher that its tone is too modern: one cannot well think of David as showing
envy at such a military exploit (unfortunately not open to him), in order to inflame
the ardor of his warriors. Böttcher translates: “he who smites the Jebusites shall
attain the staff,” that Isaiah, become captain; against which it is to be remarked
with Thenius that he has not succeeded in showing (Zeitschr. d. morgenl.
Gesellschaft, 1857, p 541 sq.) that zinnor means “captain’s staff,” and that,
according to the unrestricting phrase “every one that smites,” David would have
had a good many staffs of the sort to bestow; and for the same reason the remark
of the Chronicler ( 1 Chronicles 11:6, which omits our 2 Samuel 5:8) that “David
announced that whoever first smote the Jebusites should be chief and captain,
and Joab won this prize,” is not to be taken as an exhibition of the sense of our
passage (against Böttcher). Maurer changes the text[FN18] and translates: “He who
has smitten the Jebusites and reached the canal, let him slay those blind and
lame,” to which the objection is the tautology in protasis and apodosis. Maurer’s
other rendering:[FN19] “whoever shall slay the Jebusites and reach with the sword
either the lame or the blind, him will David’s soul hate” [that Isaiah, as Maurer
explains, David forbids his men to slay the Jebusites with the sword, in order that
these boasters might die a shameful death.—Tr.], contains, as Thenius rightly
remarks, a contradictio in adjecto, “and David would, according to this, have
desired something impossible.” Joab, having led the stormers in the attack, was
named by David “head and prince,” that Isaiah, elevated to the rank of
general-in-chief of the whole army of Israel, which, according to 2 Samuel 2:13,
he could not yet have been. [The decisive objection to Erdmann’s rendering: “let
him cast into the waterfall the blind,” etc., is that the verb (‫ )רגע‬whether in Qal or in
Hiphil, cannot be so translated. In Qal it means only “to reach, touch, strike,” the
object reached being usually introduced by ‫;ו‬
ְּ in Hiph it means “to cause to touch,
to join, to raze,” usually followed by ‫עֶׁ מ‬,‫עֶׁ מ‬,‫ רֹו מ‬or ‫מ‬.
ְּ In the passages most favorable
to Erdmann’s rendering, such as Ezekiel 13:14; Isaiah 26:5, the object introduced
by the Prep, is that to which something is brought (corresponding to the
signification “touch” of the verb), not that into which it is cast. Similarly, for reasons
derived from the construction of the verb, we must reject the interpretation of Bib.
Com.: “whosoever will smite the Jebusites, let him reach both the lame and the
blind, who are the hated of David’s soul, by the water-course, and he shall be
chief,” which, moreover, hardly renders the ‫ ְּב‬in the first ‫( )בְּרַ ק‬it must here= “and,”
though it might as an emendation of text be omitted). The natural conception of
the passage would lead us to take zinnor as the object reached (so Eng. A. V,
Philippson, Cahen), but it is very difficult in that case to find a satisfactory
meaning for this word, or to construe the following words. Wellhausen would take
it to mean some part of the body, a blow on which or violent grasping of which
produces death, and Hitzig suggested the ear, others the throat (zinnor being
supposed to mean a “tube”); but the absolute form of the word (“let him seize the
throat”) is opposed to this rendering, and the construction of the following words
presents a difficulty, even if we suppose the ‫ רֹו ק‬to be used as equivalent to ‫ו‬.
Taking zinnor (as seems safest) to mean “channel, canal,” the whole context and
tone suggests that “the blind and the lame” is the object of the verb “smite,” or
some similar verb, and it is not unlikely that the inversion of the Eng. A. V. (though
an impossible translation of the present text) gives the general sense. The
supplying of an apodosis is harsh, but we have here only a choice of difficulties.
No defensible translation of the passage has yet been proposed, and it is natural
to conjecture that the text is corrupt, though its restoration is now perhaps
[See also 2 Chronicles 32:5.—Bib. Com. refers to Lewin’s “Siege of Jerusalem.”
p256 sq, where it is argued from the etymology and the mentions in the Bible that
the great platform, called the Haram esh-Sherif (1500 by900 feet) was itself Millo,
and Mr. Lewin thinks that Solomon’s Palace (Beth-Millo, so called from abutting
on Millo) was built on a terrace immediately below, and to the south of the
Temple-area.—Patrick: “Some take Millo to be the low place between the fort and
the city, which was now “filled’ with people.”—On the “Palace of Solomon” see
“Recovery of Jerusalem” (Am. Ed.) pp84, 91, 222, 249, and see also the remarks
on the Haram esh-Sherif.—Tr.]. According to 1 Chronicles 11:9, “Joab renewed
the rest of the city,” that Isaiah, he restored at David’s command what was
destroyed in the capture. He thus seems as “chief and captain” to have been
charged also with other than military affairs.
2 Samuel 5:10. General statement of the continuous advance and growth of
David in power and consideration. Observe, 1) how this is referred to the highest
source, not merely to God’s assistance, but to the fact that God was with him,
and2) how God is in this connection called the God of Hosts.
2 Samuel 5:11-16. David’s house. Building of a royal residence, and extension of
his family. Comp. 1 Chronicles 14:1-7.—And Hiram, king of Tyre, sent
messengers unto David.—This name is written variously, Heb. Hiram or Huram
2 Chronicles 2:2), Phœnician Hirom ( 1 Kings 5:24, 32), Sept. Χειράμ
(Cheiram), Joseph, Eiram and Eirom. That this king Hiram, who was in friendly
connection with David, is the same Hiram that was Solomon’s friend and ally, and
his helper in building the Temple and palace, is clear not only from 2 Chronicles
2:2 : “as thou hast done to David my father, (so do to me also”), but also from 1
Kings 5:15 : “Hiram had always been David’s friend.” We can neither suppose
therefore, with Ewald, that this king Hiram is the grandfather of Solomon’s friend
of the same name, nor with Thenius that his (our Hiram’s) father is here meant,
whose name according to Menander of Ephesus (in Joseph, cont. Ap. I:18) was
Abibaal, whether this be considered a surname to the proper name Hiram, or it be
held that the two persons are here confounded. The occasion to this hypothesis
has been given by the difference that exists between the Biblical chronological
statements and those of Josephus after Menander. The latter relates (Jos. ubi
sup.) that Hiram succeeded his father Abibaal, and that he died in the thirty-fourth
year of his reign and the fifty-third of his life. With this is to be connected the
statement of Josephus (ubi sup. and Ant8, 3, 1) that Solomon began the temple in
the twelfth year of Hiram. Now, according to 1 Kings 9:10 sq, Hiram was still living
after twenty years of Solomon’s reign, counting from the beginning of the
Temple-building (and therefore twenty-four years of his reign in all) had elapsed,
namely seven years for the building of the Temple ( 1 Kings 6:38, and thirteen
years for the building of the palace ( 2 Samuel 7:1). On comparing these
statements of the Bible and Josephus, it appears that Hiram reigned at the most
eight years contemporaneously with David, and that therefore David began his
palace in about the seventh year before his death, that Isaiah, in the sixty-third
year of his life, and that his determination to build a temple to the Lord (which was
after the completion of his palace, 2 Samuel 7:2) was not made till the last years
of his life. Both these conclusions, however, are incompatible with our passage
and with 2 Samuel7.; for the position of these two narratives in the connection of
the history leaves no doubt that both things belonged to David’s prime of
manhood. It has indeed been declared, in order to set aside the discrepancy, that
the Books of Samuel narrate events not so much in chronological order as in the
connection of things, and that here the building of the palace, which occurred
much later, is related in connection with other buildings (Movers, Phöniz. ΙΙ. 1, 147
sq, Rütschi in Herzog. s. v. Hiram, Stähelin, spez. Einl. 107). And in fact it must be
admitted that David’s palace-building, which must have taken time, and supposes
a corresponding period of rest and peace, probably did not (as might appear from
the narrative) follow immediately on the conquest of Zion, before the Philistine war
( 2 Samuel 5:17) which broke out as soon as the Philistines heard of David’s
anointment as king over Israel, but after this war. “The historian has rather
attached to the conquest of Zion and its choice as David’s residence not only what
David gradually did to strengthen and beautify the new capital, but also the
account of his wives and the children that were born to him in Jerusalem.” (Keil).
But though in detached instances a topical rather than a chronological
arrangement of the material is to be recognized, it is nevertheless not probable in
itself that David would have deferred the building of a royal palace till the last part
of his life; and further, this, as Winer rightly observes, would not accord with 2
Samuel 11:2, where the palace whence David sees Bathsheba is called the
“king’s palace,” which is to be understood, not of the simple house that David took
as his dwelling-place on Mount Zion immediately after its capture, but of the place
that he had had built for himself there. Comp. 2 Samuel 7:1-2. And if the affair with
Bathsheba occurred when David was an old Prayer of Manasseh, which is in itself
highly improbable, Song of Solomon, who was born a couple of years later, would
have been a little child when he ascended the throne. If David had not resolved on
the building of the Temple till in advanced life, or towards the close of his life, we
could not harmonize this fact with 1 Samuel 7:12, and 1 Chronicles 22:9,
according to which Solomon was not yet born when David received the divine
promise there mentioned. If therefore the account of the palace-building is in this
place chronologically anticipatory, the building is nevertheless not to be put
towards the end of David’s reign. We are therefore forced to assume a longer
reign for king Hiram, and to suppose inaccuracies in the chronological statements
of Josephus, as has been shown to be true in the periods of reign of the
succeeding Tyrian kings, even when he refers to Menander. See more in Movers
(ubi supra) and Keil on this verse.—[On Tyre see Movers and Arts, in Bib.
It is not said that the object of this embassy, as in Solomon’s case ( 1 Kings 9:15),
was to congratulate David on his accession to the throne (Then.), and this is
improbable from the length of time (presupposed in his purpose to build) that must
have elapsed since his accession. We should rather infer from the sending of
cedar wood and workmen along with the messengers, that David had previously
put himself in connection with Hiram, partly to maintain a good understanding with
a powerful neighbor, partly and especially to obtain the help of this king (who was
renowned for his magnificent edifices, Mov. ΙΙ. 1, 190 sq.) in his building
plans.—The eastern part of Lebanon (Antilibanus), which belonged to Israel,
produced only firs, pines and cypresses (Rob. Pal. ΙΙΙ. 723)[FN20]; the northwestern
part, which alone was covered with cedar-forests, and furnished the best cedar for
building, belonged to Phœnicia. On account of its strength, durability, beauty and
fragrance, the cedar-wood was much used for costly building and
wainscoting.—Through Tyrian workmen David began the splendid structures of
cedar in Jerusalem, which had so increased in Jeremiah’s time that he could
exclaim to the city: “Thou dwellest on Lebanon and makest thy nest in the cedars”
[ Jeremiah 22:23].
2 Samuel 5:12. And David perceived, namely, from his success externally
against Israel’s enemies and in the connection with the friendly king of Tyre, and
internally in the establishment of unity in Israel and in the execution of his plans,
that the Lord had established him King over Israel; the “established” (in
contrast with the previous divine choice of David as king and the fate of Saul’s
kingdom) refers to the divine providences, through Which, as David clearly saw,
all doubt as to the permanence of his kingdom was ended, and it immovably
established. And that he had exalted his kingdom (Chron: “and that his
kingdom was exalted on high” [I. 2 Samuel 14:2]) for his people Israel’s sake,
that Isaiah, not for the sake of the blessing that rested on his people Israel
(Bunsen), nor simply because he had chosen them (Then.), but because he
wished to rule them as his (chosen) people through David’s kingdom, glorify
himself in them and make them a great and mighty people according to his
[Patrick: Kimchi says that Sam. gives the sons of the wives only, Chron, those of
wives and concubines, which does not agree with 1 Chronicles 3:9.—It was
looked on as a piece of political wisdom in princes to endeavor to have many
children, that by matching them into many potent families they might strengthen
their interest and authority.—Tr.]
II. 2 Samuel 5:17-25. David’s victories over the Philistines, 1 Chronicles 14:8-17.
2 Samuel 5:17. And when the Philistines heard that they had anointed David
king over Israel—this was the occasion of the war. From David’s elevation to the
throne of all Israel and the consequent unification of the people, the Philistines
feared (and did their best to prevent) such increase in his power as would
endanger their power and foot-hold not only in Palestine [Israel], but also in their
own land. Hence, according to the narrative, their attack followed on the receipt of
intelligence of his anointment, which must have come on them as a surprise.
Ewald conjectures (but it is a mere conjecture, and unnecessary) that the
occasion of the war was David’s withholding the tribute that he had paid the
Philistines while he was in Hebron.—And all the Philistines marched up,
namely, from the lowlands of Judah which they held, or from their own land
against the Israelitish army (with which David had attacked the Jebusites) which
was on the mountain-plateau of Judah. As this Jebusite war followed immediately
on David’s anointment (comp. 2 Samuel 5:3; 2 Samuel 5:6), and the gathering of
all the Philistines was not the affair of a moment, it is for this reason alone an
untenable view that these two victories “probably belonged in the interval between
the second anointment at Hebron and the capture of Zion” (Keil). But the following
words: And when David heard of it, he marched down to the hold, are
decisive, for the reference (as the context shows) is here to Mount Zion, which is
mentioned just before ( 2 Samuel 5:7; 2 Samuel 5:9); and this is proved also by
the Def. Art, which (from the context) cannot refer to some other stronghold in
Judah resorted to by David in Saul’s time (so Keil, who cites 2 Samuel 23:14), but
points to the citadel of Zion which is here twice named with emphasis as the
centre of David’s position. The expression “he went down to the hold” is not
against this view; for, though the citadel of Zion was so high that one ascended to
it from all sides, yet its plateau was by no means a horizontal plain, but was made
up of higher and lower parts, and David of course made his residence on the
highest and safest part, the most favorable position for a military outlook, while the
fortifications most protective against the enemy (enlarged by him, 2 Samuel 5:9)
must certainly have lain on the relatively lower north-western side (in accordance
with their design), and with this agrees the fact that the Philistines advanced to the
attack from the west. David, accordingly, on hearing of the approach of the
Philistines, went down from his residence to the fortifications on Zion, in order to
make at this rendezvous and sally-point of his army the necessary preparations
whether for defence (Maur.) or for attack. Maurer: “David was not yet certain
whether to defend himself at the walls, or to advance to meet the enemy,” comp. 2
Samuel 5:19. There is no need, therefore, to change the text [FN21] (Syr, Mich,
Dathe) to “siege” (besiegers), the narrative giving no hint of a siege. It is by no
means sure (Then.) from 2 Samuel 23:13-14, that the hold here referred to is the
cave of Adullam; for, even if the incident here related was an episode in this
Philistine war, it may very well have occurred after David had left the citadel to
march against the Philistines, while they were encamped in the valley of Rephaim.
[Still, the impression made on us is that David went down into the plain against the
Philistines; thus in 2 Samuel 5:20 he does not go down, but comes to
Baal-perazim, as if he were already in the plain. Perhaps the editor has here
inserted a separate narrative of this war, so that the “hold” here may be different
from the “hold” in 2 Samuel 5:9. Adullam was a strong place, and was fortified by
Rehoboam ( 2 Chronicles 11:7). If we take the narrative in 2 Samuel 23:13-17 to
belong to the time of this war, it would show that David was at one time hard
pressed; but this cannot be determined with certainty.—Tr.]—The phrase: “to
seek David,” cannot prove that David had at this time not yet taken up his
residence on Zion (Keil), but only that the aim of the Philistines was to get
possession of the person of David so dangerous to them.
2 Samuel 5:18. The strategical position of the Philistines. Instead of our text-word
“spread themselves,” 1 Chronicles 14:9 has “made an inroad” (‫)ׁשיק‬. The valley of
Rephaim, according to Joshua 15:8, was a fruitful plain,[FN22] nearly three miles
long by two wide, separated from the valley of Ben-hinnom (south and southwest
of Jerusalem) by a ridge, and large enough to hold a large army in camp; it was
named after the old Canaanitish giant-tribe, the Rephaim ( Genesis 14:5). Comp.
Rob. I:365 [Am. Ed. I:219, 469], Tobl, Top. Jerus. II:401 sq, and3 Wand. 202,
Winer II:322, Thenius in Käuffer’s Stud. II:137 sq. [For various opinions see Kitto,
Porter, Bonar, Fürst.—Tr.] The Philistines had probably advanced from the west
by way of Bethshemesh (comp. 1 Samuel 6:9).
2 Samuel 5:19. David inquires of the Lord (comp. 2 Samuel 2:1; 1 Samuel 23:2), 1)
whether he shall march out against the Philistines, and2) whether he shall get the
victory over them. The expression “shall I go up?” is explained by the fact that
David has led his army down from Mount Zion, the defence of which he had first to
keep in view. He now advances to the attack from his position in the plain, which
lay lower than the Philistines, perhaps near the cave of Adullam (Then.), after
having inquired of the Lord and received an affirmative answer. He no doubt
made a sudden impetuous attack, as is clear from the meaning of the name
“Baal-perazim,” the place where he “smote” the Philistines. He said, namely
(referring the victory to the Lord according to the Lord’s answer, 2 Samuel 5:19):
“The Lord hath broken asunder (or through) my enemies before me as the breach
of waters,” that Isaiah, as a violent torrent makes a rift or breach. All other
explanations, that make the point of comparison the division of the water-mass
itself, depart from the conception of the expression, and weaken the force of the
image. The place where the battle was fought was thus called, from the way that
David won it, Water breach, “Bruch-hausen, Brechendorf” (Keil) [Breach-ham,
Break-thorpe—the Heb. name = “possessor of breaches.”[FN23]—Tr.]. It cannot
have been far from the Valley of Rephaim. In Isaiah 28:21 it is called (with allusion
to this battle) “mount” Perazim. This fills out the topographical description of the
place, and in exact accordance with the name “water-breach.” As a torrent
plunging from the mountain rends asunder everything before it, so David rushed
with his army suddenly and unexpectedly on the Philistines, from a gorge opening
into the valley of Rephaim, burst through and scattered them with impetuous and
irresistible power. Perhaps he marched northward around the position of the
Philistines, and attacked them from the rocky height (the border of the valley of
Hinnom), that bounds the valley of Rephaim on the north, comp. Joshua 15:8.
2 Samuel 5:21. And there they left their images behind, which they were
doubtless accustomed to carry with them to war, in order to make the victory more
certain.[FN24] Clericus: “as if they would feel the help of the gods more present, if
they had their statues along. Perhaps they imitated the Hebrews, who sometimes
carried the ark of God into camp.” Their abandonment of their sacred images
confirms the supposition (founded on the name of the scene of battle) that David
made a sudden attack. Chron. has (by way of explanation) “gods” instead of
“images.” According to our passage David took them away as spoil; according to
Chron, they were at David’s command burned with fire. It cannot be determined
whether this text of Chron. is an addition from another source (Movers), or taken
from the same source as our text (Keil), or an explanatory remark of the
Chronicler himself according to Deuteronomy 7:5; Deuteronomy 7:25, where the
burning of heathen idols is prescribed. Thus the disgrace of the Philistine capture
of the Ark was wiped out.
2 Samuel 5:22-25. Second invasion by the Philistines and victory over them.
2 Samuel 5:22. Their approach is described (as 2 Samuel 5:17) by the phrase:
came up. They had therefore fled as far as the lowland on the west, but, as David
had not pursued them, soon assembled again. They advance (as 2 Samuel 5:18)
to the valley of Rephaim. Chron. ( 2 Samuel 5:13) has simply: “in the valley,”
Rephaim being understood from the context, and in fact supplied by Sept, Syr.
and Arab. [Joseph, Ant. 12, 7, 14) and Gadaris (Strabo XVI:759)—an old
Canaanitish royal city ( Joshua 12:12), belonging to the tribe of Ephraim, who did
not drive the Canaanites out of it ( Joshua 16:9-10; Judges 1:29), in the south of
Ephraim (whose border passed from Lower Beth-horon over Gezer to the sea
north of Joppa), north-west of Beth-horon on the western declivity of Mount
Ephraim, where the latter sank into the Philistine plain (Plain of Sharon). Solomon
fortified it, along with other important military positions ( 1 Kings 9:15-17),
inasmuch as it formed a strong defence towards the south against the Philistines;
for “from this point an army might penetrate into the country and reach the capital
far more easily than over the mountains of Judah” (see Then. and Bähr in loco). It
is noteworthy that this place plays an important part as fortress in the Maccabean
time also, and that the route taken by Judas Maccabæus from Emmaus to Gazer
( 1 Maccabees 4:15) and from Adasa to Gazer ( 1 Maccabees 7:45) is the same
as this, namely, the north-westerly. Comp. v. Raumer, p191, and his map. For the
Geba, from which David pursued the Philistines, is not = Gibeon (according to the
inexact reading of Chron, which constantly changes the Gibeah of First Samuel
into Gibeon, Stähelin, Leben Davids 38), which is adopted by Movers, Then, Keil,
Dächsel—nor = Gibeah, whether Gibeah in Judah ( Joshua 15:57), 8–10 miles
south-west of Jerusalem (Bertheau, Stähelin), or Gibeah of Samuel (Cler, Budd,
O. v. Gerlach), neither of which could here come into consideration as a military
position—but it is the place known from 1 Samuel 13:15-23 as the
camping-ground of Saul and Jonathan, on the southern border of the WadyEsther -Suweinit, opposite Michmash (now Mukhmas) which is on the northern
border of the Wady, where Rob. found a place Jeba (with ruins) still existing.
Comp. Isaiah 10:29. See Rob, Bibliotheca Sacra, 1844, p598, and v. Raumer,
196, Furrer, Wanderungen, 212–217, Fay [in Lange’s Biblework] on Joshua 18:24.
The battle therefore passed from the valley of Rephaim on the west of Jerusalem
about nine miles northward to the plateau of Geba, where the Philistines vainly
tried to make a stand, and, having the deep gorge of Michmash before them, took
a north-westerly direction towards Bethhoron and Gezer. Here the pursuit ceased,
because the Philistines were driven into the plain, and no danger could be
apprehended from them. According to Joseph. (Ant. 7, 41) Gazer was then their
extreme northern limit. On the great extension of their power northward comp.
Stark, Gaza, 170.—[Gibeon (instead of Geba) is here preferred by many critics,
because Gibeon lies more nearly on the road from Rephaim to Gezer; but the
pursuit may easily have gone first north to Geba and then west to Gezer, as
Erdmann points out. It is not to be expected, however, that we can settle with
absolute certainty these minute geographical points.—The phrase: “till thou come
to Gezer,” does not necessarily mean: “up to Gezer,” but, like the similar
expression: “as thou goest,” may = “on the way to.” See on 1 Samuel 27:8.—Tr.]
In reference to the chronological relation of the account here, 2 Samuel 5:17-25,
and that in 1 Chronicles 14:8-17 it is to be remarked that the two differ, in that the
former puts these victories without further statement in the beginning of David’s
government over all Israel, the latter in the interval between the unsuccessful and
the successful attempts to remove the Ark. “Whether this exacter statement of
time is correct cannot be determined with certainty” (Stähelin, ubi sup., p37).
1. In his first royal deed of arms David, by a victory over the last Canaanites of any
power that were left, completed the conquest of the land for the Lord’s
covenant-people, and thus concluded the military work that was first entrusted by
divine command to Joshua ( Joshua 1:1-9), but had been completed neither by
him, nor by the Judges, nor by Saul. The result of this first exploit against the
Jebusites was the firm establishment of the royal rule in the strongest position and
in the centre of the land.
2. In David’s person and government the Covenant-God, the King of His people,
takes His royal seat on Mount Zion, and the city that David builds there is (with old
Jerusalem under Zion) called, as being the theocratic dwelling-place and holy city
of God, the “city of the great King” ( Matthew 5:35). In the historical books the
“City of David” ( 2 Samuel 5:9) always has the narrower signification of the old
Upper City or David’s city, being used only in poetry of the whole city ( Isaiah 22:9;
comp. Isaiah 31:1) while according to 1 Kings 8:2; 2 Chronicles 6:2; 1 Chronicles
15:1; 1 Chronicles 15:29; it is distinctly differenced from Jerusalem as a whole. So
“Zion” in the historical books means originally only Mount Zion, on which the city
of David lay, but is used by Poets and Prophets for Jerusalem in general, in
allusion to its character as God’s royal dwelling-place and throne (see Arnold,
“Zion” in Herzog XVIII, Hupfeld in Zeitschr. d. deutsch. morgenl. ges. XV, p224,
Rem67). From the time of David’s making his residence on Mount Zion dates in
the theocratic language of the Old Covenant the terminology of God’s royal
dwelling and enthronement in the midst of His people on His regnal seat, “Mount
Zion.” See Psalm 3:5, 4]: “He hears me from His holy mountain.” Psalm 9:12, 11]:
“Sing ye to the Lord, who is enthroned on Zion.” Psalm 15:1; Psalm 24:3; Isaiah
8:18; Joel 4:16, 21, and other passages. “Zion” is the royal seat of the future
Anointed of the Lord, of whom David with his theocratical kingdom is the type, and
concerning whom the promise in 2 Samuel7 comes to him, the fulfillment of which
is the matter of the prophetic declaration in Psalm 2, 89, 110. Mount Zion is the
geographical-historical symbol of the dominion of the Messiah to be sent by God
to His people, and of the extension of the Messianic kingdom of God from this as
centre. Hengstenberg on Psalm 2:6 : “Zion, the holy mountain of the Lord, is the
fitting seat for His king; for as after David’s time it was the centre of Israel, so is it
destined to become some day the centre of the world, for from Zion goes forth the
law and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” ( Isaiah 2:3).
3. The military stamp of the first part of David’s reign is the pre-indication of the
military character of the whole of it. That the theocracy in Israel may be developed,
he purges the land of the remains of the heathen, extends the borders of Israel,
and secures for the people the possession of the land and the maintenance of
their boundaries by mighty victories over all their enemies. In the Psalm of David
we hear the echo of this warlike and victorious theocracy. They are mostly songs
of conflict and victory in praise of the God who saved His people from their
enemies. Psalm 9. may serve as an example of them all, much of it corresponding
with David’s experiences in these first wars and victories, though it cannot be said
that it was composed with special reference thereto.
4. Several prominent features characteristic of the prophetical-theocratical
historiography appear in this section (which embraces the elevation of David to
the throne of Israel, his wars against internal and external enemies): 1) the
relation between king and people is described as essentially a covenant before
the Lord ( 2 Samuel 5:3); 2) it is declared to be the task and calling of the
theocratic king to be shepherd and captain of the people ( 2 Samuel 5:2); 3) the
reference of all the king’s successes to the highest and last source, the God of
Sabaoth, who was with him, whereby all his own human merit is excluded ( 2
Samuel 5:10); 4) the conception of all these events whereby David’s kingdom was
confirmed and recognized even by the powerful heathen king of Tyre, through
whose friendly relations with David it was exalted and honored at home and
abroad, as ordinations of God, the object of which was to establish David’s
kingdom as a divine institution, and give him the assurance that he was confirmed
by the Lord immediately as king over Israel ( 2 Samuel 5:12); 5) the repeated
exhibition of David’s humble subjection of his will to the will of God, which he
seeks and asks after, that he may have a sure path in what he is to do, which path
the divine answer shows him ( 2 Samuel 5:19; 2 Samuel 5:23); and6) the express
declaration of David’s unconditional active obedience to the Lord’s will, which is
revealed to him in a definite Yes and No ( 2 Samuel 5:25).
5. All the powers and goods of the world which have their origin in the might and
goodness of God, are employed by Him also for the ends of His wisdom in the
government of His kingdom of grace (which is founded on His positive
self-revelation) and of His people. The help of the heathen king in David’s
Zion-buildings (and so in Solomon’s Temple) sets forth the great truth that all the
art and treasures of the lower, natural world are to be subservient to the higher
world, which has entered humanity through the kingdom of God, and to contribute
to the glorification of the name of God. Bähr on 1 Kings 5:15-18 : “Israel was
destined not to foster the arts, but to be the bearer of divine Revelation, and to
secure for all nations the knowledge of the one living and holy God; thereto had
God chosen this people out of all peoples, and therewith is closely connected its
manner of life and occupation, yea, its whole development and history. To the
attainment of this its destiny the other nations had to contribute with the special
gifts and powers which had been lent them. Israel, in spite of faults and errors,
stood as high above the Phœnicians in the knowledge of the truth, as they above
Israel in technic and artistic performances (comp. Duncker, Gesch. u. Alterth.,
p317–320); distinguished as was Phœnicia for arts and industries, its religion was
nevertheless the most perverted and its cultus the rudest (Duncker, ubi sup., 155
2 Samuel 5:6-9. The stronghold[FN25] on Mount Zion: 1) How it is gained: a) by holy
war against the enemies of God’s kingdom; b) by holy victory, which God
vouchsafes2) How it is maintained: a) in defiance of God’s enemies, and b) as a
reliance for God’s friends.
2 Samuel 5:10-12. The true kingdom by the grace of God: 1) It is firmly founded
through the Lord’s power; 2) It grows and prospers under the Lord’s blessing; 3) It
renders subservient to itself the Lord’s enemies; 4) It serves the Lord in the Lord’s
2 Samuel 5:12. The true salutary relation between government and people rests
on two things: 1) That the people recognize the authorities as set over them by
God’s grace, and honor them2) That the authorities regard themselves as
constituted by God only for the people’s welfare, and fulfil their calling to that end.
2 Samuel 5:17-25. The war-counsel from on high: 1) How it is inquired after—by
looking above2) How it is imparted—by the voice from above3) How it is carried
out—by help from above.—Victory comes from the Lord: 1) When it is beforehand
humbly asked for according to the Lord’s will and word; 2) When the battle is
undertaken in the Lord’s name and for His cause; 3) When it is fought with
obedient observation of the Lord’s directions and guidance.
The Lord will go out before thee ( 2 Samuel 5:24): 1) A word of consolation in sore
distress; 2) A word of encouragement amid inward conflict; 3) A word of
exhortation to unconditional obedience of faith; 4) A word of assurance of the
victory which the Lord gives.
The rustling of the Lord’s approaching help in the tops of the trees ( 2 Samuel
5:24): 1) Dost thou wait for it at His bidding? 2) Dost thou hear it with the right
heed? 3) Dost thou understand it in the right sense? 4) Dost thou follow it without
2 Samuel 5:6-9. Krummacher: David dwells now in Mount Zion, the crown of the
land, and from here on begins the history of Jerusalem, which as the history of a
city has not its like in grandeur, in change of fortunes, and in importance for the
whole world.—Now exalted to heaven, now cast down to hell, thrice destroyed to
the foundations and always rising again from the ruins, now given up to the
heathen, plundered, covered with shame, and then again crowned with the
highest honors, the city stands on its seven hills amid the cities of the earth as a
high seven-branched candlestick, from which shines forth into the world both the
consuming flame of God’s holiness and justice, and the mild and blessed light of
the divine long-suffering, love, compassion and covenant-faithfulness.
2 Samuel 5:6 sq. S. Schmid: In that which God has commanded, we must not look
to what others have done before us, but to God’s command ( 1 Samuel
15:22-23).—Schlier: The Lord, who delivered Jerusalem’s stronghold into David’s
hand, still lives to-day, and will, so far as it is good for us, always help us still in
every time of need, and well is it for all them that trust in Him.
[Henry: Those that have the Lord of hosts for them need not fear what hosts of
men or devils can do against them. Those who grow I great must ascribe it to the
presence of God with them, and give Him the glory of it.—Tr.]—Berl. Bible: The
world thinks little of it when it is said, God be with a man. But it is assuredly no
trifle, it is the greatest of all things, for one to have with him the God of all the
hosts of heaven and earth.—Krummacher: O blessed is the man on whose heart
nothing so presses as this, that in all his doings he may be with God and God with
2 Samuel 5:11. Cramer: A glorious testimony that even the heathen will serve
Christ.—Starke: God knows how to incline towards pious rulers the minds of
neighboring princes and kings, so that they may show them all friendly good-will
( Proverbs 21:1)
2 Samuel 5:12. J. Lange: Great lords exist for the sake of their subjects, not these
for their sake: O that the fact might be recognized!—[ 2 Samuel 5:13-16. Scott:
Alas! even good men are apt to grow secure and self-indulgent in prosperity, and
to sanction by their example those abuses which they should oppose or repress;
and all our returns for the Lord’s mercies are deeply tinged with ingratitude.—Tr.
2 Samuel 5:17. Schlier: Then might David clearly enough see that there is
appointed to man no true resting-time upon earth. David’s life was a warfare, and
from one strife it went on into another, and when he thought to have found rest,
then battle and strife began anew. Our life upon earth is not yet the resting-time;
what awaits us is strife and warfare.—Cramer: The pious never cease to
encounter opposition; therefore whoever wishes to be pious, let him prepare for
this ( Luke 14:28).—Krummacher: The old enemy of Israel stood again in arms
upon the plain. God the Lord knows how to mingie always with the
encouragements which He gives His friends so much also of the humbling as
suffices to secure them against the danger of losing their equilibrium.
2 Samuel 5:19 sqq. Schlier: Whatever we undertake then, we must look to the
Lord in beginning it, and it should be to us a matter of earnest concern that we
may really have the Lord’s word and will on our side.—So long as we have a good
cause, we too may comfort ourselves with the help of the Lord; but what does it
help if we pray and have a bad cause, or use God’s word, and yet do not walk in
the Lord’s ways! God’s word and prayer make no bad cause good, but help only
when we undertake a good, God-pleasing work. And there is one more thing we
must not overlook if we wish really to have the Lord’s help, namely, that we must
be acting only and entirely for the Lord’s cause and honor. How did it stand,
properly speaking, between Israel and the Philistines? On the one side was the
Lord, and on the other the idols; there was the Lord’s people, and here an
idolatrous or heathen people. So the conflict was the cause of the Lord; the Lord’s
name and kingdom was in question; David’s defeat would have been the Lord’s
defeat; a victory for David was the Lord’s victory.
2 Samuel 5:20. Berl. Bible: David will not agree that the honor of the victory which
he has gained by the help of God’s goodness shall be ascribed to him, but rather
to God.—Cramer: Believers when they have been rescued from distress should
heartily thank God for it, and recognize that the victory comes from Him; for He
fights for His Church ( Psalm 50:15; Psalm 115:1).
2 Samuel 5:21. Berl. Bib.: Men do not commonly let their idols go until they have
been smitten by God, and do not quite let them go even then.
2 Samuel 5:23-25. Krummacher: It rustles in the tops of the baca-trees, as if an
invisible host were passing over them. We know what this meant for him. Nothing
less than what was once meant for Jacob by his dream of the heavenly ladder, for
Moses by the burning bush that was not consumed, for Elijah by the still, small
voice on Horeb, and for Saul by the light which shone round him from heaven.
The Lord was near and would go out for him.—Berl. Bible: God Himself gives to
those who tranquilly trust in Him to know His will, and also places them in a
position to be able to carry it out.—Krummacher: The word of the Lord: “As soon
as thou shalt hear the rustling in the tops … bestir thyself,” applies figuratively to
us also in our spiritual conflict with the children of unbelief in the world. There too
it comes to nothing that one should make war with his own prowess and merely in
the human equipment of reason and science. Success can only be reckoned on
when the conflict is waged amid the blowing of the Holy Spirit’s breath and with
the immediate gracious presence of the Lord and of the truth of His word.—[Henry:
But observe, though God promised to go before them and smite the Philistines,
yet David, when he heard the sound of this going, must bestir himself, and be
ready to pursue the victory. God’s grace must quicken our endeavors. Philippians
[ 2 Samuel 5:6-7. Men are prone to rely on strong fortifications, so as to feel no
fear of successful attack, and no need of help from God. So at a later period the
men of the southern kingdom were at ease in this same Zion, and those of the
northern kingdom trusted in the mountain of Samaria, which was also a very
strong place, and neither Judah nor Israel felt that their help came from Jehovah
( Amos 6:1-8). The same principle applies as to all reliance on mere human
agencies, without recognizing our dependence on God; for example, on religious
societies and boards, eloquent preachers, active pastors, famous revivalists,
beautiful houses of worship, etc.—Tr.]
[ 2 Samuel 5:12. A good man in great prosperity. 1) He ascribes it all to the Lord2)
He regards it as given him for the benefit of his fellow-men. (This is the text of
Maurice’s Sermon on “David the King,” see “Prophets and Kings of the Old
[ 2 Samuel 5:17 sqq. The Philistines could conquer Saul, who had been forsaken
by God for his disobedience; but they only stimulate David to fulfil his divine
calling ( 2 Samuel 3:18), and to seek divine guidance ( 2 Samuel 5:19).—Tr.]
[ 2 Samuel 5:24. In like manner, when we perceive signs of the Spirit’s special
presence among us, we should bestir ourselves to secure the blessed
[Chap5. King David’s first years of sunshine. After struggling through so many
years of darkness, he now gains1) a new crown, 2 Samuel 5:1-3; 2 Samuel 2) a
new capital, 2 Samuel 5:6-9; 2 Samuel 3) a new palace, 2 Samuel 5:11; 2 Samuel
4) new victories over the old enemy, 2 Samuel 5:17-25; and in them all, 5) new
proofs of Jehovah’s favor, 2 Samuel 5:2; 2 Samuel 5:10; 2 Samuel 5:22; 2
Samuel 5:19; 2 Samuel 5:24.—Tr.]
FN#2 - 2 Samuel 5:6. Instead of “king” we find “David” in several MSS, in Sept,
and in 1 Chronicles 11:4, and “king David” in Syr, Ar.; we can feel the differences
that these readings make in the tone of the narrative, but it is hardly possible to
decide which of them is original.—Tr.]
FN#3 - 2 Samuel 5:6. Eng. A. V. has here unnecessarily inverted the clauses;
read: “thou shalt not come in hither except, etc.;” so Sym, Chald, Syr, Vulg,
pointing ‫ יֶ ֵמ ְּכאה‬as Inf. But others point it Perf. plu. ‫ יֶ ֵמכאר ה‬and render: “thou shalt not
come in hither, but (‫)רמ יכ‬
ֵ the blind and the lame will keep thee away” (Sept, Then,
Böttch, Wellh, Bib. Com, Erdmann and others), which rendering (making “the
blind and the lame” the subject of the sentence) Philippson declares to be
unnecessary and ungrammatical. The sentence presents serious grammatical
difficulties: on the one hand the ‫ ֵרמ יֵ כ‬requires a finite verb after it (when a noun
follows it, it is always as object of a preceding verb, which the Inf. cannot here be),
on the other hand the verb should here be Impf. (Philippson’s difficulty is not
serious). The difficulty might be removed by prefixing ‫ ו‬to the Infin. (so Symm,
Chald.), or by reading Perf 2 sing. masc. ‫( יֶ ֵמכא ֵּוק‬so Syr, Vulg.
perhaps).—Wellhausen thinks the subjoined explanation (“saying, David shall not,
etc.”) unnecessary (the meaning being clear enough), and therefore hardly
original, perhaps a marginal gloss; but it is not merely a repetition, since it puts
absolutely what was before put as conditional.—Tr.]
FN#4 - 2 Samuel 5:8. In this sentence there are three points of difficulty: 1) the
construction of ‫ ְּב ֵכםֶׁע‬, whether it is to be joined to the preceding protasis, or
regarded as beginning the apodosis, that Isaiah, whether the whole sentence is to
be taken as protasis, the apodosis being omitted (so Then, Philippson, Cohen,
Eng. A. V, which supplies the apodosis from 1 Chronicles 11:6), or as containing
protasis and apodosis (so Böttch, Ew, Erdmann). 2) The pointing and construction
of ‫שררב‬, and3) the meaning of ‫אֵ לֵא‬. For the discussion see the Exposition.—Tr.]
FN#5 - 2 Samuel 5:9. Read after Sept. ֵ‫“ בֶׁשֵ ְּורַי‬built it” (so Wellh.).-From “Millo” Aq.
has ἀπὸ πληρώματος, Sym. ἀπὸ προθἐματος (Jerome says that Sym. and Theod.
had adimpletionem), Sept. ἀπὸ τῆς ἄκρας.—Tr.]
FN#6 - 2 Samuel 5:12. ‫ רֵ ֹושר‬Piel 3 sing. masc.; 1 Chronicles 14:2 ‫רֵ ֹוֵּׂרק‬, Niph 3
sing. fem. According to Wellh. the final ‫ ק‬in Chr. represents the first ‫ ד‬in the
following word in Sam. Which reading is original can hardly be determined.—Tr.]
FN#7 - 2 Samuel 5:17. 1 Chronicles 14:8 : “And went out before them (= against
them.).” The Chr. omits the details of the movement, but this does not show that
he could not reconcile the “went down” of Sam. with the preceding (against
Wellh.). Nor is there any good reason why the same narrator should not apply the
same word (‫עּומק‬
ֵ ‫“ ְּד‬hold”) to two different places in consecutive paragraphs. It is a
common noun, and moreover the use in 2 Samuel 5:9 is defined in 2 Samuel 5:7
by the phrase “of Zion.”—Tr.]
FN#8 - 2 Samuel 5:20. Baal perazim = “possessor (= place, margin of Eng. A. V.
plain) of breaches.” Sept. ἐκ τῶν ἐπάνωδιακοπῶν = ‫דמעמ‬,
ֵ etc. Aq. ἔχων διακοπάς.
The point of the comparison seems to be not the dividing of waters (Sept. ὡς
διακόπτεται ὕδατα. Vulg, sicut dividuntur aquœ), but the violent rending asunder
by a torrent of water—Tr.]
FN#9 - 2 Samuel 5:21. Aq. τὰ διαποδήματα. Sym. τὰ γλυπτά, Sept. τούς
θεούς.—Instead of “took them away,” Eng. A. V. has taken the text of 1 Chronicles
14:12 “burned them,” supposing perhaps that this was the true explanation of our
text. The meaning here rather is that David carried off the images, either to
destroy them, or to bear them in triumph. The margin of Eng. A. V. has “took them
FN#10 - 2 Samuel 5:23. Instead of ‫ רַ מ־רֶׁ ׁשֶׁ ֹואכיַ מ‬some MSS. and EDD. and Syr, Ar.
have ‫דרֶׁ ׁשֶׁ ֹואכיַ מ‬,
‫ ֹו‬which does not change the sense. In a few MSS. the Prep. is
omitted, as in 1 Chronicles 14:14. The difference between the texts in Sam. and
Chr. is obvious, perhaps in the latter an attempt at greater clearness; the meaning
is the same in both. It is not necessary to supply anything here after “go up”
(‫)קעֶׁמַ י‬,
ֶׁ since the word implies “going to meet.”—Tr.]
FN#11 - Heb. “Jebusite” (‫)כְּור ֵםכ‬, poetically individualizing Sing. for Plu. “Inhabitant”
(‫)כביו‬, the proper, aboriginal people. [The Sing, is not poetic, but collective; see its
use in Genesis 10:16; Genesis 15:21; Numbers 13:29 : Judges 19:1 [—the name
of the tribe as an individual.—Tr.] So the verb ‫ בֶׁשרדַ א‬is Sing.
FN#12 - ‫ ֵרמ יֵ כ‬after a negation = “but,” Ew. §356 a. The ‫ יֶ ֵם ְּכאה‬is not Inf, but Perf,
expressing a complete action. The Sing, is used because it precedes the subject
(Keil, Ew. §119 a). But we may with Then, point it as Plu. ‫( יֶ ֵםכאר ה‬comp. Genesis
1:28; Isaiah 53:3-4, where also ‫ ּו‬has fallen out). ‫“ = רֹו רד ּוא‬namely.” [On the
grammatical difficulties here see “Text, and Gramm.” The sense, however, is
tolerably plain.—Tr.]
FN#13 - According to the Midrash (Targ. and Pirke Eleazar36) the images of the
blind Isaac and the lame Jacob are here meant, Abraham having agreed with the
Jebusites ( Genesis 23.) not to lay claim to their city. See Patr. and Philipps.—Tr.]
FN#14 - Instead of “Zion” we should here read “Moriah.” See Art. Siloam in
Smith’s Bib. Dict.—Tr.]
FN#15 - The verb is to be pointed as Hiph. ‫“ כםע‬cast down.”
FN#16 - Or because they are poor defenders (Philippson).—Tr.]
FN#17 - He changes ‫ וֶׁ אֵ לֵא‬into ‫וֶׁ ֵהרֵק‬, and ‫ יררב‬into ‫“ = לְּ רֵק‬envies him.”
FN#18 - He reads ‫ ֶׁכיַי‬instead of ‫בְּרַ ק‬.
FN#19 - Following Sept. ἐν παραξιφίδι (Hesych.—ἐν μαχαίρᾳ) he reads ‫ וֶׁ בּוא‬for
‫וֶׁ בֵ לֵא‬, referring to Psalm 89:44 ‫ׁשַ ַאו אּוא‬.
FN#20 - See Am. Ed. of Rob. III:441, 485, 489, 491, 547, 548,420; also II:437,
438, and for the cedars II:493, III:588–593; see also Articles in the Bible
Dictionaries and later books of travel, as Thomson’s Land and Book, 1.
FN#21 - ‫אּואי‬
ֵ ‫ ְּד‬instead of ‫אּואי‬
ֵ ‫ד‬.
FN#22 - See Stanley’s “Sinai and Pal.,” App. § 1.—Tr.
FN#23 - Or, possibly “lord (= God) of breaches.” Comp. Genesis 22:14; Genesis
16:13 (El-roi).—Tr.]
FN#24 - So the Edomites, 2 Chronicles 25:14. The heathen idols were carried off
with impunity—not so the Ark of God (Pat.).—Tr.]
FN#25 - There is here an allusion to Luther’s famous hymn, Ein’ feste Burg ist
unser Gott.—Tr.]
06 Chapter 6
Verses 1-23
III. Solemn transfer of the Ark of Mount Zion and establishment of regular divine
2 Samuel 6:1-23
1Again David [And David again[FN1]] gathered together all the chosen men of
Israel, thirty thousand 2 And David arose and went with all the people that were
with him from Baale of Judah, to bring up from thence the ark of God, whose
name is called by the name of the Lord of hosts that dwelleth between the
cherubims [which is called by the name of Jehovah of hosts who sitteth on the
cherubim].[FN2] 3And they set [transported] the ark of God upon a new cart, and
brought it out of the house of Abinadab that was in Gibeah [on the hill]; and Uzzah
and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drave [led] the new cart 4 And they brought it out
of the house of Abinadab which was at Gibeah [on the hill] [om. And …
Gibeah][FN3] accompanying [with] the ark of God, and Ahio went before the ark 5
And David and all the house of Israel played before the Lord [Jehovah] on all
manner of instruments made of firwood [with all their might, with songs][FN4] even
[and] on harps [lyres] and on psalteries and on timbrels and on cornets [sistra]
and on cymbals.
6And when they came to Nachon’s[FN5] threshing-floor, Uzzah put forth his hand to
the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen shook it 7 And the anger of the Lord
[Jehovah] was kindled against Uzzah, and God smote him there for his error;[FN6]
and there he died [he died there] by the ark of God 8 And David was displeased
because the Lord [Jehovah] had made a breach upon Uzzah; and he called the
name of the [that] place[FN7] Perez-uzzah to this day 9 And David was afraid of the
Lord [Jehovah] that day, and said, How shall the ark of the Lord10[Jehovah] come
to me? So David would not remove the ark of the Lord [Jehovah] unto him into[FN8]
the city of David, but David carried it aside into the house of Obed-edom the
Gittite 11 And the ark of the Lord [Jehovah] continued in the house of Obed-edom
the Gittite three months; and the Lord [Jehovah] blessed Obed-edom[FN9] and all
his household.
12And it was told king David, saying, The Lord [Jehovah] hath blessed the house
of Obed-edom and all that pertaineth unto him, because of the ark of God. So
[And] David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom 13
into the city of David with gladness. And[FN10] it was so [it came to pass] that when
they that bare the ark of the Lord [Jehovah] had gone six paces, he sacrificed
oxen and fatlings 14 And David danced before the Lord [Jehovah] with all his 15
might; and David was girded with a linen ephod. So [And] David and all the house
of Israel brought up the ark[FN11] of the Lord [Jehovah] with shouting and with the
[om. the] sound of the [om. the] trumpet.
16And as the ark of the Lord [Jehovah] came into the city of David, Michal, Saul’s
daughter, looked through a [the] window, and saw king David leaping and dancing
before the Lord [Jehovah]; and she despised him in her heart 17 And they brought
in the ark of the Lord [Jehovah] and set it in his [its] place in the midst of the
tabernacle that David had pitched for it; and David offered burnt-offerings[FN12] and
peace-offerings 12 before the Lord [Jehovah]. 18And as soon as David had made
[And David made] an end of offering [ins. the] burnt-offerings and [ins. the]
peace-offerings, [ins. and] he blessed the people in the name[FN13] of the Lord
[Jehovah] of hosts 19 And he dealt among [dealt out to] all the people, even
among [to] the whole multitude of Israel, as well to the women as [ins. to the] men,
to every one a cake of bread and a good [om. good] piece of flesh[FN14] and a
flagon of wine [a raisin-cake]; so [and] all the people departed every one to his
20And David returned to bless his household. And Michal, the daughter of Saul,
came out to meet David, and said, How glorious was [om. was] the king of Israel
[ins. made himself] to-day, who uncovered himself to-day in the eyes of the
handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly[FN15]
uncovereth himself! 21And David said unto Michal, It was [om. it was] before the
Lord [Jehovah] which [who] chose me before thy father and before all his house,
to appoint me ruler [prince] over the people of the Lord [Jehovah], over
Israel—therefore will 1 play22[yea, I have played] before the Lord [Jehovah]. And
I will yet be more [be yet more] vile than thus, and will be base in mine own sight;
and of the maid-servants 23 which [whom] thou hast spoken of, of them shall I be
had in honor. Therefore [And] Michal the daughter of Saul had no child [FN16] unto
the day of her death.
[Parallel with 2 Samuel6 Isaiah 1Chr13, 15, 16—Tr.]
2 Samuel 6:1. Assembly of all the chosen men in Israel.—“David assembled.”[FN17]
Thenius renders: “and David increased again all the chosen men;” but against this
is that nothing has been before said of the numbers of the army (as the “again”
would then imply), and that such a completely isolated statement of the
augmentation of the standing army would be very strange, [and further this
rendering would not agree with the expression “all the chosen men.”—Tr.].—The
ancient VSS. all have: “assembled.”—The expression “all the chosen men” can be
understood (as in Judges 20:15; 1 Samuel 24:3) only of the military men chosen
expressly for service of war, not of a chosen body identical (according to 1
Chronicles 13:1-5) with the captains of thousands, etc., that Isaiah, with the
representation of the nation in stocks and families (Keil), for the term “chosen”
(‫ )לֵׁשּוא‬could not be so employed. And for this reason the word “again” cannot refer
to the non-military assembly of the Elders in 2 Samuel 5:1; 2 Samuel 5:3, against
which further Isaiah, that David did not convoke that body, while it is here said that
“David again gathered,” and that that assembly lay too far back of the two
gatherings of the military population for the Philistine wars described just before
[ch5]. Rather the “again” refers to this latter assemblage of the military men, which
is obviously presupposed in the immediately preceding narrative. Thus 2 Samuel
6:1 by the “again” and the “all the chosen men” connects itself immediately with
what precedes, while it introduces what follows: for why should David not have
brought up the ark with an army of thirty thousand men (against Thenius)? The
exhibition of such military pomp accorded perfectly with the importance of the ark
for the whole people, whose elite in these “hearts of oak” [Germ. kernel- or
core-warriors] (Ew. Gr. § 290 c) the more appropriately took the first place in the
solemn procession, since it was their victory over the Philistines that made the
transference of the ark possible. Besides, a military escort might be necessary to
guard against a new attack of the enemy.—We learn from this “that David already
in a certain sort maintained a standing army” (Then.).—The Sept. has seventy
instead of thirty thousand, supposing, no doubt, that the whole military force of all
Israel was here assembled, a supposition that is excluded by the phrase “chosen
men.” [The consultation of David with the leaders in 1 Chronicles13, and the
assembling of “all Israel” (that Isaiah, probably, through its representatives) is not
inconsistent with the statement here. The Chronicler brings out prominently
details of organization, especially religious, “Samuel” gives the simplest historical
2 Samuel 6:2-10. David’s march to fetch the ark from Kirjath-jearim.
2 Samuel 6:2. And David went with all the people that were with him.—These
are not the above-named thirty thousand chosen warriors, but, besides them, the
representatives of the whole nation gathered to the festival, as described in 1
Chronicles 13:1-14, where nothing is said of a military body, while here in our
passage the preliminary conference with the heads of families is passed over, and
only a summary statement made in reference to the accompaniment of the ark by
the people. The expression “from Baale” is strange, since nothing has before
been said of David’s going thither. But we cannot make the Prep. (‫)דמ‬
ֵ = “to”
(Dathe), nor regard the phrase as definitive of the preceding “all the people,” as
do the ancient VSS. (Sept. “of the rulers of Judah,” Vulg. “of the men of Judah,”
and so Luther “of the citizens of Judah”)—the latter view is untenable because the
designation of place presupposed in the expression “from thence” would then be
wanting. From what follows “Baale-Judah” can be nothing but the place
Kirjath-jearim (comp. 1 Chronicles 13:6) whither the ark was carried according to
1 Samuel 6:21; 1 Samuel 7:1, = Kirjath-baal, Joshua 15:60; Joshua 18:14; Baalah,
Joshua 15:9; 1 Chronicles 13:6. This original Canaanitish name continued along
with the Israelitish. See Joshua 18:14, “Kirjath-baal, that Isaiah, Kirjath-jearim, the
city of the children of Judah;” to this last name answers here Baale-Judah,
whereby this city is distinguished from others of like name, Baal or Baalah in
Simeon ( Joshua 19:8; 1 Chronicles 4:33) and in Dan ( Joshua 19:44). It lay on
the border between Judah and Benjamin, westward on the border of the latter
tribe and about eight miles west of Jerusalem [identified by Rob. with the modern
Kuryet el-Enab or Abu Gosh, on the road from Jerusalem to Jaffa.—Tr.].—Since,
now, the Prep. “from” cannot well be taken (with Keil) to be an ancient clerical
error, we may either suppose that the writer here gives a very condensed
narrative, not mentioning David’s march to Baalah, because he took it for granted
in relating what was to him the chief matter, the bringing of the ark thence (Kimchi,
Maurer), or, if such a condensation seems too hard, we must suppose a lacuna in
the text. Thenius thinks it probable that it originally read “to Kirjath-jearim of the
citizens of Judah,” = “children of Judah,” Joshua 18:14 (‫ )ו׳ כעֵ ֶׁאכמ ֵקאכֵק‬and the two
first words except the last letter (‫ )ד‬have fallen out. This, as explaining how the
Prep. (‫)דמ‬
ֵ came into the text, seems better than the conjecture of Lud. Capell. (Crit.
Sac. I:9, § 8), who supplies the words of 1 Chronicles 13:6 “to Baalah, to
Kirjath-jearim, which is to Judah,” or that of Bertheau (and Ewald) “Baalah, it (‫)יכר‬,
is K, which is to Judah.” [It seems a difficulty in the way of Thenius’ ingenious
restoration that the word ‫ וֶׁ עֶׁ מ‬in the sense of “citizen, inhabitant” is found only with
names of cities, not of countries. This, if correct, will also set aside Well-hausen’s
explanation of the Prep. (‫)דמ‬,
ֵ that it arose from a misunderstanding of, ‫וֶׁ עֶׁמֹו‬, which
was taken = “citizens or inhabitants.” Perhaps the ‫ ד‬is clerical error for ‫מ‬, the two
letters being not very unlike in their ancient forms.—Tr.]. To bring up thence the
ark of God.—The rest of the verse is descriptive of the “ark of God,” but opinions
vary as to the exact sense. The rendering (connecting ‫ רֶׁ ַיא‬with ‫)עֵ מֵ כב‬: “on which
(ark) the name, the name of Jehovah … is called” (Keil) or “called on” (De Wette),
has against it that “there is no example of so many words between the Rel. and its
complement” (Then.), and the strangeness of this repetition of the “name” [which
is written twice in the Heb.—Tr.]. The translation: “which (ark) is called the name”
(Kimchi, and also Bunsen: which is called by name [whose name is called] …), is
untenable because the ark itself is never so called; equally insufficient is Keil’s
explanation of his translation: “over which the name of Jehovah is named,” that
Isaiah, above which Jehovah reveals His glory, for the verb “is called or named”
must be referred not to Jehovah, but to the human naming” of Jehovah’s name.
Also to Ewald’s view, who refers the Relative to “God,” and translates “He was
named with the name” (Gr. § 284 c) the twice-recurring “name” is an objection. It
is better, therefore, to render (with Cler, Maur, Then, Berth.): “where the name of
the Lord of hosts … is invoked” (reading ‫ ֵימ‬for ‫)ימ‬.
‫ ֹו‬Usually indeed the verb “call”
is followed by the Prep. ‫( ְּו‬in, on) when it means “invoke,” but it is found without
this Prep, Psalm 99:6, and Lamentations 3:55; and though there was no
invocation of the Lord’s name at the ark itself (since none was permitted to
approach it), yet the place where it stood was doubtless a place of divine
worship.[FN18] “Who is enthroned on the Cherubim,” that Isaiah, is present with His
ruling power in the midst of His people; the expression is never used except in
relation to the ark; see on 1 Samuel 4:4. “Who is enthroned on the Cherubim
above it[FN19] (the ark).” [On the text of this verse see “Text. and Gram.—Tr.].
2 Samuel 6:3 sq. “Set it on the cart.”[FN20] A “new cart” must be taken, because the
sacred vessel was not permitted to come in contact with anything already
desecrated by common use, comp. 1 Samuel 6:7. “And brought it out;” according
to the above translation (“set”) there is no need of rendering this verb as Pluperf.
“had brought” (Then.).—Carrying the ark on a cart was contrary to the legal
requirement ( Numbers 7:9), according to which it was always to be borne by the
Levites. “The Hebrews here probably imitated a Phœnician or Philistine custom.
The Phœnicians, namely, seem to have had sacred carts, on which they carried
about their gods (Münter, Relig. der Karthager, p120), and the oxen were sacred
to Baal (p15).” (Stähl, David p39). See 1 Samuel 6:7. Out of the house of
Abinadab on the hill, comp. 1 Samuel 7:1 sq. According to this passage
Abinadab’s son Eleazar was entrusted with the oversight of the ark; here we find
“Uzza and Ahio” mentioned as Abinadab’s sons, and as driving the cart in charge
of the ark. The ark had been about seventy years in Abinadab’s house, twenty
years up to the victory of Ebenezer ( 1 Samuel 7:1 sq.), forty years under Samuel
and Saul, and about ten years under David. Thus the statement that Uzza and
Ahio led the ark may (as Keil remarks) be explained without difficulty. “Either
these two sons were born about or after the time that the ark was deposited in his
house, or the word ‘sons’ is used in the wider sense of ‘grandsons,’ as is often the
case” (Keil).—Text-criticism of 2 Samuel 6:4. By the mistake of a transcriber,
whose eye wandered at the words ‫ריגֵ כמ‬
‫ רֹו ק־י׳ ֶׁ ּו‬back to ‫רַ מ־ע׳ ׁשֶׁ ֵמ ֵיי‬, the words from
‫ ימ׳‬to ‫ וֶׁ רֵ לְּ עֵ י‬were repeated, and are to be omitted. Only thus is the omission of the
Art. in the second ‫ ׁשמ׳‬to be explained. [That Isaiah, omit the “new” at the close of
2 Samuel 6:3, and in 2 Samuel 6:4 omit the first clause ending with “Gibeah.”
Some read 2 Samuel 6:4 thus: “and Uzza went with the ark of God, and Ahio (or,
his brother) went before the ark,” which gives a good sense. The whole verse is
omitted in Chron. See “Text. and Gram.”—Tr.]
2 Samuel 6:5. Whilst Ahio went before the ark, and Uzza went alongside it ( 2
Samuel 6:6)—perhaps in 2 Samuel 6:4 the words “and Uzza went” have fallen out
before “with the ark of God” (De Wette, Then, Buns.)—the whole procession,
David at the head, moves forward with music, song and dance. The whole house
of Israel, see 2 Samuel 6:1-2. Before the Lord, whose presence was symbolized
by the ark itself. “Sporting,” that Isaiah, playing (see Judges 16:25) and dancing
(see 2 Samuel 6:14). The Heb. word (‫אֶׁ ׁשֹו ק‬,‫)יׁשֹו ק‬
ֶׁ is the general expression for
dancing in its connection with vocal and instrumental music, 1 Samuel 18:7; 1
Samuel 21:11; 1 Chronicles 13:8; 1 Chronicles 15:29; Jeremiah 30:19; Jeremiah
31:4; Proverbs 8:30 sq.—The words of the Heb. text “with all manner of
cypress-woods” make no sense; for what signifies the mention of the material, of
which the instruments were afterwards made? The Sept. and Vulg. (ἐν ὀργάνοις
ἡρμοσμένοις) “with fitted instruments,” in omnibus lignis fabrefactis “with all
manufactured woods”) presuppose indeed this reading; but the Sept. has also
another reading “with might and with Song of Solomon,” to which answer the
corresponding words in Chron. ( 2 Samuel 6:8): “with all their might and with
songs.” [This reading of Chron. is now generally adopted here, though not by the
Jewish expositors Philippson and Cahen, who retain the text of “Samuel.”—Tr.]
With the expression “with all might” comp. 2 Samuel 6:14 : “and David danced
with all (his) might.” On the connection of song with festive dance and
instrumental music see on 1 Samuel 18:6-7. The timbrel (tabret, hand-drum ‫)תֵף‬
or Aduffe [Arab, and Pers. duff or diff, Span. adufe] was used by the virgins to give
the time in dancing.—The menana [incorrectly “cornet” in Eng. A. V.] is an
instrument that gave forth a melodious tone when shaken to musical time (from,
ֶׁ‫“ רּוע‬to shake”), the sistrum (σεῖστρον) of the ancients.—“Cymbals,” smaller or
larger metal-plates, which when struck together gave a clear sound. [FN21] Chron.
has “trumpets” in place of “sistra;” the two accounts are doubtless mutually
complementary (Keil). [On these instruments see the Bib-Dicts.—Tr.]
[Bib-Com.: the word reach is so used in Eng. without a following hand.—Tr.]. Uzza
reached out to the ark of God and took hold of it, namely, to keep it from falling
over or down; for the oxen shook, jostled it (‫;)י ְּדקּו‬
according to the usual
signification of the verb,—not “ran away” (Ges. Dietr.), or “had gotten loose” (De
Wette), nor “had thrown it down” (Böttch, Then.), since according to the narrative
Uzza wished to save it from falling by laying hold of it. Ewald: “they jostled the ark
so that it seemed about to fall off.” [The Acc. Pron, not expressed in the Hebrews,
is easily supplied from the connection.—Tr.]
2 Samuel 6:7. “God smote him for the error.” [Erdmann thus agrees in this
translation with Eng. A. V, Abarb, Philipps, Keil, Chald.; the difficulty is stated in
“Text. and Gram.” Some render “for his rashness,” some “unawares,” and others
adopt the reading in 1 Chronicles 13:10. Consult Kennicott’s “Dissertation,” p456,
Levy’s Chald. Dict. s. v. ‫י ֵמכ‬,
ְּ Wellhausen’s “Text Samuelis.”—Tr.]. The error
consisted in touching the ark, which as the symbol of God’s presence ( 1 Samuel
4:7), none could look at ( Numbers 4:20; 1 Samuel 6:19), much less lay hold of,
without peril of life. For transportation, therefore, it was first covered up by the
Levites to whom it was committed (especially the Kohathites, Numbers 7:9), and
that with faces covered ( Numbers 4:15; Numbers 4:20), and carried on staves
which constantly projected ( Exodus 25:14-15).—Instead of this brief statement of
the offence, Chron. has the descriptive periphrasis: “because he had put out his
hand to the ark,” which is followed by Syr. and Arab. A suddenly fatal apoplectic
stroke was the natural means of the manifestation of the divine anger at Uzza’s
violation of the majesty of the holy God symbolized in the ark of the covenant.
2 Samuel 6:8. “And David was angry that the Lord had made a breach (or inflicted
a stroke) on Uzza;” not “was amazed (confounded),” for the verb is always used of
anger, the angry person being introduced with the Prep. ‫ =[ ְּמ‬to], 2 Samuel 19:43;
1 Samuel 15:11; Genesis 18:30; Genesis 18:32; Genesis 31:36. The cause of his
anger or angry excitement is not the deed of Uzza, but the deed of God, the
slaying of Uzza, in so far as he was obliged to look on himself as the cause of this
punishment through his non-observance of the legal prescription concerning the
transportation of the ark; for the ark was to be borne, not ridden, and touching it
was forbidden on pain of death ( Numbers 4:15). “To this day” this name had
continued the only one in use in commemoration of this occurrence, [that Isaiah,
up to the writer’s time, which was at some considerable remove from the event
referred to.—Tr.].
2 Samuel 6:9. While David is angry at this justly-incurred misfortune, his heart is
filled with fear of the Lord. How shall the ark of the Lord come to me?—This
question indicates the ground and object of David’s fear of the Lord; in view of
what had happened on the touching of the ark, he feels himself guilty before the
Lord and unworthy of His presence; he fears to be similarly stricken, if he now
bring the ark to him into Zion.
2 Samuel 6:10. The procession was broken up, and the effort to bring the ark to
Zion abandoned; he carried it aside into the house of Obed-edom the
Gittite.—Obed-edom, a Levite of the stock of the Korahites, which was a branch
of the family of Kohath ( Exodus 6:16; Exodus 6:18; Exodus 6:21), a “son of
Jeduthun” ( 1 Chronicles 16:38), appears afterwards as a porter in Jerusalem,
and also acts as musician in the transference of the ark ( 1 Chronicles 15:18; 1
Chronicles 15:21; 1 Chronicles 15:24; 1 Chronicles 16:5). He is called “Gittite” not
from a former protracted residence in the Philistine city Gath (Vatabl.), but from
Gath-Rimmon, the Levitical city in Dan. (Cler.), Joshua 21:24; Joshua 19:45,
where he was no doubt born. Since he was of the Korahites, who were porters
during the march through the wilderness, we can the more readily understand
how the ark was carried to him. [If Jeduthun is the same as Ethan (comp. 1
Chronicles 15:17; 1 Chronicles 15:19 with 1 Chronicles 16:41-42; 1 Chronicles
25:1; 1 Chronicles 25:3; 1 Chronicles 25:6; 2 Chronicles 35:15) then Obed-edom,
the son of Jeduthun, was a Merarite. There may, however, have been several of
the name. 1 Chronicles 25:15 is supposed by some to establish the identity of our
Obed-edom with the Jeduthunite, though this cannot be said to be certain. If the
two are the same, it is suggested that, “though a Merarite by birth, marriage with a
Kohathite would account for his dwelling in a Kohathite city.” The question can
hardly be certainly decided. His name is peculiar, apparently = “serving (servant
of) Edom.” It is suggested (Wellh.) that Edom is here the name of a god, to which
the objection is that there is no trace elsewhere of such a deity, the name
occurring only as a gentilic one, and in connection with Esau. It having been
shown by Erdmann that the man Obed-edom was a Levite, it may be surmised
either that he was a foreigner adopted by marriage into the tribe of Levi, or, more
probably, that Hebrews, or some ancestor of his, had once been in servitude to
the Edomites.—See Bib-Com. in loco.—Tr.]
[ 1 Chronicles 13:14; 1 Chronicles 15, 16]. Transference of the Ark from the house
of Obed-edom to the City of David.
2 Samuel 6:11 sq. Three months the Ark remained in the house of
Obed-edom.—After the words “with the house of Obed-edom,” Chron. has “in its
house,” “in order to maintain the dignity of the sacred vessel” (Then.). The
blessing on Obed-edom’s house and possessions (comp. Jos. Ant. 7, 4, 2)[FN22]
“for the ark of God’s sake,” that Isaiah, by reason of God’s gracious presence in
His majesty and glory, forms the contrast to that other revelation of God’s anger
[against Uzza] and to David’s fear of misfortune and destruction from the
presence of the ark, and now becomes the occasion of David’s resolution to bring
the ark to himself to Mount Zion. After the words ( 2 Samuel 6:12): “because of the
ark of God” the Vulg. has: “and David said, I will go and bring back the ark with
blessing into my house,” which is an explanation of what precedes in reference to
Obed-edom’s experience of blessing, as motive for bringing back the ark.
[Well-hausen: “This addition in the Vulgate of1590, which pragmatically connects
the two facts which in the masoretic texts are merely collocated, does not belong
to Jerome—see Vercellone in loco. It is found also in several Greek MSS. Against
Thenius.”—Tr.]. Chron. ( 2 Samuel 15:1) connects this narrative with the
preceding (the palace-building, 2 Samuel 14:1 sq.) by the remark that David,
while building houses in Jerusalem, prepared a place for the ark of God and
pitched a tent for it. And David went and brought up the ark of God from the
house of Obed-edom (which was not necessarily near Perez-Uzza, but lay
perhaps on the outskirts of the Lower City) into the city of David “with gladness,”
in glad procession, with festive joy, comp. Genesis 31:27; Nehemiah 12:43.
2 Samuel 6:13. Since bearers of the ark are spoken of, it appears that David now
observed the prescription of the Law. In 1 Chronicles 25:2 sq. David declares that
no one should bear the ark but the Levites, because they were thereto chosen by
God. The former procedure is thus expressly recognized as illegal (comp.
Numbers 1:40; Numbers 4:15; Numbers 6:9; Numbers 10:17). In Chron. we then
find ( 2 Samuel 6:2-13) the king’s consultation with the priests and Levites about
the legal performance of the solemn act of bringing up the ark, and ( 2 Samuel
6:14 sq.) David’s further regulations concerning the singing and instrumental
music in the procession.—And when the bearers of the ark of the Lord had
made six steps, he sacrificed (caused to be sacrificed) an ox and a fat
calf.—De Wette renders wrongly: “And it came to pass, as often as they went six
steps, he sacrificed;” the Heb. would not allow this rendering (it must then be
‫ ב ְֵּיכֵי‬... ‫ ְּבזֵוֶׁ ׁש‬, Böttch.), and what a monstrous representation: such an offering every
six steps! The meaning is that David, having arranged and started the procession,
introduced and consecrated it with a sacrifice. “It was a thank-offering for the
happy beginning and a petition for the prosperous continuation of the undertaking”
(Böttch.). The halt after six steps is therefore not a “surprising fact” (Then.), nor
need we suppose that the bearers stood “a long time” with the ark on their
shoulders. The offering of seven bullocks and seven rams, which according to
Chron. ( 1 Chronicles 15:26) was made by the Levites, was not the same with this,
but a concluding thank-offering for the happy completion of the undertaking with
the Lord’s help (comp. 2 Samuel 6:12). [So also Patrick and Keil regard the
sacrifice in 1 Chronicles 15:26; but it seems clear from the context that the same
offering is here intended as in our passage, for the solemnity is not completed till 2
Samuel 6:15. It is no objection to this that David is the offerer in the one and the
Levites in the other (Patr.), for David may have used the Levites as sacrificers (as
Erdmann intimates); nor does the apparent difference in the animals make a
serious difficulty, for the terms in “Samuel” may be collective, see Genesis 32:6
(so Eng. A. V.), Chron. simply supplying the exact Numbers, the special term
“bullock” of Chron. may be included under the general “oxen” of “Samuel,” and the
“rams” under the somewhat indefinite “fatlings” (so Sept. and Vulg.). Or, if it be
difficult to take the second word (‫)ד ֵאכר‬
ְּ as collective, we may suppose a difference
in the figures in the two accounts, such as is not infrequent.—Tr.].
2 Samuel 6:14. And David danced with all his might before the Lord.—The
verb (Pilp. of ‫י ֵֶׁאא‬, only here and 2 Samuel 6:16) = “to hop, spring, dance in a half
circle,” comp. the similar word for “camels, dromedaries” (‫)יֵ ְּאלֵאבק‬. Dances on
festive occasions, as in thanksgiving for deliverances ( Exodus 15:20), for victory
( Judges 11:34; Judges 21:19; 1 Samuel 18:6) were commonly performed by
women alone. The expression “with all his might” sets forth the high degree of
David’s joyful excitement, comp. 2 Samuel 6:5. “Before the Lord,” that Isaiah,
before the ark of the covenant as the symbol of the presence of the Lord as the
king of His people.—Girded with a (white) linen ephod.—As elsewhere the white
ephod was worn only by priests as a sign of their priestly character ( 1 Samuel
22:18), there was a special significance in David’s wearing the priestly dress now;
it lay, however, not in a desire on his part to represent himself, in honor of the Lord
as head of the priestly people of Israel, but partly in the general priestly character
that the kingly office of David and Solomon still continued to maintain at the head
of the people, partly in David’s priestly procedure in this festivity; Hebrews, as it
were, performed the functions of a priest (Thenius), not merely in blessing the
people ( 2 Samuel 6:18), but also in conducting the whole procession and
arranging the sacrifice. While the Chronicler gives elaborate information
respecting the dress of David and the Levites, our narrator here confines himself
to the statement that David was clothed with the white ephod. On the other hand,
David’s dancing is omitted by the Chronicler, not because it offended him from a
priestly point of view (for he alludes to it in 2 Samuel 6:16, and mentions it 2
Samuel 13:8 in agreement with 2 Samuel 6:5), but because he here wished to
bring out with special prominence the ritualistic side of the ceremony, for which
the priestly dress was important. (See Keil in loco.) [It is suggested by some (see
Bib. Comm.) that the first clause of 1 Chronicles 15:27, “and David was clothed
with a robe of fine linen,” is merely another form (possibly a corruption) of the text
of “Samuel,” “and David danced with all his might,” especially as this same 2
Samuel 6:14 mentions the linen-ephod also. The Heb. letters in the two clauses
are sufficiently alike to permit one to be derived from the other, and the context in
Chron. is not against such a supposition. But it is impossible to say whether the
one text is to be derived from the other, or, under such a supposition, which is the
2 Samuel 6:15. Comp. 1 Chronicles 15:28, where the names of the several
instruments are given. Here we have briefly with shouting and sound of
trumpet.—The Chron. draws full accounts from the common source, our author
gives a summary statement. [On religious dances among the Egyptians, Greeks,
and Romans, see Wilkinson’s Ancient Egyptians, Smith’s Dict. of Greek and
Roman Ant., Arts. Chorus and Saltatio, and comp. Art. Dance in Smith’s Bib.
2 Samuel 6:16. Michal[FN23] is expressly called Saul’s daughter, not thereby to
characterize her as lacking in true-hearted piety (Keil), but to distinguish her in
comparison with David’s other wives, as highest in position. She looked through
the window—that Isaiah, holds herself aloof from the procession,[FN24] and
criticises David’s conduct (as her remark proves) with a cold heart which had no
part in his and the people’s joyous inspiration. When she saw the king leaping
and dancing (Chronicl.: dancing [= leaping] and playing), she despised[FN25] him
in her heart—despised him on account of his presumed degradation of himself,
to the shame of his royal dignity ( 2 Samuel 6:20).
2 Samuel 6:17. The tent that David pitched for the ark being merely a covering on
poles without a firm structure of boards, could have been only temporary, since
David had the purpose to build a permanent sanctuary, a “house” to the Lord
(chap7). Set it in its place in the midst of the tent.—That Isaiah, in the space
marked off according to the tabernacle which still stood in Gibeon, in the Holy of
Holies. The burnt-offerings and thank-offerings that David now offered referred to
this provisional sanctuary, and served to consecrate it. Of course he made the
sacrifices not in his own person, but through the priests.
2 Samuel 6:18. The offerings being ended, he blessed the people in the name
of the Lord of Sabaoth.—The blessing was not the Aaronic ( Numbers 6:22 sq.),
which pertained only to the high-priest, but (like Solomon’s, 1 Kings 8:55) a
concluding benedictory address to the whole people. “The name of the Lord of
Sabaoth” is the essential being of God, as it was exhibited in the fulness of all His
revelations to His people. The benedictions find their fulfilment only in this
self-revelation of God to His people as their source, which is at the same time the
pledge for the fulfilment.
2 Samuel 6:19. The entertainment of the people. Each one, men and women,
received a “bread-cake” (‫ׁשֶׁ יֶׁ ק = יֵ יֶׁא‬, 1 Chronicles 16:3), a round cake, such as
was baked for sacrificial meals, comp. Exodus 29:23 with Leviticus 8:24 sq.
Eshpar [Eng. A. V.: good piece of flesh] occurs only here, is not = “piece of
flesh,”[FN26] but probably to be derived from a verb “to measure” (Aeth. ‫יהא‬, De
Dieu, Gesenius, Rödiger, De Wette), and = a “measure of wine,” which would not
be too hard a suppletion [would not be supplying or understanding too much]
(Thenius). The third term [Eng. A. V.: flagon of wine] means raisin-cake, or a
mass of dried grapes pressed into a cake (Ges.), comp. Song of Solomon 2:5;
Hosea 3:1.—Thereupon the people returned home.—In like manner David,
having finished the offering and the entertainment, returned to his house to
bless it ( 2 Samuel 6:20 a)—that Isaiah, to invoke on his house the blessings he
had pronounced on the people, and (having finished this sacred act) to place it
under the protection and blessing of the Lord, of whose presence in his house the
ark standing near in the tent was the symbol. The close of verse19 and the
beginning of verse20 are given at the end of the narrative, 1 Chronicles 16:43.
2 Samuel 6:20-23. Michal’s pride and David’s humility.
2 Samuel 6:20. And Michal came to meet David.—The words here added by the
Sept.: “and greeted him” are an insertion, which there is no ground for putting into
the Hebrew text. How glorious did the king of Israel make himself
to-day!—This bitterly ironical address with which David, returning joyfully to bless
his house, is received by Michal, is the outburst of her wicked feeling ( 2 Samuel
6:16). Who uncovered himself to-day in the eyes of the handmaids of his
servants.—That is: exposed, degraded himself, obviously alluding to the fact that
David had exchanged the royal robes proper to such an occasion for the light,
comparatively short sacerdotal dress. She blames him not so much for dancing as
that in such a procession and in such attire, forgetting his royal dignity, he mingled
with the common people and put himself on a level with them. As one of the vain
fellows uncovers[FN27] himself.—“Worthless, bad fellows” (‫)אכק‬
‫ ֹו‬as Judges 9:4;
Judges 11:3; Proverbs 12:11; Vulg.: “buffoons” (scurris), Sept.: “dancers”
(ὀρχουμένων), which is an explanation instead of a translation. Observe the
twofold definition of the degradation: “in the eyes of the maids of his servants”
over against the reference to the king of Israel.
2 Samuel 6:21. David’s answer.—Before the Lord who chose me …… and I
have played before the Lord.—We have here an anacolouthon, the long Rel.
clause “who chose … Israel” breaking the connection, which is then restored by
“and [or yea] I have played,” the phrase “before the Lord” (which stands at the
beginning) being resumed. [On this verse see the English translation and “Text.
and Gram.”—Tr.] After the words “before Jehovah” Sept. inserts “I will dance;
blessed be the Lord,” and after “and I have played” [which it renders “I will play”]
has “and I will dance,” in order thus to relieve the anacolouthon, and to introduce
the “dancing,” which (though the object of Michal’s blame) is strangely omitted [in
the Heb.] in David’s reply. In answer to Michal’s cutting irony, which regards
David’s conduct merely from the point of view of its accordance with the dignity of
“the king of Israel,” and characterizes it as common and low, he affirms two things:
1) that in his procedure he had an eye only to the glory of God, and that it must
therefore not be condemned as common and low, but rather recognized as holy
and well-pleasing to God; and2) that he received his kingdom and his position as
king of Israel through the Lord’s choice and command. He had therefore acted not
counter to, but in accordance with this royal dignity, in that he gave the honor to
the Lord, who had raised him from lowliness to this height. The expression “before
the Lord” derives a very strong emphasis from its position at the beginning and at
the end, and, thus repeated, indicates the holiest and highest point of view
whence (in opposition to Michal’s profane utterance) his procedure in this festival
is to be judged and estimated. Before thy father and before his whole house
says David, in order to repel the charge that he had thus lowered the royal dignity
which had passed to him from Saul and his house, thus pointing also to the cause
of the rejection of Saul and his house, namely, such haughtiness and pride as the
“daughter of Saul” had here exhibited.
2 Samuel 6:22. “And I will be yet more vile.” Instead of this Sept. has the
nonsensical rendering: “and I will still thus uncover myself” (‫ !)םֵמֵ י‬The less reason
then for changing the Heb. “in my eyes” into the Sept. “in thy eyes.” Certainly
David did not lower himself in his own eyes, that Isaiah, in his own judgment, by
his playing and dancing (as Thenius, contrary to the text-reading, remarks)—not
in the sense of Michal’s charge; yet he did lower or humble himself in his own
eyes in the sense that he expresses in 2 Samuel 6:21, where he describes his
conduct as a self-abasement before the presence of the Lord. “In comparison with
this” (that Isaiah, with this abasement before the Lord) he continues: And I will be
held (= become) yet more vile (Niph. = Qal. as Genesis 16:4) in my eyes.—That
Isaiah, in my own judgment will humble myself yet more than to-day. The
expression “in my eyes” cannot be explained as = I will suffer still greater
contempt from men than what I have just experienced.” And with the maids, of
whom thou hast spoken, with them will I be held in honor.—Ewald’s
explanation: “should I seek honor from them? no, that is not at all necessary” falls
to the ground, since Michal’s assertion that he had gotten himself honor was not
serious, but ironical. Thenius: “of the maids shall I be held in honor” [so Eng. A.
V.]—that Isaiah, they, the simple souls, will know better than thou how to estimate
my humility, and this will compensate me for thy foolish contempt. But this latter is
an interpolated thought, which would be farthest from David’s soul at this moment
of extreme humility before the Lord, and would savor of Michal’s ideas about
human honor. The “honored” here (obviously contrasted with Michal’s “honored,
made glorious,” 2 Samuel 6:20) refers (as is clear from the throughout recurring
words, “before the Lord”) to the honor in the sight of the Lord, which will be given
those who humble themselves before the Lord. David, having opposed to Michal’s
“in the eyes of the maids” his “in the presence of the Lord,” places himself “before
the Lord” on the same level with the maids, expressing by the repeated “with” his
fellowship and equality with these humble folk, and pointing to the honor which he
with them would have before the Lord, because he humbly showed due honor to
the Lord. [The objection to this interpretation is that we should then expect David
to say “I will (or shall) be honored by Jehovah,” that Isaiah, the subject or agent of
the honoring must be expressed, and is given in the text only by the word “maids.”
The Hebrew Prep, may mean “among” or “before” (apud), and thus permits the
translation of Eng. A. V, Patr, Then, Philippson. Besides, in reply to Michal’s sneer
about the maids, it is a natural and sharp rejoinder on David’s part to accept this
honor which she regards as beneath contempt.—Tr.]
2 Samuel 6:23. Michal’s childlessness is specially mentioned as a punishment of
her pride. This was the deepest humiliation for an oriental woman. [For a vivid
description of the scenes of this chapter see Stanley’s Jewish Church, Second
Series, p89–98, Lect23 (Am. Ed.).—Tr.]
1. It was not till David had taken Jerusalem from the Jebusites, made Zion his
capital and secured it by his victories from Philistine attacks, and thus for a short
time at least secured peace, that he could proceed to the holy work that he
completed in bringing the ark to Zion, and that was of great importance for the
religious life of the nation. This act had its root in David’s truly pious feeling, was
the living expression of his gratitude to the Lord for His favor, and aimed at the
elevation and concentration of the religious life of Israel. It needed a new elevation,
since under Saul it had partly at least sunk down from the height to which Samuel
had brought it, and fallen into a somewhat brutalized condition. The royal house
itself, whose influence on the people was so great, had more and more lost living
piety; the spirit of pride reigned in it, as Michal (who was herein very like her father)
plainly shows here in her bearing towards David; it is a significant fact that in her
father’s house she has an idol-image. The religious-moral life of the nation fell of
necessity into more and more thorough dissolution, the longer Saul’s
persecutions of David continued and the external unity established by Samuel
was destroyed by the wars between Saul and David, and by partisan oppositions.
When, now, David by establishing his theocratic kingdom over all Israel had
restored the external (national and governmental) unity, he made an important
step further, by the act recorded in this chapter, towards elevating and sanctifying
the inner life of his people; he laid the deepest foundation for their internal unity by
again concentrating their religious life on its centre and source, namely, the
dwelling of God in the midst of His people, symbolically set forth in the ark. “In
Saul’s time it [the ark] had not been sought after” ( 1 Chronicles 13:3); the centre
of divine service that it indicated had been lost. Now David gathers the
representatives of the whole nation around him, in order at the head of the nation
solemnly to restore to the centre of the national life the long-vanished sanctuary,
and to renew the religious unifying of the people, especially in regard to divine
service, about the kernel and star of the innermost life. By the transference of the
ark to Zion Jerusalem, representing the national and political unity, becomes now
the centre of religion and divine service for the national life. The account in Chron.
supplements our history in regard to the part taken by the priests, the divine
service and the ordination of the sacred service before the ark (chs 13, 15, 16).
With this was connected the restoration of the unity and arrangement of the
priestly service and of the duties of divine service. This unity indeed does not yet
reach a complete external representation. There continue to be two holy places;
the ark remains apart from the old tabernacle, which abode with the altar of
burnt-offering at Gibeon, where also the offerings still went on ( 1 Chronicles
16:39; comp. 1 Kings 3:4). There the high-priest Za-dok officiates, the son of
Ahitub, of the family of Eleazar, who performs the legal regular sacrificial service
at the tabernacle ( Leviticus 17:3). But beside him we find a second high-priest in
that Abiathar (of the family of Ithamar), who escaped from Nob to David ( 1
Samuel 22:20), had remained with him, and now resided with the sanctuary on
Zion (comp. 1 Kings 2:26); so the two are named together in 2 Samuel 20:25; 1
Chronicles 18:16. This double high-priestship, which had arisen from the
separation of the tabernacle and the ark, was the reason why David permitted this
separation to continue, and did not remove the Mosaic tabernacle also to Mount
Zion, since he could remove neither the one high-priest nor the other from his
office. We see also two sacred tents, besides the old one at Gibeon a new one
pitched by David over the ark. While the sacrificial service is still continued in
Gibeon according to the Law ( 1 Chronicles 16:40; comp. 1 Kings 3:4), a sacred
service is established by David at the ark also; ibid. 2 Samuel 6:37 sq.—But in
spite of this still continuing external dualism, there was after the institution of the
sacred service on Zion an internal unity (through the establishment of regular
divine service) such as did not exist before. The tent which is pitched on Zion, is
provisional, and points like the old tent, which in the march through the wilderness
and in the time of the Judges was the symbol of a provisional arrangement, to a
central sanctuary to be erected, the founding of which David has in mind, but
cannot yet execute ( 2 Samuel 7). But in this provisional, personal state of the
religious life which in its two principal seats is unified, purified and arranged, the
sanctuary in Jerusalem steps into the central point of the religious consciousness
both for David and for the whole people, while the sanctuary in Gibeon retires into
the background, as is especially evident from the fact that the tabernacle is never
mentioned in the Psalm. Comp. Hengst. Gesch. d. R. Gottes [Hist. of the kingdom
of God] II, p 122 sq.
2. The significance of this narrative (of the transference of the ark to Jerusalem
and David’s conduct therein) for the apprehension and representation of the
theocratic royal office in his person, is first to be considered on the one side in
relation to God, and on the other side in relation to the people. The content of his
consciousness as king is simply this one thought of the dependence of his
kingdom for its dominion on the royal rule and might of the covenant-God, whose
choice and command has appointed him king over Israel ( 2 Samuel 6:21), that he
is the instrument by which God carries on His government of His people. From
this point of view the bringing back of the ark is an act of reverence and gratitude
to the Lord, whose name, symbolically set forth in this sanctuary, is honored and
praised by David at the head of the whole people as the sum of all his revelations
to them. But also by the establishment of this token of the presence of the Lord in
the midst of His people and of His royal dwelling and enthronement in His
possession on Mount Zion, which David has prepared for his own residence, the
idea of the indivisible unity of the human kingship and the kingly rule of God in His
people is brought out. There is enthroned the king of glory, Psalm 24:7-10; the
king’s throne is the throne of God, Psalm 45:7, 6]; Jerusalem is the city of the
Great King, Psalm 48:3, 2]; Zion is Jehovah’s dwelling, Psalm 9:12, 11]; Psalm
74:2; Psalm 76:3, 2]; thence proceed all manifestations of God’s royal might and
glory, Psalm 20:3, 2]; Psalm 110:2.—But also in relation to the people David
represents the theocratic kingship in the light of its ideal signification. He
assembles the whole people about the sanctuary as the throne of Jehovah; he will
make them a people truly united under the dominion of God, moving with their
whole life around Jehovah as centre, showing their king-God the highest honor
and serving Him alone ( Psalm 24:1-10). In contrast with every other oriental
kingly office David shows in his conduct the popular character of the theocratic
kingship. He does not soar at an unattainable and unapproachable distance and
height above the people, but “makes himself one” with them, mingles immediately
with them, is accessible to all, and does not scorn fellowship with the lowest and
meanest, because be knows that in the presence of the Lord he is not connected
but religious-morally on the same level with the whole people and every individual
one of these ( 2 Samuel 6:21-22). David, as theocratic king, whose government is
to be the organ and representative of Jehovah’s rule over His people, is conscious
that he is mediator between the Lord and His covenant-people, and acts
accordingly: on the one hand he “represents the whole people” before the Lord
and leads them to Him, at their head and in their stead brings burnt-offerings and
thank offerings, and appears with them “before the presence of the Lord” ( 2
Samuel 6:21) to restore at the ark the legally ordained divine service—on the
other hand he represents the Lord before His people, declaring His “name” to
them, and praying and obtaining His “blessing” for them.—Herein, as appears
most clearly in this history, David not only stands in closest connection with the
bearers of the prophetic office, but we see in him also the kingly office in closest
association with the priestly, while Saul, in opposition to both these offices,
allowed his kingly rule to assume more and more an antitheocratic character. But
still farther: as David, as representative and instrument of God’s royal rule over
the people of His possession [peculiar people = his private property—Tr.],
possesses the prophetic spirit, whereby Jehovah’s word designed for the people
is on his tongue ( 2 Samuel 23:2), so also, like Samuel representing the people
before God, he combines in his person the priestly character with the kingly and
the prophetic, and in this festival in his priestly dress and procedure brings out
and represents the idea, that the theocratic kingship, as a representation of the
people before the Lord is to be a priest-kingship. [As David is never said to have
performed the distinctively priestly work of sacrifice (committing this, as Erdmann
himself says in the Exposition, to the priests), and as the representation of the
people before God, and mediation between them and Him is a general pious work,
performed often by prophets and others (Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Samuel,
Josiah, Nehemiah), it is not easy to see why on this ground alone a priestly
character should be assigned to him. In one sense the whole people were priests
( Exodus 19:6), a great spiritual idea being thus guarded against the perverting
tendencies of outward ritual, and so David was in the high spiritual sense a priest,
as every Christian now is; but in the narrower sense an Israelitish priest made
atonement for sin by blood, and none but sons of Aaron could perform this service,
as now human priesthood is abolished, and the priestly work is done by Christ
alone.—Tr.].—But also the religious-moral character and the disposition of the
theocratic king is here set forth typically in the presence of the whole people; he
precedes them in showing the Lord His due honor in word and deed; he shows
himself to be the faithful and conscientious overseer, leader and arranger of the
divine service; he shows himself to be deeply penetrated with the feeling that he
owes his royal office solely to the free undeserved grace of the Lord, and exhibits
a deep humility, wishing to be nothing but the servant of the Lord in fellowship with
his servants and maids. [See Translator’s note to Erdmann’s exposition of 2
Samuel 6:22.—Tr.].—This humble disposition of David in the presence of his God
forms the sharpest contrast to the haughtiness and pride of his wife Michal, “who
knew nothing of the impulse of divine love” (Theodoret).
3. God’s blessing is an outflow of His name; it can only be mediately obtained by
man for Prayer of Manasseh, when it is drawn from this eternal, inexhaustible
source. The Lord dispenses His blessing to house and family, people and State,
only on the condition that His gracious presence is desired and preserved ( 2
Samuel 6:11), and honor given to His name in mind, word and deed, as here by
David and all the people. When men devote their heart and all their life as a
sacrifice to the Lord, and consecrate themselves to Him, in reward therefor He
sends on them streams of blessing.
4. The following are the references in the Psalm to the important event of the
transference of the Ark. Psalm 24was no doubt composed by David to celebrate
Jehovah’s entrance into the sanctuary on Mount Zion, with direct reference to the
incidents narrated in 2 Samuel6 Jehovah, the king of glory, comes to make His
dwelling on Mount Zion amid His people.
He is celebrated as the king of the whole world ( 2 Samuel 6:1; 2 Samuel 6:10); on
this foundation of the majesty of the Creator and Lord of all things rests the view
of His royal glory, the revelation of which is unfolded in and for Israel. The praise
of Jehovah as the strong hero in war, the Lord of Sabaoth, points to David’s
Philistine wars ( 2 Samuel 6:1; 2 Samuel 6:15). The primeval doors, which are to
lift themselves up that the king may hold his entry, are the gates of the old fortress
of Zion. The exhortation to the doors to raise and widen themselves assumes that
this is the first entrance of the ark, and excludes the view that the Psalm was
composed on its return from war. While 2 Samuel 6:7-10 describe the arrival and
solemn entry of “the King of glory” with the outward preparation for His worthy
reception and for His entrance into the place prepared for him, 2 Samuel 6:1-6
refer to the ascension of the people to Mount Zion and to the moral requirements
made of those who will be in truth the people of God, who desire and seek after
Him. Only the pure in thought, word and deed are His people and may approach
Him. With unholy mind and unclean hand Uzza seized the sacred vessel; to this
( 2 Samuel 6:6 sq.) refer the words of the Psalm 5:3-6. The blessing of “Jehovah
the God of salvation” ( 2 Samuel 6:5) recalls 2 Samuel 6:11; 2 Samuel 6:18. The
words: “the generation of them that inquire after Him and seek His face,” form a
contrast to 1 Chronicles 13:3 : “Let us bring up the ark of God; for in Saul’s time
we sought it not.”—The history of the entry is here regarded according to its
higher moral-religious significance for the people of the Lord. “It was needful at
the very beginning of the new relation to establish its essential character and fix it
in the people’s consciousness, to furnish a counter-weight or equipoise to the
external pomp with which the ark was brought in; to point out that true (not simply
external) fellowship with a God like this one, the lord of the whole earth, and a
share in His blessings, is to be obtained only in the one way of true righteousness;
to point to the serious nature of the demands made on the subjects, that results
from the glory of the entering king” (Hengstenb. on Psalm 24).
With reference to the establishment of the sanctuary on Mount Zion, and in
essential harmony with the first didactic-ethical part of Psalm 24, David sang
Psalm 15 also, as is clear from the question to the Lord in 2 Samuel 6:1 : “Who
may be guest in thy tent, who may dwell on thy holy mountain?” and from the
portraiture of the moral character of God’s house-companions though we cannot
establish with certainty particular references which Hitzig here finds to the history
in 2 Samuel 6:12 sq. (see Moll [Lange’s Bible-Work] on Psalm 15).
Whether Psalm 68 (as most ancient expositors, Stier and v. Hoffm. hold),
especially 2 Samuel 6:16-17 (Ew.), is to be referred to 2 Samuel6, is doubtful;
more probably it is connected with the return of the ark from the wars and victories
whose termination is given in 2 Samuel 12:31.
Psalm 78:56-72 presents the historical pre-suppositions of this fixing of the seat of
the royal glory, which lie far back in the history of Israel’s sin and defection from
the Lord to strange gods. The Lord punished Israel for their apostasy by forsaking
His dwelling in Shiloh, giving the sanctuary into the hands of enemies, etc. But the
Lord again had mercy, and arose in His might to cast down the enemy; He chose
Judah that He might in it on Zion establish His dominion and build high His
sanctuary. From hence He ruled as the king of His people through His servant
David whom he had chosen to feed His people, as once he fed the flock, whence
He called him.
Psalm 101, “the Prince’s psalm” or ruler’s mirror (Luth.), was not indeed
composed by David on the occasion of Uzza’s misfortune and the deposition of
the ark in the house of Obed-edom (Hammond, Ven, Dathe, Muntinghe, De W,
Del.); for, from the connection of thought, the question: “When comest thou to me”
( 2 Samuel 6:2)? cannot be referred to the words of 2 Samuel 6:8 : “how shall the
ark of Jehovah come to me?” and the designation of Jerusalem (ver8) as “the city
of the Lord” does not suit, since Jerusalem was so called in consequence of the
establishment of the ark on Zion, and an anticipation of this designation (Del.) is
not supposable. But this appellation, the “city of the Lord,” taken together with the
repeated expression within the house “and with the prominent mention of
personal, domestic, social and national duties and virtues, favors the view that
some time after this event, which was an epoch-making one for his and the
nation’s religious-moral life, David wrote this Psalm with reference to the
blessings that he therein received from God and the obligations therein imposed
on him. The “city of Jehovah,” which has received this name and the honor
involved in it through the Lord’s choice of it as a dwelling-place, “is to set forth not
only in its divine service [ritually], but also ethically the character of holiness”
(Moll), Isaiah 35:8; Isaiah 52:1; Nahum 2:1, as the king “within his house,” which
is founded and built on Mount Zion as the seat of the theocratic kingly dominion,
himself walks in uprightness of heart, suffers no other house-companions but
those who with him serve the Lord in righteousness ( 2 Samuel 6:3), truth ( 2
Samuel 6:4) and humility ( 2 Samuel 6:5), and so conducts his government, that in
the nation and land he looks on those only as his true servants and his
companions in the kingdom of God who walk in the ways of faithfulness and
honesty. Ewald: “We are introduced into the very core of all the great king’s
thought and effort at this time by Psalm 101, which cannot have been composed
till at least after this removal of the sanctuary, when Jerusalem had already for
some time been the ‘city of Jehovah,’ and according to its whole content probably
falls in these first years. Here is freely poured forth a heavenly-clear stream of the
purest kingly thoughts and purposes. … How David, having before wished to
become a righteous king, faithful to the true God, was now in the ‘city of Jehovah’
much more joyfully and decidedly resolved to become one, comes out most
beautifully from the words of this Song.”
5. The establishment of the ark on Zion was the beginning of the reformation and
reorganization of the divine service, which was raised by David from the
disintegration and lawlessness into which it had fallen under Saul, to an artistically
beautiful form. He organized the priests and Levites, dividing them into
twenty-four classes for weekly service. With his own musical endowments was
intimately connected his zealous care for the organization of the sacred music, to
which, with the aid of the three great masters, Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun, he
gave a new impulse, and for the culture and further development of which, along
with the four thousand Levites who were charged with the execution of the sacred
music, there was formed a select chorus out of the families of the three masters.
And with this was connected the development of sacred poetry in Psalm
-composition, of which David himself was the creator.
[Hall: The tumults of war afforded no opportunity of this service; only peace is a
friend to religion; neither is peace ever our friend, but when it is a servant of
piety.[FN28]—Tr.] Fr. Arndt: Truly to be praised and felicitated is every land that is
ruled by a pious king; there mercy and truth meet together, righteousness and
peace kiss each other: and the proverb is proven true: As the king, so the people!
But also to be felicitated is every king himself, who does not forget that over him
there reigns a yet greater king, the King of all kings, to whose grace he owes his
royal power, who alone secures him his throne, and who will one day bring him to
account for what he does and what he leaves undone.
2 Samuel 6:3-7. Starke: He who wishes to rejoice let him rejoice in the
Lord.—-[Hall: O happy Israel, that had a God to rejoice in, that had this occasion
of rejoicing in their God, and an heart that embraced this occasion!—Tr.]—As a
burning coal kindles the next, so may the good example of pious rulers attract the
subjects to follow them, 2 Corinthians 9:2.—Even that which is done with a good
intention does not always please God, 2 Samuel 7:5; Leviticus 10:1; Proverbs
14:12.—Osiander: Even pious people err when they depart, though it be but a
little, from the express word of God.—[Hall: God’s businesses must be done after
His own forms, which if we do with the best intentions alter, we
presume.—Wordsworth: All religious reformations which are wrought by men are
blemished with human infirmities.—Tr.]—Schlier: How could such a festal joy,
which knew nothing of holy fear, however well meant, prove acceptable to God? It
is not enough that we mean well, and have pious thoughts; we must also, in what
we do, hold fast to God’s word and commandment, and in all our joy in the Lord
must not allow ourselves to forget that we have to do with a holy God.—Disselhoff:
Where God sees one that wishes to flee to the shelter of His word, He so trains
him up that he learns to bow unconditionally to the authority of that word, and no
longer mingles God’s word and man’s word.—F. W. Krummacher: This
interruption of the bright jubilee-festival was for every one a new warning that
God’s kindness never goes alone, but always under the guidance of His
holiness, … that we dangerously overstep the limits of becoming modesty
whenever we mount up to the delusion that it depends on us to rescue the ark as
soon as ever the car of the Church whereby it is borne appears, through the
negligence and unfaithfulness of those who are appointed for its direction, to be
rolling into the abyss.—O. v. Gerlach: Uzzah is a type of all those who with
humanly good intentions, but in an unsanctified spirit, take it upon themselves to
rescue the cause of God, which they think is in peril.
2 Samuel 6:9. Osiander: When many have sinned, God commonly punishes one
or two of the leaders, in order that the others may remember their sin and beg
forgiveness.—F. W. Krummacher: Though the Lord may for a time change His
countenance, yet with His own people He always means faithfulness, and after
the storm always makes the sun come up again in his time. However painfully He
may chastise, His word of promise always stands: Can a woman forget her child?”
2 Samuel 6:11. Fr. Arndt: Where the sign of the Lord’s presence, the means of
grace, Isaiah, there the Lord’s presence and gracious working is not wanting, and
where this enters there is indeed blessing upon blessing, as in Obed-edom’s
house.—Schlier: What blessed people we then first become when we receive
God’s word into our houses, and let this word of God be our heart’s joy and delight.
The blessing of the Lord dwells where God’s word dwells.
[ 2 Samuel 6:12. Scott: When pious men who have been betrayed into
unwarrantable conduct have had time for self-examination, searching the
Scriptures and prayer, they will discover and confess their mistakes, and be
reduced to a better temper; they will justify God in His corrections; they will be
convinced that safety and comfort consist, not in absenting themselves from His
ordinances, or in declining dangerous services, but in attending to their duty in a
proper spirit and manner; they will profit by their own errors.—Tr.]
2 Samuel 6:14. Disselhoff: David was full of joy because he perceived that entire
submission of heart to God’s revealed will makes one truly free and
blessed.—Berl. B.: The joy of a soul is unspeakably great, which finds again in
itself the pure and holy God, whom before it feared to receive.—F. W.
Krummacher: David gave expression to that which swelled in his bosom, even in
corresponding gestures and a rhythmical movement.—The idea of that which the
world of today is wont to associate with the word dance, is here to be kept quite at
a distance. Dancing was in Israel a form of divine service, in which often—as in
the case of Miriam and her companions after the passage of the Red Sea—the
highest and holiest inspiration found expression.—Starke: It is accordingly a
shameful misuse to justify voluptuous dancing by David’s example.—S. Schmid:
What is undertaken in God’s service must be done with all the heart and with all
the powers, in order that everybody may see that one is in real earnest.
2 Samuel 6:15. Schlier: So we have here a popular festival, and indeed a right
joyous popular festival full of festal jubilation, and the occasion of the festive joy is
nothing else than the ark, the sanctuary of the Lord. The law of the Lord makes a
whole people, with their king in the lead, joyous and jubilant.—How much do
worldly festivals amount to, and how little do Christian festivals ! what a jubilee in
the one case, and how little true festal joy in the other!—Our fairest and most
delightful popular festivals ought to be our Christian festivals.
2 Samuel 6:16. Starke: Divine and heavenly things are to worldly hearts only folly;
they cannot know them, for they are spiritually discerned, 1 Corinthians 2:14.—F.
W. Krummacher: Even at the present day, alas! there is still no lack of people like
Michal. In the pure fire of the Spirit from on high these persons also see only a
morbid fanaticism; in the most animated and vigorous expression of hallowed
exaltation of soul, a hypocritical display. … The life from and in God remains a
mystery to every one until through the Spirit of God Himself it is unsealed to his
[Henry: We have no reason to think that this of which Michal accused him was
true in fact; David no doubt observed decorum, and governed his zeal with
discretion; but it is common for those that reproach religion thus to put false colors
upon it, and lay it under the most odious characters.—Tr.]—There is never
wanting to pious enthusiasm the moment when it again gives place to the
accustomed quieter and more equable state of mind. David did not always come
home in so exalted a frame as on that festal day. But lamentable is the case of
him who does not at all understand the eagle-flight by which souls devoted to God,
in times of especial visitations of grace, are carried up above all the enclosures of
their wonted everyday life, and transported into a condition in which in feeling and
word they “soar above the heights of earth.”—Berl. Bib.: After the soul has lost all
its own greatness and all the joy drawn from itself, it has no other joy or greatness
than the joy and greatness of God. Men filled with mere carnal prudence cannot
bear such a condition. They condemn it and depise those who are so happy in
possessing it, yea they chide it still, as here Michal reproaches David and passes
carnal sentence on that which is spiritual.
2 Samuel 6:21 sqq. Disselhoff: A heart that with all the forces of its being clings so
closely, so joyously, to God’s Revelation, or rather grows into it, draws from it all
nourishment and receives from it all light, such a heart bears as a precious fruit
that unfeigned, immovable humility, whose heart-refreshing image this history
sets before our eyes.—He who walks in such humility before God and men, his
eye is not blinded by the sunlight of good days, his heart and head do not become
dizzy on the heights of prosperity. He stands firm, whether God leads him into the
gloomy valley, or a step higher, or upon the summit. But such humility is born only
of absolute submission under God’s law and testimony.—[Scott: We should
esteem such reproaches honorable, and determine to become still more vile in
the eyes of ungodly revilers, by abounding in those services which they
despise.—Robinson: We are warned from the examples of ancient saints to
expect opposition and contempt, as far as we discover any real fervor in the
service of God. Nor should we wonder if on such an occasion “a man’s foes be
they of his own household.”—Tr.]—S. Schmid: It is better to be exalted by God
with the lowly than to be humbled by God with the proud. Matthew 23:12. Cramer:
Honor with God should be more highly esteemed than honor with men. John
2 Samuel 6:23. Fr. Arndt: If we look back once more, we see: All are blessed of
God, David, Obed-edom, the rejoicing people; Michal alone has remained
unblessed. Her lack of blessing was the penalty and the curse of her pride.—[Hall:
David came to bless his house ( 2 Samuel 6:20); Michal brings a curse upon
[Chap6 Rabanus Maurus: In this history we see humility approved, pride
condemned and rashness punished.—Tr.]
Chaps6,7. Disselhoff: The blessed secret of standing firm in days of exaltation
and undisturbed quiet. Belonging to it are: 1) Humble, unconditional subjection to
the testimony of God; 2) Faithful, genuine, zealous work for the honor of the Lord
and of His kingdom; 3) Grateful stillness when the Lord rejects our work for Him,
and wishes to work in our own hearts.
[ 2 Samuel 6:6-7. The fate of Uzzah: 1) Its occasion—neglect of a known
commandment of God ( Numbers 7:9; 2 Samuel 6:13). 2) Its immediate
cause—irreverence ( Numbers 4:15). 3) Its general lessons for us; for example,
even an apparently little thing may be a great sin; an action may seem necessary,
and yet be wrong; good intentions do not excuse disobedience; we must not
expect to help God’s work by measures which God forbids.—Tr.]
[ 2 Samuel 6:8. A man displeased with God; thinking himself wiser, more kind,
more just than God. Really perhaps vexed that his grand solemnity was
interrupted, his rejoicing people disappointed, his prestige damaged, his enemies
encouraged. Often when men complain of Providence on “high moral” grounds,
they are in fact mainly influenced by some secret personal feeling.—Now highly
elated with spiritual pride, at once thankful and self-complacent, and presently
dejected, irritated and disposed to give up altogether ( 2 Samuel 6:9). When any
promising religious enterprise of which we have had the lead is disastrously
interrupted, we are tempted to find fault with Providence.—Tr.]
[ 2 Samuel 6:10. Obed-edom and the ark. Israel had long slighted the ark; Uzzah
had been slain for making too free with it; David had shrunk from it in mere
superstitious fear and resentment; Obed-edom receives it gladly, deals with it in
the prescribed way, and is rewarded by a rich blessing. So as to religion in
general. Some neglect, and greatly lose; some profane, and are ruined; some
misunderstand, and pervert into superstitious fear; but those who truly welcome
and observe it according to its real nature are richly blessed themselves, and may
by their example induce others to seek it likewise ( 2 Samuel 6:12).—Tr.]
[ 2 Samuel 6:12. The “city of David” now becoming the “city of Jehovah” ( Psalm
101:8). 1) How it had been conquered; 2) How it was consecrated; 3) How it was
to be prospered.—Worthy purposes of a God-fearing ruler. King David’s devout
programme when now established as theocratic sovereign ( Psalm 101). 1) As to
his personal character and conduct ( Psalm 101:2); 2) As to punishment and
prevention of evil-doing (lb., 2 Samuel 6:3-5; 2 Samuel 6:7-8); 3) As to
encouragement of good men (lb., 2 Samuel 6:6). (Comp. above, “Hist. and Theol,”
No4, latter part.)—Tr.]
[ 2 Samuel 6:12-18. Sermon on Psalm 24, as written for this occasion. Comp.
Psalm 15. (See above, “Hist. and Theol,” No4.)
2 Samuel 6:20. He that had “blessed the people” ( 2 Samuel 6:18) returns to
“bless his household.” Piety in public and in private—public worship and family
worship.—A good Prayer of Manasseh, after public religious duties, returns
joyous, thankful and loving to his home—and meets scolding and ridicule.
2 Samuel 6:16; 2 Samuel 6:20-22. Religious enthusiasm, and those who contemn
and ridicule it.
2 Samuel 6:16-23. Sermon on the history of Michal. (Comp. Henry on this
FN#1 - 2 Samuel 6:1. Wellhausen supposes that ‫ עֵא‬came from the
misunderstanding of ‫>כםף‬,
‫ַ ּו‬
as if the verb were from ‫כםף‬, which regularly takes ‫עֵא‬
(comp. 1 Samuel 18:29); but see the explanation in the Exposition.—Tr.]
FN#2 - 2 Samuel 6:2. So substantially Cahen, Wellhausen, Bib. Com.; Philippson
repeats the word “name,” and Erdmann renders: “where (‫)שמ‬
ֵ is invoked the name
of the Lord of hosts, who is enthroned on the cherubim over it.”—It is clear,
however, that ‫ עֵ מֵ כב‬is the complement of the Rel. ‫רֶׁ ַיא‬, and the second ‫ ֹוימ‬is better
omitted with Sept, Vulg, Chald, Arab, and one MS. of Kennicott. As to the number
of words between the Rel. and its complement, such a massing up of dependent
phrases in unusual, but not impossible; and the sentence may have been
originally simpler (as Wellh. suggests) ‫עֵ מֵ כב כ׳ ֹוימ רק׳ רֶׁ ַיא‬, and the appositional
phrase afterwards added.—Tr.]
FN#3 - 2 Samuel 6:4. This clause is omitted by Erdmann (so Sept.). But it is
doubtful whether the whole verse had not better be omitted (as in 1 Chronicles13.),
for it adds nothing to the preceding. In that case the last clause might be regarded
as a marginal explanation which early got into the text.—Thenius thinks that the
incorrect repetition of the first clause has occasioned the dropping out of the
words: “and Uzzah went,” before the words: “with the ark of God,” and Wellh.
adds that it has also occasioned the change of the appellative ‫ברֵ ֵׁשכ‬, “his brother,”
into the proper name, ֵ‫רֶׁ ְּׁשכ‬, “Ahio.”—Tr.
FN#4 - 2 Samuel 6:5. This is the reading in 1 Chronicles 13:8. Sept.: ‫עז ֵולְּ מֹו כ‬.—Tr.]
FN#5 - 2 Samuel 6:6. Aq. ἕως ἅλωνος ἑτοίμης, and so substantially Böttcher and
Erdmann: “to a ready (fixed) threshing-floor;” but this is less probable than the
rendering of Eng. A. V. as a proper name. It is no objection to this that this word
does not occur elsewhere as a proper name. The form in Chr. ‫ יֵ כמֵמ‬is thought by
Wellh. to be the same as the last syllable of this: ‫ ;= לאמ = לבמ‬but this is
FN#6 - 2 Samuel 6:7. ‫עֶׁ מ־יֶׁ ֶׁלמ‬, an obscure phrase. Ewald: “unexpectedly” (comp.
Daniel 8:25; Job 15:21); some Greek VSS. give ἐπὶ τῆ προπετεία, ἐπὶ τῆ εκνοία;
Erdmann and others as Eng. A. V, which is a doubtful meaning, and besides the
suffix would then be required. Our phrase might be a fragment of the phrase in
Chron.: ‫( ֵשמֶׁ ׁש רֶׁ ַיא עֶׁ מ‬so Bib. Com. and others). Chald. as Eng. A. V.; Vulg. super
temeritate (so margin of Eng. A. V.).—Tr.]
FN#7 - 2 Samuel 6:8. Some MSS. have ‫ימֵ ָּקבמ ֹוים‬.—Tr.]
FN#8 - 2 Samuel 6:10. ‫עֶׁ מ‬, “on,” since the city was on a hill (but many MSS.
have .—‫)רַ מ‬.—‫ וֹו כק‬indicates the point reached by motion, the Prep. being omitted,
as is frequent.—Tr.]
FN#9 - 2 Samuel 6:11. Some MSS. have “the house of Obed-edom,” and others
add “the Gittite.”—Tr.]
FN#10 - 2 Samuel 6:13. Here and elsewhere Aquila renders ‫ רֵ אֵמ‬by γλωσσοκόμον.
Sept. has ἐν ὀργάνοις ἡρμοσμένοις for ‫ ְּווֵ מ־ע ּוז‬in 2 Samuel 6:14 (see 2 Samuel
6:5). It is difficult to see how it gets its translation: “and there were with him seven
choruses bearing the ark,” unless it takes ‫( אְּ עֵ ֵמכמ‬steps) concretely as = “persons
going or marching;” what follows: καὶ θῦμα μόσχος καὶ ἄρνες, is also
FN#11 - 2 Samuel 6:15. Some MSS.: “ark of the covenant of Jehovah.”—Tr.]
FN#12 - 2 Samuel 6:17. Without the Art. since the number is not given, and the
statement is indefinite; but in the following verse, since the nouns are then defined
by previous mention, the Art. is used.—Tr.]
FN#13 - 2 Samuel 6:18. ‫—ו ֹוימ‬Sym.:
διὰ τοῦ ὀνόματος, Aq. ἐν ὀνόματι.—Tr.]
FN#14 - 2 Samuel 6:19. Erdmann: “a measure (of wine),” Aq, Sym. ἀμυρίτην
(perhaps ἀμυλίτην from ἀμυλος = “fine meal”), obscure, Sept. ἐχαρίτην, perhaps =
‫רַ ְּליֵא‬, Vulg. assaturam bubulœ carnis unam, “a roast of ox-flesh.”—Tr.]
FN#15 - 2 Samuel 6:20. This adverb in Eng. A. V. is intended to express the force
of the second Inf. here; the construction is noticed by Erdmann. Supposing the
second Inf. to be genuine and intensive, the meaning would be: “really, thoroughly
uncovers,” to which Eng. A. V. corresponds substantially.—Tr.]
FN#16 - 2 Samuel 6:23. Keth. ‫כַמַ מ‬, Qeri ‫בַמַ מ‬, written in Genesis 11:30 ‫בֵמֵ מ‬, which is
the older form. Böttcher: “This is one of the few examples of the retention by the
punctuators of an archaism in the older book, and its correction in the later.”—Tr.]
FN#17 - ‫ כֵםֹו י‬for ‫( רםֹו ףכ ּו = כַרַ םּו ף‬as in 1 Samuel 15:6; Micah 4:6, Psalm 104:29),
comp. Ew. § 139 b, Ges. § 68, Rem. 2; it is Impf. of ‫[ רֵ םֶׁ ף‬not of ‫“ כֵםֶׁ ף‬to increase”].
FN#18 - The ‫א־ימ‬
ֵ ‫ רֶׁ ַי‬refers back to the ‫ד ֵימ‬.
ֵ So in 1 Chronicles 13:6 this
invocation is mentioned, if we read ‫ ֵימ‬for ‫ ֹוימ‬at the end.
FN#19 - ‫ עֵ מֵ כב‬belongs to ‫כיו‬,
‫ ֹו‬but there is no need to supply ‫ רֶׁ ַיא‬in reference to
“Cherubim” (Then.).
FN#20 - ‫ ֵכ ְּמיֵ כו‬as 2 Kings 23:30; comp. 2 Kings 13:16.
FN#21 - Instead of our ‫ אַ ְּמאְּ ֵמכמ‬Chron. has ‫דאֵ ְּמ ֶׁתכֵמ‬,
ְּ see Psalm 150:6.
FN#22 - Josephus says (but probably without extra-biblical authority) that
Obed-edom, from having been poor, became rich, and that people observed
FN#23 - ‫בְּיֵ כֵי‬, as in 1 Samuel 17:48 and often in later books, for ‫( ֶׁבכ ְֵּיכ‬comp. Ew. §
345 b)—“because there is no progress in the action, but we have merely the
mention of an additional incident” (Keil).
FN#24 - But probably it was not expected that she and other members of the
household (women) should take part in the procession ( 2 Samuel 6:20).—Tr.]
FN#25 - ‫ ב ֵֶׁתוַ ז‬with ‫מ‬,
ְּ as verbs of inclination and hate often have the prepositional
construction (love to, Leviticus 19:18; hate or contempt towards, Proverbs 17:5);
Ewald, § 282 c.
FN#26 - It is not (with most Rabbis) to be derived from ‫ רֹו י‬and ‫ׁשֵ א‬.
FN#27 - ‫רֵ גְּ מֵק יְּ ֵיםֵמֵק‬. The explanation of this abnormal combination—according to
Ew. § 240 c—is “that since according to the sense only the second form must be
in the Inf. Abs, both now with slight change of form appear in the Inf. Const,
because the whole sentence by reason of the Prep. ‫ ְּו‬follows the train of the Inf
Const.” Maurer: ‫ רֵ גְּ מֵק‬is Inf. Abs. (for ‫רֵ גְּ תי‬, in order to make paronomasia with the
preceding ‫)ילֵיֵק‬.
ֵ Thenius and Olshausen (Gr. p600) explain ‫ רֵ גְּ מֵק‬as error of
copyist from the preceding word.
FN#28 - The following specimen of allegorizing on 2 Samuel 6:1 is given as a
curiosity: “The thirty thousand chosen (elect) are shown by the number to have
been perfected in faith, works and hope. For three refers to the Trinity, and thus
denotes faith; ten refers to the Decalogue, and denotes works; thousand, the
greatest of Numbers, the perfect number, denotes the hope of eternal life, than
which there is nothing higher. Therefore multiply three by ten, lest faith without
works be dead. Likewise multiply thirty by a thousand, in order that faith, which
works through love, may not hope for reward elsewhere than in heaven.” This
precious morsel is found in Rabanus Maurus (ninth century), and also in an
anonymous work of the seventh century, printed with the works of
07 Chapter 7
Verses 1-29
II. The divine consecration of the Davidic kingdom by the promise of the
imperishable kingly dominion of the Davidic house.
2 Samuel 7:1-29
1. David’s purpose to build the Lord a house, and the divine promise that the Lord
will build him a house. 2 Samuel 7:1-16.
1And it came to pass, when the king sat in his house, and the Lord [Jehovah] had
given him rest[FN1] round about from all his enemies, 2That the king said unto
Nathan the prophet, See now, I dwell in an house of cedar, but [and] the ark of
God dwelleth within curtains [the curtain].[FN2] 3And Nathan said to the king,
Go,[FN3] do all that is in thine heart [All, etc., go do], for the Lord [Jehovah] is with
thee 4 And it came to pass that night, that the word of the Lord [Jehovah] came
unto Nathan,[FN4] saying, 5Go and tell [say to] my servant, [ins. to] David, Thus
saith the Lord [Jehovah], 6Shalt[FN5] thou build me a house for me to dwell in?
Whereas [For] I have not dwelt in any [a] house since the time that I brought up[FN6]
the children of Israel 7 out of Egypt even to this day, but have walked [FN7] in a tent
and in a tabernacle. In all the places[FN8] wherein I have walked with all the
children of Israel, spake I a word with any of the tribes[FN9] of Israel, whom I
commanded to feed my people Israel, saying, 8Why build ye not me an house of
cedar? Now, therefore, so [And now, thus] shalt thou say unto my servant, [ins. to]
David, Thus saith the Lord [Jehovah] of hosts, I took[FN10] thee from the sheepcote
[pasture], from following the sheep, to be ruler over my people, over Israel; 9And I
was with thee whithersoever thou wentest, and have cut off all thine enemies out
of thy sight [from before thee], and have made thee a great [FN11] name like unto
the name of the great men that are in the earth 10 Moreover [And] I will appoint a
place for my people Israel and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of
their own [and they shall dwell in their own place], and move no more [and no
more be disturbed], neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them any more,
as beforetime, 11And as since the time that I commanded judges to be over my
people Israel,[FN12] [.] and have caused [And I will cause] thee to rest from all thine
enemies, also [and] the Lord [Jehovah] telleth thee that he [Jehovah] [FN13] will
make thee an house.
12And[FN14] [om. and] when [When] thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with
thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy
bowels,[FN15] and I will establish his kingdom 13 He shall build an house for my
name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and
he shall be 14 my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men
and with the stripes of the children of men 15 But my mercy shall not depart [FN16]
away from 16 him, as I took it from Saul whom I put away [ins. from] before thee.
And thy house and thy kingdom shall be established [stable] forever before
thee;[FN17] thy throne shall be established forever.
2. David’s prayer as answer to this divine promise. 2 Samuel 7:17-29
17According to all these words and according to all this vision, so did Nathan
speak unto David 18 Then went king David in [And king David went in] and sat
before the Lord [Jehovah], and he said, Who am I, O Lord God [O lord
Jehovah][FN18], and what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto? 19And
this was yet a small thing in thy sight, O Lord God [O lord Jehovah], but thou hast
spoken also of thy servant’s house for a great while to come. And is this the
manner of Prayer of Manasseh, O Lord God? [And this is the law of Prayer of
Manasseh,[FN19] O lord Jehovah]. 20And what can [shall] David say more unto
thee? for thou, Lord God [om. Lord God], knowest thy servant [ins. lord Jehovah].
21For thy word’s[FN20] sake, and according to thine own heart hast thou done all
these great things, to make thy servant know them. 22Wherefore thou art great, O
Lord God [Jehovah God]; for there is none like thee, neither is there any [and
there is no] God beside thee, according to[FN21] all that we 23 have heard with our
ears. And[FN22] what one nation in the earth is like thy people, even [om. even] like
Israel, whom God went to redeem for a people to himself, and to make him a
name, and to do for you [them] great things and terrible, for thy land [om. for thy
land, ins. to drive out] before thy people, which thou redeemedst 24 to thee from
Egypt, from the [om. from the] nations and their gods? For [And] thou hast
confirmed to thyself thy people Israel to be a people unto thee forever, and thou,
Lord [Jehovah], art become their God.
25And now, O Lord [Jehovah] God, the word that thou hast spoken concerning
thy servant and concerning his house, establish it [om. it] forever, and do as thou
hast said 26 And let thy name be magnified forever, saying, The Lord [Jehovah] of
hosts is the [om. the] God over Israel; and let the house of thy servant David be
established before thee 27 For thou, O Lord [Jehovah] of hosts, God of Israel,
hast revealed to thy servant, saying, I will build thee an house; therefore hath thy
servant found in his heart to pray this prayer unto thee 28 And now, O Lord God,
[lord Jehovah], thou art that [om. that] God, and thy words be true [are[FN23] truth],
29and thou hast promised [spoken] this goodness unto thy servant; Therefore
[And] now, let it please thee to bless the house of thy servant that it may continue
forever before thee; for thou, O Lord God [lord Jehovah], hast spoken it, and with
thy blessing let [shall] the house of thy servant be blessed forever.
1. David’s purpose to build the Lord a house, and the divine prohibition with the
promise that the Lord will build him a house. 2 Samuel 7:1-16 ( 1 Chronicles 17).
2 Samuel 7:1-3. David’s resolution to build the Lord a house is approved by the
prophet Nathan. Comp. 1 Chronicles 17:1-2.
2 Samuel 7:1. And when the king dwelt in his house (comp. 2 Samuel 7:11).
What follows occurred not only after David had built his royal palace, but also after
Hebrews, having secured external quiet, had taken up his permanent abode
therein. The starting-point of David’s words in 2 Samuel 7:2 (like that of the
narrative) is the “house” in which he dwelt [Philippson: Abarbanel refers to
Deuteronomy 12:9-10 sq,[FN24] supposing that David thought the condition there
laid down to have now reached a fulfilment.—Tr.]—And the Lord had given him
rest round about from all his enemies.—According to these words the following
narrative cannot be put chronologically immediately after the Philistine war related
in 2 Samuel5, which view the position of this section after 2 Samuel6 might seem
to favor. Decisive against this is the phrase: “round about from all his enemies,”
and 2 Samuel 7:9 : “I have cut off all thy enemies before thee.” The temporary
quiet that David gained by that double victory over the Philistines he used to bring
the ark to Zion; but he soon found himself involved in new wars begun by Israel’s
enemies round about, first by the Philistines, according to the narration in 2
Samuel8. Not till he had crushed all Israel’s pressing enemies could he wish to
carry out his determination to build a house for the Lord. On account of its factual
connection with the account of the ark the history of this determination is attached
to 2 Samuel6, the narrative throughout, indeed, not appearing to be strictly
chronological, but bearing the impress of a grouping of the several sections
according to certain principal points of view. (In chs 8–12the external wars,
in13–20 the internal difficulties, and in21. sq. detached occurrences in David’s life
are brought together without chronological sequence.) But it is not to be assumed
that “our narrative is to be put in the last part of David’s life” (Then.), since,
according to 2 Samuel 7:11, he had still other wars to carry on against the
enemies of Israel, for which reason precisely, and because he had to be on his
guard without, the peaceful work of temple building could not be executed (as
Solomon also expressly affirms, 1 Kings 5:17); and since the promise in 2 Samuel
7:12 refers to the seed, that will yet proceed from his body. The time of the words:
“when the Lord had given him rest” (wanting in Chron.), is to be put after that of
the wars in 2 Samuel8, whereby David secured his throne against “enemies round
about,” without being able thus to exclude further wars; his resolution to build a
temple can be referred only to a temporary rest after his first victorious contests
against all his enemies.—[Comp. the language in 2 Samuel 22:1 and Joshua
2 Samuel 7:2. David communicated this resolution to the prophet Nathan, who,
according to this, stood in a confidential relation to him as counsellor, and this is
confirmed not only by Nathan’s reproof after the sin with Bathsheba, but also by
the fact ( 2 Samuel 12:25) that Solomon’s education was committed to him, and
he with David’s approval anointed Solomon as successor to his father while the
latter was still living ( 1 Kings 1:34). [On Nathan see Erdmann’s Introduction and
the Bible-Dictionaries.—Tr.]—David states to Nathan as the ground of his
resolution the contrast that he dwelt in a palace of cedar, while the ark of God
stood within the curtains, that Isaiah, simply in a tent ( 2 Samuel 6:15). The word
here used (‫ )יֶׁ כ ְֵּאכעֵ י‬means in Exodus 26:2 sq. the inner cover composed of several
curtains, that was spread over the board-structure of the tabernacle. The Plu. is
used in Isaiah 54:2 as=“tent,” and in Song of Solomon 1:5; Jeremiah 4:20
as=“tents.” The “within” refers to the drapery formed by the curtains; Chron. has
“under curtains.” David’s words express the pious, humble disposition in which his
purpose was founded. The utterance of the purpose itself is not added to this
statement of its ground, but is presupposed in Nathan’s approval [ 2 Samuel 7:3].
All that is in thy heart, that Isaiah, in this connection, what thou hast resolved on,
comp. 1 Samuel 14:7; 2 Kings 10:30. For the Lord is with thee, where the
preceding “do” is based on the Lord’s leading, under which David, as theocratic
king, stands. Nathan characterizes David’s purpose as one well-pleasing to the
Lord. J. H. Michaelis: “out of his own mind, not by divine revelation.”
2 Samuel 7:4-16. The divine revelation to Nathan for David and his house.
a. 2 Samuel 7:4-7. Not David is to build the Lord a house.
2 Samuel 7:4. In that night, following the day on which David held the above
conversation with Nathan, came the word of the Lord to Nathan. Nothing is said
here of a divine revelation through a dream (comp. Numbers 12:6; 1 Kings 3:5), or
through a vision and the hearing of a voice (comp. 1 Samuel 3:5; 1 Samuel 3:10;
1 Samuel 3:15), but the word of the Lord is described as having come to Nathan
by night; that Isaiah, it is related that he received a divine revelation in the form
and through the medium of the word, he receiving its content with the inner ear of
the Spirit as a divine decision respecting that which was stirring his heart. Comp.
Isaiah 21:10. By the conversation held with David during the day Nathan’s soul
with all its thoughts and feelings was concentrated on David’s great and holy
purpose; this was the psychological basis for the divine inspiration that forms the
content of the following Revelation, and not in inner contradiction with, but in
distinction from his answer to David, informs him that the purposed
temple-building is to be executed according to the Lord’s will not by David, but by
his seed.
2 Samuel 7:5. Nathan receives the divine revelation that he may officially impart it
to David.—Shouldest [or, shalt] thou build me a house to dwell in?—The
question has a negative significance=thou shouldest [shalt] not. Chron,
interpreting the meaning, has: “not thou.” Certainly Nathan’s assent to David’s
thought that a house ought to be built for the Lord is not thereby set aside; but it is
true that the opinion that David himself is to be the builder is corrected into this
other, that this resolution is to be first carried out by his seed. Hengstenberg’s
interpretation, therefore, that David is to build the house not personally, but in his
seed [Christol, Eng. tr. I:126], is forced and in contradiction both with his word and
with Solomon’s interpretation ( 1 Kings 8:15-21).
2 Samuel 7:6. The reason for the no. It is logically obvious that this reason must
stand in some relation to the sense in which the “shalt thou?” is spoken. Not thou
shalt build me a house, for: 1) “I have not dwelt in a house from the day when I
brought up the children of Israel out of Egypt to this day.” During this whole period,
while the people had yet no secure, firm, unendangered dwelling-place, the
symbol of the Lord’s presence and dwelling amid His people could also have no
permanent abode. But I was a wanderer in tent and dwelling-place, that Isaiah,
as the people was in constant movement and unquiet, so my abode was of
necessity a movable tent, wandering from place to place; the allusion is to the
necessary frequent change of place of the sanctuary, first in the wilderness, and
then during the unquiet movements hither and thither in the land itself (Gilgal,
Shiloh, Nob, Gibeon). Comp. 1 Chronicles 17:5 : “and I was from tent to tent and
from dwelling to dwelling.” There is no sufficient ground for distinguishing “tent”
and “dwelling” as tent-frame and tent-cover (Then.); rather the “dwelling” is to be
taken with Keil as explicative: in a tent, which was my dwelling.—[The word
mishkan, rendered in Eng. A. V. “tabernacle,” sometimes means the whole
structure built by Moses, as in Exodus 35:11, where it includes the boards, the
tent (ohel, the goatskin-curtain) and the covering (mikseh, the curtains of
ram-skins and seal-skins). Elsewhere (as in Exodus 40:18) it denotes the
board-structure with the inner curtains of blue, purple and scarlet; and again it is
used ( Exodus 26:6) apparently for the inner curtains alone. It seems clear that
technically the ohel or tent signified the outer cloth of goat-skin, and the mikseh or
covering the two protecting heavy cloths of ram-skin and seal skin, the mishkan
proper denoting the rest of the structure; but it is not so probable that the technical
distinction is introduced here; the interpretation of Keil seems better. Still, taking
the somewhat different reading in Chron, we may suppose that each of the terms
ohel and mishkan is put for the whole structure of which they formed a part, a
variation of terms for the sake of filling out the conception, the former rather
suggesting the wilderness, the latter the land of Canaan.—Tr.]
2 Samuel 7:7. 2. To the statement that the Lord had hitherto had no fixed dwelling,
but had dwelt only in a movable tent, is appended a second, that in all this time He
had never given command to build Him a fixed abode.—In all wherein I walked,
that Isaiah, in my whole walk, during the whole time that I walked among all the
children of Israel. These words are to be taken not with the preceding ( 2 Samuel
7:6), which form the adversative definition of the immediately preceding
declaration, but with the following, and correspond in context with the statement of
time in 2 Samuel 7:6 : “from the day. . . to this day.” The “walking” denotes the
self-witness of the divine presence, might and help in the whole historical
development of Israel up to this time. Spake I a word with any one of the tribes
of Israel?—Instead of “tribes” (‫ )יוקכ‬Chron. has “judges” (‫)יׁשקכ‬, which is
adopted by Ewald, Bertheau, Thenius, Bunsen, after 2 Samuel 7:11. But the
“judges” are there mentioned in a totally different connection of thought; and if this
were the original word, it would be impossible to explain the origination and
general unquestioned acceptance of the difficult “tribes.” The reading of the text
“tribes” is to be retained with Maurer, Böttcher, Keil, Hengstenberg. Maurer
correctly remarks: “those tribes are to be understood that before the time of David
attained the supremacy, as Ephraim, Daniel, Benjamin. Böttcher gives a complete
list of the tribes that successively attained the headship through the Judges
chosen from them. [Abarbanel (quoted by Philipps.) renders “sceptres” =
“ Judges,” but this is not admissible. On the text see “Text. and Gramm.”—Tr.]
The “feeding” (a figure derived from the shepherd, who goes before the flock,
leads it to pasture and protects it) denotes the guidance and defence of the whole
people, to which one tribe was called, and which it accomplished through the
judge that represented it. The Chronicler had only the line of judges in mind; his
alteration is a collateral text that serves very well to explain the main text. Why
build ye not me a house of cedar?[FN25]—That Isaiah, a permanent and costly
sanctuary, worthy of my glory. Comp. 1 Kings 8:16, where Song of Solomon, with
reference to these words, cites as the Lord’s word: “I chose no city among all the
tribes of Israel to build me a house.” Psalm 78:67 is in like manner elucidatory of
this passage; for there the choice of David as prince, and of Zion as the place of
the sanctuary, is represented as if it were the choice of the tribe of Judah after the
rejection of Ephraim. [Synopsis Criticorum: In this discourse of God some things
are omitted that are afterwards represented as having been said here, as in 1
Kings 8:16; 1 Kings 8:18; 1 Kings 8:25; 1 Chronicles 22:8-9; 1 Chronicles 28:6; it
is Scriptural usage not always to report the whole of a discourse, but sometimes
to give a brief summary.—Tr.] Thus in 2 Samuel 7:6-7, looking at the whole past
of the people, one side of the reason for the “shalt thou?” in 2 Samuel 7:5 is given:
From the beginning of the history till now a permanent dwelling for the Lord,
instead of the moving tent, had neither actually existed (because not possible
under the circumstances), nor been divinely commanded. [There is no reproof to
David in this.—Tr.]
b. 2 Samuel 7:8-11. The other side of the reason lies in the history of the Lord’s
dealings with David, which point to the fact that the Lord will build David a house
before a house can be built to the Lord.
[Better: “from the pasture.” The word means “habitation,” which in reference to
flock means, not where they spend the night (which Isaiah, as Thenius says,
‫)םְּ ֹומ ֵאי‬, but where they feed (see Isaiah 65:10, where Eng. A. V. has improperly
“fold”), and this suits the context of our passage.—Tr.] To this was added the
continuous revelation of His gracious presence: 2 Samuel 7:9.—I was with thee
in all thy going.—These two facts, the elevation of David to be king and his
constant attendance [by God] in all his walk, answer to the elevation of Israel to be
his people, and the Lord’s walking with them ( 2 Samuel 7:6-7). The wars hitherto
waged form the third stadium: I have cut off all thy enemies before
thee.—These wars, however, were the wars of the Lord, waged by Him as king of
his people ( 1 Samuel 25:28). On this plane of the Lord’s exhibition of power in
wars and victories over enemies rises the glory of the great name that the Lord
has made for him in the sight of the nations round about (comp. Psalm 132:17-18;
1 Chronicles 14:17).
2 Samuel 7:10. These gradually advancing manifestations of the Lord’s favor to
David look to the wellbeing of the people of Israel: 1) He thereby prepared a place
for them [Erdmann renders: “I prepared a place,” etc.; see “Text. and
Gram.”[FN26]—Tr.]; that Isaiah, by subduing their enemies made room for a safe,
unendangered expansion in the promised land; 2) Planted them—that Isaiah, on
the soil thus cleansed and made safe He established a firm, deep-rooted national
life; 3) They dwell in their [own] place, their life-power unfolds itself within the
limits secured them by the Lord; 4) They shall no longer be affrighted by restless
enemies. In these words the discourse turns to the future of the people. The
sense is: after all these manifestations of favor in the past up to this time, the Lord
will for the future assure His people a position and an existence, wherein they
shall no more experience the affliction and oppression that they suffered from
godless nations. The “as beforetime” refers to the beginning of the people’s
history in Egypt. The words in 2 Samuel 7:11 from “and as since” to “Israel”
belong with the “beforetime” as chronological datum, and depend on the “as” in 2
Samuel 7:10. And from the time when I ordained Judges over my people
Israel.—That Isaiah, not merely during the period of the Judges, but on from the
time when the judges began to lead the people, since the Prep. “from” [Eng. A. V.:
“since”] gives only the terminus a quo, and consequently the period of the
continuous oppression of the people by surrounding nations in the time after the
judges till now is not excluded. This glance at the history of Israel’s affliction and
oppression from the beginning on answers to the glance at the Lord’s presence
and walk with them during their long period of wandering. All this the Lord has
done to the people through His servant David (comp. Psalm 89:22-24). The usual
connection of these words with the following: “and from the time that.… have I
caused thee to rest” (so still Hengst. ubi sup. [p130]) is untenable—because: 1)
we thus have the impossible statement that God gave David rest from the
beginning of the period of the Judges on, and2) the period of the Judges was any
thing but a time of quiet. And I give thee rest from all thy enemies.—The verb
(Perf. with Waw consec.) is to be understood of the future, as is usual with this
form when, as here, a future precedes. “In the quiet progress of the discourse the
Future here passes over into quiet description” (Ges. § 126, 6). It is also here to
be considered that the Perf. refers to Future in asseverations and assurances. To
take the verb in a Perfect sense [= I have given rest], the narrative concerning the
past in 2 Samuel 7:9 being thereby resumed (De Wette, Thenius [Bible
Commentary, Philippson]), is inadmissible, because the discourse has already in
the preceding words turned to the future, and such a retrogressive repetition,
considering the rapid advance elsewhere in all these words, would be intolerable.
David’s present rest ( 2 Samuel 7:1) was only a temporary one—for the hostile
nations were ever seeking opportunity to assault Israel. Although David’s wars
and victories hitherto had so far firmly established Israel that the former times of
“terror and distress” could not return, yet his reign was a constant war with the
hostile nations around, in order to maintain the security that had been won, and to
ward off the freshly inpressing enemies. To this continuing unquiet refers the first
promise of the Lord to David: “I will give thee rest from all thy enemies.” The
Chron. has ( 2 Samuel 7:10): “and I subdue all thy enemies, and tell it thee, and a
house will the Lord build thee.”[FN27] The second declaration is introduced by the
words: “the Lord announces to thee” (not, has announced), “causes to be
announced.” Thereby the promise itself: The Lord will build thee a house is
raised to its supereminent importance above all the preceding words. In it
culminates the gradually rising line of the Lord’s exhibitions of favor to David, and
through him to the people. The “house” is the royal authority in Israel, which is
assured and established for his family. According to these words ( 2 Samuel
7:5-11) there are two principal grounds for the Lord’s negative answer to David’s
determination to build him a house: 1) as the Lord could have no fixed
dwelling-place amid His people, so long as they were wandering out of Canaan,
and in Canaan were constantly disquieted by enemies and driven hither and
thither, so also David’s rule, in spite of victories over enemies, was still too much
disquieted by external enemies that had to be fought, he being especially called
thereby to secure to the people a settled permanent existence for the future.
Hence now also the dwelling-place of the Lord amid His people can have no other
form than that of the tent, the symbol of Israel’s wandering, which was to be
ended and quieted first by David’s battles and victories2) David had indeed
declared that he wished to perform something for the Lord in the building of a
house, but this human plan should and could not reach fulfilment except and
before the Lord had completed His manifestations of favor to David and carried
out His plan, which looked to confirming the royal authority for his house and
family forever, and thereby assuring the well-being of the people. What the Lord
had hitherto done for David, and through him for Israel, was only the beginning of
this confirmation of his kingdom; it was by its assured connection for all the future
with David’s posterity that the firm foundation was first laid, on which could be
carried out the work of temple-building as the sign of the immovably founded
kingdom of peace and of the theocracy that was to exhibit itself in undisturbed
quiet in Israel. The meaning of the divine prohibition, therefore, is this: Thou canst
not build me a house, for I must first build thee a house, before the building of a
house for me is possible. This second principal ground is connected immediately
with the first; for the promise could not be fulfilled, unless by the establishment of
external peace the condition for the confirmation of David’s house was given. The
first ground is more precisely defined in 1 Chronicles 22:7-13; 1 Chronicles 28:3
sq. by the statement that David was not permitted to build the temple on account
of his wars: “because thou art a man of war and hast shed blood.” With this
agrees Solomon’s word to Hiram, 1 Kings 5:3 : “My father could not build a house
to the name of the Lord for the wars that were about him.”[FN28]
c. 2 Samuel 7:12-16. The wider expansion and exacter definition of the promise: “I
will build thee a house.” 2 Samuel 7:12 starts from the end of David’s life; after his
death the promise will be fulfilled. I will set up thy seed after thee.—The “set up”
(‫ )יֹו ֵקכמ‬denotes not the “awakening” or bringing into existence, but the elevating
the seed to royal rule and power. The “seed” is not the whole posterity, as is clear
from the explanatory words in 1 Chronicles 17:11 : “thy seed that shall be of thy
sons,” nor merely a single individual, but a selection from the posterity, which will
be appointed by God’s favor to succeed David on the throne. Which shall
proceed (come) out of thy body.—The seed here spoken of was still in the
future when this promise was made to David. We are not, with Thenius, to change
“will proceed” (‫ )כֹואֹו ר‬to “has proceeded” (‫) ֵכ ֵ ּואר‬, as if Solomon were then already born.
And I will establish his kingdom.—On the setting up and elevation to the royal
dignity follows its confirmation to David’s posterity, which has been called to be
bearer of the theocratical royal office. This promise was fulfilled in the first place in
Song of Solomon, who also expresses his consciousness of this fact in 1 Kings
8:20; comp. 1 Kings 2:12.
2 Samuel 7:13. He, this thy seed, will build a house for my name.—The name
stands for God Himself, so far as He reveals Himself to His people as
covenant-God and makes Himself known in His loftiness and holiness. “To build a
house for His name” signifies therefore not simply “in His honor, or as a place to
call on Him,” but “to establish a fixed place, which should be the sign and pledge
of His abode in Israel.” To the shorter formula: “To the (or, for the) name of the
Lord” (comp. 1 Kings 8:17-20; 1 Kings 8:48; 1 Kings 3:2; 1 Kings 5:17; 1
Chronicles 22:7; 1 Chronicles 22:19; 1 Chronicles 28:3) answers the longer: “that
my name may be there, my name shall be there” ( 1 Kings 8:16; 1 Kings 8:29;
comp. 2 Chronicles 6:5; 2 Kings 23:27), or, “that my name may dwell there”
( Deuteronomy 12:11; Deuteronomy 14:23; Deuteronomy 16:11; Deuteronomy
26:2; Nehemiah 1:9), or, “that I may put my name there” ( 1 Kings 9:3; 2 Kings
21:7).And I will stablish the throne of his kingdom forever.—The royal
dominion will not only be one established in David’s house, but also one enduring
forever, never to be severed from this house. It is not here the everlasting
dominion of one king that is spoken of, but it is said: with the seed of David the
kingdom shall remain forever (= everlastingly). The everlasting stay of the
kingdom in the house of David is promised. Comp. 2 Samuel 7:25, where David
so understands this divine promise. Comp. Psalm 89:30; Psalm 72:5; Psalm 72:7;
Psalm 72:17.
2 Samuel 7:14. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son.—The
relation of fatherhood and sonship will exist between the covenant-God of Israel
and the seed of David. This denotes in the first place the relation of the most
cordial mutual love, which attests its enduring character by fidelity, and
demonstrates its existence towards the Lord by active obedience. But besides this
ethical significance of the relation of David’s seed as “son” to God as “its father”
(indicated by the Prep, “to”), we must, from the connection, note1) the origin or
descent of the son from the father; the seed of David, entrusted with everlasting
kingly dignity, has as such his origin in the will of God, owes his kingdom to the
divine choice and call, comp. Psalm 2:7; Psalm 89:27; Psalm 28:2) In the
designations “father and son” is indicated community of possession; the seed, as
Song of Solomon, receives the dominion from the father as heir, and, as this
dominion is an everlasting one, he will, as son and heir, reign forever in
possession of the kingdom. The father’s kingdom is an unlimited one, embracing
the whole world; so in the idea of sonship there lies, along with everlastingness,
the idea of all-embracing world-dominion, on which the son lawfully enters. Comp.
Psalm 89:26-30; Psalm 2:7-9. Whom, if he commits iniquity—that Isaiah, not
hypothetically, “in case he sin,” but actually, when he sins (as cannot fail to
happen); the seed, David’s posterity here spoken of is not exempted from the sin
that clings to all men—I will chasten with the rod of men and with the stripes
of the children of men.[FN29]—That Isaiah, with such punishments as men suffer
for their sins. David’s seed will be free neither from sin nor from its human
punishment. “Grace is not to release David and the Davidic line from this universal
human lot, is not to be for them a charter to sin” (Hengst.). Comp. Baur: Gesch. d.
altt. Weissag. [Hist. of O. T. Prophecy] I:392 sq. Such chastisement will not be set
aside by the cordial relation of David’s seed as son to the Lord as father, but will
rather follow David: The father will punish the son for his sins. The elevation of the
latter to such glory above all the children of men is not to be a reason for making
him an exception in respect to punishableness, but in this regard he will be
equalled with all men before God’s righteousness. Clericus, against the
connection, explains the “rod of men” to mean: “moderate punishments, such as
parents usually inflict.” Wholly wrong is the rendering: “whom if any one offend, or,
against whom if any one sin,” comp. Pffeiffer, Dubia Vexata, V:2, l. 84, p390; Russ,
De promissione Davidica soli Messiœ vindicata, Jen, 1713. In Psalm 89:31-33 we
have the further elucidation: “If his sons forsake my law and walk not in my
judgments.… I will visit them with the rod of their sin and with the stripes of their
iniquity.” Chron. omits this declaration in order to bring out the more strongly the
following thought that the divine favor will, in spite of sin, remain with David’s seed
(Hengst. ubi sup. [p135]).
2 Samuel 7:15. But my favor shall not depart from him.—It is presupposed that
in his sinning he remains faithful to the Lord, not departing from Him, and that the
chastisement leads him to repentance (comp. 1 Chronicles 28:9; Psalm 132:12).
This is clear from the following words: as I took it from Saul whom I put away
before thee.—Comp. 1 Samuel 15:23; 1 Samuel 15:26; 1 Samuel 15:28. “Before
thee,” before thy face; Saul and his kingdom had to disappear before David, who,
with his kingdom took their place, and with whose seed the kingdom will remain
forever in spite of the sins that shall be found in the individuals of his posterity, “his
sons” ( Psalm 89:31). “The contrast is that between the punishment of sin in
individuals and the favor that remains permanently with the family, whereby the
divine promise becomes an unconditioned one” (Hengst.).
2 Samuel 7:16. And thy house and thy kingdom shall be permanent, as the
result of the permanent favor and grace assured to David’s seed (comp. Psalm
89:29; Psalm 89:38; Isaiah 55:3 [“sure mercies of David,” same word as is here
rendered “established” in Eng. A. V.—Tr.]), and as the lasting fulfilment of the
promise in verse 2 Samuel12 : “I will raise up, lift up thy seed.” The word “before
thee” is arbitrarily changed by Sept. and Syr. into “before me.” Böttcher explains:
“in thy conception” (comparing 2 Samuel 7:26; 2 Samuel 7:29; 1 Kings 8:50), and
adds: “the reference is to the outlook of the living, not to a conscious participation
still granted to the dead.” O. v. Gerlach: “David, as ancestor and beginner of the
line of kings, is conceived of as he who passes all his successors before him in
vision.” Thy throne will be firm forever.—This answers to the words in 2 Samuel
7:12 : “and I will confirm his kingdom,” as the continuous effect of this promise. In
the “forever” (here twice given and resumed from 2 Samuel 7:13) in the promise
of the everlasting kingdom connected with the house of David, the prophecy
culminates. On the “firm” [‫גֵלֵמ‬, Eng. A. V.: “established,” different from the word so
rendered in the former part of this verse, which = “sure,” “faithful.”—Tr.], comp.
Micah 4:1, and on the “forever” comp. Psalm 72:17; Psalm 89:37; Psalm 45:7;
Psalm 110:4; Psalm 132:11-12. Comp. John 12:34.
2. David’s prayer.
2Sa 7:17-29.
2 Samuel 7:17. Conclusion of the preceding section and introduction to the
following. According to all these words and according to all this vision.—The
words, as the content of God’s revelation to Nathan, are distinguished from the
vision as indication of its form and mode. To suppose a dream here (Thenius)
because the revelation occurred at night ( 2 Samuel 7:4) is inadmissible—since
nothing is said of a dream; for the vision (‫)ׁשהֵ כֵמ=ׁשֵ זֵמ‬
ֵ is every where distinguished
from the revelation by dream (Keil); and in Isaiah 29:7 the word “dream “is
expressly added in order to indicate a “vision” that occurred in a dream. Our word
signifies the view, vision, as the result of the looking or gazing of the prophets
(who are called ‫ׁשּו זֵ כֵמ‬, gazers, seers) with the inner sense, whether in a waking
state or in a dream. In the former case the “vision” may denote either collectively a
number of divine Revelation, taken as a whole (so Isaiah 1:1; Obadiah 1:1;
Nahum 1:1), or, a single Revelation, as here (so Ezekiel 7:26; Daniel 8:1-2; Daniel
8:15; Daniel 8:17). But it is not the vision or view in itself that forms the essence
and substance of the prophetic Revelation, but rather the “word” or the “words” of
the Lord, which as medium of the Spirit of God come to the prophetic spirit; the
vision is the psychical form under which the revelation takes place. David’s
answer to the Lord falls into three parts: Thanks for the exceeding abundant favor
shown him and his house now in this revelation ( 2 Samuel 7:18-21), Praise to the
Lord for the great things He has done for His people in the past ( 2 Samuel
7:22-24), and Prayer for the fulfilment of the promise in the future ( 2 Samuel
a. 2 Samuel 7:18-21. David’s thanksgiving for the Lord’s gracious manifestation in
the great promise now received.—The words “David went in… before Jehovah”
indicate the powerful impression that Nathan’s communication made on David’s
soul; the divine revelation received compels him to betake himself to the
sanctuary “into the presence” of the Lord, where he “remained” (‫ֹויו‬
ַ ‫ ֶׁאש‬tarried [Eng.
A. V. sat]) sunk in contemplation and prayer. It cannot be inferred from Exodus
17:12 that David is to be thought of here as sitting; for Moses there sat from
weariness after long prayer. The verb (‫ כ ֵֶׁיו‬usually “sit”) is often used in the
general sense: “remain, tarry.” [Bib. Comm. correctly points out that, even if the
verb be rendered “sat,” it is not necessary to suppose that David prayed sitting.
He may have risen to pray after meditation. Yet sitting under such circumstances
would be a respectful attitude, and elsewhere we have no proof in the Scriptures
of a customary attitude in prayer; that Solomon ( 1 Kings 8:22) and Ezra and the
Levites ( Nehemiah 8:4; Nehemiah 9:4) stood was due to the peculiar
circumstances. It is not stated in what place David offered his prayer; it may have
been in his own house or in some part of the tabernacle.[FN30]—Tr.]—The content
of this thanksgiving-prayer is like a clear glass, wherein we see into the innermost
depths of David’s heart. His soul, wholly taken up with the divine revelation and
promise, expresses itself in the following utterances, which follow one another
quickly in accordance with the internal excitement of feeling: 1) The humble
confession of unworthiness in respect to all manifestations of favor hitherto made
to him and his house Who am I, Lord Jehovah, and what is my house? The
words answer exactly to Jacob’s words in Genesis 32:10 as the expression of the
deepest humility and feeling of nothingness over against the greatness and glory
of God. So in Psalm 8:5; Psalm 144:3 there is the contrast between the divine
loftiness and human lowliness and nothingness. That thou hast brought me
hitherto.—David reviews all the past leadings of God’s grace, in respect to which,
as manifestations of the divine favor and love, he so feels his unworthiness and
nothingness, and at the same time indirectly declares that he has hitherto
submitted himself to the Lord’s guidance. 2) David, with like humility, thanks the
Lord for this present supereminent manifestation of His favor in the promise
relating to the future of his house.
2 Samuel 7:19. He gives the liveliest expression to his humble and joyfully excited
feeling of the greatness and glory of God in the repetition of the preceding
address, “Lord Jehovah” ( 2 Samuel 7:18), and (comparing the abundant fullness
of grace in this present revelation with the former exhibitions of grace, which
culminate in it) in the first sentence of this verse (from the beginning to “great
while to come”). From the far future [Eng. A. V.: “for a great while to come”], that
Isaiah, of my house; the promise refers to favors in the far future for his house.
The sense is: if, looking at former undeserved favors, I must bow low with the
feeling of unworthiness, much more in view of the promises made out of free
grace to my house for the far future. The last sentence of this verse (‫תֵאק בְּז ּורק‬
‫ )יֵ רֵ ֵממ‬is as enigmatic as the parallel passage, 1 Chronicles 17:17 (‫כקרכ‬
ֶׁ ‫יְּ קֵא ְּּוא ֵר‬
‫)יֶׁ ֶׁמעֶׁמֵ י יֵ רֵ ֵממ‬. At the outset it must be assumed as certain that this word torah
[Eng. A. V.: manner] never=“manner, custom, mode of acting” (‫ד ְּיהֵ ק‬,‫)ׁשק‬.
Therefore the explanation (in itself very agreeable and easy): “and this (hast thou
spoken) after the manner of men, thou actest with me, that stand so infinitely
below thee, in human manner,—that Isaiah, in such friendly manner as men use
with one another” (Grotius, Gesenius, Winer, Maurer, Thenius, and De Wette:
“such is the manner of men”) is as untenable as Luther’s translation: “this is the
manner of a man who is God the Lord,” which besides rests on the conception of
this passage as directly Messianic (pointing to the incarnation of God in Christ),
and incorrectly takes “Lord Jehovah,” which here as before and after is an
address, as explanatory apposition to “man.” For the same reason the explanation
of Clericus and others is to be rejected: “in human fashion—that Isaiah, thou hast
cared for me and my family as men do for their children and grandchildren,
looking out for their future,” especially as it assigns to David’s words the very
trivial thought of caring for a family for the future. Ebrard (Herz. VI:609)
characterizes this expression, “the law of Prayer of Manasseh, of the Lord
Jehovah,” as a word of “presageful bewilderment,” and finds the explanation in 1
Chronicles 17:17, where he renders: “Thou hast looked on me like the form of
Prayer of Manasseh, who is God, Jehovah above;” David, says Ebrard, saw that
he himself was contemplated, but at the same time so that Jehovah appeared to
him here as a Prayer of Manasseh, who was also God and enthroned on high,
recognizing the fact that the final point of the promised posterity was Jehovah
Himself, but Jehovah as man and God.So already S. Schmidt, who (after Chron.)
inserts “as” before torah, taking this last=“condition, state” (‫)תֵמ‬: “O Jehovah God,
Thou hast looked on me.…Thou who, in the humble condition and infirm state of
wretched, afflicted Prayer of Manasseh, art in all things made like man.” Apart
from the incorrect, direct Messianic interpretation, all these and similar
expositions take torah in a sense that it never has. It means regularly law. Hence
Dathe and Schultz render: “such is a law for men”—that Isaiah, so should my
enemies act when they think to hurl my descendants from the throne. So Bunsen:
“This (Thy promise) is an indication (law) for men—that Isaiah, Thou wilt make
Thy will authoritative even among men.” But this explanation requires too much to
be supplied in order that the words may be understood. The same thing is true of
the rendering of Hengstenberg—which Keil adopts: “The law of Prayer of
Manasseh, the law that is to regulate the conduct of men (comp. the expression
Leviticus 6:2 (9), the law of the burnt-offering; 2 Samuel 14:2, the law of the leper;
2 Samuel 12:7, the law of the woman that has borne a child), is the law of love to
one’s neighbor, Leviticus 19:18; Micah 6:8; ‘this,’ namely, the Lord’s conduct to
him in his love and faithfulness, answers to the law by which men are to be
governed in their conduct to one another; when God the Lord so graciously and
lovingly condescends to act towards poor mortals according to this law that holds
among men, it must fill us with adoring wonder. To this answers the parallel
passage in Chron.: and thou sawest me (visitedst me, dealedst with me) after the
law of man (‫)קֵא = קֵאי‬, that Isaiah, the law of love to one’s neighbor, thou height
(!) Jehovah God.” Against this view is to be remarked1) that it requires too much
to be understood in connection with “this” and “law,” 2) that God’s acting
according to the law of love (given by Himself) cannot be thus represented as in
contrast with His greatness and glory, as if He stood above the conduct that men
(according to this law) are to follow, and should therefore be worthy of the greater
admiration if He condescended to such conduct.—As torah originally signifies
teaching, instruction, both divine ( Job 22:22; Psalm 19:8) and human ( Proverbs
1:8; Proverbs 3:1; Proverbs 4:2; Proverbs 7:2; Proverbs 28:7; Proverbs 28:9), it is
possible to render: “and this is a (divine) instruction for (poor, abject) Prayer of
Manasseh, to whom Thou so condescendest, O Lord God,” or, to paraphrase with
Bunsen: “Thou instructest me (makest disclosures to me) as one man another; so
great is thy condescension.” But this rendering, contrary to David’s tone of feeling
throughout this whole section, lays all the stress on a formal thing, namely, the
fact that God condescends to speak to him, to make disclosures to him, while it
must be the content of the Lord’s words about the future of his house that moves
him to humble thanksgiving and praise. Not the fact that the Lord condescends to
him with His word of revelation (which He has often done before), but what He has
now spoken to him is the cause of his humble thanksgiving.—For the explanation
of this obscure passage it is further to be considered that these words, uttered
abruptly and in lapidary style, are from the connection evidently to be token1) as
the expression of a joyfully excited heart, and2) as the exclamation of humble
astonishment at the greatness and glory of the grace of God in the promise given
to his house, in contrast with human lowliness, as is indicated by the word “man”
over against the address “Lord Jehovah.” The content of the promise to David’s
house for the future, to which David has just referred as the highest evidence of
the divine favor, and to which the “this” must beyond doubt be referred, is the
divine determination that the kingdom is to be one proper to his house and forever
connected with it, and is thus to have an everlasting duration. This is the divine
torah or prescription, which is to hold for a weak, insignificant man and his seed,
for poor human creatures. In the exclamation “this,” David looks in astonishment
and adoration at the glory and the everlastingness (imperishableness) that is
promised his house. This kingdom is indeed the kingdom of God Himself, and
since it is promised his house forever, divine dignity and divine possession is thus
for the farthest future ascribed to this house by that “word of the Lord;” the “Lord
Jehovah,” towards whom David already feels so humbled and lowly by reason of
His former manifestations of love and favor, now condescends to attach His
kingdom in Israel, His everlasting divine dominion forever to his house, to his
posterity, that Isaiah, to insignificant children of men, by such a law, which is
contained in that word of promise. Similarly O. v. Gerlach: “This is an expression
of wondering admiration of the gracious condescension of God. Such a law Thou
establishest for a man and his house, namely, that Thou promisest it everlasting
duration.” Comp. Bunsen: “Of so grand a promise hast Thou, O Eternal One,
thought a mortal man worthy.” [Eng. A. V., adopting the interrogative form with
negative force, apparently takes the meaning of this sentence to be: “it is not thus
that men act towards one another, but Thy ways, O Lord, are above men’s ways.”
Against this is that the word torah does not mean “manner” (so Erdmann above),
and that the sentence thus stands in no relation as to sense with the parallel
passage, 1 Chronicles 17:17.—Other interpretations (see Poole’s Synopsis) take
‫ רֵ ֵממ‬as the proper name Adam, and explain: “as Adam’s posterity rule the world,
so shall mine rule Israel,” or: “as Thou madest a covenant with Adam and his
posterity, so with me and mine;” but the proper name Adam occurs nowhere else
in the Davidic period, and this interpretation does not suit the context, especially
the sense of unworthiness expressed by David.—This word again is taken as =“a
great man” (so Bib.Com. and Abarbanel), or as =“a mean Prayer of Manasseh,”
neither of which senses it can have by itself. We cannot therefore explain: “Thou
dealest with me as is becoming (to deal with) a great Prayer of Manasseh,” or:
“this is the law (or prerogative) of a great Prayer of Manasseh, to found dynasties
that are to last into the far future” (Bib. Comm.), which interpretations (though
agreeing somewhat with 1 Chronicles 17:17) do not accord with the humility that
characterizes the whole passage. Chandler’s rendering: “this is according to the
constitution of men,” namely, that the crown should be hereditary (God graciously
making it hereditary in David’s family), is somewhat far-fetched and unsuitable to
David’s line of thought. The early English commentators mentators generally
interpret the passage as directly Messianic; but the context does not permit
this.—If our text be retained, the sentence must be rendered: “and this is the law
of Prayer of Manasseh,” that Isaiah, the promise given is the prescription made for
the government of Prayer of Manasseh, who, in comparison with God, is so low,
so unworthy of such honor; and Dr. Erdmann’s explanation is the most
satisfactory. But regard must be had to 1 Chronicles 17:17, in which it is evidently
intended to give the same thought as is given here, and which, as it now stands, is
to be rendered: “Thou regardest me according to the line of men on high.” It is
difficult to bring these two declarations into harmony. Moreover, the two texts
have enough similarity and difference to suggest that one has been altered from
the other, or that both are corruptions of the original text. The ancient versions
give little or no aid in determining text or meaning; they mostly either render
literally, or give paraphrases that cannot be gotten from the existing Hebrew, and
that offer no fruitful suggestion. It is noticeable, however, that the Chald. in
“Samuel” has: “and this is a vision of men,” while the Sept. in “Chronicles” renders:
“Thou regardedst me as a vision of Prayer of Manasseh,” and these translations
favor the causative form of the verb in Chron. (Hiph. ‫)ת ְּארֹו רכ‬,
ֶׁ or else a reading ‫ארכ‬
“vision” instead of ‫ קֵאי‬or ‫קבא‬.—Ewald (after Chron.) reads the Samuel text:
‫“ ְּמ ֶׁדעֶׁמֵ י יֵ רֵ ֵממ ְּוקֵא ב ְֵּי ְּא ֵר ֶׁקרֵ כ‬and Thou hast made me look on the line of men
upwards,” that Isaiah, into the future; and Wellhausen changes ‫תֵאי‬
ֵ (and ‫ )תֵא‬into
‫“ בֵאֵק‬Thou hast made me see generations.”—Since none of the proposed
amendments of the text are quite satisfactory (for it is not clear how our present
text originated), we must be content to know the general idea of the passage
(which does not essentially vary in the renderings of Erdmann, Ewald and
Wellhausen), namely, that David here continues his humble acknowledgment of
the divine favor.—Tr.]
2 Samuel 7:20. David here affirms3) the inexpressibleness and exceeding
abundance of the divine favor bestowed on him, and the consequent impossibility
of setting forth in words the thankfulness that he feels in his heart. And what shall
David say more to thee?—Language fails; silence is here the most eloquent
thanks. And thou knowest thy servant, Lord Jehovah.—As in 2 Samuel 7:19
the exclamation “Lord Jehovah!” formed a sharp contrast to the “ Prayer of
Manasseh,” so it does here to “thy servant,” answering to the humble
consciousness of the endless distance between him and his God, with which,
however, is connected the childlike consciousness of immediate cordial
community with God: for, as he often elsewhere appeals to God, who knows the
heart, for consolation and justification against Prayer of Manasseh, so he does
here in respect to his thankful heart, since he is sure of having the testimony of
the Omniscient for him (see Psalm 40:6; Psalm 40:10, 5, 9]).
2 Samuel 7:21. For thy word’s sake and after thy heart hast thou done all
these great things to make them known to thy servant; the concrete “great
deeds”[FN31] is here meant, not the abstract “greatness,” see Psalm 71:21; Psalm
145:3. The word “this” [Eng. A. V. “these”] shows that the great things here
referred to are the splendid promises that the Lord announced through Nathan to
Him, his servant. Looking, now, at all the great things that the Lord has done for
him in this Revelation, David declares4) the supernatural, superhuman eternal
ground and origin of these new great manifestations of favor (which exceed all
preceding ones) in “the word” and in “the heart” of God, that Isaiah, in His free
gracious will, which is independent of all human merit. For Thy word’s sake.
Chron 2 Sa 2 Samuel 5:19 : “for thy servant’s sake,” that Isaiah, because Thou
hast chosen and called me to be king of Israel. “For David does not boast before
God that his own merit had gained him these things” (Cler.). According to this
point of view “the word” is perhaps that word of choice and destination given in 1
Samuel 16:12 (“the Lord said, Arise, anoint him, for this is he”), as Hengst.
supposes. It is possibly, however, the old prophecy concerning the Tribe of Judah
in Genesis 49:10; “for that David recognized the connection between the promise
given him through Nathan and the prophecy of Genesis 49:10, is shown by 1
Chronicles 28:4, where he represents his choice to be king as the result of the
choice of Judah to be prince” (Keil). [It does not appear from this passage in
Chron. that David means more than that the tribe of Judah had been now selected
in his person as the royal tribe.—Tr.]. “And according to thy heart,” that Isaiah,
according to the love and grace by which thy heart is filled, from thy loving
will.[FN32] Clericus: “From the spontaneous motion of thy mind, without external
incitement.” Comp. Exodus 34:6; Psalm 103:8. Over against “God’s heart” as the
source of the great favor received David sets his heart as filled with humble
thanks therefor; but his word of thanks must stand dumb before the clear Yea and
Amen and the earlier words of promise of God, the Yea and Amen of which is this
exhibition of favor. In thus deriving it from God’s faithfulness to His promise, and
from His heart-love, he adds the positive thought to the negative “who am I?” of 2
Samuel 7:18, and so leads the conclusion of this thanksgiving back to its
beginning. [“To make thy servant know,” or, as in Chron. ( 2 Samuel 5:19) “to
make known all (these) great things.” God not only in His sovereign mercy
determined great things for David, but further for his consolation and
strengthening made them known to him through His prophet.—Tr.]
b. 2 Samuel 7:22-24. Praise of the Lord’s greatness and incomparable glory as
manifested by this highest exhibition of favor, in accord with the great deeds
whereby in times of old He made Himself known to His people as their God.
2 Samuel 7:22. Therefore, because Thou hast done so great things for me, on
the ground of this experience of Thine abounding favor, thou art great, Lord God;
comp. 2 Samuel 7:26 : “and Thy name will be great,” not: “considered great”
(Luth.), nor: “be Thy name praised by me” (5. Gerl, Then.), but it is an assertion of
greatness manifested objectively in facts. The factual confession “great is the
Lord” (comp. Psalm 35:27; Psalm 40:17 (16) is precisely praise to God. —Now
follows the ground for this praise of the Lord’s greatness: For there is none like
thee—this declares God’s incomparableness. Comp. Exodus 15:11 “who is like
thee, etc.?” Deuteronomy 3:24. And there is not a God beside thee, declaration
of God’s aloneness and exclusiveness, comp. Deuteronomy 4:35; 1 Samuel 2:2.
According to all that we have heard with our ears; [FN33] David here passes
from the contemplation of the greatness, incomparableness and soleness,
wherein the Lord has declared Himself to him in the present, to the praise of God
in the review of the great deeds whereby in the past He has revealed Himself to
His people as such a God. “In Psalm 40:6 David rises, just as here, from his
personal experience to the whole line of God’s glorious manifestations in the
history of His people” (Hengst.).
2 Samuel 7:23. And what nation is as thy people, as Israel any [nation] on
earth? The initial “and,” according to the sense, gives the factual ground of what
precedes. We cannot render: “where Isaiah, as Israel, a nation, etc.” (De W. [and
Luther])[FN34], nor “for whose sake God went, etc.”, (Hengst.), but must translate:
“what nation … whom God, etc.” Elohim[FN35] here stands with a plural verb—as
often elsewhere where heathen idol-worship is referred to, as in Exodus 32:4;
Exodus 32:8, where Elohim is used of the golden calf (“these are thy gods, that
brought thee out of Egypt”), comp. Deuteronomy 4:7; 1 Kings 12:29, while, as
name of the God of Israel, it has a singular verb or other complement—because
the thought is here intended to be expressed that there is no nation but Israel that
had been redeemed by its deity or its idols by such a deed as that by which the
true God had redeemed Israel to be His people. It is therefore unnecessary to
change the verb into the singular, reading “brought” ( ‫)יֵמכה‬
instead of
“went” (‫)יֵ ְּמלּו‬. In consequence of God’s great deeds Israel is a people sole of its
kind, to be compared with no other, comp. Deuteronomy 4:7; Deuteronomy 33:29.
By His great deed, the deliverance out of Egypt, He has proved Himself to His
people to be the only God, besides whom there is no God, and with whom no
other is to be compared ( Exodus 15:11-13; Deuteronomy 4:34). Whom God
went (put Himself in motion) to purchase to himself (redeem) for a people; the
deliverance from Egypt was the suigeneric, incomparable deed of the
incomparable, sole God, whereby He made Israel an independent nation and
gained them out of all nations as His own possession. And to make himself a
name; that deed of redemption is the factual historical proof that He is the true
God, who has not His equal, and the God of Israel in the fulness of His might and
of the revelation of His grace, and this fulness it is that makes His name. In this
His name (whereby Israel only knows and names Him as the God that led them
out of Egypt) He is contrasted with the vain idols of the heathen nations as the
one true God ( Joshua 24:17; Judges 2:1; Judges 2:12; Judges 6:13).—And to
do for you great things and terrible. The “for you” refers not to “gods” (Elohim),
but to “people;” but it is not necessary to change the text to “for them” (after the
Vulgate), because, David’s soul being filled and excited with the thought of his
people, in the course of his prayer his words turn suddenly in increasing vividness
from reference to the people naturally and immediately to the people itself, and
“since also 1 Chronicles17. has in its ‘for thee’ this easily explicable leap to an
address to the thing spoken of” (Böttch.). [But the address to the people is much
harder than the address to God, and it seems better to read “for them.”—Tr.].—On
the other hand, the “for thy land” gives no good sense without forcing, and Chron.
has instead of this “to drive out” ( 2 Samuel 7:21). It is therefore better (with the
Sept. τοῦ ἐκβαλεῖν σε) to suppose a clerical error, and (taking ‫ ְּמג ֵַא ְּיה‬as the true
text) to render: (namely) that thou drovest out before thy people.—The frightful,
terrible things are the great deeds of the Lord in connection with the destruction of
the heathen nations. On this idea comp. Exodus 15:11; Deuteronomy 10:21. The
fundamental passage respecting the expulsion of foreign nations is Exodus
23:27-33, where this verb “drive out” (‫ )םאי‬is repeatedly used. Which thou
redeemedst to thee from Egypt.—This fundamental deed of the God of Israel is
expressly mentioned in this parenthetical sentence, because the right of property
that He thereby had in His people chosen out of the nations, necessarily led to His
maintaining and defending them against the heathen nations, and the destruction
of the Egyptians in this deed was the prelude to God’s for Israel “great” but for the
hostile Canaanites “terrible deeds,” whereby He placed Israel in position to drive
their enemies out of the land. The heathen and their gods; these words depend
on the verb “drovest out.” Keil (who retains the “for thy land,” rejecting the
alteration according to Chron.) takes these words as apposition to “from Egypt”
and supplies the prep. “from” before them [so Eng. A. V. and
Philippson.—Tr.].—But this construction is inadmissible, because the Plur.
“nations” does not accord with the Sing. “Egypt.” After the deliverance from Egypt
David will celebrate the expulsion of the heathen from Canaan as a great deed of
God. The Sing. suffix [Heb. “nations and its gods”] gives no sense after the Plu.
noun; to take it distributively, as Keil does (“the gods of each of these heathen
nations”), is too hard; we must therefore read the Plu. suffix “their gods.”
2 Samuel 7:24. The result of God’s mighty deeds stated in 2 Samuel 7:23. And
thou hast confirmed to thyself thy people Israel, comp. 2 Samuel 7:10; it is
God’s act whereby in the conquered land the people were led to the firm
establishment of their dwellings, their possessions, and their whole life. The
thought does not go back to the time of Moses, but advances from the foregoing
fact of the subjection and expulsion of “the heathen nations and their gods” to the
establishment of the people in Canaan. To be a people to thee forever. The
design of God’s gracious benefits was: 1) Israel was to belong to Him alone as His
property;[FN36] through God’s mighty deeds the long-since executed choice of the
people as His property is ever anew confirmed, and their obligation, to belong to
and serve Him alone as people, ever repeated2) “For ever” they were to belong to
Him as His people. This appointment of the people to be everlasting is remarkable;
there shall never cease to be such a people of possession on the ground of such
gracious manifestations and saving acts of the Lord. To this idea of the
everlasting continuance of a people of God, (—“all nations are finally merged in
this people, the divine Israel, the congregation of Jesus Christ,” O. v. Gerlach),
answers the promise of the everlasting continuance of the throne of David, which
gave him occasion thus to praise God for His deeds, whereby He has established
and prepared Israel for Himself as His people forever. And thou, Lord, art
become their God, as Israel has become Thy people. This His relation to His
people as their God has been established by all His revelations and deeds; for He
has thereby testified that He is their God and given Himself to them as their own.
The people on their part have contributed nothing thereto. The Lord’s free grace in
its great and glorious manifestation is the source and origin of this
covenant-association, wherein God is His people’s God and the people their
God’s people. [Bib. Com. here refers well to Genesis 17:7-8; Exodus 6:7—Tr.]
c. 2 Samuel 7:25-29. David’s prayer for the fulfilment of the promise, attached to
his thanksgiving for the past, his glance passing from the splendor of the present
(to which the promise has led him) to the future.
2 Samuel 7:25. David here distinguishes between the two applications of the
promise, to him personally and to his house: that thou hast spoken concerning
thy servant and concerning his house; “establish it forever,” as indeed it has
promised the everlasting continuance of the house and of the kingdom. Let thy
word become deed.
2 Samuel 7:26. Design or consequence of the fulfilment: that thy name may
become great forever.—David has in eye, as the highest end of the fulfilment,
not the honor of his house, not the glory of the people, but solely the honor of the
Lord. Saying, the Lord of Sabaoth is God over Israel, that Isaiah, “the almighty
God, who rules heaven and earth, is the defender and protector of Israel, His
people; He attests Himself as their God by protecting the royal house on which
depends Israel’s welfare” (Hengst.). And the house of thy servant David will be
established before thee.—The petition here assumes the form of confident hope.
This expression of definite expectation by reason of its boldness needs basing on
a sure foundation, as is done in 2 Samuel 7:27, where it returns to the form of
confident petition. For this reason the initial particle in 2 Samuel 7:27 (‫ )יֵ כ‬is to be
rendered “for” (with Luth, Buns, De W, Hengst.) as giving the ground of what
precedes, and not to be connected with the following “therefore”: “because thou…
therefore has” (Böttch, Then.). The former rendering accords with the liveliness of
feeling with which David prays; the latter gives a construction too sluggish for his
feeling. For thou, Lord of Sabaoth, hast uncovered the ear of thy servant, that
Isaiah, hast revealed to him through thy word (comp. 1 Samuel 9:15), saying, a
house will I build thee.—David goes back to this fundamental promise, because
in it are contained all the manifestations of favor that are promised to his family for
the future. It is on the firm basis of this word, wherein the Lord acknowledged him
and condescended to him, that David founded that confident petition: Therefore
has thy servant found his heart, that Isaiah, found courage [Eng. A. V. “found in
his heart”]. Heart = courage, Genesis 42:28; 1 Samuel 17:32; Psalm 40:13, 12]
and often elsewhere.—In 2 Samuel 7:28 and 2 Samuel 7:29 follows the
conclusion and the completion of the petition; its ground on the subjective side of
confidence and courage (which is exhibited in 2 Samuel 7:25-26) having been
given by appeal to the divine promise ( 2 Samuel 7:27), the content (not yet
expressed) of that which completes the petition, is based on the truth of the Lord’s
word [that Isaiah, he first ( 2 Samuel 7:28) appeals to God’s truth and then ( 2
Samuel 7:29) sets forth his petition in final form.—Tr.]. And now, Lord Jehovah,
thou art God,[FN37] and thy words are truth, not: “may thy words be truth,” [nor,
“will be truth.”—Tr.]. The following words of the verse are to be taken as protasis
(Thenius): And thou spakest this goodness to thy servant, wherein the
content of the promises is briefly condensed and recapitulated.
2 Samuel 7:29. The “and now” resumes the “and now” of 2 Samuel 7:28 : And
now begin (not: let it please thee) to bless (Sept, Vulg.) the house of thy
servant that it may continue forever before thee; the everlasting continuance
of the house depends on the blessing of the Lord; the beginning in the blessing
that secures the everlasting continuance is related to the “forever.” [Erdmann here
follows Thenius in rendering “begin” instead of “let it please thee” as Eng. A. V.;
the Hebrew word properly means “to set one’s self to do a thing with free
determination of will,” and the rendering of the Septuagint and Vulgate “begin” is
only a very general one and not very correct. We cannot easily find a better
rendering than that of Eng. A. V, which is the usual one; other possible
translations are: “make up thy mind, set thyself to, take in hand.”—Tr.] For thou,
Lord Jehovah, hast spoken; these words represent the content of 2 Samuel
7:28 as the divine ground of the desired fulfilment of the promise, since in them is
given the security for the confident hope that is expressed in the concluding word:
And from [or, with] thy blessing will the house of thy servant be blessed
forever. Instead of “thou wilt bless,” it reads: “from thy blessing” as the source of
all blessings “will the house of thy servant” to which thou hast promised
everlasting existence “be blessed forever,” which is the condition of everlasting
continuance. David’s prayer is completed by the expression of confident hope,
and goes over into prophecy. [This future rendering of the last clause gives a
richer sense and one more appropriate in the connection (God has spoken and it
will be so) than the optative form of Eng. A. V. So substantially 1 Chronicles
1. Historically the divine revelation and promise that came to David through
Nathan, concerning the theocratic-messianic kingdom that was forever connected
with his seed, presupposes the previous development of the idea of the theocratic
kingdom. Comp. pp68 sqq, 186 sqq. [Hist. and Theol. to 1 Samuel8.]. In this
development (which advances from the general to the particular, from the promise
of salvation for all nations to be realized through the whole nation descended from
Abraham) the promise that assigns to the house and family of David the position
of bearer and mediator of the Messianic blessing is based on the prophecy which,
out of the seed of Abraham as represented by the twelve sons of Jacob and the
corresponding tribes, designates the tribe of Judah as the bearer of a royal
dominion that embraces and brings peace to all the nations of the earth ( Genesis
49:10). “While up to this time the tribe only had been designated in which an
imperishable dominion was to be established, and out of which at last the Saviour
was to come, under David the designation of the family also was added” (Hengst.
Christol. [Eng. tr, p123]). The really existing theocratic kingdom, as exhibited in
David’s government, approximated very nearly to the ideal significance of the
kingdom over Israel; that Isaiah, to being God’s dominion over His people through
the human organ chosen by Him, who was in humility and obedience
unconditionally to subject his own will to the divine will. On the basis of this fact
the prophecy of a future seed of David, that should, in the possession of an
everlasting royal dominion, stand in closest community with God as His son, could
take shape, as here in Nathan’s word. In contrast with the kingdom of Saul, which
came into sharp opposition to the idea of the absolute divine dominion in Israel,
and consequently into permanent conflict with the other theocratic institutions (the
Prophetic office and the Priesthood), there appeared, through the rule of David,
the man after God’s own heart ( 1 Samuel 13:14), on the one hand, the idea of the
theocracy, in such manner that David regarded himself only as the “servant of the
Lord,” and wished to be nothing but the humble, obedient instrument of the divine
government over the people, and on the other hand, the royal office was elevated
to the position of being the controlling and centralizing point of all the theocratic
main elements of the national life. This, then, was the basis of the further
development of the Messianic idea, the way for which was paved by Nathan’s
word to David, wherein the idea of the theocratic kingdom, which reached its
highest point in David, was most intimately connected with David’s royal house.
2. The historical character of Nathan’s prophecy shows itself in the first place in its
factual occasion. This lies in the relative contrast in the plans of human and divine
wisdom. David’s plan, after subduing his enemies, to build a temple to the Lord’s
honor in the midst of His people, together with Nathan’s agreement thereto,
corresponds thoroughly with the theocratic disposition of the two men, and with
their recognition of the Lord’s relation to His people as the people of His
possession, and of the people’s character as a priestly kingdom. But according to
God’s thought, the right time for this was not yet come; for the execution of this
plan (which is not in itself rejected) the divine wisdom demands1) that the present
condition of the people should cease, for (despite David’s victories) they were still
surrounded by threatening heathen nations, had not found sure and permanent
rest, and so God’s sanctuary must still be a wandering tent; 2) that David’s house
and the kingdom therewith connected should be completely, forever and finally
established as basis for the unfolding of the divine dominion [theocracy] over the
people of Israel and the other nations, as this dominion was to be exhibited in
God’s enthroned dwelling in the permanent house [temple]. Nathan is made
acquainted with these thoughts and ways of God’s wisdom through a divine
Revelation, in consequence of which he now in his divine-prophetic word does not
indeed principially [fundamentally or essentially] reject the plan to build a temple
to the Lord, but still announces the Lord’s will that the execution of this plan is to
be reserved for the seed of David. The view that the prophet’s restraining word
declares that Jehovah needs in general no stately house (Diestel, Jahrb. f.
deutsche Theol., 1863, p559) finds no support in the text, which says nothing
more in 2 Samuel 7:5 than that David should not build; and the assertion (ubi sup.)
that the prohibition is in no way based on grounds derived from the special
situation is obviously opposed to the statement of reasons in 2 Samuel 7:6-11,
wherein Israel’s wanderings are connected with the still continuing unrest and
insecurity of David’s time (the enemies being yet not definitively subdued), and
the thought is clearly enough expressed that the temple cannot yet be built
because quiet is still to be secured against enemies. There Isaiah, therefore, no
ground for referring (Diestel) the prohibition of the temple-building to an ancient
strict opinion [against such building]; nothing of this sort can be meant here, since
the symbolical conception of God’s dwelling in space amid His people in a
permanent temple is no more opposed to the strict conception of the being
[essence] of God than that of His dwelling in a movable tent. And so also there is
no sufficient ground for assigning this prohibition to some one else than Nathan,
to Gad, for example. Rather the section 2 Samuel 7:4-16 is in accord both with the
historical situation that it presupposes and to which it refers, and with
itself.—From another side the concrete[FN38] reference to Solomon’s birth and the
temple-building to be completed by him has been adduced against the purely
historical character of the words of Nathan and David; it is affirmed to be
clear—from this reference, and from a comparison between it and the ideal
picture of the kingdom contained in the words, and by comparing the brief and
very peculiar “last words of David,” especially 2 Samuel 23:5—that we have here
a later post-Solomonic remodelling of the original promise, and that this original
promise, which was of a more general form, was at a later time more distinctly
stated according to events that had meantime occurred (G. Baur, ubi sup., p394,
405). Against which, however, is to be remarked1) that those special designations
are by no means so concretely set forth; there is nothing but a general statement
of the raising up of the seed after David and of a building of the temple by this
seed; 2) Solomon’s discourse in 1 Kings 5:5 presupposes that Nathan’s words
contained precisely this statement. Thenius also opposes this supposition of an
ex post facto remodelling of these prophetic words, remarking (p176, 2d ed.): “For
the rest there is no ground to suppose with De Wette that Nathan’s prophecy was
not composed till after Solomon; Psalm 89. ( 2 Samuel 7:4-5; 2 Samuel 7:20-29, 3,
4, 19–37], especially 2 Samuel 7:20, 19]), Psalm 132:11-12, and Isaiah 55:3
attest its historical truth, and rightly understood it as Messianic also.”—To this
must be added that David’s prayer ( 2 Samuel 7:18-29) which in its peculiar
individuality bears the marks of genuineness or originality, presupposes the whole
content of Nathan’s words as here reported, especially the reference to the future
and to the everlasting continuance of David’s house (comp. 2 Samuel 7:19; 2
Samuel 7:25-27; 2 Samuel 7:29); and so also his Psalm 18. ( 2 Samuel 22),
especially the close, and his last word ( 2 Samuel 23:1-7).
3. The chief points in the content of this prophecy, which is introduced by the word:
“Not thou shalt build for the Lord a house, but the Lord will build thee a house,” are
the following (in order of mention): 1) God promises David a seed destined and
called to be the bearer of the theocratical kingdom. It is true, the promise relates
to David’s house in general ( 2 Samuel 7:11; 2 Samuel 7:16; 2 Samuel 7:19; 2
Samuel 7:25-27; 2 Samuel 7:29). But the house is not identical with the seed, to
whom refer the declarations that form the gist of the prophecy. This seed is not
the whole posterity, but a selection from it; comp. 2 Samuel 7:12 : “I will raise up
thy seed after thee” with 1 Chronicles 17:11, according to which the seed is to be
of the sons of David; nor is it restricted to a single person, but signifies the
posterity selected and appointed by God, which is to be bearer for all future time
of the theocratic kingdom2) For this seed chosen by God’s free grace, wherein is
represented the house that the Lord builds for David, the kingdom is firmly
established; the securely established royal authority will be attached to the house
of David ( 2 Samuel 7:12). 3) To the Davidic kingdom, the bearer of which is
David’s seed, an everlasting duration is promised; the reference is not to the
everlasting rule of a single king, but to the endless continuance of the kingdom of
David’s seed. Like the promised kingdom, the house of David also has a
perpetual duration ( 2 Samuel 7:13; 2 Samuel 7:16). 4) God promises to be the
Father of David’s seed, and pledges it such an intimate relation to Himself that it
shall be His son. As God is the Father of the people of Israel by the fact that He
has chosen them as His people by free grace, made them His people by
redemption, led them by His paternal love, obligated them to obedience, and
sanctified them to be the people of His possession, so He is the Father of the
everlasting royal seed of David by the fact that He has chosen it for His kingly
house in Israel, and made and formed it to be bearer of His everlasting dominion
over His people, and it is His son by love of most intimate fellowship with God,
and by the humble obedience wherein it thoroughly subjects its will to the divine
will. “As all Israelites are sons of Jehovah ( Deuteronomy 14:1), so must the king
be in special measure, but only as the head of the chosen people of God” (Diestel,
ubi sup. 559). 5) On the ground of this relation of father and son the favor of God
will abide unchanged with the seed of David, that Isaiah, the theocratic king. He
will, indeed, be punished for the sins into which he falls; but these chastisements
will never reach the point of rejection, as happened in Saul’s case; the sins of
David’s seed will, for the sake of the promise given to David, never set aside the
divine counsel.—“The word of the prophet Nathan and the thanksgiving of David
mark the culmination of the Davidic history” (Baumgarten).
4. The significance of the prophecy for the Messianic expectation of salvation.
The direct Messianic reference to Christ (Tertull. ad Marc. iii20; Lactant. divin.
instit. 4, 13; August. de civ. Dei, 17, 8; Rupert von Deutz, Beza, S. Schmid, Calov,
Pfeiffer, Buddeus, and other old theologians [Patrick (in part), A. Clarke]) stands
(apart from the un-historical view of the nature of Messianic prophecy that lies at
its foundation) in contradiction with the sinning of David’s seed ( 2 Samuel
7:14-15), whereby a purely human and sinful posterity is designated, and with the
temple-building ( 2 Samuel 7:13), which can only be understood of earthly work.
[Some attempt to set aside these objections to a direct Messianic interpretation by
suggesting that the sin in the case of Christ is the sin He bore for men, as in Isaiah
53. (Gill), or by rendering 2 Samuel 7:14 “even in his suffering for iniquity I shall
chasten him,” etc. (A. Clarke), and by regarding the house built by Christ as a
spiritual one; but this translation of the Heb. is not admissible, and the
spiritualizing in the other case is harsh and contrary to the plain meaning of the
text. Such a prophecy must be treated as that of the “Servant of Jehovah” in
Isaiah and as the Parable of the Prodigal Son; the main spiritual idea must be
determined, and its fulfilment looked for in the Messiah, without attempting to
transfer all the details into the sphere of permanent spiritual history.—Tr.]—The
limitation of the prophecy to Solomon and his immediate posterity (Rabbinical
writers, Grotius) is opposed to the “everlasting” duration that is promised the
Davidic kingdom, and that cannot be weakened into a designation of a long period
of time (comp. Psalm 89:30, 29]). [The phrase “forever” (the Eng. rendering of
several different but substantially equivalent phrases in Heb.) sometimes
indicates a limited period of time (as in 1 Samuel 1:22), where the limitation is
determined by the nature of the case or by statements in the context; here the
absence of any special limiting statements, taken in connection with the general
tone of the promises to Israel in the Old Test, leads us to the conclusion that an
unlimited duration is intended to be expressed.—Tr.]—The interpretation that
refers the words in part immediately and directly to Christ, in part to Solomon and
his nearest posterity is found already in Theodoret (2 Reg. quœst. 21), who
explains 2 Samuel 7:12-13 a, 14 b, 15 of David’s immediate bodily descendants,
but 2 Samuel 7:13 b, 14 a, 16 of Christ. So also Brenz: “he does not wholly
exclude Song of Solomon, yet refers principally to Christ.” Similarly Sack
(Apologet. 243sq.) says that the seed of 2 Samuel 7:12-13 is to be understood of
the Messiah, but the content of 2 Samuel 7:14-15 of the earlier scions of the
Davidic house, from whom, notwithstanding their sins, the kingdom is never or at
least not soon to be withdrawn. But this supposition of a double reference is as
much opposed by the unity and continuity of the prophet’s thoughts and views (as
traced in the Exposition) as the related supposition (based on the presupposition
of a double sense in the Scripture) according to which Nathan’s word refers in the
literal sense to Song of Solomon, in the mystical sense to Christ (Glass, philol.
sacra, p272). [We must distinguish between this mechanical view of a double
sense in Scripture and the view that assigns to certain persons and things a
typical-prophetical position in the development of the plan of salvation.—Tr.]
In the first place it must be determined in what respect we are to suppose a
factual fulfilment of this promise in David’s own lifetime, and then in his posterity.
David himself, in 1 Chronicles 22:9 sq, refers them first to Solomon, applying to
him the words: “he will be to me a son and I will be to him a father, and I will
establish the law of his kingdom over Israel for ever.” David does the same in 1
Chronicles 28:2 sq, both times with the exhortation faithfully to observe the
commandments and judgments of God, and by obedience to the Lord’s will to live
worthy of his high calling in order that the promise might be fulfilled. So also
Solomon applies the promise to himself, 1 Kings 5:5; 2 Chronicles 6:7 sq.; 1 Kings
8:17-20. In 1 Kings 9:4-5 God confirms to him the power given to David, assuring
him that if he would walk before His face as David did, and faithfully keep His
commandments, He would establish the throne of his dominion forever, in
accordance with His promise to David: “there shalt not fail thee a man from the
throne of Israel.”—Punishment for his defection from the living God was visited on
Solomon by the separation of the Ten Tribes under Jeroboam; but the promise
that His favor should yet not be withdrawn from David’s house is also fulfilled, the
kingdom “for David’s sake” and “that David, the servant of the Lord, might always
have a light before him in Jerusalem, which He had chosen to put His name
there,” remaining to the seed of David, which for this sin “is to be afflicted, but not
forever.” The humbling of David’s seed was to be only temporary, and the promise
of the everlasting kingdom was to be fulfilled not in Jeroboam’s house, but in
David’s, 1 Kings 11:31-39. Abijah, the son of Rehoboam, walked in the sins of his
father, and his heart was not wholly with the Lord; but for David’s sake the Lord
his God gave Rehoboam a light in Jerusalem, in that he raised up his son after
him and let Jerusalem stand, because David had done what was right in the sight
of the Lord ( 1 Kings 15:4-5). Jehoram did that which was evil in the eyes of the
Lord; but the Lord would not destroy Judah for David his servant’s sake, as He
had promised to give him a light in his sons alway ( 2 Kings 8:18-19). “While
prophecy announces the downfall of one dynasty after another of the Ten Tribes,
it also indeed threatens individual apostate kings in Judah with the divine
judgment, but never questions the continuance of the right of David’s family to the
throne. David’s crown may be taken away; but there will come one to whom it
belongs, Ezekiel 21:32, 27]” (Œhler, Herz. IX:412). The promise is thus referred to
all David’s descendants that were called to the throne from Solomon on (comp.
Psalm 89:20-50; Psalm 132:10-11) in accordance with the word of David in 2
Samuel 7:25, wherein he speaks of the promise of an everlasting kingdom as one
that is given forever to his house.—Nathan’s prophecy has thus in the first place a
fundamental significance for the development of the kingdom of God and the
salvation therein unfolded, in so far as from now on for all time the kingdom of
Israel with its theocratic calling to realize God’s dominion in the life of His people,
and to fulfil the ends of His kingdom, towers far above the Prophetic Office (as the
organ of the revelation and announcement of God’s will to His people), and above
the High-priesthood (as expiatory mediation between the sinful people and the
holy God). All hopes and expectations of the future salvation under the theocracy
that is realizing itself in the people attach themselves to the idea of the theocratic
kingdom, which is the representative and manifestation of the kingdom of God
itself and therefore everlasting, as also the people of God themselves have
received the promise of everlasting duration ( Deuteronomy 11:21). But this
kingdom is exclusively the Davidic; with the seed of David (so far as this seed is
chosen and appointed for it) it goes forth as everlasting bearer of the favors and
blessings of God, of which the people partake on the ground of the covenant that
God has concluded with David ( Isaiah 55:3). “Things may indeed be affirmed of
every king that sits on David’s throne that are true in the first instance not of him
personally, but of the kingdom that he represents (comp. passages like Psalm
21:5; Psalm 21:7; Psalm 61:7). But, impelled by the Spirit, the sacred poesy
produces a kingly form that far transcends what the present shows, and exhibits
the Davidic and Solomonic kingdom in its archetypal completeness” (Oehler, Herz.
IX:412). The idea of the theocratic Davidic kingdom of everlasting duration, and
with the stamp of sonship assumes from this prophecy a concrete form in the
ideal of a theocratic king who proceeds from the seed of David. This latter is
called in Psalm 2:7; Psalm 2:12, “the son of God” absolutely; in Psalm 110:1
declared to be the ruler that shares with God His unlimited might and power over
heaven and earth, and even David’s lord; in Psalm 72 everlasting dominion to the
ends of the earth is ascribed to him, and in Psalm 45:2 the name “Elohim, God,”
itself is given him. In David’s prophetic word in 2 Samuel23this ideal takes the
form of a righteous ruler, who introduces a glorious future, in Psalm 2, 110, that of
a victorious prince who as son and heir of God in unconquerable power extends
his dominion by vigorous battles over the whole earthy and brings His foes to his
feet, and in Psalm 72that of a powerful prince, who conducts His government in
divine righteousness, dispenses weal and blessing to the wretched, stretches out
His kingdom of peace and its blessings over all princes and nations of the earth
and receives their homage.—[More correctly, these passages refer first to a
present earthly monarch looked on as representing the ideal king, and their
assertions, partially true of the finite earthly king, are to be realized in one that
shall be identical with the ideal.—Tr.] Further the promise given to David is the
foundation of all Messianic prophecies and hopes in the prophets concerning the
completion of the kingdom of God, its revelations of grace and its blessings of
salvation, comp. Oehler ubi sup. 413. The idea of the everlasting victorious and
peaceful theocracy that embraces not only Israel, but all the nations of the earth,
and the ideal of the theocratic king, proceeding from David’s house and seed, and
standing in the exclusive relation to God of Song of Solomon, who introduces and
exercises this dominion [the theocracy], finds its full reality in the Messiah, Jesus
Christ, the Son of God and Son of David, who is anointed without measure with
the Holy Ghost and by the complete indwelling of God in His person exhibits
Himself as the personal principle of the kingdom of God. The view that the
descent of Christ from the Davidic race does not belong to the essential content of
the fulfilment of the idea of the Old Testament-kingdom (G. Baur, 407) is refuted
by the constant declarations of the prophets concerning the Davidic descent of
the great king, as well as by the universal Jewish conception of the Messiah as
the son of David ( Matthew 22:42 sq.), both of which rest on this fundamental
prophecy. Jesus Himself accepts the name of “Son of David” without protest; Paul
( Romans 1:3), the Epistle to the Hebrews ( 2 Samuel 7:14), and the Apocalypse
( 2 Samuel 5:5; 2 Samuel 22:16) declare Him to be a descendant of David. “How
deep this promise penetrated David’s soul is shown by his thanksgiving prayer in
2 Samuel 7:18 sq. The Messiah is not therein spoken of in the first instance; it
relates to the ideal person of the Davidic race; but its final fulfilment in the Messiah
is already contained indirectly in its own content, since the everlastingness of a
merely human kingdom is inconceivable; this became clearer to David the more
he compared this promise with the Messianic idea that had come down from the
fathers; it finally reached full certainty in his mind through the further inward
disclosures that attached themselves to this fundamental promise which occupied
David day and night” (Hengst, Gesch. d. Reich. Gott. unter d. Alt. Bundes, 1871,
II:2, 124 [Hengstenberg’s Hist. of the Kingdom of God under the Old Covenant]).
5. The prayer of David after the reception of the Lord’s promise of favor ( 2
Samuel 7:18-29) bears testimony to the unexpected, joyfully surprising revelation
that was made to him, and mirrors his childlike humility, fervid devotion and
unshakable confidence towards his God. To this prayer which proceeds from a
joyfully shocked and deeply moved heart, applies (so far as is possible from the
Old Testament stand-point) what Bernard of Clairvaux says of true prayer: “If the
way to God’s throne is to stand free and open to our prayer, and it is there to find
ready acceptance and hearing, it must proceed from an humble, fervid and
trusting heart. Humility teaches us the necessity of prayer, fervor gives it flight and
endurance, trust provides it with an unmovable foundation.” The humility of the
praying servant of God expresses itself in the declaration of its own littleness and
unworthiness: 1) in view of the many manifestations of favor, through which the
Lord has brought him in the past up to this point ( 2 Samuel 7:18); 2) In view of the
great promises for the future that He has given him out of free grace ( 2 Samuel
7:19); and3) In view of the paternal kindness, wherein He has condescended to
him in this present revelation of love ( 2 Samuel 7:20-21). “All without merit or
worthiness of mine” (Luther).—A further special exhibition of humility is the
occurrence of the word “servant” three times in 2 Samuel 7:18-21 and seven
times in 2 Samuel 7:25-29. “This thanksgiving confirms anew the fact that the only
foundation on which the true godliness and everlastingness of the kingdom can
rest is the purity and holiness of an humble heart, and therefore the hearty and
living humility of David’s thanksgiving may give us the strongest assurance that
here is really enthroned the culmination of all royal rule” (Baumgarten).—In the
prayer humility is combined with childlike fervor and sincerity, wherewith: 1) God’s
power and glory, as revealed in His previous gracious deeds for His people, is
praised and celebrated ( 2 Samuel 7:22-23); 2) God’s love, wherein He
acknowledges Himself to be His people’s God and Lord, is declared ( 2 Samuel
7:24); and3) God’s name is invoked from the depths of a heart full of the
consciousness of His gracious presence. (“The name Jehovah occurs twelve
times, and is ten times addressed. In the address the simple Jehovah occurs once,
Adonai Jehovah six times, Jehovah Elohim twice, and Jehovah Sabaoth once.
The address Adonai Jehovah is found at the beginning and at the end. The third
division first takes up the divine names of the second, and then returns at the
close to that of the first.” Hengst, ubi sup., 158.)—[Compare the use of divine
names in the parallel passage in 1 Chronicles17.—Tr.]). With humility and fervor
is combined hearty trust 1) in the prayer for the fulfilment of the gracious promise;
2) in the appeal to the truthfulness of God’s word; and3) in the confident hope of
God’s blessing ( 2 Samuel 7:25-29).
2 Samuel 7:1-11. “The Lord is with thee” ( 2 Samuel 7:3). I. How the Lord owns
Himself as thine: 1) In battle and victory over all thy enemies; 2) In the quietness
and peace of thy heart; 3) In the blessing of thy house; 4) In the instructions of His
word. II. How thou shouldst consequently place thyself with respect to the Lord: 1)
In joyful willingness to prove thy gratitude to Him; 2) In humble obedience of faith
to His will when it rejects thy thoughts; 3) In humbly letting thy house be built for
thee by Him, and letting Him give to thee before thou wilt give to Him; and4) In
awaiting with childlike confidence His blessing for the future.
Giving and Taking in the relation of man to God: 1) “A man can receive nothing,
except it be given him from heaven;” but2) A man can also give nothing to God
the Lord, except it be first given him by the Lord.
“I was with thee whithersoever thou wentest” ( 2 Samuel 7:9): 1) How far this
divine testimony has been confirmed in the guidance of thy whole course of life; 2)
How its truth should qualify thee to know His ways in the guidance of His people,
and in the history of His kingdom; 3) What obligation is thereby laid on thee in
relation to thy God.
2 Samuel 7:12-16. The fulfilment of the great and gracious promise of God to
David, in Christ the Son of David: 1) In His person, He is not merely David’s seed
= seed of the woman = Abraham’s seed, but also God’s Song of Solomon 2) In
His office, He is King over the kingdom of God, King of all kings; 3) In His
possession of power, He has an everlasting kingdom, to Him is given all power in
heaven and on earth; 4) In His work, He builds for the name of God the Father a
house, a spiritual temple in humanity, out of living stones (comp. John 2:19).
[ 2 Samuel 7:16-17. Robert Hall: The advantages of Civil Government contrasted
with the blessings of the Spiritual Kingdom of Jesus Christ (Works, Am. Ed, III,
444): 1) As to security, and the sense of security2) Liberty. 3) Plenty. 4) A
tendency to improvement in social institutions5) Stability.—Tr.]
2 Samuel 7:18-24. The greatness of the manifestations of God’s grace: 1) They
infinitely surpass the desert and worthiness of sinful men (Who am I? etc.), 2
Samuel 7:18; 2 Samuel 2) They fill all times, from the remotest past into the
farthest future ( 2 Samuel 7:18-19); 3) They are high-exalted above all human
thoughts and words, which cannot comprehend and express them ( 2 Samuel
7:20); 4) They are deep-grounded in God’s word and heart ( 2 Samuel 7:21).
2 Samuel 7:22-24. The right praise of God on the part of His people: 1) Looking to
that which He is to them, as their incomparably gracious God, and exclusively
their own; 2) Looking to that which He as their God has done in them in the
wonders of His redeeming might and love; and3) Looking to that for which He has
made them His people, and prepared them for Himself.
2 Samuel 7:25-29. The right prayer and supplication of living faith: 1) It grounds
itself firmly in the word of God’s promise ( 2 Samuel 7:25); 2) It aims at nothing but
the honor of God’s name ( 2 Samuel 7:26); 3) It springs from a heart which is
moved by God’s promise ( 2 Samuel 7:27); 4) It appeals to God’s faithfulness and
truth; 5) It receives the fulness of God’s promised blessing.
[ 2 Samuel 7:18-29. Henry: David’s Prayer: 1) He speaks very humbly of himself,
and his own merits ( 2 Samuel 7:18). 2) He speaks very highly and honorably of
God’s favors to him ( 2 Samuel 7:18-20). 3) He ascribes all to the free grace of
God ( 2 Samuel 7:21). 4) He adores the greatness and glory of God ( 2 Samuel
7:22). 5) He expresses a great esteem for the Israel of God ( 2 Samuel 7:23-24). 5)
He concludes with humble petitions to God ( 2 Samuel 7:27-29).—Tr.]
[Henry: When God His providence gives us rest, and finds us little to do of worldly
business, we must do so much the more for God and our souls. How different
were the thoughts of David, when he sat in his palace, from Nebuchadnezzar’s,
when he walked in his, Daniel 4:29-30.—Tr.]—J. Lange: It is not enough to have a
good design in a matter, but one must also have a particular assurance as to
whether this or that is according to God’s gracious will.—Schlier: Alas for us, if the
Scriptures were nothing more than human, well-meant thoughts of holy men of
God; who could then rely on them? who could live and die on them? But well for
us that we have a word of God, a word out of God’s own mouth, which God’s
Spirit has given us.
2 Samuel 7:4-5. Wuert. Bible: God is much more desirous of giving to us than of
receiving from us.—S. Schmid: God demands not so much splendid outward
service, but rather an inner and honest service of the heart, Isaiah 4:24.—Schlier:
The true house of God is His people; there would He make His abode in the
hearts of His own. A human heart that opens itself to God is a temple more
pleasing to Him than the stateliest structure of gold and marble, and a church that
really has the Lord dwelling in its midst is in the sight of God more precious than
the noblest showy building which sets all the world a wondering.
2 Samuel 7:8-11. We always indeed imagine that we must first give something to
the Lord, and that if we have not been beforehand with Him, the Lord will not bless
us; and yet what is all that we do, if the Lord has not first taken hold of us?—We
must first experience the Lord’s blessings in ourselves, and then first can we do
any thing for Him in return.
2 Samuel 7:12-16. Starke: Christ’s kingdom is a firmly established kingdom; even
the gates of hell cannot prevail against it ( Matthew 16:18).—Christ is the right
architect of the spiritual house of God; and through Him alone can we become
temples and abodes of the living God ( 1 Corinthians 6:16; 1 Peter 2:5).—Schlier:
The true and living house of God, which He has built, is the church of the Lord
which He has bought with His blood and gathered by His Spirit.
2 Samuel 7:17. S. Schmid: A faithful servant of God speaks according to the
direction of God’s word—takes nothing therefrom, and adds nothing thereto
( Deuteronomy 12:32).
2 Samuel 7:18. Cramer: That is the true complexion of the saints: the more they
are exalted by God and favored with gifts and goods, the more they humble
themselves and count themselves unworthy thereof ( Genesis 18:27; Genesis
32:10; Luke 1:48).
2 Samuel 7:20-21. Osiander: When a devout man’s heart is stirred up by the Holy
Spirit to gratitude towards God, it can often not find words enough to utter its
hearty love, and to exalt God high enough over all ( Luke 1:46 sq.).—Starke: In
praying we must not merely recognize and acknowledge our unworthiness, but
also praise God’s grace and compassion ( Luke 1:48-50).
2 Samuel 7:17-21. Schlier: God’s goodness should awaken us to a recognition of
our sins, it should bring us down on our knees, it should make us little and
worthless. The more God the Lord does us good, so much the more should we
humble ourselves; and the higher He places us, so much the more should we
recognize our unworthiness; and when He lifts us up from the dust to the height
and blesses us with the fullness of His blessing, then first should we become
thoroughly little and worthless in our own eyes.
2 Samuel 7:22. Cramer: God demands of us not only the faith of the heart, but
also the confession of our lips ( Romans 10:10).
2 Samuel 7:23. S. Schmid: Not their own deeds make a people great, but the
works of God which He does among such a people. Blessed is that people whose
God is the Lord; but this blessedness comes from the mere compassion of God.
2 Samuel 7:22-24. Schlier: It is a great gain when, through God’s benefits, we
learn to recognize the benefactor, and let ourselves be drawn by God’s goodness
to the Lord Himself. God’s goodness should make us little and worthless, and bow
us down on our knees, but God’s goodness should also make the Lord in our
estimation ever greater, worthier and nobler.
2 Samuel 7:25-26. Cramer: Although we have God’s fair and rich promises before
us, and have once found grace, yet we should always continue to seek
confirmation and increase thereof ( 1 Kings 8:25-26).
2 Samuel 7:28 sqq. Berl. Bible: The greatest act in praying is the persevering
supplication of faith for the performance of God’s blessed purpose; to hold fast the
everlasting truth made known to us, and as if seeking payment of a debt to remind,
urge, press, knock, beat the door.—Starke: Every blessing in heavenly good
things is derived from the gracious pleasure of God ( Ephesians 1:3).
[ 2 Samuel 7:2. It seems natural and appropriate that our houses of worship
should be not less substantial and elegant than our dwelling-houses.
2 Samuel 7:3. The Lord’s having evidently “been with us” does not prove that He
approves all we have done; still less that He will approve all we feel inclined to
do.—It may be perfectly proper that a thing should be done, and yet not proper
that we should undertake to do it.—Our wisest friends may give us wrong counsel,
in hastily taking for granted that what seems to them good will seem good to the
Lord.—In denying us the gratification of some pious wish, God may design
accomplishing it in a way that He sees to be better; and He may commend and
reward the wish He does not gratify. (“Thou didst well that it was in thine heart,” 1
Kings 8:18)—A sermon on Nathan, 2 Samuel 7:1-17; 2 Samuel 12:1-14.
[ 2 Samuel 7:9. Fame.—“And have made thee a great name,” etc. I. Fame is a gift
of God’s Providence—hence to be enjoyed with humility. II. Fame is one of God’s
noblest gifts—hence may be desired and earnestly sought, if righteously. III.
Fame, like all other gifts, has weighty responsibilities—hence to be used for the
good of men and the glory of God.
2 Samuel 7:14. “I will be his father, and he shall be my son.” This true—1) of
Solomon and other descendants of David who were kings of Judah; 2) of Christ,
“the son of David,” Hebrews 1:5; Hebrews 3) Of every one who is a believer in
Christ, and thus a child of God, 1 John 3:1; 1 John 5:1.—Tr.]
[ 2 Samuel 7:18-21. A model of devout thanksgiving: I. Over what he rejoices1)
Over great blessings received in the past, 2 Samuel 18:2) Over yet greater
blessings promised in the future, 2 Samuel 19:2. In what spirit he regards these
favors1) As utterly undeserved by himself, 2 Samuel 7:18; 2 Samuel 20:2) As the
gift of God’s sovereign grace, 2 Samuel 7:21; Matthew 11:26.
2 Samuel 7:22. The greatness of Israel’s God argued from the wonders of Israel’s
history. Comp. 2 Samuel 7:23-24.—Tr.]
[ 2 Samuel 7:27. Promise and Prayer. 1) The promise does not prevent prayer2)
The promise authorizes prayer that would otherwise be presumptuous3) The
promise gives assurance of success in prayer. Comp. 2 Samuel 7:28-29.—Tr.]
FN#1 - 2 Samuel 7:1. Sept. κατεκληρονόμησε “caused to possess,” reading ‫רֵׁשֶׁ מ‬
for ‫רּוי‬.—Tr.]
FN#2 - 2 Samuel 7:2. Sept. “tent” (‫)רּו יַ מ‬, others δέῤῥεως “curtain of skins.” Vulg.
has the plural here, as in 1 Chronicles 17:1. The difference is not important.—Tr.]
FN#3 - 2 Samuel 7:3. This word (‫)אה‬
‫ ֹו‬is wanting in a few MSS. and in Syr. and Ar.;
it is of the nature of an expletive.—Tr.]
FN#4 - 2 Samuel 7:4. “Nathan the prophet” in Syr, Ar, and in5 MSS, a natural
scriptio plena.—Tr.]
FN#5 - 2 Samuel 7:5. Philippson: wilt thou [wishest thou to] build?; Cahen: is it
thou that wishest? Sept. and Syr.: thou shalt not build. Chald. has: a house for my
presence [Shekinah] to dwell in. We may render either “shall” or “will.”—In the first
clause some MSS. and EDD, and all the ancient VSS. except Chald. omit the
second “to,” probably to ease the construction (as in Eng. A. V.); so also in 2
Samuel 7:8.—Tr.]
FN#6 - 2 Samuel 7:6. Thenius, citing the ancient VSS. (especially Sept, Syr,
Chald.), would read the Perf. ‫ יַ עֶמֹו ֵקכ‬instead of the Inf. ‫ֶׁתקכ‬
ֵ ‫יֶׁ ע‬, and would then
supply ‫ ;רֶׁ ַיא‬but the masoretic pointing is at least as suitable as that of the VSS,
and these last may easily be a free translation of our text.—Tr.]
FN#7 - 2 Samuel 7:6. Lit.: “have been walking,” “have been a perambulator.”—Tr.]
FN#8 - 2 Samuel 7:7. So Sept, Vulg, Chald, Ew, Then, Philippson, Cahen. De
Wette and Erdmann have less well “in the whole time.”—Tr.]
FN#9 - 2 Samuel 7:7. This reading is discussed in the exposition.—Tr.]
FN#10 - 2 Samuel 7:8. In this address to David ( 2 Samuel 7:8-16) the sequence
of verb-form? (in respect to time) presents some difficulty. The passage begins
with a Perf. (past time), which is followed in regular sequence by Waw with Impfs.
till we reach the last verb in 2 Samuel 7:9, where the form changes to Waw with
Perf, followed by similar forms in apparently future sequence up to the Athnach in
2 Samuel 7:11; in the last clause of this verse we find Waw with Perf, where the
time is present. The remaining portion ( 2 Samuel 7:12-16) is clearly future. The
difficulty concerns the rendering of the verbs in 2 Samuel 7:8-11. Here it is to be
observed that the change of form in 2 Samuel 7:9 after the Athnach is somewhat
strange if the past time is to be maintained, and on the other hand, for future time
we should expect the Impf.; it seems better, therefore, to take it as present (as in 2
Samuel 7:11). But in 2 Samuel 7:10-11 a the time is more naturally fixed as future
by the Impfs. that there occur, and the introductory Waw with Perf. (‫ְּי ְּד ֵתכ‬
ֶׁ ‫ )ב‬may be
explained by supposing that the preceding ‫כקכ‬
ֵ ‫“ עֵ ֵי‬I make,” extends into the future,
so that according to the law of sequence it would be followed by Perfs. Thus, then,
we should render in the past from8 b to9 a, make9 b a transitional present, 10,11
a future, and11 b present.—This is nearly the order of the Sept.; it varies only in9
b where the Greek has the Aorist (so Vulg.). Philippson and Bib-Com. render
throughout in the past, except in11 b where the former has, and the latter permits
the present. So Böttcher, Then, Cahen. The rendering here given is nearly that of
Eng. A. V. and Wellhausen.—According to the one view God has given His
people rest, and will now make David a house; according to the other He has cut
off David’s enemies, and will give him rest and make him a house.—The past
form in 2 Samuel 7:1 “had given him rest” is the strongest argument for a past
rendering in 2 Samuel 7:11, and therefore throughout; but this is not conclusive,
since the “rest in the latter case may be completer than in the former.—Tr.]
FN#11 - 2 Samuel 7:9. The adj. is omitted in 1 Chronicles 17:8, and in Sept, which
is better.—Tr.]
FN#12 - 2 Samuel 7:11. The first clause of 2 Samuel 7:11 is now (as the
connection requires) generally taken as the conclusion of 2 Samuel 7:10, with a
full stop after “Israel” (but Philippson connects it with the following: “and since the
time… I have caused thee, etc.”). Instead of ‫ ְּמה בֶׁיֶׁ רֵ כׁש ּוֵקכ‬Ewald (followed by Wellh.)
reads ‫“ מֵ בי׳‬and I will cause them [Israel] to rest,” on the ground that here (from 2
Samuel 7:10) it is Israel that is spoken of. This reading would remove the
above-mentioned objection to the future rendering, but cannot be regarded as
more than a conjecture, since in such a discourse the change of reference (as in
the last clause of 2 Samuel 7:11) would not be strange.—Tr.]
FN#13 - 2 Samuel 7:11. The proper name “Jehovah” is here inserted probably for
FN#14 - 2 Samuel 7:12. There is no connective in the text, but 1 Chronicles 17:11
and Sept, prefix ‫“ בְּיֵ כֵי‬and it shall come to pass.” which, according to Wellh, has
here fallen out by reason of the preceding ‫כׁשבי‬.—Tr.]
FN#15 - 2 Samuel 7:12. The divergences of the text of Chron. from ours are
obvious. The former is briefer and simpler, and confines itself to the expression of
the divine blessing, omitting (as unessential) the minatory clause in 2 Samuel
FN#16 - 2 Samuel 7:15. Instead of the Qal we find Hiph. “I will not remove” in 1
Chronicles 17:13, Sept, Vulg, Syr, At, which form De Rossi thinks is supported by
some MSS, which have 1 sing. Qal Impf. (‫ ;)רםּוא‬it is scarcely possible to decide
between the two readings.—So in the latter clause of this verse Sept. has καθὼς
ἀπέστησα ἀφ’ ῶ̇ν ἀπέστησα ἐκ προσώπου μον as I removed it from those whom I
removed from before me,” and Chron.: “as I took it. from him that was before
thee.” Here from the connection the “thee” of the Heb. seems preferable to the
“me” of Sept.; as between “Samuel” and “Chron.” the general presumption is that
the latter condenses and abbreviates an originally longer text. The “Saul” may be
insertion for clearness of reference, and the difference in the two texts may be
connected with the repetition of the verb ‫כֵקכ‬
ֵ ‫( יֶׁ ֵם‬which in Eng. A. V. is here given
by the two words “took” and “put away”). It is perhaps better to suppose that the
two editors (of “Samuel” and “Chron.”) have wrought the original material each in
his own way.—Tr.]
FN#17 - 2 Samuel 7:16. Some MSS. and Sept. and Syr. read “before me,” which
is preferred by De Rossi.—Tr.]
FN#18 - 2 Samuel 7:18. In Heb.: Adonai Jahveh. Where this combination occurs,
the Masorites call the second name Elohim (instead of the ordinary Adonai); the
Chald. has Jahveh Elohim, Syr. Lord God, Sept. κύριός μου κύρῐος and Vulg.
Dominus Deus, whence Eng. A. V. Lord God.—Tr.]
FN#19 - 2 Samuel 7:19. For discussion of the text of this clause see Exposition
and Notes.—Tr.]
FN#20 - 2 Samuel 7:21. It is to be noted that, whereas Sept. here has “for thy
servant’s sake” (as 1 Chronicles 17:19), it omits this clause in the parallel passage
in Chron.; this may point to a correction of the text by the Greek translators (Wellh.
takes a similar view, holding the Sept. “according to thy heart thou hast done” to
be taken from Chr.). The context seems to favor the reading in Chron.—Tr.]
FN#21 - 2 Samuel 7:22. In some good MSS. and EDD. “in all,” which is preferred
by De Rossi.—Tr.]
FN#22 - 2 Samuel 7:23. The text of this verse can hardly be satisfactorily restored,
even after introducing the changes suggested by the Chronicles-text (as given in
the brackets). There seems to be a mingling of two forms of assertion, in one of
which Israel is compared with a heathen nation and Jehovah with a false god,
while in the other the comparison expresses only what Jehovah had done for
Israel. To the first form, perhaps, belongs the Sept. phrase “what other nation,”
and the Plu. verb “went” in “Samuel,” and to the second belong the phrases “for
you.” “for thy land,” “redeemedst from Egypt.” As regards the testimony of the
ancient versions, the Vulg. renders our Heb. text (as Eng. A. V.), except that it has
at the end “nation” instead of “nations” (because elo-him has the Sing. suffix); the
Chald. gives the Heb. paraphrastically: and who is as thy people, as Israel, a
people one, chosen… whom men sent from Jehovah went to redeem… till they
came to the land of thy presence which thou gavest to them,” etc.; Syr. “on the
earth aforetime” (‫;)ד ְּהרֹוכ ְּמרֶׁ ְּאאַ ה‬
ֵ Sept. has “other nation” (instead of “one nation”),
“as God led them” (ֵ‫ יּו ֵמל‬instead of ‫)יֵ ְּמלּו‬, “to drive out (as in Chron.)… nations and
tents” (‫ רּו יֵ ֵמכמ‬for ‫)רֶ ְּמיכמ‬. Instead of “for you,” Vulg. and Chald. have “for them;” our
text here is defended by Böttcher and Erdmann, but even if such change of
conception is possible for David, it is harsh and is perhaps better omitted in a
translation.—See further in the Exposition.—Tr.]
FN#23 - 2 Samuel 7:28. The fut. rendering is given by Sept, Syr, Vulg, but the
Pres. is better (with then. and Erdmann), because the whole clause is a
declaration of what God is essentially. Philippson has less well: “and thy words
will be (werden, ‘become,’) truth, since thou hast spoken.”—Tr.]
FN#24 - To this Josephus perhaps alludes when he says (Ant. 7, 4, 4) that Moses
predicted the building of the temple.—Tr.]
FN#25 - Bib. Comm.: The cedar of Lebanon is a totally different tree fro n what we
improperly call Virginia cedar (Juniperus Virginiana). It is a close-grained,
light-colored, yellowish wood, with darker knots and veins.—Tr.]
FN#26 - The general sense is not changed by this slight difference of
FN#27 - The sense is the same as in Samuel.—Tr.]
FN#28 - See the thought here well brought out in Keil on “Samuel,” Eng. tr. p 344
FN#29 - The Rel. sentence begun with ‫ רֶׁ ַיא‬is broken off, the Inf. (‫)וי׳‬, as
indication of cause, acting as protasis and the Perf. with Waw cons. as apodosis
in a future sense, giving the result of the sinning. Ges. §126, 6 d, Rem1. then.
strikes out the second ‫( ב‬as a mis-copy of the first), and connects the Rel. with the
suffix in ‫יּו ל ְֶּׁׁש ֵתכב‬.
FN#30 - On David’s posture see notes of Patrick and Gill in loco.—Tr.]
FN#31 - But see 1 Chronicles 29:11; Esther 1:4—Tr.]
FN#32 - Note that the word “heart” in the usage of the O. T. means the whole
inner nature, including intellect, affections and will.—Tr.]
FN#33 - This phrase probably refers to the oral tradition by which Israel’s history
was handed down from father to son.— Tr.]
FN#34 - ‫ ֵדכ‬is not = “where” (De W.), but is to be connected with ‫( רַ ׁשֵ מ םֵכ‬comp.
Judges 21:8; Deuteronomy 3:24). See Ew. § 325a: “what one people, what
people ever [whatever people]…?”—‫ רֶׁ ַיא‬is to be connected with ‫ ֵמ ְּׁשבֵק‬as accus.
of the object. [On the text see “Text. and Grammat.”— Tr.]
FN#35 - The Heb. word elohim is in form plural, but is the usual word for
FN#36 - This is the phrase found in Exodus 19:5 “ye shall be to me a possession
or property” (Eng. A. V. “peculiar treasure”), in Deuteronomy 7:6 “a people of
possession” (Eng. A. V. “Special people”), and in Malachi 3:17 they shall be to me,
in the day that I make, “a possession.” The Hebrew word (‫ )םגמי‬is rendered by the
Sept. περιούσιος and περιποίησις, which have thus passed into the N. T. in this
sense of “property, possession,” as Titus 2:14 “a peculiar people” = “a people that
is God’s property,” and 1 Peter 2:9—Tr.]
FN#37 - ‫ יּור‬here stands for the 2 d person (as the 3 d pers. pron. is often used for
the verb “to be”): “Thou art God,” comp. Psalm 44:5, 4]; Zephaniah 2:12; Ew. §
297 b. [The “that God” of Eng. A. V. is incorrect, and Dr. Erdmann’s rendering is
right; but it is not true that the 3 pers. pron. is ever used for the 2 pers. or for the
substantive verb; the literal translation here is “thou art He (namely) God,” the
copula being omitted as often in Heb.—Tr.]
FN#38 - That Isaiah, the specific reference, the idea being clothed in a
08 Chapter 8
Verses 1-13
III. The splendid development of David’s royal rule without and within
2 Samuel 8-10
1. Without by wars and victories over Israel’s external enemies. 2 Samuel 8:1-14
1And after this it came to pass that David smote the Philistines and subdued
[humbled] them; and David took Metheg-Ammah[FN1] out of the hand of the
2And he smote Moab and measured them with a line, casting them down to
[making them lie down on] the ground; even with two lines measured he [and he
measured two lines] to put to death and with [om. with] one[FN2] full line to keep
alive. And so [om. so] the Moabites became David’s servants and brought
[bringing] gifts.
3David smote also [And David smote] Hadadezer[FN3] the son of Rehob, king of
Zobah, as he went to recover his border at [to make an attack at [FN4]] the river
Euphrates.[FN5] 4And David took from him a thousand chariots[FN6] and seven
hundred horsemen and twenty thousand footmen; and David houghed all the
chariot horses, but reserved of them for an hundred chariots.
5And when the Syrians[FN7] of Damascus came to succour Hadadezer king of
Zobah, 6David slew of the Syrians two and twenty thousand men. Then [And]
David put garrisons in Syria of Damascus, and the Syrians became servants to
David and brought [bringing] gifts. And the Lord [Jehovah] preserved David
whithersoever he went 7 And David took the shields[FN8] of gold that were on the
servants of Hadadezer, and brought them to Jerusalem 8 And from Betah [FN9] and
from Berothai, cities of Hadadezer, king David took exceeding much brass
9When [And] Toi king of Hamath heard that David had smitten all the host of 10
Hadadezer, Then [And] Toi sent Joram[FN10] his son unto king David, to salute him
and to bless [congratulate] him, because he had fought against Hadadezer and
smitten him; for Hadadezer had wars with Toi; and Joram brought with him [and in
his hand were] vessels of silver and vessels of gold and vessels of brass [copper].
11Which [These] also king David did dedicate unto the Lord [Jehovah] with the
silver and gold that he had dedicated of all [ins. the] nations which he subdued,
12Of Syria[FN11] and of Moab and of the children of Ammon and of the Philistines
and of Amalek and of the spoil of Hadadezer son of Rehob, king of Zobah.
13And David gat him a name when he returned from smiting of [om. of] the
Syrians[FN12] in the valley of salt, being [om. being] eighteen thousand men. 14And
he put garrisons in Edom; throughout all Edom put he garrisons, and all they of
[om. they of] Edom became David’s servants. And the Lord [Jehovah] preserved
David whithersoever he went.
A general survey is here given of David’s wars and victories with the aid of the
Lord ( 2 Samuel 8:6; 2 Samuel 8:14), without its being indicated, however (as is
above observed), by the word “after this” that the wars here detailed were
chronologically attached to the events of chap7, or that these wars were
chronologically related to one another as the sequence of mention might seem to
show. The phrase “after this” is the general formula of transition and connection,
which introduces David’s wars grouped according to the factual point of view, and
works them into the broad frame of the theocratic history. See a similar loose, not
strictly chronological connection by this formula in 2 Samuel 10:1; 2 Samuel 13:1.
The parallel section in 1 Chron. is chap18.
2 Samuel 8:1. The subjection of the Philistines. David not only defeated them in a
battle, but also subjected them to his authority. He took out of their hand “the
bridle of the mother”[FN13] (‫ יֵ רֶׁ מֵ י ַד ַקג‬metheg ha ammah). The Chronicler has for
this “Gath and her daughters,” which words are to be accepted in explanation of
our expression instead of giving place to vague conjectures. Ammah (‫רֶׁ מֵ י‬,
feminine formation from ‫“ = )רֹו מ‬mother-city;” so the capital city of a country is often
called in Arabic and Phœnician, comp. Gesen. Thesaurus, p112, and our word
“metropolis;” and the cities dependent on the capital city are called “daughters,”
comp. Joshua 15:45; Joshua 15:47. Among the five chief cities of the Philistines
( 1 Samuel 6:16-17), Gath in Saul’s time already, as seat of a king who appears at
the head of the Philistine princes ( 1 Samuel 27:2; 1 Samuel 29:2 sq.), had
attained the rank of a capital of Philistia, whence the bridle of dominion was
extended over the other cities and the whole people. [These notices do not seem
sufficient in themselves to show a hegemony for Gath.—Tr.] The “bridle of the
mother”—that Isaiah, according to Chron, the power and authority over Philistia
concentrated in the metropolis, Gath, the mother with the “daughters,” or Philistine
cities over which Gath exercised authority—David took possession of, he
subjugated Philistia, and made it tributary, as the nations afterwards mentioned.
The king of Gath mentioned in 1 Kings 2:39 belonged also to the tributary kings,
subject to Song of Solomon, this side of the Euphrates, as far as Gaza ( 1 Kings
5:1; 1 Kings 5:4). So Gesenius, De Wette, Keil. Of other explanations of our
phrase some do not accord with the meaning of the words, e. g., Schultens, Mich,
Ewald render “arm-bridle,” but ammah does not mean “arm,” and Grotius gives
claustra montis Ammœ—“the fortress of Mount Ammah,”—but metheg cannot
mean “fortress.” Some do not agree with the actual condition of things, e. g.,
Bertheau explains, “he wrested from the Philistines the dominion that they had
hitherto exercised over Israel,” but this does not agree with David’s dominion over
Israel; and Böttcher takes ammah—(‫—)רֹו מ‬as meaning one that goes before and
leads, and then in the abstract sense of leading, guidance, “the bridle of
guidance,”—but “this would suit only if the setting aside of a hegemony were here
spoken of” (Then.). Looking at the words of Chron, the Sept. (τὴν ἀφωρισμένην=
“the separated, marked off”) and 1 Samuel 7:13-14, Thenius conjectures that the
text has arisen by error of copyists from an original text, which contained a
description (that cannot now be made out) of the boundary-district, which David
then forever wrested from the Philistines. In the essence of the thing, this
explanation agrees with that above given.
2 Samuel 8:2. The subjugation of the Moabites.—On the former friendly relation
between the king of Moab and David, see 1 Samuel 22:3-4. The cause of Moab’s
enmity against him is unknown. Perhaps meantime another king had come to the
throne than he with whom David sought refuge and with his parents found
hospitality. Probably in this war occurred what is mentioned in 1 Chronicles 11:22
of Benaiah, one of David’s heroes, that he slew two of the king of Moab’s sons.
The severe punishment inflicted on the arms-bearing Moabites (they were
compelled to lie in a row on the ground, two-thirds were measured with a line for
death, and one-third for life) points to some very grave offence on their part. They
thenceforward became David’s servants, that Isaiah, were subject to him and paid
him tribute. [Patrick: Now was fulfilled the prophecy of Balaam, Numbers
[=establish]. Which was the original reading cannot be determined. [The phrase in
Sam. is a common one; that in Chron. (in the Heb.) is difficult and
improbable.—Tr.] Against the rendering of Grot. and Cler.: “as he (David) went to
force back his (Hadadezer’s) power towards the Euphrates” is the prep. “in, at” (‫)ו‬
before “river,” and the change of persons in this subordinate sentence (Thenius).
[Adopting the rendering suggested above, the reference may very well be to
David as the subject: David going to make an attack at the Euphrates, was
naturally opposed by the powerful Hadadezer; otherwise it is difficult to see how
Hadadezer’s attack in this region could have brought him in contact with
David.—Tr.] The Masora adds “Euphrates” after “river” [so Eng. A. V.],—which,
however, is not necessary, since the word “the river” (‫ )יֶׁ לֵיֵ א‬of itself means the
Euphrates.[FN15] How important it must have been for David to rest his power on
this side on the Euphrates is obvious. 2 Samuel 8:4. And David took (prisoners)
from him1700 horsemen and20,000 footmen.—Chron. has7000 horsemen
and1000 chariots. Here, therefore, the word “chariot” has fallen out, and the sign
for seven thousand (‫ )ז‬been changed to that for seven hundred (‫)מ‬. The text of
Chron. is the correct one; “for to20,000 footmen in the plains of Syria7000
horsemen is evidently better proportioned than1700” (Thenius). The1000 chariots
also accords with the connection, “because afterward David is said to have
houghed the chariot-horses” (Cler.). And David lamed all the
riding-animals.—The word (‫)אלַו‬
ַ means riding-animals in general, not merely
chariot-horses (so Isaiah 21:7). These David made useless and harmless by
cutting the sinews of their hind feet (‫ֶׁעעא‬
‫כ ֹו‬.—comp. Judges 11:6; Judges 11:9). It
was a matter of importance to David to render useless not the chariots, but the
horses. [He reserved a hundred horses not for war, but for a triumph or a guard;
whether or not this reservation was illegal and ungodly is not said.—Tr.]
2 Samuel 8:5-8. The conquest of Aram-Damascus (the Syrians of Damascus). 2
Samuel 8:5. Aram-Damascus—that Isaiah, the Aramæans whose capital was
Damascus (Chron. Darmesek, Sam. Dammesek)—east of the Antilibanon range,
on the Chrysorrhoas (Pharpar) river, and on the great caravan-route from Central
Asia to Western Asia. These Syrians of Damascus came as allies to the help of
Hadadezer, attacking David from the north, but suffered a severe defeat, as
appears from the fact that they lost22,000 men. [See Josephus’ reference here to
the account of Nicolaus of Damascus (Ant. 7, 5, 2), who mentions a Syrian king
Hadad beaten at the Euphrates by David (Then.).—Tr.]
2 Samuel 8:6. To hold them in subjection he placed posts, garrisons in their
territory, comp. 1 Samuel 10:5; 1 Samuel 13:3. “He made them subject and
tributary to him.” [Some render “officers” instead of “garrisons,” but hardly so
2 Samuel 8:7. “Shields” (‫)ימַ ק‬,
ַ not “armour,” comp. 2 Kings 11:10, Gesen, Thes.
and Lex. by Dietrich. The golden shields of Hadadezer’s servants (that Isaiah, his
immediate guard) David sent as booty to Jerusalem. The Sept. here has the
additional statement: “And Susakim [Shishak] king of Egypt took them away when
he went up against Jerusalem in the days of Roboam, son of Song of Solomon,”
of which there is no trace in any other version or in Chron, and which there is no
good reason for introducing into our text (against Thenius), since, by comparing 1
Chronicles 18:8 (where the use made of the copper is mentioned), and 1 Kings
14:25-27, it is clear how a translator or copyist from inexact observation of these
passages might have been led to make such an addition to the text as marginal
note or explanation. [Keil also points out that the shields carried off by Shishak
were not these captured by David, but those made by Solomon.—Tr.]
[On copper in Canaan see Deuteronomy 8:9. Some centuries before this copper
was carried in quantities from Syria to Egypt [Bib. Com.).—Tr.]—The loss of the
Syrians in these battles was forty-two thousand men (comp. 2 Samuel 8:4-5). This
number agrees with the statement of the loss in 2 Samuel 10:18 = forty thousand
men. From this alone it is clear that the Aramæan war that is minutely related in 2
Samuel10 is the same as that here spoken of. It is to be further noted that the war
against the Aramæans here related ends with their complete subjection ( 2
Samuel 8:6; 2 Samuel 8:9). Against the view that 2 Samuel10 narrates a second
Aramæan war, wherein the subjugated Aramæans revolt when David becomes
involved in war with the Ammonites, and help them against him, is the fact that in
2 Samuel10 nothing is said of such a revolt, the Syrians appearing as wholly
independent of David and hiring their aid to the Ammonites ( 2 Samuel 10:6).
Before the Aramæans could unite with these latter, Joab defeated them under
Hadadezer; the latter called the Aramæans from beyond the Euphrates to his help
in order to regain his power on the Euphrates, which was lost by that defeat, and
they were now also defeated by David ( 2 Samuel 10:13-18). This explains our 2
Samuel 8:3 : “as he (Hadadezer) went to Revelation -establish his power at the
river Phrath” (Luther). In the general view of David’s wars in 2 Samuel8 this
Aramæan war is briefly related according to its issue under David’s lead. In 2
Samuel10 the Ammonitish war (here merely alluded to, 2 Samuel 8:12) is
minutely related on account of the history of Uriah therewith connected; and as
this war led to that with the Aramæans, the latter also, after the summary
statement of it in 2 Samuel8, is fully narrated in 2 Samuel10 “The war with Ammon,
whose development could not be understood without the Syrian, is more
elaborately narrated (in 2 Samuel10.) for a special reason only, namely, for the
sake of Uriah’s history, and is for this reason no doubt merely mentioned in the
general view of all the great wars ( 2 Samuel 8:12), since otherwise its issue at
least would necessarily have been described as fully as that of the Moabite war”
(Ewald, Gesch. [Hist. of Israel] III:205). Comp. Keil’s Comm.,[Eng. Tr, p358
sq.]—According to 1 Chronicles 18:3 David’s decisive victory over the Aramæans
was gained at Hamath, that Isaiah, Epiphania on the Orontes, a colony of the
Canaanites ( Genesis 10:18), at the foot of Hermon, therefore on the western
boundary of the district of Zobah, and on the northernmost border of Palestine,
still one of the greatest cities of Turkish Asia, retaining its old name; according to 2
Samuel 10:17 the victory was gained at Helam, an unknown place; but this
difference is insignificant, and may be removed by supposing either that Helam
was near Hamath (Keil), or that the decisive combats occurred at both places at
the same time.[FN16]
2 Samuel 8:9-10. King Toi of Hamath seeks a friendly alliance with David in
consequence of the latter’s victory over the king of Zobah and his allies.—For Toi
Chron. has Toü. When Toi heard that David had smitten all the host of
Hadadezer (David’s victory was therefore a decisive one), he sent his son
Joram (better Hadoram) to David. Chron, instead of Joram, has Hadoram,
Joseph. Adoram, and Sept. Jeddouram; Hadoram (according to Mich, from Hador,
the name of a Syrian deity, but see also Genesis 10:27; 1 Chronicles 1:21, where
it is the name of an Arabian tribe) is to be regarded as the original reading, instead
of the Heb. name Joram, which doubtless got into the text from similarity of sound
by error of copying or of hearing [or, it is a Hebraization of a foreign name, as
often happens.—Tr.]. The embassy was1) to greet David in Toi’s name, properly,
to ask after his welfare, comp. Genesis 43:27; Genesis 43:2) to bless him, that
Isaiah, to congratulate him on his victory over Hadadezer. The reason for this
congratulation is given in the words: “for a man of wars of Toi was Hadadezer,”
that Isaiah, Hadadezer carried on constant wars with Toi; Aq. and Sym. have
“waging war” (πολεμῶν). On the phrase: “man of wars” = one whose call and
business is warring, comp. 1 Chronicles 28:3; Isaiah 42:13. Since Hamath and
Zobah bordered on one another, Toi was in constant danger of being entirely
despoiled of his authority by Hadadezer, on whom he was perhaps in some
degree dependent. Hence his congratulation of David as the expression of joy
over the victory that freed him from a dangerous enemy, and of the wish to enter
into a relation of friendship and alliance with the powerful victor, to which end he
sent rich presents consisting of vessels of silver, of gold, and of copper. [For the
forms of ancient Chaldean and Assyrian vessels see Rawlinson, Ancient
Monarchies I:91, 386.—Tr.]
2 Samuel 8:11-12. David consecrates to the Lord all the booty of gold and silver
taken from the conquered nations. David’s wars were wars of the Lord, in whose
name he fought against the enemies of the chosen people, and led the people to
victory. Therefore the booty belonged actually to the Lord. David affirmed this by
separating it from profane use (this is the primary meaning of “dedicated,” ‫)י ְּק ֵבכי‬,
and setting it apart for the Lord, that Isaiah, either in general he put it into the
treasury of the sanctuary, or he determined that it should be used in making
sacred vessels for the temple that was to be built. Instead of the second
“dedicated” (‫)י ְּק ֵבכי‬
ֵ Chron. has “took” (‫)ר ֵֵיר‬, which gives the same sense.
2 Samuel 8:12. From Aram [-Syria] and from Moab and from the children of
Ammon and from the Philistines and from Amalek and from the spoil of
Hadadezer. Instead of Aram Chron. has Edom, and omits the words referring to
Hadadezer, that Isaiah, makes no mention at all of the wars against Aram. But as
in this enumeration of all David’s wars (as it obviously is) Aram could not, as it
seems, be properly omitted, it might appear probable that we should read Aram in
Chron. instead of Edom especially as the victory over Edom is not mentioned till
afterwards. It might, however, be also supposed that “Aram” was omitted [in
Chron.] because the booty taken from the Aramæans has just been spoken of,
and the further mention of booty from other nations was attached immediately to
that statement. On the other hand it is not necessary (with Keil) to suppose a gap
in our text after “Aram,” that is to be filled with “from Edom.” It may be supposed
that, as the Chronicler did not mention Aram because he had spoken of it just
before, so our narrator did not include Edom because he intended to speak of the
victory over the Edomites immediately afterwards. [On this reading see “Text. and
Gram.” As Edom is geographically connected with Moab and Ammon, and as the
spoil of the Syrian Hadadezer is mentioned at the end of the verse, it seems better
(with Bib. Com.) to read Edom for Aram; though the Aram of our text might refer to
the Syrians of Damascus (so Gill).—Tr.]
2 Samuel 8:13-14. Conquest of Edom. Comp. 1 Chronicles 18:12-13, where it is
said that Abishai, the son of Zeruiah, smote the Edomites in the valley of salt,
eighteen thousand men, and the statements in Psalm 60:2 [superscription] and 1
Kings 11:15, which vary from this in minor points.
2 Samuel 8:13. And David made himself a name. Against the rendering “he set
up a monument” is the fact that such a statement could not have been made here
without reference to the Lord and indication of the place, and that it is wholly
irreconcilable with David’s disposition that he should here set up a monument to
himself. The proper translation is: “made himself a name” (comp. Genesis 11:4;
Genesis 21:1) gained renown (so the Vulg.), 2 Samuel 7:9, “I have made thee a
great name,” etc., is not in contradiction with this, for it points out the divine
causality in David’s glorious military career as contrasted with its human
side.—The glory of his name was exalted still more by another splendid
achievement. As he returned from the battle against Aram, literally, from
smiting Aram. The connection alone naturally suggests that the Aramæan wars
related above are here meant. But our text affirms David made himself a name by
a new victory over Aram in the valley of salt. The text is here obviously incomplete.
The words “in the valley of salt” cannot be connected with what here precedes,
since a battle with the Aramæans in this valley, which lay on the ancient border of
Judah and Edom in the Edomite territory south of the Dead Sea, is out of the
question. Before these words we must insert “and he smote Edom,” which may
easily have fallen out in copying through the similarity of Edom and Aram (‫רממ‬
and ‫)ראמ‬. Sept: “he smote Idumea.” [Or, we may read Edom instead of Aram
(Syria), comp. 1 Chronicles 18:12, and see “Text. and Gram.”—Tr.] David’s wars
in the north against the Aramæans and Ammonites had led the Edomites to fancy
that they might easily get possession of the southern part of the Israelitish territory.
When David had ended those wars, he returned (the word “returned” does not
refer to Joab (Ew.)—see below). Whether he returned on the east or west of the
Jordan and the Dead Sea is uncertain. The battle with the Edomites was then
fought in the salt valley, the same place where Amaziah afterwards conquered the
Edomites ( 2 Kings 14:7). The Edomites lost eighteen thousand men; so also
Chron. But in Chron. the battle is fought not by David himself, but by Abishai, the
son of Zeruiah, and in 1 Kings 11:15 and in Psalm 60:2 [superscription] by Joab.
There are here no real contradictions, since in different reports (for Exodus, in the
last German-French war) the same battles are referred to different leaders, in one
to the Fieldmarshal, in another to his subordinate Generals, in still another to the
Generalissimo himself. Abishai, who in the Syrian-Ammonitish war commanded a
division of David’s army under Joab, was the conqueror of the Edomites, while
Joab was General-in-chief, and David had control of the whole military operation.
Michaelis: “David as king, Joab as chief commander, and Abishai, who was sent
forward by his brother, and overthrew the enemy.” Only incapacity to conceive
such affairs in their reality and manifoldness can find a discrepancy here. For the
rest it is to be noted that the Chronicler, though he names Abishai as leader in this
victory, was at the same time thinking of David as the conqueror (in accord with
our passage), since he adds: “And the Lord helped David in all his undertakings.”
The difference in numbers also (here and in Chron. eighteen thousand, in Psalm
60. twelve thousand) is unimportant; there is no need to suppose an error of
copyist in the last passage (Ew.) to explain it. It receives a simple explanation
from the various statements about the battle in different authorities. In the last
German-French war the reports of the numbers of killed or prisoners often differed
by thousands. How much more might such differences arise at a time when so
exact countings were not provided for. [Bp. Patrick suggests that Abishai began
the fight and slew six thousand, and then Joab, advancing with his reserve, slew
twelve thousand more (so Psalm 60). It is impossible to give a certain explanation
of the difference.—Tr.] David put garrisons in all Edom (not in Chron). Thenius
supposes the reason of the special emphatic statement here (comp. 2 Samuel
8:6), that no part of Edom was left without a garrison, to be that this was not the
case in former campaigns against Edom (see for ex. 1 Samuel 14:47). But the
explanation lies rather in the numerous mountains, caves and gorges of the
country, which made a complete garrisoning necessary.—Thus had David
overthrown the huge column of nations that were dangerous to Israel from north
to south, and on its ruins founded his dominion.
1. In all his wars and victories over Israel’s enemies David, as theocratic king, was
only the instrument of the Lord, who Himself waged these wars for His people.
Therefore in his royal military calling David knows himself also only as servant of
the Lord, to whom, as the true Commander, he consecrates and dedicates the
booty gained. And the prophetical narrative can say nothing higher of David than
that he performed these splendid deeds of arms through the help of the Lord ( 2
Samuel 8:6; 2 Samuel 8:14). But in these victories over the enemies of God’s
people was fulfilled the Lord’s promise ( 2 Samuel 7:10-11), trusting in which
David could advance to battle prepared for war and certain of victory.
2. David’s royal calling was to be fulfilled chiefly in wars and victories over Israel’s
enemies, in order that the kingdom of God in Israel might attain its unhindered,
theocratic-national full development of form. But from this historical basis is
subsequently developed the idea of the theocratic kingdom as a mighty and
powerful one that victoriously combats the enemies of the theocracy, and makes
them subservient to the divine might and power. On this is then built up the
Messianic prophecy of the future king, who in divine might and glory will complete
the kingdom of God by the thorough conquest of all its enemies, establish God’s
universal dominion in the people of God redeemed from the world-powers, and
dispense God’s blessing under His protection and pastoral fidelity. Compare
especially Psalm 2, 72, 110, which in their historical foundation and fundamental
ideas are unintelligible without the history of David’s wars and victories (ch8.) that
lays the foundation both for the Messianic prophecy and for the promise in ch7.
3. Under the guidance of Psalm 60—which refers to the impending new war with
the Edomite (after the glorious conclusion of the Syrian-Ammonite war) and to
Israel’s new danger from their inroad (Delitzsch, Moll), not to the situation after the
victory over Edom in the Salt-valley (Hengst.)—it is possible to follow the ups and
downs of David’s thoughts under the experiences of this time and afterwards in
his recollection of its trials and God’s gracious manifestations, and to exhibit the
truths therein contained that hold good for God’s kingdom in all times. After the
days of mighty manifestations of divine help there have come for God’s people
times of great distress within and without, not, however, by chance, by a
necessary natural process or by unavertable fate, but immediately from the Lord.
The deep powerful feeling of the absolute dependence of all human life on the
Lord permits no lament over calamity, without accompanying declaration that the
Lord has sent it according to His unsearchable counsel, and without giving Him
the glory by the confession: “This hath the Lord done!” So David’s lament in
Psalm 60:3-5, 1–3] is such a declaration and confession of the Lord’s omnipotent
power in the infliction of severe sufferings and great dangers on His people. “O
God, thou hast cast us off, thou hast scattered us, made the land tremble and
broken it, hast made thy people see hard things, etc.”—But with such lament and
confession is connected in the pious heart the living remembrance of God’s
former manifestations of favor in His promises, as the banner that is raised by the
Lord for them that fear Him. Thereby has the Lord Himself given His assailed
ones the right to remind Him of His promises, and so the lament changes into the
prayer: Help, answer us! ( Psalm 60:6-7, 4, 5]). Praying faith hears the divine
answer in the might-displaying word of the living God (“God hath spoken in His
holiness”) wherein He announces Himself as the unlimited Owner and Lord of His
land and people, and as the victorious opponent and sovereign of their enemies.
These are the two fundamental truths that the history of God’s kingdom
everywhere affirms and confirms: the Lord acknowledges His people (as His
possession) with His promises and their fulfilment; and the enemies of God’s
kingdom and people will not be able to elude His power, but must submit to it
( Psalm 60:8-10, 6–8]). But in how sharp contradiction of such divine promises is
the actual condition of God’s people in the world? “Hast thou not cast us off?”
Dost thou not go forth with our hosts? ( Psalm 60:11-12, 9, 10]). [The translation
of the Eng. A. V. is also possible, and gives the same general sense.—Tr.]. The
above lament is repeated in such a question, which arises from the involuntary
comparison of the present straitened condition of God’s kingdom and people with
the majestic declaration of God that promises victory and dominion over all
enemies. This sharp dissonance must penetrate deep into the heart of God’s
servant when he sees with equal vividness and clearness both the rich promises
of God and the needs and straits of God’s kingdom. But it is resolved into all the
more pressing entreaty and prayer for the divine help and into the twofold
confident avowal and confession: 1) In God we shall show our power, that Isaiah,
carry off the victory, and2) God the Lord, who is in His people, will through them
destroy the power of the enemy ( Psalm 60:13, 14 [ Psalm 60:11-12]). The Psalm
ceases with the same twofold ground-tone that sounds through 2 Samuel8. David
made himself a name by his victories over his enemies, and the Lord helped him
whithersoever he went.
Nearly related to Psalm 60. is Psalm 44,[FN17] which similarly presupposes the
affliction of God’s people and the danger of their conquest and dispersion by the
hostile neighboring nations. Through the Lord’s help to the fathers when the land
was taken possession of ( Psalm 44:2-4, 1–3]) is awakened and sustained faith
that the same God, as king of His people, will now also grant His people victory
over their enemies ( Psalm 44:5-8, 4–7]), so that they shall forever thank Him as
they have hitherto boasted of Him ( Psalm 44:9, 8]). But in contradiction of this
tradition of divine help in the olden time and of this confidence is the present
overthrow and distress of the people ( Psalm 44:10-17, 9–16]) which is felt all the
more deeply in view of the people’s faithfulness to the covenant, as the
omniscient God knows ( Psalm 44:18-22, 17–21]). But the consciousness of
undeserved sufferings and afflictions leads to the profounder conviction that such
sufferings, inflicted by the Lord, must be endured for the Lord’s sake, since the
enmity towards the Lord’s people is directed against the Lord Himself ( Psalm
44:23, 22]). Therewith, however, is connected also the hope of God’s people, as
expressed in their prayer that the Lord would arise from His inactivity and espouse
His people’s cause. The ground of this hope and prayer lies in their need of help
and in the free grace of God. Psalm 44, being thus similar to Psalm 60. in its
course of thought and its historical presuppositions, most probably belongs to the
time of affliction expressly designated in Psalm 60, when the Edomites sorely
pressed Israel; comp. Amos 1:6. The frightful castigation that Joab inflicted on
them ( 1 Kings 11:15) intimates the greatness of the suffering that they had
prepared for Israel, and thus serves indirectly to confirm the historical
circumstances presupposed in these two Psalm.—In Psalm 108. we find a
repetition of Psalm 60:7-12, 5–12]) loosely combined with another Psalm
-fragment Psalm 57:8-11, 7–11]).
War is right and a duty before God, when the object Isaiah 1) To guard God’s law
and order against hostile power; 2) To preserve gifts and goods granted by God; 3)
To fulfil tasks assigned by God; 4) To carry out the clearly recognized plans of
God’s wisdom.
2 Samuel 8:1. Schlier: We see here … how it still is at the present day with wars in
the world, what righteous and unrighteous wars properly are, but also what wars
always ought to be.
2 Samuel 8:2. Tueb. Bible: To pious kings God gives victory and glory. Proverbs
20:28.—Osiander: That is the most glorious victory and the most fortunate
government, when the conquered enemies do not hate the conqueror, but hold
him in honor and render him willing obedience.
2 Samuel 8:3-4. Osiander: If the mightiest foes could not subdue David, so too no
human power will extirpate the kingdom of Christ.—S. Schmid: Against God and
those who trust in God no human might avails ( Proverbs 29:25). When the
kingdom of God is the object of attack, the ungodly are somewhat united and help
each other, while at other times they are against each other ( Luke 23:12; Acts
2 Samuel 8:6. Cramer: The heathen also must bring gold and gifts ( Isaiah 60:6),
and willingly offer to him in holy attire.
2 Samuel 8:9-13. A beautiful emblem of the fact that many among the heathen
also shall willingly turn to Christ.—Starke: God’s promises, though it be late, are
yet truly and surely fulfilled ( Genesis 25:23).[FN18] If God gives to us, we should
also give to Him again. But we give to Him again when we do good to His children
and servants.—Schlier: How well it would be if all rulers and warlike heroes never
had their eye on themselves, but always and only on the honor of the Lord, if all
happened to the Lord’s honor alone, if all honor were given only to the Lord, if all
booty were spent only for the service of the Lord and never for display and pride.
[ 2 Samuel 8:2. David is at the present day often charged with great cruelty for
slaying so many of the Moabites; but to most of his contemporaries, friend and foe,
it probably seemed a hazardous leniency to spare a full third. The Asiatic rulers
have always inclined to what we should regard as extreme severity in punishment;
but no man has ever been able to rule long in Asia without such punishments, at
least to the extent of making examples, as David did here and in 2 Samuel 12:31.
Is there not danger in the Christendom of to-day that we shall go to the opposite
extreme, that mercy to criminals will be carried so far as to become cruelty to
2 Samuel 8:3. Only once, and for a brief season, did the children of Abraham
possess the whole region promised to him, Genesis 15:18. During all the
centuries it was theirs by right through God’s gift; but it was not theirs by
possession through their own fault. In like manner, how seldom does national or
individual life and character reach up to the height of its heaven-permitted
[ 2 Samuel 8:6; 2 Samuel 8:14. I. How trying a life David was leading, in its
exertions, hardships, perils. II. How blessed a life amid it all, since the Lord
preserved him whithersoever he went!
2 Samuel 8:10-11. It is the lot of many who wish to be greatly useful that they can
but gather materials and devise plans, leaving it for others to build and rejoice.
Men forget the former class, but God does not. We speak only of Solomon’s
Temple; but in the eye of God it was David’s Temple too. Does one long for a
different task, and feel tempted to repine? That which God assigns will be best for
us, if we waste not life in dreaming of some other lot, but faithfully stand where He
puts us.—Tr.]
[ 2 Samuel 8:1-13. Lessons from David’s years of warfare. 1) A pious man may
have many enemies2) A pious man may be required to spend much of his life in
war3) A pious man may be compelled to inflict severe punishments ( 2 Samuel
9:2). 4) A pious Prayer of Manasseh, even though not always prospered or
preserved ( 2 Samuel 8:6; 2 Samuel 8:14) is always guided and blessed5) A pious
man will rejoice to consecrate the richest results of his struggles and toils unto
God ( 2 Samuel 8:10-11).—Tr.]
2. David’s Internal Government: Organization of the Administration of the
Kingdom ( 2 Samuel 8:15-18) and Magnanimous Exhibition of Royal Favor to the
Sunken House of Saul.—Mephibosheth. Chapter 2 Samuel 8:1-13.
a. The Administration of the Kingdom and David’s Officers 2 Samuel 8:15-18
15And David reigned over all Israel, and David executed judgment and justice
unto all his people 16 And Joab the son of Zeruiah was over the host; and
Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was recorder; 17And Zadok the son of Ahitub and
Ahimelech the son of Abiathar [Abiathar the son of Ahimelech][FN19] were the
priests; and Seraiah[FN20] was the [om. the] scribe; 18And Benaiah the son of
Jehoiada was over[FN21] both [om. both] the Cherethites and the Pelethites; and
David’s sons were chief rulers.[FN22]
b. David’s Magnanimity toward Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s Son. 2 Samuel 9:1-13.
1And David said, Is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may show
him kindness for Jonathan’s sake? 2And there was of the house of Saul a servant
whose name was Ziba. And when they had called [And they called] him unto
David [ins. and] the king said unto him, Art thou Ziba? And he said, Thy servant is
Hebrews 3 And the king said, Is there not yet any of the house of Saul that I may
show the kindness of God unto him? And Ziba said unto the king, Jonathan hath
yet a son [There is yet a son of Jonathan] which is [om. which is] lame on4[in] his
feet. And the king said unto him, Where is he? And Ziba said unto the king,
Behold he is in the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel in Lodebar.
5Then [And] king David sent and fetched him out of the house of Machir, the 6
son of Ammiel, from Lodebar. Now when [And] Mephibosheth [FN23] the son of
Jonathan the son of Saul was come [came] unto David he fell [and fell] on his face
and did reverence. And David said, Mephibosheth. And he answered [said],
Behold thy servant! 7And David said unto him, Fear not, for I will surely shew
[show] thee kindness for Jonathan thy father’s sake, and will restore thee all the
land of Saul thy father, and thou shaft eat bread at my table continually 8 And he
bowed himself and said, What is thy servant, that thou shouldest look upon such a
dead dog as I am?
9Then [And] the king called to Ziba Saul’s servant and said unto him, I have 10
given unto thy master’s son all that pertained to Saul and to all his house. Thou
therefore [And thou] and thy sons and thy servants shall till the land for him, and
thou shalt bring in the fruits that thy master’s son may have food [bring thy
master’s son food][FN24] to eat; but [and] Mephibosheth thy master’s son shall eat
bread alway at my table. Now [And] Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants 11
Then said Ziba [And Ziba said] unto the king, According to all that my lord the king
hath commanded his servant so shall thy servant do. As for Mephibosheth, said
the king,[FN25] he shall eat at my table as one of the king’s sons 12 And
Mephibosheth had a young son whose name was Micha. And all that dwelt in the
house 13 of Ziba were servants unto Mephibosheth. So [And] Mephibosheth dwelt
in Jerusalem; for he did eat continually at the king’s table; and [ins. he] was lame
on [in] both his feet.
a. 2 Samuel 8:15-18. The internal administration of the kingdom. Alongside of
David’s military activity without is here placed the new summary view of the
offices and their incumbents, whereby a unitary administration, embracing all the
internal affairs of the kingdom was carried on.
2 Samuel 8:15. To David’s wars, which gained him safety from enemies and
dominion over Israel is here attached a general characterization of his
government in its inward nature. He was executing, that Isaiah, striving in all
things thoroughly to establish judgment and justice in the whole
nation.—According to this point of view he ordered and administered the affairs
of the kingdom through the following offices, the names of the incumbents of
which are given.
2 Samuel 8:16. 1) Joab was over the host, had the supreme command of the
army, was Minister of war and Chief Marshal in one. See 2 Samuel 2:18. 2)
Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud (Ahilud was a well-known man) was Mazkir (‫)דֶׁ זְּ יֵ כא‬,
that Isaiah, not the recorder and preserver of the most important events of the
kingdom, as Vulg. (a commentariis) and Sept. (ἐπὶ τῶν ὑπομνημάτων [keeper of
the records]) understand it, but the referee in all internal affairs and highest
representative counsellor, the Chancellor, who at the same time suggested and
drew up the royal decrees and saw to their proper publication and registration in
the State-archives. Comp. Œhler in Herzog. VIII:15. [For further mention of this
office see 1 Kings 4:3; 2 Kings 18:18; 2 Kings 18:37; 2 Chronicles 34:8. It is
evident that the office was a very important one; and from the etymology (the
word = one who calls to remembrance) it seems not unlikely that it included the
recording of important events. It would thus sufficiently differ from that of Sopher
(Scribe or Secretary), which would be more personal and political. Gesenius and
others refer to the Roman Magister memoriœ and the Persian Waka Nuwis
(imperial historiographer). In the absence of any English term exactly
representing the Hebrew, the “recorder” of Eng. A. V. may be retained.—Tr.].
2 Samuel 8:17. Zadok the son of Ahitub and Ahimelech the son of Abiathar
were priests (= high-priests). Zadok here appears for the first time; he therefore
did not become high-priest till after David’s accession to the throne. Through his
father, Ahitub, he was a descendant of Aaron’s son Eleazar ( 1 Chronicles 5:29
compared with 1 Chr5:34 and 1 Chronicles 6:35-37); Ahimelech on the contrary
descended through Abiathar from Ithamar, Aaron’s younger Song of Solomon, 1
Chronicles 24:3; 1 Chronicles 24:6. The “Abimelech” in 1 Chronicles 18:16 is an
error of copyist, since we have “Ahimelech” also in 1 Chronicles 24:3; 1
Chronicles 24:6. Elsewhere, however, the two high-priests in David’s time are
given as Zadok and Abiathar ( 2 Samuel 15:24; 2 Samuel 15:35; 2 Samuel 17:15;
2 Samuel 19:12; 2 Samuel 20:25), and according to 1 Samuel 22:20, Abiathar
was a son of Ahimelech. Movers, Thenius, Ewald, hence suppose an inversion of
names here, so that we should read: Abiathar, son of Ahimelech. But in that case
we should have to suppose a similar inversion, so far as regards the change of
Ahimelech to Abiathar in 1 Chronicles 24:3; 1 Chronicles 24:6; 1 Chronicles 24:31,
passages quite independent of ours, where Ahimelech, as son of Abiathar
appears as high-priest of Ithamar’s line alongside of Zadok, who is of Eleazar’s
line. Instead of this violent procedure Bertheau (on 1 Chronicles 18:16), Œhler,
Keil, and others, suggest that Abiathar, son of Ahimelech, had a son of the same
name as his grandfather, and that Hebrews, for some reason unknown to us,
acted as high-priest along with his father who was still living at the beginning of
Solomon’s reign ( 1 Kings 2:27). That he might have had such a son of proper age
is to be presumed from 1 Samuel 14:3. According to 2 Samuel 15:27; 2 Samuel
17:17; 2 Samuel 17:20, Abiathar had a younger son Jonathan, who afterwards
joined Adonijah against Solomon [ 1 Kings 1:42], while Ahimelech is mentioned
neither there nor here, perhaps because he was no longer alive. But this
suggestion is open to grave doubts, not merely because an Ahimelech son of
Abiathar appears nowhere but here and in the passages cited from Chron, but
especially because elsewhere Zadok and Abiathar appear as the acting priests
[=high-priests] under David. There remains the supposition of a historical error
(instead of an error of copyist) in the authority used here and in 1 Chronicles 24:3;
1 Chronicles 24:6; 1 Chronicles 24:31, the author of the original account having
reversed the order of the names. [This supposition of Erdmann’s seems the most
improbable of all here cited; error in such a point can hardly be supposed in the
author of “Samuel,” with 1 Samuel22. and the rest of the history before him. An
error in copying easily perpetuates itself, though we cannot always explain how it
arose, and how it comes to reappear in certain places and not in others.—Still
less probable is the opinion of Geiger (Urschrift, p21) and Well-hausen that there
are here traces of a systematic attempt to exalt the line of Eleazar (Zadokites) at
the expense of the house of Ithamar; that an “Ahitub” should occur several times
is not strange or suspicious, and the whole tone of the history is quiet and natural,
showing no signs of distortion and tendentious manipulation. There seems to be
no sound objection to supposing an inversion of these names here by a scribe’s
error. See “Text, and Gram.”—Tr.].—Zadok acted as high-priest in Gibeon ( 1
Chronicles 16:39; comp. 1 Kings 3:4) at the Sanctuary, the other in Jerusalem.—4)
Seraiah was scribe (Sopher), State Secretary, not a military muster-officer, for
this is designated by another word (‫)הֵ ֶׁקמ‬, see 2 Samuel 24:2; 2 Samuel 24:4; 2
Samuel 24:9. Comp. Œhler (Herz. VIII:15) and Keil. [So in 2 Kings 25:19 a certain
military officer is termed “the scribe (sopher), the captain of the army, who levied
the people,” or, perhaps (as in margin of Eng. A. V.) “the scribe of the captain of
the army. It is possible that the Sopher combined civil and military duties; it has
also been supposed (though there is no proof of it) that there were two officers
ecclesiastical.—Tr.].—The name of this man in 1 Chronicles 18:16 is Sharsha, in
2 Samuel 20:25 Sheya [Eng. A. V. has the marginal (Qeri) Sheva] and in 1 Kings
4:3 (where the same person is meant) Shisha. According to this, Sheya[FN26]
seems to be a shortened form of Shisha = Shavsha, and the latter, along with
Seraiah, a second name of the same person. Possibly, however, the difference
came from scribal error or indistinctness of letters, whichever was the original
2 Samuel 8:18. 5) Benaiah the son of Jehoiada (a mighty warrior of Kabzeel, 2
Samuel 23:20-23) was over the Cherethites and the Pelethites (we are to read
“over” instead of the unintelligible masoretic “and,” as in the parallel passage in
Chron.). These two names designate the royal body-guard attached to the king’s
court and person (Jos. Ant7, 5, 4 σωματοφύλακες). The name Cherethite is to be
derived from a verb (‫ )י ֵֶׁאק‬meaning “to cut down, destroy,” it having been the duty
of royal guards in the East to execute the death-sentence; so did Benaiah in 1
Kings 2:25. Pelethites, from a verb (‫)ׁשֵ מֶׁ ק‬, “to hasten, flee,” means “runners,” the
men of the bodyguard having had to carry the royal orders swiftly to distant places.
Comp. 2 Chronicles 30:6. In the parallel passage 2 Samuel 20:23 instead of
Kerethi [Cherethi] stands Kari (from ‫לּוא‬, “to dig”), and in 2 Kings 11:4; 2 Kings
11:19, for the whole phrase stands: “the Kari and the runners;” that Isaiah,
Pelethites = runners. So Gesen. (Thes. s. v.), Then. (here and on 1 Kings 1:38; 2
Kings 11:12) and Keil (here and on Chron.). The words are adjectives (formed by ‫)כ‬
with substantival meaning, designating offices, properly “executioners and
runners” (as the ‫כיש‬
ֵ ‫ ֵש ֵמ‬in 2 Samuel 23:8 [Eng. A. V. “captains”]). Comp. Ew, § 177,
164.—Opposed to this explanation is another, first advanced by Lakenmacher
(observ. philolog. II:11 seq.), and then defended by Ew, Berth, Mov, Hitzig, Starke,
Rütschi and others, namely, that the Kerethi = Cretes or Carians (‫)לאכ‬, and the
Pelethi = Philistines, since the latter are called Kerethi in 1 Samuel 30:14;
Zephaniah 2:5; Ezekiel 25:16. But in the first passage the name designates not
the Philistines in general, but a branch of the Philistine people settled in the
southwest of Philistia, and in the two prophetic passages the name “Philistines”
stands along with this name (Kerethi), which characterizes them as murderers,
exterminators. Further, the view that Pelethi is corrupted from Philistines (‫ְּהמֹו ֵקכ‬
from ‫)ה ֵמ ְּי ֵתכמ‬
ְּ is to be rejected as “wholly without foundation” (so Keil after Gesen.:
“who can endure such a contraction in a Shemitic language?”). If Kerethi and
Pelethi both mean Philistines, the application of two synonymous words to the
royal body-guard is as strange as if one should combine “Englishmen and Britons,
Italians and Welshmen”[FN27] (Gesen.). Against this view, moreover, is the later
designation “Kari and runners,” whence Pelethi = runners. Besides, the conjecture
that the Philistines immigrated from Crete rests on the indefinite statements of
Tacitus (Hist. 5, 1, 2): “they say that the Jews fled from the island of Crete, and
settled in the extreme parts of Libya,” and of Stephanus of Byzantium (s. v. Γαζά)
that this city [Gaza] was once called Minoa after Minos king of Crete, to which are
opposed Deuteronomy 2:23; Amos 9:7, which state that the Philistines came from
Caphtor. See Keil, Comm. 266 A1 [Eng. transl, p368 Note]. Further, as Thenius
remarks, “it is altogther improbable that the patriotic David, so faithful to the
service of the one true God, should have surrounded himself with a foreign and
heathen body guard,” to which Keil (ubi supra) admirably adds against Hitzig:
“Least of all would David have chosen his bodyguard out of the Philistines, the
hereditary enemies of Israel.”—[The ancient versions throw little light on these
words. Sept. and Vulg. transfer them; Syriac has “nobles and rustics (Lond. Polyg.
soldiers),” Chald. “archers and slingers.”—There are strong reasons for holding
them to be not appellatives (as Ges. and Erdm.) but gentile nouns: 1) the
grammatical form of the words (Krethi, Plethi) points to this; the termination i is
used in Heb. to form patronymics and gentilics, and besides to form nouns only
from other nouns (sub. or adj.) or adverbs, that Isaiah, in general it forms
denominative nouns; it cannot, then, be here well referred to verbal roots, as
Gesenius and others wish, but must form a denominative, which here cannot well
be anything but a gentilic noun; the shalishi of 2 Samuel 23:8, cited by Erdmann,
being a denominative, does not favor his view; 2) in 1 Samuel 30:14 one of these
words, Krethi, actually denotes a Philistine tribe, or a tribe dwelling near Philistia;
this establishes the fact that it was the name of a tribe, while of any other use
there is no established trace in the Bible; for so also it is used in Ezekiel 25:16 and
Zephaniah 2:5, where there is no reason to hold that anything else than the
gentilic sense is meant, Ezekiel simply making a play on the name, as is very
common in the prophetic writings; 3) add to this that if these words were
appellatives signifying “executioners and runners,” it is not easy to see why the
common Heb. words for these offices were not employed, and why our words
appear only in David’s time (Rüetschi).—These reasons seem almost decisive for
regarding these as proper names (without saying anything of their origin and
signification).—The objections urged against this view by Keil and Erdmann seem
insufficient to set it aside: a) the objection from synonymous names rests on the
assumption that both words must be taken as = Philistines; but, as Erdmann
himself remarks, the Krethi are only a tribe living in or near the Philistine territory,
and the Plethi may be another different tribe or family possibly not Philistines at all;
b) it is thought that the later phrase “the kari and the runners” ( 2 Kings 11:4; 2
Kings 11:19) establishes the fact that plethi = “runners,” and that one of our words
being an appellative, the other also must be appellative; but that the common Heb.
word for “runners or footmen” should be used in Athaliah’s time (as in Saul’s, 1
Samuel 22:17, and of Absalom and Adonijah) cannot prove that David did not
have a special body of guards with a special gentilic name, even supposing the
phrase in 1 Kings11. to be parallel with ours, which is by no means certain; if the
Plethi were runners, it does not follow that the word itself means “runner’s;” nor is
it clear whether the Kari (Eng. A. V. incorrectly “captains”) are the same with the
Krethi (in 2 Samuel 20:23 the text has Kari, the margin Krethi), rather the word is
another proper name (Carians or some other); c) David’s patriotism and piety
would be no bar to his taking a body-guard from neighboring tribes, among whom
he had probably passed a part of his time of exile, and had many friends
(compare Uriah, Ittai, and other foreigners), nor were such men necessarily
heathen because they were foreigners, many foreigners having attached
themselves to the religion of Israel.—As to the origin of the names Krethi and
Plethi there is much uncertainty. The first is identified with Cretan by those that
think Caphtor ( Genesis 10:14, Deuteronomy 2:23) to be Crete, but against this
Ebers has brought strong reasons (Ægypt. I:130 sq.); however, independently of
any reference to Caphtor, a tribe may have come from Crete and settled on the
Mediterranean shore. The connection of Kari with Carian, while not improbable in
itself, is yet unproved. The identification of the second name Plethi with Plishti or
Philistine (by the falling out of the s letter) is hard and improbable; Bp. Patrick
thinks it likely that the name designated an Israelitish family, and refers to the
Reubenite Peleth, Numbers 16:1, and the Judahite of the same name, 1
Chronicles 2:33; Abarbanel (cited and approved by Philippson) regards both
words as names of Israelitish families. At present we must be content to remain in
ignorance of the origin of the names.—Tr.][FN28] 6) And David’s sons were
confidential counsellors. As Movers (Bibl. Chron. 302sq.) has shown, the word
cohen [usually = priest] does not here mean “domestic chaplains, palace-priests,
unlevitical spiritual advisers” (Gesen, De Wette, Winer, Maurer, and others), but
“confidential counsellor,” according to 1 Kings 4:5, where the same term applied
to Sabud, son of Nathan [Eng. A. V. “principal officer”] is explained by the phrase
“the king’s friend.” [This phrase is not necessarily an explanation of the term
cohen, but may be simply another descriptive epithet.—Tr.]. The periphrastic
expression in 1 Chronicles 18:17 “the first [chief] at the hand (side) of the king”
points to the same signification. According to Kimchi the verb (‫ )לֵ יֹו מ‬means “to
serve in an office of dignity;” according to Grotius, “to do service, whence the
participle in reference to God means a priest, in reference to the king a minister.”
[This seems to be the most probable statement from the examples in the Old Test,
the rendering of Sept, Syr. and Chald. here, and the opinion of the Talmud (Bab,
Nedarim62 a) and the rabbinical writers. The fullest discussions are by J. D.
Michaelis, Supplem. in Lex. Heb., and Gesenius, Thes. s. v. Our data are hardly
sufficient to enable us to speak with certainty of the original meaning of the
The list of officers ( 2 Samuel 8:16-18) is here appended to the
statistical-historical account of David’s wars in order to conclude the history of
David’s royal rule at its culmination with a glance at the internal administration of
the kingdom. It can no more be conclusively decided from this that the Editor here
incorporates into his account a [different] history of David (Thenius) than in the
similar passage, 1 Samuel 14. It is a list of the high officers of state that stood by
him in the internal administration of the kingdom at the moment when he had
secured it against “the enemies roundabout,” and extended it by victories over
them, and could now undisturbed give attention to its internal strengthening and
organization. The list in 2 Samuel 20:23-26, on the contrary, gives the list of
officers as it stood in his last days after the internal shocks that his government
had sustained.
b. Ch9 David’s magnanimous conduct towards Mephibosheth. As Mephibosheth
was five years old at Saul’s death ( 2 Samuel 4:4), and now had a young son ( 2
Samuel 5:12), what is here related cannot be put immediately after David’s
removal to Jerusalem or Ishbosheth’s murder ( 2 Samuel 4) (as Then, would do
on account of David’s words, “is there left any of Saul’s house?” which might
indeed have been spoken with reference to that murder), but belongs to a later
period, when David had secured his kingdom within and raised it to its zenith by
external wars. These words indicate that David after long wars was had now
found a time of quiet to attend to internal affairs, among the most important of
which must have been the fulfilment of his covenant of friendship with Jonathan.
The narrative shows how he fulfilled Jonathan’s request ( 1 Samuel 20:15), and
his own answering promise with royal grace and magnanimity.
2 Samuel 9:1 David’s question: Is it so that there is yet any one left to[FN29]
Saul’s house? presupposes that he had made inquiry and gotten information
thereof, and now wished to assure himself of what he had heard. He had perhaps
some time before accidentally heard of the concealed abode of the unfortunate
last scion of Saul’s house in a remote place ( 2 Samuel 9:5). The words: That I
may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake refer to Jonathan’s words, 1
Samuel 20:14-15 (“show me the mercy of the Lord,” etc.).[FN30]
2 Samuel 9:2. A former servant of Saul, Ziba, gives exacter information of the
person and the place. [Kitto in Daily Bib. Ill. thinks it improbable that David knew
any thing of the existence of a son of Jonathan, or that he would recognize him
under his altered name (Mephibosheth instead of Meribbaal); Ziba was probably
known to some of David’s officers and hunted up by them.—Tr.] In David’s
question to him ( 2 Samuel 9:3): Is there no one, etc., that I may show him the
mercy of God? the term mercy or kindness ( 2 Samuel 9:1) is more exactly
defined as a kindness such as God Himself shows; and this agrees again with
Jonathan’s mention ( 1 Samuel 20:14) of the “kindness of God,” which he begs
David to show to him and his house. [Others understand it of kindness in God, out
of reverence for God, for God’s sake (Keil), or take the expression as merely a
superlative one = very great kindness (Patrick), others combine these three views,
and this is better; kindness shown from an indwelling in God will be pure and great
kindness such as God shows.—Tr.] According to Ziba’s information [ 2 Samuel
9:3-4] Jonathan’s lame son is in Lodebar in the house of Machir the son of
Ammiel. Lodebar (ֵ‫מוֵ א מ‬,ְּ in 2 Samuel 17:27 ‫)מוֵ א מר‬
ְּ was therefore across the
Jordan near Mahanaim and Rabbath-Ammon, perhaps Lidbir,[FN31] Joshua 13:26.
According to this account Machir was a respected and propertied Prayer of
Manasseh, who had taken charge of Mephibosheth after Jonathan’s death. [See 2
Samuel 17:27-29.—Tr.]
[Grove (Art. “Mephibosheth” in Smith’s Bible Dictionary): These early misfortunes
[loss of parents, lameness, poverty] threw a shade over his whole life, and his
personal deformity seems to have exercised a depressing and depreciatory
influence on his character.—Tr.]
2 Samuel 9:9-13. Mephibosheth put in possession of Saul’s estate and admitted
to David’s house and table.—David’s transaction with Ziba suggests that the latter
resided at Gibeah, on the land of Saul’s family, and stood in some relation to the
family, perhaps that of steward. David1) informs him that he has restored to
Mephibosheth all the property of Saul and of his house. I have given them to thy
master’s son—son here=grandson, as above ( 2 Samuel 9:7) father=grandfather;
2) commissions him ( 2 Samuel 9:10) to cultivate the land for him, entrusts him
with the management and control of the property. The “bring” is to be understood
of “storing into the barns or also of delivery at Jerusalem” (Thenius), the latter
according to Josephus and Ewald, § 303 e. That the son of thy master may
have bread and eat it refers not to Mephibosheth’s son (Micha 2 Samuel 9:12),
as has been supposed in order to avoid the apparent contradiction of David’s
statement that Mephibosheth is to eat at his table; there is really no contradiction,
since this last statement merely means that Mephibosheth himself is to have the
honor of daily eating at David’s table, while these words relate to the general
support of the house and family of the so highly honored son of David’s friend. [On
the text see “Text. and Gramm.”—Tr.] The statement: Ziba had15 sons and20
servants serves to explain the commission: Cultivate the land thou and thy
sons and thy servants and to show that Ziba was in condition with his family and
servants to manage so large an estate. “Something considerable could therefore
be made for Mephibosheth” (Thenius). 2 Samuel 9:11 in its two parts—Ziba’s
declaration that he would perform David’s command, and the statement of
Mephibosheth eating at David’s table—corresponds to the two parts of 2 Samuel
9:10. The words: And Mephibosheth eats at my table as one of the king’s
sons cannot be taken as David’s (Clericus, De Wette [Eng. A. V.]), since David
would then have said the same thing three times, and there would in general be
no reason for such a reply to Ziba’s words. They are rather to be regarded as
spoken by Ziba—not, however, as a rejoinder in the sense: “If he will live with me,
he will be treated as a king’s son” (Grotius), but as a repetition of David’s word,
attached to the “as my lord has commanded” ( 2 Samuel 9:10) with the expression
of joyful astonishment and the consequent addition: “as one of the king’s sons!”
Ziba, in affirming that all that the king has ordered shall be done, repeats in
reference to Mephibosheth his verba ipsissima. This explanation may be
preferred to the assumption of a wrong reading here, namely, “my table,” for
“David’s table,” Sept. (Thenius, Keil), or “thy tables” (= thy table, Böttcher), partly
because the text is not to be altered without pressing necessity, partly because in
that case the statement that Mephisbosheth ate at David’s table would be
repeated immediately afterwards (in 2 Samuel 9:13). [For another view of the text
see “Text. and Gramm.”—Tr.]
[Mephibosheth was about 13 years old when David fixed his abode in Jerusalem;
how old he was now would depend on the chronological position of chap9, which
cannot be fixed with certainty. The Heb. word (‫)קקּו מ‬
ֵ here rendered “young” is
indefinite as to age; for Micha’s descendants see 1 Chronicles 8:34 sq.; 1
Chronicles 9:40 sq.—Tr.] “The house of Ziba were servants; Vulg. “served.”
Thenius, in view of 2 Samuel 9:10, would read the Particp. serving (‫)עּו ְּו ֵמכמ‬. In any
case, the constant servitude of Ziba’s whole household to Mephibosheth is
indicated, while the latter as lord of the land dwelt at Jerusalem as companion of
David’s family in the house and at the table.
1. The picture of David’s royal power and glory in contrast with the poor, crippled
son of Jonathan, the last scion of Saul’s fallen house, comes out in greater
splendor, the deeper the latter humbles himself before him and trusts himself to
his favor. In his noble conduct to Mephibosheth David demonstrates the
friendship that he had sworn to Jonathan.
2. The truly pious and God-fearing man not only shows “kindness of God” in so far
as God’s kindness impels him to show such merciful love as God does, whereby
he proves himself in truth a child of God, but it is the merciful love of God Himself
that dwells in his heart and works therefrom; for he that lives in fellowship with
God receives into his heart through the Holy Ghost the love that is in God, and
lives and moves in this love.
[ 2 Samuel 8:15-18. Taylor: In the minds of most readers of the Bible the name of
David, king of Israel, is associated mainly with military prowess, poetic genius,
and personal piety; and only on the rarest occasions do we hear any reference
made to his administrative ability. Yet in this last quality he was at least as
remarkable as in any one of the others; and great injustice is done to him if we
leave out of view the eminent services which he rendered to his country by the
exercise of his governmental and organizing faculties. … More than Charlemagne
did for Europe, or Alfred for England, David accomplished for the tribes of
Chap9. How true, compassionate love of one’s neighbor should be exhibited, is
shown by David’s conduct towards Mephibosheth1) This love does not suffer the
neighbor’s need to come to it, but searches out and goes after the need; 2) It does
not suffer itself to be determined by selfish aims, but does its duty in faithfulness
and impelled by God’s mercy for God’s sake; 3) It brings to the neighbor’s heart,
when filled with trembling anxiety and fear, consolation and peace by the words,
“Fear not;” 4) It lifts up the neighbor from his wretchedness and want, by restoring
to him what he had lost without fault, and by making him share in the enjoyment of
its own blessings, assigned it by God.
How a man after God’s heart, amid experiences of divine goodness and
faithfulness, should show the mercy of God towards his fellow-man: 1) By
faithfully discharging the duties of friendship; 2) In case there has been enmity, by
requiting evil with good; 3) By rendering to one on whom God’s counsel has
inflicted misfortune, the words and deeds of humble and helpful love.
The exercise of merciful love is an evidence that one has himself experienced the
divine mercy; for this mercy Isaiah, 1) Its source, 2) Its motive, 3) Its
example.—“The mercy of God is that which is shown in God and for God’s sake,
Luke 6:30.” (Berl. Bible.)
2 Samuel 9:1. Starke: To poor children whose parents have deserved well of us
we should do good in return. Wuert. Bib.: When harm has been done one, and his
enemy is no longer present, he should not avenge himself on his posterity, but
should forget the wrong, and, if possible, should do good to the children and
posterity of the man who wronged him ( Matthew 5:44).—[Henry: David had too
long forgotten his obligations to Jonathan, but now, at length, they are brought to
his mind. It is good sometimes to bethink ourselves whether there be any
promises or engagements that we have neglected to make good; better do it late
than never. Scott: Those who have much in their power should sedulously inquire
after opportunities of doing good; for frequently the most deserving objects of our
compassion are concealed by modesty and patient resignation.—Tr.]
2 Samuel 9:2-3. S. Schmid: All our good works, even works of mercy, must be
done for God’s sake.—Starke: Our mercy should be ordered according to God’s
2 Samuel 9:5. Starke: A Christian should not only love in word, but also in deed
and in truth ( 1 John 3:18).
2 Samuel 9:6-7. Cramer: Treat orphans as a father, and thou shalt be as a son of
the Most High ( Sirach 4:10).—Wuert. Bible: When parents are pious, their
children after their death enjoy the fruit of it ( Exodus 20:6; Psalm 112:1-2).
2 Samuel 9:7. Berl. Bible: Believers should earnestly take care to show all
possible loving service to the children of those whom they have loved in the Lord,
since we can then do nothing better than to remind such children of their parents’
grace, that they may follow them in faith and piety.—Schlier: Still is it a good thing
for children if they have God-fearing parents, and still for long years may children
enjoy the good their parents have done. The piety of parents is worth more than
much money and goods.—[Cowper:
My boast is not that I deduce my birth
From lions enthroned, and rulers of the earth;
But higher far my proud pretensions rise—
The son of parents passed into the skies.—Tr.]
2 Samuel 9:9. Hall: There is no more certain way to glory and advancement than
a lowly dejection of ourselves. 2 Samuel 9:11-12. Osiander: Stewards should
serve their lord not with eye-service, but with all fidelity ( Ephesians 6:6;
Colossians 3:22).
FN#1 - 2 Samuel 8:1. We leave this obscure word untranslated. Erdmann renders
it “the bridle of the mother,” but the Heb. ‫ רֶׁ מֵ י‬never means mother; so Philippson:
“the bridle of the metropolis (capital city).” The ancient VSS. are discordant and
unsatisfactory: Chald. has “the fastening of the Ammah,” Vulg. “the bridle of
tribute,” Syr. and Arab, render a proper name Ramath-Gamah (which some
translate “the height of the rush”), Aquila gives “the bridle of the aqueduct” or
(according to another edition) “the bridle of the ell,” Symmachus “the authority of
tribute,” while the Sept. reading τὴν ἀφωρισμένην suggests that their text
contained the stem ‫ םאי‬or ‫ׁשאי‬. These renderings show the perplexity of the
translators; the Rabbinical translation “stream or aqueduct” (so perhaps Chald.) is
improbable, and the rendering “tribute” equally without authority (=‫)יֶׁ מֶׁ מ‬, while the
reading in Chron. “Gath and her daughters” is an explanation, not a translation, if
it be not a different form of the same original text. In this uncertainty it seems
better to leave the words untranslated, as in Eng. A. V. Perhaps we have here a
proper name, possibly a corruption of the text of Chronicles.—Tr.]
FN#2 - 2 Samuel 8:2. Sept. has “two lines to kill and two to save,” and Vulg. gives
one line to each division (and so the Syr. in Walton’s Polyglot, followed by Arab,
but Lee’s Syr. text agrees with the Heb.); these are changes from desire for
FN#3 - 2 Samuel 8:3. Erdmann and many others prefer this form Hadadezer to
the form in Chron, Hadarezer (which is found in all the ancient VSS. except Chald,
and in many good Heb. MSS. and EDD.) on the ground that Hadad is the name of
a Syrian sun-god and occurs in many other proper names; but Schrader (Die
Keilinschriften und das A. T., p101) says that the name of the Syrian king in 1
Kings 20:1 is not Benhadad, but Ben-hadar, which the Assyrian writes Binhidri;
Schrader translates the name (“the god) Bin is exalted.” If this be correct, the
reading here is probably Hadarezer, as in Chron.—Tr.]
FN#4 - 2 Samuel 8:3. Our text is here to be preferred to that of Chron. ( 2 Samuel
18:3). Erdmann renders “to Revelation -establish his power,” nearly as Eng. A. V.
But the phrase here used always means “to turn one’s hand” either literally (as 1
Samuel 14:27) or figuratively, and either from (‫)דמ‬
ֵ a thing ( Ezekiel 18:17) or to or
against a thing (‫ רַ מ‬in Exodus 4:7 ‫ עֶׁ מ‬in Amos 1:8); here, as not the enemy against
whom, but the place in which the effort is made is meant the prep. “in” (‫)ו‬
ְּ is used;
he went to “put his hand, direct his attack” in or at the river.—Tr.]
FN#5 - 2 Samuel 8:3. The word “Euphrates,” not in the text, is supplied by the
Masorites in the margin, and is found in many MSS. and EDD.; its insertion in the
Heb. is unnecessary, since “the river” means the Euphrates.—Tr.]
FN#6 - 2 Samuel 8:4. The Heb. here reads: “1700 horsemen and20,000 footmen;”
Eng. A. V. divides the first number and introduces “chariots” in order to account
for their mention at the end of the verse (after 1 Chronicles 18:4); Erdmann adopts
the whole of the reading of Chron. “1000 chariots, 7000 horsemen, and20,000
footmen” (so also Sept. and then). But Wellhausen objects to this that the ‫ אלו‬at
the end is used in a general sense, including the horses of
“horsemen,”—inasmuch as after all the ‫ אלו‬only are houghed, there remain
only100 ‫“ אלו‬chariot-horses” and not also the “riding-horses.” Still, as the author
may here have chosen to leave out the riding-horses altogether, this objection
would not be decisive; but it is in favor of our text that, while not impossible, it is
not so easy as that of Chron.—Tr.]
FN#7 - 2 Samuel 8:5. Syr. and Arab. read badly “Edom and Damascus.”—Tr.]
FN#8 - 2 Samuel 8:7. The versions render this word (‫ )למק‬variously, apparently
guessing at its meaning from the connection. As Thenius points out, the
etymology (from a verb meaning “to be hard or strong”) and some of the passages
where it occurs (as Jeremiah 51:11) favor the meaning “armour” the rendering
“shield” is now more commonly adopted.—Tr.]
FN#9 - 2 Samuel 8:8. The probability seems to be in favor of the reading
FN#10 - 2 Samuel 8:10. The better reading is probably Hadoram (as in Chron.),
with which compare the Hadar-ezer above.—Tr.]
FN#11 - 2 Samuel 8:12. Some MSS. and Sept, Syr, Arab. read “Edom,” a change
of one letter only in the Hebrew, and this better suits the connection, where this
name is followed by Moab, etc., Zobah appearing at the end.—Tr.]
FN#12 - 2 Samuel 8:13. As Syria was not near the valley of salt, this text is
manifestly corrupt. We may either read “Edom” for “Syria” (so Sept. and Chron.)
or insert the clause “and smote Edom” after “Syrians (so Erdmann). The former
course is the simpler, and avoids the difficulty of accounting for the omission of
any reference to Syria in Chronicles. The Heb. words for Syria (‫ )ראמ‬and Edom
(‫ )ראמ‬differ very slightly.—Tr.]
FN#13 - On this phrase see “Text. and Gramm.” For various explanations see
Poole’s Synopsis and Bochart’s Hieroz. II. p225.—Tr.]
FN#14 - See Art. Zobah in Smith’s Bib. Dict.—Tr.]
FN#15 - As in Psalm 72:8 : “from the river to the ends of the earth” (south of
Egypt), and so 1 Maccabees 7:8. As the Nahar is the Euphrates, so the Yeor is
the Nile.—Tr.]
FN#16 - See notes on 2 Samuel 10:16.—Tr.]
FN#17 - The permanent and deep calamity portrayed in this Psalm makes it
extremely difficult, if not quite impossible to refer it to the time of David. There is
great room for doubt also as to the Davidic origin of Psalm 60. See the Comms. of
Delitzsch and Perowne on Psalm for discussions of this point.—Tr.]
FN#18 - “The mills of God grind late the fine flour,” say the Jewish Sibylline
Oracles; or as a late Greek writer has it, “The mills of the gods grind late, but grind
FN#19 - 2 Samuel 8:17. The supposition that our text has here inverted the
names seems to be justified by the whole history, which shows no other priest in
David’s time by the side of Zadok but Abiathar, the son of Ahimelech. Some,
however (Bp. Patrick, Wordsworth), suppose that the chief-priest Abiathar is not
here named, but the two subordinate priests are given. This is possible, but not
probable, because we have here a list of the chief officers of David, With our Heb.
text are 1 Chronicles 18:16; 1 Chronicles 24:3; 1 Chronicles 24:6. Sept, Vulg,
Chald, while Syr. and Arab. have the inversion hero proposed. Erdmann
unnecessarily supposes a historical error in the text.—Lit.: “were priests,” the Art.
being omitted because they were the only priests (high-priests), as above
“recorder” and below “scribe.”—Tr.]
FN#20 - 2 Samuel 8:17. It seems impossible to decide certainly between this form
of the name and those of Chron. (Shavsha), 2 Samuel 20:25 (Sheya and Sheva)
and 1 Kings 4:3 (Shisha).—Tr.]
FN#21 - 2 Samuel 8:18. The Prep. “over” (‫ )עֶׁ מ‬is here properly supplied by Eng. A.
V, which, however, incorrectly renders the following ‫( ְּב‬which is to be rejected) by
FN#22 - 2 Samuel 8:18. So Chron.; others render: “counsellors.” For the
renderings of the verb (‫ )לימ‬in the ancient versions and lexicons, see Gesen, Thes.
s. v. Gesenius himself holds that all other meanings of the word are derived from
the notion of “priest;” but while the radical meaning must be held to be obscure,
the connection of the use of the noun undoubtedly favors the rendering of Eng. A.
V. here, and in 2 Samuel 20:23-26 and 1 Kings 4:2-6. The verb in Isaiah 61:10
also presents difficulty.—Tr.]
FN#23 - 2 Samuel 9:6. On the form of this name, in which the last element was
originally Baal, and the reason for the change see on 2 Samuel 4:4.—Tr.]
FN#24 - 2 Samuel 9:10. So all the ancient VSS. except Chald.; the ‫ יֵ כֵי‬of the Heb.
is therefore to be omitted as destroying the syntax, since there is now no object
for the verb “bring” (Eng. A. V. inserts “the fruits”). Further, some Greek VSS.
cited in Montfaucon’s ed. of Origen’s Hexapla read: “and thou shalt bring bread to
the house (‫ וכק‬instead of ‫ )ומ‬of thy lord,” and this reading has also been proposed
by Böttcher (independently, it would seem, as he does not mention the Greek)
and approved by Thenius. The external evidence is distinctly against this reading
(it is found only in some anonymous Greek versions), but the internal evidence
strongly favors it; for, as Böttcher remarks, the following clause, affirming that
Mephibosheth will eat at the royal table, would naturally contrast him with some
other person or persons in this clause. The passage would then read thus: “thou
and thy sons and thy servants shall till the land for him, and thou shalt bring food
to the household of thy master, and they shall eat; and Mephibosheth [himself]
shall eat at my table.” We might then put ‫ רֵ לְּ מּו‬for ֵ‫רֶׁ לֵמ‬, but it is not necessary,
since ‫( וכק‬house) may take a verb in the Sing. The change of ‫ וכק‬to ‫ ומ‬in copying
would be easy, especially as the phrase: “son of thy master,” is found near, and
the error, if it be an error, must have come in very early.—On the other hand our
present Heb. text (‫ )ומ‬is favored by the similar phrase elsewhere used in this
narrative, and the contrast above referred to, while natural, cannot be said to be
absolutely necessary. Böttcher’s emendation may therefore be said to be highly
probable, but not absolutely certain.—Tr.]
FN#25 - 2 Samuel 9:11. This phrase is supplied by Eng. A. V. on the supposition
that these are the words of David, and so Bp. Patrick. Erdmann and others refer
the words to Ziba. But it is not probable that David would here repeat his former
declaration after Ziba had assented to everything; and in Ziba’s mouth the words
are inappropriate, whether he means his own table (Philippson), or quotes the
king’s phrase: “my table” (Erdmann). It is better to regard the phrase as the
statement of the narrator. Bib. Com., taking it Song of Solomon, retains the
present text and renders: “so Mephibosheth ate at my table,” etc., regarding David
himself as the narrator, which, however, is hard and unexampled. Following Sept.
and Syr. we might read. “and Mephibosheth ate (= was eating) at the king’s table,”
etc. The word king (‫ )ידמי‬may have fallen out through error of eye on account of
its occurrence at the end of the verse, or the “my table” may have been repeated
from 2 Samuel 9:11. To this emendation it is not a sufficient objection that the
same phrase would thus be employed by the narrator in 2 Samuel 9:13; for in 2
Samuel 9:11 it describes the conclusion of the immediate arrangement made by
the king, while in 2 Samuel 9:13 it concludes the whole account of
Mephibosheth’s position and circumstances, as for a similar reason the statement
about his lameness is repeated in 2 Samuel 9:13.—Tr.]
FN#26 - ‫ ְּיכֵר‬shortened from ‫יכיר=יבשר‬, the latter, along with ‫י ֵאכֵר‬,
ְּ a second
name of the same person.
FN#27 - The word welsh means “foreign,” and the Germans applied the name to
Italians, as the Saxons did to the Cymry.—Tr.]
FN#28 - Böttcher omits these two words, and (after the Sept.), renders “Benaiah
was counsellor,” introducing ‫ כֵעֹו ח‬instead of “Krethi and Pelethi;” but this view has
little in its favor.—Tr.]
FN#29 - The Dat. is not periphrasis of the Gen. (Keil), nor to be changed into
“from (‫)דמ‬,
ֵ the house” (Then.), but indicates “appertainment to.”
FN#30 - On this speech of Jonathan see the corrected Eng. translation and
translator’s notes.—Tr.]
FN#31 - This word ‫ ממוא‬is variously read and understood; Eng. A. V. Debir.—Tr.]
09 Chapter 9
10 Chapter 10
Verses 1-19
IV. The Ammonite-Syrian War
2 Samuel 10:1-19
1And it came to pass after this that the king[FN1] of the children of Ammon died,
and Hanun his son reigned in his stead 2 Then said David [And David said], I will
show kindness unto Hanun the son of Nahash, as his father showed kindness
unto me. And David sent to comfort him by the hand of his servants for his father.
And David’s servants came into the land of the children of Ammon 3 And the
princes of the children of Ammon said unto Hanun their lord, Thinkest [FN2] thou
that David doth honour thy father that he hath sent comforters unto thee? hath not
David rather [om. rather] sent his servants unto thee to search the city[FN3] 4and to
spy it out and to overthrow it? Wherefore [And] Hanun took David’s servants, and
shaved off the one half of their beards, and cut off their garments in 5 the middle
even [om. even] to their buttocks and sent them away. When [And] they told it
unto David[FN4] [ins. and] he sent to meet them, because [for] the men were greatly
ashamed; and the king said, Tarry at Jericho until your beards be grown, and then
6And when [om. when] the children of Ammon saw that they stank [that they had
made themselves loathsome[FN5]] before David [ins. and], the children of Ammon
sent and hired the Syrians of Beth-rehob and the Syrians of Zobah, twenty
thousand footmen, and of king Maacah [and the king of Maacah] a thousand men,
and 7 of Ish-tob [and the men of Tob], twelve thousand men. And when [om. when]
David heard of it, he [and] sent Joab and all the host of [om. of], the mighty men 8
And the children of Ammon came out and put the battle in array at the entering in
[the doorway] of the gate; and the Syrians of Zoba and of Rehob and Ish- Tobit
9[the men of Tob] and Maacah were by themselves in the field. When [And] Joab
saw that the front of the battle was against him before and behind [ins. and], he
chose of all the choice men of Israel, and put them[FN6] in array against the Syrians;
10And the rest of the people he delivered into the hand of Abishai his brother that
he might put [and put] them in array against the children of Ammon 11 And he
said, If the Syrians be too strong for me, then thou shalt help me, but [and] if the
children of Ammon be too strong for thee, then I will come and [to] help thee 12 Be
of good courage, and let us play the men [Be strong, and let us show ourselves
strong[FN7]] for our people and for the cities of our God; and the Lord [Jehovah will]
do[FN8] that which seemeth him good 13 And Joab drew nigh, and the people that
were 14 with him, unto the battle against the Syrians, and they fled before him.
And when [om. when] the children of Ammon saw that the Syrians were fled, then
fled they also [and they fled] before Abishai, and entered into the city. So [And]
Joab returned from the children of Ammon and came to Jerusalem.
15And when [om. when] the Syrians saw that they were smitten before Israel [ins.
16and], they gathered themselves together. And Hadarezer [FN9] sent and brought
out the Syrians that were beyond the river; and they came to Helam, [FN10] and
Shobach 17 the captain of the host of Hadarezer went before them [was at their
head]. And when [om. when] it was told David [ins. and], he gathered all Israel
together and passed over [ins. the] Jordan and came to Helam. And the Syrians
set themselves in array against David and fought with him 18 And the Syrians fled
before Israel, and David slew the men of seven hundred chariots of the Syrians
and forty thousand horsemen [of the S. seven hundred chariot-men and four
thousand horsemen], and smote Shobach the captain of their host who [so that he]
died there 19 And when [om. when] all the kings that were servants to Hadarezer
saw that they were smitten before Israel [ins. and], they made peace[FN11] with
Israel and served them. So [And] the Syrians feared to help the children of
Ammon any more.
Compare the parallel narrative in 1 Chronicles19
2 Samuel 10:1-5. The cause of the war with the Ammonites. This war, having
been only mentioned in 2 Samuel 8:12, is here, together with the Syrian wars
occasioned by it (given fully in 2 Samuel8), described in its whole course,
because of its close connection with the history of Uriah and his wife, which
became for David the fatal point at which his kingdom turned from glory to
[As this was probably about forty years after the events narrated in 1 Samuel11, it
is possible, certainly, that the two kings Nahash may be the same; but it is neither
certain nor very probable, considering the usual length of royal reigns.—Tr.]
2 Samuel 10:2. What kindness Nahash had shown David is unknown. Perhaps he
had sent congratulations on his accession to the throne. At all events his relations
with David were friendly, while with Saul his relations were hostile. [FN13] For his
defeat at Jabesh see 1 Samuel9—[Some refer to 2 Samuel 17:25 as possibly
indicating a family-alliance between David and Nahash.—Tr.] David accordingly
sent an embassy of condolence to Hanun the son of Nahash.
2 Samuel 10:3. After the death of Nahash, who was in friendly connection with
David, the Ammonite princes, jealous no doubt of the mighty growth of the
kingdom of Israel, introduce a new era by counselling his successor to adopt a
hostile policy that would be a challenge to war.—Is David in thine eyes an
honorer of thy father (which question involves a negation)? The question itself
contains a slight reproach against the king, that he allowed himself to be deceived
by David’s conduct. They express to him the suspicion that David sent this
ostensibly consolatory embassy merely for the purpose of spying out and then
destroying the “city,” that Isaiah, Rabbah ( 1 Samuel 11:1), the capital-city of the
country. Rabbah was a strongly fortified place (comp. 2 Samuel 10:14), the
internal examination of which was certainly important for an enemy purposing to
besiege it.
2 Samuel 10:4. The king, treating the ambassadors as spies, subjected them to
the indignity of shaving off the half (that Isaiah, one side) of their beards. This is
the grossest insult that can be offered an Oriental; for the beard is the sign of the
free man’s dignity and his finest adornment. Isaiah 7:20; 16.[FN14] See Lakemacher,
Observ. X:145 sq, Arvieux, Nachricht. III:173, Niebuhr, Beschreib. v. Arab., 317,
and farther in Winer, s. v. Bart.—[Keil, Philippson and others quote modern
instances. Many Orientals would rather die than lose their beards, and the Turks
used to regard beardless Europeans as runaway slaves. A war like this occurred
in Persia in1764.—Tr.] Hanun besides cut off the long outer garments of the
ambassadors to the buttocks.[FN15] The Israelites, except the priests, wore no
breeches. So much the grosser, therefore, was the insult.
2 Samuel 10:5. After hearing of the double insult offered his ambassadors, David
directs them not to return, but to stay at Jericho and wait for their beards to grow.
2 Samuel 10:6-14. Israel’s successful war against the Syrians, whom the
Ammonites had hired ( 2 Samuel 10:6-13), and against the Ammonites, who after
the flight of their allies, likewise took to flight ( 2 Samuel 10:14).
2 Samuel 10:6. The Ammonites desired war with Israel. They knew that by their
treatment of the ambassadors of David they had made themselves stinking, that
Isaiah, hateful to him ( 1 Samuel 13:4), and hired as allies: 1) the Syrians of
Beth-Rehob; comp. 2 Samuel 10:8; 2 Samuel 10:16 where we have simply the
name Rehob. This Rehob is the name of the Syrian district, whose capital-city
was Beth-Rehob. This is hardly to be sought where Robinson (Neue bibl.
Forschung., p488 [Am. ed. III:371, 372]) conjecturally locates it, namely, in the
ruins of the fortress Hunin, southwest of the Tell el Kadi (the old Laish-Dan), the
northern boundary of Palestine, since in that case the capital-city of this Aramæan
region would have lain within the land of Israel (Keil); it is better located
[twenty-five Eng. miles] north-east of Damascus, on the site of the present
Ruhaibeh (Kremer, Dam., p192, Ritter XVII:1472, Stähelin, 56), unless, following
the reading in Chron. (Naharaim for Beth-Rehob), we prefer the Rehoboth of the
river, that Isaiah, of the Euphrates ( Genesis 36:37), where there is now (near the
junction of the Chaboras and the Euphrates) a place called Er-rahabeh or
Rahabeh (Rosenm, Alterth. II:2, 270 sq.; Ritter XV:128), where this city may have
been situated. Keil’s argument against this view, namely, that the sway of the king
of Zobah ( 2 Samuel 10:16) extended beyond the Euphrates into Mesopotamia,
and hence this “Rehoboth on the river” cannot well have been the capital-city of a
particular Aramæan kingdom, is not of force, partly because this sway is by no
means certainly proved, partly because it is not made out that it embraced the
whole territory between the two rivers. [See Arts. Rehob and Rehoboth in Smith’s
Bib. Dict.—Tr.]—2) The Syrians of Zobah, see 2 Samuel 8:3. 3) The king of
Maachah (in Chron. Aram-Maachah), bordering on Geshur, according to Joshua
12:5 on the northern border of Bashan, on the south-western declivity of Hermon
(comp. Onom. Μαχαθί), on the border of the Israelitish trans-jordanic territory
( Deuteronomy 3:14), especially of Reuben and Gad ( Joshua 13:11). 4) Not Istob
(as in the VSS, Joseph, Ew, § 273 b), but the men of Tob, since there was a
region of this name near the Ammonite territory, to which Jephthah fled ( Judges
11:5). Its location cannot be fixed with certainty. Ewald: the Thauba (θαῦβα) of
Ptol5, 19, which, however, must be sought for in desert Arabia. Knobel: the
present Tubneh, about twenty-four Eng. miles south of Damascus, comp. Tubion
(Τούβιον,[FN17] Τουβίν), 1 Maccabees 5:13; 2 Maccabees 12:17. Stähelin: the
present village Taibeh, mentioned by Ritter XV:891, 922, and placed north of
Tibneh in Wetzstein’s map of Hauran. Chron. gives exacter information: Hanun
sent one thousand talents of silver to hire from Aram-Naharaim, Aram-Maachah
and Zobah chariots and horsemen. For this large sum (over two million dollars)
the Ammonites, according to Chron, hired him thirty-two thousand chariots and
horsemen[FN18] (‫אלַו‬,
ַ comp. 2 Samuel 8:4) and the king of Maachah with his
people. Chron. states that the hired auxiliaries encamped at Medeba (comp.
Joshua 13:9; Joshua 13:16, with Numbers 21:30), the present Medaba, four Eng.
miles south-east of Heshbon, between the Arnon and the Jabbok opposite Jericho,
in the territory of Reuben; it afterwards came into the possession of Moab, Isaiah
15:2.—[It is mentioned in the inscription of the Moabite king Mesha as having
been captured by Omri, and recaptured by Mesha.—Tr.] The ruins, situated on a
hill, are a mile in circuit. See Raumer, 264. As it was in a plain ( Joshua 13:16),
not more than eight miles southwest of Rabbah, the strong Ammonitish
capital-city, it was a suitable rendezvous for the hired auxiliaries and a good
position for the defence of Rabbah against a siege. The auxiliaries of Tob are not
mentioned in Chron. The two accounts [Sam. and Chron.] agree in the number of
the auxiliaries. According to Chron. the Ammonites hired thirty-two thousand men
[Chron. says “chariots.”—Tr.] and the troops of Maachah; Sam. gives one
thousand from Maachah, two thousand from Zobah, and twelve thousand from
Tob. But as to the composition of the auxiliary troops, the two accounts differ;
according to the Chronicler there were “chariots and horsemen,” according to our
passage “footmen,” while yet according to 2 Samuel 8:4 and 1 Chronicles 18:4 the
king of Zobah fought against David with “chariots and horsemen.” Keil: “Here,
then, there are copyists’ errors in both texts. For the Syrian troops consisted
neither of infantry alone, nor of chariots and horsemen alone, but of infantry,
cavalry and war-chariots, as is evident not only from 2 Samuel 8:4; 1 Chronicles
18:4, but also from the close of our narrative.—The Syrians fought in both battles
with all three arms, so that David twice defeated chariots, cavalry and infantry.”
2 Samuel 10:7. Against these hostile troops David sends his general Joab and the
“whole host, the mighty men.” Not “the whole host of the warriors” (De Wette), but
“Gibborim” [mighty men] is in apposition with “the whole host.” The mention of the
whole army excludes the supposition of a select body, “a foundation of the
Israelitish army” (Bunsen), especially as the Gibborim are never distinguished
from the whole army (Bertheau on 1 Chronicles 19:8). There is therefore no
ground for supplying “and” before “the mighty men” (Thenius). [Eng. A. V.
incorrectly inserts “of.”—Tr.]
2 Samuel 10:8. And the Ammonites came out, that Isaiah, from their capital city,
where they had gathered within the protecting fortifications. This appears from the
following words: and put themselves in battle-array before the gate of the city,
that Isaiah, Rabbah (so in Chron. “before the city”). The position of the Syrian
auxiliaries “in the field,” that Isaiah, on the broad plain of Medeba, is clearly
distinguished from that of the Ammonites before the city (for defence or attack), so
that the statement of the position of Joab’s army ( 2 Samuel 10:9) is clear. It is not
said: “And when Joab saw that the battle was against him” (De Wette), but: “that
the face (front) of the battle was against him, in front and in rear.” He could be
attacked on both sides, by the Ammonites in rear, by the Syrians in front. He
therefore so makes his dispositions as to select some from all the chosen[FN19]
men in Israel. This chosen body Joab sets against the Syrians, their position in
the open field making their attack sharper (perhaps, also, they were the more
numerous), while the Ammonites stood in reserve to cover their stronghold
Rabbah.—The rest of the army ( 2 Samuel 10:10) he placed under the command
of his brother Abishai against the Ammonites, in order that he might be covered in
rear in his attack on the Syrians, and might have support, if he needed it.—To this
refers his agreement with Abishai in 2 Samuel 10:11. Either was to come to the
help of the other, if there was danger of being overpowered by the enemy. It
hence appears that the Israelites were not to make an assault on both sides at the
same time, but Joab intended first to attack and defeat the Syrians, while Abishai
was to cover his rear. A simultaneous attack might, however, be made by the two
armies between which Joab and Abishai stood. The point here, therefore, was
quickly and stoutly to carry through a bold stroke.—This is the reference in Joab’s
words to Abishai in 2 Samuel 10:12, of which Thenius finely remarks: “This is a
warlike exhortation, the briefest indeed, but the fullest of meaning.” Be stout,
strong—this applies to Abishai personally and indicates stout temper of
mind—and let us show ourselves stout—this refers to warlike action; for our
people and the cities of our God—with these words he points out the prize for
which they were contending. The weal and freedom of the whole Israelitish people
was at stake. “The cities of our God;” these words mean either the cities of Israel
in general, which as representatives of the whole land are called the cities of God,
because they are with the whole land God’s property and possession (Keil), or
those cities in which the worship of the living God was established for the whole
people, whose conquest by the enemy would have resulted in the overthrow of
the worship of Jehovah and the establishment of the heathen worship of idols.
[Others suppose, not so well, that the reference here is to Medeba and other cities
now threatened by the enemy, though still in the hands of the Israelites.—Tr.].
The Lord will do what is good in his eyes; these words express trust in God
combined with unconditional submission. Alongside of the faithfulness (to be
shown by bravery and firmness), that was to do its duty in this situation so
dangerous for the people and for Jehovah, is put the hidden will of God in respect
to what will happen, and unconditional submission to His counsel and deed. The
sense is well expressed by Clericus: “If it should seem good to God to give our
enemies the victory, we must acquiesce in His will; meantime let us go bravely
into battle.”
2 Samuel 10:13. Quickly and vigorously the attack is made on the Syrians—they
flee. Grotius: “as often happens with those that fight for pay alone without respect
to the cause.” [So Bp. Patrick.—Tr.]. “Inasmuch as for them, casually assembled,
there would be neither glory in victory nor shame in flight,” Tacit. Hist. II:12.
[Perhaps Joab first attacked the Syrians not solely because they were
mercenaries and in the open field, but also because they were better disciplined
and therefore more to be feared than the Ammonites.—Tr.].
2 Samuel 10:14. This rout of the allied force occasioned the flight of the
Ammonites also, who threw themselves into their capital city. After this brilliant
exploit Joab brought the campaign to an end and returned to Jerusalem, probably
because (see 2 Samuel 11:1) the advanced season was unfavorable to carrying
through the siege of Rabbah [or also, because the Syrians were not sufficiently
broken, or because he had not the materials for a siege (Bib. Com.).—Tr.]
2 Samuel 10:15-19. Second battle with the Syrians and their complete defeat
under Hadarezer.
2 Samuel 10:15. The ground of the Syrians for again collecting their forces was
shame at having been defeated by the Israelites, and care for their safety against
a presumable campaign of David. Among the Syrians king Hadarezer of Zobah ( 2
Samuel 8:3) appears as the most powerful prince and David’s most hostile
opponent. Here and in Chron. he is always called Hadarezer, in chap8.
Hadadezer. The Syrians (reassembled after their rout) are reinforced by the
Syrian troops that Hadarezer ( 2 Samuel 10:16) called to his help “from beyond
the river,” that Isaiah, from Mesopotamia. These Mesopotamians levied by him
were, therefore, under his jurisdiction (comp. 2 Samuel 10:19). Shobach,
Hadarezer’s field-marshal, led these troops, but was also general-in-chief of the
whole Syrian army ( 2 Samuel 10:18). And came to Helam.—The Hebrew might
also be translated: “and their army came” (Then, Böttcher). But the remark would
be somewhat superfluous and excessively dragging in this militarily lively and curt
account. As there is no such remark in Chron, and as in 2 Samuel 10:17 the
phrase “he came to Helamah,” designates the place where David met the Syrians,
the word is to be taken (with the ancient VSS.) as the name of a place, our word
here being merely a shorter form of that in 2 Samuel 10:17 (‫)ׁשֹו כמֵ מ = ׁשֹו מֵ רמ‬. The
place has not yet been identified. [Instead of the second Helam Chron. has “to
them.” If we adopt this text and render “their army” in 2 Samuel 10:16, the account
will read: Hadarezer brought the Syrians, and their army came and Shobach
before them … and David passed over Jordan and came to them, and the Syrians,
etc. It is not easy to decide between the texts of Sam. and Chron.; the difficulty of
identifying Helam may be an argument for both.—Tr.].
2 Samuel 10:17. Helam is designated as the place across the Jordan whither
David brought his army and fought the Syrians. Chron. has “he came on them”
(the Aramæans)—either a scribal error, or an intentional omission of the name of
the place because it was too little known. The name Helam[FN20] is thought by Ew,
Bött. and Then. to point to the Alamata on the Euphrates (Ptol5, 15, 25). But the
Syrians would hardly have fallen back before David as far as the Euphrates to
receive his attack there with the river in their rear. As this is the same battle that
(according to 1 Chronicles 18:3) was fought at Hamath (comp. 2 Samuel 8:4), and
the statement “came to Helam” here follows immediately after the remark that
David crossed the Jordan, Helam must be located across the Jordan, not on the
Euphrates, but farther west near Hamath. Here the whole Israelitish and Syrian
armies stood opposed to one another in battle. [Why David took command in
person is not stated; probably on account of the importance of the campaign,
hardly from any dissatisfaction with Joab. Some account must be taken of David’s
military spirit.—Tr.]
2 Samuel 10:18. David’s splendid victory. The Syrians partly took to flight, partly
were cut to pieces by the Israelites. The completeness of the victory is farther
especially brought out by mentioning first ( 2 Samuel 10:18) the large number of
the slain: seven hundred chariot-soldiers and forty thousand horsemen (Chron.
gives seven thousand[FN21] chariot-men and forty thousand footmen). With this the
statements in 2 Samuel 8:4 and 1 Chronicles 18:4-5 (one thousand seven
hundred horsemen, or one thousand chariot-men and seven thousand horsemen,
and twenty thousand footmen of Aram-Zobah, and twenty-two thousand men of
Aram-Damascus) agree “as well as can be expected in the well known corruption
of Numbers, so that there is scarcely a doubt that the number of fallen Aramæans
is the same in both accounts (chaps8,10), and that our chapter relates
circumstantially the same war, the result only of which is given in 2
Samuel8,1Chronicles13” (Keil). It is then further stated that David so smote the
general that he died; that Isaiah, he died on the field of wounds received in battle.
2 Samuel 10:19. The result of this defeat: 1) “all the vassal-princes” that had
followed Hadarezer’s summons to war against David, made peace with Israel
when they saw that they were beaten. The addition (after the first “Israel”) in the
Vulg.: “they feared, and there fled fifty-eight thousand in the presence of Israel,”
does not warrant us in introducing it into the text (with Thenius), and finding
therein the statement of the number of those that were “slain in flight;” for such a
numerical statement does not suit the tenor of the narrative, which here intends
only a general remark on the recognition of their complete defeat by the Syrians,
so that we should least expect such a statement here about merely a part of the
defeated army—apart from the fact that the word “smitten” ( 2 Samuel 10:19)
includes all the slain, not merely those that fell in flight; 2) the Syrian princes and
peoples became tributary to Israel, and rendered the Ammonites no more aid
against the Israelites.—Nothing is here said of the wars with Damascus and
Edom, to which Joab turned in the south ( 2 Samuel 8), while David was gaining
his victories in the north, because the narrative is here occupied with the fortunes
of Rabbah only because of their connection with those of Uriah (Ewald).
1. One injustice produces another, and drags men on irretardably to destruction
by the resulting chain of sins and injustices. The king of Ammon with sinful levity
lends his ear to the liars and calumniators that surround him; thence comes the
most outrageous insolence towards David’s ambassadors, and the most abusive
insult to the whole people of Israel; on this follows the hasty preparation and
provocation of a wholly unjust, wicked war; therein the princes are forced to take
part, and so to stake their land and people. The end is complete destruction.
2. This great danger, prepared for David by his enemies, was made through the
divine control to conduce to the magnifying of his name, and to his ascent to the
highest point of royal glory. The bold insolence of the enemies of God’s people
and kingdom must serve not only to bring about more wonderfully the revelation of
the Lord’s power in subduing enemies and helping friends, but also to manifest
more splendidly the glory and might of His kingdom in the battles into which it is
forced by enemies.
3. Joab’s word to Abishai is a prelude to the Lord’s word to Peter: “Strengthen thy
brethren.” Heroic bravery in the war (it exhorts) is to be combined1) with the
recognition of those most sacred possessions and ends for which the struggle is
to be made,—thereby it is consecrated,—and2) with humble, trustful submission
to the will of the Lord—thereby it is preserved from temerity and
presumptuousness. The war is a just and holy one, undertaken for the defence of
the possessions received from God, to guard the honor of God, and in the name
of God.
2 Samuel 10:12. Bravery in battling for the highest objects: 1) It is rooted in fidelity
to God and to our brethren the people of God; 2) It is proven by devotion of body
and soul and the whole life to the aims of the kingdom of God; 3) It is sanctified by
unconditional submission to the purposes and doings of the will of God.
“The Lord do that which seemeth him good:” 1) A confession of humble
submission to God’s will, in presence of the greatest perils referring everything to
Him; 2) A testimony borne by childlike and strong reliance on the Lord’s help,
which is confidently expected in the cause of His people and His kingdom; 3) The
expression of a devout frame of mind, which is the basis of all genuine fidelity in
fulfilling the duties of one’s calling, and especially of all true bravery in fighting
against the enemies of God’s kingdom.
2 Samuel 10:1 sqq. Cramer: Nothing worthier can be devised than to requite
thanks with thanks. Proverbs 17:13.—Seb. Schmid: When God will chastise a
people, He withdraws from them good and sensible rulers; and woe to the land
whose king is a child ( Ecclesiastes 10:16).
2 Samuel 10:3. Seb. Schmid: Calumny is a diabolical vice, since under
appearance of prudence and truth it calls forth the greatest misfortunes.—Starke:
To put an evil construction upon good is the best art of the ungodly.—[Hall: Carnal
men are wont to measure another’s foot by their own last; their own falsehood
makes them unjustly suspicious of others. … It is hard for a wicked heart to think
well of any other; because it can think none better than itself, and knows itself evil.
The freer a man is from vice himself, the more charitable he uses to be unto
2 Samuel 10:6. Cramer: That is the way with an evil conscience; it flees before it
is hunted ( Job 15:20).—J. Lange: When a man knows that he has deserved
punishment, and yet is unwilling to acknowledge his guilt, he is sure to heap upon
himself more and more guilt.—[Hall: It is one of the mad principles of wickedness,
that it is a weakness to relent, and rather to die than yield. Even ill causes, once
undertaken, must be upheld, although with blood; whereas the gracious heart,
finding his own mistaking, doth not only remit of an ungrounded displeasure, but
studies to be revenged of itself, and to give satisfaction to the offended.—Tr.]
2 Samuel 10:12. Starke: A Christian must indeed show all diligence in his calling
and station, but must look to God for whatever progress he wishes to make ( 1
Corinthians 3:6).—[Hall: The tongue of a commander fights more than his hand. A
good leader must, out of his own abundance, put life and spirits into all others: if a
lion lead sheep into the field, there is hope of victory. … All valor is cowardice to
that which is built upon religion.—Henry: “God and our country” was the word. …
When we make conscience of doing our duty, we may with the greatest
satisfaction leave the event with God; not thinking that our valor bids Him to
prosper us, but that still He may do as He pleases, yet hoping for His salvation in
His own way and time.—Tr.]. 2 Samuel 10:13 sq. Osiander: Those who rely on
man and do not trust God, come to shame ( Psalm 25:3).—[Henry: Joab provided
for the worst, and put the case that the Syrians or Ammonites might prove too
strong for him ( 2 Samuel 10:11); but he proved too strong for them both. We do
not hinder our successes by preparing for disappointment.—Tr.]
2 Samuel 10:15-19. Schlier: He who does evil will also reap a harvest of evil; and
he who helps in evil will certainly also get a poor reward from it. As the seed, so
the harvest.—The Lord has everything in His hand, then He has the insolence of
enemies in His hand and makes all work well. He can check and subdue even the
greatest insolence, and convert it into a blessing for His people.
[ 2 Samuel 10:3-4. They who are tempted to offer gross insults had always better
look before they leap.
2 Samuel 10:5. “Tarry at Jericho,” etc. 1) We must beware of casting pearls
before swine ( 2 Samuel 10:2. The Ammonites must have been known to David
as a cruel and barbarous people). 2) Nothing is so offensive as a wanton insult, in
return for respect and kindness3) The gravest men are sensitive to ridicule of their
personal appearance4) All persons of noble nature are considerate of the feelings
of others5) Time heals many ills.
2 Samuel 10:12. Joab was a selfish, unscrupulous, unprincipled man; yet in
entering upon a perilous battle he talks piously. So do almost all generals and civil
rulers in any great emergency; not only because they know that the people feel
their dependence on God, but because in the hour of trial they feel it themselves.
Such language under such circumstances does not clearly prove one to be
devout, or to be hypocritical; it expresses a feeling which may be genuine, though
transient and superficial.—Tr.]
FN#1 - 2 Samuel 10:1. The reason for the omission of the king’s name here (in
the Heb. and all the VSS.) is not obvious; yet there is no good ground for
supplying it. The Arab. vers. omits the name of the son also in this verse.
FN#2 - 2 Samuel 10:3. Lit.: “is David an honorer of thy father in thy eyes, that?”
FN#3 - 2 Samuel 10:3. Some MSS. and edd. of the Hebrews, and the Arab. have
“land” instead of “city,” which, as being the easier rendering, is here less probable.
FN#4 - 2 Samuel 10:5. Chron. has: “and they went and told David concerning the
men,” which is an expansion for the sake of clearness.
FN#5 - 2 Samuel 10:6 Syr. Arab, Vulg, Sym. and Chald. render: “that they had
injured David,” which does not point to a different text, but is an explanation.
Instead of ‫ ומבא‬Sept. read (as in the Heb. of Chron.) ‫מבמ עם‬, which is rendered by
them “the people of David” (‫)עֶׁ מ‬.
FN#6 - 2 Samuel 10:9. Philippson renders: “put himself,” and so below ( 2 Samuel
10:10) “he put himself,” but this seems less natural than the usual
FN#7 - 2 Samuel 10:12. It is better here to preserve the identity of the Heb. word
rendered “strong,” which is used in several places in the context.—Tr.]
FN#8 - 2 Samuel 10:12. The form here is future, not optative (Vulg.), though it is
possible that the final ‫ י‬is repeated from the following word.—Tr.]
FN#9 - 2 Samuel 10:16. Here also there is wavering in the Heb. MSS. as to the
spelling of this name, some MSS. and edd. having “Hadadezer;” see on 2 Samuel
FN#10 - 2 Samuel 10:16. For the discussion of this reading see the Exposition. So
on 2 Samuel 10:18.—Tr.]
FN#11 - 2 Samuel 10:19. Sept. renders “fled to” (ἠυτομόλησαν), a free translation;
so probably Vulg. As to the addition in the Vulg. (see Exposition) Böttcher would
put it at the beginning of 2 Samuel 10:18. It is perhaps better to regard it as a
marginal remark made on some copy of the Vulg, though it is not easy to account
for the number given, fifty-eight thousand. Its absence from the other versions
justifies us in excluding it from the text.—Tr.]
FN#12 - The German here has incorrectly “the Septuagint,” instead of
FN#13 - Bp. Patrick suggests that he was friendly to David because hostile to
FN#14 - Leviticus 19:27; Deuteronomy 14:1 are not in point here; they refer not to
ordinary shaving, but to idolatrous clipping of the hair. Comp. the
FN#15 - For ‫ = ְּיקק‬nates Chron. has the euphemistic ‫ = ֵד ְּׁש ֵיעֵ י‬step, that Isaiah,
the part of the body where stepping is made possible, since the legs there begin.
FN#16 - The Germ. has 2 Samuel8, where the name Rehob is used of a king ( 2
Samuel 10:3; 2 Samuel 10:12), but not of a district.—Tr.]
FN#17 - In 1 Maccabees 5:13 Tischendorf writes Τώβὶον, Tobion.—Tr.]
FN#18 - The word in Chron. means “chariots” only, and does not include
FN#19 - Chron. has the Sing. (‫)וֵ ׁשּוא‬, which is a more common designation of the
army than the Plu. The ‫“( ְּו‬in”) before “Israel” is to be retained (against the VSS.
and some MSS.).
FN#20 - ‫רדי‬
ֵ ֵ‫ׁשֹו מ‬, “Heb. name of a Syrian city, dual-form from ‫( ׁשֶׁ כֵמ‬two armies), with
the ‫ֵ י‬-local” (Böttcher).
FN#21 - This number is almost incredibly large, and the text of Sam. is to be
11 Chapter 11
Verses 1-27
The beglooming of David’s royal rule by the sins of himself and his house,
and the thence resulting misfortunes
2 Samuel 11-18
I. Internal shattering of David’s rule by the grievous sins of himself and his house
2 Samuel 11-14
1. David’s deep fall during the war against Rabbath-Ammon. 2 Samuel 11:1-27
1And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings[FN1] go
forth to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him, and all Israel; and
they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah. But [And] David
tarried still at [abode in] Jerusalem 2 And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that
David arose from off his bed and walked upon the roof of the king’s house; and
from the roof he saw a woman washing herself, and the woman was very beautiful
to look upon 3 And David sent and enquired after the woman. And one said, Is not
this Bath-sheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite? 4And David
sent messengers and took her, and she came in unto him, and he lay with her;[FN2]
for [and] she was purified from her uncleanness, and she returned unto her house
5 And the woman conceived, and sent and told David, and said, I am with child.
6And David sent to Joab, saying, Send me Uriah the Hittite. And Joab sent
Uriah[FN3] to David 7 And when Uriah was come [And Uriah came] unto him, [FN4]
[ins. and] David demanded [asked] of him [om. of him] how Joab did, and how the
people did, and how the war prospered 8 And David said to Uriah, Go down to thy
house, and wash thy feet. And Uriah departed [went] out of the king’s house, 9and
there followed him a mess[FN5] of meat [food] from the king. But [And] Uriah slept
at the door of the king’s house with all[FN6] the servants of his lord, and went not
down to his house 10 And when they had told [And they told] David, saying, Uriah
went not down to his house, [ins. and] David said unto Uriah, Camest thou not
from thy journey? [Art thou not come from a journey?] why then [om. then] didst
thou not go down unto thine house? 11And Uriah said unto David, The ark, and
Israel, and Judah abide in tents [booths]; and my lord Joab and the servants of my
lord are encamped in the open fields [field]; shall I then [and shall I] go into mine
house to eat and to drink and to lie with my wife? as thou livest[FN7] and as thy soul
liveth, I will not do this thing 12 And David said to Uriah, Tarry here to-day also,
and to-morrow I will let thee depart. So [And] Uriah abode in Jerusalem that day
and the morrow 13 And when David had [And David] called him [ins. and] he did
eat and drink before him, and he made him drunk; and at even he went out to lie
on his bed with the servants of his lord, but [and] went not down to his house.
14And it came to pass in the morning that David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it
by the hand of Uriah 15 And he wrote in the letter, saying, Set [FN8] ye Uriah in the
forefront of the hottest battle, and retire ye from him, that he may be smitten and
die 16 And it came to pass, when Joab observed the city, that he assigned Uriah
unto a place where he knew that valiant men were 17 And the men of the city
went out and fought with Joab; and there fell some of the people of the servants of
David; 18and Uriah the Hittite died also. Then [And] Joab sent and told David all
the things concerning the war; 19And charged the messenger, saying, When thou
hast made an end of telling the matters of [all the things concerning] the war unto
20 the king, And[FN9] if so be that the king’s wrath arise, and he say unto thee,
Wherefore approached ye so nigh unto the city when ye did fight [to fight]? Knew
ye not that they would shoot from the wall? 21Who smote Abimelech the son of
Jerubbesheth[FN10]? did not a woman cast a piece of a millstone upon him from the
wall, that he died in Thebez? why went ye nigh the wall? then say thou, Thy
servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.
22So [And] the messenger went, and came and showed David all that Joab had
sent him for 23 And the messenger said unto David, Surely [om. surely] the men
prevailed against us, and came out unto us into the field, and we were upon them
even [om. even] unto the entering [doorway] of the gate 24 And the shooters shot
from off the wall upon thy servants; and some of the king’s servants be dead
[died], 25and thy servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also. Then [And] David said unto
the messenger, Thus shalt thou say unto Joab, Let not this thing displease thee,
for the sword devoureth one as well as another; make thy battle more [om. more]
strong 26 against the city and overthrow it. And encourage thou him. And when
[om. when] the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, [ins. and]
she 27 mourned for her husband. And when [om. when] the mourning was past
[over], [ins. and] David sent and fetched her to his house, and she became his
wife, and bare him a son. But [And] the thing that David had done displeased the
Lord [Jehovah].
[Our text, as the harder, is to be preferred; Chron. has introduced a natural
explanation.—Tr.] And they besieged Rabbah = “Rabbath of the children of
Ammon,”—that Isaiah, the great city of the Ammonites. See Joshua 13:25;
Deuteronomy 3:11; the present ruins of Rabbat-Amman on the Nahr-Amman (the
upper Jabbok), perfectly desert and uninhabited. Polybius: Rabbathamana. But
David remained in Jerusalem [the impending war with the Ammonites alone not
being of sufficient importance to require his presence—Tr.]—explanatory
transition to the episode of David’s adultery.
2 Samuel 11:2-5. David’s adultery with Bathsheba.—This section and the
following one are wanting in Chronicles. Towards the evening [Heb.: in the
evening—Tr.]—when the noon-rest was over, and the cooler part of the day had
come. [In later times the evening (‫ )עַ ַאו‬began at three o’clock in the afternoon; it
was the time when it was getting darker, when the sun was declining, and after
sunset till dark.—Tr.] David was walking (for pleasure) on the roof of the king’s
house, which was built on the edge of Mount Zion, so that one could thence look
immediately down into the courts of the Lower City, where Uriah’s house was, [FN12]
comp. 2 Samuel 11:8. The woman that David saw was in the act of bathing (the
Heb. uses the participle) in the uncovered court of her house, where, in
accordance with general Eastern custom, there was a well. [Or, in her chamber,
the casements being open (Patrick). In either case, the place was private, visible
only from a neighboring roof; and in the East people refrain from looking down
from a roof into neighbors’ courts (Philippson); so that it is on this ground an
unfounded suggestion that Bathsheba was purposely bathing in an exposed place
in order to attract the king’s gaze.—Tr.]
2 Samuel 11:3. Inflamed with sensual desire, David makes inquiry about the
woman whose beauty had attracted him. “And one said (Vulg.: nuntiatum ei est),
Is it not, etc.?” That Isaiah, “It Isaiah, etc.” (the negative question is often used in
lively discourse). This form of expression supposes that the object or person
mentioned was somehow already otherwise known.—Instead of “Bathsheba,
daughter of Eliam,” 1 Chronicles 3:5 has “Bathsheba, daughter of Ammiel.” The
form Bathsheba (= “daughter of the oath,” not “daughter of Sheba”) Isaiah,
according to 1 Kings 1:11; 1 Kings 1:15 and other places, to be regarded as the
usual, and so as the original and correct, one. The difficulty of explaining it makes
it impossible to adduce the meaning in favor of the originality and correctness of
the form Bathshua (Thenius), which may easily have come from the other by a
copyist’s change of a single letter (‫ ו‬into ‫)ב‬. According to Ewald (§ 273 d), Eliam
and Ammiel are different forms of the same name by an arbitrary inversion of the
component parts[FN13]. [From 2 Samuel 23:34, where Eliam is called the son of
Ahithophel, it is supposed by some that Bathsheba was the grand-daughter of
Ahithophel, and that this explains the latter’s adherence to Absalom. So Jerome,
Chandler, p407, Note, and Blunt, Undesigned Coincidences, p 143 sq. (Am. ed.).
The supposition seems not improbable.—Tr.] Uriah was a Hittite. He belonged ( 2
Samuel 23:39) to David’s Gibborim [Heroes]. The Hittites already in Palestine in
Abraham’s time ( Genesis 15:20) dwelt near Hebron ( Genesis 23:7 sqq.),
afterwards near Bethel ( Judges 1:24 sqq.); Solomon reduced the remnant of
them to servitude ( 1 Kings 9:20).
2 Samuel 11:4. Short but very vivid narrative of the sinful deed committed by
David in spite of his learning that Bathsheba was a married woman. That David
used force or artifice to get possession of the “innocent” woman (Mich.) is not
indicated in the expression: “and he took her.” The narrative leads us to infer that
Bathsheba came and submitted herself to David without opposition. This
undoubtedly proves her participation in the guilt, though we are not to assume that
her bathing there was “purposed,” in order to be seen (Thenius). She was moved
doubtless by vanity and ambition in not venturing to refuse the demand of David
the king. Her purification (which was according to the Law, Leviticus 15:18) was
performed while she was yet in the king’s palace. [Eng. A. V, Philippson and
others not so well make the purification precede her coming to the palace, putting
a full stop after the word “uncleanness.”—Tr.]
2 Samuel 11:5. Adultery was, according to Leviticus 20:10, punishable with death.
Her message to David had in view the avoidance of the consequences of this sin
2 Samuel 11:6-13. David’s efforts to conceal the adultery frustrated by Uriah.
2 Samuel 11:6. There is no evidence that Uriah was the armor-bearer of Joab
(Josephus). He had a command in the army, as is clear from what follows,
especially from the questions in 2 Samuel 11:7, which could be answered only by
one whose position gave him a wide and exact knowledge of the condition of the
war. David brought him to Jerusalem in order that, as Bathsheba’s husband, he
might hereafter pass for the father of the child begotten in adultery. The questions
addressed to him were intended to conceal from him as far as possible the
purpose for which he was called, and to make the impression that he was
summoned to render a military report. Washing the feet is the symbol at the same
time of rest and refreshment. After David has dismissed him to his home, he
sends him literally “something taken up,” what the man of rank sets before his
guest from his own table ( Genesis 43:34), and then any present ( Amos 5:11;
Esther 2:18). Here it was probably a dish of honor, which Uriah was to enjoy at
2 Samuel 11:9. Uriah, however, did not act according to David’s will and
expectation, but remained in the king’s palace “at or in the door,” and spent the
night there, in the guard-room ( 1 Kings 14:27-28), with the royal court-officials or
the body-guard. It is possible that he did this merely out of zeal of service (comp.
2 Samuel 11:11); but also his suspicions may have been already aroused, and he
may have heard something of the affair with Bathsheba.
2 Samuel 11:10 sq. [Perhaps David had sent to find out whether Uriah went home,
or the servants that carried the present may have informed him.—Tr.] There is a
certain tone of displeasure in David’s words already, though his question was a
natural one, since Uriah’s conduct (as indicated in the question) must have been
strange. Uriah’s answer [ 2 Samuel 11:11] is an explanation and justification of his
not going home, together with a solemn asseveration; whereby he conceals his
real ground of action, his unwillingness to meet the king’s wish. According to his
statement, the Ark had been carried along into the field, [FN14]—for the war was a
war of the Lord. When it, the sign of God’s presence, and all Israel, God’s host,
were in tents, and Joab and the king’s officers were lying on the bare ground, how
could he take his pleasure in his house? By thy life and by the life of thy soul is
not a tautology, but a strengthening of the oath by repetition of the thought, the
expression combining the general and the special. [See the text examined in
“Text. and Gram.” The phrase “Israel and Judah” probably indicates an authorship
for our Book after the division of the kingdom; yet not certainly, since there was
foundation for the distinction of the two parts in the fact that Judah alone at first
adhered to David. See Erdmann’s Introduction, § 6.—Tr.]
2 Samuel 11:12 sqq. This attempt failing, David tries to gain his end by keeping
Uriah a day longer. He invited him to his table, and made him drunk, in order thus
more certainly to secure his passing the following night with his wife. That night,
however, Uriah again slept at the palace-door. A factual irony! David sees his plan
wholly frustrated, and is now driven by his sin-entangled, sin-darkened heart to
add murder to adultery. [A chronological difficulty is made here unnecessarily by
some critics: it is said that the invitation of 2 Samuel 11:13 was given on the
“morrow,” and this last word is joined to 2 Samuel 11:13 so as to read: “Uriah
abode in Jerusalem that day. And on the morrow David called him,” etc. In that
case Uriah did not depart on the morrow, as David promised ( 2 Samuel 11:12),
since he slept in Jerusalem that night ( 2 Samuel 11:13), but the day after the
morrow ( 2 Samuel 11:14). The difficulty is removed by supposing (as is quite
possible) the invitation of 2 Samuel 11:13 to have been given on the “that day” of
2 Samuel 11:12; then the “morrow” of 2 Samuel 11:12 will be identical with the
“morning” of 2 Samuel 11:14. The “calling” in 2 Samuel 11:13 does not
necessarily require a more definite statement of time than is suggested in 2
Samuel 11:12.—Tr.]
2 Samuel 11:14-27. The letter concerning Uriah. Uriah’s death. Bathsheba
David’s wife.
2 Samuel 11:14 sqq. Uriah himself must bear the letter that decrees his death. A
new artifice of David’s that makes murder its minister. Uriah was to be placed in
the hottest, most dangerous part of the battle, where a retreat would not be
strange, and Hebrews, David well knew, as a brave soldier (one of the Gibborim
or Heroes) would not so easily retreat. No reason is assigned [in the letter] for this
command, which Joab could not misunderstand. He had simply to carry out the
royal instructions, and so he did ( 2 Samuel 11:16 sqq.). And it came to pass
when Joab watched the city (such is the literal rendering of the Heb. ‫)שדֵא‬.
ְּ “We
must understand by this a procedure different from the usual siege, a nearer
approach, which challenged the warriors in the city to a sally” (Bunsen) [comp.
Judges 1:24, where the participle of the same Hebrew verb is rendered “spies” in
Eng. A. V, properly “the observing (i. e., besieging) force.”—Tr.]. Joab knew the
place where the enemy’s best warriors would fight in the sally. There he put Uriah,
whose bravery he knew, without needing to say to the soldiers: “leave him in the
lurch” (Michaelis, Bunsen), since he could foresee that this would happen from
the dangerousness of the post. In becoming the instrument of David’s murderous
artifice, Joab needed not to know the ground of the order. As obedient servant of
the king he carried it out the more unhesitatingly, inasmuch as it was an order of
the commander of the army in relation to a soldier, who might have committed
some grave offence against him, and whose seemingly accidental death might be
desired by him for special reasons.
[Bible Commentary here remarks that “this reference to Judges 9:53 indicates the
existence in David’s time of the national annals of that period in an accessible
form, and the king’s habit of reading or having read to him the history of his
country.” But Joab’s reference to Abimelech shows merely that the facts were
known (possibly by tradition), not certainly that national annals existed (though it
is not improbable that there were written accounts of such events). It is hardly
probable that our Book of Judges existed at this time.—Tr.]—Say, Thy servant
Uriah the Hittite is dead also.—This the messenger was in any case to say last,
as an appendix to his report, “as if Uriah, of his own accord, or even against
Joab’s will, had pressed forward with his men, and so was chargeable with his
own death and that of the others that had fallen” (Keil). Joab is evidently
concerned to conceal the wicked deed from the messenger, and at the same time
to let David know that it is accomplished.
2 Samuel 11:22 sq. David’s reception of the messenger.—The message is
delivered exactly in accordance with Joab’s instructions[FN16].Text Between 2
Samuel 11:22-23 the Sept. has an insertion [Sept. reads: and David’s anger was
kindled against Joab, and he said to the messenger, Why did ye approach to the
city, etc., inserting nearly through 2 Samuel 11:21.—Tr.] This Thenius adopts on
the ground that neither David’s presumed displeasure, nor any expression of it on
the report of the messenger is mentioned. But this is unnecessary. Either the
“kindling” of David’s anger, supposed possible by Joab, did not take place—or, if it
did, there was no need to relate it at length; it was taken for granted, and the
narration gives only the words of the messenger in reply to David’s comment on
the rash affair, in order to explain and justify it. [The text here is discussed in “Text.
and Gramm.” and the present Heb. reading defended—Tr.]
2 Samuel 11:23.[FN17] The enemy supposed that with their superiority of numbers
here they could make a successful sally. This sally led to a hot fight, wherein the
Israelites pressed near to the wall within shot of the archers, and thus many were
killed. The messenger therefore reports a sally of the besieged, which occasioned
this dangerous approach to the wall.[FN18]
2 Samuel 11:25. David’s answer Isaiah, as it were, an extenuation of the matter,
and of such nature that the messenger cannot suppose a reference to any thing
more than this bloody military affair. Let not this thing be evil in thy eyes; so
and so devours the sword.[FN19]—David’s words seemingly express the quiet
and equanimity of a commander who does not permit himself to be disturbed by
such bad news. Thus he conceals his excitement over the success of his plot. He
orders the siege of Rabbah to be pressed and the city to be destroyed. The
messenger is dismissed with this answer to Joab, with the further instruction:
strengthen him, encourage him. Neither the isolated position of these words, nor
David’s encouraging the field-commander by a messenger, makes this
expression a strange one (Thenius); for we need not suppose the “messenger” so
far below “his general” in rank as to make such an exhortation in the king’s
message necessarily unbecoming. The “messenger” was certainly not a common
soldier, but doubtless a high officer who, as his words show, had knowledge of the
whole conduct of the war before Rabbah. The Sept, Syriac and Arabic translate:
get possession of it, namely, the city, comp. 1 Kings 16:22. These words would
then form the conclusion of the message. [Comp. also Jeremiah 20:7. But this
sense of the verb cannot be established from the biblical usage. It means to press
on one ( Jeremiah 20:7), to prevail against (of persons, 1 Kings 16:22), but
apparently not to conquer a city. Another objection to this rendering is that it would
introduce an anti-climax: “destroy it and prevail against it.” On the other hand, the
signification encourage is well established, Deuteronomy 1:38; Isaiah 41:7.—Tr.]
2 Samuel 11:26-27. Bathsheba David’s wife. The usual mourning lasted seven
days (comp. 1 Samuel 31:13). Bathsheba was probably taken to wife by David
immediately after the expiration of this time of mourning. If the mourning-time of
widows was no longer than the ordinary mourning, then the interval between the
adultery and the marriage was doubtless short enough to allow Bathsheba’s child
(begotten in that adultery) to appear to be begotten in wedlock. The concluding
words of the narration: But the thing that David had done displeased the
Lord[FN20] contain the moral decision from the theocratical point of view, and are,
as it were, the superscription to the following history of the divine judgments that
fell on David and his house on account of this sin.
[For mention of other times of mourning, see Genesis 50:10; Deuteronomy 34:8; 1
Samuel 31:13; 2 Samuel 14:2. In particular cases special feeling would lead to an
extension of the ordinary mourning-period.—Tr.]
1. The history of David’s fall from the height of his communion with God as “a man
after God’s own heart” into the deepest depth of sin and crime contains a serious
and warning lesson concerning the power of sin even over those who are under
the guidance of God’s will and word, when they give place in a single point of their
inner life to the yet unoccupied sinful lust therein hidden, and fail in faithfulness in
the struggle against their own evil hearts, and in self-denial. [It is obvious, and yet
often overlooked by assailants of the morality of the Old Testament, that the
history, in chronicling this sin of the “man after God’s own heart,” does not
endorse, but distinctly condemns it. It admits that such a man could commit such
a sin, and afterwards enjoy the favor of God; but only on the condition that the real
bent of his soul, turned aside for a while under temptation, was towards God and
2. The inscrutable development of many individual sins from one hidden root
proceeds according to an inner natural law: the human will, by detaching the heart
from the living God, surrenders itself to the power of sinful lust, and the latter
through the removal of the moral forces that had hitherto held it down and
controlled the outer and inner life, gets unrestrained dominion. When the life is at
the highest point of communion with the living God, pride slips in and leads to an
all the deeper fall. The enjoyment of experiences of divine favor and of the fruits of
struggle for the kingdom of God, leaves the door of the heart open to fleshly
security. Temporary rest from work and fight, though not in itself insidious, leads
to moral indolence, to spiritual sloth, to carelessness and unfaithfulness in office
and calling. Wicked lust, excited from without at a hidden point of the inner life, no
longer finds limitations in thoughts on the solemn divine command and prohibition:
Thou shalt and thou shalt not, in the warning and exhorting voice of conscience, in
the restraints and hindrances of divine providence, in faithful performance of duty
and labor in one’s calling, whereby the kindled fire might again be smothered. The
“evil conscience” that follows the satisfaction of evil lust leads on the beaten,
slippery and precipitous path to lying and deception, in order to conceal the sin
from men. From the soil of the heart poisoned by one sin, from perversion from
God of feeling and will in one hidden point of the heart, comes one sin after
another; and not only does the fruitfulness and frightfulness of sinful lust show
itself in its production of an unbroken series of wicked thoughts and desires, but
“the curse of the evil deed” is made complete in that “it must continue to produce
3. It is a sign of the irresistible power of conscience, and an involuntary
self-condemnation, when a man seeks in every way to conceal his sin from men,
but to extenuate and justify it before God; and on the other hand unwillingness to
make confession has its deepest ground in the pride of the human heart, which
increases in proportion as the man becomes involved in sin, and the evil in him
develops itself from the slightest beginnings into a power that exercises dominion
over the whole inner life. “Whosoever commits sin, he is the servant of sin” [ John
8:14, comp. Romans 6.—Tr.]
[Hall: With what unwillingness, with what fear, do I still look upon the miscarriage
of the man after God’s own heart! O holy prophet, who can promise himself
always to stand, when he sees thee fallen, and maimed with the fall! Let profane
eyes behold thee contentedly, as a pattern, as an excuse for sinning; I shall never
look upon thee but through tears, as a woful spectacle of human infirmity.—Tr.]
2 Samuel 11:1. Schlier: If God has granted us some special good fortune we will
never be puffed up, but will rather become little and lowly, and the higher we rise
the more will we humble ourselves. An humble man always finds grace and
blessing, but pride always goes before a fall.
2 Samuel 11:2. Disselhoff: Idle hours bring forth idle thoughts, and idle thoughts
are nothing but dry kindling wood, that waits only for a spark to be suddenly
ablaze.—All have had the painful experience that our sins often have their roots in
indolence and unfaithfulness in our calling. As long as we walk and work in our
office, we are encompassed with a wall. As soon as we fall out of our office, we
fall away from our fortunes and become a prey to the enemy.—[Hall: There can
be no safety to that soul, where the senses are let loose. He can never keep his
covenant with God, that makes not a covenant with his eyes. It is an idle
presumption to think the outward man may be free, while the inward is
safe.—Taylor: Here, then, in the moral weakness which constant prosperity had
created, in the opportunity which idleness afforded to temptation, and in the
blunted sensibility which polygamy had superinduced, we see how David was so
easily overcome.—Chrysostom: Youth is sometimes wiser and better than age.
David the youth smote down the barbarian, and showed all philosophy (wisdom
and piety), and when he grew older, then he sinned.—Tr.]
2 Samuel 11:2-4. Schlier: Let us watch and pray; we may well need it. What shall
become of us if a feeling of security arises in us? How shall we get through with a
pure body and heart if we are filled with self-conceit? Let us also carefully avoid
idleness; labor is a medicine against sin.—J. Lange: One sin brings forth another,
and one act of unfaithfulness to conscience draws another after it. James
1:15.—Starke: Loneliness affords the most convenient time for the temptations of
Satan ( Matthew 4:1 sq.).—S. Schmid: The quieter and securer men are in things
bodily, the more perilous is it for them in things spiritual.—Disselhoff: If the not
fully slain ungodly impulses in the man after God’s own heart grew up so quickly
and to such strength when he deviated a finger’s breadth from the way of the
Lord—and the Lord allowed him to go—how will it be with the untamed lusts in our
hearts? If such a story does not give one a view of the unfathomable depths of sin
and of its power, he will never learn what sin is.—Starke: Rulers sin in leading
their subjects into sin, for they are not lords over God’s command ( Acts 5:29;
Matthew 22:21).—[Hall: Had Bathsheba been mindful of her matrimonial fidelity,
perhaps David had been soon checked in his inordinate desire; her facility
furthers the sin. It is no excuse to say, I was tempted, though by the great, though
by the holy and learned. Let the mover be never so glorious, if he stir us to evil, he
must be entertained with defiance.—Tr.]—Schlier: Human customs are carefully
observed, and God’s command is trodden under foot. People attend to outward
forms and usages, and live on consoled thereby in their sins.—[Henry: The
aggravations of David’s sin. (1) His age, at least fifty years. (2) He had many
wives and concubines—this is insisted on, 2 Samuel 12:8. (3) Uriah was one of
his “worthies,” a man of honor and virtue, now jeoparding life in his service. (4)
David was a king, whom God had intrusted with the sword of justice, and he made
himself a pattern, when he should have been a terror, to evil-doers.—Tr.]
2 Samuel 11:6-9. Cramer: When sin has once lodged itself it becomes fruitful, and
bears other sins ( James 2:10).—[Hall: It is rare and hard to commit a single
sin.—Tr.]—Seb. Schmid: The most cunning devices are often, through the special
Providence of God, made a laughing-stock by the simplest simplicity.—Osiander:
Although the ungodly seek out all manner of cunning inventions to cloak their sins,
yet it does not succeed; for God knows how, in a wonderful manner, to bring even
secret sins to light ( Matthew 10:26).—Schlier: When we have sinned, how often
we trouble ourselves to hide our sins from the world, but how little do we think of
God’s eye and God’s judgment! How contented we are if only we stand free from
censure before men, and can throw the blame upon others!
2 Samuel 11:14 sqq. Osiander: So great is the devil’s cunning and wickedness
that when once he has brought a man to fall, he drives him on to more and greater
sins.—Disselhoff: As the poisonous seed, laid in the bosom of the earth, comes
up and brings fruit a hundredfold, as one root branches into a hundred new ones,
spreads with rapid growth through the whole field and sends up everywhere the
wild shoots, not otherwise is it with the sin which a man hides in his heart.
Inwardly it strikes its roots deeper, broader, mightier; outwardly it brings
superabundant fruit. It blinds the eyes, stops the ears, petrifies the feeling,
deadens the conscience. It bursts all tender bonds, it dulls and benumbs to all
else that one held dear and holy on earth. Holy fear vanishes, the reins are cast
off from the heart, and mean, hateful, foul traits of character, which one had
reckoned impossible, reveal themselves in mournful nakedness.—Schlier: Sin
takes a man captive, so that from one he hurls himself into another, so that sin
becomes wantonness and crime, yea, even abomination. He who consents to sin,
knows where the corruption begins, but who will undertake to say where it ends?
And what is most fearful is the blindness into which sin casts the Prayer of
Manasseh, so that his eyes are holden, that he no longer knows what he is doing,
no longer sees through the simplest things that were once known and familiar to
him, but with eyes open rushes into ruin.
[Taylor: It may be asked, how can you account for such enormous iniquity in such
a man as we have seen that David was?. … .There are some men in whom
everything is on a large scale. When their good nature is uppermost, they overtop
all others in holiness; but if, unhappily, they should be thrown off their guard, and
the old man should gain the mastery, some dreadful wickedness may be
expected. This is all the more likely to be the case if the quality of intensity be
added to their greatness; for a man with such a temperament is never anything by
half. … .A man of David’s nature ought to be more peculiarly on his guard than
other men: The express train, dashing along at furious speed, will do more
mischief if it runs off than the slow-going horse-car in the city streets. Every one
understands that; but every one demands, in consequence, that the driver of the
one shall be proportionately more watchful than that of the other. With such a
nature as David had, and knew that he had, he ought to have been supremely on
his guard, while again the privileges which he had received from God rendered it
both easy and practicable for him to be vigilant.—Kingsley: Such terrible crimes
are not committed by men in a right state of mind. Nemo repente fuit turpissimus.
He who commits adultery, treachery and murder, must have been long tampering,
at least in heart, with all these. Had not David been playing upon the edge of sin,
into sin he would not have fallen. He may have been quite unconscious of bad
habits of mind; but they must have been there, growing in secret. The tyrannous
self-will, which is too often developed by long success and command; the
unscrupulous craft, which is too often developed by long adversity, and the
necessity of sustaining one’s self in a difficult position,. … and that fearful moral
weakness which comes from long indulgence of the passions. … On David’s own
theory, that he was an utterly weak person without the help of God, the act is
perfectly like David. It is what David would natuturally do, when he had left hold of
God. Had he left hold of God in the wilderness, he would have become a mere
robber-chieftain. he does leave hold of God in his palace on Zion, and he
becomes a mere Eastern despot.—Tr.]
J. Disselhoff: The fall of the man after God’s own heart: 1) What brought the
beloved of God to so deep a fall? 2) He who once gives himself up to sin becomes
its slave, and is driven ever deeper and deeper by its might.
[Hall: O God, Thou hadst never suffered so dear a favorite of Thine to fall so
fearfully, if Thou hadst not meant to make him a universal example to mankind, of
not presuming, of not despairing. How can we presume of not sinning, or despair
for sinning, when we find so great a saint thus fallen, thus risen!—Tr.]
[ 2 Samuel 11:1. This entire campaign, with the siege of a capital and slaying of
thousands, interests us now only as the occasion of David’s series of great sins.
And in truth the striking excellencies or faults of one great and good Prayer of
Manasseh, when permanently recorded and widely read, become more important
to the welfare of the human race than the overthrow of cities or kingdoms.
2 Samuel 11:2 sqq. What a series! A lascivious look ( Matthew 5:28), actual
adultery, pitiful and then base attempts at concealment, and finally a treacherous
murder. How little David imagined, in the moment of lustful looking, that he was
taking the first step in such a course of frightful wickedness!
2 Samuel 11:14-15. Here is the darkest moment of this terrible story. Few scenes
in all the sad history of our race are so disgraceful to human nature and so utterly
disheartening to the beholder, as when David, the Psalmist and King, with such a
history, such experiences, such promises, sat writing this letter.
2 Samuel 11:16. It is often hard to find helpers to virtue, but always easy to find
helpers in vice and crime.
2 Samuel 11:17. Uriah the Hittite—immortal by his wrongs!
2 Samuel 11:25. Alas! often do men hide wicked designs, and satisfaction at
successful plotting, under the common-places of resignation to the inevitable, of
submission to the conditions of existence.
2 Samuel 11:27. So he seemed to have compassed his ends and effectually
concealed his crime by a still baser crime. But his conscience slept uneasily its
poisoned sleep, and Jehovah was displeased!—Tr.]
[ 2 Samuel 11:2-27. David’s frightful fall. 1) The inspired writings (unlike most
biographies) narrate without reserve the faults of good men2) This story serves as
an encouragement to sin, or as a solemn warning against sin, according to the
spirit of him that reads it. We should discipline ourselves to take a right and
wholesome view of other men’s faults3) One sin leads to another; and attempts at
concealment often involve one in greater difficulty, and tempt him to additional
wrong. When a good man has been betrayed into crime, let him humbly confess it,
and cut short the series4) If David fell, let him that thinketh he standeth take heed
lest he fall ( 1 Corinthians 10:12). Chrysostom: The narrow way has precipices on
both sides. Let us walk it awake and watchful. For we are not more exact than
David, who by a moment’s neglect was precipitated into the very gulf of sin.—Tr.]
FN#1 - 2 Samuel 11:1. So the Qeri (margin). Böttcher and Hitzig retain the Kethib
“messengers,” the former understanding it of ambassadors, the latter of watchers
to observe the new moon (comp. Jeremiah 31:6); but these views are not
probable; it is not likely that a time of the year would be defined by an act that was
performed twelve times a year, and it is unlikely that ambassadors were sent out
at a special time of the year. Though the Kethibh (‫ )דמרלכמ‬may be the harder, and
so far the preferable form, general considerations strongly favor the
Qeri.—Böttcher’s theory is that there existed two recensions of the history, one
made by priests (which he marks PR.), the other by laymen (LR), of which the
former is here followed by “Chronicles” (making Joab act independently, and
softening the “Ammonites” into the “land of Ammon”), and the latter by “Samuel”
(emphasizing the king’s activity, etc.). Rather we should say that the author of
“Samuel” selected his material from a prophetical point of view, the author of
“Chronicles” from a Levitical point of view.—Tr.]
FN#2 - 2 Samuel 11:4. Wellhausen rightly observes that the Athnach should be
under ‫ע ֵמי‬,
ֵ and the purification will then be subsequent and not previous (as in the
following “for” of Eng. A. V.) to the time of ‫בֶׁשֵ ְּייֶׁו‬.—Tr.]
FN#3 - 2 Samuel 11:6. After “Uriah” one MS. of De Rossi, Syr, Chald, insert “the
Hittite,” an instance of the tendency to assimilation.—The omission of the ‫מֹו רד ּוא‬
(“saying”) makes no difficulty here (so also in 2 Samuel 19:15); it is easily supplied
in thought, and is inserted by Sept, Vulg, Arab. (as in Eng. A. V.). Böttcher thinks
that the omission belongs to the curt priest-text, the insertion to the lay-text.—Tr.]
FN#4 - 2 Samuel 11:7. Some MSS. of Kennicott and De Rossi, and Syr, Arab,
Vulg, read “to David,” an illustration of the disposition of copyists and translators
to make the text clearer by stating the person or thing explicitly rather than trust to
the frequently indefinite Pronoun. In general, the preference is in such cases to be
given to the less explicit.—Tr.]
FN#5 - 2 Samuel 11:8. “Or, a portion, gift,” literally “something lifted up” (Sept.
ἄρσις). Vulg. and Chald. render food and meal, Syr. and Arab. gift. Some
anonymous Greek VSS. (in Montfaucon’s Hex.) have a strange rendering: ὀπίσω
ἀυτῶν παρεστηκότων τῶ βασιλεῖ “after those that stood by the king” (reading τῶν
for ἀυτῶν), as if Uriah were preceded by royal officers, from whom David may
have learned ( 2 Samuel 11:10) that Uriah did not go home. Schleusner suggests
that they read ‫( ְּד ֵי ֹואק‬minister) instead of ‫דֶׁ ְּירֹו ק‬.—Tr.]
FN#6 - 2 Samuel 11:9. The omission of the word “all” in Sept. and Arab. (Vulg.
has cum aliis servis) has simplicity in its favor; it would be natural to insert here a
descriptive word.—Tr.]
FN#7 - 2 Samuel 11:11. The Heb. text is here supported by all the versions except
Sept, which has: πῶς; ζὴ ἡ ψυχή σου, “how? as thy soul liveth,” that Isaiah, it read
‫“ יֹו כה‬how?” (see Daniel 10:17) instead of ‫ׁשֶׁ שַה‬. On account of the seeming tautology
of the Hebrews, Thenius and Böttcher adopt the reading of the Sept. (in which,
however, the how? is intolerable, while Wellhausen would read ‫“ כיבי ׁשכ‬by the life
of Jahveh,” or strike out the second clause: “by the life of thy soul.” But this double
asseveration may easily be understood as the repetition of an excited
FN#8 - 2 Samuel 11:15. ‫ ;יֵ וּו‬Sept. ἐισάγαγε “bring in” = ‫יֵ וֹו ר‬, but the Sing. here
does not agree with the following Plu. ‫( ֶׁי ְּו ַתמ‬so Wellhausen).—Tr.]
FN#9 - 2 Samuel 11:20. The Sept. repeats in 2 Samuel 11:22 the whole of the
speech (with one or two verbal alterations) that Joab puts into David’s mouth in 2
Samuel 11:20-21. On the other hand the Heb. text says nothing of David’s anger,
nor of any such speech, when the messenger reports to him ( 2 Samuel 11:23 sq.).
Böttcher, therefore, rejecting the “monstrous repetition” of the Sept, holds that the
speech in question belongs (with an introductory “and David was wroth with Joab”)
at the end of 2 Samuel 11:22, that it was afterwards inserted after 2 Samuel 11:19,
because it seemed necessary there, the Sept. translating from a text that
contained the repetition, while the masoretic text dropped the second speech as
cumbersome. So also (as to the form of the text) substantially Thenius, who omits
2 Samuel 11:21 as far as the second “wall.” The latter, however, thinks the
alleged omission in the Heb. (at the end of 2 Samuel 11:22) to have been
purposely made by the transcriber, in order to conceal his recognized error of
insertion in 2 Samuel 11:21-22 : Wellh, on the contrary, holds that the omission
was for brevity’s sake simply.—Joab’s speech, as it stands in the Hebrews,
certainly shows a very lively anticipation of David’s view of the case; but Böttcher
is wrong in saying that such anticipation is impossible, for Joab of course puts it
only as a supposition, and Abimelech’s case would naturally occur to him. There
is no need on this account merely to suppose that David actually got angry, or
cited Abimelech’s history; Joab’s lively anticipation does not logically involve
David’s conformity to it. But, if David did show anger, there is still no necessity for
supposing that he mentioned Abimelech, and his objection to approaching the
wall might easily have been taken for granted and omitted.—Then, it is after all
more probable that the Sept. should make so natural an insertion than that the
Heb. text should omit it. We, therefore, with Erdmann, retain the masoretic
FN#10 - 2 Samuel 11:21. Sept. Jerubbaal, the original form of the name; but
probably Jerubbesheth (so Böttcher) is the correct text-reading here, this form
having become common in the time of the author of our Book. The Sept-translator
went back to the original form. This does not offer support to Böttcher’s
hypothesis of the two recensions of our text (priestly and laic).—The Sept. also
calls Jerubbaal the son of Ner, which Thenius thinks is for Zer, the last syllable of
Abiezer (see Judges 6:11). It may, however, be worthy of notice that the Syriac
has “Abimelech the son of Nedubbeel” (for Nerubbeel), substituting the Syr. n of
the 3 sing-masc. Impf. for the Heb. Yod; and there may be some connection
between this and the Sept-form.—Tr.]
FN#11 - Some interpret: “when the summer set in.” Abarbanel: “when the sun
returned to the same point.” Perhaps the phrase is a general one: “when the year
had rolled round, and the time came for kings to go forth.”—Tr.]
FN#12 - It is not necessary to suppose that David’s siesta and evening-walk show
that he had become inert and luxurious. It was the habit of the times, and he
seems to have begun his walk with no evil design.—Tr.]
FN#13 - That Isaiah, the names are composed of am = people, and el = God.
Eliam = God of the people; Ammiel = people of God. For other views see the
lexicons of Gesenius and Fürst.—Tr.]
FN#14 - Comp. 1 Samuel 4:4. The ark was taken along as an encouraging sign of
the divine presence and favor—probably not to inquire of God (against Patrick
and Bible Comm.). Such inquiry was made through the high-priest’s ephod. In
Joshua 7:6 (the only case of inquiry at the ark mentioned) Joshua had a special
divine Revelation, as Moses used to have. On 1 Samuel 14:18 see the discussion
of the text in loco. On a rabbinical view that there were two arks, one containing
the ephod, see Philippson in loco.—Tr.]
FN#15 - There written Jerubbaal. On the change of name see on 2 Samuel 2:8; 2
Samuel 9:6—and on the Sept. reading see “Text. and Gramm.” on this
FN#16 - ‫ ֵימֶׁ ׁש‬with two Accus.; to send a person with a thing—commission him, 1
Kings 14:6; Isaiah 55:11.
FN#17 - Or = ὄτι, that, introducing substantive clause (as frequently in N. T.).
Thenius unnecessarily objects to this ‫ יֵ כ‬as “referring to nothing.”—Tr.]
FN#18 - The ‫ ר‬in ‫ ארּוכּו‬and ‫ [ דֵארכמ‬2 Samuel 11:24] is an Aramaic form.
FN#19 - The intrans. ‫ כ ֶֹׁואע‬with the sign of the Acc. ‫( רֹו ק‬as elsewhere the Pass. Verb
is found with the Acc.) according to the sense, the active meaning coming forward
against the intrans. and pass. Ew. § 277 d. [The ‫ רֹו ק‬here introduces the Acc. of
general limitation.—Tr.] The sense is: Look not evilly on this thing. Comp. 1
Samuel 20:13; Joshua 22:17; Nehemiah 9:32. On ‫ בְּוֵ זַי וֵ זּוי‬see Ew. § 105 b. The
first time o is put for e, a. slight phonetic change easily occurring in such
correlative phrases ( Judges 18:4; 1 Kings 14:5).
FN#20 [A. Clarke refers to the similar incident in Bellerophon’s life:
πόρεν δ ̓ ὅγε σήματα λυγρά,
Γράψας ἐν πίνακι πτυκτῷ θυμοφθόρα πολλά.
(Il. VI:168, 169).—Tr.]
12 Chapter 12
Verses 1-31
2. Nathan’s Exhortation to Repentance. David’s Repentance. Conquest of
Rabbah and Punishment of the Ammonites
2 Samuel 12:1-31
1And[FN1] the Lord [Jehovah] sent Nathan unto David. And he came unto him, and
said unto him, There were two men in one city, the one rich and the other2,
3poor.[FN2] The rich man had exceeding many flocks and herds. But [And] the
poor[FN3] man had nothing save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and
nourished up; and it grew up together with him and with his children; it did eat of
his own meat [food], and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was
unto him as a daughter 4 And there came a traveller unto the rich Prayer of
Manasseh, and he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd to dress for
the wayfaring man that was come unto him; but [and] took the poor man’s lamb,
and dressed it for the man that was come to him 5 And David’s anger was greatly
kindled against the Prayer of Manasseh, and he said unto Nathan, As the Lord
[Jehovah] liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die; 6And he shall
restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing and because he had no pity.
7And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. Thus saith the Lord [Jehovah] God
of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of
Saul; 8And I gave thee thy master’s house,[FN4] and thy master’s wives into thy
bosom, and gave thee the house 4 of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too
little, I would moreover [further] have given unto thee such and such things 9
Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the Lord [Jehovah], to do evil
in his[FN5] sight? thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his
wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon 10
Now,[FN6] therefore [And now] the sword shall never depart from thine house;
because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be
thy wife 11 Thus saith the Lord [Jehovah], Behold, I will raise up evil against thee
out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them
unto thy neighbor,[FN7] and he shall lie with thy wives in the light of this sun 12 For
thou didst it secretly;[FN8] but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun.
13And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord [Jehovah]. And
Nathan said unto David, The Lord [Jehovah] also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt
not die 14 Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the
enemies[FN9] of the Lord [Jehovah] to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto
thee shall surely die 15 And Nathan departed [went] unto his house
And the Lord [Jehovah] struck the child that Uriah’s wife bare unto David, 16and it
was very sick. David therefore [And David] besought God for the child; and David
fasted, and went in and lay all night upon the earth [ground]. 17And the elders of
his house arose and went to him, to raise him up from the earth18[ground]; but he
would not, neither did he eat bread with them. And it came to pass on the seventh
day, that the child died. And the servants of David feared to tell him that the child
was dead; for they said, Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spake unto him,
and he would not hearken unto our voice; how will he then vex himself, if we tell
him that the child is dead? [and how shall we say to him, The child is dead? he will
then act badly.] 19But when David [And David] saw that his servants whispered,
[ins. and] David perceived that the child was 20 dead; therefore [and] David said
unto his servants, Is the child dead? And they said, He is dead. Then [And] David
arose from the earth [ground], and washed and anointed himself, and changed his
apparel, and came into the house of the Lord [Jehovah] and worshipped; then he
[and] came to his own house, and when he required [and asked], [ins. and] they
set bread before him, and he did eat 21 Then said his servants [And his servants
said] unto him, What thing is this that thou hast done? thou didst fast and weep for
the child while it was alive; but22[and] when the child was dead, thou didst rise
and eat bread. And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept; for I
said, Who can tell whether God will be gracious to me, that the child may [shall]
live? 23But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I
shall go to him, but he shall not return to me 24 And David comforted Bathsheba
his wife, and went in unto her, and lay with her; and she bare a Song of Solomon,
and he called his name Solomon; and the Lord [Jehovah] loved him 25 And he
sent by the hand of Nathan the prophet; and he called his name Jedidiah,
because of the Lord [Jehovah].
26And Joab fought against Rabbah of the children of Ammon, and took the royal
city 27 And Joab sent messengers to David, and said, I have fought against
Rabbah, 28and have taken the city of waters. Now, therefore [And now] gather
the rest of the people together, and encamp against the city and take it, lest I take
the city, and it be called after my name 29 And David gathered all the people
together, and went to Rabbah, and fought against it and took it 30 And he took
their king’s crown from off his head, the weight whereof [and its weight] was a
talent of gold with the [and] precious stones; and it was set on David’s head 31
And he brought forth the spoil of the city in great abundance. And he brought forth
the people that were therein, and put[FN10] them under saws and under harrows
[threshing-sledges] of iron and under axes of iron, and made them pass through
the brick-kiln;[FN11] and thus he did unto all the cities of the children of Ammon. So
[And] David and all the people returned unto Jerusalem.
1. 2 Samuel 12:1-12. Nathan’s exhortation to repentance.
2 Samuel 12:1. And the Lordsent.—Nathan received his commission to David as
prophet; as the Septuagint, Syr, Arab. and some MSS, rightly indicate by the
addition of the explanatory phrase “the prophet” [after “Nathan”]. After the words
“said unto him” the Vulgate adds “give me your opinion” (responde mihi judicium),
a gloss, probably occasioned by the fact that Nathan’s discourse begins
immediately with a parallel.[FN12]—David is caught beforehand in the cleverly
spread net of the prophet’s parable.
2 Samuel 12:3. The poor man had “nothing at all” but one lamb, which he “kept
alive,” supported, reared. It was not a pet-lamb (Keil), since the man had
absolutely no other possession in cattle. As a poor man he had the means of
buying only one little lamb, which he was now raising, and which he loved the
more as it was his only property. [Bib-Com.: All these circumstances are
exquisitely contrived to heighten the pity and indignation of the hearer.—Tr.].
2 Samuel 12:4.[FN13] [The three designations “traveller,” “wayfarer,” “the man that
came to him,” are rhetorical variations and mean the same thing substantially,
though the last is obviously specially appropriate in its place. Some of the rabbis
and the fathers (quoted with apparent approval by Wordsworth) make the three
names set forth lust in its different stages of growth, as a passer-by, as a guest,
as a permanent inmate; of course this allegorizing is out of place here.—Tr.].
[The Chald. says fortyfold, either by clerical error, or in a mere spirit of
exaggeration. This variation may suggest the uncertainty of Böttcher’s view, that
the Heb. text here has the priestly recension (according to the law in Exodus) and
the Greek the laic recension. Nor is there any ground for the assertion of Thenius
(and Wellhausen) that David was certainly here not thinking of the law in Exodus,
and that the Greek text is the original. Though the Book of Exodus in its present
shape may not have existed in David’s time, there is no reason why this law
should not have been known.—Tr.].
2 Samuel 12:7. Thou art the man.—The farther David was from thinking of a
reference to himself, the greater the force with which this word must have struck
him. The account here given of the firmness and wisdom with which Nathan
approached the king is “inimitably admirable” (Ewald). The Sept. and Vulg. [not
the common Vulg. text,—Tr.], have: “thou art the man that has done this,” a mere
explanatory addition. Thus saith the Lord the God of Israel.—The following
words, as far as 2 Samuel 12:9, bring out most clearly the greatness of David’s
guilt in various points: 1) from the point of view of his royal office; his crime is most
sharply opposed to his divine induction thereinto; 2) his deliverance from Saul
was a gracious act of God, for which he has here shown himself in the highest
degree ungrateful; 3) David might unblamed have taken his predecessor’s wives
(Thenius); this is the only meaning to be attached to the words: “I gave thee thy
master’s house, and thy master’s wives into thy bosom.” [Bp. Patrick and others
give the later Jewish understanding of the law or custom: the king and no other
person fell heir to the property and harem of his predecessor, but it did not follow
that he actually married the inmates of the harem; they might be merely a part of
his establishment. If it was a son that succeeded his father, he treated these
women with reverence; if no blood-relationship existed between the two kings, the
successor might actually take the women as his wives (Philippson). As to the
morality of the Acts, it was a natural result of a polygamous system, and morally in
the same category with it; and polygamy was allowed by the Mosaic Law.—Tr.].
According to 1 Samuel 14:50 Saul had only one wife, and according to 2 Samuel
3:7 only one concubine who fell into Abner’s hands4) David, as king, had control
of all Israel ( 1 Samuel 8:16), and might have increased his establishment from
their daughters, without committing this crime. And I have given thee the house
of Israel; instead of “house” Syr. and Arab. read “daughters,” for which change,
according to the above explanation, there is no need5) David despised,
transgressed the “word,” that Isaiah, the law of God by slaying Uriah. The Heb.
text has: “in his eyes,” the margin: “in my eyes;” the difference is insignificant.[FN15]
This crime is heightened, however, by the fact that he committed the murder by
“the sword of the children of Ammon.” With this added statement and the use of
the stronger word “murder” [Eng. A. V. slain] instead of “slay,” the fact already
mentioned is repeated, in order that the culmination of the iniquity, the using the
enemies of God’s people as its instrument, may come forth more sharply.
2 Samuel 12:10-12. Threat of punishment, David’s misdeed being again
characterized as a factual contempt of the Lord. Instead of: “Thou hast despised
the word of the Lord,” it is here said: “Thou hast despised Me.” For in His word the
Lord Himself reveals Himself. For this reason, because David is guilty of
despising the Lord, 1) “the sword shall not depart from his house forever,” that
Isaiah, as long as the house or posterity of David shall last. From the seed of this
evil deed of David sprang the poisonous fruit of the evil deeds of his sons and the
consequent domestic and fraternal war. The bloody sword appears in the murder
of the incestuous Amnon by Absalom ( 2 Samuel 13:28-29), in the death of the
rebel Absalom (13, 14), and in the execution of Adonijah ( 1 Kings 2:24-25).
Thereby is Uriah’s murder punished; 2) David is threatened with disgrace through
the disgrace of his wives. To thy neighbor. … in the sight of the sun—before all
Israel. For the fulfilment by Absalom, see 2 Samuel 16:22, and comp. 1 Kings
2:23 sq, where Adonijah asks for Abishag the Shunammite. [On the text in 2
Samuel 12:9-10 see “Text, and Gram.”—Tr.]
2 Samuel 12:13-23. David’s penitent confession and punishment by the death of
the child of Bathsheba.
2 Samuel 12:13. I have sinned against the Lord.—This frank, short, honest
confession of sin was made not some time after this discourse of Nathan, but
immediately as its direct result. The power of the prophetic word laid hold of the
depths of his heart and conscience; the divine truth, which inexorably laid bare his
sin, put an end to all self-deception and all anxious effort to cover up and palliate
his transgression of the divine word. He confesses his sin as a sin against the
Lord, to show that he clearly recognizes it to be, what it essentially Isaiah, a
contradiction of God’s holy will. Nathan’s answer is the announcement of the
Lord’s grace1) in forgiving the sin: The Lord will cause [or, has caused—Tr.] thy
sin to pass over, that Isaiah, it is not to remain before him, but to vanish, be
forgiven; 2) in remitting the deserved punishment: Thou shalt not die!—As
adulterer and homicide David had deserved death; but this just punishment was
not executed, because he honestly repented and did not harden his heart against
the Lord. [Probably the civil law in such a case could not have been enforced
against an absolute king by human authority; but God could have found means to
execute it. Clearly it is physical death that is here meant, not the death of the soul
(against Wordsworth and Bib-Com.).—In the Mosaic code there is no provision
against such a marriage as that of David and Bathsheba; on general moral
grounds it would have been pronounced wrong. Yet there were also reasons why
the marriage should take place, and God Himself solves the ethical question by
the mouth of His prophet, not increasing the evil by sundering the marriage tie, but
so chastising the sinners that one of them at least must have remembered the
lesson to the end of his life.—According to the later Jewish law the marriage was
illegal; and some Jewish writers have tried hard to clear David of the charge of
adultery. See Patrick’s Comm, 2 Samuel 11:27; 2 Samuel 11:4.—Tr.].—This is
not inconsistent with the threat of punishment in 2 Samuel 12:14, the fulfilment of
which is specially founded on the provocation to blasphemy given to the heathen.
Only because thou hast made the enemies of the Lord to despise[FN16] (him).
The enemies of the people of Israel were also enemies of the Lord and of the king
of this people. Towards the heathen Israel’s duty was, by obedience to God’s
word and commands, to set forth the theocracy and bring it to honor and
recognition. Transgression of God’s command by the king himself must lead the
heathen to heap shame and reproach on Israel and its God; and there must
therefore be expiation by punishment. David and Bathsheba must lose their
adulterously begotten child, and this should be a sign to the Lord’s enemies of the
severe justice of the God of Israel. “The child also, etc.;” the statement is
introduced by the word also as in keeping with what precedes (‫םֶׁמ‬, not howbeit,
but also).
2 Samuel 12:15. The Lord smote the child.—The fulfilment followed
immediately on the prediction. The sickness is represented as a punishment
inflicted by God; therefore is added: which the wife of Uriah had borne to
David.—[It was, then, apparently not till after the birth of the child that Nathan
came to David; the latter had remained many months seemingly unconscious of
his sin.—Tr.].
2 Samuel 12:16. David acknowledges the punishing hand of the Lord. He goes
away to a retired spot, to collect himself and pour out his heart before God. The
phrase “went in” refers to his going not to the Sanctuary (to which he does not go
till 2 Samuel 12:20), but to a quiet room in his house, where he could be alone;
Vulg.: ingressus seorsum [“he went in apart”].
2 Samuel 12:17. The elders of his house are its oldest and most trusted
servants. Comp. Genesis 24:2; Genesis 50:7. So Clericus. Whether David’s
uncles and oldest brothers are thereby meant (Ewald) must remain undecided.
2 Samuel 12:18. The elders hesitate to tell David of the death of the child, lest he
be plunged into deeper grief, or do himself a harm. Vulg.: “how much more will he
afflict himself?” [David’s affection for this child is remarkable. He was a “great
lover of his children” (Patrick) and perhaps specially attached to this one by
reason of his love for its mother.—Tr.].
2 Samuel 12:19 sqq. David’s conduct is the opposite of what the servants
expected. The solution of their perplexity lay in the fact that David had hitherto
prayed for the child’s life, but now bowed humbly beneath God’s hand, and thus
gains strength joyfully to bear the burden laid on him. David’s two courses of
conduct in immediate juxtaposition have one common source within him; namely,
humble, unconditional devotion of heart to the will of the Lord. After “and he
asked” [ 2 Samuel 12:20] “bread” is omitted, because it is mentioned immediately
afterwards. The shorter phrase is obviously original; the addition of the Sept.:
“bread to eat,” is an interpretation.
2 Samuel 12:21. Render: “thou didst fast and weep for (‫ )וֹו עֶׁוּוא‬the child, while it
yet lived” [= for the child living—Tr.]; so Vulg, Cler, Ew. § 341 b [Sept, Eng. A. V.];
not “while the child lived” (Ges, De Wette, Maur, Keil [Chald, Syr, Luther]), since
as conjunction the word denotes only either the ground or the end.[FN17]
2 Samuel 12:22. See on 2 Samuel 12:19 sqq. David had continued to hope that
the Lord would hear his prayer[FN18] and spare the child.
2 Samuel 12:23. The continued existence of the child’s soul in Sheol is here
assumed, and the hope of reunion with it expressed. “Nothing is said, indeed, of
conscious existence, but this must have been supposed, in order to find
consolation and repose in going to the dead” (Böttch, de inferis, § 109 sq.).
2 Samuel 12:24-25. Birth of Solomon. David comforted Bathsheba, because he
himself had received comfort. The Sept. prefixes “she conceived” to our
appropriately curt text “she bare a son.” And he called his name Solomon.[FN19]
Solomon’s birth is mentioned here because of its factual connection with what
precedes. The name Solomon, like the similar names in Leviticus 24:11; Numbers
34:27; 1 Chronicles 26:25 sq, was “an old and common one … it is therefore
wholly without foundation to say that Solomon first received this name from the
‘peace’ of his time” (Ew, Gesch. [Hist. of Israel] III. p228, Rem1). It is probable,
indeed, that Solomon’s birth occurred just after the conquest of Rabbah related
below; for, as Bathsheba’s first son was conceived during the siege, this siege, if
Solomon was born before its termination, would have lasted about two years [Cler,
Thenius]. Nevertheless the name Solomon is to be explained not from the peace
gained by the Ammonite war, but (after 1 Chronicles 22:9) from the wish that
peace might be allotted him as a gift of God, in contrast with the continual wars of
his father’s life. And the Lord loved him.—Here instead of David, the Lord
appears as subject; and so in the verb “sent” [ 2 Samuel 12:25] the Lord is subject,
not David, since the latter had already given the name Solomon. Ewald renders:
“he (David) asked through Nathan from the oracle a loftier name for his new-born
son;” but this rests on the inappropriate conception of the words “Jehovah loved
him” as referring to the maintenance of this child’s life [in contrast with the dead
child—Tr.], apart from the fact that the subject “Jehovah” is again arbitrarily
changed. This last consideration is also against the rendering: “and he (David)
gave him into the hand of Nathan the prophet (to bring up),” where the Piel of the
verb would be required. The expression in the text (Qal with ‫[ ְּוכֶׁמ‬to send by the
hand of]) means to give a commission (comp. Exodus 4:13). Jehovah sent
Nathan to David with the commission to give the child the name Jedidiah. Nathan
is expressly called prophet, because he appeared in divine commission as such.
This was the factual opposite of the former message [ 2 Samuel 12:1], God’s
declaration that He had bestowed His grace and mercy on David and his child.
The subject of the verb “called” is Nathan. “On account of Jehovah,” that Isaiah,
because Jehovah loved him, as the name signified (= “beloved of Jehovah,” Germ.
Gottlieb.)[FN20] While Solomon was the name given him by his parents, by which
he was to be called, Jedidiah, as the high name given him by the prophet,
denoted the Lord’s love and faithfulness bestowed on him whose light was to
illumine his whole life. [Böttcher, Thenius and Wellhausen insist on rendering 2
Samuel 12:25 : “and he committed him to the care of Nathan,” etc., which agrees,
says Thenius, with the general opinion (of which, however, there is not a word in
the Bible) that Nathan was Solomon’s tutor. This is also the view of Victorinus
Strigelius quoted by Patrick, and is certainly more in keeping with the context than
the other. If the view of Eng. A. V. and Erdmann be correct we should expect
some additional explanatory phrase; unless the next sentence is such a
complementary phrase, in which case the subject of “called” must be the same as
that of “sent,” namely Jehovah. But, as Erdmann himself points out, the subject of
“called” is not Jehovah, but either Nathan or David. For this reason it seems better
to take David also as subject of “sent” or delivered.” David committed him (reading
the Piel) to Nathan, and Nathan gave him his higher name. Comp. similar second
names in the histories of Abraham and Sarah, Jacob and Simon Peter.—Then.
remarks of this whole narrative that its exact fidelity to nature and touching
simplicity, when we recollect that the scenes passed in the interior of the palace,
show that it must have been communicated by a contemporary.—Tr.]
2 Samuel 12:26-31. Conquest of Rabbah and cruel punishment of the Ammonites.
Comp. 1 Chronicles 20:1-3.
2 Samuel 12:26 sqq. The narrative returns to 2 Samuel 11:1. From the connection
the “city of the kingdom,”[FN21] the capital of the kingdom, is the whole city, not
merely the water-town ( 2 Samuel 12:27) “excluding the acropolis” (Keil). Joab, as
commanding general, conducting the siege, conquered the whole city; and this
result is here summarily stated in advance. [But this statement does not read like
an anticipative summary; the capture of 2 Samuel 12:29 seems to be different
from that of 2 Samuel 12:26.—Tr.].
2 Samuel 12:27 sq. Detailed account of the affair, especially how Joab, after
taking the water-city, summoned the king, who had remained in Jerusalem ( 2
Samuel 11:1), in order that the remaining higher part of the city might be taken
under his direction to the honor of the royal name. And so it happened, though it
was none the less true ( 2 Samuel 12:26) that Joab was the real conqueror. Vulg.:
“lest, the city being taken by me, the victory should be ascribed to my name.”
Luther: “that I may not have the name of it.”—To judge from the ruins of Ammon
(comp. Ritter XV, p1145 sq.) the capital-city of the Ammonites lay on both banks
of the Upper Jabbok, in a narrow valley, on the north side of which on an
eminence was the citadel (“the city” 2 Samuel 12:28) towering above the whole
lower city (“the water-city”). This citadel was not taken by Joab till David came, in
order that the completion of the conquest might appear as the deed of the king
himself. See Curt6, 6 (quoted by Grotius): “he (Craterus), after everything was
prepared, awaited the coming of the king (Alexander), yielding to him, as was
proper, the honor of the capture of the city.”—[Eng. A. V. has: “and it be called
after my name.” As there seems to be no example of a conquered city’s being
called after the name of the conqueror, it may be better to render (with Erdmann
and others): “and my name be called (or honored) upon (in respect to) it.”
However, the ordinary meaning of the phrase is as in Eng. A. V.—Joab’s conduct
here is either that of a devoted servant, wishing to give his master honor or shield
him from popular disfavor (on account of the affair of Bathsheba), or that of an
adroit courtier, who will not run the risk of exciting his king’s envy by too much
success (see 1 Samuel 18:6-8).—Tr.].
2 Samuel 12:29. All the people, the soldiers that had remained at home; the
besieging force had to be strengthened in order to conquer the strong Upper City.
2 Samuel 12:30. When the citadel was taken, the king of the Ammonites was
either killed or captured. David took the crown from his head, and set it on his own,
in order to represent himself as lord of the Ammonite kingdom. The kikkar [talent]
was3000 shekels (comp. Winer, s. v. Gewichte); the weight of the crown was83½
[Dresden] pounds [= about100 English pounds, for the silver talent, which was
probably the current unit of weight; the gold-talent weighed twice as much.—Tr.].
This heavy crown of gold and precious stones might have been worn during the
short time of coronation by a strong man like David. In many places now weights
scarcely less heavy are borne on the head even by women. We need not,
therefore, suppose that the weight is here accidentally exaggerated (Keil), nor that
the crown was supported on the throne above the head (Clericus). [Some would
understand that the value, and not the weight of the crown is here given; but the
text-word can mean nothing but “weight.” The Sept. has: “he took the crown of
Molchom their king from his head.” This reading Molkom or Milkom instead of
“their king” is adopted by Geiger (p306), who sees in our Hebrew text an
illustration of the tendency to get rid of the names of idol deities. As our text
stands the suffix “their” is strange, since the Ammonites are not mentioned
immediately before (Wellh.), and we might also expect here the mention of the
Ammonite king by name (Bib-Comm.). We may therefore render: “he took
Malcom’s (Moloch’s) crown from his head.”—Tr.].
2 Samuel 12:31. The cruel punishments inflicted by David on the Ammonites were
probably the same that they were accustomed to inflict on the Israelites or other
nations in war. For their cruelties see 1 Samuel 11:2 and Amos 1:8. As they did,
so it was done to them. Instead of “he put them under saws, etc.” we must read:
“he cut them with saws, etc.,” as in Chron. and the Targum (‫ יּוא‬instead of ‫;)יבמ‬
our present text can only be rendered: “he put them into saws,” etc., a phrase that
cannot be applied to the saw. Comp. Hebrews 11:37, and Sueton. Caligula 2
Sa27: “he cut them in two with the saw.” And with cutting instruments [Eng. A.
V. axes] of iron. Instead of this 1 Chronicles 20:3 has “saws” a second time, a
clerical error[FN22] for “axes” [Eng. A. V. corrects the error, and renders
“axes.”—Tr.].—In the next clause the Qeri, Sept. and Vulg. [and Eng. A. V.] read:
“made them pass through the brick-kiln,”[FN23] that Isaiah, burned them in
brick-kilns (Keil). But the text is to be retained with Kimchi, whose explanation is
essentially correct: “he passed them through Malchan, i.e., the place where the
Ammonites burned their sons to their idol.” Instead of malkan (from ‫ = דּומַ י‬Moloch)
we may with Bött. pronounce the word milkon=milkom.[FN24] Both denote the
image of Moloch (comp. 1 Kings 11:5; 1 Kings 11:33). In the burning image
human sacrifices were offered to Moloch, and “to cause to pass through (or,
through the fire) to Moloch” is the usual phrase for this idol-service [FN25] (see
Leviticus 18:21; 2 Kings 23:10; Jeremiah 32:35; Ezekiel 20:31). “The design was
to inflict a striking punishment on idolatry, and in so far the war was a holy one”
(Then.). The milder explanation of the punishment as consisting in the imposition
of severe labors, cutting wood, burning bricks, etc. (Danz and others) is
inconsistent with the words of the text. However, the text does not require us to
suppose that all the inhabitants of Rabbah were thus treated; it was probably only
the soldiers that were in the Upper City [“and so he did to all the cities of the
By this Ammonite war (probably the last that he waged) David had extended and
strengthened his kingdom toward the whole east. By all his wars (Chron8. sqq.)
the boundaries of his kingdom were so far extended that it was secure against
heathen nations. But this splendor of outward power and dominion stood in sharp
contrast with the inward disintegration of the royal house and of the whole people
through David’s sin.
1. David’s condition of soul in the time from his fall to his repentance may be
understood from the fact that it needed such a strong impulse as Nathan’s
discourse to bring him to repentance, while on the other hand the word of
confession followed immediately on the discourse. This latter indicates that his
conscience had accused him of sin; but frank confession had been somehow
hindered, till the hindrance was set aside by Nathan’s word. The confession was
preceded by a silence, which did not proceed from a contrite heart, but concealed
an unquiet conscience and distracted heart. Thenius rightly says: “ Psalm 32
describes what David felt before he was led to confession of sin by Nathan’s
address.” The expression ( 2 Samuel 12:3-4): “for I kept silence; my bones wasted
away in my crying all the day; for day and night thy hand was heavy upon me,”
sets forth how his silence was accompanied by consuming anguish of body and
soul, wherein he felt in his conscience the oppressive burden of God’s punitive
righteousness, without being thereby moved to confession of sin. “We see plainly
from Psalm 32what bitter inward struggles he endured before he yielded to the
divine chastisement and grew strong enough to confess his sins openly before
God” (Ewald). These inward conflicts were produced by two factors: (1) the
constant “weight of God’s hand on him”—the accusing, condemning voice of
conscience, the inward completion of the divine judgment; (2) his impenitent,
uncontrite heart (which was the cause of his silence), which wished to “maintain
its rights” by self-excuse and self-justification against the inevitable divine
judgment (comp. Psalm 51:6). This was “the guile in his spirit” ( 2 Samuel 12:2),
which was the ground of his silence (“for,” 2 Samuel 12:3). He was not upright in
heart ( 2 Samuel 12:11), so that he did not honestly confess his sins, but
concealed them (comp. 2 Samuel 12:5). Thus Psalm 32. fills out our picture of
David’s condition and conduct after his sin and after Nathan’s piercing punitory
discourse. Against the reference of this Psalm to the crime of David against
Bathsheba it has been alleged (De Wette, Stier, Clauss, Hitzig) that in it the
confession comes from inward pain of conscience, while in 2 Samuel12it is
occasioned by Nathan’s discourse. The two facts, however, are not mutually
exclusive, but mutually complementary. Nathan’s discourse is not the ground, but
the occasion of David’s confession. See Hengstenberg on Psalm 32for the
particular points in which the Psalm and the history correspond to one another.
2. The deceit of the impenitent heart consists in its seeking to excuse and justify
itself despite the condemnation of conscience, while it yet obtains no relief from
the feeling of guilt, rather brings about a sharper reaction of conscience, and
increases the pains that come from the conflict of mutually accusing and excusing
thoughts. Sin is not gotten rid of by failure to acknowledge it; it rests all the more
heavily on the conscience, and the closer the mouth that ought to confess is shut,
the clearer sounds out the accusing, judging voice of conscience. “The roots of
this deceit (which appears immediately after the Fall of man) are pride, lack of
trust in God, and love of sin. Many are thereby kept altogether from confession of
sin, in Pelagian self-blinding take delight in their wretchedness, and think
themselves most excellent. In others are seen the beginnings of true confession;
but they do not obtain the goal, because guile prevents them from acknowledging
the whole extent of their harm. And even they that have really come into a
gracious state, greatly embitter by guile the blessing of the forgiveness, that they
have attained through sincerity. What especially exposes them to this temptation
is their strict view of sin and of its condemnableness before God and the
consciousness of the grace received from God and of their situation. Nature
struggles vigorously against the deep humiliation which (especially for them)
recognition and confession of sin carries with it. It is therefore necessary that they
lay deeply to heart David’s word ( 2 Samuel 12:1-2), spoken out of painful
experience of the misery of guile: happy is he whose transgression is removed,
etc.” (Hengst.). But it is a quality of the deceit of the impenitent heart to apply
God’s word, the mirror of sin, to others rather than to itself, and thus to put away
self-examination and self-knowledge in its light.
3. The grace of God does not suffer man to go on unwarned in the path of sin, but
leads him to recognition and confession of sin, and to an humble bowing under
the mighty hand that must smite him for his sin. The divine grace herein employs
human instruments like Nathan; and the only effective means in this case of
bringing men to confession is the word of God, which1) shows them sin in its true
form, in unadorned full reality, in all its baseness and shockingness (comp. 2
Samuel 12:1-6); 2) points out the fulness of the divine benefits that should have
kept them from sin, in the presence of which sin appears as sheer ingratitude ( 2
Samuel 12:7-8); 3) presses home the demands of God’s holy will in His word and
law ( 2 Samuel 12:9); and4) exhibits the inevitable results of sin as the sign of the
divine retributive righteousness, under which man must bow.—When a man
quietly opens his heart, as David did, to this ministry of grace (that leads to
penitence), then appears its purposed working: 1) deep, penitent recognition of
sin, not merely as an offence against Prayer of Manasseh, but as enmity “against
the Lord Himself,” so that there is an end to the blindness about the nature of sin,
founded on self-love; 2) sincere, frank confession of sin as an offence against the
holy God, so that now ceases the inward conflict of opposing accusations and
excuses, of a condemning conscience and a pride founded on self-justifying
self-love. Open confession of sin was a legal part of the sin-offering, Leviticus 5:5;
Leviticus 16:21; Numbers 5:7.—“I have sinned against the Lord. The words are
very few, as with the publican in Luke 18:13. But just that is a good sign of a truly
broken heart; here is no excusing, no shrouding, no belittling of sin; no
hiding-place is sought; no pretext used, no human weakness pleaded” (Berl. Bib.);
3) personal experience of the comfort of the forgiveness of sin, granted to the
sinner of God’s free grace, he having done nothing to deserve it. “The Lord also
hath taken away thy sin” ( 2 Samuel 12:13). From this experience comes
confidence and certainty of the grace received; 4) humble, quiet submission to the
suffering inflicted by the Lord as the consequence of sin, which is to be for the
chastisement, purification and trying of the penitent and believing heart ( 2
Samuel 12:14-23), and5) renewed enjoyment of the friendliness and goodness of
the divine love ( 2 Samuel 12:24-25).
4. As Psalm 32exhibits the frame of mind out of which David came to sincere
penitence, so Psalm 51 (as the title indicates) is the echo of the personal
experience of God’s grace, which alone is the source of the forgiveness of sin and
blotting out of guilt ( 2 Samuel 12:3-4 [Eng. 2 Samuel 12:1-2]), under the condition
of penitent confession of personal transgression against the Lord deeply founded
in inborn sinfulness ( 2 Samuel 12:5-8 [ 2 Samuel 12:3-6]), and of humble
supplication for grace ( 2 Samuel 12:9-11 [ 2 Samuel 12:7-9]) and renewal ( 2
Samuel 12:12-14, 10–12]) out of a broken and contrite heart ( 2 Samuel 12:15-21
[ 2 Samuel 12:13-19]). On the correspondence of the chief features of this Psalm
with the history see Hengstenberg’s and Hupfeld’s commentaries thereon.—[If
Psalm 51was written or composed on this occasion, then the two last verses must
probably be regarded as a later addition (the sentiment is similar to that of Psalm
53:7 (6); Psalm 79:9, and other passages). For the rest, the spiritual teaching of
this Psalm and Psalm 32is entirely independent of their historical origin.—Tr.]
God does not leave men in their sins to go their own way unwarned and
unchastised, but sends His messengers after them to call them to
repentance.—The word of God that would call the sinner to repentance reminds
him on the one hand of the fulness of the divine manifestations of grace and the
manifold gifts of God’s goodness, in order to shame the sinner for his ingratitude
and disobedience; on the other hand it points him to the earnestness of God’s
holiness and righteousness in His commands. To this end it often clothes itself in
image and similitude, in order either to work in the man receptivity for the
indwelling power that awakens to repentance, if the man will give heed, or so far
as this is not the case, so much the more to harden the inner Prayer of Manasseh,
comp. Matthew 13:10-16.
The right sort of awakening preaching consists in immediate direct application of
the word of God to individual hearts, so that after holding up the mirror of God’s
law, it is always said: Thou art the man! Men are always, according to their natural
disposition, inclined to look not at their own sins, but at the sins of others, to judge
and pass sentence on them. Such looking away from one’s self to the sins in the
world around often finds its occasion and temptation in preaching upon the
universal sinfulness of mankind and in testimonies against the sins of the times or
of a whole people; if these testimonies are to be effectual for awakening in the
hearers a true repentance, they must have their point in the word: Thou art the
man!—As clearly as the sins of others, should we see and recognize our own sins;
as inexorably and strictly as we judge and pass sentence upon others, should we
enter into judgment with ourselves. But this is done only when we let the word:
“Thou art the Prayer of Manasseh,” press into our hearts.
The humble confession: “I have sinned against the Lord,” roots itself in the
penitent recognition of guilt, and has as a consequence the assurance of
forgiveness of all sins, not as something thereby deserved and won but as a gift of
the free grace of God, which grace immediately answers the honest and penitent
confession of guilt by acquitting of guilt; the sinner’s unreserved confession is
followed by unconditional divine absolution.
Rescue of the man fallen into sin. 1) The compassionate God stretches out to him
the receiving hand (Nathan’s mission and reproof). 2) The fallen one seizes this
hand, and by its help lifts himself up in humility of heart and honest confession of
guilt.—Repentance and grace: 1) How repentance is a work of grace, or how
grace leads to repentance, and2) How the experience of grace in the consolation
of forgiveness is conditioned on repentance, or how repentance leads to
grace.—The right sort of awakening preaching is that which1) In view of the
fulness of God’s goodness reveals the sinner’s ingratitude, 2) In view of the
earnestness of God’s commands reveals the sinner’s disobedience, and3) Puts
an end to all self-justification and excuses by the earnestness of the word: Thou
art the man!
True Repentance: 1) Wherein it consists. In penitent recognition and confession
of sin as of enmity against the holy God (“I have sinned against the Lord”). 2) How
it is attained. In the ways along which the sinner is led by seeking, pursuing and
preventing grace3) Whither it leads. To the consolation of the forgiveness of all
sins, to an humble yielding to the chastening hand of God under the sufferings
which necessarily follow from sin, and to new experiences of God’s love in the joy
which, after sufferings patiently borne, is granted by Him.—The painful
consequences of sin are for the penitent man a means of grace1) In order to
prove and try his faith and confidence in God’s fatherly love2) To chasten and
instruct in righteousness, according to the holy will of God3) To purge from still
clinging sinfulness4) To establish in a state of grace.
2 Samuel 12:1-4. Starke: God does not always keep silent to the sins of the
ungodly, but at the proper time sets them before their eyes, Psalm
50:21.—Disselhoff: That is always God’s way, first to speak to the sinner in
similitudes, in dark sayings, in works and deeds. Dumb preachers, and yet calling
so loud! For those similitudes in which the Lord speaks to us contain no
unintelligible speech, these trumpets give no uncertain sound.—Cramer: In the
office of reproof one must not be too mild, nor yet too sharp, but must so manage
that what is said shall be penetrating, shall smite the heart, shall stir and shame
the conscience.—[Hall: He that hates sin so much the more as the offender is
more dear to him, will let David feel the bruise of his fall. If God’s best children
have been sometimes suffered to sleep in a sin, at last He hath awakened them in
a fright.—Nathan the prophet is sent to the prophet David. Let no man think
himself too good to learn; teachers themselves may be taught that, in their own
particular, which, in a generality, they have often taught others: it is not only
ignorance that is to be removed, but misaffection.—There is no one thing wherein
is more use of Wisdom of Solomon, than the due contriving of a
2 Samuel 12:5. sq. Schlier: We see well the wrong that others do, even if it is only
a trifling mote, and how little we care for our own failings, how little we mark our
lapses even when it is great beams that we bear in ourselves.—[Hall: How severe
justicers we can be to our very own crimes in others.—Tr.]—Wilt thou Judges,
then judge thyself, and wilt thou be strict, then before all be strict against thyself,
and wilt thou be indulgent, then before all be indulgent towards others, but
towards thyself be strict and unindulgent.
2 Samuel 12:7 sqq. [Hall: The life of doctrine (teaching) is in the application. We
may take pleasure to hear men speak in the clouds—we never take profit till we
find a propriety in the exhortation or reproof. There was not more cunning in the
parable than cunning in the application: “Thou art the man.”—Tr.].—Disselhoff: He
who is used by God to call out to another, “Thou art the Prayer of Manasseh,”
often does not himself know that he has performed Nathan’s service. The Lord
sends His word like arrows; so many are struck, in the preaching of the divine
word, exactly as if the word had been aimed at their heart alone. It is aimed at
them too, only not by men, but by God Himself.—S. Schmid: Every sin is
despising God.—Cramer: Despising the divine word is the evil fountain of all sins
( Proverbs 29:18).—Starke: With whatever one sins, with that he is also
commonly punished.—Schlier: He who insults the word of the Lord, even this
word will crush him to atoms, and he who sins against the commandment of God,
even this commandment which he has despised will become to him a consuming
fire. He who practises injustice and violence shall in his time himself also
experience injustice and violence, and he who commits adultery will in his own
honor become conscious of God’s judgment.—Cramer: God punishes sin with sin,
not that He has pleasure in sin, or that He works it or works with it, but that as a
strict Judges, He pronounces sentence and inflicts and permits the evil.
2 Samuel 12:13 sq. Schlier: He who openly and unreservedly acknowledges
himself guilty has thereby inwardly cut himself loose from sin, and broken with it in
his heart.—Disselhoff: “I have sinned against the Lord.” There is in the Bible no
confession so unconditional, no expression of repentance so short, but also none
so thoroughly true. So long as sin reigns upon the earth, all penitent sinners will
with this confession cast themselves down before God, into this confession will
they pour out their hearts, this confession will become ever more openly, deeply,
truly and movingly their prayer, and they will know how to say nothing else. [Hall:
It was but a short word, but passionate; and such as came from the bottom of a
contrite heart. The greatest griefs are not most verbal. Saul confessed his sin
more largely, less effectually. God cares not for phrases, but for affections. David
had sworn, in a zeal of justice, that the rich oppressor, for but taking his poor
neighbor’s lamb, shall die the death; God, by Nathan, is more favorable to David
than to take him at his word, “Thou shalt not die.” Comp. Proverbs
28:13.—Tr.]—Cramer: God forgives the sin out of grace, and remits also the
eternal punishment; but He reserves the cross and the chastisement, not for
satisfaction, but in order to continual remembrance of sin and exercise in piety,
and as a terror to others.—Starke [from Hall]: So long as He smites us not as an
angry Judges, we may endure to smart from Him as a loving Father ( Hebrews
2 Samuel 12:15 sq. J. Lange: God visits the parents in the children, whether
graciously or in wrath.—Schlier: There is a distinction between punishment of sin
and the outward consequences of sin, which may follow even for him who has
forgiveness, only that all this is no longer a punishment of sin, but a gracious,
fatherly visitation of the faithful God, who chastens His people even when He
loves them, yea, even because of His love and compassion chastens them, that
they may not anew fall into sin.—Disselhoff: Grace is free, wholly unconditioned.
But yet he to whom grace is shown must remain under the chastening rod of the
almighty and holy God.—Schlier: How should severe sickness in the house be a
proof of divine favor? If God the Lord had let every thing at once go on for David
according to his desire and will, who knows how soon he would perhaps again
have felt secure and have forgotten the Lord who had forgiven his sins? but now
that the Lord chastens him, how he learns to pray and weep, how he humbles
himself, how he holds all the more faithfully to the Lord and to His word!
2 Samuel 12:17 sqq. Osiander: Even dear children of God are not always heard,
when they pray for temporal gifts and obtain, not what they desire, but what is
profitable for them ( 1 John 5:14).—[Hall: Till we know the determinations of the
Almighty, it is free for us to strive in our prayers, to strive with Him, not against
Him; when once we know them, it is our duty to sit down in a silent
contentation.—Tr.]—Disselhoff: This is the triumph of grace! It transforms the
inevitable consequences of sin and horrors of damnation into a purifying fire, hot
indeed, but rich in blessing, in which the objects of grace receive the image and
stamp of their Redeemer. [Scott: Those who are ignorant of the divine life cannot
comprehend the reasons of a believer’s conduct in his varied experiences; they
mistake deep humility and fervent prayer for an impatience and an inordinate love
to created objects; acquiescence in the Lord’s will, and cheerful gratitude under
sharp trials, will be deemed indifference and apathy, etc.
2 Samuel 12:23. Wesley (Sermon CXXXII.): Profuse sorrowing for the dead is
unprofitable and sinful; and the text affords a consideration which ought to prevent
this sorrow.—Tr.]
2 Samuel 12:24 sqq. Cramer: God’s promise is the cause of His love towards us,
not our merit and worthiness ( 1 John 4:10).—Schlier: When we have allowed the
Lord’s chastening to promote our welfare and peace, and are holding still before
the Lord, even if we see around us nothing but suffering and trouble, then the Lord
takes us up again and blesses us and gives us twofold for all the hardness we
have had to endure. The Lord blesses much more willingly than He chastens, His
fatherly hands had much rather open in beneficence than in affliction.
Disselhoff: The triumph of grace in all its glory. It unfolds itself in three steps: 1)
Not the fallen one looks up to God, but God’s preventing grace in every way lets
itself down to him, in order to awaken his conscience2) He who lets himself be
awakened and openly and unconditionally confesses, receives full and
unconditional pardon3) The pardoned man must remain under the sharp
chastening rod of the Compassionate One, in order that he may learn more and
more to know the depths of sin as well as of grace.
[Carlyle:[FN26] David, the Hebrew king, had fallen into sins enough; blackest crimes;
there was no want of sins. And thereupon unbelievers sneer and ask, “Is this your
man according to God’s heart?” The sneer, I must say, seems to me but a shallow
one. What are faults? what are the outward details of a life, if the inner secret of
it—the remorse, temptations, true, often-baffled, never-ending struggle of it—be
forgotten? The deadliest sin were the supercilious consciousness of no sin.
David’s life and history, as written for us in those Psalm of his, I consider to be the
truest emblem ever given of a man’s moral progress and warfare here below. All
earnest souls will ever discern in it the faithful struggle of an earnest human soul
toward what is good and best. Struggle often baffled—sore baffled—driven as into
entire wreck, yet a struggle never ended; ever with tears, repentance, true,
unconquerable purpose begun anew.—Tr.]
Chrysostom:[FN27] David the prophet, whose kingdom was in Palestine and
temporary, but whose words as a prophet are for the ends of the earth and
immortal, fell into adultery and murder—the prophet in adultery, the pearl in the
mire. But he did not yet know that he had sinned; so stupefied was he. God sends
to him Nathan; the prophet comes to the prophet—just as in the case of
physicians, when a physician is sick he needs another physician. Nathan does not
at the very door begin to rebuke and upbraid him—that would have made him
hardened and shameless. … And the king said, “I have sinned against the Lord.”
He did not say, Why, who art thou that reprovest me? and who sent thee to speak
boldly? and how hast thou dared to do this? … But precisely in this is that noble
man most admirable, that having fallen into the very depths of wickedness, he did
not despair nor fling himself prostrate so as to receive from the devil a mortal blow,
but quickly and with great vehemence gave a more mortal blow than he
received. … This history was written not that thou mightest gaze at one who fell,
but that thou mightest admire one who rose again; that thou mightest learn,
whenever thou hast fallen, how to rise again. For just as physicians select the
most grievous diseases and record them in the books, explaining the method of
healing them, in order that by exercise in the greater they may easily overcome
the lesser diseases, so also God has brought forward the greatest sins in order
that they also who commit little offences may through those great examples find
the task of correction to be easy.—Tr.]
[ 2 Samuel 12:1. David keeping silence. Comp. Psalm 32:3-4. See above, “Hist.
and Theol,” No1.
2 Samuel 12:5-6. Not only may a guilty man judge severely the crimes of others,
but his easy consciousness of guilt may even create an ill-humor that will dispose
him to all the greater severity.
2 Samuel 12:7. “Thou art the man.” One might picture an ungrateful Song of
Solomon, a spendthrift, a suicide, etc., and charge each, as to spiritual relations
and life, upon the hearer.—Tr.]
[ 2 Samuel 12:1-14. A pattern in reproving. It is always difficult to reprove with
good results, and here the difficulties were peculiarly great. An Oriental king—who
has committed a series of enormous crimes, has tried to cover them up, is now
moody and irritable. See now the course pursued by the prophet1) He
approaches the offender in private. 2) He uses an affecting parallel case to
awaken the sense of justice, without arousing suspicion of his design—thus
inducing the king to feel, and to express himself very strongly3) He suddenly and
emphatically applies the story, and pours upon the wrong-doer the recital of his
crimes4) He gladly welcomes confession and penitence, and at once turns from
rebuke to comfort.
2 Samuel 12:14. “Great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme.” 1)
Only the enemies of the Lord would blaspheme, upon whatsoever occasion2)
Though the faults of good men are not the cause of blasphemy, it is a great evil to
give occasion for it. (a) The enemies may thus partially delude themselves, (b)
They will be sure to mislead others3) Though there be occasion, yet the
comments of God’s enemies are blasphemous. E.g. (a) When they infer that God
does not hate sin. (b) That God’s service makes men no better than they would
otherwise be.—Tr.]
[ 2 Samuel 12:15-23. The death of David’s child. 1) The mortal illness of a babe,
always so distressing to parents, and in this case having peculiarly distressing
conditions2) David’s persevering prayer, notwithstanding the prophet’s
prediction3) His submission, as soon as he knew the child was dead4) His
confidence of being reunited with the child hereafter.—Tr.]
FN#1 - 2 Samuel 12:1. See Josephus’ dressing up of the narrative of this chapter
(Ant. 7, 73–5). His additions are probably in part his own invention, and in part (as
Böttcher remarks) taken from late glosses, from which also the Vulg. and Chald.
may have drawn. In a few cases glosses of this sort seem to have found their way
into our Heb. text.—Tr.]
FN#2 - 2 Samuel 12:1. ‫ארש‬, instead of the usual ‫אר‬, is found only in Sam. and
Prov.; the ‫ ר‬is always thrown out by the Masorites (Qeri) in the former book
(omitted from the text in twenty-two MSS. of Kennicott), never in the latter. It may
be only a scriptio plena, or it may be from a verb ‫ ארש‬collateral to ‫( אבש‬comp. ‫ארי‬,
“poverty,” Proverbs 6:11). In either case it seems to have been thought by the
Masorites unfit for a prose-text. The stem is not found in Aramaic.—Tr.]
FN#3 - 2 Samuel 12:3. Some MSS. here write ‫ארש‬, see above.—Instead of ‫יֵ ְּו ֵיק‬
we find in the Pentateuch ‫ י ְֶּׁו ֵיק‬and (by transposition) ‫( יֵ ְּיוֵ י‬as ‫ לשו‬for ‫;)ווש‬
Böttcher suggests that the slenderer vowel (i) gives here a diminutive sense, but
this is doubtful.—The Imperfects ‫ת ְּי ַתי‬,
ֵ ‫ מת ּור ֶׁל‬and ‫ ֵת ְּייֵו‬here express customary
action. Instead of ‫ יְּ וֶׁ ק‬some MSS. have ‫מוֶׁ ק‬.—Tr.]
FN#4 - 2 Samuel 12:8. Syr. ‫ורּוק‬,
ְּ doubtless a clerical error. The Arab. follows the
FN#5 - 2 Samuel 12:9. Some MSS. and the Vulg. read: “in my eyes,” which is
approved by Norzius and De Rossi. Another reading is: in the eyes of Jehovah
(some MSS, Syr, Arab.).—In the latter part of the verse the repetition of the
statement that David slew Uriah has given offence to some critics, who take it to
be meaningless; and Syr. omits the clause: “Uriah the Hittite thou hast slain with
the sword,” and transposes the two following. Böttcher therefore conjectures for
the first phrase ‫כק‬
ֵ ‫ור ַ ּואו ֵי ֵט‬,
ְּ “thou didst ambush Uriah,” to which Thenius objects
that the ‫ ׁשַ ַאו‬of the following verse requires the same word here in the text, and
that the two clauses are not identical in statement, but the second is descriptive
and explanatory. The Bib-Com. suggests that the last clause of this verse should
be appended to 2 Samuel 12:10, where it seems required, whereby the repetition
in 2 Samuel 12:9 would be avoided. On the other hand the absence of logical
symmetry favors the present Heb. reading (as making it harder), while there is yet
in it a certain rhetorical force; the speaker presses home in 2 Samuel 12:9 the
charge of murder, and in 2 Samuel 12:10 thinks it sufficient to state the one fact
(the marrying Bathsheba) that represents the whole crime.—Tr.]
FN#6 - 2 Samuel 12:10. Wellhausen regards 2 Samuel 12:10-12 as an
interpolation, because no reference is made to the punishments announced in
them, either in the “thou shalt not die” of 2 Samuel 12:13 or in 2 Samuel 12:14;
and it is true 2 Samuel 12:13 attaches itself easily to 2 Samuel 12:9. Gramberg
also (in Thenius) says that no pardon would really have been granted David, if
Nathan had spoken 2 Samuel 12:11-12. To this latter Thenius properly replies,
that pardon (being conditioned on a state of soul) does not necessarily involve a
setting aside of the natural effects of sin. So also as to Wellhausen’s criticism,
Nathan’s course of thought may be thus represented: he sets forth David’s sin ( 2
Samuel 12:9), denounces against his house the everlasting vengeance of the
sword ( 2 Samuel 12:10), and an open requital of his crime on him personally ( 2
Samuel 12:11-12); thereupon David confesses his sin, anticipating the worst
consequences for himself, and Nathan replies that (notwithstanding what had just
been said) death should not now be visited on him; yet that he might not be
without immediate punishment, his child should die. Thus the contrast between
the punishment of 2 Samuel 12:10-12 and that of 2 Samuel 12:13-14, will lie in the
immediateness or remoteness. For the rest, it is not necessary to suppose that
this scene occurred in a minute, even though we should not (with Ewald) assume
a considerable interval of time in the middle of 2 Samuel 12:13 (at the
FN#7 - 2 Samuel 12:11. The Yod in ‫ ֹואעַ כה‬is to be regarded as radical (though
some MSS. omit it) and the word as singular.—Tr.]
FN#8 - 2 Samuel 12:13. The masoretic note here is: “Pisqa (division) in the middle
of the verse.” This doubtless indicates that a pause was felt to be desirable
between David’s solemn confession of sin and Nathan’s announcement of pardon;
but whether it is also intended to indicate an interval of time must remain
FN#9 - 2 Samuel 12:14. So all versions and MSS. Geiger thinks that this is a case
similar to 1 Samuel 25:22, where the “enemies” is inserted to avoid an irreverent
or injurious expression. But in that passage (see the discussion there in “Text. and
Gram.”) the word “enemies” is obviously out of place, while here it suits very well;
and the possibility of the causative sense of the Piel must be omitted. Yet if the
Heb. text be retained, we must suppose some publicity given to David’s crime;
and the reading: “thou hast despised Jehovah,” would agree well with the
FN#10 - 2 Samuel 12:31. Chron. ( 2 Samuel 20:3) has ‫בכשא‬, “he sawed,” which is
adopted by Erdmann, Bib-Com., and most critics. The Heb. phrase here is
unusual and hard, and the reading of Chron. has against it only that the verb
sawed does not agree well with the instruments of threshing and cutting.
Therefore a general sense, cut, has been assigned to the verb, which, however, is
doubtful. It is held by some that our Heb. text means only that David put his
prisoners to work with saws, etc.; but the words will hardly bear this interpretation.
Chald. has “sawed” (‫)דםא‬, and so the Vulg. (probably a paraphrase).—Tr.]
FN#11 - 2 Samuel 12:31. Erdmann: “made them enter their Moloch,” retaining the
Kethib, as he explains in his exposition. Eng. A. V. adopts the Qeri, which seems
the better reading.—Tr.]
FN#12 - It is doubtful whether this phrase belongs to the Vulgate text. It is not
found in our present printed edition, nor in the Codex Amiatinus; and the
expression is not Hebrew but Latin (Wellhausen).—Josephus’ language “he
asked him to tell him what he thought” (Ant7, 7, 3) is a natural introduction in
Josephus’ expansive manner, and does not necessarily suggest a corresponding
phrase in his Greek text.—Tr.]
FN#13 - ‫מ ֵרכי‬,
ְּ anarthrous, defined by the Article with the following adjective. See
Ewald, § 293 a.
FN#14 - Especially as no murder is introduced into the parable. No doubt it was
part of Nathan’s plan, as Dr. Erdmann suggests, to conceal the immediate
reference from David. He therefore does not minutely imitate the circumstances of
David’s crime. and the interpretation of the parable must simply take the central
thought and apply it. Here was a man that wronged his neighbor by depriving him
of valuable property; the wrong is heightened by the fact that the aggressor has
much and the sufferer little. Such an aggressor was David. Farther than this it is
not proper to carry the interpretation of particulars. Abarbanel’s explanation (given
by Patrick) is too minute.—Tr.]
FN#15 - In Hahn’s ed. of the Heb. Bib. both text and margin have “his eyes” (with
a mere orthographic difference); but in some other edd. (see De Rossi) the Qeri or
margin is as Dr. Erdmann states.—Tr.]
FN#16 - ‫ רֵ רֹו ח‬Piel Inf. Abs.; the i for assonance with the following Perfect, Ew. §
240 c.
FN#17 - Sept, changing the accents, has: “what is this that thou hast done for the
child? while it yet lived thou didst fast, etc.,” and this is adopted by Thenius (after
Hitzig), and declared by Wellhausen to be the only possible construction of the
words. The latter, however, points out the two difficulties in this construction, that
we do not expect any qualifying phrase after “thou hast done,” and that the
curtness and isolation of the ‫ ׁשֶׁ כ‬is hard. He therefore reads ‫( ְּועֵא‬as in 2 Samuel
12:22) “while the child was yet alive” instead of ‫ועובא‬, for which, says Böttcher,
there is no need. The construction of Eng. A. V, though not without its difficulties,
may be retained, though Wellhausen’s suggestion commends itself as more
natural and grammatical.—Tr.]
FN#18 - Kethib ‫ כְּׁשֶׁ לֹורֵ כ‬Impf. Qal, Qeri ‫ בְּׁשֶׁ לֶׁרֵ כ‬Perf. with Waw consecutive.
FN#19 - , in Heb. Shelomoh. = “peaceful.” Other names from the same stem are
Shalmai ( Ezra 2:46. margin), Shelomi ( Numbers 34:27), Shelumiel ( Numbers
1:6), Shelemiah ( 1 Chronicles 26:14), Shelomith ( Leviticus 24:11; 2 Chronicles
11:20). Sept. and Vulg. write Salomon, and New Test. (Greek) Song of Solomon,
which our translators have adopted (Bib-Com.). The Arabic form is Suleiman, Syr.
Sheleimun. The final n comes from the attempt of the Sept. to give the name a
Greek appearance, or, it may really have taken this form in Egypt.—Tr.]
FN#20 - The first part of the name Jedidiah means the same as David. Comp.
FN#21 - There is a disposition to assimilate the two designations in 2 Samuel
12:26-27, city of the kingdom and city of water. In 2 Samuel 12:27 Syr, Arab,
Chald, and some Heb. MSS. read as in 2 Samuel 12:26, and Wellhausen
proposes to read 2 Samuel 12:26 as 2 Samuel 12:27. Certainly if Joab had
already captured the whole city, there would be no room for David’s capture ( 2
Samuel 12:29), and so Keil’s explanation must be adopted if we retain the Heb.
FN#22 - ‫ ְּדגֹואֵק‬for ‫דגְּ זֹואֵק‬.
FN#23 - ‫ ֶׁד ְּמוֹו מ‬instead of Kethib ‫דמלמ‬.
FN#24 - Böttcher: The Kethib needs no change, for ‫ ֵד ְּמוּומ‬is a Hebraized form of
ֵ the ending om being augmentative.
FN#25 - As Dr. Erdmann remarks, the standing formula is “to pass through to
Moloch,” and the Heb. text cannot be so rendered; it is “in” malkon. It is a further
objection to this view that the phrase was used distinctly of the worship of Moloch,
and would hardly be used of an act of punishment. But if the Qeri be adopted, the
phrase is still hard, because of the preposition: “he made them pass through in
the kiln,” the usual phrase omitting the preposition. No satisfactory translation of
the words has yet been offered.—Tr.]
FN#26 - “Hero-Worship.” Quoted more fully by Taylor.
FN#27 - Collected and abridged from a number of passing allusions.

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