2 Samuel 5:6
And the king and his men went to Jerusalem to the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land: which spoke to David, saying, Except you take away the blind and the lame, you shall not come in here: thinking, David cannot come in here.
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(6) Went to Jerusalem.—The king of Jerusalem had been defeated and slain by Joshua (Joshua 10:23-26; Joshua 12:10), and the city had been subsequently taken and destroyed by Judah (Judges 1:7-8). It was, however, only partially occupied by the tribes of Judah and Benjamin (Judges 1:21; Judges 15:63), and at a later time fell again entirely into the hands of the Jebusites (Judges 19:11-12). That Jebus and Jerusalem were two names of the same city is stated in 1Chronicles 11:4. This expedition must have taken place immediately after the coronation, since the length of reign over all Israel and of the reign in Jerusalem are said in 2Samuel 5:5 to be the same. David doubtless saw the importance of at once uniting the tribes in common action as well as the advantages of Jerusalem for his capital (Hebron being much too far southward), and the necessity of dislodging this remnant of the old Canaanites from their strong position in the centre of the land.

Except thou take away.—A better translation is, Thou shalt not come hither; but the blind and the lame shall keep thee off. The Jebusites, confident in the natural strength of their fortress, boast that even the lame and the blind could defend it. Their citadel was upon Mount Zion, the highest of the hills of Jerusalem, south-west of the temple hill of Moriah, and surrounded on three sides by deep valleys.

2 Samuel 5:6. The king and his men went to Jerusalem — His first warlike enterprise, after he was made king of all Israel, was against that part of Jerusalem which was still in the hands of the Jebusites, namely, the strong fort of Zion, which they held, although the Israelites dwelt in the other parts of the city. Which spake unto David — When he came with his army to attack the fortress; saying, Except thou take away the blind and the lame, thou shalt not come hither — In this translation the order in which the words stand in the Hebrew is not observed, nor are they exactly rendered. They are literally, The king and his men went to Jerusalem unto the Jebusite, inhabiting the land, and he (the Jebusite) spake to David, saying, Thou shalt not come hither except thou remove the blind and the lame; or, rather, as כי אם הסירךְ, chi im esihreka, may be properly rendered, For the blind and lame shall keep thee off, which is the sense given to the words in the English Bible of Coverdale, printed in 1535, where they are translated, Thou shalt not come hither, but the blind and the lame shall drive thee away. The Seventy render the passage, Ουκ εισελευση ωδε, οτι αντεστησαν οι τυφλοι, &c. Thou shalt not come hither, for the blind and the lame resist, or, have resisted, thee, saying, That David shall not come hither. They confided in the strength of their fortifications, which they thought so impregnable that the blind and the lame were sufficient to defend them against the most powerful assailant. And probably they appointed a number of blind and lame people, invalids, or maimed soldiers, to make their appearance on the wall, in contempt of David and his men. There is another interpretation of these words which Dr. Delaney and many others prefer, namely, that they imagined their fortress to be impregnable and secure under the protection of their gods, whom the Israelites were wont to despise, and to call them gods who had eyes, but saw not; feet, but walked not. As if they had said, Our gods, whom you call blind and lame, shall defend us, and you must overcome them before you overcome us. “These blind and lame,” says a learned writer, “were the idols of the Jebusites, which, to irritate David, they set upon their walls, as their patrons and defenders. And they as good as said, Thou dost not fight with us, but with our gods, who will easily repel thee.”5:6-10 The enemies of God's people are often very confident of their own strength, and most secure when their day to fall draws nigh. But the pride and insolence of the Jebusites animated David, and the Lord God of hosts was with him. Thus in the day of God's power, Satan's strong-hold, the human heart, is changed into a habitation of God through the Spirit, and into a throne on which the Son of David rules, and brings every thought into obedience to himself. May He thus come, and claim, and cleanse, each of our hearts; and, destroying every idol, may he reign there for ever!David immediately after being anointed king of Israel, probably wished to signalize his accession by an exploit which would be popular with all Israel, and especially with Saul's tribe, Benjamin. He discerned the importance of having Jerusalem for his capital both because it belonged as much to Benjamin as to Judah, and on account of its strong position.

Except thou take away the blind ... - Rather, "and (the Jebusite) spake to David, saying, Thou shalt not come hither, but the blind and the lame shall keep thee off," i. e. so far shalt thou be from taking the stronghold from us, that the lame and blind shall suffice to defend the place.

2Sa 5:6-12. He Takes Zion from the Jebusites.

6. the king and his men went to Jerusalem unto the Jebusites—The first expedition of David, as king of the whole country, was directed against this place, which had hitherto remained in the hands of the natives. It was strongly fortified and deemed so impregnable that the blind and lame were sent to man the battlements, in derisive mockery of the Hebrew king's attack, and to shout, "David cannot come in hither." To understand the full meaning and force of this insulting taunt, it is necessary to bear in mind the depth and steepness of the valley of Gihon, and the lofty walls of the ancient Canaanitish fortress.

Having the advantage of so great a confluence of his people to make him king, he thought fit to begin his reign with some eminent action, and to lead them forth in this expedition; wherein doubtless he asked advice from God, and the consent of the elders now present.

To Jerusalem; as the place which God had designed for his worship; and in the centre and heart of his kingdom, and therefore fittest for his royal city.

The Jebusites continued to dwell there in spite of the Benjamites, to whose lot it fell. See Joshua 15:63 Judges 1:21 19:10,11.

Except thou take away the blind and the lame, thou shalt not come in hither; or, Thou shalt not come in hither, but the blind and the lame shall remove or hinder thee. By the blind and the lame they understand, either,

1. Their own people; and so they imply that the place was so impregnable, that a few blind and lame men were able to defend it against all David’s assaults. And these may be called and were the hated of David’s soul, 2 Samuel 5:8, not because they were blind and lame, but because they were Jebusites, a people hated and accursed by God: and the Jebusites of this place were more hateful to him than the rest of that nation; partly, because they possessed this place, which David knew was designed for the one and only place of God’s solemn worship; and partly because they did so wickedly and insolently defy the armies of Israel, and consequently, the God of Israel. Or,

2. Their gods or images; which, after the manner of the heathens, they worshipped as their tutelary gods, and placed in their gates or walls. These they call blind and lame sarcastically, and with respect to David’s opinion; as if they said, These gods of ours, whom you Israelites reproach, as blind and lame, Psalm 115:5,6, and so unable to direct and protect us, they will defend us against you; and you will find they are neither blind nor lame, but have eyes to watch for us, and hands to fight against you; and you must conquer them before you can take our city. And these may well be called the hated of David’s soul. But I prefer the former sense, as being most easy, and natural, and proper; whereas the latter is metaphorical, and seems doubtful and forced.

David cannot come in hither; concluding their fort to be impregnable. And the king and his men went to Jerusalem,.... Which, at least part of it, belonged to the tribe of Benjamin; and therefore until all Israel, and that tribe, with the rest, made him king, he did not attempt the reduction of it, but now he immediately set out on an expedition against it:

unto the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land: who inhabited the country about it, and even dwelt in that itself; for the tribe of Judah could not drive them out at first from that part of it which belonged to them, nor the tribe of Benjamin from that part which was theirs; in short, they became so much masters of it, that it was called, even in later times, Jebus, and the city of the Jebusites; see Joshua 15:63 Judges 1:21,

which spake unto David; when he came up against them, and besieged them:

except thou take away the blind and lame, thou shalt not come in hither; which many understand of their idols and images, which had eyes, but saw not, and feet, but walked not, which therefore David and his men in derision called the blind and lame; these the Jebusites placed for the defence of their city, and put great confidence in them for the security of it, and therefore said to David, unless you can remove these, which you scornfully call the blind and the lame, you will never be able to take the place. And certain it is the Heathens had their tutelar gods for their cities as well as their houses, in which they greatly trusted for their safety; and therefore with the Romans, when they besieged a city, the first thing they attempted to do was by any means, as by songs particularly, to get the tutelar gods out of it (b); believing otherwise it would never be taken by them; or if it could, it was not lawful to make the gods captives (c): and to this sense most of the Jewish commentators agree, as Kimchi, Jarchi, Ben Gersom, and R. Isaiah, who take them to be images; some say, made of brass, which were placed either in the streets of the city, or on the towers: it was usual with all nations to place on their walls both their household and country gods, to defend them from the enemy (d). A learned countryman of ours (e) is of opinion that these were statues or images talismanically made, under a certain constellation, by some skilful in astrology, placed in the recess of the fort, and intrusted with the keeping of it, and in which the utmost confidence was put: but it seems better with Aben Ezra and Abarbinel, and so Josephus (f), to understand this of blind and lame men; and that the sense is, that the Jebusites had such an opinion of the strength of their city, that a few blind and lame men were sufficient to defend it against David and his army; and perhaps in contempt of him placed some invalids, blind and lame men, on the walls of it, and jeeringly told him, that unless he could remove them, he would never take the city:

thinking: or "saying" (g); this was the substance of what they said, or what they meant by it:

David cannot come in hither; it is impossible for him to enter it, he cannot and shall not do it, and very probably these words were put into the mouths of the blind and lame, and they said them frequently.

(b) Vid. Valtrinum de re militar. Rom. l. 5. c. 5. (c) Vid. Macrob. Saturnal. l. 3. c. 9. Alex. ab Alex. Genial. Dier. l. 6. c. 4. (d) Cornel. Nepot. Vit. Themistocl. l. 2. c. 7. (e) Gregory's Notes and Observations, &c. ch. 7. (f) Antiqu. l. 7. c. 3. sect. 1.((g) "dicendo", Pagninus, Montanus.

And the king and his men went to Jerusalem unto the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land: which spake unto David, saying, Except thou take away the {c} blind and the lame, thou shalt not come in hither: thinking, David cannot come in hither.

(c) The children of God called idols blind and lame guides: therefore the Jebusites meant that they should prove that their gods were neither blind nor lame.

Verse 6. - The king and his men went to Jerusalem. This expedition took place immediately after David's coronation, and probably he was moved to it by the presence of so large a number of the warriors of Israel. He had long foreseen the arrival of the time when he would be king of all the tribes, and must have debated in his mind the problem of his future capital. He could not remain in Hebron, as it was too far to the south, nor would haughty tribes such as Ephraim have consented to be merged into Judah. On the other hand, he could not move far away, as Judah was his main strength. But living in its neighbourhood, he must often have noticed the remarkable position of the city of Jebus, and admired its rock girt strength (Psalm 48:2). Though the Jebusites had been conquered by Joshua (Joshua 11:3), and Jerusalem captured (Judges 1:8), yet, as the children of Judah did not occupy it, but "set the city on fire," it seems to have been soon repeopled by its old inhabitants, who there maintained their independence, and, owing to the impregnable nature of its site, could not be treated as Saul treated the Gibeonite inhabitants of Beeroth. Even subsequently, the Jebusite chief who possessed what probably was Mount Moriah, still bore the titular rank of king; for the words in ch. 24:23 literally are, "All this did Araunah the king give unto the king." The explanation of this long independence of the Jebusites is to be found not only in the feebleness of the tribes during the troubled times of the judges, but even mere in the conformation of the site of their stronghold. Jerusalem is situated on the edge of the precipitous wall which forms the western boundary of the valley of the Jordan, and occupies a promontory, on three sides of which are ravines so abrupt and steep that, were it not for their vast depth, they might seem to have been the work of man. On the north side alone it is open to attack, but even there, when the besieger has obtained an entrance, he finds the city divided by another ravine into two parts; whereof the western portion contains the strong citadel of Mount Zion, while the eastern and smaller portion contains the less elevated mountain of Moriah. Though actually raised above the sea level several hundred feet less than Hebron, it seems to the eye more emphatically a mountain-city; and being well nigh encircled by the valleys of Ben-Hinnom and Jehoshaphat, it seems to sit enthroned above the Jordan valley, compared with which it enjoys a cool and refreshing climate. To its inhabitants it was "beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth" (Psalm 48:2, Revised Version); to the exiles it was "the city of God," to which their hearts ever turned; to us Christians it is the type of Christ's Church on earth, and of his kingdom in heaven. It was an act worthy of David's genius to foresee the great future of the place, and to inaugurate his kingdom by its capture. We gather from Ezekiel 16:45 that at the time when the Hittites were the dominant race in Syria, Jerusalem was one of their fortresses. The name is a dual, literally Yerushalaim, and probably the town was so called because it consisted of two parts - the upper and the lower city. Shalaim means the "two Salems," thus carrying our minds back to the city of Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18). In Psalm 76:2 Salem is apparently contrasted with Zion, and so would be the lower town, containing Mount Moriah. Of the other part of the word, Yeru, numerous derivations are given, of which the only probable one is that which connects it with "Yehovah-yireh" - "God will see to it," the name given to the spot where Abraham on this mountain offered a vicarious sacrifice for his son. We must, however, bear in mind that towns retain the names which they bore in primitive times, and that the name of a Hittite fortress belongs probably to the language of that people. Except thou take away the blind and the lame, thou shalt not come in hither. These words have been a sore puzzle to commentators, and many strange explanations have been given. Rashi says that the blind meant Isaac, and the lame Jacob, and that the words referred to an old compact by which Abraham gave Jerusalem to the Jebusites, and that Isaac and Jacob had confirmed this agreement. Unless, then, David was prepared to violate this covenant, he must abstain from the attack. We get no help from 1 Chronicles 11:5, as the words are there omitted, probably because they were not supposed to have any important meaning. The Orientals delighted in dark sayings, and possibly there was here some local reference which the people of Jerusalem would understand, but which is lost for us. But evidently it was a boastful defiance, and may mean that the Jebusites pretended that it would be enough to post only their feeblest men, the blind and the lame, for defense, and that David would try in vain to break through them. Thinking; Hebrew, to say; answering to our phrase "that is" It should be translated, "meaning." David then commanded his servant to slay the murderers, and also to make the punishment more severe than usual. "They cut off their hands and feet," - the hands with which they had committed the murder, and the feet which had run for the reward, - "and hanged the bodies by the pool at Hebron" for a spectacle and warning, that others might be deterred from committing similar crimes (cf. Deuteronomy 21:22; J. H. Michaelis). In illustration of the fact itself, we may compare the similar course pursued by Alexander towards the murderer of king Darius, as described in Justin's history (2 Samuel 12:6) and Curtius (2 Samuel 7:5). They buried Ishbosheth's head in Abner's grave at Hebron. Thus David acted with strict justice in this case also, not only to prove to the people that he had neither commanded nor approved of the murder, but from heartfelt abhorrence of such crimes, and to keep his conscience void of offence towards God and towards man.
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