2 Samuel 1
Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures




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 pass1 after the death of Saul, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Amalekites,2 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 from3 Saul with his clothes4 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. 3And David said unto him, From whence comest5 thou? And he said unto him, Out of [From] the camp of Israel am I escaped. And David said unto him, How went the6 matter? 4I pray thee, tell me. And he answered [said], That [om. that]7 the people are fled from the battle, and many of the people also8 are fallen and dead, and Saul and Jonathan his son are dead also.8 5And David said unto the young man that told him, How knowest thou that Saul and Jonathan his son be dead?9 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] 7horsemen10 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. 8And 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, upon11 me, and slay me, for anguish is come upon me [the cramp12 hath 10seized 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 [diadem13] that was upon his head and the bracelet that was on his arm, and have brought them hither unto my lord. 11Then 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 [Jehovah14] and for the house of Israel, because they were fallen by the sword. 13And David said unto the young man that told him, Whence art thou? And he answered [said], I am the son of a stranger,15 an Amalekite. 14And 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. 16And David said unto him, Thy blood16 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 son, 18(Also he bade them teach the children of Judah The use of the bow;17 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 beauty18 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,19

[For there was cast away the shield of the heroes],

The shield of Saul as though he had not been anointed [unanointed]20 with oil.

22From the blood of the slain,

From the fat21 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 pleasant22 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 over23 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].24

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 chaps. 30 and 31 of the First Book. The words: “and it came to pass after the death of Saul,” attach themselves immediately to 1 Sam. 31, 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, 26.—The grammatical apodosis begins with “and abode” (וַיֵּשֶׁב), 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 Gilboa.

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” (מֵעִם) = “from 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 Sam. 4:12. His “falling down” recognizes David as future king. See 14:4; 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. (אֲשֶׁר, Eng. A. V. “that”), here = our “namely;” comp. 4:10; 1 Sam. 15:20 (כִּי is 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, 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.”25 This is not in opposition with 1 Sam. 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 is, in the press of battle, and in the flight, which took the direction towards Mount Gilboa, see 1 Sam. 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 Sam. 31:4). We must rather suppose that Saul was leaning on his spear (which was fixed in the earth, 1 Sam. 26:7) in order to hold himself up, being perfectly exhausted. While he was standing there, “lo, the chariots (that is, the chariot-warriors) and the horsemen followed hard on him,” came so near that they must soon have reached him, see Judg. 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 Sam. 31:4 the pursuers were the archers. Cler. justly: “This seems to be the beginning of the young man’s falsehoods.”

2 Samuel 1:7. And he turned round, which could not be said of him, if he had been lying on the ground.26

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 Heb. 3 pers. 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 כִּי) gives 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.27—[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”28 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 Sam. 31:4 being mixed up with this account. The “fall” here means “defeat;” see Prov. 24:16.—He took from his head his golden diadem (not “crown,” נֵזֶר), the emblem of the royal dignity. The “bracelet or arm-band” was worn not only by women, but also by men, see Num. 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 Sam. 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 Sam. 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 Sam. 31., 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 Gen. 37:34, 35; 50:1; 2 Sam. 3:32, 34; Judg. 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 Sam. 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 Sam. 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 is, of an Amalekite who had settled in Israel29

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 Sam. 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 Sam. 31:4 where the armor-bearer “fears” to do such a thing. This question supposes that the young man, 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 blood30 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. Deut. 31:19; Ps. 60:1), probably that they might sing it in their military practice with the bow (Grot., Delitzsch in Herz. xii. 280). For קֶשֶׁת is 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 Chron. 8:40; 12:2; 2 Chron. 14:7; 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” (קֶשֶׁת). Then. and Ew. substitute adverbial accusatives, the former “heedfully” (קֶשֶׁב, Isa. 21:7), the latter “exactly” (קשֶׁט). 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 קשת) the substitution of the late Aramaic ת (in this word) for the Heb. ט. 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 Ps. 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 Sam. 1:19–27; 1 Sam. 2:1–10; Num. 21:27–30; Lam. 2.; Lam. 3; Gen. 49; Deut.32; perhaps Deut. 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, 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 Psalms—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. Josh. 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 of 1625 (an English translation of which was published in New York in 1840 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 in 1827 and in 1833)—see Art. “Book of Jasher” in Smith’s Bib. Dict., and Gill’s Commentary in loco and on Josh. 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 (הַצְּבִי) “Gazelle” (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 Mic. 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 Sam. 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 Sam. 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 Sam. 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).31 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.”32 Equally untenable is Böttcher’s conjecture (Aehrenlese, p. 24, and Neue Aehrenl, p. 139): “on the fields of Jarmuth,”33 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 (תְּרוּמות), 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 Sam. 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 (מָגֵן), in order to clean and polish it when it was stained with blood and defiled by dirt and rust (see the description in Isa. 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 Sam. 18:4; 20:20), to Saul the sword. They thus represent the weapon-power (“Wehr und Waffen34) of the whole people. The sword, and in a sort the arrow, drinks the blood and devours the flesh. This frequent poetical conception (2:26; Deut. 32:42; Isai. 1:20; 34:6; Jer. 2:30; 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 Sam. 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 Sam. 9:2 sq. and 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.35—On the one hand David here bears witness to the cordial love that Saul felt for his son, traces of which we find in 1 Sam. 19:6; 20:2, though according to 1 Sam. 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 (Isa. 40:31; Deut. 28:49; Jer. 4:13; Lam. 4:19; Hab. 1:8), for lion-like courage and strength (17:10; Judg. 14:18; Prov. 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 (שָׁנִי, Ex. 25:4; Judg. 5:30; Prov. 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 celebrated.—TR.]

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”36 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, 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. Isa. 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 is, has wonderful variety.—It is to be observed that the divine name does not occur in the song, 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, as the title seems to indicate, and is here chronicled by the historian as the speech of Jotham (Judg. 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., Ps. 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 (Prov. 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 (Ja. 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 Sam. 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-man, 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 man, 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 bonum.”—TR.]

[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 “accommodation.”—TR.]

[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 interest. 2) 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 do. 3) He calculates on the narrow selfishness of human nature—commonly a very safe basis of calculation. 4) 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 man. 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 worthy. 2) 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 friend. 3) 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, 25, 27).—TR.]


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 Sam. 31. So begins 2 Samuel 2 of 2 Sam. There is no trace here of a division of “Samuel” into two Books.—TR.]

2[2 Samuel 1:1. Some MSS. and EDD. read הָעֲמָלֵקִי, 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.]

3[2 Samuel 1:2. Thenius thinks that the Sept. reading: “from the people of (מֵעַם) Saul” 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.]

4[2 Samuel 1:2. בְּגָדָיו, the word for civilian dress, not military vestment (מַד) as in 1 Sam. 4:12; Judg. 3:16 (Bib. Com.). This would so far make against the supposition that he was a soldier.—TR.]

5[2 Samuel 1:3. The Impf. (תָּבוֹא) may represent the action as incomplete, = whence art thou now engaged in coming?—TR.]

6[2 Samuel 1:4. Sept.: What is this affair? that is, What is the matter? = מַה־זֶּה הַדָּבָר (Wellh.), which is not as good as the Heb. text. Syr.: “what is the affair?”—TR.]

7[2 Samuel 1:4. The אֲשֶׁר here = 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.]

8[2 Samuel 1:4. This “also … also” is not a very good rendering of the Heb. גַּם ... גַּם, 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,” etcTR.]

9[2 Samuel 1:5. Lit: that Saul is dead, and Jonathan his son? The Syr. has: “David said to the young man, 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 heroes—TR.]

102 Samuel 1:6. Lit: “possessors of horses,” where the last word פָרָשׁ is the charger or war-horse as distinguished from the ordinary horse (סוּם). The Chald. translates the first word (בַּעֲלֵי) “army,” 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 פָרָשִׁים of the text a correction בַּעֲלֵי קֶשֶׁת “possessors of bows,” of which the first word got into the text here, and the second (קֶשֶׁת) into 2 Samuel 1:18, to the vexation of interpreters. Our phrase, though it occurs here only, is perhaps possible, but the בעלי is probably an early insertion—TR.]

11[2 Samuel 1:9. עָמַר עַו. 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, Dan. 12:1, Michael stands by (on behalf of) the people, Esth. 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 Jer. 7:10; 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.]

12[2 Samuel 1:9. So Aq. (ὁ σφιγκτήρ) and probably Syr. (צוּרֹנֹא, 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.]

13[2 Samuel 1:10. So Sym. and Theod. Aquila has ἁφορισμα from the ground-meaning of the stem נזר, “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 אֶצְעָדָה.—TR.]

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.]

15[2 Samuel 1:13. Or: “an Amalekite stranger.” Aq. προσηλύτου, and so Gill.—TR.]

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 Lev. 17:4 for the latter sense in the Sing. The Sing. in the VSS. decides nothing for the Heb. text, because elsewhere (as Gen. 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, 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 כִּי, which is perhaps a copyist's imitation of later usage—TR.]

17[2 Samuel 1:18. So Targ., Rashi and Gill. The discussion in the Exposition—TR.]

18[2 Samuel 1:19. Some take the ה as 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 is, 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.]

19[2 Samuel 1:21. Erdmann and others render “defiled,” against which see Ges., Thes. s. v.TR.]

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. מָשׁוּחַ is written instead of מָשִיחַ, and this is the more usual form; but in this poetical passage the less usual form is not unnatural. Instead of בְּלִי‍, “not,” some MSS. have בְּלּי = “implement:” “the shield of Saul, armor anointed with oil,” an improbable and unsupported reading—TR.]

21[2 Samuel 1:22. The reading חֶרֶב, “sword,” found in some MSS., is perhaps a mere textual error (found in no VS.), or perhaps a correction for dignity—TR.]

22[2 Samuel 1:23. These Adjectives have the Art. in the Heb., 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.]

23[2 Samuel 1:24. עַל instead of אֶל in some MSS.; but the change is unnecessary since אֶל = “in respect to, for.”—In מַלְבִּשְׁכֶם some codices substitute the fem. suffix כֶן, 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.]

24[2 Samuel 1:25. Coislin.: εἰς θάνατον ἐτραυματίσθης, “thou wast wounded unto death,” a weak reading in comparison with the Heb. Text.—TR.]

25On the adverb use of the Inf. Abs. (הַרְבֵּה) see Ew., § 280 c.—On גַּם ... גַּם, see 1 Sam. 17:36 and Ew. § 359, 1.

26[The Heb. (וַיפֶן) means “turned his face, looked round,” which seems possible for a man lying on the ground, half-raised on a spear.—TR.]

27This insertion of עוֹד between בּל as nomen regens and the nomen rectum occurs in a few other cases, Job 27:3. See Ges., §114, 3 R. 1.

28On the irreg. form (נְפְלוֹ) see Ew., § 255 d.

29[For Jewish traditions and fables on this whole history see Patrick, Gill, Philippson.—TR.]

30Read the Plu. of דָּם as in the Kethib [Germ. has Qeri, wrongly], since this alone is used in the sense of “blood-gniltiness.” [This is incorrect; see “Text. and Gram.”—TR.]

31As שְׂדֵי is Sing. (the Plu. is שְׂדוֹת), all explanations based on the Plu. are wrong. תְּרוּמָה is used of the bringing of first-fruits, Num. 15:19 sq.; 2 Chron. 31:10 [but also of other offerings.—TR.]

32 יְעָרֵי וְחָרֵי מָוֶת [which is “unhebraic, and the first word ungrammatical” (Wellh.).—TR.].

33 וּשְׂדוֹת יַרְמוּת.

34[A phrase from Luther’s famous hymn (Eine feste burg)—“shield and weapon.” For a translation see Carlyle's Miscellanies.—TR.]

35[On the translation see “Text. and Gram.”—TR.]

36The form נִפְלְאַתָה as if from a verb ל׳׳ה [with אַ for אָ]. Ges., § 75, 21 a, Ew. § 194, b.


2 SAMUEL 2:1–3:6

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.1. 3And his2 men that were with him did David bring up, every man with his household; and they dwelt in the cities of Hebron. 4And 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 they3 that buried Saul. 5And 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 6kindness 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 will 7[om. will]4 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 2:8–3:6.

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]5 Gilead and over [for] the Ashurites and over [for] Jezreel, and over Ephraim and 10over Benjamin and over all Israel. Ishbosheth, Saul’s son, was forty years old when he began to reign over Israel, and reigned two years; but6 the house of Judah followed David.7 11And the time that David was king in Hebron over the house of Judah was seven years and six months. 12And Abner the son of Ner, and the servants of Ishbosheth the son of Saul went out from Mahanaim to Gibeon. 13And Joab the son of Zeruiah and the servants of David went out; and [ins. they] met together8 by the pool of Gibeon; and they sat down, the one [these] on the one 14side 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. 15Then there arose and went over by number twelve of Benjamin, which [who] pertained9 to Ishbosheth, the son of Saul, and twelve of the servants of David. 16And they caught every one his fellow by the head, and thrust10 his sword into his fellow’s side, so they fell [and fell] down dead together; wherefore [and] that place was called Helkath-hazzurim,11 which is in Gibeon. 17And there was a very sore battle that day, and Abner was beaten, and the men of Israel, before the servants of David.

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 20the left from following Abner. Then [And] Abner looked behind him and said, Art thou Asahel? And he answered [said], I am. 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. 22And 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 23my 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],12 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 Giah13 by the way of the wilderness of Gibeon. 25And the children of Benjamin gathered themselves together after Abner, and became one troop, and stood on the 26top 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] then14 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. 29And Abner and his men walked all that night through the plain, and passed over Jordan, and went through all 30[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. 31But [And] the servants of David had smitten of Benjamin and of Abner’s men, so that15 three hundred and three-score men died. 32And they took up Asahel and buried him in the sepulchre of his father which was in Bethlehem.16 And Joab and his men went all night, and they [om. they] came to Hebron at break of day.

2 SAMUEL 3:1Now [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. 2And unto David were sons born17 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 Hebron.

2 Samuel 2:1. The inquiry of the Lord was made through Urim and Thummim, comp. 1 Sam. 23:2, 10 sq.; 30:7, 8 sq. The high-priest Abiathar with the Ephod was with David, 1 Sam. 22:30; 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 Samuel 1. and 1 Sam. 31. 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 Sam. 22:5), he might count on a large following (1 Sam. 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 (Gen. 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 (Josh. 12:10; 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 (Gen. 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 Sam. 27:2). he led thither into the cities of Hebron, that is, the places that belonged to the district of Hebron;18 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 is, 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 Sam. 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 Sam. 10:1) and his subsequent public inauguration as king by the Elders, 1 Sam. 10:24; 11:15.—So two anointments of Solomon are described, 1 Chron. 23:1 sq.; 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., 2 Samuel 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 lament, 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.”19—On the burial by the faithful and grateful Jabeshites of the bodies of Saul and his sons brought away from Bethshean, see 1 Sam. 31:11 sq.

2 Samuel 2:5. The message to the Jabeshites was couched in the tone or royal authority. It conveys 1) 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 (חֶסֶר), 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 (אֱמֶת), 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 adds 2) encouragement and exhortation: let your hands be strong means not: be consoled! but: “be of strong courage.” And be sons of power [valiant], that is, 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 (חַיִל) is used of Ruth (Ruth 3:11) and of the “virtuous woman” in Prov. 31:10, and elsewhere of warlike valor and of wealth. Bib. Com.: the opposite of “men of virtue” are “men of Belial,” that is, men of no force of character.—TR.]—The ground (כִּי) of 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 Sam. 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. 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 2:8–3:6. Ishbosheth’s antigodly elevation to the throne of Israel by Abner and the thence resulting war.

2 Samuel 2:8. On Abner see 1 Sam. 14:50.—He had taken Ishbosheth the son of Saul, and brought him over to Mahanaim, that is, 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 Sam. 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 is, “two camps,” Gen. 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 (Josh. 13:26, 30) on the Jabbok [the present Wady Zerqa]. It was afterwards given to the Levites, Josh. 21:38. At a later period David found refuge there in his flight from Absalom, 17:24.—Ishbosheth according to 1 Chron. 8:33; 9:39, was Saul’s fourth son, while in 1 Sam. 14:49 only three are named, who also fell with him in the battle, 1 Sam. 31:2. But in Chronicles he is called Eshbaal, that is, “Fire of Baal” [or “man of Baal.”—TR.]. For the name of the god Baal in Hos. 9:10; Jer. 3:24, is put as equivalent bosheth [shame] in order to indicate the reproach and shame of idol-worship (comp. Isa. 42:17; 45:16). So for Gideon’s surname Jerubbaal (Judg. 6:32; 8:35) we find Jerubbesheth (2 Sam. 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 son, Ps. 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 (Josh. 22:9, 13, 15, 32; Judg. 5:17; 20:1) is put as equivalent to Gilead, was claimed for Ishbosheth. The change of prepositions, three times “to, for” (אֶל), and three times “over” (עַל), 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 Gen. 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 (Josh. 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 (Josh. 13:2), and are mentioned along with Girzites and Amalekites (1 Sam. 27:8); nor can it be the little kingdom of Geshur which belonged to Syria (15:8), and there formed an independent State (3:3; 13:37; 14:23). From this latter is to be distinguished (against Keil) a district of the same name which (Deut. 3:14 sq.; Josh. 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 Josh. 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 Josh. 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 Mac. 12:49; Jos., 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 עַל “over”), 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 is, 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 out 10 a as chronologically wrong, and 2 Samuel 2:11 as interrupting the narrative. It seems probable that 10 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 Sam. 13:1), and does not invalidate the clause. Exception is, 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 son, he must have been several years younger than Jonathan, who was the oldest son, 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 Sam. 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 Gram.”—TR.]

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 Chron. 2:16), had no doubt already, as his brother Abishai (who was with David during his persecution, as David’s family also, 1 Sam. 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 23:18, 24 (Vaihinger in Herzog VI. 712). As General-in-chief he appears in the official lists, 8:16; 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 Jer. 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. ed. 455 and ii. 256]) 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,” נְעָרִום, comp. 2 Samuel 2:21) put up on both sides. This word “play” (שִׁחֵק) is used of children in the street (Zech. 8:5), of beasts in the sea (Ps. 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 Sam. 17) 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 is, 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) (חֶלְקַת הַצֻּרִים). 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 צוּר, “knife, edge” (comp. Eng. knife), which is found also in Ps. 89:44, and is established from the ground-idea of the Arabic stem by Fleischer in Delitzsch’s Comm. on the Pss. in loco (2 vols., 1859–60). Thenius after the Sept. (τῶν ἐπιβούλων, “the plotters”) renders field of adversaries (drängerfeld, ח׳ הַצָּרִים); 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” (צָדִים) unwarrantably 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,” צִדִּים) give it as Erdmann. Chald. has “possession of the slain.”—TR.]

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 Sam. 26:6 with 2 Sam. 16:9; 18:2; 21:17; 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 Prov. 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,20 that is, 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 is, present myself with a good conscience before him. [Bp. Patrick not so well: “because Joab was a fierce man, 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 so, 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 Sam. 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. vi. 213; x. 153; xiii. 443; Herod. vii. 41.—[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. 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 Benjamin.

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 is, 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 כִּי = “surely” (imo), the mark of emphatic asseveration in an oath, Ew. § 330 b; comp. 1 Sam. 14:44; 20:3; Gen. 22:16 sq.; 1 Ki. 1:29 sq.; 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” (כִּי), strengthened by “then” (אָז) as elsewhere by “now” (עַתָּה), Num. 22:29; Gen. 43:10; 1 Sam. 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 is, returned (Niph. of עָלָה in 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. But 1) The “to-morrow” is not in the Hebrew, and 2) 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 (chap. 3) 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 is, 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 Ex. 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 Arabah21 (that is, 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 about 26 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 (chap. 2) 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.22 David grew stronger and stronger.23—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 Chr. 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 Sam. 14:49–51; 2 Sam. 5:13 sq.; 1 Ki. 3:1; 14:21; 15:2, 9. The same list of the sons born in Hebron, with the names of their mothers, is found in 1 Chr. 3:1–3. The two first are the sons of the two wives Ahinoam and Abigail (1 Sam. 25:42 sq.), whom he brought with him to Hebron. On Amnon see chap. 13. The Prep. “to” (so the Heb. לְ) in these cases, where a corresponding noun is to be supplied, expresses immediate belonging [property], as “a song of (לְ) 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 כלה אב = “exactly 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 Ki. 15:2 Abishalom), son of Maachah, daughter of king Talmai of Geshur. This was a small independent kingdom in Syria. See 15:8, comp. 2:9. Perhaps this marriage of David with a foreign un-Israelitish princess had a political ground. Comp. 1 Ki. 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 Chr. 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 Sam. 19:19; 22:5; 23:2, 4, 10, 16; 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. For 1) 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 go. 2) 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 Lord. 3) 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 (חֶסֶד) and Truth (אֱמֶת) are 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 He 1) chooses the people, 2) establishes the covenant with them, and 3) in this covenant-relation imparts favor and salvation; truth is God’s love unchangeable and continuing over against the people’s sin, love that 1) does not suffer the choice of free grace to fall, 2) maintains the covenant, and 3) fulfils uncurtailed the promises that correspond to the covenant-relation. Comp. Ex. 34:6; Ps. 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 value.

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 help. 2) 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 go. 3) In humble submission to be directed and guided by the Lord in the way appointed for him. 4) 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 Lord. 2) 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.” No. 3.

2 Samuel 2:1–13. See outline of a sermon in “Hist. and Theol.” No. 2.—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 command. 2) 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 wild. 2) 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 past.24

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, Ps. 107:7; so let us wait patiently for the right time, Heb. 2:3; Ps. 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, Ps. 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 Tim. 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, Judg. 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 man, 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.

2 Samuel 2:8, 9. CRAMER: The whole life of pious men is and remains a continual school of the cross. In them holds good the saying: Must not man be always in strife on earth? Job 7:1. [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, Exod. 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, Eccl. 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, Ps. 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, Prov. 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, Matt. 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 Sam. 30:31). Divine directions are seen to coincide with true human wisdom, wherever we sufficiently understand the facts. 2) 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.; 3:1), c) from the base cruelty of his trusted commander (3:27). Amid all these he grew in popularity and strength (3:1, 36). The lessons e learned were especially, to be prudent (2 Samuel 2:5 sqq.; 3:28), and to be patient (2 Samuel 2:11; 3:1). 3) His founding a family, (3:2–5). a) To have sons born to him is the joy of any man, 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 enemy. 3) He had decision and perseverance—turning not to the right or left, and yielding to persuasion. 4) 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.]


22 הָלַךְ with Vb. or Adj. (1 Sam. 2:26) indicating progressive increase. Ges. § 131, 3, Rem. 3.

23 חָזֵק is not=חָזָק “strong” (Böttcher on Ex. 19:19), but Partcp. or Verbal Adj.=“strengthening” (neuter), as נָּדֵל (1 Sam. 2:26).

24[This rhyming in propositions and division is a somewhat common practice in Germany.—TR.]

1[2 Samuel 2:2. On the fem. form (כרמלית) here given in some MSS. see notes on 1 Sam. 27:3; 30:5.—TR.]

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 וְעָלָה instead of הֶעֱלָה, which the Sept. then omitted as superfluous. The Heb. Hiphil is preferable because it introduces a new statement, while the Syr. merely repeats.—TR.

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.]

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 (עשׂה) uniformly. Against Thenius Wellhausen insists that the אֶעֱשֶׂה cannot be rendered as Pres. (this would require עשׂיתי), and, since the Fut. does not accord with the הַזּאת, he would for the latter substitute תַּחַת, 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.]

5[2 Samuel 2:9. The literal rendering of the Prep. (אֵל) is here (with Erdmann) in these three cases retained, in contrast with the following עַל, “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 כֻּלּה presents an example of a 3 pers. masc. suffix (הֹ) usually considered to be archaic for וֹ; the fem. pointing (כֻּלָּהּ) would be possible, if “Israel” were considered in its national unity, or as a land.—TR.]

6[2 Samuel 2:10. אַךְ “only, however,” but the rendering “only” would here be ambiguous.—TR.]

7[2 Samuel 2:10. 2 Samuel 2:10 and 11 are variously handled. Erdmann inclines to follow Thenius in regarding 10 b and 11 as parenthesis, Wellhausen regards 10 a and 11 as interpolations, connecting 10 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, or 10 a, 11. The objection to Thenius’ view (which connects 10 a with 12) is that 10 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 Sam. 13:1.—TR.]

8[2 Samuel 2:13. The use of the Acc. suffix and also the adv. יַחְדָּו is 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.]

9[2 Samuel 2:15. The ו is either appositional, = “namely,” or it indicates that Ishbosheth had other soldiers besides Benjaminites.—TR.]

10[Ver 16. Some insert (after Sept.) the word “hand” (יָדוֹ) after 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) איד instead of the Heb. יר, in order to account for its falling out after אִישׁ. 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.]

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 Erdmann.—TR.]

12[2 Samuel 2:23. חמֶשׁ. 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.]

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 גֵּי, “ravine,” for גּיח, 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 גֶּי and 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. For 1) 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 אֶחָת into אַמָּה or something else.—TR.]

14[2 Samuel 2:27. Literally: “at that time from the morning.” The second כִּי, 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.]

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.]

16[2 Samuel 2:32. Some MSS. insert בְּ before בית לחם.—TR.]

17[2 Sam3:2. Kethib is Pual, Qeri Niphal. For an example of the latter see 14:27. The text form may be Perf. Pual, וֶיֻלְּדוּ; but some prefer to regard it as Impf., וַיֻּלְּדוּ for וַיְיֻלְּדוּ as the Pual Partcp. occurs without the preformative מ.—TR.]

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 in 1862. 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” (Josh. 15:36; Num. 21:25). No doubt the name of the city Hebron attached itself to the surrounding district.—TR.]

19Sept. has אֲשֶׁר (= quod) after לֵאמרֹ, and the latter is omitted by Vulg.; Thenius hence supposes that לֵאמדֹ got into the text by mistake (through careless looking) for אֲשֶׁר, 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.]

20 חֲלִצָתוֹ, not exuviæ, “spoil” [so margin of Eng. A. V. and Bib.-Com.—TR.], from חָלַע, “to strip off,” since then the suffix would be meaningless, but Armor from חָלַץ, “to gird” (from חָלָץ, “loins”), Niph.: “to arm one's self for battle,” Num. 32:21, 27, 29 sq.; Josh. 6:7 sq.; Isa. 15:4; comp. with Jer. 48:41.—Sept.: πανοπλἰα αὐτοῦ.

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.]

Now it came to pass after the death of Saul, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Amalekites, and David had abode two days in Ziklag;
Lange, John Peter - Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical

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