2 Samuel
New American Bible Revised Edition

* [1:21] Surging from the deeps: this conjectural reading of the Hebrew yields a parallelism with dew and rain: the mountains where the warriors have fallen in battle are to be desiccated, deprived of water from above (rain, dew) and below (the primordial deeps).

* [1:22] Unstained: lit., “empty.” The sword was conceived as a devouring mouth; see, e.g., 2:26.

* [2:8] Ishbaal: here and elsewhere in the Hebrew text, his name appears as “Ishbosheth”; the second part of Ishbaal, -baal, refers to the Canaanite god Baal, and is therefore suppressed, replaced by bosheth, “shame.”

* [2:14] Perform: lit., “play.”

* [2:16] The nature of this gruesome game is not clear, and the place name is variously given in the older texts.

* [3:7] Asserting a right to the late king’s harem was tantamount to claiming his kingship; cf. 16:21–22; 1 Kgs 2:21–22.

* [3:29] An assortment of imprecations, consisting of physical ailments, weakness, violent death, and poverty.

* [4:4] Meribbaal: Hebrew has mephiboseth; see note on 2:8. His name, in fact, is Meribbaal; cf. 1 Chr 8:34; 9:40. He is the subject of chap. 9 below. The text of this verse may owe its present place to the fact that ancient copies of the Books of Samuel tended to confuse his name with that of his uncle Ishbaal, Saul’s son and successor, a principal figure in chaps. 2–4.

* [5:6–12] David’s most important military exploit, the taking of Jerusalem, is here presented before his battles with the Philistines, vv. 17–25, which took place earlier. The sense of vv. 6 and 8 is in doubt. Perhaps the Jebusites boasted that Jerusalem was impregnable, using a metaphorical or proverbial expression that claimed the city was defensible even by people not suited for military action. The saying then received a different sense (v. 8), to the effect that “the blind and the lame” were David’s enemies. Mt 21:14 and Lk 14:13 seem to play off, and transform, this saying.

* [5:12] David now knew: Hiram’s carpenters and masons built David a house of cedar, the very model of a Canaanite king’s palace. This house then represented the consolidation of David’s royal power, in the Canaanite mode, with Jerusalem as David’s personal fiefdom and capital city.

* [5:17] Refuge: probably near Adullam (1 Sm 22:1–5).

* [5:18–25] The successive defeats of the Philistines in the valley of Rephaim southwest of Jerusalem had the effect of blocking their access to the mountain ridge near Gibeon, and confining them to their holdings on the coast and in the foothills beyond Gezer to the west and south.

* [5:20] Baal-perazim: here the title ba‘al, “master, lord,” refers to the Lord; perazim is the plural of perez, which means “breaking” or “bursting,” as in 6:8.

* [5:24] Sound of marching: the wind in the treetops suggestive of the footsteps of the Lord and the heavenly host.

* [6:8] Perez-uzzah: this Hebrew phrase means “the breaking out against Uzzah”; see note on 5:20.

* [6:14] Girt with a linen ephod: the ephod was some sort of priestly vestment (probably like an apron); cf. Ex 28:4; Jgs 17:5; 1 Sm 2:18, 28; 14:3; 22:18; 23:6. The cultic procession that accompanies the ark to the holy mountain, Zion, is led by King David, dancing ecstatically and wearing a priestly vestment.

* [6:20–23] Michal’s reaction to David’s dancing comes from her conception of how a king should comport himself. David rejects this understanding, saying he needs no instruction from the house of the failed king, Saul.

* [7:8–16] The message Nathan delivers to David, called the Dynastic Oracle, is prompted by David’s intention to build a house (i.e., a temple) for the Lord, like David’s own house (i.e., palace) of cedar. David is told, in effect, not to bother building a house for the Lord; rather, the Lord will make a house for him—a dynasty, the House of David. Not only will he have descendants (v. 12) who will sit upon the throne of Israel (v. 13), their rule will last forever (vv. 13, 16); and even if they transgress the Lord’s commands, the line of David will never be removed from kingship as Saul was (cf. 1 Sm 13; 15). The oracle establishes the Davidic king as standing in relationship to the Lord as a son to a father (v. 14; cf. Ps 2:7; 89:27). The Dynastic Oracle, with cognate texts in the Scriptures, is the basis for Jewish expectations of an anointed king (1 Sm 12:3, 5), son of David (Mt 21:9); cf. Acts 2:30; Heb 1:5.

* [7:13] He it is: Solomon, in the event.

* [7:16] The unconditional promise made here, and reflected in Ps 89:34–35, stands in contrast to the tradition in Ps 132:12, where the continuation of the line of David depends on their fidelity to the Lord; cf. also 1 Kgs 2:4; 6:12; 8:25.

* [7:20] Know: give recognition, choose, single out: cf. Gn 18:19; Ex 33:12; Am 3:2.

* [8:1] David took…: the original Hebrew seems irretrievable. The transmitted text gives “the bridle of the cubit”; 1 Chr 18:1 understood “Gath and its towns”; others implausibly read “dominion of the capital city.”

* [8:2] Two lengths…a full length for life: usually taken to mean that two-thirds of them were executed; but it could mean that two-thirds were spared, if the line was used full length in their case but doubled on itself to make “two lines” for those to be put to death. Note the contrasting good relations in 1 Sm 22:3–4.

* [8:13] On his return: possibly to Jerusalem, after the revolt of Absalom (chaps. 15–18), which this catalogue of victories would avoid mentioning. 1 Chr 18:12 attributes the defeat of the Edomites to Abishai, while the superscription of Ps 60 attributes it to Joab.

* [8:17] Zadok…Ahimelech, son of Abiathar, were priests: the names of Abiathar and Ahimelech are frequently associated with David (1 Sm 22:20; 23:6; 30:7; 2 Sm 15:24, 29, 35; 17:15; 19:12; 20:25), but they show Abiathar acting as priest, not Ahimelech: Abiathar shared the priestly office with Zadok in David’s reign and even during Solomon’s early years (1 Kgs 2:26; 4:4). Ahimelech was the name of Abiathar’s father. This verse and 1 Chr 18:16 may indicate that Abiathar had a son named Ahimelech who also acted as a priest, like his father and his namesake grandfather, in the last years of David.

* [10:1] After this: early in the reign of David, since Hanun’s father Nahash (1 Chr 19:1) had been ruling in Ammon at the beginning of Saul’s reign (1 Sm 11) and Solomon was not yet born (2 Sm 11:1; 12:24).

* [10:6–9] A Hebrew text from Qumran (4QSama) comes closer in these verses to what is given in 1 Chr 19:6–9. The scene of the conflict is more likely the Ammonite capital, Rabbath-Ammon (v. 8; cf. Josephus Ant., vii, 123), than Medeba (1 Chr 19:7).

* [11:1] At the turn of the year: in the spring.

* [11:22–24] In these verses the Greek text has David, angry with Joab, repeat exactly the questions Joab had foreseen in vv. 20–21. In v. 24 of our oldest Greek text, the messenger specifies that about eighteen men were killed. The Greek is considerably longer than the transmitted Hebrew text, suggesting that the Hebrew may have lost some sentences.

* [12:1–7] David has committed adultery with Bathsheba and arranged the death of her husband. Instead of directly indicting the king for this criminal abuse of his royal authority, the prophet Nathan tells David a story. In the story, a parable of David’s own actions, a powerful man takes cruel advantage of his vulnerable neighbor. Hearing the story, David is outraged and denounces the rich man—thus unwittingly pronouncing judgment on himself (“You are that man,” v. 7).

* [12:6] Fourfold restitution: David’s judgment foreshadows the deaths of four of his own sons: the child born of his adulterous union with Bathsheba (v. 18); Amnon (13:28–29); Absalom (18:15; 19:1); and Adonijah (1 Kgs 2:24–25).

* [12:11] In broad daylight: lit., “before the eyes of the sun”; the phrase echoes “before your very eyes” and anticipates “in the presence of the sun itself” (v. 12). The reference is to Absalom’s action in appropriating his father’s harem (16:22).

* [12:25] Jedidiah: the name means “beloved of Yhwh.”

* [12:30] A talent: since this would normally be more than seventy-five pounds, the report may have been embellished.

* [13:3] Clever: lit., “wise.” Jonadab’s “wisdom” extends only to sly cleverness in getting things done; he devises the plan that will enable Amnon to pursue his infatuation. In the categories of the Old Testament wisdom tradition, Jonadab is a fool.

* [13:13] A fool in Israel: a play on nebala (v. 12), “terrible crime,” lit., “folly.”

* [14:7] Hope: lit., “glowing coal.” The image is similar to that of a lighted lamp, e.g., Ps 132:17, or small hearth fire, to keep alive the ancestral name.

* [14:14] Not to banish: a possible allusion to the religious institution of cities of refuge for involuntary murderers; see Nm 35:9–15.

* [14:17] Rest: cf. Ru 1:9; Ps 95:11; Mi 2:10. The reference here is to a return home for Absalom.

* [14:24] Appear before: lit., “see the face of,” a term from court etiquette; so also in vv. 28, 32.

* [16:8] Blood shed…Saul: probably refers to the episode recounted in 21:1–14.

* [19:44] The firstborn had special rights over the other siblings.

* [20:8] The text of this verse is quite uncertain.

* [20:18–19] This proverbial expression is obscure but seems to reflect a tradition that this Danite town was associated with oracles or other sorts of revelation. Cf. Mt 16:13–17; and the intertestamental Testament of Levi 2:3.

* [22:1–51] This psalm of thanksgiving also appears in the Psalter, with a few small variants, as Ps 18. In both places it is attributed to David. Two main sections can be distinguished. In the first part, after an introductory stanza of praise to God (vv. 2–4), the writer describes the peril he was in (vv. 5–7), and then poetically depicts, under the form of a theophany, God’s intervention in his behalf (vv. 8–20), concluding with an acknowledgment of God’s justice (vv. 21–31). In the second part, God is praised for having prepared the psalmist for war (vv. 32–35), given him victory over his enemies (vv. 36–39), whom he put to flight (vv. 40–43), and bestowed on him dominion over many peoples (vv. 44–46). The entire song ends with an expression of grateful praise (vv. 47–51).

* [22:3] My saving horn: my strong savior. The horn, such as that of an enraged bull, was a symbol of strength; cf. Lk 1:69.

* [22:5–6] Breakers…floods: traditional Old Testament imagery for lethal danger, from which the Lord is uniquely able to rescue; cf. Ps 69:2, 15–16; 89:10–11; Jon 2:3–6.

* [22:7] His temple: his heavenly abode.

* [22:8–10] The Lord’s coming is depicted by means of a storm theophany, including earthquake (vv. 8, 16) and thunderstorm (vv. 9–15); cf. Jgs 5:4–5; Ps 29; 97:2–6; Hb 3.

* [22:11] Mounted on a cherub: in the traditional storm theophany, as here, the Lord appears with thunder, lightning, earthquake, rain, darkness, cloud, and wind. Sometimes these are represented as his retinue; sometimes he is said to ride upon the clouds or “the wings of the wind” (Ps 104:3). The parallelism in v. 11 suggests that the winged creatures called cherubim are imagined as bearing the Lord aloft. In the iconography of the ark of the covenant, the Lord was “enthroned upon the cherubim”; cf. Ex 37:7–9; 1 Sm 4:4; 2 Sm 6:2; 2 Kgs 19:15; Ps 80:2; 99:1.

* [22:26–27] People are treated by God in the same way they treat him and other people.

* [23:1–7] The last words of David: the text of this short composition is difficult in places; it views David’s career in retrospect.

* [23:8–39] There are thirty-seven warriors in all named in this list. First there are the Three warriors most noted for single-handed exploits (vv. 8–12). Then comes the story of a daring adventure by three unnamed members of the larger group of the Thirty (vv. 13–17). Next come the commanders of the king’s bodyguard, Abishai (vv. 18–19) and Benaiah (vv. 20–23), with whom must be counted Asahel (v. 24) and Joab (vv. 18, 24, 37), and finally the group of the Thirty (vv. 24–39).

* [23:16] Poured it out: as a libation.

* [24:10] The narrative supposes that since the people belonged to the Lord rather than to the king, only the Lord should know their exact number. Further, since such an exact numbering of the people would make it possible for the king to exercise centralized power, imposing taxation, conscription, and expropriation upon Israel, the story shares the view of monarchy found in 1 Sm 8:4–18. See also Nm 3:44–51, where census taking requires an apotropaic offering.

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Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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