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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

2 Samuel 5

Verse 1

Then came all the tribes of Israel to David unto Hebron, and spake, saying, Behold, we are thy bone and thy flesh.

Then came all the tribes of Israel - a combined deputation of the leading authorities in every tribe. David possessed the first and indispensable qualification for the throne-namely, that of being an Israelite (Deuteronomy 17:15). Of his military talent he had furnished ample proof; and the people's desire for his assumption of the government of Israel was further increased by their knowledge of the will and purpose of God, as declared by Samuel (1 Samuel 16:11-13). Indeed, there is something very remarkable in the elevation of David to the throne of all Israel It was in the fulfillment of God's decree; but it was brought about in a most natural way through the representatives of the people, who spontaneously elected him. Consider, too, the preparatory discipline by which Providence had educated him for this influential position in the kingdom of Israel and the Church. Raised from the humble condition of a shepherd, familiar by experience with every variety of feeling and every phase of life, he was qualified above all his contemporaries for the high and onerous office of rule over men.

Behold, we are thy bone and thy flesh. The deputies introduced the subject of their embassy in a somewhat singular, though, in the circumstances, not unnatural, manner. Their language points to the past course both of David's conduct and of their own experience. The alliance of David with the Philistines had raised so painful a suspicion respecting his patriotic attachment to Israel, and his protracted residence, within the Philistine territory had led to so widespread a belief that he had become a naturalized Philistine, as to have created powerful obstacles to the universal recognition of his claims to the throne. The people of Israel had to a large extent taken up this impression, and acted in opposition to him as a supposed alien. But time, as well as the tenor of David's administration in Judah, had dispelled their doubts, and proved him to their satisfaction to be in heart and soul an Israelite; so that they (the representatives of the people) had come to offer him the kingdom, conformably to that statute of the divine law (Deuteronomy 27:15) which required that "one from among their brethren" should be set up king over them.

Verse 2

Also in time past, when Saul was king over us, thou wast he that leddest out and broughtest in Israel: and the LORD said to thee, Thou shalt feed my people Israel, and thou shalt be a captain over Israel.

Also in time past, when Saul was king over us, thou wast he that leddest out and broughtest in Israel -

i.e, you were chief commander in the military expeditions against the Philistines, and proved thyself, by thy brilliant successes, to be well qualified to undertake the government and defense of the kingdom.

And the Lord said to thee (see the notes at 1 Samuel 16:11-13, where the divine appointment of David to the throne is recorded).

Thou shalt feed my people Israel, [ tir`eh (H7462)] - Thou shalt shepherd, i:e., rule, them. [Septuagint, poimaneis.]

And thou shalt be a captain over Israel, [ tihªyeh (H1961) lªnaagiyd (H5057)] - thou shalt be for a leader or a prince (see the notes at 1 Samuel 10:1). This is the first occasion in which the figurative application of a shepherd's office to that of a king occurs in Scripture. It is a phrase very common also in Homer, who frequently describes his royal heroes as 'shepherds of the people.' It evidently arose in times of pastoral and primitive simplicity, and was suggested by its natural fitness to express to men in a primordial state of society the idea of gentle rule and careful supervision. It is applied to the Saviour Himself, who is called the Shepherd, the chief Shepherd of Israel.-The purport of the ambassadors' address to David, then, was, that believing him to be in heart as well as by hereditary descent a Hebrew, coupled with the fact of his having been divinely designated to the kingdom-a fact which had directed all eyes in the nation to him-they had now come to convey to him information of the national choice, and to promise allegiance to his person and government.

Verse 3

So all the elders of Israel came to the king to Hebron; and king David made a league with them in Hebron before the LORD: and they anointed David king over Israel.

And they anointed David king over Israel - (see the notes at 1 Samuel 10:1.)

King David made a league with them - (see the notes at 1 Samuel 10:25.) This formal declaration of the constitution, as well as defining the limitations of the royal power and prerogative, was chiefly made at the commencement of a new dynasty, or at the restoration of the royal family after a usurpation (2 Kings 11:17), though circumstances sometimes led to its being renewed on the accession of any new sovereign (1 Kings 12:4). It seems to have been accompanied by religious solemnities.

Verse 4

David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 5

In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months: and in Jerusalem he reigned thirty and three years over all Israel and Judah.

In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months - (see the notes at 2 Samuel 11:10.) 'Those were the best days of David; and we know, from his own language, how sacredly he then held the trust of Abraham and the aspirations of Moses; nor can we doubt that, as Abiathar celebrated the divine offices, the high-souled leader of his people raised their confidence in that appointment and destiny for their nation of which he believed the dawn and fulfillment would be seen by them. Conscious of such untiring energy both of soul and body, and stirred by his prophetic insight into the future-moved also by the great dynastic changes both in Egypt, where at that time the sceptre passed from the 21st dynasty into the hands of the "military pontiffs," whose rule extended over the whole of Egypt (see Wilkinson in Rawlinson's "Herodotus," vol. 2:, p. 375), and in the far East, where a long series of conflicts resulted in the extension of the Assyrian empire as far westward as the Mediterranean-we cannot doubt that, during those seven years, the mightiest purposes were contemplated by the youthful king; or that, with the contagion of such enthusiasm, he was diffusing among his valiant but rude soldiery aspirations like his own; while he was organizing and instructing them in preparations for warfare of far higher pretensions and character then any which yet had been meditated by his countrymen' (Drew's 'Scripture Lands,' p. 136).

Verse 6

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

The king and his men went to Jerusalem unto the Jebusites. The first expedition of David, as king of the whole country, was directed against this place, which had hitherto remained in the hands of the natives. The circumjacent country was barren and uninviting, so that the Hebrews had hitherto made no exertions to dislodge the inhabitants of the land." But now that the divided tribes of Israel were to be united under one monarchy into a compacted nation, it was necessary to fix the seat of government at a place more northerly than Hebron, as central a could be attained, and withal not too far removed from Judah. Jerusalem, with the sight of which, as visible from the ridge fronting Beth-lehem, he must have been familiar from his earliest years, appeared to the discerning eye of David to combine the military advantage of a strong position with that of convenient communications with all parts of the kingdom, not only for political, but for religious objects. God had distinctly intimated His will that there should be a central place for national worship; and therefore we may reasonably believe that he who had consulted the divine oracle with reference to his repairing to Hebron, would not neglect to make similar inquiry in this more important case of choosing Jerusalem as the future metropolis. Accordingly, having obtained, as we may presume, the Lord's approval of the site chosen, David made it the first act of his policy, after he became king of Israel, to acquire possession of that fortress. Jerusalem was thought to be so much in the midst of the countries and nations around (Ezekiel 5:5), that it was called literally, 'the navel of the earth' (Josephus, 'Jewish Wars,' b. 3:, ch. 2: sec. 5; Reland's 'Palaestina,' cap. 10:, p. 51). (See the notes at 2 Samuel 5:9.)

Except thou take away the blind and the lame. Of the five heights on which the future city of Jerusalem was built (namely, Akra, Bezetha, Moriah, and Ophel), one only was at that time inhabited (Numbers 13:29; Joshua 15:63; Judges 1:21) - namely, the hill of Zion, the loftiest and largest-and was all that the new king aimed at possessing. It was strongly fortified, and deemed so impregnable that blind and lame persons were sent to man the battlements, in derisive mockery of the Hebrew king's attack, and to shout, 'David cannot come hither.' To understand the full meaning and force of this insulting taunt, it is necessary to bear in mind the depth and steepness of the valley of Gihon, and the lofty walls of the ancient Canaanite fortress. Looking down from the summit of the rock to the bottom, it appeared a dizzy height which no assailants, however adventurous, would suceed in scaling; and the inhabitants, therefore feeling themselves secure in their inaccessible position, sneered at what they considered the vain attempts of David and his army to besiege their fort.

This we take to be the true import of the passage. Some learned men, indeed, among whom is Selden ('De Diis Syris, Syntag.,' 1:, cap. 2:), followed by Delaney ('Life of David'), think that there is a reference to the custom of ancient pagan people, in laying the foundations of a city, to deposit in some sequestered spot brass images as the palladium, the tutelary protection, of the place; that "the blind and the lame" spoken of here were the idols which, with a view to its defense, the Jebusites had set up in a recess of the fort; and that they were buoyed up with the conviction of perfect security, so long as those lares of their stronghold were not discovered and abstracted. There is one objection to this interpretation. It is this, that "the blind and the lame" were specified by the Jebusites themselves, who would not be very likely to characterize their own idols, in contemptuous terms, as defective and impotent. It is true, that these 'blind and lame' are called the 'hatred of David's soul,' a strong expression of disgust and horror, which, while it could scarcely be called forth by the bodily distresses even of human antagonists, appears very pertinent and applicable on the part of David to pagan idols. Notwithstanding, the former interpretation is preferable for various reasons, which are stated at large by Kennicott in his 'Dissertation.'

Verse 7

Nevertheless David took the strong hold of Zion: the same is the city of David.

Nevertheless David took the strong hold of Zion, [ mªtsudat (H4686) Tsiyown (H6726)] - the citadel of the dry or sunny mount. It was the southwesternmost of the hills. Fergusson ('Topography of Ancient Jerusalem,' pp. 55-58) and, Thrupp ('Ancient Jerusalem,' pp. 12-30) placed "the strong hold of Zion" on the hill north of the temple mount. But their theories, are strenuously opposed by Porter ('Handbook,' p. 93) and Drew ('Scripture Lands,' p. 157). Although it had long defied the Israelites, it was in a short time reduced by the valiant army of David, and on that commanding site he established the glory of his future metropolis.

Verse 8

And David said on that day, Whosoever getteth up to the gutter, and smiteth the Jebusites, and the lame and the blind, that are hated of David's soul, he shall be chief and captain. Wherefore they said, The blind and the lame shall not come into the house.

Whosoever getteth up to the gutter, and smiteth the Jebusites [ kaal (H3605) makeeh (H5221) Yªbuciy (H2983), whosoever smiteth a Jebusite: so also the Septuagint, Pas tuptoon Iebousaion, everyone striking a Jebusite; wªyiga` (H5060) batsinowr (H6794), and reacheth by the watercourse (Psalms 42:8) the lame and the blind, etc.] Stanley ('Sinai and Palestine,' p. 171, note) renders these words, 'dasheth them against the precipice'-not correctly. Kennicott's translation of this passage is-`And David said on that day, Whosoever (first) smiteth the Jebusites, and through the subterranean passage, or gutter, reacheth the blind and the lame, which are hated by David's soul-because the blind and the lame continued to say, "He shall not come into the house" - shall be head and captain; so Joab, the son of Zeruiah, went up first, and was made chief captain' (1 Chronicles 11:6).

Wherefore they said, The blind and the lame shall not come into the house. The question here is, Who said this? Those who ascribe it to the Jebusites consider it as meaning, that if the idols did not protect their fort, they should not commit the safety of their fortress to such incompetent guardianship in future. But others, regarding the words as spoken by the Hebrews, interpret it as a determination that they (namely, the blind and the lame) should not come into the house (i:e., of the Lord) (cf. Deuteronomy 23:1-3). [The Septuagint renders the whole passage thus: Pas-haptesthoo en paraxifidi kai tous choolous kai tous tuflous kai tous misountas teen psucheen Dauid; dia touto erousi, Tufloi kai chooloi ouk eiseleusontai eis oikon kuriou-Whosoever shall touch with his dagger the lame and the blind, and those who hate David's life; wherefore they say, Blind and lame people shall not enter into the house of the Lord.]

Verse 9

So David dwelt in the fort, and called it the city of David. And David built round about from Millo and inward.

David dwelt in the fort ... Having taken it by storm, he changed its name to "The city of David," to signify the importance of the conquest, and to perpetuate the memory of the event.

David built round about from Millo and inward - probably a row of stone bastions placed on the northern side of Mount Zion, and built by David to secure himself on that side from the Jebusites, who still lived in the lower part of the city. The house of Millo was, perhaps, the principal corner-tower of that fortified wall. Such was the small beginning of Jerusalem; and although its walls were far from being of so diminutive a size at this time, that, like those of Rome, any one could have leaped over them in contempt, "The city of David" was but the rudiments of what became afterward the most celebrated in the world. Viewing its site in connection with the limits of the promised land, it was not a happy selection; yet it is constantly spoken of in Scripture as the place which God had chosen to put his name there, (Psalms 132:13, etc.) There is an apparent difficulty here, which, however, is at once explained when we remember that David utterly failed to realize the Mosaic type and ideal of the Hebrew nation. His empire, as it was constituted, and as he enlarged it by conquest, was formed after the model of the Assyrian kingdom-empires. In reference to the actual circumstances and the after-history of the Jews, Jerusalem was, of all sites in the country, the best that could have been chosen; and yet on its mountain height (2,500 feet above the sea), far away from the roads between the great empires, and accessible only by steep and winding passes, it was secluded, so that it was freed, as it now is, from any necessary implication in the great movements of the world. So secluded, and yet so central, it was marvelously fitted as the scene of the events that were to be transacted in it (Drew's 'Scripture Lands,'

p. 147: see also Robinson's 'Biblical Researches,' 1:, p. 389).

Verse 10

And David went on, and grew great, and the LORD God of hosts was with him.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 11

And Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David, and cedar trees, and carpenters, and masons: and they built David an house.

Hiram king of Tyre - i:e., old Tyre, which stood on the continent.

Sent ... carpenters, and masons. The influx of Tyrian architects and mechanics affords a clear evidence of the low state to which, through the disorders of long-continued war, the better class of artizans had declined in Israel.

Verse 12

And David perceived that the LORD had established him king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingdom for his people Israel's sake.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 13

And David took him more concubines and wives out of Jerusalem, after he was come from Hebron: and there were yet sons and daughters born to David.

David took him more concubines and wives. In this conduct David transgressed an express law, which forbade the king of Israel to multiply wives unto himself (Deuteronomy 17:17). David might perhaps suppose that although an Israelite king was prohibited from multiplying wives, he had not exceeded in taking to himself more wives and concubines, because there was no number specified; and as there was little difference in his day between a wife and a concubine, except in the observance of some nuptial formalities, he might fancy it expedient to strengthen his interest by extending his matrimonial connections with his own nobility and the royal families of the neighbouring kingdoms.

Verses 14-16

And these be the names of those that were born unto him in Jerusalem; Shammuah, and Shobab, and Nathan, and Solomon, No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 17

But when the Philistines heard that they had anointed David king over Israel, all the Philistines came up to seek David; and David heard of it, and went down to the hold.

When the Philistines heard that they had anointed David king over Israel. During the civil war between the house of Saul and David, these restless neighbours had remained quiet spectators of the contest; but now, jealous of David, they resolved to attack him before his government was fully established.

Verse 18

The Philistines also came and spread themselves in the valley of Rephaim.

Valley of Rephaim - i:e., of giants (2 Samuel 5:18; 2 Samuel 5:22; 1 Samuel 23:13; 1 Chronicles 11:5; 1 Chronicles 14:9; 1 Chronicles 14:13); of the giants (see the notes at Joshua 15:8; Joshua 18:16 [Septuagint, eis teen koilado toon Titanoon, into the valley of the Titans]; a broad and fertile plain, about a mile in length, which descends gradually from the central mountains toward the northwest. It was the southern entrance into Jerusalem, extending northward until a narrow ridge of rocks, which breaks abruptly into the deep ravine of the Hinnom, intercepted further progress (Robinson, 'Biblical Researches,' 1:, p. 323; 2:, p. 156; Porter's 'Handbook,' pp. 75, 104). The "hold" to which David went down 'was some fortified place, where he might oppose the progress of the invaders,' and where he signally defeated them [Septuagint, eis teen periocheen, to the enclosure]. But there is no mention of "the hold" in the parallel passage (cf. 1 Chronicles 14:8). The time chosen for this invasion was harvest, when the broad, fertile fields would present a great temptation to the cupidity of the restless marauders.

Verses 19-20

And David inquired of the LORD, saying, Shall I go up to the Philistines? wilt thou deliver them into mine hand? And the LORD said unto David, Go up: for I will doubtless deliver the Philistines into thine hand.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 21

And there they left their images, and David and his men burned them.

There they left their images - probably their lares or household deities, which they had brought into the field to fight for them. These were burnt, as ordained By law (Deuteronomy 7:5).

Verse 22

And the Philistines came up yet again, and spread themselves in the valley of Rephaim.

The Philistines came up yet again. The next year they renewed their hostile attempt with a larger force; but God manifestly interposed in David's favour; at least, a slight occurrence produced a panic, and David was directed to attack them suddenly from behind the mulberry trees.

Verse 23

And when David inquired of the LORD, he said, Thou shalt not go up; but fetch a compass behind them, and come upon them over against the mulberry trees.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 24

And let it be, when thou hearest the sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry trees, that then thou shalt bestir thyself: for then shall the LORD go out before thee, to smite the host of the Philistines.

The sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry trees [ habªkaa'iym (H1057)] - now generally thought not to be mulberry trees, but the aspen or trembling poplar, which delights in moist situations, and the leaves of which are rustled by the slightest movement of the zephyr. It abounds in the ravines of southern Palestine, and in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem, where, according to tradition, a solitary mulberry in the valley of Jehoshaphat still marks the spot of Isaiah's martyrdom. "Hearest the sound of a going" - namely, of God (cf. 1 Chronicles 14:15) - "in the tops of the mulberry trees" [ bªraa'sheey (H7218) habªkaa'iym (H1057)] - at the entrance of the mulberry (poplar) groves [Septuagint, apo tou alsous tou klathmoonos, from the valley of weeping]. But see the notes at 1 Chronicles 14:14, where that version regards becaim as pear trees. The meaning is, that at the extremity of the mulberry (poplar) forest, God caused a sound to be heard, which, having been mistaken by the Philistines for the march of an army, diffused a sudden panic through their ranks, on which David attacked them, and both in the battle and the long tumultuous rout which followed, committed great havoc on their discomfited hosts.

Verse 25

And David did so, as the LORD had commanded him; and smote the Philistines from Geba until thou come to Gazer.

Geba until thou come to Gazer. For Geba, see the notes at 1 Samuel 14:1-52:; Gazer (cf. 1 Chronicles 14:16), or, as elsewhere, Gezer. It stands in Porter's, 'Handbook' in the list of places not yet identified. 'But,' says Mr. Grove (Smith's 'Dictionary,' sub voce), 'its general position is not difficult to infer.' It must have been between the lower Beth-horon and the sea (Mediterranean, Joshua 16:3; 1 Kings 4:17); therefore on the great maritime plain which lies beneath the hills of which Beitur et-Tahta is the last outpost, sad the regular coast road of communication with Egypt (1 Kings 9:16). It is therefore appropriately named as the last point to which David's pursuit of the Philistines extended on the occasion referred to in the context.

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 5". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.