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II. The Government of David Over All Israel in the Time of Its Strength And Glory - 2 Samuel 5
After the death of Ishbosheth, David was anointed in Hebron by all the tribes as king over the whole of Israel (2 Samuel 5:1-5). He then proceeded to attack the Jebusites in Jerusalem, conquered their fortress Zion, and made Jerusalem the capital of his kingdom; fortifying it still further, and building a palace in it (2 Samuel 5:6-16), after he had twice inflicted a defeat upon the Philistines (2 Samuel 5:17-25). But in order that the chief city of his kingdom and the seat of his own palace might also be made the religious centre of the whole nation as a congregation of Jehovah, he first of all brought the ark of the covenant out of its place of concealment, and had it conveyed in a festal procession to Zion, and deposited there in a tent which had been specially prepared for it, as a place of worship for the whole congregation (2 Samuel 6). He then resolved to erect for the Lord in Jerusalem a temple fitted for His name; and the Lord gave him in return the promise of the eternal perpetuity of his throne (2 Samuel 7). To this there is appended a cursory account of David's wars with the neighbouring nations, by which not only his own sovereignty, but the Israelitish kingdom of God, was raised into a commanding power among the nations and kingdoms of the world. In connection with all this, David still maintained his affection and fidelity towards the fallen royal family of Saul, and showed compassion towards the last remaining descendant of that family (2 Samuel 9:1-13).
This account of the unfolding of the power and glory of the kingdom of Israel, through the instrumentality of David and during his reign, is so far arranged chronologically, that all the events and all the enterprises of David mentioned in this section occurred in the first half of his reign over the whole of the covenant nation. The chronological arrangement, however, is not strictly adhered to, so far as the details are concerned; but the standpoint of material resemblance is so far connected with it, that all the greater wars of David are grouped together in 2 Samuel 8 (see the introduction to 2 Samuel 8). It is obvious from this, that the plan which the historian adopted was first of all to describe the internal improvement of the Israelitish kingdom of God by David, and then to proceed to the external development of his power in conflict with the opposing nations of the world. David Anointed King over All Israel. Jerusalem Taken, and Made the Capital of the Kingdom. Victories over the Philistines. 2 Samuel 5.
2 Samuel 5:1-2
David Anointed King over all Israel. - 2 Samuel 5:1-3 (compare with this the parallel passages in 1 Chronicles 11:1-3). After the death of Ishbosheth, all the tribes of Israel (except Judah) came to Hebron in the persons of their representatives the elders (vid., 2 Samuel 5:3), in response to the summons of Abner (2 Samuel 3:17-19), to do homage to David as their king. They assigned three reasons for their coming: (1.) “Behold, we are thy bone and thy flesh,” i.e., thy blood-relations, inasmuch as all the tribes of Israel were lineal descendants of Jacob (vid., Genesis 29:14; Judges 9:2). (2.) “In time past, when Saul was king over us, thou wast the leader of Israel ( thou leddest out and broughtest in Israel),” i.e., thou didst superintend the affairs of Israel (see at Numbers 27:17; and for the fact itself, 1 Samuel 18:5). מוציא הייתה is an error in writing for המּוציא היית , and מבי for מביא , with the א dropped, as in 1 Kings 21:21, etc. (vid., Olshausen, Gr. p. 69). (3.) They ended by asserting that Jehovah had called him to be the shepherd and prince over His people. The remarks which we have already made at 2 Samuel 3:18 respecting Abner's appeal to a similar utterance on the part of Jehovah, are equally applicable to the words of Jehovah to David which are quoted here: “Thou shalt feed my people Israel,” etc. On the Piska , see the note to Joshua 4:1.
2 Samuel 5:3
“All the elders of Israel came” is a repetition of 2 Samuel 5:1, except that the expression “all the tribes of Israel” is more distinctly defined as meaning “all the elders of Israel.” “So all the elders came; ... and king David made a covenant with them in Hebron before the Lord (see at 2 Samuel 3:21): and they anointed David king over (all) Israel.” The writer of the Chronicles adds, “according to the word of the Lord through Samuel,” i.e., so that the command of the Lord to Samuel, to anoint David king over Israel (1 Samuel 16:1, 1 Samuel 16:12), found its complete fulfilment in this.
2 Samuel 5:4-5
The age of David when he began to reign is given here, viz., thirty years old; also the length of his reign, viz., seven years and a half at Hebron over Judah, and thirty-three years at Jerusalem over Israel and Judah. In the books of Chronicles these statements occur at the close of David's reign (1 Chronicles 29:27).
Conquest of the Stronghold of Zion, and Choice of Jerusalem as the Capital of the Kingdom (cf. 1 Chronicles 11:4, 1 Chronicles 11:9). - These parallel accounts agree in all the main points; but they are both of them merely brief extracts from a more elaborate history, so that certain things, which appeared of comparatively less importance, are passed over either in the one or the other, and the full account is obtained by combining the two. The conquest of the citadel Zion took place immediately after the anointing of David as king over all the tribes of Israel. This is apparent, not only from the fact that the account follows directly afterwards, but also from the circumstance that, according to 2 Samuel 5:5, David reigned in Jerusalem just as many years as he was king over all Israel.
2 Samuel 5:6
The king went with his men (i.e., his fighting men: the Chronicles have “all Israel,” i.e., the fighting men of Israel) to Jerusalem to the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, i.e., the natives or Canaanites; “and they said (the singular ויּאמר is used because היבוּסי is a singular form) to David, Thou wilt not come hither (i.e., come in), but the blind and lame will drive thee away: to say (i.e., by which they meant to say), David will not come in.” הסירך is not used for the infinitive, but has been rightly understood by the lxx, Aben Ezra, and others, as a perfect. The perfect expresses a thing accomplished, and open to no dispute; and the use of the singular in the place of the plural, as in Isaiah 14:32, is to be explained from the fact that the verb precedes, and is only defined precisely by the subject which follows (vid., Ewald, §319, a.). The Jebusites relied upon the unusual natural advantages of their citadel, which stood upon Mount Zion, a mountain shut in by deep valleys on three different sides; so that in their haughty self-security they imagined that they did not even need to employ healthy and powerful warriors to resist the attack made by David, but that the blind and lame would suffice.
2 Samuel 5:7-8
However, David took the citadel Zion, i.e., “the city of David.” This explanatory remark anticipates the course of events, as David did not give this name to the conquered citadel, until he had chosen it as his residence and capital (vid., 2 Samuel 5:9). ציּון ( Sion), from ציה , to be dry: the dry or arid mountain or hill. This was the name of the southern and loftiest mountain of Jerusalem. Upon this stood the fortress or citadel of the town, which had hitherto remained in the possession of the Jebusites; whereas the northern portion of the city of Jerusalem, which was upon lower ground, had been conquered by the Judaeans and Benjaminites very shortly after the death of Joshua (see at Judges 1:8). - In 2 Samuel 5:8 we have one circumstance mentioned which occurred in connection with this conquest. On that day, i.e., when he had advanced to the attack of the citadel Zion, David said, “Every one who smites the Jebusites, let him hurl into the waterfall (i.e., down the precipice) both the lame and blind, who are hateful to David's soul.” This is most probably the proper interpretation of these obscure words of David, which have been very differently explained. Taking up the words of the Jebusites, David called all the defenders of the citadel of Zion “lame and blind,” and ordered them to be cast down the precipice without quarter. צנּור signifies a waterfall ( catarracta ) in Psalms 42:8, the only other passage in which it occurs, probably from צנר , to roar. This meaning may also be preserved here, if we assume that at the foot of the steep precipice of Zion there was a waterfall probably connected with the water of Siloah. It is true we cannot determine anything with certainty concerning it, as, notwithstanding the many recent researches in Jerusalem, the situation of the Jebusite fortress and the character of the mountain of Zion in ancient times are quite unknown to us. This explanation of the word zinnor is simpler than Ewald's assumption that the word signifies the steep side of a rock, which merely rests upon the fact that the Greek word καταρράκτης originally signifies a plunge.
(Note: The earliest translators have only resorted to guesses. The Seventy, with their ἁπτέσθω ἐν παραξιφιδι , have combined צנּור with צנּה , which they render now and then μάχαιρα or ῥομφαία . This is also done by the Syriac and Arabic. The Chaldee paraphrases in this manner: “who begins to subjugate the citadel.” Jerome, who probably followed the Rabbins, has et tetigisset domatum fistulas (and touched the water-pipes); and Luther, “ und erlanget die Dachrinnen ” (like the English version, “whosoever getteth up to the gutter:” Tr.). Hitzig's notion, that zinnor signifies ear (“whosoever boxes the ears of the blind and lame”) needs no refutation; nor does that of Fr. Böttcher, who proposes to follow the Alexandrian rendering, and refer zinnor to a “sword of honour or marshal's staff,” which David promised to the victor.)
ויגע should be pointed as a Hiphil ויגּע . The Masoretic pointing ויגּע arises from their mistaken interpretation of the whole sentence. The Chethibh שׂנאו might be the third pers. perf., “who hate David's soul;” only in that case the omission of עשׁר would be surprising, and consequently the Keri שׂנאי is to be preferred. “From this,” adds the writer, “the proverb arose, 'The blind and lame shall not enter the house;' “ in which proverb the epithet “blind and lame,” which David applied to the Jebusites who were hated by him, has the general signification of “repulsive persons,” with whom one does not wish to have anything to do. In the Chronicles not only is the whole of 2 Samuel 5:7 omitted, with the proverb to which the occurrence gave rise, but also the allusion to the blind and lame in the words spoken by the Jebusites (2 Samuel 5:6); and another word of David's is substituted instead, namely, that David would make the man who first smote the Jebusites, i.e., who stormed their citadel, head and chief;
(Note: This is also inserted in the passage before us by the translators of the English version: “he shall be chief and captain.” - Tr.)
and also the statement that Joab obtained the prize. The historical credibility of the statement cannot be disputed, as Thenius assumes, on the ground that Joab had already been chief ( sar ) for a long time, according to 2 Samuel 2:13: for the passage referred to says nothing of the kind; and there is a very great difference between the commander of an army in the time of war, and a “head and chief,” i.e., a commander-in-chief. The statement in 2 Samuel 5:8 with regard to Joab's part, the fortification of Jerusalem, shows very clearly that the author of the Chronicles had other and more elaborate sources in his possession, which contained fuller accounts than the author of our books has communicated.
2 Samuel 5:9
“David dwelt in the fort,” i.e., he selected the fort or citadel as his palace, “and called it David's city.” David may have been induced to select the citadel of Zion as his palace, and by so doing to make Jerusalem the capital of the whole kingdom, partly by the natural strength of Zion, and partly by the situation of Jerusalem, viz., on the border of the tribes of Benjamin and Judah, and tolerably near to the centre of the land. “And David built, i.e., fortified (the city of Zion), round about from Millo and inwards.” In the Chronicles we have ועד־הסּביב , “and to the environs or surroundings,” i.e., to the encircling wall which was opposite to the Millo. The fortification “inwards” must have consisted in the enclosure of Mount Zion with a strong wall upon the north side, where Jerusalem joined it as a lower town, so as to defend the palace against the hostile attacks on the north or town side, which had hitherto been left without fortifications. The “Millo” was at any rate some kind of fortification, probably a large tower or castle at one particular part of the surrounding wall (comp. Judges 9:6 with Judges 9:46 and Judges 9:49, where Millo is used interchangeably with Migdal). The name (“the filling”) probably originated in the fact that through this tower or castle the fortification of the city, or the surrounding wall, was filled or completed. The definite article before Millo indicates that it was a well-known fortress, probably one that had been erected by the Jebusites. With regard to the situation of Millo, we may infer from this passage, and 1 Chronicles 11:8, that the tower in question stood at one corner of the wall, either on the north-east or north-west, “where the hill of Zion has the least elevation and therefore needed the greatest strengthening from without” (Thenius on 1 Kings 9:15). This is fully sustained both by 1 Kings 11:27, where Solomon is said to have closed the breach of the city of David by building (fortifying) Millo, and by 2 Chronicles 32:5, where Hezekiah is said to have built up all the wall of Jerusalem, and made Millo strong, i.e., to have fortified it still further (vid., 1 Kings 9:15 and 1 Kings 9:24).
2 Samuel 5:10
And David increased in greatness, i.e., in power and fame, for Jehovah the God of hosts was with him.
David's Palace, Wives and Children (comp. 1 Chronicles 14:1-7). - King Hiram of Tyre sent messengers to David, and afterwards, by the express desire of the latter, cedar-wood and builders, carpenters and stone-masons, who built him a house, i.e., a palace. Hiram ( Hirom in 1 Kings 5:2; Huram in the Chronicles; lxx Χειράμ ; Josephus, Εἴραμος and Εἴρωμος ), king of Tyre, was not only an ally of David, but of his son Solomon also. He sent to the latter cedar-wood and builders for the erection of the temple and of his own palace (1 Kings 5:8.; 2 Chronicles 2:2.), and fitted out a mercantile fleet in conjunction with him (1 Kings 9:27-28; 2 Chronicles 9:10); in return for which, Solomon not only sent him an annual supply of corn, oil, and wine (1 Kings 5:11; 2 Chronicles 2:9), but when all the buildings were finished, twenty years after the erection of the temple, he made over to him twenty of the towns of Galilee (1 Kings 9:10.). It is evident from these facts that Hiram was still reigning in the twenty-fourth, or at any rate the twentieth, year of Solomon's reign, and consequently, as he had assisted David with contributions of wood for the erection of his palace, that he must have reigned at least forty-five or fifty years; and therefore that, even in the latter case, he cannot have begun to reign earlier than the eighth year of David's reign over all Israel, or from six to ten years after the conquest of the Jebusite citadel upon Mount Zion. This is quite in harmony with the account given here; for it by no means follows, that because the arrival of an embassy from Hiram, and the erection of David's palace, are mentioned immediately after the conquest of the citadel of Zion, they must have occurred directly afterwards. The arrangement of the different events in the chapter before us is topical rather than strictly chronological. Of the two battles fought by David with the Philistines (2 Samuel 5:17-25), the first at any rate took place before the erection of David's palace, as it is distinctly stated in 2 Samuel 5:17 that the Philistines made war upon David when they heard that he had been anointed king over Israel, and therefore in all probability even before the conquest of the fortress of the Jebusites, or at any rate immediately afterwards, and before David had commenced the fortification of Jerusalem and the erection of a palace. The historian, on the contrary, has not only followed up the account of the capture of the fortress of Zion, and the selection of it as David's palace, by a description of what David gradually did to fortify and adorn the new capital, but has also added a notice as to David's wives and the children that were born to him in Jerusalem. Now, if this be correct, the object of Hiram's embassy cannot have been “to congratulate David upon his ascent of the throne,” as Thenius maintains; but after he had ascended the throne, Hiram sent ambassadors to form an alliance with this powerful monarch; and David availed himself of the opportunity to establish an intimate friendship with Hiram, and ask him for cedar-wood and builders for his palace.
(Note: The statements of Menander of Ephesus in Josephus (c. Ap. i. 18), that after the death of Abibal his son Hirom ( Εἴρωμος ) succeeded him in the government, and reigned thirty-four years, and died at the age of fifty-three, are at variance with the biblical history. For, according to these statements, as Hiram was still reigning “at the end of twenty years” (according to 1 Kings 9:10-11), when Solomon had built his palaces and the house of the Lord, i.e., twenty-four years after Solomon began to reign, he cannot have ascended the throne before the sixty-first year of David's life, and the thirty-first of his reign. But in that case the erection of David's palace would fall somewhere within the last eight years of his life. And to this we have to add the repeated statements made by Josephus ( l.c. and Ant. viii. 3, 1), to the effect that Solomon commenced the building of the temple in Hiram's twelfth year, or after he had reigned eleven years; so that Hiram could only have begun to reign seven years before the death of David (in the sixty-third year of his life), and the erection of the palace by David must have fallen later still, and his determination to build the temple, which he did not form till he had taken possession of his house of cedar, i.e., the newly erected palace (2 Samuel 7:2), would fall in the very last years of his life, but a very short time before his death. As this seems hardly credible, it has been assumed by some that Hiram's father, Abibal, also bore the name of Hiram, or that Hiram is confounded with Abibal in the account before us (Thenius), or that Abibal's father was named Hiram, and it was he who formed the alliance with David (Ewald, Gesch. iv. 287). But all these assumptions are overthrown by the fact that the identity of the Hiram who was Solomon's friend with the contemporary and friend of David is expressly affirmed not only in 2 Chronicles 2:2 (as Ewald supposes), but also in 1 Kings 5:15. For whilst Solomon writes to Hiram in 2 Chronicles 2:3, “as thou didst deal with David my father, and didst send him cedars to build him an house to dwell therein,” it is also stated 1 Kings 5:1 that “Hiram king of Tyre sent his servants unto Solomon; for he had heard that they had anointed him king in the room of his father: for Hiram was a lover of David all days (all his life).” Movers ( Phönizier ii. 1, p. 147ff.) has therefore attempted to remove the discrepancy between the statements made in Josephus and the biblical account of Hiram's friendship with David and Solomon, by assuming that in the narrative contained in the books of Samuel we have a topical and not a chronological arrangement, and that according to this arrangement the conquest of Jerusalem by David is followed immediately by the building of the city and palace, and this again by the removal of the holy ark to Jerusalem, and lastly by David's resolution to build a temple, which really belonged to the close of his reign, and indeed, according to 2 Samuel 7:2, to the period directly following the completion of the cedar palace. There is a certain amount of truth at the foundation of this, but it does not remove the discrepancy; for even if David's resolution to build a temple did not fall within the earlier years of his reign at Jerusalem, as some have inferred from the position in which it stands in the account given in this book, it cannot be pushed forward to the very last years of his life and reign. This is decidedly precluded by the fact, that in the promise given to David by God, his son and successor upon the throne is spoken of in such terms as to necessitate the conclusion that he was not yet born. This difficulty cannot be removed by the solution suggested by Movers (p. 149), “that the historian necessarily adhered to the topical arrangement which he had adopted for this section, because he had not said anything yet about Solomon and his mother Bathsheba:” for the expression “which shall proceed out of thy bowels” (2 Samuel 7:12) is not the only one of the kind; but in 1 Chronicles 22:9, David says to his son Solomon, “The word of the Lord came to me, saying, A son shall be born to thee - Solomon - he shall build an house for my name;” from which it is very obvious, that Solomon was not born at the time when David determined to build the temple and received this promise from God in consequence of his intention.
To this we have also to add 2 Samuel 11:2, where David sees Bathsheba, who gave birth to Solomon a few years later, from the roof of his palace. Now, even though the palace is simply called “the king's house” in this passage, and not the “house of cedar,” as in 2 Samuel 7:2, and therefore the house intended might possibly be the house in which David lived before the house of cedar was built, this is a very improbable supposition, and there cannot be much doubt that the “king's house” is the palace (2 Samuel 5:11; 2 Samuel 7:1) which he had erected for himself. Lastly, not only is there not the slightest intimation in the whole of the account given in 2 Samuel 7 that David was an old man when he resolved to build the temple, but, on the contrary, the impression which it makes throughout is, that it was the culminating point of his reign, and that he was at an age when he might hope not only to commence this magnificent building, but in all human probability to live to complete it. The only other solution left, is the assumption that there are errors in the chronological date of Josephus, and that Hiram lived longer than Menander affirms. The assertion that Solomon commenced the erection of the temple in the eleventh or twelfth year of Hiram's reign was not derived by Josephus from Phoenician sources; for the fragments which he gives from the works of Menander and Dius in the Antiquities (viii. 5, 3) and c. Apion (i. 17, 18), contain nothing at all about the building of the temple (vid., Movers, p. 141), but he has made it as the result of certain chronological combinations of his own, just as in Ant. viii. 3, 1, he calculates the year of the building of the temple in relation both to the exodus and also to the departure of Abraham out of Haran, but miscalculates, inasmuch as he places it in the 592nd year after the exodus instead of the 480th, and the 1020th year from Abraham's emigration to Canaan instead of the 1125th. And in the present instance his calculation of the exact position of the same event in relation to Hiram's reign was no doubt taken from Menander; but even in this the numbers may be faulty, since the statements respecting Balezorus and Myttonus in the very same extract from Menander, as to the length of the reigns of the succeeding kings of Tyre, can be proved to be erroneous, and have been corrected by Movers from Eusebius and Syncellus; and, moreover, the seven years of Hiram's successor, Baleazar, do not tally with Eusebius and Syncellus, who both give seventeen years. Thus the proof which Movers adduces from the synchronism of the Tyrian chronology with the biblical, the Egyptian, and the Assyrian, to establish the correctness of Menander's statements concerning Hiram's reign, is rendered very uncertain, to say nothing of the fact that Movers has only succeeded in bringing out the synchronism with the biblical chronology by a very arbitrary and demonstrably false calculation of the years that the kings of Judah and Israel reigned.)
2 Samuel 5:12-14
“And David perceived (sc., from the success of his enterprises) that Jehovah had firmly established him king over Israel, and that He had exalted his kingdom for His people Israel's sake,” i.e., because He had chosen Israel as His people, and had promised to make it great and glorious.
To the building of David's palace, there is appended in 2 Samuel 5:13-15 the account of the increase of his house by the multiplication of his wives and concubines, and of the sons who were born to him at Jerusalem (as in 1 Chronicles 14:3.). Taking many wives was indeed prohibited in the law of the king in Deuteronomy 17:17; but as a large harem was considered from time immemorial as part of the court of an oriental monarch, David suffered himself to be seduced by that custom to disregard this prohibition, and suffered many a heartburn afterwards in consequence, not to mention his fearful fall in consequence of his passion for Bathsheba. The concubines are mentioned before the wives, probably because David had taken many of them to Jerusalem, and earlier than the wives. In the Chronicles the concubines and omitted, though not “intentionally,” as they are mentioned in 1 Chronicles 3:9; but as being of no essential importance in relation to the list of sons which follows, because no difference was made between those born of concubines and those born of wives. “Out of Jerusalem,” i.e., away from Jerusalem: not that the wives were all born in Jerusalem, as the words which follow, “after he was come from Hebron,” clearly show. In the Chronicles, therefore, it is explained as meaning “in Jerusalem.” The sons are mentioned again both in 1 Chronicles 14:5-7 and in the genealogy in 1 Chronicles 3:5-8. Shammua is called Shimea in 1 Chronicles 3:5, according to a different pronunciation. Shammua, Shobab, Nathan, and Solomon were sons of Bathsheba according to 1 Chronicles 3:5.
2 Samuel 5:15-16
Elishua is written incorrectly in 1 Chronicles 3:6 as Elishama, because Elishama follows afterwards. There are two names after Elishua in 1 Chronicles 3:6-7, and 1 Chronicles 14:6-7, viz., Eliphalet and Nogah, which have not crept into the text from oversight or from a wrong spelling of other names, because the number of the names is given as nine in 1 Chronicles 3:8, and the two names must be included in order to bring out that number. And, on the other hand, it is not by the mistake of a copyist that they have been omitted from the text before us, but it has evidently been done deliberately on account of their having died in infancy, or at a very early age. This also furnishes a very simple explanation of the fact, that the name Eliphalet occurs again at the end of the list, namely, because a son who was born later received the name of his brother who had died young. Eliada, the last but one, is called Beeliada in 1 Chronicles 14:7, another form of the name, compounded with Baal instead of El. David had therefore nineteen sons, six of whom were born in Hebron (2 Samuel 3:2.), and thirteen at Jerusalem. Daughters are not mentioned in the genealogical accounts, because as a rule only heiresses or women who acquired renown from special causes were included in them. There is a daughter named Thamar mentioned afterwards in 2 Samuel 13:1.
David gains two Victories over the Philistines (compare 1 Chronicles 14:8-17). - Both these victories belong in all probability to the interval between the anointing of David at Hebron over all Israel and the conquest of the citadel of Zion. This is very evident, so far as the first is concerned, from the words, “When the Philistines heard that they had anointed David king over Israel” (2 Samuel 5:17), not when David had conquered the citadel of Zion. Moreover, when the Philistines approached, David “went down to the hold,” or mountain fortress, by which we cannot possibly understand the citadel upon Zion, on account of the expression “went down.” If David had been living upon Zion at the time, he would hardly have left this fortification when the Philistines encamped in the valley of Rephaim on the west of Jerusalem, but would rather have attacked and routed the enemy from the citadel itself. The second victory followed very soon after the first, and must therefore be assigned to the same period. The Philistines evidently resolved, as soon as the tidings reached them of the union of all the tribes under the sovereignty of David, that they would at once resist the growing power of Israel, and smite David before he had consolidated his government.
2 Samuel 5:17-18
“The Philistines went up to seek David,” i.e., to seek him out and smite him. The expression לבקּשׁ presupposes that David had not yet taken up his abode upon Zion. He had probably already left Hebron to make preparations for his attack upon the Jebusites. When he heard of the approach of the Philistines, he went down into the mountain fortress. “The hold” cannot be the citadel of Zion (as in 2 Samuel 5:7 and 2 Samuel 5:9), because this was so high that they had to go up to it on every side; and it is impossible to sustain the opinion advanced by Bertheau, that the verb ירד (to go down) is used for falling back into a fortification. המּצוּדה ( the hold), with the definite article, is probably the mountain stronghold in the desert of Judah, into which David withdrew for a long time to defend himself from Saul (vid., 2 Samuel 23:14 and 1 Chronicles 12:8). In 2 Samuel 5:18 the position of the Philistines is more minutely defined. The verse contains a circumstantial clause: “The Philistines had come and spread themselves out in the valley of Rephaim,” a valley on the west of Jerusalem, and only separated from the valley of Ben-hinnom by a narrow ridge of land (see at Joshua 15:8). Instead of ינּטשׁוּ the Chronicles have יפשׁטוּ , they had invaded, which is perfectly equivalent so far as the sense is concerned.
2 Samuel 5:19-20
David inquired of the Lord by the Urim whether he should go out against the foe, and whether God would give them into his hand;
(Note: Through the express statement that David inquired of Jehovah (viz., by the Urim) in both these conflicts with the Philistines (2 Samuel 5:19 and 2 Samuel 5:23), Diestel's assertion, that after the death of Saul we do not read any more about the use of the holy lot, is completely overthrown, as well as the conclusion which he draws from it, namely, that “David probably employed it for the purpose of giving a certain definiteness to his command over his followers, over whom he had naturally but little authority (1 Samuel 22:2?), rather than because he looked upon it himself with any peculiar reverence.”)
and when he had received an answer in the affirmative to both these questions, he went to Baal-perazim ( lit. into Baal-perazim), and smote them there, and said (2 Samuel 5:20), “Jehovah hath broken mine enemies before me like a water-breach,” i.e., has smitten them before me, and broken their power as a flood breaks through and carries away whatever opposes it. From these words of David, the place where the battle was fought received the name of Baal-perazim, i.e., “possessor of breaches” (equivalent to Bruch-hausen or Brechendorf , Breach-ham or Break-thorpe). The only other passage in which the place is mentioned is Isaiah 28:21, where this event is alluded to, but it cannot have been far from the valley of Rephaim.
2 Samuel 5:21
The Philistines left their idols behind them there. They had probably brought them to the war, as the Israelites once did their ark, as an auxiliary force. “And David took them away.” The Chronicles have “their gods” instead of “their idols,” and “they were burned with fire” instead of ישּׂאם , “he took them away,”
(Note: This is the marginal reading in the English version, though the text has “he burned them.” - Tr.)
took them as booty. The reading in the Chronicles gives the true explanation of the fact, as David would certainly dispose of the idols in the manner prescribed in the law (Deuteronomy 7:5, Deuteronomy 7:25). The same reading was also most probably to be found in the sources employed by our author, who omitted it merely as being self-evident. In this way David fully avenged the disgrace brought upon Israel by the Philistines, when they carried away the ark in the time of Eli.
2 Samuel 5:22-25
Although thoroughly beaten, the Philistines soon appeared again to repair the defeat which they had suffered. As David had not followed up the victory, possibly because he was not sufficiently prepared, the Philistines assembled again in the valley of Rephaim.
2 Samuel 5:23
David inquired once more of the Lord what he was to do, and received this answer: “Thou shalt not go up (i.e., advance to meet the foe, and attack them in front); turn round behind them, and come upon them (attack them) opposite to the Baca-shrubs.” בּכאים , a word which only occurs here and in the parallel passage in 1 Chronicles 14:14, is rendered ἀπίους , pear-trees, by the lxx, and mulberry-trees by the Rabbins. But these are both of them uncertain conjectures. Baca, according to Abulfadl, is the name given in Arabic to a shrub which grows at Mecca and resembles the balsam, except that it has longer leaves and larger and rounder fruit, and from which, if a leaf be broken off, there flows a white pungent sap, like a white tear, which is all probability gave rise to the name בּכא = בּכה , to weep (vid., Celsii, Hierob. i. pp. 338ff., and Gesenius, Thes. p. 205).
2 Samuel 5:24
“And when thou hearest the rush of a going in the tops of the baca-shrubs, then bestir thyself,” or hasten; “for Jehovah has gone out before thee, to smite the army of the Philistines.” “The sound of a going,” i.e., of the advance of an army, was a significant sign of the approach of an army of God, which would smite the enemies of Jehovah and of His servant David; like the visions of Jacob (Genesis 32:2-3) and Elisha (2 Kings 6:17). “Then thou shalt bestir thyself,” lit. be sharp, i.e., active, quick: this is paraphrased in the Chronicles by “then thou shalt go out to battle.”
2 Samuel 5:25
David did this, and smote the Philistines from Geba to the neighbourhood of Gezer. In the Chronicles we find “from Gibeon ” instead of from Geba. The former is unquestionably the true reading, and Geba an error of the pen: for Geba, the present Jeba, was to the north of Jerusalem, and on the east of Ramah (see at Joshua 18:24); so that it is quite unsuitable here. But that is not the case with Gibeon, the present el Jib, on the north-west of Jerusalem (see at Joshua 9:3); for this was on the way to Gezer, which was four Roman miles to the north of Amws, and is probably to be sought for on the site of the present el Kubab (see at Joshua 10:33).
(Note: There is no force in the objection brought by Bertheau against this view, viz., that “it is a priori improbable that the Philistines who were fighting against David and his forces, whose base of operations was Jerusalem, should have taken possession of the whole line from Gibeon to Gezer,” as the improbability is by no means apparent, and has not been pointed out by Bertheau, whilst the assumption that Jerusalem was David's base of operations has no foundation whatever. Moreover, Bertheau's opinion, that Geba was the same as Gibeah in the tribe of Judah (Joshua 15:57), is decidedly erroneous: for this Gibeah is not to be identified with the present village of Jeba on the south side of the Wady Musurr, half-way between Shocoh and Jerusalem, but was situated towards the desert of Judah (see at Joshua 15:57); and besides, it is impossible to see how the Philistines, who had invaded the plain of Rephaim, could have been beaten from this Gibeah as far as to Gezer.)
The Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 5". Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany