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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical

2 Samuel 8

 

 

Verses 1-13

III. The splendid development of David’s royal rule without and within

2 Samuel 8-10

1. Without by wars and victories over Israel’s external enemies. 2 Samuel 8:1-14

1And after this it came to pass that David smote the Philistines and subdued [humbled] them; and David took Metheg-Ammah[FN1] out of the hand of the Philistines.

2And he smote Moab and measured them with a line, casting them down to [making them lie down on] the ground; even with two lines measured he [and he measured two lines] to put to death and with [om. with] one[FN2] full line to keep alive. And so [om. so] the Moabites became David’s servants and brought [bringing] gifts.

3David smote also [And David smote] Hadadezer[FN3] the son of Rehob, king of Zobah, as he went to recover his border at [to make an attack at[FN4]] the river Euphrates.[FN5] 4And David took from him a thousand chariots[FN6] and seven hundred horsemen and twenty thousand footmen; and David houghed all the chariot horses, but reserved of them for an hundred chariots.

5And when the Syrians[FN7] of Damascus came to succour Hadadezer king of Zobah, 6David slew of the Syrians two and twenty thousand men. Then [And] David put garrisons in Syria of Damascus, and the Syrians became servants to David and brought [bringing] gifts. And the Lord [Jehovah] preserved David whithersoever he went 7 And David took the shields[FN8] of gold that were on the servants of Hadadezer, and brought them to Jerusalem 8 And from Betah[FN9] and from Berothai, cities of Hadadezer, king David took exceeding much brass [copper].

9When [And] Toi king of Hamath heard that David had smitten all the host of 10 Hadadezer, Then [And] Toi sent Joram[FN10] his son unto king David, to salute him and to bless [congratulate] him, because he had fought against Hadadezer and smitten him; for Hadadezer had wars with Toi; and Joram brought with him [and in his hand were] vessels of silver and vessels of gold and vessels of brass [copper]. 11Which [These] also king David did dedicate unto the Lord [Jehovah] with the silver and gold that he had dedicated of all [ins. the] nations which he subdued, 12Of Syria[FN11] and of Moab and of the children of Ammon and of the Philistines and of Amalek and of the spoil of Hadadezer son of Rehob, king of Zobah.

13And David gat him a name when he returned from smiting of [om. of] the Syrians[FN12] in the valley of salt, being [om. being] eighteen thousand men. 14And he put garrisons in Edom; throughout all Edom put he garrisons, and all they of [om. they of] Edom became David’s servants. And the Lord [Jehovah] preserved David whithersoever he went.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

A general survey is here given of David’s wars and victories with the aid of the Lord ( 2 Samuel 8:6; 2 Samuel 8:14), without its being indicated, however (as is above observed), by the word “after this” that the wars here detailed were chronologically attached to the events of chap7, or that these wars were chronologically related to one another as the sequence of mention might seem to show. The phrase “after this” is the general formula of transition and connection, which introduces David’s wars grouped according to the factual point of view, and works them into the broad frame of the theocratic history. See a similar loose, not strictly chronological connection by this formula in 2 Samuel 10:1; 2 Samuel 13:1. The parallel section in 1 Chron. is chap18.

2 Samuel 8:1. The subjection of the Philistines. David not only defeated them in a battle, but also subjected them to his authority. He took out of their hand “the bridle of the mother”[FN13] (מֶתֶג הָאַמָּה metheg ha ammah). The Chronicler has for this “Gath and her daughters,” which words are to be accepted in explanation of our expression instead of giving place to vague conjectures. Ammah (אַמָּה, feminine formation from אֵם) = “mother-city;” so the capital city of a country is often called in Arabic and Phœnician, comp. Gesen. Thesaurus, p112, and our word “metropolis;” and the cities dependent on the capital city are called “daughters,” comp. Joshua 15:45; Joshua 15:47. Among the five chief cities of the Philistines ( 1 Samuel 6:16-17), Gath in Saul’s time already, as seat of a king who appears at the head of the Philistine princes ( 1 Samuel 27:2; 1 Samuel 29:2 sq.), had attained the rank of a capital of Philistia, whence the bridle of dominion was extended over the other cities and the whole people. [These notices do not seem sufficient in themselves to show a hegemony for Gath.—Tr.] The “bridle of the mother”—that Isaiah, according to Chron, the power and authority over Philistia concentrated in the metropolis, Gath, the mother with the “daughters,” or Philistine cities over which Gath exercised authority—David took possession of, he subjugated Philistia, and made it tributary, as the nations afterwards mentioned. The king of Gath mentioned in 1 Kings 2:39 belonged also to the tributary kings, subject to Song of Solomon, this side of the Euphrates, as far as Gaza ( 1 Kings 5:1; 1 Kings 5:4). So Gesenius, De Wette, Keil. Of other explanations of our phrase some do not accord with the meaning of the words, e. g., Schultens, Mich, Ewald render “arm-bridle,” but ammah does not mean “arm,” and Grotius gives claustra montis Ammœ—“the fortress of Mount Ammah,”—but metheg cannot mean “fortress.” Some do not agree with the actual condition of things, e. g., Bertheau explains, “he wrested from the Philistines the dominion that they had hitherto exercised over Israel,” but this does not agree with David’s dominion over Israel; and Böttcher takes ammah—(אֵם)—as meaning one that goes before and leads, and then in the abstract sense of leading, guidance, “the bridle of guidance,”—but “this would suit only if the setting aside of a hegemony were here spoken of” (Then.). Looking at the words of Chron, the Sept. (τὴν ἀφωρισμένην= “the separated, marked off”) and 1 Samuel 7:13-14, Thenius conjectures that the text has arisen by error of copyists from an original text, which contained a description (that cannot now be made out) of the boundary-district, which David then forever wrested from the Philistines. In the essence of the thing, this explanation agrees with that above given.

2 Samuel 8:2. The subjugation of the Moabites.—On the former friendly relation between the king of Moab and David, see 1 Samuel 22:3-4. The cause of Moab’s enmity against him is unknown. Perhaps meantime another king had come to the throne than he with whom David sought refuge and with his parents found hospitality. Probably in this war occurred what is mentioned in 1 Chronicles 11:22 of Benaiah, one of David’s heroes, that he slew two of the king of Moab’s sons. The severe punishment inflicted on the arms-bearing Moabites (they were compelled to lie in a row on the ground, two-thirds were measured with a line for death, and one-third for life) points to some very grave offence on their part. They thenceforward became David’s servants, that Isaiah, were subject to him and paid him tribute. [Patrick: Now was fulfilled the prophecy of Balaam, Numbers 24:17.—Tr.]

[=establish]. Which was the original reading cannot be determined. [The phrase in Sam. is a common one; that in Chron. (in the Heb.) is difficult and improbable.—Tr.] Against the rendering of Grot. and Cler.: “as he (David) went to force back his (Hadadezer’s) power towards the Euphrates” is the prep. “in, at” (בְּ) before “river,” and the change of persons in this subordinate sentence (Thenius). [Adopting the rendering suggested above, the reference may very well be to David as the subject: David going to make an attack at the Euphrates, was naturally opposed by the powerful Hadadezer; otherwise it is difficult to see how Hadadezer’s attack in this region could have brought him in contact with David.—Tr.] The Masora adds “Euphrates” after “river” [so Eng. A. V.],—which, however, is not necessary, since the word “the river” (הַנָּהָר) of itself means the Euphrates.[FN15] How important it must have been for David to rest his power on this side on the Euphrates is obvious. 2 Samuel 8:4. And David took (prisoners) from him1700 horsemen and20,000 footmen.—Chron. has7000 horsemen and1000 chariots. Here, therefore, the word “chariot” has fallen out, and the sign for seven thousand (ז̈) been changed to that for seven hundred (ן). The text of Chron. is the correct one; “for to20,000 footmen in the plains of Syria7000 horsemen is evidently better proportioned than1700” (Thenius). The1000 chariots also accords with the connection, “because afterward David is said to have houghed the chariot-horses” (Cler.). And David lamed all the riding-animals.—The word (רֶכֶב) means riding-animals in general, not merely chariot-horses (so Isaiah 21:7). These David made useless and harmless by cutting the sinews of their hind feet (יֲעקֵּר.—comp. Judges 11:6; Judges 11:9). It was a matter of importance to David to render useless not the chariots, but the horses. [He reserved a hundred horses not for war, but for a triumph or a guard; whether or not this reservation was illegal and ungodly is not said.—Tr.]

2 Samuel 8:5-8. The conquest of Aram-Damascus (the Syrians of Damascus). 2 Samuel 8:5. Aram-Damascus—that Isaiah, the Aramæans whose capital was Damascus (Chron. Darmesek, Sam. Dammesek)—east of the Antilibanon range, on the Chrysorrhoas (Pharpar) river, and on the great caravan-route from Central Asia to Western Asia. These Syrians of Damascus came as allies to the help of Hadadezer, attacking David from the north, but suffered a severe defeat, as appears from the fact that they lost22,000 men. [See Josephus’ reference here to the account of Nicolaus of Damascus (Ant. 7, 5, 2), who mentions a Syrian king Hadad beaten at the Euphrates by David (Then.).—Tr.]

2 Samuel 8:6. To hold them in subjection he placed posts, garrisons in their territory, comp. 1 Samuel 10:5; 1 Samuel 13:3. “He made them subject and tributary to him.” [Some render “officers” instead of “garrisons,” but hardly so well.—Tr.]

2 Samuel 8:7. “Shields” (שֶׁלֶט), not “armour,” comp. 2 Kings 11:10, Gesen, Thes. and Lex. by Dietrich. The golden shields of Hadadezer’s servants (that Isaiah, his immediate guard) David sent as booty to Jerusalem. The Sept. here has the additional statement: “And Susakim [Shishak] king of Egypt took them away when he went up against Jerusalem in the days of Roboam, son of Song of Solomon,” of which there is no trace in any other version or in Chron, and which there is no good reason for introducing into our text (against Thenius), since, by comparing 1 Chronicles 18:8 (where the use made of the copper is mentioned), and 1 Kings 14:25-27, it is clear how a translator or copyist from inexact observation of these passages might have been led to make such an addition to the text as marginal note or explanation. [Keil also points out that the shields carried off by Shishak were not these captured by David, but those made by Solomon.—Tr.]

[On copper in Canaan see Deuteronomy 8:9. Some centuries before this copper was carried in quantities from Syria to Egypt [Bib. Com.).—Tr.]—The loss of the Syrians in these battles was forty-two thousand men (comp. 2 Samuel 8:4-5). This number agrees with the statement of the loss in 2 Samuel 10:18 = forty thousand men. From this alone it is clear that the Aramæan war that is minutely related in 2 Samuel10 is the same as that here spoken of. It is to be further noted that the war against the Aramæans here related ends with their complete subjection ( 2 Samuel 8:6; 2 Samuel 8:9). Against the view that 2 Samuel10 narrates a second Aramæan war, wherein the subjugated Aramæans revolt when David becomes involved in war with the Ammonites, and help them against him, is the fact that in 2 Samuel10 nothing is said of such a revolt, the Syrians appearing as wholly independent of David and hiring their aid to the Ammonites ( 2 Samuel 10:6). Before the Aramæans could unite with these latter, Joab defeated them under Hadadezer; the latter called the Aramæans from beyond the Euphrates to his help in order to regain his power on the Euphrates, which was lost by that defeat, and they were now also defeated by David ( 2 Samuel 10:13-18). This explains our 2 Samuel 8:3 : “as he (Hadadezer) went to Revelation -establish his power at the river Phrath” (Luther). In the general view of David’s wars in 2 Samuel8 this Aramæan war is briefly related according to its issue under David’s lead. In 2 Samuel10 the Ammonitish war (here merely alluded to, 2 Samuel 8:12) is minutely related on account of the history of Uriah therewith connected; and as this war led to that with the Aramæans, the latter also, after the summary statement of it in 2 Samuel8, is fully narrated in 2 Samuel10 “The war with Ammon, whose development could not be understood without the Syrian, is more elaborately narrated (in 2 Samuel10.) for a special reason only, namely, for the sake of Uriah’s history, and is for this reason no doubt merely mentioned in the general view of all the great wars ( 2 Samuel 8:12), since otherwise its issue at least would necessarily have been described as fully as that of the Moabite war” (Ewald, Gesch. [Hist. of Israel] III:205). Comp. Keil’s Comm.,[Eng. Tr, p358 sq.]—According to 1 Chronicles 18:3 David’s decisive victory over the Aramæans was gained at Hamath, that Isaiah, Epiphania on the Orontes, a colony of the Canaanites ( Genesis 10:18), at the foot of Hermon, therefore on the western boundary of the district of Zobah, and on the northernmost border of Palestine, still one of the greatest cities of Turkish Asia, retaining its old name; according to 2 Samuel 10:17 the victory was gained at Helam, an unknown place; but this difference is insignificant, and may be removed by supposing either that Helam was near Hamath (Keil), or that the decisive combats occurred at both places at the same time.[FN16]

2 Samuel 8:9-10. King Toi of Hamath seeks a friendly alliance with David in consequence of the latter’s victory over the king of Zobah and his allies.—For Toi Chron. has Toü. When Toi heard that David had smitten all the host of Hadadezer (David’s victory was therefore a decisive one), he sent his son Joram (better Hadoram) to David. Chron, instead of Joram, has Hadoram, Joseph. Adoram, and Sept. Jeddouram; Hadoram (according to Mich, from Hador, the name of a Syrian deity, but see also Genesis 10:27; 1 Chronicles 1:21, where it is the name of an Arabian tribe) is to be regarded as the original reading, instead of the Heb. name Joram, which doubtless got into the text from similarity of sound by error of copying or of hearing [or, it is a Hebraization of a foreign name, as often happens.—Tr.]. The embassy was1) to greet David in Toi’s name, properly, to ask after his welfare, comp. Genesis 43:27; Genesis 43:2) to bless him, that Isaiah, to congratulate him on his victory over Hadadezer. The reason for this congratulation is given in the words: “for a man of wars of Toi was Hadadezer,” that Isaiah, Hadadezer carried on constant wars with Toi; Aq. and Sym. have “waging war” (πολεμῶν). On the phrase: “man of wars” = one whose call and business is warring, comp. 1 Chronicles 28:3; Isaiah 42:13. Since Hamath and Zobah bordered on one another, Toi was in constant danger of being entirely despoiled of his authority by Hadadezer, on whom he was perhaps in some degree dependent. Hence his congratulation of David as the expression of joy over the victory that freed him from a dangerous enemy, and of the wish to enter into a relation of friendship and alliance with the powerful victor, to which end he sent rich presents consisting of vessels of silver, of gold, and of copper. [For the forms of ancient Chaldean and Assyrian vessels see Rawlinson, Ancient Monarchies I:91, 386.—Tr.]

2 Samuel 8:11-12. David consecrates to the Lord all the booty of gold and silver taken from the conquered nations. David’s wars were wars of the Lord, in whose name he fought against the enemies of the chosen people, and led the people to victory. Therefore the booty belonged actually to the Lord. David affirmed this by separating it from profane use (this is the primary meaning of “dedicated,” הִקְדִּישׁ), and setting it apart for the Lord, that Isaiah, either in general he put it into the treasury of the sanctuary, or he determined that it should be used in making sacred vessels for the temple that was to be built. Instead of the second “dedicated” (הִקְדִּישׁ) Chron. has “took” (נָשָׂא), which gives the same sense.

2 Samuel 8:12. From Aram [-Syria] and from Moab and from the children of Ammon and from the Philistines and from Amalek and from the spoil of Hadadezer. Instead of Aram Chron. has Edom, and omits the words referring to Hadadezer, that Isaiah, makes no mention at all of the wars against Aram. But as in this enumeration of all David’s wars (as it obviously is) Aram could not, as it seems, be properly omitted, it might appear probable that we should read Aram in Chron. instead of Edom especially as the victory over Edom is not mentioned till afterwards. It might, however, be also supposed that “Aram” was omitted [in Chron.] because the booty taken from the Aramæans has just been spoken of, and the further mention of booty from other nations was attached immediately to that statement. On the other hand it is not necessary (with Keil) to suppose a gap in our text after “Aram,” that is to be filled with “from Edom.” It may be supposed that, as the Chronicler did not mention Aram because he had spoken of it just before, so our narrator did not include Edom because he intended to speak of the victory over the Edomites immediately afterwards. [On this reading see “Text. and Gram.” As Edom is geographically connected with Moab and Ammon, and as the spoil of the Syrian Hadadezer is mentioned at the end of the verse, it seems better (with Bib. Com.) to read Edom for Aram; though the Aram of our text might refer to the Syrians of Damascus (so Gill).—Tr.]

2 Samuel 8:13-14. Conquest of Edom. Comp. 1 Chronicles 18:12-13, where it is said that Abishai, the son of Zeruiah, smote the Edomites in the valley of salt, eighteen thousand men, and the statements in Psalm 60:2 [superscription] and 1 Kings 11:15, which vary from this in minor points.

2 Samuel 8:13. And David made himself a name. Against the rendering “he set up a monument” is the fact that such a statement could not have been made here without reference to the Lord and indication of the place, and that it is wholly irreconcilable with David’s disposition that he should here set up a monument to himself. The proper translation is: “made himself a name” (comp. Genesis 11:4; Genesis 21:1) gained renown (so the Vulg.), 2 Samuel 7:9, “I have made thee a great name,” etc., is not in contradiction with this, for it points out the divine causality in David’s glorious military career as contrasted with its human side.—The glory of his name was exalted still more by another splendid achievement. As he returned from the battle against Aram, literally, from smiting Aram. The connection alone naturally suggests that the Aramæan wars related above are here meant. But our text affirms David made himself a name by a new victory over Aram in the valley of salt. The text is here obviously incomplete. The words “in the valley of salt” cannot be connected with what here precedes, since a battle with the Aramæans in this valley, which lay on the ancient border of Judah and Edom in the Edomite territory south of the Dead Sea, is out of the question. Before these words we must insert “and he smote Edom,” which may easily have fallen out in copying through the similarity of Edom and Aram (אדם and ארם). Sept: “he smote Idumea.” [Or, we may read Edom instead of Aram (Syria), comp. 1 Chronicles 18:12, and see “Text. and Gram.”—Tr.] David’s wars in the north against the Aramæans and Ammonites had led the Edomites to fancy that they might easily get possession of the southern part of the Israelitish territory. When David had ended those wars, he returned (the word “returned” does not refer to Joab (Ew.)—see below). Whether he returned on the east or west of the Jordan and the Dead Sea is uncertain. The battle with the Edomites was then fought in the salt valley, the same place where Amaziah afterwards conquered the Edomites ( 2 Kings 14:7). The Edomites lost eighteen thousand men; so also Chron. But in Chron. the battle is fought not by David himself, but by Abishai, the son of Zeruiah, and in 1 Kings 11:15 and in Psalm 60:2 [superscription] by Joab. There are here no real contradictions, since in different reports (for Exodus, in the last German-French war) the same battles are referred to different leaders, in one to the Fieldmarshal, in another to his subordinate Generals, in still another to the Generalissimo himself. Abishai, who in the Syrian-Ammonitish war commanded a division of David’s army under Joab, was the conqueror of the Edomites, while Joab was General-in-chief, and David had control of the whole military operation. Michaelis: “David as king, Joab as chief commander, and Abishai, who was sent forward by his brother, and overthrew the enemy.” Only incapacity to conceive such affairs in their reality and manifoldness can find a discrepancy here. For the rest it is to be noted that the Chronicler, though he names Abishai as leader in this victory, was at the same time thinking of David as the conqueror (in accord with our passage), since he adds: “And the Lord helped David in all his undertakings.” The difference in numbers also (here and in Chron. eighteen thousand, in Psalm 60. twelve thousand) is unimportant; there is no need to suppose an error of copyist in the last passage (Ew.) to explain it. It receives a simple explanation from the various statements about the battle in different authorities. In the last German-French war the reports of the numbers of killed or prisoners often differed by thousands. How much more might such differences arise at a time when so exact countings were not provided for. [Bp. Patrick suggests that Abishai began the fight and slew six thousand, and then Joab, advancing with his reserve, slew twelve thousand more (so Psalm 60). It is impossible to give a certain explanation of the difference.—Tr.] David put garrisons in all Edom (not in Chron). Thenius supposes the reason of the special emphatic statement here (comp. 2 Samuel 8:6), that no part of Edom was left without a garrison, to be that this was not the case in former campaigns against Edom (see for ex. 1 Samuel 14:47). But the explanation lies rather in the numerous mountains, caves and gorges of the country, which made a complete garrisoning necessary.—Thus had David overthrown the huge column of nations that were dangerous to Israel from north to south, and on its ruins founded his dominion.

HISTORICAL AND THEOLOGICAL

1. In all his wars and victories over Israel’s enemies David, as theocratic king, was only the instrument of the Lord, who Himself waged these wars for His people. Therefore in his royal military calling David knows himself also only as servant of the Lord, to whom, as the true Commander, he consecrates and dedicates the booty gained. And the prophetical narrative can say nothing higher of David than that he performed these splendid deeds of arms through the help of the Lord ( 2 Samuel 8:6; 2 Samuel 8:14). But in these victories over the enemies of God’s people was fulfilled the Lord’s promise ( 2 Samuel 7:10-11), trusting in which David could advance to battle prepared for war and certain of victory.

2. David’s royal calling was to be fulfilled chiefly in wars and victories over Israel’s enemies, in order that the kingdom of God in Israel might attain its unhindered, theocratic-national full development of form. But from this historical basis is subsequently developed the idea of the theocratic kingdom as a mighty and powerful one that victoriously combats the enemies of the theocracy, and makes them subservient to the divine might and power. On this is then built up the Messianic prophecy of the future king, who in divine might and glory will complete the kingdom of God by the thorough conquest of all its enemies, establish God’s universal dominion in the people of God redeemed from the world-powers, and dispense God’s blessing under His protection and pastoral fidelity. Compare especially Psalm 2, 72, 110, which in their historical foundation and fundamental ideas are unintelligible without the history of David’s wars and victories (ch8.) that lays the foundation both for the Messianic prophecy and for the promise in ch7.

3. Under the guidance of Psalm 60—which refers to the impending new war with the Edomite (after the glorious conclusion of the Syrian-Ammonite war) and to Israel’s new danger from their inroad (Delitzsch, Moll), not to the situation after the victory over Edom in the Salt-valley (Hengst.)—it is possible to follow the ups and downs of David’s thoughts under the experiences of this time and afterwards in his recollection of its trials and God’s gracious manifestations, and to exhibit the truths therein contained that hold good for God’s kingdom in all times. After the days of mighty manifestations of divine help there have come for God’s people times of great distress within and without, not, however, by chance, by a necessary natural process or by unavertable fate, but immediately from the Lord. The deep powerful feeling of the absolute dependence of all human life on the Lord permits no lament over calamity, without accompanying declaration that the Lord has sent it according to His unsearchable counsel, and without giving Him the glory by the confession: “This hath the Lord done!” So David’s lament in Psalm 60:3-5, 1–3] is such a declaration and confession of the Lord’s omnipotent power in the infliction of severe sufferings and great dangers on His people. “O God, thou hast cast us off, thou hast scattered us, made the land tremble and broken it, hast made thy people see hard things, etc.”—But with such lament and confession is connected in the pious heart the living remembrance of God’s former manifestations of favor in His promises, as the banner that is raised by the Lord for them that fear Him. Thereby has the Lord Himself given His assailed ones the right to remind Him of His promises, and so the lament changes into the prayer: Help, answer us! ( Psalm 60:6-7, 4, 5]). Praying faith hears the divine answer in the might-displaying word of the living God (“God hath spoken in His holiness”) wherein He announces Himself as the unlimited Owner and Lord of His land and people, and as the victorious opponent and sovereign of their enemies. These are the two fundamental truths that the history of God’s kingdom everywhere affirms and confirms: the Lord acknowledges His people (as His possession) with His promises and their fulfilment; and the enemies of God’s kingdom and people will not be able to elude His power, but must submit to it ( Psalm 60:8-10, 6–8]). But in how sharp contradiction of such divine promises is the actual condition of God’s people in the world? “Hast thou not cast us off?” Dost thou not go forth with our hosts? ( Psalm 60:11-12, 9, 10]). [The translation of the Eng. A. V. is also possible, and gives the same general sense.—Tr.]. The above lament is repeated in such a question, which arises from the involuntary comparison of the present straitened condition of God’s kingdom and people with the majestic declaration of God that promises victory and dominion over all enemies. This sharp dissonance must penetrate deep into the heart of God’s servant when he sees with equal vividness and clearness both the rich promises of God and the needs and straits of God’s kingdom. But it is resolved into all the more pressing entreaty and prayer for the divine help and into the twofold confident avowal and confession: 1) In God we shall show our power, that Isaiah, carry off the victory, and2) God the Lord, who is in His people, will through them destroy the power of the enemy ( Psalm 60:13, 14 [ Psalm 60:11-12]). The Psalm ceases with the same twofold ground-tone that sounds through 2 Samuel8. David made himself a name by his victories over his enemies, and the Lord helped him whithersoever he went.

Nearly related to Psalm 60. is Psalm 44,[FN17] which similarly presupposes the affliction of God’s people and the danger of their conquest and dispersion by the hostile neighboring nations. Through the Lord’s help to the fathers when the land was taken possession of ( Psalm 44:2-4, 1–3]) is awakened and sustained faith that the same God, as king of His people, will now also grant His people victory over their enemies ( Psalm 44:5-8, 4–7]), so that they shall forever thank Him as they have hitherto boasted of Him ( Psalm 44:9, 8]). But in contradiction of this tradition of divine help in the olden time and of this confidence is the present overthrow and distress of the people ( Psalm 44:10-17, 9–16]) which is felt all the more deeply in view of the people’s faithfulness to the covenant, as the omniscient God knows ( Psalm 44:18-22, 17–21]). But the consciousness of undeserved sufferings and afflictions leads to the profounder conviction that such sufferings, inflicted by the Lord, must be endured for the Lord’s sake, since the enmity towards the Lord’s people is directed against the Lord Himself ( Psalm 44:23, 22]). Therewith, however, is connected also the hope of God’s people, as expressed in their prayer that the Lord would arise from His inactivity and espouse His people’s cause. The ground of this hope and prayer lies in their need of help and in the free grace of God. Psalm 44, being thus similar to Psalm 60. in its course of thought and its historical presuppositions, most probably belongs to the time of affliction expressly designated in Psalm 60, when the Edomites sorely pressed Israel; comp. Amos 1:6. The frightful castigation that Joab inflicted on them ( 1 Kings 11:15) intimates the greatness of the suffering that they had prepared for Israel, and thus serves indirectly to confirm the historical circumstances presupposed in these two Psalm.—In Psalm 108. we find a repetition of Psalm 60:7-12, 5–12]) loosely combined with another Psalm -fragment Psalm 57:8-11, 7–11]).

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

War is right and a duty before God, when the object Isaiah 1) To guard God’s law and order against hostile power; 2) To preserve gifts and goods granted by God; 3) To fulfil tasks assigned by God; 4) To carry out the clearly recognized plans of God’s wisdom.

2 Samuel 8:1. Schlier: We see here … how it still is at the present day with wars in the world, what righteous and unrighteous wars properly are, but also what wars always ought to be.

2 Samuel 8:2. Tueb. Bible: To pious kings God gives victory and glory. Proverbs 20:28.—Osiander: That is the most glorious victory and the most fortunate government, when the conquered enemies do not hate the conqueror, but hold him in honor and render him willing obedience.

2 Samuel 8:3-4. Osiander: If the mightiest foes could not subdue David, so too no human power will extirpate the kingdom of Christ.—S. Schmid: Against God and those who trust in God no human might avails ( Proverbs 29:25). When the kingdom of God is the object of attack, the ungodly are somewhat united and help each other, while at other times they are against each other ( Luke 23:12; Acts 4:27).

2 Samuel 8:6. Cramer: The heathen also must bring gold and gifts ( Isaiah 60:6), and willingly offer to him in holy attire.

2 Samuel 8:9-13. A beautiful emblem of the fact that many among the heathen also shall willingly turn to Christ.—Starke: God’s promises, though it be late, are yet truly and surely fulfilled ( Genesis 25:23).[FN18] If God gives to us, we should also give to Him again. But we give to Him again when we do good to His children and servants.—Schlier: How well it would be if all rulers and warlike heroes never had their eye on themselves, but always and only on the honor of the Lord, if all happened to the Lord’s honor alone, if all honor were given only to the Lord, if all booty were spent only for the service of the Lord and never for display and pride.

[ 2 Samuel 8:2. David is at the present day often charged with great cruelty for slaying so many of the Moabites; but to most of his contemporaries, friend and foe, it probably seemed a hazardous leniency to spare a full third. The Asiatic rulers have always inclined to what we should regard as extreme severity in punishment; but no man has ever been able to rule long in Asia without such punishments, at least to the extent of making examples, as David did here and in 2 Samuel 12:31. Is there not danger in the Christendom of to-day that we shall go to the opposite extreme, that mercy to criminals will be carried so far as to become cruelty to society?

2 Samuel 8:3. Only once, and for a brief season, did the children of Abraham possess the whole region promised to him, Genesis 15:18. During all the centuries it was theirs by right through God’s gift; but it was not theirs by possession through their own fault. In like manner, how seldom does national or individual life and character reach up to the height of its heaven-permitted possibilities.—Tr.]

[ 2 Samuel 8:6; 2 Samuel 8:14. I. How trying a life David was leading, in its exertions, hardships, perils. II. How blessed a life amid it all, since the Lord preserved him whithersoever he went!

2 Samuel 8:10-11. It is the lot of many who wish to be greatly useful that they can but gather materials and devise plans, leaving it for others to build and rejoice. Men forget the former class, but God does not. We speak only of Solomon’s Temple; but in the eye of God it was David’s Temple too. Does one long for a different task, and feel tempted to repine? That which God assigns will be best for us, if we waste not life in dreaming of some other lot, but faithfully stand where He puts us.—Tr.]

[ 2 Samuel 8:1-13. Lessons from David’s years of warfare. 1) A pious man may have many enemies2) A pious man may be required to spend much of his life in war3) A pious man may be compelled to inflict severe punishments ( 2 Samuel 9:2). 4) A pious Prayer of Manasseh, even though not always prospered or preserved ( 2 Samuel 8:6; 2 Samuel 8:14) is always guided and blessed5) A pious man will rejoice to consecrate the richest results of his struggles and toils unto God ( 2 Samuel 8:10-11).—Tr.]

2. David’s Internal Government: Organization of the Administration of the Kingdom ( 2 Samuel 8:15-18) and Magnanimous Exhibition of Royal Favor to the Sunken House of Saul.—Mephibosheth. Chapter 2 Samuel 8:1-13.

a. The Administration of the Kingdom and David’s Officers 2 Samuel 8:15-18

15And David reigned over all Israel, and David executed judgment and justice unto all his people 16 And Joab the son of Zeruiah was over the host; and Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was recorder; 17And Zadok the son of Ahitub and Ahimelech the son of Abiathar [Abiathar the son of Ahimelech][FN19] were the priests; and Seraiah[FN20] was the [om. the] scribe; 18And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over[FN21] both [om. both] the Cherethites and the Pelethites; and David’s sons were chief rulers.[FN22]

b. David’s Magnanimity toward Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s Son. 2 Samuel 9:1-13.

1And David said, Is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake? 2And there was of the house of Saul a servant whose name was Ziba. And when they had called [And they called] him unto David [ins. and] the king said unto him, Art thou Ziba? And he said, Thy servant is Hebrews 3 And the king said, Is there not yet any of the house of Saul that I may show the kindness of God unto him? And Ziba said unto the king, Jonathan hath yet a son [There is yet a son of Jonathan] which is [om. which is] lame on4[in] his feet. And the king said unto him, Where is he? And Ziba said unto the king, Behold he is in the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel in Lodebar.

5Then [And] king David sent and fetched him out of the house of Machir, the 6 son of Ammiel, from Lodebar. Now when [And] Mephibosheth[FN23] the son of Jonathan the son of Saul was come [came] unto David he fell [and fell] on his face and did reverence. And David said, Mephibosheth. And he answered [said], Behold thy servant! 7And David said unto him, Fear not, for I will surely shew [show] thee kindness for Jonathan thy father’s sake, and will restore thee all the land of Saul thy father, and thou shaft eat bread at my table continually 8 And he bowed himself and said, What is thy servant, that thou shouldest look upon such a dead dog as I am?

9Then [And] the king called to Ziba Saul’s servant and said unto him, I have 10 given unto thy master’s son all that pertained to Saul and to all his house. Thou therefore [And thou] and thy sons and thy servants shall till the land for him, and thou shalt bring in the fruits that thy master’s son may have food [bring thy master’s son food][FN24] to eat; but [and] Mephibosheth thy master’s son shall eat bread alway at my table. Now [And] Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants 11 Then said Ziba [And Ziba said] unto the king, According to all that my lord the king hath commanded his servant so shall thy servant do. As for Mephibosheth, said the king,[FN25] he shall eat at my table as one of the king’s sons 12 And Mephibosheth had a young son whose name was Micha. And all that dwelt in the house 13 of Ziba were servants unto Mephibosheth. So [And] Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem; for he did eat continually at the king’s table; and [ins. he] was lame on [in] both his feet.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

a. 2 Samuel 8:15-18. The internal administration of the kingdom. Alongside of David’s military activity without is here placed the new summary view of the offices and their incumbents, whereby a unitary administration, embracing all the internal affairs of the kingdom was carried on.

2 Samuel 8:15. To David’s wars, which gained him safety from enemies and dominion over Israel is here attached a general characterization of his government in its inward nature. He was executing, that Isaiah, striving in all things thoroughly to establish judgment and justice in the whole nation.—According to this point of view he ordered and administered the affairs of the kingdom through the following offices, the names of the incumbents of which are given.

2 Samuel 8:16. 1) Joab was over the host, had the supreme command of the army, was Minister of war and Chief Marshal in one. See 2 Samuel 2:18. 2) Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud (Ahilud was a well-known man) was Mazkir (מַזְכִּיר), that Isaiah, not the recorder and preserver of the most important events of the kingdom, as Vulg. (a commentariis) and Sept. (ἐπὶ τῶν ὑπομνημάτων [keeper of the records]) understand it, but the referee in all internal affairs and highest representative counsellor, the Chancellor, who at the same time suggested and drew up the royal decrees and saw to their proper publication and registration in the State-archives. Comp. Œhler in Herzog. VIII:15. [For further mention of this office see 1 Kings 4:3; 2 Kings 18:18; 2 Kings 18:37; 2 Chronicles 34:8. It is evident that the office was a very important one; and from the etymology (the word = one who calls to remembrance) it seems not unlikely that it included the recording of important events. It would thus sufficiently differ from that of Sopher (Scribe or Secretary), which would be more personal and political. Gesenius and others refer to the Roman Magister memoriœ and the Persian Waka Nuwis (imperial historiographer). In the absence of any English term exactly representing the Hebrew, the “recorder” of Eng. A. V. may be retained.—Tr.].

2 Samuel 8:17. Zadok the son of Ahitub and Ahimelech the son of Abiathar were priests (= high-priests). Zadok here appears for the first time; he therefore did not become high-priest till after David’s accession to the throne. Through his father, Ahitub, he was a descendant of Aaron’s son Eleazar ( 1 Chronicles 5:29 compared with 1 Chr5:34 and 1 Chronicles 6:35-37); Ahimelech on the contrary descended through Abiathar from Ithamar, Aaron’s younger Song of Solomon, 1 Chronicles 24:3; 1 Chronicles 24:6. The “Abimelech” in 1 Chronicles 18:16 is an error of copyist, since we have “Ahimelech” also in 1 Chronicles 24:3; 1 Chronicles 24:6. Elsewhere, however, the two high-priests in David’s time are given as Zadok and Abiathar ( 2 Samuel 15:24; 2 Samuel 15:35; 2 Samuel 17:15; 2 Samuel 19:12; 2 Samuel 20:25), and according to 1 Samuel 22:20, Abiathar was a son of Ahimelech. Movers, Thenius, Ewald, hence suppose an inversion of names here, so that we should read: Abiathar, son of Ahimelech. But in that case we should have to suppose a similar inversion, so far as regards the change of Ahimelech to Abiathar in 1 Chronicles 24:3; 1 Chronicles 24:6; 1 Chronicles 24:31, passages quite independent of ours, where Ahimelech, as son of Abiathar appears as high-priest of Ithamar’s line alongside of Zadok, who is of Eleazar’s line. Instead of this violent procedure Bertheau (on 1 Chronicles 18:16), Œhler, Keil, and others, suggest that Abiathar, son of Ahimelech, had a son of the same name as his grandfather, and that Hebrews, for some reason unknown to us, acted as high-priest along with his father who was still living at the beginning of Solomon’s reign ( 1 Kings 2:27). That he might have had such a son of proper age is to be presumed from 1 Samuel 14:3. According to 2 Samuel 15:27; 2 Samuel 17:17; 2 Samuel 17:20, Abiathar had a younger son Jonathan, who afterwards joined Adonijah against Solomon [ 1 Kings 1:42], while Ahimelech is mentioned neither there nor here, perhaps because he was no longer alive. But this suggestion is open to grave doubts, not merely because an Ahimelech son of Abiathar appears nowhere but here and in the passages cited from Chron, but especially because elsewhere Zadok and Abiathar appear as the acting priests [=high-priests] under David. There remains the supposition of a historical error (instead of an error of copyist) in the authority used here and in 1 Chronicles 24:3; 1 Chronicles 24:6; 1 Chronicles 24:31, the author of the original account having reversed the order of the names. [This supposition of Erdmann’s seems the most improbable of all here cited; error in such a point can hardly be supposed in the author of “Samuel,” with 1 Samuel22. and the rest of the history before him. An error in copying easily perpetuates itself, though we cannot always explain how it arose, and how it comes to reappear in certain places and not in others.—Still less probable is the opinion of Geiger (Urschrift, p21) and Well-hausen that there are here traces of a systematic attempt to exalt the line of Eleazar (Zadokites) at the expense of the house of Ithamar; that an “Ahitub” should occur several times is not strange or suspicious, and the whole tone of the history is quiet and natural, showing no signs of distortion and tendentious manipulation. There seems to be no sound objection to supposing an inversion of these names here by a scribe’s error. See “Text, and Gram.”—Tr.].—Zadok acted as high-priest in Gibeon ( 1 Chronicles 16:39; comp. 1 Kings 3:4) at the Sanctuary, the other in Jerusalem.—4) Seraiah was scribe (Sopher), State Secretary, not a military muster-officer, for this is designated by another word (פָּקַד), see 2 Samuel 24:2; 2 Samuel 24:4; 2 Samuel 24:9. Comp. Œhler (Herz. VIII:15) and Keil. [So in 2 Kings 25:19 a certain military officer is termed “the scribe (sopher), the captain of the army, who levied the people,” or, perhaps (as in margin of Eng. A. V.) “the scribe of the captain of the army. It is possible that the Sopher combined civil and military duties; it has also been supposed (though there is no proof of it) that there were two officers called Sopher, one civil and military (as here), the other ecclesiastical.—Tr.].—The name of this man in 1 Chronicles 18:16 is Sharsha, in 2 Samuel 20:25 Sheya [Eng. A. V. has the marginal (Qeri) Sheva] and in 1 Kings 4:3 (where the same person is meant) Shisha. According to this, Sheya[FN26] seems to be a shortened form of Shisha = Shavsha, and the latter, along with Seraiah, a second name of the same person. Possibly, however, the difference came from scribal error or indistinctness of letters, whichever was the original form.

2 Samuel 8:18. 5) Benaiah the son of Jehoiada (a mighty warrior of Kabzeel, 2 Samuel 23:20-23) was over the Cherethites and the Pelethites (we are to read “over” instead of the unintelligible masoretic “and,” as in the parallel passage in Chron.). These two names designate the royal body-guard attached to the king’s court and person (Jos. Ant7, 5, 4 σωματοφύλακες). The name Cherethite is to be derived from a verb (כָּרַת) meaning “to cut down, destroy,” it having been the duty of royal guards in the East to execute the death-sentence; so did Benaiah in 1 Kings 2:25. Pelethites, from a verb (פָלַת), “to hasten, flee,” means “runners,” the men of the bodyguard having had to carry the royal orders swiftly to distant places. Comp. 2 Chronicles 30:6. In the parallel passage 2 Samuel 20:23 instead of Kerethi [Cherethi] stands Kari (from כוּר, “to dig”), and in 2 Kings 11:4; 2 Kings 11:19, for the whole phrase stands: “the Kari and the runners;” that Isaiah, Pelethites = runners. So Gesen. (Thes. s. v.), Then. (here and on 1 Kings 1:38; 2 Kings 11:12) and Keil (here and on Chron.). The words are adjectives (formed by י) with substantival meaning, designating offices, properly “executioners and runners” (as the שָלִישִׁיּ in 2 Samuel 23:8 [Eng. A. V. “captains”]). Comp. Ew, § 177, 164.—Opposed to this explanation is another, first advanced by Lakenmacher (observ. philolog. II:11 seq.), and then defended by Ew, Berth, Mov, Hitzig, Starke, Rütschi and others, namely, that the Kerethi = Cretes or Carians (כרי), and the Pelethi = Philistines, since the latter are called Kerethi in 1 Samuel 30:14; Zephaniah 2:5; Ezekiel 25:16. But in the first passage the name designates not the Philistines in general, but a branch of the Philistine people settled in the southwest of Philistia, and in the two prophetic passages the name “Philistines” stands along with this name (Kerethi), which characterizes them as murderers, exterminators. Further, the view that Pelethi is corrupted from Philistines (פְּלֵתִי from פְּלִשְׁתִּים) is to be rejected as “wholly without foundation” (so Keil after Gesen.: “who can endure such a contraction in a Shemitic language?”). If Kerethi and Pelethi both mean Philistines, the application of two synonymous words to the royal body-guard is as strange as if one should combine “Englishmen and Britons, Italians and Welshmen”[FN27] (Gesen.). Against this view, moreover, is the later designation “Kari and runners,” whence Pelethi = runners. Besides, the conjecture that the Philistines immigrated from Crete rests on the indefinite statements of Tacitus (Hist. 5, 1, 2): “they say that the Jews fled from the island of Crete, and settled in the extreme parts of Libya,” and of Stephanus of Byzantium (s. v. Γαζά) that this city [Gaza] was once called Minoa after Minos king of Crete, to which are opposed Deuteronomy 2:23; Amos 9:7, which state that the Philistines came from Caphtor. See Keil, Comm. 266 A1 [Eng. transl, p368 Note]. Further, as Thenius remarks, “it is altogther improbable that the patriotic David, so faithful to the service of the one true God, should have surrounded himself with a foreign and heathen body guard,” to which Keil (ubi supra) admirably adds against Hitzig: “Least of all would David have chosen his bodyguard out of the Philistines, the hereditary enemies of Israel.”—[The ancient versions throw little light on these words. Sept. and Vulg. transfer them; Syriac has “nobles and rustics (Lond. Polyg. soldiers),” Chald. “archers and slingers.”—There are strong reasons for holding them to be not appellatives (as Ges. and Erdm.) but gentile nouns: 1) the grammatical form of the words (Krethi, Plethi) points to this; the termination i is used in Heb. to form patronymics and gentilics, and besides to form nouns only from other nouns (sub. or adj.) or adverbs, that Isaiah, in general it forms denominative nouns; it cannot, then, be here well referred to verbal roots, as Gesenius and others wish, but must form a denominative, which here cannot well be anything but a gentilic noun; the shalishi of 2 Samuel 23:8, cited by Erdmann, being a denominative, does not favor his view; 2) in 1 Samuel 30:14 one of these words, Krethi, actually denotes a Philistine tribe, or a tribe dwelling near Philistia; this establishes the fact that it was the name of a tribe, while of any other use there is no established trace in the Bible; for so also it is used in Ezekiel 25:16 and Zephaniah 2:5, where there is no reason to hold that anything else than the gentilic sense is meant, Ezekiel simply making a play on the name, as is very common in the prophetic writings; 3) add to this that if these words were appellatives signifying “executioners and runners,” it is not easy to see why the common Heb. words for these offices were not employed, and why our words appear only in David’s time (Rüetschi).—These reasons seem almost decisive for regarding these as proper names (without saying anything of their origin and signification).—The objections urged against this view by Keil and Erdmann seem insufficient to set it aside: a) the objection from synonymous names rests on the assumption that both words must be taken as = Philistines; but, as Erdmann himself remarks, the Krethi are only a tribe living in or near the Philistine territory, and the Plethi may be another different tribe or family possibly not Philistines at all; b) it is thought that the later phrase “the kari and the runners” ( 2 Kings 11:4; 2 Kings 11:19) establishes the fact that plethi = “runners,” and that one of our words being an appellative, the other also must be appellative; but that the common Heb. word for “runners or footmen” should be used in Athaliah’s time (as in Saul’s, 1 Samuel 22:17, and of Absalom and Adonijah) cannot prove that David did not have a special body of guards with a special gentilic name, even supposing the phrase in 1 Kings11. to be parallel with ours, which is by no means certain; if the Plethi were runners, it does not follow that the word itself means “runner’s;” nor is it clear whether the Kari (Eng. A. V. incorrectly “captains”) are the same with the Krethi (in 2 Samuel 20:23 the text has Kari, the margin Krethi), rather the word is another proper name (Carians or some other); c) David’s patriotism and piety would be no bar to his taking a body-guard from neighboring tribes, among whom he had probably passed a part of his time of exile, and had many friends (compare Uriah, Ittai, and other foreigners), nor were such men necessarily heathen because they were foreigners, many foreigners having attached themselves to the religion of Israel.—As to the origin of the names Krethi and Plethi there is much uncertainty. The first is identified with Cretan by those that think Caphtor ( Genesis 10:14, Deuteronomy 2:23) to be Crete, but against this Ebers has brought strong reasons (Ægypt. I:130 sq.); however, independently of any reference to Caphtor, a tribe may have come from Crete and settled on the Mediterranean shore. The connection of Kari with Carian, while not improbable in itself, is yet unproved. The identification of the second name Plethi with Plishti or Philistine (by the falling out of the s letter) is hard and improbable; Bp. Patrick thinks it likely that the name designated an Israelitish family, and refers to the Reubenite Peleth, Numbers 16:1, and the Judahite of the same name, 1 Chronicles 2:33; Abarbanel (cited and approved by Philippson) regards both words as names of Israelitish families. At present we must be content to remain in ignorance of the origin of the names.—Tr.][FN28] 6) And David’s sons were confidential counsellors. As Movers (Bibl. Chron. 302sq.) has shown, the word cohen [usually = priest] does not here mean “domestic chaplains, palace-priests, unlevitical spiritual advisers” (Gesen, De Wette, Winer, Maurer, and others), but “confidential counsellor,” according to 1 Kings 4:5, where the same term applied to Sabud, son of Nathan [Eng. A. V. “principal officer”] is explained by the phrase “the king’s friend.” [This phrase is not necessarily an explanation of the term cohen, but may be simply another descriptive epithet.—Tr.]. The periphrastic expression in 1 Chronicles 18:17 “the first [chief] at the hand (side) of the king” points to the same signification. According to Kimchi the verb (כִהֵן) means “to serve in an office of dignity;” according to Grotius, “to do service, whence the participle in reference to God means a priest, in reference to the king a minister.” [This seems to be the most probable statement from the examples in the Old Test, the rendering of Sept, Syr. and Chald. here, and the opinion of the Talmud (Bab, Nedarim62 a) and the rabbinical writers. The fullest discussions are by J. D. Michaelis, Supplem. in Lex. Heb., and Gesenius, Thes. s. v. Our data are hardly sufficient to enable us to speak with certainty of the original meaning of the word.—Tr.]

The list of officers ( 2 Samuel 8:16-18) is here appended to the statistical-historical account of David’s wars in order to conclude the history of David’s royal rule at its culmination with a glance at the internal administration of the kingdom. It can no more be conclusively decided from this that the Editor here incorporates into his account a [different] history of David (Thenius) than in the similar passage, 1 Samuel 14. It is a list of the high officers of state that stood by him in the internal administration of the kingdom at the moment when he had secured it against “the enemies roundabout,” and extended it by victories over them, and could now undisturbed give attention to its internal strengthening and organization. The list in 2 Samuel 20:23-26, on the contrary, gives the list of officers as it stood in his last days after the internal shocks that his government had sustained.

b. Ch9 David’s magnanimous conduct towards Mephibosheth. As Mephibosheth was five years old at Saul’s death ( 2 Samuel 4:4), and now had a young son ( 2 Samuel 5:12), what is here related cannot be put immediately after David’s removal to Jerusalem or Ishbosheth’s murder ( 2 Samuel 4) (as Then, would do on account of David’s words, “is there left any of Saul’s house?” which might indeed have been spoken with reference to that murder), but belongs to a later period, when David had secured his kingdom within and raised it to its zenith by external wars. These words indicate that David after long wars was had now found a time of quiet to attend to internal affairs, among the most important of which must have been the fulfilment of his covenant of friendship with Jonathan. The narrative shows how he fulfilled Jonathan’s request ( 1 Samuel 20:15), and his own answering promise with royal grace and magnanimity.

2 Samuel 9:1 David’s question: Is it so that there is yet any one left to[FN29] Saul’s house? presupposes that he had made inquiry and gotten information thereof, and now wished to assure himself of what he had heard. He had perhaps some time before accidentally heard of the concealed abode of the unfortunate last scion of Saul’s house in a remote place ( 2 Samuel 9:5). The words: That I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake refer to Jonathan’s words, 1 Samuel 20:14-15 (“show me the mercy of the Lord,” etc.).[FN30]

2 Samuel 9:2. A former servant of Saul, Ziba, gives exacter information of the person and the place. [Kitto in Daily Bib. Ill. thinks it improbable that David knew any thing of the existence of a son of Jonathan, or that he would recognize him under his altered name (Mephibosheth instead of Meribbaal); Ziba was probably known to some of David’s officers and hunted up by them.—Tr.] In David’s question to him ( 2 Samuel 9:3): Is there no one, etc., that I may show him the mercy of God? the term mercy or kindness ( 2 Samuel 9:1) is more exactly defined as a kindness such as God Himself shows; and this agrees again with Jonathan’s mention ( 1 Samuel 20:14) of the “kindness of God,” which he begs David to show to him and his house. [Others understand it of kindness in God, out of reverence for God, for God’s sake (Keil), or take the expression as merely a superlative one = very great kindness (Patrick), others combine these three views, and this is better; kindness shown from an indwelling in God will be pure and great kindness such as God shows.—Tr.] According to Ziba’s information [ 2 Samuel 9:3-4] Jonathan’s lame son is in Lodebar in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel. Lodebar (לוֹ דְבָר, in 2 Samuel 17:27 לא דְבָר) was therefore across the Jordan near Mahanaim and Rabbath-Ammon, perhaps Lidbir,[FN31] Joshua 13:26. According to this account Machir was a respected and propertied Prayer of Manasseh, who had taken charge of Mephibosheth after Jonathan’s death. [See 2 Samuel 17:27-29.—Tr.]

[Grove (Art. “Mephibosheth” in Smith’s Bible Dictionary): These early misfortunes [loss of parents, lameness, poverty] threw a shade over his whole life, and his personal deformity seems to have exercised a depressing and depreciatory influence on his character.—Tr.]

2 Samuel 9:9-13. Mephibosheth put in possession of Saul’s estate and admitted to David’s house and table.—David’s transaction with Ziba suggests that the latter resided at Gibeah, on the land of Saul’s family, and stood in some relation to the family, perhaps that of steward. David1) informs him that he has restored to Mephibosheth all the property of Saul and of his house. I have given them to thy master’s sonson here=grandson, as above ( 2 Samuel 9:7) father=grandfather; 2) commissions him ( 2 Samuel 9:10) to cultivate the land for him, entrusts him with the management and control of the property. The “bring” is to be understood of “storing into the barns or also of delivery at Jerusalem” (Thenius), the latter according to Josephus and Ewald, § 303 e. That the son of thy master may have bread and eat it refers not to Mephibosheth’s son (Micha 2 Samuel 9:12), as has been supposed in order to avoid the apparent contradiction of David’s statement that Mephibosheth is to eat at his table; there is really no contradiction, since this last statement merely means that Mephibosheth himself is to have the honor of daily eating at David’s table, while these words relate to the general support of the house and family of the so highly honored son of David’s friend. [On the text see “Text. and Gramm.”—Tr.] The statement: Ziba had15 sons and20 servants serves to explain the commission: Cultivate the land thou and thy sons and thy servants and to show that Ziba was in condition with his family and servants to manage so large an estate. “Something considerable could therefore be made for Mephibosheth” (Thenius). 2 Samuel 9:11 in its two parts—Ziba’s declaration that he would perform David’s command, and the statement of Mephibosheth eating at David’s table—corresponds to the two parts of 2 Samuel 9:10. The words: And Mephibosheth eats at my table as one of the king’s sons cannot be taken as David’s (Clericus, De Wette [Eng. A. V.]), since David would then have said the same thing three times, and there would in general be no reason for such a reply to Ziba’s words. They are rather to be regarded as spoken by Ziba—not, however, as a rejoinder in the sense: “If he will live with me, he will be treated as a king’s son” (Grotius), but as a repetition of David’s word, attached to the “as my lord has commanded” ( 2 Samuel 9:10) with the expression of joyful astonishment and the consequent addition: “as one of the king’s sons!” Ziba, in affirming that all that the king has ordered shall be done, repeats in reference to Mephibosheth his verba ipsissima. This explanation may be preferred to the assumption of a wrong reading here, namely, “my table,” for “David’s table,” Sept. (Thenius, Keil), or “thy tables” (= thy table, Böttcher), partly because the text is not to be altered without pressing necessity, partly because in that case the statement that Mephisbosheth ate at David’s table would be repeated immediately afterwards (in 2 Samuel 9:13). [For another view of the text see “Text. and Gramm.”—Tr.]

[Mephibosheth was about 13 years old when David fixed his abode in Jerusalem; how old he was now would depend on the chronological position of chap9, which cannot be fixed with certainty. The Heb. word (קָטֹן) here rendered “young” is indefinite as to age; for Micha’s descendants see 1 Chronicles 8:34 sq.; 1 Chronicles 9:40 sq.—Tr.] “The house of Ziba were servants; Vulg. “served.” Thenius, in view of 2 Samuel 9:10, would read the Particp. serving (עֹבְדִים). In any case, the constant servitude of Ziba’s whole household to Mephibosheth is indicated, while the latter as lord of the land dwelt at Jerusalem as companion of David’s family in the house and at the table.

HISTORICAL AND THEOLOGICAL

1. The picture of David’s royal power and glory in contrast with the poor, crippled son of Jonathan, the last scion of Saul’s fallen house, comes out in greater splendor, the deeper the latter humbles himself before him and trusts himself to his favor. In his noble conduct to Mephibosheth David demonstrates the friendship that he had sworn to Jonathan.

2. The truly pious and God-fearing man not only shows “kindness of God” in so far as God’s kindness impels him to show such merciful love as God does, whereby he proves himself in truth a child of God, but it is the merciful love of God Himself that dwells in his heart and works therefrom; for he that lives in fellowship with God receives into his heart through the Holy Ghost the love that is in God, and lives and moves in this love.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

[ 2 Samuel 8:15-18. Taylor: In the minds of most readers of the Bible the name of David, king of Israel, is associated mainly with military prowess, poetic genius, and personal piety; and only on the rarest occasions do we hear any reference made to his administrative ability. Yet in this last quality he was at least as remarkable as in any one of the others; and great injustice is done to him if we leave out of view the eminent services which he rendered to his country by the exercise of his governmental and organizing faculties. … More than Charlemagne did for Europe, or Alfred for England, David accomplished for the tribes of Israel.—Tr.]

Chap9. How true, compassionate love of one’s neighbor should be exhibited, is shown by David’s conduct towards Mephibosheth1) This love does not suffer the neighbor’s need to come to it, but searches out and goes after the need; 2) It does not suffer itself to be determined by selfish aims, but does its duty in faithfulness and impelled by God’s mercy for God’s sake; 3) It brings to the neighbor’s heart, when filled with trembling anxiety and fear, consolation and peace by the words, “Fear not;” 4) It lifts up the neighbor from his wretchedness and want, by restoring to him what he had lost without fault, and by making him share in the enjoyment of its own blessings, assigned it by God.

How a man after God’s heart, amid experiences of divine goodness and faithfulness, should show the mercy of God towards his fellow-man: 1) By faithfully discharging the duties of friendship; 2) In case there has been enmity, by requiting evil with good; 3) By rendering to one on whom God’s counsel has inflicted misfortune, the words and deeds of humble and helpful love.

The exercise of merciful love is an evidence that one has himself experienced the divine mercy; for this mercy Isaiah, 1) Its source, 2) Its motive, 3) Its example.—“The mercy of God is that which is shown in God and for God’s sake, Luke 6:30.” (Berl. Bible.)

2 Samuel 9:1. Starke: To poor children whose parents have deserved well of us we should do good in return. Wuert. Bib.: When harm has been done one, and his enemy is no longer present, he should not avenge himself on his posterity, but should forget the wrong, and, if possible, should do good to the children and posterity of the man who wronged him ( Matthew 5:44).—[Henry: David had too long forgotten his obligations to Jonathan, but now, at length, they are brought to his mind. It is good sometimes to bethink ourselves whether there be any promises or engagements that we have neglected to make good; better do it late than never. Scott: Those who have much in their power should sedulously inquire after opportunities of doing good; for frequently the most deserving objects of our compassion are concealed by modesty and patient resignation.—Tr.]

2 Samuel 9:2-3. S. Schmid: All our good works, even works of mercy, must be done for God’s sake.—Starke: Our mercy should be ordered according to God’s mercy.

2 Samuel 9:5. Starke: A Christian should not only love in word, but also in deed and in truth ( 1 John 3:18).

2 Samuel 9:6-7. Cramer: Treat orphans as a father, and thou shalt be as a son of the Most High ( Sirach 4:10).—Wuert. Bible: When parents are pious, their children after their death enjoy the fruit of it ( Exodus 20:6; Psalm 112:1-2).

2 Samuel 9:7. Berl. Bible: Believers should earnestly take care to show all possible loving service to the children of those whom they have loved in the Lord, since we can then do nothing better than to remind such children of their parents’ grace, that they may follow them in faith and piety.—Schlier: Still is it a good thing for children if they have God-fearing parents, and still for long years may children enjoy the good their parents have done. The piety of parents is worth more than much money and goods.—[Cowper:

My boast is not that I deduce my birth

From lions enthroned, and rulers of the earth;

But higher far my proud pretensions rise—

The son of parents passed into the skies.—Tr.]

2 Samuel 9:9. Hall: There is no more certain way to glory and advancement than a lowly dejection of ourselves. 2 Samuel 9:11-12. Osiander: Stewards should serve their lord not with eye-service, but with all fidelity ( Ephesians 6:6; Colossians 3:22).

Footnotes:

FN#1 - 2 Samuel 8:1. We leave this obscure word untranslated. Erdmann renders it “the bridle of the mother,” but the Heb. אַמָּה never means mother; so Philippson: “the bridle of the metropolis (capital city).” The ancient VSS. are discordant and unsatisfactory: Chald. has “the fastening of the Ammah,” Vulg. “the bridle of tribute,” Syr. and Arab, render a proper name Ramath-Gamah (which some translate “the height of the rush”), Aquila gives “the bridle of the aqueduct” or (according to another edition) “the bridle of the ell,” Symmachus “the authority of tribute,” while the Sept. reading τὴν ἀφωρισμένην suggests that their text contained the stem גּרשׁ or חרשׁ. These renderings show the perplexity of the translators; the Rabbinical translation “stream or aqueduct” (so perhaps Chald.) is improbable, and the rendering “tribute” equally without authority (=הַמַּם), while the reading in Chron. “Gath and her daughters” is an explanation, not a translation, if it be not a different form of the same original text. In this uncertainty it seems better to leave the words untranslated, as in Eng. A. V. Perhaps we have here a proper name, possibly a corruption of the text of Chronicles.—Tr.]

FN#2 - 2 Samuel 8:2. Sept. has “two lines to kill and two to save,” and Vulg. gives one line to each division (and so the Syr. in Walton’s Polyglot, followed by Arab, but Lee’s Syr. text agrees with the Heb.); these are changes from desire for symmetry.—Tr.]

FN#3 - 2 Samuel 8:3. Erdmann and many others prefer this form Hadadezer to the form in Chron, Hadarezer (which is found in all the ancient VSS. except Chald, and in many good Heb. MSS. and EDD.) on the ground that Hadad is the name of a Syrian sun-god and occurs in many other proper names; but Schrader (Die Keilinschriften und das A. T., p101) says that the name of the Syrian king in 1 Kings 20:1 is not Benhadad, but Ben-hadar, which the Assyrian writes Binhidri; Schrader translates the name (“the god) Bin is exalted.” If this be correct, the reading here is probably Hadarezer, as in Chron.—Tr.]

FN#4 - 2 Samuel 8:3. Our text is here to be preferred to that of Chron. ( 2 Samuel 18:3). Erdmann renders “to Revelation -establish his power,” nearly as Eng. A. V. But the phrase here used always means “to turn one’s hand” either literally (as 1 Samuel 14:27) or figuratively, and either from (מִן) a thing ( Ezekiel 18:17) or to or against a thing (אֶל in Exodus 4:7 עַל in Amos 1:8); here, as not the enemy against whom, but the place in which the effort is made is meant the prep. “in” (בְּ) is used; he went to “put his hand, direct his attack” in or at the river.—Tr.]

FN#5 - 2 Samuel 8:3. The word “Euphrates,” not in the text, is supplied by the Masorites in the margin, and is found in many MSS. and EDD.; its insertion in the Heb. is unnecessary, since “the river” means the Euphrates.—Tr.]

FN#6 - 2 Samuel 8:4. The Heb. here reads: “1700 horsemen and20,000 footmen;” Eng. A. V. divides the first number and introduces “chariots” in order to account for their mention at the end of the verse (after 1 Chronicles 18:4); Erdmann adopts the whole of the reading of Chron. “1000 chariots, 7000 horsemen, and20,000 footmen” (so also Sept. and then). But Wellhausen objects to this that the רכב at the end is used in a general sense, including the horses of the “horsemen,”—inasmuch as after all the רכב only are houghed, there remain only100 רכב “chariot-horses” and not also the “riding-horses.” Still, as the author may here have chosen to leave out the riding-horses altogether, this objection would not be decisive; but it is in favor of our text that, while not impossible, it is not so easy as that of Chron.—Tr.]

FN#7 - 2 Samuel 8:5. Syr. and Arab. read badly “Edom and Damascus.”—Tr.]

FN#8 - 2 Samuel 8:7. The versions render this word (שּׁלט) variously, apparently guessing at its meaning from the connection. As Thenius points out, the etymology (from a verb meaning “to be hard or strong”) and some of the passages where it occurs (as Jeremiah 51:11) favor the meaning “armour” the rendering “shield” is now more commonly adopted.—Tr.]

FN#9 - 2 Samuel 8:8. The probability seems to be in favor of the reading “Tebah.”—Tr.]

FN#10 - 2 Samuel 8:10. The better reading is probably Hadoram (as in Chron.), with which compare the Hadar-ezer above.—Tr.]

FN#11 - 2 Samuel 8:12. Some MSS. and Sept, Syr, Arab. read “Edom,” a change of one letter only in the Hebrew, and this better suits the connection, where this name is followed by Moab, etc., Zobah appearing at the end.—Tr.]

FN#12 - 2 Samuel 8:13. As Syria was not near the valley of salt, this text is manifestly corrupt. We may either read “Edom” for “Syria” (so Sept. and Chron.) or insert the clause “and smote Edom” after “Syrians (so Erdmann). The former course is the simpler, and avoids the difficulty of accounting for the omission of any reference to Syria in Chronicles. The Heb. words for Syria (ארם) and Edom (ארם) differ very slightly.—Tr.]

FN#13 - On this phrase see “Text. and Gramm.” For various explanations see Poole’s Synopsis and Bochart’s Hieroz. II. p225.—Tr.]

FN#14 - See Art. Zobah in Smith’s Bib. Dict.—Tr.]

FN#15 - As in Psalm 72:8 : “from the river to the ends of the earth” (south of Egypt), and so 1 Maccabees 7:8. As the Nahar is the Euphrates, so the Yeor is the Nile.—Tr.]

FN#16 - See notes on 2 Samuel 10:16.—Tr.]

FN#17 - The permanent and deep calamity portrayed in this Psalm makes it extremely difficult, if not quite impossible to refer it to the time of David. There is great room for doubt also as to the Davidic origin of Psalm 60. See the Comms. of Delitzsch and Perowne on Psalm for discussions of this point.—Tr.]

FN#18 - “The mills of God grind late the fine flour,” say the Jewish Sibylline Oracles; or as a late Greek writer has it, “The mills of the gods grind late, but grind fine.”—Tr.]

FN#19 - 2 Samuel 8:17. The supposition that our text has here inverted the names seems to be justified by the whole history, which shows no other priest in David’s time by the side of Zadok but Abiathar, the son of Ahimelech. Some, however (Bp. Patrick, Wordsworth), suppose that the chief-priest Abiathar is not here named, but the two subordinate priests are given. This is possible, but not probable, because we have here a list of the chief officers of David, With our Heb. text are 1 Chronicles 18:16; 1 Chronicles 24:3; 1 Chronicles 24:6. Sept, Vulg, Chald, while Syr. and Arab. have the inversion hero proposed. Erdmann unnecessarily supposes a historical error in the text.—Lit.: “were priests,” the Art. being omitted because they were the only priests (high-priests), as above “recorder” and below “scribe.”—Tr.]

FN#20 - 2 Samuel 8:17. It seems impossible to decide certainly between this form of the name and those of Chron. (Shavsha), 2 Samuel 20:25 (Sheya and Sheva) and 1 Kings 4:3 (Shisha).—Tr.]

FN#21 - 2 Samuel 8:18. The Prep. “over” (עַל) is here properly supplied by Eng. A. V, which, however, incorrectly renders the following וְ (which is to be rejected) by “both.”—Tr.]

FN#22 - 2 Samuel 8:18. So Chron.; others render: “counsellors.” For the renderings of the verb (כהן) in the ancient versions and lexicons, see Gesen, Thes. s. v. Gesenius himself holds that all other meanings of the word are derived from the notion of “priest;” but while the radical meaning must be held to be obscure, the connection of the use of the noun undoubtedly favors the rendering of Eng. A. V. here, and in 2 Samuel 20:23-26 and 1 Kings 4:2-6. The verb in Isaiah 61:10 also presents difficulty.—Tr.]

FN#23 - 2 Samuel 9:6. On the form of this name, in which the last element was originally Baal, and the reason for the change see on 2 Samuel 4:4.—Tr.]

FN#24 - 2 Samuel 9:10. So all the ancient VSS. except Chald.; the הָיָה of the Heb. is therefore to be omitted as destroying the syntax, since there is now no object for the verb “bring” (Eng. A. V. inserts “the fruits”). Further, some Greek VSS. cited in Montfaucon’s ed. of Origen’s Hexapla read: “and thou shalt bring bread to the house (בית instead of בן) of thy lord,” and this reading has also been proposed by Böttcher (independently, it would seem, as he does not mention the Greek) and approved by Thenius. The external evidence is distinctly against this reading (it is found only in some anonymous Greek versions), but the internal evidence strongly favors it; for, as Böttcher remarks, the following clause, affirming that Mephibosheth will eat at the royal table, would naturally contrast him with some other person or persons in this clause. The passage would then read thus: “thou and thy sons and thy servants shall till the land for him, and thou shalt bring food to the household of thy master, and they shall eat; and Mephibosheth [himself] shall eat at my table.” We might then put אָכְלוּ for אֲכָלוֹ, but it is not necessary, since בית (house) may take a verb in the Sing. The change of בית to בן in copying would be easy, especially as the phrase: “son of thy master,” is found near, and the error, if it be an error, must have come in very early.—On the other hand our present Heb. text (בן) is favored by the similar phrase elsewhere used in this narrative, and the contrast above referred to, while natural, cannot be said to be absolutely necessary. Böttcher’s emendation may therefore be said to be highly probable, but not absolutely certain.—Tr.]

FN#25 - 2 Samuel 9:11. This phrase is supplied by Eng. A. V. on the supposition that these are the words of David, and so Bp. Patrick. Erdmann and others refer the words to Ziba. But it is not probable that David would here repeat his former declaration after Ziba had assented to everything; and in Ziba’s mouth the words are inappropriate, whether he means his own table (Philippson), or quotes the king’s phrase: “my table” (Erdmann). It is better to regard the phrase as the statement of the narrator. Bib. Com., taking it Song of Solomon, retains the present text and renders: “so Mephibosheth ate at my table,” etc., regarding David himself as the narrator, which, however, is hard and unexampled. Following Sept. and Syr. we might read. “and Mephibosheth ate (= was eating) at the king’s table,” etc. The word king (המלך) may have fallen out through error of eye on account of its occurrence at the end of the verse, or the “my table” may have been repeated from 2 Samuel 9:11. To this emendation it is not a sufficient objection that the same phrase would thus be employed by the narrator in 2 Samuel 9:13; for in 2 Samuel 9:11 it describes the conclusion of the immediate arrangement made by the king, while in 2 Samuel 9:13 it concludes the whole account of Mephibosheth’s position and circumstances, as for a similar reason the statement about his lameness is repeated in 2 Samuel 9:13.—Tr.]

FN#26 - שְׁיָא shortened from שׁושא=שׁישׁא, the latter, along with שְׂרָיָא, a second name of the same person.

FN#27 - The word welsh means “foreign,” and the Germans applied the name to Italians, as the Saxons did to the Cymry.—Tr.]

FN#28 - Böttcher omits these two words, and (after the Sept.), renders “Benaiah was counsellor,” introducing יוֹעֵץ instead of “Krethi and Pelethi;” but this view has little in its favor.—Tr.]

FN#29 - The Dat. is not periphrasis of the Gen. (Keil), nor to be changed into “from (מִן), the house” (Then.), but indicates “appertainment to.”

FN#30 - On this speech of Jonathan see the corrected Eng. translation and translator’s notes.—Tr.]

FN#31 - This word לדבר is variously read and understood; Eng. A. V. Debir.—Tr.]

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 8:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/2-samuel-8.html. 1857-84.

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