2 Samuel 23
New English Translation
David’s Final Words
23 These are the final words of David:
“The oracle of David son of Jesse,
the oracle of the man raised up as
the ruler chosen by the God of Jacob,[a]
Israel’s beloved[b] singer of songs:
2 The Lord’s Spirit spoke through me;
his word was on my tongue.
3 The God of Israel spoke,
the Protector[c] of Israel spoke to me.
The one who rules fairly among men,
the one who rules in the fear of God,
4 is like the light of morning when the sun comes up,
a morning in which there are no clouds.
He is like the brightness after rain
that produces grass from the earth.
5 My dynasty is approved by God,[d]
for he has made a perpetual covenant with me,
arranged in all its particulars and secured.
He always delivers me,
and brings all I desire to fruition.[e]
6 But evil people are like thorns—
all of them are tossed away,
for they cannot be held in the hand.
7 The one who touches them
must use an iron instrument
or the wooden shaft of a spear.
They are completely burned up right where they lie!”[f]
8 These are the names of David’s warriors:
Josheb Basshebeth, a Tahkemonite, was head of the officers.[g] He killed 800 men with his spear in one battle.[h] 9 Next in command[i] was Eleazar son of Dodo,[j] the son of Ahohi. He was one of the three warriors who were with David when they defied the Philistines who were assembled there for battle. When the men of Israel retreated,[k] 10 he stood his ground[l] and fought the Philistines until his hand grew so tired that it[m] seemed stuck to his sword. The Lord gave a great victory on that day. When the army returned to him, the only thing left to do was to plunder the corpses.
11 Next in command[n] was Shammah son of Agee the Hararite. When the Philistines assembled at Lehi,[o] where there happened to be an area of a field that was full of lentils, the army retreated before the Philistines. 12 But he made a stand in the middle of that area. He defended[p] it and defeated the Philistines; the Lord gave them a great victory.
13 At the time of[q] the harvest three[r] of the thirty leaders went down to[s] David at the cave of Adullam. A band of Philistines was camped in the valley of Rephaim. 14 David was in the stronghold at the time, while a Philistine garrison was in Bethlehem. 15 David was thirsty and said, “How I wish someone would give me some water to drink from the cistern in Bethlehem near the gate!” 16 So the three elite warriors broke through the Philistine forces and drew some water from the cistern in Bethlehem near the gate. They carried it back to David, but he refused to drink it. He poured it out as a drink offering to the Lord 17 and said, “O Lord, I will not do this![t] It is equivalent to the blood of the men who risked their lives by going.”[u] So he refused to drink it. Such were the exploits of the three elite warriors.[v]
18 Abishai son of Zeruiah, the brother of Joab, was head of the three.[w] He killed 300 men with his spear and gained fame among the three.[x] 19 From[y] the three he was given honor and he became their officer, even though he was not one of the three.
20 Benaiah son of Jehoiada was a brave warrior[z] from Kabzeel who performed great exploits. He struck down the two sons of Ariel of Moab.[aa] He also went down and killed a lion in a cistern on a snowy day. 21 He also killed an impressive-looking Egyptian.[ab] The Egyptian wielded a spear, while Benaiah attacked[ac] him with a club. He grabbed the spear out of the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with his own spear. 22 Such were the exploits of Benaiah son of Jehoiada, who gained fame among the three elite warriors. 23 He received honor from[ad] the thirty warriors, though he was not one of the three elite warriors. David put him in charge of his bodyguard.
24 Included with the thirty were the following: Asahel the brother of Joab, Elhanan son of Dodo from Bethlehem, 25 Shammah the Harodite, Elika the Harodite, 26 Helez the Paltite, Ira son of Ikkesh from Tekoa, 27 Abiezer the Anathothite, Mebunnai the Hushathite, 28 Zalmon the Ahohite, Maharai the Netophathite, 29 Heled[ae] son of Baanah the Netophathite, Ittai son of Ribai from Gibeah in Benjamin, 30 Benaiah the Pirathonite, Hiddai from the wadis of Gaash, 31 Abi-Albon the Arbathite, Azmaveth the Barhumite, 32 Eliahba the Shaalbonite, the sons of Jashen, Jonathan 33 son of[af] Shammah the Hararite, Ahiam son of Sharar the Hararite, 34 Eliphelet son of Ahasbai the[ag] Maacathite, Eliam son of Ahithophel the Gilonite, 35 Hezrai[ah] the Carmelite, Paarai the Arbite, 36 Igal son of Nathan from Zobah, Bani the Gadite, 37 Zelek the Ammonite, Naharai the Beerothite (the armor-bearer[ai] of Joab son of Zeruiah), 38 Ira the Ithrite, Gareb the Ithrite, 39 and Uriah the Hittite. Altogether there were thirty-seven.
- 2 Samuel 23:1 tn Heb “the anointed one of the God of Jacob.”
- 2 Samuel 23:1 tn Or “pleasant.”
- 2 Samuel 23:3 tn Heb “rock,” used as a metaphor of divine protection.
- 2 Samuel 23:5 tn Heb “For not thus [is] my house with God?”
- 2 Samuel 23:5 tn Heb “for all my deliverance and every desire, surely does he not make [it] grow?”
- 2 Samuel 23:7 tn Heb “and with fire they are completely burned up in [the place where they] remain.” The infinitive absolute is used before the finite verb to emphasize that they are completely consumed by the fire.
- 2 Samuel 23:8 tn The Hebrew word is sometimes rendered as “the three,” but BDB is probably correct in taking it to refer to military officers (BDB 1026 s.v. שְׁלִישִׁי). In that case the etymological connection of this word to the Hebrew numerical adjective for “three” can be explained as originating with a designation for the third warrior in a chariot.
- 2 Samuel 23:8 tc The translation follows some LXX mss (see 1 Chr 11:11 as well) in reading הוּא עוֹרֵר אֶת־חֲנִיתוֹ (huʾ ʿorer ʾet khanito, “he raised up his spear”) rather than the MT’s הוּא עֲדִינוֹ הָעֶצְנִי (huʾ ʿadino haʿetsni [Kethib = הָעֶצְנוֹ, haʿetsno]; “Adino the Ezenite”). The emended text reads literally “he was wielding his spear against eight hundred, [who were] slain at one time.”
- 2 Samuel 23:9 tn Heb “after him.”
- 2 Samuel 23:9 tc This follows the Qere and many medieval Hebrew mss in reading דֹּדוֹ (dodo) rather than the Kethib of the MT דֹּדַי (doday; cf. ASV, NIV, NLT). But see 1 Chr 27:4.
- 2 Samuel 23:9 tn Heb “went up.”
- 2 Samuel 23:10 tn Heb “arose.”
- 2 Samuel 23:10 tn Heb “his hand.”
- 2 Samuel 23:11 tn Heb “after him.”
- 2 Samuel 23:11 tn The Hebrew text is difficult here. The MT reads לַחַיָּה (lachayyah), which implies a rare use of the word חַיָּה (chayyah). The word normally refers to an animal, but if the MT is accepted it would here have the sense of a troop or community of people. BDB 312 s.v. II. חַיָּה, for example, understands the similar reference in v. 13 to be to “a group of allied families, making a raid together.” But this works better in v. 13 than it does in v. 11, where the context seems to suggest a particular staging location for a military operation. (See 1 Chr 11:15.) It therefore seems best to understand the word in v. 11 as a place name with ה (he) directive. In that case the Masoretes mistook the word for the common term for an animal and then tried to make sense of it in this context.
- 2 Samuel 23:12 tn Heb “delivered.”
- 2 Samuel 23:13 tn The meaning of Hebrew אֶל־קָצִיר (ʾel qatsir) seems here to be “at the time of harvest,” although this is an unusual use of the phrase. As S. R. Driver points out, this preposition does not normally have the temporal sense of “in” or “during” (S. R. Driver, Notes on the Hebrew Text and the Topography of the Books of Samuel, 366).
- 2 Samuel 23:13 tc The translation follows the Qere and many medieval Hebrew mss in reading שְׁלֹשָׁה (sheloshah, “three”) rather than the Kethib of the MT שְׁלֹשִׁים (sheloshim, “thirty”). “Thirty” is due to dittography of the following word and makes no sense in the context.
- 2 Samuel 23:13 tn Heb “went down…and approached.”
- 2 Samuel 23:17 tn Heb “Far be it to me, O Lord, from doing this.”
- 2 Samuel 23:17 tn Heb “[Is it not] the blood of the men who were going with their lives?”
- 2 Samuel 23:17 tn Heb “These things the three warriors did.”
- 2 Samuel 23:18 tc The translation follows the Qere, many medieval Hebrew mss, the LXX, and Vulgate in reading הַשְּׁלֹשָׁה (hashelosha, “the three”) rather than the Kethib of the MT הַשָּׁלִשִׁי (hashalishi, “the third,” or “adjutant”). Two medieval Hebrew mss and the Syriac Peshitta have “thirty.”
- 2 Samuel 23:18 tn Heb “and he was wielding his spear against three hundred, [who were] slain, and to him there was a name among the three.”
- 2 Samuel 23:19 tn Or “more than.”
- 2 Samuel 23:20 tc The translation follows the Qere and many medieval Hebrew mss in reading חַיִל (khayil, “valor”) rather than the Kethib of the MT, חַי (khay, “life”).
- 2 Samuel 23:20 tc Heb “the two of Ariel, Moab.” The precise meaning of אריאל is uncertain; some read “warrior.” The present translation assumes that the word is a proper name and that בני, “sons of,” has accidentally dropped from the text by homoioarcton (note the preceding שׁני), so originally: שְׁנֵי בְנֵי אֲרִיאֵל (shene vene ʾariʾel).
- 2 Samuel 23:21 tc The translation follows the Qere and many medieval Hebrew mss in reading אִישׁ (ʾish, “man”) rather than the Kethib of the MT, אֲשֶׁר (ʾasher, “who”).
- 2 Samuel 23:21 tn Heb “and he went down to.”
- 2 Samuel 23:23 tn Or “more than.”
- 2 Samuel 23:29 tc The translation follows many medieval Hebrew mss in reading חֵלֶד (kheled; cf. NAB, NIV, NLT) rather than the MT חֵלֶב (khelev).
- 2 Samuel 23:33 tn The Hebrew text does not have “the son of.”
- 2 Samuel 23:34 tn Heb “the son of.”
- 2 Samuel 23:35 tc The translation follows the Qere and many medieval Hebrew mss in reading חֶצְרַי (khetsray; cf. KJV, NAB) rather than the Kethib of the MT, חֶצְרוֹ (khetsro).
- 2 Samuel 23:37 tc The translation follows the Qere and many medieval Hebrew mss in reading the singular rather than the plural of the Kethib of the MT.