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23 These are the last words of David:

“David, the son of Jesse, speaks.

David, the man to whom God gave such wonderful success;

David, the anointed of the God of Jacob;

David, sweet psalmist of Israel:

The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me,

And his word was on my tongue.

The Rock of Israel said to me:

‘One shall come who rules righteously,

Who rules in the fear of God.

He shall be as the light of the morning;

A cloudless sunrise

When the tender grass

Springs forth upon the earth;

As sunshine after rain.’

And it is my family

He has chosen!

Yes, God has made

An everlasting covenant with me;

His agreement is eternal, final, sealed.

He will constantly look after

My safety and success.[a]

But the godless are as thorns to be thrown away,

For they tear the hand that touches them.

One must be armed to chop them down;

They shall be burned.”

These are the names of the Top Three—the most heroic men in David’s army: the first was Josheb-basshebeth from Tahchemon, known also as Adino, the Eznite. He once killed eight hundred men in one battle.

Next in rank was Eleazar, the son of Dodo and grandson of Ahohi. He was one of the three men who, with David, held back the Philistines that time when the rest of the Israeli army fled. 10 He killed the Philistines until his hand was too tired to hold his sword; and the Lord gave him a great victory. (The rest of the army did not return until it was time to collect the loot!)

11-12 After him was Shammah, the son of Agee from Harar. Once during a Philistine attack, when all his men deserted him and fled, he stood alone at the center of a field of lentils and beat back the Philistines; and God gave him a great victory.

13 One time when David was living in the cave of Adullam and the invading Philistines were at the valley of Rephaim, three of the Thirty—the top-ranking officers of the Israeli army—went down at harvest time to visit him. 14 David was in the stronghold at the time, for Philistine marauders had occupied the nearby city of Bethlehem.

15 David remarked, “How thirsty I am for some of that good water in the city well!” (The well was near the city gate.)

16 So the three men broke through the Philistine ranks and drew water from the well and brought it to David. But he refused to drink it! Instead, he poured it out before the Lord.

17 “No, my God,” he exclaimed, “I cannot do it! This is the blood of these men who have risked their lives.”

18-19 Of those three men, Abishai, the brother of Joab (son of Zeruiah), was the greatest. Once he took on three hundred of the enemy single-handed and killed them all. It was by such feats that he earned a reputation equal to the Three, though he was not actually one of them. But he was the greatest of the Thirty—the top-ranking officers of the army—and was their leader.

20 There was also Benaiah (son of Jehoiada), a heroic soldier from Kabzeel. Benaiah killed two giants,[b] sons of Ariel of Moab. Another time he went down into a pit and, despite the slippery snow on the ground, took on a lion that was caught there and killed it. 21 Another time, armed only with a staff, he killed an Egyptian warrior who was armed with a spear; he wrenched the spear from the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with it. 22 These were some of the deeds that gave Benaiah almost as much renown as the Top Three. 23 He was one of the greatest of the Thirty, but was not actually one of the Top Three. And David made him chief of his bodyguard.

24-39 Asahel, the brother of Joab, was also one of the Thirty. Others were:

Elhanan (son of Dodo) from Bethlehem;

Shammah from Harod;

Elika from Harod;

Helez from Palti;

Ira (son of Ikkesh) from Tekoa;

Abiezer from Anathoth;

Mebunnai from Hushath;

Zalmon from Ahoh;

Maharai from Netophah;

Heleb (son of Baanah) from Netophah;

Ittai (son of Ribai) from Gibeah, of the tribe of Benjamin;

Benaiah of Pirathon;

Hiddai from the brooks of Gaash;

Abi-albon from Arbath;

Azmaveth from Bahurim;

Eliahba from Shaalbon;

The sons of Jashen;


Shammah from Harar;

Ahiam (the son of Sharar) from Harar;

Eliphelet (son of Ahasbai) from Maacah;

Eliam (the son of Ahithophel) from Gilo;

Hezro from Carmel;

Paarai from Arba;

Igal (son of Nathan) from Zobah;

Bani from Gad;

Zelek from Ammon;

Naharai from Beeroth, the armor bearer of Joab (son of Zeruiah);

Ira from Ithra;

Gareb from Ithra;

Uriah the Hittite—thirty-seven in all.[c]


  1. 2 Samuel 23:5 He will constantly look after my safety and success, literally, “He will cause my salvation and my desire to sprout.”
  2. 2 Samuel 23:20 two giants. The meaning of the Hebrew word is uncertain.
  3. 2 Samuel 23:24 thirty-seven in all. The Thirty, plus the Top Three, plus Generals Joab, Abishai, Asahel, and Benaiah. Apparently new names were elected to this hall of fame to replace those who died.

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