Bible Commentary: 2 Samuel 23:18-39 and Related

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Bible Commentary

2 Samuel 23:18-39 and Related

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David's Mighty Men of Valor

In these sections the rest of David's mighty men are listed. One person of real interest here is Benaiah, with whom Solomon will later replace Joab. It may be surprising to find this man fighting "on a snowy day" (2 Samuel 23:20), but "a light snowfall is not unusual in the Judean hill country during the winter" (Nelson Study Bible, note on verses 20-23). We read, furthermore, that David put Benaiah over "his guard," a term literally meaning "'his obedience'—that is, those who were bound to obey and protect David" (same note). Elsewhere, we see that Benaiah was made commander of the Cherethites and Pelethites (2 Samuel 8:18)—an elite force of David's army made up of foreign mercenaries from Crete and Philistia who will later prove extremely loyal to David (2 Samuel 15:18-22). It appears that this group, which will eventually swell to 600 men, is synonymous with David's personal guard—like the Praetorian guard of the Roman emperors.

Take note also of these two names: Eliam the son of Ahithophel the Gilonite (2 Samuel 23:34) and Uriah the Hittite (verse 38). We'll see more about them later.