Daily Arts Web Nucleus


Discover the Arts! Each day a different image from the Literary, Performing, or Visual Arts representing a portion of Scripture
plus an explanation with links

2014 July 28

Bethlehem (1882)
Vasily Polenov (1844-1927)
Realist Style; Peredvizhniki School
The State Tretyakov Gallery(?), Moscow, Russia
Image Source: Wikipedia

     Explanation: 2 Samuel 23 contains the last words of David plus a listing of thirty-seven notable warriors in his realm with highlights of some of their accomplishments. Bethlehem, pictured above, is the location of one of most interesting of the events described. As for David's last words, these are not necessarily the last words he said moments before he died. Rather they are the last formal message to his contemporaries and his successors. Possibly, since they deal with the contrast and conflict between the righteous and the wicked, they were spoken just before or just after David's thematically similar words of caution and instruction to Solomon regarding unsettled matters with evildoers (1 Kings 2:1-11). Although the chronology of the statement may place it in 1 Kings 2, it also has a place (from a literary standpoint) in 2 Samuel 23. The previous chapter was a song of praise that the LORD delivered David from the wickedness of his enemies. And the opening words of today's chapter, as mentioned above, also speak of the contrast between the righteous and the wicked.
     [Chronologically and Thematically Related Scriptures: 1 Kings 2:1-11; 2 Samuel 5:18; 1 Chronicles 14:9; 2 Samuel 8:12; 1 Chronicles 18:11; 1 Chronicles 11:10-47; 2 Samuel 8:15-18; 1 Chronicles 18:14-17; 2 Samuel 22; Psalm 18; Psalm 144]
     The chapter opens with an introduction of David. The writer of 2 Samuel calls him "the son of Jesse ... the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel" (1). David said that the LORD told him that one who rules over men "must be just, ruling in the fear of God." One who does so will be a bringer of cheer and blessing. And, although David's house was not such a house, God nevertheless made an everlasting covenant with him. But the sons of Belial will be cast away and burned with fire (2-7). This statement is followed by a list of David's thirty-seven mightiest men, with special mention of the exploits of several. The first was Jashobeam [compare 1 Chronicles 11:11] who killed 800 men at one time -- a feat similar to Samson's slaughter of 1,000 Philistines (Judges 15:15-16) in the time of the Judges (8). Eleazar killed Philistines until his hand clung to his sword (a symptom of severe tendonitis); and the people came and took the spoil (9-10). Likewise, Shammah singlehandedly defended a parcel of ground against a Philistine onslaught (11-12). Once, when David and his men were encamped against the Philistines who were in control of his birth-town, Bethlehem, David wished for a drink from the well of Bethlehem. In response, his three mightiest warriors broke through the host of the Philistines, drew water from the well, and brought it to David. Nevertheless, he would not drink it because he considered it equivalent to the blood of the men who risked their lives to bring it to him. Instead, he poured it out to the LORD (13-17). Abishai was just below the three mightiest men; and he killed three hundred at one time (18-19). Benaiah did several exploits. He killed two lionlike men of Moab. He killed a lion in a pit. He killed a powerful Egyptian with his own spear (20-23). The chapter concludes by listing the rest of the thirty-seven mightiest warriors; but no further exploits are mentioned (24-39).

2 Samuel 23

     1 Now these be the last words of David. David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, said,
     2 The Spirit of the LORD spake by me, and his word was in my tongue. 3 The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. 4 And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain. 5 Although my house be not so with God; yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although he make it not to grow. 6 But the sons of Belial shall be all of them as thorns thrust away, because they cannot be taken with hands: 7 But the man that shall touch them must be fenced with iron and the staff of a spear; and they shall be utterly burned with fire in the same place.
     8 These be the names of the mighty men whom David had: The Tachmonite that sat in the seat, chief among the captains; the same was Adino the Eznite: he lift up his spear against eight hundred, whom he slew at one time.
     9 And after him was Eleazar the son of Dodo the Ahohite, one of the three mighty men with David, when they defied the Philistines that were there gathered together to battle, and the men of Israel were gone away: 10 He arose, and smote the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand clave unto the sword: and the LORD wrought a great victory that day; and the people returned after him only to spoil.
     11 And after him was Shammah the son of Agee the Hararite. And the Philistines were gathered together into a troop, where was a piece of ground full of lentiles: and the people fled from the Philistines. 12 But he stood in the midst of the ground, and defended it, and slew the Philistines: and the LORD wrought a great victory.
     13 And three of the thirty chief went down, and came to David in the harvest time unto the cave of Adullam: and the troop of the Philistines pitched in the valley of Rephaim. 14 And David was then in an hold, and the garrison of the Philistines was then in Bethlehem. 15 And David longed, and said, Oh that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate! 16 And the three mighty men brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David: nevertheless he would not drink thereof, but poured it out unto the LORD. 17 And he said, Be it far from me, O LORD, that I should do this: is not this the blood of the men that went in jeopardy of their lives? therefore he would not drink it. These things did these three mighty men.
     18 And Abishai, the brother of Joab, the son of Zeruiah, was chief among three. And he lifted up his spear against three hundred, and slew them, and had the name among three. 19 Was he not most honourable of three? therefore he was their captain: howbeit he attained not unto the first three.
     20 And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man, of Kabzeel, who had done many acts, he slew two lionlike men of Moab: he went down also and slew a lion in the midst of a pit in time of snow: 21 And he slew an Egyptian, a goodly man: and the Egyptian had a spear in his hand; but he went down to him with a staff, and plucked the spear out of the Egyptian's hand, and slew him with his own spear. 22 These things did Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and had the name among three mighty men. 23 He was more honourable than the thirty, but he attained not to the first three. And David set him over his guard.
     24 Asahel the brother of Joab was one of the thirty; Elhanan the son of Dodo of Bethlehem, 25 Shammah the Harodite, Elika the Harodite, 26 Helez the Paltite, Ira the son of Ikkesh the Tekoite, 27 Abiezer the Anethothite, Mebunnai the Hushathite, 28 Zalmon the Ahohite, Maharai the Netophathite, 29 Heleb the son of Baanah, a Netophathite, Ittai the son of Ribai out of Gibeah of the children of Benjamin, 30 Benaiah the Pirathonite, Hiddai of the brooks of Gaash, 31 Abialbon the Arbathite, Azmaveth the Barhumite, 32 Eliahba the Shaalbonite, of the sons of Jashen, Jonathan, 33 Shammah the Hararite, Ahiam the son of Sharar the Hararite, 34 Eliphelet the son of Ahasbai, the son of the Maachathite, Eliam the son of Ahithophel the Gilonite, 35 Hezrai the Carmelite, Paarai the Arbite, 36 Igal the son of Nathan of Zobah, Bani the Gadite, 37 Zelek the Ammonite, Naharai the Beerothite, armourbearer to Joab the son of Zeruiah, 38 Ira an Ithrite, Gareb an Ithrite, 39 Uriah the Hittite: thirty and seven in all.

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