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2 Samuel 21:15-22

Context
Israel Engages in Various Battles with the Philistines

21:15 Another battle was fought between the Philistines and Israel. So David went down with his soldiers 1  and fought the Philistines. David became exhausted. 21:16 Now Ishbi-Benob, one of the descendants of Rapha, 2  had a spear 3  that weighed three hundred bronze shekels, 4  and he was armed with a new weapon. 5  He had said that he would kill David. 21:17 But Abishai the son of Zeruiah came to David’s aid, striking the Philistine down and killing him. Then David’s men took an oath saying, “You will not go out to battle with us again! You must not extinguish the lamp of Israel!”

21:18 Later there was another battle with the Philistines, this time in Gob. On that occasion Sibbekai the Hushathite killed Saph, who was one of the descendants of Rapha. 21:19 Yet another battle occurred with the Philistines in Gob. On that occasion Elhanan the son of Jair 6  the Bethlehemite killed the brother of Goliath the Gittite, 7  the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam. 21:20 Yet another battle occurred in Gath. On that occasion there was a large man 8  who had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in all! He too was a descendant of Rapha. 21:21 When he taunted Israel, Jonathan, the son of David’s brother Shimeah, killed him. 21:22 These four were the descendants of Rapha who lived in Gath; they were killed 9  by David and his soldiers. 10 

1 tn Heb “his servants.”

2 tn This name has the definite article and may be intended to refer to a group of people rather than a single individual with this name.

3 tn This is the only occurrence of this Hebrew word in the OT. Its precise meaning is therefore somewhat uncertain. As early as the LXX the word was understood to refer to a “spear,” and this seems to be the most likely possibility. Some scholars have proposed emending the text of 2 Sam 21:16 to כוֹבַעוֹ (khovao; “his helmet”), but in spite of the fact that the word “helmet” appears in 1 Sam 17:5, there is not much evidence for reading that word here.

4 tn Either the word “shekels” should be supplied here, or the Hebrew word מִשְׁקַל (mishqal, “weight”) right before “bronze” is a corrupted form of the word for shekel. If the latter is the case the problem probably resulted from another occurrence of the word מִשְׁקַל just four words earlier in the verse.

sn Three hundred bronze shekels would have weighed about 7.5 pounds (3.4 kg).

5 tn The Hebrew text reads simply “a new [thing],” prompting one to ask “A new what?” Several possibilities have been proposed to resolve the problem: perhaps a word has dropped out of the Hebrew text here; or perhaps the word “new” is the result of misreading a different, less common, word; or perhaps a word (e.g., “sword,” so KJV, NAB, NASB, NIV, CEV, NLT) is simply to be inferred. The translation generally follows the latter possibility, while at the same time being deliberately nonspecific (“weapon”).

6 tn Heb “Jaare-Oregim,” but the second word, which means “weavers,” is probably accidentally included. It appears at the end of the verse. The term is omitted in the parallel account in 1 Chr 20:5, which has simply “Jair.”

7 sn The Hebrew text as it stands reads, “Elhanan son of Jaare-Oregim the Bethlehemite killed Goliath the Gittite.” Who killed Goliath the Gittite? According to 1 Sam 17:4-58 it was David who killed Goliath, but according to the MT of 2 Sam 21:19 it was Elhanan who killed him. Many scholars believe that the two passages are hopelessly at variance with one another. Others have proposed various solutions to the difficulty, such as identifying David with Elhanan or positing the existence of two Goliaths. But in all likelihood the problem is the result of difficulties in the textual transmission of the Samuel passage; in fact, from a text-critical point of view the books of Samuel are the most poorly preserved of all the books of the Hebrew Bible. The parallel passage in 1 Chr 20:5 reads, “Elhanan son of Jair killed Lahmi the brother of Goliath.” Both versions are textually corrupt. The Chronicles text has misread “Bethlehemite” (בֵּית הַלַּחְמִי, bet hallakhmi) as the accusative sign followed by a proper name אֶת לַחְמִי (’et lakhmi). (See the note at 1 Chr 20:5.) The Samuel text misread the word for “brother” (אַח, ’akh) as the accusative sign (אֵת, ’et), thereby giving the impression that Elhanan, not David, killed Goliath. Thus in all probability the original text read, “Elhanan son of Jair the Bethlehemite killed the brother of Goliath.”

8 tn Heb “a man of stature.”

9 tn Heb “they fell.”

10 tn Heb “his servants.”



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