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2 Samuel 23:11-17

Context

23:11 Next in command 1  was Shammah son of Agee the Hararite. When the Philistines assembled at Lehi, 2  where there happened to be an area of a field that was full of lentils, the army retreated before the Philistines. 23:12 But he made a stand in the middle of that area. He defended 3  it and defeated the Philistines; the Lord gave them a great victory.

23:13 At the time of 4  the harvest three 5  of the thirty leaders went down to 6  David at the cave of Adullam. A band of Philistines was camped in the valley of Rephaim. 23:14 David was in the stronghold at the time, while a Philistine garrison was in Bethlehem. 7  23:15 David was thirsty and said, “How I wish someone would give me some water to drink from the cistern in Bethlehem near the gate!” 23:16 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 23:17 and said, “O Lord, I will not do this! 8  It is equivalent to the blood of the men who risked their lives by going.” 9  So he refused to drink it. Such were the exploits of the three elite warriors. 10 

1 tn Heb “after him.”

2 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.

3 tn Heb “delivered.”

4 tn The meaning of Hebrew אֶל־קָצִיר (’el 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).

5 tc The translation follows the Qere and many medieval Hebrew mss in reading שְׁלֹשָׁה (shÿloshah, “three”) rather than the Kethib of the MT שְׁלֹשִׁים (shÿloshim, “thirty”). “Thirty” is due to dittography of the following word and makes no sense in the context.

6 tn Heb “went down…and approached.”

7 map For location see Map5 B1; Map7 E2; Map8 E2; Map10 B4.

8 tn Heb “Far be it to me, O Lord, from doing this.”

9 tn Heb “[Is it not] the blood of the men who were going with their lives?”

10 tn Heb “These things the three warriors did.”



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