2 Samuel Chapter 5
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Go to Bible: 2 Samuel 5
“tribes.” The Hebrew word is “staff,” with the staff representing the leader of the tribe and thus the tribe itself. Thus, the word “staff” means “tribe” in a number of verses. All the tribes came through their representative leaders; not everyone in Israel was present.
“Behold, we are your bone and your flesh.” That is, we are fellow Israelites.(top)
“In times past.” The Hebrew is idiomatic: “yesterday, even the day before,” meaning “in the past.”
“shepherd.” The verb “to shepherd” often meant “to rule” (see commentary on Jer. 2:8).(top)
“and they anointed David.” This was the third time David was anointed king. The first was by Samuel (1 Sam. 16:13), the second was in Hebron (2 Sam. 2:4), and this is the third time.(top)
|2Sm 5:4||- (top)|
|2Sm 5:5||- (top)|
“the blind and lame.” Much in the life of David foreshadows the life of the Greater David, the Lord Jesus Christ. There seems to be an interesting, but complicated, foreshadowing in this record of David capturing the Jebusite city of Jerusalem. According to the pagan Jebusites, the city was so well fortified that the blind and lame could prevent David from taking the city (2 Sam. 5:6). This was a hyperbolic belittling of David, and unrealistically arrogant of the Jebusites seeing that David had been leading armies and defeating enemies for years. As it turned out, the blind and the lame, and the best of the Jebusite army, could not keep David from capturing the city, and once he did, he made it the capital of Israel. After David captured Jerusalem, the phrase “the blind and the lame” became used to describe David’s enemies (2 Sam. 5:8).
The Jebusites’ use of the phrase “the blind and the lame” as a fighting force is unique and occurs only here in the Bible and in extant Eastern literature, but the phrase certainly seems prophetic of the situation that the Lord Jesus Christ encountered in Israel. According to biblical prophecy, the Messiah would heal the blind and the lame (Isa. 35:5-6, cp. Isa. 29:18). There certainly were a large number of blind and lame people in Israel at the time of the Messiah. Could they prevent Jesus from proving that he was the Messiah and keep him from taking his throne as the rightful king of Israel? Would their presence show that Jesus was not the Messiah? No. Just as David established himself as king in spite of the blind and lame, the blind and lame not only could not prevent Jesus from showing himself as the Messiah, Jesus healed them and thus demonstrated that he was the Messiah. When John the Baptist sent messengers to Jesus to ask if he were indeed the Messiah, Jesus answered, “Go and tell John the things that you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk” (Matt. 11:4-5; cp. Luke 7:20-22). In fact, in the Gospel of John the only miracles Jesus did in Jerusalem, besides raising Lazarus from the dead, which was technically in Bethany outside of Jerusalem, were healing the lame man (John 5:5-9), and healing the blind man (John 9:1-7), although other Gospels show that Jesus healed other blind and lame people in Jerusalem as well (Matt. 21:14). Jesus also healed other blind and lame people in other places (cp. Matt. 15:30; 20:29-34). Although Jesus did not heal every blind and lame person in Israel, what he did were certainly works that demonstrated he was the Messiah (John 10:25, 37, 38; 14:10-11). So the blind and lame could not keep David from being king in Jerusalem, and they could not keep Jesus from proving that he was the Messiah and rightful king of Israel.
“saying.” That is, saying to each other and even possibly shouting it over the wall to David and his men.(top)
“Nevertheless.” This event is in 1 Chronicles 11:5.
“the City of David.” Jerusalem and Bethlehem are both called “the City of David.” It refers to Jerusalem in the Old Testament, and Bethlehem in the New Testament (Luke 2:4, 11).(top)
“water shaft.” The Jebusite city was built on the south end of Mount Zion and its main water source was the Gihon Spring, a spring on the southeast end of the city, just outside the city wall. The Jebusites had a shaft leading down from their city to the spring, and Joab used that shaft to gain access to the city and conquer it.
“house.” The word “house” could refer to the house of the king, the palace, or the house of God, the Temple. The Jebusites were hated so they were not allowed into places where others could go.(top)
“David lived in the stronghold.” David lived in the original Jebusite city when he first conquered Jerusalem. Then, as 2 Samuel 5:9-11 indicate, Hiram of Tyre built him a palace and he moved into it, and it would have been north of the original Jebusite city (see commentary on 2 Sam. 5:11).
“supporting terrace.” The Hebrew is “the millo,” where millo is a Hebrew word that refers to fill, as in fill dirt. The city of David is built on a steep, narrow spur, which was why it was so defensible. But as David’s kingdom grew more land was needed on top, so terraces were built and strengthened to provide for more flat land on which to build.
“the house.” This is usually translated “inward,” but the Hebrew text gives more direction than that. The terracing “to the house” could refer to providing for more flat land for David’s house or possibly even to make room for the modifications that would allow for the Temple to later be built.(top)
“And David grew greater and greater.” This is a summary statement, and 2 Samuel 5:10-16 are a summary rather than a strict chronological development of David’s reign.(top)
“and they built David a house.” When David conquered the Jebusite city of Jerusalem, he lived in that stronghold and named it the “City of David” (2 Sam. 5:9). Then, some time later, Hiram king of Tyre built a palace for David (2 Sam. 5:11). But where? Evidence from the Bible, archaeology, and logic leads us to conclude that David built his palace just north of the original Jebusite city of Jerusalem.a Kathleen Kenyon excavated around the ancient Jebusite city in the 1960s, and uncovered a massive public structure, and based on the pottery associated with it, dated it to the time of David and Solomon (the tenth century BC).
Kenyon did not consider that the structure she found could be associated with David because it was outside the original Jebusite city, and Kenyon thought David would have had to have built inside the city. But that would not have left much room for David’s palace, nor much room for the tent he set up for the Ark of the Covenant. Kenyon acknowledged this, and wrote, “David must have cleared a space within the Jebusite town, but the size of this residence is unlikely to have been great, for anything grandiose would have taken too much space within the restricted area of the Jebusite-Davidic city.”b
But 2 Samuel 5:9 informs us that after David conquered Jerusalem, he enlarged it, and the most natural way to enlarge it was to build a section north of the original city. Besides, as Kenyon said, the original Jebusite city would have been very densely built up and would not have had room for an adequate palace for David. So David would have mainly expanded Jerusalem to the north because the Jebusite city had steep valleys to the east, south, and west, whereas there was room to the north for his palace and the tent he set up for the Ark of the Covenant. But the northern area would not have been as well fortified as the original city, which explains why David would have gone back “down” to the Jebusite stronghold, the old Jebusite city, when the Philistines were threatening to attack (2 Sam. 5:17).
Kenyon uncovered a huge stepped-stone structure on the east slope of Mount Zion, just north of the Jebusite city, and that structure has been discovered by later archaeologists, especially Eilat Mazar, to be the supporting wall associated with and supporting the huge building above it, which is almost certainly David’s palace.
It seems likely that this verse is not in exact chronological order but is inserted here to show that Yahweh has established David as king over Israel and that is even recognized by foreign powers.
Eilat Mazar, “The Undiscovered Palace of King David in Jerusalem”, Biblical Archaeological Review, Jan/Feb, 1997.
Kathleen M. Kenyon, Digging Up Jerusalem, 103.
|2Sm 5:12||- (top)|
“And David took more concubines and wives in Jerusalem.” While having many wives and concubines is an evidence of kingship, it seems to be an ominous sign of bad things to come, considering the limitation in Deut. 17:17. The Bible does not even give us the names of these women, except for Bathsheba, which we learn from a later context. The mention of Solomon shows that these verses about David’s wives and sons are not chronological but are summary statements.(top)
“Shammua, and Shobab, and Nathan, and Solomon.” These sons of David were the sons of Bathsheba (1 Chron. 3:5). Nathan was the son of David from whom Joseph, the husband of Mary, was descended (Luke 3:31).(top)
|2Sm 5:15||- (top)|
|2Sm 5:16||- (top)|
“all the Philistines went up to search for David.” It is noteworthy that the Philistines did not attack David when he reigned as king over Judah and lived in Hebron, even though at that time his army would have been much smaller and more vulnerable than it was when David was king over all the tribes of Israel. It is likely that as long as the Philistines thought that there was a civil war between the south (David), and the north (Ish-bosheth and his successors) they were happy to have the two sides deplete their men and resources fighting each other, but when David united the twelve tribes the Philistines saw the need to go to war with Israel if they were ever to gain territory or even keep the territory they had gained from their battles with Saul.
“went down to the stronghold.” This is most likely in the Jebusite city.(top)
“the Valley of Rephaim.” One of the routes into Jerusalem, coming from the southwest. It has a wide bottom.(top)
“give, yes, give.” This is the figure of speech polyptoton, where “give” is doubled for emphasis (see commentary on Gen. 2:16).(top)
“like the breaking out of water.” The Valley of Rephaim has an area where there are springs that break forth out of the ground, and that could be the general area of the battle.(top)
“And they abandoned their idols there.” The Philistines wanted their gods to be with them at the battle so they could help them. The Israelites had done the same kind of thing earlier and brought the ark of God to their battle to help them (1 Sam. 4:3-4). But the Philistines’ gods did not help them in this battle and were abandoned on the battlefield.
“David and his men carried them away.” It was common that the important gods of a pagan culture would be decorated with silver, gold, and other precious things, so David carried the gods back to his headquarters where they were burned and the precious metals no doubt recovered. The record in Chronicles says David burned the idols (1 Chron. 14:12) which indeed he did, but he did not burn them on the battlefield. When we put Samuel and Chronicles together we can see he had the idols taken away and burned in such a way that the valuable things were recovered.(top)
|2Sm 5:22||- (top)|
“Circle around behind them.” The first time the Philistines attacked, David defeated them but apparently many of them escaped and went home (2 Sam. 5:17-21). For this second battle God told David to circle behind the Philistines, that is, get between them and their home area and attack from that direction, the southwest. This would cut off the main Philistine escape route and allow David and his men to more permanently rid themselves of the Philistines.(top)
“then go quickly.” When David heard the sound of God’s invisible army marching toward the Philistines, he was to attack them too. God’s command to David was to be ready to move when God moved, and that is an important lesson for believers to learn. We do not always know when God will move, but our hearts have to be ready to move when God moves.(top)
“from Geba all the way to Gezer.” This summary of David’s war against the Philistines shows that David did not just have one localized battle with the Philistines, but rather waged a campaign against them to drive them from the heart of Israel and back to the Mediterranean coast. Although the battle started in the Valley of Rephaim, to the southwest of Jerusalem, David’s army defeated them “to Gezer,” which was more than 20 miles west of Jerusalem, and also “from Geba” which was to the north of Jerusalem.
1 Chronicles 14:16 reads “Gibeon” instead of “Geba,” and the Septuagint does too, and that may have been the original reading. However, both cities are to the north of Jerusalem and only about five miles apart. It is even possible that both cities were points of attack for David. The point is that David drove the Philistines out of the heartland of Israel and thus opened the door for his reign over all of Israel, from the south to the north.(top)