23:1 These are the final words of David:
“The oracle of David son of Jesse,
the oracle of the man raised up as
the ruler chosen by the God of Jacob, 1
Israel’s beloved 2 singer of songs:
23:2 The Lord’s spirit spoke through me;
his word was on my tongue.
23:3 The God of Israel spoke,
the protector 3 of Israel spoke to me.
The one who rules fairly among men,
the one who rules in the fear of God,
23:4 is like the light of morning when the sun comes up,
a morning in which there are no clouds.
He is like the brightness after rain
that produces grass from the earth.
for he has made a perpetual covenant with me,
arranged in all its particulars and secured.
He always delivers me,
and brings all I desire to fruition. 5
23:6 But evil people are like thorns –
all of them are tossed away,
for they cannot be held in the hand.
23:7 The one who touches them
must use an iron instrument
or the wooden shaft of a spear.
They are completely burned up right where they lie!” 6
23:8 These are the names of David’s warriors:
Josheb-Basshebeth, a Tahkemonite, was head of the officers. 7 He killed eight hundred men with his spear in one battle. 8 23:9 Next in command 9 was Eleazar son of Dodo, 10 the son of Ahohi. He was one of the three warriors who were with David when they defied the Philistines who were assembled there for battle. When the men of Israel retreated, 11 23:10 he stood his ground 12 and fought the Philistines until his hand grew so tired that it 13 seemed stuck to his sword. The Lord gave a great victory on that day. When the army returned to him, the only thing left to do was to plunder the corpses.
23:11 Next in command 14 was Shammah son of Agee the Hararite. When the Philistines assembled at Lehi, 15 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 16 it and defeated the Philistines; the Lord gave them a great victory.
23:13 At the time of 17 the harvest three 18 of the thirty leaders went down to 19 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. 20 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! 21 It is equivalent to the blood of the men who risked their lives by going.” 22 So he refused to drink it. Such were the exploits of the three elite warriors. 23
23:18 Abishai son of Zeruiah, the brother of Joab, was head of the three. 24 He killed three hundred men with his spear and gained fame among the three. 25 23:19 From 26 the three he was given honor and he became their officer, even though he was not one of the three.
23:20 Benaiah son of Jehoida was a brave warrior 27 from Kabzeel who performed great exploits. He struck down the two sons of Ariel of Moab. 28 He also went down and killed a lion in a cistern on a snowy day. 23:21 He also killed an impressive-looking Egyptian. 29 The Egyptian wielded a spear, while Benaiah attacked 30 him with a club. He grabbed the spear out of the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with his own spear. 23:22 Such were the exploits of Benaiah son of Jehoida, who gained fame among the three elite warriors. 23:23 He received honor from 31 the thirty warriors, though he was not one of the three elite warriors. David put him in charge of his bodyguard.
23:24 Included with the thirty were the following: Asahel the brother of Joab, Elhanan son of Dodo from Bethlehem, 32 23:25 Shammah the Harodite, Elika the Harodite, 23:26 Helez the Paltite, Ira son of Ikkesh from Tekoa, 23:27 Abiezer the Anathothite, Mebunnai the Hushathite, 23:28 Zalmon the Ahohite, Maharai the Netophathite, 23:29 Heled 33 son of Baanah the Netophathite, Ittai son of Ribai from Gibeah in Benjamin, 23:30 Benaiah the Pirathonite, Hiddai from the wadis of Gaash, 23:31 Abi-Albon the Arbathite, Azmaveth the Barhumite, 23:32 Eliahba the Shaalbonite, the sons of Jashen, Jonathan 23:33 son of 34 Shammah the Hararite, Ahiam son of Sharar the Hararite, 23:34 Eliphelet son of Ahasbai the Maacathite, Eliam son of Ahithophel the Gilonite, 23:35 Hezrai 35 the Carmelite, Paarai the Arbite, 23:36 Igal son of Nathan from Zobah, Bani the Gadite, 23:37 Zelek the Ammonite, Naharai the Beerothite (the armor-bearer 36 of Joab son of Zeruiah), 23:38 Ira the Ithrite, Gareb the Ithrite 23:39 and Uriah the Hittite. Altogether there were thirty-seven.
[23:7] 6 tn Heb “and with fire they are completely burned up in [the place where they] remain.” The infinitive absolute is used before the finite verb to emphasize that they are completely consumed by the fire.
[23:8] 7 tn The Hebrew word is sometimes rendered as “the three,” but BDB is probably correct in taking it to refer to military officers (BDB 1026 s.v. שְׁלִישִׁי). In that case the etymological connection of this word to the Hebrew numerical adjective for “three” can be explained as originating with a designation for the third warrior in a chariot.
[23:8] 8 tc The translation follows some LXX
[23:11] 15 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.
[23:13] 17 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).
[23:13] 18 tc The translation follows the Qere and many medieval Hebrew
[23:18] 24 tc The translation follows the Qere, many medieval Hebrew
[23:20] 28 tc Heb “the two of Ariel, Moab.” The precise meaning of אריאל is uncertain; some read “warrior.” The present translation assumes that the word is a proper name and that בני, “sons of,” has accidentally dropped from the text by homoioarcton (note the preceding שׁני).