The Bible – Old Testament
1 These are the last words of David: “The utterance of David, son of Jesse; the utterance of the man God raised up, Anointed of the God of Jacob, favorite of the Mighty One of Israel.
The spirit of the LORD spoke through me; his word was on my tongue.
The God of Israel spoke; of me the Rock of Israel said, ‘He that rules over men in justice, that rules in the fear of God,
Is like the morning light at sunrise on a cloudless morning, making the greensward sparkle after rain.’
Is not my house firm before God? He has made an eternal covenant with me, set forth in detail and secured. Will he not bring to fruition all my salvation and my every desire?
But the wicked are all like thorns to be cast away; they cannot be taken up by hand.
He who wishes to touch them must arm himself with iron and the shaft of a spear, and they must be consumed by fire.”
2 These are the names of David’s warriors. Ishbaal, son of Hachamoni, was the first of the Three. It was he who brandished his battle-ax over eight hundred slain in a single encounter.
Next to him, among the Three warriors, was Eleazar, son of Dodo the Ahohite. He was with David at Ephes-dammim when the Philistines assembled there for battle. The Israelites had retreated,
but he stood his ground and fought the Philistines until his hand grew tired and became cramped, holding fast to the sword. The LORD brought about a great victory on that day; the soldiers turned back after Eleazar, but only to strip the slain.
Next to him was Shammah, son of Agee the Hararite. The Philistines had assembled at Lehi, where there was a plot of land full of lentils. When the soldiers fled from the Philistines,
he took his stand in the middle of the plot and defended it. He slew the Philistines, and the LORD brought about a great victory. Such were the deeds of the Three warriors.
During the harvest three of the Thirty went down to David in the cave of Adullam, while a Philistine clan was encamped in the Vale of Rephaim.
At that time David was in the refuge, and there was a garrison of Philistines in Bethlehem.
Now David had a strong craving and said, “Oh, that someone would give me a drink of water from the cistern that is by the gate of Bethlehem!”
So the Three warriors broke through the Philistine camp and drew water from the cistern that is by the gate of Bethlehem. But when they brought it to David he refused to drink it, and instead poured it out to the LORD,
saying: “The LORD forbid that I do this! Can I drink the blood of these men who went at the risk of their lives?” So he refused to drink it.
Abishai, brother of Joab, son of Zeruiah, was at the head of the Thirty. It was he who brandished his spear over three hundred slain. He was listed among the Thirty
and commanded greater respect than the Thirty, becoming their leader. However, he did not attain to the Three.
Benaiah, son of Jehoiada, a stalwart from Kabzeel, was a man of great achievements. It was he who slew the two lions in Moab. He also went down and killed the lion in the cistern at the time of the snow.
It was he, too, who slew an Egyptian of large stature. Although the Egyptian was armed with a spear, he went against him with a club and wrested the spear from the Egyptian’s hand, then killed him with his own spear.
Such were the deeds performed by Benaiah, son of Jehoiada. He was listed among the Thirty warriors
and commanded greater respect than the Thirty. However, he did not attain to the Three. David put him in command of his bodyguard.
3 Asahel, brother of Joab. . . .Among the Thirty were: Elhanan, son of Dodo, from Bethlehem;
Shammah from En-harod; Elika from En-harod;
Helez from Beth-pelet; Ira, son of Ikkesh, from Tekoa;
Abiezer from Anathoth; Sibbecai from Hushah;
Zalmon from Ahoh; Maharai from Netophah;
Heled, son of Baanah, from Netophah; Ittai, son of Ribai, from Gibeah of the Benjaminites;
Benaiah from Pirathon; Hiddai from Nahale-gaash;
Abibaal from Beth-arabah; Azmaveth from Bahurim;
Eliahba from Shaalbon; Jashen the Gunite; Jonathan,
son of Shammah the Hararite; Ahiam, son of Sharar the Hararite;
Eliphelet, son of Ahasbai, from Beth-maacah; Eliam, son of Ahithophel, from Gilo;
Hezrai from Carmel; Paarai the Arbite;
Igal, son of Nathan, from Zobah; Bani the Gadite;
Zelek the Ammonite; Naharai from Beeroth, armor-bearer of Joab, son of Zeruiah;
Ira from Jattir; Gareb from Jattir;
Uriah the Hittite-thirty-seven in all.
1 [1-7] The text of this short composition in the spirit of the wisdom writers (⇒ Proverb 30:1-6) is difficult in places; it views David’s career in retrospect.
2 [8-10] There are thirty-seven warriors in all mentioned in this list. First there are the Three warriors most noted for single-handed exploits (⇒ 2 Sam 23:8-12). Then comes the story of a daring adventure by three unnamed members of the larger group (⇒ 2 Sam 23:13-17). Next come the commanders of the king’s bodyguard, Abishai (⇒ 2 Sam 23:18-19) and Benaiah (⇒ 2 Sam 23:20-23), with whom must be counted Asahel (⇒ 2 Sam 23:24) and Joab (⇒ 2 Sam 23:18, ⇒ 24, ⇒ 37), and finally the group of the Thirty (⇒ 2 Sam 23:24-39).
3  A more complete notice about Asahel, who died early in his career (⇒ 2 Sam 2:16-23), is to be presumed lost at this point. Elhanan is the first of the Thirty.