Useful Bible Studies > 2 Samuel Commentary > chapter 23


2 Samuel 23:18-19

There were two groups of especially brave soldiers who became the heroes of David’s army. They were called ‘The Three’ (23:8-12) and ‘The Thirty’ (23:24-39). There were two other soldiers who were especially famous for their brave deeds. They were Abishai, the leader of ‘The Three’, and Benaiah. Although Abishai and Benaiah were themselves very brave soldiers, the people did not consider them to be members of those groups. That is why their names do not appear in those lists. Instead, the author gives honour to them separately.

Abishai was the brother of Joab, the chief commander of David’s army. Their mother was Zeruiah, who was one of David’s sisters.

Like his brothers Joab and Asahel, Abishai supported David even before David became king. Like them, too, he was a fierce and powerful man. On several occasions, David complained that they were too eager to kill (for example, 2 Samuel 19:21-22). However, David had special reasons to be grateful for Abishai’s bold attitudes when Abishai saved David’s life (21:15-17).

Abishai was loyal in his character, both towards David and towards Joab. Abishai could lead an army in battle (10:10-14; 18:2) – but he still accepted Joab’s authority over him (20:6-11). He joined with Joab in the evil murder of Abner (3:30). Although David told Solomon to punish Joab with death for that and another crime (1 Kings 2:5-6), he gave no instructions about Abishai. Perhaps Abishai had already died by that time.

Next part: Benaiah (2 Samuel 23:20-23)


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© 2023, Keith Simons.