Useful Bible Studies > 2 Samuel Commentary > chapter 15

Kerethites, Pelethites and Gittites

2 Samuel 15:18

Saul chose 3000 men to fight in his special army (1 Samuel 13:2). It seems from 2 Samuel 18:1-2 that David had a similar number of soldiers to defend Jerusalem. (He had 3 commanders, and each of them seems to be in charge of 1000 soldiers.) When David had to escape from Jerusalem because of Absalom, all those soldiers chose to support David. With their wives and families, they left their homes in Jerusalem at once. They, like David, did not know where they were going (15:20). They could not say whether they would ever be able to return.

The men called Kerethites and Pelethites were the king’s personal guards (8:18). The actual meaning of these words is uncertain; it may refer to their special duties. If so, the Kerethites were fierce men who carried out the king’s judgments against criminals. Similarly the Pelethites were fast runners whose duty was to take the news of the king’s laws and judgments across the country.

A Gittite is a person from Gath, in Philistia. David lived in Gath for 16 months, before he became the king of Judah (1 Samuel chapter 27). David led 600 men from Israel there; so, many people have thought that these are the same 600 men. However, their leader was Ittai (18:2) and he was clearly not from Israel (15:19). David also mentions Ittai’s ‘brothers’ (verse 20), in other words, the men from Philistia whom Ittai led. Clearly, David’s attitudes and actions when he was in Philistia impressed these men very much. They had learned from him to serve the real God and so they chose to support David’s rule in Israel.

Next part: Ittai the Gittite (2 Samuel 15:19-20)


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