Useful Bible Studies > 2 Samuel Commentary > chapter 16

The purpose of the gifts that Ziba brought

2 Samuel 16:2

David and the people with him had to go from Jerusalem to the river Jordan, near Jericho. It is a journey of about 20 miles or 30 kilometres. The land is not entirely desert, but most of it is too dry for agriculture. Few people lived there, and the city called Jericho did not exist at that time.

Jerusalem is in the hills; the valley of the Jordan is the deepest valley in the world. Therefore, on this journey one is continuously descending. For that reason, it is possible to complete the journey quickly. A strong walker can complete the distance in just one day. That was important to David. David, and the people with him, needed to escape quickly.

Not all the people with David were strong walkers. His soldiers, of course, were very strong, and their families were probably strong too. However, many of the ladies (especially David’s wives) who lived in the palace would hardly ever go outside. There were also young children in the group. So, the donkeys that Ziba brought were a good help. Donkeys are gentle animals, smaller than a horse.

Ziba had also brought food for the journey. The dried fruits called raisins and figs are useful to provide energy on a long walk. David had provided a similar meal for the people on their journey home in 2 Samuel 6:19. In 1 Samuel 30:11-12, these foods helped a man to recover who was almost dead. Ziba also provided wine, for use as a medicine for anyone who became weak on the journey.

Next part: David asks Ziba about Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 16:3)


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