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Poole on 2 Samuel 3:1-5: David's Growing Household

Verse 1:[1]  Now there was long war between the house of Saul and the house of David:  but David waxed stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul waxed weaker and weaker.

[A long dispute]  Not with arms, but with efforts, to retain and win minds (Sanchez).  But Salian maintains that it was a struggle with arms as well, which is supported by this text, and by verse 6 (Menochius).

Long war; for five years longer; for it is probable that Ish-bosheth was made king presently upon Saul’s death, to give them countenance for their rebellion against David; and the other tribes did not submit to David before seven years were expired.

[DavidBut David’s (Junius and Tremellius), namely, house.  Thus there would be a Hypozeugma[2] here.  But it is more simply, but David proceeding, etc., as the following verse proves, and that ‎הֹלְכִים/proceeding is set over against ‎הֹלֵךְ/ proceeding,[3] that is, multiple persons set over against one (Piscator).

[Proceeding, etc.]  Hebrew:  he was walking and was strong[4] (Piscator).  Proceeding, he was increasing in strength (Junius and Tremellius), that is, he was continually increasing in strength (Piscator).

[The house of Saul decreasing, ‎וּבֵ֥ית שָׁא֖וּל הֹלְכִ֥ים וְדַלִּֽים׃]  And the house of Saul going and weak (Montanus); proceeding, they were weakening (Junius and Tremellius).  It is Synesis,[5] which they commonly call Synthesis; of which sort is that, turba ruunt, the crowd destroy[6] (Piscator).  Thus in 1 Kings 1:40,וְהָעָם֙ מְחַלְּלִ֣ים, and the people itself were piping, etc.  Thus in Lamentations 1:11[7] (Glassius’ “Grammar” 421).

Verse 2:[8]  And (1 Chron. 3:1-4) unto David were sons born in Hebron:  and his firstborn was Amnon, (1 Sam. 25:43) of Ahinoam the Jezreelitess…

[And sons were born to David, etc.]  In this way he shows that David daily grew in strength (Menochius).  Not legions, nor fleets, are such firm fortifications of the empire, as numerous children, Tacitus’ Histories 5 (Grotius).


Verse 3:[9]  And his second, Chileab (or, Daniel, 1 Chron. 3:1), of Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite; and the third, Absalom the son of Maacah the daughter of Talmai king (1 Sam. 27:8; 2 Sam. 13:37) of Geshur…

[Chileab]  To whom there was another name, Daniel, 1 Chronicles 3:1 (Grotius out of Vatablus).  Chileab means the father himself.[10]  He was like unto his father David in everything (Munster).

Chileab, called also Daniel, 1 Chronicles 3:1.

[Absalom, the son of Maacah, the daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur]  Geshur is a part of Syria, on the border of Gilead in Trachonitis, Deuteronomy 3:14 (Piscator, Malvenda)..  See what things were said on 2 Samuel 2:9 (Menochius); 1 Samuel 27:8; 2 Samuel 13:37 (Sanchez).  But God had prohibited the Hebrews to marry Canaanites.  Response:  1.  Yet He did not prohibit hat with all nations, but only whith those that were inhabiting the promised land.  This Geshur was outside of the promised land:  therefore, this is a different Geshur from that in the tribe of Manasseh, Joshua 13:11, 13 (Lapide, thus Menochius).  The Geshurites were not of the seven peoples,[11] but the Amalekites were (Martyr).  Since David took prey from Geshur, 1 Samuel 27, perhaps he took this woman as a captive; and according to the precepts in Deuteronomy 21 he took her to wife (Sanchez, Estius).  He compelled her, taken in war, unwillingly to convert to Judaism:  and on account of this they think that the son born of her, Absalom, was so rebellious (Munster).  3.  She was converted to the worship of the true God (Estius, thus Sanchez, Martyr, Menochius, Hebrews in Lapide).  4.  He married her, so that, if Ish-bosheth should move anything from that region, the King (of Geshur), a relative of David, might be accommodating to the affairs of David (Menochius).

Geshur; a part of Syria, northward from the land of Israel, Deuteronomy 3:14; Joshua 12:5.  See 2 Samuel 13:37; 14:23; 15:8.  Her he married, as it may seem, in policy, that he might have a powerful friend and ally to assist him against Ish-bosheth’s party in the north, whilst himself opposed him in the southern parts.  But he paid dear for making piety give place to policy herein, as the history of Absalom showeth.  There were other Geshurites southward from Canaan, whom David invaded, 1 Samuel 27:8, and it is not impossible but they were a colony of those in the north.


Verse 4:[12]  And the fourth, (1 Kings 1:5) Adonijah the son of Haggith; and the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital…

[Shephatiah, the son of Abital]  The mother is obscure, neither is her son better known (Menochius).


Verse 5:[13]  And the sixth, Ithream, by Eglah David’s wife.  These were born to David in Hebron.

[Of Eglah David’s wife (thus Pagnine, Montanus, etc.)]  Question:  Who then was this Eglah, and why is she thus designated?  Response 1:  She is the sameas Michal (Lyra out of the Hebrews), and is called עֶגְלָה/Eglah, that is, a young cow (just like that in Judges 14[14]), who is the most dearly beloved, and was joined to him in youth.  Now, she is called the wife, because she was taken first; which sort is called wife in a special manner, Genesis 44:27 (Lyra).  [To others this opinion is not satisfying:]  For, 1.  Eglah’s son here is Ithream; but Michal was barren until her death.  But, 1.  it is able to be responded that there was not child born to Michal, that is, after the day she mocked David (Mariana).  [But she was able to have a son before.]  2.  While the other wives are listed in the order in which they were taken, Michal ought not to have been placed in the last position.  3.  The Septuagint, Chaldean, and all the more recent versions render the name Eglah here (Sanchez).  Response 2:  Eglah was thus designated, because she was not noble, nor known or distinguished by any other name, except that she was the wife of David (Vatablus).  But almost the exact same thing was able to be said about Haggith and Abital (Sanchez).  Response 3:  Eglah was formerly the wife of Saul, 2 Samuel 12:8 (Hebrews in Mariana, Martyr).  [See what things are noted there.]  Response 4:  Something has to be supplied here:  they translate it, by Eglah, each a wife of David (Junius and Tremellius).  But this supplement appears to be without example.  Neither is it necessary (Piscator).  Response 5:  I recognize a figure here, which the Greeks call Zeugma (Hypozeugma [Piscator]), but the Latins Adjunction, which adjoins one term to many expressions.  Thus in 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10, neither adulterers, nor rapacious men, etc., shall inheritLet all bitterness and wrath, etc., be put away.  Where shall inherit and be put away are to be repeated for each expression.  Thus in the Æneid 3:


A Trojan, an interpreter of the gods, who the oracles of Phœbus,

Who the calls of birds, who the omens of the nimble wing,

Who the tripods, the laurels of Clarius, who the stars, understandest.


Where understandest is repeated in the individual parts of the sentence.  So also the term wife is to be applied to the individual women, of whom David is related to have received sons, of Ahinoam, the wife of David, etc., of Abigail, the wife of David, etc. (Sanchez).

David’s wife:  this is added, either because she was of obscure parentage, and was known by no other title but her relation to David; or to distinguish her from some other person of that name, who possibly might be of no good fame; or because this was his first and most proper wife, best known by her other name of Michal, who, though she had no child by David after she scoffed at him for dancing before the ark, 2 Samuel 6:23, yet might have one before that time.  And she might be named the last of these here, because she was given away from David, and married to another man, when David took the other wives; and therefore though she had been first, yet now she was become the last of them.  Or this title, being put in the last place, may belong to all the rest of the women above mentioned, by a figure called zeugma, to distinguish them from his concubines, 2 Samuel 5:13; 1 Chronicles 3:9.

[1] Hebrew:  וַתְּהִ֤י הַמִּלְחָמָה֙ אֲרֻכָּ֔ה בֵּ֚ין בֵּ֣ית שָׁא֔וּל וּבֵ֖ין בֵּ֣ית דָּוִ֑ד וְדָוִד֙ הֹלֵ֣ךְ וְחָזֵ֔ק וּבֵ֥ית שָׁא֖וּל הֹלְכִ֥ים וְדַלִּֽים׃ ס

[2] That is, in a construction containing several words or phrases of equal value, the placing last of the word or words on which all of them depend.

[3] 2 Samuel 3:1:  “Now there was long war between the house of Saul and the house of David:  but David waxed (‎וְדָוִד֙ הֹלֵ֣ךְ) stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul waxed (‎וּבֵ֥ית שָׁא֖וּל הֹלְכִ֥ים) weaker and weaker.”

[4] Hebrew:  ‎הֹלֵ֣ךְ וְחָזֵ֔ק.

[5] That is, a construction in which agreement is found the sense rather than grammar.

[6] The subject and verb do not agree in number.

[7] Lamentations 1:11:  “All her people (‎כָּל־עַמָּהּ, singular) sigh (‎נֶאֱנָחִים, plural), seeking (‎מְבַקְּשִׁים, plural) bread; they have given (‎נָתְנוּ, plural) their pleasant things for meat to relieve the soul:  see, O Lord, and consider; for I am become vile.”

[8] Hebrew:  ‎וַיֵּלְד֧וּ לְדָוִ֛ד בָּנִ֖ים בְּחֶבְר֑וֹן וַיְהִ֤י בְכוֹרוֹ֙ אַמְנ֔וֹן לַאֲחִינֹ֖עַם הַיִּזְרְעֵאלִֽת׃

[9] Hebrew:  וּמִשְׁנֵ֣הוּ כִלְאָ֔ב לַאֲבִיגֵ֕ל אֵ֖שֶׁת נָבָ֣ל הַֽכַּרְמְלִ֑י וְהַשְּׁלִשִׁי֙ אַבְשָׁל֣וֹם בֶּֽן־מַעֲכָ֔ה בַּת־תַּלְמַ֖י מֶ֥לֶךְ גְּשֽׁוּר׃

[10] Or, like (כ) unto (ל) the father (אָב).

[11] See Deuteronomy 7:1; Acts 13:19.

[12] Hebrew:  ‎וְהָרְבִיעִ֖י אֲדֹנִיָּ֣ה בֶן־חַגִּ֑ית וְהַחֲמִישִׁ֖י שְׁפַטְיָ֥ה בֶן־אֲבִיטָֽל׃

[13] Hebrew:  ‎וְהַשִּׁשִּׁ֣י יִתְרְעָ֔ם לְעֶגְלָ֖ה אֵ֣שֶׁת דָּוִ֑ד אֵ֛לֶּה יֻלְּד֥וּ לְדָוִ֖ד בְּחֶבְרֽוֹן׃ פ

[14] Judges 14:18:  “And the men of the city said unto him on the seventh day before the sun went down, What is sweeter than honey? and what is stronger than a lion?  And he said unto them, If ye had not plowed with my heifer (‎בְּעֶגְלָתִי), ye had not found out my riddle.”

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Matthew Henry: 'Here is, I. The struggle that David had with the house of Saul before his settlement in the throne was completed, 2 Samuel 3:1. 1. Both sides contested. Saul's house, though beheaded and diminished, would not fall tamely. It is not strange between them, but one would wonder it should be a long war, when David's house had right on its side, and therefore God on its side; but, though truth and equity will triumph at last, God made for wise and holy ends prolonged the conflict. The length of this war tried the faith and patience of David, and made his establishment at last the more welcome to him. 2. David's side got ground. The house o…


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