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Poole on 2 Samuel 5:6, 7: The Conquest of Jerusalem, Part 1

Verse 6:[1]  And the king and his men went (Judg. 1:21) to Jerusalem unto (Josh. 15:63; Judg. 1:8; 19:11, 12) the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land:  which spake unto David, saying, Except thou take away the blind and the lame, thou shalt not come in hither:  thinking, David cannot come in hither (or, saying, David shall not come in hither[2]).

[And the king departed to Jerusalem]  Since the people had come to his coronation armed, David was unwilling to allow the opportunity to go to waste.  That place was situated in the midst (of the kingdom), and so it was appearing the most favorable, where the law, divine and human, might be rendered (Martyr).  In Jerusalem there were two parts:  one on the declivity of the mountain, which the Jews held, Judges 1:8; Joshua 15; the other higher, or on the apex of the mountain, which is called Zion, which the Jebusites had hitherto held to the consummate dishonor of Israel (Sanchez).

The king and his men went to Jerusalem:  Having the advantage of so great a confluence of his people to make him king, he thought fit to begin his reign with some eminent action, and to lead them forth in this expedition; wherein doubtless he asked advice from God, and the consent of the elders now present.  To Jerusalem; as the place which God had designed for his worship; and in the centre and heart of his kingdom, and therefore fittest for his royal city.  The Jebusites continued to dwell there in spite of the Benjamites, to whose lot it fell.  See Joshua 15:63; Judges 1:21; 19:10, 11.

[And David was addressed by them, ‎וַיֹּ֙אמֶר לְדָוִ֤ד לֵאמֹר֙]  And he said to David, saying (Montanus) (or in this manner [Pagnine]).  He (namely, a Jebusite [Tigurinus Notes, similarly Jonathan]) addressed David, by saying (Junius and Tremellius), they saying (Syriac).  The Jebusites sent and said (Arabic).  And it was said to David (Septuagint).

[Thou shalt not come in hither[3] (thus the Septuagint, Syriac, Arabic, Pagnine, Montanus, etc.)]

[Except thou take away the blind and the lame, ‎כִּ֣י אִם־הֱסִֽירְךָ֗ הַעִוְרִ֤ים וְהַפִּסְחִים֙]  Most interpreters have ‎הֱסִירְךָ as an Infinite, and translate it, unless thou remove, etc.  Thus Rabbi Salomon, Kimchi, and Rabbi Levi; likewise Jonathan, which is not strange, since it is certain that he read all without points, and the text also admits the vowels of the Infinitive.  Yet the analogy of the Grammar stands in opposition.  For the vowels indicate that it is perfect, because the hateph-seghol (ֱ ) arose from a tsere (ֵ ) because of the suffix, for without the suffix it would be הֵסִיר, just like ‎הֱסִירָהּ, he removed her, 2 Chronicles 15:16:  but in the Infinitive it is הָסִיר, whence with a suffix it would become הֲסִירְךָ, just as in Joshua 7:13;[4] Jeremiah 32:31[5] (Dieu).  [They render this passage variously:]  But that to remove thee the blind and the lame (Montanus).  Except thou remove, or take away, the blind and the lame (Pagnine, Munster, Tigurinus, Syriac, Vatablus, similarly the Arabic, Castalio), that is, except thou conquer, etc. (Vatablus).  [Junius and Tremellius tie it with what goes before, and render it in this way, thou art not going to come hither alive, but when one will have taken thee away (that is, will have carried thee from the midst [Malvenda]); but that the blind, etc., they refer to what follows, with the blind and the lame saying, etc.]  I wonder if this is able to satisfy anyone.  Junius saw that הֱסִירְךָ was perfect; but, because it is singular, while ‎הַעִוְרִים, the blind, is plural, he thus explained it:  but it is common among the Hebrews to construe a singular verb with a plural subject, which is to be understood distributively, as in Isaiah 14:32 [and elsewhere].  Others also consider הֱסִירְךָ to be perfect, and thus Ibn Ezra[6] rightly, the lame and the blind, with thee preventing; and the Septuagint, διότι ἀντέστησαν οἱ χωλοί, etc. (because the blind and the lame resisted):  but we somewhat more accurately, but anyone of the blind and the lame shall remove thee, saying, etc. (Dieu).  Thou shalt not come in, without the blind and the lame repulsing thee (Dutch).  Question:  What is to be understood by the blind and the lame?  [I dismiss the fables of the Rabbis about two images, the one of blind Isaac, the other of lame Jacob:  that by them the Hebrews might be reminded of the covenant struck with Abimelech; concerning which see, if it is agreeable, Lyra, Munster, and Sanchez.]  Responses:  1.  The soldiers of David, whom they thus provoke with ridicule; that is to say, thy soldiers must be other than they appear, in order to perform this (Dutch).  2.  I think to be signified those that the Greeks call Atlantes, and the Latins Telamones, which are statues of male figures supporting lintels or cornices in edifices.  These were bearing the figure of the blind and the lame (Castalio).  It signifies the gables of buildings, in which they were fixed; that is to say, unless with the gables of our grand buildings surmounted, thou shalt not come in (certain interpreters in Serarius).  Or statues of the blind and the lame were formed on the walls, to signify that the citadel was so lofty and fortified, that it was able to be defended even by those statues (certain interpreters in Lapide).  But this is refuted by verse 8, whoever had smitten those blind and lame (Piscator).  [But this is not compelling; for not all join the blind with whoever had smitten, as you will see in the annotations on that verse.]  3.  Idols, which the Jebusites placed on their walls as tutelary gods (Burgos in Lapide, Osiander).  Such were called blind and lame by the Israelites, Psalm 115 (Sanchez).  4.  The Chaldean thus explains it, except thou take away the sinners and the guilty, who are called blind and lame, because they neither see nor do anything rightly.  Whence it is evident that David had friends in that city, although the greater part was of Jebusites (Martyr).  5.  The Jebusites understand themselves, as if they were thus called by David’s men in the military clash; or they supposed themselves to be considered as such by David (certain interpreters in Serarius).  With military license the Jebusites were repeatedly hurling this abuse:  thou shalt not approach hither, without the blind and the lame, that is, the most ignoble, warding thee off (Bochart’s Sacred Geography “Canaan” 4:36:344).  6.  They signify that the city is so fortified, that it is able to be defended even by the blind and the lame (Sanchez, Vatablus, Grotius, Lapide, Estius, Tirinus, Piscator).  Against thee we will not set out mighty men, but the weak and the infirm, because a place so well fortified is able to protect itself with little help (Vatablus).  The Jebusites gathered such soldiers there to taunt and mock David (Lapide out of Procopius and Tostatus, Josephus’ Antiquities 7:2, thus Martyr, Tirinus, Mariana, Malvenda).  Perhaps, what we know was done in the Prytaneum[7] at Athens, in that citadel soldiers make useless for war were cared for, whom they were saying were going to be sufficient to resist (Mariana).  Similar is the history in Ezekiel 27, in which the Tyrians, relying upon their citadels, positioned Pygmies on the walls, and those with bows slack and worn out (Martyr out of Lyra).  They reason in this way:  David is not able to remove from their station the blind and the lame that are with us, still less those seeing and whole (Piscator).

Except thou take away the blind and the lame, thou shalt not come in hither; or, Thou shalt not come in hither, but the blind and the lame shall remove or hinder thee.  By the blind and the lame they understand, either, 1.  Their own people; and so they imply that the place was so impregnable, that a few blind and lame men were able to defend it against all David’s assaults.  And these may be called and were the hated of David’s soul, verse 8, not because they were blind and lame, but because they were Jebusites, a people hated and accursed by God:  and the Jebusites of this place were more hateful to him than the rest of that nation; partly, because they possessed this place, which David knew was designed for the one and only place of God’s solemn worship; and partly because they did so wickedly and insolently defy the armies of Israel, and consequently, the God of Israel.  Or, 2.  Their gods or images; which, after the manner of the heathens, they worshipped as their tutelary gods, and placed in their gates or walls.  These they call blind and lame sarcastically, and with respect to David’s opinion; as if they said, These gods of ours, whom you Israelites reproach, as blind and lame, Psalm 115:5, 6, and so unable to direct and protect us, they will defend us against you; and you will find they are neither blind nor lame, but have eyes to watch for us, and hands to fight against you; and you must conquer them before you can take our city.  And these may well be called the hated of David’s soul.  But I prefer the former sense, as being most easy, and natural, and proper; whereas the latter is metaphorical, and seems doubtful and forced.

[Saying, David shall not come in hither, ‎לֵאמֹ֔ר לֹֽא־יָב֥וֹא דָוִ֖ד הֵֽנָּה׃]  In saying (as they were saying [Pagnine, Vatablus]; who say [Jonathan, Tigurinus]; and they say [Syriac, Arabic]; who were saying [Munster]; saying [Septuagint, Osiander], that is, within themselves and elsewhere [Osiander]), he shall not enter, or come, hither (Vatablus, Montanus).  It is able to be referred to the Jebusites, who were thus speaking (Malvenda).  A great many refer it to the blind and the lame, who were boasting that they were going to defend the citadel (Malvenda, thus Junius).

David cannot come in hither; concluding their fort to be impregnable.


Verse 7:[8]  Nevertheless David took the strong hold of Zion:  (2 Sam. 5:9; 1 Kings 2:10; 8:1) the same is the city of David.

The strong hold of Zion; either, 1.  A very strong fort which fitly had built upon Mount Zion; which being taken, the city quickly yielded.  Or, 2.  The city of Zion, which was very strongly fortified.

[The same is the city of David]  That is, thus is was afterwards called, verse 9 (Vatablus).  When the name was changed by the Lord, lest any vestige of ancient impiety remain (Sanchez).

[1] Hebrew:  ‎וַיֵּ֙לֶךְ הַמֶּ֤לֶךְ וַֽאֲנָשָׁיו֙ יְר֣וּשָׁלִַ֔ם אֶל־הַיְבֻסִ֖י יוֹשֵׁ֣ב הָאָ֑רֶץ וַיֹּ֙אמֶר לְדָוִ֤ד לֵאמֹר֙ לֹא־תָב֣וֹא הֵ֔נָּה כִּ֣י אִם־הֱסִֽירְךָ֗ הַעִוְרִ֤ים וְהַפִּסְחִים֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר לֹֽא־יָב֥וֹא דָוִ֖ד הֵֽנָּה׃

[2] Hebrew:  ‎לֵאמֹ֔ר לֹֽא־יָב֥וֹא דָוִ֖ד הֵֽנָּה׃.

[3] Hebrew:  ‎לֹא־תָב֣וֹא הֵ֔נָּה

[4] Joshua 7:13:  “Up, sanctify the people, and say, Sanctify yourselves against to morrow:  for thus saith the Lord God of Israel, There is an accursed thing in the midst of thee, O Israel:  thou canst not stand before thine enemies, until ye take away (‎עַד־הֲסִירְכֶם) the accursed thing from among you.”

[5] Jeremiah 32:31:  “For this city hath been to me as a provocation of mine anger and of my fury from the day that they built it even unto this day; that I should remove it (‎לַהֲסִירָהּ) from before my face…”

[6] Abraham Ibn Ezra (c. 1089-1164) was a renowned Spanish Rabbi.  At the heart of his work is his commentary on the Hebrew Bible.  He commented on most of the books, and his exegesis manifests a commitment to the literal sense of the text, even at the expense of traditional interpretations.

[7] The Prytaneum was the town hall of a Greek city-state.

[8] Hebrew:  ‎וַיִּלְכֹּ֣ד דָּוִ֔ד אֵ֖ת מְצֻדַ֣ת צִיּ֑וֹן הִ֖יא עִ֥יר דָּוִֽד׃

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