2 Samuel 5 – “David is Anointed; David Conquers Jerusalem; David Defeats the Philistines”

Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
All of the tribes anoint David as king of Israel. David captures Jerusalem from the Jebusites and makes it his stronghold. He then routs the Philistines who assemble against him.

II. Photo
David enjoys a time of prosperity: “After he left Hebron, David took more concubines and wives in Jerusalem, and more sons and daughters were born to David.” (v. 13)

III. Important Verses
3: All the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and King David made a pact with them in Hebron before the LORD. And they anointed David king over Israel.
6-8: The king and his men set out for Jerusalem against the Jebusites who inhabited the region. David was told, “You will never get in here! Even the blind and the lame will turn you back.” (They meant: David will never enter here.) But David captured the stronghold of Zion; it is now the City of David. On that occasion David said, “Those who attack the Jebusites shall reach the water channel and [strike down] the lame and the blind, who are hateful to David.” That is why they say: “No one who is blind or lame may enter the House.”
11: King Hiram of Tyre sent envoys to David with cedar logs, carpenters, and stonemasons; and they built a palace for David.
17-20: When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king over Israel, the Philistines marched up in search of David; but David heard of it, and he went down to the fastness. The Philistines came and spread out over the Valley of Rephaim. David inquired of the LORD, “Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will You deliver them into my hands?” And the LORD answered David, “Go up, and I will deliver the Philistines into your hands.” Thereupon David marched to Baal-perazim, and David defeated them there. And he said, “The LORD has broken through my enemies before me as waters break through [a dam].” That is why that place was named Baal-perazim.
21: The Philistines abandoned their idols there, and David and his men carried them off.

IV. Outline
1-3. David is anointed king of Israel
4-5. Chronology
6-8. David captures Jerusalem; A saying about the “blind and the lame”
9-10. David fortifies the city
11-12. Hiram of Tyre helps David build a palace
13-16. David’s children born in Jerusalem
17-20. The Philistines assemble; David speaks to God; David Defeats the Philistines
21. The Philistine idols are the spoils of war
22-25. The Philistines assemble; David speaks to God; David Defeats the Philistines

V. Comment
Chapter 5 begins with David’s investiture as the king of Israel: “All the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and King David made a pact with them in Hebron before the LORD. And they anointed David king over Israel.” (v. 3) There is no break in the narrative between this chapter and the one that preceded it, giving the impression that David was anointed immediately after Ish-bosheth’s murder. However, if this were the case, the chronology of 2 Samuel 2:10-11 would be incorrect: “Ish-bosheth son of Saul was forty years old when he became king of Israel, and he reigned two years. But the House of Judah supported David. The length of time that David reigned in Hebron over the House of Judah was seven years and six months.” Thus, these verses make it clear that if David ruled 7 years in Hebron, and Ish-bosheth only reigned for two years before his own death, there must have been a 5 year interregnum before David became the king of Israel.

Anderson proposes the following solution to this problem: “Unfortunately, there is no simple solution, but tentatively we suggest a synthesis based on certain points. First of all, it seems that we should not take the chronological notes too literally. The essential factor in them is that David ruled seven years in Hebron and thirty-three years in Jerusalem rather than the precise length of his rule over Judah alone. Second, the Israel ruled by Ishbosheth may have consisted only of a few tribes or tribal elements, because we must reckon with some sort of Philistine occupation. This is implied by the fact that Ishbosheth’s center of government was located in Mahanaim, in Transjordan. Third, the fact that two passages are collocated need not necessarily indicate that also the events recorded in them must be closely linked in time. Consequently, our provisional explanation is that only gradually David was able to establish his rule over Israel so that there may have been a sort of interregnum before he actually became king of all Israel. It is possible that some form of covenant (or even covenants) may have been made soon after the death of Ishbosheth with some Israelite elements but it is doubtful whether at this point all Israel could act as a political entity. Thus David’s anointing may have come at the end of a lengthy process of unification rather than at the beginning. It is not improbable that some reminiscences of such a prolonged process are still found in 1 Chr 12 where various groups of Israelites joined David at different times and places. Clearly, this passage is very difficult exegetically but the proposed interpretation is a possibility.” (77)

After conquering the city of Jerusalem, David defeats the Philistines in two separate battles. The accounts of these battles are both short and formulaic. Unfortunately, we do not have any Philistine writing to supplement the biblical descriptions of these battles. In fact, when it comes to Philistine writing, we don’t have much at all. Dothan writes: “Several stamp seals found in 12th-century strata at Ashdod may provide the only extant examples of Philistine language and writing. Used to imprint a lump of clay affixed to a letter, the text is apparently related to the Linear A and B scripts and the Cypro-Minoan syllabary utilized in the Aegean during the LB Age. Philistine words and personal names as they are preserved in the Bible are another possible key to the enigma of the origins of the Philistines and their language. The word seren, the head of each Philistine city-state, seems to be linguistically related to the Greek tyrannos (“tyrant”), likely a proto-Greek Illyrian or Lydian word that later entered the Greek language. The name Achish, Agchous in the LXX and Homer, which closely resembles the name Ikusu, king of Ekron in the Essarhadon annals, is sometimes compared with Agchiseœs (Homer, Il. 2.189). Agchiseœs, in Greek tradition, was related to the Dardanians, one of the Illyrian tribes that later migrated to Asia Minor and Greece. Scholarly opinion is divided on Goliath, which is sometimes compared to the Lydian Alyatteœs.” (Trude Dothan, “Philistines: Archaeology” in the Anchor Biblie Dictionary, vol. 5 pp. 328-333)

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
Anderson, A. A. “2 Samuel” Word Biblical Commentary, vol. 11 (Waco Texas: Wordbooks, 1989).
Collins, John J. “Introduction to the Hebrew Bible,” (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004).
Trude Dothan, “Philistines: Archaeology” in the Anchor Biblie Dictionary, vol. 5 pp. 328-333
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