THE LORD SOLIDIFIES DAVID’S KINGDOM WITH 3 IMPRESSIVE VICTORIES OVER PHILISTINE GIANTS
Hugh Williamson: To conclude his survey of David’s wars, the Chronicler returns rather appropriately to further victories over the Philistines, drawn from 2 Sam 21:18-22.
Frederick Mabie: These brief summaries of battles with the Philistines underscore David’s continued dominance over even the formidable champions of the Philistine city-states. Each of these champions is directly or indirectly associated with the Rephaites (descendants of Rapha), an ethnic group noted for their massive physical size. Recall that Goliath was over nine feet tall, while the bed of King Og (who was “left of the remnant of the Rephaites” [Dt 3:11]) was thirteen feet long and six feet wide. While God is not specifically mentioned in these short vignettes, nor is David the one defeating these champions, the victory of David’s men nonetheless reflects the Chronicler’s earlier note that “the LORD gave David victory everywhere he went” (1Ch 18:6). Thus to oppose David or Israel was to oppose God (cf. Dt 20:4; see McConville, 65).
August Konkel: All three of the episodes against the Philistines engage descendants of Rapha in Gath (1 Chron 20:4, 8). This has traditionally been interpreted to be descendants of legendary giants of the past (Gen 14:5; Deut 2:10–11, 20–21; etc.). Their habitat was Bashan, the most northern part of the area east of Jordan (Deut 3:13). Descendants of the Rephaites (1 Chron 20:4) and descendants of Rapha (v. 8), literally those descended (nulledu) from Rapha, is a metaphorical use of the verb yld (to bear a child). In this case it refers to a group bound by another loyalty, such as a servant giving military service (cf. Gen 14:14; yalid, Schreiner and Botterweck: 81). Inclusion in the group was by adoption, initiation, or consecration. At Ugarit the term “Rapha” is the name of a deity who functions as a patron of elite warriors. It may be that these warriors were devoted to the god Rapha, a divine epithet meaning “one who is in a healthy condition” (L’Heureux: 84–85). These may have been warriors who constituted a choice group of soldiers [Ugarit, p. 467].
Martin Selman: The account of David’s wars is completed by three cameos taken from the Philistine wars. All three incidents are probably associated with David’s assault on Gath (18:1), since two of his three opponents came from that city (vv. 5, 6, 8). The Philistine warriors are also all called ‘Rephaites’ (RSV) or descendants of Rapha (‘giants,’ NRSV), who were one of the pre-Israelite groups in Canaan (e.g. Gen. 15:20) and famous for their size (cf. v. 6). These people were known elsewhere as the ‘Avvites’ (or Avvim), whom the first Philistines had driven out (Deut. 2:23, where Caphtorites, i.e. Cretans, certainly = Philistines), and as the ‘Anakites’ (or Anakim), who had also presumably been overrun by the Philistines since Joshua removed them from all but three Philistine towns, including Gath (Josh. 11:22).
Andrew Hill: The Chronicler returns to the Philistine “problem” to conclude his summary of David’s wars. The Philistines were the nemesis of the Israelites. The ongoing conflict stemmed primarily from the fact that the Israelites needed a seaport, as the kingdoms of Saul and David were landlocked. The narrative relates border skirmishes settled by duels between champion warriors more than full-scale war. According to Selman, “the duel was a recognized form of combat in Canaan and in the Philistines’ original homeland in the Aegean.”
I. (:4) SIBBECAI SLAYS SIPPAI AT GEZER
“Now it came about after this, that war broke out at Gezer with the Philistines; then Sibbecai the Hushathite killed Sippai, one of the descendants of the giants, and they were subdued.”
August Konkel: The first battle was at Gezer, located at the entrance to the Aijalon Valley in the Shephelah, to the west of Gibeon [Shephelah, p. 467]. This may have served as the Philistine boundary. Sibbekai the Hushathite was one of the valiant warriors who came to be in charge of one of the military divisions (1 Chron 11:29; 27:11). Elhanan is also one of David’s valiant warriors (11:26), who killed the brother of Goliath (1 Chron 20:5).
David Guzik: This description of victory over Philistine giants shows that Israel could slay giants without David. Sibbechai.… Elhanan.… Jonathan: These men accomplished heroic deeds when David was finished fighting giants. God will continue to raise up leaders when the leaders of the previous generation pass from the scene.
David’s legacy lay not only in what he accomplished but in what he left behind – a people prepared for victory. David’s triumphs were meaningful not only for himself but for others who learned victory through his teaching and example. . .
The defeat of these four giants is rightly credited to the hand of David and the hand of his servants. David had a role in this through his example, guidance, and influence.
II. (:5) ELHANAN SLAYS LAHMI THE BROTHER OF GOLIATH
“And there was war with the Philistines again,
and Elhanan the son of Jair killed Lahmi the brother of Goliath the Gittite,
the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam.”
Frederick Mabie: The brother of Goliath is identified in the parallel passage in Samuel as Goliath himself, suggesting that the term “Goliath” may be a title for Philistine national champions.
Andrew Hill: Selman speculates that the contest between Elhanan and Lahmi may have been a “round two” so to speak, after David killed Goliath.
David Selman: Finally, Goliath’s weapon, a spear with a shaft like a weaver’s rod, also has known parallels and is not the unhistorical creation which some have alleged. It was actually a javelin with a loop and cord round the shaft for greater distance and stability, and was known in the Aegean area from the twelfth century BC. Even the Old Testament reports one in the possession of another non-Israelite (1 Chr. 11:23).
III. (:6-8) JONATHAN SLAYS GIANT WITH 24 FINGERS AND TOES
A. (:6) Distinctive Features = Giant with 24 Fingers and Toes
“And again there was war at Gath, where there was a man of great stature who had twenty-four fingers and toes, six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot; and he also was descended from the giants.”
B. (:7) Destroyed When He Taunted Israel
“And when he taunted Israel,
Jonathan the son of Shimea, David’s brother, killed him.”
C. (:8) Descended from Giants at Gath
“These were descended from the giants in Gath,
and they fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants.”