Mighty Men of David - The Thirty

The Thirty

The Thirty are not heavily described by the text, merely listed. The list is somewhat corrupt, and there are several differences between the ancient manuscripts of the list, whether they are of the masoretic text or of the Septuagint. Textual scholars generally consider the Septuagint to be more reliable than the masoretic text in regard to this list, particularly since the masoretic text of Chronicles matches the Septuagint version of the Books of Samuel more closely than the masoretic version. In addition there are a few places where it is uncertain whether one person is referred to or if it is two people. The individuals that are clearly identified are:

  • Elhanan son of Dodo from Bethlehem
  • Shammah from Arad
  • Helez from Beth-Palet
  • Ira son of Ikkesh from Tekoa
  • Abiezer from Anathoth
  • a man from Hushah that was named either Mebunnai (according to the masoretic text) or was named Sibbecai (according to the Septuagint and Chronicles)
  • Zalmon, descended from Ahoah
  • Maharai from Netophah
  • Heleb son of Baanah from Netophah
  • Ithai son of Ribai from Gibeah
  • Benaiah from Pirathon
  • a man from the ravines of Gaash that was named Hiddai (according to the masoretic text) or was named Hurai (according to the Septuagint and Chronicles)
  • Abi-Albon from Beth-Arabah
  • Azmaveth from Bahurim
  • Eliahba from Shaalbim
  • the (unnamed) sons of a man that was either named Hashem and was from Gizon (according to the Septuagint and Chronicles) or was named Jashen (according to the masoretic text)
  • Ahiam from Arad, whose father was either named Sharar (according to the masoretic text) or was named Sacar (according to the Septuagint and Chronicles)
  • Eliphelet from Maacah, whose father was either named Ahasbai (according to the Books of Samuel) or Ur (according to Chronicles)
  • Eliam son of Ahithophel from Giloh
  • Hezro from Carmel
  • Zelek from Ammon
  • Ira from Jattir
  • Gareb from Jattir
  • Uriah the Hittite.

In addition to these, there are a few cases where an individual is named, and is then followed by a description that is unclear as to whether it refers to them, or whether it refers to an additional unnamed person:

  • Naharai from Beeroth, (and/who is) the armour-bearer of Joab
  • Igal son of Nathan from Zobah, (and/who is) the son of a man named Hagri (according to the masoretic text and Chronicles) or Haggadi (according to the Septuagint).

For the remaining names of the list, there are some significant textual issues, the most minor of which being that the Books of Samuel lists Paarai the Arbite but the Book of Chronicles lists Naarai son of Exbai instead. The list in Samuel is generally presented in pairs, where each member of a pair comes from a similar location to the other member, but this pattern is broken by Shammah (from Arad), Elika (from Arad), and Helez (from Beth-Palet), who make a trio; in Chronicles, however, Elika isn't even listed.

The final name(s) on the list itself is/are given by the masoretic text as Jonathan son of Shammah from Arad, but the septuagint has Jonathan, Shammah from Arad; the septuagint implies that the passage was understood to refer to a Jonathan significant enough to need no further qualification, thus probably referring to the Jonathan that elsewhere is described as a son of Saul—which Jonathan being a son of Shammah would contradict. According to textual scholars Jonathan is distinctly associated by other parts of the Books of Samuel with the Hebrews, while Saul is distinctly associated with the Israelites (who the text consistently treats as a distinct group from the Hebrews), and his being Saul's son is considered by some textual scholars as more ethnological than necessarily literal.

As the list is proceeded with ...David put him in command of his bodyguard. Ashahel, brother of Joab. Among the thirty were....., an Asahel the brother of Joab is sometimes considered to be part of the list, having become misplaced rather than the start of a lost passage.

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