as'-a-hel (`asah'el, "God hath made"; Asael):
(1) The brother of Joab and Abishai. The three were sons of Zeruiah, one of David's sisters (1 Chronicles 2:15,16; 2 Samuel 2:18, etc.). The three brothers seem to have been from the beginning members of David's troop of strangely respectable brigands. Asahel was distinguished for his swift running, and this fact brought misfortune upon him and upon Israel. When Abner and the forces of Ish-bosheth were defeated near Gibeon, Asahel pursued Abner. Abner knew that he could outright Asahel, though he could not outrun him. He also knew that the time had come for making David king, and that a blood feud among the leaders would be a calamity. He expostulated with Asahel, but in vain. It came to a fight, and Abner slew Asahel (2 Samuel 2:3). As a result the coming of David to the throne of all Israel was delayed; and when at last Abner brought it about, he himself was treacherously killed by Joab in alleged blood revenge for Asahel. Asahel is mentioned as sixth in the list of David's "mighty men" (2 Samuel 23:24; 1 Chronicles 11:26).
The earlier of the names in this list are evidently arranged in the order of seniority. If it be assumed that the list was not made till after the death of Asahel, still there is no difficulty in the idea that some of the names in the list were placed there posthumously. Asahel is also mentioned as the fourth of David's month-by-month captains (1 Chronicles 27:7). Superficial criticism describes this position as that of "commander of a division of David's army," and regards the statement, "and Zebadiah his son after him," as a note added to explain the otherwise incredible assertion of the text. This criticism is correct in its implication that the fourth captain was, as the text stands, the dead Asahel, in the person of his son Zebadiah. Coming from an annotator, the criticism regards this meaning as intelligible; is it any the less so if we regard it as coming from the author? In fact, the statement is both intelligible and credible. The second of David's month-by-month captains is Dodai, the father of the second of David's "mighty men"; and the fourth is Asahel, with his son Zebadiah. With these two variations the twelve month-by-month captains are twelve out of the nineteen seniors in the list of mighty men, and are mentioned in practically the same order of seniority. The 24,000 men each month were not a fighting army mobilized for war. The position of general for a month, whatever else it may have involved, was an honor held by a distinguished veteran. There is no absurdity in the idea that the honor may in some cases have been posthumous, the deceased being represented by his father or his son or by someone else.
(2) A Levite member of the commission of captains and Levites and priests which Jehoshaphat, in his third year, sent among the cities of Judah, with the book of the law, to spread information among the people (2 Chronicles 17:7-9).
(3) One of the keepers of the storechambers in the temple in the time of Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 31:13).
(4) The father of Jonathan who was one of the two men who "stood upon this," at the time when Ezra and the people appointed a court to consider the cases of those who had married foreign wives (Ezra 10:15). The text of the Revised Version (British and American) translates "stood up against this," while the margin has "were appointed over this."
Willis J. Beecher
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