2 Samuel 1:18

(Also he bade them teach the children of Judah the use of the bow: behold, it is written in the book of Jasher.)

(Also he bade them teach the children of Judah the use of the bow,.... These words, with what follow in this verse, are rightly put into a parenthesis, since they do not begin nor make any part of the elegiac song, or lamentation of David; and are here inserted to show, that, amidst his sorrow and lamentation, he was not unmindful of the welfare of the people, and to provide for their defence and security; and therefore gave orders that care should be taken, especially in the tribe of Judah, which was his own tribe, and where he had the greatest authority, and for whom he might have the chiefest concern, that they should be trained up in military exercises, learn the art of war, and the use of every weapon of war, particularly of the bow, which, being a principal one, may be put for all; and which may be the rather mentioned, because the Philistines were expert in the use of it, and seemed to have done much execution with it in the recent battle, see 1 Samuel 31:3. They are said {p} to be the inventors of it; though Pliny {q} ascribes it to others; and it may be the people of Israel and of Judah had of late neglected to learn the use of it, and to make use of it, and instead of that had taken to other sort of arms in fighting; for that that was not unknown to them, or wholly disused, is clear from this song, 2 Samuel 1:22; see also 1 Chronicles 12:2. Moreover, as the Philistines, especially the Cherethites, were expert in archery, David found ways and means to get some of them afterwards into his service, and by whom he might improve his people in the art, see 2 Samuel 8:18; though some {r} are of opinion that the word "keshet", or bow, was the title of the following lamentation or song, taken from the mention of Jonathan's bow in it; which song the children of Judah were to be taught to sing; but then, as has been observed by some, for this there would have been no need of the following reference, since the whole this song is here recorded:

behold, it is written in book of Jasher); which the Targum calls the book of the law; and Jarchi and Ben Gersom restrain it to the book of Genesis, the book of the upright, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and suppose respect is had to the prophecy concerning Judah, Genesis 49:8, but Kimchi, extending it to all the five books of Moses, adds his blessing, in Deuteronomy 33:7. In the Arabic version it is explained of the book of Samuel, interpreted the book of songs, as if it was a collection of songs; which favours the above sense. Jerom {s} interprets it of the same book, the book of the righteous prophets, Samuel, Gad, and Nathan: hut this book seems to have been a public register or annals, in which were recorded memorable actions in any age, and had its name from the uprightness and faithfulness in which it was kept; and in this were set down the order of David for the teaching the children of Judah the use of the bow, and perhaps the method which he directed to for instruction in it; See Gill on "Joshua 10:13".

{p} Bedford's Chronology, p. 245.
{q} Nat. Hist. l. 7. c. 56.
{r} See Gregory's Notes and Observations, &c. ch. 1. and Weemse of the Judicial Laws, c. 44. p. 171.
{s} Trad. Heb. in 2 lib. Reg. fol. 77. D.