Question: "Who were the mighty men of David?"
Answer: Second Samuel 23:8–39 and 1 Chronicles 11:10–47 list a group of people known as mighty men of David or David’s mighty men. They are also referred to as the “thirty chiefs” (1 Chronicles 11:15) and simply “the Thirty” (1 Chronicles 12:4). These mighty men of David were a group of David’s toughest military warriors who were credited with heroic feats, including Josheb-basshebeth, who killed 800 men in one battle with a spear (2 Samuel 23:8).
Additional notable actions listed include the deeds of a man named Eleazar, who stayed on the battlefield when other warriors fled and killed Philistines until his hand was stuck clenched around his sword (2 Samuel 23:9–10); and the exploits of Abishai, the leader of the mighty men, who killed 300 men with a spear (23:18).
Benaiah was known for going into a pit on a snowy day and killing a lion and for killing a powerful Egyptian man with the man’s own spear (2 Samuel 23:20–21). He also served as leader of David’s bodyguards (23:23).
Within this list of mighty men are three men who served as a special elite group: Josheb-basshebeth, Eleazar, and Shammah. Their exact roles are not made clear, but they were certainly seen as stand-outs among David’s mighty men.
Although the mighty men are called “the Thirty,” a total of 37 men are listed, meaning that not all of these men were on the team the entire time. Some of them, like Uriah, were killed in battle during David’s reign. Another explanation may be that David’s elite group of mighty men numbered approximately 30, a figure not meant to be exact.
Some of these mighty men of David had considerable military skill and the blessing of God. David’s mighty men served an important role in protecting the king and fighting for the freedom of their nation, the land of Israel.
The full list of the mighty men of David is located in 2 Samuel 23 and includes the following names:
1. Josheb-basshebeth, a Tahchemonite
2. Eleazar, the son of Dodo
3. Shammah, the son of Agee the Hararite
8. Shammah of Harod
9. Elika of Harod
10. Helez the Paltite
11. Ira, the son of Ikkesh of Tekoa
12. Abiezer of Anthoth
13. Mebunnai the Hushathite
14. Zalmon the Ahohite
15. Maharai of Netophah
16. Heleb, the son of Baanah of Netophah
17. Ittai, the son of Ribai of Gibeah of the people of Benjamin
18. Benaiah of Pirathon
19. Hiddai of the brooks of Gaash
20. Abi-albon the Arbathite
21. Azmaveth of Bahurim
22. Eliahba the Shaalbonite
23. The sons of Jashen
25. Shammah the Hararite
26. Ahiam, the son of Sharar the Hararite
27. Eliphelet, the son of Ahasbai of Maacha
28. Eliam, the son of Ahithophel of Gilo
29. Hezro of Carmel
30. Paarai the Arbite
31. Igal, the son of Nathan of Zobah
32. Bani the Gadite
33. Zelek the Ammonite
34. Naharai of Beeroth
35. Ira the Ithrite
36. Gareb the Ithrite
37. Uriah the Hittite