› Forums › Religion › Who was Barzillai in the Bible › Reply To: Who was Barzillai in the Bible
Barzillai was a Friend of David who had supported him when he fled Jerusalem to Mahanain as a result of Absalom’s rebellion.
When David came to Mahanaim, Shobi the son of Nahash from Rabbah of the Ammonites, and Machir the son of Ammiel from Lo-debar, and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim, brought beds, basins, and earthen vessels, wheat, barley, flour, parched grain, beans and lentils, honey and curds and sheep and cheese from the herd, for David and the people with him to eat. 2 SAMUEL 17:27–29 ESV
There are always plenty of “friends” around when times are good, but true friends stick by us even when times are hard. Barzillai was indeed a friend of David. And David made sure he was good to Barzillai in return.
Late in David’s reign as king of Israel, his son Absalom rebelled against him and attempted to usurp the throne. Absalom’s rebellion had gained such momentum that David and those still loyal to him were forced to flee Jerusalem to a town named Mahanaim on the other side of the Jordan River (2 Samuel 15–17). When he arrived, several friends of David showed their loyalty to him by providing for the basic needs of David and his men. Barzillai was one of those who provided food and supplies.
When the rebellion was put down and David was returning to Jerusalem, Barzillai accompanied David to the Jordan River to send him on his way (2 Samuel 19). In return for the kindness that Barzillai had shown, David invited Barzillai to come live with him in Jerusalem.
Barzillai politely declined, saying that he was too old even to enjoy the comforts the king enjoyed at his palace. So Barzillai sent another friend in his place, and David blessed Barzillai. Later David instructed Solomon to continue to grant a place at his table for the sons of Barzillai (1 Kings
The story of Barzillai and David is a perfect example of ancient Near Eastern hospitality. A guest (which David was to Barzillai) was to be hosted and protected at great cost, even to the detriment of one’s family. A good host also accompanied his parting guest for the first portion of his continuing journey. Likewise, such hospitality was expected to be repaid, even if the offer of repayment was merely an empty gesture and not really expected to be accepted.