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Bible Commentaries

Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

2 Samuel 17

Verse 1

This night - The night of the day on which David fled, and Absalom entered into Jerusalem. Ahithophel’s idea was to fall upon David by surprise, and in the first confusion of the surprised army to seize and kill David only.

Verse 3

The man whom thou seekest - namely, David. Ahithophel means to say: “If I can only smite David, there will be no civil war, all the people will peaceably submit.”

Verse 7

At this time - Rather, “The counsel which Ahithophel has given this time is not good.” He contrasts it with that given before 2 Samuel 16:21, which was good. This gave an appearance of candour to his conduct, and so gave weight to his dissent. Observe the working of David’s prayer 2 Samuel 15:31.

Verse 9

Some pit, or in some other place - The Hebrew has “in one of the pits,” or “in one of the places.” Hence, “place” must have some defined meaning. It probably is used here, as elsewhere, for a “dwelling-house” or “village,” which might in that district be fortified houses 2 Samuel 17:12; 1 Samuel 26:25.

Hushai’s argument is that there was no chance of seizing David by surprise as Ahithophel suggested. There was sure to be sharp fighting, and the terror of the names of David, Joab, Abishai, Ittai, and their companions, would magnify the first few blows received into a victory, and Absalom’s men would flee in panic. It is likely that Absalom was not a man of courage, and Hushai, knowing this, adroitly magnified the terror of the warlike prowess of David and his mighty men.

Verse 12

As the dew - Like the drops of dew, in the vast number of our host, and in our irresistible and unavoidable descent upon our enemies.

Verse 16

Hushai, like a wise and prudent man, knowing, too, Absalom’s weak and fickle character, would not depend upon the resolution, taken at his instigation, not to pursue the king, but took instant measures to advertise David of his danger.

Verse 17

En-rogel - See the marginal reference.

A wench - Hebrew “the maid servant,” namely, of the high priest, either Zadok or Abiathar, or possibly one employed in some service in the temple courts. (1 Samuel 2:22 note.)

And they went and told king David - As related afterward 2 Samuel 17:21. Here mentioned by anticipation.

Verse 18

Bahurim - See the marginal reference. They were not all Shimeis in Bahurim.

Verse 19

A covering - Hebrew “the covering,” perhaps “the hanging” or “awning” at the door of the house, as the word seems to mean when spoken of the tabernacle.

Ground corn - Or “peeled barley,” which she spread out as if for the purpose of drying it in the sun.

Verse 20

As soon as ever she had hid the men she went into the house, as if busy about her usual occupations. Had Absalom’s servants, who had had information from some of the people of Bahurim that the men had come to this house, found her in the court it might have directed their attention to the peeled barley.

Over the brook of water - Compare 2 Samuel 16:9 note. The word for “brook” (“Michal”) occurs only here. One has been found in this very district, still so called. The woman showed great presence of mind and adroitness in not denying that they had been there.

Verse 23

To his city - To Giloh (marginal reference). Ahithophel was probably influenced by deep mortification at the slight put upon him by rejecting his counsel. He is a memorable example of the impotence of worldly wisdom. Compare the marginal reference.

Verse 24

Mahanaim - See 2 Samuel 2:8. The same reasons which induced Abner to choose it for Ishbosheth probablv made it a good rallying point for David. It was a strong city, in a well-provisioned country, with a mountainous district for retreat in case of need, and with a warlike and friendly population.

Verse 25

Ithra an Israelite - Or “Jether the Ishmeelite” 1 Chronicles 2:17. “Ithra” and “Jether” are practically the same names. “Israelite” in the text is wrong. It should be either “Ishmaelite” or “Jezreelite” 2 Samuel 3:2.

Abigail the daughter of Nahash - If Zeruiah and Abigail were Jesse’s daughters, the only probable way of reconciling our text with 1 Chronicles 2:16-13.2.17, is to suppose that Nahash was Jesse’s wife. If Zeruiah and Abigail were only sisters of David by the mother, then Nahash might be the name of her first husband.

Verse 27

Shobi’s father may have been the king of the Ammonites, and Shobi appointed by David as tributary king or governor of Ammon after he took Rabbah 2 Samuel 12:29. On the other hand, Nahash may have been a common name among the Ammonites, and the Nahash of 2 Samuel 17:25 may have been of that nation.

On Machir, see the marginal reference.

Barzillai was ancestor, through a daughter, to a family of priests, who were called after him “sons of Barzillai,” and who returned from captivity with Zerubbabel, but were not allowed to officiate as priests, or eat of the holy things, through defect of a proper register Ezra 2:61-15.2.63. It is likely that being wealthy they had neglected their priestly privileges, as a means of maintenance, before the captivity.

Rogelim was situated in the highlands of Gilead, but the exact situation is not known. It means “the fullers,” being the plural of the word “Rogel,” in “En-Rogel,” 2 Samuel 17:17.

Verse 29

Cheese of kine - Or, as others, “milch cows,” which is more in accordance with the context, being coupled with “sheep,” and is more or less borne out etymologically by the Arabic. God’s care for David was evident in the kindness of these people.

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Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 17". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/2-samuel-17.html. 1870.