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Bible Commentaries

Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

2 Samuel 18

Verse 2

A third part - This seems to have been a favorite division with the Hebrew commanders (see Judges 7:16; Judges 9:43; 1 Samuel 11:11; 2 Kings 11:5-12.11.6) and with the Philistines also 1 Samuel 13:17.

Verse 3

Succour us out of the city - David, with a reserve, would hold the city, and either support the bands in case of need, or receive them within the walls should they be compelled to flee.

Verse 6

Against Israel - Implying that the revolt was in a great measure that of the ten tribes, Saul’s party, against the kingdom.

The wood of Ephraim - This would naturally be sought in the west of Jordan (marginal reference). But on the other hand it seems certain that the scene of this battle was on the east of Jordan. It seems therefore inevitable to conclude that some portion of the thick wood of oaks and terebinths which still runs down to the Jordan on the east side was for some reason called “the wood of Ephraim,” either because it was a continuation on the east side of the great Ephraimitic forests on the west, or because of some transaction there in which Ephraim had taken part, such as the slaughter of the Midianites Judges 7:24-7.7.25, or their own slaughter Judges 12:6.

Verse 8

The battle was scattered - Probably Absalom’s forces were far more numerous than David’s; but, most likely by Joab’s skillful generalship, the field of battle was such that numbers did not tell, and David’s veteran troops were able to destroy Absalom’s rabble in detail. The wood entangled them, and was perhaps full of pits, precipices, and morasses 2 Samuel 18:17.

Verse 9

would seem that the two things which his vain-glory boasted in, the royal mule, and the magnificent head of hair by which he was caught in the “oak” (rather, terebinth or turpentine tree), both contributed to his untimely death.

Verse 11

Ten shekels - (About 25 shillings.) The word “shekel” is understood, as in Genesis 20:16; Genesis 37:28. See the Exodus 38:24 note.

A girdle - Girdles were costly articles of Hebrew dress used to put money in Matthew 10:9, and given as presents 1 Samuel 18:4.

Verse 13

The man gives a remarkable incidental testimony to David’s sagacity and penetration (compare 2 Samuel 14:19), and to Joab’s known unscrupulousness.

Verse 14

I may not tarry ... - i. e., lose time in such discourse.

Verse 16

Blew the trumpet - To stop the pursuit and slaughter 2 Samuel 2:28; 2 Samuel 20:22.

Verse 17

A great heap of stones - See the marginal reference. This kind of monument is common to almost all early nations.

Verse 18

The king’s dale - Anciently the “valley” of “Shaveh” (marginal reference), and apparently in the near neighborhood of Sodom; but the exact site is not known. It quite agrees with Absalom’s preference for Hebron 2 Samuel 15:7, that his monument should be reared by him in the south. If Absalom’s monument be placed in the ravine of the Kedron, the “king’s dale” here is a different place from the “dale of Shaveh.”

Absalom’s place - literally, “Absalom’s hand.” (1 Samuel 15:12 note.)

Verse 19

Ahimaaz was a well-known runner 2 Samuel 18:27. Speed was a heroic virtue in those simple times (compare 2 Samuel 2:18). In Hezekiah’s reign 2 Chronicles 30:6, 2 Chronicles 30:10 we find an establishment of running post-men; and the same name (“runners”) is given Esther 3:13 to the Persian posts, though at that time they rode on mules and camels.

Bear tidings - The original word is used almost exclusively of bearing good tidings, and hence, is rendered in the Septuagint (though not always) εὐαγγίζεσθαι euangelizesthai 2 Samuel 4:10; 1 Samuel 31:9. In 2 Samuel 18:21, it is not “carry the good tidings,” but “tell,” simply “announce.”

Verse 21

Cushi - “The Cushite,” a foreign slave, perhaps of Joab’s, whom he did not scruple to expose to David’s anger. If, however, it is a name, it must be rendered “Haccushi.” In the title to Psalms 7:0, “Cush, the Benjamite,” cannot mean this Cushi, since the contents of the Psalm are not suitable to this occasion.

Verse 23

The plain - The floor of the valley through which the Jordan runs. The Cushite did not run by that road, but took the road over the hills, which may well have been the shorter but also the more difficult road. The two roads would probably meet a short distance from Mahanaim. These words, which have been thought to prove that the battle took place on the west of Jordan, are a clear proof that it took place on the east, because if the runners had had to cross the Jordan, they must both have come by the same road, which it is clear they did not.

Verse 28

Ahimaaz called - This marks the eager haste with which, before he had quite reached the king, he shouted out the pithy decisive word of good tidings, “Shalom!” Peace!

Hath delivered - See the margin. The figure seems to be that of confining a person within the power of his enemy, in opposition to “giving him his liberty” “in a large room,” to work what mischief he pleases.

Verse 31

Tidings ... - Rather, “Let my lord the king receive the good tidings.”

Verse 33

There is not in the whole of the Old Testament a passage of deeper pathos than this. Compare Luke 19:41. In the Hebrew Bible this verse commences the nineteenth chapter. The King James Version follows the Greek and Latin versions.

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Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 18". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/2-samuel-18.html. 1870.