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Bible Commentaries

Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

2 Samuel 15

Verse 1

Before him. Romulus instituted the 300 guards, whom he called Celeres, for the like purpose. (Calmet) --- Absalom's ambition could not wait patiently for the death of his father, who was not yet sixty years old, and had been first anointed forty years before, ver. 7. He looked upon himself as the heir apparent, Amnon being now slain, and Cheliab (or Daniel) either dead, as it is thought, or unfit for government, while Solomon was only eight years old. (Salien) --- The quality of his mother, and his own personal qualifications, made him despise his brethren, and he began to assume the equipage of a king. (Calmet) --- David considered this as only the effect of juvenile vanity, and he had not a mind to irritate him, without the utmost necessity. (Salien) --- Hebrew, "Absalom prepared for himself a chariot, (Protestants, chariots) and horses," &c. (Haydock) --- It is not certain whether he had any other horsemen but those who mounted the chariots. Horses were then very scarce in Israel. (Calmet) --- Adonias afterwards imitated his brother's ambition, during his father's life; (3 Kings i. 5.) so that evil was continually raised up against David, out of his own house, chap. xii. 11.

Verse 2

Israel. Absalom rises early for wickedness. He assumes the character of a more zealous and disinterested judge, as if to contrast his conduct with the remissness of some appointed by the king; though the Holy Ghost bears witness to the integrity of David, chap. viii. 15. Who would not be deceived by such appearances, if the arts of hypocrites had not taught us to examine things to the bottom, and to be upon our guard? If thy eye be evil, thy whole body will be darksome. [Matthew vi. 23.] The intention decides all. (Haydock)

Verse 5

Kissed him. Engaging affability! How often abused by the ambitious, for similar purposes! (Haydock) --- Thus acted Otho. Protendens manum, adorare vulgus, jacere oscula et omnia serviliter pro dominatione. (Tacitus, Hist. i.) --- "Stretching out his hand, he bowed to the common people, dispensing his kisses at random, and performed all the acts of servility to obtain the throne." (Haydock)

Verse 6

Enticed. Hebrew, "stole." The people were not aware of his designs. (Calmet) --- Absalom rendered them dissatisfied with the present government, and led them to expect better days, under his administration. (Haydock)

Verse 7

Forty, which Vatable dates from the time when the people petitioned for a king; Salien, from the first anointing of David. (Menochius) --- It is probable enough that this number has been substituted instead of four, which Josephus, Theodoret, Syriac, Arabic, and many Latin manuscripts read; and Absalom would employ this term in securing the interest of Israel, before he declared himself openly their king. (Calmet) --- He had been so long at Jerusalem, since his return. (Salien) --- The canon of Hebrew verity, supposed to be made about the ninth century, is said (by Martinnay; Haydock) to be altered by some correcting hand, from four to forty. (Kennicott) --- This is the famous Memmian canon, which Theodulph, bishop of Orleans, is believed to have ordered, as the standard of truth, according to the Hebrew copies of that day: (Haydock) and this seems to have guided the Ben. editor of St. Jerome's works, and of his translation; so that it is no wonder if "the printed copies agree in so many places with the corrupted Hebrew." Canon Memmianus pure leget juxta Hebr'e6um, quod nos edidimus. (Note on 2 Paralipomenon xiii. 3, 17.) The Vulgate of Sixtus V, in that passage, as well as in the present, reads the smaller numbers, as he was guided by the best Latin copies, whereas Clement VIII has also consulted "the Hebrew fountains." The former, says Kennicott, (Diss. ii. p. 205) "seems to have been printed on a juster plan....and the old Latin version is likely to be found more pure in the edition of Sixtus than in that of Clement, since the latter seems to have corrected his Latin by the modern (i.e., the corrupted) Hebrew copies." Dr. James observes, that "almost all the Latin editions received in the Church, for many years, (preceding 1590) agree with Sixtus," who here reads quatuor, with many others; so that Grotius is well supported in having pronounced so decisively, "without doubt there is a mistake, two letters having been added at the end of arba. The thing itself declares that four years had elapsed." (Kennicott) --- It appears to be indubitable, that some mistakes have taken place with regard to numbers. But that this place is incorrect may not be so certain, as the chronology of Salien, Usher, &c., explains it well enough. The Hebrew text was esteemed more correct when the last editions of St. Jerome, and of the Vulgate, were given, than it is at present. (Haydock)

Verse 8

Lord. The pretext seemed very bad, since he ought not to have delayed so long to perform his vow. Moreover, the usual places for sacrifice were Gabaon or Sion. But Absalom might plead a respect for the patriarchs, who were buried at Hebron. (St. Jerome, Trad.) (Menochius)

Verse 10

Spies, or men to give a plausible appearance to his ambition, and to insinuate that all was done according to order, and with David's approbation. "The first word (or step) is the most difficult," on such occasions; (Tacitus, Hist. ii.; Grotius) and those who find themselves incautiously entangled, find a repugnance to recede. (Haydock) --- Reigneth. He was solemnly anointed, chap. xix. 10. (Menochius)

Verse 11

Design. Their hearts had been stolen, ver. 6. They only meant to do honour to the prince, but by no means to join in his rebellion, like the rest. (Calmet)

Verse 12

Achitophel, the grandfather of Bethsabee; to revenge whose dishonour, he had instigated the young prince to revolt, and had planned his rebellion; (Salien) so that he was every ready to lend his assistance. (Calmet)

Verse 13

Absalom. How came they to abandon a king, appointed by heaven, and adorned with so many virtues? God was resolved to punish him. Many are always desirous of novelty. David had lately been guilty of two scandalous crimes. Joab remained unpunished, and arrogant; the judges neglected their duty, &c., ver. 3. Some had still a partiality for the family of Saul. (Calmet) (Grotius)

Verse 14

Ruin, of a house falling. Hebrew, "evil." David gives way to the fury of the rebels, hoping that they will enter into themselves, without bloodshed. He departs on foot, like a penitent, acknowledging the justice of God. Fear does not prompt him to leave Jerusalem, which was a place of such strength, (chap. v. 6.) nor are his attendants abandoned on a sudden by that courage, which made some of them a match for a whole army. David disposes of all things with great coolness and prudence. (Calmet) --- He wishes to appease God. (Menochius)

Verse 16

Concubines. That is, wives of an inferior degree, (Challoner; Genesis xxv.; Worthington) who might perhaps have some influence to pacify the rioters.

Verse 17

House, or palace, (Haydock) at the foot of the walls, (Calmet) that all who were well disposed, might join the king's standard. Hebrew, "in a place that was far off;" (Haydock) or, "this house of flight (this family of David, in flight) stopped." (Calmet)

Verse 18

Phelethi, the king's foreign guards, of Philistine extraction, chap. viii. 18. --- Gethites, who had been probably induced to enter his service by Ethai, ver. 19. (Calmet) --- Men. This number David kept up, in honour of those valiant companions who had defended him at Odollam, &c. (Salien) --- It is observable, that David is attended only by his own family, and by strangers; representing Jesus Christ, who rejects the Synagogue and its sacrifices, while he makes choice of the Gentiles. (Calmet)

Verse 19

Ethai. Many assert that he was the son of Achis, and had embraced the true religion. (Menochius) --- King; Absalom, who will not molest you. (Haydock) --- Some translate the Hebrew, "Return from the king." (Syriac [and] Arabic)

Verse 20

The Lord. Hebrew, "mercy and truth with thee." As thou hast acted towards me, so mayest thou be rewarded. (Haydock)

Verse 23

Cedron. Hebrew nachal Kidron, may signify, "the shady torrent," or "vale," as it is styled by Josephus. It does not take its name from cedars. It is dry in summer, and when filled with water, in only three steps across. (Doubdan xxvii.) --- Desert, of Bethel, (Calmet) or of Jericho, where St. John the Baptist and our Saviour dwelt for some time. David passed over Kedron, only after he had dismissed the priests. (Menochius)

Verse 24

Went up to the ark, or along with the rest. (Calmet)

Verse 25

City. Abiathar had consulted the Lord for David, and received no answer; whence the king concluded that he had not suffered enough. (Menochius) --- David displays a faith which could hardly have been expected of the carnal Jews. He confesses that God will reward the virtuous, and punish the wicked, independently of the ark, the symbol of his presence, and of which he deemed himself unworthy. (Calmet)

Verse 27

Seer, supposing he was high priest, along with Abiathar, he might be thus addressed as one who consulted God by the ephod, as he might also, if he presided over the prophets, like Chonenias, 1 Paralipomenon xv. 22. (Dionysius) (Menochius) --- Hebrew, " Art not thou a seer?" a prudent man, who may be of greater service to me in the city; (Haydock; or ) seest thou not "the state of my affairs?" Septuagint, "See and return." Follow my advice, or then act as your own wisdom dictates. (Calmet)

Verse 30

Weeping, &c. David on this occasion wept for his sins, which he knew were the cause of all his sufferings. (Challoner) --- Barefoot, like a criminal, or one in mourning, Isaias xx. 4., and Ezechiel xxiv. 17. (Calmet) --- Covered, that the people might not see him. (Worthington)

Verse 31

Infatuate: "render useless;" (Theodotion) "dissipate," Septuagint. (Calmet) --- God hindered the wise counsel of Achitophel from being regarded. (Haydock)

Verse 32

The Lord, before he lost sight of the holy city, where the ark was kept. (Calmet) --- Arachite, a convert, (Menochius) from Arach, or Edessa. (St. Jerome, Trad. in Genesis x.)

Verse 33

CHAPTER XV.

To me, as he was perhaps advanced in years, though very prudent. (Menochius)

Verse 34

Defeat; ( dissipabis ) "render of no effect." (Haydock) --- Thus princes keep spies in an enemy's country. (Calmet)

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Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 15". "Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hcc/2-samuel-15.html. 1859.