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Bible Commentaries
2 Samuel 14

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

Now Joab the son of Zeruiah perceived that the king's heart was toward Absalom. No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 2

And Joab sent to Tekoah, and fetched thence a wise woman, and said unto her, I pray thee, feign thyself to be a mourner, and put on now mourning apparel, and anoint not thyself with oil, but be as a woman that had a long time mourned for the dead:

Joab sent to Tekoah, and fetched thence a wise woman. The king was strongly attached to Absalom; and having now gotten over his sorrow for the violent death of Amnon, was desirous of again enjoying the society of his favourite son, wine had now been three long years absent. But a dread of public opinion, and a regard to the public interests, made him hesitate about recalling or pardoning his guilty son; and Joab, whose discerning mind perceived this struggle between parental affection and royal duty, devised a plan for relieving the scruples, and at the same time gratifying the wishes, of his master.

Having procured a country-woman of superior intelligence and address, he directed her to seek an audience of the king, and by soliciting his royal interposition in the settlement of a domestic grievance, convince him that the life of a murderer might in some cases be saved. Tekoah was about twelve miles south of Jerusalem and six south of Bethlehem; and the design of bringing a woman from such a distance was to prevent either the petitioner being known or the truth of her story easily investigated. But the whole spirit of knowledge and refinement in the kingdom at that time dwelt in the south (cf. 1 Kings 5:10; 1 Chronicles 2:6; Jeremiah 49:7; Obadiah 1:8). Her speech was in the form of a parable: the circumstances, the language, the manner well suited to the occasion, represented a case as like David's as it was policy to make it, so as not to be prematurely discovered. Having gotten the king pledged, she avowed it to be her design to satisfy the royal conscience that, in pardoning Absalom, he was doing nothing more than he would have done in the case of a stranger, where there could be no imputation of partiality. The device succeeded. David traced its origin to Joab; and, secretly pleased at obtaining the judgment of that rough but generally sound-thinking soldier, commissioned him to repair to Geshur, and bring home his exiled son.

Verses 3-6

And come to the king, and speak on this manner unto him. So Joab put the words in her mouth.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 7

And, behold, the whole family is risen against thine handmaid, and they said, Deliver him that smote his brother, that we may kill him, for the life of his brother whom he slew; and we will destroy the heir also: and so they shall quench my coal which is left, and shall not leave to my husband neither name nor remainder upon the earth.

They shall quench my coal which is left. The life of man is compared in Scripture to a light. To quench the light of Israel (2 Samuel 21:17) is to destroy the king's life; to ordain a lamp for any one (Psalms 132:17) is to grant him posterity; to quench a coal signifies here the extinction of this woman's only remaining hope that the name and family of her husband would be preserved. The figure is a beautiful one: a coal, live, but lying under a heap of embers-all that she had to rekindle her fire-to light her lamp in Israel.

Verse 8

And the king said unto the woman, Go to thine house, and I will give charge concerning thee.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 9

And the woman of Tekoah said unto the king, My lord, O king, the iniquity be on me, and on my father's house: and the king and his throne be guiltless.

The woman ... said ... O king, the iniquity be on me - i:e., the iniquity of arresting the course of justice and pardoning a homicide, whom the go'el was bound to slay wherever he might find him, unless in a city of refuge. This was exceeding the royal prerogative, and acting in the character of an absolute monarch. The woman's language refers to a common precaution taken by the Hebrew judges and magistrates, solemnly to transfer from themselves the responsibility of the blood they doomed to be shed either to the accusers or the criminals (2 Samuel 1:16; 2 Samuel 3:28); and sometimes the accusers took it upon themselves (Matthew 27:25).

Verses 10-12

And the king said, Whosoever saith ought unto thee, bring him to me, and he shall not touch thee any more.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 13

And the woman said, Wherefore then hast thou thought such a thing against the people of God? for the king doth speak this thing as one which is faulty, in that the king doth not fetch home again his banished.

Wherefore then hast thou thought ... Her argument may be made clear in the following paraphrase:-You have granted me the pardon of a son who had killed his brother, and yet you will not grant to your subjects the restoration of Absalom, whose criminality is not greater than my son's, since he killed his brother in similar circumstances of provocation. Absalom has reason to complain that he is treated by his own father more sternly and severely than the meanest subject in the realm; and the whole nation will have cause for saying that the king shows more attention to the petition of a humble woman than to the wishes and desires of a whole kingdom. The death of my son is a private loss to my family, while the preservation of Absalom is the common interest of all Israel, who now look to him as your successor on the throne.

Verse 14

For we must needs die, and are as water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again; neither doth God respect any person: yet doth he devise means, that his banished be not expelled from him.

We ... are as water spilt on the ground ... Metaphors are suggested by natural feelings, or originate from local peculiarities. In Oriental countries nothing is so valuable as water; and hence, the expressiveness of the phrase in the mouth or in the ear of a Hebrew or native of the East.

Verses 15-16

Now therefore that I am come to speak of this thing unto my lord the king, it is because the people have made me afraid: and thy handmaid said, I will now speak unto the king; it may be that the king will perform the request of his handmaid. No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 17

Then thine handmaid said, The word of my lord the king shall now be comfortable: for as an angel of God, so is my lord the king to discern good and bad: therefore the LORD thy God will be with thee.

As an angel of God, so is my lord the king to discern good and bad. 'Though this expression,' says Harmer ('Observations,' 3:, p. 496), 'may be imputed to the hyperbolical genius of the East, yet there was perhaps more of real persuasion than we are apt to suppose in the woman of Tekoah's comparison of David to a superior being. Sir John Chardin says that, having found fault with the king of Persia's valuation of a rich trinket, the grand master (of ceremonies) told him, that if a Persian had dared to have done such a thing, it would have been as much as his life was worth. "Know," said he "that the kings of Persia have a general and full knowledge of matters, as sure as it is extensive; and that equally in the greatest and the smallest things there is nothing more fast and sure than what they pronounce."'

Verses 18-21

Then the king answered and said unto the woman, Hide not from me, I pray thee, the thing that I shall ask thee. And the woman said, Let my lord the king now speak.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 22

And Joab fell to the ground on his face, and bowed himself, and thanked the king: and Joab said, To day thy servant knoweth that I have found grace in thy sight, my lord, O king, in that the king hath fulfilled the request of his servant.

Today thy servant knoweth that I have found grace in thy sight. Joab betrays not a little selfishness amid his professions of joy at this act of grace to Absalom, and flattered himself that he now brought both father and son under lasting obligations. In considering this act of David, many extenuating circumstances may be urged in favour of it: the provocation given to Absalom, his being now in a country where justice could not overtake him, the risk of his imbibing a love for pagan principles and worship, the safety and interests of the Hebrew kingdom, together with the strong predilection of the Hebrew people for Absalom, as represented by the stratagem of Joab. These considerations form a plausible apology for David's grant of pardon to his bloodstained son. But in granting this pardon he was acting in the character of an Oriental despot rather than a constitutional king of Israel. The feelings of the father triumphed over the duty of the king, who, as the supreme magistrate, was bound to execute impartial justice on every murderer, by the express law of God (Genesis 9:6; Numbers 35:30-31), which he had no power to dispense with (Deuteronomy 18:18; Joshua 1:8; 1 Samuel 10:25).

Verses 23-24

So Joab arose and went to Geshur, and brought Absalom to Jerusalem.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 25

But in all Israel there was none to be so much praised as Absalom for his beauty: from the sole of his foot even to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him.

But in all Israel there was none to be so much praised as Absalom for his beauty. This extraordinary popularity arose, not only from his high spirit and courtly manners, but from his uncommonly handsome appearance-one distinguished feature of which, seemingly an object of great admiration, was a profusion of beautiful hair. Its extraordinary luxuriance compelled him to cut it [ miqeets (H7093) yaamiym (H3117)] at the end of days. Josephus says he polled every eighth day; 'at times,' 'from time to time' [ap' archees heemeroon eis heemeras], when it was found to weigh 2,000 shekels-equal to 112 oz. troy; but as 'the weight was after the king's shekel,' which was less than the common shekel, the rate has been reduced as low as 3 lbs. 2 oz. (Bochart, 'Hierozoicon'), and even less by others (see Harmer, 'Observations,' 4:, p. 320; Dr. A. Clarke).

Verses 26-27

And when he polled his head, (for it was at every year's end that he polled it: because the hair was heavy on him, therefore he polled it:) he weighed the hair of his head at two hundred shekels after the king's weight. No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 28

So Absalom dwelt two full years in Jerusalem, and saw not the king's face.

So Absalom dwelt ... Whatever error David committed in authorizing the recall of Absalom, he displayed great prudence and command over his feelings afterward; because his son was not admitted into his father's presence, but was confined to his own house, and the society of his own family. This slight severity was designed to bring him to sincere repentance, on perceiving that his father had not fully pardoned him, as well as to convince the people of David's abhorrence of his crime. Not being allowed to appear at court, or to adopt any state, the courtiers kept aloof; even his cousin did not deem it prudent to go into his society. For two full years his liberty was more restricted, and his life more apart from his countrymen, while living in Jerusalem, than in Geshur; and he might have continued in this disgrace longer, had he not, by a violent expedient, determined (2 Samuel 14:30) to force his case on the attention of Joab, through whose kind and powerful influence a full reconciliation was effected between him and his father.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 14". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/2-samuel-14.html. 1871-8.
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