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Bible Commentaries
2 Samuel 2

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

Verse 1

And it came to pass after this, that David inquired of the LORD, saying, Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah? And the LORD said unto him, Go up. And David said, Whither shall I go up? And he said, Unto Hebron.

David inquired of the Lord - by Urim (1 Samuel 23:6; 1 Samuel 23:9; 1 Samuel 30:7-8). He knew his destination, but he knew also that the providence of God would pave the way, and therefore would take no step in such a crisis of his own and the nation's history without asking and obtaining the divine direction. He was told to go into Judah and fix his headquarters in Hebron, whither he accordingly repaired with his family and two wives. (Polygamy was tolerated in Hebrew society, but interdicted to the king (Deuteronomy 17:17); and David's adoption of that practice, by the establishment of a harem, like Oriental princes, sowed the seeds of disorder and disunion in his household, which produced a rank harvest of bitter fruit in afterlife.) There his interests were very powerful; because he was not only within his own tribe, and near chiefs with whom he had been long in friendly relations (see the note at 1 Samuel 30:26-31), but Hebron was the capital and center of Judah, and one of the Levitical cities hallowed by patriarchal memories, as well as by its being the special inheritance of Caleb.

Moreover, the inhabitants of Hebron were strongly attached to him, both from sympathy with his cause, ever since the massacre at Nob, and from the prospect of realizing in his person their promised pre-eminence among the tribes. The princes or elders, representatives of Judah, therefore, offered him the crown, to reign over their tribe, and it was accepted; so that forthwith he was "anointed king over the house of Judah," whether by the instrumentality of Abiathar, or of some other, as Samuel the prophet (1 Samuel 10:1), is not said. Psalms 27:1-14 refers to this period, if the title prefixed by the Septuagint [Pro tou christheenai, before the anointing-namely, at Hebron] be correct.

Verses 2-4

So David went up thither, and his two wives also, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail Nabal's wife the Carmelite.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 5

And David sent messengers unto the men of Jabesh-gilead, and said unto them, Blessed be ye of the LORD, that ye have shewed this kindness unto your lord, even unto Saul, and have buried him.

David sent messengers unto the men of Jabesh-gilead. There can be no doubt that this message of thanks for their bold and dangerous enterprise in rescuing the bodies of Saul and his sons was an expression of David's personal and genuine feeling of satisfaction. At the same time it was a stroke of sound and timely policy. In this view the announcement of his royal power in Judah, accompanied by the pledge of has protection to the men of Jabesh-gilead, should they be exposed to danger for their adventure at Beth-shan, would bear an important significance in all parts of the country, and hold out an assurance that he would render them the same timely and energetic succour that Saul had done at the beginning of his reign.

Verses 6-7

And now the LORD shew kindness and truth unto you: and I also will requite you this kindness, because ye have done this thing. No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 8

But Abner the son of Ner, captain of Saul's host, took Ishbosheth the son of Saul, and brought him over to Mahanaim;

Abner the son of Ner, captain of Saul's host, took Ish-bosheth. Here was the establishment of a rival kingdom, which, however, would probably have had no existence but for Abner. "Ish-bosheth" - or Esh-baal

(i:e., man of Baal), 1 Chronicles 8:33; 1 Chronicles 9:39. The Hebrews usually changed names ending with Baal into Bosheth (shame): cf. Judges 9:53 with 2 Samuel 11:11. This prince, being not mentioned with the other sons of Saul (1 Samuel 14:40), was probably not born until his father had violated his duty as a theocratic king, and the Spirit of the Lord had departed from him, (1 Samuel 15:1-35.) Esh-baal was the proper name of this young son, while Ish-bosheth (man of shame) was a popular nickname, most probably applied to him, as bosheth, shame, abomination, is uniformly in the sacred writings, with reference to the idol after whom he was called (cf. Judges 6:32 with 2 Samuel 11:21). The name of this son seems to warrant the inference that Saul became in his latter days an unhappy apostate to the worship of Baal (see the note at 1 Chronicles 8:34). "Abner" was first cousin of Saul, commander of the forces, and held in high respect throughout the country. Loyalty to the house of his late master was mixed up with opposition to David, and views of personal ambition in his originating this factious movement. He, too, was alive to the importance of securing the Eastern tribes; so, taking Ish-bosheth across the Jordan, he proclaimed him king at Mahanaim, a town on the north bank of the Jabbok, hallowed in patriarchal times by the divine presence (Genesis 32:2). There he rallied the tribes round the standard of the unfortunate son of Saul; and he judged rightly that the interests of the Sauline dynasty would be strongest in the region east of the Jordan.

Verse 9

And made him king over Gilead, and over the Ashurites, and over Jezreel, and over Ephraim, and over Benjamin, and over all Israel.

Over Gilead - used in a loose sense for the land beyond Jordan. Their declaration in favour of the only remnant of Saul's house was soon followed by the adherence of the other tribes of Israel.

Ashurites - the tribe of Asher, in the extreme north.

Jezreel - the extensive valley bordering on the central tribes.

Over all Israel. David neither could nor would force matters, but was content to wait God's time, and Over all Israel. David neither could nor would force matters, but was content to wait God's time, and studiously avoided any collision with the rival king until hostilities were threatened from that quarter.

Verse 10

Ishbosheth Saul's son was forty years old when he began to reign over Israel, and reigned two years. But the house of Judah followed David.

Ish-bosheth ... reigned two years. It was not until seven years and a half after Saul's death that the way was paved for David's elevation to the throne of Israel (2 Samuel 2:11). So that if Ish-bosheth had succeeded immediately on the death of his father, his reign in Israel must have been commensurate with that of David in Hebron. The statement, therefore, that 'Ish-bosheth reigned two years' must refer either to the time that elapsed after he was made king, before the war broke out between him and David, or to an inter-regnum of 5 1/2 five years and six months in Israel, when, through the great influence of Abner, he was raised to the throne of his father, and had occupied it for two years when he was cut off.

Verse 11

And the time that David was king in Hebron over the house of Judah was seven years and six months.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 12

And Abner the son of Ner, and the servants of Ishbosheth the son of Saul, went out from Mahanaim to Gibeon.

Abner ... and the servants of Ish-bosheth ... went out from Mahanaim to Gibeon. This town was near the confines of Judah; and as the force with which Abner encamped there seemed to have some aggressive design, David sent an army of observation, under the command of Joab, to watch his movements.

Verse 13

And Joab the son of Zeruiah, and the servants of David, went out, and met together by the pool of Gibeon: and they sat down, the one on the one side of the pool, and the other on the other side of the pool.

Joab the son of Zeruiah. She was one of David's sisters (1 Chronicles 2:16), and mentioned particularly, either from her own personal eminence or from her relationship to the king. The father of Joab was, according to Josephus, called Suri.

Met together by the pool of Gibeon (cf. Jeremiah 41:12) - doubtless the reservoir still seen on the eastern slope of the hill (Porter's 'Handbook,' p. 225; Robinson's 'Biblical Researches,' p. 138).

Verse 14

And Abner said to Joab, Let the young men now arise, and play before us. And Joab said, Let them arise.

Abner said to Joab, Let the young men now arise, and play before us. Some think that the proposal was only for an exhibition of a little tilting match, a skirmishing or mock fight, for diversion. [The Septuagint takes this view, because it has rendered the original word by paixatoosan, let them sport.] Accordingly others suppose that both parties being reluctant to commence a civil war, Abner proposed to leave the contest to the decision of twelve picked men on either side. This fight by championship, instead of terminating the matter, inflamed the fiercest passions of the two rival parties; a general engagement ensued, in which Abner and his forces were defeated and put to flight.

Verse 15

Then there arose and went over by number twelve of Benjamin, which pertained to Ishbosheth the son of Saul, and twelve of the servants of David.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 16

And they caught every one his fellow by the head, and thrust his sword in his fellow's side; so they fell And they caught every one his fellow by the head, and thrust his sword in his fellow's side; so they fell down together: wherefore that place was called Helkath-hazzurim, which is in Gibeon.

That place was called Helkath-hazzurim, [ Chelqat-ha-Tsuriym (H2521), field of the swords].

Verses 17-18

And there was a very sore battle that day; and Abner was beaten, and the men of Israel, before the servants of David.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 19

And Asahel pursued after Abner; and in going he turned not to the right hand nor to the left from following Abner.

Asahel pursued after Abner. To gain the general's armour was deemed the grandest trophy. Asahel, ambitious of securing Abner's, had outstripped all other pursuers, and was fast making on the retreating commander, who, conscious of possessing more physical power, and unwilling that there should be "blood" between himself and Joab, Asahel's brother, twice urged him to desist. The impetuous young soldier being deaf to the generous remonstrance, the veteran raised the pointed butt of his lance, as the modern Arabs do when pursued, and with a sudden back-thrust transfixed him on the spot, so that he fell, and lay weltering in his blood. But Joab and Abishai continued the pursuit by another route until sunset. On reaching a rising ground, and receiving a fresh reinforcement of some Benjamites, Abner rallied his scattered troops, and earnestly appealed to Joab's better feelings to stop the further effusion of bloodshed, which, if continued, would lead to more serious consequences-a destructive civil war. Joab, while upbraiding his opponent as the sole cause of the fray, felt the force of the appeal, and led off his men; while Abner, probably dreading a renewal of the attack when Joab should learn his brother's fate, and vow fierce revenge, endeavoured, by a forced march, to cross the Jordan that night. On David's side the loss was only 19 men, besides Asahel; but of Ish-bosheth's party there fell 360. This skirmish is exactly similar to the battles of the Homeric warriors, among whom, in the flight of one, the pursuit by another, and the dialogue held between them, there is vividly represented the style of ancient warfare.

Verses 20-22

Then Abner looked behind him, and said, Art thou Asahel? And he answered, I am.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 23

Howbeit he refused to turn aside: wherefore Abner with the hinder end of the spear smote him under the fifth rib, that the spear came out behind him; and he fell down there, and died in the same place: and it came to pass, that as many as came to the place where Asahel fell down and died stood still.

Under the fifth rib, [ hachomesh (H2570), in the abdomen. The Septuagint has: epi teen psoan, in the groin].

Verses 24-26

Joab also and Abishai pursued after Abner: and the sun went down when they were come to the hill of Ammah, that lieth before Giah by the way of the wilderness of Gibeon.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 27

And Joab said, As God liveth, unless thou hadst spoken, surely then in the morning the people had gone up every one from following his brother.

Unless thou hadst spoken - i:e., had you not proposed a trial of strength by championship, there would have been no fighting at all.

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