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Bible Commentaries
2 Samuel 3

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

Verse 1

Now there was long war between the house of Saul and the house of David: but David waxed stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul waxed weaker and weaker.

There was long war between the house of Saul and the house of David. The rival parties had varying success; but David's interest steadily increased-less, however, by the fortunes of war than a growing adherence of the people to him as the divinely-designated king.

Verse 2

And unto David were sons born in Hebron: and his firstborn was Amnon, of Ahinoam the Jezreelitess;

Unto David were sons born in Hebron. The six sons mentioned had all different mothers.

Verse 3

And his second, Chileab, of Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite; and the third, Absalom the son of Maacah the daughter of Talmai king of Geshur;

Chileab (his father's picture) - called also Daniel (1 Chronicles 3:1). (The Jewish account of the origin of these names is given by Bochart, 'Hierozoicon,' 2:, 55, p. 663.)

Maacah, the daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur - a region in Syria, north of Israel. This marriage seems to have been a political match, made by David with a view to strengthen himself against Ish-bosheth's party, by the aid of a powerful friend and ally in the north. Piety was made to yield to policy, and the bitter fruit of this alliance with a pagan prince he reaped in the life of the turbulent Absalom. Absalom denotes 'father of peace,' or 'father's peace.' The name was a complete misnomer; because the bearer became the disturber of David's happiness and a rebel to his government.

Verse 4

And the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; and the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital; No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 5

And the sixth, Ithream, by Eglah David's wife. These were born to David in Hebron.

Eglah, David's wife. This addition has led many to think that Eglah was another name for Michal, the first and proper wife, who, though she had no family after her insolent ridicule of David (2 Samuel 6:23), might have had a child before. [The Septuagint calls her Aigal.]

Verse 6

And it came to pass, while there was war between the house of Saul and the house of David, that Abner made himself strong for the house of Saul.

Abner made himself strong for the house of Saul, [ mitchazeeq (H2388) bªbeeyt (H1004) Shaa'uwl (H7586)] - was aiding, vigorously upholding, the interests of Saul's dynasty [ chaazaq (H2388), followed by bª- (the Hebrew preposition), signifies to help.] In the East the wives and concubines of a king are the property of his successor to this extent, that for a private person to aspire to marry one of them would be considered a virtual advance of pretensions to the crown (see the note at 1 Kings 2:17). It is not clear whether the accusation against Abner was well founded or ill founded; but he resented the charge as an indignity.

Verse 7

And Saul had a concubine, whose name was Rizpah, the daughter of Aiah: and Ishbosheth said to Abner, Wherefore hast thou gone in unto my father's concubine?

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 8

Then was Abner very wroth for the words of Ishbosheth, and said, Am I a dog's head, which against Judah do shew kindness this day unto the house of Saul thy father, to his brethren, and to his friends, and have not delivered thee into the hand of David, that thou chargest me to day with a fault concerning this woman?

Am I a dog's head? - i:e., a very dog; a proverbial form of expression, denoting a low, despicable character; and, impelled by revenge, determined to transfer all the weight of his influence to the opposite party. He evidently set a full value on his services, and seems to have lorded it over his weak nephew in a haughty, overbearing manner.

Verses 9-11

So do God to Abner, and more also, except, as the LORD hath sworn to David, even so I do to him;

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 12

And Abner sent messengers to David on his behalf, saying, Whose is the land? saying also, Make thy league with me, and, behold, my hand shall be with thee, to bring about all Israel unto thee.

Abner sent messengers to David on his behalf, [ tachtaayw (H8478)] - instead of him. [The Septuagint renders the clause as: kai apesteilen Abenneer angelous pros Dauid eis Thailam, and Abner despatched messengers to Thailam, Telaim or Telem (see the note at 1 Samuel 15:4).] But there is nothing in the present Hebrew text corresponding to the last two words; and though Telem was within the range of David's former marauding expeditions, he was now permanently settled in Hebron. Though Abner's language implied a secret conviction that, in supporting Ish-bosheth, he had been labouring to frustrate the divine purpose of conferring the sovereignty of the kingdom on David, this acknowledgment was no justification either of the measure he was now adopting or of the motives that prompted it. Nor does it seem possible to uphold the full integrity and honour of David's conduct in entertaining his secret overtures for undermining Ish-bosheth, except we take into account the divine promise of the kingdom, and his belief that the secession of Abner was a means designed by Providence for accomplishing it. The demand for the restoration of his wife Michal was perfectly fair; but David's insisting on it at that particular moment, as an indispensable condition of his entering into any treaty with Abner, seems to have proceeded, not so much from a lingering attachment to her, as from an expectation that his possession of that princess would incline some adherents of the house of Saul as from an expectation that his possession of that princess would incline some adherents of the house of Saul to be favourable to his cause.

Verses 13-16

And he said, Well; I will make a league with thee: but one thing I require of thee, that is, Thou shalt not see my face, except thou first bring Michal Saul's daughter, when thou comest to see my face.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 17

And Abner had communication with the elders of Israel, saying, Ye sought for David in times past to be king over you:

Abner had communication with the elders of Israel. He spoke the truth in impressing their minds with the well-known fact of David's divine designation to the kingdom. But be acted a base and hypocritical part in pretending that his present movement was prompted by religious motives, when it sprang entirely from malice and revenge against Ish-bosheth. The particular appeal to the Benjamites was a necessary policy: their tribe enjoyed the honour of giving birth to the royal dynasty of Saul, and they would naturally be disinclined to lose that prestige. They were, besides, a determined people, whose contiguity to Judah might render them troublesome and dangerous. The enlistment of their interest, therefore, in the scheme would smooth the way for the adhesion of the other tribes; and Abner enjoyed the most convenient opportunity of using his great influence in gaining over that tribe while escorting Michal to David with a suitable equipage. The mission enabled him to cover his treacherous designs against his master-to draw the attention of the elders and people to David as uniting in himself the double recommendation of being the nominee of Yahweh, no less than a connection of the royal house of Saul, and, without suspicion of any dishonourable motive, to advocate the policy of terminating the civil discord, by bestowing the sovereignty on the husband of Michal. In the same character of public ambassador he was received and feted by David; and while, ostensibly, the restoration of Michal was the sole object of his visit, he busily employed himself in making private overtures to David for bringing over to his cause those tribes which be had artfully seduced. Abner pursued a course unworthy of an honourable man; and though his offer was accepted by David, the guilt and infamy of the transaction were exclusively his.

Verses 18-23

Now then do it: for the LORD hath spoken of David, saying, By the hand of my servant David I will save my people Israel out of the hand of the Philistines, and out of the hand of all their enemies.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 24

Then Joab came to the king, and said, What hast thou done? behold, Abner came unto thee; why is it that thou hast sent him away, and he is quite gone?

Joab came to the king ... What hast thou done? Joab's knowledge of Abner's wily character might have led him to doubt the sincerity of that person's proposals, and to disapprove the policy of relying on his fidelity. But undoubtedly there were other reasons of a private and personal nature which made Joab displeased and alarmed by the reception given to Abner. The military talents of that general, his popularity with the army, his influence throughout the nation, rendered him a formidable rival; and in the event of his overtures being carried out, the important service of bringing over all the other tribes to the king of Judah would establish so strong a claim on the gratitude of David, that his accession would inevitably raise a serious obstacle to the ambition of Joab. To these considerations was added the remembrance of the blood feud that existed between them since the death of his brother Asahel (2 Samuel 2:23). Determined, therefore, to get Abner out of the way, Joab feigned some reason, probably in the king's name, for recalling him "from the well of Sirah," probably Ayun Derwa, about three miles from Hebron, and going out to meet him, stabbed him unawares; not within Hebron, because it was a city of refuge, but at a noted well in the neighbourhood. The modern history of the East furnishes an instance of treacherous murder exactly parallel to this of Abner by Joab, in the assassination, by one of the Pashas, of Ali Pasha of Yanina, when engaged in conducting a secret negotiation for the advancement of a neighbouring prince (see Dr. Walsh's 'Travels').

Verses 25-30

Thou knowest Abner the son of Ner, that he came to deceive thee, and to know thy going out and thy coming in, and to know all that thou doest.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 31

And David said to Joab, and to all the people that were with him, Rend your clothes, and gird you with sackcloth, and mourn before Abner. And king David himself followed the bier.

Rend your clothes, and gird you with sackcloth - an outer garment of coarse haircloth, worn by mourners. It was commonly nothing more than a large square piece of cloth wrapped round the person, and fastened at the waist by a girdle. David's sorrow was sincere and profound; and he took occasion to give it public expression by the funeral honours he appointed for Abner.

King David himself followed the bier - a sort of wooden frame, partly resembling a coffin and partly a hand-barrow.

Verse 32

And they buried Abner in Hebron: and the king lifted up his voice, and wept at the grave of Abner; and all the people wept.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 33

And the king lamented over Abner, and said, Died Abner as a fool dieth?

The king lamented over Abner. This brief elegy is an effusion of indignation as much as of sorrow. Since Abner had stabbed Asahel in open war, Joab did not hvae the right of the go'el; and besides, had adopted a lawless and execrable method of obtaining satisfaction (see the note at 1 Kings 2:5), not waiting for the legal formalities according to which only satisfaction could be obtained for the relatives of a slain person in the land of Israel.

Died Abner as a fool dieth?, [ hakªmowt (H4194) naabaal (H5036)] - as Nabal dieth, or as a felon dieth. This deed was an insult to the authority, as well as most damaging to the prospects of the king. But David's feelings and conduct on hearing of the death, together with the whole character and accompaniments of the funeral solemnity, tended not only to remove all suspicion of guilt from him, but even to turn the tide of popular opinion in his favour, and to pave the way for his reigning over all the tribes more honourably than by the treacherous negotiations of Abner, whose services, in consequence of his vile Conduct, the Lord did in so important a transaction employ. In the neighbourhood of Hebron, at a spot now covered by the house of a Moslem inhabitant, is shown the traditional grave of Abner, who, according to the legend, belonged to the race of giants (Van de Velde, 'Syria and Palestine,' 2:, p. 67).

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 3". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/2-samuel-3.html. 1871-8.
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