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2Sa 14:1 Now Joab the son of Zeruiah perceived that the king’s heart [was] toward Absalom.
Ver. 1. Now Joab the son of Zeruiah perceived, ] sc., By probable signs; as being a cunning old courtier, and long conversant about David: he could easily find which way his pulse beat.
That the king’s heart was toward Absalom.] As the eldest now (for Chileab alias Daniel was dead), the fairest of all his sons, and the people’s darling. Only he wanted a fair excuse of fetching him home. Joab, therefore, to gratify David and ingratiate with Absalom, secretly brides this Tekoitess, by her wily discourse to bring about the business. How many good princes are persuaded to anything by the cunning craftiness of their favourites and followers; yea, even bought and sold by them! as it was said of Aurelian the emperor.
2Sa 14:2 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:
Ver. 2. And Joab sent to Tekoah. ] A city of Judah, 2Ch 11:6 where the prophet Amos was born, or lived at least, Amo 1:1 being the grandson of this wise woman, if the Rabbis may be believed.
And fetched thence a wise woman. ] Witty and well-spoken.
Feign thyself to be a mourner. ] And that many women can do very artificially. Plautus saith, but not truly,
“ Mulier nulla cordicitus dolet ex animo. ”
This woman might well be one of those who were usually hired to mourn at funerals.
2Sa 14:3 And come to the king, and speak on this manner unto him. So Joab put the words in her mouth.
Ver. 3. And come to the king, and speak on this manner, ] viz, By way of parable: the property whereof is, deeply to affect, and to leave a very vehement impression behind it.
2Sa 14:4 And when the woman of Tekoah spake to the king, she fell on her face to the ground, and did obeisance, and said, Help, O king.
Ver. 4. She fell on her face to the ground, &c. ] And so she insinuateth, by her civility showed in her gestures, humilitatis et honoris ergo.
2Sa 14:5 And the king said unto her, What aileth thee? And she answered, I [am] indeed a widow woman, and mine husband is dead.
Ver. 5. And the king said unto her, What aileth thee? ] Kings and princes should courteously admit, patiently hear, and readily help their suppliant subjects. Antonius the emperor was, for this good property, surnamed Pius; Titus, the darling of mankind; Trajan is much renowned in story for this, that being mounted to go against the enemy in battle, he alighted from his horse, only to do justice to a poor woman, that cried out unto him. a
I am indeed a widow woman. ] And therefore in a calamitous condition: especially if thou knewest all. At mulier vidua sum.
a Ael. Spart.
2Sa 14:6 And thy handmaid had two sons, and they two strove together in the field, and [there was] none to part them, but the one smote the other, and slew him.
Ver. 6. And they two strove together in the field. ] Upon some sudden and perhaps slight occasion; such as was that recorded by Camerarius, who telleth a story of two brethren walking out in a starlit night: said one of the brethren, Would I had a pasture as large as this element. And said the other, Would I had as many oxen as there be stars. Says the other again, Where would you feed those oxen? In your pasture, replied he. What, whether I would or no? Yea, said he, whether you would or no. What, in spite of me? Yes, said he. And thus it went on from words, till at length the one killed the other.
2Sa 14:7 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.
Ver. 7. And we will destroy the heir also. ] That the inheritance may be ours. They pretend zeal for justice: but self swayed them.
And so they shall quench my coal which is left. ] Which though it cast not much heat, yet if utterly extinct, I am lost. An elegant metaphor used also by Plato, Lucretius, and other heathen authors.
2Sa 14:8 And the king said unto the woman, Go to thine house, and I will give charge concerning thee.
Ver. 8. Go to thine house. ] Suitors are to be timely dismissed, when they cannot be presently despatched, as Jethro adviseth. Exo 18:13-23
2Sa 14:9 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.
Ver. 9. The iniquity be on me, ] q.d., I am so confident of my surviving son’s innocency, that I doubt not to take the blame upon myself, and dare be bold to say, that you and yours shall sustain no prejudice by favouring my cause, and protecting my child. See the like expressions in Gen 27:13 Matthew 27:25 .
2Sa 14:10 And the king said, Whosoever saith [ought] unto thee, bring him to me, and he shall not touch thee any more.
Ver. 10. Bring him to me. ] This word, Bring him, is spoken to one of David’s officers, saith Vatablus, whom he had assigned for a helper to the woman. Est enim secundae personae masculinum verbum apud Hebraeos.
2Sa 14:11 Then said she, I pray thee, let the king remember the LORD thy God, that thou wouldest not suffer the revengers of blood to destroy any more, lest they destroy my son. And he said, [As] the LORD liveth, there shall not one hair of thy son fall to the earth.
Ver. 11. Let the king remember the Lord thy God. ] Whose viceregent thou art to do me right: which that thou wilt not fail to do, be pleased to swear to me: this she covertly desired, and he granted.
And he said, As the Lord liveth. ] This oath was not taken "in truth, in righteousness, and in judgment," as Jeremiah 4:2 , for this manslayer ought to have died according to Numbers 35:16-17 ; Numbers 35:21 . But it was now David’s own case in respect of Absalom: and thence he was so favourable to this petitioner, and so ready to relieve her.
2Sa 14:12 Then the woman said, Let thine handmaid, I pray thee, speak [one] word unto my lord the king. And he said, Say on.
Ver. 12. And he said, Say on. ] See Trapp on " 2Sa 14:5 "
2Sa 14:13 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.
Ver. 13. Wherefore then hast thou thought such a thing? ] Here is the reddition; an application of the parable which now she brings home to David’s self, making intercession for Absalom by many arguments; but briefly and darkly, quippe perita cure perito: and first she thus reasoneth here: Whereas thou, O king, dislikest the proceeding of my kindred against my son; why art thou so severe and stern against Absalom, upon whom are set the eyes of all the people, as upon their coal and thy successor?
For the king doth speak this thing, ] sc., Concerning the securing of my son’s life.
As one which is faulty, ] viz., In too much severity against his own son Absalom. This plain song was very pleasing music to David’s ear; and that Joab knew well enough.
2Sa 14:14 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.
Ver. 14. For we must needs die. ] This is her second argument, as she had them ready coined to her hand both for matter and form, and put into her mouth by Joab, and it is this, It is appointed for all men once to die: thou art mortal, though a king; Amnon is dead already and past recovery, as water spilt upon the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. Absalom is dead in law, and if he continue in exile, likely enough to die with sorrow; or if he be cut off for his fratricide, what wilt thou do for a fit successor? and what will become of the public welfare? will not all go to wreck and ruin? will not our coal, yet alive, be quite quenched? why then shouldst thou be so sharp set against thy son Absalom?
Neither doth God respect any person. ] But whether king or captives, he must die; we all carry our precious souls as precious water in a brittle glass, or as a candle in a paper lantern, soon puffed out. It is but reason therefore that thou bethink thee of a successor, and so provide for the public. The thought of death is terrible to great ones. Queen Elizabeth could not endure to hear of it. She frowned upon a good bishop for imminding her of her great age in a sermon, and of the climacteric year (age 63) of her life, which happened at that time, and put him to some trouble. But this woman of Tekoah was upon a pleasing subject, and might say anything. Some render this text thus, Neque vero solet Deus vitam eripere, God is not wont to take away life from those that have forfeited it - for then what had become of thee for the slaughter of Uriah? a - Mavult enim parcere supplicibus quam sontes plectere; he delighteth not in the death of a sinner, but deviseth means how to save such: and will not you, sir, do the like? Will it not be your office and honour to express God to the world, since you represent his person?
a Regem ad recordationem Uriae non nisi timide et tecte revocat. - Castal.
2Sa 14:15 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.
Ver. 15. It is because the people have made me afraid, ] viz, Lest they should be left in a desolate condition: as myself should be, losing my second, and now only son; since Absalom is the hope of the people.
I will now speak unto the king. ] Others durst not; but I have adventured to speak, however I shall speed.
2Sa 14:16 For the king will hear, to deliver his handmaid out of the hand of the man [that would] destroy me and my son together out of the inheritance of God.
Ver. 16. For the king will hear. ] Or else he hath lost his old wont. And if he yield to me for the rescuing of my son, will he not do the like for his own at the suit of the whole people? will he in similibus causis dissimilem ferre sententiam? This was her argument; but not so sound a one; for the king’s case and hers were different. But orators are permitted non ad veritatem solum, sed etiam ad opiniones eorum qui audiunt, orationem accommodare, saith a great master in rhetoric: a that is to tune and turn their tongues somewhat to the humours of their hearers.
a Cicer., Partit.
2Sa 14:17 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.
Ver. 17. The word of my lord the king shall now be comfortable. ] As binding upon the arguments aforegoing, I am bold to believe, and dare say as much.
For as an angel of God, &c. ] Both for dexterity and integrity. This is her last argument a laude Davidis, from the high price she set upon David, and the excessive praise she giveth him, the better to insinuate. She knew that ηδιστον ακουσμα εταινος , a man’s own commendation is the sweetest hearing, a and the way to curry favour.
2Sa 14:18 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.
Ver. 18. Then the king answered and said. ] Hitherto he had with great delight hearkened to her silken words: and now as smelling a plot, he desires therein to be satisfied. Neither was she to seek of an answer, but comes off truly and trimly, extolling the king’s singular sagacity.
2Sa 14:19 And the king said, [Is not] the hand of Joab with thee in all this? And the woman answered and said, [As] thy soul liveth, my lord the king, none can turn to the right hand or to the left from ought that my lord the king hath spoken: for thy servant Joab, he bade me, and he put all these words in the mouth of thine handmaid:
Ver. 19. Is not the hand of Joab with thee in all this? ] Wert not thou secretly bribed and set on by him? Yes, nothing more sure, quoth she; it is bootless to say otherwise; he hath dictated and directed the whole business. All which Joab did, not out of any great goodwill to Absalom; but merely out of self love, to serve his own turn, now that he saw that David was set upon it to have him home, and that he was likely enough to succeed his father in the kingdom. Now as Joab’s hand was in this whole business, he was the engineer: so is Satan’s hand in the sins of the wicked, and in the troubles of the godly, as is easily discerned.
2Sa 14:20 To fetch about this form of speech hath thy servant Joab done this thing: and my lord [is] wise, according to the wisdom of an angel of God, to know all [things] that [are] in the earth.
Ver. 20. To fetch about this form of speech. ] Ut rei faciem inverterem: that I might tell thee a story of my son, but transfer it to thine as much alike; that I might deliver myself parable wise, a thing in those days very usual.
To know all things that are in the earth. ] Pανσοφος και παντα ανθρωπεια επισταμενος , as one said of Homer, that he knew all that was within the circumference of human knowledge. See 2 Samuel 14:17 .
2Sa 14:21 And the king said unto Joab, Behold now, I have done this thing: go therefore, bring the young man Absalom again.
Ver. 21. And the king said unto Joab. ] Who was present, it seemeth, when this woman acted her part, and had brought her in to the king for that purpose.
Behold now, I have done this thing. ] But how well David did it, the event will prove. Cassandra could not be hard when she sung,
“ Graia iuvenca venit quae te patriamque domumque
Perdit, io prohibe, Graia iuvenca venit. ” - Ovid., Epist.
David was ever too indulgent a father, and smarted for it. This fact of his is neither to be commended nor justified, saith Willet; excused it may be by some circumstances: but the wrath of God was soon revealed from heaven against it: as also it was against Maud, wife to William the Conqueror, and her eldest son Robert Curtuoise, whom she maintained out of her motherly indulgence in his quarrel for Normandy, out of her own coffers paying the charges of war against his father and her own husband. a
2Sa 14:22 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.
Ver. 22. And thanked the king. ] The king could have found in his heart to have thanked him, but for stark shame; and that Joab knew well enough, though he thus colluded.
2Sa 14:23 So Joab arose and went to Geshur, and brought Absalom to Jerusalem.
Ver. 23. And brought Absalom to Jerusalem. ] Where, though he escaped the lash of the law, yet not the furies of his own conscience - as little as did Cain after his fratricide, or Orestes and Nero after their matricide - unless he were master of his conscience, and had muzzled it. Joab, by his Tekoitess, had sought to salve the business - which Papinian, the great lawyer, would not be drawn to do for Caracalla (who had slain his brother Geta) though he died for it - and now he had brought him to Jerusalem, who will soon show himseff to be flagellum Reip, flabellum seditionis, a desperate incendiary, a very viper.
2Sa 14:24 And the king said, Let him turn to his own house, and let him not see my face. So Absalom returned to his own house, and saw not the king’s face.
Ver. 24. Let him turn to his own house. ] This was a piece of prudent severity: as well for the better humbling of Absalom, whom David knew to be of an insolent nature, as for the preventing of scandal, lest otherwise he might seem too facile to one guilty of so foul a fact, and to make but a light matter of manslaughter.
2Sa 14:25 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.
Ver. 25. There was none to be so much praised as Absalom for his beauty. ] This was no great commendation, that he was pulcherrimus corpore, aterrimus mente, fair without, and foul within; like an Egyptian temple: or as Alcibiades, comely but turbulent: or as Aurelia Orestilla, cuius praeter formam nihil unquam bonus laudavit, a commendable only for her beauty; which is only then praise worthy, when it is the flower of virtue. Otherwise it is but as the goodly oak, which beareth no fruit but for swine; whereas the weak and deformed vine yieldeth sweet grapes: or, as the peacock, which hath gay feathers, but maketh the ground barren whereon it sitteth; whenas the poor homely bee yieldeth honey, &c. In Saul and Absalom, saith an interpreter b here, two men of goodly stature, but of bad conditions, we have the right description of hypocrites, who bear a fair show outwardly, but within are corrupt. The more to blame were this people for doting so much upon these two whited sepulchres; as therefore worthy to reign, because comely and sightly.
There was no blemish in him. ] But nature had spent all her strength, saith one, c in trimming his body; his soul she had left altogether untrimmed, as appeareth by his ambition.
c A Lap.
2Sa 14:26 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.
Ver. 26. And when he polled his head. ] He had a pride in his hair, and might well have feared some such fearful disease as is the Plica Polonica. The Romans abhorred those that wore long hair. Our Henry I repressed that vanity, though a gaiety of no charge, as undecent; and all other dissoluteness. a
He weighed the hair of his head. ] It was not worth so much, as some sense it, but it weighed above three pounds, at sixteen ounces to the pound, when yearly polled.
a Dan., Hist.
2Sa 14:27 And unto Absalom there were born three sons, and one daughter, whose name [was] Tamar: she was a woman of a fair countenance.
Ver. 27. And unto Absalom there were born three sons, and one daughter. ] This was but luctuosa faecunditas; for they all died before their father, 2Sa 18:18 wherein God made way for Solomon’s more peaceable enjoyment of the crown after David’s decease.
Whose name was Tamar. ] After the name of her fair aunt deflowered by Amnon.
2Sa 14:28 So Absalom dwelt two full years in Jerusalem, and saw not the king’s face.
Ver. 28. Dwelt two full years in Jerusalem. ] During which time he had used means, likely, to be reconciled, and admitted to the royal presence. Robert, Earl of Essex, when banished the court, wrote to Queen Elizabeth, that he could never recover his wonted joy, till he beheld her comfortable eyes, which had been his guiding stars; and by the conduct whereof, he had sailed most happily, whilst he held his course in a just latitude. a
And saw not the king’s face.] Unless it were at the public ordinances.
a Camden’s Elisab.
2Sa 14:29 Therefore Absalom sent for Joab, to have sent him to the king; but he would not come to him: and when he sent again the second time, he would not come.
Ver. 29. But he would not come to him. ] As disliking his pride and ambition, saith Pellican; as fearing lest David thereby might suspect that there was some secret practice or conspiracy betwixt them, saith Diodate.
2Sa 14:30 Therefore he said unto his servants, See, Joab’s field is near mine, and he hath barley there; go and set it on fire. And Absalom’s servants set the field on fire.
Ver. 30. Go and set it on fire, ] viz., That he may have cause to come and speak with me. So - but in a mere just way - God fetcheth his home to himself by afflictions, he fireth them out of their false refuges.
2Sa 14:31 Then Joab arose, and came to Absalom unto [his] house, and said unto him, Wherefore have thy servants set my field on fire?
Ver. 31. Then Joab arose. ] Then he came speedily. Affliction hath whipped many a soul to heaven, whom, otherwise, prosperity had coached to hell. When God’s people leave this world they go to God; and when the world leaveth them, that is, when crosses come, they do the like; they arise and go to him. Hos 6:1
2Sa 14:32 And Absalom answered Joab, Behold, I sent unto thee, saying, Come hither, that I may send thee to the king, to say, Wherefore am I come from Geshur? [it had been] good for me [to have been] there still: now therefore let me see the king’s face; and if there be [any] iniquity in me, let him kill me.
Ver. 32. It had been good for me to have been there still. ] Since there I lived at liberty, and in all manner of courtly jollity; as for the use of God’s ordinances, he made no reckoning of that.
Now therefore let me see the king’s face.] Oh, deep dissimulation! he was even now hatching treason in his heart against his father, and yet maketh as if he could not live out of his favour.
And if there be any iniquity in me. ] This he speaketh as one confident either of his father’s lenity and indulgence, or of his own conceited innocency in killing Amnon for forcing his sister. We know what Jacob’s two sons said in defence of that horrid act of theirs in slaughtering the Shechemites. "Should he deal with our sister as a harlot?" Gen 34:31 The word harlot is written with a great letter in the original ז , to show with what a courage they spake it. Hebrew Text Note We know also how Collatinus, the husband of Lucretia, is cried up in the Roman history for killing Tarquin, who had ravished her: and likewise Virginius for murdering his own daughter, that she might not be deflowered. a
Let him kill me. ] Ubi non sis qui fueris, non est cur vivas. b
a Liv. Val. Max., lib. vi. cap. 1. το ζην μη καλως, μεγας εστι πονος . - Euripid.
2Sa 14:33 So Joab came to the king, and told him: and when he had called for Absalom, he came to the king, and bowed himself on his face to the ground before the king: and the king kissed Absalom.
Ver. 33. And the king kissed Absalom. ] He should have kicked him rather; and not have hardened him to further villainy. But he believed him to be a true penitent; and smarted for his credulity.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 14". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30