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The Murder of Amasa
v. 1. And there happened to be there a man of Belial, a vain and worthless scoundrel, whose name was Sheba, the son of Bichri, a Benjamite, evidently one of the rabid party of Saul; and he blew a trumpet, as a call to all those who thought as he did on account of the strained relations between Judah and Israel, and said, we have no part in David, neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse, the northern tribes had nothing in common with him, nothing to do with him; every man to his tents, O Israel! It was a call to rebellion.
v. 2. So every man of Israel, of the ten northern tribes, went up from after David, renouncing his allegiance to the king, and followed Sheba, the son of Bichri; but the men of Judah clave unto their king, from Jordan even to Jerusalem. They remained loyal, they did not permit their faithfulness to be shaken.
v. 3. And David came to his house at Jerusalem, after the outbreak of this rebellion; and the king took the ten women, his concubines, whom he had left to keep the house, 2 Samuel 15:16; 2 Samuel 16:21-22, and put them in ward, in a house by themselves, and fed, maintained, them, but went not in unto them, for they were impure to him, having been approached by Absalom. So they were shut up unto the day of their death, living in widowhood, in perpetual widowhood.
v. 4. Then said the king to Amasa, Assemble me the men of Judah within three days, he was given orders to mobilize them for the purpose of punishing the rebel Sheba, and be thou here present, for David intended formally to appoint him commander-in-chief, 2 Samuel 19:13,
v. 5. So Amasa went to assemble the men of Judah; but he tarried longer than the set time which he had appointed him, he delayed beyond the three days given him, the reason for this state of affairs not being mentioned.
v. 6. And David said to Abishai, one of his commanders, Now shall Sheba, the son of Bichri, do us more harm than did Absalom, on account of the delay in calling him to account; take thou thy lord's servants, the part of the standing army stationed at Jerusalem, and pursue after him, lest he get him fenced cities and escape us, literally, "and deliver himself from our eyes," or, "darken not our eight," by hiding himself and eventually harming the cause of David,
v. 7. And there went out after him Joab's men, for as such the standing army was known, and the Cherethites and the Pelethites, 2 Samuel 8:18, and all the mighty men; and they went out of Jerusalem to pursue after Sheba, the son of Bichri.
v. 8. When they were at the great stone which is in Gibeon, northwest of Jerusalem, Amasa went before them, coming towards them with the levy of troops which he had raised. And Joab's garment that he had put on was girded unto him, his military garment being held close to his body by the girdle, and upon it a girdle with a sword fastened upon his loins in the sheath thereof; and as he went forth, rather, the sheath slipped out, it fell out, that is, the sword fell to the ground. This apparent accident happened just before Amasa came up to Joab, and the fact that the latter picked up and held the sword in his left hand would arouse no suspicions.
v. 9. And Joab, apparently with sincere friendliness, said to Amasa, Art thou in health, my brother? And Joab took Amasa by the beard with the right hand to kiss him, drawing down his face with a caressing gesture.
v. 10. But Amasa took no heed to the sword that was in Joab's hand, namely, in his left, with which he had just picked it up; so he, Joab, smote him therewith in the fifth rib, in the abdomen, and shed out his bowels to the ground, and struck him not again, for there was no need for repeating the blow; and he died. It was a cold-blooded murder, an act of malice, the product of jealousy and the desire for revenge. So Joab and Abishai, after the murder of Amasa, pursued after Sheba, the son of Bichri.
v. 11. And-one of Joab's men stood by him, Amasa, and said, He that favoreth Joab, has pleasure and confidence in him, and he that is for David, let him go after Joab, the cause of David thus being identified with that of Joab.
v. 12. And Amasa wallowed in blood in the midst of the highway, a conspicuous object. And when the man who had been left behind by Joab saw that all the people stood still, he removed Amasa out of the highway into the field, and cast a cloth upon him, so that his corpse would no longer draw attention, when he saw that every one that came by him stood still. Thus the danger of an unfavorable impression for Joab and his cause was removed, for the crowd now passed forward without inquiring into the matter.
v. 13. When he was removed out of the highway, all the people went on after Joab to pursue after Sheba, the son of Bichri. The act of Joab in removing his rival in this manner is inexcusable. The higher the public office which a person holds, the more he must be able to overlook ingratitude and slights.
The Death of Sheba
v. 14. And he, Joab, went through all the tribes of Israel, moving ever northward through the country of the ten tribes, unto Abel and to Beth-maachah, in the territory of Naphtali, and all the Barites; and they were gathered together and went also after him, his army was continually increased by the addition of chosen young men who flocked to his standards.
v. 15. And they came and besieged him, Sheba, in Abel of Beth-maachah, and they cast up a bank, threw up a high embankment, against the city, and it stood in the trench, it reached the height of, and was joined to, the outer wall or works of the fortress; and all the people that were with Joab battered the wall, the inner wall, to throw it down.
v. 16. Then cried a wise woman out of the city, Hear, hear! Say, I pray you, unto Joab, Come near hither that I may speak with thee.
v. 17. And when he, acting upon her suggestion, was come near unto her, the woman said, Art thou Joab? And he answered, I am he. Then she said unto him, Hear the words of thine handmaid. And he answered, I do hear.
v. 18. Then she spake, saying, They were wont to speak in old time, saying, it was a proverbial saying, They shall surely ask counsel at Abel; and so they ended the matter. The discretion and wisdom of the city's inhabitants were so widely known that their advice was acted upon without question. So in this case the inhabitants of Abel should first have been consulted before laying siege to the city.
v. 19. I am one of them that are peaceable and faithful in Israel, for she speaks in the name of the entire city. Thou seekest to destroy a city and a mother in Israel, one of the chief cities of the nation; why wilt thou swallow up the inheritance of the Lord?
v. 20. And Joab, struck by the sensibility of the argument, answered and said, Far be it, far be it from me that I should swallow up or destroy, in a ruthless and senseless manner.
v. 21. The matter is not so, he had no intention of being willfully cruel; but a man of Mount Ephraim, Sheba, the son of Bichri, by name, hath lifted up his hand against the king, even against David; deliver him only, and I will depart from the city. And the woman said unto Joab, Behold, his head shall be thrown to-thee over the wall, or "through the wall," through one of the openings or loopholes.
v. 22. Then the woman went unto all the people, the citizens of Abel, in her wisdom, laying the proposition of Joab before them, which she persuaded them to accept. And they cut off the head of Sheba, the son of Bichri, and cast it out to Joab. And he, his purpose having been attained, blew a trumpet, and they retired from the city, every man to his tent. The return march was begun at once. And Joab returned to Jerusalem unto the king.
v. 23. Now, Joab was over all the host of Israel, the commander-in-chief of the armies; and Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada, was over the Cherethites and over the Pelethites, the king's body-guard, including his runners and the official executioners;
v. 24. and Adoram was over the tribute, overseer of the public works; and Jehoshaphat, the son of Ahilud, was recorder; chancellor;
v. 25. and Sheva was scribe, secretary of state; and Zadok and Abiathar were the priests;
v. 26. and Ira, also, the Jairite was a chief ruler about David, confidential couselor. In spite of many mistakes of men the work of the Lord, also in His Church, must go forward according to His intentions.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 20". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany