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Bible Commentaries

Layman's Bible Commentary

2 Samuel 20

Verses 1-26

The Revolt of Sheba (20:1-26)

The quarrel between Judah and Israel flared into open revolt under the leadership of Sheba, another Benjaminite. David took into his confidence Amasa, the commander-in-chief of Absalom’s rebel force, and gave him charge of the men of Judah with instructions to pursue Sheba and the men of Israel who had originally gathered to greet David at the crossing of Jordan. Joab was ignored, perhaps because of David’s lingering resentment over Absalom’s death. In any case, Joab and Abishai soon stepped in along with David’s mercenary soldiers, for Amasa, either by intention or by nature, had proved dilatory in his pursuit of Sheba. Joab treacherously slew Amasa, took up the pursuit vigorously, and besieged Sheba in the city of Abel of Beth-maacah. Once more a wise woman intervened, conferring with Joab from the wall of the city and promising the head of Sheba if the city could go free. The inhabitants themselves, who presumably had been put into a false position by Sheba, executed the rebel and threw his head from the city walls to Joab; the siege was raised and the revolt was broken.

The text of verse 18 is obscure. The Greek translation reads: "Let them ask in Abel and in Dan whether that had ever come to an end which the faithful of Israel had established." The implication seems to be that Abel was faithful to the national tradition and its judgment could be trusted.

There is a brief list of David’s officers in Jerusalem appended to the end of this section. We note that David introduced a system of forced labor, a system greatly developed by Solomon and causing much trouble in Israel.

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Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on 2 Samuel 20". "Layman's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lbc/2-samuel-20.html.