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Bible Commentaries
2 Samuel 16

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

Verses 1-14

II. External Shattering of the Royal Authority till its Loss

2 Samuel 15-18

1. Absalom’s revolt and David’s flight. 2 Samuel 15:1 to 2 Samuel 16:14

1And it came to pass after this that Absalom prepared him chariots [a chariot] and horses, and fifty men to run before him. 2And Absalom rose up early, and stood beside the way of the gate; and it was so, that when any man that had a controversy came to the king for judgment [and it came to pass that, every man that had a cause to come to the king for judgment], then [om. then] Absalom called unto him, and said, Of what city art thou? And he said, Thy servant is of one of the tribes of Israel [or, of such and such a tribe of Israel]. 3And Absalom said unto him, See, thy matters are good and right; but there is no man deputed of the king to hear thee. 4Absalom said moreover [And Absalom said], Oh that I were made judge in the land, that every man which [who] hath any suit or cause [cause or controversy] might come unto me, and I would do him justice! 5And it was so [And it came to pass] that when any man came nigh to him [om. to him] to do him obeisance, he put forth his hand, and took him,1 and kissed him. 6And on this manner did Absalom to all Israel that came to the king for judgment; so [and] Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.

7And it came to pass after forty [four2] years, that Absalom said unto the king, I pray thee, let me go and pay my vow, which I have vowed unto the Lord [Jehovah], in Hebron. 8For thy servant vowed a vow while I abode at Geshur in Syria, saying, If the Lord [Jehovah] shall bring me again indeed3 to Jerusalem, then I will serve the Lord [Jehovah]. 9And the king said unto him, Go in peace. So 10[And] he arose and went to Hebron. But [And] Absalom sent spies [or, emissaries] throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, As soon as ye hear4 the sound of the trumpet, then ye shall say, Absalom reigneth in Hebron. 11And with Absalom went two hundred men out of Jerusalem, that were called; and they went in their simplicity, and they knew not anything. 12And Absalom sent for5 Ahithophel the Gilonite, David’s counsellor, from his city, even from Giloh, while he offered sacrifices. And the conspiracy was strong; for the people increased continually with Absalom.

13And there came a messenger to David, saying, The hearts of the men of Israel are after Absalom. 14And David said unto all his servants that were with him at Jerusalem, Arise, and let us flee; for we shall not else escape from Absalom; make speed to depart, lest he overtake us suddenly, and bring evil upon us, and smite the city with the edge6 of the sword. 15And the king’s servants said unto the king. Behold, thy servants are ready to do whatsoever my lord the king shall appoint 16[choose]. And the king went forth, and all his household after him. And the king left ten women which were [om. women which were] concubines to keep the 17house. And7 the king went forth, and all the people after him, and tarried [halted] in a place that was far off [in Beth-hammarhak, or, at the far house]. 18And all his servants passed on beside him, and all the Cherethites and all the Pelethites, and all the Gittites, six hundred men, which [who] came after him from Gath passed on before the king.

19Then said the king [And the king said] to Ittai the Gittite, Wherefore goest thou also with us? Return to thy place,8 and abide with the king; for thou art a stranger, and also an exile. 20Whereas thou camest but yesterday [Yesterday thou camest], should I this day [and to-day shall I] make thee go up and down with us? [om.?], seeing I go whither I may [ins.?] Return thou, and take back thy brethren; mercy and truth be with thee. 21And Ittai answered the king and said, As the Lord [Jehovah] liveth, and as my lord the king liveth, surely in what place my lord the king shall be, whether in [for] death or [ins. for] life, even there also will [there will] thy servant be. 22And David said to Ittai, Go, and pass over.9 And Ittai the Gittite passed over, and all his men, and all the little ones that were with him.

23And all the country [land] wept with a loud voice,10 and all the people passed over; the king also himself [and the king] passed over the brook Kedron, and all the people passed over, toward the way of the wilderness. 24And lo Zadok also and all the Levites were [om. were] with him, bearing the ark of the covenant of God;11 and they set down the ark of God; and Abiathar went up, until all the people had done passing out of the city. 25And the king said unto Zadok, Carry back the ark of God into [to] the city. If I shall find favour in the eyes of the Lord [Jehovah], he will 26bring me again, and show me both it and his habitation. But [And] if he thus say, I have no delight in thee; behold, here am I, let him do to me as seemeth good unto him. 27The king said also [And the king said] unto Zadok the priest, Art not [om. not] thou a seer?12 return into [to] the city in peace, and your two sons with you, Ahimaaz thy son, and Jonathan the son of Abiathar. 28See, I will tarry in the plain [by the fords13] of the wilderness, until there come word from you to certify 29me. Zadok therefore [And Zadok] and Abiathar carried the ark of God again to Jerusalem; and they tarried14 there.

30And David went up by the ascent of mount Olivet, and wept as he went up, and had his head covered, and he went barefoot; and all the people that was with him covered every man his head, and they went up, weeping as they went up.

31And one told David, saying, Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom. And David said, O Lord [om. O Lord], I pray thee, turn [Turn, I pray thee] the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness [ins. O Jehovah]. 32And it came to pass that, when David was come to the top of the mount, where he worshipped God [where God was worshipped15], behold Hushai the Archite [Arkite] came to meet him with his coat [garment] rent, and earth upon his head. 33Unto whom David said [And David said to him], If thou passest on with me, then shalt thou be a 34burden unto me; But16 if thou return to the city, and say unto Absalom, I will be thy servant, O king; as [om. as] I have been thy father’s servant hitherto, so will I now also [and now I will] be thy servant; then mayest thou for me defeat the 35counsel of Ahithophel. And hast thou not there with thee Zadok and Abiathar the priests? therefore [and] it shall be that [om. it shall be that] what thing soever thou shalt hear out of the king’s house, thou shalt tell it [om. it] to Zadok and 36Abiathar the priests. Behold, they have there with them their two sons, Ahimaaz Zadok’s son, and Jonathan Abiathar’s son; and by them ye shall send unto me 37everything that ye can [om. can] hear. So [And] Hushai David’s friend came into [to] the city, and Absalom came17 into [to] Jerusalem.

2 Samuel 16:1 And when [om. when] David was a little past the top of the hill, [ins. and] behold, Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth met him, with a couple of asses saddled, and upon them two hundred loaves of bread, and an hundred bunches [cakes] of raisins, and an hundred of summer-fruits [cakes of figs], and a bottle 2[skin] of wine. And the king said unto Ziba, What meanest thou by these? And Ziba said, The asses be [are] for the king’s household to ride on, and the bread and summer-fruit [figs] for the young men to eat, and the wine that [for] such as be [are] faint in the wilderness may [to] drink. And the king said, And where Isaiah 3:0 thy master’s son? And Ziba said unto the king, Behold, he abideth at Jerusalem; for he said, To-day shall the house of Israel restore me the kingdom of my father. 4Then said the king [And the king said] to Ziba, Behold, thine are all that pertained unto [is all that belonged to] Mephibosheth. And Ziba said, I humbly beseech thee [I bow down] that [om. that]; I may [may I] find grace in thy sight, my lord O king.

5And when [om. when] king David came to Bahurim, [ins. and] behold, thence came out a man of the family of the house of Saul, whose [and his] name was Shimei, the son of Gera; he came forth, and cursed still as he came. 6And he cast stones at David, and at all the servants of king David; and all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left. 7And thus said Shimei when he cursed, Come out, come out, thou bloody man, and thou man of Belial 8[wicked man]. The Lord [Jehovah] hath returned upon thee all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose stead thou hast reigned, and the Lord [Jehovah] hath delivered the kingdom into the hand of Absalom thy son; and behold, thou art taken in thy mischief [thou art in thy calamity18], because thou art a bloody man. 9Then said Abishai the son of Zeruiah [And Abishai, etc., said] unto the king, Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? let me go over, I pray thee, and take off his head. 10And the king said, What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah? so19 let him curse, because [for] the Lord [Jehovah] hath said unto him, Curse David; [,] who shall then say [and who shall say], Wherefore hast thou done [doest thou] so? 11And David said to Abishai and to all his servants, Behold, my son, which [who] came forth of my bowels, seeketh my life, [ins. and] how much more now may this Benjamite do it [how much more now the Benjaminite]? let him alone, and let him curse; for the Lord [Jehovah] hath bidden him. 12It may be that the Lord [Jehovah] will look on mine affliction, and that the Lord [Jehovah] will requite 13me good for his cursing this day. And as [om. as] David and his men went by [on] the way, [ins. and] Shimei went along on the hill’s side over against him, and cursed as he went, and threw stones at him, and cast dust. 14And the king and all the people that were with him came weary [or, came to Ajephim] and refreshed themselves there.


2 Samuel 15:1-12. Absalom’s insurrection.

2 Samuel 15:1. “After this.” The word here used (מֵאַחֲרֵי כֵן comp. 3:28) shows that what is here related follows immediately20 on the event narrated in 14:28–33. Absalom provides himself a state-chariot with its appurtenances [fifty runners or footmen] in order thus to assume a royal appearance and to attract the wondering attention of the people to himself. Comp. the similar procedure of Adonijah, 1 Kings 1:5.

2 Samuel 15:2 sq. Vivid description of his condescending behaviour (in contrast with his pompous appearance) to gain the favor of the people in connection with their law-matters. [He “rose up early” in order to show his zeal and get opportunities; and such legal business is usually attended to very early in the East; Malcolm (quoted by Philippson) says that Oriental ministers hold their levees at an hour when Western people of quality are not yet up.—Tr.]. The “gate” here referred to is the gate of the royal palace, whither those came that sought the decision of the king in law-matters. “For judgment,” that is, for legal decision. The “hearer” is the judicial officer whose duty it was first to hear and understand the people’s matters, and then lay them before the king, an auscultator. For just decision everything depends on careful hearing and understanding. But there is no hearer for thee on the part of the king.—Absalom guards indeed against accusing the king himself of injustice; but he excites in the minds of the people distrust of the king’s whole judicial practice by saying that there was no regular judicial process for a good and just cause. Perhaps neglect and partiality had crept in, so that Absalom could find some handle for his charges, and avail himself of an already existing dissatisfaction. In the words: See, thy matters are good and right, he gives (in order to win favor) a judicial decision before thorough investigation has been made. Thy just cause, says he, is not investigated; else thou would’st not lack a favorable decision. [Absalom shows himself master of the art of political intriguing—he flatters the people and brings charges against the rulers. Perhaps his insinuations were directed in part against the princes his brothers, possibly against Solomon (Patrick), whose age, however, at this time we do not know, or whether it had been intimated that he was heir to the throne.—Tr.].

2 Samuel 15:4. “O that I were made judge,” literally: “who will make me judge!” (Ges. § 136, 1). “That to me [lit. “on me”], might come every man.” The “to me” is put first for the sake of emphasis; Absalom contrasts himself as just judge with the state of things under his father. עַל (“on me”) stands for אֶל (“to me”), or, the sentence is to be explained with Thenius from the collective idea “all men” (כָּל־אִישׁ): “In imagination Absalom sees the litigants assembled around him;” comp. Exodus 18:13; Judges 3:19; 1 Samuel 22:6. The phrase “on me” is not to be explained from the sitting of the judge and the people standing around above him. [The phrase “come on me” is like English “press on,” “lean on,” and implies probably that Absalom would bear their burdens, or else, the proposition here = “at, near, with” (apud).—Tr.].—I would do him justice.—Absalom here presumes on the people’s litigiousness and their confidence in the justice each man of his own cause, and, having brought his father’s judicial procedure into discredit with them, promises to do every man justice. Vulg.: “I should judge justly.”

2 Samuel 15:5 sq. [Absalom’s affability]. He magnanimously puts aside the honor gained by these arts, and attaches the people to him by a pretended fraternization with every man. The result of these preparations for the purposed insurrection: Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.—The phrase (גָּנַב לֵב) may also mean “to deceive the heart,” as in Genesis 31:20; but the connection shows that the meaning here is “to steal the heart.” [Sept. very well: “made his own the heart,” ἰδιοποιεῖτο; Vulg.: solicitabat corda.—Tr.]. He turned the hearts of the people by guile from his father to himself. [Patrick: a most vile piece of flattery (2 Samuel 15:5), yet acceptable to the people. So Plato (Rep. Lib. viii.), describes those as doing that would get possession of the government; and see Aristotle Pol. V. 4. Absalom’s beautiful person no doubt attracted the people, as well as his condescending familiarity of manner.—Tr.]

2 Samuel 15:7-12. The conspiracy set on foot.

2 Samuel 15:7. The statement of time: At the end of forty years, is certainly wrong according to the connection. An immediate sequence of events being indicated in 2 Samuel 15:1 [see on 2 Samuel 15:1 and translator’s note], the phrase “at the end of” can only point to a previous occurrence in Absalom’s life—not, however, to his return from Geshur, which is not important enough in the narrative to serve as reckoning-point (terminus a quo) for a new series of events, but rather to his reconciliation with David (14:33). But Absalom’s procedure here described (2 Samuel 15:1-6) up to his insurrection cannot have lasted forty years; and further, such a space of time cannot be fitted into the history of David and Absalom, though this would be allowable only in case there were here indicated some chronological-historical point of support, as it has been attempted to find, for example, in Absalom’s age at this time or in the duration of David’s reign. According to these conjectures Absalom’s conspiracy must have occurred in the last days of David’s reign, and this would be wholly unhistorical. The reading of Codd. 70 and 90 (Kennicott) “forty days” is a violent attempt to remove the difficulty, and only introduces another difficulty, since forty days is too short a time after Absalom’s reconciliation with his father for all his preparations here described. We must read “four years” with Syr., Arab., Vulg. [but Codex Amiatinus has “forty”—Tr.], Josephus, Theodoret (Capellus, Grotius, Ewald, Thenius, Keil and others [Bib.-Com.]).21 [Others, (as Ussher, Patrick, Cahen, Philippson) retain the number “forty,” and reckon it in various ways, some from the beginning of David’s reign (Abarbanel), some from David’s anointment by Samuel (Ussher and others), some from the people’s demand for a king (Seder Olam); but the objection to all these is (as Erdmann above suggests) that there is no hint in the text of so remote a terminus a quo as any of them; the time is evidently reckoned from some near event. Though the number four is more probable than forty, it is after all only a conjecture, though a well-supported one; the chronology must here be regarded as uncertain.—Tr.].

2 Samuel 15:8. Absalom’s “vow” and “serving the Lord” is to be understood of the offering of a sacrifice. He wished to sacrifice in Hebron, ostensibly, no doubt, because it was his birth-place, but really because (his father having there assumed the crown) he considered it a peculiarly suitable place for his being proclaimed king. He chose this place, not because there was dissatisfaction at the removal of the royal residence to Jerusalem (Thenius and Keil, following the “Exegetical Manual”), but because he could there count on a numerous following from the tribe of Judah.22 [We have here an example of sacrificial feasting not in connection with the Tabernacle (as in David’s history 1 Samuel 20:6), an indication that the strict law of Leviticus (Leviticus 17:3-4; comp. Deuteronomy 12:13-14) was not in practical operation; else David would have objected to sacrificing in Hebron.—Tr.].

2 Samuel 15:9. David permits himself to be deceived by the pretence of a thank-offering in Hebron, which Absalom might have offered as well, or better, in Jerusalem. Ewald remarks: “that David observed nothing of all this till the startling news reached him that the heart of Israel was turned to Absalom, cannot be reckoned to his disadvantage, since so ancient and simple a kingdom had nothing like our modern state-police; it is rather a mark of the noble-minded security that we elsewhere see in him, that he gives so free scope to his beloved son, who might be regarded as first-born and heir-apparent, and whose quiet nature certainly even greatly pleased him.”

2 Samuel 15:10. “Absalom sent.” The verb is not Pluperfect but Imperfect, since the sending out of emissaries might be synchronous with the journey to Hebron, where Absalom’s accomplices had gotten everything in readiness for proclaiming him king, else he could not have said: As soon as ye hear the sound of the trumpet,23 say, Absalom is become king in Hebron. Absalom sent emissaries into all the tribes of Israel, to find out public opinion and prepare for his attempt throughout the whole kingdom at the same time, he having already gotten the favor of the people by the arts above-related, and thrown his net over them. The emissaries had only to spread the net wider and deeper, and then at the signal to draw it in and catch the people.

2 Samuel 15:11. The two hundred men that accompanied him were not “poor, dependent people,” which would certainly have excited surprise, but courtiers such as ususually accompanied kings and kings’ sons on their journeys without causing remark. That these men might be perfectly at their ease, under the impression that they were going to a sacrificial feast at Hebron, and that the real purpose might the better be concealed from David, nothing was said to them of Absalom’s design; they knew “nothing at all” of the matter. Taken by surprise in Hebron by the sudden proclamation of Absalom as king, they must have appeared to the people at Jerusalem and elsewhere as part of the royal retinue. [Bib.-Com. points out the extreme secrecy of the affair as explaining David’s ignorance of it, and also Absalom’s taste for large entertainments.—Tr.]. 2 Samuel 15:12. Ahithophel appears as Absalom’s secret counsellor in the contriving of the conspiracy, and so as traitor to David, whose counsellor he was. His native city Giloh was near and south of Hebron (Joshua 15:51; Joshua 15:54). The text reads literally: “He sent Ahithophel from his city,” that is, he caused him to come. Either this expression is to be regarded as a pregnant one=“he sent and brought” (Keil), or we must change the vowel-points.24 Why Ahithophel abandoned David is not said; probably from dissatisfaction and ambition. [Patrick: “And it is supposed by the Jews that Ahithophel was incensed against David for abusing Bathsheba, whom they take to have been his grand-daughter, she being the daughter of Eliam (11:3), and Eliam being the son of Ahithophel (23:34).”—So Blunt, Coincidences, Part II. (ix.)—Tr.]—No doubt he had been slyly working at Giloh, and had prepared everything for proclaiming Absalom. The conspiracy grew rapidly, and the people came to Absalom in constantly increasing numbers. It is noticeable that it is in the tribe of Judah that this defection from David is consummated. The elements of this so astonishingly successful insurrection of Absalom were David’s grievous sins, his weakness towards Amnon and Joab, the lacks of the royal government and the consequent dissatisfaction among the people. [The expression: “while he offered bloody offerings” is difficult. If the subject be Ahithophel, it does not appear why his offering should be mentioned; or if, as is more probable, the subject is Absalom, the reason for his sending for Ahithophel while he was offering is not clear; we should rather have expected the latter to be present at the beginning of the solemn sacrifice that was to pledge the conspirators. As the text stands, it cannot be rendered: “he sent for Ahithophel to be present when he offered,” nor: “and while he sacrificed, the conspiracy grew strong,” though something like one of these renderings seems to be the meaning. The text is discussed in “Text, and Gram.”—Grotius refers to the similar procedure of Civilis (pledging conspirators at a feast), Tacit., Hist. IV. 14.—Tr.]

2 Samuel 15:13 to 2 Samuel 16:14. David’s flight before Absalom.25

2 Samuel 15:13. Literally: “the messenger;” according to our usage: “a messenger,” the Heb. employing the Def. Art, to express the class individualized in the person in question. Comp. Ges. § 109, 3, Rem. 1 b, c.—“The heart of the men of Israel is after Absalom”—“to be after one” means “to attach one’s self to him, embrace his cause.” Comp. 2:10; 1 Samuel 12:14.

2 Samuel 15:14. Up! let us flee. David’s immediate flight is to be explained (according to the reason that he himself here gives) by the fact that seized not with momentary fear (Thenius), but doubtless with sudden terror at the unexpected revolution, he yet sees that the fulfilment of Nathan’s prophecy of approaching “misfortune” (12:10, 11) is now beginning, that the punishment cannot be warded off, and that to stay in Jerusalem will only occasion a storming of the city with much bloodshed, which he wishes to avoid. “Against an insurrection so vigorous, and yet so thoroughly groundless and unintelligible, the best defence was to withdraw quietly and try to gain time; the first fright happily gotten over, sober thought would soon return in many places” (Ewald). [How far Jerusalem was now in condition to stand a siege (Zion was probably fortified), or whether David had a well-organized standing army, and how much of the army Absalom carried off, we do not know; David’s forces seem not to have received any important addition after he left the city. Two reasons for leaving Jerusalem would be: to spare the city the horrors of a siege, and to gain the advantage of his military skill and of the discipline of his tried warriors in the open country.—Tr.]—[2 Samuel 15:15. David’s servants (soldiers) declare themselves ready to obey his commands—a comfortable faithfulness in the midst of general defection.—Tr.]

2 Samuel 15:16. The king’s household went “after him” (בְּרַגְלָיו), comp. Judges 4:10; Judges 4:15, not: “on foot” (Michaelis). The king left ten concubines to keep the house. It appears from 19:6 [Eng. A. V. 5] that other concubines went along with him.

2 Samuel 15:17. “All the people,” all persons attached to the court, including the numerous body of servants = “the whole household” (2 Samuel 15:16). They halted at “the farthest (or far) house” [Eng. A. V.: “a place that was far off”] on the road to Mount Olivet, but this side the Kidron. So the German phrase “the last cent” (der letzte Heller) used as a proper name to designate a farm lying at the extremity of a region. Probably this designation had already become a proper name among the people. [Bib. Com.: “very likely a fort guarding the passage of the Kidron.” Others write: Beth-merhak.—Tr.]

2 Samuel 15:18. David having halted here with his immediate retinue (of his household), caused first all his servants to pass by at his side (עַל־יָדוֹ), then his body guard and six hundred Gittites (who had followed him from Gath) to pass before him, so that the latter formed the vanguard. On the “Cherethites and Pelethites” comp. 8:18. As the “six hundred men that followed him from Gath” are called “all the Gittites,” they must be those six hundred faithful companions-in-arms that gathered about David during Saul’s persecution (1 Samuel 22:2; 1 Samuel 23:13; 1 Samuel 25:13), went with him to Gath (1 Samuel 27:2 sq.) and settled with him in Ziklag (1 Samuel 27:8; 1Sa 29:2; 1 Samuel 30:1; 1 Samuel 30:9). Thence they marched with him to Hebron (2:3) and Jerusalem (5:6). They are the same that are called “Gibborim” [heroes, mighty men] in 16:6, and appear as his military escort. Comp. 20:7; 23:8 sqq., where the Gibborim seem to be identical with these. “They very probably formed, from the time that David went to reside at Jerusalem, a special body, known as ‘the Gibborim,’ kept always in full number (hence here also, six hundred), living in barracks at Jerusalem (see Appendix to the Books of Kings, § 7), employed only in the most important undertakings (10:7; 20:7, 9) the Old Guard, as it were, who here also will protect the retreat of their lord with their stout, faithful bodies” (Thenius). They are here called “the Gittites” because they were so called by the people, as having followed David “from Gath on” (Keil). There is no necessity for read- Gibborim instead of Gittites (Thenius), especially as all the versions have the latter. [This reading is discussed in “Text. and Gram.” Some hold these “Gittites” to be foreigners (Philistines) that had entered David’s service, as we know many foreigners did; and this is probable, if we retain the present text. But that the Gibborim were called “Gittites” (Keil) is not probable, and as there is no account of such a body of Philistines having followed David from Gath (that is, when he lived there), there is strong reason for reading Gibborim instead of Gittites.—Tr.]

2 Samuel 15:19. Ittai was a Philistine of Gath, “who had lately with other bold Philistine warriors come over to David, and, having probably had a good position in his native city, was also assigned a high place by David” (Ewald). According to 2 Samuel 15:22 his wife and children were with him. He was given command of one-third of the army (18:2), and stood along with Joab and Abishai as an able general. It need not surprise us that a foreigner should occupy such a military position; comp. 11:3, Uriah the Hittite. David advises this faithful follower not to go with him, but to remain “with the king” at Jerusalem. This phrase cannot mean: with him that is or will be king, according to God’s will, whether it be David or Absalom (Keil, and so Seb. Schmidt: “it is not your business to decide this contest: wait quietly, see whom God chooses and serve him”), but it must be referred definitely to Absalom, who in David’s eyes is now king de facto. Ewald: David gave him the friendly advice to stay in Jerusalem with the new king. David thus neither recognizes Absalom as rightful king (Böttch.), nor ironically so calls him = “with him who is acting as if he were king” (Clericus). In this usurpation of the throne David recognizes and submits to a divine dispensation, and so calls Absalom king.—The reason for his counsel to Ittai: “For thou art a stranger and moreover an emigrant (exile) in thy place. “Stranger” = not an Israelite; “emigrant or exile” (גֹּלֶה) = one not in his native land. The last phrase may be rendered: “for26 thy place,” or “in respect to thy place,” or may be taken to express a state of quiet (comp. Ges. § 154, 3 e). The meaning is: “as a foreigner, thou needst not care who is king, or join either side; stay where thou art.” The reading of Sept., Vulg., Syr., Arab.: “thou hast come from thy place,” does not warrant us in changing the preposition “to” of the Heb. into “from;” for, if the latter were the original text, it is hard to see how the present difficult reading came. [The passage reads literally: “Return, and abide with the king, for thou art a stranger and also an exile to thy place.” Eng. A. V. transposes the last phrase, or supposes a parenthesis: “return to thy place and abide,” etc. (and so Kimchi), and Bib.-Com.: “Return and dwell with the king (for thou art a foreigner and thou art an exile) at thy place” (i. e. Jerusalem). Erdmann in his translation of the chapter (prefixed to the Exposition) gives: “for thou art a stranger and moreover a man that has been carried away from his place,” but here renders it quite differently: “for thou art a stranger and an exile in thy place,” that is, remaining quietly in thy place (Jerusalem, thy adopted home). Philippson: “thou art a stranger, etc., in respect to thy place” (Gath, thy native place). The parenthesis of Eng. A. V. is improbable, and Erdmann’s rendering in the Exposition is impossible; we must adopt Philippson’s, or change the Prep. and read “from,” as Erdmann in his translation. See the discussion in “Text. and Gram.”—Tr.]—Whether Ittai came with his family (2 Samuel 15:22) and his kinsfolk (2 Samuel 15:20) to Jerusalem as hostage (Thenius), or went over to David with other warriors (Ewald), cannot be determined, as nothing is said thereon. But as he was a man in high position and a distinguished military leader, and as David broke the Philistines’ supremacy in the last war with them (8:1), it is probable (2 Samuel 15:20 : “thou camest yesterday”) that this victory of David’s was the occasion of his coming to Jerusalem.

2 Samuel 15:20. The sense is: “Shall 1 drag27 thee, a stranger lately come, and an exile, into my unquiet and precarious life?” Since I go whither I go, without certain aim, “whither the way leads me” (Maurer). Comp. 1 Samuel 23:13.—David wishes Ittai the favor and the faithfulness of God. From this and from Ittai’s saying: “as the Lord lives,” it is probable that Ittai with his whole house had already become a believer in the God of Israel. [From this expression we cannot infer anything as to Ittai’s religious position, much less as to that of his family. Any foreigner might believe in Jehovah as a deity and swear by His name (so Achish, 1 Samuel 29:6) without giving up his own gods. On general grounds it is not improbable that Ittai accepted the God of Israel; but we have no information as to any special religious depth or conversion in his history.—Tr.] It is doubtful whether we should render: “carry thy brethren back with thee in grace and truth.” (Maurer), or take the latter part separately: “with thee be grace and truth,” that is, God’s (Keil); the accents favor the first, the connection of thought the second. Sept. and Vulg. have: “and the Lord will do with thee grace and truth,” to which Vulg. adds: “because thou hast shown grace and faithfulness,” whence Thenius (with Ew. and Böttch. for the Sept. reading) will correspondingly change the Heb. text.28 But the words of Sept. and Vulg. seem to be an interpreting paraphrase, with the similar words in 2:5, 6, in mind. The text without this addition gives a good sense: “lead thy brethren back; with thee be grace and faithfulness.”

2 Samuel 15:21. Ittai’s answer expresses unconditional devotion and fidelity for life and death.29

2 Samuel 15:22. David accepts Ittai’s vow of fidelity. The latter with his whole family (wife and children, טַף, comp. Exodus 12:37) remains in the line of march.

2 Samuel 15:23. Description of the deep and loud lamentation of all the faithful people over the misfortune of their king. “All the land” = all the inhabitants who poured out with the procession; “all the people” = David’s courtiers and servants, were “passing by,” namely, in front of these crowds of people standing on the way-side. The procession marched eastward over the brook Kedron, it being David’s aim to reach the wilderness of Judah [that is, between Jerusalem and Jericho]. The Kedron, filled with water only in the winter or rainy season, was in the valley of Jehoshaphat, east of Jerusalem, between the city and Mount Olivet. David passed “in the direction of the way”30 to the wilderness, the northern part of the wilderness of Judah.

2 Samuel 15:24-29. The priests sent back with the ark to Jerusalem.

2 Samuel 15:24. Zadok (of the branch of Eleazar) with the priests took the ark from its place (2 Samuel 6:0), brought it out to David, and set it down where he halted (after passing the Kidron) on the declivity of the mount of Olives, “to give the people that were yet coming on time to join the procession” (Keil). On the other hand Abiathar (of the line of Eli [branch of Ithamar]) had remained in the city “till the people had all passed over from the city.” He went up, that is, of course, to the summit of Mount Olivet, where the ark was set down; the rendering: “he sacrificed” (Schultz, Böttcher), is impossible, since the verb (עלה) never has this meaning except in connection with the substantive “burnt-offering” (עוֹלָה) [or some other offering, Isaiah 57:6.—Tr.], or without reference to it in the connection; in the passages cited by Böttcher, 1 Samuel 2:28; 2Sa 24:22; 1 Kings 3:15, the context points to offering. Thenius proposes to read: “and Abiathar waited,”31 for which there is no necessity, as the text in the connection (in respect to the locality) gives a good sense.—[Böttcher: “And Zadok, etc., bearing the ark, etc., of God, and Abiathar the son of Ahimelech at the head of all the Levites, and they set down the ark of God, and Abiathar offered sacrifices until,” etc., an improbable reading, in which the inserted clause is suggested by the Sept. ἀπὸ βαινὰρ = Abiathar. Wellhausen acutely suggests that the words: “and Abiathar went up (or, offered sacrifices),” are in the wrong place; the text reads: “they set down the ark till all the people,” etc. It is hard to get any good sense from the present text, or to explain what part Abiathar took in the proceedings. Some think he staid in the city till the ark was set down; others (contrary to the text) that he preceded the ark, which was not set down till he stopped. Probably Abiathar ought to be somehow connected with Zadok in the bearing of the ark (see the plural “your” in 2 Samuel 15:27), and perhaps in sacrificing; but we have not the means of satisfactorily restoring the text.—Tr.]

2 Samuel 15:25 sqq. The ark sent back. David declares that he does not need this sign of God’s gracious presence and protection. His reason for this is expressed in the words [2 Samuel 15:26]: “if I find favor,” etc., wherein in contrast with the visible sign of God’s presence he emphasizes His spiritual nearness, on which everything depends, and gives himself unconditionally up to the will of the Lord, whom he knows to be present, whose hand he sees in these events, according to the announcement made him by Nathan. He resigns himself to God in the proper sense of the word for “favor or disfavor.” David speaks only to Zadok, who here (as in in 2 Samuel 15:24) appears as the officiating high-priest at the head of the Levites. [But from 1 Kings 2:35 it seems that Abiathar was the superior (Bib.-Com., Bähr on “Kings” (Lange’s Bible-work), Patrick). It is not improbable that some mention of Abiathar has here fallen out of the text (see 2 Samuel 15:29); though it may be that in the distribution of duties the care of the ark fell to Zadok. The two priests are throughout this narrative represented as equally faithful to David.—Tr.]

2 Samuel 15:27 sqq. [The king says to Zadok: Return to the city, and I will await word from you at the fords.] The word הראה [Eng. A. V. seer] presents great difficulties if we adopt the interrogative pointing, and render: “Seest thou not?” (Grot.), where the insertion of the negative is unwarranted, or: “Seest thou?” (De Wette), or: “Understandest thou?” namely, what I have just said (Böttcher), which renderings are partly too heavy, partly superfluous. [These translations take the word as Participle. Eng. A. V. takes it as a substantive, and unwarrantably inserts a negative, leaving out which, the rendering: “art thou a seer?” is grammatically possible, but not suitable to the circumstances.—Tr.] Instead of the Interrogative particle (הֲ) we must read the Article (הָ), and render: “Thou seer,” that is, thou prophet, “since a high-priest might certainly bear this higher, yet archaic name” (Ewald). The high-priest might well be called a seer, because he received divine revelations through the Urim and Thummim. David’s reason for so naming him here is found in his words in 2 Samuel 15:25 sqq. Zadok is to return to Jerusalem and learn God’s will through events, and through him David is to learn whether the Lord will again take him into favor and restore him to Jerusalem; that is, Zadok was to act as seer for him.—[This interpretation is hardly conveyed by the words. Zadok was to act as observer, as reporter or intermediary between Hushai and David, and in fact does so act. But he performs none of the functions of the official Roeh or Seer, and it is not easy to see why he should be so called. Usage forbids us to take the word in its literal sense: “seeer” = observer. Wellhausen’s reading: “high-priest” (ראש) belongs to a later time, and that of the Sept. “see!” (רְאֵה) seems to offer fewer difficulties than any other.—Tr.]—Ahimaaz and Jonathan the sons of the two high-priests are to be the messengers to bring news from Jerusalem; comp. 2 Samuel 15:28 and 2 Samuel 15:36.—In 2 Samuel 15:28 we retain (from 17:6 comp. with 19:19) the Kethib or text: “the fords of the wilderness” (instead of the Qeri “plains”32 [so Eng. A. V.], 2 Kings 25:5), the point where one passed from the wilderness over the Jordan. Thither (to the west side of the Jordan) David had to repair in order to escape any threatening danger by crossing the river at one of the several fords in the vicinity; and there he would await information from Jerusalem. Comp. the Jordan-fords, Joshua 2:7; Judges 3:28.

2 Samuel 15:29. The ark is carried back to Jerusalem, and the two high-priests remain there.

2 Samuel 15:30-37. Continuation of the flight on the road to the wilderness of Judah over the Mount of Olives.

2 Samuel 15:30. David went up the height of the olive trees, that is, Mount Olivet [Eng. A. V.: the ascent (or acclivity) of Mount Olivet]. Deep and loud mourning of David and all the faithful people that accompanied him. “Covering the head” is the symbol of the mind sorrowfully sunk in itself, wholly withdrawn from the outer world. Comp. Esther 6:12; Ezekiel 24:17. Of David it is said besides that he went “barefoot,” “as a penitent” (Ewald), or: “to manifest his humiliation in the sight of God” (Thenius).

2 Samuel 15:31. “It was told David,”33 he learned from Jerusalem, that the crafty Ahithophel (see on 2 Samuel 15:12) was “among the conspirators” with Absalom. He replies only by a brief ejaculation, praying the Lord “to make foolish the counsel of Ahithophel,” that is, to bring it to naught.

2 Samuel 15:32. The fulfilment of this prayer is straightway prepared by the arrival of Hushai, the old, faithful friend of David, see 17:1 sq.—David came to the top, that is, of Mount Olivet, its highest point, whither David had come after ascending from the height below on the declivity (comp. 2 Samuel 15:24 with 2 Samuel 15:30); for there only can have been the place where men were wont to worship. By some (Sept., Vulg., Ew.) [Eng. A. V.]) “David” is taken as the subject of the verb “worshipped;” but then an Infin. with Prep. “to” (לְ) must have been employed, or a Pers. Pron. (הוּא) inserted before the verb (Böttch.). This place on the top of Mount Olivet, therefore, was one of the Bamoth or high places, which still existed in various places in Palestine.—Hushai was a trusted, proved counsellor of the king, as appears from the duties assigned him (2 Samuel 15:33 sq.). That he was in close friendship with the king is shown by his repeated designation as “David’s friend,” 2 Samuel 15:37; 2 Samuel 16:16; 1 Chronicles 27:33.—The Arkite, from the city Erek in Ephraim, on its south border near Atharoth (Joshua 16:2). Hushai came to meet David, had consequently preceded him in the flight [or else, had been out of the city]. The “torn garment and the earth on the head” betoken his grief, comp. 1 Samuel 4:12. [According to Braun this garment was like a surplice, with sleeves, worn commonly by men of rank and position (Patrick).—Tr.]

2 Samuel 15:33 sq.—David, however, suggests to Hushai to return to Jerusalem. If thou pass on with me, thou wilt be a burden to me—why, it is not said. Ewald thinks it was because he was not used to war; but the matter in hand now was not war, but flight. Clericus supposes that he was a talented and prudent man, but not a warrior, and so Keil. Thenius: “thou wouldst thus increase my cares.” Probably David thinks that Hushai would impede his flight, either because he was old, or because, as the king’s intimate friend and confidential counsellor he would require special care. By entering Absalom’s service, he thinks, Hushai may foil Ahithophel’s plans (2 Samuel 15:34), and through the priests’ sons keep him informed of the state of affairs in Jerusalem. Hushai is to say to Absalom: Thy servant, O king, I will be; thy father’s servant was I formerly; but now—well,34 I am thy servant. [This was not honest, but it was according to the policy practiced in those days, and indeed in all ages. Which Procopius Gazæus approves so far as to say that “a lie told for a good end is equivalent to truth.” But I dare not justify such doctrine (Patrick).—Tr.]—[2 Samuel 15:35-36. Zadok and Abiathar and their sons are to participate in the stratagem of Hushai, and their moral position in the matter is perhaps the same as his and David’s. Bp. Patrick’s judgment above cited is hardly too severe. This was not an ordinary stratagem; these men, Zadok and the rest, were not simply spies, but we can avoid calling them traitors only by supposing that the priests were not recognized as adherents of Absalom, but as indifferent non-combatants, or as friends of David.—Tr.]

2 Samuel 15:37. Hushai returned to Jerusalem at the same time35 that Absalom entered the city. The addition of the Vulg.: “and Ahithophel with him” was occasioned, no doubt, by 16:15 (Thenius).

1 Samuel 16:1-14. Two disturbing experiences in David’s flight continued from the summit of the Mount of Olives.—1) 2 Samuel 16:1-4. Meeting with Ziba, and the latter’s calumny against Mephibosheth.

2 Samuel 16:1. When David was a little past the top [of Olivet], the point where he met Hushai (15:32). On Ziba, Mephibosheth’s servant, see 9:2 sq. He came to meet David, had therefore gone on in advance of the army (as Hushai did) in order more easily to secure David’s attention after the first disorder was over. On two saddled asses he brings a quantity of food, two hundred loaves of bread, one hundred cakes of raisins or dried grapes, one hundred cakes of fruit [probably fig-cakes] (παλάθαι, comp. the Sept. in Jeremiah 40:10; Jeremiah 40:12) and a skin of wine.

2 Samuel 16:2. Ziba states his purpose in bringing this food.40 [His gift was particularly thoughtful and seasonable.—Tr.]—His real wish was to gain the king’s favor and gratitude, he being shrewd enough to see that David would come out victor over his son.

2 Samuel 16:3. David asks: “where is the son (Mephibosheth) of thy lord (Jonathan)?”; to which he replies with the calumny, that Mephibosheth had stayed in Jerusalem, hoping to regain the kingdom of his father (Jonathan), who, if he had outlived Saul, would have been king. That the helpless cripple had designs on the throne, was an evident lie. But David might now believe it, partly because the present excitement prevented quiet consideration and opened his mind to such an insinuation, partly because he feared the Sauline party, dissatisfied with his government, might use the confusion produced by Absalom’s insurrection to restore Saul’s dynasty under the name of the last scion of his house. The aim of Ziba in this calumny (19:25 sqq. proves it undoubtedly to have been such) was to get possession of the estate committed to him for Mephibosheth’s benefit (9:7 sq.), comp. 19:27–29. The manner of Ziba’s trick was this (19:26): Mephibosheth, learning of David’s flight, had ordered asses saddled for himself and his servants, in order to repair to the king in token of his faithful attachment; Ziba had taken the asses together with the presents intended by Mephibosheth for the king, come to the latter, and left the helpless Mephibosheth in the lurch. He was therefore not only an arrant liar and calumniator, but also an impudent thief and traitor.41

2 Samuel 16:4. Another example of David’s credulity and haste. He believes Ziba without investigation, and bestows on him all his master’s property. The impudent swindler replies to this grace with two words: 1) I bow myself, that is, I manifest my most humble and devoted thanks; 2) may I find favor in the eyes of my lord, the king. I commend myself to your further good-will, comp. 1 Samuel 1:18. David, in the excitement of momentary misfortune, is here guilty of a double wrong, first in treating the faithful Mephibosheth as a traitor, and then in royally rewarding the false and slanderous Ziba.

2) 2 Samuel 16:5-14. Shimei curses David. The flight reaches Bahurim, on the position of which place see on 3:16, Thenius in loco and Käuffer’s bibl. Stud. II. 154.—[It was between Mount Olivet and the Jordan, but the exact site is unknown.—Tr.]—Shimei was of the race of Saul’s house.—[See the lists in Genesis 46:21; 1 Chronicles 8:1 sqq. Some identify him (but doubtfully) with the Cush of the title of Psalms 7:0.—Tr.] This explains his rage against David, which he here vents in curses and revilings and in throwing stones at him and his followers. [Such virulence is to this day exhibited in the East towards fallen greatness. Josephus states (Ant. 7, 9, 7) that Bahurim lay off the main road, which agrees very well with the account of Shimei’s behaviour (Smith’s Bib.-Dict., Art. Bahurim).—Tr.]

2 Samuel 16:7 sqq. Out, out, namely, out of the kingdom and the land. He calls David “thou bloody man” probably because he ascribed to him the murder of Ishbosheth and Abner (3:27 sqq.; 4:6 sqq.), of which he was wholly guiltless. [Others, less probably, think also of Saul and Jonathan, and even of Uriah.—Tr.] The misfortune [Eng. A. V. not so well “mischief”] that Absalom’s insurrection had brought on him he regards as a punishment from God, because he had become king in Saul’s stead. This shows how embittered Saul’s kindred were over David’s elevation to the throne, and how, therefore, Ziba’s slander against Mephibosheth found readier acceptance with David. [Shimei is here so far devout and religious that he ascribes the present state of things wholly to Jehovah, the God of Israel; but he ignores Samuel’s sentence of rejection (1 Samuel 15:0.), and otherwise shows a bad spirit.—Tr.]

2 Samuel 16:9. [Abishai wishes to kill Shimei.] On Abishai compare 2:23 sq.; 3:30. The “dead dog” is the expression of the extremest vileness and badness, comp. 9:8. Abishai appears here as in chaps, 2., 3. [and 1 Samuel 26:8] violent and revengeful. He wishes to make Shimei atone for his reviling with his head.

2 Samuel 16:10. [David restrains Abishai.]—Ye sons of Zeruiah. Joab is here joined with his brother (as in 2:23), being probably of the same opinion with him. “What is there to me and to you?” (comp. John 2:4,τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοὶ; Joshua 22:24; 1 Kings 17:18; for the thought comp. Luke 9:52-56), that is, what have I in common with you? [Eng. A. V.: what have I to do with you?]. David decidedly repels Abishai’s suggestion, saying: I have here no feeling in common with you; we are different persons; I will have nothing to do with you in such self-help and revenge. He bases this strict prohibition on the admonition that Shimei’s cursing is by dispensation of God. The marginal reading: “so let him curse, for the Lord” [so Eng. A. V.], and the insertion of Sept. and Vulg.: “and let him alone” (following the “let him alone” of 2 Samuel 16:11) after “sons of Zeruiah,” are explanations owing their origin to the difficulty that the text presented when the first particle (כִּי) was taken as causal (= “for” or “because”), the second (וְכִּי) being then very harsh. Render both particles by “when,” and begin the apodosis with “and who” (וּמִי). Maurer: “when he curses and when Jehovah has said to him, Curse David, who then shall say,” etc.42

2 Samuel 16:11 sq. David here combines Shimei’s cursing and Absalom’s revolt under the point of view of the divine permission and causation; and the fresh reference to this divine cause shows how deeply in his pious heart David feels in this misfortune also the blows of God’s chastening hand. “The repetition of the: And he said, is not superfluous, for the discourse is addressed to more persons than before” (Thenius). How much more the Benjamite, that is, the member of Saul’s tribe, who hate me. It is not surprising that such a one reviles me, when my own son seeks my life. David thus shows that from a purely human point of view there was no ground for the course proposed by Abishai.

2 Samuel 16:12. “Perhaps the Lord will look on my iniquity.” Instead of this (עֲוֹנִי) the Qeri or margin has “my eye” (עֵינִי), that is, the Lord will perhaps look on “my tears,” the Masorites [ancient Jewish editors of the Heb. text] not being able to comprehend how David, guiltless in respect to this reviling, could acknowledge himself guilty. We are not, however, to change the text to “my affliction” (עָנְיִי, Then., Ew. [Eng. A. V.]), but to retain the idea of guilt, since David deeply feels that he has offended, not, indeed, in the matter mentioned by Shimei, but against the Lord. God’s “looking on His iniquity” can then be only a gracious and merciful looking. “Perhaps the Lord will requite me good for the curse that has come on me this day,” since I patiently bear it as a chastisement of His hand. Retain the text “my curse” = the curse that has befallen me, against the Qeri “his curse” [Eng. A. V.], that is, Shimei’s. [It seems more in accordance with the thought here to read “my affliction” instead of “my iniquity;” see “Text. and Gram.” David’s humility is seen in his “perhaps;” he will not be sure of the divine blessing (Patrick). His feeling towards Shimei here seems to be controlled by an overpowering sense of God’s chastising providence. He does not exonerate his reviler, but feels that at this moment it is not his business to asssert his right, but only to bow under God’s hand. The misfortune that has befallen him is so terrible that he thinks Shimei’s addition to it only natural. Afterwards (19:23) under the generous impulses of victory, he pardons him, but finally (1 Kings 2:8-9) hands him over to Solomon’s vengeance. Whatever his feeling in this last act, it is clear that now his humble sense of God’s chastisement has driven all self-assertion and revenge from his heart.—Tr.].

2 Samuel 16:13. Shimei’s rage is increased, it would seem, by David’s quiet behaviour; he runs along the side of the acclivity (by which the road passed) opposite him, cursing and throwing stones at David and his followers.

2 Samuel 16:14. David’s arrival in “Ajephim” [Eng. A. V.: “weary”]. A place of this name, indeed, is not known; but that is no ground against its existence. If the word be rendered “weary,” no place is named to which they came, as the word “there” indicates. This place was certainly not Bahurim [2 Samuel 16:5], for 17. 18 shows that David’s rest-place was beyond Bahurim towards the Jordan, the priests’ sons having hidden at Bahurim, and then gone on farther towards David. [Bib. Com. suggests that Ajephim was a caravansary, for which the meaning of the word (weary) would be appropriate.—Tr.].—The exact statement of the localities of David’s flight [and, indeed, of the whole history of the day of flight—Tr.] is remarkable; comp. 15:17, 23, 30, 32; 16:1, 5, 13, 14.


1. The starting-point of the shattering of the theocratic kingdom till its very existence was threatened is found in the disruption of David’s house and family by the crimes of his two oldest sons. From the royal household itself comes the seducer of the people to conspiracy and insurrection against the divinely ordained government of David. From the morally corrupt soil of the royal court, whose highest officials break faith and rise against the kingly government, springs the evil spirit (the confederate of that seducer) that drags the people into revolution. But the success of Absalom and his accomplice shows that in the nation itself there was already dissension with the Davidic government and a process of disintegration that co-operated with Absalom’s act of insurrection; if there had not been widespread dissatisfaction at defects and wrongs in administration of justice, Absalom’s treacherous conduct could not have had so great and immediate results. If the bonds of fidelity and obedience, which before held the people to David, had not been sorely loosened, Absalom could not have straightway turned “the heart of the men of Israel” from him. And it is David’s own tribe, Judah, whence the rebellion proceeds and is carried on. Absalom’s general-in-chief is Amasa, a near kinsman of Joab and David; his counsellor is Ahithophel of Giloh in Judah; and the insurrection begins at Hebron, the old capital of the tribe. “There must, therefore, have been dissatisfaction in David’s own tribe. Indeed this tribe murmurs and holds back after Absalom is slain, and the other tribes submit. The hereditary tribe jealousy and the old opposition between Judah and the others, are not extinct” (Ew. Hist. III., p. 239). The first impulse to the insurrection was given in Judah, and in Judah its effects are longest to be seen.

If we inquire, indeed, concerning the innermost grounds and causes of the insurrection and the national disintegration, we must first and chiefly note the treachery of Absalom and his accomplice, which was combined with hypocrisy and with kindness offered as a bribe, and, on the other hand, the fickleness and unfaithfulness of the people. The ambition of Absalom and his associates used all means to befool the people and win their favor. And during time of peace the God-fearing sense that saw in David the Anointed of the Lord, the God-chosen king, had been lost by a great part of the people. Perhaps, also, David had erred in the government of the nation and State as of his house, and was partly to blame for the popular dissatisfaction. All these ethical factors combined to produce the present disintegration.—But, over against this manifold human guilt, David, looking at his present misfortune from the highest point of view, the theocratic, recognizes in it a divine punishment (comp. 12:10, 11), beneath which he humbly bows. Such a recognition is contained in his flight without attempt to withstand the insurrection. He goes his way a fugitive in tears, bowing humbly and quietly beneath God’s hand. “The Lord hath commanded him”—this is the expression of his submission to God. This is the source of his humble tranquillity, as he pursues his fugitive way, of his childlike submission to God’s will (“let Him do to me as seemeth Him good”) and of the gentle patience with which he takes men’s wickedness without return in word or deed, and bears it as a dispensation of God. But in all this there shows itself at the same time the fruit of this sorrowful experience: it proves to him a real visitation; he turns anew to his God with humble obedience and childlike trust; having obtained forgiveness of sins, he makes these sufferings as a paternal chastisement minister to the purification and sanctification of his heart and mind. “Only through new wrestling with the divine grace, only through humble submission to Jehovah’s righteous chastisement can he succeed in passing safely through this valley of death-shade.”

2. Penitent humility shows itself in the truly pious in patient endurance of ills that they must recognize as the consequence of their own guilt and accept as a chastisement and means of purification, as well as in the rejection of the self-willed efforts of others to ward off the evil or take vengeance on its originators.

3. To this period is to be referred (with most expositors) the origin of Psalms 41:0. and 55. Both Psalms have, as Delitzsch rightly observes, “the most marked historical, individual physiognomy;” they are mourning Psalms, picturing the hostility and falseness of numerous adversaries of the singer, and especially lamenting the faithlessness of a trusted friend and counsellor, with whom his numerous enemies are combined. The statement in 2 Samuel 16:23 shows how near Ahithophel stood to David as friend and counsellor, and how much importance the latter attached to his counsel. According to Psalms 41. a long sickness of the Psalmist is the occasion for his enemies to employ all their false and treacherous arts against him. In the midst of this suffering he implores the divine mercy and help, recognizing and bearing the suffering as chastisement for sin, yet affirms his conviction of God’s favor towards him as His servant, the uprightness of his heart, his firm confidence in the saving grace of the Lord, who will not let his enemies triumph over him, and (without expressing any revengeful desires, Hupfeld), holds in view the just requital that will overtake his enemies, “to which he, as a just king, was pledged” (Moll). In Psalms 55:0. the abruptness of the words, the excited haste of the discourse and the anguished tone of the Psalmist indicate a worsened situation, the extreme danger from the insurrection, which had now flamed openly out. By the hostility of his opponents he is brought to uttermost distress (Psalms 55:2-6 [Eng. A. V. 1–5]). He wishes for the wings of a dove, to find a refuge in the wilderness (Psalms 55:7-9 [6–8]), while in the city and on its walls are violence and deceit (Psalms 55:10-12 [9–11]), and a formerly trusted friend and companion joins his enemies (13–15 [12–14]), who are united with the hypocritical and faithless man (Psalms 55:21-22 [20, 21]). On these enemies he invokes destruction as divine punishment for their insurrection against the Lord’s Anointed, and for their wickedness from which they do not turn (Psalms 55:16-20 [15–19]). In this extreme need (corresponding exactly to the situation at the beginning of Absalom’s rebellion) the Psalmist exhorts his own soul to bear patiently the burden of suffering sent by the Lord, or rather, to cast it on Him, and expresses the firm hope and confidence, that the Lord will deliver the righteous by punishing evil-doers, concluding with the energetic exclamation of unconditional trust in God:—“But I, I trust in Thee!”—These traits of humble submission to God’s will and confident hope in His help answer precisely to David’s frame of mind as given in history. [The correctness of the foregoing historical explanation of these two Psalms is very doubtful. Psalms 41:0. was written while the author was still on a bed of sickness (Psalms 55:11 [10]), as David certainly was not when he heard of Ahithophel’s treachery. The alleged connection between the two Psalms as portraying the rise and full bursting-forth of the rebellion is impossible; for David did not hear of it till it was consummated. As to Psalms 55:0., its writer seems to be in the city (Psalms 55:9-12 [8–11]), nor does the history say anything of such intimate relations between David and Ahithophel as are indicated in Psalms 55:15 [14]; it was Hushai that was David’s friend.—Of course the religious value of these Psalms is not affected by our ignorance of their date and authorship.—Tr.]

4. This event of David’s history is of typical significance for the sufferings of Jesus in connection with the betrayal of Judas Iscariot, of which Jesus (John 13:18) says, referring to Psalms 41:10 [9] (“he that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me”) that it happened “that the Scripture might be fulfilled.” The Old Testament prediction of the betrayal, assumed in John 17:12 and Acts 1:16 must be found (according to our Lord’s reference to Psalms 41:10 [9]) in the treachery of Ahithophel, and the fate of Judas in his fate. [This view of typical significance falls of course with the failure to establish the connection of Psalms 41:0. with this history. Our Lord’s reference in John 13:18 is not necessarily more than a very general one. Acts 1:16 refers (see Psalms 55:20) to Psalms 109:8; Psalms 69:26 [25]. Since David suffered for his own sins, and had probably grievously wronged Ahithophel (see note on 2 Samuel 15:12) it is hardly allowable to make him herein typify Christ, and to regard Ahithophel as the forerunner of Judas.—Tr.]—Further, the separate incidents of David’s flight are strikingly parallel to the Lord’s way over the same path when He was betrayed by Judas. Though David suffered for his many sins, he had yet through penitence already obtained forgiveness of sins. Thus he was the righteous sufferer, who could appeal to God for the purity of his heart and the holiness of his cause. And for this reason he may be regarded as a type of Christ, as indeed Christ Himself by His reference to the passage in Psalms 41:0. establishes this typical connection.

5. It is noteworthy, how this break-down in David’s theocratic government by his own fault, through family-insurrection and popular defection, led to its restoration and confirmation. “We may say: just as David falls away from Jehovah, to be more firmly bound to him, so Israel turns away from David, to be (as the close of the history shows) more devotedly attached to him. The prelude to this first clearing-up of the relations between king and people is given in the conduct of the faithful band who stand firmly by David in the general defection” (Baumgarten). God’s instruments for building up His kingdom often sorely injure it by their sins, but receive therefor the deepest humiliations through God’s righteous chastisements, and must to their shame admit that He does not for their sin give His cause over to ruin, but raises it the more gloriously up from the fall occasioned by this sin—yea, uses them again as instruments to this end, in so far as they go not their own way in impenitent self-will (as Saul did), but (like David) with broken and grace-filled hearts go the Lord’s way and give themselves up wholly to His will.


Proof of the complete resignation to the painful leadings of the Lord occasioned by one’s own fall, 1) In humbly holding still under the strokes of God’s hand, 2) In patiently enduring the sufferings inflicted by bad men, 3) In quietly awaiting the Lord’s decision, whether He will exercise His grace or His justice towards us, and 4) In wisely using the means which please God for overcoming the evil, while decidedly rejecting tempting counsels that are against God’s will.

[Taylor: Civil war is always a terrible calamity; but when the standard of rebellion is raised by a son against his father, we have about the most painful form of strife of which this earth can be the scene..… That he whom we have fondled in our arms and nestled in our bosom, and whose first lisping utterances have been in the attempt to call us father, should live to be at deadly feud with us, and to attempt our destruction—this is misery indeed. “How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child.”—Tr.]

Fr. Arndt: In the manner in which David bears this deserved suffering, he appears to us again as the man after God’s own heart, in whom faith purified and strengthened by repentance had brought forth quite extraordinary steadfastness, fidelity and virtue-power, and revealed itself in a glory and elevation which throughout shines before us a picture worthy of imitation. This faith developed itself namely: 1) as obedience, 2) as resignation, 3) as prayer.

2 Samuel 15:1-6. Starke: When one winks at gross evil-doers too much, they become all the worse. That is the way with rude and wanton sinners; the more God attracts them by His goodness to repentance, the more they misuse it to greater and more numerous sins (Romans 2:4-5).—Berl. B.: Even the proofs of grace which so greatly humble the souls that draw near to God with simplicity and uprightness, make hypocrites to be full of pride.—Schlier: Ambition plunges from one sin into another; by ambition no one comes to anything right.—[Henry: Those are good indeed that are good in their own place, not that pretend how good they will be in other people’s places. … Those are commonly most ambitious of preferment, that are least fit for it; the best-qualified are the most modest and self-diffident.—Hall: No music can be so sweet, to the ears of the unstable multitude, as to hear well of themselves, ill of their governors.—Scott: For such is human nature, that these arts and attainments go much further in gaining the favor of the multitude, than wisdom and justice, truth and piety, or the most important and long-continued services. This is the old hackneyed way for men, destitute of conscience or honor, to wind themselves into important stations; and yet it is as much practiced, and as little suspected, as if it were quite a new discovery.—Tr.]

2 Samuel 15:7-12. Schlier: How often it happens that piety is for us an outward thing, just as we put on a garment, and inwardly we are strangers to the matter.—Absalom’s rebellion was the Lord’s chastening..… Even when we have found forgiveness, we must yet always feel the Lord’s mighty hand; and this hand often lies quite heavily upon us.—[2 Samuel 15:11. Hall: How many thousands are thus ignorantly misled into the train of error; their simplicity is as worthy of pity, as their misguidance of indignation. Those that will suffer themselves to be carried with semblances of truth and faithfulness, must needs be as far from safety as innocence.—Tr.]

2 Samuel 15:13 sqq. Starke: The dear name of God and religion must always be to ungodly men a cloak for their wickedness.—S. Schmid: How unfaithful the human heart is towards God, appears also from the unfaithful behaviour of men towards their greatest benefactors.—Berl. B.: David would rather be regarded as a timid man, than resist God. He regarded Absalom as an executor of God’s righteousness; accordingly he yields only to God, not to Absalom.—One can scarcely imagine the manifold inventions of which God’s strict love makes use, to crucify the converted souls that have once given themselves up thereto. It leaves nothing in them that is not overturned and annihilated. Before Thee, O Lord, all mountains must be made low and all valleys exalted.—Starke: God makes even severe temptations endurable for His people (1 Corinthians 10:13).—F. W. Krummacher: This unexpected meeting (with Ittai) immediately before the gates of the city appeared to the royal fugitive almost like a friendly greeting of his God, and dropped the first soothing balsam-drops into the painful wounds of his deeply lacerated heart.—Schlier: Here we have an example of what true fidelity is, and how beautiful it is to remain faithful to one’s king and lord. Fidelity becomes a man, and doubly becomes a Christian.

2 Samuel 15:25 sq. Cramer: Everything that opposes thee, endure it, and be patient in every sort of trouble (Sir 2:4). For patience is the best way to win.—J. Lange: Well for him who has so believing and open an eye that he can see through everything to God.

2 Samuel 15:30. Schlier: How instructive is this picture of David; how humble and yet at the same time how spiritual is Israel’s king! Who can fail to see that David on the Mount of Olives goes up truly bowed and contrite, with an humbled and thoroughly softened heart? But David knew that the Lord cannot reject an humbled and broken heart. Therefore in all his humiliation he is not hopeless.—Osiander: The more patiently and humbly we submit ourselves to the cross, the sooner we are released from it.—Berl. B.: The too great strength which one supposes himself to possess, causes self-conceit; weakness, on the contrary, makes a man very little and lowly.—Schlier: Whence comes all despair, whence all little-faith? Is it not because we still hold ourselves too good? And a thoroughly softened heart learns also more and more to take courage and be comforted, and believes ever more firmly that the Lord is kind to the humble.

2 Samuel 15:31. Osiander: The cunning and secret assaults of our enemies and those of the Gospel we can best bear up against and destroy through fervent prayer to God.—Even short prayers are mighty, if they only proceed from faith.—Starke: God can take the wise in their craftiness (Job 5:13; 1 Corinthians 3:19). When wickedness is armed with cunning and power, none but God can overcome it.—Even when the need is greatest, God causes His grace to be seen, and creates means whereby the misfortune is a little softened.—Schlier: Here we see what David, who bad before put all in the Lord’s hand, did in order really to obtain the Lord’s help. First of all David prayed. But after he has prayed he does not lay is hands in his bosom, but he does what he can to get help.—It is wrong to think we might manage the thing without prayer; but it is not less wrong if we think that prayer alone does it, and are disposed then not to do our duty also.

2 Samuel 16:1-4. [Scott: Selfish men often affect to appear generous in giving away the property of others for their own advantage, and are great adepts in address and insinuation. Flatterers are generally backbiters; for it is as easy to them to forge slanders of the absent, as to pretend affection and respect for the present.—Tr.].—Berl. B.: Shameful as was this slander to David against the innocent Mephibosheth by the false earner of thanks and eye-servant, in like manner inexcusable is the credulity and forgetfulness of David towards his faithful friend, Jonathan, in that he is here so swift to give a decree against his son, and does not once investigate the accusation against him, but condemns him unheard, contrary to his own practical knowledge.—Cramer: It is wrong to give a decision at once upon the allegations of one side, and to believe one party’s account. Persons in authority should guard against this (Proverbs 14:15). [“Audi alteram partem.”—Tr.]

2 Samuel 16:5-14. Starke: Judgment begins at the house of God (1 Peter 4:17). Who need wonder then if Christ and all holy men of God have been the world’s execration and off-scourings?—Schlier: It is always wrong to scorn and revile an enemy; and doubly wrong when it is done to an unfortunate, whose sorrow without this might almost break his heart.—Starke: Pious men should not murmur when they are chastened by the Lord, but should rather remember their sins, and recognize that after God’s strict judgment they would well have deserved something more (Micah 7:9).—Even in righteous zeal one must take good account of the time; for an untimely zeal, although righteous, amounts to nothing.—Schlier: The Lord controls even the sin of men, and where something evil has been devised in one’s heart, God takes even the evil into His service, and does not suffer it to do what the man wishes, but God does with it what He wishes. Therefore David bows, not indeed to that insolent man, but he bows to the Lord. He thinks of his sin; he confesses himself guilty and accepts even the injustice that is done him as a wholesome medicine. [Hall: Every word of Shimei was a slander. He that took Saul’s spear from his head, and repented to have but cut the lap of his garment, is reproached as a man of blood. The man after God’s own heart is branded for a man of Belial. He that was sent for out of the fields to be anointed, is taxed for an usurper; if David’s hands were stained with blood, yet not of Saul’s house. … It is not possible that eminent persons should be free from imputations; innocence can no more protect them than power.—Tr.]

2 Samuel 16:9. Berl. B.: It is a strong sign of pride to take offence at everything.—Cramer: Without God’s permission nothing evil can befall the pious (Acts 18:10).—Berl. B.: Almost all men commit the fault of looking to those who persecute them, instead of fixing their eyes only on God and His holy command. And this causes all the great sufferings that are experienced in such a case, the bitterness and the aversion that are felt for persecutors. David also did indeed commit precisely this fault, when Nabal refused him bread, on which account he also repented afterwards. But as he has now gone further, everything comes to him as a command of God, and his eye discerns God’s direction in everything. Therefore he suffered patiently, without growing indignant.—David is here above measure edifying in his behaviour, and beautifully teaches us in what way we should bear every sort of cross, and in all oppression, injustice and distress should bow and humble ourselves, not before man but before God from whom everything comes. There is nothing that amid all injustice and sufferings from men more quiets our mind and gives it peace than this consideration, that nothing befalls us through the wickedness of men without God’s holy and wise government.—[Maurice: To have his people’s heart stolen from him, to have his child for his enemy, to be deserted by his counsellors, to lose his kingdom, to be mocked and cursed,—this was rough discipline surely. But he had desired it; he had said deliberately, “Make me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within me.” And that blessing,—if it was granted him in part at once, if he rose up from that very prayer a freed man with a free spirit,—yet was to be realized through his whole life and to be secured by methods which he certainly would not have devised or chosen for himself.

2 Samuel 16:11. Hall: Even while David laments the rebellion of his son, he gains by it, and makes that the argument of his patience, which was the exercise of it. The wickedness of an Absalom may rob his father of comfort, but shall help to add to his father’s goodness. It is the advantage of great crosses, that they swallow up the less.—Tr.]

2 Samuel 16:12. Cramer: It is a great consolation in suffering, to have a good conscience (Psalms 7:4; 1 Peter 3:16).—Osiander: If we patiently leave vengeance to God, we move Him to cover us with blessings in place of the evil we have suffered.—Starke: Even in the midst of the cross we should not allow our hope and trust in God to sink (Hebrews 10:35; Romans 5:3-5).—Berl. B.: David suffers the evil with a gentle, quiet and humble spirit, and hopes that for this evil God will send him good. And this hope did not deceive him.

2 Samuel 16:13. David acted like one who does not turn at the barking of a dog, and thereby gives you this lesson: If you know well what you have inwardly within yourself, you will not care what men say outwardly about you.—Schlier: We should receive as from the Lord’s hand the wrongs that assail us, and if men insult and revile us we should not look at men but at the Lord, who rules and guides every thing.—[Wordsworth: S. Gregory observes that David was thus brought to a deeper sense of his own sins, and was exercised in true repentance, and so found cause to be thankful for these indignities, which made him nearer and dearer to God. It was a wise saying of S. Chrysostom that “no man is ever really hurt by any one but himself.” And even the heathen poet could bless heaven for injuries, and say, “It is a most wretched fortune to have no enemy.”—Hall: In good dispositions, injury unanswered grows wearied of itself, and dies in a voluntary remorse; but evil natures grow presumptuous upon forbearance.—Tr.]

[15:6. Stealing the people’s hearts. 1) The king—his weak negligence in not preventing, nor even perceiving all this. Men in responsible positions should be always on their guard. 2) The demagogue; a) his ostentation (2 Samuel 15:1), b) his painstaking (2 Samuel 15:2; 2 Samuel 15:6), c) his flatteries (2 Samuel 15:3; 2 Samuel 15:5), d) his lavish promises (2 Samuel 15:4). 3) The people—their folly in being duped by transparent arts—the net spread in their very sight, and they go in (Proverbs 1:17).—Tr.]

[2 Samuel 15:7-8. To make pretended devoutness a cloak for wicked designs, is one of the most heinous sins a man can possibly commit.

2 Samuel 15:19-21. David and Ittai—unselfish generosity, and unselfish fidelity.

2 Samuel 15:25-26. Sending back the ark. a) David does not suppose the presence of the ark to be a necessary condition of God’s presence. Contrast 1 Samuel 4:4-5. b) He does not despair of God’s favor, c) He is resigned to God’s will. Comp. 1 Samuel 3:18.—Tr.]

[14:5–13. David and Shimei: 1) The baseness of seizing a time of calamity to revile. And encouraged by finding it unpunished (14:13). Comp. 19:19, 20. 2) The false accusations. As to “the house of Saul,” David had been neither a) bloody, nor b) wicked in general. He was indeed “in his calamity” because of his sins, but they were not what Shimei charged. Revilers of the unfortunate often accuse falsely. 3) David’s devout patience under gross insult. Represses the resentment of his nephew, a) This insult is a trifle compared with Absalom’s course. b) David accepts the reviling as a punishment from Jehovah. c) He has hope that Jehovah may yet requite him for it (comp. 15:25).—Tr.]


[1][2 Samuel 15:5. This is the only place in the O. T. where the verb החזיק is followed by לְ with the object taken hold of (though it is sometimes followed by עַל and by the simple noun), and here 29 MSS. and 2 printed EDD. have בְּ. Perhaps this לְ was imitated from, or by error of copyist arose from the following לְ.—Tr.]

[2][2 Samuel 15:7. Though the true reading is here unknown, the reading “four” instead of “forty” has been adopted in the revised translation because it seems at any rate much more nearly correct than the Heb. text. The reading “forty” is found in Sept. and other Greek VSS., Chald., Vulg., Cod. A. (Amiatinus); “four” in Syr., Arab., Vulg., Cod., B. C. D. E. F. K. Veronensis, Josephus.—Tr.]

[3][2 Samuel 15:8. The Kethib or text is Hiph. Impf. (יָשִׁיב), the Qeri or marginal reading (ישוב) is Qal Impf. (יָשׁוּב) or Qal Inf. Absolute (יָשׁוֹב). The text is maintained by Böttcher and Erdmann as a repetition of the finite verb for emphasis; but this, if possible here, is certainly less probable than the Inf. Absol. construction (favored by Sept., Syr., Chald.): write Hiph. Inf. הָשֵׁב (Thenius, Wellhausen, Bib.-Com.).—Tr.]

[4][2 Samuel 15:10. A few MSS. and EDD. have בְּ as prefix instead of כְּ; here impossible.—Tr.]

[5][2 Samuel 15:12. The present Heb. text (וישׁלח), whether it be pointed as Qal or as Piel, cannot be so rendered, but means “and he sent,” which gives no sense. Only Chald. renders the Heb. literally; the other versions insert לְ or אֶל (“to”) after the verb, Vulg. accersivit (so Eng. A. V.). Others (as Böttcher, Thenius) insert וַיָּבֵא: “and he sent and brought Ahithophel;” Wellhausen suggests: “and he sent to Ahithophel and he came (ויּבֹא), Some such change seems necessary in order to make sense of the passage.—The following phrase also: “as he was sacrificing” is obscure, as it does not appear what his sacrificing has to do with the matter. Cod. Amiatinus of the Vulg. reads: “and when he sacrificed (was sacrificing), the conspiracy became strong,” thus connecting the growth of the conspiracy with the sacrifice, and so Böttcher: “when the man was come to Absalom to Hebron, as he was sacrificing, etc.,” while Wellhausen would omit the phrase. But there is no sufficient ground for changing the text here, not even for adopting the slight change of the Vulg., which Thenius prefers, rendering: “and by his sacrificing the confederation (קֶשֶׁר) was made firm,” that is, under the solemn excitement of the offering the conspirators were brought to swear fidelity to Absalom. But the meaning of the Heb. rather is that the conspiracy grew strong by accession of numbers. If we retain the text, we shall have to understand that Ahithophel was brought away as he was discharging a solemn duty, that is, summoned in haste to join the conspiracy, where success depended on rapid movement, or that he was summoned to join Absalom as the latter was sacrificing (so Chandler, Bib.-Com.). Patrick says: “after he had sacrificed,” but the words do not permit thisּ—Tr.]

[6][2 Samuel 15:14. לְפִי = “to (according to) the mouth,” or at “the mouth.”—Tr.]

[7][2 Samuel 15:17. The Sept. here varies somewhat from the Heb., and various changes of the latter have been suggested. The Sept. translation, however, in its present form contains a duplet; two different renderings of 17 b and 18 are combined, and these two in general confirm the Heb. text. The first Sept. rendering (2 Samuel 15:17-18) is: “and the king went forth and all his servants” (Heb. “all the people,” but some MSS. agree with the Greek, and Chald. has “all his household”) on foot (properly “at his feet, after him”), and stood in the far house. And all his servants passed by at his hand and all the Cherethites and all the Pelethites and all the Gittites the six hundred men that came after him from Gath and going before the face of the king,” which varies from the Heb. in one word only, putting “servants” (i. e., body-guard) instead of “people.” The second Sept. rendering (beginning with 17 b and inserted in the above after the word “Pelethites”) is: “and stood at the olive-tree in the wilderness” (בְּזֵית הַמִּדְבָּר instead of בֵית הַמֶּרְחָק “far house”), and all the people (Heb. “servants”) went by at his side (hand) and all those about him (this is possibly a general rendering of “Cherethites and Pelethites,” who formed a body-guard) and all the stout men and all the warriors (perhaps a double rendering of גִּבּוֹרִים “heroes,” which they read instead of גִּתִּים “Gittites”) six hundred men, and were at his hand,” after which the phrase “Cherethites and Pelethites” is repeated by error of copyist. From a comparison of the Heb. and Greek texts Böttcher proposes to read “at the olive-tree in the wilderness” (2 Samuel 15:17) instead of “at the far house;” to which Thenius replies that this is impossible, since David had not then passed over the Kidron. Thenius himself would adopt the “mighty men” (גִבּוֹרִים) suggested by the Sept. instead of the “Gittites” of the Hebrew; this emendation is a very natural one, but the fact of David’s having a band of foreign warriors is not so strange and improbable as to call for correction; the other versions here support the Heb. In 2 Samuel 15:17 Wellhausen prefers the “servants” of the Sept. to the “people” of the Heb. as indicating that David’s body-guard stood with him while the army passed on: and this reading, which is supported by some MSS. and EDD., and by the Chald. (see above) is probable; so in 2 Samuel 15:18 Sept. has “people” instead of “servants.” Wellhausen thinks also that some phrase introducing Ittai is necessary at the end of 2 Samuel 15:18, and that there are traces in the Heb. text of some such original passage; as, the statement that the six hundred men came “after him” from Gath, which was not true of this march. 2 Samuel 15:18 might then read: “and all the people passed on by him, and all the Cherethites and all the Pelethites and all the heroes (Gibborim), six hundred men, and Ittai also the Gittite, who not long before had come from Gath to Jerusalem, passed on before the king.” While this would ease the text and explain the circumstances, it seems too violent a change to make without more external support, especially as abrupt introduction of personages well-known at the time is not contrary to the usage of our narrative.—Tr.]

[8][2 Samuel 15:19. Eng. A. V. here gives the only possible translation (which is also that of Pagninus) of the Heb. text in its present form. Pagninus: “Return (and abide with the king, for thou art a stranger and an exile) to thy place.” Bib.-Com.: “Return and abide with the king (for thou art, etc.) at thy place.” But this parenthesis is very hard, and it would seem better either to remove the “to thy place” and put it after “return” (in the Heb.), a change that is without external support, or to read “from” (מִן) instead of “to” (לְ), and render: “and an exile art thou from thy place” (so one MS., several printed EDD., and Sept., Syr., Arab., Vulg.). Cahen follows the Chald.: “for thou art a stranger, and also if thou wilt migrate, go to thy place,” which differs from Eng. A. V. only in inserting the word “go” instead of transposing the phrase “to thy place.” Philippson: “thou art an exile for thy place,” which gives no good sense.—Böttcher and Thenius object to the supposed satirical tone of the remark: “abide with the king;” the former would read “in the city (בְּעִיר) of the king,” which is an improbable phrase, the latter simply “in the city.” The Syr. and Arab. also seem to have felt a difficulty here; Syr.: “desist from the king,” Arab.: “go not forth with the king.” The Heb. text is preferable.—Tr.]

[9][2 Samuel 15:22. Sept.: “Come and pass over with me. And Ittai the Gittite passed over, and the king and all his men, etc.,” which Thenius adopts, but Böttcher and Wellhausen remark that it entirely misrepresents the scene, where the troops are passing in review before the king, and it is impossible to suppose that his “little ones” were with him; the king himself does not pass over the brook till 2 Samuel 15:23.—Tr.]

[10][2 Samuel 15:23 Instead of קוֹל “voice” some Heb. MSS., Syr., Arab., have בְּכִי “weeping,” an unnecessary change. Some MSS. and EDD. omit the difficult אֶת at the end of the verse, but Böttcher changes it to זֵית “olive” in accordance with his untenable correction in 2 Samuel 15:17 (and so Thenius and some anonymous Greek versions).—Wellhausen omits the first כָּל־הָעָם, changes עֹבֵר into עֹמֵד and לִפְנֵי into לְפָנָיו, and renders: “and all the land wept with a loud voice and passed over; and the king stood in the brook Kidron, and all the people passed over in his presence the way of the wilderness.” The first correction is unnecessary, since the Heb. text (omitting אֶת) gives a good sense; the second correction, which represents the king as standing in the brook while the people passed, is not probable; the third gets rid of the superfluous repetition of the statement that the people passed over, but has the disadvantage of representing the bystanders (“all the land”) as passing over, which there is no reason to suppose they did.—Tr.]

[11][2 Samuel 15:24. The Sept. insertion here, ἀπὸ Βαιθάρ, a corruption apparently of Ἀβιάθαρ, has suggested various changes of the text. Probably our text is here defective, and Abiathar was perhaps more prominent in the original; but there is no ground for Wellhausen’s remark that we have here a post-exilian attempt to eliminate Abiathar from the narrative in the interests of the Zadokites.—Tr.]

[12][2 Samuel 15:27. The present Heb., with the masoretic pointing can only be rendered: “art thou a seer?” Erdmann, changing the pointing (הֲ into הָ): “Thou seer!” To this Thenius objects that “prophet” and “seer” are two different things, and that there is no propriety in here calling Zadok by the latter name; he himself writes: הַפְנֵה “turn back,” which, however, does not account for the text-reading. The simplest emendation is that of Wellhausen, who writes: הַכֹּהֵן הָרֹאשׁ “to Zadok the high-priest.” To this the objection is that the phrase occurs only in late books, Kings, Jer., Ezra, Chron., and this is not satisfactorily removed by Wellhausen’s remark that “the expression comes from the redactor,” since this would be the only instance in which a late (postexilian?) redactor has used the expression. The reading רְאֵה or רְאוּ would be supported by the same word at the beginning of 2 Samuel 15:28, as well as by Sept. The Syr. omits the word.—Tr.]

[13][2 Samuel 15:28. So (with Kethib) Erdmann, Böttcher, Thenius, Wellhausen, Keil. Cahen and Wordsworth: “passages of the wilderness” (leading to the river).—Tr.]

[14][2 Samuel 15:29. Sept.: “It abode there,” preferred by Wellh., but unsupported by other versions, and not decidedly better than the Heb.—Tr.]

[15][2 Samuel 15:32. Or, “where it was the custom to worship God,” an indication that public worship of God was maintained also elsewhere than at the Tabernacle.—Hushai is here called simply “the Arkite,” but in the Septuagint “the Arkite, the friend of David” (ἀρχιετᾶιρος = Αρχὶ ἑταῖπος), see 2 Samuel 15:37. This is probably an addition of the Sept., as Böttcher remarks.—The word rendered “coat” in Eng. A. V. is the Kuttoneth or tunic (χιτών), but we do not know its exact shape and size; it seems to have been shorter than the meil, which was the outer garment or robe.—Tr.]

[16][2 Samuel 15:34. The present form of the Sept. reads: “and if thou return to the city and say to Absalom, Thy brethren are passed over, and the king behind me has passed over, thy father; and now I am thy servant, O king, suffer me to live; thy father’s servant was I then and lately, and now I am thy servant; and thou shalt disconcert for me the counsel of Ahithophel.” Ewald would adopt the words “thy brethren, etc.,” as a statement that David and his other sons had gone on while Hushai went to Jerusalem. But Thenius and Wellhausen properly remark that the Sept. text here contains a duplet; the sentence “thy brethren, etc.,” is simply a misreading of the Heb. words “thy servant am I, etc.” The phrase “suffer me to live” (which Wellh. calls “too spaniel-like”) is the rendering of אֶהְיֶה (instead of the text אֶחְיֶה); and Böttcher remarks that the “and lately” (καὶ�) is an addition of the Sept. without support in the Heb.—The frequency of the וְ (“and”) in this verse is remarkable, and is imitated only by the Chald.: “I indeed was thy father’s servant, and now I indeed am thy servant,” a form of address intended to convey the eagerness of the speaker.—Tr.]

[17][2 Samuel 15:37. The Impf. יָבוֹא. Ewald (Gr. § 346 b): “the Impf. in simple narrations, where we should perhaps expect the Perf., indicates something synchronous or continuous.” Here, “when Absalom was on the point of entering Jerusalem.”—Tr.]

[18][2 Samuel 16. 2 Samuel 15:8. Margin of Eng. A. V.: “behold thee in thy evil.” Vulg,: “thy evils press thee.” Anonymous Greek: “and he showed me thy evil” (misreading, הִגִּד for הִנְּךָ). The context shows that רעה is here “calamity” rather than “mischief.”—Tr.]

[19][2 Samuel 16:10. Eng. A. V. here follows the Qeri. Erdmann, Maurer, Wellhausen, Thenius, Philippson and others retain the Kethib and render the כִּי variously; Maurer: “when;” De Rossi: “for;” Philippson: “yea;” Cahen: “if.” The apodosis may be begun with וְכִי יהוה אָמַר or with וּמִי; in the first case render: “when he curses, Jahveh has bidden him, etc.;” in the second case: “when he curses, and when Jahveh has bidden him, who will say?” Sept. and Vulg. (from 2 Samuel 15:11): “let him alone.”;—Böttcher renders: “if (כִּי), he curses the mouth of Jahveh (פִּי יהוה, that is, Jahveh Himself) has ordered it.” This reading was suggested to him, he says, by the fact, that, reading in the twilight, he mistook the כִּי for פִּי; but it has little in its favor.—Tr.]

[20][This remark is made also by Thenius and Keil, but it is doubtful whether the idea of immediateness is contained in the adverb itself, that is, especially in the prefix מִן. This prefix (= “from”) cannot in itself convey the idea, and the meaning of the adverb must be determined by usage; but it occurs too seldom in the O. T. (only three times 2Sa 3:28; 2 Samuel 15:1; 2 Chronicles 32:23) to permit us to draw the conclusion stated by Thenius.—Tr.]

[21]According to Ewald and Böttcher our text arose from the fact that אַרְבָעִים שָׁנָה [arbaim shanah, forty years] occurs much more frequently than אַרְבַּע שָׁנִים [arba shanim, four years], and the terminations a and im were confounded by the careless hearing of the scribe. The numbers from 2 to 10 usually take the plural after them; but there are exceptions, as 2 Kings 22:1. Comp. Ges. § 120.2.

[22] יָשִׁיב is not Infin., but Impf. Hiph., used for emphasis instead of the Infin.; “if he really bring me back.” Comp. Böttcher. [On this see “Text. and Gram.—Tr.]

[23][Cahen: “As it was impossible to hear one trumpet all over the land, we must suppose that there were various stations where the signal was repeated.”—Tr.]

[24]So as to read וַיְּשַׁלַּח [Piel] for וַיִּשְׁלַח [Qal]. [But this does not help. See “Text, and Gram.”—Tr.]

[25][Ewald remarks that a completer history is given of this day than of any other day in the Bible-narrative—a day crowded with events.—Tr.]

[26] לִמְקוֹמֶךָ, the לְ as Dat. commod.

[27]Instead of the Kethib אֲנוּעֲךָ [Qal] read the Qeri אֲנִיעֲךָ, Hiph. of נוּעַ, “to waver, wander.” [Böttcher thinks the Qeri an old Qal with the force of Hiphil.—Tr.]

[28] ויהוה יַעִשֶׂה עִמְּךָ וגו׳, so Then., Böttcher and Ew. after Sept.; כִּי עָשִׂיתָ חֶסֶר וֶאֱמֶת, so Thenius [to which latter Böttcher objects, and calls it a medieval gloss. Martianæus explains that Jerome in this addition gives what he thought was contained in David’s wish.—Tr.]

[29]The Kethib כִּי אִם = “surely,” is to be retained against the Qeri כִּי. Comp. Genesis 40:1; Job 42:8; Ew., § 356 b. The second כִּי = “yea!” or is a simple particle of introduction = ὅτι [“that”].

[30] עַל־פְּנֵי דֶרֶךְ אֶת־הַמִּדְבָּר.—[On the text see “Text. and Gram.”—Tr.]

[31] וַיָּחֶל [from חוּל; Böttcher rejects the form as unsupported (in Genesis 8:10 Qeri he reads Piel).—Tr.].

[32] עַבְרוֹת instead of עַרְבוֹת.

[33]Instead of חִגִּיד read (after Sept., Vulg., Chald., Cod. Kenn. 254) with Thenius הֻגַּד, or with Ewald (§ 131 d) הֻגִּיד (an unusual Hophal-form). הִגִּיד with Accus. of the person informed (instead of the usual לְ) occurs, indeed, in some passages (Job 31:37; Job 26:4; Ezekiel 43:10); but the rendering: “David announced” (Mich., Schulz, Gesen.), as if David had known it before, and had only kept silence out of consideration for his friends, gives no sense appropriate to the connection, since the next sentence: “And David said,” etc., necessarily presupposes that information has just been received. Nor do other constructions, such as the supplying a מַגִּיד [informant] (Maurer), or the change of דַּיִד to לְדָוִד taking the verb impersonally: “one told David” (Keil [Eng. A. V.]), or the change of וְדָוִד to וְדֶרֶךְ with impersonal construction of the verb: “and on the way one announced” (Böttch.), commend themselves, because of their arbitrariness and violent character.

[34]The apodosis is both times introduced by וַאֲנִי, comp. Ew. § 348 a.

[35]On synchronousness expressed by וְ with following Impf. (here יָבוֹא) see Ew. § 346 b.

[40]For Kethib ולהלחם (an obvious clerical error) read וְהַלֶחֶם. [Some MSS. and edd. have this Qeri in the text—Tr.]

[41][“It is impossible to say whether Mephibosheth was quite guiltless or not. If Psalms 116:0. was composed after the quelling of Absalom’s rebellion, 2 Samuel 14:11 may contain David’s confession of a hasty judgment in the matter” (Bib. Com.)—Tr.]

[42][On the text see “Text, and Gram.”—Tr.]

Verses 15-23

2. Absalom in Jerusalem. His Evil Deed through Ahithophel’s Evil Counsel. The Designs of the Latter against David thwarted by Hushai’s Counsel

2 Samuel 16:15 to 2 Samuel 17:23

15And Absalom and all the people the men of Israel4 came to Jerusalem, and Ahithophel with him. 16And it came to pass, when Hushai the Archite [Arkite] David’s friend5 was come unto Absalom, that Hushai said unto Absalom, God save [Long live] the king, God save [Long live] the king. 17And Absalom said to Hushai, Is this thy kindness to thy friend? why wentest thou not with thy friend? 18And Hushai said unto Absalom, Nay;6 but whom the Lord [Jehovah] and this people and all the men of Israel choose, his will I be, and with him will I abide. 19And again [in the second place], whom should I serve? should I not serve in the presence of his ?Song of Song of Solomon 7:0 as I have served in thy father’s presence, so will I be in thy presence.

20Then said Absalom [And Absalom said] to Ahithophel, Give [ins. ye] counsel among you [om. among you8] what we shall do. 21And Ahithophel said unto Absalom, Go in unto thy father’s concubines, which [whom] he hath left to keep the house; and all Israel shall hear that thou art abhorred of [art become loathsome to9] thy father, then [and] shall [om. shall] the hands of all that are with thee 22[ins. shall] be strong. So [And] they spread Absalom a tent upon the top of the house [on the roof], and Absalom went in unto his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel. 23And the counsel of Ahithophel, which he counselled in those days, was as if a man had inquired at the oracle [of the word] of God; so was all the counsel of Ahithophel both with David and with Absalom.

2 Samuel 17:1 Moreover [And] Ahithophel said unto Absalom, Let10 me now choose out twelve thousand men, and I will arise and pursue after David this night; 2And I will come upon him while he is weary and weak-handed, and will make him afraid, and all the people that are with him shall flee, and I will smite the king only; 3And I will bring back all the people unto thee; the man whom thou 4seekest is as if all returned;11 so [om. so] all the people shall be in peace. And the saying pleased Absalom well [om. well], and all the elders of Israel. 5Then said Absalom [And Absalom said], Call now Hushai the Archite [Arkite] also, and let us hear likewise [om. likewise] what he [ins. too] saith. 6And when Hushai was come [And Hushai came] to Absalom, [ins. and] Absalom spake [said] unto him, saying, Ahithophel hath spoken after this manner; shall we do after his saying? if not, [after his saying, or not?]12 speak thou.

7And Hushai said unto Absalom, The counsel that Ahithophel hath given is not good at this time [hath given this time13 is not good]. 8For, said Hushai [and Hushai said], Thou knowest thy father and his men, that they be [are] mighty men, and [ins. that] they be [are] chafed in their minds, as a bear robbed of her whelps in the field;14 and thy father is a man of war, and will not lodge With the people. 9Behold, he is hid now in some pit [in one of the ravines] or in some other place [in one of the places15]; and it will come to pass, when some of them be overthrown [fall16] at the first, that whosoever heareth it will say There is a slaughter among the people that follow Absalom. 10And he also that is valiant, whose heart is as the heart of a lion, shall utterly melt; for all Israel knoweth that thy father is a mighty man, and they which be [that are] with him are valiant 11men. Therefore [But] I counsel17 that all Israel be generally gathered unto thee from Dan even [om. even] to Beersheba, as the sand that is by the sea for multitude, and that thou go to battle in thine own person. 12So shall we [And we shall] come upon him in some place [in one of the places] where he shall be found, and we will light upon him as the dew falleth on the ground,18 and of him and of all 13the men that are with him there shall not be left so much as one. Moreover [And] if he be gotten into a city, then shall all Israel bring19 ropes to that city, and we will draw it into the river [brook], until there be not one small stone found there. 14And Absalom and all the men of Israel said, The counsel of Hushai the Archite [Arkite] is better than the counsel of Ahithophel. For the Lord had appointed [And Jehovah appointed] to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, to the intent that the Lord [Jehovah] might bring evil upon20 Absalom.

15Then said Hushai [And Hushai said] unto Zadok and to Abiathar the priests, Thus and thus did Ahithophel counsel Absalom and the elders of Israel, and thus 16and thus have I counselled. Now, therefore [And now], send quickly and tell David, saying, Lodge not this night in the plains [at the fords21] of the wilderness, but speedily [om. speedily] pass over, lest the king be swallowed up and all the 17people that are with him. Now [And] Jonathan and Ahimaaz stayed by [were stationed at] En-rogel, for they might not be seen to come into the city; and a wench [the maid-servant] went and told them, and they went and told king David [And Jonathan and Ahimaaz were stationed at En-rogel, and the maid-servant came and told them, and they were to go and tell king David; for they might not 18be seen, etc.22]. Nevertheless [And] a lad saw them and told Absalom; but [and] they went both of them away [om. away] quickly, and came to a man’s house in Bahurim, which [and he] had a well in his court, whither [and thither] they went down. 19And the woman took and spread a [the] covering over the well’s mouth, and spread ground corn thereon; and the thing was not known [nothing 20was perceived]. And when [om. when] Absalom’s servants came to the woman to the house, they [and] said, Where is Ahimaaz and Jonathan? And the woman said unto them, They be [are] gone over the brook23 of water. And when they had [And they] sought and could [did] not find them, they [and] returned to Jerusalem.

21And it came to pass, after they were departed, that they came up out of the well, and went and told king David, and said unto David, Arise and pass quickly over 22the water, for thus hath Ahithophel counselled against you. Then [And] David arose, and all the people that were with him, and they passed over Jordan; by the morning-light there lacked not one of them that was not gone over Jordan.

23And when [om. when] Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed [ins. and] he saddled his ass, and arose and gat him home [and went] to his house, to his city, and put his household in order, and hanged himself, and died, and was buried in the sepulchre of his father.


2 Samuel 16:15-23. Absalom in Jerusalem. He is greeted by Hushai. Ahithophel counsels an evil deed.

2 Samuel 16:15. And Absalom, comp. 2 Samuel 15:12, to which this narration attaches itself, the account of David’s flight (2 Samuel 15:13 to 2 Samuel 16:14) being interposed.—And all the people of the men of Israel [literally: all the people, the men of Israel.—Tr.]. Thenius: “Very significant: The old malcontents (2 Samuel 2:8-9).”

2 Samuel 16:16. Hushai, comp. 2 Samuel 15:32. He was to be the instrument for bringing to naught the designs of Ahithophel (2 Samuel 15:31).

2 Samuel 16:17. That David’s trusted friend and counsellor should come to him with the greeting: “may the king live,” must have astonished Absalom. But instead of expressing this feeling, he answers (in his double question) with a scornful fling (as his nature was) at Hushai’s friendly relation to David. [Patrick: Absalom did not reflect that one might have said to him: “Is this thy duty to thy father?”—Tr.].

2 Samuel 16:18 sqq. Hushai in his answer assumes the role of crafty dissimulation, suggested by David (2 Samuel 15:34). His first word is the answer to Absalom’s question: “why wentest thou not with thy friend?” It is therefore not to be rendered: “Nay, but” (De Wette, [Eng. A. V.]), but: “Not (i.e., I went not with David), because, etc.” Vulg.: nequaquam quia. [The rendering of Eng. A. V. here seems more natural and appropriate. See “Text, and Gram.”—Tr.]. Whom the Lord has chosen, that is, as the event has shown: I follow him who is king by God’s choice. As I served before thy father [so will I be before thee, 2 Samuel 16:19], i. e., it is self-evident that, my service with the father having ceased by God’s will, I must attach myself to the son. By the clever use of this double argument, the divine and the human, he easily imposes on the inconsiderate Absalom the delusion that he means honestly. [Hushai’s two reasons: 1) the voice of the people is the voice of God (Patrick); 2) former fidelity to the father is ground and pledge of present fidelity to the son.—Tr.].

2 Samuel 16:20. Brief statement of a council held by Absalom with Ahithophel and other counsellors (so the plural: “Give ye”) on the means of announcing and securing his usurpation. The Dativus commodi (לָכֶם) gives the sense: “it is your affair to counsel me” [literally: “give ye you counsel,” Eng. A. V. wrongly: “among you.”—Tr.].

2 Samuel 16:21. Ahithophel’s counsel was that he should publicly take to himself his father’s concubines (2 Samuel 15:16); this would indicate definite dethronement of the father, and complete assumption of royal authority. Comp. 2Sa 3:7; 2 Samuel 12:8. All Israel will hear, etc.—Ahithophel’s purpose Isaiah , 1) to make the breach between Absalom and his father irreparable, and 2) to infuse energy into Absalom’s followers, and confirm their defection from David.—Cornelius a Lapide: “That they may know that thy hatred against thy father is implacable, and so all hope and fear of reconciliation may be cut off, and they strengthened in thy conspiracy.” So also Ahithophel hoped to secure his own position [i. e., he feared that, if a reconciliation were effected, he would be sacrificed.—Tr.]. Absalom’s deed was the grossest insult to his father (comp. Genesis 49:4), and made reconciliation impossible. [Here again Ahithophel was perhaps avenging the wrong done to Bathsheba. So Blunt.—Tr.].

2 Samuel 16:22. They spread the tent; the Article [so the original, but it may properly be omitted in an English translation, because the definiteness is not obvious—Tr.] indicates that it was the tent designed for the roof, used by the king and his family for protection against sun, wind and rain. Thenius: “the expression: the tent is an evidence that the author is relating events of his time.” On the roof, the same where David’s look at Bathsheba led him into the path of sin, whose evil results for him are completed in this deed of Absalom. Thus is Nathan’s threat (2 Samuel 12:11) fulfilled; as he sinned against Uriah’s house, so is he punished in his own house.

2 Samuel 16:23. Explanatory remark attached to 2 Samuel 16:22. The immediate execution of Ahithophel’s counsel is explained by the fact that it had almost the weight of a divine oracle with both David and Absalom. It is thus intimated that they both put too much confidence in this bad man, the bitter fruit whereof David is now reaping. In 1 Chronicles 27:33 he is expressly called the king’s counsellor.24 To inquire of God’s word = to inquire of God. Comp. Judges 1:1; Judges 18:5; Judges 20:18; Judges 20:23; Judges 20:27; 1 Samuel 10:22; 1Sa 14:37; 1 Samuel 22:10; 1 Samuel 22:13; 1 Samuel 23:2 [comp. Genesis 25:22, where, however, the verb is different.—Tr.]

2 Samuel 17:1-23. Defeat of Ahithophel’s counsel through Hushai’s, and suicide of Ahithophel.

2 Samuel 17:1-4. Ahithophel’s counsel against David: To surprise him by night and kill him. Against the opinion of the older expositors that Ahithophel wished to avenge the wrongs of his granddaughter Bathsheba, Isaiah 1:0) that this relationship is not proved, for, though Ahithophel had a son named Eliam (2 Samuel 23:34), it is not shown that this man is the same with Eliam, the father of Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11:3); 2) granting, however, that Ahithophel was Bathsheba’s grandfather, it is hard to see how an ambitious man, like him, should have sought revenge, when he saw his granddaughter raised to the highest honors of the realm.—His advice is to fall on David quickly, that same night, with a chosen body of 12,000 men, and get possession of his person. Absalom having publicly and solemnly mounted the throne, there was needed a securing of his usurped power against David and his followers. “This night” is the night that followed David’s flight and Absalom’s entrance into Jerusalem. In favor of this is 2 Samuel 17:16, and also 2 Samuel 17:2 compared with 2 Samuel 16:14; for David’s exhaustion, on which Ahithophel counted, could only come from the haste and exertion of the day’s flight. The sudden night-attack with superior force (the march required was only about four geographical miles) was to throw David’s followers into panic and flight, and, while they were thus scattered, Ahithophel was to kill the king “alone,” that is, while he was alone (לְבַדּוֹ) He reckons on the king’s weariness; in the phrase “weakhanded” the “hand” is the symbol of strength, comp. Isaiah 8:11.

2 Samuel 17:3. And I will bring back all the people to thee, that is, all the people now gathered around David. Ahithophel regards Absalom’s government as the only lawful one, to which those fugitives must submit; their flight is in his eyes an act of insubordination, from which they are to be brought back.—In the following difficult phrase [Eng. A. V. and Erdmann: “the man thou seekest is as if all returned”] the first question is whether we shall (with Thenius) adopt the reading of the Septuagint: as the bride returns to her husband; only the life of one man thou seekest, (and all the people will be uninjured”). But, apart from the fact that no other ancient version has a trace of such a text, why may not the translation of the Sept. come (as Keil supposes) from a wrong reading of our Hebrew?41 For the rest, Böttcher (against Thenius) rightly objects that we cannot speak of the “husband” of a bride; “where and when,” he asks, further, “was the bride brought back to her husband?” Böttcher himself renders: “as her wooer leads back the bride, etc.” [where “wooer” is the person sent to propose for the bride, as Eliezer for Rebecca, Genesis 24:0.—Tr.]; against which is the fact that the word he proposes (אֹרֵשׂ) is never found in this sense of “wooer,” and also the unsuitableness of the adverb “back.” The rendering: “if all return, [only] the man that thou seekest [will be killed]” (Mich., Schultz) is to be rejected on account of the aposiopesis and consequent supplements. S. Schmid and Clericus translate: “when all the men that thou seekest return, all the people will be at peace” [so Philippson and Luther]; but this contradicts the connection, according to which the word “seekest” can only refer to David, and the word “man” (אִישׁ) must be in the Singular referring to him. Maurer proposes two renderings, one: “then I will bring back to thee all the people, as if the man that thou seekest brought back all,” where the understanding of the Qal (שׁוּב) as causative, though possible (Numbers 10:36; Psalms 85:5 [4]; Micah 2:13), is here improbable, as he says, since two forms [Qal and Hiphil] having the same meaning would not stand so near together; the other: “then I will bring back to thee all the people, as if all returned, would the man return (כְּשׁוּב) whom thou seekest” (i. e., as if David, the man that thou seekest should be brought back with all his men) is to be rejected, (with Thenius) as unintelligible. The translation of the Vulgate: “and I will bring back all the people, as one man is accustomed to return (for one man thou seekest”) gives no clear sense. Ahithophel’s words are to be taken strictly according to their connection with the preceding 2 Samuel 17:2, where he sets the one man, David over against all the people with him, and announces it as his plan to kill him alone, so as then to bring back all the people (2 Samuel 17:3) that had gone out with him. That is, the one man that thou seekest is equivalent to the return of the whole people. Peter Martyr (Vermigli): “one, says he, will perish, the multitude will be spared.” Dathe: “it is the same as if all returned, when he that thou seekest is killed” [so nearly Chald.]. De Wette: “the man that thou seekest is equivalent to the return of all.” Bunsen: “the return of all that have not yet joined thee, depends on the removal of David; his fall brings peace to the whole nation.”—Literally: “the whole people will be peace,” = “in peace,” adverbial use, as in 2 Samuel 20:9; 1 Samuel 25:6.

2 Samuel 17:1-4. “The saying was right in the eyes of Absalom, etc.,” pleased him (2 Samuel 19:6; 2Sa 18:20; 2 Samuel 18:26; 1 Kings 9:12; Jeremiah 18:4, etc.).

2 Samuel 17:5-14. Hushai’s counsel against Ahithophel.

2 Samuel 17:5. Though Ahithophel’s counsel had been generally approved, Absalom sends for Hushai in order to hear his opinion. There is no need to read the Plural “call ye” (Sept., Vulg., Syr., Then.) instead of the Sing, “call thou” (of the Heb.), since Absalom, as king, might give such a command even to Ahithophel, instead of to the servants. As he had accorded full confidence to Hushai (2 Samuel 16:18-19), he wished at this decisive moment to hear his advice also.42

2 Samuel 17:6-7. Hushai, being asked, pronounces Ahithophel’s counsel “not good” [“Not good is the counsel that Ahithophel counsels this time,” that is, his former advice was good (2 Samuel 16:21), but not this.—Tr.].

2 Samuel 17:8 sq. Hushai gives his advice in elaborate and skilful style. Against Ahithophel’s opinion that David was “exhausted” (2 Samuel 17:2), he first affirms the contrary, observing that Absalom knew his father and his men to be valiant heroes, and that they were embittered in spirit, as a bear robbed of her whelps (comp. Judges 18:25; Proverbs 17:12; Hosea 13:8). So he would not stay at night with the people, where he might be surprised. Böttcher and Thenius render: “and lets not the people lodge for the night” (יָלִין as unusual Hiphil); but there is no ground for this, [it does not agree with 2 Samuel 17:9 (Keil)].

2 Samuel 17:9 sqq. Description of how David, as a genuine military man, would be on his guard during the night, and, at the approach of Absalom’s troops, would rush forth from his caverns43 and strong positions, fall on the enemy’s advanced guard and defeat the whole body. “In the falling on them,” where from the connection David is the subject,=“when he falls on them.” [Eng. A. V.: “in the falling among them,” = when some of them fall. See “Text. and Gramm.”—Tr.]. The “them” refers from the context to Absalom’s men, and it is unnecessary to read “the people” (בָעָם Dathe). “In the beginning,” since David would begin the fight by falling on the approaching enemy. [Or, according to Eng. A. V., the fall of some of Absalom’s soldiers at the beginning of the battle would create a panic and flight, there being general fear of the military skill and prowess of David and his generals. Bib.-Com.: “It is likely that Absalom was not a man of courage, and Hushai, knowing this, adroitly magnified the terror of the prowess of David and his men.”—Tr.].—And the hearer hears and says, etc.—picture of the spread of a report of defeat by those that are first attacked.

2 Samuel 17:10. Though the hearer be lion-hearted, he will melt in fear, because it is known in all Israel what heroes David and his men are. This explains how the report of an attack by David would lead to a general everthrow. To Ahithophel’s proposal to surprise David Hushai replies that on the contrary David would surprise them.

2 Samuel 17:11. Therefore his counsel is that Absalom should summon a great force from all Israel, and lead it against David in person. Properly: “but44 (or, rather) I counsel.” It is unnecessary to read “in their midst” (Sept., Vulgate, Arab., Thenius) instead of “into battle,” since a change in the Hebrew from the latter to the former would be easy.

2 Samuel 17:12 sq. Hushai explains to Absalom how he could with so great an army easily annihilate David’s band. “We shall come unto him in one45 of the places.” The next sentence is rendered in two ways: either: “so we on him,” that is, so we fall on him (Vulg.: irruemus super eum), spread over him, as the dew falls on the earth;46 or, “we light47 on him” [so Eng. A. V.], as the phrase is used of an encamping army (Isaiah 7:2; Isaiah 7:19), and of a lighting swarm of flies or locusts (Isaiah 7:19; Exodus 10:14), and elsewhere (with עַל “on”) in the sense of “lighting” (2 Samuel 21:10; Genesis 8:4; Exodus 10:14; Numbers 11:25-26); not: “we encamp against him” (De Wette). The second translation [“we light on him”] answers better to the figure of the dew, which falls quietly and unperceived on the earth at night, with which (as before with the sand on the sea) Hushai compares Absalom’s army, settling quietly in its overwhelming power on David. On the other hand the emphatic “we” at the beginning of the sentence [as in the first translation] is without ground, and does not correspond to the verb “we come” in the preceding clause; while to this latter properly corresponds the verb “we light” (as indeed all the ancient versions have a verb in this place). Böttcher further remarks that this form of the Heb. Pers. Pron. is everywhere else used in a depreciatory sense: “we insignificant, very poor persons,” which would here be against the connection. Böttcher, however, would read “locust”48 instead of “dew,” and render: “and sink (rush) on him, as a swarm of locusts falls on the earth;” but this is too remote a conjecture (having no support in any ancient version or in any rendering), and unnecessary besides, since the figure of the dew, together with that of the sand, fitly sets forth the swift and quiet settling of the huge host on the enemy. And with this accords perfectly the statement of the success of the attack: “not even one will be left.”

2 Samuel 17:13. Hushai, assuming that the imagination of his hearers would be carried from one conception to the other, here passes in a wordy discourse, skilfully adapted to gain his end, to the supposition (which would appear natural to a military man) that David, defeated as above described, should “concentrate to the rear,” and throw himself into a strong city. Then all Israel set ropes to this city. Vulgate: “all Israel put ropes around that city.” Hushai is not speaking of ropes thrown over the walls by which the latter are thrown into the ditch (Michaelis, Dathe, Niemeyer), for nothing is said of a ditch and walls; but in his exaggerated mode of expression, which he forces to a hyperbolical climax (all intended for momentary effect), he shows how easily even then David could be captured, all Israel laying ropes about the city and dragging it into the neighboring brook or river. We are not here with Ewald to understand a city-fosse (נַחַל), “for the fosse was close by the city” (Then.), but the brook or river on which the city is built, “because fortified cities are almost always on the declivities of brooks or rivers” (Then.). “Till not even a small stone be found,” so the ancient versions;49 comp. Amos 9:9 : “a little grain.”—The meaning is: “Your powerful army will easily destroy the fortified place, where David may seek refuge, and leave not one stone on another.” Cornelius a Lapide: “we will collect so great a force that we shall be able to put ropes around the city (so to speak), and drag it down to ruin.”

2 Samuel 17:14. To this advice of Hushai Absalom gives the preference over Ahithophel’s. The boldness and highflown extravagance of Hushai’s words accorded with Absalom’s character and with his wish to secure his throne in brilliant fashion by overpowering the force opposed to him. Clericus: “The counsel seemed good, and at the same time was full of a certain boastfulness, that pleased the young man.” The statement about the bravery of David and his men was true; the deceit in Hushai’s counsel was only the advice to make a levy of all Israel. Absalom deluded himself with the belief that this could be easily raised, not considering that only the discontented part of the people formed the kernel of the insurrection, that no small portion still remained true to David, and that another part, now for the moment fallen away, would return after the first fit of revolution had passed. For this reason it was an important consideration (to which Hushai slyly had regard) that David gained time while Absalom was preparing to summon all Israel. P. Martyr: “to what does Hushai look in this counsel? to delay; delay, he knows, makes for David’s cause.”—And the Lord had appointed. In all this the narrator sees a divine appointment or ordination, the aim of which was thus to bring on Absalom the evil (that was determined on). The verb (צִוָּה) is used in the signification “appoint, ordain,” also in Ps. 48:29 [psa 48:28]; Psalms 111:9; Lamentations 1:17; Isaiah 45:12; the object of the verb is apparent from the connection. Ahithophel’s counsel is called good, because it was to Absalom’s interest to attack David immediately.

2 Samuel 17:15-22. Hushai promptly sends word to David.

2 Samuel 17:15. He first informs the two high-priests, Zadok and Abiathar, of the council that was held. Comp. 2 Samuel 15:27-28. [Bib. Com.: “It is remarkable how persistently Zadok is named first.”—Patrick: “Herein Hushai betrayed Absalom’s counsels.”—Tr.]

2 Samuel 17:16. He directs them to send information to David as speedily as possible by their sons, and to convey his advice concerning his next movement. Grotius: “David’s plan, above mentioned (2 Samuel 15:35-36), succeeded well.” Lodge not to-night at the fords of the wilderness (2 Samuel 15:28), that is, stay not this side the Jordan, but cross over. The necessity of the passage of the Jordan for David’s safety is shown by the following (variously understood) words: That it (namely, the transit) be not swallowed up (defeated, rendered impossible) to the king and to all the people that are with him. So (with Böttcher) the sentence is best understood from the connection and from David’s dangerous situation, the noun “crossing over” [transit] being taken as the subject of the verb (עבוֹר immediately preceding). It was important that David should get away from this side the Jordan, where the masses were to be called out against him, and meantime, since a hasty expedition might be sent against him, when it was found that he was on the west side (especially if Absalom should change his mind and adopt Ahithophel’s counsel), he must pass immediately to the east side, where he might hope to find many followers, as actually happened. To the phrase “that it be not swallowed up” other interpretations are given: that of Maurer and De Wette: “lest destruction be prepared for the king” is untenable because the meaning of the verb (“swallowed up”) makes the introduction of such a verbal subject [“destruction”] impossible; that of Gesenius: “that the king be not swallowed up” [so Eng. A. V.] is equally untenable, because then the text should have “the king” as Nominative [in the Heb. it is preceded by the Prep, “to”—Tr.]. Of Ewald’s rendering (Gram. 295 c): “that it (misfortune) be not swallowed by the king,” that is, that the king may not have to suffer it, Böttcher rightly says: “a very unnatural rendering, with a very remote verbal subject, for which the verb would at least better be Feminine.” [It seems allowable here to take the verb as impersonal, and render (with Eng. A. V., Ges., Philippson, Cahen): “lest it be swallowed (destroyed) to the king,” i. e., lest the king be destroyed. So all the ancient versions50 understood it. The construction adopted by Erdmann requires a somewhat difficult supply of a subject to the verb.—Tr.]

2 Samuel 17:17. “And Jonathan and Ahimaaz were standing” [= were stationed], where the Participle “were standing” expresses their readiness to go as messengers to David at any moment, according to the arrangement in 2 Samuel 15:28; 2 Samuel 15:36. To this end they were stationed outside the city at the Fuller’s Fountain [En-rogel] for the purpose of receiving information. En-rogel (comp. Joshua 15:7; 1 Kings 1:9) is the “present very deep and abundant Fountain of Job, Bir Eyub (Von Raumer, p. 307), or of Nehemiah, south of Jerusalem where the vallies of Kidron and Hinnom meet, Rob. II. 138 sqq. [Am. ed. I. 331–333]; Tobler, Top. II. 50 sqq.” (Knobel). [See in Smith’s Bible-Dictionary, Art. “En-rogel,” Bonar’s argument for identifying En-rogel with the “Fountain of the Virgin,” and Dr. Wolcott’s reply (Am. ed.) in favor of Bir Eyub.—Tr.]—The maid, not “a maid,” since the Article [of the Heb.] denotes the particular maid-servant belonging to the high-priest’s house. And they went, an anticipatory remark, the narrator desiring to mention immediately the chief fact, namely, that they carried the information to David. [See “Text and Gram.,” where the inversion of Eng. A. V. is pointed out, and a slightly different translation proposed.—Tr.] For they could not let themselves be seen to come into the city—appended explanation of the fact that they were outside the city, and the maid-servant had to go to them. Her going out to the spring would not seem strange, while their entrance and return would have excited suspicion, since it was known (2 Samuel 15:25 sqq.) that they were on David’s side.—From 2 Samuel 17:18 it seems that Absalom closely watched them: A lad saw them and told Absalom. Seeing that they were observed, and expecting to be followed, they hastened off in order to get the start of their pursuers, and then to hide somewhere. They went to Bahurim, where Shimei met David (2 Samuel 16:5), whose counterpart is the man in whose house the two young men found refuge. It is again a woman (the man’s wife) whose presence of mind and cunning did David’s cause a great service. The messengers descended into the empty well in the court.

2 Samuel 17:19. And she spread the covering, which (as the Art. shows) was at hand, or was designed for the well (Thenius), over the well, and spread thereon the grain-corns (Proverbs 27:22) with which (so the Art. indicates) she was occupied. Vulg. (explanatory rendering): “as if she were drying barley-groats.”

2 Samuel 17:20. Absalom’s servants come in pursuit, are misdirected by the woman, find nothing and return to Jerusalem.51 [Patrick: “It seems to have been a common opinion in those days that these officious lies for the safety of innocent persons had no hurt in them.”—Tr.]

2 Samuel 17:21 sq. The messengers hastened to David, who, in consequence of the information they brought, crossed the river immediately, so that by the morning light not even a man more was on the west side. The situation of affairs was now favorable to David’s cause.

2 Samuel 17:23. Ahithophel betakes himself to his city, leaves Absalom’s court, that is, out of chagrin at the rejection of his counsel, anger at the frustration of his ambitious plans, and also from fear of the fatal results that David’s victory would have for him, the contriver and furtherer of the insurrection. A self-murder52 from baffled ambition and despair. Not only is David’s prayer (2 Samuel 15:31) answered, but Ahithophel falls under God’s judgment for his unfaithfulness and treachery.


1. Absalom’s insurrection and the establishment of a new kingdom with public dishonoring of the royal house, is the completion of the judgment on David’s deep fall and weakness towards his sons’ crimes, the purpose of which was to purify him (after penitential self-humiliation on his part), and to subject him to the test of faith, without which he could not rise by God’s hand from this deep abasement. On the other hand, the success of the godless rebel shows a lack of a true theocratic feeling in the mass of the people, who, in abandoning God’s government, were guilty of opposition to the government of God. At the same time in Absalom’s conduct (adopted through Ahithophel’s evil counsel) is exhibited the general truth that God permits evil to work out its own consequences, and the wicked to entangle themselves in their own snares, that He may reveal His justice and holiness in the self-condemnation and self-destruction of the power of evil, and thus lead the wandering and apostate, when they will hear His voice, to reflection and conversion, as happened here to the people, after the wickedness of Absalom and Ahithophel had completely worked itself out.

2. The divine justice is anew revealed in and on the house of David through Absalom’s publicly committed crime. The answer to the question why God brought on David’s house this deed of shame of His own son, is given in the Lord’s word through Nathan (2 Samuel 12:11-12). The sins of the fathers are visited not only on the children, but through them. “Absalom’s deed was another chastisement for David from the Lord, not, indeed, a sign of the divine anger, but a wholesome paternal discipline, that was meant for his good. In such earnest does God deal with His children, even after He has taken them into favor” (Schlier).

3. Absalom’s rejection of Ahithophel’s good counsel for Hushai’s destructive counsel sets forth the truth that evil punishes itself by itself, and especially pride and vanity blind man, so that he errs in the choice of means for his sinful ends, and secures not only their frustration, but also his own destruction. But this occurs in the course of the moral government of the world, under the guidance of the divine justice and wisdom, which takes human sin, blindness and foolishness into its plans as a factor, in order to frustrate its wicked aims and to effect its own holy aims.


2 Samuel 16:15. Schlier: Poor, deluded fool, that strives after popular favor, and when he has found it, consoles himself therewith. There is nothing more changeable than popular favor—nothing more transitory than what is called public opinion.

2 Samuel 16:16-19. Cramer: Remain faithful to thy friend in his poverty, that thou mayest again enjoy thyself with him when it goes well with him (Ecclus. 22:28, 29).—The saints of God do many a thing with good intentions, and yet we are not on that account to take part in it all. Meantime God lets it happen, and knows how thereby to carry out His work (Isaiah 28:21; Isaiah 28:29).—Schlier: What we say should be true, not merely that it shall contain no lie, but also that it be free from all double-meaning. In the times of the Old Testament, God the Lord could overlook such double-meaning; with us, in the times of the New Testament, that is no longer the case, but it holds always and every where that the Lord will make the upright prosper.

2 Samuel 16:20 sq. Hedinger: Worldly wisdom and spiritual gifts do not always dwell under one roof.—S. Schmid: He must be extremely ungodly who can openly do that of which nature has a horror even in private.—Schlier: David certainly thought anew upon his old sins, was ashamed and humbled himself, and in his son’s sin again recognized his own sin, and anew repented before the Lord.

2 Samuel 17:1-4. Cramer: God blinds the ungodly, and confounds them through giddiness, so that they can neither see nor know what in human wise is wholesome and good for them; for He puts to shame the wisdom of the wise (Isaiah 29:14; Job 12:17).—[Taylor: This plan was worthy of Ahithophel’s reputation. If it had been energetically followed, it would have been completely successful, and would have changed the entire color and complexion of Jewish history.—Tr.]

2 Samuel 17:5-14. Large talking and grand schemes are a means whereby young and inexperienced persons are often deceived (1 Kings 12:10).—The Lord ensnares the ungodly in their cunning, so that they are deceived by that very thing on which they most relied.—S. Schmid: If God does not open and rule the eyes of the mind, even the most sensible men are blind (Psalms 119:18).—Starke: God does not leave His enemies to manage as they will, but appoints them a limit, how far they shall go. When they take hold most shrewdly, yet God goes another road (Psalms 33:10; Isaiah 8:10; Job 5:12).—[Hall: First, to sweeten his opposition, Hushai yields the praise of wisdom to his adversary in all other counsels, that he may have leave to deny it in this; his very contradiction in the present insinuates a general allowance. Then he suggests certain apparent truths concerning David’s valor and skill to give countenance to the inferences of his improbabilities. Lastly, he cunningly feeds the proud humor of Absalom, in magnifying the power and extent of his commands, and ends in the glorious boasts of his fore-promised victory. As it is with faces, so with counsel; that is fair that pleaseth.—Tr.]—Schlier: A good cause always goes the way of truth, and does not need scoffing and self-important words, but goes on soberly and simply. Absalom gave heed to Hushai’s bad counsel, because Hushai knew how by means of his vanity to bring him to a fall.—The Lord is with us and lets nothing happen to us; He also knows how to turn the wickedness of our enemies into a blessing to us. And if all the world is hostile and persecutes us, the Lord takes in hand even our persecutors, and does with them as He pleases.

2 Samuel 17:15-22. Schlier: Let us recognize the Lord’s hand in the things of common life also, but let us always honor His hand and thankfully accept what it gives. Circumstances are God’s messengers, and well for him who in these circumstances recognizes and honors the hand of his Lord. It was God’s hand that through all these littlenesses and casualties caused the news of Ahithophel’s counsel to come safe to David.

2 Samuel 17:23. Cramer: Ungodly men fall into the pit which they make for others (Psalms 7:16 [Psalms 7:15]; 1 Samuel 9:16 [1 Samuel 9:15]; Proverbs 26:27). [Hall: What a mixture do we find here of wisdom and madness! Ahithophel will needs hang himself; there is madness: he will yet set his house in order; there is an act of wisdom. … How preposterous are the cares of idle worldlings, that prefer all other things to themselves, and while they look at what they have in their coffers, forget what they have in their breasts.—Taylor: This is the first recorded case of deliberate suicide. And the feelings which led to it and which we can easily analyze, were very similar to those which have impelled many in our own times to commit the same awful iniquity. Chief among them was wounded pride. Then, besides this, there was the conviction that Absalom’s cause was now hopelessly ruined … Perhaps also there was a mingling of remorse with those other emotions of pride. He had left a master who loved and valued him, and had transferred his services to one who, as he now discovered, had not the wisdom to appreciate his worth, but preferred the gaudy glitter of empty rhetoric to the substantial wisdom of unadorned speech. This contrast, thus forced upon him, might awaken his conscience to the value of the friendship which he had forfeited when he turned against David, until remorse and shame overwhelmed him.—Tr.]

[2 Samuel 17:5. It was not unwise in Absalom to seek the advice of another experienced counsellor also (Proverbs 24:6); his fault was that he did not know which advice to follow, and was misled by high-sounding and flattering words. In choosing counsellors, and in judging of their counsel, lies great part of the wisdom of life.—Boldness is often true prudence; and “delays are dangerous.”

2 Samuel 17:14. Hushai’s treacherous craft and Absalom’s silly vanity are overruled to the accomplishment of the Lord’s purpose. Few things are so consoling as the frequency with which we perceive how God brings good out of evil; and doubtless this is often true where we do not yet perceive it (Psalms 76:10; Isaiah 13:7).

2 Samuel 17:23. Ahithophel 1) A model of worldly wisdom (2 Samuel 16:23). Excellence of his advice to Absalom (2 Samuel 16:21; 2 Samuel 17:1-3). 2) An example of worldly wisdom failing because it ignores God (2 Samuel 17:14; Psalms 14:1). 3) A suicide; a) probable causes; b) folly and guilt.—Tr.]


[4][2 Samuel 16:15. This phrase, in which the “all the people” is put in apposition with “men of Israel” (not: “all the people of the men of Israel.” as Erdmann renders), is peculiar, and is variously changed by the versions: Sept.: “all the men of Israel;” Syr., Arab.: “all the people that were with him, and all Israel;” Vulg.: “all his people.” Sept. and Vulg. may have omitted half the expression for simplicity (and they retain different halves), and the Heb. text itself may be a duplet, arisen from a marginal explanation. Thenius: “Instead of these words (אִישׁ יִשְׂרָאֵל) MS. Cantab. 1 has אֲשֶׁר אִתּוֹ (added by Syr. and Arab.), which came from the fact that in some MS. that was copied, the words א׳ ישׂ׳ (men of Israel) stood under the אֲשֶׁר אִתּוֹ (that were with him) of the preceding verse (Kennicott, sup. rat. text. Heb., 449).”—Tr.]

[5][2 Samuel 16:16. Sept.: ἀρχιεταῖρος (as above 2 Samuel 15:32) = ’Αρχὶ ἑταῖρος.—Hushai’s address to Absalom is literally: “live the king! live the king!” given once only in Sept. and Arabic.—Tr.]

[6][2 Samuel 16:18. Thenius and Erdmann render: “Not (i. e. I go not with David), because,” etc. But it is not likely that Hushai would make his negation with one word, and usage establishes the sense of the phrase given in Eng. A. V.: “nay, but,” or, “nay, for,” see Ges. Lex. s. v. לֹא 2.—The Kethib לֹא in this verse is approved by De Rossi against the Qeri לוֹ, which seems to be adopted by all the versions, even by Syriac and Arab., which make the sentence interrogative. The Kethib (לא) would be interrogative, and would require a preposition before אֲשֶׁר.—Tr.]

[7][2 Samuel 16:19. Arab.: “And ’tis not my business to be forever the servant of one man;” Syr.: “whose servant I shall be is not in my power.” Instead of בנו Syr. had ידי (אידי), which Arab. read as אחד.—Tr.]

[8][2 Samuel 16:20. This Dativus commodi (לכם) cannot be here given well in English. The phrase: “give ye you counsel,” is awkward, and in “give you counsel” the pronoun would be understood as Nominative.—Tr.]

[9][2 Samuel 16:21. The verb means: “to be in bad odor.” The אֵת is the Prep. “with,” not the sign of the Accus., as Sept. and Vulg. take it. Chald paraphrases: “that thou art stirred up against thy father.” Syr. and Arab. explain: “that thou hast gone in to the concubines of thy father.” Josephus interprets: “the people will believe that a reconciliation with thy father is impossible.”—Tr.]

[10][2 Samuel 17:1. Or: “I will now choose … …and will arise.” Sept. and Vulg.: “I will now choose me.” Arab.: “choose thou … and let them go forth to seek David.”—Tr.]

[11][2 Samuel 17:3. So Erdmann, Cahen, Wordsworth, Bib.-Com. Various other renderings are discussed by Erdmann in the Exposition. In addition to what he says it may be mentioned that Chald. renders nearly (as to the sense) as Eng. A. V.: “they will all return when the man that thou seekest is killed,” = “as the return of all is [the killing of] the man,” etc. (so Cahen). Syr.: “as if all the men that thou seekest returned,” as if reading כָּל־תָאִישׁ; so Philippson: “at the return of all the men thou seekest.” The translations proposed all either do violence to the text, or fail to suit the connection and give a good sense, or require a bold insertion (as of the phrase: “the killing of” in Chald. and Eng. A. V.).—Tr.]

[12][2 Samuel 17:6. Eng. A. V. renders according to the accents, and so Erdmann; but it is better (with Vulg., Cahen, Wellhausen) to take the sentence as a double question. Sept. inserts וְ (εἰ δὲ μή), which may easily have fallen out (from the preceding ו), and is almost necessary for the rendering of Eng. A. V. It is found in some MSS. and EDD.—Instead of the more usual לֹא, we here have אַיִן, literally: “is there not” = “is our doing (according to Ahithophel’s counsel) not?”—Tr.]

[13][2 Samuel 17:7. פַּעַם, the numeral, not the simple substantive “time” (עֵת). Sept.: τὸ ἅπαξ τοῦτο; Vulg.: hac vice; Cahen: cette fois; Erdmann: dieses Mal.—Tr.]

[14][2 Samuel 17:8. Sept. here inserts: καὶ ὡς ὗς τραχεῖα ἐν τῶ πεδἰῳ, “and as a fierce sow in the plain,” which addition is adopted by Ewald, Thenius and Böttcher on the ground of its appropriate poetic character, and as not likely to have been inserted by the Greek translator. To this Wellhausen replies that the two words ἀγρῶ and πεδίῳ of the Greek point to the same Heb. word (שדה), making the double figure improbable, and further that an Israelite would naturally think of the hog only as an unclean animal, and would not put it alongside of the bear.—Tr.]

[15][2 Samuel 17:9. The word “place” is here used in the sense of “locality” (Bib.-Com.) or “camping-place” in distinction from the “ravine” or “cleft,” not as a mere adverb, see 2 Samuel 17:12.—Instead of אַחַד some MSS. and EDD. have אחת, and Wellhausen remarks that the two numerals here seem to have changed places.—Tr.]

[16][2 Samuel 17:9. Or: “when he falls on them at the first” (so Erdmann and Sept.], and some would therefore supply the personal suffix וֹ to the Infinitive: but the present text permits either rendering, and that of Eng. A. V. seems to agree better with the context.—Tr.]

[17][2 Samuel 17:11. Sept.: “Thus I counsel,” ὂτι οὕτως συμβουλεύων ἐγὼ συνεβούλευσα = כִּי כֹה יָעץ יָעַצְתִּי, preferred by Wellhausen, on the ground that the similar words might easily have fallen out. The fullness of the expression would also be in Hushai’s manner.—Some MSS. read: “as the sand on the shore (שפת) of the sea,” an expansion of the original.—Böttcher’s objection to the last word in this verse, קְרָב, “battle,” is that it elsewhere occurs only in poetry (Ps., Job, Eccles., Zech.), and he proposes בְּקִרְבּוֹ, “in their midst.” This reading is strongly supported by the fact that all the versions have it (Chald.: “at the head of them all”), and is in itself more congruous with the general context; against it is Hushai’s inclination to use pompous and unusual words.—Tr.]

[18][2 Samuel 17:12. “On the face of the ground” in some MSS. and EDD., a scribal expansion, as in the preceding verse.—Tr.]

[19][2 Samuel 17:13. Vulg., Thenius, Philippson, Erdmann render: “all Israel shall lay ropes at (= about) that city,” on the ground that pulling a city stone by stone into the brook by ropes was an unheard of and impossible thing (Bp. Patrick also suggests the same difficulty). But Hushai seems purposely to put his proposal in the most recklessly exaggerated form, as an appeal to Absalom’s vanity, and says expressly that the city will be drawn into the brook. This meaning will be gotten if we render the Hiphil (הִשִּׂיאוּ): “lay to, apply to,” and the text shows a double Accusative. The Hiphil may also mean: “cause to bring.” Wellhausen remarks that we should here expect הֵשִׂימוּ, which is, however, according to the above view, not necessary.—Tr.]

[20][2 Samuel 17:14. Literally: “to,” אֶל. All the versions and some MSS. and Edd. have עַל, “upon.”—The Pisqa in this verse is wanting in some MSS.; its effect is merely partially to isolate and bring out in relief the succeeding solemn statement.—Tr.]

[21][2 Samuel 17:16. Eng. A. V. again adopts the Qeri, which is found in many MSS. and EDD. (De Rossi) and in all the versions. Kethib is here preferred as in 2 Samuel 15:28, which see.—The “speedily” of Eng. A. V. is meant as translation of the Infinitive Absolute, but introduces too different a substantive idea from that of the verb (עבר); the sense is rather: “actually pass over.” The rendering: “lest the king be swallowed up” (so Philippson, Wellhausen) seems to be the best; the phrase is discussed by Erdmann, who adopts the translation: “lest it (transit over the river) be swallowed up (= snatched away).”—Tr.]

[22][2 Samuel 17:17. Eng. A V. here inverts the order of the Heb, in order to avoid the contradiction of making the statement: “they might not be seen to enter the city,” follow the statement that they “had gone to tell the king” (rendering the verb ילכוּ as Aorist). Erdmann says that this last statement is anticipatory. But the Imperfect is here better taken in the future sense: “and they were to go and tell,” which avoids the somewhat hard anticipation. Philippson renders not substantially differently: “the maid told them that they were to go,” etc.—Tr.]

[23][2 Samuel 17:20. The word מִיכל is as yet unexplained. Rashi says that its meaning can only be inferred from the context. Sept.: μικρόν, “little” (perhaps from similarity of sound); Chald. takes the phrase as meaning “the Jordan.” Syriac renders: “hence,” as if it were מִן־כֹּה or מִפֹּה; Arab. omits it; Vulg.: “having tasted a little water,” after the Sept. J. D. Michaelis and Gesenius compare Arab. makil, “a dry pit,” mimkal, “a pit containing water,” but this does not agree with the form of the Heb. word. Others assume a root יכל (Fürst takes this stem to mean “contain,” whence our word = “water-ditch”). Wellhausen would drop מיכל from the text, or supply some such word as דּרך: “the way of the water.”—Tr.]

[24]“And the counsel of Ahithophel … days”—the construction is interrupted, and completes itself in the כַּאֲשֶׁר ... כֵּן. Qeri and all versions supply אּישׁ after יִשְׁאַל; but, if one is not disposed to accept this as necessary (Keil), the verb may be taken impersonally.

[41] הַכַּלָּה אִישׁ for הַכֹּל הָאִישׁ [with interpolation of “only the life of one man” (Keil). The Sept. text was בְּשׁוּב הַבַּלָה לְאִישָׂהּ אַךְ נֶפֶשׁ אִישׂ אֶחַד אַתָּה מְבַקִּשׁ. It is suggested that the three words following הַכַּלָּה may have fallen out, because the eye of the scribe passed to the following אִישׁ, to which the ה in כלה was then prefixed, and the אחד made into אשר. This is possible, but the sense of the Sept. rendering is doubtful.—Tr.]

[42]The גַם־הוּא strengthens the suffix in פִּיו. Ewald, § 311 a.

[43] פְּחָתּים, natural hiding-places, מִקוֹמות, artificially strong positions; in these David would pass the night.

[44]So כּי after a negation, expressed or understood, Ges. § 155, 1, e—פָּנֶיךָ = “thy person, thyself,” the Plu. noun here accompanied by a Plu. Particip,—Instead of בַּקְרָב Thenius would read בְּקִרְבָּם.

[45]The fem. numeral (though the subst. is found as fem. in Genesis 18:24; Job 20:9) is probably (since the masc. is used in 2 Samuel 17:9) to be regarded as scribal error for masc. (Maurer).

[46]Taking נַחְנוּ = “we,” as in Genesis 42:11; Exodus 16:7-8; Numbers 32:32; Lamentations 3:42.

[47] נַחְנוּ as 1 plu. Perf. Qal of נוּחַ, Sept. (παρεμβαλοῦμεν), Syr., Arab.

[48] חָסִיל or חָסִל for הַטָּל.

[49] צוּר = צְרוּר.—On the masc. אֹתוֹ referring to the fem. עִיר see Ew. § 174, 6 a.

[50][Sept. (Alex.): “lest one swallow up the king;” Vulg.: “lest the king be swallowed up;” Syr.: “lest thou perish;” Chald.: “lest profit be gotten front the king,” i. e., lest he be betrayed (Walton’s Polyg. incorrectly: “lest the king perish”).—Tr.]

[51] מִיכַל הַמָּיִם a ἅπ. λεγ. = a small brook in the vicinity. [See “Text. and Gram.”—Tr.]

[52][There is an old opinion (see Patrick in loco) that Ahithophel died of quinsy brought on by violent passions, grief, chagrin, hatred, and Then. (Comm. in loco) mentions that the same view (as to the disease) is maintained by Steuber (1741). In Dryden’s “Absalom and Ahithophel” the latter personage represents the Earl of Shaftesbury.—Tr.]

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 16". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/2-samuel-16.html. 1857-84.
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