Bible Commentaries
2 Samuel 3

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

Verses 1-6


2 Samuel 2:1 to 2 Samuel 3:6

I. David anointed King over Judah—dwells in Hebron. 2 Samuel 2:1-7

1And it came to pass after this, that David inquired of the Lord [Jehovah], saying, Shall I go up into any [one] of the cities of Judah? And the Lord [Jehovah] said unto him, Go up. And David said, Whither shall I go up? And he said, 2Unto Hebron. So [And] David went up thither, and his two wives also, Ahinoam. the Jezreelitess and Abigail, Nabal’s wife [the wife of Nabal] the Carmelite.1. 3And his2 men that were with him did David bring up, every man with his household; and they dwelt in the cities of Hebron. 4And the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah.

And they told David, saying, That the men of Jabesh-Gilead were they3 that buried Saul. 5And David sent messengers unto the men of Jabesh-Gilead, and said unto them, Blessed be ye of the Lord [Jehovah] that ye have showed this 6kindness unto your lord, even [om. even] unto Saul, and have buried him. And now, the Lord [Jehovah] show [do] kindness and truth unto you; and I also will 7[om. will]4 requite [do] you this kindness, because ye have done this thing. Therefore [And] now, let your hands be strengthened [strong], and be ye valiant; for your master [lord] Saul is dead, and also [ins. me] the house of Judah have [have the house, etc.] anointed me [om. me] king over them.

II. Ishbosheth’s anti-godly Elevation to the Throne of all Israel through Abner, and the consequent long Contest between the House of Saul and the House of David 2 Samuel 2:8 to 2 Samuel 3:6.

8But [And] Abner, the son of Ner, captain of Saul’s host, took Ishbosheth the son of Saul, and brought him over to Mahanaim, 9And made him king over [for]5 Gilead and over [for] the Ashurites and over [for] Jezreel, and over Ephraim and 10over Benjamin and over all Israel. Ishbosheth, Saul’s son, was forty years old when he began to reign over Israel, and reigned two years; but6 the house of Judah followed David.7 11And the time that David was king in Hebron over the house of Judah was seven years and six months. 12And Abner the son of Ner, and the servants of Ishbosheth the son of Saul went out from Mahanaim to Gibeon. 13And Joab the son of Zeruiah and the servants of David went out; and [ins. they] met together8 by the pool of Gibeon; and they sat down, the one [these] on the one 14side of the pool, and the other [those] on the other side of the pool. And Abner said to Joab, Let the young men now [om. now] arise and play before us. And Joab said, Let them arise. 15Then there arose and went over by number twelve of Benjamin, which [who] pertained9 to Ishbosheth, the son of Saul, and twelve of the servants of David. 16And they caught every one his fellow by the head, and thrust10 his sword into his fellow’s side, so they fell [and fell] down dead together; wherefore [and] that place was called Helkath-hazzurim,11 which is in Gibeon. 17And there was a very sore battle that day, and Abner was beaten, and the men of Israel, before the servants of David.

18And there were three sons of Zeruiah there, Joab and Abishai and Asahel; and Asahel was as light of foot as a wild roe [gazelle]. 19And Asahel pursued after Abner, and in going he turned not [he turned not to go] to the right hand nor to 20the left from following Abner. Then [And] Abner looked behind him and said, Art thou Asahel? And he answered [said], I am. 21And Abner said to him, Turn thee aside to thy right hand or to thy left, and lay thee hold on one of the young men, and take thee his armor. But Asahel would not turn aside from following of [om of] him. 22And Abner said again to Asahel, Turn thee aside from following me; wherefore should I smite thee to the ground? how then should I hold up 23my face to Joab thy brother? Howbeit [And] he refused to turn aside; wherefore [and] Abner with the hinder end of the spear smote him under the fifth rib [in the abdomen],12 that [and] the spear came out behind him, and he fell down there and died in the same place [on the spot]; and it came to pass that as many as came to the place where Asahel fell down and died stood still.

24Joab also [And Joab] and Abishai pursued after Abner; and the sun went down when they were come [and they came] to the hill of Ammah, that lieth before Giah13 by the way of the wilderness of Gibeon. 25And the children of Benjamin gathered themselves together after Abner, and became one troop, and stood on the 26top of an hill. Then [And] Abner called to Joab and said, Shall the sword devour forever? knowest thou not that it will be bitterness in the latter end? how long shall it be then, ere thou bid the people return from following their brethren? 27And Joab said, As God liveth, unless thou hadst spoken, surely [om. surely] then14 28in the morning the people had gone up every one from following his brother. So [And] Joab blew a trumpet, and all the people stood still, and pursued after Israel no more, neither fought they any more. 29And Abner and his men walked all that night through the plain, and passed over Jordan, and went through all 30[ins. the] Bithron, and they [om. they] came to Mahanaim. And Joab returned from following Abner; and when [om. when] he had [om. had] gathered all the people together, [ins. and] there lacked of David’s servants nineteen men and Asahel. 31But [And] the servants of David had smitten of Benjamin and of Abner’s men, so that15 three hundred and three-score men died. 32And they took up Asahel and buried him in the sepulchre of his father which was in Bethlehem.16 And Joab and his men went all night, and they [om. they] came to Hebron at break of day.

2 Samuel 3:1 Now [And] there was long war between the house of Saul and the house of David; but [and] David waxed stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul waxed weaker and weaker. 2And unto David were sons born17 in Hebron; and his first-born was Amnon, of Ahinoam the Jezreelitess; 3And his second, Chileab, of Abigail, the wife of Nabal the Carmelite; and the third, Absalom the son of Maacah the daughter of Talmai king of Geshur; 4And the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; and the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital; 5And the sixth, Ithream, by Eglah David’s wife. These were born to David in Hebron. And it came to pass, while there was war between the house of Saul and the house of David, that Abner made himself strong for the house of Saul.


I. 2 Samuel 2:1-7. David’s elevation to the throne of Judah, and his residence in Hebron.

2 Samuel 2:1. The inquiry of the Lord was made through Urim and Thummim, comp. 1 Samuel 23:2; 1 Samuel 23:10 sq.; 1 Samuel 30:7-8 sq. The high-priest Abiathar with the Ephod was with David, 1 Sam. 22:30; 2 Samuel 23:6. At this decisive turning-point of his unquiet life he wished to know the will of the Lord. The “after this” refers to all that is narrated in 2 Samuel 1:0. and 1 Samuel 31:0. The motive for inquiring of the Lord is thereby at the same time indicated. He saw that the promise of the kingdom was now to be fulfilled to him. As he could no longer remain in the land of the Philistines, but must return to his country, and as the northern part of the land was held by the Philistines, the return to the territory of his own tribe was most natural; for there, where he had a long time found refuge (1 Samuel 22:5), he might count on a large following (1 Samuel 30:26 sq.) and firm support and protection against the remains of Saul’s army under Abner. To the first question he receives from the Lord the definite answer that he is to return to Judah. To the second question: “Whither?” the answer is: “To Hebron.” This city, situated in a valley (Genesis 37:14) in the most mountainous, and therefore the safest part of Judah, held to be a holy place from the recollections of the Patriarchal time, one of the principal places in the Tribe of Judah, an ancient royal city and a priestly city (Joshua 12:10; Joshua 21:11), must now have had for David a very special importance, which appeared all the clearer from the divine decision and in respect to his future life became indubitable; here now was to be fulfilled the old Patriarchal promise (Genesis 49:8 sq.), the establishment of the theocratic kingdom in the Tribe of Judah.

2 Samuel 2:2 sq. In accordance with the will and direction of his God he went thither with his whole family. But also the men that were with him (comp. 1 Samuel 27:2). he led thither into the cities of Hebron, that is, the places that belonged to the district of Hebron;18 every man with his house, a complete and permanent colonization of David’s entire following took place, the foundation of David’s royal authority, which was established with its seat in Hebron. For it is forthwith declared in 2 Samuel 2:4 a that the “men of Judah,” that is, the elders as the representatives of the Tribe anointed him king over the house (the tribe) of Judah. See 2 Samuel 5:3, where the elders of all Israel come to make him king over the whole nation. The first anointment received from Samuel (1 Samuel 17:0.) denoted the divine consecration to the royal office; this second one, performed by the Elders of Judah, was the public solemn installation of David (based on that anointment) into this office. Comp. Saul’s first anointment by Samuel (1 Samuel 10:1) and his subsequent public inauguration as king by the Elders, 1Sa 10:24; 1 Samuel 11:15.—So two anointments of Solomon are described, 1 Chronicles 23:1 sq.; 1 Chronicles 29:22. The anointing of David was perhaps hastened because Abner’s purpose (2 Samuel 2:8 sq.) was already known. [On the motives of the Tribe of Judah in making David their king see Chandler’s “Life of David,” Bk. II., 2 Samuel 30.—Tr].

2 Samuel 2:4-7. David’s first act as king. The message to the Jabeshites with thanks for their burial of Saul and the announcement of his anointing as king.—And they told David, saying (Luther: And when it was told David that) the men of Jabesh are they that buried Saul. (The form) of this sentence would certainly be somewhat “hard and ill-constructed” (Then.), but for the obvious pre-supposition that David, having heard of and deeply lamented Saul’s death on the battle-field, inquired whether the body of the “Anointed of the Lord” had been rescued from the hands of the uncircumcised and buried in the sacred soil of his native land. S. Schmid well remarks of this explanation (which Tremellius has) that “it accords with David’s piety.” It is thus natural to suppose that David, now by God’s providence king in Saul’s stead, in consequence of the afflicting news that had wrung from him such a lament, purposes to give a becoming royal burial to the man whose person had always been sacred to him, and whose heroic greatness and virtues he had so passionately celebrated. There is therefore no need for the bold emendation of Thenius (after Vulg. and Sept.), who would read simply: “it was told David that the men of Jabesh buried Saul.”19—On the burial by the faithful and grateful Jabeshites of the bodies of Saul and his sons brought away from Bethshean, see 1 Samuel 31:11 sq.

2 Samuel 2:5. The message to the Jabeshites was couched in the tone or royal authority. It conveys 1) a grateful invocation of blessing for the noble deed of love that they have wrought’ on Saul by burying him; the phrase “your lord” indicates that they had herein acted as became their relation to Saul as their king and lord.

2 Samuel 2:6. And now the Lord do to you kindness and truth.—This is the expansion of the wish of blessing in 2 Samuel 2:5. The first noun (חֶסֶר), favor, kindness is not merely pardoning grace (Keil), but in general the gracious love that God shows His people on the ground of His covenant with them. The second (אֱמֶת), truth is the trustworthiness and attestation of all His promises. David wishes them all exhibitions of the love and faithfulness of the Lord for the faithful love which they showed king Saul even in his death.—And I also do you this good, because ye have done this thing; the good that he does them is not merely this wish for the divine blessing (Keil), or therewith a gift of honor (Bunsen), but this honorable royal embassy with expression of thanks and invocation of blessing. The rendering: “And I also wish to show you such kindness” (S. Schmid, Clericus, De Wette) gives no appropriate sense, whether the comparison be referred to God’s goodness or to the deed of the Jabeshites. Thenius excellently: “greeting you with blessing by my ambassadors.”—[Eng. A. V., Patrick and Philippson give the incorrect future rendering.—Tr.]

2 Samuel 2:7 adds 2) encouragement and exhortation: let your hands be strong means not: be consoled! but: “be of strong courage.” And be sons of power [valiant], that is, show yourselves brave men and unappalled. [The phrase means in general “men of force,” the context showing whether the force intended is moral, intellectual or physical. The word (חַיִל) is used of Ruth (Ruth 3:11) and of the “virtuous woman” in Proverbs 31:10, and elsewhere of warlike valor and of wealth. Bib. Com.: the opposite of “men of virtue” are “men of Belial,” that is, men of no force of character.—Tr.]—The ground (כִּי) of this exhortation is at the same time the explanation of its importance for the interests of David as anointed king. In the reason assigned he shows them not directly, but indirectly that he has been made king of Judah, their king Saul being dead. But his exhortation to valor and courage is intelligible only on the supposition that he gives them to understand that for them also he has taken Saul’s place as king, and that they must valiantly espouse and defend his cause against his enemies, the party of Saul under the lead of Abner. It is not clear whether or not Ishbosheth had at this time been already set up as king by Abner. But from 2 Samuel 2:9 (which states that Gilead was one of the districts gained by Abner for Ishbosheth) it is evident that David, seeing Abner’s movement thither (comp. 1 Samuel 26:7), must have been concerned to secure to himself the capital city [Jabesh] of this province (Joseph., Ant. VI. 5, 1). Whether he succeeded in this is questionable. His demand that it should recognize him as king was justly founded on his divine call to be king over the whole people in Saul’s stead, comp. 2 Samuel 3:9-10. So certainly along with sincere gratitude “there was policy in this embassy” (Then.), but it was a thoroughly justifiable theocratic policy.

II. 2 Samuel 2:8 to 2 Samuel 3:6. Ishbosheth’s antigodly elevation to the throne of Israel by Abner and the thence resulting war.

2 Samuel 2:8. On Abner see 1 Samuel 14:50.—He had taken Ishbosheth the son of Saul, and brought him over to Mahanaim, that is, across the Jordan. Ishbosheth had probably taken part in the unfortunate battle of Gilboa, and as he survived, Abner his uncle saved him together with the force under his command in the flight across the Jordan (1 Samuel 31:7), in order to keep the kingdom in the house of Saul. This retreat across the Jordan passed from Bethshean or Mount Gilboa southeast into Gilead, where not the city Jabesh (as we might expect from the foregoing), but Mahanaim (that is, “two camps,” Genesis 32:2) became the abode of Ishbosheth. In the division of the land this place was assigned to the Tribe of Gad, and lay on the border between it and the half-tribe of Manasseh (Joshua 13:26; Joshua 13:30) on the Jabbok [the present Wady Zerqa]. It was afterwards given to the Levites, Joshua 21:38. At a later period David found refuge there in his flight from Absalom, 2 Samuel 17:24.—Ishbosheth according to 1 Chronicles 8:33; 1 Chronicles 9:39, was Saul’s fourth son, while in 1 Samuel 14:49 only three are named, who also fell with him in the battle, 1 Samuel 31:2. But in Chronicles he is called Eshbaal, that is, “Fire of Baal” [or “man of Baal.”—Tr.]. For the name of the god Baal in Hosea 9:10; Jeremiah 3:24, is put as equivalent bosheth [shame] in order to indicate the reproach and shame of idol-worship (comp. Isaiah 42:17; Isaiah 45:16). So for Gideon’s surname Jerubbaal (Judges 6:32; Judges 8:35) we find Jerubbesheth (2 Samuel 11:21). Similarly the name Eshbaal was changed into Ishbosheth= “man of shame or disgrace.” Ewald’s supposition that bosheth was originally used in a good senses= “reverence, awe,” is without foundation, and is in opposition to the fact that the word occurs only in a bad sense. It is therefore a natural conjecture that the change of Eshbaal to Ishbosheth had reference to the shame and disgrace that befell Saul’s house in the person of this his last son, Psalms 35:26 being thus fulfilled.—[It seems more probable that the name Baal = lord was in early times given to the God of Israel, and proper names were formed from it, as Eshbaal or Ishbaal = man of the lord; afterwards when the worship of the false Baal was introduced into Israel, the change above-described was made. Possibly this change was made by later editors and scribes, and the original form was retained in the Book of Chronicles because this book was less read than the prophetic historical books.—Tr.]—That Ishbosheth was a weak, characterless tool in the hand of Abner for the maintenance of the interests of the fallen royal house is already intimated in the words: And Abner took Ishbosheth and carried him over.—Mahanaim was fitted by its position to be a refuge for Ishbosheth and the remains of the defeated army.

2 Samuel 2:9. And made him king, as being in his view the legitimate heir to Saul’s royal throne. Then follows the statement of the districts over which Abner extended Ishbosheth’s authority: he made him king for Gilead, in which was the central point of his dominion, Mahanaim, whence consequently the territory of the two and a half east-jordanic tribes in the first place, which in contrast with the west-jordanic Canaan (Joshua 22:9; Joshua 22:13; Joshua 22:15; Joshua 22:32; Judges 5:17; Judges 20:1) is put as equivalent to Gilead, was claimed for Ishbosheth. The change of prepositions, three times “to, for” (אֶל), and three times “over” (עַל), is neglected by all the versions, which take the first as equivalent to the second. The difference, however, is to be retained; see Ew., § 217; and c. The former, as sign of movement “to” [occurring in the Hebrew text with Gilead, the Ashurites and Jezreel], indicates those regions over which Abner gradually extended Ishbosheth’s authority, being obliged to wrest them from the Philistines by continued wars; for it cannot be doubted that the Philistines followed the flying Israelites across the Jordan, and that after the battle of Gilboa the districts of the Ashurites and Jezreel remained securely in their possession. It is obvious that the “Ashurites” here cannot be the Arabian tribe of Asshurim in Genesis 25:3 (Maur.) nor the Assyrians. The Chald. has “over the tribe of Asher;” but, apart from the in that case strange insertion of the Article (Then.), this explanation does not accord with the position of the other districts here mentioned, according to which the territory of Asher must have embraced also that of Zebulon and Naphtali, which is not supposable. According to the view of Bachienne cited by Keil the reference is to the city Asher (Joshua 17:7) with its territory, since this city lay south-east of Jezreel, and Abner might well from Gilead have first subjected this region to Ishbosheth. But in that case (Keil) no reason appears why the name of the inhabitants (Ashurites) is given instead of that of the city (Asher), and the mention of a city among districts is improbable. The best way out of the difficulty is to adopt the reading “Geshurites” found in Vulg., Syr. and Ar., and approved by Then., Winer (R. W. I. 414) and Ewald. This misreading might easily have gotten into the text. This Geshur cannot, however, be the district whose inhabitants, “Geshurim” = “bridgemen,” appear in the south of Palestine in connection with Philistia (Joshua 13:2), and are mentioned along with Girzites and Amalekites (1 Samuel 27:8); nor can it be the little kingdom of Geshur which belonged to Syria (2 Samuel 15:8), and there formed an independent State (2Sa 3:3; 2 Samuel 13:37; 2 Samuel 14:23). From this latter is to be distinguished (against Keil) a district of the same name which (Deuteronomy 3:14 sq.; Joshua 12:5 sq.) with the region of the Maachathites on the west formed the border of the kingdom of Bashan and at the same time touched Gilead. But the Maachathites dwelt on the southwestern declivity of Hermon, at the sources of the Jordan (so Jerome). We shall therefore have to look for the Geshurites (whose district is named also in Joshua 13:11 along with both Gilead and Hermon) together with the Maachathites south of Hermon in the upper Jordan-region on both sides of the river. That this district is to be distinguished from the independent “kingdom” of Geshur in Syria is clear also from Joshua 13:13 : “ the children of Israel drove not out the Geshurites and the Maachathites, and Geshur and Maachath have dwelt among Israel to this day,” whence it appears that it belonged to the Israelitish territory. The name Geshur (Bridgeland) it doubtless received from the numerous crossings that connected the two banks of the Jordan (Winer, Thenius).—And for Jezreel—this district called after the city of the same name, the scene of the great battle in which Israel succumbed to the Philistines, was the great fruitful plain (τὸ μέγαπεδίον, 1Ma 12:49; Jos., Ant. XV. 1, 22 u. s.) whose recovery must have particularly occupied Abner.—To these three great regions, which are mentioned in geographical order, are added, going from north to south (with the preposition עַל “over”), the tribe-territories of Ephraim and Benjamin.—He made him king over Ephraim and Benjamin, these tribes, which had not yet been conquered by the Philistines, holding no doubt to the House of Saul.—And over all (the rest of) Israel, that is, over all that country which afterwards formed the kingdom of Israel (Then.).

2 Samuel 2:10-11. Duration of Ishbosheth’s reign over Israel and of David’s in Hebron.—Forty years old was Ishbosheth when he became king over Israel.—The words: over Israel connect themselves with and take up the closing words of 2 Samuel 2:9 : “and over all Israel.” The following: and he reigned two years, might therefore be understood of his reign over all Israel excluding Judah, the words “over Israel” being naturally supplied from the context. Abner, in fact, on account of the wars necessary to conquer from the Philistines at least the three regions mentioned in 2 Samuel 2:9, could only gradually establish Ishbosheth’s royal authority, and could not make him king over all Israel till after the clearing of those districts. It may well be supposed that this reconquering process took five and a half years. This explanation (Ewald, Bunsen, Keil) sets aside the seeming discrepancy that arises when we compare the statements that Ishbosheth was king two years, and that David reigned in Hebron over Judah seven years and six months; and it yet remains beyond doubt that Ishbosheth’s elevation to the throne was nearly synchronous with David’s anointment as king over Judah, and his murder (2 Samuel 4:0), up to which he was king, with the anointing of David as king over all Israel. Ishbosheth occupied the throne as long as David was king over Judah; but he was only two years king over Israel, which he could really become only after the gradual expulsion of the Philistines. However, instead of this explanation the reading of Thenius (which, it must be confessed, does some violence to the syntax) commends itself as better: he takes the passage from “but the house of Judah” to the end of 2 Samuel 2:11 as parenthesis, and renders: and when he had reigned two years (only the house of Judah followed David, and the time that David was king in Hebron over the house of Judah was seven years and six months), then went out Abner, etc. The harmonistic attempt of S. Schmid, Cler. and others who hold that David reigned two years over Judah till the murder of Ishbosheth and then further five and a half years over Israel in Hebron till the conquest of Jerusalem, is in direct contradiction with the words (2 Samuel 2:11): David reigned over Judah seven years and six months. Equally untenable is the view that the two years of Ishbosheth’s reign were the time of quiet till the outbreak of the war with David, during which Abner played the chief part (Grotius)—for Ishbosheth was king till his murder after Abner’s death.—[Wellhausen connects 2 Samuel 2:10 b with 2 Samuel 2:9, and throws out 10 a as chronologically wrong, and 2 Samuel 2:11 as interrupting the narrative. It seems probable that 10 a and 11 are parenthetical chronological statements; but they are not on that account to be rejected; they may be regarded as explanatory insertions by the editor of the book. As to the chronology, there is no objection to be made to 2 Samuel 2:11, which is well supported (1 Kings 2:11), and the two years of 2 Samuel 2:10 is reasonably explained by Ewald as above stated by Erdmann, or if the numeral be incorrect, this merely leaves doubtful the duration of Ishbosheth’s reign (as Saul’s in 1 Samuel 13:1), and does not invalidate the clause. Exception is, however, specially taken to Ishbosheth’s age as here given, forty. The context. it is said, represents him as a youth or child, and moreover, as probably Saul’s youngest son, he must have been several years younger than Jonathan, who was the oldest son, and Jonathan seems to have been nearly of the same age with David, about thirty, when he died. To this it may be answered that Ishbosheth need not have been much younger than Jonathan (especially if Saul had more than one wife), that Jonathan may have been twelve years older than David without bar to their friendship, that Jonathan may easily at the age of forty-two have left just one infant child (2 Samuel 4:4), and that Saul might have been a husband and a father at the age of twenty-one, and, dying a stout warrior at the age of sixty-three, have left a son of forty-two. There is no difficulty in these suppositions single or combined. But if the number forty be incorrect, this does not affect the genuineness of the clause. The editor thought it well to insert here these chronological statements at the beginning of the narrative of the war between the house of Saul and the house of David. It is quite possible, but by no means certain, that the numerals have been lost or corrupted by copyists. See “Text, and Gram.”—Tr.]

2 Samuel 2:12 sq. From 2 Samuel 2:12 on is related how Abner, after actually establishing Ishbosheth as king over Israel, begins the conflict against David in order to subject Judah also to Ishbosheth. He could not have undertaken this war, if he had not finished the war against the Philistines for the establishment of Ishbosheth’s authority over Israel, so that he knew that he was secure on that side. It is to be noted that David had at no time and in no way planned or begun hostilities against Ishbosheth. Rather he was forced into war by the latter through Abner. From Mahanaim, where Ishbosheth’s headquarters had hitherto been, Abner advanced with his army against David to Gibeon (the present Jib in the western part of Benjamin, five miles north of Jerusalem) in order thence to march southward on Hebron to attack David.—[Bib. Com.: To go out is a technical phrase for going out to war.—Tr.]

2 Samuel 2:13. Though David had no hostile designs against Ishbosheth, he was yet fully prepared against such a foreseen attack.—[Some hold less well that war was already going on between the two princes.—Tr.]—To Ishbosheth’s army under Abner he opposed a force under Joab. Joab, the son of David’s sister Zeruiah (1 Chronicles 2:16), had no doubt already, as his brother Abishai (who was with David during his persecution, as David’s family also, 1 Samuel 22:0, came to him for protection against Saul), had a military training with his uncle, and taken a prominent position among his warriors; else he would not now appear as the chief leader of David’s forces. In the roll of heroes in 2 Samuel 23:8 sq. his name is not given, probably because he already then stood above them all as General, as we may conjecture from 2Sa 23:18; 2 Samuel 23:24 (Vaihinger in Herzog VI. 712). As General-in-chief he appears in the official lists, 2Sa 8:16; 2 Samuel 20:13.—The two armies met at the pool of Gibeon, David having hastened to anticipate Abner’s attack on the territory of Judah, and to carry the war into Ishbosheth’s territory. The pool of Gibeon is the “great water” mentioned in Jeremiah 41:12; there is still in Jib (the ancient Gibeon) in a cave a copious spring [forming a large reservoir], and not far beneath [on the side of the hill] the remains of an open tank which Robinson (II. 353 sq. [Am. ed. 455 and ii. 256]) saw, one hundred and twenty feet long and one hundred feet wide, about equal to the pool of Hebron. Comp. Tobler, Topographie von Jerusalem II. 515 sq. [and Smith’s Bib. Dict., Art. Gibeon.—Tr.]. The armies encamped at this pool opposite one another, the one on this side, the other on that side.

2 Samuel 2:14-16. To avoid a bloody civil war and perhaps also to escape personal conflict with his near friend (2 Samuel 2:22) Joab, Abner proposes to Joab to decide the contest by a duel between individual warriors (“young men,” נְעָרִום, comp. 2 Samuel 2:21) put up on both sides. This word “play” (שִׁחֵק) is used of children in the street (Zechariah 8:5), of beasts in the sea (Psalms 104:26), and so here of warlike play, = to wrestle, but not to denote a game of arms for entertainment (Ew.), but a serious battle-play to decide the matter for both armies (comp. 1 Samuel 17:0) as the result (2 Samuel 2:16) shows.—Joab accepts the proposal immediately, a sign that it was agreeable to him. Twelve warriors from each side, the number probably derived from the number of the Tribes, meet in single combat on one side of the pool. The “went over” is to be understood of one party only, while the preceding arose refers to both.—[The “went over” refers from the wording to both parties; probably they met at some intermediate point.—Tr.]—And they seized every man the head of his fellow, that is, they rushed on one another, in order by the stunning seizure of the head the more quickly and thoroughly to finish the struggle. It is not necessary (Then. and Ew. after Sept.) to supply “his hand” after “man” (“they thrust each his hand on the head of his opponent”) in order to get a verb for “his sword” [Eng. A. V. inserts “thrust”]; there is no need to repeat the verb “seized,” for we may without forcing render: and his (every one’s) sword in the side of his opponent! The rapidity with which, at the same time with the seizure of the head, the sword entered the adversary’s side is vividly set forth by the absence of the verb, it being logically necessary to supply merely the word “was.”—And they fell together.—This result shows the embittered feeling of the young men, but also their military skill and training.—[Bp. Patrick understands that only the twelve Benjaminites were slain; but it was clearly a mutual slaughter, the twenty-four fell dead. Bib. Com. cites the strikingly similar combat of the Horatii and the Curiatii; as the Alban Mettius there urged the desirableness of avoiding bloodshed because the two people had in the Etruscans a common powerful enemy, so might Abner have here urged the same argument in reference to the Philistines (Livy I. 25).—The hair was often worn long in those days; but it was a custom also to cut the hair (and sometimes the beard) before going into battle, that the enemy might not have a hold thereby.—These single combats still occur among the Arabians.—Tr.]—The place (of combat) was called (by the people in consequence of this result).—Field of knives (or edges) (חֶלְקַת הַצֻּרִים). The narrative indicates that this name was connected immediately with what was peculiar in the occurrence, namely, the mutual synchronous slaughter by the edge of the sword, so that they fell down together. To this corresponds the meaning of צוּר, “knife, edge” (comp. Eng. knife), which is found also in Psalms 89:44, and is established from the ground-idea of the Arabic stem by Fleischer in Delitzsch’s Comm. on the Pss. in loco (2 vols., 1859–60). Thenius after the Sept. (τῶν ἐπιβούλων, “the plotters”) renders field of adversaries (drängerfeld, ח׳ הַצָּרִים); but this does not answer to the characteristic fact that occasioned the name, which was not the mutual attack, but the mutual slaughter with swords. Thenius’ objection to the rendering: “field of edges”—that it would apply to every place of combat—holds rather against his own translation. Ewald’s rendering: “field of the artful” (צָדִים) unwarrantably introduces the notion of “artifice” into the affair, and changes the Heb. text, which is supported by all the versions. Vulg.: ager robustorum, Aq., Sym.: κλῆρος τῶν στερεῶν, “field of the strong,” a rendering derived from the signification “rock” (which also belongs to the Heb. word), as if the rock-like firmness of the combatants (which, however, is not specially mentioned in the narrative) were here indicated.—[Bishop Patrick follows the Vulg. in the translation of this name, Syr., Philippson, Bib. Com. (which, however, also suggests “field of sides,” צִדִּים) give it as Erdmann. Chald. has “possession of the slain.”—Tr.]

2 Samuel 2:17-25. In consequence of the undecisive result of the single combat, a general and fierce battle between the two armies, which issues in the defeat and flight of Abner. To the bitterness of the bloody duel answers the violence of the general conflict that arose the same day, which is described as “very sore” (2 Samuel 2:17). Its result, in allusion to the single combat, which had not proved decisive, is straightway given: Abner and his army were beaten.—In 2 Samuel 2:18-23 we have a very vivid and interesting description of a special battle-scene or rather pursuit. In this scene the three nephews of David come forward, Joab, Abishai (comp. 1 Samuel 26:6 with 2Sa 16:9; 2 Samuel 18:2; 2 Samuel 21:17; 2 Samuel 23:18) and Asahel, who are expressly described as sons of Zeruiah (as Joab in 2 Samuel 2:13) in order to indicate the prominent part taken in this battle by the family of David. 2 Samuel 2:18. Asahel, distinguished for agility and swiftness, and therefore compared to a “gazelle in the field” [Eng. A. V.: wild roe], see Proverbs 6:5.

2 Samuel 2:19. He pursues Abner in order by conquering the General to strike the decisive blow that must end the battle.—He turned not to the right hand nor to the left from following Abner, pressed hard and straight on him.

2 Samuel 2:20. Asahel was doubtless already known to Abner, comp. 2 Samuel 2:22. Abner’s speaking supposes that Asahel had almost overtaken him, and might now infer from his silence that he would surrender himself prisoner.

2 Samuel 2:21. Abner’s address to Asahel is based on the supposition that the latter is anxious only for the glory of making a prisoner and for booty.—Take his armor,20 that is, after having slain him.—[Such was the custom; see Homer for example.—Tr.]

2 Samuel 2:22. Abner speaks again, since Asahel will not desist from the pursuit. He gives as reason for his exhortation that he wishes to spare Asahel’s life, and not, by slaying him, make a deadly enemy of his brother Joab, with whom, therefore, he must previously have stood in friendly relations (Thenius). “From regard and former friendship to Joab, he was unwilling to kill the young hero” (Keil), [who was also “probably but a stripling and no fit antagonist for so great a warrior” (Bib.-Com.).—Tr.]—How should I lift up my face? that is, present myself with a good conscience before him. [Bp. Patrick not so well: “because Joab was a fierce man, and would study revenge.”—Tr.]

2 Samuel 2:23. Asahel, however, did not desist from pressing on Abner, who, not wishing to kill him, was compelled to defend himself, and so, not with the front part of the spear, which was designed for war, but with the hinder part, which was stuck into the ground (1 Samuel 26:7), and therefore no doubt was furnished with a sharp edge (perhaps of metal) smote him in the abdomen so that it came out behind in his back, and he fell dead on the spot. It hence appears that Asahel pressed violently on Abner, who was defending himself with the point of the spear, which must have been very sharp. In proof that there was a lower metallic point to spears, Böttcher cites Hom. I. vi. 213; x. 153; xiii. 443; Herod. vii. 41.—[On the translation “abdomen” instead of “fifth rib,” see “Text. and Gram.”—Tr.] This place, too, where Asahel fell, received importance among the people from the general mourning over the young hero. This is pathetically and vividly described by the single expression: “Every one that came to the place stood still,” comp. 2 Samuel 20:12.

2 Samuel 2:24. The pursuit continues with all the more violence. The two brothers Joab and Abishai follow Abner till the evening. At the same time the locality (now unknown) where the pursuit ended, “the hill Ammah in front of Giah on the road to the wilderness of Gibeon,” is stated with precision; an evidence of the exactness of the narrative. The wilderness of Gibeon lay east of Gibeon in the tribe of Benjamin.

2 Samuel 2:25. The “children of Benjamin,” as the nearest tribesmen, who must have been most interested for the kingdom of Ishbosheth. They gathered themselves together from the dispersion produced by flight into one body after Abner on a hill, that is, to protect Abner, and from this more favorable position to defend themselves.—[Bib.-Com.: Abner’s skill and courage in rallying his followers to a strong position in spite of so crushing a defeat. On the text of 2 Samuel 2:24-25, see “Text. and Gram.”—Tr.]

2 Samuel 2:26-28. On Abner’s appeal to Joab the conflict is straightway stopped, and the pursuit on Joab’s part ceases. A truce is concluded. Abner’s first word: Shall the sword devour forever? expresses decided aversion to this bloody combat. The second question: Knowest thou not that it will be bitterness at last? points not to outward destruction, but to the empoisoning and brutalizing (the necessary result at last of such a war) of the feeling that the members of a people, and especially God’s covenant-people, ought to cherish towards one another. Just at this moment the bitterness had reached its highest point, and the result of the continuation of the war would necessarily have been bitter and sullen despair on the part of the Benjaminites and an increase of military fury in the army of Judah. Vulg.: “Dost thou not know how dangerous is desperation?” The third question is a pressing demand to Joab to suspend hostilities immediately and agree to a truce. Joab answers Abner with an oath, in which he partly charges him with the blame of the day’s bloody struggle, partly affirms his own perfect willingness to cease hostilities without following up his victory. The first כִּי = “surely” (imo), the mark of emphatic asseveration in an oath, Ew. § 330 b; comp. 1 Samuel 14:44; 1 Samuel 20:3; Genesis 22:16 sq.; 1 Kings 1:29 sq.; 2 Samuel 2:23 sq., where, as here, it follows real oaths and introduces their contents. [This first “surely” is not in the Eng. A. V.—Tr.] If thou hadst not said this, surely then.—The second “surely” (כִּי), strengthened by “then” (אָז) as elsewhere by “now” (עַתָּה), Numbers 22:29; Genesis 43:10; 1 Samuel 14:30, takes up the first in order to bring out more expressly and strongly what would then have happened. What Abner said is his proposition for the single combat (2 Samuel 2:14), which resulted in this obstinate battle. Yea verily, then had the people gone up—that is, returned (Niph. of עָלָה in reflexive sense “get up,” Ew. § 123 b). There would then have been no fraternal war. Thenius (after Syr. and Ar.) explains: If thou hadst not (now) spoken (about a truce), then surely in the morning, (namely to-morrow) would the people have been led back. But 1) The “to-morrow” is not in the Hebrew, and 2) Joab’s answer would then amount to nothing, as it was then evening, and a return on the next morning was a matter of course. To our interpretation Thenius objects that Abner’s proposal of a duel was meant for good, and the two armies had originally marched out with intention to fight; but this objection is of no force against that interpretation, which follows the original word for word, for Joab means to say simply: if thou hadst not by that challenge given the signal for the battle, which, as a matter of fact, continued the whole day, then early in the morning one side would have retreated before the other, and the battle would not have occurred. Joab herein assumes that Abner, with the disposition which he has just expressed, would have avoided the battle if he had not excited it by his well-meant arrangement of the duel, and in his whole address and his bearing to Abner it may be seen that he (Joab) would not have made the attack, and that his march against Abner was simply to protect the territory of Judah. We must read between the lines: but for thine unfortunate word, which has had such results, we two should have avoided the battle. Here is to be noted what is indicated in 2 Samuel 2:12 as to the personal relation of Abner to Joab, and how afterwards (chap. 3) Abner passed from “the House of Saul” to David’s side. [Vulg., Lightfoot, Patrick, Philippson agree with Erdmann in the interpretation of this clause—Bib. Comm. with Thenius. A common explanation is: even if thou hadst not spoken (for a truce), the pursuit would have ceased to-morrow morning. This answer would not (as Erdmann declares) be meaningless, for it was by no means otherwise certain that the battle would not have been continued the next day. Moreover the phrase “from the morning” might be understood of the following morning. Two facts seem to favor this latter interpretation: 1) the phrase “from after their brethren,” repeated by Joab after Abner, would naturally have the same meaning in both cases, “desist from pursuit;” 2) the form in which Joab couches his answer, that is, an oath, better refers to something which lay in his power, not the non-occurrence of a battle that day, but the cessation of the battle going on. Joab would then say (agreeably to the context): I did not design to continue the battle, but, if you had said nothing, my purpose was to withdraw my troops in the morning—the context showing (as in Exodus 29:34) that the following morning was meant.—Tr.] 2 Samuel 2:28. Joab straightway causes the trumpet to sound the signal “Halt! Arms at rest!” The army halts, the pursuit is discontinued, the battle is ended.

2 Samuel 2:29-32. The withdrawal of both armies from the scene of battle, and the loss on both sides.

2 Samuel 2:29. Abner and his men marched through the Arabah21 (that is, the valley or plain of the Jordan) from the south northward, having marched from the battle-field first directly eastward towards Jericho. The distance from the entrance into the Jordan-plain (to reach which point, however (2 Samuel 2:3-4), cost them some hours) up to the point where they crossed the Jordan to go to Mahanaim, was so great that it took them at least the whole night to pass through the Arabah. They marched “the whole night,” not from fear of pursuit (for the pursuit was discontinued and a truce concluded), but probably to avoid the heat of the day. After crossing the Jordan they traversed “all the Bithron.” The word “all” forbids us to understand here a city—it is therefore not Bethoron (Aq., Vulg.), apart from the fact that this lay in the opposite direction north-west of Gibeon—but it must mean a district beyond the Jordan, probably a mountain-gorge or a plain on the Jabbok between the Jordan and Mahanaim, which lay on the Jabbok. These specific geographical statements also about Abner’s return-march show the historical exactness and value of the narrative.

2 Samuel 2:30. At the same time Joab began his return-march “from after Abner (who was withdrawing),” as it is vividly described. Not till the whole force was assembled for the return was a muster held in order to learn the loss. Only nineteen men and Asahel were missing from David’s army. [Among these nineteen some reckon the twelve that fell in the single combat.—Tr.]

2 Samuel 2:31. The Benjaminite loss, on the other hand, was much greater, “360 men dead,” as might easily be determined by counting the slain. Joab had in his army only veteran “servants of David,” tried by many severe battles and privations, while Abner led into the battle the remains of the army that was beaten by the Philistines at Gilboa, who moreover in previous battles with that people “might have been still more weakened and discouraged” (Keil). The disproportion in the losses “may, however, have been due also in part to the character of the ground,” comp. 2 Samuel 2:25 (Then.). [On the apparently corrupt text of this verse see “Text. and Gramm.”—Tr.]

2 Samuel 2:31. Asahel is buried on the march back in the burial-place of his father at Bethlehem, which lay only a little to the left of the direct road to Hebron. “They went the whole night thence,” and came at break of day to Hebron. Gibeon is distant from Hebron about 26 miles; they might therefore have gone from Gibeon to Hebron in one night, even if they stopped on the way to bury Asahel, which need not have taken much time (against Then.). [However, the text says only that they went all night from Bethlehem to Hebron, fifteen miles. They had previously marched from near Gibeon to Bethlehem, after having attended to the duties incident to the close of a battle.—Tr.]

2 Samuel 3:1-6. Further general and summary account of the long duration of the conflict between the houses of David and Saul and their different fortunes.

2 Samuel 3:1. And the war was protracted between the house of Saul and the house of David.—The former stands first because the attack came from it. From the account of the particular incident at Gibeon, where the contest assumed the form of open war, which was suddenly ended by the two generals, the narrator turns to the summary description of the condition in which the two houses from now on found themselves in respect to the contest, notwithstanding the discontinuance of external war. While this long-continued struggle lasted, outward hostilities were not renewed [at least there were no pitched battles—Tr.], Ishbosheth lacking courage and energy therefor, Abner, as his bearing (chap. 2) towards Joab showed, having no special interest in continuing the bloody strife, and David, as before, so now holding back from attack, since, though he had power and courage to maintain his claims, he yet hoped to gain his promised royal authority over Israel, not by his own military power, but only by the interposition of the Lord. Further is related the fortune of the two houses during the long contest.22 David grew stronger and stronger.23—David’s advance in strength means, however, not the increase of his family (Keil), but of his adherents, of the number of those that recognized him as king over all Israel, and came forward as supporters of his authority over the whole country, as is fully and clearly narrated in 1 Chronicles 12:23 sq. On the other hand the house of Saul grew weaker and weaker in consideration and power. The reason of this was Ishbosheth’s incapacity for royal rule and Abner’s afterwards related defection from the house of Saul. During the time of struggle he was the only person that sought still to maintain this house (2 Samuel 3:6), and it rapidly sank and disappeared when he went over to David. 2 Samuel 3:1 and 2 Samuel 3:6 are therefore connected; 2 Samuel 3:1, according to this view, not only continues the preceding chapter (Then.), but at the same time begins a new section (2 Samuel 3:1-6) which forms a transition to the narrative from 2 Samuel 3:7 on, in which is related how David’s elevation to the throne of all Israel was prepared by the sinking and disappearance of the house of Saul under his last son.—The statement (2 Samuel 3:2-5) concerning David’s family during his residence in Hebron, and the sons there born to him certainly interrupts the progress of the narrative (Then.); for it is not to be connected with 2 Samuel 3:1 as being a factual proof of the strengthening of David’s house (Keil). But it is quite in place here, since it is in keeping with the habit [of the biblical writers] of inserting at the beginning or at a turning-point of the history of the reign of each king, information about his house and family. Comp. 1 Samuel 14:49-51; 2 Samuel 5:13 sq.; 1 Kings 3:1; 1Ki 14:21; 1 Kings 15:2; 1 Kings 15:9. The same list of the sons born in Hebron, with the names of their mothers, is found in 1 Chronicles 3:1-3. The two first are the sons of the two wives Ahinoam and Abigail (1 Samuel 25:42 sq.), whom he brought with him to Hebron. On Amnon see chap. 13. The Prep. “to” (so the Heb. לְ) in these cases, where a corresponding noun is to be supplied, expresses immediate belonging [property], as “a song of (לְ) David;” so here “son to (or of, Germ. von) Ahinoam,” comp. Ewald, § 292 a.

2 Samuel 3:3. The second son is called Chileab, in Chron. Daniel; he had perhaps two names (Keil). [The name Chileab is suspected by Wellhausen to be a collateral form of Caleb (see the two in the Heb.), while Bib. Comm. thinks it a copyist’s erroneous transcription of the first letters of the following word. The Midrash derives it from כלה אב = “exactly his father,” the name indicating his likeness to David against those who said that he was the son of Nabal. Similarly the name Daniel, “God has judged me,” is said to refer to God’s judgment on Nabal. These are all conjectures, and the relation of the two names is involved in obscurity.—Tr.] The third, Absalom (called in 1 Kings 15:2 Abishalom), son of Maachah, daughter of king Talmai of Geshur. This was a small independent kingdom in Syria. See 2 Samuel 15:8, comp. 2 Samuel 2:9. Perhaps this marriage of David with a foreign un-Israelitish princess had a political ground. Comp. 1 Kings 3:1, Solomon’s marriage with a daughter of Pharaoh. The origin of the three wives, Haggith, Abital, and Eglah, whose sons were Adonijah, Shephatiah, and Ithream, is not given. The last is strangely described in an especial way as “David’s wife.” Bertheau (on 1 Chronicles 3:3) holds that the unknown and un-described Eglah is so called for the sake of a fuller conclusion; but Thenius justly remarks against this reason that Haggith and Abital also are otherwise wholly unknown. Thenius’ suggestion that Michal originally stood in the text is opposed by the fact that with the exception of the Cod. Vat., which has Aigal, the correctness of the text-reading is supported by all the witnesses. Probably this in itself superfluous addition is made in order to give a fuller conclusion by this epithet which suits each of the six women (Berth., Keil). [On this reading see “Text. and Gramm.—Tr.]

2 Samuel 3:6 resumes 2 Samuel 3:1 in relation to the continuance of the conflict between the two houses, and the statement: Abner showed himself strong (=a strong support) for the house of Saul, concludes the period during which the house of Saul was able through Abner to maintain itself against the house of David. In contrast therewith follows now the narrative of the events which, in consequence of Abner’s ceasing to work for it, through Ishbosheth’s unwise conduct, farther and farther depressed the house of Saul; comp. 2 Samuel 3:1 b. So 2 Samuel 3:1-6 form the bridge to the following history (from 2 Samuel 3:7 on).


1. David’s personality, bearing and doing after Saul’s death, and the consequent turn of his life towards the fulfilment of his call to the theocratic kingdom, show in all points, as here detailed in the prophetic narrative, absolutely free, trustful and humble dependence on the will of God, as it has up to this time shown itself as the foundation of David’s life-development, and a determination of conduct solely by the carefully sought, distinctly apprehended and clearly recognized divine decision, as it had before been obtained by him at many important and difficult moments (1 Samuel 19:19; 1 Samuel 22:5; 1Sa 23:2; 1 Samuel 23:4; 1 Samuel 23:10; 1 Samuel 23:16; 1 Samuel 30:8). That this was accomplished here also through the Urim and Thummim is not doubtful; for the high-priest with the ephod was with him, while nothing is said of a prophet in his retinue, apart from the fact that the expression “he inquired of the Lord” cannot be applied to a prophet; it cannot, therefore, be supposed that David received a declaration from a prophet.

2. David’s pathway from Ziklag to Hebron, till he gained the crown of Judah, and thence passed to that of Israel, is the way of the Lord. For 1) he asks concerning the will of the Lord, which way he shall go (2 Samuel 2:1), humbly subjecting his will to that of the Lord, in his heart relying firmly on the Lord’s decision, which could be only for his good, and seeking by repetition of his question to obtain a clear and secure knowledge of the way he is to go. 2) He goes the way appointed him by the Lord (2 Samuel 2:2-3) in unconditional obedience towards His command, in the faithful discharge of his duties towards all about him, who had hitherto shared all sufferings with him, and in joyous reliance on the further help of the Lord. 3) He finds in this way appointed by the Lord after the cross the crown, and mounts up from lowliness to glory (2 Samuel 2:4). 4) He pauses on this way, which has led him to royal honor, in order quietly to wait in patience till the Lord direct him to go forward to the final goal, the kingdom over all Israel, and in order to unfold the noble royal virtues in which he proves himself the Anointed of the Lord (2 Samuel 2:5-7). 5) He advances on the same way according to the Lord’s direction to ward off the attack of the adversary (2 Samuel 2:8-13), to bloody war, into which he is drawn against his will (2 Samuel 2:14-23), to splendid victory over his opponents (2 Samuel 2:25-32), and to the attainment of increasing power and glory in respect to the sinking house of Saul.

3. Grace (חֶסֶד) and Truth (אֱמֶת) are the fundamental attributes of God, which set forth His relation to the people of Israel as the covenant-people; grace is the special exhibition of His love, by which Hebrews 1:0) chooses the people, 2) establishes the covenant with them, and 3) in this covenant-relation imparts favor and salvation; truth is God’s love unchangeable and continuing over against the people’s sin, love that 1) does not suffer the choice of free grace to fall, 2) maintains the covenant, and 3) fulfils uncurtailed the promises that correspond to the covenant-relation. Comp. Exodus 34:6; Psalms 25:10.

4. Every human work well-pleasing to God, wrought out of genuine love and truth, is a reflection of God’s love and truth, of which the heart has had experience, an offering brought to the Lord, the impulsion to which has come from this inwardly experienced love and truth, an object of God’s love and truth which repays with blessing and salvation, and of men’s honoring recognition in respect to its ethical value.

5. Invocation of the Lord’s blessing (2 Samuel 2:5) presupposes the presence of the conditions under which alone this blessing can subsist.


2 Samuel 2:1 sq. Faith’s inquiry of the Lord. 1) Whereon it is founded; a) Upon an entire looking away from human prudence and wisdom; b) Upon unconditional trust in the divine love and faithfulness, and c) Upon previous experiences of His gracious help. 2) What sort of answer it finds; a) A certain decision, which puts an end to all doubt; b) A definite direction which way to go; c) A safe security that this way leads to the goal.

2 Samuel 2:1-4 a. From Ziklag to Hebron—the way of humility from the depths to the heights. 1) After humble subjection to sore trials, which the Lord had imposed, (“after this,” 2 Samuel 2:1). 2) After humble inquiry of the Lord’s will as to the way he must further go. 3) In humble submission to be directed and guided by the Lord in the way appointed for him. 4) In humble and patient expectation of the fulfilment of His promises.

The way of faith through cross to crown. 1) How it is surely found (2 Samuel 2:11), a) inquired for of the Lord; b) pointed out by the Lord. 2) How it is confidently pursued, a) under the guidance of the Lord’s hand; b) in communion with those united in the Lord (2 Samuel 2:2-3). 3) How it is joyfully completed, a) at the goal set up by the Lord; b) under the direction of faithful human love, the instrument of the Lord’s love (2 Samuel 2:4).

2 Samuel 2:4-7. Faithful love to our neighbor in time of need. 1) How it is in a noble and unselfish manner shown and attested amid the misfortune of our neighbor (2 Samuel 2:4 b). 2) How it is blessed by God in the manifestation of His grace and the attestation of His faithfulness (2 Samuel 2:5-6). 3) How it is honored by men through thankful recognition and righteous requital (2 Samuel 2:6). 4) How it is exalted in itself to a stout heart and to great joy (2 Samuel 2:7).

[2 Samuel 2:6. “And now the Lord do kindness (grace) and truth unto you.” See points for the homiletical discussion of this text in “Hist. and Theol.” No. 3.

2 Samuel 2:1-13. See outline of a sermon in “Hist. and Theol.” No. 2.—Tr.]

2 Samuel 2:8-32. God’s judgment in war: I. How the divine decision falls: 1) Against him who has begun the war unrighteously, a) to fight out a pretended right; b) to extend an assumed power and dominion; c) in conscious resistance to God’s right and command. 2) For him who has been innocently drawn into it, a) to repel injustice; b) to defend His righteous cause; c) to uphold God’s command and righteousness. II. How men should submit to this divine decision: 1) The conquered have to bow in humility under God’s hand, and to abandon the war, a) in order to avoid further bloodshed; b) to ward off further mischief; c) to preserve the people from spiritually and morally running wild. 2) The conquerors must, a) in the course of victory and honor stop immediately with self-denial when the Lord commands it; b) give the conquered the hand of peace when they ask a cessation of hostilities on the ground of the divine decision which has been reached, and c) testify to the readiness for peace which they have felt, and against the unrighteousness which has constrained them to the conflict.

2 Samuel 3:1-6. By justice divine are decided All conflicts that men have divided. 1) What comes from God, alone can last; 2) What stands against God, soon is past.24

2 Samuel 2:1. Cramer: When the righteous are oppressed and have stood the test, God leads them by a right way that they may go to a city of habitation, Psalms 107:7; so let us wait patiently for the right time, Hebrews 2:3; Psalms 55:22. Osiander: A Christian should never undertake anything without good forethought and effort to learn God’s will from His word, and should often seek to strengthen his faith therefrom, Psalms 119:105.—Berl. B.: David rests not in all the illuminations and promises he has before received, but only in the will of God, and looks to the divine nod and glance, the truest and only guide for tranquilly trusting souls. Thereby the soul remains free in all things from selfishness and vain joy. [Henry: He doubted not of success, yet he uses proper means, both divine and human. Assurance of hope in God’s promise will be so far from slackening, that it will quicken pious endeavors.—Tr.].

2 Samuel 2:3. Cramer: Faithful friends, proven in time of need, are a great treasure. Starke: When God gives us prosperity, we should cause this also to be shared by those who have shared with us in distress. [Hall: Thus doth our heavenly leader, whom David prefigured, take us to reign with Him who have suffered with Him.—Tr.].

2 Samuel 2:4. Osiander: The hearts of subjects are in God’s hand, and God can incline them so that they must love their rulers. What God has promised is sure to come at last. After enduring sufferings thou shalt receive the crown of life, 2 Timothy 4:8.—S. Schmid: Praiseworthy deeds always get their praise and their reward even among men, although they are not performed to that end, but from love to righteousness.

2 Samuel 2:6. Cramer: By gentleness and friendliness rulers may easily win the hearts of their subjects, and also quiet much contention, Judges 8:2.

2 Samuel 2:7. J. Lange: Kings derive their kingly majesty immediately from God, but also mediately from their subjects.—F. W. Krummacher: People gained here the conviction that this man, unmoved by the lower affections of revenge and malice, knew how to forgive and to forget, and that all the wrong and injustice he had experienced had not been able to darken for him in his predecessor the dignity and sacred-ness of an Anointed of the Lord. Besides, this conduct of David’s made on the people the decided impression that they might expect of him a humane rule, since he would reckon even the most trifling and insignificant praiseworthy thing that might happen anywhere in the land to be worthy of grateful recognition and consideration.

2 Samuel 2:8-9. Cramer: The whole life of pious men is and remains a continual school of the cross. In them holds good the saying: Must not man be always in strife on earth? Job 7:1. [So Luther. Similarly Conant: Has not man a term of warfare on the earth?—Tr.].—S. Schmid: Carnal prudence and pride is never willing to submit itself to God’s will, but will always oppose itself, Exodus 5:2. = 2 Samuel 2:10. Schlier: He wore the crown that had been promised him, but the cross also did not yet cease for him. Still he must persevere and wait till the whole kingdom fell to him, still he must now also bear patiently whatever new burden was allotted to him.—Berl B.: When he came into possesssion of his kingdom, even yet he remained quiet awhile, without considering how he might increase it, because he cast all this care upon Divine Providence. He thus shames the behaviour of those spiritual men, who when they recognize that God wishes to do something through them, are constantly making attempts and all sorts of beginnings to see whether they may perhaps achieve the work, and are never willing in patience and self-forgetfulness to wait on God, until God Himself performs His will. The hour must come itself, and so it must simply be waited for.

2 Samuel 2:12. Starke: A Christian must not let his courage sink because when he has gained a victory in a good cause, unexpectedly new obstacles and hindrances are found.—Schlier: When a king takes the sword in an ambitious spirit, and wishes only to subjugate other peoples in order to extend his dominion, that is an unrighteous war, and woe to all the princes who in base ambition set at stake the blood of their people!—A bad prince, who wilfully conjures up war upon his land. But also shame upon the prince who would not help his people when wrong is done them. A righteous war is a royal duty, from which no prince can venture to withdraw, even if it were fraternal war! It may have come hard enough to David to take up arms against his brothers, and yet he could not do otherwise. God the Lord had Himself given the arms into his hand.

2 Samuel 2:13-32. Cramer: Bloodthirsty warriors count men’s blood as water, and have their pastime in it, but to God that is an abomination. Schlier: In such times there is only one consolation, namely, that the Lord sits as ruler, and that we should accept the war, if there is one, from the hand of the supreme Lord of war, that we should not regard what princes and kings of the earth do and design, but see in war the chastening rod of divine wrath, which visits the sins of the peoples even through the horrors of war.

2 Samuel 2:18-19. Cramer: Let no one rely on the powers of his body, for the race is not to the swift, Ecclesiastes 9:11

2 Samuel 2:23. Lange: Bravery is certainly very far different from foolhardy temerity. [Hall: Many a one miscarries in the rash prosecution of a good quarrel, when the abettors of the worst part go away with victory. Heat of zeal, sometimes in the indiscreet pursuit of a just adversary, proves mortal to the agent, prejudicial to the service. Henry: See here (1) How often death comes upon us by ways that we least suspect. Who would fear the hand of a flying enemy, or the butt end of a spear? (2) How we are often betrayed by the accomplishments we are proud of. Asahel’s swiftness, which he presumed so much upon, did him no kindness, but forwarded his fate.—Tr.]

2 Samuel 2:24 sq. Schlier: The bloodshed was at an end, the horrors of fraternal war were over, the victory had been won by David, who had begun the war in the name of the Lord, and now from the Lord had also received the victory. For of this we should be certain: victory comes from the Lord. As surely as the Lord our God is no dead but a living God—as surely as He sits in government and orders everything as the Almighty God, so surely must it also be true that victory comes from the Lord, Psalms 20:8

2 Samuel 2:24-26. Cramer: A wretched wisdom when one grows prudent only with losses. Therefore in the beginning think of the end. [Henry: See here (1) How easy it is for men to use reason when it makes for them, who would not use it if it made against them ! (2) How the issue of things alters men’s minds! The same things which looked pleasant in the morning, at night looked dismal.—Tr.].

2 Samuel 2:27. It is an honor to a man to stay out of contention; but they who love it are altogether fools, Proverbs 20:3.

2 Samuel 2:28. Starke: Even he who has been injured by another should show himself ready to be reconciled to the other if he desires forgiveness, Matthew 5:5

2 Samuel 2:30-31. Cramer: Prosperity should be used reverently and with moderation, lest we fly too high.—God punishes in war the sins of both parties.—2 Samuel 3:1 sq. Roos: What is not devised, done, collected and set up in God’s name, has no permanence. God in His holy wrath is the fire that consumes such a thing, however specious it seems; on the contrary, what He wills and approves, is through His good pleasure obtained, advanced and made strong.

[2 Samuel 2:11. David at Hebron: 1) His choosing the place by divine direction (2 Samuel 2:1). And we can see that it was a fit place. The city of Abraham, Caleb and the Levites—a city of refuge—the principal town in David’s tribe, and somewhat remote from Saul’s tribe—and David had taken pains to conciliate its inhabitants (1 Samuel 30:31). Divine directions are seen to coincide with true human wisdom, wherever we sufficiently understand the facts. 2) His “apprenticeship to monarchy.” Through several previous years he had been in a course of providential preparation for reigning; and now he begins to reign on a small scale. He has occasion to learn a) from the apparent failure of wild schemes (2 Samuel 2:5 sqq.), b) from open hostility, long continued (2 Samuel 2:12 sqq.; 2 Samuel 3:1), c) from the base cruelty of his trusted commander (2 Samuel 3:27). Amid all these he grew in popularity and strength (2 Samuel 3:1; 2 Samuel 3:36). The lessons e learned were especially, to be prudent (2 Samuel 2:5 sqq.; 2 Samuel 3:28), and to be patient (2 Samuel 2:11; 2 Samuel 3:1). 3) His founding a family, (2 Samuel 3:2-5). a) To have sons born to him is the joy of any man, especially of a monarch, b) But here polygamy was already paving the way to sore family dissension. c) And three of these sons born at Hebron, Amnon, Absalom, Adonijah, were destined to bring wretchedness and shame on their father and his house, and ruin on themselves. O the mingled hopes and fears with which a father must look on his little children!—Tr.]

[A Sunday school address. 2 Samuel 2:18-23. The rash young prince. 1) He had a shining gift, 2 Samuel 2:18. (In ancient warfare, more were often slain in the pursuit than the battle; and so swiftness of foot was important to a warrior). 2) He was ambitious—pursuing the distinguished general of the enemy. 3) He had decision and perseverance—turning not to the right or left, and yielding to persuasion. 4) He fancied himself superior to an old man—a common and natural, but grave fault in the young. (The old man at length killed him with ease, in mere self-defense). 5) He was slain as the penalty of self-confidence and rashness—besetting sins of many gifted youth.—Tr.]


[22] הָלַךְ with Vb. or Adj. (1 Samuel 2:26) indicating progressive increase. Ges. § 131, 3, Rem. 3.

[23] חָזֵק is not=חָזָק “strong” (Böttcher on Exodus 19:19), but Partcp. or Verbal Adj.=“strengthening” (neuter), as נָּדֵל (1 Samuel 2:26).

[24][This rhyming in propositions and division is a somewhat common practice in Germany.—Tr.]

[1][2 Samuel 2:2. On the fem. form (כרמלית) here given in some MSS. see notes on 1 Samuel 27:3; 1 Samuel 30:5.—Tr.]

[2][2 Samuel 2:3. Sept. reads “the men,” which better accords with Greek and Eng. idiom (Erdmann so has it in the Exposition), but hardly calls for a change in the Heb. text. Further on Sept. omits the verb “did bring up,” thus attaching the noun “men” to the verb of the preceding verse. The Syr. also has difficulty with this sentence, making the Hiphil into Qal, and inserting “and David” at the beginning of the verse, so as to read: “and David and his-men were with him; and David went up and the men of his house, and they abode in Hebron.” These readings seem to substantiate the Heb. text, only they had וְעָלָה instead of הֶעֱלָה, which the Sept. then omitted as superfluous. The Heb. Hiphil is preferable because it introduces a new statement, while the Syr. merely repeats.—Tr.

[3][2 Samuel 2:4. So Erdmann, Philippson, Maurer; but Wellhausen declares it to be an impossible construction in prose. If not impossible, it is unusual and hard, and the simple rendering of the Syr. and Vulg.: “the men of Jabesh-Gilead buried Saul,” commends itself, except that, as this is probably the answer to a question: “who buried Saul?” we should expect the subject “the men of Jabesh-Gilead” to be put as the principal and essential part of the answer. The true form of the sentence is not apparent.—Tr.]

[4][2 Samuel 2:6. The Fut. rendering is found in Sept., Sym., Vulg., and the idea “requite” in the two last; but the context (with the present text) points to the Pres., and it is better to render the Heb. verb (עשׂה) uniformly. Against Thenius Wellhausen insists that the אֶעֱשֶׂה cannot be rendered as Pres. (this would require עשׂיתי), and, since the Fut. does not accord with the הַזּאת, he would for the latter substitute תַּחַת, and render: “I will do you good because (= in place that) ye have done,” etc. (so the Vulg.), which certainly gives a more appropriate sense, though the rendering of Thenius (and Erdmann) is not impossible.—Tr.]

[5][2 Samuel 2:9. The literal rendering of the Prep. (אֵל) is here (with Erdmann) in these three cases retained, in contrast with the following עַל, “over,” because an error of text does not here seem probable, in spite of the fact that ancient and modern translators (without exception, as far as I know) neglect the difference. Erdmann attempts in the Exposition to point out the difference of meaning between the two Prepositions in the connection.—Instead of “Ashurites” many read “Geshurites.”—The last word of the verse כֻּלּה presents an example of a 3 pers. masc. suffix (הֹ) usually considered to be archaic for וֹ; the fem. pointing (כֻּלָּהּ) would be possible, if “Israel” were considered in its national unity, or as a land.—Tr.]

[6][2 Samuel 2:10. אַךְ “only, however,” but the rendering “only” would here be ambiguous.—Tr.]

[7][2 Samuel 2:10. 2 Samuel 2:10-11 are variously handled. Erdmann inclines to follow Thenius in regarding 10 b and 11 as parenthesis, Wellhausen regards 10 a and 11 as interpolations, connecting 10 b with ver.12. The difficulties in the figures do not prove ungenuineness of the text, since these may be corrupted by copyists, and the summary chronological statements are natural and in accordance with the manner of our Book. The better view is that the Redactor has inserted as summary statement in his narrative either 2 Samuel 2:10-11, or 10 a, 11. The objection to Thenius’ view (which connects 10 a with 12) is that 10 a is clearly the ordinary formula for the length of a king’s reign and his age at his accession, and therefore an independent sentence. See the remarks on 1 Samuel 13:1.—Tr.]

[8][2 Samuel 2:13. The use of the Acc. suffix and also the adv. יַחְדָּו is remarkable, since either (as expressing the idea of concurrence) would seem to exclude the other. We should expect either simply: “they met them at the pool,” or “they met at the pool together.” The present text may have arisen from the combination of the two constructions.—Tr.]

[9][2 Samuel 2:15. The ו is either appositional, = “namely,” or it indicates that Ishbosheth had other soldiers besides Benjaminites.—Tr.]

[10][Ver 16. Some insert (after Sept.) the word “hand” (יָדוֹ) after the first verb and read: “they laid every man his hand on the head of his fellow, and his sword into his fellow's side,” on which see Erdmann. Böttcher adopts this reading, only he puts the Aramaic form (which he supposes to be popular) איד instead of the Heb. יר, in order to account for its falling out after אִישׁ. This supposition of an Aramaic reading is somewhat forced, and the Heb. is intelligible without the insertion of the word “hand,” which is found in no other ancient version.—Tr.]

[11][2 Samuel 2:16. This word of doubtful meaning is properly left untranslated in Eng. A. V. The various proposed renderings are discussed by Erdmann.—Tr.]

[12][2 Samuel 2:23. חמֶשׁ. Not one of the ancient VSS. renders this word “fifth rib,” Sept. “loins” (ψόα), Syr. “breast,” Chald. “side of the loins.” Vulg “inguen;” among moderns only Cahen maintains it, after Rashi and the Talmud (Sanhedrin 49, a). Gesenius and Fürst connect the word with a root (found in Arabic), meaning “to be fat or strong.”—Tr.]

[13][2 Samuel 2:24. To the reading of the verse Wellhausen objects: 1) that a way is stated to be the goal of the pursuit; 2) that the pursuit, starting from Gibeon (2 Samuel 2:16), nevertheless ends on the way to Gibeon: 3) that the name Giah is unknown and suspicious. He therefore substitutes גֵּי, “ravine,” for גּיח, supposing that the scribe designed to locate the hill Ammah appropriately by a valley; but as the combination “valley of the way” thus obtained gives no sense, he finally throws out the גֶּי and reads: “opposite the way of the wilderness” (remarking very justly that roads in Palestine, being unchangeable, answered as well as rivers for topographical definition). Here this generally acute critic has made difficulties for himself. For 1) the pursuit ends not on a road, but at a hill on a certain road; 2) the pursuit is not said not to have reached Gibeon, but to have reached a point on the road to the wilderness of Gibeon, which may have been of considerable extent; 3) as to Giah, many otherwise unknown names occur once in the Old Testament. It is not necessary to suppose that the hill of 2 Samuel 2:25 is identical with Ammah in 2 Samuel 2:24, or to change the אֶחָת into אַמָּה or something else.—Tr.]

[14][2 Samuel 2:27. Literally: “at that time from the morning.” The second כִּי, rendered in Eng. A. V. “surely,” is better taken as repetition of the first, the Conj. introducing the clause, = that, and usually omitted in English.—Tr.]

[15][2 Samuel 2:31. The text here is corrupt; but it is not easy to restore it. The Chald. follows the Heb. word by word; the Vulg. inserts the Rel. Pron.: “three hundred and sixty who also died;” the Syr. omits the verb “died” in 2 Samuel 2:31, and inserts it (Sing.) at the end of 2 Samuel 2:30. Literally the Heb. reads: “smote of Benjamin, etc., three hundred and sixty men, they died.” Not only is the syntax impossible, but also the addition of the statement that the smitten men died is unusual, being involved in the word “smite” (according to the Heb. usage). The simplest course would be to omit the word “died,” and read “smote.… three hundred and sixty men.” Perhaps a marginal explanation has here gotten into the text (Wellh.).—Tr.]

[16][2 Samuel 2:32. Some MSS. insert בְּ before בית לחם.—Tr.]

[17][2 Samuel 3:2. Kethib is Pual, Qeri Niphal. For an example of the latter see 2 Samuel 14:27. The text form may be Perf. Pual, וֶיֻלְּדוּ; but some prefer to regard it as Impf., וַיֻּלְּדוּ for וַיְיֻלְּדוּ as the Pual Partcp. occurs without the preformative מ.—Tr.]

[18][On Hebron (twenty miles south of Jerusalem) see the books of travel and Bible-dictionaries. Stanley has given in his “History of the Jewish Church,” Vol. I., App. II., an interesting account of the visit of the Prince of Wales thither in 1862. Bib. Com. calls attention to the unusual phrase “cities of Hebron,” as if Hebron were the name of a district, the common designation of dependent towns being “villages” or “daughters” (Joshua 15:36; Numbers 21:25). No doubt the name of the city Hebron attached itself to the surrounding district.—Tr.]

[19]Sept. has אֲשֶׁר (= quod) after לֵאמרֹ, and the latter is omitted by Vulg.; Thenius hence supposes that לֵאמדֹ got into the text by mistake (through careless looking) for אֲשֶׁר, and that the latter, being added by way of supplement in the margin, thence got into the wrong place in the text. [See “Text, and Gram.”—Tr.]

[20] חֲלִצָתוֹ, not exuviæ, “spoil” [so margin of Eng. A. V. and Bib.-Com.—Tr.], from חָלַע, “to strip off,” since then the suffix would be meaningless, but Armor from חָלַץ, “to gird” (from חָלָץ, “loins”), Niph.: “to arm one's self for battle,” Numbers 32:21; Numbers 32:27; Numbers 32:29 sq.; Joshua 6:7 sq.; Isaiah 15:4; comp. with Jeremiah 48:41.—Sept.: πανοπλἰα αὐτοῦ.

[21][On the Arabah (which is in general the deep gorge of the Jordan, extending from the sea of Kinnereth (Gennesaret) to the Gulf of Akabah), see Smith’s Bible Dict. s.v. and Stanley’s Sinai and Palestine, 481.—Tr.]

Verses 7-39

III. Abner’s quarrel with Ishbosheth, defection from the House of Saul and transition to David

2 Samuel 3:7-21

7And Saul had a concubine whose name was Rizpah, the daughter of Aiah, and Ishbosheth4 said to Abner, Wherefore hast thou gone in unto my father’s concubine?5 8Then was Abner [And Abner was] very wroth for the words of Ishbosheth, and said, Am I a dog’s head which against Judah6 [a dog’s head on Judah’s side?] [ins. I] do show kindness this day [to-day] unto the house of Saul thy father, to his brethren and to his friends, and have not delivered thee into the hand of David, that 9[and] thou chargest me to-day with a fault concerning this [the] woman? [!] So do God to Abner and more also except, as the Lord [Jehovah] hath sworn to David, even so I do to him, 10To translate the kingdom from the house of Saul, and to set up the throne of David over Israel and over Judah, from Dan even to Beersheba. 11And he could not answer Abner a word again, because he feared him.

12And Abner sent messengers to David on his behalf [or in his stead7], saying, Whose is the land?8 saying also [om. also], Make thy league [covenant] with me, and behold, my hand shall be with thee to bring about [to turn] all Israel unto 13thee. And Hebrews 9:0 said, Well; I will make a league [covenant] with thee; but one thing I require of thee, that is, Thou shalt not see my face except10 thou first7 [om. first] bring Michal, Saul’s daughter, when thou comest to see my face. 14And David sent messengers to Ishbosheth, Saul’s son, saying, Deliver [Give] me11 my wife Michal, which [whom] I espoused to me for an hundred foreskins of the Philistines. 15And Ishbosheth sent and took her from her husband, even from Phaltiel the son of Laish.12 16And her husband went with her along weeping behind her to Bahurim. Then said Abner [And Abner said] unto him, Go, return. And he returned.

17And Abner had communication with the elders of Israel, saying, Ye sought for 18David in times past13 to be king over you; Now, then, do it; for the Lord [Jehovah] hath spoken of14 David, saying, By the hand of my servant David I will15 save my people Israel out of the hand of the Philistines and out of the hand of all their enemies. 19And Abner also16 spake in the ears of Benjamin; and Abner went also13 to speak in the ears of David in Hebron all that seemed good to Israel and that seemed good [om. that seemed good] to the whole house of Benjamin. So [And] 20Abner came to17 David to Hebron and twenty men with him. And David made Abner and the men that were with him a feast. 21And Abner said unto David, I will arise and go, and will gather all Israel unto my lord the king, that they18 may make a league [covenant] with thee, and that thou mayest reign over all that thine heart desireth. And David sent Abner away, and he went in peace.

IV. Murder of Abner by Joab. 2 Samuel 3:22-39

22And behold the servants of David and Joab came from pursuing a troop [came from an expedition19], and brought in a great spoil with them. But [And] Abner was not with David in Hebron, for he had sent him away and he was gone in peace. 23When Joab and all the host that was with him were come, they told Joab, saying, Abner the son of Ner came to the king, and he hath sent him away, and he is gone in peace. 24Then Joab came to the king and said, What hast thou done? behold, Abner came unto thee; why is it that thou hast sent him away, and he is quite [om. quite20] gone? 25Thou knowest Abner the son of Ner21 that he came to deceive thee, and to know thy going out and thy coming in, and to know all that thou doest. 26And when [om. when] Joab was come out [went out] from David he [and] sent messengers after Abner, which [who] brought him again from the well of Sirah; but David knew it not.

27And when Abner was returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside in [to the middle of] the gate to speak with him quietly, and smote him there under the fifth rib 28[in22 the abdomen] that he died, for the blood of Asahel his brother. And afterward when David heard it [when David afterward heard it], he said, I and my kingdom are guiltless before the Lord [Jehovah] for ever from the blood of Abner the son of Ner; 29Let it rest [be hurled] on the head of Joab and on all his father’s house, and let there not fail from the house of Joab one that hath an issue, or that is a leper, or that leaneth on a staff [crutch23], or that falleth on [by] the sword, or that 30lacketh bread. So24 Joab and Abishai his brother slew Abner because he had slain their brother Asahel at Gibeon in the battle.

31And David said to Joab and to all the people that were with him, Rend your clothes and gird you with sackcloth, and mourn before Abner. And king David himself [om. himself] followed the bier. 32And they buried Abner in Hebron; and the king lifted up his voice and wept at the grave of Abner, and all the people wept. 33And the king lamented over Abner and said,

Died Abner [Must Abner die] as a fool25 [or villain] dieth?

34Thy hands were not bound

Nor thy feet put into fetters.
As a man falleth before wicked men
So fellest thou.

35And all the people wept again over him. And when [om. when] all the people came to cause David to eat26 meat [bread] while it was yet day [ins. and] David sware, saying, So do God to me and more also, if I taste bread or aught else till the sun be down. 36And all the people took notice of it, and it pleased them; as27 whatsoever 37the king did pleased all the people. For [And] all the people and all Israel understood that day that it was not of the king to slay Abner the son of Numbers 3:0; Numbers 3:08And the king said unto his servants, Know ye not that there is a prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel? 39And I am this day weak, though anointed king, and these men the sons of Zeruiah be too hard for me; the Lord [Jehovah] shall [om. shall] reward the doer of evil [wickedness] according to his wickedness.


III. 2 Samuel 3:7-21. Abner quarrels with Ishbosheth, and goes over to David

2 Samuel 3:7-8. The falling out. Its occasion was Abner’s taking Saul’s concubine, Rizpah,28 the daughter of Aiah. The Harem was part of the property of the reigning house, and therefore fell to the successor, comp. 2 Samuel 12:8. Taking possession of it was a political act, and signified actual entrance on royal rights, comp. 2 Samuel 16:21, and of this act Abner was guilty. Supply from the connection Ishbosheth (comp. my father and 2 Samuel 3:8) as subject of the verb said. His question: “Why,” etc., might be taken as the expression of suspicion that Abner was thus seeking the throne, for in the ancient Orient claim to the harem was claim to the throne, so especially with the Persian, comp. Herod. 3, 68; Justin. 10, 2. But, if Ishbosheth really had such a suspicion, Abner’s conduct gives no ground for such a view; his act seems rather the outflow of passionate self-will and presumptuous contempt towards Ishbosheth. If he had really wished to seize the throne of Israel for himself, his conduct towards David (2 Samuel 3:9 sq.) would be inexplicable. His answer in 2 Samuel 3:8 shows how loose his relation to Ishbosheth and concern for his cause already was. “Dog’s head,” as in our language also, is the expression for something perfectly despicable. The. words: “which is to Judah,” omitted by Sept., are not to be connected with the preceding (Clericus: thinkest thou that I am worth no more to the Tribe of Judah than a dog’s head? Syr.: Am I the head of the dogs of Judah? Ewald: Am I then a Judahite dog’s head?—such an adjectival periphrasis would be very strange)—nor in sense to be connected with the following (Vulg.: who against Judah to-day show kindness; De Wette: who in respect to Judah now show kindness), but to be rendered simply as they stand: “who is for Judah, pertains to, holds with Judah” (Buns.). Abner is angered by the insult he thinks shown him by Ishbosheth’s reproachful question. The sense of his reply is: that Ishbosheth treats him as a despicable man, who takes no interest in him, as one who belongs to his opponents, the party of the Tribe of Judah, whereas Hebrews 1:0) is showing only kindness to the whole house of Saul, and 2) especially has not delivered him, Ishbosheth, into the hand of David. By adducing these his services to the royal house Abner repels the reproach based on his appropriation of the concubine.29 His words express the extremest contempt towards his king, and the strongest consciousness of services, to which the house of Saul and Ishbosheth owed everything. The “to-day” is significant;, even “now” he occupies this position towards Saul’s house; comp. the “made himself strong, was a strong helper” in 2 Samuel 3:6. The contrast to this comes out sharply in what follows. There follows—

2 Samuel 3:9-11, the sudden complete breach with the house of Saul and the solemn oath in respect to the house of David. This is the culmination of what is said in 2 Samuel 3:1 of David’s advance in strength over against the house of Saul. (On the simple כִּי in oaths see on 2 Samuel 2:27; 1 Samuel 3:17.) The history does not show a formal divine oath, such as Abner here refers to. But the divine choice of David to be king, his anointment performed by Samuel at the divine command (1 Samuel 15:28-29; 1 Samuel 16:1-12), and the therewith conjoined divine declaration which Samuel declares to be inviolable (1 Samuel 15:29) because based on God’s truthfulness (comp. Numbers 23:19)—all this had in fact the significance and weight of a divine oath. Abner’s words presuppose that acquaintance with the promises given to David was, through the prophetic circles, widely extended. Abigail is an example of such acquaintance among the people (1 Samuel 25:28-31).—So will I do to him; Abner does not consider himself (as Cler. thinks) as the Lord’s instrument for fulfilling his declaration to David, which he in fact was not. He merely says, that he will now make David king, as had been promised him by divine oath. The remark of Cler. that “military men do not sufficiently weigh what they say” does not apply here; for in Abner’s words there is the distinct consciousness that over against the divine promise concerning David the cause of Saul and Ishbosheth is a lost one, but at the same time also the mortified ambition that thinks its services not sufficiently recognized, and the overweening pride of a vigorous and energetic man who thinks that he can of himself make history. In spite of his reference to a divine declaration, his conduct is anything but theocratic, is rather throughout autocratic, comp. 2 Samuel 2:8, 2 Samuel 9:0 : “he took Ishbosheth, and made him king.” How far his previous energetic, autocratic activity for Saul’s house was connected with ambitious, high-reaching plans for himself, is uncertain. In any case, however, so much is true: 1) that he knew David’s divine call to be Saul’s successor, and therefore stood in conscious opposition to the known will of God, and thus in conflict with himself, and 2) that it was only after his defeat in the battle with Joab (which he himself began, 2 Samuel 2:12 sq.) and his gradually confirmed recognition of the fact that Ishbosheth was wholly unfit for the kingly rule and its maintenance in the house of Saul, and in truth the personal insult now offered him by Ishbosheth—that he suddenly decided to break with the house of Saul and go over to David. How far ambition herein influenced him along with political insight, we cannot tell; but it is not probable that he showed so much energy in gaining over all Israel to David, as is afterwards related, without hope of a high and influential position with David—With the words: “to translate the kingdom from Saul,” comp. Samuel’s word, 1 Samuel 15:28.—From Dan to Beersheba, as in Judges 20:1; 1 Samuel 3:20.—[Bib. Com. thinks it probable that Abner had before this begun to incline towards David, so that Ishbosheth had some ground for the taunt: “which belongeth to Judah,” and this made it all the more slinging to Abner.—Tr.]

2 Samuel 3:11. And he (Ishbosheth) could not answer, because he feared him. This characterizes Ishbosheth sufficiently for the explanation of the whole situation. Having with an effort plucked up courage to ask that reproachful question, he here shows the greatest feebleness, cowardice and timidity towards Abner. This also contributes to the explanation of what is said in 2 Samuel 3:1 concerning the house of Saul.

2 Samuel 3:12-21 Abner’s covenant with David.

2 Samuel 3:12. The threat against Ishbosheth is straightway carried out by sending an embassy to David. תחתו is not “in his place” (Vulg. pro se, Cler., De Wette, Keil [Eng. A. V.: “on his behalf”]), which would be superfluous and unmeaning (Buns.), but, in keeping with Abner’s passionate excitement in 2 Samuel 3:9, “on the spot, immediately,” παραχρῆμα (Sept., Chald.), as in 2 Samuel 2:23, where Keil also adopts this meaning, though he here declares that there is no ground for it.—[On this whole passage see “Text, and Gram.”—Tr.]—The first “saying” (לֵאמֹר) can be taken here only in the usual sense as introduction of direct discourse, not as = “to say” in reference to the messengers. And the second “saying” is also so to be taken, and not as = “that is to say” (Buns., Then.), since it introduces another direct discourse of Abner: “Make a covenant,” which cannot except by forcing be regarded as an explanation of the question: “to whom belongs the land?” rather the demand contained in it, as a consequence of the silent answer to this question, is, on account of its importance as the chief thing in the commission of the ambassadors, naturally appended by means of a repeated “saying.” The saying: To whom belongs (or whose is) the land? does not relate to David, as if = “to whom does it belong but to thee?” This interpretation, that the land properly belonged to David by virtue of his anointment (Vat., S. Schmid, Ew. [Patrick, Bib. Com.]), would agree indeed with Abner’s acknowledgment in 2 Samuel 3:9, but not with the following words: Make a covenant with me to turn all Israel to thee, which rather indicate that Abner means to say: “the land belongs to me” (Sanct., Thenius [Scott, Philipps]).This is quite in keeping with his proud, haughty nature, as hitherto manifested in his words and conduct, and also with the facts of the case, since in fact the whole land except Judah was still subject to Saul’s house, that is, to him (Abner) as Dictator. Because he still as influential ruler controlled the greatest part of the land, he could 1) demand of David, as one standing on the same plane with him, to make a covenant with him, and 2) give him the promise (the product not only of strong self-consciousness, but also of extensive power): “my hand is with thee to turn all Israel to thee” Obviously there is here not merely implicitly involved as answer to the above question, the declaration: “the land is his whom I, the leader of the army, shall favor” (Cler.), but also the expectation that, after the fulfillment of this promise, David would assign him the highest position in the army and in the nation next to himself. Abner’s proud and haughty words hardly permit us to doubt that he was filled with such thoughts.

2 Samuel 3:13. David replies with a condition, namely, the restoration of his wife Michal30Thou shalt not see my face before (= except) thou bring Michal, etc.—Certainly we should have the opposite of David’s meaning (Then.) If we rendered: “Thou shalt not see my face except before thou bring Michal.” But, if we retain the text (לִפְנֵי), this explanation is unnecessary, rather it quite answers to the original signification of the word to render literally: “except in the face of thy bringing Michal …. in thy coming to see my face,” that is, thou shalt not see my face except by at the same time bringing me Michal when thou comest to see my face; thy coming to me to see my face shall not occur except in the presence of this fact, namely, that thou (= unless, before thou) bring Michal. It is therefore unnecessary either to omit the Prep. (לִפְנֵי) after the Sept., and change the following Inf. into a Perf., = “unless thou bring” (Then.), or to omit the “but”(כִּי אִם) = “thou shalt not see my face before thy bringing (= before thou bring)” (Böttcher).

2 Samuel 3:14 presupposes the acceptance of this condition by Abner. In realization of what Abner had threatened him with, Ishbosheth finds himself compelled to fulfil David’s condition himself, and that immediately by Abner’s own hand, to whom was assigned the duty of bringing, and who really did bring Michal to David (2 Samuel 3:15-16). To this end David sends a formal embassy to Ishbosheth, in order legally to demand and receive Michal back, she having been illegally taken by Saul and given to another man (1 Samuel 25:44). Seb. Schmid: “that it might be manifest that he had acted legally towards Phaltiel before his king, and taken her back, not carried her off by force from a husband.” Whom I espoused to me, that is, purchased as bride, married—For a hundred foreskins, comp. 1 Samuel 18:27, where two hundred is the number given. David thus justifies his claim that Michal lawfully belongs to him, since he had lawfully won her as his wife. Besides this right to Michal, which he was now for the first time in position successfully to assert, he was led to a reunion with her partly by love (“she loved him,” 1 Samuel 18:27; 1 Samuel 19:11 sq.), partly by a political motive; as king he could not in the presence of the people leave Michal in a relation into which she had been forced against her will,31 and he wished the people to see from his relation to Saul as son-in-law that he was free from hatred towards the latter.

2 Samuel 3:15. And Ishbosheth sent, that is, to Gallim, where Phaltiel, the present husband of Michal, dwelt, 1 Samuel 25:44, and sent Abner himself (2 Samuel 3:16). Her husband cannot part with her without sorrow. [The Jewish tradition represents Phaltiel as the guardian merely, not the husband of Michal—a view that the text does not permit.—Tr.]

2 Samuel 3:16. A touching scene, briefly but vividly sketched. The faithful husband follows his wife weeping to Bahurim, where Abner, who therefore had himself brought Michal from Gallim, ordered him to return. Bahurim, the home of Shimei (2 Samuel 19:17; 1 Kings 2:8), a village near Jerusalem (Jos., Ant. 7, 9–7) north-east, on the road between the Mount of Olives and the Jordan (Gilgal), not far from or in the plain of the Jordan (comp. 2 Samuel 16:1; 2 Samuel 16:5; 2 Samuel 17:18).

2 Samuel 3:17-19. Abner’s preparatory negotiations with the Elders of Israel and especially of Benjamin, and his report thereon to David.

2 Samuel 3:17. Before Abner carried out David’s condition (the restoration of Michal), he had a conversation (דְּבַר־א׳ הָיָה) with the Elders of Israel, that is, the Northern Tribes with the exception of Benjamin—Both yesterday and the day before (= in times past) ye desired [= sought] David to be your king—a striking testimony to the fact that outside of Judah also there had been a favorable sentiment towards David, against which Abner had energetically established and hitherto maintained Ishbosheth’s authority. The existence of this favorable feeling towards David in the Northern Tribes is confirmed by 1 Chronicles 12:0.

2 Samuel 3:18. Now, then, do it, that is, fulfil your desire, recognize him as your king. As reason for this demand Abner refers to a “word of Jehovah,” which indeed in the form here given: I will save my people Israel, is never expressly mentioned as spoken “to David” (so the Vulg.); but it is to be regarded as the word applied in the prophetic tradition (which Abner, 2 Samuel 3:9, is well acquainted with) to David, with which Saul (1 Samuel 9:16) received this divine commission, which in its completeness could only now be fulfilled by David.32

2 Samuel 3:19. The special elaborate and pressing negotiations with Benjamin were necessary not only because this tribe had enjoyed many advantages from the royal house of Saul, 1 Samuel 22:7 (Then.), but in general because, though numerically the smallest tribe, it had hitherto had the honor of furnishing the reigning family; it was necessary to overcome the tribal ambition and the tribe-interest, to which Saul appealed, 1 Samuel 22:0. The “also … also” (גַּס־גַּם), which denotes mutualness (Ew., § 352 a), points out the close connection and relation between the negotiations carried on with Benjamin as the tribe most important for David, and the earnest conversation that Abner therefore had with David (“in the ears of David”) at Hebron. He “went,” namely, after these double negotiations, in order to bring Michal to David.—All that seemed good, that is, not their demands and conditions (De Wette, Then., Buns.), which does not accord with the context or lie in the words, but (since the negotiations referred to the recognition of David’s divine right to the kingdom over all Israel, 2 Samuel 3:10) the willingness to recognize him as king, the recognition of his royal authority.—[Patrick observes that David so effectually attached the Benjaminites to him that, though they had been Saul’s closest adherents, they became David’s warm friends, and never afterwards left him. However, comp. 2 Samuel 20:0.—Tr.]

2 Samuel 3:20. The twenty men, who accompanied Abner to David and for whom he prepared a feast, appeared “as representatives of all Israel, in order by their presence to confirm Abner’s overtures” (Keil).—[Patrick: The feast was not merely an entertainment, but of the nature of a league. Bib.-Com.: “It is remarkable that not a word should be said about the meeting of David and Michal.”—Tr.]

2 Samuel 3:21. The same quickness with which Abner carried out his resolution to go over to David (2 Samuel 3:12) fulfilled the required condition (2 Samuel 3:16), pressed the preliminary negotiations (2 Samuel 3:17 sq.) in order to inform David about them, he now shows in the further proceedings, that he may institute as soon as possible the solemn installation of David as king of Israel under formal conclusion of a covenant between king and people. The gradation in his following words: I will arise and will go and will assemble all Israel to my lord, is characteristic of the rapidity, excitedness and energy that we everywhere remark in Abner. He now for the first time calls David “his lord.” He will “assemble the whole nation (i. e. in its elders and other representatives) to the solemn covenanting.” This last was not to consist in the establishment of a constitution after the nature of a “constitutional monarchy” (Then.), which is wholly foreign to the theocratic kingdom, but the words: that they may make a covenant with thee mean: they are to vow to obey thee as the king given them by the Lord, thou promising to govern them as the theocratic king, through whom as His instrument the Lord Himself will rule over His people.—And that thou mayest be king over all that thy heart desireth, that is, not: “in a way or under conditions that thou canst accept” (Then.), but he is to rule as he desires; it does not, however, mean: “as thy soul desires” (Clericus), or “according to thy pleasure” (Dathe), because the conception of the theocratic rule excluded all arbitrariness from it, but “over all, according to which is the desire of thy soul,” that is, according to the Lord’s will and appointment, over the whole people and land. David had indicated the desire of his heart in his message to the Jabeshites. Abner was dismissed by David as his king who was in accord with his purpose. That he was now looked on by David and his adherents as thoroughly a friend, and received no harm from any body, is indicated by the concluding words: And he went in peace.

IV. 2 Samuel 3:22-39. Murder of Abner by Joab and his solemn interment by David.

2 Samuel 3:22. Instead of the Sing, “came,” referring to Joab as leader of the troop, Sept., Syr., Ar. render: “they came.” “From the troop” came Joab with the servants of David, who had undertaken an expedition for booty Whither, is not said, but probably outside the Israelitish territory near the tribe of Judah. In the incomplete organization of David’s court, such expeditions were necessary for the support of the large army. “Abner was no longer with David;” probably he had purposely chosen the time when Joab, with the army, was absent, to carry out his plan. “He had gone in peace” is repeated from 2 Samuel 3:21 in contrast with the hostility afterwards shown him by Joab, when (2 Samuel 3:23) on his return he learns that Abner had meantime been with David and had been dismissed in peace. [For the correction of the rendering of this verse in Eng. A. V. see “Text, and Gramm.”—Tr.]

2 Samuel 3:24. Joab’s reproach of David that he had sent Abner away—so that “he was now quite gone” (וֵיֵּלֶךְ הָלוֹךְ Ew. § 280 b)—supposes that Abner had only come with evil and hostile purpose. [Joab, of course, was afraid that he would be superseded by Abner, if the latter entered David’s service. He was younger and less renowned than Abner.—Tr.]

2 Samuel 3:25. Joab gives a reason for his charge of unwisdom against David in sending Abner away in peace: Thou knowest (or, as a question, knowest thou?) Abner, that ….. In a quick, passionate speech, for the truth of which he appeals at the outset to David’s knowledge of Abner’s character (against Thenius’ remark: “had David known what Joab here says, he would have acted differently”), he makes a threefold charge against Abner, with the intent of thereby branding him as spy and traitor. He declares that Abner came 1) to trick him out of his most secret thoughts. The verb (פָּתָה) means “to be open” (Ps. 20:19), Piel “to make open, persuade, get one’s secrets from him” (Judges 14:15; Judges 16:5); so here; 2) to learn David’s outgoing and incoming, that is, all his present undertakings, his whole action and course of life (comp. Deuteronomy 28:6; Psalms 121:8); 3) all that he will do, all his plans for the future.

2 Samuel 3:26. Without David’s knowledge (whether expressly in David’s name, falsely used by him, is not stated) he sends messengers and brings Abner back, making him believe, no doubt, that David had something further to say to him. The pit (or cistern) of Sirah, to which Abner had gotten when he was turned back, according to Jos. Ant. 7, 1, 5, distant twenty stadia [= nearly two and a half English miles] from Hebron, is now unknown; the name is perhaps to be derived from a verb (סוּר) meaning “to turn in” (Thenius), and denotes an inn or caravanserai. [According to others, so-called as surrounded with thorns, Sirim, סִירִים (Philippson).—Tr.]

2 Samuel 3:27. [Bib. Comm.: Abner’s conduct bespeaks his entire reliance on David’s good faith.—Tr.] After Abner’s return to Hebron, Joab met him in the gate of the city, and turned him “aside to the middle of the gate, in order to speak with him quietly.” Clericus: “made him turn aside, took him apart” (the Hiphil הִטָּה is transitive as in Job 24:4; Numbers 22:23). Joab could not speak with him in the way where people were going out and coming in. He had therefore to take him aside to the places in the gate-space, where, according to the oriental custom, men used to meet for private or public conversations and consultations. To the middle of the gate.—Joab drew Abner to the middle of the inner gate-space (which was no doubt roofed) between the places of exit and entrance, because it was not so light there, and one could better escape the notice of the passers-by, who, however, were probably not very numerous. Bunsen renders well: “made him turn aside (from the way) near the middle of the gate.” For Joab wished, as he made Abner believe, to talk with him “in quiet, undisturbed, in private” (בַּשֶׁלִי). There he stabbed him in the abdomen (הַחֹמֶשׁ, comp. 2 Samuel 2:23) [not “under the fifth rib,” as in Eng. A.V.—Tr.]. For the blood of Asahel his brother see 2 Samuel 2:23; that is, to avenge or punish the death of his brother. According to this it was an act of revenge for bloodshed. But Abner had not wilfully slain Asahel, but in self-defence, when the latter pressed on him, 2 Samuel 2:22 sq. But blood-vengeance was appointed only for intentional killing, and he was protected by law from it, who had killed a man unintentionally (Deuteronomy 4:41 sq.; Joshua 20:1-9). Joab’s deed was a murder, like that which he afterwards committed on Amasa, 2 Samuel 20:11. He thereby cast false suspicion on David (comp. 2 Samuel 3:37), whose friendly relation to Abner he yet must have known, since David no doubt informed him in their conversation (2 Samuel 3:24-25) of Abner’s true position. The avenging of blood was a mere pretext; the real ground of Joab’s deed was envy and ambition, as Josephus already rightly holds. He feared that Abner would take a higher position in the new kingdom than himself—especially would cut him out of the rank of general-in chief of the whole army. Grotius: “an equal and rival in military glory galled him.”

2 Samuel 3:28 sq. What David said of this crime. And when David after-wards heard of it.—The word “afterwards” (as the “David knew it not” in 2 Samuel 3:26) certifies that David had no share in Joab’s deed. David 1) declares his innocence of this murder. He distinguishes between himself personally and “his kingdom,” that is, his royal house, his “hereditary successors on the throne” (Thenius), who no more than himself could be visited with divine punishment therefor. Comp. 1 Kings 2:31-33. On the other hand, he affirms 2) that the righteous punishment of God in requital of this crime must fall both on the person and on the house (the posterity) of Joab. Let the blood of Abner turn, roll, plunge on the head.—This strong expression, instead of the ordinary “let it come,” answers to the enormity of the crime and the energy of David’s righteous anger. “And let there not fail,” literally “not be cut off, separated, exterminated” (יִכָּרֵת), so that it no longer exist, comp. Joshua 9:23. One that hath an issue (זָב), one that pines away miserably with seminal or mucous flow,—comp. Leviticus 15:2 sq., and a leper, see Leviticus 13:1-46, and one that holds the distaff.—The word (פֶּלֶךְ) means in Heb., Talm., Arab, only “distaff,” never “staff” (Böttcher), comp. Proverbs 31:19. Usually indeed the phrase is rendered after the Sept. (κρατῶν σκυτάλην) “one that holds a staff;” that is, a cripple, lame, or blind (the last by Aquila). But against this it is to be said with Böttcher that, apart from the fact that the word cannot be shown to mean “staff,” the phrase “one that holds a staff” does not necessarily denote a cripple, since the staff was held by “rulers and men of eminence (Judges 5:14; Genesis 38:18; Numbers 21:18), old men (Zechariah 8:4), travellers (Luke 6:3), shepherds (1 Samuel 17:40; Micah 7:14), and where a cripple is described with a staff, the expression is quite different (Exodus 21:19).” It is therefore better (with Böttcher) to take this as a contrast to the next described unfortunate strong warrior who “falls by the sword” = the weakly “spindle-holder, unfit for war.” “The Greeks also had their Hercules with the distaff” as a type of unmanly feebleness, and for a warrior like Joab there could be no worse wish than that there might be a distaff-holder among his descendants” (Böttcher). So also Vulg., Schulz, Maurer (after Proverbs 31:19 ). [In spite of this forcible and striking argument of Böttcher (which is also adopted by Thenius) it seems better to take the signification “crutch,” chiefly because the other terms of imprecation in this verse are all literal, and the term “distaff-holder” would be figurative. The rendering “crutch” or “staff” is adopted by Gesenius, Ewald, Philippson, Bible Commentary, and others, and may be given without violence to the Hebrew word, though in the one other passage in the Old Testament in which it occurs it means “distaff”—Tr.] And that lacks bread.—The indication of bitter poverty. These exclamations of David express no feeling of revenge (as indeed he undertakes no revenge or punishment against Joab and his house), but commit to the holy and righteous God the inevitable punishment of such a violation of the divine command. They are not “genuinely Jewish” (Thenius), but genuinely theocratic, as the expression of the clear, energetic consciousness of God’s punitive justice which maintains the laws of the moral government of the world and the foundations of the kingdom of God, and which here he wishes may exhibit itself on Joab’s house in a fourfold manner: in miserable, levitically unclean sicknesses, in despicable weakness and crippling, in violent death, and in bitter poverty. As to Joab’s violent end, comp. 1 Kings 2:28-34, especially 2 Samuel 3:31-33, and as respects the curse on his house, see Exodus 20:5. [The ancient Jewish writers regarded this imprecation of David’s as sinful. The text passes no opinion on it, but from the religious-theocratic point of view of the time, it would seem even necessary that the wrath of God should be specially and sharply invoked on so high-handed a crime, especially as David was not able to call the criminal to legal account.—Tr.] 2 Samuel 3:30. Supplementary remark of the narrator, who 1) confirms the fact that the slaying of Asahel by Abner was the ground (pretext) for the murder of the latter just related, and 2) adds the important statement that Joab’s act was not merely personal, but also a family-act: “Joab and Abishai slew Abner.” Abishai’s part in the affair is not related. Literally: “threw themselves on him,” the verb being used with Dat. instead of Accus., Isaiah 22:13 (Böttcher, Then.).

2 Samuel 3:31-39. David’s mourning for Abner. 2 Samuel 3:31. David said to Joab (as him who by his murderous act was chiefly and terribly interested) and to all the people that were “with him” (those about him), not merely to the “courtiers” (Thenius): Rend your garments, etc.—He ordered a public mourning with all the usual ceremonies (rending garments, putting on sackcloth, that is, rough mourning garments of haircloth, and lamentations for the dead). We must distinguish two principal acts: 1) The mourning not over, for, in honor of (Ew. § 217 l) Abner, but “before” him (לִפְנֵיּ), in the presence of his corpse; 2) the burial, 2 Samuel 3:31 b sq.: And the king David followed the bier.33 The word “king” is put emphatically first to indicate the official character that he as king gave to these obsequies, in order to show his personal deep sorrow for the death of Abner which concerned the whole people, and to stifle at the outset any suspicion that he had a share in it. His “tears at the grave” showed the genuineness of his grief to the people who shared in his trouble and wept with him. His elegy (2 Samuel 3:33-34) is the expression of the deepest sorrow over Abner’s innocent and shameful death. In reference to his guiltlessness he exclaims: Must Abner die as a worthless fellow dies?—as a nabal (נָבָּל), a fool; where this term is used of immorality and crime, these, like denial of God and godlessness (Psalms 14:1), are regarded under the point of view of foolishness; nabal always denotes hollowness, emptiness, insipidity (see Moll [in Lange’s Bible-Work] on Psalms 14:1), and signifies therefore somewhat more precisely “good-for-naught.” [The sentence may be paraphrased: is this the fate that the noble Abner was to meet, to die like a worthless fool? alas that he found so inglorious a death.—Tr.] But he was murdered in shameful wise also: Thy hands were not bound and thy feet not put into fetters—with free hands, with which he might have defended himself; with free feet, with which he might have escaped from overpowering force; without suspecting evil, he was attacked and murdered as a defenceless man, who yet might have defended himself. (De Wette (against the לֹא) wrongly renders: Thy hands were never bound, thy feet never put into fetters.) Only dishonorable, wicked men could so act. This lament of David increased the grief of the people, so that “they wept still more over Abner.”

2 Samuel 3:35. David’s grief is strongest and most enduring—he refrains entirely from food. Fasting often occurs as a sign of sorrow—see 2 Samuel 1:12. All the people (that is, as many as were present) came to cause David to eat bread—that is, not to give him to eat (De Wette), as 2 Samuel 13:5 (an impossible conception in respect to “all the people”), but to demand of him to take food. Josephus: “his friends tried to force him to take nourishment.” It was the custom for mourners to fast immediately after the death of their friends, whereupon their relatives and friends exerted themselves to comfort them, and persuaded them to strengthen themselves with food and drink, comp. 2 Samuel 12:16-17; 2 Samuel 12:20; Jeremiah 16:0. Perhaps the people here acted in accordance with this custom; but their demand may also be referred to the mourning meal that followed the burial. But David refuses with an oath;34 up to evening he will eat nothing. The expression of grief here reaches its culmination.

2 Samuel 3:36. The people took notice of it—namely, of his deep sorrow, and estimated this expression of his mourning as corresponding to the intensity of his grief. It pleased them, as35 all that the king did pleased all the people.—Thus he was not only freed from suspicion of share in the murder of Abner (2 Samuel 3:37). but won the love and confidence of the people.

2 Samuel 3:38. An echo of the elegy: Know ye not that there is a prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel?Not: “great prince” (Thenius, after Sept., omitting the copula), since the distinction between the prince=“army-leader” and the great man is perfectly appropriate. Abner was a “prince” by his distinguished military ability, which (as this exclamation intimates) David might have employed for all Israel; he was a “great man” by reason of his lofty qualities of character and virtues, his power of action, his courage, the honorable self-conquest he exhibited in turning from his previous false course of opposition to David, the obedience that he yielded to the will of God, and the zealous desire he showed to serve by deeds the true king of Israel. On account of his natural noble endowments and these moral36 qualities, Abner rightly seems to David to be a great man in Israel, not merely, therefore, in the incorrect sense in which the term has been applied to a Napoleon.

2 Samuel 3:39. The usual explanation: “but I am still weak….. and these men are too strong for me;” that is, as a weak young king I feel unable to bring a man like Joab to justice; I must therefore confine myself to an imprecation, and leave the punishment to God (Jos., Theod., Brent., Tremell., S. Schmid, Clericus, De Wette, Keil [Patrick]), is wholly untenable; for David could not and durst not so express himself. It would have been very unwise to acknowledge his fear and weakness in respect to Joab and Abishai; nor would it have been true; for he who had conquered Abner, by whose side stood 600 heroes, in whose grief over Abner’s murder all the people shared, no doubt had power to punish this crime; such a self-exculpation based on confession of weakness does not at all agree with the courage and fearlessness that form a fundamental trait of David’s character.—Against Ewald’s explanation: “I indeed now live in palaces and am crowned king, and yet the sons of Zeruiah are out of my reach,” it is to be remarked with Thenius that the word רַךְ [Eng. A. V.: “weak, tender”]) for whose meaning “well living” he cites Isaiah 47:1; Deuteronomy 28:54-56, is used in those passages in a bad sense=delicatus [luxurious, effeminate], and that the other adj. (קָשִׁים) cannot mean “out of reach;” and there is the further objection to this rendering that David had as yet no very splendid position, and his dwelling proudly in royal palaces is out of the question. Against Bunsen’s rendering: “hard, out of my reach” (Ex. 48:25), Thenius rightly remarks that hard and out of reach are two different conceptions, and that the former can be used only of things, not of persons. Böttcher translates: “And I am to-day easy, and am crowned king, but these men—are too rough for me,” and finds in the “easy” (רַךְ) a double contrast, on the one hand between David’s present comfortable circumstances and Abner’s sad death, and on the other hand between the easy disposition (natural in easy circumstances) inclined to pardon (as was lawful and right for the king), and the rough deed of the sons of Zeruiah. But 1) “we cannot suppose such a double meaning in the declaration” (Thenius), and 2) the history is in conflict with this supposition of royal well-living on the part of David, who with his men must have depended chiefly for their living on the booty taken in their incursions. Thenius alters the text37 after the Sept. and translates: “know ye not that… and that I am to-day weak and am raised to the position of the king. Those men… are harder than I. Jehovah reward,” etc. But the text of the Sept in the first third of the verse is too confused38 to allow an emendation of the Hebrew to be based on it. Nor could David yet have said: “I am raised to the position of the king.” Holding to the text, we might rather adopt Thenius’ explanation, according to which David, over against Abner’s greatness and importance for all Israel (which he had just affirmed), sets his own present situation, in which this distinguished man would have been of the greatest value to him, so that the sense would be: “How well in my situation could I have used such a man as Abner, I who have just been set on the throne! What these men have done I could not have done! (comp. 2 Samuel 16:10). But God will judge!” Yet in this explanation also a confession of weakness would be the chief point, which in David’s present situation is altogether improbable. David was actually not “set on the throne” in respect to all Israel; that does not take place till 2 Samuel 3:1. The little word “just” is put in. Before the whole people David has avowed the deepest, sincerest grief of heart for Abner by declaring that he would continue his fasting till the sun went down. Then follows in 2 Samuel 3:36-37 the parenthetical double statement of the impression that his conduct made on the people: they approved his feeling, and were firmly convinced that he had no part in the murder. It is then further related in 2 Samuel 3:38 (which connects itself with 2 Samuel 3:35) how David expressed to the narrower circle of “his servants” (that is, his immediate royal retinue) his grief at the loss that he and Israel had suffered by Abner’s death. In 2 Samuel 3:39 follows immediately the avowal of his disposition of mind, that he as king showed himself soft and weak, while those men showed themselves so hard. The contrast of “soft” and “hard” (here evidently intended) is thus fully preserved in respect not to the political situation, but to mental constitution. The meaning of David’s words would thus be: Wonder not that I so give myself up to grief. You know what a great man we and all Israel have lost. I am then soft and weak, I, an anointed king, while these men, the sons of Zeruiah, are in disposition harder than I. They (at least Joab) were obliged indeed to take part in the ceremony of mourning (2 Samuel 3:31); their hard, inflexible mind, whence proceeded the evil deed, showed itself in their mien and deportment at the ceremony. This gave David occasion to contrast his weakness, his absorption in grief with their hardness, a contrast that is sharpened by his comparing them with himself as king. The concluding words: The Lord will reward.… are the natural expression of the feelings and thoughts that filled David’s soul when he looked at their hardness and inflexible defiance (comp. 2 Samuel 3:29).


1. “The house of Saul grew weaker and weaker2 Samuel 3:1. This is the theme of the following narrative of Ishbosheth’s kingdom under Abner’s lead and guidance. In the first place, the heir to Saul’s throne appears as a very weak man, unfit to rule, without character or will, who is merely an object of Abner’s mighty, unlimited activity, and never (except for a moment in the affair of the concubine) attempts to take the position of subject [that is, independent agent] in respect to Abner. While David undertakes nothing of his own will and strength in order to overthrow the dynasty of Saul and gain the promised kingdom over all Israel, patiently waiting for the fulfilment of the promise given him, this fulfilment is already introduced by the fall of Saul’s house through its own weakness, and by its loss of the royal throne through the incapacity of its representative for the royal office, with the co-operation at last of Abner, who was still its only support. Ishbosheth appears as a will-less, weak mock-king in degrading dependence on the mighty, vigorous, heroic nature of Abner. When the latter, in reply to the charge made against him of high-handed and reckless proceeding against the royal house, breaks forth into anger, discarding all reverence for his royal master and openly announcing his defection to David, Ishbosheth has nothing to answer, because he fears Abner. Indeed in his utter helplessness Ishbosheth seems to have entertained the thought of sharing the royal dignity with David, being perhaps ready to cede to him the greater part of the power. At least he became Abner’s passive tool so far as to lend his hand to the fulfilment of the condition on which David was willing to yield to his proposals, namely, the restoration of Michal. “The Scripture presents in him a living example of how the sacredly held right of legitimate inheritance has no root when it is not ennobled by a vigorous personality. When the divine calling is lacking, no legitimate pretensions help” (P. Cassel, Herz. s. v.).

2. “David grew stronger and stronger.” This second statement also in 2 Samuel 3:1 is in respect to David the title of this section. While David bears himself patiently and humbly in respect to his royal interests, the spirit of the people, under the misrule of Ishbosheth, turns to him more and more in the desire that he may be king over the remaining tribes also (2 Samuel 3:17). Even the bearer and support of Saul’s kingdom, the mighty Abner, inclines secretly to him on the ground of his ever clearer consciousness and conviction that it is Jehovah’s will that the kingdom of Israel should depart from the house of Saul and pass over to David; till his rupture with Ishbosheth leads to his open transition to David’s side. Abner had indeed, against his better convictions, maintained his partisan position against David and continued his hostile efforts against him, and it was only after the overthrow of his hitherto unlimited power and the violence done to his self-esteem and ambition, that he came to the conclusion to abandon his position as David’s opponent; and certainly ambitious plans and views for his position in the new kingdom were not wanting in his transition to David and his energetic efforts for David. But all this could give David no ground to reject Abner’s offer; rather he was under obligation to employ this unsought change in Abner’s mind and position (which entered into his life as a factor permitted by the Lord) for the end (fixed not by himself, but by the Lord) of his kingdom over all Israel, the kingdom of Saul falling to pieces of itself, when the Dictator, who had furnished its outward support, left it. Abner’s defection from Ishbosheth and effort to gain from the whole people the recognition of David’s authority was an important preliminary step thereto. But further, by a wonderful providence of God, Abner’s shameful murder by the envious, ambitious Joab was to lead to this result, namely, that, after the Elders of the people had already shown themselves willing to recognize his authority over all Israel, the whole people gave him their love and confidence; “all that he did pleased them” (2 Samuel 3:36).

3. The realization of the plans and aims of the wisdom of God in the development of David up to his ascension of the royal throne in Israel is secured by the co-operation of human efforts and acts (like Abner’s and Joab’s), which have their ground not in zeal for the cause of the kingdom of God, but in selfish ends and motives of the self-seeking, sinful heart. Human sin must subserve the purposes of God’s government and kingdom.—The absolute freedom of control in the things of His kingdom takes the activity of human freedom into its dispensations, and weaves them into the fast closed web of divine arrangements and acts, in which they fulfil the plans of divine wisdom.—J. Hetz (Geschicht. Davids I. 309) remarks on 2 Samuel 3:18 : “Here also it is to be noted how, merely by preparing circumstances, the free actions of men have been forced to accord with divine declarations, of which fact this theocracy gives so many examples.”

4. David’s words concerning Joab and his house are no more the expression of revenge than the orders that he gives to Solomon in his last words (1 Kings 2:5 sq.) respecting the punishment of Joab for this bloody crime (against Dunker, Gesch. des Alterth. I. 386); but they express his moral horror at this evil deed, and at the same time the everlasting law of God’s requiting justice, which reaches not merely the person, but also the posterity (Exodus 20:5) of the offender. David (though, as theocratic king, he had the right to do it) does not himself execute the deserved act of divine righteousness on Joab, not, as the common view is, because he felt himself too weak in his royal office, but because he wished to avoid the appearance of personal revenge, especially now when Abner had just done him such great services. He therefore committed to the Lord the requital and expiation of this crime, 2 Samuel 3:39. This could be accomplished, however, only through a human instrument. The commission to this end he accordingly gave to his son Solomon (1 Kings 2:5 sq.), who, not as his son, as a private person, but as his successor on the throne and as theocratic king, had therein an official duty to fulfil. For “in the kingdom of God, in which ruled the law of earthly requital, such a crime might not go unpunished” (O. v. Gerlach).

5. In David’s ethical conduct in this important episode also, which immediately precedes his ascension of the promised throne, we see individual prefigurations of his humble obedience to the Lord, without whose will he will take no step in life. Under the strongest temptations to arbitrariness and violence, which were the rule with the ancient oriental princes, he maintains strict self-control, exhibits uniform circumspection, a wisdom and discretion cognizant of God’s ways, and does not permit anger at the deed of horror that had been done under his eyes to lead him to immediate, bloody punishment. We must guard against exaggerated demands on the morality of the Old Testament men of God, that we may not unfairly judge them by an improper standard, and that we may not pervert the truth of the divine development of revelation by confounding the stand-points of the Old and New Testaments. David’s invocation of divine punishment on Joab (2 Samuel 3:29) (wherein, indeed, we must distinguish between the eternal truth of the divine justice and the sinful element of subjective passion) is held by some to be unjustifiable from the Christian point of view. To this it is to be replied once for all, that David belongs to the Old Testament, not the New Testament economy, stands on the stand-point of the Law, not of the Gospel, and therefore is not to be ethically judged according to the New Testament stand-point.

[Dr. Erdmann’s remarks on David’s moral motives are determined in part by his interpretation of 2 Samuel 3:39, about which there is much room for doubt. It may be merely a confession of political weakness that he here makes privately to his friends, in which case his self-control is simply political sagacity. David had high moral and spiritual qualities; at the same time we must guard against the determination to find the loftiest theocratic motives in every act of his life. Dr. Erdmann holds that in 2 Samuel 3:39 David affirms his own softness of nature as reason for his deep grief over Abner, in contrast with the hardness of Joab. The objection to this is that it does not explain sufficiently why David immediately appends an appeal to God for the punishment of the doer of evil. Further, the reason assigned by our author for David’s failure to punish Joab (namely, his desire to avoid the appearance of revenge) seems unsatisfactory; nobody would have accused him of personal vengeance. To the usual interpretation Dr. Erdmann objects that a confession of political weakness on David’s part would have been unwise and untrue. But, what more natural than that he should make such a statement to a select body of friends; and that it was not true, we are not warranted in saying, since we do not know Joab’s power and position. The words of the Heb. may refer to political relations, and such a statement would accord with the whole history. It must be allowed, however, that the words are obscure.—Tr.]


2 Samuel 3:7 sq. The designs that God has with His chosen ones for the furtherance of His kingdom often have the way smoothed for them through human sins.—Single wicked deeds, proceeding from momentary passionate excitement, do often in God’s government give occasion for changes having important consequences.—Division among the opposers of God’s kingdom must subserve the furtherance of His aims, and on the contrary, discord among those who, on a like ground of faith, wish to live and labor for the same tasks in the kingdom of God must help the wicked one and further his aims.

2 Samuel 3:12 sqq. When an opposer of God’s word honestly turns, we should without reluctance give him the hand, without undertaking to pass judgment on the motives that are hidden in his heart.

2 Samuel 3:13. Where the honor of God and His holy ordinances are concerned, a man should guard his rights, and demand reparation of a right that has been impaired.

2 Samuel 3:17 sq. He who has left the ways of unrighteousness, upon which for a long time he had consciously or unconsciously gone, and returned to the way of truth and righteousness, will exhibit the sincerity of his change by a so much the more earnest striving to restore the damage done by his previous conduct, and to carry into execution the previously hindered aims of divine wisdom and love.

2 Samuel 3:23 sq. That there is a kingdom of evil is proven by the fact that a man’s turning from evil to good, which pleases God and is a joy to the angels, commonly excites bitterness and hate in wicked men, who see their aims and plans thereby interfered with, and awakens an envy and jealousy that does not shrink from the most wicked deeds.

2 Samuel 3:28 sq. The honor of one’s good name is too precious a possession to let even the suspicion cleave to it of participation in other men’s guilt. Manly honor demands that in every way, by word and deed and behaviour, one should set forth his innocence when the circumstances and relations give occasion to untrue and unjust accusations.

2 Samuel 3:33 sq. In lamenting the loss of great men who were prominent in advancing the kingdom of God, we not merely render to them the honor they deserve, but also praise God who gave them.

2 Samuel 3:36. That king will be most honored and loved by his people who walks in the ways of God, and by a noble disposition, magnanimity and hearty goodness himself awakens the nobler feelings of his people.

2 Samuel 3:39. In patience and humility must we refer to God the Lord the righteous requital for wicked transgression of His holy commandments. Indifference thereto makes one a partaker of like guilt.—[Comp. above at close of “Hist. and Theol.”—Tr.]

On 2 Samuel 3:8. Schlier: How many stand together and seem the most inseparable friends, so long as each hopes to gain his end; but only let this aim remove to a distance, only let it become manifest that a selfish or ambitious desire is not going to be fulfilled, and how soon is all rent in twain! For there is nothing that really unites men but the fear of God. No friendship is permanent and progressive that is not rooted in the fear of God.—[2 Samuel 3:9-10. Scott: While men go on in their sins apparently without concern, they are often conscious that they are fighting against God.—Tr.]—On 2 Samuel 3:16. F. W. Krummacher: It appears from this occurrence that, amid the wilderness of ruined domestic relations by which Israel was then overgrown, there was yet here and there to be found the flower of a true and inward love and fidelity. This bloomed in David’s house also, but not unstunted, and he has not remained untouched by the curse which God had laid upon the abomination of polygamy in Israel.—On 2 Samuel 3:21. “When a man’s ways please Jehovah, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.” Proverbs 16:7.

[2 Samuel 3:27. Henry: In this, 1. It is certain that the Lord was righteous. Abner had against the convictions of his conscience opposed David, and had now deserted Ishbosheth, under pretence of regard to God and Israel, but really from pride and revenge. 2. It is as certain that Joab was unrighteous. (1) Even the pretence for what he did was very unjust. (2) The real cause was jealousy of a rival. (3) He did it treacherously, under pretence of speaking peaceably to Abner, Deuteronomy 27:24. (4) He knew that Abner was now actually in David’s service.—Tr.]

[Robinson: 2 Samuel 3:33. Are we all, in our several stations, grieved for the wickedness which we are compelled to witness, and which we cannot prevent or remedy?

2 Samuel 3:39. Those who possess the highest authority cannot do all they would. We should compassionate rather than envy their situation.—Henry: 2 Samuel 3:38. When he could not call him a saint and a good man, he said nothing of that; but what was true he gave him the praise of, that he was “a prince and a great man.”

2 Samuel 3:39. This is a diminution, (1) To David’s greatness; he is anointed king, and yet is kept in awe by his own subjects. (2) To David’s goodness; he ought to have done his duty, and trusted God with the issue. Fiat justitia, ruat cœlum.—Taylor: Had he put Joab to death, public opinion would have sustained him in the execution of justice; and even if it had not, he would have had the inward witness that he was doing his duty to the state. For a magistrate to be weak, is to be wicked.… O what suffering—may I not even say what sin?—David might have saved himself from, if he had only thus early rid himself of the tyrannic and overbearing presence of Joab!—Wordsworth: He would have probably prevented other murders, such as that of Ishbosheth and of Amasa; and he would have been spared the sorrow of giving on his death-bed the warrant of execution against Joab, to be put in effect by Solomon. “Impunity invites to greater crimes.” “He is cruel to the innocent who spares the guilty.”—Tr.]

[2 Samuel 3:15-16. We pity a man who weeps in helpless and apparently innocent suffering. But consider a little, and it may appear that this is only the consequence of a wrong action he committed long ago (1 Samuel 25:44). Our pity is not thereby destroyed; but its character is greatly changed.

2 Samuel 3:17-18. How gracefully rulers can yield to the popular wish when they conclude that it is their own interest to do so. And how zealous some men will suddenly become to carry out God’s own will when their own places have been so changed as to coincide therewith!—Hall: Nothing is more odious than to make religion a stalking-horse to policy.—Tr.]

[2 Samuel 3:25. An ambitious and unscrupulous man is quick to discern, and ready to distort, the selfish aims of others. “Set a thief to catch a rogue.” And one who acts from impure motives exposes himself to be accused of grossly wicked designs which he has not at all entertained.

2 Samuel 3:27; 2 Samuel 3:30. O mad ambition, that pleads fraternal love and sacred duty to the dead as an excuse for the foul deed that removes a rival! (The principle of blood-revenge did not apply, for Asahel was killed in war; and if it had applied, Hebron was a city of refuge.)

2 Samuel 3:33-34. The bitterest fruit that even civil war can bear is assassination, a thing to awaken horror in every noble mind.—Tr.]

[2 Samuel 3:38. Abner, the soldier turned politician.—Or a sermon might be made on the general career and character of Abner. See 1 Chronicles 9:36; 1Sa 14:51; 1 Samuel 17:57; 1 Samuel 26:3-14; 2 Samuel 2:3., and the notes; and comp. 2 Samuel 4:1.—Tr.]


[1] הָלַךְ with Vb. or Adj. (1 Samuel 2:26) indicating progressive increase. Ges. § 131, 3, Rem. 3.

[2] חָזֵק is not=חָזָק “strong” (Böttcher on Exodus 19:19), but Partcp. or Verbal Adj.=“strengthening” (neuter), as נָּדֵל (1 Samuel 2:26).

[3][This rhyming in propositions and division is a somewhat common practice in Germany.—Tr.]

2 Samuel 3:7; 2 Samuel 3:7. The lacking subject “Ishbosheth” is supplied in 5 MSS., some printed EDD., and all the VSS. except Chald.; but this shows only that they regarded this name as the proper subject, not that it was originally in the text. Whether it stood originally in our Heb., or we have here a fragment of a fuller narrative in which the subject of the verb was indicated by the context, cannot now be determined.—Before “to his brethren,” in 2 Samuel 3:8, the copula “and” is inserted in all VSS. except. Chald., and in some MSS.—Tr.]

2 Samuel 3:7; 2 Samuel 3:7. In כִּילֶנֶשׁ the quiescent Jod instead of dagh. forte (as is frequent in Chald.). The origin of the word is unknown; comp. Chald. פַלְנִיםָא “vigorous beast,” perhaps “one that has reached years of puberty,” (Levy); but comp. Arab. falhas and uflud.—Tr.]

2 Samuel 3:8; 2 Samuel 3:8. This rendering of Eng. A. V., taken from the Vulg., cannot be well gotten from the Heb.; the translation in brackets is the one now generally adopted.—Instead of הִמְצִיתִי (for הִמְצִאתִי) “delivered,” Syr. has שׁלם and Sept. has ηὐτομόλησα = הִשְׁלַמְתִּי (Then.).—The change of Prep, after חֶסֶד (עִם and אֵל) is to be noted—Symmachus renders “dog’s head” by κυνοκέΦαλος “dog-headed.”—Tr.]

[7][2 Samuel 3:12. תַּחְתּוֹ Qeri תַּחְתָּיוְ. Two general renderings of this phrase are found in the Ancient VSS.: “in his place” (Sym.: “instead of him,” Vulg., pro se dicentes, Chald., “from his place,” Syr. omits it) and “on the spot” (Sept. παραχρῆμα, followed by Erdmann). The former best accords with the usage, and gives a good sense.—Tr.]

[8][2 Samuel 3:12. The difficulties in this text are 1) the double לֵאמרֹ “saying;” 2) the absence of the Art. Before אָרֶץ “land;” 3) the obscurity of this question. The Heb. text is supported by the VSS., except that the second לֵאמרֹ is omitted in Syr., Arab., and in a few MSS., and the second in Sept., and the Sept. text of the question is corrupt (the Vat. Sept shows an imperfect triplet: Abner sent messengers to David εἰς θαιλάμ οὖ ἦν παραχρῆμα, in which θαιλάμ seems to be corrupted out of תחתו למי, ο͂υ ῆν is for οῦ γῆν, while παραχρῆμα is translation of תחתי). It appears that the question and the second לאמר were not understood; Chald.: saying, I swear to him who made the land, saying—Syr.: what is the land?—The best course seems to be to omit the second לֵאמרֹ, and seek a meaning in the question.—Tr.]

[9][2 Samuel 3:13. Some VSS. and MSS. have “David,” which is merely the expression of the obvious subject;—Tr.]

[10][2 Samuel 3:13. As the Heb. stands it can only be rendered “except on condition of thy bringing,” (so Bib. Com. and substantially Erdmann); Böttcher’s suggested readings לִפְנַי “before” (adv.) and לְפָנַי “before me,” are dropped by himself as unnatural here. He and Wellhausen see a duplet in this text (כי אם and לפּני), which is not improbable, but not necessary. If, in that case, the latter be adopted, the Inf. of the text is retained; if the former, the Perf. must be read.—Tr.]

[11][2 Samuel 3:14. There is no need of inserting this Dat. in the Heb. text, since it is easily supplied from the context, and its omission is in accordance with Heb. usage. But in 2 Samuel 3:15 the suffix must be written אישָׁהּ “her husband.” Tr.]

[12][2 Samuel 3:15. Such is the form in the Qeri or margin; the Kethib or text has Lush, which perhaps means the same thing “lion.” Apparently by inversion the Sept. writes the name Selle.—Tr.]

[13][2 Samuel 3:17. Literally, “both yesterday and the day before”.—Tr.]

[14][2 Samuel 3:18. אֶל—so Sept., Syr., Arab., Keil, Cahen; but Vulg., Philippson, Erdmann “to David.” Thenius would read עַל “concerning” (as the context requires) on the ground that אל cannot so be rendered; but see Jeremiah 22:18.—Tr.]

[15][2 Samuel 3:18. The text has the Inf., which after אָמַר some would render “Jehovah said to save” = “said that He would save,” but this is hard on account of the intervening לֵאמרֹ. and the Impf. is now generally read with many MSS. and printed EDD., and all the Ancient VSS.—Tr.]

[16][2 Samuel 3:19. The נַּם “also” qualifies not the succeeding word “Abner,” but the preceding “spoke,” “went” (Wellh.).—Tr.]

[17][2 Samuel 3:20. The Heb. has no Prep. here, employing the Acc. of the point reached; but some MSS. and EDD. insert בְּ, and so all VSS. except Chald., which has לְ.—Tr.]

[18][2 Samuel 3:21. The Sept. has the first person, “I will make a covenant with him,” which is against the syntax of the context.—Tr.]

[19][2 Samuel 3:22. Lit. “from the troop (or predatory band),” so the VSS. except Aquila, who has “Geddur” (נדר) which he renders μονοζώνου or εὐζώνου. The Heb. expression is somewhat hard and obscure, but may have been a technical one.—The Heb. Perfects are here from the connection properly rendered by Eng. Plups. “had sent,” “was gone.”—Tr.]

2 Samuel 3:24; 2 Samuel 3:24. The Inf. Abs., the force of which cannot be exactly given in English. Perhaps the Sept. “in peace” here was designed as a rendering of this Inf., though it is not improbable that it is merely a repetition from the two preceding verses; it is therefore not to be inserted in the Heb. text (against Wellh.).—Tr.]

[21][2 Samuel 3:25. The phrase “the son of Ner” is omitted by Syr. and Ar., and its points are omitted in one MS. (224 Kenn.)—why, is not clear.—The Sept. rendering: “dost thou not know the wickedness of Abner?” is a weakening of the original; the Syr. also has the neg.-interrog. form, and renders very well “that he came to flatter thee.”—Tr.]

[22][2 Samuel 3:27. The Prep. is omitted in the text, but some MSS. insert אֶל, and so the VSS., according to the Heb. usage.—Tr.]

[23][2 Samuel 3:29. Böttcher and Erdmann (with Vulg. and Syr.) render: “one that holds a distaff,” that is, an effeminate man (Proverbs 31:19). See the Exposition.—Tr.]

[24][2 Samuel 3:30, Erdmann renders: “but Joab and Abishai had slain Abner,” as if the purpose of the verse were to give the reason for the murder. Wellhausen holds the verse to be an interpolation on the ground that it adds nothing except the inclusion of Abishai in the guilt in order to justify David’s curse on Joab’s family. It seems better, however, to regard the verse not merely as giving the reason for the murder (which is given in verse 27), nor as superfluous, but as a concluding summing up of the incident, as is so common in Heb. narration.—Tr.]

[25][2 Samuel 3:33. Sept.: “Will Abner die according to the death of Nabal?” taking נָכָל (fool) as a proper name. So in 2 Samuel 3:34 it has οὐ προσήγαγεν ὠς Νάβαλ, misunderstanding the כִּנְפוֹל of the Heb., which it read כְּנָכָל.—Tr.]

[26][2 Samuel 3:35. De Rossi cites a reading in some MSS. לְהַכְרוֹת “to make a feast” (2 Kings 6:23), which Kimchi said was written but not read, perhaps a clerical error.—Tr.]

[27][2 Samuel 3:36. כְּכֹל. Wellhausen objects that this כְּ cannot be rendered as a conjunction (as in Eng. A. V.), and therefore prefers the Sept., which omits the כְּ. Syr. accords with Sept., and Chald and Syr. insert “and” before בְּעֵינֵי. The reading of Greek and Syr. (“and good in their eyes was all that the king did, and good in the eyes of all the people”), however, contains a weak repetition, and something like the Heb. text is required by the connection.—Tr.]

[28][See 2 Samuel 21:8-11 and Genesis 36:24.—Tr.]

[29][It is supposed by some that Abner did not marry Rizpah, but used her as a harlot.—Tr.]

[30] הֱבִיאֲךָ (as elsewhere after לִפְנֵי) like the Perf., instead of the usual הֲבִיא׳(Exodus 23:30; Leviticus 23:14 sq.; Deuteronomy 4:28). לִפְנֵי here = “before.” Ew., § 238 d, § 337 c.

[31][Whether she was divorced from David does not appear.—Tr.]

[32]Instead of the Inf. הוֹשִׁיעַ read with all VSS. and many MSS. the Impf. אוֹשִׁיעַ.

[33][The bier (מִטָּה) was a bed-like structure, often magnificent. So Herod’s, Jos. Bell. Jud. I. 23, 9. See more in Comms. of Pat. and Philipps.—Tr.]

[34] אִם is asseverative particle = “if,” that is, “surely not;” כִּי introduces the oath.

[35] כְּכֹל. [On this see “Text and Gramm.”—Tr.]

[36][Of these moral qualities nothing is said in the narrative. Abner may have possessed them, but we know nothing about it. Our author's picture is the creation of his own imagination—Tr.]

[37]He reads וְאָנֹכִי to connect with the preceding וְכִי (καί ὅτι ἐγώ) and הַמֶּלֶךְ מוּקָם תַּחַת instead of מֶלֶךְ וּמָשׁוּח.

[38] συγγενής for רַךְ—probably corrupted from ἀσθενής (Böttcher)—and καθεσταμένος ὐπό βασιλέως alongside of καθεστ. εἰς βασιλέα.

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 3". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". 1857-84.