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Bible Commentaries
2 Samuel 15

Whedon's Commentary on the BibleWhedon's Commentary

Verse 1

1. Prepared him chariots and horses Like Adonijah, who at a later period aspired to the throne. Many of these horses and chariots were probably those that David had captured in war.

Fifty men to run before him So that he affected royalty in its most ostentatious form.

Verses 1-12

ABSALOM’S REBELLION, 2 Samuel 15:1-12.

Absalom had a boundless ambition to attain the crown. There is reason to think that these aspirations were forming before the time of Amnon’s incest with his sister, so that that disgrace of Tamar was not the sole reason for his slaying Amnon. David’s firstborn was an obstacle in his way to the throne, and if he lived Absalom’s hopes must die. But now, with Amnon out of the way, and himself reinstated in the royal favour, he yet fears that he will fail to receive the kingdom by inheritance, and, too ambitious to await his chances in the future, he plots and carries out this bold rebellion, the history of which extends through the four following chapters.

Verse 2

2. The way of the gate The way to the gate of the city, along which persons having complaints were wont to come. The gate of the city was the well known place of the ancient court. Ruth 4:1.

Verse 3

3. Thy matters are good and right Thy case is a worthy and righteous one, and ought to be tried, and all thy grievances redressed.

No man deputed of the king to hear thee This was a charge against his father’s administration, and calculated to spread dissatisfaction among the people, The marginal reading, none will hear thee, from the king downward, is untenable.

Verse 6

6. Stole the hearts Insinuated himself into the affections of the people. Not only did the designing measures just mentioned assist him in this, but also his personal beauty. 2 Samuel 14:25.

Verse 7

7. After forty years This is an error in the text, for David reigned but forty years in all, (1 Kings 2:11,) and he certainly had reigned many years before Absalom’s rebellion. The Syriac and Arabic versions read four years, and with this agrees Josephus; and this, in the opinion of nearly all critics, is to be regarded as the true reading. The meaning is, four years after his restoration to the royal favour.

My vow Whether Absalom ever made any such vow as he here pretends is altogether uncertain. Most probably it was only a pretext to enable him the better to carry out his plans of rebellion.

Verse 9

9. Went to Hebron Where he was born, and where his father had first been anointed king.

Verse 10

10. Spies So called, says Keil, “because they were first of all to ascertain the feelings of the people in the different tribes, and were only to execute their commission in placers where they could reckon upon support.”

Sound of the trumpet The common signal to call the people together for purposes of war or self-defence. Jeremiah 4:5; Jeremiah 4:19.

Verse 11

11. Two hundred men… called Persons who had been personally and privately invited or “bidden” to attend the sacrificial festival which he proposed to make at Hebron. Compare marginal references.

In their simplicity In complete innocence, not knowing the designs of Absalom. This helped to hide from the inhabitants of Jerusalem the conspiracy of the prince.

Verse 12

12. Ahithophel the Gilonite So called from Giloh, his native city in the southern hills of Judah. In nothing was the strength of Absalom’s conspiracy more manifest than in his attaching to his cause a man of so much influence as this wisest of David’s counsellors. His counsel was as an oracle of God, (2 Samuel 16:23,) and nothing seemed to disturb David more than the information that Ahithophel was among his foes. 2 Samuel 15:31.

The manner of Absalom’s sending for him, as here stated, seems to indicate that he was already privy to the plot. He had perhaps become disaffected toward David on account of his seduction of Bathsheba, his granddaughter.

Giloh Somewhere to the south of Hebron, but its site is unknown. See at Joshua 15:51.

While he offered sacrifices That is, while Absalom was offering the sacrifices connected with the festival which he made for his followers. “When we reflect,” says Ewald, “that the men who played the most important parts under Absalom his general, Amasa, who was a near relative of Joab and of David, and Ahithophel, a citizen of Giloh belonged to the tribe of Judah, and that the insurrection itself sprung into being at Hebron, the ancient capital of Judah, it becomes certain that some discontent in David’s own tribe here came into play.”

Verse 14


14. Arise, and let us flee His deep consciousness of that guilt which brought all this evil upon him unmanned him in the hour of danger, and that mighty warrior, whose sword had subdued all the nations around him, now for the first time turns his back to the foe. But, as Nathan had forewarned him, the evil was in his own house, (2 Samuel 12:11,) and he felt there was no safety for him at his home.

Verse 16

16. After him Hebrew, as margin, at his feet; that is, in his train. Compare Judges 4:10, and references.

Verse 17

17. A place that was far off Literally, a house of the distance. A place outside of the city in the Kidron valley.

Verse 18

18. Cherethites See note on 2 Samuel 8:18.

The Gittites, six hundred men That old, tried, and faithful band whom he had gathered around him principally when he enjoyed the protection of the king of Gath, (1 Samuel 27:2,) and from that land of their refuge ever after bore the name of Gittites. We need not suppose that these Gittites were all Philistines from Gath, and all foreigners who had become proselytes to the Jewish religion. But it is very likely that most of these six hundred were of foreign birth. As one after another of the old warriors died, the king, perhaps to perpetuate old associations, filled up their places with men from Gath. See note on 2 Samuel 8:18.

Verse 19

19. Ittai the Gititte A stranger and exile, probably from Gath, who had very recently attached himself to David, and brought with him his family, and a large number of his relatives or fellow-countrymen.

Return to thy place The place set apart for his residence in Jerusalem.

Abide with the king That is, with Absalom. David says this to test his loyalty.

Verse 20

20. Take back thy brethren These brethren are not to be regarded as identical with the six hundred Gittites mentioned above, but as a number of Ittai’s fellow-exiles, and perhaps blood relatives, who had been forced to leave their country for some cause now unknown.

Verse 21

21. Ittai answered This answer, so solemn and so full of loyalty to David, won for him such a place in the king’s heart that he subsequently advanced him to the command of a third part of his army, and made him a peer of Joab and Abishai. See 2 Samuel 18:2.

Verse 22

22. All his men The brethren of 2 Samuel 15:20.

Verse 23

23. The brook Kidron This mountain ravine commences a little more than a mile northwest of Jerusalem, runs more than a mile in an easterly direction, and then turns southward and passes directly below the walls of the city on the east. To the south of the city it joins with the valley of Hinnom, and runs off in a southeasterly direction, through a deep, wild gorge, to the Dead Sea. It contains the bed of a streamlet, but no water runs in it except after heavy rains have fallen on the surrounding hills.

Toward the way of the wilderness The way that led through the wild desert of Judah, which lay between Jerusalem and the Jordan, and extended south along the Dead Sea.

Verse 24

24. Zadok See 2 Samuel 8:17, and note on 2 Samuel 6:17.

Bearing the ark They felt it would not do to let this holy shrine fall into the hands of the conspirators.

Abiathar went up Went up the ascent of Mount Olivet, leading a vast concourse of the people, until, from its side or summit, he saw the end of the procession outside the city. Here we see that Zadok and Abiathar, though at the head of different establishments, were sometimes together, and acted conjointly in the priesthood. On this occasion it seems that Zadok accompanied the ark, and remained by it while it rested in the Kidron valley, while Abiathar marched on at the head of the procession of people.

Verse 27

27. Art not thou a seer Luther, after the Vulgate, renders the words as an exclamation, Thou seer! On the word, see 1 Samuel 9:9. As seer he could best serve the king by remaining in Jerusalem, and thence secretly sending him word of all that might be of advantage to him to know.

Verse 28

28. I will tarry in the plain of the wilderness This could be none other than the plain of Jericho. 2 Kings 25:5. But the text reads עברית , which in the singular is rendered, 2 Samuel 19:18, a ferry-boat; and it is best to regard the plural, both here and in 2 Samuel 17:16, as equivalent to מעברות , crossing places, or fords. The crossing places of the desert would be the fords of the Jordan, which were on the eastern border of the desert. Furst renders it, in the outermost sides of the steppe.

Verse 30

30. Head covered… barefoot… weeping Thus both the king and his people in deep self-abasement humble themselves before the penal chastisements of God.

Verse 31


31. Turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness This was spoken in allusion to the meaning of the name Ahithophel brother of folly. David dreaded the far-reaching counsel of this wisest of his former friends. See note on 2 Samuel 15:12.

Verse 32

32. To the top Of Mount Olivet.

Where he worshipped God “Though in danger of his life he stops for prayer! How true is the adage, ‘Prayer and provender never hinder any man’s journey!’” Clarke.

Hushai the Archite Like Ahithophel he was one of David’s friends and counsellers, and a native of Archi, a place north of Jerusalem and not far from Ataroth. Joshua 16:2.

Verse 33

33. A burden From which we infer that Hushai was now an old man Compare 2 Samuel 19:35.

Verse 34

34. Say unto Absalom The artifices here planned must not be regarded as rules for moral conduct, but as the stratagems of war. Hushai was commissioned to use deceit to blind the eyes of Absalom and defeat the counsel of Ahithophel. How well he succeeded in this is shown in 2 Samuel 17:1-14.

Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 15". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/2-samuel-15.html. 1874-1909.
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