Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

2 Samuel 15:1

Now it came about after this that Absalom provided for himself a chariot and horses and fifty men as runners before him.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Ambition;   Candidate;   Electioneering;   Footman;   Usurpation;   Thompson Chain Reference - Ambition;   Worldly;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Chariots;   Judah, the Tribe of;  
Dictionaries:
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Chariot;   David;   War;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Guard;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Absalom;   Adonijah;   Ahimaaz;   Guard;   Harosheth of the Gentiles;   Judges;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Abiathar;   Absalom;   Court Systems;   Footman;   Runners;   Samuel, Books of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Absalom;   Chariot;   David;   Footman;   Guard Body-Guard;   Judges;   Samuel, Books of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Trial-At-Law;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Absalom;   David;   Jerusalem;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Ab'salom;   Sol'omon;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Hebrew Monarchy, the;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Absalom (1);   Decision;   Games;   Horse;   Samuel, Books of;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Absalom;   Horse;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Absalom prepared him chariots and horses - After all that has been said to prove that horses here mean horsemen, I think it most likely that the writer would have us to understand chariots drawn by horses; not by mules or such like cattle.

Fifty men to run before him - Affecting in every respect the regal state by this establishment. Of this man Calmet collects the following character: "He was a bold, violent, revengeful, haughty, enterprising, magnificent, eloquent, and popular prince; he was also rich, ambitious, and vain of his personal accomplishments: after the death of Amnon, and his reconciliation to his father, he saw no hindrance in his way to the throne. He despised Solomon because of the meanness of his birth, and his tender years. He was himself of the blood royal, not only by his father David, but also by his mother Maacah, daughter to Talmai, king of Geshur: and, doubtless, in his own apprehension, of sufficient age, authority, and wisdom, to sustain the weight of government. There was properly now no competitor in his way: Amnon, David's first-born, was dead. Of Chileab, his second son by Abigail, we hear nothing; and Absalom was the third: see 2 Samuel 3:2-5. He, therefore, seemed to stand nearest to the throne; but his sin was, that he sought it during his father's life, and endeavored to dethrone him in order to sit in his stead.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 15:1". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/2-samuel-15.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

And it came to pass … - The working out of Nathan‘s prophecy (marginal reference) is the clue to the course of the narrative. How long after Absalom‘s return these events occurred we are not told.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 15:1". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/2-samuel-15.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

ABSALOM KICKED OFF HIS REBELLION AGAINST DAVID

Promptly upon his being restored to favor by the king, Absalom initiated his campaign to seize the throne. It is hard to understand why David did not understand what Absalom was doing and terminate it, but he seems never to have been suspicious of Absalom's activities until his rebellious son had himself anointed king in Hebron.

ABSALOM'S CAMPAIGN AGAINST THE KING

"After this Absalom got himself a chariot and horses, and fifty men to run before him. And Absalom used to rise early and stand beside the way of the gate; and when any man had a suit to come before the king for judgment, Absalom would call to him, and say, "From what city are you"? And when he said, "Your servant is of such and such a tribe of Israel," Absalom would say to him, "See, your claims are good and right; but there is no man deputed by the king to hear you." Absalom said moreover, "Oh that I were judge in the land! Then every man with a suit or cause might come to me, and I would give him justice." And whenever a man came near to do obeisance to him, he would put out his hand, and take hold of him, and kiss him. This Absalom did to all of Israel who came to the king for judgment; so Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel."

"A chariot and horses, and fifty men to run before him" (2 Samuel 15:1). This ostentation by Absalom should have alerted David to his son's intentions. Throughout history, the first step of any man seeking to usurp power was to procure a bodyguard. Herodotus tells us how Pisistratus seized control of Athens by means of that very procedure.[1] It was unusual for Israelites to ride in chariots drawn by horses, and the practice was frowned upon by God's prophets. Samuel had warned Israel that their king which they demanded would, "Take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be horsemen, and to run before his chariots" (1 Samuel 9:11). "Absalom probably learned this kind of display from his grandfather the pagan king of Geshur, at whose court he had resided during the three years of his exile."[2]

By these bold actions, which were no doubt popular in Israel, Absalom was making a bid to become king eventually and to be received as the heir-apparent to David. "Fifty footmen running before him (in rich liveries we may suppose), thus giving notice of his approach, would highly gratify his pride and the people's foolish fancy."[3]

However, Absalom had no intention of waiting until his father's death in order to succeed him. "David had not taken any steps to designate a successor, and a rule of succession had not been established for the monarchy. The death of Saul and Jonathan had set a precedent against hereditary rule."[4]

"Oh that I were judge in the land" (2 Samuel 15:4). "He who himself should have been judged to death for murder had the impudence to aim at being the judge of others."[5] The arrogant conceit of this charlatan was not contained within any boundaries whatever.

"Then every man ... might come to me, and I would give him justice" (2 Samuel 15:4). "How much Absalom really cared for the rights of others may be seen in his arrogant and crooked dealings with Joab (2 Samuel 14:28-33)."[6]

"Whenever a man came to do obeisance ... he took hold of him ... and kissed him" (2 Samuel 15:5). This was Absalom's way of feigning an "equality" with the people; he interrupted their intentions to bow down before him by embracing and kissing them. No doubt this type of flattery won him many adherents to his cause.

"It is a mistake to suppose that David altogether neglected his judicial duties. We have just noted that the woman from Tekoa easily found access to the king's ears; and, besides that, the reason Absalom had to arise early is that it was an early hour when the king heard the suits brought before him. Note also that it was the plaintiffs who were on their way to the king's tribunal whom Absalom accosted, and whom he made to believe that he would have decided in their favor regardless of the merits of the various cases."[7] Absalom's conduct in this underhanded attack against his father was founded upon unscrupulous falsehood, deceit and hatred. Nevertheless, due to David's sins and the sorrows brought upon him by God's punishments, it must be considered very likely that to some degree David indeed had lost some of the concern and efficiency which once marked his efforts before the evil times fell upon him.

"Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel" (2 Samuel 15:6). His methods were the same as that of any demagogue; he promised everyone whom he met that he would give them what they wanted if only he were in authority. He pretended that he was interested in justice for every one. "He showed interest in the private lives of the people and made a pretence of protecting the poor and the lowly, insinuating that the government was incompetent and that if he were in power everything would be different."[8] All of this, of course, was as phony as similar pretensions by current seekers of political office, but the people were deceived by it, reminding us of the words of Voltaire who declared that, "The public is a ass"!

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 15:1". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/2-samuel-15.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And it came to pass after this,.... After the reconciliation of David and Absalom, and the latter was admitted to court again:

that Absalom prepared him chariots and horses; to make himself look grand and respectable among the people; perhaps he got these from his grandfather at Geshur in Syria:

and fifty men to run before him; which added to his pomp and magnificence; and such great personages in later time have had; Nero the Roman emperor never went on a journey with less than a thousand calashes or chariots, and a great number of men that ran before himF3Suetonius in Vit. Neron. c. 30. Vid. Senecae, Ep. 87. & 123. : and this was tacitly setting himself up for king, at least preparing for it, as Adonijah afterwards did in the same way and manner, 1 Kings 1:5.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 15:1". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/2-samuel-15.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

And it came to pass after this, that Absalom prepared him chariots and horses, and fifty men to a run before him.

(a) Which were as a guard to set forth his estate.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 15:1". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/2-samuel-15.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

2 Samuel 15:1-9. Absalom steals the hearts of Israel.

Absalom prepared him chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him — This was assuming the state and equipage of a prince. The royal guards, called runners, avant couriers, amounted to fifty (1 Kings 1:5). The chariot, as the Hebrew indicates, was of a magnificent style; and the horses, a novelty among the Hebrew people, only introduced in that age as an appendage of royalty (Psalm 32:9; Psalm 66:12), formed a splendid retinue, which would make him “the observed of all observers.”

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 15:1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/2-samuel-15.html. 1871-8.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

CONTENTS

This chapter opens with the subject of what may be considered as the foundation forming for Absalom's unnatural rebellion against his father. We are here informed of his courting popularity, - his open avowal of his seeking the crown - the party he formed - and his several operations in prosecution of his design. We read also, in this chapter, David's distress upon the occasion, and the sad state to which this rebellion of his son reduced him.

2 Samuel 15:1

(1) ¶ And it came to pass after this, that Absalom prepared him chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him.

The whole life of Absalom seems to have been sinful. He multiplies his train of horses and his chariots, with running footmen to grace his equipage; whereas the Lord had strictly forbidden this to his people Israel. Deuteronomy 17:15. Moreover, the Lord had told Israel by his servant Samuel, that the king they would choose, but not of the Lord's approbation, would be of this very character, to take pride in what the Lord had forbidden; and that he would oppress his subjects in the number of his chariots, horsemen, and servants. So that these things ought to have been enough to have made the people look shy upon Absalom; whereas it appears that so far from it, these tended to win their affections. See 1 Samuel 8:11, etc.

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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 15:1". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/2-samuel-15.html. 1828.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And it came to pass after this, that Absalom prepared him chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him.

Prepared — As being the king's eldest son, now Amnon was dead; for Chileab, who was his eldest brother, 2 Samuel 3:3, was either dead, or incapable of the government. And this course he knew would draw the eyes of the people to him, and make them conclude that David intended him for his successor.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 15:1". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/2-samuel-15.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

2 Samuel 15:1 And it came to pass after this, that Absalom prepared him chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him.

Ver. 1. And it came to pass after this.] Two years after, saith Josephus: all which while, Absalom had been hammering and hatching this following insurrection; God raising up evil against David out of his own house, as he had threatened, 2 Samuel 12:11.

That Absalom prepared him chariots and horses.] Pride buddeth, [Ezekiel 7:10] and ambition rideth without reins. Absalom will needs have a train and port like a prince and successor to the kingdom, so to dazzel the eyes of the common people, who are apt to judge of inward worth by outward gaiety, and to dote upon glittering shows, as they did upon Herod in his cloth of silver, [Acts 12:21-22] and upon Agrippa with his Bernice, when they came to the tribunal with a great deal of pomp. [Acts 25:23]

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 15:1". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/2-samuel-15.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

2 SAMUEL CHAPTER 15

Absalom stealeth the hearts of Israel, 2 Samuel 15:1-6. Under pretence of a vow obtaineth leave to go to Hebron: there with Ahithophel’s aid he conspires to be king, 2 Samuel 15:7-12. David fleeth from Jerusalem with all his men; leaveth ten of his concubines, 2 Samuel 15:13-37.

As being the king’s eldest son, now Amnon was dead; for Chileab, who was his eldest brother, 2 Samuel 3:3, was either dead, or manifestly incapable of the government. And this course he knew would draw the eyes and minds of people to him, and make them conclude that David intended him for his successor.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 2 Samuel 15:1". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/2-samuel-15.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

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.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 15:1". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/2-samuel-15.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

2 Samuel 15:1. Absalom prepared him chariots, &c. — When he thought he had established himself in his father’s good affection, he began to take great state upon him, set up, as we now speak, a splendid equipage, and was royally attended, as being the king’s eldest son, (now Amnon was dead,) and next heir to the crown. For it seems Chileab, who was elder than he, 2 Samuel 3:3, was either dead also, or, through some cause, was incapable of the government. Absalom undoubtedly designed, by taking this course, to draw the eyes of the people to himself, who, as they were much in love with his beauty, so were doubtless mightily taken with this fine sight of chariots and horses, especially as it was unusual, not being allowed by the law. David was, however, so indulgent that, it seems, he took no notice of it. And fifty men to run before him — An honour this such as his royal father had neither had, nor thought of. These, though attendants in appearance, were, in effect, guards.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 15:1". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/2-samuel-15.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Before him. Romulus instituted the 300 guards, whom he called Celeres, for the like purpose. (Calmet) --- Absalom's ambition could not wait patiently for the death of his father, who was not yet sixty years old, and had been first anointed forty years before, ver. 7. He looked upon himself as the heir apparent, Amnon being now slain, and Cheliab (or Daniel) either dead, as it is thought, or unfit for government, while Solomon was only eight years old. (Salien) --- The quality of his mother, and his own personal qualifications, made him despise his brethren, and he began to assume the equipage of a king. (Calmet) --- David considered this as only the effect of juvenile vanity, and he had not a mind to irritate him, without the utmost necessity. (Salien) --- Hebrew, "Absalom prepared for himself a chariot, (Protestants, chariots) and horses," &c. (Haydock) --- It is not certain whether he had any other horsemen but those who mounted the chariots. Horses were then very scarce in Israel. (Calmet) --- Adonias afterwards imitated his brother's ambition, during his father's life; (3 Kings i. 5.) so that evil was continually raised up against David, out of his own house, chap. xii. 11.

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 15:1". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/2-samuel-15.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

it came to pass. Compare Psa 3 and chapters 15-18. David was now fifty-six, Absalom twenty-four, Solomon six.

horses. A sign of his pride (Deuteronomy 17:16, Deuteronomy 17:20).

men. Hebrew. "ish. App-14.

run before. To clear the way. Mark of royalty or dignity. (Still done in Cairo.) Compare 1 Samuel 8:11, 1 Samuel 8:15. 1 Kings 1:5; 1 Kings 18:46.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 15:1". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/2-samuel-15.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

And it came to pass after this, that Absalom prepared him chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him.

Prepared him chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him, [ raatsiym (Hebrew #7323)] - running footmen. Persons of quality, who ride on horseback, and still more those who are conveyed in splendid vehicles, are preceded by one servant, or by several, who run before their masters, carrying a stick or baton, which they constantly wave about them, and strike right and left to clear the way, especially in the streets of Oriental cities, which are always narrow and crowded. These avant-couriers are called sais in Egypt. They are accustomed to run, and can keep on at a rapid pace with the equipage which they precede, for many miles without stoppage, their feet covered with dust, and frequently bleeding from wounds. In ancient times fifty of these runners formed the usual attendance upon royalty (see the notes at 1 Kin. ; 18:48 ). Absalom's engagement of this number of attendants was assuming the state and equipage of a prince. The chariot, since the Hebrew [ merkaabaah (Hebrew #4818)] indicates, was of a magnificent style; it is the word commonly applied to vehicles used by persons of rank and dignity (Genesis 41:43; Genesis 46:29; 1 Samuel 8:11); and the horses, a novelty among the Hebrew people, only introduced in that age as an appendage of royalty (Psalms 32:9; Psalms 66:12), formed a splendid retinue, which would make him 'the observed of all observers.'

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 15:1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/2-samuel-15.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

XV.

(1) Prepared him chariots and horses.—As a preparation for his rebellion, it was necessary to impress the people with his wealth and splendour. (Comp. 1 Kings 1:5, where Adonijah does the same thing.) This was the first use in Israel of chariots and horses as a part of regal pomp.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 15:1". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/2-samuel-15.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And it came to pass after this, that Absalom prepared him chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him.
A. M. 2980. B.C. 1024. Absalom
12:11; Deuteronomy 17:16; 1 Samuel 8:11; 1 Kings 1:5,33; 10:26-29; Psalms 20:7; Proverbs 11:2; Proverbs 16:18; 17:19; Jeremiah 22:14-16
Reciprocal: 1 Samuel 22:17 - footmen;  2 Samuel 3:3 - Absalom;  2 Samuel 16:2 - What meanest;  1 Kings 14:27 - guard;  Psalm 3:1 - when;  Psalm 86:14 - O God;  Psalm 132:1 - all his afflictions;  Proverbs 15:5 - fool;  John 12:15 - sitting

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 15:1". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/2-samuel-15.html.