Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

2 Samuel 17:13

If he withdraws into a city, then all Israel shall bring ropes to that city, and we will drag it into the valley until not even a small stone is found there."
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Ahithophel;   Armies;   Council;   Diplomacy;   Falsehood;   Friendship;   Spies;   Strategy;   War;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Prudence;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Ahithophel;   Amasa;   Hushai;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Absalom;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Friend, Friendship;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Ahithophel;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Samuel, Books of;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Ahithophel ;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Absalom;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Ahith'ophel;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Hebrew Monarchy, the;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Rope;   Stone;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Absalom;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Shall all Israel bring ropes to that city - The original word חבלים chabalim, which signifies ropes, and from which we have our word cable, may have some peculiarity of meaning here; for it is not likely that any city could be pulled down with ropes. The Chaldee, which should be best judge in this case, translates the original word by משרין mashreyan, towers: this gives an easy sense.

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 17:13". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/2-samuel-17.html. 1832.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Moreover, if he be gotten into a city,.... A strong fortified place, thinking to secure himself there, where he might hold out against those that were risen against him; the former part of the account supposes him in the field, where he would soon be detected, if hidden in a pit or any other place, or if he appeared openly would quickly be overthrown by the numerous forces of Absalom; and here it suggests, should he betake himself to a city for shelter:

then shall all Israel bring ropes to that city; scaling ropes, and thereby get upon and over the walls of it, and take it by storm; or engines worked with ropes, used for the demolishing of cities; so Tacitus speaks of "vincula tormentorum", the bands or ropes of engines, as Grotius observes; the Targum renders it by "armies", thus,"all Israel shall be gathered against the city, and surround it with armies,'besiege it in form, and so surround it that David could not possibly make his escape out of it, nor could it hold out long against such numerous forces; or this is an hyperbolical expression, as Kimchi calls it, signifying that their numbers would be so many, that they could soon and easily demolish it:

and we will draw it into the river; by the side of which it was built, or the ditch or trench around it, or the valley near it, that being built on an hill; and by this boasting, bragging, hyperbolical expression, he signifies that they should be able easily and utterly to destroy its walls, buildings, and towers, as if a number of men were to fasten a rope about anything, and by their main strength, and through their numbers, draw it down whither they pleased:

until there be not one small stone found there; and this being the case, David and his men must inevitably fall into their hands, and none escape.

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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 17:13". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/2-samuel-17.html. 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

all Israel shall bring ropes to that city — In besieging a town, hooks or cranes were often thrown upon the walls or turrets, by which, with ropes attached to them, the besiegers, uniting all their force, pulled down the fortifications in a mass of ruins.

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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 17:13". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/2-samuel-17.html. 1871-8.

Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary

“And if he draw back into a city, all Israel lays ropes to that city, and we drag it to the brook, till there is not even a little stone found there.” עד־הנּחל : inasmuch as fortified cities were generally built upon mountains. צרור signifies a little stone, according to the ancient versions. Hushai speaks in hyperboles of the irresistible power which the whole nation would put forth when summoned together for battle, in order to make his advice appear the more plausible.

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The Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.
Bibliographical Information
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 17:13". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kdo/2-samuel-17.html. 1854-1889.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Moreover, if he be gotten into a city, then shall all Israel bring ropes to that city, and we will draw it into the river, until there be not one small stone found there.

Bring ropes — It is an hyperbolical expression, suited to the vain-glorious temper of this insolent young man: implying, that they would do so if they could not destroy him another way: or, that they should be enough to do so, if there were occasion.

River — Adjoining to the city; it being usual to build cities near some river, both for defence, and for other accommodations.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 17:13". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/2-samuel-17.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

2 Samuel 17:13 Moreover, if he be gotten into a city, then shall all Israel bring ropes to that city, and we will draw it into the river, until there be not one small stone found there.

Ver. 13. Then shall all Israel bring ropes,] i.e., With warlike engines we will as easily demolish it, as we would draw a great weight down a hill. A proverbial kind of speech, as Psalms 83:14.

And we will draw it into the river.] As Queen Elizabeth once threatened to do Leghorn into the sea, if the duke of Florence - that duke of Clouts, as she called him - did not by such a day disembark her merchants’ ships, which he then upon some pretence detained.

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 17:13". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/2-samuel-17.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

2 Samuel 17:13. Then shall all Israel bring ropes to that city The meaning of this exaggerated threat, which Hushai seems to employ in conformity with the taste of a young and vain prince, appears to be, that they would come before that city into which David would betake himself, with those cranes or hooks which the ancients were wont to throw upon the battlements of walls, and with which, by the help of ropes fastened to them, they used to pull them down piecemeal into the rivers or trenches, filled with water, which encompassed them.

REFLECTIONS.—Absalom, in triumph, being entered into his father's deserted palace, (such changes do these sublunary kingdoms undergo,) consults next how to finish what seemed so happily begun. A council is summoned the same day, after the above-mentioned abomination was over; and David's ruin being resolved, the question is, how to accomplish it.

1. Ahithophel speaks according to his place, and with his wonted sagacity: and wiser and more wicked counsel could not be given. He is for an immediate pursuit, falling upon the fugitives, weary and dispirited, and making an easy conquest; he offers himself to be the leader, and asks only twelve thousand men to execute his design, nor doubts but with one stroke to put an end to the contest, by smiting the king and letting the people go, who would then peaceably submit to Absalom's government. Thus the man (so he calls him, neither king nor father) whom he sought, would be removed, and his throne established without a rival. The scheme is so feasible and desirable, that this bloody son is delighted with it, and, astonishing to tell! not one of the elders of Israel expresses his disapprobation, but they advise, according to Ahithophel's counsel, its immediate execution. Note; (1.) The best of kings, and best of fathers, may be unhappy enough to find rebellious subjects, and unnatural children. (2.) They who are once involved in sin, are driven deeper and deeper, till the most horrid crimes become necessary, as it were, to insure their own safety. (3.) Delays are dangerous in every cause, while expedition usually ensures success.

2. Before this advice is put in execution, Absalom moves to call for Hushai, and hear his opinion, or rather, have his concurrence in the matter; thus God, by the secret working of his providence, in the critical moment wards off the imminent danger, and, as it seems, inevitable ruin. Hushai appears, and Absalom bids him speak his opinion on Ahithophel's advice, which, with great appearance of argument and zeal for the cause, he gives; he opens with the admission of Ahithophel's wisdom; but though, in general, he must pay submission and deference to his sagacity, he at present is obliged to differ from him, and that on the following plausible reasons: David was not so easily to be smitten as Ahithophel seemed to suggest; he was well known to be a mighty man; and when, if not now, would he exert himself? Nor were his forces so few or despicable as were represented; they were a considerable body, and all men of approved valour, not to be daunted at danger, and much more inured to war than their raw undisciplined troops; and in their present situation, fired with resentment, nay, armed with despair, would fight like bears robbed of their whelps: nor was it at all probable that David would be surprized; provident against danger, he, with some chosen body acquainted with every cave and hold, was safe from surprize, and ready to sally out as from an ambush. Such an attack might make even Ahithophel's lion-like heart to fail, at least his small body of troops to flee, and the consequence of such a repulse might be fatal to the cause; for should it be noised that Absalom's forces were routed, the people would be dispirited and in danger of deserting him. His advice therefore is, to gather all the forces from Dan to Beersheba, and put himself at the head of them: with such an army, and under such a leader, nothing could be hazarded. If David and his men were in the field, thick as the drops of dew they would light upon him, and not a man could escape; or if he took refuge in a walled city, such a host would in an instant scale the walls, or even with ropes draw the battlements into the ditch, or the adjoining river, as easily as a log of wood. Thus Absalom's pride was flattered, and his success ensured, not without a secret reflection on Ahithophel's rashness; the advice easily took, God having infatuated their minds, and Absalom and his council gave it for Hushai, impolitic and improbable as his suggestions were. Note; (1.) They take counsel in vain who aim at the ruin of God's church and people. (2.) God has secret ways of diverting the fatal blows aimed by our spiritual enemies at our helpless souls.

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Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 17:13". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/2-samuel-17.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Then shall all Israel bring ropes to that city; not that they should do so, or that it was the custom to do so; but it is an hyperbolical and thrasonical expression, suited to the vain-glorious temper of this insolent young man; and therefore most likely to prevail with him; implying that they would do so if they could not discover and destroy him another way; or that they should be enough to do so, if there were occasion. We will draw it into the river, adjoining to the city; it being usual to build cities near some river, both for defence, and for other accommodations.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 2 Samuel 17:13". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/2-samuel-17.html. 1685.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

2 Samuel 17:13. If he be gotten into a city, &c. — If he should take refuge for more security in any one of the cities of Israel, they would have numbers sufficient to pull it down, stone by stone, about his ears. The expression in the original is very remarkable, but hyperbolical, suited to the vain-glorious temper of this insolent young man. Then shall all Israel bring ropes to that city, and we will draw it into the river — The meaning of which threat seems to be this: that they would come before that city with those cranes, or hooks, which the ancients were wont to throw upon the battlements of walls, and with which, by the help of ropes fastened to them, they were wont to pull them down piecemeal into the rivers and trenches, (filled with water,) which encompassed or adjoined to them; it being usual to build cities near some river, both for defence and other accommodations.

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Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 17:13". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/2-samuel-17.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ropes, armed with hooks, to pull down the walls, and to move the battering engines. All the discourse of Chusai tends to fill the mind of the young prince with vanity; as if he could overcome all opposition when surrounded with the armies of Israel, (Calmet) at the head of which he would appear, instead of Achitophel, ver. 1. (Menochius)

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Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 17:13". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/2-samuel-17.html. 1859.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Moreover, if he be gotten into a city, then shall all Israel bring ropes to that city, and we will draw it into the river, until there be not one small stone found there.

Then shall all Israel bring ropes to that city. In besieging a town, hooks or cranes were often thrown upon the walls or turrets, by which, with ropes attached to them, the besiegers, uniting all their force, pulled down the fortifications in a mass of ruins.

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 17:13". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/2-samuel-17.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(13) Bring ropes to that city.—Hushai here makes use of hyperbole to show the irresistible power of all Israel united, and therefore the certain success of his plan. This was pleasing to the vanity and dazzling to the imagination of Absalom.

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Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 17:13". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/2-samuel-17.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Moreover, if he be gotten into a city, then shall all Israel bring ropes to that city, and we will draw it into the river, until there be not one small stone found there.
bring ropes
In the same manner the king of Maturan, in Java, proposed pulling down a tower which the Dutch had built, by making his people and elephants pull at a number of chains, and ropes of cocoa-nut bark, thrown around it.
one small
Matthew 24:2
Reciprocal: Joshua 10:19 - suffer them;  1 Kings 20:10 - if the dust;  2 Kings 19:24 - with the sole

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Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 17:13". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/2-samuel-17.html.