Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

2 Samuel 18:6

Then the people went out into the field against Israel, and the battle took place in the forest of Ephraim.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Ephraim;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Forests;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Ahimaaz;   Ephraim;   Joab;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Absalom;   Ephraim;   Easton Bible Dictionary - David;   Ephraim, Wood of;   Forest;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Samuel, Books of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Abishai;   Amasa;   Ephraim;   Joab;   Samuel, Books of;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Forest;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Absalom;   David;   Ephraim;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Am'asa;   E'phra-Im, the Wood of,;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Ephraim;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Hebrew Monarchy, the;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Ephraim, Forest of;   Forest;   Gilead (1);   Wood of Ephraim;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Forest;  

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Against Israel - Implying that the revolt was in a great measure that of the ten tribes, Saul‘s party, against the kingdom.

The wood of Ephraim - This would naturally be sought in the west of Jordan (marginal reference). But on the other hand it seems certain that the scene of this battle was on the east of Jordan. It seems therefore inevitable to conclude that some portion of the thick wood of oaks and terebinths which still runs down to the Jordan on the east side was for some reason called “the wood of Ephraim,” either because it was a continuation on the east side of the great Ephraimitic forests on the west, or because of some transaction there in which Ephraim had taken part, such as the slaughter of the Midianites Judges 7:24-25, or their own slaughter Judges 12:6.

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Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 18:6". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/2-samuel-18.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

THE SLAUGHTER OF ABSALOM'S ARMY IN THE FOREST OF EPHRAIM

"So the army went out into the field against Israel; and the battle was fought in the forest of Ephraim. And the men of Israel were defeated there by the servants of David, and the slaughter was great on that day, twenty thousand men. The battle spread over the face of all the country; and the forest devoured more people that day than the sword."

"The forest of Ephraim" (2 Samuel 18:6). "This place is not otherwise known to us."[7] Keil was certain that `the forest of Ephraim' was west of the Jordan river;[8] Willis located it east of Jordan,[9] and there are excellent arguments that may be advanced supporting either view. My own opinion favors an east of Jordan site, because Absalom had crossed the Jordan with all those men (2 Samuel 17:24). And furthermore, David's men returned to Mahanaim that day after the battle ended; and that was east of Jordan.

If we may hazard a guess as to how the `forest of Ephraim' received its name and yet lay outside of Ephraim's territory (which was west of Jordan), it was from that disastrous defeat of Ephraim in that very forest by the troops of Jephthah, which slew forty-two thousand Ephraimites there (Judges 12:1-6).

"The slaughter there was great ... twenty thousand men" (2 Samuel 18:7). It is not difficult to account for this awful butchery of Absalom's men. They were surprised by the three detachments of David's army which fell upon them as they were marching, their weapons perhaps still in wagons for their conveyance, and David's hardened veterans simply butchered them by the thousands.

"The battle spread over the face of all the country" (2 Samuel 18:8). The panic which seized Absalom's forces scattered them for miles in all directions, but David's well-organized and disciplined men merely pursued them and executed them by the sword.

"The forest devoured more people that day than the sword" (2 Samuel 18:8). It is difficult to know how this verse should be understood. It may mean that another twenty thousand men were destroyed by the forest in addition to the twenty thousand men destroyed by the sword. Another possible understanding of it is that the forest destroyed so many because of the advantages it gave to David's men. "Because of the pits, precipices, and unevenness of the ground, more were slain in the pursuit through the forest than were slain in the battle itself."[10] Bennett understood the passage as meaning that, "Many fugitives lost their lives by falling headlong in the broken rocky country; and some, perhaps many of the wounded, died of hunger, thirst, and exhaustion."[11] Matthew Henry placed the total number of deaths at "More than 40,000; as the Chaldee paraphrast understands it, `the wild beasts of the forest were probably the death of multitudes of the dispersed and distracted Israelites.'"[12] However, one reads the place, the slaughter that day was indeed great.

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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 18:6". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/2-samuel-18.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

So the people went out into the field against Israel,.... JosephusF5Ut supra, (Antiqu. l. 7. c. 10.) sect. 2. calls it a great field, with a wood behind it:

and the battle was in the wood of Ephraim; or near itF6ביער "ad sylvam", Junius & Tremellius; "prope sylvam", Piscator. rather; not in a wood in the tribe of Ephraim, which lay on this side Jordan; whereas this battle was fought on the other side Jordan, in the land of Gilead, not far from Mahanaim, where was this wood; and which was so called, either from the slaughter of the Ephraimites here in the times of Jephthah, Judges 12:4; or from the Ephraimites feeding their cattle here and near it; for the Jews sayF7In Jarchi, Kimchi, & Abarbinel, in loc. , that Joshua gave them a grant to feed their cattle in any wood in any of the tribes of Israel; and lying near Jordan, they used to drive their cattle over to this place, from whence it had its name.

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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 18:6". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/2-samuel-18.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

So the people went out into the field against Israel: and the battle was in the c wood of Ephraim;

(c) So called, because the Ephraimites (as some say) fed their cattle beyond Jordan in this wood.
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Bibliographical Information
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 18:6". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/2-samuel-18.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

wood of Ephraim — This wood, of course, was on the east of Jordan. Its name was derived, according to some, from the slaughter of the Ephraimites by Jephthah - according to others, from the connection of blood with the trans-jordanic Manasseh.

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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 18:6". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/2-samuel-18.html. 1871-8.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

2 Samuel 18:6 So the people went out into the field against Israel: and the battle was in the wood of Ephraim;

Ver. 6. And the battle was in the wood of Ephraim.] So called, because it was opposite Ephraim; or because forty-two thousand Ephraimites there once lost their lives. [ 12:5-6]

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 18:6". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/2-samuel-18.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

2 Samuel 18:6. And the battle was in the wood of Ephraim It is supposed that this wood, which was in Gilead, not far from Maanaim, took its name either from the victory which Gideon gained over Oreb and Zeeb, kings of the Midianites, by the assistance of the Ephraimites, Judges 7:25 or from the great daughter of the Ephraimites here by Jephthah, Judges 12:5-6. The expression in the eighth verse, the wood devoured more people that day than the sword devoured, signifies that more perished in the wood than in the field of battle: their flight, as Josephus well expresses it, was more fatal to them than the combat.

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Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 18:6". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/2-samuel-18.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

So called, not from its situation in the tribe of Ephraim, which was on the other side Jordan, as is evident; but from some memorable action or occurrent of the Ephraimites beyond, Jordan; whether it was their killing of Oreb and Zeeb there, Jude 7:25 8:3, or their slaughter by Jephthah, Jude 12:5,6, or some other not mentioned in sacred Scripture.

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Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 2 Samuel 18:6". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/2-samuel-18.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

6.Against Israel — Alas! It was Israel against Israel. But it had come to pass that strong prejudices were manifest between the people of Israel and the men of Judah.

The wood of Ephraim — A forest evidently not far from Mahanaim, and probably near the Jordan, but its exact locality and the origin of its name are now unknown. Grotius conjectured that it took its name from the great slaughter of the Ephraimites recorded Judges 12:1-6; and the Jews have a tradition that Joshua, who was an Ephraimite, permitted the people of his tribe to pasture their flocks in this forest. Keil argues that it was on the west of the Jordan in the tribe-land of Ephraim, which, according to Joshua 17:15, abounded in wood. But as David was at Mahanaim, and Absalom in Gilead, (2 Samuel 17:20,) this battle doubtless took place on the east of the Jordan.

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Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 18:6". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/2-samuel-18.html. 1874-1909.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ephraim, where the men of that tribe had formerly signalized themselves, Judges vii., and viii., and xii. (Calmet)

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Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 18:6". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/2-samuel-18.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

wood of Ephraim. Compare Joshua 17:15-18

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Bibliographical Information
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 18:6". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/2-samuel-18.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

So the people went out into the field against Israel: and the battle was in the wood of Ephraim;

The battle was in the wood of Ephraim, [ ya`ar (Hebrew #3293), a forest, or dense growth of trees]. Its name was derived, according to some, from the slaughter of the Ephraimites by Jephthah (Judges 12:1-15); according to others, from the connection of blood with the trans-Jordanic Manasseh.

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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 18:6". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/2-samuel-18.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(6) The wood of Ephraim.—No wood of Ephraim on the eastern side of the Jordan happens to be elsewhere mentioned in Scripture. Yet it is plain that the battle must have been on that side of the river for the following reasons: (1) both armies were on that side beforehand, and there is no mention of their crossing; (2) David remained in Mahanaim (2 Samuel 18:3-4) with the reserves, for the purpose of succouring the army in case of need; (3) he there received the news of Absalom’s death (2 Samuel 18:24-33); (4) the army returned thither after the battle (2 Samuel 19:3); and (5) David was obliged to cross the Jordan on his final return to Jerusalem, and was met at the crossing by the tribes (2 Samuel 18:15, &c.). There is really no difficulty but such as arises from our ignorance of local names. The narrative clearly implies that there was a “wood of Ephraim,” otherwise unknown, on the east of the Jordan.

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Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 18:6". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/2-samuel-18.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

So the people went out into the field against Israel: and the battle was in the wood of Ephraim;
wood of Ephraim
The wood of Ephraim was evidently beyond Jordan, and apparently not far from Mahanaim; and it is supposed to be the place where the Ephraimites were slain by Jephthah.
Joshua 17:15,18; Judges 12:4-6
Reciprocal: 2 Samuel 19:8 - for Israel;  2 Samuel 22:44 - delivered

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Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 18:6". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/2-samuel-18.html.