Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

2 Samuel 2:14

Then Abner said to Joab, "Now let the young men arise and hold a contest before us." And Joab said, "Let them arise."
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Abner;   Armies;   Championship;   David;   Israel;   Joab;   War;   Scofield Reference Index - Kingdom;   Thompson Chain Reference - Abner;   Amusements;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Gibeon;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Abner;   Joab;   Sport;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Gibeon;   Joab;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - War;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Games;   Gibeon;   Helkath-Hazzurim;   Samuel, Books of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Abner;   Games;   Joab;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Ishbosheth ;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Joab;   Play;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Gibeon;   Hebron;   Smith Bible Dictionary - War;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Hagar;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Games;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Abner;   Ish-Bosheth;   Samuel, Books of;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Let the young men - play before us - This was diabolical play, where each man thrust his sword into the body of the other, so that the twenty-four (twelve on each side) fell down dead together! But this was the signal for that sanguinary skirmish which immediately took place.

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 2:14". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/2-samuel-2.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Play - (Compare Judges 16:25; 1 Samuel 18:7). Here, the word is applied to the serious game of war, to be played by twelve combatants on each side, with the two armies for spectators.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 2:14". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/2-samuel-2.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And Abner said to Joab,.... Perceiving he made no motion towards an engagement with him, his orders from David being only to act on the defensive, and avoid as much as possible the effusion of blood:

let the young men now arise, and play before us; with their swords after the manner of gladiators or duellers; that it might appear who were best skilled in the use of the sword, and who were the bravest, stoutest, and most courageous; and this he proposed in a way of bravado, and in order to bring on a battle, or to decide the quarrel between them; and this bloody barbarous exercise Abner calls play, as if it was a diversion and pastime to see men wounding and killing one another:

and Joab said, let them arise; he accepted the challenge, not caring to be hectored and bullied by Abner.

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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 2:14". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/2-samuel-2.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

And Abner said to Joab, Let the young men now arise, and h play before us. And Joab said, Let them arise.

(h) Let us see how they can handle their weapons.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 2:14". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/2-samuel-2.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Abner said to Joab, Let the young men now arise, and play before us — Some think that the proposal was only for an exhibition of a little tilting match for diversion. Others suppose that, both parties being reluctant to commence a civil war, Abner proposed to leave the contest to the decision of twelve picked men on either side. This fight by championship instead of terminating the matter, inflamed the fiercest passions of the two rival parties; a general engagement ensued, in which Abner and his forces were defeated and put to flight.

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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 2:14". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/2-samuel-2.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And Abner said to Joab, Let the young men now arise, and play before us. And Joab said, Let them arise.

And play — That is, shew their prowess and dexterity in fighting together. He speaks like a vain-glorious and cruel man, and a soldier of fortune, that esteemed it a sport to see men wounding and killing one another. So this he designed, partly for their mutual recreation and trial of skill; and partly, that by this occasion they might be engaged in a battle. But he is unworthy the name of a man, who is thus prodigal of human blood.

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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 2:14". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/2-samuel-2.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

2 Samuel 2:14 And Abner said to Joab, Let the young men now arise, and play before us. And Joab said, Let them arise.

Ver. 14. Let the young men now arise, and play before us,] i.e., Spectaculi causa pugnent, let them hack and hew one another, to make us sport; as the sword players did among the Romans, till good Theodosius forbade that bloody pastime, as hateful to God, and abhorred of all good men. At the taking of Tripolis in Barbary, the Turks, having in their hands one John de Chabis, a Frenchman, brought him into the town, and when they had cut off his hands and his nose, put him quick into the ground to the waist, and there, for their pleasure, shot at him with their arrows; and afterwards cut his throat. (a) The Spaniards day by day, for their pleasure, whip the poor Indians with cords, and drop their naked bodies with burning bacon; this being one of the least cruelties they exercise upon those wretches, to make themselves merry in the others’ misery.

Let them arise.] Joab was true touch, as they call it, and soon accepted the challenge: but better he had not; for the issue was bloody. Many martialists, fleshed with such horrid acts and aspects, make little reckoning of bloodshed. O formosum spectaculum! Oh, brave sight! said Hannibal, when he saw a pit full of men’s blood. O rem regiam! Oh, kingly act! said Valesus, when he had slain three hundred men.

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 2:14". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/2-samuel-2.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

2 Samuel 2:14. Let the young men now arise, and play before us The word rendered play signifies to conflict, or contend together. See Parkhurst on שׂחק sachak. It seems most probable, that Joab was ordered to act only upon the defensive, David having sworn not to destroy the family of Saul. 1 Samuel 24:22. In all likelihood, this was only a scheme of Abner's to pique Joab, and draw on the battle. Josephus understands the proposal as a trial of skill, to shew who had the best disciplined or bravest soldiers. Antiq. lib. vii. c. 1. and see Dr. Shaw's Travels, part ii. p. 250.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 2:14". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/2-samuel-2.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Abner trusting to his greater numbers, offers battle.

Play before us, i.e. show their prowess and dexterity in managing their weapons, and fighting together. He speaks like a vain-glorious and cruel man, and a soldier of fortune, that esteemed it a sport to see men wounding and killing one another. So this he designed, partly for their mutual recreation, and trial of skill and valour; and partly that by this occasion they might be engaged in a battle.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 2 Samuel 2:14". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/2-samuel-2.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

14.Let the young men now arise, and play before us — Implying that the contest between the house of Saul and the house of David should be decided by this action of the young warriors. This would save a needless effusion of blood, and Joab accepted the challenge. שׂחק, to play, would thus mean the war play of single combat, and the bloody consequences showed that this was the understanding of the contending parties.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 2:14". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/2-samuel-2.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

2 Samuel 2:14. Abner said, Let the young men now arise, and play before us — That is, show their prowess and dexterity in fighting together, or make trial of their courage and strength, that we may see which of us has the braver soldiers. He speaks like a vain-glorious and cruel man, and a soldier of fortune, that esteemed it a sport to see men wounding and killing one another. So this he designed, partly for their mutual recreation, and trial of skill; and partly, that by this occasion they might be engaged in a battle. But he is unworthy the name of a man who is thus prodigal of human blood.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 2:14". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/2-samuel-2.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Play, like the gladiators with drawn swords, which formed one of the principal diversions at Rome, (Calmet) while it was pagan. This might be considered as a prelude to the ensuing engagement; or like a detachment of twelve on each side, fighting to shew the prowess of their respective armies; as the three Horatii and Curiatii did afterwards, to spare the effusion of blood. But there is no mention that Abner and Joab had authority to agree that these champions should decide the fate of the two kingdoms, (Haydock) whence they are generally accused of ostentation; though the soldiers, not being acquainted with their motives, were obliged to obey. (Tirinus; Menochius)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 2:14". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/2-samuel-2.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

young men = common soldiers.

play = make sport.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 2:14". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/2-samuel-2.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

And Abner said to Joab, Let the young men now arise, and play before us. And Joab said, Let them arise.

Abner said to Joab, Let the young men now arise, and play before us. Some think that the proposal was only for an exhibition of a little tilting match, a skirmishing or mock fight, for diversion. [The Septuagint takes this view, because it has rendered the original word by paixatoosan, let them sport.] Accordingly others suppose that both parties being reluctant to commence a civil war, Abner proposed to leave the contest to the decision of twelve picked men on either side. This fight by championship, instead of terminating the matter, inflamed the fiercest passions of the two rival parties; a general engagement ensued, in which Abner and his forces were defeated and put to flight.

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 2:14". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/2-samuel-2.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(14) Let the young men.—To avoid unnecessary bloodshed between the tribes of a common parentage, and also, perhaps, to prevent the weakening of the nation in the face of their common Philistine foe, Abner proposes that the struggle should be decided by a combat between a few champions chosen on either side, and Joab immediately accepts the proposal. Hervey (Speaker’s Commentary) aptly compares this combat to that of the Horatii and Curiatii, under strikingly similar circumstances and with similar results, as described by Livy (I., 100 ).

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 2:14". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/2-samuel-2.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And Abner said to Joab, Let the young men now arise, and play before us. And Joab said, Let them arise.
play before
17,26,27; Proverbs 10:23; 17:14; 20:18; 25:8; 26:18,19
Reciprocal: Judges 9:29 - Increase thine army;  1 Samuel 14:12 - Come up to us;  2 Kings 14:8 - Come;  2 Chronicles 25:17 - let us see

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 2:14". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/2-samuel-2.html.