Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

2 Samuel 2:27

Joab said, "As God lives, if you had not spoken, surely then the people would have gone away in the morning, each from following his brother."
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Abner;   David;   Israel;   Joab;   Truce;   War;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Gibeon;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Joab;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Samuel, Books of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Abner;   Gibeon;   Joab;   Joel, Book of;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Asahel ;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Joab;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Asahel;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Oath;   Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia - Abner;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Ish-Bosheth;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

And Joab said - The meaning of this verse appears to be this: If Abner had not provoked the battle, (see 2 Samuel 2:14;), Joab would not have attacked the Israelites that day; as his orders were probably to act on the defensive. Therefore the blame fell upon Israel.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 2:27". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/2-samuel-2.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Joab‘s speech means either “unless thou hadst spoken (challenged us to fight, 2 Samuel 2:14), the people would have returned from the pursuit of their brethren (many hours ago, even) this morning;” or, “If thou hadst not spoken (asked for peace, 2 Samuel 2:26), surely the people would have returned, etc., in the morning, i. e. would not have ceased the pursuit until the morning.” The latter interpretation is the more accordant with Joab‘s boastful character.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 2:27". "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 Joab said, as God liveth,.... Which was the form of an oath, swearing by the living God:

unless thou hadst spoken; that is, these words in 2 Samuel 2:14; "let the young men arise and play", that he had not given the challenge to fight:

surely then in the morning the people had gone up everyone from following his brother; they would have gone away and never fought at all; they were not desirous of shedding their blood, and following after them to slay them: thus he lays the blame upon Abner, and makes him to be the cause and beginner of the war. Some render the particle by "if", and give the sense, that if he had spoken what he last did sooner, the people would long before this time have desisted from pursuing them; for it was not from a thirst after their blood, and a desire to luke vengeance on them, that they pursued them, but to bring them to submission, and lay down their arms; for they could not in honour retreat until they desired it; but the former sense seems best, and is the general sense of the Jewish commentators.

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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 2:27". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/2-samuel-2.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

And Joab said, [As] God liveth, unless thou hadst o spoken, surely then in the morning the people had gone up every one from following his brother.

(o) If you had not provoked them to battle, (2 Samuel 2:14).
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 2:27". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/2-samuel-2.html. 1599-1645.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And Joab said, As God liveth, unless thou hadst spoken, surely then in the morning the people had gone up every one from following his brother.

Unless, … — Unless thou hadst made the motion that they should fight, verse14. It was thou, not I, that gave the first occasion of this fight. Abner was the sole cause of this war; otherwise all things had been ended by an amicable agreement: which might have been made that very morning, if he had so pleased.

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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.
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Wesley, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 2:27". "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 2:27 And Joab said, [As] God liveth, unless thou hadst spoken, surely then in the morning the people had gone up every one from following his brother.

Ver. 27. Unless thou hadst spoken,] q.d., Thou mayest thank thyself for the hurt that is done: for thou first madest the challenge. Aequum est ut faber quas fecit compedes ipse gestet.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 2:27". 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 2:27. And Joab said, as God liveth, &c.— "Unless thou hadst spoken, probably means, unless thou had said, let the young men, &c. 2 Samuel 2:14 i.e. unless thou hadst provoked me to battle; surely all the people had ceased from following their brethren even from the morning: unless thou hadst drawn on the combat, there had been neither slaughter nor pursuit." Cicero well observes of civil wars, that all things are miserable in them, but victory most miserable of all. Joab seems to have been very sensible of this, as he so readily withdrew his forces from the pursuit.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, Abner's forces being routed, he himself is compelled to fly for his life, but is closely pursued by Joab's brother Asahel, whose swiftness was as the mountain roe: having singled him out, he sticks close to him, ambitious to make him his prisoner, and hoping thus to end the war, of which Abner was the chief support. It was nobly aimed, but he was an unequal match, and therefore pursued only his own ruin. Note; They who aim too high, stand on a precipice which makes their fall the deeper. Abner saw the young man's ambition, and kindly admonished him of his danger, desiring him to seize some other prey, to which he might be equal; but, fired with ambition, he continues the pursuit, and perhaps imputes to timidity the friendly caution. Once more Abner begs him not to put him on the unwilling necessity of hurting him; for how should he then look his brother in the face, whom, though an enemy, he respected. The remonstrance was vain, Asahel persists, and rues his folly. Abner, as he advanced, gave him a mortal stroke, and he fell dead to the earth. Note; (1.) The qualifications that we are proud of commonly prove our ruin. (2.) When we are most eager in the pursuit of our worldly schemes, and seem ready to grasp the prize of happiness, death, like Abner's spear, stops our career, and lays our big-swoln hopes and honour in the dust.

2nd, The routed troops of Abner making a stand on the hill, being joined by some fresh forces from Benjamin,

1. Abner begs of Joab to stay the pursuit. He who made a sport of the sword in the morning, now dreads its devouring edge, and fain would have it return to the scabbard again; he pleads with Joab the near relation between the people; they were brethren; and if brother imbrued his hands in brother's blood, whichever of them gained the day, the remembrance would be bitter: sound reasoning, but just a day too late; had he thus argued with himself before, the sword had not been drawn. But we can see that right when the case is our own, which pride and prejudice prevented us from discerning when our neighbour's interest only was at stake.

2. Joab nobly agrees to the request: no doubt, his orders were to be sparing of blood, and therefore he lays the blame of what had been shed on Abner's obstinacy, but for whose challenge they might have retired in the morning in peace. A retreat is now sounded, and Abner suffered to depart to Mahanaim, while Joab returns to his king at Hebron. Asahel receives all military honours, and is buried in the sepulchre of his fathers, but the rest on the field of battle. Thus terminates the first rencounter in favour of David, as a prelude to his greater future successes. Note; (1.) It is vain to struggle against the divine appointment. (2.) Though the clods of the valley are made more honourable to some than others, and they are distinguished in the grave, yet when they come again from thence, nobility will meet no distinction, and only the good be great on a resurrection-day.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 2:27". 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

Unless thou hadst spoken; unless thou hadst made the motion that they might fight, 2 Samuel 2:14. It was thou, not I, that gave the first occasion of this fight. Withal, he intimates that Abner was the sole cause of this war; and that if he had not given commission and command, the war had never been undertaken, but all things had been ended by an amicable agreement; which might have been made that very morning, if he had so pleased.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 2 Samuel 2:27". 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

27.Unless thou hadst spoken — As thou didst this morning, saying, “Let the young men arise and play.” 2 Samuel 2:14. That challenge provoked the war. Had it not been uttered the two armies would have separated without fight or bloodshed.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 2:27". "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 2:27. Unless thou hadst spoken, &c. — Made the motion that they should fight, giving a rash challenge; surely in the morning the people had gone up — The armies had parted in peace, without any act of hostility: it was thou, not I, that gave the first occasion of this fight. This plainly shows that Joab’s instructions were not to begin hostilities, and that Abner was the sole cause of the war. Had it not been for him, all things might have been settled by an amicable agreement that very morning. Some, however, understand Joab’s words differently: they consider him as swearing solemnly, that inasmuch as Abner had given the challenge, and proposed fighting, if he had not also begun the parley for cessation, he and his men would have pursued him and Ish-bosheth’s vanquished army the whole night.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 2:27". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/2-samuel-2.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

CHAPTER II.

Sooner. Hebrew, "If thou hadst not spoken," (Du Hamel) by challenging, ver. 14. (Josephus, &c.) (Calmet)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 2:27". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/2-samuel-2.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

God. Hebrew. Elohim. App-4.

I (with Art.) spoken. Supply the Ellipsis (App-6) thus: "spoken [the words which caused the provocation], surely". Compare 2 Samuel 2:14.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 2:27". "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 Joab said, As God liveth, unless thou hadst spoken, surely then in the morning the people had gone up every one from following his brother.

Unless thou hadst spoken - i:e., had you not proposed a trial of strength by championship, there would have been no fighting at all.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 2:27". "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

(27) Unless thou hadst spoken.—Joab’s reply to Abner admits of either of two interpretations: (1) Joab seeks to throw the whole blame of the conflict upon Abner, by saying that if he had not proposed the combat between the champions (2 Samuel 2:14) there would have been no battle, but “the people” of both sides would have separated peaceably at Gibeon; or (2), as the phrase is more generally and more probably under. stood, that Joab had intended to keep up the pursuit only until the following morning, but as Abner already sued for mercy, he was content, and would stop now.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 2:27". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/2-samuel-2.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And Joab said, As God liveth, unless thou hadst spoken, surely then in the morning the people had gone up every one from following his brother.
As God
This was spoken in allusion to the proposal of Abner, (ver. 14,) which led to the slaughter of twelve young men of each party, and thus provoked the battle. It is probable, that Joab had orders simply to act on the defensive, and would not have attacked the Israelites that day unless compelled; therefore the blame lay upon Abner and Israel.
1 Samuel 25:26; Job 27:2
unless
14; Proverbs 15:1; 17:14; 20:18; 25:8; Isaiah 47:7; Luke 14:31,32
in the morning
Heb. from the morning. gone up. or, gone away.
Reciprocal: Judges 9:38 - GeneralPsalm 133:1 - how good;  Galatians 5:15 - General

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 2:27". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/2-samuel-2.html.