Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

2 Samuel 4:1

Now when Ish-bosheth, Saul's son, heard that Abner had died in Hebron, he lost courage, and all Israel was disturbed.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Baanah and Rechab;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Ishbosheth;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Baana;   Court Systems;   David;   Ish-Bosheth;   Jezreel;   Rechab;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Rechab, Rechabites;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Hebrew Monarchy, the;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Ish-Bosheth;   Samuel, Books of;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

All the Israelites were troubled - Abner was their great support; and on him they depended; for it appears that Ish-bosheth was a feeble prince, and had few of those qualities requisite for a sovereign.

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 4:1". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/2-samuel-4.html. 1832.

The Biblical Illustrator

2 Samuel 4:1

His hands were feeble.

Men without co-operation weak

The man spoken of was Saul’s son, and as the son of a king what reason had he to have enfeebled hands? The reason is that Abner was dead. But could not a king’s son do without Abner? Have not king’s sons abundant resources in themselves, without being dependent upon outsiders, however distinguished? All history replies in the negative. Men belong to one another. The king’s son was nothing without Abner, but much with him. The unit one is but a singular number, but the moment a cipher is added to it becomes ten, and another cipher turns the ten into a hundred.

The integer is little by itself, the cipher is nothing at all when it stands alone, but when they are brought together they begin to make themselves felt. It is precisely so in our social relations. What is the husband without the wife? What is the son without the father? What is the scholar without the teacher? What is the flock without the shepherd? It is of no account to reason that there is a variety of value in men, some being worth much, and others being worth little; the fact is that they must all be brought into cooperation. (J. Parker, D. D.)

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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "2 Samuel 4:1". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/2-samuel-4.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

ISBOSHETH WAS MURDERED;

HIS MURDERERS WERE EXECUTED;

ABNER'S DEATH WAS A DISASTER FOR ISHBOSHETH

"When Ishbosheth, Saul's son, heard that Abner had died at Hebron, his courage failed, and all Israel was dismayed. Now Saul's son had two men who were captains of raiding bands; the name of the one was Baanah, and the name of the other Rechab, sons of Rimmon a man of Benjamin from Beeroth (for Beeroth is also reckoned to Benjamin; the Beerothites fled to Gittaim, and have been sojourners there to this day)."

"Abner died at Hebron ... (Ishbosheth's) courage failed ... all Israel was dismayed" (2 Samuel 4:1). This brings us very near to the end of the kingdom of Ishbosheth.

"Baanah ... Rechab, sons of Rimmon" (2 Samuel 4:2). "These were not Israelites, but Amorites or Canaanites, whose father was from a Gibeonite city; they were mercenaries in Ishbosheth's army."[1] The story of the Gibeonites is found in Joshua 9. They deceived Israel into making a covenant with them by a clever device of pretending to be from a far distant country.

The Gibeonites were savagely persecuted by Saul (2 Samuel 21:1ff) who put many of them to death; and that could possibly account for the basic hatred of Saul's house which might have entered into the motivation for these two brothers to murder Ishbosheth. As a result of that persecution, the Gibeonites fled to Gittaim, and the town of Beeroth was reckoned to Saul's tribe, Benjamin.

"The Beerothites fled to Gittaim" (2 Samuel 4:3). It is amazing that Adam Clarke identified this place with "Gath"' basing his opinion upon the form of the name itself.[2] The Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia (1975) gives the same identification, suggesting that, "Some of the references to Gath are actually concerned with Gittaim."[3] Anson F. Rainey identified the location of Gittaim with a forty-acre site southeast of the present town of Ras Abu Amid, where there was once a well-fortified town, at the same time preferring that location for the Philistine city of Gath much farther north than its traditional location in the extreme south of Philistia.[4]

"The Beerothites have been sojourners there to this day" (2 Samuel 4:3). All this means is that the Gibeonites from Beeroth were still at Gittaim when some copyist later transcribed this page, or when the author of the Books of Samuel wrote this passage. There is no excuse whatever in this and similar passages for postulating the composition of these books centuries later than the events recorded. There is also the possibility that such passages are interpolations by later copyists.

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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 4:1". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/2-samuel-4.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And when Saul's son heard that Abner was dead in Hebron,.... By Saul's son is meant Ishbosheth, to whom tidings were soon brought of the death of Abner his general, and that he died in Hebron, where David his rival reigned, and was there murdered by Joab the general of his army:

his hands were feeble: not only in a natural sense, being quite dispirited at hearing such news; but in a civil sense, having lost his main support and strength, he being president of his council, and commander of his forces, and in whom he placed all his confidence: and if he knew nothing of his being at Hebron, it must surprise him to hear of his dying there; from whence he might conclude, that since he was there without his knowledge, it could not be in his favour, some plot was forming, and schemes laying with his rival to dethrone him; or if he knew of it, and understood it in this light, that he was endeavouring to make peace between him and David, and upon advantageous terms to him, of which now he might entertain no hopes; he was dispirited, and might conclude that Joab was against any terms at peace, and therefore had dispatched him:

and all the Israelites were troubled; at the loss of so great a man in their kingdom, and of whose designs to unite them to Judah, and put them under the government David, they were not ignorant; but now were in the utmost confusion, not knowing what step to take, and whom to send to carry on the treaty, in which Abner was concerned; and whether it would be safe for any to go upon it, since he who had the management of it was murdered, and no justice done on the murderer, and therefore might question David's sincerity and uprightness in this affair; these things greatly distressed and embarrassed them for the present, but Providence opened a way for their future establishment and prosperity.

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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 4:1". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/2-samuel-4.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

And when Saul's a son heard that Abner was dead in Hebron, his hands were b feeble, and all the Israelites were troubled.

(a) That is, Ishbosheth.

(b) Meaning, that he was discouraged.

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Bibliographical Information
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 4:1". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/2-samuel-4.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

2 Samuel 4:1, 2 Samuel 4:2. Baanah and Rechab slay Ish-bosheth, and bring his head to Hebron.

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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 4:1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/2-samuel-4.html. 1871-8.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

CONTENTS

A melancholy relation this chapter hath of the murder of Ish-bosheth by two captains in his band. After they had perpetrated the deed they hastened with the head of Ish-bosheth to David, who so far from approving of what they had done, ordered their execution. These are the principal points here related.

2 Samuel 4:1

(1) ¶ And when Saul's son heard that Abner was dead in Hebron, his hands were feeble, and all the Israelites were troubled.

We hardly know what to make of the character of this son of Saul; certainly there could be but little regard to the law of the Lord in his heart; for had he reverenced God's ordination, he would not have suffered Abner to have opposed the succession of David to the kingdom.

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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 4:1". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/2-samuel-4.html. 1828.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

2 Samuel 4:1 And when Saul’s son heard that Abner was dead in Hebron, his hands were feeble, and all the Israelites were troubled.

Ver. 1. His hands were feeble.] He was quite dispirited; nihil neque animi, neque consilii habuit.

And all the Israelites were troubled.] Consternati sunt et conturbati, for loss of their champion. Carnal confidence endeth in confusion: when trust in God is never at an utter loss. See Hebrews 3:17-19.

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 4:1". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/2-samuel-4.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

2 Samuel 4:1. And all the Israelites were troubled That is, all those who were united to the interest of Ish-bosheth.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 4:1". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/2-samuel-4.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

2 SAMUEL CHAPTER 4

Ish-bosheth and his party are astonished at Abner’s death, 2 Samuel 1:7. Two captains murder Ish-bosheth, and bring his head to David, 2 Samuel 4:2-8; who caused them to be put to death, and hanged up; and Ish-bosheth’s head to be buried, 2 Samuel 4:9-12.

His hands were feeble; his spirit, and courage, and strength failed him. This phrase is used in the same sense Ezra 4:1 Nehemiah 6:9 Isaiah 13:7 35:3. The Israelites were troubled, because now they were unable to oppose David, and doubtful of obtaining his favour, now Abner their peace-maker was dead.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 2 Samuel 4:1". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/2-samuel-4.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

ASSASSINATION OF ISHBOSHETH, 2 Samuel 4:1-12.

1.His hands were feeble — He lost all vigorous hold upon the government, for Abner had been his strength.

Troubled — Confounded and alarmed. They knew not what might be the end of these things. They had no confidence in Ishbosheth, and they were not disposed at once to accept the son of Jesse.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 4:1". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/2-samuel-4.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

2 Samuel 4:1. His hands were feeble — He was greatly dismayed, as well he might be; for he was in effect disarmed; he had lost both his sword and his shield in Abner. And all the Israelites were troubled — That is, all those who were united to the interest of Ish-bosheth, and probably many others also; for they had lost their great and powerful agent with David; the man in whom both he and they confided; the man who, from his authority and credit, both with the army and the people, was best able to conduct and confirm the league then agreed to on both sides. They feared that, through his death, this treaty would be broken off, or that it would not be managed with so much prudence as Abner would have used; that the fall of this great man would produce some important change, and they were apprehensive it might be of a disastrous kind.

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Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 4:1". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/2-samuel-4.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Isboseth is omitted in Hebrew but understood. He is expressed in the Septuagint. The Alexandrian copy generally substitutes Memphibosthai, by mistake; as he (Miphiboseth) was the son of Jonathan, ver. 4. (Haydock) --- Weakened. Hitherto Abner had been the chief support of Saul's family. His traitorous practices had been kept secret from Isboseth, (Calmet) who hoped that his former declaration had been dictated by a sudden passion, and would not be carried into effect, chap. iii. 10. (Haydock) --- Troubled, not knowing what turn things would now take, and fearing the resentment of the sons of Sarvia, though they were convinced of David's good dispositions. (Salien, the year before Christ 1067.)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 4:1". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/2-samuel-4.html. 1859.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

IV.

(1) All the Israelites were troubled.—The death of Abner affected both Ish-bosheth and his people. For the former, “his hands were feeble,” the whole support and strength of his throne being gone; the latter were “troubled” because they had been carrying on negotiations with David through Abner, and these were now thrown into confusion, and it became uncertain how they might result.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 4:1". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/2-samuel-4.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And when Saul's son heard that Abner was dead in Hebron, his hands were feeble, and all the Israelites were troubled.
his hands
17:2; Ezra 4:4; Nehemiah 6:9; Isaiah 13:7; 35:3; Jeremiah 6:24; 50:43; Zephaniah 3:16
and all
Matthew 2:2,3
Reciprocal: 1 Samuel 30:31 - Hebron

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 4:1". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/2-samuel-4.html.

The People's Bible by Joseph Parker

"Handfuls of Purpose"

For All Gleaners

"... his hands were feeble."2 Samuel 4:1.

The man spoken of was Saul"s Song of Solomon, and as the son of a king what reason had he to have enfeebled hands?—The reason Isaiah, that Abner was dead.—But could not a king"s son do without Abner?—Have not king"s sons abundant resources in themselves, without being dependent upon outsiders however distinguished?—All history replies in the negative.—Men belong to one another.—The king"s son was nothing without Abner, but much with him. The unit one is but a singular number, but the moment a cipher is added to it it becomes ten, and another cipher turns the ten into a hundred.—The integer is little by itself, the cipher is nothing at all when it stands alone, but when they are brought together they begin to make themselves felt.—It is precisely so in our social relations.—What is the husband without the wife?—What is the son without the father?—What is the scholar without the teacher?—What is the flock without the shepherd?—It is of no account to reason that there is a variety of value in men, some being worth much, and others being worth little; the fact is that they must all be brought into co-operation, and in their unity they must begin to realise their strength.—The pastor without the Church is almost powerless; the Church without the pastor is as sheep not having a shepherd.—In proportion to a man"s greatness will he value the help of others.—His very greatness, provided it be intellectual and moral, will enable him to see that every man has his value and his importance in society, and that the more men are entrusted with influence the more they are developed in moral dignity, provided the conscience be pure, and the motive of the whole life be unselfish and lofty.—It would seem as if Jesus Christ himself felt that he needed the presence and sympathy of his disciples.—Once he said, "Will ye also go away?"—True, he could have done without them all, but in a higher truth he needed them all, and he failed not to make them feel how near and dear they were to all his loftiest solicitudes.

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Bibliographical Information
Parker, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 4:1". The People's Bible by Joseph Parker. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jpb/2-samuel-4.html. 1885-95.