Sheba Makes a Party in Israel.
1. Sheba … a Benjamite—Though
nothing is known of this man, he must have been a person of
considerable power and influence, before he could have raised so sudden
and extensive a sedition. He belonged to the tribe of Benjamin, where
the adherents of Saul's dynasty were still numerous; and perceiving the
strong disgust of the other tribes with the part assumed by Judah in
the restoration, his ill-designing heart resolved to turn it to the
overthrow of David's authority in Israel.
every man to his tents—This proverbial
expression may have had its foundation in the fact, that many of the
Israelite peasantry adhered to the custom of the patriarchs who tilled
land, and yet lived in tents, as Syrian peasants often do still. This
was the usual watchword of national insurrection, and from the actual
temper of the people, it was followed by effects beyond what he
2. from Jordan even to Jerusalem—The
quarrel had broken out shortly after the crossing of the Jordan,
between Judah and the other tribes, who withdrew; so that Judah was
left nearly alone to conduct the king to the metropolis.
3. the king took the ten women his
concubines—Jewish writers say that the widowed queens of
Hebrew monarchs were not allowed to marry again but were obliged to
pass the rest of their lives in strict seclusion. David treated his
concubines in the same manner after the outrage committed on them by
Absalom. They were not divorced, for they were guiltless; but they were
no longer publicly recognized as his wives; nor was their confinement
to a sequestered life a very heavy doom, in a region where women have
never been accustomed to go much abroad.
4. Then said the king to Amasa, Assemble me the
men of Judah within three days—Amasa is now installed in the
command which David had promised him. The revolt of the ten tribes,
probably, hastened the public declaration of this appointment, which he
hoped would be popular with them, and Amasa was ordered within three
days to levy a force from Judah sufficient to put down the
insurrection. The appointment was a blunder, and the king soon
perceived his error. The specified time passed, but Amasa could not
muster the men. Dreading the loss of time, the king gave the commission
to Abishai, and not to Joab—a new affront, which, no doubt,
wounded the pride of the stern and haughty old general. But he hastened
with his attached soldiers to go as second to his brother, determined
to take the first opportunity of wreaking his vengeance on his
8. Amasa went before them—Having
collected some forces, he by a rapid march overtook the expedition at
Gibeon, and assumed the place of commander; in which capacity, he was
saluted, among others, by Joab.
Joab's garment, that he had put on was girded
unto him—in the fashion of travellers and soldiers.
a sword … and as he went forth it fell
out—that is, out of the scabbard. According to Josephus, he let it drop on purpose as he was
accosting Amasa, that stooping, as it were accidentally, to pick it up,
he might salute the new general with the naked sword in his hand,
without exciting any suspicion of his design.
He went forth—in a ceremonious manner
to meet Amasa, now commander-in-chief, in order to seem to render to
that officer, whom he considered as usurping his post, a conspicuous
honor and homage.
9. took Amasa by the beard with the right hand to
kiss him—This act, common with two friends on meeting when
one of them returns from a journey, indicates respect as well as
kindliness, and the performance of it evinced the deep hypocrisy of
Joab, who thereby put Amasa off his guard. No wonder, then, that while
this act of friendly gratulation after long absence occupied Amasa's
attention, he did not perceive the sword that was in Joab's left
hand. The action of Joab was indeed a high compliment, but neither
suspicious nor unusual and to this compliment, Amasa paying attention
and no doubt returning it with suitable politeness, he could little
expect the fatal event that Joab's perfidy produced.
2Sa 20:10-13. Amasa Is
10. smote him … in the fifth
rib—the seat of the liver and bowels, where wounds are
struck him not again—that is,
despatched him at the first blow.
11-13. He that favoureth Joab, and he that is for
David, let him go after Joab—It is a striking proof of Joab's
unrivalled influence over the army, that with this villainous murder
perpetrated before their eyes they unanimously followed him as their
leader in pursuit of Sheba. A soldier conjoined his name with David's,
and such a magic spell was in the word "Joab," that all the people
"went on"—Amasa's men as well as the rest. The conjunction of
these two names is very significant. It shows that the one could not
afford to do without the other—neither Joab to rebel against
David, nor David to get rid of Joab, though hating him.
2Sa 20:14, 15. Joab Pursues
Sheba unto Abel.
14. he went through all the tribes of Israel unto
Abel—beating up for recruits. But there the prompt marches of
Joab overtook and hemmed him in by a close siege of the place.
15. Abel of Beth-maachah—a verdant
place—the addition of "Maachah" betokening that it belonged to
the district Maachah, which lay far up the Jordan at the foot of
2Sa 20:16-22. A Wise Woman
Saves the City by Sheba's Head.
16. Then cried a wise woman—The appeal
of this woman, who, like Deborah, was probably a judge or governess of
the place, was a strong one.
18-20. They were wont to speak in old
time—The translation of the Margin gives a better
meaning, which is to this effect: When the people saw thee lay siege to
Abel, they said, Surely he will ask if we will have peace, for the law
20:10) prescribes that he
should offer peace to strangers, much more then to Israelitish cities;
and if he do this, we shall soon bring things to an amicable agreement,
for we are a peaceable people. The answer of Joab brings out the
character of that ruthless veteran as a patriot at heart, who, on
securing the author of this insurrection, was ready to put a stop to
further bloodshed and release the peaceable inhabitants from all
2Sa 20:23-26. David's Great
23. Now Joab was over all the host of
Israel—David, whatever his private wishes, found that he
possessed not the power of removing Joab; so winking at the murder of
Amasa, he re-established that officer in his former post of
commander-in-chief. The enumeration of David's cabinet is here given to
show that the government was re-established in its wonted course.