King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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2 Samuel 14

Joab procures Absalom’s recall. (1-20) Absalom recalled. (21-24) His personal beauty. (25-27) He is admitted to his father’s presence. (28-33)

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Joab procures Absalom’s recall

1 Now Joab the son of Zeruiah perceived that the king’s heart was toward Absalom.

2 And Joab sent to Tekoah, and fetched thence a wise woman, and said unto her, I pray thee, feign thyself to be a mourner, and put on now mourning apparel, and anoint not thyself with oil, but be as a woman that had a long time mourned for the dead:

3 And come to the king, and speak on this manner unto him. So Joab put the words in her mouth.

4 And when the woman of Tekoah spake to the king, she fell on her face to the ground, and did obeisance, and said, Help, O king.

5 And the king said unto her, What aileth thee? And she answered, I am indeed a widow woman, and mine husband is dead.

6 And thy handmaid had two sons, and they two strove together in the field, and there was none to part them, but the one smote the other, and slew him.

7 And, behold, the whole family is risen against thine handmaid, and they said, Deliver him that smote his brother, that we may kill him, for the life of his brother whom he slew; and we will destroy the heir also: and so they shall quench my coal which is left, and shall not leave to my husband neither name nor remainder upon the earth.

8 And the king said unto the woman, Go to thine house, and I will give charge concerning thee.

9 And the woman of Tekoah said unto the king, My lord, O king, the iniquity be on me, and on my father’s house: and the king and his throne be guiltless.

10 And the king said, Whoever saith ought unto thee, bring him to me, and he shall not touch thee any more.

11 Then said she, I pray thee, let the king remember the LORD thy God, that thou wouldest not suffer the revengers of blood to destroy any more, lest they destroy my son. And he said, As the LORD liveth, there shall not one hair of thy son fall to the earth.

12 Then the woman said, Let thine handmaid, I pray thee, speak one word unto my lord the king. And he said, Say on.

13 And the woman said, Wherefore then hast thou thought such a thing against the people of God? for the king doth speak this thing as one which is faulty, in that the king doth not fetch home again his banished.

14 For we must needs die, and are as water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again; neither doth God respect any person: yet doth he devise means, that his banished be not expelled from him.

15 Now therefore that I am come to speak of this thing unto my lord the king, it is because the people have made me afraid: and thy handmaid said, I will now speak unto the king; it may be that the king will perform the request of his handmaid.

16 For the king will hear, to deliver his handmaid out of the hand of the man that would destroy me and my son together out of the inheritance of God.

17 Then thine handmaid said, The word of my lord the king shall now be comfortable: for as an angel of God, so is my lord the king to discern good and bad: therefore the LORD thy God will be with thee.

18 Then the king answered and said unto the woman, Hide not from me, I pray thee, the thing that I shall ask thee. And the woman said, Let my lord the king now speak.

19 And the king said, Is not the hand of Joab with thee in all this? And the woman answered and said, As thy soul liveth, my lord the king, none can turn to the right hand or to the left from ought that my lord the king hath spoken: for thy servant Joab, he bade me, and he put all these words in the mouth of thine handmaid:

20 To fetch about this form of speech hath thy servant Joab done this thing: and my lord is wise, according to the wisdom of an angel of God, to know all things that are in the earth.

Absalom recalled

21 And the king said unto Joab, Behold now, I have done this thing: go therefore, bring the young man Absalom again.

22 And Joab fell to the ground on his face, and bowed himself, and thanked the king: and Joab said, To day thy servant knoweth that I have found grace in thy sight, my lord, O king, in that the king hath fulfilled the request of his servant.

23 So Joab arose and went to Geshur, and brought Absalom to Jerusalem.

24 And the king said, Let him turn to his own house, and let him not see my face. So Absalom returned to his own house, and saw not the king’s face.

His personal beauty

25 But in all Israel there was none to be so much praised as Absalom for his beauty: from the sole of his foot even to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him.

26 And when he polled his head, (for it was at every year’s end that he polled it: because the hair was heavy on him, therefore he polled it:) he weighed the hair of his head at two hundred shekels after the king’s weight.

27 And unto Absalom there were born three sons, and one daughter, whose name was Tamar: she was a woman of a fair countenance.

He is admitted to his father’s presence

28 So Absalom dwelt two full years in Jerusalem, and saw not the king’s face.

29 Therefore Absalom sent for Joab, to have sent him to the king; but he would not come to him: and when he sent again the second time, he would not come.

30 Therefore he said unto his servants, See, Joab’s field is near mine, and he hath barley there; go and set it on fire. And Absalom’s servants set the field on fire.

31 Then Joab arose, and came to Absalom unto his house, and said unto him, Wherefore have thy servants set my field on fire?

32 And Absalom answered Joab, Behold, I sent unto thee, saying, Come hither, that I may send thee to the king, to say, Wherefore am I come from Geshur? it had been good for me to have been there still: now therefore let me see the king’s face; and if there be any iniquity in me, let him kill me.

33 So Joab came to the king, and told him: and when he had called for Absalom, he came to the king, and bowed himself on his face to the ground before the king: and the king kissed Absalom.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 2. Thecua, twelve miles south of Jerusalem. S. Jer. — Joab causes this unknown woman to come from the country to conceal his design, (C.) hoping that Absalom would be his father’s successor. M.

Ver. 4. Save me. So the Jews frequently repeated Hosanna; and David addressed God, save us. 1 Par. xvi. 35. T.

Ver. 5. Dead. Some conclude from v. 16, that this is a true history; but it appears rather, that it was only a parable, (v. 19. C.) invented by Joab. M.

Ver. 7. Heir. She expresses their sentiments more than their words. C. — Some of the relations might desire to obtain the inheritance. M. — See Num. xxxv. 18. — Spark. Posterity is often denoted by a lamp. C. xxi. 17. Heb. and Sept. “my coal,” reserved to enkindle my fire, (C.) or to perpetuate our name in Israel, (H.) or that of his father, to whose title the son succeeded. The mother could claim no inheritance. M.

Ver. 9. Guiltless, if the murderer be not brought to execution. I am willing to bear all the blame and punishment. C. — Abigail and Rebecca speak in the same manner. 1 K. xxv. 24. Gen. xxvii. 13. T. — Though kings may not pardon as they please, yet in this instance David might protect the widow’s son, as there was no witness to prove that he had committed the murder. M. — The woman was not satisfied with the former promise. She wished to extort something more decisive. She intimates that the danger is pressing, and if any misfortune should arrive, she cannot impute it to the king, (C.) which gives him occasion to encourage her the more. H.

Ver. 11. Multiplied, or overwhelm me with their numbers. C.

Ver. 13. Exile, the banished Absalom, (H.) who, in similar circumstances, has only committed a crime like that which the king is willing to pardon at the entreaty of a poor widow; though all the people of God seem interested for the welfare of Absalom, whom they look upon as the heir apparent. This was the drift of the whole parable. C. — To sin, may be referred to Absalom, who might be driven by despair to worship idols. M.

Ver. 14. Earth; so great was the distress of the people at the absence of their darling prince. H. — His death would not bring Amnon to life again. We must not cherish sentiments of eternal enmity. — Perish. Chal. “a just judge cannot take the money of iniquity.” Le Clerc, “And cannot the prince (or judge) pardon a man, and devise means to leave his son no longer in exile?” C. — Prot. “neither doth God respect any person; yet doth he devise means, that his banished son be not expelled from him.” Let the king imitate this example. H.

Ver. 15. Before the people. Heb. also, “through fear, or respect for the people,” who generally wished that Absalom might return. H. — Joab was present, (v. 21) and no doubt many others; who, if requisite, might join their prayers with hers. C.

Ver. 16. Me. She identifies her cause with that of her son, as if she could not survive his death; or, at least, could not retain the inheritance, if he should perish. H.

Ver. 17. Sacrifice; perfect and inviolable. T. — Cursing, provided he be in the right. M. — Heb. “the king to discern (hear) good and bad;” of consummate wisdom; (v. 20. H.) so that no one can impose upon him.

Ver. 19. Right, but he hath ordered me to say all these things. Joab had given her leave to make this declaration, as he perceived that the king’s heart was already inclined towards Absalom, v. 1. M.

Ver. 21. Boy. This expression might tend to excuse what he had done amiss; as it shewed also the tenderness of David for Absalom. M.

Ver. 22. Blessed. That is, praised, and gave thanks to the king.

Ver. 24. Face, though he lived in Jerusalem. C. — This was done, in order that he might enter seriously into himself, and avoid similar excesses. M. — He felt this privation more than exile. H.

Ver. 26. A year. Heb. and Sept. “from the end of the days to days.” — Chal. “as it was convenient.” But the Vulg. seems the best, (C.) and is followed by the Prot. version. H. — Sicles, including all his hair. The Hebrews wore their hair very long. It does not commonly grow above four inches in a year; so that the hair which was cut off could not weigh 200 sicles. C. — Weight. Heb. “after the king’s stone,” Beeben; but one MS. has Boshkol, with the Sept. “after the king’s sicle (Ken.) weight,” at Babylon, as Pelletier supposes that this work was written towards the end of the captivity. He allows that Absalom’s hair might weigh almost 31 ounces. Some women wear above 32 ounces, if we may believe the hair-dressers. Some suppose that r (200) has been substituted instead of d (4) or c, (20) &c. But all are not convinced that the Hebrew formerly marked the numbers by letters. Sept. have, “100 sicles,” (C.) which some attempt to reconcile with the common reading, by saying, that they speak of the sicles of the sanctuary, which were double the weight of the king’s sicles. Yet the Alex. and Vat. copies agree with the Vulgate: (H.) and of this distinction of weights there is no proof. The Rabbins assert that the value, and not the weight, of Absalom’s hair is given; (C.) and that he made a present of his hair to some of his friends, who sold it to the ladies of Jerusalem, to adorn their heads. Sanctius. — Tirin adopts this sentiment, and ridicules those who say that the weight is meant; as he says, 200 sicles would be equivalent to 8¾ Roman pounds, which comes near to Arbuthnot’s calculation in English. H. — Bochart reduces the weight to four such pounds, each consisting of twelve ounces; and he supposes that the hair was so heavy, on account of the gold dust with which it was covered, according to the fashion of those times. Joseph. viii. 1. — But this weight would be only accidental. C. — Josephus (vii. 8.) intimates, that Absalom’s hair was “cut every eight days,” or “for the space of eight days.” It is quite incredible that it should weigh 200 sicles, or five minæ of Alexandria, each consisting of twelve ounces. The Latin interpreter reads, “every eight months.” C. — S. Epiphanius and Hero have 125 sicles, or about 31 ounces. H. — The Babylonian sicle, here mentioned, was only the third part of that used by the Hebrews. D.

Ver. 27. Sons, who all died before their father. C. xviii. 18. — Thamar, in memory of his sister; (Abul.) or this Thamar received the name from her aunt, who resided with Absalom. M. — Some Greek and Latin copies add, that she was married to Roboam, the son of Solomon, by whom he had Abias. But this addition is of no authority, and can hardly be reconciled with chronology. We read that Roboam espoused Maaca, the daughter of Absalom; (2 Par. xi. 20.) but she might be only his grand-daughter, by Thamar. C. — Josephus had adopted this addition. H.

Ver. 29. To him. Joab, like a crafty courtier, would neither disoblige the king nor the prince, and therefore wished not to meddle in this affair; as he might either excite the suspicions of the own, or the resentment of the other. C.

Ver. 33. Kissed Absalom, and thus was reconciled to his prodigal son. Luke xv. 20. The ungrateful wretch only took occasion, from his father’s goodness, to alienate the minds of the people from him, by insinuating that he neglected the welfare of the people. H.