King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

2 Samuel > Old Testament > Home

2 Samuel 17

Ahithophel’s counsel overthrown. (1-21) He hangs himself, Absalom pursues David. (22-29)

2 Samuel 17 Audio:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Ahithophel’s counsel overthrown

1 Moreover Ahithophel said unto Absalom, Let me now choose out twelve thousand men, and I will arise and pursue after David this night:

2 And I will come upon him while he is weary and weak handed, and will make him afraid: and all the people that are with him shall flee; and I will smite the king only:

3 And I will bring back all the people unto thee: the man whom thou seekest is as if all returned: so all the people shall be in peace.

4 And the saying pleased Absalom well, and all the elders of Israel.

5 Then said Absalom, Call now Hushai the Archite also, and let us hear likewise what he saith.

6 And when Hushai was come to Absalom, Absalom spake unto him, saying, Ahithophel hath spoken after this manner: shall we do after his saying? if not; speak thou.

7 And Hushai said unto Absalom, The counsel that Ahithophel hath given is not good at this time.

8 For, said Hushai, thou knowest thy father and his men, that they be mighty men, and they be chafed in their minds, as a bear robbed of her whelps in the field: and thy father is a man of war, and will not lodge with the people.

9 Behold, he is hid now in some pit, or in some other place: and it will come to pass, when some of them be overthrown at the first, that whosoever heareth it will say, There is a slaughter among the people that follow Absalom.

10 And he also that is valiant, whose heart is as the heart of a lion, shall utterly melt: for all Israel knoweth that thy father is a mighty man, and they which be with him are valiant men.

11 Therefore I counsel that all Israel be generally gathered unto thee, from Dan even to Beersheba, as the sand that is by the sea for multitude; and that thou go to battle in thine own person.

12 So shall we come upon him in some place where he shall be found, and we will light upon him as the dew falleth on the ground: and of him and of all the men that are with him there shall not be left so much as one.

13 Moreover, if he be gotten into a city, then shall all Israel bring ropes to that city, and we will draw it into the river, until there be not one small stone found there.

14 And Absalom and all the men of Israel said, The counsel of Hushai the Archite is better than the counsel of Ahithophel. For the LORD had appointed to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, to the intent that the LORD might bring evil upon Absalom.

15 Then said Hushai unto Zadok and to Abiathar the priests, Thus and thus did Ahithophel counsel Absalom and the elders of Israel; and thus and thus have I counselled.

16 Now therefore send quickly, and tell David, saying, Lodge not this night in the plains of the wilderness, but speedily pass over; lest the king be swallowed up, and all the people that are with him.

17 Now Jonathan and Ahimaaz stayed by Enrogel; for they might not be seen to come into the city: and a wench went and told them; and they went and told king David.

18 Nevertheless a lad saw them, and told Absalom: but they went both of them away quickly, and came to a man’s house in Bahurim, which had a well in his court; whither they went down.

19 And the woman took and spread a covering over the well’s mouth, and spread ground corn thereon; and the thing was not known.

20 And when Absalom’s servants came to the woman to the house, they said, Where is Ahimaaz and Jonathan? And the woman said unto them, They be gone over the brook of water. And when they had sought and could not find them, they returned to Jerusalem.

21 And it came to pass, after they were departed, that they came up out of the well, and went and told king David, and said unto David, Arise, and pass quickly over the water: for thus hath Ahithophel counselled against you.

He hangs himself, Absalom pursues David

22 Then David arose, and all the people that were with him, and they passed over Jordan: by the morning light there lacked not one of them that was not gone over Jordan.

23 And when Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his ass, and arose, and gat him home to his house, to his city, and put his household in order, and hanged himself, and died, and was buried in the sepulchre of his father.

24 Then David came to Mahanaim. And Absalom passed over Jordan, he and all the men of Israel with him.

25 And Absalom made Amasa captain of the host instead of Joab: which Amasa was a man’s son, whose name was Ithra an Israelite, that went in to Abigail the daughter of Nahash, sister to Zeruiah Joab’s mother.

26 So Israel and Absalom pitched in the land of Gilead.

27 And it came to pass, when David was come to Mahanaim, that Shobi the son of Nahash of Rabbah of the children of Ammon, and Machir the son of Ammiel of Lodebar, and Barzillai the Gileadite of Rogelim,

28 Brought beds, and basons, and earthen vessels, and wheat, and barley, and flour, and parched corn, and beans, and lentiles, and parched pulse,

29 And honey, and butter, and sheep, and cheese of kine, for David, and for the people that were with him, to eat: for they said, The people is hungry, and weary, and thirsty, in the wilderness.

« »

G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. This night. Achitophel has a mind to shew that he is not only an able statesman, but a good general. H. — On such occasions, expedition is of the utmost consequence, that the people may not have time to enter into themselves, or to concentrate about their lawful king. “Nothing is more delightful than haste in civil discord, where action is more requisite than consultation.” By delays, “he would give the wicked an opportunity to repent, and the good would unite together. Crimes are confirmed by rushing on; good counsels by deliberation.” Scelera impetu; bona consilia mora valescere. Tacit. Hist. i.

Ver. 2. Handed. He has not had time to collect forces. — Alone. Heb. also, “the king also;” so that the people will be saved by flight. H.

Ver. 3. One man. They will return with such unanimity, when their leader is cut off. M. — David was the one man whom his son desired to kill, as the latter was the only one whom David ordered to be spared. C. xviii. 5. H. — Heb. seems rather transposed: “I will bring back all the people to thee, as all the people, whom thou seekest, are returned; and all the people shall be in peace:” or, … “when all those, whom thou desirest, shall be returned, &c. C. — Sept. “as a bride returns to her husband; only the soul of one thou seekest, and peace shall be to all the people.” H.

Ver. 7. This time, though he displays such prudence on all other occasions; or, “at this time” the situation of affairs is such, that it may prove dangerous to push people, who are already desperate, to extremities. Here we behold, how different sentiments may appear equally plausible. H. — Mind, reduced to despair. The maxim is beautiful, as well as the comparison. See Osee xiii. 7. Prov. xvii. 12. Lam. iii. 10. — People. Heb. adds, “in the night;” or, “he will not suffer the people to pass the night” in repose. C. — He will not entrust his person to a faithless multitude, but will be surrounded with a chosen band, with whom he may escape, even though the rest should flee. H. — Achitophel had represented David abandoned by his men. M.

Ver. 9. First. Heb. “If they attack them at first.” C. — Report will easily represent the engagement as unfavourable to Absalom; and this will be readily believed, as all are convinced of David’s valour. H. — Nothing ought to be risked in such beginnings. C.

Ver. 10. Man. Heb. “the son of valour himself.” Achitophel, or any other. M.

Ver. 11. Of them, their general. Heb. “and thy face shall go to battle.” Ex. xxiii. 14.

Ver. 12. Dew, which there falleth every night, in summer, like rain. Deut. xxxiii. 28. Some of the light armed troops of the Romans were called Rorarii, because they fell upon the enemy, and began the battle.

Ver. 13. Ropes, armed with hooks, to pull down the walls, and to move the battering engines. All the discourse of Chusai tends to fill the mind of the young prince with vanity; as if he could overcome all opposition when surrounded with the armies of Israel, (C.) at the head of which he would appear, instead of Achitophel, v. 1. M.

Ver. 14. Profitable, to the cause of Absalom, more than that of Chusai, which was also very plausible. H. — Lord. The Scripture always directs us to fix our thoughts on God, as the arbiter of all human affairs. C. — Heb. “for the Lord had ordained to dissipate the good counsel,” &c. H. — “Plerumque qui fortunam mutaturus est consilia corrumpit, efficitque, quod miserrimum est, ut quod accidit, etiam merito accidisse videatur, et casus in culpam transeat,” Peterc. ii.

Ver. 15. Thus. He discloses the secrets of the person who had consulted him, (C.) as his engagements to David and to his country were prior, and more to be observed, to prevent the effects of civil war. H.

Ver. 16. Over the Jordan, that it might be some sort of barrier, in case Absalom changed his mind, to follow the advice of Achitophel.

Ver. 17. Robel, near Jerusalem, on the east. M. — Maid, under the pretence of washing linen. S. Jer. Trad.

Ver. 18. It, as it was level with the ground; so that a cloth being spread over it, prevented all suspicion. It had no water.

Ver. 19. Barley, which was afterwards fried with oil, and eaten. Ptisanas may also denote wheat, &c. Grana cantusa. Theodot. — “Figs.” C. — Sept. have the original (hariphoth) untranslated. H.

Ver. 20. Water. Heb. “they have crossed the brook of water.” C.

Ver. 22. River. Heb. “Jordan.” H. — They had travelled twenty leagues in the day and night after their departure from Jerusalem. C.

Ver. 23. Order, making his will. M. — Hanged himself. Some Rabbins pretend that he died of quinsey, or suffocated with grief. But it is almost universally believed that he set a pattern to Judas, the traitor, in this mode of dying, as well as in perfidy. He was aware that Absalom was undone, and vexed that his counsel had been disregarded. The most prudent of this world are often blinded to their own welfare. The Jews had not yet begun to refuse the rites of sepulture to suicides. C.

Ver. 24. To the camp. The city of Mahanaim, the name of which in Hebrew, signifies The Camp. It was a city of note at that time; as appears from its having been chosen by Isoboseth for the place of his residence. Ch. — The Vulgate often translates Mahanaim, or Manaim. See C. ii. 8. 12. H. — Him. It is not known how soon. But he probably waited till he had collected his forces. David had done the like, and was joined by the king of Ammon, v. 27.

Ver. 25. Jazrael, or Israel. D. — Gortius would read Ismael, as 1 Par. ii. 17, Jether, the Ismaelite. H. — Went in. This expressing makes Sanchez believe that Amasa was illegitimate. M. — Naas is either the name of Isai’s wife, or rather the latter had both names. 1 Par. ii. 13. 16. Sept. read Jesse, in the edition of Complut.; in others, Naas. C. — Joab; so that these two were own cousins, and both nephews of David.

Ver. 27. Camp, v. 24. H. — Sobi, whom David had set upon the throne, instead of Hanon. C. x. — Machir, who had the care of Miphiboseth. C. ix. 4. — Berzellai. See C. xix. 31.

Ver. 28. Beds, will all the necessary furniture, coverlets, &c. Roman Sept. “ten beds, with fur on both sides.” — Tapestry. Some would translate, “bottles,” (Chal.) or “cauldrons;” (Roma. Sept.) but other editions agree with the Vulg. — Vessels. These are necessary, as much as things of greater magnificence. Precious metals were then rarely used in the kitchen. — Pulse, (cicer) or “parched peas.” Heb. kali, is thus twice translated, as it had been rendered parched corn. It signifies any thing “parched.” The ancients made great use of such food in journeys, as the Ethiopians and Turks do still. Athen. ii. 13. Busbec. iii. Bellon. ii. 53. C.

Ver. 29. Calves. Many translate the Heb. “cheese of kine.” Theodotion. — “Calves fed with milk.” H. — Wilderness, where they had been; unless this be placed out of its natural order. C. — The value of a present depends greatly on the time when it is made. H. — “How much dost thou esteem a hospitable reception in a wilderness?” &c. Seneca, Ben. vi. 15.