King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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2 Samuel 19

Joab causes David to cease mourning. (1-8) David returns to Jordan. (9-15) He pardons Shimei. (16-23) Mephibosheth excused. (24-30) David’s parting with Barzillai. (31-39) Israel quarrels with Judah. (40-43)

2 Samuel 19 Audio:

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Joab causes David to cease mourning

1 And it was told Joab, Behold, the king weepeth and mourneth for Absalom.

2 And the victory that day was turned into mourning unto all the people: for the people heard say that day how the king was grieved for his son.

3 And the people gat them by stealth that day into the city, as people being ashamed steal away when they flee in battle.

4 But the king covered his face, and the king cried with a loud voice, O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son!

5 And Joab came into the house to the king, and said, Thou hast shamed this day the faces of all thy servants, which this day have saved thy life, and the lives of thy sons and of thy daughters, and the lives of thy wives, and the lives of thy concubines;

6 In that thou lovest thine enemies, and hatest thy friends. For thou hast declared this day, that thou regardest neither princes nor servants: for this day I perceive, that if Absalom had lived, and all we had died this day, then it had pleased thee well.

7 Now therefore arise, go forth, and speak comfortably unto thy servants: for I swear by the LORD, if thou go not forth, there will not tarry one with thee this night: and that will be worse unto thee than all the evil that befell thee from thy youth until now.

8 Then the king arose, and sat in the gate. And they told unto all the people, saying, Behold, the king doth sit in the gate. And all the people came before the king: for Israel had fled every man to his tent.

David returns to Jordan

9 And all the people were at strife throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, The king saved us out of the hand of our enemies, and he delivered us out of the hand of the Philistines; and now he is fled out of the land for Absalom.

10 And Absalom, whom we anointed over us, is dead in battle. Now therefore why speak ye not a word of bringing the king back?

11 And king David sent to Zadok and to Abiathar the priests, saying, Speak unto the elders of Judah, saying, Why are ye the last to bring the king back to his house? seeing the speech of all Israel is come to the king, even to his house.

12 Ye are my brethren, ye are my bones and my flesh: wherefore then are ye the last to bring back the king?

13 And say ye to Amasa, Art thou not of my bone, and of my flesh? God do so to me, and more also, if thou be not captain of the host before me continually in the room of Joab.

14 And he bowed the heart of all the men of Judah, even as the heart of one man; so that they sent this word unto the king, Return thou, and all thy servants.

15 So the king returned, and came to Jordan. And Judah came to Gilgal, to go to meet the king, to conduct the king over Jordan.

He pardons Shimei

16 And Shimei the son of Gera, a Benjamite, which was of Bahurim, hasted and came down with the men of Judah to meet king David.

17 And there were a thousand men of Benjamin with him, and Ziba the servant of the house of Saul, and his fifteen sons and his twenty servants with him; and they went over Jordan before the king.

18 And there went over a ferry boat to carry over the king’s household, and to do what he thought good. And Shimei the son of Gera fell down before the king, as he was come over Jordan;

19 And said unto the king, Let not my lord impute iniquity unto me, neither do thou remember that which thy servant did perversely the day that my lord the king went out of Jerusalem, that the king should take it to his heart.

20 For thy servant doth know that I have sinned: therefore, behold, I am come the first this day of all the house of Joseph to go down to meet my lord the king.

21 But Abishai the son of Zeruiah answered and said, Shall not Shimei be put to death for this, because he cursed the LORD’s anointed?

22 And David said, What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah, that ye should this day be adversaries unto me? shall there any man be put to death this day in Israel? for do not I know that I am this day king over Israel?

23 Therefore the king said unto Shimei, Thou shalt not die. And the king sware unto him.

Mephibosheth excused

24 And Mephibosheth the son of Saul came down to meet the king, and had neither dressed his feet, nor trimmed his beard, nor washed his clothes, from the day the king departed until the day he came again in peace.

25 And it came to pass, when he was come to Jerusalem to meet the king, that the king said unto him, Wherefore wentest not thou with me, Mephibosheth?

26 And he answered, My lord, O king, my servant deceived me: for thy servant said, I will saddle me an ass, that I may ride thereon, and go to the king; because thy servant is lame.

27 And he hath slandered thy servant unto my lord the king; but my lord the king is as an angel of God: do therefore what is good in thine eyes.

28 For all of my father’s house were but dead men before my lord the king: yet didst thou set thy servant among them that did eat at thine own table. What right therefore have I yet to cry any more unto the king?

29 And the king said unto him, Why speakest thou any more of thy matters? I have said, Thou and Ziba divide the land.

30 And Mephibosheth said unto the king, Yea, let him take all, forasmuch as my lord the king is come again in peace unto his own house.

David’s parting with Barzillai

31 And Barzillai the Gileadite came down from Rogelim, and went over Jordan with the king, to conduct him over Jordan.

32 Now Barzillai was a very aged man, even fourscore years old: and he had provided the king of sustenance while he lay at Mahanaim; for he was a very great man.

33 And the king said unto Barzillai, Come thou over with me, and I will feed thee with me in Jerusalem.

34 And Barzillai said unto the king, How long have I to live, that I should go up with the king unto Jerusalem?

35 I am this day fourscore years old: and can I discern between good and evil? can thy servant taste what I eat or what I drink? can I hear any more the voice of singing men and singing women? wherefore then should thy servant be yet a burden unto my lord the king?

36 Thy servant will go a little way over Jordan with the king: and why should the king recompense it me with such a reward?

37 Let thy servant, I pray thee, turn back again, that I may die in mine own city, and be buried by the grave of my father and of my mother. But behold thy servant Chimham; let him go over with my lord the king; and do to him what shall seem good unto thee.

38 And the king answered, Chimham shall go over with me, and I will do to him that which shall seem good unto thee: and whatsoever thou shalt require of me, that will I do for thee.

39 And all the people went over Jordan. And when the king was come over, the king kissed Barzillai, and blessed him; and he returned unto his own place.

Israel quarrels with Judah

40 Then the king went on to Gilgal, and Chimham went on with him: and all the people of Judah conducted the king, and also half the people of Israel.

41 And, behold, all the men of Israel came to the king, and said unto the king, Why have our brethren the men of Judah stolen thee away, and have brought the king, and his household, and all David’s men with him, over Jordan?

42 And all the men of Judah answered the men of Israel, Because the king is near of kin to us: wherefore then be ye angry for this matter? have we eaten at all of the king’s cost? or hath he given us any gift?

43 And the men of Israel answered the men of Judah, and said, We have ten parts in the king, and we have also more right in David than ye: why then did ye despise us, that our advice should not be first had in bringing back our king? And the words of the men of Judah were fiercer than the words of the men of Israel.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 2. Mourning, as is commonly the case in civil wars. The king being oppressed with grief, a triumph was out of season. M.

Ver. 3. Shunned. Heb. “stole away,” fearing to enter; though they did at last, in a clandestine manner, (C.) by another gate. M.

Ver. 4. Head, continuing to mourn. See C. xv. 30. — Absalom. The name is often repeated, as is usual on such occasions. Virg. Ec. v. — Thus Bion says, “I bewail Adonis. The beautiful Adonis is no more,” &c.

Ver. 5. Shamed; deceived the expectations. See Joel ii. 12. Joab was one of those who spoil all their services by ostentation and rudeness. Like the first Anthony, Immodicus lingua, obsequii insolens, nimius commemorandis quæ meruisset. Tacit. Hist. iv. — He speaks to David, his king, as one friend would not do to another. “That sort of men is truly odious, who upbraid with their kindness; which those who have experienced, rather than the authors, ought to remember.” Cicero. Amicit.

Ver. 6. Thee. What insolence! Kings are often forced to brook the affronts of their higher servants, as well as other masters. There is a gradation in human affairs, which make the next in dignity and power think himself equal to the highest. Similis ero altissimo. Isai. xiv. 14. H. — David sincerely desired the welfare of all his people, as well as of Absalom. M.

Ver. 7. To. (satisfac). Heb. “speak to the heart,” &c. with a cheerful countenance, to testify that their services will be rewarded. C.

Ver. 8. Israel, the rebels, as distinguished from Juda, or those who adhered to David; though many of all the tribes sided with Absalom, v. 11. H.

Ver. 10. Silent; inactive and indifferent, as this word often denotes. Jos. x. 12. C.

Ver. 11. Priests, whose influence was very great. H. — Last. David, like an able politician, shews the men of his own tribe, how dishonourable it will be for them to be outdone by the rest. C. — Talk: reported by a solemn ceremony. S. Jer. Trad. M. — Sept. logos, “the word, (H.) council,” &c. Salien.

Ver. 13. Flesh? Amasa was his nephew, and as he had been appointed general by Absalom, his influence would be the greatest to bring back those who had given into the delusion. A sense of his misconduct would also render him more humble, and easier to manage than Joab, whose insolence caused him to be insupportable to the king. David designed to transfer the authority of the latter, (C.) which he had now enjoyed 23 years, since the taking of Sion. David’s promise did not oblige him to keep Joab in that office for life, if his conduct should prove unsatisfactory. Hence he appointed Amasa to pursue the rebels, and afterwards Abisai, setting Joab aside. But the haughty warrior supplanted both, and retained the command, as it were in spite of his sovereign. C. xx. 4. 15. &c. H.

Ver. 14. And he; God, David, or rather Amasa. C. — All contributed, in different degrees, to bring about his happy union. H.

Ver. 15. Galgal, and thence proceeded across the Jordan, (C.) an hour and a half’s walk. M.

Ver. 16. Semei, who had cursed David in his adversity, is now ready to fawn upon him, when he sees him restored to his throne. He was chief of a thousand, in Benjamin.

Ver. 17. Over, or “into:” (irrumpentes. H.) probably on horseback. M.

Ver. 18. Fords. Heb. also, “they took over the ferry-boat;” (C.) or, “there went across a ferry-boat to carry over the,” &c.

Ver. 20. Joseph. Semei was a Benjamite: but Joseph designates all the Israelites, except those of Juda, (W.) as these two possessed the birth-right of Ruben. 1 Par. v. 1. M. See Ps. lxxix. 1. Zac. x. 6. — But we may translate with the Sept. “before all the house of Joseph.” Chal. Syr. &c. C.

Ver. 22. Sons. He refers to the preceding opposition of Joab, whom Abisai was beginning to imitate. H. — Satan; adversary. Mat. xvi. 23. — This day. Formerly, no one was to be put to death on days of rejoicing, and the prisoners were liberated when the king ascended the throne. A malefactor continued for a long time to be set free on the day of the passover. Mat. xxvii. 15. C. — The Romans would never punish any one with death, on the days “whenever (Augustus) entered the city.” Sueton. lvii. — David considers this memorable day as a new epoch of his sovereignty, and will not suffer it to be rendered sorrowful. See 1 K. xi. 13. H. — The punishment of Semei might have had the most pernicious consequences, as the rest of Israel would have feared a similar treatment. M. — Salien, A. 3010.

Ver. 23. Die, during my life, (M.) or by my hand, without some farther transgression. Hence the oath is worded, I will not kill thee with the sword. 3 K. ii. 8. H. — Solomon was charged not to let his crime pass unpunished. But he did not kill him till he had shewed his disobedience. C. — The oaths of parents do not always (H.) pertain to their heirs. Grotius.

Ver. 24. Feet, which was very requisite in those countries, to prevent a disagreeable smell, for which the Jews were noted. Martial iv. 4. — Ammianus (2) speaking of the emperor Marcus says, Cum Palestinam transiret, fœtentium Juædorum et tumultuantium sæpe tædio percitur. Some have thought that this odour was removed by baptism. Basnage, T. iii. p. 194. Rom. Sept. adds, “neither had he cut his nails, nor (made or) dressed his mustaches,” or upper lip. The chin, as far as the ears, was not shaved by the Jews. To cut all the hair was a mark of sorrow, no less than to neglect dressing it. See Lev. xxi. 5. C. — By the external appearance of Miphiboseth, David might be convinced that he had indulged his grief for a long time; (M.) which might serve to remove the ill impressions which he had received against the helpless son of his friend Jonathan.

Ver. 25. Met. Prot. “was come to Jerusalem, to meet the king.” H. — But his usual residence was in the city, where Siba had left him. C. xvi. 3. We should therefore translate, “And coming to meet the king at his arrival in Jerusalem.” C.

Ver. 26. Despised. Heb. and Chal. “acted treacherously against me.” M.

Ver. 27. God. It is not necessary for me to say any more in my defence. Thou art convinced of my innocence; and the accusation was in itself improbable, as I could never expect to be better treated by another king. I am resigned to abide by thy decision. H. — I cannot complain. C.

Ver. 28. Death, on account of Saul’s persecution, and his sons assuming the purple; so that all his adherents might have been justly slain. C. — Cry, as if I had been wronged. M.

Ver. 29. More. Hebrew adds, “concerning thy affairs. I have said, Thou and Siba divide the inheritance.” H. — Thou as the owner, Siba as the administrator, or steward, as he was before. Jun. Malv. — Sanchez thinks that David made a compensation to Miphiboseth, for what he left in the hands of his servant, as he did not wish to disturb the harmony of the day, nor to inflict any punishment on offenders. M. — But most interpreters accuse David of injustice, in suffering Siba to reap the fruits of his perfidy, &c. Salien. C. &c. — It is not probable, however, that he would deviate from his wonted generosity, nor suffer Miphiboseth to be injured, if he were convinced of his innocence. Perhaps he might judge it expedient that Siba should have a separate establishment, as he was now unfit to act in his former capacity, and had shewn some sort of affection towards his sovereign, when his own son, and most of his subjects, had revolted against him. H.

Ver. 30. House. He is all to me. M.

Ver. 32. Camp; Mahanaim. C. xvii. 28.

Ver. 33. Secure. Sept. “I will continually nourish thy old age.” H.

Ver. 35. Burden, as I am unfit for any service. M.

Ver. 36. With thee. He did not proceed as far as Galgal; (H.) but took his leave of the king, intimating, what we never witness at the present day, that he was too old to enjoy the pleasures of a court! C.

Ver. 37. Chamaam, is supposed to have been the son of the good old man. C.

Ver. 40. There; coming up, for the most part, after the king had crossed the river. They had intended to have escorted him from Mahanaim. H.

Ver. 41. Stolen; as if the king were not the common father of all. Salien.

Ver. 42. Nearer related. H. — Us. What advantage have we gained? or, what have you lost? C.

Ver. 43. Ten parts. They might have said they were twelve tribes for one; and though the tribe of Juda was more numerous than many others, it was not equal to them all. C. — But the disproportion was by no means so great as ten to one; so that the Israelites unjustly pretended, that they had so much greater pretensions to the honour of bringing the king to his capital, in a sort of triumph. David might perhaps have waited a little longer, (H.) and shewed less predilection for his own tribe. C. Salien. — But what obligation was there for either? He had been long enough from Jerusalem, and eager to return, as soon as Amasa brought to him the tribe of Juda, and several of Benjamin, v. 16. What hindered the rest from coming in time? They seem to have pretended more loyalty than they really possessed; otherwise they would not have joined in every rebellion. H. — First. Hebrew may be, “did not I first propose the bringing back the king?” v. 11. C. — Israel. Tostat says, it is probable Juda asserted that the king did not, at all, belong to Israel; and hence Seba repeated the words with indignation. C. xx. 1. It is wonderful that David did not repress this altercation. Abulensis supposes that he leaned too much towards his own tribe; for which, if true, we behold he was soon chastised; as God is always ready to reward or punish his servants. Salien. — But all that David said is not recorded. He could hardly have continued silent. All his endeavours to appease the sedition were, however, rendered abortive, by the evil dispositions of his subjects. H.