King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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2 Samuel 2

David made king in Hebron. (1-7) Abner makes Ishbosheth king Battle between Abner’s men and those of Joab. (8-17) Asahel slain by Abner: 25-32. Both parties retreat. (18-24)

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David made king in Hebron

1 And it came to pass after this, that David enquired of the LORD, saying, Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah? And the LORD said unto him, Go up. And David said, Whither shall I go up? And he said, Unto Hebron.

2 So David went up thither, and his two wives also, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail Nabal’s wife the Carmelite.

3 And his men that were with him did David bring up, every man with his household: and they dwelt in the cities of Hebron.

4 And the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah. And they told David, saying, That the men of Jabeshgilead were they that buried Saul.

5 And David sent messengers unto the men of Jabeshgilead, and said unto them, Blessed be ye of the LORD, that ye have shewed this kindness unto your lord, even unto Saul, and have buried him.

6 And now the LORD shew kindness and truth unto you: and I also will requite you this kindness, because ye have done this thing.

7 Therefore now let your hands be strengthened, and be ye valiant: for your master Saul is dead, and also the house of Judah have anointed me king over them.

Abner makes Ishbosheth king Battle between Abner’s men and those of Joab

8 But Abner the son of Ner, captain of Saul’s host, took Ishbosheth the son of Saul, and brought him over to Mahanaim;

9 And made him king over Gilead, and over the Ashurites, and over Jezreel, and over Ephraim, and over Benjamin, and over all Israel.

10 Ishbosheth Saul’s son was forty years old when he began to reign over Israel, and reigned two years. But the house of Judah followed David.

11 And the time that David was king in Hebron over the house of Judah was seven years and six months.

12 And Abner the son of Ner, and the servants of Ishbosheth the son of Saul, went out from Mahanaim to Gibeon.

13 And Joab the son of Zeruiah, and the servants of David, went out, and met together by the pool of Gibeon: and they sat down, the one on the one side of the pool, and the other on the other side of the pool.

14 And Abner said to Joab, Let the young men now arise, and play before us. And Joab said, Let them arise.

15 Then there arose and went over by number twelve of Benjamin, which pertained to Ishbosheth the son of Saul, and twelve of the servants of David.

16 And they caught every one his fellow by the head, and thrust his sword in his fellow’s side; so they fell down together: wherefore that place was called Helkathhazzurim, which is in Gibeon.

17 And there was a very sore battle that day; and Abner was beaten, and the men of Israel, before the servants of David.

Asahel slain by Abner: 25-32. Both parties retreat

18 And there were three sons of Zeruiah there, Joab, and Abishai, and Asahel: and Asahel was as light of foot as a wild roe.

19 And Asahel pursued after Abner; and in going he turned not to the right hand nor to the left from following Abner.

20 Then Abner looked behind him, and said, Art thou Asahel? And he answered, I am.

21 And Abner said to him, Turn thee aside to thy right hand or to thy left, and lay thee hold on one of the young men, and take thee his armour. But Asahel would not turn aside from following of him.

22 And Abner said again to Asahel, Turn thee aside from following me: wherefore should I smite thee to the ground? how then should I hold up my face to Joab thy brother?

23 Howbeit he refused to turn aside: wherefore Abner with the hinder end of the spear smote him under the fifth rib, that the spear came out behind him; and he fell down there, and died in the same place: and it came to pass, that as many as came to the place where Asahel fell down and died stood still.

24 Joab also and Abishai pursued after Abner: and the sun went down when they were come to the hill of Ammah, that lieth before Giah by the way of the wilderness of Gibeon.

25 And the children of Benjamin gathered themselves together after Abner, and became one troop, and stood on the top of an hill.

26 Then Abner called to Joab, and said, Shall the sword devour for ever? knowest thou not that it will be bitterness in the latter end? how long shall it be then, ere thou bid the people return from following their brethren?

27 And Joab said, As God liveth, unless thou hadst spoken, surely then in the morning the people had gone up every one from following his brother.

28 So Joab blew a trumpet, and all the people stood still, and pursued after Israel no more, neither fought they any more.

29 And Abner and his men walked all that night through the plain, and passed over Jordan, and went through all Bithron, and they came to Mahanaim.

30 And Joab returned from following Abner: and when he had gathered all the people together, there lacked of David’s servants nineteen men and Asahel.

31 But the servants of David had smitten of Benjamin, and of Abner’s men, so that three hundred and threescore men died.

32 And they took up Asahel, and buried him in the sepulchre of his father, which was in Bethlehem. And Joab and his men went all night, and they came to Hebron at break of day.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Juda. David thought it was his duty to co-operate with the designs of Providence. He consults the Lord (C.) by means of Abiathar, (Abul.) or by a prophet. Joseph. — Hebron, ennobled by the patriarchs. M. — It was also in the centre of Juda, and the strongest place belonging to that tribe. C. — Part of Jerusalem was still in the hands of the Jebusites. H.

Ver. 3. Towns, villages, and dependencies of Hebron.

Ver. 4. Juda, without the concurrence of the other tribes, (C.) which would be an evil precedent in a commonwealth, unless God had authorized them by the declaration of his will. Grot. — Samuel had before anointed David, and given him a right to the crown, (W.) jus ad regnum. But this anointing gives him a right to govern, jus in regno; (C.) or rather it proves, that the tribe submitted voluntarily to his dominion, which he had already (H.) lawfully begun to exercise, when he put the Amalecite to death. Abulensis. T. — Told, perhaps by some ill-designing men, who wished to irritate David against those who had shewn an attachment to Saul, unless the king had made enquiry, thinking it his duty to bury the deceased. C.

Ver. 6. And truth, or a real kindness. God will reward you for the sincere piety which you have shewn towards the dead. C. — Will. I do, by these messengers, thank you. Louis de Dieu.

Ver. 7. King. He invites them to concur with the men of Juda, hoping that all Israel would be influenced by their example. But his hopes proved abortive, as Abner caused Isboseth to be proclaimed king in the vicinity at Mahanaim.

Ver. 8. Camp. Heb. Machanayim, which many take for a proper name (C.) of the town, on the river Jabok, where Jacob had encamped. Gen. xxxii. 2. H. — Abner was aware that he should not retain his authority under David, and therefore conducted Isboseth to the camps in various places, (M.) but chiefly on the east side of the Jordan, (H. v. 29.) where the people were particularly attached to Saul’s family. Isboseth seems to have been a fit tool for his purpose.

Ver. 9. Gessuri. There was one south of Juda: but this country was probably near Hermon, and might be tributary to Israel. David perhaps married this king’s daughter, in order to detach him from the party of Isboseth. C. iii. 3. Heb. reads, “Assuri;” and S. Jerom observes, that many explained it of the tribe of Aser, (Trad. Heb.) with the Chaldee, (D. M.) or of the Assurians. Gen. xxv. 3. — Israel, by degrees. In the mean time the Philistines occupied many cities, which might prevent Isboseth from attempting to fix his residence on the west side of the Jordan, v. 19.

Ver. 10. He reigned two years, viz. before he began visibly to decline: but in all he reigned seven years and six months: for so long David reigned in Hebron. Ch. W. — The Jews admit of an interregnum in Israel of above five years, which is by no means probable. Two years elapsed before the two houses came to an open war; (Salien) soon after which, the power of Isboseth was greatly weakened by the defeat, and afterwards by the defection, of Abner. H. — Hence the sacred historian refers to the commencement of hostilities, and not to the end of Isboseth’s dominion. E. T. C.

Ver. 12. Servants; guards, army. M. — Camp; or from Machanayim to Gabaon, in the tribe of Benjamin, about six miles from Jerusalem. C. — Sept. leave the former word untranslated, “Manaeim.” H.

Ver. 14. Play, like the gladiators with drawn swords, which formed one of the principal diversions at Rome, (C.) while it was pagan. This might be considered as a prelude to the ensuing engagement; or like a detachment of twelve on each side, fighting to shew the prowess of their respective armies; as the three Horatii and Curiatii did afterwards, to spare the effusion of blood. But there is no mention that Abner and Joab had authority to agree that these champions should decide the fate of the two kingdoms, (H.) whence they are generally accused of ostentation; though the soldiers, not being acquainted with their motives, were obliged to obey. T. M.

Ver. 16. Together. Some understand this only of Abner’s soldiers, as the original may be explained: “And they (David’s men) caught every on one his,” &c. But it is more generally believed that all fell. C. — Rufin has erroneously translated Josephus in the former sense, and has lead Comestor, Lyran, &c. into this opinion. T. — Valiant. Heb. “the portion of the smooth stones, (hatsurim, 1 K. xvii. 40. or) of the brave.” C.

Ver. 18. Woods. Swiftness was one great qualification of a warrior. C. i. 23. Homer generally styles Achilles, “the swift-footed.”

Ver. 21. Spoils. Attack one who may be a more equal match for thee. H.

Ver. 22. Brother. It seems they were great friends, though they had espoused different parties. C.

Ver. 23. Stroke, (aversâ.) Heb. “with the hinder end of the spear, under the fifth rib.“ Sept. “in the loin.”

Ver. 24. Wilderness, or land which was not ploughed, though fruitful.

Ver. 26. Destruction. Sept. “till thou hast gained a complete victory?” Chal. “to separation?” Must we come to an eternal rupture? — Despair? Heb. “that it will be bitterness in the end?” Abner insinuates that they had commenced in a sort of play, but the consequences had already proved too serious; and if Joab continued to pursue, his men would be rendered desperate. C. — Despair makes people perform wonders, to revenge themselves. M.

Ver. 27. Sooner. Heb. “If thou hadst not spoken,” (D.) by challenging, v. 14. Josephus, &c. C.

Ver. 28. Trumpet. It was not dishonourable for a general to do this himself. C. xviii. 16. But among the Hebrews, the priests generally performed this office. C.

Ver. 29. Beth-horon. Sept. “the extended plain.” Heb. Bithrun, (H.) or the country towards the Jordan. C. — Thus the battle ended in his disgrace; (H.) and many from all Israel began to flock to the standard of David. 1 Par. xii. 22. T.

Ver. 32. Day, after a march of ten hours. Adric. M.