King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

2 Samuel > Old Testament > Home

2 Samuel 20

Sheba’s rebellion. (1-3) Amasa slain by Joab. (4-13) Sheba takes refuge in Abel. (14-22) David’s officers. (23-26)

2 Samuel 20 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.

Sheba’s rebellion

1 And there happened to be there a man of Belial, whose name was Sheba, the son of Bichri, a Benjamite: and he blew a trumpet, and said, We have no part in David, neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: every man to his tents, O Israel.

2 So every man of Israel went up from after David, and followed Sheba the son of Bichri: but the men of Judah clave unto their king, from Jordan even to Jerusalem.

3 And David came to his house at Jerusalem; and the king took the ten women his concubines, whom he had left to keep the house, and put them in ward, and fed them, but went not in unto them. So they were shut up unto the day of their death, living in widowhood.

Amasa slain by Joab

4 Then said the king to Amasa, Assemble me the men of Judah within three days, and be thou here present.

5 So Amasa went to assemble the men of Judah: but he tarried longer than the set time which he had appointed him.

6 And David said to Abishai, Now shall Sheba the son of Bichri do us more harm than did Absalom: take thou thy lord’s servants, and pursue after him, lest he get him fenced cities, and escape us.

7 And there went out after him Joab’s men, and the Cherethites, and the Pelethites, and all the mighty men: and they went out of Jerusalem, to pursue after Sheba the son of Bichri.

8 When they were at the great stone which is in Gibeon, Amasa went before them. And Joab’s garment that he had put on was girded unto him, and upon it a girdle with a sword fastened upon his loins in the sheath thereof; and as he went forth it fell out.

9 And Joab said to Amasa, Art thou in health, my brother? And Joab took Amasa by the beard with the right hand to kiss him.

10 But Amasa took no heed to the sword that was in Joab’s hand: so he smote him therewith in the fifth rib, and shed out his bowels to the ground, and struck him not again; and he died. So Joab and Abishai his brother pursued after Sheba the son of Bichri.

11 And one of Joab’s men stood by him, and said, He that favoureth Joab, and he that is for David, let him go after Joab.

12 And Amasa wallowed in blood in the midst of the highway. And when the man saw that all the people stood still, he removed Amasa out of the highway into the field, and cast a cloth upon him, when he saw that every one that came by him stood still.

13 When he was removed out of the highway, all the people went on after Joab, to pursue after Sheba the son of Bichri.

Sheba takes refuge in Abel

14 And he went through all the tribes of Israel unto Abel, and to Bethmaachah, and all the Berites: and they were gathered together, and went also after him.

15 And they came and besieged him in Abel of Bethmaachah, and they cast up a bank against the city, and it stood in the trench: and all the people that were with Joab battered the wall, to throw it down.

16 Then cried a wise woman out of the city, Hear, hear; say, I pray you, unto Joab, Come near hither, that I may speak with thee.

17 And when he was come near unto her, the woman said, Art thou Joab? And he answered, I am he. Then she said unto him, Hear the words of thine handmaid. And he answered, I do hear.

18 Then she spake, saying, They were wont to speak in old time, saying, They shall surely ask counsel at Abel: and so they ended the matter.

19 I am one of them that are peaceable and faithful in Israel: thou seekest to destroy a city and a mother in Israel: why wilt thou swallow up the inheritance of the LORD?

20 And Joab answered and said, Far be it, far be it from me, that I should swallow up or destroy.

21 The matter is not so: but a man of mount Ephraim, Sheba the son of Bichri by name, hath lifted up his hand against the king, even against David: deliver him only, and I will depart from the city. And the woman said unto Joab, Behold, his head shall be thrown to thee over the wall.

22 Then the woman went unto all the people in her wisdom. And they cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri, and cast it out to Joab. And he blew a trumpet, and they retired from the city, every man to his tent. And Joab returned to Jerusalem unto the king.

David’s officers

23 Now Joab was over all the host of Israel: and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over the Cherethites and over the Pelethites:

24 And Adoram was over the tribute: and Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was recorder:

25 And Sheva was scribe: and Zadok and Abiathar were the priests:

26 And Ira also the Jairite was a chief ruler about David.

« »

G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Belial. Sept. “lawless.” — Jemini. The tribe of Benjamin continued to be rather disaffected. H. — Part. This was an usual mode of expressing a disunion. 3 K. xii. 16. Acts viii. 21. C. — See C. xix. 43. H. Seba was perhaps a kinsman of Saul, (M.) in come command. C.

Ver. 2. Jordan, near which the contest had happened. Some chosen troops attended Seba to the north, while the rest went home. H.

Ver. 3. Widowhood, or celibacy, (M.) like nuns. Grot. Salien. — David could not with propriety approach to them, (E.) as they resembled his daughters-in-law; (Lev. xviii. 15. M.) and no other person could marry them, while he was still their husband. H. — The punishment of seclusion was very small in the East, where women seldom go out. The Jews assert, that the widows of the Hebrew kings could not marry again. Selden. Uxor. i. 10. — The like custom formerly prevailed in Spain. Coun. of Toledo. xiii. 3. A.D. 683, of Saragossa, c. 5. A.D. 691. So great was the respect for the king or the apprehension, lest those who married their widows, should aspire to the throne. C.

Ver. 4. Here, to be invested with the command over the army, and to pursue Seba. M.

Ver. 5. Him, owing to some insuperable difficulties. He was not long behind, since he joined the forces at Gabaon, where he was treacherously slain by the envious Joab. H.

Ver. 6. Lord, the king; or perhaps Joab. M. — A select company always attended the king; and some of these he sent, for greater expedition, to attack Seba, before he had become too strong.

Ver. 7. Men. It seems Joab accompanied them, though in a manner divested of his command, by the king’s appointing Amasa, and then Abisai, to his exclusion. After the slaughter of the former, he resumed his authority; (v. 10) and David was forced to acquiesce, for fear of another civil war, reserving his punishment for more peaceable times. H.

Ver. 8. Stone, where Abner and Joab had formerly joined battle. C. ii. M. — Habit, or body. — Flank; they usually hand at the thigh. Ps. xliv. 4. — Strike: the scabbard was very wide; so that, when it was hanging very high, it would easily fall out, when he stooped; and thus afford Joab an opportunity of stabbing Amasa, without suspicion. C. — Prot. “Joab’s garment, that he had put on, was girded unto him, and upon it a girdle with a sword, fastened upon his loins, in the sheath thereof, and as he went forth, it fell out.”

Ver. 9. God, &c. Lit. “Hail, my brother.” H. — Kiss him. “In former times it was the custom, in Greece, for supplicants to touch the chin, (Plin. xi. 45.) having the left hand upon the person’s knees. Iliad A.) The touched a woman’s cheeks; (Eurip. Hecuba.) or, among the Hebrews, her chin. Cant. ii. 6. The Turks and Arabs still kiss the beard, with the utmost reverence. Thevenot xxii. Darvieux, C. vii. C.

Ver. 10. Struck him with his left hand. H. — Side. The same word is, elsewhere, translated groin; Sept. “loin.” Moderns commonly render “in the fifth rib.“ C. ii. 23. and iii. 27. and iv. 6. C. — Josephus, “the belly.”

Ver. 11. Some men. The same author and the Heb. only mention “one of,” &c. H. — Behold. Thus they insult over him, being attached to Joab. Heb. “Who loves Joab? and who is David? Let him follow Joab;” or, “who is this who wished to supplant Joab? and who desired to be in David’s favour, after Joab? C.

Ver. 12. A certain. Heb. “the man” stationed by Joab, near the body, to inform those who passed, that he had been justly slain. Josephus, (vii. 10,) who observes, that this crime of Joab proceeded from envy, and was less deserving of excuse than the murder of Abner. H.

Ver. 14. Tribes, north-west of the Jordan. C. — Abela and Bathmaacha. Cities of the tribe of Nephtali. Ch. — The former is called simply Abel (4 K. xv. 29. C.) as it is here by the Prot. version. H. — It is also called Abyla, (Luke iii. 1,) and Hoba, (Gen. xiv. 15. C.) between Damascus and Paneas, (Euseb.) situated on the borders of Syria, as well as Beth Maaca, or “the canton of Maacha,” or Machati. Jos. xii. 5. — Chosen. Heb. Berim, (which is translated “Berites,” by the Prot. H.) is derived from Bara, “to choose,” by S. Jerom. Sept. have read airim, “cities.” Some suppose that the inhabitants of Bahurim (near Mount Ephraim, v. 21, where Semei, a relation of Saul, and many disaffected people resided) shut themselves up with him in Abela.

Ver. 15. Works. Heb. a bank, or terrace against the city, and it stood in the trench; (H.) so that the town ditch was filled up, (Grot.) or terraces were raised, from which archers assailed the besieged. Joab made a ditch to defend his men from foreign assailants; and he had already taken the outward wall, so that the town could not hold out for any length of time. — The walls. S. Jerom thinks with battering rams: but they were not yet invented. C. — They undermined the walls, while some attempted to pull them down with hooks and ropes. C. xvii. 13. H.

Ver. 16. Say to Joab. This woman was noted for her prudence, and it was hoped that her words would have more influence to disarm Joab. She addresses those who were nearest the wall, that she may have an interview with the general, at the request of her fellow-citizens.

Ver. 18. End of their disputes, (H.) as Abela was remarkable for its wise counsellors, (M.) and equitable decisions; (H.) so that many came, from a distance, to consult the learned of this city. C. — Others suppose that she refers to the law, which ordains that peace shall first be proposed, and, if this had been done, the affair would long ago have been decided. Deut. xx. 10. Jonath. E. &c. — Heb. “They spoke a word at first: Let them ask at Abela, and so they shall make an end.” Much must be supplied to make the text conformable to the former explication. We may translate, “They said, in ancient times: Let those who require more, go seek at Abela: so they finished their discourse.” C. — Prot. “They shall surely ask counsel at Abel: and so the ended the matter.

Ver. 19. Truth. Heb. “I am peaceable, faithful in Israel.” H. — I am one of the cities most inclined to peace, and to the king’s service, noted for lessons of loyalty. C. — Probably there was an academy here. M. — Mother, city, or metropolis. The Hebrews styled the inferior towns, daughters. C. — Lord, a city belonging to Israel. H.

Ver. 20. God, (Absit.) Lit. “Far be it, far be it from me;” as we need not put the name of God in the mouth of this profane man, without reason. H.

Ver. 26. Jairite, a descendant of Jair, (C.) son of Manasses. H. — Priest. Hebrew cohen, respected like a priest, (H.) chief favourite, (W.) the Rab. (Chal.) chief counsellor of David, (Vatab.) almoner, &c. It is not certain that he was of the family of Aaron, or qualified to be the domestic chaplain of the king. See C. viii. 16, &c. No other king of Israel had an officer to whom this title was given. C.