2 Samuel 16


Ziba, servant of Mephibosheth, meets David with provisions, and

by false insinuations obtains the grant of his masters

property, 1-4.

Shimei abuses and curses David, who restrains Abishai from

slaying him, 5-14.

Hushai makes a feigned tender of his services to Absalom, 15-19.

Absalom calls a council and Ahithophel advises him to go in to

his father's concubines, 20-22.

Character of Ahithophel as a counselor, 23.


Verse 1. Two hundred loaves of bread] The word loaf gives us a

false idea of the ancient Jewish bread; it was thin cakes, not

yeasted and raised like ours.

Bunches of raisins] See on 1Sa 25:18.

Summer fruits] These were probably pumpions, cucumbers, or

watermelons. The two latter are extensively used in those

countries to refresh travellers in the burning heat of the summer.

Mr. Harmer supposes they are called summer fruits on this very


A bottle of wine.] A goat's skin full of wine; this I have

already shown was the general bottle in the Eastern countries; see

on 1Sa 25:18.

Verse 2. The asses be for the king's household] This is the

Eastern method of speaking when any thing is presented to a great

man: "This and this is for the slaves of the servants of your

majesty," when at the same time the presents are intended for the

sovereign himself, and are so understood. It is a high Eastern

compliment: These presents are not worthy of your acceptance; they

are only fit for the slaves of your slaves.

Verse 3. To-day shall the house of Israel] What a base wretch

was Ziba! and how unfounded was this accusation against the

peaceable, loyal and innocent Mephibosheth!

Verse 4. Thine are all] This conduct of David was very rash; he

spoiled an honourable man to reward a villain, not giving himself

time to look into the circumstances of the case. But David was in

heavy afflictions, and these sometimes make even a wise man mad.

Nothing should be done rashly; he who is in the habit of obeying

the first impulse of his passions or feelings, will seldom do a

right action, and never keep a clear conscience.

Verse 5. David came to Bahurim] This place lay northward of

Jerusalem, in the tribe of Benjamin. It is called Almon,

Jos 21:18; and

Alemeth, 1Ch 6:60. Bahurim signifies

youths, and Almuth youth; so the names are of the same import.

Cursed still as he came.] Used imprecations and execrations.

Verse 10. Because the Lord hath said] The particle vechi

should be translated for if, not because. FOR IF the Lord hath

said unto him, Curse David, who shall then say, Wherefore hast

thou done so!

Verse 11. Let him curse; for the Lord hath bidden him.] No soul

of man can suppose that ever God bade one man to curse another,

much less that he commanded such a wretch as Shimei to curse such

a man as David; but this is a peculiarity of the Hebrew language,

which does not always distinguish between permission and

commandment. Often the Scripture attributes to God what he only

permits to be done; or what in the course of his providence he

does not hinder. David, however, considers all this as being

permitted of God for his chastisement and humiliation. I cannot

withhold from my readers a very elegant poetic paraphrase of this

passage, from the pen of the Rev. Charles Wesley, one of the first

of Christian poets:-

"Pure from the blood of Saul in vain,

He dares not to the charge reply:

Uriah's doth the charge maintain,

Uriah's doth against him cry!

Let Shimei curse: the rod he bears

For sins which mercy had forgiven:

And in the wrongs of man reveres

The awful righteousness of heaven.

Lord, I adore thy righteous will,

Through every instrument of ill

My Father's goodness see;

Accept the complicated wrong

Of Shimei's hand and Shimei's tongue

As kind rebukes from THEE."

Verse 15. The men of Israel] These words are wanting in the

Chaldee, Septuagint, Syriac, Vulgate, and Arabic, and in two of

Kennicott's and De Rossi's MSS.

Verse 18. Whom the Lord and this people-choose] Here is an

equivocation; Hushai meant in his heart that God and all the

people of Israel had chosen David; but he spake so as to make

Absalom believe that he spoke of him: for whatever of insincerity

may appear in this, Hushai is alone answerable. What he says

afterwards may be understood in the same way.

Verse 21. Go in unto thy father's concubines] It may be

remembered that David left ten of them behind to take care of the

house, see 2Sa 15:16. Ahithophel advised this infernal measure,

in order to prevent the possibility of a reconciliation between

David and his son; thus was the prophecy to Nathan fulfilled,

2Sa 12:11. And this was probably transacted in the very same

place where David's eye took the adulterous view of Bath-sheba;

see 2Sa 11:2.

The wives of the conquered king were always the property of the

conqueror; and in possessing these, he appeared to possess the

right to the kingdom. Herodotus informs us that Smerdis, having

seized on the Persian throne after the death of Cambyses, espoused

all the wives of his predecessor, lib. iii., c. 68. But for a son

to take his father's wives was the sum of abomination, and was

death by the law of God, Le 20:11. This was a sin rarely found,

even among the Gentiles.

Every part of the conduct of Absalom shows him to have been a

most profligate young man; he was proud, vindictive, adulterous,

incestuous, a parricide, and, in fine, reprobate to every good

word and work. We still however recollect that David had

grievously sinned, and we should also recollect that he suffered

grievously for it; and that his humiliation, repentance, and

amendment, were most decisive and exemplary. Reader, God is as

just as he is merciful.

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