2 Samuel 20


Sheba raises an insurrection, and gains a party in Israel, 1, 2.

David shuts up the ten concubines who were defiled by Absalom,


Amasa is sent to assemble the men of Judah, 4, 5.

And in the mean time Abishai is sent to pursue Sheba, 6, 7.

Joab treacherously murders Amasa, 8-12.

Joab and the army continue the pursuit of Sheba, 13, 14.

He is besieged in Abel; and, by the counsels of a wise woman,

the people of Abel cut off his head, and throw it over the

wall to Joab; who blows the trumpet of peace, and he and his

men return to Jerusalem, 15-22.

Account of David's civil and military officers, 23-26.


Verse 1. Sheba, the son of Bichri] As this man was a Benjamite,

he probably belonged to the family of Saul; and he seems to have

had considerable influence in Israel to raise such an

insurrection: but we know nothing farther of him than what is

related in this place.

We have no part in David] We of Israel, we of the ten tribes,

are under no obligation to the house of David. Leave him, and let

every man fall into the ranks under his own leader.

Verse 3. The ten women] He could not well divorce them; he could

not punish them, as they were not in the transgression; he could

no more be familiar with them, because they had been defiled by

his son; and to have married them to other men might have been

dangerous to the state: therefore he shut them up and fed

them-made them quite comfortable, and they continued as widows

to their death.

Verse 4. Then said the king to Amasa] Thus he invests him with

the command of the army, and sends him to collect the men of

Judah, and to come back to receive his orders in relation to

Sheba, in three days. It appears that Amasa found more difficulty

in collecting his country-men than was at first supposed; and this

detaining him beyond the three days, David, fearing that Sheba's

rebellion would get head, sent Abishai, who it appears was

accompanied by Joab, to pursue after Sheba.

Amasa, it seems, got up with them at Gibeon, 2Sa 20:8, where he

was treacherously murdered by the execrable Joab.

Verse 8. Joab's garment] It appears that this was not a military

garment; and that Joab had no arms but a short sword, which he had

concealed in his girdle; and this sword, or knife, was so loose in

its sheath that it could be easily drawn out. It is thought

farther, that Joab, in passing to Amasa, stumbled, (for so some of

the versions, and able critics, understand the words it fell out.)

and that the sword fell down when he stumbled; that he took it up

with his left hand as if he had no bad intention; and then, taking

Amasa by the beard with his right hand, pretending to kiss him,

he, with his sword in his left hand, ripped up his bowels. This

seems to be the meaning of this very obscure verse. It is worthy

of remark that in the Eastern country it is the beard, not the

man, which is usually kissed.

Verse 10. In the fifth rib] I believe chomesh, which we

render here and elsewhere the fifth rib, means any part of the

abdominal region. The Septuagint translate it τηνψοαν, the groin;

the Targum, the right side of the thigh, i.e., (the phrase of the

Targumist being interpreted,) the privy parts. That it means some

part of the abdominal region, is evident from what follows, And

shed out his bowels to the ground. It appears from this that, in

plain English, he ripped up his belly.

Verse 11. He that favoureth Joab] As if he had said, There is

now no other commander besides Joab; and Joab is steadily attached

to David: let those therefore who are loyal follow Joab.

Verse 12. Amasa wallowed in blood] It is very likely that Amasa

did not immediately die; I have known instances of persons living

several hours after their bowels had been shed out.

Verse 14. Unto Abel] This is supposed to have been the capital

of the district called Abilene in St. Luke's Gospel, Lu 3:1.

Beth-maachah] Is supposed to have been in the northern part of

the Holy Land, on the confines of Syria, and probably in the tribe

of Naphtali.

Verse 15. They cast up a bank against the city] The word

solelah, which we render bank, means, most probably, a battering

engine of some kind, or a tower overlooking the walls, on which

archers and slingers could stand and annoy the inhabitants, while

others of the besiegers could proceed to sap the walls. That it

cannot be a bank that stood in the trench, is evident from the

circumstance thus expressed.

Verse 16. A wise woman] She was probably governess.

Verse 18. They shall surely ask counsel at Abel] This is a

proverb, but from what it originated we know not; nor can we

exactly say what it means: much must be supplied to bring it to

speak sense. Abel was probably famed for the wisdom of its

inhabitants; and parties who had disputes appealed to their

judgment, which appears to have been in such high reputation as to

be final by consent of all parties. To this the wise woman refers,

and intimates to Joab that he should have proceeded in this way

before he began to storm the city, and destroy the peaceable


Verse 19. I-peaceable and faithful in Israel] I am for peace,

not contention of any kind; I am faithful-I adhere to David, and

neither seek nor shall sanction any rebellion or anarchy in the

land. Why then dost thou proceed in such a violent manner? Perhaps

the woman speaks here in the name and on behalf of the city: "I

am a peaceable city, and am faithful to the king."

A mother in Israel] That is, a chief city of a district; for it

is very likely that the woman speaks of the city, not of herself.

Verse 21. His head shall be thrown to thee] Thus it appears she

had great sway in the counsels of the city; and that the

punishment of a state rebel was then, what it is now in this

kingdom, beheading.

Verse 23. Joab was over all the host] He had murdered Amasa, and

seized on the supreme command: and such was his power at present,

and the service which he had rendered to the state by quelling the

rebellion of Sheba, that David was obliged to continue him; and

dared not to call him to account for his murders without

endangering the safety of the state by a civil war.

Benaiah-over the Cherethites] Benaiah was over the archers and

slingers. See Clarke on 2Sa 8:18.

Verse 24. Adoram was over the tribute] Probably the chief

receiver of the taxes; or Chancellor of the Exchequer, as we term


Jehoshaphat-recorder] The registrar of public events.

Verse 25. Shevah was scribe] The king's secretary.

Verse 26. Ira-was a chief ruler about David.] The Hebrew is

cohen ledavid, a priest to David; and so the Vulgate,

Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic. The Chaldee has rab, a

prince, or chief. He was probably a sort of domestic chaplain to

the king. We know that the kings of Judah had their seers, which

is nearly the same: Gad was David's seer, 2Sa 24:11, and Jeduthun

was the seer of King Josiah, 2Ch 35:16.

The conclusion of this chapter is very similar to the conclusion

of 2Sa 8:16-18, where see the notes.

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