2 Kings xiv.
Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 2. Thecua, twelve miles south of Jerusalem. (St. Jerome) — Joab causes this unknown woman to come from the country to conceal his design, (Calmet) hoping that Absalom would be his father’s successor. (Menochius)
Ver. 4. Save me. So the Jews frequently repeated Hosanna; and David addressed God, save us, 1 Paralipomenon xvi. 35. (Tirinus)
Ver. 5. Dead. Some conclude from ver. 16, that this is a true history; but it appears rather, that it was only a parable, (ver. 19.; Calmet) invented by Joab. (Menochius)
Ver. 7. Heir. She expresses their sentiments more than their words. (Calmet) — Some of the relations might desire to obtain the inheritance. (Menochius) See Numbers xxxv. 18. — Spark. Posterity is often denoted by a lamp, chap. xxi. 17. Hebrew and Septuagint, “my coal,” reserved to enkindle my fire, (Calmet) or to perpetuate our name in Israel, (Haydock) or that of his father, to whose title the son succeeded. The mother could claim no inheritance. (Menochius)
Ver. 9. Guiltless, if the murderer be not brought to execution. I am willing to bear all the blame and punishment. (Calmet) — Abigail and Rebecca speak in the same manner, 1 Kings xxv. 24., and Genesis xxvii. 13. (Tirinus) — Though kings may not pardon as they please, yet in this instance David might protect the widow’s son, as there was no witness to prove that he had committed the murder. (Menochius) — The woman was not satisfied with the former promise. She wished to extort something more decisive. She intimates that the danger is pressing, and if any misfortune should arrive, she cannot impute it to the king, (Calmet) which gives him occasion to encourage her the more. (Haydock)
Ver. 11. Multiplied, or overwhelm me with their numbers. (Calmet)
Ver. 13. Exile, the banished Absalom, (Haydock) who, in similar circumstances, has only committed a crime like that which the king is willing to pardon at the entreaty of a poor widow; though all the people of God seem interested for the welfare of Absalom, whom they look upon as the heir apparent. This was the drift of the whole parable. (Calmet) — To sin, may be referred to Absalom, who might be driven by despair to worship idols. (Menochius)
Ver. 14. Earth; so great was the distress of the people at the absence of their darling prince. (Haydock) — His death would not bring Amnon to life again. We must not cherish sentiments of eternal enmity. — Perish. Chaldean, “a just judge cannot take the money of iniquity.” Le Clerc, “And cannot the prince (or judge) pardon a man, and devise means to leave his son no longer in exile?” (Calmet) — Protestants, “neither doth God respect any person; yet doth he devise means, that his banished son be not expelled from him.” Let the king imitate this example. (Haydock)
Ver. 15. Before the people. Hebrew also, “through fear, or respect for the people,” who generally wished that Absalom might return. (Haydock) — Joab was present, (ver. 21) and no doubt many others; who, if requisite, might join their prayers with hers. (Calmet)
Ver. 16. Me. She identifies her cause with that of her son, as if she could not survive his death; or, at least, could not retain the inheritance, if he should perish. (Haydock)
Ver. 17. Sacrifice; perfect and inviolable. (Tirinus) — Cursing, provided he be in the right. (Menochius) — Hebrew, “the king to discern (hear) good and bad;” of consummate wisdom; (ver. 20.; Haydock) so that no one can impose upon him.
Ver. 19. Right, but he hath ordered me to say all these things. Joab had given her leave to make this declaration, as he perceived that the king’s heart was already inclined towards Absalom, ver. 1. (Menochius)
Ver. 21. Boy. This expression might tend to excuse what he had done amiss; as it shewed also the tenderness of David for Absalom. (Menochius)
Ver. 22. Blessed. That is, praised, and gave thanks to the king.
Ver. 24. Face, though he lived in Jerusalem. (Calmet) — This was done, in order that he might enter seriously into himself, and avoid similar excesses. (Menochius) — He felt this privation more than exile. (Haydock)
Ver. 26. A year. Hebrew and Septuagint, “from the end of the days to days.” — Chaldean, “as it was convenient.” But the Vulgate seems the best, (Calmet) and is followed by the Protestant version. (Haydock) — Sicles, including all his hair. The Hebrews wore their hair very long. It does not commonly grow above four inches in a year; so that the hair which was cut off could not weigh 200 sicles. (Calmet) — Weight. Hebrew, “after the king’s stone,” Beeben; but one manuscript has Boshkol, with the Septuagint, “after the king’s sicle (Kennicott) weight,” at Babylon, as Pelletier supposes that this work was written towards the end of the captivity. He allows that Absalom’s hair might weigh almost 31 ounces. Some women wear above 32 ounces, if we may believe the hair-dressers. Some suppose that r (200) has been substituted instead of d (4) or c, (20) &c. But all are not convinced that the Hebrews formerly marked the numbers by letters. Septuagint have, “100 sicles,” (Calmet) which some attempt to reconcile with the common reading, by saying, that they speak of the sicles of the sanctuary, which were double the weight of the king’s sicle. Yet the Alexandrian and Vatican copies agree with the Vulgate: (Haydock) and of this distinction of weights there is no proof. The Rabbins assert that the value, and not the weight, of Absalom’s hair is given; (Calmet) and that he made a present of his hair to some of his friends, who sold it to the ladies of Jerusalem, to adorn their heads. (Sanctius) — Tirinus adopts this sentiment, and ridicules those who say that the weight is meant; as he says, 200 sicles would be equivalent to 8¾ Roman pounds, which comes near to Arbuthnot’s calculation in English. (Haydock) — Bochart reduces the weight to four such pounds, each consisting of twelve ounces; and he supposes that the hair was so heavy, on account of the gold dust with which it was covered, according to the fashion of those times. (Josephus, [Antiquities?] viii. 1.) — But this weight would be only accidental. (Calmet) — Josephus ([Antiquities?] vii. 8.) intimates, that Absalom’s hair was “cut every eight days,” or “for the space of eight days.” It is quite incredible that it should weigh 200 sicles, or five minę of Alexandria, each consisting of twelve ounces. The Latin interpreter reads, “every eight months.” (Calmet) — St. Epiphanius and Hero have 125 sicles, or about 31 ounces. (Haydock) — The Babylonian sicle, here mentioned, was only the third part of that used by the Hebrews. (Du Hamel)
Ver. 27. Sons, who all died before their father, chap. xviii. 18. — Thamar, in memory of his sister; (Abulensis) or this Thamar received the name from her aunt, who resided with Absalom. (Menochius) — Some Greek and Latin copies add, that she was married to Roboam, the son of Solomon, by whom he had Abias. But this addition is of no authority, and can hardly be reconciled with chronology. We read that Roboam espoused Maaca, the daughter of Absalom; (2 Paralipomenon xi. 20.) but she might be only his grand-daughter, by Thamar. (Calmet) — Josephus had adopted this addition. (Haydock)
Ver. 29. To him. Joab, like a crafty courtier, would neither disoblige the king nor the prince, and therefore wished not to meddle in this affair; as he might either excite the suspicions of the one, or the resentment of the other. (Calmet)
Ver. 33. Kissed Absalom, and thus was reconciled to his prodigal son, Luke xv. 20. The ungrateful wretch only took occasion, from his father’s goodness, to alienate the minds of the people from him, by insinuating that he neglected the welfare of the people. (Haydock
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Joab procureth Absalom’s return, and his admittance to the king’s presence.
1 And *Joab, the son of Sarvia, understanding that the king’s heart was turned to Absalom,
2 Sent to Thecua, and fetched from thence a wise woman: and said to her: Feign thyself to be a mourner, and put on mourning apparel, and be not anointed with oil, that thou mayst be as a woman that had a long time been mourning for one dead.
3 And thou shalt go in to the king, and shalt speak to him in this manner. And Joab put the words in her mouth.
4 And when the woman of Thecua was come in to the king, she fell before him upon the ground, and worshipped, and said: Save me, O king.
5 And the king said to her: What is the matter with thee? She answered: Alas, I am a widow woman: for my husband is dead.
6 And thy handmaid had two sons: and they quarrelled with each other in the field, and there was none to part them: and the one struck the other, and slew him.
7 And behold the whole kindred rising against thy handmaid, saith: Deliver him that hath slain his brother, that we may kill him for the life of his brother, whom he slew, and that we may destroy the heir: and they seek to quench my spark which is left, and will leave my husband no name, nor remainder upon the earth.
8 And the king said to the woman: Go to thy house, and I will give charge concerning thee.
9 And the woman of Thecua said to the king: Upon me, my lord, be the iniquity, and upon the house of my father: but may the king and his throne be guiltless.
10 And the king said: If any one shall say ought against thee, bring him to me, and be shall not touch thee any more.
11 And she said: Let the king remember the Lord his God, that the next of kin be not multiplied to take revenge, and that they may not kill my son. And he said: As the Lord liveth, there shall not one hair of thy son fall to the earth.
12 Then the woman said: Let thy handmaid speak one word to my lord the king. And he said: Speak.
13 And the woman said: Why hast thou thought such a thing against the people of God? and why hath the king spoken this word, to sin, and not bring home again his own exile?
14 We all die, and like unto waters that return no more, we fall down into the earth: *neither will God have a soul to perish, but recalleth; meaning that he that is cast off, should not altogether perish.
15 Now therefore I am come, to speak this word to my lord the king, before the people. And thy handmaid said: I will speak to the king; it may be the king will perform the request of his handmaid.
16 And the king hath hearkened to me, to deliver his handmaid out of the hand of all that would destroy me, and my son together, out of the inheritance of God.
17 Then let thy handmaid say, that the word of my lord the king be made as a sacrifice. *For even as an angel of God, so is my lord the king, that he is neither moved with blessing nor cursing; wherefore the Lord thy God is also with thee.
18 And the king answering, said to the woman: Hide not from me the thing that I ask thee. And the woman said to him: Speak, my lord the king.
19 And the king said: Is not the hand of Joab with thee in all this? The woman answered, and said: By the health of thy soul, my lord king, it is neither on the left hand, nor on the right, in all these things, which my lord the king hath spoken: for thy servant Joab, he commanded me, and he put all these words into the mouth of thy handmaid.
20 That I should come about with this form of speech, thy servant Joab commanded this: but thou, my lord the king, art wise, according to the wisdom of an angel of God, to understand all things upon earth.
21 And the king said to Joab: Behold I am appeased, and have granted thy request: Go, therefore, and fetch back the boy Absalom.
22 And Joab falling down to the ground upon his face, adored, and blessed the king: and Joab said: This day thy servant hath understood, that I have found grace in thy sight, my lord the king: for thou hast fulfilled the request of thy servant.
23 Then Joab arose and went to Gessur, and brought Absalom to Jerusalem.
24 But the king said: Let him return into his house, and let him not see my face. So Absalom returned into his house, and saw not the king’s face.
25 But in all Israel there was not a man so comely, and so exceedingly beautiful, as Absalom: from the sole of the foot to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him.
26 And when he polled his hair (now he was polled once a year, because his hair was burdensome to him) he weighed the hair of his head at two hundred sicles, according to the common weight.
27 And there were born to Absalom three sons, and one daughter, whose name was Thamar; and she was very beautiful.
28 And Absalom dwelt two years in Jerusalem, and saw not the king’s face.
29 *He sent therefore to Joab, to send him to the king: but he would not come to him. And when he had sent the second time, and he would not come to him,
30 He said to his servants: You know the field of Joab, near my field, that hath a crop of barley: go now and set it on fire. So the servants of Absalom set the corn on fire. And Joab’s servants coming, with their garments rent, said: The servants of Absalom have set part of the field on fire.
31 Then Joab arose, and came to Absalom to his house, and said: Why have thy servants set my corn on fire?
32 And Absalom answered Joab: I sent to thee, beseeching thee to come to me, that I might send thee to the king, to say to him: Wherefore am I come from Gessur? It had been better for me to be there. I beseech thee, therefore, that I may see the face of the king: and if he be mindful of my iniquity, let him kill me.
33 So Joab going in to the king, told him all: and Absalom was called for, and he went in to the king: and prostrated himself on the ground before him: and the king kissed Absalom.
1: Year of the World 2977, Year before Christ 1027.
14: Ezechiel xviii. 32. and xxxiii. 11.
17: 1 Kings xxix. 9.
29: Year of the World 2979, Year before Christ 1025