2 Kings xviii.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. Hundreds. Josephus only allows David 4000 men. But his army seems to have been pretty numerous, since he divides it into three parts, and appoints three head commanders, with officers of a thousand, &c., under them. See ver. 4. (Calmet) — He designed to lead them to battle himself, if the people had not dissuaded him. (Salien)

Ver. 3. Ten thousand, “like us.” (Hebrew) (Calmet) — Succour us, “by praying for us.” (Chaldean) or by sending reinforcements, where they may be necessary. (Menochius) — David was persuaded “to reserve himself (like Otho) for the interest of the state, at a distance from the danger of battle.” (Tacitus, An. ii.)

Ver. 5. Save me: do not hurt, ver. 12. St. Augustine (Doct. iii. 23.) concludes, that David wished to allow his son time for repentance. (Menochius) — He seems to have been sure of victory. (Abulensis)

Ver. 6. Ephraim, where the men of that tribe had formerly signalized themselves, Judges vii., and viii., and xii. (Calmet)

Ver. 8. Country; people fighting in great numbers. But the army of Absalom was soon dispersed. (Haydock) — Consumed, viz., by pits and precipices: (Challoner) “wild beasts.” (Syriac, &c.) Many also died of their wounds, and were slain in the wood; (Calmet) so that not less, probably, than 50,000 perished on this fatal day. (Haydock)

Ver. 9. Oak, between the branches, which hindered him from escaping. (Calmet) — His beautiful curls got also entangled. (Menochius)

Ver. 11. Silver, somewhat above a guinea: sicles are not expressed in Hebrew. (Haydock) — Belt, the richest part of armour. Jonathan and Ajax made presents of their belts to David and Hector, 1 Kings xviii. 4. (Homer, Iliad H.) See Job xiii. 18. The Romans wore very splendid belts. Balteus et notis fulserunt cingula bullis. (Claud., Proserp. ii.)

Ver. 12. Save. Protestants, “beware that none touch the young man.”

Ver. 13. My own. Some copies of the Hebrew and Septuagint read, “his;” others, my, &c. The soldier would have acted against his conscience, and exposed his life to danger, if he had transgressed the king’s order. (Haydock) — By me? or, omitting the mark of interrogation, “Thou wouldst have declared thyself against me.” (Calmet)

Ver. 14. Sight. Hebrew, “I will not tarry thus with thee.” I will not stand to refute these reasons, nor imitate thy example. (Haydock)

Ver. 15. Ten. Naharai alone is specified, chap. xxiii. 37. Why he had ten does not appear. (Calmet) — Slew him, inflicting many wounds on him; though Joab had already done sufficient. (Haydock) — These men abused his corpse, as if to revenge the insult offered to David’s ten wives. (Salien) — It is asked whether Joab did wrong? He consulted the public welfare, rather than the parental affection of the king for a son, whom the law condemned to die for rebellion, incest, and murder, Leviticus xviii. 29., and chap. xiii. 28. But still he was not a proper judge to inflict this death in cold blood; and thus to render the salvation of Absalom’s soul more desperate. David would, however, have done well to have punished this son, as incorrigible and dangerous to the state. (Haydock)

Ver. 17. Him. Thus was the law executed upon Absalom, Deuteronomy xxi. 18. (St. Jerome) (Menochius) — History scarcely affords a more detestable character; and his punishment was no less terrible than instructive. He was a figure of the Jews persecuting Jesus Christ, while he gave his blood for the redemption of these his enemies, and prayed for them. As they continued obdurate, they were held up as objects of horror both to heaven and to all nations, like Absalom suspended on the tree, and rejected by heaven and earth. (Calmet)

Ver. 18. No son. The sons mentioned above, chap. xiv. 27, were dead when this pillar was erected; unless we suppose he raised this pillar before they were born: (Challoner) or meant this pillar to perpetuate his memory, when they should be no more. (Josephus, [Antiquities?] vii. 9.) — This author says that it was a pillar of marble; so that it is different from that which Doubdan (15) mentions, observing , that all who pass throw a stone at it. Thus was his vanity chastised! — Hand, work. So Martial (viii. 51.) says of a vial! Mentoris hæc manus est an, Polyclete, tua? (Menochius) — The same word is translated, triumphal arch, 1 Kings xv. 12. (G.[Calmet?])

Ver. 21. Chusi: perhaps, of Ethiopian extraction. (Grotius)

Ver. 22. Tidings. People of reputation did not wish to perform this office, 3 Kings ii. 42. Hebrew, “these tidings will bring thee nothing;” or, “do not suit thee.” (Calmet) — Protestants, “seeing thou hast no tidings ready?” (Haydock)

Ver. 24. Two gates, one leading into the town, the other into the country. In the middle was a chamber for public meetings, and another above, Job xxix. 7. On the roof a guard was stationed on this occasion.

Ver. 25. Mouth. If the army had been routed, all would have been in confusion. (Calmet) — Now they are employed in plundering the vanquished. (Menochius)

Ver. 28. Shut up; frustrated the attempts of the enemy, and consigned many to the grave. (Haydock)

Ver. 29. Else. This was false, ver. 20. (Calmet) — But he wished not to communicate the bad news; for which reason he had got first to the king. (Haydock)

Ver. 32. Is. This was as much as to tell plainly that he was dead, (Menochius) or at least, a prisoner. But David understood him right. (Haydock)

Ver. 33. Wept, in private. (Menochius) — Would. David lamented the death of Absalom, because of the wretched state in which he died; and therefore would have been glad to have saved his life, even by dying for him. In this he was a figure of Christ weeping, praying, and dying for his rebellious children, and even for them that crucified him. (Challoner; St. Ambrose (de Ob. Valent.); Theodoret, q. 35.) — David had presently ceased to weep for the son of Bethsabee, because he had reason to hope that he was saved. (Calmet)

Bible Text & Cross-references:

Absalom is defeated, and slain by Joab. David mourneth for him.

1 And* David having reviewed his people, appointed over them captains of thousands, and of hundreds,

2 And sent forth a third part of the people under the hand of Joab; and a third part under the hand of Abisai, the son of Sarvia, Joab’s brother; and a third part under the hand of Ethai, who was of Geth: and the king said to the people: I also will go forth with you.

3 And the people answered: Thou shalt not go forth: for if we flee away, they will not much mind us: or if half of us should fall, they will not greatly care: for thou alone art accounted for ten thousand: it is better, therefore, that thou shouldst be in the city to succour us.

4 And the king said to them: What seemeth good to you, that will I do. And the king stood by the gate: and all the people went forth by their troops, by hundreds and by thousands.

5 And the king commanded Joab, and Abisai, and Ethai, saying: Save me the boy Absalom. And all the people heard the king giving charge to all the princes concerning Absalom.

6 So the people went out into the field against Israel, and the battle was fought in the forest of Ephraim.

7 And the people of Israel were defeated there by David’s army, and a great slaughter was made that day of twenty thousand men.

8 And the battle there was scattered over the face of all the country, and there were many more of the people whom the forest consumed, than whom the sword devoured that day.

9 And it happened that Absalom met the servants of David, riding on a mule: and as the mule went under a thick and large oak, his head stuck in the oak: and while he hung between the heaven and the earth, the mule on which he rode passed on.

10 And one saw this and told Joab, saying: I saw Absalom hanging upon an oak.

11 And Joab said to the man that told him: If thou sawest him, why didst thou not stab him to the ground, and I would have given thee ten sicles of silver, and a belt?

12 And he said to Joab: If thou wouldst have paid down in my hands a thousand pieces of silver, I would not lay my hands upon the king’s son: for, in our hearing, the king charged thee, and Abisai, and Ethai, saying: Save me the boy Absalom.

13 Yea, and if I should have acted boldly against my own life, this could not have been hid from the king, and wouldst thou have stood by me?

14 And Joab said: Not as thou wilt, but I will set upon him in thy sight. So he took three lances in his hand, and thrust them into the heart of Absalom: and whilst he yet panted for life, sticking on the oak,

15 Ten young men, armour-bearers of Joab, ran up, and striking him, slew him.

16 And Joab sounded the trumpet, and kept back the people from pursuing after Israel in their flight, being willing to spare the multitude.

17 And they took Absalom, and cast him into a great pit in the forest, and they laid an exceeding great heap of stones upon him: but all Israel fled to their own dwellings.

18 Now Absalom had reared up for himself, in his life-time, a pillar, which is in the king’s valley: for he said: I have no son, and this shall be the monument of my name. And he called the pillar by is own name, and it is called the hand of Absalom, to this day.

19 And Achimaas, the son of Sadoc, said: I will run and tell the king, that the Lord hath done judgment for him from the hand of his enemies.

20 And Joab said to him: Thou shalt not be the messenger this day, but shalt bear tidings another day: this day I will not have thee bear tidings, because the king’s son is dead.

21 And Joab said to Chusi: Go, and tell the king what thou hast seen. Chusi bowed down to Joab, and ran.

22 Then Achimaas, the son of Sadoc, said to Joab again: Why might not I also run after Chusi? And Joab said to him: Why wilt thou run, my son? thou wilt not be the bearer of good tidings.

23 He answered: But what if I run? And he said to him: Run. Then Achimaas, running by a nearer way, passed Chusi.

24 And David sat between the two gates: and the watchman that was on the top of the gate upon the wall, lifting up his eyes, saw a man running alone.

25 And crying out, he told the king: and the king said: If he be alone, there are good tidings in his mouth. And as he was coming apace and drawing nearer,

26 The watchman saw another man running, and crying aloud from above, he said: I see another man running alone. And the king said: He, also, is a good messenger.

27 And the watchman said: The running of the foremost seemeth to me like the running of Achimaas, the son of Sadoc. And the king said: He is a good man: and cometh with good news.

28 And Achimaas crying out, said to the king: God save thee, O king. And falling down before the king with his face to the ground, he said: Blessed be the Lord thy God, who hath shut up the men that have lifted up their hands against my lord the king.

29 And the king said: Is the young man, Absalom, safe? And Achimaas said: I saw a great tumult, O king, when thy servant Joab sent me thy servant: I know nothing else.

30 And the king said to him: Pass, and stand here.

31 And when he had passed, and stood still, Chusi appeared: and coming up, he said: I bring good tidings, my lord the king: for the Lord hath judged for thee this day, from the hand of all that have risen up against thee.

32 And the king said to Chusi: Is the young man, Absalom, safe? And Chusi answering him, said: Let the enemies of my lord the king, and all that rise against him unto evil, be as the young man is.

33 The king therefore being much moved, went up to the high chamber over the gate, and wept. And as he went, he spoke in this manner: *My son, Absalom; Absalom, my son: would to God that I might die for thee, Absalom my son, my son Absalom.



1: Year of the World 2981, Year before Christ 1023.

33: 2 Kings xix. 4.