2 Kings xix.
Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 2. Mourning, as is commonly the case in civil wars. The king being oppressed with grief, a triumph was out of season. (Menochius)
Ver. 3. Shunned. Hebrew, “stole away,” fearing to enter; though they did at last, in a clandestine manner, (Calmet) by another gate. (Menochius)
Ver. 4. Head, continuing to mourn. See chap. xv. 30. — Absalom. The name is often repeated, as is usual on such occasions. (Virgil, Ec. v.) — Thus Bion says, “I bewail Adonis. The beautiful Adonis is no more,” &c.
Ver. 5. Shamed; deceived the expectations. See Joel ii. 12. Joab was one of those who spoil all their services by ostentation and rudeness. Like the first Anthony, Immodicus linguâ, obsequii insolens, nimius commemorandis quæ meruisset. (Tacitus, Hist. iv.) — He speaks to David, his king, as one friend would not do to another. “That sort of men is truly odious, who upbraid with their kindness; which those who have experienced, rather than the authors, ought to remember.” (Cicero, Amicit.)
Ver. 6. Thee. What insolence! Kings are often forced to brook the affronts of their higher servants, as well as other masters. There is a gradation in human affairs, which makes the next in dignity and power think himself equal to the highest. Similis ero altissimo, Isaias xiv. 14. (Haydock) — David sincerely desired the welfare of all his people, as well as of Absalom. (Menochius)
Ver. 7. To. (satisfac). Hebrew, “speak to the heart,” &c., with a cheerful countenance, to testify that their services will be rewarded. (Calmet)
Ver. 8. Israel, the rebels, as distinguished form Juda, or those who adhered to David; though many of all the tribes had sided with Absalom, ver. 11. (Haydock)
Ver. 10. Silent; inactive and indifferent, as this word often denotes, Josue x. 12. (Calmet)
Ver. 11. Priests, whose influence was very great. (Haydock) — Last. David, like an able politician, shews the men of his own tribe, how dishonourable it will be for them to be outdone by the rest. (Calmet) — Talk: reported by a solemn embassy. (St. Jerome, Trad.) (Menochius) — Septuagint logos, “the word, (Haydock) council,” &c. (Salien)
Ver. 13. Flesh? Amasa was his nephew, and as he had been appointed general by Absalom, his influence would be the greatest to bring back those who had given into the delusion. A sense of his misconduct would also render him more humble, and easier to manage than Joab, whose insolence caused him to be insupportable to the king. David designed to transfer the authority of the latter, (Calmet) which he had now enjoyed 23 years, since the taking of Sion. David’s promise did not oblige him to keep Joab in that office for life, if his conduct should prove unsatisfactory. Hence he appointed Amasa to pursue the rebels, and afterwards Abisai, setting Joab aside. But the haughty warrior supplanted both, and retained the command, as it were in spite of his sovereign, chap. xx. 4, 15., &c. (Haydock)
Ver. 14. And he; God, David, or rather Amasa. (Calmet) — All contributed, in different degrees, to bring about this happy union. (Haydock)
Ver. 15. Galgal, and thence proceeded across the Jordan, (Calmet) an hour and a half’s walk. (Menochius)
Ver. 16. Semei, who had cursed David in his adversity, is now ready to fawn upon him, when he sees him restored to his throne. He was chief of a thousand, in Benjamin.
Ver. 17. Over, or “into:” (irrumpentes.; Haydock) probably on horseback. (Menochius)
Ver. 18. Fords. Hebrew also, “they took over the ferry-boat;” (Calmet) or, “there went across a ferry-boat to carry over the,” &c.
Ver. 20. Joseph. Semei was a Benjamite: but Joseph designates all the Israelites, except those of Juda, (Worthington) as these two possessed the birth-right of Ruben, 1 Paralipomenon v. 1. (Menochius) See Psalm lxxix. 1., and Zacharias x. 6. — But we may translate with the Septuagint, “before all the house of Joseph.” (Chaldean, Syriac, &c.) (Calmet)
Ver. 22. Sons. He refers to the preceding opposition of Joab, whom Abisai was beginning to imitate. (Haydock) — Satan; adversary, Matthew xvi. 23. — This day. Formerly, no one was to be put to death on days of rejoicing, and the prisoners were liberated when the king ascended the throne. A malefactor continued for a long time to be set free on the day of the passover, Matthew xxvii. 15. (Calmet) — The Romans would never punish any one with death, on the days “whenever (Augustus) entered the city.” (Suetonius lvii.) — David considers this memorable day as a new epoch of his sovereignty, and will not suffer it to be rendered sorrowful. See 1 Kings xi. 13. (Haydock) — The punishment of Semei might have had the most pernicious consequences, as the rest of Israel would have feared a similar treatment. (Menochius) — (Salien, the year of the world 3010.)
Ver. 23. Die, during my life, (Menochius) or by my hand, without some farther transgression. Hence the oath is worded, I will not kill thee with the sword, 3 Kings ii. 8. (Haydock) — Solomon was charged not to let his crime pass unpunished. But he did not kill him till he had shewed his disobedience. (Calmet) — The oaths of parents do not always (Haydock) pertain to their heirs. (Grotius)
Ver. 24. Feet, which was very requisite in those countries, to prevent a disagreeable smell, for which the Jews were noted. (Martial iv. 4.) — Ammianus (2) speaking of the emperor Marcus says, Cum Palestinam transiret, fœtentium Juædorum et tumultuantium sæpe tædio percitur. Some have thought that this odour was removed by baptism. (Basnage, T. iii. p. 194.) Roman Septuagint adds, “neither had he cut his nails, nor (made or) dressed his mustaches,” or upper lip. The chin, as far as the ears, was not shaved by the Jews. To cut all the hair was a mark of sorrow, no less than to neglect dressing it. See Leviticus xxi. 5. (Calmet) — By the external appearance of Miphiboseth, David might be convinced that he had indulged his grief for a long time; (Menochius) which might serve to remove the ill impressions which he had received against the helpless son of his friend Jonathan.
Ver. 25. Met. Protestants, “was come to Jerusalem, to meet the king.” (Haydock) — But his usual residence was in the city, where Siba had left him, chap. xvi. 3. We should therefore translate, “And coming to meet the king at his arrival in Jerusalem.” (Calmet)
Ver. 26. Despised. Hebrew and Chaldean, “acted treacherously with me.” (Menochius)
Ver. 27. God. It is not necessary for me to say any more in my defence. Thou art convinced of my innocence; and the accusation was in itself improbable, as I could never expect to be better treated by another king. I am resigned to abide by thy decision. (Haydock) — I cannot complain. (Calmet)
Ver. 28. Death, on account of Saul’s persecution, and his sons assuming the purple; so that all his adherents might have been justly slain. (Calmet) — Cry, as if I had been wronged. (Menochius)
Ver. 29. More. Hebrew adds, “concerning thy affairs. I have said, Thou and Siba divide the inheritance.” (Haydock) — Thou as the owner, Siba as the administrator, or steward, as he was before. (Jun. Malv.[Junius?; Malvenda?]) — Sanchez thinks that David made a compensation to Miphiboseth, for what he left in the hands of his servant, as he did not wish to disturb the harmony of the day, nor to inflict any punishment on offenders. (Menochius) — But most interpreters accuse David of injustice, in suffering Siba to reap the fruits of his perfidy, &c. (Salien) (Calmet, &c.) — It is not probable, however, that he would deviate from his wonted generosity, nor suffer Miphiboseth to be injured, if he were convinced of his innocence. Perhaps he might judge it expedient that Siba should have a separate establishment, as he was now unfit to act in his former capacity, and had shewn some sort of affection towards his sovereign, when his own son, and most of his subjects, had revolted against him. (Haydock)
Ver. 30. House. He is all to me. (Menochius)
Ver. 32. Camp; Mahanaim, chap. xvii. 28.
Ver. 33. Secure. Septuagint, “I will continually nourish thy old age.” (Haydock)
Ver. 35. Burden, as I am unfit for any service. (Menochius)
Ver. 36. With thee. He did not proceed as far as Galgal; (Haydock) but took his leave of the king, intimating, what we never witness at the present day, that he was too old to enjoy the pleasures of a court! (Calmet)
Ver. 37. Chamaam, is supposed to have been the son of the good old man. (Calmet)
Ver. 40. There; coming up, for the most part, after the king had crossed the river. They had intended to have escorted him from Mahanaim. (Haydock)
Ver. 41. Stolen; as if the king were not the common father of all. (Salien)
Ver. 42. Nearer related. (Haydock) — Us. What advantage have we gained? or, what have you lost? (Calmet)
Ver. 43. Ten parts. They might have said they were twelve tribes for one; and though the tribe of Juda was more numerous than many others, it was not equal to them all. (Calmet) — But the disproportion was by no means so great as ten to one; so that the Israelites unjustly pretended, that they had so much greater pretensions to the honour of bringing the king to his capital, in a sort of triumph. David might perhaps have waited a little longer, (Haydock) and shewed less predilection for his own tribe. (Calmet) (Salien) — But what obligation was there for either? He had been long enough from Jerusalem, and eager to return, as soon as Amasa brought to him the tribe of Juda, and several of Benjamin, ver. 16. What hindered the rest from coming in time? They seem to have pretended more loyalty than they really possessed; otherwise they would not have joined in every rebellion. (Haydock) — First. Hebrew may be, “did not I first propose the bringing back the king?” ver. 11. (Calmet) — Israel. Tostat says, it is probable Juda asserted that the king did not, at all, belong to Israel; and hence Seba repeated the words with indignation, chap. xx. 1. It is wonderful that David did not repress this altercation. Abulensis supposes that he leaned too much towards his own tribe; for which, if true, we behold he was soon chastised; as God is always ready to reward or punish his servants. (Salien) — But all that David said is not recorded. He could hardly have continued silent. All his endeavours to appease the sedition were, however, rendered abortive, by the evil dispositions of his subjects. (Haydock)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
David, at the remonstrances of Joab, ceaseth his mourning. He is invited back, and met by Semei and Miphiboseth: a strife between the men of Juda and the men of Israel.
1 And *it was told Joab, that the king wept and mourned for his son:
2 And the victory that day was turned into mourning unto all the people: for the people heard say that day: The king grieveth for his son.
3 And the people shunned the going into the city that day, as the people would do that hath turned their backs, and fled away from the battle.
4 And the king covered his head, and cried with a loud voice: O my son Absalom, O Absalom my son, O my son.
5 Then Joab, going into the house to the king, said: Thou hast shamed this day the faces of all thy servants, that have saved thy life, and the lives of thy sons, and of thy daughters, and the lives of thy wives, and the lives of thy concubines.
6 Thou lovest them that hate thee, and thou hatest them that love thee: and thou hast shewed this day, that thou carest not for thy nobles, nor for thy servants: and I now plainly perceive, that, if Absalom had lived, and all we had been slain, then it would have pleased thee.
7 Now therefore arise, and go out, and speak to the satisfaction of thy servants: for I swear to thee by the Lord, that if thou wilt not go forth, there will not tarry with thee so much as one this night: and that will be worse to thee, than all the evils that have befallen thee, from thy youth until now.
8 Then the king arose, and sat in the gate: and it was told to all the people, that the king sat in the gate: and all the people came before the king: but Israel fled to their own dwellings.
9 And all the people were at strife in all the tribes of Israel, saying: The king delivered us out of the hand of our enemies, and he saved us out of the hand of the Philistines: and now he is fled out of the land for Absalom.
10 But Absalom, whom we anointed over us, is dead in the battle: how long are you silent, and bring not back the king?
11 And king David sent to Sadoc, and Abiathar, the priests, saying: Speak to the ancients of Juda, saying: Why are you the last to bring the king back to his house? (For the talk of all Israel was come to the king in his house.)
12 You are my brethren, you are my bone and my flesh, why are you the last to bring back the king?
13 And say ye to Amasa: Art not thou my bone and my flesh? So do God to me, and add more, if thou be not the chief captain of the army before me always, in the place of Joab.
14 And he inclined the heart of all the men of Juda, as it were of one man: and they sent to the king, saying: Return thou and all thy servants.
15 And the king returned, and came as far as the Jordan, and all Juda came as far as Galgal to meet the king, and to bring him over the Jordan.
16 *And Semei, the son of Gera, the son of Jemini, of Bahurim, made haste and went down with the men of Juda, to meet king David,
17 With a thousand men of Benjamin, and Siba, the servant of the house of Saul: and his fifteen sons, and twenty servants were with him: and going over the Jordan,
18 They passed the fords before the king, that they might help over the king’s household, and do according to his commandment. And Semei, the son of Gera, falling down before the king, when he was come over the Jordan,
19 Said to him: Impute not to me, my lord, the iniquity, nor remember the injuries of thy servant, on the day that thou, my lord, the king, wentest out of Jerusalem, nor lay it up in thy heart, O king.
20 For I, thy servant, acknowledge my sin: and therefore, I am come this day the first of all the house of Joseph, and am come down to meet my lord the king.
21 But Abisai, the son of Sarvia, answering said: Shall Semei, for these words not be put to death, because he cursed the Lord’s anointed?
22 And David said: What have I to do with you, ye sons of Sarvia? why are you a satan this day to me? shall there any man be killed this day in Israel? do not I know that this day, I am made king over Israel?
23 And the king said to Semei: Thou shalt not die. And he swore unto him.
24 And Miphiboseth, the son of Saul, came down to meet the king, and he had neither washed his feet, nor trimmed his beard: nor washed his garments, from the day that the king went out, until the day of his return in peace.
25 And when he met the king, at Jerusalem, the king said to him: Why camest thou not with me, Miphiboseth?
26 And he answering, said: My lord king, my servant despised me: for I thy servant spoke to him to saddle me an ass, that I might get on and go with the king: for I thy servant am lame.
27 *Moreover he hath also accused me, thy servant, to thee, my lord the king: but **thou, my lord the king, art as an angel of God, do what pleaseth thee.
28 For all of my father’s house were no better than worthy of death before my lord the king; and thou hast set me, thy servant, among the guests of thy table: what just complaint therefore have I? or what right to cry any more to the king?
29 Then the king said to him: Why speakest thou any more? what I have said is determined: thou and Siba divide the possessions.
30 And Miphiboseth answered the king: Yea, let him take all, for as much as my lord, the king, is returned peaceably into his house.
31 Berzellai also, the Galaadite, coming down from Rogelim, brought the king over the Jordan, being ready also to wait on him beyond the river.
32 *Now Berzellai, the Galaadite, was of a great age, that is to say, fourscore years old, and he provided the king with sustenance when he abode in the camp: for he was a man exceedingly rich.
33 And the king said to Berzellai: Come with me, that thou mayst rest secure with me in Jerusalem?
34 And Berzellai said to the king: How many are the days of the years of my life, that I should go up with the king to Jerusalem?
35 *I am this day fourscore years old; are my senses quick to discern sweet and bitter? or can meat or drink delight thy servant? or can I hear any more the voice of singing-men and singing-women? why should thy servant be a burden to my lord the king?
36 I, thy servant, will go on a little way from the Jordan with thee: I need not this recompense.
37 But I beseech thee let thy servant return, and die in my own city, and be buried by the sepulchre of my father, and of my mother. But there is thy servant Chamaam, let him go with thee, my lord the king, and do to him whatsoever seemeth good to thee.
38 Then the king said to him: Let Chamaam go over with me, and I will do for him whatsoever shall please thee, and all that thou shalt ask of me, thou shalt obtain.
39 And when all the people and the king had passed over the Jordan, the king kissed Berzellai, and blessed him: and he returned to his own place.
40 So the king went on to Galgal, and Chamaam with him. Now all the people of Juda had brought the king over, and only half of the people of Israel were there.
41 Therefore all the men of Israel running together to the king, said to him: Why have our brethren, the men of Juda, stolen thee away, and have brought the king and his household over the Jordan, and all the men of David with him?
42 And all the men of Juda answered the men of Israel: Because the king is nearer to me: why art thou angry for this matter? have we eaten any thing of the king’s, or have any gifts been given us?
43 And the men of Israel answered the men of Juda, and said: I have ten parts in the king more than thou, and David belongeth to me more than to thee: why hast thou done me a wrong, and why was it not told me first, that I might bring back my king? And the men of Juda answered more harshly than the men of Israel.
1: Year of the World 2981.
16: 3 Kings ii. 8.
27: 2 Kings xvi. 3. — ** 2 Kings xiv. 17. and 20.; 1 Kings xxix. 9.
32: 3 Kings ii. 7.
35: 2 Kings xvii. 27.