2 Kings xx.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. Belial. Septuagint, “lawless.” — Jemini. The tribe of Benjamin continued to be rather disaffected. (Haydock) — Part. This was an usual mode of expressing a disunion, 3 Kings xii. 16., and Acts viii. 21. (Calmet) — See chap. xix. 43. (Haydock) Seba was perhaps a kinsman of Saul, (Menochius) in some command. (Calmet)

Ver. 2. Jordan, near which the contest had happened. Some chosen troops attended Seba to the north, while the rest went home. (Haydock)

Ver. 3. Widowhood, or celibacy, (Menochius) like nuns. (Grotius; Salien) — David could not with propriety approach to them, (Estius) as they resembled his daughters-in-law; (Leviticus xviii. 15.; Menochius) and no other person could marry them, while he was still their husband. (Haydock) — The punishment of seclusion was very small in the East, where women seldom go out. The Jews assert, that the widows of the Hebrew kings could not marry again. (Selden, Uxor. i. 10.) — The like custom formerly prevailed in Spain. (Council of Toledo, xiii. 3., A.D. 383.; [Council] of Saragossa, canon 5., A.D. 692.) So great was the respect for the king, or the apprehension, lest those who married their widows, should aspire to the throne.

Ver. 4. Here, to be invested with the command over the army, and to pursue Seba. (Menochius)

Ver. 5. Him, owing to some insuperable difficulties. He was not long behind, since he joined the forces at Gabaon, where he was treacherously slain by the envious Joab. (Haydock)

Ver. 6. Lord, the king; or perhaps Joab. (Menochius) — A select company always attended the king; and some of these he sent, for greater expedition, to attack Seba, before he had become too strong. (Haydock)

Ver. 7. Men. It seems Joab accompanied them, though in a manner divested of his command, by the king’s appointing Amasa, and then Abisai, to his exclusion. After the slaughter of the former, he resumed his authority; (ver. 10) and David was forced to acquiesce, for fear of another civil war, reserving his punishment for more peaceable times. (Haydock)

Ver. 8. Stone, where Abner and Joab had formerly joined battle, chap. ii. (Menochius) — Habit, or body. — Flank; they usually hung at the thigh, Psalm xliv. 4. — Strike: the scabbard was very wide; so that, when it was hanging very high, it would easily fall out, when he stooped; and thus afford Joab an opportunity of stabbing Amasa, without suspicion. (Calmet) — Protestants, “Joab’s garment, that he had put on, was girded unto him, and upon it a girdle with a sword, fastened upon his loins, in the sheath thereof, and as he went forth, it fell out.”

Ver. 9. God, &c. Literally, “Hail, my brother.” (Haydock) — Kiss him. “In former times it was the custom, in Greece, for supplicants to touch the chin, (Pliny, [Natural History?] xi. 45.) having the left hand upon the person’s knees. (Homer, Iliad A.) The touched a woman’s cheeks; (Euripides, Hecuba.) or, among the Hebrews, her chin, Canticle of Canticles ii. 6. The Turks and Arabs still kiss the beard, with the utmost reverence. (Thevenot xxii.; Darvieux, chap. vii.) (Calmet)

Ver. 10. Struck him with his left hand. (Haydock) — Side. The same word is, elsewhere, translated groin; Septuagint, “loin.” Moderns commonly render “in the fifth rib,” chap. ii. 23., and iii. 27., and iv. 6. (Calmet) — Josephus, “the belly.”

Ver. 11. Some men. The same author [Josephus?] and the Hebrew only mention “one of,” &c. (Haydock) — Behold. Thus they insult over him, being attached to Joab. Hebrew, “Who loves Joab? and who is David? Let him follow Joab;” or, “Who is this who wished to supplant Joab? and who desired to be in David’s favour, after Joab? (Calmet)

Ver. 12. A certain. Hebrew, “the man” stationed by Joab, near the body, to inform those who passed, that he had been justly slain. Josephus, ([Antiquities?] vii. 10,) who observes, that this crime of Joab proceeded from envy, and was less deserving of excuse than the murder of Abner. (Haydock)

Ver. 14. Tribes, north-west of the Jordan. (Calmet) — Abela and Bathmaacha. Cities of the tribe of Nephtali. (Challoner) — The former is called simply Abel (4 Kings xv. 29.; Calmet) as it is here by the Protestant version. (Haydock) — It is also called Abyla, (Luke iii. 1,) and Hoba, (Genesis xiv. 15.; Calmet) between Damascus and Paneas, (Eusebius) situated on the borders of Syria, as well as Beth Maaca, or “the canton of Maacha,” or Machati, Josue xii. 5. — Chosen. Hebrew Berim, (which is translated “Berites,” by the Protestants.; Haydock) is derived from Bara, “to choose,” by St. Jerome. Septuagint have read √°irim, “cities.” Some suppose that the inhabitants of Bahurim (near Mount Ephraim, ver. 21, where Semei, a relation of Saul, and many disaffected people resided) shut themselves up with him in Abela.

Ver. 15. Works. Hebrew, a bank, or terrace against the city, and it stood in the trench; (Haydock) so that the town ditch was filled up, (Grotius) or terraces were raised, from which archers assailed the besieged. Joab made a ditch to defend his men from foreign assailants; and he had already taken the outward wall, so that the town could not hold out for any length of time. — The walls. St. Jerome thinks with battering rams: but they were not yet invented. (Calmet) — They undermined the walls, while some attempted to pull them down with hooks and ropes, chap. xvii. 13. (Haydock)

Ver. 16. Say to Joab. This woman was noted for her prudence, and it was hoped that her words would have more influence to disarm Joab. She addresses those who were nearest the wall, that she may have an interview with the general, at the request of her fellow-citizens.

Ver. 18. End of their disputes, (Haydock) as Abela was remarkable for its wise counsellors, (Menochius) and equitable decisions; (Haydock) so that many came, from a distance, to consult the learned of this city. (Calmet) — Others suppose that she refers to the law, which ordains that peace shall first be proposed, and, if this had been done, the affair would long ago have been decided, Deuteronomy xx. 10. (Jonathan; Estius; &c.) — Hebrew, “They spoke a word at first: Let them ask at Abela, and so they shall make an end.” Much must be supplied to make the text conformable to the former explication. We may translate, “They said, in ancient times: Let those who require more, go seek at Abela: so they finished their discourse.” (Calmet) — Protestants, “They shall surely ask counsel at Abel: and so they ended the matter.

Ver. 19. Truth. Hebrew, “I am peaceable, faithful in Israel.” (Haydock) — I am one of the cities most inclined to peace, and to the king’s service, noted for lessons of loyalty. (Calmet) — Probably there was an academy here. (Menochius) — Mother, city, or metropolis. The Hebrews styled the inferior towns, daughters. (Calmet) — Lord, a city belonging to Israel. (Haydock)

Ver. 20. God, (Absit.) Literally, “Far be it, far be it from me;” as we need not put the name of God in the mouth of this profane man, without reason. (Haydock)

Ver. 26. Jairite, a descendant of Jair, (Calmet) son of Manasses. (Haydock) — Priest. Hebrew cohen, respected like a priest, (Haydock) chief favourite, (Worthington) the Rab., (Chaldean) chief counsellor of David, (Vatable) almoner, &c. It is not certain that he was of the family of Aaron, or qualified to be the domestic chaplain of the king. See chap. viii. 16, &c. No other king of Israel had an officer to whom this title was given. (Calmet)

Bible Text & Cross-references:

Seba’s rebellion. Amasa is slain by Joab. Abela is besieged; but upon the citizens casting over the wall the head of Seba, Joab departeth with his army.

1 And *there happened to be there a man of Belial, whose name was Seba, the son of Bochri, a man of Jemini: and he sounded the trumpet, and said: We have no part in David, nor inheritance in the son of Isai: return to thy dwellings, O Israel.

2 And all Israel departed from David, and followed Seba, the son of Bochri: but the men of Juda stuck to their king from the Jordan unto Jerusalem.

3 And when the king was come into his house at Jerusalem, he took the ten women, his concubines, whom he had left to keep the house, and put them in ward, allowing them provisions; but went not in unto them: so they were shut up unto the day of their death, living in widowhood.

4 And the king said to Amasa: Assemble to me all the men of Juda against the third day, and be thou here.

5 So Amasa went to assemble the men of Juda, but he tarried beyond the set time which the king had appointed him.

6 And David said to Abisai: Now will Seba, the son of Bochri, do us more harm than did Absalom: take thou, therefore, the servants of thy lord, and pursue after him, lest he find fenced cities, and escape us.

7 So Joab’s men went out with him, and the Cerethi and the Phelethi: and all the valiant men went out of Jerusalem, to pursue after Seba, the son of Bochri.

8 And when they were at the great stone, which is in Gabaon, Amasa came and met them. And Joab had on a close coat of equal length with his habit, and over it was girded with a sword, hanging down to his flank in a scabbard, made in such manner as to come out with the least motion and strike.

9 And Joab said to Amasa: God save thee, my brother. *And he took Amasa by the chin with his right hand to kiss him.

10 But Amasa did not take notice of the sword which Joab had, and he struck him in the side, and shed out his bowels to the ground, and gave him not a second wound, and he died. And Joab, and Abisai, his brother, pursued after Seba, the son of Bochri.

11 In the mean time, some men of Joab’s company, stopping at the dead body of Amasa, said: Behold he that would have been in Joab’s stead, the companion of David.

12 And Amasa, embrued with blood, lay in the midst of the way. A certain man saw this, that all the people stood still to look upon him, so he removed Amasa out of the high-way, into the field, and covered him with a garment, that they who passed might not stop on his account.

13 And when he was removed out of the way, all the people went on following Joab, to pursue after Seba, the son of Bochri.

14 Now he had passed through all the tribes of Israel unto Abela and Bethmaacha: and all the chosen men were gathered together unto him.

15 And they came, and besieged him in Abela, and in Bethmaacha, and they cast up works round the city, and the city was besieged: and all the people that were with Joab, laboured to throw down the walls.

16 And a wise woman cried out from the city: Hear, hear, and say to Joab: Come near hither, and I will speak with thee.

17 And when he was come near to her, she said to him: Art thou Joab? And he answered: I am. And she spoke thus to him: Hear the words of thy handmaid. He answered: I do hear.

18 And she again said: A saying was used of old as a proverb: They that inquire, let them inquire in Abela: And so they made an end.

19 Am not I she that answer truth in Israel, and thou seekest to destroy the city, and to overthrow a mother in Israel? Why wilt thou throw down the inheritance of the Lord?

20 And Joab answering, said: God forbid, God forbid that I should; I do not throw down, nor destroy.

21 The matter is not so; but a man of Mount Ephraim, Seba, the son of Bochri, by name, hath lifted up his hand against king David: deliver him only, and we will depart from the city. And the woman said to Joab: Behold his head shall be thrown to thee from the wall.

22 So she went to all the people, and spoke to them wisely: and they cut off the head of Seba, the son of Bochri, and cast it out to Joab. And he sounded the trumpet, and they departed from the city, every one to their home: And Joab returned to Jerusalem to the king.

23 *So Joab was over all the army of Israel: and Banaias, the son of Joiada, was over the Cerethites and Phelethites.

24 But Aduram over the tributes: and Josaphat, the son of Ahilud, was recorder.

25 And Siva was scribe: and Sadoc and Abiathar, priests.

26 And Ira, the Jairite, was the priest of David.



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

9: 3 Kings ii. 5.

23: 2 Kings viii. 16.