2 Kings iii.
Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. War, the particulars of which are not given. (Calmet) — But David’s power continually increased, and he was blessed with many children. (Haydock) — “Legions and fleets are not such strong bulwarks of the throne, as a numerous family.” (Tacitus, Hist. v.)
Ver. 2. Amnon, who was murdered by Absalom, for his incest, chap. xiii. 32. (Menochius)
Ver. 3. Cheleab, or Daniel, 1 Paralipomenon iii. 1. Septuagint, “Dalnia.” (Calmet) — Alexandrian, “Dalouja.” (Haydock) — Others, “Abia.” — Gessur, not far from Damascus. The lady probably first embraced the true religion, though the Scripture seldom enters into these details. (Calmet) — David is never blamed for marrying strange women. Salien supposes that he entered into this alliance before the civil war broke out, that Isboseth, who had fixed his court at Mahanaim, might have an opponent near at hand. The fruits of this marriage were very unfortunate, and brought great distress upon David: so little do men know what will be the event of the most splendid connections! (Haydock)
Ver. 4. Adonias was slain by Solomon, (3 Kings ii. 24.; Menochius) for arrogating to himself the right of the first-born, and pretending that the crown belonged to him. (Haydock) — The names of his mother, and of those who follow, are barely known. (Salien)
Ver. 5. Wife. She was otherwise of no nobility, but perhaps loved by David more than the rest, as Rachel was by Jacob. The Rabbins would infer that Egla and Michol are the same person. But the latter had no children, (chap. vi. 23.; Salien) and is mentioned [in] ver. 13.
Ver. 8. Concubine. To marry the king’s widow was deemed an attempt upon the throne, 3 Kings ii. 22. Hence Solomon was so displeased at Adonias, ver. 24. Some think that Isboseth formed the accusation on mere conjecture; but Abner does not deny the fact. (Calmet) — Dog’s head: of no account, like a dead dog; (Haydock) or no better than a servant, who leads a dog. The Jews considered the dog as one of the vilest of animals, chap. ix. 8., and Job xxx. 1. — Juda. This word is neglected by the Septuagint. Some would substitute Liduth, “to be cast away.” (Calmet) — God permits the defenders of a wrong cause to fall out, that the right one may be advanced. (Worthington)
Ver. 9. Sworn. It seems therefore that he knew of God’s appointment, and had hitherto resisted it for his own temporal convenience. (Haydock) — If both he and Isboseth were ignorant of this decree, Abner had no right to deprive the latter of the crown. (Abulensis, q. 7.) (Menochius)
Ver. 11. Him. And no wonder; since even David could not repress the insolence of his chief commander, ver. 39. So Otho “had not yet sufficient authority to hinder the perpetration of crimes.” (Tacitus, Hist. i.)
Ver. 12. Himself. Hebrew may be also “immediately,” (Piscator) or “in secret,” (Kimchi) as the matter seems not to have transpired. (Calmet) — Alexandrian Septuagint, “to Thelam, where he was, without delay, saying, Make,” &c. (Haydock) — Land? Is it not thine? or have not I the disposal of a great part of it? (Menochius)
Ver. 13. Thee. Could David thus authorize treachery? It is answered, that Abner knew that the throne belonged to him, and he was already responsible for all the evils of the civil war. David does not approve of his conduct, but only makes use of him to obtain his right. — Michol. He might justly think that the people would have less repugnance to acknowledge him for their sovereign, when they saw that he had married the daughter of Saul. She had never been repudiated by him. (Calmet)
Ver. 14. Isboseth. Thus he would screen the perfidy of Abner, (Menochius) and hinder him from using any violence. (Calmet) — The pacific king accedes immediately to the request, as he had no personal aversion to David, and saw that he was in a far more elevated condition than Phaltiel. (Haydock) — Moreover, this was no time to irritate him more, as Abner was discontented. (Menochius)
Ver. 16. Bahurim, in the tribe of Benjamin. (Adrichomius 28.)
Ver. 18. Enemies. We read not of this promise elsewhere. But how many other things are omitted in the sacred books? (Calmet) — Abner alleges God’s decree, that he may not be deemed a traitor. (Cajetan)
Ver. 19. Benjamin, which tribe was naturally most attached to Saul’s family. They followed, however, the example of the ten tribes, and 20 of them accompanied their general to Hebron. (Salien)
Ver. 20. Feast, through joy at the reception of his wife, and of such good news. (Menochius)
Ver. 21. And may. Some Latin copies read with the Hebrew, “and it (Israel) may enter,” ineat.
Ver. 22. Robbers. Amalecites, (Salien) or Philistines, who had made some incursions into David’s territories. (Abulensis)
Ver. 25. Dost. This explains going out, &c. (Haydock) — Joab pretends to be wholly solicitous for the king’s welfare. But he was afraid lest Abner should take his place, and he also desired to revenge Asael’s death. (Menochius)
Ver. 26. Messengers, in the king’s name. — Sira. See Judges iii. 26. Josephus says the place was 20 stadia from Hebron. (Antiquities vii. 1.)
Ver. 27. Middle. Septuagint, “sides.” — Brother; (who had been wounded in the same place) a just punishment of Abner’s licentiousness. (Salien) — This was given out as the pretext of the murder; but envy seems to have been the chief promoter. (Menochius) — Joab treated Amasa in the same manner, chap. xx. 10. Ambition was his god. (Calmet) — Abisai was ready to assist him to murder Abner, ver. 30. Thus the fairest prospects of union seemed to vanish, and David was sincerely grieved, as he manifested in the most decided manner, confessing it was only the want of power which prevented him from bringing these merciless and potent brothers, his own nephews, to immediate punishment, ver. 39. (Haydock)
Ver. 28. Innocent. I would not purchase a kingdom at such a price. (Calmet) — I beg that the crime may not be imputed to us, who are innocent. (Haydock) — God sometimes punishes a whole kingdom for the sins of the rulers. (Menochius) — Yet not without some fault of the subjects. (Haydock)
Ver. 29. Issue. Such were looked upon as unclean, (Leviticus xv. 3,) and incapable of having children. Aquila translates zab, “blind.” Septuagint, “afflicted with the gonorrhœa.” — Distaff, like eunuchs. (Delrio, adag. 190.) (Claud in Eutrop.) Tu telas non tela pati, &c. Some translate a stick, with which the blind, lame and aged endeavour to walk. (Calmet) — Any of these conditions would be very mortifying to great warriors. (Haydock) — Bread. Hunger and famine were considered as a scourge of God, Psalm lviii. 7, 15., and cviii. 10. David is not moved with hatred, but foretells what will befall the posterity of these men, whose crime he abhors. (Calmet)
Ver. 31. Joab. Requiring him to make some reparation, at least, for the offence, and to render the funeral pomp more solemn. All were obliged to rend their garments, and to put on sackcloth, on such occasions. It was very rough, and consisted chiefly of goat and camel’s hair. — Bier, contrary to the custom of kings. Some copies of the Septuagint say, he “went before the bier,” (Calmet) where women commonly were placed. (Grotius)
Ver. 33. Died. Hebrew, “Is Abner dead, like Nabal,” “a fool,” (Chaldean) “like the wicked?” “Ought so brave a man to have died in this treacherous manner?”
Ver. 34. Iniquity. David does not spare Joab, in this canticle, which was sung by all the people. (Calmet) — He intimates, that if he had not used deceit, Abner would not have been so easily overcome. (Haydock)
Ver. 35. David. Hebrew, “to cause David to eat meat” (Haydock) at the feast, which usually accompanied funerals, Genesis l, 3. (Calmet)
Ver. 38. Israel. And that all this pomp is not unseasonable. (Menochius) — The chief, if not the only virtue of Abner, was military skill, or a blunt valour.
Ver. 39. King. Septuagint, “and that I am to-day a relation, (by my wife) and appointed king by the king?” (Haydock) — He seemed as yet to have little more than the title. His throne was not well established; (Calmet; Worthington) and to undertake to punish the offenders now, might have had so pernicious consequences as the attempt of Isboseth to correct his general. (Haydock) — It is better to temporize than to increase the distemper, (Calmet) by a fruitless zeal for justice. (Haydock) — The punishment was only deferred, 3 Kings ii. 5. (Menochius) — Hard. Powerful or insupportable. (Calmet) — This year was memorable for the death of Codrus, king of Athens. (Salien, the year of the world 2985.)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
David groweth daily stronger. Abner cometh over to him: he is treacherously slain by Joab.
1 Now *there was a long war between the house of Saul and the house of David: David prospering and growing always stronger and stronger, but the house of Saul decaying daily.
2 *And sons were born to David in Hebron: and his first-born was Amnon, of Achinoam, the Jezrahelitess.
3 And his second Cheleab, of Abigail, the wife of Nabal, of Carmel: and the third, Absalom, the son of Maacha, the daughter of Tholmai, king of Gessur.
4 And the fourth, Adonias, the son of Haggith: and the fifth, Saphathia, the son of Abital.
5 And the sixth, Jethraam, of Egla, the wife of David: these were born to David in Hebron.
6 Now while there was war between the house of Saul and the house of David, Abner, the son of Ner, ruled the house of Saul.
7 And Saul had a concubine named Respha, the daughter of Aia. And Isboseth said to Abner:
8 Why didst thou go in to my father’s concubine? And he was exceedingly angry for the words of Isboseth, and said: Am I a dog’s head against Juda this day, who have shewn mercy unto the house of Saul, thy father, and to his brethren and friends, and have not delivered thee into the hands of David, and hast thou sought this day against me, to charge me with a matter concerning a woman?
9 So do God to Abner, and more also, unless as the Lord hath sworn to David, so I do to him,
10 That the kingdom be translated from the house of Saul, and the throne of David be set up over Israel, and over Juda, from Dan to Bersabee.
11 And he could not answer him a word, because he feared him.
12 Abner *therefore sent messengers to David for himself, saying: Whose is the land? and that they should say: Make a league with me, and my hand shall be with thee: and I will bring all Israel to thee.
13 And he said: Very well: I will make a league with thee: but one thing I require of thee, saying: Thou shalt not see my face before thou bring Michol, the daughter of Saul; and so thou shalt come, and see me.
14 And David sent messengers to Isboseth, the son of Saul, saying: *Restore my wife, Michol, whom I espoused to me for a hundred fore-skins of the Philistines.
15 And Isboseth sent, and took her from her husband, Phaltiel, the son of Lais.
16 And her husband followed her, weeping as far as Bahurim: And Abner said to him: Go and return. And he returned.
17 Abner also spoke to the ancients of Israel, saying: Both yesterday and the day before you sought for David, that he might reign over you.
18 Now then do it: because the Lord hath spoken to David, saying: By the hand of my servant David I will save my people Israel from the hands of the Philistines, and of all their enemies.
19 And Abner spoke also to Benjamin. And he went to speak to David, in Hebron, all that seemed good to Israel, and to all Benjamin.
20 And he came to David, in Hebron, with twenty men: and David made a feast for Abner, and his men that came with him.
21 And Abner said to David: I will rise, that I may gather all Israel unto thee, my lord the king, and may enter into a league with thee, and that thou mayst reign over all as thy soul desireth. Now when David had brought Abner on his way, and he was gone in peace,
22 Immediately David’s servants and Joab came, after having slain the robbers, with an exceeding great booty: And Abner was not with David in Hebron, for he had now sent him away, and he was gone in peace.
23 And Joab and all the army that was with him, came afterwards: and it was told Joab, that Abner, the son of Ner, came to the king, and he hath sent him away, and he is gone in peace.
24 And Joab went in to the king, and said: What hast thou done? Behold Abner came to thee: Why didst thou send him away, and he is gone and departed?
25 Knowest thou not Abner, the son of Ner, that to this end he came to thee, that he might deceive thee, and to know thy going out, and thy coming in, and to know all thou dost?
26 Then Joab going out from David, sent messengers after Abner, and brought him back from the cistern of Sira, David knowing nothing of it.
27 And when *Abner was returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside to the middle of the gate, to speak to him, treacherously: and he stabbed him there in the groin, and he died, in revenge of the blood of Asael his brother.
28 And when David heard of it, after the thing was now done, he said: I, and my kingdom are innocent before the Lord for ever of the blood of Abner, the son of Ner:
29 And may it come upon the head of Joab, and upon all his father’s house: and let there not fail from the house of Joab one that hath an issue of seed, or that is a leper, or that holdeth the distaff, or that falleth by the sword, or that wanteth bread.
30 So Joab, and Abisai, his brother slew Abner, because he had killed their brother Asael, at Gabaon, in the battle.
31 And David said to Joab, and to all the people that were with him: Rend your garments, and gird yourselves with sackcloths, and mourn before the funeral of Abner. And king David himself followed the bier.
32 And when they had buried Abner in Hebron, king David lifted up his voice, and wept at the grave of Abner: and all the people also wept.
33 And the king, mourning and lamenting over Abner, said: Not as cowards are wont to die, hath Abner died.
34 Thy hands were not bound, nor thy feet loaden with fetters: but as men fall before the children of iniquity, so didst thou fall. And all the people repeating it, wept over him.
35 And when all the people came to take meat with David, while it was yet broad day, David swore, saying: So do God to me, and more also, if I taste bread or any thing else before sun-set.
36 And all the people heard, and they were pleased, and all that the king did seemed good in the sight of all the people.
37 And all the people, and all Israel understood that day, that it was not the king’s doing, that Abner, the son of Ner, was slain.
38 The king also said to his servants: Do you not know that a prince and a great man is slain this day in Israel?
39 But I as yet am tender, though anointed king: and these men, the sons of Sarvia, are too hard for me: the Lord reward him that doeth evil according to his wickedness.
1: Year of the World 2951.
2: 1 Paralipomenon iii. 1.
12: Year of the World 2956, Year before Christ 1048.
14: 1 Kings xviii. 27.
27: 3 Kings ii. 5.