2 Samuel 20:11
One of Joab's young men stood near Amasa and said, "Whoever favors Joab, and whoever is for David, let him follow Joab!"
The Murder of AmasaB. Dale 2 Samuel 20:4-13

2 Samuel 20:4-13. - (GIBEON.)
And Amasa took no heed to the sword that was in Joab's hand (ver. 10). Amasa (son of Abigail, David's sister, and Jether an Ishmaelite, and first cousin of Joab, 2 Samuel 17:25) joined Absalom in his rebellion; and must have been a man of great ability, courage, and influence, from the fact that he was appointed by him "captain of the host instead of Joab," and afterwards promised by David the same post (2 Samuel 19:13). This promise "involved no injustice to Joab himself, for he had long been notorious for too great severity in war, and had just acted with such direct disobedience to the royal command in Absalom's case, that it was impossible to overlook his offence without endangering the royal prerogative" (Ewald). Whilst it was adapted to conciliate the men of Judah, it was, nevertheless, certain to give offence to Joab and cause future trouble. It does not appear that he was formally replaced by Amasa; but the commission given to the latter (ver. 4) "was intended as the commencement of the fulfilment of the promise" (Keil). And when he exhibited undue delay in its fulfilment (ver. 5), David, "wishing to have nothing to do with Joab," sent Abishai to pursue after Sheba (ver. 6). "And there went out after him Joab's men" (ver. 7) under Joab (who deemed himself still commander-in-chief). At "the great stone which is in Gibeon" (2 Samuel 2:13; 2 Samuel 21:1; 1 Chronicles 21:29) he met Amasa returning with his military levies, and on saluting him with the kiss of peace, dealt him his death blow (vers. 8-10); passed on, followed (after a brief hesitation at the spectacle of their murdered captain) by "all the people;" finished the war, and returned to Jerusalem. In this tragedy notice:

1. The danger of holding a responsible position by one who is ill Qualified for it through want of natural ability, proper antecedents, timely appointment, public confidence, adequate zeal and energy. "The cause of Amasa's delay is not stated. It may have been the unwillingness of the men of Judah to place themselves under the orders of Amasa (contrast vers. 13 and 14), or it may have been caused by a wavering or hesitation in the loyalty of Amasa himself. This last is evidently insinuated in ver. 11, and no doubt this was the pretext., whether grounded in fact or not, by which Joab justified the murder of Amasa before David" ('Speaker's Commentary').

2. The tendency of repeated crimes to induce more daring criminality. This was Joab's third murder (2 Samuel 3:27; 2 Samuel 18:14), in addition to his complicity in the death of Uriah; less excusable, more guileful, malicious, and reckless than any other; his motive being jealousy of a rival. "No life is safe that stands in his way, but from policy he never sacrifices the most insignificant life without a purpose" (2 Samuel 2:27-30; 2 Samuel 18:16; 2 Samuel 20:20). "By degrees men grow more and more bold and unfeeling in the commission of crimes of every kind; until they vindicate and glory in their villainies; and when such daring offenders are actuated by ambition or revenge, they will not be restrained by the ties of relationship or friendship; nay, they will employ the guise and language of love to obtain the opportunity of perpetrating the most atrocious murders. The beginning of evil should therefore in everything be decisively resisted" (Scott).

3. The infliction of deserved punishment by an unauthorized and wicked hand. "Amasa is innocent of the crime of seeking Joab's place, for which he is murdered by him, yet he is guilty before God for his siding with Absalom. Whereupon we collect that ofttimes men suffer innocently for some crimes that are laid to their charge, and in respect of the persons who are the pursuers; yet in God's judgment they are justly punished for other sins, wherein either they have been spared or else have not been noted to the world; and as many at the hour of their death and execution, publicly have acknowledged" (Guild).

4. The commission of a great crime by one who possesses great abilities and renders great public services. Alas! that a man of such military skill, practical sagacity, and tried fidelity as Joab (now far advanced in life), should have been so "hardened by the deceitfulness of sin"! Once more he saved the monarchy; and once more David was compelled to bear with him (2 Samuel 3:39; 2 Samuel 19:13). "He probably felt obliged to show some indulgence to a man who was indispensable to him as a soldier, and who, notwithstanding his culpable ferocity, never lost sight of his master's interests." His indulgence was doubtless also due, in part, to the consciousness of his own sin (Psalm 51:3), which made him unwilling to inflict the penalty of the law on one who had been his partner in guilt. But at length judgment overtakes the transgressor; the Law is vindicated; and the ways of God to men are justified (1 Kings 2:5, 6, 28-35). Near the very spot where his crowning act of perfidy was perpetrated, Joab received his death blow from the hand of Benaiah (1 Chronicles 16:39). - D.

This chapter is a relation of Sheba's rebellion.

1. The trumpet of this new rebellion was a son of Belial, Sheba the son of Bichri, whom God by His providence ordered to be present when this paroxism or hot fit of contention happened betwixt the tribe of Judah and the tribes of Israel as before. The Devil (who loves to fish in troubled waters) strikes in with this opportunity, as a fit hour of temptation for him, and excites this Belialist to blow a trumpet and to sound a retreat in the ears of those Israelites, saying [Seeing the men of Judah say that we have no part in David, but they do monopolize him to themselves] let them have him, and let us choose another for ourselves, hoping that they would choose him, because he was a Benjamite akin to Saul, and supposed to be the chiefest captain under Amasa to Absalom (ver. 1.)

2. This Belialist (so-called) was for casting off the yoke of David (as the Hebrew word Belial signifies) and being grieved that the kingdom was translated from Saul's house to David, he bespatters David, calling him the son of Jesse, a private person, so the crown could not descend upon David by inheritance, and therefore (saith he) we are at liberty to choose a new king. This opprobrious title that Sheba gave David here did savour of Saul (who had oft called him so in contempt) and of the old enmity: and possibly Sheba might aggravate to those Israelites, that David had sent Zadock and Abiathar to the men of Judah that they might be persuaded to fetch back the King, but he sent them not to our elders; therefore seeing he hath so slighted us, let us look to our own concerns, and let him look to his (ver. 1.)

3. Behold how great a flame of fire a little spark doth kindle (Jam. 8-5) when God gives way thereunto, Sheba's presence and influence upon those Israelites, though casual in itself, and as to men, yet was it ordered so by the providence of God, who permitted the devil to blow up this blast of rebellion for several reasons: as(1) first, For a further exercise of David's faith and patience;(2) secondly, To purge out of David's kingdom all factious and seditious spirits;(3) thirdly, To punish Sheba the ringleader of those rebels;(4) fourthly, To animadvert David to his betraying Uriah, and of his spearing Shimei, and (as some add) of his unjust dealing with his dear Mephibosheth, &c., for these and other sins of David God was pleased to correct him again with this new affliction, before he was well got out of the old.

(C. Ness.)

1. We are first introduced to Sheba, the son of Bichri, or, as it is read by recent commentators, the Bichrite — that is, a member of the family of Becher, the second son of Benjamin. This man was, therefore, by so much related to the clan of Saul. It is difficult to get the old taint out of the blood. Sheba is a minimised Saul, full of hostility to David and all his interests. Even bad men have their opportunity in life. We have seen again and again how easy it is to do mischief. Sheba, a man who probably had no power to construct a positive fame by deeds of beneficence and the origination of statesmanlike policies, had it in his power to set fire to dangerous substances and bring into peril a movement which promised to consummate itself in the happiest results to Israel. The historical instance ought to be a continual lesson. The meanest man may pull down a wall, or set fire to a palace, or whisper a slander concerning the character of a king. The remarkable thing is that whilst society is well aware of all this possibility, it is willing to lend an ear to every wicked speaker Who arises, insisting upon the old and detestable sophism flint although the report may not be wholly and literally true, there yet must be some foundation for it.

2. Sheba is described in the text. as "a man of Belial," in other words, a child of the devil. A man's spiriutal parentage is known by the deeds in which he delights. We have in the first verse a kind of double genealogy of Sheba; he is called "the son of Bichri, a Benjamite," and he is also described as "a man of Belial." It would seem as if in some cases men had a lineal physical descent, and had also a direct spiritual ancestry. Account for it as we may, there are practical differences in spirit and character which would seem almost to suggest two different grades or qualities of human nature. Whilst it is profoundly and sadly true that all men are apostates, and that there is none righteous, no, not one, it is also undeniable that there are chiefs in the army of evil, princes of sin, royal and dominating personages in the whole kingdom of wickedness. They are ingenious in the device of evil; their imagination is afire with the very spirit of perdition; they can invent new departures, striking policies, undreamed-of cruelties, unimaginable wanderings from the path of rectitude. It is most certain that many men simply "follow a multitude to do evil"; they have little or no invention of their own; they would never originate rebellions or lead insurrections, or devise plots involving great disasters; they are but followers, imitators, echoes not voices, persons who go by the bulk and not by detail, being only of consequence in proportion to their multiudinousness, having no independent spirit of their own when taken one by one.

3. David, being now impatient of the insolence of Joab, and willing to avail himself of an opportunity of superseding that able but arrogant captain, gave an appointment to Amasa. As Amasa went forth he encountered an unexpected foe in the person of Joab. It is explained in the text how Joab by a peculiar arrangement of his dress — a girdle bound round his military coat — had contrived to conceal a dagger which would fall out as lie advanced. The dagger falling out thus gave Joab an opportunity of naturally picking it up, as he wished to use it, without exciting the suspicion of Amasa. Thus even in so small a trick the depravity of Joab is made manifest. Taking Amasa by the beard with his right hand to kiss him, Joab smote him in the fifth rib, with but one blow; but that a fatal stroke. Joab would thus tolerate no rivals by whomsoever they might have been appointed. This desperateness of spirit was really part of the greatness of the man, — that is to say, apart from such desperateness he never could have brought to bear all his various faculties of statesman and soldier. Morality has often commented upon the circumstance that great talents should be turned to base uses. So it is the world over: the completer the education as a merely intellectual exercise, the more disastrous is the power to do evil, unless the education has been supported and chastened by adequate moral training. It is mere idolatry to admire greatness alone: when that greatness is held in check by enlightened consciousness, then its recognition really involves an act of worship to him who is the Spirit of Righteousness and the teacher of the world. It is but lust, however, to say that we are not to judge Joab by the morality of a much later age. Morality itself is part of an infinite but most beneficent evolution. Even a good cause may have bad supporters. The cause in which Joab was now engaged was unquestionably a good one, being nothing less than the restoration of David to his kingly position in Israel, and by so much the fulfilment of a divine covenant. Joab had a good cause, but he brought to its support a very questionable character. Is not this same instance repeating itself along the whole line of history? Is not the Church indebted to many a man whose heart is in the world and whose ambition is his only god? Are there not some men eloquent of tongue whose hearts are silent as to true worship? Is not good money often given by polluted hands?

(J. Parker, D. D.)

, H. O. Mackey.
"Cyrus, in Herodotus, going to fight against Scythia, coming to a broad river, and not being able to pass over it, cut and divided it into divers arms and sluices, and so made it passable for all his army. This is the devil's policy; he laboureth to divide the people of God, and separate us into divers sects and factions, that so he may easily overcome us." This needs no comment. What is needed is that by a spirit of brotherly love we promote the unity of all the churches, and the peace and concord of that to which we belong. May the peace of the church be "as a river." Unity is strength. "Divide and conquer" is Satan's watchword to his myrmidons.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)When the South Carolina convention broke up with a declaration of secession from the north, and the Civil War was thereby proclaimed, there were great jubilations. Bells were rung, cannon saluted, and the street,s were filled with the noise and display of great parades. But what a drama of blood it led to, and what a tragedy of disastrous defeat was its end!

(H. O. Mackey.)

Abel, Abiathar, Abishai, Absalom, Adoram, Ahilud, Amasa, Benaiah, Berites, Bichri, Bichrites, Cherethites, Dan, David, Gibeon, Ira, Jehoiada, Jehoshaphat, Jesse, Joab, Kerethites, Maacah, Pelethites, Sheva, Zadok
Abel-beth-maacah, Gibeon, Jerusalem, Jordan River
Amasa, Ama'sa, Amasa's, Beside, David, Delight, Favoreth, Favors, Favoureth, Favours, Follow, Joab, Jo'ab, Joab's, Jo'ab's, Stand, Stood, Taking
1. By occasion of the quarrel, Sheba rebels in Israel
3. David's ten concubines are put in confinement for life
4. Amasa, made captain over Judah, is slain by Joab
14. Joab pursues Sheba to Abel
16. A wise woman saves the city by Sheba's head
23. David's officers

Dictionary of Bible Themes
2 Samuel 20:1-22

     5087   David, reign of

Appendix 2 Extracts from the Babylon Talmud
Massecheth Berachoth, or Tractate on Benedictions [76] Mishnah--From what time is the "Shema" said in the evening? From the hour that the priests entered to eat of their therumah [77] until the end of the first night watch. [78] These are the words of Rabbi Eliezer. But the sages say: Till midnight. Rabban Gamaliel says: Until the column of the morning (the dawn) rises. It happened, that his sons came back from a banquet. They said to him: "We have not said the Shema.'" He said to them, "If the column
Alfred Edersheim—Sketches of Jewish Social Life

The Sixth Commandment
Thou shalt not kill.' Exod 20: 13. In this commandment is a sin forbidden, which is murder, Thou shalt not kill,' and a duty implied, which is, to preserve our own life, and the life of others. The sin forbidden is murder: Thou shalt not kill.' Here two things are to be understood, the not injuring another, nor ourselves. I. The not injuring another. [1] We must not injure another in his name. A good name is a precious balsam.' It is a great cruelty to murder a man in his name. We injure others in
Thomas Watson—The Ten Commandments

Alike from the literary and the historical point of view, the book[1] of Samuel stands midway between the book of Judges and the book of Kings. As we have already seen, the Deuteronomic book of Judges in all probability ran into Samuel and ended in ch. xii.; while the story of David, begun in Samuel, embraces the first two chapters of the first book of Kings. The book of Samuel is not very happily named, as much of it is devoted to Saul and the greater part to David; yet it is not altogether inappropriate,
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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