2 Samuel 20:24
Adoram was in charge of the forced labor; Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was the recorder;
Abel's Oracle; or Prudence and PeaceablenessF. Hastings.

I am one of them that are peaceable and faithful in Israel. The wise woman probably spoke in these words, not so much for herself, as for the inhabitants of her town, which Joab was besieging. Hence the adjectives are plural. She pleads the peacefulness and fidelity of the people as a reason for sparing them. It was no fault of theirs that a traitor had taken refuge amongst them. Joab acknowledges the force of her plea, and promises to depart if Sheba were delivered up to him - a promise which he fulfilled when the head of the traitor had been flung to him over the wall. The qualities here mentioned are of inestimable value; in an individual in relation to his neighbours, fellow citizens, and fellow Christians; in a family as between its members, and in relation to other families; in a town, between its inhabitants, and in respect to other towns; in a country, between the various classes of the people, between the people and their rulers, and in relation to other countries; and in a Church, as between its members, and in its relations with other Churches and with the community at large. They are the subject of many Scripture injunctions and promises. They are fruits of the Spirit; essential parts of the character of a Christian; the natural product of the gospel in those who really believe it. "The kingdom of God is righteousness and peace" (Romans 14:17); "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness" (Galatians 5:22, Revised Version); "Love truth and peace" (Zechariah 8:19, Revised Version).

I. PEACEABLENESS. This Christian virtue is very frequently inculcated in the Scriptures, especially the New Testament.

1. Its nature. It consists in a disposition to live in harmony and friendliness with all. It shows itself by courtesy and kindness; by avoidance of contention and quarrels; by carefulness not to give just or needless provocation to others; by meek endurance of provocation and even injustice from others; by readiness to give and receive explanation and apology; by quiet, unobtrusive performance of one's own duties, and abstinence from intermeddling with other people's business; by overlooking small offences, and readiness to forgive greater.

2. Its sources. In some it is a natural disposition. As a Christian virtue it springs from:

(1) Christian love - love to Christian brethren as such, and love to all. This prompts those in whom it reigns to seek the happiness of others, and to put the most charitable construction on their conduct. It also subdues the irascible dispositions, and the selfishness which so readily leads to alienation and contention.

(2) Christian humility. "By pride cometh contention" (Proverbs 13:10). The proud exaggerate their own claims, expect too much from others, resent slight offence, insist on unreasonable reparation. But the humble avoid, without effort, such occasions of strife. Thus love and humility promote peace; and all the influences and motives which produce and foster the former are equally favourable to the latter.

3. Its benefits.

(1) To the peaceable themselves. It is itself happiness. It secures the good will of others, the enjoyment of which is happiness. It is a frame of mind favourable to the cultivation and growth of all Christian virtues; and to all those devout exercises by which these are nourished and the favour of God realized.

(2) To society. The absence of the annoyance and discomfort which the contentious occasion. The enjoyment of quietness and rest. The peaceable are also peacemakers, and promote a pacific disposition in others. If all men were peaceable, wars, small and great alike, would cease.

II. FAITHFULNESS. "Faithful," on the lips of the wise woman, probably meant "loyal" to the king. It might well include also uprightness in general. "We are a people not only peaceful, but (as the word is) reliable, trustworthy. We are honest, just, steadily occupied with a faithful discharge of our duties, at once to God, to each other, and to the state." Fidelity must be associated with peaceableness to form a noble Christian character; fidelity to Christ and God, to conscience and conviction, to truth and duty, to promises and engagements; fidelity to those to whom we are variously related in family, social, ecclesiastical, and national life. This gives strength to the character, as gentleness and peacefulness give beauty. The two qualities are not incompatible, but mutually helpful. A peaceful spirit prevents fidelity from becoming harsh, censorious, meddlesome, fierce. Fidelity prevents peacefulness from becoming an immoral weakness, which disregards justice and truth, is ever making unworthy Compromises, and would rather sacrifice the highest principles than run the risk of arousing the passions of men by asserting and defending them. Only "the wisdom that is from above," which "is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without variance, without hypocrisy" (James 3:17, Revised Version); in other words, the teaching of the Holy Spirit, - can enable us to give to each of these virtues, peacefulness and faithfulness, its due place. - G.W.

They shall surely ask counsel at Abel.
It will have to come to that again. Things cannot be settled really and lastingly except by counsel, wisdom, consent. The sword has had its day; it is a fool's argument. What is the idea of the text that is translatable into the practice of all places and all ages? Whether there was an oracle at Abel, whether there was a counsel of referees there, whether this one wise woman had in her own hand, as it were, the decision of important controversies, we can never determine: suffice it to know that there was a time, holy, sabbatic time, when men said, Let us go to the little town of Abel and talk this matter out: and so they ended the matter. The point to which we should direct attention is that there comes a moment when things must be settled by authority. Blessed are they who consent to the constitution of that authority; then it is no longer despotism or tyranny, it is settlement by consent. In old time men were wont to take counsel at Abel; and so they ended the matter. They discussed it, canvassed it, threshed it out, and went into it through and through, saw what it was made of, and then, having done so, they put out hand to hand, and were men and brothers once more. This same principle is amongst us like a ghost. Sometimes we get it in a concrete form and work it into the very practice of life, yet it is ever amongst us as a kind of spectre, some being more or less afraid of it, some offering it hospitality, all acknowledging that if it really could be brought into play on a large and just basis it would settle everything.

I. THE ABEL OF EXPERIENCE. There is an Abel, a venerable city, called Experience; why not go down to the Abel of experience, take counsel there: and so settle the matter? Experience ought to go for something. Experience is man's account of life. He tells you where he has been, what he has done, how he has conducted himself, and what results have accrued from the policies and the processes which he has adopted. We ought to hear that man. We always think there is a shorter cut than he took. Every age think it could work the programme better than Solomon worked it. For a long period this must go on, but the day will come when experience will go for something, when grey hairs will be taken as the symbols of philosophy, when the wrinkled face will itself be a title to be heard on all the practical questions and issues of life.

II. THE ABEL OF TIME. Why not go to another aspect of this same experience, another corner of this same Abel, and consult Time? Why not admit Time to our counsels? Why leap at new theories? Why bristle up when the unpronouncable name of some lager-beer drinker is associated with some new mare's nest in the realm of letters and theology? How many theories have come and gone! Where are they? Gone with the lager-beer! When men come to you with new theories, you should say, We must test these, or see them tested by long time. The Cross — the weird, grim, ghastly Cross — is nineteen centuries old, and it lifts itself up to-day the symbol of universal life. As for these theories and inventions of yours, it is only right that we should see how they bear the stress and the sifting of time. In old time our fathers were wont to come to the Abel of the Bible; venerable men would say, To the law and to the testimony! Perhaps they had too narrow a way of referring to the scriptures; they might make too much of a chapter and a verse, they might not sufficiently compare Scripture with Scripture and get their souls into the very genius of Divine revelation as to speak Biblically rather than textually: but their principle was right. They said, We know nothing of God but what is revealed, we know nothing of the future but what is written in the Book, we know nothing about sin and about redemption except what we are told by the revelation of God, as we believe it to be: therefore let us go to:

III. THE ABEL OF THE BIBLE, take counsel, and so end the matter. I am here to say in my own name, as the result of my own searching and experience, that I can get no answers to the greatest problems of mind and time equal in largeness, in precision, in hopefulness, to the answers that are given in the Bible. There are other answers, but I have found none that can stretch themselves with ease and dignity over the whole space of necessity.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

It has been supposed that the true interpretation of asking counsel at Abel is that Abel had become famous for its wisdom. In one of the Targums we read: "Remember now that which is written in the book of the law, to ask a city concerning peace at the first. Hast thou done so to ask of Abel if they will make peace." No certain interpretation can be given to the words; but we are at liberty to remember that even superstition has sometimes played a useful part in history. Men have attached importance to times, places, emotions, and by so much have been checked in their impulses and subdued in their fiery ambitions.

(J. Parker, D. D.).

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
Adoram, Ador'am, Ahilud, Ahi'lud, Charge, Forced, Jehoshaphat, Jehosh'aphat, Labor, Levy, Overseer, Recorder, Remembrancer, Subject, Taskwork, Tribute
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 20:23-26

     7236   Israel, united kingdom

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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