2 Samuel 20:4
Then the king said to Amasa, "Summon the men of Judah to come to me within three days, and be here yourself."
Disunion the Devil's PolicySpurgeon, Charles Haddon2 Samuel 20:1-5
Rebellion of ShebaC. Ness.2 Samuel 20:1-5
Revolt and Pursuit of ShebaJ. Parker, D. D.2 Samuel 20:1-5
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.

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
Amasa, Ama'sa, Assemble, Attend, Judah, Present, Stand, Summon, Within
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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