2 Samuel 20:4-13. - (GIBEON.)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.
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.)
(J. Parker, D. D.).
PeopleAbel, Abiathar, Abishai, Absalom, Adoram, Ahilud, Amasa, Benaiah, Berites, Bichri, Bichrites, Cherethites, Dan, David, Gibeon, Ira, Jehoiada, Jehoshaphat, Jesse, Joab, Kerethites, Maacah, Pelethites, Sheva, Zadok
PlacesAbel-beth-maacah, Gibeon, Jerusalem, Jordan River
TopicsAbishai, Abi'shai, Along, Bichri, Bicri, Cherethite, Cherethites, Cher'ethites, Command, Fighting-men, Jerusalem, Joab, Jo'ab, Joab's, Kerethites, Marched, Mighty, Overtake, Pelethite, Pelethites, Pel'ethites, Pursue, Sheba, Warriors
Outline1. 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 Themes2 Samuel 20:1-22
LibraryAppendix 2 Extracts from the Babylon Talmud
Massecheth Berachoth, or Tractate on Benedictions  Mishnah--From what time is the "Shema" said in the evening? From the hour that the priests entered to eat of their therumah  until the end of the first night watch.  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
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