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2Sa 20:1-9. SHEBA MAKES A PARTY IN ISRAEL.
1. Sheba . . . a Benjamite--Though nothing is known of this man, he
must have been a person of considerable power and influence, before he
could have raised so sudden and extensive a sedition. He belonged to
the tribe of Benjamin, where the adherents of Saul's dynasty were still
numerous; and perceiving the strong disgust of the other tribes with
the part assumed by Judah in the restoration, his ill-designing heart
resolved to turn it to the overthrow of David's authority in Israel.
2. from Jordan even to Jerusalem--The quarrel had broken out shortly after the crossing of the Jordan, between Judah and the other tribes, who withdrew; so that Judah was left nearly alone to conduct the king to the metropolis.
3. the king took the ten women his concubines--Jewish writers say that the widowed queens of Hebrew monarchs were not allowed to marry again but were obliged to pass the rest of their lives in strict seclusion. David treated his concubines in the same manner after the outrage committed on them by Absalom. They were not divorced, for they were guiltless; but they were no longer publicly recognized as his wives; nor was their confinement to a sequestered life a very heavy doom, in a region where women have never been accustomed to go much abroad.
4. Then said the king to Amasa, Assemble me the men of Judah within three days--Amasa is now installed in the command which David had promised him. The revolt of the ten tribes, probably, hastened the public declaration of this appointment, which he hoped would be popular with them, and Amasa was ordered within three days to levy a force from Judah sufficient to put down the insurrection. The appointment was a blunder, and the king soon perceived his error. The specified time passed, but Amasa could not muster the men. Dreading the loss of time, the king gave the commission to Abishai, and not to Joab--a new affront, which, no doubt, wounded the pride of the stern and haughty old general. But he hastened with his attached soldiers to go as second to his brother, determined to take the first opportunity of wreaking his vengeance on his successful rival.
8. Amasa went before them--Having collected some forces, he by a rapid
march overtook the expedition at Gibeon, and assumed the place of
commander; in which capacity, he was saluted, among others, by Joab.
9. took Amasa by the beard with the right hand to kiss him--This act, common with two friends on meeting when one of them returns from a journey, indicates respect as well as kindliness, and the performance of it evinced the deep hypocrisy of Joab, who thereby put Amasa off his guard. No wonder, then, that while this act of friendly gratulation after long absence occupied Amasa's attention, he did not perceive the sword that was in Joab's left hand. The action of Joab was indeed a high compliment, but neither suspicious nor unusual and to this compliment, Amasa paying attention and no doubt returning it with suitable politeness, he could little expect the fatal event that Joab's perfidy produced.
2Sa 20:10-13. AMASA IS SLAIN.
11-13. He that favoureth Joab, and he that is for David, let him go after Joab--It is a striking proof of Joab's unrivalled influence over the army, that with this villainous murder perpetrated before their eyes they unanimously followed him as their leader in pursuit of Sheba. A soldier conjoined his name with David's, and such a magic spell was in the word "Joab," that all the people "went on"--Amasa's men as well as the rest. The conjunction of these two names is very significant. It shows that the one could not afford to do without the other--neither Joab to rebel against David, nor David to get rid of Joab, though hating him.
2Sa 20:14, 15. JOAB PURSUES SHEBA UNTO ABEL.
2Sa 20:16-22. A WISE WOMAN SAVES THE CITY BY SHEBA'S HEAD.
18-20. They were wont to speak in old time--The translation of the Margin gives a better meaning, which is to this effect: When the people saw thee lay siege to Abel, they said, Surely he will ask if we will have peace, for the law (De 20:10) prescribes that he should offer peace to strangers, much more then to Israelitish cities; and if he do this, we shall soon bring things to an amicable agreement, for we are a peaceable people. The answer of Joab brings out the character of that ruthless veteran as a patriot at heart, who, on securing the author of this insurrection, was ready to put a stop to further bloodshed and release the peaceable inhabitants from all molestation.
2Sa 20:23-26. DAVID'S GREAT OFFICERS.
23. Now Joab was over all the host of Israel--David, whatever his private wishes, found that he possessed not the power of removing Joab; so winking at the murder of Amasa, he re-established that officer in his former post of commander-in-chief. The enumeration of David's cabinet is here given to show that the government was re-established in its wonted course.