2 Samuel Chapter 18
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Go to Bible: 2 Samuel 18
|2Sm 18:1||- (top)|
“the Gittite.” The inhabitants of Gath were referred to as “Gittites” (see commentary on Josh. 13:3; cp. 2 Sam. 15:18).(top)
|2Sm 18:3||- (top)|
“the people.” That is, the people who were going out to fight.(top)
|2Sm 18:5||- (top)|
“in the forest of Ephraim.” In the Transjordan; likely somewhere in the tribal area of Manasseh in Gilead.(top)
|2Sm 18:7||- (top)|
|2Sm 18:8||- (top)|
“mule.” See commentary on 2 Samuel 13:29.
“the great oak.” It is likely that after the incident with Absalom, this particular oak became well known, so here the text refers to it as “the great oak.”
“his head caught hold of the oak and he was taken up between the sky and earth.” This is a bizarre record for a number of reasons. One reason is why was Absalom, the supposed new king, riding alone? He was going into battle! He should have had armor-bearers or some kind of guard with him. He was reckless and arrogant in his life, and now that contributes to his undoing. Also, his glorious hair became a fatal liability (cp. 2 Sam. 14:25-26). Ordinarily, Absalom would not have been so careless as to ride through the tangled brush and trees without paying close attention, but unexpectantly running into a group of David’s men when he was alone no doubt distracted him, and in his haste to get out of danger he entrapped himself in the tangled branches. Like so many times in Scripture, behind this incident we see the unseen hand of God, who was fighting behind the scenes to preserve the Davidic dynasty and defeat David’s enemies (cp. 2 Sam. 17:14).(top)
“I saw Absalom hanging in an oak.” This seems to be an indication that Absalom was under God’s curse (Deut. 21:22-23). This is the same Hebrew word for “hanging” that occurs in Deuteronomy.(top)
|2Sm 18:11||- (top)|
|2Sm 18:12||- (top)|
“his life.” The written Hebrew text says “his life,” but the Massorites suggested reading it “my life,” but “his life” makes sense.(top)
“arrows.” The Hebrew word translated “arrows” usually means “rod, staff, stick” or by extension, “tribe.” This is the only time in Scripture it is used of an arrow or arrow-like weapon. This seems to be an irony. Absalom wanted the “shepherd’s staff,” i.e., the leadership over Judah. He wanted to rule the “tribe.” So he got the “staff,” the “tribe,” right in the heart, but in a way that he did not expect and it killed him.(top)
|2Sm 18:15||- (top)|
“shofar.” The ram’s horn trumpet, not the metal trumpet.(top)
|2Sm 18:17||- (top)|
“the King’s Valley.” This is most likely the Kidron Valley, on the east side of Jerusalem, or where the Kidron Valley and the Hinnom Valley meet (cp. Gen. 14:17).
“I have no son.” According to 2 Samuel 14:27, Absalom had three sons, so apparently by this later time in his life they had passed away. While tragic, that would not have been terribly unusual. Naomi lost both her sons in their teenage years after they were married but before they could have children (Ruth 1:3-5). In the ancient world children often died from various causes that they would not die from today. Not only were things such as appendicitis deadly, but many people died of injuries and infections that are easily treated today.
“Absalom’s monument.” The Hebrew is idiomatic: “Absalom’s hand.” The word “hand” refers to what the person had done and memorialized it. The word “hand” is commonly used for memorials or monuments.(top)
“Then Ahimaaz the son of Zadok said, “Let me now run.” The request of Ahimaaz was logical because he had been assigned to take news of Absalom's rebellion earlier (2 Sam. 15:36).(top)
“You are not to be the one to proclaim the news this day.” Although Joab’s refusal to let Ahimaaz take the news of Absalom’s death to David is not explained in the text, it is almost certainly because Joab wanted to protect the young man. Although Ahimaaz thought Absalom’s death was a great victory and blessing, which in a sense it certainly was, Joab knew that to David it would be tragic news, and Joab did not know exactly how David would take it. If Ahimaaz brought that news it would certainly cause David to have a bad memory of him, and might even endanger him. Joab would have well remembered that the last two messengers who brought David news of the death of a supposed enemy, one at the death of Saul and the other at the death of Saul’s son, Ish-bosheth, were both executed. Although Ahimaaz had nothing to do with Absalom’s death, his enthusiastic attitude about it may have enraged David and thus endangered Ahimaaz’s life. So Joab assigned an unnamed and unknown Cushite to tell David the news. We can tell from the record that Joab was not trying to hide things from David, because he instructed the Cushite, go and tell David what you have seen (2 Sam. 18:21).(top)
“the Cushite.” This foreigner was unnamed and is not known.
“bowed down.” The common biblical way of bowing down before people or God was to fall to one’s knees and bow the upper body and face to the earth. The word translated “bowed down,” shachah (#07812 שָׁחָה), is the same Hebrew word as “worship.”
[For more on bowing down, see commentary on 1 Chron. 29:20.](top)
|2Sm 18:22||- (top)|
“the Road of the Plain.” Apparently a known road through the Jordan plain. This would be a little longer route, but much flatter and therefore faster to run. The word “plain” is more like “disk” or “oval,” and could refer to what would have been an ariel view, or it could refer to the flatness of the area.
“and outran the Cushite.” Ahimaaz and the Cushite likely took different routes.(top)
|2Sm 18:24||- (top)|
|2Sm 18:25||- (top)|
|2Sm 18:26||- (top)|
|2Sm 18:27||- (top)|
“bowed down.” The common biblical way of bowing down before people or God was to fall to one’s knees and bow the upper body and face to the earth, as we see in this verse. The word translated “bowed down,” shachah (#07812 שָׁחָה), is the same Hebrew word as “worship.”
[For more on bowing down, see commentary on 1 Chron. 29:20.]
“his face to the ground.” The Hebrew is more literally, “his nose to the ground.”(top)
“great commotion.” The Hebrew can also be “a great crowd.”(top)
|2Sm 18:30||- (top)|
|2Sm 18:31||- (top)|
“be as that young man is.” The Cushite uses great tact, not mentioning specifically that Absalom had died, but David got the message.(top)
“deeply moved.” The Hebrew can also mean “shaken,” or “trembling.” All likely apply. David was deeply moved, shaken to the core, and trembling.
“Oh that I had died instead of you.” David very likely assumes some responsibility for the death of Absalom. The whole downhill slope started with David’s adultery, and also that he did not discipline his sons. In fact, if he had dealt with Amnon when Amnon raped Absalom's sister Tamar, Absalom might not have harbored such bad feelings about David.(top)