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Go to Bible: 2 Samuel 2
|2Sa 2:1||- (top)|
“the wife of Nabal the Carmelite.” It is understood in the record that Nabal had died. David was not committing adultery here but the record is pointing out that Abigail had been married before (1 Sam 25:37-42).(top)
|2Sa 2:3||- (top)|
“the House of Judah.” That is, the tribe of Judah. The other eleven tribes of Israel were being ruled by Saul’s son Ish-bosheth at this time (2 Sam. 2:8-9).(top)
|2Sa 2:5||- (top)|
|2Sa 2:6||- (top)|
|2Sa 2:7||- (top)|
“Ish-bosheth.” This is the same person as Esh-baal, see commentary on 1 Chronicles 8:33.
“brought him over the Jordan to Mahanaim.” The location of Mahanaim is still debated, but it is agreed that it is east of the Jordan River and likely near the Jabbok River.(top)
“Gilead and over the Ashurites, and over Jezreel, and over Ephraim, and over Benjamin and over all Israel.” This list is an interesting blend of geographical areas and tribal areas, but it is meant to communicate “over all Israel” and perhaps even more up north.
Gilead was east of the Jordan and in this context meant the territory of the tribes of Reuben and Gad. The term “Ashurites” is disputed and could refer to the Geshurites, those living in a territory in north Transjordan. Jezreel is the area of the Jezreel Valley (although the Philistines certainly controlled it after Saul’s death), and Ephraim and Benjamin were the two tribes in Israel directly north of the tribe of Judah.(top)
|2Sa 2:10||- (top)|
“the length of time.” The Hebrew is idiomatic and is literally, “the number of days.”(top)
“the servants of Ish-bosheth,” In this context, “servants” refers to men in the army.
“went out.” In this context this phrase has a military connotation, such as “went out to battle.”(top)
|2Sa 2:13||- (top)|
“play.” The Hebrew word is sachaq (#07832 שָׂחַק), and it generally means “to laugh, play, mock” (older lexicons often have “make sport” when “sport” referred to laughing and playing). According to the HALOT Hebrew-English lexicon, when combined with “in our presence” it means to struggle or fight. This was a fight or to-the-death contest in front of others. Although it has been suggested that is was some kind of winner-take-all battle, the context argues against that because that limited fight led to the larger battle (2 Sam. 2:17). Many different suggestions have been made for how to translate sachaq in this context: “fight” (NET); “fight it out” (CJB, NJB); “fight hand-to-hand” (NIV, NLT); “compete” (HCSB, ESV); “perform” (NAB); “hold a contest” (NASB); “play” (JPS, KJV, RSV); “make sport” (DBY, Rotherham). It may be that sachaq was used as a way for Joab to speak of the fight in a mocking and minimizing fashion even though lives were at stake, which they were.(top)
|2Sa 2:15||- (top)|
“Helkath Hazzurim.” The meaning of this is uncertain, which is one reason why most versions leave it untranslated. Various suggestions have been made, such as “Field of sides” (NAB), “Field of flints” (NET), and “Field of sword edges” (Schocken Bible).(top)
|2Sa 2:17||- (top)|
“as light of foot as one of the wild gazelles.” Asahel was a fast, smooth runner who could run long distances. People like that were valuable in the ancient world, which had not telephone or other quick method of long-distance communication. They often became royal runners.(top)
|2Sa 2:19||- (top)|
|2Sa 2:20||- (top)|
“take his armor.” If one man killed another in battle, the victor could take the armor of the one he killed, and that was to his honor, showing his courage and ability in battle. Sadly, the young man Asahel greatly overestimated his ability. He was so brash and inexperienced that he followed too closely to Abner. Abner, a seasoned warrior and acquaintance of Joab, Asahel’s brother, did not want to kill Asahel and tried to get him to pick a fight with someone else that he might be able to beat. But when Abner could not dissuade Asahel from trying to kill him, because Asahel was so close, Abner was able to simply ram the back end of his spear through Asahel and kill him. The back of the spear was always pointed so it could be stuck in the ground and stay upright.
This is a sad record, because Asahel was likely a good person but inexperienced and overconfident; Abner did not want to kill him, and later Asahel’s brother Joab killed Abner.(top)
|2Sa 2:22||- (top)|
|2Sa 2:23||- (top)|
|2Sa 2:24||- (top)|
“the sons of Benjamin.” Abner was a Benjamite, so it makes sense that the men of Benjamin would form a group positioned to defend him. Tribal loyalty always runs very deep.(top)
“the end will be bitterness.” Hand-to-hand combat has always been a nasty business, and here we see how close the opposing armies were because Abner and Joab are so close they can speak to each other. Abner was right of course. Israelite killing Israelite would only end in bitterness.(top)
|2Sa 2:27||- (top)|
“shofar.” The ram’s horn trumpet, not the metal trumpet.(top)
|2Sa 2:29||- (top)|
“David’s servants.” David’s “servant” in this context are the men of his army.(top)
|2Sa 2:31||- (top)|
“Hebron.” The town of Hebron was 15 miles south of Bethlehem, so we can see why it took Joab and his army all night to get there. Hebron was David’s capital at this time in history, so Joab and likely a good part of David’s army lived there.
“went all night.” Soldiering has always been a physically demanding job. Here we see Joab and his army march all night to reach Hebron. But then, life is difficult and demands mental and physical toughness on the part of every human. The Devil is the god of this age and the whole world is under his influence, so of course life is difficult (2 Cor. 4:4; 1 John 5:19). It is easy to whine and complain about things, but that never changes the circumstances, it only makes the situation more difficult and intolerable. Mature people realize life is difficult and don’t whine about it, they just soldier on. The difficulty of this life should make our great Hope of paradise on earth shine even more brightly. [For more on the wonderful future earth, see Appendix 3, “Christ’s Future Kingdom on Earth”].(top)