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Go to Bible: 2 Samuel 14
|2Sa 14:1||- (top)|
|2Sa 14:2||- (top)|
|2Sa 14:3||- (top)|
|2Sa 14:4||- (top)|
“What is your trouble.” The Hebrew is an idiom: more literally, “What to you?”(top)
|2Sa 14:6||- (top)|
“and so we will destroy the heir also.” The Syriac targum says “they will destroy” instead of “we will destroy,” and some English versions adopt that reading (cp. CJB; ESV; RSV). But there is no need to amend the Hebrew text. The woman wants to make her pretend-case to protect her son as strong as possible, so she includes that the avengers of blood knew that her only remaining son was the family’s only heir, which adds the possibility of greed to distant family members wanting the man killed, because then they could take the family land. She was hoping that added information would help get David’s support for her cause.
“so that we may kill him for the life of his brother whom he killed.” The ancient world had no police force, so it fell on the family of a person who was killed to find and kill the killer. The person who found the killer and killed him was called “the avenger of blood.” [For more on the avenger of blood, see commentary on Num. 35:19].(top)
|2Sa 14:8||- (top)|
|2Sa 14:9||- (top)|
|2Sa 14:10||- (top)|
“avenger of blood.” A member of one’s family or clan that would kill anyone who killed someone in the family (see commentary on Num. 35:19).
“not one hair of your son will fall to the earth.” In its historical context, this is ironic. David says of this make-believe person that not one hair of his head would fall to the earth when the real story and ruse was about Absalom, who had beautiful, abundant hair (2 Sam. 14:25-26), which got stuck in a tree and who died without a hair touching the earth (2 Sam. 18:9-17).(top)
|2Sa 14:12||- (top)|
“the king is as one who is guilty, in that the king does not bring home again his banished one.” The woman says that by making the judgment he made, David made himself to be guilty, because he did not bring Absalom home. But that David was convinced by this woman’s argument once again shows his blindness toward his own sons and his misplaced love for them. The case the woman brought to the king and what happened between Absalom and Amon are totally different. According to the woman, her two sons got in a fight in a field and one killed the other in the fight. She never said the fight started as a plot on the part of one son to kill the other, so the killing could well have been unintended, especially at the start of the fight, in which case the law of manslaughter, not murder would apply (Exod. 21:12-13). David apparently never bothered to ask the situation. In any case, what Absalom did to Amnon was clearly premeditated murder. Furthermore, beyond that, in the woman’s story she had no other sons to carry on her heritage, and that was part of her argument that her son not be executed for killing his brother. But David’s situation was different. David had many sons, and if Absalom had been executed for the premeditated murder of Amnon, which according to the Law of Moses, he should have been, David would have still had sons to carry on his heritage and take over his throne when he died. David’s lack of justice toward Absalom nearly cost him his life and kingdom, because once Absalom’s murder was ignored and he was allowed back into the palace, he rebelled against David and tried to kill him and take the kingdom (2 Sam. 15).(top)
“die, yes, die.” This is the figure of speech polyptoton, which in this case repeats the same word twice but with different aspects: tense, gender, number, etc. Although it could be translated as “surely die,” or something similar, the repetition of “die” catches our attention and brings emphasis to the text. This is the same phrase as God used in Genesis 2:17, except the verb is singular in Genesis because God was speaking directly to Adam, whereas here it is plural. [For more on the figure of speech polyptoton and the way it is translated, see commentary on Gen. 2:16, “eat, yes, eat”].
“plans plans.” The Hebrew uses a noun and a verb for emphasis. While most version ignore the fact, Young’s Literal Translation has, “hath devised devices.”(top)
“servant...slavegirl.” The Hebrew uses two different word for “servant” here that are difficult to represent in English, because generally both are used of slaves or servants. The first is shiphchah (#08198 שִׁפְחָה), which refers to a slave or servant, and the second is amah (#0519 אָמָה), which refers to a woman who is not free in one sense or another, generally a female slave, but perhaps, for example, a concubine. Usually the difference between them is so subtle that they are both brought into English as “slave” or “servant” depending on the context. Also, women would sometimes use these terms as an act of self-abasement to portray a humble attitude (cp. 2 Sam. 20:17).
However, the fact the woman of Tekoa uses them both here in the same sentence suggests that she is deliberately playing them off against one another. Although it may be the case that the sentence composition is just for style, as some scholars suggest, the NET text note is more likely correct in suggesting that a lord might have some level of obligation to the amah servant. This would explain why the woman used amah in the context of the king acting on her request. In the latter chapters of 2 Samuel, amah only occurs in 2 Sam. 14:15, 16; 20:17).(top)
“the inheritance of God.” That is, the land that her family inherited when the land was divided by lot (Josh. 14-19, esp. Josh. 14:1-2). Thus, the land her family got was recognized as the family’s inheritance from God. If a family died out without anyone to inherit its allotment, then the land went back to other members of the tribe.(top)
“good and bad.” The woman was almost certainly using “good and bad” to indicate the whole spectrum of life, “good and bad and everything in between.” Technically, that is the figure of speech polarmerismos.(top)
|2Sa 14:18||- (top)|
“Is the hand of Joab with you.” That David immediately suspects Joab in this plot shows us that there is significant backstory that is not in the Bible. David and Joab were close, and Joab certainly must have on occasion shown his desire for the royal family to be united. That would explain why David only asked about Joab and no one else; after all, Absalom had a number of friends and followers who must have wanted Absalom back, why suspect just Joab? He must have let David know he wanted Absalom back.
On her part, the woman would not have had much knowledge of the backstory. She had to be a woman David did not know or he would have known her tale of two sons was a lie. This explains why when David immediately suspected Joab, she said David had wisdom like an angel of God (2 Sam. 14:20), basically saying that because of his close relationship with God, David had access to secret knowledge such as the angels have.(top)
“to change the face of the situation.” This phraseology is more literal although more obscure in meaning. But the phrase is obscure. Some scholars suggest the idea is, “the appearance of the situation,” but others say, the “course” or “direction” of the situation. Both ideas are likely correct, and although the idea of changing the course of things was clearly Joab’s intent, the appearance of the situation needed to be changed too so that people would easily accept that King David changed his mind. No doubt there were many “offstage discussions” about King David’s decision that occurred throughout the kingdom that are not recorded in Scripture.(top)
|2Sa 14:21||- (top)|
|2Sa 14:22||- (top)|
|2Sa 14:23||- (top)|
|2Sa 14:24||- (top)|
|2Sa 14:25||- (top)|
“200 shekels.” Although scholars differ about the weight, most agree it is about 5 pounds. This seems like an exaggeration, thus the addition of “according to the king’s weight,” which speaks to the accuracy of the weight.
“according to the king’s weight.” God wanted fair business dealings in buying and selling (Lev. 19:35; Deut. 25:13-16), and this required that weights and measures be standardized. It was the job of the Levites to maintain accurate weights and measures throughout the Israelite kingdom, but due to weights and measures being hand-produced and affected by use, accurate measures were hard to maintain throughout the kingdom. But the “king’s weight” would be accurate, and the phrase was added to assure people that the weight of Absalom’s hair was not an exaggeration.
That addition of the information about Absalom’s hair is important because it adds to credibility that Absalom could get caught in a tree by his hair when fighting David (2 Sam. 18:9).(top)
“three sons.” They apparently all died young (see commentary on 1 Sam. 18:18).
“Tamar.” A name in David’s family with a long history (see commentary on 2 Samuel 13:1). It is most likely that Tamar was also called “Maacah” (1 Kings 15:2; 2 Chron. 11:20), and she married Rehoboam the son of Solomon and gave birth to Abijah, the second king of the southern kingdom of Judah (2 Chron. 11:20-22). It would not have been uncommon for someone in the royal family to have a second name, and especially so since her living aunt was also named Tamar. The Septuagint translators thought so, and added this to the Hebrew text: “And she became a wife to Rehoboam the son of Solomon and to him she gave birth to him Abia [Abijah].” Thus Absalom, who so badly wanted to be king, never was, but his grandson became king of Judah (see commentary on 1 Kings 15:10).
It has been suggested, but it is much less likely, that the Maacah that Rehoboam married was the daughter of a different Absalom, but there is no other Absalom in the Bible and no reason another would be introduced into the narrative at this point without some kind of clarification.
“a woman who was beautiful in appearance.” Abraham used the same phrase when speaking of his wife Sarah (Gen. 12:11). Absalom’s sister Tamar was beautiful (2 Sam. 13:1), and his daughter, whom he named Tamar, was also beautiful. David himself was handsome (1 Sam. 16:12), and since royal wives were usually beautiful (cp. Esther 2:2-4), it makes sense that the women in royal families were usually beautiful.(top)
|2Sa 14:28||- (top)|
“he would not come.” That is, Joab would not come to see Absalom, which is surprising since it was Joab who wanted Absalom back in Jerusalem. He no doubt knew what Absalom wanted, and perhaps did not want to get involved.(top)
|2Sa 14:30||- (top)|
|2Sa 14:31||- (top)|
“and if there is iniquity in me, let him put me to death.” This can also be understood as, “If there is any guilt in me,” because the Hebrew word translated “iniquity” is avon (#05771 עָוֹן), and it can mean iniquity, perversity, depravity, or guilt, or it can refer to the consequence or punishment for iniquity. Although it does mean “guilt” in this context, it also includes the wider meaning of iniquity.
Absalom was so blind to his sin and avarice that he did not think he had any guilt or iniquity, even though he murdered his brother and in a few short verses would attempt to dethrone his father David and thus likely have to kill him. It is because many criminals are like Absalom that righteous people have to be hard on crime. It is naïve to think that criminals will see their own faults, feel badly, and correct them. A few do, but most do not and just continue from crime to crime until stopped by outside force. Being soft on crime only allows criminals to hurt more and more innocent people. When Christ is king on earth, he will not be soft on crime and ungodliness, he will rule with a rod of iron (Ps. 2:9; Rev. 2:27; 12:5; 19:15).
Absalom was not serious when he said what he did about being put to death. Not only was he blind to his own sin, he knew that his father had done nothing to him for murdering Amnon, and had even brought him back from Geshur to Jerusalem. He was confident (overconfident, but correct!) that David would not do anything to him now. On their parts, David and Joab were both naïve, and Joab himself ended up having to kill Absalom to save David’s throne (2 Sam. 18:14-15).(top)
“and the king kissed Absalom.” A sign of forgiveness and acceptance.(top)