2 Samuel Chapter 19


Joab Rebukes David

      • Joab was told, “The king is crying and mourning over Absalom.” As all of the people heard, “The king is grieving over his son,” that day’s victory was turned into mourning for them. So the people crept back into the city that day like people who are humiliated when they run away in battle. The king covered his face and cried aloud, “My son, Absalom! Absalom, my son, my son!”

        • Guzik writes, “David’s excessive sorrow made his loyal friends and supporter feel ashamed they won a great victory.”

      • Then Joab went to the king in his house and said, “You have humiliated all of your men today- those who, this very day, saved your life, your children’s lives, your wives’ lives, and your concubines’ lives. You love those who hate you and hate those who love you! You have made it clear today that the commanders and their men mean nothing to you. I realize today that it would be all right with you if Absalom were alive today and all the rest of us were dead. Now get up, go out, and speak some encouraging words to your men! I swear by Yahweh, if you don’t go out, not a single man will remain with you tonight. This disaster will be worse than any disaster that has come upon you from your youth right up until now.”

        • Guzik says, “This is a sharp truth delivered with precision. Joab wanted David not only to see that he was foolish in his excessive grief, but he was also selfish.”

        • ESV Study Bible notes, “The words for ‘love’ and ‘hate’ here can mean ‘be loyal’ and ‘be disloyal.’”

      • So the king got up and sat at the city gate. When the people were told, “Look, the king is sitting at the gate,” they all came before him.

        • NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible explains, “This action visibly signaled David’s resumption of his kingly duties, as gateways were frequently the place where official duties were performed…The nature of David’s duties in the present circumstances would have included encouragement of his victorious troops (v. 7) and perhaps the beginning of the process of reconciliation with those who had sided with Absalom (vv. 9-14).”

David Returns to Jerusalem

      • Meanwhile, all of Israel had fled to their own homes. Throughout all the tribes of Israel, all the people were arguing among themselves. They were saying, “The king saved us from our enemies, and he rescued us from the Philistines, but now he has fled from the land because of Absalom. But Absalom, whom we anointed as our king, has died in battle. So, why do you say nothing about bringing the king back?”

        • Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges explains, “But Israel had fled, Israel, that part of the nation which had followed Absalom, is contrasted with “the people,” i.e. David’s army. The sentence resumes the narrative from ch. 2 Samuel 18:17, and prepares the way for the account which follows.”

        • Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary provides this further clarification, “all the people were at strife throughout all the tribes of Israel—The kingdom was completely disorganized. The sentiments of three different parties are represented in 2Sa 19:9, 10: the royalists, the adherents of Absalom who had been very numerous, and those who were indifferent to the Davidic dynasty.”

      • King David sent a message to the priests, Zadok and Abiathar, saying, “Tell the elders of Judah: ‘Why should you be the last to bring the king back to his house when everything Israel is saying has come to the king’s attention? You are my brothers- my own flesh and blood. So why should you be the last to bring the king back?’ Tell Amasa: ‘Aren’t you my own flesh and blood? May God do so to me and more if you don’t become the commander of my army now instead of Joab.’”

        • Again, Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary explains, “In these circumstances the king was right in not hastening back, as a conqueror, to reascend his throne. A re-election was, in some measure, necessary. He remained for some time on the other side of Jordan, in expectation of being invited back. That invitation was given without, however, the concurrence of Judah. David, disappointed and vexed by his own tribe’s apparent lukewarmness, despatched the two high priests to rouse the Judahites to take a prominent interest in his cause. It was the act of a skilful politician. Hebron having been the seat of the rebellion, it was graceful on his part to encourage their return to allegiance and duty; it was an appeal to their honor not to be the last of the tribes. But this separate message, and the preference given to them, occasioned an outburst of jealousy among the other tribes that was nearly followed by fatal consequences [see 2Sa 19:40-43].”

        • Guzik says, “David would not force his reign on Israel. He would only come back if the tribes who rejected him for Absalom agreed to bring back the king.”

        • ESV Study Bible writes, “It seems shocking to demote the victorious loyal general Joab in favor of the soundly defeated rebel general Amasa (17:25). Perhaps David pointed out that Joab had disobeyed his specific order about Absalom (18:5). He probably could have added that, if Joab claimed it had been necessary to kill Absalom, he (David) was also doing what was necessary to reunite the nation.”

      • He won over the hearts of all the men of Judah, and they unanimously sent word to the king, “Come back, you and all your servants.” So the king returned. When he arrived at the Jordan River, Judah came to Gilgal to meet the king and to bring him across the Jordan.

        • ESV Archaeology Study Bible says, “Gilgal was an important religious center near Jericho and the Jordan River (Josh 4:19; 5:10; 1 Sam 10:18; 11:14; 13:12; 15:21), but its exact location is uncertain.”

      • Gera’s son, Shimei, the Benjaminite from Bahurim, came down quickly with the men of Judah to meet King David. With him were: 1,000 Benjaminite men; Ziba, the servant of Saul’s household; and Ziba’s 15 sons and 20 servants. They rushed to the Jordan ahead of the king, and crossed at the ford to take the king’s household across and to do whatever he desired.

      • When Gera’s son Shimei crossed the Jordan, he fell down before the king and said, “My lord the king, don’t hold me guilty, and don’t remember how your servant did wrong on the day my lord the king left Jerusalem. May the king not bear it in mind. I, your servant, know that I have sinned. But today, I have come as the first from all of the tribes of Joseph to come meet my lord the king.”

        • Shimei is from the tribe of Benjamin, so why does he say here that he is the first from all the tribes of Joseph to meet the king? The following two commentaries explain:

          • Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges, “The ten tribes of Israel as distinguished from Judah are thus named from Ephraim, the most powerful tribe among them (Genesis 48:5). Cp. Psalm 78:67-68; 1 Kings 11:28; Amos 5:6. Shimei the Benjamite claims to be the first representative of Israel to welcome the king.”

        • Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers, “Shimei was not strictly of ‘the house of Joseph,’ but of Benjamin; and it is plain that Joseph, as the name of the most prominent member, stands for all the tribes outside of Judah. This usage is well recognised at a later time (see 1Chronicles 5:1-2; Amos 5:15), and it has hence been argued that it indicates a late date for the composition of the book; but it is also found in Psalm 80:1-2; Psalm 81:5 (the date of which it would be rash to attempt to fix), in the reign of Solomon, 1Kings 11:28, and probably very early in Judges 1:35. There is no reason why the expression may not have been used at the earliest date when there began to be a certain separation and distinction between Judah and the other tribes, which was soon after the conquest of Canaan.”

      • Zeruiah’s son, Abishai, said, “He cursed Yahweh’s anointed one. Shouldn’t Shimei be put to death for this?” But David replied, “What does this have to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah, that you should be like an adversary to me today? Should anyone be put to death in Israel today? Don’t I know that today I am king over Israel?” The king said to Shimei, “You will not die.” The king swore him this oath.

        • ESV Study Bible says, “At the Jordan (see v. 15), David meets various people he had encountered during his flight from Jerusalem. The first of these is Shimei, who had cursed him as he fled (16:5-13). Now that the Lord has repaid David with good for his patience under Shimei’s cursing (16:12), Abishai thinks Shimei should be put to death as he deserves. But David wants this day to be a day of rejoicing, not retribution. However he apparently did not fully forgive Shimei (cf 1 Kings 2:8-9, 36-46).”

            • This oath of David assuring immunity to Shimei brings to mind his dying charge to Solomon concerning him (1Kings 2:8-9): ‘His hoar head bring thou down to the grave with blood.’ The whole transaction is to be viewed from a political point. Shimei had been guilty of high treason in David’s distress; at his return he had confessed his fault, and exerted himself to help on David’s restoration to the throne. He had accordingly been pardoned, and David, somewhat rashly, had confirmed this pardon with an oath, in such a way that he was unable to punish any subsequent treasonable tendencies showing themselves in Shimei. From the character of the man, however, and from Solomon’s address to him in 1Kings 2:44, it is plain that he remained thoroughly disloyal. David saw this, and hindered by his oath from treating him as he deserved, pointed out the case to Solomon. Solomon settled the matter by a compact (into which Shimei willingly entered), that his life should be forfeited whenever he should go out of Jerusalem. There he was under supervision; elsewhere he could not be trusted. After a few years he violated this condition, and was executed. David had made a rash oath, and observed it to the letter, but no farther, towards a thorough traitor.”

      • Saul’s grandson, Mephibosheth, also came down to meet the king. He had not taken care of his feet, trimmed his mustache, or washed his clothes from the day the king left until the day he returned safely.

      • When he came from Jerusalem to meet the king, the king asked him, “Mephibosheth, why didn’t you come with me?” He answered, “My lord the king, my servant Ziba betrayed me! Since I, your servant, am lame, I had told him, ‘Saddle the donkey for me so that I can ride it and go with the king.’ He has slandered me to my lord the king. But, my lord the king is like an angel of God, so do what seems right to you. After all, there was no one in my grandfather’s entire house who wasn’t doomed to death from my lord the king. But instead you gave me a place among those who eat at your table. What further right do I have to make any more appeals to the king?” The king answered him, “Why keep talking about the matter? I have decided that you and Ziba are to divide the land.” Mephibosheth said to the king, “Let Ziba take the whole thing since my lord the king has returned home in peace.”

        • ESV Study Bible says, “Mephibosheth tells David that Ziba was lying when he said Mephibosheth had chosen to stay in Jerusalem (16:3). The narrator does not directly state which one is telling the truth- after all, he may not have had direct information- but the sorrow evidence in 19:24 suggests that he believes Mephibosheth, and Mephibosheth’s gracious humility in v. 30 also supports this view. In a city facing invasion, when even the king’s household was grateful for two donkeys (16:1), it is not surprising that Mephibosheth, who was lame (19:26), was stuck when his own donkey was taken by Ziba. To Jerusalem implies that Mephibosheth ‘came down’ (v. 24) from his home and arrived in Jerusalem to meet the king, and that this event occurred later, after David had come to Jerusalem.”

        • Pulpit Commentary has this to say about David’s response, “Two views are taken of this decision – the one, that it was a complete reversal of the command in 2 Samuel 16:4, placing matters upon the old footing, by which Ziba was to have half the produce for cultivating the estate; the other, and apparently the most correct view, is that Ziba was now made actual owner of half the land, and Mephibosheth, instead of a half, would henceforth have only a quarter of the crops. The decision was not equitable, and David speaks in a curt and hurried manner, as though vexed with himself for what he was doing. As a matter of fact, Ziba’s treachery had been most useful to David. Besides the pleasure at the time of finding one man faithful, when ‘all men were liars’ (Psalm 116:11), Ziba had been most active in bringing over the tribe of Benjamin to David’s side; and though his motives were selfish and venal, yet, as the king reaped the benefit of his conduct, he was bound not to leave him without reward.”

      • Now Barzillai the Gileadite had come down from Rogelim. He accompanied the king to the Jordan so he could see him off from there. Barzillai was a very old man- 80 years old- and since he was a very wealthy man he had provided the king with food while he stayed at Mahanaim. The king said to Barzillai, “Cross over with me and I will take care of you while you’re with me in Jerusalem.”

      • Barzillai replied to the king, “I’m 80 years old now. How many more years do I have left to live that I should go up to Jerusalem with the king? Can I tell the difference between what is good and what is bad? Can your servant taste what he eats and drinks? Can I still hear the voices of singing men and women? Why should your servant be an additional burden to my lord the king? Your servant will cross the Jordan with the king and go a short distance. Why should the king repay me with such a reward? Let your servant go back so that I can die in my own city near the tomb of my mother and father. But look, here is your servant Kimham. Let him cross over with the king and do for him whatever seems good to you.”

        • ESV Study Bible remarks, “As he crossed the Jordan…David also met Barzillai, who had helped him in Mahanaim (v. 32; cf 17:27)… David wanted to repay Barzillai’s kindness, but Barzillai, who was eighty years old, preferred to return home…David never forgot Barzillai’s help (1 Kings 2:7).”

        • ESV Archaeology Study Bible notes, “Several Septuagint manuscripts identify Chimham [rendered ‘Kimham’ above] as Brazillai’s son.”

      • The king said, “Kimham will cross over with me and I will do for him whatever seems good to you, and anything you desire from me I will do for you.” So all the people crossed the Jordan and the king crossed also. The king kissed Barzillai and blessed him. Then Barzillai went back home. The king went on to Gilgal and Kimham went with him. Now all the men of Judah and half the men of Israel escorted the king over.

      • Then all the men of Israel came to the king and said, “Why did our brothers, the men of Judah, sneak the king away and bring him, his household, and all of his men across the Jordan?” All the men of Judah answered the men of Israel, “Because the king is our close relative! Why are you so angry about this? Have we eaten at the king’s expense? Has he given us any gift?” The men of Israel said to the men of Judah, “We have 10 shares in the king, so we have a greater claim on David than you do! Why then did you despise us? Weren’t we the first to speak of bringing him back to be our king?” But the words of the men of Judah were more harsh than the words of the men of Israel.

          • ESV Study Bible says, “Apparently David left Manahaim and came to the Jordan without allowing time for all the northern tribes to come and accompany him. They resent this, being the larger group and considering themselves more loyal to David (vv. 9-11) than Judah, which they accuse of ‘privatizing’ the king. The men of Judah retort that David did not favor his own tribe with grants (unlike Saul in 1 Sam 22:7). In making Jerusalem his capital and bringing the ark there, David seems to have made an effort to be an Israelite king, not a Judahite king in Israel. But he was not able to overcome the division. We, our, and us in 2 Sam 19:42-43 are singular- ‘I,’ ‘my,’ and ‘me’- in the Hebrew, suggesting the acrimony of the debate.”

        • NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible notes, “In the ancient Near East, those who were afforded the privilege of eating at the king’s table were expected to respond with loyalty to their royal benefactor…The Judahites’ protest to the northern tribes is that their loyalty to David has not been bought by privileges extended and enjoyed, but by kinship…”

        • HCSB adds, “Why did the Israelites speak of only ’10 shares’ in the king, since there were 12 tribes in all (13, counting Ephraim and Manasseh separately)? Warfare had torn Israel into two major factions, north and south. There are two ways to understand the number of tribes involved, both excluding Levi which had no territorial holdings of its own (see Dt 10:9; 18:1): (1) the north had 10 tribes, counting Ephraim and Manasseh, the Joseph tribes, as one; (2) the north had 10 tribes, counting Ephraim and Manasseh separately, if Benjamin was reckoned with Judah. Jerusalem, David’s capital, was located within the territory of Benjamin, and would remain the capital of the separate kingdom of Judah after the reign of Solomon.”

        • Guzik writes, “The ten northern tribes felt unappreciated by the tribe of Judah. This competitive attitude between Judah and the ten northern tribes set the stage for civil war in David’s day and the eventual division of the nation into two.”

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