|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
2:26-34 Solomon's words to Abiathar, and his silence, imply that some recent conspiracies had been entered into. Those that show kindness to God's people shall have it remembered to their advantage. For this reason Solomon spares Abiathar's life, but dismisses him from his offices. In case of such sins as the blood of beasts would atone for, the altar was a refuge, but not in Joab's case. Solomon looks upward to God as the Author of peace, and forward to eternity as the perfection of it. The Lord of peace himself gives us that peace which is everlasting.
Verse 28. - Then tidings [Heb. And the report, etc. Not necessarily of Abiathar's deposition, but certainly of Adonijah's death] came to Joab, for Joab had turned after [same expression as in Exodus 23:2; Judges 9:3] Adonijah, though [lit., and] he turned not after Absalom. [The LXX. (Cod. Vat.), Vulg., and all ancient versions except the Chald., here read Solomon, which Ewald and Thenius adopt. This reading is perhaps too summarily dismissed by most commentators, as involving a statement which would be self evident and superfluous. But it is not so. The meaning would then be that Joab had inclined to Adonijah, and had not, subsequently, gone over to the side of Solomon - information which is much less obvious than that he had not "gone after Absalom." The Arabic version may thus be nearest the truth, which reads, "Neither did he love Solomon." Somewhat similarly Josephus.] And Joab fled unto the tabernacle of the Lord, and caught hold of the horns of the altar. [As Adonijah had done before him (1 Kings 1:50). His flight is almost certain evidence of his guilt. ("Joab vero seipsum prodidit." Munster.) Why should he flee, if conscious of innocence? Solomon had acted generously before, and Joab would not be aware of David's dying instructions. His two assassinations had remained so long unpunished that he would hardly expect to be called to an account for them now. We have here, therefore, another indication of a second conspiracy, and it is an old belief (Theodorot, al.) that Joab had suggested to Adonijah the plan of marriage with Abishag. Some have asked why Joab should flee to the altar when his crimes deprived him of the right of the sanctuary. But a drowning man grasps at a straw. It is probable that he never thought of his murders, but only of his treason. According to the Rabbis, death at the altar ensured him burial amongst his fathers (Munster). But, if this were so, it would hardly enter into his calculations.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Then tidings came to Joab,.... Of the death of Adonijah, and the deposition of Abiathar:
for Joab had turned after Adonijah; publicly appeared at his feast, when he was saluted king by him, and others, and privately gave him advice in the affair of Abishag:
though he turned not after Absalom; did not join with him in his rebellion, but faithfully adhered to David; and yet both in his lifetime, and after his death, acted the traitorous part in favour of Adonijah: Ben Gersom gives these words a different sense, as if he was blameworthy in both cases; that he turned after Adonijah to make him king, without consulting David, and having his consent; and he did not turn after Absalom, to deliver him from death, as David commanded him; but the former sense is best:
and Joab fled unto the tabernacle of the Lord; which was at Gibeon, see 2 Chronicles 1:3; it was four miles from Jerusalem to the north, situated on an hill (e); according to Josephus (f), it was forty furlongs, or five miles, from it; though Kimchi thinks it was the altar in Jerusalem he fled to, which was before the ark, in the tent David made for it; but that is never called the tabernacle of the Lord, only that of Moses: Joab's fleeing hither showed guilt, and that he was in the conspiracy of Adonijah, and was conscious he deserved to die, and now expected it, since Adonijah was put to death; while he remained reprieved or pardoned, he thought himself safe, but now in danger, and therefore fled for it:
and caught hold of the horns of the altar; See Gill on 1 Kings 1:50.
(e) Bunting's Travels, &c. p. 98. (f) Antiqu. l. 7. c. 11. sect. 7.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
1Ki 2:28-45. Joab Slain.
28. Then tidings came to Joab—The execution of these sentences respectively on Adonijah and Abiathar prepared Joab for his fate. Death, due to his great crimes (Nu 35:33), would long ago have been inflicted, had not his power and popularity with the army been too formidable for the old king. He now fled to the altar, which, though a recognized asylum, afforded no sanctuary to the rebel and murderer (Ex 21:14). And, as he refused to leave it, he seems to have cherished some faint hope that a religious scruple would have been felt at the thought of violating the sanctity of the place by bloodshed. Benaiah, not liking to assume any responsibility, referred the matter to Solomon, who determined that the law should take its course (De 19:13).
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