|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
20:14-22 Justly is that place attacked, which dares to harbour a traitor; nor will the heart fare better which indulges rebellious lusts, that will not have Christ to reign over them. A discreet woman, by her prudent management, satisfied Joab, and yet saved the city. Wisdom is not confined to rank or sex; it consists not in deep knowledge; but in understanding how to act as matters arise, that troubles may be turned away and benefits secured. A great deal of mischief would be prevented, if contending parties would understand one another. Let both sides be undeceived. The single condition of peace is, the surrender of the traitor. It is so in God's dealing with the soul, when besieged by conviction and distress; sin is the traitor; the beloved lust is the rebel: part with that, cast away the transgression, and all shall be well. There is no peace on any other terms.
Verse 14. - And he went through, etc. It was not Joab, but Sheba, who, by David's prompt action, was compelled to make a rapid retreat, seeking help in vain from tribe after tribe, but rejected of all, and unable to make any defence until he had reached the extreme north of the land of Israel. Unto Abel, and to Beth-Maachah. The conjunction probably ought to be omitted, as the proper name of the place, is Abel-beth-Maachah, and it is so given in ver. 15 (see below), and in 1 Kings 15:20; 2 Kings 15:29. It is the place called Abel-Maim, the "water meadow," in 2 Chronicles 16:4 - an abel being a place where the grass grows rankly from the abundance of springs. It thus forms part of the name of various places, as Abel-Mizraim (Genesis 1:11), Abel-Meholah (1 Kings 4:12), etc. Abel-beth-Maachah was a fortress in the most northerly part of the tribe of Naphtali, and is identified with the modern village of Abel, a few miles above Lake Huleh, the ancient "Waters of Merom." And all the Berites. No place or people of this name can be found, but Jerome, when translating the Vulgate, had before him a different reading, which seems clearly right, "And all the chosen men of war were gathered together, and went after him."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And he went through all the tribes of Israel,.... That is, Sheba the son of Bichri, last mentioned, 2 Samuel 20:13, who passed through all the tribes of Israel to get as many to be of his party as he could, and to be proclaimed their king; or finding himself pursued, he passed on as fast as he could from place to place, through all the tribes, until at length he fixed for safety in a place later named; though Josephus (w) understands this of Joab pursuing Sheba through all the tribes of Israel with the forces under him; and to this sense the Syriac and Arabic versions, and so R. Isaiah interprets it; but the first sense is more generally received, that Sheba is meant, who passing through various tribes, came
unto Abel, and unto Bethmaachah; which were two places very near one another, if not one and the same place; since Abel is in 2 Samuel 20:15 called Abel of Bethmaachah, to distinguish it from any other place: it was a city that lay to the north of Israel near Syria; and from 2 Kings 15:29, it appears to be in the tribe of Naphtali. There was one city of this name of Abel, six miles from Philadelphia, another twelve miles from Gadara, and a third between Paneas and Damascus, which, of the three, Reland thinks (x), is most eligible to be the place here meant; though he rather chooses to look for it in Galilee, to the west or south of Paneas, than to the east or north in the way to Damascus; and so Adrichomius (y) calls it a city of upper Galilee, sixty furlongs or seven and an half miles from Jordan; and though he also places it in the tribe of Naphtali, in the plain of the country of Berim (from whence perhaps were the Berites next mentioned), not far from Caesarea Philippi; see 1 Kings 15:20,
and all the Berites; the inhabitants of Beeroth, in the tribe of Benjamin, of which tribe Sheba was, they followed him hither, as in the next clause:
and they were gathered together, and went also after him; unto Abel; of these, see Joshua 18:25; though perhaps these Berim or Berites were nearer to Abel; or rather that was in their country, as has been observed by Adrichomius.
(w) Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 7. c. 11. sect. 7.) (x) Palestina Illustrata, tom. 2. p. 519. (y) Theatrum Terrae S. p. 101.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
2Sa 20:14, 15. Joab Pursues Sheba unto Abel.
14. he went through all the tribes of Israel unto Abel—beating up for recruits. But there the prompt marches of Joab overtook and hemmed him in by a close siege of the place.
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