|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
20:4-13 Joab barbarously murdered Amasa. The more plot there is in a sin, the worse it is. Joab contentedly sacrificed the interest both of the king and the kingdom to his personal revenge. But one would wonder with what face a murderer could pursue a traitor; and how, under such a load of guilt, he had courage to enter upon danger: his conscience was seared.
Verse 8. - The great stone which is in Gibeon. Gibeon is situated in the mountains of Ephraim, in the tribe of Benjamin, northwest of Jerusalem. The great stone was probably some isolated rock well known in the neighbourhood. Amasa went before them; Hebrew, Amasa came before them; that is, came in view with the levy of men he had raised in Judah. And Joab's garment, etc.; more correctly, and Joab was girded with his military coat as his garment, and over it was the strap of his sword in its sheath, and it (masculine, equivalent to "the sheath") came out, and it (feminine, equivalent to "the sword") fell. This change of gender is very harsh, and has caused the Authorized Version to apply the masculine verb to Joab, and translate, and as he went forth it fell; but a very slight change, supported by the Septuagint, gives us a more satisfactory sense, namely, and it (the sword) came out and fell. It is generally assumed that all this was arranged beforehand on Joab's part, who had so placed his sword that he could shake it out of the sheath. More probably it was an accident, of which he took instant advantage. He had felt that his position was insecure, and that if David had the support of Amasa, and a powerful band of the men of Judah at Jerusalem, he would probably order his execution for slaying Absalom; and Amasa would carry out the command willingly enough, as he thereby would secure the high position offered him. We know David's feelings towards Joab from his dying command to Solomon (1 Kings 2:5), and probably he had given various indications of his deep seated resentment. Joab, therefore, determined to stop Amasa's growth in power, and also to give David a rough lesson. And this accident gave him an early opportunity, which he used with ruthless energy.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
When they were at the great stone which is in Gibeon,.... Which, according to Josephus (r), was forty furlongs, or five miles from Jerusalem: what this great stone was, whether an obelisk, or what, is not certain; one of the greatest stones we read of was that which Semiramis cut out of the mountains of Armenia, which was an hundred thirty feet long, and twenty five broad and thick (s). This place was appointed for the rendezvous of David's forces, and hither Amasa came with what he had assembled together, and joined them, and took the command of them: for it follows:
Amasa went before them; as the general of them:
and Joab's garment that he had put on was girded unto him; who went along with his brother Abishai at the head of his own men, to which he was obliged by virtue of his commission; or went of himself to serve the common cause, and perhaps chiefly with a design to murder Amasa, whom he envied, because he was put into his post as general, and therefore accoutred himself for it; he put on, not a coat of mail, but a common garment which he girt about him, that it might be no incumbrance to him or hinderance of him, in doing what he intended, but that he might more expeditiously execute it:
and upon it a girdle with a sword fastened upon his loins in the sheath thereof; the sword in the belt was not on his thigh, but on his loins, on the outside of his clothes, and was put into a sheath too large, and placed in such a position, that with the least motion, when he pleased, it would easily drop out of it, without drawing it, and so give no suspicion of his design:
and as he went forth; to meet Amasa, just as he came to him:
it fell out; the sword fell out of the sheath to the ground.
(r) Antiqu. l. 7. c. 11. sect. 7. (s) Diodor. Sic. l. 2. p. 100. Vid. ib. p. 53. Herodot. Euterpe, c. 111.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
8. Amasa went before them—Having collected some forces, he by a rapid march overtook the expedition at Gibeon, and assumed the place of commander; in which capacity, he was saluted, among others, by Joab.
Joab's garment, that he had put on was girded unto him—in the fashion of travellers and soldiers.
a sword … and as he went forth it fell out—that is, out of the scabbard. According to Josephus, he let it drop on purpose as he was accosting Amasa, that stooping, as it were accidentally, to pick it up, he might salute the new general with the naked sword in his hand, without exciting any suspicion of his design.
He went forth—in a ceremonious manner to meet Amasa, now commander-in-chief, in order to seem to render to that officer, whom he considered as usurping his post, a conspicuous honor and homage.
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