|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
4:1-7 See how Ishbosheth was murdered! When those difficulties dispirit us, which should sharpen our endeavours, we betray both our heavenly crowns and our earthly lives. Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty and ruin. The idle soul is an easy prey to the destroyer. We know not when and where death will meet us. When we lie down to sleep, we are not sure that we may not sleep the sleep of death before we awake; nor do we know from what hand the death-blow may come.
Verses 6, 7. - As though they would have fetched wheat. Not only is the narrative confused, but the versions offer extraordinary varieties of reading. The murder of Ishbosheth is fully described in ver. 7, and is there in its place, while it is out of place in ver. 6. And that the captains would themselves fetch wheat, instead of having it carried from the granary by their men; and that they would go through the king's chamber to obtain it; are both improbable. The very act of going to get wheat at midday, when everybody was having his siesta, would itself be suspicious. The Syriac says nothing about wheat, but that these "wicked men took and smote him." The Vulgate and LXX. lay the blame on the woman who kept the door, the narrative of the latter being as follows: "They entered into the house of Ishbosheth in the heat of the day, and he was asleep in his midday chamber And behold, the woman that kept the door of the house had been winnowing wheat, and she slumbered and slept. And the brothers Rechab and Baanah entered the house without being noticed, and Ishbosheth was asleep on his bed in his chamber, and they smote him," etc. There is, confessedly, considerable confusion in the text, but the versions do not altogether clear it up; and until we have better materials for forming a judgment, we must be content to wait. In ver. 5, instead of "who lay on a bed at noon," the Hebrew has "as he was taking his noonday rest." In ver. 7 the bed is the divan, or raised bank, which in an Oriental house runs along the wall, and is supplied with pieces of carpet, or cushions, on which to sit cross legged or recline. For sleep, the corners were the favourite places. Even the public rooms had these divans. But Ishbosheth had probably retired for his siesta into a private chamber, where the captains knew that he would be alone. The plain through which they fled was the Arabah, or Jordan valley, as in 2 Samuel 2:29.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And they came thither into the midst of the house,.... They not only came unto it, but entered into it, and went into the inmost part of it; the guards being asleep also perhaps, or not on duty, so that there were none to obstruct them; or if there were, they deceived them, since they went in
as though they would have fetched wheat; out of the king's granaries, for the payment and support of the soldiers under them, who in those days were paid in corn, as were the Roman soldiers (y) in later times; and these granaries might not only be in the king's house, but near his bedchamber; for in those ancient ages of simplicity there was not such grandeur in the courts of princes as now; the Targum is,"as sellers of wheat,''
in the guise and habit of such persons, pretending they came to sell wheat to the king's purveyors, who were at the granaries; or, as others interpret it, they went in along with the wheat merchants as if they belonged to them, and so found their way to the king's bedchamber:
and smote him under the fifth rib; See Gill on 2 Samuel 2:23,
and Rechab and Baanah his brother escaped; they got out of the palace after they had committed the murder undiscovered and unsuspected.
(y) Vid. Valtrinum de re militar. Roman. l. 3. c. 15. p. 236.
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