Moreover Ahithophel said unto Absalom, Let me now choose out twelve thousand men, and I will arise and pursue after David this night:
This night - The night of the day on which David fled, and Absalom entered into Jerusalem. Ahithophel's idea was to fall upon David by surprise, and in the first confusion of the surprised army to seize and kill David only.
And I will come upon him while he is weary and weak handed, and will make him afraid: and all the people that are with him shall flee; and I will smite the king only:
And I will bring back all the people unto thee: the man whom thou seekest is as if all returned: so all the people shall be in peace.
The man whom thou seekest - namely, David. Ahithophel means to say: "If I can only smite David, there will be no civil war, all the people will peaceably submit."
And the saying pleased Absalom well, and all the elders of Israel.
Then said Absalom, Call now Hushai the Archite also, and let us hear likewise what he saith.
And when Hushai was come to Absalom, Absalom spake unto him, saying, Ahithophel hath spoken after this manner: shall we do after his saying? if not; speak thou.
And Hushai said unto Absalom, The counsel that Ahithophel hath given is not good at this time.
At this time - Rather, "The counsel which Ahithophel has given this time is not good." He contrasts it with that given before 2 Samuel 16:21, which was good. This gave an appearance of candour to his conduct, and so gave weight to his dissent. Observe the working of David's prayer 2 Samuel 15:31.
For, said Hushai, thou knowest thy father and his men, that they be mighty men, and they be chafed in their minds, as a bear robbed of her whelps in the field: and thy father is a man of war, and will not lodge with the people.
Behold, he is hid now in some pit, or in some other place: and it will come to pass, when some of them be overthrown at the first, that whosoever heareth it will say, There is a slaughter among the people that follow Absalom.
Some pit, or in some other place - The Hebrew has "in one of the pits," or "in one of the places." Hence, "place" must have some defined meaning. It probably is used here, as elsewhere, for a "dwelling-house" or "village," which might in that district be fortified houses 2 Samuel 17:12; 1 Samuel 26:25.
Hushai's argument is that there was no chance of seizing David by surprise as Ahithophel suggested. There was sure to be sharp fighting, and the terror of the names of David, Joab, Abishai, Ittai, and their companions, would magnify the first few blows received into a victory, and Absalom's men would flee in panic. It is likely that Absalom was not a man of courage, and Hushai, knowing this, adroitly magnified the terror of the warlike prowess of David and his mighty men.
And he also that is valiant, whose heart is as the heart of a lion, shall utterly melt: for all Israel knoweth that thy father is a mighty man, and they which be with him are valiant men.
Therefore I counsel that all Israel be generally gathered unto thee, from Dan even to Beersheba, as the sand that is by the sea for multitude; and that thou go to battle in thine own person.
So shall we come upon him in some place where he shall be found, and we will light upon him as the dew falleth on the ground: and of him and of all the men that are with him there shall not be left so much as one.
As the dew - Like the drops of dew, in the vast number of our host, and in our irresistible and unavoidable descent upon our enemies.
Moreover, if he be gotten into a city, then shall all Israel bring ropes to that city, and we will draw it into the river, until there be not one small stone found there.
And Absalom and all the men of Israel said, The counsel of Hushai the Archite is better than the counsel of Ahithophel. For the LORD had appointed to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, to the intent that the LORD might bring evil upon Absalom.
Then said Hushai unto Zadok and to Abiathar the priests, Thus and thus did Ahithophel counsel Absalom and the elders of Israel; and thus and thus have I counselled.
Now therefore send quickly, and tell David, saying, Lodge not this night in the plains of the wilderness, but speedily pass over; lest the king be swallowed up, and all the people that are with him.
Hushai, like a wise and prudent man, knowing, too, Absalom's weak and fickle character, would not depend upon the resolution, taken at his instigation, not to pursue the king, but took instant measures to advertise David of his danger.
Now Jonathan and Ahimaaz stayed by Enrogel; for they might not be seen to come into the city: and a wench went and told them; and they went and told king David.
En-rogel - See the marginal reference.
A wench - Hebrew "the maid servant," namely, of the high priest, either Zadok or Abiathar, or possibly one employed in some service in the temple courts. (1 Samuel 2:22 note.)
And they went and told king David - As related afterward 2 Samuel 17:21. Here mentioned by anticipation.
Nevertheless a lad saw them, and told Absalom: but they went both of them away quickly, and came to a man's house in Bahurim, which had a well in his court; whither they went down.
Bahurim - See the marginal reference. They were not all Shimeis in Bahurim.
And the woman took and spread a covering over the well's mouth, and spread ground corn thereon; and the thing was not known.
A covering - Hebrew "the covering," perhaps "the hanging" or "awning" at the door of the house, as the word seems to mean when spoken of the tabernacle.
Ground corn - Or "peeled barley," which she spread out as if for the purpose of drying it in the sun.
And when Absalom's servants came to the woman to the house, they said, Where is Ahimaaz and Jonathan? And the woman said unto them, They be gone over the brook of water. And when they had sought and could not find them, they returned to Jerusalem.
As soon as ever she had hid the men she went into the house, as if busy about her usual occupations. Had Absalom's servants, who had had information from some of the people of Bahurim that the men had come to this house, found her in the court it might have directed their attention to the peeled barley.
Over the brook of water - Compare 2 Samuel 16:9 note. The word for "brook" ("Michal") occurs only here. One has been found in this very district, still so called. The woman showed great presence of mind and adroitness in not denying that they had been there.
And it came to pass, after they were departed, that they came up out of the well, and went and told king David, and said unto David, Arise, and pass quickly over the water: for thus hath Ahithophel counselled against you.
Then David arose, and all the people that were with him, and they passed over Jordan: by the morning light there lacked not one of them that was not gone over Jordan.
And when Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his ass, and arose, and gat him home to his house, to his city, and put his household in order, and hanged himself, and died, and was buried in the sepulchre of his father.
To his city - To Giloh (marginal reference). Ahithophel was probably influenced by deep mortification at the slight put upon him by rejecting his counsel. He is a memorable example of the impotence of worldly wisdom. Compare the marginal reference.
Then David came to Mahanaim. And Absalom passed over Jordan, he and all the men of Israel with him.
Mahanaim - See 2 Samuel 2:8. The same reasons which induced Abner to choose it for Ishbosheth probablv made it a good rallying point for David. It was a strong city, in a well-provisioned country, with a mountainous district for retreat in case of need, and with a warlike and friendly population.
And Absalom made Amasa captain of the host instead of Joab: which Amasa was a man's son, whose name was Ithra an Israelite, that went in to Abigail the daughter of Nahash, sister to Zeruiah Joab's mother.
Ithra an Israelite - Or "Jether the Ishmeelite" 1 Chronicles 2:17. "Ithra" and "Jether" are practically the same names. "Israelite" in the text is wrong. It should be either "Ishmaelite" or "Jezreelite" 2 Samuel 3:2.
Abigail the daughter of Nahash - If Zeruiah and Abigail were Jesse's daughters, the only probable way of reconciling our text with 1 Chronicles 2:16-17, is to suppose that Nahash was Jesse's wife. If Zeruiah and Abigail were only sisters of David by the mother, then Nahash might be the name of her first husband.
So Israel and Absalom pitched in the land of Gilead.
And it came to pass, when David was come to Mahanaim, that Shobi the son of Nahash of Rabbah of the children of Ammon, and Machir the son of Ammiel of Lodebar, and Barzillai the Gileadite of Rogelim,
Shobi's father may have been the king of the Ammonites, and Shobi appointed by David as tributary king or governor of Ammon after he took Rabbah 2 Samuel 12:29. On the other hand, Nahash may have been a common name among the Ammonites, and the Nahash of 2 Samuel 17:25 may have been of that nation.
On Machir, see the marginal reference.
Barzillai was ancestor, through a daughter, to a family of priests, who were called after him "sons of Barzillai," and who returned from captivity with Zerubbabel, but were not allowed to officiate as priests, or eat of the holy things, through defect of a proper register Ezra 2:61-63. It is likely that being wealthy they had neglected their priestly privileges, as a means of maintenance, before the captivity.
Rogelim was situated in the highlands of Gilead, but the exact situation is not known. It means "the fullers," being the plural of the word "Rogel," in "En-Rogel," 2 Samuel 17:17.
Brought beds, and basons, and earthen vessels, and wheat, and barley, and flour, and parched corn, and beans, and lentiles, and parched pulse,
And honey, and butter, and sheep, and cheese of kine, for David, and for the people that were with him, to eat: for they said, The people is hungry, and weary, and thirsty, in the wilderness.
Cheese of kine - Or, as others, "milch cows," which is more in accordance with the context, being coupled with "sheep," and is more or less borne out etymologically by the Arabic. God's care for David was evident in the kindness of these people.