1 Kings 2:28
Then tidings came to Joab: for Joab had turned after Adonijah, though he turned not after Absalom. And Joab fled to the tabernacle of the LORD, and caught hold on the horns of the altar.
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(28) Joab had turned.—It is strange that Joab should have been in no danger or anxiety immediately after the actual failure of the conspiracy; and it is also notable that, although the real motive for putting him to death was to punish his support of Adonijah, now renewed, yet Solomon’s words in pronouncing sentence on him refrain from mention of anything except the old crimes dwelt upon in the dying charge of David. Possibly this was done to bring Joab’s case within the emphatic declaration of the Law, that no sanctuary should protect the wilful and treacherous murderer, and that innocent blood, so shed and left unavenged, would pollute the land (Exodus 21:14; Numbers 35:33). It is significant, moreover, of the increased power of the monarchy, even in hands young and yet untried, that the old captain of the host, who had been “too hard” for David, even before David’s great sin, should now fall, as it would seem, without a single act of resistance or word of remonstrance on his behalf, after a long career of faithful service, only once tarnished by disloyalty. It has been noticed that if (as is probable) the “Tabernacle of the Lord” at Gibeon is meant, Joab falls close to the scene of his murder of Amasa, “at the great stone in Gibeon” (2Samuel 20:18).

1 Kings 2:28. Then tidings came to Joab — Concerning Adonijah’s death, and Abiathar’s deposition. And Joab fled unto the tabernacle of the Lord — This makes it appear that Joab had had a hand in the counsel mentioned 1 Kings 2:22, as Solomon suspected. And caught hold on the horns of the altar — It appears from this and some other instances, that it was now become a custom among the Israelites, though by no divine law, to flee to the altar of the Lord, as to an asylum; however, by Solomon’s treatment of Joab on this occasion, it appears, that this privilege was only allowed for some misdemeanours, and not for capital offences, especially murder. And Solomon (1 Kings 2:31) showed that the altar had better be stained with the blood of a murderer, than be polluted with his touch, in seeking an asylum from it, and thereby escaping the punishment which the divine laws required to be inflicted on him.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.Joab followed the example of Adonijab (margin reference). The tabernacle was now at Gibeon 1 Kings 3:4; 1 Chronicles 16:39. 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).

Tidings came to Joab, concerning Adonijah’s death, and Abiathar’s deposition.

The tabernacle of the Lord then was at Gibeon, 1 Kings 3:4, compared with 2 Chronicles 1:3,5. Caught hold on the horns of the altar; of which see before, 1 Kings 1:50. 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.

Then tidings came to Joab: for Joab had {n} turned after Adonijah, though he turned not after Absalom. And Joab fled unto the tabernacle of the LORD, and caught hold on the horns of the altar.

(n) He took Adonijah's part when he would have usurped the kingdom 1Ki 1:7.

28–35. Flight of Joab and his death. Benaiah succeeds him as captain of the host (Not in Chronicles)

28. Then tidings came to Joab] The Hebrew says ‘And the tidings came to Joab’, i.e. of Abiathar’s banishment, and he felt that his own turn was soon to come.

turned after] i.e. Took the side of. It was Joab, who being on David’s side, slew Absalom (2 Samuel 18:14). This crime, though never brought forward, no doubt instigated David to advise, and Solomon to provide that Joab should be taken out of the way. All the ancient versions except the Chaldee, have here ‘For Joab had turned after Adonijah, and had not turned after Solomon.’

the tabernacle of the Lord] The word here, as elsewhere, is the ordinary word for a tent, and if thus translated gives to the English reader a better notion of what the structure was.

horns of the altar] See above on 1 Kings 1:50. Joab fled for sanctuary to the same place and in the same fashion as Adonijah had done.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. To her request, "Let Abishag of Shunem be given to Adonijah thy brother for a wife" (את יתּן, cf. Ges. 143, 1, a.), which she regarded in her womanly simplicity as a very small one (קטנּה), he replied with indignation, detecting at once the intrigues of Adonijah: "And why dost thou ask Abishag of Shunem for Adonijah? ask for him the kingdom, for he is my elder brother; and indeed for him, and for Abiathar the priest, and for Joab the son of Zeruiah." The repetition of לו in ולו (1 Kings 2:22), for the purpose of linking on another clause, answers entirely to the emotional character of the words. "For him, and for Abiathar and Joab:" Solomon said this, because these two men of high rank had supported Adonijah's rebellion and wished to rule under his name. There is no ground for any such alterations of the text as Thenius proposes. - Although Abishag had been only David's nurse, in the eyes of the people she passed as his concubine; and among the Israelites, just as with the ancient Persians (Herod. iii. 68), taking possession of the harem of a deceased king was equivalent to an establishment of the claim to the throne (see at 2 Samuel 12:8 and 2 Samuel 3:7-8). According to 2 Samuel 16:21, this cannot have been unknown even to Bathsheba; but as Adonijah's wily words had disarmed all suspicion, she may not have thought of this, or may perhaps have thought that Abishag was not to be reckoned as one of David's concubines, because David had not known her (1 Kings 1:4).
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