1 Kings 2:5
Moreover you know also what Joab the son of Zeruiah did to me, and what he did to the two captains of the hosts of Israel, to Abner the son of Ner, and to Amasa the son of Jether, whom he slew, and shed the blood of war in peace, and put the blood of war on his girdle that was about his loins, and in his shoes that were on his feet.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(5) What Joab . . . did.—The charge as to Joab has a certain righteousness in it. David could not—probably since Joab’s knowledge of his great crime, he dared not—punish him as he deserved. There is a graphic vividness in the description of the blood of his victims, shed as “the blood of war in peace,” spirting over the girdle and sandals of the murderer, which shows how the horror of the crimes had dwelt on David’s imagination. The murder of Abner, treacherous as it was, probably had some show of justification in the rough justice wrought out by the duty laid in ancient law on the “avenger of blood.” David disclaims it (2Samuel 3:28-29; 2Samuel 3:37-39), without actually condemning it as inexcusable. The more recent and shameful murder of Amasa was simply one of revenge and ambition, because Amasa had been put in Joab’s place; yet David, broken in spirit, does not dare to blame it, and quietly acquiesces in the resumption by Joab of the dignity conferred on the murdered man. That these crimes should be punished by a king whose hands were clean, and who owed Joab nothing. was perhaps just, certainly within the letter of the law; though clemency might have spared the old and now fallen warrior, who had at least served David ably with long and faithful service. It is singularly true to nature, that the old King makes no mention of the act for which nevertheless, in all probability, he most bore grudge against Joab—the reckless slaughter of Absalom against his own express commands and entreaties—and does not deign to allude to his recent treason, which probably had already embittered Solomon against him.

1 Kings 2:5. Moreover, thou knowest, &c. — After David had given Solomon this general charge, he proceeded to direct him to do some particular acts of justice and kindness, and first of all, bids him remember how Joab had acted. We must not look upon this admonition of David, on his death-bed, as proceeding from a spirit of private revenge, but as advising the execution of a public piece of justice which the circumstances of things would not permit him to inflict before. Certainly the punishment of Joab was owing both to God and man, for his treacherous and cruel murder of Abner and Amasa; and, therefore, David here, in justice to his people, and the divine laws, ordered his son and successor to do that, when his throne was fully established, which he could not execute himself for want of sufficient power, Joab’s interest being then so great, that it might have thrown the state into a fresh civil war, had any steps been taken to inflict punishment upon him. What Joab the son of Zeruiah did to me — That is, against me. For Joab’s murder of Abner and Amasa was a great injury to David, as it was a breach of his laws and peace, a contempt of his person and government, a pernicious example to his subjects, and a great scandal to him, giving people reason to suspect that Joab had been only David’s instrument, to effect what he secretly designed. And shed the blood of war in peace — He slew them as if they had been in the state of war, when there was not only a cessation of arms, but also a treaty of peace. And put the blood of war upon his girdle — This is added to denote his impenitence, that although by his perfidious manner of killing them, when he pretended to embrace them, he stained his own garments with their blood, yet he was not ashamed of it, but gloried in it, and marched boldly along with the army, with the same girdle and shoes which were sprinkled with their blood.2:5-11 These dying counsels concerning Joab and Shimei, did not come from personal anger, but for the security of Solomon's throne, which was the murders he had committed, but would readily repeat them to carry any purpose; though long reprieved, he shall be reckoned with at last. Time does not wear out the guilt of any sin, particularly of murder. Concerning Shimei, Hold him not guiltless; do not think him any true friend to thee, or thy government, or fit to be trusted; he has no less malice now than he had then. David's dying sentiments are recorded, as delivered under the influence of the Holy Ghost,In his directions with respect to certain important persons, David, anxious for the security of his young successor's kingdom, allows old animosities to revive, and is willing to avenge himself indirectly and by deputy, though he had been withheld by certain scruples from taking vengeance in his own person. We must not expect Gospel morality from the saints of the Old Testament. They were only the best men of their several ages and nations. The maxim of "them of old time," whether Jews or Gentiles, was "Love your friends and hate your enemies" (see Matthew 5:43); and David perhaps was not in this respect in advance of his age. Joab's chief offence against David, besides his two murders, was no doubt his killing Absalom 2 Samuel 18:14. Another serious crime was his support of the treasonable attempt of Adonijah 1 Kings 1:7. But besides these flagrant misdemeanours, he seems to have offended David by a number of little acts. He was a constant thorn in his side. He treated him with scant respect, taking important steps without his orders 2 Samuel 3:26, remonstrating with him roughly and rudely 2 Samuel 2:24-25, almost betraying his secrets 2 Samuel 11:19-21, and, where he disliked the orders given him, disobeying them 1 Chronicles 21:6. David allowed his ascendancy, but he chafed against it, finding this "son of Zeruiah," in particular "too hard" for him (margin reference).

Put the blood of war upon his girdle ... - Meaning "The blood of Amasa spirited all over the girdle to which the sword of Joab was attached; and the sandals on his feet were reddened with the stains left by the falling corpse."

5, 6. thou knowest also what Joab … did—The insolent and imperious conduct of that general had not only been deeply offensive to the feelings (2Sa 18:5-15; 19:5-7), but calculated to bring reproach on the character, to injure the prospects, and endanger the throne of David. Passing over the injuries committed directly against himself, David dwelt with strong feelings on the base assassination of Abner and Amasa.

shed the blood of war in peace, &c.—The obvious meaning is, that in peace he acted towards them as if they had been in a state of warfare; but perhaps these graphic expressions might be designed to impress Solomon's mind more strongly with a sense of the malice, treachery, and cruelty by which those murders were characterized.

Did to me, i.e. against me; either, first, Directly and immediately; how insolently and imperiously he hath carried himself towards me from time to time, trampling upon my authority and commands when they thwarted his humour or interest, provoking my spirit by his words and actions. See 2 Samuel 3:39 19:7. Or, secondly, Indirectly, in what he did against Abner and Amasa; whose death was a great injury to David, as it was a breach of his laws and peace; a contempt of his person and government; a pernicious example to others of his subjects upon the like occasions; a great scandal and dishonour to him, as if Joab had been only David’s instrument, to effect what he secretly desired and designed; whereby the hearts of his people either were or might have been alienated from him, and inflamed against him, and the wounds which were well nigh healed might have been widened again, and made to bleed afresh.

And what he did, or, even; the following branches being added as an explication of the foregoing, to show what and how he acted towards or against David. Or, and particularly; as his other miscarriages, so these especially.

Shed the blood of war in peace; he slew them as if they had been in the state and act of war, when there was not only a cessation of arms, but also a treaty and agreement of peace, of which also they were the great procurers and promoters.

Upon his girdle that was about his loins, and in his shoes that were on his feet: this is added to note his impudence and impenitency, that although by his perfidious manner of killing them, when he pretended to embrace them, he stained his own garments with their blood, yet he was not ashamed of it, but gloried in it, and marched boldly along with the army with the same girdle and shoes which were sprinkled with their blood. See 2 Samuel 20:10. Moreover thou knowest also what Joab the son of Zeruiah did unto me,.... In slaying Absalom, contrary to his orders, and in behaving insolently towards him on account of his mourning for him, and at other times; but as these things might not be personally known to Solomon, only by hearsay, this may respect his disloyalty towards him, in joining with Adonijah, who set himself up for king in his lifetime, and without his knowledge and consent; or it may respect the instances next mentioned, in which he did injury to the interest, honour, and character of David:

and, or "even",

what he did to the two captains of the host of Israel, unto Abner the son of Ner, and unto Amasa the son of Jether, whom he slew; to Abner who was under Ishbosheth, and Amasa under David, who had not only the promise of the post, but was actually in it when Joab slew him; and indeed out of envy to him for it:

and shed the blood of war in peace; when they were at peace with him, as if they had been in open war; and even under a pretence of friendship to them, asking of their peace and welfare, as if he meant nothing less than to behave peaceably towards them; hence the Targum is,

"whom he slew in craftiness:''

and put the blood of war upon the girdle that was about his loins,

and in his shoes that were in his feet; which particularly respects the affair of Amasa, whose blood he shed with his sword, that dropped out of its scabbard, girded upon his loins, and into which he put it again, all over bloody, and wore it girded upon his loins; and which he also stooped for when it fell, as if he was going to unloose or buckle his shoes, and into which the blood ran down when he stabbed him; and after this barbarous action marched on without any shame or remorse, with his bloody sword on his loins, and the blood of the murdered in his shoes.

Moreover thou knowest also what Joab the son of Zeruiah did to me, and what he did to the two captains of the hosts of Israel, unto Abner the son of Ner, and unto Amasa the son of Jether, whom he slew, and {d} shed the blood of war in peace, and {e} put the blood of war upon his girdle that was about his loins, and in his shoes that were on his feet.

(d) He shed his blood in time of peace, as if there had been war.

(e) He put the bloody sword into his sheath.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
5. what Joab the son of Zeruiah did to me] This one of the sons of Zeruiah had been all through his reign too strong for his uncle. See 2 Samuel 3:39 : and for the rough remonstrances of Joab with David, cf. 2 Samuel 19:5-7. The slaughter of Absalom, though neither mentioned here by David, nor afterwards by Solomon, when Joab is put to death, must have been constantly present to their minds.

unto Abner the son of Ner] Ner being brother of Kish (1 Chronicles 9:36), the father of Saul, we can understand how Abner became a man of much importance in the court of Saul, under whom he was commander-in-chief. After the death of Saul it was Abner who proclaimed Ishbosheth and supported him against David, until some quarrel arising Abner made overtures to David which were favourably received. During the earlier events of the war between Ishbosheth’s supporters and those of David, Abner to save his own life had slain Asahel, Joab’s younger brother. To avenge this death and probably also from jealousy, lest Abner coming into David’s service should become more influential than himself, Joab calling Abner aside as he was departing from the court, in conjunction with Abishai his brother treacherously slew him. Owing to Abner’s early course of action David might have been suspected of conniving at his murder. The exposure to such a suspicion no doubt aggravated the king’s sorrow. David’s lament over Abner’s death is found 2 Samuel 3:33-34. He never forgave the murder, though he was unable during his lifetime to take vengeance on the perpetrator.

unto Amasa the son of Jether] Amasa was a son of David’s sister Abigail, and the name of her husband is elsewhere (2 Samuel 17:25) written ‘Ithra.’ Amasa took the side of Absalom when that prince rebelled against his father, but David forgave this, when Absalom had been slain by Joab, and appointed Amasa commander-in-chief in Joab’s place (2 Samuel 19:13). Afterwards, under the pretence of saluting Amasa, Joab gave him a fatal wound with a sword which he held hidden in his left hand (2 Samuel 20:10).

the blood of war in peace] For both these murders were committed when the opportunity had been gained under the guise of friendship.

his girdle … his shoes] Both these portions of his dress must have been covered with the blood spurting and flowing from wounds inflicted at such close quarters.Verse 5. - "Moreover, thou knowest also what Joab, the son of Zeruiah [there is no "emphasis on these words: he who was mine own sister's son," as Wordsworth, see on 1:113, did to me and [this last word has no place in the original, and should be left out, as it is misleading. It makes David demand the death of Joab partly because of the private injuries he had suffered at his hands, and partly because of his two brutal murders mentioned presently. But this is just what David did not do; for he is careful to exclude all mention of his private wrongs. It is true, he says, "what Job did to me," but that is because "the sovereign is smitten in the subject" (Bp. Hall), and because the first of these murders had caused David to be suspected of complicity, while each had deprived him of an able officer. And the words that follow] what he did to the two captains of the hosts of Israel [these words are clearly explicative of the "what he did to me." Only thus can we explain the absence of the "and"] unto Abner the son of Jether [2 Samuel 3:27. This was one of those foul murders to which the law expressly denied any right of sanctuary, for it was "with guile" (Exodus 21:14). Joab "took Abner aside in the gate to speak with him peaceably, and smote him there in the abdomen"], and unto Amasa the son of Jether [or Ithra. In 2 Samuel 27:24, Ithra is called "an Israelite," an obvious mistake for "Ishmaelite," as indeed it stands in 1 Chronicles 2:17. Amasa's mother, Abigail, was sister of David and Zeruiah; Amasa, consequently, was Joab's first cousin. This murder was even fouler than that of Abner. Here there were ties of blood; they were companions in arms, and there was no pretence of a vendetta], whom he slew and shed [lit., "put," a somewhat strange expression. It almost looks as if עָלָיו, "upon him," had dropped out. The meaning "make," which Keil assigns to שִׂים is not borne out by his references, Deuteronomy 14:1; Exodus 10:2. "Showed," "displayed," is nearer the original], the blood of war in peace [the meaning is obvious. Blood might lawfully be shed in time of war, in fair fight; and Joab might have slain the two captains in battle without guilt. But he slew them when they were at peace with him and unprepared, by treachery], and put the blood of war [the LXX. has αῖμα ἀθῶον, "innocent blood"] upon his girdle that was about his loins, and in his shoes that were on his feet [we are not to suppose that the girdle and sandal are mentioned as "die Zeichen des Kriegerstandes " (Bahr), i.e., military insignia; nor yet that the idea is "from the girdle to the sandal" (Ewald), i.e., copiously. These are, usual (hardly "principal," as Keil) articles of Eastern dress, of the civilian's as well as of the soldier's, and these two are mentioned because, no doubt, the horrible details of the two murders, and especially of the last (see 2 Samuel 20:8), had been reported to David. He had been told at the time how the blood of Amasa had spurted on to the girdle of Joab, and streamed down into his sandals, and these details, which no doubt made a deep impression upon his mind, are recited here to show how dastardly and treacherous was the deed, and how thoroughly Joab was stained with innocent blood, blood which cried to heaven for vengeance (Genesis 4:10)]. When this was reported to Solomon, together with the prayer of Adonijah that the king would swear to him that he would not put him to death with the sword (אם before ימית, a particle used in an oath), he promised him conditional impunity: "If he shall be brave (בּן־חיל, vir probus), none of his hair shall fall to the earth," equivalent to not a hair of his head shall be injured (cf. 1 Samuel 14:45); "but if evil be found in him," i.e., if he render himself guilty of a fresh crime, "he shall die."
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