And it came to pass in the morning, that David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Sent it by the hand of Uriah.—The brave soldier is made the bearer of his own death-warrant, and his well-known valour for his king is to be the means of accomplishing his destruction, to relieve that king of the consequences of his crime, which also involved a great wrong to himself. No reason is given to Joab for this order, but as a loyal and somewhat unscrupulous general he obeys without question.
14, 15. David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah … Set ye Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle—The various arts and stratagems by which the king tried to cajole Uriah, till at last he resorted to the horrid crime of murder—the cold-blooded cruelty of despatching the letter by the hands of the gallant but much-wronged soldier himself, the enlistment of Joab to be a partaker of his sin, the heartless affectation of mourning, and the indecent haste of his marriage with Bath-sheba—have left an indelible stain upon the character of David, and exhibit a painfully humiliating proof of the awful lengths to which the best of men may go when they forfeit the restraining grace of God.
that David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah; to have him cut off by the sword of the enemy. If Uriah suspected David's criminal conversation with his wife, he was so true and trusted a servant to him, that he would not open his letter to Joab, which had he, it would have betrayed the base design. No one that knows the story of Bellerophon can read this without thinking of that, they are so much alike; and indeed that seems to be founded upon this, and taken from it with a little alteration. Bellerophon rejecting the solicitations of Sthenobaea, who was in love with him, she prevailed upon her husband Praetus to send letters by him to Jobates (a name similar to Joab), the general of his army, which contained instructions to take care that he was killed; who sent him upon an expedition for that purpose (m).And it came to pass in the morning, that David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
14. sent it by the hand of Uriah] So in the Greek story Proetus sent Bellerophon to Jobates with his own death-warrant. Cp. Hom. Il. VI. 168, 169.
“Slay him he would not, that his soul abhorred;
But to the father of his wife, the king
Of Lycia, sent him forth, with tokens charged
Of dire import, on folded tablets traced,
Poisoning the monarch’s mind to work his death.”Verse 14. - David wrote a letter. David now uses the knowledge he had acquired in the schools of the prophets for vicious purposes. For it to be a blessing, knowledge must be sanctified to holy use. The letter would conceal from Joab the truth, and only let him know that Uriah, during his visit to Jerusalem, had incurred the king's serious displeasure; and we may be quite sure that Joab would be very indignant when he learned, as he certainly soon would, that David had made him his tool, and caused him to murder one of "the mighties" in order to cover the shame of his adultery. The only fair side of the picture is that it shews the high state of morality among the people. The crimes of kings and great men are usually lightly pardoned, and especially that of adultery. Even in our own and other Christian countries this is the case; but David has to resort to extreme measures rather than face the indignation of his subjects. Unfortunately, the shedding of blood was not looked upon with equal horror. Possibly the leaving it to the relatives to requite it made the suppression of murder the business, not of the state, but of "the avenger of blood." At all events, Joab without much compunction carries out David's orders, caring to know no more than that Uriah was out of favour. And what is more extraordinary, David remains utterly callous for a whole twelvemonth (see 2 Samuel 12:15), and his conscience does not even smite him for the additional meanness of sending the order for Uriah's murder by the hand of the injured man himself. 2 Samuel 23:39, Uriah was one of the gibborim ("mighty men") of David, and therefore held some post of command in the army, although there is no historical foundation for the statement made by Josephus, viz., that he was Joab's armour-bearer or aide-de-camp. The king then said to him, "Go down to thy house (from the palace upon Mount Zion down to the lower city, where Uriah's house was situated), and wash thy feet;" and when he had gone out of the palace, he sent a royal present after him. The Israelites were accustomed to wash their feet when they returned home from work or from a journey, to take refreshment and rest themselves. Consequently these words contained an intimation that he was to go and refresh himself in his own home. David's wish was that Uriah should spend a night at home with his wife, that he might afterwards be regarded as the father of the child that had been begotten in adultery. משּׂאת, a present, as in Amos 5:11; Jeremiah 50:4; Esther 2:18.
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