But Absalom fled. And the young man that kept the watch lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came much people by the way of the hill side behind him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Absalom fled.—This is connected on one side with 2Samuel 13:29, and on the other with 2Samuel 13:37. Several things were happening at once. When the king’s sons fled to the palace, Absalom, taking advantage of the confusion, escaped another way. The reason for mentioning the fact just here is that otherwise he would seem to be included among “the king’s sons” of the two following verses.
Behind him—i.e., from the west, the Oriental always being supposed to face the east in speaking of the points of the compass.2 Samuel 13:34. Absalom fled — He was now as much afraid of the king’s sons as they were of him; they fled from his malice, he from their justice. No part of the land of Israel could shelter him; the cities of refuge afforded no protection to a wilful murderer. Though David had let Amnon’s incest go unpunished, Absalom could not promise himself his pardon for this murder. He therefore made the best of his way to his mother’s relations, and was entertained and protected by his grandfather Talmai three years; David not demanding him, and Talmai not thinking himself obliged to send him back unless he were demanded.2 Samuel 13:29. The king's sons rose from table and fled, and Absalom taking advantage of the confusion, also escaped and fled. This information is inserted here to account for the king's sons returning unmolested. Absalom fled; he who had undertaken to defend his servants flees or his own life.
Behind him; behind the watchman; for it seems they did not come in the direct road, where the watchman looked for them, but (for some reason or fancy they had) fetched a compass, and came that way which he least expected them.
and the young man that kept the watch lifted up his eyes, and looked: to the way that led from Absalom's house to Jerusalem, to see if he could spy any other messenger on the road from thence:
and, behold, there came much people by the way of the hill side behind him; that is, behind the watchman, who, looking round him, saw them; these people were the king's sons and their attendants, who, being at some distance, the young man could not discern who they were; they did not come the direct road from Absalom's house, but came a round about way, for fear, as R. Isaiah rightly conjectures, lest Absalom should pursue, or send pursuers after them, and slay them; though others, as Kimchi, think this refers to the hill, and that the sense is, that the watchman saw them coming from the way which was behind the hill, and began to see them when they came to the side of it, which was the way that led to the city, surrounded by mountains, see Psalm 125:2.But Absalom fled. And the young man that kept the watch lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came much people by the way of the hill side behind him.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)34. But Absalom fled] This brief statement of Absalom’s escape is inserted here in anticipation of 2 Samuel 13:37-38, in order to contrast Absalom’s flight with the return of the king’s sons to Jerusalem.
the young man that kept the watch] At Jerusalem, probably in the tower over one of the gates. Cp. ch. 2 Samuel 18:24.
much people] The princes had been attended by a numerous retinue of followers.
by the way of the hill side behind him] From the way behind him from the side of the hill: that is probably, if the text is sound, from the west. But the Sept. has important variations, thus: “And behold much people were coming in the way behind him by the side of the hill at the descent. And the watchman came and told the king, and said, I have seen men coming from the way of Oronen, by the side of the hill. And Jonadab said,” &c. Oronen may represent Horonaim or Beth-horon, the dual form referring to the two places of that name, the “Upper” and “Lower” Beth-horon—which lay north-west of Jerusalem.Verse 34. - But Absalom fled. These words break the form of the narrative, but complete the sense. They briefly state that Jonadab was right; for, so far from molesting any of the rest of the king's sons, Absalom had no other thought than for his own safety. He had avenged his sister, but had at present no other sinister design. It was David's method of treating him which drove this youth, with a nature fit for treachery, into schemes of rebellion. The way of the hillside behind him. This may mean "from the west," as, in taking the points of the compass, the Hebrews looked to the east, which would thus be "before them." Compare "the backside of the desert," that is, "the western side," in Exodus 3:1; and "the Syrians before and the Philistines behind," that is, on the east and west (Isaiah 9:12). But the versions differ so strangely in their renderings that they could scarcely have been made from our present text. 2 Samuel 13:27, καὶ ἐποίησεν ἈβεσσαλὼϚ πότον κατὰ τὸν τοῦ βασιλέως, is nothing more than an explanatory gloss, formed according to 1 Samuel 25:36. The words "Have not I commanded you?" implied that Absalom would take the responsibility upon himself.
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