2 Samuel 13:39
And the soul of king David longed to go forth to Absalom: for he was comforted concerning Amnon, seeing he was dead.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(39) The soul of King David.—The words, “the soul of,” are not in the original, and the most opposite interpretations have been given of the rest of the sentence. The sense of the English is that of the Chaldee and of the Jewish commentators—that David, after his grief for Amnon had abated, longed after Absalom and pined for his return. But it may be objected to this view, (1) that there is no ground for supplying the ellipsis in this way; (2) that the verb (which is a common one) never has elsewhere the sense given to it; and (3) that the representation thus made is contrary to fact, since David could easily have recalled Absalom had he chosen to do so, and when he actually was brought back, through Joab’s stratagem, the king refused to see him (2Samuel 14:24), and only after two years more (2Samuel 14:28), reluctantly admitted him to his presence. The other interpretation is better, which takes the verb impersonally, and gives the sense, David desisted from going forth against Absalom. He ought to have arrested and punished him for a murder, which was at once fratricide and high treason, as being the assassination of the heir-apparent; but the flight to Geshur made this difficult, and as time went by David “was comforted concerning Amnon,” and gradually gave up the thought of punishing Absalom.

2 Samuel 13:39. The soul of King David longed to go forth to Absalom — To visit him, or to send for him. What amazing weakness was this! At first he could not find in his heart to do justice to the ravisher of his sister; and now he can almost find in his heart to receive into favour the murderer of his brother! How can we excuse David from the sin of Eli, who honoured his sons more than God. 13:30-39 Jonadab was as guilty of Ammon's death, as of his sin; such false friends do they prove, who counsel us to do wickedly. Instead of loathing Absalom as a murderer, David, after a time, longed to go forth to him. This was David's infirmity: God saw something in his heart that made a difference, else we should have thought that he, as much as Eli, honoured his sons more than God.Longed to go forth - Rather, "longed after Absalom," literally, was consumed in going forth, with a sense of disappointed hope. 2Sa 13:37-39. Absalom Flees to Talmai.

37. Absalom fled, and went to Talmai—The law as to premeditated murder (Nu 35:21) gave him no hope of remaining with impunity in his own country. The cities of refuge could afford him no sanctuary, and he was compelled to leave the kingdom, taking refuge at the court of Geshur, with his maternal grandfather, who would, doubtless, approve of his conduct.

To go forth unto Absalom, to wit, to visit him, or to send for him. And thus this word the soul is here understood, partly from the Hebrew verb, which being of the feminine gender, agrees not with David, but with David’s soul; and partly by comparing this with other places, where the same verb is used, and the soul expressed, as Psalm 84:2 119:81. But as this supplement may seem too bold, so this version seems not so well to agree with that phrase of going out to Absalom; for David neither desired nor intended to go out to Absalom, but that Absalom should come home to him. And these words may be and are otherwise rendered, by the most ancient and remarkable interpreters, to this purpose; And king David made an end of going out (to wit, in an hostile manner, as that verb is oft used, Genesis 14:18 2 Samuel 11:1) against (for so the Hebrew particle el is oft used, as Jeremiah 34:7 Eze 13 9,20 Am 7:15). Absalom; i. e. having used some, though it is probable but cold and remiss, endeavours to pursue after Absalom, and to fetch him from his grandfather’s to receive condign punishment, he now gave over thoughts of it. Thus the same verb, and that in the same conjugation, is used in the same manner, 1 Kings 3:1, he made an end of building. It is to be objected, That the Hebrew verb is of the feminine gender, and therefore doth not agree with king David, which is masculine. It may be answered, That enallage of genders is a most frequent figure; and as the masculine gender is sometimes applied to women when they do some manly and gallant action, Exodus 1:21, so the feminine gender is sometimes used of men when they show an effeminate tenderness in their disposition; which is the case here, as some learned Hebricians have noted. And the soul of King David longed to go forth unto Absalom,.... In like manner it is supplied and paraphrased in the Targum, because the word rendered "longed" is feminine; though it may be used to denote the effeminateness of David's disposition and carriage on this occasion. Aben Ezra thinks the word "wife", should be supplied, and then the sense is, that the wife of King David, the mother of Absalom, made supplication to him to send forth one of the young men to fetch Absalom, and that by her importunity to him she stirred up a longing desire in David after him. Abarbinel observes, from another writer of theirs, that all the three years David was mourning for his son, he went out continually to seek to take vengeance on Absalom; but after that time, the mother of Absalom, or Tamar his sister, or his daughter, was importunate with the king, and restrained him from going forth to seek vengeance on Absalom; and when he was comforted concerning Amnon, that woman found means to restrain him from going out, and he restrained his servants from going forth against Absalom; and so he observes the word is used for withholding or restraining in Psalm 40:10; and this agrees with several ancient versions, as the Vulgate Latin,"King David ceased to persecute Absalom;''and the Septuagint,"King David ceased to go out to Absalom;''and the Syriac version,"and King David abstained from going out after Absalom:"

for he was comforted concerning Amnon, seeing he was dead; and could not be brought back from the grave, though Absalom might be from his exile, to which he had an inclination; but he knew not how to do it, consistent with justice and his own honour.

And the soul of king David longed to go forth unto Absalom: for he was comforted concerning Amnon, seeing he was dead.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
39. And the soul of king David, &c.] The Heb. of this verse is obscure, and has been made to bear almost opposite meanings. (1) The E. V., following the Jewish commentators, supplies the soul as the subject of the verb, which is feminine. It describes David as pining for the return of Absalom, after his sorrow for Amnon’s death had abated. To this interpretation it may be objected, (a) that the verb, in the voice used here, does not mean longed: (b) that if David had been anxious for Absalom’s return, he might have recalled him at once, whereas even when by Joab’s instrumentality he had been brought back to Jerusalem, he was not admitted to the royal presence. (2) By taking the verb impersonally we may obtain the sense, David desisted from going forth against Absalom (so the Vulg. “cessavitque rex David persequi Absalom;” and probably the Sept.), i.e. he gave up plans of pursuit and revenge; or by emending the text according to a very probable conjecture, the king’s wrath ceased to go forth against Absalom. Either of these renderings gives the general sense which seems to be required by the context, that David’s active hostility towards Absalom was mitigated by the lapse of time.Verse 39. - And (the soul of) king David longed to go forth unto Absalom. This translation has the support of the Jewish Targum, and, as the verb is feminine, the insertion of the added word is possible, though the sense seems to require "anger" instead of "the soul." But the versions (Septuagint, Syriac, and Vulgate) all give the verb its ordinary meaning of "ceasing," and, though there is something harsh in taking it impersonally, yet their authority is too great for us to say that such a mode of rendering it must be wrong. And if the grammar be difficult, the sense put upon the words by the versions is excellent. Literally they are, As to King David, there. was a ceasing to go forth after Absalom; for he was comforted, etc. At first he had demanded of Talmai the surrender of the offender, and, when Talmai refused, David tried other means; but in time, when his grief for Amnon was assuaged, he desisted from his efforts. But even so it required much subtlety on Joab's part to obtain Absalom's recall, which would scarcely have been the case if David's soul was longing for his son's return; and, even after his coming, David long maintained an unfriendly attitude. Amnon was his firstborn, and evidently dearly loved, but David's culpable leniency had borne bitter fruit. And again he acts without thoughtful sense of justice, and though at first he would have given Absalom merited punishment, yet gradually paternal feeling resumed its sway, unhappily only to be miserably abused.



Then Jonadab, the same person who had helped Amnon to commit his crime, said, "Let not my lord say (or think) that they have slain all the young men the king's sons, but Amnon alone is dead; for it was laid upon the mouth of Absalom from the day that he forced his sister Tamar." The meaning is either "they might see it (the murder of Amnon) by his mouth," or "they might gather it from what he said." שׂימה היתה: it was a thing laid down, i.e., determined (vid., Exodus 21:13). The subject, viz., the thing itself, or the intended murder of Amnon, may easily be supplied from the context. אם כּי is undoubtedly used in the sense of "no but." The negation is implied in the thought: Let the king not lay it to heart, that they say all the king's sons are dead; it is not so, but only Amnon is dead. Jonadab does not seem to speak from mere conjecture; he is much too sure of what he says. He might possibly have heard expressions from Absalom's lips which made him certain as to how the matter stood.
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