2 Samuel 14:1
Now Joab the son of Zeruiah perceived that the king's heart was toward Absalom.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
XIV.

(1) Was toward Absalom.—This, like the last verse of the previous chapter, may be understood in either of two opposite senses: either David’s heart yearned for Absalom (as the Authorised Version, Vulg., LXX., Syr.), or it was hostile to him. The Hebrew preposition is used in both senses, though more frequently in the latter, and unquestionably expresses hostility in the only other place (Daniel 11:28) in which this form of the phrase occurs. The verse would then be translated, “And Joab the son of Zeruiah knew that the king’s heart was against Absalom.” Hence his stratagem to obtain his recall, which would otherwise have been quite unnecessary.

2 Samuel 14:1. That the king’s heart was toward Absalom — That he longed to see him, and have him restored to his country; but was ashamed to show kindness to one whom God’s law and his own conscience obliged him to punish. He wanted, therefore, a fair pretence for it, with which Joab now furnished him.14:1-20 We may notice here, how this widow pleads God's mercy, and his clemency toward poor guilty sinners. The state of sinners is a state of banishment from God. God pardons none to the dishonour of his law and justice, nor any who are impenitent; nor to the encouragement of crimes, or the hurt of others.Longed to go forth - Rather, "longed after Absalom," literally, was consumed in going forth, with a sense of disappointed hope. CHAPTER 14

2Sa 14:1-21. Joab Instructs a Woman of Tekoah.Joab suborning a widow of Tekoah by a parable to incline the king’s heart to fetch home Absalom, bringeth him to Jerusalem, but not into David’s sight, 2 Samuel 14:1-24. Absalom’s beauty, hair, and children, 2 Samuel 14:25-27. After two years Joab bringeth, him into the king’s presence, 2 Samuel 14:28-33.

He desired to see him, but was ashamed to show kindness to one whom God’s law and his own conscience obliged him to punish; and wanted a fair pretence, which therefore Joab gave him.

Now Joab the son of Zeruiah,.... The general of David's army:

perceived that the king's heart was towards Absalom; and longed to have him returned, though he knew not how to bring it about with credit to himself, his crime being so foul, and worthy of death. This Joab perceived by some words he now and then dropped, and by his conduct, not seeking by any ways and means to bring him to justice, and being now reconciled to the death of Amnon; wherefore Joab devised a way to make known to him his own mind, and the sense of the people, which would serve to encourage him to restore him; and the rather Joab was inclined to take such a step, as he knew it would establish him in the king's favour, and ingratiate him into the affection of Absalom, the next heir to the crown, as well as please the people, whose darling he was. Though Abarbinel is of opinion that Joab proceeded upon another view of things, not because he saw the heart and affection of David were towards Absalom, but the reverse; that though David restrained himself and his servants from going out after Absalom, yet Joab knew that the heart of the king was against him, and that his heart was to take vengeance on him, though he did not go out to seek him; he perceived there was still enmity and hatred in his heart to take vengeance on Absalom, and therefore he took the following method to remove it, and reconcile his mind to him; and so the Targum,"and Joab the son of Zeruiah knew that the heart of the king was to go, out against Absalom;''and it may be observed, that when Joab had so far prevailed upon him as to admit him to bring him back to Jerusalem, he would not suffer him to see his face, nor did he for two years after.

Now Joab the son of Zeruiah perceived that the king's {a} heart was toward Absalom.

(a) That the king favoured him.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Ch. 2 Samuel 14:1-20. Joab’s stratagem to procure Absalom’s recall

1. that the king’s heart was toward Absalom] This verse like the preceding one admits of two widely different explanations. (1) If the rendering of the E. V. is retained, the exact meaning will depend on whether the first or the second explanation of chap. 2 Samuel 13:39 given above, is adopted. (a) In combination with the first of those explanations, the words simply state Joab’s recognition of the king’s yearning towards his son which is there described. (b) In combination with the second of those explanations, which seems to be preferable, the words describe a further change in the king’s feeling from indifference to a positive desire for reconciliation. But on the supposition that David was longing to be reconciled to Absalom it is by no means easy to explain the following narrative. Why was Joab’s subtle scheme necessary, if David was eager of his own accord to recall Absalom? Why, if he was longing for a reconciliation, did he refuse to admit him to his presence for two whole years after his return?

(2) The words may however be rendered: “And Joab the son of Zeruiah knew that the king’s heart was against Absalom.” In favour of this rendering it may be urged (a) that the preposition generally means against not toward: (b) that in the only other passage where the phrase occurs (Daniel 11:28), it unquestionably expresses hostility: (c) that this meaning agrees better with the whole course of the narrative, which leaves the impression that Absalom’s recall was a concession extorted from David by Joab’s cunning. Although David had abandoned the ideas of vengeance which he at first entertained (of course the second explanation of ch. 2 Samuel 13:39 is the only one which can stand in combination with this rendering) his heart remained set against Absalom, and he shewed no disposition to recall him from exile. This view of the state of David’s feelings towards Absalom at once accounts for Joab’s subtle scheme to convince the king of the hardship of prolonging Absalom’s exile, and for the king’s refusal to see Absalom when he had been persuaded to allow him to return. It may seem inconsistent with the passionate affection which he afterwards displayed for his rebellious son (ch. 2 Samuel 18:5; 2 Samuel 18:33), but it is not really so. A violent revulsion of feeling, when Absalom’s life was in danger, and still more when he had perished by a miserable death, would be quite in accordance with David’s impulsive character.

Most commentators however adopt the rendering of the E. V., and suppose that political and judicial reasons prevented David from yielding to the dictates of affection: that, perceiving this, Joab planned his scheme in order to give the king the excuse he desired for recalling his son: that the refusal to see Absalom was prompted by a hope that the “discipline of disapproval” might bring him to a state of penitence for his offence.Verse 1. - The king's heart was toward Absalom. Again there is a diversity of view as to the right rendering. The preposition does not usually mean "toward," but "against," and is so rendered in ver. 13. The whole phrase occurs again only in Daniel 11:28, and certainly there implies enmity. The whole attitude of David towards Absalom is one of persistent hostility, and, even when Joab had obtained his recall, for two full years he would not admit him into his presence. What has led most commentators to force the meaning here and in 2 Samuel 13:39 is the passionate burst of grief when news was brought of Absalom's death following upon the anxious orders given to the generals to be careful of the young man's life. But David was a man of very warm affections, and while this would make him feel intense sorrow for the death of a son by his brother's hand, and stern indignation towards the murderer, there would still lie deep in the father's heart true love towards his sinning child, and Absalom's fall was sad enough to cause a strong revulsion of feeling. David's grief would be not merely for the death of his son, but that he should have died so miserably, and in an attempt so shameful. Was not, too, the natural grief of a father made the more deep by the feeling that this was the third stage of the penalty denounced on his own sin, and that the son's death was the result of the father's crime? "And Absalom fled." This statement follows upon 2 Samuel 13:29. When the king's sons fled upon their mules, Absalom also took to flight.

2 Samuel 13:30-33 are a parenthesis, in which the writer describes at once the impression made upon the king and his court by the report of what Absalom had done. The apparently unsuitable position in which this statement is placed may be fully explained from the fact, that the flight of Absalom preceded the arrival of the rest of the sons at the king's palace. The alteration which Bttcher proposes to make in the text, so as to remove this statement altogether on account of its unsuitable position, is proved to be inadmissible by the fact that the account of Absalom's flight cannot possibly be left out, as reference is made to it again afterwards (2 Samuel 13:37, 2 Samuel 13:38, "Absalom had fled"). The other alterations proposed by Thenius in the text of 2 Samuel 13:34, 2 Samuel 13:37, 2 Samuel 13:38, are just as arbitrary and out of place, and simply show that this critic was ignorant of the plan adopted by the historian. His plan is the following: To the account of the murder of Amnon, and the consequent flight of the rest of the king's sons whom Absalom had invited to the feast (2 Samuel 13:29), there is first of all appended a notice of the report which preceded the fugitives and reached the king's ears in an exaggerated form, together with the impression which it made upon the king, and the rectification of that report by Jonadab (2 Samuel 13:30-33). Then follows the statement that Absalom fled, also the account of the arrival of the king's sons (2 Samuel 13:34-36). After this we have a statement as to the direction in which Absalom fled, the king's continued mourning, and the length of time that Absalom's banishment lasted (2 Samuel 13:37, 2 Samuel 13:38), and finally a remark as to David's feelings towards Absalom (2 Samuel 13:39).

Jonadab's assertion, that Amnon only had been slain, was very speedily confirmed (2 Samuel 13:34). The young man, the spy, i.e., the young man who was looking out for the return of those who had been invited to the feast, "lifted up his eyes and saw," i.e., saw as he looked out into the distance, "much people (a crowd of men) coming from the way behind him along the side of the mountain." אחריו מדּרך, ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ ὄπισθεν αὐτοῦ (lxx), per iter devium (Vulg.), is obscure; and אהר, "behind," is probably to be understood as meaning "to the west:" from the way at the back of the spy, i.e., to the west of his station. The following words, ההר מצּד, also remain obscure, as the position of the spy is not given, so that the allusion may be to a mountain in the north-west of Jerusalem quite as well as to one on the west.

(Note: The lxx have very comprehensive additions here: first of all, after ἐκ πλευρᾶς τοῦ ὄρους, they have the more precise definition ἐν τῇ καταβάσει, and then the further clause, "and the spy came and announced to the king," Ἄνδρας ὲώρακα ἐκ τῆς ὁδοῦ τῆς ὠρωνῆν (?) ἐκ μέρους τοῦ ὅρους, partly to indicate more particularly the way by which the king's sons came, and partly to fill up a supposed gap in the account. But they did not consider that the statement in 2 Samuel 13:35, "and Jonadab said to the king, Behold, the king's sons are coming," does not square with these additions; for if the spy had already informed the king that his sons were coming, there was no necessity for Jonadab to do it again. This alone is sufficient to show that the additions made by the lxx are nothing but worthless glosses, introduced according to subjective conjectures and giving no foundation for alterations of the text.)

When the spy observed the crowd of men approaching, Jonadab said to the king (2 Samuel 13:35), "Behold, the king's sons are coming: as thy servant said, so has it come to pass."

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