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

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? 2 Samuel 14:1When Joab perceived that the king's heart was against Absalom, he sent for a cunning woman from Tekoah, to work upon the king and change his mind, so that he might grant forgiveness to Absalom. 2 Samuel 14:1 is understood by the majority of commentators, in accordance with the Syriac and Vulgate, as signifying that Joab learned that the king's heart was inclined towards Absalom, was well disposed towards him again. But this explanation is neither philologically sustained, nor in accordance with the context. לב, written with על and without any verb, so that היה has to be supplied, only occurs again in Daniel 11:28, where the preposition has the meaning "against." It is no argument against this meaning here, that if David had been ill disposed towards Absalom, there would have been no necessity to state that Joab perceived it; for we cannot see why Joab should only have perceived or noticed David's friendly feelings, and not his unfriendly feelings as well. If, however, Joab had noticed the re-awakening of David's good feelings towards Absalom, there would have been no necessity for him to bring the cunning woman from Tekoah to induce him to consent to Absalom's return. Moreover, David would not in that case have refused to allow Absalom to see his face for two whole years after his return to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 14:24). Tekoah, the home of the prophet Amos, the present Tekua, two hours to the south of Bethlehem (see at Joshua 15:59, lxx). The "wise woman" was to put on mourning, as a woman who had been mourning for a long while for some one that was dead (התאבּל, to set or show herself mourning), and to go to the king in this attire, and say what Joab had put into her mouth.
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