2 Samuel 14:5
And the king said unto her, What aileth thee? And she answered, I am indeed a widow woman, and mine husband is dead.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
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.Spake - Seems to be an accidental error for came, which is found in many manuscipts and versions.

Help - literally, save (see the margin). It is the same cry as Hosanna, i. e. save now Psalm 118:25.

2-21. And Joab sent to Tekoah, and fetched thence a wise woman—The king was strongly attached to Absalom; and having now got over his sorrow for the violent death of Amnon, he was desirous of again enjoying the society of his favorite son, who had now been three long years absent. But a dread of public opinion and a regard to the public interests made him hesitate about recalling or pardoning his guilty son; and Joab, whose discerning mind perceived this struggle between parental affection and royal duty, devised a plan for relieving the scruples, and, at the same time, gratifying the wishes, of his master. Having procured a countrywoman of superior intelligence and address, he directed her to seek an audience of the king, and by soliciting his royal interposition in the settlement of a domestic grievance, convinced him that the life of a murderer might in some cases be saved. Tekoah was about twelve miles south of Jerusalem, and six south of Beth-lehem; and the design of bringing a woman from such a distance was to prevent either the petitioner being known, or the truth of her story easily investigated. Her speech was in the form of a parable—the circumstances—the language—the manner—well suited to the occasion, represented a case as like David's as it was policy to make it, so as not to be prematurely discovered. Having got the king pledged, she avowed it to be her design to satisfy the royal conscience, that in pardoning Absalom he was doing nothing more than he would have done in the case of a stranger, where there could be no imputation of partiality. The device succeeded; David traced its origin to Joab; and, secretly pleased at obtaining the judgment of that rough, but generally sound-thinking soldier, he commissioned him to repair to Geshur and bring home his exiled son. I am indeed a widow woman; one of them who most need thy compassion and assistance, and whom thou art by God’s law obliged in a singular manner to protect and relieve.

And the king said unto her, what aileth thee?.... Or what is thy case? What is the condition, and what the circumstances, that thou art in, which require help and assistance? intimating that he was ready to grant it on knowledge thereof; however, he was ready to hear what she had to say:

and she answered, I am indeed a widow woman; of a truth a widow, as the Targum; she was really one, a widow indeed, as in 1 Timothy 5:3; not one that was separated from her husband, he being alive, or divorced from him on any account; and therefore she adds:

and mine husband is dead; and has been a long time; this she said to move the pity and compassion of the king, who, as the supreme magistrate in God's stead, was a Father of the fatherless, and the judge of the widow.

And the king said unto her, What aileth thee? And she answered, I am indeed a widow woman, and mine husband is dead.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2 Samuel 14:5When the king asked her, "What aileth thee?" the woman described the pretended calamity which had befallen her, saying that she was a widow, and her two sons had quarrelled in the field; and as no one interposed, one of them had killed the other. The whole family had then risen up and demanded that the survivor should be given up, that they might carry out the avenging of blood upon him. Thus they sought to destroy the heir also, and extinguish the only spark that remained to her, so as to leave her husband neither name nor posterity upon the earth. The suffix attached to ויּכּו, with the object following ("he smote him, the other," 2 Samuel 14:6), may be explained from the diffuseness of the style of ordinary conversation (see at 1 Samuel 21:14). There is no reason whatever for changing the reading into יכּוּ, as the suffix ow, though unusual with verbs הל, is not without parallel; not to mention the fact that the plural יכּוּ is quite unsuitable. There is also quite as little reason for changing ונשׁמידה into וישׁמידוּ, in accordance with the Syriac and Arabic, as Michaelis and Thenius propose, on the ground that "the woman would have described her relatives as diabolically malicious men, if she had put into their mouths such words as these, 'We will destroy the heir also.' " It was the woman's intention to describe the conduct of the relations and their pursuit of blood-revenge in the harshest terms possible, in order that she might obtain help from the king. She begins to speak in her own name at the word וכבּוּ ("and so they shall quench and"), where she resorts to a figure, for the purpose of appealing to the heart of the king to defend her from the threatened destruction of her family, saying, "And so they shall quench the burning coal which is left." גּחלת is used figuratively, like τὸ ζώπυρον, the burning coal with which one kindles a fresh fire, to denote the last remnant. שׁוּם לבלתּי: "so as not to set," i.e., to preserve or leave name and remnant (i.e., posterity) to my husband.

This account differed, no doubt, from the case of Absalom, inasmuch as in his case no murder had taken place in the heat of a quarrel, and no avenger of blood demanded his death; so that the only resemblance was in the fact that there existed an intention to punish a murderer. But it was necessary to disguise the affair in this manner, in order that David might not detect her purpose, but might pronounce a decision out of pity for the poor widow which could be applied to his own conduct towards Absalom.

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