And Absalom sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David's counselor, from his city, even from Giloh, while he offered sacrifices. And the conspiracy was strong; for the people increased continually with Absalom.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Sent for Ahithophel.—Giloh, the city of Ahithophel, was one of the groups of towns just south of Hebron (Joshua 15:51), and Ahithophel may have gone there in readiness to be summoned by Absalom. Why he deserted David does not appear. It has been conjectured that he was aggrieved at David’s treatment of Bath-sheba, who is supposed to have been his granddaughter. Bath-sheba’s father was Eliam (2Samuel 11:3) and Ahithophel had a son Eliam (2Samuel 23:34), but there is no evidence that these were the same, and if they had been, Ahithophel probably would have felt honoured rather than aggrieved that his daughter should have been made queen. It is more likely that Ahithophel and many others of the tribe of Judah were alienated because, in the rapidly growing empire of David, their relative importance was of necessity constantly diminishing. It is noteworthy that the rebellion was cradled in Judah, and seems to have found there its chief strength.
There is a difference of opinion whether Psalms 41 was written on this occasion; but its ninth verse certainly applies very pointedly to Ahithophel; and his conduct, both in his treachery and his suicide, forms a striking parallel to that of Judas, to whom this verse is applied in John 13:18. Many writers also consider that Psalms 55 was composed with reference to Ahithophel.
While he offered sacrifices.—Absalom had arranged these, apparently with pomp and circumstance, to continue through several days. This gave time for the conspiracy to gain strength, and the accompanying feasting allowed Absalom an excellent opportunity for using his popular arts, and with such success that “the people increased continually with Absalom.”2 Samuel 15:12. Absalom sent for Ahithophel, David’s counsellor — None are more capable of doing mischief to kings than those who have been of their privy council, and know their secrets. It is supposed by the Jews that Ahithophel was incensed against David for his conduct to Bath-sheba, who they think, was his grand-daughter, being the daughter of Eliam, 2 Samuel 11:3, and Eliam the son of Ahithophel, 2 Samuel 23:34. It doubtless must have been matter of great surprise and inexpressible affliction to David, to find the two men, whom of all others he seems to have most loved and confided in, combining against him, and compassing his death, Absalom and Ahithophel, his son and his counsellor. While he offered sacrifices — Or, rather, after he had offered sacrifices: for it seems he sent for him while he sat at dinner. And the conspiracy was strong — Ahithophel was too cunning to discover himself till he saw all things favourable and prosperous on the part of Absalom: and they both very well judged that his accession to the conspiracy, in those circumstances, was the likeliest means to ensure its success. For the people increased continually — Most of whom, it is probable, intended no harm at first, perhaps not even to divest David of his crown and dignity, much less to take away his life; but only to substitute Absalom as a coadjutor to him, for the executing of the royal authority during David’s life, and to be his successor after his death. However, it is evident they did proceed so far, at last, as to design to kill David for their own greater security. For so Ahithophel advised, and they all consented to it, 2 Samuel 17:2; 2 Samuel 17:4; which shows how dangerous it is to go out of the right way; for we do not know down what horrid precipices we may fall afterward. And it may serve as a warning to us never to begin any thing that is wrong, which may lead us to commit that in the issue which we abhorred at the first, when we find we cannot be safe in one wickedness, unless we commit a greater.2 Samuel 11:3).
While he offered sacrifices - Rather, that Absalom sent for Ahithophel to be present when he offered the sacrifices; the intention being that all who partook of the sacrifice should be bound together to prosecute the enterprise. Absalom, too, would take advantage of the excitement of the great feast to inflame the ardour of the guests, and pledge them irrevocably to his cause.
the conspiracy was strong—The rapid accession of one place after another in all parts of the kingdom to the party of the insurgents, shows that deep and general dissatisfaction existed at this time against the person and government of David. The remnant of Saul's partisans, the unhappy affair of Bath-sheba, the overbearing insolence and crimes of Joab, negligence and obstruction in the administration of justice—these were some of the principal causes that contributed to the success of this widespread insurrection.Ahithophel is thought to have been the author, or, at least, the fomenter of this rebellion; either because he was discontented with David, for which there might be many reasons; or because he saw the father was old and nigh his end, and he thought it best policy to worship the rising sun, and to follow the young prince, whom he observed to have so great an interest in the hearts of the people, and whom he supposed he could easily manage as he pleased, which he could not do with David.
While he offered sacrifices; which he did not in devotion to God, for he neither feared God, nor reverenced man; nor to implore God’s favour and assistance against his father, which he knew was a vain thing to expect; but merely that upon this pretence he might call great numbers of the people together, whereof many would come to join with him in the worship of God, and most to partake of the feasts which were made of the remainders of the sacrifices, according to the manner. 2 Samuel 11:3; since he might be disgusted with and resent David's adultery with Bathsheba his granddaughter, and the murder of her husband Uriah: him he sent for:
from his city, even from Giloh; a city in the tribe of Judah, in the mountainous part of it, near to Hebron, where Absalom now was; and, according to Bunting (i), twenty miles from Jerusalem, see Joshua 15:48,
while he offered sacrifices; not Ahithophel, but Absalom, his peace offerings at Hebron, to which he invited Ahithophel to come and partake of:
and the conspiracy was strong; or there was a great number in the conspiracy, who were assembled together:
for the people increased continually with Absalom; being drawn to him by the comeliness of his person, his affable behaviour, the pomp and magnificence in which he appeared, the great number of the principal inhabitants of Jerusalem with him, and he the king's eldest son, and so heir to the crown; whereas it might begin to be rumoured about, that David designed Solomon, a son of Bathsheba, a young prince, to be his successor, which did not meet with general approbation at first.And Absalom sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David's counselor, from his city, even from Giloh, while he offered sacrifices. And the conspiracy was strong; for the people increased continually with Absalom.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)12. Gilonite] Formed from Giloh, as Shilonite (1 Kings 11:29) from Shiloh. Giloh was one of a group of cities in the mountains of Judah, to the south or south-west of Hebron (Joshua 15:51).
sent for Ahithophel] The sense is no doubt right, but it cannot be got out of the existing text. Probably some word has dropped out; the original reading may have been sent and called Ahithophel.
Ahithophel has justly been regarded as a type of the arch-traitor Judas. Even if the words “mine own familiar friend in whom I trusted which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me” (Psalm 41:9, quoted in John 13:18), were not written of Ahithophel, the parallel between his treachery and suicide, and the treachery and suicide of Judas, is too striking to be neglected.
while he offered sacrifices] While he offered the sacrifices. In order to give time for his adherents to gather, Absalom celebrated the sacrifice, which was the ostensible object of his journey. To Ahithophel, who no doubt had already been sounded, he sent a special invitation to join him.Verse 12. - Ahithophel the Gilonite. The desertion of David by Ahithophel is in every way remarkable, even if he were Bathsheba's grandfather (see note on 2 Samuel 11:3). For he was far too subtle a man to have joined the conspiracy unless he bad felt reasonably sure that it would be successful. Successful it would have been had his advice been followed; but so correctly did he estimate the result if David were allowed time to gather his friends, that, when his counsel was rejected, he withdrew immediately to Giloh, and committed suicide. Still if the revolt had been successful, it would have involved, if not the death of Bathsheba, yet certainly that of her sons, and the exclusion of Ahithophel's great-grandchildren from the throne. In Psalm 41, written at this time, we learn what were David's feelings when he heard the news of this conspiracy, and Ahithophel is the familiar friend, in whom he had trusted, and who had eaten at his table, but now raised up his heel to kick at him. In John 13:18 the words are quoted of Judas Iscariot, of whom Ahithophel was a type in his treachery and in his death by his own hand. The translation, "sent for Ahithophel," cannot be maintained. The Hebrew is "sent Ahithophel," but for what purpose or on what embassy is not mentioned. As thus something must have dropped out of the Hebrew text, it possibly may be the preposition "for," as this gives a good sense. For Giloh, Ahithophel's town, was situated a few miles to the south of Hebron (Joshua 15:51), and Ahithophel had probably been working there secretly for Absalom for some time. As David's counsellor, his proper place of residence would have been Jerusalem, but the conspiracy had been kept so secret that he had been able to get away without suspicion. He is now summoned to Absalom's side, and his presence there brings in so many adherents that a rapid march on Jerusalem might have put David into their power. The Revised Version is right in translating, while he offered the sacrifices; namely, those which he had vowed, and which were the reason given for his visit to Hebron. Genesis 31:20, but to steal the heart, i.e., to bring a person over to his side secretly and by stratagem.
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