2 Samuel 15:19
Then said the king to Ittai the Gittite, Wherefore goest thou also with us? return to thy place, and abide with the king: for thou art a stranger, and also an exile.
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(19) Ittai the Gittite.—The patronymic must here be understood literally, since David calls him “a stranger and also an exile;” he had but comparatively recently (2Samuel 15:20) attached himself to David’s service, bringing with him his family and others of his countrymen. From the fact that David afterwards entrusted him with the command of a third of his forces, it is clear that he must have been an experienced general. It cannot be shown positively that he was a proselyte, although this is probable.

In the latter part of this verse the English has unnecessarily changed the order of the words. Read, “Return and abide with the king, for thou art a stranger and an exile at thy place,” viz., at Jerusalem. David neither means to recognise Absalom as king, nor yet to speak of him ironically; he only means to tell Ittai that, as a foreigner, he need not concern himself in such a question, but is quite justified in serving the king de facto, whoever he may be. Ittai’s answer may be compared with Ruth’s (Ruth 1:16-17).

2 Samuel 15:19-20. Then said the king to Ittai the Gittite, &c. — He seems to have been the commander of those six hundred men before mentioned. And the Jews make him the son of Achish, king of Gath, who, they say, out of religion and friendship came to David. Return to thy place — To Jerusalem, where thy place of residence is. And abide with the king

With Absalom, king by usurpation. For thou art a stranger and an exile — Not much concerned in our affairs, and therefore thou oughtest not to be involved in our troubles. And, as a stranger, thou mayest hope to be civilly treated by Absalom. Whereas thou camest but yesterday — That is, very lately; should I this day make thee go up and down with us? — Should I unsettle thee again so soon? Seeing I go whither I may — Or, I know not whither, having now no certain dwelling-place. Take back thy brethren — Thy countrymen the Gittites. Mercy and truth be with thee — Since I am now unable to recompense thy kindness and fidelity to me, my hearty prayer to God is, that he would show to thee his mercy, in blessing thee with all sorts of blessings, and his faithfulness in making good all these promises which he hath made, not to Israelites only, but to all true-hearted proselytes, such as thou art.

15:13-23 David determined to quit Jerusalem. He took this resolve, as a penitent submitting to the rod. Before unrighteous Absalom he could justify himself, and stand out; but before the righteous God he must condemn himself, and yield to his judgments. Thus he accepts the punishment of his sin. And good men, when they themselves suffer, are anxious that others should not be led to suffer with them. He compelled none; those whose hearts were with Absalom, to Absalom let them go, and so shall their doom be. Thus Christ enlists none but willing followers. David cannot bear to think that Ittai, a stranger and an exile, a proselyte and a new convert, who ought to be encouraged and made easy, should meet with hard usage. But such value has Ittai for David's wisdom and goodness, that he will not leave him. He is a friend indeed, who loves at all times, and will adhere to us in adversity. Let us cleave to the Son of David, with full purpose of heart, and neither life nor death shall separate us from his love.Passed on - Rather, "crossed" the Brook Kidron, as in 2 Samuel 15:22-23.

Gittites - During David's residence in the country of the Philistines he attached such a band to himself; and after the settlement of his kingdom, and the subjugation of the Philistines, the band received recruits from Gath, perhaps with the king of Gath's consent. They were now under the command of Ittai the Gittite, a foreigner 2 Samuel 15:19, and "his brethren" 2 Samuel 15:20. The number 600 probably indicates that this band or regiment of Gittites had its origin in David's band of 600 1 Samuel 23:13; 1 Samuel 27:2. They were at first, it is likely, all Israelites, then Gittites mixed with Israelites, and at last all Gittites.

18-20. all the Gittites, six hundred men—These were a body of foreign guards, natives of Gath, whom David, when in the country of the Philistines, had enlisted in his service, and kept around his person. Addressing their commander, Ittai, he made a searching trial of their fidelity in bidding them (2Sa 15:19) abide with the new king. Return to thy place; either, first, To thy native country of Gath, where thou wilt be remote from our broils. Or, secondly, To Jerusalem, where thy settled abode now is.

And abide, or, or abide; for he could not both go to Gath, and tarry in Jerusalem with Absalom. Although this part of the verse lies otherwise in the Hebrew text, and may be rendered thus,

Return (to wit, to Jerusalem) and abide with the king (there);

for thou art a stranger and exile from thy own place; or, in respect of thy own place, or, as concerning thy place, i. e. in regard of the place of thy birth and former habitation. With the king; with Absalom, who is now made king by the choice of the people, and therefore is able to give thee that protection and encouragement which thou deservest; whereas I am in a manner deposed, and unable to do for thee what I desired and intended.

A stranger, and also an exile; not much concerned in our affairs, and therefore not fit to be involved in our troubles.

Then said the king to Ittai the Gittite,.... Who was over the band of Gittites, the six hundred men, 2 Samuel 15:22,

wherefore goest thou also with us? one should think the king should not have discouraged any from joining and following him, when his numbers were not very large, and the in such fear on account of Absalom:

return to this place; to Jerusalem, where his station was:

and abide with the king; with Absalom, who set himself up for king, and whom the people perhaps had proclaimed as such in Hebron, where the conspiracy began:

for thou art a stranger, and also an exile; not a native of Israel, but of another nation, and at a distance from it, and therefore not altogether under the same obligations to attend David in his troubles as others were; and by this it seems that he was a Gittite by nation, whatever the six hundred men were, and rather favours the first sense given of them in 2 Samuel 15:18.

Then said the king to {l} Ittai the Gittite, Wherefore goest thou also with us? return to thy place, and abide with the king: for thou art a stranger, and also an exile.

(l) Who as some write was the king's son of Gath.

19–23. The fidelity of Ittai

19. Ittai the Gittite] A distinguished Philistine who had quite recently (2 Samuel 15:20) migrated from his home with his family and followers (2 Samuel 15:22) to enter David’s service. From the fact that he shared the command of the army with Joab and Abishai (ch. 2 Samuel 18:2) it is clear that he must have been an experienced general.

return to thy place] His new home in Jerusalem. This is the right rendering of the Hebrew text as it stands: but the order of the words is unusual, and both Sept. and Vulg. support a different reading: Return and dwell with the king; for thou art a stranger and also an exile from thy place.

with the king] David’s meaning is that Ittai need not involve himself in the revolutions of a foreign country, but might take service under Absalom or any other reigning king without breach of faith.

an exile] We can only conjecture that Ittai had been compelled to leave his country in consequence of some revolution. If we may suppose this to have been the case, it gives additional delicacy to David’s thought fulness in wishing to spare him the repetition of hardships he had but lately experienced.

Verse 19. - Ittai the Gittite. Ittai was not one of the six hundred, though there was an Ittai among them, a Benjamite. He was a citizen of Gath, who had lately come ("yesterday," see ver. 20), with all his household of slaves and dependents, his clan, Hebrew, his taf - translated in ver. 22 his "little ones." He had evidently been a person of importance in his own country, whence he had been driven, perhaps by political troubles, and was now, therefore, an exile and a foreigner (Authorized Version, "stranger") at Jerusalem. As David made him joint commander of his army with Joab and Abishai (2 Samuel 18:2), he must also have been a general of recognized military skill. As he was thus not personally interested in the government of Israel, and, in fact, had only lately come thither, David recommends him to return... and abide with the king, that is, with the de facto king, Absalom. But so great was the fascination which David exercised upon those around him, that this foreigner boldly threw in his lot with him, and accompanied him in his flight. Return to thy place. This is a very daring transposition, as the Hebrew is, Return and abide with the king; for thou art a foreigner, and also an exile art thou to thy place. The Revised Version gives the same sense as the Authorized, though it shows more respect to the grammar. But the Septuagint, Syriac, and Vulgate, by "his own place" understand Gath, either taking the words as meaning "an exile as to thy own place," or having a different reading. The Hebrew then proceeds, Yesterday was thy coming, and shall 1 today make thee wander to go with us, seeing I go whither I go? that is, I go I know not whither. Return thou, and take back thy brethren - in mercy and truth. This gives a very good sense, but the Septuagint and Vulgate have a different reading: "Take back thy brethren with thee, and the Lord chew thee mercy and truth." The Syriac gives the genera] sense of the Hebrew, rendering, "Take back thy brethren well." 2 Samuel 15:19A military commander named Ittai, who had emigrated from Gath and come over to David not long before, also accompanied the king from the city. It is evident from 2 Samuel 18:2, where Ittai is said to have commanded a third part of the army sent against Absalom, and to have been placed on an equality with Joab and Abishai the most experienced generals, that Ittai was a Philistian general who had entered David's service. The reason for his going over to David is not known. According to 2 Samuel 15:22 of this chapter, Ittai did not come alone, but brought all his family with him (taph: the little ones). The opinion expressed by Thenius, that he had come to Jerusalem as a hostage, is merely founded upon a false interpretation of the last two clauses of the verse before us. David said to Ittai, "Wherefore goest thou also with us? return and stay with the king; for thou art a stranger, and also emigrating to thy place." There is no irony in the words "stay with the king," as Thenius and Clericus suppose (viz., "with the man who behaves as if he were king"); nor is there an acknowledgment of Absalom as king, which certainly could never have emanated from David. The words contain nothing more than the simple though: Do you remain with whoever is or shall be king, since there is no necessity for you as a stranger to take sides at all. This is the explanation given by Seb. Schmidt: "It is not your place to decide this context as to who ought to be king; but you may remain quiet and see whom God shall appoint as king, and whether it be I or Absalom, you can serve the one that God shall choose." This is the only way in which we can explain the reason assigned for the admonition, viz., "Thou art a stranger," and not an Israelite. There is some difficulty connected with the following words (rendered in the Eng. version "and also an exile"). In the Septuagint and Vulgate they are rendered καὶ ὅτι μετώκησας σὺ ἐκ τοῦ τόπου σου, et egressus es de loco tuo (and thou hast gone out from thine own place); but in adopting this rendering the translators have not only passed over the גּם (also), but have taken למקומך for ממּקומך. Nevertheless Thenius proposes to bring the text into harmony with these versions for the purpose of bringing out the meaning, "and moreover thou art one carried away from his own home." But this is decidedly a mistake; for David would never have made a Philistine - who had just before been carried away from his own home, or, as Thenius understands it, who had been brought to Jerusalem as a hostage - the commander of a third of his army. The meaning is rather the following: "And thou hast still no fatherland," i.e., thou art still wandering about through the earth like an exile from his country: wherever thou findest a place, and art allowed to settle, there only canst thou dwell.
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