2 Samuel 15:2
And Absalom rose up early, and stood beside the way of the gate: and it was so, that when any man that had a controversy came to the king for judgment, then Absalom called unto him, and said, Of what city art thou? And he said, Thy servant is of one of the tribes of Israel.
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2 Samuel 15:2. Absalom rose up early — He accustomed himself to rise betimes in the morning, that he might make a show of solicitude for the good of the public, and of every private person. When any man came to the king for judgment — The king, it appears, reserved all weighty causes for his own hearing; and appeals were made to him from the other courts. Absalom called to him — Preventing him with the offers of his assistance. And, as if he were ready to make particular inquiry into the state of his cause, and intended, to take peculiar care of his interest, kindly inquired concerning his city, family, situation in life, and the place of his abode.

15:1-6 David allows Absalom's pomp. Those parents know not what they do, who indulge a proud humour in their children: many young people are ruined by pride. And those commonly are most eager for authority who least understand its duties.Beside the way of the gate - See Ruth 4:1 note. 2-6. Absalom rose up early, and stood beside the way of the gate—Public business in the East is always transacted early in the morning—the kings sitting an hour or more to hear causes or receive petitions, in a court held anciently, and in many places still, in the open air at the city gateway; so that, as those whose circumstances led them to wait on King David required to be in attendance on his morning levees, Absalom had to rise up early and stand beside the way of the gate. Through the growing infirmities of age, or the occupation of his government with foreign wars, many private causes had long lain undecided, and a deep feeling of discontent prevailed among the people. This dissatisfaction was artfully fomented by Absalom, who addressed himself to the various suitors; and after briefly hearing their tale, he gratified everyone with a favorable opinion of his case. Studiously concealing his ambitious designs, he expressed a wish to be invested with official power, only that he might accelerate the course of justice and advance the public interests. His professions had an air of extraordinary generosity and disinterestedness, which, together with his fawning arts in lavishing civilities on all, made him a popular favorite. Thus, by forcing a contrast between his own display of public spirit and the dilatory proceedings of the court, he created a growing disgust with his father's government, as weak, careless, or corrupt, and seduced the affections of the multitude, who neither penetrated the motive nor foresaw the tendency of his conduct. Rose up early; thereby making a show of self-denial, and diligence, and solicitude for the good of the public, and of every private person, as he had opportunity.

Beside the way of the gate; either, first, Of the king’s palace. Or rather, secondly, Of the city; for that was the place of judicature or judgment, for which these men came.

Absalom called unto him, preventing him with the offers of his assistance.

Of what city art thou? as if he were ready to make particular inquiry into the state of his cause.

Of one of the tribes of Israel; or rather, of one city (which word is easily understood out of the foregoing question) of the tribes of Israel, i.e. of an Israelitish city, either this or that; of such or such a city.

And Absalom rose up early,.... Every morning, to show how diligent and industrious he should be, and closely apply himself to business, was he in any office trader the king, and especially when he should be king himself; this he did to ingratiate himself into the affections of the people:

and stood beside the way of the gate; either of the king's palace, so Josephus (d), or of the city, where courts of judicature are held: the former seems most probable by what follows:

and it was so, that when any man that had a controversy came to the king for judgment; that had a controversy with another man on any account, and came to the king to have it decided according to law, or the rules of justice and equity:

then Absalom called unto him, and said, of what city art thou? which question he asked, only to lead on to some further discourse:

and he said, thy servant is of one of the tribes; that is, of one of the cities of the tribes of Israel, and not of a city of another nation.

(d) Antiqu. l. 7. c. 9. sect. 1.

And Absalom rose up early, and stood beside the way of the gate: and it was so, that when any man that had a controversy came to the king for judgment, then Absalom called unto him, and said, Of what city art thou? And he said, Thy servant is of one of the {b} tribes of Israel.

(b) That is, noting of what city or place he was.

2. beside the way of the gate] By the side of the road leading to the gate of the king’s palace, where he sat to transact business. Cp. ch. 2 Samuel 19:8. From this practice the Sultan’s government is still popularly called in Turkey “the Sultan’s gate,” and the Sublime Porte, which is the French equivalent of Bab-i-Humayoon (the high gate), the name of the principal gate of the palace at Constantinople, is used by us as a synonym for the Turkish government.

a controversy] Better, a suit, as in 2 Samuel 15:4.

of one of the tribes of Israel] Belongs to such and such a tribe or city: naming the particular one in each case.

Verse 2. - The way of the gate. The gate would be that of the royal palace, where the king gave audience and administered justice. At the gate of the city the elders were the judges, and, though the higher authority of the king may have weakened the action of this citizen court, yet passages such as Isaiah 50:23 and Jeremiah 5:28 imply, not only its continued existence, but also that it retained much importance. Probably all causes between citizens were tried by it, just as causes in the country were tried by the mishpachah (see note on 2 Samuel 14:7); but with an appeal in weighty matters to the king. It is a mistake to suppose that David altogether neglected his judicial functions. On the contrary, the woman of Tekoah obtained an audience, as a matter of course; and Absalom would not have risen up thus early unless David had also taken his seat in the early morning on the royal divan to administer justice. It was the suitors on their way to the king whom Absalom accosted, and made believe that he would be more assiduous in his duties than his father, and that he would have decided every suit in favour of the person to whom he was talking, whereas really one side alone can gain the cause. Still, we may well believe that, guilty himself of adultery and murder, and with his two eider sons stained with such terrible crimes, David's administration of justice had become half hearted. And thus his sin again found him out, and brought stern punishment. For Absalom used this weakness against his father, and, intercepting the suitors on their way, would ask their city and tribe, and listen to their complaint, and assure them of the goodness of their cause, and lament that, as the king could not hear all causes easily himself, he did not appoint others to aid him in his duties. It was delay and procrastination of which Absalom complained; and as many of the litigants had probably come day after day, and not succeeded in getting a hearing, they were already in ill humour and prepared to find fault. Now, as David possessed great powers of organization, we may well believe that he would have taken measures for the adequate administration of law had it not been for the moral malady which enfeebled his will. In the appointment of Jehoshaphat and Seraiah (2 Samuel 8:16, 17) he had made a beginning, but soon his hands grew feeble, and he did no more. 2 Samuel 15:2Absalom seeks to secure the people's favour. - 2 Samuel 15:1. Soon afterwards (this seems to be the meaning of כּן מאחרי as distinguished from כּן אהרי; cf. 2 Samuel 3:28) Absalom set up a carriage (i.e., a state-carriage; cf. 1 Samuel 8:11) and horses, and fifty men as runners before him, i.e., to run before him when he drove out, and attract the attention of the people by a display of princely pomp, as Adonijah afterwards did (1 Kings 1:5). He then went early in the morning to the side of the road to the gate of the palace, and called out to every one who was about to go to the king "for judgment," i.e., seek justice in connection with any matter in dispute, and asked him, "Of what city art thou?" and also, as we may see from the reply in 2 Samuel 15:3, inquired into his feelings towards the king, and then said, "Thy matters are good and right, but there is no hearer for thee with the king." שׁמע signifies the judicial officer, who heard complainants and examined into their different causes, for the purpose of laying them before the king for settlement. Of course the king himself could not give a hearing to every complainant, and make a personal investigation of his cause; nor could his judges procure justice for every complainant, however justly they might act, though it is possible that they may not always have performed their duty conscientiously.
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