2 Samuel 17:20
And when Absalom's servants came to the woman to the house, they said, Where is Ahimaaz and Jonathan? And the woman said to them, They be gone over the brook of water. And when they had sought and could not find them, they returned to Jerusalem.
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(20) The brook of water.—This peculiar word for brook occurs only here, and is thought by some writers to be a proper name. A small brook bearing the same name, Michal, is said to exist now in this locality. On the deceit practised by the women, comp. Joshua 2:4-7; 1Samuel 19:12-17. The historian simply records without comment what was done.

2 Samuel 17:20. When Absalom’s servants — Who were sent to pursue them; came to the woman to the house — For some had informed them that Jonathan and Ahimaaz had turned that way. The woman said, They be gone over the brook — According to Josephus, the woman told them; they made no stay at her house, but, after they had asked for a little water, made haste away: but, if they pursued them speedily, she believed they might overtake them. This, however, was a manifest lie; and, though spoken for no hurt, but good only; and though, as is probable, it was pardoned by God; yet was it certainly moral evil, as all kinds of lies are, and are condemned by plain passages of Scripture, which inform us we must not do evil that good may come, nor tell a lie for God’s glory, Romans 3:7-8.17:1-21 Here was a wonderful effect of Divine Providence blinding Absalom's mind and influencing his heart, that he could not rest in Ahithophel's counsel, and that he should desire Hushai's advice. But there is no contending with that God who can arm a man against himself, and destroy him by his own mistakes and passions. Ahithophel's former counsel was followed, for God intended to correct David; but his latter counsel was not followed, for God meant not to destroy him. He can overrule all counsels. Whatever wisdom or help any man employs or affords, the success is from God alone, who will not let his people perish.As soon as ever she had hid the men she went into the house, as if busy about her usual occupations. Had Absalom's servants, who had had information from some of the people of Bahurim that the men had come to this house, found her in the court it might have directed their attention to the peeled barley.

Over the brook of water - Compare 2 Samuel 16:9 note. The word for "brook" ("Michal") occurs only here. One has been found in this very district, still so called. The woman showed great presence of mind and adroitness in not denying that they had been there.

18. and came to a man's house in Bahurim, which had a well in his court—The court was that of the house, and the well an empty cistern. All the houses of the better class are furnished with such reservoirs. Nothing could more easily happen than that one of these wells, in consequence of a deficiency of water, should become dry and it would then answer as a place of retreat, such as David's friends found in the man's house at Bahurim. The spreading of a covering over the well's mouth for the drying of corn is a common practice. Over the brook of water, i.e. over Jordan. This was a manifest lie; but because it was spoken for no hurt, but good only, many persons in those times conceived such lies to be lawful. Compare Exodus 1:19 Joshua 2:4,5. But although God was pleased to overlook and pardon the sin, and graciously to reward the good intention which accompanied them; yet it is certain that all kinds of lies are moral evils, and condemned by plain scriptures, and that we must not do evil that good may come, nor tell a lie for God’s glory, Romans 3:7,8. And when Absalom's servants came to the woman to the house,.... Who were sent after then, had intelligence which way they took, and into what house they turned:

they said, where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan? calling them by their names, being persons well known, and as to them, so to the woman of the house, as they supposed:

and the woman said unto them, they be gone over the brook of water; the river Jordan; so the Targum,"they have already passed over Jordan;''

this was a lie she told them, which is not to be justified; the Vulgate Latin version,"they passed over hastily, having drank a little water;''and so Josephus (r) in some copies:

and when they had sought and could not find them; not only searched that house, but very probably others in Bahurim:

they returned to Jerusalem; to give an account what success they had.

(r) Antiqu. l. 7. c. 9. sect. 7. Hudson. not. in ib.

And when Absalom's servants came to the woman to the house, they said, Where is Ahimaaz and Jonathan? And the woman said unto them, They be gone over the {i} brook of water. And when they had sought and could not find them, they returned to Jerusalem.

(i) The Chaldee text reads: Now they have passed the Jordan.

20. The brook of water] The word Michal, translated brook, is found here only. It may have been some local name. The woman sent the pursuers off in the wrong direction, and then at once despatched Jonathan and Ahimaaz. Compare the deceit practised by Rahab (Joshua 2:4 ff.), and by Michal (1 Samuel 19:12-17). As stated in the note on the latter passage, Holy Scripture affirms the universal duty of Truth without any exception (Leviticus 19:11), nor can it be understood to sanction breaches of this general law by recording them without express disapproval. See also note on ch. 2 Samuel 15:34. It is left to the casuist to discuss whether any necessity is sufficient to justify a falsehood or an act of deception. See Whewell’s Elements of Morality, Chaps. xv. xvi.Verse 20. - They be gone over the brook of water. The word michal, translated "brook," does not occur elsewhere, and probably it was a local name for some stream near Bahurim. It was, we may suppose, in the right direction, but when the pursuers had followed for some time, and caught no glimpse of the runners, knowing their swiftness of foot, they concluded that they had outstripped them. and, giving up the chase as hopeless, returned to Jerusalem. It was only when she had seen them far on their way back that she removed the cover and allowed the young priests to resume their journey. The delay, would have been fatal to David if vigorous counsel had been followed at Jerusalem; as it was, they reached David's camp without further incident, and acquainted him with Ahithophel's plan; and the king at once recognized his danger, and without more delay, commenced at once the passage of the Jordan, and carried it out so skilfully and rapidly, that by the morning every one of his company was safe on the other side. And he secured his end. Absalom and all Israel thought his advice better than that of Ahithophel; for it was intended to commend itself to Absalom and his supporters. "The counsel appeared safe; at the same time it was full of a certain kind of boasting, which pleased the younger men" (Clericus). All that Hushai had said about the bravery and heroism of David and his followers, was well founded. The deception lay in the assumption that all the people from Dan to Beersheba would crowd around Absalom as one man; whereas it might easily be foreseen, that after the first excitement of the revolution was over, and great calmness ensued, a large part of the nation and army would gather round David. But such a possibility as this never entered the minds of Absalom and his supporters. It was in this that the divine sentence referred to in 2 Samuel 17:14 was seen: "The Lord had commanded (appointed) it, to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, that he might bring the evil (intended) upon Absalom."
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