2 Samuel 17:23
And when Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his ass, and arose, and gat him home to his house, to his city, and put his household in order, and hanged himself, and died, and was buried in the sepulchre of his father.
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(23) And hanged himself.—Ahithophei was moved, not merely by chagrin at the rejection of his counsel, but was shrewd enough to see that, with this delay, Absalom’s rebellion would inevitably fail, and he himself be likely to come to a traitor’s death.

2 Samuel 17:23. And put his household in order — Disposed of his property by will. See Isaiah 38:1. And hanged himself — Partly because he could not bear to outlive his disgrace, and the rejection of his counsel; and partly because he saw that by this means, David would gain time and strength, and, in all probability, prove victorious; and that then the storm would fall most heavily upon his own head, as the main author and pillar of the rebellion, and the contriver of the pernicious counsels above mentioned. “See here,” says Henry, “contempt poured upon the wisdom of man! He that was more renowned for policy than ever any man was, played the fool with himself more than any man ever did. Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, when he sees him that was so great an oracle dying as a fool dies!” See, likewise, honour done to the justice of God: the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands, and sunk in a pit of his own digging. “When he had contrived, inspired, diffused, and propagated evil, through an innumerable multitude, and loaded his soul with all the horrors of complicated guilt that hell could devise; treachery, rebellion, incest, parricide! he hurried it to all the vengeance due to it from eternal justice; to prevent all possibility of reparation and repentance, he died in the act of self-murder. So perished the great Machiavel of that age; the very wisest of the very wise!” — Delaney.

17:22-29 Ahithophel hanged himself for vexation that his counsel was not followed. That will break a proud man's heart which will not break a humble man's sleep. He thought himself in danger, concluding, that, because his counsel was not followed, Absalom's cause would fail; and to prevent a possible public execution, he does justice upon himself. Thus the breath is stopped, and the head laid low, from which nothing could be expected but mischief. Absalom chased his father. But observe how God sometimes makes up to his people that comfort from strangers, which they are disappointed of in their own families. Our King needs not our help; but he assures us, that what we do for the least of his brethren, who are sick, poor, and destitute, shall be accepted and recompensed as if done to himselfTo his city - To Giloh (marginal reference). Ahithophel was probably influenced by deep mortification at the slight put upon him by rejecting his counsel. He is a memorable example of the impotence of worldly wisdom. Compare the marginal reference. 2Sa 17:23-29. Ahithophel Hangs Himself.

23. when Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed—His vanity was wounded, his pride mortified on finding that his ascendency was gone; but that chagrin was aggravated by other feelings—a painful conviction that through the delay which had been resolved on, the cause of Absalom was lost. Hastening home, therefore, he arranged his private affairs, and knowing that the storm of retributive vengeance would fall chiefly upon him as the instigator and prop of the rebellion, he hanged himself. It may be remarked that the Israelites did not, at that time, refuse the rites of sepulture even to those who died by their own hands. He had an imitator in Judas, who resembled him in his treason, as well as in his infamous end.

Put his household in order; disposed of his estate by will. Compare Isaiah 38:1.

Hanged himself; partly because he could not endure to outlive his disgrace, and the rejection of his counsel; and partly because he foresaw by this means David would gain time and strength, and in all probability be victorious, and then the storm would fall most heavily upon his head, as the main author and pillar of the rebellion, and the contriver of those two pernicious counsels above mentioned.

And when Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed,.... But that of Hushai:

he saddled his ass; or ordered it to be saddled:

and arose, and gat him home to his house, to his city; which was Giloh in the tribe of Judah, 2 Samuel 15:12,

and put his household in order; made his will, and disposed of his estates, see Isaiah 38:1; or "commanded his house" or "household" (t); gave orders and instructions, both relating to himself when dead, where and how he should be buried, and to his family, how they should behave to one another and among their neighbours, and towards their superiors; and particularly, the Jews say (u), he gave them this charge, not to rebel against the government of the house of David:

and hanged himself; so to his other sins added that of suicide, which was done deliberately, as the preceding clause shows; this he did, partly because his proud spirit could not bear it that his counsel should be slighted, and that of another be preferred to it; and partly because he plainly foresaw that the cause of Absalom would be ruined by neglecting his counsel and following that of Hushai's, whereby he himself would fall into the hands of David, and be put to death by him as a traitor; and he chose to die by his own hand, and not his; and the rather, to prevent the confiscation of his goods and estates as a traitor, and his heirs being deprived of them; though some think he died of a disease, by strangling or suffocation in the throat, was choked through grief and trouble; so R. Elias observes (w), that some say that this disease came upon him through the greatness of his grief of mind and trouble of soul, because his counsel was not taken, and he died of strangling; and they say this, because they reckon it an absurdity for so wise and understanding a man as he was to hang himself; but the case seems very clear that he did kill himself; the Jews say (x) he was but thirty three years of age when he died; for being a bloody and deceitful man, he did not live out half his days, Psalm 55:23; which psalm was penned on his account; but one so young could hardly be a counsellor of David, and so famous for his wise counsel; and besides, if so young, could not be the grandfather of Bathsheba, as the Jews say:

and died, and was buried in the sepulchre of his father; though he died an ignominious death, he had an honourable burial; it perhaps not being usual in those times to put any mark of infamy on those that killed themselves, by refusing them interment in the common burying places of their friends and neighbours.

(t) "praecepit ad domum suam", Montanus. (u) T. Hieros. Sanhedrin, fol. 29. 1.((w) In Tishbi, p. 129. & David de Pomis, Lexic. fol. 148. 2.((x) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 106. 2.

And when Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his ass, and arose, and gat him home to his house, to his city, and put his household in order, and {m} hanged himself, and died, and was buried in the sepulchre of his father.

(m) God's just vengeance even in this life is poured on them who are enemies, traitors, or persecutors of his Church.

23. The suicide of Ahithophel

23. to his city] Giloh. See ch. 2 Samuel 15:12.

put his household in order] Lit. gave charge concerning his house: arranged his affairs and made his will. Cp. 2 Kings 20:1.

hanged himself] Like Judas (Matthew 27:5). It is the first deliberate suicide on record, and was prompted by mortification at the rejection of his counsel; by the chagrin of baffled ambition; by the conviction that now the rebellion would inevitably fail, and that he would only live to suffer a traitor’s death.

Verse 23. - Ahithophel...hanged himself. There is an old fancy, put down by Thenius as one of the curiosities of interpretation, that Ahithophel died of a quinsy; for the word might mean "was strangled or choked." But the act seems mentioned as a proof of Ahithophel's unerring judgment. Indignation at Absalom's folly, and at the slight. cast upon himself, is not a sufficient reason for so violent a deed. He must have foreseen the certain ruin of the conspiracy if David was allowed time; and he knew that upon its failure would follow his own punishment. It is proof also that he was a fierce and ill-tempered man, and animated for some reason or other with a malignant hatred of David. The parallel between Ahithophel and the traitor Judas must strike every one. 2 Samuel 17:23It is still further stated in conclusion, that when Ahithophel saw that his advice was not carried out, he saddled his ass and returned to his home, and there set his house in order and hanged himself, because he could foresee that Absalom would lose his cause through not taking his advice, and it would then be all over with himself. Thus was David's prayer (2 Samuel 15:31) fulfilled.
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