2 Samuel 17:25
And Absalom made Amasa captain of the host instead of Joab: which Amasa was a man's son, whose name was Ithra an Israelite, that went in to Abigail the daughter of Nahash, sister to Zeruiah Joab's mother.
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(25) Amasa.—Joab having adhered to David and gone away with him, Absalom chose his cousin to succeed him as commander-in-chief.

Ithra an Israelite.—Called in 1Chronicles 2:17. Jether the Ishmeelite. Jether and Ithra are merely different forms of the same name; but Israelite is probably an error for Ishmeelite. The LXX. has, in the Alexandrian copy, Ishmaelite, and in the Vatican, Jezreelite.

Abigail the daughter of Nahash.—Since this Abigail is said to be “sister to Zeruiah,” and in 1Chronicles 2:16 both Abigail and Zeruiah are said to be the sisters of Jesse’s sons, it follows, either that sister is used in the sense of half-sister, or else that Nahash, usually a man’s name, was the name of Jesse’s wife. It is impossible to decide certainly. The Jewish tradition that Nahash is another name for Jesse has no support.

2 Samuel 17:25. Absalom made Amasa captain of the host — Amasa was another of David’s nephews, the son of his sister Abigail. The daughter of Nahash — Nahash was one of Jesse’s wives, by whom he had this Abigail, the mother of Amasa, as he had Zeruiah, the mother of Joab, by another wife; so that they were sisters by the father, but not by the mother, and Joab and Amasa were cousins.

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 himselfIthra an Israelite - Or "Jether the Ishmeelite" 1 Chronicles 2:17. "Ithra" and "Jether" are practically the same names. "Israelite" in the text is wrong. It should be either "Ishmaelite" or "Jezreelite" 2 Samuel 3:2.

Abigail the daughter of Nahash - If Zeruiah and Abigail were Jesse's daughters, the only probable way of reconciling our text with 1 Chronicles 2:16-17, is to suppose that Nahash was Jesse's wife. If Zeruiah and Abigail were only sisters of David by the mother, then Nahash might be the name of her first husband.

25. Amasa—By the genealogy it appears that this captain stood in the same relation to David as Joab, both being his nephews. Of course, Amasa was Absalom's cousin, and though himself an Israelite, his father was an Ishmaelite (1Ch 2:17).

Nahash—is thought by some to be another name of Jesse, or according to others, the name of Jesse's wife.

Ithra an Israelite.

Object. He was an Ishmaelite, 1 Chronicles 2:17.

Answ. Not Amasa; but Ithra, or Jether, Amasa’s father, is there so called, because he was such, either by his birth from such parents, or by his long habitation among them, or for some other reason now unknown. Compare 2 Samuel 15:18. And Amasa is here called an Israelite, either because he was a proselyte; or in opposition to Joab, who was of the tribe of Judah, as Amasa was of one of the ten tribes; or rather, to intimate, that although he or his parents were called Ishmaelites for some reason, yet as to their extraction they were indeed Israelites; which if Amasa had not been, it is not probable that he could have had so powerful an influence upon the tribe of Judah as he had, 2 Samuel 19:14.

That went in to Abigail, i.e. lay with her, whether being first married to her, or not, is uncertain.

The daughter of Nahash. Nahash is either another name of Jesse; or rather, the name of Jesse’s wife; by whom he had this Abigail, as he had Zeruiah by another wife; so they were sisters by the father, but not by the mother; and Nahash is here named to signify so much.

And Absalom made Amasa captain of the host instead of Joab,.... Who was along with David:

which Amasa was a man's son whose name was Ithra, an Israelite; he is called Jether the Ishmaelite, 1 Chronicles 2:17; either because he was an Ishmaelite by birth, and being proselyted to the Jewish religion, was called an Israelite; or rather he was an Israelite by birth, and having sojourned in the land of Ishmael some time, was called an Ishmaelite, as Uriah the Hittite, and others; and when Amasa is called a "man's son", it means a great man, as Kimchi observes:

that went in to Abigail, the daughter of Nahash, sister to Zeruiah,

Joab's mother: so that Joab and Amasa, the generals of David and Absalom, were own cousins, sisters' children, and David uncle to them both; for Abigail and Zeruiah were David's sisters, 1 Chronicles 2:16; children of Jesse, whose name is here called Nahash, having two names, or this was his surname; though others think Nahash is the name of a woman, the wife of Jesse, and that these two sisters had two mothers, but one father; it seems by this expression, "went in to", as if Amasa was not begotten in the conjugal state, but was illegitimate.

And Absalom made Amasa captain of the host instead of Joab: which Amasa was a man's son, whose name was Ithra an Israelite, that went in to Abigail the daughter of {n} Nahash, sister to Zeruiah Joab's mother.

(n) Who was also called Jesse, David's father.

25. Amasa] It has been supposed by some that he is the same as Amasai who came to David at Hebron (1 Chronicles 12:16-18). But if so, would not the fact of his relationship to David have been mentioned there?

Ithra an Israelite] Called in 1 Chronicles 2:17 Jether the Ishmeelite. Jether and Ithra are different forms of the same name: and Ishmaelite should probably be read here in place of Israelite, which has no point. The Alex. MS. of the LXX reads Ishmaelite, the Vatican MS. Jezreelite.

Abigal the daughter of Nahash] Amasa’s mother Abigal (or Abigail) was David’s sister, and we should naturally infer from 1 Chronicles 2:16-17 that Abigail and Zeruiah were Jesse’s daughters. Who then was Nahash? To this three answers may be given. (1) The obvious one, that she was Jesse’s wife, to which the objection is that Nahash is not a woman’s name. (2) That Nahash is another name for Jesse, which is the Jewish tradition, but is not supported by any evidence. (3) That Nahash was the first husband of Jesse’s wife, so that Abigail and Zeruiah were only step-sisters to David. This view has in its favour the guarded statement of 1 Chronicles 2:16, which does not say that they were Jesse’s daughters, but sisters of his sons. To go on to identify Nahash with the king of the Ammonites defeated by Saul is mere conjecture. It should be noted that Amasa and Joab were cousins.

Verse 25. - Ithra an Israelite. In 1 Chronicles 2:17 he is called "Jether the Ishmeelite." The first name is the same, Ithra being the emphatic form of Jether; and as it is difficult to find a reason for mentioning so ordinary a fact as that his father was an Israelite, we may conclude that "Ishmeelite" is the correct reading. Bishop Wordsworth, however, suggests that "Israelite" was in contrast to "Judahite;" but this distinction did not come into use until after the disruption of the kingdom. The Vatican text of the Septuagint has "Jezreelite," which is probably a conjecture to get rid of the obvious error of calling him an Israelite. Amasa was an illegitimate son, which confirms the reading "Ishmeelite" in 1 Chronicles 2:17, as a marriage between Abigail and a foreigner would be sure to be opposed by all the members of Jesse's family. Nahash. Jewish interpreters regard Nahash (equivalent to "serpent") as another name for Jesse, quoting in proof, "Out of the root of Nahash (the serpent) shall come forth the basilisk" (Isaiah 14:29), which in the Chaldee Paraphrase is explained as meaning, "out of the root of Jesse shall come forth the Messiah." This conceit would scarcely have deserved mention, had it not found a place in the margin of the Authorized Version. Some few commentators regard Nahash as a woman's name, and think that she was a wife of Jesse, and mother of Abigail and Zerniah, but not of David. But Nahash is so constantly a man's name that it is easier to believe that Nahash was the first husband of David's mother, and Abigail and Zerniah his half-sisters, not on the father's, but on the mother's side. Joab and his brothers are always described as sons of Zeruiah, both to mark their relationship to David, and also because the rank was on her side. Amasa was probably the Amasai mentioned in 1 Chronicles 12:18 as bringing a powerful reinforcement to David while at Ziklag; but the ambition of supplanting Joab made him now forget David's long friendship. 2 Samuel 17:25Absalom had made Amasa captain over his army instead of Joab, who had remained true to David, and had gone with his king to Mahanaim. Amasa was the son of a man named Jithra, היּשׂראלי, who had gone in to (i.e., had seduced) Abigail, the daughter of Nahash and sister of Zeruiah, Joab's mother. He was therefore an illegitimate cousin of Joab. The description given of Jithra as ישׂראלי is very striking, since there was no reason whatever why it should be stated that Amasa's father was an Israelite. The Seventy have therefore given ὁ Ἰεζραηλίτης, i.e., sprung from Jezreel, where David's wife Ahinoam came from (1 Samuel 27:3); but they have done so apparently from mere conjecture. The true reading is evidently היּשׁמעאלי, an Ishmaelite, according to 1 Chronicles 2:17, where the name is written Jether, a contracted form of Jithra. From the description given of Abigail as a daughter of Nahash and sister of Zeruiah, not of David, some of the earlier commentators have very justly concluded that Abigail and Zeruiah were only step-sisters of David, i.e., daughters of his mother by Nahash and not by Jesse.
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