2 Samuel 17:3
And I will bring back all the people unto thee: the man whom thou seekest is as if all returned: so all the people shall be in peace.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) Bring back all the people.—This evil counsellor, with artful flattery, assumes that Absalom is the rightful king, and that the people who have gone off after David only need to be brought back to their allegiance.

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.The man whom thou seekest - namely, David. Ahithophel means to say: "If I can only smite David, there will be no civil war, all the people will peaceably submit." CHAPTER 17

2Sa 17:1-14. Ahithophel's Counsel Overthrown by Hushai.

1-11. Moreover Ahithophel said unto Absalom—The recommendation to take prompt and decisive measures before the royalist forces could be collected and arranged, evinced the deep political sagacity of this councillor. The adoption of his advice would have extinguished the cause of David; and it affords a dreadful proof of the extremities to which the heartless prince was, to secure his ambitious objects, prepared to go, that the parricidal counsel "pleased Absalom well, and all the elders of Israel." It was happily overruled, however, by the address of Hushai, who saw the imminent danger to which it would expose the king and the royal cause. He dwelt upon the warlike character and military experience of the old king—represented him and his adherents as mighty men, who would fight with desperation; and who, most probably, secure in some stronghold, would be beyond reach, while the smallest loss of Absalom's men at the outset might be fatal to the success of the conspiracy. But his dexterity was chiefly displayed in that part of his counsel which recommended a general levy throughout the country; and that Absalom should take command of it in person—thereby flattering at once the pride and ambition of the usurper. The bait was caught by the vainglorious and wicked prince.

The man whom thou seekest is as if all returned, i. e. the death of that man whom thou seekest to destroy is no less considerable to thee, than if all the people that follow him should desert him and return unto thee.

And I will bring back all the people unto thee,.... Meaning not the people only that were with David, that he would make them prisoners, and bring them with him; for he before proposed to let them make their escape; but to reduce all Israel to the obedience of Absalom at once, by executing this scheme which he had formed:

the man whom thou seekest is as if all returned; meaning David, whom he speaks of contemptibly, and whose life it seems Absalom sought, as well as his crown; and he being dead, it would be all over at once with the people; they would immediately return to their own habitations, and yield obedience to Absalom as the rightful heir and successor; all depended on his death, he intimates: from whence it appears that Abarbinel is wrong in suggesting that Absalom did not design to take away the life of his father, only to secure the kingdom to himself in his father's lifetime, who he understood had disposed of it by his will to Solomon; but here Ahithophel plainly declares the intention of Absalom, nor would he have proposed in plain terms to take away the king's life, had Absalom been averse to it; and it is plain by what follows that the thing was pleasing to him:

so all the people shall be in peace; both parties coalesce under the government of Absalom, and live peaceably under it, and so an entire end of the war.

And I will bring back all the people unto thee: {b} the man whom thou seekest is as if all returned: so all the people shall be in peace.

(b) Meaning David.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
3. the man, &c.] Lit. As the returning of all is the man whom thou seekest. The return of all the people to thee will be ensured by the removal of David. If that is effected, there will be no civil war. Ahithophel’s use of the term “return” is a subtle flattery, implying that David’s followers were deserting their lawful sovereign. But the true text is not improbably preserved by the Sept.: “And I will cause all the people to return unto thee, as the bride returneth to her husband. Only one man’s life dost thou seek, and unto all the people there shall be peace.” The defection of the people is compared to the momentary desertion of a bride, who speedily returns to her husband.

Verse 3. - The man whom thou seekest is as if all returned; Hebrew, as the return of the whole is the man whom thou seekest. Both the amendments of the text and the various translations offered are innumerable, but nothing is really more satisfactory than the literal rendering of the words, virtually given us in the Authorized Version. Naturally, Ahithophel did not wish to parade David's death too openly. In his heart Absalom must have known that the safe possession of the kingdom could be assured him only by his father's death, but yet he might have shrunk from publicly avowing this, and having it talked of before his courtiers as a settled purpose. One reason why he adopted the counsel of Hushai may have been his reluctance to commit parricide: for plainly the one main purpose of Ahithophel was David's death. This thorough traitor may have seen even a tremor of alarm in Absalom's countenance when he spake out his purpose so frankly of "smiting the king only," and may have felt that, slumbering in the besom of the son, was something of that generous spirit which had made the father condemn the Amalekite to death for boasting that he had slain Saul. At all events, he was unwilling to dilate upon so ghastly a theme, and this general reference to David, as the man whom Absalom sought, without dwelling upon the subject, is in far better taste than the coarse open villainy so unreservedly expressed in ver. 2. The reading, however, of the Septuagint has many followers: "And I will bring back all the people to thee as a bride returns to her husband, excepting the life of the one man thou seekest; and for all the people there shall be peace." Ahithophel was bad enough, but scarcely so brutal as to compare to a bridal procession the sad return of David's mourning friends and companions in arms weeping round the corpse of their master murdered at the bidding of his own son. 2 Samuel 17:3Ahithophel's advice frustrated by Hushai. - 2 Samuel 17:1-3. Ahithophel said still further to Absalom, "I will choose out twelve thousand men, and arise, and pursue after David this night; and fall upon him when he is exhausted and weak, and fill him with alarm: so shall all the people that are with him flee; and I will smite the king alone (when he is alone), and will bring back all the people to thee." הלּילה, the night, is the night following the day of David's flight and Absalom's entrance into Jerusalem, as we may see very clearly from 2 Samuel 17:16. This advice was sagaciously conceived; for if David had been attacked that night by a powerful army, he might possibly have been defeated. אשׁיבה, to bring back, may be explained on the supposition that Ahithophel regarded Absalom as king, and those who had fled with David as rebels, who were to be brought back under Absalom's sceptre. The following words, וגו הכּל כּשׁוּב, "as the return of the whole (the whole nation) is the man," i.e., the return of all is dependent upon David, for whom thou liest in wait, are somewhat difficult, though the meaning of Ahithophel is evident enough from what precedes: viz., if he is beaten, they will all come over to thee; "the whole nation will be at peace" (שׁלוּם is used adverbially).

(Note: Consequently no conjectures are needed as to the rendering of the words in the lxx, viz., καθὼς (al. ὅν τρόπον) ἐπιστρέρει ἡ νύμφη πρὸς τὸν ἄνδρα αὐτῆς· πλὴν ψυχὴν ἀνδρὸς ἑνὸς σὺ ζητεῖς, such as Ewald, Thenius, and Bttcher have attempted. For it is very obvious that ἡ νύμφη πρὸς τὸν ἄνδρα αὐτῆς owes its origin simply to a false reading of האישׁ הכּל as אישׁ הכּלּה, and that πλὴν ψυχὴν ἀνδρὸς ἑνός has been interpolated by way of explanation from nothing but conjecture. No other of the ancient versions contains the slightest trace of a different reading from that given in the text.)

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