Behold, he is hid now in some pit, or in some other place: and it will come to pass, when some of them be overthrown at the first, that whoever hears it will say, There is a slaughter among the people that follow Absalom.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)2 Samuel 17:9-10. Behold, he is now hid in some pit — Having been often accustomed to that course, and well acquainted with all hiding-places from Saul’s time. In one of them, unknown to us, he will lurk with some of his chosen men, and lie in ambush for us; and when they see a fit opportunity, they will suddenly come forth and surprise some of our men, when they least expect it, and probably at first put them to flight. When some of them be overthrown — Namely, of Absalom’s men sent against David. At the first — Implying, that their good success at first would mightily animate David’s men to proceed vigorously in the fight, and intimidate Absalom’s army, and consequently would be both a presage and an occasion of their total defeat. Whosoever heareth it will say, &c. — They who first hear these ill tidings will propagate them, and strike terror with them into the rest of the army, whose fear will make them think the slaughter greater than it is. He also that is valiant shall utterly melt — For men, even the most valiant, are apt to form conjectures of the final issue by the beginning; and it is a great encouragement to men to fight, when they prosper at the first onset, and a great discouragement when they are worsted. All Israel knoweth that thy father is a valiant man, &c. — The known fame of the prodigious valour of thy father and his followers will easily gain credit to the report of their being victorious, and strike the stoutest of our men with dread, even Ahithophel himself, if he should go with them.2 Samuel 17:12; 1 Samuel 26:25.
Hushai's argument is that there was no chance of seizing David by surprise as Ahithophel suggested. There was sure to be sharp fighting, and the terror of the names of David, Joab, Abishai, Ittai, and their companions, would magnify the first few blows received into a victory, and Absalom's men would flee in panic. It is likely that Absalom was not a man of courage, and Hushai, knowing this, adroitly magnified the terror of the warlike prowess of David and his mighty men.
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.He is hid now in some pit, or in some other place; having been oft accustomed to that course, and well acquainted with all hidingplaces from Saul’s time. In one of them, unknown to us, he will lurk with some of his chosen men, and lie in ambush for us; and when they see a fit opportunity, they will suddenly come forth and surprise some of our men when they least expect it, and fall upon them with great fury, and probably will at first put them to flight.
Some of them, to wit, of Absalom’s men sent against David.
Overthrown at the first; implying that their good success at first would mightily animate David’s men to proceed vigorously in the fight, and intimidate Absalom’s army, and consequently would be both a presage and an occasion of their total defeat.
Whosoever heareth it will say; they who first hear these ill tidings will propagate it, and strike terror with it into the rest of the army.
and it will come to pass, when some of them be overthrown at the first; that is, some of Absalom's party, on whom David and his men coming out of an ambush should fall, and make a slaughter among them first, before they could do anything of consequence; and so having got the first advantage, it would serve to animate them, and dishearten their enemies:
that whosoever heareth it; at that time, or the next day:Behold, he is hid now in some pit, or in some other place: and it will come to pass, when some of them be overthrown at the first, that whosoever heareth it will say, There is a slaughter among the people that follow Absalom.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)9. in some pit, or in some other place] Omit other. By pit is meant a cave or natural hiding-place; by place an artificially strengthened position.
when some of them be overthrown] Or, when he (David) falleth upon them (his assailants).Verse 9. - When some of them be overthrown at the first; Hebrew, in the falling on them; that is, at the first onslaught of David's champions. Even though overpowered finally by force of numbers, they are sure to make a large slaughter at first, which may easily lead to a panic. 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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