2 Samuel 18:13
Otherwise I should have worked falsehood against my own life: for there is no matter hid from the king, and you yourself would have set yourself against me.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(13) Against mine own life.—The English, like the Vulg., here follows the margin of the Hebrew; the LXX., in most MSS., following the text, has against his life. Either makes a good sense, but the English is preferable. In this parley Joab thoroughly exposes his unscrupulous and self-willed character, and the man shows that he understood it.

2 Samuel 18:13. I should have wrought falsehood against my own life — Not only have been false and disobedient to the king, but should have betrayed my own life, and therefore not have been true to myself. For there is no matter hid from the king — This, as all other things, would certainly have come to the king’s ear. Thou thyself wouldest have set thyself against me Thou wouldest have been my adversary and accuser, both because it would have been thy duty to be so, and to vindicate thyself from any blame in the matter. He knew the disposition of Joab so well, that he was sure that general would have been as forward as any one both to inform the king of what had been done, and to have had the person punished who did it, for disobeying his sovereign.18:9-18 Let young people look upon Absalom, hanging on a tree, accursed, forsaken of heaven and earth; there let them read the Lord's abhorrence of rebellion against parents. Nothing can preserve men from misery and contempt, but heavenly wisdom and the grace of God.The man gives a remarkable incidental testimony to David's sagacity and penetration (compare 2 Samuel 14:19), and to Joab's known unscrupulousness. 11, 12. Joab said unto the man that told him, … I would have given thee ten shekels of silver, and a girdle—that is, would have raised him from the ranks to the status of a commissioned officer. Besides a sum of money, a girdle, curiously and richly wrought, was among the ancient Hebrews a mark of honor, and sometimes bestowed as a reward of military merit. This soldier, however, who may be taken as a fair sample of David's faithful subjects, had so great a respect for the king's wishes, that no prospect of reward would have tempted him to lay violent hands on Absalom. But Joab's stern sense of public duty, which satisfied him that there could be neither safety to the king, nor peace to the kingdom, nor security to him and other loyal subjects, so long as that turbulent prince lived, overcame his sensibilities, and looking upon the charge given to the generals as more befitting a parent than a prince, he ventured to disobey it. Either, first, I should have been guilty of false and perfidious dealing against the king’s express injunction, and that with the manifest hazard of my own life. Or, secondly I should have betrayed my own life. I should not only have deceived myself with false hopes, either of concealing my fact from the king, or of obtaining a reward, yea, or a pardon, from him or thee for it; but also have destroyed myself thereby, and laid a plot against my own life.

There is no matter hid from the king; this, as all other things, would certainly come to the king’s ear.

Thou thyself wouldest have set thyself against me; thou wouldst have been my adversary and accuser; partly because it was thy duty to be so; and partly to vindicate thyself by casting the blame upon another. Or, thou wouldst have stood afar off, as this phrase is used, Psalm 38:11. Thou wouldst not have stood to me to intercede for my life or reward, but wouldst keep at a distance from me. Otherwise I should have wrought falsehood against mine own life,.... Or "soul"; he should not only have exposed his life to danger, but acted falsely to the king, by going contrary to his orders; yea, would have done that which was contrary to his own conscience; and if he had buoyed himself up with the hope of impunity, or of a reward, he should have found himself mistaken; the textual reading is, "against his life" (l), or "soul", the life of Absalom, by taking it away:

for there is no matter hid from the king; this, though done ever so secretly, would have come to his knowledge by some means or another, and then I should have incurred his displeasure, and suffered for it:

and thou thyself wouldest have set thyself against me; to accuse and bring him to justice; he would have been so far from protecting him, that he would have been the first man that would have insisted on it that he should be punished for it; or why dost not thou thyself set thyself against him, and smite him? thou mayest if thou pleasest, yonder he hangs, go and smite him.

(l) , Sept. "contra animam illius", Piscator.

Otherwise I should have wrought falsehood against mine own life: for there is no matter hid from the king, and thou thyself wouldest have set thyself against me.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
13. I should have wrought falsehood against mine own life] I should not only have disobeyed the king, but have been false to my own interest and forfeited my life. The Kthîbh reads his life, thus: Or if I had dealt deceitfully against his life, there is nothing hid, &c.: i.e., if I had treacherously slain him contrary to the king’s command, it would certainly have come to the king’s ears, and I should have been put to death. The Sept. has a different reading, connecting the first clause of 2 Samuel 18:13 with 2 Samuel 18:14, thus: “Take care of the young man Absalom for my sake, that ye do no harm against his life: and there is no matter hid,” &c.

wouldest have set thyself against me] Wouldest have taken part against me with the king. The man was well aware of Joab’s unscrupulous character.Verse 13. - Against mine own life. Again the K'tib is better: "Or had I wrought perfidiously against his life - and nothing is hidden from the king - so wouldst thou have set thyself against me." Not only was the man faithful to the king, but he was perfectly aware of Joab's unscrupulous character. If only Absalom were put out of the way, Joab would have readily consented to the execution of the unimportant person who had been the means of gratifying his wish. Battle in the wood of Ephraim, and death of Absalom. - 2 Samuel 18:6, 2 Samuel 18:7. When the people, i.e., David's army, had advanced into the field against Israel (those who followed Absalom), a battle was fought "in the wood of Ephraim," when Israel was smitten by David's warriors and sustained a loss of 20,000 men. The question, where the "wood of Ephraim" was situated, is a disputed one. But both the name and the fact that, according to Joshua 17:15-16, the tribe-land of Ephraim abounded in forests, favour the idea that it was a wood in the inheritance of Ephraim, on this side of the Jordan; and this is in perfect harmony with the statement in 2 Samuel 18:23, that Ahimaaz took the way of the Jordan valley to bring the news of the victory to David, who was staying behind in Mahanaim. Nevertheless the majority of commentators have supposed that the place alluded to was a woody region on the other side of the Jordan, which had received the name of "wood Ephraim" probably after the defeat of the Ephraimites in the time of Jephthah (Judges 12:1-5). The reasons assigned are, first, that according to 2 Samuel 17:26, Absalom had encamped in Gilead, and it is not stated that he had crossed the Jordan again; secondly, that 2 Samuel 18:3 ("that thou succour us out of the city") presupposes that the battle took place in the neighbourhood of Mahanaim (Thenius); and thirdly, that after the victory the army returned to Mahanaim; whereas if the battle had been fought on this side of the Jordan, it would evidently have been much better for it to remain there and occupy Jerusalem (Ewald, Gesch. iii. p. 237). But neither of these reasons is decisive, and there is no force in the other arguments employed by Thenius. There was no necessity for an immediate occupation of Jerusalem by David's victorious army, since all Israel fled to their tents after the fall of Absalom and the defeat of his army (2 Samuel 18:17 and 2 Samuel 19:9); that is to say, such of Absalom's followers as had not fallen in or after the battle, broke up and returned home, and therefore the revolution was at an end. Consequently there was nothing left for David's army to do but to return to its king at Mahanaim, and fetch him back to Jerusalem, and reinstate him in his kingdom. The other two reasons might have some force in them, if the history before us contained a complete account of the whole course of the war. But even Ewald admits that it is restricted to a notice of the principal battle, which completely crushed the rebellion. There can be no doubt, however, that this was preceded, if not by other battles, yet by such military operations as accompany every war. This is clearly indicated in 2 Samuel 18:6, where it is stated that the army advanced into the field against Israel (2 Samuel 18:6), which evidently refers to such an advance on the part of David's army as might compel Absalom to draw back from Gilead across the Jordan, until at length a decisive battle was fought, which ended in the complete destruction of his army and his own death. Ewald observes still further, that "it seems impossible, at any rate so far as the name is concerned, to assume that the wood of Ephraim was on the other side of the Jordan, whilst according to 2 Samuel 18:23, the messenger who reported the victory went from the field of battle towards the Jordan valley in order to get to David." But the way in which Ewald tries to set aside this important point, as bearing upon the conclusion that the battle took place on this side of the Jordan, - namely, by adopting this rendering of 2 Samuel 18:23, "he ran after the manner of Kikkar, running, and therefore overtook Kushi," - is far too unnatural to meet with acceptance. Under all these circumstances, therefore, we decide in favour of the assumption that the wood of Ephraim is to be sought for in the tribe-territory of Ephraim.

The nature of the ground contributed a great deal to the utter defeat of Absalom.

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