2 Samuel 18:23
But howsoever, said he, let me run. And he said unto him, Run. Then Ahimaaz ran by the way of the plain, and overran Cushi.
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(23) By the way of the plain.—The word used here is generally applied to the valley of the Jordan and hence it has been argued that the battle could not have been fought on the eastern side of the river, since, in that case, Ahimaaz could not have reached Mahanaim by the Jordan valley except by a long and tedious detour. But the word simply means circuit, or surrounding country, and is used in Nehemiah 12:28 for the country about Jerusalem. Here it means that Ahimaaz ran “by the way of the circuit,” i.e., in all probability, by a longer but smoother road than that taken by the Cushite, so that he was able to outrun him.

18:19-33 By directing David to give God thanks for his victory, Ahimaaz prepared him for the news of his son's death. The more our hearts are fixed and enlarged, in thanksgiving to God for our mercies, the better disposed we shall be to bear with patience the afflictions mixed with them. Some think David's wish arose from concern about Absalom's everlasting state; but he rather seems to have spoken without due thought. He is to be blamed for showing so great fondness for a graceless son. Also for quarrelling with Divine justice. And for opposing the justice of the nation, which, as king, he had to administer, and which ought to be preferred before natural affection. The best men are not always in a good frame; we are apt to over-grieve for what we over-loved. But while we learn from this example to watch and pray against sinful indulgence, or neglect of our children, may we not, in David, perceive a shadow of the Saviour's love, who wept over, prayed for, and even suffered death for mankind, though vile rebels and enemies.The plain - The floor of the valley through which the Jordan runs. The Cushite did not run by that road, but took the road over the hills, which may well have been the shorter but also the more difficult road. The two roads would probably meet a short distance from Mahanaim. These words, which have been thought to prove that the battle took place on the west of Jordan, are a clear proof that it took place on the east, because if the runners had had to cross the Jordan, they must both have come by the same road, which it is clear they did not. 23. by the way of the plain—or ciccar, "circle." This word is only used elsewhere in connection with the valley of the Jordan. It is possible that there may have been a place or region so called on the tablelands of Gilead, as the Septuagint seems to indicate. Or Mahanaim may have been so situated, with the regard to the battlefield, as to be more easily accessible by a descent to the plain of the Jordan, than over the hills themselves. Or the word may signify (as Ewald explains) a manner of quick running [Stanley]. The way of the plain was the smoother and easier, though the longer way.

But howsoever (said he) let me run,.... Be it as it may, I beg I may have leave; and being so very importunate, it was granted:

and he said unto him, run; since he would take no denial:

then Ahimaaz ran by the way of the plain, and overran Cushi; who ran by the way of the mountains; which though the shorter way, that through the plain was easiest, and soonest run, though the longest.

But howsoever, said he, let me run. And he said unto him, Run. Then Ahimaaz ran by the way of the plain, and overran Cushy.
23. by the way of the plain] “The plain” (Heb. kikkar) is the technical term for the floor of the valley through which the Jordan runs. In our ignorance of the exact position of the battlefield, we cannot trace the routes taken by the rival runners with certainty. But in all probability what is meant is that Ahimaaz struck down into the Jordan valley, and ran by a longer but easier route to Mahanaim, while the Cushite took the direct but more difficult route over the hills.

Verse 23. - Ahimaaz ran by the way of the plain; Hebrew, the kikkar, or Jordan valley. The battle, as we saw in ver. 6, was fought on the eastern side of the river, and Absalom's army, in their flight, would endeavour to reach the fords of the Jordan (comp. Judges 12:5); and probably Joab had pursued them for some distance before the man found in the thicket the body of the unfortunate Absalom. The large slaughter of twenty thousand men (ver. 7) proves that the defeated rebels were vigorously followed. In carrying the news he evidently went back by the route which the troops had followed; while Ahimaaz took a longer course to the west, but one that avoided the tangles and the deep defiles of the forest. Strictly, the Kikkar, as we have seen, was the name of the Jordan valley near Jericho; but it was probably applicable also to the same sort of formation further north. On approaching Mahanaim, Ahimaaz would strike inland, and the two routes would join one another; and one reason which made Ahimaaz go more to the west was that he did net wish the Cushite to know that he had a rival. He would thus go at a steady pace, picking his way through the forest, while Ahimaaz was using his utmost speed. 2 Samuel 18:23As Ahimaaz still expressed a wish to hasten to the king, even after Cushi had been sent, and could not be induced to relinquish his purpose by the repeated expostulations of Joab, the latter at length permitted him to run. And he ran so fast, that he got before Cushi. מה ויהי: let whatever will happen. וּלכה is the pronoun "to thee," as in Genesis 27:37, and not the imperative of הלך, "thou mayest go." The meaning is, "and there is no striking message for thee," no message that strikes the mark, or affects anything. We must supply "he said" in thought before 2 Samuel 18:23. There was the less necessity to write it here (as in 1 Samuel 1:20), since it is perfectly obvious from the repetition of מה ויהי that it is Ahimaaz who is speaking. Ahimaaz then ran by the way of the plain, i.e., the way which lies through or across the plain of the Jordan. Now he could not possibly have taken this road, if the battle had been fought in a wood on the eastern side of the Jordan, and he had wanted to hurry from the scene of battle to Mahanaim; for in that case he would have taken a circuitous route two or three times the distance of the straight road, so that it would have been utterly impossible for him to get there before the Cushite, however quickly he might run. This notice therefore furnishes a decisive proof that the battle was fought upon the mountains of Ephraim, in the land to the west of the Jordan, since the straight road thence to Mahanaim would lie through the valley of the Jordan.
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