2 Samuel 18:3
But the people answered, You shall not go forth: for if we flee away, they will not care for us; neither if half of us die, will they care for us: but now you are worth ten thousand of us: therefore now it is better that you succor us out of the city.
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(3) Now thou art worth ten thousand of us.—The Hebrew text reads now, but without thou, and as it stands must be translated, now there are ten thousand like us; but the change of a single letter alters the word now into thou, and this change should unquestionably be made in accordance with the LXX. and Vulg., followed by the English. The people urge truly that David is the very centre of their whole cause, and suggest that, even while avoiding unnecessary exposure, he may yet be equally helpful by keeping a reserve in the city to help them in case of need.

18:1-8 How does David render good for evil! Absalom would have only David smitten; David would have only Absalom spared. This seems to be a resemblance of man's wickedness towards God, and God's mercy to man, of which it is hard to say which is most amazing. Now the Israelites see what it is to take counsel against the Lord and his anointed.Succour us out of the city - David, with a reserve, would hold the city, and either support the bands in case of need, or receive them within the walls should they be compelled to flee. CHAPTER 18

2Sa 18:1-4. David Reviewing the Armies.

1, 2. David numbered the people that were with him—The hardy mountaineers of Gilead came in great numbers at the call of their chieftains, so that, although without money to pay any troops, David soon found himself at the head of a considerable army. A pitched battle was now inevitable. But so much depending on the life of the king, he was not allowed to take the field in person; and he therefore divided his forces into three detachments under Joab, Abishai, and Ittai, the commander of the foreign guards.

Thou shalt not go forth; for this was Absalom’s great error, into which he was drawn by a Divine infatuation, and by Hushai’s craft, to go to battle in his own person, which was the utter ruin of him and of his cause.

Thou art worth ten thousand of us; not only for the dignity of thy person, but also for the importance of our common cause and concern, which, if thou art slain, is irrecoverably lost.

That thou succour us out of the city, by sending us supplies of men, and provisions of all sorts, as we have occasion; and by securing our retreat, if we be defeated. Or thus, Not go along to the battle with us, but only go out with us, or accompany us out of the city, (to encourage the company,) slid then retire for thy own safety. And so it seems by the next verse. But the people answered, thou shalt not go forth,.... They were as resolute as David:

for if we flee away, they will not care for us; to pursue after us:

neither if half of us die, will they care for us; they will make no account of the victory; but if they could slay David, or get him into their hands, it would be more to them than if the whole army was routed:

but now thou art worth ten thousand of us; not only in our own esteem, but in the account of the enemy, who had rather thou shouldest fall into their hands than ten thousand of us; and as the advantage to them, so the loss to us would be more than ten thousand men:

therefore now it is better that thou succour us out of the city; either by sending them provisions or recruits, that might be there in reserve, if necessary; or by being ready to receive them into it should they be repulsed; or rather by his prayers to God for them; so the Targum,"now it is better that thou pray for us out of the city;''that is, that the Lord would help us; and so most of the Jewish commentators understand it of helping them by his prayers and counsels.

But the people answered, Thou shalt not go forth: for if we flee away, they will not care for us; neither if half of us die, will they care for us: but {b} now thou art worth ten thousand of us: therefore now it is better that thou succour us out of the city.

(b) Signifying that a good governor is so dear to his people that they would rather lose their lives than have anything happen to him.

3. Thou shalt not go forth] Compare the protest of David’s followers on an earlier occasion (ch. 2 Samuel 21:17).

but now thou art worth ten thousand of us] As the Heb. text stands it must be rendered, and now there are ten thousand like us; but, it is implied, none besides like thee. But if we follow the Sept. and Vulg. in reading thou for now, the sense will be that given by the E. V., which seems best.

that thou succour us out of the city] By sending reinforcements, and securing their retreat in case of a defeat.Verse 3. - It is better that thou succour us out of the city. David thought it to be his duty to go out with the men who were risking their lives in his cause, but they felt not only how painful it would be for a father to fight against his son; but also that there would certainly be a picked body of men who would try to bring the battle to a rapid end by slaying David. But while they partly urge personal considerations, their chief argument is that David would be of more use if, posted with a body of troops at the city, he held himself in reserve to succour any division that might be in danger. And David, seeing how earnest their wish was, yielded to this representation, feeling that it would give steadiness to his men if they knew that so experienced a general was watching the fight, and was ready to succour them if they needed aid. As the people say that it would not matter "if half of us die," and that David "is worth ten thousand of us," Ewald draws the reasonable conclusion that their whole number was about twenty thousand men. The Hebrew literally is, "For now (attah) as us are ten thousand," which might mean, "There are ten thousand such as we are, but no one like thee." But the Septuagint and Vulgate read, "But thou (attah) art as ten thousand of us." The Syriac, however, like the Hebrew, reads "now." Absalom 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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