And Mephibosheth the son of Saul came down to meet the king, and had neither dressed his feet, nor trimmed his beard, nor washed his clothes, from the day the king departed until the day he came again in peace.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Came down to meet.—The obvious meaning of this is that Mephibosheth came down from the high land of Jerusalem to meet the king in the Jordan valley, and in this case the following verse should be translated, “And it came to pass when Jerusalem” (meaning its inhabitants, with Mephibosheth among them) “was come to meet the king.” Some writers, however, prefer to keep 2Samuel 19:25 as it is, and to suppose that during the rebellion Mephibosheth had taken refuge on his ancestral estate near the heights of Gibeah, and that he came thence to Jerusalem to meet David. In either case the signs of deep mourning used by Mephibosheth “from the day the king departed” were an evidence of his loyalty. The word for beard is used only for the moustache.2 Samuel 19:24. Mephibosheth the son of Saul — That is, the grandson, 2 Samuel 4:4. Had neither dressed his feet — Neither washed them, which in those hot climates was usual and very refreshing; nor cut the nails of his toes, but let them grow, as he did his beard, which he had not trimmed nor taken any care of, but suffered to become very long and disorderly. Nor washed his clothes — His linen clothes. He had wholly neglected himself, as persons were wont to do in a time of public sorrow. From the day the king departed — This long-continued mourning argued him to be really afflicted for the king’s exile, and was evidence sufficient of the falsehood of Ziba’s relation concerning him, 2 Samuel 16:3.
He had neither dressed his feet—not taken the bath,
nor trimmed his beard—The Hebrews cut off the hair on the upper lip (see on Le 13:45), and cheeks, but carefully cherished it on the chin from ear to ear. Besides dyeing it black or red colors, which, however, is the exception, and not the rule in the East, there are various modes of trimming it: they train it into a massy, bushy form, swelling and round; or they terminate it like a pyramid, in a sharp point. Whatever the mode, it is always trimmed with the greatest care; and they usually carry a small comb for the purpose. The neglect of this attention to his beard was an undoubted proof of the depth of Mephibosheth's grief. The king seems to have received him upbraidingly, and not to have been altogether sure either of his guilt or innocence. It is impossible to commend the cavalier treatment, any more than to approve the partial award, of David in this case. If he were too hurried and distracted by the pressure of circumstances to inquire fully into the matter, he should have postponed his decision; for if by "dividing the land" (2Sa 19:29) he meant that the former arrangement should be continued by which Mephibosheth was acknowledged the proprietor, and Ziba the farmer, it was a hardship inflicted on the owner to fix him with a tenant who had so grossly slandered him. But if by "dividing the land," they were now to share alike, the injustice of the decision was greatly increased. In any view, the generous, disinterested spirit displayed by Mephibosheth was worthy a son of the noble-hearted Jonathan.The son of Saul, i.e. the grandson, 2 Samuel 9:3,6.
Had neither dressed his feet; by cutting his nails, and by washing his feet, which was usual in those hot climates, and very refreshing; and therefore now neglected, as becoming a mourner.
Nor trimmed his beard; but suffered it to grow very long and disorderly, as was usual with many persons in a forlorn or mournful state.
Nor washed his clothes; his linen clothes. This and the former were signs that he was a true and obstinate mourner, that laid aside his usual refreshments; and they are here mentioned as evidences of the falsehood of Ziba’s former relation concerning him, 2 Samuel 16:3.
and had neither dressed his feet; had not cut his nails, as the Septuagint adds, his toenails; or rather had not washed his feet, as the Targum paraphrases it; which was frequently done in those countries, partly for refreshment, and partly to remove the filth of them contracted by walking barefooted, or only with sandals; as also because of the ill smell of them, which was offensive:
nor trimmed his beard; or shaved his upper lip, and took no care that the hair of his chin should be in any order; otherwise that was never shaved, to do it would be contrary to the law in Leviticus 19:27,
nor washed his clothes; his linen clothes, his shirts, or any other that used to be washed; or "whitened" them, as the Targum, he had not sent them, his woollen clothes, to the fuller, to get out the spots, and whiten them. All these were tokens of mourning, and showed him to be a sincere mourner for the king's departure, and the trouble he was in, since it was so long continued:And Mephibosheth the son of Saul came down to meet the king, and had neither dressed his feet, nor trimmed his beard, nor washed his clothes, from the day the king departed until the day he came again in peace.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
24. had neither dressed his feet, &c.] The neglect of his person, the unwashed feet, the untrimmed moustache, the soiled garments, were outward signs of extreme grief. Cp. ch. 2 Samuel 12:20; Ezekiel 24:17. The Sept. adds “nor trimmed his nails,” after “dressed his feet” (see Deuteronomy 21:12), but the words are perhaps only a duplicate rendering of the Hebrew.
beard] Properly moustache. The word occurs elsewhere only in connexion with the custom of covering the upper lip or moustache in mourning. See Leviticus 13:45; Ezekiel 24:17; Ezekiel 24:22; Micah 3:7.Verse 24. - Mephibosheth. The meeting of David and Mephibosheth possibly took place at Jerusalem (see on ver. 25), and, if so, the order of events is not chronological. Ziba certainly came to the Jordan fords, and the narrative may have been introduced here to complete the account of his doings. In neglecting his person and his dress, Mephibosheth was showing signs of heartfelt sorrow, and as he thus mourned during Absalom's tenure of power, it exposed him to the usurper's displeasure, and was a public avowal that his sympathies were with David. And his treatment was unjust; but David was in a strait. Ziba had been actively useful to him in his flight, and had also aided greatly in his recall. It was, probably, even owing to his influence that Shimei came with a thousand men of Benjamin. He deserved, therefore, a reward, but not at his master's cost. His beard; Hebrew, the upper lip (see Leviticus 13:45; Ezekiel 24:17, 22). 2 Samuel 9:10); and they went over the Jordan before the king, viz., through a ford, and the ferry-boat had crossed over to carry over the king's family, and to do whatever seemed good to him, i.e., to be placed at the king's sole disposal. And Shimei fell down before the king, בּעברו, i.e., "when he (David) was about to cross over the Jordan," not "when Shimei had crossed over the Jordan;" for after what has just been stated, such a remark would be superfluous: moreover, it is very doubtful whether the infinitive with בּ can express the sense of the pluperfect. Shimei said, "Let not my lord impute to me any crime, and do not remember how thy servant hath sinned."
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