2 Samuel 19:29
And the king said unto him, Why speakest thou any more of thy matters? I have said, Thou and Ziba divide the land.
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(29) Divide the land.—When Ziba came to David with his false report about Mephibosheth, David had instantly transferred to him all his master’s possessions (2Samuel 16:4); he now saw the injustice of his hasty action, and ought at least to have reversed it, if not to have punished Ziba besides. Either, however, because he had still some doubt of the real merits of the case, or more probably because he was unwilling for political reasons to offend Ziba, he resorts to that halfway and compromise course which was both weak and unjust. The circumstances of the case, the continued mourning of Mephibosheth, the silence of Ziba, concur with the physical infirmity of Mephibosheth to show the truth of his story.

2 Samuel 19:29. Thou and Ziba divide the land — The land shall be divided between thee and him, according to my first order, chap. 2 Samuel 9:10; he and his sons managing it, and supporting themselves out of it, as they did before, and giving the rest of the profits thereof to thee. It is easy to perceive, from this answer of David, that he saw Mephibosheth’s innocence, and the error of his former credulity, and therefore could not bear to hear of it. But he had now no time to discuss the matter more fully: and, therefore, all that he could do for the present was to restore him to his estate, and leave both him and his accuser in their former condition, till he could inquire further. However Ziba might have been faulty toward Mephibosheth, he had been signally faithful and useful to David; and to condemn him unheard, as he had Mephibosheth, was to run the risk of a second rash decision; a decision that might be now as unseasonable as rash, while any rebellion subsisted in his dominions.

19:24-30 David recalls the forfeiture of Mephibosheth's estate; and he expressed joy for the king's return. A good man contentedly bears his own losses, while he sees Israel in peace, and the Son of David exalted.Unable to get to the bottom of the story, and perhaps unwilling to make an enemy of Ziba, David compromised the matter by dividing the land, thus partially revoking his hasty sentence 2 Samuel 16:4. We still see the impatient temper of David. 24-30. Mephibosheth … came down to meet the king—The reception given to Mephibosheth was less creditable to David. The sincerity of that prince's grief for the misfortunes of the king cannot be doubted.

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 [277]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.

Why speakest thou any more of thy matters? For as Ziba was present, so doubtless he was not silent, but said and did what he could to make good his former charge; which must needs occasion many words before the king. And the king was not now at leisure for long debates, and therefore makes an end of the matter.

I have said, to wit, within myself; I have considered the matter as far as now I can, and upon the whole am come to this resolution, wherein I expect that thou and he do both acquiesce. Or, I do now say; I pronounce this sentence in the cause.

Thou and Ziba divide the land: the meaning is either,

1. The land shall be divided between thee and him, as it was by my first order, 2 Samuel 9:10; he and his sons managing it, and supporting themselves out of it, as they did before, and giving the rest of the profits thereof to thee. And to this the following words may well enough be accommodated, Yea, let him take all, to wit, to his own sole use.

Or, 2. The right and profits of the land shall be equally divided between you. It seems a very rash and harsh sentence, and very unbecoming David’s wisdom, and justice, and gratitude to Jonathan; and Ziba seems to have deserved death for falsely accusing his master of treason, rather than a recompence. But the whole transaction of the matter is not here set down. Possibly Ziba might bring plausible pretences to justify his accusation; and it might be pretended that Mephibosheth neglected the trimming and dressing himself only in policy, and that for a season, till David and his family had destroyed one another by their civil wars, and given him a fit opportunity to take the crown. So that David might really be at a loss what to determine. And Ziba had given proof of his affections to David by an act of kindness which could not be without hazard to himself, 2 Samuel 16:1,2, which Mephibosheth had not done. And possibly this was only a present sentence, and David resolved to examine things more thoroughly when he had more leisure, and then to make a more full and final determination of the business; which also he might do, though it be not here recorded; for we must not think that nothing was done and said about such things but what is mentioned in Scripture. Besides, Ziba being a powerful man, and the crown not yet firmly fixed upon the king’s head, David might think fit to suspend his final sentence till a more convenient season, and not now to provoke him too much by taking away all his estate from him at once, but to proceed against him by degrees. Howsoever, this is certain, we cannot pass a right judgment upon this action of David’s, unless we understood all the circumstances of it, which we cannot pretend to do.

And the king said unto him, why speakest thou any more of thy matters?.... Of his father's family, and the injuries done by them to David, and of the benefits and favours which he had received from David, or of his temporal affairs, of his estate, which David had given away to Ziba:

I have said, thou and Ziba divide the land; revoking his last grant to Ziba, which gave him all that belonged to Mephibosheth, 2 Samuel 16:4; he established his first decree, that Ziba should have half the profit of the land for tilling it, and the other half be given to Mephibosheth; he did not choose to punish Ziba for slandering his master, being inclined to clemency and mercy, and determined to show no severity at that time; and might be in some fear of Ziba, being a considerable man, lest he should raise a new insurrection, if he bore hard upon him; besides, he might have a large share in his affection, having made a present to him in the time of his distress, and was one of the first that came to meet him upon his return, 2 Samuel 19:17.

And the king said unto him, Why speakest thou any more of thy matters? I have said, Thou and Ziba divide the {o} land.

(o) David did evil in taking his land from him before he knew the cause, but much worse, that knowing the truth, he did not restore them.

29. Thou and Ziba divide the land] This is usually supposed to be a compromise between the two claimants, either because David suspected the truth of Mephibosheth’s story, or because he was unwilling to alienate Ziba, and possibly a considerable party of Benjamites, by entirely revoking the grant to him (ch. 2 Samuel 16:4). But it may be a confirmation of the original arrangement by which Ziba was to be Mephibosheth’s tenant, and as he certainly did not cultivate the land for nothing, might be said to share it with him.

Verse 29. - Thou and Ziba divide the land. Two views are taken of this decision - the one, that it was a complete reversal of the command in 2 Samuel 16:4, placing matters upon the old footing, by which Ziba was to have half the produce for cultivating the estate; the other, and apparently the most correct view, is that Ziba was now made actual owner of half the land, and Mephibosheth, instead of a half, would henceforth have only a quarter of the crops. The decision was not equitable, and David speaks in a curt and hurried manner, as though vexed with himself for what he was doing. As a matter of fact, Ziba's treachery had been most useful to David. Besides the pleasure at the time of finding one man faithful, when "all men were liars" (Psalm 116:11), Ziba had been most active in bringing over the tribe of Benjamin to David's side; and though his motives were selfish and venal, yet, as the king reaped the benefit of his conduct, he was bound not to leave him without reward. 2 Samuel 19:29"And he (Ziba) slandered thy servant to my lord the king." Mephibosheth had not merely inferred this from David's words, and the tone in which they were spoken, but had certainly found it out long ago, since Ziba would not delay very long to put David's assurance, that all the possessions of Mephibosheth should belong to him, in force against his master, so that Mephibosheth would discover from that how Ziba had slandered him. "And my lord the king is as the angel of God," i.e., he sees all just as it really is (see at 2 Samuel 14:17); "and do what is good in thy sight: for all my father's house (the whole of my family) were but men of death against my lord the king (i.e., thou mightest have had us all put to death), and thou didst set thy servant among thy companions at table (see 2 Samuel 9:7, 2 Samuel 9:11); and what right or (what) more have I still to cry (for help) to the king?" The meaning is, "I cannot assert any claims, but will yield to anything you decide concerning me." It must have been very evident to David from these words of Mephibosheth, that he had been deceived by Ziba, and that he had formed an unfounded prejudice against Mephibosheth, and committed an act of injustice in handing over his property to Ziba. He therefore replied, in evident displeasure (2 Samuel 19:29), "Why talkest thou still of thine affairs? I have said, thou and Ziba shall divide the field?" to which Mephibosheth answered (2 Samuel 19:30), "He may take the whole, since my lord the king has returned in peace to his own house." This reply shows very clearly that an injustice had been done to Mephibosheth, even if it is not regarded as an expression of wounded feeling on the part of Mephibosheth because of David's words, but, according to the view taken by Seb. Schmidt and others, as a vindication of himself, as said not to blame the king for the opinion he had formed, but simply to defend himself. But this completely overthrows the opinion held by Thenius and O. v. Gerlach, that David's words in 2 Samuel 19:30 contain nothing more than a revocation of his hasty declaration in 2 Samuel 16:4, and a confirmation of his first decision in 2 Samuel 9:7-10, and are to be understood as signifying, "Let everything be as I settled it at first; hold the property jointly," inasmuch as Ziba and his sons had of course obtained their living from the produce of the land. Moreover, the words "thou and Ziba divide the land" are directly at variance with the promise in 2 Samuel 9:7, "I will restore thee all the land of Saul thy father," and the statement in 2 Samuel 9:9, "I have given unto thy master's son all that pertained to Saul, and to all his house." By the words, "I have said, thou and Ziba divide the land," David retracted the hasty decree in 2 Samuel 16:4, so as to modify to some extent the wrong that he had done to Mephibosheth, but he had not courage enough to retract it altogether. He did not venture to dispute the fact that Mephibosheth had really been calumniated by Ziba, which was placed beyond all doubt by his mourning during the whole period of David's flight, as described in 2 Samuel 19:24. There is no ground for Winer's statement, therefore, that "it is impossible now to determine whether Mephibosheth was really innocent or not."
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