2 Samuel 20:14
And he went through all the tribes of Israel to Abel, and to Bethmaachah, and all the Berites: and they were gathered together, and went also after him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(14) Unto Abel, and to Beth-maachah.—Abel has been identified with the modern Christian village of Abil (called “Abil-el-Kamh,” on account of the excellence of its wheat (north-west of Lake Huleh). It is called “Abel-Beth-maachah,” in 2Samuel 20:15 (the “of” should be omitted), and is spoken of under that name in 1Kings 15:20 and 2Kings 15:29 in connection with Ijon and Dan, and in the same connection is called “Abel-maim” (“Abel of waters”) in 2Chronicles 16:4, to distinguish it from other places of the same name. It was at the extreme north of the land.

All the Berites.—Apparently a family, or clan, in the north of Israel, otherwise entirely unknown. The LXX. and Vulg. here apparently follow a different text. The Bishop of Bath and Wells supposes the Hebrew word to be a form of the word for “fortresses,” but no such form is known.

2 Samuel 20:14. He went through all the tribes — That is, Sheba, who marched from tribe to tribe to stir them up to sedition. Unto Abel, and to Beth- maachah — Or rather, unto Abel-beth-maachah, as this place is called in the Hebrew text of the next verse, to distinguish it from other Abels, and to signify that this was that Abel which was in the northern border of Canaan, toward that part of Syria called Maachah, 2 Samuel 10:8. In this city Sheba at last fixed himself, and resolved to defend it, being unable, it is likely, to raise such an army as to keep the field. All the Berites — The inhabitants of the city and territory of Beroth of Benjamin, Joshua 18:25; who, being of the same tribe, if not of the same city with Sheba, adhered to him, and followed him through all the tribes of Israel.20:14-22 Justly is that place attacked, which dares to harbour a traitor; nor will the heart fare better which indulges rebellious lusts, that will not have Christ to reign over them. A discreet woman, by her prudent management, satisfied Joab, and yet saved the city. Wisdom is not confined to rank or sex; it consists not in deep knowledge; but in understanding how to act as matters arise, that troubles may be turned away and benefits secured. A great deal of mischief would be prevented, if contending parties would understand one another. Let both sides be undeceived. The single condition of peace is, the surrender of the traitor. It is so in God's dealing with the soul, when besieged by conviction and distress; sin is the traitor; the beloved lust is the rebel: part with that, cast away the transgression, and all shall be well. There is no peace on any other terms.Abel - More commonly called 2 Samuel 20:15 "Abel-Beth-maachah" to distinguish it from other places of the name of "Abel" (a grassy plain). It is represented by the modern Abil-el-Kamh, a Christian village on the northwest of lake Huleh, the ancient Merom. Compare 2 Chronicles 16:4, "Abel-maim," Abel by the water.

And all the Berites - What this means is utterly unknown. Many approve of the reading of the Latin Version, connecting it with what follows: "And all the choice young men mustered and followed him."

2Sa 20:14, 15. Joab Pursues Sheba unto Abel.

14. he went through all the tribes of Israel unto Abel—beating up for recruits. But there the prompt marches of Joab overtook and hemmed him in by a close siege of the place.

He went; either,

1. Joab, who pursued Sheba through all the tribes as far as Abel. Or rather,

2. Sheba, who was last mentioned, who marched from tribe to tribe to stir them up to sedition; and to him the following words seem best to agree.

Unto Abel, and to Beth-aachah, or rather, to Abel, even to Beth-maachah, i.e. unto Abel-beth-maachah, as this place is called here in the Hebrew text, 2 Samuel 20:15 1 Kings 15:20 2 Kings 15:29, to distinguish it from other Abels; and to signify that this was that Abel which was in the tribe of Naphtali in the northern border of Canaan, towards that part of Syria called Maachah, 2 Samuel 10:8.

The Berites; such as lived in the city or territory of Beeroth of Benjamin, Joshua 18:25, who being of the same tribe, if not city, with Sheba, and his greatest acquaintance and friends, or being most implacable against David, adhered to Sheba, and followed him through all the tribes of Israel.

They were gathered together, to wit, the tribes of Israel, i. e. a considerable number of them; as might well be expected, when the discontents were so high and general.

After him, i.e. after Sheba. And he went through all the tribes of Israel,.... That is, Sheba the son of Bichri, last mentioned, 2 Samuel 20:13, who passed through all the tribes of Israel to get as many to be of his party as he could, and to be proclaimed their king; or finding himself pursued, he passed on as fast as he could from place to place, through all the tribes, until at length he fixed for safety in a place later named; though Josephus (w) understands this of Joab pursuing Sheba through all the tribes of Israel with the forces under him; and to this sense the Syriac and Arabic versions, and so R. Isaiah interprets it; but the first sense is more generally received, that Sheba is meant, who passing through various tribes, came

unto Abel, and unto Bethmaachah; which were two places very near one another, if not one and the same place; since Abel is in 2 Samuel 20:15 called Abel of Bethmaachah, to distinguish it from any other place: it was a city that lay to the north of Israel near Syria; and from 2 Kings 15:29, it appears to be in the tribe of Naphtali. There was one city of this name of Abel, six miles from Philadelphia, another twelve miles from Gadara, and a third between Paneas and Damascus, which, of the three, Reland thinks (x), is most eligible to be the place here meant; though he rather chooses to look for it in Galilee, to the west or south of Paneas, than to the east or north in the way to Damascus; and so Adrichomius (y) calls it a city of upper Galilee, sixty furlongs or seven and an half miles from Jordan; and though he also places it in the tribe of Naphtali, in the plain of the country of Berim (from whence perhaps were the Berites next mentioned), not far from Caesarea Philippi; see 1 Kings 15:20,

and all the Berites; the inhabitants of Beeroth, in the tribe of Benjamin, of which tribe Sheba was, they followed him hither, as in the next clause:

and they were gathered together, and went also after him; unto Abel; of these, see Joshua 18:25; though perhaps these Berim or Berites were nearer to Abel; or rather that was in their country, as has been observed by Adrichomius.

(w) Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 7. c. 11. sect. 7.) (x) Palestina Illustrata, tom. 2. p. 519. (y) Theatrum Terrae S. p. 101.

And he went through all the tribes of Israel unto Abel, and to {i} Bethmaachah, and all the Berites: and they were gathered together, and went also after him.

(i) To the city Abel, which was near Bethmaachah.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
14–22. Sheba besieged in Abel-Beth-Maachah

14. And he went] Joab marched rapidly northward, gathering forces as he went.

unto Abel, and to Beth-maachah] Abel was apparently near Beth-Maachah, which is not elsewhere mentioned as a distinct place, and was commonly called Abel-beth-Maachah to distinguish it from other places named Abel (= meadow). It was also known as Abel Maim = meadow of waters (2 Chronicles 16:4). It was one of the towns which fell a prey to Benhadad (1 Kings 15:20), and afterwards to Tiglath-pileser (2 Kings 15:29). The name Maachah may point to some connexion with the Syrian kingdom of that name (ch. 2 Samuel 10:6). Its site is supposed to be marked by the village of Abil, about twelve miles north of Lake Huleh, the ancient Waters of Merom.

all the Berites] If the text is sound, Berim or the Berites must be the name of a district or people in northern Palestine otherwise unknown to us. But perhaps following the Vulg. and the indications of the Sept. we should read and all the chosen men were gathered together.Verse 14. - And he went through, etc. It was not Joab, but Sheba, who, by David's prompt action, was compelled to make a rapid retreat, seeking help in vain from tribe after tribe, but rejected of all, and unable to make any defence until he had reached the extreme north of the land of Israel. Unto Abel, and to Beth-Maachah. The conjunction probably ought to be omitted, as the proper name of the place, is Abel-beth-Maachah, and it is so given in ver. 15 (see below), and in 1 Kings 15:20; 2 Kings 15:29. It is the place called Abel-Maim, the "water meadow," in 2 Chronicles 16:4 - an abel being a place where the grass grows rankly from the abundance of springs. It thus forms part of the name of various places, as Abel-Mizraim (Genesis 1:11), Abel-Meholah (1 Kings 4:12), etc. Abel-beth-Maachah was a fortress in the most northerly part of the tribe of Naphtali, and is identified with the modern village of Abel, a few miles above Lake Huleh, the ancient "Waters of Merom." And all the Berites. No place or people of this name can be found, but Jerome, when translating the Vulgate, had before him a different reading, which seems clearly right, "And all the chosen men of war were gathered together, and went after him." "When they were by the great stone at Gibeon, and Amasa came to meet them (there), Joab was girded with his armour-coat as his clothing, and the girdle of the sword was bound over it upon his loins in its sheath, which came out, and it fell (i.e., the sheath came out of the sword-belt in which it was fastened, and the sword fell to the ground), Joab said to Amasa," etc. The eighth verse contains only circumstantial clauses, the latter of which (from ויואב onwards) are subordinate to the earlier ones, so that ויּאמר (2 Samuel 20:9) is attached to the first clause, which describes the meeting between the advancing army and Amasa.

There is something striking, however, in the fact that Joab appears among them, and indeed, as we see from what follows, as the commander of the forces; for according to 2 Samuel 20:6, David had commissioned Abishai, Joab's brother, to pursue Sheba, and even in 2 Samuel 20:7 Joab's men only are mentioned. This difficulty can hardly be solved in any other manner than by the simple assumption that David had told Abishai to go out with Joab, and that this circumstance is passed over in the brief account in 2 Samuel 20:6, in which the principal facts alone are given, and consequently the name of Joab does not occur there. Clericus adopts the following explanation. "Mention," he says, "has hitherto been made simply of the command given to Abishai, but this included an order to Joab to go as well; and there is nothing to preclude the supposition that Joab's name was mentioned by the king, although this is not distinctly stated in the brief account before us."

(Note: This difficulty cannot be removed by emendations of the text, inasmuch as all the early translators, with the exception of the Syriac, had our Hebrew text before them. Thenius does indeed propose to alter Abishai into Joab in 2 Samuel 20:6, after the example of Josephus and the Syriac; but, as Bttcher observes, if Joab had originally formed part of the text, it could not have been altered into Abishai either accidentally or intentionally, and the Syriac translators and Josephus have inserted Joab merely from conjecture, because they inferred from what follows that Joab's name ought to be found here. But whilst this is perfectly true, there is no ground for Bttcher's own conjecture, that in the original text 2 Samuel 20:6 read as follows: "Then David said to Joab, Behold, the three days are gone: shall we wait for Amasa?" and through the copyist's carelessness a whole line was left out. For this conjecture has no tenable support in the senseless reading of the Cod. Vat., πρὸς Ἀμεσσαΐ́ for Ἀβισαΐ́.)

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