2 Samuel 20:15
And they came and besieged him in Abel of Bethmaachah, and they cast up a bank against the city, and it stood in the trench: and all the people that were with Joab battered the wall, to throw it down.
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(15)Abel of Beth-maachah.—Omit the preposition “of.” (See 2Samuel 20:14.)

Stood in the trench.—The “trench” is the space between the wall of the city and the lower outer wall. When the besiegers had succeeded in planting the mounds for their battering engines in this space they had already gained an important advantage.

2 Samuel 20:15. They came and besieged him — Joab and his army pursued him thither. And cast up a bank — They raised a very large mound of earth, equal, probably, to the height of the walls, from whence they might either batter the walls, or throw darts, or shoot at those that defended them. It stood in the trench — This bank or mound was carried on so far, that it now stood in or near to the trench and foot of the wall; so that the city was in great danger of being taken.

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.Cast up a bank - See the marginal references. The throwing up of mounds against the walls of besieged places by the besiegers is well illustrated in the Assyrian sculptures.

The trench - The "pomoerium," or fortified space outside the wall. When the mound was planted in the pomoerium the battering engines were able to approach close to the wall to make a breach.

15. Abel of Beth-maachah—a verdant place—the addition of "Maachah" betokening that it belonged to the district Maachah, which lay far up the Jordan at the foot of Lebanon. They came, i.e. Joab and his army, which is easily understood, both from the foregoing and following verses.

They cast up a bank; from whence they might either batter the wall, or shoot at those who defended it against them who should assault it. See 2 Kings 19:32 Jeremiah 32:24 33:4. Otherwise, they threw down the bank of the city, which they had raised up to defend the city on the weakest side.

It stood in the trench, i.e. the bank stood in or near to the trench, or wall of the city; so that the city was in great danger of being taken. Otherwise, the city stood within the trench, or wall, being defended only by a single trench, or a weak wall; the bank which was raised up there to defend it being thrown down.

And they came and besieged him in Abel of Bethmaachah,.... That is, Joab and Abishai, with the forces under them, who pursued him hither:

and they cast up a bank against the city; which some understand of a warlike machine or engine, with which stones were cast; but it rather seems to be a bank of earth thrown up, for the better working of such engines to more advantage against the city, by throwing from thence darts into the city, or stones against the walls of it, to batter it down; such banks were used in sieges, as that Caesar's soldiers raised in twenty five days, which was three hundred thirty feet broad, and eighty feet high (z); Kimchi interprets this of filling up the ditches round about the city with dust and earth, and so making it level, whereby they could come the more easily to the walls and batter them, or scale them, and take the city by storm:

and it stood in the trench; the army under Joab stood where the trench round the city had been, now filled up:

and all the people that were with Joab battered the wall to throw it down; with their engines, or whatever battering instruments they had; so, often, as Hesiod (a) says, a whole city suffers for one bad man.

(z) Caesar. Comment. l. 7. c. 24. (a) Opera & Dies, l. 1. ver. 236.

And they came and besieged him in Abel of Bethmaachah, and they cast up a bank against the city, and it stood in the trench: and all the people that were with Joab {k} battered the wall, to throw it down.

(k) That is, he went about to overthrow it.

15. cast up a bank] The besiegers erected a mound of earth against the city wall to enable them to batter the upper and weaker part of it. This stood in “the trench” or outwork of the city: a term which includes the low outer wall and the space between it and the main wall. For mention of siege mounds see 2 Kings 19:32; Isaiah 29:3; Jeremiah 6:6; Jeremiah 32:24; Jeremiah 33:4; Ezekiel 4:2; Ezekiel 17:17; Ezekiel 21:22; Ezekiel 26:8; Daniel 11:15. They are represented on the bas-reliefs depicting the siege of Lachish which were found at Kouyunjik. Layard’s Monuments of Nineveh, Vol. II. PI. 18, 21.

Verse 15. - It stood in the trench. This is a literal translation, and yet gives a wrong sense. The Hebrew "stood" means "rose up to," "stood level with;" and the "trench" is what in modern fortifications is called "the glacis," and includes the outer wall of defence. The Revised Version renders, "it stood against the rampart." The usual way of capturing cities in ancient times was to cast up a bank or mound of earth against them (Isaiah 29:3; Isaiah 37:33; Jeremiah 6:6); and Joab's work had advanced so far as to be level with the outer line of defence. The name of the city in the Hebrew is not Abel of Beth-Maachah, but Abel-beth-Maachah. Battered. This is a word taken from Roman warfare. The Hebrew says, "And all the people that were with Joab were destroying the wall to make it fall," most probably by undermining it. Ewald even asserts that this is the meaning of the verb, and translates, "were digging pits under the wall." The Revised Version adopts this for the margin, where it gives "undermined." The Septuagint and Chaldee have a different and probable reading, "And all Joab's people were devising (contriving) means to throw down the wall." This would be the next operation after the mound had been carried up to a level with it. 2 Samuel 20:15They besieged him (Sheba) in Abel-beth-maacah, and piled up a rampart against the city, so that it rose up by the town-moat (חל, the moat with the low wall belonging to it); and all the people with Joab destroyed to throw down the wall.
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