2 Samuel 20:8
When they were at the great stone which is in Gibeon, Amasa went before them. And Joab's garment that he had put on was girded unto him, and upon it a girdle with a sword fastened upon his loins in the sheath thereof; and as he went forth it fell out.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(8) Went before.—Translate, met. (Comp. Note on 2Samuel 19:6.)

As he went forth it fell out.—The object of this verse is to explain how Joab, in consequence of the arrangement of his dress, was able to stab Amasa without his purpose being suspected. He had a girdle bound round his military coat, and in this he had stuck a dagger so arranged that it might fall out as he advanced. He then picked this up naturally in his left hand, and stretching out his right hand to greet Amasa, his movements gave rise to no suspicion.

2 Samuel 20:8. Amasa went before them — As their commander-in-chief. Having gathered some forces, and given due orders for the rest to follow him, he returned to Jerusalem, and by the king’s command went after those mentioned 2 Samuel 20:7, and being come up to them at the place where they waited for him, he put himself at the head of Joab’s men, and the Cherethites and the Pelethites, and such as he had brought along with him, and marched before them as their general. Joab’s garment was girded unto him — After the manner of travellers and soldiers: for he had now no armour on, but only such a garment as soldiers wore, closely girt to him. Upon it a girdle with a sword — A belt, in which a sword hung by his side. As he went forth — To meet and salute Amasa, who was coming toward him to do him honour; it fell out — Having, probably, been designedly so hung by Joab, that upon some particular motion of his body, it might drop out of the sheath, and he might take it up without awaking Amasa’s suspicion.

20:4-13 Joab barbarously murdered Amasa. The more plot there is in a sin, the worse it is. Joab contentedly sacrificed the interest both of the king and the kingdom to his personal revenge. But one would wonder with what face a murderer could pursue a traitor; and how, under such a load of guilt, he had courage to enter upon danger: his conscience was seared.Amasa went before them - Rather, "advanced to meet them." Amasa was no doubt returning to Jerusalem, according to his orders 2 Samuel 20:4, and was probably much surprised to meet the army in march. Joab's resolution was quickly taken.

And Joab's garment ... - Render, "And Joab was girded with his military garment, as his clothing, and upon it" - i. e., the military garment - (or "him"), "the girdle of a sword fastened on his loins in its sheath, and as he went forth" (to meet Amasa) "it fell" out of the sheath. What appears to have happened is that, by accident or design, Joab's sword fell out of the scabbard on the ground as he was going to meet Amasa, and that he picked it up with his left hand so as to have his right hand free for the customary salutation 2 Samuel 20:9. This awakened no suspicion in Amasa's mind. Compare the case of Ehud, Judges 3:21.

8. Amasa went before them—Having collected some forces, he by a rapid march overtook the expedition at Gibeon, and assumed the place of commander; in which capacity, he was saluted, among others, by Joab.

Joab's garment, that he had put on was girded unto him—in the fashion of travellers and soldiers.

a sword … and as he went forth it fell out—that is, out of the scabbard. According to Josephus, he let it drop on purpose as he was accosting Amasa, that stooping, as it were accidentally, to pick it up, he might salute the new general with the naked sword in his hand, without exciting any suspicion of his design.

He went forth—in a ceremonious manner to meet Amasa, now commander-in-chief, in order to seem to render to that officer, whom he considered as usurping his post, a conspicuous honor and homage.

Amasa went before them; having gathered some forces, and given due orders for the rest to follow him, he returned to Jerusalem, and by the king’s command went after those mentioned 2 Samuel 20:7; and being come up to them at the place where they waited for him, he put himself into the head of Joab’s men, and the Cherethites and the Pelethites, and such as he had brought along with him, and marched before them as their chief and general.

Girded unto him, after the manner of travellers and soldiers.

As he went forth to meet and salute Amasa, who was coming towards him to do him honour.

It fell out; things having (it is likely) been so contrived by Joab, that upon the least motion of his body his sword should drop out, and he might take it up without raising Amasa’s suspicion.

When they were at the great stone which is in Gibeon,.... Which, according to Josephus (r), was forty furlongs, or five miles from Jerusalem: what this great stone was, whether an obelisk, or what, is not certain; one of the greatest stones we read of was that which Semiramis cut out of the mountains of Armenia, which was an hundred thirty feet long, and twenty five broad and thick (s). This place was appointed for the rendezvous of David's forces, and hither Amasa came with what he had assembled together, and joined them, and took the command of them: for it follows:

Amasa went before them; as the general of them:

and Joab's garment that he had put on was girded unto him; who went along with his brother Abishai at the head of his own men, to which he was obliged by virtue of his commission; or went of himself to serve the common cause, and perhaps chiefly with a design to murder Amasa, whom he envied, because he was put into his post as general, and therefore accoutred himself for it; he put on, not a coat of mail, but a common garment which he girt about him, that it might be no incumbrance to him or hinderance of him, in doing what he intended, but that he might more expeditiously execute it:

and upon it a girdle with a sword fastened upon his loins in the sheath thereof; the sword in the belt was not on his thigh, but on his loins, on the outside of his clothes, and was put into a sheath too large, and placed in such a position, that with the least motion, when he pleased, it would easily drop out of it, without drawing it, and so give no suspicion of his design:

and as he went forth; to meet Amasa, just as he came to him:

it fell out; the sword fell out of the sheath to the ground.

(r) Antiqu. l. 7. c. 11. sect. 7. (s) Diodor. Sic. l. 2. p. 100. Vid. ib. p. 53. Herodot. Euterpe, c. 111.

When they were at the great stone which is in Gibeon, Amasa went before them. And Joab's {g} garment that he had put on was girded unto him, and upon it a girdle with a sword fastened upon his loins in the sheath thereof; and as he went forth it fell out.

(g) Which was his coat, that he used to wear in the wars.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
8. the great stone which is in Gibeon] Some isolated rock, well known as a landmark.

went before them] Lit. came before them, i.e. met them, apparently as he was returning to Jerusalem, after raising an army in Benjamin as well as in Judah.

And Joab’s garment, &c.] This description of Joab’s dress is intended to explain how he contrived to stab Amasa without his design being suspected. In the girdle which he wore over his military dress was stuck a dagger. As he met Amasa he contrived to let this fall out of its sheath on the ground. He picked it up in his left hand, and the movement being apparently purely accidental, excited no alarm in Amasa’s mind.

as he went forth it fell out] As he went out to meet Amasa. But it does not appear whence Joab went out, and the words may also be rendered, and it (the sheath) came out (from the girdle), and it (the sword) fell down. The Sept. has a simpler reading, involving a slight change in the Heb. text: and the sword came out and fell down.

Verse 8. - The great stone which is in Gibeon. Gibeon is situated in the mountains of Ephraim, in the tribe of Benjamin, northwest of Jerusalem. The great stone was probably some isolated rock well known in the neighbourhood. Amasa went before them; Hebrew, Amasa came before them; that is, came in view with the levy of men he had raised in Judah. And Joab's garment, etc.; more correctly, and Joab was girded with his military coat as his garment, and over it was the strap of his sword in its sheath, and it (masculine, equivalent to "the sheath") came out, and it (feminine, equivalent to "the sword") fell. This change of gender is very harsh, and has caused the Authorized Version to apply the masculine verb to Joab, and translate, and as he went forth it fell; but a very slight change, supported by the Septuagint, gives us a more satisfactory sense, namely, and it (the sword) came out and fell. It is generally assumed that all this was arranged beforehand on Joab's part, who had so placed his sword that he could shake it out of the sheath. More probably it was an accident, of which he took instant advantage. He had felt that his position was insecure, and that if David had the support of Amasa, and a powerful band of the men of Judah at Jerusalem, he would probably order his execution for slaying Absalom; and Amasa would carry out the command willingly enough, as he thereby would secure the high position offered him. We know David's feelings towards Joab from his dying command to Solomon (1 Kings 2:5), and probably he had given various indications of his deep seated resentment. Joab, therefore, determined to stop Amasa's growth in power, and also to give David a rough lesson. And this accident gave him an early opportunity, which he used with ruthless energy. 2 Samuel 20:8"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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