And Joab said to Amasa, Are you in health, my brother? And Joab took Amasa by the beard with the right hand to kiss him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)2 Samuel 20:9. Joab took Amasa by the beard — As the manner of ancient times was when they saluted one another, and, it appears, is still a custom among some of the eastern people, who take one another by the chin or the beard when they would give a hearty salute. Thevenot says it is often done among the Turks, although at the same time he assures us it is a great affront to take one by the beard on any other account than to kiss him.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.
art thou in health, my brother? this looked like a friendly salutation to ask of his health, and wish him it, and a loving appellation to call him brother; though they were near of kin, sisters' children, and so own cousins; thus he addressed him, to cover his design:
and Joab took Amasa by the beard with his right hand to kiss him: as was usual for the eastern people to do when they addressed and saluted one another in an affectionate way, and as the Turks and Arabs do to this day, as travellers relate. Barthius (t) has collected passages from the Greek poets, which show it to be a custom, that when a man asked a favour of another, he caught hold of his beard with the right hand, and of his knee with the left; and in such a posture Joab might easily do what follows.And Joab said to Amasa, Art thou in health, my brother? And Joab took Amasa by the beard with the right hand to kiss him.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)9. took Amasa by the beard] It is said to be still customary among the Arabs and Turks to lay hold of a person’s beard in giving him the kiss of welcome.
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