2 Samuel 3:26
And when Joab was come out from David, he sent messengers after Abner, which brought him again from the well of Sirah: but David knew it not.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(26) Sent messengers after Abner.—Whether this was done in his own or in David’s name (though without his knowledge) does not appear, but in either case Abner would readily suppose that the coming of Joab had made further conference desirable. His entire confidence in David is shown by his unsuspecting return.

The well of Sirah.—The only knowledge of this locality is from the testimony of Josephus (Antt. vii. 1, 5), that it was twenty stadia (two and a half miles) from Hebron; and there is still a spring and reservoir called Ain Sareh, rather more than a mile north of the town. If this is correct, Abner must have just left David when Joab arrived.

2 Samuel 3:26-27. When Joab was come out from David — He seems to have gone out in anger; not staying for an answer. He sent messengers after Abner — Probably in the king’s name, as if he had something further to communicate to him. For otherwise it is not credible that Abner would have returned. Joab took him aside in the gate — Where, it appears, he had waited for him, and, as it was a public place, where men met to do business, and where the courts of judgment sat, Abner suspected no danger, especially since Joab took him by the hand in a friendly manner, as if he wished to have some discourse with him. And smote him there under the fifth rib, that he died — Thus fell Abner by an unexpected and surprising treachery! and in the very article of returning to his duty, and in the eve of a great revolution, seemingly depending on his fate! And thus his thoughts, purposes, and boasts of gathering all Israel to David, and translating the kingdom to him, perished in a moment! In this, however treacherously and wickedly Joab acted, the Lord, in permitting it, was righteous. Abner had deliberately and maliciously opposed David, and in opposing him had acted against the dictates of his own conscience, and of his known duty to God, and that for a series of years: he had sported with the lives of his brethren, and spilled the first blood shed in this civil war; and, it may be, all the blood that was shed; at least we hear of none after the battle of Gibeon. He had now basely deserted Ish-bosheth, and betrayed him, under pretence of regard to God and Israel; but, in reality, from a principle of pride and revenge, and impatience of control. God, therefore, would not use so ill a man in so good a work as the uniting of Israel to Judah, and thereby preventing the progress of war and slaughter. And he hereby showed that he did not need his help, but could, with infinite ease, accomplish his purposes without him, thus pouring contempt on the pride of man. The following reflection of Dr. Delaney here appears both just and important.

“It is true Abner was now returned to his duty; but it is true that he returned to it now as he departed from it before, upon a pique; and from motives of ambition, interest, and revenge. He well knew the purposes and declarations of God in relation to David, and yet he deliberately opposed himself to them. And it is but just in the appointments of Providence (and nothing is more conspicuous in his government of the world) not to permit the wicked to effect that good from wrong motives which they once obstructed upon the same principles. The occasions of duty, once notoriously neglected, seldom return, at least, to equal advantage. Let no man decline the good that is in his power; if he once does so, he is no more worthy to be the happy instrument of effecting it in the hand of God. To conclude; a great revolution apparently depended upon Abner’s fate, but it did so only in the eye of human providence, as was plainly manifested from the event.”

For the blood of Asahel his brother — This was one reason of his committing this murder; but, doubtless, envy and jealousy of Abner’s great merit with David, in gaining over the tribes to him, were the main motives that impelled him to it. In the mean time his pretence was fidelity to his sovereign, and excess of care for his safety. “What,” says Josephus, reflecting on this crime, “will not men dare to do who are covetous, ambitious, and will be inferior to none, to obtain what they desire! They will commit a thousand crimes, and rather than lose what they have got, they will not fear to commit still greater wickedness.”3:22-39 Judgments are prepared for such scorners as Abner; but Joab, in what he did, acted wickedly. David laid Abner's murder deeply to heart, and in many ways expressed his detestation of it. The guilt of blood brings a curse upon families: if men do not avenge it, God will. It is a sad thing to die like a fool, as they do that any way shorten their own days, and those who make no provision for another world. Who would be fond of power, when a man may have the name of it, and must be accountable for it, yet is hampered in the use of it? David ought to have done his duty, and then trusted God with the issue. Carnal policy spared Joab. The Son of David may long delay, but never fails to punish impenitent sinners. He who now reigns upon the throne of David, has a kingdom of a nobler kind. Whatever He doeth, is noticed by all his willing people, and is pleasing to them.The well Sirah - Nowhere else mentioned; according to Josephus, about two and a half miles from Hebron. 24-27. Joab came to the king, and said, What hast thou done?—Joab's knowledge of Abner's wily character might have led him to doubt the sincerity of that person's proposals and to disapprove the policy of relying on his fidelity. But undoubtedly there were other reasons of a private and personal nature which made Joab displeased and alarmed by the reception given to Abner. The military talents of that general, his popularity with the army, his influence throughout the nation, rendered him a formidable rival. In the event of his overtures being carried out, the important service of bringing over all the other tribes to the king of Judah would establish so strong a claim on the gratitude of David, that his accession would inevitably raise a serious obstacle to the ambition of Joab. To these considerations was added the remembrance of the blood feud that existed between them since the death of his brother Asahel (2Sa 2:23). Determined, therefore, to get Abner out of the way, Joab feigned some reason, probably in the king's name, for recalling him, and, going out to meet him, stabbed him unawares; not within Hebron, for it was a city of refuge, but at a noted well in the neighborhood. He sent messengers after Abner, in the king’s name, and upon pretence of some further communication with him. And when Joab was come out from David,.... Which perhaps he did at once, as soon as ever he had spoken his mind, and flew out of the room in a great passion, not waiting for the king's answer, since we read of none returned; though it may be the king disdained to give him one, or cared not to confer with him while in his passion, until it subsided; or chose not to provoke him more, for it is plain he had great power over him; which generals of armies at this time very much assumed, see 2 Samuel 3:39;

he sent messengers after Abner; in the name of the king, as Abarbinel rightly supposes, and so Josephus (f); for otherwise it can hardly be thought he would have returned on a message from Joab only, who he knew bore him ill will:

which brought him again from the well of Sirah; which might have its name from the thorns and briers that grew about it. Josephus (g) calls it Besira, and says it was twenty furlongs or two and an half miles from Hebron:

but David knew it not; that Joab had sent messengers in his name after Abner to fetch him back; it was not done by his order, with his consent or knowledge; this is observed, to clear David from any concern in the death of Abner, as follows.

(f) Antiqu. l. 7. c. 1. sect. 5. (g) Ibid.

And when Joab was come out from David, he sent messengers after Abner, which brought him again from the well of Sirah: but David knew it not.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
26. he sent messengers after Abner] No doubt in David’s name, pretending to recall him for a further interview. A message from Joab would have excited Abner’s suspicion, while on David’s good faith he could place entire reliance.

the well of Sirah] Rather more than a mile out of Hebron on the old paved road to the north is a spring with a reservoir called Ain Sareh, which is in all probability “the well of Sirah.” This agrees sufficiently well with Josephus’ statement that it was twenty stadia or two miles and a half distant from Hebron.Verse 26. - The well - Hebrew, cistern - of Sirah. Josephus ('Ant.,' 8.1. 5) says that this cistern was situated about two miles and a half north of Hebron. There was probably a caravanserai there, at which Abner halted, intending to continue his march homewards as soon as the coolness of evening set in. Here Joab's messengers overtook him, and, speaking in David's name - for otherwise Abner would not have fallen into the trap - asked him to return for further conference, mentioning, perhaps, Joab's arrival as the reason. In this way Abner's suspicions would be set at rest, and it would seem quite natural for him to find Joab waiting for him at the gate. Abner had spoken in the same way in the ears of Benjamin. He spoke to the Benjaminites more especially, because the existing royal family belonged to that tribe, and they had reaped many advantages in consequence (vid., 1 Samuel 22:7). The verb היה in the circumstantial clause (2 Samuel 3:17), and the verb וידבּר in 2 Samuel 3:19, which serves as a continuation of the circumstantial clause, must be translated as pluperfects, since Abner's interview with the elders of Israel and with Benjamin preceded his interview with David at Hebron. We may see from Abner's address to the elders, that even among the northern tribes the popular voice had long since decided for David. In 1 Chronicles 12 we have historical proofs of this. The word of Jehovah concerning David, which is mentioned in 2 Samuel 3:18, is not met with anywhere in this precise form in the history of David as it has come down to us. Abner therefore had either some expression used by one of the prophets (Samuel or Gad) in his mind, which he described as the word of Jehovah, or else he regarded the anointing of David by Samuel in accordance with the command of the Lord, and the marvellous success of all that David attempted against the enemies of Israel, as a practical declaration on the part of God, that David, as the appointed successor of Saul, would perform what the Lord had spoken to Samuel concerning Saul (1 Samuel 9:16), but what Saul had not fulfilled on account of his rebellion against the commandments of the Lord.

2 Samuel 3:19-20

When Abner had gained over the elders of Israel and Benjamin to recognise David as king, he went to Hebron to speak in the ears of David "all that had pleased Israel and the whole house of Benjamin," i.e., to make known to him their determination to acknowledge him as king. There went with him twenty men as representatives of all Israel, to confirm Abner's statements by their presence; and David prepared a meal for them all.

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