2 Samuel 3:27
And when Abner was returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside in the gate to speak with him quietly, and smote him there under the fifth rib, that he died, for the blood of Asahel his brother.
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(27) Aside in the gate.—The gateway was a customary place of conference in the East, and Joab there awaited Abner’s return; he then took him “aside” to some place of privacy, as the LXX. reads, “by the side of the gate.” On the phrase “fifth rib,” see Note on 2Samuel 2:23. The reason for this cold-blooded and treacherous murder on the part of Joab is expressly said to be “for the blood of Asahel his brother;” but no doubt his revenge was quickened by jealousy.

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. In the gate; in the entrance into the city before he came to the king; and in the place where conferences used to be.

Quietly; with appearance of great civility and kindness. Or, secretly, as having some matter of great importance to utter, which none but himself must hear.

Smote him there under the fifth rib; as he did Asahel, 2 Samuel 2:23.

For the blood of Asahel his brother; to revenge the death of Asahel; and withal (though that be not here mentioned) to secure his own standing, and rid his hands of so great and powerful a competitor. And thus was Joab’s design; but God had other designs in it, both to punish Abner’s manifest wickedness, and particularly his rebellion against David, and against God and his own conscience therein; and that David might not owe his kingdom to Abner, and to his revenge and treachery, but wholly to God’s wise and powerful providence. And when Abner was returned to Hebron,.... Alone, and not the twenty men with him; not to David's court, but just to the city, to the gate of it:

Joab took him aside in the gate: where he was waiting for him, and met him; this was a public place, where people were continually passing and repassing, and where courts of judicature used to be held; wherefore Abner might think himself safe here with Joab, and have no suspicion at all of his design, and shows how fearless Joab was of God or men:

to speak with him quietly; peaceably, in a friendly manner, as all his gestures towards him showed; so that Abner made no difficulty of turning aside with him, supposing he had something to communicate to him from the king, which he had forgot:

and smote him under the fifth rib, that he died; in the same place that Abner had smote his brother, of which see 2 Samuel 2:23; and this he did:

for the blood of Asahel his brother; for Abner's shedding his brother's blood; but this was not the only reason, and perhaps not the chief; but, as Josephus (h) observes, because he was fearful if Abner was received into the friendship of the king, he would be preferred unto him, and take his place as general of the army, as being an older and more experienced officer; so Procopius Gazaeus, and Theodoret.

(h) Antiqu. l. 7. c. 1. sect. 5.

And when Abner was returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside in the gate to speak with him quietly, and smote him there under the fifth rib, that he died, for the blood of Asahel his brother.
27. in the gate] Lit. into the midst of the gate, the space between the inner and outer gateways. But the publicity of the city gate was unsuited to a private conference, and the Sept. offers a more probable reading, “took him apart by the side of the gate.”

under the fifth rib] In the belly. See note on 2 Samuel 2:23.

for the blood of Asahel his brother] Since Abner had slain Asahel in self-defence (ch. 2 Samuel 2:23), Joab’s act was not justifiable on the score of blood-revenge. This was merely a convenient pretext for getting rid of a dangerous rival. He foresaw that if he allowed Abner to have the credit of placing the crown of Israel on David’s head, he would lose his own position and influence. Failing in his endeavour to persuade David that Abner was playing him false, with characteristic unscrupulousness he planned this deliberate and treacherous murder, as on a later occasion he murdered his rival Amasa (ch. 2 Samuel 20:10).Verse 27. - Joab took him aside in the gate. As we read in 2 Samuel 18:24 of David sitting "between the two gates," and of "the roof over the gate," and in ver. 33 of "the chamber over the gate," Ewald's idea of there being a roofed inner space, with a guard room over it, as in the mediaeval gate towers in German towns, is probably right. As the "two gates" would make the space between them gloomy, the spot would just suit Joab's purpose. He meets Abner, therefore, in a friendly manner, and drawing him aside, as if to converse with him apart from the people going in and out, there assassinates him. The place was so public that the deed must have been witnessed by multitudes, though the gloom, felt the more by them from the contrast with the bright glare of sunshine outside, had given Joab the opportunity of drawing his sword without Abner's observing it. For the blood of Asahel his brother. Joab's act was in accordance with Oriental feeling; and the duties of the avenger of blood might with some straining be made to cover his retaliation for an act done by Abner in self-defence (Numbers 35:26, 27). It is remarkable that Hebron was itself a city of refuge (Joshua 20:7), and this may have led Joab to murder him in the gate, before he had actually entered. Still, Abner did not expect any such retribution, and supposing that Joab knew of the purpose that had brought him to Hebron, he could not suppose that he would be so indifferent to his master's interests as to put a summary stop to the negotiations for uniting the tribes under David. As it was, this deed brought upon David an evil name, and four or five years had to elapse before the tribes could be induced to take him for their king. Even then his hold over them was far less than it would otherwise have been; for though the shock was gradually got over, yet the suspicion still dung to him. And if the deed was Joab's own act, still David had contributed to it by underhand dealings. His very fear of Joab had caused him to wrong his able general, and given him just cause for resentment. After the meal, Abner said to David, "I will raise and go and gather together all Israel to my lord the king, that they may make a covenant with thee (i.e., do homage to thee before God as king), and thou mayest become king over all that thy soul desireth," i.e., over all the nation of God; whereupon David took leave of him, and Abner went away in peace. The expression "in peace" serves to prepare the way for what follows. It is not stated, however, that David sent him away in peace (without avenging himself upon him), but that "David sent him away, and he went in peace." Apart altogether from the mildness of David's own character, he had no reason whatever for treating Abner as an enemy, now that he had given up all opposition to his reigning, and had brought all the Israelites over to him. What Abner had done for Ishbosheth, including his fighting against David, was indeed a sinful act of resistance to the will of Jehovah, which was not unknown to him, and according to which Samuel had both called and anointed David king over the nation; but for all that, it was not an ordinary act of rebellion against the person of David and his rightful claim to the throne, because Jehovah had not yet caused David to be set before the nation as its king by Samuel or any other prophet, and David had not yet asserted the right to reign over all Israel, which had been secured to him by the Lord and guaranteed by his anointing, as one which the nation was bound to recognise; but, like a true servant of God, he waited patiently till the Lord should give him the dominion over all His people.
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