2 Samuel 3:8
Then was Abner very wroth for the words of Ishbosheth, and said, Am I a dog's head, which against Judah do show kindness this day to the house of Saul your father, to his brothers, and to his friends, and have not delivered you into the hand of David, that you charge me to day with a fault concerning this woman?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(8) Am I a dog’s head?—The translation of this clause is taken from the Vulg., and is hardly possible; it should rather be, Am I a dog’s head belonging to Judah?

2 Samuel 3:8. Then was Abner very wroth — He accounted his merits so great, and was become so haughty, that he thought he might do any thing without reprehension; and said, Am I a dog’s head? — So contemptible a person that thou thinkest it a disgrace to thy family for me to have intercourse with thy father’s concubine. Whether Abner was guilty of the crime laid to his charge or not, does not appear; nor what ground Ish-bosheth had for the suspicion. But, however it was, it would have been prudent in him to have connived at it for the present, considering how much it was his interest not to dis-oblige Abner. And if the thing was false, and his jealousy groundless, it was very disingenuous and ungrateful to entertain unjust surmises of one who had ventured his all for him, and was certainly the best friend he had in the world. Who against Judah do show kindness unto the house of Saul — Is this my recompense for the kindness I have shown to thee and thy father’s house, and the good services I have done you? He magnifies his service with this, that it was against Judah, the tribe on which the crown was settled, and which would certainly have it at last. So that in supporting the house of Saul he acted both against his conscience and against his interest, for which he deserved a better requital than this. And yet, probably, he would not have been so zealous for the house of Saul, if he had not thereby gratified his own ambition, and hoped to find his own account in it. That thou chargest me with a fault concerning this woman? — That is, either that thou accusest me falsely concerning this matter; or that thou canst not wink at so small a fault (for so he esteemed it) as conversation with this woman, who, whatsoever she formerly was, is now so impotent and inconsiderable that she can neither serve nor disserve thy cause.3:7-21 Many, like Abner, are not above committing base crimes, who are too proud to bear reproof, or even the suspicion of being guilty. While men go on in sin, and apparently without concern, they are often conscious that they are fighting against God. Many mean to serve their own purposes; and will betray those who trust them, when they can get any advantage. Yet the Lord serves his own designs, even by those who are thus actuated by revenge, ambition, or lust; but as they intend not to honour him, in the end they will be thrown aside with contempt. There was real generosity both to Michal and to the memory of Saul, in David's receiving the former, remembering probably how once he owed his life to her affection, and knowing that she was separated from him partly by her father's authority. Let no man set his heart on that which he is not entitled to. If any disagreement has separated husband and wife, as they expect the blessing of God, let them be reconciled, and live together in love.The words against Judah are very obscure. If the text be correct, the words would seem to be Ish-bosheth's, who in his anger had charged Abner with being a vile partisan of Judah: Abner retorts, "Am I((as you say) a dog's head which belongeth to Judah, or on Judah's side! This day I show you kindness, etc., and this day thou chargest me with a fault, etc." 2Sa 3:6-12. Abner Revolts to David.

6-11. Abner made himself strong for the house of Saul—In the East, the wives and concubines of a king are the property of his successor to this extent, that for a private person to aspire to marry one of them would be considered a virtual advance of pretensions to the crown (see 1Ki 2:17). It is not clear whether the accusation against Abner was well or ill founded. But he resented the charge as an indignity, and, impelled by revenge, determined to transfer all the weight of his influence to the opposite party. He evidently set a full value on his services, and seems to have lorded it over his weak nephew in a haughty, overbearing manner.

A dog’s head, i.e. a vile and contemptible creature, as a dog was. See Deu 23:18 1 Samuel 24:14 2 Samuel 9:8 16:9 Job 30:1 Ecclesiastes 9:4. And a dog’s head is put for a dog by a synecdoche, usual both in the Hebrew and in other languages, as the head is oft put for the whole man in the Latin tongue. Which against Judah; so the particle lamed is well rendered, as el, which among the Hebrews is confessedly of the same nature and use, is used Ecclesiastes 9:14 Jeremiah 34:7 Ezekiel 13:9,20 Am 7:15.

Have not delivered thee into the hand of David, which I could oft and easily have done. That thou chargest me to-day with a fault concerning this woman; either, that thou accusest me falsely concerning this matter; or, that thou canst not wink at so small a fault (for so he esteemed it) as conversation with this woman, who, whatsoever she formerly was, is now so impotent and inconsiderable, that she can do thee no service, as I have done. Then was Abner very wroth for the words of Ishbosheth,.... If false he had a good deal of reason for it; and if true, he thought he deserved better at his hands, than to be reproved for and upbraided with what he might think was a very small fault, and might easily be connived at, and especially in one that had been so serviceable to him:

and said, am I a dog's head; such a mean, vile, contemptible person with thee, as if no better than a dog, and as useless and as unserviceable as a dead dog, the head of a dog cut off; see 1 Samuel 24:14 2 Samuel 9:8; or am I esteemed and to be treated as a head of dogs, a keeper of a pack of hounds, and not as a general of the armies of Israel? so Jarchi and others; but it seems rather to respect the filthy nature of a dog, that will couple with any; and so the sense is, am I such a filthy lustful creature that care not with whom I lie, no more, than a dog?

which against Judah do show kindness to the house of Saul thy father,

to his brethren, and to his friends; who in opposition to the tribe of Judah, which alone abode by David, had shown respect to the family of Saul, and all his friends, by his close attachment to Ishbosheth:

and have not delivered thee into the hand David; when it was in his power to have done it many a tithe:

that thou chargest me today with a fault concerning this woman? he neither denies nor owns the charge, and yet, by his not denying it, tacitly owns it; though, by his way of speaking, he suggests as if it was no fault at all, at least a very trifling one, and such as ought not to have been mentioned to him, considering the services he had done to Ishbosheth and his family.

Then was Abner very wroth for the words of Ishbosheth, and said, Am I a {d} dog's head, which against Judah do shew kindness this day unto the house of Saul thy father, to his brethren, and to his friends, and have not delivered thee into the hand of David, that thou chargest me to day with a fault concerning this woman?

(d) Do you esteem me no more than a dog, for all my service done to your father's house?

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
8. Am I a dog’s head, &c.] Render, Am I a dog’s head belonging to Judah? This day do I shew kindness … and thou hast charged me! &c. i.e. Am I at once despicable and hostile to your interests? Nay, I am faithful to the house of Saul, otherwise I should long ago have made terms with David by surrendering you into his hands.

In the East in ancient times as at the present day, dogs, although used for guarding flocks and houses (Job 30:1; Isaiah 56:10), were chiefly seen prowling about towns in a half-wild condition, owning no master, living on offal and garbage. Cp. Psalm 59:14-15; 1 Kings 21:19; 1 Kings 21:23-24; 1 Kings 22:38. Hence the aversion with which they were regarded, and “dog” became (1), as here, a term of reproach and contempt; cp. 1 Samuel 17:43; 1 Samuel 24:14; 2 Samuel 9:8; 2 Samuel 16:9; 2 Kings 8:13 : (2) an expression for fierce and cruel men (Psalm 22:16): (3) a name for impure persons (Matthew 7:6; Php 3:2; Revelation 22:15). See Tristram’s Nat. Hist. of the Bible, p. 78.Verse 8. - Then was Abner very wroth. This extreme indignation on Abner's part is not easy to understand; for he could scarcely have expected Ishbosheth to endure quietly what at least was a great insult. But probably the question, Wherefore hast thou gone in unto my father's concubine? does not mean a mild expostulation on the king's part, but the purpose to degrade Abner and strip him of his office. Probably after the defeat by Joab at Gibeon, the army was less satisfied with its leader, and his detractors may gladly have encouraged the king to use this opportunity for bringing Abner down to his proper place. Weak kings often try to play the strong man; but the attempt here only drove the imperious soldier to put the matter to the proof, and show that the strength was his. We know that David groaned all his life through under Joab's iron will, and, though he tried, yet that he never succeeded in throwing off the yoke. But Joab never behaved unfaithfully to his sovereign as Abner did here, and his crimes were deeds of violence committed in David's cause. Am I a dog's head, which against Judah, etc.? The words literally are, Am I a dog's head that is for Judah? and are rightly rendered in the Revised Version, Am I a dog's head that belongeth to Judah? Am I at once worthless and a traitor, a thing of no account, and on the side of thy enemies? In the words that follow he protests, not so much his innocence as his great deserts. This day - that is, at this very time - I am showing kindness unto the house of Saul... and this day thou wouldest visit upon me - that is, punish me for - the fault about this woman. I make and maintain thee as king, and thou wouldst play the king upon me, the kingmaker! Growth of the House of David. - Proof of the advance of the house of David is furnished by the multiplication of his family at Hebron. The account of the sons who were born to David at Hebron does not break the thread, as Clericus, Thenius, and others suppose, but is very appropriately introduced here, as a practical proof of the strengthening of the house of David, in harmony with the custom of beginning the history of the reign of every king with certain notices concerning his family (vid., 2 Samuel 5:13.; 1 Kings 3:1; 1 Kings 14:21; 1 Kings 15:2, 1 Kings 15:9, etc.). We have a similar list of the sons of David in 1 Chronicles 3:1-4. The first two sons were born to him from the two wives whom he had brought with him to Hebron (1 Samuel 25:42-43). The Chethibh וילדו is probably only a copyist's error for ויּוּלדוּ, which is the reading in many Codices. From Ahinoam - the first-born, Amnon (called Aminon in 2 Samuel 13:20); from Abigail - the second, Chileab. The latter is also called Daniel in 1 Chronicles 3:1, and therefore had probably two names. The lamed before Ahinoam and the following names serves as a periphrasis for the genitive, like the German von, in consequence of the word son being omitted (vid., Ewald, 292, a.). The other four were by wives whom he had married in Hebron: Absalom by Maachah, the daughter of Talmai king of Geshur, a small kingdom in the north-east of Bashan (see at Deuteronomy 3:14); Adonijah by Haggith; Shephatiah by Abital; and Ithream by Eglah. The origin of the last three wives is unknown. The clause appended to Eglah's name, viz., "David's wife," merely serves as a fitting conclusion to the whole list (Bertheau on 1 Chronicles 3:3), and is not added to show that Eglah was David's principal wife, which would necessitate the conclusion drawn by the Rabbins, that Michal was the wife intended.
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