Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
And when David was a little past the top of the hill, behold, Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth met him, with a couple of asses saddled, and upon them two hundred loaves of bread, and an hundred bunches of raisins, and an hundred of summer fruits, and a bottle of wine.Ch. 2 Samuel 16:1-4. David met by Ziba with a present
1. the top of the hill] See note on ch. 2 Samuel 15:32.
two hundred loaves of bread, &c.] Compare Abigail’s present (1 Samuel 25:18). Ziba was shrewd enough to foresee the result of the rebellion, and wished to secure the king’s favour.
an hundred of summer fruits] Probably cakes of dried figs (so the Vulg.) or dates (so the Sept.). Cp. Amos 8:1.
a bottle of wine] A skin, holding a considerable quantity.
And the king said unto Ziba, What meanest thou by these? And Ziba said, The asses be for the king's household to ride on; and the bread and summer fruit for the young men to eat; and the wine, that such as be faint in the wilderness may drink.2. the wilderness] See note on ch. 2 Samuel 15:23.
And the king said, And where is thy master's son? And Ziba said unto the king, Behold, he abideth at Jerusalem: for he said, To day shall the house of Israel restore me the kingdom of my father.3. thy master’s son] Mephibosheth is called the son, i.e. grandson, of Ziba’s lord Saul in ch. 2 Samuel 9:9. David was hurt by Mephibosheth’s apparent ingratitude.
for he said, To day, &c.] That Ziba was calumniating Mephibosheth is sufficiently obvious. How could Mephibosheth, an insignificant cripple, who had never claimed the crown, or taken any part in politics, expect to be made king, even in the confusion of parties which might ensue upon Absalom’s rebellion? Ziba’s story was an audacious fiction, invented in the hope of getting a grant of the estate which he was cultivating for Mephibosheth’s benefit, and in spite of its improbability, it passed muster in the haste and confusion of the moment.
Then said the king to Ziba, Behold, thine are all that pertained unto Mephibosheth. And Ziba said, I humbly beseech thee that I may find grace in thy sight, my lord, O king.4. Behold, thine are all, &c.] David was rash and hasty in thus treating his grant to Mephibosheth as forfeited by treason without a word of inquiry. This unreflecting impetuosity was a marked fault of his character. Cp. 1 Samuel 25:13 ff.
I humbly beseech thee, &c.] Rather, I bow myself down:—equivalent to our “I lay myself at thy feet,” an Oriental expression of gratitude:—let me find favour in thine eyes, my lord, O king. Cp. 1 Samuel 1:18.
And when king David came to Bahurim, behold, thence came out a man of the family of the house of Saul, whose name was Shimei, the son of Gera: he came forth, and cursed still as he came.5–14. David cursed by Shimei
5. Bahurim] See note on ch. 2 Samuel 3:16.
Shimei] See ch. 2 Samuel 19:16-23; 1 Kings 2:8-9. His connexion with the clan of Saul accounts for the virulence of his hatred.
And he cast stones at David, and at all the servants of king David: and all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left.6. And he cast stones, &c.] The scene is described with an exactness which bespeaks an eye-witness. The road apparently was parallel to a ridge—the “rib” or “side of the hill,” 2 Samuel 16:13—and separated from it by a deep but narrow ravine—“let me go over,” 2 Samuel 16:9—so that Shimei was out of easy reach, though within a stone’s throw of David and his party.
and all the people, &c.] This enhanced the impudent audacity of Shimei’s behaviour.
And thus said Shimei when he cursed, Come out, come out, thou bloody man, and thou man of Belial:7. Come out, come out] Out! out! from the land and from thy kingdom into exile.
thou bloody man] Thou man of blood, thou murderer. Shimei seems to have supplied Cromwell’s army with the terms of its resolution “to call Charles Stuart, that man of blood, to account for the blood he has shed and the mischief he has done to the utmost against the Lord’s cause and people in this poor nation.” Green’s Short History, p. 552.
thou man of Belial] Thou wicked man. See note on 1 Samuel 1:16.
The LORD hath returned upon thee all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose stead thou hast reigned; and the LORD hath delivered the kingdom into the hand of Absalom thy son: and, behold, thou art taken in thy mischief, because thou art a bloody man.8. all the blood of the house of Saul] Shimei probably refers to the deaths of Saul and his sons at Gilboa, of Abner and Ish-bosheth by treacherous murder, charging David with the guilt of crimes which he had repudiated and punished: possibly also he regarded the execution of Saul’s sons (ch. 2 Samuel 21:1-9), which in all probability had taken place before this time, as a judicial murder. Shimei would not intend to refer to Uriah, though David would feel that it was for his death that the curse was not undeserved.
behold, thou art taken to thy mischief] Rather, behold, thou art in thy calamity. To is the original reading of 1611; in of ordinary editions first appeared in the edition of 1629. To thy mischief = to thy hurt, a free paraphrase of the Vulg. premunt te mala tua.
Then said Abishai the son of Zeruiah unto the king, Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? let me go over, I pray thee, and take off his head.9. Then said Abishai] Consistently with his character on the former occasion when he wished to slay Saul (1 Samuel 26:8), and on the later occasion, when he was for refusing Shimei’s suit for pardon (ch. 2 Samuel 19:21). His fiery zeal reminds us of the Sons of Thunder (Luke 9:54), and David’s answer recalls Christ’s answer to Peter (John 18:10-11).
this dead dog] See ch. 2 Samuel 9:8, 2 Samuel 3:8, and notes there.
And the king said, What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah? so let him curse, because the LORD hath said unto him, Curse David. Who shall then say, Wherefore hast thou done so?10. What have I to do with you] ‘What have we in common? leave me alone.’ The phrase is used to repel an unwelcome suggestion, and repudiate participation in the thoughts and feelings of another. Cp. ch. 2 Samuel 19:22; John 2:4.
ye sons of Zeruiah] Joab probably seconded Abishai’s request. For David’s abhorrence of his nephews’ ferocity, see ch. 2 Samuel 3:39.
so let him curse, &c.] This is the rendering of the traditional reading (Qrî). The written text (Kthîbh) may be rendered, when he curseth, and when the Lord, &c., who then shall say, &c.: or, for he curseth because the Lord, &c.
And David said to Abishai, and to all his servants, Behold, my son, which came forth of my bowels, seeketh my life: how much more now may this Benjamite do it? let him alone, and let him curse; for the LORD hath bidden him.11. this Benjamite] Who has some plausible ground for spite against a king who has succeeded to the honours once held by his family.
the Lord hath bidden him] David recognises Shimei as the divinely appointed instrument for his chastisement, and therefore he can say, “the Lord hath bidden him.” But Shimei’s cursing was on his part sinful, and God commands no man to sin. God makes use of the evil passions of men to work out His purposes, but those evil passions are not thereby excused or justified. See for example, Genesis 45:5; Acts 2:23. Since He is the Author and Cause of all things, and in a certain sense nothing can be done without His Will, He is sometimes said to do what He permits to be done, to command what He does not forbid. See note on 1 Samuel 26:19 : and 2 Samuel 24:1.
It may be that the LORD will look on mine affliction, and that the LORD will requite me good for his cursing this day.12. mine affliction] This reading is supported by the Sept. and Vulg. and is probably right. Cp. Psalm 25:18. The Qrî has mine eye, which is explained to mean my grief, but the expression is unparalleled. The Kthîbh gives mine iniquity, meaning, ‘perhaps the Lord will look graciously upon my guilt and pardon it,’ but this does not suit the following clause so well.
will requite me good] Cp. Psalm 109:26-28.
for his cursing] The E. V. follows the Qrî. The Kthîbh has my cursing, i.e. the curse invoked upon me.
And as David and his men went by the way, Shimei went along on the hill's side over against him, and cursed as he went, and threw stones at him, and cast dust.13. on the hill’s side] See note on 2 Samuel 16:6.
And the king, and all the people that were with him, came weary, and refreshed themselves there.14. came weary] There is no place mentioned to which there at the end of the verse can refer. It is clear from ch. 2 Samuel 17:18, that the halting-place was not Bahurim, but some place beyond it. We must suppose that the name of the place has fallen out of the text, or that the word for weary should be taken as a proper name to Ayêphîm. No such place is known, but it would be an appropriate name for a caravansary or resting-place for travellers.
And Absalom, and all the people the men of Israel, came to Jerusalem, and Ahithophel with him.15–19. Absalom’s entrance into Jerusalem. Hushai’s offer of his services
15. And Absalom, &c.] The narrative of Absalom’s proceedings is continued from ch. 2 Samuel 15:12; 2 Samuel 15:37. He seems to have entered Jerusalem soon after David left it, perhaps about noon on the same day.
the men of Israel] The term Israel is constantly applied to Absalom’s followers in this narrative. It is used in a general sense, and not to signify the northern tribes as distinguished from Judah, for the strength of the insurrection, originally at any rate, lay in the south. See note on ch. 2 Samuel 15:10. Those who remained faithful to David are never called the men of Judah, but simply the people (ch. 2 Samuel 15:17; 2 Samuel 15:23-24; 2 Samuel 15:30; 2 Samuel 16, 17, 18, 19).
And it came to pass, when Hushai the Archite, David's friend, was come unto Absalom, that Hushai said unto Absalom, God save the king, God save the king.16. God save the king] Or, Long live the king: lit. Let the king live: vivat Rex. See note on 1 Samuel 10:24.
And Absalom said to Hushai, Is this thy kindness to thy friend? why wentest thou not with thy friend?
And Hushai said unto Absalom, Nay; but whom the LORD, and this people, and all the men of Israel, choose, his will I be, and with him will I abide.
And again, whom should I serve? should I not serve in the presence of his son? as I have served in thy father's presence, so will I be in thy presence.
Then said Absalom to Ahithophel, Give counsel among you what we shall do.20–23. Ahithophel’s counsel
21. And Ahithophel said, &c.] Ahithophel advised Absalom to make a decisive assumption of royal authority by publicly taking possession of the royal harem. This act was a claim of heirship and succession, and was not regarded with abhorrence by the Israelites, whose feelings on such matters were blunted by the practice of polygamy. See note on ch. 2 Samuel 3:7. Its object was to make the breach between Absalom and his father irreparable, and to strengthen the resolution of his followers, by proving that the rebellion was not to end in his securing a pardon from his father and leaving them to their fate, but that he was determined to run all risks.
 A similar custom existed among the heathen Saxons. See Green’s Making of England, p. 246.
And Ahithophel said unto Absalom, Go in unto thy father's concubines, which he hath left to keep the house; and all Israel shall hear that thou art abhorred of thy father: then shall the hands of all that are with thee be strong.
So they spread Absalom a tent upon the top of the house; and Absalom went in unto his father's concubines in the sight of all Israel.22. upon the top of the house] The fact that the very roof on which David was walking when he secretly conceived his great sin was the public scene of its punishment, and the nature of the punishment, corresponding to the nature of the sin, as Nathan had foretold, make this retribution signally striking. See ch. 2 Samuel 12:11-12; and cp. 2 Kings 9:25-26.
And the counsel of Ahithophel, which he counselled in those days, was as if a man had inquired at the oracle of God: so was all the counsel of Ahithophel both with David and with Absalom.23. had inquired at the oracle of God] Lit. had inquired of the word of God = had inquired of God, which was done by means of the Urim and Thummim in the breastplate upon the High-priest’s ephod. Cp. 1 Samuel 10:22.