Haydock Catholic Bible Commentary
Belial. Septuagint, "lawless." --- Jemini. The tribe of Benjamin continued to be rather disaffected. (Haydock) --- Part. This was an usual mode of expressing a disunion, 3 Kings xii. 16., and Acts viii. 21. (Calmet) --- See chap. xix. 43. (Haydock) Seba was perhaps a kinsman of Saul, (Menochius) in come command. (Calmet)
Jordan, near which the contest had happened. Some chosen troops attended Seba to the north, while the rest went home. (Haydock)
Widowhood, or celibacy, (Menochius) like nuns. (Grotius; Salien) --- David could not with propriety approach to them, (Estius) as they resembled his daughters-in-law; (Leviticus xviii. 15.; Menochius) and no other person could marry them, while he was still their husband. (Haydock) --- The punishment of seclusion was very small in the East, where women seldom go out. The Jews assert, that the widows of the Hebrew kings could not marry again. (Selden, Uxor. i. 10.) --- The like custom formerly prevailed in Spain. (Council of Toledo, xiii. 3., A.D. 683.; [Council] of Saragossa, canon 5., A.D. 691.) So great was the respect for the king or the apprehension, lest those who married their widows, should aspire to the throne. (Calmet)
Here, to be invested with the command over the army, and to pursue Seba. (Menochius)
Him, owing to some insuperable difficulties. He was not long behind, since he joined the forces at Gabaon, where he was treacherously slain by the envious Joab. (Haydock)
Lord, the king; or perhaps Joab. (Menochius) --- A select company always attended the king; and some of these he sent, for greater expedition, to attack Seba, before he had become too strong.
Men. It seems Joab accompanied them, though in a manner divested of his command, by the king's appointing Amasa, and then Abisai, to his exclusion. After the slaughter of the former, he resumed his authority; (ver. 10) and David was forced to acquiesce, for fear of another civil war, reserving his punishment for more peaceable times. (Haydock)
Stone, where Abner and Joab had formerly joined battle, chap. ii. (Menochius) --- Habit, or body. --- Flank; they usually hand at the thigh, Psalm xliv. 4. --- Strike: the scabbard was very wide; so that, when it was hanging very high, it would easily fall out, when he stooped; and thus afford Joab an opportunity of stabbing Amasa, without suspicion. (Calmet) --- Protestants, "Joab's garment, that he had put on, was girded unto him, and upon it a girdle with a sword, fastened upon his loins, in the sheath thereof, and as he went forth, it fell out."
God, &c. Literally, "Hail, my brother." (Haydock) --- Kiss him. "In former times it was the custom, in Greece, for supplicants to touch the chin, (Pliny, [Natural History?] xi. 45.) having the left hand upon the person's knees. (Homer, Iliad A.) The touched a woman's cheeks; (Euripides, Hecuba.) or, among the Hebrews, her chin, Canticle of Canticles ii. 6. The Turks and Arabs still kiss the beard, with the utmost reverence. (Thevenot xxii.; Darvieux, chap. vii.) (Calmet)
Struck him with his left hand. (Haydock) --- Side. The same word is, elsewhere, translated groin; Septuagint, "loin." Moderns commonly render "in the fifth rib," chap. ii. 23., and iii. 27., and iv. 6. (Calmet) --- Josephus, "the belly."
Some men. The same author [Josephus?] and the Hebrew only mention "one of," &c. (Haydock) --- Behold. Thus they insult over him, being attached to Joab. Hebrew, "Who loves Joab? and who is David? Let him follow Joab;" or, "who is this who wished to supplant Joab? and who desired to be in David's favour, after Joab? (Calmet)
A certain. Hebrew, "the man" stationed by Joab, near the body, to inform those who passed, that he had been justly slain. Josephus, ([Antiquities?] vii. 10,) who observes, that this crime of Joab proceeded from envy, and was less deserving of excuse than the murder of Abner. (Haydock)
Tribes, north-west of the Jordan. (Calmet) --- Abela and Bathmaacha. Cities of the tribe of Nephtali. (Challoner) --- The former is called simply Abel (4 Kings xv. 29.; Calmet) as it is here by the Protestant version. (Haydock) --- It is also called Abyla, (Luke iii. 1,) and Hoba, (Genesis xiv. 15.; Calmet) between Damascus and Paneas, (Eusebius) situated on the borders of Syria, as well as Beth Maaca, or "the canton of Maacha," or Machati, Josue xii. 5. --- Chosen. Hebrew Berim, (which is translated "Berites," by the Protestants.; Haydock) is derived from Bara, "to choose," by St. Jerome. Septuagint have read airim, "cities." Some suppose that the inhabitants of Bahurim (near Mount Ephraim, ver. 21, where Semei, a relation of Saul, and many disaffected people resided) shut themselves up with him in Abela.
Works. Hebrew, a bank, or terrace against the city, and it stood in the trench; (Haydock) so that the town ditch was filled up, (Grotius) or terraces were raised, from which archers assailed the besieged. Joab made a ditch to defend his men from foreign assailants; and he had already taken the outward wall, so that the town could not hold out for any length of time. --- The walls. St. Jerome thinks with battering rams: but they were not yet invented. (Calmet) --- They undermined the walls, while some attempted to pull them down with hooks and ropes, chap. xvii. 13. (Haydock)
Say to Joab. This woman was noted for her prudence, and it was hoped that her words would have more influence to disarm Joab. She addresses those who were nearest the wall, that she may have an interview with the general, at the request of her fellow-citizens.
End of their disputes, (Haydock) as Abela was remarkable for its wise counsellors, (Menochius) and equitable decisions; (Haydock) so that many came, from a distance, to consult the learned of this city. (Calmet) --- Others suppose that she refers to the law, which ordains that peace shall first be proposed, and, if this had been done, the affair would long ago have been decided, Deuteronomy xx. 10. (Jonathan; Estius; &c.) --- Hebrew, "They spoke a word at first: Let them ask at Abela, and so they shall make an end." Much must be supplied to make the text conformable to the former explication. We may translate, "They said, in ancient times: Let those who require more, go seek at Abela: so they finished their discourse." (Calmet) --- Protestants, "They shall surely ask counsel at Abel: and so the ended the matter."
Truth. Hebrew, "I am peaceable, faithful in Israel." (Haydock) --- I am one of the cities most inclined to peace, and to the king's service, noted for lessons of loyalty. (Calmet) --- Probably there was an academy here. (Menochius) --- Mother, city, or metropolis. The Hebrews styled the inferior towns, daughters. (Calmet) --- Lord, a city belonging to Israel. (Haydock)
God, (Absit.) Literally, "Far be it, far be it from me;" as we need not put the name of God in the mouth of this profane man, without reason. (Haydock)
Jairite, a descendant of Jair, (Calmet) son of Manasses. (Haydock) --- Priest. Hebrew cohen, respected like a priest, (Haydock) chief favourite, (Worthington) the Rab., (Chaldean) chief counsellor of David, (Vatable) almoner, &c. It is not certain that he was of the family of Aaron, or qualified to be the domestic chaplain of the king. See chap. viii. 16, &c. No other king of Israel had an officer to whom this title was given. (Calmet)