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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

2 Samuel 4

 

 

Verse 1

ASSASSINATION OF ISHBOSHETH, 2 Samuel 4:1-12.

1. His hands were feeble — He lost all vigorous hold upon the government, for Abner had been his strength.

Troubled — Confounded and alarmed. They knew not what might be the end of these things. They had no confidence in Ishbosheth, and they were not disposed at once to accept the son of Jesse.


Verse 2

2. Captains of bands — Leaders of military companies. Compare Acts 10:1.

Of Benjamin — The unhappy king falls by the hands of men of his own tribe.

Beeroth — The modern Bireh, eight miles north of Jerusalem. See on Joshua 9:17; Joshua 18:25.


Verse 3

3. The Beerothites fled to Gittaim — We are nowhere told the cause of this flight, but it has been plausibly conjectured that it arose from Saul’s persecution of the Gibeonites, (2 Samuel 21:1-2,) for Beeroth was one of their cities. Joshua 9:17. Perhaps Rimmon or his sons had suffered by that persecution, and this may have been one reason for this bloody deed of the sons. They wreaked vengeance on the son of Saul for the wrongs committed by his father, as well as sought by the same deed to secure the favour of David. Gittaim was apparently not far from Beeroth, and was inhabited by Benjamites after the captivity, (Nehemiah 11:33,) but its site is now unknown.


Verse 4

4. Mephibosheth — Called also Merib-baal. 1 Chronicles 8:34. We shall see in a future period how David cared for him. The object of the historian in introducing here this notice of Mephibosheth was to show that at the death of Ishbosheth there was no other member of Saul’s family that was capable of taking charge of the kingdom of Israel. This son of Jonathan was the heir apparent, and he was physically disabled.


Verse 5

5. Lay on a bed at noon — A common custom in the East. “In Arabia it is so hot in July and in August, that, except in a case of pressing necessity, nobody goes out from eleven in the morning till three in the afternoon. The Arabs seldom work during this time; they employ it commonly in sleeping in a vault into which the air is let from above.” — Harmer’s Observations.


Verse 6

6. The house — Some extensive structure at Mahanaim used for the royal palace, and the treasure-house of the royal stores.

As though they would have fetched wheat — From the royal granary. Being royal officers, they were probably accustomed to go to the king’s storehouse for grain. The Septuagint here has the following: “And behold the doorkeeper of the house was winnowing wheat, and he nodded and slept.”

The fifth rib — See note on 2 Samuel 2:23.


Verse 7

7. Took his head — They probably carried it in a sack, in which they pretended to fetch wheat. They could not otherwise have well escaped at midday.

Through the plain — The Jordan valley. See on 2 Samuel 2:29.


Verse 8

8. The Lord hath avenged my lord the king — By these words the assassins thought to gain the favour of David; but, like the Amalekite at Ziklag, they little understood how his soul abhorred their bloody deed.


Verse 11

11. A righteous person — Ishbosheth was guilty of no crime. It is doubtful if he would have assumed the regal power without the instance of Abner.


Verse 12

12. Cut off their hands and their feet — The hands that wrought the bloody deed, and the feet that brought the horrid tidings. This punishment was executed in the spirit, but not in the letter, of the Mosaic law of retaliation — hand for hand, foot for foot. Exodus 21:24.

The pool — Probably one of the large reservoirs still seen at Hebron.

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 4:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/2-samuel-4.html. 1874-1909.

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