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Bridgeway Bible Dictionary

Joab

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It seems that Joab and his brothers were among the several hundred people who joined David during his flight from Saul. The private army that David formed from these people later became the central fighting force in his royal army (1 Samuel 22:1-2; 1 Samuel 26:6; 1 Samuel 30:9; 2 Samuel 2:13). (For map covering the region of David’s activities see DAVID.)

In the two-year civil war that followed Saul’s death, Joab quickly established himself as David’s military leader (2 Samuel 2:28). He was also a close relative of David (1 Chronicles 2:13-16). When Saul’s former commander, Abner, defected to David, Joab saw him as a threat and murdered him. Joab used the excuse that he was retaliating because Abner had killed his brother in battle. But David saw it as murder and never forgave Joab (2 Samuel 2:12-23; 2 Samuel 3:23-39; 1 Kings 2:5-6).

Not long after these events, David became undisputed king of Israel. In response to David’s declaration that he wanted to take Jerusalem from its Canaanite inhabitants, Joab led a victorious assault on the city and was rewarded by being appointed commander-in-chief of the Israelite army (1 Chronicles 11:6; 1 Chronicles 18:15). He was a clever, brave and loyal soldier (2 Samuel 10:6-19; 2 Samuel 11:1; 2 Samuel 12:262Sa_11:6-25).

When, as a consequence of David’s wrongdoing, his family started to break up, Joab tried to preserve the dynasty by ensuring that there was a recognized heir to the throne. He considered that the most suitable of David’s sons for the position was Absalom, but Absalom had committed murder and fled to a neighbouring country. Joab therefore worked out a clever plan that enabled Absalom to return from exile without having to stand trial (2 Samuel 14:1-24).

Once back in Jerusalem, Absalom heartlessly used Joab to pursue his own ambitions (2 Samuel 14:28-33). When Absalom rebelled against David and seized the throne, Joab again upheld David. He brought the rebellion to a swift end by killing Absalom, even though it was against David’s wishes (2 Samuel 18:2; 2 Samuel 18:5; 2 Samuel 18:9-16). He then rebuked David for his lack of gratitude to those who had saved him (2 Samuel 19:1-8).

Upon resuming his rule in Jerusalem, David appointed Absalom’s general, Amasa, chief of the army in place of Joab. This was clearly unfair to Joab, who had been loyal to David and won him the victory (2 Samuel 19:13). Soon there was another uprising against David. When Amasa proved himself to be a poor leader, Joab murdered him and took control of the army as of old (2 Samuel 20:4-10; 2 Samuel 20:23).

In the palace conflict to decide which son would succeed the ageing David as king, Joab supported Adonijah in opposition to Solomon, who was David’s choice (1 Kings 1:5-8; 1 Kings 1:13; 1 Kings 1:19; 1 Chronicles 28:5). On becoming king, Solomon executed Joab. A violent death seemed a fitting end for one whose life had been marked by so many acts of violence (1 Kings 2:28-35).


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Bibliography Information
Fleming, Don. Entry for 'Joab'. Bridgeway Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/bbd/j/joab.html. 2004.

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