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Barnes' Notes on the Bible
1Now Joab the son of Zeruiah perceived that the king's heart was toward Absalom.
2And Joab sent to Tekoah, and fetched thence a wise woman, and said unto her, I pray thee, feign thyself to be a mourner, and put on now mourning apparel, and anoint not thyself with oil, but be as a woman that had a long time mourned for the dead:
Tekoah - In the south of Judah, six miles from Bethlehem, the modern Tekua. The rough, wild district was well suited for the lawless profession of the wise woman; it abounds in caves, as does the country near Endor.
3And come to the king, and speak on this manner unto him. So Joab put the words in her mouth.
Come to the king - The king as a judge was accessible to all his subjects (2 Samuel 15:2; compare 1 Kings 3:16).
4And when the woman of Tekoah spake to the king, she fell on her face to the ground, and did obeisance, and said, Help, O king.
Spake - Seems to be an accidental error for came, which is found in many manuscipts and versions.
Help - literally, save (see the margin). It is the same cry as Hosanna, i. e. save now Psalm 118:25.
5And the king said unto her, What aileth thee? And she answered, I am indeed a widow woman, and mine husband is dead.
6And thy handmaid had two sons, and they two strove together in the field, and there was none to part them, but the one smote the other, and slew him.
7And, behold, the whole family is risen against thine handmaid, and they said, Deliver him that smote his brother, that we may kill him, for the life of his brother whom he slew; and we will destroy the heir also: and so they shall quench my coal which is left, and shall not leave to my husband neither name nor remainder upon the earth.
The whole family ... - This indicates that all the king's sons, and the whole court, were against Absalom, and that the knowledge of this was what hindered David from yielding to his affection and recalling him.
8And the king said unto the woman, Go to thine house, and I will give charge concerning thee.
I will give charge ... - Indirectly granting her petition, and assenting that her son's life should be spared.
9And the woman of Tekoah said unto the king, My lord, O king, the iniquity be on me, and on my father's house: and the king and his throne be guiltless.
The iniquity be on me ... - Compare the principle in Genesis 9:5-6; Numbers 35:30-34. The woman therefore says, if there is any such guilt in sparing my son, may it rest upon me and my house, not on David and his throne. Compare 2 Samuel 3:28. The cunning speech of the woman extracted a more direct promise of protection from the king 2 Samuel 14:1.
10And the king said, Whosoever saith ought unto thee, bring him to me, and he shall not touch thee any more.
11Then said she, I pray thee, let the king remember the LORD thy God, that thou wouldest not suffer the revengers of blood to destroy any more, lest they destroy my son. And he said, As the LORD liveth, there shall not one hair of thy son fall to the earth.
12Then the woman said, Let thine handmaid, I pray thee, speak one word unto my lord the king. And he said, Say on.
Having at last obtained what she wanted, the king's oath that her son should not die, she proceeds to the case of Absalom. The meaning of 2 Samuel 14:13 may be paraphrased thus: "If you have done right as regards my son, how is it that you harbor such a purpose of vengeance against Absalom as to keep him, one of God's people, an outcast in a pagan country, far from the worship of the God of Israel? Upon your own showing you are guilty of a great fault in not allowing Absalom to return."
The king doth speak ... - literally, "And from the king speaking this word (this sentence of absolution to my son) he is as one guilty; i. e. the sentence you have pronounced in favor of my son condemns your own conduct toward Absalom."
13And the woman said, Wherefore then hast thou thought such a thing against the people of God? for the king doth speak this thing as one which is faulty, in that the king doth not fetch home again his banished.
14For we must needs die, and are as water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again; neither doth God respect any person: yet doth he devise means, that his banished be not expelled from him.
His banished - The use of the word as applied to one of the people of God driven into a pagan land, is well illustrated by Deuteronomy 30:4-5; Jeremiah 40:12; Micah 4:6; Zephaniah 3:19.
Neither doth God respect any person - Some prefer the margin: "And God does not take away life, in the case of every sin that deserves death, e. g. David's own case 2 Samuel 12:13, but devises devices that the wanderer may not be forever expelled from him, i. e., for the return of penitent sinners."
15Now therefore that I am come to speak of this thing unto my lord the king, it is because the people have made me afraid: and thy handmaid said, I will now speak unto the king; it may be that the king will perform the request of his handmaid.
The people have made me afraid - She pretends still that her suit was a real one, and that she was in fear of the people ("the whole family," 2 Samuel 14:7) setting upon her and her son.
16For the king will hear, to deliver his handmaid out of the hand of the man that would destroy me and my son together out of the inheritance of God.
17Then thine handmaid said, The word of my lord the king shall now be comfortable: for as an angel of God, so is my lord the king to discern good and bad: therefore the LORD thy God will be with thee.
As an angel of God - Rather, as "the" Angel of God; and therefore whatever David decided would be right.
18Then the king answered and said unto the woman, Hide not from me, I pray thee, the thing that I shall ask thee. And the woman said, Let my lord the king now speak.
19And the king said, Is not the hand of Joab with thee in all this? And the woman answered and said, As thy soul liveth, my lord the king, none can turn to the right hand or to the left from ought that my lord the king hath spoken: for thy servant Joab, he bade me, and he put all these words in the mouth of thine handmaid:
20To fetch about this form of speech hath thy servant Joab done this thing: and my lord is wise, according to the wisdom of an angel of God, to know all things that are in the earth.
21And the king said unto Joab, Behold now, I have done this thing: go therefore, bring the young man Absalom again.
22And Joab fell to the ground on his face, and bowed himself, and thanked the king: and Joab said, To day thy servant knoweth that I have found grace in thy sight, my lord, O king, in that the king hath fulfilled the request of his servant.
23So Joab arose and went to Geshur, and brought Absalom to Jerusalem.
24And the king said, Let him turn to his own house, and let him not see my face. So Absalom returned to his own house, and saw not the king's face.
Let him not see my face - We are not told why David adopted this half-measure. Possibly Bath-sheba's influence may have been exerted to keep Absalom in disgrace for the sake of Solomon.
25But in all Israel there was none to be so much praised as Absalom for his beauty: from the sole of his foot even to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him.
26And when he polled his head, (for it was at every year's end that he polled it: because the hair was heavy on him, therefore he polled it:) he weighed the hair of his head at two hundred shekels after the king's weight.
Two hundred shekels ... - The exact weight cannot be determined. If these "shekels after the king's weight" were the same as "shekels of the sanctuary," the weight would be about 6 lbs., which is incredible; "twenty" shekels is more probable.
27And unto Absalom there were born three sons, and one daughter, whose name was Tamar: she was a woman of a fair countenance.
Three sons - These probably died in infancy (see the marginal reference). From Tamar must have been born Maachah, the mother of Abijah, and the favorite wife of Rehoboam 1 Kings 15:2; 2 Chronicles 11:20-22.
28So Absalom dwelt two full years in Jerusalem, and saw not the king's face.
29Therefore Absalom sent for Joab, to have sent him to the king; but he would not come to him: and when he sent again the second time, he would not come.
30Therefore he said unto his servants, See, Joab's field is near mine, and he hath barley there; go and set it on fire. And Absalom's servants set the field on fire.
31Then Joab arose, and came to Absalom unto his house, and said unto him, Wherefore have thy servants set my field on fire?
32And Absalom answered Joab, Behold, I sent unto thee, saying, Come hither, that I may send thee to the king, to say, Wherefore am I come from Geshur? it had been good for me to have been there still: now therefore let me see the king's face; and if there be any iniquity in me, let him kill me.
33So Joab came to the king, and told him: and when he had called for Absalom, he came to the king, and bowed himself on his face to the ground before the king: and the king kissed Absalom.
Kissed - This was the pledge of reconciliation. (See the marginal references and Genesis 45:15.)