[2-Samuel 15:1] AND IT CAME TO PASS AFTER THIS, THAT ABSALOM PREPARED HIM CHARIOTS AND HORSES, AND FIFTY MEN TO RUN BEFORE HIM.
The three eldest sons of David were Amnon, Chileab, and Absalom:
"AND UNTO DAVID WERE SONS BORN IN HEBRON: AND HIS FIRSTBORN WAS AMNON, OF AHINOAM THE JEZREELITESS;
" AND HIS SECOND, CHILEAB, OF ABIGAIL THE WIFE OF NABAL THE CARMELITE; AND THE THIRD, ABSALOM THE SON OF MAACAH THE DAUGHTER OF TALMAI KING OF GESHUR
Amnon was dead; Chileab was also dead or somehow impaired as suggested by Daat Mikra. Absalom saw himself as the successor to David.
[2-Samuel 15: AND ABSALOM ROSE UP EARLY, AND STOOD BESIDE THE WAY OF THE GATE: AND IT WAS SO, THAT WHEN ANY MAN THAT HAD A CONTROVERSY CAME TO THE KING FOR JUDGMENT, THEN ABSALOM CALLED UNTO HIM, AND SAID, OF WHAT CITY ART THOU? AND HE SAID, THY SERVANT IS OF ONE OF THE TRIBES OF ISRAEL.
Part of the task of the king was to judge the people. The king apparently had the task of overseeing judgment in general (1-Samuel 8:5) and in making exceptions when necessary. This was the case we saw above (2-Samuel ch.14) when the woman from Tekoa came to David to ask that an exception in the strict rule of law be made on behalf of her son. The king was a kind of super-ombudsman with supreme executive abilities.
<<THY SERVANT IS OF ONE OF THE TRIBES OF ISRAEL>>: Daat Mikra suggests that this hints at Tribal resentment. The complainant would have come from one of the northern tribes. He would already have considered himself to have been done an injustice. In addition a feeling of resentment seems to have existed as we shall see) amongst the northern tribes that they were not receiving equality of treatment. The complainant would therefore have been somebody with a personal grudge that may (or may not) have been justified along with the attitude of being discriminated against because of his family background.
The mother of Absalom was from Geshur in the north on the frontier and Absalom had returned from exile at the court of his grandfather in Geshur. Maybe Absalom had "northern" mannerisms and characteristics (as opposed to southern "Judean" ones) that appealed to his fellow northerners?
[2-Samuel 15:3] AND ABSALOM SAID UNTO HIM, SEE, THY MATTERS ARE GOOD AND RIGHT; BUT THERE IS NO MAN DEPUTED OF THE KING TO HEAR THEE.
[2-Samuel 15:4] ABSALOM SAID MOREOVER, OH THAT I WERE MADE JUDGE IN THE LAND, THAT EVERY MAN WHICH HATH ANY SUIT OR CAUSE MIGHT COME UNTO ME, AND I WOULD DO HIM JUSTICE!
In other words people who had suffered injustice (or felt they had) because of the course of the law would be turned away and commiserated with by Absalom. This in effect may actually have only occurred in a few cases but it could have happened with people who later supported Absalom.
[2-Samuel 15:5] AND IT WAS SO, THAT WHEN ANY MAN CAME NIGH TO HIM TO DO HIM OBEISANCE, HE PUT FORTH HIS HAND, AND TOOK HIM, AND KISSED HIM.
[2-Samuel 15:6] AND ON THIS MANNER DID ABSALOM TO ALL ISRAEL THAT CAME TO THE KING FOR JUDGMENT: SO ABSALOM STOLE THE HEARTS OF THE MEN OF ISRAEL.
[2-Samuel 15:7] AND IT CAME TO PASS AFTER FORTY YEARS, THAT ABSALOM SAID UNTO THE KING, I PRAY THEE, LET ME GO AND PAY MY VOW, WHICH I HAVE VOWED UNTO THE LORD, IN HEBRON.
<<AFTER FORTY YEARS>>: It is not certain what the 40 years were after. The Sages say it was 40 years after Israel had asked Samuel for a king. Others say it was 40 years after David was anointed or 40 years after the beginning of David to reign and therefore in his last year.
[2-Samuel 15:8] FOR THY SERVANT VOWED A VOW WHILE I ABODE AT GESHUR IN SYRIA, SAYING, IF THE LORD SHALL BRING ME AGAIN INDEED TO JERUSALEM, THEN I WILL SERVE THE LORD.
[2-Samuel 15:9] AND THE KING SAID UNTO HIM, GO IN PEACE. SO HE AROSE, AND WENT TO HEBRON.
Absalom was born in Hebron. Hebron was in Judah. There was (in the opinion of Daat Mikra) a "High Place" at Hebron on which sacrifices could be offered before the Temple was built in Jerusalem. David had been anointed as king over all Israel in Hebron (2-Samuel 5:3). Hebron is also the site of the Cave of the Patriarchs where Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebeccah, Jacob, and Leah are buried.
[2-Samuel 15:10] BUT ABSALOM SENT SPIES THROUGHOUT ALL THE TRIBES OF ISRAEL, SAYING, AS SOON AS YE HEAR THE SOUND OF THE TRUMPET, THEN YE SHALL SAY, ABSALOM REIGNETH IN HEBRON.
[2-Samuel 15:11] AND WITH ABSALOM WENT TWO HUNDRED MEN OUT OF JERUSALEM, THAT WERE CALLED; AND THEY WENT IN THEIR SIMPLICITY, AND THEY KNEW NOT ANY THING.
[2-Samuel 15:12] AND ABSALOM SENT FOR AHITHOPHEL THE GILONITE, DAVID'S COUNSELLOR, FROM HIS CITY, EVEN FROM GILOH, WHILE HE OFFERED SACRIFICES. AND THE CONSPIRACY WAS STRONG; FOR THE PEOPLE INCREASED CONTINUALLY WITH ABSALOM.
<<AHITHOPHEL THE GILONITE>>: He was from Giloh in Jerusalem.
[2-Samuel 15:13] AND THERE CAME A MESSENGER TO DAVID, SAYING, THE HEARTS OF THE MEN OF ISRAEL ARE AFTER ABSALOM.
<<THE MEN OF ISRAEL>>: Hebrew "Ish-Ysrael" in the singular connoting both unity and importance.
[2-Samuel 15:14] AND DAVID SAID UNTO ALL HIS SERVANTS THAT WERE WITH HIM AT JERUSALEM, ARISE, AND LET US FLEE; FOR WE SHALL NOT ELSE ESCAPE FROM ABSALOM: MAKE SPEED TO DEPART, LEST HE OVERTAKE US SUDDENLY, AND BRING EVIL UPON US, AND SMITE THE CITY WITH THE EDGE OF THE SWORD.
Shimeon ben-Ephrat ("Mikra leYisrael") points out that David faces up to reality. He has no hope of holding out in Jerusalem and so he immediately decides to temporarily abandon it while make preparations for resistance elsewhere.
The considerations of David include his wish not to cause undue suffering to the population of Jerusalem.
[2-Samuel 15:15] AND THE KING'S SERVANTS SAID UNTO THE KING, BEHOLD, THY SERVANTS ARE READY TO DO WHATSOEVER MY LORD THE KING SHALL APPOINT.
[2-Samuel 15:16] AND THE KING WENT FORTH, AND ALL HIS HOUSEHOLD AFTER HIM. AND THE KING LEFT TEN WOMEN, WHICH WERE CONCUBINES, TO KEEP THE HOUSE.
[2-Samuel 15:17] AND THE KING WENT FORTH, AND ALL THE PEOPLE AFTER HIM, AND TARRIED IN A PLACE THAT WAS FAR OFF.
David left the city, all his people followed, David then stood apart and watched all his followers pass before him, taking stock of the situation. David plans the overthrow of Abshalom, intends to beat him, yet discourages some of they who wish to come with him from doing so due to the excessive risk involved in their cases or their relative lack of obligation.
[2-Samuel 15:18] AND ALL HIS SERVANTS PASSED ON BESIDE HIM; AND ALL THE CHERETHITES, AND ALL THE PELETHITES, AND ALL THE GITTITES, SIX HUNDRED MEN WHICH CAME AFTER HIM FROM GATH, PASSED ON BEFORE THE KING.
<<THE CHERETHITES, AND ALL THE PELETHITES>>: The exact meaning is disputed. A common opinion is that these were foreign mercenaries who owed their allegiance to David alone.
<<CHERETHITES>>: In Hebrew "Creti" and possibly meaning soldiers from the Isle of Crete. Incidentally the presence of Danites on the Isle of Crete (as well as Cyprus) appears to be attested by archaeological findings.
The chief city of Crete was Minoa and Cretan culture is well known. Gaza was also known as Minoa after the Minoans of Crete and it would appear that some of the Philistines came from that area.
Connections with Ancient Crete have been found in Scotland and in Northwest Germany,
#4. New Find: Bronze Age Crete-North Frisia [Northwest Germany] Connections
see 2-Samuel 8:18.
The Link between Crete and the Philistines is recalled in the Bible:
[Ezekiel 25:16] THEREFORE THUS SAITH THE LORD GOD; BEHOLD, I WILL STRETCH OUT MINE HAND UPON THE PHILISTINES, AND I WILL CUT OFF THE CHERETHIMS, AND DESTROY THE REMNANT OF THE SEA COAST.
<<CHERETHIMS>>: in Modern Hebrew Kretim. This means Crete. It was the name of an area of Philistia and also refers to the fact that part of the Philistines came from Crete and related areas. They were part of Minoan civilization. Linguistic evidence links the Philistines with the Pelasgians of Greece and with areas on the eastern coast of the Adriatic. Don Isaac Abarbanel quoted sources that linked the Philistines with the Venetians and Genoese of Italy.
[Zephaniah 2:5] WOE UNTO THE INHABITANTS OF THE SEA COAST, THE NATION OF THE CHERETHITES! THE WORD OF THE LORD IS AGAINST YOU; O CANAAN, THE LAND OF THE PHILISTINES, I WILL EVEN DESTROY THEE, THAT THERE SHALL BE NO INHABITANT.
Here all the peoples mentioned appear to be segments of the Philistine nation. Cherethites means people from the island of Crete which together with Cyprus was a Phillistine base though at times Israelites also ruled over it.
Some say (see Yehudah Kiel) that the PELETHITES were descendants of JERAHMEEL (1-Chronicles 2:33) of Judah from the southern Negev Desert region. This explanation however does not fit with them being associated with the Cherethites and Gittites and related to as foreign volunteers.
A recent book by Trude and Moshe Dothan bears the title of A People of the Sea: The Search for the Philistnes 1996). They say that Plst/Prst (an Egyptian term for the Peleset/Pelethites = Philistines) may appear in Prstvae (a tribe of the Illyrian/Croatian coast), so may be part of the maritime dispersal of the Sea-Peoples after the Egyptian victories.
[2-Samuel 15:19] THEN SAID THE KING TO ITTAI THE GITTITE, WHEREFORE GOEST THOU ALSO WITH US? RETURN TO THY PLACE, AND ABIDE WITH THE KING: FOR THOU ART A STRANGER, AND ALSO AN EXILE.
[2-Samuel 15:20] WHEREAS THOU CAMEST BUT YESTERDAY, SHOULD I THIS DAY MAKE THEE GO UP AND DOWN WITH US? SEEING I GO WHITHER I MAY, RETURN THOU, AND TAKE BACK THY BRETHREN: MERCY AND TRUTH BE WITH THEE.
[2-Samuel 15:21] AND ITTAI ANSWERED THE KING, AND SAID, AS THE LORD LIVETH, AND AS MY LORD THE KING LIVETH, SURELY IN WHAT PLACE MY LORD THE KING SHALL BE, WHETHER IN DEATH OR LIFE, EVEN THERE ALSO WILL THY SERVANT BE.
[2-Samuel 15:22] AND DAVID SAID TO ITTAI, GO AND PASS OVER. AND ITTAI THE GITTITE PASSED OVER, AND ALL HIS MEN, AND ALL THE LITTLE ONES THAT WERE WITH HIM.
They were from the Philistine city of Gath and had remained faithful to David and continued in his service and stayed with him when he fled from Absalom.
[2-Samuel 15:23] AND ALL THE COUNTRY WEPT WITH A LOUD VOICE, AND ALL THE PEOPLE PASSED OVER: THE KING ALSO HIMSELF PASSED OVER THE BROOK KIDRON, AND ALL THE PEOPLE PASSED OVER, TOWARD THE WAY OF THE WILDERNESS.
[2-Samuel 15:24] AND LO ZADOK ALSO, AND ALL THE LEVITES WERE WITH HIM, BEARING THE ARK OF THE COVENANT OF GOD: AND THEY SET DOWN THE ARK OF GOD; AND ABIATHAR WENT UP, UNTIL ALL THE PEOPLE HAD DONE PASSING OUT OF THE CITY.
[2-Samuel 15:25] AND THE KING SAID UNTO ZADOK, CARRY BACK THE ARK OF GOD INTO THE CITY: IF I SHALL FIND FAVOUR IN THE EYES OF THE LORD, HE WILL BRING ME AGAIN, AND SHEW ME BOTH IT, AND HIS HABITATION:
[2-Samuel 15:26] BUT IF HE THUS SAY, I HAVE NO DELIGHT IN THEE; BEHOLD, HERE AM I, LET HIM DO TO ME AS SEEMETH GOOD UNTO HIM.
[2-Samuel 15:27] THE KING SAID ALSO UNTO ZADOK THE PRIEST, ART NOT THOU A SEER? RETURN INTO THE CITY IN PEACE, AND YOUR TWO SONS WITH YOU, AHIMAAZ THY SON, AND JONATHAN THE SON OF ABIATHAR.
[2-Samuel 15:28] SEE, I WILL TARRY IN THE PLAIN OF THE WILDERNESS, UNTIL THERE COME WORD FROM YOU TO CERTIFY ME.
<<TO CERTIFY ME>>: Hebrew "leHagid li", i.e. to inform me.
[2-Samuel 15:29] ZADOK THEREFORE AND ABIATHAR CARRIED THE ARK OF GOD AGAIN TO JERUSALEM: AND THEY TARRIED THERE.
[2-Samuel 15:30] AND DAVID WENT UP BY THE ASCENT OF MOUNT OLIVET, AND WEPT AS HE WENT UP, AND HAD HIS HEAD COVERED, AND HE WENT BAREFOOT: AND ALL THE PEOPLE THAT WAS WITH HIM COVERED EVERY MAN HIS HEAD, AND THEY WENT UP, WEEPING AS THEY WENT UP
[2-Samuel 15:31] AND ONE TOLD DAVID, SAYING, AHITHOPHEL IS AMONG THE CONSPIRATORS WITH ABSALOM. AND DAVID SAID, O LORD, I PRAY THEE, TURN THE COUNSEL OF AHITHOPHEL INTO FOOLISHNESS.
Counsel is very important in warfare and all other matters. No matter how powerful a force may be the decisive element is the decisions as to its use. The fate of entire enterprises in effect hinges on the whims and understanding of a few individuals. David prayed that the Almighty would turn the decision-making ability of the opposing side against itself.
[2-Samuel 15:32] AND IT CAME TO PASS, THAT WHEN DAVID WAS COME TO THE TOP OF THE MOUNT, WHERE HE WORSHIPPED GOD, BEHOLD, HUSHAI THE ARCHITE CAME TO MEET HIM WITH HIS COAT RENT, AND EARTH UPON HIS HEAD:
<<HUSHAI THE ARCHITE>>: He was from the Tribe of Benjamin and dwelt in the region of Beth-el to the north of Jerusalem.
[2-Samuel 15:33] UNTO WHOM DAVID SAID, IF THOU PASSEST ON WITH ME, THEN THOU SHALT BE A BURDEN UNTO ME:
[2-Samuel 15:34] BUT IF THOU RETURN TO THE CITY, AND SAY UNTO ABSALOM, I WILL BE THY SERVANT, O KING; AS I HAVE BEEN THY FATHER'S SERVANT HITHERTO, SO WILL I NOW ALSO BE THY SERVANT: THEN MAYEST THOU FOR ME DEFEAT THE COUNSEL OF AHITHOPHEL.
[2-Samuel 15:35] AND HAST THOU NOT THERE WITH THEE ZADOK AND ABIATHAR THE PRIESTS? THEREFORE IT SHALL BE, THAT WHAT THING SOEVER THOU SHALT HEAR OUT OF THE KING'S HOUSE, THOU SHALT TELL IT TO ZADOK AND ABIATHAR THE PRIESTS.
Zadok was the High Priest (Cohen haGadol) whereas Abiathar had formerly served as High Priest and at this point served as Deputy High Priest who would fill in as High Priest when required.
[2-Samuel 15:36] BEHOLD, THEY HAVE THERE WITH THEM THEIR TWO SONS, AHIMAAZ ZADOK'S SON, AND JONATHAN ABIATHAR'S SON; AND BY THEM YE SHALL SEND UNTO ME EVERY THING THAT YE CAN HEAR.
A special relationship existed between David and the Priestly (Cohen) Families which could deserve a separate study of which several probably already exist.
[2-Samuel 15:37] SO HUSHAI DAVID'S FRIEND CAME INTO THE CITY, AND ABSALOM CAME INTO JERUSALEM.
[2-Samuel 16:1] 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.
"ZIBA" was "THE SERVANT OF MEPHIBOSHETH" (2-Samuel 9:2) who was the son of Jonathan and grandson of Saul. Mephibosheth was lame due to an accident in his infancy and Ziba was the caretaker of his concerns.
<< BOTTLE>>: Hebrew "NEBEL" meaning the stomach of a sheep or goat made into a receptacle. The same word is used for a frequently-mentioned musical instrument leading (along with other indications) some to suggest that a bag-pipe was intended.
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