[2-Samuel 2:1] AND IT CAME TO PASS AFTER THIS, THAT DAVID ENQUIRED OF THE LORD, SAYING, SHALL I GO UP INTO ANY OF THE CITIES OF JUDAH? AND THE LORD SAID UNTO HIM, GO UP. AND DAVID SAID, WHITHER SHALL I GO UP? AND HE SAID, UNTO HEBRON.
[2-Samuel 2:2] SO DAVID WENT UP THITHER, AND HIS TWO WIVES ALSO, AHINOAM THE JEZREELITESS, AND ABIGAIL NABAL'S WIFE THE CARMELITE.
[2-Samuel 2:3] AND HIS MEN THAT WERE WITH HIM DID DAVID BRING UP, EVERY MAN WITH HIS HOUSEHOLD: AND THEY DWELT IN THE CITIES OF HEBRON.
[2-Samuel 2:4] AND THE MEN OF JUDAH CAME, AND THERE THEY ANOINTED DAVID KING OVER THE HOUSE OF JUDAH. AND THEY TOLD DAVID, SAYING, THAT THE MEN OF JABESHGILEAD WERE THEY THAT BURIED SAUL.
We see here further evidence of an incipient division between Judah and Nothern Israel. David went up to Hebron in Judah and then the men of Judah came and anointed David over them. The other Tribes remained loyal to the House of Saul.
[2-Samuel 2:5] AND DAVID SENT MESSENGERS UNTO THE MEN OF JABESHGILEAD, AND SAID UNTO THEM, BLESSED BE YE OF THE LORD, THAT YE HAVE SHEWED THIS KINDNESS UNTO YOUR LORD, EVEN UNTO SAUL, AND HAVE BURIED HIM.
Saul in his lifetime pursued David and could have been considered the enemy of David. By sending a blessing to the men of Jabesh-Gilead David was removing any hesitation about himself they might have lest he be vindicative to the followers of Saul.
[2-Samuel 2:6] AND NOW THE LORD SHEW KINDNESS AND TRUTH UNTO YOU: AND I ALSO WILL REQUITE YOU THIS KINDNESS, BECAUSE YE HAVE DONE THIS THING.
Saul during his lifetime was their legitimate monarch David praised their loyalty and promised to reward them. David was in fact announcing that sooner or later he too would be monarch over all Israel. The Sages said that the descendants of the half-tribe of Manasseh east of the Jordan of whom the men of Jabesh-Gilead were part would be the first among the Lost Ten Tribes to be redeemed as we explained in our book "Joseph". Their descendants today are to be found in the USA especially the West and the Bible Belt.
[2-Samuel 2:7] THEREFORE NOW LET YOUR HANDS BE STRENGTHENED, AND BE YE VALIANT: FOR YOUR MASTER SAUL IS DEAD, AND ALSO THE HOUSE OF JUDAH HAVE ANOINTED ME KING OVER THEM.
David is hinting that the people of Jabesh-Gilead (representing Israel east of the Jordan) accept him as their monarch just as the men of Judah had done. David did not make an open demand apparently because he already sensed that they would not accept his offer. This way David would have found it easier not to take offence and leave the door open for the future. We should learn from this. Sometimes our spouse and children and those who "owe" us some degree of deference are not as respectful as they should be. We should avoid situations that place our "self-respect" on the line. It is often better not to make an issue out of matters unless one really has to.
[2-Samuel 2:8] BUT ABNER THE SON OF NER, CAPTAIN OF SAUL'S HOST, TOOK ISHBOSHETH THE SON OF SAUL, AND BROUGHT HIM OVER TO MAHANAIM;
Abner was the son of Ner and the brother of Kish both being the sons of Abiel. Kish was the father of Saul and so Abner was the uncle of Saul (1-Samuel 14:50-51).
"ISHBOSHETH" i.e. Ish-Boshet" literally "Man of Shame" . he is also known as "ESHBAAL" (1-Chronicles 8:33 9: 39) meaning "Man of Baal". Commentators suggest the Eshbaal was his real name. "Baal" literally means "master" and at that time could have been a term applied to God. AND IT SHALL BE AT THAT DAY, SAITH THE LORD, THAT THOU SHALT CALL ME ISHI; AND SHALT CALL ME NO MORE BAALI [Hosea 2:16].
Later when the appellation became associated exclusively with idol worship it is thought that the word "boshet" (shame) was inserted by the Narrator in place of "baal". This is not necessarily so since other explanations are possible. Nevertheless it may be worth noting.
Bar-Ephrat quotes from Jeremiah 11:13: FOR ACCORDING TO THE NUMBER OF THY CITIES WERE THY GODS, O JUDAH; AND ACCORDING TO THE NUMBER OF THE STREETS OF JERUSALEM HAVE YE SET UP ALTARS TO THAT SHAMEFUL THING [Hebrew: "boshet"], EVEN ALTARS TO BURN INCENSE UNTO BAAL.
Here the word "Boshet" (translated as SHAMEFUL THING) alternates with BAAL.
The chief god of the "Celts" in Britain and Ireland appears to have been named "Bel" which is a Middle Eastern alternate way of pronouncing the name "baal". In Scandinavia there was the god "Balder" who was also worshipped by the Anglo-Saxons.
Boshet means "shame" BUT in Hebrew one word-root can receive numerous modifications that give it modifications of the original meaning and in some cases even the direct opposite, e.g. "ShoReSh" meaning "root" (from the wordroot "ShRSh") can connote "take root" but with a mild inclination to "SHaReSH" it becomes "uproot". So too, the word "BoSHeT" (as part of a name in "Ishboshet", "Mephiboshet", etc) could connote something similar to the English word "Bashful", i.e. shy diffident, self-conscious. In this case "Boshet" (from the root "BUSH" meaning "shame") becomes a sense of shame in its positive sense of modesty and diffidence and this indeed was a quality that the House of Saul possessed and valued.
The dictionaries give the origin of the English word "bashful" as deriving from "abash" (to make ashamed or uneasy) and this from the French "abaiss" and ultimately from the Latin "baer, "to gape".
This may well be but to my mind it is doubtful.
Why is it that so many English words make better sense when explained in terms of Hebrew words
that sound very similar that they do when explained in terms of "Old French", "Old German", "Latin",
or some other source?
<<MAHANAIM>>: This place was east of the Jordan River
[2-Samuel 2:9] AND MADE HIM KING OVER GILEAD, AND OVER THE ASHURITES, AND OVER JEZREEL, AND OVER EPHRAIM, AND OVER BENJAMIN, AND OVER ALL ISRAEL.
GILEAD was east of the Jordan and extended into Syria and reached (under the term "Bashan) to the Euphrates.
The ASHURITES appear to be the areas of the Israelite Tribe of Asher that were in the North and included the region of Northern Syria and Lebanon.
JEZREEL was the northern Galilee including Manasseh and the other tribes of that region.
EPHRAIM was south of Manasseh.
BENJAMIN was between Ephraim and Judah.
ALL ISRAEL included all the other areas of Israel not mentioned above apart from Judah in the south.
If we included JUDAH as a separate entity in this division we thus have Seven sections that the area of Israel was divided into: Gilead, Asherites, Jeezreal, Ephraim, Benjamin, All (the rest of) Israel, Judah.
[2-Samuel 2:10] ISHBOSHETH SAUL'S SON WAS FORTY YEARS OLD WHEN HE BEGAN TO REIGN OVER ISRAEL, AND REIGNED TWO YEARS. BUT THE HOUSE OF JUDAH FOLLOWED DAVID.
We see here, as elsewhere, that from the beginning Judah tended to keep itself separate from Israel.
[2-Samuel 2:11] AND THE TIME THAT DAVID WAS KING IN HEBRON OVER THE HOUSE OF JUDAH WAS SEVEN YEARS AND SIX MONTHS.
[2-Samuel 2:1 AND ABNER THE SON OF NER, AND THE SERVANTS OF ISHBOSHETH THE SON OF SAUL, WENT OUT FROM MAHANAIM TO GIBEON.
"GIBEON" was in Benjamin near Jerusalem. They may have intended to cause a provocation with the forces of David.
[2-Samuel 2:13] AND JOAB THE SON OF ZERUIAH, AND THE SERVANTS OF DAVID, WENT OUT, AND MET TOGETHER BY THE POOL OF GIBEON: AND THEY SAT DOWN, THE ONE ON THE ONE SIDE OF THE POOL, AND THE OTHER ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE POOL.
Archaeologists have uncovered at the site of Gibeon a gigantic well twelve meters in diameter and very deep (descent is by a staircase winding around the side) that is considered the be the pool spoken of here.
[2-Samuel 2:14] AND ABNER SAID TO JOAB, LET THE YOUNG MEN NOW ARISE, AND PLAY BEFORE US. AND JOAB SAID, LET THEM ARISE.
There is an opinion that the intention was that they conduct a kind of "sparring match" but not actually try to kill each other but events got out of hand. Another opinion was that the forces of Abner and Joab had come down intending to war against each other but after coming together they tried to resolve matters by a mini-battle between chosen representatives. At all events, the bottom line is that matters took their own course.
[2-Samuel 2:15] THEN THERE AROSE AND WENT OVER BY NUMBER TWELVE OF BENJAMIN, WHICH PERTAINED TO ISHBOSHETH THE SON OF SAUL, AND TWELVE OF THE SERVANTS OF DAVID.
The twelve champions chosen by each party may have symbolized the conflicting claims of both sides to represent all the twelve tribes.
[2-Samuel 2:16] AND THEY CAUGHT EVERY ONE HIS FELLOW BY THE HEAD, AND THRUST HIS SWORD IN HIS FELLOW'S SIDE; SO THEY FELL DOWN TOGETHER: WHEREFORE THAT PLACE WAS CALLED HELKATHHAZZURIM, WHICH IS IN GIBEON.
<<WHEREFORE THAT PLACE WAS CALLED>>: This is a common expression in Scripture. It does not necessarily mean that the place was so called AFTER the event. It may have been the name of that place from the beginning only the name that the place had presaged the event(s) that were to take place there.
<<HELKATHHAZZURIM>>: "Portion of the Tsurim". This name could originally have connoted, "Place of the Rocks (Tsurim)". Tsur can also mean "flint". Originally (as explained by Shimeon Ben-Ephrat, "Shmuel-B", Mikra le-Ysirael) blades were made out of flint and "tsur" came to mean "blade", and retained that meaning the of knife, or sword even when metal was used.
<<HELKATH>> can mean "portion" or "division" or "quarrel".
The secondary meaning of the name of the place was therefore "The Quarrel of the Swords".
[2-Samuel 2:17] AND THERE WAS A VERY SORE BATTLE THAT DAY; AND ABNER WAS BEATEN, AND THE MEN OF ISRAEL, BEFORE THE SERVANTS OF DAVID.
[2-Samuel 2:18] AND THERE WERE THREE SONS OF ZERUIAH THERE, JOAB, AND ABISHAI, AND ASAHEL: AND ASAHEL WAS AS LIGHT OF FOOT AS A WILD ROE.
[2-Samuel 2:19] AND ASAHEL PURSUED AFTER ABNER; AND IN GOING HE TURNED NOT TO THE RIGHT HAND NOR TO THE LEFT FROM FOLLOWING ABNER.
[2-Samuel 2:20] THEN ABNER LOOKED BEHIND HIM, AND SAID, ART THOU ASAHEL? AND HE ANSWERED, I AM.
[2-Samuel 2:21] AND ABNER SAID TO HIM, TURN THEE ASIDE TO THY RIGHT HAND OR TO THY LEFT, AND LAY THEE HOLD ON ONE OF THE YOUNG MEN, AND TAKE THEE HIS ARMOUR. BUT ASAHEL WOULD NOT TURN ASIDE FROM FOLLOWING OF HIM.
[2-Samuel 2:2 AND ABNER SAID AGAIN TO ASAHEL, TURN THEE ASIDE FROM FOLLOWING ME: WHEREFORE SHOULD I SMITE THEE TO THE GROUND? HOW THEN SHOULD I HOLD UP MY FACE TO JOAB THY BROTHER?
Abner was the head of the armed forces of Saul and Joab that of David. Even though the two sides were usually in a state of hostility with each other there were periods of co-existence and even co-operation in a permanent love-hate relationship. (Remind you of some marriages?).
[2-Samuel 2:23] HOWBEIT HE REFUSED TO TURN ASIDE: WHEREFORE ABNER WITH THE HINDER END OF THE SPEAR SMOTE HIM UNDER THE FIFTH RIB, THAT THE SPEAR CAME OUT BEHIND HIM; AND HE FELL DOWN THERE, AND DIED IN THE PLACE: AND IT CAME TO PASS, THAT AS MANY AS CAME TO THE PLACE WHERE ASAHEL FELL DOWN AND DIED STOOD STILL.
Since Asahel was pursuing Abner and would not leave off we may say that Abner had no choice. The Sages however explain that Abner was an expert warrior. He struck Asahel in the fifth rib in the place of the heart. He could have struck him elsewhere and simply disabled him. It appears that Asahel was young, inexperienced, over-confident, and no match for Abner. Amongst champion fighters one finds the psychological type of Abner. If challenged by foolhardy "drunks" and the like they try to squirm out of an encounter. When however being pushed to retaliate they finally do fight they then cannot resist employing their full fighting abilities. On the other hand in such encounters it can also be claimed that there is no such thing as a weak opponent who can be let off lightly. A few years ago in Jerusalem a well-known expert police marksman came face to face with an Arab terrorist armed with a knife. He shot his opponent in the leg from close range apparently intending to simply disable and arrest him. Even though shot severely in the leg the terrorist kept going and stabbed the policeman to death.
[2-Samuel 2:24] JOAB ALSO AND ABISHAI PURSUED AFTER ABNER: AND THE SUN WENT DOWN WHEN THEY WERE COME TO THE HILL OF AMMAH, THAT LIETH BEFORE GIAH BY THE WAY OF THE WILDERNESS OF GIBEON.
[2-Samuel 2:25] AND THE CHILDREN OF BENJAMIN GATHERED THEMSELVES TOGETHER AFTER ABNER, AND BECAME ONE TROOP, AND STOOD ON THE TOP OF AN HILL.
We see here that the main force of Abner came from Benjamin to which tribe both he and Saul belonged. We also see from the language that they were not beaten even though their losses were many times greater. They halted their retreat and re-grouped. They were prepared to resume fighting.
[2-Samuel 2:26] THEN ABNER CALLED TO JOAB, AND SAID, SHALL THE SWORD DEVOUR FOR EVER? KNOWEST THOU NOT THAT IT WILL BE BITTERNESS IN THE LATTER END? HOW LONG SHALL IT BE THEN, ERE THOU BID THE PEOPLE RETURN FROM FOLLOWING THEIR BRETHREN?
There was no point in civil strife. Sooner or later the two sides of Israel would have to re-unite. Why should there remain needless resentment and sense of bereavement caused by the other side.
The British helped the Jews re-settle the Land of "Palestine" and were indirectly responsible for the foundation of the State of Israel. Towards the end of the British Mandate the British tried to impede Jewish development, prevent Jewish immigration, and in some cases assisted the Arab enemy. Memories of those days still exist and certain uincidents have left bitter memories that sometimes necessitate an almost apologetic approach on the part of Brit-Am. So too, on the British side one is sometimes reminded that the Jews in "Palestine" were shooting at "our boys".
Before, during and after WWII there was a limit on the number of Jews allowed to enter "Palestine". Jews who tried to enter the Land "Illegally" and were caught were interned in Cyprus. At one stage, Ernest Bevin, the British Minister, ordered ships of "illegal" immigrants to be sent back to Europe accompanied by British soldiers. An article by Hagi Segal in the Hebrew-language newspaper "BeSheva" (13.11.05, p.13 quoting from a Succoth issue of "Maariv") cites a British source as saying that the soldiers who accompanied Jewish refugees sent back to Europe were never allowed to return to "Palestine". They had in effect more-or-less mutinied in protest. Disciplinary measures were however not taken against them in order not to arouse political interest in the subject.
[2-Samuel 2:27] AND JOAB SAID, AS GOD LIVETH, UNLESS THOU HADST SPOKEN, SURELY THEN IN THE MORNING THE PEOPLE HAD GONE UP EVERY ONE FROM FOLLOWING HIS BROTHER.
[2-Samuel 2:28] SO JOAB BLEW A TRUMPET, AND ALL THE PEOPLE STOOD STILL, AND PURSUED AFTER ISRAEL NO MORE, NEITHER FOUGHT THEY ANY MORE.
[2-Samuel 2:29] AND ABNER AND HIS MEN WALKED ALL THAT NIGHT THROUGH THE PLAIN, AND PASSED OVER JORDAN, AND WENT THROUGH ALL BITHRON, AND THEY CAME TO MAHANAIM.
[2-Samuel 2:30] AND JOAB RETURNED FROM FOLLOWING ABNER: AND WHEN HE HAD GATHERED ALL THE PEOPLE TOGETHER, THERE LACKED OF DAVID'S SERVANTS NINETEEN MEN AND ASAHEL.
The loss of Asahel was to prove more consequential than that of the others.
[2-Samuel 2:31] BUT THE SERVANTS OF DAVID HAD SMITTEN OF BENJAMIN, AND OF ABNER'S MEN, SO THAT THREE HUNDRED AND THREESCORE MEN DIED.
For every man killed on David's side there fell 18 on the side of Israel.
[2-Samuel 2:3 AND THEY TOOK UP ASAHEL, AND BURIED HIM IN THE SEPULCHRE OF HIS FATHER, WHICH WAS IN BETHLEHEM. AND JOAB AND HIS MEN WENT ALL NIGHT, AND THEY CAME TO HEBRON AT BREAK OF DAY.
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