Now Joab the son of Zeruiah perceived that the king's heart was toward Absalom.
A. M. 2977. B. C. 1027. An. Ex. Is. 464. Joab
And 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 was a city of Judah, situated, according to Eusebius and Jerome, twelve miles south of Jerusalem. Josephus says it was not far from the castle of Herodium; and Jerome (Prologue to Amos) says it stood on a hill six miles south from Bethlehem. Dr. Poccocke places it at the same distance; and says there are still considerable ruins on the top of a hill, which is about half a mile long and a furlong broad.
And come to the king, and speak on this manner unto him. So Joab put the words in her mouth.
put the words
And 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.
fell on her
And the king said unto her, What aileth thee? And she answered, I am indeed a widow woman, and mine husband is dead.
I am indeed
It is very possible that the principal incidents mentioned here were real; and that Joab found out a person whose circumstances bore a near resemblance to that which he wished to represent. She did not make the similitude too plain and visible, lest the king should see her intention before she had obtained a grant of pardon; and thus her circumstances, her mournful tale, her widow's dress, her aged person, (for Josephus says she was advanced in years,) and her impressive manner, all combined to make one united irresistible impression on the heart of the aged monarch.
And 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.
and they two
none to part
Heb. no deliverer between.
And, 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.
upon the earth
Heb. upon the face of the earth.
And the king said unto the woman, Go to thine house, and I will give charge concerning thee.
I will give
And 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.
and the king
Then 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.
let the king
Heb. the revenger of blood do not multiply to destroy. the revengers.
As the Lord
not one hair
Then the woman said, Let thine handmaid, I pray thee, speak one word unto my lord the king. And he said, Say on.
speak one word
And 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.
in that the king
For 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.
or, because God hath not taken away his life, he hath also devised means, etc. God.
Then 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.
Heb. for rest. as an angel. This is very much like the hyperbolical language which is addressed by the Hindoos to an European when they desire to obtain something from him: "Saheb," say they, "can do every thing. No one can prevent the execution of Saheb's commands. Saheb is God." Though the expression may be imputed to the hyperbolical genius of these countries, yet there was, perhaps, more of real persuasion than we are apt to suppose. Sir John Chardin states, that having found fault with the king of Persia's valuation of a rich trinket, the grand master told him that if a Persian had dared to have done such a thing, it would have been as much as his life was worth. "Know," said he, "that the kings of Persia have a general and full knowledge of matters, as sure as it is extensive; and that, equally in the greatest and smallest things, there is nothing more just and sure than what they pronounce."
Heb. to hear.
Then 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.
And 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:
As thy soul
To 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.
And the king said unto Joab, Behold now, I have done this thing: go therefore, bring the young man Absalom again.
I have done
And 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.
I have found
So Joab arose and went to Geshur, and brought Absalom to Jerusalem.
And 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
But 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.
But in all Israel, etc
Heb. And as Absalom there was not a beautiful man in all Israel to praise greatly.
from the sole
And 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.
when he polled
two hundred shekels
If the shekel be allowed to mean the common shekel, the amount will be utterly incredible; for Josephus says that "two hundred shekels make five minÊ:" and the mina, he says, "weighs two pounds and a half;" which calculation makes Absalom's hair weigh twelve pounds and a half! But it is probable that the king's shekel was that which Epiphanius and Hesychius say was the fourth part of an ounce, half a stater, or two drachms: the whole amount, therefore, of the 200 shekels is about 50 ounces, which make 4 lb. 2 oz. troy weight, or 3 lb. 2 oz. avoirdupois. This need not be accounted incredible, especially as abundance of oil and ointment was used by the ancients in dressing their heads. Josephus informs us, that the Jews also put gold dust in their hair.
And unto Absalom there were born three sons, and one daughter, whose name was Tamar: she was a woman of a fair countenance.
So Absalom dwelt two full years in Jerusalem, and saw not the king's face.
A. M. 2977-2979. B.C. 1027-1025. An. Ex. Is. 464-466. and saw not
Therefore 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.
but he would
Therefore 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.
Heb. near my place. go and set.
And 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.
it had been
So 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.