And David numbered the people that were with him, and set captains of thousands and captains of hundreds over them.
captains of thousands
And David sent forth a third part of the people under the hand of Joab, and a third part under the hand of Abishai the son of Zeruiah, Joab's brother, and a third part under the hand of Ittai the Gittite. And the king said unto the people, I will surely go forth with you myself also.
a third part
the hand of Joab
I will surely
But the people answered, Thou shalt not go forth: for if we flee away, they will not care for us; neither if half of us die, will they care for us: but now thou art worth ten thousand of us: therefore now it is better that thou succour us out of the city.
if we flee
care for us
Heb. set their heart on us. but now. The particle ‚ttah, Now, is doubtless a mistake for the pronoun attah, Thou: and so it appears to have been read by the LXX., Vulgate, and Chaldee, and by two of Kennicott's and De Rossi's MSS.
Heb. as ten thousand of us.
Heb. be to succour.
And the king said unto them, What seemeth you best I will do. And the king stood by the gate side, and all the people came out by hundreds and by thousands.
by the gate
David's small company, by this time, was greatly recruited; but what its number was we cannot tell. Josephus says it amounted only to 4,000 men.
And the king commanded Joab and Abishai and Ittai, saying, Deal gently for my sake with the young man, even with Absalom. And all the people heard when the king gave all the captains charge concerning Absalom.
all the people
So the people went out into the field against Israel: and the battle was in the wood of Ephraim;
wood of Ephraim
The wood of Ephraim was evidently beyond Jordan, and apparently not far from Mahanaim; and it is supposed to be the place where the Ephraimites were slain by Jephthah.
Where the people of Israel were slain before the servants of David, and there was there a great slaughter that day of twenty thousand men.
twenty thousand men
For the battle was there scattered over the face of all the country: and the wood devoured more people that day than the sword devoured.
in the wood
That is, probably, many more were slain in pursuit through the wood than in the battle, by falling into swamps, pits, etc., and being entangled and cut down by David's men. Such is the relation of Josephus; but the Chaldee, Syriac, and Arabic state, that they were devoured by wild beasts in the wood.
Heb. multiplied to devour.
And Absalom met the servants of David. And Absalom rode upon a mule, and the mule went under the thick boughs of a great oak, and his head caught hold of the oak, and he was taken up between the heaven and the earth; and the mule that was under him went away.
Riding furiously under the thick boughs of a great oak, which hung low and had never been cropped, either the twisted branches, or some low forked bough of the tree, caught him by the neck, or, as some think, by the loops into which his long hair had been pinned, which had been so much his pride, and was now justly made a halter for him. He may have hung so low from the bough, in consequence of the length of his hair, that he could not use his hands to help himself, or so entangled that his hands were bound, so that the more he struggled the more he was embarrassed. This set him up as a fair mark to the servants of David; and although David would have spared his rebellious son, if his orders had been executed, yet he could not turn the sword of Divine justice, in executing the just, righteous sentence of death on this traitorous son.
And the man said unto Joab, Though I should receive a thousand shekels of silver in mine hand, yet would I not put forth mine hand against the king's son: for in our hearing the king charged thee and Abishai and Ittai, saying, Beware that none touch the young man Absalom.
Heb. weigh upon mine hand. in our hearing.
Heb. Beware, whosoever ye be, of the, etc.
Otherwise I should have wrought falsehood against mine own life: for there is no matter hid from the king, and thou thyself wouldest have set thyself against me.
for there is no
Then said Joab, I may not tarry thus with thee. And he took three darts in his hand, and thrust them through the heart of Absalom, while he was yet alive in the midst of the oak.
Heb. before thee. thrust them.
And Joab blew the trumpet, and the people returned from pursuing after Israel: for Joab held back the people.
blew the trumpet
And they took Absalom, and cast him into a great pit in the wood, and laid a very great heap of stones upon him: and all Israel fled every one to his tent.
This was the ancient method of burying, whether heroes or traitors; the heap of stones being designed to perpetuate the memory of the event, whether good or bad. The Arabs in general make use of no other monument than a heap of stones over a grave. Thus, in an Arabic poem, it is related, that Hatim the father, and Adi the grandfather of Kais, having been murdered, at a time before Kais was capable of reflection, his mother kept it a profound secret; and in order to guard him against having any suspicion, she collected a parcel of stone on two hillocks in the neighbourhood, and told her son that the one was the grave of his father, and the other of his grandfather. The ancient cairns in Ireland and Scotland, and the tumuli in England, are of this kind.
Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and reared up for himself a pillar, which is in the king's dale: for he said, I have no son to keep my name in remembrance: and he called the pillar after his own name: and it is called unto this day, Absalom's place.
I have no son
Josephus says there was in his time, about two furlongs from Jerusalem, a marble pillar called Absalom's hand, as it is in the Hebrew, (See note on 1 Sa 15:12;) and there is one shown to the present day, in the valley of Jehoshaphat, which, though comparatively a modern structure, probably occupies the site of the original one set up by Absalom.
Then said Ahimaaz the son of Zadok, Let me now run, and bear the king tidings, how that the LORD hath avenged him of his enemies.
Heb. judged him from the hand, etc.
And Joab said unto him, Thou shalt not bear tidings this day, but thou shalt bear tidings another day: but this day thou shalt bear no tidings, because the king's son is dead.
Heb. be a man of tidings.
Then said Ahimaaz the son of Zadok yet again to Joab, But howsoever, let me, I pray thee, also run after Cushi. And Joab said, Wherefore wilt thou run, my son, seeing that thou hast no tidings ready?
Heb. be what may. ready. or, convenient.
But howsoever, said he, let me run. And he said unto him, Run. Then Ahimaaz ran by the way of the plain, and overran Cushi.
And David sat between the two gates: and the watchman went up to the roof over the gate unto the wall, and lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold a man running alone.
And the watchman said, Me thinketh the running of the foremost is like the running of Ahimaaz the son of Zadok. And the king said, He is a good man, and cometh with good tidings.
Heb. I see.
He is a good
And Ahimaaz called, and said unto the king, All is well. And he fell down to the earth upon his face before the king, and said, Blessed be the LORD thy God, which hath delivered up the men that lifted up their hand against my lord the king.
All is well
or, Peace be to thee. Heb. Peace. he fell down upon his face. This act was not only in reverence to the king, but in humble adoration of God, whose name he praises for this victory. The more our hearts are fixed and enlarged, in thanksgiving to God for our mercies, the better disposed we shall be to bear with patience the afflictions mixed with them.
Heb. shut up.
And the king said, Is the young man Absalom safe? And Ahimaaz answered, When Joab sent the king's servant, and me thy servant, I saw a great tumult, but I knew not what it was.
Is the young man Absalom safe? Heb
is there peace to, etc. I saw a great.
And, behold, Cushi came; and Cushi said, Tidings, my lord the king: for the LORD hath avenged thee this day of all them that rose up against thee.
Heb. Tidings is brought. the Lord.
19,28 22:48,49 Deuteronomy 32:35,36 Psalms 58:10 94:1-4 124:2,3 Luke 18:7,8 Cushi was the man Joab ordered to carry the tidings to David. He was an Ethiopian, as his name signifies, and some think he was so by birth--a black, who waited on Joab, probably one of the ten who had helped to dispatch Absalom; though it was dangerous for one of those to bring the news to David, lest his fate should be the same with theirs that reported the death of Saul and Ishbosheth to him.
And the king said unto Cushi, Is the young man Absalom safe? And Cushi answered, The enemies of my lord the king, and all that rise against thee to do thee hurt, be as that young man is.
Thus Cushi obliquely and slowly informs David of the death of his son Absalom.
And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!