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Poole on 2 Samuel 4:9-12: David's Response to Ish-bosheth's Murder

Verse 9:[1]  And David answered Rechab and Baanah his brother, the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, and said unto them, As the LORD liveth, (Gen. 48:16; 1 Kings 1:29; Ps. 31:7) who hath redeemed my soul out of all adversity…

[The Lord liveth, who hath plucked, etc.]  That is to say, who hath hitherto fulfilled, and is going to fulfill His promise concerning my preservation, not by a work misdeeds, as is yours, but holily (Junius).  [But to a great many this is the form of an oath.]  As Jehovah lives, so shall I do to you what I shall next say.  They are the words of one swearing, but abrupt and clipped (Piscator).

Who hath redeemed my soul out of all adversity:  Who hath hitherto delivered and will deliver me from all mine enemies.  So that I needed not your wicked help in this way.


Verse 10:[2]  When (2 Sam. 1:2, 4, 15) one told me, saying, Behold, Saul is dead, thinking to have brought good tidings (Heb. he was in his own eyes as a bringer,[3] etc.), I took hold of him, and slew him in Ziklag, who thought that I would have given him a reward for his tidings (or, which was the reward I gave him for his tidings[4])…

[Since the one that had announced it, etc., ‎וגו״ כִּ֣י הַמַּגִּיד֩ לִ֙י]  [The connection of these words is obscure.  A great many connect them with the antecedent form of swearing, in this ways, if not the one that announced to met, etc. (Syriac).  That he that indicated to met, etc. (Jonathan).  That, just as I have done with him that had announced, etc., so on wicked men, etc., I shall be avenged, etc. (Arabic).]  Others thus:  while the one that was announcing, etc., I killed, etcHow much more, etc. (Junius, Piscator).

[Who thought that he was announcing favorable things,וְהֽוּא־הָיָ֤ה כִמְבַשֵּׂר֙ בְּעֵינָ֔יו]  And he himself was evangelizing, as it were (announcing joyful tidings [Junius and Tremellius, similarly the Syriac, Arabic, etc.]).  In his eyes (Montanus, Pagnine).

[To whom it was fitting to give a recompense for the announcement (similarly the Septuagint), ‎אֲשֶׁ֥ר לְתִתִּי־ל֖וֹ בְּשֹׂרָֽה׃]  Verbatim:  who I was going to give to him the reward of the announcement (Montanus).  Because to me was the announcement to be fulfilled to him; that is to say, what recompense was rightfully due to him from me, as his just εὐαγγέλιον, reward of good news (Junius).  To whom recompenses were appearing to be due from me (Strigelius).  Rather than that I should give to him a reward for the announcement (Syriac).  So that I might give to him a reward for the announcement (Tigurinus, Munster); who was thinking that I was going to give to him a reward for the announcement (Munster); who was thinking to imbue me with joy, that I might give to him a reward for his announcement (Hebrews in Vatablus); who had come, that I might give, etc. (Piscator, certain interpreters in Vatablus).


Verse 11:[5]  How much more, when wicked men have slain a righteous person in his own house upon his bed? shall I not therefore now (Gen. 9:5, 6) require his blood of your hand, and take you away from the earth?

[How much more now, etc., ‎וגו״ אַ֞ף כִּֽי־אֲנָשִׁ֣ים רְשָׁעִ֗ים הָרְג֧וּ]  Even because impious men murdered, etc. (Montanus).  How much more when impious men have killed, etc., shall I require blood, etc. (Syriac, similarly Munster, Tigurinus).  How much more is it fitting for wicked men, who murdered, etc. (Junius and Tremellius); understand out of the end of the preceding verse, that I render such recompense to the messenger (Piscator).  I would prefer it thus:  how much more shall I kill wicked men, namely, you Piscator, similarly Vatablus, Tigurinus Notes[6]).

[A harmless man]  Hebrew:  righteous.[7]  Question:  How does he say this about him, who was holding another’s kingdom, etc.?  Responses:  1.  He was reckoning that to himself in good faith, as if it were pertaining to a son of Saul; for the right of David to it was not clear:  or he was able to think it to have regard to the tribe of Judah alone (Lapide).  2.  Righteous, that is, who was liable to the punishment of death (Junius).  A man who had done no harm to them, and hence was expecting nothing of the sort from them (Grotius, similarly Junius, Piscator, Malvenda).  As, on the contrary, those are wont to be called wicked, that is, injurii/unjust, Exodus 2:13[8] and elsewhere, who afflict another with injuria/ injury (Junius).  3.  He was righteous, if he be compared with those brigands.  Just as in Ezekiel 16:51 Judah is said to have justified Samaria, etc. (Martyr).  He calls him a man, not a King; for he had not been made King rightfully (Grotius).

A righteous person; for so he was comparatively, and in respect of these men, having not deserved death at their hands.


Verse 12:[9]  And David (2 Sam. 1:15) commanded his young men, and they slew them, and cut off their hands and their feet, and hanged them up over the pool in Hebron.  But they took the head of Ishibosheth, and buried it in the sepulchre of Abner in Hebron.

[And cutting off their hands and feet, etc.]  While they were yet living, who then, having been mutilated in this way, were crucified (Menochius out of Theodoret[10]).  But Scripture indicates that they were killed immediately, with a sword or spear; and then the hands, wherewith they had committed murder, and the feet, wherewith they had hastened to it, were cut off, and suspended and displayed as a memorial of the crime and as vengeance for it (Lapide).  He does this to win the hearts of the Israelites (Martyr).  He did this beyond the precept of the Law.  The Rabbis note, that nothing is able to be diminished from the punishments named in the Law (for God according to His mercy decreed punishments, altogether fair and the least possible); but it is lawful for a magistrate, because of the heinousness of a sin, to aggravate and augment the punishments.  Thus Adoni-bezek’s digits of his hands and feet were cut off, because he had previously done that to others, Judges 1:6, 7; and David commanded eight sheep to be rendered, 2 Samuel 12 (Martyr).

His young men; those of his guard, who used to execute justice upon malefactors at the king’s command.  Their hands and their feet; which had been most instrumental in this villany; their hands to cut off his head, and their feet to carry them away, and his head with them.  Hanged them up over the pool in Hebron; as monuments of their villany, and of David’s abhorrency of it.

[1] Hebrew:  ‎וַיַּ֙עַן דָּוִ֜ד אֶת־רֵכָ֣ב׀ וְאֶת־בַּעֲנָ֣ה אָחִ֗יו בְּנֵ֛י רִמּ֥וֹן הַבְּאֵֽרֹתִ֖י וַיֹּ֣אמֶר לָהֶ֑ם חַי־יְהוָ֕ה אֲשֶׁר־פָּדָ֥ה אֶת־נַפְשִׁ֖י מִכָּל־צָרָֽה׃

[2] Hebrew: כִּ֣י הַמַּגִּיד֩ לִ֙י לֵאמֹ֜ר הִנֵּה־מֵ֣ת שָׁא֗וּל וְהֽוּא־הָיָ֤ה כִמְבַשֵּׂר֙ בְּעֵינָ֔יו וָאֹחֲזָ֣ה ב֔וֹ וָאֶהְרְגֵ֖הוּ בְּצִֽקְלָ֑ג אֲשֶׁ֥ר לְתִתִּי־ל֖וֹ בְּשֹׂרָֽה׃

[3] Hebrew:  ‎וְהֽוּא־הָיָ֤ה כִמְבַשֵּׂר֙ בְּעֵינָ֔יו.

[4] Hebrew:  ‎אֲשֶׁ֥ר לְתִתִּי־ל֖וֹ בְּשֹׂרָֽה׃.

[5] Hebrew: אַ֞ף כִּֽי־אֲנָשִׁ֣ים רְשָׁעִ֗ים הָרְג֧וּ אֶת־אִישׁ־צַדִּ֛יק בְּבֵית֖וֹ עַל־מִשְׁכָּב֑וֹ וְעַתָּ֗ה הֲל֙וֹא אֲבַקֵּ֤שׁ אֶת־דָּמוֹ֙ מִיֶּדְכֶ֔ם וּבִעַרְתִּ֥י אֶתְכֶ֖ם מִן־הָאָֽרֶץ׃

[6] The marginal notes in the Tigurinus Version are properly attributed to Vatablus, having been preserved by his students from his oral lectures.

[7] Hebrew:  ‎צַדִּיק.

[8] Exodus 2:13:  “And when he went out the second day, behold, two men of the Hebrews strove together:  and he said to him that did the wrong (‎לָרָשָׁע, to the wicked one), Wherefore smitest thou thy fellow?”

[9] Hebrew: וַיְצַו֩ דָּוִ֙ד אֶת־הַנְּעָרִ֜ים וַיַּהַרְג֗וּם וַֽיְקַצְּצ֤וּ אֶת־יְדֵיהֶם֙ וְאֶת־רַגְלֵיהֶ֔ם וַיִּתְל֥וּ עַל־הַבְּרֵכָ֖ה בְּחֶבְר֑וֹן וְאֵ֙ת רֹ֤אשׁ אִֽישׁ־בֹּ֙שֶׁת֙ לָקָ֔חוּ וַיִּקְבְּר֥וּ בְקֶֽבֶר־אַבְנֵ֖ר בְּחֶבְרֽוֹן׃ פ

[10] Theodoret (393-457) was bishop of Cyrus, and a significant participant in the Christological controversies of his age.  He was an advocate of Antiochian dyophysitism, or moderate Nestorianism, although he condemned the Nestorian affirmation of two Sons in Christ, and the Nestorian denial that Mary was Theotokos, that is, the Mother of God.  His orthodoxy was cleared at the Council of Chalcedon (451). With respect to exegetical method, Theodoret came up under the tutelage of Theodore of Mopsuestia and John Chrysostom.  He commented on most of the books of the Bible; his comments on the Scripture are sober, and clear in expression.

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Matthew Henry: 'We have here justice done upon the murderers of Ishbosheth.

I. Sentence passed upon them. There needed no evidence, their own tongues witnessed against them; they were so far from denying the fact that they gloried in it. David therefore shows them the heinousness of the crime, and that blood called for blood from his hand, who was now the chief magistrate, and was by office the avenger of blood. And, perhaps, he was the more vigorous in the prosecution because for reasons of state he had spared Joab: "Shall I not require the blood of the slain at the hand of the slayers, and, since they cannot make restitution, take theirs instead of it?" Observe, 1. How…


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