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35. And the children of Benjamin ga
29 And Abner and his men walked all thered themselves together after Abner, and that night through the plain, and passed became one troop, and stood on the top of over Jordan, and went through all Bíthron,
and they came to Mahanaim. 26 Then Abner called to Joab, and said, 30 And Joab returned from following Shall the sword devour for ever? knowest Abner : and when he had gathered all the thou not that it will be bitterness in the people together, there lacked of David's serlatter end? how long shall it be then, ere vants nineteen men and Asahel. thou bid the people return from following 31 But the servants of David had smitten their brethren?
of Benjamin, and of Abner's men, so that 27 And Joab said, As God liveth, unless three hundred and threescore men died. thou hadst spoken, surely then "in the 32 And they took up Asahel, and bumorning the people had. sgone up every ried him in the sepulchre of his father, which one from following his brother.
was in Beth-lehem. And Joab and his men 28 So Joab blew a trumpet, and all the went all night, and they came to Hebron at people stood still, and pursued after Israel break of day. no more, neither fought they any more.
1% Heb. from the morning.
18 Or, gone away.
Verse 14. “ Let the young men now urise, and play before us.”—This has been variously understood. We have no doubt that the matter is most satisfactorily elucidated by the usages of Arabian warfare, as explained in a note to 1 Sam. xvii. As a prelude to the general combat, men from the opposite parties stood forth and challenged each other. The preceding eut of Roman gladiatorial combats, taken from bas-reliefs found at Pompeii, in which the mortal conflict of the combatants furnished an amusement in which the people greatly delighted, may serve to illustrate the mauner of such tembats, although the principle in which they originated and on which they were conducted, was very different. (See Library of Entertaining Knowledge, Pompeii, vol. i. p. 309.) 16. “ They caught every one his fellow by the head.”—Doubtless by the hair of the head—that is, either of the scalp at the beard. On account of the convenient hold which the hair of the head or beard affords to an enemy in battle, it has been the custom in most nations for soldiers to dispense with it. Among those nations who wear the hair of the head, and do not shave it off like the Mohammedans, it is usually cropped close, as among our own soldiers ; and even among some of the nations that cherish the beard, the soldiers have been persuaded or obliged to submit to the loss of it. Among both the Russians and Persians the beard is highly venerated; but in both nations the soldiers have been obliged to part with that important ornament. On the comparatively recent introduction of European tactics into the Persian army, a great stand was at first made for the retention of the beard ; and it was only through the occurrence of an accident to a bearded soldier, that the late prince royal, Abbas Meerza, was convinced of the unmilitary character of such an appendage, and reluctantly issued an order for his soldiers to be shaven. This is, however, no modern
distofery. Plutarch relates in his Apophthegms, that when all things were prepared for a battle, the officers of Alexander asked him whether he had any further commands ?. He said, “Nothing; unless that the Macedonians shave their beards." And when Parmenio expressed some surprise at this order, he added : “ Have you not observed that in fight there is no better hold than the beard ?" 18. "Light of foot as a wild roe.”—In the early history of all nations, as we have already had occasion to observe, physical endowments, such as strength and swiftness, held the very first place in the estimation of the people. We have heard much of physical characteristics and personal accomplishments, but never, or very rarely, of mental distinctions
. Among physical endowments, swiftness seems to have held no mean place in the esteem of the Hebrews. la the last chapter, we see Saul and Jonathan described as “swifter than eagles:" and now Ahasel is “ light of foot as wild roe." In like manner we find Homer thus distinguishing the hero of the Iliad, whose name continually recurs in the form of “ Achiller, swiftest of the swift.”
21. “ Lay thee knei on one of the young men, and take his armour.”—From this we see that it was the custom with the Hebrews as among other ancient nations, for the victor in a combat to strip the slain enemy of his armour, as the reward and honourable trophy of his conquest. In Homer we have continual examples of this. The heroes no sooner kill an enemy, than they jump from their chariots to secure his armour; and they are so eager in this matter, that it almost looks sometimes as if the armour of the respective combatants was the sole object of the conflict. Sometimes there is a fight over the dead body—from the anxiety of the friends of the deceased to prevent his armour from being taken, and from the eagerness of the victor and his friends to secure such honourable prey. This practice was well calculated to confuse a battle ; and seems therefore to have been restricted to the chiefs, the mass of the soldiers not being allowed to strip the dead until the next day, or at least until after the battle. Thus also in 1 Sam. xxxi. we see that the Philistines did not come to strip the slain till the following day. If Saul had been killed in single combat, his armour would doubtless have been immediately seized by the victor. Nevertheless, under every modification, the practice was attended with much inconvenience, as we discover in the Iliad (vi. 70.) from what Nestor says in his anxiety to prevent its bad consequences :
“Friends, heroes, Grecians, ministers of Mars !
Stay none behind, desirous of the spoil,
Traverse the plains, and strip them where they fell." Some curious questions as to the right to such spoil must sometimes have arisen. We find an instance of this among the Arabian conquerors of Syria. In the single combats between the Greeks and Arabians, which preluded the great and decisive battle of Yermouk, Serjabil was near being killed by a Christian officer, when Derar came to his assistance, and stabbed the latter to the heart. Then it became a question between Serjabil and Derar which had the right to the dead man's armour. Derar claimed it as having killed him ; Serjabil, as having wearied him in the combat. The difference was referred to the general, who hesitated to decide, and sent to submit the matter to the Khalif (Omar) concealing the names of the parties, and the armour being meanwhile kept by Serjabil; but it was taken from him and given to Derar, when Omar sent back his determination, to the effect that the spoil of an enemy was always due to the person by whom he was killed. (See Ockley's .Conquest of Syria,' p. 237.)
23. “ With the hinder end of the spear smote him.”—See the note in vol. i. p. 616.
was 'Rizpah, the daughter of Aiah: and
Ish-bosheth said to Abner, Wherefore hast 1 During the war David still wareth stronger. 2 thou
thou gone in unto my father's concubine? Six sons were born to him in Hebron. 6 Abner,
8 Then was Abner very wroth for the displeased with Ish-bosheth, 12 revolteth to David. 13 David requireth a condition to bring him his words of Ish-bosheth, and said, Am I a wife Michal.' !7 Abner, having communed with dog's head, which against Judah do shew the Israelites, is feasted by David, and dismissed. kindness this day unto the house of Saul 22 Joab, returning from battle, is displeased with thy father, to his brethren, and to his friends, the king, and killeth Abner. Joab, 31 and mourneth for Abner.
and have not delivered thee into the hand
of David, that thou chargest me to day with Now there was long war between the house a fault concerning this woman? of Saul and the house of David: but David 9 So do God to Abner, and more also, waxed stronger and stronger, and the house except, as the Lord hath sworn to David, of Saul waxed weaker and weaker.
even so I do to him; 2 1 And unto David were sons born in 10 To translate the kingdom from the Hebron: and his firstborn was Amnon, of house of Saul, and to set up the throne of Ahinoam the Jezreelitess;
David over Israel and over Judah, from Dan 3 And his second, Chileab, of Abigail the even to Beer-sheba. wife of Nabal the Carmelite; and the third, 11 And he could not answer Abner a word Absalom, the son of Maacah the daughter again, because he feared him. of Talmai king of Geshur;
12 And Abner sent messengers to 4 And the fourth, Adonijah the son of David on his behalf, saying, Whose is the Haggith; and the fifth, Shephatiah the son land ? saying also, Make thy league with of Abital;
me, and, behold, my hand shall be with thee, 5 And the sixth, Ithream, by Eglah Da- to bring about all Ísrael unto thee. vid's wife. These were born to David in 13 | And he said, Well; I will make a Hebron.
league with thee: but one thing I require 6 9 And it came to pass, while there was of thee, 'that is, Thou shalt not see my face, war between the house of Saul and the house except thou first bring Michal Saul's daugh. of David, that Abner made himself strong ter, when thou comest to see my face. for the house of Saul.
14 And David sent messengers to Ish7 And Saul had a concubine, whose name bosheth Saul's son, saying, Deliver me my
* Chap 31, 10
. Heb. saying,
son of Laish.
wife Michal, which I espoused to me 'for an 27 And when Abner was returned to hundred foreskins of the Philistines.
Hebron, Joab 'took him aside in the gate to 15 And Ish-bosheth sent, and took her speak with him quietly, and smote him from her husband, even from Phaltiel the there under the fifth rib, that he died, for
the blood of 'Asahel his brother. 16 And her husband went with her 'along 28 | And, afterward when David heard weeping behind her to Bahurim. Then said it, he said, I and my kingdom are guiltless Abner unto him, Go, return. And he re- before the LORD for ever from the roblood of turned.
Abner the son of Ner: 17 And Abner had communication with 29 Let it rest on the head of Joab, and the elders of Israel, saying, Ye sought for on all his father's house; and let there not David 'in times past to be king over you:
"fail from the house of Joab one that hath 18 Now then do it: for the LORD hath an issue, or that is a leper, or that leaneth spoken of David, saying, By the hand of on a staff, or that falleth on the sword, or my servant David I will save my people that lacketh bread. Israel out of the hand of the Philistines, and 30 So Joab and Abishai his brother slew out of the hand of all their enemies.
Abner, because he had slain their brother
. "Asahel in Benjamin: and Abner went also to speak in 3111And David said to Joab, and to all the ears of David in Hebron all that seemed the people that were with him, Rend your good to Israel, and that seemed good to the clothes, and gird you with sackcloth, and shole house of Benjamin.
mourn before Abner. And king David him20 So Abner came to David to Hebron, self followed the "bier. and twenty men with him. And David made Abner and the men that were with him
21 And Abner said unto David, I will arise and
go, and will gather all Israel unto my lord the king, that they may make a league with thee, and that thou mayest reign over all that thine heart desireth. "And David sent Abner away; and he went in peace.
22 ( And, behold, the servants of David and Joab came from pursuing a troop, and brought in a great spoil with them : but Abner was not with David in Hebron; for he had sent him away, and he was gone in peace.
23 When Joab and all the host that was with him were come, they told Joab, saying, Abner the son of Ner came to the king, and he hath sent him away, and he is gone
24 Then Joab came to the king, and said, What hast thou done? behold, Abner came unto thee ; why is it that thou hast sent him away, and he is quite gone?
[SACKCLOTH.) 25 Thou knowest Abner the son of Ner, that he came to deceive thee, and to know 32 And they buried Abner in Hebron: thy going out and thy coming in, and to and the king lifted up his voice, and wept know all that thou doest.
at the grave of Abner; and all the people 26 And when Joab was come out from wept. David, he sent messengers after Abner, 33 And the king lamented over Abner, which brought him again from the well of and said, Died Abner as a fool dieth? Sirah: but David knew it not.
34 Thy hands were not bound, nor thy 1Sam. 18. 25, 27.
* i Sam, 95. 44, Phalle. 5 Heb going and weeping. • Heb. both yesterday and the third day. ? 1 Kings 2. 5. Or, peaceabiy. Chap. 2. 3. 10 Heb. blouds. ii Heb. be cut of. 1 Chap. 2. 3.
13 Heb. bed.
16 Heb. tender.
feet put into fetters: as a man falleth before 37 For all the people and all Israel unwicked men, so fellest thou. And all the derstood that day that it was not of the king people wept again over him.
to slay Abner the son of Ner. 35 And when all the people came to cause 38 And the king said unto his servants, David to eat meat while it was yet day, Da- Know ye not that there is a prince and a vid sware, saying, So do God to me, and great man fallen this day in Israel? more also, if I taste bread, or ought else, till 39 And I am this day weak, though the sun be down.
anointed king; and these men the sons of 36 And all the people took notice of it, Zeruiah be too hard for me: the LORD shall and it "Spleased them: as whatsoever the reward the doer of evil according to his king did pleased all the people.
wickedness. 14 Heb. children of iniquity. 15 Heb. was good in their eyes. 30. “ Because he had slain their brother Asahel at Gibeon in the battle.”—This was what Abner himself feared, when he killed Asahel (chap. ii. 2). We are very much disposed to think that, in accounting for this treacherous act of Joab, too much stress had been laid upon his jealousy of the influence with David and authority in the state, which a man of Abner's established character was likely to acquire. Probably this consideration was not without its effect ; nor perhaps was he without that fear which he expressed, that Abner's intentions were not friendly to David: but, on the whole, we think that the reason which the text assigns is so strong in itself as to need little support from other considerations. This will appear if the reader turns to the note on blood-revenge, under Num. xxxv. It would therefore seem, that, with the Hebrews, as among the Arabians, the claim of revenge for blood extended to persons killed in war, when the slayer was known. Burckhardt observes that the Arabs always desire to know by whom a man has been killed in a battle between different tribes, that it may be determined against whom the avenger has his claim for blood; and he thinks, with great probability, that their anxiety on this subject has influenced their mode of warfare, since this fact is better ascertained in single combats and skirmishes than in the confusion of a general action. In Antar we continually observe that the next relative of a man killed in a fair fight, acts and talks as one bound to avenge his death on the slayer. To obviate the bad effects of this practice, it is sometimes customary for the sheikhs of both parties, with the consent of the majority of their people, in concluding a peace, to agree that the claims for the blood shed in the war shall on both sides be remitted. But to such terms of peace the Arabs whose friends have been slain are generally very unwilling to assent; and it often happens that, rather than do so, they leave their own tribe for a time, and settle with another, in order to reserve their right of seeking revenge. We are convinced that this principle affords a very satisfactory explanation of Joab's conduct on the present occasion; but it seems difficult to justify it, even on Arabian principles, since Abner had killed Asahel most reluctantly, and only to save his own life.
31. “ Gird you with sackcloth."-Sacks are usually made of hair in the East ; whence we may understand, that where sackcloth is mentioned, hair-cloth is intended. Hence the idea is different from that which we, whose sacks are not of the same material, would affix to the term. That this is correct seems to be confirmed by the fact, that the use of haircloth, as a penitential dress, was retained by the early Oriental 'monks, hermits, and pilgrims, and was adopted by the Roman church, which still retains it for the same purposes. Hair-cloth was, moreover, called “ sackcloth" by the early Greek and Latin fathers, and this seems conclusive. Perhaps, in a general sense, the word means any kind of very coarse cloth ; but, undoubtedly, more particularly cloth of hair than any other. Our wood-cut, on verse 31, represents one of the hair-cloth penitential dresses worn by the early devotees, designed after the old church prints of Italy. There are some remarks on this practice of assuming a mortifying dress as an expression of grief or repentance in the note to Exod. xxxiii. 4. The principle is so obvious, that there are few nations among which, in moarnings for the dead, some kind of mortifying habit has not been adopted. We do not know that sackcloth is now much used for this purpose in the East; but ornaments are relinquished, the usual dress is neglected, or it is laid aside, and one coarse or old assumed in its place.
" Bier.”—The original word is Tua (mittah), which generally denotes a bed or couch of any kind, on which a man lies in sleep. Whether therefore the sense is, that the term includes, from the analogy of use, a bier as something distinct from a bed, or that Abner was carried to his sepulchre on a proper bed, is not easy to determine. Our woodcut, in the ensuing page, represents an Egyptian bier, which, it will be seen, looks very much like a bed. The forms of the biers which appear in the funeral processions of this people are very diversified, many of them exhibiting most elaborate and expensive decorations. Our cut is a fair average specimen. It seems, then, that the Egyptians conveyed the remains of persons of distinction on bed-like biers, and such may have been the usage among the Jews. We cannot determine whether they were the same beds that were used for sleeping on, or were specially prepared for the occasion. If the former, it would prove that the Hebrews had moveable beds; and we have allowed that they might have some such, although, in general, we have supposed that they did, as the modern Orientals usually do, sleep on the ground, or on the immoveable divans or sofas of their rooms. (See the note to Deut. iii
. 11.) Upon the whole, we may conclude that persons of high distinction were carried to their sepulchres in rich beds, but the common people on biers, such as are still used in the East, and which are little other than hand-barrows. Thus, Herod was, according to Josephus, carried to his sepulchre on a bed (or ratber bedstead, or bedstead-like bier) of gold, enriched with precious stones, upon which the body lay on a purple bed, and was covered with a purple founterpane or pall. The corpse had a crown on the head, and sceptre in the right hand. This bier was surrounded by Herod's sons and kinsmen, after whom came his guards and foreign troops accoutred as if for war, who were followed by five hundred domestic servants and freedmen, with sweet spices in their hands. The bier was preceded by the bulk of Herod's army, in proper order, under their officers. This perhaps suggests a good idea of Abner's funeral procession.
But these customs were not peculiar to the East, though probably derived from thence. The great men of Rome were, after the same manner, carried to the funeral pile on beds of state. Some of these beds were of gold, or gilded, with ivory feet, or were wholly of ivory, the body being covered with a rich pall. These bed-biers were carried by the nearest relatives or the freedmen of the deceased ; but, according to Tacitus, the principal magistrates of Rome carried the funeral bed of emperors and dictators. And not only was there the bed on which the deceased lay, but many others were carried in the procession, adorned with garlands and crowns of flowers, and containing the images of the ancestors of the deceased. As many as six thousand of these beds are said to have been carried at the funcral of the dictator Sylla, and sis hundred at that of M. Marcellus, the nephew of Augustus. As we are only illustrating that part of the subject which relates to biers, we need not here state other particulars concerning the Roman funerals. Yet we may add, that the procession stopped at the place of the Rostra, where a funeral oration was delivered in honour of the deceased, which may be taken, in some degree, as analogous to the king's lamentation over Abner.
BIER.–FROM AN EGYPTIAN BAS-RELIEF AT THEBES.
33. “ Died Abner as a fool dieth 9”—“As a criminal dieth,” would better bear out the sense of what follows, which as the verse now stands, is not very intelligible. From the words—“Thy hands were not bound nor thy feet put into letters,”—we learn that it was customary to bind and fetter criminals. The idea intended to be expressed is, that Abner died as a criminal, without having been convicted of legal crime. And we imagine that the point of the allusion may be in this, that Joab killed Abner just in the same style as that in which persons capitally convicted were “ slain by the saord;" and that persons so convicted and so slain usually had their arms bound and their feet fettered, to preclude ay attempt at resistance. 35. "Till the sun be down.”—The Oriental fasts do not consist of abstinence from particnlar articles; but of absolute abstinence during the day, while at night any usual food is eaten. The Mohammedan fast of Ramazan, for instance, is observed by such fasting by day and eating at night; while the Christians keep the fast of Lont by daily abstinence from some particular sorts of food, as flesh-meat, &c., to which they are accustomed. The former was doubtless the Jewish mode of fasting.
nathan out of Jezreel, and his nurse took CHAPTER IV.
and fled: and it came to pass, as she The Israelites being troubled at the death of Ab- made haste to flee, that he fell, and became ner, 2 Baanah and Rechab slay Ish-bosheth, and
lame. And his name was Mephibosheth. bring his head to Hebron. 9 David causeth them to be slain, and Ish-bosheth's head to be buried.
5 And the sons of Rimmon the Beeroth
ite, Rechab and Baanah, went, and came And when Saul's son heard that Abner was about the heat of the day to the house of dead in Hebron, his hands were feeble, and Ish-bosheth, who lay on a bed at noon. all the Israelites were troubled.
6 And they came thither into the midst 2 And Saul's son had two men that were of the house, as though they would have captains of bands : the name of the one was fetched wheat; and they smote him under Baanah, and the name of the 'other Rechab, the fifth rib: and Rechab and Baanah his the sons of Rimmon a Beerothite, of the brother escaped. children of Benjamin: (for Beeroth also was 7 For when they came into the house, he reckoned to Benjamin:
lay on his bed in his bedchamber, and they 3 And the Beerothites fled to Gittaim, smote him, and slew him, and beheaded and were sojourners there until this day.) him, and took his head, and gat them away 4 And Jonathan, Saul's son, had through the plain all night. that was lame of his feet. He was five years 8 And they brought the head of Ishold when the tidings came of Saul and Jo- bosheth unto David to Hebron, and said tu