Bible Highlights: 2 Samuel 16-17-18 > Theocratic Ministry School

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2 SAMUEL 16:3

“The king now said: “And where is the son of your master?” At this Ziʹba said to the king: “He is staying in Jerusalem, for he said, ‘Today the house of Israel will give back the royal rule of my father to me.’””

*** w02 2/15 pp. 14-15 par. 11 They Coped With Thorns in Their Flesh ***
11 Later on, Mephibosheth had to contend with another thorn in his flesh. His servant Ziba slandered him before King David, who was then fleeing Jerusalem because of the rebellion of Absalom, David’s son. Ziba said that Mephibosheth had disloyally stayed behind in Jerusalem in the hope of acquiring the kingship for himself. David believed Ziba’s slander and turned over all of Mephibosheth’s property to that liar!—2 Samuel 16:1-4.

*** w02 2/15 p. 15 They Coped With Thorns in Their Flesh ***
An ambitious scheme of that kind would have been out of character for such an appreciative, humble man as Mephibosheth. No doubt he well knew the faithful record set by his father, Jonathan. Although a son of King Saul, Jonathan had humbly recognized David as Jehovah’s choice to be king over Israel. (1 Samuel 20:12-17) As the God-fearing parent of Mephibosheth and a loyal friend to David, Jonathan would not have taught his young son to aspire to royal power.

2 SAMUEL 16:9

“Then A•bishʹai the son of Ze•ruʹiah said to the king: “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over, please, and take off his head.””

*** w99 5/1 p. 32 A Victory Over Evil ***
A Victory Over Evil
“WHY should this dead dog call down evil upon my lord the king? Let me go over, please, and take off his head.” This request came from Abishai, an Israelite army chief. It was his angry response when he heard his lord, King David, being hatefully abused by a Benjamite named Shimei.—2 Samuel 16:5-9.
Abishai was yielding to a philosophy commonly espoused today—the principle of fighting fire with fire. Yes, Abishai wanted to make Shimei suffer for the insults that he had heaped upon David.

2 SAMUEL 16:10

“But the king said: “What do I have to do with you, you sons of Ze•ruʹiah? Let him curse me, for Jehovah has said to him, ‘Curse David!’ So who should say, ‘Why are you doing this?’””

*** it-2 p. 301 Malediction ***
Because David recognized that only Jehovah can make a malediction effective, he rejected Abishai’s angry request to be allowed to go and ‘take off the head’ of Shimei, who was abusively calling down evil on David. David said: “Let him alone that he may call down evil, for Jehovah has said so to him! Perhaps Jehovah will see with his eye, and Jehovah will actually restore to me goodness instead of his malediction this day.” (2Sa 16:5-12; compare Ps 109:17, 18, 28.)

2 SAMUEL 16:11

“David then said to A•bishʹai and all his servants: “Here my own son, who came from my own body, is seeking my life, and how much more now a Benʹja•min•ite! Leave him alone so that he may curse me, for Jehovah told him to!”

*** w99 5/1 p. 32 A Victory Over Evil ***
What, though, was David’s reaction? David restrained Abishai, saying: “Let him alone.” Although innocent of Shimei’s charges, David humbly resisted the temptation to retaliate. Instead, he left the matter in Jehovah’s hands.—2 Samuel 16:10-13.
When David returned to the throne after fleeing from an unsuccessful revolt by his son, among the first to greet him and ask for forgiveness was Shimei. Again Abishai wanted to kill him, but again David did not allow it.—2 Samuel 19:15-23.
In this instance, David proved to be a worthy picture of Jesus Christ, of whom the apostle Peter wrote: “When he was being reviled, he did not go reviling in return . . . but kept on committing himself to the one who judges righteously.”—1 Peter 2:23.
Today, Christians are admonished to be “humble in mind, not paying back injury for injury.” (1 Peter 3:8, 9) By following the course set by David and Jesus Christ, we too can “keep conquering the evil with the good.”—Romans 12:17-21.

2 SAMUEL 16:16

“When Huʹshai the Arʹchite, David’s friend, came in to Abʹsa•lom, Huʹshai said to Abʹsa•lom: “Long live the king! Long live the king!””

*** it-1 p. 34 Absalom ***
Occupying Jerusalem and the palace, Absalom accepted Hushai’s apparent defection to his side after first making a sarcastic reference to Hushai’s being the faithful “companion” of David. Then, acting on Ahithophel’s counsel, Absalom publicly had relations with his father’s concubines as proof of the complete break between himself and David and of his unrelenting determination to maintain control of the throne. (2Sa 16:15-23) In this way the latter part of Nathan’s inspired prophecy saw fulfillment.—2Sa 12:11.

2 SAMUEL 16:17

“At this Abʹsa•lom said to Huʹshai: “Is this your loyal love toward your friend? Why did you not go with your friend?””

*** it-1 p. 34 Absalom ***
Occupying Jerusalem and the palace, Absalom accepted Hushai’s apparent defection to his side after first making a sarcastic reference to Hushai’s being the faithful “companion” of David. Then, acting on Ahithophel’s counsel, Absalom publicly had relations with his father’s concubines as proof of the complete break between himself and David and of his unrelenting determination to maintain control of the throne. (2Sa 16:15-23) In this way the latter part of Nathan’s inspired prophecy saw fulfillment.—2Sa 12:11.

2 SAMUEL 16:21

“At that A•hithʹo•phel said to Abʹsa•lom: “Have relations with your father’s concubines, those whom he left behind to take care of the house. Then all Israel will hear that you have made yourself a stench to your father, and those who support you will be strengthened.””

*** w05 5/15 p. 13 Mari—Ancient Queen of the Desert ***
The tablets found at Mari also shed light on certain Bible passages. For example, the tablets indicate that taking possession of an enemy’s harem was “a fundamental fact of royal conduct at the time.” The counsel of the traitor Ahithophel to King David’s son Absalom to have relations with his father’s concubines was by no means original.—2 Samuel 16:21, 22.

*** it-1 p. 34 Absalom ***
Then, acting on Ahithophel’s counsel, Absalom publicly had relations with his father’s concubines as proof of the complete break between himself and David and of his unrelenting determination to maintain control of the throne. (2Sa 16:15-23) In this way the latter part of Nathan’s inspired prophecy saw fulfillment.—2Sa 12:11.

2 SAMUEL 16:22

“So they pitched a tent for Abʹsa•lom on the roof, and Abʹsa•lom had relations with the concubines of his father before the eyes of all Israel.”

*** si p. 62 par. 21 Bible Book Number 10—2 Samuel ***
21 Back in Jerusalem, at Ahithophel’s suggestion, the usurper Absalom has relations with his father’s concubines “under the eyes of all Israel.” This is in fulfillment of Nathan’s prophetic judgment. (16:22; 12:11) Also, Ahithophel counsels Absalom to take a force of 12,000 men and hunt David down in the wilderness. However, Hushai, who has won his way into Absalom’s confidence, recommends a different course. And just as David has prayed, the counsel of Ahithophel is frustrated. Judaslike, the frustrated Ahithophel goes home and strangles himself.

*** it-1 p. 495 Concubine ***
Since by Oriental custom the wives and concubines of a king could only become those of his legal successor, Absalom, who demonstrated the greatest disrespect for David, tried to strengthen his efforts to get the kingship by having relations with the ten concubines of his father David. (2Sa 16:21, 22)

*** it-2 p. 157 King ***
Wives and property. The marriage and family customs of the Judean kings included the practice of having a plurality of wives and concubines, although the Law stipulated that the king was not to multiply wives to himself. (De 17:17) The concubines were considered to be crown property and were passed on to the successor to the throne along with the rights and property of the king. To marry or take possession of one of the deceased king’s concubines was tantamount to publishing a claim to the throne. Hence, Absalom’s having relations with the concubines of his father, King David, and Adonijah’s requesting as wife Abishag, David’s nurse and companion in his old age, were equivalent to claims on the throne. (2Sa 16:21, 22; 1Ki 2:15-17, 22) These were treasonable acts.

2 SAMUEL 17:10

“Even the courageous man whose heart is like that of a lion will surely melt in fear, for all Israel knows that your father is a mighty man and that the men with him are courageous.”

*** w96 7/15 p. 32 You Can Have “the Heart of the Lion” ***
You Can Have “the Heart of the Lion”
THE Bible sometimes uses the lion as a symbol of courage and confidence. Valiant or courageous men are described as having “the heart of the lion,” and the righteous are said to be “like a young lion that is confident.” (2 Samuel 17:10; Proverbs 28:1) Especially when challenged, the lion shows it deserves its reputation as “the mightiest among the beasts.”—Proverbs 30:30.
It is to the lion’s fearlessness that Jehovah God likens his determination to protect his people. Isaiah 31:4, 5 states: “Just as the lion growls, even the maned young lion, over its prey, when there is called out against it a full number of shepherds, and in spite of their voice he will not be terrified and in spite of their commotion he will not stoop; in the same way Jehovah of armies will come down to wage war over Mount Zion . . . Defending her, he will also certainly deliver her. Sparing her, he must also cause her to escape.” Jehovah thus assures his servants of his active care, particularly in the face of adversity.
The Bible compares mankind’s greatest adversary, Satan the Devil, to a roaring, ravenous lion. To avoid becoming his prey, we are told in the Scriptures: “Keep your senses, be watchful.” (1 Peter 5:8) One way to do this is to avoid fatal spiritual drowsiness. In this regard Jesus said: “Pay attention to yourselves that your hearts never become weighed down with overeating and heavy drinking and anxieties of life.” (Luke 21:34-36) Yes, being spiritually awake in these “last days” can give us “the heart of the lion,” one that is ‘steadfast, reliant on Jehovah.’—2 Timothy 3:1; Psalm 112:7, 8.

2 SAMUEL 17:12

“We will come against him wherever he is found, and we will come upon him just like the dew that falls on the ground; and not one of them will survive, not he nor any of the men with him.”

*** it-1 p. 624 Dew ***
Dewdrops are quiet and numerous. Perhaps to denote stealthiness or a multitude as numerous as dewdrops, Hushai told Absalom: “We ourselves will be upon [David] just as the dew falls upon the ground.” (2Sa 17:12)

2 SAMUEL 17:17

“Jonʹa•than and A•himʹa•az were staying at En-roʹgel; so a servant girl went off and told them and they went to tell King David, for they did not dare to be seen entering the city.”

*** gl p. 20 Jerusalem and the Temple of Solomon ***
En-rogel to the south supplied fresh water, especially vital during enemy attacks.—2Sa 17:17.

*** gl p. 21 Jerusalem and the Temple of Solomon ***

2 SAMUEL 17:23

“When A•hithʹo•phel saw that his advice had not been acted on, he saddled a donkey and went to his house in his hometown. After he gave instructions to his household, he hanged himself. So he died and was buried in the burial place of his forefathers.”

*** it-1 p. 34 Absalom ***
Ahithophel, evidently realizing that Absalom’s revolt would fail, committed suicide.—2Sa 17:1-14, 23.

*** it-1 pp. 65-66 Ahithophel ***
Later this once-close companion treacherously turned traitor and joined David’s son Absalom in a coup against the king. As a ringleader in the rebellion, he advised Absalom to violate David’s concubines, and he asked permission to raise an army of 12,000 and immediately hunt down and kill David while David was in a disorganized and weakened state. (2Sa 15:31; 16:15, 21; 17:1-4) When Jehovah thwarted this bold scheme, and the counsel of Hushai was followed, Ahithophel evidently realized that Absalom’s revolt would fail. (2Sa 15:32-34; 17:5-14) He committed suicide and was buried with his forefathers. (2Sa 17:23) Apart from wartime, this is the only case of suicide mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures.

*** it-1 p. 1031 Hanging ***
In two cases of suicide recorded in the Bible, strangulation by hanging was employed. Ahithophel, David’s traitorous counselor, strangled himself (“hanged himself,” LXX). (2Sa 17:23) Ahithophel’s action was prophetic of that of one of Jesus’ apostles who proved to be traitorous, Judas Iscariot. (Ps 41:9; Joh 13:18) Judas hanged himself also. (Mt 27:5)

2 SAMUEL 17:25

“Abʹsa•lom put A•maʹsa in charge of the army in place of Joʹab; A•maʹsa was the son of a man named Ithʹra the Israelite, who had relations with Abʹi•gail the daughter of Naʹhash, the sister of Ze•ruʹiah, Joʹab’s mother.”

*** it-1 p. 21 Abigail ***
2. One of David’s two sisters. (1Ch 2:13-17) Some scholars believe that she was only a half sister, being related by mother but not by father. At 2 Samuel 17:25 Abigail is called “the daughter of Nahash.” Rabbinic tradition holds that Nahash is simply another name for Jesse, David’s father. The Greek Septuagint (Lagardian edition) has “Jesse” instead of “Nahash” in this verse. A number of modern translations also read this way. (See AT; JB; NC [Spanish].) However, it is noteworthy that the record at 1 Chronicles 2:13-16 does not call Abigail and Zeruiah ‘daughters of Jesse’ but rather “sisters” of Jesse’s sons, including David. This allows for the possibility that their mother had first been married to a man named Nahash, to whom she bore Abigail and Zeruiah before becoming Jesse’s wife and the mother of his sons. It cannot, therefore, be stated dogmatically that Abigail was the daughter of Jesse.—See NAHASH No. 2.

*** it-2 p. 51 Jesse ***
The two sisters of David, Abigail and Zeruiah, are nowhere called Jesse’s daughters, but one is called “the daughter of Nahash.” (1Ch 2:16, 17; 2Sa 17:25) It may be that Nahash was the former husband of Jesse’s wife, making her girls half sisters to Jesse’s sons, unless Nahash is another name for Jesse, or even the name of his wife, as some have suggested.

*** it-2 p. 461 Nahash ***
2. The father of David’s sister or half sister Abigail and possibly the father of Zeruiah. He was the grandfather of Amasa, and perhaps also of Abishai, Asahel, and Joab. (2Sa 17:25; 1Ch 2:16, 17) Abigail is called “the daughter of Nahash,” but she and her sister are not directly called the daughters of Jesse, David’s father, though they are referred to as the “sisters” of Jesse’s sons, including David. This leaves several possible relationships: (1) That Nahash was a woman, Jesse’s wife and the mother of all involved (the name could be given to either sex), but this is not very likely because women were usually introduced into a genealogy only for special reasons, which here seem to be missing. (2) That Nahash was another name for Jesse, as is suggested by early Jewish tradition. The Greek Septuagint (Lagardian edition) has “Jesse” instead of Nahash in 2 Samuel 17:25.

2 SAMUEL 17:28

“brought beds, basins, clay pots, wheat, barley, flour, roasted grain, broad beans, lentils, parched grain,”

*** it-1 p. 843 Food ***
Grain was often eaten roasted, either by taking a bunch of the grain ears together and holding them over a fire or by roasting them in a pan. (Ru 2:14; 2Sa 17:28)

2 SAMUEL 17:29

“honey, butter, sheep, and cheese. They brought all of this out for David and the people with him to eat, for they said: “The people are hungry and tired and thirsty in the wilderness.””

*** it-1 p. 430 Cheese ***
During the civil war instigated by Absalom, friends sent David provisions of food, including “curds of cattle,” and these too may have been soft cheeses.—2Sa 17:29.

2 SAMUEL 18:5

“Then the king gave Joʹab and A•bishʹai and Itʹtai this order: “Deal gently with the young man Abʹsa•lom for my sake.” All the men heard it when the king gave all the chiefs the order about Abʹsa•lom.”

*** it-1 p. 924 Gentleness ***
At 2 Samuel 18:5 David, a man of war, because of fatherly love, commanded Joab to deal gently with his rebellious son Absalom. The Hebrew word here (ʼat) has reference to a going softly or a gentle motion.

2 SAMUEL 18:6

“The men went out to the field to meet Israel, and the battle took place in the forest of Eʹphra•im.”

*** it-1 p. 755 Ephraim ***
4. “The forest of Ephraim” was an area on the E side of the Jordan where the army of King David fought with that of his rebellious son Absalom. (2Sa 18:6-8) The actual site of the forest of Ephraim in the land of Gilead is unknown, but it was probably in the vicinity of Mahanaim.—2Sa 17:22, 24, 26.

2 SAMUEL 18:8

“The battle spread through the whole region. Furthermore, the forest devoured more of the people than the sword did on that day.”

*** w87 3/15 p. 31 Questions From Readers ***
Questions From Readers
▪ What is meant at 2 Samuel 18:8, which says: “The forest did more in eating up the people than the sword did”?
King David’s handsome son Absalom usurped the throne and forced his father to flee Jerusalem. Thereafter, in the forest of Ephraim (perhaps east of the Jordan River) a battle took place between Absalom’s forces and those loyal to Jehovah’s anointed king, David. The account at 2 Samuel 18:6, 7 reports that in the fierce battle David’s men slaughtered 20,000 rebels. In part, the next verse adds: “Furthermore, the forest did more in eating up the people than the sword did in eating them up on that day.”
Some have suggested that this refers to rebel soldiers’ being devoured by wild beasts dwelling in the woods. (1 Samuel 17:36; 2 Kings 2:24) But such literal eating by animals need not be meant, any more than that “the sword” literally ate those slain in battle. Actually, the battle “got to be spread out over all the land that was in sight.” So a more likely explanation is that Absalom’s routed men, who were fleeing in panic through the rocky forest, perhaps fell into pits and hidden ravines, and became entangled in dense underbrush. Interestingly, the account goes on to relate that Absalom himself became a victim of the forest. Apparently because of his abundant hair, his head got caught in a big tree, leaving him helplessly exposed to a fatal attack by Joab and his men. Absalom’s corpse was ‘pitched in the forest into a big hollow, and a very big pile of stones was raised up over him.’—2 Samuel 18:9-17.

2 SAMUEL 18:9

“Abʹsa•lom eventually found himself facing the servants of David. Abʹsa•lom was riding on a mule, and the mule went under the thick branches of a large tree, and his head got entangled in the big tree, so that he was suspended in midair while the mule he had been riding kept going.”

*** it-1 p. 34 Absalom ***
Decisive Battle and Death. Absalom’s newly formed forces were administered a crushing defeat by David’s experienced fighters. The battle reached into the forest of Ephraim. Absalom, riding away on his royal mule, passed under the low branches of a large tree and apparently got his head enmeshed in the fork of a branch so that he was left suspended in the air.

2 SAMUEL 18:12

“But the man said to Joʹab: “Even if I were handed 1,000 pieces of silver, I could not lift my hand against the king’s son, for we heard the king order you and A•bishʹai and Itʹtai, ‘Whoever you are, watch over the young man Abʹsa•lom.’”

*** it-1 p. 34 Absalom ***
The man who reported to Joab that he had seen him said he would not have disobeyed David’s request by slaying Absalom for “a thousand pieces of silver [if shekels, c. $2,200],”

2 SAMUEL 18:18

“Now Abʹsa•lom, while he was alive, had taken and set up for himself a pillar in the Valley of the King, for he said: “I have no son to preserve the memory of my name.” So he named the pillar after himself, and it is called Abʹsa•lom’s Monument to this day.”

*** it-1 pp. 34-35 Absalom ***
Absalom’s Monument. A pillar had been erected by Absalom in “the Low Plain of the King,” also called “the Low Plain of Shaveh,” near Jerusalem. (2Sa 18:18; Ge 14:17) He had erected it because of having no sons to keep his name alive after his death. It thus appears that his three sons mentioned at 2 Samuel 14:27 had died when young. Absalom was not buried at the place of his monument but was left in a hollow in the forest of Ephraim.—2Sa 18:6, 17.
There is a pillar cut out of the rock in the Kidron Valley that has been called the Tomb of Absalom, but its architecture indicates it is from the Greco-Roman period, perhaps of the time of Herod. So there is no basis for associating the name of Absalom with it.

*** it-2 p. 911 Shaveh, Low Plain of ***
Centuries later, Absalom erected his monument in “the Low Plain of the King,” apparently the same place and likely near Jerusalem. (2Sa 18:18) Josephus indicated that Absalom’s Monument was set up “two stades [370 m; 1,214 ft] distant from Jerusalem.” (Jewish Antiquities, VII, 243 [x, 3]) However, the exact location of the Low Plain of Shaveh cannot now be ascertained.

2 SAMUEL 18:33

“This disturbed the king, and he went up to the roof chamber over the gateway and wept, saying as he walked: “My son Abʹsa•lom, my son, my son Abʹsa•lom! If only I had died instead of you, Abʹsa•lom my son, my son!””

*** g94 3/8 p. 26 Help for Your Grief ***
THE sting of death not only pains but numbs most survivors—husband, wife, father, mother, son, daughter, or friend. The wise may ask questions but hear no comforting answers, and the strong may weep under the weight of grief but get no solace. Bible readers may be reminded of the outcry of David at the execution of treacherous Absalom: “My son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! O that I might have died, I myself, instead of you, Absalom my son, my son!” (2 Samuel 18:33) This was not the cry of a king concerning a traitor; it was the cry of a father for his dead son.

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