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2 Samuel Chapter Eighteen


2 Samuel 18 Outlines

Absalom’s Defeat and Death (v.1~18)

David Hears of Absalom’s Death (v.19~32)

David’s Mourning for Absalom (v.33)

New King James Version (NKJV)



In this chapter is an account of David's review of his army, preparing it for battle with Absalom, and those with him, 2 Samuel 18:1; and of the defeat and flight of the rebels, 2 Samuel 18:6; and of the death of Absalom, and the manner of it, and of his burial, 2 Samuel 18:9; and of the news of it brought to David by different persons, 2 Samuel 18:19; and of his great grief and sorrow on that account, 2 Samuel 18:33.


2 Samuel 18:1   And David numbered the people who were with him, and set captains of thousands and captains of hundreds over them.

   YLT  1And David inspecteth the people who [are] with him, and setteth over them heads of thousands and heads of hundreds,

And David numbered the people that were with him,.... Which Josephus saysF4Antiqu. l. 7. c. 10. sect. 1. were four thousand; but one would think there should be more by what follows:

and set captains of thousands and captains of hundreds over them; he divided his army into companies, which consisted some of a thousand and others of a hundred; over each of which he set captains, to lead them on, direct, and command them in battle.


2 Samuel 18:2   2 Then David sent out one third of the people under the hand of Joab, one third under the hand of Abishai the son of Zeruiah, Joab’s brother, and one third under the hand of Ittai the Gittite. And the king said to the people, “I also will surely go out with you myself.”

   YLT  2and David sendeth the third of the people by the hand of Joab, and the third by the hand of Abishai, son of Zeruiah, brother of Joab, and the third by the hand of Ittai the Gittite, and the king saith unto the people, `I certainly go out -- I also -- with you.'

And David sent forth a third part of the people under the hand of Joab,.... Very likely that which made the centre of the army, since Joab was the general of the army; though this distribution was made when David thought to have headed the army himself, and so made with respect to that:

and a third part under the hand of Abishai the son of Zeruiah, Joab's brother; who was next to Joab in the army, and fought with him against the Syrians and Ammonites, 2 Samuel 10:10,

and a third part under the hand of Ittai the Gittite; of whom see 2 Samuel 15:19; of these two parts consisted the right and left wings of the army:

and the king said unto the people; the soldiers, and particularly the officers:

I will surely go forth with you myself also; in which he seemed very resolute and peremptory; and this he proposed to do, not merely to animate the soldiers with his presence, and to show that he was willing to hazard his life with them, but chiefly for the sake of Absalom, to preserve his life, if possible.


2 Samuel 18:3   3 But the people answered, “You shall not go out! For if we flee away, they will not care about us; nor if half of us die, will they care about us. But you are worth ten thousand of us now. For you are now more help to us in the city.”

   YLT  3And the people say, `Thou dost not go out, for if we utterly flee, they do not set [their] heart upon us; and if half of us die, they do not set [their] heart unto us -- for now like us [are] ten thousand; and now, better that thou be to us from the city for an helper.'

But the people answered, thou shalt not go forth,.... They were as resolute as David:

for if we flee away, they will not care for us; to pursue after us:

neither if half of us die, will they care for us; they will make no account of the victory; but if they could slay David, or get him into their hands, it would be more to them than if the whole army was routed:

but now thou art worth ten thousand of us; not only in our own esteem, but in the account of the enemy, who had rather thou shouldest fall into their hands than ten thousand of us; and as the advantage to them, so the loss to us would be more than ten thousand men:

therefore now it is better that thou succour us out of the city; either by sending them provisions or recruits, that might be there in reserve, if necessary; or by being ready to receive them into it should they be repulsed; or rather by his prayers to God for them; so the Targum,"now it is better that thou pray for us out of the city;'that is, that the Lord would help us; and so most of the Jewish commentators understand it of helping them by his prayers and counsels.


2 Samuel 18:4   4 Then the king said to them, “Whatever seems best to you I will do.” So the king stood beside the gate, and all the people went out by hundreds and by thousands.

   YLT  4And the king saith unto them, `That which is good in your eyes I do;' and the king standeth at the side of the gate, and all the people have gone out by hundreds and by thousands,

And the king said unto them, what seemeth you best I will do,.... Which was an instance of great condescension in him; and it was his wisdom and prudence to yield to them at such a time as this, and especially as their sentiments were founded on affection and loyalty to him:

and the king stood by the gate side; of the city of Mahanaim:

and all the people came out by hundreds, and by thousands; and passed by him, to whom no doubt he gave his blessing and best wishes; and, as Abarbinel thinks, now it was he composed and said the twentieth psalm, "The Lord hear thee in the day of trouble", &c. Psalm 20:1.


2 Samuel 18:5   5 Now the king had commanded Joab, Abishai, and Ittai, saying, “Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom.” And all the people heard when the king gave all the captains orders concerning Absalom.

   YLT  5and the king chargeth Joab, and Abishai, and Ittai, saying, `Gently -- for me, for the youth, for Absalom;' and all the people heard in the king's charging all the heads concerning Absalom.

And the king commanded Joab, and Abishai, and Ittai,.... His three generals, to whom he had committed his army divided into three parts:

saying, deal gently for my sake with the young man, even with Absalom; he does not call him his son, being in rebellion against him, but the young man, who was young, and rash, and foolish, and so to be pitied; his request is, that they would spare him, and not take away his life, when in their power; that they would not aim at him, and push him hard, and fall upon him with wrath and fury; but if he fell into their hands, to take him alive, and bring him away, and not put him to death. This flowed from a natural affection to him, and a concern for the welfare of his soul, that he might not die in this sin; and also from a consciousness that it was for his own sins that he was raised up to rebel against him; and he seems to speak as if he was certain that the battle would go for him, and against Absalom; and which he might conclude from the answer of prayer he had in defeating the counsel of Ahithophel:

and all the people heard when he gave all the captains charge concerning Absalom; not only the three generals, but all the captains of hundreds and thousands, and this was heard by the common soldiers as well as by the people of the city that were spectators on this occasion, see 2 Samuel 18:12.


2 Samuel 18:6   6 So the people went out into the field of battle against Israel. And the battle was in the woods of Ephraim.

   YLT  6And the people goeth out into the field to meet Israel, and the battle is in a forest of Ephraim;

So the people went out into the field against Israel,.... JosephusF5Ut supra, (Antiqu. l. 7. c. 10.) sect. 2. calls it a great field, with a wood behind it:

and the battle was in the wood of Ephraim; or near itF6ביער "ad sylvam", Junius & Tremellius; "prope sylvam", Piscator. rather; not in a wood in the tribe of Ephraim, which lay on this side Jordan; whereas this battle was fought on the other side Jordan, in the land of Gilead, not far from Mahanaim, where was this wood; and which was so called, either from the slaughter of the Ephraimites here in the times of Jephthah, Judges 12:4; or from the Ephraimites feeding their cattle here and near it; for the Jews sayF7In Jarchi, Kimchi, & Abarbinel, in loc. , that Joshua gave them a grant to feed their cattle in any wood in any of the tribes of Israel; and lying near Jordan, they used to drive their cattle over to this place, from whence it had its name.


2 Samuel 18:7   7 The people of Israel were overthrown there before the servants of David, and a great slaughter of twenty thousand took place there that day.

   YLT  7and smitten there are the people of Israel before the servants of David, and the smiting there is great on that day -- twenty thousand;

Where the people of Israel were slain before the servants of David,.... That is, the people of Israel that were under Absalom, these were beaten by David's army:

and there was a great slaughter that day of twenty thousand men; including both those that fell in the field of battle, and that were slain in the pursuit; and this is to be understood only of Absalom's party.


2 Samuel 18:8   8 For the battle there was scattered over the face of the whole countryside, and the woods devoured more people that day than the sword devoured.

   YLT  8and the battle is there scattered over the face of all the land, and the forest multiplieth to devour among the people more than those whom the sword hath devoured in that day.

For the battle was there scattered over the face of all the country,.... Or the warriors were scattered, as the Targum; Absalom's soldiers, their ranks were broken, and they were thrown into the utmost confusion, and ran about here and there all over the field or plain in which the battle was fought, and into the neighbouring wood:

and the wood devoured more people that day than the sword devoured; there were more slain in it the in the field of battle, what by one thing or another; as by falling into pits and on stumps of trees, and being entangled in the bushes, and could make but little haste, and so were overtaken by David's men, and slain; insomuch that, as JosephusF8Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 7. c. 10. sect. 2.) observes, there were more slain fleeing than fighting, and perhaps some might perish by wild beasts; so the Targum,"and the beasts of the wood slew more of the people than were slain by the sword;'and so the Syriac and Arabic versions render the words to the same purpose.


2 Samuel 18:9   9 Then Absalom met the servants of David. Absalom rode on a mule. The mule went under the thick boughs of a great terebinth tree, and his head caught in the terebinth; so he was left hanging between heaven and earth. And the mule which was under him went on.

   YLT  9And Absalom meeteth before the servants of David, and Absalom is riding on the mule, and the mule cometh in under an entangled bough of the great oak, and his head taketh hold on the oak, and he is placed between the heavens and the earth, and the mule that [is] under him hath passed on.

And Absalom met the servants of David,.... When his army was routed, he was in such a fright that he knew not which way to flee, and instead of flying from David's men, he fled in the way of them; but none of them attempted to slay him, nor even to stop him, but let him pass by them, knowing David's charge concerning him:

and Absalom rode upon a mule; as was common for great personages to do in those days, 2 Samuel 13:29,

and the mule went under the thick boughs of a great oak; and running full speed, Absalom could not guide him, nor stop, nor divert him from going under it:

and his head caught hold of the oak; either the hair of his head was twisted and entangled in the thick boughs of the oak; or rather his head was jammed into a forked branch of the oak:

and he was taken up between the heaven and the earth; hung in the air between both, as unworthy to live in either:

and the mule that was under him went away; and left him hanging in the oak.


2 Samuel 18:10   10 Now a certain man saw it and told Joab, and said, “I just saw Absalom hanging in a terebinth tree!”

   YLT  10And one man seeth, and declareth to Joab, and saith, `Lo, I saw Absalom hanged in an oak.'

And a certain man saw it,.... Saw him in the above posture, one of David's soldiers:

and told Joab, and said, behold, I saw Absalom hanged in an oak; caught by the neck in one, out of which he could not disengage himself, but there he hung, though alive.


2 Samuel 18:11   11 So Joab said to the man who told him, “You just saw him! And why did you not strike him there to the ground? I would have given you ten shekels of silver and a belt.”

   YLT  11And Joab saith to the man who is declaring [it] to him, `And lo, thou hast seen -- and wherefore didst thou not smite him there to the earth -- and on me to give to thee ten silverlings and one girdle?'

And Joab said unto the man that told him,.... That gave the above account of him:

and, behold, thou sawest him; in reality; or, "didst thou see him?" is it a fact?

and why didst thou not smite him there to the ground; kill him on the spot, that he might have dropped from the tree to the ground:

and I would have given thee ten shekels of silver; on the news of it, for doing it, which was near twenty four shillings of our money; Josephus saysF9Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 7. c. 10. sect. 2.) fifty shekels; the Arabic version has it ten thousand talents of silver, too great a sum by far:

and a girdle? which was a mark of great honour, and a token of a commission under him, and of investing: him with a military office; see 1 Samuel 18:4; it used to be given as an honorary reward to soldiers that behaved well, as on the contrary it was reckoned a reproach to be ungirt, or the girdle to be taken awayF11Vide Lydium de re militare, l. 3. c. 6. .


2 Samuel 18:12   12 But the man said to Joab, “Though I were to receive a thousand shekels of silver in my hand, I would not raise my hand against the king’s son. For in our hearing the king commanded you and Abishai and Ittai, saying, ‘Beware lest anyone touch the young man Absalom!’[a]

   YLT  12And the man saith unto Joab, `Yea, though I am weighing on my hand a thousand silverlings, I do not put forth my hand unto the son of the king; for in our ears hath the king charged thee, and Abishai, and Ittai, saying, Observe ye who [is] against the youth -- against Absalom;

And the man said unto Joab,.... Disdaining his proposal:

though I should receive a thousand shekels of silver in mine hand; or such a sum should be offered to me; the Arabic version is a million:

yet would I not put forth my hand against the king's son; to smite him, and slay him:

for in our hearing the king charged thee, and Abishai, and Ittai; his three generals:

saying, beware that none touch the young man Absalom; so as to slay him; they were charged to abstain from it themselves, and to watch and observe others, and keep them from doing it.


2 Samuel 18:13   13 Otherwise I would have dealt falsely against my own life. For there is nothing hidden from the king, and you yourself would have set yourself against me.

   YLT  13or I had done against my soul a vain thing, and no matter is hid from the king, and thou -- thou dost station thyself over-against.'

Otherwise I should have wrought falsehood against mine own life,.... Or "soul"; he should not only have exposed his life to danger, but acted falsely to the king, by going contrary to his orders; yea, would have done that which was contrary to his own conscience; and if he had buoyed himself up with the hope of impunity, or of a reward, he should have found himself mistaken; the textual reading is, "against his life"F12בנפשו εν τη ψυχη αυτου, Sept. "contra animam illius", Piscator. , or "soul", the life of Absalom, by taking it away:

for there is no matter hid from the king; this, though done ever so secretly, would have come to his knowledge by some means or another, and then I should have incurred his displeasure, and suffered for it:

and thou thyself wouldest have set thyself against me; to accuse and bring him to justice; he would have been so far from protecting him, that he would have been the first man that would have insisted on it that he should be punished for it; or why dost not thou thyself set thyself against him, and smite him? thou mayest if thou pleasest, yonder he hangs, go and smite him.


2 Samuel 18:14   14 Then Joab said, “I cannot linger with you.” And he took three spears in his hand and thrust them through Absalom’s heart, while he was still alive in the midst of the terebinth tree.

   YLT  14And Joab saith, `Not right -- I tarry before thee;' and he taketh three darts in his hand, and striketh them into the heart of Absalom, while he [is] alive, in the midst of the oak.

Then said Joab, I may not tarry thus with thee,.... It is not worth while to talk with thee any longer, nor must I lose time, and neglect my opportunity; I do not desire you to go and smite him, I will go and do it myself:

and he took three darts in his hand; or three rods, which were either all iron, or however the tops of them were iron spikes:

and thrust them through the heart of Absalom; or through the midst of his body; for if he had thrust through his heart, properly speaking, he must have died instantly, whereas he seems to have lived after this:

while he was yet alive; Joab found him alive when he came to him, and so he was when he thrust his darts through him; and so he was afterward; for the words may be rendered, "being yet alive", even after the darts were fixed in him, and even so deeply as to pierce through his body:

in the midst, or "heart":

of the oak; into which the darts penetrated.


2 Samuel 18:15   15 And ten young men who bore Joab’s armor surrounded Absalom, and struck and killed him.

   YLT  15And they go round -- ten youths bearing weapons of Joab -- and smite Absalom, and put him to death.

And ten young men that bare Joab's armour,.... That waited upon him in the battle, to carry his armour, and supply him with it as he should have occasion; these, by his orders:

compassed about, and smote Absalom, and slew him; they enclosed him that none might rescue him, and smote him with their spears or swords, or whatsoever armour they had, until it was a clear case that he was really dead. Joab in this disobeyed the king's order, but provided for the good of the nation, and the safety of the king. The Jews observeF13Misn. Sotah, c. 1. sect. 8. , that measure for measure was given to Absalom; he was proud of his hair, 2 Samuel 14:25, and therefore was hanged by it, 2 Samuel 18:9; he lay with ten concubines of his father, 2 Samuel 16:21, and therefore was smitten with ten lances or spears by ten young men; and he stole three hearts, the heart of his father, the heart of the sanhedrim, and the heart of the men of Israel, and therefore three darts were fixed in him, 2 Samuel 18:14.


2 Samuel 18:16   16 So Joab blew the trumpet, and the people returned from pursuing Israel. For Joab held back the people.

   YLT  16And Joab bloweth with a trumpet, and the people turneth back from pursuing after Israel, for Joab hath kept back the people;

And Joab blew the trumpet,.... As the sign of a retreat:

and the people returned from pursuing after Israel; upon the sound of the trumpet, the meaning of which they understood:

for Joab held back the people: from shedding any more blood; the head of the conspiracy being removed, the thing would be crushed at once; and Joab neither chose to slay any more, nor take any prisoners, to be tried as traitors, being unawares, without thought, drawn into this rebellion.


2 Samuel 18:17   17 And they took Absalom and cast him into a large pit in the woods, and laid a very large heap of stones over him. Then all Israel fled, everyone to his tent.

   YLT  17and they take Absalom and cast him in the forest unto the great pit, and set up over him a very great heap of stones, and all Israel have fled -- each to his tent.

And they took Absalom, and cast him into a great pit in the wood,.... In the wood of Ephraim, near to which the battle was fought, and into which Absalom fled, and where he was slain:

and laid a very great heap of stones upon him: his punishment was very exemplary; he was first hanged on an oak, and then thrust through with darts, and swords, and then covered with stones, 2 Samuel 18:9, pointing to the death that a rebellious son, according to the law, ought to die, Deuteronomy 21:21; though this might be done in honour of him as a king's son; for such "tumuli", or heaps of stones or earth, were used by the ancients as sepulchral monuments, and the larger the more honourableF14Homer. Iliad. 23. ver. 245, 257. ; See Gill on Joshua 7:26 and See Gill on Joshua 8:29,

and all Israel fled everyone to his tent; or to his city, as the Targum; everyone returned to their own house, and to their own business, and so the rebellion ceased.


2 Samuel 18:18   18 Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and set up a pillar for himself, which is in the King’s Valley. For he said, “I have no son to keep my name in remembrance.” He called the pillar after his own name. And to this day it is called Absalom’s Monument.

   YLT  18And Absalom hath taken, and setteth up for himself in his life, the standing-pillar that [is] in the king's valley, for he said, `I have no son to cause my name to be remembered;' and he calleth the standing-pillar by his own name, and it is called `The monument of Absalom' unto this day.

Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken,.... Had taken it into his head, had of himself devised it, as Kimchi explains it; he contrived the following scheme to perpetuate his memory:

and reared up for himself a pillar, which is in the king's dale: or valley, the valley of Jehoshaphat; this pillar was of marble, as JosephusF15Antiqu l. 7. c. 10. sect. 3. says, and stood about two furlongs or a quater mile from Jerusalem. The author of Cippi HebraiciF16P. 26. Ed. Hotting. places it at the bottom of the mount of Olives: this is observed to show how vain are the devices and contrivances of men's hearts; Absalom intended to have been buried under or by this monumental pillar near Jerusalem, and, lo, he was buried in a pit, under an heap of stones, in a wood on the other side Jordan; whether his bones were ever removed hither it is not certain, though a notion has obtained that his grave was near this pillar. RauwolffF17Travels, part 3. c. 21. p. 310, 311. Ed. Ray. says, that as you go from the valley of JehoshaphatF18So Benjamin. Itinerar. p. 43. to the Mount of Olives, you see below, towards your left hand, near unto the bridge of the river Kidron, an old square building like unto a steeple; this, although it is believed to this day, not only by Christians, but also by Turks and Moors, to be the grave of Absalom, as you shall see them fling stones into it as they go by, to revenge his unfaithfulness to his father, yet was he not buried there. SandysF19Travels, l. 3. p. 147. Ed. 5. says, at the east end of the bridge (over Kidron), and a little on the north, stands the pillar of Absalom, being yet entire, and of a good fabric, rising in a lofty square, below adorned with half columns, wrought out of the sides and corners, of the Doric form; and then changing into a round, a good height higher doth grow to a point in fashion of a bell, all framed of the growing stone; against this there lies a great heap of stones, which increaseth daily, by Jews and Mahometans throwing stones as they pass by; so that the frontispiece of it, which faces the road, as Le BruynF20Voyage to the Levant, c. 48. p. 188. says, looks like a mountain of stones; but as to the fabric itself, he says, there is not a finer piece of workmanship to be met with in all those parts; it takes up a compass of ground of eighty two feet and an half square; the body, which is square, with its moulding, is one entire piece; and the coping, which is an ornament to it, and runs up into a point, taken with the rest of the work, is above thirty feet high; twenty columns, cut out of the same rock, add to the beauty of this pile; one sees through a broken window a great many pieces of antiquity that hang up in a chamber. Adrichomius also relatesF21Theatrum Terrae Sanet. p 174. , from travellers, that in the king's valley is now a tower, and a large heap of stones, which is increased every day more and more; for Heathens and strangers passing by there have a custom to cast everyone a stone at it, as it were revenging, according to the law, Absalom's rebellion against David his father, and curse him after this manner; let Absalom the parricide be cursed, and whoever unrighteously persecutes their parents are cursed for ever:

for he said, I have no son to keep my name in remembrance; for though he had three sons, it seems they were all dead, see 2 Samuel 14:27,

and he called the pillar after his own name, and it is called unto this day Absalom's place; or his "hand"F23יד χειρ, Sept. "manus", V. L. Montanus. , the work of his hand; some wrongly think it was in the form of an hand; it was an obelisk, or monument, erected to preserve his name; but since it became so infamous, it would have been better to have had it buried in oblivion. Such sepulchral monuments were used in other nations; so Minerva advised TelemachusF24Homer. Odyss. 1. ver. 297. Odyss. 2. ver. 243. to go in quest of his father Ulysses, and if he could not find him, but was assured of his death, then to raise a signal or monument in memory of him, which he resolved to do.


2 Samuel 18:19   19 Then Ahimaaz the son of Zadok said, “Let me run now and take the news to the king, how the Lord has avenged him of his enemies.”

   YLT  19And Ahimaaz son of Zadok said, `Let me run, I pray thee, and I bear the king tidings, for Jehovah hath delivered him out of the hand of his enemies;'

Then said Ahimaaz the son of Zadok,.... To Joab; for it seems he stayed with the army when he with Jonathan brought the message from Hushai to David:

let me now run, and bear the king tidings how that the Lord hath avenged him on his enemies; which he thought would be very acceptable to hear of as soon as possible; and to be a messenger with tidings of a victory, as it was honourable, so likewise profitable then as now; though perhaps Ahimaaz might have no respect to the reward, as indeed none could be expected, since the death of Absalom would be so disagreeable to the king; but was desirous of it, that the king might be acquainted with the event of the battle as soon as might be.


2 Samuel 18:20   20 And Joab said to him, “You shall not take the news this day, for you shall take the news another day. But today you shall take no news, because the king’s son is dead.”

   YLT  20and Joab saith to him, `Thou art not a man of tidings this day, but thou hast borne tidings on another day, and this day thou dost not bear tidings, because the king's son [is] dead.'

And Joab said unto him, thou shall not bear tidings this day,.... Because Joab knew the tidings of Absalom's death would not be acceptable to the king; and Ahimaaz being a good man, and the son of a priest, for whom Joab had a respect, he would not send the tidings by him, which he was sensible would not recommend him to the king:

but thou shalt bear tidings another day; when any salvation is wrought, or victory obtained, the tidings of which will be welcome:

but this day thou shall bear no tidings, because the king's son is dead; and thou must carry the news concerning his death, which it is not proper thou shouldest, being a priest, nor will it be to thine advantage.


2 Samuel 18:21   21 Then Joab said to the Cushite, “Go, tell the king what you have seen.” So the Cushite bowed himself to Joab and ran.

   YLT  21And Joab saith to Cushi, `Go, declare to the king that which thou hast seen;' and Cushi boweth himself to Joab, and runneth.

Then said Joab to Cushi,.... The Ethiopian, or blackamoor; who either was an Ethiopian by birth and proselyted, or he was an Israelite of a black complexion, and therefore so called; and was judged a proper person by the general to carry such dismal news to the king, as he knew it would be. Some Jewish writersF1Pirke Eliezer, c. 53. take him to be the same with Cush the Benjaminite, in the title of the seventh psalm, Psalm 7:1; and that he is the same that told Joab he saw Absalom hanging in an oak, and declared that, if a thousand shekels of silver were offered him, he would not have put forth his hand against him, 2 Samuel 18:10; though some think this was one of the ten young men that waited on Joab, and by his orders slew Absalom; but it would have been dangerous for one of these to have carried the tidings, had he been known by David to have done it:

go tell the king what thou hast seen: by which it should seem that he was present when Absalom was killed:

and Cushi bowed himself unto Joab; in reverence to him as his general, and in thankfulness for sending him on this errand:

and ran; as fast as he could.


2 Samuel 18:22   22 And Ahimaaz the son of Zadok said again to Joab, “But whatever happens, please let me also run after the Cushite.” So Joab said, “Why will you run, my son, since you have no news ready?”

   YLT  22And Ahimaaz son of Zadok addeth again, and saith unto Joab, `And whatever it be, let me run, I pray thee, I also, after the Cushite.' And Joab saith, `Why [is] this -- thou art running, my son, and for thee there are no tidings found?' –

Then said Ahimaaz the son of Zadok yet again to Joab,.... He could not be easy, even though a messenger was dispatched, but pressed Joab still:

but howsoever, let me, I pray thee, also run after Cushi; only permit me to go after him, though not as a messenger:

and Joab said, wherefore wilt thou run, my son? having a great affection for him, and concerned that he should take trouble on him to no purpose:

seeing thou hast no tidings ready; no news to carry, but what Cushi is gone with, and so can have no audience of the king, nor any reward from him.


2 Samuel 18:23   23 “But whatever happens,” he said, “let me run.” So he said to him, “Run.” Then Ahimaaz ran by way of the plain, and outran the Cushite.

   YLT  23`And, whatever it be, [said he,] let me run.' And he saith to him, `Run;' and Ahimaaz runneth the way of the circuit, and passeth by the Cushite.

But howsoever (said he) let me run,.... Be it as it may, I beg I may have leave; and being so very importunate, it was granted:

and he said unto him, run; since he would take no denial:

then Ahimaaz ran by the way of the plain, and overran Cushi; who ran by the way of the mountains; which though the shorter way, that through the plain was easiest, and soonest run, though the longest.


2 Samuel 18:24   24 Now David was sitting between the two gates. And the watchman went up to the roof over the gate, to the wall, lifted his eyes and looked, and there was a man, running alone.

   YLT  24And David is sitting between the two gates, and the watchman goeth unto the roof of the gate, unto the wall, and lifteth up his eyes, and looketh, and lo, a man running by himself.

And David sat between the two gates,.... Of the city of Mahanaim; which being a fortified place had two walls, one within another, and in each wall a gate; and between these David sat, waiting for news of the battle:

and the watchman went up to the roof over the gate unto the wall; the gate to the outward wall, over which was a tower, and on that a flat roof; to which the watchman went to observe if he could see an express coming; no doubt by David's orders:

and lifted up his eyes and looked; that is, very diligently and wistfully:

and, behold, a man running alone: which made him the more observable, and was the more likely to be a messenger.


2 Samuel 18:25   25 Then the watchman cried out and told the king. And the king said, “If he is alone, there is news in his mouth.” And he came rapidly and drew near.

   YLT  25And the watchman calleth, and declareth to the king, and the king saith, `If by himself, tidings [are] in his mouth;' and he cometh, coming on and drawing near.

And the watchman cried and told the king,.... Called with a loud voice from the roof of the watchtower to the king, sitting between the gates, and informed him what he saw:

and the king said, if he be alone there is tidings in his mouth; for if the army was routed and fled, and were pursued, there would be more in company, or several running one after another; but being but one, it was highly improbable that he was sent express:

and he came apace, and drew near; which was another sign of his being a messenger, the haste he made towards the city.


2 Samuel 18:26   26 Then the watchman saw another man running, and the watchman called to the gatekeeper and said, “There is another man, running alone!” And the king said, “He also brings news.”

   YLT  26And the watchman seeth another man running, and the watchman calleth unto the gatekeeper, and saith, `Lo, a man running by himself;' and the king saith, `Also this one is bearing tidings.'

And the watchman saw another man running,.... At a further distance:

and the watchman called unto the porter; that kept the gate, under which the watchtower was:

and said, behold, another man runneth alone; as the other, and has the same appearance of a messenger:

and the king said, he also bringeth tidings; it being usual then, as now, to dispatch one messenger after another, as fresh accounts coming in made it necessary.


2 Samuel 18:27   27 So the watchman said, “I think the running of the first is like the running of Ahimaaz the son of Zadok.” And the king said, “He is a good man, and comes with good news.”

   YLT  27And the watchman saith, `I see the running of the first as the running of Ahimaaz son of Zadok.' And the king saith, `This [is] a good man, and with good tidings he cometh.'

And the watchman said, me thinketh,.... Or, "I see"F2אני ראה εγω ορω, Sept. "ego videns", Montanus; "video", Tigurine version. ; I perceive, so it appears to me:

that the running of the foremost is like the running of Ahimaaz the son of Zadok; who it seems was well known, and famous for his manner of running and swiftness in it, having been employed in carrying expresses before from Jerusalem to David, and his army, wheresoever they were; and some of these persons thus employed were very swift; we readF3T. Hieros. Taanioth, fol. 68. 3. of one that was a king's messenger, that went from Jerusalem to Tyre, on the first of Elul, or August, in a night and a day; which, according to BuntingF4Travels, p. 200. was an hundred miles: this watchman must be one of David's sentinels, who was well acquainted with the people about him:

and the king said, he is a good man, and cometh with good tidings; he knew he was a man of courage, and therefore was not one that fled, but must be a messenger; and that he was well affected to him, and would never be the messenger of evil tidings to him.


2 Samuel 18:28   28 So Ahimaaz called out and said to the king, “All is well!” Then he bowed down with his face to the earth before the king, and said, “Blessed be the Lord your God, who has delivered up the men who raised their hand against my lord the king!”

   YLT  28And Ahimaaz calleth and saith unto the king, `Peace;' and he boweth himself to the king, on his face, to the earth, and saith, `Blessed [is] Jehovah thy God who hath shut up the men who lifted up their hand against my lord the king.'

And Ahimaaz called and said unto the king,.... As soon as he came so near as to be heard by him, before he came up to him, he said with a loud voice:

all is well; the king's army has had success, beat the rebels, and obtained a complete victory: or "peace"F5שלום ειρηνη, Sept. "pax", Montanus, Pagninus; "salus", Tigurine version; "salve rex", V. L. ; for it is but one word in the original, which signifies all happiness and prosperity, and this he wished the king; and so it is the same as if he had said, God save the king, may all happiness attend him:

and he fell down to the earth upon his face before the king; when he came nearer to him, not only in reverence of him, but in thankfulness to God:

and said, blessed be the Lord thy God, which hath delivered up the men that lifted up their hand against my lord the king; in which he ascribes the victory, not to Joab and his army, but to the Lord, to whom he gives thanks; and this agreeably to his character as a good man, and a priest of the Lord.


2 Samuel 18:29   29 The king said, “Is the young man Absalom safe?” Ahimaaz answered, “When Joab sent the king’s servant and me your servant, I saw a great tumult, but I did not know what it was about.

   YLT  29And the king saith, `Peace to the youth -- to Absalom?' And Ahimaaz saith, `I saw the great multitude, at the sending away of the servant of the king, even thy servant [by] Joab, and I have not known what [it is].'

And the king said, is the young man Absalom safe?.... Or, is there "peace"F6שלום לנער "estne pax puero?" V. L. "pax puero", Pagninus, Montanus. to him? you say there is peace, and that prosperity and success have attended my army; but what peace has Absalom? is he well, and in safety? David seemed more concerned for him than for his army and the success of it; and even suggests as if it was nothing if Absalom was not safe, so great were his affections towards him:

and Ahimaaz answered, when Joab sent the king's servant; which was Cushi, the first messenger, whose office perhaps it was to be one of the king's messengers, and therefore called his servant:

and me thy servant: Ahimaaz himself who was sent after the other:

I saw a great tumult, but I knew not what it was; he perceived that the tidings of the death of Absalom would be disagreeable to the king, and therefore concealed it from him; and though a good man, he cannot be excused from lying, for certainly he knew that Absalom was dead, as appears from 2 Samuel 18:19; though indeed what he said might be true, that after Joab had sent him and Cushi, as the Targum paraphrases it, he saw a company of people gathered together in a tumultuous manner, the meaning of which he knew not; but then this was no other than an evasion.


2 Samuel 18:30   30 And the king said, “Turn aside and stand here.” So he turned aside and stood still.

   YLT  30And the king saith, `Turn round, station thyself here;' and he turneth round and standeth still.

And the king said unto him, turn aside, and stand here,.... On the side of him, not far from him, until the other messenger came, that he might learn from them both the true state of the case:

and he turned aside, and stood still; saying nothing more to the king, nor he to him.


2 Samuel 18:31   31 Just then the Cushite came, and the Cushite said, “There is good news, my lord the king! For the Lord has avenged you this day of all those who rose against you.”

   YLT  31And lo, the Cushite hath come, and the Cushite saith, `Let tidings be proclaimed, my lord, O king; for Jehovah hath delivered thee to-day out of the hand of all those rising up against thee.'

And, behold, Cushi came,.... A little after:

and Cushi said, tidings, my lord the king; news is sent and brought by me, and good news it is:

for the Lord hath avenged thee this day of all them that rose up against thee; they are either killed or dispersed; there is an entire victory over them, and deliverance from them.


2 Samuel 18:32   32 And the king said to the Cushite, “Is the young man Absalom safe?” So the Cushite answered, “May the enemies of my lord the king, and all who rise against you to do harm, be like that young man!”

   YLT  32And the king saith unto the Cushite, `Peace to the youth -- to Absalom?' And the Cushite saith, `Let them be -- as the youth -- the enemies of my lord the king, and all who have risen up against thee for evil.'

And the king said unto Cushi, is the young man Absalom safe?.... The same question that was put to Ahimaaz, 2 Samuel 18:29; which shows what lay nearest his heart, and was uppermost in his mind:

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, which was tacitly saying he was dead, and so David understood it; and he expressed it in such a manner, that David could not be displeased with the messenger; though the message was grievous to him.


2 Samuel 18:33   33 Then the king was deeply moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept. And as he went, he said thus: “O my son Absalom—my son, my son Absalom—if only I had died in your place! O Absalom my son, my son!”

   YLT  33And the king trembleth, and goeth up on the upper chamber of the gate, and weepeth, and thus he hath said in his going, `My son! Absalom my son; my son Absalom; oh that I had died for thee, Absalom, my son, my son.'

And the king was much moved,.... His affections were moved, his passions were stirred up; he was greatly troubled, distressed, and grieved:

and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept; got out of sight and company as soon as he could; as his own dwelling was at some distance, he made haste to the chamber in the watchtower, over the gate of the city, where the watchman was, to vent his grief; and could not suppress it till he got thither:

and as he went; up the stairs to the chamber:

thus he said, O my son Absalom! my son, my son Absalom! which repetition expresses the vehemence of his affections, and how inconsolable he was on account of his son's death:

would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son! some think he said this on account of his eternal state, being satisfied of his own; but it may be it was only the effect of natural affection, indulged to too great a degree, and unbecoming so good a man in such a case; the Targum is,"I wish I had died for thee, and thou hadst remained this day.'


──John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible


New King James Version (NKJV)


  1. 2 Samuel 18:12 The ancient versions read ‘Protect the young man Absalom for me!’