Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at sacred-texts.com
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 16:1
Ziba's faithless conduct towards Mephibosheth. - Sa2 16:1. When David had gone a little over the height (of the Mount of Olives: הראשׁ points back to Sa2 15:32), Mephibosheth's servant Ziba came to meet him, with a couple of asses saddled, and laden with two hundred loaves, a hundred raisin-cakes, a hundred date or fig-cakes, and a skin of wine. The word קיץ corresponds to the Greek ὀπώρα, as the lxx have rendered it in Jer 40:10, Jer 40:12, and is used to signify summer fruits, both here and in Amo 8:1 (Symm.). The early translators rendered it lumps of figs in the present passage (παλάθαι; cf. Ges. Thes. p. 1209). The Septuagint only has ἑκατὸν φοίνικες. The latter is certainly the more correct, as the dried lumps of figs or fig-cakes were called דּבלים (Sa1 25:18); and even at the present day ripe dates, pressed together in lumps like cakes, are used in journeys through the desert, as a satisfying and refreshing food (vid., Winer, bibl. Realwrterbuch, i. 253).
When the king asked him, "What are these for thee?" i.e., what art thou going to do with them? Ziba replied, "The asses are for the king's family to ride upon (to ride upon in turn), the bread and summer fruits for the young men (the king's servants) to eat, and the wine for those that are faint in the desert to drink" (see at Sa2 15:23). The Chethib ולהלחם is evidently a copyist's error for והלּחם.
To the further question put by the king, "Where is thy lord (Mephibosheth)? Ziba replied, "Behold, he sits (is staying) in Jerusalem; for he said, To-day will the house of Israel restore the kingship (government) of my father." The "kingship of my father," inasmuch as the throne would have passed to Jonathan if he had outlived Saul. It is obvious enough, apart altogether from Sa2 19:25., the Ziba was calumniating his master Mephibosheth, in the hope of getting possession of the lands that he was farming for him. A cripple like Mephibosheth, lame in both feet, who had never put in any claim to the throne before, could not possibly have got the idea now that the people of Israel, who had just chosen Absalom as king, would give the throne of Saul to such a cripple as he was. It is true that Ziba's calumny was very improbable; nevertheless, in the general confusion of affairs, it was not altogether an inconceivable thing that the oppressed party of Saul might avail themselves of this opportunity to make an attempt to restore the power of that house, which many greatly preferred to that of David, under the name of Mephibosheth.
And in the excited state in which David then was, he was weak enough to give credence to Ziba's words, and to commit the injustice of promising the calumniator all that belonged to Mephibosheth, - a promise for which he most politely thanked him. השׁתּחויתי, "I bow myself," equivalent to, I lay myself at thy feet. "May I find favour in the eyes of my lord the king!" i.e., may the king grant me his favour (vid., Sa1 1:18).
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 16:5
Shimei's cursing. - Sa2 16:5, Sa2 16:6. When the king had come to Bahurim, on the other side of the Mount of Olives, but not far off (see at Sa2 3:16), there came out of that place a man of the family of the house of Saul, i.e., a distant relation of Saul, cursing him; and he pelted David and all his servants with stones, although all the people and all the heroes (the household troops and body-guard: Sa2 15:17-18) were (marking) on the right and left of the king. The words "all the people," etc., are a circumstantial clause.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 16:7
Shimei cursed thus: "Out, out (away, away), thou man of blood, and worthless man! Jehovah hath repaid thee (now) for all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose stead thou hast become king, and hath given the kingdom into the hand of Absalom thy son. Behold, now thou art in thy misfortune, for thou art a man of blood." דּמים אישׁ, a man of drops of blood, i.e., one who has shed blood or committed murder. What Shimei meant by "all the blood of the house of Saul," which David had shed, and because of which he was a man of blood, it is impossible to determine with certainty. He may possibly have attributed to David the murder of Ishbosheth and Abner, notwithstanding the fact that David was innocent of the death of both (see Sa2 3:27., and Sa2 4:6.). By "in whose stead thou hast reigned," he meant whose throne thou hast forcibly usurped; and by בּרעתך הנּך, "it is for this that punishment hat overtaken thee now."
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 16:9
Abishai wanted to put an end to this cursing (on the expression "dead dog," see Sa2 9:8). "Let me go," said he to David, "and take away his head," i.e., chop off his head. But David replied, "What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah?" Joab probably joined with Abishai. The formula "what to me and you?" signifies that a person did not wish to have anything in common with the feelings and views of another (cf. Kg1 17:18; Jos 22:24; and τὶ ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί, Joh 2:4. For the thing itself, comp. Luk 9:52-56). "If he curses, and if Jehovah hath said to him, Curse David, who shall then say, Wherefore hast thou done so?" For יה וכי יקלּל כּי (Chethib), the Masoretes give us the Keri, יה כּי יקלּל כּה, "so let him curse, for Jehovah," etc. This thought lies at the foundation of the rendering adopted by the lxx, who have inserted, by way of explanation, καὶ ἄφετε αὐτὸν καὶ: so let him go, and so may he curse. The Vulgate is just the same: dimittite eum ut maledicat. This interpolation is taken from Sa2 16:11, and, like the Keri, is nothing more than a conjecture, which was adopted simply because כּי was taken as a causal particle, and then offence was taken at וכי. But כּי signifies if, quando, in this passage, and the ו before the following וּמי introduces the apodosis.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 16:11
David said still further to Abishai and all his servants: "Behold, my own son seeketh after my life; how much more then the Benjaminite! (who belongs to a hostile race.) Let him curse, for Jehovah hath bidden him. Perhaps Jehovah will look upon my guilt, and Jehovah will requite me good for the curse which befals me this day." בּעוני (Chethib) has been altered by the Masoretes into בּעיני o, "upon mine eye," probably in the sense of "upon my tears;" and קללתי into קללתו, - from pure misapprehension. בּעוני does not mean "upon my misery," for עון never has this meaning, but upon the guilt which really belongs to me, in contrast with that with which Shimei charges me; and קללתי is the curse that has come upon me. Although David had committed no murder upon the house of Saul, and therefore Shimei's cursing was nothing but malicious blasphemy, he felt that it came upon him because of his sins, though not for the sin imputed to him. He therefore forbade their putting the blasphemer to death, and said Jehovah had commanded him to curse; regarding the cursing as the consequence of the wrath of God that was bringing him low (comp. the remarks on Sa1 26:19). But this consciousness of guilt also excited the assurance that the Lord would look upon his sin. When God looks upon the guilt of a humble sinner, He will also, as a just and merciful God, avert the evil, and change the suffering into a blessing. David founded upon this the hope, that the Lord would repay him with good for the curse with which Shimei was pursuing him now.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 16:13
"So David went with his men on the way, whilst Shimei went on the slope of the hill opposite to him, cursing continually, and pelted with stones over against him, and with earth." לעמּתו means over against him in both instances. It is not expressly stated that Shimei threw stones and earth at David, but this is implied in the context.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 16:14
The king came with his train, pursued in this manner, to Ayephim, and refreshed himself there. The context requires that Ayephim should be taken as the name of a place. If it were an appellative, signifying weary, there would be no information as to the place to which David came, and to which the word שׁם (there) distinctly refers. Bahurim cannot be the place alluded to, for the simple reason that, according to Sa2 17:18, the place where David rested was a considerable distance beyond Bahurim, towards the Jordan, as we may see from the fact that it is stated there that the priests' sons, who were sent to carry information to David of what was occurring in Jerusalem, hid themselves in a well at Bahurim from the officers who were following them, and consequently had to go still further in order to convey the news to David; so that it is out of the question to supply this name from Sa2 16:5. It is true that we never meet with the name Ayephim again; but this applies to many other places whose existence is not called in question.
(Note: The meaning of the word, wearied or weariness, does not warrant any conjectures, even though they should be more felicitous than that of Bttcher, who proposes to alter Ayephim into Ephraim, and assumes that there was a place of this name near Mahanaim, though without reflecting that the place where David rested was on this side of the Jordan, and somewhere near to Gilgal or Jericho (Sa2 17:16. and Sa2 17:22).)
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 16:15
When Absalom and "all the people, the men of Israel," i.e., the people who had joined him out of all the tribes of Israel (Sa2 15:10), came to Jerusalem, and Ahithophel with him, Hushai the Archite also came and greeted him warmly as king, by exclaiming again and again, "Long live the king!"
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 16:17
Absalom, apparently astonished at this, said to him, "Is this thy love to thy friend (David)? why wentest thou not with thy friend?" But Hushai replied, "No; but whom Jehovah hath chosen, and this people (i.e., the people who had entered Jerusalem with Absalom), and all the men of Israel (i.e., the whole nation), to him (לא for לו, Keri) will I belong, and will remain with him. And again, whom should I serve? Is it not before his son? As I have served thy father, so will I be before thee" (i.e., serve thee). With great craftiness, Hushai declared at the very outset that Jehovah had chosen Absalom - at least he could not come to any other conclusion, judging from the results. And under such circumstances he could not have any doubt as to whom it was his duty to serve. As he had formerly served the father, so now he would serve his son Absalom. In this way he succeeded in completely deceiving Absalom, so that he placed unbounded confidence in him.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 16:20
After taking possession of the capital of the kingdom, the next thing to do was to form the resolution to take and keep the throne. Absalom therefore turned to Ahithophel, and said, "Give ye counsel what we are to do." The plural הבוּ (give ye) may be explained on the supposition that the other persons present were addressed as well as Ahithophel, as being capable of giving advice.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 16:21
Ahithophel gave the following counsel: "Go to thy father's concubines, whom he hath left behind to keep the house (i.e., lie with them: for אל בּוא, compare Sa2 3:7, etc.); so will all Israel hear that thou hast made thyself stinking with thy father, and the hands of all those who are with thee will strengthen themselves." This advice was sagacious enough. Lying with the king's concubines was an appropriation of the royal harem, and, as such, a complete usurpation of the throne (see at Sa2 3:7), which would render any reconciliation between Absalom and his father utterly impossible, and therefore would of necessity instigate the followers of Absalom to maintain his cause with all the greater firmness. This was what Ahithophel hoped to attain through his advice. For unless the breach was too great to be healed, with the affection of David towards his sons, which might in reality be called weakness, it was always a possible thing that he should forgive Absalom; and in that case Ahithophel would be the one to suffer. But under the superintendence of God this advice of Ahithophel was to effect the fulfilment, without any such intention on his part, of the threat held over David in Sa2 12:8.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 16:22
Absalom had a tent put up on the roof of the king's palace, that his going in to the concubines might be done publicly in the sight of all Israel. For (as the historian adds in Sa2 16:23 by way of explanation) the counsel of Ahithophel, which he counselled in those days, was like a divine oracle both with David and with Absalom. The words from ועצת to ההם are placed at the commencement absolutely: "and (as for) the counsel of Ahithophel, ... as if one inquired the word of God, so was every counsel of Ahithophel." The Masoretes have supplied אישׁ as the Keri to ישׁאל. This is correct so far as the sense is concerned, but it is quite unnecessary, as ישׁאל may be taken impersonally. האלהים בּדבר שׁאל is to be explained from the formula בּעלהים שׁאל (see at Jdg 1:1).