Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible, by John Wesley, [1754-65], at sacred-texts.com
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 20:1
sa2 20:1Happened - His presence was casual in itself, though ordered by God's providence. No part - The tribe of Judah have monopolized the king to themselves, and will not allow us any share in him; let them therefore enjoy him alone, and let us seek out a new king. The son of Jesse - An expression of contempt, implying that he was no more to be owned as their king, but as a private person, as the son of Jesse. To his tents - Let us all desist from this unthankful office, of bringing the king back, and go each to our homes, that we may consider, and then meet together to chuse a new king.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 20:2
sa2 20:2Every man - That is, the generality of those Israelites who were present.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 20:5
sa2 20:5Tarried - Either, because the people being wearied out by the late war, were not forward to engage in another: or because the soldiers had more affection to Joab, than to their new general.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 20:6
sa2 20:6Abishai - Not to Joab; lest by this means he should recover his place, and Amasa be discontented, and David's fidelity in making good his promise to Amasa be questioned.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 20:7
sa2 20:7Joab's men - The remainders of Joab's army who were there present, with whom also Joab might go as a reformade, watching an opportunity to do what he designed.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 20:8
sa2 20:8Amasa went - Having gathered some forces, and given due orders for the rest to follow him, he returned to Jerusalem, and by the king's command went after those mentioned Sa2 20:7, and being come up to them at the place where they waited for him, he put himself in the head of Joab's men, and the Cherethites and the Pelethites, and such as he had brought along with him, and marched before them as their general. Girded - After the manner of travellers and soldiers. Went forth - To meet and salute Amasa, who was coming towards him to do him honour. It fell - Things having (it is likely) been so contrived by Joab, that upon the least motion of his body, his sword should drop out, and he might take it up without raising Amasa's suspicion.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 20:9
sa2 20:9Beard - As the manner of ancient times was, when they saluted one another.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 20:10
sa2 20:10The sword - Which falling out, as it seemed, casually, he supposed that Joab intended only to put it into its scabbard, and therefore took no care to defend himself against the stroke. So Joab - Who now boldly resumed his former place, and marched in the head of the army. It is not strange, that Amasa's soldiers did not fight to revenge his death; partly, because not many of them were yet come up, as the following verses shew; and partly, because Joab's interest and authority with the military - men was very great; especially, with David's guards, who were here present, and who had no kindness for Amasa, as having been the general of the rebellious army; and, as they might think, not fit to be put into a place of so great trust.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 20:11
sa2 20:11One - Left there on purpose to deliver the following message. Favoureth Joab - He that would have Joab to be general, rather than such a perfidious rebel as Amasa. For David - He that wisheth David good success against Sheba, and against all rebels.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 20:12
sa2 20:12Stood still - Wondering at the spectacle, and enquiring into the author and occasion of it. Removed - Perceiving, that it both incensed them against Joab and hindered the king's service. Cast a cloth upon him - But the covering of blood with a cloth cannot stop its cry to God for vengeance.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 20:14
sa2 20:14He - Sheba, who marched from tribe to tribe to stir them up to sedition. Abel - Unto Abel - beth - maachah, as this place is called here in the Hebrew text, Sa2 20:15, to distinguish it from other Abels; and to signify, that this was that Abel which was in the northern border of Canaan towards that part of Syria called Maachah, Sa2 10:8. Berites - Such as lived in the city, or territory of Beeroth of Benjamin, Jos 18:25, who being of the same tribe, if not city with Sheba, adhered to him, and followed him through all the tribes of Israel. They - The tribes of Israel; that is, a considerable number of them; as might well be expected, when the discontents were so high and general.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 20:15
sa2 20:15They - That is, Joab and his army. A bank - From whence they might either batter the wall, or shoot at those who defended it. It stood - The bank stood in, or near to the trench, or the wall of the city; so that the city was in great danger of being taken.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 20:16
sa2 20:16Then cried a wise woman - It seems none of all the men of Abel, offered to treat with Joab: no, not when they were reduced to extremity: but one wise woman saved the city. Souls know no difference of sex: many a manly heart is lodged in a female breast. Nor is the treasure of wisdom the less valuable, for being lodged in the weaker vessel.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 20:18
sa2 20:18Ask counsel - This city which thou art about to destroy, is no mean and contemptible one, but so honourable and considerable for its wisdom, that when any differences arose among any of the neighbours, they used proverbially to say, We will ask the opinion and advice as the men of Abel about it, and we will stand to their arbitration; and so all parties were satisfied, and disputes ended.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 20:19
sa2 20:19A mother - Great cities are commonly called mothers; as lesser towns or villages subject to them, and depending upon them, are called their daughters. Inheritance - That is, a considerable part of, that land which God hath chosen for his particular possession. The destruction which thou art about to bring upon us, is an injury to Israel, and to the God of Israel.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 20:21
sa2 20:21Ephraim - Probably mount Ephraim was a place in Benjamin so called, either because it was upon the borders of Ephraim or for some notable action or event of the Ephraimites in that place. His head - Which she undertook, because she knew the present temper of the citizens, and soldiers too. And it is not unlikely, that this woman might be a governness in that city. For though this office was commonly performed by men; yet women were sometimes employed in the government: as we see in Deborah, who judged Israel, Jdg 4:4.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 20:22
sa2 20:22Wisdom - Prudently treated with them about it, representing to them the certainty and nearness of their ruin, if they did not speedily comply with her desires, and certain deliverance if they did.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 20:23
sa2 20:23Over all the host - The good success of this, and of the former expedition, under the conduct of Joab, had so fixed his interest in the army, and others of David's fastest friends, that the king could not without danger displace him.