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have followed, and prevented credit being given to it; so we cannot wonder, that David did not readily give ear to his excuses ; for, after the benefits he had con. ferred on Mephibosheth, he must have been greatly hurt at such an appearance of ingratitude and inattention to his distress. It is hard to decide which deserv. ed blame, Mephibosheth or Ziba ; but from Mephibosheth's ready acquiescence, we may conclude that David conducted himself in this affair according to the rules of integrity and honour.
SECTION XXV. AMASA MADE GENERAL BY DAVID-SLAIN BY, JOAB..
From 2 Samuel, Chap. xx. And David came to his house at Jerusalem. Then said the king to Amasa, Assemble me the men of Judah within three days, and be thou here present..
So Amasa went to assemble the men of Judah; but he tarried longer than the set time which he liad appointed him.
And David said to Abishai, Now shall Sheba the son, of Bichri do us more harm than did Absaloni: take. thou thy lord's servants, and pursue after him, lest hę get him fenced cities, and escape us.
And there went out after him Joab's men, and the Cherethites, and the Pelethites, and all the mighty men: and they went out of Jerusalem, to pursue after Sheba the son of Bichri.
When they were at the great stone which is in Gibeon, Amasa went before them; and Joab's garment that he bad put on was girded unto him, and upon it a girdle with a sword fastened upon his loins in the sheath thereof, and as he went forth it fell out,
And Joab said to Amasa, Art thou in health, my brother; and Joab took Amasa by the beard with the right hand to kiss him.
But Amasa took no heed to the sword that was in Joab's hand : so he smote him therewith in the fifth rib, and shed out his bowels to the ground, and struck him not again, and he died: so Joab and Abishai his brother pursued after Sheba the son of Bichri.
And one of Joab's men stood by him, and said, He that favoureth Joab, and he that is for David, let him go after Joab.
And Amaga wallowed in blood in the midst of the high-way: and when the man saw that all the people stood still, he removed Amasa out of the high-way into the field, and cast a cloth upon him, when he saw that every one that came by him stood still.
When he was removed out of the high-way, all the people went on after Joab, to pursue after Sheba the son of Bichri.
And he went through all the tribes of Israelunto Abel, and unto Beth-maachah, and all the Berites: and they were gathered together, and went also after him.
And they came and besieged him in Abel of Beth. maachah, and they cast up a bank against the city, and it stood in the trench : and all the people that were with Joab, battered the wall to throw it down.
Then cried a wise woman out of the city, Hear, hear; say, I pray you, unto Joab, come near hither, that I may speak with thee.
And when he was come near unto her, the woman said, Art thou Joab? And he answered, I am he. Then she said unto him, Hear the words of thine handmaid. And he answered, I do hear. Then she spake, saying. They were wont to speak in
old times, saying, They shall surely ask counsel at Abel : and so they ended the matter.
I am one of them that are peaceable and faithful in Israel : thou seekest to destroy a city and a mother in Israel: why wilt thou swallow up the inheritance of the LORD?. And Joab answered and said, Far be it, far be it from me, that I should swallow up or destroy.
The matter is not so: but a man of mount Ephraini (Sheba the son of Bichri by name) hath lift up his hand against the king, even against David: deliver him only and I will depart from the city. And the woman said unto Joab, Behold, his head shall be thrown to thee over the wall.
Then the woman went unto all the people in her wisdom, and they cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri, and cast it out to Joab: and he blew a trumpet, and they retired from the city, every man to his tent: and Joab returned to Jerusalem unto the king.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
We find that David was resolved to remove Joab from the supreme command of the army, agreeably to his promise to Amasa, for his insolence was insupportable. Amasa not being able to make such quick dispatch as the case required, David was greatly disquieted, whichi made him send Abishai, with the Cherethites, &c. who met with Amasa.
Joab it is supposed joined them, with a determined resolution to put Amasa to death, and retain the com, mand of the army in defiance of the king: when he had perpetrated this wicked act, he professed himself in David's interest; and there was an absolute neces-, sity to go against the rebels, the people without hesitation followed him,
The arguments used by the wise woman were persuasive and powerful ; though, according to our translation, they are in a great measure unintelligible to us; but it plainly appears, that she meant to expostulate with Joab for not first offering terms of peace, before he proceeded to the destruction of a city, which was part of the Lord's inheritance; assuring him, that had he informed them of the cause, the inhabitants would soon have ended the matter, by complying with any reasonable demands. The treachery of Joab in respect to Amasa, must strike every good mind with abhor. rence; and it is needless to comment on it.
A FAMINE IN ISRAEL *.
As soon as the leader was cut off, the sedition was at an end, and peace was established, but another dreadful calamity soon fell upon the land of Israel, a three years famine. This is among the evils which is generally understood by people, who have religious minds, as coming immediately from the hand of God, to bring men to repentance and reformation. David, in the present instance, considered it in that light, and enquired of the LORD; by which means he learnt, that it was for Saul and his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites.
It has been related in a former part of this history, that Joshua made a league with the Gibeonites; in con. sequence of which, the Israelites were bound, in the most solemn manner, to suffer them to live quietly amongst them. Saul, it seems, had violated this treaty,
2 Sam, xxi.
and killed a number of them in times of peace without the least provocation, in order that his friends might possess their cities : many of the Israelites had been instrumental to his injustice; God was dishonoured by the people's having broken a covenant made in his holy name, and his religion would have been despised, if the nations around had had cause given them to suppose it admitted of a breach of a public treaty.
The Gibeonites, it is likely, were by this time so increased, that they were distressed for towns to dwell in; and the Israelites, in all probability, inattentive to their necessities, made themselves partakers of Saul's sin, by retaining those cities, which were the lawful property of the Gibeonites. National sin calls for national punishment; and according to the Jewish constitution, it was necessary that atonement should be made for every breach of the Divine law.
As soon as the cause of the famine was known, David's next care was to find out the remedy; for this purpose he applied to the Gibeonites, to learn in what manner he could give them satisfaction. They demanded to have seven men of the family of Saul delivered into their hands; this requisition was consistent with their ideas of justice; therefore David was commanded of God to comply with their desire, and seven men were accordingly delivered to them, whom they hanged. As it was left to David to fix on the persons, who were by their deaths to make satisfaction to the Gi. beonites, he carefully saved alive those who were the immediate descendants of Saul and Jonathan, namely Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, and Micah the son of Mephibosheth, with the four sons of Micah; by which means performed the oath which he sware in the cave of En-gedi; that he would not cụt off Saul's seed after him, to destroy his name out of his father's