« PreviousContinue »
may send thee to the king, to say, Wherefore 33 So Joab came to the king, and told him: am I come from Geshur ? it had been good for and when he had called for Absalom, he came me to have been there still: now therefore let to the king, and bowed himself on his face to me see the king's face; and if there be any | the ground before the king: and the king iniquity in me, let him kill me.
| kissed Absalom.
Verse 2. • Tekoah:-This place was afterwards fortified by Rehoboam, and became the birthplace of the prophet Amos. It gave its name to the adjacent desert on the east. The place still bears the name of Tekûa, and lies about six miles south of Bethlehem. It is not mentioned in the New Testament. In 765 A.D., when visited by St. Willibald, it was a Christian place and had a church. In the time of the Crusaders, it was still inhabited by Christians, who afforded assistance to the Crusaders during the siege of Jerusalem; and ultimately King Fulco assigned it to the canons of the church of the Holy Sepulchre, in exchange for Bethany. In 1138 A.D., it was sacked by a party of Turks from beyond Jordan; and no subsequent notice of it as an inhabited place is found. In the time of Quaresmius it was, as now, desolate, and not visited for fear of the Arabs. Later travellers have not seldom passed this way, sometimes on their route between Bethlehem and Hebron. Tekoah lies on an elevated hill, not steep, but broad on the top, and covered with ruins to the extent of four or five acres. These consist chiefly in the foundations of houses built of squared stones, some of which are bevilled. Near the middle of the site are the ruins of a Greek church, among which are several fragments of columns, and a remarkable baptismal font. There are many cisterns excavated in the rocks; and not far off is a living spring of fine water. See Robinson's Biblical Researches in Palestine, ii. 182-184.
7. • Kill him, for the life of his brother whom he slew.' -This case, although a fiction, is very remarkable, as illustrating the operation of the custom of blood-revenge among the Jews. So inveterate was that principle, that, although the mother herself was the most aggrieved party, she had no influence in preventing the next male kin from avenging the blood of the slain son upon his slaying brother. She therefore applies to the king for his pardon and protection; and knowing, as doubtless the king knew, that, in such a case, strong measures were necessary, she is not satisfied with a general promise, but presses him with her apprehensions, till at last he confirms his promise by an oath : * As the Lord liveth, there shall not one hair of thy son fall to the earth. She is then satisfied, and begins to develop her design. That design was to induce the king to satisfy his conscience in pardoning Absalom, by proving that, in so doing, he did not otherwise than he would have done in the case of a stranger, where no partiality could operate. It is clear that David wished to pardon his son, but was afraid, as a king, to do so. The device of Joab turned the balance which had so long wavered between private affection and public duty. That device was probably borrowed from the course taken by Nathan to make David pronounce his own condemnation. The two cases are strikingly analogous; and in both the crime stated in the fiction is inferior in its enormity to the actual offence.
9. The iniquity be on me,' etc.—that is, the iniquity of pardoning a homicide, whom the avenger had a right to slay wherever he should find him, except in a city of refuge.
14. · We must needs die, and are as water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again.'--Joab could not have found a more suitable advocate than this woman of Tekoah. What could be better calculated to impress a poet like David than the most beautiful figures of speech which she employs ? In verse 7 she compares the prospective death of her only surviving son to the quenching of her last live coal; and here she compares death to water, which, once spilt upon the ground, can be gathered
up no more. With reference to the latter figure, the Rev. W. Jowett, in describing an Armenian funeral, says: • The corpse is now carried out into the churchyard. A slab lifted up discovered to our view that the whole churchyard is hollow under ground. The body was pat into a meaner wooden coffin, and lowered into the grave. I did not observe that they sprinkled earth upon it, as we do; but, instead of this, a priest concluded the ceremony by pouring a glass of water on the head of the corpse. I did not learn what this meant; but it brought to my mind that touching passage in 2 Sam. xiv. 14-For we must needs die,' etc. On inquiry, Mr. Jowett would have learned that the water was holy water, and was intended to give the corpse its final purification and protection, before being shut out from the world for ever. The custom is however impressive; as is also another in use among the same people, who collect into one place the bones which may have become exposed, and every year sprinkle them with water, praying for the hastening of that time when the dry bones shall be quickened to eternal life. It may further contribute to the illustration of this fine image, to notice that it was the custom of the Jews to throw out of window all the water in the house in which any one has died, in the belief that the departed soul has cleansed itself therein. There is a somewhat similar custom in some of the provinces of France, only they throw away the milk instead of the water. The Formosans, who place their dead in green booths, set there every day a calabash full of fresh water, with a bamboo beside it, that the soul may be enabled to bathe and to assuage its thirst. Essais sur la Littérature des Hébreur, iii. 537.
26. •Weighed the hair of his head at two hundred shekels.' -It appears that this handsome, but unprincipled and vain man, glorying in the abuudance and beauty of his hair, wore it as long as he could without great inconvenience; and when it was cut caused it to be weighed, that the reputation of its quantity might compensate to his vanity for the present loss to his personal appearance. The sacred historian condescends to notice the circumstance, in order to explain and give point to the fact, that the locks which Absalom so fondly cherished became subsequently the occasion of his death. It would seem that, at this time, the custom for men to wear the hair short, or to shave the head, except in inourning, had not come into use. In the time of St. Paul it was a shame for men to wear long hair (1 Cor. xi. 14), but in the time of David it was a glory to have the hair long and abundant. The present is not the only indication of this fact. We shall find it also in Solomon's Song, and confirmed by Josephus, who observes that the picked men who formed the guard of that magnificent monarch wore their hair in long flom. ing tresses, which they sprinkled every morning with gold dust (having first anointed it, of course), so that their heads glittered in the sunbeams, as reflected from the gold. If this were the custom a little earlier, the weight of the unguents with which it was saturated, and of the gold dust it contained, may somewhat lessen our surprise at the weight of Absolom's hair, though it must still have been extraordinary. There have been various explanations as to the weight. In fact we do not know with certainty what was the weight of the Hebrew shekel at different periods. According to the common calculation the weight of 200 shekels would be 112 ounces troy ; but the weight is here said to have been by the king's shekel,' which is generally understood to have been considerably less than the common shekel. Some, with
reference to this, reduce the weight of Absalom's hair to sell his hair, nor can we see to what use it could be aphalf the above; some (as Bochart) still lower, to 31b. 2oz., plied by those who bought it. Wigs, though certainly at and even a pound lower than that. It may be even pos and before this time in use among the Egyptians, do not sible to bring down the quantity to four shekels, by sup. appear to have been ever used by the Jews. It remaius posing that the quantity was originally stated in numeral to observe that the Hebrew does not say that Absalom letters, and that the letter daleth 7, which stands for four, polled his hair every year, but from time to time-occabecame transmuted in the course of copying into the very sionally ;-that is, as the text explains it, when it became similar letter resh 7, which, as a numeral, stands for two heavy. This may have been at longer intervals than a hundred. But a head of hair weighing only two ounces year. would not be very remarkable. These differences shew '-' After the king's weight.'—The preceding note has the difficulty of the matter, and that, in fact, we can know exhibited some of the opinions which have been held nothing with certainty, except that the hair of Absalom is respecting this . king's weight. It must denote some peintended to be described as remarkably fine and abundant. culiarity. Perhaps it intimates accuracy only-meaning Harmer states that he had been told that it was a very that the weight is given according to the accredited good English head of hair that weighs more than five standard weight in the royal treasury. Of this opinion, ounces. On this Jahn builds the hypothesis that the Bishop Cumberland, in his standard work on the subject shekel by which Absalom's hair was weighed, could not of Hebrew weights and measures (An Essay towards the have been more than a fifth, or perhaps a sixth of the Recovery of Jewish Measures and Weights, 1686) seems legal shekel; for, he says, we can hardly suppose the hair to have been, for he confesses himself unsatisfied with the of Absalom Feighed more than double a good English arguments adduced by some modern Jews and Christians, head of hair, and therefore the shekel could not have ex for the existence of a shekel of inferior weight to the legal ceeded that proportion to the legal shekel.-So much standard, p. 109. The prevailing opinion is, however, in more wildly do men reason and infer on Scriptural topics favour of the king's shekel’ being of weight much inferior than the common sense of mankind would tolerate on any to the other, in the proportion stated in the last note. But other. In fact Harmer does not say to what kind of heads of the conclusion is obviously founded upon this text, and hair his information applied-whether of males or females, must be therefore taken with the limitations which a just or whether to the growth of one or of many years. It is view of the text may itself suggest. One notion is, that certain, however, that heads of hair greatly exceeding his the sacred books being revised after the captivity, the maximum have been known, especially among females, Babylonish weight, distinguished as the king's weight,' and only more particularly among them, probably, because was introduced, as, at that time, more generally intelligible; their habit of allowing the hair to grow long has afforded and this, it is said, was only a third of the Jewish shekel. more opportunity for comparison; for the hair of men If we could rely upon this, it would remove most of will certainly grow as thick, or even thicker than that of the difficulty of the text as it stands. Another explawomen, and if we may judge from the long queues (which nation is that of the always ingenious Michaelis, who sometimes reach to the ground) of the Chinese, it will concludes that as it was not forbidden the Israelites to grow as long. Several curious instances of this are given deal in common life by different weights, there arose in in White's Regular Gradation in Man, pp. 92-94; and process of time under the Judges, a shekel much smaller he adds, I have myself seen an Englishwoman, the wife Than that of the sanctuary: but at last, to prevent uncerof a theatrical gentleman, whose hair is six feet in length, tainty and imposition, the kings fixed the weight of this and weighs upwards of three pounds, without that part common shekel more accurately; so that from this time which is nearly connected with the head. Its colour is of there were two lawful shekels current among the people, a light brown.'
the sacred and the royal. We have only to add the opinion of those, who, unable 27. "Three sons.' — They seem to have died early, as to satisfy their minds otherwise on the subject, suppose their names are not given, and as Absalom is elsewhere that two hundred shekels mean the value of the hair when described as building a monument to perpetuate his sold: but it does not seem likely that the king's son would | memory, because he had no son. See xviii. 18.
3 And Absalom said unto him, See, thy
matters are good and right; but "there is no 1 Absalom, by fair speeches and courtesies, stealeth the l mar
| man deputed of the king to hear thee. hearts of Israel. 7 Under pretence of a vow he obtaineth leave to go to Hebron. 10 He maketh there
| 4 Absalom said moreover, Oh that I were a great conspiracy. 13 David upon the news fleeth made judge in the land, that every man which from Jerusalem. 19 Ittai would not leave him. / hath any suit or cause might come unto me, 24 Zadok and Abiathar are sent back with the ark. and I would do him justice! 30 David and his company go up mount Olivet
I 5 And it was so, that when any man came weeping. 31 He curseth Ahithophel's counsel. 32 Hushai is sent back with instructions.
| nigh to him to do him obeisance, he put forth
his hand, and took him, and kissed him. And it came to pass after this, that Absalom 6 And on this manner did Absalom to all prepared him chariots and horses, and fifty Israel that came to the king for judgment: men to run before him.
| so Absalom stole the hearts of the men of 2 And Absalom rose up early, and stood | Israel. beside the way of the gate: and it was so, that 1 79 And it came to pass after forty years, when any man that had a controversy 'came that Absalom said unto the king, I pray thee, to the king for judgment, then Absalom called let me go and pay my vow, which I have unto him, and said, Of what city art thou ? | vowed unto the Lord, in Hebron. And he said, Thy servant is of one of the 8 For thy servant vowed a vow while I tribes of Israel.
abode at Geshur in Syria, saying, If the LORD 1 Heb. to come. ? Or, none will hear thec from the king downward.
shall bring me again indeed to Jerusalem, | 22 And David said to Ittai, Go and pass then I will serve the LORD.
oter. And Ittai the Gittite passed over, and 9 And the king said unto him, Go in peace. all his men, and all the little ones that were So he arose, and went to Hebron.
with him. 10 | But Absalom sent spies throughout | 23 And all the country wept with a loud all the tribes of Israel, saying, As soon as ye voice, and all the people passed over : the hear the sound of the trumpet, then ye shall king also himself passed over the brook say, Absalom reigneth in Hebron. . "Kidron, and all the people passed over,
11 And with Absalom went two hundred toward the way of the wilderness. men out of Jerusalem, that were called ; and 24 | And lo Zadok also, and all the Lethey went in their simplicity, and they knew vites were with him, bearing the ark of the not any thing.
covenant of God: and they set down the ark 12 And Absalom sent for Ahithophel the of God; and Abiathar went up, until all the Gilonite, David's counsellor, from his city, people had done passing out of the city. even from Giloh, while he offered sacrifices. | 25 And the king said unto Zadok, Carry And the conspiracy was strong; for the people back the ark of God into the city: if I shall increased continually with Absalom.
find favour in the eyes of the LORD, he will 13 9 And there came a messenger to bring me again, and shew me both it, and his David, saying, The hearts of the men of Israel habitation : are after Absalom.
26 But if he thus say, I have no delight in 14 And David said unto all his servants thee; behold, here am I, let him do to me as that were with him at Jerusalem, Arise, and seemeth good unto him. let us flee; for we shall not else escape from 27 The king said also unto Zadok the Absalom : make speed to depart, lest he over- priest, Art not thou a 'seer? return into the take us suddenly, and 'bring evil upon us, and city in peace, and your two sons with you, smite the city with the edge of the sword. Ahimaaz thy son, and Jonathan the son of
15 And the king's servants said unto the Abiathar. king, Behold, thy servants are ready to do 28 See, I will tarry in the plain of the wilwhatsoever my lord the king shall *appoint. derness, until there come word from you to
16 And the king went forth, and all his certify me. houshold "after him. And the king left ten 29 Zadok therefore and Abiathar carried women, which were concubines, to keep the the ark of God again to Jerusalem : and they house.
tarried there. 17 And the king went forth, and all the 30 | And David went up by the ascent of people after him, and tarried in a place that mount Olivet, 'and wept as he went up, and was far off.
had his head covered, and he went barefoot : 18 And all his servants passed on beside and all the people that was with him covered him ; and all the Cherethites, and all the every man his head, and they went up, weepPelethites, and all the Gittites, six hundreding as they went up. men which came after him from Gath, passed | 31 9 And one told David, saying, Ahion before the king.
thophel is among the conspirators with Absa19 | Then said the king to Ittai the Gittite, lom. And David said, O LORD, I pray thee, Wherefore goest thou also with us? return | turn the counsel of Ahithophel into fool-1 to thy place, and abide with the king : for
ishness. thou art a stranger, and also an exile.
32 | And it came to pass, that when David 20 Whereas thou camest but yesterday, was come to the top of the mount, where he should I this day 'make thee go up and down worshipped God, behold, Hushai the Archite with us? seeing I go whither I may, return came to meet him with his coat rent, and earth thou, and take back thy brethren: mercy and | upon his head : truth be with thee.
* 33 Unto whom David said, If thou passest 21 And Ittai answered the king, and said, ! on with me, then thou shalt be a burden unto As the Lord liveth, and as my lord the king me: liveth, surely in what place my lord the king 1 34 But if thou return to the city, and say shall be, whether in death or life, even there unto Absalom, I will be thy servant, o king; also will thy servant be.
as I have been thy father's servant hitherto, so
? Heb. thrust.
5 Hleb, at his feet.
Hleb, mile thee wander in going. 7 Called, John 18. 1. Cedro,
9 Heb. going up and weeping.
will I now also be thy servant: then mayesti 36 Behold, they have there with them their thou for me defeat the counsel of Ahithophel. two sons, Ahimaaz Zadok's son, and Jonathan
35 And hast thou not there with thee Zadok | Abiathar's son; and by them ye shall send and Abiathar the priests ? therefore it shall unto me every thing that ye can hear. be, that what thing soever thou shalt hear out 37 So Hushai David's friend came into the of the king's house, thou shalt tell it to Zadok city, and Absalom came into Jerusalem. and Abiathar the priests.
Verse 1. • Absalom prepared him chariots,' etc.-It when he wished to ingratiate himself with the persons who would seem to have been during his retirement in Geshur, went to the morning levee, to present their petitions, or to or rather, perhaps, during his seclusion at Jerusalem, that submit their cases to the king's determination. Absalom formed those designs for the ultimate execution - Stood beside the way of the gate.'— The gate being of which he soon after began to prepare the way; this here mentioned in connection with the administration of was no less than to deprive his father of the crown. As justice, it may be well to notice a custom which so fre. David was already old, Absalom would probably have been quently comes under our observation in the Old Testament content to avait his death, but for peculiar circumstances. -that of public affairs being transacted and causes tried If David properly discharged his duty, he must have led at the gates of towns. In the Scripture we see transacted his sons to understand that although the succession to the at the gate such business as the purchase and sale of lands throne had been assured to his family, the ordinary rules (Gen. xxiii. 18); the transfer to another of a right of of succession were not to be considered obligatory or marriage, involving the conveyance of an estate (Ruth iv. binding, inasmuch as the Supreme King possessed, and 1-10); with numerous passages, in which the same place would exercise, the right of appointing the particular is described as the seat of justice. (Deut. xxii. 15; xxv. person who might be acceptable to him. In the absence 7; Ps. cxxvii. 5; Prov. xxii. 22; xxxi. 23; Lam. 'v, 14; of any contrary intimation, the ordinary rules might be Amos v. 12; Zech. viii. 16, &c.) The causc commonly observed; but, according to the principles of the theocratical assigned for this is, that, as the Hebrews were chiefly government, no such rules could be of force when a special | an agricultural people, going out in the morning and appointment intervened. It was already known to David, coming back at night, it was convenient for them to have and could not but be known or suspected by Absalom, their affairs determined as they went or returned. The that not only he but some others of the king's sons were same circumstance rendered the gate a place of great reto be passed over, by such an appointment, in favour of sort, in consequence of which publicity was given to the Solomon, whom, by this time, the king probably treated proceedings of the judges — the elders of the gate,' as they as his destined successor. The fact that even the ordinary are called. Allowing due weight to such considerations, law of primogeniture, as applied to the government, had we have no doubt that Goguet (Origine des Lois, i. 44) not yet been exemplified among the Hebrews, must have is right in considering that the custom originated in the tended to increase the misgivings of Absalom respecting ignorance, in the early times, of the art of writing, or the his own succession. Besides, in contending for the crown infrequent and reluctant employment of it, after it had while his father lived, he had but one competitor, and come into use. Then, as decisions were not registered in that one fondly attached to him; whereas, if he waited writing, it was necessary to their establishment that they until his father's death, he might have many vigorous should be registered in the minds of men, who might competitors in his brothers. These, or some of them, were be appealed to as witnesses when any dispute arose about probably the considerations in which the designs of Ab- ! the decison-or rather, whose presence gave such pubsalom originated. But these desigus were not merely | licity to the determination of the judges, as was calcuculpable as against his own father, but as an act of rebellionlated to prevent any dispute from arising. We see against the ordinations of the theocracy, since they involved an attempt to appropriate by force that which God had otherwise destinated, or which, at least, was to be left for his free appointment. The ultimate success of Absalom would therefore have utterly subverted the theocratical principle which still remained in the constitution of the Hebrew state.
2. • Absalom rose up early.' - 'This shews that the jndicial and other public business of the kings was dispatched very early in the morning. The greatest sovereigns in the East rise at day-break, and after their morning devotions proceed immediately to the transaction of public business. Thus, in describing the duties of the king of Persia, Sir John Malcolm says: “At an early hour in the morning the principal ministers and secretaries attend the king, make reports upon what has occurred, and receive his commands. After this audience he proceeds to his public levec, which takes place almost every day, and continues about an hour and a half. At this levee, which is attended by the princes, ministers, and the officers of the court, all affairs which are wished to be made public are transacted; rewards are given, punishments commanded, and the king expresses aloud those sentiments of displeasure or approbation which he wishes to be promulgated.' (Hist. of Persia, ii. 434, 4to.) Such are the duties which, with little variation, an Oriental king has discharged in the early morning, before, in England, persons of consideration usually leave their beds. This explains why Absalom was obliged to rise early Gate oF JUSTICE.-- From Murphy's Antiquitics of Spain.
this clearly in the procedure of Boaz in the gate of gate' in the present text. As it is mentioned indeBethlehem. Having formed his agreement with his pendently, without saying what gate it was, some think it relative, he calls unto the elders and unto all the people,' | was the city-gate, others, the palace-gate; and Jahn supand says, “Ye are witnesses this day, that I have poses that here (and in- Est. ii. 19, 21; iii. 3; Dan. il. bought, etc.; and, having completed his statement of 49, etc.) the word 'gate' is equivalent to 'palace.' We the compact, he again repeats, i« Ye are witnesses this are willing to allow this in a general sense, as the name of day.” And all the people that were in the gate, and the gate' is still very commonly applied in the East to the elders, said, “ We are witnesses." ' This was the record court of a prince (see D'Herbelot, s. v. 'BAB'): but, in of the transaction; and we read of no written record or the present instance, we incline to think that the gate of document of any kind.
David's palace is simply intended; but that it is not neces. We find that precisely the same process of making the sary to suppose that he held his morning levee for the gate, or a place near the gate, the seat of judgment, con administration of justice in the open gate, but in the room tinues to prevail among those semi-barbarous nations of over it, from which there is usually access from the gate Asia and Africa with whom written documents are not in itself, on the one hand, while it communicates (if part of use, and where therefore the publicity necessary to establish a palace or other habitable building) with the interior of a judicial determination or a covenant can only be obtained the residence, on the other. (See the note on chap. xviii. in a place of public resort, such as the gate usually is. 24.) So also, we imagine, when we read that the principal The same custom may be traced in Homer, in whose epics entrance to the Alhambra (the palace of the Moorish kings we do not recollect that any written documents are men of Granada) was called the Gate of Judgment,' that this tioned. The following passage is very remarkable : was with reference to the king's tribunal being held over • But when Aurora, daughter of the dawn,
the gate, or in a room to which there was access from the Had tinged the East, arising from his bed
gate; not, as some travellers suppose, that it was held in Gerenian Nestor issued forth, and sat
or before the open gateway; or else it might be with a Before his palace-gate, on the white stones
respect to the idea that the royal residence, generally, was Resplendent as with oil, on which of old
the fountain of justice, whence its principal gate might be His father Neleus had been wont to sit
called the Gate of Judgment.' We have no historical In council like a god; but he had sought,
information that the Moorish kings of Spain held their By destiny dismissed long since, the shades.
tribunals in the gateways of their palaces or cities; and
the more renowned khalifs of Bagdad, whom they in On those stones therefore, guardian of the Greeks,
general imitated, certainly did not. It was a very ancient Sat Nestor now, his sceptre in his hand, And thither from their chambers also came,
custom, long retained, but ultimately discontinued under T encircle him around, his num'rous sons.'
altered circumstances, although many ideas and expressions Odyss. iii.-CowPER.
connected with it are still preserved, and even the custom
itself is still exhibited under circumstances analogous to On this passage it is well remarked by Pope,– We those in which it originated. have here an ancient custom recorded by the poet; a king 6. “So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.' placing himself before the gate of his palace on a seat of At the first view, such an enterprise as this against such marble ; worn smooth by long use, says Eustathius, or a man as David, and by his own son, must have seemed perhaps smoothed exquisitely by the hand of the workman. wild and hopeless. But in the contest between youth and What I would chiefly observe is, that they placed them age,-between novelty and habit,-between the dignity selves thus in public for the dispatch of justice. We read and authority of an old king, and the ease and freedom of in Scripture of judges sitting in the gate ; and that this one who has only popularity to seek,--the advantages are procedure of Nestor was for that purpose is probable from not all in favour of the old governor. Besides, it seems the expression, " He sat in the seat where Neleus used to that there was much latent discontent among the people, sit" (which seems to express his wisdom in the discharge | arising in a considerable degree from that very confidence of justice), Nestor is also described as bearing his sceptre in the justice and wisdom of the king by which his throne in his hand, which was never used but on some act of ought to have been secured. It is the duty of an Oriental regality, in the dispatch of business, or other solemn oc. king to administer justice in his own person, and that duty casion. But this was at the gate of the palace, not at is not seldom among the heaviest of those which de that of the town. Neither was David's court held at the volve upon him. This grew in time to be so sensibly felt, gate of Jerusalem. When kings came to acquire some that ultimately among the Hebrews, as in some Oriental state, their sittings, wherever held, were sure to command and more European states, the king only undertook to a sufficient attendance to give publicity and to establish | attend to appeals from the ordinary tribunals. But under their determinations. Therefore they changed their seat the former state of things, the people will rather bring of judgment to the gate of their own palace; while, pro their causes before a just and popular king than to the bably, inferior magistrates continued to adjudicate causes ordinary judges; and he in consequence is so overwhelmed of small importance at the gate of the town in which the with judicial business, that there remain only two alternacourt was held, and, in other towns, all causes, except tives-either to give up all his time to these matters, to those which were carried by appeal or referred by the the neglect of the general affairs of the nation; or else to local judges to the king. The continued operation of the risk his popularity by fixing a certain time every day for same causes ultimately induced kings to discontinue the the hearing of causes, whereby some of the suitors must sitting even at their own palace gates; although probably often wait many days before their causes can be brought the custom of associating judicial procedure with gates under his notice. This hindrance to bringing a case imoccasioned a longer continuance of the custom than the mediately before the king is calculated to relieve him by constant attendance of a court wherever the king sat pub inducing the people to resort to the inferior judges from licly, and the growing use of written documents, required. whom prompt justice might be obtained ; but on the other But even when this removal to the interior was effected, hand, it is well calculated to endanger his popularity with it seems probable that respect to ancient usage did not at the unthinking multitude, who deem their own affairs of first induce them to withdraw farther than to a room of the highest importance, and attribute to his neglect or instate over the gate, and which therefore preserved the idea dolence the delay and difficulty which they experience. of the gate as the seat of justice; while, at the same time, David made choice of the latter alternative and incurred this continued association of the court of justice with the the inevitable consequences. gate, maintained the idea of that facility of access to the 7. 'After forty years.'—There is no convenient point complaints of their subjects, about which the Oriental from which the commencement of this period might be kings are particularly careful. It is not clear that David, dated :-certainly not from the commencement of David's or any other king of Israel, administered justice in the reign, as its entire duration was but forty years. It is open gate ; and it is therefore uncertain what is meant by l generally concluded that the difficulty arose from the error