Page images

of some transcriber in writing buyas arba’yim, “forty, of the year. Its bed is very narrow and rather deep, and for ya arba, 'four:' and this understanding is supported

is in one place crossed by a bridge of one arch. by the Syriac and Arabic versions, by Josephus, by the

26. Let him do to me as seemeth good unto him.'-From

the whole of the words which this sentence concludes, and Sixtine edition of the Vulgate, and by various manuscript copies of the same version. These all read .four',

from other expressions similarly humble and resigned to the instead of forty.'

dispensations of the Lord's providence, it is manifest that

David recognized in this unnatural conspiracy, which made 12. • Sent for Ahithophel.'— Absalom must have been

him a fugitive, a portion of the divine judgments which the aware that this man, although David's choseu counsellor

prophet had been authorized to denounce against him for and trusted friend, was likely to come if sent for. The

iniquities in the matter of Uriah and Bathsheba. Jewish writers assign a reason for this by alleging that 30. Had his head covered.'—This does not mean coverAhithophel was the grandfather of Bathsheba, and that he

ing the head in a common sense, as by putting on a cap or had been alienated from David by his conduct towards

hat, which, it is evident, was not a sign of mourning; but this woman and her husband. But this seems exceedingly

it obviously means wrapping up or enveloping the head doubtful.

with a cloth or robe. This was also a custom of mournGiloh.—This place is mentioned in Josh. xv. 51,

ing among the Persians, Egyptians, and Romans-and is among the towns in the mountains of Judah's lot. It

indeed a rather general practice, being a sufficiently seems to have been not far from Hebron, where Absalom

natural expression of grief when understood as a resource was when he sent for Ahithophel.

to conceal its expression. Do we not find something of 18. * The Gittites, sir hundred men which came after the same idea among ourselves in the hoods worn by him from Gath.'— These appear to have been native female mourners, and even in the sweeping hatbands worn Philistines of Gath, whom David had attached to his ser- by the men at funerals? There are two touching illusvice, after making himself master of their country, and trations of this custom in Quintus Curtius. Darius being who had perhaps become proselytes. Some, however, informed by the eunuch Tyriotes that his queen had died think that this body was composed of native Israelites, in her captivity, but had been respectfully treated by the called Gittites or Gathites, in memory of the 600 followers conqueror, 'he covered his head and wept a long time ; who accompanied him when he sought refuge the second and then, the tears still flowing from his eyes, he uncovered time at Gath, and in which the actual members of that his face, and holding up his hands to heaven, prayed to be body had been incorporated, and had been replaced as they preserved in his kingdom; but, if not, that none but Alexdied off. But there seems no good reason why a body ander might be master of Asia.' And again, when the thus constituted should be named from Gath rather than same king was in the power of the traitor Bessus, every from any other place or circumstances in which their moment expecting his own death, he had an interview history connected them with David. Besides, the king with Artabazus : they wept together, and the latter being obviously speaks to their leader Ittai in v. 19, 20, as a unwilling to leave Darius, the unhappy monarch ordered foreigner, who, with his brethren,' could hardly be ex- him to be taken away, and covered his own head that he pected to incur distress for his sake.

might not see him depart in such affliction, and then flung 23. The brook Kidron.'-This brook, as mentioned in himself upon the ground. In these instances we see that the general notice of Jerusalem (chap. v.), flows through the covering of the head involves the concealment of the the valley which lies between the city and the Mount of face, and is taken as a sign of grief that would be concealed. Olives on the east. It discharges itself into the Dead Sea, The principle of this idea was in the mind of the ancient and, like most of the other streams of Palestine, is a mere painter, who, despairing of exhibiting adequately the grief winter torrent, having a considerable current during the of a father at the sacrifice of his daughter, represented his rainy season, but being usually quite dry for nine months head as covered with a veil.

[ocr errors]


Behold, he abideth at Jerusalem : for he said, 1 Ziba, by presents and false suggestions, obtaineth his

To day shall the house of Israel restore me master's inheritance. 5 At Bahurim Shimei curseth the kingdom of my father. David. 9 David with patience abstaineth, and re- 4 Then said the king to Ziba, Behold, thine straineth others, from revenge. 15 Hushai insinuateth

are all that pertained unto Mephibosheth. himself into Absalom's counsel. 20 Ahithophel's And Ziba said, 'I humbly beseech thee that counsel.

I may find grace in thy sight, my lord, O And when David was a little past the top of king. the hill, behold, Ziba the servant of Mephi- 5 9 And when king David came to Bahubosheth met him, with a couple of asses sad- rim, behold, thence came out a man of the dled, and upon them two hundred loaves of family of the house of Saul, whose name was bread, and an hundred bunches of raisins, Shimei, the son of Gera : "he came forth, and and an hundred of summer fruits, and a bottle cursed still as he came. of wine.

6 And he cast stones at David, and at all 2 And the king said unto Ziba, What the servants of king David : and all the people meanest thou by these? And Ziba said, The and all the mighty men were on his right hand asses be for the king's houshold to ride on; and on his left

. and the bread and summer fruit for the young 7 And thus said Shimei when he cursed, men to eat; and the wine, that such as be faint Come out, come out, thou obloody man, and in the wilderness may drink.

thou man of Belial : 3 And the king said, And where is thy 8 The LORD hath returned upon thee all master's son? And Ziba said unto the king, the blood of the house of Saul, in whose | Heb. I do obeisance. ? Or, he still came forth and cursed.

3 Heb. man of blood.

[ocr errors]

stead thou hast reigned ; and the Lord hath 16 And it came to pass, when Hushai the delivered the kingdom into the hand of Ab- Archite, David's friend, was come unto Absalom thy son: and, 'behold, thou art taken salom, that Hushai said unto Absalom, 'God in thy mischief, because thou art a bloody man. save the king, God save the king.

9 Then said Abishai the son of Zeruialı 17 And Absalom said to Hushai, Is this unto the king, Why should this 'dead dog thy kindness to thy friend ? why wentest thou curse my lord the king ? let me go over, not with thy friend? pray thee, and take off his head.

18 And Hushai said unto Absalom, Nay; 10 And the king said, What have I to do but whom the LORD, and this people, and all with you, ye sons of Zeruiah? so let him curse, the men of Israel, choose, his will I be, and because the Lord hath said unto him, Curse with him will I abide. David. Who shall then say, Wherefore hast 19 And again, whom should I serve? should thou done so ?

I not serve in the presence of his son? as I 11 And David said to Abishai, and to all have served in thy father's presence, so will I his servants, Behold, my son, which came forth be in thy presence. of my bowels, seeketh my life: how much 20 | Then said Absalom to Ahithophel, more now may this Benjamite do it? let him Give counsel among you what we shall do. alone, and let him curse ; for the Lord hath 21 And Ahithophel said unto Absalom, Go bidden him.

in unto thy father's concubines, which he hath 12 It may be that the Lord will look on left to keep the house; and all Israel shall mine affliction, and that the Lord will re- hear that thou art abhorred of thy father : quite me good for his cursing this day.

then shall the hands of all that are with thee 13 And as David and his men went by the

be strong way, Shimei went along on the hill's side over 22 So they spread Absalom a tent upon against him, and cursed as he went, and threw the top of the house ; and Absalom went in stones at him, and cast dust.

unto his father's concubines in the sight of all 14 And the king, and all the people that Israel. were with him, came weary, and refreshed 23 And the counsel of Ahithophel, which themselves there.

he counselled in those days, was as if a man 15 | And Absalom, and all the people the had enquired at the 'oracle of God: so vas men of Israel, came to Jerusalem, and Ahi- all the counsel of Ahithophel both with David thophel with him.

and with Absalom. + Heb. behold thee in thy eril. 5 1 Sam. 24, 14. Chap. 9. 8. 6 Or, tears.

3 Heb. dusted him with dust. . lleb. Let the king live.

7 lleb. eye.

10 Heb. word.

Verse 13. · Throw stones at him.'-In like manner, when | We also see Diomede knocking down Æneas with a the later Jews were offended at what Christ said to them, great stone and breaking his leg ; Ajax and Hector assail • they took np stones to cast at him.' Professor Paxton each other in the same manner, and the latter has his observes—“This conduct was evidently the relic of a very shield shattered to pieces with a stone as large as a millancient custom, which had gradually fallen into disuse, as stone. Agamemnon also, the king of men,' in dealing the conduct and policy of the warrior improved, till, among destruction among the ranks of the enemy, employs by the Jews at least, it was confined to the movements of turns spear, sword, and massy stones.' Other instances private rage or popular fury: (Illustrations of Scripture, of this use of stones might be mentioned for the purpose of iii. 381.). This custom was that of using stones as regular indicating that the act of throwing stones was not quite so and legitimate weapons of offence. There is no question undignified as it now is. (See the cut at page 145 of this that stones were the first missiles that were used, whether volume.) in private quarrels or public warfare; and one of the first inventions for an offensive purpose was (as by the sling) to

- And cast dust::- Thus also the Jews of a later day,

when offended at the address of St. Paul, Cried out, and give to the stone greater power and impulsion than when discharged by the hand. "We have no notice in the Bible

cast off their clothes, and threw dust into the air' (Acts of the use of stones in regular warfare, unless in the de

xxii. 23). That practice is however susceptible of a disfence of besieged towns; but there is abundant indication

tinct illustration, from the existing custom of the East, as that these were the weapons with which the Hebrews were

thus graphically described by Mr. Roberts. Who, in

the East, has not often witpessed a similar scene? Listen most accustomed to assail each other in their quarrels, sometimes with fatal effect. See, for instance, Exod. xxi.

to the maledictions: they are of such a nature that eril 18, and Num. xxxv. 17. Nor was this an andignified re

spirits only could have suggested them. Look at the en

raged miscreant: he dares not come near for fear of source, according to ancient notions. Homer's most stately heroes do not hesitate to pelt each other with stones most

punishment, but he stands at a distance, vociferates his i vigorously. In one action

imprecations, violently throws about his hands; then

stoops to the ground and takes up handsful of dust, throws • As the feath'ry snow's

it in the air, and exclaims, “ Soon shalt thou be as thatFall frequent, on some wintry day.

thy routh shall soon be full of it-look, look, thou cursed So thick, alternately by Trojans hurlid

one; as this dust so shalt thou be!" We may add, that Against the Greeks, and by the Greeks returnd, the Oriental nations, generally, infinitely surpass those of The stony vollies flew.'— İliad, xii.-COWPER. Europe in the expressions and acts of insult and abuse; but that the exbibitions of their rage, however violent, are such an act as would in the sight of all the people commit seldom attended with personal injury, or proceed to the him, beyond all hope of a pardon or reconciliation, to the length of bodily conflict.

bad cause in which he was engaged. This was that he 21. Go in unto thy father's concubines.'— Perceiving should rear a pavilion on the top of the palace (to render it that many held back or wavered from the apprehension conspicuous from afar), into which he should, in the that Absalom would hardly go to the last extremities sight of ail Israel,' enter unto the concubine-wives whom against his father, and that possibly they might become the David had left in charge of the palace. This atrocious victims of another reconciliation between David and his counsel was followed by Absalom, who thus unintentionally son, this wily and unprincipled statesman advised that accomplished Nathan's prophecy in ch. xii. 11. Absalom should not delay to remove this apprehension by

as one.


mighty man, and they which be with him are | Ahithophel's counsel is overthrown by Hushai's, ac

valiant men. cording to God's appointment. 15 Secret intelligence

11 Therefore I counsel that all Israel be is sent unto David, 23 Ahithophel hangeth himself. generally gathered unto thee, from Dan even 25 Amasa is made captain, 27 David at Maha

to Beer-sheba, as the sand that is by the sea naim is furnished with provision.

for multitude; and 'that thou go to battle in MOREOVER Ahithophel said unto Absalom, thine own person. Let me now choose out twelve thousand men, 12 So shall we come upon him in some and I will arise and pursue after David this place where he shall be found, and we will night :

light upon him as the dew falleth on the 2 And I will come upon him while he is ground and of him and of all the men that weary and weak handed, and will make him are with him there shall not be left so much afraid : and all the people that are with him shall flee: and I will smite the king only: 13 Moreover, if he be gotten into a city,

3 And I will bring back all the people then shall all Israel bring ropes to that city, unto thee: the man whom thou seekest is as and we will draw it into the river, until there if all returned : so all the people shall be in be not one small stone found there. peace.

14 And Absalom and all the men of Israel 4 And the saying 'pleased Absalom well, said, The counsel of Hushai the Archite is and all the elders of Israel.

better than the counsel of Ahithophel. For 5 Then said Absalom, Call now Hushai the the LORD had Rappointed to defeat the good Archite also, and let us hear likewise 'what he counsel of Ahithophel, to the intent that the saith.

LORD might bring evil upon Absalom. 6 And when Hushai was come to Absalom, 15 | Then said Hushai unto Zadok and Absalom spake unto him, saying, Ahithophel to Abiathar the priests, Thus and thus did hath spoken after this manner : shall we do Ahithophel counsel Absalom and the elders after his 'saying ? if not; speak thou. of Israel ; and thus and thus have I coun

7 And Hushai said unto Absalom, The selled. counsel that Ahithophel hath given is not 16 Now therefore send quickly, and tell good at this time.

David, saying, Lodge not this night in the 8 For, said Hushai, thou knowest thy father plains of the wilderness, but speedily pass over; and his men, that they be mighty men, and lest the king be swallowed up, and all the they be 'chafed in their minds, as a bear people that are with him. robbed of her -whelps in the field : and thy 17 Now Jonathan and Ahimaaz stayed father is a man of war, and will not lodge with by En-rogel ; for they might not be seen to the people.

come into the city : and a wench went and 9 Behold, he is hid now in some pit, or in told them; and they went and told king some other place: and it will come to pass, David. when some of them be overthrown at the 18 Nevertheless a lad saw them, and told first, that whosoever heareth it will say, There Absalom : but they went both of them away is a slaughter among the people that follow quickly, and came to a man's house in BahuAbsalom.

rim, which had a well in his court; whither 10 And he also that is valiant, whose heart they went down. is as the heart of a lion, shall utterly melt: 19 And the woman took and spread a for all Israel knoweth that thy father is a covering over the well's mouth, and spread 1 Heb, tas right in the eyes of, &c.

5 Heb. bitter of soul. 6 Heb. fallen.

7 Heb. that thy face, or, presence go, &c. VOL. II.

? Heb. sehat is in his mouth.

3 Heb. word,

4 Heb. counselled.
8 Heb. commanded.


[ocr errors]


ground corn thereon ; and the thing was not 24 Then David came to Mahanaim. And known.

Absalom passed over Jordan, he and all the 20 And when Absalom's servants came men of Israel with him. to the woman to the house, they said, Where 25 And Absalom made Amasa captain is Ahimaaz and Jonathan? And the woman of the host instead of - Joab: which Amasa said unto them, They be gone over the brook was a man's son, whose name was Ithra an of water. And when they had sought and Israelite, that went in to Abigail the daughter could not find them, they returned to Jeru- of Nahash, sister to Zeruiah Joab's mother. salem.

26 So Israel and Absalom pitched in the 21 And it came to pass, after they were land of Gilead. departed, that they came up out of the well, 27 ( And it came to pass, when David was and went and told king David, and said unto come to Mahanaim, that Shobi the son of David, Arise, and pass quickly over the water: Nahash of Rabbah of the children of Ammon, for thus hath Ahithophel counselled against you. and Machir the son of Ammiel of Lo-debar,

22 Then David arose, and all the people and Barzillai the Gileadite of Rogelim, that were with him, and they passed over 28 Brought beds, and "'basons, and earthen Jordan : by the morning light there lacked vessels, and wheat, and barley, and flour, and not one of them that was not gone over parched corn, and beans, and lentiles, and Jordan.

parched pulse, 23 9 And when Ahithophel saw that his 29 And honey, and butter, and sheep, and counsel was not 'followed, he saddled his ass, cheese of kine, for David, and for the people and arose, and gat him home to his house, to that were with him, to eat: for they said, The his city, and “oput his houshold in order, and people is hungry, and weary, and thirsty, in hanged himself, and died, and was buried in the wilderness. the sepulchre of his father.

10 Heb. gare charge concerning his house. ( Ishmaelite in 1 Chron. ii. 17; see note there. )

9 Heb. done.

[ocr errors]



Verse 7. The counsel that Ahithophel hath given is not (Ursus Arctos) produced by climate ; and the figured spe good at this time.—The counsel which Ahithophel had cimen of Ehrenberg bears much resemblance to an albino given was in fact marked by his usual political sagacity- specimen of the brown bear preserved in the British Muadvising prompt action before the king should be able to collect his resources. Hushai at once saw that, according The Syrian bear is sometimes of a fulvous brown to human probabilities, David was lost unless some plan of colour, and sometimes of a fulvous white, variegated with frustrating this deep counsel were devised. He therefore, fulvous spots; the fur is woolly beneath, with long, with great presence of mind, adduced several specious ar- straight, or but slightly-curled hair externally; and be guments against it, and in favour of delay-dwelling upon tween the shoulders there is a stiff mane of erected hairs, the tried valour of David and his friends, and the serious about four inches long. The individual killed was neither consequences of any check or failure in the first attack.

young nor old, and measured, from the nose to the tip of The least repulse at such a juncture must, he argued, be the tail, about four feet two, the tail being six inches. fatal to the cause of Absalom. The awe in which they all They saw her den (where there was much bear's dang), stood of the military talents and resources of the old king formed by great fragments of calcareous rock that appeared gave such effect to these suggestions, that the fallacious to have been casually thrown together. They ate of the reasoning of Hushai had more effect upon the heads of the flesh, which they found sapid, but the liver was sweet and conspiracy than the really sage counsel of Ahithophel.

The gall appears to be held in great esteem; 8. * As a bear robbed of her whelps.'-Harmer apologizes the skins are sold, and so is the dung, under the name of for the coarseness of this comparison. We are unable to bar-ed-dub; the latter being used as a medicine for disperceive any coarseness that needs apology. David and eases of the eye in Syria and Egypt. There was nothing his valiant men are not compared to bears; but their state found in its stomach ; but it is described as frequently of mind, when chafed by wrong, and contending for preying on animals, though it, for the most part, feeds on honour and existence, is compared to that most awful ex- vegetables. It will be observed that Bischerre (Bishirrai ample of animal rage, and of unswerving vengeance and of Burckhardt) is a few miles east of Kanobin in Mount unconquerable energy, which the bereaved bear exhibits, Lebanon. It is there said to inhabit the higher parts of even to the death. On this point we may remark again, the mountain, near the region of snow, in summer; but in under Prov. xvii. 12, where a similar comparison occurs winter wanders to the neighbourhood of the villages lover - limiting our attention at present to the animal itself. down the mountain. As the Scripture indicates no chaWe have stated in the note to 1 Sam. xvii., that the bear is racteristic of the bear which it mentions, except such as now very rare in Palestine, but is not altogether unknown, are common to every species, we cannot otherwise conand is still found in Syria and other parts of Western clude than that this bear is that which is intended, and Asia. We believe that the only figure extant of a proper concerning which the information furnished by EhrenSyrian bear is that given by Hemprich and Ehrenberg in berg, however scanty, is by far the most satisfactory that the Symbola Physicæ, after which the figure in our wood- has hitherto been given. cut has been drawn. The specimen (a female) was killed 10. · He also that is valiant, whose heart is as the heart of by the travellers near the village of Bischerre in Syria. a lion.'-In v. 8, the bear robbed of her whelps is taken as They have determined it to be a distinct species, to which the symbol of the rage and boldness of excitement and they have given the name of the Syrian bear (Ursus despair; here the lion is made the symbol of native, or Syriacus). It is perhaps a variety of the brown bear permanently inherent, boldness and courage. In the Bible

[graphic][ocr errors][merged small]

the native courage of the lion is continually mentioned Nevertheless, we do not see why individual instances, or both as a fact, and as supplying an illustrative figure. local modifications of character, should be made to affect Nor is this peculiar to the Bible; for the daring and in- the general estimation in which an animal is held. There domitable warrior is compared to the lion in the poetry of is perhaps the same individuality of character among wild Greece and Rome, and of every nation, ancient or modern, beasts, as we allow to dogs and other domestic animals: in which the lion exists, or is known by tradition or re- nor probably are they, in the different climates they inport. Even we have the same comparison. Men of high habit

, without, so to speak, national peculiarities analogous courage are called lion-like;' they • fight like lions; and to those which we observe among the dispersed tribes of it was thought a proud distinction for the fiercest of our mankind. It requires therefore the concurrence of a large kings to be called the lion-hearted.' We think that this number of independent observations to establish the geconcurrence of testimony, sacred and profane, ancient and neral character of any animal, or to authorize us to modify modern, far outweighs whatever evidence may be deduced a character which has long been established. We may from the stray anecdotes by which it has, in modern times, therefore allow that there are cowardly lions, and that been occasionally sought to shake the claim of this mag- even the lions of particular districts are timid creatures, nificent beast to those high distinctions which it has en- without being required to admit that the lion is not gejoyed from the earliest records of time. We believe that nerally as bold and courageous as the sacred writers and Leo Africanus was the first to assail the character of the the general consent of mankind affirm him to be. lion. He says that the lions in some parts of Africa were 13. · Bring ropes to that_city,' etc.— The exaggerated, so timid, that they would scamper away at the cry of chil- hyperbolical style which Hushai, here and elsewhere, dren; and this was particularly the case in the neighbour- judges to be calculated to win upon Absalom, shews that hood of Agla, whence it became a proverb in Fez, to call he perfectly understood the sort of man with whom he had blustering cowards lions of Agla.' Elsewhere he ob- to deal. In the present instance it is possible that there serves, that the most timorous persons might drive the was some exaggerated reference to a mode actually adopted lions away with a small stick. "Mr. Barrow and others in the siege of towns. Hooks or cranes were thrown upon have also more recently impugned the claim of the lion to the walls or battlements, with which, by means of attached the more noble qualities which have been assigned to him; ropes, they were sometimes pulled down piecemeal into and numerous cases are related in which he has quailed the surrounding trench or ditch. The language of Hushai before the eye of a courageous man, and made an undig- is of stronger import than this, and seems intended to nified retreat in circumstances of danger. We have our. convey the idea, that, with such vast power as Absalom selves, on the banks of the Tigris, seen

the most outrageous could command, the mère manual force of his troops would insults, by voice and missiles, insufficient to provoke lions sweep the strongest town from the face of the earth. It is from their secure dens, the entrances to which were in fact a true Oriental style of speaking of or to a prince. strewed with the spoils of the animals they had devoured. Forbes, in his Oriental Memoirs, has a passage which, as

« PreviousContinue »