II Samuel 20 The Rebellion Of Sheba.

II Samuel 20 The Rebellion Of Sheba.

Sheba came from the same tribe as Saul, which may help explain his rejection of David. However, other Benjamites did receive David back (vv. 1-2). It should be noted that the concubines that David left behind were cared for as widows. He did not have sex with them after Absalom had done so (v. 3). Sheba had succeeded in breaking up any reconciliation which David had sought. The division between Judah and Israel returned. This may be seen in the delay with which Amasa, (who was from Israel , and whom David had chosen to be commander of the army in place of Joab), sought to assemble the men of Judah (vv. 4-5). To counter Amasa, David first goes to Abishai, Joab’s brother. “Though Amasa is proving unsatisfactory, David is still unwilling to reinstate  Joab (19:13), so he addresses Joab’s brother Abishai instead. By the end of the episode, however, Joab will have retaken his former position, regardless of David’s wishes (vv. 13, 23).” (NGSB. 456) Apparently David would not, among other things, let the upbraiding from Joab at 19:5-8 go unpunished. The command to Abishai is to pursue Sheba, “lest he find for himself fortified cities, and escape us” (v. 6).

Abishai must have immediately gone to his brother Joab, because we read that “Joab’s men, with the Cherethites, and the Pelethites, and all the mighty men, went out after him” (v. 7). In this pursuit they met up with Amasa, and Joab addressed him as ‘brother’ grabbed his beard and kissed him, but as he did so he struck Amasa in his stomach with his sword, and he died (vv. 8-10). Perhaps it was David’s desire to reconcile that gave him his distaste for Joab, who was clearly a man of vengeance. It was one of Joab’s men who had to remove Amasa from the road and cover him, since all were stopped by his presence. When this was done the men then followed after Joab, as if they were following after David (vv. 11-13). Joab and his men pursued Sheba all the way to the city of Abel, and were about to throw its wall down, when a wise woman cried out to Joab (vv. 14-17). The woman told Joab, if he did not already know, that Abel was the place where people used to go to resolve disputes. Therefore she asked him why he was seeking to destroy such a peace loving people and mother in Israel – “the inheritance of the LORD” (vv. 18-19).

When Joab made clear that he was only after Sheba, for his being a traitor against king David, she then spoke with her fellow citizens, and they threw Sheba’s head over the wall. To some this appears as frontier justice, and there is no doubt that the context was very much a frontier of sorts. However, the wisdom of this woman can be seen in the consultation with the citizens of the city, and their judgment in the execution of a traitor and the saving of an innocent city (vv. 20-21). “So Joab returned to the king at Jerusalem” (v. 22). Among the brief list of David’s government officials, including Shiva the scribe, and Zadok and Abiathar the priests, there is Joab listed as the one over the whole army of Israel (vv. 23-26). Joab was not a politician. David was both a warrior and the king. David, as the head of state, sought reconciliation. However, through the preceding events it can be seen why even David was not allowed to build the temple, for as the LORD had said to him, he was a man of war with blood on his hands (I Chron. 28:3). He was a mighty warrior, and a good politician of sorts, but he was certainly not a man of true reconciliation or peace, though he also aspired to be such.

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