Useful Bible Studies > 2 Samuel Commentary > chapter 3
By an ancient law, the punishment for a murderer was death. The brother of the dead man had a duty to find the murderer and to kill him.
Abner was not a murderer. He had killed Asahel, the brother of Joab – but only to save his own life during a battle (2:18-23). However, Joab still wanted to kill Abner. So, Joab persuaded Abner to go to Hebron, where Joab killed him.
The news of how Abner died was a great shock for King David. Joab was the commander of David’s army. In David’s opinion, Abner was innocent, but Joab was guilty of murder.
David disliked the manner of Joab’s attack. It was like the way that a robber attacks someone (3:34). David disliked Joab’s attitudes. Joab had no respect for David, his king, who had made a promise of safety to Abner (3:21). Also, David would have realised that Joab had no respect for the law. Hebron, where Abner died, was one of the special cities of refuge (Joshua chapter 20). Those cities gave special protection to someone who killed a person by accident. A dead person’s relative had no right to kill a murderer there, except by a proper decision of the court.
However, David considered himself too weak to punish Joab. Joab was in charge of all David’s soldiers; none of them would have the courage to attack their commander. So, David asked God to deal with this matter. He declared a curse, in other words, an evil fate, against Joab and his family. In effect, he was asking God to punish this guilty man. However, for the next 33 years, Joab led David’s army. As David’s death approached, he urged his son Solomon to punish Joab properly (1 Kings 2:5-6 and 2:28-34). So in the end, Joab died because of his crimes.
Next part: The funeral of Abner (2 Samuel 3:31-32)
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© 2021, Keith Simons.