Useful Bible Studies > 2 Samuel Commentary > chapter 18

Joab argues with the man who found Absalom

2 Samuel 18:11-13

One of David’s soldiers had found Absalom, and Joab wanted to kill Absalom at once. However, Joab paused for long enough to have an argument with this man. Joab could hardly believe how this man had behaved. Joab expected that any of his soldiers would not have hesitated to kill such an important enemy at once.

The man was stupid, Joab said. He had lost his reward. He could have received great honour in the army – Joab would have shown that by the gift of a belt. The man would also have received some money.

Joab then mentioned the price that he would have paid for Absalom’s life. He would have offered ten shekels (silver coins). That was a very poor price. It seems to be the price that people might pay for a young boy or an old woman to be a slave (compare Leviticus 27:1-8). So, Joab was saying that Absalom was worth nothing. Joab would not even pay as much for Absalom as he would pay for an adult to be his slave.

If the man had earned the reward, he would have argued for a higher price. As it was, the man still argued about the price. He mentioned a thousand shekels, the same amount as the loving gift in Song of Solomon 8:12. This man, too, was acting in love, as he obeyed the king’s instructions. All the men had heard David’s instructions about Absalom – even for the highest price, this man would not do anything to hurt David’s feelings.

Then the man accused Joab. Joab was not sincere, he said. Joab did not really care about the men whom he led. If the man had killed Absalom, Joab would not really have supported him. Rather, David would have heard, and Joab would have done nothing to protect the man from David’s anger. That was how Joab behaved, the man said.

Next part: Absalom's terrible death (2 Samuel 18:14-16)


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