Useful Bible Studies > 2 Samuel Commentary > chapter 20

The woman who saved her city

2 Samuel 20:16-18

Inside Abel Beth Maacah, the inhabitants were hoping that an army from northern Israel would come to rescue them. Clearly, Sheba had persuaded its leaders that such an army would come soon – otherwise, they would have never agreed to protect Sheba. They were risking their city, their homes, and the lives of themselves and their families.

Joab’s army were almost ready to enter the city. They only had first to break a hole in the wall that surrounded the city. Joab was leading the strongest and bravest soldiers in all of Israel. When they entered the city, they would easily defeat this small city’s guards.

A woman in the city saw that the leaders of her city were completely unable to deal with the situation. She saw that she herself must act now to save the city. So, she went to the top of the wall, where Joab’s army could see her clearly. She then demanded that she must speak to Joab at once.

When Joab came, she boldly accused him. He had fiercely chosen to destroy a peaceful and loyal city, she said. It was a terrible thing to ruin such an ancient city, which was so important in Israel’s history. Long ago, people went there for an answer to their problems. This city had looked after Israel’s people like a mother, she insisted (verse 19).

What she said seems not to be completely true. The history of Dan, the nearest city to Abel Beth Maacah, appears in Judges chapter 18. Originally, this was not part of the land where Israel’s people lived. When Dan’s people took possession of that region - and for a long time afterwards - they served false gods (Judges 18:30-31). They were still doing that at the time of Samuel (compare 1 Samuel 1:3). Perhaps people inquired of those false gods at Abel Beth Maacah too. Otherwise, we can give no explanation for the woman’s statements about her city.

Next part: The woman forces Joab to defend his actions (2 Samuel 20:19-21)


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© 2023, Keith Simons.