Moreover, if he be gotten into a city, then shall all Israel bring ropes to that city, and we will draw it into the river, until there be not one small stone found there.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Bring ropes to that city.—Hushai here makes use of hyperbole to show the irresistible power of all Israel united, and therefore the certain success of his plan. This was pleasing to the vanity and dazzling to the imagination of Absalom.2 Samuel 17:13. If he be gotten into a city, &c. — If he should take refuge for more security in any one of the cities of Israel, they would have numbers sufficient to pull it down, stone by stone, about his ears. The expression in the original is very remarkable, but hyperbolical, suited to the vain-glorious temper of this insolent young man. Then shall all Israel bring ropes to that city, and we will draw it into the river — The meaning of which threat seems to be this: that they would come before that city with those cranes, or hooks, which the ancients were wont to throw upon the battlements of walls, and with which, by the help of ropes fastened to them, they were wont to pull them down piecemeal into the rivers and trenches, (filled with water,) which encompassed or adjoined to them; it being usual to build cities near some river, both for defence and other accommodations.Then shall all Israel bring ropes to that city; not that they should do so, or that it was the custom to do so; but it is an hyperbolical and thrasonical expression, suited to the vain-glorious temper of this insolent young man; and therefore most likely to prevail with him; implying that they would do so if they could not discover and destroy him another way; or that they should be enough to do so, if there were occasion. We will draw it into the river, adjoining to the city; it being usual to build cities near some river, both for defence, and for other accommodations.
then shall all Israel bring ropes to that city; scaling ropes, and thereby get upon and over the walls of it, and take it by storm; or engines worked with ropes, used for the demolishing of cities; so Tacitus speaks of "vincula tormentorum", the bands or ropes of engines, as Grotius observes; the Targum renders it by "armies", thus,"all Israel shall be gathered against the city, and surround it with armies,''besiege it in form, and so surround it that David could not possibly make his escape out of it, nor could it hold out long against such numerous forces; or this is an hyperbolical expression, as Kimchi calls it, signifying that their numbers would be so many, that they could soon and easily demolish it:
and we will draw it into the river; by the side of which it was built, or the ditch or trench around it, or the valley near it, that being built on an hill; and by this boasting, bragging, hyperbolical expression, he signifies that they should be able easily and utterly to destroy its walls, buildings, and towers, as if a number of men were to fasten a rope about anything, and by their main strength, and through their numbers, draw it down whither they pleased:Moreover, if he be gotten into a city, then shall all Israel bring ropes to that city, and we will draw it into the river, until there be not one small stone found there.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)13. into the river] Into the ravine. Hushai intentionally indulges in an extravagant hyperbole in order to describe the irresistible power of the force that would be gathered, if he means to suggest the idea of dragging a city bodily down from the rock on which, like most fortified cities, it was built: but perhaps he means no more than that the city should be conquered and demolished as a penalty. Compare Micah’s prophecy of the destruction of Samaria, which stood on a hill: “I will pour down the stones thereof into the valley” (Micah 1:6).Verse 13. - The river. The word does not signify a river, but a ravine or gorge worn away by the action of a torrent. Such ravines are common in Palestine, where the streams rush along with resistless fury after the rains, but in summer are dry (Job 6:17); and their desolate beds, bordered by precipitous cliffs, are described by Isaiah as favourite places for the cruel rites of Moloch (Isaiah 57:5). Dragged to the edge of one of these gorges, the city, with its few defenders, would topple over, and in the next rainy season be entirely swept away. 2 Samuel 17:8): "Thou knowest thy father and his men, that they are heroes, and of a ferocious disposition (like Judges 18:25), like a bear in the field robbed of her young; and thy father is a man of war, and will not pass the night with the people," sc., so that it would be possible to come upon him unawares and slay him (לין with את, as in Job 19:4). The idea that ילין is to be taken as a Hiphil, in the sense of "and does not let the people lodge for the night" (Bttcher), is quite untenable, since it does not tally with 2 Samuel 17:9, "Behold, he is hid now in one of the pits, or one of the places (פּחתים are hiding-places that are strong by nature, מקומת are places rendered strong by art); and it comes to pass that he falls upon them at the first: so will men hear it, and say a defeat has taken place among the people that follow Absalom." נפל with בּ, as in Joshua 11:7, to fall upon a person. The subject to נפל is David, but it is not mentioned as being evident enough from the context; so that there is no necessity for the emendation נפלו, which Thenius proposes. The suffix בּהם relates to those making the attack, the hosts of Absalom. Thenius has given the meaning correctly: "The report that David has made an attack will be sufficient to give rise to the belief that our men have sustained a severe defeat."
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