Then said Joab, I may not tarry thus with you. And he took three darts in his hand, and thrust them through the heart of Absalom, while he was yet alive in the middle of the oak.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)I may not tarry thus.—Joab evidently feels the home-thrusts made by the man in the argument, but, determined on his deed of violence, he sees that it is worse than useless to delay. His act was simply murder. In a lawless age it was defensible as the one act which terminated the rebellion and made a renewal of it impossible, and destroyed a traitor and would-be parricide who was likely otherwise to escape punishment; but it was a distinct disobedience of express orders, and Joab’s taking the execution into his own hands was wilful and deliberate murder.
Three darts.—The word means a rod or staff. Also the word heart is the same as the following word midst, and is not therefore to be taken too literally. Joab seized such sticks as were at hand in the wood and thrust them into Absalom, giving him most painful and probably mortal wounds, but not instantly killing him. Then (2Samuel 18:15) the ten men who had Joab’s armour and weapons came up and finally killed Absalom.2 Samuel 18:14-15. I may not tarry thus with thee — I must not lose time in contending with thee, till I let the occasion slip. And thrust them through the heart of Absalom — Not through the part properly so called, (for then he would have died immediately, and there would have been no need for his soldiers to fall upon him as they afterward did, 2 Samuel 18:15,) but through the midst of his body, which did not kill him outright, but some life still remained in him. Ten young men that bare Joab’s armour — Who waited upon his person as general of the army; smote Absalom and slew him — By Joab’s command, who probably judged that there could be no safety to the king, nor peace to the kingdom, nor security to himself, and David’s friends and other loyal subjects, or to any good men, if Absalom was suffered to live. For he thought that some unquiet people, who were deeply engaged in this rebellion, would soon take occasion to move new disturbances to set him on the throne, which Absalom would be very ready to encourage. Therefore, knowing that he had been guilty of several crimes which the law of God made capital, especially of committing incest with his father’s concubines, and raising an unnatural rebellion against him, with a design to rob him both of his kingdom and his life; Joab did, not as David commanded, but as, he imagined, he ought to have commanded. “Thus fell,” says Delaney, “this cruel, this murderous, this incestuous parricide! and with him, twenty thousand of his rebel adherents.” So much mischief may one restless, interested man do in his country! and such ruin may his ambition bring upon it! We do not, however, intend, by these observations, to plead Joab’s justification in the act of direct disobedience to his sovereign’s orders, but leave the reader to form his own judgment of the matter.
14. he took three darts … and thrust them through the heart of Absalom—The deed, partially done by Joab, was completed by his bodyguard. Being a violation of the expressed wish, as well as of all the fond paternal feelings of David, it must have been deeply offensive to the king, nor was it ever forgotten (1Ki 2:5); and yet there is the strongest reason for believing that Joab, in doing it, was actuated by a sincere regard to the interests of David, both as a man and a monarch.I may not tarry thus with thee; I must not lose time in contending with thee till I let the occasion slip.
Through the heart of Absalom; not properly so called, for he was yet alive after these wounds, and was slain, 2 Samuel 18:15; but through his middle, as the word heart is oft used, as Psalm 46:2, and that too not exactly, but more largely understood, as Deu 4:11 Ezekiel 27:4 Matthew 12:40; or through his body; which might be, and yet the wounds not mortal.
While he was yet alive, or, yet he continued alive, i.e. the darts did not despatch him, and therefore they smite him again, and kill him, 2 Samuel 18:15.
and he took three darts in his hand; or three rods, which were either all iron, or however the tops of them were iron spikes:
and thrust them through the heart of Absalom; or through the midst of his body; for if he had thrust through his heart, properly speaking, he must have died instantly, whereas he seems to have lived after this:
while he was yet alive; Joab found him alive when he came to him, and so he was when he thrust his darts through him; and so he was afterward; for the words may be rendered, "being yet alive", even after the darts were fixed in him, and even so deeply as to pierce through his body:
in the midst, or "heart":Then said Joab, I may not tarry thus with thee. And he took three darts in his hand, and thrust them through the heart of Absalom, while he was yet alive in the midst of the oak.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)14. three darts] Since the word used means elsewhere rods or staves (Exodus 21:20; 2 Samuel 23:21), and the wounds inflicted were not at once mortal, it seems that Joab struck Absalom brutally with pointed wooden staves, the first weapons which came to hand, in fact in a kind of way impaled him as a traitor, and left his squires to give him the coup de grâce.
through the heart] Not literally through his heart, for the blows did not kill him outright; but into the midst of his body.Verse 14. - Three darts; Hebrew, three staves (see 2 Samuel 23:21). The weapons of the ancients were of a very inferior kind, and stakes sharpened at the end and hardened in the fire were used by the infantry, until the increasing cheapness of iron made it possible to supply them with pikes. Joab's act was not one of intentional cruelty, but, picking up the first weapons that came to hand, he hurried away to kill his victim. His thrusts with these pointed sticks were brutal, and inflicted mortal wounds; but as they were not immediately fatal, Joab's armour bearers, who had followed him, and who had with them Joab's own better weapons, were called upon to put an end to Absalom's sufferings. His heart does not mean that organ anatomically, but the middle of his body. So at the end of the verse, in the midst of the oak, is, in the Hebrew, in the heart of the terebinth.
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