And Abner and his men walked all that night through the plain, and passed over Jordan, and went through all Bithron, and they came to Mahanaim.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Through the plain (or the Arabah).—The wilderness of Gibeon lay to the east of the town, and Abner’s flight had thus carried him towards the Jordan. He now passed up the valley of the Jordan (which the word here used generally designates), and, crossing at a ford, went “through all Bithron to Mahanaim.” Bithron is evidently the name of a district on the east of the Jordan, but is not further known.1 Samuel 23:24. Bithron is unknown. From the expression all (the) Bithron, it seems likely that it is a tract of country, intersected by ravines lying on the east side of Jordan.
19-32. Asahel pursued after Abner—To gain the general's armor was deemed the grandest trophy. Asahel, ambitious of securing Abner's, had outstripped all other pursuers, and was fast gaining on the retreating commander. Abner, conscious of possessing more physical power, and unwilling that there should be "blood" between himself and Joab, Asahel's brother, twice urged him to desist. The impetuous young soldier being deaf to the generous remonstrance, the veteran raised the pointed butt of his lance, as the modern Arabs do when pursued, and, with a sudden back thrust, transfixed him on the spot, so that he fell, and lay weltering in his blood. But Joab and Abishai continued the pursuit by another route till sunset. On reaching a rising ground, and receiving a fresh reinforcement of some Benjamites, Abner rallied his scattered troops and earnestly appealed to Joab's better feelings to stop the further effusion of blood, which, if continued, would lead to more serious consequences—a destructive civil war. Joab, while upbraiding his opponent as the sole cause of the fray, felt the force of the appeal and led off his men; while Abner probably dreading a renewal of the attack when Joab should learn his brother's fate, and vow fierce revenge, endeavored, by a forced march, to cross the Jordan that night. On David's side the loss was only nineteen men, besides Asahel. But of Ish-bosheth's party there fell three hundred and sixty. This skirmish is exactly similar to the battles of the Homeric warriors, among whom, in the flight of one, the pursuit by another, and the dialogue held between them, there is vividly represented the style of ancient warfare.Bithron; otherwise called the mountains of Bether, Song of Solomon 2:17, which were beyond Jordan; or some other country now not known by that name, which is the case of hundreds of places.
and passed over Jordan; at one of the fords of it:
and went through all Bithron; the name of a province or country, as Jarchi, called so perhaps from its being separated from the rest of the tribes of Israel by the river Jordan; some think the mountains of Bether were in this country, Sol 2:17. From Gibeon, where the battle was fought, to Bithron, according to Bunting (o), was twenty eight miles, the which he says was in the tribe of Gad, twenty eight miles from Jerusalem northeastward, lying between Dibon and Jordan:
and they came to Mahanaim: from whence they came, and where they had left Ishbosheth, 2 Samuel 2:8. From Bithron to this place, according to the same writer (p), was sixteen miles.And Abner and his men walked all that night through the plain, and passed over Jordan, and went through all Bithron, and they came to Mahanaim.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)29. walked all that night] Fearing a renewal of hostilities they made good their retreat at once.
through the plain] The Arâbâh, or “desert tract which extends along the valley of the Jordan from the Dead Sea to the Lake of Gennesareth, now called by the Arabs El-Ghor.” Stanley, Sinai and Pal. p. 487.
through all Bithron] Probably, as the name (derived from a root meaning to cut) implies, some ravine, or district intersected by ravines, between the Jordan and Mahanaim.Verse 29. - And Abner and his men walked all that night. At the end of the chapter we learn that Joab did the same. Each army had about twenty-six miles to march, and the night was less exhausting for a long walk than the day. As soon, then, as Abner saw Joab and his men occupied with the removal of Asahel's body, he withdrew from the hill of Ammah, and, passing through the Arabah, or plain of Jordan, crossed the river by the same ford which he had used when starting on his unfortunate errand, and so returned home. The phrase, all Bithron, shows that this was a district, but nothing more of it is known. 1 Samuel 26:7); and this will explain the fact that the spear passed through the body. The fate of the young hero excited such sympathy, that all who came to the place where he had fallen stood still to mourn his loss (cf. 2 Samuel 20:12).
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