2 Samuel 2:30
And Joab returned from following Abner: and when he had gathered all the people together, there lacked of David's servants nineteen men and Asahel.
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(30) Joab returned.—He cannot be supposed to have returned that day farther than to Gibeon, since it was already sunset (2Samuel 2:24) before the pursuit ended. There, doubtless, he mustered his forces, and counted and buried the slain.

Nineteen men.—It is uncertain whether these numbers include the twelve champion combatants on each side. The great disparity of numbers slain on the two sides is to be accounted for partly by the advantage given by bow and spear, the chief weapons of ancient warfare, to the pursuer over the pursued, and partly by the fact that Joab’s men had been long trained under David in hardship and deeds of valour, while Abner’s men were the remnants of Saul’s defeated army.

2 Samuel 2:30. There lacked of David’s servants nineteen men — This renders it probable that the twelve men of Judah, who in the beginning of the fight engaged in combat with as many men of Benjamin, were not killed; for if they were, then there would have been no more than seven men killed in the subsequent battle; which is not likely.2:25-32 Abner appeals to Joab concerning the miserable consequences of a civil war. Those who make light of such unnatural contests, will find that they are bitterness to all concerned. How easy it is for men to use reason, when it makes for them, who would not use it, if it made against them! See how the issue of things alter men's minds! The same thing which looked pleasant in the morning, at night looked dismal. Those who are most forward to enter into contention, will repent before they have done with it, and had better leave it off before it be meddled with, as Solomon advises. This is true of every sin, oh that men would consider it in time, that it will be bitterness in the latter end! Asahel's funeral is here mentioned. Distinctions are made between the dust of some and that of others; but in the resurrection no difference will be made, but between the godly and ungodly, which will remain for ever.Through the plain - See 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. 2Sa 2:19-32. Asahel Slain.

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.

No text from Poole on this verse. And Joab returned from following Abner,.... It being in his commission from David to shed as little blood as he could:

and when he had gathered all the people together; who had been pursuing the Israelites, some one way and some another:

there lacked of David's servants nineteen men, and Asahel; who is particularly mentioned, because a very honourable man, valiant and courageous, a relation of David, and brother of Joab the general, and the loss of him was greater than all the rest. This has made some think that the twelve men of the servants of David were not killed in the duel, or otherwise there must be but seven slain in the battle; though that is not more strange than that in the battle with Midian not one should be slain, and, yet a terrible slaughter was made of the Midianites, Numbers 31:1. So in a sharp battle between the Spartans and Arcadians, ten thousand of the latter were slain, and not one of the former (q). Stilicho killed more than an hundred thousand of the army of Rhadagaisus, king of the Goths, without losing one of his own men, no, not so much as one wounded, as Austin affirms (r). At the battle of Issus the Persians lost an hundred ten thousand men, and Alexander not two hundred (s). Julius Caesar killed in the three camps of Juba, Scipio, and Labienus, ten thousand men, with the loss of fifty men only (t). After these instances, not only the case here, but that between the Israelites and Midianites, cannot be thought incredible, for the sake of which the above are produced. This account, according to Josephus (u), was taken the day following.

(q) Diodor. Sic. l. 15. p. 383. (r) De civilate Dei, l. 5. c. 23. (s) Curtius, l. 3. c. 11. (t) Hirtius de Bello African. c. 86. (u) Antiqu. l. 7. c. 1. sect. 3.

And Joab returned from following Abner: and when he had gathered all the people together, there lacked of David's servants nineteen men and Asahel.
Verses 30, 31. - Nineteen men... three hundred and three score men. Though David's "mighties," as they were called, excelled in the use of arms, yet the disparity of numbers is remarkable; for the Benjamites were also famous warriors. We can only account for it by the superiority of the tactics of Joab, who was a man of consummate military skill, and who knew both how to gain a victory and how to use the advantage which the pursuers have over the pursued to the full. If we sometimes wonder that David endured Joab so long, we ought to remember how much he owed to his nephew's genius, and that Joab was always faithful to himself. But Joab and Abishai pursued Abner till the sun set, and until they had arrived at the hill Ammah, in front of Giah, on the way to the desert of Gibeon. Nothing further is known of the places mentioned here.
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