And when Abner was returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside in the gate to speak with him quietly, and smote him there under the fifth rib, that he died, for the blood of Asahel his brother.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Aside in the gate.—The gateway was a customary place of conference in the East, and Joab there awaited Abner’s return; he then took him “aside” to some place of privacy, as the LXX. reads, “by the side of the gate.” On the phrase “fifth rib,” see Note on 2Samuel 2:23. The reason for this cold-blooded and treacherous murder on the part of Joab is expressly said to be “for the blood of Asahel his brother;” but no doubt his revenge was quickened by jealousy.In the gate; in the entrance into the city before he came to the king; and in the place where conferences used to be.
Quietly; with appearance of great civility and kindness. Or, secretly, as having some matter of great importance to utter, which none but himself must hear.
Smote him there under the fifth rib; as he did Asahel, 2 Samuel 2:23.
For the blood of Asahel his brother; to revenge the death of Asahel; and withal (though that be not here mentioned) to secure his own standing, and rid his hands of so great and powerful a competitor. And thus was Joab’s design; but God had other designs in it, both to punish Abner’s manifest wickedness, and particularly his rebellion against David, and against God and his own conscience therein; and that David might not owe his kingdom to Abner, and to his revenge and treachery, but wholly to God’s wise and powerful providence.
Joab took him aside in the gate: where he was waiting for him, and met him; this was a public place, where people were continually passing and repassing, and where courts of judicature used to be held; wherefore Abner might think himself safe here with Joab, and have no suspicion at all of his design, and shows how fearless Joab was of God or men:
to speak with him quietly; peaceably, in a friendly manner, as all his gestures towards him showed; so that Abner made no difficulty of turning aside with him, supposing he had something to communicate to him from the king, which he had forgot:
and smote him under the fifth rib, that he died; in the same place that Abner had smote his brother, of which see 2 Samuel 2:23; and this he did:
for the blood of Asahel his brother; for Abner's shedding his brother's blood; but this was not the only reason, and perhaps not the chief; but, as Josephus (h) observes, because he was fearful if Abner was received into the friendship of the king, he would be preferred unto him, and take his place as general of the army, as being an older and more experienced officer; so Procopius Gazaeus, and Theodoret.And when Abner was returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside in the gate to speak with him quietly, and smote him there under the fifth rib, that he died, for the blood of Asahel his brother.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)27. in the gate] Lit. into the midst of the gate, the space between the inner and outer gateways. But the publicity of the city gate was unsuited to a private conference, and the Sept. offers a more probable reading, “took him apart by the side of the gate.”
under the fifth rib] In the belly. See note on 2 Samuel 2:23.
for the blood of Asahel his brother] Since Abner had slain Asahel in self-defence (ch. 2 Samuel 2:23), Joab’s act was not justifiable on the score of blood-revenge. This was merely a convenient pretext for getting rid of a dangerous rival. He foresaw that if he allowed Abner to have the credit of placing the crown of Israel on David’s head, he would lose his own position and influence. Failing in his endeavour to persuade David that Abner was playing him false, with characteristic unscrupulousness he planned this deliberate and treacherous murder, as on a later occasion he murdered his rival Amasa (ch. 2 Samuel 20:10).Verse 27. - Joab took him aside in the gate. As we read in 2 Samuel 18:24 of David sitting "between the two gates," and of "the roof over the gate," and in ver. 33 of "the chamber over the gate," Ewald's idea of there being a roofed inner space, with a guard room over it, as in the mediaeval gate towers in German towns, is probably right. As the "two gates" would make the space between them gloomy, the spot would just suit Joab's purpose. He meets Abner, therefore, in a friendly manner, and drawing him aside, as if to converse with him apart from the people going in and out, there assassinates him. The place was so public that the deed must have been witnessed by multitudes, though the gloom, felt the more by them from the contrast with the bright glare of sunshine outside, had given Joab the opportunity of drawing his sword without Abner's observing it. For the blood of Asahel his brother. Joab's act was in accordance with Oriental feeling; and the duties of the avenger of blood might with some straining be made to cover his retaliation for an act done by Abner in self-defence (Numbers 35:26, 27). It is remarkable that Hebron was itself a city of refuge (Joshua 20:7), and this may have led Joab to murder him in the gate, before he had actually entered. Still, Abner did not expect any such retribution, and supposing that Joab knew of the purpose that had brought him to Hebron, he could not suppose that he would be so indifferent to his master's interests as to put a summary stop to the negotiations for uniting the tribes under David. As it was, this deed brought upon David an evil name, and four or five years had to elapse before the tribes could be induced to take him for their king. Even then his hold over them was far less than it would otherwise have been; for though the shock was gradually got over, yet the suspicion still dung to him. And if the deed was Joab's own act, still David had contributed to it by underhand dealings. His very fear of Joab had caused him to wrong his able general, and given him just cause for resentment.
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