Now when Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, was come to David, he fell on his face, and did reverence. And David said, Mephibosheth. And he answered, Behold your servant!
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)2 Samuel 9:6-8. He fell on his face and did reverence — As the manner was when men came into the presence of the king or king’s son; for thus David himself prostrated himself before Jonathan, 1 Samuel 20:41. I will restore thee all the land of Saul thy father — That is, according to our mode of speaking, thy grand-father. This land was, perhaps, the family estate of Saul, to which he had annexed other lands for his private use. But because they had been taken by virtue of Saul’s royal prerogative, therefore they were now considered, and perhaps had been seized, as appertaining to his successor on the throne, David. And he bowed himself — It is good to have the heart humbled under humbling providences. If, when divine providence brings our condition down, divine grace bring our spirits down, we shall be easy. That thou shouldest look on such a dead dog — This is a high expression of humility; for a dog was accounted a vile and unclean creature, and a dead dog as of no use at all. And it is likely that Mephibosheth spoke this, both in regard of his bodily infirmity of lameness, and because he was not instructed in, or had no natural genius for affairs of state.1 Chronicles 9:40). The two names seem to have the same meaning: Bosheth, shame, being the equivalent for Baal, and Mephi (scattering or destroying, being equivalent to Merib (contending with). Compare Ish-bosheth and Esh-baal, Jerub-baal and Jerub-besheth.
2Sa 9:1-12. David Sends for Mephibosheth.
1-7. David said, Is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul—On inquiry, Saul's land steward was found, who gave information that there still survived Mephibosheth, a son of Jonathan who was five years old at his father's death, and whom David, then wandering in exile, had never seen. His lameness (2Sa 4:4) had prevented him from taking any part in the public contests of the time. Besides, according to Oriental notions, the younger son of a crowned monarch has a preferable claim to the succession over the son of a mere heir-apparent; and hence his name was never heard of as the rival of his uncle Ish-bosheth. His insignificance had led to his being lost sight of, and it was only through Ziba that David learned of his existence, and the retired life he passed with one of the great families in trans-jordanic Canaan who remained attached to the fallen dynasty. Mephibosheth was invited to court, and a place at the royal table on public days was assigned him, as is still the custom with Eastern monarchs. Saul's family estate, which had fallen to David in right of his wife (Nu 27:8), or been forfeited to the crown by Ish-bosheth's rebellion (2Sa 12:8), was provided (2Sa 9:11; also 2Sa 19:28), for enabling Mephibosheth to maintain an establishment suitable to his rank, and Ziba appointed steward to manage it, on the condition of receiving one-half of the produce in remuneration for his labor and expense, while the other moiety was to be paid as rent to the owner of the land (2Sa 19:29).1 Chronicles 8:34; and this was his relation to Jonathan and Saul, the son of the one, and grandson of the other:
was come unto David; to his court and palace in Jerusalem, being thither brought; for he could not go of himself, being lame:
he fell on his face, and did reverence; to him as a king, in a civil way, and in the best manner he could, considering that he was lame on his feet:
and David said, Mephibosheth; is it he? having learnt what his name was, this he expressed with great vehemency and affection, as glad that he had found one of Jonathan's posterity: and
he answered, behold thy servant! he answered to his name, and owned his subjection to David, and was ready to take the oath of allegiance to him, and give him homage, and serve him in what way he could.Now when Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, was come unto David, he fell on his face, and did reverence. And David said, Mephibosheth. And he answered, Behold thy servant!
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)6. Mephibosheth] See note on ch. 2 Samuel 4:4.Verse 6. - He fell on his face. Mephibosheth probably expected the fate which in the East usually befalls the members of a dethroned dynasty. Subsequently in Israel each new line of usurpers put to death every male relative of its predecessor, and it was with difficulty in Judah that one babe was rescued from the hands of its own grandmother, Athaliah, when she usurped the throne. Looked at, then, in the light of Oriental policy, David's conduct was most generous. 2 Samuel 23:20.), was over the Crethi and Plethi. Instead of והכּרתי, which gives no sense, and must be connected in some way with 1 Kings 1:38, 1 Kings 1:44, we must read הכּרתי על according to the parallel passage 2 Samuel 20:23, and the corresponding text of the Chronicles. The Crethi and Plethi were the king's body-guard, σωματοφύλακες (Josephus, Ant. vii. 5, 4). The words are adjectives in form, but with a substantive meaning, and were used to indicate a certain rank, lit. the executioners and runners, like השּׁלישׁי (2 Samuel 23:8). כּרתי, from כּרת, to cut down or exterminate, signifies confessor, because among the Israelites (see at 1 Kings 2:25), as in fact throughout the East generally, the royal halberdiers had to execute the sentence of death upon criminals. פּלתי, from פלת (to fly, or be swift), is related to פּלט, and signifies runners. It is equivalent to רץ, a courier, as one portion of the halberdiers, like the ἄγγαροι of the Persians, had to convey the king's orders to distant places (vid., 2 Chronicles 30:6). This explanation is confirmed by the fact that the epithet והרצים הכּדי was afterwards applied to the king's body-guard (2 Kings 11:4, 2 Kings 11:19), and that הכּרי for הכּרתי occurs as early as 2 Samuel 20:23.
כּרי, from כוּר, fodit, perfodit, is used in the same sense.
(Note: Gesenius (Thes. s. vv.) and Thenius (on 1 Kings 1:38) both adopt this explanation; but the majority of the modern theologians decide in favour of Lakemacher's opinion, to which Ewald has given currency, viz., that the Crethi or Cari are Cretes or Carians, and the Pelethi Philistines (vid., Ewald, Krit. Gramm. p. 297, and Gesch. des Volkes Israel, pp. 330ff.; Bertheau, zur Geschichte Israel, p. 197; Movers, Phnizier i. p. 19). This view is chiefly founded upon the fact that the Philistines are called C'rethi in 1 Samuel 30:14, and C'rethim in Zephaniah 2:5 and Ezekiel 25:16. But in both the passages from the prophets the name is used with special reference to the meaning of the word הכרית, viz., to exterminate, cut off, as Jerome has shown in the case of Ezekiel by adopting the rendering interficiam interfectores (I will slay the slayers) for את־כּרתים הכרתּי. The same play upon the words takes place in Zephaniah, upon which Strauss has correctly observed: "Zephaniah shows that this violence of theirs had not been forgotten, calling the Philistines Crethim for that very reason, ut sit nomen et omen." Besides, in both these passages the true name Philistines stands by the side as well, so that the prophets might have used the name Crethim (slayers, exterminators) without thinking at all of 1 Samuel 30:14. In this passage it is true the name Crethi is applied to a branch of the Philistine people that had settled on the south-west of Philistia, and not to the Philistines generally. The idea that the name of a portion of the royal body-guard was derived from the Cretans is precluded, first of all, by the fact of its combination with הפּלתי (the Pelethites); for it is a totally groundless assumption that this name signifies the Philistines, and is a corruption of פלשׁתּים. There are no such contractions as these to be found in the Semitic languages, as Gesenius observes in his Thesaurus (l.c.), "quis hujusmodi contractionem in linguis Semiticis ferat?" Secondly, it is also precluded by the strangeness of such a combination of two synonymous names to denote the royal body-guard. "Who could believe it possible that two synonymous epithets should be joined together in this manner, which would be equivalent to saying Englishmen and Britons?" (Ges. Thes. p. 1107). Thirdly, it is opposed to the title afterwards given to the body-guard, והרצים הכּרי (2 Kings 11:4, 2 Kings 11:19), in which the Cari correspond to the Crethi, as in 2 Samuel 20:23, and ha-razim to the Pelethi; so that the term pelethi can no more signify a particular tribe than the term razim can. Moreover, there are other grave objections to this interpretation. In the first place, the hypothesis that the Philistines were emigrants from Crete is merely founded upon the very indefinite statements of Tacitus (Hist. v. 3, 2), "Judaeos Creta insula profugos novissima Libyae insedisse memorant," and that of Steph. Byz. (s. v. Γαζά), to the effect that the city of Gaza was once called Minoa, from Minos a king of Crete, - statements which, according to the correct estimate of Strauss (l.c.), "have all so evidently the marks of fables that they hardly merit discussion," at all events when opposed to the historical testimony of the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 2:23; Amos 9:7), to the effect that the Philistines sprang from Caphtor. And secondly, "it is a priori altogether improbable, that a man with so patriotic a heart, and so devoted to the worship of the one God, should have surrounded himself with a foreign and heathen body-guard" (Thenius). This argument cannot be invalidated by the remark "that it is well known that at all times kings and princes have preferred to commit the protection of their persons to foreign mercenaries, having, as they thought, all the surer pledge of their devotedness in the fact that they did not spring from the nation, and were dependent upon the ruler alone" (Hitzig). For, in the first place, the expression "at all times" is one that must be very greatly modified; and secondly, this was only done by kings who did not feel safe in the presence of their own people, which was not the case with David. And the Philistines, those arch-foes of Israel, would have been the last nation that David would have gone to for the purpose of selecting his own body-guard. It is true that he himself had met with a hospitable reception in the land of the Philistines; but it must be borne in mind that it was not as king of Israel that he found refuge there, but as an outlaw flying from Saul the king of Israel, and even then the chiefs of the Philistines would not trust him (1 Samuel 29:3.). And when Hitzig appeals still further to the fact, that according to 2 Samuel 18:2, David handed over the command of a third of his army to a foreigner who had recently entered his service, having emigrated from Gath with a company of his fellow-countrymen (2 Samuel 15:19-20, 2 Samuel 15:22), and who had displayed the greatest attachment to the person of David (2 Samuel 15:21), it is hardly necessary to observe that the fact of David's welcoming a brave soldier into his army, when he had come over to Israel, and placing him over a division of the army, after he had proved his fidelity so decidedly as Ittai had at the time of Absalom's rebellion, is no proof that he chose his body-guard from the Philistines. Nor can 2 Samuel 15:18 be adduced in support of this, as the notion that, according to that passage, David had 600 Gathites in his service as body-guard, is simply founded upon a misinterpretation of the passage mentioned.)
And David's sons were כּהנים ("confidants"); not priests, domestic priests, court chaplains, or spiritual advisers, as Gesenius, De Wette, and others maintain, but, as the title is explained in the corresponding text of the Chronicles, when the title had become obsolete, "the first at the hand (or side) of the king." The correctness of this explanation is placed beyond the reach of doubt by 1 Kings 4:5, where the cohen is called, by way of explanation, "the king's friend." The title cohen may be explained from the primary signification of the verb כּהן, as shown in the corresponding verb and noun in Arabic ("res alicujus gerere," and "administrator alieni negotii"). These cohanim, therefore, were the king's confidential advisers.
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