Haydock Catholic Bible Commentary
Juda. David thought it was his duty to co-operate with the designs of Providence. He consults the Lord (Calmet) by means of Abiathar, (Abulensis) or by a prophet. (Josephus) --- Hebron, ennobled by the patriarchs. (Menochius) --- It was also in the centre of Juda, and the strongest place belonging to that tribe. (Calmet) --- Part of Jerusalem was still in the hands of the Jebusites. (Haydock)
Towns, villages, and dependencies of Hebron.
Juda, without the concurrence of the other tribes, (Calmet) which would be an evil precedent in a commonwealth, unless God had authorized them by the declaration of his will. (Grotius) --- Samuel had before anointed David, and given him a right to the crown, (Worthington) jus ad regnum. But this anointing gives him a right to govern, jus in regno; (Calmet) or rather it proves, that the tribe submitted voluntarily to his dominion, which he had already (Haydock) lawfully begun to exercise, when he put the Amalecite to death. (Abulensis) (Tirinus) --- Told, perhaps by some ill-designing men, who wished to irritate David against those who had shewn an attachment to Saul, unless the king had made enquiry, thinking it his duty to bury the deceased. (Calmet)
And truth, or a real kindness. God will reward you for the sincere piety which you have shewn towards the dead. (Calmet) --- Will. I do, by these messengers, thank you. (Louis de Dieu)
King. He invites them to concur with the men of Juda, hoping that all Israel would be influenced by their example. But his hopes proved abortive, as Abner caused Isboseth to be proclaimed king in the vicinity at Mahanaim.
Camp. Hebrew Machanayim, which many take for a proper name (Calmet) of the town, on the river Jabok, where Jacob had encamped, Genesis xxxii. 2. (Haydock) --- Abner was aware that he should not retain his authority under David, and therefore conducted Isboseth to the camps in various places, (Menochius) but chiefly on the east side of the Jordan, (Haydock; ver. 29.) where the people were particularly attached to Saul's family. Isboseth seems to have been a fit tool for his purpose.
Gessuri. There was one south of Juda: but this country was probably near Hermon, and might be tributary to Israel. David perhaps married this king's daughter, in order to detach him from the party of Isboseth, chap. iii. 3. Hebrew reads, "Assuri;" and St. Jerome observes, that many explained it of the tribe of Aser, (Trad. Heb.[Hebrew tradition?]) with the Chaldee, (Du Hamel; Menochius) or of the Assurians, Genesis xxv. 3. --- Israel, by degrees. In the mean time the Philistines occupied many cities, which might prevent Isboseth from attempting to fix his residence on the west side of the Jordan, ver. 19.
He reigned two years, viz., before he began visibly to decline: but in all he reigned seven years and six months: for so long David reigned in Hebron. (Challoner) (Worthington) --- The Jews admit of an interregnum in Israel of above five years, which is by no means probable. Two years elapsed before the two houses came to an open war; (Salien) soon after which, the power of Isboseth was greatly weakened by the defeat, and afterwards by the defection, of Abner. (Haydock) --- Hence the sacred historian refers to the commencement of hostilities, and not to the end of Isboseth's dominion. (Estius; Tirinus; Calmet)
Servants; guards, army. (Menochius) --- Camp; or from Machanayim to Gabaon, in the tribe of Benjamin, about six miles from Jerusalem. (Calmet) --- Septuagint leave the former word untranslated, "Manaeim." (Haydock)
Play, like the gladiators with drawn swords, which formed one of the principal diversions at Rome, (Calmet) while it was pagan. This might be considered as a prelude to the ensuing engagement; or like a detachment of twelve on each side, fighting to shew the prowess of their respective armies; as the three Horatii and Curiatii did afterwards, to spare the effusion of blood. But there is no mention that Abner and Joab had authority to agree that these champions should decide the fate of the two kingdoms, (Haydock) whence they are generally accused of ostentation; though the soldiers, not being acquainted with their motives, were obliged to obey. (Tirinus; Menochius)
Together. Some understand this only of Abner's soldiers, as the original may be explained: "And they (David's men) caught every on one his," &c. But it is more generally believed that all fell. (Calmet) --- Rufin has erroneously translated Josephus in the former sense, and has lead Comestor, Lyranus, &c., into this opinion. (Tirinus) --- Valiant. Hebrew, "the portion of the smooth stones, (hatsurim, 1 Kings xvii. 40. or) of the brave." (Calmet)
Woods. Swiftness was one great qualification of a warrior, chap. i. 23. Homer generally styles Achilles, "the swift-footed."
Spoils. Attack one who may be a more equal match for thee. (Haydock)
Brother. It seems they were great friends, though they had espoused different parties. (Calmet)
Stroke, (aversa.) Hebrew, "with the hinder end of the spear, under the fifth rib." Septuagint, "in the loin."
Wilderness, or land which was not ploughed, though fruitful.
Destruction. Septuagint, "till thou hast gained a complete victory?" Chaldean, "to separation?" Must we come to an eternal rupture? --- Despair? Hebrew, "that it will be bitterness in the end?" Abner insinuates that they had commenced in a sort of play, but the consequences had already proved too serious; and if Joab continued to pursue, his men would be rendered desperate. (Calmet) --- Despair makes people perform wonders, to revenge themselves. (Menochius)
Sooner. Hebrew, "If thou hadst not spoken," (Du Hamel) by challenging, ver. 14. (Josephus, &c.) (Calmet)
Trumpet. It was not dishonourable for a general to do this himself, chap. xviii. 16. But among the Hebrews, the priests generally performed this office. (Calmet)
Beth-horon. Septuagint, "the extended plain." Hebrew Bithrun, (Haydock) or the country towards the Jordan. (Calmet) --- Thus the battle ended in his disgrace; (Haydock) and many from all Israel began to flock to the standard of David, 1 Paralipomenon xii. 22. (Tirinus)
Day, after a march of ten hours. (Adrichomius) (Menochius)