Larry Hunt's Bible Commentary


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II Samuel 20

Chapter 20


v. 8:  I wonder if the narrator mentions Joab’s military tunic to point out the fact that Joab was wary of treachery himself (if the tunic was some type of protection) or he mentions it simply to set up the description of his dagger.  As for the dagger itself, I believe Joab intentionally dropped it so that he could then pick it up casually with his left hand and not arouse Amasa’s suspicion.  (See a similar ruse in Judges 3:16.)  This is why the writer gives the detail that Joab grasps Amasa’s beard with his right hand, the hand he would normally stab with.


v. 10:  Joab seems completely in the wrong here.  I cannot see how this is acting on David’s behalf (as I can when he kills Absalom).  There are several analogies between this event and the murder of Abner (3:24), but even in the case of Abner, Joab seems to be acting on a reasonable fear for David’s safety; it just happens that that fear coincides with a convenient personal grudge against Abner.  Here, however, Joab wants to kill Amasa simply because he is a personal rival.  I do not believe the writer has given the slightest hint that Amasa was in the wrong.

I wonder if the statement that Amasa died without being struck again is a comment on Joab’s cruelty.  One might interpret the writer’s statement to mean that Amasa died instantly, but verse 12 implies that he lived for some time after the blow.  If so, the statement that Amasa died after being struck only once could be a condemnation of Joab for not having the mercy at least to kill Amasa quickly (as he surely had the skill to do).


v. 16:  It is interesting to me that the city of Abel is compared to “a mother in Israel” and that a “wise woman” is the spokesperson for the city, as if she were a manifestation of the city itself.


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