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HEBREW: 3097 bawy Yow'ab
NAVE: Joab
EBD: Joab
Jiphthah-el | Jiphthahel | Jirjathaim | Joaa | Joaada | Joab | Joachaz | Joacim | Joadanus | Joah | Joakim


In Bible versions:

Joab's: NRSV
son of Zeruiah, David's sister; commander of King David's army
son of Seraiah son of Kenaz of Judah; grand nephew of Caleb of Moses' time
a man whose descendants returned from exile in Babylon
ancestor of a family group who returned from exile headed by Obadiah the son of Jehiel

paternity; voluntary
Arts Topics: Conflict between Abner and Joab; Portraits of Joab; Removing Abiathar, Killing Joab


Strongs #03097: bawy Yow'ab

Joab = "Jehovah is father"

1) son of David's sister Zeruiah and general of David's army
2) a Judaite descendant of Kenaz
3) a post exilic family

3097 Yow'ab yo-awb'

from 3068 and 1; Jehovah-fathered; Joab, the name of three
see HEBREW for 03068
see HEBREW for 01

Joab [EBD]

Jehovah is his father. (1.) One of the three sons of Zeruiah, David's sister, and "captain of the host" during the whole of David's reign (2 Sam. 2:13; 10:7; 11:1; 1 Kings 11:15). His father's name is nowhere mentioned, although his sepulchre at Bethlehem is mentioned (2 Sam. 2:32). His two brothers were Abishai and Asahel, the swift of foot, who was killed by Abner (2 Sam. 2:13-32), whom Joab afterwards treacherously murdered (3:22-27). He afterwards led the assault at the storming of the fortress on Mount Zion, and for this service was raised to the rank of "prince of the king's army" (2 Sam. 5:6-10; 1 Chr. 27:34). His chief military achievements were, (1) against the allied forces of Syria and Ammon; (2) against Edom (1 Kings 11:15, 16); and (3) against the Ammonites (2 Sam. 10:7-19; 11:1, 11). His character is deeply stained by the part he willingly took in the murder of Uriah (11:14-25). He acted apparently from a sense of duty in putting Absalom to death (18:1-14). David was unmindful of the many services Joab had rendered to him, and afterwards gave the command of the army to Amasa, Joab's cousin (2 Sam. 20:1-13; 19:13). When David was dying Joab espoused the cause of Adonijah in preference to that of Solomon. He was afterwards slain by Benaiah, by the command of Solomon, in accordance with his father's injunction (2 Sam. 3:29; 20:5-13), at the altar to which he had fled for refuge. Thus this hoary conspirator died without one to lift up a voice in his favour. He was buried in his own property in the "wilderness," probably in the north-east of Jerusalem (1 Kings 2:5, 28-34). Benaiah succeeded him as commander-in-chief of the army.

(2.) 1 Chr. 4:14.

(3.) Ezra 2:6.

Joab [NAVE]

1. Son of David's sister, 1 Chr. 2:16.
Commander of David's army, 2 Sam. 8:16; 20:23; 1 Chr. 11:6; 18:15; 27:34.
Dedicated spoils of his battles, 1 Chr. 26:28.
Defeated the Jebusites, 1 Chr. 11:6.
Defeats and slays Abner, 2 Sam. 2:13-32; 3:27; 1 Kin. 2:5.
Destroys all the males in Edom, 1 Kin. 11:16.
Defeats the Ammonites, 2 Sam. 10:7-14; 1 Chr. 19:6-15.
Captures Rabbah, 2 Sam. 11:1, 15-25; 12:26-29; 1 Chr. 20:1, 2.
Procures the return of Absalom to Jerusalem, 2 Sam. 14:1-24.
Barley field of, burned by Absalom, 2 Sam. 14:29-33.
Pursues and kills Absalom, 2 Sam. 18.
Censures David for lamenting the death of Absalom, 2 Sam. 19:1-8.
Replaced by Amasa as commander of David's army, 2 Sam. 17:25; 19:13.
Kills Amasa, 2 Sam. 20:8-13; 1 Kin. 2:5.
Causes Sheba to be put to death, 2 Sam. 20:16-22.
Opposes the numbering of the people, 2 Sam. 24:3; 1 Chr. 21:3.
Numbers the people, 2 Sam. 24:4-9; 1 Chr. 21:4, 5; 27:23, 24.
Supports Adonijah as successor to David, 1 Kin. 1:7; 2:28.
Slain by Benaiah, under Solomon's order, 1 Kin. 2:29-34.
2. A grandson of Kenaz, 1 Chr. 4:14.
3. An Israelite (or the name of two Israelites) whose descendants returned from Babylon to Jerusalem, Ezra 2:6; 8:9; Neh. 7:11.
4. "House of Joab,'' 1 Chr. 2:54.
Probably identical with 1.


(whose father is Jehovah), the most remarkable of the three nephews of David, the children of Zeruiah, David?s sister. (B.C. 1053-1012.) Joab first appears after David?s accession to the throne at Hebron. Abner slew in battle Asahel, the youngest brother of Joab; and when David afterward received Abner into favor, Joab treacherously murdered him. [ABNER] There was now no rival left in the way of Joab?s advancement, and at the siege of Jebus he was appointed for his prowess commander-in-chief --"captain of the host." In the wide range of wars which David undertook, Joab was the acting general. He was called by the almost regal title of "lord," (2 Samuel 11:11) "the prince of the king?s army." (1 Chronicles 27:34) In the entangled relations which grew up in David?s domestic life he bore an important part, successfully reinstating Absalom in David?s favor after the murder of Amnon. (2 Samuel 14:1-20) When the relations between father and son were reversed by the revolt of Absalom, Joab remained true to the king, taking the rebel prince?s dangerous life in spite of David?s injunction to spare him, and when no one else had courage to act so decisive a part. (2 Samuel 18:2,11-15) (B.C. 1023). The king transferred the command to Amasa, which so enraged Joab that he adroitly assassinated Amasa when pretending to welcome him as a friend. (2 Samuel 20:10) Friendly relations between himself and David seem to have existed afterward, (2 Samuel 24:2) but at the close of his long life, his loyalty, so long unshaken, at last wavered. "Though he had not turned after Absalom, he turned after Adonijah." (1 Kings 2:28) This probably filled up the measure of the king?s long-cherished resentment. The revival of the pretensions of Adonijah after David?s death was sufficient to awaken the suspicions of Solomon. Joab fled to the shelter of the altar at Gibeon, and was here slain by Benaiah. (B.C. about 1012.)
  1. One of Kenaz?s descendants. (1 Chronicles 4:14)
  2. (Ezra 2:6; 8:9; Nehemiah 7:11)


JOAB - jo'-ab (yo'-abh, "Yahweh is father"; Ioab):

(1) Son of Zeruiah, David's sister. He was "captain of the host" (compare 2 Sam 19:13) under David.

1. Joab and Abner:

(a) Joab is first introduced in the narrative of the war with Abner, who supported the claims of Ishbosheth to the throne against those of David (2 Sam 2:8 through 3:1). The two armies met, and on Abner's suggestion a tournament took place between 12 men from each side; a general engagement follows, and in this Joab's army is victorious. Asahel, Joab's brother, is killed in his pursuit of Abner, but the latter's army is sorely pressed, and he appeals to Joab for a cessation of hostilities. Joab calls a halt, but declares that he would not cease had Abner not made his plea.

(b) 2 Sam 3:12-29. Abner visits David at Hebron, and makes an alliance with David. He then leaves the town, apparently under royal protection. Joab is absent at the time, but returns immediately after Abner's departure, and expostulates with David for not avenging Asahel's death, and at the same time attributes a bad motive to Abner's visit. He sends a message, no doubt in the form of a royal command, for Abner to return; the chief does so, is taken aside "into the midst of the gate" (or as Septuagint and commentators read, "into the side of the gate," 2 Sam 3:27), and slain there by Joab. David proclaims his own innocence in the matter, commands Joab as well as the people to mourn publicly for the dead hero (2 Sam 3:31), composes a lament for Abner, and pronounces a curse upon Joab and his descendants (2 Sam 3:30 is regarded as an editorial note, and commentators change 3:39).

2. The Ammonite War: Death of Uriah:

(a) 2 Sam 10:1-14; 1 Ch 19:1-15. David sends ambassadors with his good wishes to Hanun on his ascending the throne of the Ammonites; these are ill-treated, and war follows, David's troops being commanded by Joab. On finding himself placed between the Ammonites on the one hand, and their Syrian allies on the other, he divides his army, and himself leads one division against the Syrians, leaving Abishai, his brother, to fight the Ammonites; the defeat of the Syrians is followed by the rout of the ammonites.

(b) 2 Sam 10:15-19; 1 Ch 19:16-19 describes a second war between Hadarezer and David. Joab is not mentioned here.

(c) 2 Sam 11:1 narrates the resumption of the war against the Ammonites; Joab is in command, and the town of Rabbah is besieged. Here occurs the account of David's sin with Bathsheba, omitted by Chronicles. David gets Joab to send Uriah, her husband, to Jerusalem, and when he refuses to break the soldier's vow (11:6-13), Joab is used to procure Uriah's death in the siege, and the general then sends news of it to David (11:14-27). After capturing the `water-city' of Rabbah, Joab sends for David to complete the capture and lead the triumph himself (12:26-29).

3. Joab and Absalom:

(a) The next scene depicts Joab attempting and succeeding in his attempt to get Absalom restored to royal favor. He has noticed that "the king's heart is toward Absalom" (2 Sam 14:1), and so arranges for "a wise woman" of Tekoa to bring a supposed complaint of her own before the king, and then rebuke him for his treatment of Absalom. The plan succeeds. David sees Joab's hand in it, and gives him permission to bring Absalom to Jerusalem. But the rebel has to remain in his own house, and is not allowed to see his father (2 Sam 14:1-24).

(b) Absalom attempts to secure Joab's intercession for a complete restoration to his father's confidence. Joab turns a deaf ear to the request until his field is put on fire by Absalom's command. He then sees Absalom, and gets David to receive his prodigal son back into the royal home (2 Sam 14:28-33).

(c) Absalom revolts, and makes Amasa, another nephew of David, general instead of Joab (2 Sam 17:24 f). David flees to Mahanaim, followed by Absalom. Joab is given a third of the army, the other divisions being led by Abishai and Ittai. He is informed that Absalom has been caught in a tree (or thicket), and expostulates with the informer for not having killed him. Although he is reminded of David's tender plea that Absalom be kindly dealt with, he dispatches the rebel himself, and afterward calls for a general halt of the army. When David gives vent to his feelings of grief, he is sternly rebuked by Joab, and the rebuke has its effect (2 Sam 17 through 19:8a).

4. Joab and Amasa:

2 Sam 19:8b-15. On David's return to Jerusalem, Amasa is made "captain of the host" instead of Joab (19:13). Then Sheba revolts, Amasa loses time in making preparation for quelling it, and Abishai is bidden by David to take the field (20:6). The Syriac version reads "Joab" for "Abishai" in this verse, and some commentators follow it, but Septuagint supports Massoretic Text. Joab seems to have accompanied Abishai; and when Amasa meets them at Gibeon, Joab, on pretense of kissing his rival, kills him. He then assumes command, is followed by Amasa's men, and arranges with a woman of Abel beth-maacah to deliver to him Sheba's head. The revolt is then at an end.

5. Joab's Death:

Joab subsequently opposed David's suggestion of a census, but eventually carried it out (2 Sam 24:1-9; 1 Ch 21:1-6), yet 1 Ch 21:6 and 27:24 relate that he did not carry it out fully. He was one of Adonijah's supporters in his claim to the throne (1 Ki 1:7,19,41). For this he had to pay the penalty with his life, being slain at the altar in the "Tent of Yahweh" (1 Ki 2:28-34) by Benaiah, who acted upon Solomon's orders. His murderer became his successor as head of the army. 1 Ki 2:5 makes David advise Solomon not to forget that Joab slew Abner and Amasa, and 1 Ki 11:14-22 contains a reference to the dread of his name in Edom. 1 Ch 11:6 makes him win his spurs first at the capture of Jerusalem, but 2 Sam 2; 3 are previous in time to this event (compare 2 Sam 5:6-10), and 1 Ch 11:8 makes him repair the city, while 1 Ch 26:28 refers to a dedication of armor by him.

6. Joab's Character:

In summing up Joab's character, we must remember the stirring times in which he lived. That he was a most able general, there is no doubt. He was, however, very jealous of his position, and this accounts for Amasa's murder, if not partially for that of Abner too: if he was afraid that Abner would supplant him, that fear may be held to be justified, for Amasa, who had not been too loyal to David did take Joab's place for a time. But blood revenge for Asahel's death was perhaps the chief cause. Yet even when judged in the light of those rough times, and in the light of eastern life, the murder of Abner was a foul, treacherous deed (see Trumbull, Studies in Oriental Social Life, 129-31).

Joab opposed the census probably because it was an innovation. His rebuke of David's great grief over Absalom's death can only be characterized as just; he is the stern warrior who, after being once merciful and forgiving, will not again spare a deceitful rebel; and yet David shows how a father's conduct toward a prodigal, rebellious son is not regulated by stern justice. Joab's unswerving loyalty to David leads one to believe that no disloyalty was meant by his support of Adonijah, who was really the rightful heir to the throne. But their plans were defeated by those of the harem, and Joab had to pay the price with his life.

Taken as a whole, his life, as depicted in the very reliable narrative of 2 Sam and 1 Ki, may be said to be as characteristic of the times as that of David himself, with a truly Homeric ring about it. He was a great man, great in military prowess and also in personal revenge, in his loyalty to the king as well as in his stern rebuke of his royal master. He was the greatest of David's generals, and the latter's success and glory owed much to this noblest of that noble trio whom Zeruiah bore.

(2) A Judahite, father or founder of Ge-harashim (1 Ch 4:14, "valley of craftsmen" the Revised Version margin).


(3) A family of returned exiles (Ezr 2:6 parallel Neh 7:11; Ezr 8:9; 1 Esdras 8:35).


David Francis Roberts

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