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2 Samuel 14:1-20

Context
David Permits Absalom to Return to Jerusalem

14:1 Now Joab son of Zeruiah realized that the king longed to see 1  Absalom. 14:2 So Joab sent to Tekoa and brought from there a wise woman. He told her, “Pretend to be in mourning 2  and put on garments for mourning. Don’t anoint yourself with oil. Instead, act like a woman who has been mourning for the dead for some time. 3  14:3 Go to the king and speak to him in the following fashion.” Then Joab told her what to say. 4 

14:4 So the Tekoan woman went 5  to the king. She bowed down with her face to the ground in deference to him and said, “Please help me, 6  O king!” 14:5 The king replied to her, “What do you want?” 7  She answered, “I am a widow; my husband is dead. 14:6 Your servant 8  has two sons. When the two of them got into a fight in the field, there was no one present who could intervene. One of them struck the other and killed him. 14:7 Now the entire family has risen up against your servant, saying, ‘Turn over the one who struck down his brother, so that we can execute him and avenge the death 9  of his brother whom he killed. In so doing we will also destroy the heir.’ They want to extinguish my remaining coal, 10  leaving no one on the face of the earth to carry on the name of my husband.”

14:8 Then the king told the woman, “Go to your home. I will give instructions concerning your situation.” 11  14:9 The Tekoan woman said to the king, “My lord the king, let any blame fall on me and on the house of my father. But let the king and his throne be innocent!”

14:10 The king said, “Bring to me whoever speaks to you, and he won’t bother you again!” 14:11 She replied, “In that case, 12  let the king invoke the name of 13  the Lord your God so that the avenger of blood may not kill! Then they will not destroy my son!” He replied, “As surely as the Lord lives, not a single hair of your son’s head 14  will fall to the ground.”

14:12 Then the woman said, “Please permit your servant to speak to my lord the king about another matter.” He replied, “Tell me.” 14:13 The woman said, “Why have you devised something like this against God’s people? When the king speaks in this fashion, he makes himself guilty, for the king has not brought back the one he has banished. 14:14 Certainly we must die, and are like water spilled on the ground that cannot be gathered up again. But God does not take away life; instead he devises ways for the banished to be restored. 15  14:15 I have now come to speak with my lord the king about this matter, because the people have made me fearful. 16  But your servant said, ‘I will speak to the king! Perhaps the king will do what his female servant 17  asks. 14:16 Yes! 18  The king may 19  listen and deliver his female servant 20  from the hand of the man who seeks to remove 21  both me and my son from the inheritance God has given us!’ 22  14:17 So your servant said, ‘May the word of my lord the king be my security, for my lord the king is like the angel of God when it comes to deciding between right and wrong! May the Lord your God be with you!’”

14:18 Then the king replied to the woman, “Don’t hide any information from me when I question you.” The woman said, “Let my lord the king speak!” 14:19 The king said, “Did Joab put you up to all of this?” 23  The woman answered, “As surely as you live, my lord the king, there is no deviation to the right or to the left from all that my lord the king has said. For your servant Joab gave me instructions. He has put all these words in your servant’s mouth. 14:20 Your servant Joab did this so as to change this situation. But my lord has wisdom like that of the angel of God, and knows everything that is happening in the land.” 24 

1 tn Heb “the heart of the king was upon.” The Syriac Peshitta adds the verb ’ethrei (“was reconciled”).

2 tn The Hebrew Hitpael verbal form here indicates pretended rather than genuine action.

3 tn Heb “these many days.”

4 tn Heb “put the words in her mouth” (so NASB, NIV).

5 tc The translation follows many medieval Hebrew mss in reading וַתַּבֹא (vattavo’, “and she went”) rather than the MT וַתֹּאמֶר (vattomer, “and she said”). The MT reading shows confusion with וַתֹּאמֶר later in the verse. The emendation suggested here is supported by the LXX, the Syriac Peshitta, some mss of the Targum, and Vulgate.

6 tn The word “me” is left to be inferred in the Hebrew text; it is present in the Syriac Peshitta and Vulgate.

7 tn Heb “What to you?”

8 tn Here and elsewhere (vv. 7, 12, 15a, 17, 19) the woman uses a term which suggests a lower level female servant. She uses the term to express her humility before the king. However, she uses a different term in vv. 15b-16. See the note at v. 15 for a discussion of the rhetorical purpose of this switch in terminology.

9 tn Heb “in exchange for the life.” The Hebrew preposition בְּ (bÿ, “in”) here is the so-called bet pretii, or bet (בְּ) of price, defining the value attached to someone or something.

10 sn My remaining coal is here metaphorical language, describing the one remaining son as her only source of lingering hope for continuing the family line.

11 tn Heb “concerning you.”

12 tn The words “in that case” are not in the Hebrew text, but may be inferred from the context. They are supplied in the translation for the sake of clarification.

13 tn Heb “let the king remember.”

14 tn Heb “of your son.”

15 tn Heb “he devises plans for the one banished from him not to be banished.”

16 tc The LXX (ὄψεταί με, opsetai me) has misunderstood the Hebrew יֵרְאֻנִי (yerÿuni, Piel perfect, “they have made me fearful”), taking the verb to be a form of the verb רָאָה (raah, “to see”) rather than the verb יָרֵא (yare’, “to fear”). The fact that the Greek translators were working with an unvocalized Hebrew text (i.e., consonants only) made them very susceptible to this type of error.

17 tn Here and in v. 16 the woman refers to herself as the king’s אָמָה (’amah), a term that refers to a higher level female servant toward whom the master might have some obligation. Like the other term, this word expresses her humility, but it also suggests that the king might have some obligation to treat her in accordance with the principles of justice.

18 tn Or “for.”

19 tn Or “will.” The imperfect verbal form can have either an indicative or modal nuance. The use of “perhaps” in v. 15b suggests the latter here.

20 tn Heb “in order to deliver his maid.”

21 tn Heb “destroy.”

22 tn Heb “from the inheritance of God.” The expression refers to the property that was granted to her family line in the division of the land authorized by God.

23 tn Heb “Is the hand of Joab with you in all this?”

24 tn Heb “to know all that is in the land.”



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