20:14 Sheba 1 traveled through all the tribes of Israel to Abel of 2 Beth Maacah and all the Berite region. When they had assembled, 3 they too joined him. 20:15 So Joab’s men 4 came and laid siege against him in Abel of Beth Maacah. They prepared a siege ramp outside the city which stood against its outer rampart. As all of Joab’s soldiers were trying to break through 5 the wall so that it would collapse, 20:16 a wise woman called out from the city, “Listen up! Listen up! Tell Joab, ‘Come near so that I may speak to you.’”
20:17 When he approached her, the woman asked, “Are you Joab?” He replied, “I am.” She said to him, “Listen to the words of your servant.” He said, “Go ahead. I’m listening.” 20:18 She said, “In the past they would always say, ‘Let them inquire in Abel,’ and that is how they settled things. 20:19 I represent the peaceful and the faithful in Israel. You are attempting to destroy an important city 6 in Israel. Why should you swallow up the Lord’s inheritance?”
20:20 Joab answered, “Get serious! 7 I don’t want to swallow up or destroy anything! 20:21 That’s not the way things are. There is a man from the hill country of Ephraim named Sheba son of Bicri. He has rebelled 8 against King David. Give me just this one man, and I will leave the city.” The woman said to Joab, “This very minute 9 his head will be thrown over the wall to you!”
20:22 Then the woman went to all the people with her wise advice and they cut off Sheba’s head and threw it out to Joab. Joab 10 blew the trumpet, and his men 11 dispersed from the city, each going to his own home. 12 Joab returned to the king in Jerusalem.
1 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Sheba) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
3 tc The translation follows the Qere, many medieval Hebrew
4 tn Heb “they.” The following context makes it clear that this refers to Joab and his army.
5 tc The LXX has here ἐνοοῦσαν (enoousan, “were devising”), which apparently presupposes the Hebrew word מַחֲשָׁבִים (makhashavim) rather than the MT מַשְׁחִיתִם (mashkhitim, “were destroying”). With a number of other scholars Driver thinks that the Greek variant may preserve the original reading, but this seems to be an unnecessary conclusion (but see S. R. Driver, Notes on the Hebrew Text and the Topography of the Books of Samuel, 346).
6 tn Heb “a city and a mother.” The expression is a hendiadys, meaning that this city was an important one in Israel and had smaller cities dependent on it.
7 tn Heb “Far be it, far be it from me.” The expression is clearly emphatic, as may be seen in part by the repetition. P. K. McCarter, however, understands it to be coarser than the translation adopted here. He renders it as “I’ll be damned if…” (II Samuel [AB], 426, 429), which (while it is not a literal translation) may not be too far removed from the way a soldier might have expressed himself.
8 tn Heb “lifted his hand.”
9 tn Heb “Look!”
10 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Joab) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
11 tn Heb “they”; the referent (Joab’s men) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
12 tn Heb “his tents.”