20:8 When they were near the big rock that is in Gibeon, Amasa came to them. Now Joab was dressed in military attire and had a dagger in its sheath belted to his waist. When he advanced, it fell out. 1
20:9 Joab said to Amasa, “How are you, my brother?” With his right hand Joab took hold of Amasa’s beard as if to greet him with a kiss. 20:10 Amasa did not protect himself from the knife in Joab’s other hand, and Joab 2 stabbed him in the abdomen, causing Amasa’s 3 intestines to spill out on the ground. There was no need to stab him again; the first blow was fatal. 4 Then Joab and his brother Abishai pursued Sheba son of Bicri.
1 sn The significance of the statement it fell out here is unclear. If the dagger fell out of its sheath before Joab got to Amasa, how then did he kill him? Josephus, Ant. 7.11.7 (7.284), suggested that as Joab approached Amasa he deliberately caused the dagger to fall to the ground at an opportune moment as though by accident. When he bent over and picked it up, he then stabbed Amasa with it. Others have tried to make a case for thinking that two swords are referred to – the one that fell out and another that Joab kept concealed until the last moment. But nothing in the text clearly supports this view. Perhaps Josephus’ understanding is best, but it is by no means obvious in the text either.
2 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Joab) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
3 tn Heb “his”; the referent (Amasa) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
4 tn Heb “and he did not repeat concerning him, and he died.”