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2 Samuel 3:22-39

Context
Abner Is Killed

3:22 Now David’s soldiers 1  and Joab were coming back from a raid, bringing a great deal of plunder with them. Abner was no longer with David in Hebron, for David 2  had sent him away and he had left in peace. 3:23 When Joab and all the army that was with him arrived, Joab was told: “Abner the son of Ner came to the king; he sent him away, and he left in peace!”

3:24 So Joab went to the king and said, “What have you done? Abner 3  has come to you! Why would you send him away? Now he’s gone on his way! 4  3:25 You know Abner the son of Ner! Surely he came here to spy on you and to determine when you leave and when you return 5  and to discover everything that you are doing!”

3:26 Then Joab left David and sent messengers after Abner. They brought him back from the well of Sirah. (But David was not aware of it.) 3:27 When Abner returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside at the gate as if to speak privately with him. Joab then stabbed him 6  in the abdomen and killed him, avenging the shed blood of his brother Asahel. 7 

3:28 When David later heard about this, he said, “I and my kingdom are forever innocent before the Lord of the shed blood of Abner son of Ner! 3:29 May his blood whirl over 8  the head of Joab and the entire house of his father! 9  May the males of Joab’s house 10  never cease to have 11  someone with a running sore or a skin disease or one who works at the spindle 12  or one who falls by the sword or one who lacks food!”

3:30 So Joab and his brother Abishai killed Abner, because he had killed their brother Asahel in Gibeon during the battle.

3:31 David instructed Joab and all the people who were with him, “Tear your clothes! Put on sackcloth! Lament before Abner!” Now King David followed 13  behind the funeral bier. 3:32 So they buried Abner in Hebron. The king cried loudly 14  over Abner’s grave and all the people wept too. 3:33 The king chanted the following lament for Abner:

“Should Abner have died like a fool?

3:34 Your hands 15  were not bound,

and your feet were not put into irons.

You fell the way one falls before criminals.”

All the people 16  wept over him again. 3:35 Then all the people came and encouraged David to eat food while it was still day. But David took an oath saying, “God will punish me severely 17  if I taste bread or anything whatsoever before the sun sets!”

3:36 All the people noticed this and it pleased them. 18  In fact, everything the king did pleased all the people. 3:37 All the people and all Israel realized on that day that the killing of Abner son of Ner was not done at the king’s instigation. 19 

3:38 Then the king said to his servants, “Do you not realize that a great leader 20  has fallen this day in Israel? 3:39 Today I am weak, even though I am anointed as king. These men, the sons of Zeruiah, are too much for me to bear! 21  May the Lord punish appropriately the one who has done this evil thing!” 22 

1 tn Heb “And look, the servants of David.”

2 tn Heb “he”; the referent (David) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

3 tn Heb “Look, Abner.”

4 tc The LXX adds “in peace.”

5 tn Heb “your going out and your coming in.” The expression is a merism. It specifically mentions the polar extremities of the actions but includes all activity in between the extremities as well, thus encompassing the entirety of one’s activities.

6 tn Heb “and he struck him down there [in] the stomach.”

7 tn Heb “and he [i.e., Abner] died on account of the blood of Asahel his [i.e., Joab’s] brother.”

8 tn Heb “and may they whirl over.” In the Hebrew text the subject of the plural verb is unexpressed. The most likely subject is Abner’s “shed blood” (v. 28), which is a masculine plural form in Hebrew. The verb חוּל (khul, “whirl”) is used with the preposition עַל (’al) only here and in Jer 23:19; 30:23.

9 tc 4QSama has “of Joab” rather than “of his father” read by the MT.

10 tn Heb “the house of Joab.” However, it is necessary to specify that David’s curse is aimed at Joab’s male descendants; otherwise it would not be clear that “one who works at the spindle” refers to a man doing woman’s work rather than a woman.

11 tn Heb “and may there not be cut off from the house of Joab.”

12 tn The expression used here is difficult. The translation “one who works at the spindle” follows a suggestion of S. R. Driver that the expression pejoratively describes an effeminate man who, rather than being a mighty warrior, is occupied with tasks that are normally fulfilled by women (S. R. Driver, Notes on the Hebrew Text and the Topography of the Books of Samuel, 250-51; cf. NAB “one unmanly”; TEV “fit only to do a woman’s work”; CEV “cowards”). But P. K. McCarter, following an alleged Phoenician usage of the noun to refer to “crutches,” adopts a different view. He translates the phrase “clings to a crutch,” seeing here a further description of physical lameness (II Samuel [AB], 118). Such an idea fits the present context well and is followed by NIV, NCV, and NLT, although the evidence for this meaning is questionable. According to DNWSI 2:915-16, the noun consistently refers to a spindle in Phoenician, as it does in Ugaritic (see UT 468).

13 tn Heb “was walking.”

14 tn Heb “lifted up his voice and wept.” The expression is a verbal hendiadys.

15 tc The translation follows many medieval Hebrew manuscripts and several ancient versions in reading “your hands,” rather than “your hand.”

16 tc 4QSama lacks the words “all the people.”

17 tn Heb “Thus God will do to me and thus he will add.”

18 tn Heb “it was good in their eyes.”

19 tn Heb “from the king.”

20 tn Heb “a leader and a great one.” The expression is a hendiadys.

21 tn Heb “are hard from me.”

22 tn Heb “May the Lord repay the doer of the evil according to his evil” (NASB similar).



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