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2 Samuel 3:6-21

Abner Defects to David’s Camp

3:6 As the war continued between the house of Saul and the house of David, Abner was becoming more influential 1  in the house of Saul. 3:7 Now Saul had a concubine named Rizpah daughter of Aiah. Ish-bosheth 2  said to Abner, “Why did you have sexual relations with 3  my father’s concubine?” 4 

3:8 These words of Ish-bosheth really angered Abner and he said, “Am I the head of a dog that belongs to Judah? This very day I am demonstrating 5  loyalty to the house of Saul your father and to his relatives 6  and his friends! I have not betrayed you into the hand of David. Yet you have accused me of sinning with this woman today! 7  3:9 God will severely judge Abner 8  if I do not do for David exactly what the Lord has promised him, 9  3:10 namely, to transfer the kingdom from the house of Saul and to establish the throne of David over Israel and over Judah all the way from Dan to Beer Sheba!” 3:11 Ish-bosheth 10  was unable to answer Abner with even a single word because he was afraid of him.

3:12 Then Abner sent messengers 11  to David saying, “To whom does the land belong? Make an agreement 12  with me, and I will do whatever I can 13  to cause all Israel to turn to you.” 3:13 So David said, “Good! I will make an agreement with you. I ask only one thing from you. You will not see my face unless you bring Saul’s daughter Michal when you come to visit me.” 14 

3:14 David sent messengers to Ish-bosheth son of Saul with this demand: 15  “Give me my wife Michal whom I acquired 16  for a hundred Philistine foreskins.” 3:15 So Ish-bosheth took her 17  from her husband Paltiel 18  son of Laish. 3:16 Her husband went along behind her, weeping all the way to Bahurim. Finally Abner said to him, “Go back!” 19  So he returned home.

3:17 Abner advised 20  the elders of Israel, “Previously you were wanting David to be your king. 21  3:18 Act now! For the Lord has said to David, ‘By the hand of my servant David I will save 22  my people Israel from 23  the Philistines and from all their enemies.’”

3:19 Then Abner spoke privately 24  with the Benjaminites. Abner also went to Hebron to inform David privately 25  of all that Israel and the entire house of Benjamin had agreed to. 26  3:20 When Abner, accompanied by twenty men, came to David in Hebron, David prepared a banquet for Abner and the men who were with him. 3:21 Abner said to David, “Let me leave so that I may go and gather all Israel to my lord the king so that they may make an agreement 27  with you. Then you will rule over all that you desire.” So David sent Abner away, and he left in peace.

1 tn Heb “was strengthening himself.” The statement may have a negative sense here, perhaps suggesting that Abner was overstepping the bounds of political propriety in a self-serving way.

2 tc The Hebrew of the MT reads simply “and he said,” with no expressed subject for the verb. It is not likely that the text originally had no expressed subject for this verb, since the antecedent is not immediately clear from the context. We should probably restore to the Hebrew text the name “Ish-bosheth.” See a few medieval Hebrew mss, Aquila, Symmachus, Theodotion, and Vulgate. Perhaps the name was accidentally omitted by homoioarcton. Note that both the name Ishbosheth and the following preposition אֶל (’el) begin with the letter alef.

3 tn Heb “come to”; KJV, NRSV “gone in to”; NAB “been intimate with”; NIV “sleep with.”

4 sn This accusation against Abner is a very serious one, since an act of sexual infringement on the king’s harem would probably have been understood as a blatant declaration of aspirations to kingship. As such it was not merely a matter of ethical impropriety but an act of grave political significance as well.

5 tn Heb “I do.”

6 tn Heb “brothers.”

7 tn Heb “and you have laid upon me the guilt of the woman today.”

8 tn Heb “So will God do to Abner and so he will add to him.”

9 tc Heb “has sworn to David.” The LXX, with the exception of the recension of Origen, adds “in this day.”

10 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Ish-bosheth) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

11 tn The Hebrew text adds here, “on his behalf.”

12 tn Heb “cut a covenant.” So also in vv. 13, 21.

13 tn Heb “and behold, my hand is with you.”

14 tn The words “when you come to see my face,” though found in the Hebrew text, are somewhat redundant given the similar expression in the earlier part of the verse. The words are absent from the Syriac Peshitta.

15 tn Heb “to Ish-bosheth son of Saul saying.” To avoid excessive sibilance (especially when read aloud) the translation renders “saying” as “with this demand.”

16 tn Heb “whom I betrothed to myself.”

17 tn Heb “sent and took her.”

18 tn In 1 Sam 25:44 this name appears as “Palti.”

19 tn Heb “Go, return.”

20 tn Heb “the word of Abner was with.”

21 tn Heb “you were seeking David to be king over you.”

22 tc The present translation follows the LXX, the Syriac Peshitta, and Vulgate in reading “I will save,” rather than the MT “he saved.” The context calls for the 1st person common singular imperfect of the verb rather than the 3rd person masculine singular perfect.

23 tn Heb “from the hand of.”

24 tn Heb “into the ears of.”

25 tn Heb “also Abner went to speak into the ears of David in Hebron.”

26 tn Heb “all which was good in the eyes of Israel and in the eyes of all the house of Benjamin.”

27 tn After the cohortatives, the prefixed verbal form with the prefixed conjunction indicates purpose or result.

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