And he went through all the tribes of Israel
That is, Sheba the son of Bichri, last mentioned, ( 2 Samuel 20:13 ) , who passed through all the tribes of Israel to get as many to be of his party as he could, and to be proclaimed their king; or finding himself pursued, he passed on as fast as he could from place to place, through all the tribes, until at length he fixed for safety in a place later named; though Josephus F23 understands this of Joab pursuing Sheba through all the tribes of Israel with the forces under him; and to this sense the Syriac and Arabic versions, and so R. Isaiah interprets it; but the first sense is more generally received, that Sheba is meant, who passing through various tribes, came
unto Abel, and unto Bethmaachah;
which were two places very near one another, if not one and the same place; since Abel is in ( 2 Samuel 20:15 ) called Abel of Bethmaachah, to distinguish it from any other place: it was a city that lay to the north of Israel near Syria; and from ( 2 Kings 15:29 ) , it appears to be in the tribe of Naphtali. There was one city of this name of Abel, six miles from Philadelphia, another twelve miles from Gadara, and a third between Paneas and Damascus, which, of the three, Reland thinks F24, is most eligible to be the place here meant; though he rather chooses to look for it in Galilee, to the west or south of Paneas, than to the east or north in the way to Damascus; and so Adrichomius F25 calls it a city of upper Galilee, sixty furlongs or seven and an half miles from Jordan; and though he also places it in the tribe of Naphtali, in the plain of the country of Berim (from whence perhaps were the Berites next mentioned), not far from Caesarea Philippi; see ( 1 Kings 15:20 ) ;
and all the Berites;
the inhabitants of Beeroth, in the tribe of Benjamin, of which tribe Sheba was, they followed him hither, as in the next clause:
and they were gathered together, and went also after him;
unto Abel; of these, see ( Joshua 18:25 ) ( 2 Samuel 4:2 2 Samuel 4:3 ) ; though perhaps these Berim or Berites were nearer to Abel; or rather that was in their country, as has been observed by Adrichomius.
F23 Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 7. c. 11. sect. 7.)
F24 Palestina Illustrata, tom. 2. p. 519.
F25 Theatrum Terrae S. p. 101.