2 Samuel 2 Study Notes

2:1 David inquired of the Lord as he often did to determine God’s will for his life (1Sm 23:2,9-12; 30:7-8). Hebron was Judah’s natural capital, located about nineteen miles south of Jerusalem and high in the hill country.

2:2 Ahinoam and Abigail remained with David, though Saul had given Michal, David’s first wife, to another man (1Sm 25:44).

2:3 The men who were with David had come from many places (1Sm 22:2), but most were probably from Judah. Settling them in the towns near Hebron meant David would have many loyal citizens nearby.

2:4 The men of Judah recognized God’s hand on David and anointed him king over the house of Judah—over his own tribe only. At this time, David heard how the men of Jabesh-gilead had buried Saul. David had been anointed once before, when he had been chosen by the Lord (1Sm 16:12-13; cp. 2Sm 5:3).

2:5-6 David informed the citizens of Jabesh-gilead that they had done well with their special kindness to Saul. David wanted them to know he did not count their loyalty to Saul as disloyalty to him.

2:7 David probably wanted to be sure people outside Judah heard he was now king over his own tribe. Perhaps they would then conclude the next logical step was to anoint him king over all Israel.

2:8 Abner, Saul’s relative and general, had survived the battle at Gilboa. Saul’s son Ish-bosheth was probably the oldest surviving son (1Sm 31:2). The exact location of Mahanaim is uncertain, but Jos 21:38 designates it as a Levitical city east of the Jordan River (Gn 32:2).

2:9 Gilead designated the north-central region of Transjordan. The territory of Asher lay along Israel’s northwestern Mediterranean coastline. Jezreel probably denotes the valley rather than the city. Ephraim and Benjamin were centrally located with Ephraim above Benjamin; Benjamin was Saul’s tribe (1Sm 9:1). All Israel means everything but Judah in light of v. 4.

2:10 Ish-bosheth’s reign of two years provides a hint about the length of the period of transition between Saul’s death and David’s assumption of the kingship over all Israel.

2:11 After seven years and six months, David would move his capital to Jerusalem, where he would reign for thirty-three years (5:5).

2:12 Gibeon lay in the territory of Benjamin about twenty-three miles north of Hebron.

2:13 David’s general Joab wanted to keep Ish-bosheth’s army out of Judah. The pool of Gibeon probably denotes a large reservoir near the spring outside the city.

2:14 The purpose of the deadly competition between the twenty-four representatives of the two armies is uncertain. Some have suggested a kind of representative combat as in the David and Goliath account (1Sm 17:8-10); others believe it was to give the Lord a way to show which army he favored.

2:15-16 The seemingly synchronized death of all twenty-four soldiers at once heightened tensions between the armies and foreshadowed the toll the civil war would take on the Israelite population.

2:17 The battle referred to in this verse apparently began immediately after the stalemate of the contest in vv. 14-16.

2:18 Zeruiah was David’s sister (1Ch 2:16), so Joab, Abishai, and Asahel were David’s nephews who served in his army.

2:19 Asahel chased Abner because he saw an opportunity to strike down the leader of the opposition forces. Both men appear to have been on foot.

2:20-21 Abner hoped to deter Asahel with the possibility of obtaining easy spoil from one of the young soldiers of lesser skill whom he might kill more easily.

2:22 Abner’s words, Stop chasing me, suggest that Asahel was gaining on him. Abner probably was better armed and more experienced in fighting than Asahel.

2:23 The butt of his spear may have been sharpened to stick in the ground (1Sm 26:7). Or Abner may have turned the spear around and thrust it back at Asahel.

2:24 The hill of Ammah is an unknown site east of Gibeon.

2:25 The top of a hill was more easily defended.

2:26 Abner’s questions to Joab challenged him to consider the high price of a civil war in Israel. During the days of the judges, another civil war almost resulted in Benjamin’s extermination (Jdg 20:46-21:3).

2:27-28 The blowing of a ram’s horn was a signal to gather the troops—in this case, to stop fighting (18:16; 20:22).

2:29 Abner and his men then retreated across the Jordan River and northward about thirty miles to Mahanaim (v. 8).

2:30-31 The differences in the number of casualties (nineteen of David’s soldiers . . . 360 of the Benjaminites and Abner’s men) reveal the overwhelming victory David’s forces achieved and suggest God’s favor on David.

2:32 Bethlehem lay approximately ten miles south of the battle site. From there to Hebron was another fourteen miles along the highway.

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