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or, because he suspected no treachery, not regarding it, received Joab's salute, when the perfidious wretch instantly plunged his sword into Amasa's body, killed him on the spot, left him weltering in his blood, and then haughtily and treasonably put himself at the head of the army.-This was, as Josephus observes, a very impious and execrable action, thus to murder a relation, who had never injured him, out of envy for his being created general, and having an equal share in the king's favor with himself. He had murdered Abner before on the same account: but for that he had a specious pretence, namely, that he did it to avenge the death of his brother Asahel; whereas he had not any excuse whatever for the murder of Amasa..
After Joab had executed this horrid piece of butchery on Amasa, he left one of his servants to stand by the body; and, lest the troops should be at a loss what to do when they saw their general dead, he ordered him to tell them, as they marched by, that whoever was in Joab's interest, and David's faithful friend, they should immediately follow Joab. But when the soldiers saw Amasa wallowing in his blood, they flocked around him, were shocked at the spectacle, and seemed unwilling to follow Joab in the expedition. The officer observing this removed the dead body out of the road into a neighboring field, and covered it with a cloth, upon which the people went on after Joab, who was gone before in pursuit of the rebel.
In the mean time Sheba, in order to draw together a considerable army, had marched with his adherents
from Gilgal, through all the tribes that lay in his way to Abel-Maacah, a fortified town belonging to the tribe of Naphtali, in the northern part of Judea. Not meeting with that success he had expected, he resolved not to proceed any farther, but, for the present, to secure himself in the town of which he was now possessed.
As soon as Joab understood where Sheba had shut him. self up, he immediately marched with his army to the place, whither he had no sooner arrived, than he ordered his men to throw up a fort or rampart against the wall of the city, from whence he battered it in order to beat it down. After making some progress in this business, a prudent woman of the city, getting upon the top of the walls, called to the besiegers, and begged she might be permitted to speak to their general. This being granted, Joab approached the walls within hearing, when the woman addressed him in words to this eflect: “ It has, says she, 6 been always a custom founded on the law of God, when6 ever the Israelites came before any city, to offer peace in “ the first place, even though the inhabitants were of 66 another nation; much more ought it to be done to a “people, who are all of the same blood, and the greatest
part of them loyal subjects to the king." I am one of them that are peaceable and faithful in Israel: thou seekest to destroy a city, and a mother in Israel: why wilt thou swallow up the inheritance of the Lord? Joab told her he had not any ill design against the people of the city; all he requested, was that they would deliver up the rebel Sheba, on doing which he would immediately raise the siege, and draw off his army. The woman desired him to desist for a short time, and his request should be complied with: Behold, said she, his head shall be thrown to thee over the wall. The woman then went to the principal people of the city, to whom she related the conference that had passed between her and Joab, and expostulated* with them so forcibly on the great danger they were in, that they immediately seized Sheba, cut off his head, and threw it over the wall to Joab, in the presence of the whole army.
In consequence of this Joab, agreeable to his promise, ordered a retreat to be sounded, and the soldiers dispersed, every man to his tent. Having thus put an end to the rebellion, Joab returned to the king at Jerusalem, and was continued in the post of captain-general, which he had usurped after the murder of Amasa.
This circumstance hath occasioned some very severe reflections on David's honor and justice, and he is reproached by some because Joab was continued in the command, and
* The words Josephus puts into the woman's mouth on this occasion, are to the following effeet: “ Will ye, says she, like traitors, ““ suffer your wives and children to perish for the sake of a villain “ whom none of you know? What has Sheba done for you
that can " balance the obligations you lay under to David ? Or, setting aside s all other arguments, how can you be so unreasonable as to suppose " that you are able to resist the force of so powerful an army as is “ even now before you? Be quick in your determination, for on that “ depends either your safety, or immediate destruction.”
not a single syllable of any notice taken by David of the murder of Amasa, whom he himself had appointed general; as though David had acquiesced in the murder, and confirmed Joab in the command of the army, as the reward of it. But that David did greatly resent this murder of Amasa, is evident from his last advice to Solomon, in which he nobly recommends, and gives it in charge to him, to do justice on that bloody assassin for the murders of Abner and Amasa. David was not now able himself to do it, and Joab was too powerful a subject to be brought to any account. We have seen that he had insolence enough, after Absalom's death, to threaten the king with a new revolt, if he did not do what he ordered him; and after the assassination of Amasa, he usurped, in defiance of his master's appointment, the command of all the forces. They seem to have had an affection for him as a brave and successful general; he had just now restored the quiet of the land, by entirely quelling the insurrection under Sheba, and returned to Jerusalem, without fear of the king, and in defiance of justice, as generalissimo of the army; and continued to assume this rank, not by David's order and inclination, but by his mere acquiescence in a measure that was contrary to his will, but which he was not able, at this time, to set aside.
We come now to a part of David's history and conduct, that hath been, by some, thought exceptionable, though we cannot help thinking it far otherwise, it being an illustri. ous proof of the generosity of his temper, the regard he paid to his oath to Saul, and the friendship he owed to the memory and family of Jonathan. That the reader may be the better judge of this matter it will be necessary to recapitulate some matters (which we shall do in as concise a manner as possible) that have been already amply mentioned, and which took place while Joshua was leader of the people.
The inhabitants of Gibeon, (a large royal city, which, after the division of the country, was yielded to the tribe of Benjamin) were Amorites by birth and nation; and when the Israelites under Joshua invaded the land of Canaan, the Gibeonites, hearing what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, and fearful of their own safety, fraudulently persuaded the Israelites to enter into a league with them, which was solemnly ratified by a public oath, so that they had the national faith for the security of their lives and properties; for which reason the Israelites, when they came to their cities, and were informed of the fraud, murmured against the princes for having made a league with the Gibeonites. The princes, to appease the people, said to them, “ We have sworn unto them by the Lord God of Israel, therefore we must not touch them. We will even let them live, lest wrath be upon us, because of the oath which we sware unto them.” They were accordingly spared, but condemned to servitude, and made hewers of wood, and drawers of water, for the congregation, and for the altar of the Lord, perpetually, in the place which he should choose, that is, wherever the tabernacle or ark should reside.-See Joshua ix. x. xviii.
But Saul, to ingratiate himself with the people, under the specious pretence of public spirit, and to appear warm and active for the national interest, sought to slay them, and to destroy them from remaining in any of the coasts of Israel. He actually put many of them to death, employing those of his own house or family in the execution: this he did in cold blood, in times of peace, when the Gibeonites were unarmed and destitute of assistance; and all in direct violation of the public oath and faith he had given them for their security. His crime was therefore enormous and highly aggravated, laid the nation under the guilt of perjury and murder, and subjected them to the Divine displeasure.
Though the punishment due for the blood which had been thus horridly shed was (for reasons not to be accounted for) postponed for a considerable time, yet it at length took place. Soon after the quelling of Sheba's rebellion the Israelites were afflicted with a most dreadful famine, which continued for three successive years, in the last of which David, moved by so extraordinary a calamity, enquired of the Lord the cause of it, and was answered by the Oracle, that it was for Saul, and his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites.* In consequence of this
The circumstance of Saul's death could be no reason against bringing to justice those of his bloody house, who had been the instruments of his cruelty in the destruction of the poor Gibeonites, if any of them were alive after his death, whatever might be the number of VOL. ij.
David sent for some of the principal persons who had escaped the massacre, and said to them, What shall I do for you? wherewithal shall I make the atonement, that ye may bless the inheritance of the Lord? What satisfaction do you require for the injuries that have been done you ? The Gibeonites answered, We will have no silver nor gold of Saul, nor of his house; neither for us shalt thou kill any man in Israel. David then bade them ask what they would have, and their request should be immediately granted. They replied, “ The man that consumed us, " and that devised against us, that we should be destroyed “ from remaining in any of the coasts of Israel; let seven “ men of his sons be delivered unto us, and we will hang “ them up unto the Lord in Gibeah of Saul, who was 66 chosen of the Lord.” David told them their request should be immediately complied with; upon which (sparing Mephiboshetli, the son of Jonathan, and all the male line of Saul,* who had any claim to, or were capayears between the commission of the crime, and the inflicting the vengeance it deserved. The reason why the oracle expressly dictated no act of expiation, was because David only enquired for what reason the famine was sent. When this was known, it was also well known that the Gibeonites were to have some proper satisfaction made to them; so that though the oracular answer did not dictate in express words any act of expiation, yet it was of such a nature as that David was immediately led to think of an expiation; for he knew that the shedding of blood was only to be atoned by the shedding of his or their blood, on whom the murder was chargeable; so that the oracle did really dictate, though not in words, the necessity of an expiation, by pointing out the crime for which the famine was sent. It is not easy to say when the slaughter of the Gibeonites was committed: the Jews, indeed, pretend, that Saul had taken it into his head, in one of his phrenetic fits of zeal, to cut them all off'; but they give us no authority for it. It is therefore generally, and with greater probability, believed to have happened when he slew all the priests and inhabitants of Nob, for the Gibeonites were a kind of servants to the priests, and employed in some of the lowest and most laborious offices.
* David had given Şaul his oath, “ that he would not cut off his seed after him, nor destroy his name out of his father's house." Had Saul's family committed crimes worthy of death, David's oath would have been no reason against punishing them according to their deserts; and such punishment if deserved, had been no breach of his oath. If David did not cut off his seed after him, so as to destroy his name out of his father's house, he did not violate his oath to Saul. Now David did not cut off one single person of Saul's family, whose death had a tendency to destroy his name out of his father's house.