Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary, 1859 edition.

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2 KINGS - Chapter 17

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2 Kings xvii.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. This night. Achitophel has a mind to shew that he is not only an able statesman, but a good general. (Haydock) --- On such occasions, expedition is of the utmost consequence, that the people may not have time to enter into themselves, or to concentrate about their lawful king. "Nothing is more delightful than haste in civil discord, where action is more requisite than consultation." By delays, "he would give the wicked an opportunity to repent, and the good would unite together. Crimes are confirmed by rushing on; good counsels by deliberation." Scelera impetu; bona consilia mora valescere. (Tacitus, Hist. i.)

Ver. 2. Handed. He has not had time to collect forces. --- Alone. Hebrew also, "the king also;" so that the people will be saved by flight. (Haydock)

Ver. 3. One man. They will return with such unanimity, when their leader is cut off. (Menochius) --- David was the one man whom his son desired to kill, as the latter was the only one whom David ordered to be spared, chap. xviii. 5. (Haydock) --- Hebrew seems rather transposed: "I will bring back all the people to thee, as all the people, whom thou seekest, are returned; and all the people shall be in peace:" or, ... "when all those, whom thou desirest, shall be returned, &c. (Calmet) --- Septuagint, "as a bride returns to her husband; only the soul of one thou seekest, and peace shall be to all the people." (Haydock)

Ver. 7. This time, though he displays such prudence on all other occasions; or, "at this time" the situation of affairs is such, that it may prove dangerous to push people, who are already desperate, to extremities. Here we behold, how different sentiments may appear equally plausible. (Haydock) --- Mind, reduced to despair. The maxim is beautiful, as well as the comparison. See Osee xiii. 7., Proverbs xvii. 12., and Lamentations iii. 10. --- People. Hebrew adds, "in the night;" or, "he will not suffer the people to pass the night" in repose. (Calmet) --- He will not entrust his person to a faithless multitude, but will be surrounded with a chosen band, with whom he may escape, even though the rest should flee. (Haydock) --- Achitophel had represented David abandoned by his men. (Menochius)

Ver. 9. First. Hebrew, "If they attack them at first." (Calmet) --- Report will easily represent the engagement as unfavourable to Absalom; and this will be readily believed, as all are convinced of David's valour. (Haydock) --- Nothing ought to be risked in such beginnings. (Calmet)

Ver. 10. Man. Hebrew, "the son of valour himself." Achitophel, or any other. (Menochius)

Ver. 11. Of them, their general. Hebrew, "and thy face shall go to battle," Exodus xxiii. 14.

Ver. 12. Dew, which there falleth every night, in summer, like rain, Deuteronomy xxxiii. 28. Some of the light armed troops of the Romans were called Rorarii, because they fell upon the enemy, and began the battle.

Ver. 13. Ropes, armed with hooks, to pull down the walls, and to move the battering engines. All the discourse of Chusai tends to fill the mind of the young prince with vanity; as if he could overcome all opposition when surrounded with the armies of Israel, (Calmet) at the head of which he would appear, instead of Achitophel, ver. 1. (Menochius)

Ver. 14. Profitable, to the cause of Absalom, more than that of Chusai, which was also very plausible. (Haydock) --- Lord. The Scripture always directs us to fix our thoughts on God, as the arbiter of all human affairs. (Calmet) --- Hebrew, "for the Lord had ordained to dissipate the good counsel," &c. (Haydock) --- "Plerumque qui fortunam mutaturus est consilia corrumpit, efficitque, quod miserrimum est, ut quod accidit, etiam merit accidisse videatur, et casus in culpam transeat," Peterc. ii.

Ver. 15. Thus. He discloses the secrets of the person who had consulted him, (Calmet) as his engagements to David and to his country were prior, and more to be observed, to prevent the effects of civil war. (Haydock)

Ver. 16. Over the Jordan, that it might be some sort of barrier, in case Absalom changed his mind, to follow the advice of Achitophel.

Ver. 17. Rogel, near Jerusalem, on the east. (Menochius) --- Maid, under the pretence of washing linen. (St. Jerome, Trad.)

Ver. 18. It, as it was level with the ground; so that a cloth being spread over it, prevented all suspicion. It had no water.

Ver. 19. Barley, which was afterwards fried with oil, and eaten. Ptisanas may also denote wheat, &c. Grana contusa. (Theodotion) --- "Figs." (Calmet) --- Septuagint have the original (hariphoth) untranslated. (Haydock)

Ver. 20. Water. Hebrew, "they have crossed the brook of water." (Calmet)

Ver. 22. River. Hebrew, "Jordan." (Haydock) --- They had travelled twenty leagues in the day and night after their departure from Jerusalem. (Calmet)

Ver. 23. Order, making his will. (Menochius) --- Hanged himself. Some Rabbins pretend that he died of quinsey, or suffocated with grief. But it is almost universally believed that he set a pattern to Judas, the traitor, in this mode of dying, as well as in perfidy. He was aware that Absalom was undone, and vexed that his counsel had been disregarded. The most prudent of this world are often blind to their own welfare. The Jews had not yet begun to refuse the rites of sepulture to suicides. (Calmet)

Ver. 24. To the camp. The city of Mahanaim, the name of which in Hebrew, signifies The Camp. It was a city of note at that time; as appears from its having been chosen by Isboseth for the place of his residence. (Challoner) --- The Vulgate often translates Mahanaim, or Manaim. See chap. ii. 8, 12. (Haydock) --- Him. It is not known how soon. But he probably waited till he had collected his forces. David had done the like, and was joined by the king of Ammon, ver. 27.

Ver. 25. Jazrael, or Israel. (Du Hamel) --- Gortius would read Ismael, as 1 Paralipomenon ii. 17, Jether, the Ismaelite. (Haydock) --- Went in. This expressing makes Sanchez believe that Amasa was illegitimate. (Menochius) --- Naas is either the name of Isai's wife, or rather the latter had both names, 1 Paralipomenon ii. 13, 16. Septuagint read Jesse, in the edition of Complut.; in others, Naas. (Calmet) --- Joab; so that these two were own cousins, and both nephews of David.

Ver. 27. Camp, ver. 24. (Haydock) --- Sobi, whom David had set upon the throne, instead of Hanon, chap. x. --- Machir, who had the care of Miphiboseth, chap. ix. 4. --- Berzellai. See chap. xix. 31.

Ver. 28. Beds, with all the necessary furniture, coverlets, &c. Roman Septuagint, "ten beds, with fur on both sides." --- Tapestry. Some would translate, "bottles," (Chaldean) or "cauldrons;" (Roman Septuagint) but other editions agree with the Vulgate. --- Vessels. These are necessary, as much as things of greater magnificence. Precious metals were then rarely used in the kitchen. --- Pulse, (cicer) or "parched peas." Hebrew kali, is thus twice translated, as it had been rendered parched corn. It signifies any thing "parched." The ancients made great use of such food in journeys, as the Ethiopians and Turks do still. (Athen. ii. 13.; Busbec. iii.; Bellon. ii. 53.) (Calmet)

Ver. 29. Calves. Many translate the Hebrew, "cheese of kine." (Theodotion) --- "Calves fed with milk." (Haydock) --- Wilderness, where they had been; unless this be placed out of its natural order. (Calmet) --- The value of a present depends greatly on the time when it is made. (Haydock) --- "How much dost thou esteem a hospitable reception in a wilderness?" &c. (Seneca, Ben. vi. 15.)

Bible Text & Cross-references:

Achitophel's counsel is defeated by Chusai: He sendeth intelligence to David. Achitophel hangeth himself.

1 And* Achitophel said to Absalom: I will choose me twelve thousand men, and I will arise and pursue after David this night.

2 And coming upon him, (for he is now weary, and weak-handed) I will defeat him: and when all the people is put to flight that is with him, I will kill the king, who will be left alone.

3 And I will bring back all the people, as if they were but one man: for thou seekest but one man: and all the people shall be in peace.

4 And his saying pleased Absalom, and all the ancients of Israel.

5 But Absalom said: Call Chusai, the Arachite, and let us hear what he also saith.

6 And when Chusai was come to Absalom, Absalom said to him: Achitophel hath spoken after this manner: shall we do it or not? what counsel dost thou give?

7 And Chusai said to Absalom: The counsel that Achitophel hath given this time is not good.

8 And again Chusai said: Thou knowest thy father, and the men that are with him, that they are very valiant, and bitter in their mind, as a bear raging in the wood when her whelps are taken away: and thy father is a warrior, and will not lodge with the people.

9 Perhaps he now lieth hid in pits, or in some other place where he list: and when any one shall fall at the first, every one that heareth it, shall say: There is a slaughter among the people that followed Absalom.

10 And the most valiant man, whose heart is as the heart of a lion, shall melt for fear: for all the people of Israel know thy father to be a valiant man, and that all who are with him are valiant.

11 But this seemeth to me to be good counsel: Let all Israel be gathered to thee, from Dan to Bersabee, as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered: and thou shalt be in the midst of them.

12 And we shall come upon him in what place soever he shall be found: and we shall cover him, as the dew falleth upon the ground, and we shall not leave of the men that are with him, not so much as one.

13 And if he shall enter into any city, all Israel shall cast ropes round about that city, and we will draw it into the river: so that there shall not be found so much as one small stone thereof.

14 And Absalom, and all the men of Israel, said: The counsel of Chusai, the Arachite, is better than the counsel of Achitophel: and by the will of the Lord, the profitable counsel of Achitophel, was defeated, that the Lord might bring evil upon Absalom.

15 And Chusai said to Sadoc, and Abiathar, the priests: Thus and thus did Achitophel counsel Absalom, and the ancients of Israel: and thus and thus did I counsel them.

16 Now therefore send quickly, and tell David, saying: Tarry not this night in the plains of the wilderness, but without delay pass over: lest the king be swallowed up, and all the people that is with him.

17 And Jonathan and Achimaas stayed by the fountain Rogel: and there went a maid and told them: and they went forward, to carry the message to king David, for they might not be seen, nor enter into the city.

18 But a certain boy saw them, and told Absalom: but they making haste, went into the house of a certain man in Bahurim, who had a well in his court, and they went down into it.

19 And the woman took, and spread a covering over the mouth of the well, as it were to dry sodden barley: and so the thing was not known.

20 And when Absalom's servants were come into the house, they said to the woman: Where is Achimaas, and Jonathan? and the woman answered them: They passed on in haste, after they had tasted a little water. But they that sought them, when they found them not, returned into Jerusalem.

21 And when they were gone, they came up out of the well, and going on, told king David, and said: Arise, and pass quickly over the river: for this manner of counsel has Achitophel given against you.

22 So David arose, and all the people that were with him, and they passed over the Jordan, until it grew light, and not one of them was left that was not gone over the river.

23 But Achitophel, seeing that his counsel was not followed, saddled his ass, and arose, and went home to his house and to his city: and putting his house in order, hanged himself, and was buried in the sepulchre of his father.

24 But David came to the camp, and Absalom passed over the Jordan, he and all the men of Israel with him.

25 Now Absalom appointed Amasa in Joab's stead, over the army: and Amasa was the son of a man who was called Jethra of Jezrael, who went in to Abigail, the daughter of Naas, the sister of Sarvia, who was the mother of Joab.

26 And Israel camped with Absalom in the land of Galaad.

27 And when David was come to the camp, Sobi, the son of Naas, of Rabbath, of the children of Ammon, and Machir, the son of Ammihel of Lodabar, and Berzellai, the Galaadite, of Rogelim,

28 Brought him beds, and tapestry, and earthen vessels, and wheat, and barley, and meal, and parched corn, and beans, and lentils, and fried pulse,

29 And honey, and butter, and sheep, and fat calves; and they gave to David and the people that were with him, to eat: for they suspected that the people were faint with hunger and thirst in the wilderness.



1: Year of the World 2981.