The angry altercation between the tribes led, according to the proverb (Proverbs 15:1), to fresh troubles. These foreboded greater disasters than had yet occurred, but were happily arrested in the bud. Although suppressed, they must yet have intensified the tribal jealousies, and have sowed the seed of future dismemberment. So goes on the long catalogue of sorrows, following one after another from David’s sin.
Every man to his tents.—Comp. the cry of Jeroboam as he inaugurated his rebellion (1 Kings 12:16). It was the signal of revolt.
As he went forth it fell out.—The object of this verse is to explain how Joab, in consequence of the arrangement of his dress, was able to stab Amasa without his purpose being suspected. He had a girdle bound round his military coat, and in this he had stuck a dagger so arranged that it might fall out as he advanced. He then picked this up naturally in his left hand, and stretching out his right hand to greet Amasa, his movements gave rise to no suspicion.
So Joab and Abishai.—Joab here comes forward as the commander of the pursuit without previous mention. He may have accompanied Abishai from Jerusalem, or he may have joined him on the route; but, now, having murdered Amasa, he assumes his old place as commander-in-chief, doubtless with the connivance of his brother.
All the Berites.—Apparently a family, or clan, in the north of Israel, otherwise entirely unknown. The LXX. and Vulg. here apparently follow a different text. The Bishop of Bath and Wells supposes the Hebrew word to be a form of the word for “fortresses,” but no such form is known.
Stood in the trench.—The “trench” is the space between the wall of the city and the lower outer wall. When the besiegers had succeeded in planting the mounds for their battering engines in this space they had already gained an important advantage.
Benaiah.—In the four closing verses of this chapter there is again given a short summary of the chief men of David’s reign, as if to form the conclusion of this account of his life. A similar summary has already been given in 2 Samuel 8:16-18, and the changes introduced here mark a later period of the reign. It is noticeable that Joab still remains commander-in-chief. On Benaiah and the force which he commanded, see Note on 2 Samuel 8:18. (See also 2 Samuel 23:20-23.)