Waxed stronger.—Time was working in David’s favour, partly, doubtless, on account of Ish-bosheth’s manifest incompetence, partly from a growing appreciation of the character and prowess of David, and a fuller realisation that he was the divinely appointed sovereign. In 1 Chronicles 12:19-22 there is an account of an important accession to David from the tribe of Manasseh on the eve of Saul’s last battle, and a further mention of continued accessions to him “day by day.” As the necessary result of this constant transference of strength to David, “the house of Saul waxed weaker and weaker.”
Amnon.—Written “Aminon” in 2 Samuel 13:20. His great crime and miserable end are related in 2 Samuel 13.
Chileab.—Called “Daniel” in 1 Chronicles 3:1. None of the attempts to explain these as two forms of the same name have been successful. Either, therefore, “Chileab” is an error of the scribe (all but the first letter being the same as the first three letters of the following word), or, more probably, Chileab had a double name. Nothing further is known of him, and as he does not appear in the subsequent troubles, it is supposed that he died early. These two sons were born of the wives whom David had taken while an outlaw.
Absalom.—His history, rebellion, and death are narrated in 2 Samuel 13-18. His mother was “the daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur,” a petty province north-east of Bashan. How David was brought into connection with him, and whether this alliance had any political object or not, we are not told, but the fact that Absalom in his exile naturally sought refuge with his maternal grandmother (2 Samuel 13:37) may have had a connection with David’s subsequent campaigns in that region.
Adonijah.—After the death of his three elder brothers, Adonijah considered himself the rightful heir to the throne, and embittered the last days of his father by a rebellion (1 Kings 1). He was at last put to death by Solomon (1 Kings 2:25).
Of the other two sons, Shephatiah and Ithream, and of the mothers of the last three, nothing is known, although there is an absurd Jewish tradition that “Eglah” was another name for “Michal.”
Wherefore hast thou gone in?—The harem of an Eastern monarch was considered as the property of his successor, and therefore the taking of a woman belonging to it as the assertion of a claim to the throne. (See 2 Samuel 12:8; 2 Samuel 16:21; 1 Kings 2:22.) It is not probable that Abner had any such design, since he was exerting himself to maintain Ish-bosheth on the throne. But the king appears to have so regarded the act, as it is this implied charge of treachery that so greatly rouses the anger of Abner. The name of Ish-bosheth has dropped out of the Hebrew text, but appears in a few MSS., and is rightly restored in all the versions.
An hundred foreskins.—David had actually delivered to Saul as her dowry two hundred, but only one hundred had been required (1 Samuel 18:25; 1 Samuel 18:27), and therefore only that number is mentioned.
The well of Sirah.—The only knowledge of this locality is from the testimony of Josephus (Antt. vii. 1, 5), that it was twenty stadia (two and a half miles) from Hebron; and there is still a spring and reservoir called Ain Sareh, rather more than a mile north of the town. If this is correct, Abner must have just left David when Joab arrived.
The phrase, “that leaneth on a staff,” has been understood by many as “holding a distaff,” i.e., a person unfit for war. The word has the sense of “distaff” in Proverbs 31:19, and is so rendered here by the Vulgate; but the sense given by the English—which is also that of the LXX. and Targum—is better, and more in accordance with the other particulars.
For “on the sword” read “by the sword,” there being no reference to the idea of suicide. On the violent end of Joab see 1 Kings 2:31-34.