Shmuel 2-Chapter 19: Dovid’s monarchy is re-established

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Chapter 19: Dovid’s monarchy is re-established

1. Dovid bemoans the death of his son Avshalom:

  • The king became very angry, and he went up to the [roof of the[1]] gate and he cried and stated the following as he was walking, “My son Avshalom, my son, my son, Avshalom, if only then I would have died instead of you, Avshalom my son, my son.” [The sages state that each time Dovid said the words “my son” he elevated him from one of the levels of purgatory, and said the word a total of eight times to elevate him from the seven levels of purgatory and bring him the eighth level, which is the garden of Eden.[2]]
  • Yoav is informed that the king is in mourning: Yoav was then informed that the King was crying, and he too then began mourning the death of Avshalom.
  • The entire nation mourns that day: The salvation of that day became a day of mourning for the nation, as the nation heard that the king was very saddened of hearing of the death of his son. The people of Dovid arrived home to their city on that day in a dejected state entering their city without any fanfare, as if it were they who were shamed and ran away from the battlefield.
  • Dovid mourns: The king wrapped his face in the ways of a mourner, and he screamed a great cry saying, “My son Avshalom, my son, my son”

2. Yoav chastises the king for being so depressed over the loss of his son:

  • Yoav arrived to the home of the king and said to him, “You’ve today shamed all your servants and soldiers who today have saved your life and the life of your sons and daughters and the life of your wife and concubines. You’ve chosen to love those who hate you and to hate those who love you. You made it as if that you do not have any ministers or servants [and that they are of no meaning and importance to your eyes[3]]. It seems to me that you would have rather preferred for Avshalom to have lived and have all of us today be dead. Now, get up and go out to the nation and speak to the hearts of your servants and soldiers, as I have sworn by the name of G-d that if you do not leave to greet the nation, then nobody will sleep with you this night [to protect you from your enemies, and they will be disgusted with you and desert you] and this evil will be worse to you then all the evils that have come upon you from the day of your youth until now.”
  • The king greets the nation: So the king got up and sat by the gate of the city. The entire nation was informed that the king was sitting by the gates, and the entire nation came and passed before the King.
  • The rebel citizens flee: The Jewish people [who were on the side of Avshalom[4]] each ran away to their tents.

3. Reinstating Dovid as the king:

  • The discussion amongst the nation: The entire nation from amongst all the tribes entered into discussion, a discussion and argument regarding the king should be reinstated to his position. Those who professed that the King should be returned to his position argued that the king had saved them from their enemies and from the Philistines and was forced to run away from the land because of Avshalom. Now, Avshalom who was anointed as king in the interim has died in the war and therefore there is no reason for anyone to delay reinstating the king back to his post.
  • A message to the elders of Judah: King Dovid sent as emissaries Tzadok and Avyasar the priests, that they should go and speak to the elders of Judah to persuade them to reinstate Dovid as king and rejoin him as his nation. He told them as follows, “Why should you be the last ones to return the king to his home, after all, the entire Jewish people have accepted the king to return back to his palace. You are my brothers, my flesh and bone, and therefore why should you be the last ones to reinstate the king.”
  • A message to Amasa: King Dovid also sent with them a message to give to Amasa: “Tell Amasa as follows, are you not my own flesh and bone [i.e. my sister Avigail’s son[5]]? I swear by the name of G-d that I shall appoint you to become general for my army throughout all my days and that you will replace my current general Yoav [as Dovid was furious at him for having killed his son Avshalom[6]].”
  • The persuasion is successful: The messengers were successful in convincing the hearts of the men of Judah to once again reunite under the kingship of Dovid. They sent a message to the king saying that he and his servants should return to their home.
  • The tribe of Judah helps King Dovid travel home: The king traveled until the Jordan and there he was met by the tribe of Judah who came to greet him in Gilgola [which was across the Jordan], to help the king and his household pass the Jordan River.

4. The reconciliation with Shimi Ben Geira:

  • Shimi Ben Geira and the tribe of Benjamin come to help the king: Shimi Ben Geira, the son of a Benjamite from the town of Bachurim, hurried ahead of his tribe and joined the men of Judah to greet King Dovid. He had brought with him a thousand men from the tribe of Benjamin as well as Tziva who was a servant in the household of Shaul, together with his 15 sons and 20 slaves. They crossed the Jordan River before the King. They assisted the king in helping all of his household across the Jordan River on boats and they did all they could to find favor in his eyes.
  • Shimi Ben Geira apologizes to Dovid: When they came to cross the Jordan River, Shimi Ben Geira fell before the King and he pleaded before him saying, “Please, my master the king, forgive my sin that I had sinned against you [by rebelling against you in joining your son Avshalom, and by cursing you[7]] on the day that you had left Jerusalem. Please, pay no attention to it as your servant knows that he has sinned, and as a sign of repentance I am the first one to have arrived from the house of Joseph [and from all the Jewish people[8]] to come greet my master the king [and show my subordination to you, as through you forgiving my great sin it will encourage the rest of the Jewish people to seek forgiveness and reaccept you as the king[9]].
  • Avishaiy presses on the king to put Shimi to death: Avishaiy the son of Tzeruyah turned to the king and said to him, “Will you indeed not put Shimi to death after he cursed you, the anointed one of G-d, [just because he showed you a small amount of subordination[10]]? Dovid replied to him, “What fight do we have between me and you, the son of Tzeruyah, that you should become for me today a prosecutor [which can cause me to lose my monarchy]. Should I today put a Jewish man to death [from whom a great Savior by the name of Mordechai will descend from[11]] after I now know that I have been replaced the king over Israel [and accepted by the populace, as putting him to death will enter fear into the populace and cause them not to want to make peace with me[12]].” [Likewise, the fact that he apologized to me shows that I am indeed the king over Israel.[13]] The king then turned to Shimi and promised him that he shall not be put to death, and the king then swore to him.

5. Mifiboshes tries to make amends with King Dovid:

  • Mifiboshes was in a state of mourning and came to greet the king: Mifiboshes the son of Shaul went to greet the king. He had not shaved or cut his mustache or laundered his clothing since the day that Dovid was exiled until the day that he arrived to Dovid in peace [as he was so saddened by the state of affairs of Dovid that he entered himself into a state of mourning].
  • Mifiboshes is confronted by Dovid for his betrayal and defends himself: When he arrived at Jerusalem to greet the king the king confronted him by asking him why he did not join him in his exile from Jerusalem. Mifiboshes replied, “My master the king my servant [Tziva] had fooled me, as I had asked my servant to prepare the donkey for me so I can ride on it to join the king, being that I am crippled and cannot walk. [However, my servant Tziva tricked me by running away alone on the donkey and hence I could not join you.[14]] Now, people [i.e. Tziva] have spoken slander of me in front of my master the king [telling him that I anticipated overthrowing him while he was gone], and in truth I view my master the king as an angel of G-d [who knows the truth that I did not wish to do so[15]]. Now, please do what is good in your eyes. Remember, that my entire father’s household were liable for death for rebellion against my master the king, and the king had placed me his servant to be amongst those who dine with him on his table. What else can I say to the king [and convince him of my innocence] and what else can I request from him?”
  • The verdict of the king regarding Mifiboshes: The king replied to him saying, “Why do you continue to speak as I have already decided my verdict to split the property between you and Tziva.[16] Mifiboshes replied to the king that as far as he is concerned even if the king were to take everything [he would not be saddened as he is so overjoyed] over the fact that the king returned safely home to Jerusalem. [The sages state that since Dovid partially accepted the slander that Tziva spoke about Mifiboshes, it was therefore decreed that his own kingdom would be split between Rechavam and Yeravam.[17]]

6. Barzilaiy the Giladi is offered reward by Dovid but declined the offer:

  • Barzilaiy the Giladi had descended from the city of Roglim to escort the king past the Jordan River. Barzilaiy was very old at 80 years of age, and he sustained the king with food when the king was living in Machanayim, as Barzilaiy was a very great man [and very wealthy[18]].
  • Dovid’s offer: The king then said to Barzilaiy, “Travel back with me to Jerusalem and I will sustain you while you are there.”
  • Barzilaiy declines the offer: However, Barzilaiy refused the offer by saying to the king, “How many years are left of my life that I should ascend with the king to Jerusalem? I am today 80 years of age and do not know the difference between good and bad regarding the foods that I taste and the beverages that I drink. I likewise find no pleasure anymore in hearing song and musical instruments and therefore why should I become a burden to my master the king. I have barely crossed the Jordan River together with you, and therefore am undeserving of such kindness of this magnitude from the king. Please let your servant return to his city and die there so he can be buried together with the graves of his father and mother. Let your servant [my son[19]] Kimham travel with you my master the king back to Jerusalem and you can do with him as is good in your eyes.”
  • Barzilaiy parts from Dovid after he crossed the Jordan: The king accepted his offer and agreed to have Kimham return with him to Jerusalem, and the king promised, “I will do for him all that is good in your eyes, and whatever you choose upon me I shall do for you.” The entire nation crossed the Jordan River together with the king. [Prior to parting with] Barzilaiy, the king kissed him and blessed him, and he returned to his place.

7. A controversy breaks out between the people of Yehuda and the rest of Israel:

  • The king is escorted back home by the tribe of Judah: The king crossed to the city of Gilgola and Kimhan traveled together with him. Likewise, all of the people of Judah helped the king cross [the Jordan River and return back to Jerusalem] together with half [i.e., a minor amount[20]] of the nation of Israel.
  • The other tribes confront the king: The rest of the Jewish people [excluding the tribe of Judah] came to the king and confronted him for having let the tribe of Judah “steal their hearts” by escorting the king and his household and all of his men alone through the Jordan [and not waiting for them to arrive and join the escort, hence making it appear as if they don’t want to re-coronate the king[21]].
  • The reply of the men of Judah: All the men of Judah replied to the men of Israel, “The reason that we did this is because the king comes from our tribe, and after all there is nothing to be angry about over the fact that we escorted him, as we did not participate in any of his meals and he has given us any gifts [and hence there was no profit involved in escorting him].”
  • The reply to the men of Israel: The men of Israel replied to the men of Judah, “We have 10 times greater strength than you in relevance of the king [as we represent 10 tribes, and you only represent one[22]] and therefore we should have stronger influence with Dovid than you. Why then did you shame us and not allow us to be the first ones to come and escort our king.”
  • In summary of the controversy, the men of Judah ended up speaking much harsher words than the men of Israel.


[1] Radak 19:1

[2] Rashi 19:1; Sotah 10b

[3] Metzudos Dovid 19:7

[4] Rashi 19:9

[5] Metzudos Dovid 19:14

[6] Radak 19:14

[7] Metzudos Dovid 19:20

[8] See Rashi, Metzudos Dovid, Ralbag on 19:21

[9] Rashi 19:21

[10] Radak and Metzudos Dovid 19:22

[11] Meiam Loez 19:23

[12] Metzudos Dovid and Pirush Rav Yeshaya 19:23

[13] Rashi 19:23

[14] Radak and Metzudos Dovid 19:27

[15] Metzudos Dovid 19:28

[16] See Pirush Rav Yeshaya 19:30

[17] Radak 19:30

[18] Rashi 19:33

[19] Rashi 19:38

[20] Radak 19:41

[21] See Radak 19:42

[22] Rashi 19:44

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