Shmuel 2-Chapter 2: The battle between the servants of Dovid and the household of Saul

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Chapter 2: The battle between the servants of Dovid and the household of Saul

1. Dovid, his family and his people move to Judea:

  • After the above events [of Shaul’s death] Dovid consulted with G-d asking him if he should move to one of the cities of Judea. G-d answered him that he should move. Dovid asked G-d as to where he should move, and G-d answered that he should move to the city of Chevron.
  • So, Dovid and his two wives, Achinoam the Yizralite and Avigail, the former wife of Naval the Carmelite, as well as all of his men and their families that were with him, moved and settled in the cities of Chevron.

2. Dovid is coronated as King over his tribe of Judah:

  • The people of Judah came and anointed Dovid there as King over the house of Judah.

3. Dovid conscripts the men of Yaveish Galaad to his army:

  • Dovid was informed that the men of Yaveish Galaad had buried Shaul. So, Dovid sent messengers to the men of Yaveish Galaad. He told them as follows, “Blessed are you to G-d as you have done this kindness with your master Shaul and that you buried him. Now, may G-d do with you kindness and truth, and I too will do for you this kindness being that you have done this. Now strengthen your arms and become soldiers [in my army] as your master Shaul has died and I’ve been anointed by the house of Yehuda as king over them.”

4. Ish Boshes is crowned as King over Israel:

  • Avner Ben Ner, the general of Shaul took Ish Boshes who was the son of Shaul and brought him to [the city of] Machanaim [to crown him king, as he had expounded from the verse that there would be two kings who would reign from the tribe of Benjamin[1]]. He crowned him there as king over Gilad, and over Ashury, and over Yizrael, and over a Efraim, and over Benjamin and over the entire Jewish people.
  • Ish Boshes the son of Shaul was 40 years old at the time when he reigned over the Jewish people. He reigned for a total of two years. However, the house of Judah followed Dovid.
  • The number of days that Dovid was king in Chevron over the house of Judah was seven years and six months.

5. The two generals of Dovid and Ish Boshes meet and arrange a wrestling match between the sides:

  • Avner Ben Ner and the servants of Ish Boshes the son of Shaul had left Machanaim and traveled to Givona.
  • Yoav the son of Tzruyah, and the servants of Dovid also left and met the group that was loyal to Ish Boshes by the pool in Givon, each group sitting by one side of the pool.
  • Avner said to Yoav: “Let the lads stand up and amuse us [i.e. let the young soldiers of each side wrestle with each other and have a sword fight to see who is stronger[2]].” So Yoav instructed them to stand up [and fight]. So, they got up and a number of them crossed [to the other side, past the pool of water]. 12 men from the tribe of Benjamin who were loyal to Ish Boshes the son of Shaul [crossed over] and 12 men from the servants of Dovid [crossed over].

6. The battle between the servants of Dovid and the servants of Ish Boshes:

  • The men of both sides die: Each man took hold of the head of his colleague on the opposite side, and he stabbed the sword into the side of his friend, and they both fell together [i.e. they all died, the men from both sides]. That area was called Chelkas Hatzurim that is in Givon [representing the sword fight that took place in that area as swords are referred to as Tzurim[3]].
  • Avner and his men flee: The battle was a very heavy on that day, and Avner and the men of Israel fled from before the servants of Dovid.

7. Asahail chases after Avner and is killed:

  • Three of the sons of Tzruyah were present, named Yoav, Avishaiy, and Asahail. Asahail was very light on his feet and was able to run like a deer in the field. Asahail gave chase to Avner and he did not swerve to the right or to the left from behind Avner [i.e. he continued to give chase and did not run past him].
  • Avner turned around and he said to him, “Are you not Asahail?” And he replied that indeed he is. Avner said to him, turn to your right or left and [run past me and] grab onto one of your lads and grab his shirt and take his shirt [to show that you were chasing after him and not me, in order so you are not shamed to be viewed as if you could not overcome me[4]]. However, Asahail did not agree to stop chasing after him. Avner again turned to Asahail and said, “Stop chasing after me. Why should I smite you to the ground? How will I be able to face your brother Yoav if I do so.” He nonetheless persisted and refused to stop chasing after him. So, Avner smote him from behind using his sword, stabbing him through his abdomen piercing his body to the other side, and so Asahail fell and died in that place. Anyone who would come to the place where Asahail had fallen dead would stop there.
  • The brothers of Asahail give chase to Avner: Yoav and Avishaiy chased after Avner until sunset. They arrived by Givas Ama which was on the plain of Giach on the road to the desert of Givon. The tribe of Benjamin gathered behind Avner and became one unit with him and they stood on the top of one of the mountains.
  • Peace is made between Avner and Yoav: Avner called to Yoav and said, “Will we forever fight war? Do you not know that it will be bitter in the end? Until when will you delay telling the nation to go back and stop fighting their brothers?” Yoav replied, “I swear by G-d, that if not for you having spoken, then from the morning the nation would’ve gone up in civil war to fight their brothers.” So Yoav blew the shofar and the nation remained stationary and no longer chased after the people of Israel, and they no longer continued to fight each other.

8. Avner and Yoav go their separate ways:

  • The travel of Avner: Avner and his men went towards Arava throughout that entire night, and they crossed the Jordan and went throughout the entire district of Bisron and arrived to Machanaim.
  • The number of people killed in the Civil War: Yoav returned from behind Avner and he counted the entire nation [to see who was missing[5]] and there were 19 men from the servants of Dovid missing as well as Asahail. The servants of Dovid smote Benjamin and the men of Avner and 360 men died.
  • Asahail is buried: They carried Asahail and buried him in the grave of his father which is in Bethlehem.
  • The travel of Yoav: They traveled that entire night, Yoav and all of his men, and they arrived by Chevron in the morning.


[1] Rashi 2:8

[2] Metzudos Dovid 2:14

[3] See Metzudos Tziyon 2:16

[4] Metzudos Dovid 2:21

[5] Radak 2:30

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