ONE LAST DEVIL

So David is victorious and returning to Jerusalem.  The old rivalry between Israel and Judah is rattling a bit though.  A deeper rivalry between heaven and hell underlies the actions of a worshipper of Belial though.  Indeed Belial (Satan) is busy as usual.

And there happened to be there a man of Belial, whose name was Sheba, the son of Bichri, a Benjamite: and he blew a trumpet, and said, We have no part in David, neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: every man to his tents, O Israel.  So every man of Israel went up from after David, and followed Sheba the son of Bichri: but the men of Judah clave unto their king, from Jordan even to Jerusalem.  And David came to his house at Jerusalem; and the king took the ten women his concubines, whom he had left to keep the house, and put them in ward, and fed them, but went not in unto them. So they were shut up unto the day of their death, living in widowhood.  Then said the king to Amasa, Assemble me the men of Judah within three days, and be thou here present.  2 Samuel 20:1-4

So Sheba is blowing his own horn, appointing himself king of Israel.  Again the kingdom is divided, and war is rekindled.  David is in a bad mood about the concubines who Absalom defiled, and now has another enemy too.  He orders his new commander to assemble the army.  He has three days to mobilize the the military.

Remember now, Amasa was Absalom’s commander of the army of Israel against David and Joab.

And Absalom made Amasa captain of the host instead of Joab: which Amasa was a man’s son, whose name was Ithra an Israelite, that went in to Abigail the daughter of Nahash, sister to Zeruiah Joab’s mother. 2 Samuel 17:25

Later David made Amasa his military leader over Joab to make peace in the kingdom.

And say ye to Amasa, Art thou not of my bone, and of my flesh? God do so to me, and more also, if thou be not captain of the host before me continually in the room of Joab. 2 Samuel 19:13

Amasa does not make the three day deadline, so David has to send Joab to do Amasa’s job. 

So Amasa went to assemble the men of Judah: but he tarried longer than the set time which he had appointed him.  And David said to Abishai, Now shall Sheba the son of Bichri do us more harm than did Absalom: take thou thy lord’s servants, and pursue after him, lest he get him fenced cities, and escape us.  And there went out after him Joab’s men, and the Cherethites, and the Pelethites, and all the mighty men: and they went out of Jerusalem, to pursue after Sheba the son of Bichri.  2 Samuel 20:5-7

Before Joab finds Sheba, he encounters Amasa.  David had not judged Amasa, but there may be suspicion that he will turn back to his old army of Israel.  Failing to obey orders compounds this suspicion.  Joab may have a grudge of his own since he was a loyal leader demoted for a former enemy.  Joab does have an opinion and a plan of his own 

When they were at the great stone which is in Gibeon, Amasa went before them. And Joab’s garment that he had put on was girded unto him, and upon it a girdle with a sword fastened upon his loins in the sheath thereof; and as he went forth it fell out.  And Joab said to Amasa, Art thou in health, my brother? And Joab took Amasa by the beard with the right hand to kiss him.  But Amasa took no heed to the sword that was in Joab’s hand: so he smote him therewith in the fifth rib, and shed out his bowels to the ground, and struck him not again; and he died. So Joab and Abishai his brother pursued after Sheba the son of Bichri.  2 Samuel 20:8-10

Joab has promoted himself and eliminated his suspicions at least.  Again we find no record of divine guidance or prayer in the actions of Joab.  While everyone saw the bloody evidence of his rebellion, they chose to follow Joab in battle. 

And one of Joab’s men stood by him, and said, He that favoureth Joab, and he that is for David, let him go after Joab.  And Amasa wallowed in blood in the midst of the highway. And when the man saw that all the people stood still, he removed Amasa out of the highway into the field, and cast a cloth upon him, when he saw that every one that came by him stood still.  When he was removed out of the highway, all the people went on after Joab, to pursue after Sheba the son of Bichri.  And he went through all the tribes of Israel unto Abel, and to Bethmaachah, and all the Berites: and they were gathered together, and went also after him.  2 Samuel 20:11-14

They set up a siege of the city Sheba has fortified himself in.  One woman has a plan of wisdom.  Perhaps the women are tired of becoming widows while the men slaughter their Jewish brethren.

And they came and besieged him in Abel of Bethmaachah, and they cast up a bank against the city, and it stood in the trench: and all the people that were with Joab battered the wall, to throw it down.  Then cried a wise woman out of the city, Hear, hear; say, I pray you, unto Joab, Come near hither, that I may speak with thee.  And when he was come near unto her, the woman said, Art thou Joab? And he answered, I am he. Then she said unto him, Hear the words of thine handmaid. And he answered, I do hear.  2 Samuel 20:15-17

Joab listens to the woman’s plea for her city. 

Then she spake, saying, They were wont to speak in old time, saying, They shall surely ask counsel at Abel: and so they ended the matter.  I am one of them that are peaceable and faithful in Israel: thou seekest to destroy a city and a mother in Israel: why wilt thou swallow up the inheritance of the LORD?  And Joab answered and said, Far be it, far be it from me, that I should swallow up or destroy.  The matter is not so: but a man of mount Ephraim, Sheba the son of Bichri by name, hath lifted up his hand against the king, even against David: deliver him only, and I will depart from the city. And the woman said unto Joab, Behold, his head shall be thrown to thee over the wall.  2 Samuel 20:18-21

Joab doesn’t want to destroy Israel, but he has to end the rebellion of Sheba.  She offers to deliver proof of his execution.  She consults the city leaders. 

Then the woman went unto all the people in her wisdom. And they cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri, and cast it out to Joab. And he blew a trumpet, and they retired from the city, every man to his tent. And Joab returned to Jerusalem unto the king.  Now Joab was over all the host of Israel: and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over the Cherethites and over the Pelethites:  And Adoram was over the tribute: and Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was recorder:  And Sheva was scribe: and Zadok and Abiathar were the priests:  And Ira also the Jairite was a chief ruler about David.  2 Samuel 20:22-26

With the rebellion beheaded, Israel and its tribes were all established under David’s leadership.

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