The gore in this chapter is there for a purpose, part of the big messianic prophecy in 2nd Samuel 15–20. There are multiple stories in this chapter that are worthy of attention and note. This chapter has lots of parallelism and chiastic structure. For example, the actions of Yoab (Joab) mirror those of the high priest and of Yehudah Ish-Kariot (Judas Iscariot) in his betrayal of Yeshua (Jesus).
The story of Absolom’s rebellion starts with a blow of shofar. Sheva’s rebellion begins in a similar manner. Who is Sheva and what was he doing?
Sheva was a member of the tribe of Benjamin. David had just returned over the Jordan immediately after their victory over Absolom. David returned as king, and the tribes were bickering over which tribe should be first. The 10 northern tribes had been fighting against Judah, because those tribes opened themselves to David’s return. Yet Judah took the right to bring him back in triumph. David allowed this insult and slight to stand. To the 10 northern tribes, David didn’t really care about them; he only cared about Judah’s acceptance.
This insult or slight to the 10 Northern Tribes was so hurtful, that Sheva said that since David was rejecting them, they would reject David as king. The 10 tribes agreed to abandon David at this point. Sheva does not declare himself King, he simply proclaims that the 10 tribes have no part to David. He tells them to abandon their head. The people agreed with him due to David and Judah’s slight of them and left him alone to be returned to Jerusalem with only the tribe of Judah.
Why didn’t David immediately put Sheva to death himself? David had already promised not to put anyone to death that day because it was supposed to be a celebration of his triumph. David was not pursue Sheva, he continues on his way to Jerusalem.
The first matter of business David deals with when he returns to Jerusalem is to deal with the 10 concubines he left behind. They had been raped by Absolom. David decides not to take them back as concubines. He dooms them to a “living widowhood.” He provides for them physically with food, clothing and housing but never to “know them” again. This is an extra-Torah edict as there is no law in Torah to prevent a man from knowing his wife after she had been raped.
Next, we see David give Amasa a job to do, to gather some fighting men from Judah and asked Amasa to return within 3 days. Amasa could only gather men from Judah because the northern tribes had already abandoned David. Amasa delayed and there were grave consequences for that delay. These three days are a Messianic reference. Amasa is a form of Messiah in this story, even though he was not a particularly good and righteous man. Joab did not like the fact that Amasa was promoted over him.
David speaks with Abishai, Joab’s younger brother. Why was Joab replaced by Amasa? Because Joab killed Absolom. That was Joab’s punishment for defying King David’s order. David tells Abishai to gather Joab’s men and go after Sheva.
The Cherethites and the Pelethites were not a separate race of people. Those names in Hebrew suggest they were archers and slingers, or those proficient with slingshot.
Joab is wearing a special kind of garment, a special kind of armor. This is a special chest covering, just as the high priest wears a special chest covering when dealing with the disposal of ashes after a whole burnt offering is spent up.
When Joab greets Amasa, he greets him with deceit, pretending to greet him in peace but runs him through with a small sword, and assassinates Amasa and makes Amasa a curse among the men. It only takes one thrust, no bones broken and a gradual, painful death.
Joab’s deceit reminds us of Judas who came to Yeshua and betrayed Him with a kiss, just as Judas Iscariot did. Joab is killing the man who was just put over him just as the Priests conspired to kill Yeshua, the Messiah, who God put over them, as Yeshua had the superior right of priesthood through Meleckzedek over the Aaronic priesthood. In other words, Joab plays the dual role of high priest and Judas in this story.
Joab sets himself up as judge and executioner over Amasa.
While Amasa was still dying, Joab says, “If you’re for David, follow me.” The people were reluctant to follow the assassin Joab. They are not sure what to do. One of Joab’s men move the body and symbolically buries it, the men all stopped and paused to acknowledge the dead then moved to their task. The High Priests, also paused their Passover duties to notice Yeshua on the cross to make sure He was really going to die. Yeshua was similarly discarded after death: hastily, yet those who witnessed His death paused.
The first place they go is to a town called Abel Beth-maacah. He sets up the siege ramps and threatens to wipe the entire town off the face of the earth. The city’s literal name is the “house of piercing” or “house of depression.” The Berites were among the men Joab brought to attack this city. They were a well fed people, Just as David promised to keep his “living widows” comfortable and well-fed.
A woman of the town comes to Joab, a “mother of Israel” and calls him out on his designs to slaughter the entire town. He tells the woman he only wants the death of Sheva. The woman goes back to the leadership of the town and they kill Sheva and throw his head over the wall to Joab on the other side of the wall. That appeases Joab. Joab blows a shofar and he goes home. This “mother of Israel” plays a similar role to Pontius Pilate. The woman had no problem with Sheva yet because Joab asks for his head, she complies with Joab’s request and has Sheva assassinated.
There is a lot of messianic imagery in this chapter, if you can look beyond the gore. God repeats lessons through thematic ties. We don’t notice some of these lessons right away but most of these underlying lessons lead us to the Messiah.
Chiastic structures in 2nd Samuel 20
(2nd Sam. 20:1) Sheba, the son of Bichri… and he blew a trumpet, … every man to his tents,
(2nd Sam. 20:2) So every man of Israel went up from after David, and followed Sheba the son of Bichri: [Note: Rejected their head/king]
(2nd Sam. 20:3) And David came to his house at Jerusalem …; 10 women … fed them, living in widowhood.
Assemble me the men of Judah
(2nd Sam. 20:6) Abishai … and pursue after him (Sheba),
(2nd Sam. 20:7) Joab’s men …, to pursue after Sheba the son of Bichri.
(2nd Sam. 20:8) Joab’s garment [Note: A priest’s “armor”] that he had put on was girded unto him,
… a sword fastened upon his loins in the sheath [i.e., covered] thereof
(2nd Sam. 20:9) 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.
(2nd Sam. 20:10) 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, [Note: No armor]
So Joab and Abishai his brother pursued after Sheba the son of Bichri.
(2nd Sam. 20:11) … He that favoureth Joab, and he that is for David, let him go after Joab.
(2nd Sam. 20:12) 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.
(2nd Sam. 20:13) When he [Amasa] was removed out of the highway,
all the people went on after Joab,
to pursue after Sheba the son of Bichri.
(2nd Sam. 20:14) … he went through all the tribes of Israel … Abel, and to Beth Ma’achah [“House of Depression”] … Berites [“fat ones”]:
…men gathered together
(2nd Sam. 20:16-21) wise woman … far be it from me, that I should swallow up or destroy.
(2nd Sam. 20:22) … And they cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri, and cast it out to Joab.
And he blew a trumpet, … every man to his tent.
Reader: Dave De Fever. Speaker: Daniel Agee. Summary: Tammy.