Shmuel 2-Chapter 3: Avner accepts the monarchy of Dovid and is assassinated

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Chapter 3: Avner accepts the monarchy of Dovid and is assassinated

1. The battles between the household of Shaul and Dovid:

  • The state of war between the house of Shaul and household of Dovid was very lengthy. In the meantime, Dovid gained more and more strength while the house of Shaul became weaker and weaker.

2. Dovid’s children:

  • Dovid had sons born to him in the city of Chevron. His eldest son’s name was Amnon the son of Achinoam, the Yizraelite.
  • His second son was Kilav the son of Avigail, the former wife of Naval the Carmelite. [An alternative name for him was Daniel, and he was called Kilav in order to negate the scoffers of the generation who would say that he was really the son of Naval, and hence Hashem did a miracle to make him look like his father.[1]]
  • His third son was Avshalom the son of Ma’acha, the daughter of Talmaiy who was the king of Geshore. [This wife was a captive of war and was taken based on the law of Yefas Toar.[2]]
  • His fourth son was Adoniyah, the son of Chagis.
  • His fifth son was Shefatya, the son of Avital.
  • His sixth son was Yisrom, the son of Egla the wife of Dovid. [This refers to Michal who was the daughter of Shaul and was Dovid’s wife. Now, although it states in Scripture that she did not merit to have any children, this is referring to from that time and onwards although prior to that time in Scripture, she did merit to have a child.[3] Alternatively, this does not refer to Michal but rather to a woman named Egla who originally was the wife of Shaul and was taken by Dovid as a wife after Shaul was killed.[4]]
  • All the above children were born to Dovid in the city of Chevron.

3. Avner feels betrayed and decides to help the monarchy of Dovid:

  • During the period of war between the household of Shaul and the household of Dovid, Avner became very powerful within the house of Shaul [and did everything he can to establish the monarchy of the house of Shaul[5]].
  • Avner is accused of sleeping with the king’s mistress: Shaul had a concubine named Ritzpah the daughter of Aya. [Ish Boshes[6]] accused Avner saying, “Why did you sleep with my father’s concubine?” Avner became very angry with the accusation of Ish Boshes replying to him, “Am I the head [master in charge of guarding the[7]] dogs of the house of Judah [that you should accuse me like this]? Have I not done kindness with the house of Shaul, your father, and his brothers and his friends, and [also] I have not given you over to the house of Dovid, and now you are accusing me this sin of this woman?” Avner then made a swear, “So should G-d do to Avner and so he should add to him, as G-d’s word to Dovid [was that he would be king over Israel and therefore] so I will do for him [to assist him to become the king[8]] to help move the monarchy from the house of Shaul and to establish the throne of Dovid over all of Israel, and over Judah from Dan until Bear Sheva.” [Ish Boshes] was unable to say anything back to Avner being that he feared him.
  • Avner joins forces with Dovid: Avner sent distinguished messengers to Dovid to ask him to whom the land belongs to, and to make a pact and covenant with him. He said to him, “Make a covenant with me and my hand will be with yours to influence all the Jewish people to come under you.” Dovid replied to him, “it is good, I will make a treaty with you, however there is one thing that I ask from you, and that is that you should not come to see me before you bring to me Michal, the daughter of Shaul. Bring her to me when you come to greet me. “
  • Michal is returned to Dovid: So Dovid sent messengers to Ish Boshes the son of Shaul telling him, “Give me my wife Michal that I had consecrated with 100 foreskins of the Philistines.” So Ish Boshes sent her to Dovid. He took her away from her man [that Shaul had given her to, who was named] Paltiel Ben Layish. Her husband escorted her [to Dovid] and he cried behind her throughout the journey of escorting her, until he arrived to the area of Bachurim, when Avner told him to go and return, and so he returned.

4. Avner galvanizes the Jewish people towards Dovid and makes peace with him:

  • Avner spoke to the elders of the Jewish people telling them, “Yesterday and the day before you had desired to crown Dovid as king over you. Now, this is what you should do as G-d has said to Dovid saying, “With the hands of Dovid My servant I will save the Jewish people from the hands of the Philistines and from the hands of all their enemies.” Avner spoke these words also to the ears of the Benjamite’s, and he also went to speak to the ears of Dovid in Chevron all that is good in the eyes of the Jewish people and in the eyes of the household of Benjamin.
  • Avner meets Dovid: Avner arrived to Dovid in Chevron together with 20 people, and Dovid made a feast for Avner and his men. Avner said to Dovid, “I will get up and go and gather all the Jewish people towards my master the king and they will make a covenant with you and you shall rule over all that you desire.” So Dovid sent Avner and he went with peace.

5. Yoav protests the peace with Avner and assassinates him:

  • The servants of Dovid and Yoav had arrived from the army together with a lot of booty that they brought with them. At that time, Avner was no longer together with Dovid in Chevron as he had already sent him, and he went with peace. Yoav and the entire army that was with him arrived, and they told Yoav that Avner the son of Ner had come to the king and he sent him off in peace. Yoav approached the king and said to him, “What have you done? Avner has arrived by you, so why did you send him and let him go his way. I know that Avner the son of Ner had come in order to spy on you and to know your comings and goings and all that you do.”
  • Yoav assassinates Avner: Yoav left the presence of Dovid and he sent messengers to call after Avner and he brought him back from the pit which is found in the area of Sirim. Dovid had no knowledge of these arrangements. So Avner returned to Chevron, and Yoav had him brought into the gate [where the Sanhedrin sat[9]] under the guise that he needed to speak to him about a matter that Dovid forgot to tell him [when in truth he wanted to speak to him about him having killed his brother and bring him to justice[10]]. In that area Yoav killed Avner stabbing him through the abdomen [in the area that he had brought him there to speak with him] and he killed in vengeance of the blood of his brother Asahail.
  • Dovid hears of the assassination and responds: Afterwards, Dovid heard about what had happened and he said, “I and my monarchy are clean in the eyes of G-d from now and forever from being held accountable over the blood of Avner the son of Ner. This sin shall befall on the head of Yoav and upon his father’s home, and may there never cease from the house of Yoav a Zav and Metzora, and one who walks with a cane due to leg injuries, and falls in war to the sword and is always lacking sustenance.” Yoav and his brother Avishaiy had killed Avner over the fact that he had killed their brother Asahail in Givon during the time of war.
  • Avner is buried and mourned: Dovid said to Yoav and to all of the nation that was with him, “tear your clothing and wear sackcloth and eulogize Avner.” And King Dovid followed after the bed of Avner. They buried Avner in Chevron, and the king raised his voice and cried by the grave of Avner and the entire nation cried.
  • Dovid eulogizes Avner: The king eulogized and bemoaned Avner by saying, “Should Avner die like an evil man by the sword? Your hands were not tied, and your feet were not bound with copper chains. You were brought forward and made to fall before a wicked man.” After these words the entire nation continued to cry over him.
  • Dovid is given Seudas Havraha but refuses to eat: The entire nation came to give Dovid food and bread on that day, while it was still day. Dovid then made a swear and said, “So will do to me G-d and so will happen to me if prior to sunset I will eat any bread or taste anything.” The entire nation and all of Israel recognized the truth of his words, and it found favor in their eyes, as everything that the King did was found to be good in the eyes of the nation. The entire nation and all of the Jewish people knew on that day that it was not from the king’s edict to put Avner the son of Ner to death.
  • The king said to his servants, “You should know that a prince and great man fell from amongst Israel today. Now, although that I was anointed as the king, I am too softhearted to take vengeance against the children of Tzeruyah. However, G-d will pay back evil for the evil that he did.”


[1] Rashi 3:3; Radak ibid

[2] Metzudos Dovid 3:3

[3] Rashi 3:5

[4] Ralbag 3:5; See Radak ibid

[5] Rashi 3:6

[6] Metzudos Dovid 3:7

[7] Rashi 3:8

[8] Metzudos Dovid 3:9

[9] Rashi 3:27

[10] Rashi 3:27


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