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Chapter 12

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Ver. 1. Unto him, after the birth of the child. A whole year had nearly elapsed, and David continued blind and impenitent. The spirit of prophecy had left him; and, though he was clear-sighted, and equitable enough to punish the faults of others, he could not discern his own picture, till Nathan had removed the veil. The prophet acted with the utmost prudence, and did not condemn the king till he had pronounced sentence on himself. It is commonly supposed that the interview was private. St. Chrysostom believes that the chief lords of the court were present; which would enhance the discretion of Nathan, as well as David's humility. (Calmet)

Ver. 3.

Daughter. All these expressions tended to shew the affection of the owner for this pet lamb. (Haydock) --- In Arabia, one of the finest is commonly fed in the house along with the children. (Bochart, Anim. T. i. B. ii. 46.) --- It is not necessary that every word of this parable should have been verified in Bethsabee. (Calmet) --- Many things are usually added for ornament. (Menochius)

Ver. 4.

To him. This wanton cruelty caused David to pronounce him deserving of death; as simple theft was punished with only a four-fold restitution, Exodus xxii. 1. Judges sometimes diminish, and at other times increase, the severity of the law, according to the dispositions of the offenders, which lawgivers could not exactly foresee. (Calmet)

Ver. 6.

Fold. Septuagint, "seven-fold," which Grabe corrects by the Hebrew. (Haydock) --- David lost four of his sons; the first born of Bethsabee, Amnon, Absalon, and Adonias: and saw his daughter Thamar, (Calmet) and his ten inferior wives, dishonoured, in punishment of his crime. (Menochius)

Ver. 7.

The man, against whom thou hast pronounced sentence, and who has treated thy neighbour with still less pity. (Haydock)

-----Mutato nomine de te

Fabula narratur.----- (Horace)

Ver. 8.

Wives. We know of none that David married. But, as king, he enjoyed alone that privilege. (Grotius) (Chap. ii. 7., and xvi. 21.) --- Unto thee. Hebrew, "I would have given thee such and such." (Calmet) --- Septuagint, "I will moreover give thee like unto these;" a continuation of prosperity. (Haydock) --- This singular love, which God was still disposed to manifest unto David, touched his heart with peculiar force. (Salien)

Ver. 10.

House. What a dismal scene opens itself to our view during the remaining part of David's reign! (Haydock) --- Scarcely one of his successors was free from war; even Solomon was disturbed by the rebellion of Jeroboam, &c., and many of David's family and descendants came to an untimely end, ver. 6. (Calmet) --- Six sons of Josaphat, all Joram's, except one, Josias, the children of Sedecias, &c., 4 Kings xxv., &c. (Worthington)

Ver. 11.

I will raise, &c. All these evils, inasmuch as they were punishments, came upon Daivd by a just judgment of God, for his sin; and therefore God says, I will raise, &c. But inas much as they were sins, on the part of Absalom and his associates, God was not the author of them, but only permitted them. (Challoner) --- God permitted the wicked prince to succeed for some time, that he might punish David. (Calmet) --- Neighbour, most dearly beloved. To be treated ill by such a one, is doubly severe, Psalm liv. 15. (Menochius)

Ver. 12.

Sun, publicly, chap. xvi. 22. How abominable soever this conduct of an unnatural son must have been to God, he says, I will do this; because, when he might have prevented it by a more powerful grace, or by the death of the delinquent, he suffered him to carry his infernal project into execution. (Haydock)

Ver. 13.

Sinned. His confession was sincere, and very different from that of Saul, 1 Kings xv. 24. "The expression was the same; but God saw the difference of the heart." (St. Augustine, contra Faust. xxii. 27.) --- Sin. He has remitted the fault and the eternal punishment, and he has greatly diminished the temporal chastisement, and will not inflict instant death, as he seemed to have threatened, ver. 10. (Calmet) --- "The speedy remission shewed the greatness of the king's repentance." (St. Ambrose, Apol. 2.)

Ver. 14.

Occasion. Literally, "made" almost, in the same sense, as God threatened to do, what was effected by Absalom, ver. 12. David did not co-operate with the malice of infidels; but he was responsible for it: in as much as he had committed an unlawful action, which gave them occasion to blaspheme God, as if he had not been able to foresee this scandalous transaction. Thus God and religion are often vilified, on account of the misconduct of those who have the happiness to be well informed, but do not live up to their profession: but this mode of argumentation is very fallacious and uncandid. It ought, however, to be a caution to the servants of the true God, never to do any thing which may have such fatal consequences; and alienate the minds of weak men for the truth. --- Die. Thus infidels would see, that God did not suffer David to pass quite unpunished. (Haydock)

Ver. 15.

Of. Hebrew, "it was sick" (Calmet) of a fever.

Ver. 16.

A fast, (jejunavit jejunio) denotes, with more than ordinary rigour. (Salien) --- By himself. Hebrew, "he went in, and lay all night upon the ground." (Haydock)

Ver. 18.

Day. After his birth, when he had received circumcision; (Salien) or on the 7th day since the commencement of his malady. (Calmet; Menochius)

Ver. 23.

To me. No instance of any one being raised from the dead had yet occurred; though David did not disbelieve its possibility. (Menochius)

Ver. 24.

Wife. She had partaken in his affliction and repentance. The Jews say that David told her the divine oracle, which is mentioned [in] 3 Kings i. 13, 17., that her next son should succeed to the throne. Salien (the year of the world 3000) supposes that he was conceived in May, two months after the death of Bethsabee's first-born, and came into the world about he time of the Passover. --- Solomon, "the pacific." See 1 Paralipomenon xxii. 9. (Menochius)

Ver. 25.

Amiable to the Lord. Or beloved of the Lord. In Hebrew, Yedideya. (Challoner) --- Loved him, is not expressed in Hebrew, "because of the Lord." (Haydock) --- Theodotion, "in the word, or agreeably to, the order of the Lord." Solomon never went by the name which God here gives him, (Calmet) except in this place. (Menochius) --- It shews the gratuitous predilection which God had for him; but affords no proof of his predestination to glory, of which there is too much reason to doubt. (Calmet)

Ver. 27.

The city of waters. Rabbath, the royal city of the Ammonites, was called the city of waters, from being encompassed with waters. (Challoner) See chap. v. 8. --- The Hebrew in the preceding verse seems to insinuate, (Haydock) that "he had taken the royal city." But he was only on the point of doing it, or had, perhaps, made himself master of some part of it. Here the Hebrew, "I have taken," may be explained in the same sense, unless the city of waters were the lower part of Rabbath, lying on the Jaboc. Junius translates, "He cut off the waters, which entered the city;" and Josephus favours this explanation. It seems the siege lasted about two years. (Calmet) --- Antiochus took this city, by depriving the inhabitants of water. (Polybius v.)

Ver. 28.

Take it. The higher, and more impregnable part; which honour Joab reserved for David.

Ver. 30.

King. Hebrew, Malcam, "their king." Moloc, "king," or the chief idol of the Ammonites. It was forbidden to use the ornaments of the idols on Chanaan, but not of other nations. This crown might be worth a talent, on account of the gold and precious stones; (1 Paralipomenon xx. 2.; Sanchez; Bochart,) or it might weigh so much as almost 87 pounds, (Calmet) or above 113 pounds English. (Haydock) --- such immence crowns were sometimes suspended for ornament, over the throne; as Benjamin of Tudela says was done by the emperor Commenes. Pliny describes one of nine pounds; and Athenæus (v. 8,) another of 80 cubits, or 40 yards (Haydock) in circumference. (Calmet) --- The idol, or the king of Ammon, (Menochius) might have one of the like nature, suspended. The Rabbins say David caused it to hand in the air by means of a load-stone; as if it would attract gold! (Calmet)

Ver. 31.

Sawed. Hebrew, "he put them under saws, and under rollers of iron, and under knives," &c. (Haydock) --- The Jews say that Isaias was killed by being sawed asunder; to which punishment St. Paul alludes, Hebrews xi. 37. (Menochius) --- Brick-kilns, or furnaces, Psalm xx. 10. (Muis) --- David and his companions were thrown into the fiery furnace, Daniel iii. 6, 11., and Esther xiii. 7. (Calmet) --- Some condemn David of excessive cruelty on this occasion. (Tirinus; Sanctius) --- But the Scripture represents his conduct as irreproachable, except in the affair of Urias; (3 Kings xv. 5,) and at this distance of time, we know not the motives which might have actuated him to treat his enemy with such severity. The Ammonites had probably exercised similar cruelties on his subjects. See 1 Kings xi. 2., and Amos i. 13. (Calmet) --- They had shamefully violated the law of nations, and had stirred up various kings against David. (Menochius) --- Salien blames Joab for what may seem too cruel. But, though he was barbarous and vindictive, we need not condemn him on this occasion, no more than his master; as we are not to judge of former times by our own manners. (Haydock) --- War was then carried on with great cruelty. (Calmet)
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