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The Rivalry between Abner and Joab

II Samuel 2:12-32

Victor M. Eskew


1.      Outline the text:


i.                    THE CONFLICT AT THE POOL OF GIBEON (II Sam 2:12-17)

ii.                  THE CONFRONTATION BETWEEN ABNER AND ASAHEL (II Sam. 2:18-23)

iii.                THE CESSATION OF THE BATTLE (II Sam. 2:24-28)

iv.                THE COUNT OF THOSE WHO DIED IN BATTLE (II Sam. 2:29-32)


2.      Who went out from Mahanaim to Gibeon? (II Sam. 2:12)


And Abner the son of Ner, and the servants of Ish-bosheth the son of Saul, went out from Mahanaim to Gibeon.


A.    Aber the son of Ner


B.      The servants of Ish-bosheth


3.      Who went to meet Abner “by the pool of Gibeon”? (II Sam. 2:13)


And Joab the son of Zeruiah, and the servants of David, went out, and met together by the pool of Gibeon, and they sat down, the one on the one side of the pool, and the other on the other side of the pool.


A.    Joab the son of Zeruiah


B.      The servants of David


4.      Who is Joab? (II Sam. 2:13)


A.    He is one of three sons of Zeruiah (II Sam. 2:13; 8:16; 14:1).

1.      Zeruiah was David’s half-sister.

2.      Thus, Joab was David’s nephew.


B.      He was the general of David’s army (II Sam. 5:8; I Chron. 11:6; 27:34).


5.      At the pool, what did Abner say to Joab? (II Sam. 2:14)


And Abner said to Joab, Let the young men now arise, and play before us.  And Joab said, Let them arise.


6.      Define:  play (II Sam. 2:14)


A.    Strong (7832):  to laugh, to be in sport


B.      BDB:  to laugh, play, mock, to laugh usually in derision


C.     Barnes:  “Here, the word is applied to the serious game of war…” (e-sword.com).


7.      How many men from each side were going to fight? (II Sam. 2:15)


Then there arose and went over by number twelve of Benjamin, which pertained to Ish-bosheth the son of Saul, and twelve of the servants of David.


A.    There were twelve of Benjamin and twelve of the servants of David.


B.      This made up a group of twenty-four men who would battle against each other.


C.     NOTE:  This was often done in order to spare entire armies from being slain in battle.  A few fighting men could determine an outcome for the entire nation.


8.      What happened during this initial encounter? (II Sam. 2:16)


And they caught every one his fellow by the head, and thrust his sword in his fellow’s side; so they fell down together…


A.    All of them were thrust in the side with their opponents’ swords.


B.      All twenty-four men fell in battle that day.


9.      What was the name of the placed called (II Sam. 2:16)


…wherefore that place was called Helkath-hazzurim, which is in Gibeon.


A.    It was called Halkath-hazzurim.


B.      Various meanings have been given for this name.

1.      The field of the sharp edges or blades

2.      The portion of the mighty

3.      The inheritance of those who were slain


C.     I am reminded of a pond in Shiloh that is still called “the pond of blood,” or “the bloody pond.”


10.  T – F    Abner was victorious that day in battle. (II Sam. 2:17)


And there was a very sore battle that day; and Abner was beaten, and the men of Israel, before the servants of David.


A.    False


B.      The text says:  “…and Abner was beaten, and the men of Israel…”


C.     What was attempted to be thwarted happened anyway.  A greater battle ensued.  Abner’s forces were not successful in the battle.


11.  How many sons of Zeruiah were there?   Name them.  (II Sam. 2:18)


And there were three sons of Zeruiah there, Joab, and Abishai, and Asahel…


A.    Three


B.      Joab, Abishai, and Asahel           Remember:  all of these individuals would have been

nephews of David.


12.  Which one of the sons was “as light of foot as a wild roe”? (II Sam. 2:18)


…and Asahel was as light of foot as a wild roe.


A.    Asahel


B.      A roe was either a gazelle or antelope and was extremely fast when fleeing from its foe.


13.  Who did Asahel pursue after? (II Sam. 2:19)


And Asahel pursued after Abner; and in going he turned not to the right hand nor to the left from following Abner.


A.    He pursued after Abner.


B.      Two interesting points:

1.      Why was Abner fleeing?  He was supposed to be the commander of the troops.

2.      If the commander can be killed, the enemy suffers a major loss.


14.  When Abner looked behind him, what did he ask? (II Sam. 2:20)


Then Abner looked behind him, and said, Art thou Asahel?  And he answered, I am.


A.    Art thou Asahel?


B.      Most likely Abner could tell this was Asahel because of his speed.  However, when arrayed in battle attire, he could be mistaken.  Thus, he asked to make certain of his identity.


15.  What did Abner encourage Asahel to do? (II Sam. 2:21)


And Abner said to him, turn thee aside to the right hand or to thy left, and lay thee hold on one of the young men, and take his amour…


A.    Abner encouraged Asahel to cease following him and turn and slay one of the other Israelites who were fleeing as well.  He could take his armor and have his trophy from the battle.


16.  T – F    Asahel quit following Abner at that point (II Sam. 2:21)


…But Asahel would not turn aside from following of him.


A.    False.


B.      Asahel was determined to take the armor of Abner in battle.  An inferior trophy would not be sufficient.


17.  T – F    Abner wanted to kill Asahel? (II Sam. 2:22)


And Abner said again to Asahel, turn thee aside from following me:  wherefore should I smite thee to the ground?

A.    False


B.      This is the second warning that Abner issues forth to Asahel.  If he refused from following after Abher, he would have no choice but to fight.  Abner knew his skills and his strength.  He was certain that he could be able to kill the young Asahel.


18.  “…how then should I hold up my face to Joab thy brother ?” (II Sam. 2:22)


A.    Oftentimes there was a deep respect between the commanders of opposing armies.


B.      Abner knew Joab well.  If he had to kill his brother, it would be difficult for him to be able to look Joab in the face.


19.  How did Abner kill Asahel? (II Sam. 2:23)


Howbeit he refused to turn aside:  wherefore Abner with the hinder end of the spear smote him under

the fifth rib, that the spear came out behind him; and he fell down there, and died in the same place…


A.    He smote him with his spear under the fifth rib and pierced him through.


B.      A spear had two ends:  the metal tip on one end that was primarily used in battle and the butt end which was made of wood but sharpened so it could be placed into the ground.  It was the butt end, or hinder end, that Abner used against Asahel.


20.  What did people do when they came to the place where Asahel was killed? (II Sam. 2:23)


…and it came to pass that as many as came to the place where Asahel fell down and died stood still.


A.    When they came to the place, they stood still.


B.      Asahel was a well-known fighting man.  His speed probably brought him popularity and fame.  His death caused individuals to stop and express their respect and sorrow.


21.  Who was also in pursuit of Abner? (II Sam. 2:24)


Joab also and Abishai pursued after Abner…


A.    Joab and Abishai, the brothers of Asahel


22.  Where were they when the sun went down on them? (II Sam. 2:24)


…and the sun went down when they were come to the hill of Ammah, that lieth before Giah by the way of the wilderness in Gibeon.


A.    The hill of Ammah


B.      The exact location of this hill is not known today.


23.  Who gathered themselves together with Abner and stood on the top of a hill? (II Sam. 2:25)


And the children of Benjamin gathered themselves together after Abner, and became one troop, and stood on the top of a hill.


A.    The children of Benjamin gathered themselves together.


B.      Israel was winning the battle against Abner.  Abner has now killed Joab’s brother.  Joab is the commander of David’s army.  With Joab very near, another battle is very likely to ensue.  Thus, the Benjamites, the kinsmen of Saul, are ready to fight.


24.  What two questions did Abner pose to Joab? (II Sam. 2:26)


Then Abner called to Joab, and said, Shall the sword devour forever?  Knowest thou not that it will be bitterness in the latter end, ere thou bid the people return from following their brethren?


A.    Shall the sword devour forever?


B.      Knowest thou not that it will be bitterness in the latter end?


C.     Question:  Is there a time when two forces should call an end to the fighting? 

1.      Fighting is designed to kill and destroy?

2.      There is a bitter end to all strife.  Not only would troops be lost, but Aber and Joab could lose their lives as well.

3.      James 4:14-16


But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.  This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, and devilish.  For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.


25.  Had Abner failed to speak, what would have occurred? (II Sam. 2:27)


And Joab said, As God liveth unless thou hadst spoken, surely then in the morning the people had gone up every one from following his brethren.


A.    Joab makes certain that he put the blame for the events of that day squarely on the shoulders of Abner.  It was he who had spoken to bring the forces into conflict (See I Sam. 2:14).


B.      It seems that Joab’s initial coming out was in merely a defensive position to watch the movement of Abner.  The invitation to fight, however, caused the bloodshed on that day.  Otherwise, Joab might have just removed his forces from the battlefield. 


26.  T – F    When Joab blew the trumpet, however, his forces attacked Abner and his troops. (II

Sam. 2:28).


So Joab blew a trumpet, and all the people stood still, and pursued after Israel no more, neither fought they any more.


A.    False.  He blew the trumpet and the battle ceased.


27.  To what place did Abner and his men return? (II Sam. 2:29)


And Abner and his men walked all night through the plain, and passed over Jordan, and when through all Bithron, and they came to Mahanaim.


A.    They returned to Mahanaim, the place where Ish-bosheth was made king.


28.  How many of David’s men perished in the fight, excluding Asahel? (II Sam. 2:30)


And Joab returned from following Abner:  and when he had gathered all the people together, there lacked of David’s servants nineteen men and Asahel.


A.    Nineteen men perished, excluding Asahel.


B.      With Asahel included, David lost twenty of his men.


29.  How many men did Abner and Benjamin lose? (II Sam. 2:31)


But the servants of David had smitten of Benjamin, and of Abner’s men, so that three hundred three score men died.


A.    Three hundred sixty men died from Abner’s army.


B.      For every one man of Judah that died, eighteen men of Abner’s forces died.


30.  Where was Asahel buried? (II Sam. 2:32)


And they took up Asahel, and buried him in the sepulcher of his father, which was in Bethlehem…


A.    He was buried in his father’s tomb in Bethlehem.


31.  To what city did Joab and his men return? (II Sam. 2:32)


…And Joab and his men went all night, and they came to Hebron at break of day.


A.    They came to Hebron.  This was presently the capital for David’ monarchy.



























The Rift between Ish-bosheth and Abner

II Samuel 3:1-21


Victor M. Eskew


  1. Outline the text


i.                    II SAMUEL 3:1

ii.                  II SAMUEL 3:2-5

iii.                II SAMUEL 3:6-11

iv.                II SAMUEL 3:12-16

v.                  II SAMUEL 3:17-21


  1. There was a long war between which two houses? (II Sam. 3:1)


  1. Whose house waxed stronger? (II Sam. 3:1)


  1. In what city were the first six sons of David born? (II Sam. 3:2)


  1. Who was born to Ahinoam the Jezreelitess? (II Sam. 3:2)


  1. Which son was born to Abigail? (II Sam. 3:3)


  1. Absalom’s mother was Maacah.  Who was she the daughter of? (II Sam. 3:3)


  1. Who was Adonijah’s mother? (II Sam. 3:4)


  1. What son was born to Abital? (II Sam. 3:4)


  1. Who was Ithream’s mother? (II Sam. 3:5)


  1. While there was war between the house of Saul and the house of David, who made himself strong for the house of Saul? (II Sam. 3:6)


  1. Who had gone in unto Saul’s concubine, Rizpah? (II Sam. 3:7)


  1. Who confronted Abner about Saul’s concubine? (II Sam. 3:7)


  1. T – F  Abner was kind when he was confronted by Ish-bosheth. (II Sam. 3:8)


  1. “Then was Abner wroth for the words of Ish-bosheth, and said, Am I a _____________  __________” (II Sam. 3:8).


  1. To whom had Abner shown kindness when he opposed Judah? (II Sam. 3:8)








  1. What had Abner not done to Ish-bosheth that he could have done? (II Sam. 3:8)


  1. What is the meaning of II Samuel 3:9?


  1. T – F  Abner resolved to translate the house of Saul to David’s rule (II Sam. 3:10).


  1. Why didn’t Ish-bosheth respond to Abner? (II Sam. 3:11)


  1. What did Abner want David to make with him? (II Sam. 3:12)


  1. Define:  league (II Sam. 3:12)


  1. Abner could not see David’s face until he brought what person to David? (II Sam. 3:13)


  1. Who did David send messengers to demanding that Michal be delivered to him? (II Sam. 3:14).


  1. T – F  Ish-bosheth refused to honor David’s request. (II Sam. 3:15).


  1. Who had become the husband of Michal? (II Sam. 3:15)


  1. How did Phaltiel react when Michal was taken from him? (II Sam. 3:16)


  1. Who sent Phaltiel back home? (II Sam. 3:16)


  1. Who did Abner contact first about aligning Israel with David? (II Sam. 3:17)


  1. T – F  The elders of Israel had wanted David to be king over them in times past.  (II Sam. 3:17)


  1. What had the Lord spoken about David? (II Sam. 3:18)


  1. Which tribe did Abner speak specifically to? (II Sam. 3:19)


  1. T – F  Abner told David that all seemed good to Israel, but not to the house of Benjamin. (II Sam.



  1. How many men did Abner bring with him to see David in Hebron? (II Sam. 3:20)


  1. T – F  David prepared Abner and the men a feast. (II Sam. 3:20)


  1. After the feast, what did Abner say he would do? (II Sam. 3:21)


  1. “And David sent Abner away:  and he want in ______________________” (II Sam. 3:21).