OU TORAHDedicated by the Jacobs and Chill Families in Memory of Harold and Pearl Jacobs
Dora Bas Rivka Silver O'H
The Stage is Set for a Confrontation
Achitofel's next advice: he wanted to gather 12,000 troops to pursue David in order to strike him down while he was tired from fleeing and ill-prepared. With this strategy, Achitofel was sure there would be minimal casualties. Avshalom liked the idea, but he asked Chushai for his input.
Chushai, who was secretly working in David's best interests, might not have been able to forestall the incident with the concubines, but he did feel he could sway this course of action. "You know that your father and his men are skilled warriors - they won't be caught by surprise. When they start to get the upper hand on your army, the rest will become discouraged. I suggest you take the time to gather a massive force from all over the country, then eradicate his army altogether. If he takes refuge in a city, that city should be razed to the ground." G-d caused Avshalom to prefer Chushai's plan to Achitofel's.
Chushai then told Tzadok and Evyasar, the Kohanim ("priests") about both plans, so that David could prepare. They sent Achimaatz and Jonathan, sons of Evyasar to David, but they were spotted en route. Avshalom's men went to capture them, but they were hidden by a farmer's wife in Bachurim. They hid in a well, which she covered with a blanket. She then spread grain out on the blanket, as if she had been drying them. The soldiers went right past the blanket, not even realizing that it covered a well. The woman told the soldiers that the messengers had headed off in the direction of the Jordan river. The soldiers never found them and they had to return to Jerusalem empty-handed.
The messengers safely reached David and gave him warning, so he moved his camp safely across the Jordan.
When Achitofel saw that Avshalom had accepted Chushai's advice over his own, he got his affairs in order and hanged himself. He saw which was the wind was blowing and knew that David would be restored, marking him a traitor. He opted to take his own life, rather than be executed upon David's return.
Avshalom's army crossed the Jordan. His general was a man named Amasa. He'll become important in a few chapters.
Meanwhile, a number of locals, including a man named Barzilai, brought David food and supplies. (Again, we'll hear more about Barzilai in a little while.)
A short Insight into II Samuel, Chapter 17In our chapter, we learn of the plans that Achitofel shared with Avshalom to chase and kill King David.
Chazal teach us, interestingly, that Achitofel was a good friend, teacher and confidant of King David. They used to learn Torah together. Nonetheless, he ended up being the biggest enemy of King David.
The gemora in Pesachim (59b) teaches, “Greater is the hatred of the unlearned [Jew] for a Torah scholar than the hatred of a non- Jew of a Jew, their wives' [hatred] more than them and someone who learned and went off the path's [hatred] more than them.”
In a similar vein, the Medresh Tanchuma tells us, “All over we find brothers hating each other: Kayin and Hevel, Yitchak and Yishmael, Yaakov and Eisav and Yosef and his brothers.”
R' Tuvia L'sitzin explains that this phenomenon occurs when two people, like a husband and wife or two brothers have a bond between them. When one of them exhibits behavior not expected in such a relationship, friction is created. However, strong hatred like this is only created between people with close bonds. Yes, it is of course true that people who are distant from each other can be upset with each other. Despite this, the strongest hatred is rarely found in these relationships. Only when there is a close bond between to individuals is there always potential for the strongest levels of hatred when one party offends the other.
Therefore, specifically because Achitofel was so close to King David could he turn into King David's biggest enemy when he felt that King David was not fit to be king. Thus, even the great wisdom of an Achitofel can be corrupted because of the hatred he felt for King David.