II Samuel – Chapter 14

"Why'd You Set My Field On Fire?"

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

Yoav saw how much David missed Avshalom and he contrived a plan to reunite them. He hired an actress from Tekoa to “role play” before King David.

The woman came dressed in mourners’ clothes and told David that she was a widow who had had two sons. But they argued and one killed the other. Now the rest of the family wanted to lynch the remaining son. This, of course, would leave her completely bereft of husband and sons. David said he would order that no one may touch the surviving son. The woman then asked for permission to speak freely.

Clearly what she was hinting at, was that Amnon was gone. Should David be deprived of Avshalom, also? David, being pretty savvy, asked, “Did Yoav put you up to this?” She admitted that he did, so David turned to Yoav and said, “Fine. Go to Geshur and bring Avshalom back to Jerusalem. He can live here safely, but I won’t see him.”

At this point the Navi tells us that Avshalom was an especially handsome man with an exceptional head of hair that he would have cut once a year. (His hair will be important later on.)

Avshalom lived in Jerusalem for two years without seeing his father. He sent for Yoav several times, but Yoav wouldn’t come. (He knew Avshalom wanted him to intervene, but Yoav thought it was a hopeless cause.) Finally, Avshalom told his servants, “Go and set Yoav’s field on fire.” THAT got Yoav’s attention! “Why’d you set my field on fire?” he asked. Avshalom asked, “Why’d you bring me back from Geshur if my father’s never going to see me? What’s the point? Let him see me! If I’m guilty, let him execute me!”

Yoav told David what Avshalom had said. David agreed to see him and they were reconciled.

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