The Wise Woman of Abel Beth Maacah

Points and Scripture for  Bible Study September 26, 2015

2 Samuel 20:2, 6-7, 14-22

  • Rather than passively waiting for someone else to save her city, she had the wisdom and courage to act quickly and decisively
  • All the men of Israel deserted King David to follow Sheba, son of Bicri
  • David said to Abishai, “Take your master’s men and pursue him, or he will find fortified cities and escape from us.”
  • All the troops with Joab came and besieged Sheba in Abel Beth Maacah.
  • A wise woman bargained with Joab to save the city of Abel Beth Maacah. She bargained for the lives of the inhabitants of Abel Beth Maacah.
  • Joab acknowledged that his troops were not trying to destroy the City of Abel Beth Maacah. They were only after Sheba, son of Bivri.
  • The woman said to Joab, “his head will be thrown to you from the wall.”
  • Then the woman went to all of the people with her wise advice.
  • They cut off the head of Sheba son of Bicri and threw it to Joab.
  • Joab sounded the trumpet, and his men dispersed from the city, each returning to his home.

2 Samuel 20:2, 6-7, 14-22

2 So all the men of Israel deserted David to follow Sheba son of Bicri. But the men of Judah stayed by their king all the way from the Jordan to Jerusalem.

6 David said to Abishai, “Now Sheba son of Bicri will do us more harm than Absalom did. Take your master’s men and pursue him, or he will find fortified cities and escape us.

7 So Joab’s men and the Kerithites and Pelethites and all the mighty warriors went out under the command of Abishai. They marched out from Jerusalem to pursue Sheba son of Bicri.

14 Sheba passed through all the tribes of Israel to Abel Beth Maakah and through the entire region of the Bikrites,[b] who gathered together and followed him. 15 All the troops with Joab came and besieged Sheba in Abel Beth Maakah. They built a siege ramp up to the city, and it stood against the outer fortifications. While they were battering the wall to bring it down, 16 a wise woman called from the city, “Listen! Listen! Tell Joab to come here so I can speak to him.” 17 He went toward her, and she asked, “Are you Joab?”

“I am,” he answered.

She said, “Listen to what your servant has to say.”

“I’m listening,” he said.

18 She continued, “Long ago they used to say, ‘Get your answer at Abel,’ and that settled it. 19 We are the peaceful and faithful in Israel. You are trying to destroy a city that is a mother in Israel. Why do you want to swallow up the Lord’s inheritance?”

20 “Far be it from me!” Joab replied, “Far be it from me to swallow up or destroy! 21 That is not the case. A man named Sheba son of Bikri, from the hill country of Ephraim, has lifted up his hand against the king, against David. Hand over this one man, and I’ll withdraw from the city.”

The woman said to Joab, “His head will be thrown to you from the wall.”

22 Then the woman went to all the people with her wise advice, and they cut off the head of Sheba son of Bikri and threw it to Joab. So he sounded the trumpet, and his men dispersed from the city, each returning to his home. And Joab went back to the king in Jerusalem.The second of two “wise women” portrayed in 2 Samuel lived in a fortified city in northern Israel. More straightforwardly than the story of the wise woman of Tekoa (2 Samuel 14), this narrative depicts what must have been typical leadership activities of a woman in this accepted position against the larger political tensions of David’s reign.

  1. The NIV Study Bible, Zondervan, 1995. (All Scriptures)
  2. Women of the Bible, 52 Bible Studies for Individuals and Groups, Jean E. Syswerda, Zondervan 1999.
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