JOAB: One of the most notable contemporaries of David, son of Zeruiah, sister of David, and brother of Abishai and Asahel (II Sam. ii. 18). He first appears in II Sam. ii. 13 as one of David's captains in the war with Ish-bosheth, though I Sam. xxii. 1 implies that he had then been long a companion of David. In this war Abner, the leader of Ish-bosheth's forces, slew Asahel, Joab's brother, causing a blood feud with Joab, who avenged his brother by killing Abner, but under such circumstances as to involve David in the suspicion of playing Abner false, since he was treating with Abner for the union of the northern tribes under his sway (II Sam. ii.-iii.). Joab was so powerful in the army that David had to confess his inability to punish Joab for the murder and the consequences which might have resulted (II Sam. iii. 39). I Chron. xi. 4-8 makes Joab win his position of leader by capturing the fortress of Jerusalem; but this does not agree with II Sam. v. 6-9 and the context, according to which Joab was already a leader.

According to II. Sam viii. 16, when David became king of all Israel, to Joab was given command of the army, but since military achievements thereafter were ascribed to David himself, the name of Joab appears only occasionally. He waged a bloody war in Edom and drove the Edomitic king in exile to Egypt (I Kings xi. 15-17); defeated the Aramean allies of the Ammonites (II Sam. x. 6-14); executed the command of David to have Uriah killed in a skirmish (II Sam. xi. 14-27); and yielded to David the glory of a hard-earned victory over the capital of the Ammonites (II Sam. xii. 26-31). It was Joab who, by employing a stratagem carried through by a wise woman of Tekoa, persuaded David to recall from exile Absalom, who had killed his brother Amnon, and two years later secured a formal reconciliation between father and son (II Sam. xiii. 39-xiv. 33). In the rebellion of Absalom Joab remained true to David, killed the unfilial rebel, and advised the king wisely when the latter in mourning for his son was likely to alienate the affections of his people. He defeated an attempt of David to appoint Amasa in his place (II Sam. xvii.-xx.), killing Amasa in the war which arose over the rebellion of Sheba and thus raising another blood-feud. He opposed the census of the people ordered by David (II Sam. xiv. 1-9). At the end of David's reign Joab favored Adonijah as the rightful heir to the throne, and thereby incurred the enmity of Solomon, who was designated David's successor and was favored by the party of Nathan. For this and earlier offenses Joab was slain at the altar by command of Solomon (I Kings ii. 18-34).


BIBLIOGRAPHY: The commentaries on Samuel and Kings and the relevant sections in the works on the history of Israel (named under AHAB); DB, ii. 858-859; EB, ii. 2460-2462; JE, vii. 187-189.


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