Last Updated on May 24, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 168
Context: Israel is divided by civil war after the death of her first king, Saul. The kingdom of Israel is technically ruled by Ishbosheth, the son of Saul. The separate kingdom of Judah is ruled by David, whom the prophet Samuel had secretly anointed years before when King Saul's ineffectiveness first became apparent. King Ishbosheth argues over one of Saul's concubines with Abner, who has been one of his strong supporters. Abner, in his anger, decides to give his loyalty to David; David and Abner formulate a treaty uniting Israel and Judah with David as king. David's hot-tempered nephew Joab, jealous because he has not been consulted, pursues Abner and kills him. David, realizing that the alliance between Israel and Judah is very shaky, gives Abner an elaborate burial and assures everyone that Joab alone is responsible for the death of this great individual:
And the king said unto his servants, Know ye not that there is a prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel?