Then Jonadab, the same person who had helped Amnon to commit his crime, said, “Let not my lord say (or think) that they have slain all the young men the king's sons, but Amnon alone is dead; for it was laid upon the mouth of Absalom from the day that he forced his sister Tamar.” The meaning is either “they might see it (the murder of Amnon) by his mouth,” or “they might gather it from what he said.” שִׂימָה הָיְתָה: it was a thing laid down, i.e., determined (vid., Exo 21:13). The subject, viz., the thing itself, or the intended murder of Amnon, may easily be supplied from the context. אִם כִּי is undoubtedly used in the sense of “no but.” The negation is implied in the thought: Let the king not lay it to heart, that they say all the king's sons are dead; it is not so, but only Amnon is dead. Jonadab does not seem to speak from mere conjecture; he is much too sure of what he says. He might possibly have heard expressions from Absalom's lips which made him certain as to how the matter stood.
“And Absalom fled.” This statement follows upon 2Sa 13:29. When the king's sons fled upon their mules, Absalom also took to flight.
2Sa 13:30-33 are a parenthesis, in which the writer describes at once the impression made upon the king and his court by the report of what Absalom had done. The apparently unsuitable position in which this statement is placed may be fully explained from the fact, that the flight of Absalom preceded the arrival of the rest of the sons at the king's palace. The alteration which Böttcher proposes to make in the text, so as to remove this statement altogether on account of its unsuitable position, is proved to be inadmissible by the fact that the account of Absalom's flight cannot possibly be left out, as reference is made to it again afterwards (2Sa 13:37, 2Sa 13:38, “Absalom had fled”). The other alterations proposed by Thenius in the text of 2Sa 13:34, 2Sa 13:37, 2Sa 13:38, are just as arbitrary and out of place, and simply show that this critic was ignorant of the plan adopted by the historian. His plan is the following: To the account of the murder of Amnon, and the consequent flight of the rest of the king's sons whom Absalom had invited to the feast (2Sa 13:29), there is first of all appended a notice of the report which preceded the fugitives and reached the king's ears in an exaggerated form, together with the impression which it made upon the king, and the rectification of that report by Jonadab (2Sa 13:30-33). Then follows the statement that Absalom fled, also the account of the arrival of the king's sons (2Sa 13:34-36). After this we have a statement as to the direction in which Absalom fled, the king's continued mourning, and the length of time that Absalom's banishment lasted (2Sa 13:37, 2Sa 13:38), and finally a remark as to David's feelings towards Absalom (2Sa 13:39).
Jonadab's assertion, that Amnon only had been slain, was very speedily confirmed (2Sa 13:34). The young man, the spy, i.e., the young man who was looking out for the return of those who had been invited to the feast, “lifted up his eyes and saw,” i.e., saw as he looked out into the distance, “much people (a crowd of men) coming from the way behind him along the side of the mountain.” אַחֲרָיו מִדֶּרֶךְ, ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ ὄπισθεν αὐτοῦ (lxx), per iter devium (Vulg.), is obscure; and אַהַר, “behind,” is probably to be understood as meaning “to the west:” from the way at the back of the spy, i.e., to the west of his station. The following words, הָהָר מִצַּד, also remain obscure, as the position of the spy is not given, so that the allusion may be to a mountain in the north-west of Jerusalem quite as well as to one on the west.
(Note: The lxx have very comprehensive additions here: first of all, after ἐκ πλευρᾶς τοῦ ὄρους, they have the more precise definition ἐν τῇ καταβάσει, and then the further clause, “and the spy came and announced to the king,” Ἄνδρας ὲώρακα ἐκ τῆς ὁδοῦ τῆς ὠρωνῆν (?) ἐκ μέρους τοῦ ὅρους, partly to indicate more particularly the way by which the king's sons came, and partly to fill up a supposed gap in the account. But they did not consider that the statement in 2Sa 13:35, “and Jonadab said to the king, Behold, the king's sons are coming,” does not square with these additions; for if the spy had already informed the king that his sons were coming, there was no necessity for Jonadab to do it again. This alone is sufficient to show that the additions made by the lxx are nothing but worthless glosses, introduced according to subjective conjectures and giving no foundation for alterations of the text.)
When the spy observed the crowd of men approaching, Jonadab said to the king (2Sa 13:35), “Behold, the king's sons are coming: as thy servant said, so has it come to pass.”