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AMASA (ă-mā’sa, Heb. ‘ămāsā’)

Captain of the rebel forces under Absalom. According to 2Sam.17.25, his father was Ithra the Israelite, whereas he is called Jether the Ishmaelite in 1Chr.2.17. In either case Abigail, sister of Zeruiah and David, was his mother, making him nephew to David and cousin to Absalom. Following the defeat of the rebels under Amasa and the death of Absalom by Joab in the wood of Ephraim (2Sam.18.6ff.), David made Amasa captain of the army in place of Joab (2Sam.19.13). When Sheba and the men of Israel rebelled, David set three days for Amasa to assemble the men of Judah (2Sam.20.4). Amasa delayed beyond the set time, so David sent Abishai, brother of Joab, and a body of armed men after Sheba. Amasa joined forces with Abishai at “the great rock in Gibeon,” where Joab, in feigned greeting, “took Amasa by the beard with his right hand to kiss him” and ran him through with his sword (2Sam.20.8-2Sam.20.10).A prince of Ephraim, son of Hadlai, among those who sided with the prophet Oded in opposition to the intentions of Pekah of Israel to hold as slaves the Jews taken in an attack on Ahaz of Judah (1Chr.28.12-1Chr.28.13).

AMASA ə må’ sə (עֲמָשָׂ֗א). 1. Amasa was the captain of the Israelite army appointed by Absalom when he attempted to overthrow the Davidic rule in Israel. Joab killed Amasa during the subsequent rebellion led by Sheba.

As the son of Jether (“Ithra” is another Heb. form for this name in 2 Sam 17:25) the Ishmaelite and Abigail, Amasa was related to the royal family since his mother was a sister of David. He was also a cousin to Joab whose mother Zeruiah was also David’s sister (1 Chron 2:16, 17).

When Absalom rebelled David divided his forces assigning one third of his army to Joab, one third to Abishai a brother of Joab, and another third to Ittai the Gittite. In the course of defeating the rebellion forces Joab killed Absalom explicitly disobeying David’s command and consequently incurring the king’s disfavor. This may have accounted for the fact that David pardoned Amasa and appointed him as captain of his army in place of Joab (2 Sam 19:13).

When Sheba led a rebellion movement David ordered Amasa to assemble an army in three days (2 Sam 20:4). No explanation is given in the Biblical account concerning his failure to do so in the allotted time, but Abishai is subsequently assigned the task of suppressing the rebellion. When Abishai, who was supported by Joab with the Cherethites, Pelethites, and all the mighty men, advanced as far as Gibeon they were joined by Amasa and his forces. Here Joab personally killed Amasa (2 Sam 20:8-10). Subsequently Joab led the combined forces in victory over Sheba.

2. Amasa, the son of Hadlai (2 Chron 28:9-15), is one of the princes of Ephraim who supported Oded the prophet in warning the Israelites. During the Syro-Ephraimitic war the Israelites under Pekah invaded the southern kingdom of Judah and brought some of the people to Samaria as captives with the intention of enslaving them. Amasa and some of the other princes in Ephraim joined the prophet in his word of warning and then provided for the proper return of the captives to Jericho.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

The form `amasa’, is based upon a mistaken etymology (from = `amac "to burden").

(1) According to 2Sa 17:25, Amasa is the son of Abigail, the sister of Zeruiah and David, and Ithra, an Israelite; but another source, 1Ch 2:17, calls his father Jether the Ishmaelite. He was a nephew of David and a cousin of Absalom, who made him commander of the army of rebellion. When the uprising had been quelled, David, in order to conciliate Amasa, promised him the position held by Joab; the latter had fallen from favor (2Sa 19:13 ff). When a new revolt broke out under Sheba, the son of Bichri (2Sa 20), Amasa was entrusted with the task of assembling the men of Judah. But Joab was eager for revenge upon the man who had obtained the office of command that he coveted. When Amasa met Joab at Gibeon, the latter murdered him while pretending to salute (2Sa 20:8-10; 1Ki 2:5).

(2) Son of Hadlai, of the Bene ’Ephrayim ("Children of Ephraim"), who, obeying the words of the prophet Oded, refused to consider as captives the Judeans who had been taken from Ahaz, king of Judah, by the victorious Israelites under the leadership of Pekah (2Ch 28:12).