“But Asahel refused to give up the pursuit; so Abner
thrust the butt of his spear into Asahel’s stomach…” 2 Sam 2:23
Asahel’s pursuit of Abner finally came to a bitter end. Even though Abner repeatedly
urged him not to keep on pursuing, Asahel wouldn’t stop, thinking it was his
opportunity to score a victory against a seasoned warrior, and make a name for
Abner knew very well that Asahel couldn’t stand his ground against him, and he did
everything to avoid shedding the blood of the young man, a deed which would
enrage his two brothers. Yet young Asahel had an entirely different idea, for
he reckoned it was an opportunity to test his mettle and to win glory and honor
Asahel should have stopped and did what Abner told him to do, which was to kill and strip
another Israelite on the way and go back to his brothers as a victor. The price
before him was just too big and the opportunity too precious for him to turn
The mistake Asahel made was to simply overestimate his own prowess in battle and
underestimate Abner’s ability as a warrior. Had his brothers been there, they
would have kept him from taking such a risk, knowing how formidable Abner was.
Indeed Asahel wasn’t taking a calculated risk. The result of the clash was determined before
it took place. The young man didn’t even put up a fight before he was speared
through his stomach and died instantly. His death was so wasteful and so
unnecessary and it could have been prevented.
Where were Joab and Abishai when the tragedy took place? Shouldn’t they have been their
brother’s keepers in this time of crisis?
What could they have done to protect their brother from getting hurt in the battle when
they themselves were tied up, fighting against the enemies. They must have had serious
concerns for their little brother, knowing how green he was in the arts of
warfare, yet they also realized the young man had to grow up sometime and be
his own man. Consequently, to their great dismay, the inevitable happened. They
lost their beloved brother.
By this time, their father had died, but the mother might have been alive. If that was the
case, how were they going to break the news to the woman who day after day was
waiting for her youngest son to come home? How could they bring comfort to
their mother who had just lost her son to a brutal death?
“Giving birth to a girl, we get to marry her away to the neighboring village; but a boy will
be sent to the battlefield to die and to be buried in the wild,” goes an
ancient Chinese poem. How many mothers,
both from the east and the west over the ages, have been left to mourn for their
sons who were marched to the frontlines to be chopped down or blown to pieces
for unknown causes, never to return to the homes they loved and the lives they
Ah, Asahel! Ah, humanity.