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Judaica Press summarizes Rash, Radak, Abarbanel, and Metzudas David to say that Dovid Hamelech was telling him that if he stayed behind or traveled on his own, Avshalom would leave him alone and he would be safe. On the other hand, if he insisted on staying with Dovid Hamelech, he would not only be in danger, but he would be unable to find a safe house among ...


Rashi and other commentators say it means he tortured them. Ralbag explains that this was to dissuade other peoples from fighting the Jews. (See the context starting at, say, 10:1.)

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