(joh' ab) Personal name meaning, “Yahweh is father.” Military commander during most of David's reign. He was the oldest son of Zeruiah, the sister of David (2 Samuel 2:13;
1 Chronicles 2:16). He was loyal to David and ruthless in achieving his objectives. After Saul's death, David was negotiating with Abner, Saul's military commander. Joab, whose brother had been slain in battle by Abner, deceived Abner and murdered him. David publicly lamented this assassination (2 Samuel 2-3).
Joab's exploits in the capture of Jerusalem led David to name him commander (1 Chronicles 11:4-8). Joab successfully led David's armies against the Ammonites (2 Samuel 10:1). During this campaign David sent his infamous order to have Uriah, the husband of Bathsheba, killed (2 Samuel 11:1).
Joab was instrumental in the reconciliation of David and Absalom (2 Samuel 14:1). When Absalom led a rebellion, Joab remained loyal to David. Joab killed Absalom against the clear orders of David (2 Samuel 18:14). He also convinced David to end his obsessive grieving for Absalom (2 Samuel 19:4-8). Joab murdered Amasa, whom David had named commander (2 Samuel 20:10). He opposed David's plan for a census, but carried it out when ordered to do so (2 Samuel 24:1-9).
When David was dying, Joab supported Adonijah's claim to the throne (1 Kings 1:1). David named Solomon king and told him to avenge Abner and Amasa by killing Joab. Although Joab fled to the tabernacle for sanctuary, Solomon ordered Benaiah to kill Joab (1 Kings 2:1).
Robert J. Dean