Jo'äb (Heb. Yoäb', יוֹאָב, Jehovah is his father; Sept. Ι᾿ωάβ, but Ι᾿ωβάβ in 1Ch 2:16), the name of three men. SEE ATAROTH-BETH-JOAB.
1. The son of Seraiah (son of Kenaz, of the tribe of Judah), and progenitor of the inhabitants of Charashim or craftsmen (1Ch 4:14). B.C. post. 1567.
2. One of the three sons of Zeruiah, the sister of David (2Sa 8:16; 2Sa 20:13), and "captain of the host" (generalissimo of the army) during nearly the whole of David's reign (2Sa 2:13; 2Sa 10:7; 2Sa 11:1; 1Ki 11:15; 2Sa 18:2). It is a little remarkable that he is designated by his maternal parentage only, his father's name being nowhere mentioned in the Scriptures. Josephus (Ι᾿ωάβος), indeed, gives (Ant. 7, 1,3) the father's name as Suri (Σούρι), but this may be merely a repetition of the preceding Sarouiah (Σαρουϊvα). Perhaps he was a foreigner. He seems to have resided at Bethlehem, and to have died before his sons, as we find mention of his sepulchre at that place (2Sa 2:32).
Joab first appears associated with his two brothers, Abishai and Asahel, in the command of David's troops against Abner, who had set up the claims of a son of Saul in opposition to those of David, then reigning in Hebron. The armies having met at the pool of Gibeon, a general action was brought on, in which Abner was worsted, B.C. 1053. SEE GIBEON. In his flight he had the misfortune to kill Joab's brother, the swift-footed Asahel, by whom he was pursued (2Sa 2:13-32). SEE ABNER; SEE ASAHEL. Joab smothered for a time his resentment against the shedder of his brother's blood; but, being whetted by the natural rivalry of position between him and Abner, he afterwards made it the excuse of his policy by treacherously, in the act of friendly communication, slaying Abner, at the very time when the services of the latter to David, to whom he had then turned, had rendered him a most dangerous rival to him in power and influence (2Sa 3:22-27). That Abner had at first suspected that Joab would take the position of blood avenger, SEE BLOOD-REVENGE is clear from the apprehension which he expressed (2Sa 2:22); but that he thought that Joab had, under all the circumstances, abandoned this position, is shown by the unsuspecting readiness with which he went aside with him (2Sa 3:26-27); and that Joab placed his murderous act on the footing of vengeance for his brother's blood is plainly stated in 2Sa 3:30; by which it also appears that the other brother, Abishai, shared in some way in the deed and its responsibilities. At the same time, as Abner was perfectly justified in slaying Asahel to save his own life, it is very doubtful if Joab would ever have asserted his right of blood revenge had not Abner appeared likely to endanger his influence with David. The king, much as he reprobated the act, knew that it had a sort of excuse in the old customs of blood revenge, and he stood habitually too much in awe of his impetuous and able nephew to bring him to punishment, or even to displace him from his command. "I am this day weak," he said, "though anointed king, and these men, the sons of Zeruiah, be too hard for me" (2Sa 3:39). B.C. 1046. Desirous probably of making some atonement before David and the public for this atrocity, in a way which at the same time was most likely to prove effectual, namely, by some daring exploit, Joab was the first to mount to the assault at the storming of the fortress on Mount Zion, which had remained so long in the hands of the Jebusites, B.C. cir. 1044. By this service he acquired the chief command of the army of all Israel, of which David was by this time king (2Sa 5; 2Sa 6-10). He had a chief armor bearer of his own, Naharai, a Beerothite (2Sa 23:37; 1Ch 11:39), and ten attendants to carry his equipment and baggage (2Sa 18:15). He had the charge, formerly belonging to the king or judge, of giving the signal by trumpet for advance or retreat (2Sa 18:16). He was called by the almost regal title of "lord" (2Sa 11:11), "the prince of the king's army" (1
Chronicles 27:34). His usual residence (except when campaigning) was in Jerusalem, but he had a house and property, with barley fields adjoining, in the country (2Sa 14:30), in the "wilderness" (1Ki 2:34), probably on the northeast of Jerusalem (compare 1Sa 13:18; Jos 8:15,20), near an ancient sanctuary, called from its nomadic village "Baalhazor" (2Sa 13:23; compare with 14:30), where there were extensive sheep walks. It is possible that this "house of Joab" may have given its name to Ataroth Beth-Joab (1Ch 2:54), to distinguish it from Ataroth-adar. His great military achievements, which he conducted in person, may be divided into three campaigns:
(a) The first was against the allied forces of Syria and Ammon. He attacked and defeated the Syrians, while his brother Abishai did the same for the Ammonites. The Syrians rallied with their kindred tribes from beyond the Euphrates, and were finally routed by David himself. SEE HADAREZER.
(b) The second was against Edom. The decisive victory was gained by David himself in the "valley of salt," and celebrated by a triumphal monument (1Sa 8:13). But Joab had the charge of carrying out the victory, and remained for six months extirpating the male population, whom he then buried in the tombs of Petra (1Ki 11:15-16). So long was the terror of his name preserved that only when the fugitive prince of Edom, in the Egyptian court, heard that "David slept with his fathers, and that Joab, the captain of the host, was dead," did he venture to return to his own country (ib. 11:21, 22).
(c) The third was against the Ammonites. They were again left to Joab (2. Samuel 10:7-19). He went against them at the beginning of the next year, at the time when kings go out to battle" — to the siege, of Rabbah. The ark was sent with him, and the whole army was encamped in booths or huts round the beleaguered city (2Sa 11:1,11). After a sortie of the inhabitants, which caused some loss to the Jewish army, Joab took the lower city on the river, and then, with true loyalty, sent to urge David to come and take the citadel, "Rabbah," lest the glory of the capture should pass from the king to his general (2Sa 12:26-28).
It is not necessary to trace in detail the later acts of Joab, seeing that they are in fact part of the public record of the king he served. See DAVID. He served him faithfully, both in political and private relations; for, although he knew his power over David, and often treated him with little ceremony, there can be no doubt that he was most truly devoted to his interests. But Joab had no principles apart from what he deemed his duty to the king and the people, and was quite as ready to serve his master's vices as his virtues, so long as they did not interfere with his own interests, or tended to promote them by enabling him to make himself useful to the king. (See Niemeyer, Charakt. 4, 458 sq.) His ready apprehension of the king's meaning in the matter of Uriah, and the facility with which he made himself the instrument of the murder, and of the hypocrisy by which it was covered, are proofs of this, and form as deep a stain upon his character as his own murders (2Sa 11:14-25), B.C. 1035. As Joab was on good terms with Absalom, and had taken pains to bring about a reconciliation between him and his father, we may set the higher value upon his firm adhesion to David when Absalom revolted, and upon his stern sense of duty to the king — from whom he expected no thanks — displayed in putting an end to the war by the slaughter of his favorite son, when all others shrunk from the responsibility of doing the king a service against his own will (2Sa 18:1-14). B.C. cir. 1023. In like manner, when David unhappily resolved to number the people, Joab discerned the evil and remonstrated against it, and although he did not venture to disobey, he performed the duty tardily and reluctantly, to afford the king an opportunity of reconsidering the matter, and took no pains to conceal how odious the measure was to him (2 Samuel 24). David was certainly ungrateful for the services of Joab when, in order to conciliate the powerful party which had supported Absalom, he offered the command of the host to Amasa, who had commanded the army of Absalom (2Sa 19:13). But the inefficiency of the new. commander, in the emergency which the revolt of Bichri's son produced, arising perhaps from the reluctance of the troops to follow their new leader, gave Joab an opportunity of displaying his superior resources, and also of removing his rival by a murder very similar to that of Abner, and in some respects less excusable and more foul. SEE AMASA. Besides, Amasa was his own cousin, being the son of his mother's sister (2Sa 20:1-13). B.C. cir. 1022.
When David lay apparently on his death bed, and a demonstration was made in favor of the succession of the eldest surviving son, Adonijah, whose interests had been compromised by the preference of the young Solomon, Joab joined the party of the former. B.C. cir. 1015. It would be unjust to regard this as a defection from David. It was nothing more or less than a demonstration in favor of the natural heir, which, if not then made, could not be made at all. But an act which would have been justifiable had the preference of Solomon been a mere caprice of the old king, became criminal as an act of contumacy to the divine king, the real head of the government, who had called the house of David to the throne, and had the sole right of determining which of its members should reign. We learn from David's last song that his powerlessness over his courtiers was even then present to his mind (2Sa 23:6-7), and now he recalled to Solomon's recollection the two murders of Abner and Amasa (1Ki 2:5; 1Ki 6), with an injunction not to let the aged soldier escape with impunity. When the prompt measures taken under the direction of the king rendered Adonijah's demonstration abortive (1Ki 1:7), Joab withdrew into private life till some time after the death of David, when the fate of Adonij ah, and of Abiathar — whose life was only spared in consequence of his sacerdotal character — warned Joab that he had little mercy to expect from the new king. He fled for refuge to the altar; but when Solomon heard this, he sent Benaiah to put him to death; and, as he refused to come forth, gave orders that he should be slain even at the altar. Thus died one of the most- accomplished warriors and unscrupulous men that Israel ever produced. His corpse was removed to his domain in the wilderness of Judah, and buried there (1Ki 2:5,28-34). B.C. cir. 1012. He left descendants, but nothing is known of them, unless it may be inferred from the double curse of David (2Sa 3:39) and of Solomon (1Ki 2:23) that they seemed to dwindle away, stricken by a succession of visitations — weakness, leprosy, lameness, murder, starvation. His name is by some supposed (in allusion to his part in Adonijah's coronation on that spot) to be preserved in the modern appellation of Enrogel — " the well of Job" — corrupted from Joab.
3. One of the "sons" of Pahath-moab (1 Esdr. 8:35), whose descendants, together with those of Jeshua, returned from the exile to the number of 2812 or 2818 (Ezr 2:6; Ne 7:11), besides 218 males subsequently under the leadership of one Obadiah (Ezr 8:9). B.C. ante 536.