2 Samuel 10


The king of Ammon being dead, David sends ambassadors to

comfort his son Hanun, by 2.

Hanun, misled by his courtiers, treats the messengers of David

with great indignity, 3-5.

The Ammonites, justly dreading David's resentment, send, and

hire the Syrians to make war upon him, 6.

Joab and Abishai meet them at the city of Medeba, and defeat

them, 7-14.

The Syrians collect another army, but are defeated by David with

great slaughter, and make with him a separate peace, 15-19.


Verse 2. I will show kindness unto Hanun the son of Nahash] We

do not know exactly the nature or extent of the obligation which

David was under to the king of the Ammonites; but it is likely

that the Nahash here mentioned was the same who had attacked

Jabesh-gilead, and whom Saul defeated: as David had taken refuge

with the Moabites, (1Sa 22:3,) and this was contiguous to the

king of the Ammonites, his hatred to Saul might induce him to show

particular kindness to David.

Verse 3. Thinkest thou that David doth honour thy father] It has

been a matter of just complaint through all the history of

mankind, that there is little sincerity in courts. Courtiers,

especially, are suspicious of each other, and often mislead their

sovereigns. They feel themselves to be insincere, and suspect

others to be so too.

Verse 4. Shaved off the one half of their beards] The beard is

held in high respect in the East: the possessor considers it his

greatest ornament; often swears by it; and, in matters of great

importance, pledges it. Nothing can be more secure than a pledge

of this kind; its owner will redeem it at the hazard of his life.

The beard was never cut off but in mourning, or as a sign of

slavery. Cutting off half of the beard and the clothes rendered

the men ridiculous, and made them look like slaves: what was done

to these men was an accumulation of insult.

Verse 5. Tarry at Jericho] This city had not been rebuilt since

the time of Joshua; but there were, no doubt, many cottages still

remaining, and larger dwellings also, but the walls had not been

repaired. As it must have been comparatively a private place, it

was proper for these men to tarry in, as they would not be exposed

to public notice.

Verse 6. The children of Ammon saw that they stank] That is,

that their conduct rendered them abominable. This is the Hebrew

mode of expressing such a feeling. See Ge 34:30.

The Syrians of Bethrehob] This place was situated at the

extremity of the valley between Libanus and Anti-libanus. The

Syrians of Zoba were subject to Hadadezer. Maacah was in the

vicinity of Mount Hermon, beyond Jordan, in the Trachonitis.

Ish-tob] This was probably the same with Tob, to which Jephthah

fled from the cruelty of his brethren. It was situated in the land

of Gilead.

Verse 7. All the host of the mighty] All his worthies, and the

flower of his army.

Verse 8. At the entering in of the gate] This was the city of

Medeba, as we learn from 1Ch 19:7.

Verse 9. Before and behind] It is probable that one of the

armies was in the field, and the other in the city, when Joab

arrived. When he fronted this army, the other appears to have

issued from the city, and to have taken him in the rear; he was

therefore obliged to divide his army as here mentioned; one part

to face the Syrians commanded by himself, and the other to face

the Ammonites commanded by his brother Abishai.

Verse 12. Be of good courage] This is a very fine military

address, and is equal to any thing in ancient or modern times. Ye

fight pro aris et focis; for every good, sacred and civil; for

God, for your families, and for your country.

Verse 14. The Syrians were fled] They betook themselves to their

own confines, while the Ammonites escaped into their own city.

Verse 16. The Syrians that were beyond the river] That is, the


Hadarezer] This is the same that was overthrown by David,

2Sa 8:3 and there called Hadadezer; which is the reading here

of about thirty of Kennicott's and De Rossi's MSS. But the resh

and daleth are easily interchanged.

Verse 17. David-gathered all Israel together] He thought that

such a war required his own presence.

Verse 18. SEVEN HUNDRED chariots-and forty thousand HORSEMEN] In

the parallel place, 1Ch 19:18, it is said,

David slew of the Syrians SEVEN THOUSAND men, which fought in

chariots. It is difficult to ascertain the right number in this

and similar places. It is very probable that, in former times, the

Jews expressed, as they often do now, their numbers, not by words

at full length, but by numeral letters; and, as many of the

letters bear a great similarity to each other, mistakes might

easily creep in when the numeral letters came to be expressed by

words at full length. This alone will account for the many

mistakes which we find in the numbers in these books, and renders

a mistake here very probable. The letter zain, with a dot above,

stands for seven thousand, nun for seven hundred: the

great similarity of these letters might easily cause the one to be

mistaken for the other, and so produce an error in this place.

Verse 19. Made peace with Israel] They made this peace

separately, and were obliged to pay tribute to the Israelites.

Some copies of the Vulgate add here after the word Israel,

Expaverunt et fugerunt quinquaginta et octo millia coram Israel;

"and they were panic-struck, and fled fifty-eight thousand of them

before Israel." This reading is nowhere else to be found. "Thus,"

observes Dr. Delaney, "the arms of David were blessed; and God

accomplished the promises which he had made to Abraham, Ge 15:18,

and renewed to Joshua, Jos 1:2, 4." And thus, in the space of

nineteen or twenty years, David had the good fortune to finish

gloriously eight wars, all righteously undertaken, and all

honourably terminated; viz. 1. The civil war with Ish-bosheth. 2.

The war against the Jebusites. 3. The war against the Philistines

and their allies. 4. The war against the Philistines alone. 5. The

war against the Moabites. 6. The war against Hadadezer. 7. The war

against the Idumeans. 8. The war against the Ammonites and

Syrians. This last victory was soon followed by the complete

conquest of the kingdom of the Ammonites, abandoned by their

allies. What glory to the monarch of Israel, had not the splendour

of this illustrious epoch been obscured by a complication of

crimes, of which one could never have even suspected him capable!

WE have now done with the first part of this book, in which we

find David great, glorious, and pious: we come to the second part,

in which we shall have the pain to observe him fallen from God,

and his horn defiled in the dust by crimes of the most flagitious

nature. Let him that most assuredly standeth take heed lest he


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