2 Samuel 8


David subdues the Philistines, 1;

and the Moabites, 2;

and the king of Zobah, 3, 4;

and the Syrians in general, 5-8.

Toi, king of Hamath, sends to congratulate him on his victories

over the king of Zobah, and sends him rich presents, 9-10.

David dedicates all the spoils to God, 11-13.

He garrisons Edom, 14;

and reigns over all Israel, 15.

An account of his chief officers, 16-18.


Verse 1. David took Metheg-ammah] This is variously translated.

The Vulgate has, Tulit David fraenum tributi, David removed the

bondage of the tribute, which the Israelities paid to the

Philistines. Some think it means a fortress, city, or strong town;

but no such place as Metheg-ammah is known. Probably the Vulgate

is nearest the truth. The versions are all different. See the

following comparison of the principal passages here collated with

the parallel place in 1 Chr:-

S. 8, 1-David took Methegammah 3. David

C. 18, 1-David took Gath and her towns. 3. David

S. smote Hadadezer 4. And David took from him

C. smote Hadarezer 4. And David took from him

S. 1000 and 700 horsemen, and 20,000 foot.

C. 1000 chariots, and 7000 horsemen, and 20,000 foot.

S. 6. Then David put garrisons in Syria 8. And

C. 6. Then David put in Syria 8. And

S. from Betah and Berothai cities of Hadadezer. 9.

C. from Tibhath and Chun cities of Hadarezer. 9.

S. When Toi heard that David had smitten

C. When Tou heard that David had smitten

S. Hadadezer 10. Then Toi sent Joram his son

C. Hadarezer 10. He sent Hadoram his son

S. 12-Syria and Moab 13-Syrians, in the valley

C. 11-Edom and Moab 12-Edomites, in the valley

S. of salt, 18,000 17-Ahimelech-and Seraiah

C. of salt, 18,000 16-Abimelech-and Shausha

S. was the scribe. 10, 16. Shobach the captain

C. was scribe. 19, 16. Shophach the captain

S. 17. David passed over Jordan, and came

C. 17. David passed over Jordan and came

S. to Helam. 18. David slew 700

C. upon them 18. David slew of the Syrians 7000

S. chariots of the Syrians, and 40,000 horsemen;

C. chariots, and 40,000 footmen;

S. and smote Shobach, &c.

C. and killed Shophach, &c.

Verse 2. And measured them with a line-even with two lines] It

has been generally conjectured that David, after he had conquered

Moab, consigned two-thirds of the inhabitants to the sword; but I

think the text will bear a meaning much more reputable to that

king. The first clause of the verse seems to determine the sense;

he measured them with a line, casting them down to the ground-to

put to death, and with one line to keep alive. Death seems here to

be referred to the cities by way of metaphor; and, from this view

of the subject we may conclude that two-thirds of the cities, that

is, the strong places of Moab, were erased; and not having strong

places to trust to, the text adds, So the Moabites became David's

servants, and brought gifts, i.e., were obliged to pay tribute.

The word line may mean the same here as our rod, i.e., the

instrument by which land is measured. There are various opinions

on this verse, with which I shall not trouble the reader. Much may

be seen in Calmet and Dodd.

Verse 3. David smote-Hadadezer] He is supposed to have been king

of all Syria, except Phoenicia; and, wishing to extend his

dominions to the Euphrates, invaded a part of David's dominions

which lay contiguous to it; but being attacked by David, he was

totally routed.

Verse 4. A thousand chariots] It is strange that there were a

thousand chariots, and only seven hundred horsemen taken, and

twenty thousand foot. But as the discomfiture appears complete, we

may suppose that the chariots, being less manageable, might be

more easily taken, while the horsemen might, in general, make

their escape. The infantry also seem to have been surrounded, when

twenty thousand of them were taken prisoners.

David houghed all the chariot horses] If he did so, it was both

unreasonable and inhuman; for, as he had so complete a victory,

there was no danger of these horses falling into the enemy's

hands; and if he did not choose to keep them, which indeed the law

would not permit, he should have killed them outright; and then

the poor innocent creatures would have been put out of pain. But

does the text speak of houghing horses at all? It does not. Let us

hear; vayeakker David eth col harecheb, And

David disjointed all the chariots, except a hundred chariots which

he reserved for himself. Now, this destruction of the chariots,

was a matter of sound policy, and strict piety. God had censured

those who trusted in chariots; piety therefore forbade David the

use of them: and lest they should fall into the enemy's hands, and

be again used against him, policy induced him to destroy them. The

Septuagint render the words nearly as I have done, καιπαρελυσε


He kept however one hundred; probably as a sort of baggage or

forage wagons.

Verse 6. Brought gifts] Paid tribute.

Verse 7. David took the shields of gold] We know not what these

were. Some translate arms, others quivers, others bracelets,

others collars, and others shields. They were probably costly

ornaments by which the Syrian soldiers were decked and

distinguished. And those who are called servants here, were

probably the choice troops or body-guard of Hadadezer, as the

argyraspides were of Alexander the Great. See Quintus Curtius.

Verse 9. Toi king of Hamath] Hamath is supposed to be the famous

city of Emesa, situated on the Orontes, in Syria. This was

contiguous to Hadadezer; and led him to wage war with Toi, that he

might get possession of his territories. For a comparison of the

10th verse, see 1Ch 18:9.

Verse 13. David gat him a name] Became a very celebrated and

eminent man. The Targum has it, David collected troops; namely, to

recruit his army when he returned from smiting the Syrians. His

many battles had no doubt greatly thinned his army.

The valley of salt] Supposed to be a large plain abounding in

this mineral, about a league from the city of Palmyra or Tadmor in

the wilderness.

Verse 14. He put garrisons in Edom] He repaired the strong

cities which he had taken, and put garrisons in them to keep the

country in awe.

Verse 16. Joab-was over the host] General and commander-in-chief

over all the army.

Ahilud-recorder] mazkir, remembrancer; one who kept a

strict journal of all the proceedings of the king and operations

of his army; a chronicler. See the margin.

Verse 17. Seraiah-the scribe] Most likely the king's private

secretary. See the margin.

Verse 18. Benaiah] The chief of the second class of David's

worthies. We shall meet with him again.

The Cherethites and the Pelethites] The former supposed to be

those who accompanied David when he fled from Saul; the latter,

those who came to him at Ziklag. But the Targum translates these

two names thus, the archers and the slingers; and this is by far

the most likely. It is not at all probable that David was without

a company both of archers and slingers. The bow is celebrated in

the funeral lamentation over Saul and Jonathan; and the sling was

renowned as the weapon of the Israelites, and how expert David was

in the use of it we learn from the death of Goliath. I take for

granted that the Chaldee paraphrast is correct. No weapons then

known were equally powerful with these; the spears, swords, and

javelins, of other nations, were as stubble before them. The bow

was the grand weapon of our English ancestors; and even after the

invention of firearms, they were with difficulty persuaded to

prefer them and leave their archery.

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