Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
1. after this--This phrase seems to indicate that the incident now
to be related took place immediately, or soon after the wars described
in the preceding chapter. But the chronological order is loosely
observed, and the only just inference that can be drawn from the use of
this phrase is, that some farther account is to be given of the wars
against the Syrians.
Nahash the king of the children of Ammon died--There had subsisted
a very friendly relation between David and him, begun during the exile
of the former, and cemented, doubtless, by their common hostility to
3. are not his servants come unto thee for to search?--that is,
thy capital, Rabbah
4, 5. shaved them--not completely, but only the half of their face.
This disrespect to the beard, and indecent exposure of their persons by
their clothes being cut off from the girdle downwards, was the grossest
indignity to which Jews, in common with all Orientals, could be
subjected. No wonder that the men were ashamed to appear in
public--that the king recommended them to remain in seclusion on the
border till the mark of their disgrace had disappeared--and then they
might, with propriety, return to the court.
6. when the children of Ammon saw that they had made themselves odious
to David--One universal feeling of indignation was roused throughout
Israel, and all classes supported the king in his determination to
avenge this unprovoked insult on the Hebrew nation.
Hanun . . . sent a thousand talents of silver--a sum
equal to £342,100, to procure the services of foreign
chariots and horsemen out of Mesopotamia . . .
Syria-maachah, and . . . Zobah--The Mesopotamian troops
did not arrive during this campaign
Syria-maachah lay on the north of the possessions of the trans-jordanic
Israelites, near Gilead.
7. So they hired thirty and two thousand
chariots--Hebrew, "riders," or "cavalry," accustomed to
fight either on horseback or in chariots, and occasionally on foot.
Accepting this as the true rendering, the number of hired auxiliaries
mentioned in this passage agrees exactly with the statement in
twenty thousand (from Syria), twelve thousand (from Tob), equal to
thirty-two thousand, and one thousand with the king of Maachah.
8. David . . . sent Joab, and all the host of the mighty men--All the
forces of Israel, including the great military orders, were engaged in
9-15. children of Ammon . . . put the battle in array before the gate
of the city--that is, outside the walls of Medeba, a frontier town on
the kings that were come were by themselves in the field--The
Israelitish army being thus beset by the Ammonites in front, and by the
Syrian auxiliaries behind, Joab resolved to attack the latter (the more
numerous and formidable host), while he directed his brother Abishai,
with a suitable detachment, to attack the Ammonites. Joab's address
before the engagement displays the faith and piety that became a
commander of the Hebrew people. The mercenaries being defeated, the
courage of the Ammonites failed; so that, taking flight, they
entrenched themselves within the fortified walls.
16. And when the Syrians saw that they were put to the worse before
18. David slew of the Syrians seven thousand men--(Compare
which has seven hundred chariots). Either the text in one of the books
is corrupt [KEIL, DAVIDSON],
or the accounts must be combined, giving this result--seven thousand
horsemen, seven thousand chariots, and forty thousand footmen [KENNICOTT, HOUBIGANT, CALMET].