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Defeat of the Ammonites and Arameans


Some time afterward, King Nahash of the Ammonites died, and his son succeeded him. 2David said, “I will deal loyally with Hanun son of Nahash, for his father dealt loyally with me.” So David sent messengers to console him concerning his father. When David’s servants came to Hanun in the land of the Ammonites, to console him, 3the officials of the Ammonites said to Hanun, “Do you think, because David has sent consolers to you, that he is honoring your father? Have not his servants come to you to search and to overthrow and to spy out the land?” 4So Hanun seized David’s servants, shaved them, cut off their garments in the middle at their hips, and sent them away; 5and they departed. When David was told about the men, he sent messengers to them, for they felt greatly humiliated. The king said, “Remain at Jericho until your beards have grown, and then return.”

6 When the Ammonites saw that they had made themselves odious to David, Hanun and the Ammonites sent a thousand talents of silver to hire chariots and cavalry from Mesopotamia, from Aram-maacah and from Zobah. 7They hired thirty-two thousand chariots and the king of Maacah with his army, who came and camped before Medeba. And the Ammonites were mustered from their cities and came to battle. 8When David heard of it, he sent Joab and all the army of the warriors. 9The Ammonites came out and drew up in battle array at the entrance of the city, and the kings who had come were by themselves in the open country.

10 When Joab saw that the line of battle was set against him both in front and in the rear, he chose some of the picked men of Israel and arrayed them against the Arameans; 11the rest of his troops he put in the charge of his brother Abishai, and they were arrayed against the Ammonites. 12He said, “If the Arameans are too strong for me, then you shall help me; but if the Ammonites are too strong for you, then I will help you. 13Be strong, and let us be courageous for our people and for the cities of our God; and may the Lord do what seems good to him.” 14So Joab and the troops who were with him advanced toward the Arameans for battle; and they fled before him. 15When the Ammonites saw that the Arameans fled, they likewise fled before Abishai, Joab’s brother, and entered the city. Then Joab came to Jerusalem.

16 But when the Arameans saw that they had been defeated by Israel, they sent messengers and brought out the Arameans who were beyond the Euphrates, with Shophach the commander of the army of Hadadezer at their head. 17When David was informed, he gathered all Israel together, crossed the Jordan, came to them, and drew up his forces against them. When David set the battle in array against the Arameans, they fought with him. 18The Arameans fled before Israel; and David killed seven thousand Aramean charioteers and forty thousand foot soldiers, and also killed Shophach the commander of their army. 19When the servants of Hadadezer saw that they had been defeated by Israel, they made peace with David, and became subject to him. So the Arameans were not willing to help the Ammonites any more.

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1Ch 19:1-5. David's Messengers, Sent to Comfort Hanun, Are Disgracefully Treated.

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 Saul.

3. are not his servants come unto thee for to search?—that is, thy capital, Rabbah (2Sa 10:3).

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.

1Ch 19:6-15. Joab and Abishai Overcome the Ammonites.

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 mercenaries.

chariots and horsemen out of Mesopotamia … Syria-maachah, and … Zobah—The Mesopotamian troops did not arrive during this campaign (1Ch 19:16). Syria-maachah lay on the north of the possessions of the trans-jordanic Israelites, near Gilead.

Zobah—(see on 1Ch 18:3).

7. So they hired thirty and two thousand chariotsHebrew, "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 2Sa 10:6: 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 this war.

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 Arnon.

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.

1Ch 19:16-19. Shophach Slain by David.

16. And when the Syrians saw that they were put to the worse before Israel—(See on 2Sa 10:15-19).

18. David slew of the Syrians seven thousand men—(Compare 2Sa 10:18, 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].