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Bible Commentaries

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

1 Chronicles 19

XIX.

The war with the sons of Ammon and their Aramæan allies. The chapter is a duplicate of 2 Samuel 10:0. The story of David’s kindness to Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 9:0), creditable as it was to David, is omitted by the chronicler, as belonging rather to the private than the public history of the king.

Verse 1

(1) Now it came to pass after this.—The same phrase as at 1 Chronicles 18:1; it has no chronological significance (see Note there). The conflict with Ammon, which has been glanced at in 1 Chronicles 18:11, is now to be described at length (1 Chronicles 19:1 to 1 Chronicles 20:3), and in connection therewith the overthrow of Hadadezer (1 Chronicles 18:3-8) is again related, with additional details.

Verse 2

(2) Nahash Samuel omits, but adds “Hanun.” The omissions in each are perhaps accidental. Saul’s first campaign was against Nahash (1 Samuel 11:0).

Children of Ammon.—Sons of Ammon, like “sons of Israel.” The title calls attention to their tribal organisation.

Because.For. Samuel, “according as.”

Shewed kindness to me.—The Hebrew phrase, which answers to the Greek of Luke 1:72. (See Revised Version.)

The rest of the verse is made more perspicuous than in 2 Samuel 10:2 by slight changes and additions.

Verse 3

(3) Are not his servants come . . . for to search, and to overthrow, and to spy out the land?—Literally, Is it not for to search . . . that his servants are come unto thee? This is hardly an improvement on Samuel: “Is it not to search the city (Rabbath-Ammon, the capital), and to spy it out, and to overthrow it, that David hath sent his servants unto thee?” The Syriac and Arabic agree with Samuel in reading “city;” LXX. and Vulg., “land.”

Verse 4

(4) Shaved themi.e., the half of their beards (Samuel).

Hard by their buttocks.—Literally, unto the extremities. The chronicler has substituted a more decorous term for the one which appears in Samuel.

Cut off their garments.—To look like captives (Isaiah 20:4).

Verse 5

(5) Ashamed.—Not the usual term (bôsh), but a stronger word, confounded (niklam; properly, pricked, wounded). (Comp. Psalms 35:4. where it forms a climax to the other.)

Be grown.Sprout, or shoot (Judges 16:22, of Samson’s hair).

Jericho lay on their road to the capital.

Verse 6

(6) And when the children of Ammon.—Up to this point the narrative has substantially coincided with 2 Samuel 10:0, and might have been derived immediately from it; but this and the following verses differ considerably from the older account, and add one or two material facts, which suggest another source.

Made themselves odious.—“Had become in bad odonr.” A unique (Aramaized) form of the same verb as is used in Samuel (hithbâ’ăshû for nib’ăshû).

A thousand talents of silver.—The talent was a weight, not a coin, coined money being unknown at that epoch. The sum specified amounts to £400,000. estimating the silver talent at £400. This detail is peculiar to the Chronicles.

Out of Mesopotamia, and out of Syria-maachah, and out of Zobah.Out of Aram-naharaïm, and out of Aram-maachah, &c Samuel has, “And they hired Aram-beth-rehob and Aram-zobah, 20,000 foot, and the king of Maachah, 1,000 men, and the men (or chieftain) of Tôb, 12,000men.”Aram-naharaïm, i.e., Aram of the two rivers, was the country between the Tigris and Euphrates (see Judges 3:8); Aram-beth-rehob may have been one of its political divisions, and is perhaps to be identified with Rehoboth-hannahar (1 Chronicles 1:48), on the Euphrates. Another Rehoboth (“Rehoboth-ir,” Genesis 10:11) lay on the Tigris, north-east of Nineveh, and was a suburb of that great city. Aram-maachah imply the dominions of “the king of Maachah,” who is mentioned in 1 Chronicles 19:7; and Zobah, the Aram-zobah of Samuel. The chronicler makes no separate mention of the “men of Tòb” (Judges 11:3), perhaps because they were subject to Hadadezer, and as such, included in his forces. The Syriac and Arabic here have “from Aram-naharaïm, Haran, Nisibis, and Edom.”

Verse 7

(7) So they hired thirty and two thousand chariots, and the king of Maachah and his people.—The account which the chronicler has followed here did not state the relative strength of the contingents, yet its estimate of the total number of the allied forces is in substantial accord with that of Samuel. The chronicler puts the total at 32,000 + the Maachathite contingent; Samuel at 32,000 + 1,000 Maachathites. The expression “32,000 chariotry” (rèkeb) is not to be pressed. The writer wished to lay proper stress on the chariots and cavalry as the chief arm of the Aramæan states, and at the same time to be as concise as possible. That he was not thinking of 32,000 chariots in the literal sense is clear, (1) because he must have known that an army would not consist of chariots only; (2) in 1 Chronicles 18:4 he had already assigned to the army of Zobah its natural proportions of chariots, cavalry, and infantry. (Comp. 1 Chronicles 19:18, below.) The present text of Samuel can hardly be right, as it makes the whole army consist of infantry. (Comp. 2 Samuel 8:4.) The great plains of Aram were a natural training-ground for horsemen and charioteers.

Who came and pitched (their camp) before Medeba.—Another detail peculiar to the Chronicles. Medeba, the meeting-place of the Aramæan forces, lay south-east of Heshbon, on a site now known as Madibiya.

And the children of Ammon gathered themselves . . .—The muster of the Ammonites is not mentioned in Samuel.

Verse 8

(8) All the host of the mighty men.—So the Hebrew text. The Hebrew margin and Samuel read “all the host,” viz., the mighty men. The “mighty men” (gibbôrîm) were a special corps. (Comp. 1 Samuel 23:13; 1 Samuel 27:8; 2 Samuel 2:3; 2 Samuel 16:6; 1 Kings 1:8.) Either, then, the term has a general sense here, or we must read, “and the mighty men.”

Verse 9

(9) Before the gate of the city.—Literally, in the outlet of the city. Samuel has “in the outlet of the gate.” The city appears to have been Medeba (1 Chronicles 19:7).

And the kings that were come.—Samuel repeats the names: “And Aram-zobah and Rehob, and the men of Tôb and Maachah.”

Were.—Rather, put the battle in array (to be supplied from the former sentence).

In the field.—In the open country, or plain (mîshôr) of Medeba (Joshua 13:9; Joshua 13:16), where there was room for the movements of cavalry and chariots.

Verse 10

(10) The battle was set against him before and behind.—Literally, the front of the battle had become towards him, front and rear. The order of words is different in Samuel, and a preposition added (“on front and on rear”). The Ammonites lay in front of the city, their Aramæan allies at some distance away, in the plain. For Joab to attack either with his entire army would have been to expose his rear to the assault of the other. He therefore divided his forces.

The choice of Israel.—Literally, the chosen or young warriors (singular collective) in Israel (i.e., in the Israelitish army). These Joab himself led against the Aramæans, as the most dangerous enemy, while he sent a detachment, under his brother Abishai, to cope with the Ammonites.

Put them in array.—Rather, set the battle in array, or drew up against . . . (1 Chronicles 19:17; 1 Chronicles 12:33). The same Hebrew phrase recurs in 1 Chronicles 19:11.

Verse 11

(11) They sot themselves in array.—Samuel, singular, as in 1 Chronicles 19:10.

Verse 12

(12) Literally, If Aram, prevail over me, thou shalt become to me for succour. The word “succour” here is tĕshû‘âh, a less frequent synonym of yĕshû‘âh, the term in Samuel.

I will help (succour) thee.—Samuel, “I will march to succour thee.” This verb is often rendered “to save,” and the cognate noun, “salvation.”

Verse 13

(13) Be of good courage.—The same verb was rendered “be strong” in 1 Chronicles 19:12.

Let us behave ourselves valiantly.—The same verb again, in reflexive form. Thus the whole runs literally: Be strong, and let us shew ourselves strong!

And let the Lord do . . .—Literally, And Jehovahthe good in his own eyes may he do! The order in the Hebrew of Samuel is that of the Authorised Version here. The chronicler lays stress on the auspicious word “good.” There is also emphasis on Jehovah,” as leaving the issue in His hands who is Lord of hosts and God of battles; and on the verb, expressive of a pious wish that right may not miscarry. Evidently the spirit which inspired the prayer, “Thy will be done,” was not unknown to the warriors of the old theocracy.

Verse 14

(14) Before the Syrians.—Rather, against Aram; so Samuel, with the more classical construction. The preposition used here was rendered to meet (1 Chronicles 12:17).

Verse 15

(15) And when the children of Amnion saw.—The Hebrew construction is quite different from that of 1 Chronicles 19:6. Render, Now the sons of Ammon had seen that Aram was routed.

They likewise.—An explanatory addition to the text, as read in Samuel. So also “his brother.”

Then Joab came . . .—Abridged. (Comp. Samuel.)

Verse 16

(16) They sent messengers.—Samuel, “Hadarezer sent and drew forth” (literally, made to come out: i.e., to war, 1 Chronicles 20:1). The name “Hadarezer” (Hadadezer) is important, as helping us to identify this campaign with that of 1 Chronicles 18:3-8.

Beyond the river.—The Euphrates, called Purât, Purâtu, by the Babylonians and Assyrians, Furât by the Arabs, and Ufrâtus by the ancient Persians. The name is derived from the Accadian Pura-nunu (great river). The Assyrian Purât, Hebrew Pĕrâth, is simply the word Pura with a feminine ending; so that this well-known name means “The River par excellence. (Comp. Genesis 15:18; Isaiah 8:7.)

The use of this phrase, “beyond the river,” to denote the position of the Eastern Aramæans, shows that the narrative here borrowed by the chronicler was originally written in Palestine. The Syriac and Arabic add here, “and they came to Hîlâm.” (So Samuel; see next verse.)

Shophach.—Samuel, “Shobach.” The letters p and b are much alike in Hebrew. The Syriac has Sh’bûk. Shophach may be compared with the Arabic safaka, “to shed blood” (saffâk, a shedder of blood).

Went before them.Commanded them. It thus appears that the suzerainty of Hadadezer was recognised by some Aramæan States lying east of the Euphrates.

Verses 16-19

(16-19) The last effort of the Arameans. They are defeated, and become vassals to David.

Verse 17

(17) Came upon them.—Samuel, “came to Hêlâm.” The chronicler seems to have substituted an intelligible phrase for the name of an unknown locality. Professor Sayce has suggested to the writer that this mysterious Helam is no other than Aleppo, the Halman of the Assyrian monuments.

Upon them . . . against them.—Literally, unto them (’alêhem). The Hebrew term, “to Helam” (Helâmah), contains the same consonants as this prepositional phrase, with one extra. Perhaps, however, the term Helâmah was understood as a common noun implying to their army (hayil, hêl, army).

So when David had put the battle in array against the Syrians.—Literally, And David set the battle, &c., a needless repetition of the last clause. Probably Samuel is right: “And Aram put the battle in array against David.”

Verse 18

(18) Seven thousand men which fought in chariots, and forty thousand footmen.—Heb., seven thousand chariotry (rèkeb), &c. Samuel reads, “seven hundred chariots, and forty thousand horse-men.” Such deviations seem to indicate independent sources. We can hardly choose between the two accounts; but “horsemen” may be more correct than “footmen.” (See 1 Chronicles 18:4-5.)

And killed Shophach . . .—Abridged statement. (Comp. 2 Samuel 10:18.)

Verse 19

(19) And when the servants of Hadarezer.—Samuel is fuller and clearer: “And all the kings, servants of Hadarezer.” The tributaries of Hadadezer now transferred their fealty to David.

They made peace with David.—Samuel, “with Israel.”

And became his servants.—Literally, and served him. Samuel, “and served them.” To the writer of Samuel God’s people is the main topic; to the chronicler the divinely-anointed king. The difference, therefore, though slight, is characteristic.

Neither would the Syrians’ help.And Aram was not willing to come to the help of the sons of Ammon. Samuel, “And Aram feared to come to the help,” &c.

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Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 19". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ebc/1-chronicles-19.html. 1905.