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Bible Commentaries
2 Samuel 8

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

And after this it came to pass, that David smote the Philistines, and subdued them: and David took Metheg'ammah out of the hand of the Philistines.

David took Metheg-ammah out of the hand of the Philistines [ wayiqach (H3947) Daawid (H1732) 'et (H854) Meteg-haa-'Amaah (H4965)] - and David took the bridle (bit) of the metropolis out of the hand of the Philistines; i:e., he subdued the metropolis of the Philistines (Gesenius, 'Lexicon' and 'Geschichte der Hebr. Sprache,' p. 41) - that is, Gath and her suburban towns, (1 Chronicles 18:1). That town had been 'a bridle' by which the Philistines kept the people of Judah in check. David used it now as a barrier to repress that restless enemy. To the same effect Havernick renders it, 'David took the arm-bridle (the rein, of dominion) out of the hand of the Philistines.' The historian in this book records in general terms what the chronicler relates in particular detail.

Verse 2

And he smote Moab, and measured them with a line, casting them down to the ground; even with two lines measured he to put to death, and with one full line to keep alive. And so the Moabites became David's servants, and brought gifts.

He smote Moab, and measured them with a line. This refers to a well-known practice of Eastern kings, to command their prisoners of war, particularly those who, notorious for the atrocity of their crimes, or distinguished by the indomitable spirit of their resistance, had greatly incensed the victors, to lie down on the ground, and then put to death a certain portion of them, which was determined by lot, but most commonly by a measuring line. Our version makes him put two-thirds to death, and spare one-third. The Septuagint and Vulgate make one-half. This war usage was not, perhaps, usually practiced by the people of God; but Jewish writers assert that the cause of this particular severity against this people was their having massacred David's parents and family, whom he had, during his exile, committed to the king of Moab.

Verse 3

David smote also Hadadezer, the son of Rehob, king of Zobah, as he went to recover his border at the river Euphrates.

Zobah - (cf. 1 Chronicles 18:3.) This kingdom was bounded on the east by the Euphrates, and it extended westward from that river, perhaps as far north as Aleppo. Its exact situation cannot be determined; but it is supposed to lie between the Euphrates and the Orontes, toward the northeast of Damascus. It was long the chief among the petty kingdoms of [ 'Araam (H758)] Syria, and its king bore the hereditary title of Hadadezer, or Hadarezer (Hadad, helped).

As he went to recover his border at the river Euphrates - in accordance with the promises God made to Israel, that He would give them all the country as far as the Euphrates (Genesis 15:18; Numbers 24:17). In the first campaign David signally defeated him, and, besides is great number of foot-prisoners, took from him an immense amount of booty in chariots and horses: reserving only a small number of the latter, he hamstrung the rest. The text says "seven hundred"; but in 1 Chronicles 18:4 the number is stated at "seven thousand." The reason of this mutilation was, that horses being forbidden by the Mosaic constitution to the Hebrews, both in war and agriculture, it was of no use to keep them; and their neighbours, placing much dependence on cavalry, but having, for lack of a native breed, to procure them by purchase, the greatest damage that could be done to such enemies was to render their horses unserviceable in war (see also Genesis 49:6; Joshua 11:6; Joshua 11:9). A king of Damascene-Syria [ 'Aram (H758) Dameseq (H1834), i:e., the highlands above Damascus, in later times called simply 'Araam (H758), Syria (1 Kings 15:18; Isaiah 7:1-8; Amos 1:5)] came to his succour; but David routed those auxiliary forces also, and having acquired immense booty, took possession of their country, put garrisons into their fortified towns, and made them tributary.

Verses 4-8

And David took from him a thousand chariots, and seven hundred horsemen, and twenty thousand footmen: and David houghed all the chariot horses, but reserved of them for an hundred chariots.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 9

When Toi king of Hamath heard that David had smitten all the host of Hadadezer,

Toi king of Hamath - Coele-Syria. Northwards it extended to the city Hamath, on the Orontes, which was the capital of the country. The Syrian prince, being delivered from the dread of a dangerous neighbour, sent his son with valuable presents to David, to congratulate him on his victories, and solicit his alliance and protection.

Verse 10

Then Toi sent Joram his son unto king David, to salute him, and to bless him, because he had fought against Hadadezer, and smitten him: for Hadadezer had wars with Toi. And Joram brought with him vessels of silver, and vessels of gold, and vessels of brass:

Joram - or Hadoram (1 Chronicles 18:10).

Verse 11

Which also king David did dedicate unto the LORD, with the silver and gold that he had dedicated of all nations which he subdued;

Which also king David did dedicate unto the Lord. Eastern princes have always been accustomed to hoard up vast quantities of gold (see Layard, 'Nineveh and its Remains,' 2:, p. 344). This is the first instance of a practice uniformly followed by David, of reserving, after defraying expenses, mid bestowing suitable rewards upon his soldiers, the remainder of the spoil taken in war, to accumulate for the grand project of his life-the erection of a national temple at Jerusalem.

All nations which he subdued - i:e., on the east and north of Palestine. The former comprised Amalek, Edom, Moab, and Ammon. 'The main object of David's campaign on the east of the Jordan would be to reduce the fortresses on the frequent heights (Ramoth) of Gilead, and in the rocky fortresses of the Lejah' (Porter's 'Damascus,' 2:, p. 240). 'Some of these were held by the old occupants of the country, on whose territory the Israelites were established; and they were the sources of constant danger and anxiety to the eastern tribes. These intrenched foes of the Hebrews were dislodged and subjugated. And now, garrisoned by the troops of the mighty conqueror, each fortress became the means of confirming and extending his dominions' (Drew's 'Scripture Lands,' pp. 138, 139). Thus, by the conquests of David, the Hebrews had acquired territories equal to the boundaries of the promised land, and affording all the means for accomplishing the great work assigned them. The kingdom of Israel, as now extended, comprised, besides Palestine proper, the various northern states comprehended in the beautiful and wealthy country called by the general name of Aram (Syria), where the Zobahites ruled, as far as the Euphrates; all the region east of the Jordan; the woodlands of Gilead, the fertile plains of the Hauran, and the abundant pasturage of Bashan-all north and west from Hermon, and all east from the loftiest peaks of the Hanran; all the country southeast, especially the Edomite territory, including the command of the eastern harbour of the Red Sea, and the whole line of caravan roads into Arabia, and all the Paran wilds, by which they held the avenues to Egypt, and could control the land commerce between that country and Phoenicia; in short, from Carchemish and Damascus to Elath, and the frontier of Philistia; in other words, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates.

Verse 12

Of Syria, and of Moab, and of the children of Ammon, and of the Philistines, and of Amalek, and of the spoil of Hadadezer, son of Rehob, king of Zobah.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 13

And David gat him a name when he returned from smiting of the Syrians in the valley of salt, being eighteen thousand men.

Returned from smiting of the Syrians, [ 'et (H854) 'Araam (H758). Instead of Syrians, the Septuagint version has Edomites, the Septuagint having read 'Edowm (H123) (1 Chronicles 18:12), which is the true, reading, as is evident from 2 Samuel 8:14 (see Davidson's 'Hebrew Text of the Old Testament,' in loco.)] This conquest, made by the army of David, was due to the skillful generalship and gallantry of Ahishai and Joab (1 Chronicles 18:12: cf. Psalms 60:1-12, title). The valley was the ravine of Salt, in the neighbourhood of Sela, at the foot of Jebel Usdum (the Ghor, or upper part of the Arabah), adjoining the Salt Mountain, at the southwestern extremity of the Dead Sea, separating the ancient territories of Judah and Edom (Robinson's, 'Biblical Researchers,' 2:, p. 283; Porter's 'Handbook,' p. 61; Stanley, 'Sinai and Palestine,' p. 478).

Verse 14

And he put garrisons in Edom; throughout all Edom put he garrisons, and all they of Edom became David's servants. And the LORD preserved David whithersoever he went.

He put garrisons in Edom - with a view to secure his acquisition of so important a dependency. It was, however, after the commencement of the war with the Syrians, and probably on a personal visit to Petra (Psalms 9:9; Psalms 108:11).

Verse 15

And David reigned over all Israel; and David executed judgment and justice unto all his people.

David executed judgment and justice unto all his people. Though involved in foreign wars, he maintained an excellent system of government at home, the most eminent men of the age composing his cabinet of ministers.

Verse 16

And Joab the son of Zeruiah was over the host; and Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was recorder;

Joab ... was over the host - by virtue of a special promise (2 Samuel 5:8). Recorder - historiographer or daily annalist, whose duty it was to register current events of interest and importance in the kings' reigns-an office of great trust and importance in Eastern countries (Herodotus b. 6:, ch. 100:; b. 7:, ch. 9; Morier's 'Persia').

Verse 17

And Zadok the son of Ahitub, and Ahimelech the son of Abiathar, were the priests; and Seraiah was the scribe;

Zadok ... and ... Ahimelech the son of Aniathar were the priests. There is a confusion in the text here (cf. 1 Chronicles 18:16; 1 Chronicles 24:3; 1 Chronicles 24:6; 1 Chronicles 24:31). Ahimelech is substituted for Abiathar - "and Ahimelech the son of Abiathar" for 'Abiathar the son of Ahimelech.' But in 2 Samuel 20:25, and in all other passages, it is Abiathar who is mentioned as contemporary with Zadok. On the massacre of the priests at Nob, Saul conferred the priesthood on Zadok, of the family of Eleazar (1 Chronicles 6:50), while David acknowledged Abiathar, of Ithamar's family, who fled to him. The two high priests exercised their office under the respective princes to whom they were attached. But on David's obtaining the kingdom over all Israel, they both retained their dignity-Abiathar officiating at Jerusalem, and Zadok at Gibeon (1 Chronicles 16:39).

Verse 18

And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over both the Cherethites and the Pelethites; and David's sons were chief rulers.

Cherethites - i:e., Philistines (Zephaniah 2:5).

Pelethites - from Pelet (1 Chronicles 12:3). They were the valiant men who, having accompanied David during his exile among the Philistines, were made his body-guard.

And David's sons were chief rulers, [ kohªniym (H3548) haayuw (H1961)] - literally, priests (which they could not be); or, as Hebrew writers render it, princes, chiefs (1 Chronicles 18:17) - counselors of the crown, particularly in "ecclesiastical" matters (see Gesenius, sub voce).

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 8". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/2-samuel-8.html. 1871-8.
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