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Monday, May 20th, 2024
the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
2 Samuel 10

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-19

2 Samuel 10:4 . Shaved half their beard. The critics make many quotations from ancient authors, showing how high a value eastern nations set on the hair of the head and beard; and even at the present time the mutilating of the beard would be deemed among the Turks the greatest insult that could be offered. In the year 1764, says Motraye, “when Kerim Khan sent to demand tribute for his possessions in Kermesir, Mir Mahenna maltreated the officer, and caused his beard to be shaved.” See also Leviticus 19:0. Deuteronomy 14:0.

2 Samuel 10:5 . Jericho was inhabited, but not fortified.

2 Samuel 10:6 . The Syrians of Beth-rehob. Rehob reigned on the east and west of the Euphrates. David had before defeated these Syrians: 2 Samuel 8:3. The Babylonian empire must, of course, have been weak in the time of David. The cavalry were hired from Mesopotamia. 1 Chronicles 19:0. King Maacah, a prince to whom Jephthah fled. Ish-tob, which Josephus turns, “king of Tob.” Zoba, a city forty miles east of Damascus.

2 Samuel 10:16 . The Syrians beyond the river Euphrates. Helam is not found in ancient maps. King Hadarezer had contributed, through malice, to make David illustrious, and to fulfil the word of the Lord, that the boundary of Israel should be from the river Euphrates to the river of Egypt; and though that kingdom had partially recovered its strength, it was now overthrown, for Solomon built Tadmor, not far from Zobah. 2 Chronicles 8:4.

2 Samuel 10:18 . Seven hundred is here mis-written for seven thousand, as appears from 1 Chronicles 19:18. Horsemen also, as in the Septuagint, and in Josephus, is rendered footmen.


A kindness done to bad men is soon forgotten, unless it be that they ask a repetition of favours; but a kindness done to the good is often amply repaid, and when the least expected. Nahash, and a more worthy person than the Nahash who demanded the right eyes of all the men in Jabesh- gilead, had showed some kindness to David, and now he wished to send a most respectful embassy to congratulate his son on his accession to the throne of his father. This was a duty towards a nation with whom David was at amity. This prince, it would seem, if we may draw a parallel between him and Rehoboam, had dismissed his father’s venerable ministers, and surrounded his person with juvenile companions, who persuaded him to suspect and insult the embassy, which insult was accounted as done to David’s own person. What a calamity when the helm of state is in the hands of a man who has no discretion! But when God is about to ruin a nation, he sends distraction on their councils. When the Ammonites saw the gathering storm, they made no overtures of satisfaction; but hired their neighbours to fight against Israel. Thus wicked men are very apt to involve others in their quarrels and calamities, till a general ruin be the consequence.

The character of Joab, as a general, here rises high. When he saw himself opposed by Ammon, and flanked by his allies, he instantly formed the plans of battle. He chose to fight the Assyrians as the best equipped and disciplined troops, and left his brother to oppose Ammon, giving each other the promise of mutual support, in case of disaster, from the enemy’s numerous forces of chariots and cavalry. This was a prompt and consummate display of skill, as the issue realized. And may not the christian learn of this great, though wicked man, how to stand and fight for God? Sinners are as much infatuated now in opposing the Lord and Saviour, as the Ammonites were in opposing David. He sends them kind messages, inviting them to friendship and love: but infidel in principle, and profligate in habit, they deride his servants, and mock at his message. What then may they not expect from his vengeance? He will trample upon them in his fury, and stain all his raiment with their blood. Let us also learn of Joab and Abishai to support one another in the conflict, and especially in sending missionaries to the ends of the earth, that our glorious David may triumph over all the heathen, and stretch the lines of his empire, wide as prophecy has announced it, to the full extent of his dominion.

The overthrow of Ammon and his allies was the cause of fresh alarms to David’s foes, and of adding fresh laurels to his crown. The king of Assyria attacked him with the whole force of his kingdom, and lost forty thousand men, perhaps twenty thousand more, who fell in the seven thousand chariots. How often have nations, risen in wickedness, and consequently infatuated, destroyed themselves by an injudicious resistance to a rising empire. Evidently doomed in the sentence of heaven to exist no more as nations, they have precipitated themselves into the abyss, and been rolled away in the tempest of desolation. The ruins of their temples and cities, the fragments of their laws and poems alone seem to exist, to tell posterity how great was their glory, how shameful their wickedness, and how tremendous their fall. Yet we ourselves, as though fated to similar calamities, seem incapable of receiving instruction for the future, by a contemplation of the past.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 10". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/2-samuel-10.html. 1835.
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