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

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

Verse 1

And it came to pass after this, that the king of the children of Ammon died, and Hanun his son reigned in his stead.

The king of the children of Ammon died. — Death is the only king "against whom there is no rising up." as it is in Proverbs 30:31 . Nugus, king of Scythia, slighted certain precious presents sent him by Michal Paleologus, the Emperor, asking whether they could drive away sickness and death; for if so, then they would be worth the receiving. Pachym., Hist., lib. v.

And Hanun his son reigned in his stead. — Or, Chanun. The Greek hath it Annon: a good name, as signifying Gracious, but ill bestowed. There was an ancient Latin poet, contemporary with Virgil and Ovid, called Gratius the Faliseian; he bore a high esteem in that pure age. But this king carried grace in his name only, as did Ptolomeus Euergetes, Antiochus Epiphanes, and some princes and popes.

Verse 2

Then said David, I will shew kindness unto Hanun the son of Nahash, as his father shewed kindness unto me. And David sent to comfort him by the hand of his servants for his father. And David’s servants came into the land of the children of Ammon.

Then said David. — Let Hanun be as graceless as he will, David will show himself gracious by being grateful. The same Greek word χαρις signifieth both grace and gratitude. Neither doth the ill success he had argue that he did amiss, as Pellican will have it: for duty is to be done, however it speed or take with wicked persons. What if Hanun were a heathen king? might not his friendship be therefore sought? might not his father’s courtesy be requited? If a very dog fawn upon us, we stroke him on the head, and clap him on the side: much less is the common band of humanity untied by grace.

As his father showed kindness unto me. — What this kindness was in particular, the Scripture showeth not: the Hebrews say, that when the king of Moab had slain David’s parents and brethren - whom he left with him for safeguard from Saul - one of his brethren escaped and fled to Nahash, king of Ammon, who helped him. Abulensis, Lyra, Angelomus, and others say, that when David fled from Achish, king of Gath, he came to the king of Ammon, who showed him kindness, and out of his hatred to Saul, their common enemy, bestowed many favours upon him. This David now desireth to requite, but meeteth with coarse entertainment.

Verse 3

And the princes of the children of Ammon said unto Hanun their lord, Thinkest thou that David doth honour thy father, that he hath sent comforters unto thee? hath not David [rather] sent his servants unto thee, to search the city, and to spy it out, and to overthrow it?

Thinkest thou that David, …?q.d, We think otherwise: wicked men muse as they use, and measure others by their own foot. These tale bearers - besides the old quarrel Genesis 3:15 compare Matthew 23:13 Acts 13:10 Proverbs 29:27 1 John 3:8 - retained a hereditary hatred against Israel. See Deuteronomy 23:3-5 . And hence these evil surmises, calumnies, and sinful counsels, whereof at length themselves had the worst.

“ ηδε κακη βουλη τω βουλευσαντι κακιστη ”

Verse 4

Wherefore Hanun took David’s servants, and shaved off the one half of their beards, and cut off their garments in the middle, [even] to their buttocks, and sent them away.

Wherefore Hanun took David’s servants. — His ambassadors, whom to misuse was against the law of nations, and severely punished by the Romans upon the Corinthians, whose city they razed and destroyed for some contumelious speeches given to their ambassadors. But Hanun did not only reproach and revile these men, sed turpiter deformavit Legatorum vultum et vestitum, but basely deformed and abused them, 1 Chronicles 19:4 which the Vulgate rendereth, Decalvavit, rasit, praecidit tunicas eorum, making it a threefold indignity and ignominy that he put upon them.

And shaved off the one half of their beards. — Which, amongst the Greeks and the Egyptians, was wont to be done in derision and for a scorn. Imo apud omnes nationes probrosum est barbam vellere. Plut., in Ages. Herod. Euterp. But there was more in it than all this; for these Ammonites knew that the Israelites were forbidden either a shaven beard or a short garment. In despite therefore, likely, to their law, David’s ambassadors are sent away with both. Julian the apostate served the Christians, whom he contumeliously called Galileans, in like sort, writing books against their gospel, and robbing them of their riches, that, as he said, they might go more readily to heaven.

And cut off their garments. — Which the Hebrews wore long and side, both for ease and honesty. See Isaiah 20:4 ; Isaiah 47:2-3 . As for those Christiansthat separate knowledge and good conscience, they deal by their holy calling, saith one, as Hanun did by David’s servants, when he disguised them, and cut heir garments in the midst.

Even to their buttocks. — That the shame of their nakedness might appear, and especially that of their circumcision, so derided by the heathen.

Credat Iudaeus Apella

Verse 5

When they told [it] unto David, he sent to meet them, because the men were greatly ashamed: and the king said, Tarry at Jericho until your beards be grown, and [then] return.

When they told it unto David. — Who could not but feel his own cheeks shaven, and his own coat cut in his ambassadors, who did but carry his person to Hanun: like as also Christ’s faithful ministers do his to the world, 2 Corinthians 5:20 which is therefore charged to "do his prophets no harm."

Tarry at Jericho. — In some cottage or village thereabouts: for Jericho was not rebuilt till long after. 1 Kings 16:34

Verse 6

And when the children of Ammon saw that they stank before David, the children of Ammon sent and hired the Syrians of Bethrehob, and the Syrians of Zoba, twenty thousand footmen, and of king Maacah a thousand men, and of Ishtob twelve thousand men.

Saw that they stank before David. — Who could not but be very sensible, they knew, of their odious indignity done to his ambassadors, and would surely revenge it; as there was never any prince so poor and despicable that would put up such an affront: and shall Jesus Christ? I think not. Julian, for instance, paid for his petulancy.

And of Ishtob. — Which signifieth, A good man; but this was such another for true goodness as our late Bishop Goodman, who died a professed Papist, Feb. 19, 1655, soon after whom followed, to the great grief of all good men, that most reverend Archbishop Ussher, an Ishtob indeed, who better deserved the surname of Bonus Good, than ever did Phocion the Athenian. Cleri debonestamentum, Godf. Goodman. Praesulum decus ille Jacobus Armachanus. - Gatak. Cinnus, cap. 5.

Verse 7

And when David heard of [it], he sent Joab, and all the host of the mighty men.

He sent Joab. — As far as Medeba, a city in the borders of Amnon, choosing rather to make that the seat of the war than his own country.

Verse 8

And the children of Ammon came out, and put the battle in array at the entering in of the gate: and the Syrians of Zoba, and of Rehob, and Ishtob, and Maacah, [were] by themselves in the field.

At the entering in of the gate, — viz., Of Medeba; 1 Chronicles 19:7 ; 1 Chronicles 19:9 for that bush they thought good to keep on their backs, however the day should happen; and that stake to have still in store, however the dice chanced to turn. But how wretchedly reckless was Pompey, who never considered into what place he should retire if beaten by Julius Caesar, as he was at the Pharsalian field.

Were by themselves in the field. — As not fit to be trusted near the town, being such a multitude of mercenaries, and, in reference to David, who had lately subdued them, a rabble of rebels.

Verse 9

When Joab saw that the front of the battle was against him before and behind, he chose of all the choice [men] of Israel, and put [them] in array against the Syrians:

He chose of all the choice men of Israel. — This was a special piece of military prudence in Joab, who was an accomplished general, no whit inferior to Hannibal the Carthaginian, Decebalus the Dacian, Albert of Brandenburg, whom they commonly called Achilles Teutonicus, or any other famous for warlike skill and prowess.

Verse 10

And the rest of the people he delivered into the hand of Abishai his brother, that he might put [them] in array against the children of Ammon.

And the rest of the people. — Thus Joab, consilium e re nata capiens, opposeth one stratagem to another, and getteth the day, though nothing so strong as the enemy. The like hereunto did Judas Maccabeus, and before him Claudius Nero, the Roman consul, who, hearing that Asdrubal the Carthaginian was coming into Italy with a great army to join with his brother Hannibal, secretly and speedily took the flower of his forces, and setting upon Asdrubal, beat him and slew him, and then tumbling his head toward his brother Hannihal’s trenches, so amazed him and discouraged him, that he was glad to retreat into an utmost nook of Italy for his own security. Liv., decad, iii. lib. vii.

Verse 11

And he said, If the Syrians be too strong for me, then thou shalt help me: but if the children of Ammon be too strong for thee, then I will come and help thee.

If the Syrians be too strong for me. — As the issue of war is uncertain, and the best cause hath not always the best success. Howbeit inasmuch as the concord of the commanders is of great consequence, and proeliorum delicta emendationem non patiantur, Veget., lib. i. cap. 14. Errors in war are not to be corrected, Joab prudently maketh this agreement with his brother Abishai. The discord of the Christian commanders in the Holy Land, as they called it, was the loss of so much blood and treasure there, to the dishonour of religion, and the encourragement of the common enemy.

Verse 12

Be of good courage, and let us play the men for our people, and for the cities of our God: and the LORD do that which seemeth him good.

Be of good courage, and let us play the men. — A brave speech, and such as than which a better could not have been uttered by any captain, saith Pellican. Non potest vox duce dignior cogitari. That of Hunniades to his soldiers, when ready to join battle with the Turks, Turk. Hist., fol. 272. is a very good one. Of them both it may be well said, as one did once of Julius Caesar, Si acta eius penitus ignorasses, per linguam tamen militem esse diceres; Had you never heard of their acts, yet you might have known them to have been good soldiers by their very speeches.

And the Lord do that which seemeth him good.Det victoriam cui volet. Let him dispose of the victory as he pleaseth; but let us not be wanting in good courage, whose cause is so good. It is an excellent saying of Demosthenes, the Greek orator, Dει μεν τους αγαθους ανδρας , … It behoveth good men to make good attempts, and therein to hope the best, but to bear valiantly what event soever God shall order them.

Verse 13

And Joab drew nigh, and the people that [were] with him, unto the battle against the Syrians: and they fled before him.

And they fled before him. — As not able to endure so fierce an assault of those most warlike soldiers, the flower of the whole army, - no, not the first shock. How many of them were slain is not said: fight any longer they would not, and to flee they were better prepared by their chariots, than the Israelites were to pursue them.

Verse 14

And when the children of Ammon saw that the Syrians were fled, then fled they also before Abishai, and entered into the city. So Joab returned from the children of Ammon, and came to Jerusalem.

And entered into the city. — See 2 Samuel 10:8 .

So Joab returned from the children of Ammon. — As purposing to take another and a fitter time to deal with them. Ut macul in priori bello inustam delerent.

Verse 15

And when the Syrians saw that they were smitten before Israel, they gathered themselves together.

They gathered themselves together. — That they might be broken in pieces, Isaiah 8:9 as all Immanuel’s enemies must.

Verse 16

And Hadarezer sent, and brought out the Syrians that [were] beyond the river: and they came to Helam; and Shobach the captain of the host of Hadarezer [went] before them.

And Hadarezar sent. — He is elsewhere called Hadadezar: Daleth and Resh ( ã and ø ) being letters very like one to another. Hence some collect probably that the Hebrew letters had the same figure of old as now they have, and therefore were not the same with the Samaritan charactars. The Samaritan Jod is one of the largest; but the Hebrew Jod is one of the least letters, whence that of our Saviour. Matthew 5:18 Hebrew Text Note

And they came to Helam. — A place nowhere else mentioned in Scripture. Perhaps it was the same town of the Arabes Trachonitae, Junius. which Ptolemy calleth Alamtha.

Verse 17

And when it was told David, he gathered all Israel together, and passed over Jordan, and came to Helam. And the Syrians set themselves in array against David, and fought with him.

He gathered all Israel together. — The best of all, and fittest for his purpose; leading them forth himself. See 2 Samuel 8:6 . This put life into his soldiers, as Queen Elizabeth also did by her personal presence at Tilbury Camp; and as the thrice valiant King of Sweden did.

And fought with him. — Very desperately, no doubt; for they had no hope of having quarter, since they had before this rebelled and joined with the Ammonites, to make war against him.

Verse 18

And the Syrians fled before Israel; and David slew [the men of] seven hundred chariots of the Syrians, and forty thousand horsemen, and smote Shobach the captain of their host, who died there.

And David slew the men of seven hundred chariots. — Heb., Slew seven hundred chariots; that is, seven thousand men that fought in chariots Equites curules. 1 Chronicles 19:18

And forty thousand horsemen. — Which yet are said to be footmen. 1 Chronicles 19:18 They might be dragoons, as we now call them; or there might be forty thousand of each sort. The Chronicles are therefore called Paralipomena, because they supply that which was wanting in the former books.

Verse 19

And when all the kings [that were] servants to Hadarezer saw that they were smitten before Israel, they made peace with Israel, and served them. So the Syrians feared to help the children of Ammon any more.

So the Syrians feared. — And perhaps engaged to fight no more in haste against Israel, as the beaten Parthians swore that they would fight no more against the Romans for ever. Vexatio dat intellectum.

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 10". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/2-samuel-10.html. 1865-1868.
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