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Bible Commentaries
2 Samuel 10

Whedon's Commentary on the BibleWhedon's Commentary



This great contest with the Ammonites was the most fearful and long-continued of all the wars of David. It involved him in war with the Aramean kingdoms, and also with Edom, lasted apparently through five campaigns, and resulted in extending his dominion from the Desert of Paran to the river Euphrates.

Verse 1

1. Ammon The territory of the Ammonites was contiguous to that of the Moabites. See on Genesis 19:37-38. Against this nation Jephthah and Saul had fought and been victorious. Judges 11:32-33; 1 Samuel 11:11.

Verse 2

2. His father showed kindness unto me When and how we are nowhere told, but it was probably during the time of his flight from Saul.

To comfort him To sympathize with him in the time of his mourning for his father.

Verse 3

3. The princes The chiefs or sheiks of the people, who acted as counsellors of the king.

Thinkest thou “Courtiers, especially, are suspicious of each other, and often mislead their sovereigns. They feel themselves to be insincere, and suspect others to be so too.” Clarke.

To search the city This city was Rabbah, the capital city of the children of Ammon. See on 2 Samuel 12:26; Deuteronomy 3:11; Joshua 13:25.

Verse 4

4. Shaved off the one half of their beards “More ignominious than to remove it altogether, although that, among the ancient and modern eastern nations that cultivate the beard, was all offence not to be named without horror. It is very difficult to us to realize the intense appreciation of, and respect for, the beard, which is entertained among the Persians, Arabians, and other bearded nations. This is truly to them the seat of honour. They treat their own beards with respect, suffering no defilement to come near them, and handling them with deliberate care. They bury with solicitude any stray hairs that come from it; to lose it by accident were worse than the loss of the head itself, which would, in their esteem, become ridiculous and useless without this essential appendage. For any one else to touch a man’s beard irreverently, to speak of it lightly, to cast a reproach upon it, were an offence never to be forgotten or forgiven; but to cut or remove it by violence or stealth, were an affront, a disgrace, a horror, which scarcely the heart’s blood of the offender can expiate.” Kitto.

Verse 5

5. Tarry at Jericho The king knew that for these men to appear among their acquaintances before the marks of their dishonour were entirely gone would be to expose them to lasting ridicule and infamy; for all who might see them in that shameful plight would ever after, in their minds, associate them with that misfortune.

Verse 6

6. Stank Were held in abomination. See note on 1 Samuel 13:4.

Sent and hired the Syrians In the note on 2 Samuel 8:3, we have argued that probably this act of the Syrians in helping the Ammonites in their war against Israel was the occasion of David’s Aramean wars. The mere fact that this account occurs in a subsequent chapter does not prove that the events themselves were in the like chronological sequence. The conquest of Ammon is also mentioned in that chapter, (2 Samuel 10:12;) but it could have been no conquest previous to this one, for if David had subdued them before the death of Nahash, how could he have presumed to send this embassy of condolence to Hanun? And, further, if the complete subjugation into which David reduced Hadarezer and his people were previous to this, is it not strange that in this more detailed narrative there is no mention of their revolting from their allegiance?

Beth-rehob Called also in 2 Samuel 10:8, Rehob; a district lying probably southwest of Damascus, and north of Lake Merom. See on Judges 18:28.

Of king Maacah Rather, of the king of Maacah, Maacah being the name of the place, not of the king. The region of Maacah seems to have bordered on Beth-rehob, and extended southward from Mount Hermon. See on Joshua 12:5.

Ish-tob Rather, men of Tob. Tob was the district northeast of Gilead into which Jephthah fled when driven from his father’s house. See margin, and Judges 11:3. In 1 Chronicles 19:6, we are told that the Ammonites derived help from Mesopotamia also, and, according to our interpretation of chap. viii, at a later stage of this same war with Syria, when the Syrians of Damascus interfered to succour Hadarezer, they were also smitten before the army of Israel, and thus all these confederate principalities of Syria became subject to David. Thus the fragmentary narratives of chaps. viii and x of this book of Samuel, and the parallel passages in 1 Chronicles, make up at best only a broken and disconnected account of David’s Syrian wars; and therefore, for want of sufficient data, we may not expect to clear up all discrepancies in numbers that appear between the separate accounts.

Verse 8

8. At the entering in of the gate That is, most obviously, at the gate of their capital city, Rabbah.

Syrians… by themselves in the field The record in 1 Chronicles 19:7 is, they pitched before Medeba, a city some distance south of Rabbah, and in the tribe of Reuben. See on Joshua 13:16.

Verse 9

9. Before and behind Joab thus seems to have unwittingly taken a position between Rabbah and Medeba, so as to have the Ammonites in front and the Syrians behind. Hence he found it necessary to provide for fighting with both armies at the same time.

Verse 11

11. If the Syrians be too strong for me So the understanding was not to attack both armies at the same time; but Abishai was to watch the success of Joab, and if he was likely to be repulsed, he should not attempt to fight the Ammonites, but come to his help. Nevertheless there was the possibility that the Ammonites might rush forth and attack Abishai’s forces before Joab could come in contact with the Syrians, in which case Joab was not to attack the Syrians, but hold off, ready to render Abishai any needed assistance.

Verse 12

12. Play the men Show yourselves courageous and brave.

The cities of our God The cities God had given Israel. The children of Israel were taught to regard themselves and their land as the property of God. Leviticus 25:23.

Verse 14

14. The children of Ammon… entered… the city Retreated from before the gates of Rabbah, (2 Samuel 10:8,) and fortified themselves within the capital.

Joab returned… to Jerusalem Deeming it unwise to lay siege to Rabbah at that time. Compare 2 Samuel 11:1.

Verse 16

16. Brought out the Syrians… beyond the river By which act he seems to have lost his dominion in that border. See 2 Samuel 8:3. When the Syrian cities beyond the Euphrates learned that their king had been smitten by the army of David they openly renounced their allegiance to the kingdom of Zobah.

Helam A place somewhere beyond the Jordan, and probably near the borders of Syria; but its situation has never been discovered.

Shobach the captain Who was to Hadarezer’s army what Joab was to David’s.

Verse 18

18. Seven hundred chariots In 1 Chronicles 19:18, we have seven thousand. The discrepancy is doubtless the error of a copyist.

Forty thousand horsemen In Chronicles forty thousand footmen, another discrepancy resulting either from the carelessness of some early copyist, or the fragmentary character of these accounts. A fully detailed history of this war would doubtless give us many facts and figures now unknown.

Verse 19

19. They made peace The kings or chieftains under Hadarezer made peace. It seems that Hadarezer himself was not present at this war, so that in this treaty with Israel his officers acted for him.

The Syrians feared to help… Ammon any more They had now suffered two disastrous defeats in attempting to help the Ammonites, the first in the field before Medeba, (2 Samuel 10:8; comp. 1 Chronicles 19:0,) and the second at Helam. But, as we have argued in the notes on 2 Samuel 10:6, and 2 Samuel 8:3, there was yet another engagement subsequent to these, but probably intimately connected with them, and not long after. Hadarezer went to recover his border along the Euphrates, and this act was too much like violation of the peace David had just made with his subject-kings, and hence the war with Hadarezer, the interference of the Syrians of Damascus, and the consequent subjection of all Syria to the kingdom of Israel, recorded in chapter 8.

Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 10". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/2-samuel-10.html. 1874-1909.
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