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Bible Commentaries

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible
2 Samuel 8

 

 

Introduction

SECTION 6. David And His House Are Established And He Is Promised That His Kingship Through His Seed Will Be For Ever (5:6-10:19).

In this section we will see how David’s rule is established far and wide as the nations come in submission to him, some voluntarily, others as a result of being overcome. It covers the whole of his reign in a series of vignettes which demonstrate his widespread glory, and builds up to YHWH’s promise that the kingship of his house will last for ever. But their order is not chronological, but topical. They are a depiction of David’s growing greatness and power, leading up to the guarantee that the kingship of his house will last for ever, and a description of the defeat of his most powerful enemies. Thus:

1). David initially purified Israel. He removed the one remaining specifically Canaanite bastion which was situated right in the middle of his kingdom, thus making clear the triumph of Yahwism, and the fact of the purifying of the land. At the same time he replaced the idolatrous king-priest of Jerusalem by establishing himself as YHWH’s priest-king over Jerusalem. He would see this as what Mechi-zedek had been before him when he had been ‘the priest of the Most High God’ who had ministered to Abraham. The idea was therefore based on a hallowed tradition (see Genesis 14:18-20). Like Judah previously (Judges 1:7) David had already shown his reverence for Jerusalem when he had brought the head of Goliath there (1 Samuel 17:54). This would either have been because he was patterning his behaviour on that of Abraham who had paid tithes to Jerusalem after his victory (Genesis 14:18-20) or because the tradition had grown up that saw Jerusalem as having been built on the mountains of Moriah, where Abraham had offered up Isaac (see 2 Chronicles 3:1). This reception of an ancient, traditionally respectable, priesthood would add a new religious dimension to his reign. Now David could be seen as lord over the whole land and as the nation’s intercessory priest, with the priests and Levites fulfilling their duties in accordance with the Law subject to his priestly control as priest of the Most High God (see 1 Chronicles 9:10-34; 1 Chronicles 15:16-24), something which he took advantage of in setting up the worship at the Tabernacle and Tent of Meeting (e.g. 1 Chronicles 9:23; 1 Chronicles 15:16).

2). David’s Kingship was seen as established because he dwelt in a house of cedar. David’s palace was built for him by the ‘princes’ of palace building, the Tyrians, in a clear act of treaty friendship from the greatest maritime nation in the world, which was thereby demonstrating its respect for David. Like the greatest of kings David now dwelt in a house of cedar. YHWH had upraised him so that he might join them in their glory. But we should recognise that this is symbolically preparatory for the even better ‘house’ that YHWH has destined for David (2 Samuel 7).

3). David produced a prolific number of sons and daughters. This was something seen in those days as very necessary to a great king, and as demonstrating the blessing of YHWH. David thus had a quiver full of children demonstrating that he was blessed by God (Psalms 127:5).

4). David triumphed over the Philistines twice, driving them back and routing them, while at the same time seizing their gods which he himself takes possession of (and burns), thus demonstrating to all the superiority of YHWH. It fully avenges the time when the Philistines had previously seized the Ark of God, and had publicly displayed it (1 Samuel 5-7). Now David was again the Smiter of the Philistines.

5). Having taken Jerusalem David brought the Ark of the Covenant of YHWH, the Ark of The Name of Him Who sits between the Cherubim, into Jerusalem and established it in its own special Tent as an indication that from now on this was to be where YHWH symbolically dwelt and ruled, making Jerusalem YHWH’s royal city with David as His intercessory priest-king. David was thus revealed as YHWH’s triumphant War-leader and Prince who by YHWH’s power had established YHWH as King in Jerusalem.

6). The house of Saul loses its final opportunity of participating in the blessing as a result of Michal’s barrenness resulting from her attitude towards David’s worship of YHWH.

7). David’s ‘House’ (his dynasty) was to be established for ever in its place in the purposes of God, something which will culminate in the everlasting king over the everlasting kingdom (e.g. Genesis 49:10-12; 1 Samuel 2:10; Isaiah 9:6-7; Isaiah 11:1-4; Ezekiel 37:25; Daniel 7:13-14; Psalms 2:7-12). The reign of David’s house was thus to be everlasting.

8). David exercises his priestly ministry in a prayer of thanksgiving to YHWH.

9). Through the help and power of YHWH David triumphs over all who oppose him bringing wealth into the Tabernacle and greatness to his name.

10). David’s sons themselves become priests.

11). David fulfils his promise to Jonathan and establishes his son both in his ancestral lands and at the royal court, thus showing favour to the house of Saul for Jonathan’s sake as he had promised. In contrast with Michal Mephibosheth has a son, demonstrating YHWH’s compassion on what remains of the house of Saul.

12). David defeats the greatest current threat to Israel by defeating the Aramaean Empires and rendering their kings harmless.

It must be noted that underlying what is described here, and indeed underlying the whole Davidic narrative, are the words, ‘And the Spirit of YHWH came on David from that day forward’ (1 Samuel 16:13). That was the reason why David was so continually successful and what enabled him to glorify YHWH in all aspects of life. (And it was that same Spirit Who would later empower the everlasting King).

We can thus analyse this Section as follows:

Analysis.

a David Reacts To Taunts And Captures Jerusalem Thus Purifying And Uniting The Land (2 Samuel 5:6-10).

b Hiram Builds David A House Of Cedar Which Demonstrates the Establishment Of His House And Kingship On Behalf Of God’s People (2 Samuel 5:11-12).

c David Bears Many Sons (2 Samuel 5:13-16).

d David Utterly Defeats The Philistines Releasing Their Grip For Ever On Israel (2 Samuel 5:17-25).

e David Brings The Ark Of God Containing the Covenant Into Jerusalem With Rejoicing Expressing His Love For And Dedication To YHWH (2 Samuel 6:1-19).

f Michal Expresses Her Disgust At David’s Behaviour Resulting In The Barrenness Of The House Of Saul (2 Samuel 6:20-23).

g David Wishes To Build A House Of Cedar For YHWH And Learns That YHWH Is Above Houses Of Cedar (2 Samuel 7:1-7).

f The House Of David Is To Be Fruitful Result In An Everlasting Kingship (2 Samuel 7:8-17).

e David’s Prayer Expresses His Gratitude To YHWH For All His Goodness (2 Samuel 7:18-19).

d David Utterly Defeats All His Enemies Round About Freeing Israel From The Threat Of Invasion (2 Samuel 8:1-15).

c David’s Sons Become ‘Priests’ (2 Samuel 8:16-18).

b David Establishes The House Of Saul By Receiving Jonathan’s Son At Court and Giving Him Back His Ancestral Lands (2 Samuel 9:1-13).

a David Reacts To Taunts And Defeats The Greater Powers Who Threaten His Borders Thus Establishing The Land (2 Samuel 10:1-19).


Verses 1-15

David Triumphs Over All His Enemies And Makes A Name For Himself (2 Samuel 8:1-15).

In this passage David’s victories against all his enemies are described, commencing with his taking of ‘the bridle of the mother city (1 Chronicles 18:1 makes clear that this mother city was Gath) out of the hands of the Philistines’. In other words he became overlord over the city to which he had previously been a vassal, the mother city that was seen as in control over all the other Philistine cities. From this point on all of Philistia was in submission to him. The passage will then come to its final conclusion with a picture of his overall successful reign, for, in the final analysis, the reason why YHWH has given him success was so that he might rule justly over God’s people. Taking the enemy’s bridle in hand was a picture of the enemy’s submission, the idea being that the enemy’s horse was now being led by the bridle. The use of the phrase has been confirmed among the later Arabs.

In between these two situations he smote Moab, dealing very severely with her warriors. This may have been following a period when, after initially submitting, Moab had revealed herself to be continuously rebellious, which would be seen as the kind of situation which would necessitate the decimation of her fighting force in order to prevent it happening again (compare a similar idea in Deuteronomy 20:12-13). The smiting of Moab was then followed by the smiting of Hadadezer of Zobab, together with his Aramaean (Syrian) allies. A description is given of the prisoners-of-war taken, and of the way that Hadadezer’s war machine was weakened by the hocking of all his chariot horses, apart from those of one smaller unit (‘one hundred’) which were retained for David’s use. Both Hadadezer and Syria then paid tribute. The result was that Toi of Hamath also peaceably yielded to him, accepting him as his Overlord on a treaty basis, and paying tribute (‘presents’).

Following this there was a second major victory over some Aramaeans who were in alliance with the Edomites, on the southern borders of Judah, a victory which enhanced David’s reputation, and was followed by the subduing of the whole of Edom. The consequence was that now David could rule safely and administer justice in total security over all the land of Israel with no fear of outside interference.

Analysis.

And after this it came about that David smote the Philistines, and subdued them, and David took the bridle of the mother city out of the hand of the Philistines (2 Samuel 8:1).

b And he smote Moab, and measured them with the line, making them to lie down on the ground, and he measured two lines to put to death, and one full line to keep alive. And the Moabites became servants to David, and brought tribute (2 Samuel 8:2).

c David smote also Hadadezer the son of Rehob, king of Zobah, as he went to recover his dominion at the River, and David took from him a thousand and seven hundred horsemen, and twenty thousand footmen, and David hocked all the chariot horses, but reserved of them for a hundred chariots, and when the Aramaeans (Syrians) of Damascus came to succour Hadadezer king of Zobah, David smote of the Aramaeans (Syrians) two and twenty thousand men (2 Samuel 8:3-5).

d Then David put garrisons in Aram of Damascus, and the Aramaeans (Syrians) became servants to David, and brought tribute. And YHWH gave victory to David wherever he went. And David took the shields of gold which were on the servants of Hadadezer, and brought them to Jerusalem. And from Betah and from Berothai, cities of Hadadezer, king David took exceeding much bronze (2 Samuel 8:6-8).

e And when Toi king of Hamath heard that David had smitten all the host of Hadadezer, then Toi sent Joram his son to king David, to salute him, and to bless him, because he had fought against Hadadezer and smitten him, for Hadadezer had wars with Toi.

d And Joram brought with him vessels of silver, and vessels of gold, and vessels of bronze. These also did king David dedicate to YHWH, with the silver and gold that he dedicated of all the nations which he subdued, 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.

c And David obtained for himself a name when he returned from smiting the Aramaeans in the Valley of Salt, even eighteen thousand men (2 Samuel 8:13).

b And he put garrisons in Edom, throughout all Edom put he garrisons, and all the Edomites became servants to David. And YHWH gave victory to David wherever he went (2 Samuel 8:14).

a And David reigned over all Israel, and David executed justice and righteousness to all his people. (2 Samuel 8:15).

Note that in ‘a’ David took the bridle of the mother city out of the hands of the Philistines, and in the parallel he reigned over all Israel, and executed justice and righteousness to all his people, setting up his own court. In ‘b’ he subdued the Moabites, and in the parallel he subdued the Edomites, the two nations which had barred Israel’s way to the Promised Land. In ‘c’ David smote Hadadezer and the Aramaeans who came to his aid, and in the parallel he again smote the Aramaeans. In ‘d’ the tribute and spoils which were brought to Jerusalem are described and catalogued, and in the parallel a similar catalogue of what was given to YHWH is described. Centrally in ‘e’ the king of Hamath enters into a treaty or vassal relationship with David and gives him presents, acknowledging his supremacy.

2 Samuel 8:1

And after this it came about that David smote the Philistines, and subdued them, and David took the bridle of the mother city out of the hand of the Philistines.’

“And after this.” This is simply a general phrase referring back to most of what had happened in 2 Samuel 5-6. What is described in 2 Samuel 7 was simply a flash-forward, demonstrating David’s later expression of gratitude for his house of cedar (2 Samuel 5:11-12), and confirming his words to Michal about the fact that YHWH had permanently appointed him and his house in Saul’s place (2 Samuel 6:21). This is evident from the fact that 2 Samuel 7 took place after he had obtained rest from all his enemies (2 Samuel 7:1). We are now to learn how he obtained that rest.

The first stage was to turn the tables on the Philistines. He had previously been their vassal. But their warlike manoeuvres had now justified him in himself attacking Philistia and bringing it under his own control (thus "he smote the Philistines and subdued them"). Instead of David being the vassal of Achish, he had now become his overlord.

The taking of the bridle of the mother city out of the hands of the Philistines is a vivid description of his taking control of them. To take someone’s bridle meant that you had taken them prisoner and brought them under your control. You led them by the bridle. The mother city is seen in 1 Chronicles 18:1 as referring to "Gath and her daughters". This may suggest that Achish was the senior lord of the Philistines and thus a kind of presiding leader over the council of five, his submission being seen as the submission of them all, or it may simply be because Gath was the city to which David had been subject, whose subjection brought about that of all the others.

Some translators translate "bridle of the mother" as a place name Metheg-ha-ammah, but "taking the bridle" was a recognised phrase indicating the gaining of supremacy over someone (it is known elsewhere as an Arabic idiom) and should be allowed to stand. The importance of this state of affairs should not be underestimated. After a long period of constant invasion by the Philistines the dread of them was removed from Israel. Note how in 1 Kings 2:39 on Achish was apparently a subject king to Israel, and part of the Empire (compare 1 Kings 4:21; 1 Kings 4:24; 1 Kings 8:65; 2 Chronicles 9:26).

2 Samuel 8:2

And he smote Moab, and measured them with the line, making them to lie down on the ground, and he measured two lines to put to death, and one full line to keep alive. And the Moabites became servants to David, and brought tribute.’

Anyone in the writer’s day would have known what this meant. It indicated that Moab had initially submitted to David (possibly after they had invaded the territory of Reuben while David was engaged in subduing the Philistines and had then been themselves subdued) but had then openly rebelled and had severely harassed Israel again. Therefore, as David did not want Israel to have to continually live under the threat of Moabite invasion, they received the harsh treatment meted out to those who acted as traitor and whose treaty promises proved unreliable. Their fighting strength was reduced by summary executions. This was a common practise in the warfare of the day towards those who failed in their submission (compare Deuteronomy 20:12-13). It was the only way of containment and of ensuring that they would not be strong enough to rebel again. (Initially he may well have originally offered them special treaty status because of Moab’s earlier kindness towards him (1 Samuel 22:3-4). For them to have acted against that would have been seen as especially heinous. But the act was clearly felt necessary for the purposes of containment, which does suggest that they were continually harrying Israel. It is a reminder that David was a ‘man of blood’ who would do what he considered necessary to keep Israel secure. It would act as a severe warning to others of what would happen if they too rebelled. The result was (unsurprisingly) that they became his vassals and paid tribute. Indeed, one of the main emphases of this chapter is on the amount of tribute that David received. That was the mark of a successful empire-builder, and it was all committed to YHWH.

2 Samuel 8:3

David smote also Hadadezer the son of Rehob, king of Zobah, as he went to recover his dominion at the River.’

David also smote the local empire-builder Hadadezer, king of Zobah with his arrogance and pretensions to greatness. We should note that this is a summary description of the final result of David’s battles with Zobah and Aram (Syria), which were started by the by the Aramaeans of Zobah (2 Samuel 10:6). So David was not necessarily the original aggressor. For more detail of this see chapter 10. The name of Hadad-ezer meant ‘Hadad is my help’, Hadad being an Aramaean god (their equivalent of Baal). Hadar-ezer (1 Chronicles 18:3) was probably a dialectic variant. In 2 Samuel 14:47 Zobah (Aram-Zobah in 2 Samuel 10:6; Psalms 60:2) is mentioned alongside Ammon, Moab and Edom as a neighbouring tribe, and as this chapter indicates (2 Samuel 8:3; 2 Samuel 8:5; 2 Samuel 8:9) it was to be found in the vicinity of Damascus and Hamath, thus to the north of Israel, and probably north-east of Damascus. It was clearly in the ascendancy at this time. The fact that Hadad-ezer went to recover his dominion at the River (Euphrates) suggests that he was a belligerent, warlike king who had himself established an empire (unless it refers to his attempt to gain the assistance of mercenaries from fellow-Aramaeans beyond the River - 2 Samuel 10:16). But his interference in the Ammonite war as described in chapter 10 had inevitably made him a target for David. It may also well be the case that one of those who were being invaded by Hadadezer was Toi, the king of Hamath, and that Toi had sent an appeal to David for help. This would explain his action towards David in 2 Samuel 8:10.

2 Samuel 8:4

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

As read by an Israelite this may have signified a large chariot unit (an eleph) of say twelve to twenty chariots, seven military units of horsemen, and twenty larger military units of footmen, with David only keeping the best of the chariot horses sufficient for a smaller chariot unit (see below). The men would be taken as bondservants, with suitably responsive ones, especially mercenaries, possibly recruited into the army, and the ‘numbers’ are mentioned in order to bring out the scale of David’s victory.

The mention of chariot horses indicates that we should expect mention of a chariot unit, which suggests that we see the eleph (‘thousand, military unit’) as referring to a chariot unit. The number of horses taken (which would include more than the chariot horses - compare Isaiah 21:7) were, however, too many, or too unsuitable, to be of any use and were thus rendered unserviceable as war horses by hocking them (cutting their tendons) in order to render them less active and useless for warfare, apart, that is, from sufficient to service a small chariot unit.

The smaller number of horsemen (‘hundreds’) compared with footmen (‘thousand’) may simply indicate that horsemen were in smaller units, or it may suggest that on the whole more horsemen had been able to flee (compare 1 Samuel 30:17). Alternately the terms may have been inter-changeable, both simply indicating military units and simply used to ring the changes (this is what the uses in Samuel and Chronicles appear to suggest). If we do not see the ‘thousand’ as referring to a large chariot unit (say, of twelve to twenty chariots) as we have suggested, the horsemen who were captured would be seen as consisting of one large unit (a ‘thousand’) and seven smaller units (seven ‘hundreds’), the hundreds as opposed to the thousand may then suggest that only one entire unit of horsemen had been captured, together with remnants from the other units (but the reference to chariots is more likely. See also below). These would compare with the twenty large military units of footmen, who, of course, had not been able to make their escape, being trapped by David’s chariots and horsemen.

However, in the parallel passage 1 Chronicles 18:4 has ‘a thousand chariots, seven thousand horsemen and twenty thousand footmen’ which supports our first conjecture. The question of large ‘numbers’ is a difficult one in the Old Testament as numbers tended to be used adjectivally in order to give an impression, rather than strictly numerically, and the words used for such numbers could also indicate a particular type and level of grouping (family, military unit, etc). We must remember that most Israelites could not in fact think accurately in large numbers, being unfamiliar with them. They did not think numerically. So it may well be that the verse here in 2 Samuel is intended to indicate ‘a large unit (of chariots, indicated by the mention of chariot horses. What was seen as a large unit of chariots may well have been numerically smaller than a smaller unit of horsemen), seven smaller units composed of horsemen (their units being smaller than those of footmen), and twenty large units of footmen’, the Chronicler then using ‘seven thousand’ (rather than ‘seven hundred’) for horsemen because by his time a ‘hundred’ was less obviously a military unit, or because the terms were inter-changeable when used of military units. The Chronicler regularly uses ‘thousand’ where Samuel/Kings uses ‘hundred’, and vice versa). If that is so it is simply a matter of what might at first sight appear to be differing numbers rather reflecting changing literary usage. Others consider that there has been a mistake on the part of the writer of Samuel in copying the numbers from the original source. The argument is that numbers were liable to be incorrectly copied because of the signs used in order to indicate them. But it may very well be that the reason is simply one of literary usage, which may seem strange to us in our numerate age but would have been fully understood then.

2 Samuel 8:5

‘And when the Aramaeans (Syrians) of Damascus came to succour Hadadezer king of Zobah, David smote of the Aramaeans (Syrians) two and twenty thousand men.’

When the Aramaeans of Damascus (Damasheq) came hotfoot to the rescue of the Aramaeans of Zobah they too were soundly beaten, with the result that they lost twenty two military units. David’s mighty men with their accompanying troops were proving mightily effective (and it was because the Spirit of YHWH was continually with David - 1 Samuel 16:13). It must be recognised that the continuing campaign against the Aramaeans is substantially abbreviated. The details, which the writer was little interested in (he was interested in David’s triumph as a result of the power of YHWH), would have been much more complicated as consideration of chapter 10, which is also an abbreviated account, reveals.

2 Samuel 8:6

Then David put garrisons in Aram (Syria) of Damascus, and the Aramaeans (Syrians) became servants to David, and brought tribute. And YHWH gave victory to David wherever he went.’

The result for the Aramaeans was that David put garrisons in Aram of Damascus, and the Aramaeans became vassals of David, and began to pay tribute. And we are then informed that it was not only the Aramaeans who were defeated, for David was given the victory by YHWH wherever he went. No one could stand before his attacks.

2 Samuel 8:7

And David took the shields of gold which were on the servants of Hadadezer, and brought them to Jerusalem.’

Having defeated Hadadezer David then proceeded to strip his kingdom of its riches, riches which had, of course, all been gained from Hadad-ezer’s empire building. The highlight of these riches were the shields of gold borne by Hadad-ezer’s bodyguard, or by his vassal princes, courtiers and commanders. And all this booty was brought to Jerusalem to be presented before YHWH, and put in the treasury.

2 Samuel 8:8

And from Betah and from Berothai, cities of Hadadezer, king David took exceeding much bronze.’

Further booty was obtained from Hadad-ezer’s other cities, such as Betah and Berothai, although in this case of the lesser metal, bronze. 1 Chronicles 18:8 gives different names, probably reflecting a modernising of names which had taken place over a period of time. (In fact many cities regularly had more than one name. Geographical descriptions tended to be loose).

2 Samuel 8:9-10

And when Toi king of Hamath heard that David had smitten all the host of Hadadezer, then Toi sent Joram his son to 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 bronze.’

When the news of David’s victories reached the ears of Toi, king of Hamath (who may well have previously called on David for assistance) he sent his son Joram to David to salute him (probably in homage) and to show his gratitude towards him. Certainly David’s activity had relieved the pressure on his country, for Hadad-ezer had been continually harassing Hamath and threatening Toi. Toi clearly saw a treaty of friendship with David as a better option. Thus his son brought to David a thanksgiving gift which was little short (if at all) of tribute. It consisted of silver, gold and bronze. All this silver, gold and bronze would be stored up by David to be used in the building of the Temple

1 Chronicles gives the name Hadoram instead of Joram. The latter, an Israelite name, was probably a name given to him by David, replacing Hado- (for Hadad) with Yo- (for YHWH) in connection with the acceptance of his homage (or even possibly his conversion to YHWH).

2 Samuel 8:11-12

These also did king David dedicate to YHWH, with the silver and gold that he dedicated of all the nations which he subdued, of Aram (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.’

All these gift David dedicated to YHWH, the architect of his victories, along with the silver and gold of all his other victories, including those over Aram, over Moab, over Ammon, over the Philistines, over Amalek (possibly that mentioned in 1 Samuel 30), and especially over Zobah. He had thus gained victories in the North (Aram), the East (Moab and Ammon), the West (Philistia), and the South (Amalek). None could stand before him, and all paid tribute to him. And in most cases David had not been the initial aggressor.

2 Samuel 8:13

And David obtained for himself a name when he returned from smiting the Aramaeans (Syrians) in the Valley of Salt, even eighteen thousand men.’

Some, however, continued to try to obtain his downfall, and the result was that David was able to make a name for himself by defeating eighteen units of combined Aramaean and Edomite strength in the Valley of Salt which was on the southern borders of Judah. The fact that he ‘made a name’ for himself by this may suggest that no tribute was obtained at this time, so that he had to be satisfied with the increase of his reputation, although it may be reflecting YHWH’s promise to give him a great name like the great kings of the earth (2 Samuel 7:9). The combined purpose of the whole passage is in order to bring out how David’s name became famous, and how much wealth he obtained as a result of booty and tribute. This war would appear to have been totally defensive, although it did then result in the invasion of Edom, who had been seemingly been allied with the Aramaeans. This fact of an alliance between the two is brought out by 1 Chronicles 18:12, where the Chronicler mentions Edomites, clearly wanting to connect the victory with the invasion that followed (compare also Amos 1:4 for a similar connection). That the Aramaeans did exercise authority around this area comes out in Isaiah 17:1-4 where the defeat of Aram (Syria) also resulted in the distress of Aroer. There were two Aroers, one in Judah near its southern borders (1 Samuel 30:28), and one by the River Arnon, east of the Jordan Rift Valley (Deuteronomy 2:36; Deuteronomy 3:12; Deuteronomy 4:48; Joshua 12:2 and often). Either way it reflected the continued involvement of Aramaeans around that general area. Thus we may well see this as a combined Aramaean/Edomite force.

An alternative is to accept the minority of Hebrew texts in 2 Samuel (and LXX) which read ‘Edom’ for ‘Aram’ (the names being differentiated in Hebrew by the tiniest of changes in one letter). But the textual evidence, such as it is, at present favours Aram.

2 Samuel 8:14

And he put garrisons in Edom, throughout all Edom put he garrisons, and all the Edomites became servants to David. And YHWH gave victory to David wherever he went.’

The consequence of the Aramaean/Edomite invasion was that David retaliated by subduing Edom and setting up garrisons throughout the land, with the result that the Edomites became his vassals, and would, of course, pay tribute. But the writer is at this point more concerned with the fact that he was now making a name for himself as one of the great ones on the earth (2 Samuel 7:9). And once again we are reminded that it was YHWH Who gave victory to David wherever he went (compare 2 Samuel 8:6). The repetition of the phrase highlights it in the passage and gives it special emphasis. It is thus stressed that he owed both his growing wealth and his great name to YHWH.

2 Samuel 8:15

And David reigned over all Israel, and David executed justice and righteousness to all his people.’

The prime aim of David’s efforts, and the great name that he had attained, had been in order that YHWH might establish a righteous state for the benefit of His people, a kind of Kingdom of God. Thus having brought rest from war, and having safely established Israel in peace and security, David now reigned over them as YHWH’s representative in justice, equity and mercy. Note how this is also to be the sign of the great everlasting king (Isaiah 11:1-4).

 


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Bibliography Information
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 8:4". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/2-samuel-8.html. 2013.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, October 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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