Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

2 Samuel 10:4

So Hanun took David's servants and shaved off half of their beards, and cut off their garments in the middle as far as their hips, and sent them away.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Beard;   Mortification;   Rulers;   Thompson Chain Reference - Beard;   Shaving;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Ammonites, the;   Beard, the;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Beard;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Ammon;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Theophany;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Beard;   Hanun;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Ambassador;   Ammon;   Beard;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Disciples;   Nahash;   Samuel, Books of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Abishai;   Ambassador, Ambassage;   Ammon, Ammonites;   Hair;   Joab;   Maacah;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Face;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Ambassador;   Ammon, Ammonites, Children of Ammon;   Beard;   Hanun ;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Beard;   Hanun;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Beard;   Da'vid;   Ha'nun;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Beard;   Jericho;   War;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Hebrew Monarchy, the;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Beard;   Hadadezer;   Joab;   Shaving;   Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia - Ammonites;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Beard;   Hanun;   Jericho;   Naamah;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Shaved off the one half of their beards - The beard is held in high respect in the East: the possessor considers it his greatest ornament; often swears by it; and, in matters of great importance, pledges it. Nothing can be more secure than a pledge of this kind; its owner will redeem it at the hazard of his life. The beard was never cut off but in mourning, or as a sign of slavery. Cutting off half of the beard and the clothes rendered the men ridiculous, and made them look like slaves: what was done to these men was an accumulation of insult.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 10:4". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/2-samuel-10.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

In 1 Chronicles 19:4, more concisely “shaved.” Cutting off a person‘s beard is regarded by the Arabs as an indignity equal to flogging and branding among ourselves. The loss of their long garments, so essential to Oriental dignity, was no less insulting than that of their beards.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 10:4". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/2-samuel-10.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Wherefore Hanun took David's servants,.... His ambassadors:

and shaved off one half of their beards; that is, he ordered them to be shaved off; than which a greater indignity could not have been well done to them and to David, whom they represented, since the Israelites shaved not their beards, and were very careful of preserving them; for had it been the custom to shave, they might have shaved off the other half, and then they would not have appeared so ridiculous; and with other people it has been reckoned a very great punishment as well could be inflicted, and as great an affront as could well be offered, to mar a man's beard, or shave it off in whole or in partF16Apollon. Vit. Philostrat. l. 7. c. 14. . The Lacedemonians, as PlutarchF17In Agesitao. relates, when any fled from battle, used, by way of reproach, to shave off part of their beards, and let the other part grow long; and with the Indians, as Bishop Patrick observes from an ancient writer, the king used to order the greatest offenders to be shaven, as the heaviest punishment he could inflict upon them; but what comes nearest to the case here is what the same learned commentator quotes from Tavernier, who in his Indian Travels tells us, that the sophi of Persia caused an ambassador of Aurengzeb to have his beard shaved off, telling him he was not worthy to wear a beard, and thereupon commanded it should be shaved off; which affront offered him in the person of his ambassador was most highly resented by Aurengzeb, as this was by David:

and cut off their garments in the middle, even to their buttocks; and as they wore long garments in those countries, without any breeches or drawers under them, those parts by these means were exposed to view which modesty requires should be concealedF18"Dimidiasque nates Gallica palla tegit". Martial. ; so that they must be put to the utmost shame and confusion:

and sent them away; in this ridiculous manner, scoffing and leering at them no doubt; that since they came with compliments of condolence, it was proper they should appear in the habit of mourners, with their beards shaved, and their garments rent; cutting of garments, and standing in them from morning tonight, was a punishment of soldiers with the Romans, when they offendedF19Valer. Maxim. l. 2. c. 2. .

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 10:4". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/2-samuel-10.html. 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Hanun took David‘s servants, and shaved off the one half of their beards — From the long flowing dress of the Hebrews and other Orientals, the curtailment of their garments must have given them an aspect of gross indelicacy and ludicrousness. Besides, a knowledge of the extraordinary respect and value which has always been attached, and the gross insult that is implied in any indignity offered, to the beard in the East, will account for the shame which the deputies felt, and the determined spirit of revenge which burst out in all Israel on learning the outrage. Two instances are related in the modern history of Persia, of similar insults by kings of haughty and imperious temper, involving the nation in war; and we need not, therefore, be surprised that David vowed revenge for this wanton and public outrage.

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 10:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/2-samuel-10.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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.

Shaved — To fasten this is a reproach upon them, and to make them ridiculous and contemptible.

Cut off, … — This was worse than the former, because the Israelites wore no breeches, and so their nakedness was hereby uncovered.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
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Wesley, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 10:4". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/2-samuel-10.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

2 Samuel 10:4 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.

Ver. 4. 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. (a) 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

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 10:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/2-samuel-10.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

2 Samuel 10:4. Wherefore Hanum took David's servants, &c.— The wearing of long beards and garments was then, as it still is, the fashion of the East, where they were deemed badges of honour; and, consequently, the cutting off or curtailing of either was regarded as the greatest indignity. Nay, in some places, the cutting off of the beard was not only looked upon as matter of the highest reproach, but also of the severest punishment. So it was anciently among the Indians, and is at this day among the Persians. It was one of the most infamous punishments of cowardice in Sparta, that they who turned their backs in the day of battle were obliged to appear abroad with one half of their beard shaved, and the other half unshaved. There were two reasons which caused the Easterns of old, as well as at present, to look upon the beard as venerable: in the first place, they considered it as a natural ornament designed to distinguish men from women; secondly, it was the mark of a free man in opposition to slaves: so that, in every view, the insult of Hanun to the ambassadors of David was capital. It was a violation of the laws of hospitality, and of the right of nations. See Tavernier's Voyages to the Indies, part 2: book 2 chap. 7.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 10:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/2-samuel-10.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Shaved off the one half of their beards; partly that he might compel them to bear a part in their mourning, and that in such a way as was usual with them, but forbidden to the Israelites, Leviticus 19:27 Deuteronomy 14:1; which probably was not unknown to them; and partly to fasten this as a reproach upon them, and to make them ridiculous and contemptible. Compare Isaiah 20:4 47:2 50:6.

Even to their buttocks: this was worse than the former, because the Israelites wore no breeches, and so their nakedness was hereby uncovered. Compare Isaiah 20:4.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 2 Samuel 10:4". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/2-samuel-10.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

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.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 10:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/2-samuel-10.html. 1874-1909.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Away, having forced them as it were to go into mourning for the deceased king. These nations adopted the same customs as the Hebrews: they cut their hair, and rent their garments, to express their deep affliction, Isaias xv. 2. The Arabs would deem it a great insult, and a piece of irreligion, to shave their beard. (Darvieux vii. p. 175.) Plutarch (Agesil) observes, that the Lacedemonians obliged those who acted in a cowardly manner in war, to wear only one wisker: and Herodotus (ii. 121,) takes notice of a person who, in contempt, cut off the beard on the right cheeks of some soldiers, who were placed to guard the body of his brother, who had been gibbeted, having first made them drunk, that he might take away the body. The garments (Aquila says, "the tunic," Septuagint, "the cloak, or mandua," which is a military garment used in Persia) were cut (Calmet) for the same purpose, like our spencers, (Haydock) that the ambassadors might be exposed to derision, as breeches were not usually worn, (Calmet) except by priests officiating. (Du Hamel) --- This was in contempt of circumcision. (Menochius) --- Yet we cannot suppose, but that the ambassadors would procure something to cover themselves before they arrived at Jericho, where they remained till their beard and the hair of their head (1 Paralipomenon xix.) were grown. The city was not rebuilt, but there were some houses in the territory of that devoted place, Josue vi. 26. (Haydock)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 10:4". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/2-samuel-10.html. 1859.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

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.

Hanun ... shaved off the one half of their beards. From the long flowing dress of the Hebrews and other Orientals, the curtailment of their garments must have given them an aspect of gross indelicacy and ludicrousness. Besides, a knowledge of the extraordinary respect and value which has always been attached, and the gross insult that is implied in any indignity offered, to the beard in the East, will account for the shame which the deputies felt, and the determined spirit of revenge which burst out in all Israel on learning the outrage. Two instances are related in the modern history of Persia of similar insults by kings of haughty and imperious temper, involving the nation in war (see other instances in Joseph Wolff's 'Researches and Missionary Labours,' p. 496; and Graham's 'Jordan and the Rhine,' p. 189); and we need not therefore be surprised that David vowed revenge for this wanton and public outrage.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 10:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/2-samuel-10.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(4) Shaved off the one half of their beards.—According to Oriental ideas, the extremest insult which could have been inflicted. “Cutting off a person’s beard is regarded by the Arabs as an indignity quite equal to flogging and branding among ourselves. Many would rather die than have their beard shaved off (Arvieux, quoted by Keil). It is remarkable that in none of David’s wars does he appear as the aggressor.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 10:4". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/2-samuel-10.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

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.
and shaved
The beard is held in high respect and greatly valued in the East: the possessor considers it as his greatest ornament; often swears by it; and, in matters of great importance, pledges it; and nothing can be more secure than such a pledge; for its owner will redeem it at the hazard of his life. The beard was never cut off but in mourning, or as a sign of slavery. It is customary to shave the Ottoman princes, as a mark of their subjection to the reigning emperor. The beard is a mark of authority and liberty among the Mohammedans. The Persians who clip the beard, and shave above the jaw, are reputed heretics. They who serve in the seraglios have their beards shaven, as a sign of servitude; nor do they suffer them to grow till the sultan has set them at liberty. Among the Arabians, it is more infamous for anyone to appear with his beard cut off, than among us to be publicly whipped or branded; and many would prefer death to such a punishment.
Leviticus 19:27; 1 Chronicles 19:3,4; Psalms 109:4,5; Isaiah 15:2
cut off
Isaiah 20:4; 47:2,3; Jeremiah 41:5
Reciprocal: Isaiah 50:6 - my cheeks

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 10:4". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/2-samuel-10.html.