Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

2 Samuel 10:9

Now when Joab saw that the battle was set against him in front and in the rear, he selected from all the choice men of Israel, and arrayed them against the Arameans.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Joab;   Zobah;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Ammonites, the;   Armies of Israel, the;   Syria;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Beard;   Hadadezer or Hadarezer;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Abishai;   Ammon;   Joab;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Government;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Ammonite;   Hanun;   Joab;   Medeba;   Nahash;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Hadarezer;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Ammonites;   Disciples;   Hadad-Ezer;   Samuel, Books of;   Syria;   Tob;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Abishai;   Ammon, Ammonites;   Joab;   Maacah;   War;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Ambassador;   Ammon, Ammonites, Children of Ammon;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Hanun;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Da'vid;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - War;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Hebrew Monarchy, the;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Choose;   Joab;   Zobah;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Hanun;   Joab;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Before and behind - It is probable that one of the armies was in the field, and the other in the city, when Joab arrived. When he fronted this army, the other appears to have issued from the city, and to have taken him in the rear; he was therefore obliged to divide his army as here mentioned; one part to face the Syrians commanded by himself, and the other to face the Ammonites commanded by his brother Abishai.

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 10:9". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/2-samuel-10.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

The two armies of the Ammonites and the Syrians were drawn up facing one another; the Ammonites supported by the city Rabbah behind them; the Syrians in great force, with numerous chariots able to manoeuvre in the plain in front of Medeba. If Joab advanced against either, he would have the other in his rear.

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Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 10:9". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/2-samuel-10.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

THE GREAT VICTORY WON BY JOAB

"When Joab saw that the battle was set against him both in front and in the rear, he chose some of the picked men of Israel, and arrayed them against the Syrians; the rest of his men he put in the charge of Abishai his brother, and he arrayed them against the Ammonites. And he said, "If the Syrians are too strong for me, then you shall help me; but if the Ammonites are too strong for you, then I will come and help you. Be of good courage, and let us play the man for our people, and for the cities of our God; and may the Lord do what seems good to him." So Joab and the people who were with him drew near to battle against the Syrians; and they fled before him. And when the Ammonites saw that the Syrians fled, they likewise fled before Abashai, and entered the city. Then Joab returned from fighting against the Ammonites, and came to Jerusalem."

Joab's strategy here is clearly visible. David's great commander considered that large force of Syrian mercenaries in his rear as the greatest threat to his success; therefore he chose to lead the charge himself against that force of 33,000 men. It should also be noted that Joab chose "picked men" from the whole army for this vital attack. We may be sure that those famed "six hundred hardened veterans" were among those selected. One of them, Joab's brother Abashai, however, was not chosen, because he was assigned the duty of leading the attack against that great force of Ammonites confronting him in front of the gates of Rabbah.

Remember that those Syrians were mercenaries. They had no patriotic interest whatever in defending Rabbah; and it is not hard to understand what happened. When Joab launched his savage all-out attack against the throng of Syrians, his hardened battle-wise veterans destroyed everyone in their path; and the mercenaries, seeing what they were up against, simply turned tail and fled for their lives. The battle was quickly concluded when the Ammonites, successfully held at bay by Abashai and his men, saw that their mercenaries had fled and that the full force of Joab's contingent would then be added to the forces of Abashai, they also retired into the relative safety of the walls of Rabbah. A great victory had indeed been achieved; but the war was not over.

"Let us play the man for our people, and for the cities of our God; and may the Lord do what seems good to him" (2 Samuel 10:12). Scott L. Tatum called these words, "One of the most inspiring texts of the Bible."[15] Willis also pointed out the purity of Joab's motivation here. "He was fighting to save God's people and God's cities, and also he was willing to trust the outcome of the battle to the will of God."[16]

Joab did not, at that time, undertake the siege of Rabbah, a task that would be resumed later.

Copyright Statement
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 10:9". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/2-samuel-10.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

When Joab saw that the front of the battle was against him before and behind,.... Or "the face" of itF23פני "facies", Pagninus, Montanus. ; armies appeared both before and behind, about to attack him both in front and rear; the Targum is,"and Joab saw that the warriors, or those that made war, were strong against him before and behind:"

he chose of all the choice men of Israel; the most eminent for strength, and valour, and military skill, who had been tried, and were famous for warlike exploits, the flower of the army:

and put them in array against the Syrians; who might be the strongest party, and the best soldiers; though being but mercenaries, if hard beset, would sooner give way, as he might suppose, upon which the Ammonites would do the same.

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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.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 10:9". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/2-samuel-10.html. 1999.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

2 Samuel 10:9 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:

Ver. 9. 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.

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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 10:9". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/2-samuel-10.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Which were the most valuable valiant and expert soldiers.

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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 2 Samuel 10:9". 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

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.

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 10:9". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/2-samuel-10.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

2 Samuel 10:9. The front of the battle — Hebrew, the face of the battle; was against him before, and behind — That is, they had divided their forces, the Syrians appearing before him, and the Ammonites behind him. He put them in array against the Syrians — He also, like an expert commander, presently divided his army into two bodies, and picked out the best soldiers to engage the Syrians, who, it seems, were the strongest, or the most valiant.

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 10:9". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/2-samuel-10.html. 1857.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(9) When Joab saw.—The keen eye of this experienced general at once took in both the advantages and the danger of this disposition of the enemy. He threw his whole force between their two divisions, organising his own army in two parts, one facing the Ammonites and the other the Syrians, but each capable of supporting the other in case of need. The enemy was thus cut in two, while the Israelites formed one compact body. He himself took command of the wing facing the Syrians with the choice troops of Israel, as having the stronger enemy to meet, while he gave the rest of the forces opposing the Ammonites into the hand of his brother Abishai.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 10:9". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/2-samuel-10.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

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:
Joshua 8:21,22; Judges 20:42,43
Reciprocal: 2 Samuel 20:6 - Abishai;  1 Chronicles 19:10 - when Joab;  1 Chronicles 26:28 - Joab;  Jeremiah 50:14 - in array

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 10:9". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/2-samuel-10.html.