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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Hadarezer.—On the form of the name see Note on 2Samuel 8:3. He felt the importance of the defeat he had sustained, and now evidently made an effort to rally all his forces, even calling together vassal tribes from beyond the Euphrates.
They came to Helam.—The Hebrew word here is not necessarily a proper name, and might be translated their host; but as the name unquestionably occurs in 2Samuel 10:17, it is better taken as a proper name here also. It is entirely omitted in Chronicles. Its exact situation is unknown, but from 2Samuel 8:3; 1Chronicles 18:3, it is plain that it was in the general direction of the Euphrates and not very far from Hamath.Hadarezer; the same with Hadadezer, 2 Samuel 8:3.
The Syrians that were beyond the river; who having engaged themselves in the former expedition, as was noted before, were now obliged to proceed in their own defence, being also persuaded and hired to this second expedition, 2 Samuel 10:19. Shobach, or Shopach, 1 Chronicles 19:16. 2 Samuel 8:3, who was at the head of this confederacy, and to whom the rest of the kings of Syria were servants, 2 Samuel 10:19,
and brought out the Syrians that were beyond the river; the river Phrat or Euphrates, as the Targum; so the Arabic version and Josephus (y), who says, that he hired them:
and they came to Helam; which, according to the same writer, was king of the Syrians beyond Euphrates; but it seems to be the name of a place, where was the general rendezvous of the Syrian army. Junius conjectures that it is the same with the Alamatha of Ptolemy (z), which he places with the Trachonite Arabs near the Euphrates:
and Shobach the captain of the host of Hadarezer went before them: before the whole combined army, which according to Josephus (a), consisted of eighty thousand foot, and ten thousand horse: this general is called Shophach, 1 Chronicles 19:16 the letters "B" and "P" being of the same pronunciation in the Hebrew tongue, as Kimchi observes, though it is there read "Shobach", in the Syriac and Arabic versions; he was no doubt a very able, valiant, and skilful general, since he is particularly mentioned by name, and whose name was then famous; the Arabic version calls him a spear bearer of Hadarezer.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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
16. And Hadarezer sent, &c.] The correct form of his name is probably Hadadezer. See note on ch. 2 Samuel 8:3. He now mustered his vassals and tributaries (2 Samuel 10:19) from beyond “the river,” i.e. the Euphrates. “Brought out” = caused to take the field: it is the causative voice of the verb “to go out,” which is the technical term for going out to war (1 Samuel 8:20; 2 Samuel 11:1).
and they came to Helam] The words might be translated and their force came; but on the whole it is preferable to take Helam as a proper name, as in 2 Samuel 10:17. It has been proposed to identify it with Alamata, a town west of the Euphrates, but it is nowhere else mentioned, and its site is quite uncertain. This clause is omitted in Chronicles, where also in place of and came to Helam in the next verse we read and came upon them, so that the name of the place is altogether omitted there.Verse 16. - Hadarezer (see note on 2 Samuel 8:3). Hadarezer probably had been well content to let his subjects receive the pay of the Ammonites, and extend his empire at their cost. But as paramount king in Aram, the defeat of the mercenaries obliged him to make the war a national affair, and undertake the management of it himself. He therefore summons troops from all the Aramean states on both sides of the Euphrates, and places his own general, Shobach, in command, and makes Helam the place of gathering. Helam. No such place is known, and the word might mean "their army," in which case the translation would be, "and they came in full force." The Vulgate takes it in this way, but makes the verb the causative singular, and translates, "and he brought their army." On the other hand, the LXX., the Syriac, and the Chaldee make it a proper name here, as even the Vulgate necessarily does in ver. 17, where there can be no doubt. In the parallel place (1 Chronicles 19:16, 17) it is omitted in the first place, and in the second we find in its stead, "upon them." Either, therefore, the chronicler did not know of such a place, or the text is corrupt. Ewald and others suppose that Helam may be identified with Alamata; but we learn from 1 Chronicles 18:3 that the battle was fought near Hamath, and Alamata is on the Euphrates, too far away for David to have made his attack there. 2 Samuel 10:11): "If Aram becomes stronger than I((i.e., overpowers me), come to my help; and if the Ammonites should overpower thee, I will go to help thee." Consequently the attack was not to be made upon both the armies of the enemy simultaneously; but Joab proposed to attack the Aramaeans (Syrians) first (cf. 2 Samuel 10:13), and Abishai was merely to keep the Ammonites in check, though there was still a possibility that the two bodies of the enemy might make their attack simultaneously.
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