2 Samuel 8:9
When Toi king of Hamath heard that David had smitten all the host of Hadadezer,
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(9) Toi king of Hamath.—The Vatican LXX. has the name, in accordance with Chron., Tau. Hamath, the capital of the kingdom of the same name, was situated on the Orontes. According to 1Chronicles 18:3. David’s victory was on the borders of this kingdom. It was tributary to Solomon (1Kings 4:24, 2Chronicles 8:3-4), subsequently became independent, and was recovered by Jeroboam II. (2Kings 14:28), and was finally captured by Assyria (2Kings 19:13). It is described as “the great” by Amos (6:2), and a considerable town still occupies its site.

2 Samuel 8:9-11. King of Hamath — This city was also in Syria, and lay north of Judea. To salute him, and bless him — To congratulate him on his good success in the war with Hadadezer, and to wish him continued prosperity. Joram brought with him vessels, &c. — As a present to King David, whose friendship he sought by this embassy. Which David did dedicate to the Lord — These words seem to import, that he was so far from multiplying silver and gold for himself, (which Moses forbade, Deuteronomy 17:16,) that he put all his spoil, or the greatest part of it, into God’s treasury, for the building of the temple, which he designed, and his son was to accomplish, chap. 2 Samuel 7:13. A rare instance of his piety and gratitude to God, by whose aid he conquered; too seldom imitated by kings!8:9-14 All the precious things David was master of, were dedicated things; they were designed for building the temple. The idols of gold David destroyed, 2Sa 5:21, but the vessels of gold he dedicated. Thus, in the conquest of a soul by the grace of the Son of David, what stands in opposition to God must be destroyed, every lust must be mortified and crucified, but what may glorify him must be dedicated; thus the property of it is altered. God employs his servants in various ways; some, as David, in spiritual battles; others, as Solomon, in spiritual buildings; and one prepares work for the other, that God may have the glory of all.Hamath - This appears as an independent kingdom so late as the time of Senacherib Isaiah 37:13. But in the time of Nebuchadnezzar, both Hamath and Arpad appear to have been incorporated in the kingdom of Damascus Jeremiah 49:23. 9. Toi king of Hamath—Cœle-Syria; northwards, it extended to the city Hamath on the Orontes, which was the capital of the country. The Syrian prince, being delivered from the dread of a dangerous neighbor, sent his son with valuable presents to David to congratulate him on his victories, and solicit his alliance and protection. Hamath; another eminent city of Syria. When Toi king of Hamath,.... Which was another small kingdom in Syria, perhaps lately erected to defend themselves against Hadadezer, and this the first king of it, at least the first we hear of; his name is Tou in 1 Chronicles 18:9; where in the Targum he is called king of Antioch. Hamath lay to the north of the land of Canaan; See Gill on Numbers 34:8, it is said (t) to be three days' journey from Tripoli, and that it stands in the midway to Aleppo, on a very goodly plain, replenished with corn and cotton wool, but very much in ruins, and falls more and more to decay: at this day (says my author, who travelled in those parts in the beginning of the seventeenth century) there is scarce one half of the wall standing, which hath been very fair and strong. The king of this place

heard that David had smitten all the host of Hadadezer; the news of which soon reached him, he being in the neighbourhood.

(t) Cartwright's Preacher's Travels, p. 6.

When Toi king of Hamath heard that David had smitten all the host of Hadadezer,
9–12. Congratulatory embassy from Toi king of Hamath

9. Toi] The Sept. agrees with Chr. in reading his name Toü.

Hamath] A kingdom north of Zobah, with a capital of the same name situated on the Orontes. Hamath was one of the kingdoms which were tributary to Solomon, who built cities there (1 Kings 4:24; 2 Chronicles 8:4). After his death it regained its independence until Jeroboam II. recovered it (2 Kings 14:28). A century later it is reckoned among the conquests of Assyria (2 Kings 19:13). The epithet “great,” applied to the city by Amos (ch. 2 Samuel 6:2), attests its importance. A considerable town, retaining the name of Hamah, still occupies the site.Verse 9. - Toi, called in Chronicles Tou, King of Hamath. This was a famous city upon the river Orontes, afterwards called by the Greeks Epiphania, and was situated upon the northernmost boundary of Palestine. Its interest in the present day lies in its having been the capital of the Hittites - a race whose very existence was doubted a few years ago, in spite of the testimony of Holy Scripture; but whose marvellous empire has been lately proved to be historical by Egyptian records on the one side, and cuneiform inscriptions on the other. Unfortunately, inscriptions which they have themselves left behind have not yet found any one capable of deciphering them. In the twelfth century B.C. they were the paramount power from the Euphrates to the Lebanon. For many centuries they contended with the Pharaohs for the possession of Egypt, and while Rameses II. had to make an inglorious peace with the Kheta, as they are called, and marry the king's daughter, Rameses III won a great victory over them, and saved Egypt from thraldom. In the cuneiform inscriptions we find the record of a struggle between Assyria and the Hittites, lasting for four hundred years, during which Shalmaneser made thirty campaigns against them, but they were not finally conquered until B.C. 717, during the reign of Sargon. Fuller details will be found in Dr. Wright's 'Empire of the Hittites,' published by Messrs. Nisbet. Conquest and Subjugation of the King of Zobah, and of the Damascene Syrians. - 2 Samuel 8:3. The situation of Zobah cannot be determined. The view held by the Syrian church historians, and defended by Michaelis, viz., that Zobah was the ancient Nisibis in northern Mesopotamia, has no more foundation to rest upon than that of certain Jewish writers who suppose it to have been Aleppo, the present Haleb. Aleppo is too far north for Zobah, and Nisibis is quite out of the range of the towns and tribes in connection with which the name of Zobah occurs. In 1 Samuel 14:47, compared with 2 Samuel 8:12 of this chapter, Zobah, or Aram Zobah as it is called in 2 Samuel 10:6 and Psalm 60:2, is mentioned along with Ammon, Moab, and Edom, as a neighbouring tribe and kingdom to the Israelites; and, according to 2 Samuel 8:3, 2 Samuel 8:5, and 2 Samuel 8:9 of the present chapter, it is to be sought for in the vicinity of Damascus and Hamath towards the Euphrates. These data point to a situation to the north-east of Damascus and south of Hamath, between the Orontes and Euphrates, and in fact extending as far as the latter according to 2 Samuel 8:3, whilst, according to 2 Samuel 10:16, it even reached beyond it with its vassal-chiefs into Mesopotamia itself. Ewald (Gesch. iii. p. 195) has therefore combined Zobah, which was no doubt the capital, and gave its name to the kingdom, with the Sabe mentioned in Ptol. v. 19, - a town in the same latitude as Damascus, and farther east towards the Euphrates. The king of Zobah at the time referred to is called Hadadezer in the text (i.e., whose help is Hadad); but in 2 Samuel 10:16-19 and throughout the Chronicles he is called Hadarezer. The first is the original form; for Hadad, the name of the sun-god of the Syrians, is met with in several other instances in Syrian names (vid., Movers, Phnizier). David smote this king "as he was going to restore his strength at the river (Euphrates)." ידו השׁיב does not mean to turn his hand, but signifies to return his hand, to stretch it out again over or against any one, in all the passage in which the expression occurs. It is therefore to be taken in a derivative sense in the passage before us, and signifying to restore or re-establish his sway. The expression used in the Chronicles (2 Samuel 8:3), ידו הצּיב, has just the same meaning, since establishing or making fast presupposes a previous weakening or dissolution. Hence the subject of the sentence "as he went," etc., must be Hadadezer and not David; for David could not have extended his power to the Euphrates before the defeat of Hadadezer. The Masoretes have interpolated P'rath (Euphrates) after "the river," as in the text of the Chronicles. This is correct enough so far as the sense is concerned, but it is by no means necessary, as the nahar (the river κ. ἐξ.) is quite sufficient of itself to indicate the Euphrates.

There is also a war between David and Hadadezer and other kings of Syria mentioned in 2 Samuel 10; and the commentators all admit that that war, in which David defeated these kings when they came to the help of the Ammonites, is connected with the war mentioned in the present chapter. But the connection is generally supposed to be this, that the first of David's Aramaean wars is given in 2 Samuel 8, the second in 2 Samuel 10; for no other reason, however, than because 2 Samuel 10 stands after 2 Samuel 8. This view is decidedly an erroneous one. According to the chapter before us, the war mentioned there terminated in the complete subjugation of the Aramaean kings and kingdoms. Aram became subject to David, paying tribute (2 Samuel 8:6). Now, though the revolt of subjugated nations from their conquerors is by no means a rare thing in history, and therefore it is perfectly conceivable in itself that the Aramaeans should have fallen away from David when he was involved in the war with the Ammonites, and should have gone to the help of the Ammonites, such an assumption is precluded by the fact that there is nothing in 2 Samuel 10 about any falling away or revolt of the Aramaeans from David; but, on the contrary, these tribes appear to be still entirely independent of David, and to be hired by the Ammonites to fight against him. But what is absolutely decisive against this assumption, is the fact that the number of Aramaeans killed in the two wars is precisely the same (compare 2 Samuel 8:4 with 2 Samuel 10:18): so that it may safely be inferred, not only that the war mentioned in 2 Samuel 10, in which the Aramaeans who had come to the help of the Ammonites were smitten by David, was the very same as the Aramaean war mentioned in 2 Samuel 8, but of which the result only is given; but also that all the wars which David waged with the Aramaeans, like his war with Edom (2 Samuel 8:13.), arose out of the Ammonitish war (2 Samuel 10), and the fact that the Ammonites enlisted the help of the kings of Aram against David (2 Samuel 10:6). We also obtain from 2 Samuel 10 an explanation of the expression "as he went to restore his power (Eng. Ver. 'recover his border') at the river," since it is stated there that Hadadezer was defeated by Joab the first time, and that, after sustaining this defeat, he called the Aramaeans on the other side of the Euphrates to his assistance, that he might continue the war against Israel with renewed vigour (2 Samuel 10:13, 2 Samuel 10:15.). The power of Hadadezer had no doubt been crippled by his first defeat; and in order to restore it, he procured auxiliary troops from Mesopotamia with which to attack David, but he was defeated a second time, and obliged to submit to him (2 Samuel 10:17-18). In this second engagement "David took from him (i.e., captured) seventeen hundred horse-soldiers and twenty thousand foot" (2 Samuel 8:4, compare 2 Samuel 10:18). This decisive battle took place, according to 1 Chronicles 18:3, in the neighbourhood of Hamath, i.e., Epiphania on the Orontes (see at Numbers 13:21, and Genesis 10:18), or, according to 2 Samuel 10:18 of this book, at Helam, - a difference which may easily be reconciled by the simple assumption that the unknown Helam was somewhere near to Hamath. Instead of 1700 horse-soldiers, we find in the Chronicles (1 Chronicles 18:4) 1000 chariots and 7000 horsemen. Consequently the word receb has no doubt dropped out after אלף in the text before us, and the numeral denoting a thousand has been confounded with the one used to denote a hundred; for in the plains of Syria seven thousand horsemen would be a much juster proportion to twenty thousand foot than seventeen hundred. (For further remarks, see at 2 Samuel 10:18.) "And David lamed all the cavalry," i.e., he made the war-chariots and cavalry perfectly useless by laming the horses (see at Joshua 11:6, Joshua 11:9), - "and only left a hundred horses." The word receb in these clauses signifies the war-horses generally, - not merely the carriage-horses, but the riding-horses as well, - as the meaning cavalry is placed beyond all doubt by Isaiah 21:7, and it can hardly be imagined that David would have spared the riding-horses.

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