Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Ch. 1 Chronicles 19:1-19 (= 2 Samuel 10:1-19). War with the Ammonites and their Aramaean Allies
Chron. here omits the story of David’s kindness in seeking out and befriending Mephibosheth (Meribbaal) the son of Jonathan (2 Samuel 9); the Court History of David which occupies an important place in 2 Sam. is passed over altogether in Chron.
There are several variations in text between 2 Samuel 10. and 1 Chronicles 19 e.g. 1 Chronicles 19:6-7 (addition in Chron.), 16 (omission from Chron.), 18 (variation in reckoning).
Now it came to pass after this, that Nahash the king of the children of Ammon died, and his son reigned in his stead.1. after this] The war with Ammon has already been referred to by anticipation in 1 Chronicles 18:11.
Nahash] Probably not the Nahash mentioned 1 Samuel 11:1.
Ammon] The Ammonites were a kindred race to the Hebrews, being descended according to tradition from Lot, the nephew of Abraham; cp. Deuteronomy 2:19. The two Ammonite names here given are pure Hebrew, Nahash (= “Serpent”) and Hanun (= “Favoured, Fortunatus”); the Ammonite language, like the Moabite, was probably near akin to Hebrew.
And David said, I will shew kindness unto Hanun the son of Nahash, because his father shewed kindness to me. And David sent messengers to comfort him concerning his father. So the servants of David came into the land of the children of Ammon to Hanun, to comfort him.2. sent messengers to comfort him] A usual piece of international courtesy; cp. 2 Kings 20:12. Its breach was resented. In the Tellel-Amarna letters (x. 16) the king of Kardunias writes, “Should not my brother (i.e. the king of Egypt) have heard that I am sick? Why has he not comforted me? Why has he not sent his messenger, not looked into it?” (ed. H. Winckler, p. 23).
But the princes of the children of Ammon said to Hanun, Thinkest thou that David doth honour thy father, that he hath sent comforters unto thee? are not his servants come unto thee for to search, and to overthrow, and to spy out the land?3. the land] 2 Samuel 10:3, the city, i.e. Rabbah.
Wherefore Hanun took David's servants, and shaved them, and cut off their garments in the midst hard by their buttocks, and sent them away.4. shaved them] 2 Samuel 10:4, shaved off the one half of iheir beards. Of course a great insult; cp. Isaiah 50:6.
cut off their garments] Jewish ambassadors are represented on the Black Obelisk (a monument of Shalmaneser II, king of Assyria, now preserved in the British Museum) as wearing robes reaching to the feet; Hanun reduced ambassadors to the level of captives; cp. Isaiah 20:4.
Then there went certain, and told David how the men were served. And he sent to meet them: for the men were greatly ashamed. And the king said, Tarry at Jericho until your beards be grown, and then return.5. Tarry at Jericho] Thus (1) the feelings of the ambassadors would be spared, (2) the insult would be less widely known until it had been avenged.
And when the children of Ammon saw that they had made themselves odious to David, Hanun and the children of Ammon sent a thousand talents of silver to hire them chariots and horsemen out of Mesopotamia, and out of Syriamaachah, and out of Zobah.6. a thousand talents of silver] A very large sum; for a hundred talents Amaziah hired a hundred thousand men (2 Chronicles 25:6).
chariots and horsemen] The Israelite armies on the contrary consisted chiefly of infantry, the country being for the most part unsuitable for horses.
Mesopotamia] Heb. “Aram (Syria) of the two rivers” (cp. Genesis 24:10, R.V. mg.) i.e. probably the land between the Euphrates and the Chaboras. The Greeks used the term Mesopotamia of a wider district, i.e. of the country between the Euphrates and the Tigris. This mention of Mesopotamia is probably premature, for in 1 Chronicles 19:16 the summons of Syrians from beyond the Euphrates is spoken of as a new thing. The corresponding expression in 2 Samuel 10:6 is Beth-rehob, a district which has not yet been identified.
Syria-maachah] R.V. Aram-maacah. Cp. 1 Chronicles 7:15, note; Deuteronomy 3:14; Joshua 12:5; Joshua 13:11.
Zobah] Cp. 1 Chronicles 18:3 note.
So they hired thirty and two thousand chariots, and the king of Maachah and his people; who came and pitched before Medeba. And the children of Ammon gathered themselves together from their cities, and came to battle.7. thirty and two thousand chariots] Cp. 2 Samuel 10:6, which reckons the army (including Maacah) at 33,000, of whom 20,000 are expressly described as footmen. The word “chariots” has probably slipped in from 1 Chronicles 19:6 instead of “men.”
Medeba] In the territory of Reuben; Joshua 13:16. The country round is a table-land suited for the manœuvres of chariots. The place of the rendezvous of the allies is not mentioned in 2 Samuel 10, some words having probably fallen out of the text.
And when David heard of it, he sent Joab, and all the host of the mighty men.8. David … sent Joab] Why in such a crisis did he not go himself? Perhaps because he could watch the gathering of the more serious storm described in 1 Chronicles 19:16-19 better from Jerusalem.
And the children of Ammon came out, and put the battle in array before the gate of the city: and the kings that were come were by themselves in the field.
Now when Joab saw that the battle was set against him before and behind, he chose out of all the choice of Israel, and put them in array against the Syrians.10. he chose out of all the choice] R.V. he chose of all the choice men. The Syrians were the more formidable because of the chariots they had; Joab therefore opposed to them the flower of his army.
And the rest of the people he delivered unto the hand of Abishai his brother, and they set themselves in array against the children of Ammon.
And he said, If the Syrians be too strong for me, then thou shalt help me: but if the children of Ammon be too strong for thee, then I will help thee.
Be of good courage, and let us behave ourselves valiantly for our people, and for the cities of our God: and let the LORD do that which is good in his sight.13. let us behave ourselves valiantly] R.V. let us play the men, as in 2 Samuel 10:12.
the cities of our God] The cities which our God has given us and in which He is worshipped. If these were captured by the enemy, false gods would be worshipped in them. Religious feeling often supplies the place of patriotism in the East.
So Joab and the people that were with him drew nigh before the Syrians unto the battle; and they fled before him.14. drew nigh before the Syrians] Without fear for their own rear advanced against the Syrian front.
And when the children of Ammon saw that the Syrians were fled, they likewise fled before Abishai his brother, and entered into the city. Then Joab came to Jerusalem.15. Joab came to Jerusalem] Probably because he was wanted for the new danger gathering in the North.
And when the Syrians saw that they were put to the worse before Israel, they sent messengers, and drew forth the Syrians that were beyond the river: and Shophach the captain of the host of Hadarezer went before them.16. the Syrians that were beyond the river] i.e. the Syrians of “Mesopotamia”; cp. 1 Chronicles 19:6, note. 2 Samuel 10:16 adds, and they came to Helam; the position of Helam however is unknown, but it was probably not far from the Euphrates.
Shophach] In 2 Samuel 10:16 called “Shobach.” The whole allied army was united under one general.
16–19. The End of the Aramaean War
Three stages are apparent in the war with Zobah, (a) that in which David secured a position on the Euphrates, 1 Chronicles 18:3-8, (b) the stage during which troops from Zobah acted as auxiliaries to the Ammonites, 1 Chronicles 19:6-15, (c) the final stage which ended la the conclusion of a formal peace, ib. 1 Chronicles 19:16-19.
And it was told David; and he gathered all Israel, and passed over Jordan, and came upon them, and set the battle in array against them. So when David had put the battle in array against the Syrians, they fought with him.17. came upon them] Read came to Helam, with 2 Samuel 10:17. According to 2 Samuel 10 the Syrian army assembled at Helam, and was there attacked by David.
But the Syrians fled before Israel; and David slew of the Syrians seven thousand men which fought in chariots, and forty thousand footmen, and killed Shophach the captain of the host.18. seven thousand men which fought in chariots] R.V. the men of seven, thousand chariots. 2 Samuel 10:18, the men of seven hundred chariots.
forty thousand footmen] 2 Samuel 10:18, forty thousand horsemen. Swarms of horsemen have usually formed the strength of armies raised on the eastern bank of the Euphrates; the statement of 2 Sam, may therefore be more accurate than that of 1 Chr.
And when the servants of Hadarezer saw that they were put to the worse before Israel, they made peace with David, and became his servants: neither would the Syrians help the children of Ammon any more.19. the servants] i.e. his vassals and tributaries; in 2 Sam. “all the kings that were servants to Hadarezer.” We are not told what course Hadarezer himself took; possibly, being deserted by his allies, he ceased from hostilities without making any treaty with David.