Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Now it came to pass after this, that Nahash the king of the children of Ammon died, and his son reigned in his stead.
1Ch 19:1-5. David's Messengers, Sent to Comfort Hanun, Are Disgracefully Treated.
1. after this—This phrase seems to indicate that the incident now to be related took place immediately, or soon after the wars described in the preceding chapter. But the chronological order is loosely observed, and the only just inference that can be drawn from the use of this phrase is, that some farther account is to be given of the wars against the Syrians.
Nahash the king of the children of Ammon died—There had subsisted a very friendly relation between David and him, begun during the exile of the former, and cemented, doubtless, by their common hostility to Saul.
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.
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. are not his servants come unto thee for to search?—that is, thy capital, Rabbah (2Sa 10:3).
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, 5. shaved them—not completely, but only the half of their face. This disrespect to the beard, and indecent exposure of their persons by their clothes being cut off from the girdle downwards, was the grossest indignity to which Jews, in common with all Orientals, could be subjected. No wonder that the men were ashamed to appear in public—that the king recommended them to remain in seclusion on the border till the mark of their disgrace had disappeared—and then they might, with propriety, return to the court.
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.
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.
1Ch 19:6-15. Joab and Abishai Overcome the Ammonites.
6. when the children of Ammon saw that they had made themselves odious to David—One universal feeling of indignation was roused throughout Israel, and all classes supported the king in his determination to avenge this unprovoked insult on the Hebrew nation.
Hanun … sent a thousand talents of silver—a sum equal to £342,100, to procure the services of foreign mercenaries.
chariots and horsemen out of Mesopotamia … Syria-maachah, and … Zobah—The Mesopotamian troops did not arrive during this campaign (1Ch 19:16). Syria-maachah lay on the north of the possessions of the trans-jordanic Israelites, near Gilead.
Zobah—(see on 1Ch 18:3).
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. So they hired thirty and two thousand chariots—Hebrew, "riders," or "cavalry," accustomed to fight either on horseback or in chariots, and occasionally on foot. Accepting this as the true rendering, the number of hired auxiliaries mentioned in this passage agrees exactly with the statement in 2Sa 10:6: twenty thousand (from Syria), twelve thousand (from Tob), equal to thirty-two thousand, and one thousand with the king of Maachah.
And when David heard of it, he sent Joab, and all the host of the mighty men.
8. David … sent Joab, and all the host of the mighty men—All the forces of Israel, including the great military orders, were engaged in this war.
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.
9-15. children of Ammon … put the battle in array before the gate of the city—that is, outside the walls of Medeba, a frontier town on the Arnon.
the kings that were come were by themselves in the field—The Israelitish army being thus beset by the Ammonites in front, and by the Syrian auxiliaries behind, Joab resolved to attack the latter (the more numerous and formidable host), while he directed his brother Abishai, with a suitable detachment, to attack the Ammonites. Joab's address before the engagement displays the faith and piety that became a commander of the Hebrew people. The mercenaries being defeated, the courage of the Ammonites failed; so that, taking flight, they entrenched themselves within the fortified walls.
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.
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.
So Joab and the people that were with him drew nigh before the Syrians unto the battle; and they fled before him.
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.
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.
1Ch 19:16-19. Shophach Slain by David.
16. And when the Syrians saw that they were put to the worse before Israel—(See on 2Sa 10:15-19).
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.
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. David slew of the Syrians seven thousand men—(Compare 2Sa 10:18, which has seven hundred chariots). Either the text in one of the books is corrupt [Keil, Davidson], or the accounts must be combined, giving this result—seven thousand horsemen, seven thousand chariots, and forty thousand footmen [Kennicott, Houbigant, Calmet].
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.