Matthew Poole's Commentary
And after this it came to pass, that David smote the Philistines, and subdued them: and David took Methegammah out of the hand of the Philistines.David subdueth the Philistines and the Moabites; smiteth the king of Zobah, and the Syrians; placeth a garrison in Damascus, 2 Samuel 8:1-8. Toi sendeth Joram with presents to bless him; which with the spoil he dedicateth to God, 2 Samuel 8:9-13: smiteth the Edomites, and placeth a garrison in their land, 2Sa 14. David’s government and officers, 2 Samuel 8:15-18.
Metheg-ammah, i.e. Gath and her towns, as it is expressed in the parallel place, 1 Chronicles 18:1, which are called Metheg-ammah, or the bridle of Ammah, because Gath was situate in the mountain of Ammah; and because this being the chief city of the Philistines, and having a king, which none of the rest had, was the bridle which had hitherto kept the Israelites in subjection, but now was taken out of their mouths.
And he smote Moab, and measured them with a line, casting them down to the ground; even with two lines measured he to put to death, and with one full line to keep alive. And so the Moabites became David's servants, and brought gifts.He smote Moab; for although the king of Moab, out of hatred to Saul, pretended some kindness to David, and gave protection to his parents, 1 Samuel 22:3,4; yet the Moabites were perpetual and sworn enemies to the Israelites, who therefore were forbidden to admit them into the congregation of the Lord, and to seek their peace and prosperity, Deu 23:6. And though God commanded them in their march to Canaan to spare the Moabites, Deu 2:9,19, yet afterwards they proved unthankful, and insolent, and fierce enemies to God and his people, Numbers 22:2,24:17,18 Jud 3:14, &c.; 1 Samuel 14:47, &c., and thereby provoked God to alter his course and carriage towards them.
With a line, i. e. as with line, the particle as being oft understood, as Psalm 11:1 22:6 45:1. The sense is, having conquered the land, he made an estimate of it, and, as it follows, distributed the towns and people into three parts.
Casting them down to the ground, i. e. overthrowing their towns, and utterly destroying their people in, manner following.
With two lines measured he to put to death; which severity was necessary for his own and his people’s security, because they were numerous and potent, and bordering upon Canaan, and very vexatious and mischievous to the Israelites. And now that prophecy, Numbers 24:7, was accomplished.
David smote also Hadadezer, the son of Rehob, king of Zobah, as he went to recover his border at the river Euphrates.Hadadezer, called Hadarezer, 1 Chronicles 18:3, the Hebrew letters daleth and reseh being alike, and so oft interchanged.
Zobah; a part of Syria, lying north-east from Canaan, towards Hamath, 1 Chronicles 18:3. See 1 Samuel 14:47.
As he went.
Answ. Either, first, Hadarezer; who, being already very potent, and going to enlarge his dominion further, David thought fit to oppose him. Or, secondly, David, who remembering the grant which God had made to his people of all the land as far as Euphrates, and having subdued his neighbouring enemies, went to recover his rights, and stablish his dominion as far as Euphrates.
And David took from him a thousand chariots, and seven hundred horsemen, and twenty thousand footmen: and David houghed all the chariot horses, but reserved of them for an hundred chariots.Chariots; which word is fitly supplied out of 1 Chronicles 18:4, such substantives being oft understood in the Hebrew language, as Genesis 26:30 2 Samuel 21:16.
Seven hundred horsemen, or seven hundred companies of horsemen, i. e. in all seven thousand; as it is 1 Chronicles 18:4; there being ten on each company, and each ten having a ruler or captain, Exodus 18:21 Deu 1:15. Or these seven hundred were the chief and the rulers of the rest, and the remaining six thousand three hundred were the common horsemen, subject to their commanders.
Houghed, i.e. cut the sinews of their legs, that they might be useless for war. Compare Joshua 11:6.
All the chariot horses, except the following reserve. Chariots are here put for chariot horses, as they are 1 Samuel 13:5 2 Samuel 10:18 Psalm 76:6. David did this because he could not keep them for his own use, Deu 17:16.
And when the Syrians of Damascus came to succour Hadadezer king of Zobah, David slew of the Syrians two and twenty thousand men.The Syrians of Damascus, i. e. who were subject to Damascus, the chief city of Syria.
Then David put garrisons in Syria of Damascus: and the Syrians became servants to David, and brought gifts. And the LORD preserved David whithersoever he went.Brought gifts, to purchase their peace, and acknowledge their subjection to him.
And David took the shields of gold that were on the servants of Hadadezer, and brought them to Jerusalem.That were on the servants, or rather, which were with the servants, i.e. committed to their custody, as being kept in the king’s armory; for it is not probable they carried them into the field.
And from Betah, and from Berothai, cities of Hadadezer, king David took exceeding much brass.In 1 Chronicles 18:8, it is from Tibnath and from Chun. Either therefore the same cities were called by several names, as is usual, the one by the Hebrews, the other by the Syrians; or those were two other cities, and so the brass was taken out of these four cities.
When Toi king of Hamath heard that David had smitten all the host of Hadadezer,Hamath; another eminent city of Syria.
Then Toi sent Joram his son unto king David, to salute him, and to bless him, because he had fought against Hadadezer, and smitten him: for Hadadezer had wars with Toi. And Joram brought with him vessels of silver, and vessels of gold, and vessels of brass:Toi sent Joram: here also the names differ from 1 Chronicles 18:9,10, where it is Tou and Hadoram.
Had wars, Heb. was a man of wars, i.e. was exercised with continual wars. Compare Genesis 9:20, &c.
Which also king David did dedicate unto the LORD, with the silver and gold that he had dedicated of all nations which he subdued;Unto the Lord; to the building of God’s temple. So he showed his affection to God and his house, in preparing for it when he was not permitted to build it.
Of Syria, and of Moab, and of the children of Ammon, and of the Philistines, and of Amalek, and of the spoil of Hadadezer, son of Rehob, king of Zobah.No text from Poole on this verse.
And David gat him a name when he returned from smiting of the Syrians in the valley of salt, being eighteen thousand men.Gat him a name, i.e. much increased his reputation. The Syrians, or Edomites, as they are said to be, 1 Chronicles 18:12. It is likely these two people were confederates, and that divers of the Syrians whom David had defeated in Syria fled to Edom, and there joined with them against their common enemy, and made up together a very great army, (as the number of the men slain in it showeth,) consisting of the veteran soldiers of both countries; although the slaughter here following may seem not to have been of the Syrians, as the words at first reading seem to intimate, but of the Edomites; (it not being probable that the Syrians would come so far from their own country, as to the valley of salt, to fight;) and this verse may be read thus, and that very agreeably to the Hebrew:
And David gat him a name when he returned from smiting of the Syrians, in smiting (which is easily repeated out of the last clause, according to the common usage of Scripture)
in the valley of salt eighteen thousand men, who were Edomites, as is sufficiently implied here in the next verse, and expressed 1 Chronicles 18:12.
The valley of salt; a place in Edom so called, either from its neighbourhood to the Salt Sea, or for some other cause now unknown. Being eighteen thousand men; as it is also 1 1 Chronicles 18:12, where also they are said to be smitten by Abishai, because he was then a chief commander of the army under David, and, it may be, began the fight; as, for the like reason, they are said to be smitten by Joab, Psalm 60:1, where also there are only 12,000 mentioned; which place, if it speak of this battle, the state of it was this: Abishai begins the combat, and kills 6000; after him comes in Joab, and kills 12,000 more, which makes up this 18,000. But why may not that be another history and battle? So the Edomites and Syrians together did first fight with Abishai, and lost 18,000 men, and afterwards recruited their forces and fought with Joab, and lost other 12,000 men. Nor is it strange if two battles were fought in one place; of which there are divers instances in historians.
And he put garrisons in Edom; throughout all Edom put he garrisons, and all they of Edom became David's servants. And the LORD preserved David whithersoever he went.No text from Poole on this verse.
And David reigned over all Israel; and David executed judgment and justice unto all his people.Judgment and Justice, i. e. just judgment, as Deu 16:18. A figure called hendiadis as in Genesis 3:16 Matthew 4:16.
And Joab the son of Zeruiah was over the host; and Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was recorder;Joab having doubtless declared his repentance for his former crimes, and having done eminent service for his country, and having received the chief command by virtue of David’s promise and contract, 2 Samuel 5:8, was still continued in his place.
Recorder; either, first, The writer of chronicles. But it is not likely he would have been put among the great officers of state and church. Or, secondly, The treasurer, who examined all the accounts, and kept records of them. Or, thirdly, The king’s counsellor, as Ahithophel is called, 2 Samuel 15:12 1 Chronicles 27:33, who was to bring things of moment to the king’s mind and remembrance, and to admonish him from time to time of things fit to be done. See 1 Kings 4:3 2 Kings 18:18.
And Zadok the son of Ahitub, and Ahimelech the son of Abiathar, were the priests; and Seraiah was the scribe;The son of Ahitub; not of that Ahitub, 1Sa 22; for that was of Ithamar’s race, but this of Eleazar.
Ahimelech the son of Abiathar; so Abiathar called his son by the name of his father, 1 Samuel 22:20. The priests, i. e. the chief priest next under Abiathar, who fled to David, 1 Samuel 22:20, and now was high priest, as may be gathered from 2 Samuel 15:35 1 Kings 2:27,35: under him these two were the next chief priests, or the second priests, each one being chief of the house of his father, Zadok of Eleazar, and Ahimelech of Ithamar. See Numbers 3:32 1 Chronicles 24:3,4. Or these two are here mentioned, because they constantly attended upon the king, that he might consult with them in the matters of the Lord, as need required.
And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over both the Cherethites and the Pelethites; and David's sons were chief rulers.Was over: these words are supplied out of the parallel place, 1 Chronicles 18:17, and out of 2 Samuel 20:23, where they are expressed.
The Cherethites and Pelethites were undoubtedly soldiers, and such as were eminent for their valour and fidelity to the king, as is evident from 2 Samuel 15:18 20:7 1 Kings 1:38,44; and most probably they were the king’s guards, which consisted of these two bands, who might be distinguished either by their several weapons, or by the differing time or manner of their service. They are supposed to be thus called, either, first, from their office, which was upon the king’s command to cut off or punish offenders, and to preserve the king’s person, as their names in the Hebrew tongue may seem to imply; or, secondly, from some country or place to which they had relation. As for the Cherethites, it is certain they were either a branch of the Philistines, or a people neighbouring to them, and confederate with them, as is manifest from 1 Samuel 30:14 Ezekiel 25:16 Zephaniah 2:4,5. And so might the Pelethites be too, though that be not related in Scripture. And these Israelites and soldiers of David might be so called, either because they went and lived with David when he dwelt in those parts; or from some notable exploit against or victory over these people; as among the Romans the names of Asiaticus, Africanus, &c. were given for the same reason. One of their exploits against the Cherethites is in part related 1 Samuel 30:14. And it is likely they did many other against them, and against other people, amongst which the Pelethites might be one.
Were chief rulers; had the places of greatest. authority and dignity conferred upon them.