1 Chronicles 18
Pulpit Commentary
Now after this it came to pass, that David smote the Philistines, and subdued them, and took Gath and her towns out of the hand of the Philistines.
Verse 1. - Took Gath and her towns out of the hand of the Philistines; literally, her daughters. The compiler of Chronicles gives us this plain statement where, in the parallel place, we find, "took Metheg-ammah," or more exactly, Metheg-ha-ammah, the explanation of which word (see 2 Samuel 8:1) is not yet ascertained. Its literal signification is "the bridle or curb of the mother city," and may mark a special strong position which commanded Gath, or it may describe Gath as owning itself to such a position. Gesenius understands it to mean that David "subjected the metropolis of the Philistines to himself," quoting the Arabian proverb, To give one s bridle to any one, as equivalent to submitting to him. He quotes also Job 30:11. It may be noted that Ammah is spoken of (2 Samuel 2:24) as the name of a hill, otherwise unknown, however. Although David subdued so many places, he reigned over them, i.e, over many of them, still by "their own kings" (1 Kings 4:24; 2 Chronicles 9:26). Hence we find Gath with a king still in 1 Kings 2:39.
And he smote Moab; and the Moabites became David's servants, and brought gifts.
Verse 2. - Brought gifts; i.e. in the light of tribute and of acknowledgment of subjection. There are curious additions to this passage in the parallel place, telling the punishment inflicted on Moab: "He smote Moab, and measured them with a line, casting them down to the ground [i.e. causing them to lie prostrate]; even with two lines measured he to put to death, and with one full line to keep alive." This appears to mean that he put to death two parts of them, and kept the third part alive. The reason of this deliberate and severe punishment is not stated. Once David and the Moabites had been on very different terms (1 Samuel 22:3, 4; but see also Psalm 60:8).
And David smote Hadarezer king of Zobah unto Hamath, as he went to stablish his dominion by the river Euphrates.
Verse 3. - Hadarezer; in the parallel places, Hadadezer; though our present form is found both in Samuel (e.g. 2 Samuel 10:16) and in other places in Chronicles, yet in all these places some manuscripts show Hadadezer (see Gesenius, 'Lexicon,' sub voce). Zobah. Part of Syria, east of Hamath, and for the most part of Coelo-Syria, north of Damascus, and stretching in the direction of the Euphrates. Possibly it is one with Ptolemy's Zake (1 Samuel 14:47; 2 Samuel 8:3-10; 2 Samuel 10:9; 1 Kings 11:23-25). Hamath. In the valley of the Orontes, the northern boundary of the Holy Land. It is traceable from the time of the Exodus (Genesis 10:18; Numbers 13:21; Numbers 34:8) to that of the Prophet Amos (Amos 6:12). Though in Zobah, it is probably not the Hamath-Zobah of 2 Samuel 8:3. To stablish his dominion. In the parallel place, "to restore," i.e., no doubt, to endeavour to do so, and that against the growing force of David. He had already suffered at the hand of Saul (1 Samuel 14:47, 48).
And David took from him a thousand chariots, and seven thousand horsemen, and twenty thousand footmen: David also houghed all the chariot horses, but reserved of them an hundred chariots.
Verse 4. - The parallel place (2 Samuel 8:4) omits, probably by error merely, the word "chariots," and reads for our seven thousand, "seven hundred." As the form of expression in the last two clauses of our present verse is the same in both cases, it is more natural to render, David houghed all the chariot horses, but reserved a hundred, i.e. a hundred horses unhoughed; he houghed all but a hundred. Our Authorized Version, in the parallel, gets over the difficulty by inserting "for," i.e. enough for, "a hundred chariots."
And when the Syrians of Damascus came to help Hadarezer king of Zobah, David slew of the Syrians two and twenty thousand men.
Verse 5. - The Hebrew text of Damascus, here, next verse, and also 2 Chronicles 28:5, spells the word with a resh, omitting the dagesh forte in the mere following, which Gesenius instances (see his 'Lexicon') as the Syriac orthography.
Then David put garrisons in Syriadamascus; and the Syrians became David's servants, and brought gifts. Thus the LORD preserved David whithersoever he went.
Verse 6. - the word "garrisons" appears in the text in the parallel place, and would be justly supplied in our Hebrew text here.
And David took the shields of gold that were on the servants of Hadarezer, and brought them to Jerusalem.
Verse 7. - The shields; Hebrew שֶׁלֶט. Much doubt has been entertained as to the meaning of this word. Its etymology is uncertain. Gesenius derives it from a root signifying "hardness." For the most part, however, the context of the seven places of its occurrence which he instances (2 Samuel 8:7; 2 Kings 11:10; 1 Chronicles 18:7; 2 Chronicles 23:9; Song of Solomon 4:4; Jeremiah 51:11; Ezekiel 27:11) favour the rendering "shields," though the quotation from Jeremiah 51:11 (literally, "fill ye the shields") is not so satisfactory. The wealth of Zobah is, of course, illustrated by these shields of gold.
Likewise from Tibhath, and from Chun, cities of Hadarezer, brought David very much brass, wherewith Solomon made the brasen sea, and the pillars, and the vessels of brass.
Verse 8. - Tibhath, and... Chun. These names replace Betah and Berothai in the parallel place, in the former case with possibility of orthographic explanation, but not in the latter. The purpose for which David was glad to take their brass is not mentioned in Samuel, but only here. The brazen sea, and the pillars, and the vessels of brass (see 1 Kings 7:14-47; 2 Chronicles 4:1-18). In this latter place these subjects will be found treated more fully. This so-called "brazen sea" (אתֵ־יָם הַגְּחשֶׁת) took the place in Solomon's temple of (he earlier brazen laver (כִּיּור גְחשֶׁת) of the Mosaic ritual (Exodus 30:17-21; Leviticus 8:10, 11; 1 Kings 7:38). It is now called a sea, because of its large size. The use of the original laver is plainly told, for the priests to wash at it their hands and feet before offering sacrifices. It stood in the court of the tabernacle, between the altar and the door. The ten lavers of Solomon's temple were used for washing the sacrificial victims themselves (2 Chronicles 4:6). The brazen sea (which was rather of copper than brass, however) rested upon twelve standing oxen, three turning their faces to each quarter of the heavens. Its height was five cubits, its diameter ten cubits, the thickness of its metal a handbreadth, and its capacity variously given at two thousand baths (1 Kings 7:26) or three thousand (2 Chronicles 4:5). It was removed from its supports of oxen by Ahaz (2 Kings 16:17), and placed on a pedestal of stone. And it was eventually destroyed by the Assyrians (2 Kings 25:13). And the pillars. (For these pillars of the porch, named Jachin and Boaz, see 1 Kings 7:15-22; 2 Chronicles 3:15-17.) And the vessels of brass. (For these, see 1 Kings 7:40-51; 2 Chronicles 4:16-18.)
Now when Tou king of Hamath heard how David had smitten all the host of Hadarezer king of Zobah;
Verse 9. - Tou. In the parallel place, spelt Toi. Nothing else is known of this King of Hamath, who now proffers his congratulations to David.
He sent Hadoram his son to king David, to inquire of his welfare, and to congratulate him, because he had fought against Hadarezer, and smitten him; (for Hadarezer had war with Tou;) and with him all manner of vessels of gold and silver and brass.
Verse 10. - Hadoram. In the parallel place written Joram. The Septuagint has the name spelt with d in both places, which has led to the suggestion that possibly the real name was Jedorum. Josephus suggests that Tou had been brought into subjection by Hadadezer, and wished by his present congratulations and valuable gifts to ingratiate himself with David for a purpose. Had war; literally, was a man of war; i.e. he had shown his addictedness to war, or had warred abundantly with Tou. It is evident that Tou had generally fared the worst in their encounters.
Them also king David dedicated unto the LORD, with the silver and the gold that he brought from all these nations; from Edom, and from Moab, and from the children of Ammon, and from the Philistines, and from Amalek.
Verse 11. - From Edom. This is probably the correct reading, and not, as in the parallel, "from Aram," unless, as some think, both places were named in the original authority. From the children of Ammon. Perhaps the events narrated in our succeeding chapter are here referred to by the compiler. From Amalek (see 1 Samuel 30:1-20, 26-31).
Moreover Abishai the son of Zeruiah slew of the Edomites in the valley of salt eighteen thousand.
Verse 12. - Abishai... slew of the Edomites. The parallel place omits to say that it was by aid of Abishai that David slew these eighteen thousand Edomites. They are there called Syrians, which reading is at all events in keeping with the Aram of the previous verse. Abishai, here named son of Zeruiah, possibly served under "Joab son of Zeruiah" (ver. 15), who is spoken of (1 Kings 11:15, 16) as very trenchant in this Edomite war, without any mention being made of Abishai. Psalm 60. (title) probably speaks of an instalment of the eighteen thousand spoken of here, as the nation now suffered all but extermination. The valley of salt. Situate in Edom (1 Kings 11:14-17; 2 Kings 14:7; 2 Chronicles 25:11). The word here used for "valley" is גֵּיא (Psalm 23:4), not the more generic word עֵמֶק, and signifies rather "ravine." The phrase occurs twice with the article expressed, גֵיא םחמֶּלָח. The place is celebrated also for the achievements of Amaziah (in references just given), who proceeded hence with ten thousand prisoners, to precipitate them down the cliff, i.e. Petra (הַסֶּלַע, 2 Chronicles 25:12). The real situation of this place is still doubtful. Since the time of the German traveller Geethen ('Reisen,' 2:356), and of Robinson ('Bibl. Res.,' 2:109), it has been generally assumed to be a tract of land extending some six miles south of the Dead Sea, and bounded at that distance by the range of hills which there runs across the country; but beside the consideration that the word "ravine" could not describe that tract of country, there are others very unfavourable to the supposition (see these carefully stated by Grove, in Smith's 'Bible Dictionary,' 3:1097).
And he put garrisons in Edom; and all the Edomites became David's servants. Thus the LORD preserved David whithersoever he went.
So David reigned over all Israel, and executed judgment and justice among all his people.
And Joab the son of Zeruiah was over the host; and Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud, recorder.
Verse 15. - Recorder. The word is of the same root with that in 1 Chronicles 16:4, "to record." The exact duties and position of this officer are not stated in any one place, but may be gathered from 2 Samuel 8:16; 2 Samuel 20:24; 1 Kings 4:3; 2 Kings 18:18, 37; 2 Chronicles 34:8. From these notices, belonging to somewhat separate times, we may gather the dignity and responsibility and trust of the office which the recorder filled, altogether in excess of his duty as mere historical secretary.
And Zadok the son of Ahitub, and Abimelech the son of Abiathar, were the priests; and Shavsha was scribe;
Verse 16. - Abimelech the son of Abiathar. The reading in the parallel place is, "Abimelech the son of Abiathar," as also in 1 Chronicles 24:6; but comparison of 1 Samuel 22:20; 2 Samuel 20:25; 1 Kings 1:7, 8, suggests that the right reading would be "Abiathar the son of Ahimelech." With this Mark 2:26 agrees, and tells of a correct manuscript, from which, indirectly, the quotation came. Shavsha. The parallel place reads Seraiaha; 2 Samuel 20:25 reads Sheva; and 1 Kings 4:3 reads Shisha. The differences are probably due simply to errors of transcription. Scribe. The historical development of this title is obscure, and not easy to trace. The use of some form or other of the root is abundantly frequent from the times of the earliest parts of Scripture, in the sense of "numbering," or "declaring," or "recording." Perhaps our title of "secretary" would answer sufficiently to it, and all the better, because the Old Testament scribes were also of different leading kinds, like in some degree to our various secretaries of state. There was the kind of scribe of Judges 5:14 - where our Authorized Version is far from the mark, and should rather read "the staff of the scribe," in place of "the pen of the writer" - a military officer, whose duty it was to keep the muster-roll. There was the scribe of 2 Kings 25:19 - a passage which throws light on the former (see also Isaiah 33:18; Jeremiah 52:25). There were the scribes of a more literary, lawyer-like, or clerk-like kind, as here, and in the parallel place, and in 2 Samuel 20:25; 1 Kings 4:3; 1 Chronicles 2:55. In the time of Hezekiah, if not before, the scribes became distinctly a class of men (Proverbs 25:1; Jeremiah 8:8); and the times of the Captivity greatly enlarged their importance. Their exact duties in the best times of the monarchy are not laid down, but the dignified place the king's scribe held is evident from the company in which he is placed here and in the parallel passage.
And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over the Cherethites and the Pelethites; and the sons of David were chief about the king.
Verse 17. - Benaiah the son of Jehoiada (see 1 Chronicles 11:22-25; 1 Chronicles 12:27; 2 Samuel 23:20-23). The Cherethites and the Pelethites. Two tribes of Philistines whom David attached. The meaning and derivation of these two names leave it possible to translate them at once, and to read, "the public executioners, and the public couriers," not treating them as proper names, and to this course Geseuius (see 'Lexicon') gives his sanction. On the other hand, a comparison of 1 Samuel 30:14 and 2 Samuel 15:18 would lead us to treat them as the names of people, although the Pelethites are net as identifiable in this sense as the Cherethites and Gittites. Anyway, it is evident they were the special guard of the king, and were faithful to David and to Solomon after him. Their duties included those of the executioner or lictor, and the courier. They are frequently mentioned on special occasions of the king's moving, and of danger (2 Samuel 15:18; 2 Samuel 20:7, 23; 1 Kings 1:38, 44). Chief about the king. The Hebrew text here is הָרִאשֹׁגִים. The word used in the parallel place is כֹּחֲנִים, which signifies strictly "priests," but sometimes more generally" princes." This is, without doubt, the meaning of our text.

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