| Back to Home Page | Back to Book Index |


2 Samuel Chapter Ten


2 Samuel 10 Outlines

The Ammonites and Syrians Defeated (v.1~19)

New King James Version (NKJV)



This chapter gives an account of the ill treatment of David's messengers to the king of Ammon, who were sent to condole the death of his father, and were basely used by him, which David resented, 2 Samuel 10:1; which the Ammonites perceiving prepared for war, and got the Syrians to be confederates with them; of which David being informed, sent Joab and Abishai into their country, 2 Samuel 10:6; who divided the army between them, and attacked the Ammonites and Syrians with great courage, and routed them both, and returned to Jerusalem, 2 Samuel 10:9; after which the Syrians gathered together again to fight with David, who went out to meet them, and got an entire conquest over them, and made them servants to him, 2 Samuel 10:15.


2 Samuel 10:1   It happened after this that the king of the people of Ammon died, and Hanun his son reigned in his place.

   YLT  1And it cometh to pass afterwards, that the king of the Bene-Ammon dieth, and Hanun his son reigneth in his stead,

And it came to pass after this,.... After the wars with the Moabites, Syrians, and Edomites, being friendly with the children of Ammon, David sent an embassy to their king, after related; by which it appears what is said concerning the spoils of the children of Ammon, 2 Samuel 8:12, is by anticipation; for these spoils were not taken until the following war with them, the occasion of which is here told:

that the king of the children of Ammon died; whose name was Nahash, as is clear from 2 Samuel 10:2, and probably might be the same that came against Jabeshgilead, from whom Saul delivered the inhabitants of that place, 1 Samuel 11:1,

and Hanun his son reigned in his stead; who, being his son, was heir to his crown, and succeeded him in his kingdom.


2 Samuel 10:2   2 Then David said, “I will show kindness to Hanun the son of Nahash, as his father showed kindness to me.” So David sent by the hand of his servants to comfort him concerning his father. And David’s servants came into the land of the people of Ammon.

   YLT  2and David saith, `I do kindness with Hanun son of Nahash, as his father did with me kindness;' and David sendeth to comfort him by the hand of his servants concerning his father, and the servants of David come in to the land of the Bene-Ammon.

Then said David, I will show kindness to Hanun the son of Nahash,.... Send him a friendly compliment of condolence on the death of his father:

as his father showed kindness unto me; when David was persecuted by Saul, he sent him aid, and invited him into his country for protection it may be, and some way or other showed respect unto him; though not out of real love and friendship to David, but in enmity to Saul, who had defeated him at Jabeshgilead, and had often wars with him: the Jews sayF15Tanchuma apud Jarchium in loc. the particular kindness was, that when David left his father, mother, and brethren, with the king of Moab, he slew all but one, who fled to the king of the children of Ammon, and was by him saved alive:

and David sent to comfort him by the hand of his servants for his father; for the death of his father; to condole the loss of him, which was the custom of kings in friendship and alliance in former times, and still continues:

and David's servants came into the land of the children of Ammon; even to Rabbah, the metropolis of the nation, and the royal city, where the king kept his court.


2 Samuel 10:3   3 And the princes of the people of Ammon said to Hanun their lord, “Do you think that David really honors your father because he has sent comforters to you? Has David not rather sent his servants to you to search the city, to spy it out, and to overthrow it?”

   YLT  3And the heads of the Bene-Ammon say unto Hanun their lord, `Is David honouring thy father in thine eyes because he hath sent to thee comforters? for to search the city, and to spy it, and to overthrow it, hath not David sent his servants unto thee?'

And the princes of the children of Ammon said to Hanun their lord,.... His nobles and prime ministers, the courtiers that were about him:

thinkest thou that David doth honour thy father, that he hath sent comforters unto thee? could he imagine that David was sincere, and that he really meant to do honour to the memory of his father, and comfort him under the loss of him, by sending his ambassadors to him on such an errand? there was no reason, they thought, to believe this, since an Israelite was forbidden to seek their peace and prosperity, or ask of it, nor might Ammonite enter into their congregation unto the tenth generation, Deuteronomy 23:3; and indeed some have thought that David did not do a right thing in sending this embassy, and was justly requited; but it is certain he acted according to the laws of friendship, and was cordial and sincere in what he did, though these courtiers of Hanun put an ill construction on his conduct, their minds being filled with enmity against the Israelites:

hath not David rather sent his servants unto thee to search the city,

and to spy it out, and to overthrow it? to reconnoitre the place, to observe, as they walked about in it, which were the weakest and most defenceless parts of it, and what avenues there were to it, and which were most accessible, that they might the better know how to attack it, and destroy it; these surmises and suspicions they endeavoured to fill the king's head with, to set him against them, and treat them ill.


2 Samuel 10:4   4 Therefore Hanun took David’s servants, shaved off half of their beards, cut off their garments in the middle, at their buttocks, and sent them away.

   YLT  4And Hanun taketh the servants of David, and shaveth off the half of their beard, and cutteth off their long robes in the midst -- unto their buttocks, and sendeth them away;

Wherefore Hanun took David's servants,.... His ambassadors:

and shaved off one half of their beards; that is, he ordered them to be shaved off; than which a greater indignity could not have been well done to them and to David, whom they represented, since the Israelites shaved not their beards, and were very careful of preserving them; for had it been the custom to shave, they might have shaved off the other half, and then they would not have appeared so ridiculous; and with other people it has been reckoned a very great punishment as well could be inflicted, and as great an affront as could well be offered, to mar a man's beard, or shave it off in whole or in partF16Apollon. Vit. Philostrat. l. 7. c. 14. . The Lacedemonians, as PlutarchF17In Agesitao. relates, when any fled from battle, used, by way of reproach, to shave off part of their beards, and let the other part grow long; and with the Indians, as Bishop Patrick observes from an ancient writer, the king used to order the greatest offenders to be shaven, as the heaviest punishment he could inflict upon them; but what comes nearest to the case here is what the same learned commentator quotes from Tavernier, who in his Indian Travels tells us, that the sophi of Persia caused an ambassador of Aurengzeb to have his beard shaved off, telling him he was not worthy to wear a beard, and thereupon commanded it should be shaved off; which affront offered him in the person of his ambassador was most highly resented by Aurengzeb, as this was by David:

and cut off their garments in the middle, even to their buttocks; and as they wore long garments in those countries, without any breeches or drawers under them, those parts by these means were exposed to view which modesty requires should be concealedF18"Dimidiasque nates Gallica palla tegit". Martial. ; so that they must be put to the utmost shame and confusion:

and sent them away; in this ridiculous manner, scoffing and leering at them no doubt; that since they came with compliments of condolence, it was proper they should appear in the habit of mourners, with their beards shaved, and their garments rent; cutting of garments, and standing in them from morning tonight, was a punishment of soldiers with the Romans, when they offendedF19Valer. Maxim. l. 2. c. 2. .


2 Samuel 10:5   5 When they told David, he sent to meet them, because the men were greatly ashamed. And the king said, “Wait at Jericho until your beards have grown, and then return.”

   YLT  5and they declare [it] to David, and he sendeth to meet them, for the men have been greatly ashamed, and the king saith, `Abide in Jericho till your beard doth spring up -- then ye have returned.'

When they told it unto David,.... Not the ambassadors, for they were not yet arrived, but some of their servants, perhaps, they sent before them to acquaint David of the usage they had met with:

he sent to meet them: he sent men to meet them with proper garments to put on, and to assure them how much he resented the indignity done to them and him, and would avenge it in due and proper time, and to direct them where to go for the present, as follows:

because the men were greatly ashamed: to proceed on their journey, and come to court in the condition they were:

and the king said; gave orders by the messengers he sent to them:

tarry at Jericho until your beards be grown, or "bud"F20יצמח "germinet", Pagninus, Montanus. :

and then return; that is, to Jerusalem; Jericho, though not yet built, might have some cottages at or near the spot on which it had stood, for the convenience of shepherds, and gatherers of fruit, in the plains of it; here the ambassadors were directed to go, it being the first place they came to when they had passed over Jordan, from the country of Ammon; and being a place where there were scarcely any inhabitants, or very few, was very proper for them in their present circumstances; and this confirms what is before observed, that it was now the custom of the Israelites not to shave their whole beards; or otherwise it was but shaving off the other half, and being now provided with other clothes, they would have had no need to have stayed at Jericho, but might have proceeded on in their journey.


2 Samuel 10:6   6 When the people of Ammon saw that they had made themselves repulsive to David, the people of Ammon sent and hired the Syrians of Beth Rehob and the Syrians of Zoba, twenty thousand foot soldiers; and from the king of Maacah one thousand men, and from Ish-Tob twelve thousand men.

   YLT  6And the Bene-Ammon see that they have been abhorred by David, and the Bene-Ammon send and hire Aram of Beth-Rehob, and Aram of Zoba, twenty thousand footmen, and the king of Maacah [with] a thousand men, and Ish-Tob [with] twelve thousand men;

And when the children of Ammon saw that they stank before David,.... Or had made themselves odious to him, as it is rendered in 1 Chronicles 19:6; were abominable to him, that he was incensed against them, and enraged at them, and was determined to be avenged on them for the affront given, of which they had certain information: but instead of seeking to appease him, and give him satisfaction for the affront:

the children of Ammon sent, and hired the Syrians of Bethrehob; a place near Hamath, Numbers 13:21; there was a city of this name in the tribe of Asher, out of which the Canaanites could not be driven, and perhaps now inhabited by Syrians, or by a people so called, Joshua 19:28,

and the Syrians of Zoba, twenty thousand footmen: that is, out of both places; this place Hadadezer was king of, with whom David had fought before, and beat, and who owed him a grudge on that account, and was ready to assist the Ammonites against him, 2 Samuel 8:3,

and of King Maacah a thousand men; that is, of the king of Maacah, which was a place in the tribe off Manasseh, from whence the inhabitants could not be expelled, Joshua 13:11; and seems now to have been inhabited by Syrians, and therefore is called Syriamaachah, 1 Chronicles 19:6,

and of Ishtob twelve thousand men; which is thought to be the same with the land of Tob, whither Jephthah fled, and dwelt in it, when ill used by his brethren, Judges 11:3; these mercenary soldiers were in all thirty three thousand men; 1 Chronicles 19:6, it is said, chariots and horsemen, even thirty two thousand; these were hired with a thousand talents of silver.


2 Samuel 10:7   7 Now when David heard of it, he sent Joab and all the army of the mighty men.

   YLT  7and David heareth, and sendeth Joab, and all the host -- the mighty men.

And when David heard of it,.... Of the preparation made by the Ammonites to fight with him:

he sent Joab and all the host of the mighty men: he sent out Joab his general, and an army under his command, consisting of men of strength, valour, and courage; or all the host and the mighty men, as Kimchi and Ben Melech, the famous mighty men mentioned in 2 Samuel 23:8; he did not think it advisable to wait for the Ammonites, but carried the war into their own country, and, instead of suffering them to invade his dominions, he invaded theirs.


2 Samuel 10:8   8 Then the people of Ammon came out and put themselves in battle array at the entrance of the gate. And the Syrians of Zoba, Beth Rehob, Ish-Tob, and Maacah were by themselves in the field.

   YLT  8And the Bene-Ammon come out, and set battle in array, at the opening of the gate, and Aram of Zoba, and Rehob, and Ish-Tob, and Maacah, [are] by themselves in the field;

And the children of Ammon came out,.... Either out of Rabbah their metropolis, as JosephusF21Antiqu. l. 7. c. 6. sect. 2. ; or rather out of Medeba, as it seems from 1 Chronicles 19:7; a city that lay on the borders of their country, and was a frontier town, see Numbers 21:30;

and put the battle in array, at the entering in of the gate; of the city of Medeba; they were first within the city, but, upon the approach of Joab and his army, they came out and drew up in a line of battle at the gate of it:

and the Syrians of Zoba, and of Rehob, and Ishtob, and Maacah, were by themselves in the field; at some distance from the city, the Ammonites not choosing to trust: mercenaries in it; and perhaps they placed these ambush in the field, to get Joab between two fires, as we now express it.


2 Samuel 10:9   9 When Joab saw that the battle line was against him before and behind, he chose some of Israel’s best and put them in battle array against the Syrians.

   YLT  9and Joab seeth that the front of the battle hath been unto him before and behind, and he chooseth of all the chosen in Israel, and setteth in array to meet Aram,

When Joab saw that the front of the battle was against him before and behind,.... Or "the face" of itF23פני "facies", Pagninus, Montanus. ; armies appeared both before and behind, about to attack him both in front and rear; the Targum is,"and Joab saw that the warriors, or those that made war, were strong against him before and behind:"

he chose of all the choice men of Israel; the most eminent for strength, and valour, and military skill, who had been tried, and were famous for warlike exploits, the flower of the army:

and put them in array against the Syrians; who might be the strongest party, and the best soldiers; though being but mercenaries, if hard beset, would sooner give way, as he might suppose, upon which the Ammonites would do the same.


2 Samuel 10:10   10 And the rest of the people he put under the command of Abishai his brother, that he might set them in battle array against the people of Ammon.

   YLT  10and the rest of the people he hath given into the hand of Abishai his brother, and setteth in array to meet the Bene-Ammon.

And the rest of the people he delivered into the hands of Abishai his brother,.... Who was a commander under him, and a very valiant man; and thus, as his enemy had two armies, he divided his into two parts, that he might the better attack them:

that he might put them in array against the children of Ammon: draw them up in a line, place them rank and file to meet the children of Ammon, and give them battle.


2 Samuel 10:11   11 Then he said, “If the Syrians are too strong for me, then you shall help me; but if the people of Ammon are too strong for you, then I will come and help you.

   YLT  11And he saith, `If Aram be stronger than I, then thou hast been to me for salvation, and if the Bene-Ammon be stronger than thou, then I have come to give salvation to thee;

And he said, if the Syrians be too strong for me,.... Which he might perceive by Joab's forces giving way, or by some signal agreed on between them

then thou shall help me; detach a part of his army to his support and assistance:

but if the children of Ammon be too strong for thee, then I will come and help thee; in the same manner.


2 Samuel 10:12   12 Be of good courage, and let us be strong for our people and for the cities of our God. And may the Lord do what is good in His sight.”

   YLT  12be strong and strengthen thyself for our people, and for the cities of our God, and Jehovah doth that which is good in His eyes.'

Be of good courage, and let us play the men,.... This Joab said, not only to encourage Abishai and himself, but in the hearing of the rest of the officers of the army, and of many of the people, to hearten them to the battle; who might be somewhat intimidated with the number of their enemies, and the position they were in, being before and behind them; and therefore he thought proper to make such a speech to them to animate them to light:

for our people, and for the cities of our God; that the people of Israel might not be carried captive, and their cities spoiled and plundered; and instead of being cities where the people of God dwelt, and he was worshipped, would, if taken, become the habitations of idolatrous Heathens, and where temples would be erected to idols, and the worship of them; these were the arguments he used to engage them to fight manfully for their country, the liberties and religion of it:

and the Lord do that which seemeth him good: tacitly suggesting that victory was of the Lord, and that it became them to do their part in fighting courageously, and leave the issue to the Lord, on whom alone success depended.


2 Samuel 10:13   13 So Joab and the people who were with him drew near for the battle against the Syrians, and they fled before him.

   YLT  13And Joab draweth nigh, and the people who [are] with him, to battle against Aram, and they flee from his presence;

And Joab drew nigh, and the people that were with him, unto the battle against the Syrians,.... Fell upon them; attacked them first, began the battle with them; rightly judging, that if they, being hired soldiers, were closely pressed, they would give way, which would discourage the Ammonites, who depended much upon them; and the fight, according to JosephusF24Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 7. c. 6. sect. 2.) , lasted some little time, who says, that Joab killed many of them, and obliged the rest to turn their backs and flee, as follows:

and they fled before him: the Syriac and Arabic versions in this verse, and in all others in this chapter where the word "Syrians" is used, have "Edomites", reading "Edom" instead of "Aram", the letters ר "R" and ד "D" in the Hebrew tongue being very similar.


2 Samuel 10:14   14 When the people of Ammon saw that the Syrians were fleeing, they also fled before Abishai, and entered the city. So Joab returned from the people of Ammon and went to Jerusalem.

  YLT  14and the Bene-Ammon have seen that Aram hath fled, and they flee from the presence of Abishai, and go in to the city; and Joab turneth back from the Bene-Ammon, and cometh in to Jerusalem.

And when the children of Ammon saw that the Syrians were fled,.... In whom they put great confidence:

then they fled also before Abishai; without engaging at all with him, as it seems:

and entered into the city; out of which they came, either Rabbah or Medeba, for their safety:

so Joab returned from the children of Ammon; did not stay to lay siege to their city, the season of the year not being proper for it, winter drawing near; see 2 Samuel 11:1,

and came to Jerusalem; in triumph, to report to David the victory he had obtained.


2 Samuel 10:15   15 When the Syrians saw that they had been defeated by Israel, they gathered together.

   YLT  15And Aram seeth that it is smitten before Israel, and they are gathered together;

And when the Syrians saw that they were smitten before Israel,.... Considered it in their minds, and conversed with one another about it, and fearing what would be the consequence of it:

they gathered themselves together; not only the forces got together again, that fled before Joab, but all the kings of Syria united their forces together, as appears from 2 Samuel 10:19; supposing that David would avenge himself on them for assisting the Ammonites against him; and therefore judged it advisable to raise a large army, that they might be in a condition to receive him.


2 Samuel 10:16   16 Then Hadadezer[a] sent and brought out the Syrians who were beyond the River,[b] and they came to Helam. And Shobach the commander of Hadadezer’s army went before them.

   YLT  16and Hadadezer sendeth, and bringeth out Aram which [is] beyond the River, and they come in to Helam, and Shobach head of the host of Hadadezer [is] before them.

And Hadarezer sent,.... The same with Hadadezer, 2 Samuel 8:3, who was at the head of this confederacy, and to whom the rest of the kings of Syria were servants, 2 Samuel 10:19,

and brought out the Syrians that were beyond the river; the river Phrat or Euphrates, as the Targum; so the Arabic version and JosephusF25Ut supra, (Antiqu. l. 7. c. 6.) sect. 3. , who says, that he hired them:

and they came to Helam; which, according to the same writer, was king of the Syrians beyond Euphrates; but it seems to be the name of a place, where was the general rendezvous of the Syrian army. Junius conjectures that it is the same with the Alamatha of PtolemyF26Geograph. l. 5. c. 15. , which he places with the Trachonite Arabs near the Euphrates:

and Shobach the captain of the host of Hadarezer went before them: before the whole combined army, which according to JosephusF1Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 7. c. 6. sect. 3.) , consisted of eighty thousand foot, and ten thousand horse: this general is called Shophach, 1 Chronicles 19:16 the letters "B" and "P" being of the same pronunciation in the Hebrew tongue, as Kimchi observes, though it is there read "Shobach", in the Syriac and Arabic versions; he was no doubt a very able, valiant, and skilful general, since he is particularly mentioned by name, and whose name was then famous; the Arabic version calls him a spear bearer of Hadarezer.


2 Samuel 10:17   17 When it was told David, he gathered all Israel, crossed over the Jordan, and came to Helam. And the Syrians set themselves in battle array against David and fought with him.

   YLT  17And it is declared to David, and he gathereth all Israel, and passeth over the Jordan, and cometh in to Helam, and Aram setteth itself in array to meet David, and they fight with him;

And when it was told David,.... What preparations the Syrians were making to fight him, and where they were:

he gathered all Israel together; all the fighting men in the country:

and passed over Jordan, and came to Helam: which, according to BuntingF2Travels, &c. p. 140,141. , was twenty miles from Jerusalem. David seems to have gone himself in person to this war:

and the Syrians set themselves in array against David, and fought with him; they formed themselves in a line of battle, and attacked him first, being eager to fight, and perhaps confident of victory, because of their numbers.


2 Samuel 10:18   18 Then the Syrians fled before Israel; and David killed seven hundred charioteers and forty thousand horsemen of the Syrians, and struck Shobach the commander of their army, who died there.

   YLT  18and Aram fleeth from the presence of Israel, and David slayeth of Aram seven hundred charioteers, and forty thousand horsemen, and Shobach head of its host he hath smitten, and he dieth there.

And the Syrians fled before Israel,.... After an obstinate and bloody fight between them:

and David slew the men of seven hundred chariots of the Syrians; the word "men" is rightly supplied, for chariots could not be said to be slain, but the men in them; in 1 Chronicles 19:17, they are said to be seven thousand, here seven hundred; which may be reconciled by observing, that here the chariots that held the men are numbered, there the number of the men that were in the chariots given, and reckoning ten men in a chariot, seven hundred chariots held just seven thousand men; though Kimchi takes another way of reconciling the two places, by observing that here only the choicest chariots are mentioned, there all of them, but the former way seems best:

and forty thousand horsemen; in 1 Chronicles 19:17; it is forty thousand "footmen", and so JosephusF3Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 7. c. 6. sect. 3.) ; and the same may be called both horse and foot, be cause though they might come into the field of battle on horseback, yet might dismount and fight on foot; and so one historian calls them horsemen, and the other footmen; or the whole number of the slain, horse and foot mixed together, were forty thousand; Kimchi makes use of another way of removing this difficulty, and which perhaps is the best, that here only the horsemen are numbered that were slain, and there the footmen only, and both true; an equal number of each being slain, in all eighty thousand, besides the seven thousand in the chariots:

and smote Shobach the captain of their host, who died there; of his wounds upon the spot.


2 Samuel 10:19   19 And when all the kings who were servants to Hadadezer[c] saw that they were defeated by Israel, they made peace with Israel and served them. So the Syrians were afraid to help the people of Ammon anymore.

   YLT  19And all the kings -- servants of Hadadezer -- see that they have been smitten before Israel, and make peace with Israel, and serve them; and Aram is afraid to help any more the Bene-Ammon.

And when all the kings that were servants to Hadarezer,.... That were subject to him, and at his beck and command, at least were hired by him into his service:

saw that they were smitten before Israel; could not stand their ground against them, being too powerful for them:

they made peace with Israel, and served them; became tributaries to them, whereby the promise of the land of Canaan made to Abraham and his seed, as reaching to the river Euphrates, had its accomplishment, Genesis 15:18,

so the Syrians feared to help the children of Ammon any more; who standing by themselves, they were soon and easily conquered by David's forces, as recorded in the following chapters.


──John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible


New King James Version (NKJV)


  1. 2 Samuel 10:16 Hebrew Hadarezer
  2. 2 Samuel 10:16 That is, the Euphrates
  3. 2 Samuel 10:19 Hebrew Hadarezer