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Bible Commentaries
2 Samuel 10

Layman's Bible CommentaryLayman's Bible Commentary

Verses 1-19

The Conflict with the Ammonites (10:1-19)

The Ammonites under Nahash had earlier been in trouble with Saul (1 Samuel 11), but apparently Nahash had maintained friendly relations with David, since David could state that Nahash had "dealt loyally" with him. At Nahash’s death, David sought to perpetuate this state of affairs with Hanun, the son of Nahash. The term translated "dealt loyally" is a covenant term, possibly implying the existence of some kind of treaty or covenant bond. David sent emissaries to express his condolence, but the counselors of Hanun, perhaps in the light of Israel’s recent victories over other peoples, advised against a favorable reception of the envoys, arguing that they were spies. Hanun’s treatment of David’s messengers was a complete breach of political etiquette even in those days, since such political emissaries were sacrosanct. He made the offense worse by the mode of his treatment, for shaving off part of their beard and mutilating their garments humiliated the men and made them objects of ridicule. The beard was a symbol of honor; hence the men "were greatly ashamed." The treatment had as its design a symbolic humiliation of David and his people.

David sent Joab and his armed host against an augmented army, for the Ammonites in anticipation of trouble had hired various Syrian groups as mercenaries. The Ammonites drew up in front of their city gate, and the Syrian forces assembled in the open country. By a strategic maneuver, Joab attacked and routed the Syrians, using a picked force out of his armed host. With the Syrians routed, the Ammonites took to flight, and Joab returned to Jerusalem.

The Syrians gathered themselves together again, however, and tried to avenge their defeat. Under the leadership of Hadadezer of Zobah and his army commander, Shobach, they assembled across Jordan at Helam, only to be routed once more, this time decisively. In consequence they made peace, entered into a covenant with David, and became tributary to Israel. The Ammonites continued to give trouble.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on 2 Samuel 10". "Layman's Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lbc/2-samuel-10.html.
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