1 Chronicles 19


David Defeats the Ammonites

      • Later, King Nahash of the Ammonites died and his son succeeded him as king. David said, “I’m going to deal loyally with Hanun, Nahash’s son, because his father dealt loyally with me.” So David sent messengers to express his sympathy over his father’s death. But when David’s emissaries arrived in the land of Ammon to express the king’s sympathy to Hanun, the Ammonite officials said to Hanun, “Do you really believe David is trying to show respect for your father just because he sent emissaries to express his sympathy? Instead, haven’t they come to search, spy out, and overthrow the land?” So Hanun seized David’s messengers, shaved them, cut off the lower part of their robes so that their buttocks were exposed, then sent them away. When someone came and reported this to David he sent messengers to meet the men because they were thoroughly humiliated. The king said, “Stay in Jericho until your beards grow again, then come back.”

        • ESV Archaeology Study Bible says, “The Ammonites lived east of Gad and had troubled Israel in Saul’s day (1 Sam 11:1-11). David had a friendship treaty with Nahash, but Hanun, suspecting David’s motives, provoked a diplomatic incident. The Aramean states from which Hanun sought help (1 Chron 19:6) were situated farther north, from around Damascus to beyond the Euphrates.”

      • When the Ammonites realized that David was disgusted with them, Hanun and the Ammonites sent 38 tons of silver to hire chariots and horsemen from Aram Naharaim, Aram Maakah, and Zobah. They hired 32,000 chariots and the king of Maakah with his army, who came and camped in front of Medeba. The Ammonites also assembled from their cities and moved out for battle.

        • On the amount of money Hanun paid, NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible writes, “This sum is considerable, amounting to about 38 tons [Hebrew text says 1,000 talents] of silver. This is the same amount that was sent by Menahem of Israel to Tiglath-Pileser III of Assyria (2 Ki 15:19) and considerably outstrips other sums of money recorded in Scripture as being sent as tribute to the kings of Egypt of Assyria. It was common for states to band together against a common enemy, for small states to enlist the help of more powerful ones, and for a superior to demand help from a vassal relationship. Given the size of the sum of money involved, it is likely that Hanun has weighed up the situation and is approaching Hadadezer the king of Zobah in order to become his vassal. Hadadezer in turn sees this as a good opportunity to deal with his southern rival and to gain control of the important trade route that led east of the Jordan through Ammonite territory en route to Damascus.”

        • On the unusually large number of chariots, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible remarks, “The reading is corrupt. Such a number as 32,000 chariots alone was never brought into battle on any occasion. Compare the numbers in Exodus 14:7; 1 Kings 10:26; 2 Chronicles 12:3. The largest force which an Assyrian king ever speaks of encountering is 3,940. The words ‘and horsemen’ have probably fallen out of the text after the word ‘chariots’ (compare 1 Chronicles 19:6). The 32,000 would be the number of the warriors serving on horseback or in chariots; and this number would agree closely with 2 Samuel 10:6, as the following table shows: 2 Samuel 10:6 Men Syrians of Beth-rehob and Zobah 20,000 Syrians of Ish-tob 12,000 Syrians of Maachah 1,000 Total 33,000 1 Chronicles 19:7 Men Syrians of Zobah, etc. 32,000 Syrians of Machah ( number not given) 1,000 Total 33,000.”

      • When David heard about this he sent Joab and the entire army out to meet them. The Ammonites marched out and lined up in battle formation at the entrance to their city, while the kings who had come were out in the field by themselves. When Joab saw that there was a battle line in front of him and another behind him, he chose some of Israel’s best troops and deployed them against the Syrians. He put the rest of his men under the command of his brother Abishai, and they were deployed against the Ammonites. Joab said, “If the Syrians are too strong for me, you come to my rescue. If the Ammonites are too strong for you, I’ll come rescue you. Be strong! Let’s fight bravely for the sake of our people and the cities of our God! May Yahweh’s will be done.” So Joab and his men marched toward the Syrians for battle and they fled before him. When the Ammonites realized the Syrians were running away, they fled from Joab’s brother Abishai also and went inside the city. So Joab went back to Jerusalem.

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible writes, “The enemy armies drew their battle lines strategically; the Ammonites positioned themselves so that the city of Medeba could serve as a refuge, while the Israelites also had to deal with a second offensive from the Arameans. Joab divided his forces to fight on both fronts from a central rallying point. Joab knew that the battle was not being waged to gain more territory but to defend the people and the cities of Israel from invasion (cp. 19:8). Joab placed his trust in God, knowing that the outcome depended on the Lord’s providence.”

      • When the Syrians saw that Israel had defeated them, they sent messengers to bring out the Syrians who were beyond the Euphrates River, with Shophak, the commander of Hadadezer’s army, leading them. When David was informed, he gathered all Israel together, crossed the Jordan River, and marched against them. He deployed his army against the Syrians in battle and they fought against him. But the Syrians fled from Israel and David killed 7,000 of their charioteers and 40,000 of their foot soldiers. He also killed Shophak, the commander of their army. When Hadadezer’s subjects saw that they had been defeated by Israel, they made peace with David and became his subjects. After this, the Syrians were no longer willing to help the Ammonites.

        • With regard to the 7,000 charioteers mentioned above, ESV Study Bible points out, “For the number 7,000 here, 2 Sam 10:18 has ‘700.’ The difference is probably due not to a discrepancy in the original manuscripts but to a scribal error in the later transmission of the text of either book.”

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible remarks, “In the battle against the Arameans, David accomplished three objectives: He challenged Hadadezer’s supremacy, threw the alliance of the Arameans into disarray, and prevented any possible future alliance between the Arameans and the Ammonites.”

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