The Agora
Bible Commentary
2 Samuel

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2 Samuel 8

2Sa 8:1

In 2Sa 8 and 10, David's victories over the seven surrounding kingdoms (Zobah, Philistia, Moab, Syria, Edom, Ammon, Amalek) secure his own kingdom. In this they may be compared to the seven thunders of the Apocalypse -- in which Christ's kingdom subjugates the whole earth (Rev 10:3): (1) David first cleared Zion of enemies; (2) then brought "ark" to Zion (in Last Days terms, this may signify the glorified saints being established in Jerusalem); and (3) finally, the seven campaigns extend and secure the kingdom.

2Sa 8: When David was seen to be firmly established as king over the twelve tribes, all the surrounding Gentile nations took fright, and as one man they determined to crush him before the combined resources of twelve united tribes made him invincible.

The first trials of strength (vv 1,2) came from the west and the east -- from Philistia and Moab. The Philistines especially had reason to panic at the prospect of David reigning securely in Jerusalem. The campaign against Moab (v 2) was only a preliminary trial of strength.

And so David fought well against "Aram-zobah" (a small independent kingdom in the general locality of Damascus: 1Sa 14:47; 2Sa 8:3) and "Aram-naharaim" (Syria of the "two rivers" -- ie Abana and Pharpar, or Euphrates and Tigris) (2Sa 8:3-6; Psa 60, title).

But while David was rounding off this highly successful campaign a long way from home in the north, he was shocked to learn that Judah, left almost defenseless in his rear, had been invaded by the Ammonites, the Moabites again, and the Edomites.

David's acute despair in a related psalm (Psa 60:1-3) suggests how severe the inroads of these southern invaders were; and the mention of Shechem in v 6 shows that not only were the eastern tribes in peril but that now their threat was felt west of Jordan as well as in the extreme south, from Edom. The "stab-in-the-back" tactics from Edom readily explains the strong resentment which the psa expresses. This antagonism is demonstrated in the unusual savagery of the campaign. God had promised David another great victory over the invading forces (Psa 60:6-12), and thus it came to pass (2Sa 8:13,14).

2Sa 8:2

Prob dealing more severely with those from the areas of Moab which were nearest and most threatening to Israel -- slaying the leaders, and putting those areas under tribute. No mere chance, but rather military expediency.

2Sa 8:3

RESTORE: V 3 is ambiguous: "David smote also Hadadezer, the son of Rehob, king of Zobah, as he (?) went to recover his (?) border at the river Euphrates." Was it Hadadezer or David who went to recover his own border at Euphrates? At first look it would seem to be the former. But perhaps instead it was David, who had ambitions to reign over the full territory promised to Abraham (Gen 15:18). If so, "recover" would seem to be the wrong word, since David's territory had never extended anywhere nearly as far as the Euphrates River. But by the change of one letter v 3 could read "establish" instead of "recover" (see 1Ch 18:3, NIV).

2Sa 8:4

HAMSTRUNG... CHARIOT HORSES: Or poss "disjointed" all the "chariots".

2Sa 8:13

EIGHTEEN THOUSAND: The figures of 12,000 casualties (Psa 60 title) and 18,000 casualties (2Sa 8:13) could probably be reconciled easily enough, if only more detail were known about the three-pronged assault led by David (2Sa 8:12,13), Abishai (1Ch 18:12), and Joab (1Ki 11:15,16; Psa 60 title). The heavy slaughter may poss reflect especially the brutality of the character of Joab, who "cut off every male in Edom" (1Ki 11:16)!

EDOMITES: AV has, incorrectly, "Syrians". The diff between Aram and Edom is , in the Heb, only a tittle, and confusion between the two is common. (Note the Valley of Salt is at south end of Dead Sea, beside land of Edom.) So v 13 should certainly read "the Edomites in the valley of salt" -- cp LXX and RSV. "The valley of salt" was at the south end of the Dead Sea

2Sa 8:17

Zadok with tabernacle in Gibeon; Ahimelech with ark in Jerusalem.

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