1 Chronicles 20:1
And it came to pass, that after the year was expired, at the time that kings go out to battle, Joab led forth the power of the army, and wasted the country of the children of Ammon, and came and besieged Rabbah. But David tarried at Jerusalem. And Joab smote Rabbah, and destroyed it.
Jump to: BarnesBensonBICambridgeClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctGaebeleinGSBGillGrayHaydockHastingsHomileticsJFBKDKellyKJTLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWParkerPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBWESTSK
(1) After the year was expired.—Heb., at the time of the return of the year: i.e., in spring. (See 1Kings 20:22; 1Kings 20:26.)

At the time that kings go out.—See 1Kings 20:16. Military operations were commonly suspended during winter. The Assyrian kings have chronicled their habit of making yearly expeditions of conquest and plunder. It was exceptional for the king to “remain in the country.”

Joab led forth the power of the army.—Samuel gives details: “David sent Joab and his servants (? the contingents of tributaries, 1Chronicles 19:19), and all Israel” (i.e., the entire national array).

Wasted the country.—An explanation of Samuel: “wasted the sons of Ammon.”

Rabbah, or Rabbath Ammon, the capital. (See 2Samuel 11:1; Amos 1:14; Jeremiah 49:2-3.)

But David tarried (Heb., was tarrying) at Jerusalem.—While Joab’s campaign was in progress-In 2Samuel 11:1 this remark prepares the way for the account which there follows of David’s temptation and fall.

And Joab smote Rabbah, and destroyed it.—A brief statement, summarizing the events related in 2Samuel 11:27-27. From that passage we learn that, after an assault which doubtless reduced the defenders to the last stage of weakness, Joab sent a message to David at Jerusalem to come and appropriate the honours of the capture. Our 1Chronicles 20:2, which abruptly introduces David himself as present at Rabbah, obviously implies a knowledge of the narrative as it is told in Samuel, and would hardly be intelligible without it. Whether the chronicler here and elsewhere borrows directly from Samuel, or from another document depending ultimately on the same original as Samuel, cannot certainly be decided.

A.M. 2969. — B.C. 1035.

A repetition of David’s wars with the Ammonites, and the taking of Rabbah, 1 Chronicles 20:1-3; with the giants of the Philistines, 1 Chronicles 20:4-8.


1 Chronicles 20:1. Joab led forth the army, and wasted, &c. — For this verse, see note on 2 Samuel 11:1; for 1 Chronicles 20:2-3, on 2 Samuel 12:30-31; and for the rest of the chapter, on 2 Samuel 21:15, &c. And came and besieged Rabbah — It was at this time, while Joab was besieging Rabbah, that David fell into that great sin in the matter of Uriah. And it is observable, that though the rest of the story be repeated here, that is not. The sacred writer, however, seems to have intended to give a hint of it, when he says, But David tarried at Jerusalem — This gave occasion to his sin. If he had been abroad with his army, he would have been out of the way of that temptation; but indulging his ease he fell into sin, and involved himself in many and great calamities, brought upon him and his house by a just and holy God. Now as the recording of his fall, and the circumstances of it in the former history, is an instance of the impartiality and fidelity of the sacred writers; so the avoiding the repetition of it here, when there was a fair occasion to speak of it again, is designed to teach us, that though there may be a just occasion to speak of the faults and miscarriages of others, yet we should not take delight in the repetition of them. Of those persons or actions of which we can say no good, we had best say nothing.

1 Chronicles 20:7. When he defied Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimea slew him — None are more visibly marked for ruin than those that reproach God and his Israel. God will do great things rather than suffer the enemy to behave themselves proudly, Deuteronomy 32:27.

1 Chronicles 20:8. They fell by the hand of David, and of his servants — The servants of David were quite too hard for the giants of Gath in every encounter, because they had God on their side, who takes pleasure in abasing the lofty looks, and humbling the pride and haughtiness of the giants of the earth. Never let the church’s friends be disheartened by the power and pride of the church’s enemies. We need not fear great men against us, while we have the great God for us. But let it be observed that, as David’s victories, so those of the Son of David, are gradual. We do not yet see all things put under him; but we shall see this shortly, and death itself, the last enemy, like these giants, shall be subdued and triumphed over. 20:1-8 David's wars. - Though the Lord will severely correct the sins of his believing people, he will not leave them in the hands of their enemies. His assistance will overcome all advantages of number and strength of those that defy his Israel. All that trust in Christ, shall be made more than conquerors through him that loveth them.This chapter, containing such other warlike exploits belonging to David's reign as the writer of Chronicles thinks it important to put on record, is to be compared with the passages of Samuel noted in the marginal references. CHAPTER 20

1Ch 20:1-3. Rabbah Besieged by Joab, Spoiled by David, and the People Tortured.

1. at the time when kings go out to battle—in spring, the usual season in ancient times for entering on a campaign; that is, a year subsequent to the Syrian war.

Joab led forth the power of the army, and wasted the country … of Ammon—The former campaign had been disastrous, owing chiefly to the hired auxiliaries of the Ammonites; and as it was necessary, as well as just, that they should be severely chastised for their wanton outrage on the Hebrew ambassadors, Joab ravaged their country and invested their capital, Rabbah. After a protracted siege, Joab took one part of it, the lower town or "city of waters," insulated by the winding course of the Jabbok. Knowing that the fort called "the royal city" would soon fall, he invited the king to come in person, and have the honor of storming it. The knowledge of this fact (mentioned in 2Sa 12:26) enables us to reconcile the two statements—"David tarried at Jerusalem" (1Ch 20:1), and "David and all the people returned to Jerusalem" (1Ch 20:3).Rabbah besieged, spoiled, and tortured by David, 1 Chronicles 20:1-3. Three giants slain, 1 Chronicles 20:4-8.

Of this first verse, see my notes on 2 Samuel 11:1; and of 1 Chronicles 20:2,3, on 2 Samuel 12:30,31; and of the rest of this chapter, on 2 Samuel 21:15, &c., where also an account is given of the seeming differences between this and that relation.

See Gill on 1 Chronicles 20:1, 2 Samuel 11:1, 1 Chronicles 20:2, 2 Samuel 12:30, 2 Samuel 21:15, and 1 Chronicles 21:1. And it came to pass, that after the year was expired, at the time that kings go out to battle, Joab led forth the power of the army, and wasted the country of the children of Ammon, and came and besieged {a} Rabbah. But David tarried at Jerusalem. And Joab smote Rabbah, and destroyed it.

(a) Which was the chief city of the Ammonites.

1. after the year was expired] R.V. at the time of the return of the year, i.e. in the spring, 2 Samuel 11:1; 1 Kings 20:22.

the power of the army] The Heb. phrase is quite general in meaning: the host of war, the military forces.

Rabbah] the capital of the Ammonites; Jeremiah 49:2; Ezekiel 21:20 (25, Heb). Its site, now called ‘Ammân, is covered with important ruins of the Roman and Byzantine periods. The town lies in a fertile basin, its citadel on a hill on the north side. Bädeker, pp. 185 ff.

David tarried at Jerusalem] In 2 Sam. these words introduce the story of David’s adultery with Bath-sheba, which is omitted from Chron.

Joab smote Rabbah] In 2 Samuel 12:27 Joab reports to David the capture of the city of waters (i.e. the lower city), and invites him to come and complete the conquest (presumably by capturing the citadel) in person. Probably the citadel was dependent for water on the river which lows through the town.

Ch. 1 Chronicles 20:1-3 (= 2 Samuel 11:1; 2 Samuel 12:26-31). The Subjugation of Ammon

The account of the siege of Rabbah is given more shortly in Chron. than in 2 Sam. From the latter we learn that the Ark was in the besiegers’ camp (1 Chronicles 11:11), that the city was defended with spirit (1 Chronicles 11:17), and finally taken piecemeal (1 Chronicles 12:26-29).Verse 1. - The fifteenth verse of the previous chapter stated that the discomfited Ammonites "fled... and entered into the city," i.e. into Rabbah. Hither we now learn that, by the command of David (2 Samuel 11:1), Joab, at the "return of the year," i.e. probably at the return of spring (Exodus 23:16; Exodus 34:22), brings the power of the army, and, after ravaging the country surrounding it, sits down to besiege Rabbah itself. The series of feasts, beginning in spring and ending in autumn, regulated the year. The sacred year began with the new moon that became full next after the spring equinox; but the civil year at the seventh new moon. This one verse illustrates in four several instances at fewest the advantage of having two versions of the same events, even though in this case in comparatively immaterial respects.

1. We here read that Joab wasted the country of the children of Ammon... and besieged Rabbah, in place of the less consistent reading of 2 Samuel 11:1, "destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah."

2. We have here in the Hebrew the right word for "kings" (חַמְּלָכִים), instead of the word for "angels" (חמְלָאכִים), as in the parallel place.

3. While we read here that Joab smote Rabbah, and destroyed it, the parallel place, now shifted to 2 Samuel 12:27-29, tells of Joab's generosity (if it were this, and not fear or possibly somewhat tardy obedience to strict commands given on his commission), in his message to David, to repair to the spot immediately and share the glory of the reduction of the city, or be its nominal captor.

4. And, once more, while we read here that Joab smote Rabbah, and destroyed it, and yet read in the parallel place of the delay and the visit of David (with which the very first clause of our ver. 2, "And David took," etc., is in perfect accord) and of David's nominal taking of the city, we find probably the just and inartificial explanation of all this in 2 Samuel 12:26-29. There we read more particularly that Joab sent word he had taken the "city of waters," i.e. the lower part of the city (where a stream had its source, and no doubt supplied the city with water), which was very likely the key of the whole position,and called upon David to come up and "encamp against the city and take it," i.e. the city, or citadel, which stood upon the heights north of the stream. Glimpses of this kind may suffice to convince us how rapidly a text, really correct, would melt away for us a very large proportion of the whole number of the lesser obstacles which often impede our path in the historical books of the Old Testament. At the time that kings go out. It was no doubt the case that, even in Palestine, the winter was often a period of enforced inactivity. Rabbah. Tim punishment of Ammou for the treatment of David's well-intended embassy of condolence is now about to be completed. The familiar root of Rabbah signifies multitudinous number, and, resulting thence, the greatness of importance. It was the chief city of the Ammonites, if not their only city of importance enough for mention. In five passages its connection with Ammon is coupled with its name (Deuteronomy 3:11; 2 Samuel 12:26; 2 Samuel 17:27; Jeremiah 49:2; Ezekiel 21:20), "Rabbah of the children of Ammon." It has been conjectured to be the Ham of the Zuzim, or the Ashteroth Karnaim of the Rephaim (Genesis 14:5), of which latter theory there is some interesting evidence of a corroborating tendency at all events (see Smith's 'Bible Dictionary,' 2:985). Rabbah is the proper spelling of the word, except when in a constructive state, as in the above phrase. The relations of Moab and Ammon with Israel are full of interest. After the overthrow of Og, King of Bashan (Numbers 21:33), "Moab and Ammon still remained independent allies south and cast of the Israelite settlements. Both fell before David - Moab, evidently the weaker, first; Ammon not without a long resistance, which made the siege and fall of its capital, Rabbah-ammon, the crowning act of David's conquests. The ruins which now adorn the 'royal city' are of a later Roman date; but the commanding position of the citadel remains; and the unusual sight of a living stream abounding in fish (2 Samuel 12:27; Isaiah 16:2) marks the significance of Joab's song of victory, 'I have fought against Rabbah, and have taken the city of waters'" (Stanley's 'Sinai and Palestine,' 323, edit. 1866). The events recorded in these three chapters are all narrated in the second book of Samuel also, and in the same order. First, there are grouped together in our 18th chapter, and in 2 Samuel 8, in such a manner as to afford a general view of the whole, all the wars which David carried on victoriously against all his enemies round about in the establishment of the Israelitish rule, with a short statement of the results, followed by a catalogue of David's chief public officials. In 1 Chronicles 19 and in 2 Samuel 10 we have a more detailed account of the arduous war against the Ammonites and Syrians, and in 1 Chronicles 20:1-3 and 2 Samuel 12:26-31 the conclusion of the war with the capture of Rabbah, the capital of the Ammonites; and finally, in 1 Chronicles 20:4-8, we have a few short accounts of the victories of the Israelitish heroes over giants from the land of the Philistines, which are inserted in 2 Samuel 21:18-22 as a supplement to the last section of David's history. Apart from this last section, which is to be regarded even in the Chronicle as an appendix, we find the arrangement and succession of the events to be the same in both books, since the sections which in 2 Samuel 9:1-13 and 2 Samuel 11:1-12, 2 Samuel 11:25, stand between the histories of the wars, contain sketches of David's family life, which the author of the Chronicle has, in accordance with his plan, omitted. Even as to individual details the two narratives are perfectly agreed, the divergences being inconsiderable; and even these, in so far as they are original, and are not results of careless copying, - as, for instance, the omission of the word נציבים, 1 Chronicles 18:6, as compared with 1 Chronicles 18:13 and 2 Samuel 8:6, and the difference in the numbers and names in 1 Chronicles 18:4, 1 Chronicles 18:8, as compared with 2 Samuel 4:4, 2 Samuel 4:8, are, - partly mere explanations of obscure expressions, partly small additions or abridgments. For the commentary, therefore, we may refer to the remarks on 2nd Samuel, where the divergences of the Chronicle from the record in Samuel are also dealt with. With 1 Chronicles 18:1-13 cf. 2 Samuel 8:1-14; and with the register of public officials, 2 Samuel 18:14-17, cf. 2 Samuel 8:15-18.

Examples of paraphrastic explanation are found in 1 Chronicles 18:1, where the figurative expression, David took the bridle of the mother out of the hands of the Philistines, i.e., deprived them of the hegemony, is explained by the phrase, David took Gath and her cities out of the hands of the Philistines, i.e., took from the Philistines the capital with her daughter cities; and in 1 Chronicles 18:17, כּהנים is rendered by, the first at the king's hand. Among the abridgments, the omission of David's harsh treatment of the Moabites who were taken prisoners is surprising, no reason for it being discoverable; for the assertion that the chronicler has purposely omitted it in order to free David from the charge of such barbarous conduct, is disposed of by the fact that he does not pass over in silence the similar treatment of the conquered inhabitants of Rabbah in 1 Chronicles 20:3. Instead of this, the chronicler has several historical notes peculiar to himself, which are wanting in the text of Samuel, and which prove that the author of the Chronicle has not derived his account from the second book of Samuel. Such, e.g., is the statement in 1 Chronicles 18:8, that Solomon caused the brazen sea and the pillars and vessels of the court of the temple to be made of the brass taken as booty in the war against Hadadezer; in 1 Chronicles 18:11, the word מאדום, which is wanting in Samuel, as מארם, which in 1 Chronicles 18:11 of that book is used in place of it, probably stood originally in the Chronicle also. Such also are the more accurate statements in 1 Chronicles 18:12 as to the victory over the Edomites in the Valley of Salt (see on 2 Samuel 8:13).

The same phenomena are met with in the detailed account of the Ammonite-Syriac war, 1 Chronicles 19:1-2; 1 Chronicles 20:3, as compared with 2 Samuel 10:1-11:1, and 2 Samuel 12:26-31. In 1 Chronicles 19:1 the omission of the name הנוּן after בּנו is merely an oversight, as the omission of the name נחשׁ in 2 Samuel 10:1 also is. In 1 Chronicles 19:3 there is no need to alter וגו ולהפך לחקר into וגו וּלרגּלהּ את־העיר חקר, 2 Samuel 10:3, although the expression in Samuel is more precise. If the actual words of the original document are given in Samuel, the author of the Chronicle has made the thought more general: "to search and to overthrow, and to spy out the land." Perhaps, however, the terms made use of in the original document were not so exact and precise as those of the book of Samuel. In 1 Chronicles 19:6, 1 Chronicles 19:7, at least, the divergence from 2 Samuel 10:16 cannot be explained otherwise than by supposing that in neither of the narratives is the text of the original document exactly and perfectly reproduced. For a further discussion of the differences, see on 2 Samuel 10:6. The special statement as to the place where the mercenaries encamped, and the Ammonites gathered themselves together from out their cities (1 Chronicles 19:7), is wanting in 2nd Samuel. The city Medeba, which, according to Joshua 13:16, was assigned to the tribe of Reuben, lay about two hours southeast from Heshbon, and still exists as ruins, which retain the ancient name Medaba (see on Numbers 21:30). In 1 Chronicles 19:9, העיר פּתח, "outside the city" (i.e., the capital Rabbah), more correct or exact than השּׁער פּתח (2 Samuel 10:8). On אליהם ויּבא, as compared with חלאמה ויּבא (2 Samuel 10:17), cf. the discussion on 2 Samuel 10:16-17.

The account of the siege of Rabbah, the capital, in the following year, 1 Chronicles 20:1-3, is much abridged as compared with that in 2 Samuel 11:1; 2 Samuel 12:26-31. After the clause, "but David sat (remained) in Jerusalem," in 2 Samuel 11, from 2 Samuel 11:2 onwards, we have the story of David's adultery with Bathsheba, and the events connected with it (2 Samuel 11:3-12:25), which the author of the Chronicle has omitted, in accordance with the plan of his book. Thereafter, in 2 Samuel 12:26, the further progress of the siege of Rabbah is again taken up with the words, "And Joab warred against Rabbah of the sons of Ammon;" and in 2 Samuel 12:27-29 the capture of that city is circumstantially narrated, viz., how Joab, after he had taken the water-city, i.e., the city lying on both banks of the upper Jabbok (the Wady Ammn), with the exception of the Acropolis built on a hill on the north side of the city, sent messages to David, and called upon him to gather together the remainder of the people, i.e., all those capable of bearing arms who had remained in the land; and how David, having done this, took the citadel. Instead of this, we have in the Chronicle only the short statement, "And Joab smote Rabbah, and destroyed it" (1 Chronicles 20:1, at the end). After this, both narratives (1 Chronicles 20:2, 1 Chronicles 20:3, and 2 Samuel 12:30, 2 Samuel 12:31) coincide in narrating how David set the heavy golden crown of the king of the Ammonites on his head, brought much booty out of the city, caused the prisoners of war taken in Rabbah and the other fenced cities of the Ammonites to be slain in the cruellest way, and then returned with all the people, i.e., with the whole of his army, to Jerusalem. Thus we see that, according to the record in the Chronicle also, David was present at the capture of the Acropolis of Rabbah, then put on the crown of the Ammonite king, and commanded the slaughter of the prisoners; but no mention is made of his having gone to take part in the war. By the omission of this circumstance the narrative of the Chronicle becomes defective; but no reason can be given for this abridgment of the record, for the contents of 2 Samuel 12:26-31 must have been contained in the original documents made use of by the chronicler. On the differences between 2 Samuel 12:31 (Sam.) and 1 Chronicles 20:3 of the Chronicle, see on 2 Samuel 12:31. ויּשׂר, "he sawed asunder," is the correct reading, and ויּשׂם in Samuel is an orthographical error; while, on the contrary, בּמּגרות in the Chronicle is a mistake for בּמגזרות in Samuel. The omission of בּמּלבּן אותם והעביר is probably explained by the desire to abridge; for if the author of the Chronicle does not scruple to tell of the sawing asunder of the prisoners with saws, and the cutting of them to pieces under threshing instruments and scythes, it would never occur to him to endeavour to soften David's harsh treatment of them by passing over in silence the burning of them in brick-kilns.

The passages parallel to the short appendix-like accounts of the valiant deeds of the Israelitish leaders in 1 Chronicles 20:4-8 are to be found, as has already been remarked, in 2 Samuel 21:18-22. There, however, besides the three exploits of which we are informed by the chronicler in 2 Samuel 21:15-17, a fourth is recorded, and that in the first place too, viz., the narrative of David's fight with the giant Jishbi-Benob, who was slain by Abishai the son of Zeruiah. The reason why our historian has not recounted this along with the others is clear from the position which he assigns to these short narratives in his book. In the second book of Samuel they are recounted in the last section of the history of David's reign, as palpable proofs of the divine grace of which David had had experience during his whole life, and for which he there praises the Lord in a psalm of thanksgiving (2 Samuel 22). In this connection, David's deliverance by the heroic act of Abishai from the danger into which he had fallen by the fierce attack which the Philistine giant Jishbi-Benob made upon him when he was faint, is very suitably narrated, as being a visible proof of the divine grace which watched over the pious king. For the concluding remark in 2 Samuel 21:17, that in consequence of this event his captains adjured David not to go any more into battle along with them, that the light of Israel might not be extinguished, shows in how great danger he was of being slain by this giant. For this reason the author of the book of Samuel has placed this event at the head of the exploits of the Israelite captains which he was about to relate, although it happened somewhat later in time than the three exploits which succeed. The author of the Chronicle, on the contrary, has made the account of these exploits an appendix to the account of the victorious wars by which David obtained dominion over all the neighbouring peoples, and made his name to be feared among the heathen, as a further example of the greatness of the power given to the prince chosen by the Lord to be over His people. For this purpose the story of the slaughter of the Philistine giant, who had all but slain the weary David, was less suitable, and is therefore passed over by the chronicler, although it was contained in his authority,

(Note: Lightfoot says, in his Chronol. V. T. p. 68: Illud praelium, in quo David in periculum venit et unde decore et illaesus exire non potuit, omissum est.)

as is clear from the almost verbal coincidence of the stories which follow with 2 Samuel 21:18. The very first is introduced by the formula, "It happened after this," which in 2nd Samuel naturally connects the preceding narrative with this; while the chronicler has retained אהרי־כן as a general formula of transition, - omitting, however, עוד (Sam.) in the following clause, and writing ותּעמוד, "there arose," instead of ותּהי. עמד in the later Hebrew is the same as קוּם. The hypothesis that ותעמד has arisen out of עוד ותּהי (in Samuel) is not at all probable, although עמד is not elsewhere used of the origin of a war. Even קוּם is only once (Genesis 41:30) used of the coming, or coming in, of a time. On בּגזר and ספּי instead of בּנב and סף, see on 2 Samuel 21:18. ויּכּנעוּ at the end of the fourth verse is worthy of remark, "And they (the Philistines) were humbled," which is omitted from Samuel, and "yet can scarcely have been arbitrarily added by our historian" (Berth.). This remark, however, correct as it is, does not explain the omission of the word from 2nd Samuel. The reason for that can scarcely be other than that it did not seem necessary for the purpose which the author of the book of Samuel had in the first place in view. As to the two other exploits (1 Chronicles 20:6-8), see the commentary on 2 Samuel 21:19-22. אל for אלּה in the closing remark (1 Chronicles 20:8) is archaic, but the omission of the article (אל instead of האל, as we find it in Genesis 19:8, Genesis 19:25, and in other passages in the Pentateuch) cannot be elsewhere paralleled. In the last clause, "And they fell by the hand of David, and by the hand of his servants," that David should be named is surprising, because none of those here mentioned as begotten of Rapha, i.e., descendants of the ancient Raphaite race, had fallen by the hand of David, but all by the hand of his servants. Bertheau therefore thinks that this clause has been copied verbatim into our passage, and also into 2 Samuel 21:22, from the original document, where this enumeration formed the conclusion of a long section, in which the acts of David and of his heroes, in their battles with the giants in the land of the Philistines, were described. But since the author of the second book of Samuel expressly says, "These four were born to Rapha, and they fell" (2 Samuel 21:22), he can have referred in the words, "And they fell by the hand of David," only to the four above mentioned, whether he took the verse in question unaltered from his authority, or himself added אלּה את־ערבּעת. In the latter case he cannot have added the בּיד־דּוד without some purpose; in the former, the reference of the בּיד־דּוד in the "longer section," from which the excerpt is taken, to others than the four giants mentioned, to Goliath perhaps in addition, whom David slew, is rendered impossible by אלּה את־ערבּעת. The statement, "they fell by the hand of David," does not presuppose that David had slain all of them, or even one of them, with his own hand; for בּיד frequently signifies only through, i.e., by means of, and denotes here that those giants fell in wars which David had waged with the Philistines - that David had been the main cause of their fall, had brought about their death by his servants through the wars he waged.

1 Chronicles 20:1 Interlinear
1 Chronicles 20:1 Parallel Texts

1 Chronicles 20:1 NIV
1 Chronicles 20:1 NLT
1 Chronicles 20:1 ESV
1 Chronicles 20:1 NASB
1 Chronicles 20:1 KJV

1 Chronicles 20:1 Bible Apps
1 Chronicles 20:1 Parallel
1 Chronicles 20:1 Biblia Paralela
1 Chronicles 20:1 Chinese Bible
1 Chronicles 20:1 French Bible
1 Chronicles 20:1 German Bible

Bible Hub

1 Chronicles 19:19
Top of Page
Top of Page