1 Kings 11:24
And he gathered men unto him, and became captain over a band, when David slew them of Zobah: and they went to Damascus, and dwelt therein, and reigned in Damascus.
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(24) When David slew them of Zobah.—The account of this war is found in 2Samuel 8:1-13. The kingdom of Zobah was evidently a powerful state at that time, at war with the Syrian kingdom of Hamath, but holding supremacy over the Syrians of Damascus, and the “Syrians beyond the river” Euphrates; and (as the record shows) accumulating vast treasures of gold, silver, and brass. The establishment of Rezon (and Hadad?) at Damascus must have taken place later; for at the time we find that David “put governors in Damascus,” and reduced its inhabitants to a tributary condition. Possibly there may have been some rising early in the reign of Solomon; for in 2Chronicles 8:3, we find that Solomon had to “go up against Hamath-zobah,” with which expedition the foundation of Tadmor seems to be connected. But it is probable that the establishment of an independent power in Damaseus dated only from the later days of Solomon.

11:14-25 While Solomon kept close to God and to his duty, there was no enemy to give him uneasiness; but here we have an account of two. If against us, he can make us fear even the least, and the very grasshopper shall be a burden. Though they were moved by principles of ambition or revenge, God used them to correct Solomon.And (they) reigned - A very slight emendation gives the sense, "they made him king at Damascus." 1Ki 11:14-40. Solomon's Adversaries.

14-25. the Lord stirred up an adversary—that is, permitted him, through the impulse of his own ambition, or revenge, to attack Israel. During the war of extermination, which Joab carried on in Edom (2Sa 8:13), this Hadad, of the royal family, a mere boy when rescued from the sword of the ruthless conqueror, was carried into Egypt, hospitably entertained, and became allied with the house of the Egyptian king. In after years, the thought of his native land and his lost kingdom taking possession of his mind, he, on learning the death of David and Joab, renounced the ease, possessions, and glory of his Egyptian residence, to return to Edom and attempt the recovery of his ancestral throne. The movements of this prince seem to have given much annoyance to the Hebrew government; but as he was defeated by the numerous and strong garrisons planted throughout the Edomite territory, Hadad seems to have offered his services to Rezon, another of Solomon's adversaries (1Ki 11:23-25). This man, who had been general of Hadadezer and, on the defeat of that great king, had successfully withdrawn a large force, went into the wilderness, led a predatory life, like Jephthah, David, and others, on the borders of the Syrian and Arabian deserts. Then, having acquired great power, he at length became king in Damascus, threw off the yoke, and was "the adversary of Israel all the days of Solomon." He was succeeded by Hadad, whose successors took the official title of Ben-hadad from him, the illustrious founder of the powerful kingdom of Damascene-Syria. These hostile neighbors, who had been long kept in check by the traditional fame of David's victories, took courage; and breaking out towards the latter end of Solomon's reign, they must have not only disturbed his kingdom by their inroads, but greatly crippled his revenue by stopping his lucrative traffic with Tadmor and the Euphrates.

Over a band, to wit, of soldiers, who fled and dispersed themselves upon that defeat, 2Sa 10, and others who readily joined themselves with them, and lived by robbery, as many Arabians did.

They went to Damascus, when they were increased in number and strength, and took it, whilst Solomon was wallowing in luxury, and grown effeminate.

And he gathered men unto him,.... Perhaps some of the scattered forces of his master:

and became captain over a band, when David slew them of Zobah; some that escaped enlisted under this man, and lived by plunder the remainder of David's reign, and so in the reign of Solomon unto his old age, when his heart was turned away from God to idols, by his wives:

and they went to Damascus, and dwelt therein, and reigned in Damascus; Rezon and his men went thither, not in David's time, for he put a garrison there, 2 Samuel 8:6 but towards the close of Solomon's days, and when Hadad set up in Edom, which gave him the hint to do the same at Damascus, of which he became king, and was the founder of that kingdom; after him there was a long race of kings there.

And he gathered men unto him, and became captain over a band, when David slew them of Zobah: and they went to Damascus, and dwelt therein, {n} and reigned in Damascus.

(n) That is, the men whom he had gathered to him.

24. and he gathered men unto him] The LXX. (Alex.) says ‘men were gathered unto him.’ This only indicates different vowel points to the same consonants. But the difference in the sense would point to Rezon as one whom his countrymen regarded as a leader.

and became captain over a band] (R.V. troop). The word is mostly used of martial gatherings, and organized forces, and this is the sense here. Rezon gathered, and trained his followers till they were able to dislodge the troops of Israel and establish themselves in Damascus.

when David slew them of Zobah] The two last words are necessary to complete the sense. It is clear that others beside Rezon fled away. It may have been that Hadadezer was an unpopular king. Out of the fugitives Rezon formed for himself a troop, and awaiting his time, came back and assumed the sovereignty.

and they went to Damascus] i.e. When an opportunity came about of entering into a city, they left what must before have been a wandering life of guerilla-warfare, and settled within walls.

and dwelt therein] Making a permanent settlement, and may have continued some time before Rezon was made king.

and reigned in Damascus] If this verb be correct, the sense is that this band of warriors seized the city, and made themselves in a body lords of the place and its people. But a very slight variation of the text would give the sense ‘they made them a king in D.’ which, of course, the narrative shews to have been Rezon. The Syriac has ‘and Rezon reigned in D.,’ while the Vulgate gives ‘and they made him king in D.’

Verse 24. - And he gathered men unto him and became captain over a band [either of rebels before or of fugitives after the defeat], when David slew them of Zobah [Of Zobah, not in Hebrews "Them" must mean the Syrian army]: and they went to Damascus, and dwelt therein [As David put garrisons in Syria of Damascus (2 Samuel 8:6), this must have been some time after the defeat of the Syrians. But Keil argues that it cannot have been in the middle or later part of Solomon's reign, inasmuch as Solomon must have been lord of Damascus, or he could not have built Palmyra. But it is not so incontrovertibly settled that Solomon did build Palmyra (see on 1 Kings 9:18) as to make this argument of much weight. And even if it were, we might still fix the reign of Rezon at an earlier period of Solomon's sway. See below], and reigned. [i.e., the band or troop of Rezon, either in the confusion of the defeat, or in some subsequent time of anarchy, took possession of Damascus, and he, it would seem, usurped the crown. The word "reigned," however (plural), is somewhat remarkable. It may perhaps be accounted for by the plurals which precede it. The insertion of one "yod" (וימליכו for וימלכו) gives the sense "they made him king," which would certainly be preferable, if the emendation were not purely conjectural. 1 Kings 11:24A second adversary of Solomon was Rezon, the son of Eliadah (for the name see at 1 Kings 15:18), who had fled from his lord Hadadezer, king of Zobah, and who became the captain of a warlike troop (גּדוּד), when David smote them (אתם), i.e., the troops of his lord (2 Samuel 8:3-4). Rezon probably fled from his lord for some reason which is not assigned, when the latter was engaged in war with David, before his complete overthrow, and collected together a company from the fugitives, with which he afterwards marched to Damascus, and having taken possession of that city, made himself king over it. This probably did not take place till towards the close of David's reign, or even after his death, though it was at the very beginning of Solomon's reign; for "he became an adversary to Israel all the days of Solomon (i.e., during the whole of his reign), and that with (beside) the mischief which Hadad did, and he abhorred Israel (i.e., became disgusted with the Israelitish rule), and became king over Aram." הדד אשׁר is an abbreviated expression, to which עשׂה may easily be supplied, as it has been by the lxx (vid., Ewald, 292, b., Anm.). It is impossible to gather from these few words in what the mischief done by Hadad to Solomon consisted.

(Note: What Josephus (Ant. viii. 7, 6) relates concerning an alliance between Hadad and Rezon for the purpose of making hostile attacks upon Israel, is merely an inference drawn from the text of the lxx, and utterly worthless.)

Rezon, on the other hand, really obtained possession of the rule over Damascus. Whether at the beginning or not till the end of Solomon's reign cannot be determined, since all that is clearly stated is that he was Solomon's adversary during the whole of his reign, and attempted to revolt from him from the very beginning. If, however, he made himself king of Damascus in the earliest years of his reign, he cannot have maintained his sway very long, since Solomon afterwards built or fortified Tadmor in the desert, which he could not have done if he had not been lord over Damascus, as the caravan road from Gilead to Tadmor (Palmyra) went past Damascus.

(Note: Compare Ewald, Gesch. iii. p. 276. It is true that more could be inferred from 2 Chronicles 8:3, if the conquest of the city of Hamath by Solomon were really recorded in that passage, as Bertheau supposes. But although על הזק is used to signify the conquest of tribes or countries, we cannot infer the conquest of the city of Hamath from the words, "Solomon went to Hamath Zobah עליה ויּחזק and built Tadmor," etc., since all that עליה יחזק distinctly expresses is the establishment of his power over the land of Hamath Zobah. And this Solomon could have done by placing fortifications in that province, because he was afraid of rebellion, even if Hamath Zobah had not actually fallen away from his power.)

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