2 Samuel 10:13
And Joab drew near, and the people that were with him, to the battle against the Syrians: and they fled before him.
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(13) Against the Syrians.—The attack was begun, not against both parts of the foe at once, but Joab threw the weight of his forces against the stronger division of the enemy while Abishai watched and held in check the Ammonites. His tactics were completely successful. The Syrians fled, and the Ammonites, seeing that the whole army of Israel could now be thrown upon them, retired precipitately into the city.

2 Samuel 10:13-14. Joab drew nigh unto battle against the Syrians — He acted very wisely in assaulting the mercenary army first; for they that are hired to fight generally take great care to save themselves, having little regard to the cause for which they fight. Then fled they also — They seem not to have struck a stroke, but provided for their safety by retiring into the city, near to which their army was drawn up. So Joab returned — Here is no account of the number of the slain, who, probably, were few, because they did not fight, but flee. The year also seems to have been so far spent that it was not a fit season for laying siege to the city. See 2 Samuel 11:1.10:6-14 They that are at war with the Son of David, not only give the provocation, but begin the war. God has forces to send against those that set his wrath at defiance, Isa 5:19, which will convince them that none ever hardened his heart against God, and prospered. Christ's soldiers should strengthen one another's hands in their spiritual warfare. Let nothing be wanting in us, whatever the success be. When we make conscience of doing our duty, we may, with satisfaction, leave the event with God, assuredly hoping for his salvation in his own way and time.For the cities of our God - This rather indicates that the relief of Medeba was one of the immediate objects in view, and consequently that at this time Medeba was still in the possession of the Reubenites. To prevent an Israelite city falling into the hands of a pagan people, and the rites of Moloch being substituted for the worship of Yahweh, was a very urgent motive to valor. 2Sa 10:6-14. The Ammonites Overcome.

6-14. when the children of Ammon saw that they stank before David—To chastise those insolent and inhospitable Ammonites, who had violated the common law of nations, David sent a large army under the command of Joab, while they, informed of the impending attack, made energetic preparations to repel it by engaging the services of an immense number of Syrian mercenaries.

Beth-rehob—the capital of the low-lying region between Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon.

Zoba—(see on [271]2Sa 8:3).

of king Maacah—His territories lay on the other side of Jordan, near Gilead (De 3:14).

Ish-tob—that is, "the men of Tob"—the place of Jephthah's marauding adventures (see also 1Ch 19:6; Ps 60:1, title). As the Israelite soldiers poured into the Ammonite territory, that people met them at the frontier town of Medeba (1Ch 19:7-9), the native troops covering the city, while the Syrian mercenaries lay at some distance encamped in the fields. In making the attack, Joab divided his forces into two separate detachments—the one of which, under the command of his brother, Abishai, was to concentrate its attack upon the city, while he himself marched against the overwhelming host of mercenary auxiliaries. It was a just and necessary war that had been forced on Israel, and they could hope for the blessing of God upon their arms. With great judgment the battle opened against the mercenaries, who could not stand against the furious onset of Joab, and not feeling the cause their own, consulted their safety by flight. The Ammonites, who had placed their chief dependence upon a foreign aid, then retreated to entrench themselves within the walls of the town.

He prudently falls upon them first, because they were but mercenaries, and not concerned so much in the success as the Ammonites were, all whose interest lay at stake; and therefore not likely to venture too far in their defence. And Joab drew nigh, and the people that were with him, unto the battle against the Syrians,.... Fell upon them; attacked them first, began the battle with them; rightly judging, that if they, being hired soldiers, were closely pressed, they would give way, which would discourage the Ammonites, who depended much upon them; and the fight, according to Josephus (x), lasted some little time, who says, that Joab killed many of them, and obliged the rest to turn their backs and flee, as follows:

and they fled before him: the Syriac and Arabic versions in this verse, and in all others in this chapter where the word "Syrians" is used, have "Edomites", reading "Edom" instead of "Aram", the letters "R" and "D" in the Hebrew tongue being very similar.

(x) Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 7. c. 6. sect. 2.)

And Joab drew nigh, and the people that were with him, unto the battle against the Syrians: and they fled before him.
13. they fled before him] “They that are hired to fight generally have a great care to save themselves, having no regard to the cause for which they fight.” Patrick.When David heard of these preparations and the advance of the Syrians into the land, he sent Joab and his brave army against the foe. הגּבּורים (the mighty men) is in apposition to כּל־הצּבא (all the host): the whole army, namely the heroes or mighty men, i.e., the brave troops that were well used to war. It is quite arbitrary on the part of Thenius to supply vav before הגּבּורים; for, as Bertheau has observed, as never find a distinction drawn between the gibborim and the whole army.
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