2 Samuel 10:17
And when it was told David, he gathered all Israel together, and passed over Jordan, and came to Helam. And the Syrians set themselves in array against David, and fought with him.
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(17) He gathered . . . and passed.—David, hearing of the great Syrian rally, now took the field in person. Joab may have been with him, but more probably was employed at the south in holding the Ammonites in check and preventing their forming a junction with their confederates.

2 Samuel 10:17-18. David passed over Jordan — In this expedition David seems to have commanded his army in his own person. But, notwithstanding, the Syrians appear to have begun the fight. David slew the men of seven hundred chariots, &c. — The parallel place, 1 Chronicles 19:18, reads, seven thousand men that fought in chariots, and forty thousand footmen, and not horsemen, as here. It is probable, either that horse and foot were mixed together, and that, in all, there were slain forty thousand of them, part horsemen and part footmen; or, as many learned men suppose, that some error has crept into the text in one of the places. Houbigant is of opinion, that the text here, corrected from the parallel passage, should be read, David destroyed seven thousand horsemen, seven hundred chariots, and forty thousand footmen.10:15-19 Here is a new attempt of the Syrians. Even the baffled cause will make head as long as there is any life in it; the enemies of the Son of David do so. But now the promise made to Abraham, Ge 15:18, and repeated to Joshua, Jos 1:4, that the borders of Israel should extend to the river Euphrates, was performed. Learn hence, that it is dangerous to help those who have God against them; for when they fall, their helpers will fall with them.Helam - The place is unknown. Some prefer the translation of the Latin Vulgate: "their host came." 16. Hadarezer sent and brought out the Syrians that were beyond the river—This prince had enjoyed a breathing time after his defeat (2Sa 8:3). But alarmed at the increasing power and greatness of David, as well as being an ally of the Ammonites, he levied a vast army not only in Syria, but in Mesopotamia, to invade the Hebrew kingdom. Shobach, his general, in pursuance of this design, had marched his troops as far as Kelam, a border town of eastern Manasseh, when David, crossing the Jordan by forced marches, suddenly surprised, defeated, and dispersed them. As a result of this great and decisive victory, all the petty kingdoms of Syria submitted and became his tributaries (see on [272]1Ch 19:1). All Israel, i.e. the chosen and valiant men picked out of all Israel. And when it was told David,.... What preparations the Syrians were making to fight him, and where they were:

he gathered all Israel together; all the fighting men in the country:

and passed over Jordan, and came to Helam: which, according to Bunting (b), was twenty miles from Jerusalem. David seems to have gone himself in person to this war:

and the Syrians set themselves in array against David, and fought with him; they formed themselves in a line of battle, and attacked him first, being eager to fight, and perhaps confident of victory, because of their numbers.

(b) Travels, &c. p. 140, 141.

And when it was told David, he gathered {f} all Israel together, and passed over Jordan, and came to Helam. And the Syrians set themselves in array against David, and fought with him.

(f) Meaning, the greatest part.

Verse 17. - David... gathered all Israel together. Some commentators see in this an indication of dissatisfaction with Joab. Really it was a matter of course that in so great a war the king should place himself at the head of his levies. For not only was he possessed of great military genius, but his personal presence would make the men of Israel, a race of sturdy free men, assemble in greater numbers, and would give them confidence. If David himself went there would be no shirking the war and finding excuses to stay at home, and in the camp there would be prompt alacrity and zeal. When Joab saw that "the front of the war was (directed) against him both before and behind," he selected a picked body out of the Israelitish army, and posted them (the picked men) against the children of Aram (i.e., the Syrians). The rest of the men he gave to his brother Abishai, and stationed them against the Ammonites. "The front of the battle:" i.e., the face or front of the hostile army, when placed in battle array. Joab had this in front and behind, as the Ammonites had taken their stand before Rabbah at the back of the Israelitish army, and the Syrians by Medeba in their front, so that Joab was attacked both before and behind. This compelled him to divide his army. He chose out, i.e., made a selection. Instead of בישׂראל בּחוּרי (the picked men in Israel) the Chronicles have בישׂראל בּחוּר (the men in Israel), the singular בּחוּר being more commonly employed than the plural to denote the men of war. The בּ before ישׂראל is not to be regarded as suspicious, although the early translators have not expressed it, and the Masoretes wanted to expunge it. "The choice of Israel" signifies those who were selected in Israel for the war, i.e., the Israelitish soldiers. Joab himself took up his station opposite to the Syrians with a picked body of men, because they were the stronger force of the two. He then made this arrangement with Abishai (2 Samuel 10:11): "If Aram becomes stronger than I((i.e., overpowers me), come to my help; and if the Ammonites should overpower thee, I will go to help thee." Consequently the attack was not to be made upon both the armies of the enemy simultaneously; but Joab proposed to attack the Aramaeans (Syrians) first (cf. 2 Samuel 10:13), and Abishai was merely to keep the Ammonites in check, though there was still a possibility that the two bodies of the enemy might make their attack simultaneously.
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