2 Samuel 10:3
And the princes of the children of Ammon said to Hanun their lord, Think you that David does honor your father, that he has sent comforters to you? has not David rather sent his servants to you, to search the city, and to spy it out, and to overthrow it?
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(3) To search the city.—The capital, and almost the only city of the Ammonites was Rabbah; it was strongly fortified, and a knowledge of its interior would be important to an enemy. The suspicions of the Ammonites may have been roused by David’s growing power, and especially by his conquest of the neighbouring Moabites.

2 Samuel 10:3-4. Hath not David sent to search the city? — Nothing is so well meant, but it maybe ill interpreted; and is wont to be so by men who love none but themselves. And shaved off the one half of their beards, and cut off their garments in the middle — He must not only have been very credulous, but of a bad and hasty temper; otherwise he would have dismissed them civilly, how much soever his courtiers suspected them; or have kept them in an honourable custody till the truth had been discovered. But this was the highest disgrace he could put upon them. For the wearing of long beards and long garments was then, as it is still, the fashion of the East, where they were deemed badges of honour; and consequently the cutting off and curtailing of either was regarded as the greatest indignity; nay, in some places, the cutting off the beard was not only looked upon as a matter of the highest reproach, but also of the severest punishment. So it was anciently among the Indians, as we learn from Nicholas Damascenus, mentioned by Stobæus, who says, that the king commanded the greatest offenders to be shaven, as the greatest punishment he could inflict upon them. And so it is at this day among the Persians. And it was one of the most infamous punishments of cowardice in Sparta, that they who turned their backs in the day of battle were obliged to appear abroad with one half of their beards shaved, and the other unshaved. There were two reasons which caused the eastern people of old, as they cause them at present, to look upon the beard as venerable: 1st, They considered it as a natural ornament, designed to distinguish men from women. 2d, It was the mark of a free man, in opposition to slaves. So that, in every view, the indignity offered by Hanun to the ambassadors of David was capital, and, it seems, the greatest he could have done them. It was a violation of the law of nature, of hospitality, and the right of nations. Insult and contumely were added to the disgrace; half the beard was cut off to make them look ridiculous, and half the robe to make their figures at once more contemptible and indecent. — Delaney, Bishop Patrick, and Plut. in Agesilao.10:1-5 Nahash had been an enemy to Israel, yet had showed kindness to David. David therefore resolves gratefully to return it. If a Pharisee gives alms in pride, though God will not reward it, yet he that receives the alms ought to return thanks for it. Those who bear ill-will to their neighbours, are resolved not to believe that their neighbours bear any good-will to them. There is nothing so well meant, but it may be ill interpreted, and is wont to be so, by men who love nobody but themselves. The best men must not think it strange if they are thus misrepresented. Charity thinketh no evil. According to the usages of those days and countries, Hanun treated David's ambassadors in the most contemptuous manner. David showed much concern for his servants. Let us learn not to lay unjust reproaches to heart; they will wear off, and turn only to the shame of those who utter or do them; while the reputation wrongfully hurt in a little time grows again, as these beards did. God will bring forth thy righteousness as the light, therefore wait patiently for him, Ps 37:6,7.The princes ... - Compare Rehoboam's advisers 1 Kings 12:10-11. It is not improbable that David's severe treatment of Moab 2 Samuel 8:2 was in part the cause of the fear of the Ammonites that a similar treatment was in store for themselves. 3. the princes of the children of Ammon said unto Hanun—Their suspicion was not warranted either by any overt act or by any cherished design of David: it must have originated in their knowledge of the denunciations of God's law against them (De 23:3-6), and of David's policy in steadfastly adhering to it. To observe where the city is weakest, and may soonest be taken. The ground of this suspicion was, partly, the conscience of their ill deserts and carriage towards the Israelites, whose quarrel David had espoused; partly, the opinion they had of David’s policy; and partly, the severity of God’s law, particularly against them, Deu 23:6, which might easily come to their ears. And they knew David was a zealous asserter of God’s laws. And the princes of the children of Ammon said to Hanun their lord,.... His nobles and prime ministers, the courtiers that were about him:

thinkest thou that David doth honour thy father, that he hath sent comforters unto thee? could he imagine that David was sincere, and that he really meant to do honour to the memory of his father, and comfort him under the loss of him, by sending his ambassadors to him on such an errand? there was no reason, they thought, to believe this, since an Israelite was forbidden to seek their peace and prosperity, or ask of it, nor might Ammonite enter into their congregation unto the tenth generation, Deuteronomy 23:3; and indeed some have thought that David did not do a right thing in sending this embassy, and was justly requited; but it is certain he acted according to the laws of friendship, and was cordial and sincere in what he did, though these courtiers of Hanun put an ill construction on his conduct, their minds being filled with enmity against the Israelites:

hath not David rather sent his servants unto thee to search the city,

and to spy it out, and to overthrow it? to reconnoitre the place, to observe, as they walked about in it, which were the weakest and most defenceless parts of it, and what avenues there were to it, and which were most accessible, that they might the better know how to attack it, and destroy it; these surmises and suspicions they endeavoured to fill the king's head with, to set him against them, and treat them ill.

And the princes of the children of Ammon said unto Hanun their lord, Thinkest thou that David doth honour thy father, that he hath sent comforters unto thee? hath not David rather sent his servants unto thee, {b} to search the city, and to spy it out, and to overthrow it?

(b) Their arrogant malice would not allow them to see the simplicity of David's heart: therefore their counsel turned to the destruction of their country.

3. the princes of the children of Ammon] The new king’s counsellors were as foolish as Rehoboam’s advisers (1 Kings 12:10-11). Their unjust suspicions of David’s motives may have been excited by his recent conquest of Moab.

the city] Rabbah, which was strongly fortified. See ch. 2 Samuel 11:1.Verse 3. - Thinkest thou that David doth honour thy father! This insinuation arose probably from ill will, stirred up by David's success in war; and, with that distrust with which neighbouring nations too often regard one another, they see in his embassy only a purpose of spying into their defences with view to future attack. Rabbah, their city, was a place strong beth naturally and by reason of its fortifications. David then summoned Ziba the servant of Saul, told him of the restoration of Saul's possessions to his son Mephibosheth, and ordered him, with his sons and servants, to cultivate the land for the son of his lord. The words, "that thy master's son may have food to eat," are not at variance with the next clause, "Mephibosheth shall eat bread alway at my table," as bread is a general expression, including all the necessaries of life. Although Mephibosheth himself ate daily as a guest at the king's table, he had to make provision as a royal prince for the maintenance of his own family and servants, as he had children according to 2 Samuel 9:12 and 1 Chronicles 8:34. Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants (2 Samuel 9:10), with whom he had probably been living in Gibeah, Saul's native place, and may perhaps have hitherto farmed Saul's land.
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