2 Samuel 10:9
When Joab saw that the front of the battle was against him before and behind, he chose of all the choice men of Israel, and put them in array against the Syrians:
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(9) When Joab saw.—The keen eye of this experienced general at once took in both the advantages and the danger of this disposition of the enemy. He threw his whole force between their two divisions, organising his own army in two parts, one facing the Ammonites and the other the Syrians, but each capable of supporting the other in case of need. The enemy was thus cut in two, while the Israelites formed one compact body. He himself took command of the wing facing the Syrians with the choice troops of Israel, as having the stronger enemy to meet, while he gave the rest of the forces opposing the Ammonites into the hand of his brother Abishai.

2 Samuel 10:9. The front of the battle — Hebrew, the face of the battle; was against him before, and behind — That is, they had divided their forces, the Syrians appearing before him, and the Ammonites behind him. He put them in array against the Syrians — He also, like an expert commander, presently divided his army into two bodies, and picked out the best soldiers to engage the Syrians, who, it seems, were the strongest, or the most valiant.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.The two armies of the Ammonites and the Syrians were drawn up facing one another; the Ammonites supported by the city Rabbah behind them; the Syrians in great force, with numerous chariots able to manoeuvre in the plain in front of Medeba. If Joab advanced against either, he would have the other in his rear. 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.

Which were the most valuable valiant and expert soldiers. When Joab saw that the front of the battle was against him before and behind,.... Or "the face" of it (w); armies appeared both before and behind, about to attack him both in front and rear; the Targum is,"and Joab saw that the warriors, or those that made war, were strong against him before and behind:"

he chose of all the choice men of Israel; the most eminent for strength, and valour, and military skill, who had been tried, and were famous for warlike exploits, the flower of the army:

and put them in array against the Syrians; who might be the strongest party, and the best soldiers; though being but mercenaries, if hard beset, would sooner give way, as he might suppose, upon which the Ammonites would do the same.

(w) "facies", Pagninus, Montanus.

When Joab saw that the front of the battle was against him before and behind, he chose of all the choice men of Israel, and put them in array against the Syrians:
9. that the front of the battle was against him before and behind] The Ammonites were posted in front of the city, the Syrians on the plain opposite to them: if he attacked either force separately, his rear would be exposed to the other. His choice of the picked men to attack the Syrians, and his taking command of this division in person, indicate that the mercenary troops were the most formidable part of the Ammonite force.Verse 9. - The front of the battle. The object of Joab was to prevent at all hazards the junction of the Syrians with the Ammonites, and he was only just in time to throw himself between them. This was resolute but dangerous policy, as, in case of defeat, he would have a powerful enemy in his rear. Apparently, however, he was aware that his real work lay with the Syrian mercenaries, who were dangerous enough by themselves, and would become more than a match for him if they were reinforced by the men of Rabbah. He therefore leaves Abishai with such troops as he could spare to watch the Ammonites, feeling sure that they would not hazard an attack unless they saw matters going ill with him; and, taking with him all his bravest men, "the choice man of Israel," he prepares with them to give battle to the Syrians. On the arrival of David's ambassadors, however, the chiefs of the Ammonites said to Hanun their lord, "Doth David indeed honour thy father in thine eyes (i.e., dost thou really suppose that David intends to do honour to thy father), because he has sent comforters to thee? Has David not sent his servants to thee with the intention of exploring and spying out the town, and (then) destroying it?" The first question is introduced with ה, because a negative answer is expected; the second with הלוא, because it requires an affirmative reply. העיר is the capital Rabbah, a strongly fortified city (see at 2 Samuel 11:1). The suspicion expressed by the chiefs was founded upon national hatred and enmity, which had probably been increased by David's treatment of Moab, as the subjugation and severe punishment of the Moabites (2 Samuel 8:2) had certainly taken place a short time before. King Hanun therefore gave credence to the suspicions expressed as to David's honourable intentions, and had his ambassadors treated in the most insulting manner.
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