2 Samuel 11:1
And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah. But David tarried still at Jerusalem.
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(1) After the year was expired.—Literally, as in margin, at the return of the year. This refers back to 2Samuel 10:14. Joab had spent the winter or rainy season at Jerusalem; now he returns to Ammon. David had evidently hurried his campaign against Hadarezer to prevent the junction of his foes, and Joab had probably been sent at first with only a small force to hold the Ammonites in check. With the speedy and successful close of David’s own operations, he returned to Jerusalem, while the bulk of the army was sent to join Joab. By the curious insertion of a letter the Hebrew text reads “when angels (or messengers) go forth.” It is corrected in the margin.

Destroyed the children.1Chronicles 20:1, explains “wasted the country of the children.” After the custom of ancient warfare, while the army was besieging Rabbah, foraging parties were sent out to lay waste the country and cut off any stragglers. Comp. 1Samuel 13:17-18.

2 Samuel 11:1. After the year was expired — Hebrew, at the return of the year: when that year ended, and the next began, which was in the spring-time. When kings go forth to battle — Which is, when the ground is fit for the march of soldiers, and brings forth provision for man and beast. David sent Joab and all Israel — All his soldiers. And they destroyed the children of Ammon — Laid waste their country, and killed all the people they could meet with. But David tarried still at Jerusalem — He committed the care of this war to Joab, and did not himself go out to fight, as he had done against Hadarezer: had he been now on his post, at the head of his forces, he had been out of the way of temptation.

11:1-5 Observe the occasions of David's sin; what led to it. 1. Neglect of his business. He tarried at Jerusalem. When we are out of the way of our duty, we are in temptation. 2. Love of ease: idleness gives great advantage to the tempter. 3. A wandering eye. He had not, like Job, made a covenant with his eyes, or, at this time, he had forgotten it. And observe the steps of the sin. See how the way of sin is down-hill; when men begin to do evil, they cannot soon stop. Observe the aggravations of the sin. How could David rebuke or punish that in others, of which he was conscious that he himself was guilty?After the year was expired - The next spring after the escape of the Ammonites into their city 2 Samuel 10:14.

The children of Ammon - The marginal reference supplies the word "the land of," which is obviously the right reading.

David tarried at Jerusalem - The Syrians being subdued, the war with Ammon was not of sufficient moment to require David's personal presence. The whole section relating to David's adultery and Uriah's death, from this verse to 2 Samuel 12:26, is omitted in the Book of Chronicles.


2Sa 11:1. Joab Besieges Rabbah.

1. at the time when kings go forth to battle—The return of spring was the usual time of commencing military operations. This expedition took place the year following the war against the Syrians; and it was entered upon because the disaster of the former campaign having fallen chiefly upon the Syrian mercenaries, the Ammonites had not been punished for their insult to the ambassadors.

David sent Joab and his servants … they destroyed the children of Ammon—The powerful army that Joab commanded ravaged the Ammonite country and committed great havoc both on the people and their property, until having reached the capital, they besieged Rabbah—Rabbah denotes a great city. This metropolis of the Ammonites was situated in the mountainous tract of Gilead, not far from the source of the Arnon. Extensive ruins are still found on its site.Whilst Joab besieged Rabbah David committeth adultery with Bath-sheba, 2 Samuel 11:1-4. And hearing that she was with child, he sendeth for Uriah her husband out of the camp, to cover his shame. He will not go to his own house, neither sober nor drunk, 2 Samuel 11:5-13. David sendeth him again into the camp with a letter to Joab to expose him to death, 2 Samuel 11:14-17. The news of which Joab sendeth to David: he marrieth Bath-sheba, 2 Samuel 11:18-27.

After the year was expired; when that year ended, and the next begun, which was in the spring time, Exodus 12:2.

When kings go forth; which is when the ground is fit for the march of soldiers, and brings forth provision for man and beast.

To battle: these words are to be understood here, as Genesis 10:11 14:8.

Rabbah; the chief and royal city of the Ammonites, Deu 3:11.

And it came to pass, that after the year was expired,.... Or at the end of the year, as the Targum, which concluded with the month Adar or February, the spring of the year:

at the time when kings go forth to battle; in the month Nisan, as the Targum on 1 Chronicles 20:1; adds, the same with Abib, which was the first month of the year, Exodus 12:2, a fit time to go out to war; when, as the Jewish commentators observe, the rains were over, and there were grass in the fields, and fruit on the trees, and corn ripe, and so food for horse and men. This month was called Nisan, as some think (d), from the military banners then erected; so by the Romans it is called Martius, and by us March, from Mars, the god of war; though some (e) take this to be the month Tisri, answering to part of September, and part of October, when all the fruits of the earth were gathered in, and supposed to be a fit time for war, when the heat of the year was declining:

that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; his whole army under Joab as general; in 1 Chronicles 20:1; it is "the power of the army"; the whole body of it: and they destroyed the children of Ammon; burnt their cities, and slew the inhabitants of them, and laid their land waste wherever they came:

and besieged Rabbah; their chief city, called Rabathamana by Polybius (f), that is, Rabbah of Ammon, and afterwards. Philadelphia, from Philadelphus, king of Egypt, as it was in the times of Jerom (g):

but David tarried still at Jerusalem; which is observed for the sake of the following history; it would have been well for him if he had gone forth with the army himself, then the sin he fell into would have been prevented.

(d) Vid. Bochart. Hierozoic. par. 1. l. 2. c. 50. col. 557. (e) Weemse of the Judicial Law, c. 28. p. 106. (f) Hist. l. 5. p. 414. (g) De loc. Heb. fol. 94. C.

And it came to pass, after the year was {a} expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah. But David tarried still at Jerusalem.

(a) The year following about the spring time.

Ch. 2 Samuel 11:1. The siege of Rabbah

 = 1 Chronicles 20:11. after the year was expired] Better, at the return of the year: that is when spring set in with the commencement of the year in the month Abib or Nisan. Cp. 1 Kings 20:22; 1 Kings 20:26; 2 Chronicles 36:10. If Joab’s return to Jerusalem (ch. 2 Samuel 10:14) was due to the lateness of the season, the next year was probably occupied with the Syrian campaign, and the expedition against Rabbah did not take place until the year after it.

at the time when kings go forth to battle] At the time of year when kings were accustomed to reopen the campaign after the winter cessation of hostilities.

destroyed the children of Ammon] The parallel passage in 1 Chronicles 20:1 gives the right explanation, “wasted the country of the children of Ammon.” While Rabbah was besieged, the country was ravaged.

Rabbah] Rabbah (= the great city), or more fully Rabbah of the children of Ammon (ch. 2 Samuel 12:26), the capital of the Ammonites, was situated in a strong position about 22 miles east of the Jordan, on a branch of the valley of the Jabbok. It consisted of the lower town, called “the city of waters” (ch. 2 Samuel 12:27), from the perennial stream which has its source in it; and the citadel, a place of great strength, built on a hill rising abruptly on the north side of the lower town (ch. 2 Samuel 12:28-29). We are not told whether the city was destroyed on its capture. If so, it was afterwards rebuilt (Amos 1:14), and was a place of importance at the time of Nebuchadnezzar’s invasion (Jeremiah 49:2-3; Ezekiel 21:20).

Its name was changed to Philadelpheia by Ptolemy Philadelphus in the third century b. c., and down to the fourth century a. d. it continued to be famous. For a description of the ruins, which give proof of the magnificence and wealth of the city during the later period of its existence, see Tristram’s Land of Israel, p. 533 ff.; Oliphant’s Land of Gilead, p. 251 ff.

David tarried still at Jerusalem] Exposing himself to the temptations of idleness. So Ovid writes:

“Quaeritur Aegisthus quare sit factus adulter?

In promptu causa est; desidiosus erat.”

Verse 1. - After the year was expired; Hebrew and Revised Version, at the return of the year; that is, as Josephus paraphrases it, "the next spring." It seems quite certain that the war with Hadarezer did not take place in the same year as the defeat of the Syrians at Medeba. For the gathering of his mercenaries by Nahash would occupy a long time, and it was done so leisurely, that not only did news of it reach Jerusalem, but David was able to collect his forces, and instead of awaiting the invasion, could deliver his attack on the enemy's ground. The battle at Medeba took place in the autumn, and, as it was impossible to keep the field with winter so near, Joab marched back to Jerusalem, intending in the spring to return to the siege of Rabbah. But David quickly had information that a more serious war was impending, and, instead of sending Joab, he now gathers "all Israel," and, after gaining a victory, it is plain that he marched into the Syrian territories, and compelled by his presence the allies of Hadarezer to transfer their allegiance to him. Simultaneously with this war he had to meet the attack of the Edomites, for which purpose he detached Abishai with a portion of his army; and it was necessary also to post garrisons in their country, and in Atom of Damascus. It was while he was thus occupied in the Aramean states that he gathered the "much brass" spoken of in 2 Samuel 8:8. The Ammonites would necessarily be left to themselves while these great events were going on, but now, after a respite of a year and a half, David sent Joab, and his servants, that is, his officers - the word "servant" in Oriental courts being constantly used to designate those, high in rank near the king's person - and all Israel; that is, an army gathered from all the tribes. In accordance with the cruel customs of ancient warfare, they began by laying the whole country waste, and putting all whom they found to the sword, and thus destroyed the children of Ammon before laying siege to the capital, into which all the people by these harsh measures had been forced to go for refuge. In the Hebrew there is a curious spelling, the word "kings" being written melakim, with an aleph to represent the long a. It is a mistake to suppose that a different word, malakim, "angels" or "ambassadors," is meant, as it is nothing more than an archaic method of spelling, instances of which have been made rare by the extreme fastidiousness of Hebrew scribes. There is, however, another example not far off, where the Hebrew word for "poor" is also written with an inserted aleph. 2 Samuel 11:1(Cf. 1 Chronicles 20:1). Siege of Rabbah. - "And it came to pass at the return of the year, at the time when the kings marched out, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah: but David remained in Jerusalem." This verse is connected with 2 Samuel 10:14, where it was stated that after Joab had put to flight the Aramaeans who came to the help of the Ammonites, and when the Ammonites also had fallen back before Abishai in consequence of this victory, and retreated into their fortified capital, Joab himself returned to Jerusalem. He remained there during the winter or rainy season, in which it was impossible that war should be carried on. At the return of the year, i.e., at the commencement of spring, with which the new years began in the month Abib (Nisan), the time when kings who were engaged in war were accustomed to open their campaign, David sent Joab his commander-in-chief with the whole of the Israelitish forces to attack the Ammonites once more, for the purpose of chastising them and conquering their capital. The Chethibh המּלאכים should be changed into המּלכים, according to the Keri and the text of the Chronicles. The א interpolated is a perfectly superfluous mater lectionis, and probably crept into the text from a simple oversight. The "servants" of David with Joab were not the men performing military service, or soldiers, (in which case "all Israel" could only signify the people called out to war in extraordinary circumstances), but the king's military officers, the military commanders; and "all Israel," the whole of the military forces of Israel. Instead of "the children of Ammon" we find "the country of the children of Ammon," which explains the meaning more fully. But there was no necessity to insert ארץ (the land or country), as השׁחית is applied to men in other passages in the sense of "cast to the ground," or destroy (e.g., 1 Samuel 26:15). Rabbah was the capital of Ammonitis (as in Joshua 13:25): the fuller name was Rabbath of the children of Ammon. It has been preserved in the ruins which still exist under the ancient name of Rabbat-Ammn, on the Nahr Ammn, i.e., the upper Jabbok (see at Deuteronomy 3:11). The last clause, "but David sat (remained) in Jerusalem," leads on to the account which follows of David's adultery with Bathsheba (vv. 2-27 and 2 Samuel 12:1-25), which took place at that time, and is therefore inserted here, so that the conquest of Rabbah is not related till afterwards (2 Samuel 12:26-31).
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