2 Samuel 18:1
And David numbered the people that were with him, and set captains of thousands and captains of hundreds over them.
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(1) Numbered the people.—The word means rather mustered. David was some time at Mahanaim, organising the forces which continually gathered to him there.

2 Samuel 18:1-3. David numbered the people that were with him — Which had flocked to him thither, so as to make up a small army. And finding himself sufficiently strong to go against the enemy, he resolved not to wait their coming, but to give the assault; and accordingly marched his forces out of the city, dividing them into three parts, and setting a captain over each, one of whom, however, Joab, was, doubtless, also general of the whole army. I will surely go forth with you myself also — Which he thought would be a great encouragement to them, and cause them to fight the more valiantly. The people answered, Thou shalt not go with us — They did not think it advisable that he should hazard his life, on the preservation of which their common cause, in a great measure, depended; signifying that if they should be routed, and half of them slain, Absalom would not think himself a conqueror as long as David was alive, who might raise new forces and give him battle again. Indeed it was Absalom’s great error, and the utter ruin of himself and his cause, to go to battle in his own person, an error into which he was drawn by a divine infatuation, through Hushai’s craft. Now thou art worth ten thousand of us — Not only for the dignity of thy person, but also for the importance of our common cause, which, if thou art slain, is irrecoverably lost. It is better that thou succour us out of the city — By sending us supplies of men and provisions of all sorts, together with counsel and advice, as we shall have occasion; and by securing our retreat if we be defeated.

18:1-8 How does David render good for evil! Absalom would have only David smitten; David would have only Absalom spared. This seems to be a resemblance of man's wickedness towards God, and God's mercy to man, of which it is hard to say which is most amazing. Now the Israelites see what it is to take counsel against the Lord and his anointed.Cheese of kine - Or, as others, "milch cows," which is more in accordance with the context, being coupled with "sheep," and is more or less borne out etymologically by the Arabic. God's care for David was evident in the kindness of these people. CHAPTER 18

2Sa 18:1-4. David Reviewing the Armies.

1, 2. David numbered the people that were with him—The hardy mountaineers of Gilead came in great numbers at the call of their chieftains, so that, although without money to pay any troops, David soon found himself at the head of a considerable army. A pitched battle was now inevitable. But so much depending on the life of the king, he was not allowed to take the field in person; and he therefore divided his forces into three detachments under Joab, Abishai, and Ittai, the commander of the foreign guards.David viewing the armies in their march, giveth them charge of Absalom, 2 Samuel 18:1-5; whose men are smitten: he hanging by his hair on an oak, is slain by Joab, and cast into a pit: his pillar and monument, 2 Samuel 18:6-18. David hearing hereof, 2 Samuel 18:19-32, mourneth for Absalom, 2 Samuel 18:33.

The people that were with him; which flocked to him thither, so as to make up a small army.

And David numbered the people that were with him,.... Which Josephus says (d) were four thousand; but one would think there should be more by what follows:

and set captains of thousands and captains of hundreds over them; he divided his army into companies, which consisted some of a thousand and others of a hundred; over each of which he set captains, to lead them on, direct, and command them in battle.

(d) Antiqu. l. 7. c. 10. sect. 1.

And David {a} numbered the people that were with him, and set captains of thousands and captains of hundreds over them.

(a) For certain of the Reubenites, Gadites, and of the half tribe could not bear the insolence of the son against the father, and therefore joined with David.

Ch. 2 Samuel 18:1-8. The battle in the forest of Ephraim

1. And David, &c.] The events here recorded cannot have followed immediately on David’s arrival at Mahanaim. An interval of a few weeks must be assumed, during which the rival armies were mustered and organized. Cp. note on ch. 2 Samuel 17:24.

numbered] The word means not merely to count, but to muster and review.

captains of thousands and captains of hundreds] The usual military divisions (1 Samuel 22:7; Numbers 31:14; and see note on 1 Samuel 8:12); corresponding originally to the civil divisions instituted by Moses (Exodus 18:25). See note on 1 Samuel 10:19.

Verse 1. - And David numbered. The verb really means that he organized his army, and arranged it in companies and divisions. As Absalom gathered all Israel to him, there would be some delay; and David, like a wise general, made use of it for training the brave but undisciplined men who had joined him, chiefly from Gilead. Besides these, he had with him numerous veterans, whose skill and experience would be invaluable in such service. The result was that when the rebels came to close quarters, they had a vast body of men, but David a disciplined force, which, under skilful generalship, scattered Absalom's raw levies with ease. The arrangement into thousands and hundreds was in accordance with the civil divisions (Exodus 18:25), both being, in fact, dictated by nature as multiples of our hands. 2 Samuel 18:1Preparation for war. - 2 Samuel 18:1-2. David mustered the people that were with him, and placed over them captains of thousands and hundreds, and divided them into three companies, under the generals Joab, Abishai, and Ittai the Gathite, who had given such decided proofs, according to 2 Samuel 15:21-22, of his fidelity to David. בּיד שׁלּח, to leave to the hand of a person, i.e., to his power, is used here in the sense of placing under his direction. The people opposed in the most decided manner the wish of the king to go with them to the war, saying (2 Samuel 18:3), "Thou shalt not go out: for if we flee, they will take no heed of us (i.e., attach no importance to this); and if half of us die, they will take no heed of us: for thou art as ten thousand of us (we must evidently read אתּה for עתּה, and עתּה has merely got into the text in consequence of ועתּה following): and now it is good that thou be ready to give us help from the city" (the Chethib לעזיר, inf. Hiphil for להעזיר, is not to be disputed). David was to stay behind in the city with a reserve, that he might be able to come to their relief in case of need.
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