2 Samuel 18:2
And David sent forth a third part of the people under the hand of Joab, and a third part under the hand of Abishai the son of Zeruiah, Joab's brother, and a third part under the hand of Ittai the Gittite. And the king said unto the people, I will surely go forth with you myself also.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(2) Ittai the Gittite.—Comp. note on Judges 15:19. The arrangement of the army in three divisions was common both among the Israelites (Judges 7:16; Judg. 11:43; 1Samuel 11:11) and their enemies (1Samuel 13:17). Comp. also 2Kings 11:5-6; David proposed to take the chief command in person.

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.A third part - This seems to have been a favorite division with the Hebrew commanders (see Judges 7:16; Judges 9:43; 1 Samuel 11:11; 2 Kings 11:5-6) and with the Philistines also 1 Samuel 13:17. 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.

Under the hand of Joab, to wit, for his especial conduct and management in the battle: otherwise Joab was the general of all the forces; nor had David yet taken away that power from him, nor was this a time to do it. But such distributions of forces are usual in battles.

I will surely go forth with you myself also, that by my presence I may put life and courage into my soldiers; and because it is fit I should run the same hazards with you, which you do for my sake.

And David sent forth a third part of the people under the hand of Joab,.... Very likely that which made the centre of the army, since Joab was the general of the army; though this distribution was made when David thought to have headed the army himself, and so made with respect to that:

and a third part under the hand of Abishai the son of Zeruiah, Joab's brother; who was next to Joab in the army, and fought with him against the Syrians and Ammonites, 2 Samuel 10:10,

and a third part under the hand of Ittai the Gittite; of whom see 2 Samuel 15:19; of these two parts consisted the right and left wings of the army:

and the king said unto the people; the soldiers, and particularly the officers:

I will surely go forth with you myself also; in which he seemed very resolute and peremptory; and this he proposed to do, not merely to animate the soldiers with his presence, and to show that he was willing to hazard his life with them, but chiefly for the sake of Absalom, to preserve his life, if possible.

And David sent forth a third part of the people under the hand of Joab, and a third part under the hand of Abishai the son of Zeruiah, Joab's brother, and a third part under the hand of Ittai the Gittite. And the king said unto the people, I will surely go forth with you myself also.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2. sent forth … under the hand of Joab] Better, put … into the hand of Joab, i.e. under his command. The army does not take the field until 2 Samuel 18:6. The division of an army into three bodies seems to have been a common practice. See Jdg 7:16; Jdg 9:43; 1 Samuel 11:11. David intended to take the chief command in person.

Verse 2. - A third part. Armies are usually divided into three divisions: a centre and two wings when drawn up for battle; a van, the main body. and a rearguard when on the march. But the Israelites had no settled rule upon the point, and. when occasion required, Joab divided his army into two parts (2 Samuel 10:9, 10). The reason of the threefold division in this case was that Ittai had brought his clan, or taf, with him, and as these would certainly not have fought under an Israelite leader, nor the Israelites under Ittai, David placed all foreigners under his command, while he gave his own nephews the command of the native troops. He thus avoided all jealousies; and Ittai's men, honoured by being made a distinct portion of the army, would feel their reputation at stake, and would rival the Israelites in valour. 2 Samuel 18:2Preparation 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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