2 Samuel 8:1
And after this it came to pass, that David smote the Philistines, and subdued them: and David took Methegammah out of the hand of the Philistines.
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(1) Subdued them.—In its connection this implies not merely the victory of a single battle, but the reversal of the former relation of the Philistines to Israel, and their reduction to a condition of inferiority and tribute.

Took Metheg-ammah.—No place of this name is known. The first word means bridle, and the other is probably, although not certainly, a derivation from the word mother, and has the sense metropolis. The translation will then be, took the bridle (i.e., the key) of the metropolis, and this seems sustained by the parallel phrase in 1Chronicles 18:1, “took Gath and her towns (lit daughters).” Gath appears to have been already the principal among the five Philistine cities (1Samuel 27:2), and with the rest of the country remained tributary to Solomon (1Kings 4:21; 1Kings 4:24).

2 Samuel 8:1. David smote the Philistines, and subdued them — In the beginning of his reign they had invaded Israel twice, and were successfully repulsed. But now David invaded their country, made a conquest of it, and brought it under subjection to the Israelites. David took Metheg-ammah — That is, Gath and her towns, as it is expressed in the parallel place, 1 Chronicles 18:1, which are called Metheg-ammah, or the bridle of Ammah, because Gath was situate in the mountain of Ammah; and because this being the chief city of the Philistines, and having a king, which none of the rest had, was the bridle which had hitherto kept the Israelites in subjection.

8:1-8. David subdued the Philistines. They had long been troublesome to Israel. And after the long and frequent struggles the saints have with the powers of darkness, like Israel with the Philistines, the Son of David shall tread them all under foot, and make the saints more than conquerors. He smote the Moabites, and made them tributaries to Israel. Two parts he destroyed, the third part he spared. The line that was to keep alive, though it was but one, is ordered to be a full line. Let the line of mercy be stretched to the utmost. He smote the Syrians. In all these wars David was protected, for this in his psalms he often gives glory to God.Metheg-ammah must be the name of some stronghold which commanded Gath, and the taking of which made David master of Gath and her towns. CHAPTER 8

2Sa 8:1, 2. David Subdues the Philistines, and Makes the Moabites Tributary.

1. David took Metheg-ammah out of the hand of the Philistines—that is, Gath and her suburban towns (1Ch 18:1). That town had been "a bridle" by which the Philistines kept the people of Judah in check. David used it now as a barrier to repress that restless enemy.David subdueth the Philistines and the Moabites; smiteth the king of Zobah, and the Syrians; placeth a garrison in Damascus, 2 Samuel 8:1-8. Toi sendeth Joram with presents to bless him; which with the spoil he dedicateth to God, 2 Samuel 8:9-13: smiteth the Edomites, and placeth a garrison in their land, 2Sa 14. David’s government and officers, 2 Samuel 8:15-18.

Metheg-ammah, i.e. Gath and her towns, as it is expressed in the parallel place, 1 Chronicles 18:1, which are called Metheg-ammah, or the bridle of Ammah, because Gath was situate in the mountain of Ammah; and because this being the chief city of the Philistines, and having a king, which none of the rest had, was the bridle which had hitherto kept the Israelites in subjection, but now was taken out of their mouths.

And after this it came to pass,.... After David had rest from his enemies for a time, and after the conversation he had had with Nathan about building the house of God, and after the message sent to him from the Lord by that prophet, forbidding him to build, and David's prayer to the Lord upon it, the following events happened; and which are recorded to show that David's rest from his enemies did not last long, and that he had other work to do than to build the house of God:

that David smote the Philistines, and subdued them; these had been long and implacable enemies of Israel; Samson began to weaken them in his days; a war was waged between them and Israel in the times of Samuel and Saul, and the battle sometimes went on one side and sometimes on the other; but now David made an entire conquest of them: before they had used to come into the land of Israel, and there fight with Israel, but now David entered into their land, and took it from them:

and David took Methegammah out of the hands of the Philistines; the name of a province in Palestine, and from the parallel place in 1 Chronicles 18:1, it appears to be Gath, and its adjacent towns; but why that was called the bridle of Ammah, or the bridle of a cubit, as it may be rendered, is not easy to say. The conjecture of Kimchi is, that there was a pool or river of water, so Ammah is thought to signify; and Aquila renders it a water course, which passed through the city, having been brought from without it into it, the communication of which from place to place it may be David cut off, by stopping or turning its stream; but interpreters more generally suppose that Gath was built upon an hill called Ammah, see 2 Samuel 2:24; thought to be the same with the Amgaris of Pliny (d) though that is sometimes read Angaris, a mountain he places in Palestine; and that it was called Metheg, a bridle, because being a frontier city, and being very strong and powerful, erected into a kingdom, it was a curb and bridle upon the Israelites; but now David taking it out of their hands, opened his way for the more easy subduing the rest of their country: or the word may be rendered Metheg and her mother, that is, Gath, the metropolis, since that and her daughters, or towns, are said to be taken, 1 Chronicles 18:1; and Metheg might be one of them.

(d) Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 13.

And after this it came to pass, that David smote the Philistines, and subdued them: and David took Methegammah out of the {a} hand of the Philistines.

(a) So that they paid no more tribute.

Chap. 8. The Development of David’s Kingdom

 = 1 Chronicles 18

1, 2. Conquest of the Philistines and Moabites

1. And after this it came to pass] This chapter contains a summary account of the wars by which David established the supremacy of Israel among the surrounding nations. At what periods of his reign they were waged is not stated. As has been already implied in the note on ch. 2 Samuel 7:1, it seems best to consider the words “and after this it came to pass” as a general formula of transition and connexion, not necessarily indicating a strict chronological sequence. It may possibly be derived from the annals which were the original source of the history. Cp. ch. 2 Samuel 10:1, 2 Samuel 13:1.

took Metheg-ammah, &c.] The most probable explanation of this obscure expression is took the bridle of the metropolis out of the hand of the Philistines, i.e. wrested from them the control of their chief city. This is equivalent to the statement in 1 Chronicles 18:1 that “David took Gath and her towns out of the hand of the Philistines;” and it may be noticed that the metaphor of the ‘mother-city’ is employed there, for the word translated “towns” literally means daughters. Gath was allowed to retain its king as a tributary (1 Kings 2:39). On its site and history see note on 1 Samuel 5:8.

Verse 1. - David smote the Philistines. In the previous chapter we have seen that the empire of David not only marked an era in the development of Israel nationally, but was also the reaching of a new stage in the preparation for the advent of the Messiah; and we saw that without this the development of prophecy would have been impossible, and the people have remained unfit for the high mission to which they were called as the witnesses to the unity of Cod. We have in this chapter a brief summary of the wars which raised Israel from the position of a struggling and oppressed race to the possession of widespread empire. With this narrative the first history of David ends, and in the subsequent narratives many of the events referred to here are more fully detailed, and given with additional incidents. David took Metheg-ammah out of the hand of the Philistines. Metheg-ammah means "the bridle of the mother city." We learn from the parallel place (1 Chronicles 18:1) that the city of Gath is meant by this phrase. Gath was at this time the metropolis of Philistia, and had reduced the other four chief towns to a state of vassalage. Thus by taking Gath, his old city of refuge (1 Samuel 27:2), David acquired also the supremacy which she had previously exercised over the whole country, and by placing a strong garrison there, as previously the Philistines had done in the towns of Israel, he kept that martial race in awe. It denotes great progress in the arts of war that David could besiege and capture a town so strong as Gath. 2 Samuel 8:1Subjugation of the Philistines. - In the introductory formula, "And it came to pass afterwards," the expression "afterwards" cannot refer specially to the contents of 2 Samuel 7, for reasons also given, but simply serves as a general formula of transition to attach what follows to the account just completed, as a thing that happened afterwards. This is incontestably evident from a comparison of 2 Samuel 10:1, where the war with the Ammonites and Syrians, the termination and result of which are given in the present chapter, is attached to what precedes by the same formula, "It came to pass afterwards" (cf. 2 Samuel 13:1). "David smote the Philistines and subdued them, and took the bridle of the mother out of the hand of the Philistines," i.e., wrested the government from them and made them tributary. The figurative expression Metheg-ammah, "bridle of the mother," i.e., the capital, has been explained by Alb. Schultens (on Job 30:11) from an Arabic idiom, in which giving up one's bridle to another is equivalent to submitting to him. Gesenius also gives several proofs of this (Thes. p. 113). Others, for example Ewald, render it arm-bridle; but there is not a single passage to support the rendering "arm" for ammah. The word is a feminine form of אם, mother, and only used in a tropical sense. "Mother" is a term applied to the chief city or capital, both in Arabic and Phoenician (vid., Ges. Thes. p. 112). The same figure is also adopted in Hebrew, where the towns dependent upon the capital are called its daughters (vid., Joshua 15:45, Joshua 15:47). In 1 Chronicles 18:1 the figurative expression is dropped for the more literal one: "David took Gath and its daughters out of the hand of the Philistines," i.e., he wrested Gath and the other towns from the Philistines. The Philistines had really five cities, every one with a prince of its own (Joshua 13:3). This was the case even in the time of Samuel (1 Samuel 6:16-17). But in the closing years of Samuel, Gath had a king who stood at the head of all the princes of the Philistines (1 Samuel 29:2., cf. 1 Samuel 27:2). Thus Gath became the capital of the land of the Philistines, which held the bridle (or reins) of Philistia in its own hand. The author of the Chronicles has therefore given the correct explanation of the figure. The one suggested by Ewald, Bertheau, and others, cannot be correct, - namely, that David wrested from the Philistines the power which they had hitherto exercised over the Israelites. The simple meaning of the passage is, that David wrested from the Philistines the power which the capital had possessed over the towns dependent upon it, i.e., over the whole of the land of Philistia; in other words, he brought the capital (Gath) and the other towns of Philistia into his own power. The reference afterwards made to a king of Gath in the time of Solomon in 1 Kings 2:39 is by no means at variance with this; for the king alluded to was one of the tributary sovereigns, as we may infer from the fact that Solomon ruled over all the kings on this side of the Euphrates as far as to Gaza (1 Kings 5:1, 1 Kings 5:4).
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