2 Samuel 8:3
David smote also Hadadezer, the son of Rehob, king of Zobah, as he went to recover his border at the river Euphrates.
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(3) Hadadezer . . . king of Zobah.—This name is sometimes (1Chronicles 18:3; 1Chronicles 18:5; 1Chronicles 18:7, &c.) spelt “Hadarezer,” the letters d and r being much alike in Hebrew and easily confused; but the form given here is right, Hadad being the chief idol of the Syrians. Zobah (called in the title of Psalms 60 Aram-Zobah) was a kingdom, the position of which cannot be exactly determined, but lying north-east of Israel, and formerly governed by petty kings with whom Saul had wars (1Samuel 14:47). When or by what means it had become united under a single sovereign is unknown, but from 2Samuel 8:4 with 2Samuel 10:6; 2Samuel 10:16, it is plain that he was a monarch of considerable power, and controlled tribes beyond the Euphrates.

To recover his border.—Literally, to cause his hand to return, a phrase which in itself might mean either to renew his attack, or to re-establish his power. The latter is shown to be the sense here by the expression in 1Chronicles 18:3, “to establish his dominion,” and is so translated in the LXX. What happened is more fully explained in 2Samuel 10:13-19 : the Ammonites had obtained the help of the Syrians when their combined armies were defeated by David; Hadadezer then attempted to summon to his aid the tribes “beyond the river” (i.e., the Euphrates), but David cut short his plans by another crushing defeat, which reduced them all to subjection. Our Version inserts the word Euphrates on the authority of the margin of the Hebrew, several MSS., and all the ancient versions. The river, however, would in any case mean the Euphrates.

2 Samuel 8:3. King of Zobah — Zobah was a part of Syria, whose eastern border was Euphrates, as the western was the land of Canaan, and the kingdom of Damascus. As he went to recover his border — That is, as David went to extend the limits of his kingdom toward the river Euphrates, he smote this king, who probably came out to oppose him. David remembered the grant which God had made to his people of all the land, as far as that river; and, having subdued his neighbouring enemies, went to recover his rights, according to the divine promise and gift.

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.Hadadezer - Not (see the margin) Hadarezer. Hadadezer, is the true form, as seen in the names Benhadad, Hadad (1 Kings 15:18, etc.; 1 Kings 11:14, etc.). Hadad was the chief idol, or sun-god, of the Syrians.

To recover his border - literally, to cause his hand to return. The phrase is used sometimes literally, as e. g. Exodus 4:7; 1 Kings 13:4; Proverbs 19:24; and sometimes figuratively, as Isaiah 1:25; Isaiah 14:27; Amos 1:8; Psalm 74:11. The exact force of the metaphor must in each case be decided by the context. If, as is most probable, this verse relates to the circumstances more fully detailed in 2 Samuel 10:15-19, the meaning of the phrase here will be when he (Hadadezer) went to renew his attack (upon Israel), or to recruit his strength against Israel, at the river Euphrates.

2Sa 8:3-14. He Smites Hadadezer and the Syrians.

3. Zobah—(1Ch 18:3). This kingdom was bounded on the east by the Euphrates, and it extended westward from that river, perhaps as far north as Aleppo. It was long the chief among the petty kingdoms of Syria, and its king bore the hereditary title of "Hadadezer" or "Hadarezer" ("Hadad," that is, "helped").

as he went to recover his border at the river Euphrates—in accordance with the promises God made to Israel that He would give them all the country as far as the Euphrates (Ge 15:18; Nu 24:17). In the first campaign David signally defeated Hadadezer. Besides a great number of foot prisoners, he took from him an immense amount of booty in chariots and horses. Reserving only a small number of the latter, he hamstrung the rest. The horses were thus mutilated because they were forbidden to the Hebrews, both in war and agriculture. So it was of no use to keep them. Besides, their neighbors placed much dependence on cavalry, but having, for want of a native breed, to procure them by purchase, the greatest damage that could be done to such enemies was to render their horses unserviceable in war. (See also Ge 46:6; Jos 11:6, 9). A king of Damascene-Syria came to Hadadezer's succor; but David routed those auxiliary forces also, took possession of their country, put garrisons into their fortified towns, and made them tributary.

Hadadezer, called Hadarezer, 1 Chronicles 18:3, the Hebrew letters daleth and reseh being alike, and so oft interchanged.

Zobah; a part of Syria, lying north-east from Canaan, towards Hamath, 1 Chronicles 18:3. See 1 Samuel 14:47.

As he went.

Quest. Who?

Answ. Either, first, Hadarezer; who, being already very potent, and going to enlarge his dominion further, David thought fit to oppose him. Or, secondly, David, who remembering the grant which God had made to his people of all the land as far as Euphrates, and having subdued his neighbouring enemies, went to recover his rights, and stablish his dominion as far as Euphrates.

And David also smote Hadadezer the son of Rehob, king of Zobah,.... Called sometimes Aramzobah, and was a part of Syria, as its name shows. Benjamin, of Tudela (h) takes it to be the same with Haleb or Aleppo; Josephus (i) calls it Sophene; but that is placed by Ptolemy (k) beyond the Euphrates; whereas this country must be between that river and the land of Israel, and was contiguous to it, and near Damascus; and it was so near the land of Israel, and being conquered by David, that it became a controversy with the Jews, whether it was not to be reckoned part of it, and in several things they allow it to be equal to it (l). Rehob was the first king of this part of Syria, and then his son the second and last; he is called Hadarezer in 1 Chronicles 18:3; the letters "D" and "R", being frequently changed in the Hebrew tongue: him David fought with, and overcame:

as he went to recover his border at the river Euphrates; which some understand of Hadadezer, so Jarchi and Kimchi, who attempted to recover part of his dominions that had been taken by some one or another from him, which lay upon the river Euphrates; or he endeavoured to enlarge his dominions, and carry them as far as the river, and establish the borders of them; and while he was doing this, or attempting it, David fell upon him, and routed him; or rather this refers to David, who considering that the ancient border of the land of Israel, as given to Abraham, reached to the river Euphrates, Genesis 15:18; he set out on an expedition to recover this border, and whereas the country of this king lay in his way, he invaded that; upon which Hadadezer rose up against him, and was conquered by him, and by this means the border was recovered to the kingdom of Israel, and reached so far, as is plain it did in Solomon's time, 1 Kings 4:21.

(h) Itinerar. p. 59. (i) Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 7. c. 5. sect. 1.) (k) Geograph. l. 5. c. 13. (l) T. Bab. Gittin, fol. 8. 1. 2. Misn. Demai, c. 6. sect. 11. & Maimon. & Bartenora in ib.

David smote also Hadadezer, the son of Rehob, king of Zobah, as he went to recover his border at the river Euphrates.
3–8. Conquest of Zobah and Damascus

3. Hadadezer] This name is written Hadarezer in ch. 2 Samuel 10:16-19, and in Chronicles, the letters d (ד) and r (ר) being easily confused in Hebrew. Hadad was the name of the Syrian sun-god, and Hadadezer appears to be the true form, meaning “whose help is Hadad.”

Zobah] The exact position and limits of this kingdom are undetermined. It seems to have been north-east of Damascus and south of Hamath, between the Orontes and Euphrates. Saul waged wars with its “kings,” who were probably independent chieftains (1 Samuel 14:47), but now it was consolidated under one ruler, and was a country of considerable wealth and power.

to recover his border] The phrase cannot be thus rendered, but means probably either to renew his attack or to re-establish his power. The parallel passage in 1 Chronicles 18:3 has a different verb, meaning to set up his power. The subject of the sentence is Hadadezer, and the occasion referred to is probably that which is described more fully in ch. 2 Samuel 10:15-19. The Ammonites had hired the Syrians to help them against David, who defeated their combined forces. Hadadezer thereupon summoned the Syrians from beyond the Euphrates to his assistance, but was totally defeated.

at the river Euphrates] Euphrates is not in the written text, but according to the Jewish tradition is to be read (see Introd. p. 15). But the addition is unnecessary. “The River” by itself was understood to mean the Euphrates. Cp. ch. 2 Samuel 10:16; Psalm 72:8.

Verse 3. - Hadadezer. The name is spelt Hadarezer in 2 Samuel 10:16 and in 1 Chronicles 18:3, and such is the reading of the versions here and of many Hebrew manuscripts. The other reading has been defended on the ground that Hadad is the name of the Syrian sun-god, but the cuneiform inscriptions show that his real name was Hadar. The King of Syria, mentioned in 1 Kings 20:1, is called in Assyrian Ben-Hidri. Zobah. Ewald identifies Zobah with the "Sabo" mentioned by Ptolemy. This is uncertain, but evidently Zobah lay northeast of Damascus and south of Hamath, in the region between the rivers Orontes and Euphrates. In 1 Samuel 14:47 it appears as a powerless country governed by a multitude of petty kings; but evidently now Hadarezer had made himself supreme, and become a powerful monarch whose authority extended even across the river into Mesopotamia (2 Samuel 10:16). Having crushed his rivals at home, he had next endeavoured to extend his dominion abroad. As he went to recover his border at the river Euphrates. The word "Euphrates" is inserted in the Authorized Version, because the margin says, "Euphrates read but not written." In the Revised Version it is omitted, because the unauthoritative nature of these directions to read something not in the text has been demonstrated. Technically these readings are called K'ri, and the written text K'tib. In 1 Chronicles 18:3 the reading is, "as he went to stablish his dominion by the river" - a change which involves the alteration of only one letter, as the word rendered here "his border," and in 1 Chronicles 18:3 "his dominion," is the same, signifying literally, "his hand." For this reason the Revised Version renders it correctly in both places "his dominion." Now, David never had possessed up to this time any dominion upon the Euphrates, but in the fuller narrative in ch. 10. we learn that these Syrians of Zobah had sent powerful reinforcements to the Ammonites in their war with David; and he might reasonably, therefore, determine to follow up his victory over. them by extending his power up to the river, so as to guard the fords, and prevent all future invasions. And this Hadarezer would resent. As an able and enterprising man, he had succeeded in making Zobah a powerful realm, and was not likely to submit to having a bridle put upon his adventurous spirit by the posting of an Israelitish garrison on the borders. We learn from 2 Samuel 10:19 that David's object was to prevent aid coming to Ammon from Zobah, and that he succeeded in putting a barrier in Hadarezer's way. We can scarcely doubt, therefore, that the reading in the Chronicles is to be preferred. In 1 Samuel 14:47 we read that Saul had waged war with Zobah, and as David had probably served in it, he would have thereby acquired both a knowledge of the country, very useful in this present more serious expedition, and also have learned the necessity of guarding his dominions against perpetual invasions from that quarter. 2 Samuel 8:3Conquest and Subjugation of the King of Zobah, and of the Damascene Syrians. - 2 Samuel 8:3. The situation of Zobah cannot be determined. The view held by the Syrian church historians, and defended by Michaelis, viz., that Zobah was the ancient Nisibis in northern Mesopotamia, has no more foundation to rest upon than that of certain Jewish writers who suppose it to have been Aleppo, the present Haleb. Aleppo is too far north for Zobah, and Nisibis is quite out of the range of the towns and tribes in connection with which the name of Zobah occurs. In 1 Samuel 14:47, compared with 2 Samuel 8:12 of this chapter, Zobah, or Aram Zobah as it is called in 2 Samuel 10:6 and Psalm 60:2, is mentioned along with Ammon, Moab, and Edom, as a neighbouring tribe and kingdom to the Israelites; and, according to 2 Samuel 8:3, 2 Samuel 8:5, and 2 Samuel 8:9 of the present chapter, it is to be sought for in the vicinity of Damascus and Hamath towards the Euphrates. These data point to a situation to the north-east of Damascus and south of Hamath, between the Orontes and Euphrates, and in fact extending as far as the latter according to 2 Samuel 8:3, whilst, according to 2 Samuel 10:16, it even reached beyond it with its vassal-chiefs into Mesopotamia itself. Ewald (Gesch. iii. p. 195) has therefore combined Zobah, which was no doubt the capital, and gave its name to the kingdom, with the Sabe mentioned in Ptol. v. 19, - a town in the same latitude as Damascus, and farther east towards the Euphrates. The king of Zobah at the time referred to is called Hadadezer in the text (i.e., whose help is Hadad); but in 2 Samuel 10:16-19 and throughout the Chronicles he is called Hadarezer. The first is the original form; for Hadad, the name of the sun-god of the Syrians, is met with in several other instances in Syrian names (vid., Movers, Phnizier). David smote this king "as he was going to restore his strength at the river (Euphrates)." ידו השׁיב does not mean to turn his hand, but signifies to return his hand, to stretch it out again over or against any one, in all the passage in which the expression occurs. It is therefore to be taken in a derivative sense in the passage before us, and signifying to restore or re-establish his sway. The expression used in the Chronicles (2 Samuel 8:3), ידו הצּיב, has just the same meaning, since establishing or making fast presupposes a previous weakening or dissolution. Hence the subject of the sentence "as he went," etc., must be Hadadezer and not David; for David could not have extended his power to the Euphrates before the defeat of Hadadezer. The Masoretes have interpolated P'rath (Euphrates) after "the river," as in the text of the Chronicles. This is correct enough so far as the sense is concerned, but it is by no means necessary, as the nahar (the river κ. ἐξ.) is quite sufficient of itself to indicate the Euphrates.

There is also a war between David and Hadadezer and other kings of Syria mentioned in 2 Samuel 10; and the commentators all admit that that war, in which David defeated these kings when they came to the help of the Ammonites, is connected with the war mentioned in the present chapter. But the connection is generally supposed to be this, that the first of David's Aramaean wars is given in 2 Samuel 8, the second in 2 Samuel 10; for no other reason, however, than because 2 Samuel 10 stands after 2 Samuel 8. This view is decidedly an erroneous one. According to the chapter before us, the war mentioned there terminated in the complete subjugation of the Aramaean kings and kingdoms. Aram became subject to David, paying tribute (2 Samuel 8:6). Now, though the revolt of subjugated nations from their conquerors is by no means a rare thing in history, and therefore it is perfectly conceivable in itself that the Aramaeans should have fallen away from David when he was involved in the war with the Ammonites, and should have gone to the help of the Ammonites, such an assumption is precluded by the fact that there is nothing in 2 Samuel 10 about any falling away or revolt of the Aramaeans from David; but, on the contrary, these tribes appear to be still entirely independent of David, and to be hired by the Ammonites to fight against him. But what is absolutely decisive against this assumption, is the fact that the number of Aramaeans killed in the two wars is precisely the same (compare 2 Samuel 8:4 with 2 Samuel 10:18): so that it may safely be inferred, not only that the war mentioned in 2 Samuel 10, in which the Aramaeans who had come to the help of the Ammonites were smitten by David, was the very same as the Aramaean war mentioned in 2 Samuel 8, but of which the result only is given; but also that all the wars which David waged with the Aramaeans, like his war with Edom (2 Samuel 8:13.), arose out of the Ammonitish war (2 Samuel 10), and the fact that the Ammonites enlisted the help of the kings of Aram against David (2 Samuel 10:6). We also obtain from 2 Samuel 10 an explanation of the expression "as he went to restore his power (Eng. Ver. 'recover his border') at the river," since it is stated there that Hadadezer was defeated by Joab the first time, and that, after sustaining this defeat, he called the Aramaeans on the other side of the Euphrates to his assistance, that he might continue the war against Israel with renewed vigour (2 Samuel 10:13, 2 Samuel 10:15.). The power of Hadadezer had no doubt been crippled by his first defeat; and in order to restore it, he procured auxiliary troops from Mesopotamia with which to attack David, but he was defeated a second time, and obliged to submit to him (2 Samuel 10:17-18). In this second engagement "David took from him (i.e., captured) seventeen hundred horse-soldiers and twenty thousand foot" (2 Samuel 8:4, compare 2 Samuel 10:18). This decisive battle took place, according to 1 Chronicles 18:3, in the neighbourhood of Hamath, i.e., Epiphania on the Orontes (see at Numbers 13:21, and Genesis 10:18), or, according to 2 Samuel 10:18 of this book, at Helam, - a difference which may easily be reconciled by the simple assumption that the unknown Helam was somewhere near to Hamath. Instead of 1700 horse-soldiers, we find in the Chronicles (1 Chronicles 18:4) 1000 chariots and 7000 horsemen. Consequently the word receb has no doubt dropped out after אלף in the text before us, and the numeral denoting a thousand has been confounded with the one used to denote a hundred; for in the plains of Syria seven thousand horsemen would be a much juster proportion to twenty thousand foot than seventeen hundred. (For further remarks, see at 2 Samuel 10:18.) "And David lamed all the cavalry," i.e., he made the war-chariots and cavalry perfectly useless by laming the horses (see at Joshua 11:6, Joshua 11:9), - "and only left a hundred horses." The word receb in these clauses signifies the war-horses generally, - not merely the carriage-horses, but the riding-horses as well, - as the meaning cavalry is placed beyond all doubt by Isaiah 21:7, and it can hardly be imagined that David would have spared the riding-horses.

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