And David took from him a thousand chariots, and seven hundred horsemen, and twenty thousand footmen: and David hamstrung all the chariot horses, but reserved of them for an hundred chariots.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)A thousand chariots.—The word chariots has evidently dropped out of the text here, but is rightly inserted, following the LXX. and 1 Chron.; 700 horsemen should also be changed to 7,000, in accordance with 1 Chron., this being a more fitting proportion to 20,000 infantry in the plains of Syria, and the difference being only in two dots over the letter marking the numeral in Hebrew.
Houghed, i.e., hamstrung, to render them incapable of use in war. (Comp. Joshua 11:6; Joshua 11:9.) This is meant to apply not only to the chariot horses, but to all those of the cavalry. Whether David’s reservation of the number needed for 100 chariots was wrong or not, is not said. David probably felt the need of these horses as a means of more rapid communication with the distant parts of his increasing empire; yet this act may have been the entering wedge for Solomon’s direct violation of Deuteronomy 17:16, by sending to Egypt to “multiply horses to himself.”2 Samuel 8:4. David took from him a thousand chariots — The word chariot is not in the Hebrew, but is well supplied by our translators from 1 Chronicles 18:4, in which book many things are explained which are briefly related here; seven hundred horsemen — Or rather, seven hundred companies of horsemen, that is, in all, seven thousand, as it is 1 Chronicles 18:4, there being ten in each company, and each ten having a ruler or captain. David houghed all the chariot-horses — That is, cut the sinews of their legs, or their hamstrings, that they might be of no use in war; but reserved of them for a hundred chariots — Probably, as a monument of his victory, not for war; God having forbid them to multiply horses, Deuteronomy 17:16.1 Chronicles 18:4.
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.Chariots; which word is fitly supplied out of 1 Chronicles 18:4, such substantives being oft understood in the Hebrew language, as Genesis 26:30 2 Samuel 21:16.
Seven hundred horsemen, or seven hundred companies of horsemen, i. e. in all seven thousand; as it is 1 Chronicles 18:4; there being ten on each company, and each ten having a ruler or captain, Exodus 18:21 Deu 1:15. Or these seven hundred were the chief and the rulers of the rest, and the remaining six thousand three hundred were the common horsemen, subject to their commanders.
Houghed, i.e. cut the sinews of their legs, that they might be useless for war. Compare Joshua 11:6.
All the chariot horses, except the following reserve. Chariots are here put for chariot horses, as they are 1 Samuel 13:5 2 Samuel 10:18 Psalm 76:6. David did this because he could not keep them for his own use, Deu 17:16. 1 Chronicles 18:4; where the word is expressly mentioned, and there the horsemen are said to be seven thousand as in the Septuagint version here, and in Josephus (m); which may be reconciled by observing, with Kimchi and Abarbinel, that here the chief officers are meant, there all the chariots and horsemen that were under their command are mentioned, which together made up that large number; or else here are meant the ranks and companies of horse David took, which were seven hundred; and these having ten in a company or rank, made seven thousand; and there the complement of soldiers in those companies and ranks are intended:
and twenty thousand footmen; the same as in 1 Chronicles 18:4; and so in Josephus (n):
and David houghed all the chariot horses; or hamstrung them, as Joshua was ordered to do with respect to the Canaanites, Joshua 11:6; he did not kill them, which might seem cruel and unmerciful to the brute creatures, but hamstrung them, that they might be useless for war; and the reason of it was, that horses might not be multiplied in Israel for that purpose, that so their trust and confidence might not be placed in them; see Deuteronomy 17:16,
but reserved of them for an hundred chariots; for his own use, not for war, but for grandeur; which accounts in some measure for the number of chariots and horses Solomon had, 1 Kings 4:26; the number of horses reserved is supposed to be four hundred, four horses being used in a chariot, which Jarchi gathers from 2 Chronicles 1:17.And David took from him a thousand chariots, and seven hundred horsemen, and twenty thousand footmen: and David houghed all the chariot horses, but reserved of them for an hundred chariots.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)4. a thousand chariots, and seven hundred horsemen] The Heb. text as it stands can only mean a thousand and seven hundred horsemen; but it seems best to follow the text of the LXX. and of 1 Chronicles 18:4 in reading a thousand chariots and seven thousand horsemen.
houghed] Or hamstrung; disabled by cutting the back sinews of their hind legs. Cp. Joshua 11:6; Joshua 11:9.
reserved] To grace his triumph.Verse 4. - David took from him a thousand chariots, and seven hundred horsemen, and twenty thousand footmen. The word "chariots" is inserted in the Authorized Version after "thousand," from the parallel place in 1 Chronicles 18:4, where also it is said that David captured seven thousand horsemen. The numbers of the Chronicler are more in proportion to one another than those mentioned here, provided we assume that the word "chariots" ought to be supplied, which, as it is not the only difference, is uncertain. Until the Arabs invented our present system of notation, the ancient methods of representing numbers were so liable to error that little dependence can be placed upon them. The Hebrews used their letters for numerals, but after 400 their system breaks down. Any number higher than 400 can be represented only by long sums in arithmetic, or by an intricate system of points above and below, which were sure to get into confusion. David houghed all the chariot horses. There is good reason for concluding that the word used here, recheb, is a collective, and signifies animals used either for riding or driving. What David reserved was not a hundred chariots, but a hundred riding horses, which would be useful to him for rapid communication, and could scarcely be regarded as a violation of the command in Deuteronomy 17:16. Both the Authorized and Revised Versions are wrong, but the Authorized Version at least makes the word recheb have the same meaning in both clauses, whereas the Revised Version makes it signify chariot horses in the first clause, and the chariots themselves in the second. The defeat by David, with infantry only, of an army provided with so powerful a force of cavalry and chariots, proves his great military skill, and their capture hears even more emphatic testimony to his generalship. In the Psalms we find horses often referred to as objects regarded with terror, and which gave a great advantage to their enemies (Psalm 20:7; Psalm 33:17; Psalm 76:6; Psalm 147:10), but over which they had triumphed by Jehovah's aid. This method, however, of rendering them useless, though practised by Joshua (Joshua 11:6), was most cruel; as the poor things, unable to move about with the sinews of their hind legs severed, would perish of hunger.
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