2 Samuel 8:4
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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(4) 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.

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.Seven hundred horsemen - It should be seven thousand, as in 1 Chronicles 18:4. 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.

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.

And David took from him a thousand chariots, and seven hundred horsemen,.... "Chariots" are not in the text here, it is only 1700 "horsemen"; but it is supplied from 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.

(m) Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 7. c. 5. sect. 1.) (n) Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 7. c. 5. sect. 1.)

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. 2 Samuel 8:4Conquest 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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