Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Tim. 2:15

King James AV1611


Second Samuel

Second Samuel was taught by Dr. James Modlish


Chapter Ten








See companion passage in (1 Chron. 19:1-19).

The Ammonites were descendants of Lot. Ammon was the son of Lot's incestual relationship with his youngest daughter (Gen. 19:38). Actually the name given him was "Ben-Ammi" meaning "son of my people" or "children of my people" i.e., relatives. Hence, we find that the Israelites are commanded to avoid conflict with them on their march to the Promised Land (Deut. 2:19). Their dwelling place was on the Jordan, between the Arnon and the Jabbok, but, before the advance of the Hebrews, they had been dispossessed of a portion of their land by the Amorites, who founded, along the east side of the Jordan and the Dead Sea, the kingdom of Sihon (Num. 21:21-31).

In the days of Jephthah they oppressed the Israelites east of the Jordan, claiming that the latter had deprived them of their territory when they came from Egypt, whereas it was the possessions of the Amorites they took (Judg. 11:1-28). They were defeated but their hostility did not cease, and their conduct toward the Israelites was particularly shameful as in the days of Saul (1 Sam. 11) and of course our text. This may account for the cruel treatment afforded them in the war that followed in (2 Sam. 12:26-31). They seem to have been completely subdued by David and their capital was taken, and we find a bitter spirit manifested afterward, for Nahash of Rabbah showed kindness to him when a fugitive (2 Sam. 17: 27-29).

Hanun is the son of Nahash, although no more information is recorded in the word of God concerning him (with the exception of (1 Chron. 19). We have met his father Nahash in an earlier study, (1 Sam. 11). We noted in that study that Nahash is the Hebrew word for "serpent" and the word used to describe the devil in Genesis 3. Nahash encamped against the men of Jabesh-gilead where he threatened them, "On this condition will I make a covenant with you, that I may thrust out all your right eyes, and lay it for a reproach upon all Israel" (1 Sam. 11:2). As you will recall Saul was summoned by the Jabesh-gileadites to whom he responded to scatter Nahash and his troops.

The kindness of Nahash to David is not recorded as to its particulars. We might speculate that during David's escape from Saul in (1 Sam. 22:3), he passed through the land of Ammon where Nahash afforded David safe passage, assuming David was an enemy of Saul. After the events of (1 Sam. 11) any enemy of Saul was a friend of his.

Unfortunately, David's good intentions and pure motives are questioned and misunderstood. The young King Hanun listens to his advisors who accuse David of sending messengers to spy out the land (vs. 3). This is exactly what Joseph accused his brothers of in (Gen. 42:9). We might make the observation that true friendships do not find a common bond in hatred or spite for another person. See Pilate and Herod in (Lk. 23:12).

First Chron. (19) tells us that Hanun had the messengers shaved, but (2 Sam. 10) is more specific, "shaved off the one half of their beards" (vs. 4). The purpose was to humiliate and embarrass the messengers. Shaving was a sign of voluntary humility (Job 1:20; Gen. 41:14; Jer. 41:5; Isa. 15:2). The Jews were instructed in the law not even to round the corners of their beards, (Lev. 19:27; 21:5).

It appears that their clothing is cut to waist level from the ground up. The practice is very common in prisoner of war and concentration camps to distinguish the prisoners from the guards. The results ... effective - "the men were greatly ashamed." (vs. 5).



The children of Ammon saw that they "stank. The colloquialism is common in the U.S.A. in the 1980's; see (Gen. 34:30).

Hanun might have experienced a severe case of "buyer's remorse" after the shaving stripping incident. The actions were aimed at David personally. David had ways of dealing with such people. Hanun hires himself some Syrian mercenary soldiers, a group of soldiers that Joab obviously had a great deal of respect for, (vss. 9,10,11).

Joab along with his brother Abishai (1 Sam. 26:6) lead the Israelite armies into battle. Joab plans his strategy. The Israelites find themselves surrounded, "before and behind." Joab chooses the "mighty men" to oppose the Syrians, obviously and historically a ruthless fighting force, and sends brother Abishai to oppose the Ammonites. No provisions for failure, defeat or retreat are discussed; note that a third alternative is missing in (vs. 11), what if both armies are too strong???

Joab commissions the troops, "Be of good courage" (Josh. 1:6-9), "and let us play the men." Joab simply says, "let's be men, do our best and leave the consequences to God'" Joab does not pray for victory! He simply decides to do his best and let God's will be done (1 Sam. 3:18).

The Israelites present themselves as an awesome foe, the Syrians "take to the hills." A mercenary soldier can never be dedicated to a cause like a true patriot can. Nary a shot is fired and the enemy is running for cover. "Resist the devil and he will flee from you." (Jas. 4:7).



The Syrians are humiliated before their enemy. They regroup in (vs. 15) and decide that they are not going to give up so easily. David personally involves himself in the campaign and chases the Syrians into their own backyard. The casualties of the battle are significant, the Syrians suffer 40,000 plus K.I.A.'s. David lets the nations surrounding him know exactly where he stands, "mess with us and you'll pay the price." "So the Syrians feared to help the children of Ammon any more."

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