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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.
2. he smote Moab, and measured them with a line--This refers to a well-known practice of Eastern kings, to command their prisoners of war, particularly those who, notorious for the atrocity of their crimes or distinguished by the indomitable spirit of their resistance, had greatly incensed the victors, to lie down on the ground. Then a certain portion of them, which was determined by lot, but most commonly by a measuring-line, were put to death. Our version makes him put two-thirds to death, and spare one-third. The Septuagint and Vulgate make one-half. This war usage was not, perhaps, usually practised by the people of God; but Jewish writers assert that the cause of this particular severity against this people was their having massacred David's parents and family, whom he had, during his exile, committed to the king of Moab.
2Sa 8:3-14. HE SMITES HADADEZER AND THE SYRIANS.
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,
9. Toi king of Hamath--Cœle-Syria; northwards, it extended to the city Hamath on the Orontes, which was the capital of the country. The Syrian prince, being delivered from the dread of a dangerous neighbor, sent his son with valuable presents to David to congratulate him on his victories, and solicit his alliance and protection.
10. Joram--or Hadoram (1Ch 18:10).
11. Which also king David did dedicate unto the Lord--Eastern princes have always been accustomed to hoard up vast quantities of gold. This is the first instance of a practice uniformly followed by David of reserving, after defraying expenses and bestowing suitable rewards upon his soldiers, the remainder of the spoil taken in war, to accumulate for the grand project of his life--the erection of a national temple at Jerusalem.
13. David gat him a name when he returned from smiting of the Syrians--Instead of Syrians, the Septuagint version reads "Edomites," which is the true reading, as is evident from 2Sa 8:14. This conquest, made by the army of David, was due to the skilful generalship and gallantry of Abishai and Joab. (1Ch 18:12; compare Ps 60:1, title.) The valley was the ravine of salt (the Ghor), adjoining the Salt Mountain, at the southwestern extremity of the Dead Sea, separating the ancient territories of Judah and Edom [ROBINSON].
2Sa 8:15-18. HIS REIGN.
15. David executed judgment and justice unto all his people--Though involved in foreign wars, he maintained an excellent system of government at home, the most eminent men of the age composing his cabinet of ministers.
17. Zadok . . . and Ahimelech . . . were the priests--On the massacre of the priests at Nob, [1Sa 22:19], Saul conferred the priesthood on Zadok, of the family of Eleazar (1Ch 6:50), while David acknowledged Ahimelech, of Ithamar's family, who fled to him. The two high priests exercised their office under the respective princes to whom they were attached. But, on David's obtaining the kingdom over all Israel, they both retained their dignity; Ahimelech officiating at Jerusalem, and Zadok at Gibeon (1Ch 16:39).
18. Cherethites--that is, Philistines