1 Chronicles

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1 Chronicles 20 – Skeptic's Annotated Bible answered

A response and reply to the notes on 1 Chronicles 20 in the Skeptic's Annotated Bible (SAB).

King James Version

SAB comment

My comment

1 And it came to pass, that after the year was expired, at the time that kings go out to battle, Joab led forth the power of the army, and wasted the country of the children of Ammon, and came and besieged Rabbah. But David tarried at Jerusalem. And Joab smote Rabbah, and destroyed it.

David's army "wastes the children of Ammon ... besieged Rabbah ... and destroyed it.

2 And David took the crown of their king from off his head, and found it to weigh a talent of gold, and there were precious stones in it; and it was set upon David’s head: and he brought also exceeding much spoil out of the city.

David puts on a crown weighing 1 talent (34 kg).
(He had a very strong neck.)

3 And he brought out the people that were in it, and cut them with saws, and with harrows of iron, and with axes. Even so dealt David with all the cities of the children of Ammon. And David and all the people returned to Jerusalem.

David tortures all the inhabitants of several cities "with saws, and with harrows of iron, and with axes." This must have been an example of the "sure mercies of David" that are praised in Acts 13:34.
The chief reason why David attacked Rabbah was the shameful attack against his ambassadors, see 2 Sam. 10:4. And this was a cruel people themselves, see 1 Sam. 11:2 and Jg. 8:6.
But still. Evil cannot be confined. Who sins against one law of God, sins against all, James 2:10. David first committed adultery with Bathsheba, next he murdered her husband. Next he commits war crimes. The Bible displays it so clearly how from one sin a multitude of others follow.
For completeness sake I also mention an alternative translation where no charge of cruelty can be made against David:

and he obliged the people that were in it to go out, and put them to the saw," to cut stones; "and to the iron mines," to dig there; "and to the axes of iron," to cut wood, with; "after he had made them to pass with their king" out of the city.

4 And it came to pass after this, that there arose war at Gezer with the Philistines; at which time Sibbechai the Hushathite slew Sippai, that was of the children of the giant: and they were subdued.

5 And there was war again with the Philistines; and Elhanan the son of Jair slew Lahmi the brother of Goliath the Gittite, whose spear staff was like a weaver’s beam.

6 And yet again there was war at Gath, where was a man of great stature, whose fingers and toes were four and twenty, six on each hand, and six on each foot: and he also was the son of the giant.

7 But when he defied Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimea David’s brother slew him.

8 These were born unto the giant in Gath; and they fell by the hand of David, and by the hand of his servants.