2 Samuel

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2 Samuel 8 – Skeptic's Annotated Bible answered

A response and reply to the notes on 2 Samuel 8 in the Skeptic's Annotated Bible (SAB).

King James Version

SAB comment

My comment

1 And after this it came to pass, that David smote the Philistines, and subdued them: and David took Metheg-ammah out of the hand of the Philistines.

2 And he smote Moab, and measured them with a line, casting them down to the ground; even with two lines measured he to put to death, and with one full line to keep alive. And so the Moabites became David’s servants, and brought gifts.

(8:2-4) David kills two thirds of the Moabites and makes the rest slaves. He also cripple the captured horses.

3 David smote also Hadadezer, the son of Rehob, king of Zobah, as he went to recover his border at the river Euphrates.

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.

David took 700 horsemen. Or was it 7000? How many horsemen did David take?
Here 700 horseman are mentioned, while in 1 Chr. 18:4 7,000 are mentionted. The most commonly given explanation is that horseman were divided by 10 in a company. So the captains and companies were 700, but the horseman were 7,000. This is similar to what we find in chapter 10:18.
Another commentator thinks it could well be the difference in one historian counting everyone who started as a horseman at the beginning of the battle as 7,000 as horseman at the end of the battle, while another historian only counted as horseman those who still had a horse left, i.e. 700.
There are other explanations with various levels of plausability as well. What is clear is that this is most certainly not a copyist error.

5 And when the Syrians of Damascus came to succour Hadadezer king of Zobah, David slew of the Syrians two and twenty thousand men.

(8:5-6, 14) "David slew of the Syrians two and twenty thousand men ... and the Lord preserved David withersoever he went."
The Syrians came to kill David, but David kills them instead. In war people get killed. The objective is to make sure it isn't you that gets killed.

6 Then David put garrisons in Syria of Damascus: and the Syrians became servants to David, and brought gifts. And the LORD preserved David whithersoever he went.

I'm unsure where the SAB author got the accusation of torture from.

7 And David took the shields of gold that were on the servants of Hadadezer, and brought them to Jerusalem.

8 And from Betah, and from Berothai, cities of Hadadezer, king David took exceeding much brass.

9 When Toi king of Hamath heard that David had smitten all the host of Hadadezer,

10 Then Toi sent Joram his son unto king David, to salute him, and to bless him, because he had fought against Hadadezer, and smitten him: for Hadadezer had wars with Toi. And Joram brought with him vessels of silver, and vessels of gold, and vessels of brass:

11 Which also king David did dedicate unto the LORD, with the silver and gold that he had dedicated of all nations which he subdued;

12 Of Syria, and of Moab, and of the children of Ammon, and of the Philistines, and of Amalek, and of the spoil of Hadadezer, son of Rehob, king of Zobah.

13 And David gat him a name when he returned from smiting of the Syrians in the valley of salt, being eighteen thousand men.

14 And he put garrisons in Edom; throughout all Edom put he garrisons, and all they of Edom became David’s servants. And the LORD preserved David whithersoever he went.

15 And David reigned over all Israel; and David executed judgment and justice unto all his people.

16 And Joab the son of Zeruiah was over the host; and Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was recorder;

17 And Zadok the son of Ahitub, and Ahimelech the son of Abiathar, were the priests; and Seraiah was the scribe;

It is of course forbidden that Abiathar named his son after his father. And that is the most likely explanation. The events described here took place some 25 years after Abiathar fled to David (1 Sam. 22:20). Priests 'retired' at the age of fifty, see Num. 8:24-26. So this Ahimelech is the son of Abiathar.

18 And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over both the Cherethites and the Pelethites; and David’s sons were chief rulers.