The Ammonites Shame David’s Men
1 Nahash was king of the Ammonites. When Nahash died, his son became the new king. 2 Then David said, “Nahash was kind to me, so I will be kind to Hanun, Nahash’s son.” So David sent messengers to comfort Hanun about the death of his father. David’s messengers went to the country of Ammon to comfort Hanun.
3 But the Ammonite leaders said to Hanun, “Don’t be fooled. David didn’t really send these men to comfort you or to honor your dead father! No, David sent his servants to spy on you and your land. He really wants to destroy your country!” 4 So Hanun arrested David’s servants and cut off their beards.* cut off their beards This was an insult to an Israelite man, who was forbidden to cut the corners of his beard. See Leviticus 19:27. Hanun also cut their clothes off at the hip and sent them away.
5 David’s men were too embarrassed to go home. Some people went to David and told him what happened to his men. So King David sent this message to his men: “Stay in the town of Jericho until your beards grow again. Then you can come back home.”
6 The Ammonites saw they had caused themselves to become hated enemies of David. Then Hanun and the Ammonites used 75,000 pounds† 75,000 pounds Literally, “1000 talents” (34,500 kg). of silver to buy chariots and chariot drivers from Mesopotamia.‡ Mesopotamia Literally, “Aram Naharaim.” They also got chariots and chariot drivers from the towns of Maacah and Zobah in Aram. 7 The Ammonites bought 32,000 chariots. They also paid the king of Maacah and his army to come and help them. The king of Maacah and his people came and set up a camp near the town of Medeba. The Ammonites themselves came out of their towns and got ready for battle.
8 David heard that the Ammonites were getting ready for war. So he sent Joab and the whole army of Israel to fight the Ammonites. 9 The Ammonites came out and got ready for battle. They were near the city gate. The kings who had come to help stayed out in the fields by themselves.
10 Joab saw that there were two army groups ready to fight against him. One group was in front of him and the other group was behind him. So Joab chose some of the best soldiers of Israel and sent them out to fight against the Aramean army. 11 He put the rest of the Israelite army under his brother Abishai’s command. These soldiers went out to fight against the Ammonite army. 12 Joab said to Abishai, “If the Arameans are too strong for me, you must help me. But if the Ammonites are too strong for you, I will help you. 13 Let’s be brave and strong while we fight for our people and for the cities of our God! May the LORD do what he thinks is right.”
14 Joab and the army with him attacked the Aramean army. The Arameans ran away from Joab and his army. 15 When the Ammonite army saw that the Aramean army was running away, they also ran away. They ran away from Abishai and his army. The Ammonites went back to their city, and Joab went back to Jerusalem.
16 The Aramean leaders saw that Israel had defeated them. So they sent messengers to get help from the Arameans living east of the Euphrates River. Shophach was the commander of Hadadezer’s army from Aram. Shophach also led the other Aramean soldiers.
17 David heard the news that the Arameans were gathering for battle, so he gathered all the Israelites. David led them across the Jordan River, and they came face to face with the Arameans. David got his army ready for battle and they attacked the Arameans. 18 The Arameans ran away from the Israelites. David and his army killed 7000 Aramean chariot drivers and 40,000 Aramean soldiers. David and his army also killed Shophach, the commander of the Aramean army.
19 When Hadadezer’s officers saw that Israel had defeated them, they made peace with David. They became his servants. So the Arameans refused to help the Ammonites again.
†19:6 75,000 pounds Literally, “1000 talents” (34,500 kg).
‡19:6 Mesopotamia Literally, “Aram Naharaim.”