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We now pass on to the events narrated in chapter 8:1-14. As was stated, it is best to suppose that the wars and victories of which this section makes mention preceded the quiet at chapter 7:1, and David’s decision to build the Lord a house. Here the text states that David dwelt in his house and that the Lord had given him rest round about from all his enemies. We must now have regard to David’s victories over the heathen of which that rest was the crown.

The subjugation of the Philistines was first. David smote and subdued them; and he took the bridle of ammah out of their hands. The expression in italics is obscure. Doubtless it is a proper name—Mathegammah—of some city in the heart of the enemy territory perhaps Gath. For the Chronicler has for this, “And He took Gath and her towns out of the hand of the Philistines (I Chron. 28:1). So were the people of Israel finally delivered from an enemy that had afflicted them for centuries.

David’s next campaign was against Moab. The relations here at one time had been friendly as when David had entrusted his father and mother into the care of Moab’s king (I Sam. 22:3, 4). But Moab in some way had grossly offended as is indicated by the severity of the punishment inflicted upon the arms-bearing Moabites. “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 line to keep alive.” Usually in those days a defeated army was pursued by the victor and slain in the flight almost to the point of annihilation. But the army of Moab had been captured almost whole. The captives were ordered to lie down on the ground in rows and two-thirds were marked off for death and slain.

David’s next encounter was with Hadadezer (Hadarezer as in Chronicles). “David smote also Hadarezer, the son of Rehob, the king of Zobah, as he went to recover his border at the river Euphrates”. Zobah, the capital city of Syria, lay east of Israel’s transjordanic territory and beyond the northern border thereof. The dominion of its powerful king, Hadadezer, included a great part of the desert between Palestine and the Euphrates and consequently the southern part of Syria.

Smarting under the defeat that as Ammon’s ally he previously had suffered at the hand of Joab (10:13), Hadarezer brought out the Syrians that were beyond the Euphrates for a new war with Israel (10:16). Hearing of it, David, in the language of the text “turned his hand at the river Euphrates”. (So reads the Hebrew text and not as our English versions have it, “He went to recover his border at the river Euphrates’’. The subject of this Scripture-statement is David; it is not Hadadezer). David’s victory was complete. He took from the adversary “a thousand chariots and seventeen hundred horsemen and twenty thousand footmen”, perhaps the entire military force. A number of horses sufficient for 100 chariots were spared and the rest were lamed. What David did with the footmen and the horsemen is not stated. On his return David encountered an army of Syrians from Damascus coming to the aid of the vanquished Hadarezer. In the ensuing battle they suffered a severe defeat as is indicated by the fact that they lost 22,000 men. To hold all these peoples in subjection, David placed posts in their territory. They became his servants and paid tribute. “And the Lord preserved David withersoever he went”. When all the king’s tributary to Hadarezer saw that they were defeated by Israel, they sued for peace and served Israel (10:19).

The golden shields of Hadadezer’s servants (that is, of his guard) David sent to Jerusalem. “And from Betah and from Berothai, cities of Hadadezer, king David took exceeding much copper.” The Chronicler adds a word in respect to the use of the booty, “therefrom Solomon made the copper sea and the pillars and the copper vessels.”

“When Toi king of Hamath heard that David had smitten all the hosts of Hadadezer he sent Joram his son to king David. . . .” (8:9, 10). Chronicles has Hadorum instead of Joram. The latter is perhaps Hebraization of a foreign name. The mission was to salute David and to bless him—speak words of praise and appreciation—for his victory over Hadadezer; in the words of the text, “because he had fought against Hadadezer, and smitten him”. Toi was grateful. “For Hadadezer had wars with Toi”, wars of aggression that aimed at bringing Toi in his power. In Joram’s hand was a present consisting of vessels of silver, of gold, and of brass, indicative of the desire to enter into a relation of friendship with the victor. David dedicated the present to the Lord as he had done with the booty of the conquered nations, thereby confirming that his wars and victories were of the Lord. The spoils were from Aram (Syria), Moab, the children of Ammon, the Philistines, Amalek and Hadadezer. In Chronicles the list includes also Edom. These were the nations that had been subdued (8:12). Ammon’s name is also mentioned. The conflict with Ammon is told in chapter 10.

“And David made him a name when he returned from smiting the Syrians in the valley of salt, being eighteen thousand men”. He added to his stature as a warrior by another great military achievement. But the text here presents a difficulty. “The valley of salt” lies in the territory of Edom so that a battle with Syrians in this valley seems out of the question. The text here is manifestly corrupt. The parallel passage in Chron. 18:12 has Edom. “Moreover Abishai the son of Zeruiah slew of the Edomites in the valley of salt eighteen thousand”. The Hebrew words for Syria (arm) and Edom (edm) differ only by one letter. While David was far from home contending with the Syrians on the Euphrates, the Philistines saw their chance to gain possession of southern Canaan. On his return, David by his general, Abishai, inflicted on them terrible punishment. Garrisons were put throughout all their territory, and they became tributary to David.

Thus had David Overthrown all the nations that had been menacing Israel from the north to the south. On their ruins he founded a dominion equal to that of any of the great kings of the east. To these wars is affixed a description of David’s government over his own people, “And David reigned over all Israel; and David executed judgment and justice unto all his people” (8:15). “And Joab the son of Zeruiah was over the host”, had supreme command over the army. “And Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was recorder”, writer of chronicles. “And Zadok the son of Ahitub, and Ahimelech the son of Abiathar, were the priests.” Seraiah was the scribe”, that is, the secretary. “And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over both the Chereth- ites and the Pelethites. . . .” These two names designate David’s bodyguard. The origin of the names is unknown. In I Sam. 30:14 one of these words is the name of a tribe dwelling near Philistia. It seems to indicate that David had taken his bodyguard from foreign tribes. If so, the members of this guard were not heathen but foreigners who had been converted to the Lord and incorporated in the commonwealth of Israel. They were “strangers”. The law made provision for them. As circumcised, they were privileged to eat the passover. “And David’s sons were chief rulers”, that is, princes.

So had the Lord given David rest round about from all his enemies. He was now decided to build the Lord a house.

To appreciate David’s successes in war, regard must be had to the boundaries of the land that the people of Israel, in fulfillment of the promise, was made to inherit. The southern boundary was the wilderness of Zin. This southern line stretched by the side of Edom southward below the dead sea. The western border was the Mediterranean sea. The northern limit was a line drawn from the dead sea on the west to Mount Hor on the east. From that point the line descended from the mountains southwards to Riblah to the east of Ain, and going down still further struck the east side of the sea of Chinereth. Still further it ran down to Jordan and thence along that river to the Dead Sea, Numbers 34.

In a word, the land that the Lord gave to His people extended southward to the wilderness of Zin, was bordered on the west by the Mediterranean sea, reached to the western crest of the Lebanon on the north, while its eastern border rested on the north-eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee and then ran down to the Jordan. In this strip of land, approximately 160 miles in length and whose greatest width measured but 50 miles the Lord planted His people. (It did not include the territory occupied by the two and a half tribes east of the Jordan.) The land of Israel’s abode was thus comparatively but a small region.

But according to Genesis 15:18; Exodus 23:31; Deuteronomy 1:7; and Joshua 1:3, 4, it was an immense region that extended to the Euphrates on the east and to the river Nile on the West. It thus included the whole of Arabia. Let us quote: “In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abraham, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt (the Nile) to the great river (Euphrates)”, Gen. 15:18. And afterwards to Moses, “And I will set thy bounds from the Red Sea even to the Sea of the Philistines (Mediterranean) and from the Arabian desert unto the river (Euphrates)”, Ex. 23:31. And still later, “Every place whereupon the soles of your feet shall tread shall be yours: from the wilderness and Lebanon, from the river, the river Euphrates, even unto the uttermost sea (Mediterranean) shall your coast be”, Deut. 11:24. And finally to Joshua, “Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given you, as I said to Moses. From your wilderness to this Lebanon even to the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea (Mediterranean) toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast”, Joshua 1:3, 4.

The fact, then, is this. According to Numbers 34 Israel’s inheritance was small. According to other Scripture passages, it was a vast region. There is no difficulty here. The smaller region was Israel’s proper home as is proved by the fact that it was the only land divided among the twelve tribes by the lot of God. Its original inhabitants were Canaanite tribes, all of which were under the ban of God and thus marked for destruction. “And the Lord spake unto Moses in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel and say unto them: when ye pass over Jordan into the land of Canaan then ye shall drive out the inhabitants of the land before you”, Num. 30:50-56. And again at Deut. 7:2, “And when the Lord thy God shall deliver them—the Canaanites—before thee, thou shalt smite them and utterly destroy them”. The same command is repeated in Deut. 20:16, 17 in these words, “But of the cities of these peoples which the Lord thy God doth give thee for in inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth: but shall utterly destroy them—the Canaanites—as the Lord thy God commanded thee: that they teach you not to do after all their abominations, which they have done unto their gods; so shall ye sin against the Lord your god”.

How the nations that inhabited the vast regions beyond the borders of Israel’s proper home were to be dealt with is told us in Deut. 20:10-15, “When thou comest nigh unto a city (in that region beyond) to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it. And it shall be, if it make thee answer of peace, and open unto thee, then it shall be, that all the people that is found therein shall be tributaries unto thee, and they shall serve thee. And if they will make no peace with thee, but will make war against thee, then thou shalt besiege it: and when the Lord thy God shall deliver it unto thy hands, thou shalt smite every man thereof with the edge of the sword. But the women and the little ones and the cattle and all that is in the city, even all the spoil therein, shalt thou take unto thyself; and thou shalt eat the spoil of thine enemies, which the Lord thy God hath given thee. Thus shalt thou do unto all the cities of these nations “who dwelt in that vast region beyond.

Let us take notice. The Canaanites had to be destroyed. No peace might be proclaimed to them. Nor did they desire peace with Israel. (The one exception was the Gibeonites). Hearing of Joshua’s approach, they prepared for war and went forth to do battle with Israel’s army. Thus they asked for the doom by which they were overtaken. “For it was of the Lord to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that he might destroy them utterly, and that they might have no favor, but that he might destroy them, as the Lord commanded Moses,” Joshua 11:18.

But now Israel’s inheritance also included that vast region beyond and the nations that dwelt therein. The Lord had promised. These nations, therefore, were David’s for the asking. “Ask of me”, said the Lord in the first instance to David (and in the final instance to Christ. For David was a prophetic person), “and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession”, Ps. 2:8. Now a different treatment had to be afforded these nations. Not being under the ban of God as were the Canaanites, peace had to be proclaimed unto them. If they made answer of peace, they were spared and became tributary unto David.

Completing this article will have to be done in the next article.