Useful Bible Studies > 2 Samuel Commentary > chapter 8

David defeats Edom

2 Samuel 8:13-14

Edom was on the south-east side of Israel. Its people came from the family of Esau, who was Jacob's older brother. They were therefore relatives of Israel's people, who came from Jacob's family. Edom's people became a strong nation, with their own kings, many centuries before David ruled Israel (Genesis 36:31-43). However, God had declared by Isaac, the father of Esau and Jacob, that Jacob's family would rule over Esau's family (Genesis 27:29 and 27:38-40). That happened when David's men led Israel in an important and famous battle against Edom.

That battle happened in a place called the Valley of Salt (1 Chronicles 18:12). Edom's border with southern Israel was by the Dead Sea, which is the most salty sea in the world. Thick salt covers much of the land near that sea. It was in this strange place that the two armies fought. Abishai, the brother of Joab, was the commander of Israel's army in the battle. (Some Bible translations refer to a battle against Syria or Aram in 2 Samuel 8:13. However, 1 Chronicles 18:12 is clear. The reference to Syria or Aram may be the result of an error in an ancient copy of 2 Samuel.)

David controlled Edom after the battle in the same way that he dealt with Aram (8:6). He established strong camps or castles in all the important places in Edom. Israel's army occupied those camps, which they would have used to demand taxes from Edom's people. Edom continued to exist as a nation, but its people hated Israel's people (Psalm 137:7). Many centuries after King David's rule, the Book of Obadiah describes God's final judgement against Edom.

Next part: The officials in David's government (2 Samuel 8:15-18)


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