Useful Bible Studies > 2 Samuel Commentary > chapter 8

David defeats Zobah

2 Samuel 8:3-4

Some of Israel's enemies, for example Philistia and Moab (8:1-2) were on Israel's borders. Other enemies, for example, Zobah, were further away. Zobah was a nation with a powerful army some distance away from Israel's northern border. There is a longer account of a battle against Zobah's army in chapter 10. In the opinion of many Bible teachers, that is the same war that we read about in 2 Samuel 8:3-6.

Zobah's army was so powerful because they had chariots. Chariots were simple vehicles to carry soldiers, that horses pulled. At that time, they were the most modern equipment available for an army. They allowed the soldiers to attack places at a distance and then to escape quickly. In that way, they could enter the northern part of Israel to rob its people whenever they wanted. In that region, it was usual for one country to control another country in that manner (see 2 Kings 5:2 and 6:23).

God had promised that Israel would control the land even up to the Euphrates river (Deuteronomy 11:24-25). David believed that promise, although the Euphrates was far to the north of Israel. He claimed even the land of Zobah, therefore - and he was not afraid to fight against its powerful army.

Zobah's army suffered a serious defeat. David decided that he would not permit Zobah to have chariots still. Many Bible translations say that he therefore acted to make the horses unsuitable for use in war. They say that his soldiers ‘hamstrung’ most of the horses – in other words, he injured them in a way that made them unable to walk properly. Some Bible teachers argue that the soldiers castrated the male horses (removed the parts called testicles). That would make the horses more gentle, so that they would not be suitable for military use. However, in the original language (Hebrew), this verse does not actually mention the ‘horses’. Rather, it says that David destroyed all the ‘chariots’, except for 100 ‘chariots’.

Next part: David defeats Aram (2 Samuel 8:5-6)


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