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1 Chronicles 19


(LXX versing)
David's Messengers Abused The Ammonites and Syrians Defeated David Defeats the Ammonites and Their Aramean (Syrian) Allies David Defeats The Ammonites and the Syrians David's Ambassadors Are Insulted
19:1-5 19:1-5 19:1-5 19:1-2a 19:1-5
19:4-5 The First Ammonite Campaign
19:6-9 19:6-9 19:6-9 19:6-7 19:6-15
Ammon and Aram Defeated 19:8-9
19:10-15 19:10-15 19:10-15 19:10-13
19:14-15 Victory Over the Arameans
19:16-19 19:16-19 19:16-19 19:16-19 19:16-19

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Bible Interpretation Seminar")


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

  1. First paragraph
  2. Second paragraph
  3. Etc.


1Now it came about after this, that Nahash the king of the sons of Ammon died, and his son became king in his place. 2Then David said, "I will show kindness to Hanun the son of Nahash, because his father showed kindness to me." So David sent messengers to console him concerning his father. And David's servants came into the land of the sons of Ammon to Hanun to console him. 3But the princes of the sons of Ammon said to Hanun, "Do you think that David is honoring your father, in that he has sent comforters to you? Have not his servants come to you to search and to overthrow and to spy out the land?" 4So Hanun took David's servants and shaved them and cut off their garments in the middle as far as their hips, and sent them away. 5Then certain persons went and told David about the men. And he sent to meet them, for the men were greatly humiliated. And the king said, "Stay at Jericho until your beards grow, and then return."

19:1 This chapter continues the military conquests of David (cf. 2 Samuel 10). They are meant to theologically reenforce YHWH's promised blessing (cf. 1 Chr. 17:10; 18:6,13).

It is possible that 1 Chronicles 18-20 are out of chronological order (see Martin J. Selman, Tyndale OT Commentary, pp. 99-100) and this chapter is a more detailed account of the defeat of Ammon, briefly mentioned in 1 Chr. 18:11 (see Leslie Allen, Mastering the OT, p. 134).

▣ "Nahash" He, or more probably, his father by the same name, was a combatant against King Saul in 1 Sam. 11:1-2. The conflict was over territory on the eastern side of Jordan (cf. Jdgs. 11:4-33).

19:2-3 What an unnecessary war! David's true motives were impugned by paranoid counselors, or princes (lit., "sons of. . .," cf. 1 Chr. 18:17, used of David's sons) of Hanun.

Because of 2 Sam. 17:25,27, it is possible that David was related to Nahash. This may explain why David wanted to be friendly with him (cf. 1 Chr. 19:2).

19:2 "kindness" The word (BDB 338) appears twice in this verse and apparently refers to a covenant between Ammon and David.


19:3 Notice the three accusations of the princes.

  1. to search ‒ BDB 350, KB 347
  2. to overthrow ‒ BDB 245, KB 253
  3. to spy out the land ‒ BDB 920, KB 1183


The second one, "overthrow," הפן, is emended by some scholars to חמר, meaning "to search out" or "explore" (BDB 343, KB 340 I).

19:4 This shaving would be a significant cultural shaming, as was the cutting off of their garments at the buttocks. It was designed to cause a reaction from David (cf. 1 Chr. 19:6).

The 2 Samuel 10 parallel says they also shaved half of the beards (cf. 2 Sam. 10:4), which is an eyewitness detail.

▣ "garments" The word (BDB 551) occurs only here and in the 2 Sam. 10:4 parallel. It is translated "cloak" or "long robe," but mostly "garment," but this is only a guess from the context. It may refer to body hair from the beard to the genitals. This shaving and cutting may have been a symbol of mock castration (i.e., political impotence).

6When the sons of Ammon saw that they had made themselves odious to David, Hanun and the sons of Ammon sent 1,000 talents of silver to hire for themselves chariots and horsemen from Mesopotamia, from Aram-maacah and from Zobah. 7So they hired for themselves 32,000 chariots, and the king of Maacah and his people, who came and camped before Medeba. And the sons of Ammon gathered together from their cities and came to battle. 8When David heard of it, he sent Joab and all the army, the mighty men. 9The sons of Ammon came out and drew up in battle array at the entrance of the city, and the kings who had come were by themselves in the field.

19:6-7 The mercenary army hired by Ammon was made up of Mesopotamian military

  1. from Aram-Maacah
  2. from Zobah

    The parallel in 2 Sam. 10:6 adds

  3. soldiers from Beth-rehob
  4. soldiers from Tob

19:6 "odious" The VERB (BDB 92, KB 107, Hithpael PERFECT) is used in this same sense of disgust/distrust in Gen. 34:30 and 1 Sam. 27:12.

The Niphal stem occurs in the 2 Sam. 10:6 parallel, also note 1 Sam. 13:4; 2 Sam. 16:21.

▣ "talents" The term is literally ףסך (BDB 494) and is used of a weight of silver (cf. 1 Chr. 18:11; 22:14).


19:7 "before Medeba" This location is unknown in Ammon but a city/plain by this name is in Moab (cf. Num. 21:30; Jos. 13:9,16; Isa. 15:2). So the options are

  1. a city in Moab
  2. an unknown city in Ammon
  3. emendation suggested by the Jerome Commentary (p. 410), "waters of Rabbath" (cf. 2 Sam. 12:27), which was another way of referring to Rabbath, the ancient capital of Ammon

19:9 "the city" This refers to the capital of Ammon, Rabbah, whose defeat is recorded in chapter 20.

10Now when Joab saw that the battle was set against him in front and in the rear, he selected from all the choice men of Israel and they arrayed themselves against the Arameans. 11But the remainder of the people he placed in the hand of Abshai his brother; and they arrayed themselves against the sons of Ammon. 12He said, "If the Arameans are too strong for me, then you shall help me; but if the sons of Ammon are too strong for you, then I will help you. 13Be strong, and let us show ourselves courageous for the sake of our people and for the cities of our God; and may the Lord do what is good in His sight." 14So Joab and the people who were with him drew near to the battle against the Arameans, and they fled before him. 15When the sons of Ammon saw that the Arameans fled, they also fled before Abshai his brother and entered the city. Then Joab came to Jerusalem.

19:10 This verse reveals

  1. the military strategy of Joab
  2. the patriotic sense of Joab
  3. Judah's faith in Israel's God (i.e., God is in control, cf. 1 Sam. 3:18; 2 Chr. 19:11; 32:7-8)

19:13 "Be strong and let us show ourselves courageous"

  1. "be strong" ‒ BDB 304, KB 302, Qal IMPERATIVE, SINGULAR, cf. Deut. 31:6-7,23; Jos. 1:6,7,9; 10:25; 2 Sam. 10:12
  2. "let us show ourselves courageous" ‒ BDB 304, KB 302, Hithpael IMPERFECT , PLURAL used in a COHORTATIVE sense

The implication of the author of Chronicles is that as Joab trusted YHWH, so too, should the Israelites/Judeans of the post-exilic period!

19:14-15 "they fled. . .they fled. . ." This immediate victory seems to reflect the "Holy War" concept of YHWH fighting on behalf of Israel (cf. Exod. 14:14; 15:3; Deut. 1:30; 3:22; 20:4), and giving them the victory!

16When the Arameans saw that they had been defeated by Israel, they sent messengers and brought out the Arameans who were beyond the River, with Shophach the commander of the army of Hadadezer leading them. 17When it was told David, he gathered all Israel together and crossed the Jordan, and came upon them and drew up in formation against them. And when David drew up in battle array against the Arameans, they fought against him. 18The Arameans fled before Israel, and David killed of the Arameans 7,000 charioteers and 40,000 foot soldiers, and put to death Shophach the commander of the army. 19So when the servants of Hadadezer saw that they were defeated by Israel, they made peace with David and served him. Thus the Arameans were not willing to help the sons of Ammon anymore.

19:16-19 This records a second battle against Syria/Aramean troops on the eastern side of Jordan. This time Israel faced the full army of Hadadezer, who was king of Zobah (cf. 1 Chr. 18:5).

19:17 "and came upon them" In the parallel of 2 Sam. 10:17 there is an unknown city named "Helam," which is in the trans-Jordan area. This city is not mentioned in 1 Chronicles 19 but there is a series of Hebrew letters that are close.

  1. Helen (חילם) in 2 Sam. 10:17 is חלאמם
  2. "and came upon them" in 1 Chr. 19:17 is אלהם

No ancient version or modern English translation uses this supposed emendation. We just do not know why the Chronicler changed his Samuel sources. It is possible he had different Hebrew source documents.

19:18-19 The Jewish Study Bible (p. 1750) makes the comment that the Chronicler expands the numbers in 2 Samuel 10 to glorify David's victory. The NASB Study Bible (p. 577) says it was a copyist's mistake in Samuel. This shows the two ways of viewing these number differences (i.e., literary or scribal error). See Hard Sayings of the Bible, pp. 51-54, 239-240, which supports the numbers in Chronicles. The best book on the number differences involved in the OT historical books is Edwin R. Thiele, The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings.


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

  1. How many kings are named Nahash?
  2. What does hesed ("kindness," twice in 1 Chr. 19:2) mean?
  3. What exactly was done to David's ambassadors? What did it mean?
  4. Why is 1 Chr. 19:13 so theologically significant?
  5. Why are the numbers in 2 Samuel 10 different from the numbers in 1 Chronicles 19?

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