2 Samuel 8 – “David’s Military Might”

Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
David is victorious over the Philistines, Moabites, Arameans, Edomites, and the king of Zobah. David acquires great wealth and rules his kingdom righteously. His cabinet members are enumerated.

II. Photo
David acquires great wealth: “From Betah and Berothai, towns of Hadadezer, King David took a vast amount of copper.” (v. 8 )

III. Important Verses
2: He also defeated the Moabites. He made them lie down on the ground and he measured them off with a cord; he measured out two lengths of cord for those who were to be put to death, and one length for those to be spared. And the Moabites became tributary vassals of David.
3: David defeated Hadadezer son of Rehob, king of Zobah, who was then on his way to restore his monument at the Euphrates River.
9-12: When King Toi of Hamath heard that David had defeated the entire army of Hadadezer, Toi sent his son Joram to King David to greet him and to congratulate him on his military victory over Hadadezer — for Hadadezer had been at war with Toi. [Joram] brought with him objects of silver, gold, and copper. King David dedicated these to the LORD, along with the other silver and gold that he dedicated, [taken] from all the nations he had conquered: from Edom, Moab, and Ammon; from the Philistines and the Amalekites, and from the plunder of Hadadezer son of Rehob, king of Zobah.

IV. Outline
1. David defeats the Philistines
2. David defeats the Moabites
3-8. David defeats Zobah and Aram
9-10. The king of Hamath pays tribute to David
11-12. David donates his wealth to God
13-14. David defeats Edom
15. David’s justice
16-18. David’s cabinet

V. Comment
Chapter 8 describes David’s victories over foreign nations. He is said to conquer the Philistines to his west, the Moabites and Edomites to his southeast, and the Arameans to his north. Yet, scholars such as Collins are skeptical about the historicity of this chapter. Collins writes: “Chapters 8 and 10 describe the wars of David, in which he allegedly subjugated all the surrounding peoples – Philistia, Moab, Ammon, Edom, but also the Arameans as far as Damascus and the Euphrates. Modern scholarship is skeptical of these claims. Not only are they not supported by extrabiblical evidence, but the Bible itself does not claim that these peoples were under Israelite control in later generations. David may be credited with containing the Philistines and bringing an end to the conflict between Philistines and Israelites. He may also have conducted campaigns against neighboring peoples, but it is unlikely that he established lasting ontrol of these areas. Second Samuel 24 describes a census taken by David that allegedly included Tyre and Sidon and all the cities of the Canaanites, but does not extend to Arameans of other neighboring peoples. Moreover, it is quite clear from the account of the reign of Solomon in 1 Kings that Tyre was never subject to Israel. The claims made for David in 2 Samuel 8 and 10 are at best hyperbolic, and their historical value is suspect. It may be that the author was influenced by the promise made to Abraham in Gen 15:18-21: ‘to your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates.’ The descendants of Abraham certainly did not control all this territory at any time after the reign of Solomon, and Solomon was not a warrior, so the author may have reasoned that the promise was fulfilled in the time of David.” (239)

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
Anderson, A. A. “2 Samuel” Word Biblical Commentary, vol. 11 (Waco Texas: Wordbooks, 1989).
Campbell, Antony F. “2 Samuel” The Forms of the Old Testament Literature, vol 8 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eedrdmans, 2005).
Collins, John J. “Introduction to the Hebrew Bible,” (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004).
Photo taken from http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_esUBlqKjDzk/Ss7pb44juRI/AAAAAAAAFmk/BMhIzHMZlHA/s320/copper_1.jpg