19 1-2 Some time after this Nahash king of the Ammonites died and his son succeeded him as king. David said, “I’d like to show some kindness to Hanun son of Nahash—treat him as well and as kindly as his father treated me.” So David sent condolences about his father’s death.
2-3 But when David’s servants arrived in Ammonite country and came to Hanun to bring condolences, the Ammonite leaders warned Hanun, “Do you for a minute suppose that David is honoring your father by sending you comforters? Don’t you know that he’s sent these men to snoop around the city and size it up so that he can capture it?”
4 So Hanun seized David’s men, shaved them clean, cut off their robes half way up their buttocks, and sent them packing.
5 When this was all reported to David, he sent someone to meet them, for they were seriously humiliated. The king told them, “Stay in Jericho until your beards grow out; only then come back.”
6-7 When it dawned on the Ammonites that as far as David was concerned, they stank to high heaven, they hired, at a cost of a thousand talents of silver (thirty-seven and a half tons!), chariots and horsemen from the Arameans of Naharaim, Maacah, and Zobah—thirty-two thousand chariots and drivers; plus the king of Maacah with his troops who came and set up camp at Medeba; the Ammonites, too, were mobilized from their cities and got ready for battle.
8 When David heard this, he dispatched Joab with his strongest fighters in full force.
9-13 The Ammonites marched out and spread out in battle formation at the city gate; the kings who had come as allies took up a position in the open fields. When Joab saw that he had two fronts to fight, before and behind, he took his pick of the best of Israel and deployed them to confront the Arameans. The rest of the army he put under the command of Abishai, his brother, and deployed them to deal with the Ammonites. Then he said, “If the Arameans are too much for me, you help me; and if the Ammonites prove too much for you, I’ll come and help you. Courage! We’ll fight might and main for our people and for the cities of our God. And God will do whatever he sees needs doing!”
14-15 But when Joab and his soldiers moved in to fight the Arameans, they ran off in full retreat. Then the Ammonites, seeing the Arameans run for dear life, took to their heels and ran from Abishai into the city.
So Joab withdrew from the Ammonites and returned to Jerusalem.
16 When the Arameans saw how badly they’d been beaten by Israel, they picked up the pieces and regrouped; they sent for the Arameans who were across the river; Shophach, commander of Hadadezer’s army, led them.
17-19 When all this was reported to David, he mustered all Israel, crossed the Jordan, advanced, and prepared to fight. The Arameans went into battle formation, ready for David, and the fight was on. But the Arameans again scattered before Israel. David killed seven thousand chariot drivers and forty thousand infantry. He also killed Shophach, the army commander. When all the kings who were vassals of Hadadezer saw that they had been routed by Israel, they made peace with David and served him. The Arameans were afraid to help the Ammonites ever again.