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19 After David had conquered his enemies and united Israel into one nation, Nahash (king of the Ammonites) died, and his son ascended to the throne. So David sent messengers into Ammonite territory to console Hanun (son of Nahash) about his father’s death.

David (resolved): I will be merciful to Hanun because his father was merciful to me.

But the Ammonite chiefs doubted David’s sincerity.

Ammonite Chiefs (to Hanun): Is David really honoring your father by sending you his sympathies? Surely these messengers are here to spy on your affairs and overthrow your government!

So Hanun humiliated David’s servants: shaved them, cut their garment hems up to their hips, and sent them away. When David heard what had happened, he sent a message to his humiliated servants:

This is a shameful turn of events. In the ancient world, normally eunuchs are clean shaven, so this is a deep insult to David and his people.

David’s Message: Stay at Jericho until your beards grow, and then return to Jerusalem.

When Hanun and the Ammonites realized they had made themselves abhorrent to David, they paid 37 tons of silver to mercenaries from Mesopotamia, Aram-maacah, and Zobah. They hired 32,000 chariots and the king of Maacah and his people (who camped at Medeba). Then the Ammonites gathered together from their cities for the battle. When David heard about Ammon’s preparations, he sent Joab and all of his mighty army. The Ammonites approached the city gate in their armor, but the Aramean kings who had come to help the Ammonites were alone in the field.

10 When Joab realized his forces were at a disadvantage, he asked the most skilled Israelite soldiers to prepare for battle against the Arameans. 11 His brother Abshai commanded the remainder of the forces, who prepared to fight the Ammonites.

Joab (to Abshai): 12 If the Arameans are too strong for me, then you will help me; and if the Ammonites are too strong for you, then I will help you. 13 Be strong. Let us show courage for the sake of our people and for the cities of our God. May the Eternal do what He knows is best.

14 When Joab and his forces approached the Arameans, the enemy fled. 15 When the Ammonites saw the Arameans flee, they also fled from Abshai back into the city walls. Then Joab returned to Jerusalem.

16 After their defeat by Israel, the Arameans sent for other Arameans who lived beyond the Euphrates River with Shophach (the commander of Hadadezer’s army) leading them. 17 When David heard, he responded to this mobilization by gathering his forces, crossing the Jordan, and facing the Arameans in formation. When the Arameans saw this they arranged their forces and engaged in battle. 18 The Arameans fled from the Israelites; and David killed 7,000 charioteers, 40,000 foot soldiers, and Shophach (the commander of the army).

19 When the servants of Hadadezer realized Israel had defeated them, they surrendered to David and served him—unwilling to help the Ammonites anymore.

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