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David Subjugates Nearby Nations

Later David defeated the Philistines and subdued them. David took Metheg Ammah[a] from the Philistines.[b] He defeated the Moabites. He made them lie on the ground and then used a rope to measure them off. He put two-thirds of them to death and spared the other third.[c] The Moabites became David’s subjects and brought tribute.[d] David defeated King Hadadezer son of Rehob of Zobah when he came to reestablish[e] his authority[f] over the Euphrates[g] River. David seized from him 1,700 charioteers[h] and 20,000 infantrymen. David cut the hamstrings of all but 100 of the chariot horses.[i] The Arameans of Damascus came to help King Hadadezer of Zobah, but David killed 22,000 of the Arameans. David placed garrisons in the territory of the Arameans of Damascus; the Arameans became David’s subjects and brought tribute. The Lord protected[j] David wherever he campaigned.[k] David took the golden shields that belonged to Hadadezer’s servants and brought them to Jerusalem.[l] From Tebah[m] and Berothai, Hadadezer’s cities, King David took a great deal of bronze.

When King Toi[n] of Hamath heard that David had defeated the entire army of Hadadezer, 10 he[o] sent his son Joram[p] to King David to extend his best wishes[q] and to pronounce a blessing on him for his victory over Hadadezer, for Toi had been at war with Hadadezer.[r] He brought with him various items made of silver, gold, and bronze.[s] 11 King David dedicated these things to the Lord,[t] along with the dedicated silver and gold that he had taken from[u] all the nations that he had subdued, 12 including[v] Edom,[w] Moab, the Ammonites, the Philistines, and Amalek. This also included some of the plunder taken from[x] King Hadadezer son of Rehob of Zobah.

13 David became famous[y] when he returned from defeating the Edomites[z] in the Valley of Salt; he defeated[aa] 18,000 in all. 14 He placed garrisons throughout Edom,[ab] and all the Edomites became David’s subjects. The Lord protected David wherever he campaigned. 15 David reigned over all Israel; he guaranteed justice for all his people.[ac]

David’s Cabinet

16 Joab son of Zeruiah was general in command of[ad] the army; Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was secretary; 17 Zadok son of Ahitub and Ahimelech son of Abiathar[ae] were priests; Seraiah was scribe; 18 Benaiah son of Jehoiada supervised[af] the Kerethites and Pelethites; and David’s sons were priests.[ag]


  1. 2 Samuel 8:1 tn Heb “the bridle of one cubit.” Many English versions treat this as a place name because the parallel text in 1 Chr 18:1 reads “Gath” (which is used by NLT here). It is possible that “the bridle of one cubit” is to be understood as “the token of surrender,” referring to the Philistine’s defeat rather than a specific place (cf. TEV, CEV).
  2. 2 Samuel 8:1 tn Heb “from the hand [i.e., control] of the Philistines.”
  3. 2 Samuel 8:2 tn Heb “and he measured [with] two [lengths] of rope to put to death and [with] the fullness of the rope to keep alive.”
  4. 2 Samuel 8:2 tn Heb “and the Moabites were servants of David, carriers of tribute.”
  5. 2 Samuel 8:3 tc The LXX has ἐπιστῆσαι (epistēsai, “cause to stand”). See the parallel text in 1 Chr 18:3.
  6. 2 Samuel 8:3 tn Heb “hand.”
  7. 2 Samuel 8:3 tn The MT does not have the name “Euphrates” in the text. It is supplied in the margin (Qere) as one of ten places where the Masoretes believed that something was “to be read although it was not written” in the text as they had received it. The ancient versions (LXX, Syriac Peshitta, Vulgate) include the word. See also the parallel text in 1 Chr 18:3.
  8. 2 Samuel 8:4 tc The LXX has “1,000 chariots and 7,000 charioteers,” a reading adopted in the text of the NIV. See the parallel text in 1 Chr 18:4.
  9. 2 Samuel 8:4 tn Heb “and David cut the hamstrings of all the chariot horses, and he left from them 100 chariot horses.”
  10. 2 Samuel 8:6 tn Or “delivered.”
  11. 2 Samuel 8:6 tn Or “wherever he went.”
  12. 2 Samuel 8:7 tc The LXX includes seventeen words (in Greek) at the end of v. 7 that are not found in the MT. The LXX addition is as follows: “And Sousakim king of Egypt took them when he came up to Jerusalem in the days of Rehoboam the son of Solomon.” This Greek reading now finds Hebrew support in 4QSama. For a reconstruction of this poorly preserved Qumran text see E. C. Ulrich, Jr., The Qumran Text of Samuel and Josephus (HSM), 45-48.
  13. 2 Samuel 8:8 tn Heb “Betah” (so KJV, NASB, NRSV), but the name should probably be corrected to “Tebah.” See the parallel text in 1 Chr 18:8.
  14. 2 Samuel 8:9 tn The name is spelled “Tou” in the parallel text in 1 Chr 18:9. NIV adopts the spelling “Tou” here.
  15. 2 Samuel 8:10 tn Heb “Toi.” The proper name has been replaced by the pronoun in the translation for stylistic reasons.
  16. 2 Samuel 8:10 tn The name appears as “Hadoram” in the parallel text in 1 Chr 18:10.
  17. 2 Samuel 8:10 tn Heb “to ask concerning him for peace.”
  18. 2 Samuel 8:10 tn Heb “and to bless him because he fought with Hadadezer and defeated him, for Hadadezer was a man of battles with Toi.”
  19. 2 Samuel 8:10 tn Heb “and in his hand were items of silver and items of gold and items of bronze.”
  20. 2 Samuel 8:11 tn Heb “also them King David made holy to the Lord.”
  21. 2 Samuel 8:11 tn Heb “with the silver and the gold that he had dedicated from.”
  22. 2 Samuel 8:12 tn Heb “from.”
  23. 2 Samuel 8:12 tc Heb “Aram.” A few Hebrew mss along with the LXX and Syriac read “Edom” (cf. 2 Sam 8:14 and 1 Chr 18:11). Aram and Edom are spelled similarly, the difference being a ד (dalet) vs. a ר (resh). Besides the textual witnesses, the geography in v. 13, the Valley of Salt, fits Edom and not Aram.
  24. 2 Samuel 8:12 tn Heb “and from the plunder of.”
  25. 2 Samuel 8:13 tn Heb “made a name.”
  26. 2 Samuel 8:13 tc See the note on “Aram” in v. 12.
  27. 2 Samuel 8:13 tn The words “he defeated” are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.
  28. 2 Samuel 8:14 tc The MT is repetitious here: “He placed in Edom garrisons; in all Edom he placed garrisons.” The Vulgate lacks “in all Edom”; most of the Greek tradition (with the exception of the Lucianic recension and the recension of Origen) and the Syriac Peshitta lack “he placed garrisons.” The MT reading appears here to be the result of a conflation of variant readings.
  29. 2 Samuel 8:15 tn Heb “and David was doing what is just and fair for all his people.”
  30. 2 Samuel 8:16 tn Heb “was over.”
  31. 2 Samuel 8:17 tc Here Ahimelech is called “the son of Abiathar,” but NCV, CEV, and REB reverse this to conform with 1 Sam 22:20. Most recent English versions (e.g., NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV, NLT) retain the order found in the MT.
  32. 2 Samuel 8:18 tc The translation follows the Syriac Peshitta, Targum, and Vulgate in reading “over,” rather than the simple conjunction that appears in MT. See also the parallel passage in 1 Chr 18:17.
  33. 2 Samuel 8:18 sn That David’s sons could have been priests, in light of the fact that they were not of the priestly lineage, is strange. One must assume either (1) that the word “priest” (כֹּהֵן, kohen) during this period of time could be used in a broader sense of “chief ruler” (KJV); “chief minister” (ASV, NASB), or “royal adviser” (NIV), perhaps based on the parallel passage in 1 Chr 18:17 which has “the king’s leading officials”, or (2) that in David’s day members of the king’s family could function as a special category of “priests” (cf. NLT “priestly leaders”). The latter option seems to be the more straightforward way of understanding the word in 2 Sam 8:18.

David’s Victories(A)

In the course of time, David defeated the Philistines(B) and subdued(C) them, and he took Metheg Ammah from the control of the Philistines.

David also defeated the Moabites.(D) He made them lie down on the ground and measured them off with a length of cord. Every two lengths of them were put to death, and the third length was allowed to live. So the Moabites became subject to David and brought him tribute.(E)

Moreover, David defeated Hadadezer(F) son of Rehob, king of Zobah,(G) when he went to restore his monument at[a] the Euphrates(H) River. David captured a thousand of his chariots, seven thousand charioteers[b] and twenty thousand foot soldiers. He hamstrung(I) all but a hundred of the chariot horses.

When the Arameans of Damascus(J) came to help Hadadezer king of Zobah, David struck down twenty-two thousand of them. He put garrisons(K) in the Aramean kingdom of Damascus, and the Arameans became subject(L) to him and brought tribute. The Lord gave David victory wherever he went.(M)

David took the gold shields(N) that belonged to the officers of Hadadezer and brought them to Jerusalem. From Tebah[c] and Berothai,(O) towns that belonged to Hadadezer, King David took a great quantity of bronze.

When Tou[d] king of Hamath(P) heard that David had defeated the entire army of Hadadezer,(Q) 10 he sent his son Joram[e] to King David to greet him and congratulate him on his victory in battle over Hadadezer, who had been at war with Tou. Joram brought with him articles of silver, of gold and of bronze.

11 King David dedicated(R) these articles to the Lord, as he had done with the silver and gold from all the nations he had subdued: 12 Edom[f](S) and Moab,(T) the Ammonites(U) and the Philistines,(V) and Amalek.(W) He also dedicated the plunder taken from Hadadezer son of Rehob, king of Zobah.

13 And David became famous(X) after he returned from striking down eighteen thousand Edomites[g] in the Valley of Salt.(Y)

14 He put garrisons throughout Edom, and all the Edomites(Z) became subject to David.(AA) The Lord gave David victory(AB) wherever he went.(AC)

David’s Officials(AD)

15 David reigned over all Israel, doing what was just and right(AE) for all his people. 16 Joab(AF) son of Zeruiah was over the army; Jehoshaphat(AG) son of Ahilud was recorder;(AH) 17 Zadok(AI) son of Ahitub and Ahimelek son of Abiathar(AJ) were priests; Seraiah was secretary;(AK) 18 Benaiah(AL) son of Jehoiada was over the Kerethites(AM) and Pelethites; and David’s sons were priests.[h]


  1. 2 Samuel 8:3 Or his control along
  2. 2 Samuel 8:4 Septuagint (see also Dead Sea Scrolls and 1 Chron. 18:4); Masoretic Text captured seventeen hundred of his charioteers
  3. 2 Samuel 8:8 See some Septuagint manuscripts (see also 1 Chron. 18:8); Hebrew Betah.
  4. 2 Samuel 8:9 Hebrew Toi, a variant of Tou; also in verse 10
  5. 2 Samuel 8:10 A variant of Hadoram
  6. 2 Samuel 8:12 Some Hebrew manuscripts, Septuagint and Syriac (see also 1 Chron. 18:11); most Hebrew manuscripts Aram
  7. 2 Samuel 8:13 A few Hebrew manuscripts, Septuagint and Syriac (see also 1 Chron. 18:12); most Hebrew manuscripts Aram (that is, Arameans)
  8. 2 Samuel 8:18 Or were chief officials (see Septuagint and Targum; see also 1 Chron. 18:17)