There are two Biblical references to King David‘s wars with the Moabites and the Ammonites. 2 Samuel 8 and 1 Chronicles 19 are the two major passages of scripture that that give an account of these battles. These battles appear on the Biblical Timeline Poster around 1030 BC.
The Moabites were related to Israel through Israel through Abraham’s nephew Lot. God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. Only Lot and his two daughters were spared through the event. Lot’s daughters wrongly assumed that the whole world was destroyed. They had gotten their father drunk before having sex with him. They did this for a few nights in a row until they were pregnant. Moab was the name of the son born to the oldest daughter and the youngest daughter had a son named Ben-Ammin who became known as the Ammonites.
The nations of Ammon and Moab both lay east of Israel. Israel fought against both of these nations at various times throughout their history. The Israelites could not pass through the Moabites territory when they were settling into Canaan. In Deuteronomy 23:1-6 God gave Israel permission to harass the Moabites because they didn’t give them food and drink when they passed by their land after leaving Egypt. He also didn’t want Israel to help them because the Moabites called on Balaam to curse God’s people. So God told them that they were never allowed to help the Moabites or the Ammonites in their times of trouble.
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The Ammonites were always at strife with the Israelites as well. They fought and plotted against Israel at various times in their history. The Ammonites were also guilty of not allowing Israel to pass through their lands after they left Egypt. The Ammonites also joined forces against Israel during the time of the Judges. I
n 2 Samuel 7 God had just given David a strong blessing that was to establish his lineage on the throne of Israel forever. Soon afterward God preserved David and allowed him to conquer the nations that had been a problem for Israel for many years. After defeating the Philistines, he turned his attention toward the Moabites and destroyed them. After they were beaten he placed them on the ground and measured every two of them with a cord. This cord was as long as three men. The first two men that were measured with the chord were killed and the third man was spared. After he did this to the people of Moab they humbly accepted his rule and brought him tribute.
1 Chronicles 19 outlines how King David showed kindness to an Ammonite king by the name of Hanun. Nahash was Hanun’s father who had recently passed. King Nahash and King David were both allies. So David sent his servants to help comfort the king and to show sympathy for his loss. Hanun’s princes told him that David was sending his men as spies. So King Hanun had David’s servant’s beards cut and their garments were cut off at the buttocks. David’s servants were shamed by this event. King David was outraged and he told his servants that had been shamed to remain in Jericho until their beards grew back. The Ammonites realized King David was mad enough to go to war and they gathered their forces. They also hired mercenaries for the battle. The Ammonites had gotten a lot of Israel’s enemies to go to war against them and they were going to attack them on two sides. David’s general Joab organized the army on two fronts since they were going to be attacked on two different sides. The Armeans were the Ammonites main attack force, but Israel defeated them and the Ammonites also fled. The Ammonites were defeated on that occasion.
The Ammonites paid David tribute right along with Moab and a few other nations (see 2 Samuel 8:12). Apparently, King David must have beaten them in battle as he was conquering the other nations in the region.
Biblical References to David smiting Moabites and Ammonites
- Genesis 19:30-38 the Moabites and Ammonites are born through acts of incest.
- Deuteronomy 23:1-6 God forbids Israel to help the Moabites and the Ammonites
- 2 Samuel 8:2 King David defeats and executes the Moabites.
- 2 Samuel 8:12 The Ammonites are one nation that pays tribute to Israel.
- 1 Chronicles 19 King David beats the Ammonites after they humiliate David’s ambassadors and good will.