The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Second Book of Kings
When the king of the Ammonites died, and his son Hanon succeeded him,
David thought to himself, I will shew friendliness to Hanon, as his father Naas did to me; and he dispatched envoys to condole with him over his father’s death. But when these reached the Ammonite country,
the chiefs there said to Hanon, their sovereign, What, David send messengers to comfort thee, in honour of thy father’s memory? Nay, if he has sent men here, they are spies who will make a report on the city, so that he may come and destroy it.
So Hanon seized David’s messengers, shaved their beards on one side, and cut off the skirts of their clothes right up to the buttocks, and in that guise sent them back.
David, when he heard of this, sent out to meet them, covered with confusion as they were, and bade them wait in Jericho, not returning home until their beards were grown again.
Meanwhile the Ammonites, well aware that they had made an enemy of David, sent and hired mercenaries from the Syrians of Rohob and the Syrians of Soba, twenty thousand men that marched on foot; a thousand, too, from the king of Maacha, and twelve thousand from Istob.
Upon hearing this news, David sent the whole of his forces to engage them, under Joab.
The Ammonites themselves had come out from the city, and drawn up their line at the approaches to its gates; the Syrians from Soba, Rohob, Istob and Maacha were at a distance, out in the open country;
and Joab saw that he must fight one enemy in front while another was ready to take him in the rear. So he chose the best of his troops and led them against the Syrians,
leaving the rest, under his brother Abisai, to face the Ammonites.
Bring me aid, said Joab, if the Syrians are too strong for me, and I, if the Ammonites have the mastery, will bring aid to thee instead.
Play the man, fight we valiantly for our people, and for the city walls that are sacred to our God; the Lord’s will be done.
So Joab and his men engaged the Syrians, who were routed by his first onslaught,
and the Ammonites, when they saw the Syrians in full flight, gave way in their turn before the onslaught of Abisai, retreating into the city. After this, Joab went back from the Ammonite country to Jerusalem.
Thus defeated, the Syrians mustered the whole of their army,
and Adarezer sent for those others of their race who lived on the further side of the river to reinforce him, putting his general, Sobach, in command of them.
David, as soon as he heard the news, mustered the whole forces of Israel, and marched across the Jordan to Helam. There the Syrians drew up their forces to meet him, and gave battle;
but the Israelites routed them, and David won the victory. Seven hundred chariots Syria lost that day, and four thousand horsemen; Sobach, too, their general, was wounded and died on the field of battle.
And now all the other kings who were vassals of Adarezer saw that they were no match for Israel; their troops lost heart and fled, fifty-eight thousand of them, at the enemy’s approach. So they made peace with the Israelites and became their subjects; and no more was heard of the Syrians bringing aid to the men of Ammon.
The Holy Bible