A list of David’s key staff and Levite priests; David looks after Mephibosheth (Jonathan’s son), then defeats the Ammonites and their allies: 2 Samuel 8:15–18; 1 Chronicles 18:14–17; 1 Chronicles 6:16–30; 1 Chronicles 6:49–53; 1 Chronicles 6:31–48; 2 Samuel 9–10:19; 1 Chronicles 19:1–19
Is it a good idea to get involved in other people’s wars? Even for the price of 1000 talents of silver (about 35 tonnes)?
Not if your soldiers realise they are mercenaries, and run away when the battle starts:
1 Chronicles 19:14-15 When Joab and his troops attacked, the Arameans began to run away. And when the Ammonites saw the Arameans running, they also ran from Abishai and retreated into the city. Then Joab returned to Jerusalem.
And definitely not if you discover you’re outclassed by the enemy you’re being paid to fight. You could end up fighting for your own life, rather than the country that hired you, so you call for reinforcements:
1 Chronicles 19:16 The Arameans now realized that they were no match for Israel, so they sent messengers and summoned additional Aramean troops from the other side of the Euphrates River. These troops were under the command of Shobach, the commander of Hadadezer’s forces.
But it doesn’t work:
1 Chronicles 19:17-18 When David heard what was happening, he mobilized all Israel, crossed the Jordan River, and positioned his troops in battle formation. Then David engaged the Arameans in battle, and they fought against him. But again the Arameans fled from the Israelites. …
Well, not if your army isn’t a match for the other side.
Was the 1000 talents of silver worth it? Not for the Aramean king, Hadadezer. He lost his commander and the war. Even worse, the Arameans became Israel’s subjects and lost their independence:
1 Chronicles 19:19 When Hadadezer’s allies saw that they had been defeated by Israel, they surrendered to David and became his subjects. After that, the Arameans were no longer willing to help the Ammonites.
It’s unfair, but the Ammonites, who started all this, seem to have stayed away from the fighting once they realised the strength of Israel’s army.
It was Hadadezer and the other Arameans who paid the price of Hanun’s mistake and, possibly, their kings’ greed for silver.