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[159] But Joab sorely distressed the Ammonites in the siege, by cutting off their waters, and depriving them of other means of subsistence, till they were in the greatest want of meat and drink, for they depended only on one small well of water, and this they durst not drink of too freely, lest the fountain should entirely fail them. So he wrote to the king, and informed him thereof; and persuaded him to come himself to take the city, that he might have the honor of the victory. Upon this letter of Joab's, the king accepted of his good-will and fidelity, and took with him his army, and came to the destruction of Rabbah; and when he had taken it by force, he gave it to his soldiers to plunder it; but he himself took the king of the Ammonites' crown, whose weight was a talent of gold; 1 and it had in its middle a precious stone called a sardonyx; which crown David ever after wore on his own head. He also found many other vessels in the city, and those both splendid and of great price; but as for the men, he tormented them, 2 and then destroyed them; and when he had taken the other cities of the Ammonites by force, he treated them after the same manner.


1 That a talent of gold was about seven pounds weight, see the description of the temple ch. 13. Nor could Josephus well estimate it higher, since he here says that David wore it on his head perpetually.

2 Whether Josephus saw the words of our copies, 2 Samuel 12:31, and 1 Chronicles 20:3, that David put the inhabitants, or at least the garrison of Rabbah, and of the other Ammonite cities, which he besieged and took, under, or cut them with saws, and under, or with harrows of iron, and under, or with axes of iron, and made them pass through the brick-kiln, is not here directly expressed. If he saw them, as is most probable he did, he certainly expounded them of tormenting these Ammonites to death, who were none of those seven nations of Canaan whose wickedness had rendered them incapable of mercy; otherwise I should be inclinable to think that the meaning, at least as the words are in Samuel, might only be this: That they were made the lowest slaves, to work in sawing of timber or stone, in harrowing the fields, in hewing timber, in making and burning bricks, and the like hard services, but without taking away their lives. We never elsewhere, that I remember, meet with such methods of cruelty in putting men to death in all the Bible, or in any other ancient history whatsoever; nor do the words in Samuel seem naturally to refer to any such thing.


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