The size of the robbersí vast camp probably astonished David. As only 400 robbers escaped, there must have originally been several thousand robbers there. They had all gathered together in order to attack several towns in southern Israel and Philistia. Because the armies of those two nations were fighting each other, there was nobody to defend the towns. The result was that the robbers were very successful.
David and his 600 men had often attacked groups of robbers in that desert on previous occasions (27:8-9). Probably those were much smaller groups. On this occasion, only 400 of Davidís men felt strong enough to fight (30:9-10). The robbers were not expecting that anyone might attack them. They were having a party because of their great success. They had eaten plenty of meat and they were drinking plenty of wine. They were singing and they were dancing. Then David attacked.
The robbers fought well. It took David the whole night and the next day to defeat them. Perhaps it took so long because there were so many robbers. They were desperate to keep the wealth that they had taken from Israel and from Philistia. However, Davidís men were desperate too. They were fighting in order to rescue their wives and children.
The result of that battle was a complete success for David, except that 400 of the robbers escaped. David rescued all the people whom the robbers had taken to sell as slaves. David also found all the animals and the other valuable things that the robbers had stolen. By the ancient rules of war, those things now belonged to David and to the men who fought for him.
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© 2014, Keith Simons.