When Joab saw that the front of the battle was against him
before and behind
Or "the face" of it F23; armies appeared both before and behind, about to attack him both in front and rear; the Targum is,
``and Joab saw that the warriors, or those that made war, were strong against him before and behind:''he chose of all the choice [men] of Israel;
the most eminent for strength, and valour, and military skill, who had been tried, and were famous for warlike exploits, the flower of the army:
and put [them] in array against the Syrians;
who might be the strongest party, and the best soldiers; though being but mercenaries, if hard beset, would sooner give way, as he might suppose, upon which the Ammonites would do the same.
F23 (ynp) "facies", Pagninus, Montanus.