And he brought forth the people that [were] therein
Not all the inhabitants of the place, but the princes of the children of Ammon, the counsellors of Hattun, who advised him to use David's ambassadors in so shameful a manner, and others that expressed their pleasure and satisfaction in it:
and put [them] under saws, and under harrows of iron, and under axes of
whereby they were cut asunder, as some were by the Romans and others F14, or their flesh torn to pieces, and they put to extreme pain and agony, and so died most miserably; see ( 1 Chronicles 20:3 ) ;
and made them pass through the brickkiln;
where they burnt their bricks, by which they were not only scorched and blistered, but burnt to death; so the word in the "Keri", or margin, signifies, which we follow; but in the text it is, they caused them to pass through Malcem, the same with Milcom or Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon, ( 1 Kings 11:5 1 Kings 11:7 ) ; unto which they made their children pass through the fire, and burnt them; and now in the same place they themselves are made to pass through, and be burnt, as a righteous punishment of them for their barbarous and wicked idolatry. The word used in the Greek version, according to Suidas F15, signifies an army, or a battalion of men drawn up in a quadrangular form, like a brick; and in the same sense Josephus F16 uses it; hence a learned man F17 conjectures that David's army was drawn up in the like form, through which the Ammonites were obliged to pass, and as they passed were assailed with darts, and killed; a like punishment to which is what the Italians call "passing through the pikes":
and thus did he unto all the cities of the children of Ammon;
to the inhabitants of them; that is, the chief, who bad expressed their joy at the ill usage of his ambassadors: this he did to strike terror into other nations, that they might fear to use his ambassadors in such like manner. This action of David's showing so much severity, is thought by most to be done when under the power of his lust with Bathsheba, in an hardened and impenitent state, when he had no sense of mercy himself, and so showed none; which is too injurious to his character; for this was a righteous retaliation of this cruel people, ( 1 Samuel 11:2 ) ( Amos 1:13 ) . Which may be observed in other instances, ( Judges 8:6 Judges 8:7 ) ( 1 Samuel 15:33 ) ; but the charge of cruelty in David will be easily removed by following the translation of a learned F18 man, and which I think the words will bear, "and he obliged the people that were in it to go out, and put them to the saw", to cut stones; "and to the iron mines", to dig there; "and to the axes of iron", to cut wood, with; "after he had made them to pass with their king" out of the city.
So David and all the people returned unto Jerusalem;
in triumph, and with great spoil.