( Related Posting: Was the use of a measuring line literal or symbolic in 2 Samuel 8:2?

Related Posting: What are the Dangers of the Judgemental side of David's life in the Bible?


What deeper understanding can the bible reader get from the 2 Samuel 8:2's account of how David killed off the defeated people of Moab? To elaborate, why does the David's manner of killing off some of the people of Moab seem so arbitrary and/or playful in nature? There is No intelligent assessment, No thorough judicial process(No due process) from David. ( It's Extrajudicial action)

2 Samuel 8:1-

Now after this it came about that David [a]defeated the Philistines and subdued them; and David took [b]control of the chief city from the hand of the Philistines.

2 He [c]defeated Moab, and measured them with the line, making them lie down on the ground; and he measured two lines to put to death and one full line to keep alive. And the Moabites became servants to David, bringing tribute.

3 Then David [d]defeated Hadadezer, the son of Rehob king of Zobah, as he went to restore his [e]rule at the [f]River.......

  • ... deeper that what?
    – Dottard
    Commented Oct 11, 2021 at 22:57
  • @Dottard see my addition to the question. Commented Oct 11, 2021 at 23:26

2 Answers 2


David knew about this prophecy, Numbers 24:

17“I see him, but not now;
I behold him, but not near;
A star shall come forth from Jacob,
A scepter shall rise from Israel,
And shall crush through the forehead of Moab,
And tear down all the sons of Sheth.

He might have this in mind in 2 Samuel 8:2. In any case, judging David's action based on our modern sense of justice does not apply to David's character.


The 2 Samuel 8:2 account of how David killed some of the Moab people in a very arbitrary manner seems kind of playful which shows a rather creepy/scary side to David's character.
David does Not hold any sort of ancient version of a the post-WWII Nuremberg trial of key members of Hitler's Nazi regime in order to determine who among the Moabites should be executed. There is No judicial process. There is No ancient version of due process. David just goes on to kill the Moab people in a sort of playful manner like an ancient biblical version of Russian roulette.

It kind of suggests/hints that David was some kind of sadistic vigilante. LOL, David is like and Old Testament Bible version of the Punisher who is a fictional vigilante in Marvel Comics.

@tony-chan Thanks for your posting. However, I just wanted to emphasize evidence of due process in the bible(especially the Old Testament Bible).
Exodus 18:13-23 is account of how Moses carried out "due process" as part of his judgement. I suppose that we can infer that since Moses lifetime was long before David, we could assume that David knew about the stories of Moses, and how Moses judged Israel in a Godly manner.

Exodus 18:13-23 New American Standard Bible 1995

13 It came about the next day that Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood about Moses from the morning until the evening. 14 Now when Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, “What is this thing that you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge and all the people stand about you from morning until evening?” 15 Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God. 16 When they have a [a]dispute, it comes to me, and I judge between a man and his neighbor and make known the statutes of God and His laws.”

Jethro Counsels Moses 17 Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “The thing that you are doing is not good. 18 You will surely wear out, both yourself and [b]these people who are with you, for the [c]task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone. 19 Now listen to [d]me: I will give you counsel, and God be with you. [e]You be the people’s representative before God, and you bring the [f]disputes to God, 20 then teach them the statutes and the laws, and make known to them the way in which they are to walk and the work they are to do. 21 Furthermore, you shall [g]select out of all the people able men who fear God, men of truth, those who hate dishonest gain; and you shall place these over them as leaders of thousands, [h]of hundreds, [i]of fifties and [j]of tens. 22 Let them judge the people at all times; and let it be that every major [k]dispute they will bring to you, but every minor [l]dispute they themselves will judge. So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you. 23 If you do this thing and God so commands you, then you will be able to [m]endure, and all [n]these people also will go to [o]their place in peace.”

Leviticus 19:15-16

New American Standard Bible 1995

15 ‘You shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor nor defer to the great, but you are to judge your neighbor fairly. 16 You shall not go about as a slanderer among your people, and you are not to [a]act against the [b]life of your neighbor; I am the Lord.

I think 2 Samuel 8:2 is just further evidence of David being "treasure in earthen vessels"(2 Corinthians 4:7) who is selected by God to become the 2nd King of Israel.

  • 2
    Noted. I put some weight on your argument here :) Thanks.
    – user35953
    Commented Oct 13, 2021 at 16:57

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