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Professor fienvy van Dyke, D.D., IiIi.D. 





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Title, Contents, Character, and Origin of the Books of Samuel, 1 


I. History of the People of Israel under the Prophet Samuel 

(1 Sam. I. -VII.), ...... 13 

Samuel's Birth and Dedication to the Lord. Hannah's Song 

of Praise (Chap, i.-ii. 10), . . . .14 

Samuel's Service before Eli. Ungodliness of Eli's Sons. De- 
nunciation of Judgment upon Eli and his House (Chap, 
ii. 11-36), ....... 34 

Samuel called to be a Prophet (Chap, iii.), . . .48 

War with the Philistines. Loss of the Ark. Death of Eli and 

his Sons (Chap, iv.), . . . . .52 

Humiliation of the Philistines by means of the Ark of the 

Covenant (Chap, v.-vii. 1), . . . .57 

Conversion of Israel to the Lord by Samuel. Victory over the 

Philistines. Samuel as Judge of Israel (Chap. vii. 2-17), 70 

II. The Monarchy of Saul from his Election till his ultimate 

Rejection (Ch,vp. viii.-xv.), . . . .77 

Israel's Prayer for a King (Chap, viii.), . . .81 

Anointing of Saul as King (Chap, ix.-x. 16), . . .86 


Saul elected King. His Election confirmed (Chap, x, 17- 

xi. 15), ....... 105 

Samuel's Address at the Eenewal of the Monarchy (Chap, xii.), 114 

Saul's Eeign, and his Unseasonable Sacrifice in the War against 

the Philistines (Chap, xiii.), .... 122 

Jonathan's Heroic Act, and Israel's Victory over the Phili- 
stines. Saul's Wars and Family (Chap, xiv.), . .130 

War with Ainalek. Saul's Disobedience and Rejection (Chap. 

XV.), 149 

III, Saul's Fall and David's Election (Chap, xvi.-xxxi.), . 160 
Anointing of David. His playing before Saul (Chap, xvi.), . 167 
David's Victory over Goliath (Chap. xvii. 1-54), . , 172 

Jonathan's Friendship. Saul's Jealousy and Plots against 

David (Chap. xvii. 55-xvm. 30), . . . .185 

Jonathan's Intercession for David. Saul's renewed Attempts 

to murder him. David's Flight to Samuel (Chap, xix.), . 194 
Jonathan's last Attempt to reconcile his Father to David 

(Chap. xx.-xxi. 1), ..... 206 

David's Flight to Nob, and thence to Gath (Chap. xxi. 2-16), . 216 
David's Wanderings in Judah and Moab. Massacre of Priests 

by Saul (Chap, xxii.), 222 

David delivers Keilah. He is betrayed by the Ziphites, and 

marvellously saved from Saul in the Desert of Maon 

(Chap, xxiii.), . . . . . .228 

David spares Saul in the Cave (Chap, xxiv.), . . . 233 

Death of Samuel. Nabal and Abigail (Chap, xxv.), . . 238 

David is betrayed again by the Ziphites, and spares Saul a 

second time (Chap, xxvi.), .... 247 

David at Ziklag in the Land of the Philistines (Chap, xxvii.), . 254 
David in the Army of the Philistines. Attack upon Israel. 

Saul and the Witch of Eudor (Chap, xxviii.), . . 258 

Removal of David from the Army of the Philistines (Chap. 

xxix.), 270 

David avenges upon the Amalekites the plundering and 

burning of Ziklag (Chap, xxx.), .... 272 
Death and Burial of Saul and liis Sons (Chap, xxxi.), . . 278 




I. David King over Judah, and Ishbosiietii King over Israel, . 283 

David's Conduct on hearing of Saul's Death. His Elegy upon 

Saul and Jonathan (Chap, i.), . . . . 284 
David King over Judah, and Ishbosheth King over Israel. 

Battle at Gibeon (Chap, ii.), . . . .292 

David advances and Ishbosheth declines. Abner goes over to 

David, and is murdered by Joab (Chap, iii.), . . 299 
Murder of Ishbosheth, and Punishment of the Murderers (Chap. 

iv.), ....... 308 

II. The Government of David over all Israel in the Time of 

ITS Strength and Glory (Chap, v.-ix.), . . 312 

David anointed King over all Israel. Jerusalem taken, and 
made the Capital of the Kingdom. Victories over the 
Philistines (Chap, v.), . . . . .313 

Removal of the Ark to Jerusalem (Chap, vi.), . . . 326 
David's Resolution to build a Temple. The promised Perpetuity 

of his Throne (Chap, vii.), . . . .339 

David's "Wars, Victories, and Ministers of State (Chap, viii.), . 354 

David's Kindness towards Mephibosheth (Chap, ix.), . . 370 

III. David's Reign in its Decline (Chap, x.-xx.), . . 372 

War with the Ammonites and Syrians (Chap, x.), . . 373 

Siege of Rabbah. David's Adultery (Chap, xi.), . . 381 
Nathan's Reproof and David's Repentance. Conquest of Rabbah 

(Chap, xii.), ...... 388 

Amnon's Incest, and Absalom's Fratricide (Chap, xiii.), . 396 

Absalom's Return, and Reconciliation to the King (Chap, xiv.), 405 

Absalom's Rebellion and David's Flight (Chap, xv.-xvi. 14), . 413 
Absalom's Entrance into Jerusalem. Advice of Ahithophel and 

Hushai (Chap. xvi. 15-xvii. 23), . . . .427 

Absalom's Defeat and Death (Chap. xvii. 24-xix. 1), . . 433 

David reinstated in his Kingdom (Chap. xix. 1-39), . . 442 
Discontent in Israel, and Sheba's Rebellion (Chap. xix. 40-xx. 

26), ....... 451 



[V. Close of David's Reign (Chai ^xi.-xxiv.), • ' . • 458 

Three Years' Famine. Heroic Acts performed in the Wars with 

the Philistines (Chap, xxi.), .... 459 

David's Psalm of Thanksgiving for Victory over all his Enou liesi 

(Chap, xxii.), ...... 467 

David's Last Words (Chap, xxiii. 1-7), . . . 484 
David's Heroes (Chap, xxiii. 8-39), . . .490 

Numbering of the People, and Pestilence (Chap, xxiv.), . 500 




^HE books of Samuel originally formed one undivided 
work, and in the Hebrew MSS. they do so still. The 
division into two books originated with the Alexan- 
drian translators (LXX.), and was not only adopted 
in the Vulgate and other versions, but in the sixteenth century 
it was introduced by Daniel Bomberg into our editions of the 
Hebrew Bible itself. In the Septuagint and Vulgate, these 
books are reckoned as belonging to the books of the Kings, and 
have the heading, Bacrikeioiv irpcory], SevTepa {Regum, i. et ii.). 
In the Septuagint they are called " books of the kingdoms," 
evidently with reference to the fact that each of these works 
contains an account of the history of a double kingdom, viz. : 
the books of Samuel, the history of the kingdoms of Saul 
and David ; and the books of Kings, that of the kingdoms of 
Judah and Israel. This title does not appear unsuitable, so far 
as the books before us really contain an account of the rise of 
the monarchy in Israel. Nevertheless, we cannot regard it as 
the original title, or even as a more appropriate heading than 
the one given in the Hebrew canon, viz. " the look of Samuel," 
since this title not only originated in the fact that the first half 
{i.e. our first book) contains an account of the acts of the pro- 
phet Samuel, but was also intended to indicate that the spirit of 
Samuel formed the soul of the true kingdom in Israel, or that 
the earthly throne of the Israelitish kingdom of God derived its 



strength and perpetuity from the Spirit of the Lord which 
lived in the prophet. The division into two books answers 
to the contents, since the death of Saul, with which the first 
book closes, formed a turning-point in the development of the 

The books of Samuel contain the history of the kingdom of 
God in Israel, from the termination of the age of the judges to 
the close of the reign of king David, and embrace a period of 
about 125 years, viz. from about 1140 to 1015 b.c. The ßrst 
book treats of the judgeship of the prophet Samuel and the 
reisn of king Saul, and is divided into three sections, answerino; 
to the three epochs formed by the judicial office of Samuel (ch. 
i,-vii.), the reign of Saul from his election till his rejection (ch. 
viii.-xv.), and the decline of his kingdom during his conflict 
with David, whom the Lord had chosen to be the leader of His 
people in the place of Saul (ch. xvi.— xxxi.). The renewal of 
the kingdom of God, which was now thoroughly disorganized 
both within and without, commenced with Samuel. When the 
pious Hannah asked for a son from the Lord, and Samuel was 
V given to her, the sanctuary of God at Shiloh was thoroughly 
desecrated under the decrepit high priest Eli by the base con- 
duct of his worthless sons, and the nation of Israel was given 
up to the power of the Philistines. If Israel, therefore, Avas to 
be delivered from the bondage of the heathen, it was necessary 
that it should be first of all redeemed from the bondage of sin 
and idolatry, that its false confidence in the visible pledges of 
the gracious presence of God should be shaken by heavy judg- 
ments, and the way prepared for its conversion to the Lord its 
God by deep humiliation. At the very same time, therefore, 
at which Samuel was called to be the prophet of God, the judg- 
ment of God was announced upon the degraded priesthood and 
the desecrated sanctuary. The ßrst section of our book, which 
describes the history of the renewal of the theocracy by Samuel, 
does not commence with the call of Samuel as prophet, but with 
an account on the one hand of the character of the national 
religion in the time of Eli, and on the other hand of the piety 
of the parents of Samuel, especially of his mother, and with an 
announcement of the judgment that was to fall upon Eli's house 
(ch. i. ii.). Then follow first of all the call of Samuel as prophet 
(ch. iii.), and the fulfilment of the judgment upon the house of 


Eli and the house of God (ch. iv.) ; secondly, the manifesta- 
tion of the omnipotence of God upon the enemies of His people, 
by the chastisement of the Philistines for carrying off the ark of 
the covenant, and the victory which the Israelites gained over 
their oppressors through Samuel's prayer (ch. v.-vii. 14) ; and 
lastly, a summary of the judicial life of Samuel (ch. vii. 15-17). 
The second section contains, first, the negotiations of the people 
with Samuel concerning the appointment of a king, the anointing 
of Saul by the prophet, and his election as king, together with 
the establishment of his kingdom (ch. viii.-xii.) ; and secondly, 
a brief survey of the history of his reign, in connection with 
which the only events that are at all fully described are his first 
successful conflicts with the Philistines, and the war against the 
Amalekites which occasioned his ultimate rejection (ch. xiii.- 
XV.). In the third section (ch. xvi.-xxxi.) there is a much more- 
elaborate account of the history of Saul from his rejection till 
his death, since it not only describes the anointing of David and 
his victory over Goliath, but contains a circumstantial account 
of his attitude towards Saul, and the manifold complications 
arising from his long-continued persecution on the part of Saul, 
for the purpose of setting forth the gradual accomplishment of 
the counsels of God, both in the rejection of Saul and the elec- 
tion of Dcivid as king of Israel, to warn the ungodly against hard- 
ness of heart, and to strengthen the godly in their trust in the 
Lord, who guides His servants through tribulation and suffering 
to glory and honour. The second book contains the history of 
the reign of David, arranged in four sections: (1) his reign over 
Judah in Hebron, and his conflict with Ishbosheth the son of 
Saul, whom Abner had set up as king over the other tribes of 
Israel (ch. i.-iv.) : (2) the anointing of David as king over all 
Israel, and the firm establishment of his kingdom through the 
conquest of the citadel of Zion, and the elevation of Jerusalem 
into the capital of the kingdom ; the removal of the ark of the 
covenant to Jerusalem ; the determination to build a temple to 
the Lord ; the promise given him by the Lord of the everlast- 
ing duration of his dominion ; and lastly, the subjugation of 
all the enemies of Israel (ch. v.-viii. 14), to which there is 
appended a list of the principal officers of state (ch. viii. 15-18), 
and an account of the favour shown to the house of Saul in the 
person of INIephibosheth (ch. ix.) : (3) the disturbance of his 


reign through his adultery with Bathsheba during the Am- 
monitish and Syrian war, and the judgments which came upon 
his house in consequence of this sin through the wickedness of 
his sons, viz. the incest of Amnon and rebelUon of Absalom, 
and the insurrection of Sheba (ch. x.-xx.) : (4) the close of 
his reign, his song of thanksgiving for deliverance out of the 
hand of all his foes (ch. xxii.), and his last prophetic words 
concerning the just ruler in the fear of God (ch. xxiii. 1-7). 
The way is prepared for these, however, by an account of the 
expiation of Saul's massacre of the Gibeonites, and of various 
heroic acts performed by his generals during the wars with the 
Philistines (ch. xxi.) ; whilst a list of his several heroes is after- 
wards appended in ch. xxiii. 8-39, together with an account of 
the numbering of the people and consequent pestilence (ch. 
xxiv.), which is placed at the close of the work, simply because 
the punishment of this sin of David furnished the occasion 
for the erection of an altar of burnt-offering upon the site of 
the future temple. His death is not mentioned here, because 
he transferred the kingdom to his son Solomon before he died ; 
and the account of this transfer forms the introduction to the 
iiistory of Solomon in the first book of Kings, so that the close 
of David's life was most appropriately recorded there. 

So far as the character of the historical writin£p in the books 
of Samuel is concerned, there is something striking in the 
contrast which presents itself between the fulness with which 
the writer has described many events of apparently trifling 
im^portance, in connection with the lives of persons through 
whom the Lord secured the deliverance of His people and king- 
dom from their foes, and the summary brevity with which he 
disposes of the greatest enterprises of Saul and David, and the 
fierce and for the most part tedious wars with the surrounding 
nations ; so that, as Thenius says, " particular portions of the 
work differ in the most striking manner from all tlie rest, the 
one part being very brief, and written almost in the form of a 
chronicle, the other elaborate, and in one part composed with 
really biographical fulness." This peculiarity is not to be 
accounted for from the nature of the sources which the author 
had at his command ; for even if we cannot define \\\i\\ pre- 
cision the nature and extent of these sources, yet when we 
compare the accounts contained in these books of the wars 


between David and the Ammonites and Syrians with those in 
the hooks of Chronicles (2 Sam. viii, and x. with 1 Chron. xviii. 
xix.), we see clearly enough that the sources from which those 
accounts were derived embraced more than our books have 
given, since tliere are several places in which the chronicler 
gives fuller details of historical facts, the truth of which is 
universally allowed. The preparations for the building of the 
temple and the organization of the army, as well as the arrange- 
ment of the official duties of the Levites which David under- 
took, according to 1 Chron. xxii.-xxviii., in the closing years of 
his life, cannot possibly have been unknown to the author of 
our books. Moreover, there are frequent allusions in the books 
before us to events which are assumed as known, though there 
is no record of them in the writings which have been handed 
down to us, such as the removal of the tabernacle from Shiloh, 
where it stood in the time of Eli (1 Sam. i. 3, 9, etc.), to Nob, 
where David received the shewbread from the priests on his 
flight from Saul (ch. xxi. 1 sqq.) ; the massacre of the Gibeonites 
by Saul, which had to be expiated under David (2 Sam. xxi.) ; 
the banishment of the necromancers out of the land in the time 
of Saul (1 Sam. xxviil. 3) ; and the flight of the Beerothites to 
Gittaim (2 Sam. iv. 3). From this also we must conclude, that 
the author of our books knew more than he thought it necessary 
to mention in his work. But we certainly cannot infer from 
these peculiarities, as has often been done, that our books are 
to be regarded as a compilation. Such an inference as this 
simply arises from an utter disregard of the plan and object, 
which run through both books and regulate the selection and 
arrangement of the materials they contain. That the work 
has been composed upon a definite plan, is evident from the 
grouping of the historical facts, in favour of which the chrono- 
logical order generally observed in both the books has now and 
then been sacrificed. Thus, in the history of Saul and the 
account of his wars (1 Sam. xiv. 47, 48), the fact is also men- 
tioned, that he smote the Amalekites ; whereas the war itself, 
in which he smote them, is first described in detail in ch. xv., 
because it was in that war that he forfeited his kingdom 
throuffh his transfcression of the divine command, and brought 

DO . « 

about his own rejection on the part of God. The sacrifice of 
the chronological order to the material grouping of kindred 


events, is still more evident in the history of David. In 2 Sam. 
viii. all his wars with foreign nations are collected together, and 
even the wars with the Syrians and Ammonites are included, 
together with an account of the booty taken in these wars ; and 
then after this, viz. in ch. x.-xii., the war with the Ammonites 
and Syrians is more fully described, including the circum- 
stances which occasioned it, the course which it took, and 
David's adultery which occurred during this war. ]\Ioreover, 
the history of Saul, as well as that of David, is divided into two 
self-contained periods, answering indeed to the historical course 
of the reigns of these two kings, but yet so distinctly marked off 
by the historian, that not only is the turning-point distinctly 
given in both instances, viz. the rejection of Saul and the 
grievous fall of David, but each of these periods is rounded off 
with a comprehensive account of the wars, the family, and the 
state officials of the two kings (I Sam. xiv. 47-52, and 2 Sam. 
viii.). So likewise in the history of Samuel, after the victory 
which the Israelites obtained over the Philistines through his 
^prayer, everything that had to be related concerning his life 
as judge is grouped together in ch. vii. 15-17, before the 
introduction of the monarchy is described ; although Samuel 
himself lived till nearly the close of the reign of Saul, and 
not only instituted Saul as king, but afterwards announced 
his rejection, and anointed David as his successor. These com- 
prehensive accounts are anything but proofs of compilations 
from sources of different kinds, which ignorance of the pecu- 
liarities of the Semitic style of writing history has led some 
to regard them as being ; they simply serve to round off the 
different periods into which the history has been divided, and 
form resting-places for the historical review, which neither 
destroy the material connection of the several groups, nor throw 
any doubt upon the unity of the authorship of the books them- 
selves. And even where separate incidents appear to be grouped 
together, without external connection or any regard to chrono- 
logical order, on a closer inspection it is easy to discover the 
relation in which they stand to the leading purpose of the whole 
book, and the reason why they occupy this position and no 
other (see the introductory remarks to 2 Sam. ix. xxi.-xxiv.). 

If we look more closely, however, at the contents of these 
books, in order to determine their character more precisely, we 


find at the very outset, in Hannah's song of praise, a prophetic 
glance at the anointed of the Lord (eh. ii. 10), which foretells 
the establishment of the monarchy that was afterwards accom- 
plished under Saul and David. And with this there is asso- 
ciated the rise of the new name, Jehovah Sahaoth, which is 
never met with in the Pentateuch or in the books of Joshua 
and Judges ; whereas it occurs in the books before us from the 
commencement (ch. i. 3, 11, etc.) to the close. (For further 
remarks on the origin and signification of this divine name, see 
at ch. i. 3.) When Israel received a visible representative of / 
its invisible God-king in the person of an earthly monarch ; 
Jehovah, the God of Israel, became the God of the heavenly 
hosts. Through the establishment of the monarchy, the people 
of Jehovah's possession became a "world-power;" the kingdom 
of God was elevated into a kingdom of the world, as distin- 
guished from the other ungodly kingdoms of the world, which 
it was eventually to overcome in the power of its God. In this 
conflict Jehovah manifested himself as the Lord of hosts, to 
whom all the nations and kingdoms of this world were to become '< 
subject. Even in the times of Saul and David, the heathen ; 
nations were to experience a foretaste of this subjection. When 
Saul had ascended the throne of Israel, he fought against all 
his enemies round about, and extended his power in every 
direction in which he turned (ch. i. 14, 47, 48). But David 
made all the nations who bordered upon the kingdom of God 
tributary to the people of the Lord, as the Lord gave him 
victory wherever he went (ch. ii. 8, 14, 15) ; so that his son 
Solomon reigned over all the kingdoms, from the stream (the 
Euphrates) to the boundary of Egypt, and they all brought him 
presents, and were subject to him (1 Kings v. 1). But the Israel- 
itish monarchy could never thus acquire the power to secure 
for the kingdom of God a victory over all its foes, except as the 
kino; himself was diligent in his endeavours to be at all times 
simply the instrument of the God-king, and exercise his authority 
solely in the name and according to the will of Jehovah. And 
as the natural selfishness and pride of man easily made this 
concentration of the supreme earthly power in a single person 
merely an occasion for self-aggrandisement, and therefore the 
Israelitish kings were exposed to the temptation to use the 
plenary authority entrusted to them even in opposition to the 


will of God ; the Lord raised up for Himself organs of His own 
Spirit, in the persons of the prophets, to stand bj the side of 
the kings, and make known to them the will and counsel of 
God. The introduction of the monarchy was therefore pre- 
ceded "by the development of the prophetic office into a spiritual 
power in Israel, in which the kingdom was to receive not only 
a firm support to its own authority, but a strong bulwark against 
royal caprice and tyranny. Samuel was called by the Lord to 
be His prophet, to convert the nation that was sunk in idolatry 
to the Lord its God, and to revive the religious life by the 
establishment of associations of prophets, since the priests had 
failed to resist the growing apostasy of the nation, and had 
become unfaithful to their calling to instruct and establish the 
congregation in the knowledge and fear of the Lord. Even 
before the call of Samuel as a prophet, there was foretold to 
the high priest Eli by a man of God, not only the judgment that 
would fall upon the degenerate priesthood, but the appointment 
of a faithful priest, for whom the Lord would build a permanent 
house, that he might ever walk before His anointed (1 Sam. 
ii. 27-36). And the first revelation which Samuel received 
from God had reference to the fulfilment of all that the Lord 
had spoken against the house of Eli (ch. iii. 11 sqq.). The 
announcement of a faithful priest, who would walk before the 
anointed of the Lord, also contained a prediction of the estab- 
lishment of the monarchy, which foreshadowed its worth and 
great significance in relation to the further development of the 
kingdom of God. And whilst these predictions of the anointed 
of the Lord, before and in connection with the call of Samuel, 
show the deep spiritual connection which existed between the 
prophetic order and the regal office in Israel ; the insertion of 
them in these books is a proof that from the very outset the 
author had this new orrranization of the Israelitish kingdom of 

O Ö 

God before his mind, and that it was his intention not simply 
to hand down biographies of Samuel, Saul, and David, but to 
relate the history of the Old Testament kingdom of God at the 
time of its elevation out of a deep inward and outward decline 
into the full authority and power of a kingdom of the Lord, 
before which all its enemies were to be compelled to bow. 

Israel was to become a kingship of priests, i.e. a kingdom 
whose citizens were priests and kings. The Lord had announced 



tliis to the sons of Israel before the covenant was concluded at 
Sinai, as the ultimate object of their adoption as the people of 
His possession (Ex. xix. 5, 6). Now although this promise 
reached far beyond the times of the Old Covenant, and will 
only receive its perfect fulfilment in the completion of the 
kingdom of God under the New Covenant, yet it was to be 
realized even in the people of Israel so far as the economy of 
the Old Testament allowed. Israel was not only to become a 
priestly nation, but a royal nation also ; not only to be sanctified 
as a congregation of the Lord, but also to be exalted into a 
kingdom of God. The establishment of the earthly monarchy, 
therefore, was not only an eventful turning-point, but also an 
"epoch-making" advance in the development of Israel towards 
the goal set before it in its divine calling. And this advance 
became the pledge of the ultimate attainment of the goal, 
through the promise which David received from God (2 Sam. 
vii. 12-16), that the Lord would establish the throne of his 
kingdom for ever. With this promise God established for His 
anointed the eternal covenant, to which David reverted at the 
close of his reign, and upon which he rested his divine an- 
nouncement of the just ruler over men, the ruler in the fear of 
God (2 Sam. xxiii. 1—7). Thus the close of these books points 
back to their commencement. The prophecy of the pious 
mother of Samuel, that the Lord would give strength unto His 
king, and exalt the horn of His anointed (1 Sam. ii. 10), found 
a fulfilment in the kingdom of David, which was at the same 
time a pledge of the ultimate completion of the kingdom of 
God under the sceptre of the Son of David, the promised 

This is one, and in fact the most conspicuous, arrangement 
of the facts connected with the history of salvation, which 
determined the plan and composition of the work before us. 
By the side of this there is another, which does not stand out 
so prominently indeed, but yet must not be overlooked. At 
the very beginning, viz. in ch. i., the inward decay of the house 
of God under the high priest Eli is exhibited ; and in the 
announcement of the judgment upon the house of Eli, a long- 
continued oppression of the dwelling-place (of God) is foretold 
(ch. ii. 32). Then, in the further course of the narrative, not 
|only is the fulfilment of these threats pointed out, in the events 


described in 1 Sam. iv., vi. 19-vii. 2, and xxii. 11-19 ; but it 
is also shown how David first of all brought the ark of the 
covenant, about which no one had troubled himself in the time 
of Saul, out of its concealment, had a tent erected for it in the 
capital of his kingdom upon Mount Zion, and made it once 
more the central point of the worship of the congregation ; and 
how after that, when God had given him rest from his enemies, 
he wished to build a temple for the Lord to be the dwelling- 
place of His name ; and lastly, when God would not permit 
him. to carry out this resolution, but promised that his son 
would build the house of the Lord, how, towards the close of 
his reign, he consecrated the site for the future temple by build- 
ing an altar upon Mount Moriah (2 Sam. xxiv. 25). Even in 
this series of facts the end of the work points back to the be- 
ginning, so that the arrangement and composition of it accord- 
ing to a definite plan, which has been consistently carried out, 
are very apparent. If, in addition to this, we take into account 
the deep-seated connection between the building of the temple 
as designed by David, and the confirmation of his monarchy on 
the part of God as exhibited in 2 Sam. vii., we cannot fail to 
observe that the historical development of the true kingdom, 
in accordance with the nature and constitution of the Old Tes- 
tament kingdom of God, forms the leading thought and purpose 
of the work to which the name of Samuel has been attached, 
and that it was by this thought and aim that the writer was 
influenced throughout in his selection of the historical materials 
which lay before him in the sources that he employed. 

The full accounts which are given of the birth and youth 
of Samuel, and the life of David, are in the most perfect har- 
mony with this design. The lives and deeds of these two men 
of God were of significance as laying the foundation for the 
development and organization of the monarchical kingdom in 
Israel. Samuel was the model and type of the prophets ; and 
embodied in his own person the spirit and nature of the pro- 
phetic office, whilst his attitude towards Saul foreshadowed the 
position which the prophet M'as to assume in relation to the 
king. In the life of David, the Lord himself educated the 
king of His kingdom, the prince over His people, to whom He 
could continue His favour and grace even when he had fallen 
so deeply that it was necessary that he should be chastised for 


Ills sins. Thus all the separate parts and sections are fused 
too-ether as an oro;anic whole in the fundamental thouo;lit of 
the work before us. And this unity is not rendered at all 
questionable by differences such as we find in the accounts of 
the mode of Saul's death as described in 1 Sam. xxxi. 4 and, 
2 Sam. i. 9, 10, or by such repetitions as the double account of | 
the death of Samuel, and other phenomena of a similar kindj 
Avhich can be explained without difficulty ; whereas the asser- 
tion sometimes made, that there are some events of which we 
have two different accounts that contradict each other, has 
never yet been proved, and, as we shall see when we come to 
the exposition of the passages in question, has arisen partly 
from unscriptural assumptions, partly from ignorance of the 
formal peculiarities of the Hebrew mode of writing history, 
and partly from a mistaken interpretation of the passages 

With regard to the 07'igin of the books of Samuel, all that 
can be maintained with certainty is, that they were not written 
till after the division of the kingdom under Solomon's succes- 
sor. This is evident from the remark in 1 Sam. xxvii. 6, that 
^^ Ziklag pertainetJi unto the kings ofJiidah unto tJiis day." For 
although David was king over the tribe of Judah alone for 
seven years, it was not till after the falling away of the ten 
tribes from the house of David that there were really " kings 
of Judah." On the other hand, nothing can be inferred with 
certainty respecting the date of composition, either from the dis- 
tinction drawn between Israel and Judah in 1 Sam. xi. 8, xvii. 
52, xviii. 16, and 2 Sam. iii. 10, xxiv. 1, which evidently existed 
as early as the time of David, as we may see from 2 Sam. ii. 
9, 10, V. 1-5, xix. 41, XX. 2 ; or from the formula " to this day,^ 
which we find in 1 Sam. v. 5, vi. 18, xxx. 25, 2 Sam. iv. 3, 
vi. 18, xviii. 18, since the duration of the facts to which it is 
applied is altogether unknown ; or lastly, from such passages 
as 1 Sam. ix. 9, 2 Sam. xiii. 18, where explanations are given 
of expressions and customs belonging to the times of Saul and 
David, as it is quite possible that they may have been alto- 
gether changed by the time of Solomon. In general, the con- 
tents and style of the books point to the earliest times after the 
division of the kingdom ; since we find no allusions whatever to 
the decay of the kingdoms which afterwards took place, and still 


less to the captivity ; whilst the style and language are classical 
throughout, and altogether free from Chaldaisms and later 
forms, such as we meet with in the writings of the Chaldean 
period, and even in those of the time of the captivity. The 
author himself is quite unknown ; but, judging from the spirit 
of his writings, he was a prophet of the kingdom of Judah. 
It is unanimously admitted, however, that he made use of 
written documents, particularly of prophetic records made by 
persons who were contemporaries of the events described, not 
only for the history of the reigns of Saul and David, but also 
for the life and labours of Samuel, although no written sources 
are quoted, with the exception of the " book of Jasher," which 
contained the elegy of David upon Saul and Jonathan (2 Sam. 
i. 18) ; so that the sources employed by him cannot be dis- 
tinctly pointed out. The different attempts which have been 
made to determine them minutely, from the time of Eichhorn 
down to G. Em. Karo (de fontlbus lihrorum qui feruntur 
Samuelis Dissert. Berol. 1862), are lacking in the necessary 
proofs which hypotheses must bring before they can meet with 
adoption and support. If we confine ourselves to the historical 
evidence, according to 1 Chron. xxix. 29, the first and last 
acts of king David, i.e. the events of his entire reign, were 
recorded in the " dihre of Samuel the seer, of Nathan the pro- 
phet, and of Gad the seer." These prophetic writings formed 
no doubt the leading sources from which our books of Samuel 
were also drawn, since, on the one hand, apart from sundry 
deviations arising from differences in the plan and object of 
the two authors, the two accounts of the reign of David in 2 
Sam. viii.-xxiv. and 1 Chron. xi.-xxi. agree for the most part 
so thoroughly word for word, that they are generally regarded 
as extracts from one common source ; whilst, on the other hand, 
the prophets named not only lived in the time of David but 
throughout the whole of the period referred to in the books 
before us, and took a very active part in the progressive de- 
velopment of the history of those times (see not only 1 Sam. 
i.-iii. vii.-x. xii. xv. xvi., but also 1 Sam. xix. 18-24, xxii. 5, 
2 Sam. vii. 12, xxiv. 11-18). Moreover, in 1 Chron. xxvii. 
24, there are "chronicles (diaries or annals) of king David" 
mentioned, accompanied with the remark that the result of the 
census appointed by David ^-as not inserted in them, from 


which we may infer that all the principal events of his reign 
were included in these chronicles. And they may also have 
formed one of the sources for our books, although nothing cer- 
tain can be determined concerning the relation in which they 
stood to the writings of the three prophets that have been men- 
tioned. Lastly, it is very evident from the character of the 
work before us, that the author had sources composed by eye- 
witnesses of the events at his command, and that these were 
employed with an intimate knowledge of the facts and with 
historical fidelity, inasmuch as the history is distinguished by 
great perspicuity and vividness of description, by a careful 
delineation of the characters of the persons engaged, and by 
great accuracy in the accounts of localities, and of subordinate 
circumstances connected with the historical events. 



1 Sam. i.-vii. 

The call of Samuel to be the prophet and judge of Israel 
formed a turning-point in the history of the Old Testament 
kingdom of God. As the prophet of Jehovah, Samuel was to 
lead the people of Israel out of the times of the judges into 
those of the kings, and lay the foundation for a prosperous 
development of the monarchy. Consecrated like Samson as a 
Nazarite from his mother's womb, Samuel accomplished the 
deliverance of Israel out of the power of the Philistines, which 
had been only conmienced by Samson ; and that not by the 
physical might of his arm, but by the spiritual power of his word 
and prayer, with which he led Israel back from the worship 
of dead idols to the Lord its God. And whilst as one of the 
judges, among whom he classes himself in 1 Sam. xii. 11, he 
brought the office of judge to a close, and introduced the 
monarchy ; as a prophet, he laid the foundation of the pro- 
phetic office, inasmuch as he was the first to naturalize it, so 



to speak, in Israel, and develope it into a power that continued 
henceforth to exert the strongest influence, side by side with 
the priesthood and monarchy, upon the development of the 
covenant nation and kingdom of God. For even if there were 
prophets before the time of Samuel, who revealed the will of 
the Lord at times to the nation, they only appeared sporadi- 
cally, without exerting any lasting influence upon the national 
life ; whereas, from the time of Samuel onwards, the prophets 
sustained and fostered the spiritual life of the congregation, 
and were the instruments through whom the Lord made known 
His purposes to the nation and its rulers. To exhibit in its 
origin and e;rowtli the new order of things which Samuel intro- 
duced, or rather the deliverance which the Lord sent to His 
people through this servant of His, the prophetic historian goes 
back to the time of Samuel's birth, and makes us acquainted 
not only with the religious condition of the nation, but also 
with the political oppression under which it was suffering at 
the close of the period of the judges, and during the high-priest- 
hood of Eli. At the time when the pious parents of Samuel 
were going year by year to the house of God at Shiloli to 
worship and offer sacrifice before the Lord, the house of God 
was being profaned by the abominable conduct of Eli's sons 
(ch. i. ii.). When Samuel was called to be tlie prophet of 
Jehovah, Israel lost the ark of the covenant, the soul of its 
sanctuary, in the war with the Philistines (ch. iii. iv.). And 
it was not till after the nation had been rendered willing to put 
away its strange gods and worship Jehovah alone, through the 
influence of Samuel's exertions as prophet, that the faithful 
covenant God gave it, in answer to Samuel's intercession, a 
complete victory over the Philistines (ch. vii.). In accordance 
with these three prominent features, the history of the judicial 
life of Samuel may be divided into three sections, viz. : ch. i. 
ii. ; ili.-vi. ; and vii. 

Samuel's birth and dedicatiox to the lord, hannah's 

SONG OF praise. — CHAP. I.-II. 10. 

While Eli the high priest was judging Israel, and at the time 
when Samson was becrinnina; to fio;ht against the Philistines, a 
pious Israelitish woman prayed to the Lord for a son (vers 

CHAP. I. 1-8. 15 

1-18). Her prayer was heard. She bore a son, to whom she 
gave the name of Samuel, because he had been asked for from 
the Lord. As soon as lie was weaned, she dedicated him to the 
Lord for a hfelong service (vers. 19-28), and praised the Lord 
in a song of prophetic character for the favour which He had 
shown to His people through hearkening to her prayer (ch. 
ii. 1-10). 

Vers. 1—8. SamueTs pedigree. — Ver. 1. His father was a 
man of Ramathaim-Zophim, on the mountains of Ephraim, and 
named Elkanah. Ramathaim-Zcpldm, which is only mentioned 
here, is the same place, according to ver. 3 (comp, with ver. 19 
and ch. ii. 11), which is afterwards called briefly ha-RamaJi, 
i.e. the height. For since Elkanah of Ramathaim-Zophim went 
year by year out of his city to Shiloh, to worship and sacrifice 
there, and after he had done this, returned to his house to 
Ramah (ver. 19, ch. ii. 11), there can be no doubt that he was 
not only a native of Eamathaim-Zophim, but still had his home 
there ; so that Ramah, where his house was situated, is only an 
abbreviated name for Ramathaim-Zophim.^ This Ramah (which 
is invariably written with the article, ha-Ramah), where Samuel 
was not only born (vers. 19 sqq.), but lived, laboured, died 
(ch. vii. 17, XV. 34, xvi. 13, xix. 18, 19, 22, 23), and was 
buried (ch. xxv. 1, xxviii. 3), is not a different place, as has 
been frequently assumed,^ from the Ramah in Benjamin (Josh, 
xviii. 25), and is not to be sought for in Ramleh near Joppa 
(v. Schubert, etc.), nor in Soba on the north-west of Jerusalem 
(Robinson, Pal. ii. p. 329), nor three-quarters of an hour to the 
north of Hebron (Wolcott, v. de Velde), nor anywhere else in 
the tribe of Ephraim, but is identical with Ramah of Benjamin, 

^ The argument lately adduced by Valentiner in favour of the difference 
between these two names, viz. that " examples are not wanting of a person 
being described according to his original descent, although his dwelling- 
place had been already changed," and the instance which he cites, viz. 
Judg. xix. 16, show that he has overlooked the fact, that in the very pas- 
sage which he quotes the temporary dwelling-place is actually mentioned 
along with the native town. In the case before us, on the contrary, 
Ramathaim-Zophim is designated, by the use of the expression " from his 
city," in ver. 3, as the place where Elkanah lived, and where " his house" 
(ver. 19) was still standing. 

2 For the different views which have been held upon this point, see the 
article " Ramah," by Pressel, in Herzog's Cyclopxdia. 


and was situated upon the site of the present village of er-Räm. 
two hours to the north-west of Jerusalem, upon a conical 
mountain to the east of the Nablus road (see at Josh, xviii. 25). 
This, supposition is neither at variance with the account in ch, 
ix. X. (see the commentary upon these chapters), nor with the 
statement that Eamathaim-Zophim was upon the mountains of 
Ephraim, since the mountains of Ephraim extended into the 
tribe-territory of Benjamin, as is indisputably evident from 
Judg. iv. 5, where Deborah the prophetess is said to have dwelt 
between Ramah and Bethel in the mountains of Ephraim. 
The name Ramathaim-Zophim, i.e. " the two heights (of the) 
Zophites," appears to have been given to the town to distinguish 
it from other Ramahs, and to have been derived from the 
Levitical . family of Zuph or Zophai (see 1 Chron. vi. 26, 35), 
which emigrated thither from the tribe of Ephraim, and from 
which Elkanah was descended. The full name, therefore, is 
given here, in the account of the descent of Samuel's father ; 
whereas in the further history of Samuel, where there was no 
longer the same reason for giving it, the simple name Raraali 
is invariably used.^ The connection between Zophim and Zuph 
is confirmed by the fact that Elkanah's ancestor, Zuph, is called 
Zophai in 1 Chron. vi. 26, and Zuph or Zipli in 1 Chron. vi. 
35. Zophim therefore signifies the descendants of Zuph or 
Zophai, from which the name " land of Zuph," in ch. ix. 5, 
was also derived (see the commentary on this passage). The 
tracing back of Elkanah's family through four generations to 
Zuph agrees with the family registers in 1 Chron. vi., where 
the ancestors of Elkanah are mentioned twice, — first of all in 
the genealogy of the Kohathites (ver. 2G), and then in that 
of Ileman, the leader of the singers, a grandson of Samuel (ver. 

^ The fuller and more exact name, however, appears to have been still 
retained, and the use of it to have been revived after the captivity, in the 
'Fxfixöi/it. of 1 Mace. xi. 34, for -which the Codd. have Pocöa/xstu and 
' Px/u,cii6a'i]u,, and Josephus 'P«^«^«, and in the Arinaathsea of the gospel 
history (Matt, xxvii. 57). " For the opinion that this Ramathaim is a 
different place from the city of Samuel, and is to be sought for in the 
neighbourhood of Lydda, which Robinson advocates (Pal. iii. pp. 41 sqq.), 
is a hasty conclusion, drawn from the association of Ramathaim with Lydda 
in 1 Mace. xi. 34, — the very same conclusion which led the author of the 
Omrriasiicon to transfer th.e city of Samuel to the neighbourhood of Lydda" 
(Grimm on 1 Mace. xi. 34). 

CHAP. I. 1-8. 17 

33), — except that the names Elihu, Tohu, and Zuph, are given 
as Eliab, Nahath, and Zophai in the first instance, and Eliel, 
Toah, and Ziph (according to the Chethihli) in the second, — 
various readings, such as often occur in the different genealo- 
gies, and are to be explained partly from the use of different 
forms for the same name, and partly from their synonymous 
meanings. Toliu and Toah, which occur in Arabic, with the 
meaning to press or sink in, are related in meaning to nachath 
or nuach, to sink or settle down. From these genealogies in 
the Chronicles, we learn that Samuel was descended from 
Kohath, the son of Levi, and therefore was a Levite. It is no 
valid objection to the correctness of this view, that his Levitical 
descent is never mentioned, or that Elkanah is called an Ephra- 
thite. The former of these can very easily be explained from 
the fact, that Samuel's work as a reformer, which is described 
in this book, did not rest upon his Levitical descent, but simply 
upon the call which he had received from God, as the pro- 
phetic office was not confined to any particular class, like that 
of priest, but was founded exclusively upon the divine calling 
and endowment with the Spirit of God. And the difficulty 
which Nägelsbach expresses in Herzog's Cycl., viz, that " as it 
was stated of those two Levites (Judg. xvii. 7, xix. 1), that they 
lived in Bethlehem and Ephraim, but only after they had been 
expressly described as Levites, we should have expected to find 
the same in the case of Samuel's father," is removed by the 
simple fact, that in the case of both those Levites it was of 
great importance, so far as the accounts which are given of 
them are concerned, that their Levitical standing should be 
distinctly mentioned, as is clearly shown by Judg. xvii. 10, 13, 
and xix. 18 ; whereas in the case of Samuel, as we have already 
observed, his Levitical descent had no bearing upon the call 
which he received from the Lord. The word Ephrathite does' 
not belong, so far as the grammatical construction is concerned, 
either to Ziiph or Elkanah, but to " a certain ma7i," the subject 
of the principal clause, and signifies an Ephraimite, as in Judg. 
xii, 5 and 1 Kings xi. 26, and not an inhabitant of Ephratah, 
i.e. a Bethlehemite, as in ch. xvii. 12 and Ruth i. 2 ; for in 
both these passages the word is more precisely defined by the 
addition of the expression " of Bethlehem-Judah," whereas in 
this verse the explanation is to be found in the expression " of 



Mount Ephraim." Elkanah the Levite is called an Ephraimite, 
because, so far as his civil standing was concerned, he belonged 
to the tribe of Ephraim, just as the Levite in Judg. xvii. 7 is 
described as belonging to the family of Judah. The Levites 
were reckoned as belonging to those tribes in the midst of which 
they lived, so that there were Judgean Levites, Ephraimitish 
Levites, and so on (see Hengstenberg, Diss. vol. ii. p. 50). It 
by no means follows, however, from the application of this term 
to Elkanah, that Eamathaim-Zophim formed part of the tribe- 
territpry of Ephraim, but simply that Elkanah's family was 
incorporated in this tribe, and did not remove till afterwards to 
Ramah in the tribe of Benjamin. On the division of the land, 
dwelling-places were allotted to the Levites of the family of 
Kohath, in the tribes of Ephraim, Dan, and Manasseh (Josh, 
xxi. 5, 21 sqq.). Still less is there anything at variance with 
the Levitical descent of Samuel, as Thenius maintains, in the 
fact that he was dedicated to the Lord by his mother's vow , 
for he was not dedicated to the service of Jehovah generally 
through this vow, but was set apart to a lifelong service at the 
house of God as a Nazarite (vers. 11, 22) ; whereas other Levites 
were not required to serve till their twenty-fifth year, and even 
then had not to perform an uninterrupted service at the sanc- 
tuary. On the other hand, the Levitical descent of Samuel 
receives a very strong confirmation from his father's name. All 
the Elkanahs that we meet with in the Old Testament, with 
the exception of the one mentioned in 2 Chron. xxviii. 7, whose 
genealogy is unknown, can be proved to have been Levites; and 
most of them belong to the family of Korah, from which Samuel 
was also descended (see Simonis, Onomast. p. 493). This is no 
doubt connected in some way with the meaning of the name 
Elkanah, the man whom God has bought or acquired ; since such 
a name was peculiarly suitable to the Levites, whom the Lord 
had set apart for service at the sanctuary, in the place of the 
first-born of Israel, whom He had sanctified to himself when 
He smote the first-born of Egypt (Num. iii. 13 sqq., 44 sqq. ; see 
Hengstenberg, ut sup.). — Vers. 2, 3. Elkanah had two wives, 
Hannah (grace or gracefulness) and Peninnah (coral), the 
latter of whom was blessed with children, whereas the first was 
childless. He went with his wives year by year ('"'ö''»^ '^"'9'^j 
as in Ex. xiii. 10, Judg. xi. 40), according to the instructions 

CHAP. I. 1-8. 19 

of the law (Ex. xxxiv. 23, Deut. xvi. 16), to the tabernacle 
at Shiloh (Josh, xviii. 1), to worship and sacrifice to the Lord 
of hosts. ^^ Jehovah Zebaoth^' is an abbreviation of '^Jehovah 
Elohe Zehaoth,'^ or riiJ522;n \ipx nin"; ; and the connection of 
Zehaoth with Jehovah is not to be regarded as the construct 
state, nor is Zebaoth to be taken as a genitive dependent upon 
Jehovah. This is not only confirmed by the occurrence of such 
expressions as " Elohim Zebaoth" (Ps. lix. 6, Ixxx. 5, 8, 15, 20, 
Ixxxiv. 9) and " Adonai Zebaoth" (Isa. x. 16), but also by the 
circumstance that Jehovah, as a proper name, cannot be con- 
strued with a genitive. The combination " Jehovah Zebaoth" 
is rather to be taken as an ellipsis, where the general term Elohe 
(God of), which is implied in the word Jehovah, is to be sup- 
plied in thought (see Hengstenberg, Christol. i. p. 375, English 
translation) ; for frequently as this expression occurs, especially 
in the case of the prophets, Zebaoth is never used alone in the 
Old Testament as one of the names of God. It is in the Sep- 
tuagint that the word is first met with occasionally as a proper 
name {Saßacoö), viz. throughout the whole of the first book of 
Samuel, very frequently in Isaiah, and also in Zech. xiii. 2. 
In other passages, the word is translated either Kvpio^, or 6eo^ 
roiv Buvd/xeoov, or TravTotcpdrcop ; whilst the other Greek versions 
use the more definite phrase Kvpio^ aTpariSiv instead. 

This expression, which was not used as a divine name until 
the age of Samuel, had its roots in Gen. ii. 1, although the title 
itself was unknown in the Mosaic period, and during the times 
of the judges (see p. 7). It represented Jehovah as ruler over 
the heavenly hosts (i.e. the angels, according to Gen. xxxii. 2, 
and the stars, according to Isa. xl. 26), who are called the 
" armies" of Jehovah in Ps. ciii. 21, cxlviii. 2 ; but we are not 
to understand it as implying that the stars were supposed to be 
inhabited by angels, as Gesenius {Thes. s. v.) maintains, since 
there is not the slightest trace of any such notion in the whole 
of the Old Testament. It is simply applied to Jehovah as the 
God of the universe, who governs all the powers of heaven, 
both visible and invisible, as He rules in heaven and on earth. 
It cannot even be proved that the epithet Lord, or God of 
Zebaoth, refers chiefly and generally to the sun, moon, and 
stars, on account of their being so peculiarly adapted, through 
their visible splendour, to keep alive the consciousness of the 


omnipotence and gloiy of God (Hengstenberg on Ps. xxiv. 10). 
For even though the expression C3X3y (their host), in Gen. ii. 1, 
refers to the heavens only, since it is only to the heavens {yid. 
Isa. xl. 26), and never to the earth, that a " host" is ascribed, and 
in this particular passage it is probably only the stars that are 
to be thought of, the creation of which had already been men- 
tioned in Gen. i. 14 sqq. ; yet we find the idea of an army of 
angels introduced in the history of Jacob (Gen. xxxii. 2, 3), 
where Jacob calls the angels of God who appeared to him the 
" camp of God," and also in the blessing of Moses (Deut. 
xxxiii. 2), where the " ten thousands of saints" (Kodesh) are 
not stai's, but angels, or heavenly spirits ; whereas the fighting 
of the stars against Sisera in the song of Deborah probably 
refers to a natural phenomenon, by which God had thrown the 
enemy into confusion, and smitten them before the Israelites 
(see at Judg. v. 20). We must also bear in mind, that whilst 
an the one hand the tribes of Israel, as they came out of Egypt, 
are called Zebaoth Jehovah, " the hosts of Jehovah" (Ex. vii. 4, 
xii. 41), on the other hand the angel of the Lord, when appear- 
ing in front of Jericho in the form of a warrior, made himself 
known to Joshua as " the prince of the army of Jehovah," 
i.e. of the angelic hosts. And it is in this appearance of the 
heavenly leader of the people of God to the earthly leader of 
the hosts of Israel, as the prince of the angelic hosts, not only 
promising him the conquest of Jericho, but through the mira- 
culous overthrow of the walls of this strong bulwark of the 
Canaanitish power, actually giving him at the same time a prac- 
tical proof that the prince of the angelic hosts was fighting for 
Israel, that we have the material basis upon which the divine 
epithet " Jehovah God of hosts" was founded, even though it 
was not introduced immediately, but only at a later period, 
when the Lord began to form His people Israel into a kingdom, 
by which all the kingdoms of the heathen were to be overcome. 
It is certainly not without significance that this title is given 
to God for the first time in these books, which contain an 
account of the founding of the kingdom, and (as Auberlen has 
observed) that it was by Samuel's mother, the pious Hannah, 
when dedicating her son to the Lord, and prophesying of the 
king and anointed of the Lord in her song of praise (ch. ii. 10), 
that this name was employed for the first time, and that God 

CHAP. I. 1-8. 21 

was addressed in prayer as "Jehovah of hosts" (ver. 11). 
Consequently, if this name of God goes hand in hand with the 
prophetic announcement and the actual establishment of the 
monarchy in Israel, its origin cannot be attributed to any anta- 
gonism to Sabseism, or to the hostility of pious Israelites to the 
worship of the stars, which was gaining increasing ground in 
the age of David, as Hengstenberg (on Ps. xxiv. 10) and 
Strauss (on Zeph. ii. 9) maintain ; to say nothing of the fact, 
that there is no historical foundation for such an assumption 
at all. It is a much more natural supposition, that when the 
invisible sovereignty of Jehovah received a visible manifesta- 
tion in the establishment of the earthly monarchy, the sove- 
reignty of Jehovah, if it did possess and was to possess any 
reality at all, necessarily claimed to be recognised in its all- 
embracing power and glory, and that in the title " God of (the 
heavenly) hosts" the fitting expression was formed for the 
universal government of the God-king of Israel, — a title which 
not only served as a bulwark against any eclipsing of the 
invisible sovereignty of God by the earthly monarchy in 
Israel, but overthrew the vain delusion of the heathen, that the 
God of Israel was simply the national deity of that particular 

The remark introduced in ver. 35, " and there were the tioo 
sons of Eli, Ilophni and Phinehas, priests of the Lord" i.e. 
performing the duties of the priesthood, serves as a preparation 
for what follows. This reason for the remark sufficiently 
explains why the sons of Eli only are mentioned here, and not 
Eli himself, since, although the latter still presided over the 
sanctuary as high priest, he was too old to perform the duties 
connected with the offering of sacrifice. The addition made by 
the LXX., 'H\l Koi, is an arbitrary interpolation, occasioned 
by a misapprehension of the reason for mentioning the sons 
of Eli. — Vers. 4, 5. " And it came to pass, the day, and he 

^ This name of God was therefore held up before the people of the 
Lord even in their war-songs and paeans of victory, but still more by the 
prophets, as a banner under which Israel was to fight and to conquer the 
world. Ezekiel is the only prophet who does not use it, simply because he 
follows the Pentateuch so strictly in his style. And it is not met with in 
the book of Job, just because the theocratic constitution of the Israelitish 
nation is never referred to in the problem of that book. 


offered sacrifice" (for, "on which he offered sacrifice"), that 
he gave to Peninnah and her children portions of the flesh of 
the sacrifice at the sacrificial meal ; but to Hannah he gave 
D"|öN.nns njDj "one portion for hi'o persons,^* i.e. a double 
portion, because he loved her, but Jehovah had shut up her 
womb : i.e. he gave it as an expression of his love to her, to 
indicate by a sign, " thou art as dear to me as if thou hadst 
born me a child" (0. v. Gerlach). This explanation of the 
difficult word ^1^^, of which very different interpretations 
have been given, is the one adopted by Tanchum Hieros., and 
is the only one which can be grammatically sustained, or yields 
an appropriate sense. The meaning face {fades) is placed 
beyond all doubt by Gen. iii. 19 and other passages ; and 
the use of ""Si^p as a synonym for ''JQp in ch. xxv. 23, also 
establishes the meaning " person," since D"'33 is used in this 
sense in 2 Sam. xvii. 11. It is true that there are no other 
passages that can be adduced to prove that the singular ^^ was 
also used in this sense ; but as the word was employed promis- 
cuously in both singular and plural in the derivative sense of 
anger, there is no reason for denying that the singular may also 
have been employed in the sense of face (TrpoacoTrov). The 
combination of D^Si< with rins n:o in the absolute state is sup- 
ported by many other examples of the same kind (see Ewald, 
§ 287, h). The meaning double has been correctly adopted in 
the Syriac, whereas Luther follows the tristis of the Vulgate, 
and renders the word traurig, or sad. But this -meaning, which 
Fr. Böttcher has lately taken under his protection, cannot be 
philologically sustained either by the expression ^"'^Q vD3 (Gen. 
iv. 6), or by Dan. xi. 20, or in any other way. ^{< and D^S5< 
do indeed signify anger, but anger and sadness are two very 
different ideas. But when Böttcher substitutes " angrily or 
unwillingly" for sadly, the incongruity strikes you at once: 
"he gave her a portion unwillingly, because he loved her!" 
For the custom of singling out a person by giving double or 
even large portions, see the remarks on Gen. xliii. 34. — Ver. 6. 
" And her adversary (Peninnah) also provoked her with provo^ 
cation, to irritate herT The DS is placed before the noun 
belonging to the verb, to add force to the meaning. DJ?"] 
{Hiphil), to excite, put into (inward) commotion, not exactly to 
make angry. — Ver. 7. " So did he (Elkanah) from year to year 

CHAP. I. 9-18. 23 

(namely give to Hannah a double portion at the sacrificial 
ineal), as often as she loent up to the house of the Lord. So did 
she (Peninnah) provoke her (Hannah), so that she wept, and did 
not eat." The two )3 correspond to one another. Just as 
Elkanah showed his love to Hannah at every sacrificial festival, 
so did Peninnah repeat her provocation, the effect of which 
was that Hannah gave vent to her grief in tears, and did not 
eat. — Ver. 8. Elkanah sought to comfort her in her grief by 
the affectionate appeal: '^ Am I not better to thee (niLD, i.e. 
dearer) than ten children?" Ten is a round number for a large 

Vers. 9-18. HannaNs prayer for a son. — Vers. 9-11. 
" After the eating at Shiloh, and after the drinking" i.e. after 
the sacrificial meal was over, Hannah rose up with a troubled 
heart, to pour out her grief in prayer before God, whilst Eli 
was sitting before the door-posts of the palace of Jehovah, 
and vowed this vow : " Lord of Zebaoth, if Thou regardest the 
distress of Thy maiden, and givest men's seed to Thy maiden, I 
will give him to the Lord all his life long, and no razor shall 
come upon his head." The choice of the infinitive absolute 
nhK^ instead of the infinitive construct is analogous to the com- 
bination of two nouns, the first of which is defined by a suffix, 
and the second written absolutely (see e.g. ri"iop ""^y, Ex. xv. 2 ; 
cf. 2 Sam. xxiii. 5, and Ewald, § 339, b). The words from yV] 
onwards to t^DJ nno form two circumstantial clauses inserted in 
the main sentence, to throw light upon the situation and the 
further progress of the affair. The tabernacle is called " the 
palace of Jehovah " (cf. ch. ii. 22), not on account of the 
magnificence and splendour of the building, but as the dwelling- 
place of Jehovah of hosts, the God-king of Israel, as in Ps. v. 
8, etc. nnro is probably a porch, which had been placed before 
the curtain that formed the entrance into the holy place, when 
the tabernacle was erected permanently at Shiloh. JJ'Sj) fllO, 
troubled in soul (cf. 2 Kings iv. 27). nsan nbni is really 
subordinate to <?snri, in the sense of " weeping much during 
her prayer." The depth of her trouble was also manifest in 
the crowding together of the words in which she poured out 
the desire of her heart before God : " If Thou wilt look upon 
the distress of Thine handmaid, and remember and not forget^^ 
etc. "Mens seed" (semen viroruni), i.e. a male child. D^J?* 


is the plural of ^''i^, a man (see Ewald, § 186-7), from the root 
^a, which combines the two ideas of fire, regarded as life, 
and giving life and firmness. The vow contained two points : 
(1) she would give the son she had prayed for to be the Lord's 
all the days of his life, i.e. would dedicate him to the Lord for 
a lifelong service, which, as we have already observed at p. 18, 
the Levites as such were not bound to perform ; and (2) no 
razor should come upon his head, by w^hich he was set apart as 
a Nazarite for his whole life (see at Num. vi. 2 sqq., and Judg. 
xlii. 5). The Nazarite, again, was neither bound to perform a 
lifelong service nor to remain constantly at the sanctuary, but 
was simply consecrated for a certain time, whilst the sacrifice 
offered at his release from the vow shadowed forth a complete 
surrender to the Lord. The second point, therefore, added a 
new condition to the first, and one which was not necessarily 
connected with it, but which first gave the true consecration to 
the service of the Lord at the sanctuary. At the same time, 
the qualification of Samuel for priestly functions, such as the 
offering of sacrifice, can neither be deduced from the first point 
in the vow, nor yet from the second. If, therefore, at a later 
period, when the Lord had called him to be a prophet, and had 
thereby placed him at the head of the nation, Samuel officiated 
at the presentation of sacrifice, he was not qualified to perform 
this service either as a Levite or as a lifelong Nazarite, but 
performed it solely by virtue of his prophetic calling. — Vers. 
12-14. But when Hannah prayed much (i.e. a long time) 
before tlie Lord, and Eli noticed her mouth, and, as she was 
praying inwardly, only saw her lips move, but did not hear her 
voice, he thought she was drunken, and called out to her : 
" IIoiu long dost thou show thyself drunken ? put away thy wine 
from thee," i.e. go away and sleep off thine intoxication (cf. ch. 
XXV. 37). nap ^J? ri"]3*ipj lit. speaking to her heart. pV is not 
to be confounded with ^^ (Gen. xxiv. 45), but has the subordi- 
nate idea of a comforting addi'ess, as in Gen. xxxiv. 3, etc. — 
Vers. 15, 16. Hannah answered: "i\'o, my lord, lama woman 
of an oppressed spirit. I have not drunk wine and strong drinh, 
hut have poured out my soid before the Lord (see Ps. xlii. 5). 
Do not count thine handmaid for a loorthless woman, for I have 
spoken hitherto out of great sighing and grief' ''J?p P^, to set 
or lay before a person, i.e. generally to give a person up to 

CHAP. I. 19-28. 25 

another ; here to place him in thought in the position of 
another, i.e. to take him for another. ^'''^, meditation, inward 
movement of the heart, sighing. — Ver. 17. Eli then replied : 
" Go in peace, and the God of Israel give (grant) thy request 
(y^TO^} for ^n^^^"), which thou hast asked of Himr This word 
of the high priest was not a prediction, but a pious wish, which 
God in Plis grace most gloriously fultilled. — Ver. 18. Plannah 
then went her way, saying, " het thine handmaid find grace in 
thine eyes^^ i.e. let me be honoured with thy favour and thine 
intercession, and was strengthened and comforted by the word 
of the high priest, which assured her that her prayer would be 
heard by God ; and she did eat, " and her countenance icas no 
more^^ sc. troubled and sad, as it had been before. This may 
be readily supplied from the context, through which the word 
countenance (^"'•?7') acquires the sense of a troubled countenance, 
as in Job ix. 27. 

Vers. 19—28. SamueFs birth, and dedication to the Lord. — 
Vers. 19, 20. The next morning Elkanah returned home to 
Ramah (see at ver. 1) with his two wives, having first of all 
worshipped before the Lord ; after which he knew his wife 
Hannah, and Jehovah remembered her, i.e. heard her prayer. 
" In the revolution of the days," i.e. of the period of her concep- 
tion and pregnancy, Hannah conceived and bare a son, whom 
she called Samuel; "for (she said) I have asked him of the Lord." 
The name ^N^OE?' {^af^ovr^X, LXX.) is not formed from ^r2^=Ü^ 
and ^S, name of God (Ges. Thes. p. 1434), but from hii j;^»tp, 
hea7'd of God, a Deo exauditus, with an elision of the j; (see 
Ewald, § 275, a. Not. 3) ; and the words " because I have asked 
him of the Lord^^ are not an etymological explanation of the 
name, but an exposition founded upon the facts. Because 
Hannah had asked him of Jehovah, she gave him the name, 
" the God-he<ifd" as a memorial of the hearing of her prayer. — 
Vers. 21, 22. When Elkanah went up again with his family to 
Shiloh, to present his yearly sacrifice and his vow to the Lord, 
Hannah said to her husband that she would not go up till she 
had weaned the boy, and could present him to the Lord, that 
he might remain there for ever. Q^p*n HIT, the sacrifice of the 
days, i.e. which he was accustomed to offer on the days when he 
went up to the sanctuary ; really, therefore, the annual sacrifice. 
It follows from the expression " and his vow^' that Elkanah 


had also vowed a vow to the Lord, in case the beloved Hannah 
should have a son. The vow referred to the presentation of a 
sacrifice. And this explains the combination of i'^ir^^ "^vitli 
nap.^ Weaning took place very late among the Israelites. 
According to 2 Mace. vii. 28, the Hebrew mothers were in the 
habit of suckling their children for three years. When the 
weaning had taken place, Hannah would bring her son up to 
the sanctuary, to appear before the face of the Lord, and re- 
main there for ever, i.e. his whole life long. The Levites gene- 
rally were only required to perform service at the sanctuary 
from their twenty-fifth to their fiftieth year (Num. viii. 24, 25) ; 
but Samuel was to be presented to the Lord immediately after 
his weaning had taken place, and to remain at the sanctuary for 
ever, i.e. to belong entirely to the Lord. To this end he was 
to receive his training at the sanctuary, that at the very earliest 
waking up of his spiritual susceptibilities he might receive the 
impressions of the sacred presence of God. There is no neces- 
sity, therefore, to understand the word ?^3 (wean) as including 
what followed the weaning, namely, the training of the child up to 

^ The LXX. add to rctg evx^? »vrou the clause xoil Trxumg nils Zskxtccs 
rijj yyjg cavtov (" and all the tithes of his land"). This addition is just as 
arbitrary as the alteration of the singular ill] into the plural rxg ivx°<-i a.vrw. 
The translator overlooked the special reference of the word imj to the child 
desired by Elkanah, and imagined — probably with Deut. xii. 26, 27 in his 
mind, where vows are ordered to be paid at the sanctuary in connection 
with slain offerings and sacrificial meals — that when Elkanah made his 
annual journey to the tabernacle he would discharge all his obligations to 
God, and consequently would pay his tithes. The genuineness of this addi- 
tional clause cannot be sustained by an appeal to Josephus {^Ant. v. 10, 3), 
who also has Ss»«t«s ts 'i(pi^ov^ for Josephus wrote his work upon the basis 
of the Alexandrian version. This statement of Josephus is only worthy of 
notice, inasmuch as it proves the incorrectness of the conjecture of Thenius, 
that the allusion to the tithes was intentionally dropped out of the Hebrew 
text by copyists, who regarded Samuel's Levitical descent as clearly estab- 
lished by 1 Chron. vi. 7-13 and 19-21. For Josephus (Z. c. § 2) expressly 
describes Elkanah as a Levite, and takes no offence at the offering of tithes 
attributed to him in the Septuagint, simply because he was well acquainted 
with the law, and knew that the Levites had to pay to the priests a tenth 
of the tithes that they received from the other tribes, as a heave-offering 
of Jehovah (Num. xviii. 26 sqq. ; cf. Neh. x. 38). Consequently the pre- 
eentation of tithe on the part of Elkanah, if it were really well founded 
in the biblical text, would not furnish any argument against his Levitical 

CHAP. I. 19-28, 27 

Ills thirteenth year (Seb. Schmidt), on the ground that a child 
of three years old could only have been a burden to Eli : for 
the word never has this meaning, not even in 1 Kings xi. 20 ; 
and, as O. v, Gerlach has observed, his earliest training might 
have been superintended by one of the women who worshipped 
at the door of the tabernacle (ch. ii. 22). — Ver. 23. Elkanah 
expressed his approval of Hannah's decision, and added, " only 
the Lord establish His word" i.e. fulfil it. By " His word " we 
are not to understand some direct revelation from God respect- 
ing the birth and destination of Samuel, as the Rabbins suppose, 
but in all probability the word of Eli the high priest to Hannah, 
" The God of Israel grant thy petition " (ver. 17), which might 
be regarded by the parents of Samuel after his birth as a pro- 
mise from Jehovah himself, and therefore miglit naturally 
excite the wish and suggest the prayer that the Lord would 
graciously fulfil the further hopes, which the parents cherished 
in relation to the son whom they had dedicated to the Lord by 
a vow. The paraphrase of i"i3"i in the rendering given by the 
LXX., TO e^eKÖov e/c tov arofxaTO'i aov, is the subjective view 
of the translator himself, and does not warrant an emendation of 
the original text. — Vers. 24, 25. As soon as the boy was weaned, 
Hannah brought him, although still a "1^3, i.e. a tender boy, to 
Shiloh, with a sacrifice of three oxen, an ephah of meal, and a 
pitcher of wine, and gave him up to Eli when the ox (bullock) 
had been slain, i.e. offered in sacrifice as a burnt-offering. The 
striking circumstance that, according to ver. 24, Samuel's 
parents brought three oxen with them to Shiloh, and yet in 
ver. 25 the ox ("isn) alone is spoken of as being slain (or sacri- 
ficed), may be explained very simply on the supposition that in 
ver. 25 that particular sacrifice is referred to, which was asso- 
ciated with the presentation of the boy, that is to say, the burnt- 
offering by virtue of which the boy was consecrated to the Lord 
as a spiritual sacrifice for a lifelong service at His sanctuary, 
whereas the other two oxen served as the yearly festal offering, 
i.e. the burnt-offerings and thank-offerings which Elkanah pre 
sented year by year, and the presentation of which the writer 
did not think it needful to mention, simply because it followed 
partly from ver. 3 and partly from the Mosaic law.^ — Vers. 
^ The interpretation of niy^'^ D''"I23 by £" fio<rxv r^ieri^ovri (LXX.), 
upon -which Thenius would found an alteration of the text, is proved to be 


26-28. When the boy was presented, his mother made herself 
known to the high priest as the woman who had previously 
prayed to the Lord at that place (see vers. 11 sqq.), and said, 
" For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath granted me my re- 
quest lohich T asked of Him : therefore I also make him one asked 
of the Lord all the days that he liveth ; he is asked of the Lord^ 
■•aliS DJ1 : / also ; et ego vicissim (Cler.). ''"''5^'!', to let a person 
ask, to grant his request, to give him what he asks (Ex. xii. 36), 
signifies here to make a person " asked " (?1XC*). The meaning 
to lend, which the lexicons give to the word both here and Ex. 
xii. 36, has no other support than the false rendering of the 
LXX.,and is altogether unsuitable both in the one and the other. 
Jehovah had not lent the son to Hannah, but had given him (see 
ver. 11); still less could a man leJid his son to the Lord. The last 
clause of ver. 28, " and he worshipped the Lord there^^ refers to 
Elkanah, qui in votum HanncB consenserat, and not to Samuel. 
On a superficial glance, the plural IIHI'ti'^, which is found in 
some Codd., and in the Vulgate, Syriac, and Arabic, appears 
the more suitable ; but when we look more closely at the con- 
nection in which the clause stands, we see at once that it does 
not wind up the foregoing account, but simply introduces the 
closing act of the transference of Samuel. Consequently the 
singular is perfectly appropriate ; and notwithstanding the fact 
that the subject is not mentioned, the allusion to Samuel is 
placed beyond all doubt. When Hannah had given up her son 
to the high priest, his father Elkanah first of all worshipped 
before the Lord in the sanctuary, and then Hannah worshipped 
in the song of praise, which follows in ch. ii. 1-10. 

both arbitrary and wrong by the fact that the translators themselves after- 
wards mention the 6vaia,, which Elkanah brought year by year, and the 
(Aoaxo;., and consequently represent him as offering at least two animals, 
in direct opposition to the ^oa^v r^nTt^ovTt. This discrepancy cannot be 
removed by the assertion that in ver. 24 the sacrificial animal intended for 
the dedication of the boy is the only one mentioned ; and the presentation of 
the regular festal sacrifice is taken for granted, for an ephah of meal would 
not be the proper quantity to be offered in connection with a single ox, 
since, according to the law in Num. xv. 8, 9, only three-tenths of an 
ephah of meal were required when an ox was presented as a burnt-oifering 
or slain offering. The presentation of an ephah of meal presupposes the 
offering of three oxen, and therefore shows that in ver. 24 the materials 
are mentioned for all the sacrifices that Elkanah was about to offer. 

CHAP. IL 1-10. 29 

Chap. ii. 1-10. Hannalis song of praise. — The prayer in 
which Hannah poured out the feelings of her heart, after the 
dedication of her son to the Lord, is a song of praise of a pro- 
phetic and Messianic character. After giving utterance in the 
introduction to the rejoicing and exulting of her soul at the 
salvation that had reached her (ver. 1), she praises the Lord as 
the only holy One, the only rock of the righteous, who rules 
on earth with omniscience and righteousness, brings down the 
proud and lofty, kills and makes alive, maketh poor and 
maketh rich (vers. 2-8). She then closes with the confident 
assurance that He will keep His saints, and cast down the re- 
bellious, and will judge the ends of the earth, and exalt the 
power of His king (vers. 9, 10). 

This psalm is the matui'e fruit of the Spirit of God. The 
pious woman, who had gone with all the earnest longings of a 
mother's heart to pray to the Lord God of Israel for a son, 
that she might consecrate him to the lifelong service of the 
Lord, " discerned in her own individual experience the general 
laws of the divine economy, and its signification in relation to 
the whole history of the kingdom of God" (Auberlen, p. 564). 
The experience which she, bowed down and oppressed as she 
was, had had of the gracious government of the omniscient 
and holy covenant God, was a pledge to her of the gracious 
way in which the nation itself was led by God, and a sign by 
which she discerned how God not only delivered at all times 
the poor and wretched who trusted in Him out of their poverty 
and distress, and set them up, but would also lift up and 
glorify His whole nation, which was at that time so deeply 
bowed down and oppressed by its foes. Acquainted as she 
was with the destination of Israel to be a kingdom, from the 
promises which God had given to the patriarchs, and filled as 
she was with the longing that had been awakened in the nation 
for the realization of these promises, she could see in spirit, and 
through the inspiration of God, the king whom the Lord was 
about to give to His people, and through whom He would raise 
it up to might and dominion. 

The refusal of modern critics to admit the genuineness of 
this song is founded upon an a priori and utter denial of the 
supernatural saving revelations of God, and upon a conse- 
quent inability to discern the prophetic illumination of the pioua 


Hannah, and a complete misinterpretation of the contents of 
her song of praise. The "proud and lofty," whom God humbles 
and casts down, are not the heathen or the national foes of 
Israel, and the " poor and wretched " whom He exalts and 
makes rich are not the Israelites as such ; but the former are 
the ungodly, and the latter the pious, in Israel itself. And the 
description is so well sustained throughout, that it is only by 
the most arbitrary criticism that it can be interpreted as refer- 
ring to definite historical events, such as the victory of David 
over Goliath (Thenius), or a victory of the Israelites over 
heathen nations (Ewald and others). Still less can any argu- 
ment be drawn from the words of the song in support of its 
later origin, or its composition by David or one of the earliest 
of the kings of Israel. On the contrary, not only is its genuine- 
ness supported by the general consideration that the author of 
these books would never have ascribed a song to Hannah, if he 
had not found it in the sources he employed ; but still more 
decisively by the circumstance that the songs of praise of Mary 
and Zechariah, in Luke i. 46 sqq. and 68 sqq., show, through 
the manner in which they rest upon this ode, in what way it 
was understood by the pious Israelites of every age, and how, 
like the pious Hannah, they recognised and praised in their 
own individual experience the government of the holy God in 
the midst of His kingdom. 

The first verse forms the introduction to the song. Holy 
joy in the Lord at the blessing which she had received impelled 
the favoured mother to the praise of God : 

Ver. 1. My heart is joyful in the Lord, 
My horu is exalted in the Lord, 
My mouth is opened wide over mine enemies : 
For I rejoice in Thy salvation. 

Of the four members of this verse, the first answers to the 
third, and the second to the fourth. The heart rejoices at the 
lifting up of her horn, the mouth opens wide to proclaim the 
salvation before which the enemies would be dumb. ^^ My 
horn is high " does not mean ' I am proud ' (Ewald), but " my 
power is great in the Lord." The horn is the symbol of 
strength, and is taken from oxen whose strength is in their 
horns (vid. Deut. xxxiii. 17 ; Ps. Ixxv. 5, etc.). The power 
was high or exalted by the salvation which the Lord had mani- 

CHAP. II. 1-10. 31 

fested to her. To Him all the glory was due, because He had 
proved himself to be the holy One, and a rock upon which a 
man could rest his confidence. 

Ver. 2. None is holy as the Lord ; for there is none beside Thee ; 
And no rock is as our God. 

3. Speak ye not much lofty, lofty ; 

Let (not) insolence go out of thy rnouth ! 
For the Lord is an omniscient God, 
And with Him deeds are weighed. 

God manifests himself as holy in the government of the 
kingdom of His grace by His guidance of the righteous to sal- 
vation (see at Ex. xix. 6). But holiness is simply the moral 
reflection of the glory of the one absolute God. This explains 
the reason given for His holiness, viz. " there is not one (a 
God) beside thee" (cf. 2 Sam. xxii. 32). As the holy and only 
One, God is the rock (yid. Deut. xxxii. 4, 15 ; Ps. xviii. 3) in 
which the righteous can always trust. The wicked therefore 
should tremble before His holiness, and not talk in their pride 
of the lofty things which they have accomplished or intend to 
perform. ^^^ is defined more precisely in the following clause, 
which is also dependent upon ^^ by the word priy, as insolent 
words spoken by the Macked against the righteous (see Ps. 
xxxi. 19). For Jehovah hears such words ; He is "a God of 
knowledge" (Deus scientiarimi), a God who sees and knows 
every single thing. The plural riiyn has an intensive significa- 
tion, nippy ^32n3 N? might be rendered " deeds are not weighed, 
or equal" (cf. Ezek. xviii. 25, 26, xxxiii. 17). But this would 
only apply to the actions of men ; for the acts of God are always 
just, or weighed. But an assertion respecting the actions of 
men does not suit the context. Hence this clause is reckoned 
in the Masora as one of the passages in which N? stands for 
S? (see at Ex. xxi. 8). " To Ilim (with Him) deeds are 
weighed:^'' that is to say, the acts of God are weighed, i.e. 
equal or just. This is the real meaning according to the pas- 
sages in Ezekiel, and not " the actions of men are weighed by 
Him" (De Wette, Maurer, Ewald, etc.) : for God weighs the 
minds and hearts of men (Prov. xvi. 2, xxi. 2, xxiv. 12), not 
their actions. This expression never occurs. The weighed or 
righteous acts of God are described in vers. 4-8 in great and 
general traits, as displayed in the government of His kingdom 


throucrli the marvellous clianges which occur in the circum- 
stances connected with the lives of the righteous and the 

Ver. 4. Bow-heroes are confounded, 

And stumbling ones gird themselves with strength ; 

5. FuU ones hire themselves out for bread, 
And hungry ones cease to be. 

Yea, the barren beareth seven (children), 
And she that is rich in children pines away. 

6. The Lord kills and makes alive ; 
Leads down into hell, and leads up. 

7. The Lord makes poor and makes rich. 
Humbles and also exalts. 

8. He raises mean ones out of the dust. 

He lifts up poor ones out of the dunghill, 
To set them beside the noble ; 
And He apportions to them the seat of glory : 
For the pillars of the earth are the Lord's, 
And He sets the earth upon them. 

In ver. 4, the predicate O'^rin is construed with the nomen 
rectum Q''')^?, not with the nomen regens ^'^?, because the former 
is the leading term {vid. Ges. § 148, 1, and Ewald, § 317, d). 
The thought to be expressed is, not that the bow itself is to be 
broken, but that the heroes who carry the bow are to be con- 
founded or broken inwardly. " Bows of the heroes" stands for 
heroes carrying bows. For this reason the verb is to be taken 
in the sense of confounded, not broken, especially as, apart from 
Isa. li. 56, nnn is not used to denote the breaking of outward 
things, but the breaking of men. — Ver. 5. ^''Vy^ are the rich 
and well to do ; these would become so poor as to be obliged to 
hire themselves out for bread. T}^, to cease to be what they 
were before. The use of ^V as a conjunction, in the sense of 
" yea" or " in fact," may be explained as an elliptical ex- 
pression, signifying " it comes to this, that." " Seven children" 
are mentioned as the full number of the divine blessing in 
children (see Ruth iv. 15). " The mother of many children" 
pines away, because she has lost all her sons, and with them 
her support in her old age (see Jer. xv. 9). This comes from 
the Loi'd, who kills, etc. (cf. Deut. xxxii. 39). The words of 
ver. 6 are figurative. God hurls down into death and the 
danger of death, and also rescues therefrom (see Ps. xxx. 3, 4). 

CHAP. II. 1-10. 33 

The first three clauses of ver. 8 are repeated verbatim in Ps. 
cxiii. 7, 8. Dust and the dunghill are figures used to denote 
the deepest degradation and ignominy. The antithesis to this 
is, sitting upon the chair or throne of glory, the seat occupied 
by noble princes. The Lord does all this, for He is the creator 
and upholder of the world. The pillars ("'i?>*P, from pVH = P^J) 
of the earth are the LorcCs ; i.e. they were created or set up by 
Him, and by Him they are sustained. Now as Jehovah, the 
God of Israel, the Holy One, governs the world with His 
almighty power, the righteous have nothing to fear. With this 
thought the last strophe of the song begins : 

Ver. 9. The feet of His saints He will keep, 
And the wicked perish in darkness ; 
For by power no one becomes strong. 

10. The Lord — those who contend against Him are confounded. 
He thunders above him in the heavens ; 
The Lord will judge the ends of the earth, 
That He may lend might to His king, 
And exalt the horn of His anointed. 

The Lord keeps the feet of the righteous, so that they do 
not tremble and stumble, i.e. so that the righteous do not fall 
into adversity and perish therein {yid. Ps. Ivi. 14, cxvi. 8, cxxi. 
3). But the wicked, who oppress and persecute the righteous, 
will perish in dai'kness, i.e. in adversity, when God withdraws 
the light of His grace, so that they fall into distress and cala- 
mity. For no man can be strong through his own power, so as 
to meet the storms of life. All who fight against the Lord are 
destroyed. To bring out the antithesis between man and God, 
" Jehovah" is written absolutely at the commencement of the 
sentence in ver. 10 : '^ As for Jehovah, those who contend against 
Him are hrohen,^^ both inwardly and outwardly (^nn, as in 
ver. 4). The word 1?y, which follows, is not to be changed into 
DHyy. There is simply a rapid alternation of the numbers, 
such as we frequently meet with in excited language. ^^ Above 
him" i.e. above every one who contends against God, He 
thunders. Thunder is a premonitory sign of the approach of 
the Lord to judgment. In the thunder, man is made to feel in 
an alarming way the presence of the omnipotent God. In the 
words, " The Lord will judge the ends of the earth," i.e. the 
earth to its utmost extremities, or the whole world, Hannah's 



prayer rises up to a prophetic glance at the consummation of 
the kingdom of God. As certainly as the Lord God keeps the 
righteous at all times, and casts down the wicked, so certainly 
will He judge the whole world, to hurl down all His foes, and 
perfect His kingdom which He has founded in Israel. And as 
every kingdom culminates in its throne, or in the full might 
and government of a king, so the kingdom of God can only 
attain its full perfection in the king whom the Lord will give 
to His people, and endow with His might. The king, or the 
anointed of the Lord, of whom Hannah prophesies in the spirit, 
is not one single king of Israel, either David or Christ, but an 
ideal kmg, though not a mere personification of the throne about 
to be established, but the actual king whom Israel received in 
David and his race, which culminated in the Messiah. The 
exaltation of the horn of the anointed of Jehovah commenced 
with the victorious and splendid expansion of the power of 
David, was repeated with every victory over the enemies of 
God and His kingdom gained by the successive kings of 
David's house, goes on in the advancing spread of the king- 
dom of Christ, and will eventually attain to its eternal con- 
summation in the judgment of the last day, through which all 
the enemies of Christ will be made His footstool. 

Samuel's service before eli. ungodliness of eli's sons. 
denunciation of judgment upon eli and his house. 

— CHAP. II, 11-3G. 

Vers. 11-17. Samuel the servant of the Lord under Eli. 
Ungodliness of the sons of Eli. — Ver. 11 forms the transition 
to what follows. After Hannah's psalm of thanksgiving, 
E'.kanah went back with his family to his home at Ramah, and 
the boy (Samuel) was serving, i.e. ministered to the Lord, in the 
presence of Eli the priest. The fact that nothing is said about 
Elkanah's wives going with him, does not warrant the interpre- 
tation given by Thenius, that Elkanah went home alone. It 
was taken for granted that his wives went with him, according 
to ch. i. 21 (" all his house"). nin)-nx n"}}^, which signifies 
literally, both here and in ch. iii. 1, to serve the Lord, and 
which is used interchangeably with '" \^?"nx fin^ (ver. 18), 
to serve in the presence of the Lord, is used to denote the duties 

CHAP. II. 11-17. 35 

performed both by priests and Levites in connection with the 
worship of God, in which Samuel took part, as he grew up, 
under the superintendence of Eli and according to his instruc- 
tions. — Ver. 12. But Eli's sons, Hophni and Phinehas (ver. 34), 
were ^Vl^^ "'p^^ worthless fellows, and knew not the Lord, sc. as 
He should be known, i.e. did not fear Him, or trouble them- 
selves about Him (vid. Job xviii. 21 ; Hos. viii. 2, xiii. 4), — 
Vers. 13, 14. " Ä7id the right of the priests towards the people 
teas (the following)." Mishpat signifies the right which they 
had usurped to themselves in relation to the people. " If any 
one hroxight a sacrifice (n3T ri2f 5i^'''X~P3 is placed first, and con- 
strued absolutely : * as for every one who brought a slain- 
offering'), the pries£s servant (lit. young man) came lohile the 
ßesh was hailing, with a thi^ee-pronged fork in his hand, and thrust 
into the kettle, or pot, or howl, or saucepan. A II that the fork 
brought up the priest took. This they did to all the Israelites 
toho came thither to Shiloh." — Vers. 15, 16. They did still worse. 
" Even befolge the fat loas consumed," i.e. before the fat portions 
of the sacrifice had been placed in the altar-fire for the Lord 
(Lev. iii. 3-5), the priest's servant came and demanded flesh of 
the person sacrificing, to be roasted for the priest; "for he will 
not take hoiled ßesh of thee, but only ''H, raio, i.e. fresh meat." 
And if the person sacrificing replied, " They toill burn the fat 
directly (lit. ' at this time,' as in Gen. xxv. 31, 1 Kings xxii. 
5), then take for thyself, as thy soul desireth," he said, " Vo 
(ii? for N7), but thou shalt give now ; if not, I take by forced 
These abuses were practised by the priests in connection with 
the thank-offeriniTS, with which a sacrificial meal was associated. 
Of these offerings, the portion which legally fell to the priest as 
his share was the heave-leg and wave-breast. And this he was 
to receive after the fat portions of the sacrifice had been burned 
upon the altar (see Lev. vii. 30-34). To take the flesh of the 
sacrificial animal and roast it before this offering had been made, 
was a crime which was equivalent to a robbery of God, and is 
therefore referred to here with the emphatic particle D3, as being 
the worst crime that the sons of Eli committed. Moreover, the 
priests could not claim any of the flesh which the offerer of 
the sacrifice boiled for the sacrificial meal, after burning the 
fat portions upon the altar and giving up the portions which 
belonged to them, to say nothing of their taking it forcibly out 


of the pots while it was being boiled. — Ver. 17. Such conduct as 
this on the part of the young men (the priests' servants), was a 
great sin in the sight of the Lord, as they thereby brought the 
sacrifice of the Lord into contempt, fi^^, causative, to bring 
into contempt, furnish occasion for blaspheming (as in 2 Sam. 
xii. 14). " The robbery which they committed was a small sin 
in comparison with the contempt of the sacrifices themselves, 
which they were the means of spreading among the people" 
(O. V. G erlach). Mincliali does not refer here to the meat- 
offering as the accompaniment to the slain-offerings, but to the 
sacrificial offering generally, as a gift presented for the Lord. 

Vers. 18-21. SamueVs service before the Lord. — Ver. 18. 
Samuel served as a boy before the Lord by the side of the 
worthless sons of Eli, girt with an ephod of white material ("i^^ 
see at Ex. xxviii. 42). The ephod was a shoulder-dress, no 
doubt resembling the high priest's in shape (see Ex. xxviii. 6 
sqq.), but altogether different in the material of which it was 
made, viz. simple white cloth, like the other articles of clothing 
that were worn by the priests. At that time, according to ch. 
xxii. 18, all the priests wore clothing of this kind ; and, accord- 
ing to 2 Sam. vi. 14, David did the same on the occasion of a 
religious festival. Samuel received a dress of this kind even 
when a boy, because he was set apart to a lifelong service 
before the Lord. "^JH is the technical expression for putting 
on the ephod, because the two pieces of which it was composed 
were girt round the body with a girdle. — Ver. 19. The small 
•''•yp also {Angl. "coat"), which Samuel's mother made and 
brought him every year, when she came with her husband to 
Shiloh to the yearly sacrifice, was probably a coat resembling 
the meil of the high priest (Ex. xxviii. 31 sqq.), but was made 
of course of some simpler material, and without the symbolical 
ornaments attached to the lower hem, by which that official 
dress was distinguished. — Ver. 20. The priestly clothing of the 
youthful Samuel was in harmony with the spiritual relation in 
which he stood to the high priest and to Jehovah. Eli blessed 
his parents for having given up the boy to the Lord, and 
expressed this wish to the father : " The Lord, lend thee seed of 
this woman in the place of the one ashed for (npx^n), ivhom they 
(one) asked for from the T^ordr The striking use of the third 
pers. masc. ?NK^' instead of the second singular or plural may be 

CHAP. II. 22-26. 37 

accounted for on the supposition tliat it is an indefinite form of 
speech, which the writer chose because, although it was Hannah 
who prayed to the Lord for Samuel in the sight of Eli, yet Eli 
might assume that the father, Elkanah, had shared the wishes 
of his pious wufe. The apparent harshness disappears at once 
if we substitute the passive ; whereas in Hebrew active con- 
structions were always preferred to passive, wherever it was 
possible to employ them (Ewald, § 294, b). The singular 
suffix attached to iüip?pp after the plural I2?n may be explained 
on the simple ground, that a dwelling-place is determined by 
the husband, or master of the house. — Ver. 21. The particle "'S, 
"/or" (Jehovah visited), does not mean if, as, or when, nor is 
it to be regarded as a copyist's error. It is only necessary to 
supply the thought contained in the words, . " J^li blessed El- 
kanah," viz. that Eli's blessing was not an empty fruitless 
wish ; and to understand the passage in some such way as this : 
Eli's word was fulfilled, or still more simply, ther/ went to their 
home blessed; for Jehovah visited Hannah, blessed her with 
" three sons and two daughters ; but the boy Samuel grew up 
with the Lord," i.e. near to Him (at the sanctuary), and under 
His protection and blessing. 

Vers. 22-2 G. Elis treatment of the sins of his sons. — Ver. 
22. The aged Eli reproved his sons with solemn warnings on 
account of their sins ; but without his warnings being listened 
to. From the reproof itself we learn, that beside the sin noticed 
in vers. 12-17, they also committed the crime of lying with 
the women who served at the tabernacle (see at Ex. xxxviii. 8), 
and thus profaned the sanctuary with whoredom. But Eli, 
with the infirmities of his old age, did nothing further to pre- 
vent these abominations than to say to his sons, " Why do ye 
accoi'ding to the sayings which I hear, sayings about you which 
are evil, of this whole people." Ü''i?"^ Q?'''?.r'"l""l^ is inserted to 
make the meaning clearer, and 'n"73 D^D is dependent upon 
ypb'. " This whole people" signifies all the people that came 
to Shiloh, and heard and saw the wicked doings there. — Ver. 
24. ""JB ?Xj " not, my sons," i.e. do not such things, "for the 
report which I hear is not good; they make the people of Jehovah 
to transgress." D'^l^yo is written without the pronoun D^^^ in 
an indefinite construction, like ^''n^C'O in ch. vi. 3 (Maurer). 
Ewald's rendering as given by Thenius, " The report which I 


hear the people of God bring," is just as inadmissible as the 
one proposed by Böttcher, " The report which, as I hear, the 
people of God are spreading." The assertion made by Thenius, 
that "'''^i^'^j without any further definition, cannot mean to cause 
to sin or transgress, is correct enough no doubt ; but it does not 
prove that this meaning is inadmissible in the passage before 
us, since the further definition is actually to be found in the 
context. — Ver. 25. ^^ If man sins against man, God judges him; 
hut if a man sins against JeJwvah, who can interpose with entreat^/ 
for him?" In the use of i^ps and i?"?>'3n'; there is a parono- 
masia which cannot be reproduced in our language. ??2) signi- 
fies to decide or pass sentence (Gen. xlviii. 11), then to arbitrate, 
to settle a dispute as arbitrator (Ezek. xvi. 52, Ps. cvi. 30), and 
in the Hithpael to act as mediator, hence to entreat. And 
these meanings are applicable here. In the case of one man's 
sin against another, God settles the dispute as arbitrator through 
the proper authorities ; whereas, when a man sins against God, 
no one can interpose as arbitrator. Such a sin cannot be dis- 
posed of by intercession. But Eli's sons did not listen to this 
admonition, which was designed to reform daring sinners with 
mild words and representations ; "/or," adds the historian, 
^^ Jehovah was resolved to slay them." The father's reproof 
made no impression upon them, because they were already 
given up to the judgment of hardening. (On hardening as a 
divine sentence, see the discussions at Ex. iv. 21.) — Ver. 26. 
The youthful Samuel, on the other hand, continued to grow in 
statui'e, and in favour with God- and man (see Lev. ii. 52). 

Vers. 27-36. Announcement of the judgment upon Eli and 
his house. — Ver. 27. Before the Lord interposed in judgment, 
He sent a prophet (a " maji of God" as in Judg. xiii. 6) to the 
aged Eli, to announce as a warning for all ages the judgment 
which was about to fall upon the worthless priests of his house. 
In order to arouse Eli's own conscience, he had pointed out to 
him, on the one hand, the grace manifested in the choice of 
his father's house, i.e. the house of Aaron, to keep His sanc- 
tuary (vers. 276 and 28), and, on the other hand, the desecra- 
tion of the sanctuary by the wickedness of his sons (ver. 29). 
Then follows the sentence : The choice of the family of Aaron 
still stood fast, but the deepest disgrace would come upon the 
despisers of the Lord (ver. 30) : the strength of his house 

CHAP. II. 27-36. 39 

would be broken ; all the members of Ins house were to die 
early deaths. They were not, however, to be removed entirely 
fi'om service at the altar, but to their sorrow were to survive 
the fall of the sanctuary (vers. 31-34). But the Lord would 
raise up a faithful priest, and cause him to walk before His 
anointed, and from him all that were left of the house of Eli 
would be obliged to beg their bread (vers. 35, 36). To arrive 
at the true interpretation of this announcement of punishment, 
we must picture to ourselves the historical circumstances that 
come into consideration here. Eli the high priest was a de- 
scendant of Ithamar, the younger son of Aaron, as we may see 
from the fact that his great-grandson Ahimelech was " of the 
sons of Ithamar" (1 Chron. xxiv, 3). In perfect agreement 
with this, Josephus (Ant. v. 11, 5) relates, that after the high 
priest Ozi of the family of Eleazar, Eli of the family of 
Ithamar received the high-priesthood. The circumstances 
which led to the transfer of this honour from the line of 
Eleazar to that of Ithamar are unknown. We cannot imagine 
it to have been occasioned by an extinction of the line of 
Eleazar, for the simple reason that, in the time of David, Zadok 
the descendant of Eleazar is spoken of as high priest along 
with Abiathar and Ahimelech, the descendants of Eli (2 Sam. 
viii. 17, XX. 25). After the deposition of Abiathar he was 
reinstated by Solomon as sole high priest (1 Kings ii. 27), and 
the dignity was transmitted to his descendants. This fact also 
overthrows the conjecture of Clericus, that the transfer of the 
high-priesthood to Eli took place by the command of God on 
account of the grievous sins of the high priests of the line of 
Eleazar ; for in that case Zadok would not have received this 
office again in connection with Abiathar. We have, no doubt, 
to search for the true reason in the circumstances of the times 
of the later judges, namely in the fact that at the death of the 
last high priest of the family of Eleazar before the time of Eli, 
the remaining son was not equal to the occasion, either because 
he was still an infant, or at any rate because he was too young 
and inexperienced, so that he could not enter upon the office, 
and Eli, who was probably related by marriage to the high 
priest's family, and Avas no doubt a vigorous man, was com- 
pelled to take the oversight of the congregation ; and, together 
with the supreme administration of the affairs of the nation as 


judge, received tlie post of high priest as well, and filled it till 
the time of his death, simply because in those troublous times 
there was not one of the descendants of Eleazar who was able 
to fill the supreme office of judge, which was combined with 
that of high priest. For we cannot possibly think of an unjust 
usurpation of the office of high priest on the part of Eli, since 
the very judgment denounced against him and his house pre- 
supposes that he had entered upon the office in a just and 
upright way, and that the wickedness of his sons was all that 
was brought against him. For a considerable time after the 
death of Eli the high-priesthood lost almost all its significance. 
All Israel turned to Samuel, whom the Lord established as Plis 
prophet by means of revelations, and whom He also chose as 
the deliverer of His people. The tabernacle at Shiloh, which 
ceased to be the scene of the gracious presence of God after 
the loss of the ark, was probably presided over first of all after 
Eli's death by his grandson Ahitub, the son of Phinehas, as his 
successor in the high-priesthood. He was followed in the time 
of Saul by his son Ahijah or Ahimelech, who gave David the 
shew-bread to eat at Nob, to which the tabernacle had been 
removed in the meantime, and was put to death by Saul in 
consequence, along with all the priests who were found there. 
His son Abiathar, however, escaped the massacre, and fled to 
David (ch. xxii. 9-20, xxiii. 6). In the reign of David he is 
mentioned as high priest along with Zadok ; but he was after- 
wards deposed by Solomon (2 Sam. xv. 24, xvii. 15, xix. 12, 
XX. 25 ; 1 Kings ii. 27). 

Different interpretations have been given of these verses. 
The majority of commentators understand them as signifying 
that the loss of the high-priesthood is here foretold to Eli, and 
also the institution of Zadok in the office. But such a view is 
too contracted, and does not exhaust the meaning of the words. 
The very introduction to the prophet's words points to some- 
thing greater than this : " Thus saith the Lord, Did I reveal 
myself to thy fathers house, when they loere in Egypt at the 
house of Pharaoh V^ The H interrogative is not used for N?n 
(iionne), but is emphatic, as in Jer. xxxi. 20. The question is 
an appeal to Eli's conscience, which he cannot deny, but is 
obliged to confirm. By Eli's father's house we are not to 
understand Ithamar and his family, but Aaron, from whom Eli 

CHAP. II. 27-36. 41 

was descended through Ithamar. God revealed himself to the 
tribe-father of Eli by appointing Aaron to be the spokesman of 
Moses before Pharaoh (Ex. iv. 14 sqq. and 27), and still more 
by calling Aaron to the priesthood, for which the way was 
prepared by the fact that, from the very beginning, God made 
use of Aaron, in company with !Moses, to carry out His purpose 
of delivering Israel out of Egypt, and entrusted Moses and 
Aaron with the arrangements for the celebration of the passover 
(Ex. xii. 1, 43). This occurred when they, the fathers of Eli, 
Aaron and his sons, were still in Egypt at the house of Pharaoh, 
i.e. still under Pharaoh's rule. — Ver. 28. "And did I choose 
Mm out of all the tribes for a priest to myself ^ The interro- 
gative particle is not to be repeated before "i^l^^S t)ut the 
construction becomes affirmative with the inf. abs. instead of 
the perfect. " Him^' refers back to "thy father^'' in ver. 27, 
and signifies Aaron. The expression "for a priest" is still 
further defined by the clauses which follow : 'ö PJ? J^i-'i-'?, " to 
ascend upon mine altar" i.e. to approach my altar of burnt- 
offering and perform the sacrificial worship ; " to kindle incense" 
i.e. to perform the service in the holy place, the principal 
feature in wdiich was the daily kindling of the incense, which is 
mentioned instar omnium ; " to wear the ephod before me" i.e. 
to perform the service in the holy of holies, which the high 
priest could only enter when wearing the ephod to represent 
Israel before the Lord (Ex. xxviii. 12). "And have given to 
thy father s house all the firings of the children of Israel" (see at 
Lev. i. 9). These w^ords are to be understood, according to 
Deut. xviii. 1, as signifying that the Lord had given to the 
house of Aaron, i.e. to the priesthood, the sacrifices of Jehovah 
to eat in the place of any inheritance in the land, according to 
the portions appointed in the sacrificial law in Lev. vi. vii., and 
Num. xviii. — Ver. 29. With such distinction conferred upon 
the priesthood, and such careful provision made for it, the 
conduct of the priests under Eli was an inexcusable crime. 
" Why do ye tread with your feet my slain-offerings and meat- 
offerings, which I have commanded in the divelling-place ? " 
Slain-offering and meat-offering are general expressions em- 
bracing all the altar-sacrifices, lij^ö is an accusative (" in the 
dwelling"), like T)\2, in the house. " The dwelling" is the taber- 
nacle. This reproof applied to the priests generally, including 


Eli, who had not vigorously resisted these abuses. The words 
which follow, " and thou honourest thy sons more than me" 
relate to Eli himself, and any other high priest who like Eli 
should tolerate the abuses of the priests. " To fatten yourselves 
vjith the first of every sacrificial gift of Israel, of m.y peopled 
"^^iV? serves as a periphrasis for the genitive, and is chosen for 
the purpose of giving greater prominence to the idea of ''ßy 
(my people). ^''^'^'Ü, the first of every sacrificial gift (ininchah, 
as in ver. 17), which Israel offered as the nation of Jehovah, 
ought to have been given up to its God in the altar-fire because 
it was the best; whereas, according to vers. 15, 16, the sons of 
Eli took away the best for themselves. — ^Ver. 30. For this 
reason, the saying of the Lord, " Thy house {i.e. the family of 
Eli) and thy father^ s house (Eli's relations in the other lines, i.e. 
the whole priesthood) shall tvalk before me for ever" (Num. 
XXV. 13), should henceforth run thus : " This be far from me ; 
\nit them that honour me I loill honour, and they that despise me 
shall be despised." The first declaration of the Lord is not to 
be referred to Eli particularly, as it is by C. a Lapide and 
others, and understood as signifying that the high-priesthood 
was thereby transferred from the family of Eleazar to that of 
Ithamar, and promised to Eli for his descendants for all time. 
This is decidedly at variance with the fact, that although 
" walking before the Lord" is not a general expression denoting 
a pious walk with God, as in Gen. xvii. 1, but refers to the 
service of the priests at the sanctuary as walking before the 
face of God, yet it cannot possibly be specially and exclusively 
restricted to the right of entering the most holy place, which 
was the prerogative of the high priest alone. These words of 
the Lord, therefore, applied to the whole priesthood, or the 
whole house of Aaron, to which the priesthood had been pro- 
mised, "for a perpetual statute" (Ex. xxix. 9). This promise 
was afterwards renewed to Phinehas especially, on account of 
the zeal which he displayed for the honour of Jehovah in 
connection with the idolatry of the people at Shittim (Num. 
XXV. 13). But even this renewed promise only secured to him 
an eternal priesthood as a covenant of peace with the Lord, and 
not specially the high-priesthood, although that was included 
as the culminating point of the priesthood. Consequently it 
was not abrogated by the temporary transfer of the high-priest- 

CHAP. II. 27-36. 43 

hood from the descendants of Phinehas to the priestly line of 
Ithamar, because even then they still retained the priesthood. 
By the expression " be it far from w?," sc. to permit this to 
take place, God does not revoke His previous promise, but 
simply denounces a false trust therein as irreconcilable with 
His holiness. That promise would only be fulfilled so far as 
the priests themselves honoured the Lord in their office, whilst 
despisers of God, who dishonoured Him by sin and presump- 
tuous wickedness, would be themselves despised. 

This contempt would speedily come upon the house of Eli. 
— Ver. 31. ^^ Behold, days come^^ — a formula with which pro- 
phets were accustomed to announce future events (see 2 Kings 
XX. 17; Isa. xxxix. 6; Amos iv. 2, viii. 11, ix. 13; Jer. vii. 
32, etc.), — " then ivill I cut of thine arm, and the arm of thy 
father s house, that there shall he no old man in thine house." To 
cut off the arm means to destroy the strength either of a man 
or of a family (see Job xxii. 9 ; Ps. xxxvii. 17). The strength 
of a family, however, consists in the vital energy of its mem- 
bers, and shows itself in the fact that they reach a good old 
age, and do not pine away early and die. This strength was to 
vanish in Eli's house ; no one would ever again preserve his 
life to old age. — Ver. 32. '' And thou teilt see oppression of the 
dwelling in all that He has shown of good to Israel." The 
meaning of these words, which have been explained in very 
different ways, appears to be the following : In all the benefits 
which the Lord would confer upon His people, Eli would see 
only distress for the dwelling of God, inasmuch as the taber- 
nacle would fall more and more into decay. In the person of 
Eli, the high priest at that time, the high priest generally is 
addressed as the custodian of the sanctuary; so that what is 
said is not to be limited to him personally, but applies to all the 
high priests of his house, pyo is not Eli's dwelling-place, but 
the dwelling-place of God, i.e. the tabernacle, as in ver. 29, and 
is a genitive dependent upon l^^ ^V'?) in the sense of benefit- 
ing a person, doing him good, is construed with the accusative 
of the person,, as in Deut. xxviii. 63, viii. 16, xxx. 5. The 
subject to the verb y^'''' is Jehovah, and is not expressly men- 
tioned, simply because it is so clearly implied in the words 
themselves. This threat began to be fulfilled even in Eli's own 
days. The distress or tribulation for the tabernacle began with 


the capture of the ark by the Philistines (ch. iv. 11), and 
continued during the time that the Lord was sending help and 
deliverance to His people through the medium of Samuel, in 
their spiritual and physical oppression. The ark of the cove- 
nant — the heart of the sanctuary — was not restored to the 
tabernacle in the time of Samuel ; and the tabernacle itself 
was removed from Shiloh to Nob, probably in the time of war ; 
and when Saul had had all the priests put to death (ch. xxi. 
2, xxii. 11 sqq.), it was removed to Gibeon, which necessarily 
caused it to fall more and more into neglect. Among the 
different explanations, the rendering given by Aquila (jcal 
eVt/SXe-v^et (? i7nßXe-ylr7]<i) avri^rjXov KaroLKrjTTjplov) has met 
with the greatest approval, and has been followed by Jerome 
(et videhis cemulum tuum), Luther, and many others, including 
i)e Wette. According to this rendering, the words are either 
supposed to refer to the attitude of Samuel towards Eli, or to 
the deposition of Abiathar, and the institution of Zadok by 
Solomon in his place (1 Kings ii. 27). But IV does not mean 
the antagonist or rival, but simply the oppressor or enemy; and 
Samuel was not an enemy of Eli any more than Zadok was of 
Abiathar. Moreover, if this be adopted as the rendering of "iVj 
it is impossible to find any suitable meaning for the following 
clause. In the second half of the verse the threat of ver. 31 is 
repeated with still greater emphasis. DMp^ri'Pa, all the time, i.e. 
so long as thine house shall exist. — Ver. 33. " And I will not 
cut off every one to thee from mine altar, that thine eyes may 
languish, and thy soul consume aioay ; and all the increase of 
thine house shall die as men." The two leading clauses of this 
verse correspond to the two principal thoughts of the previous 
verse, which are hereby more precisely defined and explained. 
Eli was to see the distress of the sanctuary ; for to him, i.e. of 
his family, there would always be some one serving at the altar 
of God, that he might look upon the decay with his eyes, and 
pine away with grief in consequence, ^^ii signifies every one, 
or any one, and is not to be restricted, as Thenius supposes, to 
Ahitub, the son of Phinehas, the brother of Ichabod ; for it 
cannot be shown from ch. xiv. 3 and xxii. 20, that he was the 
only one that was left of the house of Eli. And secondly, 
there was to be no old man, no one advanced in life, in his 
house ; but all the increase of the house was to die in the full 

CHAP. II. 27-36. 45 

bloom of manhood. ^''t^'J^^, in contrast with IPT, is used to denote 
men in the prime of life. 

Ver. 34. " A nd let this be the sign to thee, what shall happen 
to (come upon) thy two sons, Hophni and Phinehas ; in one day 
they shall both die." For the fulfilment of this, see ch. iv. 11. 
This occurrence, which Eli lived to see, but did not long survive 
(ch. iv. 17 sqq.), was to be the sign to him that the predicted 
punishment would be carried out in its fullest extent. — Ver. 35. 
But the priesthood itself was not to fall with the fall of Eli's 
house and priesthood ; on the contrary, the Lord would raise 
up for himself a tried priest, who would act according to His 
heart. " And I toill build for' him a lasting house, and he will 
walk before mine anointed for ever" — Ver. 36. Whoever, on 
the other hand, should still remain of Eli's house, would come 
" boioing before him (to get) a silver penny and a slice of bread" 
and would say, " Put me, I pray, in one of the priests ojices, that 
I may get a piece of bread to eat." '^'^)^^., that which is collected^ 
signifies some small coin, of which a collection was made by 
begging single coins. Commentators are divided in their 
opinions as to the historical allusions contained in this pro- 
phecy. By the " tried priest," Ephraem Syrus understood both 
the prophet Samuel and the priest Zadok. "As for the facts 
themselves," he says, " it is evident that, when Eli died, Samuel 
succeeded him in the government, and that Zadok received the 
high-priesthood when it was taken from his family." Since 
his time, most of the commentators, including Theodoret and 
the Rabbins, have decided in favour of Zadok. Augustine, 
however, and in modern times Thenius and O. v. Gerlach, 
give the preference to Samuel. The fathers and earlier theo- 
logians also regarded Samuel and Zadok as the type of Christ, 
and supposed the passage to contain a prediction of the abroga- 
tion of the Aaronic priesthood by Jesus Christ,^ This higher 

^ Theodoret, qu. vii. iii 1 Reg. Ovkovu it vpöppmic: Kvpi'a? /niv upy.ÖTTit 
rü a-UTYipi Xo/ffTCJ. KctToi Is taropixv tu 2«8oi/«, og Ix, toi» 'EJ^tx^ctp Kot.Ta.yuu to 
yevoj, T'/jv xpxispuavvnv S/as Toy "EoXopiuvos i^e^uTO. Augustine says {De civil. 
Dei xvii. 5, 2) : " Although Samuel was not of a diiferent tribe from the 
one "which had been appointed by the Lord to serve at the altar, he was not 
of the sons of Aaron, whose descendants had been set apart as priests ; and 
thus the change is shadowed forth, which was afterwards to be introduced 
through Jesus Christ." And again, § 3 : " "What follows (ver. 35) refers to 


reference of the words is in any case to be retained ; for the 
rabbinical interpretation, by which Grotius, Clericus, and others 
abide, — namely, that the transfer of the high-priesthood from 
the descendants of Eli to Zadok, the descendant of Eleazar, 
is all that is predicted, and that the prophecy was entirely 
fulfilled when Abiathar was deposed by Solomon (1 Kings ii. 
27), — is not in accordance with the words of the text. On the 
other hand, Theodoret and Augustine both clearly saw that 
the words of Jehovah, "I revealed myself to thy father's house 
in Egypt," and, " Thy house shall walk before me for ever," 
do not apply to Ithamar, but to Aaron. "Which of his fathers," 
says Augustine, "was in that Egyptian bondage, from which 
they were liberated when he was chosen to the priesthood, ex- 
cepting Aaron ? It is with reference to his posterity, therefore, 
that it is here affirmed that they would not be priests for ever ; 
and this we see already fulfilled." The only thing that appears 
untenable is the manner in which the fathers combine this 
historical reference to Eli and Samuel, or Zadok, with the 
Messianic interpretation, viz, either by referring vers. 31-34 to 
Eli and his house, and then regarding the sentence pronounced 
upon Eli as simply a type of the Messianic fulfilment, or by 
admitting the Messianic allusion simply as an allegory. The 
true interpretation may be obtained from a correct insight into 
the relation in which the prophecy itself stands to its fulfilment. 
Just as, in the person of Eli and his sons, the threat announces 
deep degradation and even destruction to all the priests of the 
house of Aaron who should walk in the footsteps of the sons of 
Eli, and the death of the two sons of Eli in one day was to be 
merely a sign that the threatened punishment would be com- 
pletely fulfilled upon the ungodly priests ; so, on the other hand, 
the promise of the raising up of the tried priest, for whom God 
would build a lasting house, also refers to all the priests whom 

that priest, whose figure was borne by Samuel when succeeding to Eli." 
So again in the Berleburger Bible, to the words, " I will raise me up a 
faithful priest," this note is added : " Zadok, of the family of Phinehas 
and Eleazar, whom king Solomon, as the anointed of God, appointed high 
priest by his ordinance, setting aside the house of Eli (1 Kings ii. 35 ; 1 
Chron. xxix. 22). At the same time, just as in the person of Solomon the 
Spirit of prophecy pointed to the true Solomon and Anointed One, so iu 
this priest did He also point to Jesus Christ the great High Priest." 

CHAP. II. 27-36. 47 

the Lord would raise up as faitliful servants of His altar, and 
only receives its complete and final fulfilment in Christ, the 
true and eternal High Priest. But if we endeavour to determine 
more precisely from the history itself, which of the Old Testa- 
ment priests are included, we must not exclude either Samuel 
or Zadok, but must certainly affirm that the prophecy was par- 
tially fulfilled in both. Samuel, as the prophet of the Lord, 
was placed at the head of the nation after the death of Eli ; so 
that he not only stepped into Eh's place as judge, but stood 
forth as priest before the Lord and the nation, and " had the 
important and sacred duty to perform of going before the 
anointed, the king, whom Israel was to receive through him ; 
whereas for a long time the Aaronic priesthood fell into such 
contempt, that, during the general decline of the worship of 
God, it was obliged to go begging for honour and support, 
and became dependent upon the new order of things that way 
introduced by Samuel " (O. v. Gerlach). Moreover, Samuel 
acquired a strong house in the numerous posterity that was 
given to him by God. The grandson of Samuel was Heman, 
" the king's seer in the words of God," who was placed by 
David over the choir at the house of God, and had fourteen 
sons and three daughters (1 Chron. vi. 33, xxv. 4, 5). But 
the very fact that these descendants of Samuel did not follow 
their father in the priesthood, shows very clearly that a lasting 
house was not built to Samuel as a tried priest through them, 
and therefore that we have to seek for the further historical 
fulfilment of this promise in the priesthood of Zadok. As the 
word of the Lord concerning the house of Eli, even if it did 
not find its only fulfilment in the deposition of Abiathar (1 
Kings ii. 27), was at any rate partially fulfilled in that deposi- 
tion ; so the promise concerning the tried priest to be raised 
up received a new fulfilment in the fact that Zadok thereby 
became the sole high priest, and transmitted the office to his 
descendants, thouoh this was neither its last nor its hiirhest fui- 
filment. This final fulfilment is hinted at in the vision of the 
new temple, as seen by the prophet Ezekiel, in connection with 
which the sons of Zadok arc named as the priests, who, because 
they had not fallen away with the chihlren of Israel, were to 
draw near to the Lord, and perform His service in the new 
organization of the kingdom of God as set forth in that vision 


(Ezek. xl. 46, xliii. 19, xliv. 15, xlviii. 11). This fulfilment is 
effected in connection with Christ and His kingdom. Conse- 
quently, the anointed of the Lord, before whom the tried priest 
would walk for ever, is not Solomon, but rather David, and the 
Son of David, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. 


Vers. 1-9. At the time when Samuel served the Lord 
before Eli, both as a boy and as a young man (ch. ii. 11, 21, 
26), the word of the Lord had become dear^ i.e. rare, in Israel, 
and ^^ prophecy was not spread.^^ H^-j ^^'^'^ P-?? to spread out 
strongly, to break through copiously (cf. Prov. iii. 10). The 
'^ v)ord of the Lord^^ is the word of God announced by pro- 
phets : the " vision," " visio pi^ophetica." It is true that Jeho- 
vah had promised His people, that He would send prophets, 
who should make known His will and purpose at all times 
(Deut. xviii. 15 sqq. ; cf. Num. xxiii. 23) ; but as a revelation 
from God presupposed susceptibility on the part of men, the 
unbelief and disobedience of the people might restrain the ful- 
filment of this and all similar promises, and God might even 
withdraw His word to punish the idolatrous nation. Such a 
time as this, when revelations from God were universally rare, 
had now arisen under Eli, in whose days, as the conduct of his 
sons sufficiently proves, the priesthood had fallen into very deep 
corruption, — Vers. 2-4. The word of the Lord was then issued 
for the first time to Samuel. Vers. 2-4 form one period. The 
clause, " it came to pass at that time " (ver. 2a), is continued in 
ver. 4o, " that the Lord called," etc. The intervening clauses 
from yV] to ö''^^!;? P"i^:5 are circumstantial clauses, intended to 
throw light upon the situation. The clause, " JUli was laid 
down in his place" etc., may be connected logically with "a^ that 
time" by the insertion of "when" (as in the English version: 
Tr.). The dimness of Eli's eyes is mentioned, to explain 
Samuel's behaviour, as afterwards described. Under these 
circumstances, for example, when Samuel heard his own name 
called out in sleep, he might easily suppose that Eli was calling 
him to render some assistance. The " lamp of God " is the 
light of the candlestick in the tabernacle, the seven lamps of 
which were put up and lighted every evening, and burned 

CHAP. III. 10-18. 49 

through the night till all the oil was consumed (see Ex. xxx. 8, 
Lev. xxiv. 2, 2 Chron. xiii. 11, and the explanation given at 
Ex. xxvii. 21). The statement that this light was not yet 
extinguished, is equivalent to " before the morning dawn." 
" And Samuel loas hjing (sleeping) in the temple of Jehovah^ 
where the ark of God loas." ?3''n does not mean the holy place, 
as distinguished from the " most holy," as in 1 Kings vi. 5, 
vii. 50,^ but the whole tabernacle, the tent with its court, as 
the palace of the God-king, as in ch. i. 9, Ps. xi. 4. Samuel 
neither slept in the holy place by the side of the candlestick 
and table of shew-bread, nor in the most holy place in front of 
the ark of the covenant, but in the court, where cells were 
built for the priests and Levites to live in when serving at the 
sanctuary (see at ver. 15). The ark of God, i.e. the ark of the 
covenant, is mentioned as the throne of the divine presence, 
from which the call to Samuel proceeded. — Vers. 5-9. As 
soon as Samuel heard his name called out, he hastened to Eli 
to receive his commands. But Eli bade him lie down again, 
as he had not called him. At first, no doubt, he thought the 
call which Samuel had heard was nothing more than a false 
impression of the youth, who had been fast asleep. But the 
same thing was repeated a second and a third time ; for, as the 
historian explains in ver. 6, " Samuel had not yet known Jeho- 
vah, and (for) the word of Jehovah was not yet revealed to him^ 
(The perfect V"}^ after D"ip, though very rare, is fully supported 
by Ps. xc. 2 and Prov. viii. 25, and therefore is not to be 
altered into V.l, as Dietrich and Böttcher propose.) He there- 
fore imagined again that Eli had called him. But when he 
came to Eli after the third call, Eli perceived that the Lord 
was calling, and directed Samuel, if the call were repeated, to 
answer, " Speak, Lord ; for Thy servant heareth." 

Vers. 10-18. When Samuel had lain down again, " Jeho- 
vah came and stood," sc. before Samuel. These words show 
that the revelation of God was an objectively real affair, and 
not a mere dream of Samuel's. " And he called to him as at 

' The Masoretes have taken ^^Ti in this sense, and therefore have 
placed the Athnacli under a^ty, to separate aSK' ^XIOC'I from 'i^ ^3^n3, and 
thus to guard against the conclusion, which might be drawn from this view 
of PD^n, that Samuel slept in the holy place. 


oilier times'^ (see Num. xxiv. 1 ; Judg. xvi. 20, etc.). When 
Samuel replied in accordance with EU's instructions, the Lord 
announced to him that He would carry out the judgment that 
had been threatened against the house of Eli (vers. 11-14). 
*' Behold, I do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears of every 
one that heareth it shall tingle^^ sc. with horror (see 2 Kings 
xxi. 12;. Jer. xix. 3; Hab. i. 5). — Ver. 12. " On that day I will 
perform against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house 
(see ch. ii. 30 sqq.), beginning and finishing itj" i.e. completely. 
13T T^'STiX D'^pHj to set up the word spoken, i.e. to carry it out, or 
accomplish it. In ver. 13 this word is communicated to Samuel, 
so far as its essential contents are concerned. God would judge 
*' the house of Eli for ever because of the iniquity, that he knew 
his sons were preparing a curse for themselves and did not pre- 
vent them^ To judge on account of a crime, is the same as to 
punish it. ^'^^"^'^, i.e. without the punishment being ever 
stopped or removed. ^\0 Dvpi"30, cursing themselves, i.e. bring- 
ing a curse upon themselves. " Therefore I have sworn to the 
house of Eli, that the iniquity of the house of Eli shall not (p^, 
a particle used in an oath, equivalent to assuredly not) be expi- 
ated by slain-offerings and meat-offerings (through any kind of 
sacrifice) for ever." The oath makes the sentence irrevocable. 
(On the facts themselves, see the commentary on ch.ii. 27-36.) 
— Ver. 15. Samuel then slept till the morning ; and when he 
opened the doors of the house of Jehovah, he was afraid to tell 
Eli of the revelation which he had received. Opening the 
doors of the house of God appears to have been part of 
Samuel's duty. We have not to think of doors opening into 
the holy place, however, but of doors leading into the court. 
Originally, when the tabernacle Avas simply a tent, travelling 
with the people from place to place, it had only curtains at the 
entrance to the holy place and court. But when Israel had 
become possessed of fixed houses in the land of Canaan, and 
the dwelling-place of God was permanently erected at Shiloh, 
instead of the tents that were pitched for the priests and 
Levites, who encamped round about during the journey through 
the desert, there were erected fixed houses, which were built 
against or inside the court, and not only served as dwelling- 
places for the priests and Levites who were officiating, but 
were also used for the reception and custody of the gifts that 

CHAP. III. 19-21. 51 

were brought as offerings to the sanctuary. These buildings 
in all probability supplanted entirely the original tent-like 
enclosure around the court ; so that instead of the curtains at 
the entrance, there were folding doors, which were shut in the 
evening and opened again in the morning. It is true that 
nothing is said about the erection of these buildings in our 
historical books, but the fact itself is not to be denied on that 
account. In the case of Solomon's temple, notwithstanding the 
elaborate description that has been given of it, there is nothing 
said about the arrangement or erection of the buildings in 
the court ; and yet here and there, principally in Jeremiah, 
the existence of such buildings is evidently assumed, nxno^ 
visio, a sight or vision. This expression is applied to the word 
of God which came to Samuel, because it was revealed to him 
through the medium of an inward sight or intuition. — Vers. 
16-18. When Samuel was called by Eli and asked concerning 
the divine revelation that he had received, he told him all the 
words, without concealing anything ; whereupon Eli bowed in 
quiet resignation to the purpose of God : ^' It is the Lord ; let 
Him do xohat seemeth Him good" Samuel's communication, 
however, simply confirmed to the aged Eli what God had 
already made known to him through a prophet. But his reply 
proves that, with all his weakness and criminal indulgence 
towards his wicked sons, Eli was thoroughly devoted to the 
Lord in his heart. And Samuel, on the other hand, through 
his unreserved and candid communication of the terribly solemn 
word of God with regard to the man, whom he certainly vene- 
rated with filial affection, not only as high priest, but also as 
his own parental guardian, proved himself to be a man possess- 
ing the courage and the power to proclaim the word of the 
Lord without fear to the people of Israel. 

Vers. 19-21. Thus Samuel grew, and Jehovah was with 
him, and let none of his words fall to the ground, i.e. left no 
word unfulfilled which He spoke through Samuel. (On ?''S)n, 
see Josh. xxi. 45, xxiii. 14, 1 Kings viii. 56.) By this all 
Israel from Dan to Beersheba (see at Judg. xx. 1) perceived 
that Samuel was found trustworthy, or approved (see Num. 
xii. 7) as a prophet of Jehovah. And the Lord continued to 
appear at Shiloh ; for He revealed himself there to Samuel " in 
the iccrd of Jehovah,^' i.e. through a prophetic announcement of 


His word. These three verses form the transition from the 
call of Samuel to the following account of his prophetic labours 
in Israel. At the close of ver. 21, the LXX. have appended 
a general remark concerning Eli and his sons, which, regarded 
as a deduction from the context, answers no doubt to the para- 
phrastic treatment of our book in that version, but in a critical 
aspect is utterly worthless. 


At Samuel's word, the Israelites attacked the Philistines, 
and were beaten (vers. 1, 2). They then fetched the ark of 
the covenant into the camp according to the advice of the 
elders, that they might thereby make sure of the help of the 
almighty covenant God ; but in the engagement which fol- 
lowed they suffered a still greater defeat, in which Eli's sons 
fell and the ark was taken by the Philistines (vers. 3-11). The 
aged Eli, terrified at such a loss, fell from his seat and broke 
his neck (vers. 12-18) ; and his daughter-in-law was taken in 
labour, and died after giving birth to a son (vers. 19-22). 
With these occurrences the judgment began to burst upon the 
house of Eli. But the disastrous result of the war was also to 
be a source of deep humiliation to all the Israelites. Not only 
were the people to learn that the Lord had departed from them, 
but Samuel also was to make the discovery that the deliverance 
of Israel from the oppression and dominion of its foes was 
absolutely impossible without its inward conversion to its God. 

Vers. 1, 2. The two clauses, " The ivord of Samuel came to 
all Israel" and " Israel went out,^^ etc., are to be logically con- 
nected too'ether in the followinij sense: "At the word or instio;a- 
tion of Samuel, Israel went out against the Philistines to battle." 
The Philistines were ruling over Israel at that time. This is 
evident, apart from our previous remarks concerning the con- 
nection between the commencement of this book and the close 
of the book of Judges (see vol. iv. pp. 280 sqq.), from the 
simple fact that the land of Israel was the scene of the war, 
and that nothing is said about an invasion on the part of the 
Philistines. The Israelites encamped at Ebenezer, and the 
Philistines were encamped at Aphek. The name Ebenezer 

CHAP. IV. 3-11. 53 

(" the stone of help") was not given to the place so designated 
till a later period, when Samuel set up a memorial stone there 
to commemorate a victory that was gained over the Philistines 
upon the same chosen battle-field after the lapse of twenty 
years (ch. vii. 12). According to this passage, the stone was 
set up between Mizpeli and Shen. The former was not the 
Mizpeh in the lowlands of Judah (Josh. xv. 38), but the Mizpeh 
of Benjamin (Josh, xviii. 26), i.e., according to Robinson, the 
present Nehy Samwil, two hours to the north-west of Jerusalem, 
and half an hour to the south of Gibeon (see at Josh, xviii. 26). 
The situation of Aphek has not been discovered. It cannot 
have been far from Mizpeh and Ebenezer, however, and was 
probably the same place as the Canaanitish capital mentioned 
in Josh. xii. 18, and is certainly different from the Aphekah 
upon the mountains of Judah (Josh. xv. 53) ; for this was on. 
the south or south-west of Jerusalem, since, according to the 
book of Joshua, it belonged to the towns that were situated in 
the district of Gibeon. — Ver. 2. When the battle was fought, 
the Israelites were defeated by the Philistines, and in battle- 
array four thousand men were smitten upon the field. "^"^V, sc. 
nnnj'ö, as in Judg. xx. 20, 22, etc. n3-ij?ß3, in battle-array, i.e. 
upon the field of battle, not in flight. " /n the field,^^ i.e. the 
open field where the battle was fought. 

Vers. 3-11. On the return of the people to the camp, the 
elders held a council of war as to the cause of the defeat they 
had suffered. " Why hath JeJiovah smitten us to-day before the 
Philistines?" As they had entered upon the war by the word 
and advice of Samuel, they were convinced that Jehovah had 
smitten them. The question presupposes at the same time that 
the Israelites felt strong enough to enter upon the war with 
their enemies, and that the reason for their defeat could only 
be that the Lord, their covenant God, had withdrawn His help. 
This was no doubt a correct conclusion ; but the means which 
they adopted to secure the help of their God in continuing the 
war were alti)sether wrong. Instead of feelino; remorse and 
seeking the help of the Lord their God by a sincere repentance 
and confession of their apostasy from Him, they resolved to 
fetch the ark of the covenant out of the tabernacle at Shiloh 
into the camp, with the delusive idea that God had so insepar- 
ably bound up His gracious presence in the midst of His people 


with this holy ark, which He had selected as the throne of His 
gracious appearance, that He would of necessity come with it 
into the camp and smite the foe. In ver. 4, the ark is called " the 
ark of the covenant of Jehovah of hosts, who is enthroned above 
the cherubim" partly to show the reason why the people had the 
ark fetched, and partly to indicate the hope wdiich they founded 
upon the presence of this sacred object. (See the commentary 
on Ex. XXV. 20—22.) The remark introduced here, " and the 
two sons of Eli loere there with the ark of the covenant of God" 
is not merely intended to show who the guardians of the ark 
were, viz. priests who had hitherto disgraced the sanctuary, but 
also to point forward at the very outset to the result of the 
measures adopted. — Yer. 5. On the arrival of the ark in the 
camp, the people raised so great a shout of joy that the eiirth 
rang again. This was probably the first time since the settle- 
ment of Israel in Canaan, that the ark had been brought into 
the camp, and therefore the people no doubt anticipated from 
its presence a renewal of the marvellous victories gained by 
Israel under Moses and Joshua, and for that reason raised such 
a shout when it arrived. — Vers. 6-8. When the Philistines 
heard the noise, and learned on inquiry that the ark of Jehovah 
had come into the camp, they were thrown into alarm, for 
"the}/ thought {lit. said), God (^Elohirn) is come into the camp, 
and said, " Woe unto us ! For such a thing has not happened 
yesterday and the day before (i.e. never till now). Woe to us! 
Who will deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods ? These 
are the very gods that smote Egypt loith all kinds of plagues in the 
wilderness." The Philistines spoke of the God of Israel in the 
plural, D''"T''nxn D\npxn, as heathen who only knew of gods, and 
not of one Almighty God. Just as all the heathen feared the 
might of the gods of other nations in a certain degree, so the 
Philistines also were alarmed at the might of the God of the 
Israelites, and that all the more because the report of His deeds 
in the olden time had reached their ears (see Ex. xv. 14, 15). 
The expression " in the loilderness " does not compel us to refer 
the words " smote with all the plagues " exclusively to the de- 
struction of Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea (Ex. xiv. 23 
sqq.). "All the plagues" include the rest of the plagues which 
God inflicted upon Egypt, without there being any necessity 
to supply the copula "i before "•^I'sn^ as in the LXX. and Syriac. 

CHAP. IV. 12-22. 55 

By this addition an antithesis is introduced into the words, 
which, if it really were intended, would require to be indicated 
by a previous P.8J3 or Dy"!^^^. According to the notions of the 
Philistines, all the wonders of God for the deliverance of Israel 
out of Egypt took place in the desert, because even when Israel 
was in Goshen they dwelt on the border of the desert, and 
were conducted thence to Canaan. — Ver. 9. But instead of 
despairing, they encouraged -one another, saying, " Shoiu your- 
selves strong, and he men, Philistines, that we may not be 
obliged to serve the Hebrews, as they have served you ; be men, 
andßght !" — Vers. 10, 11. Stimulated in this way, they fought 
and smote Israel, so that every one fled home (" to his tent," 
see at Josh. xxii. 8), and 30,000 men of Israel fell. The ark 
also was taken, and the two sons of Eli died, i.e. were slain 
when the ark was taken, — a practical proof to the degenerate 
nation, that Jehovah, who was enthroned above the cherubim, 
had departed from them, i.e. had withdrawn His gracious pre- 

Vers. 12-22. The tidings of this calamity vrere brought by 
a Benjaminite, who came as a messenger of evil tidings, with 
his clothes rent, and earth upon his head — a sign of the deepest 
mourning (see Josh. vii. 6) — to Shiloh, where the aged Eli was 
sitting upon a seat by the side (T is a copyist's error for ^l") of 
the way watching ; for his heart trembled for the ark of God, 
which had been taken from the sanctuary into the camp with- 
out the command of God. At these tidings the whole city cried 
out with terror, so that Eli heard the sound of the cry, and 
asked the reason of this loud noise (or tumult), whilst the mes- 
seno;er was hurrvino; towards him with the news. — Ver. 15. 
Eli was ninety-eight years old, and " his eyes stood" i.e. were 

^ " It is just the same now, when we take merely a historical Christ 
outside us for our Redeemer. He must prove His help chiefly internally by 
His Holy Spirit, to redeem us out of the hand of the Philistines ; though 
externally He must not be thrown into the shade, as accomplishing our 
justification. H we had not Christ, we could never stand. For there is 
no help in heaven and on earth beside Him. But if we have Him in no 
other way than merely without us and under us, if we only preach about 
Him, teach, hear, read, talk, discuss, and dispute about Plira, take His 
name into our mouth, but will not let Him work and show His power in 
us, He will no more help us than the ark helped the Israelites." — Berle- 
lurger Bible. 


stiff, SO that he could no more see (vid. 1 Kings xiv. 4). This 
is a description of the so-called black cataract {amaurosis), 
which generally occurs at a very great age from paralysis of the 
optic nerves. — Vers. 16 sqq. When the messenger informed him 
of the defeat of the Israelites, the death of his sons, and the 
capture of the ark, at the last news Eli fell back from his seat 
by the side of the gate, and broke his neck, and died. The loss 
of the ark was to him the most dreadful of all — more dreadful 
than the death of his two sons. Eli had judged Israel forty 
years. The reading twenty in the Septuagint does not deserve 
the slightest notice, if only because it is perfectly incredible 
that Eli should have been appointed judge of the nation in 
his seventy-eighth year. — Vers. 19-22. The judgment which 
fell upon Eli through this stroke extended still further. His 
daughter-in-law, the wife of Phinehas, was with child (near) to 
be delivered, ri??^ contracted from rnp? (from 1?^ : see Ges. 
§ 69, 3, note 1 ; ' Ewald, § 238, c). When she' heard the 
tidings of the capture ('^i??'?"''^, " with regard to the being taken 
awaif^) of the ark of God, and the death of her father-in-law 
and husband, she fell upon her knees and was delivered, for 
her pains had fallen upon her {lit. had turned against her), and 
died in consequence. Her death, however, was but a subordi- 
nate matter to the historian. He simply refers to it casually in 
the words, " and about the time of her death" for the purpose 
of giving her last words, in which she gave utterance to her 
grief at the loss of the ark, as a matter of greater importance 
in relation to his object. As she lay dying, the women who 
stood round sought to comfort her, by telling her that she had 
brought forth a son ; but " she did not ansiver, and took no 
notice (3? n^C^ = 37 Dlb', animuni advertere ; cf. Ps. Ixii. 11), 
hut called to the boy {i.e. named him), Ichabod ("i^^^ ""Xj no glory), 
saying. The glory of Israel is departed" referring to the capture 
of the ark of God, and also to her father-in-law and husband. 
She then said again, " Gone (nP3, wandered away, carried off) 
is the glory of Israel, for the ark of God is taken." The repeti- 
tion of these words shows how deeply the wufe of the godless 
Phinehas had taken to heart the carrying off of the ark, and 
how in her estimation the glory of Israel had departed with it. 
Israel could not be brought lower. With the surrender of the 
earthly throne of His glory, the Lord appeared to have abolished 

CHAP. V. 1-6. 57 

His covenant of grace with Israel ; for the ark, with the tables 
of the law and the capporeth, was the visible pledge of the 
covenant of grace which Jehovah had made with Israel. 


Whilst the Israelites were mourning over the loss of the 
ark of God, the Philistines were also to derive no pleasure from 
their booty, but rather to learn that the God of Israel, who 
had given up to them His greatest sanctuary to humble His 
own degenerate nation, was the only true God, beside Whom 
there were no other gods. Not only was the principal deity of 
the Philistines thrown down into the dust and dashed to pieces 
by the glory of Jehovah ; but the Philistines themselves were 
so smitten, that their princes were compelled to send back the 
ark into the land of Israel, together with a trespass-offering, to 
appease the wrath of God, which pressed so heavily upon them. 

Chap. V. The Ark in the Land of the Philistines. — 
Vers. 1—6. The Philistines carried the ark from Ebenezer, 
where they had captured it, into their capital, Ashdod {Esdud ; 
see at Josh. xiii. 3), and placed it there in the temple of Dagon, 
by the side of the idol Dagon, evidently as a dedicatory offering 
to this god of theirs, by whose help they imagined that they 
had obtained the victory over both the Israelites and their God. 
With regard to the image of Dagon, compounded of man and 
fish, i.e. of a human body, with head and hands, and a fish's 
tail, see, in addition to Judg. xvi. 23, Stark's Gaza, pp. 248 
sqq., 308 sqq., and Layard's Nineveh and its Remains, pp. 
466-7, where there is a bas-relief from Khorsabad, in which 
" a figure is seen swimming in the sea, with the upper part of 
the body resembling a bearded man, wearing the ordinary 
conical tiara of royalty, adorned with elephants' tusks, and the 
lower part resembling the body of a fish. It has the hand 
lifted up, as if in astonishment or fear, and is surrounded by 
fishes, crabs, and other marine animals" (Stark, p. 308). As 
this bas-relief represents, according to Layard, the war of an 
Assyrian king with the inhabitants of the coast of Syria, most 
probably of Sargon, who had to carry on a long conflict with 


the Philistian towns, more especially with Ashdod, there can 
hardly be any doubt that we have a representation of the 
Philistian Dagon here. This deity was a personification of 
the generative and vivifying principle of nature, for which the 
fish with its innumerable multiplication was specially adapted, 
and set forth the idea of the giver of all earthly good. — Ver. 3. 
The next morning the Ashdodites found Dagon lying on his 
face upon the ground before the ark of Jehovah, and restored 
him to his place again, evidently supposing that the idol had 
fallen or been thrown down by some accidetit. — Ver. 4. But 
they were obliged to give up this notion when they found the 
god lying on his face upon the ground again the next morning 
in front of the ark of Jehovah, and in fact broken to pieces, 
so that Dagon's head and the two hollow hands of his arms lay 
severed upon the threshold, and nothing was left but the trunk 
of the fish (PJ"^). The word Dagon, in this last clause, is used 
in an appellative sense, viz. the fishy part, or fish's shape, from 
3^, a fish. I^S'SiLi is no doubt the threshold of the door of the 
recess in which the image was set up. We cannot infer from 
this, however, as Thenius has done, that with the small dimen- 
sions of the recesses in the ancient temples, if the image fell 
forward, the pieces named might easily fall upon the threshold. 
This naturalistic interpretation of the miracle is not only proved 
to be untenable by the word Hinna, since ril"i3 means cut ojf, 
and not broken off, but is also precluded by the improbability, 
not to say impossibility, of the thing itself. For if the image of 
Dagon, which was standing by the side of the ark, was thrown 
down towards the ark, so as to lie upon its face in front of it, 
the pieces that were broken off, viz. the head and hands, could 
not have fallen sideways, so as to lie upon the threshold. Even 
the first fall of the image of Dagon was a miracle. From the 
fact that their god Dagon lay upon its face before the ark of 
Jehovah, i.e. lay prostrate upon the earth, as though worship- 
ping before the God of Israel, the Philistines were to learn, that 
even their supreme deity had been obliged to fall down before 
the majesty of Jehovah, the God of the Israelites. But as they 
did not discern the meaning of this miraculous sign, the second 

miracle was to show them the annihilation of their idol through 


the God of Israel, in such a way as to preclude every thought 
of accident. The diso;race attending the annihilation of their 

CHAP. V. 1-6. 59 

idol was probably to be heightened by the fact, that the pieces 
of Dagon that were smitten off were lying upon the threshold, 
inasmuch as what lay upon the threshold was easily trodden 
upon by any one who entered the house. This is intimated in 
the custom referred to in ver. 5, that in consequence of this 
occurrence, the priests of Dagon, and all who entered the temple 
of Dagon at Ashdod, down to the time of the historian himself, 
would not step upon the threshold of Dagon, i.e. the threshold 
where Dagon's head and hands had lain, but stepped over the 
threshold (not " leaped over," as many commentators assume 
on the ground of Zeph. i. 5, which has nothing to do with the 
matter), that they might not touch with their feet, and so 
defile, the place where the pieces of their god had lain. — Ver. 6. 
The visitation of God was not restricted to the demolition of 
the statue of Dagon, but affected the people of Ashdod as well. 
" The hand of Jehovah was heavy upon the Ashdodifes, and laid 
them ivaste." ^P\}, from DpK^, when applied to men, as in Micah 
vi. 13, signifies to make desolate not only by diseases, but also 
by the withdrawal or diminution of the means of subsistence, 
the devastation of the fields, and such like. That the latter is 
included here, is evident from the dedicatory offerings with 
which the Philistines sought to mitigate the wrath of the God 
of the Israelites (ch. vi. 4, 5, 11, 18), although the verse before 
us simply mentions the diseases with which God visited them.^ 
" Ajid He smote them with Ci''^Qy, i.e. boils ;" according to the 
Rabbins, swellings on the anus, mariscce (see at Deut. xxviii. 
27). For D"'^sy the Masoretes have invariably substituted D''"iritpj 

^ At the close of vers. 3 and 6 the Septuagint contains some compre- 
hensive additions ; viz. at the close of ver. 3 : KaJ ißot.pvv6n x^'P Kvpi'ou 
IttI TOtij A^UTiov; Keel ißxaxui^iv cci/rov;, kxI i'TrctTcc^sv oivTOVi s/f raj idpoii 
ecinuv, rvv " h^oirov Kod to, opt» avryj; ; and at the end of ver. 4 : K«i /nitron 
riii x^'P^S cci/T'?,^ dviCpVYfJOCv f^vi; y-ad iysvsro avy^vat; dxvurov f^iyot'hyi iu t>7 
wo'Xsr This last clause we also find in the Vulgate, expressed as follows : 
Et ebalUverunt villse et agri in medio regionis illius, et nati sunt mures, et 
facta est confusio mortis magnse in civitate. Ewald's decision with regard 
to these clauses (Gesch. ii. p. 541) is, that they are not wanted at ch. v. 
3, 6, but that they are all the more necessary at ch. vi. 1 ; whereas at ch. 
V. 3, 6, they would rather injure the sense. Thenius admits that the clause 
appended to ver. 3 is nothing more than a second translation of our sixth 
verse, which has been interpolated by a copyist of the Greek in the wrong 
place ; whereas that of ver. 6 contains the original though somewhat 


which is used in ch. vi. 11, 17, and was probably regarded as 
more decorous. Ashdod is a more precise definition of the 
word them, viz. Ashdod, i.e. the inhabitants of Ashdod and its 

Vers. 7-12. " When the Ashdodites saio that it loas so" they 
were unwilling to keep the ark of the God of Israel any longer, 
because the hand of Jehovah lay heavy upon them and their 
god Dagon ; whereupon the princes of the Philistines {''PP, as 
in Josh. xiii. 3, etc.) assembled together, and came to the reso- 
lution to " let the ark of the God of Israel turn (i.e. be taken) 
to Gath" (ver. 8). The princes of the Philistines probably 
imagined that the calamity which the Ashdodites attributed to 
the ark of God, either did not proceed from the ark, i.e. from 
the God of Israel, or if actually connected with the presence of 
the ark, simply arose from the fact that the city itself was hate- 
ful to the God of the Israelites, or that the Dagon of Ashdod 
was weaker than the Jehovah of Israel : they therefore resolved 
to let the ark be taken to Gath in order to pacify the Ash- 
dodites. According to our account, the city of Gath seems to 
have stood between Ashdod and Ekron (see at Josh, xiii. 3). 
— Ver. 9. But when the ark was brought to Gath, the hand 
of Jehovah came upon that city also with very great alarm. 
T "*? '"'?^'"'^ ^^ subordinated to the main sentence either adver- 
bially or in the accusative. Jehovah smote the people of the 
city, small and great, so that boils broke out upon their hinder 
parts. — Vers. 10-12. They therefore sent the ark of God to 
Ekron, i.e. Akir, the north-western city of the Philistines (see 

corrupt text, according to which the Hebrew text should be emended. But 
an impartial examination would show very clearly, that all these additions 
are nothing more than paraphrases founded upon the context. The last 
part of the addition to ver. 6 is taken verbatim from ver. 11, whilst the first 
part is a conjecture based upon ch. vi. 4, 5. Jerome, if indeed the addi- 
tion in our text of the Vulgate really originated with him, and was not 
transferred into his version from the Itala, did not venture to suppress the 
clause interpolated in the Alexandrian version. This is very evident from 
the words confusio mortis inagnx, which are a literal rendering of avy^cixn; 
öotvärov fieyoiXri ; whereas in ver. 11, Jerome has given to niQ no^no, 
which the LXX. rendered Qvyyjuaii SoivxTov, the much more accurate ren- 
dering pavor mortis. Moreover, neither the Syriac nor Targum JonatJi. 
has this clause ; so that long before the time of Jerome, the Hebrew text 
existed in the form in which the Masoretes have handed it down to us. 

CHAP. VI. 1-3. 61 

at Josh. xiii. 3). But the Ekronites, who had been informed 
of what had taken place in Ashdod and Gath, cried out, when 
the ark came into their city, " Thejj have brought the ark of the 
God of Israel to me, to slay me and my people" (these words 
are to be regarded as spoken by the whole town) ; and they 
said to all the princes of the Philistines whom they had called 
together, " Send aioay the ark of the God of Israel, that it may 
return to its place, and not slay me and my people. For deadly 
alarm (n.l^ npino^ corfusion of death, i.e. alarm produced by 
many sudden deaths) ruled in the xohole city ; very heavy icas the 
hand of God there. The people who did not die were smitten loith 
boils, and the cry of the city ascended to heaven." From this 
description, which simply indicates briefly the particulars of the 
plagues that God inflicted upon Ekron, we may see very clearly 
that Ekron was visited even more severely than Ashdod and 
Gath. This was naturally the case. The longer the Philistines 
resisted and refused to recognise the chastening hand of the 
Hving God in the plagues inflicted upon them, the more severely 
tvould they necessarily be punished, that they might be brought 
at last to see that the God of Israel, whose sanctuary they still 
wanted to keep as a trophy of their victory over that nation, 
was the omnipotent God, who was able to destroy His foes. 

Chap, vi.-vii. 1. The Ark of God sent back. — Vers. 
1—3. The ark of Jehovah was in the land (lit. the fields, as in 
Ruth i. 2) of the Philistines for seven months, and had brought 
destruction to all the towns to which it had been taken. At 
length the Philistines resolved to send it back to the Israelites, 
and therefore called their priests and diviners (see at Num. 
xxiii. 23) to ask them, " What shall we do with regard to the ark 
of God ; tell us, loith ivhat shall we send it to its place ? " " Its 
place " is the land of Israel, and nss does not mean " in what 
manner" {quomodo: Vulgate, Thenius), but with what, xohereivith 
(as in Micah vi. 6). There is no force in the objection brought 
by Thenius, that if the question had implied with what pre- 
sents, the priests would not have answered, " Do not send it icith- 
out a present-/^ for the priests did not confine themselves to 
this answer, in which they gave a general assent, but proceeded 
at once to define the present more minutely. They replied, " If 
they send away the ark of the God of Israel (p^rh'^T^ is to be 


taken as the third person In an indefinite address, as in ch. ii. 
24, and not to be construed with orix supplied), do not send it 
away empty (i.e. without an expiatory offering), but return Him 
(i.e. the God of Israel) a trespass-offering." Dt^t<, lit. guilt, then 
the gift presented as compensation for a fault, the trespass- 
offering (see at Lev. v. 14-26). The gifts appointed by the 
Philistines as an asham were to serve as a compensation and 
satisfaction to be rendered to the God of Israel for the robbery 
committed upon Him by the removal of the ark of the cove- 
nant, and were therefore called asham, although in their nature 
they were only expiatory offerings. For the same reason the 
verb y^'[}, to return or repay, is used to denote the presentation 
of these gifts, being the technical expression for the payment of 
compensation for a fault in Num. v. 7, and in Lev. v. 23 for 
compensation for anything belonging to another, that had been 
unjustly appropriated. " Are ye healed then, it loill show you vjhy 
His hand is not removed from you^^ so. so long as ye keep back the 
ark. The words IXSin tx are to be understood as conditional, 

: IT" T ' 

even without D^5, which the rules of the language allow (see 
Ewald, § 357, b) ; this is required by the context. For, accord- 
ing to ver. 9, the Philistine priests still thought it a possible 
thing that any misfortune which had befallen the Philistines 
might be only an accidental circumstance. With this view, 
they could not look upon a cure as certain to result from the 
sending back of the ark, but only as possible ; consequently 
they could only speak conditionally, and with this the words 
" we shall know " agree. 

Vers. 4-6. The trespass-offering was to correspond to the 
number of the princes of the Philistines. "iSpp is an accusative 
employed to determine either measure or number (see Ewald, 
§ 204, a), lit. " the number of their princes :" the compensations 
were to be the same in number as the princes. " Five golden 
boils, and five golden mice," i.e., according to ver. 5, images 
resembling their boils, and the field-mice which overran the 
land ; the same gifts, therefore, for them all, "for one plague is 
to all and to your princes," i.e. the same jilague has fallen upon 
all the people and their princes. The change of person in the 
two words, ^f^?, " all of them," i.e. the whole nation of the 
Philistines, and D3''_J'ipp, " your pnncßs," appears very strange to 
us with our modes of thought and speech, but it is by no means 

CHAP. VI. 4-6. 63 

unusual in Hebrew. The selection of this peculiar kind of expia- 
tory present was quite in accordance with a custom, which was 
not only widely spread among the heathen but was even adopted 
in the Christian church, viz. that after recovery from an illness, 
or rescue from any danger or calamity, a representation of the 
member healed or the danger passed through was placed as an 
offering in the temple of the deity, to whom the person had 
prayed for deliverance ; ^ and it also perfectly agrees with a 
custom which has prevailed in India, according to Tavernier 
(Ros. Ä. u. iV. Morgenland iii. p. 77), from time immemorial 
down to the present day, viz. that when a pilgrim takes a 
journey to a pagoda to be cured of a disease, he offers to the 
idol a present either in gold, silver, or copper, according to his 
ability, of the shape of the diseased or injured member, and then 
sings a hymn. Such a present passed as a practical acknowledg- 
ment that the god had inflicted the suffering or evil. If offered 
after recovery or deliverance, it was a public expression of thanks- 
giving. In the case before us, however, in which it was offered 
before deliverance, the presentation of the images of the things 
with which they had been chastised was probably a kind of fine or 
compensation for the fault that had been committed against the 
Deity, to mitigate His wrath and obtain a deliverance from the 
evils with which they had been smitten. This is contained in 
the words, "Give glory unto the God of Israel! peradventure He 
will lighten His (punishing) hand from off you, and from off your 

1 Thus, after a shipwreck, any who escaped presanted a tablet to Isis, 
or Neptune, with the representation of a shipwreck upon it ; gladiators 
offered their weapons, and emancipated slaves their fetters. In some of the 
nations of antiquity even representations of the private parts, in which 
a cure had been obtained from the deity, were hung up in the temples 
in honour of the gods (see Schol. ad Aristoph. Acliarn. 243, and other 
proofs in "Winer's Real-wörterbuch, ii. p. 255). Theodoret says, concerning 
the Christians of the fourth century (Therapeutik. Disp. viii) : "Ort li 
'rvy/^a,vov(7tv uvTrip ulrovaiv 0/ viarZig iTrxy/s'K'houTe;, ciycc(pcfjOov fActorvou roe, 
Tovrav ii'ja.&r,i^ccroc,^ T'/jv Ixrpsioiu On'Koui/rcc, 01 fiiv -/xp 6(pdct'h/auv, 0/ ös 'ttoOuv, 
uAMt Oi y^itpuv vpo<T(ptpovatu turv^difixr»' icxi ci fisv ex, ^pvaov, 01 Oe e^ 
v'hri; dpyjpov TriTroiYiCii'ju. di)cirxi yxp 6 rovrwj Aiairorri; x.ot.1 roi ay.iy.ptt. n 
y-tti evu'jsc., rn rov -Ti'poa^pipovro; 'hwocf^.n to 'hcjpou fisrpau. S>jXo7 Ss rctvr» 
TpoKSiiiivx ruv '7rtt.6riy.oi.ruv rvjv "hvaiv, tj; oovtridn f^.vyiy,uoe. -TToipoi ruu dprlav 
yiyzvny.vju'j. And at Rome they still hang up a picture of the danger, 
from which deliverance had been obtained after a vow, in the church of 
the saint invoked in the danger. 


gods, and from off your land." The expression is a pregnant 
one for " make His heavy hand h'ght and withdraw it," i.e. take 
away the punishment. In the alhision to the representations of 
the field-mice, the words " that devastate the land " are added, 
because in the description given of the plagues in ch. v. the 
devastation of the land by mice is not expressly mentioned. The 
introduction of this clause after D3"''n33yj when contrasted with 
the omission of any such explanation after D^vSJ?, is a proof that 
the plague of mice had not been described before, and there- 
fore that the references made to these in the Septuagint at ch. 
V. 3, 6, and ch. vi. 1, are nothing more than explanatory glosses. 
It is a well-known fact that field-mice, with their enormous rate 
of increase and their great voracity, do extraordinary damage 
to the fields. In southern lands they sometimes destroy entire 
harvests in a very short space of time (Aristot. Animal, vi. 37 ; 
Plin. h. n. x. c. Q)b ; Strabo, iii. p. 165 ; vElian, etc., in Bochart, 
Hieroz. ii. p. 429, ed. Ros.). — Ver. 6. " Wherefore" continued 
the priests, " %vill ye harden your heart, as the Egyptians and 
Pharaoh hardened their hearts'? (Ex. vii. 13 sqq.) Was it not the 
case, that lohen He (Jehovah) had let out His power upon them 
(3 <?ynn, as in Ex. x. 2), they (the Egyptians) let them (the 
Israelites) go, and they departed'?" There is nothing strange 
in this reference, on the part of the Philistian priests, to the 
hardening of the Egyptians, and its results, since the report of 
those occurrences had spread among all the neighbouring nations 
(see at ch. iv. 8). And the warning is not at variance with the 
fact that, according to ver. 9, the priests still entertained some 
doubt whether the plagues really did come from Jehovah at all : 
for their doubts did not preclude the possibility of its being so ; 
and even the possibility might be sufficient to make it seem 
advisable to do everything that could be done to mitigate the 
wrath of the God of the Israelites, of whom, under existing 
circumstances, the heathen stood not only no less, but even more, 
in dread, than of the wrath of their own gods. 

Vers. 7-12. Accordingly they arranged the sending back 
in such a manner as to manifest the reverence which ought to 
be shown to the God of Israel as a powerful deity (vers. 7-9). 
The Philistines were to take a new cart and make it ready 
(p^^\ ^11(1 to yoke two milch cows to the cart upon winch no 
yoke had ever come, and to take away their young ones (calves) 


CHAP. VI. 7-12. 65 

from tliem iuto the liouse, i.e. into the stall, and then to put the 
ark upon the cart, along with the golden things to be j)resented 
as a trespass-offering, which were to be in a small chest by the 
side of the ark, and to send it (i.e. the ark) away, that it might 
go, viz. without the cows being either driven or guided. From 
the result of these arrangements, they were to learn whether 
the plague had been sent by the God of Israel, or had arisen 
accidentally. " Jf it (the ark) goeth up hy the way to its border 
towards Bethsltemesh, He (Jehovah) hath done us this great evil; 
hut if not, ive pe^'ceive that His hand hath not touched us. It 
came to us hy chance^^ i.e. the evil came upon us merely by 
accident. In ^[f^V, Q^\^3, and D']^'?.n^^ (ver. 7), the masculine 
is used in the place of the more definite feminine, as being the 
more general form. This is frequently the case, and occurs 
again in vers. 10 and 12. T|1K, which only occurs again in 
vers. 8, 11, and 15, signifies, according to the context and the 
ancient versions, a chest or little case. The suffix to inx refers 
to the ark, which is also the subject to n?^^ (ver. 9). ^''^^r'j the 
territory of the ark, is the land of Israel, where it had its home. 
iTipO is used adverbially : by chance, or accidentally. The new 
cart and the young cows, wdiich had never worn a yoke, corre- 
sponded to the holiness of the ark of God. To place it upon 
an old cart, which had already been used for all kinds of earthly 
purposes, would have been an offence against the holy thing ; 
and it would have been just the same to yoke to the cart 
animals that had already been used for drawing, and had had 
their strength impaired by the yoke (see Deut. xxi. 3). The 
reason for selecting cows, however, instead of male oxen, was 
no doubt to be found in the further object which they hoped to 
attain. It was certainly to be expected, that if suckling cows, 
whose calves had been kept back from them, followed their 
own instincts, without any drivers, they would not go away, but 
would come back to their young ones in the stall. And if the 
very opposite should take place, this would be a sure sign that 
they were driven and guided by a divine power, and in fact by 
the God whose ark they were to draw into His own land. 
From this they would be able to draw the conclusion, that the 
plagues which had fallen upon the Philistines were also sent by 
this God. There was no special sagacity in this advice of the 
■priests ; it was nothing more than a cleverly devised attempt to 



put tlie power of the God of the Israehtes to the test, though 
they thereby unconsciously and against their will furnished the 
occasion for the living God to display His divine glory before 
those who did not know Him. — Vers. 10-12. The God of 
Israel actually did what the idolatrous priests hardly considered 
possible. When the Philistines, in accordance with the advice 
given them by their priests, had placed the ark of the covenant 
and the expiatory gifts upon the cart to which the two cows 
were harnessed, " the coios went straight forward on the way to 
Bethshemesh ; they went along a road going and lowing (i.e. 
lowing the whole time), and turned not to the right or to ihe 
left ; and the princes of the Philistines went behind them to the 
territory of Bethshemesh^ T}'!^^ '^J1?'!j lit- " they were straight 
in the loay^^ i.e. they went straight along the road. The form 
*^yy^\ for i^^"}^^^ is the imperf. Kal, third pers. plur. fem., with 
the preformative "• instead of n, as in Gen. xxx. 38 (see Ges. 
§ 47, Anm. 3 ; Ewald, § 191, l). Bethshemesh, the present 
Ain-shems, was a priests' city on the border of Judah and Dan 
(see at Josh. xv. 10). 

Vers. 13-18. The inhabitants of Bethshemesh were busy 
with the wheat-harvest in the valley (in front of the town), 
when they unexpectedly saw the ark of the covenant coming, 
and rejoiced to see it. The cart had arrived at the field of 
Joshua, a Bethshemeshite, and there it stood still before a large 
stone. And they (the inhabitants of Bethshemesh) chopped up 
the wood of the cart, and offered the cows to the Lord as a 
burnt-offering. In the meantime the Levites had taken off 
the ark, with the chest of golden presents, and placed it upon 
the large stone ; and the people of Bethshemesh offered burnt- 
offerings and slain-offerings that day to the Lord. The princes 
of the Philistines stood looking at this, and then returned the 
same day to Ekron. That the Bethshemeshites, and not the 
Philistines, are the subject to 1Vip3^1, is evident from the correct 
interpretation of the clauses ; viz. from the fact that in ver. 14a 
the words from '^/i'^O^ ^° t "*? ^?^ ^^'^ circumstantial clauses 
introduced into the main clause, and that IVip^^l is attached to 
niX"}7 inpb>>"i, and carries on the principal clause. — Ver. 15a 
contains a supplementary remark, therefore IT'^in is to be trans- 
lated as a pluperfect. After sacrificing the cart, with the cows^ 
as a burnt-offering to the Lord, the inhabitants of Bethshemesh 

CHAP. VI. 13-18. 67 

gave a further practical expression to their joy at the return of 
the ark, by offering burnt-offerings and slain-offerings in praise 
of God. In the burnt-offerings they consecrated themselves 
afresh, with all their members, to the service of the Lord ; and 
in the slain-offerings, which culminated in the sacrificial meals, 
they sealed anew their living fellowship with the Lord. The 
offering of these sacrifices at Bethshemesh was no offence 
against the commandment, to sacrifice to the Lord at -the place 
of His sanctuary alone. The ark of the covenant was the 
throne of the gracious presence of God, before which the 
sacrifices were really offered at the tabernacle. The Lord had 
sanctified the ark afresh as the throne of His presence, by the 
miracle which He had wrought in bringing it back again. — In 
vers. 17 and 18 the different atoning presents, which the Phili- 
stines sent to Jehovah as compensation, are enumerated once 
more : viz. five golden boils, one for each of their five principal 
towns (see at Josh. xiii. 3), and " golden mice, according to the 
number of all the Philistian towns of the five princes, from the 
fortified city to the village of the inhabitants of the level land" 
(perazi; see at Deut. iii. 5). The priests had only proposed that 
five golden mice should be sent as compensation, as well as five 
boils (ver. 4). But the Philistines offered as many images of 
mice as there were towns and villages in their five states, no 
doubt because the plague of mice had spread over the whole 
land, wdiereas the plague of boils had only fallen upon the 
inhabitants of those towns to which tlie ark of the covenant 
had come. In this way the apparent discrepancy between ver. 
4 and ver. 18 is very simply removed. The words which follow, 
viz. '1J1 n^y ifT'in "irs, " upon which they had set down the ark," 
show unmistakeably, when compared with vers. 14 and 15, that 
we are to understand by npiljn ?3S the great stone upon which 
the ark was placed when it was taken off the cart. The con- 
jectui'e of Kimchi, that this stone was called Abel (luctus), on 
account of the mourning which took place there (see ver. 19), 
is extremely unnatural. Consequently there is no other course 
left than to regard ^2X as an error in writing for |3X, according 
to the reading, or at all events the rendering, adopted by the 
LXX. and Targum. But ly"! (even unto) is quite unsuitable 
here, as no further local definition is required after the fore- 
going ''ly^^'^ "123 "ly"), and it is impossible to suppose that the 


Philistines offered a golden mouse as a trespass-offering for the 
great stone upon which the ark was placed. We must there- 
fore alter "lyi. into '^V] : " A7id the gi^eat stone is witness (for lyi 
in this sense, see Gen. xxxi. 52) to this day in the field of Joshua 
the Beihshemeshite" sc. of the fact just described. 

Ver. 19-ch. vii. 1. Disposal of the Ark of God. — 
Yer. 19. As the ark had brought evil upon the Philistines, so 
the inhabitants of Bethshemesh were also to be taught that 
they could not stand in their unholiness before the holy God : 
^^ And He (God) smote among the men of Bethshemesh, because 
they had looked at the ark of Jehovah, and smote among the people 
seventy men, fifty thousand menP In this statement of numbers 
we are not only struck by the fact that the 70 stands before the 
50,000, which is very unusual, but even more by the omission 
of the copula 1 before the second number, which is altogether 
unparalleled. When, in addition to this, we notice that 50,000 
men could not possibly live either in or round Bethshemesh, 
and that we cannot conceive of any extraordinary gathering 
having taken place out of the whole land, or even from the im- 
mediate neighbourhood ; and also that the words ^^'^ ^^. ^""^Pr! 
are wanting in several Hebrew MSS., and that Josephus, in his 
account of the occurrence, only speaks of seventy as having been 
killed {Ant. vi. 1, 4) ; we cannot come to any other conclusion 
than that the number 50,000 is neither correct nor genuine, 
but a gloss which has crept into the text through some over- 
sight, though it is of great antiquity, since the numbers stood 
in the text employed by the Septuagint and Chaldee trans- 
lators, who attempted to explain them in two different ways, but 
both extremely forced. Apart from this number, however, the 
verse does not contain anything either in form or substance that 
could furnish occasion for well-founded objections to its in- 
tegrity. The repetition of 'H!! simply resumes the thought that 
had been broken off by the parenthetical clause "''' |i"iX3 ^X"i ""a ; 
and 0^3 is only a general expression for '^ '^ "'i^'^^r'. The stroke 
which fell upon the people of Bethshemesh is sufficiently 
accounted for in the words, " because they had looked^'' etc. 
There is no necessity to understand these words, however, as 
many Rabbins do, as signifying " they looked into the ark," i.e. 
opened it and looked in ; for if this had been the meaning, the 

CHAP. VI. 19-VII. 1. 69 

opening would certainly not have been passed over without notice, 
nsi") with 2 means to look upo7i or at a thing with lust or mali- 
cious pleasure ; and here it no doubt signifies a foolish staring, 
which was incompatible with the holiness of the ark of God, 
and was punished with death, according to the warning ex- 
pressed in Num. iv. 20. This severe judgment so alarmed the 
people of Bethshemesh, that they exclaimed, " Who is able to 
stand before Jehovah, this holy God!" Consequently the Beth- 
shemeshites discerned correctly enough that the cause of the 
fatal stroke, which had fallen upon them, was the unholiness of 
their own nature, and not any special crime which had been 
committed by the persons slain. They felt that they were none 
of them any better than those who had fallen, and that sinners 
could not approach the holy God. Inspired with this feeling, 
they added, " and to lohom shall He go away from us ?" The 
subject to 7bv\ is not the ark, but Jehovah who had chosen the 
ark as the dwelling-place of His name. In order to avert still 
further judgments, they sought to remove the ark from their 
town. They therefore sent messengers to Kirjath-jearim to 
announce to the inhabitants the fact that the ark had been sent 
back by the Philistines, and to entreat them to fetch it away. 

Ch. vii. 1. The inhabitants of Kirjath-jearim complied with 
this request, and brought the ark into the house of Abinadab 
upon the height, and sanctified Abinadab's son Eleazar to be the 
keeper of the ark. Kirjath-jearim, the present Kuryet el Enab 
(see at Josh. ix. 17), was neither a priestly nor a Levitical city. 
The reason why the ark was taken there, is to be sought for, 
therefore, in the situation of the town, i.e. in the fact that 
Kirjath-jearim was the nearest large town on the road from 
Bethshemesh to Shiloh. "We have no definite information, 
however, as to the reason why it was not taken on to Shiloh, to 
be placed in the tabernacle, but was allowed to remain in the 
house of Abinadab at Kirjath-jearim, where a keeper was ex- 
pressly appointed to take charge of it ; so that vfe can only 
confine ourselves to conjectures. Ewald's opinion {Gesch. ii, 
540), that the Philistines had conquered Shiloh after the victory 
described in ch. iv., and had destroyed the ancient sanctuary 
there, i.e. the tabernacle, is at variance with the accounts given 
in ch. xxi. 6, 1 Kings iii. 4, 2 Chron. i. 3, respecting the continu- 
ance of worship in the tabernacle at Nob and Gibeon. There 


is much more to be said in support of the conjecture, that the 
carrying away of the ark by the PhiUstines was regarded as a 
judgment upon the sanctuary, which had been desecrated by the 
reckless conduct of the sons of Eh, and consequently, that even 
when the ark itself was recovered, they would not take it back 
without an express declaration of the will of God, but were 
satisfied, as a temporary arrangement, to leave the ark in Kir- 
jath-jearim, which was farther removed from the cities of the 
Philistines. And there it remained, because no declaration of 
the divine will followed respecting its removal into the taber- 
nacle, and the tabernacle itself had to be removed from Shiloli 
to Nob, and eventually to Gibeon, until David had effected the 
conquest of the citadel of Zion, and chosen Jerusalem as his 
capital, when it was removed from Kirjath-iearim to Jeru- 
salem (2 Sam. vi.). It is not stated that Abinadab was a 
Levite ; but this is very probable, because otherwise they would 
hardly have consecrated his son to be the keeper of the ark, but 
would have chosen a Levite for the office. 

CHAP. VII. 2-17. 

Vers. 2-4. Purification of Israel from idolatry. — Twenty 
years passed away from that time forward, while the ark re- 
mained at Kirjath-jearim, and all Israel mourned after Jehovah. 
Then Samuel said to them, " If ye turn to the Lord with all 
your heart, put away the strange gods from the midst of you, and the 
Astartes, and direct your heart firmly upon the Lord, and serve 
Him only, that He may save you out of the hand of the Phili- 
stines.^^ And the Israelites listened to this appeal. The single 
clauses of vers. 2 and 3 are connected together by vav consecy 
and are not to be separated from one another. There is no 
gap between these verses; but they contain the same closely 
and logically connected thought,^ which may be arranged in 

' There is no force at all in the proofs which Thenius has adduced of a 
gap between vers. 2 and 3. It by no means follows, that because the 
Philistines had brought back the ark, their rule over the Israelites had 
ceased, so as to make the words " he will deliver you," etc., incomprehen- 
sible. Moreover, the appearance of Samuel as judge does not presuppose 

CHAP. VII. 2-1. 71 

one jDeriod iu the following manner : " And It came to pass, 
\Yhen the days multiplied from the time that the ark remained 
at Kirjath-jearim, and grew to twenty years, and the whole 
house of Israel mourned after Jehovah, that Samuel said," etc. 
The verbs 13"!'1, l"''!'^, and ^^^% are merely continuations of the 
infinitive ^y^', and the main sentence is resumed in the words 
7N^nci' "lON'l. The contents of the verses require that the clauses 
should be combined in this manner. The statement that 
twenty years had passed can only be understood on the suppo- 
sition that some kind of turning-point ensued at the close of 
that time. The complaining of the people after Jehovah was 
no such turning-point, but became one simply from the fact 
that this complaining was followed by some result. This result 
is described in ver. 3. It consisted in the fact that Samuel 
exhorted the people to put away the strange gods (ver. 3) ; and 
that when the people listened to his exhortation (ver. 4), he 
helped them to gain a victory over the Philistines (vers. 5 
sqq.). ins^, from i^\^^, to lament or complain (Micah ii. 4; Ezek. 
xxxii. 18). " The phrase, to lament after God, is taken from 
liuman affairs, when one person follows another with earnest 
solicitations and complaints, until he at length assents. We 
have an example of this in the Syrophenician woman in Matt. 
XV." (Seb. Schmidt). The meaning "to assemble together," 
which is the one adopted by Gesenius, is forced upon the 
word from the Chaldee ''H^ns, and it cannot be shown that 
the word was ever used in this sense in Hebrew. Samuel's 
appeal in ver. 3 recalls to mind Josh. xxiv. 14, and Gen. 
XXXV. 2; but the words, ^^ If ye do return unto the Lord with 
all your hearts,'" assume that the turning of the people to the 
Lord their God had already inwardly commenced, and indeed, 

that his assumption of this office must necessarily have been mentioned 
before. As a general rule, there was no such formal assumption of the 
office, and this would be least of all the case with Samuel, who had been 
recognised as an accredited prophet of Jehovah (ch. iii. 19 sqq.). And 
lastly, the reference to idols, and to their being put away in consequence of 
Samuel's appeal, is intelligible enough, without any express account of theii 
falling into idolatry, if we bear in mind, on the one hand, the constant 
inchnation of the people to serve other gods, and if we observe, on the 
other hand, that Samuel called upon the people to turn to the Lord with all 
their heart and serve Him alone, which not only does not preclude, but 
actually implies, the outward continuance of the worship of Jehovah. 


as the participle Q''2C^ expresses duration, had commenced as a 
permanent thing, and simply demand that the inward turning 
of the heart to God should be manifested outwardly as well, 
by the putting away of all their idols, and should thus be 
carried" out to completion. The " strange gods " (see Gen. 
XXXV. 2) are described in ver. 4 as " Baalim^ On Baalim and 
Ashtaroth, see at Judg. ii. 11, 13. ^2 T?!?, to direct the heart 
firmly : see Ps. Ixxviii. 8 ; 2 Chron. xxx. 19. 

Vers. 5-14. Victory obtained over the Philistines through 
SamueVs prayer. — Vers. 5, 6. When Israel had turned to the 
Liord with all its heart, and had put away all its idols, Samuel 
gathered together all the people at Mizpeh, to prepare them 
for fighting against the Philistines by a solemn day for peni- 
tence and prayer. For it is very evident that the object of 
calling all the people to Mizpeh was that the religious act 
performed there might serve as a consecratiorL.f.Qii..battle, not 
only from the circumstance that, according to ver. 7, when the 
Philistines heard of the meeting, they drew near to make war 
upon Israel, but also from the contents of ver. 5 : " Samuel 
said (sc. to the heads or representatives of the nation), Gather 
all Israel to Mizpeh, and I zoill pray for you tinto the Lord." 
His intention could not possibly have been any other than to 
put the people into the right relation to their God, and thus to 
prepare the way for their deliverance out of the bondage of the 
Philistines. Samuel appointed Mizpeh, i.e. Nehi Samioil, on 
the western boundary of the tribe of Benjamin (see at Josh, 
xviii. 26), as the place of meeting, partly no doubt on historical 
grounds, viz. because it was there that the tribes had formerly 
held their consultations respecting the wickedness of the inhabit- 
ants of Gibeah, and had resolved to make war upon Benjamin 
(Judg. XX. 1 sqq.), but still more, no doubt, because Mizpeh, 
on the western border of the mountains, was the most suitable 
place for commencing the conflict with the Philistnies. — 
Ver. 6. When they had assembled together here, " tliey drew 
water and poured it out before Jehovah, and fasted on that day, 
and said there. We have sinned against the Lord." Drawing 
water and pouring it out before Jehovah was a symbolical act, 
which has been thus correctly explained by the Chaldee, on the 
whole : " They poured out their heart like water in penitence 
before the Lord." This is evident from the figurative expres- 

CHAP. VII. 5-14. 73 

sions, "poured out like water," in Ps. xxii. 15, and "pour out 
thy heart like water," in Lam. ii. 19, which are used to denote 
inward dissolution through pain, misery, and distress (see 2 
Sam. xiv. 14). Hence the pouring out of water before God 
was a symbolical representation of the temporal and spiritual 
distress in which they were at the time, — a practical confession 
before God, " Behold, we are before Thee like water that has 
been poured out ;" and as it was their own sin and rebellion 
against God that had brought this distress upon them, it was 
at the same time a confession of their misery, and an act of the 
deepest humiliation before the Lord. They gave a still further 
practical expression to this humiliation by fasting (D^v), as a 
sig^n of their inward distress of mind on account of their sin, 
and an oral confession of their sin against the Lord. By the 
word DC', which is added to IIOX'I, "they said there" i.e. at 
Mizpeh, the oral confession of their sin is formally separated 
from the two symbolical acts of humiliation before God, thouo;h 
by this very separation it is practically placed on a par with 
them. What they did symbolically by the pouring out of water 
and fasting, they explained and confirmed by their verbal con- 
fession. ^ll^' is never an adverb of time signifying " theii ;^' 
neither in Ps. xiv. 5, cxxxii. 17, nor Judg. v. 11. '^ And thus 
Samuel judged the children of Israel at Mizpeh." tD*^t^'*1 does not 
mean " he became judge " (Mich, and others), any more than 
" he punished every one according to his iniquity " (Thenius, 
after David Kimchi). Judging the people neither consisted in 
a censure pronounced by Samuel afterwards, nor in absolution 
granted to the penitent after they had made a confession of 
their sin, but in the fact that Samuel summoned the nation to 
!Mizpeli to humble itself before Jehovah, and there secured for 
it, through his intercession, the forgiveness of its sin, and a 
renewal of the favour of its God, and thus restored the proper 
relation between Israel and its God, so that the Lord could 
proceed to vindicate His people's rights against their foes. 

When the Philistines heard of the gathering of the Israel- 
ites at Mizpeh (vers. 7, 8), their princes went up against Israel 
to make war upon it ; and the Israelites, in their fear of the 
Philistines, entreated Samuel, " Do not cease to cry for us to the 
Lord our God, that He may save us out of the hand of the Phili- 
.stines." — Yer. 9. ^^ And Samuel took a milk-lamh (a lamb that 


was still sucking, probably, according to Lev. xxii. 27, a lamb 
seven days old), and offered it ivJwle as a hurnt-offering to the 
Lordr ?v3 is used adverbially, according to its original mean- 
ing as an adverb, " wlioleV The Chaldee has not given the 
word at all, probably because the translators regarded it as 
pleonastic, since every burnt-offering was consumed upon the 
altar whole, and consequently the word ^vS was sometimes 
used in a substantive sense, as synonymous with HPiy (Deut. 
xxxiii. 10; Ps. li. 21). But in the passage before us, ? v3 is 
not synonymous with '"i?iy, but simply affirms that the lamb was 
offered upon the altar without being cut up or divided. Samuel 
selected a young lamb for the burnt-offering, not "as being the 
purest and most innocent kind of sacrificial animal," — for it 
cannot possibly be shown that very young animals were re- 
garded as purer than those that were full-grown, — but as being 
the most suitable to represent the nation that had wakened up 
to new life through its conversion to the Lord, and was, as it 
were, new-born. For the burnt-offering represented the man, 
who consecrated therein his life and labour to the Lord. The 
sacrifice was the substratum for prayer. AVhen Samuel offered 
it, he cried to the Lord for the children of Israel ; and the 
Lord ^^ answered" i.e. granted, his prayer. — Ver. 10. When the 
Philistines advanced during the offering of the sacrifice to fight 
against Israel, " Jeliovah thundered with a great noise,'^ i.e. with 
loud peals, against the Philistines, and threw them into confu- 
sion, so that they were smitten before Israel. The thunder, 
which alarmed the Philistines and threw them into confusion 
(DSiT'j as in Josh. x. 10), was the answer of God to Samuel's 
crying to the Lord. — Ver. 11. As soon as they took to flight, 
the Israelites advanced from Mizpeh, and pursued and smote 
them to below Beth-car. The situation of this town or locality, 
which is only mentioned here, has not yet been discovered. 
Josephus (Ant. vi. 2, 2) has fie')(^pc Koppalwv. — Yer. 12. As a 
memorial of this victory, Samuel placed a stone between Mizpeh 
and Shen, to which he gave the name of Ehen-ha-ezer^ i.e. stone 
of help, as a standing memorial that the Lord had thus far J^ 
helped His people. The situation of Shen is also not known. ™ 
The name Shen (i.e. tooth) seems to indicate a projecting point 
of rock (see ch. xiv. 4), but may also signify a place situated 
upon such a point. — Ver. 13. Through this victory which was 

CHAP. VII. 5-14. 75 

obtained bj the miraculous help of God, the Philistines were 
so humbled, that they no more invaded the territory of Israel, 
i.e. with lasting success, as they had done before. This limi- 
tation of the words " thej/ came no more " {lit. " they did not 
add again to come into the border of Israel"), is implied in 
the context ; for the words which immediately follow, " and 
the hand of Jehovah was against the Philistines all the days of 
Samuel" show that they made attempts to recover their lost 
supremacy, but that so long as Samuel lived they were unable 
to effect anything against Israel. This is also manifest from 
the successful battles fought by Saul (ch. xiii. and xiv.), when 
the Philistines had made fresh attempts to subjugate Israel 
during his reign. The defeats inflicted upon them by Saul also 
belong to the days of Samuel, who died but a very few years 
before Saul himself. Because of these battles which Saul 
fought with the Philistines, Lyra and Brentius understand the 
expression " all the days of Samuel " as referring not to the 
lifetime of Samuel, but simply to the duration of his official 
life as judge, viz. till the commencement of Saul's reign. But 
this is at variance with ver. 15, where Samuel is said to have 
judged Israel all the days of his life. Seb. Schmidt has given, 
on the whole, the correct explanation of ver. 13 : " They came 
no more so as to obtain a victory and subdue the Israelites 
as before ; yet they did return, so that the hand of the Lord 
was against them, i.e. so that they were repulsed with great 
slaughter, although they were not actually expelled, or the 
Israelites delivered from tribute and the presence of military 
garrisons, and that all the days that the judicial life of Samuel 
lasted, in fact all his life, since they were also smitten by Saul." 
— Ver. 14. In consequence of the defeat at Ebenezer, the Phili- 
stines were obliged to restore to the Israelites the cities which 
they had taken from them, ^^ from Ekron to Gathl^ This defi- 
nition of the limits is probably to be understood as exclusive, i.e. 
as signifying that the Israelites received back their cities up to 
the very borders of the Philistines, measuring these borders 
from Ekron to Gath, and not that the Israelites received Ekron 
and Gath also. For although these chief cities of the Phili- 
stines had been allotted to the tribes of Judah and Dan in the 
time of Joshua (Josh. xiii. 3, 4, xv. 45, 46), yet, notwith- 
standing the fact that Judah and Simeon conquered Ekron, 


together with Gaza and Askelon, after the death of Joshua 
(Judg. i. 18), the Israelites did not obtain any permanent pos- 
session. ^^ And their territory" (coasts), i.e. the territory of the 
towns that were given back to Israel, not that of Ekron and 
Gath, " did Israel deliver out of the hands of the Philistines. 
And there was peace between Israel and the Amorites ;" i.e. the 
Canaanitish tribes also kept peace with Israel after this victory 
of the Israelites over the Philistines, and during the time of 
Samuel. The Amorites are mentioned, as in Josh. x. 6, as 
being the most powerful of the Canaanitish tribes, who had 
forced the Danites out of the plain into the mountains (Judg. 
i. 34, 35). 

Vers. 15-17. SamueVs judicial labours. — With the calling 
of the people to Mizpeh, and the victory at Ebenezer that had 
been obtained through his prayer, Samuel had assumed the 
government of the whole nation ; so that his office as judge 
dates from this period, although he had laboured as prophet 
among the people from the death of Eli, and had thereby pre- 
pared the way for the conversion of Israel to the Lord. As 
his prophetic labours were described in general terms in ch. iii. 
19-21, so are his labours as Judge in the verses before us : viz. 
in ver. 15 their duration, — " all the days of his life" as his 
activity during Saul's reign and the anointing of David (ch. xv. 
xvi.) sufficiently prove; and then in vers. 16, 17 their general 
character, — " he went round from year to year" (230"! serves as a 
more precise definition of ^^ni, he went and travelled round) to 
Bethel, i.e. Beitin (see at Josh. vii. 2), Gilgal, and Mizpeh (see 
at ver. 5), and judged Israel at all these places. Which Gilgal 
is meant, whether the one situated in the valley of the Jordan 
(Josh. iv. 19), or the Jiljilia on the higher ground to the south- 
west of Shiloh (see at Josh. viii. 35), cannot be determined 
with perfect certainty. The latter is favoured partly by thf 
order in which the three places visited by Samuel on his cir 
cuits occur, since according to this he probably went first of 
all from Eamah to Bethel, which was to the north-east, then 
farther north or north-west to Jiljilia, and then turning back 
went towards the south-east to Mizpeh, and returning thence 
to Ramah performed a complete circuit ; whereas, if the Gilgal 
in the valley of the Jordan had been the place referred to, we 
should expect him to go there first of all from Ramah, and 


tlien towards the north-east to Bethel, and from that to the 
south-west to Mizpeh ; and partly also by the circumstance 
that, according to 2 Kings ii. 1 and iv. 38, there was a school 
of the prophets at Jiljilia in the time of Elijah and Elisha, the 
founding of which probably dated as far back as the days of 
Samuel. If this conjecture were really a w^ell-founded one, it 
would furnish a strong proof that it was in this place, and not 
in the Gilgal in the valley of the Jordan, that Samuel judged 
the people. But as this conjecture cannot be raised into a cer- 
tainty, the evidence in favour of Jiljilia is not so conclusive as 
I myself formerly supposed (see also the remarks on ch. ix. 14). 
nioip?i)n"73 ni< is grammatically considered an accusative, and is 
in apposition to PX'ib'^TiX, lit. Israel, viz. all the places named, 
i.e. Israel which inhabited all these places, and was to be found 
there. ^^ And Ids o^eturn was to jRarnah ;" i.e. after finishino; the 
annual circuit he returned to Kamah, where he had his house. 
There he judged Israel, and also built an altar to conduct the 
religious affairs of the nation. Up to the death of Eli, Samuel 
lived and laboured at Shiloh (ch. iii. 21). But when the ark 
was carried away by the Philistines, and consequently the 
tabernacle at Shiloh lost what was most essential to it as a 
sanctuary, and ceased at once to be the scene of the gracious 
presence of God, Samuel went to his native town Eamah, and 
there built an altar as the place of sacrifice for Jehovah, who 
had manifested himself to him. The buildins; of the altar at 
Ramah would naturally be suggested to the prophet by these 
extraordinary circumstances, even if it had not been expressly 
commanded by Jehovah. 


Chap, viii.-xv. 

The earthly monarchy in Israel was established in the time 
of Samuel, and through his mediation. At the pressing desire 
of the people, Samuel installed the Benjaminite Saul as king, 
according to the command of God. The reign of Saul may 


be divided into two essentially different periods : viz. (1) the 
establishment and vigorous development of his regal supremacy 
(ch. viii.-xv.) ; (2) the decline and gradual overthrow of his 
monai'chy (ch. xvi.-xxxi.). The establishment of the monarchy 
is introduced by the negotiations of the elders of Israel with 
Samuel concerning the appointment of a king (ch. viii.). This 
is followed by (1) the account of the anointing of Saul as king 
(ch. ix. 1-x. 16), of his election by lot, and of his victory over 
the Ammonites and the confirmation of his monarchy at Gilgal 
(ch. X. 17-xi. 15), together with Samuel's final address to the 
nation (ch. xii.) ; (2) the history of Saul's reign, of which only 
his earliest victories over the Philistines are given at all elabo- 
rately (ch. xiii. 1-xiv. 46), his other wars and family history 
being disposed of very summarily (ch. xiv. 47-52) ; (3) the 
account of his disobedience to the command of God in the war 
against the Amalekites, and the rejection on the part of God 
Math which Samuel threatened him in consequence (ch. xv.). 
The brevity with which the history of his actual reign is treated, 
in contrast with the elaborate account of his election and con- 
firmation as king, may be accounted for from the significance 
and importance of Saul's monarchy in relation to the kingdom 
of God in Israel. 

The people of Israel traced the cause of the oppression 
and distress, from which they had suffered more and more in 
the time of the judges, to the defects of their own political 
constitution. They wished to have a king, like all the heathen 
nations, to conduct their wars and conquer their enemies. Now, 
although the desire to be ruled by a king, which had existed in 
the nation even from the time of Gideon, was not in itself at 
variance with the appointment of Israel as a kingdom of God, 
yet the motive which led the people to desire it was both wrong 
and hostile to God, since the source of all the evils and mis- 
fortunes from which Israel suffered was to be found in the 
apostasy of the nation from its God, and its coquetting with 
the gods of the heathen. Consequently their self-willed obsti- 
nacy in demanding a king, notwithstanding the warnings of 
Samuel, was an actual rejection of the sovereignty of Jehovah, 
since He had always manifested himself to His people as their 
king by delivering them out of the power of their foes, as soon 
as they returned to Him with simple penitence of heart. Samuel 


pointed this out to the elders of Israel, when they laid their peti- 
tion before him that he would choose them a king. But Jehovah 
fulfilled their desires. He directed Samuel to appoint them a 
king, who possessed all the qualifications that were necessary to 
secure for the nation what it looked for from a king, and who 
therefore might have established tlie monarchy in Israel as 
foreseen and foretold by Jehovah, if he had not presumed upon 
his own power, but had submitted humbly to the will of God 
as made known to him by the prophet. Saul, who was chosen 
from Benjamin, the smallest but yet the most warlike of all 
the tribes, a man in the full vigour of youth, and surpassing 
all the rest of the people in beauty of form as well as bodily 
strength, not only possessed "warlike bravery and talent, un- 
broken courage that could overcome opposition of every kind, 
a stedfast desire for the well-being of the nation in the face of 
its many and mighty foes, and zeal and pertinacity in the exe- 
cution of his plans" (Ewald), but also a pious heart, and an 
earnest zeal for the maintenance of the provisions of the law, 
and the promotion of the religious life of the nation. He would 
not commence the conflict with the Philistines until sacrifice 
had been offered (ch. xiii. 9 sqq.) ; in the midst of the hot pur- 
suit of the foe he opposed the sin committed by the people in 
eating flesh with the blood (ch. xiv. 32, 33) ; he banished the 
wizards and necromancers out of the land (ch.xxviii. 3, 9); and 
in general he appears to have kept a strict watch over the ob- 
servance of the Mosaic law in his kingdom. But the conscious- 
ness of his own power, coupled with the energy of his character, 
led him astray into an incautious disregard of the commands of 
God ; his zeal in the prosecution of his plans hurried him on 
to reckless and violent measures ; and success in his under- 
takings heightened his ambition into a haughty rebellion against 
the Lord, the God-king of Israel. These errors come out very 
conspicuously in the three great events of his reign which are 
the most circumstantially described. When Saul was preparing 
for war against the Philistines, and Samuel did not appear at 
once on the day appointed, he presumptuously disregarded the 
prohibition of the prophet, and offered the sacrifice himself 
without waiting for Samuel to arrive (ch. xiii. 7 sqq.). In the 
engagement with the Philistines, he attempted to force on the 
annihilation of the foe by pronouncing the ban upon any one 


in his army who should eat bread before the evening, or till he 
had avenged himself upon his foes. Consequently, he not only 
diminished the strength of the people, so that the overthrow of 
the enemy was not great, but he also prepared humiliation for 
himself, inasmuch as he was not able to carry out his vow (ch. 
xiv. 24 sqq.). But he sinned still more grievously in the war 
with the Amalekites, when he violated the express command of 
the Tjord by only executing the ban upon that nation as far as 
he himself thought well, and thus by such utterly unpardon- 
able conduct altogether renounced the obedience which he owed 
to the Lord his God (ch. xv.). All these acts of transgression 
manifest an attempt to secure the unconditional gratification of 
his own self-will, and a growing disregard of the government of 
Jehovah in Israel; and the consequence of the whole was simply 
this, that Saul not only failed to accomplish that deliverance of 
the nation out of the power of its foes which the Israelites had 
anticipated from their king, and was unable to inflict any last- 
ing humiliation upon the Philistines, but that he undermined 
the stability of his monarcliy, and brought about his own 
rejection on the part of God. 

From all this we may see very clearly, that the reason why 
the occurrences connected with the election of Saul as king are 
fully described on the one hand, and on the other only such 
incidents connected with his enterprises after he began to reign 
as served to bring out the faults and crimes of his monarchy, 
was, that Israel might learn from this, that royalty itself could 
never secure the salvation it expected, unless the occupant of 
the throne submitted altogether to the will of the Lord. Of 
the other acts of Saul, the wars with the different nations round 
about are only briefly mentioned, but with this remark, that 
he displayed his strength and gained the victory in whatever 
direction he turned (ch. xiv. 47), simply because this statement 
was sufficient to bring out the brighter side of his reign, inas- 
much as this clearly showed that it might have been a source of 
blessing to the people of God, if the king had only studied how 
to govern his people in the power and according to the will of 
Jehovah. If we examine the history of Saul's reign from thib 
point of view, all the different points connected with it exhibit 
the greatest harmony. Modern critics, however, have discovered 
irreconcilable contradictions in the history, simply because, in- 

CHAP. VIII. 1-5. 81 

stead of studying it for the purpose of fathoming the plan and 
purpose which lie at the foundation, they have entered upon the 
inquiry with a twofold assumption : viz. (1) that the govern- 
ment of Jehovah over Israel Avas only a subjective idea of the 
Israelitish nation, without any objective reality ; and (2) that the 
human monarchy was irreconcilably opposed to the government 
of God. Governed by these axioms, which are derived not from 
the Scriptures, but from the philosophical views of modern 
times, the critics have found it impossible to explain the diffe- 
I'ent accounts in any other way than by the purely external 
hypothesis, that the history contained in this book has been 
compiled from two different sources, in one of which the estab- 
lishment of the earthly monarchy veas treated as a violation 
of the supremacy of God, whilst the other took a more favour- 
able view. From the first source, ch. viii., x. 17-27, xi., xii., 
and XV. are said to have been derived; and ch. ix.-x. 17, xiii., 
and xiv. from the second. 


As Samuel had appointed his sons as judges in his old age, 
and they had perverted justice, the elders of Israel entreated 
him to appoint them a king after the manner of all the nations 
(vers. 1-5). This desire not only displeased Samuel, but Jeho- 
vah also saw in it a rejection of His government ; nevertheless 
He commanded the prophet to fulfil the desire of the people, 
but at the same time to set before them as a w'arning the prero- 
gatives of a king (vers. 6-9). This answ'er from God, Samuel 
made known to the people, describing to them the prerogatives 
which the king would assume to himself above the rest of the 
people (vers. 10-18). As the people, however, persisted in their 
wish, Samuel promised them, according to the direction of God, 
that their wishes should be gratified (vers. 19-22). 

Vers. 1-5. The reason assigned for the appointment of 
Samuel's sons as judges is his own advanced age. The infer- 
ence which we might draw from this alone, namely, that they 
were simply to support their father in the administration of 
justice, and that Samuel had no intention of laying down his 
office, and still less of making the supreme office of judge here- 
ditary in his family, is still more apparent from the fact that 



they were stationed as judges of the nation in Beersheba, which 
was on the southern border of Canaan (Judg. xx. 1, etc. ; see at 
Gen. xxi. 31). The sons are also mentioned again in 1 Chron. 
vi. 13, though the name of the elder has either been dropped 
out of the Masoretic text or has become corrupt. — Yer. 3. The 
sons, however, did not walk in the ways of their father, but set 
their hearts upon gain, took bribes, and perverted justice, in 
opposition to the command of God (see Ex. xxiii. 6, 8 ; Deut. 
xvi. 19). — Vers. 4, 5. These circumstances (viz. Samuel's age 
and the degeneracy of his sons) furnished the elders of Israel 
with the opportunity to apply to Samuel with this request : 
" Appoint us a king to judge us, as all the nations " (the heathen), 
sc. have kings. This request resembles so completely the law 
of the king in Deut. xvii. 14 (observe, for example, the expres- 
sion D)i2n"733), that the distinct allusion to it is unmistakeable. 
The custom of expressly quoting the book of the law is met with 
for the first time in the writings of the period of the captivity. 
The elders simply desired what Jehovah had foretold through 
His servant Moses, as a thing that would take place in the 
future and for which He had even made provision. 

Vers. 6-9. Nevertheless " the thing displeased Samuel lohen 
they said" etc. This serves to explain "'^'in, and precludes the 
supposition that Samuel's displeasure had reference to what 
they had said concerning his own age and the conduct of his 
sons. At the same time, the reason why the petition for a king 
displeased the prophet, was not that he regarded the earthly 
monarchy as irreconcilable with the sovereignty of God, or 
even as untimely ; for in both these cases he would not have 
entered into the question at all, but would simply have refused 
the request as ungodly or unseasonable. But " Samuel prayed 
to the Lord" i.e. he laid the matter before the Lord in prayer, 
and the Lord said (ver. 7) : ^^ Hearken unto the voice of the people 
in all that they say unto thee." This clearly implies, that not only 
in Samuel's opinion, but also according to the counsel of God, 
the time had really come for the establishment of the earthly 
sovereignty in Israel. In this respect the request of the elders 
for a king to reign over them was perfectly justifiable ; and 
there is no reason to say, with Calvin, "they ought to have 
had regard to the times and conditions prescribed by God, and 
it would no doubt have come to pass that the regal power would 

CHAP. VIII. 6-9. 83 

have grown up in the nation. Although, therefore, it had 
not yet been estabhshed, they ought to have waited patiently 
for the time appointed by God, and not to have given way to 
their own reasons and counsels apart from the will of God." 
For God had not only appointed no particular time for the 
establishment of the monarchy ; but in the introduction to the 
la^v for the king, " When thou shalt say, I will set a king over 
me," Pie had ceded the right to the representatives of the 
nation to deliberate upon the matter. Nor did they err in this 
respect, that while Samuel was still living, it was not the proper 
time to make use of the permission that they had received ; 
for they assigned as the reason for their application, that 
Samuel had grown old : consequently they did not petition for 
a king instead of the prophet who had been appointed and so 
gloriously accredited by God, but simply that Samuel himself 
would give them a Idng in consideration of his own age, in 
order that when he should become feeble or die, they might have 
a judge and leader of the nation. Nevertheless the Lord de- 
clared, " They have not rejected thee, hut they have rejected me, that 
I should not reign over them. Äs they have always done from the 
day that I brought them up out of Egypt unto this day, that they 
have for sahen me and served other gods, so do they also unto thee^ 
This verdict on the part of God refers not so much to the desire 
expressed, as to the feelings from which it had sprung. Exter- 
nally regarded, the elders of Israel had a perfect right to pre- 
sent the request; the wrong was in their hearts.^ They not 
only declared to the prophet their confidence in his administra- 
tion of his office, but they implicitly declared him incapable of 
any furtlier superintendence of their civil and political affairs. 
This mistrust was founded upon mistrust in the Lord and His 

^ Calvin has correctly pointed out how much would have been warrant- 
able under the circumstances : "They might, indeed, have reminded Samuel 
of his old age, which rendered him less able to attend to the duties of his 
oflBce, and also of the avarice of his sons and the corruptness of the judges; 
or they might have complained that his sons did not walk in his footsteps, 
and have asked that God would choose suitable men to govern them, and 
thus have left the whole thing to His will. And if they had done this, there 
can be no doubt that they would have received a gracious and suitable 
answer. But they did not think of calling upon God ; they demanded that 
a king should be given them, and brought forward the customs and insti- 
tutions of other nations." 


guidance,. In the person of Samuel they rejected the Lord and 
His rule. They wanted a king, because they imagined that 
Jehovah their God-king was not able to secure their constant 
prosperity. Instead of seeking for the cause of the misfortunes 
which had hitherto befallen them in their own sin and want of 
fidelity towards Jehovah, they searched for it in the faulty con- 
stitution of the nation itself. In such a state of mind as this, 
their desire for a king was a contempt and rejection of the 
kingly government of Jehovah, and was nothing more than 
forsaking Jehovah to serve other gods. (See ch. x. 18, 19, and 
eh. xii. 7 sqq., where Samuel points out to the people still 
more fully the wrong that tliey have committed.) — Ver. 9. In 
order to show them wherein they were wrong, Samuel was in- 
structed to bear witness against them, by proclaiming the right 
of the kino; who would rule over them. Dna T'^n lyn neither 
means " warn them earnestly " (De Wette), nor " explain and 
solemnly expound to them" (Thenius). 3 T'l/n means to hear 
loitness, or give testimony against a person, i.e. to point out to 
him his wrong. The following words, '1^1 ^']^'^\ are to be under- 
stood as explanatory, in the sense of " hy proclaiming to tliemr 
*' The manner in%isli'pa£) of the king" is the right ov prerogative 
which the king would claim, namely, such a king as was 
possessed by all the other nations, and such an one as Israel 
desired in the place of its own God-king, i.e. a king who would 
rule over his people with arbitrary and absolute power. 

Vers. 10-18. In accordance with the instructions of God, 
Samuel told the people all the words of Jehovah, i.e. all that 
God had said to him, as related in vers. 7-9, and then pro- 
claimed to them the right of the king. — Ver. 11. "/Zg will take 
your sons, and set them for himself upon his chariots, and upon 
his saddle-horses, and they loill run before his chariot;^ i.e. he will 
make the sons of the people his retainers at court, his charioteers, 
riders, and runners. The singular suffix attached to ina3"iD3 is 
not to be altered, as Thenius suggests, into the plural form, 
according to the LXX., Chald., and Syr., since the word 
refers, not to war-chariots, but to the king's state-carriage ; and 
Cha does not mean a rider, but a saddle-horse, as in 2 Sam. i. 6, 
1 Kings V. 6, etc. — Ver. 12. " And to make himself chiefs over 
thousands and over fifties ;" — the greatest and smallest military 
officers are mentioned, instead of all the soldiers and officers 

CHAP. VIII. 19-22. 85 

(comp. Num. xxxi. 14, 2 Kings i. 9 sqq., with Ex. xviii. 21, 25). 
D^bvl is also dependent upon Hi^'; (ver. 11), — ^^ and to plough his 
field ip'^y}, lit. the ploughed), and reap his harvest, and make 
his instruments of tear and instruments of his chariots." — Ver. 13. 
" Your daughters he loill take as preparers of ointments, cooks, and 
bake.j's," sc. for his court. — Vers. 14 sqq. All their possessions 
he would also take to himself : the good (i.e. the best) fields, 
vineyards, and olive-gardens, he would take away, and give to 
his servants ; he would tithe the sowings and vineyards (i.e. the 
produce which they yielded), and give them to his courtiers and 
servants. 0^19, lit. the eunuch ; here it is used in a wider sense 
for the ror/al chamberlains. Even their slaves (men-servants 
and maid-servants) and their beasts of draught and burden he 
would take and use for his own work, and raise the tithe of the 
flock. The word D?''"?.^^?, between the slaves (men-servants and 
maid-servants) and the asses, is very striking and altogether un- 
suitable ; and in all probability it is only an ancient copyist's error 
for D3''"?.i?3, your oxen, as we may see from the LXX. rendering, 
ra ßovKoXia. The servants and maids, oxen and asses, answer 
in that case to one another ; whilst the young men are included 
among the sons in vers. 11, 12. In this way the king would 
make all the people into his servants or slaves. This is the 
meaning of the second clause of ver. 17 ; for the whole are 
evidently summed up in conclusion in the expression, " and ye 
shall be his servants." — Ver. 18. Israel would then cry out to God 
because of its king, but the Lord would not hear it then. This 
description, ■which contains a fearful picture of the tyranny of the 
king, is drawn from the despotic conduct of the heathen kings, 
and does not presuppose, as many have maintained, the times 
of the later kings, which were so full of painful experiences. 

Vers. 19-22. With such a description of the " right of the 
king" as this, Samuel had pointed out to the elders the dangers 
connected with a monarchy in so alarming a manner, that they 
ought to have been brought to reflection, and to have desisted 
from their demand. " But the people refused to hearken to the 
voice of SamueV They repeated their demand, " We ivill have 
a king over us, that we also may he like all the nations, and that 
our king may judge us, and go out before us, and conduct our 
battles'' — Vers. 21, 22. These words of the people were laid by 
Samuel before the Lord, and the Lord commanded him to give 


the people a king. With this answer Samuel sent tlie men of 
Israel, i.e. the elders, away. This is implied in the words, " Go 
ye every man unto his city" since we may easily supply from the 
context, " till I shall call you again, to appoint you the king you 


When the Lord had instructed Samuel to appoint a king 
over the nation, in accordance with its own desire, He very 
speedily proceeded to show him the man whom He had chosen. 
Saul the Benjaminite came to Samuel, to consult him as a seer 
about his father's she-asses, which had been lost, and for which 
he had been seeking in all directions in vain (ch. ix. 1-14). And 
the Lord had already revealed to the prophet the day before, 
that He would send him the man who had been set apart by 
Him as the king of Israel ; and when Samuel met with Saul, 
He pointed him out as the man to whom He had referred (vers. 
15-17). Accordingly, Samuel invited Saul to be his guest at a 
sacrificial meal, which he was about to celebrate (vers. 18-24). 
After the meal he made known to him the purpose of God, 
anointed him as king (vers. 25-27, ch. x. 1), and sent him away, 
with an announcement of three signs, which would serve to 
confirm his election on the part of God (ch. x. 2-16). This 
occurrence is related very circumstantially, to bring out dis- 
tinctly the miraculous interposition of God, and to show that 
Saul did not aspire to the throne; and also that Samuel did not 
appoint of his own accord the man whom he was afterwards 
obliged to reject, but that Saul was elected by God to be king 
over His people, without any interference on the part of either 
Samuel or himself.^ 

Ch. ix. 1-10. Saul searches for his fathers asses. — Vers. 
1, 2. The elaborate genealogy of the Benjaminite Kish, and 
the minute description of the figure of his son Saul, are in- 

* There is no tenable ground for the assumption of Thenius and others, 
that this account was derived from a different source from ch. viii., x. 17-27, 
and xi. sqq. ; for the assertion that ch. x. 17-27 connects itself in the 
most natural way with ch. viii. is neither well-founded nor correct. , In 
the first place, it was certainly more natural that Samuel, who was to place 
a king over the nation according to the appointment of God, shoidd be 

CHAP. IX. 1-10. 87 

tended to Indicate at tlie very outset the importance to which 
Saul attained in relation to the people of Israel. Kish was the 
son of Ahiel : this is in harmony with ch. xiv. 51. But when, 
on the other hand, it is stated in 1 Chron. viii. 33, ix. 39, that 
JVer begat Kish^ the difference may be reconciled in the simplest 
manner, on the assumption that the iVer mentioned there is not 
the father, but the grandfather, or a still more remote ancestor 
of Kish, as the intervening members are frequently passed over 
in the genealogies. The other ancestors of Kish are never 
mentioned again. ?\J] 1133 refers to Kish, and signifies not a 
brave man, but a man of property, as in Ruth ii. 1. This son 
Saul {i.e. ^^ prayed for :'' for this meaning of the word, comp, 
ch. i. 17, 27) was " young and beautiful" It is true that 
even at that time Saul had a son grown up (viz. Jonathan), 
according to ch. xiii. 2 ; but still, in contrast with his father, he 
was " a young man," i.e. in the full vigour of youth, probably 
about forty or forty-five years old. There is no necessity, 
therefore, to follow the Vulgate rendering electus. No one 
equalled him in beauty. " From his shoidder upwards he was 
higher than any of the people" Such a figure as this was well 
adapted to commend him to the people as their king (cf. ch. x. 
24), since size and beauty were highly valued in rulers, as signs 
of manly strength (see Herod, iii. 20, vii. 187 ; Aristot. Polit. 
iv. c. 24). — Yers. 3-5. Having been sent out by his father to 
search for his she-asses which had strayed, Saul went with his 
servant through the mountains of Ephraim, which ran south- 
wards into the tribe-territory of Benjamin (see at ch. i. 1), then 
through the land of Shalishah and the land of Shaalirn, and after 
that through the land of Benjamin, without finding the asses ; 
and at length, when he had reached the land of Zuph, he deter- 
mined to return, because he was afraid that his father might 
turn his mind from the asses, and trouble himself about them 
(the son and servant). (!? T}J^j to desist from a thing, to give it 
up or renounce it. 

made acquainted with the man whom God had appointed, before the people 
elected him by lot. And secondly, Saul's behaviour in hiding himself when 
the lots were cast (ch. s. 21 sqq.), can only be explained on the supposition 
that Samuel had already informed him that he was the appointed king ; 
whereas, if this had not been the case, it would be altogether incompre- 
hensible. •' 


As Saul started in any case from Gibeah of Benjamin, his 
own home (eh. x. 10 sqq., 26, xi. 4, xv. 34, xxiii. 19, xxvi. 1), 
i.e. the present Tuleil el PIml, which was an hour or an hour 
and a half to the north of Jerusalem (see at Josh, xviii. 28), 
and went thence into the mountains of Ephraim, he no doubt 
took a north-westerly direction, so that he crossed the boundary 
of Benjamin somewhere between Bireh and Atarah, and passing 
through the crest of the mountains of Ephraim, on the west of 
Gophnah (Jifna), came out into the land of Shalishah. Sha- 
lishah is unquestionably the country round (or of) Baal-shaKshah 
(2 Kings iv. 42), which was situated, according to Eusebius 
(^Onom. s.v. BaiOaapLcrdO : Beth-sarisa or Beth-salisa), in regione 
Thamnitica, fifteen Roman miles to the north of Diospolis 
(Lydda), and was therefore probably the country to the west 
of Jiljilia, where three different wadys run into one large 
wady, called Kurawa ; and according to the probable conjecture 
of Thenius, it was from this fact that the district received the 
name of Shalishah, or Three-land. They proceeded thence in 
their search to the land of Shaalim : according to the Onom. 
(s.v.), " a village seven miles off, in finihus Eleutheropoleos 
contra occidentemr But this is hardly correct, and is most 
likely connected with the mistake made in transposing the town 
of Samuel to the neighbourhood of Diospolis (see at ch. i. 1). 
For since they went on from Shaalim into the land of Benjamin, 
and then still further into the land of Zuph, on the south-west 
of Benjamin, they probably turned eastwards from Shalishah, 
into the country where we find Bent Mussah and Beni Salem 
marked upon Robinson's and v. de Velde's maps, and where we 
must therefore look for the land of Shaalim, that they might 
proceed thence to explore the land of Benjamin from the north- 
east to the south-west. If, on the contrary, they had gone 
from Shaalim in a southerly or south-westerly direction, to the 
district of Eleutheropolis, they M'ould only have entered the 
land of Benjamin at the south-west corner, and would have 
had to go all the way back again in order to go thence to the 
land of Zuph. For we may infer with certainty that the 
land of Zuph was on the south-west of the tribe-territory of 
Benjamin, from the fact that, according to ch. x. 2, Saul 
and his companion passed .Rachel's tomb on their return 
thence to their own home, and then came to the border of 

CHAP. IX. 1-10. 89 

Benjamin. On the name Zuph, see at cli. i. 1 — Vor. G. When 
Saul proposed to return home from the land of Zuph, his 
servant said to him, " Behold, in this city (' this^ referring to 
the town which stood in front of them upon a hill) is a man of 
God, much honoured ; all that he saith cometh surely to pass : 
now we loill go thither ; perhaps he ivill tell us our loay that ice 
have to go''' (lit. have gone, and still go, sc. to attain the object 
of our journey, viz. to find the asses). The name of this town 
is not mentioned either here or in the further course of this 
history. Nearly all the commentators suppose it to have been 
Ramah, Samuel's home. But this assumption has no founda- 
tion at all in the text, and is irreconcilable with the statements 
respecting the return in ch. x. 2-5. The servant did not say 
there dioells in this city, but there is in thic city (ver. 6 ; comp, 
with this ver. 10, " They went into the city where the man of 
God was," not "dwelt"). It is still more evident, from the 
answer given by the drawers of water, when Saul asked them, 
"Is the seer here?'' (ver. 11), — viz. "He came to-day to the 
city, for the people have a great sacrifice upon the high place'' 
(ver. 12), — that the seer (Samuel) did not live in the town, but 
had only come thither to a sacrificial festival. Moreover, " every 
impartial man will admit, that the fact of Samuel's having 
honoured Saul as his guest at the sacrificial meal of those who 
participated in the sacrifice, and of their having slept under the 
same roof, cannot possibly weaken the impression that Samuel 
was only there in his peculiar and ofiicial capacity. It could not 
be otherwise than that the presidency should be assigned to him 
at the feast itself as priest and prophet, and therefore that the 
appointments mentioned should proceed from him. And it is 
but natural to assume that he had a house at his command for 
any repetition of such sacrifices, Avhich we find from 2 Kings 
iv. to have been the case in the history of Elisha" (Valentiner). 
And lastly, the sacrificial festival itself does not point to Ramah ; 
for although Samuel had built an altar to the Lord at Ramah 
(ch. vii. 17), this was by no means the only place of sacrifice in 
the nation. If Samuel offered sacrifice at Mizpeli and Gilgal 
(ch. vii. 9, X. 8, xiii. 8 sqq.), he could also do the same at other 
places. What the town really was in which Saul met with him, 
cannot indeed be determined, since all that we can gather from 
ch. X. 2 is, that it was situated on the south-west of Bethlehem. 


— Vers. 7-10. Saul's objection, that tliey had no present to 
bring to the man of God, as the bread was gone from their 
vessels, was met by the servant with the remark, that he had a 
quarter of a shekel which he would give. — Ver. 9. Before pro- 
ceeding with the further progress of the affair, the historian 
introduces a notice, which was required to throw light upon 
what follows; namely, that beforetime, if any one wished to 
inquire of God, i.e. to apply to a prophet for counsel from God 
upon any matter, it was customary in Israel to say. We will go 
to the seer, because " he that is now called a prophet icas before- 
time called a seer."" After this parenthetical remark, the account 
is continued in ver. 10. Saul declared himself satisfied with 
the answer of the servant ; and they both went into the town, 
to ask the man of God about the asses that were lost. 

Vers. 11-17. As they were going up to the high place of 
the town, they met maidens coming out of the town to draw 
water ; and on asking them whether the seer was there, they 
received this answer : " Yes; behold, he is before thee: mahe haste 
now, for he has come into the town to-day ; for the people have a 
sacrifice to-day wpon the high placed Bamah (in the singular) 
does not mean the height or hill generally ; but throughout it 
signifies the high place, as a place of sacrifice or praj^er. — 
Ver. 13. " When ye come into the city, ye loillfind him directly, 
before he goes up to the high place to eatV 13 not only intro- 
duces the apodosis, but corresponds to 3, as, so : here, how- 
ever, it is used with reference to time, in the sense of our 
" immediately." " For the people are not accustomed to eat till 
he comes, for he blesses the sacrifice,^^ etc. T}.-^, like evXajelv, 
refers to the thanksgiving prayer offered before the sacrificial 
meal. " Go now for him ; ye loill meet him even to-day." The 
first inx is placed at the beginning for the sake of emphasis, 
and then repeated at the close. Qi^nz), ^^Even to-day ^ — Ver. 14. 
When they went into the town, Samuel met them on his way 
out to go to the high place of sacrifice. Before the meeting 
itself is described, the statement is introduced in vers. 15-17, 
that the day before Jehovah had foretold to Samuel that the man 
was coming to him whom he was to anoint as captain over his 
people. ]]^ npSj to open any ones ear, equivalent to reveal some- 
thing to him (ch. xx. 12 ; 2 Sam. vii. 27, etc.). npK'X, Iioillsend 
thee, i.e. " I will so direct his way in my overruling providence, 

CHAP. IX. 18-24. 91 

that he shall come to thee" (J. H. Mich.). The words, " that 
he may save my people out of the hand of the Philistines ; for 1 
have looked upon my people, for their cry is come unto me" are 
not at all at variance with eh. vii. 13. In that passage there is 
simply the assertion, that there was no more any permanent 
oppression on the part of the Philistines in the clays of Samuel, 
such as had taken place before ; but an attempt to recover their 
supremacy over Israel is not only not precluded, but is even 
indirectly affirmed (see the comm. on ch. vii. 13). The words 
before us simply show that the Philistines had then begun to 
make a fresh attempt to contend for dominion over the Israel- 
ites. " / have looked upon my people ;" this is to be explained 
like the similar passage in Ex. ii. 25, " God looked upon the 
children of Israel," and Ex. iii. 7, " I have looked upon the 
misery of my people." God's looking was not a quiet, inactive 
looking on, but an energetic look, which brought help in trouble. 
" Their cry is come unto me :" this is word for word the same 
as in Ex. iii. 9. As the Philistines wanted to tread in the foot- 
steps of the Egyptians, it was necessary that Jehovah should 
also send His people a deliverer from these new oppressors, by 
giving them a king. The reason here assigned for the estab- 
lishment of a monarchy is by no means at variance with the 
displeasure which God had expressed to Samuel at the desire of 
the people for a king (ch. viii. 7 sqq.) ; since this displeasure 
had reference to the state of heart from which the desire had 
sprung. — Ver. 17. When Samuel saw Saul, the Lord answered 
him, sc. in reply to the tacit inquiry, ' Is this he?' " Behold, 
this is the man of ivhom I spake to thee^ "i^'J?, coercere imperio. 
Vers. 18-24. The thread of the narrative, which was 
broken off in ver. 15, is resumed in ver. 18. Saul drew near 
to Samuel in the gate, and asked him for the seer's house. 
The expression '^V^<] ^ina is used to define more precisely the 
general phrase in ver. 14, '^''^[} ^inn D^S3; and there is no 
necessity to alter ">''J'n in ver. 14 into iJ^t^ö? as Thenius proposes, 
for '^'^V^ ^ina Ni3 does not mean to go (or be) in the middle of 
the town, as he imagines, but to go into, or enter, the town ; 
and the entrance to the town was through the gate. — Ver. 19. 
Samuel replied, "/ am the seer: go up before me to the high 
place, and eat with me to-day ; and to-morroio I will send thee 
away, and make known to thee all that is in thy heart" Letting 


a person go in front was a sign of great esteem. The change 
from the singular npy to the plural Q^^c'^X may be explained on 
the ground that, whilst Samuel only spoke to Saul, he intended 
expressly to invite his servant to the meal as well as himself. 
" All that is in thine heart^^ does not mean " all that thou hast 
upon thy heart," i.e. all that troubles thee, for Samuel relieved 
him of all anxiety about the asses at once by telling him that 
they were found ; but simply the thoughts of thy heart gene- 
rally. Samuel would make these known to him, to prove to him 
that he was a prophet. He then first of all satisfied him respect- 
ing the asses (ver. 20) : " As for the asses that were lost to thee 
to-day three days (three days ago), do not set thy heart upon them. 
(i.e. do not trouble thyself about them), for they are found." 
After this quieting announcement, by which he had convinced 
Saul of his seer's gift, Samuel directed Saul's thoughts to that 
higher thing which Jehovah had appointed for him: "And to 
whom does all that is worth desiring of Israel belong f is it not 
to thee, and to all thy father's houseV^ " The desire of Israel" 
{optima quceque Israel, Vulg. ; " the best in Israel," Luther) 
is not all that Israel desires, but all that Israel possesses of what 
is precious or ivorth desiring (see Hag. ii. 7). "The antithesis 
here is between the asses and every desirable thing " (Seb. 
Schmidt). Notwithstanding the indefinite character of the words, 
they held up such glorious things as in prospect for Saul, that he 
replied in amazement (ver. 21), "Am not I a Benjaminite, of the 
smallest of the tribes of Israel? and my family is the least of all 
the families of the tribe of Benjamin ('i3 ''t33tJ' is unquestionably 
a copyist's error for 'J2 ti^C^) ; and hoio speakest thou such a loord 
to meV Samuel made no reply to this, as he simply wanted 
first of all to awaken the expectation in Saul's mind of things 
that he had never dreamt of before. — Ver. 22. When they 
arrived at the high place, he conducted Saul and his servant 
into the cell (the apartment prepared for the sacrificial meal), 
and gave them (the servant as well as Saul, according to the 
simple customs of antiquity, as being also his guest) a place at 
the upper end among those who had been invited. There were 
about thirty persons present, no doubt the most distinguished 
men of the city, whilst the rest of the people probably encamped 
in the open air. — Vers. 23, 24. He then ordered the cook to 
bring the piece which he had directed him to set aside, and to 

CHAP. IX. 25-27. 93 

place it before Saul, namely the leg and f^ vj?n (the article in 
the place of the relative ; see Ewald, § 331, h) ; i.e. not what 
was over it, viz. the broth poured upon it (Dathe and Maurer), 
but what was attached to it (Luther). The x'eference, however, 
is not to the kidney as the choicest portion (Thenius), for the 
kidneys w^ere burned upon the altar in the case of all the slain 
sacrifices (Lev. iii. 4), and only the flesh of the animals offered 
in sacrifice was applied to the sacrificial meal. What was at- 
tached to the leg, therefore, can only have been such of the fat 
upon the flesh as was not intended for the altar. Whether the 
right or left leg, is not stated : the earlier commentators decide 
in favour of the left, because the right leg fell to the share of 
the priests (Lev. vii. 32 sqq.). But as Samuel conducted the 
whole of the sacrificial ceremony, he may also have offered the 
sacrifice itself by virtue of his prophetic calling, so that the 
right leg would fall to his share, and he might have it reserved 
for his guest. In any case, however, the leg, as the largest and 
best portion, was to be a piece of honour for Saul (see Gen, 
xliii. 34). There is no reason to seek for any further symbo- 
lical meaning in it. The fact that it was Samuel's intention 
to distinguish and honour Saul above all his other guests, is 
evident enough from what he said to Saul when the cook had 
brought the leg : " Behold, that which is reserved is set before 
thee (Q''i^ is the passive participle, as in Num. xxiv. 21) ; for 
unto this time hath it been kept for thee, as I said I have invited 
the people^^ ^"^y^Z is either " to the appointed time of thy 
coming" or possibly, "for the (this) meeting together." Samuel 
mentions this to give Saul his guest to understand that he 
had foreseen his coming in a supernatural way. "i^^.c", saying, 
i.e. as I said (to the cook). 

Vers. 25-27. When the sacrificial meal was over, Samuel 
and Saul went down from the high place into the town, and he 
(Samuel) talked with him upon the roof (of the house into 
which Samuel had entered). The flat roofs of the East were 
used as places of retirement for private conversation (see at 
Deut. xxii. 8). This conversation did not refer of course to 
the call of Samuel to the royal dignity, for that was not made 
known to him as a word of Jehovah till the following day (ver. 
27) ; but it was intended to prepare him for that announce- 
ment: so that O. V. Gerlach's conjecture is probably the correct 


one, viz. that Samuel " talked with Saul concerning the deep 
religious and political degradation of the people of God, the 
oppression of the heathen, the causes of the inability of the 
Israelites to stand against these foes, the necessity for a conver- 
sion of the people, and the want of a leader who was entirely 
devoted to the Lord."^ — Ver. 26. "And they rose up early in 

^ For ian bj? f^lXB^'DJ? "131^1 the LXX. have x.ot\ liiarpuaxu ru 2aovA 
fvl T&j ^uficiTi seal iKoi/iiiidyi, " they prepared Saul a bed upon the house, 
and he slept," from which Clericus conjectured that these translators had 
read f)1i>5C'^ n3"l"'1 (n^T'l or naTl) ; and Ewald and Thenius propose to 
alter the Hebrew text in this way. But although '1J1 !iJD''3ii''1 (ver. 26) no 
doubt presupposes that Saul had slept in Samuel's house, and in fact upon 
the roof, the remark of Thenius, " that the private conversation upon the 
roof (ver. 25) comes too early, as Saul did not yet know, and was not to 
learn till the following day, what was about to take place," does not 
supply any valid objection to the correctness of the Masoretic text, or any 
argument in favour of the Septuagint rendering or interpretation, since it 
rests upon an altogether unfounded and erroneous assumption, viz. that 
Samuel had talked with Saul about his call to the throne. Moreover, " the 
strangeness" of the statement in ver. 26, " they rose up early," and then 
" when the morning dawned, Samuel called," etc., cannot possibly throw 
any suspicion upon the integrity of the Hebrew text, as this "strange- 
ness " vanishes when we take ')i'\ ni?J?3 \'T'1 as a more precise definition of 
WSkJ^'l- The Septuagint translators evidently held the same opinion as 
their modern defenders. They took offence at Samuel's private conversa- 
tion with Saul, because he did not make known to him the word of God 
concerning his call to the throne till the next morning ; and, on the other 
hand, as their rising the next morning is mentioned in ver. 26, they felt 
the absence of any allusion to their sleei^ing, and consequently not only 
interpreted imi by a conjectural emendation as standing for ^3■^^ because 
D''^3"I0 13") is used in Prov. vii. 16 to signify the spreading of mats or 
carpets for a bed, but also identified "lO^C^^I with 12DC'N and rendered it 
iKoi/^'/idyi. At the same time, they did not reflect that the preparation of 
the bed and their sleeping during the night were both of them matters of 
course, and there was consec[uently no necessity to mention them ; whereas 
Samuel's talking with Saul upon the roof was a matter of importance in 
relation to the whole affair, and one which could not be passed over in 
silence. Moreover, the correctness of the Hebrew text is confirmed by all 
the other ancient versions. Not only do the Chaldee, Syriac, and Arabic 
follow the Masoretic text, but Jerome does the same in the rendering 
adojated by him, "^f locutus est cum Saule in solario. Ctimque mane 
surrexissent ;" 1 hough the words " stravitque Saul in solario et dormivit " 
have been interpolated probably from the Itala into the text of the Vul- 
f^ate which has come down to us 

CHAP. XI 95 

the morning : namely, tclien the morning dawn arose, Samuel 
called to Saul upon the roof {i.e. he called from below within 
the house up to the roof, where Saul was probably sleeping 
upon the balcony; cf. 2 Kings iv. 10), Get up, I will conduct 
thee." As soon as Saul had risen, " they both {both Samuel and 
Saul) loent out (into the street)." And when they had gone 
down to the extremity of the town, Samuel said to Saul, " Let 
the servant pass on before us {and he did so), and do thou remain 
here for the present ; I icill show thee a word of God." 

Ch. X. 1. Samuel then took the oil-flask, poured it upon his 
(Saul's) head, kissed him, and said, " Hath not Jehovah (equi- 
valent to 'Jehovah assuredly hath') anointed thee to be captain 
over His inheritance f" ^i^'^j as an expression of lively assurance, 
receives the force of an independent clause through the follow- 
ing "'S, "is it not so ? " i.e. " yea, it is so, that," etc., just as it 
does before C^^ in Gren. iv. 7. ^^^1^^, His (Jehovah's) possession, 
was the nation of Israel, which Jehovah had acquired as the 
people of His own possession through their deliverance out of 
Egypt (Deut. iv. 20, ix. 26, etc.). Anointing with oil was a 
symbol of endowment with the Spirit of God ; as the oil itself, 
by virtue of the strength which it gives to the vital spirits, was 
a symbol of the Spirit of God as the principle of divine and 
spiritual power (see at Lev. viii. 12), Hitherto there had been 
no other anointing among the people of God than that of the 
priests and sanctuary (Ex. xxx. 23 sqq. ; Lev. viii. 10 sqq.). 
When Saul, therefore, was consecrated as king by anointing, 
the monarchy was inaugurated as a divine institution, standing 
on a par with the priesthood ; through which henceforth the 
Lord would also bestow upon His people the gifts of His 
Spirit for the building up of His kingdom. As the priests 
were consecrated by anointing to be the media of the ethical 
blessings of divine grace for Israel, so the king was consecrated 
by anointing to be the vehicle and medium of all the blessings 
of .grace which the Lord, as the God-king, would confer upon 
His people through the institution of a civil government. 
Through this anointing, which was performed by Samuel under 
the direction of God, the king was set apart from the rest of 
the nation as " anointed of the Lord " (cf. ch. xii. 3, 5, etc.), 
and sanctified as the T'J3, i.e. its captain, its leader and com- 
mander. Kissing was probably not a sign of homage or rever- 


ence towards the anointed of the Lord, so much as " a kiss of 
affection, with which the grace of God itself was sealed" (Seb. 

Vers. 2—7. To confirm the consecration of Saul as king 
over Israel, which had been effected through the anointing, 
Samuel gave him three more signs which would occur on his 
journey home, and would be a pledge to him that Jehovah 
would accompany his undertakings with His divine help, and 
practically accredit him as His anointed. These signs, there- 
fore, stand in the closest relation to the calling conveyed to 
Saul through his anointing. — Ver. 2. The first sign: " When thou 
goest aioay froin me to-day (i.e. now), thou wilt meet two men at 
RacheVs sepidchi'e, on the horder of Benjamin at Zelzah; and they 
will say unto thee, The asses of thy father, lohich thou iventest to 
seek, are found. Behold, thy father hath given up riijhxn '»nnvnsij 
the ivords (i.e. talking) about the asses, and trouhleth himself about 
you, saying. What shall I do about my son ? " According to Gen. 
XXXV. 16 sqq., Rachel's sepulchre was on the way from Bethel 

1 The IjXX. and Vulgate liave expanded the second half of this verse 
by a cousiderable addition, which reads as follows in the LXX. : ovx,l 

aixpix-i <!i Jt-vpiog lig öipxovroc. IttI rov 'ha.iv avrov iTrl ''lapa.'/^'K ; x,ocl ai) Ölpest; 
iv 'KatM x,vpiov, nai av aaasis ocvtov Ix, x-'P°S i)c^puv uiirov x,v!c7^6d£v, x-xl rovro 
aot TO arifiiiov on 'ixptai as xvpiog sttI x.'hyjpovo/i^ioe.v uvtcv it; ccp^ovrcc. And in 
the Vulgate : Ecce, unxit te Dominus super lixreditatem suam in principem^ et 
liberahis populum suum de manibus inimicorum ejus, qui in circuitu ejus sunt. 
Et hoc tibi signum, quia unxit te Deus in principem. A comparison of these 
two texts will show that the LXX. interpolated their addition between 
a,S))n and 13, as the last clause, oV/ expias as x-vpiog Itt] xT^Topovofn'xu uiirou etg 
aoxovrx, is a verbal translation of niJJ^ in^nr^J? nirT" ^n^D ''3. In the 


Vulgate, on the other hand, the first clause, ecce iinxit — in imncipcm, corre- 
sponds word for word with the Hebrew text, from which we may see that 
Jerome translated ourpresent Hebrew text; and the addition, et liberahis, etc., 
was interpolated into the Vulgate from the Itala. The text of the Septuagint 
is nothing more than a gloss formed from ch. ix. 16, 17, Avhich the trans- 
lator thought necessary, partly because he could not clearly see the force of 
''3 isiiri, but more especially because he could not explain the fact that 
Samuel speaks to Saul of signs, without having announced them to him as 
such. But the author of the gloss has overlooked the fact that Samuel 
does not give Saul a ar^^sidv, but three ayi^üa, and describes the object of 
them in ver. 7 as being the following, namely, that Saul would learn 
when they took place what he had to do, for Jehovah was with him, and 
not that they would prove that the Lord had anointed him to be captain. 

CHAP. X. 2-7. 9T 

to Bethlehem, only a short distance from the latter place, and 
therefore undoubtedly on the spot which tradition has assigned 
to it since the time of Jerome, viz. on the site of the Kuhhet 
Rahil, half an hour to the north-west of Bethlehem, on the left 
of the road to Jerusalem, about an hour and a half from the 
city (see at Gen. xxxv. 20). This suits the passage before us 
very well, if we give up the groundless assumption that Saul 
came to Samuel at Ramah and was anointed by him there, and 
assume that the place of meeting, which is not more fully de- 
fined in ch. ix., was situated to the south-west of Bethlehem.^ 
The expression "in the border of Benjamin" is not at variance 
with this. It is true that Kuhhet Rahil is about an hour and a 
quarter from the southern boundary of Benjamin, which ran 
past the Rogel spring, through the valley of Ben-Hinnom (Josh, 
xviii. 16) ; but the expression rrjup Dy must not be so pressed 
as to be restricted to the actual site of the grave, since other- 
wise the further definition " at Zelzah " would be superfluous, 
as Rachel's tomb was unquestionably a well-known locality at 
that time. If we suppose the place called Zelzah, the situation 
of which has not yet been discovered,^ to have been about mid- 
way between Rachel's tomb and the Rogel spring, Samuel 
could very well describe the spot where Saul would meet the 

^ As the account of Saul's meeting with Samuel, in ch. ix., when pro- 
perly understood, is not at variance with the tradition concerning the 
situation of Rachel's tomb, and the passage before us neither requires U3 
on the one hand to understand the Ephratah of Gen. xxxv. 19 and xlviii. 7 
as a different place from Bethlehem, and erase '"'' that is BetJilehem " irom. 
both passages as a gloss that has crept into the text, and then invent an 
Ephratah in the neighbourhood of Bethel between Benjamin and Ephraim, 
as Thenins does, nor warrants us on the other hand in transferring Rachel's 
tomb to the neighbourhood of Bethel, in opposition to the ordinary tradi- 
tion, as Kurtz proposes ; so the words of Jer. xxxi. 15, " A voice was heard 
in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her chil- 
dren," etc., furnish no evidence that Rachel's tomb was at Ramah (i.e. er 
Räm). " For here (in the cycle of prophecy concerning the restoration of aU 
Israel, Jer. xxx.-xxxiii.) Rachel's weeping is occasioned by the fact of the 
exiles of Benjamin having assembled together in Ramah (Jer. xl. 1), with- 
out there being any reason why Rachel's tomb should be sought for in the 
neighbourhood of this Ramah" (Delitzsch on Gen. xxxv. 20). 

- Ewald (Gesch. iii. p. 29) supposes Zelzah to be unsuitable to the con- 
text, if taken as the name of a place, and therefore follows the «AAo^si/oyj 
^€yaXfl6 of the LXX., and renders the word " in great haste ;" but he has 
neither given any reason why the name of a place is unsuitable here, nor 



two men in the way that he has done. This sign, by confirming 
the information which Samuel had given to Saul with reference 
to the asses, was to furnish him with a practical proof that what 
Samuel had said to him with regard to the monarchy would 
quite as certainly come to pass, and therefore not only to deliver 
him from all anxiety as to the lost animals of his father, but 
also to direct his thoughts to the higher destiny to which God 
had called him through Samuel's anointing. 

The second sign (vers. 3, 4) : " Tlien tJiou shall go on for- 
ward from thence, and thou shalt come to the terebinth of Tabor; 
and there shall meet thee there three men going iqo to God to 
Bethel, carrying one three kids, one three loaves of bread, and 
one a bottle of wine. They ivill ask thee after thy welfare, and 
give thee two loaves ; receive them at their hands r The tere- 
binth of Tabor is not mentioned anywhere else, and nothing 
further can be determined concerning it, than that it stood by 
the road leading from Rachel's tomb to Gibeah.^ The fact 
that the three men were going up to God at Bethel, shows that 
there was still a place of sacrifice consecrated to the Lord at 
Bethel, where Abraham and Jacob had erected altars to the 
Lord who had appeared to them there (Gen. xii. 8, xiii. 3, 4, 
xxviii. 18, 19, xxxv. 7) ; for the kids and loaves and wine 
were sacrificial gifts which they were about to offer. DiXv b^^^ 
to ask after one's welfare, i.e. to greet in a friendly manner 
(cf. Judg. xviii. 15 ; Gen. xliii. 27). The meaning of this 
double sign consisted in the fact that these men gave Saul 
two loaves from their sacrificial offerings. In this he was to 

considered that the Septuagint rendering is merely conjectural, and has 
nothing further to support it than the fact that the translators rendered 
n?^* £(p5jX«To, " he sprang upon him," in ver. 6 and ch. xi. 6, and took n\*7X 
to be an emphatic form of TV^- 

^ The opinion expressed by Ewald and Thenius, that Deborah's mourn- 
ing oak (Gen. xxxv. 8) is intended, and that Tabor is either a different 
form of Deborah, or that Tabor should be altered into Deborah, has no 
foundation to rest upon ; for the fact that the oak referred to stood below 
(i.e. to the south of) Bethel, and the three men whom Saul was to meet at 
the terebinth of Tabor were going to Bethel, by no means establishes the 
identity of the two, as their going up to Bethel does not prove that they 
were already in the neighbourhood of Bethel. Moreover, the Deborah oak 
was on the north of Gibeah, whereas Saul met the three men between 
Kachel's tomb and Gibeah, i.e. to the south of Gibeah. 

CHAP. X. 2-7. 99 

discern a homage .paid to the anointed of the Lord ; and he was 
therefore to accept the gift in this sense at their hand. 

The third sign (vers. 5, 6) Saul was to receive at Gibeah of 
God, where posts of the Philistines were stationed. Giheath 
ha-Elohim is not an appellative, signifying a high place of God, 
i.e. a high place dedicated to God, but a proper name referring 
to Gibeah of Benjamin, the native place of Saul, which was 
called Gibeah of Saul from the time when Saul resided there 
as king (ver. 16 : cf. ch. xi. 4, xv. 34 ; 2 Sam. xxi. 6 ; Isa. x. 29). 
This is very apparent from the fact that, according to vers. 10 
sqq., all the people of Gibeah had known Saul of old, and 
therefore could not comprehend how he had all at once come 
to be among the prophets. The name Gibeah of God is here 
given to the town on account of a bamah or sacrificial height 
Avhich rose within or near the town (ver. 13), and which may 
possibly have been renowned above other such heights, as the 
seat of a society of prophets. 2"'^^p? ''|?V^ are not bailiffs of the 
Philistines, still less columns erected as signs of their supremacy 
(Thenius), but military posts of the Philistines, as ch. xiii. 3, 4, 
and 2 Sam. viii. 6, 14, clearly show. The allusion here to the posts 
of the Philistines at Gibeah is connected with what was about 
to happen to Saul there. At' the place where the Philistines, 
those severe oppressors of Israel, had set up military posts, the 
Spirit of God was to come upon Saul, and endow him with the 
divine power that was required for his regal office. " And it 
shall come to pass, lohen thou contest to the town there, thou teilt 
light upon a company of prophets coming down from the high 
place {bamah, the sacrificial height), before them lyre and tam- 
bourin, ßnd flute, and harp, and they prophesying." ^^n signifies 
a rope or cord, then a band or company of men. It does not 
follow that because this band of prophets was coming down 
from the high place, the high place at Gibeah must have been 
the seat of a school of the prophets. They might have been 
upon a pilgrimage to Gibeah. The fact that they were pre- 
ceded by musicians playing, seems to indicate a festal procession. 
Nebel and kinnor are stringed instruments which were used 
after David's time in connection with the psalmody of divine 
worship (1 Chron. xiii. 8, xv. 20, 21 ; Ps. xxxiii. 2, xliii. 4, etc.). 
The nebel was an instrument resembling a lyre, the kinnor was 
more like a guitar than a harp. Toph : the tambourin, which 


was played by Miriam at the Red Sea (Ex. xv. 20). Chalil, 
the flute ; see my Bihl. Archceology, ii. § 137. By the pro- 
phesying of these prophets we are to understand an ecstatic 
utterance of religious feelings to the praise of God, as in the 
case of the seventy elders in the time of Moses (Num. xi. 25). 
Whether it took the form of a song or of an enthusiastic dis- 
course, cannot be determined ; in any case it was connected 
with a very energetic action indicative of the highest state of 
mental excitement. (For further remarks on these societies of 
prophets, see at ch. xix. 18 sqq.) — Ver. 6. ^^ And the Sphit of 
Jeliovah loill come upon thee, and thou loilt prophesy with them, 
nnd he changed into another man" " Ecstatic states," says 
Tholuck {die Propheten, p. 53), "have something infectious 
about them. The excitement spreads involuntarily, as in the 
American revivals and the preaching mania in Sweden, even 
to persons in whose state of mind there is no affinity with 
anything of the kind." But in the instance before us there 
was something more than psychical infection. The Spirit of 
Jehovah, which manifested itself in the prophesying of the 
prophets, was to pass over to Saul, so that he would prophesy 
along with them (ri''3^nn formed like a verb n"? for nt^H^nn ; so 
again in ver. 13), and was entirely to transform him. This 
transformation is not to be regarded indeed as regeneration in 
the Christian sense, but as a change resembling regeneration, 
which affected the entire disposition of mind, and by which 
Saul was lifted out of his former modes of thought and feeling, 
which were confined within a narrow earthly sphere, into the 
far higher sphere of his new royal calling, was filled with 
kingly thoughts in relation to the service of God, and received 
" another hearf (ver. 9). Heart is used in the ordinary scrip- 
tural sense, as the centre of the whole mental and psychical 
life of will, desire, thought, perception, and feeling (see De- 
litzsch, Bibl. Psychol, pp. 248 sqq., ed. 2). Through this sign 
his anointing as king M^as to be inwardly sealed. — Ver. 7. 
" Wheii these signs are come unto thee (the Kethibh ru''X3n is to 
be read '^ji''^?^'^, as in Ps. xlv. 16 and Esther iv. 4 ; and the Keri 
nJNnn is a needless emendation), do to thee ivhat thy hand findeth, 
i.e. act according to the circumstances (for this formula, see 
Judg. ix. 33) ; for God will he loith theeV The occurrence of 
the signs mentioned was to assure him of the certainty that 

CHAP. X. 8, 101 

God would assist him in all that he undertook as king. The 
first opportunity for action was afforded him by the Ammonite 
Nahash, who besieged Jabesh-gilead (ch. xi.). 

Ver. 8. In conclusion, Samuel gave him an important hint 
with regard to his future attitude : " And goest thou before me 
down to Gilgal ; and, behold, I am coming down to thee, to offer 
burnt-off^erings, and to sacrifice peace-off'erings : thou shalt wait 
seven days, till I come to thee, that I may shoio thee what thou art 
to do" The infinitive clause 'IJI ni?ynp is undoubtedly dependent 
upon the main clause ^"IT^"!, and not upon the circumstantial 
clause which is introduced as a parenthesis. The thought 
therefore is the following: If Saul went down to Gilgal to 
offer sacrifice there, he was to wait till Samuel arrived. The 
construction of the main clause itself, however, is doubtful, 
since, grammatically considered, H'llJ can either be a continua- 
tion of the imperative n't^y (ver. 7), or can be regarded as inde- 
pendent, and in fact conditional. The latter view, according 
to which ^y^l supposes his going down as a possible thing that 
may take place at a future time, is the one required by the 
circumstantial clause which follows, and which is introduced by 
'^P.'?] j for if ^1"]^"! were intended to be a continuation of the 
imperative which precedes it, so that Samuel commanded Saul 
to go down to Gilgal before him, he would have simply an- 
nounced his coming, that is to say, he would either have said 
^^ll^l or T}.^ ■'J^^l. The circumstantial clause " and behold I am 
coming down to thee" evidently presupposes Saul's going down 
as a possible occurrence, in the event of which Samuel pre- 
scribes the course he is to pursue. But the conditional interpre- 
tation of ^IT^. is still more decidedly required by the context. 
For instance, when Samuel said to Saul that after the occur- 
rence of the three signs he was to do what came to his hand, 
he could hardly command him immediately afterwards to go to 
Gilgal, since the performance of what came to his hand might 
prevent him from going to Gilgal. If, however, Samuel meant 
that after Saul had finished what came to his hand he was to 
go down to Gilgal, he would have said, " And after thou hast 
done this, go down to Gilgal," etc. But as he does not express 
himself in this manner, he can only have referred to Saul's 
going to Gilgal as an occurrence which, as he foresaw, would 
take place at some time or other. And to Saul himself this 


must not only have presented itself as a possible occurrence, 
but under the existing circumstances as one that was sure to 
take place ; so that the whole thing was not so obscure to him 
as it is to us, who are only able to form our conclusions from 
the brief account which lies before us. If we suppose that in 
the conversation which Samuel had with Saul upon the roof 
(ch. ix. 25), he also spoke about the manner in which the 
Philistines, who had pushed their outposts as far as Gibeah, 
could be successfully attacked, he might also have mentioned 
that Gilgal was the most suitable place for gathering an army 
together, and for making the necessary preparations for a suc- 
cessful engagement with their foes. If we just glance at the 
events narrated in the following chapters, for the purpose of 
getting a clear idea of the thing which Samuel had in view; we 
find that the three signs announced by Samuel took place on 
Saul's return to Gibeah (vers. 9—16). Samuel then summoned 
the people to Mizpeh, where Saul was elected king by lot (vers. 
17-27) ; but Saul returned to Gibeah to his own house even 
after this solemn election, and was engaged in ploughing the 
field, when messengers came from Jabesh with the account of 
the siege of that town by the Ammonites. On receiving this 
intelligence the Spirit of Jehovah came upon him, so that he 
summoned the whole nation with energy and without delay to 
come to battle, and proceeded to Jabesh with the assembled 
army, and smote the Ammonites (ch. xi. 1-11). Thereupon 
Samuel summoned the people to come to Gilgal and renew the 
monarchy there (ch. xi. 12—15) ; and at the same time he 
renewed his office of supreme judge (ch. xii.), so that now for 
the first time Saul actually commenced his reign, and began 
the war against the Philistines (ch. xiii. 1), in which, as soon 
as the latter advanced to Michmash with a powerful army after 
Jonathan's victorious engagement, he summoned the people to 
Gilgal to battle, and after waiting there seven days for Samuel 
in vain, had the sacrifices ofi'ered, on which account as soon as 
Samuel arrived he announced to him that his rule would not 
last (ch. xiii. 13 sqq.). Now, it cannot have been the first of 
these two gatherings at Gilgal that Samuel had in his mind, 
but must have been the second. The first is precluded by the 
simple fact that Samuel summoned the people to go to Gilgal 
for the purpose of renewing the monarchy ; and therefore, as 

CHAP, X. 9-16. - 103 

the words " come and let us go to Gilgal" (cli. xi. 14) unques- 
tionably imply, he must have gone thither himself along with 
the people and the king, so that Saul was never in a position to 
have to wait for Samuel's arrival. The second occurrence at 
Gilgal, on the other hand, is clearly indicated in the words of 
ch. xiii. 8, " Said tarried seven days, according to the set time 
that Samuel had appointed" in wdiich there is almost an express 
allusion to the instructions given to Saul in the verse before us. 
But whilst we cannot but regard this as the only true explana- 
tion, we cannot agree with Seb. Schmidt, who looks upon the 
instructions given to Saul in this verse as " a rule to be observed 
throughout the whole of Samuel's life," that is to say, who 
interprets ^yy^ in the sense of " as often as thou goest down tu 
Gilgal," For this view cannot be grammatically sustained, 
although it is founded upon the correct idea, that Samuel's 
instructions cannot have been intended as a solitary and arbi- 
trary command, by which Saul was to be kept in a condition 
of dependence. According to our explanation, however, this is 
not the case ; but there was an inward necessity for them, 
so far as the government of Saul was concerned. Placed as 
he was by Jehovah as king over His people, for the purpose 
of rescuing them out of the power of those who were at that 
time its most dangerous foes, Saul was not at liberty to enter 
upon the war against these foes simply by his own will, but was 
directed to wait till Samuel, the accredited prophet of Jehovah, 
had completed the consecration through the offering of a solemn 
sacrifice, and had communicated to him the requisite instruc- 
tions from God, even though he should have to wait for seven 

Vers. 9-16. When Saul went away from Samuel, to return 
to Gibeah, " God changed to him another heart^'' — a pregnant 
expression for " God changed him, and gave him another heart" 

^ The difficulty in question has been solved on the whole quite cor- 
rectly by Brentius. "It is not to be supposed," he says, "that Samuel 
was directing Saul to go at once to Gilgal as soon as he should go away 
from him, and wait there for seven days ; but that he was to do this after 
he had been chosen king by public lot, and having conquered the Ammon- 
ites and been confirmed in the kingdom, was about to prepare to make 
war upon the Philistines, on whose account chiefly it was that he had been 
called to the kingdom. For the Lord had already spoken thus to Samuel 
concerning Saul : ' He will save my people from the hands of the Phili- 


(see at ver. 6) ; and all these signs (the signs mentioned by 
Samuel) happened on that very day. As he left Samuel early 
in the morning, Saul could easily reach Gibeah in one day, even 
if the town where he had met with Samuel was situated to the 
south-west of Rachel's tomb, as the distance from that tomb to 
Gibeah was not more than three and a half or four hours. — 
Ver. 10. The third sign is the only one which is minutely 
described, because this caused a great sensation at Gibeah, 
Saul's home. ^' And they (Saul and his attendant) came thither 
to Giheahr " Thither'' points back to " thither to the city" 
in ver. 5, and is defined by the further expression "to Gibeah" 
(Eng. version, " to the hill :" Te.). The rendering eKecOev 
(LXX.) does not warrant us in changing D^ into DK-'O ; for 
the latter would be quite superfluous, as it was self-evident that 
they came to Gibeah from the place where they had been in the 
company of Samuel. — Ver. 11. When those who had known 
Saul of old saw that he prophesied with the prophets, the people 
said one to another, " What has hajypened to the son of Kish ? 
Is Saul also among the prophets?" This expression presupposes 
that Saul's previous life was altogether different from that of the 
disciples of the prophets. — Ver. 12. And one from thence (i.e. 
from Gibeah, or from the crowd that was gathered round the 
prophets) answered, " Andivho is their father?^' i.e. not "who is 
their president?" which would be a very gratuitous question; 
but, "is their father a prophet then?" i.e., according to the 
explanation given by Oehler (Herzog's Real. Enc. xii. p. 216), 
" have they the prophetic spirit by virtue of their birth ? " Under- 
stood in this way, the retort forms a very appropriate " answer" 
to the expression of surprise and the inquiry, how it came to pass 
that Saul was among the prophets. If those prophets had not 
obtained the gift of prophecy by inheritance, but as a free gift 
of the Lord, it was equally possible for the Lord to communi- 

stines, because I have looked upon my people.' This is the meaning there- 
fore of Samuel's command : Thou hast been called to the kingdom chiefly 
for this purpose, that thou mayest deliver Israel from the tyranny of the 
Philistines. When therefore thou shalt enter upon this work, go down 
into Gilgal and wait there seven days, until I shall come to thee : for thou 
shalt then offer a holocaust, though not before I come to thee, and I will 
show thee what must be done in order that our enemies the Philistines 
may be conquered. The account of this is given below in ch. xiii., where 
we learn that Saul violated this command." 

CHAP. X. 17-27. 105 

cate the same gift to Saul. On tlie other hand, the alteration 
of the text from Dn^nx (their father) into 'in^as; (his father), 
according to the LXX., Vulg., Syr., and Arab., which is 
favoured by Ewald, Thenius, and others, must be rejected, for 
the simple reason that the question, Who is his father ? in the 
mouth of one of the inhabitants of Gibeah, to whom Saul's father 
was so well known that they called Saul the son of Kish at once, 
would have no sense whatever. From this the proverb arose, 
"Is Saul also among the prophets'?" — a proverb which was used 
to express astonishment at the appearance of any man in a 
sphere of life which had hitherto been altogether strange to 
him. — Vers. 13 sqq. When Saul had left off prophesying, and 
came to Bamah, his uncle asked him and his attendant where 
they had been ; and Saul told him, that as they had not found 
the asses anywhere, they had gone to Samuel, and had learned 
from him that the asses were found. But he did not relate 
the words which had been spoken by Samuel concerning the 
monarchy, from unambitious humility (cf. vers. 22, 23) and not 
because he was afraid of unbelief and envy, as Thenius follows 
Josephus in supposing. From the expression " he came to 
Bamah" (Eng. ver. " to the high place"), we must conclude, 
that not only Saul's uncle, but his father also, lived in Bamah, 
as we find Saul immediately afterwards in his own family circle 
(see vers. 14 sqq.). 

CHAP. X. 17-XI. 15. 

Vers. 17-27. Saul's Election by Lot. — After Samuel 
had secretly anointed Saul king by the command of God, it was 
his duty to make provision for a recognition of the man whom 
God had chosen on the part of the people also. To this end he 
summoned the people to Mizpeh, and there instructed the tribes 
to choose a king by lot. As the result of the lot was regarded 
as a divine decision, not only was Saul to be accredited by this 
act in the sight of the whole nation as the king appointed by 
the Lord, but he himself was also to be more fully assured of 
the certainty of his own election on the part of God.^ — Ver. 17. 

^ Thenius follows De "Wette, and adduces the incompatibility of ch. via. 
and ch. x. 17-27 with ch. ix. 1-10, 16, as a proof that in vers. 17-27 we 


Dyn is the nation in its heads and representatives. Samuel 
selected Mizpeh for this purpose, because it was there that he 
had once before obtained for the people, by prayer, a great 
victory over the Philistines (ch. vii. 5 sqq.). — Vers. 18, 19. 
"But -before proceeding to the election itself, Samuel once more 
charged the people with their sin in rejecting God, who had 
brought them out of Egypt, and delivered them out of the hand 
of all their oppressors, by their demand for a king, that he might 
show them how dangerous was the way which they were taking 
now, and how bitterly they would perhaps repent of what they 
had now desired" (O. v. Gerlach ; see the commentary on 
ch. viii.). The masculine 0"'^!]'^'] is construed ad sensiim with 
rii3^ö?3n. In i^ inDxnv the early translators have taken i^ for 
N?, which is the actual reading in some of the Codices. But 
although this reading is decidedly favoured by the parallel pas- 
sages, ch. viii. 19, xii. 12, it is not necessary ; since "'S is used to 
introduce a direct statement, even in a declaration of the oppo- 
site, in the sense of our " 7io but" {e.g. in Ruth i. 10, where 
i^? precedes). There is, therefore, no reason for exchanging 
i^ for N7. — Vers. 20, 21. After this warning, Samuel directed 
the assembled Israelites to come before Jehovah (i.e. before the 
altar of Jehovah which stood at Mizpeh, according to ch. vii. 9) 
according to their tribes and families (alaphim : see at Num. 
i. 16) ; " a7id there was taken (by lot) tJie tribe of Benjamin" 

have a different account of the manner in which Saul became king from 
that given in ch. ix. 1-10, 16, and one which continues the account in 
ch. viii. 22. "It is thoroughly inconceivable," he says, " that Samuel 
should have first of all anointed Saul king by the instigation of God, and 
then have caused the lot to be cast, as it were, for the sake of further con- 
firmation ; for in that case either the prophet would have tempted God, or 
he would have made Him chargeable before the nation with an unworthy 
act of jugglery." Such an argument as this could only be used by critics 
who deny not only the inspiration of the prophets, but all influence on the 
part of the living God upon the free action of men, and cannot therefore 
render the truth of the biblical history at all doubtful. Even Ewald sees 
no discrepancy here, and observes in his history (Gesch. iii. p. 32) : "If we 
bear in mind the ordinary use made of the sacred lot at that time, we shall 
find that there is nothing but the simple truth in the whole course of the 
narrative. The secret meeting of the seer with Saul was not sufficient to 
secure a comj^lete and satisfactory recognition of him as king ; it was also 
necessary that the Spirit of Jehovah should single him out publicly in a 
eolemn assembly of the nation, and point him out as the man of Jehovah." 

CHAP. X. 17-27. 107 

n^pHj lit. to be snatched out by Jehovah, namely, through the 
lot (see Josh. vii. 14, 16). He then directed the tribe of Ben 
jamin to draw near according to its families, i.e. he directed 
the heads of the families of this tribe to come before the altar 
of the Lord and draw lots ; and the family of Matri loas taken. 
Lastly, when the heads of the households in this family came, 
and after that the different individuals in the household which 
had been taken, the lot fell upon Saul the son of Kish. Li the 
words, ^'Said the son of Kish teas taken" the historian proceeds 
at once to the final result of the casting of the lots, without 
describing the intermediate steps any further.-"- When the lot 
fell upon Saul, they sought him, and he could not be found. — 
Ver. 22. Then they inquired of Jehovah, " Is any one else 
come hither?" and Jehovah replied, "Behold, he (whom ye are 
seeking) is hidden among the things." The inquiry was made 
through the high priest, by means of the Urim and Thummim, 
for which nirT'ii 7S^ was the technical expression, according to 
Num. xxvii. 21 (see Judg. xx. 27, 28, i. 1, etc.). There can be 
no doubt, that in a gathering of the people for so important a 
purpose as the election of a king, the high priest would also be 
present, even though this is not expressly stated. Samuel pre- 
sided over the meeting as the prophet of the Lord. The answer 
given by God, " Behold, he is hidden^' etc., appears to have no 
relation to the question, " Is any one else come ?" The Sept. 
and Vulg. have therefore altered the question into et en ep-xerai 
6 avi'ip, utrumnam venturus esset ; and Thenius would adopt this 

^ It is true the Septuagint introduces the words Kot.] 'Trpoaxyovai tv^v 
(pv'hviv 'MxTTxpl iig eivlpuq before HD?'"!, and this clause is also found in a 
very- recent Hebre-w- MS. (viz. 451 in Kennicott's dissert, gener. p. 491). 
But it is very evident that these words did not form an integral part of 
the original text, as Thenius supposes, but were nothing more than an 
interpolation of the Sept. translators, from the simple fact that they do 
not fill up the supposed gap at all completely, but only in a very partial, 
and in fact a very mistaken manner ; for the family of Matri could not 
come to the lot £<V ävlpa; (man by man), but only kxt ohov; (by house- 
holds : Josh. vii. 14). Before the household (beth-aboth, father's house) of 
Saul could be taken, it was necessary that the D"'"i33 (dv'hpig), i.e. the dif- 
ferent heads of households, should be brought ; and it was not till then that 
Kish, or his son Saul, could be singled out as the appointed of the Lord. 
Neither the author of the gloss in the LXX., nor the modern defender of 
the gloss, has thought of this. 


as an emendation. But lie is wrong in doing so ; for there was 
no necessity to ask whether Saul would still come : they might 
at once have sent to fetch hira. What they asked was rather, 
whether any one else had come besides those who were present, 
as Saul was not to be found among them, that they might know 
where they were to look for Saul, whether at home or anywhere 
else. And to this question God gave the answer, " He is 
present, only hidden among the things." By D v3 (the tilings or 
vessels, Eng. ver. the stuff) we are to understand the travelling 
baggage of the people who had assembled at Mizpeh. Saul 
could neither have wished to avoid accepting the monarchy, nor 
have imagined that the lot would not fall upon him if he hid 
himself. For he knew that God had chosen him ; and Samuel 
had anointed him already. He did it therefore simply from 
humility and modesty. " In order that he might not appear to 
have either the hope or desire for anything of the kind, he pre- 
ferred to be absent when the lots were cast" (Seb. Schmidt). — 
Vers. 23, 24. He was speedily fetched, and brought into the 
midst of the (assembled) people ; and when he came, he was a 
head taller than all the people (see ch. ix. 2). And Samuel 
said to all the people, " Beliold ye whom the Lord hath chosen I 
for tliere is none like him in all the nation^ Then all the people 
shouted aloud, and cried, " Let the king live !^^ Saul's bodily 
stature won the favour of the people (see the remarks on ch. 
ix. 2). 

Samuel then communicated to the people the right of the 
monarchy, and laid it down before Jehovah. " The right of 
the monarchy^'' (meluchah) is not to be identified with the right 
of the king (melech), which is described in clL^jdii._l.l and sets 
forth the right or prerogative which a despotic king would 
assume over the people ; but it is the right which regulated the 
attitude of the earthly monarchy in the theocracy, and deter- 
mined the duties and rights of the human king in relation to 
Jehovah the divine King on the one hand, and to the nation on 
the other. This right could only be laid down by a prophet 
Jke Samuel, to raise a wholesome barrier at the very outset 
against all excesses on the part of the king. Samuel therefore 
wrote it in a document which was laid down before Jehovah, i.e. 
in the sanctuary of Jehovah ; though certainly not in the sanc- 
tuary at Bamah in Gibeah, as Thenius supposes, for nothing is 

CHAP. XL 109 

known respecting any such sanctuary. It was no doubt placed 
in the tabernacle, where the law of Moses was also deposited, 
by the side of the fundamental law of the divine state in Israel. 
When the business was all completed, Samuel sent the people 
away to their own home. — Ver. 26. Saul also returned to his 
house at Gibeah, and there went with him the crowd of the 
men whose hearts God had touched, sc. to give him a royal 
escort, and show their readiness to serve him. ^)^ij is not to 
be altered into ?^nn ''33^ according to the free rendering of the 
LXX., but is used as in Ex. xiv. 28 ; with this difference, 
however, that here it does not signify a large military force, 
but a crowd of brave men, who formed Saul's escort of honour. 
— Ver. 27. But as it generally happens that, where a person 
is suddenly lifted up to exalted honours or office, there are sure 
to be envious people found, so was it here : there were ?V!?? '^?.^, 
loorthless people, even among the assembled Israelites, who spoke 
disparagingly of Saul, saying, " Hoio xoill this man help us ? " 
and who brought him no present. Minchali: the present which 
from time immemorial every one has been expected to bring 
when entering the presence of the king ; so that the refusal to 
bring a present was almost equivalent to rebellion. But Saul 
was " as being deaf" i.e. he acted as if he had not heard. The 
objection which Thenius brings against this view, viz. that in 
that case it would read '03 riM Kini^ exhibits a want of acquaint- 
ance with the Hebrew construction of a sentence. There is 
no more reason for touching ^'^^1 than 13^*1 in ver. 26. In both 
cases the apodosis is attached to the protasis, which precedes it 
in the form of a circumstantial clause, by the imperfect, with 
vav consec. According to the genius of our language, these 
protases would be expressed by the conjunction ivhen, viz. : 
"ivhen Saul also loent home, . . . there went with him," etc. ; and 
" when loose (or idle) people said, etc., he was as deaf." 

Ch. xi. Saul's Victory over the Ammonites. — Even 
after the election by lot at Mizpeh, Saul did not seize upon the 
reins of government at once, but returned to his father's house 
in Gibeah, and to his former agricultural occupation ; not, 
however, merely from personal humility and want of ambition, 
but rather from a correct estimate of the circumstances. The 
monarcliy was something so new in Israel, that the king could 


not expect a general and voluntary recognition of his regal 
dignity and authority, especially after the conduct of the worth- 
less people mentioned in ch. x. 27, until he had answered their 
expectations from a king (ch. viii. 6, 20), and proved himself a 
deliverer of Israel from its foes by a victorious campaign. But 
as Jehovah had chosen him ruler over his people without any 
seeking on his part, he would wait for higher instructions to 
act, before he entered upon the government. The opportunity 
was soon given him. 

Vers. 1-5. Nahash, the king of the Ammonites (cf. ch. 
xii. 12 ; 2 Sam. x. 2), attacked the tribes on the east of the 
Jordan, no doubt with the intention of enforcing the claim to a 
part of Gilead asserted by his ancestor in the time of Jephthah 
(Judg. xi. 13), and besieged Jahesh in Gilead,^ — according to 
Josephus the metropolis of Gilead, and probably situated by 
the Wady Jabes (see at Judg. xxi. 8) ; from which we may 

^ The time of this campaign is not mentioned in the Hebrew text. But it 
is very evident from ch. xii. 12, where the Israelites are said to have desired 
a king, when they saw that Nahash had come against them, that Nahash 
had invaded Gilead before the election of Saul as king. The Septuagint, 
however, renders the words t^'''"in03 TT'I (ch. x. 27) by x.oci iysv/)dy} üg i^ir» 
[/.vjvot,^ and therefore the translators must have read C'ThDSi which Ewald 
and Thenius would adopt as an emendation of the Hebrew text. But all 
the other ancient versions give the Masoretic text, viz. not only the Chaldee, 
Syriac, and Arabic, but even Jerome, who renders it üh vera dissimidabat 
se audire. It is true that in our present Vulgate text these words are fol- 
lowed by et factum est quasi post mensem; but this addition has no doubt 
crept in from the Itala. With the general character of the Septuagint, the 
rendering of C'''Tn03 by üg //.irot. i^nvot is no conclusive proof that the word 
in their Hebrew Codex was t;>in03 ; it simply shows that this was the 
interpretation which they gave to t^'1-|nD^• And Josephus (vi. 5, 1), who 
is also appealed to, simply establishes the fact that öi; f^sral [/-viua. stood in 
the Sept. version of his day, since he made use of this version and not of 
the original text. Moreover, we cannot say with Ewald, that this was the 
last place in which the time could be overlooked ; for it is perfectly evi- 
dent that Nahash commenced the siege of Jabesh shortly after the election 
of Saul at Mizpeh, as we may infer from the verb ^j;»"!, when taken in con- 
nection with the fact implied in ch. xii. 12, that he had commenced the 
war with the Israelites before this. And lastly, it is much more j^robable 
that the LXX. changed K^i-inDD into C'lriM, than that the Hebrew 
readers of the Old Testament should have altered ti^iriDD into ti'^inOD, 
without defining the time more precisely by TPIX) or some other number. 

CHAP. XL 6 11. in 

see that lie must have penetrated very far into the territory 
of the IsraeHtes. The inhabitants of Jabesh petitioned the 
Ammonites in their distress, " Make a covenant with us, and 
ice ivill serve thee;" i.e. grant us favourable terms, and we 
will submit. — Ver. 2. But Nahash replied, " Oil this condition 
(^nsD, lit. at this price, 2 pretii) will I vialce a covenant with 
you, that I may ^jut out all your right eyes, and so bring a 
reproach upon all Israel.'^ From the fact that the infinitive 
"lipJ is continued with ''^pj?'"!, it is evident that the subject to 
lipJ is Nahash, and not the Israelites, as the Syriac, Arabic, 
and others have rendered it. The suffix to '^''Jjip'^ is neuter, 
and refers to the previous clause : " zY," i.e. the putting out of 
the right eye. This answer on the part of Nahash shows 
unmistakeably that he sought to avenge upon the people of 
Israel the shame of the defeat which Jephthah had inflicted 
upon the Ammonites. — Ver. 3. The elders of Jabesh replied : 
" Leave tis seven days, that toe may send messengers into all the 
territory of Israel; and if there is no one who saves us, we will 
come out to thee^'' i.e. will surrender to thee. This request was 
granted by Nahash, because he was not in a condition to take 
the town at once by storm, and also probably because, in the 
state of internal dissolution into which Israel had fallen at that 
time, he had no expectation that any vigorous help would come 
to the inhabitants of Jabesh. From the fact that the mes- 
sengers were to be sent into all the territory of Israel, we may 
conclude that the Israelites had no central government at that 
time, and that neither Nahash nor the Jabeshites had heard 
anything of the election that had taken place ; and this is still 
more apparent from the fact that, according to ver. 4, their 
messengers came to Gibeah of Saul, and laid their business 
before the people generally, without applying at oiice to Saul. 
— Ver. 5. Saul indeed did not hear of the matter till he came 
(returned home) from the field behind the oxen, and found 
the people weeping and lamenting at these mournful tidings. 
^^ Behind the oxen," i.e., judging from the expression "yoke 
of oxen " in ver. 7, the pair of oxen with which he had been 

Vers. 6-11. AVhen the report of the messengers had been 
communicated to him, " the Spirit of Jehovah came upon him^ 
and his anger was kindled greatly," sc. at the shame which the 


Ammonites had resolved to bring upon all Israel. — Yer. 7. He 
took a yoke of oxen, cut them in pieces, and sent (the pieces) 
into every possession of Israel by messengers, and said, " Who- 
ever cometh not forth after Saul and Samuel, so shall it he done 
unto- his oxen." The introduction of Samuel's name after that 
of Saul, is a proof that Saul even as king still recognised the 
authority which Samuel possessed in Israel as the prophet of 
Jehovah. This symbolical act, like the cutting up of the 
woman in Judg. xix. 29, made a deep impression. " The fear 
of Jehovah fell upon the people, so that they went out as one 
man." By " the fear of Jehovah " we are not to understand 
helfia iraviKov (Thenius and Böttcher), for Jehovah is not equi- 
valent to Elohim, nor the fear of Jehovah in the sense of fear 
of His punishment, but a fear inspired by Jehovah. In Savd's 
energetic appeal the people discerned the power of Jehovah, 
which inspired them with fear, and impelled them to immediate 
obedience. — Ver. 8. Saul held a muster of the people of war, 
who had gathered together at (or near) Bezek, a place which 
was situated, according to the Onom. (s. v. Bezek), about seven 
hours to the north of Nabulus towards Beisan (see at Judg. i. 
4). The number assembled were 300,000 men of Israel, and 
30,000 of Judah. These numbers will not appear too large, if 
we bear in mind that the allusion is not to a regular army, but 
that Saul had summoned all the people to a general levy. In 
the distinction drawn between the children of Judah and the 
children of Israel we may already discern a trace of that 
separation of Judah from the rest of the tribes, which even- 
tually led to a formal secession on the part of the latter. — 
Yer. 9. The messengers from Jabesh, who had been waiting to 
see the result of Saul's appeal, were now despatched with this 
message to their fellow-citizens : " To-morrow you will have 
help, lühen the sun shines hot," i.e. about noon. — Yer. 10. After 
receiving these joyful news, the Jabeshites announced to the 
Ammonites : " To-morroio we ivill come out to you, and ye may 
do to us ivhat seemeih good to you," — an untrutli by which they 
hoped to assure the besiegers, so that they might be fallen upon 
unexpectedly by the advancing army of Saul, and thoroughly 
beaten. — Yer. 11. The next day Saul arranged the people in 
three divisions (a''C'S"i, as in Judg. vii. 16), who forced their 
way into the camp of the foe fi'om three different sides, in the 

CHAP. XI. 12-15. 113 

morning watch (between three and six o'clock in the morning), 
smote the Ammonites " till the heat of the day," and routed 
them so completely, that those who remained were all scattered, 
and there wei'e not two men left together. 

Vers. 12-15. Eenewal of the Monarchy. — Saul had so 
thoroughly acted the part of a king in gaining this victory, and 
the people were so enthusiastic in his favour, that they said to 
Samuel, viz. after their return from the battle, " Who is he that 
said, Saul should reign over us ! " The clause 13vy ^IPIpl ^ISK' 
contains a question, though it is indicated simply by the tone, 
and there is no necessity to alter 7'^^^ into ^iSti'n. These words 
refer to the exclamation of the worthless people in ch. x. 27. 
" Bring the men (who spoke in this manner), that ice may put 
them to deathr But Saul said, " There shall not a man be put 
to death this day ; for to-day Jehovah hath wrought salvation in 
Israel;" and proved thereby not only his magnanimity, but 
also his genuine piety.^ — Ver. 14. Samuel turned this victory 
to account, by calling upon the people to go with him to Gilgal, 
and there renew the monarchy. In what the renewal consisted 
is not clearly stated ; but it is simply recorded in ver. 15 that 
" they (the whole people) made Said king there before the Lord 
in Gilgaiy Many commentators have supposed that he was 
anointed afresh, and appeal to David's second anointing (2 Sam. 
ii. 4 and v. 3). But David's example merely proves, as Seb. 
Schmidt has correctly observed, that the anointing could be 
repeated under certain circumstances; but it does not prove 
that it was repeated, or must have been repeated, in the case of 
Saul. If the ceremony of anointing had been performed, it 
would no doubt have been mentioned, just as it is in 2 Sam. 
ii. 4 and v. 3. But l^pp^ does not mean " they anointed," 
although the LXX. have rendered it e;\;pic7e ^a/nov^X, accord- 
ing to their own subjective interpretation. The renewal of the 
nionarchy may very well have consisted in nothing more than 

^ " Not only signifying that the public rejoicing should not be inter- 
rupted, but reminding them of the clemency of God, and urging that since 
Jehovah had shown such clemency upon that day, that He had overlooked 
their sins, and given them a glorious victory, it was only right that they 
should follow His example, and forgive their neighbours' sins without 
bloodshed." — Sei. Schmidt. 


a solemn confirmation of the election that had taken place 
at Mizpeh, in which Samuel once more laid before both king 
and people the right of the monarchy, receiving from both 
parties in the presence of the Lord the promise to observe this 
right/ and sealing the vow by a solemn sacrifice. The only 
sacrifices mentioned are zehacJiim shelamim, i.e. peace-offerings. 
These were thank-offerings, which were always connected with 
a sacrificial meal, and when presented on joyous occasions, 
formed a feast of rejoicing for those who took part, since the 
sacrificial meal shadowed forth a living and peaceful fellowship 
with the Lord. Gilgal is in all probability the place where 
Samuel judged the people every year (ch. vii. 16). But whether 
it was the Gilgal in the plain of the Jordan, or Jiljilia on higher 
ground to the south-west of Shiloh, it is by no means easy 
to determine. The latter is favoured, apart from the fact that 
Samuel did not say " Let us go down," but simply " Let us go " 
(cf. ch. X. 8), by the circumstance that the solemn ceremony 
took place after the return from the war at Jabesh ; since it is 
hardly likely that the people would have gone down into the 
valley of the Jordan to Gilgal, whereas Jiljilia was close by the 
road from Jabesh to Gibeali and ßamah. 

Samuel's address at the eenewal of the monarchy. — 


Samuel closed this solemn confirmation of Saul as king with 
an address to all Israel, in which he handed over the office of 
judge, which he had hitherto filled, to the king, who had been 
appointed by God and joyfully recognised by the people. The 
good, however, which Israel expected from the king depended 
entirely upon both the people and their king maintaining that 
proper attitude towards the Lord with which the prosperity of 
Israel was ever connected. This truth the prophet felt impelled 
to impress most earnestly upon the hearts of all the people on 
this occasion. To this end he reminded them, that neither he 
himself, in the administration of his office, nor the Lord in His 
guidance of Israel thus far, had given the people any reason 
for asking a king when the Ammonites invaded the land (vers. 
1-12). Nevertheless the Lord had given them a king, and 
Would not withdraw His hand from them, if they would only 

CHAP. XII. 1-6. 115 

fear Him and confess their sin (vers. 13-15). This address 
was then confirmed by the Lord at Samuel's desire, through a 
miraculous sign (vers. 16-18) ; whereupon Samuel gave to the 
people, who were terrified by the miracle and acknowledged 
their sin, the comforting promise that the Lord would not for- 
sake His people for His great name's sake, and then closed his 
address with the assurance of his continued intercession, and a 
renewed appeal to them to serve the Lord with faithfulness 
(vers. 19-25). With this address Samuel laid down his office 
as judge, but without therefore ceasing as prophet to represent 
the people before God, and to maintain the rights of God in 
relation to the king. In this capacity he continued to support 
the king with his advice, until he was compelled to announce 
his rejection on account of his repeated rebellion against the 
commands of the Lord, and to anoint David as his successor. 

Vers. 1-6. The time and place of the following address are 
not given. But it is evident from the connection with the pre- 
ceding chapter implied in the expression I^N'I, and still more 
from the introduction (vers. 1, 2) and the entire contents of the 
address, that it was delivered on the renewal of the monarchy 
at Gilgal. — Vers. 1, 2. Samuel starts with the fact, that he had 
given the people a king in accordance with their own desire, 
who would now walk before them, i^p^^ with the participle ex- 
presses what is happening, and will happen still. ''JS^ U?l'0'? 
must not be restricted to going at the head in war, but signifies 
the general direction and government of the nation, which had 
been in the hands of Samuel as judge before the election of 
Saul as king. "And I have grown old and grey C^?^ from 
^^VO ') o.nd my sons, behold, they are with you" With this allu- 
sion to his sons, Samuel simply intended to confirm what he had 
said about his own age. By the further remark, " aiid I have 
walked before you from my childhood unto this day^'' he prepares 
the way for the following appeal to the people to bear witness 
concerning his conduct in office. — Ver. 3. " Bear ivitness against 
me before the Xo?y/," i.e. looking up to the Lord, the omnipotent 
and righteous God-king, " and before His anointed,'' the visible 
administrator of His divine government, whether I have com- 
mitted any injustice in my office of judge, by appropriating 
another's property, or by oppression and violence (VP^, to pound 
or crush in pieces, when used to denote an act of violence, is 


stronger than P^V, with which it is connected here and in many 
other passages, e.g. Dent, xxviii. 33 ; Amos iv. 1), or by taking 
atonement money ("is's, redemption or atonement money, is 
used, as in Ex. xxi. 30 and Num. xxxv. 31, to denote a payment 
made by a man to redeem himself fi'om capital punishment), 
" so that I had covered my eyes with it" viz. to exempt from 
punishment a man who was worthy of death. The 13, which is 
construed with Civyn^ is the 3 instrumenii, and refers to "IS*3 ; 
consequently it is not to be confounded with Ip, "to hide from," 
which would be quite unsuitable here. The thought is not that 
the judge covers his eyes from the copher, that he may not see 
the bribe, but that he covers his eyes with the money offered him 
as a bribe, so as not to see and not to punish the crime committed. 
— Ver. 4. The people answered Samuel, that he had not done 
them any kind of injustice. — Ver. 5. To confirm this declara- 
tion on the part of the people, he then called Jehovah and His 
anointed as witnesses against the people, and they accepted these 
witnesses, ^^r^? is the subject to l^X'l ; and the Keri ^ilO^^'l, 
though more simple, is by no means necessaiy. Samuel said, 
" Jehovah he icitness against you," because with the declaration 
which the people had made concerning Samuel's judicial 
labours they had condemned themselves, inasmuch as they had 
thereby acknowledged on oath that there was no ground for 
their dissatisfaction with Samuel's administration, and conse- 
quently no well-founded reason for their request for a king. — 
Ver. 6. But in order to bring the people to a still more thorough 
acknowledgment of their sin, Samuel strengthened still more 
their assent to his solemn appeal to God, as expressed in the 
words "i/e is zvitiiess," by saying, "Jehovah (i.e. yea, the witness 
is Jehovah), who made Moses and Aaron, and brought your 
fathers out of the land of Egypt." The context itself is suffi- 
cient to show that the expression " is witness " is understood ; 
and there is no reason, therefore, to assume that the word has 
dropped out of the text through a copyist's error, nbj?^ to make, 
in a moral and historical sense, i.e. to make a person what he is 
to be ; it has no connection, therefore, with his physical birth, 
but simply relates to his introduction upon the stage of history, 
like TTotecv, Heb. iii. 2. But if Jehovah, who redeemed Israel 
out of Egypt by the hands of Moses and Aaron, and exalted 
it into His own natioA, was witness of the unselfishness and 


CHAP. XII. 7-12. 117 

impartiality of Samuel's conduct in his office of judge, then 
Israel had grievously sinned by demanding a king. In the 
person of Samuel they had rejected Jehovah their God, who 
had given them their rulers (see ch. viii. 7). Samuel proves 
this still further to the people from the following history. 

Vers. 7-12. ^' And now come hither, and I loill reason with 
you before the Lord with regard to all the righteous acts which He 
has shoion to you and your father sP '^^P'^V, righteous acts, is the 
expression used to denote the benefits which Jehovah had con- 
ferred upon His people, as being the results of His covenant 
fidelity, or as acts which attested the righteousness of the Lord 
in the fulfilment of the covenant grace which He had promised 
to His people. — Ver. 8. The first proof of this was furnished 
by the deliverance of the children of Israel out of Egypt, and 
their safe guidance into Canaan (" this place " is the land of 
Canaan). The second was to be found in the deliverance of 
the people out of the power of their foes, to whom the Lord had 
been obliged to give them up on account of their apostasy from 
Him, through the judges whom He had raised up for them, as 
often as they turned to Him with penitence and cried to Him 
for help. Of the hostile oppressions which overtook the Israel- 
ites during this period of the judges, the following are singled 
out in ver. 9 : (1) that by Sisera, the commander-in-chief of 
Hazor, i.e. that of the Canaanitish king Jabin of Hazor (Judg. 
iv. 2 sqq.) ; (2) that of the Philistines, by which we are to 
understand not so much the hostilities of that nation described 
in Judg. iii. 31, as the forty years' oppression mentioned in 
Judg. X. 2 and xiii. 1 ; and (3) the Moabitish oppression under 
Eglon (Judg. iii. 12 sqq.). The first half of ver. 10 agrees 
almost word for word with Judg. x. 10, except that, according 
to Judg. X. 6, the Ashtaroth are added to the Baalim (see at 
ch. vii. 4 and Judg. ii. 13). Of the judges whom God sent to 
the people as deliverers, the following are named, viz. Jerub- 
baal (see at Judg. vi. 32), i.e. Gideon (Judg. vi.), and Bedan, 
and Jephthah (see Judg. xi.), and Samuel. There is no judge 
named Bedan mentioned either in the book of Judges or any- 
where else. The name Bedan only occurs again in 1 Chron. 
vii. 17, among the descendants of Machir the Manassite : con- 
sequently some of the commentators suppose Jair of Gilead to 
.be the judge intended. But such a supposition is perfectly 


arbitrary, as it is not rendered probable by any identity in the 
two names, and Jair is not described as having deHvered Israel 
from any hostile oppression. Moreover, it is extremely impro- 
bable that Samuel should have mentioned a judge here, who 
had been passed over in the book of Judges on account of his 
comparative insignificance. There is also just as little ground 
for rendering Bedan as an appellative, e.g. the Danite (hen-Dan), 
as Kimchi suggests, or corpulentus as Böttcher maintains, and so 
connecting the name with Samson. There is no other course 
left, therefore, than to regard Bedan as an old copyist's error 
for Barak (Judg. iv.), as the LXX., Syriac, and Arabic have 
done, — a conclusion which is favoured by the circumstance that 
Barak was one of the most celebrated of the judges, and is 
placed by the side of Gideon and Jephthah in Heb. xi. 32. 
The Syriac, Arabic, and one Greek MS. (see Kennicott in the 
Addenda to his Dissert. Gener.), have the name of Samson 
instead of Samuel. But as the LXX., Chald., and Vulg. all 
agree with the Hebrew text, there is no critical ground for 
rejecting Samuel, the more especially as the objection raised to 
it, viz. that Samuel would not have mentioned himself, is far 
too trivial to overthrow the reading supported by the most 
ancient versions ; and the assertion made by Thenius, that 
Samuel does not come down to his own times until the follow- 
ing verse, is altogether unfounded. Samuel could very well- 
class himself with the deliverers of Israel, for the simple reason 
that it was by him that the people were delivered from the 
forty years' tyranny of the Philistines, whilst Samson merely 
commenced their deliverance and did not bring it to completion. 
Samuel appears to have deliberately mentioned his own name 
along with those of the other judges who were sent by God, 
that he might show the people in the most striking manner 
(ver. 12) that they had no reason whatever for saying to him, 
" iVäy, hut a king shall reign over us," as soon as the Ammonites 
invaded Gilead. " As Jehovah your God is your King" i.e. has 
ever proved himself to be your King by sending judges to deliver 

Vers. 13-18a. After the prophet had thus held up before 
the people their sin against the Lord, he bade them still further 
consider, that the king would only procure for them the antici- 
pated deliverance if they would fear the Lord, and give up 

CHAP. XII. 13-18. lis 

their rebellion against God. — Ver. 13. " But now behold the 
king whom ye have chosen, whom ye have ashed for! behold, 
Jehovah hath set a king over you." By the second njini, the 
thought is brought out still more strongly, that Jehovah had 
fulfilled the desire of the people. Although the request of the 
people had been an act of hostility to God, yet Jehovah had ful- 
filled it. The word Ci^"}n^, relating to the choice by lot (ch. x. 
17 sqq.), is placed before DJäIc*^^ *l??'^^, to show that the demand 
was the strongest act that the people could perform. They had 
not only chosen the king with the consent or by the direction 
of Samuel ; they had even demanded a king of their own self- 
will. — Ver. 14. Still, since the Lord had given them a king, 
the further welfare of the nation would depend upon whether 
they would follow the Lord from that time forward, or whether 
they would rebel against Him again. " J^f y^ '^'^'^H only fear the 
Lord, and serve Him, . . . and ye as loell as the king who rules 
over yoxi will be after Jehovah your God." 05^, in the sense of 
modo, if only, does not require any apodosis, as it is virtually 
equivalent to the wish, " that ye would only I" for which 
C355 with the imperfect is commonly used (vid. 2 Kings xx. 
19 ; Prov. xxiv. 11, etc. ; and Ewald, § 329, b). There is also 
nothing to be supplied to nin;' nnx . . . Dri\"T), since "inx njn, to 
be after or behind a person, is good Hebrew, and is frequently 
met with, particularly in the sense of attaching one's self to the 
king, or holding to him (yid. 2 Sam. ii. 10 ; 1 Kings xii. 20, 
xvi. 21, 22). This meaning is also at the foundation of the 
present passage, as Jehovah was the God-king of Israel. — 
Ver. 15. " But if ye do not hearken to the voice of Jehovah, and 
strive against His commandment, the hand of Jehovah will be 
heavy upon you, as upon your fathersV \ in the sense of as, 
i.e. used in a comparative sense, is most frequently placed 
before whole sentences (see Ewald, § 340, 5) ; and the use of 
it here may be explained, on the ground that D5''rihN3 contains 
the force of an entire sentence : " as it was upon your fathers." 
The allusion to the fathers is very suitable here, because the 
people were looking to the king for the removal of all the cala- 
mities, which had fallen upon them from time immemorial. The 
paraphrase of this word, which is adopted in the Septuagint, 
eVt rov ßaaikea vficov, is a very unhappy conjecture, although 
Thenius proposes to alter the text to suit it. — Ver. 16. In order 


to give still greater emphasis to his words, and to secure their 
lasting, salutary effect upon the people, Samuel added still 
further : Even now ye may see that ye have acted very 
wickedly in the sight of Jehovah, in demanding a king. This 
chain of thought is very clearly indicated by the words nny'Dii, 
" yea, ' even nowV " Even now come liitlier, and see this great 
thing which Jehovah does before your eyesT The words nriy"Da, 
which are placed first, belong, so far as the sense is concerned, 
to 'I'lTiS ^S~i ; and ^2Jf^^n (^" jylace yourselves,^' i.e. make your- 
selves ready) is merely inserted between, to fix the attention of 
the people more closely upon the following miracle, as an event 
of great importance, and one which they ought to lay to heart. 
" Is it not noio wheat harvest ? I ivill call to Jehovah, that He 
may give thunder (ni^p, as in Ex. ix. 23, etc.) and rain. Then 
perceive and see, that the evil is great lohich ye have done in the 
eyes of Jehovah, to demand a king.'' The Avheat harvest occurs 
in Palestine between the middle of ]\Iay and the middle of June 
(see my Bihl. Arch. i. § 118). And during this time it scarcely 
ever rains. Thus Jerome affirms {ad Am. c. 4) : " Nunquam 
in fine mensis Junii aut in Julio in Ids provinciis maximeque in 
Judaea pluvias vidimus." And Robinson also says in his Pales- 
tine (ii. p. 98) : " In ordinary seasons, from the cessation of the 
showers in spring until their commencement in October and 
November, rain never falls, and the sky is usually serene" (see 
ray Arch. i. § 10). So that when God sent thunder and rain 
on that day in answer to Samuel's appeal to him, this was a 
miracle of divine omnipotence, intended to show to the people 
that the judgments of God might fall upon the sinners at any 
time. Thunderings, as " the voices of God" (Ex. ix. 28), are 
harbingers of judgment. 

Vers. 186-25. This miracle therefore inspired the people 
with a salutary terror. " All the j^^ople greatly feai^ed the Lord 
and Samuel" and entreated the prophet, " Pray for thy servants 
to the Lord thy God, that we die not, because we have added to 
all our sins the evil thing, to ash us a king." — Vers. 20, 21 
Samuel thereupon announced to them first of all, that the Lord 
would not forsake His people for His great name's sake, if they 
would only serve Him with uprightness. In order, however, 
to give no encouragement to any false trust in the covenant 
faithfulness of the Lord, after the comforting words, " Fear' 

CHAP. XII. 18-25. 121 

not^^ he told them again very decidedly that they had done 
wrong, but that now they were not to turn away from the 
Lord, but to serve Him with all their heart, and not go after 
vain idols. To strengthen this admonition, he repeats the 
r\>DT\ NP in ver. 21, with the explanation, that in turning from 
the Lord they would fall away to idols, which could not bring 
them either help or deliverance. To the ''3 after ^il^Dri the same 
verb must be supplied from the context : " Do not turn aside 
(from the Lord), for (ye turn aside) after that ivhich is vain" 
inFirij the vain, worthless thing, signifies the false gods. This 
will explain the construction with a plural : " which do not 
pro/It and do not save, because they are emptiness " {iohu\ i.e. 
worthless beings {elilim, Lev. xix. 4 ; cf. Isa. xliv. 9 and Jer. 
xvi. 19). — Ver. 22. " For C^ gives the reason for the main 
thought of the previous verse, ' Fear not, but serve the Lord,' 
etc.) tliC Lord loill not forsahe His people for His great namens 
sähe ; for it hath pleased the Lord (for ^''^^in^ see at Deut. i. 5) 
to malce you His people." The emphasis lies upon His. This 
the Israelites could only be, when they proved themselves to be 
the people of God, by serving Jehovah with all their heart. 
" For His great namens sake" i.e. for the great name which He 
had acquired in the sight of all the nations, by the marvellous 
guidance of Israel thus far, to preserve it against misappre- 
hension and blasphemy (see at Josh. vii. 9). — Ver. 23. Samuel 
then promised the people his constant intercession : " Far be it 
from nie to sin against the Lord, that I should cease to pray for 
you, and to instruct you in the good and right way," i.e. to work 
as prophet for your good. " In this he sets a glorious example 
to all rulers, showing them that they should not be led astray 
by the ingratitude of their subordinates or subjects, and give 
up on that account all interest in their welfare, but should 
rather persevere all the more in their anxiety for them" {Berleb. 
Bible). — Vers. 24, 25. Lastly, he repeats once more his admo- 
nition, that they would continue stedfast in the fear of God, 
threatening at the same time the destruction of both king and 
people if they should do wrong (on ver. 24a, see ch. vii. 3 
and Josh. xxiv. 14, where the form ^X"i^ is also found). " For 
see ichat great things He has done for you" (shown to you), not 
by causing it to thunder and rain at Samuel's prayer, but by 
giving them a king. Dy ?''"n3n, as in Gen. xix. 19. 

122 the first book of samuel. 

Saul's reign, and his unseasonable sacrifice in the 


The history of the reign of Saul commences with this 
chapter ;^ and according to the standing custom in the history 
of the kings, it opens with a statement of the age of the king 
when he began to reign, and the number of years that his 
reign lasted. If, for example, we compare the form and con- 
tents of this verse with 2 Sam. ii. 10, v. 4, 1 Kings xiv. 21, 

^ The connection of vers. 8-11 of this chapter with ch. x. 8 is adduced 
in support of the hypothesis that ch. xiii. forms a direct continuation of 
the account that was broken off in ch. x. 16. This connection must be 
admitted ; but it by no means follows that in the source from which the 
books before us were derived, ch. xiii. was directly attached to ch. viii. 16, 
and that Samuel intended to introduce Saul publicly as king here in Gilgal 
immediately before the attack upon the Philistines, to consecrate him by 
the solemn presentation of sacrifices, and to connect with this the reli- 
gious consecration of the approaching campaign. For there is net a word 
about any such intention in the chapter before us or in ch. x. 8, nor even 
the slightest hint at it. Thenius has founded this view of his upon his 
erroneous interpretation of nTT" in ch. x. 8 as an imperative, as if Samuel 
intended to command Saul to go to Gilgal immediately after the occur- 
rence of the signs mentioned in ch. x. 2 sqq. : a view which is at variance 
with the instructions given to him, to do what his hand should find after 
the occurrence of those signs (see p. 101). To this we may also add the 
following objections : How is it conceivable that Saul, who concealed 
his anointing even from his own family after his return from Samuel to 
Gibeah (ch. x. 16), should have immediately after chosen 3000 men of 
Israel to begin the war against the Philistines? How did Saul attain to 
any such distinction, that at his summons all Israel gathered round him as 
their king, even before he had been publicly proclaimed king in the pre- 
sence of the people, and before he had secured the confidence of the people 
by any kingly heroic deed ? The fact of his having met with a band of 
prophets, and even prophesied in his native town of Gibeah after his 
departure from Samuel, and that this had become a proverb, is by no 
means enough to explain the enterprises described in ch. xiii. 1-7, which 
so absolutely demand the incidents that occurred in the meantime as re- 
corded in ch. X. 17-xii. 25 even to make them intelligible, that any writing 
in which ch. xiii. 2 sqq. followed directly upon ch. x. 16 would necessarily 
be regarded as utterly faulty. This fact, which I have already adduced in 
my examination of the hypothesis defended by Thenius in my Introduction 
to the Old Testament (p. 168), retains its force undiminished, even though, 
after a renewed investigation of the question, I have given up the supposed 
connection between ch. x. 8 and the proclamation mentioned in ch. xi. 14 
sqq., which I defended there. 

CHAP. XIII. 123 


xxii. 42, 2 Kings viii. 26, and other passages, where the age 
is given at which Ishbosheth, David, and many of the kings of 
Judah began to reign, and also the number of years that their 
reign lasted, there can be no doubt that our verse was also 
intended to give the same account concerning Saul, and there- 
fore that every attempt to connect this verse with the one 
which follows is opposed to the uniform historical usage. More- 
over, even if, as a matter of necessity, the second clause of 
ver. 1 could be combined with ver. 2 in the following manner : 
He was two years king over Israel, then Saul chose 3000 men, 
etc. ; the first half of the verse would give no reasonable sense, 
according to the Masoretic text that has come down to us. 
i370n Ss^ ^^^'1? cannot possibly be rendered ''jam per annum 
regnaverat Saul" " Saul had been king for a year," or " Saul 
reigned one year," but can only mean " Saul ivas a year old 
when he became king" This is the way in which the words have 
been correctly rendered by the Sept. and Jerome ; and so also 
in the Chaldee paraphrase (" Saul was an innocent child when 
he began to reign ") this is the way in which the text has been 
understood. It is true that this statement as to his age is 
obviously false ; but all that follows from that is, that there is 
an error in the text, namely, that between |3 and HJ^ the age 
has fallen out, — a thing which could easily take place, as there 
are many traces to show that originally the numbers were not 
written in words, but only in letters that were used as numerals. 
This gap in the text is older than the Septuagint version, as 
our present text is given there. There is, it is true, an anony- 
mus in the hexapla, in which we find the reading vlo'i rpiaKovra 
ejcav XaovK; but this is certainly not according to ancient 
MSS., but simply according to a private conjecture, and that an 
incorrect one. For. since Saul already had a son, Jonathan, 
who commanded a division of the army in the very first years 
df his reign, and therefore must have been at least twenty 
years of age, if not older, Saul himself cannot have been 
less than forty years old when he began to reign. Moreover, 
in the second half of the verse also, the number given is evi- 
dently a wrong one, and the text therefore equally corrupt; 
for the rendering "xvhen he had reigned two years over Israel" is 
opposed both by the parallel passages already quoted, and also 
by the introduction of the name Saul as the subject in ver. 2a, 


which shows very clearly that ver. 2 commences a fresh sen- 
tence, and is not merely the apodosis to ver. lb. But Saul's 
reign must have lasted longer than two years, even if, in oppo- 
sition to all analogies to be found elsewhere, we should under- 
stand- the two years as merely denoting the length of his reign 
up to the time of his rejection (ch. xv.), and not till the time 
of his death. Even then he reigned longer than that ; for he 
could not possibly have carried on all the wars mentioned in 
ch. xiv. 47, with Moab, Ammon, Edom, the kings of Zobah 
and the Philistines, in the space of two years. Consequently 
a numeral, say D, twenty, must also have dropped out before 
D^r^' •'jRC' (two years) ; since there are cogent reasons for assum- 
ing that his reign lasted as long as twenty or twenty-two years, 
reckoning to the time of his death. We have given the reasons 
themselves in connection with the chronology of the period of 
the judges (vol. iv. pp. 283-4).^ 

Vers. 2-7. The war ivith the Philistines (ch. xiii. xiv.) cer- 
tainly falls, at least so far as the commencement is concerned,* 
in the very earliest part of Saul's reign. This we must infer 
partly from the fact, that at the very time when Saul was 
seeking for his father's asses, there was a military post of the 
Philistines at Gibeah (ch. x. 5), and therefore the Philistines 
had already occupied certain places in the land ; and partly also 
from the fact, that according to this chapter Saul selected an 
ai'my of 3000 men out of the whole nation, took up his post 
at Michmash with 2000 of them, placing the other thousand at 
Gibeah under his son Jonathan, and sent the rest of the people 
home (ver. 2), because his first intention was simply to check 
the further advance of the Philistines. The dismission of the 
rest of the people to their own homes presupposes that the whole 
of the fio-hting men of the nation were assembled tocrether. 
But as no other summoning together of the people has been 

^ The traditional account that Saul reigned forty years (Acts xiii. 24, 
and Josephus, AjH. vi. 14, 9) is supposed to have arisen, according to the 
conjecture of Thenius (on 2 Sam. ii. 10), from the fact that his son Ish- 
bosheth was forty years old when he began to reign, and the notion that 
as he is not mentioned among the sons of Saul in 1 Sam. xiv. 49, he must 
have been born after the commencement of Saul's own reign. This con- 
jecture is certainly a probable one ; but it is much more natural to assume 
that as David and Solomon reigned forty years, it arose from the desire to 
make Saul's reign equal to theirs. 


CHAP. XIII. 2-7. 125 

mentioned before, except to the war upon the Ammonites at 
Jabesh (ch. xi. 6, 7), where all Israel gathered together, and at 
the close of which Samuel had called the people and their king 
to Gilgal (ch. xi. 14), the assumption is a very probable one, 
that it was there at Gilgal, after the renewal of the monarchy, 
that Saul formed the resolution at once to make war upon the 
Philistines, and selected 3000 fighting men for the purpose out 
of the whole number that were collected together, and then 
dismissed the remainder to their homes. In all probability 
Saul did not consider that either he or the Israelites were suffi- 
ciently prepared as yet to undertake a war upon the Philistines 
generally, and therefore resolved, in the first place, only to 
attack the outpost of the Philistines, which was advanced as far 
as Gibeah, with a small number of picked soldiers. According 
to this simple view of affairs, the war here described took place 
at the very commencement of Saul's reign ; and the chapter 
before us is closely connected with the preceding one. — Ver. 2. 
Saul posted himself at Michmash and on the mount of Bethel 
with his two thousand men. Michmash, the present Mulchmas, 
a village in ruins upon the northern ridge of the Wady Suweinit, 
according to the Onom. (s. v. Machmas), was only nine Poman 
miles to the north of Jerusalem, wdiereas it took Robinson three 
hours and a half to go from one to the other {Pal. ii. p. 117). 
Bethel {Beitin ; see at Josh. vii. 2) is to the north-west of this, 
at a distance of two hours' journey, if you take the road past 
Deir-Diwan. The mountain pn) of Bethel cannot be precisely 
determined. Bethel itself was situated upon very high ground ; 
and the ruins of Beitin are completely surrounded by heights 
(Pob. ii. p. 126 ; and v. Raumer, Pal. pp. 178-9). Jonathan 
stationed himself with his thousand men at (by) Gibeah of 
Benjamin, the native place and capital of Saul, which was 
situated upon Tell el Phul (see at Josh, xviii. 28), about an 
hour and a half from Michmas. — Ver. 3. ^^And Jonathan smote 
the garrison of the Philistines that teas at Geba" probably the 
military post mentioned in ch. x. 5, which had been advanced 
in the meantime as far as Geba. For Geba is not to be con- 
founded with Gibeah, from which it is clearly distinguished in 
ver. 16 as compared with ver. 15, but is the modern Jeba, 
between the Wady Smoeinit and Wady Fara, to the north-west 
of Ramah (er-Räm ; see at Josh, xviii. 24). " The Philistines 


heard this. And Saul had the trumpet blown throughout the 
whole land, and proclamation made : let the Hebrews hear it.'' 
")bS7 after "iSitJ'a V\^r\ points out the proclamation that was made 
after the alarm given bj the shophar (see 2 Sam. xx. 1 ; 1 Kings 
i. 34, 39, etc.). The object to " let them hear" may be easily 
supplied from the context, viz. Jonathan's feat of arms. Saul 
had this trumpeted in the whole land, not only as a joyful 
message for the Hebrews, but also as an indirect summons to 
the whole nation to rise and make war upon the Philistines. 
In the word V^^ (hear), there is often involved the idea of 
observing, laying to heart that which is heiard. If we under- 
stand ^V^'^'\ in this sense here, and the next verse decidedly 
hints at it, there is no ground whatever for the objection which 
Thenius, who follows the LXX., has raised to nnnyn ^i;otJ'^. 
He proposes this emendation, Q''"]3J?ri ly^'D';, " let the Hebrews 
fall away," according to the Alex, text yOeryjKacrcv at SovXoc, 
without reflecting that the very expression ol SovXoi, is sufficient 
to render the Alex, reading suspicious, and that Saul could not 
have summoned the people in all the land to fall away from the 
Philistines, since they had not yet conquered and taken pos- 
session of the whole. Moreover, the correctness of '^Vp^\ is 
confirmed by ^Vr;)f ^?<t^r^?l in ver. 4. " All Israel heard,"' not 
the call to fall away, but the news, " Saul has smitten a gajrrison 
of the Philistines, and Israel has also made itself stinking with 
the Pliilistines," i.e. hated in consequence of the bold and suc- 
cessful attack made by Jonathan, which proved that the Israel- 
ites would no longer allow themselves to be oppressed by the 
Philistines. " And the people let themselves be called together 
after Saul to Gilgal." PI^^''?, to permit to summon to war (as in 
Judg. vii. 23, 24). The words are incorrectly rendered by the 
Vulgate, " clamavit ergo populus post Saul," and by Luther, 
'' Then the people cried after Saul to Gilgal." Saul drew 
back to Gilgal, when the Philistines advanced with a large 
army, to make preparations for the further conflict (see at ver. 
13). — Ver. 5. The Philistines also did not delay to avenge the 
defeat at Geba. They collected an innumerable army : 30,000 
chariots, 6000 horsemen, and people, i.e. foot-soldiers, without 
number (as the sand by the sea-shore ; cf. Judg. vii. 12, Josh, 
xi. 4, etc.). 33"] by the side of ^''t^'^S can only mean war 
chariots. 30,000 war chariots, however, bear no proportion 

CHAP, XIII. 2-7. 127 

whatever to 6000 horsemen, not only because the number of 
war chariots is invariably smaller than that of the horsemen 
(cf. 2 Sam. X. 18 ; 1 Kings x. 20 ; 2 Chron. xii. 3), but also, as 
Bochart observes in his Hieroz. p, i. lib. ii. c. 9, because such a 
number of war chariots is never met with either in sacred or 
profane history, not even in the case of nations that were much 
more powerful than the Philistines. The number is therefore 
certainly corrupt, and we must either read 3000 ('7^< T\'ä7p 
instead of '^^ U'XpZ')^ according to the Syriac and Arabic, or 
else simply 1000 ; and in the latter case the origin of the number 
thirty must be attributed to the fact, that through the oversight 
of a copyist the 7 of the word ^^^^\ was written twice, and 
consequently the second 7 was taken for the numeral thirty. 
This army was encamped '• at MicJnnash, before (i.e. in the 
front, or on the western side of) Bethaven ;" for, according to 
Josh. vii. 2, Bethaven was to the east of Michmash ; and ^OTp^ 
Avhen it occurs in geographical accounts, does not " always 
mean to the east," as Thenius erroneously maintains, but in- 
variably means simply "in front" (see at Gen. ii. 14).^ — Vers. 
6, 7. When the Israelites saw that they had come into a strait 
(i? "ly), for the people were oppressed (by the Philistines), they 
hid themselves in the caves, thorn-bushes, rocks {i.e. clefts 
of the rocks), fortresses (Q'^n^V ; see at Judg. ix. 46), and pits 
(which were to be found in the land) ; and Hebrews also went 
over the Jordan into the land of Gad and Gilead, whilst Saul 
was still at Gilgal ; and all the people (the people of war who 
had been called together, ver. 4) trembled behind him, i.e. were 
gathered together in his train, or assembled round him as leader, 
trembling or in despair. 

The Gilgal mentioned here cannot be Jiljilia, which is 
situated upon the high ground, as assumed in the Comm. on 
Joshua, p. 94, but must be the Gilgal in the valley of the 
Jordan. This is not only favoured by the expression 11"!\ (the 
Philistines will come down from Michmash to Gilgal, ver. 12), 

^ Consequently there is no ground whatever for altering the text 
according to the confused rendering of the LXX., h Maxi^öi; II hctvrixi 
Bxiöupay KocTx i/oVof , for the purpose of substituting for the correct state- 
ment in the text a description which would be geographically wrong, viz. 
to the south-east of Betli-horon, since Michmash was neither to the south 
nor to the south-east, but to the east of Beth-horon. 


but also by ^V^l (Samuel went up from Gilgal to Gibeah, ver. 
15), and by the general attitude of Saul and his army towards 
the Philistines. As the Philistines advanced with a powerful 
army, after Jonathan's victory over their garrison at Geba (to 
the south of Michmash), and encamped at Michmash (ver. 
5) ; and Saul, after withdrawing from Gilgal, where he had 
gathered the Israelites together (vers. 4, 8, 12), with Jonathan 
and the six hundred men who were with him when the muster 
took place, took up his position at Geba (vers. 15, 16), from 
which point Jonathan attacked the Philistine post in the pass of 
Michmash (ver. 23, and ch. xiv. 1 sqq.) : Saul must have drawn 
back from the advancing army of the Philistines to the Gilgal 
in the Jordan valley, to make ready for the battle by collect- 
ing soldiers and presenting sacrifices, and then, after this had 
been done, must have advanced once more to Gibeah and Geba 
to commence the war with the army of the Philistines that was 
encamped at Michmash. If, on the other hand, he had gone 
northwards to Jiljilia from Michmash, where he was first 
stationed, to escape the advancing army of the Philistines ; he 
would have had to attack the Philistines from the north when 
they were encamped at Michmash, and could not possibly have 
returned to Geba without coming into conflict with the Phili- 
stines, since Michmash was situated between Jiljilia and Geba. 
Vers. 8-15. SauPs untimely sacrifice. — Vers. 8, 9. Saul 
waited seven days for Samuel's coming, according to the time 
appointed by Samuel (see at ch. x. 8), before proceeding to 
offer the sacrifices through which the help of the Lord was to 
be secured for the approaching campaign (see ver. 12) ; and as 
Samuel did not come, the people began to disperse and leave 
him. The Kethih hu'^'s is either the Niphal ?n*'1, as in Gen. viii. 
12, or Pie I ^^\\]; and the Keri ^'Hi'l (Fliphil) is unnecessary. The 
verb ^T may easily be supplied to PXIOti' IK'K from the word 
Tyil27 (see Ges. Lehrgeh. p. 851). — Ver. 9. Saul then resolved, 
in his anxiety lest the people should lose all heart and forsake 
him altogether if there were any further delay, that he would 
offer the sacrifice without Samuel. n7ij?n ?y'1 does not imply 
that Saul offered the sacrifice with his own hand, i.e. that he 
performed the priestly function upon this occasion. The co- 
operation of the priests in performing the duties belonging to 
them on such an occasion is taken for granted, just as in the 

CHAP. XIII. 8-15. 129 

case of the sacrifices offered by David and Solomon (2 Sam. 
xxiv. 25 ; 1 Kings iii. 4, viii. 63). — Vers. 10 sqq. The offering 
of the sacrifice was hardly finished when Samuel came and 
said to Saul, as he came to meet him and salute him, " What 
hast thou do7ie?" Saul replied, "Whe7i I saw that the people 
xoere scattered away from me, and thou earnest not at the time 
appointed, and the Philistines were assembled at Michmash, I 
thought the Philistines will come doxon to me to Gilgal now (to 
attack me), before I have entreated the face of Jehovah ; and I 
overcame myself and offered the burnt-offering." '"''' ''JS n?n : see 
Ex. xxxii. 11. — Yer. 13. Samuel replied, " Thou hast acted 
foolishly, (and) not kept the commandment of Jehovah thy God, 
tchich He commanded thee : for noio (sc. if thou hadst obeyed 
His commandment) Jehovah xooidd have established thy sove- 
reignty over Israel for ever ; but lioio (sc. since thou hast acted 
thus) thy sovereignty shall not contixiue." The antithesis of 
ppn nriy and Dlpn ii? nFiy") requires that we should understand 
these two clauses conditionally. The conditional clauses are 
omitted, simply because they are at once suggested by the tenor 
of the address (see Ewald, § 358, a). The ''2 (for) assigns the 
reason, and refers to ^??pp ("thou hast done foolishly"), the 
'1J1 J^iDt^' N7 being merely added as explanatory. The non-con- 
tinuance of the sovereignty is not to be regarded as a rejection, 
or as signifying that Saul had actually lost the throne so far as 
he himself v/as concerned ; but DlpH Nv (shall not continue) forms 
the antithesis to DPiyiy \'':^t^ (established for ever), and refers 
to the fact that it was not established in perpetuity by being 
transmitted to his descendants. It was not till his second trans- 
gression that Saul was rejected, or declared unworthy of being 
king over the people of God (ch. xv.). We are not compelled 
to assume an immediate rejection of Saul even by the further 
announcement made by Samuel, " Jehovah hath sought him a 
man after his oivn heart ; him hath Jehovah appointed prince over 
His people ; " for these words merely announce the purpose 
of God, without defining the time of its actual realization. 
Whether it would take place during Saul's reign, or not till 
after his death, was known only to God, and was made contin- 
gent upon Saul's further behaviour. But if Saul's sin did 
not consist, as we have observed above, in his having interfered 
with the prerogatives of the priests by offering the sacrifice 



himself, but simply in the fact that he had transgressed the 
commandment of God as revealed to him by Samuel, to post- 
pone the sacrifice until Samuel arrived, the punishment which 
the prophet announced that God would inflict upon him in con- 
sequence appears a very severe one, since Saul had not come to 
the resolution either frivolously or presumptuously, but had been 
impelled and almost forced to act as he did by the difficulties in 
which he was placed in consequence of the prophet delaying his 
coming. But wherever, as in the present instance, there is a 
definite command given by the Lord, a man has no right to 
allow himself to be induced to transgress it, by fixing his atten- 
tion upon the earthly circumstances in which he is placed. As 
Samuel had instructed Saul, as a direct conunand from Jehovah, 
to wait for his arrival before offering sacrifice, Saul might have 
trusted in the Lord that he would send His prophet at the right 
time and cause His command to be fulfilled, and ought not to 
have allowed his confidence to be shaken by the pressing danger 
of delay. The interval of seven days and the delay in Samuel's 
arrival were intended as a test of his faith, which he ought not 
to have lightly disregarded. Moreover, the matter in hand was 
the commencement of the war against the principal enemies 
of Israel, and Samuel was to tell him what he was to do (ch. 
X. 8). So that when Saul proceeded with the consecrating 
sacrifice for that very conflict, without the presence of Samuel, 
he showed clearly enough that he thought he could make war 
upon the enemies of his kingdom without the counsel and 
assistance of God. This was an act of rebellion against the 
sovereignty of Jehovah, for which the punishment announced 
was by no means too severe. — Ver. 15. After this occurrence 
Samuel went up to Gibeah, and Saul mustered the people who 
were with him, about six hundred men. Consequently Saul 
had not even accomplished the object of his unseasonable sacri- 
fice, namely, to prevent the dispersion of the people. With this 
remark the account of the occurrence that decided the fate of 
Saul's monarchy is brought to a close. 

Vers. 16-23. Disarming of Israel hy the Philistines. — The 
followino; account is no doubt connected with the foreffoine;, so 
far as the facts are concerned, inasmuch as Jonathan's brave 
heroic deed, which brought the Israelites a splendid victory over 
the Philistines, terminated the war for which Saul had entreated 

CHAP. XIII, 16-23. 131 

tlie help of God by his sacrifice at Gilgal ; but it is not formally 
connected with it, so as to form a compact and complete account 
of the successive stages of the war. On the contrary, the 16th 
verse, where we have an account of the Israelitish warriors and 
their enemies, commences a new section of the history, in which 
the devastating march of the Philistines through the land, and 
the disarming of the Israelites by these their enemies, are first of 
all depicted (vers. 17-23); and then the victory of the Israelites 
through Jonathan's daring and heroic courage, notwithstanding 
their utter prostration, is recorded (ch. xiv. 1-46), for the pur- 
pose of showing how the Lord had miraculously helped His 

Ver. 16. The two clauses of this verse are circumstantial 
clauses : " But Saul, and Jonathan his son, and the people that 
were loith him, ivere sitting, i.e. tarrying, in Geha of Benjamin 
(the present Jeba ; see at ver. 3) ; and the Philistines had en- 
camped at Michjjiash." Just as in vers. 2-4 it is not stated 
when or why Saul went from Michmash or Geba to Gilgal, 

^ From this arrangement of the history, according to which the only- 
two points that are minutely described in connection with the war with the 
Philistines are those which bring out the attitude of the king, whom the 
nation had desired to deliver it from its foes, towards Jehovah, and the way 
in which Jehovah acted towards His people, whilst all the rest is passed 
over, we may explain the absence of any closer connection between ver. 15 
and ver. 16, and not from a gap in the text. The LXX., however, adopted 
the latter supposition, and according to the usual fashion filled up the gap 
by expanding ver. 15 in the following thoughtless manner : x-icl d'Aarin 
lot.f^ovr.'K x.ce.1 a,'7rr,'h6iu ix, Voc'K'/a.T^uv' k»1 to x.tx.TcCKn^^oi. zov "hoLOV duißyi oTriau 
"Zaovyi. tig a.'T! a,vrrta IV o'thuu tov "hoiov toIi '7TO'he(/.ia'roi/' »vruv •Kctptx.yivoi/.kvuv ix, 
Tx'K'/et.^.uv ili Txßctcc Bsi/txfiii/ Kctl e7ri(jKi\poc,ro 'S.ccov'h, K.r.'h. For there is no 
sense in t/j dTravmotv ovtaa, and the whole thought, that the people who were 
left went up after Saul to meet the people of war, is unintelligible, since it is 
not stated whence the people of war had come, who are said to have met with 
these who had remained behind with Saul, and to have gone up with him 
from Gilgal to Gibeah. If, however, we overlook this, and assume that when 
Saul returned fi'om Gilgal to Gibeah a further number of fighting men came 
to him from different parts of the land, how does this assumption agree 
with the account which follows, viz. that when Saul mustered the people 
he found only six hundred men, — a statement which is repeated again in 
ch. xiv. 2 ? The discrepancy remains even if wo adopt Ewald's conjecture 
(Gesch. iii. 43), that wV ecTrxi/rricriv is a false rendering of T^^h, "to the 
conflict." Moreover, even with the Alexandrian filling up, no natural con- 
nection is secured between vers. 15 and 16, unless we identify Geha of Ben- 


but tins change in his position is merely hinted at indirectly at 
the close of ver. 4; so here Saul's return from Gilgal to Geba 
with the fighting men who remained with him is not distinctly 
mentioned, but simply taken for granted as having already 
occurred. — Vers. 17, 18. Then the spoiler went out of the 
camp of the Philistines in three companies. D''^'Nn r\^'?\y is 
made subject to the verb to define the mode of action (see 
Ewald, § 279, c) ; and rasJiim is used here, as in ch. xi. 11. 
JTint^en, according to the context, is a hostile band that went 
out to devastate tlie land. The definite article points it out as 
well known. One company took the road to Ophrah into the 
land of Shual, i.e. went in a north-easterly direction, as, accord- 
ing to the Onom., Ophrah of Benjamin was five Roman miles 
to the east of Bethel (see at Josh, xviii. 23). Robinson sup- 
poses it to have been on the site of Tayiheh. The land of 
Shual (fox-land) is unknown ; it may possibly have been iden- 
tical with the iand of Saaliin (ch. ix. 5). The other company 
turned on the road to Beth-horon (Beit-ur : see at Josh. x. 11), 
that is to sa}', towards the west ; the third, " the way to the 
territory that rises above the valley of Zehoim towards the 

jamin with Gibeah, as the Septuagint and its latest defenders have done, 
and not only change the participle D''2ti''' (ver. 16) into the aorist laiköiiixv, 
but interpolate x«i 'iickdiov after " at Geba of Benjamin ;" whereas the 
statement of the text " at Geba in Benjamin " is proved to be correct by 
the simple fact that Jonathan could only attempt or carry out the heroic 
deed recorded in ch. xiv. from Geba and not from Gibeah; and the altera- 
tion of the participle into the aorist is just as arbitrary as the interpolation 
of Kccl ix.'Kutou. From all this it follows that the Septuagint version has not 
preserved the original reading, as Ewald and Thenius suppose, but contains 
nothing more than a mistaken attempt to restore the missing link. It is 
true the Vulgate contains the same filling up as the Septuagint, but with 
one alteration, which upsets the assertion made by Thenius, that the repeti- 
tion of the expression ^2/5n jO, £« TaAyaX^ji/, caused the reading contained 
in the Septuagint to be dropped out of the Hebrew text. For the text of 
the Vulgate runs as follows : Surrexit autcm Samuel et ascendit de Galgalis 
in Gabaa Benjamin. Et reliqid poindi ascenderunt post Saul obviam populo, 
qui (xpugnabant eos venientes de Galgala in Gabaa in colle Benjamin. Et 
recensuit Saul^ etc. Jerome has therefore rendered the first two clauses of 
ver. 15 in perfect accordance with the Hebrew text ; and the addition 
which follows is nothing more than a gloss that has found its way into his 
translation from the Itala, and in which de Galgala in colle Benjamin is 
still retained, whereas Jerome nimself rendered pj^jn jO de Galgalis. 

CHAP. XIII. 16-23. 133 

desert." These descriptions are obscure ; and the valley of 
Zehoim altogether unknown. There is a town of this name 
(D^py, different from D^fn^, Deut. xxix. 22, Gen. xiv. 2, 8 ; 
or Q'''5"^Vj Hos. xi. 8, in the vale of Siddim) mentioned in Neh. 
xi. 34, which was inhabited by Benjaminites, and was appa- 
rently situated in the south-eastern portion of the land of Ben- 
jamin, to the north-east of Jerusalem, from which it follows that 
the third company pursued its devastating course in a south- 
easterly direction from Michmash towards Jericho. " The 
wilderness" is probably the desert of Judah. The intention of 
the Philistines in carrying out these devastating expeditions, 
■was no doubt to entice the men who were gathered round Saul 
and Jonathan out of their secure positions at Gibeali and Geba, 
and force them to fight. — Vers. 19 sqq. The Israelites could not 
offer a successful resistance to these devastating raids, as there 
was no smith to be found in the whole land: "For the Phili- 
stines thought the Hebrews might make themselves sioord or spear'''' 
(^^D^? followed by is, " to say, or think, that not," equivalent to 
being unwilling that it should be done). Consequently (as 
the words clearly imply) when they proceeded to occupy the 
land of Israel as described in ver. 5, they disarmed the people 
throughout, i.e. as far as they penetrated, and carried off the 
smiths, who might have been able to forge weapons ; so that, as 
is still further related in ver. 20, all Israel was obliged to go to 
the Philistines, every one to sharpen his edge-tool, and his 
ploughshare, and his axe, and his chopper. According to Isa. 
ii. 4, Micah iv. 3, and Joel iv. 10, rix is an iron instrument 
used in agriculture ; the majority of the ancient versions render 
it ploughshare. The word in'^'nriD is striking after the previous 
Sn'&)}y2 (from ^t^'■}^0) ; and the meaning of both words is un- 
certain. According to the etymology, nLi'"]nn might denote any 
kind of edge-tool, even the ploughshare. The second inc'ino 
is rendered to hpeiravov avrov (his sickle) by tiie LXX,, and 
sarculum, by Jerome, a small garden hoe for loosening and 
weeding the soil. The fact that the word is connected with 
DTip, the axe or hatchet, favours the idea that it signifies a hoe 
or spade rather than a sickle. Some of the words in ver. 21 
are still more obscure. ^^''J}\, which is the reading adopted by 
all the earlier translators, indicates that the result is about to 
be given of the facts mentioned before : " And there came to 


pass,^^ i.e. so that there came to pass (or arose), D''Q HT^sn, " a 
blunting of the edges." '^"i"'V?5 bluntness, from "i^Q, to tear^ 

hence to make blunt, is confirmed by the Arabic jlki, gladius 

ßssuras habens, obtusus ensis, wliereas the meaning to hammer, 
i.e. to sharpen by hammering, cannot be establislied. The 
insertion of the article before HT'^S is as strikini»; as the 

T • : O 

omission of it before D''S ; also the stat. abs. instead of the 
construct nTys, These anomalies render it a very probable 
conjecture that the reading may have been D''sn 1''V?'I' ("^Z- 
Hipli. nomin.). Accordingly the rendering would be, " so that 
bluntness of the edges occurred in the edge-tools, and the plough- 
shares, and the trident, and the axes, and the setting of the goad" 
jiCJ'pip ^T^ is to be regarded as a nom. comp, like our trident, 
denoting an instrument with three prongs, according to the 
Chaldee and the Eabbins (see Ges. Thes. p. 1219). 1^"!^, 
stimulus, is probably a pointed instrument generally, since the 
meaning goad is fully established in the case of in"i,^ by Eccl. 
xii. 11.^ — Ver. 22. On the day of battle, therefore, the people 
with Saul and Jonathan were without either sword or spear ; 
Saul and Jonathan were the only persons provided with them. 
The account of the expedition of the Israelites, and their victory 
over the Ammonites, given in ver. 11, is apparently at variance 
with this description of the situation of the Israelites, since the 

^ Ver. 21 runs very differently in the LXX., namely, x.x\ ?iv 6 rpvynroi 
iroi/^o; Tov ßspi^av^ tcc Ss aniVYi ijv rpug atKhoi tig tou oSc/Vt«, x,cc\ rri cl^iu^ 
x«i ru IpiTToiva vTröaretatg ijv i] ccvrvi ; and Thenius and Böttcher propose 
an emendation of the Hebrew text accordingly, so as to obtain the fol- 
lowing meaning : " And the sharpening of the edges in the case of the 
spades and ploughshares was done at three shekels a tooth {i.e. three 
shekels each), and for the axe and sickle it was the same" (Thenius) ; or, 
" and the same for the sickles, and for the axes, and for setting the prong" 
(Böttcher). But here also it is easy enough to discover that the LXX. had 
not another text before them that was different from the Masoretic text, 
but merely confounded "li^'SD with 11^311, rpvyriröi, and took pK^^p C^bt^*^ 
which was unintelligible to them, e conjectnra for J^J^n 'pti* nh^, altogether 
regardless of the sense or nonsense of their own translation. The latest 
supporters of this senseless rendering, however, have neither undertaken to 
prove the possibility of translating öoövru, (öoovs), " each single piece" {i.e. 
each), or inquired into the value of money at that time, so as to see 
whether three shekels would be an unexampled charge for the sharpening 
of an axe or sickle. 

CHAP. XIII. 16-23. 135 

war in question not only presupposes the possession of weapons 
by the Israelites, but must also have resulted in their captur- 
ing a considerable quantity. The discrepancy is very easily 
removed, however, Avhen we look carefully at all the circum- 
stances. For instance, we can hardly picture the Israelites to 
ourselves as amply provided with ordinary weapons in this 
expedition against the Ammonites. Moreover, the disarming 
of the Israelites by the Philistines took place for the most part 
if not entirely after this expedition, viz. at the time when the 
Philistines swept over the land with an innumerable army after 
Jonathan had smitten their garrison at Geba (vers. 3, 5), so that 
the fighting men who gathered round Saul and Jonathan after 
that could hardly bring many arms with them. Lastly, the 
words "there was neither sword nor spear found in the hands 
of all the people with Saul and Jonathan" must not bo too 
closely pressed, but simply affirm that the 600 fighting men of 
Saul and Jonathan were not provided with the necessary arms, 
because the Philistines had prevented the possibility of their 
arming themselves in the ordinary way by depriving the people 
of all their smiths. 

Yer. 23 forms the transition to the heroic act of Jonathan 
described in ch. xiv. : "An outpost of the Pliilistines went out 
to the 2'>ciss of Michmash ;" i.e. the Philistines pushed forward a 
company of soldiers to the pass p^y?, the crossing ])lace) of 
Michmash, to prevent an attack being made by the Israelites 
upon their camp. Between Geha and Michmash there runs 
the great deep Wady es Suweinit, which goes down from Beitin 
and Bireh (Bethel and Beeroth) to the valley of the Jordan, 
and intersects the ridge upon which the two places are situated, 
so that the sides of the wady form very precipitous walls. 
When Robinson was travellino; from Jeba to Mukhmas he had 
to go down a very steep and rugged path into this deep wady 
(P«7. ii. p. 116). " The way," he says in his Biblical Researchesy 
p. 289, " was so steep, and the rocky steps so high, that we 
were compelled to dismount ; while the baggage mules got 
along with great difficulty. Here, where we crossed, several 
short side wadys came in from the south-west and north-west. 
The ridges between these terminate in elevating points pro- 
jecting into the great wady ; and the most easterly of these 
bluffs on each side were probably the outposts of the two gar- 


risons of Israel and the Philistines. The road passes around 
the eastern side of the southern hill, the post of Israel, and 
then strikes up over the western part of the northern one, the 
post of the Philistines, and the scene of Jonathan's adventure." 

Jonathan's heroic act, and Israel's victory over the 
PHILISTINES. Saul's wars and family. — chap xiv. 

Vers. 1-15. Jonathans heroic act. — With strong faith and 
confidence in the might of the Lord, that He could give the 
victory even through the hands of very few, Jonathan resolved 
to attack the outpost of the Philistines at the pass of Mukhmas, 
accompanied by his armour-bearer alone, and the Lord crowned 
his enterprise with a marvellous victory. — Ver. 1. Jonathan 
said to his armour-bearer, " We will go over to the post of the 
Philistines, that is over ihere.^' To these words, which introduce 
the occurrences that followed, there are attached from "i''3Xp1 to 
ver. 5 a series of sentences introduced to explain the situation, 
and the thread of the narrative is resumed in ver. 6 by a re- 
petition of Jonathan's words. It is first of all observed that 
Jonathan did not disclose his intentions to his father, who 
would hardly have approved of so daring an enterprise. Then 
follows a description of the place where Saul was stationed 
with the six hundred men, viz. "at the end of Gibeah (i.e. the 
extreme northern end), under the pomegranate-tree (Bimmon) 
which is hy Migron" Rimmon is not the rock Kimmon (Judg. 
XX. 45), which was on the north-east of Michmash, but is an 
appellative noun, signifying a pomegranate-tree. Migron is a 
locality with which we are not acquainted, upon the north side 
of Gibeah, and a different place from the Migron which was 
on the north or north-west of Michmash (Isa. x. 28). Gibeah 
{Tuleil el Phut) was an hour and a quarter from Geba, and 
from the pass which led across to Michmash. Consequently, 
when Saul was encamped with his six hundred men on the 
north of Gibeah, he may have been hardly an hour's journey 
from Geba. — Ver. 3. Along with Saul and his six hundred 
men, there was also Ahiah, the son of Ahitub, the (elder) 
brother of Ichabod, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eli, the 
priest at Shiloh, and therefore a great-grandson of Eli, wearing 
the ephod, i.e. in the high priest's robes. Ahiah is generally 

CHAP. XIV. 1-15. 137 

supposed to be the same person as AJdmelech, the son of Ahitub 
(cli. xxii. 9 sqq.), in which case Ahiah (i^'H^? brotlier, i.e. friend 
of Jehovah) would be only another form of the name Ahimelecli 
(i.e. brother or friend of the King, viz. Jehovah). This is very 
probable, although Ahimelech might have been Ahiah's brother, 
who succeeded him in the office of high priest on account of his 
having died without sons, since there is an interval of at least 
ten years between the events related in this chapter and those 
referred to in ch. xxii. Ahimelech was afterwards slain by 
Saul along with the priests of Nob (ch. xxii. 9 sqq.) ; the only 
one who escaped being his son Abiathar, who fled to David 
and, according to ch. xxx. 7, was invested with the ephod. It 
follows, therefore, that Ahiah (or Ahimelech) must have had a 
son at least ten years old at the time of the war referred to 
here, viz. the Abiathar mentioned in ch. xxx. 7, and must have 
been thirty or thirty-five years old himself, since Saul had 
reigned at least twenty-two years, and Abiathar had become 
high priest a few years before the death of Saul. These 
assumptions may be very easily reconciled with the passage 
before us. As Eli was ninety-eight years old when he died, 
his son Phinehas, who had been killed in battle a short time 
before, might have been sixty or sixty-five years old, and have 
left a son of forty years of age, namely Ahitub. Forty years 
later, therefore, i.e. at the beginning of Saul's reign, Ahitub's 
son Ahiah (Ahimelech) might have been about fifty years old ; 
and at the death of Ahimelech, which took place ten or twelve 
years after that, his son Abiathar might have been as much as 
thirty years of age, and have succeeded his father in the office 
of high priest. But Abiathar cannot have been older than this 
when his father died, since he was high priest during the whole 
of David's forty years' reign, until Solomon deposed him soon 
after he ascended the throne (1 Kings ii. 26 sqq.). Compare 
with this the remarks on 2 Sam. viii. 17. Jonathan had also 
refrained from telling the people anything about his intentions, 
so that they did not know that he had gone. 

In vers. 4, 5, the locality is more minutely described. 
Between the passes, through which Jonathan endeavoured to 
cross over to go up to the post of the Philistines, there was 
a sharp rock on this side, and also one upon the other. One 
of these was called Bozez, the other Seneh ; one (formed) a 


pillar (P''^*^), i-ß- ^ steep height towards the north opposite to 
Michmash, the other towards the south opposite to Geba. The 
expression " heticeen the passes " may be explained from the 
remark of Robinson quoted above, viz. that at the point where 
he passed the Wady Suweinit, side wadys enter it from the 
south-west and north-west. These side wadys supply so many 
different crossings. Between them, however, on the north and 
south walls of the deep valley, were the jagged rocks Bozez and 
Seneh, which rose up like pillars to a great height. These were 
probably the "hills" which Robinson saw to the left of the 
pass by which he crossed : " Two hills of a conical or rather 
spherical form, having steep rocky sides, with small wadys run- 
ning up behind so as almost to isolate them. One is on the 
side towards Jeba, and the other towards Mukhmas " (Pal. ii. 
p. 116). — Ver. 6. And Jonathan said to his armour-bearer, 
" Come, loe ivill go over to the post of these uncircumcisecl; it may 
he that Jehovah will xoorh for us ; for (there is) 7io hindrance 
for Jehovah to loork salvation hy many or fewT Jonathan's 
resolution arose from the strong conviction that Israel was the 
nation of God, and possessed in Jehovah an omnipotent God, 
who would not refuse His help to His people in their conflict 
with the foes of His kingdom, if they would only put their 
whole trust in Him. — Ver. 7. As the armour-bearer approved 
of Jonathan's resolution (^ nt33, turn t]nther\ and was ready to 
follow him, Jonathan fixed upon a sign by which he would 
ascertain whether the Lord would prosper his undertaking. — 
Vers. 8 sqq. " Behold, we go over to the j^ßople and show our- 
selves to them. If they say to us, Wait (iß'l, keep quiet) till we 
come to you, ive will stand still in our place, and not go up to 
them ; but if they say thus, Come up unto us, then ive will go up, 
for Jehovah hath (in that case) delivered them into our hand." 
The sign was well chosen. If the Philistines said, " Wait till 
we come," they would show some courage; but if they said, 
" Come up to us," it would be a sign that they were cowardly, 
and had not courage enough to leave their position and attack 
the Hebrews. It was not tempting God for Jonathan to fix 
upon such a sign by which to determine the success of his 
enterprise; for he did it in the exercise of his calling, when 
fighting not for personal objects, but for the kingdom of God, 
which the uncircumcised were threatening to annihilate, and in 

CHAP. XIV. 1-15. 139 

the most confident belief that the Lord would deliver and pre- 
serve His people. Such faith as this God would not put tt 
shame. — Vers. 11 sqq. .When the two showed themselves to 
the garrison of the Philistines, they said, "Behold, Hebrews come 
forth out of the holes in lohich they have hidden themselves." And 
the men of the garrison cried out to Jonathan and his armour- 
bearer, " Come up to us, and we loill tell you a loord," i.e. we will 
communicate something to you. This was ridicule at the daring 
of the two men, whilst for all that they had not courage enough 
to meet them bravely and drive them back. In this Jonathan 
received the desired sign that the Lord had given the Phili- 
stines into the hand of the Israelites : he therefore clambered 
up the rock on his hands and feet, and his armour-bearer after 
him; and "they (the Philistines) /e^Z before Jonathan" i.e. were 
smitten down by him, " and his armour-bearer was slaying be- 
hind him." — Ver. 14. The first stroke that Jonathan and his 
armour-bearer struck was (amounted to) about twenty men " on 
about half a furrow of an acre of field." "^^^^j ß furrow, as 
in Ps. cxxix. 3, is in the absolute state instead of the construct, 
because several nouns follow in the construct state (cf. Ewald, 
§ 291, a), ^ipv, lit. things bound together, then a pair ; here it 
signifies a pair or yoke of oxen, but in the transferred sense 
of a piece of land that could be ploughed in one morning with 
a yoke of oxen, like the Latin jiigum, jugerum. It is called the 
furrow of an acre of land, because the length only of half an 
acre of land was to be given, and not the breadth or the entire 
circumference. The Philistines, that is to say, took to flight in 
alarm as soon as the brave heroes really ascended, so that the 
twenty men were smitten one after another in the distance of 
half a rood of land. Their terror and flight are perfectly con- 
ceivable, if we consider that the outpost of the Philistines was 
so stationed upon the top of the ridge of the steep mountain 
wall, that they could not see how many were following, and 
the Philistines could not imagine it possible that two Hebrews 
would have ventured to climb the rock alone and make an 
attack upon them. Sallust relates a similar occurrence in con- 
nection with the scaling of a castle in the Numidian war (Bell. 
Jugurth. c. 89, 90). — Ver. 15. And there arose a terror in the 
camp upon the field (i.e. in the principal camp) as well as among 
all the people (of the advanced outpost of the Philistines) ; the 


garrison (i.e. tlie army that was encamped at Miclimash), and 
the spoilers, tliey also trembled, and the earth quaked, ss. with 
the noise and tumult of the frightened foe ; " and it grew into a 
trembling of God,'' i.e. a supernatural terror miraculously infused 
by God into the Philistines. The subject to the last ""nni is 
either '"'']"JC1, the alarm in the camp, or all that has been men- 
tioned before, i.e. the alarm with the noise and tumult that 
sprang out of it. 

Vers. 16-23. Flight and defeat of the Philistines. — Ver. 16. 
The spies of Saul at Gibeah saw how the multitude (in the camp 
of the Philistines) melted away and was beaten more and more. 
The words Dpni tip»! are obscure. The Rabbins are unanimous 
in adopting the explanation tnagis rnagisque frangehatnr, and 
Lave therefore probably taken Ci?n as an inf. absol. Dv^, and 
interpreted D?n according to Judg. v. 26. This was also the 
case with the Chaldee ; and Gesenius {Thes. p. 383) has adopted 
the same rendering, except that he has taken D?n in the sense 
of dissolutus, dissipatus est. Others take Di-'H as adverbial 
(^" and thither"), and supply the correlate QPn (hither), so as to 
bring out the meaning " hither and thither." Thus the LXX. 
render it evOev koX evOev, but they have not translated '^l^'l at 
all. — Ver. 17. Saul conjectured at once that the excitement in 
the camp of the Philistines was occasioned by an attack made 
by Israelitish Avarriors, and therefore commanded the people : 
NJ'HpS, " Muster (number) now, and see ivho has gone away from 
us;" and '■^Jonathan and his armour-hearer were not there," i.e. 
they were missing. — Vers. 18 sqq. Saul therefore resolved to ask 
God, thi'ough the priest Ahiah, what he should do ; whether 
he should go out with his army against the Philistines or no. 
But whilst he was talking with the priest, the tumult in the 
camp of the Philistines became greater and greater, so that he 
saw from that what ought to be done under the circumstances, 
and stopped the priest's inquiring of God, and set out with 
his people without delay. We are struck, however, with the 
expression in ver. 18, " Bring hither the ark of God" and the 
explanation which follows, "/or the ark of God was at that time 
with the children of Israel," inasmuch as the ark was then 
deposited at Kirjath-jearim, and it is a very improbable thing 
that it should have been in the little camp of Saul. Moreover, 
in other cases where the high priest is spoken of as inquiring 

CHAP. XIV. 16-23. 141 

the will of God, there is no mention made of the ark, but only 
of the ephod, the high priest's shoulder-dress, upon wliich tliere 
were fastened the Urim and Thummim, through which inquiry 
was made of God. And in addition to this, the verb riB'''3n is 
not really applicable to the ark, which was not an object that 
could be carried about at will ; whereas this verb is the current 
expression used to signify the fetching of the ephod (vid. ch. 
xxiii. 9, XXX. 7). All these circumstances render the correct- 
ness of the Masoretic text extremely doubtful, notwithstanding 
the fact that the Chaldee, the Syriac, the Arabic, and the 
Vulgate support it, and recommend rather the reading adopted 
by the LXX., Trpocrdyaye to ^E(j)ov8' on avro^ rjpev to 'EcpovS 
ev rfi I'jfiepa eKeivrj ivcoTnov 'Iapar]\ which Avould give as the 

Hebrew text, ^sib''' "'js^ xinn Qi>3 niDxn Nb'j t5^n "'s nisxn nti'-ian. 
In any case, ^^1^'] ''^^^ at the end of the verse should be read 
'b>] ''^2? or ''^}}^, since ^ gives no sense at all. — Yer. 19. "It 
increased more and more : " lit. increasinor and becomincp 
greater. The subject '1^1 pOi^ni is placed absolutely at the 
head, so that the verb T|7*l is appended in the form of an apo- 
dosis. ^T, n"^^5 " draw thy hand in" (back) ; i.e. leave off now. 
— Ver. 20. "And (i.e. in consequence of the increasing tumult 
in the enemy's camp) Said had himself, and all the people icith 
him, called^'' i.e. called together for battle ; and when they came 
to the war, i.e. to the place of conflict, " behold, there loas the 
sword of the one against the other, a very great confusion" in 
consequence partly of terror, and partly of the circumstance 
alluded to in ver. 21. — Ver. 21. "And the Hebrews were with 
the Philistines as before (yesterday and the day before yester- 
day), icho had come along ivith them in the camp round about ; 
they cdso came over to Israel, ichich xoas loitli Said aiid Jonathan." 
2''3D means distributed round about amons the Philistines. 
Those Israelites whom the Philistines had incorporated into 
their army are called Hebrews, according to the name which 
was current among foreigners, whilst those who were with Saul 
are called Israel, according to the sacred name of the nation. 
The difficulty which many expositors have found in the word 
nrnp has been very correctly solved, so far as the sense is con- 
cerned, by the earlier translators, by the interpolation of "they 
returned:'' 13n (Chald.), iirearpdi^r^a-av (LXX.), reversi sunt 
(Vulg.), and similarly the Syriac and Arabic We are not at 


liberty, however, to amend the Hebrew text in this manner, 
as nothini:^ more is omitted than the finite verb Vn before the 
infinitive J^i"''"?? (for this construction, see Gesenius, Gramm. 
§ 132, 3, Anm. 1), and this might easily be left out here, since 
it stands at 'the beo;inning of the verse in the main clause. 
The literal rendering would be, they were to be with Israel, i.e. 
they came over to Israel. The* fact that the Hebrews who 
were serving in the army of the Philistines came over to Saul 
and his host, and turned their weapons against their oppressors, 
naturally heightened the confusion in the camp of the Phili- 
stines, and accelerated their defeat; and this was still further 
increased by the fact that the Israelites who had concealed 
themselves on the mountains of Ephraim also joined the Israel- 
itish army, as soon as they heard of the flight of the Philistines 
(ver. 22). — Ver. 23. " Thus the Lord helped Israel that day, and 
the conflict went out beyond Bethaven." Bethaven was on the 
east of Michmash, and, according to ver. 31, the Philistines 
fled westwards from Michmash to Ajalon. But if we bear in 
mind that the camp of the Philistines was on the eastern side 
of Michmash before Bethaven, according to ch. xiii. 5, and 
that the Israelites forced their way into it from the south, we 
shall see that the battle might easily have spread out beyond 
Bethaven, and that eventually the main body of the enemy 
might have fled as far as Ajalon, and have been pursued to 
that point by the victorious Israelites. 

Vers. 24-31. Saurs precipitate haste. — Ver. 24. The men of 
Israel loere pressed (i.e. fatigued) on that day, sc. through the 
military service and fighting. Then Saul adjured the people, 
saying, " Cursed he the man that eateth bread until the evening, 
and (till) / have avenged myself upon mine enemies^' ^^'', fut. 
apoc. of rips'' for n)?S|;, from n^X^ to swear, Hiphil to adjure or 
require an oath of a person. The people took the oath by 
saying " amen' to what Saul had uttered. This command of 
Saul did not proceed from a proper attitude towards the Lord, 
but was an act of false zeal, in which Saul had more regard to 
himself and his own kingly power than to the cause of the 
kingdom of Jehovah, as we may see at once from the expression 
'131 ''^^i^^, " till / have avenged myself upon mine enemies." It 
was a despotic measure which not only failed to accomplish its 
object (see vers. 30, 31), but brought Saul into the unfortunate 

CHAP. XIV. 31-46. 143 

position of being unable to carry out the oath (see ver. 45). All 
the people kept the command. " They tasted no bread." DJ/ü'xh 
is not to be connected with ''^^i^^l ^^ ^^ apodosis. — Ver. 25. 
" And all the land (i.e. all the people of the land who had 
gathered round Saul : vid. ver. 29) came into the woody country; 
there ivas honey upon the ßeld." "^V] signifies here a woody dis- 
trict, in which forests alternated with tracts of arable land and 
meadows. — Ver. 26. When the people came into the wood and 
saw a stream of honey (of wild or wood bees), " no one put his 
hand to his mouth (^sc. to eat of the honey), because they feared 
the oath." — Ver. 27. But Jonathan, who had not heard his 
father's oath, dipped (in the heat of pursuit, that he might not 
have to stop) the point of his staff in the new honey, and put 
it to his mouth, " ajid his eyes became bright ;" his lost strength, 
which is reflected in the eye, having been brought back by this 
invigorating taste. The Chethibh nJNin is probably to be read 
n3S"irij the eyes became seeing, received their power of vision 
again. The Masoretes have substituted as the Keri i^^l^^y from 
"lix, to become bright, according to ver. 29; and this is probably 
the correct reading, as the letters might easily be transposed. 
■ — Vers. 28 sqq. When one of the people told him thereupon 
of his father's oath, in consequence of which the people were 
exhausted (pV^ ^P\ belongs to the man's words ; and ^V^\ is the 
same as in Judg. iv. 21), Jonathan condemned the proliibition. 
'■^ My father has brought the land (i.e. the people of the land, as 
in ver. 25) into trouble {^"^V, see at Gen. xxxiv. 30) : see how 
bright mine eyes have become because I tasted a little of this 
honey. How much more if the people had eaten to-day of the 
booty of its enemies, icould not the overthrow among the Phili- 
stines truly have then become greatV ^3 H^, lit. to this (there 
comes) also that = not to mention liow much more ; and nny "'S 
is an emphatic introduction of the apodosis, as in Gen. xxxi. 
42, xliii. 10, and other passages, and the apodosis itself is to be 
taken as a question. 

Vers. 31-46. Result of the battle, and consequences of SauVs 
rashness. — Ver. 31. '^ On that day they smote the Philistines 
from Michmash to Ajalon" which has been preserved in the 
viHage of Ydlo (see at Josh. xix. 42), and was about three 
geographical miles to the south-west <\ Michmash; '■^ and the 
people were very faint" because Saul iiad forbidden them to 


eat before the evening (ver. 24). — Ver. 32. They therefore 
^^fell voraciously upon the bootij^ — (the Chetldhh b'y^l is no doubt 
merely an error in writing for toy^^, imperf. Kal of tD"'y with 
Dagesh forte implic. instead of t^yjl^ as we may see from ch. xv. 
19, since the meaning required by the context, viz. to fall upon 
a thing, cannot be established in the case of n^y with ?X. On 
the other hand, there does not appear to be any necessity to 
supply the article before ?y^, and this Keri seems only to have 
been taken from the parallel passage in ch. xv. 19), — " and took 
sheep, and oxen, and calves, and slew them on the ground C^^*"!^, 
lit. to the earth, so that when they were slaughtered the animal 
fell upon the ground, and remained lying in its blood, and was 
cut in pieces), and ate upon the blood" (D"nn 7V^ w'ith which D^n 7ii, 
" li/iiig to the blood," is interchanged in ver. 34), i.e. the flesh 
along with the blood which adhered to it, by doing which they 
sinned against the law in Lev. xix. 26. This sin had been 
occasioned by Saul himself through the prohibition which he 
issued. — Vers. 33, 34. When this was told to Saul, he said, 
" Ye act faithlessly towards Jehovah " by transgressing the laws 
of the covenant ; " roll me now (lit. this day) a large stone. 
Scatter yourselves among the people, and say to them. Let every 
one bring his ox and his sheep to me, and slay here " (upon the 
stone that has been rolled up), viz. so that the blood could run 
off properly upon the ground, and the flesh be separated from 
the blood. This the people also did. — Yer. 35. As a thanks- 
giving for this victory, Saul built an altar to the Lord, ink 
niJip ?nn^ " he began to build it," i.e. he built this altar at the 
beginning, or as the first altar. This altar was probably not 
intended to serve as a place of sacrifice, but simply to be a 
memorial of the presence of God, or the revelation of God 
which Saul had received in the marvellous victory. — Ver. 36. 
After the people had strengthened themselves in the evening 
with food, Saul wanted to pursue the Philistines still farther 
during the night, and to plunder among them until the light 
(i.e. till break of day), and utterly destroy them. The people 
assented to this proposal, but the priest (Ahiah) wished first of 
all to obtain the decision of God upon the matter. " We loill 
draio near to God here" (before the altar which has just been 
built). — Ver. 37. But when Saul inquired of God (through 
the Urim and Thummim of the high priest), "Shall T go down 

CHAP. XIV. 31-46. 145 

after the Philistines f wilt Thou deliver them into the hand of 
Israel ?" God did not answer him. Saul was to perceive from 
this, that the guilt of some sin was resting upon the people, on 
account of which the Lord had turned away His countenance, 
and was withdrawing His help. — Vers. 38, 39. When Saul 
perceived this, he directed all the heads of the people {j^innoth, 
as in Judg. xx. 2) to draw near to learn whereby (wherein) the 
sin had occurred that day, and declared, "As truly as Jehovah 
liveth, icho has brought salvation to Israel, even if it were upon 
Jonathan my son, he shall die" The first "'S in ver. 39 is ex- 
planatory ; the second and third serve to introduce the words, 
like OTL, quod ; and the repetition serves to give emphasis, lit. 
" that even if it were upon my son, that he shall die." " A?id of 
all the people no one ansioered him" from terror at the king's 
word. — Ver. 4.0. In order to find out the guilt, or rather the 
culprit, Saul proceeded to the lot; and for this purpose he made 
all the people stand on one side, whilst he and his son Jonathan 
■went to the other, and then solemnly addressed Jehovah thus : 
" God of Israel, give innocence (of mind, i.e. truth). And the lot 
fell upon Said and Jonathan ("'??'!, as in ch. x. 20, 21) ; and the 
people went out," sc. Avithout the lot falling upon them, i.e. they 
went out free. — Ver. 42. When they proceeded still further to 
cast lots between Saul and his son (^''"'Bi?, sc. P'ii3 ; cf. 1 Chron. 
xxvi. 14, Neh. xi. 11, etc.), Jonathan was taken.^ — Vers. 43, 

^ In the Alex, version, vers. 41 and 42 are lengthened out with long 
paraphrases upon the course pursued in casting the lots : x«.' üt^-s 'Zxov'a, 
Kvpis 6 diog ' laoxtjX ri on ovx, ccTrsKpi'd/]; tu Böi/A«j gov a'/ifiipou ; si tu e/xol «j sw 
'lavxSav ru viu f/,ov i] uhiKtoc ; x.vpii 6 6t6; ItrpctYi'h SoV S^Tiot/j' Kctl ioiv rä2s 
«Vi;, 3oV S^ Tto Xaä! (Tov 'Iff^ss^X, Soj S^ ÖoiÖtyitu, Kcti KT^/ipovTcct '\auä.dot,v x.x\ 
2«oi/X, Kx\ A«ö? l^yi'hSi. Ver. 42 : Kaei ilvi SatovA, 'BuKhin dv» /niaou s/nov 
x,otl »u» fiiaov ^luuxOxuTOV viiv fiov' ÖV oil/ Kxrxx.'KYipaai^TXi Küptog d'Trodxi/irit- 
Kxl il-TTiu XaoV "Trpog Ixov'K, Oi/x. tort to pijfix zovro. Kxl x.xrix,pxrr,ai 
'2xoi/7\. Toii y^xov, KXi ßöcXhiivaiv xvx [/.kaau xiirov x.x\ dux fikocu lojuxdxu rov 
vioZ xi/Tov, axi x.xrxx.'knpovrxi 'luuxSxu. One portion of these additions is 
also found in the text of our present Vulgate, and reads as follows : Et 
dixit Saul ad Dominum Deum Israel: Domine Deus Israel, da indicium! 
quid est quod nan responderis servo tuo hodie? Si in me aut in Jonathaßlio 
VUG est iniquitas, da oslensionem ; aut si lixc iniquitas est in populo tuo, da 
sanctitatem. Et deprehensus est Jonathas et Saul, populus autem exiint. 
The beginning and end of this verse, as well as ver. 42, agree here most 
accurately with the Hebrew text. But the words from quid est quod to 
da sanctitatem are interpolated, so that D^OO nan are translated twice ; 


44. When Saul asked him what he had done, Jonatlian con- 
fessed that he had tasted a little honey (see ver. 27), and 
resigned himself to the punishment suspended over him, say- 
ing, ^^ Behold, I shall die;" and Saul pronounced sentence of 
death upon him, accompanying it with an oath (" God do so" 
etc.: vid. Ruth i. 17). — Yer. 45. But the people interposed, 
" Shall Jonathan die, who has achieved this great salvation 
(victory) in Israel ? God forbid ! As truly as Jehovah liveth, 
not a hair shall fall from his head upon the ground ; for he 
hath wrought (the victory) with God to-day." Thus the people 
delivered Jonathan from death. The objection raised by the 
people was so conclusive, that Saul was obliged to yield. 

What Jonathan had done was not wrong in itself, but 
became so simply on account of the oath with which Saul had 

first in the words da indicium, and then in the interpolation da ostensionem. 
This repetition of the same words, and that in different renderings, when 
taken in connection with the agreement of the Vulgate with the Hebrew 
text at the beginning and end of the verse, shows clearly enough, that the 
interpolated clauses did not originate with Jerome, but are simply inserted 
in his translation from the Itala. The additions of the LXX., in which 
Txls uTTvi is evidently only a distortion of vi dliKtx, are regarded by Ewald 
(^Gesell, iii. p. 48) and Thenius as an original portion of the text which 
has dropped out from the Masoretic text. They therefore infer, that instead 
of DVOn we ought to read D"'Qn (Thummim), and that we have here the 
full formula used in connection with the use of the Urim and Thummim, 
from which it may be seen, that this mode of divine revelation consisted 
simply in a sacred lot, or in the use of two dice, the one of which was fixed 
upon at the outset as meaning no, and the other as meaning yes. So much 
at any rate is indisputable, that the Septuagint translator took D'^Dfl in the 
sense of thummim, and so assumed that Saul had the guilty person dis- 
covered by resorting to the Urim and Thummim. But this assumption is 
also decidedly erroneous, together with all the inferences based upon it. 
For, in the first place, the verbs p'^Sn and l^^t can be proved to be never 
used throughout the whole of the Old Testament to signify the use of the 
Urim and Thummim, and to be nothing more than technical expressions 
used to denote the casting of a simple lot (see the passages cited above in 
the text). Moreover, such passages as ch. x. 22, and ii. 5, 23, show most 
unmistakeably that the divine oracle of the Urim and Thummim did not 
consist merely in a sacred lot with yes and no, but that God gave such 
answers through it as could never have been given through the lots. The 
Septuagint expansions of the text are nothing more, therefore, than a sub- 
jective and really erroneous interpretation on the part of the translators, 
•which arose simply from the mistaken idea that D''Dn was thummim^ and 
which Ls therefore utterly worthless. 

CHAP. XIV. 31-46. 147 

forbidden it. But Jonathan did not hear the oath, and there- 
fore had not even consciously transgressed. Nevertheless a 
curse lay upon Israel, which was to be brought to light as a 
warning for the culprit. Therefore Jehovah had given no 
reply to Saul. But when the lot, which had the force of a 
divine verdict, fell upon Jonathan, sentence of death was not 
thereby pronounced upon him by God ; but it was simply made 
manifest, that through his transgression of his father's oath, 
with which he was not acquainted, guilt had been brought upon 
Israel. The breach of a command issued with a solemn oath, 
even when it took place unconsciously, excited the wrath of 
God, as being a profanation of the divine name. But such a 
sin could only rest as guilt upon the man who had committed, 
or the man who occasioned it. Now where the command in 
question was one of God himself, there could be no question, 
that even in the case of unconscious transgression the sin fell 
upon the transgressor, and it was necessary that it should either 
be expiated by him or forgiven him. But where the command 
of a man had been unconsciously transgressed, the guilt might 
also fall upon the man who issued the command, that is to say, 
if he did it without being authorized or empowered by God. 
In the present instance, Saul had issued the prohibition with- 
out divine authority, and had made it obligatory upon the people 
by a solemn oath. The people had conscientiously obeyed the 
command, but Jonathan had transgressed it without being 
aware of it. For this Saul was about to punish him with death, 
in order to keep his oath. But the people opposed it. They 
not only pronounced Jonathan innocent, because he had broken 
the king's command unconsciously, but they also exclaimed that 
he had gained the victory for Israel " with God." In this 
fact (Jonathan's victory) there was a divine verdict. And 
Saul could not fail to recognise now, that it was not Jonathan, 
but he himself, who had sinned, and through his arbitrary and 
despotic command had brought guilt upon Israel, on account 
of which God had given him no reply. — Ver. 46. With the 
feeling of this guilt, Saul gave up any further pursuit of the 
Philistines: he ^^ went up" (sc. to Gibeah) ^^ from behind the 
Philistines" i.e. desisting from any further pursuit. But the 
Philistines went to their place, i.e. back into their own 


Vers. 47-52. Geneeal Summary of Saul's other Wars, 
AND Account of his Family. — ^Yer. 47. " But Saul had 
taken the sovereignty P As Saul had first of all secured a recog- 
nition of himself as king on the part of all the tribes of Israel^ 
through his victory over the Ammonites at Jabesh (ch. xi. 12 
sqq.), so it was through the victory which he had gained over 
the PhiUstines, and by which these obstinate foes of Israel 
were driven back into their own land, that he first acquired the 
kingship over Israel, i.e. first really secured the regal authority 
over the Israelites. This is the meaning of n^^psn ^y? : and this 

O T : - - T - 

statement is not at variance either with the election of Saul by 
lot (ch. X. 17 sqq.), or with his confirmation at Gilgal (ch. xi. 
14, 15). But as Saul had to fight for the sovereignty, and could 
only secure it by successful warfare, his other wars are placed 
in the foreground in the summary account of his reign which 
follows (vers. 47, 48), whilst the notices concerning his family, 
which stand at the very beginning in the case of the other 
kings, are not mentioned till afterwards (vers. 49-51). Saul 
fought successfully against all the enemies of Israel round 
about ; against Moab, the Ammonites, Edom, the kings of 
Zobah, a district of Syria on this side the Euphrates (see at 
2 Sam. viii. 3), and against the Philistines. The war against 
the Ammonites is described in ch. xi. ; but with the Philistines 
Saul had to wage repeated war all the days of his life (ver. 52). 
The other wars are none of them more fully described, simply 
because they were of no importance to the history of the king- 
dom of God, having neither furnished occasion for any miracu- 
lous displays of divine omnipotence, nor brought about the 
subjection of hostile nations to the power of Israel. " Whither- 
soever he turned, he inßicted 'punishment^ This is the rendering 
which Luther has very aptly given to T^T. ', for T'V^J} signifies 
to declare wrong, hence to condemn, more especially as applied 
to judges : here it denotes sentence or condemnation hy deeds. 
Saul chastised these nations for their attacks upon Israel. — 
Ver. 48. " And he acquired potoer;^ ?\^ nb'y (as in Num. xxiv. 
18) does not merely signify he proved himself brave, or he 
formed an army, but denotes the development and unfolding of 
power in various respects. Here it relates more particularly to 
the development of strength in the war against Amalek, by virtue 
of which Saul smote this arch-enemy of Israel, and put an end 

CHAP. XV 149 

to their depredations. This war is described more fully in ch. 
XV., on account of its consequences in relation to Saul's own sove- 
reignty. — Vers. 49-51. SauVs family. — Ver. 49. Only three of 
his sons are mentioned, namely those who fell with him, accord- 
ing to ch. xxxi. 2, in the war with the Philistines. Jisvi is 
only another name for Abinadab (ch. xxxi. 2 ; 1 Chron. viii. 33, 
ix. 39). In these passages in the Chronicles there is a fourth 
mentioned, Esh-haal, i.e. the one who is called Ish-bosheth in 
2 Sam. ii. 8, etc., and who was set up by Abner as the antago- 
nist of David. The reason why he is not mentioned here it is 
impossible to determine. It may be that the name has fallen 
out simply through some mistake in copying : the daughters 
Michal and Merab are mentioned, with special reference to the 
occurrence described in ch. xviii. 17 sqq. — ^Vers. 50, 51. Ahner 
the general was also Saul's cousin. For " soii of Ahiel" [ben 
Abiel) we must read "sons of AbieV (bneAbiel: see ch. ix. 1). 
— Ver. 52. The statement, " and the war was hard (severe) 
against the Philistines as long as Saul lived,'" merely serves to 
explain the notice which follows, namely, that Saul took or drew 
to himself every strong man and every brave man that he saw. 
If we observe this, which is the true relation between the two 
clauses in this verse, the appearance of abruptness which we 
find in the first notice completely vanishes, and the verse follows 
very suitably upon the allusion to the general. The meaning 
might be expressed in this manner : And as Saul had to carry 
on a severe war against the Philistines his whole life long, he 
drew to himself every powerful man and every brave man that 
he met with. 


As Saul had transgressed the commandment of God which 
was given to him through Samuel, by the sacrifice which he 
offered at Gilgal in the war with the Philistines at the very 
commencement of his reign, and had thereby drawn upon him- 
self the threat that his monarchy should not be continued in 
perpetuity (ch. xiii. 13, 14) ; so his disobedience in the war 
against the Amalekites was followed by his rejection on the 
part of God. The Amalekites were the first heathen nation to 


attack the Israelites after their deliverance out of Egypt, which 
they did in the most treacherous manner on their journey from 
Egypt to Sinai ; and they had been threatened by God with 
extermination in consequence. This Moses enjoined upon 
Joshua, and also committed to writing, for the Israelites to 
observe in all future generations (Ex. xvii. 8-16). As the 
Amalekites afterwards manifested the same hostility to the 
people of God which they had displayed in this first attack, on 
every occasion which appeared favourable to their ravages, the 
Lord instructed Samuel to issue the command to Saul, to wage 
war against Amalek, and to smite man and beast with the ban, 
i.e. to put all to death (vers. 1-3). But when Saul had smitten 
them, he not only left Agag the king alive, but spared the best 
of the cattle that he had taken as booty, and merely executed 
the ban upon such animals as were worthless (vers. 4-9). He 
was rejected by the Lord for this disobedience, so that he was 
to be no longer king over Israel. His rejection was announced 
to him by Samuel (vers. 10-23), and was not retracted in spite 
of his prayer for the forgiveness of his sin (vers. 24-35). In 
fact, Saul had no excuse for this breach of the divine com- 
mand ; it was nothing but open rebellion against the sovereignty 
of God in Israel ; and if Jehovah would continue King of Israel, 
He must punish it by the rejection of the rebel. For Saul no 
longer desired to be the medium of the sovereignty of Jehovah, 
or the executor of the commands of the God-king, but simply 
wanted to reign according to his own arbitrary will. Never- 
theless this rejection was not followed by his outward deposi- 
tion. The Lord merely took away His Spirit, had David 
anointed king by Samuel, and thenceforward so directed the 
steps of Saul and David, that as time advanced the hearts of 
the people were turned away more and more from Saul to 
David ; and on the death of Saul, the attempt of the ambi- 
tious Abner to raise his son Ishbosheth to the throne could not 
possibly have any lasting success. 

Vers. 1-3. The account of the war against the Amalekites 
is a very condensed one, and is restricted to a description of the 
conduct of Saul on that occasion. Without mentioning either 
the time or the immediate occasion of the war, the narrative 
commences with the command of God which Samuel solemnly 
communicated to Saul, to go and exterminate that people. 

CHAP. XV. 4-9. 151 

Samuel commenced with the words, " Jehovah sent me to anoint 
thee to be king over His people, over Israel" in order to show to 
Saul the obligation which rested upon him to receive In's com- 
mission as coming from God, and to proceed at once to fulfil it. 
The allusion to the anointing points back not to ch. xi. 15, but 
to ch. X. 1. — Ver. 2. " Thus saith the Lord of Zehaoth, I have 
looked upon ichat Amaleh did to Israel, that it placed itself in 
his way when he came up out of Egypt'''' (Ex. xvii. 8). Samuel 
merely mentions this first outbreak of hostility on the part of 
Amalek towards the people of Israel, because in this the same 
disposition was already manifested which now made the people 
ripe for the judgment of extermination {vid. Ex. xvii. 14). The 
hostility which they had now displayed, according to ver. 33, 
there was no necessity for the prophet to mention particularly, 
since it was well known to Saul and all Israel. When God 
looks upon a sin, directs His glance towards it, He must punish 
it according to His own holiness. This Wi?Q points at the 
very outset to the punishment about to be proclaimed. — Ver. 3. 
Saul is to smite and ban everything belonging to it without 
reserve, i.e. to put to death both man and beast. The last 
clause '1J1 nriDn"! is only an explanation and exemplification of 
'131 Driö"inni. " From man to woman" etc., i.e. men and women, 
children and sucklings, etc. 

Vers. 4-9. Saul summoned the people to war, and mustered 
them (those who Avere summoned) at Telaim (this was probably 
the same place as the Telem mentioned in Josh. xv. 24, and is 
to be looked for in the eastern portion of the Negeb). " Tico 
hundred thousand foot, and ten thousand of the men of Judah :" 
this implies that the two hundred thousand were from the other 
tribes. These numbers are not too large ; for a powerful 
Bedouin nation, such as the Amalekites were, could not possibly 
be successfully attacked with a small army, but only by raising 
the whole of the military force of Israel. — Ver. 5. He then 
advanced as far as the city of the Amalekites, the situation of 
which is altogether unknown, and placed an ambush in the. 
valley. 3"i*1 does not come from 3''"!, to fight, i.e. to quarrel, not 
to give battle, but was understood even by the early translators 
as a contracted form of ^IX'"), the Iliplnl of nnx. And modern 
commentators have generally understood it in the same way ; 
but Olshausen {Hehr. Gramm, p. 572) questions the correctness 


of the reading, and Thenius proposes to alter ^n33 3T1, into 
riDH^p ^^J!!!. ^05 refers to a valley in the neighbourhood of tho 
city of the Amalekites. — Ver. 6. Saul directed the Kenites to 
come out from among the Amalekites, that they might not 
perish with them C^^pX^ imp. Kal of ^DS), as they had showai 
affection to the Israelites on their journey out of Egypt (com- 
pare Num. X. 29 with Judg. i. 16). He then smote the Ama- 
lekites from Havilah in the direction towards Shur, which lay 
before (to the east of) Egypt (cf. Gen. xxv. 18). Shur is the 
desert of Jifar, i.e. that portion of the desert of Arabia which 
borders upon Egypt (see at Gen. xvi. 7). Havilah, the country 
of the Chaidotißans, on the border of Arabia Petraea towards 
Yemen (see at Gen. x. 29). — Vers. 8, 9. Their king, Agag, he 
took alive (on the name, see at Num. xxiv. 7), but all the people 
he banned with the edge of the sword, i.e. he had them put to 
death without quarter. "All" i.e. all that fell into the hands 
of the Israelites. For it follows from the very nature of the 
case that many escaped, and consequently there is nothing 
striking in the fact that Amalekites are mentioned again at a 
later period (ch. xxvii. 8, xxx. 1 ; 2 Sam. viii. 12). The last 
remnant was destroyed by the Simeonites upon the mountains 
of Seir in the reign of Hezekiah (1 Chron. iv. 43). Only, king 
Agag did Saul and the people (of Israel) spare, also " the best 
of the sheep and oxen, and the animals of the second birth, and the 
lambs and everything good; these they would not ban." ^''^^'Pj 
according to D. Kimchi and R. Tanch., are )Ü3P D''''3ti^, i.e. 
animalia secundo partu edita, which were considered superior to 
the others {vid. Roediger in Ges. Thes. p. 1451) ; and D^">3, 
pasture lambs, i.e. fat lambs. There is no necessity, therefore, 
for the conjecture of Ewald and Thenius, D''IiOK''o, fattened, and 
D''0"]3, vineyards ; nor for the far-fetched explanation given by 
Bochart, viz. camels with two humps and camel-saddles, to say 
nothing of the fact that camel-saddles and vineyards are alto- 
gether out of place here. In ^^ all that loas good" the things 
already mentioned singly are all included. naspSHj the property; 
here it is applied to cattle, as in Gen. xxxiii. 14. nTa03 = nD3, 
despised, undervalued. The form of the word is not con- 
tracted from a noun nnp and the participle nD3 (^Ges. Lehrgeb. 
p. 463), but seems to be a participle Niph. formed from a noun 
<^^^^. But as such a form is contrary to all analogy, Ewald 

CHAP. XV. 10-23. 153 

and Olshausen regard the reading as corrupt. DDJ (from DDO): 
flowing away ; used with reference to diseased cattle, or such as 
have perished. The reason for sparing the best cattle is very 
apparent, namely selfishness. But it is not so easy to determine 
why Agag should have been spared by Saul. It is by no means 
probable that he wished thereby to do honour to the royal 
dignity. O. v. Gerlach's supposition, that vanity or the desire 
to make a display with a royal slave was the actual reason, is a 
much more probable one. 

Vers. 10-23. The word of the Lord came to Samuel : " It 
repenteth me that I have made Saul king, for he hath turned 
away from me, and not set up (carried out) my word.'" (On the 
repentance of God, see the remarks on Gen. vi. 6.) That this 
does not express any changeableness in the divine nature, but 
simply the sorrow of the divine love at the rebellion of sinners, 
is evident enough from ver. 29. ""^ '""?.['.'?!? ^''^j to turn round 
from following God, in order to go his own ways. This was 
Saul's real sin. He would no longer be the follower and servant 
of the Lord, but would be absolute ruler in Israel. Pride 
arising from the consciousness of his own strength, led him 
astray to break the command of God. What more God said 
to Samuel is not communicated here, because it could easily be 
gathered and supplied from what Samuel himself proceeded to 
do (see more particularly vers. 16 sqq.). In order to avoid 
repetitions, only the principal feature in the divine revelation is 
mentioned here, and the details are given fully afterwards in 
the account of the fulfilment of the instructions. Samuel was 
deeply agitated by this word of the Lord. " It burned (in) 
him,'' sc. wrath (^1^*, compare Gen. xxxi. 36 with xxx. 2), not on 
account of the repentance to which God had given utterance at 
having raised up Saul as king, nor merely at Saul's disobedience, 
but at the frustration of the purpose of God in calling him 
to be king in consequence of his disobedience, from which 
he might justly dread the w^orst results in relation to the 
glory of Jehovah and his own prophetic labours.^ The opinion 

^ " Many grave thoughts seem to have presented themselves at once to 
Samuel and disturbed his mind, when he reflected upon the dishonour 
■which might be heaped upon the name of God, and the occasion which the 
rejection and deposition of Saul would furnish to wicked men for blasphem- 
iug God. For Saul had been anointed by the ministry of Samuel, and ha 


that ^ "in^ is also nsed to signify deep distress cannot be estab- 
lished from 2 Sara. iv. 8. " And he cried to Jehovah the whole 
night" sc. praying for Saul to be forgiven. But it was in vain. 
This is evident from what follows, where Samuel maintains 
the cause of his God with strenijth and decision, after havinj:r 
wrestled with God in prayer. — Ver. 12. The next morning, 
after receiving the revelation from God (ver. 11), Samuel rose 
up early, to go and meet Saul as he was returning from the 
war. On tlie way it was told him, " Saul has come to Carmel" — 
i.e. Kurmul, upon the mountains of Judah to the south-east of 
Hebron (see at Josh. xv. 55) — " setting himself a memoriaV^ (1^, 
a hand, then a memorial or monument, inasmuch as the hand 
calls attention to anything : see 2 Sam. xviii. 18), " and has 
turned and proceeded farther, and gone down to Gilgal" (in the 
valley of the Jordan, as in ch. xiii. 4). — Ver. 13. When Samuel 
met him there, Saul attempted to hide his consciousness of guilt 
by a feigned friendly welcome. '^Blessed be thou of the Lord" 
(vid. Ruth ii. 20, Gen. xiv. 19, etc=) was his greeting to the 
prophet ; " / have set up the word of Jehovah." — Vers. 14, 15. 
But the prophet stripped his hypocrisy at once with the question, 
" What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears, and a lowing of 
oxen that I hear V^ Saul replied (ver. 15), " They have brought 
them from the Amalelcites, because the people spared the best sheep 
and oxen, to sacrifice them to the Lord thy God ; and the rest loe 
have banned." So that it was not Saul, but the people, who had 
transgressed the command of the Lord, and that with the most 
laudable intention, viz. to offer the best of the cattle that had 
been taken, as a thank-offering to the Lord. The falsehood and 
hypocrisy of these words lay upon the very surface ; for even 
if the cattle spared were really intended as sacrifices to the 
Lord, not only the people, but Saul also, would have had their 
own interests in view (^vid. ver. 9), since the flesh of thank- 
offerings was appropriated to sacrificial meals. — Vers. 16 sqq. 

had been chosen by God himself from all the people, and called by Him t«, 
the throne. If, therefore, he was nevertheless deposed, it seemed likely 
that so much would be detracted from the authority of Samuel and the 
confidence of the people in his teaching, and, moreover, that the worship of 
God would be overturned, and the greatest disturbance ensue ; in fact, that 
universal confusion would burst upon the nation. These were probably the 
grounds unon which Samuel's great indignation rested." — Calvin. 


CHAP. XV. 10-23. 155 

Samuel therefore bade him be silent. ^"^J], " leave q^'," excusing 
thyself any further. " I ivill tell thee what Jelwvah hath said to 
me this night^ (The Chethibh 1"iOX'1 is evidently a copyist's 
error for "ipx'l.) " Is it not true, ivhen thou toast little in thine 
eyes (a reference to Saul's own words, ch. ix. 21), thou didst 
become head of the tribes of Israel ? and Jehovah anointed thee 
king over Israel, and Jehovah sent thee on the iüo.y, and said, 
Go and ban the sinners, the Amalehites, and maJce ivar against 
them, until thou exterminatest them. And wherefore hast thou 
not hearkened to the voice of Jehovah, and hast fallen upon the 
booty," etc. ? C^V^, see at ch. xiv. 32.) 

Even after this Saul wanted to justify himself, and to 
throw the blame of sparing the cattle upon the people. — Yer. 
20. " Yea, I have hearkened to the voice of Jehovah C^^^. serving, 
like "'S, to introduce the reply : here it is used in the sense of 
asseveration, utiqiie, yea), and have brought Agag the king of the 
Amalekites, and banned Amalek." Bringing Agag he mentioned 
probably as a practical proof that he had carried out the war 
of extermination against the Amalekites. — Ver. 21. Even the 
sparing of the cattle he endeavoured to defend as the fulfilment 
of a religious duty. The people had taken sheep and oxen from 
the booty, " as firstlings of the ban," to sacrifice to Jehovah. 
Sacrificing the best of the booty taken in war as an offering of 
first-fruits to the Lord, -was not indeed prescribed in the law, 
but was a praiseworthy sign of piety, by which all honour was 
rendered to the Lord as the giver of the victory (see Num. 
xxxi. 48 sqq.). This, Saul meant to say, was what the people 
had done on the present occasion ; only he overlooked the fact, 
that what was banned to the Lord could not be offered to Him 
as a burnt-offering, because, being most holy, it belonged to 
Him already (Lev. xxvii. 29), and according to Deut. xiii. 16, 
was to be put to death, as Samuel had expressly said to Saul 
(ver. 3). — Vers. 22, 23. Without entering, therefore, into any 
discussion of the meaning of the ban, as Saul only wanted to 
cover over his own wrong-doings by giving this turn to the 
affair, Sanmel put a stop to any further excuses, by saying, 
'^ Hath Jehovah delight in burnt-offerings and slain-offerings as 
in hearkening to the voice of Jehovah ? (i.e. in obedience to His 
word.) Behold, hearing (obeying) is better than slain-offeringa, 
attending better than fat of rams.'" By saying this, Samuel did 


not reject sacrifices as worthless ; he did not say that God took 
no pleasure in burnt-offerings and slain-offerings, but simply 
compared sacrifice with obedience to the command of God, and 
pronounced the latter of greater worth than the former. " It 
was as much as to say that the sum and substance of divine 
worship consisted in obedience, with which it should always 
begin, and that sacrifices were, so to speak, simple appendices, 
the force and worth of which were not so great as of obedience 
to the precepts of God" (Calvin). But it necessarily follows 
that sacrifices without obedience to the commandments of God 
are utterly worthless ; in fact, are displeasing to God, as Ps. 1. 
8 sqq., Isa. i. 11 sqq., Ixvi. 3, Jer. vi. 20, and all the prophets, 
distinctly affirm. There was no necessity, however, to carry 
out this truth any further. To tear off the cloak of hypocrisy, 
with which Saul hoped to cover his disobedience, it was quite 
enouo-h to afiirm that God's first demand was obedience, and 
that observing His word was better than sacrifice ; because, as 
the Berleh. Bible puts it, " in sacrifices a man offers only the 
strange flesh of irrational animals, whereas in obedience he 
offers his own will, which is rational or spiritual worship " 
(E,om. xii. 8). This spiritual worship was shadowed forth in 
the sacrificial worship of the Old Testament. In the sacrificial 
animal the Israelite was to give up and sanctify his own person 
and life to the Lord. (For an examination of the meaning of 
the diffei-ent sacrifices, see Pent. vol. ii. pp. 274 sqq., and Keil's 
Bibl. Archäol. i. § 41 sqq.) But if this were the design of 
the sacrifices, it was clear enough that God did not desire the 
animal sacrifice in itself, but first and chiefly obedience to His 
own word. In ver. 22, 2itD is not to be connected as an ad- 
jective with n3T, " more than good sacrifice," as the Sept. and 
Thenius render it ; it is rather to be taken as a predicate, 
" better than slain-offerings" and nn;n3 is placed first simply 
for the sake of emphasis. Any contrast between good and bad 
sacrifices, such as the former construction would introduce into 
the words, is not only foreign to the context, but also opposed 
to the parallelism. For ^Y^ ^?n does not mean fat rams, but 
the fat of rams ; the fat portions taken from the ram, which 
were placed upon the altar in the case of the slain-offerings, and 
for which npn is the technical expression (compare Lev. iii. 9, 
16, with vers. 4, 11, etc.). " For" continued Samuel (ver. 23), 

CHAP. XV. 24-35, 157 

" rebellion is the sin of soothsaying, and opposition is heathenism 
and idolatry." "'10 and "iVSn are the subjects, and synonymous 
in their meaning. DDj? riNisrij the sin of soothsaying, i.e. of 
divination in connection with the worship of idolatrous and 
demoniacal powers. In the second clause idols are mentioned 
instead of idolatry, and compared to resistance, but without 
any particle of comparison. Opposition is keeping idols and 
teraphim, i.e. it is like worshipping idols and teraphim. \)j^, 
nothingness, then an idol or image {yid. Isa. Ixvi. 3 ; Hos. iv. 
15, X. 5, 8). On the teraphim as domestic and oracular deities, 
see at Gen. xxxi. 19. Opposition to God is compared by 
Samuel to soothsaying and oracles, because idolatry was mani- 
fested in both of them. All conscious disobedience is actually 
idolatry, because it makes self-will, the human I, into a god. 
So that all manifest opposition to the word and commandment 
of God is, like idolatry, a rejection of the true God. " Because 
thou hast rejected the word of Jehovah, He hath rejected thee, that 
thou mayst he no longer king." "qPop = '?]!'p nvno (ver. 26), away 
from being king. 

Vers. 24-35. This sentence made so powerful an impression 
upon Saul, that he confessed, " / have sinned : for I have trans- 
gressed the command of the Lord and thy loords, because I feared 
the people, and hearkened to their voice." But these last words, 
with which he endeavoured to make his sin appear as small as 
possible, show that the consciousness of his guilt did not go 
very deep. Even if the people had really desired that the best 
of the cattle should be spared, he ought not as king to have 
given his consent to their wish, since God had commanded that 
they should all be banned (i.e. destroyed) ; and even though he 
had yielded from weakness, this weakness could not lessen his 
guilt before God. This repentance, therefore, was rather the 
effect of alarm at the rejection which had been announced to 
him, than the fruit of any genuine consciousness of sin. " It 
was not true and serious repentance, or the result of genuine 
sorrow of heart because he had offended God, but was merely 
repentance of the lips arising from fear of losing the kingdom, 
and of incurring public disgrace" (C. v. Lapide). This is 
apparent even from ver. 25, but still more from ver. 30. In 
ver. 25 he not only entreats Samuel for the forgiveness of his 
sin, but says, " Return with me, tJiat I may pray to the Lord" 


The y\l^ presupposes that Samuel was about to go away after 
■executing his commission. Saul entreated him to remain that 
he might pray, i.e. not only in order to obtain for him the for- 
giveness of his sin through his intercession, but, according to 
ver. 30, to show him honour before the elders of the people and 
before. Israel, that his rejection might not be known. — Vers. 
2Q, 27. This request Sanmel refused, repeating at the same 
time the sentence of rejection, and turned to depart. " 7'hen 
Saul laid Jiold of the lappet of his mantle (i.e. his upper gar- 
ment), and it tore'^ {lit. was torn off). That the Niphal J'']ij''l is 
correct, and is not to be altered into i^nx y}ip.'1, " Saul tore off 
the lappet," according to the rendering of the LXX,, as Thenius 
supposes, is evident from the explanation which Samuel gave 
of the occurrence (ver. 28) : " Jehovah hath torn the sovereignty 
of Israel from thee to-day, and given it to thy neighbour, lolio is 
better than thou." As Saul was about to hold back the prophet 
by force, that he might obtain from him a revocation of the 
divine sentence, the tearing of the mantle, which took place 
accidentally, and evidently without any such intention on the 
part of Saul, was to serve as a sign of the rending away of the 
sovereignty from him. Samuel did not yet know to whom 
Jehovah would give it; he therefore used the expression "^P^/, 
as y2 is applied to any one with whom a J)erson associates. 
To confirm his own words, he adds in ver. 29 : " And also the 
Trust of Israel doth not lie and doth not 7'epent, for He is not a 
man to repent." n^? signifies constancy, endurance, then confi- 
dence, trust, because a man can trust in what is constant. This 
meaning is to be retained hei'e, where the word is used as a 
name for God, and not the meaning gloria, which is taken in 
1 Chron. xxix. 11 from the Aramaean usage of speech, and 
would be altogether unsuitable here, where the context suggests 
the idea of unchangeableness. For a man's repentance or 
regret arises from his changeableness, from the fluctuations in 
his desires and actions. This is never the case with God; 
consequently He is ^^y-^\ ^V?., the unchangeable One, in whom, 
Israel can trust, since He does not lie or deceive, or repent of His 
purposes. These words are spoken OeoTrpeTrco'i (theomorphi- 
cally), whereas in ver. 11 and other passages, which speak of 
God as repenting, the words are to be understood ävöpcoTro- 
iraOoi'i (anthropomorphically ; cf. Num. xxiii. 19). — Vers. 30, 

CHAP. XV. 24-35. 159 

31. After tills declaration as to the irrevocable character of 
the determination of God to reject Saul, Samuel yielded to the 
renewed entreaty of Saul, that he would honour him by his 
presence before the elders and the people, and remained whilst 
Saul worshipped, not merely " for the purpose of preserving 
the outward order nntil a new king should take his place" (O. 
V. Gerlach), but also to carry out the ban upon Agag, whom 
Saul had spared. — Ver. 32. After Saul had prayed, Samuel 
directed him to bring Agag the king of the Amalekites. Agag 
came nänyo, i.e. in a contented and joyous state of mind, and 
said (in his heart), " Surely the hitterness of death is vanished" 
not from any special pleasure at the thought of death, or from 
a heroic contempt of death, but because he thought that his 
life was to be granted him, as he had not been put to death at 
once, and was now about to be presented to the prophet (Cleri- 
cus). — Ver. 33. But Samuel pronounced the sentence of death 
upon him : "^.s thy sivord hath made loomen childless, so he thy 
vwther childless before women ! " D"'Ci'30 is to be understood as 
a comparative : more childless than (other) women, i.e. the most 
childless of women, namel}^, because her son was the king. 
From these words of Samuel, it is very evident that Agag had 
carried on his wars with great cruelty, and had therefore for- 
feited his life according to the lex talionis. Samuel then hewed 
him in pieces " before the Lord at Gilgal" i.e. before the altar 
of Jehovah there ; for the slaying of Agag being the execution 
of the ban, was an act performed for the glory of God. — Vers. 
34, 35. After the prophet had thus maintained the rights of 
Jehovah in the presence of Saul, and carried out the ban upon 
Agag, he returned to his own home at Eamah ; and Saul went 
to his house at Gibeah. From that time forward Samuel broke 
off all intercourse with the king whom Jehovah had rejected. 
" For Samuel loas grieved for Saul, and it repented the Lord 
that he had made Said king^^ i.e. because Samuel had loved 
Saul on accomit of his previous election ; and yet, as Jehovah 
had rejected him unconditionally, he felt that he was precluded 
from doing anything to effect a change of heart in Saul, and 
his reinstatement as king. 



Chap, xvi.-xxxi. 

Although the rejection of Saul on the part of God, which 
was announced to him hy Samuel, was not followed hy imme- 
diate deposition, but Saul remained king until his death, the 
consequences of his rejection were very speedily brought to 
light. Whilst Samuel, by the command of God, was secretly 
anointing David, the youngest son of Jesse, at Bethlehem, as 
king (ch. xvi. 1-13), the Spirit of Jehovah departed from Saul, 
and an evil spirit began to terrify him, so that he fell into 
melancholy ; and his servants fetched David to the court, as a 
man who could play on stringed instruments, that he might 
charm away the king's melancholy by his playing (ch. xvi. 
14-23). Another war with the Phihstines soon furnished 
David with the opportunity for displaying his heroic courage, 
by the defeat of the giant Goliath, before whom the whole 
army of the Israelites trembled ; and to attract the eyes of the 
whole nation to himself, as the deliverer of Israel from its foes 
(ch. xvii. 1-54), in consequence of which Saul placed him 
above the men of war, whilst Saul's brave son Jonathan formed 
a bond of friendship with him (ch. xvii. 55-xviii. 5). But this 
victory, in commemorating which the women sang, " Saul hath 
slain a thousand, David ten thousand" (ch. xviii. 7), excited the 
jealousy of the melancholy king, so that the next day, in an 
attack of madness, he threw his spear at David, who was 
playing before him, and after that not only removed him from 
his presence, but by elevating him to the rank of chief captain, 
and by the promise to give him his daughter in marriage for 
the performance of brave deeds, endeavoured to entangle him 
in such conflicts with the Philistines as should cost him his life. 
And Avhen this failed, and David prospered in all his under- 
takings, he began to be afraid of him, and cherished a lifelong 
hatred towards him (ch. xviii. 6-30). Jonathan did indeed try 
to intercede and allay his father's suspicions, and effect a recon- 
ciliation between Saul and David ; but the evil spirit soon 
drove the jealous king to a fresh attack upon David's life, so 
that he was obliged to flee not only from the presence of Saul, 


but from his own house also, and went to Ramah, to the prophet 
Samuel, whither, however, Saul soon followed him, though he 
was so overpowered by the Spirit of the prophets, that he could 
not do anything to David (ch. xix.). Another attempt on the 
part of Jonathan to change his father's mind entirely failed, 
and so excited the wrath of Saul, that he actually threw the 
spear at his own son ; so that no other course now remained 
for David, than to separate himself from his noble friend 
Jonathan, and seek safety in flight (ch. xx.). He therefore fled 
with his attendant first of all to Nob, where Ahimelech the 
high priest gave him some of the holy loaves and the sword 
of Goliath, on his representing to him that he was travelling 
hastily in the affairs of the king. He then proceeded to Achish, 
the king of the Philistines, at Gath ; but having been recog- 
nised as the conqueror of Goliath, he was obliged to feign 
madness in order to save his life ; and being driven away by 
Achish as a madman, he went to the cave of Adullam, and 
thence into the land of Moab. But he was summoned by the 
prophet to return to his own land, and went into the wood 
Hareth, in the land of Judah ; whilst Saul, who had been 
informed by the Edomite Doeg of the occurrence at Nob, 
ordered all the priests who were there to be put to death, and 
the town itself to be ruthlessly destroyed, with all the men and 
beasts that it contained. Only one of Ahimelech's sons escaped 
the massacre, viz. Abiathar ; and he took refuge with David 
(ch. xxi. xxii.). Saul now commenced a regular pursuit of 
David, who had gradually collected around him a company of 
600 men. On receiving intelligence that David had smitten 
a marauding company of Philistines at Keilah, Saul followed 
him, with the hope of catching him in this fortified town ; and 
when this plan failed, on account of the flight of David into 
the wilderness of Ziph, because the high priest had informed 
him of the intention of the inhabitants to deliver him up, 
Saul pursued him thither, and had actually surrounded David 
with his warriors, when a messenger arrived with the intelli- 
gence of an invasion of the land by the Philistines, and he 
was suddenly called away to make war upon these foes (ch. 
xxiii.). But he had no sooner returned from the attack upon 
the Philistines, than he pursued David still farther into the 
wilderness of Engedi, where he entered into a large cave, 





behind which David and his men were concealed, so that he 
actually fell Into David's hands, who might have put him to 
death. But from reverence for the anointed of the Lord, 
instead of doing him any harm, David merely cut off a corner 
of his coat, to show his pursuer, when he had left the cave, in 
what- manner he had acted towards him, and to convince him 
of the injustice of his hostility. Saul was indeed moved to 
tears ; but he was not disposed for all that to give up any 
further pursuit (ch. xxiv.). David was still obliged to wander 
about from place to place In the wilderness of Judah ; and at 
length he was actually in want of the necessaries of life, so that 
on one occasion, when the rich Nabal had churlishly turned 
away the messengers who had been sent to him to ask for a 
present, he formed the resolution to take bloody revenge upon 
this hard-hearted fool, and was only restrained from carrying 
the resolution out by the timely and friendly intervention of the 
wise Abigail (ch. xxv.). Soon after this Saul came a second 
time into such a situation, that David could have killed him ; 
but during the night, whilst Saul and all his people were 
sleeping, he slipped with Ablshai into the camp of his enemy, 
and carried off as booty the spear that was at the king's head, 
that he might show him a second time how very far he was 
'V from seeking to take his life (ch. xxvl.). But all this only 
made David's situation an Increasingly desperate one ; so that 
eventually, In order to save his life, he resolved to fly into the 
country of the Philistines, and take refuge with Achish, the 
king of Gath, by whom he was now received in the most 
friendly manner, as a fugitive who had been proscribed by the 
king of Israel. At his request Achish assigned him the town 
of Ziklag as a dwelling-place for himself and his men, whence 
he made sundry excursions against different Bedouin tribes of 
the desert. In consequence of this, however, he was brought into 
\/a state of dependence upon this Philistian prince (ch. xxvii.) ; 
!uv' H '^'^nd shortly afterwards, when the Philistines made an attack 
upon the Israelites, he would have been perfectly unable to 
escape the necessity of fighting In their ranks against his own 
people and fatherland. If the other princes of the Philistines 
had not felt some mistrust of " these Hebrews," and compelled 
Achish to send David and his fighting men back to Ziklag (ch. 
xxix.). But this was also to put an end to his prolonged flight. 


Saul's fear of the power of the Phihstines, and the fact that he 
could not obtain any revelation from God, induced him to have 
recourse to a necromantist woman, and he was obliged to hear 
from tlie mouth of Samuel, whom she had invoked, not only 
tlie confirmation of his own rejection on the part of God, but 
also the announcement of his death (ch. xxviii.). In the battle 
which followed on the mountains of Gilboa, after his three sons 
had been put to death by his side, he fell upon his own sword, 
that he might not fall alive into the hands of the archers of the 
en em}', who were hotly pursuing him (ch. xxxi.), whilst David 
in the meantime chastised the Amalekites for their attack upon 
Ziklag (ch. xxx.). 

It is not stated anywhere how long the pursuit of David by 
Saul continued ; the only notice given is that David dwelt a 
year and four months in the land of the Philistines (ch. xxvii. 
7). If we compare with this the statement in 2 Sam. v. 4, 
that David was thirty years old when he became king (over 
Judah), the supposition that he was about twenty years old 
when Samuel anointed him, and therefore that the interval 
between Saul's rejection and his death was about ten years, 
will not be very far from the truth. The events which oc- 
curred during this interval are described in the most elaborate 
way, on the one hand because they show how Saul sank deeper 
and deeper, after the Spirit of God had left him on account 
of his rebellion against Jehovah, and not only was unable to 
procure any longer for the people that deliverance which they 
had expected from the king, but so weakened the power of the 
throne through the conflict which he carried on against David, 
whom the Lord had chosen ruler of the nation in his stead, 
that when he died the Philistines were able to inflict a total 
defeat upon the Israelites, and occupy a large portion of the 
land of Israel ; and, on the other hand, because they teach how, 
after the Lord had anointed David ruler over His people, and 
had opened the way to the throne through the victory which 
he gained over Goliath, He humbled him by trouble and want, 
and trained him up as king after His own heart. On a closer 
examination of these occurrences, which we have only briefly 
hinted at, giving their main features merely, we see clearly 
how, from the very day when Samuel announced to Saul his 
rejection by God, he hardened himself more and more against 


the leadings of divine grace, and continued steadily ripening 
for the judgment of death. Immediately after this announce- 
ment an evil spirit took possession of his soul, so that he fell 
into trouble and melancholy ; and when jealousy towards David 
was stirred up in his heart, he was seized with fits of raving 
madness, in which he tried to pierce David with a spear, and 
thus destroy the man whom he had come to love on account of 
his musical talent, which had exerted so beneficial an influence 
upon his mind (ch. xvi. 23, xviii. 10, 11, xix. 9, 10). These 
attacks of madness gradually gave place to hatred, which de- 
veloped itself with full consciousness, and to a most deliberately 
planned hostility, which he concealed at first not only from 
David but also from all his own attendants, with the hope that 
he should be able to put an end to David's life through his 
stratagems, but which he afterwards proclaimed most openly as 
soon as these plans had failed. When his hostility was first 
openly declared, his eagerness to seize upon his enemy carried 
him to such a length that he got into the company of prophets 
at Ramali, and v.-as so completely overpowered by the Spirit of 
God dwelling there, that he lay before Samuel for a whole day 
in a state of prophetic ecstasy (ch. xix. 22 sqq.). But this 
irresistible power of the Spirit of God over him produced no 
change of heart. For immediately afterwards, when Jonathan 
began to intercede for David, Saul threw the spear at his own 
son (ch. XX. 33), and this time not in an attack of madness or 
insanity, but in full consciousness ; for we do not read in this 
instance, as in ch. xviii. xix., that the evil spirit came upon 
him. He now proceeded to a consistent carrying out of his 
purpose of murder. He accused his courtiers of having con- 
spired against him like Jonathan, and formed an alliance with 
David (ch. xxii. 6 sqq.), and caused the priests at Nob to be 
murdered in cold blood, and the whole town smitten with the 
edge of the sword, because Ahimelech had supplied David 
with bread ; and this he did without paying any attention to 
the conclusive evidence of his innocence (ch. xxii. 11 sqq.). 
He then went with 3000 men in pursuit of David ; and even 
after he had fallen twice into David's hands, and on both occa- 
sions had been magnanimously spared by him, he did not desist 
from plotting for his life until he had driven him out of the 
land ; so that we may clearly see how each fresh proof of tba 


righteousness of David's cause only increased his hatred, until 
at length, in the war against the Philistines, he rashly resorted 
to the godless arts of a necromancer which he himself had 
formerly prohibited, and eventually put an end to his own life 
by falling upon his sword. 

Just as clearly may we discern in the guidance of David, 
from his anointing by Samuel to the death of Saul, how the 
Lord, as King of His people, trained him in the school of 
affliction to be His servant, and led him miraculously on to the 
goal of his divine calling. Having been lifted up as a young 
man by his anointing, and by the favour which he had acquired 
with Saul through his playing upon the harp, and still more by 
his victory over Goliath, far above the limited circumstances of 
his previous life, he might very easily have been puffed up in 
the consciousness of the spiritual gifts and powers conferred 
upon him, if God had not humbled his heart by want and 
tribulation. The first outbursts of jealousy on the part of 
Saul, and his first attempts to get rid of the favourite of the 
people, only furnished him with the opportunity to distinguish 
himself still more by brave deeds, and to make his name still 
dearer to the people (ch. xviii. 30). When, therefore, Saul's 
hostility was openly displayed, and neither Jonathan's friend- 
ship nor Samuel's prophetic authority could protect him any 
longer, he fled to tlie high priest Ahimelech, and from him to 
king Achish at Gath, and endeavoured to help himself through 
by resorting to falsehood. He did save himself in this way no 
doubt, but he brought destruction upon the priests at Nob. 
And he was very soon to learn how all that he did for his 
people was rewarded with ingratitude. The inhabitants of 
Keilah, whom he had rescued from their plunderers, wanted to 
deliver him up to Saul (ch. xxiii. 5, 12) ; and even the men of 
his own tribe, the Ziphites, betrayed him twice, so that he was 
no longer sure of his life even in his own land. But the more 
this necessarily shook his confidence in his own strength and 
wisdom, the more clearly did the Lord manifest himself as his 
faithful Shepherd. After Ahimelech had been put to death, 
his son Abiathar fled to David with the light and right of the 
high priest, so that he was now in a position to inquire the 
will and counsel of God in any difficulty into which he might 
be brought (ch. xxiii. 6). On two occasions God brought his 


mortal foe Saul into his hand, and David's conduct in botli 
these cases shows how the deliverance of God which he had 
hitherto experienced had strengthened his confidence in the 
Lord, and in the fulfilment of His promises (compare ch. xxiv. 
with ch. xxvi.). And his gracious preservation from carrying 
out his purposes of vengeance against Nabal (ch. xxv.) could 
not fail to strengthen him still more. Nevertheless, when his 
troubles threatened to continue without intermission, his courage 
began to sink and his faith to waver, so that he took refuge in 
the land of the Philistines, M^here, however, his wisdom and 
cunning brought him into a situation of such difficulty that 
nothing but the grace and fidelity of his God could possibly 
extricate him, and out of which he was delivered without any 
act of his own. 

In this manner was the divine sentence of rejection fulfilled 
upon Saul, and the prospect which the anointing of David had 
set before him, of ascending the throne of Israel, carried out to 
completion. The account before us of the events which led to 
this result of the various complications, bears in all respects so 
thoroughly the stamp of internal truth and trustworthiness, 
that even modern critics are unanimous in acknowledging the 
genuine historical character of the bibUcal narrative upon the 
whole. At the same time, there are some things, such as the 
supposed irreconcilable discrepancy between ch. xvi. 14-23 and 
ch. xvii. 55-58, and certain repetitions, such as Saul's throwing 
the spear at David (ch. xviii. 10 and xix. 9, 10), the treachery 
of the Ziphites (ch. xxiii. 19 sqq. and xxvi. 1 sqq.), David's 
sparing Saul (ch. xxiv. 4 sqq. and xxvi. 5 sqq.), which they 
cannot explain in any other Avay than by the favourite hypo- 
thesis that we have here divergent accounts, or legendary 
traditions derived from two different sources that are here 
woven together ; whereas, as we shall see when we come to the 
exposition of the chapters in question, not only do the dis- 
crepancies vanish on a more thorough and minute examination 
of the matter, but the repetitions are very clearly founded on 

CHAP. XVI. 1-13. 167 


After the rejection of Saul, the Lord commanded Samuel 
the pi'ophet to go to Bethlehem and anoint one of Jesse's sons 
as king ; and when he went to carry out this commission, He 
pointed out David, the youngest of eight sons, as the chosen 
one, whereupon the prophet anointed him (vers. 1-13). Through 
the overruling providence of God, it came to pass after this, 
that David was brought to the court of Saul, to play upon the 
harp, and so cheer up the king, who was troubled with an evil 
spirit (vers. 14-23). 

Vers. 1-13. Anointing of David. — Ver. 1. The words in 
which God summoned Samuel to proceed to the anointing of 
another king, " How long loilt thou mourn for Saul, icliom I hate 
rejected^ that he may not he king over Israel?" show that the 
prophet had not yet been able to reconcile himself to the hidden 
ways of the Lord ; that he was still afraid that the people and 
kingdom of God would suffer from the rejection of Saul ; and 
that he continued to mourn for Saul, not merely from his own 
personal attachment to the fallen king, but also, or perhaps still 
more, from anxiety for the welfare of Israel. He was now to 
put an end to this mourning, and to fill his horn with oil and 
go to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for the Lord had chosen a king 
from among his sons. — Ver. 2. But Samuel replied, " How 
shall I go? If Saul hear it, he will Mil me." This fear on the 
part of the prophet, who did not generally show himself either 
hesitating or timid, can only be explained, as we may see from 
ver. 14, on the supposition that Saul was already given up to 
the power of the evil spirit, so that the very worst might be 
dreaded from his madness, if he discovered that Samuel had 
anointed another king. That there was some foundation for 
Samuel's anxiety, we may infer from the fact that the Lord did 
not blame him for his fear, but pointed out the way by which 
he might anoint David without attracting attention (vers. 2, 3). 
" Take a young heifer with thee, and say (sc. if any one ask the 
reason for your going to Bethlehem), / am come to sacrifice to 
the Lordr There was no untruth in this, for Samuel was really 
about to conduct a sacrificial festival, and was to invite Jesse's 


family to it, and then anoint the one whom Jehovah should 
point out to him as the chosen one. It was simply a conceal- 
ment of the principal object of his mission from any who might 
make inquiry about it, because they themselves had not been 
invited. " There was no dissimulation or falsehood in this, 
since God really wished His prophet to find safety under the 
pretext of the sacrifice. A sacrifice was therefore really offered, 
and the prophet was protected thereby, so that he was not 
exposed to any danger until the time of full revelation arrived" 
(Calvin). — Ver. 4. When Samuel arrived at Bethlehem, the 
elders of the city came to meet him in a state of the greatest 
anxiety, and asked him whether his coming was peace, or 
promised good. The singular ip^*^ may be explained on the 
ground that one of the elders spoke for the rest. The anxious 
inquiry of the elders presupposes that even in the time of Saul 
the prophet Samuel was frequently in the habit of coming un- 
expectedly to one place and another, for the purpose of reproving 
and punishing wrong-doing and sin. — Yer. 5. Samuel quieted 
them with the reply that he was come to offer sacrifice to the 
Lord, and called upon them to sanctify themselves and' take 
part in the sacrifice. It is evident from this that the prophet 
was accustomed to turn his visits to account by offering sacri- 
fice, and so building up the people in fellowship with the Lord. 
The reason why sacrifices were offered at different places was, 
that since the removal of the ark from the tabernacle, this 
sanctuary had ceased to be the only place of the nation's 
worship. ti'7.pni?5 to sanctify one's self by washings and legal 
purifications, which probably preceded every sacrificial festival 
(yid. Ex. xix. 10, 22). The expression, " Come icith me to the 
sacrifice" is constructio prcegnans for " Come and take part in 
the sacrifice." " Call to the sacrifice " (ver. 3) is to be under- 
stood in the same way. nnt is the slain-offering, which was 
connected with every sacrificial meal. It is evident from the 
following words, " and he sanctified Jesse and his sons," that 
Samuel addressed the general summons to sanctify themselves 
more especially to Jesse and his sons. For it was with them 
that he was about to celebrate the sacrificial meal. — Vers. G sqq. 
When they came, sc. to the sacrificial meal, which was no doubt 
held in Jesse's house, after the sacrifice had been presented upon 
an altar, and when Samuel saw the eldest son Eliab, who was 

CHAP. XVI. 1-13. 169 

tall and handsome according to vor. 7, ^Hie tliouglit (lit. he said, 
sc. in his heart), Surely His anointed is before Jehovah" i.e. 
surely the man is now standing before Jehovah whom He hath 
chosen to be His anointed. But Jehovah said to him in the 
spirit, " Look not at his form and the height of his stature, for 1 
have rejected him : for not as man seeth (,sc. do I see) ; for man 
looheth at the eyes, and Jehovah loolceth at the heart." The eyes, 
as contrasted with the heart, are figuratively employed to denote 
the outward form. — Vers. 8 sqq. When Jesse thereupon brought 
up his other sons, one after another, before Samuel, the prophet 
said in the case of each, " This also Jehovah hath not chosen.^' 
As Samuel must be the subject to the verb l'ps^'ü in vers. 8-10, 
we may assume that he had communicated the object of his 
coming to Jesse. — Ver. 11. After the seventh had been pre- 
sented, and the Lord had not pointed any one of them out as 
the chosen one, " Samuel said to Jesse, Are these all the boys?" 
"When Jesse replied that there was still the smallest, i.e. the 
youngest, left, and he was keeping the sheep, he directed him 
to fetch him ; ^^ for" said he, " loe ivill not sit down till he has 
come hither." ^^0^ to surround, sc. the table, upon which the 
meal was arranged. This is implied in the context. — Vers. 12, 
13. When David arrived, — and he was ruddy, also of beautiful 
eyes and good looks C^ioiN, used to denote the reddish colour of 
the hair, which was regarded as a mark of beauty in southern 
lands, where the hair is generally black. Oy is an adverb here 
= therewith), and therefore, so far as his looks and figure were 
concerned, well fitted, notwithstanding his youth, for the office 
to which the Lord had chosen him, since corporeal beauty was 
one of the outward distinctions of a king, — the Lord pointed 
him out to the prophet as the chosen one; whereupon he anointed 
him in the midst of his brethren. Alonff with the anointino; the 
Spirit of Jehovah came upon David from that day forward. But 
Samuel returned to Ramah when the sacrificial meal was over. 
There is nothing recorded concerning any words of Samuel 
to David at the time of the anointing and in explanation of 
its meaning, as in the case of Saul (ch. x. 1). In all probability 
Samuel said nothing at the time, since, according to ver. 2, he 
had good reason for keeping the matter secret, not only on his 
own account, but still more for David's sake ; so that even the 
brethren of David who were present knew nothing about the 


meaning and object of the anointing, but may have imagined 
that Samuel merely intended to consecrate David as a pupil of 
the prophets. At the same time, we can hardly suppose that 
Samuel left Jesse, and even David, in uncertainty as to the 
object of his mission, and of the anointing which he had per- 
formed. He may have communicated all this to both of them, 
without letting the other sons know. It by no means follows, 
that because David remained with his father and kept the sheep 
as before, therefore his calHng to be king must have been un- 
known to him ; but only that in the anointing which he had 
received he did not discern either the necessity or obligation to 
appear openly as the anointed of the Lord, and that after 
receiving the Spirit of the Lord in consequence of the anoint- 
ing, he left the further development of the matter to the Lord 
in childlike submission, assured that He would prepare and 
show him the way to the throne in His own good time. 

Vers. 14-23. David's Introduction to the Court op 
Saul. — Ver. 14. With the rejection of Saul on the part of 
God, the Spirit of Jehovah had departed from him, and an 
evil spirit from Jehovah had come upon him, who filled him 
with fear and anguish. The " evil spirit from Jelwvah " which 
came into Saul in the place of the Spirit of Jehovah, was not 
merely an inward feeling of depression at the rejection an- 
nounced to him, which grew into melancholy, and occasionally 
broke out in passing fits of insanity, but a higher evil power, 
which took possession of him, and not only deprived him of his 
peace of mind, but stirred up the feelings, ideas, imagination, 
and thoughts of his soul to such an extent that at times it drove 
him even into madness. This demon is called " an evil spirit 
(coming) from Jeliovoli^^ because Jehovah had sent it as a 
punishment, or "an evil spirit of GocV {Elolihn : ver. 15), or 
briefly "a spirit of GocV (^Elohim), or ''the evil sjnrit" (ver. 
23, compare ch. xviii. 10), as being a supernatural, spiritual, 
evil power ; but never " the Spirit of Jehovah," because this is 
the Spirit proceeding from the holy God, which works upon 
men as the spirit of strength, wisdom, and knowledge, and 
generates and fosters the spiritual or divine life. The ex- 
pression nyn nin'' lyn (ch. xix. 9) is an abbreviated form for 
^'P] ^^^ ^^"^ '^^"'; and is to be interpreted accordingly. — Ver. 

CHAP. XVI. 14-23. 171 

15. When Saul's attendants, i.e. his officers at court, perceived 
the mental ailment of the king, they advised him to let the evil 
spirit which troubled him be charmed away by instrumental 
music. " JLet our lord speak (command) ; thr/ servants are 
before thee (i.e. ready to serve thee) : thei/ icill seek a man skilled 
in plai/ing upon the harj) ; so will it he well ivith thee ivhen an evil 
spirit of God comes upon thee, and he (the man referred to) plays 
toith his hand." The powerful influence exerted by music upon 
the state of the mind was well known even in the earliest times; 
so that the wise men of ancient Greece recommended music to 
soothe the passions, to heal mental diseases, and even to check 
tumults among the people. From the many examples collected 
by Grotius, Clericus, and more especially Bochart in the 
Hieroz. P. i. 1. 2, c. 44, we will merely cite the words of 
Censorinus (de die natali, c. 12) : " Pi/thagoras ut animum sua 
semper divinitate imhueret, priusquam se somno daret et cum 
esset expergitus, cithara ut ferunt cantare consueverat, et Asclepi- 
ades medicus phreneticorum mentes morbo turbatas scepe per 
symphoniam suce naturce reddidit" — Vers. 17, 18. When Saul 
commanded them to seek out a good player upon a stringed 
instrument in accordance with this advice, one of the youths 
(D"'"iy3, a lower class of court servants) said, " / have seen a so7i 
of Jesse the Bethlehemite, skilled in playing, and a brave man, 
and a man of war, eloquent, and a handsome man, and Jehovah 
is loith him." The description of David as " a mighty man " 
and "a man of war" does not presuppose that David had 
already fought bravely in war, but may be perfectly explained 
from what David himself afterwards affirmed respecting his 
conflicts with lions and bears (ch. xvii, 34, 35). The courage 
and strength which he had then displayed furnished sufficient 
proofs of heroism for any one to discern in him the future war- 
rior. — Vers. 19, 20. Saul thereupon sent to ask Jesse for his 
son David; and Jesse sent him with a present of an ass's burden 
of bread, a bottle of wine, and a buck-kid. Instead of the 
singular expression Dn? "lioHj an ass with bread, i.e. laden with 
bread, the LXX. read DHP lOh, and rendered it r^o^iop aprcov; 
but this is certainly wrong, as they were not accustomed to 
measure bread in bushels. These presents show how simple 
were the customs of Israel and in the court of Saul at that 
time. — Yer. 21. When David came to Saul and stood before 


him, i.e. served him hy playing upon his harp, Saul took a 
great liking to him, and nominated him his armour-bearer, i.e. 
his adjutant, as a proof of his satisfaction with him, and sent to 
Jesse to say, '' Let David stand before me" i.e. remain in my 
service, "for lie has found favour in my sight." The historian 
then adds (ver. 23) : " When the (evil) spirit of God came to 
Said (p^, as in ch. xix. 9, is really equivalent to ^^), and David 
took the harp and played, there came refreshing to Saul, and he 
became well, and the evil spirit departed from him." Thus David 
came to Saul's court, and that as his benefactor, without Saul 
having any suspicion of David's divine election to be king of 
Israel. This guidance on the part of God was a school of 
preparation to David for his future calling. In the first place, 
he was thereby lifted out of his quiet and homely calling in the 
country into the higher sphere of court-life; and thus an oppor- 
tunity was afforded him not only for intercourse with men of 
high rank, and to become acquainted with the affairs of the 
kingdom, but also to display those superior gifts of his intellect 
and heart with which God had endowed him, and thereby to 
gain the love and confidence of the people. But at the same 
time he was also brought into a severe school of affliction, in 
which his inner man was to be trained by conflicts from without 
and within, so that he might become a man after God's heart, 
who should be well fitted to found the true monarchy in Israel. 

David's victory over goliath. — chap. xvii. 1-54. 

A war between the Philistines and the Israelites furnished 
David with the opportunity of displaying before Saul and all 
Israel, and greatly to the terror of the enemies of his people, 
that heroic power which was firmly based upon his bold and 
pious trust in the omnipotence of the faithful covenant God 
(vers. 1-3). A powerful giant, named Goliath, came forward 
from the ranks of the Philistines, and scornfully challenged 
the Israelites to produce a man who would decide the war by a 
single combat Avith him (vers. 4-11). David, who had returned 
home for a time from the court of Saul, and had just been sent 
into the camp by his father with provisions for his elder brothers 
who were serving in the army, as soon as he heard the challenge 
and the scornful words of the Philistine, offered to fight with 

CHAP. XVII. 1-11. 173 

him (vers. 15-37), and killed the giant with a stone from a 
sling; whereupon the Philistines took to flight, and were pur- 
sued by the Israelites to Gath and Ekron (vers. 38-54). 

Vers. 1-11. Some time after David first came to Saul for 
the purpose of playing, and when he had gone back to his 
father to Bethlehem, probably because Saul's condition had 
improved, the Philistines made a fresh attempt to subjugate 
the Israelites. They collected their army together (machcmeh, 
as in Ex. xiv. 24, Judg. iv. 16) to war at Shoclwh, the present 
Shuiceikeli, in the Wady Samt, three hours and a half to the 
south-west of Jerusalem, in the hilly region between the moun- 
tains of Judall and the plain of Philistia (see at Josh. xv. 35), 
and encamped between Shochoh and Azekali, at Ephes-dammim, 
which has been preserved in the ruins of Damum, about an 
hour and a half east by north of Shuweikeh ; so that Azekah, 
which has not yet been certainly traced, must be sought for 
to the east or north-east of Damum (see at Josh. x. 10). — 
Vers. 2, 3. Saul and the Israelites encamped opposite to them 
in the terebinth valley (Emek ha-Elali), i.e. a plain by the Wady 
Musur, and stood in battle array opposite to the Philistines, in 
such order that the latter stood on that side against the moun- 
tain (on the slope of the mountain), and the Israelites on this 
side against the mountain; and the valley {^\l\^, the deeper cut- 
ting made by the brook in the plain) was betiveen them. — Vers. 
4 sqq. And the (well-known) champion came out of the camps of 
the Philistines (Q)^?!] ^''^, the middle-man, wdio decides a war 
between two armies by a single combat ; Luther, " the giant," 
according to the avyjp BvvaT6<i of the LXX., although in ver. 23 
the Septuagint translators have rendered the word correctly 
avr)p 6 ä/jiecrcralo<;, which is probably only another form of 
6 /j,6aaio<;), named Goliath of Gath, one of the chief cities of 
the Philistines, where there were Anakim still left, according 
to Josh. xi. 22. His height was six cubits and a span (ß^ 
cubits), i.e., according to the calculation made by Thenlus, 
about nine feet two inches Parisian measure, — a great height 
no doubt, though not altogether unparalleled, and hardly greater 
than that of the great uncle of Iren, who came to Berlin in the 
year 1857 (see Pentateuch, vol. iii. p. 303, note).^ The armour 
' According to Pliny (li. n. vii. 16), the giant Pusio and the giantess 
Secundilla, who lived in the time of Augustus, v/ere ten feet three inches 


of Goliath corresponded to his gigantic stature : " a helmet of 
brass upon Ids head, and clothed in scale armour, the tveight of 
lohich loas five thousand shekels of brass." The meaning scales 
is sustained by the words ^^ip.^i? in Lev. xi. 9, 10, and Deut. 
xiv. 0, 10, and n\\i^i^\yp_ in Ezek! xxix. 4. n'^'Wf\^ I^'l^', therefore, 
is not ßcopa^ aXvaiScoTO'i (LXX.), a coat of mail made of rings 
worked together like chains, such as were used in the army of 
the Seleucidse (1 Mace. vi. 35), hut according to Aquila's ^oXi- 
Bq3t6v (scaled), a coat made of plates of brass lying one upon 
another like scales, such as we find upon the old Assyrian sculp- 
tures, where the warriors fighting in chariots, and in attendance 
upon the king, wear coats of scale armour, descending either 
to the knees or ankles, and consisting of scales of iron or brass, 
wliich were probably fastened to a shirt of felt or coarse linen 
(see Layard, Nineveh and its Remains, vol. ii. p. 335). The 
account of the weight, 5000 shekels, i.e. according to Thenius, 
148 Dresden pounds, is hardly founded upon the actual weigh- 
ing of the coat of mail, but probably rested upon a general 
estimate, which may have been somewhat too high, although 
we must bear in mind that the coat of mail not only covered 
the chest and back, but, as in the case of the Assyrian warriors, 
the lower part of the body also, and therefore must have been 
very large and very heavy .^ — Ver. 6. And " greaves of brass 
upon his feet, and a brazen lance (hung) between his shoulders,^'' 
i.e. upon his back. pT'S signifies a lance, or small spear. The 
LXX. and Vulgate, however, adopt the rendering ac77rt9 ^aX«?), 
cli/peus ceneus ; and Luther has followed them, and translates 

(Roman) in height ; and a Jew is mentioned by Josephus ( J.?i<. xviii. 4, 5), 
who was seven cubits in height, i.e. ten Parisian feet, or if the cubits are 
Roman, nine and a half. 

1 According to Thenius, the cuirass of Augustus the Strong, which has 
been preserved in tlie historical museum at Dresden, weighed fifty-five 
pounds; and from that he infers, that the weight given as that of Goliath's 
coat of mail is by no means too great. Ewald, on the other hand, seems 
to have no idea of the nature of the Hebrew weights, or of the bodily 
strength of a man, since he gives 5000 lbs. of brass as the weight of 
Goliath's coat of mail {Gesch. iii. p. 90), and merely observes that the 
pounds were of course much smaller than ours. But the shekel did not 
even weigh so much as our full ounce. With such statements as these you 
may easily turn the historical character of the scriptural narrative into 
incredible myths ; but they cannot lay any claim to the name of science. 

CHAP. XVII. 12-31. 175 

it a brazen shield. Thenius therefore proposes to alter [IT'S 
into |Jö, because the expression " between his shoulders" does 
not appear applicable to a spear or javelin, which Goliath must 
have suspended by a strap, but only to a small shield slung over 
his back, whilst his armour-bearer carried the larger nsy in front 
of him. But the difficulty founded upon the expression " between 
his shoulders " has been fully met by Bochart {Hieroz. i. 2, 
c. 8), in the examples which he cites from Homer, Virgil, etc., 
to prove that the ancients carried their own swords slung over 
their shoulders (a/i(^t S' wfioicnv : II. ii. 45, etc.). And Josephus 
understood the expression in this way {Ant. vi. 9, 1). Goliath 
had no need of any shield to cover his back, as this was suffi- 
ciently protected by the coat of mail. Moreover, the allusion 
to the liT*? in ver. 45 points to an offensive weapon, and not to 
a shield. — Ver. 7. " And the shaft of his spear loas like a 
weaver s beam, and the point of it six hxindred shekels of iron" 
(about seventeen pounds). For }*n, according to the Keri and 
the parallel passages, 2 Sam. xxi. 19, 1 Chron. xx. 5, we should 
read 1*^, wood, i.e. a shaft. Before him went the bearer of the 
zinnah, i.e. the great shield. — Ver. 8. This giant stood and 
cried to the ranks of the Israelites, " WJiy come ye out to place 
yourselves in battle array ? Am I not the Philistine, and ye the 
servants of Saul ? Choose ye out a man ivho may come down 
to me" (into the valley where Goliath was standing). The 
meaning is : " Why would you engage in battle with us ? I am 
the man who represents the strength of the Philistines, and ye 
are only servants of Saul. If ye have heroes, choose one out, 
that we may decide the matter in a single combat." — Ver. 9. 
" If he can fight with me, and kill me, toe icill be your servants ; 
if I overcome him, and slay him, ye shall be our servants, and 
serve us." He then said still further (ver. 10), " I have mocked 
the ranks of Israel this day (the mockery consisted in his desig- 
nating the Israelites as servants of Saul, and generally in the 
triumphant tone in which he issued the challenge to single 
combat) ; give me avian, that ice may fight together !" — Ver. 11. 
At these words Saul and all Israel Avere dismayed and greatly 
afraid, because not one of them dared to accept the challenge to 
fight with such a giant. 

Vers. 12-31. David's arrival in the camp, and wish to fight 
with Goliath. — David had been dismissed by Saul at that time, 


and having returned home, he was feedmg his father's sheep 
once more (vers. 12-15). Now, when the Israelites were 
standinn; opposite to the Philistines, and Goliath was repeating 
his challenge every day, David was sent by his father into the 
camp to bring provisions to his three eldest brothers, who were 
serving in Saul's army, and to inquire as to their welfare (vers. 
16-19). He arrived when the Israelites had placed themselves 
in battle array ; and running to his brethren in the ranks, he 
saw Goliath come out from the ranks of the Philistines, and 
heard his words, and also learned from the mouth of an Israelite 
what reward Saul would give to any one who would defeat this 
Philistine (vers. 20-25). He then inquired more minutely 
into the matter ; and having thereby betrayed his own intention 
of trying to fight with him (vers. 26, 27), he was sharply re- 
proved by his eldest brother in consequence (vers. 28, 29). He 
did not allow this to deter him, however, but turned to another 
with the same question, and received a similar reply (ver. 30) ; 
whereupon his words were told to the king, who ordered David 
to come before him (ver. 31). This is, in a condensed form, 
the substance of the section, which introduces the conquest of 
Goliath by David in the character of an episode. This first 
heroic deed was of the greatest importance to David and all 
Israel, for it was David's first step on the way to the throne, to 
which Jehovah had resolved to raise him. This explains the 
fulness and circumstantiality of the narrative, in which the 
intention is very apparent to set forth most distinctly the 
marvellous overruling of all the circumstances by God himself. 
And this circumstantiality of the account is closely connected 
with the form of the narrative, which abounds in repetitions, 
that appear to us tautological in many instances, but which 
belong to the characteristic peculiarities of the early Hebrew 
style of historical composition.^ 

^ 0)1 account of these repetitions and certain apparent differences, the 
LXX. {Cod. Vat.) have omitted the section from ver. 12 to ver. 31, and 
also that from ver. 55 to ch. xviii. 5 ; and on the ground of this omission, 
Houbigant, Kennicott, Michaelis, Eichhorn, Dathe, Bertheau, and many 
others, have pronounced both these sections later interpolations ; whereas 
the more recent critics, such as De Wette, Thenius, Ewald, Bleek, Stähelin, 
and others, reject the hypothesis that they are interpolations, and infer 
from the supposed discrepancies that ch. xvii. and xviii. were written by 
Bome one who was ignorant of the facts mentioned in ch. xvi., and waa 

CHAP. XVII. 12-31. 177 

Vers. 12-15 are closely connected with the preceding words, 
^^ All Israel ivas alarmed at the challenge of the Philistine; but 
David the son of that Ephratiie {Epliratite, as in Ruth i. 1, 2) 
of Bethlehem in Judah, whose name was Jesse," etc. The verb 
and predicate do not follow till ver. 15 ; so that the words 
occur here in the form of an anacolouthon. The traditional 
introduction of the verb ^l^ between ini and ti'''X")3 (David icas 
the son of that Ephratite) is both erroneous and misleadino-. 
If the words were to be understood in this way, HTi could no 
more be omitted here than nn^n in 2 Chron. xxii. 3, 11. The 
true explanation is rather, that vers. 12—15 form one period 
expanded by parentheses, and that the historian lost sight of 

altogether a different person from the author of this chapter. According 
to ch. xvi. 21 sqq., they say, David was Saul's armour-bearer already, and 
his family connections were well known to the king, Avhereas, according to 
ch. xvii. 15, David was absent just at the time when he ought as armour- 
bearer to have been in attendance upon Saul ; whilst in ch. xvii. 33 he is 
represented as a shepherd boy who was unaccustomed to handle weapons, 
and as being an unauthorized spectator of the war, and, what is still more 
striking, even his lineage is represented in vers. 55 sqq. as unknown both 
to Abner and the king. Moreover, in ver. 12 the writer introduces a 
notice concerning David with which the reader must be already well 
acquainted from ch. xvi. 5 sqq., and which is therefore, to say the least, 
superfluous ; and in ver. 54 Jerusalem is mentioned in a manner which 
does not quite harmonize with the history, whilst the account of the maimer 
in which he disposed of Goliath's armour is apparently at variance with ch. 
xxi. 9. But the notion, that the sections in question are interpolations that 
have crept into the text, cannot be sustained on the mere authority of the 
Septuagint version ; since the arbitrary manner in which the translators of 
this version made omissions or additions at pleasure is obvious to any one. 
Again, the assertion that these sections cannot well be reconciled with ch. 
xvi., and emanated from an author who was unacquainted with the history 
in ch. xvi., is overthrown by the unquestionable reference to ch. xvi. which 
we find in ver. 12, " David the son of ihai Ephratite," — where Jerome has 
correctly paraphrased n-TH, de quo supra dictum est, — and also by the remark 
in ver. 15, that David went backwards and forwards from Saul to feed hi? 
father's sheep in Bethlehem. Neither of these can be pronounced interpo- 
lations of the compiler, unless the fact can be established that the supposed 
discrepancies are really well founded. But it by no means follows, that 
because Saul loved David on account of the beneficial effect which bis 
playing upon the harp produced upon his mind, and appointed him his 
armour-bearer, therefore David had really to carry the king's armour in 
time of war. The appointment of armour-bearer was nothing more than 
conferring upon him the title of aide-de-camp, from which it cannot bo 


the construction with which he commenced in the intermediate 
clauses ; so that he started afresh with the subject Ti'J'! in ver. 
15, and proceeded with what he had to say concerning David, 
doing this at the same time in such a form that what he writes 
is attached, so far as the sense is concerned, to the parentlietical 
remarks concerning Jesse's eldest sons. To brino; out dis- 
tinctly the remarkable chain of circumstances by which David 
was led to undertake the conflict with Goliath, he links on to 
the reference to his father certain further notices respecting 
David's family and his position at that time. Jesse had eight 
sons and was an old man in the time of Saul. D"'t^^^? ^3^ 
" coyne among the weak^ Cl''t^'3X generally means, no doubt, 

inferred that David had already become well known to the king through 
the performance of warlike deeds. If Joab, the commander-in-chief, had 
ten armour-bearers (2 Sam. xviii. 15, compare ch. xxiii. 37), king Saul 
would certainly have other armour-bearers besides David, and such as were 
well used to war. Moreover, it is not stated anywhere in ch. xvi. that Saul 
took David at the very outset into his regular and permanent service, but, 
according to ver. 22, he merely asked his father Jesse that David might 
stand before him, i.e. might serve him ; and there is no contradiction in 
the supposition, that when his melancholy left him for a time, he sent David 
back to his father to Bethlehem, so that on the breaking out of the war 
with the Philistines he was living at home and keeping sheep, whilst his 
three eldest brothers had gone to the war. The circumstance, however, 
that when David went to fight with Goliath, Saul asked Abner his captain, 
"Whose son is this youth?" and Abner could give no explanation to the 
king, so that after the defeat of Goliath, Saul himself asked David, " Whose 
son art thou?" (vers. 55-58), can hardly be comprehended, if all that Saul 
wanted to ascertain was the name of David's father. For even if Abner 
had not troubled himself about the lineage of Saul's harpist, Saul himself 
could not well have forgotten that David was a son of the Eethlehemite 
Jesse. But there was much more implied in Saul's question. It was not 
the name of David s father alone that he wanted to discover, but what kind 
of man the father of a youth who possessed the courage to accomplish so 
marvellous a heroic deed really was ; and the question was put not merely 
in order that he might grant him an exemption of his house from taxes as 
the reward promised for the conquest of Goliath (ver. 25), but also in all 
probability that he might attach such a man to his court, since he inferred 
from the courage and bravery of the son the existence of similar qualities 
in the father. It is true that David merely replied, "• The son of thy servant 
Jesse of Bethlehem ;" but it is very evident from the expression in ch. xviii. 
1, " when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul," that Saul conversed 
with him still further about his family affairs, since the very words imply a 
lengthened conversation. The other difficulties are very trivial, and will 
be answered in connection with the exposition of the passages in question. 


CHAP. XVII. 12-31. 179 

people or men. But this meaning does not give any appro- 
priate sense here ; and the supposition that the word has crept 
in through a slip of the pen for Q''^^?, is opposed not only by 
the autiiority of the early translators, all of whom read QV^^> 
but also by the circumstance that the expression ^''^^^ ^i3 does 
not occur in the whole of the Old Testament, and that D''ö*5 i<i3 
alone is used with this signification. — Ver. 13. " The three great 
(i.e. eldest) sons of Jesse had gone behind Saul into the war." 
IspHj which appears superfluous after the foregoing ^^7% has 
been defended by Böttcher, as necessary to express the plu- 
perfect, which the thought requires, since the imperfect consec. 
W7*1_, when attached to a substantive and participial clause, 
merely expresses the force of the aorist. Properly, therefore, 
it reads thus : " A nd then (in Jesse's old age) tlie three eldest 
sons followed, had followed, Saul ;^' a very ponderous construc- 
tion indeed, but quite correct, and even necessary, with the 
great deficiency of forms, to express the pluperfect. The names 
of these three sons agree with ch. xvi. 6-9, whilst the third, 
Shammah, is called Shimeah (nyoC') in 2 Sam. xiii. 3, 32, "'^p^' 
in 2 Sam. xxi. 21, and m^ in i'Chron. ii. 13, xx. 7.— Ver.'lo. 
" But David was going and returning away from Saul :" i.e. he 
•went backwards and forwards from Saul to feed his father's 
sheep in Bethlehem ; so that he was not in the permanent 
service of Saul, but at that very time was with his father. 
The latter is to be supplied from the context. — Ver. 16. The 
Philistine drew near (to the Israelitish ranks) morning and 
evening, and stationed himself for forty days (in front of them). 
This remark continues the description of Goliath's appearance, 
and introduces the account which follows. Whilst the Phili- 
stine was coming out every day for forty days long with his 
challenge to single combat, Jesse sent his son David into the 
camp. " Take now for thy brethren this ephah of parched grains 
(see Lev. xxiii. 14), and these ten loaves, and bring them quickly 
into the camp to thy brethren.''^ — Ver. 18. " A7id these ten slices 
of soft cheese (so the ancient versions render it) bring to the 
chief captain over thousand, and visit thy brethren to inquire after 
their welfare, and bring witli you a pledge from them" — a pledge 
that they are alive and well. This seems the simplest explana- 
tion of the word O^^iy^ of which very different renderings were 
given by the early translators. — Ver. 19. " But Saul and they 


(the brothers), and the whole of the men of Israel, are in the 
terebinth valley^^ etc. This statement forms part of Jesse's 
words. — Vers. 20, 21. In pursuance of this commission, David 
went in the morning to the waggon-rampart, when the army, 
which was going out (of the camp) into battle array, raised 
the war-cry, and Israel and the Philistines placed themselves 
battle-array against battle-array. '"iJI ^^nni is a circumstantial 
clause, and the predicate is introduced with '^V'}\^\, as '1J1 ^'^nni is 
placed at the head absolutely : " and as for the army which^ 
etc., it raised a shout." '"i^Opm V'^'n^ lit. to make a noise in 
war, i.e. to raise a ivar-cry. — Ver. 22. David left the vessels 
with the provisions in the charge of the keeper of the ves- 
sels, and ran into the ranks to inquire as to the health of 
his brethren. — Ver. 23. Whilst he was talking with them, 
the champion (middle-man) Goliath drew near, and spoke 
according to those words (the words contained in vers. 8 sqq.), 
and David heard it. v3 riiny^ö is probably an error for 
'^D nbnyap (Keri, LXX., Vulg'.; cf. ver. 2G). If the Chethibh 
were the proper reading, it would suggest an Arabic word signi- 
fying a crowd of men (Dietrich on Ges. Lex.). — Vers. 24, 25. 
All the Israelites fled from Goliath, and were sore afraid. 
They said (^^?Y^^ ^^^ '^ ^ collective noun), ^^ Have ye seen this 
man who is coming'? {p.'iy'i^'^T}^ with Dagesh dirim. as in ch. x. 24.) 
Surely to defy Israel is he coming ; and whoever shall slay him^ 
the king xoill enrich him xoith great loealth, and give him his 
daughter, and make his father s house {i.e. his family) free in 
Israel," viz. from taxes and public burdens. There is nothing 
said afterwards about the fulfilment of these promises. But it 
by no means follows from this, that the statement is to be 
regarded as nothing more than an exaggeration, that had grown 
up among the people, of what Saul had really said. There is 
all the less probability in this, from the fact that, according to 
ver. 27, the people assured him again of the same thing. In all 
probability Saul had actually made some such promises as these, 
but did not feel himself bound to fulfil them afterwards, because 
he had not made them expressly to David himself. — Ver. 26. 
When David heard these words, he made more minute inquiries 
from the bystanders about the whole matter, and dropped some 
words which gave rise to the supposition that he wanted to go 
and fight with this Philistine himself This is implied in the 

CHAP, XVII. 32-40. 1.81 

words, ^^ For who is the Philistine, this uncircumcised one (i.e. 
standing as he does outside the covenant with Jehovah), that he 
insults the ranks of the living God!" whom he has defied in His 
army. " He must know," says the Berleburger Bible, " that he 
has not to do with men, but with God. With a Hving God he 
will have to do, and not with an idol." — Ver. 28. David's eldest 
brother was greatly enraged at his talking thus with the men, 
and reproved David : " Whi/ hast thou come down (from Beth- 
lehem, which stood upon high ground, to the scene of the war), 
a7id loith whom hast thou left those few sheep in the desert?" 
' Tliose few sheep," the loss of only one of which would be a 
very great loss to our family. " 1 knoio thy presumption, and 
the wickedness of thy heart ; for thou hast come down to look at 
the war ;" i.e. thou art not contented with thy lowly calling, but 
aspirest to lofty things ; it gives thee pleasure to look upon 
bloodshed. Eliab sought for the splinter in his brother's eye, 
and was not aware of the beam in his own. The very things 
with which he charged his brother — presumption and wicked- 
ness of heart — were most apparent in his scornful reproof. — 
Vers. 29, 30. David answered very modestly, and so as to put 
the scorn of his reprover to shame : " What have I done, then ? 
It loas only a loord" — a very allowable inquiry certainly. He 
then turned from him (Eliub) to another who was standing by; 
and having repeated his previous words, he received the same 
answer from the people. — Yer. 31. David's words were told to 
Saul, who had him sent for immediately. 

Vers. 32-40. David! s resolution to ßg /it with Goliath; and 
his equipment for the conßict. — Ver. 32. When in the presence 
of Saul, David said, ^^ Let no man's heart (i.e. courage) fail 
on his account (on account of the Philistine, about whom they 
had been speaking) : thy servant icill go and figlii with this Phili- 
stine." — Vers. 33 sqq. To Saul's objection that he, a mere youth, 
could not fight with this Philistine, a man of war from his youth 
up, David replied, that as a shepherd he had taken a sheep out 
of the jaws of a lion and a bear, and had also slain them both. 
The article before """i.^. and 2iT points out these animals as the 
well-known beasts of prey. By the expression 3nn"nxi the 
bear is subordinated to the lion, or rather placed afterwards, as 
something which came in addition to it ; so that riX is to be 
taken as a riota accus, (vid. Ewald, § 277, a), though it is not to 


be understood as implying that the lion and the bear went 
together in search of prey. The subordination or addition is 
merely a logical one : not only the lion, but also the bear, which 
seized the sheep, did David slay. HT, which we find in most 
of the editions since the time of Jac. Chayim, 1525, is an error 
in writing, or more correctly in hearing, for <^^, a sheep. " And 
I loent out after it ; and lohen it rose up against me, I seized it 
by its beard, and smote it, and killed it!^ \\l\, beard and chin, 
signifies the bearded cJdn. Thenius proposes, though without 
any necessity, to alter "i^i^Til into i^i"'^.?, for the simple but weak 
reason, that neither lions nor bears have any actual beard. We 
have only to think, for example, of the Xi<; '^ijyeveio'; in Homer 
(//. XV. 275, xvii. 109), or the barham vellere mortuo leoni of 
Martial (x. 9). Even in modern times we read of lions having 
been killed by Arabs with a stick (see RosenmüUer, Bibl. Althk. 
iv. 2, pp. 132-3). The constant use of the singular suffix is suffi- 
cient to show, that when David speaks of the lion and the bear, 
he connects together two different events, which took place at 
different times, and then proceeds to state how he smote both 
the one and the other of the two beasts of prey. — Ver. 36. 
" Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear ; and the Philistine, 
this uncircumcised one, shall become like one of them (i.e. the 
same thing shall happen to him as to the lion and the bear), 
because he has defied the ranks of the living GodV " And^'' he 
continued (ver. 37), '■'■the Lord who delivered me out of the hand 
(the power) of the lion and the bear, he will deliver me out of the 
hand of this Philistine^ David's courage rested, therefore, upon 
his confident belief that the living God would not let His people 
be defied by the heathen with impunity. Saul then desired for 
him the help of the Lord in carrying out his resolution, and 
bade him put on his own armour-clothes, and gird on his armour. 
VHD (his clothes) signifies probably a peculiar kind of clothes 
which were worn under the armour, a kind of armour-coat to 
which the sword was fastened. — Vers. 39, 40. When he was thus 
equipped with brazen helmet, coat of mail, and sword, David 
began to walk, but soon found that he could do nothing with 
these. He therefore said to Saul, ^^ I cannot go in these things, for 
I have not tried them ; " and having taken them off, he took his 
shepherd's staff in his hand, sought out five smooth stones from 
the brook-valley, and put them in the shepherd's thing that he 


CHAP. XVII. 41-54. 183 

had, namely his shepherd's bag. Pie then took the sling in his 
hand, and went up to the Philistine. In the exercise of his 
shepherd's calling he may have become so skilled in the use 
of the sling, that, like the Benjaminites mentioned in Judg. 
XX. 16, he could sling at a hair's-breadth, and not miss. 

Vers. 41-54. David and Goliath : fall of Goliath, and flight of 
the Philistines. — Ver. 41. The Philistine came closer and closer 
to David. — Vers. 42 sqq. When he saw David, " he looked at him, 
and despised him" i.e. he looked at him contemptuously, because 
he was a youth (as in ch. xvi. 12) ; " aiid then said to him,, Am, 
I a dog, that thou comest to me loith sticks ? " (the plural rii?pO is 
used in contemptuous exaggeration of the armour of David, 
which appeared so thoroughly unfit for the occasion) ; " and 
cursed David by his God {i.e. making use of the name of Jeho- 
vah in Ills cursing, and thus defying not David only, but the 
God of Israel also), and finished with the challenge, Come to me, 
and I will give thy flesli to the birds of heaven and the beasts of 
the field" (to eat). It was with such threats as these that 
Homer's heroes used to defy one another {yid. Hector's threat, 
for example, in II. xiii. 831-2). — Vers. 45 sqq. David answered 
this defiance with bold, believing courage : " Thou comest to me 
with sword, and javelin, and lance; but I come to thee in the name 
of the Lord of Sabaoth, the God of the ranks of Israel, whom 
thou hast defied. This day will Jehovah deliver thee into my 
hand; and I shall smite thee, and cut off thine head, and give the 
corpse of the army of the Philistines to the birds this day. . . . 
And all the tcorld shall learn that Israel hath a God ; and this 
whole assembly shall discover that Jehovah bringeth deliverance 
(victory) not by sword and spear : for loar belongeth to Jehovah, 
and He will give you into our hand." Whilst Goliath boasted of 
his strength, David founded his own assurance of victory upon 
the Almighty God of Israel, whom the Philistine had defied. 
"IJQ is to be taken collectively. ''^'J^^r' ^NiPX C^l does not mean 
" God is for Israel," but " Israel hath a God," so that Elohim is 
of course used here in a pregnant sense. This God is Jehovah; 
war is his, i.e. He is the Lord of war, who has both war and its 
results in His power. — Vers. 48, 49. When the Philistine rose 
up, drawing near towards David (21^ and "iip". simply serve to 
set forth the occurrence in a more pictorial manner), David 
hastened and ran to the battle array to meet him, took a stone out 


of his pocket, hurled it, and hit the Philistine on his temples, so 
that the stone entered them, and Goliath fell upon his face to 
the ground. — Ver. 50 contains a remark by the historian with 
reference to the result of the conflict : " Thus loas David stronger 
than the Philistine, with sling and stone, and smote the Philistine, 
and slew him ivithout a sword in Jus hand^ And then in ver. 
51 the details are given, namely, that David cut off the head 
of the fallen giant with his own sword. Upon the downfall of 
their hero the Philistines were terrified and fled ; whereupon 
the Israelites rose up with a cry to pursue the flying foe, and 
pursued them "to a valley, and to the gates of JEkron." The first 
place mentioned is a very striking one. The " valley " cannot 
mean the one which divided the two armies, according to ver. 3, 
not only because the article is w^anting, but still more from the 
facts themselves. For it is neither stated, nor really probable, 
that the Philistines had crossed that valley, so as to make it 
possible to pursue them into it again. But if the word refers 
to some other valley, it seems very strange that nothing further 
should be said about it. Both these circumstances render the 
reading itself, «"»J, suspicious, and give great probability to the 
conjecture that N''J is only a copyist's error for Gath, wliich is 
the rendering given by the LXX., especially when taken in 
connection with the following clause, " to Gath and to Ekron " 
(ver. 52). — Ver. 52. " And loounded of the Philistines fell on the 
way to Shaaraim, and to Gath and to Ekron." Shaaraim is the 
town of Saarayim, in the lowland of Judah, and has probably 
been preserved in the Tell Kefr Zakariya (see at Josh. xv. 
36). On Gath and Ekron, see at Josh. xiii. 3. — Ver. 53. After 
returning from the pursuit of the flying foe, tlie Israelites 
plundered the camp of the Philistines. ''"^^^< \>Tl, to pursue 
hotly, as in Gen. xxxi. 36. — Ver. 54. But David took the head 
of Goliath and brought it to Jerusalem, and put his armour in 
his tent, p^^ is an antiquated term for a dwelling-place, as in 
ch. iv. 10, xiii. 2, etc. The reference is to David's house at 
Bethlehem, to wdiich he returned with the booty after the defeat 
of Goliath, and that by the road which ran past Jerusalem, 
where he left the head of Goliath. There is no anachronism in 
these statements ; for the assertion made by some, that Jeru- 
salem was not yet in the possession of the Israelites, rests upon 
a confusion between the citadel of Jebus upon Zion, which 

CHAP. XVII. 55-XVIII. 30. 185 

was still In the hands of the Jebusites, and the city of Jeru- 
salem, in which Israelites had dwelt for a long time (see at 
Josh. XV. 63, and Judg. i. 8). Nor is there any contradiction 
between this statement and ch. xxi. 9, where Goliath's sword 
is said to have been preserved in the tabernacle at Nob : for it 
is not affirmed that David kept Goliath's armour in his own 
home, but only that he took it thither; and the supposition that 
Goliath's sword was afterwards deposited by him in the sanctuary 
in honour of the Lord, is easily reconcilable with this. Again, the 
statement in ch. xviii. 2, to the effect that, after David's victory 
over Goliath, Saul did not allow him to return to his father's 
house any more, is by no means at variance with this explana- 
tion of the verse before us. For the statement in question must 
be understood in accordance with ch. xvii. 15, viz. as signifying 
that from that time forward Saul did not allow David to return 
to his father's house to keep the sheep as he had done before, 
and by no means precludes his paying brief visits to Bethlehem. 

Jonathan's friendship, saul's jealousy and plots 
against david. — chap. xvii. 55-xviii. 30. 

David's victory over Goliath was a turning-point In his life, 
which opened the way to the throne. But whilst this heroic 
deed brought him out of his rural shepher.d life to the scene of 
Israel's conflict with its foes, and in these conflicts Jehovah 
crowned all h's undertakings with such evident success, that 
the Israelites could not fail to discern more and more clearly 
in him the man whom God had chosen as their future king; 
it brought him, on the other hand, into such a relation to the 
royal house, which had been rejected by God, though it still 
continued, to reign, as produced lasting and beneficial results in 
connection with his future calling. In the king himself, from 
whom the Spirit of God had departed, there was soon stirred 
up such jealousy of David as his rival to whom the kingdom 
would one day come, that he attempted at first to get rid of 
liim by stratagem ; and when this failed, and David's renown 
steadily increased, he proceeded to open hostility and persecu- 
tion. On the other hand, the heart of Jonathan clung more 
and more firmly to David with self-denying love and sacrifice. 
This friendship on the part of the brave and noble son of the 


king, not only helped David to bear the more easily all the 
enmity and persecution of the king when plagued by his evil 
spirit, but awakened and strengthened in his soul that pure 
feeling of unswerving fidelity towards the king himself, which 
amounted even to love of his enemy, and, according to the 
marvellous counsel of the Lord, contributed greatly to the 
traininsT of David for his callino; to be a king after God's own 
heart. In the account of the results which followed David's 
victory over Goliath, not only for himself but also for all Israel, 
the friendship of Jonathan is mentioned first (ver. 55-ch. xviii. 
5) ; and this is followed by an account of the growing jealousy 
of Saul in its earliest stages (vers. 6-30). 

Ch. xvii. 55-xviii. 5. Jonathans friendship. — Vers. 55-58. 
The account of the relation into which David was brought to 
Saul through the defeat of Goliath is introduced by a supple- 
mentary remark, in vers. 55, 56, as to a conversation which 
took place between Saul and his commander-in-chief Abner 
concerning David, whilst he was fighting with the giant. So 
far, therefore, as the actual meaning is concerned, the verbs 
in vers, bb and 56 should be rendered as pluperfects. When 
Saul saw the youth walk boldly up to meet the Philistine, he 
asked Abner whose son he was ; whereupon Abner assured him 
with an oath that he did not know. In our remarks concerning 
the integrity of this section (p. 177) we have already observed, 
with regard to the meaning of the question put by Saul, that 
it does not presuppose an actual want of acquaintance with the 
person of David and the name of his father, but only igno- 
rance of the social condition of David's family, with which 
both Abner and Saul may hitherto have failed to make them- 
selves more fully acquainted.-^ — Vers. 57, 58. "When David 
returned "/rom the slaughter of the Philistine,^^ i.e. after the 
defeat of Goliath, and when Abner, who probably went as com- 
mander to meet the brave hero and congratulate him upon his 
victory, had brought him to Saul, the king addressed the same 
question to David, who immediately gave him the information 
he desired. For it is evident that David said more than is 

^ The common solutions of this apparent discrepancy, such as that Saul 
pretended not to know David, or that his question is to be explained on 
the supposition that his disease affected his memory, have but little pro- 
bability in them, although Karkar still adheres to them 

CHAP. XVIII. 1-16. 187 

here communicated, viz. " the son of thy servant Jesse the Beth- 
lehemite," as we have already observed, from the words of ch. 
xviii. 1, which presuppose a protracted conversation between 
Saul and David. The only reason, in all probability, why this 
conversation has not been recorded, is that it was not followed 
by any lasting results either for Jesse or David. 

Ch. xviii. 1-5. The bond of friendship which Jonathan 
formed with David was so evidently the main point, that in 
ver. 1 the writer commences with the love of Jonathan to 
David, and then after that proceeds in ver. 2 to observe that 
Saul took David to himself from that day forward ; whereas it 
is very evident that Saul told David, either at the time of his 
conversation with him or immediately afterwards, that he was 
henceforth to remain with him, i.e. in his service. " The soul 
of Jonathan hound itself (lit. chained itself; cf. Gen. xliv. 30) 
to David's soul, and Jonathan loved him as his soul.'" The 
Chethihh i^riN'l with the suffix i attached to the imperfect is 
very rare, and hence the Keri '^T^'2r\^^\ (vid. Ewald, § 249, 6, 
and Olshausen, Gramm, p. 469). ^^t^'7, to return to his house, 
viz. to engage in his former occupation as shepherd. — Ver. 3. 
Jonathan made a covenant (i.e. a covenant of friendship) and 
(i.e. with) David, because he loved him as his soul. — Ver. 4. 
As a sign and pledge of his friendship, Jonathan gave David 
his clothes and his armour. Meil, the upper coat or cloak. 
Maddim is probably the armour coat (vid. ch. xvii. 39). This 
is implied in the word "^V], which is repeated three times, and 
by which the different arms were attached more closely to V'nD. 
For the act itself, compare the exchange of armour made by 
Glaucus and Diomedes (Horn. //. vi. 230). This seems to have 
been a common custom in very ancient times, as we meet with 
it also among the early Celts (see Macpherson's Ossian). — Ver. 
5. And David went out, sc. to battle ; tvhithersoever Saul sent 
him, he acted wisely and prosperously (''"'?^!, as in Josh. i. 8 : see 
at Deut. xxix. 8). Saul placed him above the men of war 
in consequence, made him one of their commanders ; and he 
pleased all the people, and the servants of Saul also, i.e. the 
courtiers of the king, who are envious as a general rule. 

Vers. G-16. Said's jealousy toioards David.^ — Saul had no 

^ The section vers. 6-14 is supposed by Thenius and others to have been 
taken by the compiler from a different source from the previous one, and 


sooner attached the conqueror of Goliath to his court, tlian lie 
began to be jealous of him. The occasion for his jealousy was 
the celebration of victory at the close of the war with the 
Philistines. — Vers. 6, 7. " When they came^^ i.e. when the warriors 
returned with Saul from the war, " lolien (as is added to explain 
what follows) David rehtrned from the slaughter" i.e. from the 
war in which he had slain Goliath, the women came out of all 
the towns of Israel, " to singing and dancing" i.e. to celebrate 
the victory with singing and choral dancing (see the remarks 
on Ex. XV. 20), " to meet king Saul with tambourines, xoith joy, 
and loith triangles." nnob> is used here to signify expressions 
of joy, a fete, as in Judg. xvi, 23, etc. The striking position 
in whicli the word stands, viz. between two musical instruments, 
shows tiiat the word is to be understood here as referring 
specially to songs of rejoicing, since according to ver. 7 their 
playing was accompanied with singing. The women who 
"sported" (nipnc'D), i.e. performed mimic dances, sang in alter- 
nate choruses (" answered" as in Ex. xv. 21), " Saul hath slain 

not to have been written by the same author : (1) because the same thing 
is mentioned in vers. 13, 14, as in ver. 5, though in a somewhat altered 
form, and vers. 10, 11 occur again in eh. xix. 9, 10, with a few different 
words, and in a more appropriate connection ; (2) because the contents of 
ver. 9, and the word mnSD in ver. 10, are most directly opposed to vers. 
2 and 5. On these grounds, no doubt, the LXX. have not only omitted 
the beginning of ver. 6 from their version, but also vers. 9-11. But the 
supposed discrepancy between vers. 9 and 10 and vers. 2 and 5, — viz. that 
Saul could not have kept David by his side from attachment to him, or 
have placed him over his men of war after several prosperous expeditions, 
as is stated in vers. 2 and 5, if he had looked upon him with jealous eyes 
from the very first day, or if his jealousy had bi-oken out on the second 
day in the way described in vers. 10, 11, — is founded upon two erroneous 
assumptions ; viz. (1) that the facts contained in vers. 1-5 were contempo- 
raneous with those in vers, 6-14 ; and (2) that everything contained in 
these two sections is to be regarded as strictly chronological. But the fact 
recorded in ver. 2, namely, that Saul took David to himself, and did not 
allow him to go back to his father's house any more, occurred unquestion- 
ably some time earlier than those mentioned in vers. 6 sqq. with their 
consequences. Saul took David to himself immediately after the defeat of 
Goliath, and before the war had been brought to an end. But the celebra- 
tion of the victory, in which the paean of the women excited jealousy in 
Saul's mind, did not take place till the return of the people and of the 
king at the close of the war. How long the war lasted we do not know ; 
but from the fact that the Israelites pursued the flying Philistines to Gath 

CHAP. XVIII. 6-16. 189 

his thousands, and David his ten thousands" — Ver. 8. Saul was 
^raged at this. The Avords displeased him, so that he said, 
V' They have given David ten thousands, and to me thousands, 
and there is only the kingdom more for him" (i.e. left for him 
to obtain). " In this foreboding utterance of Saul there was 
involved not only a conjecture which the result confirmed, but 
a deep inward truth : if tlie king of Israel stood powerless 
before the subjugators of his kingdom at so decisive a period as 
this, and a shepherd "boy came and decided the victory, this 
was an additional mark of his rejection" (O. v. Gerlach). — 
Ver. 9. From that day forward Saul toas looHng askance at — 
David. ])V, a denom. verb, from \)V, an eye, looking askance, is 
used for T}V (Keri). — Vers. 10, 11. The next day the evil spirit 
fell upon Saul (" tlie evil spirit of God" see at ch. xvi. 14), 
so that he raved in his house, and threw his javelin at David, 
who played before him '■^ as day by day," but did not hit him, 
because David turned away before him tivice. ^5^'?'? does not 

and Ekron, and then plundered the camp of the Philistines after that (ch. 
xvii. 52, 53), it certainly follows that some days, if not weeks, must have 
elapsed between David's victory over Goliath and the celebration of the 
triumph, after the expulsion of the Philistines from the land. Thus far 
the events described in the two sections are arranged in their chronological 
order ; but for all the rest the facts are arranged antithetically, according 
to their peculiar character, whilst the consequences, which reached further 
than the facts that gave rise to them, and were to some extent contempo- 
raneous, are appended immediately to the facts themselves. Thus David's 
going out whithersoever Saul sent him (ver. 5) may indeed have com- 
menced during the pursuit of the flying Philistines ; but it reached far 
beyond this war, and continued even while Saul was looking upon him 
"with jealous eyes. Ver. 5 contains a general remark, with which the his- 
torian brings to a close one side of the relation between David and Saul, 
which grew out of David's victory. He then proceeds in ver. 6 to give the 
other side, and rounds off this paragraph also (vers. 14—16) with a general 
remark, the substance of which resembles, in the main, the substance of 
ver. 5. At the same time it implies some progress, inasmuch as the delight 
of the people at the acts performed by David (ver. 5) grew into love to 
David itself. This same progress is also apparent in ver. 13 (" Saul made 
him captain over a tlionsaiid"), as compared with ver. 5 (" Saul set him over 
tlie men of war "). Whether the elevation of David into a captain over a 
thousand was a higher promotion than his appointment over the men of 
war, or the latter expression is to be taken as simply a more general or 
indefinite term, denoting his promotion to the rank of commander-in- 
chief, is a point which can hardly be determined with certainty. 


mean to prophesy in this instance, but " to rave." This use of 
the word is founded upon the ecstatic utterances, in which the 
supernatural influence of the Spirit of God manifested itself in 
the prophets (see at ch. x. 5). ^^l], from ?^D, he hurled the 
javelin, and said (to himself), " / lolll pierce David and the 
vmlir With such force did he hurl his spear ; but David 
turned away from him, i.e. eluded it, twice. His doing so a 
second time presupposes that Saul hurled the javelin twice ; 
that is to say, he probably swung it twice without letting it go 
out of his hand, — a supposition which is raised into certainty 
by the fact that it is not stated here that the javelin entered 
the wall, as in ch. xix. 10. But even with this view ?^) is not 
to be changed into ^'^\, as Thenius proposes, since the verb ?^\ 
cannot be proved to have ever the meaning to swing. Saul 
seems to have held the javelin in his hand as a sceptre, accord- 
ing to ancient custom. — Vers. 12, 13. " And Saul was afraid 
of David, because the Spirit of Jehovah was with him, and had 
departed from Saul ;" he " removed him therefore from him," 
i.e. from his immediate presence, by appointing him chief 
captain over thousand, f In this fear of David on the part of 
Saul, the true reason for his hostile behaviour is pointed out 
with deep psychological truth. The fear arose from the con- 
sciousness that the Lord had departed from him, — a conscious- 
ness 'vvhich forced itself involuntarily upon him, and drove him 
to make the attempt, in a fit of madness, to put David to deathri 
TThe fact that David did not leave Saul immediately after t\ns^ 
attempt upon his life, may be explained not merely on the 
supposition that he looked upon this attack as being simply an 
outburst of momentary madness, which would pass away, but 
still more from his firm believing confidence, which kept him 
from forsaking the post in which the Lord had placed him 
without any act of his own, until he saw that Saul was plotting 
to take his life, not merely in these fits of insanity, but also at 
other times, in calm deliberationl(mc?. ch. xix. 1 sqq.). — Vers. 14 
sqq. As chief commander over thousand, he went out and in 
before the people, i.e. he carried out military enterprises, and 
that so wisely and prosperously, that the blessing of the Lord 
rested upon all he did. But these successes on David's part 
increased Saul's fear of him, whereas all Israel and Judah came 
to love him as their leader. David's success in all that he took 

CHAP, XVIII. 17-30. 191 

in hand compelled Saul to promote liim ; and his standing with 
the people increased with his promotion. But as tlie Spirit of 
God had departed from Saul, this only filled him more and 
more with dread of David as his rival. (As the hand of the 
Lord was visibly displayed in David's success, so, on the other 
hand, Saul's rej^ection by God was manifested in his increasing 
fear of Duvid^f 

Vers. 17-50. Craftiness of Saul in the betrothal of his 
daughters to David. — Vers. 17 sqq. As Saul had promised to 
give his daughter for a wife to the conqueror of Goliath (ch. 
xvii. 25), he felt obliged, by the growing love and attachment 
of the people to David, to fulfil this promise, and told him that 
he was ready to do so, with the hope of finding in this some 
means of destroying David. He therefore offered him his elder 
daughter Merah with words that sounded friendly and kind : 
" Only be a brave man to me, and loage the wars of the J^ord^ 
He called the wars with the Philistines " wars of Jehovah^'' i.e. 
\vars for the maintenance and defence of the kingdom of God, 
to conceal his own cunning design, and make David feel all the 
more sure that the king's heart was only set upon the welfare 
of the kingdom of God. Whoever wao-ed the wars of the 
Lord might also hope for the help of the Lord. But Saul had 
intentions of a very different kind. He thought (" said," sc. to 
himself), " -Mi/ hand shall not be upon him, but let the hand of 
the Philistines be upon him;^' i.e. I will not put him to death; 
the Philistines may do that. When Saul's reason had returned, 
he shrank from laying hands upon David again, as he had done 
before in a fit of madness. He therefore hoped to destroy him 
through the medium of the Phihstines. — Ver. 18. But David 
replied with true humility, without suspecting the craftiness of 
Saul : " Who am I, and what is my condition in life, my father s 
family in Israel, that I should become son-in-law to the kingV^ 
''»n '•D is a difficult expression, and has been translated in 
different ways, as the meaning which suggests itself first (viz. 
^^ what is my life") is neither reconcilable with the ''0 (the 
interrogative personal pronoun), nor suitable to the context. 
Gesenius {Thes. p. 471) and Böttcher give the meaning ^^ people" 
for Ü'".n, and Ewald (Gramm. § 179, b) the meaning '\family." 
But neither of these meaninjrs can be established. Q""n seems 
evidently to signify the condition in life, the relation in which 


a person stands to others, and ""P is to be explained on the 
ground that David referred to tlie persons who formed the 
class to which he belonged, "ilij/ father s family ^^ includes all 
his relations. David's meaning was, that neither on personal 
grounds, nor on account of his social standing, nor because of 
his lineage, could he make the slightest pretension to the honour 
of becoming the son-in-law of the king. — Ver. 19. But Saul 
did not keep his promise. When the time arrived for its fulfil- 
ment, he gave his daughter to Adriel the Meholathite, a man of 
whom nothing further is known.^ — Vei's. 20-24. M'lchal is 
married to David. — The pretext under which Saul broke his 
promise is not given, but it appears to have been, at any rate in 
part, that Merab had no love to David. This may be inferred 
from vers. 17, 18, compared with ver. 20. Michal, the younger 
daughter of Saul, loved David. When Saul was told this, the 
thing was quite right in his eyes. He said, " / loill give her to 
Mm, that she may become a snare to him, and the hand of the 
Philistines may come upon Jiim " (sc. if he tries to get the price 
which I shall require as dowry ; cf. ver. 25). He therefore said 
to David, " In a second ivay (Q^^ii?'?, as in Job xxxiii. 14) shall 
thou become my son-in-law." Saul said this casually to David ; 
but he made no reply, because he had found out the fickleness 
of Saul, and therefore put no further trust in his words. — Ver. 
22. Saul therefore employed his courtiers to persuade David 
to accept his offer. In this way we may reconcile in a very 
simple manner the apparent discrepancy, that Saul is said to 
have offered his daughter to David himself, and yet he com- 
missioned his servants to talk to David privately of the king's 
willingness to give him his daughter. The omission of ver. 215 
in the Septuagint is to be explained partly from the fact that 
DW3 points back to vers. 17-19, which are wanting in this 
version, and partly also in all probability from the idea enter- 
tained by the translators that the statement itself is at variance 
with vers. 22 sqq. The courtiers were to talk to David u^^, 
" in private^' i.e. as though they were doing it behind the king's 
back. — Ver. 23. David replied to the courtiers, " Does it seem 
to you a little thing to become son-in-law to the king, seeing that 1 

1 Vers. 17-19 are omitted from the Septuagint version ; but tliey are so, 
no doubt, only because Saul's first promise was without result so far as 
David was concerned. 

CHAP. XVIII. 17-30. 193 

am a poor and humble man ? " " Poor" i.e. utterly unable to 
offer anything like a suitable dowry to the king. This reply- 
was given by David in perfect sincerity, since he could not 
possibly suppose that the king would give him his daughter 
without a considerable marriage portion. — Vers. 24 sqq. When 
this answer was reported to the king, he sent word through his 
courtiers what the price was for which he would give him his 
daughter. He required no dowry (see at Gen. xxxiv. 12), but 
only a hundred foreskins of the Philistines, i.e. the slaughter of 
a hundred Philistines, and the proof that this had been done, to 
avenge himself upon the enemies of the king ; whereas, as the 
writer observes, Saul supposed that he should thus cause David 
to fall, i.e. bring about his death by the hand of the Philistines. 
— Vers. 26, 27. But David was satisfied with Saul's demand, 
since he had no suspicion of his craftiness, and loved Michal. 
Even before the days were full, i.e. before the time appointed 
for the delivery of the dowry and for the marriage had arrived, 
he rose up with his men, smote two hundred Philistines, and 
brought their foreskins, which were placed in their full number 
before the king ; whereupon Saul was obliged to give him 
Michal his daughter to wife. The words " and the days were 
not fuW (ver. 26) form a circumstantial clause, which is to be 
connected with the following sentence, " David arose^^ etc. 
David delivered twice the price demanded. " Tliey made them 
full to the king" i.e. they placed them in their full number 
before him. — Vers. 28, 29. The knowledge of the fact that 
David had carried out all his enterprises with, success had 
already filled the melancholy king with fear. [But when the 
failure of this new plan for devoting David to certain death 
had forced the conviction upon him that Jehovah was with 
David, and that he was miraculously protected by Him ; and 
when, in addition to this, there was the love of his daughter 
Michal to David ; his fear of David grew into a lifelong enmity^ 
Thus his evil spirit urged^him ever forward to greater and 
greater hardness of heart.-j— Ver. 30. The occasion for the 
practical manifestation of this enmity was the success of David 
in all his engagements with the Philistines. As often as the 
princes of the Philistines went out {sc. to war with Israel), 
David acted more wisely and prosperously than all the servants 
T»f Saul, so that his name was held in great honour. With this 



general remark the way is prepared for the further history of 
Saul's conduct towards David. 

Jonathan's intercession for david. saul's renewed 


Vers. 1-7. Jonathan warded off the first outbreak of deadly 
enmity on the part of Saul towards David. |When Saul spoke 
to his son Jonathan and all his servants about his intention to 
kill David OH""^ ^V^?, i-e- not that they should kill David, 
but " that he intended to kill him"), Jonathan reported this to 
David, because he was greatly attached to him, and gave him 
this advlcej " Take heed to thyself in the morning ; keep thyself 
in a secret place, and hide thyself. I will go out and stand beside 
my father in the field where thou art, and I will talk to my father 
about thee (? "i^l, as in Deut. vi. 7, Ps. Ixxxvii. 3, etc., to talk 
of or about a person), and see tohat {sc. he will say), and show 
it to thee." David was to conceal himself in the field near to 
where Jonathan would converse with his father about him ; not 
that he might hear the conversation in his hiding-place, but 
that Jonathan might immediately report to him the result of his 
conversation, without there being any necessity for going far 
away from his father, so as to excite suspicion that he was in 
league with David. — Vers. 4, 5. Jonathan then endeavoured 
with all the modesty of a son to point out most earnestly to his 
father the grievous wickedness involved in his conduct towards 
David. " Let not the king sin against his servant, against David; 
for he hath not sinned against thee, and his works are very good 
(i.e. very useful) to thee. He hath risked his life (see at Judg. 
xii. 3), and smitten the Philistines, and Jehovah hath wrought 
a great salvation of all Israel. Thou hast seen it, and rejoiced ; 
and wherefore wilt thou sin against innocent blood, to slay David 
without a cause V — Vers. 6, 7. These words made an impression 
upon Saul. He swore, " -4s Jehovah liveth, he (David) shall not 
be put to death;" whereupon Jonathan reported these words to 
David, and brought him to Saul, so that he was with him again 
as before. But this reconciliation, unfortunately, did not last 

Vers. 8-17. Another great defeat which David had inflicted 

CHAP. XIX. 8-17. 195 

upon the Philistines excited Saul to such an extent, that in a 
fit of insanity he endeavoured to pierce David with his javelin 
as he was playing before him. The words Ruach Jehovah 
describe the attack of madness in which Saul threw the javelin 
at David according to its higher cause, and that, as implied in 
the words Ruach Jehovah in contrast with Ruach Elohim (ch. 
xviii. 10, xvi. 15), as inflicted upon him by Jehovah. The 
thought expressed is, thatllthe growth of Saul's melancholy was 
a sign of the hardness of heart to which Jehovah had given 
him up on account of his impenitence.l David happily escaped 
this javelin also. He slipped away from Saul, so that he hurled 
the javelin into the wall ; whereupon David fled and escaped the 
same night, i.e. the night after this occurrence. This remark 
somewhat anticipates the course of the events, as the author, 
according to the custom of Hebrew historians, gives the result 
at once, and then proceeds to describe in detail the more exact 
order of the events. — Ver. 11. " Saul sent messengers to David's 
house" to which David had first fled, " to watch him (that he 
might not get away again), and to put him to death in the (next) 
morning." T^Iichal made him acquainted with this danger, and 
then let him down through the window, so that he escaped.J 
The danger in which David was at that time is described by 
him in Ps. lix., from which we may see how Saul was sur- 
rounded by a number of cowardly courtiers, who stirred up his 
hatred against David, and were busily engaged in getting the 
dreaded rival out of the way. — Vers. 13, 14. Michal then took 
the teraphimy — i.e. in all probability an image of the household 
gods of the size of life, and, judging from what follows, in 
human form, — laid it in the bed, and put a piece of woven goats' 
hair at his head, i.e. either round or over the head of the image, 
and covered it with the garment (beged, the upper garment, which 
was generally only a square piece of cloth for wrapping round), 
and told the messengers whom Saul had sent to fetch him that 
he was ill. Michal probably kept teraphim in secret, like 
Rachel, because of her barrenness (see at Gen. xxxi. 19). The 
meaning of ^""^H.^ "'"'^3 is doubtful. The earlier translators took 
it to mean goat-skin, with the exception of the Seventy, who 
confounded "f^S with 132^ liver, upon which Josephus founds 
his account of Michal having placed a still moving goat's liver 
in the bed, to make the messengers believe that there was a 


breathing invalid beneath. 'T'^3, from "i?3, signifies something 
woven, and D''W goats' hair, as in Ex. xxv. 4. But it is impos- 
sible to decide with certainty what purpose the cloth of goats' 
hair was to serve ; whether it was merely to cover the head of 
the teraphim with hair, and so make it like a human head, or to 
cover the head and face as if of a person sleeping. The definite 
article not only before ^"'S^Pi and 153, but also with D''^J?n Tins, 
suggests the idea that all these things belonged to Michal's house 
furniture, and that D'''[y 1''33 was probably a counterpane made 
of goats' hair, with which persons in the East are in the habit of 
covering the head and face when sleeping. — Vers. 15 sqq. But 
when Saul sent the messengers again to see David, and that 
with the command, '' Bring him up to me in the bed" and when 
they only found the teraphim in the bed, and Saul charged 
Michal with this act of deceit, she replied, " He (David) said to 
me, Let me go ; lohy should I kill thee V — ^' Behold, teraphim 
were (laid) in the bed." The vei'b can be naturally supplied 
from ver. 13. In the words " Why should I kill thee?" Michal 
intimates that she did not mean to let David escape, but was 
obliged to yield to his threat that he would kill her if she 
continued to refuse. This prevarication she seems to have 
considered perfectly justifiable. 

Vers. 18-24. David fled to Samuel at Ramah, and reported 
to him all that Saul had done, partly to seek for further advice 
from the prophet who had anointed him, as to his further 
course, and partly to strengthen himself, by intercourse with 
him, for the troubles that still awaited him. He therefore went 
along with Samuel, and dwelt with him in Naioth. JT'IJ (to be 
read n^13 according to the Chethibh, for which the Masoretes 
have substituted the form nVJ, vers. 19, 23, and xx. 1), from 
nw or ni^^ signifies dwellings ; but here it is in a certain sense a 
proper name, applied to the coenobium of the pupils of the 
prophets, who had assembled round Samuel in the neighbour- 
hood of Ramah. The plural n^13 points to the fact, that this 
coenobium consisted of a considerable number of dwelling- 
places or houses, connected together by a hedge or wall. — 
Vers. 19, 20. When Saul was told where this place was, he sent 
messengers to fetch David. But as soon as the messengers saw 
the company of prophets prophesying, and Samuel standing 
there as their leader, the Spirit of God came upon them, so that 


CHAP, XIX. 18-24. 197 

they also prophesied. The singular fr?"111 is certainly very striking 
here ; but it is hardly to be regarded as merely a copyist's error 
for the plural 'i^'}--' because it is extremely improbable that 
such an error as this should have found universal admission 
into the MSS. ; so that it is in all probability to be taken as the 
original and correct reading, and understood either as relating 
to the leader of the messengers, or as used because the whole 
company of messengers were regarded as one body. The 
aTT. X.67. ni^np signifies, according to the ancient versions, an 
assembly, equivalent to ^^i]?., from which it arose according to 
Kimchi and other Rabbins by simple inversion. — Ver. 21. The 
same thing happened to a second and third company of mes- 
sengers, whom Saul sent one after another when the thing was 
reported to him. — Vers. 22 sqq. Saul tlien set out to Ramah 
himself, and inquired, as soon as he had arrived at the great pit 
at Sechu (a place near Ramah with which we are not acquainted), 
where Samuel and David were, and went, according to the 
answer he received, to the Naioth at Ramah. There the Spirit 
of God came upon him also, so that he went along prophesying, 
until he came to the Naioth at Ramah ; and there he even took 
off his clothes, and prophesied before Samuel, and lay there 
naked all that day, and the whole night as well. Qi"'^, yvfjiv6<;, 
does not always signify complete nudity, but is also applied to 
a person with his upper garment off (cf. Isa. xx. 2 ; Älicah i. 
8 ; John xxi. 7). From the repeated expression " he also,'' 
in vers. 23, 24, it is not only evident that Saul came into an 
ecstatic condition of prophesying as well as his servants, but that 
the prophets themselves, and not merely the servants, took off 
their clothes like Saul when they prophesied. It is only in the 
case of D^y ?B*1 that the expression " he also" is not repeated ; 
from which we must infer, that Saul alone lay there the whole 
day and night with his clothes off, and in an ecstatic state of 
external unconsciousness ; whereas the ecstasy of his servants 
and the prophets lasted only a short time, and the clear self- 
consciousness returned earlier than with Saul. This difference 
IS not without significance in relation to the true explanation of 
the whole affair. Saul had experienced a similar influence of 
the Spirit of God before, namely, immediately after his anoint- 
ing by Samuel, when he met a company of prophets who were 
prophesying at Gibeah, and he had been thereby changed into 


another man (ch. x. 6 sqq.). This miraculous seizure by the 
Spirit of God was repeated again here, when he came near to 
the seat of tlie prophets ; and it also affected the servants whom 
he had sent to apprehend David, so that Saul was obliged to 
relinquish the attempt to seize him. This result, however, we 
cannot regard as the principal object of the whole occurrence, 
as Vatablus does when he says, " The spirit of prophecy came 
into Saul, that David might the more easily escape from his 
power." (Calvin's remarks go much deeper into the meaning : 
" God," liS"says, " changed their (the messengers') thoughts and 
purpose, not only so that they failed to apprehend David accord- 
ing to the royal command, but so that they actually became the 
companions of the prophets. And God effected this, that the 
fact itself might show how He holds the hearts of men in His 
hand and power, and turns and moves them according to His 
will." Even this, however, does not bring out the full meaning 
of the miracle, and more especially fails to explain why the 
same thing should have happened to Saul in an intensified 
degree. Upon this point Calvin simply observes, that " Saul 
ought indeed to have been strongly moved by these things, and 
to have discerned the impossibility of his accomplishing any- 
thing by fighting against the Lord ; but he was so hardened 
that he did not perceive the hand of God : for he hastened to 
Naioth himself, when he found that his servants mocked him ;" 
and in this proceeding on Saul's part he discovers a sign of his 
increasing hardness of heart. Saul and his messengers, the 
zealous performers of his will, ought no doubt to have learned, 
from what happened to them in the presence of the prophets, 
that God had the hearts of men in His power, and guided them 
at His will ; but they were also to be seized by the might of the 
Spirit of God, which worked in the prophets, and thus brought 
to the consciousness, that Saul's raging against David was 
fighting against Jehovah and His Spirit, and so to be led to 
give up the evil thoughts of their heart. Saul was seized by 
this mighty influence of the Spirit of God in a more powerful 
manner than his servants were, both because he had most obsti- 
nately resisted the leadings of divine grace, and also in order 
that, if it were possible, his hard heart might be broken and 
subdued by the power of grace. If, however, he should never- 
theless continue obstinately in his rebellion against God, ho 


CHAP. XIX. 18-24. 199 

would then fall under the judgment of hardening, which would 
be speedily followed by his destructionJ* This new occurrence in 
Saul's life occasioned a renewal of the proverb : " Is Saul also 
among the prophets ?" The words " wherefore they say^^ do not 
imply that the proverb was first used at this time, but only that 
it received a new exemplification and basis in the new event in 
Saul's experience. The origin of it has been already mentioned 
in ch. X. 12, and the meaning of it was there explained. 

This account is also worthy of note, as having an important 
bearing upon the so-called Schools of the Prophets in the time 
of Samuel, to which, however, we have only casual allusions. 
From the passage before us we learn that there was a company 
of prophets at Kamah, under the superintendence of Samuel, 
whose members lived in a common building (n^lJ), and that 
Samuel had his own house at Ramah (ch. vii. 17), though he 
sometimes lived in the Naioth (cf. vers. 18 sqq.). The origin 
and history of these schools are involved in obscurity. If we 
bear in mind, that, according to ch. iii. 1, before the call of 
Samuel as prophet, the prophetic word was very rare in Israel, 
and prophecy was not widely spread, there can be no doubt 
that these unions of prophets arose in the time of Samuel, and 
were called into existence by him. The only uncertainty is 
whether there were other such unions in different parts of the 
land beside the one at Ramah. In ch. x. 5, 10, we find a band 
of prophesying prophets at Gibeah, coming down from the 
sacrificial height there, and going to meet Saul ; but it is not 
stated there that this company had its seat at Gibeah, although 
it may be inferred as probable, from the name " Gibeah of GocV 
(see the commentary on ch. x. 5, G). No further mention is 
made of these in the time of Samuel ; nor do we meet with 
them again till the times of Elijah and Elisha, when we find 
them, under the name of sons of the prophets (1 Kings xx. 35), 
living in considerable numbers at Gilgal, Bethel, and Jericho 
{viJ. 2 Kings iv. 38, ii. 3, 5, 7, 15, iv. 1, vi. 1, ix. 1). Accord- 
ing to ch. iv. 38, 42, 43, about a hundred sons of the prophets 
sat before Elisha at Gilgal, and took their meals tofrether. The 
number at Jericho may have been quite as great; for fifty men 
of the sons of the prophets went with Elijah and Elisha to the 
Jordan (comp. ch. ii. 7 with vers. IG, 17). These passages 
render it very probable that the sons of the prophets also lived 


in a common house. And this conjecture is raised into a cer* 
tainty by ch. vi. 1 sqq. In this passage, for example, they are 
represented as saying to EHsha : " The place where we sit before 
thee is too strait for us ; let us go to the Jordan, and let each 
one fetch thence a beam, and build ourselves a place to dwell in 
there.'-' It is true that we might, if necessary, supply ^''^^'r from 
ver. 1, after ^^ ^?^^, " to sit before thee," and so understand 
the words as merely referring to the erection of a more com- 
modious place of meeting. But if they built it by the Jordan, 
we can hardly imagine that it was merely to serve as a place 
of meeting, to which they would have to make pilgrimages from 
a distance, but can only assume that they intended to live there, 
and assemble together under the superintendence of a prophet. 
In all probability, however, only such as were unmarried lived 
in a common building. Many of them were married, and there- 
fore most likely lived in houses of their own (2 Kings iv. 1 sqq.). 
We may also certainly assume the same with reference to the 
unions of prophets in the time of Samuel, even if it is impos- 
sible to prove that these unions continued uninterruptedly from 
the time of Samuel down to the times of Elijah and Elisha. 
Oehler argues in support of this, " that the historical connec- 
tion, which can be traced in the influence of prophecy from 
the time of Samuel forwards, may be most easily explained 
from the uninterrupted continuance of these supports ; and also 
that the large number of prophets, who must have been already 
there according to 1 Kings xviii. 13 when Elijah first appeared, 
points to the existence of such unions as these." But the his- 
torical connection in the influence of prophecy, or, in other 
words, the uninterrupted succession of prophets, was also to be 
found in the kingdom of Judah both before and after the times 
of Elijah and Elisha, and down to the Babylonian captivity, 
without our discovering the slightest trace of any schools of the 
prophets in that kingdom. All that can be inferred from 
1 Kings xviii. is, that the large number of prophets mentioned 
there (vers. 4 and 13) were living in the time of Elijah, but not 
that they were there when he first appeared. The first mission 
of Elijah to king Ahab (ch. xvii.) took place about three years 
before the events described in 1 Kings xviii., and even this first 
appearance of the prophet in the presence of the king is not to 
be regarded as the commencement of his prophetic labours. 


CHAP, XIX. 18-24. 201 

How long Elijah had laboured before he announced to Ah ab 
the judgment of three years' drought, cannot indeed be decided ; 
but if we consider that he received instructions to call Elisha 
to be his assistant and successor not very long after this period 
of judgment had expired (1 Kings xix. 16 sqq.), we may cer- 
tainly assume that he had laboured in Israel for many years, 
and may therefore have founded unions of the prophets. In 
addition, however, to the absence of any allusion to the con- 
tinuance of these schools of the prophets, there is another thing 
which seems to preclude the idea that they were perpetuated 
from the time of Samuel to that of Elijah, viz. the fact that 
the schools which existed under Elijah and Elisha were only to 
be found in the kingdom of the ten tribes, and never in that of 
Judah, where we should certainly expect to find them if they had 
been handed down from Samuel's time. Moreover, Oehler also 
acknowledges that " the design of the schools of the prophets, and 
apparently their constitution, were not the same under Samuel 
as in the time of Elijah." This is confirmed by the fact, that 
the members of the prophets' unions which arose under Samuel 
are never called " sons of the prophets," as those who were 
under the superintendence of Elijah and Elisha invariably are 
(see the passages quoted above). Does not this peculiar epithet 
seem to indicate, that the " sons of the prophets" stood in a 
much more intimate relation to Elijah and Elisha, as their 
spiritual fathers, than the Q'^^'n^n bn or D'^5'33^l ni^n^ did to 
Samuel as their president ? (1 Sam. xix. 20.) D''X''33n ''33 does 
not mean filii prophetce, i.e. sons who are prophets, as some 
maintain, though without being able to show that ""JS is ever 
used in this sense, but ßlii prophetarum, disciples or scholars of 
the prophets, from which it is very evident that these sons of 
the prophets stood in a relation of dependence to the prophets 
(Elijah and Elisha), i.e. of subordination to them, and followed 
their instructions and admonitions. They received commissions 
from them, and carried them out (vid. 2 Kings ix. 1). On the 
other hand, the expressions /Sn and n[5n7 simply point to com- 
binations for common working under the presidency of Samuel, 
although the words ^^y.^. 3^*^ certainly show that the direction 
of these unions, and probably the first impulse to form them, 
proceeded from Samuel, so that we might also call these societies 
schools of the prophets. 


The opinions entertained with regard to the nature of these 
unions, and their importance in relation to the development of 
the kingdom of God in Israel, differ very widely from one 
another. Whilst some of the fathers (Jerome for example) 
looked upon them as an Old Testament order of monks ; others, 
such as Tennemann, Meiners, and Winer, compare them to the 
Pythagorean societies. Kranichfeld supposes that they were 
free associations, and chose a distinguished prophet like Samuel 
as their president, in order that they might be able to cement 
their union the more firmly through his influence, and carry out 
their vocation with the greater success.^ The truth lies between 
these two extremes. The latter view, which precludes almost 
every relation of dependence and community, is not reconcilable 
with the name " sons of the prophets," or with ch. xix. 20, where 
Samuel is said to have stood at the head of the prophesying 
prophets as CjnvJ? Di'3, and has no support whatever in the 
Scriptures, but is simply founded upon the views of modern 
times and our ideas of liberty and equality. The prophets' 
unions had indeed so far a certain resemblance to the monastic 
orders of the early church, that the members lived together in 
the same buildings, and performed certain sacred duties in 
common ; but if we look into the aim and purpose of monas- 
ticism, they were the very opposite of those of the prophetic 
life. The prophets did not wish to withdraw from the tumult 
of the world into solitude, for the purpose of carrying on a 
contemplative life of holiness in this retirement from the earthly 
life and its affairs ; but their unions were associations formed 
for the purpose of mental and spiritual training, that they 
might exert a more powerful influence upon their contem- 
poraries. They were called into existence by chosen instru- 
ments of the Lord, such as Samuel, Elijah, and Elisha, whom 
the Lord had called to be His prophets, and endowed with a 
peculiar measure of His Spirit for this particular calling, that 
they might check the decline of religious life in the nation, 
and bring back the rebellious " to the law and the testimony." 

^ Compare Jerome (Epht. iv. ad Rustic. Munncli. c. 7) : "The sons of 
the prophets, whom we call the monks of the Old Testament, built them- 
selves cells near the streams of the Jordan, and, forsaking the crowded 
cities, lived on meal and wild terbs." Compare with this his Epist. siii. 
ad Paidin^ c. 5. 

CHAP. XIX. 18-24. 203 

Societies which follow this as their purpose in life, so long as 
they do not lose sight of it, will only separate and cut them- 
selves off from the external world, so far as the world itself 
opposes them, and pursues them with hostility and persecution. 
The name " schools of the prophets" is the one which expresses 
most fully the character of these associations ; only we must 
not think of them as merely educational institutions, in which 
the pupils of the prophets received instruction in prophesying 
or in theological studies.^ We are not in possession indeed of 
any minute information concerning their constitution. Pro- 
phesying could neither be taught nor communicated by instruc- 
tion, but was a gift of God which He communicated according 
to His free w'ill to whomsoever He would. But the communi- 
cation of this divine gift was by no means an arbitrary thing, 
but presupposed such a mental and spiritual disposition on the 
part of the recipient as fitted him to receive it ; whilst the 
exercise of the gift required a thorough acquaintance with the 
law and the earlier revelations of God, which the schools of 
the prophets were well adapted to promote. It is therefore 
justly and generally assumed, that the study of the law and of 
the history of the divine guidance of Israel formed a leading 
feature in the occupations of the pupils of the prophets, which 
also included the cultivation of sacred poetry and music, and 
united exercises for the promotion of the prophetic inspiration. 
That the study of the earlier revelations of God was carried on, 
may be very safely inferred from the fact that from the time 
of Samuel downwards the writing of sacred history formed an 
essential part of the prophet's labours, as has been already 
observed at vol. iv. pp. 9, 10 (translation). The cultivation of 
sacred music and poetry may be inferred partly from the fact 
that, according to ch. x. 5, musicians walked in front of the 

^ Thus the Rabbins regarded them as KHTO ""fia ; and the earlier theo- 

T ; • ** T 

logians as colleges, in which, as Vitringa expresses it, "philosophers, or if 
you please theologians, and candidates or students of theology, assembled 
for the purpose of devoting themselves assiduously to the study of divinity 
under the guidance of some one who was well skilled as a teacher ;" whilst 
others regarded them as schools for the training of teachers for the people, 
and leaders in the worship of God. The English Deists — Morgan for ex- 
ample — regarded them as seats of scientific learning, in which the study 
of history, rhetoric, poetry, natural science, and moral philosophy waa 
carried on. 


prophesying prophets, playing as they went along, and partly 
also from the fact that sacred music not only received a fresh 
impulse from David, who stood in a close relation to the asso- 
ciation of prophets at Ramah, but was also raised by him into 
an integral part of public worship. At the same time, music 
was by no means cultivated merely that the sons of the prophets 
might employ it in connection with their discourses, but also as 
means of awakening holy susceptibilities and emotions in the 
soul, and of lifting up the spirit to God, and so preparing it 
for the reception of divine revelations (see at 2 Kings iii. 15). 
And lastly, we must include among the spiritual exercises pro- 
phesying in companies, as at Gibeah (ch. x. 5) and Ramah (ch. 
xix. 20). 

The outward occasion for the formation of these commu- 
nities we have to seek for partly in the creative spirit of the 
prophets Samuel and Elijah, and partly in the circumstances 
of the times in which they lived. The time of Samuel forms a 
turning-point in the development of the Old Testament kingdom 
of God. Shortly after the call of Samuel the judgment fell 
upon the sanctuary, which had been profaned by the shameful 
conduct of the priests : the tabernacle lost the ark of the cove- 
nant, and ceased in consequence to be the scene of the gracious 
presence of God in Israel. Thus the task fell upon Samuel, as 
prophet of the Lord, to found a new house for that religious 
life which he had kindled, by collecting together into closer com- 
munities, those who had been awakened by his word, not only for 
the promotion of their own faith under his direction, but also for 
joining with him in the spread of the fear of God and obedience 
to the law of the Lord among their contemporaries. But just 
as, in the time of Samuel, it was the fall of the legal sanctuary 
and priesthood which created the necessity for the founding of 
schools of the prophets ; so in the times of Elijah and Elisha, 
and in the kingdom of the ten tribes, it was the utter absence 
of any sanctuary of Jehovah which led these prophets to found 
societies of prophets, and so furnish the worshippers of Jehovah, 
who would not bend their knees to Baal, with places and means 
of edification, as a substitute for what the righteous in the 
kingdom of Judah possessed in the temple and the Levitical 
priesthood. But the reasons for the establishment of prophets' 
schools were not to be found merely in the circumstances of 

CHAP. XIX. 18-24. 205 

the times. There was a higher reason still, which must not 
be overlooked in our examination of these unions, and their 
importance in relation to the theocracy. We may learn from 
the fact that the disciples of the prophets who were associated 
together under Samuel are found prophesying (ch. x. 10, xix. 
20), that they were also seized by the Spirit of God, and that 
the Divine Spirit which moved them exerted a powerful influ- 
ence upon all who came into contact with them. Consequently 
the founding of associations of prophets is to be regarded as an 
operation of divine grace, which is generally manifested with 
all the greater might where sin most mightily abounds. As 
the Lord raised up prophets for His people at the times when 
apostasy had become great and strong, that they might resist 
idolatry with almighty power ; so did Pie also create for himself 
organs of His Spirit in the schools of the prophets, who united 
with their spiritual fathers in fighting for His honour. It was 
by no means an accidental circumstance, therefore, that these 
unions are only met with in the times of Samuel and of the 
prophets Elijah and Elislia. These times resembled one another 
in the fact, that in both of them idolatry had gained the upper 
hand ; though, at the same time, there were some respects in 
which they differed essentially from one another. In the time 
of Samuel the people did not manifest the same hostility to the 
prophets as in the time of Elijah. Samuel stood at the head 
of the nation as judge even during the reign of Saul; and after 
the rejection of the latter, he still stood so high in authority 
and esteem, that Saul never ventured to attack the prophets 
even in his madness. Elijah and Elisha, on the other hand, 
stood opposed to a royal house which was bent upon making 
the worship of Baal the leading religion of the kingdom ; and 
they had to contend against priests of calves and prophets of 
Baal, who could only be compelled by hard strokes to acknow- 
ledge the Lord of Sabaoth and His prophets. In the case of 
the former, what had to be done was to bring the nation to a 
recognition of its apostasy, to foster the new life which was just 
awakening, and to remove whatever hindrances might be placed 
in its way by the monarchy. In the time of the latter, on the 
contrary, what was needed was " a compact phalanx to stand 
against the corruption which had penetrated so deeply into the 
nation." These differences in the times would certainly not bo 


without their influence upon the constitution and operations of 
the schools of the prophets. 

Jonathan's last attempt to reconcile his father to 
david. — chap. xx.-xxi. 1. 

Vers. 1-11. After the occurrence which had taken place at 
Naioth, David fled thenpe and met with Jonathan, to whom he 
poured out his heart.^ (Though he had been delivered for the 
moment from the death which threatened him, through the mar- 
vellous influence of the divine inspiration of the prophets upon 
Saul and his messengers, he could not find in this any lasting 
protection from the plots of his mortal enemy.) He therefore 
sought for his friend Jonathan, and complained to him, " What 
have I done 1 what is my crime, my sin before thy father, that 
he seeks my life ? " — Ver. 2. Jonathan endeavoured to pacify 
him : " Far be it I thou shalt not die : behold, my father does no- 
tiling great or small {i.e. not the smallest thing ; cf . ch. xxv. 36 
and Num. xxii. 18) that lie does not reveal to me; why should my 
father hide this thing from me ? It is not so." The \? after i^^*} 
stands for N? : the Chethibh nbV is probably to be preferred to 
the Keti i^^Vl, and to be understood in this sense : " My father 
has (hitherto) done nothing at all, which he has not told to me." 
This answer of Jonathan does not presuppose that he knew 
nothing of the occurrences described in ch. xix. 9-24, although 
it is possible enough that he might not have been with his father 
just at that time ; but it is easily explained from the fact that 
Saul had made the fresh attack upon David's life in a state of 
madness, in which he was no longer master of himself ; so that 
it could not be inferred with certainty from this that he would 

^ According to Ewald and Thenius, this chapter was not written by the 
author of the previous one, but was borrowed from an earlier source, and 
ver. 1 was inserted by the compiler to connect the two together. But the 
principal reason for this conjecture — namely, that David could never have 
thought of sitting at the royal table again after what had taken place, and 
that Saul would still less have expected him to come — is overthrown by the 
simple suggestion, that all that Saul had hitherto attempted against David, 
according to ch. xix. 8 sqq., had been done in fits of insanity (cf. ch. xix. 
9 sqq.), which had passed away again ; so that it formed no criterion by 
which to judge of Saul's actual feelings towards David when he was in a 
state of mental sanity. 

CHAP. XX. 1-11. 207 

still plot against David's life in a state of clear consciousness. 
[Hitherto Saul had no doubt talked over all his plans and under- 
takings with Jonathan, but he had not uttered a single word to 
him about his deadly hatred, or his intention of killing David ; 
so that Jonathan might really have regarded his previous 
attacks upon David's life as nothing niore than symptoms of 
temporary aberration of mind^.— Ver. 3^^ Bat David had looked 
deeper into Saul's hearts He replied with an oath (" he sware 
again," i.e. a second time), " Thi/ father knoioeth that I have 
found favour in thine eyes (i.e. that thou art attached to me) ; 
and ihinketh Jonathan shall not know this, lest he be grieved. 
But truly, as surely as Jehovah liveth, and thy soul liveth, there is 
hardly a step (lit. about a step) between me and death." "'S in- 
troduces the substance of the oath, as in ch. xiv. 44, etc. — Ver. 
4. When Jonathan answered, " What thy soul saith, ivill I do to 
thee," i.e. fulfil every wish, David made this request, " Behold, 
to-morrow is new moon, and I ought to sit and eat with the king : 
let me go, that I may conceal myself in the field (i.e. in the open 
air) till the third evening" This request implies that Saul gave 
a feast at the new moon, and therefore that the new moon was 
not merely a religious festival, according to the law in Num. 
X. 10, xxviii. 11-15, but that it was kept as a civil festival also, 
and in the latter character for two days ; as we may infer both 
from the fact that David reckoned to the third evening, i.e. 
the evening of the third day from the day then present, and 
therefore proposed to hide himself on the new moon's day and 
the day following, and also still more clearly from vers. 12, 27, 
and 34, where Saul is said to have expected David at table on 
the day after the new moon. We cannot, indeed, conclude 
from this that there was a religious festival of two days' dura- 
tion ; nor does it follow, that because Saul supposed that David 
might have absented himself on the first day on account of 
Levitical uncleanness (ver. 26), therefore the royal feast was a 
sacrificial meal. . It was evidently contrary to social propriety 
to take part in a public feast in a state of Levitical uncleanness, 
even though it is not expressly forbidden in the law. — Ver. 6. 
" If thy father should miss me, then say, David hath asked per- 
mission of me to hasten to Bethlehem, his native town; for there is 
a yearly sacrifice for the whole family there.'^ This ground of 
excuse shows that families and households were accustomed to 


keep united sacrificial feasts once a year. According to the Haw 
in Deut. xii. 5 sqq., they ought to have been kept at the taber- 
nacle ; but at this time, when the central sanctuary had fallen 
into disuse, they were held in different places, wherever there 
were altars of Jehovah — as, for example, at Bethlehem (cf. ch. 
xvi. 2 sqq.). We see from these words tliat David did not look 
upon prevarication as a sin. — Ver. 7. ^'' If thy father says, It is 
ivell, there is peace to thy servant {i.e. he cherishes no murderous 
thoughts against me) ; but if he be very loroih, knoio that evil is 
determined by him^ n73, to be completed ; hence to be firmly 
and unalterably determined (cf. ch. xxv. 17; Esther vii. 7). Seb. 
Schmidt infers from the closing words that the fact was certain 
enough to David, but not to Jonathan. Thenius, on the other 
hand, observes much more correctly, that "it is perfectly obvious 
from this that David was not quite clear as to Saul's intentions," 
though he upsets his own previous assertion, that after what 
David had gone through, he could never think of sitting again 
at the king's table as he had done before. — Ver. 8. David made 
sure that Jonathan would grant this request on account of his 
friendship, as he had brought him into a covenant of Jehovah 
with himself. David calls the covenant of friendship with 
Jonathan (ch. xviii. 3) a covenant of Jehovah, because he had 
made it with a solemn invocation of Jehovah. But in order to 
make quite sure of the fulfilment of his request on the part of 
Jonathan, David added, " But if there is a fault in me, do thou 
kill me ('"1^^ used to strengthen the suffix) ; for ichy loilt thou 
bring me to thy father ? " sc. that he may put me to death. — 
Ver. 9. Jonathan replied, " This be far from thee!" sc. that I 
should kill thee, or deliver thee up to my father. '^Y-^ points 
back to what precedes, as in ver. 2. " But ("'S after a previous 
negative assertion) if I certainly discover that evil is determined 
by my father to come upon thee, and I do not tell it thee^^ sc. 
" may God do so to me," etc. The words are to be understood 
as an asseveration on oath, in which the formula of an oath is 
to be supplied in thought. This view is apparently a more 
correct one, on account of the cop. 1 before VO, than to take 
the last clause as a question, " Shall I not tell it thee ? " — Ver. 
10. To this friendly assurance David replied, " Who will tell 
me ? " sc. how thy father expresses himself concerning me ; " or 
what will thy father answer thee roughly ? " sc. if thou shouldst 

CHAP. XX. 12-23. 209 

attempt to do it thyself. This is the correct explanation given 
by De "Wette and Maurer. Gesenius and Thenius, on the con- 
trary, take iX in the sense of " if perchance." But this is evi- 
dently incorrect ; for even though there are certain passages in 
which ix may be so rendered, it is only where some other case 
is supposed, and therefore the meaning or still lies at the foun- 
dation. |These questions of David were suggested by a correct 
estimate T)f the circumstances, namely, that Saul's suspicions 
would leave him to the conclusion that there was some under- 
standing between Jonathan and David, and that he would take 
steps in consequence to prevent Jonathan from making David 
acquainted with the result of his conversation with Saul. — Ver. 
11. Before replying to these questions, Jonathan asked David 
to go with him to the field, that they might there fix upon the 
sign by which he would let him know, in a way in which no 
one could suspect, what was the state of his father's mind) 

Vers. 12-23. In the field, where they were both entirely 
free from observation, Jonathan first of all renewed his cove- 
nant with David, by vowing to him on oath that he would give 
him information of his father's feelings towards him (vers. 12, 
13) ; and then entreated him, with a certain presentiment that 
David would one day be king, even then to maintain his love 
towards him and his family for ever (vers. 14-16) ; and lastly, 
he made David swear again concerning his love (ver. 17), and 
then gave him the sign by which he would communicate the 
promised information (vers. 18-23). — Vers. 12 and 13a are 
connected. Jonathan commences with a solemn invocation of 
God : ^^ Jehovah, God of IsraelV and thus introduces his oath. 
We have neither to supply "Jehovah is witness" nor "as truly 
as Jehovah liveth" as some have suggested. " When I inquire 
of my father about this time to-morrow, the day after to-morrow 
(a concise mode of saying 'to-morrow or the day after'), and 
behold it is (stands) well for David, and then I do not send to 
thee and make it knoxon to thee, Jehovah shall do so to Jonathan" 
etc. w'' The Lord do sq," etc., the ordinary formula used in an 
oath : see ch. xiv. 44). ) The other case is then added without 
an adversative particle : " If it should please my father evil 
against thee {lit. as regards evil), 1 will make it known to thee, 
and let thee go, that thou mayest go in peace ; and Jehovah be 
with thee, as He has been with my father" In this wish there is 



expressed the presentiment that David would one day occupy 
that place in Israel which Saul occupied then, i.e. the throne^ 
— ^In vers. 14 and 15 the Masoretic text gives no appropriate 
meaninff. Luther's renderin£j, in which he follows the Rabbins 
and takes the first N?1 (ver. 14) by itself, and then completes 
the sentence from the context (" but if I do it not, show me no 
mercy, because I live, not even if I die"), contains indeed a 
certain permissible sense when considered in itself; but it is 
hardly reconcilable with what follows, " and do not tear away 
thy compassion for ever from my house.^^ The request that he 
would show no compassion to him (Jonathan) even if he died, 
and yet would not withdraw his compassion from his house for 
ever, contains an antithesis which would have been expressed 
most clearly and unambiguously in the words themselves, if this 
had been really what Jonathan intended to say. De Wette's 
rendering gives a still more striking contradiction : " But let not 
(Jehovah be with thee) if I still live, and thou showest not the 
love of Jehovah to me, that I die not, and thou luiihdraioest not 
thy love from my house for ever^ There is really no other 
course open than to follow the Syriac and Arabic, as Maurer, 
Thenius, and Ewald have done, and change the ^\ in the first 
two clauses of ver. 14 into vl or N^l, according to the analogy 
of the form ^h (ch. xiv. 30), and to render the passage thus : 
*•' And mayest thou, if I still live, mayest thou show to me the 
favour of the Lord, and not if I die, not withdraw thy favour 
from my house for ever, not even (N^l) when Jehovah shall cut 
off the enemies of David, every one from the face of the earth !" 
" The favour of Jehovah " is favour such as Jehovah shows to 
His people. The expression " when Jehovah shall cut off," 
etc., shows very clearly Jonathan's conviction that Jehovah 
would give to David a victory over all his enemies.j—Yer. 
16. Thus Jonathan concluded a covenant with the house of 
David, namely, by bringing David to promise kindness to his 
family for ever. The word n^"}? must be supplied in thought 
to n'i3^., as in ch. xxii. 8 and 2 Chron. vii. 18. ^^ And Jehovah 
required it (what Jonathan had predicted) at the hand of 
David! s enemies^ Understood in this manner, the second 
clause contains a remark of the historian himself, namely, that 
Jonathan's words were really fulfilled in due time. The 
traditional rendering of ^^^ as a relative preterite, with löK 

CHAP. XX. 12-23. 211 

understood, "and said, Let Jehovah take vengeance,^' is not only 
precluded by the harshness of the introduction of the word 
"saying," but still more by the fact, that if "I0^< (saying) is 
introduced between the copula vav and the verb ^^.'^, the 
perfect cannot stand for the optative ^^2, as in Josh. xxii. 23. 
— Ver. 17. '^ And Jonathan adjured David again hy his love to 
him, because he loved him as his own soul" (cf. ch. xviii. 1, 3) ; 
i.e. he once more implored David most earnestly with an oath 
to show favour to him and his house. — Vers. 18 sqq. He then 
discussed the sign with him for letting him know about his 
father's state of mind : " To-morrow is new moon, and thou wilt 
be missed, for thy seat will be empty^^ sc. at Saul's table (see 
at ver. 5). " And on the third day come doicn quickly (from 
thy sojourning place), and go to the spot ivhere thou didst hide 
thyself on the day of the deed, and place thyself by the side of 
the stone Ezel" The first words in this (19th) verse are not 
without difficulty. The meaning " on the third day" for the 
verb ^}'^ cannot be sustained by parallel passages, but is fully 
established, partly by IT'K'pE'n, the third day, and partly by the 
Arabic usage (yid. Ges. Thes. s. r.). ^NO after 1"}^^ Ut. "go 
violently doion," is more striking still. Nevertheless the cor- 
rectness of the text is not to be called in question, since riK'j'K^ 
is sustained by Tpiaaevaei, in the Septuagint, and 'IKÖ 11^ by 
descende ergo festinus in the Vulgate, and also by the rendering 
in the Chaldee, Arabic, and Syriac versions, " and on the third 
day thou wilt be missed still more," which is evidently merely 
a conjecture founded upon the context. The meaning of 
nb^yon Di''n is doubtful. Gesenius, De Wette, and Maurer 
render it " on the day of tlie deed," and understand it as re- 
ferring to Saul's deed mentioned in ch. xix. 2, viz. his design of 
killing David ; others render it " on the day of business," i.e. 
the working day (Luther, after the LXX. and Vulgate), but 
this is not so good a rendering. The best is probably that of 
Thenius, "on the day of the business" (which is known to thee). 
Nothing further can be said concerning the stone Ezel than 
that Ezel is a proper name. — Ver. 20. " And I will shoot off 
three arrows to the side of it (the stone Ezel), to shoot for me at 
{he mark," i.e. as if shooting at the mark. The article attached 
to C'^nn is either to be explained as denoting that the historian 
assumed the thing as already well known, or on the supposition 


that Jonathan went to the field armed, and when giving the 
sign pointed to the arrows in his quiver. In the word rrnv the 

Raphe indicates that the sufRx of n— is not a mere toneless n^ 
although it has no mappik, having given up its strong breath- 
ing on account of the harsh V sound. — Ver. 21. "And, behold 
(narij directing attention to Mdiat follows as the main point), / 
will send the boy (saying), Go, get the arrows. If 1 shall say to 
the boy, Behold, the arrows are from thee hitherioards, fetch 
them ; then come, for peace is to thee, and it is nothing, as truly 
as Jehovah liveth^ — Ver. 22. "But if I say to the youth. Behold, 
the arrows are from thee farther off; then go, for Jehovah sendeth 
thee away^' i.e. bids thee flee. The appointment of this sign 
was just as simple as it was suitable to the purpose. — Ver. 23. 
This arrangement was to remain an eternal secret between 
them. " And (as for) the word that we have spoken, I and thou, 
behold, the Lord is between me and thee for erer," namely, a 
witness and judge in case one of us two should break the 
covenant (yid. Gen. xxxi. 48, 49). This is implied in the 
words, without there being any necessity to assume that IV had 
dropped out of the text. " The word" refers not merely to 
the sign agreed upon, but to the whole matter, including the 
renewal of the bond of friendship. 

Vers. 24-34. David thereupon concealed himself in the field, 
whilst Jonathan, as agreed upon, endeavoured to apologize for 
his absence from the king's table. — Vers. 24, 25. On the new 
moon's day Saul sat at table, and as always, nt his seat by the 
wall, i.e. at the top, just as, in eastern lands at the present 
day, the place of honour is the seat in the corner (see Harmar 
Beobachtungen ii. pp. QQ sqq.). " And Jonathan rose up, and 
Abner seated himself by the side of Saul, and David's place re- 
mained empty" The difficult passage, " And Jonathan rose up" 
etc., can hardly be understood in any other way than as signify- 
ing that, when Abner entered, Jonathan rose from his seat by 
the side of Saul, and gave up the place to Abner, in which case 
all that is wanting is an account of the place to which Jonathan 
moved. Every other attempted explanation is exposed to much 
graver difficulties. The suggestion made by Gesenius, that the 
cop. \ should be supplied before *133X, and 35^*1 referred to Jona- 
than (" and Jonathan rose up and sat down, and Abner (sat 

CHAP XX. 24-34. 213 

down) by the side of Saul"), as in the Syriac, is open to this 
objection, that in addition to the necessity of supplying i, it is 
impossible to see why Jonathan should have risen up for the 
purpose of sitting down again. The rendering " and Jonathan 
came," which is the one adopted by Maurer and De Wette, 
cannot be philologically sustained; inasmuch as, although Dip is 
used to signify rise up, in the sense of the occurrence of impor- 
tant events, or the appearance of celebrated persons, it never 
means simply " to come." And lastly, the conjecture of Thenius, 
that QiJ*! should be altered into D"üi?)Ü, according to the senseless 
rendering of the LXX., '7rpoe(f)6aae rov ^lovddap, is overthrown 
by the fact, that whilst D^P does indeed mean to anticipate or 
come to meet, it never means to sit in front of, i.e. opposite to 
a person. — Ver. 26. On this (first) day Saul said nothing, sc. 
about David's absenting himself, "for he thought there /las (some- 
thing) happened to him, that he is not clean ; surely ("'S) he is not 
clean" {vid. Lev. xv. 16 sqq.; Deut, xxiii. 11). — Vers. 27 sqq. 
But on the second day, the day after the new moon {lit. the 
morroio after the neio moon, the second day : V^n is a nomina- 
tive, and to be joined to ""nM, and not a genitive belonging to 
^^']), when David was absent from table again, Saul said to 
Jonathan, " Why is the son of Jesse not come to meat, neither 
yesterday nor to-day V^ Whereupon Jonathan answered, as 
arranged with David (compare vers. 28 and 29 with ver. 6). 
" And my brother, he hath commanded me," i.e. ordered me to 
come, njy as in Ex. vi. 13, and ''nSj the elder brother, who was 
then at the head of the family, and arranged the sacrificial 
meal. — Vers. 30, 31.|Saul was greatly enraged at this, and said 
to Jonathan, " Son of a perverse woman (O^yj is a participle, 
Niph. fem. from niy) of rebellion" — i.e. son of a perverse and 
rebellious woman (an insult offered to the mother, and there- 
fore so much the greater to the son), hence the meaning really 
is, " Thou perverse, rebellious fellow,"^-" do I not know that 
thou hast chosen the son of Jesse to thine own shame, and to the 
sliame of thy mothers nakedness ? " in3, to choose a person out 
of love, to take pleasure in a person ; generally construed with 
2 pers., here with ?, althougn many Codd. have 2 here also. 
" For as long as the son of Jesse liveth upon the earth, thou and 
thy kingdom (kingship, throne) ivill not stand." Thus(Saul evi- 
dently suspected David as his rival, who would either wrest the 


government from him, or at any rate after his death from his 
son.) " Noio send and fetch him to me, for he is a child of death,' 
i.e. lie has deserved to die, and shall be put to death. — Vers. 
32 sqq. When Jonathan replied, '■^ My father, why shall he die? 
what has he doneV Saul was so enraged that he hurled his 
Javelin at Jonathan (of. eh. xviii. 11). Thus Jonathan saw 
that his father had firmly resolved to put David to death, and 
rose up from the table in fierce anger, and did not eat that day ; 
for he was grieved concerning David, because his father had 
done him shame. ri73 is a substantive in the sense of unalter- 
able resolution, like the verb in ver. 9. ''Jtfn ^I'^il'"'^!''?, on the 
second day of the new moon or month. 

Vers. 35-42. The next morning Jonathan made David 
acquainted with what had occurred, by means of the sign agreed 
upon with David. The account of this, and of the meeting 
between Jonathan and David which followed, is given very 
concisely, only the main points being touched upon. In the 
morning (after what had occurred) Jonathan went to the field, 
in 1J^iJ3pj either " at the time agreed upon with David," or " to 
the meeting with David," or perhaps better still, " according to 
the appointment (agreement) with David," and a small boy with 
him. — Ver. 36. To the latter he said, namely as soon as they 
had come to the field. Run, get the arrows which I shoot. The 
boy ran, and he shot off the arrows, " to go out beyond him" i.e. 
so that the arrows flew farther than the boy had run. The form 
^ifn for |*n only occurs in connection with disjunctive accents ; 
beside the present chapter (vers. 36, 37, 38, Chethihh) we find 
it again in 2 Kings ix. 24. The singular is used here with 
indefinite generality, as the historian did not consider it neces- 
sary to mention expressly, after what he had previously written, 
that Jonathan shot off three arrows one after another. — Ver. 37. 
When the boy came to the place of the shot arrow (i.e. to the 
place to which the arrow had flown), Jonathan called after him, 
*' See, the arrow is (lies) away from thee, farther off " and again, 
" Quickly, haste, do not stand still," that he might not see David, 
who was somewhere near ; and the boy picked up the arrow and 
came to his lord. The Chethihh ''VO? is evidently the original 
reading, and the singular is to be understood as in ver. 37 ; 
the Keri D''J:nn is an emendation, according to the meaning of 
the words. The writer here introduces the remark in ver. 39, 

CHAP. XX. 35-42. 215 

that the boy knew nothing of what had been arranged Ijetween 
Jonathan and David. — Ver. 40. Jonathan then gave the boy 
his things (bow, arrows, and quiver), and sent him with them 
to the town, that he might be able to converse with David for a 
few seconds after his departure, and take leave of him unob- 
served. — Ver. 41. When the boy had gone, David rose (from 
his hiding-place) from the south side, fell down upon his face to 
the ground, and bowed three times (before Jonathan) ; they then 
kissed each other, and wept for one another, " till David wept 
strongli/" i.e. to such a degree that David wept very loud. 
3J3n P^'NO, ^'- from the side of the south" which is the expression 
used to describe David's hiding-place, according to its direction in 
relation to the place where Jonathan was standing, has not been 
correctly rendered by any of the early translators except Aquila 
and Jerome. In the Septuagint, the Chaldee, the Syriac, and 
the Arabic, the statement in ver. 19 is repeated, simply because 
the translators could not see the force of 333n ''^^^s although it 
is intelligible enough in relation to what follows, according to 
which David fled from thence southwards to Nob. — Ver. 42. 
All that is given of the conversation between the two friends is 
the parting word spoken by Jonathan to David : " Go in peace. 
What tve two have sworn in the name of the Lord, saying. The 
Lord be between me and thee, and between my seed and thy seed 
forever:'''' sc. let it stand, or let us abide by it. The clause 
contains an aposiopesis, which may be accounted for from 
Jonathan's deep emotion, and in which the apodosis may be 
gathered from the sense. For it is evident, from a comparison 
of ver. 23, that the expression " for ever" must be understood 
as forming part of the oath. — Ch. xxi. 1. David then set out 
upon his journey, and Jonathan returned to the town. This 
vei'se ought, strictly speaking, to form the conclusion of ch. xx.' 
The subject to ^' arose" is David; not because Jonathan was 
the last one spoken of (Thenius), but because the following 
words, " and Jonathan came," etc., are in evident antithesis to 
" he arose and went." 

^ In our English version it does ; but in the Hebrew, -which is followed 
here, it forms the opening verse of ch. xxi. In the exposition of the follow- 
ing chapter it has been thought better to follow the numbering of the 
verses in our version rather than that of the original, although the latter is 
conformed to the Hebrew. — Tr. 

216 the first book of samuel. 

David's flight to nob, and thence to gath. — 

CHAP. XXI. 2-16. 

After the information which David had received from 
Jonathan, nothing remained for him in order to save his life 
but immediate flight. He could not return to the prophets at 
Ramäh, where he had been miraculously preserved from the 
first outbreak of Saul's wrath, because they could not ensure 
him permanent protection against the death with which he was 
threatened. (^He therefore fled first of all to Nob, to Ahimelech 
the high priest, to inquire the will of God through him con- 
cerning his future courseVch. xxii. 10, 15), and induced him to 
give him bread and the sword of Goliath also, under the pre- 
text of having to perform a secret commission from the king 
with the greatest speed ; for which Saul afterwards took fearful 
vengeance upon the priests at Nob when he was made ac- 
quainted with the affair through the treachery of Doeg (vers. 
1-9). David then fled to Gath to the Philistian king Achish ; 
but here he was quickly recognised as the conqueror of Goliath, 
and obliged to feign insanity in order to save his life, and then 
to flee still farther (vers. 10-15). The state of his mind at this 
time he poured out before God in the words of Ps. Ivi., lii., 
and xxxiv. 

Vers. 1—9. David at Nob. — The town of Ä^ob or Nobeh 
(unless indeed the form HDb stands for nai here and in ch. xxii. 
9, and the n attached is merely n local, as the name is always 
written D: in other places : vid. ch. xxii. 11, 32 ; 2 Sam. xxi. 
16 ; Isa. X. 32 ; Neh. xi. 32) was at that time a priests' city 
(ch. xxii. 19), in which, according to the following account, the 
tabernacle was then standing, and the legal worship carried on. 
According to Isa. x. 30, 32, it was between Anathoth {Anata) 
and Jerusalem, and in all probability it has been preserved in 
the village of el-Isaioiyeh, i.e. probably the village of Esau or 
Edom, which is midway between Anata and Jerusalem, an hour 
from the latter, and the same distance to the south-east of 
Gibeah of Saul (Tell el Phul), and which bears all the marks 
of an ancient place, partly in its dwellings, the stones of which 
date from a great antiquity, and partly in many marble columns 
which are found there {vid. Tobler, Topogr. v. Jerusalem ii. p. 
720). Hence v. Raumer {Pal. p. 215, ed. 4) follows Kiepert 

CHAP. XXI. 1-9. 217 

in the map which he has appöfÄed to Robinson's Biblical Re- 
searches, and set down - tifJS'^ic¥ as the ancient Nob, for which 
Robinson indeed searc'5ea'i'n'\ifiÄ(see Pal. ii. p. 150). Ahirae- 
lech, the son of Ahitub, most"^pift)bafcly the same person as 
Ahiah (ch. xiv. 3), was " tliei'fi^lHf'^i.^-Xh.Q high priest (see at 
ch. xiv. 3). When David GiÄie"tb'''Hlife,*4he priest "toeJit trem- 
bling to meet him" (nxii?? ■i"]|T;).with'^'^'in^iry, " Why art thou 
alone, and no one is with ^/ig6v!''''"^The ^riei^ected appearance 
of David, the son-in-Liw of the 'kitig,- >ith"b<^ any attendants, 
alarmed Ahimelech, who probabij ^imagined 'lÄf&t he had come 
with a commission from the king -vwiich vriügh't ftivolve him in 
danger. David had left the few seriTjnlä Tv'ho ac<?Ompanied him 
in his flight somewhere in the nei^bbonrKioodi'a^'^^tiTay gather 
from ver. 2, because he wished to Cünvera3 :?v''t'Jfe-1ftgh priest 
alone. Ahimelech's anxious inquiry lei ^avid'Ho^ ^feS^rt to the 
fabrication described in ver. 2k " The klngl&tlh^'&^rrUrmM-ed me 
a business, and said to me. No one is to kndW^ dky^^^'&f- this 
matter, in lohich (lit. in relation to the matte*' SWth i^|[äf(d- to 
which) I send thee, and which I have entrusted to Me« (t.'(ji ßif^e 
is to know either the occasion or the nature of the-'tSmtMw^oij); 
and the servants I have directed to such and su^t'^'^c^ jfnäö'e.''^ 
i^y, Poel, to cause to know, point, show. Ahiiiiele^h'"1iqid''i^j«- 
ceived no information as yet concerning the most recerft'oöfiur- 
rences between Saul and David ; and David would not confess 
to him that he was fleeing from Saul, because he v. as evidently 
afraid tliat the high priest would not give him any assistance, 
lest he should draw down the wrath of the king. This false- 
hood brought the greatest calamities upon Ahimelech and the 
priests at Nob (ch. xxii. 9-19), and David was afterwards 
obliged to confess that he had occasioned it all (ch. xxii. 22). — 
Ver. 3. '■^ And now what is under thy hand f give into my hand 
(i.e. hand me) ßve loaves, or whatever (else) is to be founds 
David asked for five loaves, because he had spoken of several 
attendants, and probably wanted to make provision for two or 
three days (Thenius). — Yer. 4. The priest answered that he 
had no common bread, but only holy bread, viz., according to 
ver. 6, shew-bread that had been removed, which none but 
priests were allowed to eat, and that in a sacred place ; but that 
he was willing to give him some of these loaves, as David had 
said that he was travelling upon an important mission from the 


king, provided only that " the^a^ing men had kept themselves at 
least from women" i.e. had nqt ,T>een. 4eßled by sexual inter- 
course (Lev. XV. 18). If they ,yere c^e^n at any rate in this 
respect, he would in suc^i a c^se of necessity depart from the 
Levitical law concerning the ^atiag of the shew-bread, for the 
sake of observing the higher pom|nandment of love to a neigh- 
bour (Lev. xix. 18 ; cf. Maf£t,.xu. S, 6, Mark ii. 25, 26).^— Ver. 
5. David quieted h;m conceming this scruple, and said, " NaT/^ 
but women have been kept frpm us since yesterday and the day 
before." The ;ise of ^fjS '•3 may be explained from the fact, 
that in David's reply .'ne. paid more attention to the sense than 
to the form of the pri^^'s scruple, and expressed himself as 
concisely as possibl/e. The words, " if the young men have only 
kept themselves- from women," simply meant, if only they are 
not uncl^n ; and David replied. That is certainly not the 
case, but wonien have been kept from us ; so that Di< "'S has the 
meanipg btfi in this passage also, as it frequently has after a 
previous^^ negative, which is implied in the thought here as in 
2/3;«ini. xiii. 33. " When I came out, the young men's things were 
^oly (Levitically clean) ; and if it is an unholy ivay, it becomes 
isven holy tJixough the instilment." David does not say that the 
young men were clean when he came out (for the rendering 
given to Q''iy3D 7? in the Septuagint, wdvra to, TraiSdpia, is 
without any critical value, and is only a mistaken attempt to 
explain the word v3, which was unintelligible to the translator), 
but simply affirms that ^"^p D"'')y3n "»PS^ i.e., according to Luther's 
rendering (t/er Knaben Zeug ivar heilig), the young men's things 
(clothes, etc.) were holy. Qy3 does not mean merely vessels, 
arms, or tools, but also the dress (Deut. xxii. 5), or rather the 
clothes as well as such things as were most necessary to 
meet the wants of life. By the coitus, or strictly speaking, by 
the emissio seminis in connection with the coitus, not only were 
the persons themselves defiled, but also every article of clothing 
or leather upon which any of the semen fell (Lev. xv. 18) ; so 
that it was necessary for the purpose of purification that the 
things which a man had on should all be washed. David ex- 
plains, with evident allusion to this provision, that the young 

^ When Mark (ii. 26) assigns this action to the days of Abiathar the 
high priest, the statement rests upon an error of memory, in which Ahime- 
lech is confounded with Abiathar. 


XXI. 1-9. 219 

men's things were hofy| tt'ei^fcerfeotly clean, for the purpose of 
assuring the priest that' th«nB .wasi mot the smallest Levitical 
uncleanness attaching to'lheaiii The 'ejause which follows is to 
be taken as conditional, an(:l,aiS;Äi.ppo^iiig a possible case : " aiid 
if it is an unholy imy^ 'H'l'Sy«" tin» hJ'äy:ltl\at David was going 
with his young men, i.e. his' pur(afa80>}oaTi [enterprise, by which, 
however, we are not to underfef a»flJ : Ifis iifecjuest of holy bread 
from Ahimelech, but the performänff^^iiüielking's commission 
of which he had spoken. "'S ^^\ Zttilb^'asilubsi^there is) also that, 
= moreover there is also the fact, thatiitiibelcoijiiflfi holy through 
the instrument; i.e., as O. v. Gerlach^hasxlorffdblily explained it, 
" on the supposition of the important vbf^l mba«^ upon which 
David pretended to be sent, through me laa ailil^JBUiissajdor of the 
anointed of the Lord," in which, at any raJt^-rialwtW meaning 
really was, "the way was sanctified beforef'^-od^ whestt.he, as 
His chosen servant, the preserver of the trde Jfeikn^idbm. ©f God 
in Israel, went to him in his extremity^ Tliityvf/in^'tHe' sense 
of instrument is also applied to men, is evident itorfi iJAi xiiii 5 
and Jer. 1. 25.— Ver. 6. The priest then gav% him^wbaU^wae) 
holy, namely the shew-loaves " that were takenkifioM h'efoii 
Jehovah,'^ i.e. from the holy table, upon which they Jhlad'lain 
before Jehovah for seven days (yid. Lev. xxiv. 6-9).-^-eIh ver. 7 
there is a parenthetical remark introduced, which was of great 
importance in relation to the consequences of this occurrence. 
[There at the sanctuary there was a man of Saul's servants, 
*ip3, i.e. " kept back (shut off) before Jehovah ;" i.e. at the sanc- 
tuary of the tabernacle, either for the sake of purification or as 
a proselyte, who wished to be received into the religious com- 
munion of Israel, or because of supposed leprosy, according to 
Lev. xiii. 4. His name was Doegthe Edomite, D''i;in "i"'3X, " the 
strong one (i.e. the overseer) o/ fÄß herdsmen of Saul."} — Ver. 8. 

^ The Septuagint translators have rendered these words iiif/,av rdi 
flfAiövovt;, " feeding the mules of Saul ;" and accordingly in ch. xxii. 9 also 
they have changed Saul's servants into mules, in accordance with which 
Theuius makes Doeg the upper herdsman of Saul. But it is very evident 
that the text of the LXX. is nothing more than a subjective interpreta- 
tion of the expression before us, and does not presuppose any other text, 
from the simple fact that all the other ancient versions are founded upon 
the Hebrew text both here and in ch. xxii. 9, including even the Vulgate 
(potentissiTmis pastorum) ; and the clause contained in some of the MSS. of 
the Vulgate (hie pascebat nmlas Saul) is nothing more than a gloss that baa 



David also asked Aliimeleeh 'whother he had not a sw rd or a 
javelin at hand ; "/or / have iieiihets hvught my sword nor my 
(other) weapons loith me, because the affair of the king was press- 
ing,^' i.e. very urgent, l/inj, aTr.Xey., literally, compressed. — Ver. 
9. The priest replied^, that tlieire was only the sword of Goliath, 
whom David slew in the terebjiuth valley (eh. xvii. 2), wrapped up 
in a cloth hanging behind the epliod (the high priest's shoulder- 
dress), — a sign of 'the -great worth attached to this dedicatory 
offering. He could takfe' that. David accepted it, as a weapon 
of greater value to him than any other, because he had not only 
taken this swoixl as b«oty from the Philistine, hut had cut off 
the head o£ Goliath ^vith it (see ch. xvii. 51). When and how 
this sword h^d llShjffe into the tabernacle is not known (see the 
remarks on ch.^/^ii. 54). The form ni? for nT3 is only met 
with hare.' On -the Pisica, see at Josh. iv. 1. 

Vers.' violas. David with Achish at Gath. — David fled 
from Nob t/vJ^'Achish of /Gath. This Phihstian king is called 
Ahimel&iiJi in the heading of Ps. xxxiv., according to the stand- 
ing/- title of the" Philistian princes at Gath. The fact that 
David fled at' once out of the land, and that to the Philistines 
at Gath, may be accounted for from the great agitation into 
which he had been thrown by the information he had received 
from Jonathan concerning Saul's implacable hatred. As some 
years had passed since the defeat of Goliath, and the con- 
queror of Goliath was probably not personally known to many 
of the Philistines, he might hope that he should not be recog- 
nised in Gath, and that he might receive a welcome thei'e with 
his few attendants, as a fugitive who had been driven away 
by Saul, the leading foe of the Philistines.^ But in this he 

crept in from the Itala ; and this is still more obvious in ch. xxii. 9, where 
3S3 Nim is applicable enough to il^y, but is altogether unsuitable in con- 
nection with "»TiQ, since 2SJ is no more applied in Hebrew to herdsmen or 
keepers of animals, than we should think of speaking of presidents of asses, 
horses, etc. Moreover, it is not till the reign of David that we read of mules 
being used as riding animals by royal princes (2 Sam. xüi. 29, xviii. 9) ; 
and they are mentioned for the first time as beasts of burden, along with 
asses, camels, and oxen, in 1 Chron. xii. 40, where they are said to have 
been employed by the northern tribes to carry provisions to Hebron to the 
festival held at the recognition of David as king. Before David's time the 
sons of princes rode upon asses (viel. Judg. x. 4, xii. 14). 

^ This removes the objection raised by modern critics to the historical 


x-m 10-15. 221 

was mi; taken. He \v^.rec(i||Bi^edi at once by the conrtiers of 
Achish. They said to tli!eiEq)i'i-ncejii' Is not this David the king 
of the land ? Have they not»xmg%v'ciffiles, Saul hath slain his thou- 
sands, and David his ten tkomütiiJs ?< V '(cf . ch. xviii. 6, 7.) " King 
of the land" they call David^kbt.bteßäftise his anointing and divine 
election were known to theiti,:ixd< onj;account of his victorious 
deeds, which had thrown Sauianla^etfy.dnb® the shade. Whether 
they intended by these words to «eldb^iateODavid as a hero, or to 
point him out to their prince\;a« av ck-mgörßus man, cannot be 
gathered from the words themselves, iiAir;^ ©an the question be 
decided with certainty at all (iefeibh.:xitx. SS^. — Yer. 12. But 
David took these words to heaiJt,'änd-'wasin;-;^reat fear of Achish, 
lest he should treat him as aixenpmy^aiidikijililiim. In order to 
escape this danger, "he disgidsed'ilvis:iinderstahdtlng:.(i.e. pretended 
to be out of his mind) m their > ei/es'i(ke^.he?Drei. ^^k^' oonvtiers of 
Achish), behaved insanely under iheiFrlüx'Ms i(whwni>.'.they itried to 
hold him as a madman), scribbled upon 'ihi.thor-wC'yjtkj' anddet 
his spittle run down into his beard^ The sufiiüiöj'i^^'J^.ai- appa* 
rently superfluous, as the object, io^^TiN, follows immediateJy 
afterwards. But it maybe accounted for f ropj^ tl;i.e^ cirpumstan- 
tiality of the conversation of every-day life, a^. in "2 Sam.xir. 6, 
and (though these cases are not perfectly parallel) Ex. ii. 6, 
Prov. V. 22, Ezek. x, 3 (cf. Gesenius' Gramm. § 121, 6, Anm. 
3). "in^ilj from nWj to make signs, i.e. to scribble. The Sept. 

credibility of the narrative before us, namely, that David would certainly 
not have taken refuge at once with the Philistines, but would only have 
gone to them in the utmost extremity (Thenius). It is impossible to see 
how the words " he fled that day for fear of Saul " (ver. 11) are to prove 
that this section originally stood in a different connection, and are only 
arbitrarily inserted here (Thenius). Unless we tear away the words in the 
most arbitrary manner from the foregoing word mn'l, they not only appear 
quite suitable, but even necessary, since David's journey to Abimelech was 
not a flight, or at all events it is not described as a flight in the text ; and 
David's flight from Saul really began with his departure from Nob. Still 
less can the legendary origin of this account be inferred from the fact that 
some years afterwards David really did take refuge with Achish in the 
Philistian country (ch. xxvii. and xxix.), or the conjecture sustained that 
this is only a distorted legend of that occurrence. For if the later sojourn 
of David with Achish be a historical fact, the popular legend could not 
possibly have assumed a form so utterly different as the account before 
us, to say nothing of the fact that this occurrence has a firm historical 
support in Ps. xxxiv. 1. 


and Vulgate render it irv/xTrdvi^eiv,' impiyigehat, he drummed^ 
smote with his fists upon the wiings of the door, which would 
make it appear as if they ha«^ read ^in*! (from ^^^), which 
seems more suitable to the cön-ärtion of a madman whose saliva 
ran out of his mouth. r-^Yes's. 14, 15. By this dissimulation 
David escaped the danger which threatened him ; for Achish 
thought him mad, and wrJuH have nothing to do with him. 
" Wherefore do ye bring iiim to me ? Have I need of madmen, 
that ye have brought this; "man hither to rave against me ? Shall 
this man come into «ly ^houseV Thus Achish refused to receive 
him into his house. /But whether he had David taken over the 
border, or at any ?rate out of the town ; or whether David 
went away of hislbwn accord ; or whether he was taken away 
by his servants/ «and then hurried as quickly as possible out of 
the land of thet Philistines, is not expressly mentioned, as being 
of no importrxnee In relation to the principal object of the narra- 
tivGi Ali'^uat is stated is, that he departed thence, and escaped 
to tlie'cave AduUäm. 

ijaVid's wanderings in judah and moab. massacre of 
priests by saul. — chap. xxii. 

Vers. 1-5. Having been driven away by Achish, the Philis- 
tian king at Gath, David took refuge in the cave Adullam, 
where his family joined him. The cave Adullam is not to be 
sought for in the neig-hbourhood of Bethlehem, as some have 
inferred from 2 Sam. xxiii. 13, 14, but near the town Adidlam, 
which is classed in Josh. xv. 35 among the towns in the low- 
lands of Judah, and at the foot of the mountains ; though it 
has not yet been traced with any certainty, as the caves of Deir 
Dubban, of which Van de Velde speaks, are not the only large 
caves on the western slope of the mountains of Judah. When 
his brethren and his father's house, i.e. the rest of his family, 
heard of his being there, they came down to him, evidently 
because they no longer felt themselves safe in Bethlehem from 
Saul's revenge. The cave Adullam cannot have been more 
than three hours from Bethlehem, as Socoh and Jarmuth, which 
were near to Adullam, were only three hours and a half from 
Jerusalem (see at Josh. xii. 15). — Ver. 2. There a large num- 
ber of malcontents gathered together round David, viz. all who 

• «'HJ^P. XXII. 1-5. 223 

were in distress, and all vfitp k^^ creditors, and^ll who were em- 
bittered in spirit) (bitter «f''«»5l'),ai\e. people who were dissatis- 
fied with the general statd ofikff^^-^^ ^^itj^ the government of 
Saul,— about four hundredhn0n;i^ljosö leader he became. David 
must in all probability hav^'StAfyi^.^j ^j^^.^ ^ considerable time. 
The number of those who wenCaiW 3,7^0, i^j^ soon amounted to 
six hundred men (xxiii. 13)/ WHc!) wL^j^ ^f^^ the most part brave 
and reckless, and who ripenedMötö)*^ ^^^ojc ^gn under the com- 
mand of David during his longiflighp J^^.list of the bravest of 
them is given in 1 Chron. xii.; Avitho^ .j^^j,^ compare 2. Sam. 
xxiii. 13 sqq. and 1 Chron. xi.iUß.-sqq.' _^'^qy^^ 3-5.(David 
proceeded thence to Mizpeh in Moab, 3fi''3J>onlaced his parents 
in safety with the king of the MoabiteS.^i-IJjc, 'smcestress Ruth 
was a Moabitess. Mizpeh: literally a watdi^to.^jj^Qj. mountain 
height commanding a very extensive profepeci<.^;^^.jjgj.Q \^ jg 
probably a proper name, belonging to a "Biouotaiu-ft^stji^ggg q^ 
the high land, which bounded the Arboth Mbtb-oh Jtuv^ 'njistern 
side of the Dead Sea, most likely on the mooiilMlins of'!4'J='äi^;m 
or Pisgah (Deut. xxxiv. 1), and which could easilivsJfeYeachöd 
from the country round Bethlehem, by crossing the J ordan near 
the point where it entered the Dead Sea.) As Davidsoartie to 
the king of Moab, the Moabites had probably taken 'posseägion 
of the most southerly portion of the eastern lands of theifeKafel- 
ites ; we may also infer this from the fact that, according t<i^ eb* 
xiv. 47, Saul had also made war upon Moab, for Mizpeh M6äb 
is hardly to be sought for in the actual land of the Moabites, oö 
the south side of the Arnon (Mojeb). D^riN . . . «rsvi, « Ma'g 
my father and my mother go out with yoii." The construction 
of NV^ with ris is a pregnant one : to go out of their home and 
stay with you (Moabites). " Till I know what God will do to 
mer /iBeing well assured of the justice of his cause, as con- 
trasted with the insane persecutions of Saul, David confidently 
hoped that God would bring his flight to an end. His parents 
remained with the king of Moab as long as David was n"ii^?33, 
i.e. upon the mountain height, or citadel.' This can only refer 
to the place of refuge which David had found at Mizpeh Moab. 
For it is perfectly clear from ver. 5, where the prophet Gad 
calls upon David not to remain any longer iTliVGa, but to return 
to the land of Judah, that the expression cannot refer either 
to the cave Adullam, or to any other place of refuge in the 

^7^.\^'- . 

001 /. v/oe-sAmuel. 

^^•i THE FIES'^BOO& ; 

neighbourliood of Bethlehem. T^' ff^^\(^f Y ^'?^f ^ 

come to David from Samuel's sc^^^ °^ ^7^^^^'^^ ,^^' ^^i^'fl"' 
1, • J -i.! -m • 1 p that time lorward to assist him 

he remained with David from , , , . . ^ 

, •,, 1 . 1 . , . 'J undertakino;s, cannot be cieter- 

with his counsel in his sever , , • . ?• t i /^u 

^- 1 ^ p . ant of information, in 1 (Jhron. 

mined, on account of our w ^ i i . r -r^ • v 

^ • QT . n J -r>w -11 seen In the last year oi Davids 
XXI. 9 he IS called David's ,, . , . ' • i m r u 

^^- „ 1 , ^ , .m the punishment which would tall 

reign he announced to hj.. ^ r i • • • v • xi 

1 • r ^ , . «account oi his sin in numbering the 
upon him from God on , , ,. ., ^, ^ . 

people (2 Sam. xxiv. U s^^-); ^^^ .fading to 1 Chron. xx.x. 
29 he also wrote thev^'^^^^^^V"^' Vlyonsequence of this 
admonition, David ,.;turned to Judah, and went into the wood 

rr ,7 , -.Jion on the mountains of Judah, which is 

Hareth, a woody re''=' . , , . . n ^ • ^ - ^ 

„„„„ .. , «cam, 'and the situation of which is unknown, 

never mentioned ?^',.^i-p..j ,^ i. 

A^« J- i. xL^e counsels oi (jod, David was not to seek tor 
According to-th i i i • i 

£ o t • 1 /We land ; not only that he might not be esti'anged 

from h's f «-f^erlaiid ^tid the people of Israel, which would have 

■L xsed to, -his calling to be the king of Israel, but also that 

jjQ ,. ijnjght learn to trust entirely m the Lord as his only refuge 

■"■:-jf^, apdiorti-ess.) 

Vers. 6-23. Murder of the Priests by Saul. — ^Vers. 
6 sqq. When Saul heard that David and the men with him 
were known, i.e. that information had been received as to their 
abode or hiding-place, he said to his servants when they were 
gathered round him, " Hear" etc. The words, ^^ and Saul loas 
sitting at Giheali under the tamarisk upon the height,^^ etc., show 
that what follows took place in a solemn conclave of all the 
servants of Saul, who were gathered round their king to 
deliberate upon the more important affairs of the kingdom. 
This sitting took place at Gibeah, the residence of Saul, and 
in the open air " under the tamarisk."" ^^"J?, upon the height, not 
" under a grove at Eamah " (Luther) ; for Ramah is an appel- 
lative, and 'i^'^S, which belongs to ^'K'Kn nnri, is a more minute 
definition of the locality, which is indicated by the definite 
article {the tamarisk upon the height) as the well-known place 
where Saul's deliberative assemblies were held. From the 
king's address (" liear, ye Benjaminites ; will the son of Jesse 
also give you all fields and vineyards 'I") we perceive thatfSaul 
had chosen his immediate attendants from the members of hi 
own tribe, and had rewarded their services right royally. 

CHAP. XXII, 6-23. 225 

ÖD?pp"D2 is placed first for the sake of emphasis, " You Ben- 
jaminites also,^' and not rather to Judahites, the members of 
his own tribe. The second ^^f^7 (before D^b*^) is not a dative ; 
but b merely serves to give greater prominence to the object 
which is placed at the head of the clause: As for all of you, 
will he make (you : see Ewald, § 310, a). — Ver. 8. " That you 
have all of you conspired against me, and no one informs me of 
it, since my son makes a covenant tvith the son of Jesse" J^^??, 
lit. at the making of a covenant. Saul may possibly have 
heard something of the facts related in ch. xx. 12-17 ; at the 
same time,(his words may merely refer to Jonathan's friendship 
with David, which was well known to him.) ■^/'^T^l, " and no 
one of you is grieved on my account . . . that my son has set 
my servant (David) as a Her in wait against me,'^ i.e. to plot 
against my life, and wrest the throne to himself. We may 
see from this, thatfSaul was carried by his suspicions very far 
beyond the actual facts.) " As at this day :" cf. Deut. viii. 18, 
etc. — Vers. 9, 10. The Edomite Doeg could not refrain from 
yielding to this appeal, and telling Saul what he had seen when 
staying at Nob ; namely, that Ahimelech had inquired of God 
for David, and given him food as well as Goliath's sword. For 
the fact itself, see ch. xxi. 1-10, where there is no reference 
indeed to his inquiring of God ; though it certainly took place, 
as Ahimelech (ver. 15) does not disclaim it. Doeg is here 
designated .3SfJ, " the superintendent of Saul's servants," so that 
apparently yhe had been invested with the office of marshal of 
the court.] — Vers. 11 sqq. On receiving this information, Saul 
immediately summoned the priest Ahimelech and '^all his 
father s house" i.e. the whole priesthood, to Nob, to answer for 
what they had done. To Saul's appeal, " Why have ye conspired 
against me, thou and the son of Jesse, hy giving him, bread?" 
u\.himelech, who was not conscious of any such crime, since 
David had come to him with a false pretext, and the priest had 
probably but very little knowledge of what took place at court, 
replied both calmly and worthily (ver. 14): ^^ And who of all 
thy servants is so faithful (proved, attested, as in Num. xii. 7) 
as David, and son-in-law of the king, and having access to thy 
private audience, and honoured in thy house?" The true ex- 
planation of ^riyp^P"''?? "ID may be gathered from a comparison 
of 2 Sam. xxiii. 23 and 1 Chron. xi. 25, where nyoK'p occurs 



again, as the context clearly shows, in the sense of a privy coun- 
cillor of the king, who hears his personal revelations and converses 
with him about them, so that it corresponds to our " audience." 
"11D, lit. to turn aside from the way, to go in to any one, or to 
look after anything (Ex. ill. 3 ; Ruth iv. 1, etc.) ; hence in the 
passage before us " to have access," to be attached to a person. 
This is the explanation given by Gesenius and most of the 
modern expositors, whereas the early translators entirely mis- 
understood the passage, though they have given the meaning 
correctly enough at 2 Sam. xxiii. 23. /But if this was the 
relation in which David stood to Saul, — and he had really done 
so for a long time, — there was nothing wrong in what the high 
priest had done for him ; but he had acted according to the 
best of his knowledge, and quite conscientiously as a faithful 
subject of the king. Ahimelech then added still further (ver 
15) : '^ Did I then begin to inquire of God for him this day?" 
i.e. was it the first time that I had obtained the decision of God 
for David concerning Important enten^rlses, which he had to 
carry out in the service of the king I i " Far be from me" sc. 
any conspiracy against the king, like that of which I am ac- 
cused. " Let not the king lay it as a burden upon thy servant, 
my whole father s house (the omission of the cojj. 1 before 
rC^'Paa may be accounted for from the excitement of the 
speaker) ; for thy servant knows not the least of all this." 
riNrbaa, of all that Saul had charged him with. — Vers. 16, 17. 
Notwithstanding this truthful assertion of his Innocence, Saul 
pronounced sentence of death,] not only upon the high priest, 
but upon all the priests at Nob, and commanded his D^yj, 
*.' runners," i.e. halberdiers, to put the priests to death, because, 
as he declared in his wrath, " their hand is with David (i.e. 
because they side with David), and because they knew that he 
fled and did not tell me." Instead of the Chethibh i^TSI, It is 
probably more correct to read ""PIX, according to the Kai, 
although the Chethibh may be accounted for if necessary from 
a sudden transition from a direct to an indirect form of ad- 
dress: "and (as he said) had not told him." This sentence 
was so cruel, and so nearly bordering upon madness, that the 
halberdiers would not carry It out, but refused to lay hands 
upon "the priests of Jehovah." — Ver. 18. Saul then com- 
manded Doeg to cut down the priests, and he at once per- 

CHAP. XXII. 6-23. 22? 

formed the bloody deed. On tlie expression "wearing the 
linen epJiod" compare the remarks at ch. ii. 18. (The allusion 
to the priestly clothing, like the I'epetition of tne expression 
"priests of Jehovah,^' serves to bring out into its true light the 
crime of the bloodthirsty Saul and his executioner Doeg. The 
very dress which the priests wore, as the consecrated servants 
of Jehovah, ought to have made them shrink from the commis- 
sion of such a murderA— Ver. 19. [But not content with even 
this revenge, Saul had the whole city of Nob destroyed, like a 
city that was laid under the ban (vid. Deut. xiii. 13 sqq.). So 
completely did Saul identify his private revenge with the cause 
of Jehovah, that he avenged a supposed conspiracy against his 
own person as treason against Jehovah the God-king.J— Vers. 
20-23. The only one of the whole body of priests who escaped 
this bloody death was a son of Ahimelech, named Abiathar, 
who "ßed after David" i.e. to David the fugitive, and in- 
formed him of the barbarous vengeance which Saul had taken 
upon the priests of the Lord. Then David recognised and 
confessed his guilt. " / Jcnew that day that the Edomite Doeg 
was there, that he {i.e. that as the Edomite Doeg was there, he) 
would tell Said : I am the cause of all the souls of thy father s 
house" i.e. of their death. 22D is used here in the sense of 
being the cause of a thing, which is one of the meanings of the 
verb in the Arabic and Talmudic {yid. Ges. Lex. s.v.). "Stay 
with me, fear not; for he who seeks my life seeks thy life : for 
thou art safe with me." The abstract mishmereth, protection, 
keeping (Ex. xii. 6, xvi. 33, 34), is used for the concrete, in 
the sense of protected, well kept. (The thought is the follow- 
ing : As no other is seeking thy life than Saul, who also wants 
to kill me, thou mayest stay with me without fear, as I am 
sure of divine protection. David spoke thus in the firm belief 
that the Lord would deliver him from his foe, and give him 
the kingdom. The action of Saul, which had just been 
reported to him, could only strengthen him in this belief, as it 
was a sign of the growing hardness of Saul, which must accele- 
rate his destruction.) 



The following events show how, on the one hand, the Lord 
gave pledges to His servant David that he would eventually 
become king, but yet on the other hand plunged him into 
deeper and deeper trouble, that He might refine him and train 
him to be a king after His own heart. Saul's rage against the 
priests at Nob not only drove the high priest into David's camp, 
but procured for David the help of the " light and right" of the 
high priest in all his undertakings. Moreover, after the prophet 
Gad had called David back to Judah, an attack of the Phili- 
stines upon Keilah furnished him with the opportunity to show 
himself to the people as their deliverer. And although this 
enterprise of his exposed him to fresh persecutions on the part 
of Saul, who was thirsting for revenge, he experienced in con- 
nection therewith not only the renewal of Jonathan's friendship 
on this occasion, but a marvellous interposition on the part of 
the faithful covenant God. 

Vers. 1-14. Eescue of Keilah. — After his return to the 
mountains of Judah, David received intelligence that Phili- 
stines, i.e. a marauding company of these enemies of Israel, were 
fighting against Keilah, and plundering the threshing-floors, 
upon which the corn that had been reaped was lying ready for 
threshing. Keilah belonged to the towns of the lowlands of 
Judah (Josh. xv. 44) ; and although it has not yet been dis- 
covered, was certainly very close to the Philistian frontier. — 
Ver. 2. After receiving this information, David inquired of the 
Lord (through the Urim and Thummim of the high priest) 
whether he should go and smite these Philistines, and received 
an affirmative answer, — Vers. 3-5. But his men said to him, 
" Behold, here in Judah we are in fear (i.e. are not safe from 
Saul's pursuit) ; how shall we go to Keilah against the ranks of 
the Philistines ?" In order, therefore, to infuse couraoje into 
them, he inquired of the Lord again, and received the assurance 
from God, " / will give the Philistines into thy hand^ He then 
proceeded with his men, fought against the Philistines, drove 
off their cattle, inflicted a severe defeat upon them, and thus 

CHAP. XXIII. 1-14. 229 

delivered the inhabitants of Keilah. In ver. 6 a supplementary 
remark is added in explanation of the expression " inquired of 
Hie Lordy^ to the effect that, when Abiathar fled to David to 
Keilah, the ephod had come to him. The words " to David to 
Keilah " are not to be understood as signifying that Abiathar 
did not come to David till he was in Keilah, but that when he 
fled after David (ch. xxii. 20), he met with him as he was 
already preparing for the march to Keilah, and immediately 
proceeded with him thither. For whilst it is not stated in ch. 
xxii. 20 that Abiathar came to David in the wood of Hareth, 
but the place of meeting is left indefinite, the fact that David 
had already inquired of Jehovah {i.e. through the oracle of the 
high priest) with reference to the march to Keilah, compels us 
to assume that Abiathar had come to him before he left the 
mountains for Keilah. So that the brief expression " to David 
to Keilah," which is left indefinite because of its brevity, must 
be interpreted in accordance with this fact. — Vers. 7-9. As soon 
as Saul received intelligence of David's mai'ch to Keilah, he 
said, '' God has rejected him (and delivered him) into my hand." 
*i|^ does not mean simply to look at, but also to find strange, 
and treat as strange, and then absolutely to reject (Jer. xix. 4, 
as in the Arabic in the fourth conjugation). This is the 
meaning here, where the construction with '"'7^? is to be under- 
stood as a pregnant expression : " rejected and delivered into my 
hand" (yid. Ges. Lex. s.v.). The early translators have ren- 
dered it quite correctly according to the sense "»^O, iriirpaKev, 
tradidit, without there being any reason to suppose that they 
read •"•59 instead of "I33, " J^qj- ]iß hath shut himself in, to come 
(= coming, or by coming) into a city with gates and bolts." — 
Ver. 8. He therefore called all the people (i.e. men of war) 
together to war, to go down to Keilah, and to besiege David 
and his men. — Vers. 9 sqq. But David heard that Saul was 
preparing mischief against him (lit. forging, ^^y}\}, from ti'"]n : 
Prov. iii. 29, vi. 14, etc.), and he inquired through the oracle of 
the high priest whether the inhabitants of Keilah would deliver 
him up to Saul, and whether Saul would come down ; and as 
both questions were answered in the affirmative, he departed 
from the city with his six hundred men, before Saul carried out 
his plan. It is evident from vers. 9-12, that when the will of 
God was sought through the Urim and Thummim, the person 


making the inquiry placed the matter before God in prayer, 
and received an answer ; but always to one particular question. 
For when David had asked the two questions given in ver. 11, 
he received the answer to the second question only, and had to 
ask the first again (ver. 12). — Ver. 13. " They loent xohither- 
soever they could go^' (lit. " they wandered about where they 
wandered about"), i.e. wherever they could go without danger. 
— Ver. 14. David retreated into the desert (of Judali), to the 
mountain heights (that were to be found there), and remained 
on the mountains in the desert of Ziph. The ^'desert of Judair 
is the desert tract between the mountains of Judah and the 
Dead Sea, in its whole extent, from the northern boundary of 
the tribe of Judah to the Wady Fikreh in the south (see at 
Josh. XV. 61). Certain portions of this desert, however, received 
different names of their own, according to the names of dif- 
ferent towns on the border of the mountains and desert. The 
desert of Ziph was that portion of the desert of Judah which 
was near to and surrounded the town of Ziph, the name of 
which has been retained in the ruins of Tell Zif, an hour and 
three-quarters to the south-east of Hebron (see at Josh. xv. 55). 
— Ver. 146. " And Saul sought him all the days, but God de- 
livered him not into his hand^ This is a general remark, 
intended to introduce the accounts which follow, of the various 
attempts made by Saul to get David into his power. ^^ All the 
days," i.e. as long as Saul lived. 

Vers. 15-28. David in the Deserts of Ziph and Maon. 
— The history of David's persecution by Saul is introduced in 
vers. 15-18, with the account of an attempt made by the noble- 
minded prince Jonathan, in a private interview with his friend 
David, to renew his bond of friendship with him, and strengthen 
David by his friendly words for the sufferings that yet awaited 
him. Vers. 15, 16 are to be connected together so as to form 
one period : " Wlien David saw that Saul was come out . . . and 
David was in the desert of Ziph, Jonathan rose up and loent to 
David into the wood." '^^1'^, from ^P, with n paragogic, sig- 
nifies a wood or thicket ; here, however, it is probably a proper 
name for a district in the desert of Ziph that was overgrown 
with wood or bushes, and where David was stopping at that 
time. " There is no trace of this wood now. The land lost its 

CHAP. XXIII. 15-28. 231 

ornament of trees centuries ago through the desolating hand of 
man" (v. de Velde). " And strengthened his hand in God,^* 
i.e. strengthened his heart, not by supplies, or by money, or 
any subsidy of that kind, but by consolation drawn from his 
innocence, and the promises of God (yid. Judg. ix. 24 ; Jer. 
xxiii. 14). ^' Fear not," said Jonathan to him, "for the hand of 
Saul my father will not reach thee ; and thou loilt become king 
over Israel, and I unll be the second to thee ; and Saul my father 
also knoics that it is so."' Even though Jonathan had heard 
nothing from David about his anointing, he could learn from 
David's course thus far, and from his ovi^n father's conduct, that 
David would not be overcome, but would possess the sovereignty 
after the death of Saul. Jonathan expresses here, as his firm 
conviction, what he has intimated once before, in ch. xx. 13 
sqq. ; and with the most loving self-denial entreats David, when 
he shall be king, to let him occupy the second place in the king- 
dom. It by no means follows from the last words (" Saul my 
father hwiceth"), that Saul had received distinct information 
concernino; the anointing of David, and his divine callino; to 
be king. The words merely contain the thought, he also sees 
that it will come. The assurance of this must have forced itself 
involuntarily upon the mind of Saul, both from his own rejec- 
tion, as foretold by Samuel, and also from the marvellous 
success of David in all his undertakings. — Ver. 18. After these 
encouraging words, they two made a covenant before Jehovah : 
i.e. they renewed the covenant which they had already made by 
another solemn oath ; after which Jonathan returned home, but 
David remained in the wood. 

The treachery of the Ziphites forms a striking contrast to 
Jonathan's treatment of David. They went up to Gibeah 
to betray to Saul the fact that David was concealed in tbe 
wood upon their mountain heights, and indeed " upon the hill 
Hachilah, ivhich lies to the south of the loaste." The hill of 
Ziph is a flattened hill standing by itself, of about a hundred 
feet in height. " There is no spot from which you can obtain 
a better view of David's wanderings backwards and forwards 
in the desert than from the hill of Ziph, which affords a true 
panorama. The Ziphites could see David and his men moving 
to and fro in the mountains of the desert of Ziph, and could 
also perceive how he showed himself in the distance upon the 


hill Hachilah on the south side of Ziph (which lies to the right 
by the desert) ; whereupon they sent as quickly as possible to 
Saul, and betrayed to him the hiding-place of his enemy" (v. 
de Velde, ii. pp. 104-5). Jeshimon does not refer here to the 
waste land on the north-eastern coast of the Dead Sea, as in 
Num. xxi. 20, xxiii. 28, but to the western side of that sea, 
which is also desert. — Ver. 20 reads literally thus : " And now, 
according to all the desire of thy soul, hing, to come down 
(from Gibeah, which stood upon higher ground), come down, 
and it is in us to deliver him (David) into the hand of the king." 
— Ver. 21. For this treachery Saul blessed them : " Be blessed 
of the Lord, that ye have compassion upon me." In his evil con- 
science he suspected David of seeking to become his murderer, 
and therefore thanked God in his delusion that the Ziphites 
had had compassion upon him, and shown him David's hiding- 
place. — Ver. 22. In his anxiety, however, lest David should 
escape him after all, he charged them, " Go, and give still 
further heed (P^n without 37, as in Judg. xii. 6), and reconnoitre 
and look at his place where his foot cometh (this simply serves as 
a more precise definition of the pronominal suffix in iöipp^ his 
place), who hath seen him there {sc. let them inquire into this, 
that they may not be deceived by uncertain or false reports) : 
for it is told me that he dealeth very suhtilly." — Ver. 23. They 
were to search him out in every corner (the object to "^V^, must 
be supplied from the context). " And come ye again to me 
with the certainty (i.e. when you have got some certain intelli- 
gence concerning his hiding-place), that I may go with you; and 
if he is in the land, I will search him cut among all the thousands 
{i.e. families) of Judah." — Ver. 24. With this answer the Ziph- 
ites arose and " went to Ziph before Saul " (who would speedily 
follow with his warriors) ; but David had gone farther in the 
meantime, and was with his men " in the desert of Maon, in the 
steppe to the south of the wilderness." Maon, now Mam, is 
about three hours and three-quarters S.S.E. of Hebron (see at 
Josh. XV. 55), and therefore only two hours from Ziph, from 
which it is visible. " The table-land appears to terminate here ; 
nevertheless the principal ridge of the southern mountains runs 
for a considerable distance towards the south-west, whereas 
towards the south-east the land falls off more and more into 
a lower table-land." This is the Arabah or steppe on the right 

CHAP. XXIV. 1-8. _ 233 

of tlie wilderness (v. de Velde, ii. pp. 107-8). — Ver. 25. Having 
been informed of the arrival of Saul and his men (warriors), 
David went down the rock, and remained in the desert of 
Maori. " The rock^' is probably the conical mountain of 3fa{n 
(Maori), the top of which is now surrounded with ruins, pro- 
bably remains of a tower (Robinson, Pal. ii. p. 194), as the 
rock from which David came down can only have been the 
mountain (ver. 26), along one side of which David went with 
his men whilst Saul and his warriors went on the other, namely 
when Saul pursued him into the desert of Maon. — Vers. 26, 

27. " And David ivas anxiously concerned to escape from Saul, 
and Saul and his men were encircling David and his men to seize 
them ; but a messenger came to Saul. . . . Then Saul turned 
from pursuing David^ The two clauses, " for Saul and his 
men" (ver. 26?*), and "there came a messenger" (ver. 27), are 
the circumstantial clauses by which the situation is more clearly 
defined : the apodosis to ^H "'n^1_ does not follow till ^^Jl in ver. 

28. The apodosis cannot begin with ^^^ppi, because the verb 
does not stand at the head. David had thus almost inextricably 
fallen into the hands of Saul ; but God saved him by the fact 
that at that very moment a messenger arrived with the intelli- 
gence, "Hasten and go (come), for Philistines have fallen into 
the land," and thus called Saul away from any further pursuit 
of David. — Ver. 28. From this occurrence the place received 
the name of Sela-hammahlehoth, " roch of smoothnesses,^^ i.e. of 
slipping away or escaping, from P?n, in the sense of being 
smooth. This explanation is at any rate better supported than 
" rock of divisions, i.e. the rock at which Saul and David were 
separated" (Clericus), since Pr'O does not mean to separate. 


Vers. 1-8. Whilst Saul had gone against the Philistines, 
David left this dangerous place, and went to the mountain 
heights of Engedi, i.e. the present Ain-jidy (goat-fountain), in 
the middle of the western coast of the Dead Sea (see at Josh. 
XV. 62), which he could reach from Maon in six or seven hours. 
The soil of the neighbourhood consists entirely of limestone; 
but the rocks contain a considerable admixture of chalk and 
flint. Round about there rise bare conical mountains, and 


even ridges of from two to four hundred feet in height, which 
mostly run down to the sea. The steep mountains are inter- 
sected by wadys running down in deep ravines to the sea. 
" On all sides the country is full of caverns, which might then 
serve as lurking-places for David and his men, as they do for 
outlaws at the present day" (Rob. Pal. p. 203). — Vers. 1, 2. 
When Saul had returned from his march against the Phili 
stines, and was informed of this, he set out thither with three 
thousand picked men to search for David and his men in the 
wild-goat rocks. The expression " rocks of the loild goats " is 
probably not a proper name for some particular rocks, but a 
general term applied to the rocks of that locality on account of 
the number of wild goats and chamois that were to be found in 
all that region, as mountain goats are still (Rob. Pal. ii. p. 204). 
— Ver. 3. When Saul came to the sheep-folds by the way, 
where there was a cave, he entered it to cover his feet, whilst 
David and his men sat behind in the cave. V. de Velde (i?. ii. 
p. 74) supposes the place, where the sheep-folds by the roadside 
were, to have been the Wady Chareitun, on the south-west of 
the Frank mountain, and to the north-east of Tekoah, a very 
desolate and inaccessible valley. " Rocky, precipitous walls, 
which rise up one above another for many hundred feet, form 
the sides of this defile. Stone upon stone, and cliff above cliff, 
without any sign of being habitable, or of being capable of 
affording even a halting-place to anything but wild goats." Near 
the ruins of the village of Chareitun, hardly five minutes' walk 
to the east, there is a large cave or chamber in the rock, with 
a very narrow entrance entirely concealed by stones, and with 
many side vaults in which the deepest darkness reigns, at least 
to any one who has just entered the limestone vaults from the 
dazzling light of day. It may be argued in favour of the con- 
jecture that this is the cave which Saul entered, and at the 
back of which David and his men were concealed, that this 
cave is on the road from Bethlehem to Ain-jidy, and one of 
the largest caves in that district, if not the largest of all, and 
that, according to Pococke (JBeschr. des Morgenl. ii. p. 61), the 
Franks call it a labyrinth, the Arabs Elmaama, i.e. hiding- 
place, whilst the latter relate how at one time thirty thousand 
people hid themselves in it " to escape an evil wind," in all 
probabihty the simoom. The only difficulty connected with 

CHAP. XXIV. 8-16. 235 

this supposition is the distance from Ain-jidy, namely about 
four or five German miles (fifteen or twenty English), and the 
nearness of Tekoah, according to which it belongs to the desert 
of Tekoah rather than to that of Engedi. " To cover his feet " 
is a euphemism according to most of the ancient versions, as in 
Judg. iii. 24, for performing the necessities of nature, as it is a 
custom in the East to cover the feet. It does not mean " to 
sleep," as it is rendered in this passage in the Peschito, and also 
by Michaelis and others ; for although what follows may seem 
to favour this, there is apparently no reason why any such 
euphemistic expression should have been chosen for sleep. 
" The sides of the cave :^' i.e. the outermost or farthest sides. 
— Yer. 4. Then David's men said to him, " See, this is the 
day of which Jehovah hath said to thee. Behold, I give thine 
enemy into thy hand, and do to him what seemeth good to thee" 
Although these words might refer to some divine oracle which 
David had received through a prophet. Gad for example, what 
follows clearly shows that David had received no such oracle ; 
and the meaning of his men was simply this, " Behold, to-day 
is the day when God is saying to thee : " that is to say, the 
speakers regarded the leadings of providence by which Saul 
had been brought into David's power as a divine intimation to 
David himself to take this opportunity of slaying his deadly 
enemy, and called this intimation a word of Jehovah. David 
then rose up, and cut off the edge of Sauls cloak privily. Saul 
had probably laid the meil on one side, which rendered it pos- 
sible for David to cut off a piece of it unobserved. — Yer. 5. 
But his heart smote him after he had done it ; i.e. his conscience 
reproached him, because he regarded this as an injury done to 
the king himself. — Yer. 6. With all the greater firmness, there- 
fore, did he repel the suggestions of his men : " Far be it to 
me from Jehovah (on Jehovah's account: see at Josh. xxii. 29), 
that (QX, a particle denoting an oath) I shoidd do such a thing 
to my lord, the anointed of Jehovah, to stretch out my hand 
against him." These words of David show clearly enough that 
no word of Jehovah had come to him to do as he liked with 
Saul. — Yer. 7. Thus he kept back his people with words (V^^, 
verbis dilacere), and did not allow them to rise up against Saul, 
sc. to slay him. 

Yers. 8-16. But when Saul had gone out of the cave, David 


went out, and called, " My lord Mng^^ that when the king 
looked round he might expostulate with him, with the deepest 
reverence, but yet with earnest words, that should sharpen his 
conscience as to the unfounded nature of his suspicion and the 
injustice of his persecution. " Why dost tJiou hearken to loords 
of meriy who say, Behold, David seeketh thy hurt ? Behold, this 
day thine eyes have seen that Jehovah hath given thee to-day into 
my hand in the cave, and they said (1P^, thought) to kill thee, and 
I spared thee :" lit. it (mine eye) spared thee (cf. Gen. xlv. 20, 
Deut. vii. 16, etc., which show that ''J''^ is to be supplied). — 
Ver. 11. To confirm what he said, he then showed him the 
lappet of his coat which he had cut off, and said, " My father, 
seeV In these words there is an expression of the childlike 
reverence and affection which David cherished towards the 
anointed of the Lord. " For that I cut off the lappet and did 
not kill thee, learn and see (from this) that (there is) not evil in 
my hand (i.e. that I do not go about for the purpose of injury 
and crime), and that I have not sinned against thee, as thou never- 
theless layest wait for my soul to destroy it." — Vers. 12, 13. 
After he had proved to the king in this conclusive manner that 
he had no reason whatever for seeking his life, he invoked the 
Lord as judge between him and his adversary: "Jehovah will 
avenge me upon thee, but my hand ivill not he against thee. As 
the proverb of the ancients C^iöHjpn is used collectively) says, 
Evil proceedeth from the evil, but my hand shall not be upon thee." 
The meaning is this : Only a wicked man could wish to avenge 
himself ; I do not. — Ver. 14. And even if he should wish to 
attack the king, he did not possess the power. This thought 
introduces ver. 14 : " After whom is the king of Israel gone out f 
After whom dost thou pursue ? A dead dog, a single flea y By 
these similes David meant to describe himself as a perfectly 
harmless and insignificant man, of whom Saul had no occasion 
to be afraid, and whom the king of Israel ought to think it 
beneath his dignity to pursue. A dead dog cannot bite or hurt, 
and is an object about which a king ought not to trouble him- 
self (cf. 2 Sam. ix. 8 and xvi. 9, where the idea of something 
contemptible is included). The point of comparison with a flea is 
the insignificance of such an animal (cf. ch. xxvi. 20).— Ver. 15. 
As Saul had therefore no good ground for persecuting David, 
the latter could very calmly commit his cause to the Ijord God, 

CHAP. XXIV. 16-22. 237 

that He might decide it as judge, and deliver him out of the 
hand of Saul : " Let Him look at it, and conduct my cause" etc. 
Vers. 16-22 These words made an impi*ession upon Saul. 
David's conduct went to his heart, so that he wept aloud, and 
confessed to him : " Thou art more righteous tlian I, for thou 
hast shoion me good, and I (have shown) thee evil; and thou 
hast given me a proof of this to-day." — Ver. 19. ^' If a man 
meet tvith his enemy, xoill he send him (let him go) in peace'?" 
This sentence is to be regarded as a question, which requires a 
negative reply, and expresses the thought : When a man meets 
with an enemy, he does not generally let him escape without 
injury. But thou hast acted very differently towards me. This 
thought is easily supplied from the context, and what follows 
attaches itself to this : " The Lord repay thee good for what thou 
hast done to me this day" — Vers. 20, 21. This wish was expressed 
in perfect sincerity. David's behaviour towards him had con- 
quered for the moment the evil demon of his heart, and com- 
pletely altered his feelings. In this better state of mind he 
felt impelled even to give utterance to these words, '' / knoio 
that thou teilt be king, and the sovereignty will have perpetuity in 
thy hand." Saul could not prevent this conviction from forcing 
itself upon him, after his own rejection and the failure of all 
that he attempted against David ; and it was this which drove 
him to persecute David whenever the evil spirit had the upper 
hand in his soul. But now that better feelings had arisen in 
his mind, he littered it without envy, and merely asked David 
to promise on oath that he would not cut off his descendants 
after his death, and seek to exterminate his name from his 
father's house. A name is exterminated when the whole of 
the descendants are destroyed, — a thing of frequent occurrence 
in the East in connection with a change of dynasties, and one 
which occurred .again and again even in the kingdom of the 
ten tribes (vid. 1 Kings xv. 28 sqq., xvi. 11 sqq. ; 2 Kings x.). 
— Ver. 22. When David had sworn this, Saul returned home. 
But David remained upon the mountain heights, because he 
did not regard the passing change in Saul's feelings as likely to 
continue. n'l'iVian (translated " the hold") is used here to denote 
the mountainous part of the desert of Judah. It is different 
in ch. xxii. 5. 



Ver. 1. The death of Samuel is inserted here, because it 
occurred at that time. The fact that all Israel assembled to- 
gether to his burial, and lamented him, i.e. mourned for him, 
was a- sign that his labours as a prophet were recognised by the 
whole nation as a blessing for Israel. Since the days of Moses 
and Joshua, no man had arisen to whom the covenant nation 
owed so much as to Samuel, who has been justly called the 
reformer and restorer of the theocracy. They buried him " in 
his house at Ramah.'^ The expression " his house" does not 
mean his burial-place or family tomb, nor his native place, 
but the house in which he lived, with the court belonging to it, 
where Samuel was placed in a tomb erected especially for him. 
After the death of Samuel, David went down into the desert 
of Paran, i.e. into the northern portion of the desert of Arabia, 
which stretches up to the mountains of Judah (see at Num. 
X. 12) ; most likely for no other reason than because he could 
no longer find sufficient means of subsistence for himself and 
his six hundred men in the desert of Judah. 

Vers. 2-44. The following history of NahaVs folly, and of 
the wise and generous behaviour of his pious and intelligent 
wife Abigail towards David, shows how Jehovah watched over 
His servant David, and not only preserved him from an act of 
passionate excitement, which might have endangered his calling 
to be king of Israel, but turned the trouble into which he had 
been brought into a source of prosperity and salvation. 

Vers. 2-13. At Maoti, i.e. Main or the mountains of Judah 
(see at Josh. xv. 55), there lived a rich man (''i"'^, gi^eat through 
property and riches), who had his establishment at Carmel. 
riK^yOj work, occupation, then establishment, possessions {vid. 
Ex. xxiii. 16). Carmel is not the promontory of that name 
(Thenius), but the present Kurmicl on the mountains of Judah, 
scarcely half an hour's journey to the north-west of Maon (see 
at Josh. XV. 55). This man possessed three thousand sheep 
and a thousand goats, and was at the sheep-shearing at Car- 
mel. His name was Nahal (i.e. fool) : this was hardly his 
proper name, but was a surname by which he was popularly 
designated on account of his folly. His wife Abigail was " of 
good understanding^'' i.e. intelligent, ^^ and of beautiful figure ;^* 

CHAP. XXV. 2-13. 239 

but the husband was "harsh and evil in his doings." He 
sprang from the family of Caleb. This is the rendering 
adopted by the Chaldee and Vulgate, according to the Keri 
"•373. The Chethihh is to be read 13/3, " according to his 
heart;" though the LXX. {ävOpciiiro'i kvvik6<;) and Joseph us, as 
well as the Arabic and Syriac, derive it from 373^ and under- 
stand it as referring to the dog-like, or shameless, character 
of the man. — Vers. 4, 5. When David heard in the desert (cf. 
ver. 1) that Nabal was shearing his sheep, which was generally 
accompanied with a festal meal (see at Gen. xxxviii. 12), he 
sent ten young men up to Carmel to him, and bade them wish 
him peace and prosperity in his name, and having reminded 
him of the friendly services rendered to his shepherds, solicit 
a present for himself and his people. Dixy )? p^^, ask him 
after his welfare, i.e. greet hinsuin a friendly manner (cf. Ex. 
xviii. 7). The word ''n? is obscure, and was interpreted by the 
early translators merely according to uncertain conjectures. 
The simplest explanation is apparently in vitam^ long life, 
understood as a wish in the sense of " good fortune to you " 
(Luther, Maurer, etc.) ; although the word '•n in the singular 
can only be shown to have the meaning life in connection with 
the formula used in oaths, ^tf'S? ''D, etc. But even if '•n must 
be taken as an adjective, it is impossible to explain ''H? in any 
other way than as an elliptical exclamation meaning " good 
fortune to the living man." For the idea that the word is to 
be connected with DJ^l.^frJ, "say to the living man," i.e. to the 
man if still alive, is overthrown by the fact that David had no 
doubt that Nabal was still living. The words which follow 
are also to be understood as a wish, " May thou and thy house, 
and all that is thine, be well !" After this salutation they were 
to proceed with the object of their visit: "And noxo I have 
heard that thou hast sheep-shearers. Now thy shepherds have been 
with us; we have done them no harm (DY3n, as in Judg. xviii. 
7 : on the form, see Ges. § 53, 3, Anm. 6), and nothing was 
missed by them so long as they were in CarmeU' When living 
in the desert, David's men had associated with the shepherds of 
Kabal, rendered them various services, and protected them and 
their flocks against the southern inhabitants of the desert (the 
Bedouin Arabs) ; in return for which they may have given 
them food and information. Thus David proved himself a 


protector of his people even in his banishment. I^Völl, "so 
may the young men (those sent by David) find favour in thine 
eyes ! for we have come to a good (i.e. a festive) day. Give, 1 
pray, what thy hand findeth (i.e. as much as thou canst) to thy 
servant, and to thy son David," With the expression '^ thy son" 
David" claims Nabal's fatherly goodwill. So far as the fact 
itself is concerned, " on such a festive occasion near a town or 
village even in our own time, an Arab sheikh of the neighbour- 
ing desert would hardly fail to put in a word either in person 
or by message ; and his message both in form and substance 
would be only the transcript of that of David" (Robinson, 
Palestine, p. 201). — Ver. 9. David's messengers delivered their 
message to Nabal, ^ni3*1, " and sat down" sc. awaiting the fulfil- 
ment of their request. The rendering given by the Chaldee 
(^pDQ, cessaverunt loqui) and the Vulgate (siliceru7it) is less 
suitable, and cannot be philologically sustained. The Septua- 
gint, on the other hand, has koI aveTnjSrjcre, "and he (Nabal) 
sprang up," as if the translators had read Dj^Jl (vid. LXX. at 
ch. XX. 34). This rendering, according to which the word 
belongs to the following clause, gives a very appropriate sense, 
if only, supposing that Di^*l really did stand in the text, the 
origin and general adoption of ini:*1 could in any way be ex- 
plained. — Ver. 10. Nabal refused the petitioners in the most 
churlish manner : " Who is David ? who the son of Jesse f" i.e. 
what have I to do with David ? " There be many servants now- 
a-days who tear away every one from his master." Thus, in 
order to justify his own covetousness, he set down David as a 
vagrant who had run away from his master. — Ver. 11. ^^ And 
I should take my bread and my loater (i.e. my food and drink), 
and tny cattle, . . . and give them to men ivhom I do not know 
whence they areV^ ''^Oi??'! is a perfect with vav consec, and the 
whole sentence is to be taken as a question. — Vers. 12, 13. 
The messengers returned to David with this answer. The 
churlish reply could not fail to excite his anger. He therefore 
commanded his people to gird on the sword, and started with 
400 men to take vengeance upon Nabal, whilst 200 remained 
behind with the things. 

Vers. 14-31. However intelligible David's wrath may 
appear in the situation in which he was placed, it was not right 
before God, but a sudden burst of sinful passion, which was 

CHAP. XXV. 14-3L 241 

unseemly in a servant of God. By carrying out his intention, 
he would have sinned against the Lord and against His people. 
But the Lord preserved him from this sin by the fact that, just 
at the right time, Abigail, the intelligent and pious wife of 
Nabal, heard of the affair, and was able to appease the wrath 
of David by her immediate and kindly interposition. — Vers. 
14, 15. Abigail heard from one of (Nabal's) servants what had 
taken place {T}^, to wish any one prosperity and health, i.e. 
to salute, as in ch. xiii. 10 ; and ^V^, from ^''V, to speak wrath 
fully: on the form, see at ch, xv. 19 and xiv. 32), and also 
what had been praiseworthy in the behaviour of David's men 
towards Nabal's shepherds ; how they had not only done them 
no injury, had not robbed them of anything, but had defended 
them all the while. " They were a xoall (i.e. a firm protection) 
round us by night and by day, as long as we were ivith them 
feeding the sheep," i.e. a wall of defence against attacks from 
the Bedouins living in the desert. — Ver. 17. ''And noiu,'^ 
continued the servant, " know and see what thou doest ; for evil 
is determined (cf. ch. xx. 9) against our master and all his 
house : and he (Nabal) is a wicked man, that one cannot address 
himJ^ — Vers. 18, 19. Then Abigail took as quickly as possible 
a bountiful present of provisions, — tioo hundred loaves, two 
bottles of wine, five prepared (i.e. slaughtered) sheep (n'lwy, a 
rare form for T\^V^V: see Ewald, § 189, a), five seahs (an ephah 
and two-thirds) of roasted grains (Kali: see ch. xvii. 17), a 
hundred Q"'p^V (dried grapes, i.e. raisin-cakes : Ital. simmuki), 
and two hundred fig-cakes (consisting of pressed figs joined 
together), — and sent these gifts laden upon asses on before her 
to meet David, whilst she herself followed behind to appease 
his anger by coming to meet him in a friendly manner, but 
without saying a word to her husband about what she intended 
to do. — Ver. 20. When she came down riding upon the ass by 
a hidden part of the mountain, David and his men came to 
meet her, so that she lighted upon them, inn "inp, a hidden 
part of the mountain, was probably a hollow between two 
peaks of a mountain. This would explain the use of the word 
*TV, to come down, with reference both to Abigail, who ap- 
proached on the one side, and David, who came on the other. 
— Vers. 21 and 22 contain a circumstantial clause introduced 
parenthetically to explain what follows : but David had said, 



Only for deception (i.e. for no other purpose than to be deceived 
in my expectation) have I defended all that belongs to this man 
(Nabal) in the desert, so that nothing of his was missed, and 
(for) he hath repaid me evil for good. God do so to the enemies 
of David, if I leave, etc. ; i.e. " as truly as God will punish the 
enemies of David, so certainly will I not leave till the morning 
light, of all that belongeth to him, one that pisseth against the 
wall." This oath, in which the punishment of God is not 
called down upon the swearer himself (God do so to me), as it 
generally is, but upon the enemies of David, is analogous to 
that in ch. iii. 17, where punishment is threatened upon the 
person addressed, who is there made to swear; except that 
here, as the oath could not be uttered in the ears of the person 
addressed, upon whom it was to fall, the enemies generally are 
mentioned instead of " to theeJ' There is no doubt, therefore, 
as to the correctness of the text. The substance of this im- 
precation may be explained from the fact that David is so full 
of the consciousness of fighting and suffering for the cause of 
the kingdom of God, that he discerns in the insult heaped 
upon him by Nabal an act of hostility to the Lord and the 
cause of His kingdom. The phrase "l^7? T^^^i mingens in 
parietem, is only met with in passages which speak of the 
destruction of a family or household to the very last man (viz., 
besides this passage, 1 Kings xiv. 10, xvi. 11, xxi. 21 ; 2 Kings 
ix. 8), and neither refers primarily to dogs, as Ephraem Syrus, 
Juda ben Karish, and others maintain ; nor to the lowest class 
of men, as Winer, Maurer, and others imagine ; nor to little 
boys, as L. de Dieu, Gesenius, etc., suppose ; but, as we may see 
from the explanatory clause appended to 1 Kings xiv. 10, xxi. 
21, 2 Kings ix. 8, to every male {quemcumque masculi generis 
hominem : vid. Bochart, Hieroz. i. pp. 776 sqq., and Rödiger 
on Ges. Thes. pp. 1397-8). — Ver. 23 is connected with ver. 20. 
When Abigail saw David, she descended hastily from the 
ass, fell upon her face before him, bowed to the ground, and 
fell at his feet, saying, " Upon me, me, my lord, be the guilt ; 
allow thy handmaid to reveal the thing to thee." She takes the 
guilt upon herself, because she hopes that David will not avenge 
it upon her. — Ver. 25. She prayed that David would take no 
notice of Nabal, for he was what his name declared — a fool, 
and folly in him; but she (Abigail) had not seen the messengers 

CHAP. XXV. 14-31. 243 

of David. " The prudent woman uses a good argument ; for 
a wise man should pardon a fool" (Seb. Schmidt). She then 
endeavours to bring David to a friendly state of mind by three 
arguments, introduced with nriyi (vers. 26, 27), before asking for 
forgiveness (ver. 28). She first of all pointed to the leadings of 
God, by which David had been kept from committing murder 
through her coming to meet him.^ "^s truly as Jehovah livethy 
and by the life of thy soul ! yea, the Lord hath kept thee, that 
thou earnest not into blood-guiltiness, and thy hand helped thee^* 
(i.e. and with thy hand thou didst procure thyself help). "IK^X, 
introducing her words, as in ch. xv. 20, lit. " as truly as thou 
livest, (so true is it) that," etc. In the second place, she points 
to the fact that God is the avenger of the wicked, by expressing 
the wish that all the enemies of David may become fools like 
Nabal ; in connection with which it must be observed, in order 
to understand her words fully, that, according to the Old Tes- 
tament representation, folly is a correlate of ungodliness, which 
inevitably brings down punishment.^ The predicate to the sen- 
tence " and they that seek evil to my lord" must be supplied from 
the preceding words, viz. " may they become just such fools." — 
Ver. 27. It is only in the third line that she finally mentions the 
present, but in such a manner that she does not offer it directly 
to David, but describes it as a gift for the men in his train. 
"And now this blessing ('"'9'3? ^^^^^^ ^^^ ^^^' ^^^- ^6, as in Gen. 
xxxiii. 11 : cf. 77 evXayla, 2 Cor. ix. 5, 6), which thine handmaid 
hath brought, let it be given to the young men in my lord's train" 
(lit. " at the feet of:" cf. Ex. xi. 8; Judg. iv. 10, etc.). — 
Ver. 28. The shrewd and pious woman supports her prayer for 

^ " She founds her argument upon their meeting, which was so mar- 
vellously seasonable, that it might be easily and truly gathered from this 
fact that it had taken place through the providence of God ; i.e. And now, 
because I meet thee so seasonably, do thou piously acknowledge with me 
the providence of God, which has so arranged all this, that innocent blood 
might not by chance be shed by thee." — Seb. Schmidt. 

2 Seb. Schmidt has justly observed, that " she reminds David of the 
promise of God. Not that she prophesies, but that she has gathered it 
from the general promises of the word of God. The promise referred to is, 
that whoever does good to his enemies, and takes no vengeance upon them, 
God himself will avenge him upon his enemies ; according to the saying. 
Vengeance is mine, I will repay. And this is what Abigail says : And 
now thine enemies shall be as Nabal." 


forgiveness of the wrong, which she takes upon herself, by 
promises of the rich blessing with which the Lord would recom- 
pense David. She thereby gives such clear and distinct ex- 
pression to her firm belief in the divine election of David as 
king of Israel, that her words almost amount to prophecy : 
" For' Jeliovali will make my lofd a lasting house (cf. ch. ii. 35 ; 
and for the fact itself, 2 Sam. vii. 8 sqq., where the Lord con- 
firms this pious wish by His own promises to David himself) ; 
for my lord fighteth the ivars of Jehovah (yid. ch. xviii. 17), and 
evil is not discovered in thee thy whole life long^ nyn^ evil, i.e. 
misfortune, mischief ; for the thought that he might also be 
preserved from wrong-doing is not expressed till ver. 3L ^'All 
thy days" lit. " from thy days," i.e. from the beginning of thy 
life. — Ver. 29. " Aiid should any one rise up to pursue thee, . . . 
the sold of my lord will be hound up in tJie bundle of the living 
with the Lord thy Gody The metaphor is taken from the 
custom of binding up valuable things in a bundle, to prevent 
their being injured. The words do not refer primarily to eternal 
life with God in heaven, but only to the safe preservation of 
the righteous on this earth in the grace and fellowship of the 
Lord. But whoever is so hidden in the gracious fellowship of 
the Lord in this life, that no enemy can harm him or injure 
his life, the Lord will not allow to perish, even though temporal 
death should come, but will then receive him into eternal life. 
" But the soul of thine enemies, He will hurl away in the cup of 
the sling.'" " The cup (caph : cf. Gen. xxxii. 26) of the sling" 
was the cavity in which the stone was placed for the purpose of 
hurhng. — Vers. 30, 3L Abigail concluded her intercession with 
the assurance that the forgiveness of Nabal's act would be no 
occasion of anguish of heart to David when he should have 
become prince over Israel, on account of his having shed inno- 
cent blood and helped himself, and also with the hope that he 
would remember her. From the words, " When Jehovah shall 
do to my lord according to all the good that He hath spoken con- 
cerning him, and shall make thee prince over Israel," it appears 
to follow that Abigail had received certain information of the 
anointing of David, and his designation to be the future king, 
probably through Samuel, or one of the pupils of the prophets. 
There is nothing to preclude this assumption, even if it cannot 
be historically sustained. Abigail manifests such an advance 

CHAP. XXV. 32-38. 245 

and maturity in the life of faith, as could only have been derived 
from intercourse with prophets. It is expressly stated with 
regard to Elijah and Elisha, that at certain times the pious 
assembled together around the prophets. What prevents us 
from assuming the same with regard to Samuel? The absence 
of any distinct testimony to that effect is amply compensated 
for by tlie brief, and for the most part casual, notices that are 
given of the influence which Samuel exerted upon all Israel. — 
Ver. 31 introduces the apodosis to ver. 30 : So will this (i.e. 
the forgiveness of Nabal's folly, for which she had prayed in 
ver. 28) not be a stumbling-block (pukah : anything in the road 
which causes a person to stagger) aiid anguish of heart (i.e. 
conscientious scruple) to thee, and shedding innocent blood, and 
that my lord helps himself. '131 '^'^'v?\ is perfectly parallel to 
'1J1 ni^lDpj and cannot be taken as subordinate, as it is in the 
Vulgate, etc., in the sense of " that thou hast not shed blood 
innocently," etc. In this rendering not only is the vav cop. 
overlooked, but " not" is arbitrarily interpolated, to obtain a 
suitable sense, which the Vulgate rendering, quod effuderis 
sanguinem innoxiam, does not give. 2''^''v)1 is to be taken con- 
ditionally : " and if Jehovah shall deal well with my lord, 
then," etc. 

Vers. 32-38. These words could not fail to appease David's 
wrath. In his reply he praised the Lord for having sent Abi- 
gail to meet him (ver. 32), and then congratulated Abigail upon 
her understanding and her actions, that she had kept him from 
bloodshed (ver. 33) ; otherwise he would certainly have carried 
out the revenge which he had resolved to take upon Nabal 
(ver. 34). DPW1 is strongly adversative : nevertheless. V'}^)^, inf. 
constr. Hiph. of VVT^. ""S, oti, introduces the substance of the 
affirmation, and is repeated before the oath : DX '•3 . . . v6 ''3, 
(that) if thou hadst not, etc., (that) truly there would not have 
been left (cf. 2 Sam. ii. 27). The very unusual form "'n^^'^, an 
imperfect with the termination of the perfect, might indeed 
possibly be a copyist's error for ''5<3ri (Olsh. Gr. pp. 452, 525), 
but in all probability it is only an intensified form of the second 
pers. fem. imperf., like nnxinn (Deut. xxxiii. 16 ; cf. Ewald, 
§ 191, c). — Ver. 35. David then received the gifts brought for 
him, and bade Abigail return to her house, with the assurance 
that he had granted her request for pardon. Q''JS K^J, as in Gen. 


xix. 21, etc. — Ver. 36. When Abigail returned home, she found 
her husband at a great feast, like a king's feast, very merry (y^V, 
" therewith," refers to i^Jji^O : cf. Prov. xxiii. 30), and drunken 
above measure, so that she told him nothing of what had occurred 
until the break of day. — Ver. 37. Then, " when the wine had 
gone from JVabal," i.e. when he had become sober, she related 
the matter to him ; whereat he was so terrified, that he was 
smitten with a stroke. This is the meaning of the words, 
" his heart died within him, and it became as stone." The 
cause of it was not his anger at the loss he had sustained, or 
merely his alarm at the danger to which he had been exposed, 
and which he did not believe to be over yet, but also his vexa- 
tion that his wife should have made him humble himself in 
such a manner ; for he is described as a hard, i.e. an unbending, 
self-willed man. — Ver> 38. About ten days later the Lord smote 
him so that he died, i.e. the Lord put an end to his life by 3 
second stroke. 

Vers. 39-44. When David heard of Nabal's death, he 
praised Jehovah that He had avenged his shame upon Nabal, 
and held him back from self-revenge. 'IJI 3"i "•ti'Nl, " who hath 
pleaded the cause of my reproach (the disgi*ace inflicted upon 
me) against Nabal." '^Against Nabal" does not belong to 
" my reproach^^ but to ^^ pleaded the cause" The construction 
of 3^T with IP is a pregnant one, to fight (and deliver) out of 
the power of a person (yid. Ps. xliii. 1) ; whereas here the 
fundamental idea is that of taking vengeance upon a person. — 
Ver. 40. He then sent messengers to Abigail, and conveyed to 
her his wish to marry her, to which she consented without 
hesitation. With deep reverence she said to the messengers 
(ver. 41), " Behold, thy handmaid as servant {i.e. iß ready to 
become thy servant) to wash the feet of the servants of my 
lord;" i.e., in the obsequious style of the East, "I am ready to 
perform the humblest possible services for thee." — Ver. 42. 
She then rose up hastily, and went after the messengers to 
David with five damsels in her train, and became his wife. — 
A^er. 43. The historian appends a few notices here concerning 
David's wives : " And David had taken Ahinoam from Jezreel ; 
thus they also both became his lüives." The expression " also" 
points to David's marriage with Michal, the daughter of Saul 
(eh. xviii. 28). Jezreel is not the city of that name in the tribe 

CHAP. XXVI. 247 

of Issachar (Josh. xlx. 18), but the one in the mountains of 
Judah (Josh. xv. 56). — Ver. 44. But Saul had taken his 
daughter Michal away from David, and given her to Palti of 
Gallim. Palti is called Paltiel in 2 Sam. iii. 15. According 
to Isa. X. 30, Gallim was a place between Gibeah of Saul and 
Jerusalem. Valentiner supposes it to be the hill to the south 
of Tuleil el Phul (Gibeah of Saul) called Khirhet el Jisr. 
After the death of Saul, however, David persuaded Ishbosheth 
to give him Michal back again (see 2 Sam. iii. 14 sqq.). 


The repetition not only of the treachery of the Ziphites, but 
also of the sparing of Saul by David, furnishes no proof in itself 
that the account contained in this chapter is only another legend 
of the occurrences already related in ch. xxiii. 19-xxiv. 23. As 
the pursuit of David by Saul lasted for several years, in so 
small a district as the desert of Judah, there is nothing strange 
in the repetition of the same scenes. And the assertion made 
by Thenius, that " Saul would have been a moral monster, 
which he evidently was not, if he had pursued David with 
quiet deliberation, and through the medium of the same persons, 
and had sought his life again, after his own life had been so 
magnanimously spared by him," not only betrays a superficial 
acquaintance with the human heart, but is also founded upon 
the mere assertion, for which there is no proof, that Saul was 
evidently not so ; and it is proved to be worthless by the fact, 
that after the first occasion on which his life was so magnani- 
mously spared by David, he did not leave off seeking him up 
and down in the land, and that David was obliged to seek 
refuge with the Philistines in consequence, as may be seen 
from ch. xxvii,, which Thenius himself assigns to the same 
source as ch. xxiv. The agreement between the two accounts 
reduces it entirely to outward and unessential things. It con- 
sists chiefly in the fact that the Ziphites came twice to Saul at 
Gibeah, and informed him that David was stopping in their 
neighbourhood, in the hill Hachilah, and also that Saul went 
out twice in pursuit of David with 3000 men. But the three 
thousand were the standing body of men that Saul had raised 


from the very beginning of his reign out of the whole number 
of those who were capable of bearing arms, for the purpose of 
carrying on his smaller wars (ch. xiii. 2) ; and the hill of 
Hachilah appears to have been a place in the desert of Judah 
peculiarly well adapted for the site of an encampment. On the 
other liand, all the details, as well as the final results of the two 
occurrences, differ entirely from one another. When David 
was betrayed the first time, he drew back into the desert of 
Maon before the advance of Saul ; and being completely sur- 
rounded by Saul upon one of the mountains there, was only saved 
from being taken prisoner by the circumstance that Saul was 
compelled suddenly to relinquish the pursuit of David on account 
of the report that the Philistines had invaded the land (ch. xxiii. 
25-28). But on the second occasion Saul encamped upon the 
hill of Hachilah, whilst David had drawn back into the adjoin- 
ing desert, from which he crept secretly into Saul's encampment, 
and might, if he had chosen, have put his enemy to death 
(ch. xxvi. 3 sqq-)* There is quite as much difference in the 
minuter details connected with the sparing of Saul. On the 
first occasion, Saul entered a cave in the desert of Engedi, 
whilst David and his men were concealed in the interior of the 
cave, without having the smallest suspicion that they were any- 
where near (ch. xxiv. 2-4). The second time David went with 
Abishai into the encampment of Saul upon the hill of Hachilah, 
while the king and all his men were sleeping (ch. xxvi. 3, 5). 
It is true that on both occasions David's men told him that God 
had given his enemy into his hand ; but the first time they 
added. Do to him wliat seemeth good in thy sight ; and David 
cut off the lappet of Saul's coat, whereupon his conscience smote 
him, and he said, " Far be it from me to lay my hand upon 
the Lord's anointed" (ch. xxiv. 5-8). In the second instance, 
on the contrary, when David saw Saul in the distance lying by 
the carriage rampart and the army sleeping round him, he called 
to two of his heroes, Ahimelech and Abishai, to go with him 
into the camp of the sleeping foe, and then went thither with 
Abishai, who thereupon said to him, " God hath delivered thine 
enemy into thy hand : let me alone, that I may pierce him with 
the spear." But David rejected this proposal, and merely took 
away the spear and water-bowl that were at Saul's head (ch. 
xxvi. 6-12). And lastly, notwithstanding the fact that the 

CHAP. XXVI. 1-12. 249 

words of David and replies of Saul agree in certain general 
thoughts, yet they differ entirely in the main. On the first 
occasion David showed the king that his life had been in his 
power, and yet he had spared him, to dispel the delusion that 
he was seeking his life (ch. xxiv. 10-16). On the second occa- 
sion he asked the king why he was pursuing him, and called 
to him to desist from his pursuit (ch. xxvi. 18 sqq.). But 
Saul was so affected the first time that he wept aloud, and 
openly declared that David would obtain the kingdom; and 
asked him to promise on oath, that when he did, he would not 
destroy his family (ch. xxiv. 17-23). The second time, on the 
contrary, he only declared that he had sinned and acted foolishly, 
and would do David no more harm, and that David would 
undertake and prevail ; but he neither shed tears, nor brought 
himself to speak of David's ascending the throne, so that he was 
evidently much more hardened than before (ch. xxvi. 21-25). 
These decided differences prove clearly enough that the incident 
described in this chapter is not the same as the similar one men- 
tioned in ch. xxiii. and xxiv., but belongs to a later date, when 
Saul's enmity and hardness had increased. 

Vers. 1-12. The second betrayal of David by the Ziphites 
occurred after David had married Abigail at Carmel, and when 
he had already returned to the desert of Judah. On vers. 1 
and 2 compare the explanations of ch. xxiii. 19 and xxiv. 3. 
Instead of " before (in the face of) Jeshimon" {i.e. the wilderness), 
we find the situation defined more precisely in ch. xxiii. 19, as 
" to the right (i.e. on the south) of the wilderness^ (Jeshimon). — 
Vers. 3, 4. When David saw (i.e. perceived) in the desert that 
Saul was coming behind him, he sent out spies, and learned from 
them that he certainly had come (P^J"''^, for a certainty, as in 
ch. xxiii. 23). — Vers. 5 sqq. Upon the receipt of this informa- 
tion, David rose up with two attendants (mentioned in ver. 6) 
to reconnoitre the camp of Saul. When he saw the place where 
Saul and his general Abner were lying — Saul was lying by the 
waggon rampart, and the fighting men were encamped round 
about him — he said to Ahimelech and Abishai, " Who xoill go 
down with me into the camp to Saul?" Whereupon Abishai 
declared himself ready to do so ; and they both went by night, 
and found Saul sleeping with all the people. Ahimelech the 
Hittite is never mentioned again ; but Abishai the son of 


Zeruiah, David's sister (1 Chron. ii. 16), and a brother of Joab^ 
was afterwards a celebrated general of David, as was also his 
brother Joab (2 Sam. xvi. 9, xviii. 2, xxi. 17). Saul's spear 
was pressed (stuck) into the ground at his head, as a sign that 
the king was sleeping there, for the spear served Saul as a 
sceptre (cf. ch. xviii. 10). — Ver. 8. When Abishai exclaimed, 
" God hath delivered thine enemy into thy hand: now will I 
pierce him with the spear into the ground with a stroke, and will 
give no second" (sc. stroke : the Vulgate rendering gives the 
sense exactly : et secundo non opus erit, there will be no neces- 
sity for a second), David replied, " Destroy him not ; for who 
hath stretched out his hand against the anointed of the Lord, and 
remained unhurt?" <^\^^, as in Ex. xxi. 19, Num. v. 31. He 
then continued (in vers. 10, 11) : " As tridy as Jehovah liveth, 
unless Jehovah smite him (i.e. carry him off with a stroke ; cf. ch. 
XXV. 38), or his day cometh that he dies (i.e. or he dies a natural 
death ; * his day ' denoting the day of death, as in Job xiv. 6, 
XV. 32), or he goes into battle and is carried off, far he it from 
me loith Jehovah (J^^p')''?, as in ch. xxiv. 7) to stretch forth my hand 
against Jehovah' s anointed." The apodosis to ver. 10 commences 
with rh'hn, " far be it," or « the Lord forbid," in ver. 11. " Take 
now the spear which is at his head, and the pitcher, and let us go.'* 
— Ver. 12. They departed with these trophies, without any one 
waking up and seeing them, because they were all asleep, as a 
deep sleep from the Lord had fallen upon them. ^^NB' "•nb'Nnp 
stands for '^ ^nb'SnDö, « from the head of Saul," with O dropped. 
The expression " a deep sleep of Jehovah," i.e. a deep sleep 
sent or inflicted by Jehovah, points to the fact that the Lord 
favoured David's enterprise. 

Vers. 13-20. '^ And David went over to the other side, and 
placed himself upon the top of the mountain afar off (the space 
between them was great), and cried to the people," etc. Saul 
had probably encamped with his fighting men on the slope of 
the hill Hachilah, so that a valley separated him from the 
opposite hill, from which David had no doubt reconnoitred the 
camp and then gone down to it (ver. 6), and to which he re- 
turned after the deed was accomplished. The statement that 
this mountain was far off, so that there was a great space 
between David and Saul, not only favours the accuracy of the 
historical tradition, but shows that David reckoned fur less 

CHAP. XXVI. 13-20. 251 

now upon any change in the state of Saul's mind than he had 
done before, when he followed Saul without hesitation from 
the cave and called after him (ch. xxiv. 9), and that in fact he 
rather feared lest Saul should endeavour to get him into his 
power as soon as he woke from his sleep. — Ver. 14. David 
called out to Abner, whose duty it was as general to defend 
the life of his king. And Abner replied, " Who art thou, xcho 
criest out to thekingV^ i.e. offendest the king by thy shouting, 
and disturbest his rest. — Vers. 15, 16. David in return taunted 
Abner with having watched the king carelessly, and made him- 
self chargeable with his death. " For one of the people came to 
destroy thy lord the hing." As a proof of this, he then showed 
him the spear and pitcher that he had taken away with him. 
HNT is to be repeated in thought before nnsV"nNi : " look where 
the king's spear is; and (look) at the pitcher at his head" sc. 
where it is. These reproaches that were cast at Abner were 
intended to show to Saul, who might at any rate possibly hear, 
and in fact did hear, that David was the most faithful defender 
of his life, more faithful than his closest and most zealous ser- 
vants. — Vers. 17, 18. When Saul heard David's voice (for he 
could hardly have seen David, as the occurrence took place before 
daybreak, at the latest when the day began to dawn), and David 
had made himself known to the king in reply to his inquiry, 
David said, " Why doth my lord pursue his servant ? for what 
have I done, and what evil is in my handV^ He then gave him 
the well-meant advice, to seek reconciliation for his wrath against 
him, and not to bring upon himself the guilt of allowing David 
to find his death in a foreign land. The words, ^^ and noio let 
my lord the king hear the saying of his servant" serve to indicate 
that what follows is important, and worthy of laying to heart. 
In his words, David supposes two cases as conceivable causes of 
Saul's hostility : (1) if Jehovah hath stirred thee up against 
me ; (2) if men have done so. In the first case, he proposes as 
the best means of overcoming this instigation, that He (Jehovah) 
should smell an offering. The Iliphil nn^ only means to smell, 
not to cause to smell. The subject is Jehovah. Smelling a 
sacrifice is an anthropomorphic term, used to denote the divine 
satisfaction (cf. Gen. viii. 21). The meaning of the words, "let 
Jehovah smell sacrifice" is therefore, " let Saul appease the wrath 
of God by the presentation of acceptable sacrifices." What 


sacrifices they are which please God, is shown in Ps. li. 18, 19 ; 
and it is certainly not by accident merely that David uses the 
word minchah, the technical expression in the law for the blood 
less sacrifice, which sets forth the sanctification of life in good 
works. The thought to which David gives utterance here, 
namely,, that God instigates a man to evil actions, is met with in 
other passages of the Old Testament. It not only lies at the 
foundation of the words of David in Ps. li. 6 (cf. Hengstenberg 
on Psalms), but is also clearly expressed in 2 Sam. xxiv. 1, 
where Jehovah instigates David to number the people, and 
where this instigation is described as a manifestation of the anger 
of God against Israel ; and in 2 Sam. xvi. 10 sqq., where David 
says, with regard to Shimei, that God had bade him curse him. 
These passages also show that God only instigates those who have 
sinned against Him to evil deeds ; and therefore that the insti- 
gation consists in the fact that God impels sinners to manifest 
the wickedness of their hearts in deeds, or furnishes the oppor- 
tunity and occasion for the unfolding and practical manifestation 
of the evil desires of the heart, that the sinner may either be 
brought to the knowledge of his more evil ways and also to 
repentance, through the evil deed and its consequences, or, if 
the heart should be hardened still more by the evil deed, that 
it may become ripe for the judgment of death. The instiga- 
tion of a sinner to evil is simply one peculiar way in which God, 
as a general rule, punishes sins through sinners ; for God only 
instigates to evil actions such as have drawn down the wrath of 
God upon themselves in consequence of their sin. When David 
supposes the fact that Jehovah has instigated Saul against him, 
he acknowledges, implicitly at least, that he himself is a sinner, 
whom the Lord may be intending to punish, though without 
lessening Saul's wrong by this indirect confession. 

The second supposition is : " if, however, children of meri'^ 
{sc. have instigated thee against me) ; in which case " let them 
he cursed before the Lord ; for they drive me now (this day) that 
I dare not attach myself to the inheritance of Jehovah (i.e. the 
people of God), saying, Go, serve other gods." The meaning is 
this : They have carried it so far now, that I am obliged to sepa- 
rate from the people of God, to fly from the land of the Lord, 
and, because far away from His sanctuary, to serve other gods 
T1k3 idea implied in the closing words was, that Jehovah could 

CHAP. XXVI. 21-25. 253 

only be worshipped in Canaan, at the sanctuary consecrated to 
Him, because it was only there that He manifested himself to 
His people, and revealed His face or gracious presence (vid. 
Ps. xlii. 2, 3, Ixxxiv. 11, cxliii. 6 sqq.). " We are not to under- 
stand that the enemies of David were actually accustomed to 
use these very words, but David was thinking of deeds rather 
than words" (Calvin). — Ver. 20. '^ And noio let not my Hood 
fall to the earth far away from the face of the Lord^^ i.e. do not 
carry it so far as to compel me to perish in a foreign land. 
" For the king of Israel has gone out to seek a single flea (yid. 
ch. xxiv. 15), as one hunts a partridge upon the mountains.^* 
This last comparison does not of course refer to the first, so that 
" the object of comparison is compared again with something 
else," as Thenius supposes, but it refers rather to the whole of 
the previous clause. The king of Israel is pursuing something 
very trivial, and altogether unworthy of his pursuit, just as if 
one were hunting a partridge upon the mountains. " No one 
would think it worth his while to hunt a single partridge that 
had flown to the mountains, when they may be found in coveys 
in the fields" (Winer, Bibl. B. W. ii. p. 307). This comparison, 
therefore, does not presuppose that N^p must be a bird living 
upon the mountains, as Thenius maintains, so as to justify his 
altering the text according to the Septuagint. These words of 
David were perfectly well adapted to sharpen Saul's conscience, 
and induce him to desist from his enmity, if he still had an ear 
for the voice of truth. 

Vers. 21-25. Moreover, Saul could not help confessing, 
"/ have sinned : return, my son David; I will do thee harm no 
more, because my life was precious in thine eyes that dayJ^ A 
good intention, which he never carried out. " He declared that 
he would never do any more what he had already so often 
promised not to do again ; and yet he did not fail to do it 
acrain and acrain. He ouo-ht rather to have taken refuge with 
God, and appealed to Him for grace, that he might not fall 
into such sins again ; yea, he should have entreated David 
himself to pray for him" (Berleb. Bible). He adds still 
further, " Behold, I have acted foolishly, and have gone sore 
astray ;" but yet he persists in this folly. " There is no sinner 
so hardened, but that God gives him now and then some rays 
of light, which show him all his error. But, alas ! when they 


are awakened by such divine movings, it is only for a fevi 
moments ; and such impulses are no sooner past, than they fall 
back again immediately into their former life, and forget all 
that they have promised." — Vers. 22, 23. David then bade the 
king send a servant to fetch back the spear and pitcher, and 
reminded him again of the recompense of God : " Jehovah will 
recompense His righteousness and His faithfulness to the man into 
whose hand Jehovah hath given thee to-day; and (for) I would not 
stretch out my hand against the anointed of the Lord." — Ver. 24. 
" Behold, as thy soul has been greatly esteemed in my eyes to-day, 
so will my soul he greatly esteemed in the eyes of Jehovah, that 
He loill save me out of all tribulation.''^ These words do not 
contain any " sounding of his own praises" (Thenius), but are 
merely the testimony of a good conscience before God in the 
presence of an enemy, who is indeed obliged to confess his 
wrong-doing, but who no longer feels or acknowledges his need 
of forgiveness. For even Saul's reply to these words in ver. 25 
(^'^ Blessed art thou, my son David: thou wilt undertake, and also 
prevail ;" ^5^"^ ^^]^ lit. to vanquish, i.e. to carry out what one 
undertakes) does not express any genuine goodwill towards 
David, but only an acknowledgment, forced upon him by this 
fresh experience of David's magnanimity, that God was bless- 
ing all his undertakings, so that he would prevail. Saul had no 
more thoughts of any real reconciliation with David. " David 
went his way, and Saul turned to his place" (cf. Num. xxiv. 25). 
Thus they parted, and never saw each other again. There is 
nothing said about Saul returning to his house, as there was 
when his life was first spared (ch. xxiv. 23). On the contrary, 
he does not seem to have given up pursuing David ; for, 
according to ch. xxvii,, David was obliged to take refuge in a 
foreign land, and carry out what he had described in ver. 19 as 
his greatest calamity. 



In his despair of being able permanently to escape the plots 
of Saul in the land of Israel, David betook himself, with his 
attendants, to the neighbouring land of the Philistines, to king 
Achish of Gath, and received from him the town of Ziklag, 

CHAP. XXVII. 1-7. 255 

whicli was assigned him at his own request as a dwelling-place 
(vers. 1-7). From this point he made attacks upon certain 
trihes on the southern frontier of Canaan which were hostile to 
Israel, but described them to Achish as attacks upon Judah and 
its dependencies, that he might still retain the protection of the 
Philistian chief (vers. 8-12). David had fled to Achish at Gath 
once before ; but on that occasion he had been obliged to feign 
insanity in order to preserve his life, because he was recognised 
as the conqueror of Goliath. This act of David was not for- 
gotten by the Philistines even now. But as David had been 
pursued by Saul for many years, Achish did not hesitate to 
give a place of refuge in his land to the fugitive who had been 
outlawed by the king of Israel, the arch-enemy of the Phili- 
stines, possibly with the hope that if a fresh war with Saul 
should break out, he should be able to reap some advantage 
from David's friendship. 

Vers. 1-7. The result of the last affair with Saul, after his 
life had again been spared, could not fail to confirm David in 
his conviction that Saul would not desist from pursuing him, 
and that if he stayed any longer in the land, he would fall 
eventually into the hands of his enemy. With this conviction, 
he formed the following resolution : " Now shall I he consumed 
one day by the hand of Saul: there is no good to me {i.e. it will 
not be well with me if I remain in the land), hut ("3 after a 
negative) I will flee into the land of the Philistines; so ivill Saul 
desist from me to seek me further (i.e. give up seeking me) m the 
whole of the territory of Israel, and I shall escape his haiid." — 
Ver. 2. Accordingly he went over with the 600 men who were 
with him to Achish, the king of Gath. Achish, the son of 
Maoch, is in all probability the same person not only as the 
king Achish mentioned in ch. xxi. 11, but also as Achish the 
son of Maachah (1 Kings ii. 39), since Maoch and Maachah are 
certainly only different forms of the same name ; and a fifty 
years' reign, which we should have in that case to ascribe to 
Achish, is not impossible. — Vers. 3, 4. Achish allotted dwelling- 
places in his capital, Gath, for David and his wives, and for 
all his retinue ; and Saul desisted from any further pursuit 
of David when he was informed of his flight to Gath. The 
Chethihh ^D\* is apparently only a copyist's error for ^P^. — 
Vers. 5 sqq. In the capital of the kingdom, however, David 


felt cramped, and therefore entreated Achlsli to assign him one 
of the land (or provincial) towns to dwell in ; whereupon he 
^ave him Ziklag for that purpose. This town was given to 
the Simeonites in the time of Joshua (Josh. xix. 5),- but was 
afterwards taken by the Philistines, probably not long before 
the time of David, and appears to have been left without in- 
habitants in consequence of this conquest. The exact situation, 
in the western part of the Negeb, has not been clearly ascer- 
tained (see at Josh. xv. 31). Achish appears to have given it 
to David. This is implied in the remark, " Therefore Ziklag 
came to the kings of Judah (i.e. became their property) unto this 
dayV — Ver. 7. The statement that David remained a year and 
four months in the land of the Philistines, is a proof of the 
historical character of the whole narrative. The Cp^ before 
the "four months" signifies a year; strictly speaking, a term of 
days which amounted to a full year (as in Lev. xxv. 29 : see 
also 1 Sam. i. 3, 20, ii. 19). 

Vers. 8-12. From Ziklag David made an attack upon the 
Geshurites, Gerzites, and Amalekites, smote them without 
leaving a man alive, and returned with much booty. The 
occasion of this attack is not mentioned, as being a matter of 
indifference in relation to the chief object of the history ; but it 
is no doubt to be sought for in plundering incursions made by 
these tribes into the land of Israel. For David would hardly 
have entered upon such a war in the situation in which he was 
placed at that time without some such occasion, seeing that it 
would be almost sure to bring him into suspicion with Achish, 
and endanger his safety. ?y?T., " he advanced" the verb being 
used, as it frequently is, to denote the advance of an army 
against a people or town (see at Josh. viii. 1). At the same 
time, the tribes which he attacked may have liad their seat 
upon the mountain plateau in the northei'u portion of the desert 
of Paran, so that David was obliged to march up to reach them. 
IDE'B, to invade for the purpose of devastation and plunder. 
Geshitri is a tribe mentioned in Josh. xiii. 2 as living in the 
south of the territory of the Philistines, and is a different tribe 
from the Geshurites in the north-east of Gilead (Josh. xii. 5, 
xiii. 11, 13; Deut. iii. 14). These are the only passages in 
■which they are mentioned. The Gerzites, or Gizriies according 
to the Kerij are entirely unknown. Bonfrere and Clericua 

CHAP. XXVII. 8-12. 257 

suppose them to be the Gerreni spoken of in 2 Mace. xiii. 24, 
who inhabited the town of Gerra, between RhinocoUira and 
Pelusium (Strabo, xvi. 760), or Gerron (Ptol. iv. 5). This con- 
jecture is- a possible one, but is very uncertain nevertheless, as 
the Gerzites certainly dwelt somewhere in the desert of Arabia. 
At any rate Grotius and Ewald cannot be correct in their 
opinion that they were the inhabitants of Gezer (Josh. x. 33). 
The Amalekites were the remnant of this old hereditary foe of 
the Israelites, who had taken to flight on Saul's war of exter- 
mination, and had now assembled again (see at ch. xv. 8, 9). 
*' For they inhabit the land, where you go from of old to Shur, 
even to the land of Egypt.'' The "i'^'t< before D^iyo may be 
explained from the fact that ^Xi3 is not adverbial here, but is 
construed according to its form as an infinitive : literally, 
" where from of old thy coming is to Shur." "iti'K cannot have 
crept into the text through a copyist's mistake, as such a mistake 
would not have found its way into all the MSS. The fact that 
the early translators did not render the word proves nothing 
against its genuineness, but merely shows that the translators 
regarded it as superfluous. Moreover, the Alexandrian text is 
decidedly faulty here, and o?S]} is confounded with D^y, uTrb 
FeXafj,. Shur is the desert of Jifar, which is situated in front 
of Egypt (as in ch. xv. 7). These tribes were nomads, and had 
large flocks, which David took with him as booty when he had 
smitten the tribes themselves. After his return, David betook 
himself to Achish, to report to the Philistian king concerning 
his enterprise, and deceive him as to its true character. — Ver. 
10. Achish said, " Ye have not made an invasion to-day, have 
ye ?" ?^?, like fir), in an interrogative sense ; the n has dropped 
out: vid. Ewald, § 324, b. David replied, "Against the south 
of Judah, and the south of the Jerahmeelites, and into the south 
of the Kenites," sc. we have made an incursion. This reply 
shows that the Geshurites, Gerzites, and Amalekites dwelt 
close to the southern boundary of Judah, so that David was 
able to represent the march against these tribes to Achish as a 
march against the south of Judah, to make him believe that 
he had been making an attack upon the southern territory of 
Judah and its dependencies. The N'egeb of Judah is the land 
between the mountains of Judah and the desert of Arabia (see 
at Josh. XV. 21). The Jerahmeelites are the descendants of 


Jerahraeel, the first-born of Hezron (1 Chron. ii. 9, 25, 26), and 
therefore one of the three large famihes of Judah who sprang 
from Hezron. They probably dwelt on the southern frontier 
of the tribe of Judah (vid. ch. xxx. 29). The Kenites were 
•protSgSs of Judah (see at ch. xv. 6, and Judg. i. 16). In ver. 
11 the writer introduces the remark, that in his raid David left 
neither man nor woman of his enemies alive, to take them to 
Gath, because he thought " they might report against us, and 
say, Thus hath David done.^^ There ought to be a major point 
under in nb>j?j as the following clause does not contain the 
words of the slaughtered enemies, but is a clause appended by 
the historian himself, to the effect that David continued to act 
in that manner as long as he dwelt in the land of the Philistines. 
t23K^Dj the mode of procedure ; lit. the right which he exercised 
(see ch. viii. 9). — Ver. 12 is connected with ver. 10 ; Achish 
believed David's words, and said (to himself), " He hath made 
himself stinking (i.e. hated) among his own people, among Isi^ael, 
and will he my servant (i.e. subject to me) for ever." 


Vers. 1, 2. The danger into which David had plunged 
through his flight into the land of the Philistines, and still 
more through the artifice with which he had deceived king 
Achish as to his real feelings, was to be very soon made appa- 
rent to him. For example, when the Philistines went to war 
again with Israel, Achish summoned him to go with his men in 
the army of the Philistines to the war against his own people 
and land, and David could not disregard the summons. But 
even if he had not brought himself into this danger without 
some fault of his own, he had at any rate only taken refuge 
with the Philistines in the greatest extremity; and what further 
he had done, was only done to save his own life. The faithful 
covenant God helped him therefore out of this trouble, and very 
soon afterwards put an end to his persecution by the fact that 
Saul lost his life in the war. — Ver. 1. "I?i those days," i.e. whilst 
David was living in the land of the Philistines, it came to pass 
that the Philistines gathered their armies together for a cam- 
paign against Israel. And Achish sent word to David that he 

CHAP. XXVIII. 3-25. 259 

was to go with him in his army along with his men; and David 
answered (ver. 2), " Thereby (on this occasion) thou shalt learn 
what thy servant will do.'' This reply was ambiguous. The 
words " what thy servant will do" contained no distinct promise 
of faithful assistance in the war with the Israelites, as the ex- 
pression " thy servant " is only the ordinary periphrasis for "/" 
in conversation with a superior. And there is just as little 
ground for inferring from ch. xxix. 8 that David was disposed 
to help the Philistines against Saul and the Israelites ; for, as 
Calovius has observed, even there he gives no such promise, 
but " merely asks for information, that he may discover the 
king's intentions and feelings concerning him : he simply pro- 
tests that he has done nothing to prevent his placing confidence 
in him, or to cause him to shut him out of the battle." Judging 
from his previous acts, it would necessarily have been against 
his conscience to fight against his own people. Nevertheless, 
in the situation in which he was placed he did not venture to 
give a distinct refusal to the summons of the king. He there- 
fore gave an ambiguous answer, in the hope that God would 
show him a way out of this conflict between his inmost con- 
viction and his duty to obey the Philistian king. He had no 
doubt prayed earnestly for this in his heart. And the faithful 
God helped His servant : first of all by the fact that Achish 
accepted his indefinite declaration as a promise of unconditional 
fidelity, as his answer " so (15^, itaque, i.e. that being the case, 
if thy conduct answers to thy pi'omise) I will make thee the 
keeper of my head " (i.e. of my person) implies ; and still more 
fully by the fact that the princes of the Philistines overturned 
the decision of their king (ch. xxix. 3 sqq.). 

Vers. 3-25. Saul loith the witch at Endor. — The invasion of 
Israel by the Philistines, which bi'ought David into so difficult 
a situation, drove king Saul to despair, so that in utter help- 
lessness he had recourse to ungodly means of inquiring into the 
future, which he himself had formerly prohibited, and to his 
horror had to hear the sentence of his own death. This account 
is introduced with the remark in ver. 3 that Samuel was dead 
and had been buried at Eamah (cf. ch. xxv. 1 ; i"i''i'^ with an 
explanatory vav, and indeed in his own city), andTthat Saul 
had expelled " those that had familiar spirits and the wizards 
out of the land'' (on the terms employed, ohoth and yiddonim^ 


see at Lev. xix. 31). He had done this in accordance \vith tlie 
law in Lev. xix. 31, xx. 27, and Deut. xviii. 10 sqq^ — Vera. 
,4, 5. When the Phihstines advanced and encamped at Sliunerrij 

f Saul brought all Israel together and encamped at Gilboa, i.e. 

^ upon the mountain of that name on the north-eastern edge of 
the plain of Jezreel, which slopes off from a height of about 
1250 feet into the valley of the Jordan, and is not far from 
Beisan. On the north of the western extremity of this moun- 
tain was Shunem, the present Sulem or Solam (see at Josh. xix. 
18) ; it was hardly two hours distant, so that (the camp of the 
Philistines might be seen from Gilboa. CWhen Saul saw this, 
he was thrown into such alarm that his heart greatly trembled. 
As Saul had been more than once victorious in his conflicts with 
the Philistines, his great fear at the sight of the Philistian army 
can hardly be attributed to any other cause than the feeling 
that God had forsaken him, by winch he was suddenly over- 
whelmed.^Ver. 6. In his anxiety(he inquired of the Lord ; 
but the Lord neither answered him by dreams, nor by Urim, 
nor by prophets, that is to say, not by any of the three media 
by which He was accustomed to make known His will to Israel. 
nin""!! pXK' is the term usually employed to signify inquiring the 
will and counsel of God through the Urim and Thummim of 
the high priest (see at Judg. i. 1) ; and this is the case here, 
with the simple difference that here the other means of inquiring 
the counsel of God are also included.) On dreams, see at Num. 
xii. ■G. According to Num. xxvii. 21, Urim denotes divine reve- 
lation through the high priest by means of the epliod.\JQ\xi the 
high priest Abiathar had been with the ephod in David's camp 
ever since the murder of the priests at Nob/(ch. xxii. 20 sqq., 
xxiii. 6, XXX. 7). How then could Saul inquire of God through 
the Urim V This question, which was very copiously discussed 
by the earlier commentators, and handled in different ways, may 
be decided very simply on the supposition, that after the death 
of Ahimelech and the flight of his son( another high priest had 
been appointed at the tabernacle, and another ephod made for 
him, with the choshen or breastplate, and the Urim and Thum- 
mim.y It is no proof to the contrary that there is nothing said 
about this. We have no continuous history of the worship at 
the tabernacle, but onlv occasional notices. And from these it 
is perfectly clear that|^the public worship at the tabernacle was 

CHAP. XXVIII. 7-14. 261 

not suspended on the murder of the priests, but was continued 
stillA For in the first years of David's reign we find the taber- 
nacle at Gibeon, and Zadok the son of Ahitub, of the hue -of 
Eleazar, officiating there as high priest (1 Chron. x\u 39, com- 
pared with ch. V. 38 and vi. 38) ; from which it follows with 
certainty, that after the destruction of Nob by Saul the taber- 
nacle was removed to Gibeon, and the worship of the congre- 
gation continued there. From this we may also explain in a 
very simple manner the repeated allusions to two high priests 
in David's time (2 Sam. viii. 17, xv. 24, 29, 35 ; 1 Chron. xv. 
11, xviii. 16). (The reason why the Lord did not answer Saul 
is to be sought Tor in the wickedness of Saul, which rendered 
him utterly unworthy to find favour with God.^ 

Vers. 7-14. (instead of recognising this, however, and 
searching his own heart, Saul attempted to obtain a revelation 
of the future in ungodly ways.VHe commanded his servants 
(ver. 7) to seek for a woman thäx nad a familiar spirit. Baalath- 
oh : the mistress (or possessor) of a conjuring spirit, i.e. of a 
«pirit with which the dead were conjured up, for the purpose 
of making inquiry concerning the future Vsee at Lev. xix. 31) 
There was a woman of this kind at Enaor, which still exists as 
a village under the old name upon the northern shoulder of the 
Duhy or Little Hermon (see at Josh. xvii. 11), and therefore 
only two German (ten English) miles from the Israelitish camp 
at Gilboa.V-Ver. 8. f Saul went to this person by night and in 
disguise, tnat he might not be recognised, accompanied by two 
men 7) and said to her, " Divine to me through necromancy^ 
and bring me up ichomsoever I tell thee^ The words " bring 
me up," etc., are an explanation or more precise definition of 
" divine unto me," etc. Prophesying by the Ob was probably 
performed by calling up a departed spirit from Sheol, and ob- 
taining prophecies, i.e. disclosures concerning one's own fate, 
through the medium of such a spirit^. On the form ''öiDp 
(Chethibh), see at Judg. ix. 8. — Ver. 9.( Such a demand placed 
the woman in difficulty. As Saul had cu-iven the necromantists 
out of the land, she was afraid that the unknown visitor (for it 
is evident from ver. 12 that she did not recognise Saul at first) 
might be laying a snare for her soul with his requestjto put 
her to death, i.e. might have come to her merely for the purpose 
of spying her out as a conjurer of the dead, and then inflicting 


/capital punishment upon her according to the law (Lev. xx. 27).) 
— Vers. 10, 11. But( when Saul swore to her that no punish- 
ment should fall upon her on that account {T}j?\ ^^, "^ shall 
assuredly not fall upon th^'^), an oath which showed how 
utterly hardened Saul wasJ she asked him, " Whom shall I 
bring tip to thee'?" and Saul repHed, ^^ Bring me up Samuel," 
sc. from the region of the dead, or Sheol, which was thought to 
be under the ground. This idea arose from the fact that the 
dead were buried in the earth, and was connected with the 
thought of heaven as being above the earth. Just as heaven, 
regarded as the abode of God and the holy angels and blessed 
spirits, is above the earth ; so, on the other hand, the region 
of death and the dead is beneath the ground. And with our 
modes of thought, which are so bound up with time and space, 

' it is impossible to represent to ourselves in any other way the 
difference and contrast between blessedness with God and the 
shade-life in death. — Ver. 12. The woman then commenced 
her conjuring arts. This must be supplied from the context, 
as ver. 12 merely states what immediately ensued. " When 
the woman saw Samuel, she cried aloud," sc. at the form which 
appeared to her so unexpectedly. (These words imply most 
unquestionably that the woman saw an apparition which she 
did not anticipate, and therefore that she was not really able to 
conjure up departed spirits or persons who had died, but that 
she either merely pretended to do so, or if her witchcraft was 
not mere trickery and delusion, but had a certain demoniacal 
background, that the appearance of Samuel differed essentially 
from everything she had experienced and effected before, and 
therefore filled her with alarm and horror. The very fact, 
however, that she recognised Saul as soon as Samuel appeared, 
precludes us from declaring. her art to have been nothing more 
than jugglery and deception^ for she said to him, " Why hast 
thou cheated me, as thou art certainly Saul ?" i.e. why hast thou 
deceived me as to thy person ? why didst thou not tell me that 
thou wast king Saul ? (Her recognition of Saul when Samuel 
appeared may be easily explained, if we assume that the woman 
had fallen into a state of clairvoyance, in which she recognised 
persons who, like Saul in his disguise, were unknown to her by 
face.-4-Ver. 13. The king quieted her fear, and then asked her 
what she had seen ; whereupon she gave him a fuller descrip- 

CHAP. XXVIII. 15-22. 263 

tion of the apparition :( " / saiv a celestial being come up from 
the earths Eloliim does not signify gods here, nor yet God ; 
still less an angel or a ghost, or even a person of superior rank, 
but a celestial (super-terrestrial), heavenly/or spiritual being.-^ 
Ver. 14. Upon Saul's further inquiry as to his form, she re- 
plied, "^n old man is ascending, and he is wrapped iti a mantle" 
Me'il is the prophet's mantle, such as Samuel. was accustomed 
to wear when he was alive (see ch. xv. 27). f Sau* recognised 
from this that the person who had been called up ^yas Samuel, 
and he fell upon his face to the ground, to give expression to 
his reverence. Saul does not appear to have seen the appari- 
tion itself. But it does not follow from this that there was no 
such apparition at all, and the whole was an invention on the 
part of the witch. It needs an opened eye, such as all do not 
possess, to see a departed spirit or celestial being. The eyes of 
the body are not enough for this.] 

Vers, 15—22. Then Samuel said, " Whr/ hast thou disturbed 
me (sc. from my rest in Hades ; cf. Isa. xiv. 9), to bring me up ?" 
It follows, no doubt, from this that Samuel had been disturbed 
from his rest by Saul; but^hether this had been effected by. 
the conjuring arts of the witch, or by a miracle of God himself,J 
is left undecided. Saul replied, " / am sore oppressed, for the 
Philistines fight against me, and God has departed from me, and 
ansxoers me no more, either by prophets or by dreams ; then I had 
thee called (on the intensified form ^^"JiP^J, vid. Ewald, § 228, c), 
to make known to me what I am to do." The omission of any 
reference to the Urim is probably to be interpreted very simply 
from the brevity of the account, and not from the fact that Saul 
shrank from speaking about the oracle of the high priest, on 
account of the massacre of the priests which had taken place 
by his command, f There is a contradiction, however, in Saul's 
reply : for if God^had forsaken him, he could not expect any 
answer from Him y ana if God did not reply to his inquiry 
through the regulffrly appointed media of His revelation, how 
could he hope to obtain any divine revelation through the help 
of a witch ? r When living prophets gave no answer, he thought 
that a dead one might be called up, as if a dead one were less 
dependent upon God than the living, or that, even in opposition 
to the will of God, he might reply through the arts of a conjur- 
ing woman. Truly, if he perceived that God was hostile to 


him, he ought to have been all the more afraid, lest His enmity 
should be increased by his breach of His laws. But fear and 
superstition never reason"j(Clericus). Samuel points out this 
contradiction (ver. 16) : '' Why dost thou ash me, since Jehovah 
hath departed, from thee, and is become thine enemy?" The 
meaning is:/How canst thou expect an answer under these 
circum"stanc>3s"f rom me, the prophet of Jehovah ? "T^V, from "ly, 
signifies an'fenemy here (from '^'^V, fervour) ; and this meaning is 
confirmed h^ Ps. cxxxix. 20 and Dan. iv. 16 (Chald.). There 
is all the less ground for any critical objection to the reading, 
as the Chaldee and Vulgate give a periphrastic rendering of 
" enemy," whilst the Sept., Syr., and Arab, have merely para- 
phrased according to conjectures, f Samuel then announced his 
fate (vers. 17—19) : " Jehovah hath performed for himself, as He 
spake by me (i^, for himself, which the LXX. and Vulg. have 
arbitrarily altered into "V, (toI, tibi (to thee), is correctly ex- 
plained by Seb. Schmidt, ' according to His grace, or to fulfil 
and prove His truth') ; and Jehovah hath rent the Mngdorn out of 
thy hand, and given it to thy neighbour David." f The perfects 
i express the purpose of God, which had already^been formed, 
and was now about to be fulfilled^ Ver. 18. The reason for 
Saul's rejection is then given, as in ch. xv. 23 : " Because (">?^^?, 
according as) thou . . . hast not executed the fierceness of His 
anger upon jLmalek, therefore hath Jehovah done this thing to thee 
this day.'' r This thing" is the distress of which Saul had com- 
plained, with its consequences. ]^'l\, that Jehovah may give (= for 
He will give) Israel also with thee into the hand of the Philistines. 
" To-morrow wilt thou and thy sons be with me (i.e. in Sheol, 
with the dead) ; also the camp of Israel will Jehovah give into 
the hand of the Philistines," i.e. give up to them to plunder. 
/^The overthrow of the people was to heighten Saul's misery, 
Vwhen he saw the people plunged with him into ruin through his 
sin 20. V. Gerlach). f Thus was the last hope taken from Saul. 
His day of grace was gone, and judgment was now to burst 
upon him without delay. — Ver. 20. These words so alarmed 
him, that he fell his whole length upon the ground ; for he haa 
been kneeling hitherto]'(ver. 14). He '''■fell straightway {lit. he 
hastened and fell) updn the ground. For he was greatly terrified 
at the words of Samuel : there was also no strength in him, because 
lie had eaten no food the whole day and the whole night" sc. from 

CHAP. XXVIII. 15-22. 265 

mental perturbation or inward excitement. ( Terror and bodily- 
exhaustion caused him to fall powerless to the ground.V— Vers. 
21, 22. The woman then came to him and persuaded him to 
strengthen himself with food for the journey which he had to 
take. It by no means follows from the expression "came unfO' 
Sauly" that the woman was in an adjoining room during the 
presence of the apparition, and whilst Samuel was speaking, but 
only that she was standing at some distance off, and came up to 
him to speak to him when he had fallen fainting to the ground. 
(As she had fulfilled his wish at the risk of her own life, she 
entreated him now to gratify her wish, and let her set a morsel 
of bread before him and eat. " That strength may he in thee 
when thou goest thy way^j(i.e. when thou returnest). 

This narrative, when read without prejudice, makes at once 
and throughout the impression conveyed by the Septuagint 
at 1 Chron. x. 13 : eirrjpooTrjcre ^aov\ iv tcS ijyaarpifiv9(p rov 
^Tjrrjaat, koX anreicpivaTO avru) HafxovrjX 6 irpocpijTT]'; ; and still 
more clearly at Ecclus. xlvi. 20, where it is said of Samuel : 
" And after his death he prophesied, and showed the king his 
end, and lifted up his voice from the earth in prophecy, to blot 
out the wickedness of the people." Nevertheless the fathers, 
reformers, and earlier Christian theologians, with very few 
exceptions, assumed that there was not a real appearance of 
Samuel, but only an imaginary one. According to the explana- 
tion given by Ephraem Syrus, an apparent image of Samuel 
was presented to the eye of Saul through demoniacal arts. 
Luther and Calvin adopted the same view, and the earlier Pro- 
testant theologians followed them in regarding the apparition 
as nothing but a diabolical spectre, a phantasm, or diabolical 
spectre in the form of Samuel, and Samuel's announcement as 
nothing but a diabolical revelation made by divine permission, 
in which truth is mixed with falsehood.^ It was not till the 

^ Thus Luther says (in his work upon the abuses of the Mass, 1522) : 
" The raising of Samuel by a soothsayer or witch, iu 1 Sam. xxviii. 11, 12, 
was certainly merely a spectre of the devil ; not only because the Scriptures 
ßtate that it was effected by a woman who was full of devils (for who could 
believe that the souls of believers, who are in the hand of God, Ecclus. iii. 1, 
and in the bosom of Abraham, Luke xvi. 32, were under the power of the 
devil, and of simple men ?), but also because it was evidently in opposition 
to the command of God that Saul and the woman inquired of the dead. 
The Holy Ghost cannot do anything against this himself, nor can He help 


seventeenth century that the opinion was expressed, that the 
apparition of Samuel was merely a delusion produced by the 
witch, without any real background at all. After Reginald 
Scotus and Balth. Becker had given expression to this opinion, 
^^t was more fully elaborated by Ant. van Dale, in his dissert, de 
divinatipnihus idololatricis sub V. T. ; and in the so-called age 
of enlightenment this was the prevailing opinion, so that Thenius 
still regards it as an established fact, not only that the woman 
was an impostor, but that the historian himself regarded the 
whole thing as an imposture. There is no necessity to refute 
this opinion at the present day. Even Fr. Boettcher {de inferis^ 
pp. Ill sqq.), who looks upon the thing as an imposture, admits 
tliat the first recorder of the occurrence " believed that Samuel 
appeared and prophesied, contrary to the expectation of the 
witch;" and that the author of the books of Samuel was con- 
vinced that the prophet was raised up and prophesied, so that 
after his death he was proved to be the true prophet of Jehovah, 
although through the intervention of ungodly arts (cf. Ezek. 
xiv. 7, 9). But the view held by the early church does not do 
justice to the scriptural narrative ; and hence the more modern 
orthodox commentators are unanimous in the opinion that the 
departed prophet did really appear and announce the destruc- 
tion of Sau], not, however, in consequence of the magical arts of 
the witch,\but through a miracle wrought by the omnipotence 
of Go(D This is most decidedly favoured by the fact, that the 
prophetic historian speaks throughout of the appearance, not of 

those who act in opposition to it." Calvin also regards the apparition as 
only a spectre (Horn. 100 in 1 Sam.) : " It is certain," he says, " that it was 
not really Samuel, for God would never have allowed His prophets to be 
subjected to such diabolical conjuring. For here is a sorceress calling up 
the dead from the grave. Does any one imagine that God wished His prophet 
to be exposed to such ignominy ; as if the devil had power over the bodies 
and souls of the saints which are in His keeping ? The souls of the saints 
are said to rest and live in God, waiting for their happy resurrection. Be- 
sides, are we to believe that Samuel took his cloak with him into the grave? 
For all these reasons, it appears evident that the apparition was nothing 
more than a spectre, and that the senses of the woman herself were so 
deceived, that she thought she saw Samuel, whereas it really was not he." 
The earlier orthodox theologians also disputed the reality of the appearance 
of the departed Samuel on just the same grounds ; e.g. Seb. Schmidt 
{Comm.) ; Aug. Pfeiffer ; Sal. Deyling ; and Buddeus, Hist. Eccl. V. T. ii 
p. 243, and many more 

CHAP. XXVIII. 15-22. 267 

a ghost, but of Samuel himself. He does this not only in ver. 
12, " When the woman saw Samel she cried aloud," but also in 
vers. 14, 15, 16, and 20. It is also sustained by the circum- 
stance, that not only do the words of Samuel to Saul, in vers. 
16-19, create the impression that it is Samuel himself who is 
speaking ; but his announcement contains so distinct a prophecy 
of the death of Saul and his sons, that it is impossible to imagine 
that it can have proceeded from the mouth of an impostor, or 
have been an inspiration of Satan. On the other hand, the 
remark of Calvin, to the effect that " God sometimes gives to 
devils the power of revealing secrets to us, which they have 
learned from the Lord," could only be regarded as a valid 
objection, provided that the narrative gave us some intimation 
that the apparition and the speaking were nothing but a diabolical 
delusion. But it does nothing of the kind. It is true, the 
opinion that the witch conjured up the prophet Samuel was 
very properly disputed by the early theologians, and rejected by 
Theodoret as " unholy, and even impious ;" and the text of 
Scripture indicates clearly enough that the very opposite was 
the case, by the remark that the witch herself was terrified at 
the appearance of Samuel (ver. 12). Shöbel is therefore quite 
correct in saying : n It was not at the call of the idolatrous 
king, nor at the command of the witch, — neither of whom had 
the power to bring him up, or even to make him hear their voice 
in his rest in the grave, — that Samuel came ; nor was it merely 
by divine ' permission,' which is much too little to say. No, 
rather it was by the special command of God that he left his 
grave (?), like a faithful servant whom his master arouses at 
midnight, to let in an inmate of the house who has wilfully 
stopped out late, and has been knocking at the door. 'Why do 
you disturb me out of my sleep V would always be the question 
put to the unwelcome comer, although it was not by his noise, 
but really by his master's command, that he had been aroused. J 
Samuel asked the same question." The prohibition of witch- ■^ 
craft and necromancy (Dent, xviii. 11 ; Isa. viii. 19), which the 
earlier writers quote against this, does not preclude the possibility 
of God having, for His own special reasons, caused Samuel to 
appear. fOn the contrary, the appearance itself was of such a 
character^ that it could not fail to show to the witch and the 
king, that God does not allow His prohibitions to be infringed 


with impunity. The very same thing occurred here, which God 
threatened to idolaters through the medium of Ezekiel (ch. xiv. 
4, 7, 8) : " If they come to the prophet, I will answer them 
in my own way." Still less is there any force in the appeal to 
Liuke xvi. 27 sqq., where Abraham refuses the request of the 
rich man in Hades, that he would send Lazarus to his father's 
house to preach repentance to his brethren who were still living, 
saying, " They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear 
them. If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will 
they be persuaded though one rose from the dead." For this 
does not affirm that the appearance of a dead man is a thing 
impossible in itself, but only describes it as useless and ineffec- 
tual, so far as the conversion of the ungodly is concerned. 

The reality of the appearance of Samuel from the kingdom 
of the dead cannot therefore be called in question, especially as 
it has an analogen in the appearance of Moses and Elijah at 
the transfiguration of Christ (Matt. xvii. 3 ; Luke ix. 30, 31) ; 
except that this difference must not be overlooked, namely, 
that Moses and Elijah appeared " in glory," i.e. in a glorified 
form, whereas Samuel appeared in earthly corporeality with 
the prophet's mantle which he had worn on earth. Just as the 
transfiguration of Christ was a phenomenal anticipation of His 
future heavenly glory, into which He was to enter after His 
resurrection and ascension, so may we think of the appearance 
of Moses and Elijah " in glory" upon the mount of trans- 
figuration as an anticipation of their heavenly transfiguration 
in eternal life with God. It was different with Samuel, whom 
God brought up from Hades through an act of His omni- 
potence. This appearance is not to be regarded as the ap- 
pearance of one who had risen in a glorified body ; but though 
somewhat spirit-like in its external manifestation, so that it 
was only to the witch that it was visible, and not to Saul, it 
was merely an appearance of the soul of Samuel, that had been 
at rest in Hades, in the clothing of the earthly corporeality and 
dress of the prophet^which were assumed for the purpose of 
rendering it visible/ In this respect the appearance of Samuel 
rather resembled Uie appearances of incorporeal angels in 
human form and dress, such as the three angels who came to 
Abraham in the grove at Mamre (Gen. xviii.), and the angel 
who appeared to Manoah (Judg. xiii.) ; with this exception, 

CHAP. XXVIII. 23-25. 269 

however, that these angels manifested themselves in a human 
form, which was visible to the ordinary bodily eye, whereas 
(Samuel appeared in the spirit-like form of the inhabitants of 
Hades. In all these cases the bodily form and clothing were 
only a dress assumed for the soul or spirit, and intended to 
facilitate perception, so that such appearances furnish no proof 
that the souls of departed men possess an immaterial corpo- 

Vers. 23-25. On Saul's refusing to take food,(^his servants 
(i.e. his two attendants) also pressed him, so that he yielded, 
rose up from the ground, and sat down upon the bed {niittah : 
i.e. a bench by the wall of the room provided with pillows) ; 
whereupon the woman quickly sacrificed (served up) a stalled 
calf, baked unleavened cakes, and set the food she had pre- 
pared before the king and his servants. The woman did all 
this from natural sympathy for the unhappy king,! and not, as 
Thenius supposes, to remove all suspicion of d^eption from 
Saul's mind ; for she had not deceived the king at all. — Ver. 25. 
/When Saul and his servants had eaten, they started upon their 
Svay, and went back that night to Giiboa, which was about ten 
miles distant, where the battle occurred the next day, and Saul 
and his sons fell. " Saul was too hardened in his sin to express 
any grief or pain, either on his own account or because of the 

^ Delitzsch (Jbibl. Psychol, pp. 427 sqq.) has very properly rejected, not 
only the opinion that Samuel and Moses were raised up from the dead for 
the purpose of a transient appearance, and then died again, but also the 
idea that they appeared in their material bodies, a notion upon which 
Calvin rests his argument against the reahty of the appearance of Samuel. 
But when he gives it as his opinion, that the angels who appeared in human 
form assumed this form by virtue of their own power, inasmuch as they 
can make themselves visible to whomsoever they please, and infers still 
further from this, " that the outward form in which Samuel and Moses 
appeared (which corresponded to their form when on this side the grave) 
was the immaterial production of their spiritual and psychical nature," he 
overlooks the fact, that not only Samuel, but the angels also, in the cases 
referred to, appeared in men's clothing, which cannot possibly be regarded 
as a production of their spiritual and psychical nature. The earthly dresa 
is not indispensable to a man's existence. Adam and Eve had no clothing 
before the Fall, and there will be no material clothing in the kingdom of 
glory ; for the " fine linen, pure and white," with which the bride adorns 
herself for the marriage supper of the Lamb, is " the righteousness of 
saints" (Rev. xix. 8). 


fate of his sons and his people. In stolid desperation he went 
to meet his fate. This was the terrible end of a man whom 
the Spirit of God had once taken possession of and turned into 
another man, and whom he had endowed with gifts to be the 
leader of the people of God" (O. v. Gerlach). A 


Vers. 1-5. Whilst Saul derived no comfort from his visit to 
the witch at Endor, but simply heard from the mouth of Samuel 
the confirmation of his rejection on the part of God, and an 
announcement of his approaching fate, David was delivered, 
through the interposition of God, from the danger of having to 
fight against his own people. — Ver. 1. The account of this is 
introduced by a fuller description of the position of the hostile 
army. " The Philistines gathered all their armies together to- 
wards Apheh, hut Israel encamped at the fountahi in (at) JezreeV 
This fountain is the present Ain Jalud (or Ai7i Jalut, i.e. 
Goliath's fountain, probably so called because it was regarded 
as the scene of the defeat of Goliath), a very large fountain, 
which issues from a cleft in the rock at the foot of the mountain 
on the north-eastern border of Gilboa, forming a beautifully 
limpid pool of about forty or fifty feet in diameter, and then 
flowing in a brook through the valley (Rob. Pal. iii. p. 168). 
Consequently Aphek, which must be carefully distinguished 
from the towns of the same name in Asher (Josh. xix. 30; 
Judg. i. 31) and upon the mountains of Judah (Josh. xv. 53) 
and also at Ebenezer (1 Sam. iv. 1), is to be sought for not very 
far from Shunem, in the plain of Jezreel ; according to Van de 
Velde's Mem., by the side of the present el Afideh, though the 
situation has not been exactly determined. The statement in 
the Onom., " near Endor of Jezreel v/liere Saul fought," is 
merely founded upon the Septuagint, in which ])V'^ is erroneously 
rendered iv ^EvScop. — Vers. 2, 3. When the princes of the 
PhiHstines {same, as in Josh. xiii. 3) advanced by hundreds 
and thousands {i.e. arranged in companies of hundreds and 
thousands), and David and his men came behind with Achish 
{i.e. forming the rear-guard), the (other) princes pronounced 
against their allowing David and his men to go with them. 

CHAP. XXIX. 6-11, 271 

This did not occur at the time of their setting out, but on the 
road, when tliey had ah'eady gone some distance (compare ver. 
11 with ch. XXX. 1), probably when the five princes (Josh. xiii. 
3) of the Philistines had effected a junction. To the inquiry, 
" What are these Hebrews doing?" Achish replied, " Is not this 
David, the servant of Saul the king of Israel, who has been with 
me days already, or years already? and I have found notJdng in 
him since his coming over unto this day." no^SD, anything at all 
that could render him suspicious, or his fidelity doubtful. ?Q3j 
to fall away and go over to a person ; generally construed with 
7^? (Jer. xxxvii. 13, xxxviii. 19, etc.) or bv (Jer. xxi. 9, xxxvii. 
14; 1 Chron. xii. 19, 20), but here absolutely, as the more pre- 
cise meaning can be gathered from the context. — Ver. 4. But 
the princes, i.e. the four other princes of the Philistines, not the 
courtiers of Achish himself, were angry with Achish, and de- 
manded, " Send the man back, that he may return to his place, 
which thou hast assigned him ; that he may not go down with us 
into the war, and may not become an adversary (satan) to us in 
the tear ; for wherewith could he show himself acceptable to his 
lord (viz. Saul), if not with the heads of these men ?" i^>^[}., 
oionne, strictly speaking, introduces a new question to confirm 
the previous question. " Go down to the battle :" this expression 
is used as in ch. xxvi. 10, xxx. 24, because battles were generally 
fought in the plains, into which the Hebrews were obliged to 
come down from their mountainous land. " Tliese men," i.e. the 
soldiers of the Philistines, to whom the princes were pointing. — 
Ver. 5. To justify their suspicion, the princes reminded him of 
their song with which the women in Israel had celebrated 
David's victory over Goliath (ch. xviii. 7). 

Vers. 6-11. After this declaration on the part of the princes, 
Achish was obliged to send David back. — Vers. 6, 7. With a 
solemn assertion, — swearing by Jehovah to convince David all 
the more thoroughly of the sincerity of his declaration, — Achish 
said to him, " Thou art honourable, and good in my eyes (i.e. 
quite right in my estimation) are thy going out and coming in 
(i.e. all thy conduct) with me in the camp, for I have not found 
anything bad in thee ; hut in the eyes of the princes thou art not 
good (i.e. the princes do not think thee honourable, do not trust 
thee). Turn now, and go in peace, that thou mayest do nothing 
displeasing to the princes of the Philistines." — Ver. 8. Partly for 


the sake of vindicating himself against this suspicion, and partly 
to put the sincerity of Achish's words to the test, David replied, 
*' What have I done, and what hast thou found in thy servant, 
since I was with thee till this day, that I am not to come and fight 
against the enemies of my lord the hing ?" These last words are 
also ambiguous, since the king whom David calls his lord might 
be understood as meaning either Acliish or Saul. Achish, in 
his goodness of heart, applies them without suspicion to himself; 
for he assures David still more earnestly (ver. 9), that he is 
firmly convinced of his uprightness. " / know that thou art 
good in my eyes as an angel of God^^ i.e. I have the strongest 
conviction that thou hast behaved as well towards me as an angel 
could; but the princes have desired thy removal. — Ver. 10. 
" And noio get up early in the morning with the servants of thy 
lord {i.e. Saul, whose subjects David's men all were), who have 
come with thee ; get ye up in the morning when it gets light for you 
(so that ye can see), and go!' — Ver. 11. In accordance with this 
admonition, David returned the next morning into the land of 
the Philistines, i.e. to Ziklag ; no doubt very light of heart, and 
praising God for having so graciously rescued him out of the 
disastrous situation into which he had been brought and not 
altogether without some fault of his own, rejoicing that " he had 
not committed either sin, i.e. had neither violated the fidelity 
which he owed to Achish, nor had to fight against the Israelites'* 
(Seb. Schmidt). 


Vers. 1-10. During David's absence the Amalekites had 
invaded the south country, smitten Ziklag and burnt it down, 
and carried off the women and children whom they found there ; 
whereat not only were David and his men plunged into great 
grief on their return upon the third day, but David especially 
was involved in very great trouble, inasmuch as the people 
wanted to stone him. But he strengthened himself in the Lord 
his God (vers. 1-6). — Vers. 1-4 form one period, which is 
expanded by the introduction of several circumstantial clauses. 
The apodosis to " It came to pass, when," etc. (ver. 1), does not 
follow till ver. 4, " Then David and the people," etc. But this is 

CHAP. XXX. I- 10. 273 

formally attached to ver. 3, " so David and his men came," with 
which the protasis commenced in ver. 1 is resumed in an altered 
form. " It caine to pass, when David and his men came to 
Ziklag . . . the Amalekites had invaded . . . and had carried 
ojjf the wives . . . and had gone their way, and David and his 
men came into the toivn (for ^ when David and his men came,' 
etc.), and behold it was hurned. . . . Then David and the people 
with him lifted up their voice." " On the third day ;" after David's 
dismission by Achish, not after David's departure from Ziklag. 
David had at any rate gone with Achish beyond Gath, and had 
not been sent back till the whole of the princes of the Philistines 
had united their armies (ch. xxix. 2 sqq.), so that he must have 
been absent from Ziklag more than two days, or two days and a 
half. This is placed beyond all doubt by vers. 11 sqq., since 
the Amalekites are there described as having gone oif with their 
booty three days before David followed them, and therefore 
they had taken Ziklag and burned it three days before David's 
return. These foes had therefore taken advantage of the 
absence of David and his warriors, to avenge themselves for 
David's invasions and plunderings (ch. xxvii. 8). Of those who 
were carried off, " the women" alone are expressly mentioned in 
ver. 2, although the female population and all the children had 
been removed, as we may see from the expression " small and 
great" (vers. 3, 6). The LXX. were therefore correct, so far 
as the sense is concerned, in introducing the words /cat iravra 
before ^13 ^k^'^?. " They had killed no one, hut (only) carried 
awayT Jnj, to carry away captive, as in Isa. xx. 4. Among 
those who had been carried off were David's two wives, Ahi- 
noam and Abigail {yid. ch. xxv. 42, 43, xxvii. 3). — Ver. 6. 
David was greatly distressed in consequence ; ''^ for the people 
thought (' said,' sc. in their hearts) to stone him" because they 
sought the occasion of their calamity in his connection with 
Achish, with which many of his adherents may very probably 
have been dissatisfied. " For the soul of the whole people was 
embittered {i.e. all the people were embittered in their souls) 
because of their sons and daughters" who had been carried away 
into slavery. " But David strengthened himself in the Lord his 
God" i.e. sought consolation and strength in prayer and believ- 
ing confidence in the Lord (vers. 7 sqq.). This strength he 
manifested in the resolution to follow the foes and rescue their 


booty from them. To this end he had the ephod brought by 
the high priest Abiathar (cf . ch. xxiii. 9), and inquired by means 
of the Urim of the Lord, " Shall I pursue this troop ? Shall I 
overtake it ?" These questions were answered in the affirmative ; 
and the promise was added, " and thou wilt rescue" So David 
pursued the enemy with his six hundred men as far as the 
brook Besor, where the rest, i.e. two hundred, remained standing 
(stayed behind). The words ^*ioy D''"irii3ri'ij which are appended 
in the form of a circumstantial clause, are to be connected, so 
far as the facts are concerned, with what follows : whilst the 
others remained behind, David pursued the enemy still farther 
with four hundred men. By the word D^iriiDn the historian 
has somewhat anticipated the matter, and therefore regards it 
as necessary to define the expression still further in ver. \Qb. 
We are precluded fi'om changing the text, as Thenius suggests, 
by the circumstance that all the early translators read it in this 
manner, and have endeavoured to make the expression intelli- 
gible by paraphrasing it. These two hundred men were too 
tired to cross the brook and go any farther. (15S, which only 
occurs here and in ver. 21, signifies, in Syrlac, to be weary or 
exhausted.) As Ziklag was burnt down, of course they found 
no provisions there, and were consequently obliged to set out in 
pursuit of the foe without being able to provide themselves with 
the necessary supplies. The brook Besor is supposed to be the 
Wady Sheriah, which enters the sea below Ashkelon (see v. 
Raumer, Pal. p. 52). 

Vers. 11—20. On their further march they found an 
Egyptian lying exhausted upon the field ; and having brought 
hin» to David, they gave him food and drink, namely " a slice of 
ßg-cake (cf. ch. xxv. 18), and raisin-cakes to eat; whereupon his 
spirit of life returned {i.e. he came to himself again), as he had 
neither eaten bread nor drunk water for three days." — Ver. 13. 
When David asked him whence he had come {to lühom, i.e. to 
what people or tribe, dost thou belong ?), the young man said 
that he was an Egyptian, and servant of an Amalekite, and 
that he had been left behind by his master when he fell sick 
three days before (" to-day three," sc. days) : he also said, 
" We invaded the south of the Crethites, and what belongs to 
Judah, and the south of Caleb, and burned Ziklag ivith ßre." 
TlTDH^ identical with ^''073 (Ezek. xxv. 16; Zeph. ii. 5), denotes 

CHAP. XXX. 11-20. 275 

those tribes of the Philistines who dwelt in the south-west of 
Canaan, and is used by Ezekiel and Zephaniah as synonymous 
with Philistim. The origin of the name is involved in obscu- 
rity, as the explanation which prevailed for a time, viz. that 
it was derived fi'om Creta, is without sufficient foundation (yid. 
Stark, Gaza, pp. 66 and 99 sqq.). The Negeb " belonging to 
Judah" is the eastern portion of the Negeb. One part of it 
belonged to the family of Caleb, and was called Caleb's Negeb 
(vid. ch. XXV. 3). — Vers. 15, 16. This Egyptian then conducted 
David, at his request, when he had sworn that he would neither 
kill him nor deliver him up to his master, down to the hostile 
troops, who were spread over the whole land, eating, drinking, 
and making merry, on account of all the great booty which 
they had brought out of the land of the Philistines and Judah. 
— Yer. 17. David surprised them in the midst of their security, 
and smote them from the evening twilight till the evening of 
the next day, so that no one escaped, with the exception of four 
hundred young men, who fled upon camels. Nesheph signifies 
the evening twilight here, not the dawn, — a meaning which is 
not even sustained by Job vii. 4. The form Q^nno appears to 
be an adverbial formation, like Döi\ — ^Vers. 18, 19. Through 
this victory David rescued all that the Amalekites had taken, 
his two wives, and all the children great and small ; also the 
booty that they had taken with them, so that nothing was 
missing. — Ver. 20 is obscure : " And David took all the sheep 
and the oxen : they drove them before those cattle, and said, Thu 
is David! s booty." In order to obtain any meaning whatever 
from this literal rendering of the words, we must understand by 
the sheep and oxen those which belonged to the Amalekites, and 
the flocks taken from them as booty ; and by " those cattle" the 
cattle belonmno; to David and his men, which the Amalekites 
had driven away, and the Israelites had now recovered from 
them : so that David had the sheep and oxen which he had 
taken from the Amalekites as booty driven in front of the rest 
of the cattle which the Israelites had recovered ; whereupon 
the drovers exclaimed, " This (the sheep and oxen) is David's 
booty" It is true that there is nothing said in what goes before 
about any booty that David had taken from the Amalekites, in 
addition to what they had taken from the Israelites ; but the 
fact that David had really taken such booty is perfectly obvious 


from vers. 26-31, where he is said to have sent portions of the 
booty of the enemies of Jehovah to different places in the land. 
If this explanation be not accepted, there is no other course 
open than to follow the Vulgate, alter ^i^sp into 1"'^?;', and render 
the middle clause thus : " they drove those cattle (viz. the sheep 
and oxen already mentioned) before him" as Luther has done. 
But even in that case we could hardly understand anything 
else by the sheep and oxen than the cattle belonging to the 
Amalekites, and taken from them as booty. 

Vers. 21-31. When David came back to the two hundred 
men whom he had left by the brook Besor (DTB'Vj they made 
them sit, remain), they went to meet him and his warriors, and 
were heartily greeted by David. — Ver. 22. Then all kinds of 
evil and worthless men of those who had gone with David to 
the battle replied : " Because they have not gone with us (lit. with 
me, the person speaking), we will not give them any of the booty 
that we have seized, except to every one his wife and his chil- 
dren : they may lead them away, and go." — Vers. 23, 24. David 
opposed this selfish and envious proposal, saying, " Do not so, 
my brethren, with that (nx, the sign of the accusative, not the 
preposition ; see Ewald, § 329, a: lit. with regard to that) which 
Jehovah hath done to us, and lie hath guarded us (since He hath 
guarded us), and given this troop which came upon us into our 
hand. And who will hearken to you in this matter ? But ("'S, 
according to the negation involved in the question) as the 
portion of him, that went into the battle, so be the portion of him 
Hiat stayed by the things ; they shall share together." Tiin is a 
copyist's error for ^l^ili. — Ver. 25. So was it from that day and 
forward ; and he (David) made it (this regulation as to the 
booty) " the law and right for Israel unto this day." — Vers. 
26-31. When David returned to Ziklag, he sent portions of the 
booty to the elders of Judah, to his friends, with this message : 
'' Behold, here ye have a blessing of ilie booty of the enemies of 
Jehovah'^ (which we took from the enemies of Jehovah) ; and 
this he did, according to ver. 31, to all the places in which he 
had wandered with his men, i.e. where he had wandered about 
durinor his flitrlit from Saul, and in which he had no doubt 
received assistance. Sending these gifts could not fail to make 
the elders of these cities well disposed towards him, and so to 
facilitate his recognition as king after the death of Saul, which 

CHAP. XXX. 21-31. 277 

occurred immediately afterwards. Some of these places may 
have been plundered by the Amalekites, since they had invaded 
the Negeb of Judah (ver. 14). The cities referred to were 
Bethel, — not the Bethel so often mentioned, the present Beitin, 
in the tribe of Benjamin, but Betlniel (1 Chron. iv. 30) or 
BetJiuI, in the tribe of Simeon (Josh. xix. 4), which Knobel 
supposes to be Elusa or el Khalasa (see at Josh. xv. 30). The 
reading Baidaovp in the Septuagint is a worthless conjecture. 
Bamah of the south, which was allotted to the tribe of Simeon, 
has not yet been discovered (see at Josh. xix. 8). Jattir has 
been preserved in the ruins of Attir, on the southern portion 
of the mountains of Judah (see at Josh. xv. 48). Aroiir is still 
to be seen in ruins, viz. in the foundations of walls built of 
enormous stones in Wady Arara, where there are many cavities 
for holding water, about three hour's e.S.e. of Bersaba, and 
twenty miles to the south of Hebron (yid. Rob. Pal. ii. p. 
620, and v. de Velde, Mem. p. 288). Siphmoth (or Shiphmoth, 
according to several MSS.) is altogether unknown. It may 
probably be referred to again in 1 Chron. xxvii. 27, where 
Zabdi is called the Shiphmite ; but it is certainly not to be 
identified with Sepham, on the north-east of the sea of Galilee 
(Num. xxxiv. 10, 11), as Thenius supposes. Eshtemoa has 
been preserved in the village of Semua, with ancient ruins, on 
the south-western portion of the mountains of Judah (see at 
Josh. XV. 50). Bacal is never mentioned again, and is entirely 
unknown. The LXX. have five different names instead of 
this, the last being Carmel, into which Thenius proposes to alter 
Bacal. But this can hardly be done with propriety, as the 
LXX. also introduced the Philistian Gath, which certainly 
does not belong here ; whilst in ver. 30 they have totally dif- 
ferent names, some of which are decidedly wrong. The cities 
of the Jerahmeelites and Kenites were situated in the Negeb 
of Judah (ch. xxvii. 10), but their names cannot be traced. — 
Ver. 30. Hormah in the Negeb (Josh. xv. 30) is Zephath, the 
present Zepdta, on the western slope of the Bakhma plateau 
(see at Josh. xii. 14). Cor-ashan, probably the same place as 
Ashan in the Shephelah, upon the border of the Negeb, has not 
yet been discovered (see at Josh. xv. 42). Alhach is only men- 
tioned here, and quite unknown. According to Thenius, it is 
probably a mistaken spelling for E-ther in the tribe of Simeon 


(Josh. xlx. 7, XV. 43). Hebron, the present el Khulil, Abra- 
ham's city (see at Josh. x. 3 ; Gen. xxiii. 17). 


Th« end of the unhappy king corresponded to his hfe ever 
since the day of his rejection as king. When he had lost the 
battle, and saw his three sons fallen at hi s si de, and th e^rcliers 
of the enemy pressi ng hard upon him, without eith er repent- 
ance or remorse he put an endjo^his life by suicide, to escape 
th e disgrace of being wou nded and ab used Jby: the foe (vers. 
1-7). But he did not attain hisobject^j^ f or the next day the 
enemy found his corpse and those of his sons, and proceeded to 
plunder, mutilate, and abuse them (vers. 8-10). However, the 
king of Israel was not to be left to perish in utter disgrace. 
The citizens of Jabesh r pmpm1-»prpfl tlip df^livpraimft wliiph^anl 
had brought to their city after hise lection as kin g, and_ showed 
their gratitude by giving an horiourable Jjurial to Saul and 
his sons (vers. 11-13). There is a parallel to this chapter in 
1 Chron. X., which agrees exactly with the account before us, 
with very few deviations indeed, and those mostly verbal, and 
merely introduces a hortatory clause at the end (vers. 13, 14). 

Vers. 1-7. The account of the war between the Philistines 
and Israel, the commencement of which has already been 
mentioned in ch. xxviii. 1, 4 sqq., and xxix. 1, is resumed in 
ver. 1 in a circumstantial clause; and to this there is attached 
a description of the progress and result of the battle, more 
especially with reference to Saul. Consequently, in 1 Chron. 
X. 1, where there had been no previous allusion to the war, the 
participle Q"''?np3 is changed into the perfect. The following is 
the way in which we should express the circumstantial clause : 
" Now when the Philistines were fighting against Israel, the 
men of Israel fled before the Philistines, and slain men fell in 
the mountains of Gilboa" (vid. ch. xxviii. 4). The principa l 
enga gement took place in the pla in of Jezreel. But when the 
Israelites were obliged to yieldj^they fled up the mountains of 
Gilboa, and were pursued and slain there.— Vers. 2-4. The 
Philistines ToITowed Saul, smote (i.e. put to death) his three 
sons (see at ch. xiv. 49), and fought fiercely against Saul him- 
self. When the archers (DK'iJa D^^J^ is an explanatory apposition 

CHAP. XXXI. 1-7. 279 

to D^l^ßn) hit him, i.e. overtook him, he was greatly alarmed at 
them (?nj, from ?^n or '"i^),^ and called upon his armour-bearer 
to pierce him with the sword, " lest these uncircumcised come 
and thrust me through, and flay with tw«," i.e. cool their courage 
upon me by maltreating me. But as tlie^ arniour-bearer would 
not do this, because he was, very much afraid, jince he was 
supposed to be answerabl e for the king's life, Saul inflicted 
death upon himself with his sword ; whereupon the armour- 
bearer also fell upon his sword and died with his king, so that 
on that day Saul and his three sons and his arrpour-bearer all 
died ; also ^^ all his men^' (for which we have 'will his house? 
in the Chronicles), i.e. not all the warriors who went out witli 
him to battle, but all the king's servants, or all the members of 
his house, sc. who had taken part in the battle. Neither Abner 
nor his son Ishbosheth was included, for the latter was not in 
the battle ; and although the former was Saul's cousin and 
commander-in-chief (see ch. xiv. 50, 51), he did not belong to 
his house or servants. — Ver. 7. When the men of Israel upon 
the sides that were opposite to the valley (Jezreel) and the 
Jordan saw that the Israelites (the Israelitish troop) fled, and 
Saul and Iiis sons were dead, they took to flight out of the 
cities, whereupon the Philistines took possession of them. 13^ 
is used here to signify the side opposite to the place of conflict 
in the valley of Jezreel, which the writer assumed as his stand- 

^ The LXX. have adopted the rendering kxI irpuvft,ä,riaetv ü; toi 
vTToxovöpix, they wounded him in the abdomen, whilst the Vulgate render- 
ing is vulnerafus est vehementer a sagittariis. In 1 Chron. x. 3 the Sept. 
rendering is ku\ i^öutaiv x-tto tuv ro^av, and that of the Vulgate et vulnera- 
verunt jaculis. The translators have therefore derived prT* from ypr\ = TVU, 

•^ V T - T T T 

and then given a free rendering to the other words. But this rendering is 
overthrown by the word IXD, very, vehemently, to say nothing of the fact 
that the verb ^^n or n^n cannot be proved to be ever used in the sense of 
wounding. If Saul had been so severely wounded that he could not kill 
himself, and therefore asked his armour-bearer to slay him, as Thenius 
supposes, he would not have had the strength to pierce himself with his 
Bword when the armour-bearer refused. The further conjecture of Thenius, 
that the Hebrew text should be read thus, in accordance with the LXX., 
D^litDH ha, ^n'1, " he was wounded in the region of the gall," is opposed 
by the circumstance that vTroxovlpiu is not the gall or region of the gall, 
but what is under the x^ulpos, or breast cartilage, viz. the abdomen and 


point (cf. ch. xlv. 40) ; so that Ppyn "I3y is the country to the 
west of the valley of Jezreel, and n"!*n "i^y the country to the 
west of the Jprdan, i.e. between Gilboa and the Jordan. These 
districts, i.el the whole of the country round, about the valley 
of Jezreel, tlie Philistines took possession of, so that the whole 
of the northern part of the land of Israel,) in other wordsTthe 
whole land with the exception of Per^a and the^ribe-lana of 
Judah, came into their hands when Saul was slain. ) 

Vers. 8-10. On the day following the battTe, when the 
Philistines stripped the slain, they found Saul and his three sons 
lying upon Gilboa ; and having cut off their heads and plun- 
dered their weapons, they sent them (the heads and weapons) 
as trophies into the land of the Philistines, i.e. round about to 
the different towns and hamlets of their land, to announce the 
joyful news in their idol-temples (the writer of the Chronicles 
mentions the idols themselves) and to the people, and then 
deposited their weapons (the weapons of Saul and his sons) in 
the Astarte-houses. But the corpses they fastened to the town- 
wall of Beth-shean, i.e. Beisan, in the valley of the Jordan (see 
at Josh. xvii. 11). Beth-azahhim and Beth-ashtaroth are com- 
posite words ; the first part is indeclinable, and the plural form 
is expressed by the second word : idol-houses and. Astarte-houses^ 
like heth-aboth (father' s-houses : see at Ex. vi. 14). On the 
Ästa7'tes, see at Judg. ii. 13. It is not expressly stated indeed 
in vers. 9, 10, that the Philistines plundered the bodies of Saul's 
sons as well, and mutilated them by cutting off their heads ; but 
itJ'Nl and 1y3j his (i.e. Saul's) liead and his tceapons, alone are 
mentioned. At the same time, it is very evident from ver. 12, 
where the Jabeshites are said to have taken down from the wall 
of Beth-shean not Saul's body only, but the bodies of his sons 
also, that the Philistines had treated the corpses of Saul's sons 
in just the same manner as that of Saul himself. The writer 
speaks distinctly of the abuse of Saul's body only, because it 
was his death that he had chiefly in mind at the time. To the 
word ^^fp]). we must supply in thought the object it^N") and 1v3 
from the preceding clause. ri*1^ and r\^]i (vers. 10 and 12) are 
the corpses without the heads. The fact that the Philistines 
nailed them to the town-wall of Beth-shean presupposes the 
capture of that city, from which it is evident that they had 
occupied the land as far as the Jordan. The definite word 

CHAP. XXXI. 11-13, 281 

Beth-ashtaroth is changed by the writer of the Chronicles into 
Beth-elohim, temples of the gods ; or rather he has interpreted it 
in this manner without altering the sense, as the Astartes are 
merely mentioned as the principal deities for the idols generally. 
The writer of the Chronicles has also omitted to mention the 
nailing of the corpses to the wall of Beth-shean, but he states 
instead that " they fastened his skull in the temple of Dagon," 
a fact which is passed over in the account before us. From 
this we may see how both writers have restricted themselves to 
the principal points, or those which appeared to them of the 
greatest importance {vid. Bertheau on 1 Chron. x. 10). 

Vers. 11-13. When the inhabitants of Jabesli in Gilead 
heard this, all the brave men of the town set out to Beth- 
shean, took down the bodies of Saul and his sons from the wall, 
brought them to Jabesh, and burned them there. " But their 
hones they buried under the tamarisk at Jabesh, and fasted seven 
days" to mourn for the king their former deliverer (see ch. xi.). 
These statements are given in a very condensed form in the 
Chronicles (vers. 11, 12). Not only is the fact that " they went 
the whole night " omitted, as being of no essential importance 
to the general history ; but the removal of the bodies from the 
town-wall is also passed over, because their being fastened there 
had not been mentioned, and also the burning of the bodies. 
The reason for the last omission is not to be sought for in the 
fact that the author of the Chronicles regarded burning as 
ignominious, according to Lev. xx. 14, xxi. 9, but because he 
did not see how to recgncile the burning of the bodies with the 
burial of the bones, (it was not the custoni in Israel to burn 
the corpse, but to bury it in the ground. The former was 
restricted to the worst criminals (see at Lev. xx, 14). Conse- 
quently the Chaldee interpretedfthe word " burnt" as relating to 
the burning of spices, a custom which we meet with afterwards 
as a special honour shown to certain of the kings of Judah on 
the occasion of their burial (2 Chron. xvi. 14, xxi. 19 ; Jer. 
xxxiv. 5). But this is expressed by nanb' i? ^"W^ '- to make a 
burning for him," whereas here it is stated distinctly that " they 
burnt them." ( The reason for the burning of the bodies in the 
case of Saul ahd his sons is to be sought for in the peculiarity 
of the circumstances ; viz. partly in the fact that the bodies were 
mutilated by the removal of the heads, and therefore a regular 


burial of the dead was impossible, and partly in tlieir anxiety 
lest, if the Philistines followed up their victory and came to 
Jabesh, they should desecrate the bodies still further. But 
even this was not a complete burning to ashes, but merely a 
burning of the skin and flesh ; so that the bones still remained^ 
and they were buried in the ground under a shady tree. 
Instead of " under the (well-known) tamarisk" (eshel), we have 
•^^^0 ^^^ (under the strong tree) in 1 Chron. x. 11. David 
afterwards had them fetched away and buried in Saul's family 
grave at Zela, in the land of Benjamin (2 Sam. xxi. 11 sqq.). 
The seven days' fast kept by the Jabeshites was a sign of 
public and general mourning on the part of the inhabitants of 
that town at the death of the king, who had once rescued them 
frorji the most abominable slavery. 

(In this ignominious fate of Saul there was manifested the 
rignteous judgment of God in consequence of the hardening of 
his hearth f But the love which the citizens of Jabesh displayed 
in theirAreatment of the corpses of Saul and liis sons, had 
reference not to the king as rejected by God, but to the king 
as anointed with the Spirit of Jehovah, and was a practical 
condemnation, not of the divine judgment which had fallen 
upon Saul, but of the cruelty of the enemies of Israel and its 
anointed. For although Saul had waged war almost incessantly 
against the Philistines, it is not known that in any one of his 
victories he had ever been guilty of such cruelties towards the 
conquered and slaughtered foe as could justify this barbarous 
revenge on the part of the uncircumcised upon his lifeless 
corpse. J 


HIS book contains the history of David's reign, 
arranged according to its leadincr features : viz. 
(1) tlie commencement of his reign as king of 
Judali at Hebron, whereas the other tribes of Israel 
adhered to the house of Saul (ch. i.-iv.) ; (2) his promotion to 
be king over all Israel, and the victorious extension of his 
sway (ch. v.-ix.) ; (3) the decline of his power in consequence 
of his adultery (ch. x.-xx.) ; (4) the close of his reign (ch. 
xxi.-xxiv.). Parallels and supplements to this history, in 
which the reign of David is described chiefly in its connection 
with the development of the kingdom of God under the Old 
Testament, are given in ch. xi.-xxviii. of the first book of 
Chronicles, where we have an elaborate description of the 
things done by David, both for the elevation and organization 
of the public worship of God, and also for the consolidation 
and establishment of the whole kingdom, and the general ad- 
ministration of government. 


When David received the tidings at Ziklag of the defeat of 
Israel and the death of Saul, he mourned deeply and sincerely 
for the fallen king and his noble son Jonathan (ch. i.). He 
then returned by the permission of God into the land of Judah, 
namely to Hebron, and was anointed king of Judah by the 
elders of that tribe ; whereas Abner, the cousin and chief 
general of Saul, took Ishbosheth, the only remaining son of 
the fallen monarch, and made him king over the other tribes 


of Israel at Mahanaim (ch. ii. 1-11). This occasioned a civil 
war. Abner marched to Gibeon against David with the forces 
of Ishbosheth, but was defeated by Joab, David's commander- 
in-chief, and pursued to Mahanaim, in which pursuit Abner 
slew Asahel the brother of Joab, who was eagerly following 
him (ch. ii. 12—32). Nevertheless, the conflict between the 
house of David and the house of Saul continued for some time 
longer, but with the former steadily advancing and the latter 
declining, until at length Abner quarrelled with Ishbosheth, 
and persuaded the tribes that had hitherto adhered to him to 
acknowledge David as king over all Israel. After the negotia- 
tions with David for effecting this, he was assassinated by Joab 
on his return from Hebron, — an act at which David not only 
expressed his abhorrence by a solemn mourning for Abner, but 
declared it still more openly by cursing Joab's crime (ch. iii.). 
Shortly afterwards, Ishbosheth was assassinated in his own 
house by two Benjaminites ; but this murder was also avenged 
by David, who ordered the murderers to be put to death, and 
the head of Ishbosheth, that had been delivered up to him, to 
be buried in Abner's tomb (ch. iv.). Thus the civil war and 
the threatened split in the kingdom were brought to an end, 
though without any complicity on the part of David, but rather 
against his will, viz. through the death of Abner, the author of 
the split, and of Ishbosheth, whom he had placed upon the 
throne, both of whom fell by treacherous hands, and received 
the reward of their rebellion against the ordinance of God. 
David himself, in his long school of affliction under Saul, had 
learned to put all his hope in the Lord his God ; and therefore, 
when Saul was dead, he took no steps to grasp by force the 
kingdom which God had promised him, or to remove his rival 
out of the way by crime. 

David's conduct on hearing of saul's death, his 
elegy upon saul and jonathan. — chap. i. 

David received the intelligence of the defeat of Israel and 
the death of Saul in the war with the Philistines from an 
Amalekite, who boasted of having slain Saul and handed over 
to David the crown and armlet of the fallen king, but whom 
David punished with death for the supposed murder of the 

CHAP. I. 1-16. 285 

anointed of God (vers. 1-16). David mourned for tTie death 
of Saul and Jonathan, and poured out his grief in an elegiac 
ode (vers. 17-27). This account is closely connected with the 
concluding chapters of the first book of Samuel. 

Vers. 1-16. David receives the news of SauHs death. — Vers. 
1-4. After the death of Saul, and David's return to Ziklag 
from his campaign against the Amalekltes, there came a man to 
David on the third day, with his clothes torn and earth strewed 
upon his head (as a sign of deep mourning : see at 1 Sam. 
iv. 12), who informed him of the flight and overthrow of the 
Israelitish army, and the death of Saul and Jonathan. — Ver. 1 
may be regarded as the protasis to ver. 2, so far as the contents 
are concerned, although formally it is rounded off, and ^^^\ forms 
the apodosis to ^7^.1 '• " It' came to pass after the death of Saul, 
David had returned from the slaughter of the Amalekltes (1 Sam. 
XXX. 1-26), that David remained at Ziklag two days. And it 
came to pass on the third day" etc. Both of these notices of 
the time refer to the day, on which David returned to Ziklag 
from the pursuit and defeat of the Amalekltes. Whether the 
battle at Gilboa, in which Saul fell, occurred before or after the 
return of David, it is impossible to determine. All that follows 
from the juxtaposition of the two events in ver. 1, is that they 
were nearly contemporaneous. The man " came from the army 
from with Saxd" and therefore appears to have kept near to 
Saul during the battle. — Ver. 4. David's inquiry, " How did 
the thing happen ?" refers to the statement made by the mes- 
senger, that he had escaped from the army of Israel. In the 
answer, "iK't* serves, like "'S in other passages, merely to introduce 
the words that follow, like our namely (vid. Ewald, § 338, i). 
" The people fled from the fight ; and not only have many of 
the people fallen, but Saul and Jonathan his son are also dead^ 
D31 . . . Dil : not only . . . hut also. — Vers. 5 sqq. To David's 
further inquiry how he knew this, the young man replied (vers. 
6-10), " / happened to come i}^'^\>}. = '"i"'i??) up to the mountains 
of Gilboa, and saw Saul leaning upon his spear ; then the chariots 
(the war-chariots for the charioteers) a7id riders were pressing 
upon him, and he turned round and saw me, . . . and asked me, Who 
art thou? and I said. An Amalekite ; and he said to me, Corhe 
hither to me, and slay me, for the cramp (K^^ according to the 
Kabbins) hath seized me (sc. so that I cannot defend myself, 


and must fall into the hands of the Philistines) ; for my soul 
(my life) is still whole in me. Then I went to him, and slew him, 
because I knew that after his fall he would not live ; and took the 
crown upon his head, and the bracelet upon his arm, and brought 
them to my lord ^' (David). "After his fall" does not mean 
" after he had fallen upon his sword or spear" (Clericus), for 
this is neither implied in i?Q3 nor in iJT'Jn'Pi; {yB'J (" supported, 
i.e. leaning upon his spear"), nor are we at liberty to transfer 
it from 1 Sam. xxxi. A into this passage ; but " after his defeat^^ 
i.e. so that he would not survive this calamity. This statement 
is at variance with the account of the death of Saul in 1 Sam. 
xxxi. 3 sqq. ; and even apart from this it has an air of improba- 
bility, or rather of untruth in it, particularly in the assertion 
that Saul was leaning upon his spear when the chariots and 
horsemen of the enemy came upon him, without having either 
an armour-bearer or any other Israelitish soldier by his side, so 
that he had to turn to an Amalekite who accidentally came by, 
and to ask him to inflict the fatal wound. The Amalekite 
invented this, in the hope of thereby obtaining the better 
recompense from David. The only part of his statement 
which is certainly true, is that he found the king lying dead 
upon the field of battle, and took off the crown and armlet ; 
since he brought these to David. But it is by no means cer- 
tain whether he was present when Saul expired, or merely 
found him after he was dead. — Vers. 11, 12. This information, 
the substance of which was placed beyond all doubt by the 
king's jewels that were brougiit, filled David with the deepest 
sorrow. As a sign of his pain he rent his clothes ; and all the 
men with him did the same, and mourned with weeping and 
fasting until the evening '■^for Saul and for Jonathan his son^ 
for the people of Jehovah, and for the house of Israel, because 
they had fallen by the sword'* (i.e. in battle). " The people of 
Jehovah" and the ^' house or people of Israel" are distinguished 
from one another, according to the twofold attitude of Israel, 
which furnished a double ground for mournino;. Those who 
had fallen were first of all members of the people of Jehovah, 
and secondly, fellow-countrymen. " They were therefore asso- 
ciated with them, both according to the flesh and according to 
the spirit, and for that reason they mourned the more" (Seb. 
Schmidt). " The only deep mourning for Saul, with the 

CHAP. I. 1-ie. 287 

exception of that of the Jabeshites (1 Sam. xxxi. 11), pro- 
ceeded from the man whom he had hated and persecuted for 
so many years even to the time of his death ; just as David's 
successor wept over the fall of Jerusalem, even when it was 
about to destroy Himself" (O. v. Gerlach). — Ver. 13. David 
then asked the bringer of the news for further information 
concerning his own descent, and received the reply that he was 
the son of an Amalekite stranger, i.e. of an Amalekite who had 
emigrated to Israel. — Ver. 14. David then reproached him for 
what he had done : " How wast thou not afraid to stretch forth 
thiiiß hand to destroy the Lord!s anointed?" and commanded one 
of his attendants to slay him (vers. 15 sqq.), passing sentence 
of death in these words : " Thy Mood come upon thy head (cf. 
Lev. XX. 9, Josh. ii. 19) ; for thy mouth hath testified against 
thee, saying, I have slain the Lord's anointed." ^ David regarded 
the statement of the Amalekite as a sufficient ground for con- 
demnation, without investigating the truth any further ; though 
it was most probably untrue, as he could see through his design 
of securing a great reward as due to him for performing such a 
deed (yid. ch. iv. 10), and looked upon a man who could attri- 
bute such an act to himself from mere avarice as perfectly 
capable of committing it. Moreover, the king's jewels, which 
he had brought, furnished a practical proof that Saul had 
really been put to death. This punishment was by no means 
so severe as to render it necessary to "estimate its morality 
according to the times," or to defend it merely from the stand- 
point of political prudence, on the ground that as David was 
the successor of Saul, and had been pursued by him as his 
rival with constant suspicion and hatred, he ought not to leave 
the murder of the king unpunished, if only because the people, 
or at any rate his own opponents among the people, would 
accuse him of complicity in the murder of the king, if not of 

^ " Thy mouth hath testißed against thee, and out of it thou art judged 
(Luke xix. 22), whether thou hast done it or not. If thou hast done it, 
thou receivest the just reward of thy deeds. If thou hast not done it, then 
throw the blame upon thine own lying testimony, and be content with the 
wages of a wicked flatterer ; for, according to thine own confession, thou 
art the murderer of a king, and that is quite enough to betray thine evil 
heart. David could see plainly enough that the man was no murderer : he 
would show by his example that flatterers who boast of such sins as these 
should get no hearing from their superiors." — Berkb. Bible. 


actually instigating the murderer. David would never have 
allowed such considerations as these to lead him into unjust 
severity. And his conduct requires no such half vindication. 
Even on the supposition that Saul had asked the Amaleklte to 
give him his death-thrust, as he said he had, it was a crime 
deserving of punishment to fulfil this request, the more espe- 
cially as nothing is said about any such mortal wounding of 
Saul as rendered his escape or recovery impossible, so that it 
could be said that it would have been cruel under such circum- 
stances to refuse his request to be put to death. If Saul's life 
was still " full in him," as the Amalekite stated, his j)osition 
was not so desperate as to render it inevitable that he should 
fall into the hands of the Philistines. Moreover, the supposi- 
tion was a very natural one, that he had slain the king for the 
sake of a reward. But slaying the king, the anointed of the 
Lord, was in itself a crime that deserved to be punished with 
death. What David might more than once have done, but had 
refrained from doing from holy reverence for the sanctified 
person of the king, this foreigner, a man belonging to the nation 
of the Amalekites, Israel's greatest foes, had actually done for 
the sake of gain, or at any rate pretended to have done. Such 
a crime must be punished with death, and that by David who 
had been chosen by God and anointed as Saul's successor, and 
whom the Amalekite himself acknowledged in that capacity, 
since otherwise he would not have brought him the news 
together with the royal diadem. 

Vers. 17-27. David^s elegy upon Saul and Jonathan. — An 
eloquent testimony to the depth and sincerity of David's grief 
for the death of Saul is handed down to us in the elegy which 
he composed upon Saul and his noble son Jonathan, and which 
he had taught to the children of Israel. It is one of the finest 
odes of the Old Testament ; full of lofty sentiment, and spring- 
ing from deep and sanctified emotion, in which, without the 
slightest allusion to his own relation to the fallen king, David 
celebrates without envy the bravery and virtues of Saul and his 
son Jonathan, and bitterly laments their loss. "He said to 
teacli" i.e. he commanded the children of Judah to practise or 
learn it. ^lt^'i?, hoio ; i.e. a song to which the title Keshefh or 
bow was given, not only because the bow is referred to (ver. 22), 
but because it is a martial ode, and the bow was one of the 

CHAP. I. 17-27. 289 

principal weapons used by the warriors of that age, and one in 
the use of which the Benjaminites, the tribe-mates of Saul, 
were particularly skilful : cf. 1 Chron. viii. 40, xii. 2 ; 2 Chron. 
xiv. 7, xvii. 17. Other explanations are by no means so 
natural; such, for example, as that it related to the melody 
to which the ode was sung; whilst some are founded upon false 
renderings, or arbitrary alterations of the text, e.g. that of 
Ewald (Gesch. i. p. 41), Thenius, etc. This elegy was inserted 
in "the book of the righteous'' (see at Josh. x. 13), fi'om which 
the author of the books of Samuel has taken it. 

The ode is arranged in three strophes, which gradually dimi- 
nish in force and sweep (viz. vers. 19-24, 25-26, 27), and in 
which the vehemence of the sorrow is gradually modified, and 
finally dies away. Each strophe opens with the exclamation, 
"Hoio are the mighty fallen!" T\\q first contains all that had to 
be said in praise of the fallen heroes; the deepest mourning for 
their death; and praise of their bravery, of their inseparable 
love, and of the virtues of Saul as king. The second com- 
memorates the friendship between David and Jonathan. The 
third simply utters the last sigh, with which the elegy becomes 
silent. H\iQ first strophe runs thus : 

Ver. 19. The ornament, Israel, is slain upon thy heights ! 
Oh how are the mighty fallen ! 

20. Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon; 
Lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, 

Lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph ! 

21. Ye mountains of Gilboa, let not dew or rain be upon you, or fields 

of first-fruit offerings : 
For there is the shield of the mighty defiled, 
The shield of Saul, not anointed with oil. 

22. From the blood of the slain, from the fat of the mighty, 
The bow of Jonathan turned not back. 

And the sword of Saul returned not empty. 

23. Saul and Jonathan, beloved and kind, in life 
And in death they are not divided. 

Lighter than eagles were they ; stronger than lions. 

24. Ye daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, 
"Who clothed you in purple with delight ; 
Who put a golden ornament upon your apparel ! 

The first clause of ver. 19 contains the theme of the entire 
ode. ""iSfn does not mean the gazelle here (as the Syriac and 
Clericus and others render it), the only plausible support of 



which is the expression "upon thy heights," whereas the parallel 
D^"|i33 shows that by ''??n we are to understand the two heroes 
Saul and Jonathan, and that the word is used in the appella- 
tive sense of ornament. The king and his noble son were the 
ornament of Israel. They were slain upon the heights of Israel. 
Luther has given a correct rendering, so far as the sense is 
concerned {die Edelsten, the noblest), after the inclyti of the 
Vulgate. The pronoun " thy high places " refers to Israel. The 
reference is to the heights of the mountains of Gilboa (see ver. 
21). This event threw Israel into deep mourning, which com- 
mences in the second clause. — Ver. 20. The tidings of this 
mourning were not to be carried out among the enemies of 
Israel, lest they should rejoice thereat. Such rejoicing would 
only increase the pain of Israel at the loss it had sustained. Only 
two of the cities of Philistia are mentioned by name, viz. Gath, 
which was near, and Askelon, which was farther off by the 
sea. The rejoicing of the daughters of the Philistines refers to 
the custom of employing women to celebrate the victories of 
their nation by singing and dancing (cf.l Sam. xviii. 6). — Ver. 
21. Even nature is to join in the mourning. May God with- 
draw His blessing from the mountains upon which the heroes 
have fallen, that they may not be moistened by the dew and rain 
of heaven, but, remaining \n eternal barrenness, be memorials 
of the horrible occurrence that has taken place upon them. 
y'apaa """nn is an address to them ; and the preposition 3 with the 
construct state is poetical : " mountains in Gilboa " (yid. Ewald, 
§ 289, b). In aa^Sj; . . .h^ the verb ^T^ is wanting. The fol- 
lowing words, niD^in '^'W\j are in apposition to the foregoing : 
" and let not fields of first-fruit offerings be upon you" i.e. fields 
producing fruit, from which offerings of first-fruits were pre- 
sented. This is the simplest and most appropriate explanation of 
the words, which have been very differently, and in some resj)ects 
very marvellously rendered. The reason for this cursing of the 
mountains of Gilboa was, that there the shield of the heroes, 
particularly of Saul, had been defiled with blood, namely the 
blood of those whom the shield ought to defend. ?J?3 does not 
mean to throw away (Dietrich.), but to soil or defile (as in the 
Chaldee), then to abhor. " Not anointed with oil," i.e. not 
cleansed and polished with oil, so that the marks of Saul's 
blood still adhered to it. v3 poetical for iib. The interpolation 

CHAP. I. 17-27. 291 

of the words " as though " (quasi non esset unctus oleo, Vulgate) 
cannot be sustained. — Ver. 22. Such was the ignominy experi- 
enced upon Gilboa by those who had always fought so bravely, 
that their bow and sword did not turn back until it was satis- 
fied with the blood and fat of the slain. The figure upon which 
the passage is founded is, that arrows drink the blood of the 
enemy, and a sword devours their flesh (vid. Deut. xxxii. 42 ; 
Isa. xxxiv. 5, 6 ; Jer. xlvi. 10). The two principal weapons are 
divided between Saul and Jonathan, so that the bow is assigned 
to the latter and the sword to the former. — Ver. 23. In death 
as in life, the two heroes were not divided, for they were alike 
in bravery and courage. Notwithstanding their difference of 
character, and the very opposite attitude which they assumed 
towards David, the noble Jonathan did not forsake his father, 
although his fierce hatred towards the friend whom Jonathan 
loved as his own soul might have undermined his attachment 
to his father. The two predicates, ^i^i???., loved and amiable, and 
D"*!?:, affectionate or kind, apply chiefly to Jonathan; but they 
were also suitable to Saul in the earliest years of his reign, 
when he manifested the virtues of an able ruler, which secured 
for him the lasting affection and attachment of the people. In 
his mourning over the death of the fallen hero, David forgets 
all the injury that Saul has inflicted upon him, so that he only 
brings out and celebrates the more amiable aspects of his 
character. The light motion or swiftness of an eagle (cf . Hab. 
i. 8), and the strength of a lion (vid. ch. xvii. 10), were the 
leading characteristics of the great heroes of antiquity. — Lastly, 
in ver. 24, David commemorates the rich booty which Saul had 
brought to the nation, for the purpose of celebrating his heroic 
greatness in this respect as well. ""J^ was the scarlet purple 
(see at Ex. xxv. 4). *' With delights," or with lovelinesses, i.e. 
in a lovely manner. 

The second strophe (vers. 25 and 26) only applies to the 
friendship of Jonathan : 

Ver. 25. Oh how are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle ! 
Jonathan (is) slain upon thy heights ! 
26. I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan : 

Thou wast very kind to me : , 

Stranger than the love of woman was thy love to me I 

Ver. 25 is almost a verbal repetition of ver. 19. "»V ("ver. 


26) denotes the pinching or pressure of the heart consequent 
upon pain and mourning. nriKPöp^ third pers. fern., like a verb 
n"f) with the termination lengthened {vid. Ewald, § 194, 6), to 
be wonderful or distinguished. ^n?i]^, thy love to me. Com- 
parison to the love of woman is expressive of the deepest 
earnestness of devoted love. 

The third strophe (ver. 27) contains simply a brief after- 
tone of sorrow, in which the ode dies away : 

Oh how are the mighty fallen, 
The instruments of war perished ! 

^' The instru7nents of war^^ are not the weapons ; but the ex- 
pression is a figurative one, referring to the heroes by whom 
war was carried on (yid. Isa. xiii. 5). Luther has adopted this 
rendering (die Streitbaren). 


After David had mourned for the fallen king, he went, 
in accordance with the will of the Lord as sought through 
the Urim, to Hebron, and was there anointed king by the tribe 
of Judah. He then sent his thanks to the inhabitants of 
Jabesh, for the love which they had shown to Saul in burying 
his bones (vers. 1-7), and reigned seven years and a half at 
Hebron over Judah alone (vers. 10 and 11). Abner, on the 
other hand, put forward Ishbosheth the son of Saul, who still 
remained alive, as king over Israel (vers. 8 and 9) ; so that a 
war broke out between the adherents of Ishbosheth and those 
of David, in whicli Abner and his army were beaten, but the 
brave Asahel, the son-in-law of David, was slain by Abner 
(vers. 12-32). The promotion of Ishbosheth as king was not 
only a continuation of the hostility of Saul towards David, but 
also an open act of rebellion against Jehovah, who had rejected 
Saul and chosen David prince over Israel, and who had given 
such distinct proofs of this election in the eyes of the whole 
nation, that even Saul had been convinced of the appointment 
of David to be his successor upon the throne. But David 
attested his unqualified submission to the guidance of God, in 
contrast with this rebellion against His clearly revealed will, 
not only by not returning to Judah till he had received per- 

CHAP. II. 1-7. 293 

mission from the Lord, but also by the fact that after the 
tribe of Judah had acknowledged him as king, he did not go to 
war with Ishbosheth, but contented himself with resisting the 
attack made upon him by the supporters of the house of Saul, 
because he was fully confident that the Lord would secure to 
him in due time the whole of the kingdom of Israel. 

Vers. l-4a. David's return to Hebron, and anointing as 
king over Judah. — Ver. 1 . " After this," i.e. after the facts re- 
lated in ch. i., David inquired of the Lord, namely through 
the Urim, whether he should go up to one of the towns of 
Judah, and if so, to which. He received the reply, "to 
Hebron,'^ a place peculiarly well adapted for a capital, not only 
from its situation upon the mountains, and iu the centre of the 
tribe, but also from the sacred reminiscences connected with it 
from the olden time. David could have no doubt that, now 
that Saul was dead, he would have to give up his existing con- 
nection with the Philistines and return to his own land. But 
as the Philistines had taken the greater part of the Israelitish 
territory through their victory at Gilboa, and there was good 
reason to fear that the adherents of Saul, more especially the 
army with Abner, Saul's cousin, at its head, would refuse to 
acknowledge David as king, and consequently a civil war might 
break out, David would not return to his own land without the 
express permission of the Lord. Vers. 2-4a. When he went 
with his wives and all his retinue (yid. 1 Sam. xxvii. 2) to Hebron 
and the '^cities of Hebron," i.e. the places belonging to the 
territory of Hebron, the men of Judah came (in the persons of 
their elders) and anointed him king over the house, i.e. the tribe, 
of Judah. Just as Saul was made king by the tribes after his 
anointing by Samuel (1 Sam. xi. 15), so David was first of all 
anointed by Judah here, and afterwards by the rest of the 
tribes (ch. v. 3). 

Vers. 46-7. A new section commences with ^12^. The first 
act of David as king was to send messengers to Jabesh, to 
thank the inhabitants of this city for burying Saul, and to an- 
nounce to them his own anointing as king. As this expression 
of thanks involved a solemn recognition of the departed king, 
by which David divested himself of even the appearance of a 
rebellion, the announcement of the anointing he had received 
contained an indirect summons to the Jabeshites to recognise 


him as their king now. — Ver. 6. " And now^^ sc. that ye have 
shown this love to Saul your lord, " may Jehovah show you g- :e 
and truths ^^ Grace and truth" are connected together, as in 
Ex. xxxiv. 6, as the two sides by which the goodness of Goa is 
manifested to men, namely in His forgiving grace, and in His 
trustwortliiness, or the fulfilment of His promises {vid. Ps. xxv. 
10). ^^ And 1 also shoio you this good" namely the prayer 
for the blessing of God (ver. 5), because ye have done this 
(to Saul). In ver. 7 there is attached to this the demand, 
that now that Saul their lord was dead, and the Judgeans 
had anointed him (David) king, they would show themselves 
valiant, namely valiant in their reverence and fidelity towards 
David, who had become their king since the death of Saul. 
^9^"- '""tP-H^) ^•^* ^6 comforted, spirited (cf. Judg. vii. 11). It 
needed some resolution and courage to recognise David as king, 
because Saul's army had fled to Gilead, and there was good 
ground for apprehending opposition to David on the part of 
Abner. Ishbosheth, however, does not appear to have been 
proclaimed king yet ; or at any rate the fact \vas not yet known 
to David. DJI. does not belong to ""ni«, but to the whole clause, 
as ""rix is placed first merely for the sake of emphasis. 

Vers. 8-11. Promotion of Ishbosheth to be king over Israel. 
— The account of this is attached to the foregoing in the form 
of an antithesis : " But A bner, the chief captain of Saul (see at 
1 Sam. xiv. 50), had taken Ishbosheth the son of Saul, and led 
him over to Mahanaim." Ishbosheth had probably been in the 
battle at Gilboa, and fled with Abner across the Jordan after 
the battle had been lost. Ishbosheth (i.e. man of shame) was the 
fourth son of Saul (according to 1 Chron. viii. 33, ix. 39) : his 
proper name was Esh-baal {i.e. fire of Baal, probably equiva- 
lent to destroyer of Baal). This name was afterwards changed 
into Ishbosheth, just as the name of the god Baal was also 
translated into Bosheth (" shame," Hos. ix 10, Jer. iii, 24, etc.), 
and Jerubbaal changed into Jerubbosheth (see at Judg. viii. 
35). Ewald's supposition, that bosheth was originally employed 
in a good sense as well, like mStu? and inS (Gen. xxxi. 53), 
cannot be sustained. Mahanaim was on the eastern side of the 
Jordan, not far from the ford of Jabbok, and was an impor- 
tant place for the execution of Abner's plans, partly from its 
historical associations (Gen. xxxii. 2, 3), and partly also from 

CHAP. II. 8-11. 295 

its situation. There he made Ishbosheth king ^'- for Gilead,'* 
i,«t. the whole of the land to the east of the Jordan (as in Num. 
: xii. 29, Josh. xxii. 9, etc.). ^^ For theAshurites:^' this reading 
ii idecidedly faulty, since we can no more suppose it to refer 
tdifAssyria (Asshur) than to the Arabian tribe of the Assurim 
(Gen. XXV. 3) ; but the true name cannot be discovered.^ 
*^ And for Jezreel" i.e. not merely the city of that name, but the 
plain that was named after it (as in 1 Sam. xxix. 1). ^^ And for 
Epliraim, and Benjamin, and all (the rest of) Israel^' of course not 
including Judah, where David had already been acknowledged 
as king. — Vers. 10, 11. Length of the reigns of Ishbosheth over 
Israel, and David at Hebron. The age of Islibosheth is given, 
as is generally the case at the commencement of a reign. He 
was forty years old when he began to reign, and reigned two 
years ; whereas David was king at Hebron over the house of 
Judah seven years and a half. We are struck with this differ- 
ence in the length of the two reigns; and it cannot be explained, 
as Seb. Schmidt, Clericus, and others suppose, on the simple 
assumption that David reigned two years at Hebron oxer Judah, 
namely up to the time of the murder of Ishbosheth, and then five 
years and a half over Israel, namely up to the time of the conquest 

^ In the Septuagint we find Qaatpl or Qctaovp, an equally mistaken form. 
The Chaldee has "over the tribe of Asher," which is also unsuitable, unlest 
we include the whole of the northern portion of Canaan, including the terri- 
tory of Zebulun and Naphtali. But there is no proof that the name Asher 
was ever extended to the territory of the three northern tribes. We should 
be rather disposed to agree with Bachienne, who supposes it to refer to the 
city of Asher (Josh. xvii. 7) and its territory, as this city was in the south- 
east of Jezreel, and Abner may possibly have conquered this district for 
Ishbosheth with Gilead as a base, before he ventured to dispute the govern- 
ment of Israel with the Philistines, if only we could discover any reason 
why the inhabitants (" the Ashurites ") should be mentioned instead of the 
city Asher^ or if it were at all likely that one city should be introduced in 
the midst of a number of large districts. The Syriac and Vulgate have 
Geshuri, and therefore seem to have read or conjectured ''"I5m'!|n ; and 
Thenius decides in favour of this, understanding the name Geshur to refer 
to the most northerly portion of the land on both sides of the Jordan, from 
Mount Herraon to the Lake of Gennesareth (as in Deut. iii. 14, Josh. xii. 
5, xiii. 13, 1 Chron. ii. 23). But no such usage of speech can be deduced 
from any of these passages, as Geshuri is used there to denote the land of 
the Geshurites, on the north-east of Bashan, which had a king of its own 
in the time of David (see at ch. iii. 3), and which Abner would certainly 
never have thought of conquering. 


of Jerusalem: for tins is at variance with the plain statement 
in the text, that " David was king in Hebron over the house 
of Judall seven years and a half." The opinion that the two 
years of Ishbosheth's reign are to be reckoned up to the time 
of the war with David, because Abner played the principal part 
during the other five years and a half that David continued 
to reign at Hebron, is equally untenable. We may see very 
clearly from ch. iii.-v. not only that Ishbosheth was king to the 
time of his death, which took place after that of Abner, but 
also that after both these events David was anointed king over 
Israel in Hebron by all the tribes, and that he then went 
directly to attack Jerusalem, and after conquering the citadel 
of Ziou, chose that city as his own capital. The short duration 
of Ishbosheth's reign can only be explained, therefore, on the 
supposition that he was not made king, as David was, immedi- 
ately after the death of Saul, but after the recovery by Abner 
of the land which the Philistines had taken on this side the 
Jordan, which may have occupied five years.^ 

Vers. 12-32. War between the supporters of Ishbosheth and 
those of David. — Vers. 12, 13. When Abner had brought all 
Israel under the dominion of Ishbosheth, he also sought to make 
Judah subject to him, and went with this intention from Ma- 
hanaim to Gibeon, the present Jib, in the western portion of 
the tribe of Benjamin, two good hours to the north of Jeru- 
salem (see at Josh. ix. 3), taking with him the servants, i.e. the 
fighting men, of Ishbosheth. There Joab, a son of Zeruiah, 
David's sister (1 Chron. ii. 16), advanced to meet him with the 
servants, i.e. the warriors of David ; and the two armies met at 

^ From the fact that in vers. 10, 11, Ishbosheth's ascending the throne is 
mentioned before that of David, and is also accompanied with a statement 
of his age, whereas the age of David is not given till ch. v. 4, 5, when he 
became king over all Israel, Ewald draws the erroneous conclusion that the 
earlier (?) historian regarded Ishbosheth as the true king, and David as a 
pretender. But the very opposite of this is stated as distinctly as possible 
in vers. 4 sqq. (compared with ver. 8). The fact that Ishbosheth is men- 
tioned before David in ver. 10 may be explained simply enough from the 
custom so constantly observed in the book of Genesis, of mentioning sub- 
ordinate lines or subordinate persons first, and stating Avhatever seemed 
worth recording with regard to them, in order that the ground might be 
perfectly clear for relating the history of the principal characters without 
any interruption. 

CHAP II. 12-32. 297 

the pool of Gibeon, i.e. probably one of the large reservoirs that 
are still to be found there (see Kob. Pal. ii. pp. 135—6 ; Tobler, 
Topogr. v. Jerusalem, ii. pp. 515—6), the one encamping upon 
the one side of the pool and the other upon the other. — Vers. 
14 sqq. Abner then proposed to Joab that the contest should be 
decided by single combat, probably for the purpose of avoiding 
an actual civil war. " Let the young men arise and wrestle before 
us." pnb, to joke or play, is used here to denote the war-play 
of single combat. As Joab accepted this proposal, twelve young 
warriors for Benjamin and Ishbosheth, and twelve from David's 
men, went over, i.e. went out of the two camps to the appointed 
scene of conflict ; " aiid one seized the other s head, and his sword 
was (immediately) in the side of the other (his antagonist), so that 
they fell together." The clause ^ni?n *1V3 i3"}n"i is a circumstantial 
clause : and his sword (every one's sword) was in the side of 
the other, i.e. thrust into it. Sending the sword into the op- 
ponent's side is thus described as simultaneous with the seizure 
of his head. The ancient translators expressed the meaning by 
sup\Ay\ng,a\evh {iveirrj^av, deßxit: LXX., Vulg.). This was 
a sign that the young men on both sides fought with great 
ferocity, and also with great courage. The place itself received 
the name of Helkath-hazzurim, '■'■field of the sharp edges" in 
consequence (for this use oi zur, see Ps. Ixxxix. 44). — Ver. 17. 
As this single combat decided nothing, there followed a general 
and very sore or fierce battle, in which Abner and his troops 
were put to flight by the soldiers of David. The only thing 
connected with this, of which we have any further account, is 
the slaughter of Asahel by Abner, which is mentioned here 
(vers. 18-23) on account of the important results which followed. 
Of the tliree sons of Zeruiah, viz. Joab, Abishai, and Asahel, 
Asahel was peculiarly light of foot, like one of the gazelles; and 
he pursued Abner most eagerly, without turning aside to the 
right or to the left. — Vers. 20, 21. Then Abner turned round, 
asked him whether he was Asahel, and said to him, " Turn to 
thy right hand or to thy left, and seize one of the young men and 
take his armour for thyself" i.e. slay one of the common soldiers, 
and take his accoutrements as booty, if thou art seeking for that 
kind of fame. But Asahel would not turn back from Abner. 
Then he repeated his command that he would depart, and added, 
" Why should I smite thee to the ground, and hoio could I then lift 


up my face to Joah thy brother ?" from wliicli we may see that 
Abner did not want to put the young hero to death, out of 
regard for Joab and their former friendship. — Ver. 23. But 
when he still refused to depart in spite of this warning, Abner 
wounded him in the abdomen with the hinder part, i.e. the lower 
end of the spear, so that the spear came out behind, and Asahel 
fell dead upon the spot. The lower end of the spear appears to 
have been pointed, that it might be stuck into the ground {yid. 
1 Sam. xxvi. 7) ; and this will explain the fact that the spear 
passed through the body. The fate of the young hero excited 
such sympathy, that all who came to the place where he had 
fallen stood still to mourn his loss (cf. ch. xx. 12). — Ver. 24. 
But Joab and Abishai pursued Abner till the sun set, and until 
they had arrived at the hill Ammah, in front of Giah, on the 
way to the desert of Gibeon. Nothing further is known of the 
places mentioned here. — Vers. 25, 26. The Benjaniinites then 
gathered in a crowd behind Abner, and halted upon the top of 
a hill to beat back their pursuers ; and Abner cried out to Joab, 
" Shall the sword then devour for ever (shall there be no end to 
the slaughter) ? dost thou not knoio that bitterness arises at last ? 
and how long ivilt thou not say to the people, to return from pur- 
suing their brethren ?" Thus Abner warns Joab of the conse- 
quences of a desperate struggle, and calls upon him to put an 
end to all further bloodshed by suspending the pursuit. — Ver. 
27. Joab replied, " If thou hadst not spoken {i.e. challenged to 
single combat, ver. 14), the people woidd have gone away in the 
morning, every one from his brother" i.e. there would have been 
no such fratricidal conflict at all. The first ''? introduces the 
substance of the oath, as in 1 Sam. xxv. 34; the second gives 
greater force to it {vid. Ewald, § 330, b). Thus Joab threw all 
the blame of the fight upon Abner, because he had been the 
instigator of the single combat ; and as that was not decisive, and 
was so bloody in its character, the two armies had felt obliged to 
fight it out. But he then commanded the trumpet to be blown for 
a halt, and the pursuit to be closed — Ver. 29. Abner proceeded 
with his troops through the Arabah, i.e. the valley of the Jordan, 
marching the whole night ; and then crossing the river, went 
through the whole of Bithron back to Mahanaim. Bithron is a 
district upon the eastern side of the Jordan, which is only men- 
tioned here. Aquila and the Vulgate identify it with Bethhoron ; 

CHAP. III. 1. 299 

but there is no more foundation for this than for the suggestion 
of Thenius, that it is the same place as Bethharam, the later 
Lihias, at the mouth of the Nahr Hesban (see at Num. xxxii. 
36). It is very evident that Bithron is not the name of a city, 
but of a district, from the fact that it is preceded by the word 
all, which would be perfectly unmeaning in the case of a city. 
The meaning of the word is a cutting ; and it was no doubt the 
name given to some ravine in the neighbourhood of the Jabbok, 
between the Jordan and Mahanaim, which was on the north 
side of the Jabbok. — Vers. 30, 31. Joab also assembled his men 
for a retreat. Nineteen of his soldiers were missing besides 
Asahel, all of whom had fallen in the battle. But they had 
slain as many as three hundred and sixty of Benjamin and of 
Abner's men. This striking disproportion in the numbers may 
be accounted for from the fact that in Joab's army there were 
none but brave and well-tried men, who had gathered round 
David a long time before ; whereas in Abner's army there 
were only the remnants of the Israelites who had been beaten 
upon Gilboa, and who had been still further weakened and 
depressed by their attempts to recover the land which was 
occupied by the Philistines. — Ver. 32. On the way back, David's 
men took up the body of Asahel, and buried it in his father's 
grave at Bethlehem. They proceeded thence towards Hebron, 
marching the whole night, so that they reached Hebron itself 
at daybreak. " It got light to them (i.e. the day dawned) at 


Ver. 1. "And the ivar became long (was protracted) between 
the house of Saul and the house of David ; but David became 
stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul weaker and weaker.^'' 
^r'H, when connected with another verb or with an adjective, 
expresses the idea of the gradual progress of an affair {vid. Ges 
§ 131, 3, Anm. 3). The historian sums up in these words 
the historical course of the two royal houses, as they stood 
opposed to one another. " The loar" does not mean continual 
fighting, but the state of hostility or war in which they con- 
tinued to. stand towards one another. They concluded no peace, 


SO that David was not recognised by Ishboslieth as king, any 
more than Ishbosheth by David. Not only is there nothing 
said about any continuance of actual warfare by Abner or 
Ishbosheth after the loss of the battle at Gibeon, but such a 
thing was very improbable in itself, as Ishbosheth was too weak 
to be able to carry on the war, whilst David waited with firm 
reliance upon the promise of the Lord, until all Israel should 
come over to him. 

Vers. 2-5. Growth of the House of David. — Proof 
of the advance of the house of David is furnished by the multi- 
plication of his family at Hebron. The account of the sons 
who were horn to David at Hebron does not break the thread, 
as Clericus, Thenius, and others suppose, but is very appro- 
priately introduced here, as a practical proof of the strengthen- 
ing of the house of David, in harmony with the custom of 
beginning the history of the reign of every king with certain 
notices concerning his family {yid. ch. v. 13 sqq. ; 1 Kings iii. 1, 
xiv. 21, XV. 2, 9, etc.). We have a similar list of the sons of 
David in 1 Chron. iii. 1-4. The first two sons were born to 
him from the two wives whom he had brought with him to 
Hebron (1 Sam. xxv. 42, 43). The Chethihh rh^^ is probably 
only a copyist's error for '^'>>)% which is the reading in many 
Codices. From Ahinoam — tiie first-born, Amnon (called Ami- 
non in ch. xiii. 20) ; from Abigail — the second, Chileab. The 
latter is also called Daniel in 1 Chron. iii. 1, and therefore had 
probably two names. The lamed before Ahinoam and the fol- 
lowing names serves as a periphrasis for the genitive, like the 
German von, in consequence of the word son being omitted 
(yid. Ewald, § 292, a). The other four were by wives whom 
he had married in Hebron : Absalotn hy Maachah, the daughter 
of Talmai king of Geshur, a small kingdom in the north-east 
of Baslian (see at Deut. iii. 14) ; Adonijah by Haggith ; 
Shephatiah by Abital ; and Ithream by Eglah. The origin of 
the last .three wives is unknown. The clause appended to 
Eglah's name, viz. " Davids wife" merely serves as a fitting 
conclusion to the whole list (Bertheau on 1 Chron. iii. 3), and 
is not added to show that Eglah was David's principal wife, 
which would necessitate the conclusion drawn by the Rabbins, 
that Michal was the wife intended. 

CHAP. III. 6-39. 301 

Vers. 6-39. Decline of the House of Saul. — Vers. 
6-11. Ahners quarrel with Ishbosheth. — During the war be- 
tween the house of Saul and the house of David, Abner adhered 
firmly to the house of Saul, but he appropriated one of Saul's 
concubines to himself. When Ishbosheth charged him with 
this, he fell into so violent a rage, that he at once announced 
to Ishbosheth his intention to hand over the kingdom to David. 
Abner had certainly perceived the utter incapacity of Ish- 
bosheth for a very long time, if not from the very outset, and 
had probably made him king after the death of Saul, merely 
that he might save himself from the necessity of submitting to 
David, and might be able to rule in Ishbosheth's name, and 
possibly succeed in paving his own way to the throne. His 
appropriation of the concubine of the deceased monarch was at 
any rate a proof, according to Israelitish notions, and in fact 
those generally prevalent in the East, that he was aiming at 
the throne (vid. ch. xvi. 21 ; 1 Kings ii. 21). But it may 
gi'adually have become obvious to him, that the house of 
Saul could not possibly retain the government in opposition to 
David ; and this may have led to his determination to per- 
suade all the Israelites to acknowledge David, and thereby to 
secure for himself an influential post under his government. 
This will explain in a very simple manner Abner's falling away 
from Ishbosheth and going over to David. — Vers. 6 and 7 
constitute one period, expanded by the introduction of circum- 
stantial clauses, the ''<}]] (it came to pass) of the protasis being 
continued in the "i^^'l (he said) of ver. lb. " It came to pass, 
when there xoas war between the house of Saul and the house of 
David, and Abner showed himself strong for the house of Saul, 
and Saul had a concubine named Rizpah, the daughter of Aiah, 
that he (Ishbosheth) said to Abner, Why hast thou gone to my 
father s concubine ?" The subject to " said''^ is omitted in the 
apodosis ; but it is evident from ver. 8, and the expression " my 
father" that Ishbosheth is to be supplied. Even in the second 
circumstantial clause, " and Saul had a concubine,^' the reason 
why this is mentioned is only to be gathered from Ishbosheth's 
words. 3 Pilön*? : to prove one's self strong for, or with, a 
person, i.e. to render him powerful help. ^^ fc<i3 means " to 
cohabit with." It was the exclusive right of the successor to 
the throne to cohabit with the concubines of the deceased king, 


who came down to him as part of the property which he in- 
herited. — Ver. 8. Abner was so enraged at Ishbosheth's com- 
plaint, that he replied, " Am I a dogs head, holding with 
Judah ? To-day (i.e. at present) I show affection to the house 
of Saul thy father, towards his brethren and his friends, and did 
not let thee fall into the hand of David, and thou reproachest me 
to-day with the fault with the woman V " Dogs head" is some- 
thing thoroughly contemptible. vr\^rvh 1t^^«, lit. which (belongs) 
to Judah, i.e. holds with Judah. — Ver. 9. " God do so to Abner, 
. . . as Jehovah hath sioorn to David, so will I do to him^ The 
repetition of "'S serves to introduce the oath, as in ch. ii. 27. 
" To take away the kingdom from the house of Saul, and set iip 
the throne of David over Israel and over Judah, from Dan to 
Beersheba.'" We do not know of any oath with which God 
had promised the kingdom to David ; but the promise of God 
in itself is equivalent to an oath, as God is the true God, who 
can neither he nor deceive (1 Sam. xv. 29 ; Num. xxiii. 19). 
This promise was generally known in Israel. " From Dan to 
Beersheba" (as in Judg. xx. 1). — Ver. 11. Ishbosheth could 
make no reply to these words of Abner, " because he was afraid 
of him" 

Vers. 12-21. Abner goes over to David. — Ver. 12. Abner 
soon carried out his threat to Ishbosheth. He sent messengers 
to David in his stead (not " on the spot," or immediately, a ren- 
dering adopted by the Chaldee and Symmachus, but for which 
no support can be found) with this message : " Whose is the 
land?" i.e. to whom does it belong except to thee? and, "Make 
a covenant with me; behold, so is my hand with thee (i.e. so will 
I stand by thee), to turn all Israel to thee.'^ — Ver. 13. David 
assented to the proposal on this condition : " Only one thing 
do I require of thee, namely, Thou shalt not see my face, unless 
thou first of all bringest me Michal, the daughter of Saul, ivhen 
thou comest to see my face." ''l^''^il ^.r^r^^ ^?j " except before thy 
bringing," i.e. unless when thou hast first of all brought or de- 
livered " Michal to me." This condition was imposed by David, 
not only because Michal had been unjustly taken away from 
him by Saul, after he had rightfully acquired her for his wife 
by paying the dowry demanded, and in spite of her love to him 
(1 Sam. xviii. 27, xix. 11, 12), and given to another man (1 Sam. 
XXV. 44), so that he could demand her back again with perfect 

CHAP. III. 12-21. 303 

justice, and Ishboshetli could not refuse to give her up to him, 
but probably on political grounds also, namely, because the 
renewal of his marriage to the king's daughter would show to 
all Israel that he cherished no hatred in his heart towards the 
fallen king. — Ver. 14. Thereupon, namely when Abner had 
assented to this condition, David sent messengers to Ishbosheth 
with this demand : " Give (me) my wife Michal, whom I espoused 
to me for a hundred foreskins of the Philistines^^ (see 1 Sam. xviii. 
25, 27). David sent to Ishbosheth to demand the restoration of 
Michal, that her return might take place in a duly legal form, 
" that it might be apparent that he had dealt justly with Paltiel 
in the presence of his king, and that he had received his wife 
back again, and had not taken her by force from her husband" 
(Seb. Schmidt). — Ver. 15. Ishbosheth probably sent Abner to 
Gallim (1 Sam. xxv. 44) to fetch Michal from her husband 
Paltiel (see at 1 Sam. xxv. 44), and take her back to David. 
The husband was obliged to consent to this separation. — Ver. 
16. When he went with his wife, weeping behind her, to 
Bahurim, Abner commanded him to turn back ; " and he re- 
tumed.^^ Bahurim, Shimei's home (ch. xix. 17 ; 1 Kings ii. 8), 
was situated, according to ch. xvi. 1, 5, and xvii. 18, upon the 
road from Jerusalem to Gilgal, in the valley of the Jordan, not 
far from the Mount of Olives, and is supposed by v. Schubert 
(R. iii. p. 70) to have stood upon the site of the present Abu 
Dis, though in all probability it is to be sought for farther north 
(see Rob. Fal. ii. p. 103). Paltiel had therefore followed his 
wife to the border of the tribe of Judah, or of the kingdom of 
David. — Vers. 17, 18. But before Abner set out to go to David, 
he had spoken to the elders of Israel (the tribes generally, with 
the exception of Benjamin (see ver. 19) and Judah): "Both yester- 
day and the day before yesterday (i.e. a long time ago), ye desired 
to have David as hing over you. Now carry out your wish : for 
Jehovah hath spoken concerning David, Through my servant David 
will I save my people Israel out of the poioer of the Philistines 
and all their enemies." y^t^in is an evident mistake in writing 
for VT^'*) which is found in many MSS., and rendered in all the 
ancient versions. — Ver. 1 9. Abner had spoken in the same way 
in the ears of Benjamin. He spoke to the Benjaminites more 
especially, because the existing royal family belonged to that 
tribe, and they had reaped many advantages in conse(]^uence 


(vid. 1 Sam. xxll. 7). The verb ^l^ in the circumstantial 
clause (ver. 17), and the verb 13T1 in ver. 19, which serves as a 
continuation of the circumstantial clause, must be translated as 
pluperfects, since Abner's interview with the elders of Israel 
and with Benjamin preceded his interview with David at 
Hebron. We may see from Abner's address to the elders, that 
even among the northern tribes the popular voice had long 
since decided for David. In 1 Chron. xii. we have historical 
proofs of this. The word of Jehovah concerning David, which 
is mentioned in ver. 18, is not met with anywhere in this precise 
form in the history of David as it has come down to us. Abner 
therefore had either some expression used by one of the prophets 
(Samuel or Gad) in his mind, which he described as the word 
of Jehovah, or else he regarded the anointing of David by 
Samuel in accordance with the command of the Lord, and the 
marvellous success of all that David attempted against the ene- 
mies of Israel, as a practical declaration on the part of God, that 
David, as the appointed successor of Saul, would perform what 
the Lord had spoken to Samuel concerning Saul (1 Sam. ix. 16), 
but what Saul had not fulfilled on account of his rebellion 
asainst the commandments of the Lord. — Ver. Idb. When Abner 
had gained over the elders of Israel and Benjamin to recognise 
David as king, he went to Hebron to speak in the ears of David 
" all that had pleased Israel and the ivhole house of Benjamin" i.e. 
to make known to him their determination to acknowledge him 
as king. There Avent with him twenty men as representatives 
of all Israel, to confirm Abner's statements by their presence ; 
and David prepared a meal for them all. — Ver. 21. After the 
meal, Abner said to David, " I will rise and go and gather together 
all Israel to my lord the king, that they may make a covenant ivith 
thee (i.e. do homage to thee before God as king), and thou mayest 
become king over all that thy soul desireth,'^ i.e. over all the nation 
of God ; whereupon David took leave of him, and Abner went 
away in peace. The expression " in peace" serves to prepare 
the way for what follows. It is not stated, however, that David 
sent him away in peace (without avenging himself upon him), 
but that " David sent him away, and he went in peace." Apart 
altogether from the mildness of David's own character, he had 
no reason whatever for treating Abner as an enemy, now that 
he had given up all opposition to his reigning, and had brought 

CHAP. III. 2-2-30. 305 

all the Israelites over to him. What Abner had done for 
Islibosheth, including his fighting against David, was indeed a 
sinful act of resistance to the will of Jehovah, which was not 
unknown to him, and according to which Samuel had both 
called and anointed David king over the nation ; but for all 
that, it was not an ordinary act of rebellion against the person 
of David and his rightful claim to the throne, because Jehovah 
had not yet caused David to be set before the nation as its king 
by Samuel or any other prophet, and David had not yet asserted 
the right to reign over all Israel, which had been secured to him 
by the Lord and guaranteed by his anointing, as one which the 
nation was bound to recognise ; but, like a true servant of God, 
he waited patiently till the Lord should give him the dominion 
over all His people. 

Vers. 22-30. Ahner assassinated by Joah. — Ver. 22. After 
Abner s departure, the servants of David returned with much 
booty from a marauding expedition, and Joab at their head. 
The singular N3 may be explained from the fact that Joab was 
the principal person in the estimation of the writer, insno^ 
lit. from the marauding host, i.e. from the work of a marauding 
host, or from a raid, which they had been making upon one of 
the tribes bordering upon Judah. — ^Ver. 23. When Joab learned 
{lit. they told him) that Abner had been with David, and he had 
sent him away again, he went to David to reproach him for 
having done so. " What hast thou done ? Behold, Ahner came to 
thee ; ivhy then hast thou sent him away, and he is gone quite awayV^ 
i.e. so that he could go away again without being detained (for 
this meaning of the inf. ahs., see Ewald, § 280, h). " Thou 
knowest (or more correctly as a question. Dost thou know?) Ahner, 
the son of Ner, that he came to persuade thee {i.e. to make thee 
certain of his intentions), and to learn thy going out and in {i.e. 
all thine undertakings), and to learn all that thou wilt do " {i.e. 
all thy plans). Joab hoped in this way to prejudice David 
against Abner, to make him suspected as a traitor, that he might 
then be able to gratify his own private revenge with perfect 
impunity. — Ver. 26. For Abner had only just gone away from 
David, when Joab sent messengers after him, no doubt in 
David's name, though without his knowledge, and had him 
fetched back " from Bor-hasirah, i.e. the cistern of SirahJ' 
Sirah is a place which is quite unknown to us. According to 



Josephus (Ant. vli. 1, 5), it was twenty stadia from Hebron, and 
called B7;cripa. — Ver. 27. When he came back, Joab "took him 
aside into the middle of the gate, to talk with him in the stillness" 
i e. in private, and there thrust him through the body, so that 
he died "for the blood of Asahel his brother,^' i.e. for having put 
Asahel to death (ch. ii. 23).— Vers. 28, 29. When David heard 
this, he said, "I and my kingdom, are innocent before Jehovah for 
ever of the blood of Abner. Let it turn (hn, to twist one's self, 
to turn or fall, irruit) upon the head of Joab and all his father s 
house (or so-called family) ! Never shall there be wanting 
(nns) 7N, let there not be cut off, so that there shall not be, as 
in Josh. ix. 23) in the house of Joab one that hath an issue (yid. 
Lev. XV. 2), and a leper, and one ivho leans upon a stick (i.e. a 
lame person or cripple ; ^^3, according to the LXX. aKvraKr], 
a thick round staff), and xvho falls by the sword, and who is 
in want of bread." The meaning is : May God avenge the 
murder of Abner upon Joab and his family, by punishing them 
continually with terrible diseases, violent death, and poverty. 
To make the reason for this fearful curse perfectly clear, the 
historian observes in ver. 30, that Joab and his brother Abishai 
had murdered Abner, " because he had slain their brother Asahel 
at Gibeon in the battle" (ch. ii. 23). This act of Joab, in 
which Abishai must have been in some way concerned, was a 
treacherous act of assassination, which could not even be de- 
fended as blood-revenge, since Abner had slain Asahel in battle 
after repeated warnings, and only for the purpose of saving 
his own life. The principal motive for Joab's act was the 
most contemptible jealousy, or the fear lest Abner's reconcilia- 
tion to David should diminish his own influence with the king, 
as was the case again at a later period with the murder of Amasa 
(ch. XX. 10). 

Vers. 31-39. DavidJs mourning for Abiier's death. — Vers. 
31, 32. To give a public proof of his grief at this murder, 
and his displeasure at the crime in the sight of all the nation, 
David commanded Joab, and all the people with him (David), 
i.e. all his courtiers, and the warriors who returned with Joab, 
to institute a public mourning for the deceased, by tearing their 
clothes, putting on sackcloth, i.e. coarse hairy mourning and 
penitential clothes, and by a funeral dirge for Abner ; i.e. he 
commanded them to walk in front of Abner's bier mourning 

CHAP. III. 31-39. 307 

and in funeral costume, and to accompany the deceased to his 
resting-place, whilst David as king followed the bier. — Ver. 32. 
Thus they buried Abner at Hebron ; and David wept aloud at 
his grave, and all the people with him. — Vers. 33, 34. Although 
the appointment of such a funeral by David, and his tears at 
Abner's grave, could not fail to divest the minds of his oppo- 
nents of all suspicion that Joab had committed the murder with 
his cognizance (see at ver. 37), he gave a still stronger proof of 
his innocence, and of the sincerity of his grief, by the ode which 
he composed for Abner's death : 

Ver. 33. Like an ungodly mau must Abner die ! 

34. Thy hands were not bound, and thy feet were not placed in 

As one falls before sinners, so hast thou fallen ! 

The first strophe (ver. 33) is an expression of painful lamen- 
tation at the fact that Abner had died a death which he did 
not deserve. " The fooV (jiabal) is " the ungodly," according 
to Israelitish ideas (vid. Ps. xiv. 1). The meaning of ver. 34 
is : Thou hadst not made thyself guilty of any crime, so as to 
have to die like a malefactor, in chains and bonds ; but thou 
hast been treacherously murdered. This dirge made such an 
impression upon all the people (present), that they wept still 
more for the dead. — ^Ver. 35. But David mourned so bitterly, 
that when all the people called upon him to take some food 
during the day, he declared with an oath that he would not 
taste bread or anything else before the setting of the sun. 
^öc '^^"•^L? does not mean, as in ch. xiii. 5, to give to eat, on 
account of the expression " all the people,^' as it can hardly 
be imagined that all the people, i.e. all who were present, could 
have come to bring David food, but it signifies to make him 
eat, i.e. call upon him to eat ; whilst it is left uncertain whether 
David was to eat with the people (cf. ch. xii. 17), i.e. to take 
part in the funeral meal that was held after the burial, or 
whether the people simply urged him to take some food, for the 
purpose of soothing his own sorrow. Dt< "'S are to be taken 
separately ; "'S, otc, introducing the oath, and D^^ being the 
particle used in an oath : " z/," i.e. assuredly not. — Ver. 36. 
" Aiid all the people perceived it (i.e. his trouble), and it pleased 
them, as everything that the king did pleased all the people." — 
Ver. 37. All the people {sc. who were with the king) and all 


Israel discerned on that day (from David's deep and heartfelt 
trouble), that the death of Abner had not happened (proceeded) 
from the king, as many may probably at first have supposed, 
since Joab had no doubt fetched Abner back in David's name. 
— Vers. 38, 39. Finally, David said to his (confidential) ser- 
vants : " Know ye not {i.e. ye surely perceive) that a prince and 
great man has this day fallen in Israel?" This sentence shows 
how thoroughly David could recognise the virtues possessed by 
his opponents, and how very far he was from looking upon 
Abner as a traitor, because of his falling away from Ishbosheth 
and coming over to him, that on the contrary he hoped to find 
in him an able general and a faithful servant. He would at 
once have punished the murderer of such a man, if he had 
only possessed the power. " But" he adds, " / am this day 
(still) weak, and only anointed king ; and these men, the sons of 
Zeruiah, are too strong for me. The Lord reward the doer of 
evil according to his wickedness." The expression " to-day" 
not only applies to the word " weak" or tender, but also to 
*' anointed" {to-day, i.e. only just anointed). As David was still 
but a young sovereign, and felt himself unable to punish a man 
like Joab according to his deserts, he was obliged to restrict 
himself at first to the utterance of a curse upon the deed (ver. 
29), and to leave the retribution to God. He could not and 
durst not forgive ; and consequently, before he died, he charged 
Solomon, his son and successor, to punish Joab for the murder 
of Abner and Amasa (1 Kings ii. 5). 


Vers. 1-6. Murder of Ishbosheth. — Ver. 1. When the son 
of Saul heard of the death of Abner, " his hands slackened," 
i.e. he lost the power and courage to act as king, since Abner 
had been the only support of his throne. " And all Israel was 
confounded;" i.e. not merely alarmed on account of Abner's 
death, but utterly at a loss what to do to escape the vengeance 
of David, to which Abner had apparently fallen a victim. — 
Vers. 2, 3. Saul's son had two leaders of military companies 
(for ''^i^^"!? Vn we must read '^ |3? 1''n) : the one was named 
Baanah, the other Rechab, sons of Eimmon the Beerothite, " of 

i CHAP. IV. 1-C. 309 


the sons of Benjamin,''^ i.e. belonging to them ; "for Beeroth is 
also reckoned to Benjamin^' (^V, over, above, added to). Beeroth, 
the present Bireh (see at Josh. ix. 17), was close to the western 
frontier of the tribe of Benjamin, to which it is also reckoned 
as belonging in Josh, xviii. 25. This remark concerning 
Beeroth in the verse before us, serves to confirm the statement 
that the Beerothites mentioned were Benjaminites ; but that 
statement also shows the horrible character of the crime attri- 
buted to them in the following vei'ses. Two men of the tribe 
of Benjamin murdered the son of Saul, the king belonging to 
their own tribe. — Ver. 3. " The Beerothites fled to Gittaim, and 
were strangers there unto this dayT Gittaim is mentioned again 
in Nell. xi. 33, among the places in which Benjaminites were 
dwelling after the captivity, though it by no means follows 
from this that the place belonged to the tribe of Benjamin 
before the captivity. It rnay have been situated outside the 
territory of that tribe. It is never mentioned again, and has 
not yet been discovered. The reason why the Beerothites fled 
to Gittaim, and remained there as strangers until the time when 
this history was written, is also unknown ; it may perhaps have 
been that the Philistines had conquered Gittaim. — Ver. 4. 
Before the historian proceeds to describe what the two Beeroth- 
ites did, he inserts a remark concerning Saul's family, to show 
at the outset, that with the death of Ishbosheth the government 
of this family necessarily became extinct, as the only remaining 
descendant was a perfectly helpless cripple. He was a son of 
Jonathan, smitten (i.e. lamed) in his feet. He was five years 
old^vhen the tidings came from Jezreel of Saul and Jonathan, 
i.e. of their death. His nurse immediately took him and fled, 
and on their hasty flight he fell and became lame. His name 
was Mephihosheth (according to Simonis, for rit'2 Hi^SD^ destroy- 
ing the idol) ; but in 1 Chron. viii. 34 and ix. 40 he is called 
Merihbaal (Baal's fighter), just as Ishbosheth is also called 
Eshhaal (see at ch. ii. 8). On his future history, see ch. ix., 
xvi. 1 sqq., and xix. 25 sqq. — Ver. 5. The two sons of Rimmou 
went to Mahanaim, where Ishbosheth resided (ch. ii. 8, 12), 
and came in the heat of the day (at noon) into Ishbosheth's 
house, when he was taking his mid-day rest. — Ver. 6. " And 
here they had come into the midst of the house, fetching wheat (i.e. 
under the pretext of fetching wheat, probably for the soldiers in 


their companies), and smote 1dm in the abdomen ; and Recliah and 
his brother escaped^ The first clause in this verse is a circum- 
stantial clause, which furnishes the explanation of the way in 
which it was possible for the murderers to find their way to the 
king. The second clause continues the narrative, and ina^l is 
attached to ^Nn»l. (ver. 5).^ 

Vers. 7-12. Punishment of the murderers by David. — Yer. 7. 
As the thread of the narrative was broken by the explanatory 
remarks in ver. 6, it is resumed here by the repetition of the 
words '13^ ^i^^'l : " They came into the house, as he lay upon his 
bed in his bed-chamber, and smote him, and slew him" for the 
purpose of attaching the account of the further progress of the 
affair, viz. that they cut off his head, took it and went by the 
way of the Arabah (the valley of the Jordan : see ch. ii. 29) 
the whole night, and brought the head of Ishbosheth unto 
David to Hebron with these words : " Behold (= there thou 
hast) the head of Ishbosheth, the son of Saul thine enemy, 

1 The LXX. thought it desirable to explain the possibility of Eechab 
and Baanah getting into the king's house, and therefore paraphrased the 
sixth Terse as follows : x«i thov it övpupci tov o'i'mv iKctdocipi -x-vpov; Kotl 
ivvarct^i jcccl ix.a,6ivhi, Koe.] 'Vnx,öiß x,ot] Bonnvoi 0/ u6s'h(poi iii7^ot,6ou (" and 
behold the doorkeeper of the house was cleaning wheat, and nodded and 
ßlept. And Rahab and Baana the brothers escaped, or went in secretly "). 
The first part of this paraphrase has been retained in the Vulgate, in the 
interpolation between vers. 5 and 6 : et ostiaria domus jmrgans triticum ob- 
dormivit ; whether it was copied by Jerome from the Itala, or was after- 
wards introduced as a gloss into his translation. It is very evident that 
this clause in the Vulgate is only a gloss, from the fact that, in all the rest 
of ver. 6, Jerome has closely followed the Masoretic text, and that none of 
the other ancient translators found anything about a doorkeeper in his 
text. When Thenius, therefore, attempts to prove the " evident corrup- 
tion of the Masoretic text," by appealing to the " nonsense (Unsinn) of 
relating the murder of Ishbosheth and the flight of the murderers twice 
over, and in two successive verses (see ver. 7)," he is altogether wrong in 
speaking of the repetition as " nonsense " whereas it is simply tautology, 
and has measured the peculiarities of Hebrew historians by the standard 
adopted by our own. J. P. F. Königsfeldt has given the true explanation 
when he says : " The Hebrews often repeat in this way, for the purpose of 
adding something fresh, as for example, in this instance, their carrying off 
the head." Comp, with this ch. iii. 22, 23, where the arrival of Joab ia 
mentioned twice, viz. in two successive verses ; or ch. v. 1-3, where the 
assembling of the tribes of Israel at Hebron is also referred to a second 
time, — a repetition at which Thenius himself has taken no offence, — and 
many other passages of the same kind. 

CHAP. IV. 7-12. 311 

who sought thy life ; and thus hath Jehovah avenged niy lord 
the king this day upon Saul and his seed." No motive is 
assigned for this action. But there can be little doubt that it 
was no other than the hope of obtaining a great reward from 
David. Thus they presumed " to spread the name of God and 
His providence as a cloak and covering over their villany, as 
the wicked are accustomed to do" (Berleb. Bible). — Vers. 9 sqq. 
But David rewarded them very differently from what they had 
expected. He replied, " Äs Jehovah liveth, who hath redeemed 
my soul out of all adversity, the man xoho told me, Behold, Saul 
is dead, aiid thought he loas a messenger of good to me, I seized 
and slew at Ziklag (vid. i. 14, 15), to give him a reward for his 
news : hoio much more lohen wicked men have murdered a right- 
eous man in his house upon his bed, shotdd I not require his blood 
at your hand, and destroy you from the earth ?" The several 
parts of this reply are not closely linked together so as to form 
one period, but answer to the excited manner in which they 
were spoken. There is first of all the oath, "^5 truly as Jehovah 
liveth,''^ and the clause appended, " who redeemed my soul," in 
which the thought is implied that David did not feel it neces- 
sary to get rid of his enemies by the commission of crimes. 
After this (ver. 10) we have an allusion to his treatment of the 
messenger who announced Saul's death to him, and pretended 
to have slain him in order that he might obtain a good reward 
for his tidings. "'S, like ori,, simply introduces the address. 
Vyya . . . T'il?3n is placed at the head absolutely, and made sub- 
ordinate to the verb by \2 after nTHNJ. i?""'riri7, " namely, to give 
him." IK'S is employed to introduce the explanation, like our 
"namely" (vid. Ewald, § 338, b). niK'3, good news, here "the 
reward of news." The main point follows in ver. 11, beginning 
with "'S ^^, "how much more^' {vid. Ewald, § 354, c), and is 
introduced in the form of a climax. The words iSSK'p . . . D''K'3S 
are also written absolutely, and placed at the head : " men have 
slain," for " how much more in this instance, when wicked men 
have slain." " Righteous" (zaddik), i.e. not guilty of any wicked 
deed or crime. The assumption of the regal power, which Abner 
had forced upon Ishbosheth, was not a capital crime in the 
existing state of things, and after the death of Saul ; and even 
if it had been, the sons of Rimmon had no right to assassinate 
him. David's sentence then follows : " And now that this ia 


the fact^ that ye have murdered a righteous man, should I not,'* 
etc. lys, to destroy by capital punishment, as in Deut. xiii. 6, 
etc. D"=i 5i'i?3 (= D'^ ^Tl, Gen. ix. 5), to require the blood of a 
person, i.e. to take blood-revenge. — Ver. 12. David then com- 
manded his servant to slay the murderers, and also to make the 
punishment more severe than usual. " They cut off their hands 
and feet^'' — the hands with which they had committed the 
murder, and the feet which had run for the reward, — " and 
hanged the bodies hy the pool at Hebron''' for a spectacle and 
warning, that others might be deterred from committing similar 
crimes (cf. Deut. xxi. 22 ; J. H. Michaelis). In illustration of 
the fact itself, we may compare the similar course pursued by 
Alexander towards the murderer of king Darius, as described 
in Justin's history (xii. 6) and Curtius (vii. 5). They buried 
Ishbosheth's head in Abner's grave at Hebron. Thus David 
acted with strict justice in this case also, not only to prove to 
the people that he had neither commanded nor approved of the 
murder, but from heartfelt abhorrence of such crimes, and to 
keep his conscience void of offence towards God and towards 


Chap, v.-ix. 

After the death of Ishbosheth, David was anointed in Hebron 
by all the tribes as king over the whole of Israel (ch. v. 1-5). 
He then proceeded to attack the Jebusites in Jerusalem, con- 
quered their fortress Zion, and made Jerusalem the capital of 
his kingdom ; fortifying it still further, and building a palace 
in it (ch. V. 6-16), after he had twice inflicted a defeat upon 
the Philistines (ch. v. 17-25). But in order that the chief 
city of his kingdom and the seat of his own palace might also 
be made the religious centre of the whole nation as a congre- 
gation of Jehovah, he first of all brought the ark of the cove- 
nant out of its place of concealment, and had it conveyed in a 
festal procession to Zion, and deposited there in a tent which 
had been specially prepared for it, as a place of worship for 

CHAP. V. 1-5. 313 

the whole congregation (ch. vi.). He then resolved to erect 
for the Lord in Jerusalem a temple fitted for His name ; and 
the Lord gave him in return the promise of the eternal per- 
petuity of his throne (ch. vii.). To this there is appended a 
cursory account of David's wars with the neighbouring nations, 
by which not only his own sovereignty, but the Israelitish 
kino-dom of God, was raised into a commanding power among 
the nations and kingdoms of the world. Li connection with 
all this, David still maintained his affection and fidelity towards 
the fallen royal family of Saul, and showed compassion towards 
the last remaining descendant of that family (ch. ix.). 

This account of the unfolding of the power and glory of 
the kingdom of Israel, through the instrumentality of David 
and during his reign, is so far arranged chronologically, that 
all the events and all the enterprises of David mentioned in 
this section occurred in the first half of his reign over the whole 
of the covenant nation. The chronological arrangement, how- 
ever, is not strictly adhered to, so far as the details are con- 
cerned ; but the standpoint of material resemblance is so far 
connected with it, that all the greater wars of David are grouped 
together in ch. viii. (see the introduction to ch. viii.). It is 
obvious from this, that the plan which the historian adopted 
was (first of all to describe the internal improvement of the 
Israelitish kingdom of God by David, and then to proceed 
to the external development of his power in conflict with the 
opposing nations of the world, j 


Vers. 1-5. David anointed King over all Israel. — 
Vers. 1-3 (compare with this the parallel passages in 1 Chron. 
xi. 1-3). (After the death of Ishbosheth, all the tribes of Israel 
(except J^dah) came to Hebron in the persons of their repre- 
sentatives the elders (vid. ver. 3), in response to the smnmons 
of Abner (ch. iii. 17-19), to do homage to David as their king. 
They assigned three reasons for their coming : (1.) " Behold, we 
are thy hone and thy flesh^^ i.e.[thj blood-relations^ inasmuch as 
all the tribes of Israel were linea]( descendants of Jacob (yid. 


Gen. xxix. 14 ; Judg. ix. 2). (2.) " In time past, when Saul 
was king over us, thou wast the leader of Israel (thou leddest out 
and hroughtest in Israel)" i.e.luion didst superintend the affairs 
of Israel (see at Num. xxvii. 17 ; and for the fact itself, 1 Sam. 
xviii. 5). X''^0 nn''^n is an error in -writing for N^V^ßn jvy^^ and 
"•30 for i^''^^, with the N dropped, as in 1 Kings xxi. 21, etc. 
(vid. Olshausen, Gr. p. 6S). (3.) They ended by asserting that 
(Jehovah had called him jto be the shepherd and prince over 
His people. The remarks which we have already made at ch. 
iii. 18 respecting Abner's appeal to a similar utterance on the 
part of Jehovah, are equally applicable to thB words of Jehovah 
to David which are quoted here : " Thou shalt feed my people 
Israel," etc. On the Pisha, see the note to Josh. iv. 1. — Ver. 3. 
^^ All the elders of Israel came" is a repetition of ver. la, except 
that the expression " all the tribes of Israel " is more distinctly 
defined as meaning " all the elders of Israel." " So all the 
elders came ; • . . and king David made a covenant with them, in 
Hebron before the Lord (see at ch. iii. 21) : and they anointed 
David king over (all) Israeli The writer of the Chronicles 
adds, 'f according to the word of the Lord through Samuel," 
i.e. so that the command of the Lord to Samuel, to anoint 
David king over Israelii Sam. xvi. 1, 12), foimd its complete 
fulfilment in this. — Vers. 4, 5. The age of David when he 
began to reign is given here, viz. thirty years old ; also the 
length of his reign, viz. seven years and a half at Hebron over 
Judah, and thirty-three years at Jerusalem over Israel and 
Judah. In the books of Chronicles these statements occur at 
the close of David's reign (1 Chron. xxix. 27). 

Vers. 6-10. Conquest of the Steonghold of Zion, 
AND Choice of Jeeusalem as the Capital of the 
Kingdom (cf. 1 Chron. xi. 4, 9). — These parallel accounts 
agree in all the main points ; but they are both of them 
merely brief extracts from a more elaborate history, so that 
certain things, which appeared of comparatively less import- 
ance, are passed over either in the one or the other, and 
the full account is obtained by combining the two. ( The con- 
quest of the citadel Zion took place immediately afler the 
anointing of David as king over all the tribes of Israel.) This 
is apparent, not only from the fact that the account follows 

CHAP. V. 6-10. 315 

directly afterwards, but also from the circumstance that, ac- 
cording to ver. 5, David reigned in Jerusalem just as many 
years as he was king over all Israel. — Ver. 6. The king went 
with his men (i.e. his fighting men : the Chronicles have " all 
Israel," i.e. the fighting men of Israel) to Jerusalem to the 
Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, i.e. the natives or 
I Canaanites) " and they said (the singular "lOX"! is used because 
^W3\T is a singular form) to David, Thou xcilt not come hither 
(i.e. come in), but the blind and lame will drive thee away : to 
say (i.e. by which they meant to say), David icill not come in." 
^T9ll is not used for the infinitive, but has been rightly under- 
stood by the LXX., Aben Ezra, and others, as a perfect. The 
perfect expresses a thing accomplished, and open to no dispute ; 
and the use of the singular in the place of the plural, as in Isa. 
xiv. 32, is to be explained from the fact that the verb precedes, 
and is only define^ precisely by the subject which follows (vid. 
Ewald, § 319, a). (The Jebusites relied upon the unusual natural 
advantages of their citadel, which stood upon Mount Zion, a 
mountain shut in by deep valleys on three different sides ; so 
that in their haughty self-security they imagined that they did 
not even need to employ healthy and powerful warriors to re- 
sist the attack made by David, but that the blind and lame 
would suffice.j— Ver. 7. However, David took the citadel Zion, 
i.e. " the city of David." This explanatory remark anticipates 
the course of events, as David did not give this name to the 
conquered citadel, until he had chosen it as his residence and 
capital (yid. ver. 9). li'V {Sion), from n^V^ to be dry : the dry 
or arid mountain or hill. This was the name of the southern 
and loftiest mountain of Jerusalem. Upon this stood the 
fortress or citadel of the town, which had hitherto remained in 
the possession of the Jebusites ; whereas the northern portion 
of the city of Jerusalem, which was upon lower ground, had 
been conquered by the Judseans and Benjaminites very shortly 
after the death of Joshua (see at Judg. i. 8). — In ver. 8 we 
have one circumstance mentioned which occurred in connection 
with this conquest. On that day, i.e. when he had advanced 
to the attack of the citadel Zion, David said, " Every one who 
smites the Jebusites, let him hurl into the waterfall (i.e. down 
the precipice) both the lame and blind, who are hateful to 
David's soul." This is most probably the proper interpretation 


of these obscure words of David, which have been very diffe- 
rently explained. i^Taking up the words of the Jebusites, David 
called all the defenders of the citadel of Zion " lame and 
blind," and ordered them to be cast down the precipice without 
quarter. > "ii3V signifies a waterfall (catarracta) in Ps. xlii. 8, the 
only other passage in which it occurs, probably from "i^Vj to 
roar. This meaning may also be preserved here, if we assume 
that at the foot of the steep precipice of Zion there was a 
waterfall probably connected with the water of Siloah. It is 
true we cannot determine anything with certainty concerning 
it, as, notwithstanding the many recent researches in Jerusalem, 
the situation of the Jebusite fortress and the character of the 
mountain of Zion in ancient times are quite unknown to us. 
This explanation of the word zinnor is simpler than Ewald' s 
assumption that the word signifies the steep side of a rock, 
which merely rests upon the fact that the Greek word KaTap- 
pd/CT'T}'; originally signified a plunge.^ W1 should be pointed 
as a Hipliil i?2^"!. The Masoretic pointing yiM arises from their 
mistaken interpretation of the whole sentence. The Chethibh 
1KJ5J> might be the third pers. per/., "who hate David's soul;" 
only in that case the omission of "^^^ would be surprising, and 
consequently the Keri ''^^^ is to be preferred. " From this," 
adds the writer, " the proverb arose, ' The blind and lame shall 
not enter the house;'" in which proverb the epithet "blind and 
lame," which David applied to the Jebusites who were hated 
by him, has the general signification of "repulsive persons," 
with whom one does not wish to have anything to do. In the 
Chronicles not only is the whole of ver. 7 omitted, with the 
proverb to which the occurrence gave rise, but also the allusion 

^ The earliest translators have only resorted to guesses. The Seventy, 
with their »Trriadi) iv Trupx^iCpßt, have combined 113^ with nj^, which 
they render now and then fc»x<^ipct. or pofi<Pccicc. This is also done by 
the Syriac and Arabic. The Chaldee paraphrases in this manner : " who 
begins to subjugate the citadel." Jerome, who probably followed the 
Rabbins, has et tetigisset domatum fistulas (and touched the water-pipes) ; 
and Luther, ^^ und erlanget die Dachrinnen^^ (like the English version, 
" whosoever getteth up to the gutter : " Tr.). Hitzig's notion, that zinnor 
signifies ear (" whosoever boxes the ears of the blind and lame ") needs 
no refutation ; nor does that of Fr. Böttcher, who proposes to follow 
the Alexandrian rendering, and refer zinnor to a " sword of honour or 
marshal's staff," which David promised to the victor. 

CHAP. V. 6-10. 317 

to the blind and lame in the words spoken by the Jebusites 
(ver. 6) ; and, another word of David's is substituted instead, 
namely, that iDavid would make the man who first smote the 
Jebusites, i.e. who stornied their citadel, head and chief ;^ and 
also the statement that Joab obtained the prize.j The historical 
credibility of the statement cannot be disputed, as Thenius 
assumes, on the ground that Joab had already been chief {sar) 
for a long time, according to ch. ii. 13 : for the passage re- 
ferred to says nothing of the kind ; and there is a very great 
difference between the commander of an army in the time of 
war, and a " head and chief," i.e. a commander-in-chief. The 
statement in ver. 8 with regard to Joab's part, the fortifica- 
tion of Jerusalem, shows very clearly that the author of the 
Chronicles had other and more elaborate sources in his posses- 
sion, which contained fuller accounts than the author of our 
books has communicated. — Ver. 9. ^^ David dwelt in the fort^'' 
i.e. he selected the fort or citadel as his palace, ^^ and called it 
David's city^ David may have been induced to select the 
citadel of Zion as his palace, and by so doing to make Jerusalem 
the capital of the whole kingdom, partly by the natural strength 
of Zion, and partly by the situation of Jerusalem, viz. on the 
border of the tribes of Benjamin and Judah, and tolerably near 
to the centre of the land.) " And David built, i.e. fortified (the 
city of Zion), round about from Millo and inwards.^' In the 
Chronicles we have 2''?'?'}""'V"!j " and to the environs or sur- 
roundings," i.e. to the encircling wall which was opposite to the 
Millo. , The fortification "inwards" must have consisted in 
the enclosure of Mount Zion with a strong wall upon the north 
side, where Jerusalem joined it as a lower town, so as to de- 
fend the palace against hostile attacks on the north or town 
side, which had hitherto been left without fortifications. The 
" Millo" was at any rate some kind of fortification, probably a 
large tower or castle at one particular part of the surrounding 
wall (comp. Judg. ix. 6 with vers. 46 and 49, where Millo is 
used interchangeably with Migdal). The name (" the filling") 
])robably originated in the fact that through this tov^er or castle 
the fortification of the city, or the surrounding wall, was filled 
or completed. The definite article before Millo indicates that 

^ This is also inserted in the passage before us by the translators of the 
English version : " he shall be chief and captain." — Te. 


it was a well-known fortress, probably one that had been 
erected by the Jebusites. With regard to the situation of Millo, 
we may infer from this passage, and 1 Chron. xi. 8, that the 
tower in question stood at one corner of the wall, either on 
the north-east or north-west, " where the hill of Zion has the 
least elevation and therefore needed the greatest strengthening 
from without" (Thenius on 1 Kings ix. 15). This is fully sus- 
tained both by 1 Kings xi. 27, where Solomon is said to have 
closed the breach of the city of David by building (fortifying) 
Millo, and by 2 Chron. xxxii. 5, where Hezekiah is said to 
have built up all the wall of Jerusalem, and made Millo strong, 
i.e. to have fortified it still further {vid. 1 Kings ix. 15 and 24). 
— Ver. 10. And David increased in greatness, i.e. in power 
and fame, for Jehovah the God of hosts was with him. 

Vers. 11-16. — David's Palace, Wives and Children 
(comp. 1 Chron. xiv. 1-7). — King Hiram of Tyre sent mes- 
sengers to David, and afterwards, by the express desire of the 
latter, cedar-wood and builders, carpenters and stone-masons, 
who built him a house, i.e. a palace. Hiram (Hirom in 1 Kings 
V. 32 ; Huram in the Chronicles ; LXX. Xeipd/j, ; Josephus, 
Ecpa/jbo<i and Etpco/xo<i'), king of Tyre, was not only an ally 
of David, but of his son Solomon also. He sent to the latter 
cedar-wood and builders for the erection of the temple and of 
his own palace (1 Kings v. 21 sqq. ; 2 Chron. ii. 2 sqq.), and 
fitted out a mercantile fleet in conjunction with him (1 Kings 
ix. 27, 28 ; 2 Chron. ix. 10) ; in return for which, Solomon not 
only sent him an annual supply of corn, oil, and wine (1 Kings 
v. 24 ; 2 Chron. ii. 9), but when all the buildings were finished, 
twenty years after the erection of the temple, he made over to 
him twenty of the towns of Galilee (1 Kings ix. 10 sqq.). It 
is evident from these facts that Hiram was still reisnins in the 
twenty-fourth, or at any rate the twentieth, year of Solomon's 
reign, and consequently, as he had assisted David with contri- 
butions of wood for the erection of his palace, that he must 
have reigned at least forty-five or fifty years; and therefore that, 
even in the latter case, he cannot have begun to reign earlier 
than the eighth year of David's reign over all Israel, or from 
six to ten years after the conquest of the Jebusite citadel upon 
Mount Zion. This is quite in harmony with the account given 

CHAP. V, 11-16. 319 

here ; for it by no means follows, that because the arrival of an 
embassy from Hiram, and the erection of David's palace, are 
mentioned immediately after the conquest of the citadel of Zion, 
they must have occurred directly afterwards. The arrange- 
ment of the different events in the chapter before us is topical 
rather than strictly chronological. Of the two battles fought 
by David with the Philistines (vers. 17-25), the first at any 
rate took place before the erection of David's palace, as it is 
distinctly stated in ver. 17 that the Philistines made war upon 
David when they heard that he had been anointed king over 
Israel, and therefore in all probability even before the conquest 
of the fortress of the Jebusites, or at any rate immediately after- 
wards, and before David had commenced the fortification of 
Jerusalem and the erection of a palace. The historian, on the 
contrary, has not only followed up the account of the capture of 
the fortress of Zion, and the selection of it as David's palace, 
by a description of what David gradually did to fortify and 
adorn the new capital, but has also added a notice as to David's 
wives and the children that were born to him in Jerusalem. 
Now, if this be correct, the object of Hiram's embassy cannot 
have been "to congratulate David upon his ascent of the throne," 
as Thenius maintains ; but after he had ascended the throne, 
Hiram sent ambassadors to form an alliance with this powerful 
monarch ; and David availed himself of the opportunity to 
establish an intimate friendship with Hiram, and ask him for 
cedar-wood and builders for his palace.^ — Ver. 12. "And David 

^ The statements of Menander of Ephesus in Josephus (c. Ap. i. 18), 
that after the death of Ahibal his son Hirom {E'ipuf<,os) succeeded him in 
the government, and reigned thirty-four years, and died at the age of fifty- 
three, are at variance with the biblical history. For, according to these 
statements, as Hiram was still reigning "at the end of twenty years" 
(according to 1 Kings ix. 10, 11), when Solomon had built his palaces and 
the house of the Lord, i.e. twenty- four years after Solomon began to reign, 
he cannot have ascended the throne before the sixty-first year of David's 
life, and the thirty-first of his reign. But in that case the erection of 
David's palace would fall somewhere within the last eight years of his life. 
And to this we have to add the repeated statements made by Josephus (I.e. 
and Ant. viii. 3, 1), to the effect that Solomon commenced the building of 
the temple in Hiram's twelfth year, or after he had reigned eleven years ; so 
that Hiram could only have begun to reign seven years before the death of 
David (in the sixty-third year of his life), and the erection of the palace 
by David must have fallen later still, and his determination to build the 


perceived (sc. from the success of liis enterprises) that Jehovah 
had firmly estabhshed him king over Israel, and that He had 
exalted his kingdom for His people Israel's sake," i.e. because 

temple, which he did not form till he had taken possession of his hoiise of 
cedar, i.e. the newly erected palace (ch. vii. 2), would fall in the very last 
years of his life, but a very short time before his death. As this seems 
hardly credible, it has been assumed by some that Hiram's father, Abibal, 
also bore the name of Hiram, or that Hiram is confounded with Abibal in 
the account before us (Thenius), or that Abibal's father was named Hiram, 
and it was he who formed the alliance with David (Ewald, Gesch. iv. 287). 
But all these assumptions are overthrown by the fact that the identity of 
the Hiram who was Solomon's friend with the contemporary and friend of 
David is expressly affirmed not only in 2 Chron. ii. 2 (as Ewald supposes), 
but also in 1 Kings v. 15. For whilst Solomon writes to Hiram in 2 Chroii. 
ii. 3, " as thou didst deal with David my father, and didst send him cedars 
to build him an house to dwell therein," it is also stated 1 Kings v. 1 that 
" Hiram king of Tyre sent his servants unto Solomon ; for he had heard 
that they had anointed him king in the room of his father : for Hiram was 
a lover of David all days (all his life)." Movers {Phönizier ii. 1, p. 147 
sqq.) has therefore attempted to remove the discrepancy between the state- 
ments made in Josephus and the biblical account of Hiram's friendship with 
David and Solomon, by assuming that in the narrative contained in the 
books of Samuel we have a topical and not a chronological arrangement, 
and that according to this arrangement the conquest of Jerusalem by David 
is followed immediately by the building of the city and palace, and this 
again by the removal of the holy ark to Jerusalem, and lastly by David's 
resolution to build a temple, which really belonged to the close of his reign, 
and indeed, according to 2 Sam. vii. 2, to the period directly following the 
completion of the cedar palace. There is a certain amount of trath at the 
foundation of this, but it does not remove the discrepancy ; for even if 
David's resolution to build a temple did not fall within the earlier years of 
his reign at Jerusalem, as some have inferred from the position in which it 
stands in the account given in this book, it cannot be pushed forward to the 
very last years of his life and reign. This is decidedly precluded by the 
fact, that in the promise given to David by God, his son and successor upon 
the throne is spoken of in such terms as to necessitate the conclusion that 
he was not yet born. This difficulty cannot be removed by the solution 
suggested by Movers (p. 149), "that the historian necessarily adhered to 
the topical arrangement which he had adopted for this section, because he 
had not said anything yet about Solomon and his mother Bathsheba : " for 
the expression "which shall proceed out of thy bowels" (ch. vii. 12) is 
not the only one of the kind ; but in 1 Chron. xxii. 9, David says to his son 
Solomon, " The word of the Lord came to me, saying, A son shall be born 
to thee — Solomon — he shall build an house for my name ; " from which it 
is very obvious, that Solomon was not born at the time when David deter- 
mined to build the temple and received this promise from God in conse- 

CHAP. V. 11- IG. 321 

He had chosen Israel as His people, and had promised to make 
it great and glorious. 

To the building of David's palace, there is appended in 

quence of his intention. To this we have also to add 2 Sam. xi. 2, where 
David sees Bathsheba, who gave birth to Solomon a few years later, from 
the roof of his palace. Now, even though the palace is simply called " the 
king's house " in this passage, and not the " house of cedar," as in ch. vii. 
2, and therefore the house intended might possibly be the house in which 
David lived before the house of cedar was built, this is a very improbable 
supposition, and there cannot be much doubt that the " king's house " is 
the palace (ch. v. 11, vii. 1) which he had erected for himself. Lastly, 
not only is there not the slightest intimation in the whole of the account 
given in ch. vii. that David was an old man when he resolved to build the 
temple, but, on the contrary, the impression which it makes throughout is, 
that it was the culminating point of his reign, and that he was at an ago 
when he might hope not only to commence this magnificent building, but 
in all human probability to live to complete it. The only other solution 
left, is the assumption that there are errors in the chronological date of 
Josephus, and that Hiram lived longer than Menander affirms. The asser- 
tion that Solomon commenced the erection of the temple in the eleventh or 
twelfth year of Hiram's reign was not derived by Josephus from Phoenician 
sources ; for the fragments which he gives from the works of Menander and 
Dius in the Antiquities (viii. 5, 3) and c. Apion (i. 17, 18), contain nothing 
at all about the building of the temple {vid. Movers, p. 141), but he has 
made it as the result of certain chronological combinations of his own, just 
as in Ant. viii. 3, 1, he calculates the year of the buUding of the temple in 
relation both to the exodus and also to the departure of Abraham out of 
Haran, but miscalculates, inasmuch as he places it in the 592d year after 
the exodus instead of the 480th, and the 1020th year from Abraham's 
emigration to Canaan instead of the 1125th. And in the present instance 
his calculation of the exact position of the same event in relation to Hiram's 
reign may be just as erroneous. His statement concerning the length of 
Hiram's reign was no doubt taken from Menander ; but even in this the 
numbers may be faulty, since the statements respecting Balezorus and 
Myttonus in the very same extract from Menander, as to the length of the 
reigns of the succeeding kings of Tyre, can be proved to be erroneous, and 
have been corrected by Movers from Eusebius and Syncellus ; and, more- 
over, the seven years of Hiram's successor, Baleazar, do not tally with 
Eusebius and Syncellus, who both give seventeen years. Thus the proof 
which Movers adduces from the synchronism of the Tyrian chronology with 
the biblical, the Egyptian, and the Assyrian, to establish the correctness of 
Menander's statements concerning Hiram's reign, is rendered very uncertain, 
to say nothing of the fact that Movers has only succeeded in bringing out 
the synchronism with the biblical chronology by a very arbitrary and de- 
monstrably false calculation of the years that the kings of Judah and Israel 


vers. 13-15 the account of the increase of his house by the 
multiplication of his wives and concubines, and of the sons who 
were born to him at Jerusalem (as in 1 Chron. xiv. 3 sqq.). 
Taking many wives was indeed prohibited in the law of the 
king in Deut. xvii. 17 ; but as a large harem was considered 
from time immemorial as part of the court of an oriental 
monarch, David suffered himself to be seduced by that custom 
to disregard this prohibition, and suffered many a heartburn 
afterwards in consequence, not to mention his fearful fall in 
consequence of his passion for Bathsheba. The concubines are 
mentioned before the wives, probably because David had taken 
many of them to Jerusalem, and earlier than the wives. In 
the Chronicles the concubines are omitted, though not " inten- 
tionally," as they are mentioned in 1 Chron. iii. 9; but as being 
of no essential importance in relation to the list of sons which 
follows, because no difference was made between those born 
of concubines and those born of wives. " Out of Jerusalem," 
i.e. away from Jerusalem : not that the wives were all born 
in Jerusalem, as the words which follow, " after he was come 
from Hebron," clearly show. In the Chronicles, therefore, it 
is explained as meaning " in Jerusalem." The sons are men- 
tioned again both in 1 Chron. xiv. 5-7 and in the genealogy in 
1 Chron. iii. 5-8. Shammua is called Shimea in 1 Chron. iii. 
5, according to a different pronunciation. Shammua, Sliohab, 
Nathan, and Solomon were sons of Bathsheba according to 1 
Chron. iii. 5. — Ver. 15. Elishua is written incori'ectly in 1 
Chron. iii. 6 as JElishama, because Elishama follows afterwards. 
There are two names after Elishua in 1 Chron. iii. 6, 7, and 
xiv. 6, 7, viz. Eliphalet and Nogah, which have not crept into 
the text from oversight or from a wrong spelling of other 
names, because the number of the names is given as nine in 
1 Chron. iii. 8, and the two names must be included in order 
to bring out that number. And, on the other hand, it is not 
by the mistake of a copyist that they have been omitted from 
the text before us, but it has evidently been done deliberately 
on account of their having died in infancy, or at a very early 
age. This also furnishes a very simple explanation of the fact, 
that the name Eliphalet occurs again at the end of the list, 
namely, because a son who was born later received the name 
of his brother who had died young. Eliada, the last but one^ is 

CHAP. V. 17-25. 323 

called Beeliada in 1 Chron. xiv. 7, another form of the name, 
compounded with Baal instead of El. David had therefore 
nineteen sons, six of whom were born in Hebron (ch. iii. 2 
sqq.), and thirteen at Jerusalem. Daughters are not mentioned 
in the genealogical accounts, because as a rule only heiresses 
or women who acquired renown from special causes were in- 
cluded in them. There is a daughter named Thamar men- 
tioned afterwards in ch. xiii. 1. 

Vers. 17-25. David gains two Victories over the 
Philistines (compare 1 Chron. xiv. 8-17). — Both these 
victories belong in all probability to the interval between the 
anointing of David at Hebron over all Israel and the conquest 
of the citadel of Zion. .This is very evident, so far as the first 
is concerned, from the words, " When the Philistines heard 
that they had anointed David king over Israel" (ver. 17), not 
when David had conquered the citadel of Zion. Moreover, 
when the Philistines approached, David "went down to the 
hold," or mountain fortress, by which we cannot possibly 
understand the citadel upon Zion, on account of the expression 
"went down." If David had been living upon Zion at the 
time, he would hardly have left this fortification when the 
Philistines encamped in the valley of Rephaim on the west of 
Jerusalem, but would rather have attacked and routed the 
enemy from the citadel itself. The second victory followed 
very soon after the first, and must therefore be assigned to the 
same period. The Philistines evidently resolved, as soon as the 
tidings reached them of the union of all the tribes under the 
sovereignty of David, that they would at once resist the grow- 
ing power of Israel, and smite David before he had consolidated 
his government. — Ver. 17. " Tlie Philistines went up to seek 
David" i.e. to seek him out and smite him. The expression 
C'pJ^P presupposes that David had not yet taken up his abode 
upon Zion He had probably already left Hebron to make 
preparations for his attack upon the Jebusites. When he 
heard of the approach of the Philistines, he went down into 
the mountain fortress. "The hold" cannot be the citadel of 
Zion (as in vers. 7 and 9), because this was so high that they 
had to go up to it on every side ; and it is impossible to sustain 
the opinion advanced by Bertheau, that the verb T]) (to go 


down) is used for falling back into a fortification. '"I'JIVSn (tJig 
hold), with the definite article, is probably the mountain stroncr- 
hold in the desert of Judah, into which David withdrew for a 
long time to defend himself from Saul (yid. ch. xxiii. 14 and 
1 Chron. xii. 8). In ver. 18 the position of the Philistines is 
more minutely defined. The verse contains a circumstantial 
clause : " The Philistines had come and spread themselves out 
in the valley of Rephaim" a valley on the west of Jerusalem, 
and only separated fi'om the valley of Ben-hinnom by a nar- 
row ridge of land (see at Josh. xv. 8). Instead of '^^^\\ the 
Chronicles have I'^tJ'D^, they had invaded, which is perfectly 
equivalent so far as the sense is concerned. — Vers. 19, 20. 
David inquired of the Lord by the Urim whether he should go 
out against the foe, and whether God would give them into his 
hand;^ and when he had received an answer in the affirmative 
to both these questions, he went to Baal-perazim (lit. into Baal- 
perazim), and smote them there, and said (ver. 20), " Jehovah 
hath broken mine enemies before me like a water-breach," i,e. 
has smitten them before me, and broken their power as a flood 
breaks through and carries away whatever opposes it. From 
these words of David, the place where the battle was fought 
received the name of Baal-perazim, i.e. "possessor of breaches" 
(equivalent to Bruch-hausen or Brechendorf Breach-ham or 
Breah-thorpe). The only other passage in which the place is 
mentioned is Isa. xxviii. 21, where this event is alluded to, but 
it cannot have been far from the valley of Kephaim. — Ver. 21. 
The Philistines left their idols behind them there. They had 
probably brought them to the war, as the Israelites once did 
their ark, as an auxiliary force. " And David took them away." 
The Chronicles have " their gods " instead of " their idols," and 
"they were burned with fire" instead of ^^^], "he took them 

^ Through the express statement that David inquired of Jehovah (viz. 
by the Urim) in both these conflicts with the Philistines (vers. 19 and 
23), Diestel's assertion, that after the death of Saul we do not read any 
more about the use of the holy lot, is completely overthrown, as well aa 
the conclusion which he draws from it, namely, that " David probably 
employed it for the purpose of giving a certain definiteness to his com- 
mand over his followers, over whom he had naturally but little authority 
(1 Sam. xxii. 2?), rather than because he looked upon it himself with any 
peculiar reverence." 

CHAP. V. 17-25. 325 

away,"^ took them as booty. The reading in the Chronicles 
gives the true explanation of the fact, as David would certainly 
dispose of the idols in the manner prescribed in the law (Deut. 
vii. 5, 25). The same reading was also most probably to be 
found in the sources employed by our author, who omitted it 
merely as being self-evident. In this way David fully avenged 
the disgrace brought upon Israel by the Philistines, when they 
carried away the ark in the time of Eli. — Vers. 22-25. Al- 
though thoroughly beaten, the Philistines soon appeared again 
to repair the defeat which they had suffered. As David had 
not followed up the victory, possibly because he was not suffi- 
ciently prepared, the Philistines assembled again in the valley 
of Rephaim. — Ver. 23. David inquired once more of the Lord 
what he was to do, and received this answer : " Thou shalt not 
go up (i.e. advance to meet the foe, and attack them in front) ; 
turn round behind them, and come upon them (attack them) 
opposite to the Baca-shrubs." ^'''^7?, a word which only occurs 
Iiere and in the parallel passage in 1 Chron. xiv. 14, is rendered 
diriov;, pear-trees, by the LXX., and mulberry-trees by the 
Kabbins. But these are both of them uncertain conjectures. 
Baca, according to Abulfadl, is the name given in Arabic to a 
shrub which grows at Mecca and resembles the balsam, except 
that it has longer leaves and larger and rounder fruit, and 
from which, if a leaf be broken off, there flows a white pun- 
gent sap, like a white tear, which in all probability gave rise to 
the name {<33 = n33, to weep {vid. Celsii, Ilierob. i. pp. 338 
sqq., and Gesenius, Thes. p. 205). — Ver. 24. "And when thou 
hearest the rush of a going in the tops of the baca-shrubs, then 
bestir thy self ^^ or hasten ; ^'■for Jehovah has go7ie out before thee, 
to smite the army of the Philistines^ " The sound of a going," 
i.e. of the advance of an army, was a significant sign of the 
approach of an army of God, which would smite the enemies 
of Jehovah and of His servant David ; like the visions of Jacob 
(Gen. xxxii. 2, 3) and Elisha (2 Kings vi. 17). "Then thou 
shalt bestir thyself," lit. be sharp, i.e. active, quick: this is 
paraphrased in the Chronicles by " then thou shalt go out to 
battle." — Ver. 25. David did this, and smote the Philistines 
from Geba to the neighbourhood of Gezer. In the Chronicles 

^ This is the marginal reading in the English version, though the text 
has " he burned them." — Tu. 


we find " from Giheon " instead of from Geha. The former is 
unquestionably the true reading, and Geba an error of the pen : 
for Geha, the present Jeha, was to the north of Jerusalem, 
and on the east of Ramah (see at Josh, xviii. 24) ; so that it is 
quite unsuitable here. But that is not the case with Giheon^ 
the present el Jih, on the north-west of Jerusalem (see at Josh, 
ix. 3); for this was on the way to Gezer, which was four Roman 
miles to the north of Amws, and is probably to be sought for 
on the site of the present el Kuhah (see at Josh. x. 33).^ 


(After David had selected the citadel of Zion, or rather Jeru- 
salem, as the capital of the kingdom, he directed his attention 
to the organization and improvement of the legally established 
worship of the congregation, which had fallen grievously into 
decay since the death of Eli, in consequence of the separation 
of the ark from the tabernacle. He therefore resolved first of 
all to fetch out the ark of the covenant, as the true centre of the 
Mosaic sanctuary, from its obscurity and bring it up to Zion ; 
and having deposited it in a tent previously prepared to receive 
it, to make this a place of worship where the regular worship 
of God might be carried on in accordance with the instructions 
of the law. That he should make the capital of his kingdom 
the central point of the worship of the whole congregation of 
Israel, followed so naturally from the nature of the kingdom 
of God, and the relation in which David stood, as the earthly 

^ There is no force in the objection brought by Bertheau against this 
view, viz. that "it is a priori improbable that the Philistines who were 
fighting against David and his forces, whose base of operations was 
Jerusalem, should have taken possession of the whole line from Gibeon 
to Gezer," as the improbability is by no means apparent, and has not 
been pointed out by Bertheau, whilst the assumption that Jerusalem was 
David's base of operations has no foundation Avhatever. Moreover, Ber- 
theau's opinion, that Geha was the same as Gibeah in the tribe of Judah 
(Josh. XV. 57), is decidedly erroneous : for this Gibeah is not to be identi- 
fied with the present village of Jeba on the south side of the Wady Musurr, 
half-way between Shocoh and Jerusalem, but was situated towards the 
desert of Judah (see at Josh. xv. 57) ; and besides, it is impossible to see 
how the Philistines, who had invaded the plain of Rephaim, could have 
been beaten from this Gibeah as far as to Gezer. 

CHAP. VI. 327 

monarch of that kingdom, towards Jehovah the God-king, that 
there is no necessity whatever to seek for even a partial explana- 
tion in the fact that David felt it desirable to have the high 
priest with the Urim and Thummim always close at handJ But 
why did not David remove the Mosaic tabernacle to Mount 
Zion at Jerusalem at the same time as the ark of the covenant, 
and so restore the divinely established sanctuary in its integrity? 
This question can only be answered by conjectures. (One 
of the principal motives for allowing the existing separation 
of the ark from the tabernacle to continue, may have been 

(that, during the time the two sanctuaries had been separated, 
two high priests had arisen, one of whom officiated at the 
tabernacle at Gibeon, whilst the other, namely Abiathar, who 
escaped the massacre of the priests at Nob and fled at once to 
David, had been the channel of all divine communications to 
David during the time of his persecution by Saul, and had also 
officiated as high priest in his campj) so that he could no more 
think of deposing him from the office which he had hitherto 
filled, in consequence of the reorganization of the legal worship^ 
than he could of deposing Zadok, of the line of Eleazar, the 
officiating high priest at Gibeon. (Moreover, David may from 
the very first have regarded the service which he instituted in 
connection with the ai'k upon Zion as merely a provisional 
arrangement, which was to continue till his kingdom was moi-e 
thoroughly consolidated, and the way had been thereby pre- 
pared for erecting a fixed house of God, and so establishing the 
worship of the nation of Jehovah upon a more durable founda- 
tion. David may also have cherished the firm belief that in the 
meantime the Lord would put an end to the double priesthood 
which had grown out of the necessities of the times, or at any 
rate give him some direct revelation as to the arrangements 
which he ought to make. ) 

We have a parallel account of the removal of the ark of the 
covenant to Zion in 1 Chron. xiii. 15 and 16, which agrees for 
the most part verbatim, at all events in all essential points, with 
the account before us ; but the liturgical side of this solemn 
act is very elaborately described, especially the part taken by 
the Levites, whereas the account given here is very condensed, 
and is restricted in fact to an account of the work of removing 
the ark from Kirjath-jearim to Jerusalem as carried out by 


David. ( David composed the 24tli Psalm for the religious cer^ 
'nonies connected with the removal of the ark to Mount Zion. ) 
Vers. 1-10. The ark fetched from Kirjath-jearim. — Ver. 1. 
*' David assembled together again all the chosen men in Israel, 
thirty thousand.'^ ^D^ for ^ipx^ is the Kal of ^px, as in 1 Sam. 
XV. 6, Ps. civ. 29. *liy, again, once more, points back to ch. v. 
1 and 3, where all Israel is said to have assembled for the first 
time in Hebron to anoint David king. It is true that that 
assembly was not convened directly by David himself ; but this 
was not the point in question, but merely their assembling a 
second time (see Bertheau on 1 Chron. xiii. 5). "^^nn does not 
mean " the young men " here (yedvia, LXX.), or " the fight- 
ing men," but, according to the etymology of the word, " the 
picked men." Instead of thirty thousand, the LXX. have 
seventy chiliads, probably with an intentional exaggeration, 
because the number of men in Israel who were capable of bear- 
ing arms amounted to more than thirty thousand, f The whole 
nation, through a very considerable body of representatives, was 
to take part in the removal of the ark. ) The writer of the 
Chronicles gives a more elaborate account of the preparations 
for these festivities (1 Chron. xiii. 1-5); namely, rthat David 
took counsel with the heads of thousands and hundreds, and 
all the leaders, i.e. all the heads of families and households, and 
then with their consent collected together the whole nation 
from the brook of Egypt to Hamath, of course not every indi- 
vidual, but a largejiumber of heads of households as represen- 
tatives of the whole) This account in the Chronicles is not an 
expansion of the brief notice given here ; but the account before 
us is a condensation of the fuller description given in the sources 
that were employed by both authors. — Ver. 2. '^ David went with 
all the people that were with him to Baale-Jehuda, to fetch up the 
ark of God from thence." The words Tr\\T\\ vy3D cause some 
difficulty on account of the iP, which is used instead of the 
accusative with n loc., like nripyii in the Chronicles ; yet the 
translators of the Septuagint, Chaldee, Vulgate, and other ver- 
sions, all had the reading ip in their text, and vJ?? has therefore 
been taken as an appellative and rendered airo rüv ap'x^ovTcov 
'lovSd (" from the rulers of Judah "), or as Luther renders it, 
" from the citizens of Judah." This is decidedly incorrect, as 
the word " thence " which follows is perfectly unintelligible on 

CHAP. VI. 1-10. 329 

any other supposition than that Baale-Jelnidah is the name of a 
place. Baale-Jehudah is another name of the city of Kirjaih- 
jearim (Josh. xv. 60, xviii. 14), which is called BaalaJi in Josh. 
XV. 9 and 1 Chron. xiii. 6, according to its Canaanltish name, 
instead of which the name Kirjath-jearim (city of the woods) 
was adopted by the Israelites, though without entirely supplant- 
ing the old name. The epithet "■ of Judah" is a contraction of 
the fuller expression "city of the children of Judah" in Josh, 
xviii. 14, and is added to distinguish this Baal city, which was 
situated upon the border of the tribe of Judah, from other cities 
that were also named after Baal, such as Baal or Baalath-heer 
in the tribe of Simeon (1 Chron. iv. 33, Josh. xix. 8), Baalath 
in the tribe of Dan (Josh. xix. 44), the present Kuryet el Enab 
(see at Josh. ix. 17). The I» (from) is either a very ancient 
error of the pen that crept by accident into the text, or, if 
genuine and original, it is to be explained on the supposition 
that the historian dropped the construction with which he 
started, and instead of mentioning Baale-Jehudah as the place 
to which David went, gave it at once as the place from which 
he fetched the ark ; so that the passage is to be understood in 
this way : " And David went, and all the people who were with 
him, out of Baale-Jehudah, to which they had gone up to fetch 
the ark of God" (Kimchi). In the sentence which follows, a 
difficulty is also occasioned by the repetition of the word QK' in 
the clause "ivy . . . ti'ipJ *^t^'X., " vjpon xohich the name is called, 
the name of Jehovah of hosts, who is enthroned above the cheru- 
biin." The difficulty cannot be solved by altering the first Ü^ 
into DK', as Clericus, Thenius, and Bertheau suggest: for if 
this alteration were adopted, we should have to render the 
passage " where the name of Jehovah of hosts is invoked, who 
is enthroned above the cherubim (which are) upon it (i.e. upon 
the ark) ; " and this would not only introduce an unscriptural 
thought into the passage, but it would be impossible to find any 
suitable meaning for the word Ivy, except by making very arbi- 
trary interpolations. Throughout the whole of the Old Testa- 
ment we never meet with the idea that the name of Jehovah was 
invoked at the ark of the covenant, because no one was allowed 
to approach the ark for the purpose of invoking the name of 
the Lord there ; and upon the great day of atonement the high 
priest was only allowed to enter the most holy place with the 


cloud of incense, to sprinkle the blood of the atoning sacrifice 
upon the ark. Moreover, the standing expression for "call upon 
the name of the Lord" is '"»^ Ü^2 N"ji5; whereas 's b '"'•' DC' N^jpj 
signifies " the name of Jehovah is called above a person or 
thing." Lastly, even if vhv belonged to D^ni3n 2^^^^ it would 
not only be a superfluous addition, occurring nowhere else in 
connection with '3n ntJ'"', not even in 1 Chron. xiii. 6 (vid. 1 Sam. 
iv. 4 ; 2 Kings xix. 15 ; Isa. xxxvii. 16; Ps. xcix. 1), but such 
an addition if made at all would necessarily require Ivy "iK'i? 
{vid. Ex. XXV. 22). The only way in which we can obtain a 
biblical thought and grammatical sense is by connecting Ivy 
with the "i;ff^ before X^i?J : " above which (ark) the name of 
Jehovah-Zebaoth is named," i.e. above which Jehovah reveals 
His glory or His divine nature to His people, or manifests His 
gracious presence in Israel. " The name of God denotes all 
the operations of God through which He attests His personal 
presence in that relation into which He has entered to man, i.e. 
the whole of the divine self-manifestation, or of that side of the 
divine nature which is turned towards men" (Oehler, Herzog's 
Real-Encycl. x. p. 197). From this deeper meaning of " the 
name of God " we may probably explain the repetition of the 
word Dt^, which is first of all written absolutely (as at the close 
of Lev. xxiv. 16), and then more fully defined as "the name of 
the Lord of hosts." — "Vers. 3, 4. '■'■They set the arh of God upon 
a new cart, and took it away from the house of AbinadabJ' ^''^1'} 
means here " to put (load) upon a cart," and N^'3 to take away, 
i.e. drive off : for there are grammatical (or syntactical) rea- 
sons which make it impossible to render ^^xfe^M as a pluperfect 
("they had taken "), on account of the previous Ua"!""!. 

/The ark of the covenant had been standing in the house of 
Abmadab from the time when the Philistines had sent it back 
into the land of Israel, i.e. about seventy years (viz. twenty 
years to the victory at Ebenezer mentioned in 1 Sam. vii. 1 
sqq., forty years under Samuel and Saul, and abont ten years 
under David,! see the chronological table in vol. iv. p. 289). 
The further statement, that " Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abina- 
dab, drove the cart," may easily be reconciled with this. These 
two sons were either born about the time when the ark was first 
taken to Abinadab's house, or at a subsequent period ; or else 
the term sons is used, as is frequently the case, in the sense of 

CHAP. VI. 1-10. 331 

grandsons. The words from nt'nn (the last word In ver. 3) to 
Giheali in ver. 4 are wanting in the Septuagint, and can only 
have been introduced through the error of a copyist, whose 
eye wandered back to the first ripjy in ver. 3, so that he copied 
a whole line twice over ; for they not only contain a pure 
tautology, a merely verbal and altogether superfluous and pur- 
poseless repetition, but they are altogether unsuitable to the 
connection in which they stand. Not only is there something 
very strange in the repetition of the ^K^in without an article 
after rh^VJ^ ; but the words which follow, 'n pis Dy (with the 
ark of God), cannot be made to fit on to the repeated clause, for 
there is no sense whatever in such a sentence as this : " They 
brought it (the ark) out of the house of Abinadab, which is 
upon the hill, with the ark of God." The only way in which 
the words " with the ark " can be made to acquire any meaning 
at all, is by omitting the repetition referred to, and connecting 
them with the new cart in ver. 3 : " Uzzah and Ahio . . . drove 
the cart with the ark of God, and Ahio went before the ark." 
^OJ, to drive (a carriage), is construed here with an accusative, 
in 1 Chron. xiii. 7 with 3, as in Isa. xi. 6. — Ver. 5. And David 
and all the house (people) of Israel were D^i'Jnb'Oj sporting, i.e. 
they danced and played, before Jehovah. D''K'n2 '';fj; ?b3, " with 
all kinds of woods of cypresses." This could only mean, with 
all kinds of instruments made of cypress wood ; but this mode 
of expression would be a very strange one even if the reading 
were correct. In the Chronicles, however (ver. 8), instead of 
this strange expression, we find D"'1^'^21 t'p v^?, *' with all their 
might and with songs." This is evidently the correct reading, 
from which our text has sprung, although the latter is found in 
all the old vei'sions, and even in the Septuagint, which really 
combines the two readings thus : ev opydvoi.'i rjpfj,ocrfjievoi,<i iv 
l(T')(yl Kcu iv cüSat?, where iv 6p'ydvoi<; ■^pfMoa-fievoi'i is evidently 
the interpretation of Q'f\-^2 '-^V ^33 ; for the text of the 
Chronicles cannot be regarded as an explanation of Samuel. 
Moreover, songs would not be omitted on such a festive occa- 
sion ; and two of the instruments mentioned, viz. the kinnor 
and nchcl (see at 1 Sam. x. 5), were generally played as accom- 
paniments to singing. The vav before Q''T?'3, and before the 
different instruments, corresponds to the Latin et . . . et, both 
. . . and. Pin, the timbrel. Q'^^J'V?^ ^^V^V^P?, sistins et cymbalis 


(Vulg., Syr.), "with bells and cymbals" (Luther). 0^5», 
from V^i, are instruments that are shaken, the aelarpa, sistrd, of 
the ancients, which consisted of two iron rods fastened together 
at one end, either in a semicircle or at right angles, upon which 
rings were hung loosely, so as to make a tinkling sound when 
they were shaken. D^^'p^' = D^rip!sD are cymbals or castanets. 
Instead of CJ^^yjoj we find niivVn, trumpets, mentioned in the 
Chronicles in the last rank after the cymbals. It is possible 
that sistra were played and trumpets blown, so that the two 
accounts complete each other. — Vers. 6, 7. When the procession 
had reached the threshing-floor of Nachon, Uzzah stretched out 
his hand to lay hold of the ark, i.e. to keep it from falling 
over with the cart, because the oxen slipped. And the wrath 
of the Lord was kindled, and God slew Uzzah upon the spot. 
Goren nachon means " the threshing-floor of the stroke" (iiaclion 
from n33, not from 113); in the Chronicles we have goren chidon, 
i.e. the threshing-floor of destruction or disaster (in"'3=T'3, 
Job xxi. 20). Chidon is probably only an explanation of nachon, 
so that the name may have been given to the threshing-floor, 
not from its owner, but from the incident connected with the 
ark which took place there. Eventually, however, this name 
was supplanted by the name Perez-uzzah (ver. 8). The situation 
of the threshing-floor cannot be determined, as all that we can 
gather from this account is that the house of Obed-edom the 
Gathite was somewhere near it; but no village, hamlet, or 
town is mentioned.^ Jerome paraphrases "ij^sn lüO^ "'S thus : 
" Because the oxen kicked and turned it (the ark) over." But 
lOöty does not mean to kick ; its true meaning is to let go, or 
let lie (Ex. xxiii. 11 ; Deut. xv. 2, 3), hence to slip or stumble. 
The stumbling of the animals might easily have turned the cart 
over, and this was what Uzzah tried to prevent by laying hold 
of the ark. God smote him there " on account of the offence " 
Q^, air. "Key. from n?^^ m the sense of erring, or committing a 
fault). The writer of the Chronicles gives it thus : " Because 

^ If it were possible to discover the situation of Gath-rimmon, the home 
of Obed-edom (see at ver. 10), we might probably decide the question 
whether Obed-edom was still living in the town where he was born or not. 
But according to the Onom., Kirjath-jearim was ten miles from Jerusalem, 
and Gath-rimmon twelve, that is to say, farther off. Now, if these state- 
ments are correct, Obed-edom's house cannot have been in Gath-rimmon. 

CHAP. VI. 1-10. 333 

he had stretched out his hand to the ark," though of course 
the text before us is not to be altered to this, as Thenius and 
ßertheau suggest. — Ver. 8. " And David was angry, because 
Jehovah had made a rent on Uzzah, and called the place 
Perez-uzzah'' (rent of Uzzah). pQ H?, to tear a rent, is here 
applied to a sudden tearing away from life, p "'0'' is under- 
stood by many in the sense of " he troubled himself ;" but this 
meaning cannot be grammatically sustained, whilst it is quite 
possible tq become angry, or fall into a state of violent excite- 
ment, at ah unexpected calamity. The burning of David's 
anger was not directed against God, but referred to the calamity 
which had befallen Uzzah, or speaking more correctly, to the 
cause of this calamity, which David attributed to himself or to 
his undertaking. As he had not only resolved upon the removal 
of the ark, but had also planned the way in which it should be 
taken to Jerusalem, he could not trace the occasion of Uzzah's 
death to any other cause than his own plans./ He was therefore 
angry that such misfortune had attended his undertaking. In 
his first excitement and dismay, David may not have ^^rceived 
the real and deeper ground of this divine judgment. (^Uzzah's 
offence consisted in the fact that he had touched the ark with 
profane feelings, although with good intentions,) namely to 
prevent its rolling over and falling from the cart. Touching 
the ark, the throne of the divine glory and visible pledge of the 
invisible presence of the Lord, was a violation of the majesty 
of the holy God. " Uzzah was therefore a type of all who 
with good intentions, humanly speaking, yet with unsanctified 
minds, interfere in the affairs of the kingdom of God, from 
the notion that they are in danger, and with the hope of saving 
them" (O. V. Gerlach). On further reflection, David could 
not fail to discover where the cause of Uzzah's offence, which 
he had atoned for with his life, renlly had lain, and that it had 
actually arisen from the fact that; he (David) and those about 
him had decided to disregard the distinct instructions of the law 
with regard to the handling of the ark. According to Num. iv. 
the ark was not only to be moved by none but Levites, but it 
was to be carried on the shoulders, not in a carriage ; and in 
ver. 15, even the Levites were expressly forbidden to touch it 
on pain of death. Bu/instead of taking these instructions as 
their rule, they had followed the exam])le of the Philistines 


when they sent back the ark \l Sam. vi. 7 sqq.), and had placed 
it upon a new cart, and directed Uzzah ,to drive it, whilst, as 
his conduct on the occasion clearly shows] he had no idea of the 
unapproachable holiness of the ark of God, and had to expiate 
his offence with his life, as a warning to all the Israelites.^— 
Vers. 9, 10. David's excitement at what had occurred was soon 
changed into fear of the Lord, so that he said, " How shall the 
ark of Jehovah come to me?" If merely touching the ark of 
God is punished in this way, how can 1 have it brought near 
me, up to the citadel of Zion ? He therefore relinquished his 
intention of bringing it into the city of David, and placed it in 
the house of Obed-edom the Gathite. / Obed-edom was a LeviteJ 
of the family of the Korahites, who sprang from Kohath (com- 
pare Ex. vi. 21, xviii. 16, with 1 Chron. xxvi. 4), and belonged 
to the class of Levitical doorkeepersjfwhose duty it was, in 
connection with other Levites, to watch over the ark in the 
sacred tent\(l Chron. xv. 18, 24). He is called the Gittite or 
Gathite from his birthplace, the Levitical city of Gath-rimmon 
in the tribe of Dan (Josh. xxi. 24, xix. 45). 

Vers. 11-19. Removal of the ark of God to the city of David 
(cf. 1 Chron. xv.). — Vers. 11, 12. When the ark had been in 
the house of Obed-edom for three months, and David heard 
that tlie Lord had blessed his house for the sake of the ark of 
GodJ he went thither and brought it up to the city of David 
with gladness, i.e. with festal rejoicing, or a solemn procession) 
(For i^l^'p'^, in the sense of festal rejoicing, or a joyous fete, see 
Gen. xxxi. 27, Neh. xii. 43, etc.) On this occasion, however, 
David adhered strictly to the instructions of the law,) as the 
more elaborate account given in the Clironicles clearly shows. 
He not only gathered together all Israel at Jerusalem to join 
in this solemn actj^but summoned the priests and Levites, and 
commanded them to sanctify themselves, and carry the ark 
" according to the right,\ i.e. as the Lord had commanded in 
the law of Moses, andfto offer sacrifices during the procession, 
and sing songs, i.e. psalms, with musical accompanimenü In 
the very condensed account before us, all that is mentioned is 
the carrying of the ark, the sacrificing during the march, and 
the festivities of the king and people. But even from these 
few facts we see that David had discovered his former mistake, 
and had given up the idea of removing the ark upon a carriage 

CHAP. VI. 11-19. 335 

as a transgression of the law. — Ver. 13. The bearers of the ark 
are not particularly mentioned in this account ; but it is very- 
evident that they were Levites, as the Chronicles affirm, from 
the fact that the ark was carried this time, and not driven, as 
before. " And it came to pass, when the bearers of the ark of 
Jehovah had gone six paces, he sacrificed an ox and a fatted calf^^ 
(i.e. had them sacrificed). These words are generally under- 
stood as meaning, that sacrifices of this kind were offered along 
the whole way,(at the distance of six paces apart. This would 
certainly have been a possible thing, and there would be no 
necessity to assume that the procession halted every six paces, 
until the sacrificial ceremony was completed, but the ark might 
have continued in progress, whilst sacrifices M'ere being offered 
at the distances mentioned. And even the immense number of 
sacrificial animals that would have been required is no valid 
objection to such an assumption. We do not know what the 
distance really was : all that we know is, that it was not so much 
as ten miles, as Kirjath-jearim was only about twelve miles 
from Jerusalem, so that a few thousand oxen, and the same 
number of fatted calves, would have been quite sufficient. But 
the words of the text do not distinctly affirm that sacrifices were 
offered whenever the bearers advanced six paces/ but only that 
this was .done as soon as the bearers had taken the first six steps. 
So that, strictly speaking, all that is stated is, that when the 
procession had started and gone six paces, the sacrifice was 
offered, namely, for the purpose of inaugurating or consecrating 
the solemn procession. In 1 Chron. xv. this fact is omitted ; 
and it is stated instead (ver. 26), that " when God helped the 
Levites that bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, they 
offered seven bullocks and seven rams," i.e. at the close of the 
procession, when the journey was ended, to praise God for the 
fact that the Levites had been enabled to carry the ark of God 
to the place appointed for it, without suffering the slightest 
harm.^-\Ver. 14. " And David danced with all his might before 

^ There is no discrepancy, therefore, between the two different accounts ; 
but the one supplements the other in a manner perfectly in harmony with 
the whole affair, — at the outset, a sacrifice consisting of one ox and one 
fatted calf ; and at the close, one of seven oxen and seven rams. Conse- 
quently there is no reason for altering the text of the verse before us, aa 
Thenius proposes, according to the senseless rendering of the LXX., x«i 


the Lord {i.e. before^ the ark), and loas girded unth a ivhite epiiod 
(shoulder-dress)." ^Dancing, as an expression of holy enthu- 
siasm, was a customary thing from time immemorial] we meet 
with it as early as at the festival of thanksgiving at the Red 
Sea (Ex. XV. 20) ; but there, and also at subsequent celebra- 
tions of the different victories gained by the Israelites, none 
but women are described as taking part in it (Judg. xi. 34, 
xxi. 19 ; 1 Sam. xviii. 6). The white ephod was, strictly 
speaking, a priestly costume, although in the law it is not pre- 
scribed as the dress to be worn by them when performing their 
official duties, but ratherfas the dress which denoted the priestly 
character of the wearer (see at 1 Sam. xxii. 18) ; and for this 
reason it was worn by David in connection with these festivities 
in honour of the Lord, as the head of the priestly nation of 
Israel ][see at 1 Sam. ii. 18). In ver. 15 it is still further related, 
that David and all the house (nation) of Israel brought up the 
ark of the Lord with jubilee and trumpet-blast, ny^tn is used 
here to signify the song of jubilee and the joyous shouting of 
the people. In the Chronicles (ver. 28) the musical instru- 
ments played on the occasion are also severally mentioned. 
— Ver. 16. When the ark came (i.e. was carried) into the 
city of David, Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the 
window, and there she saw king David leaping and »dancing 
before Jehovah, and despised him in her heart. ^'^'^\ " and it 
came to pass," for ''H^l, because there is no progress made, but 
only another element introduced. t<3 is a perfect : " the ark 
had come, . . . and Michal looked through the window, . . . there 
she saw," etc. Michal is intentionally designated the daughter 
of Saul here, instead of the wife of David, because on this 
occasion/she manifested her father's disposition rather than her 
husband's^) ( In Saul's time people did not trouble themselves 
about the ark of the covenant (1 Chron. xiii. 3) ; public worship 
was neglected, and the soul for vital religion had died out in 
the family of the king. |/ Michal possessed teraphim, and in 

Xtrau fiiT avrov cci'poureg t^v Kißurov iTrrac %opol, kxI 6vf/.oe. ^oayfi'; x,ct\ äpvi; 
(" with David there were bearers of the ark, seven choirs, and sacrifices 
of a calf and lambs"), which has also found its way into the Vulgate, 
though Jerome has rendered our Hebrew text faithfully afterwards (i.e. 
after the gloss, which was probably taken from the Itala, and inserted ia 
his translation). 

CHAP. VI. 20-23. 337 

David she only loved the brave hero and exalted king : she 
therefore took offence at the humility with which the king, in 
his pious enthusiasm, placed himselfvon an equality with all the 
rest of the nation before the Lordy— Ver. 17. When the ark 
was brought to the place appointed for it upon Mount Zion, 
and was deposited in the tent whiclv David had prepared for it, 
he offered burnt-offerings and thank-offerings before the Lord./ 
" In its place" is still further defined as " in the midst of the 
tent which David," etc., i.e. in the Most Holy Place ; for the 
tent would certainly be constructed according to the type of the 
Mosaic tabernacle. The burnt-offerings and peace-offerings 
were offered to consecrate the newly erected house of God. — 
Vers. 18, 19. When the offering of sacrifice was over, (pavid 
blessed the people in the name of the Lord, as Solomon did 
afterwards at the dedication of the temple (1 Kings viii. 55), 
and gave to all the (assembled) people, both men and women, 
to every one a slice of bread, a measure (of wine), and a cake 
for a festal meal, i.e. for the sacrificial meal, which was cele- 
brated with the shelamim after the offering of the sacrifices, 
and after the king had concluded the liturgical festival with a 
benediction^ DH^ ripn is a round cake of bread, baked for sacri- 
ficial meals', and synonymous with Dn7""i|3 (1 Chron. xvi. 3), 
as we may see from a comparison of Ex. xxix. 23 with Lev. 
viii. 26 (see the commentary on Lev. viii. 2). But the meaning 
of the air Xey. "iS?*^ is uncertain, and has been much disputed. 
Most of the Rabbins understand it as signifying a piece of 
flesh or roast meat, deriving the word from ti'X and "IS ; but this 
is certainly false. Thei'e is more to be said in favour of the 
derivation proposed by L. de Dieu, viz. from the Ethiopic ISC', 
7ietiri, from which Gesenius and Roediger (Ges. Thes. p. 1470) 
have drawn their explanation of the word as signifying a 
measure of wine or other beverage. For nK^''C'X, (he meaning 
grape-cake or raisin-cake ^s established by Song of Sol. ii. 5 
and Hos. iii. 1 (yid. Hengstenberg, Cliristol. on Hos. iii. 1). 
The people returned home after the festal meal. 

Vers. 20-23. When David returned home to bless his house, 
as he had previously blessed the people, Michal came to meet hiui 
with scornful words, saying, " How has the king of Israel glori- 
ßed himself to-day, when he stripped himself before the eyes of the 
maids of his servants, as only one of the loose people strips him- 



sel/r' The unusual combination ni?JJ DPana is explained by 
Ewald (§ 240, e, p. 607) in this manner, that whilst, so far as 
the sense of the clause is concerned, the second verb ouoht to 
be in the infinitive absolute, they were both written with a very 
slight change of form in the infinitive construct ; whereas others 
regard nipJJ as an unusual form of the infinitive absolute (Ges. 
Lehrgeh. p. 430), or a copyist's error for ^?i^ (Thenius, Olsh. 
G7\ p. 600). The proud daughter of Saul was offended at the 
fact, that the king had let himself down on this occasion to 
the level of the people. She availed herself of the shortness 
of the priests' shoulder-dress, to make a contemptuous remark 
concerning David's dancing, as an impropriety that was unbe- 
coming in a king. " Who knows whether the proud woman 
did not intend to sneer at the rank of the Levites, as one that 
was contemptible in her eyes, since their humble service may 
have looked very trivial to her?" {Berleh. Bible.) — Vers. 21, 22. 
David replied, " Before Jehovah, who chose me before thy 
father and all his house, to appoint me prince over the people 
of Jehovah, over Israel, (before Jehovah have I played {lit, 
joked, given utterance to my joyl). And I will be still more 
despised, and become base in my eyes : and with the maidens of 
whom thou hast spoken, with them will I be honoured." The 
copula vav before ''^\>^^ serves to introduce the apodosis, and 
may be explained in this way, that the relative clause appended 
to " before Jehovah" acquired the power of a protasis on 
account of its length ; so that, strictly speaking, there is an 
anakolouthon, as if the protasis read thus : " Before Jehovah, 
as He hath chosen me over Israel, I have humbled myself 
before Jehovah" (for "before him"). With the words "who 
chose me before thy father and all his house," David humbles 
the pride of the king's daughter. His playing and dancing 
referred to the Lord, who had ^chosen him, and had rejected 
Saul on account of his pride. . He would therefore let himself 
be still further despised before^ the Lord, i.e. would bear still 
greater contempt from men than that \^-hich he had just 
received, and be humbled in his own eyes^(vid. Ps. cxxxi. 1) : 
then would he also with the maidens attain to honour before 
the Lord. For whoso humbleth himself, him will God exalt 
(Matt, xxiii. 12). '^V^ is not to be altered into V.VV.'^, as in the 
Septuagint. This alteration has arisen from a total miscou- 

CHAP. VII. öo'J 

eeption of the nature of true humility, which is of no worth 
in its own eyes. The rendering given by De Wette is at 
variance with both the grammar and the sense (" with the 
maidens, . . . with them will I magnify myself ") ; and so also 
is that of Thenius (" with them will I be honoured, i.e. in- 
demnify myself for thy foolish contempt!"). — Ver. 23. Michal 
was humbled by God for her pride, and remained childless to 
the time of her death. 

David's resolution to build a temple, the promised 
perpetuity of his throne. — chap. vii. 

To the erection of a sanctuary for the ark upon Mount 
Zion there is appended an account of David's desire to build 
a temple for the Lord. We find this not only in the text 
before us, but also in the parallel history in 1 Chron. xvii. 
When David had acquired rest from his enemies round about, 
he formed the resolution to build a house for the Lord, and this 
resolution was sanctioned by the prophet Nathan (vers. 1-3). 
But the Lord revealed to the prophet, and through him to 
David, that He had not required the building of a temple from 
any of the tribes of Israel, and that He would first of all build 
a house himself for His servant David, and confirm the throne 
to his seed for ever, and then he should build Him a temple 
(vers. 4-17). David then gave utterance to his thanksgiving 
for this glorious promise in a prayer, in which he praised the 
unmeasurable grace of God, and prayed for the fij^lfilment of 
this renewed promise of divine grace (vers. 18-29).'" 

^ With regard to the historical authenticity of this promise, Tholuck 
observes, in his Prophets and their Prophecies (pp. 165-6), that " it can be 
proved, with all the evidence which is ever to be obtained in support of 
historical testimony, that David actually received a prophetic promise that 
his family should sit upon the throne for ever, and consequently an inti- 
mation of a royal descendant whose government should be eternal. Any- 
thing Uke a merely subjective promise arising from human combinations is 
precluded here by the fact that Nathan, acting according to the best of his 
knowledge, gave his consent to David's plan of building a temple ; and that 
it was not till afterwards, when he had been instructed by a divine vision, 
that he did the very opposite, and assured him on the contrary that God 
would build him a house." Thenius also affirms that " there is no reason 
for assuming, as De Wette has done, that Nathan's prophecies were not 
composed till after the time of Solomon ;" that " their historical credibility 


Vers. 1-3. When David was dwelling in his house, i.e. the 
palace of cedar (ch. v. 11), and Jehovah had given him rest 
from all his enemies round about, he said to Nathan the pro- 
phet : " See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, and the ark of 
God dwelleth within the curtains." ^^^y.'] in the singular is 
used, in Ex. xxvi. 2 sqq., to denote the inner covering, com- 

is attested by Ps. Ixxxix. (vers. 4, 5, 20-38, and especially ver. 20), Ps. 
cxxxii. 11, 12, and Isa. Iv. 3 ; and that, properly interpreted, tbey are also 
Messianic." The principal evidence of this is to be found in the prophetic 
utterance of David in ch. xxiii., where, as is generally admitted, he takes a 
retrospective glance at the promise, and thereby attests the historical credi- 
bility of Nathan's prophecy (Thenius, p. 245). Nevertheless, Gust. Baur 
maintains that " a closer comparison of this more elaborate and simple 
description (ch. vii.) with the brief and altogether unexampled last words 
of David., more especially with 2 Sam. xxiii. 5, can hardly leave the 
slightest doubt, that the relation in which the chapter before us stands to 
these words, is that of a later expansion to an authentic prophetic utterance 
of the king himself." For example, the distinct allusion to the birth of 
Solomon, and the building of the temple, which was to be completed by 
him, is said to have evidently sprung from a later development of the 
original promise after the time of Solomon, on account of the incongruity 
apparent in Nathan's prediction between the ideal picture of the Israelitish 
monarchy and the definite allusion to Solomon's building of the temple. 
But there is no such " incongruity" in Nathan's prediction ; it is only to be 
found in the naturalistic assumptions of Baur himself, that the utterances 
of the prophets contained nothing more than subjective and ideal hopes of 
the future, and not supernatural predictions. This also applies to Diestel's 
opinion, that the section vers. 4-16 does not harmonize with the substance 
of David's glorious prayer in vers. 18—29, nor the latter again with itself, 
because the advice given him to relinquish the idea of building the temple 
is not supported by any reasons that answer either to the character of 
David or to his peculiar circumstances, with which the allusion to his sou 
would have been in perfect keeping ; but the prophet's dissuasion merely 
alludes to the fact that Jehovah did not stand in need of a stately house at 
all, and had never given utterance to any such desire. On account of this 
"obvious" fact, Diestel regards it as credible that the original dissuasion 
came from God, because it was founded upon an earlier view, but that the 
promise of the son of David which followed proceeded from Nathan, who 
no doubt looked with more favourable eyes upon the building of the temple. 
This discrepancy is also arbitrarily foisted upon the text. There is not a 
syllable about any " original dissuasion " in all that Nathan says ; for he 
simply tells the king that Jehovah had hitherto dwelt in a tent, and had 
not asked any of the tribes of Israel to build a stately temple, but not 
that Jehovah did not need a stately house at all. 

Of the different exegetical treatises upon this passage, see Christ. Aug 
Crusii Hypomnemata, ii. 190-219, and Hengstenberg's Christol. i. 123 sqq. 

CHAP. VII. 1-3. 341 

posed of a number of lengths of tapestry sewn together, which 
was spread over the planks of the tabernacle, and made it into 
a dwelling, whereas the separate pieces of tapestry are called 
n'^T. in the plural ; and hence, in the later writers, nij;''"!''. alter- 
nates sometimes with PHN (Isa. liv. 2), and at other times with 
n'brjk (Song of Sol. i. 5 ; Jer. iv. 20, xlix. 29). Consequently 
^V'^yj] refers here to the tent-cloth or tent formed of pieces of 
tapestry. " Within (i.e. surrounded by) the tent-cloth:" in the 
Chronicles we find " under curtains." From the words " when 
the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies round about," 
it is evident that David did not form the resolution to build the 
temple in the first years of his reign upon Zion, nor immediately 
after the completion of his palace, but at a later period (see the 
remarks on ch. v. 11, note). It is true that the giving of rest 
from all his enemies round about does not definitely presuppose 
the termination of all the greater wars of David, since it is not 
affirmed that this rest was a definitive one ; but the words 
cannot possibly be restricted to the two victories over the 
Philistines (ch. v. 17-25), as Hengstenberg supposes, inasmuch 
as, however important the second may have been, their foes 
were not even permanently quieted by them, to say nothing of 
their being entirely subdued. Moreover, in the promise men- 
tioned in ver. 9, God distinctly says, "I was with thee whither- 
soever thou wentest, and have cut off all thine enemies before 
thee." These words also show that at that time David had 
already fought against all the enemies round about, and humbled 
them. Now, as all David's principal wars are grouped together 
for the first time in ch. viii. and x., there can be no doubt that 
the history is not arranged in a strictly chronological order. 
And the expression " after this " in ch. viii. 1 is by no means 
at variance with this, since this formula does not at all express 
a strictly chronological sequence. From the words of the 
prophet, " Go, do all that is in thy heart, for the Lord is with 
thee," it is very evident that David had expressed the intention 
to build a splendid palatial temple. The word ^?, go (equiva- 
lent to "quite right"), is omitted in the Chronicles as super- 
fluous. Nathan sanctioned the king's resolution " from his 
own feelings, and not by divine revelation " (J. H. INIichaelis) ; 
but he did not " afterwards perceive that the time for carrying 
out this intention had not yet come," as Theuius and Bertheau 


maintain ; on the contrary, the Lord God revealed to the 
prophet that David was not to carry out his intention at all. 

Vers. 4-17. The revelation and promise of God. — Ver. 4. 
" That 7iight,^' i.e. the night succeeding the day on which 
Nathan had talked with the king concerning the building of 
the temple, the Lord made known His decree to the prophet, 
with instructions to communicate it to the kino;, '^i^ nntf?n 

O . T - |-7 

" Shouldest thou build me a house for me to dwell in ?" The 
question involves a negative reply, and consequently in the 
Chronicles we find " thou shalt not." — Vers. 6, 7. The reason 
assigned for this answer: "I have not dwelt in a house from 
the day of the bringing up of Israel out of Egypt even to this 
day, but I was wandering about in a tent and in a dwelling." 
" And in a dwelling" (mishcan) is to be taken as explanatory, 
viz. in a tent which was my dwelling. As a tent is a traveller's 
dwelling, so, as long as God's dwelling was a tent, He himself 
appeared as if travelling or going from place to place. "In 
the whole of the time that I walked among all the children 
of Israel, . . . have I spoken a word to one of the tribes of 
Israel, whom I commanded to feed my people, saying, Where- 
fore have ye not built me a cedar house ?" A " cedar house" 
is equivalent to a palace- built of costly materials. The expres- 
sion ^^1^] ''t33K' ^^X ("one of the tribes of Israel") is a striking 
one, as the feeding of the nation does not appear to be a duty 
belonging to the " tribes," and in the Chronicles we have ''tps'ti* 
(judges) instead of ^tpnK' (tribes). But if 'tDöb' had been the 
original expression used in the text, it would be impossible to 
explain the origin and general acceptance of the word ''^^^. 
For this very reason, therefore, we must regard ''^.^^ as the 
original word, and understand it as referring to the tribes, which 
had supplied the nation with judges and leaders before the time 
of David, since the feeding, i.e. the government of Israel, which 
was in the hands of the judges, was transferred to the tribes to 
which the judges belonged. This view is confirmed by Ps. 
Ixxviii. 67, 68, where the election of David as prince, and of 
Zion as the site of the sanctuary, is described as the election of 
the tribe of Judah and the rejection of the tribe of Ephraim. 
On the other hand, the assumption of Thenius, that '•^^K', 
" shepherd-staffs," is used poetically for shepherds, cannot be 
established on the ground of Lev. xxvii. 32 and Micah vii. 14. 

CHAP. VII. 4-17. 343 

Jehovah gave two reasons why David's proposal to build Him 
a temple should not be carried out : (1) He had hitherto lived 
in a tent in the midst of His people ; (2) He had not com- 
manded any former prince or tribe to build a temple. This 
did not involve any blame, as though there had been something 
presumptuous in David's proposal, or in the fact that he had 
thought of undertaking such a work without an express com- 
mand from God, but simply showed that it was not because of 
any negligence on the part of the former leaders of the people 
that they had not thought of erecting a temple, and that even 
now the time for carrying out such a work as that had not yet 
come. — Ver. 8. After thus declining his proposal, the Lord 
made known His gracious purpose to David : " Thus saith 
Jehovah of hosts" (not only Jehovah^ as in ver. 5, but Jehovah 
Sebaoth, because He manifests himself in the following revela- 
tion" as the God of the universe) : " I have taken thee from the 
pasturage (grass-plat), behind the flock, to be prince over my 
people Israel ; and was with thee whithersoever thou wentest, 
and exterminated all thine enemies before thee, and so made 
thee, ''^'''^V) (perfect with vav consec), a great name, ... and 
created a place for my people Israel, and planted them, so that 
they dwell in their place, and do not tremble any more (before 
their oppressors) ; and the sons of wickedness do not oppress 
them any further, as at the beginning, and from the day when I 
appointed judges over my people Israel : and I create thee rest 
from all thine enemies. And Jehovah proclaims to thee, that 
Jehovah will make thee a house." The words ''^] ""Jsy . . . Di*n |D7 
are to be joined to nji::'Ni3, " as in the beginning," i.e. in Egypt, 
and from the time of the judges ; that is to say, during the 
rule of the judges, when the surrounding nations constantly 
oppressed and subjugated Israel. The plan usually adopted, 
of connecting the words with ''nn''jnij does not yield any suitable 
thought at all, as God had not given David rest from the very 
beginning of the times of the judges ; but the period of the 
judges was long antecedent to the time of David, and was not 
a period of rest for the Israelites. Again, ''nrT'jni does not 
resume what is stated in ver. 9, and is not to be rendered as a 
preterite in the sense of " I have procured thee rest," but as a 
perfect with vav consec, " and I procure thee rest" from what 
is now about to come to pass. And T'Sni is to be taken in the 


same way : the Lord shows thee, first of all through His pro- 
mise (which follows), and then through the fact itself, the 
realization of His word. ''nn''3ni refers to the future, as well as 
the building of David's house, and therefore not to the rest 
from all his enemies, which God had already secured for David, 
but to that which He would still further secure for him, that 
is to say, to the maintenance and establishment of that rest. 
The commentary upon this is to be found in Ps. Ixxxix. 22-24. 
In the Chronicles (ver. 10) there is a somewhat different turn 
given to the last clauses : " and I bend down all thine enemies, 
and make it (the bending-down) known to thee (by the fact), 
and a house will Jehovah build for thee." The thought is not 
essentially changed by this ; consequently there is no ground 
for any emendation of the text, which is not even apparently 
necessary, unless, like Bertheau, we misinterpret the words, 
and connect "^liy^pni erroneously with the previous clause. 

The connection between vers. 5-7 and 8-16 has been cor- 
rectly indicated by Thenius as follows : Thou shalt not build 
a house for Me ; but I, who have from the very beginning 
glorified myself in thee and my people (vers. 8-11), will build 
a house for thee ; and thy son shall erect a house for me 
(ver. 13). This thought is not merely "a play upon words 
entirely in the spirit of prophecy," but contains the deep 
general truth that God must first of all build a man's house, 
before the man can build God's house, and applies it espe- 
cially to the kingdom of God in Israel. As long as the quiet 
and full possession of the land of Canaan, which had been 
promised by the Lord to the people of God for their inheritance, 
was disputed by their enemies round about, even the dwelling- 
place of their God could not assume any other form than that 
of a wanderer's tent. The kingdom of God in Israel first 
acquired its rest and consolation through the efforts of David, 
when God had made all his foes subject to him and estab- 
lished his throne firmly, i.e. had assured to his descendants the 
possession of the kingdom for all future time. And it was this 
which ushered in the time for the building of a stationary house 
as a dwelling for the name of the Lord, i.e. for the visible 
manifestation of the presence of God in the midst of His 
people. The conquest of the citadel of Zion and the elevation 
of this fortress into the palace of the king, whom the Lord had 

CHAP. VII. 4-17. 345 

given to His people, formed the commencement of tlie estab- 
lishment of the kingdom of God. But this commencement 
received its first pledge of perpetuity from the divine assurance 
that the throne of David should be established for all future 
time. And this the Lord was about to accomplish : He would 
build David a house, and then his seed should build the house 
of the Lord. No definite reason is assigned why David himself 
was not to build the temple. We learn this first of all from 
David's last words (1 Chron. xxviii. 3), in which he says to the 
assembled heads of the nation, " God said to me, Thou shalt 
not build a house for my name, because thou art a man of 
wars, and hast shed blood." Compare with this the similar 
words of David to Solomon in 1 Chron. xxii. 8, and Solomon's 
statement in his message to Hiram, that David had been pre- 
vented from building the temple in consequence of his many 
wars. It was probably not till afterwards that David was 
informed by Nathan what the true reason was. As Hengsten- 
berg has correctly observed, the fact that David was not per- 
mitted to build the temple on account of his own personal 
unworthiness, did not involve any blame for what he had done ; 
for David stood in a closer relation to the Lord than Solomon 
did, and the wars which he waged were wars of the Lord 
(1 Sam. XXV. 28) for the maintenance and defence of the 
kingdom of God. But inasmuch as these wars were necessary 
and inevitable, they were practical proofs that David's kingdom 
and government were not yet established, and therefore that 
the time for the building of the temple had not yet come, and 
the rest of peace was not yet secured. The temple, as the 
symbolical representation of the kingdom of God, was also to 
correspond to the nature of that kingdom, and shadow forth 
the peace of the kingdom of God. For this reason, David, the 
man of war, was not to build the temple ; but that was to be 
reserved for Solomon, the man of peace, the type of the Prince 
of Peace (Isa. ix. 5). 

"^ In vers. 12-16 there follows a more precise definition of the 
way in which the Lord would build a house for His servant 
David : " When thy days shall become full, and thou shalt lie 
with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, who shall 
come from thy body, and establish his kingdom. He will build 
a house for my jiajne ^ and I sh all establish the thro ne of hia- 


kingdom for ever." O'^ipn, to set up, i.e. to promote to royal 
dignity. N^"". IK'X is not to be altered into 5<^^^ ^f X, as Thenius 
and others maintain. The assumption that Solomon had 
already been born, is an unfounded one (see the note to eh. v. 
11, p. 319) ; and it by no means follows from the statement in 
ver. 1, to the effect that God had given David rest from all his 
enemies, that his resolution to build a temple was not formed 
till the closing years of his reign. — Vers. 14 sqq. " / will be a 
father to himy and he ivill be a son to me; so that if he^-asixw/y 
I shall chastise him loith rods of men, and with strokes ofilie 
children of men (i.e. not ' with moderate punishment, such as 
parents are accustomed to inflict,' as Clericus explains it, but 
with such punishments as are inflicted upon all men who go 
astray, and from which even the seed of David is not to be 
excepted). But my mercy shall not depart from him., as I caused 
it to depart from Saul, whom I jnit aioay before thee. And thy 
house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever beforejtliee^; 
thy throne shall be established for ever." It is very obvious, from 
all the separate details of this promise, that it related primarily 
to Solomon, and had a certain fulfilment in him and his reign. 
On the death of David, his son Solomon ascended the throne, 
and God defended his kingdom against the machinations of 
Adonijah (1 Kings ii. 12) ; so that Solomon was able to say, 
" The Lord hath fulfilled His word that He spoke ; for I have 
risen up in the stead of my father David," etc. (1 Kings viii. 
20). Solomon built the temple, as the Lord said to David 
(1 Kings V. 19, viii. 15 sqq.). But in his old age Solomon 
sinned against the Lord by falling into idolatry ; and as a 
punishment for this, after his death his kingdom was rent from 
his son, not indeed entirely, as one portion was still preserved to 
the family for David's sake (1 Kings xi. 9 sqq.). Thus the 
- Lord punished lüm with rods of men, but did not withdraw 
I from him His grace. At the same time, however unmistakeable 
( the allusions to Solomon are, the substance of the promise is 
not fully exhausted in him. The threefold repetition of the 
expression " for ever," the establishment of the kingdom and 
throne of David f of ever, points incontrovertibly beyond the 
time of Solomon, and to the eternal continuance of the seed of 
David. The word seed denotes the posterity of a person, which 
may consist either in one son or in several children, or in a long 


CHAP. VII. 4-17. 347 

line of successive generations. The idea of a number of persons 
living at the same time, is here precluded by the context of the 
promise, as only one of David's successors could sit upon the 
throne at a time. On the other hand, the idea of a number of 
^ • descendants following one another, is evidently contained in the 
-> promise, that God would not withdraw His favour from the 
seed, even if it went astray, as He had done from Saul, since 
this implies that even in that case the throne should be trans- 
mitted from father to son. There is still more, however, in- 
volved in the expression " for ever." When the promise was 
, given that the throne of the kingdom of David should continue 
_ " to eternity," an eternal duration was also promised to the seed 
^. that should occupy this throne, just as in ver. 16 the house and 
-^ kingdom of David are spoken of as existing for ever, side by 
side. We must not reduce the idea of eternity to the popular 
notion of a long incalculable period, but must take it in an 
absolute iftnse, as the promise is evidently understood in Ps. 
Ixxxix. 'bo': " I set his seed for ever, and his throne as the days 
of heaven." No earthly kingdom, and no posterity of any single 
man, has eternal duration like the heaven and the earth ; but 
the different families of men become extinct, as the different 
earthly kingdoms perish, and other families and kingdoms take 
their place. The posterity of David, therefore, could only last 
for ever by running out in a person who lives for ever, i.e. by 

- culminating in the Messiah, who lives for ever, and of whose 
"~ kingdom there is no end. The promise consequently refers to 

the posterity of David, commencing with Solomon and closing 
with Christ: so that by the "seed" we are not to understand 
Solomon alone, with the kings who succeeded him, nor Christ 
alone, to the exclusion of Solomon and the earthly kings of the 
family of David ; nor is the allusion to Solomon and Christ to 
be regarded as a double allusion to two different objects. 

But if this is established, — namely, that the promise given to 
the seed of David that his kingdom should endure for ever only 
attained its ultimate fulfilment in Christ, — we must not restrict 

- the_building of the house of God to the erection of Solomon's 
" temple. " The building of the house of the Lord goes hand in 

hand with the eternity of the kingdom" (Hengstenberg). As 
the kingdom endures for ever, so the house built for tlie dwell- 
ing-place of the Lord must also endure for ever, as Solomou 


said at the dedication of the temple (1 Kings viii. 13) : " I have 
surely built Thee an house to dwell in, a settled place for Thee to 
abide in for ever." The everlasting continuance of Solomon's 
temple must not be reduced, however, to the simple fact, that 

- even if the temple of Solomon should be destroyed, a new 
■ building would be erected in its place by the earthly descend- 

^ ants of Solomon, although this is also implied in the words, and 
the temple of Zerubbabel is included as the restoration of that 
of Solomon. For it is not merely in its earthly form, as a 
building of wood and stone, that the temple is referred to, but 
also and chiefly in its essential characteristic, as the place for the 

- manifestation and presence of God in the midst of Plis people. 
_ The earthly form is perishable, the essence eternal. This 

^ essence was the dwelling of God in the midst of His people, 
which did not cease with the destruction of the temple at Jeru- 

it- salem, but culminated in the appearance of Jesus Christ, in 
whom Jehovah came to His people, and, as God the Word, 
made human nature His dwelling-place {laK-iyvwaev iv rjfiiv, 
John i. 14) in the glory of the only-begotten Son of the Father ; 
so that Christ could say to the Jews, " Destroy this temple 
(i.e. the temple of His body), and in three days I will build it 
up again" (John ii. 19). It is with this building up of the 
temple destroyed by the Jews, through the resurrection of 
Jesus Christ from the dead, that the complete and essential 
fulfilment of our promise begins. It is perpetuated within the 
Christian church in the indwelling of the Father and Son 
through the Holy Ghost in the hearts of believers (John xiv, 
23; 1 Cor. vi. 19), by which the church of Jesus Christ is built 
up a spiritual house of God, composed of living stones (1 Tim. 
iii. 15, 1 Pet. ii. 5 ; compare 2 Cor. vi. 16, Heb. iii. 6) ; and it 
will be perfected in the completion of the kingdom of God at 
the end of time in the new Jerusalem, which shall come down 
upon the new earth out of heaven from God, as the true 
tabernacle of God with men (Rev. xxi. 1-3). 

As the building of the house of God receives its fulfilment 
first of all through Christ, so the promise, " I will be to him a 
father, and he shall be to me a son," is first fully realized in 
Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of the heavenly Father 
yid. Heb. i. 5). In the Old Testament the relation between 
father and son denotes the deepest intimacy of love ; and love 

CHAP. VII. 18-29. 349 

is perfected in unity of nature, in the communication to the son 
of all that the father hath. The Father loveth the Son, and 
hath given all things into His hand (John iii. 35). Sonship 
therefore includes the government of the world. This not only- 
applied to Christ, the only-b egotten Son of God, but also to the 
seed ö7Dayid^_generally, so^Tär as th'ey truly littaine3.~fo the 
relation of childrenoT'^God. So long as Solomon walked in 
the ways of the Lord, he ruled over all the kingdoms from 
the river (Euphrates) to the border of Egypt (1 Kings v. 1) ; 
but when his heart turned away from the Lord in his old age, 
adversaries rose up against him (1 Kings xi. 14 sqq., 23 sqq.), 
and after his death the greater part of the kingdom was rent 
from his son. The seed of David was chastised for its sins ; 
and as its apostasy continued, it was humbled yet more and 
more, until the earthly throne of David became extinct. Never- 
theless the Lord did not cause His mercy to depart from him. 
When the house of David had fallen into decay, Jesus Christ 
was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, to raise up 
the throne of His father David again, and to reign for ever as 
King over the house of Jacob (Luke i. 32, 33), and to establish 
the house and kingdom of David for ever. — In ver. 16, where 
the promise returns to David again with the words, " thy house 
and thy kingdom shall be established for ever," the expression 
^^"?Z. (before thee), which the LXX. and Syriac have arbitrarily 
changed into "'^2? (before me), should be particularly observed. 
David, as the tribe-father and lounder^oFthe^ line of kings, is 
regarded either " as seeing all his descendants pass before him 
in a vision," as O. v. Gerlach supposes, or as continuing to exist 
in his descendants. — Ver. 17. " According to all these words . . . 
did Nathan speak unto David" i.e. he related the whole to David, 
just as God had addressed it to him in the night. The clause 
in apposition, " according to all this vision," merely introduces 
a more minute definition of the peculiar form of the revelation. 
God spoke to Nathan in a vision which he had in the night, i.e. 
not in a dream, but in a waking condition, and durino; the niffht ; 
for li^^n^P^O ^s constantly distinguished from D^n, a revelation 
in a dream. 

Vers. 18-29. David's prayer and thanksgiving. — Ver. 18. 
King David came, i.e. went into the sanctuary erected upon 
Zion, and remained before Jehovah. 2^^^ remained, tarried (as 


in Gen. xxiv. 55, xxix. 19, etc.), not ^^ sat;^ for the custom of 
sitting before the Lord in the sanctuary, as the posture assumed 
in prayer, cannot be deduced from Ex. xvii. 12, where Moses 
is compelled to sit from simple exhaustion. David's prayer 
consists of two parts, — thanksgiving for the promise (vers. 
186-24), and supplication for its fulfilment (vers. 25-29). The 
thanksgiving consists of a confession of unworthiness of all 
the great things that the Lord had hitherto done for him, and 
which He had still further increased by this glorious promise 
(vers. 18-21), and praise to the Lord that all this had been 
done in proof of His true Deity, and to glorify His name upon 
His chosen people Israel. — Ver. 18Z>. " Who ayn I, Lord 
Jehovah ? and who my house (i.e. my family), that Thou hast 
brought me hitherto ?" These words recal Jacob's prayer in 
Gen. xxxii. 10, " I am not worthy of the least of all the 
mercies," etc. David acknowledged himself to be unworthy of 
the great mercy which the Lord had displayed towards him, 
that he might give the glory to God alone (yid. Ps. viii. 5 and 
cxliv. 3). — Ver. 19. ^'Ä7id this is still too little in Thine eyes, 
Lord Jeliovah, and Thou still speakest with regard to the house of 
Thy servant for a great while to comeV pirrinp^ lit. that which 
points to a remote period, i.e. that of the eternal establishment 
of my house and throne. "And this is the law of man, O 
Lo?'d Jehovah." " The law of man " is the law which deter- 
mines or regulates the conduct of man. Hence the meaning 
of these words, which have been very differently interpreted, 
cannot, with the context immediately preceding it, be any other 
than the following : This — namely, the love and condescension 
manifested in Thy treatment of Thy servant — is the law which 
applies to man, or is conformed to the law which men are to 
observe towards men, i.e. to the law. Thou shalt love thy neigh- 
bour as thyself (Lev. xix. 18, compare Micah vi. 8). With 
this interpretation, which is confirmed by the parallel text of 
the Chronicles (in ver. 17), " Thou sawest (i.e. visitedst me, or 
didst deal with me) according to the manner of man," the 
words are expressive of praise of the condescending grace of 
the Lord. " When God the Lord, in His treatment of poor 
mortals, follows the rule which He has laid down for the con- 
duct of men one towards another, when He shows himself 
kind and affectionate, this must fill with adoring amazement 

CHAP. VII. 18-29. 351 

those who know themselves and God " (Hengstenberg). 
Luther is wrong in the rendering which he has adopted : 
"This is the manner of a man, who is God the Lord;" for 
"Lord Jehovah" is not an explanatory apposition to "man," 
but an address to God, as in the preceding and following 
clause. — Ver. 20. " And what more shall David speak to Thee ? 
Thou hwicest Thy servant, Lord Jehovah^ Instead of express- 
ing his gratitude still further in many words, David appeals to 
the omniscience of God, before whom his thankful heart lies 
open, just as in Ps. xl. 10 (compare also Ps. xvii. 3). — Yer. 21. 
^^ For Thy word's sake, and according to Thy heart (and there- 
fore not because I am worthy of such grace), hast Thou done 
all this greatness, to make it knoiun to Thy servant^ The word, 
for the sake of which God had done such great things for 
David, must be some former promise on the part of God. 
Hengstenberg supposes it to refer to the word of the Lord to 
Samuel, "Eise up and anoint him" (1 Sam. xvi. 12), which is 
apparently favoured indeed by the parallel in the corresponding 
text of 1 Chron. xvii. 19, "for Thy servant's sake," i.e. because 
Thou hast chosen Thy servant. But even this variation must 
contain some special allusion which does not exclude a general 
interpretation of the expression " for Thy word's sake," viz. an 
allusion to the earlier promises of God, or the Messianic pro- 
phecies generally, particularly the one concerning Judah in 
Jacob's blessing (Gen. xlix. 10), and the one relating to the 
ruler out of Jacob in Balaam's sayings (Num. xxiv. 17 sqq.), 
which contain the germs of the promise of the everlasting 
continuance of David's government. For the fact that David 
recognised the connection between the promise of God com- 
municated to him by Nathan and Jacob's prophecy in Gen. 
xlix. 10, is evident from 1 Chron. xxviii. 4, where he refers to 
his election as king as being the consequence of the election 
of Judah as ruler. " According to Thine own heart " is 
equivalent to " according to Thy love and grace ; for God is 
gracious, merciful, and of great kindness and truth" (Ex. 
xxxiv. 6, compare Ps. ciii. 8). n^^"'? does not mean great 
things, but greatness. 

The praise of God commences in ver. 22 : " Wherefore 
Thou art great, Jehovah God; and there is not (one) like Thee, 
and no God beside Thee, according to all that we have heard with 


our earsJ^ By the word " wherefore," i.e. because Thou hast 
done this, the praise of the singleness of God is set forth as the 
result of David's own experience. God is great when He 
manifests the greatness of His grace to men, and brings them 
to acknowledge it. And in these great deeds He proves the 
incomparable nature of His Deity, or that He alone is the true 
God. (For the fact itself, compare Ex. xv. 11 ; Deut. iii. 24, 
iv. 35.) — Ver. 23. " And where is (any) like Thy i^eople^ like 
Israel, a nation upon earth, which God loent to redeem as a 
people for himself, that He might make Him a name, and do 
great things for you, and terrible things for Thy land before 
Thy people, which Thou hast redeemed for Thee out of Egypt, 
(out of the) nations and their gods ?" "^p does not really mean 
tohere, but loho, and is to be connected with the words imme- 
diately following, viz. in^ ""ia (one nation) ; but the only way in 
which the words can be rendered into good English {German 
in the original : Tß.) is, " where is there any people," etc. The 
relative "itfX does not belong to '^'^Fil, which follows immediately 
afterwards; but, so far as the sense is concerned, it is to be taken 
as the object to nnsp, " which Elohim went to redeem." The 
construing of Elohim with a plural arises from the fact, that in 
this clause it not only refers to the true God, but also includes 
the idea of the gods of other nations. The idea, therefore, is 
not, " Is there any nation upon earth to which the only true 
God went?" but, "Is there any nation to which the deity wor- 
shipped by it went, as the true God went to Israel to redeem it 
for His own people "? " The rendering given in the Septuagint 
to ^37(1^ viz. oihr]^7]aev, merely arose from a misapprehension of 
the true sense of the words ; and the emendation "HV^'^j which 
some propose in consequence, would only distort the sense. 
The stress laid upon the incomparable character of the things 
which God had done for Israel, is merely introduced to praise 
and celebrate the God who did this as the only true God. (For 
the thought itself, compare the original passage in Deut. iv. 7, 
34.) In the clause 23^ ^"^^^^ " and to do for you," David 
addresses the people of Israel with oratorical vivacity. Instead 
of saying "to do great things to (for) Israel," he says "to do 
great things to (for) 3/0M." For you forms an antithesis to 
him, " to make Him a name, and to do great things for you 
(Israel)." The suggestion made by some, that D2? is to be 

CHAP. VII. 18-29. 353 

taken as a dativ. comm., and referred to EloJiim, no more needs 
a serious refutation than the alteration into DH?. There have 
been different opinions, however, as to the object referred to in 
the suffix attached to ^•»l^rj and it is difficult to decide between 
them ; for whilst the fact that ^V1*?? ^lixni (terrible things to 
Thy land) is governed by riib'yp (to do) favoure the allusion to 
Israel, and the sudden transition from the plural to the singular 
might be accounted for from the deep emotion of the person 
speaking, the words which follow ("before Thy people") rather 
favour the allusion to God, as it does not seem natural to take 
the suffix in two different senses in the two objects which 
follow so closely the one upon the other, viz. ^'for Thy land" 
and ^^ before Thy people;" whilst the way is prepared for a 
transition from speaking of God to speaking to God by the 
word D3? (to you). The words of Deut. x. 21 floated before 
the mind of David at the time, although he has given them a 
different turn. (On the " terrible things," see the commentary 
on Deut. x. 21 and Ex. xv. 11.) The connection of niNlj 
(terrible things) with "^-p*?? (to Thy land) shows that David 
had in mind, when speaking of the acts of divine omnipotence 
which had inspired fear and dread of the majesty of God, not 
only the miracles of God in Egypt, but also the marvellous 
extermination of the Canaanites, whereby Israel had been 
established in the possession of the promised land, and the 
people of God placed in a condition to found a kingdom. 
These acts were performed before Israel, before the nation, 
whom the Lord redeemed to himself out of Egypt. This view 
is confirmed by the last words, "nations and their gods," which 
are in apposition to " from Egypt," so that the preposition |p 
should be repeated before CjS (nations). The suffix to '^''>p^). 
(literally "and its gods") is to be regarded as distributive: 
" the gods of each of these heathen nations." In the Chronicles 
(ver. 21) the expression is simplified, and explained more clearly 
by the omission of " to Thy land," and the insertion of tTi^p, 
" to drive out nations from before Thy people." It has been 
erroneously inferred from this, that the text of our book is 
corrupt, and ought to be emended, or at any rate interpreted 
according to the Chronicles. But whilst ^^'l^r is certainly not 
to be altered into t^lj?, it is just as wrong to do as Hengsten- 
berg proposes, — namely, to take the thought expressed in lJ*w 



from the preceding Hib^y^ by assuming a zeugma ; for HE^y^ to 
do or make, has nothing in common with driving or clearing 
away. — Ver. 24. " And Thou hast established to thyself Thy 
people Israel to he a people unto Thee for ever: and Thou, 
Jehovah, hast become a God to them." The first clause does not 
refer merely to the liberation of Israel out of Egypt, or to the 
conquest of Canaan alone, but to all that the Lord had done for 
the establishment of Israel as the people of His possession, from 
the time of Moses till His promise of the eternal continuance 
of the throne of David. Jehovah had thereby become God to 
the nation of Israel, i.e. had thereby attested and proved him- 
self to be its God. 

To this praise of the acts of the Lord there is attached 
in vers. 25 sqq. the prayer for the fulfilment of His glorious 
promise. Would Jehovah set up (i.e. carry out) the word 
which He had spoken to His servant that His name might be 
great, i.e. be glorified, through its being said, " The Lord of 
Sabaoth is God over Israel," and "the house of Thy servant will 
be firm before Thee." The prayer is expressed in the form oi 
confident assurance. — Ver. 27. David felt himself encouraged 
to offer this prayer through the revelation which he had 
received. Because God had promised to build him a house, 
" therefore Thy servant hath found in his heart to pray this 
prayer," i.e. hath found joy in doing so. — Vers. 28, 29. David 
then briefly sums up the two parts of his prayer of thanks- 
giving in the two clauses commencing with nnyi^ " and now." — 
In ver. 28 he sums up the contents of vers. 186-24 by celebrat- 
ing the greatness of the Lord and His promise ; and in ver. 
29 the substance of the prayer in vers. 25-27. 'ni^l ^^^^, may 
it please Thee to bless (?"'Kin ; see at Deut. i. 5). " And from 
(out of) Thy blessing may the house of Thy servant be blessed 
for ever." 


To the promise of the establishment of his throne there is 
appended a general enumeration of the wars by which David 
secured the supremacy of Israel over all his enemies round 
about. In this survey all the nations are included with which 

CHAP. VIII. 1. 355 

war had ever been waged by David, and which he had con- 
quered and rendered tributary : the PhiHstines and Moabites, tlie 
Syrians of Zobah and Damascus, Toi of Hamath, the Ammonites, 
Amalekites, and Edomites. It is very evident from this, that 
the chapter before us not only treats of the wars which David 
carried on after receiving the divine promise mentioned in ch. 
vii., but of all the wars of his entire reign. The only one of 
which we have afterwards a fuller account is the war with the 
Ammonites and their allies the Syrians (ch. x. and xi.), and 
this is given on account of its connection with David's adultery. 
In the survey before us, the war with the Ammonites is only 
mentioned quite cursorily in ver. 12, in the account of the booty 
taken from the different nations, which David dedicated to the 
Lord. With regard to the other wars, so far as the principal 
purpose was concerned, — namely, to record the history of the 
kingdom of God, — it was quite sufficient to give a general state- 
ment of the fact that these nations were smitten by David and 
subjected to his sceptre. But if this chapter contains a survey 
of all the wars of David with the nations that were hostile to 
Israel, there can be no doubt that the arrangement of the 
several events is not strictly regulated by their chronological 
order, but that homogeneous events are grouped together 
according to a material point of view. There is a parallel to 
this chapter in 1 Chron. xviii. 

Ver. 1. Subjugation of the Philistines. — In the intro- 
ductory formula, " And it came to pass afterwards," the expres- 
sion " afterwards " cannot refer specially to the contents of 
ch. vii., for reasons also given, but simply serves as a general 
formula of transition to attach what follows to the account just 
completed, as a thing that happened afterwards. This is incon- 
testably evident from a comparison of ch. x. 1, where the war 
with the Ammonites and Syrians, the termination and result of 
which are given in the present chapter, is attached to what pre- 
cedes by the same formula, " It came to pass afterwards " (cf. 
ch. xiii. 1). " David smote the Philistines and subdued them, and 
took the bridle of the mother out of the hand of the Philistines,'' 
i.e. wrested the government from them and made them tribu- 
tary. The figurative expression Metheg-ammah, " bridle of the 
mother," i.e. the capital, has been explained by Alb. Schultens 


(on Job XXX. 11) from an Arabic idiom, in which giving up 
one's bridle to another is equivalent to submitting to him. 
Gesenius also gives several proofs of this {Thes. p. 113). 
Others, for example Ewald, render it arm-bridle ; but there 
is not a single passage to support the rendering " arm " for 
ammah. The word is a feminine form of Di?, mother, and only- 
used in a tropical sense. " Mother " is a term applied to the 
chief city or capital, both in Arabic and Phoenician (cid. Ges. 
Thes. p. 112). The same figure is also adopted in Hebrew, 
where the towns dependent upon the capital are called its 
daughters {vid. Josh. xv. 45, 47). In 1 Chron. xviii. 1 the 
figurative expression is dropped for the more literal one : 
" David took Gath and its daughters out of the hand of the 
Philistines," i.e. he wrested Gath and the other towns from the 
Philistines. The Philistines had really five cities, every one 
with a prince of its own (Josh. xiii. 3). This was the case 
even in the time of Samuel (1 Sam. vi. 16, 17). But in the 
closing years of Samuel, Gath had a king who stood at the head 
of all the princes of the Philistines (1 Sam. xxix. 2 sqq., cf. 
xxvii. 2). Thus Gath became the capital of the land of the 
Philistines, which held the bridle (or reins) of Philistia in its 
own hand. The author of the Chronicles has therefore given 
the correct explanation of the figure. The one suggested by 
Ewald, Bertheau, and others, cannot be correct, — namely, that 
David wrested from the Philistines the power which they had 
hitherto exercised over the Israelites. The simple meaning of 
the passage is, that David wrested from the Philistines the 
power which the capital had possessed over the towns de- 
pendent upon it, i.e. over the whole of the land of Philistia ; in 
other words, he brought the capital (Gath) and the other towns 
of Philistia into his own power. The reference afterwards 
made to a king of Gath in the time of Solomon in 1 Kings 
ii. 39 is by no means at variance with this ; for the king alluded 
to was one of the tributary sovereigns, as we may infer from 
the fact that Solomon ruled over all the kings on this side of 
the Euphrates as far as to Gaza (1 Kings v. 1, 4). 

Ver. 2. Subjugation of Moab. — "^e smote Moah {i.e. 
the Moabites), and measured them with the line, making tliem lie 
down upon the ground^ and measured tivo lines (i.e. two parts) 

CHAP. VIII. 3-8. 357 

to put to death, and one line full to keep alive." Nothing 
further is known about either the occasion or the history of 
this war, with the exception of the cursory notice in 1 Chron. 
xi. 22, that Benaiah, one of David's heroes, smote two sons of 
the king of Moab, which no doubt took place in the same war. 
In the earhest period of his flight from Saul, David had met 
with a hospitable reception from the king of Moab, and had 
even taken his parents to him for safety (1 Sam. xxii. 3, 4). 
But the Moabites must have very grievously oppressed the 
Israelites afterwards, that David should have inflicted a severer 
punishment upon them after their defeat, than upon any other 
of the nations that he conquered, with the exception of the 
Ammonites (ch. xii. 31), upon whom he took vengeance for 
having most shamefully insulted his ambassadors (ch. x. 2 
sqq.). The punishment inflicted, however, was of course re- 
stricted to the fighting men who had been taken prisoners by 
the Israelites. They were ordered to lie down in a row upon 
the earth ; and then the row was measured for the purpose of 
putting two-thirds to death, and leaving one-third alive. The 
Moabites were then made " servants " to David (i.e. they 
became his subjects), ^'bringing gifts'^ {i.e. paying tribute). 

Vers. 3-8. Conquest and Subjugation of the King 


situation of Zobah cannot be determined. The view held by 
the Syrian church historians, and defended by Michaelis, viz. 
that Zobah was the ancient Nisibis in northern Mesopotamia, 
has no more foundation to rest upon than that of certain 
Jewish writers who suppose it to have been A leppo, the present 
Haleb. Aleppo is too far north for Zobah, and Nisibis is quite 
out of the range of the towns and tribes in connection with 
which the name of Zobah occurs. In 1 Sam. xiv. 47, com- 
pared with ver. 12 of this chapter, Zobah, or Aram Zobah as 
it is called in ch. x. 6 and Ps. Ix. 2, is mentioned along with 
Ammon, Moab, and Edom, as a neighbouring tribe and king- 
dom to the Israelites ; and, according to vers. 3, 5, and 9 of 
the present chapter, it is to be sought for in the vicinity of 
Damascus and Hamath towards the Euphrates. These data 
point to a situation to the north-east of Damascus and south 
of Hamath, between the Orontes and Euphrates, and in fact 


extending as far as the latter according to ver. 3, whilst, 
according to ch. x. 16, it even reached beyond it with its 
vassal-chiefs into Mesopotamia itself. Ewald (^Gesch. iii. p. 
195) has therefore combined Zohah, which was no doubt the 
capital, and gave its name to the kingdom, with the Sähe 
mentioned in Ptol. v. 19, — a town in the same latitude as 
Damascus, and farther east towards the Euphrates. The king 
of Zobah at the time referred to is called Hadadezer in the 
text (i.e. whose help is Hadad); but in ch. x. 16-19 and 
throughout the Chronicles he is called Hadarezer. The first 
is the original form ; for Hadad, the name of the sun-god of 
the Syrians, is met with in several other instances in Syrian 
names (yid. Movers, Phönizier). David smote this king ^^ as 
he toas going to restore his strength at the river (Euphrates)." 
iT» y^^n cloes not mean to turn his hand, but signifies to return 
his hand, to stretch it out again over or against any one, in all 
the passages in which the expression occurs. It is therefore 
to be taken in a derivative sense in the passage before us, as 
signifying to restore or re-establish his sway. The expression 
used in the Chronicles (ver, 3), n^ ^''^n, has just the same 
meaning, since establishing or making fast presupposes a 
previous weakening or dissolution. Hence the subject of the 
sentence "as he went," etc., must be Hadadezer and not David; 
for David could not have extended his power to the Euphrates 
before the defeat of Hadadezer. The Masoretes have inter- 
polated P'rath (Euphrates) after " the river" as in the text of 
the Chronicles. This is correct enough so far as the sense is 
concerned, but it is by no means necessary, as the nahar (the 
river k. i^.) is quite sufficient of itself to indicate the Euphrates. 
There is also a war between David and Hadadezer and 
other kings of Syria mentioned in ch. x.; and the commentators 
all admit that that war, in which David defeated these kings 
when they came to the help of the Ammonites, is connected 
with the war mentioned in the present chapter. But the con- 
nection is generally supposed to be this, that the first of David's 
Aramaean wars is given in ch. viii., the second in ch. x. ; 
for no other reason, however, than because ch. x. stands after 
ch. viii. This view is decidedly an erroneous one. According 
to the chapter before us, the war mentioned there terminated 
in the complete subjugation of the Aramasan kings and king- 

CHAP. VIII. 3-8. 359 

doms. Aram became subject to David, paying tribute (ver. 6;. 
Now, though the revolt of subjugated nations from their con 
querors is by no means a rare thing in history, and therefore 
it is perfectly conceivable in itself that the Aramaeans should 
have fallen away from David when he was involved in the war 
with the Ammonites, and should have gone to the help of the 
Ammonites, such an assumption is precluded by the fact that 
there is nothing in ch. x. about any falling away or revolt of 
the Aramaeans from David ; but, on the contrary, these tribes 
appear to be still entirely independent of David, and to be 
hired by the Ammonites to fight against him. But what is 
absolutely decisive against this assumption, is the fact that the 
number of Aramaeans killed in the two wars is precisely the 
same (compare ver. 4 with ch. x. 18) : so that it may safely be 
inferred, not only that the war mentioned in ch. x., in which 
the Aramaeans who had come to the help of the Ammonites 
were smitten by David, was the very same as the Aramaean war 
mentioned in ch. viii., but of which the result only is given ; 
but also that all the wars which David waged with the Ara- 
maeans, like his war with Edom (vers. 13 sqq.), arose out of 
the Ammonitish war (ch. x.), and the fact that the Ammonites 
enlisted the help of the kings of Aram against David (ch. x. 6). 
^Ve also obtain from ch. x. an explanation of the expression 
" as he went to restore his power (Eng. Ver. ' recover his 
border') at the river," since it is stated there that Hadadezer 
was defeated by Joab the first time, and that, after sustaining 
this defeat, he called the Aramaeans on the other side of the 
Euphrates to his assistance, that he might continue the war 
against Israel with renewed vigour (ch. x. 13, 15 sqq.). The 
power of Hadadezer had no doubt been crippled by his first 
defeat ; and in order to restore it, he procured auxiliary troops 
from Mesopotamia with which to attack David, but he was 
defeated a second time, and obliged to submit to him (ch. x. 
17, 18). In this second engagement "David took from him (i.e. 
captured) seventeen hundred horse-soldiers and twenty thousand 
fooV (ver. 4, compare ch. x. 18). This decisive battle took 
place, according to 1 Chron. xviii. 3, in the neighbourhood of 
Hamath, i.e. Epiphania on the Orontes (see at Num. xiii. 21, 
and Gen. x. 18), or, according to ch. x. 18 of this book, at 
Helam, — a difference which may easily be reconciled by the 


simple assumption that the unknown Helam was soi .|,j}gf 
near to Hamath. Instead of 1700 horse-soldiers, wl •. ,-<.„ 
the Chronicles (1, xviii. 4) 1000 chariots and 7000 h( .^men. 
Consequently the word receb has no doubt dropped out after 
^^X in the text before us, and the numeral denoting a thousand 
has been confounded with the one used to denote a hundred ; 
for in tiie plains of Syria seven thousand horsemen would be a 
much juster proportion to twenty thousand foot than se ^teen 
hundred. (For further remarks, see at ch. x. 18.) And 
David lamed all the cavalry^'' i.e. he made the war-char* cs and 
cavalry perfectly useless by laming the horses (see at Josh. xi. 
6, 9), — " and only left a hundred horses J' The word / eb in 
these clauses signifies the war-horses generally, — not merely the 
carriage-horses, but the riding-horses as well, — as the meaning 
cavalry is placed beyond all doubt by Isa. xxi. 7, and it can 
hardly be imagined that David would have spared the riding- 
horses. — Vers. 5, 6. After destroying the main force of Hadad- 
ezer, David turned against his ally, against Aram-Damascus^ 
i.e. the Aramaeans, whose capital was Damascus. Dammesek 
(for which we have Darmesek in the Chronicles according to 
its Aramaean form), Damascus, a very ancient and still a very 
important city of Syria, standing upon the Chrysorrhoa 'Phar- 
par), which flows through the centre of it. It is situated in the 
midst of paradisaical scenery, on the eastern side of the Anti- 
libanus, on the road which unites Western Asia with the inte- 
rior. David smote 22,000 Syrians of Damascus, placed garrisons 
in the kingdom, and made it subject and tributary. 0"'?''^^ are 
not governors or officers, but military posts, garrisons, as in 
1 Sam. X. 5, xiii. 3. — Ver. 7. Of the booty taken in these wars, 
David carried the golden shields which he took fi'om the ser- 
vants, i.e. the governors and vassal princes, of Hadadezer, to 
Jerusalem.^ Shelet signifies "a shield," according to the Targums 

^ The Septuagint has this additional clause : " And Shishak the king 
of Egypt took them away, when he went up against Jerusalem in the 
days of Rehoboam the son of Solomon," which is neither to be found in 
the Chronicles nor in any other ancient version, and is merely an inference 
drawn by the Greek translator, or by some copyist of the LXX., from 1 
Kings xiv. 25-28, taken in connection with the fact that the application 
of the brass is given in 1 Chron. xviii. 8. But, in the first place, the author 
of this gloss has overlooked the fact that the golden shields of Rehoboam 
which Shishak carried away, were not those captured by David, but those 

CHAP. VIII. 3-8. 361 

doms. bins, and this meaning is applicable to all the passages 
Now '^ the word occurs ; whilst the meaning " equivalent " 
cannoL oe sustained either by the rendering iravoirkia adopted 
by Aquila and Symmachus in 2 Kings xi. 10, or by the render- 
ings of the Vulgate, viz. arma in loc. and armatura in Song of 
Sol. iv. 4, or by an appeal to the etymology {yid. Gesenius' 
Thes. and Dietrich's Lexicon). — Ver. 8. And from the cities of 
Beta<^ 'and Berothai David took very much brass, with wdiich, 
accoi g to 1 Chron. xviii. 8, Solomon made the brazen sea, 
and th-ibrazen columns and vessels of the temple. The LXX. 
have also interpolated this notice into the text. The name 
Betac. J»« given as Tihhath in the Chronicles ; and for Berothai 
we have Chun. As the towns themselves are unknown, it can- 
not be decided with certainty which of the forms and names 
are the correct and original ones. ntpiiD appears to have been 
written by mistake for n^tsp. This supposition is favoured by 
the rendering of the LXX., e/c tt}^ MejeßaK ; and by that of 
the Syriac also (viz. Tehach). On the other hand, the occur- 
rence of the name Tebah among the sons of Nahor the Aramcean 
in Gen. xxii. 24 proves little or nothing, as it is not known that 
he founded a family which perpetuated his name ; nor can any- 
thing ^ ■ inferred from the fact that, according to the more 
modern maps, there is a town of Tayiheh to the north of Damas- 
cus in 35° north lat., as there is very little in common between 
the names Tayiheh and Tebah. Ewald connects Berothai w ith the 
Barathena of Ptol. v. 19 in the neighbourhood of Saba. The 
connection is a possible one, but it is not sufficiently certain to 
warrant. us in founding any conclusions upon it with regard to 
the name Chun which occurs in the Chronicles ; so that there is 

which Solomon had had made, according to 1 Kings x. 16, for the retainers 
of his palace ; and in the second place, he has not observed that, according 
to ver. 11 of this chapter, and also of the Chronicles, David dedicated to 
the Lord all the gold and silver that he had taken, i.e. put it iu the trea- 
sury of the sanctuary to be reserved for the future temple, and that at the 
end of his reign he handed over to his son and successor Solomon all the 
gold, silver, iron, and brass that he had collected for the purpose, to be 
applied to the building of the temple (1 Chron. xxii. 14 sqq., xxix. 2 sqq.). 
Consequently the clause in question, which Thenius would adopt from the 
Septuagint into our own text, is nothing more than the production of a 
presumptiious Alexandrian, whose error lies upon the very surface, so that 
the question of its genuineness cannot for a moment be entertained. 


no ground whatever for the opinion that it is a corruption of 

Vers. 9-12. After the defeat of the king of Zobah and his 
alHe?, Toi king of Hamath sought for David's friendship, 
sending his son to salute him, and conveying to him at the 
same time a considerable present of vessels of silver, gold, and 
brass. The name Toi is written Tou in the Chronicles, accord- 
ing to a different mode of interpretation ; and the name of the 
son is given as Hadoram in the Chronicles, instead of Joram as 
in the text before us. The former is evidently the true reading, 
and Joram an error of the pen, as the Israelitish name Joram 
is not one that we should expect to find among Aramaeans ; 
whilst Hadoram occurs in 1 Chron. i. 21 in the midst of Arabic 
names, and it cannot be shown that the Hadoram or Adoram 
mentioned in 2 Chron. x. 18 and 1 Kings xii. 18 was a man of 
Israelitish descent. The primary object of the mission was to 
salute David ("to ask him of peace;" cf. Gen. xliii. 27, etc.), 
and to congratulate him upon his victory ("to bless him because 
he had fought," etc.) ; for Toi had had wars with Hadadezer. 
"^ ')nan of war s^^ signifies a man who wages wars (cf. 1 Chron. 
xxviii. 3 ; Isa. xlii. 13). According to 1 Chron. xviii. 3, the 
territory of the king of Hamath bordered upon that of Hadad- 
ezer, and the latter had probably tried to make king Toi submit 
to him. The secret object of the salutation, however, was no 
doubt to secure the friendship of this new and powerful neigh- 
bour. — Vers. 11, 12. David also sanctified Toi's presents to the 
Lord (handed them over to the treasury of the sanctuary), 
together with the silver and ijold which he had sanctified from 
all the conquered nations, from Aram, Moab, etc. Instead of 
{^'^^pn -IC'X the text of the Chronicles has NK'J IB'K, which he 

• ; • V -; TT V —,J 

took, i.e. took as booty. Both are equally correct ; there is 
simply a somewhat different turn given to the thought.^ In the 
enumeration of the conquered nations in ver. 12, the text of 
the Chronicles differs from that of the book before us. In the 

^ Bertheau erroneously maintains that xbj "IK'X, which he took, is at 
variance with 2 Sam. viii. 7, as, according to this passage, the golden 
shields of Hadadezer did not become the property of the Lord. But there 
is not a word to that effect in 2 Sam. viii. 7. On the contrary, his taking 
the shields to Jerusalem implies, rather than precludes, the intention to 
devote them to the purposes of the sanctuary. 

CHAP. VIII. 13, 14. 3d3 

first place, we find "from Edom^' instead of "from Aram ;" 
and secondly, the clause " and of the spoil of Hadadezer, son of 
Behob king of Zobah,'^ is altogether wanting there. The text 
of the Chronicles is certainly faulty here, as the name of Aram 
(Syria) could not possibly be omitted. Edom could much 
better be left out, not " because the conquest of Edom belonged 
to a later period," as Movers maintains, but because the con- 
quest of Edom is mentioned for the first time in the subsequent 
verses. But if we bear in mind that in ver. 12 of both texts 
not only are those tribes enumerated the conquest of which 
had been already noticed, but all the tribes that David ever 
defeated and subjugated, even the Ammonites and Amalekites, 
to the war with whom no allusion whatever is made in the 
present chapter, we shall see that Edom could not be omitted. 
Consequently " from Syria " must have dropped out of the 
text of the Chronicles, and "from Edom^' out of the one before 
us ; so that the text in both instances ran originally thus, 
" from Syria, and from Edom, and from Moab." For even in 
the text before us, " from Aram" (Syria) could not well be 
omitted, notwithstanding the fact that the booty of Hadadezer 
is specially mentioned at the close of the verse, for the simple 
reason that David not only made war upon Syria-Zobah (the 
kingdom of Hadadezer) and subdued it, but also upon Syria- 
Damascus, which was quite independent of Zobah. 

Vers. 13, 14. " A7id David made (himself) a name, when he 
returned from smiting (i.e. from the defeat of) Aram, (and smote 
Edom) in the valley of Salt,' eighteen thousand men." The words 
enclosed in brackets are wanting in the Masoretic text as it has 
come down to us, and must have fallen out from a mistake of 
the copyist, whose eye strayed from D"JX"nK to DHSTIX ; for 
though the text is not " utterly unintelligible " without these 
words, since the passage might be rendered " after he had 
smitten Aram in the valley of Salt eighteen thousand men," 
yet this would be decidedly incorrect, as the Aramaeans were 
not smitten in the valley of Salt, but partly at Medeha (1 Chron. 
xix. 7) and Helam (ch. x. 17), and partly in their own land, 
which was very far away from the Salt valley. Moreover, the 
difficulty presented by the text cannot be removed, as Movers 
supposes, by changing D"iK"nx (Syria) into DilKTiX (Edom), as 
the expression Üt^'3 ("when he returned") would still be un 


explained. The facts were probably these : Whilst Davici, or 
rather Israel, was entangled in the war with the Ammonites 
and Aramseans, the Edomites seized upon the opportunity, 
which appeared to them a very favourable one, to invade the 
land of Israel, and advanced as far as the southern extremity 
of the Dead Sea. As soon, therefore, as the Aramseans were 
defeated and subjugated, and the Israelitish army had returned 
from this war, David ordered it to march against the Edomites, 
and defeated them in the valley of Salt. This valley cannot 
have been any other than the Ghor adjoining the Salt mountain 
on the south of the Dead Sea, which really separates the ancient 
territories of Judah and Edom (Robinson, Pal. ii. 483). There 
Amaziah also smote the Edomites at a later period (2 Kings 
xiv. 7). We gather more concerning this war of David from 
the text of the Chronicles (ver. 12) taken in connection with 
I Kings xi. 15, 16, and Ps. Ix. 2. According to the Chronicles, 
it was Abishai the son of Zeruiah who smote the Edomites. 
This agrees very well not only with the account in ch. x. 10 
sqq., to the effect that Abishai commanded a company in the 
war with the Syrians and Ammonites under the generalship of 
his brother Joab, but also with the heading to Ps. Ix., in which 
it is stated that Joab returned after the defeat of Aram, and 
smote the Edomites in the valley of Salt, twelve thousand men ; 
and with 1 Kings xi. 15, 16, in which we read that when David 
was in Edom, Joab, the captain of the host, came up to bury 
the slain, and smote every male in Edom, and remained six 
months in Edom with all Israel, till he had cut off every male 
in Edom. From this casual but yet elaborate notice, we learn 
that the war with the Edomites was a very obstinate one, and 
was not terminated all at once. The difference as to the 
number slain, which is stated to have been 18,000 in the text 
before us and in the Chronicles, and 12,000 in the heading 
to Ps. Ix., may be explained in a very simple manner, on the 
supposition that the reckonings made were only approximative, 
and yielded different results ;^ and the fact that David is named 

^ Michaelis adduces a case in point from the Seven Years' War. After 
the battle of Lissa, eight or twelve thousand men were reported to have 
been taken prisoners ; but when they were all counted, including those 
who fell into the hands of the conquerors on the second, third, and fourth 
days of the flight, the number amounted to 22,000. 

CHAP. VIII. 15-18. 365 

as the victor in the verse before us, Joah in Ps. Ix., and Ahishai 
in the Chronicles, admits of a very easy explanation after what 
has just been observed. The Chronicles contain the most literal 
account. Abishai smote the Edomites as commander of the 
men engaged, Joab as commander-in-chief of the whole army, 
and David as king and supreme governor, of whom the writer 
of the Chronicles affirms, " The Lord helped David in all 
his undertakings." After the defeat of the Edomites, David 
placed garrisons in the land, and made all Edom subject to 

Vers. 15-18. David's Ministers. — To the account of 
David's wars and victories there is appended a list of his official 
attendants, which is introduced with a general remark as to 
the spirit of his government. As king over all Israel, David 
continued to execute right and justice. — Ver. 16. The chief 
ministers were the following : — Joah (see at ch. ii. 18) was 
" over the army^^ i.e. commander-in-chief. Jelioshaphat the 
son of Ahilud, of whom nothing further is known, was mazcir, 
chancellor ; not merely the national annalist, according to the 
Septuagint and Vulgate (c'ttI rwv vTrofivijfjidTcov, vTrofxvrjfxaro- 
7pa<^09 ; a cominentariis), i.e. the recorder of the most important 
incidents and affairs of the nation, but an officer resembling 
the magister memorice of the later Romans, or the loaka nuvis 
of the Persian court, who keeps a record of everything that 
takes place around the king, furnishes him with an account of 
all that occurs in the kingdom, places his vise upon all the 
king's commands, and keeps a special protocol of all these 
things (yid. Chardin, Voyages v. p. 258, and Paulsen, Regierung 
der Morgenländer, pp. 279-80). — Ver. 17. Zadok the son of 
Ahitub, of the line of Eleazar (1 Chron. v. 34, vi. 37, 38), and 
Ahimelech the son of Abiathar, were cohanim, i.e. officiating 
high priests ; the former at the tabernacle at Gibeon (1 Chron. 
xvi. 39), the latter probably at the ark of the covenant upon 
Mount Zion. Instead of Ahimelech, the Chronicles have 
Ahimelech, evidently through a copyist's error, as the name is 
written Ahimelech in 1 Chron. xxiv. 3, 6. But the expression 
^^ Ahimelech the son of Ahiathar" is apparently a very strange 
one, as Abiathar was a son of Ahimelech according to 1 Sam. 
xxii. 20, and in other passages Zadok and Ahiathar are men- 


tioned as the two high priests in the time of David (ch. x-v. 24, 
35, xvii. 15, xix. 12, xx. 25). This difference cannot be set 
aside, as Movers, Thenius, Ewald, and others suppose, by 
transposing the names, so as to read Abiathar the son of 
Ahimelech ; for such a solution is precluded by the fact that, 
in 1 Chron. xxiv. 3, 6, 31, Ahimelech is mentioned along with 
Zadok as head of the priests of the line of Ithamar, and accord- 
ing to ver. 6 he was the son of Abiathar. It would therefore 
be necessary to change the name Ahimelech into Abiathar in 
this instance also, both in ver. 3 and ver. 6, and in the latter 
to transpose the two names. But there is not the slightest 
probability in the supposition that the names have been changed 
in so many passages. We are therefore disposed to adopt the 
view held by Bertheau and Oehler, viz. that Abiathar the high 
priest, the son of Ahimelech, had also a son named Ahimelech, 
as it is by no means a rare occurrence for grandfather and 
grandson to have the same names {vid. 1 Chron. v. 30-41), 
and also that this (the younger) Ahimelech performed the 
duties of high priest in connection with his father, who was 
still living at the commencement of Solomon's reign (1 Kings 
ii. 27), and is mentioned in this capacity, along with Zadok, 
both here and in the book of Chronicles, possibly because 
Abiathar was ill, or for some other reason that we cannot dis- 
cover. As Abiathar was thirty or thirty-five years old at the 
time when his father was put to death by Saul, according to 
what has already been observed at 1 Sam. xiv. 3, and forty 
years old at the death of Saul, he was at least forty-eight years 
old at the time when David removed his residence to Mount 
Zion, and might have had a son of twenty-five years of age, 
namely the Ahimelech mentioned here, who could have taken 
his father's place in the performance of the functions of high 
priest when he was prevented by illness or other causes. The 
appearance of a son of Abiathar named Jonathan in ch. xv. 27, 
xvii. 17, 20, is no valid argument against this solution of the 
apparent discrepancy ; for, according to tliese passages, he was 
still very young, and may therefore have been a younger brother 
of Ahimelech. The omission of any allusion to Ahimelech in 
connection with Abiathar's conspiracy with Adonijah against 
Solomon (1 Kings i. 42, 43), and the reference to his son 
Jonathan alone, might be explained on the supposition that 

CHAP. VIII. 15-18. 367, 

Ahimelecli had already died. But as there is no reference to 
Jonathan at the time when his father was deposed, no stress is 
to be laid upon the omission of any reference to Ahimelech. 
Moreover, when Abiathar was deposed after Solomon had 
ascended the throne, he must have been about eighty years of 
age. Seraiah was a scribe. Instead of Seraiak, we have Shavsha 
in the corresponding text of the Chronicles, and Sheva in the 
parallel passage ch. xx. 25. Whether the last name is merely 
a mistake for Shavsha, occasioned by the dropping of K', or an 
abbreviated form of Shisha and Shavsha, cannot be decided. 
Shavsha is not a copyist's error, for in 1 Kings iv. 3 the same 
man is unquestionably mentioned again under the name of 
Shisha, who is called Shavsha in the Chronicles, Sheva {^\^) in 
the text of ch. xx. 25, and here Seraiah. Seraiah also is hardly 
a copyist's error, but another form for Shavsha or Shisha. The 
scribe was a secretary of state ; not a military officer, whose 
duty it was to raise and muster the troops, for the technical 
expression for mustering the people was not "i2p, but "ipS (cf. 
ch. xxiv. 2, 4, 9 ; 1 Chron. xxi. 5, 6, etc.). 

Ver. 18. Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, a very brave hero 
of Kabzeel (see at ch. xxiii. 20 sqq.), was over the Crethi and 
Plethi. Instead of ''J^'?.?'!!''!, which gives no sense, and must be 
connected in some way with 1 Kings i. 38, 44, we must read 
wan bv according to the parallel passage ch. xx. 23, and the 
corresponding text of the Chronicles. The Crethi and Plethi 
were the king's body-guard, a(ofjbaTO(jiv\aKe<i (Josephus, Ant. 
vii. 5, 4). The words are adjectives in form, but with a sub- 
stantive meaning, and were used to indicate a certain rank, lit. 
the executioners and runners, like ''^vt^D (ch. xxiii. 8). ''J^'?.?, 
from n"i3, to cut down or exterminate, signifies confessor, because 
among the Israelites (see at 1 Kings ii. 25), as in fact through- 
out the East generally, the royal halberdiers had to execute the 
sentence of death upon criminals. "'O.ct'j from ripQ (to fly, or be 
swift), is related to tDpS, and signifies runners. It is equivalent 
to r^, a courier, as one portion of the halberdiers, like the 
a'yyapoi, of the Persians, had to convey the king's orders to 
distant places (yid. 2 Chron. xxx. 6). This explanation is con- 
firmed by the fact that the epithet 0""^^!^"! ^isn was afterwards 
applied to the king's body-guard (2 Kings xi. 4, 19), and that 
nsn for ^n?.?'!' occurs as early as ch. xx. 23. "'I^, from "^^i. 


fodit^ perfodit, is used In the same sense.-^ And David's sons 
were D''?l!3 ("confidants"); not priests, domestic priests, court 
chaplains, or spiritual advisers, as Gesenius, De Wette, and 
others maintain, but, as the title is explained in the correspond- 
ing text of the Chronicles, when the title had become obsolete, 
" the .first at the hand (or side) of the king." The correctness 

1 Gesenius {Tlies. s. vv.) and Thenius (on 1 Kings i. 38) both adopt 
this explanation ; but the majority of the modern theologians decide in 
favour of Lakemacher's opinion, to which Ewald has given currency, viz. 
that the Crethi or Cari are Cretes or Carians, and the Pelethi Philistines 
(vid. Ewald, Krit. Gramm, p. 297, and Gesch. des Volkes Israel, pp. 330 
sqq. ; Bertheau, zur Geschichte Israel, p. 197 ; Movers, Phönizier i. p. 19). 
This view is chiefly founded upon the fact that the Philistines are called 
Crethi in 1 Sam. xxx. 14, and CWethim in Zeph. ii. 5 and Ezek. xxv. 16. 
But in both the passages from the prophets the name is used with special 
reference to the meaning of the word rfian, viz. to exterminate, cut off, 
as Jerome has shown in the case of Ezekiel by adopting the rendering 
interficiam interfectores (I will slay the slayers) for DTllSTIX "Tll^n. The 
same play upon the words takes place in Zephaniah, upon which Strauss 
has correctly observed : " Zephaniah shows that this violence of theirs had 
not been forgotten, calling the Philistines Crethim for that very reason, ut 
sit nomen et omen.'''' Besides, in both these passages the true name Philistines 
stands by the side as well, so that the prophets might have used the name 
Crethim (slayers, exterminators) without thinking at all of 1 Sam. xxx. 14. 
In this passage it is true the name Crethi is applied to a branch of the 
Philistine people that had settled on the south-west of Philistia, and not to 
the Philistines generally. The idea that the name of a portion of the royal 
body-guard was derived from the Cretans is precluded, first of all, by the 
fact of its combination with Tl^Sn (the Pelethites) ; for it is a totally 
groundless assumption that this name signifies the Philistines, and is a 
corruption of D'TIK'^JQ. There are no such contractions as these to be 
found in the Semitic languages, as Gesenius observes in his Thesaurus (I.e.), 
" Quis hujusmodi contractionem in Unguis Semiticis ferat? " Secondly, it 
is also precluded by the strangeness of such a combination of two synony- 
mous names to denote the royal body-guard. " Who could believe it 
possible that two synonymous epithets should be joined together in this 
manner, which would be equivalent to saying Englishmen and Britons?" 
(Ges. Thes. p. 1107.) Thirdbi, it is opposed to the title afterwards given 
to the body-guard, D''^*-ini """IDn (2 Kings xi. 4, 19), in which the Cari 
correspond to the Crethi, as in ch. xx. 23, and ha-razim to the Pelethi; 
so that the term pelethi can no more signify a particular tribe than the 
term razim can. Moreover, there are other grave objections to this inter- 
pretation. In the first place, the hypothesis that the Philistines were 
emigrants from Crete is merely founded upon the very indefinite statements 

CHAP. viir. 15-18. 369 

of this explanation is placed beyond the reach of doubt by 
1 Kings iv. 5, where the cohen is called, by way of explanation, 
" the king's friend." The title cohen may be explained from 
the primary signification of the verb 1^3, as shown in the 
corresponding verb and noun in Arabic (" res alicujus gerere" 
and " administrator alieni negotii"). These cohanim, therefore, 
were the king's confidential advisers. 

of Tacitus {Hist. v. 3, 2), " Judxos Creta insula profugos novissima Libya} 
insedisse meniorant,^^ and that of Steph. Byz. (s. v. Fossae), to the effect that 
the city of Gaza was once called Minoa, from Minos a king of Crete, — 
statements which, according to the correct estimate of Strauss (I.e.), " have 
all so evidently the marks of fables that they hardly merit discussion," at 
all events when opposed to the historical testimony of the Old Testament 
(Deut. ii. 23 ; Amos ix. 7), to the effect that the Philistines sprang from 
Caphtor. And secondly, " it is a priori altogether improbable, that a man 
with so patriotic a heart, and so devoted to the worship of the one God, 
should have surrounded himself with a foreign and heathen body-guard " 
(Thenius). This argument cannot be invalidated by the remark " that it 
is well known that at all times kings and princes have preferred to commit 
the protection of their persons to foreign mercenaries, having, as they 
thought, all the surer pledge of their devotedness in the fact that they did 
not spring from the nation, and were dependent upon the ruler alone " 
(Hitzig). J'or, in the first place, the expression " at all times " is one that 
must be very greatly modified ; and secondly, this was only done by kings 
who did not feel safe in the presence of their own people, which was not 
the case with David. And the Philistines, those arch-foes of Israel, would 
have been the last nation that David would have gone to for the purpose 
of selecting his own body-guard. It is true that he himself had met with 
a hospitable reception in the land of the Philistines ; but it must be borne 
in mind that it was not as king of Israel that he found refuge there, but as 
an outlaw flying from Saul the king of Israel, and even then the chiefs of 
the Philistines would not trust him (1 Sam. xxix. 3 sqq.). And when 
Hitzig appeals still further to the fact, that according to ch. xviii. 2, David 
handed over the command of a third of his army to a foreigner who had 
recently entered his service, having emigrated from Gath with a company 
of his fellow-countrymen (ch. xv. 19, 20, 22), and who had displayed the 
greatest attachment to the person of David (ver. 21), it is hardly necessary 
to observe that the fact of David's welcoming a brave soldier into his army, 
when he had come over to Israel, and placing him over a division of the 
army, after he had proved his fidelity so decidedly as Ittai had at the time 
of Absalom's rebellion, is no proof that he chose his body-guard from the 
Philistines. Nor can ch. xv. 18 be adduced in support of this, as the 
notion that, according to that passage, David had 600 Gathites in his 
service as body-guard, is simply founded upon a misinterpretation of the 
passage mentioned. 

2 A 

370 the second book of samuel. 

David's kindness towards mephibosheth. — chap. ix. 

("When David was exalted to be king over all Israel, he 
sought to show compassion to the house of the fallen king, and 
to repay the love which his noble-tminded friend Jonathan had 
once sworn to him before the Lordy(l Sam. xx. 13 sqq. ; comp, 
xxiii. 17, 18). The account of this forms the conclusion of, or 
rather an appendix to, the first section of the history of his reign, 
and/ was intended to show how David was mindful of the duty 
of gratitude and loving fidelity, even when he reached the 
highest point of his regal authority and glory .^ The date when 
this occurred was about the middle of David's reign, as we may 
see from the fact, that Mephibosheth, who was five years old 
when Saul died (ch. iv. 4), had a young son at the time 
(ver. 12). 

Vers. 1-8. When David inquired whether there was any 
one left of the house of Saul to whom he could show favour 
for Jonathan's sake (liyti',''. ''^n : is it so that there is any one ? = 
there is certainly some one left), a servant of Saul named Ziba 
was summoned, who told the king that there was a son of 
Jonathan living in the house of Machir at Lodebar, and that 
he was lame in his feet, ^''i^ lij? DS^l") " is there no one at all 
besides ?" The ^ before rT'a is a roundabout way of expressing 
the genitive, as in 1 Sam. xvi. 18, etc., and is obviously not to 
be altered into 'T'ap, as Thenius proposes. " The kindness of 
God'' is love and kindness shown in God, and for God's sake 
(Luke vi. 36). Machir the son of Ammiel was a rich man, 
judging from ch. xvii. 27, who, after the death of Saul and 
Jonathan, had received the lame son of the latter into his 
house. Lodebar ("i^T-', written "'^"l^'' in ch. xvii. 27, but erro- 
neously divided by the Masoretes into two words in both pas- 
sages) was a town on the east of Mahanaim, towards Rabbath 
Amman, probably the same place as Lidbir (Josh. xiii. 26) ; 
but it is not further known. — Vers. 5 sqq. David sent for this 
son of Jonathan (Mephibosheth : cf. ch. iv. 4), and not only 
restored his father's possessions in land, but took him to his own 
royal table for the rest of his life. " Fear not,'' said David 
to Mephibosheth, when he came before him with the deepest 
obeisance, to take away any anxiety lest the king should 
intend to slay the descendants of the fallen king, according to 

CHAP. IX. 9-13. 371 

the custom of eastern usurpers. It is evident from the wcrds, 
" / will restore thee all the land of Saul thy father^'' that the 
landed property belonging to Saul had either fallen to David 
as crown lands, or had been taken possession of by distant 
relations after the death of Saul. " Thou shall eat bread at my 
table continually" i.e. eat at my table all thy life long, or receive 
thy food from my table. — Ver. 8. Mephibosheth expressed his 
thanks for this manifestation of favour with the deepest obei- 
sance, and a confession of his unworthiness of any such favour. 
On his comparison of himself to a " dead dog" see at 1 Sam. 
xxiv. 15. 

Vers. 9-13. David then summoned Ziba the servant of 
Saul, told him of the restoration of Saul's possessions to his son 
Mephibosheth, and ordered him, with his sons and servants, to 
cultivate the land for the son of his lord. The words, " that 
thy master s son may have food to eat" are not at variance with 
the next clause, " Mephibosheth shall eat bread alioay at my 
table, a.s bread is a general expression, including all the neces- 
saries of life. Although Mephibosheth himself ate daily as a 
guest at the king's table, he had to make provision as a royal 
prince for the maintenance of his own family and servants, as 
he had children according/ to ver. 12 and 1 Chron. viii. 34 sqq. 
Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants (ver. 10), with whom 
he had probably been living in Gibeah, Saul's native place, 
and may perhaps have hitherto farmed Saul's land. — Ver. 11. 
(Ziba promised to obey the king's command.^ The last clause 
of this verse is a circumstantial clause in form, with which the 
writer passes over to the conclusion of his account. But the 
words ""Jn?*^ 7y, " at my table" do not tally with this, as they 
require that the words should be taken as David's own. This 
is precluded, however, not only by the omission of any intima- 
tion that David spoke again after Ziba, and repeated what he 
had said once already, and that without any occasion whatever, 
but also by the form of the sentence, more especially the par- 
ticiple ?^^<. There is no other course left, therefore, than to 
regard ''^^?p (my table) as written by mistake for "l^^ \^(p : 
" but Mephibosheth ate at David's table as one of the king's sojis." 
The further notices in vers. 12 and 13 follow this in a very 
simple manner. JT'a nc^'ia 73^ " all the dwelling," i.e. all the 
inhabitants of Ziba s house, namely his sons and servants, were 


servants of Mephlbosheth, i.e. worked for him and cultivated 
his land, whilst he himself took up his abode at Jerusalem, to 
eat daily at the king's table, although he was lamed in both 
his feet. 

Chap, x.-xx. 

In the first half of David's reign he had strengthened and 
fortified the kingdom of Israel, both within and without, and 
exalted the covenant nation into a kingdom of God, before 
which all its enemies were obliged to bow ; but in the second 
half a series of heavy judgments fell upon him and his house, 
which cast a deep shadow upon the glory of his reign. David 
had brought these judgments upon himself by his grievous sin 
with Bathsheba. The success of all his undertakings, and the 
strength of his government, which increased year by year, had 
made him feel so secure, that in the excitement of undisturbed 
prosperity, he allowed himself to be carried away by evil lusts, 
so as to stain his soul not only with adultery, but also with 
murder, and fell all the deeper because of the height to which 
his God had exalted him. This took place during the war 
with the Ammonites and Syrians, when Joab was besieging the 
capital of the Ammonites, after the defeat and subjugation of 
the Syrians (ch. x.), and when David had remained behind in 
Jerusalem (ch. xi. 1). For this double sin, the adultery with 
Bathsheba and the murder of her husband Uriah, the Lord 
announced as a punishment, that the sword should not depart 
from David's house, and that his wives should be openly vio- 
lated ; and notwithstanding the sincere sorrow and repentance 
of the king, when brought to see his sin. He not only caused 
the fruit of his sin, the child that was born of Bathsheba, to 
die (ch. xii.), but very soon afterwards allowed the threatened 
judgments to fall upon his house, inasmuch as Amnon, his 
first-born son, violated his half-sister Thamar, and was mur- 
dered in consequence by her own brother Absalom (ch. xiii.), 
whereupon Absalom fled to his father-in-law at Geshur ; and 

CHAP. X. 373 

when at length the king restored him to favour (ch. xiv.), he 
set on foot a rebellion, which nearly cost David his life and 
throne (ch. xv.-xvii. 23). And even after Absalom himself was 
dead (ch. xvii. 24-xix. 1), and David had been reinstated in 
his kingdom (ch. xix. 2-40), there arose the conspiracy set on 
foot by the Benjaminite Sheba, which was only stopped by the 
death of the chief conspirator, in the fortified city of Abel- 
Beth-Maachah (ch. xix. 41-xx. 26). 

The period and duration of these divine visitations are not 
stated ; and all that we are able to determine from the different 
data as to time, given in ch. xiii. 23, 38, xiv. 28, xv. 7, when 
taken in connection with the supposed ages of the sons of 
David, is that Amnon's sin in the case of Thamar did not take 
place earlier than the twentieth year of David's reign, and that 
Absalom's rebellion broke out seven or eight years later. Con- 
sequently the assumption cannot be far from the truth, that the 
events described in this section occupied the whole time between 
the twentieth and thirtieth years of David's reign. "We are 
prevented from placing it earlier, by the fact that Amnon was 
not born till after David became king over Judah, and there- 
fore was probably about twenty years old when he violated his 
half-sister Thamar. At the same time it cannot be placed later 
than this, because Solomon was not born till about two years 
after David's adultery ; and he must have been eighteen or 
twenty years old when he ascended the throne on the death of 
his father, after a reign of forty years and a half, since, accord- 
ing to 1 Kings xiv. 21, compared with vers. 11 and 42, 43, he 
had a son a year old, named Rehoboam, at the time when he 
began to reign. 


This war, the occasion and early success of which are 
described in the present chapter and the parallel passage in 
1 Chron. xix., was the fiercest struggle, and, so far as the Israel- 
itish kingdom of God was concerned, the most dangerous, that 
it ever had to sustain during the reign of David. The amount 
of distress which fell upon Israel in consequence of this war, 
and still more because the first successful battles with the 
Syrians of the south' were no sooner over than the Edomites 


invaded the land, and went about plundering and devastating, 
in the hope of destroying the people of God, is shown very 
clearly in the two psalms which date from this period (the 44tli 
and 60th), in which a pious Korahite and David himself pour 
out their lamentations before the Lord on account of the distress 
of their nation, and pray for His assistance ; and not less clearly 
in Ps. Ixviii., iu which David foretels the victory of the God of 
Israel over all the hostile ppwers of the world. 

Vers. 1-5. Occasion of the war with the Ammonites. — Ver. 1. 
On the expression " it came to pass after this" see the remarks 
on ch. viii. 1. When Nahash, the king of the Ammonites, died, 
and Hanun his son reigned in his stead, David thought that he 
would show him the same kindness that Nahash had formerly 
shown to him. We are not told in what the love shown to 
David by Nahash consisted. He had most likely rendered him 
some assistance durino; the time of his fliö-ht from Saul. Nahash 
was no doubt the king of the Ammonites mentioned in 1 Sam. 
xi. 1, whom Saul had smitten at Jabesh. David therefore sent 
an embassy to Hanun, " to comfort him for his father" i.e. to 
show his sympathy with him on the occasion of his father's 
death, and at the same time to congratulate him upon his ascent 
of the throne. — Yer. 3. On the arrival of David's ambassadors, 
however, the chiefs of the Ammonites said to Hanun their lord, 
" Doth David indeed honour thy father in thine eyes {i.e. dost 
thou really suppose that David intends to do honour to thy 
father), because he has sent comforters to thee ? Has David not 
sent his servants to thee with the intentioJi of exploring and spying 
out the town, and (then) destroying it ? " The first question is 
introduced with n, because a negative answer is expected ; the 
second with ^'^^% because it requires an affirmative repl^^. T'^n 
is the capital Rahhah, a strongly fortified city (see at ch. xi. 
1). The suspicion expressed by the chiefs was founded upon 
national hatred and enmity, which had probably been increased 
by David's treatment of Moab, as the subjugation and severe 
punishment of the Moabites (ch. viii. 2) had certainly taken 
place a short time before. King Hanun therefore gave credence 
to the suspicions expressed as to David's honourable intentions, 
and had his ambassadors treated in the most insulting manner. — 
Ver. 4. He had the half of their beard shaved off, and their 
clothes cut off up to the seat, and in this state he sent them 

CHAP. X. 6. 375 

away. " The half of the heard^'' i.e. the beard on one side. 
With the value universally set upon the beard by the Hebrews 
and other oriental nations, as being a man's greatest ornament/ 
the cutting off of one-half of it was the greatest insult that 
could have been offered to the ambassadors, and through them 
to David their king. The insult was still further increased by 
cutting off the long dress which covered the body ; so that as 
the ancient Israelites wore no trousers, the lower half of the 
body was quite exposed. CinMHo, from nn or ^np, the long robe 
reaching down to the feet, from the root t^]^ — T]», to stretch, 
spread out, or measure. — Yer. 5. When David received infor- 
mation of the insults that had been heaped upon his ambassadors, 
he sent messengers to meet them, and direct them to remain in 
Jericho until their beard had grown again, that he might not 
have to set his eyes upon the insult they had received. 

Ver. 6. When the Ammonites saw that they had made 
themselves stinking before David, and therefore that David 
would avenge the insult offei'ed to the people of Israel in the 
persons of their ambassadors, they looked round for help among 
the powerful kings of Syria. They hired as auxiliaries (with a 
thousand talents of silver, i.e. nearly half a million of pounds 
sterling, according to 1 Chron. xix. 6) twenty thousand fool 
from Aram-Beth-Rehoh and Aram-Zoba, and one thousand men 
from the king of Maacah, and twelve thousand troops from the 
men of Tob. Äram-Beth-Rehob was the Aramaean kingdom, 
the capital of which was Beth-Rehob. This Beth-Rehob, which 
is simply called Rehob in ver. 8, is in all probability the city of 
this name mentioned in Num. xiii. 21 and Judg. xviii. 28, which 
lay to the south of Hamath, but the exact position of which has 
not yet been discovered : for the castle of Hunin, in the ruins 
of which Robinson imagines that he has found Beth-Rehob 

^ " Cutting off a person's beard is regarded by the Arabs as an indignity 
quite equal to flogging and branding among ourselves. Many would rather 
die than have their beard shaved off" (Arvieux, Sitten der Beduinen- ar aber). 
Niebuhr relates a similar occurrence as having taken place in modern times. 
In the year 1764, a pretender to the Persian throne, named Kerim Khan, 
sent ambassadors to Mir Mahenna, the prince of Bendervigk, on the Persian 
Gulf, to demand tribute from him ; but he in return cut off the ambassa- 
dors' beards. Kerim Khan was so enraged at this, that he went the next 
year with a large army to make war upon this prince, and took the city, 
and almost the Avhole ot his territory, to avenge the insult. 


{Blhl. Researches, p. 370), is to the south-west of Tell el Kadi, 
the ancient Laish-Dan, the northern boundary of the Israelitish 
territory ; so that the capital of this Aramaean kingdom would 
have been within the limits of the land of Israel, — a thing which 
is inconceivable. Aram- Nahar aim is also mentioned in the 
corresponding text of the Chronicles, and for that reason many 
have identified Beth-Rehob with Rehoboth, on " the river" 
(Euphrates), mentioned in Gen. xxxvi. 37. But this association 
is precluded by the fact, that in all probability the latter place 
is to be found in Rachabe, which is upon the Euphrates and 
not more than half a mile from the river (see Ritter, Erdk. xv. 
p. 128), so that from its situation it can hardly have been the 
capital of a separate Aramsean kingdom, as the government of 
the king of Zoba extended, according to ver. 16, beyond the 
Euphrates into Mesopotamia. On Aram-Zoha, see at ch. viii. 
3 ; and for Maacah at Deut. iii. 14. 3i!:3~tJ'''S is not to be taken 
as one word and rendered as a proper name, Ish-Toh, as it has 
been by most of the earlier translators ; but ^''^ is a common 
noun used in a collective sense (as it frequently is in the 
expression ^^^}^\ ^''5^)j " the men of Tob^ Tob was the district 
between Syria and Ammonitis, where Jephthah had formerly 
taken refuge (Judg. xi. 5). The corresponding text of the 
Chronicles (1 Chron. xix. 6, 7) is fuller, and differs in several 
respects from the text before us. According to the Chronicles, 
Hanun sent a thousand talents of silver to hire chariots and 
horsemen from Aram-Naharaim, Aram-Maacah, and Zobah. 
With this the Ammonites hired thirty-two thousand receb (i.e. 
chariots and horsemen : see at ch. viii. 4), and the king of 
Maacah and his people. They came and encamped before 
Medeba, the present ruin of Medaba, two hours to the south-east 
of Heshbon, in the tribe of Reuben (see at Num. xxi. 30, com- 
pared with Josh. xiii. 16), and the Ammonites gathered together 
out of their cities, and went to the war. The Chronicles 
therefore mention Aram-Naharaim (i.e. Mesopotamia) as hired 
by the Ammonites instead of Aram-Beth-Rehob, and leave out 
the men of Tob. The first of these differences is not to be 
explained, as Bertheau suggests, on the supposition that the 
author of the Chronicles took Beth-Rehob to be the same city 
as Rehoboth of the river in Gen. xxxvi. 37, and therefore sub- 
stituted the well-known " Aram of the two rivers " as an 

CHAP. X. 6. 377 

interpretation of the rarer name Beth-Rehoh, thougn hardly on 
good ground. For this conjecture does not help to explain the 
omission of " the men of Tob." It is a much simpler explana- 
tion, that the writer of the Chronicles omitted Beth-ReJiob and 
Tob as being names that were less known, this being the only 
place in the Old Testament in which they occur as separate 
kingdoms, and simply mentioned the kingdoms of Maacah and 
Zoha, which frequently occur ; and that he included " Aram of 
the two rivers," and placed it at the head, because the Syrians 
obtained succour from Mesopotamia after their first defeat. 
The account in the Chronicles agrees with the one before us, 
so far as the number of auxiliary troops is concerned. For 
twenty thousand men of Zoba and twelve thousand of Tob 
amount to thirty-two thousand, besides the people of the king 
of Maacah, who sent a thousand men according to the text 
of Samuel. But according to that of the Chronicles, the 
auxiliary troops consisted of chariots and horsemen, whereas 
only foot-soldiers are mentioned in our text, which appears all 
the more remarkable, because according to ch. viii. 4, and 
1 Chron. xviii. 4, the king of Zoba fought against David with a 
considerable force of chariots and horsemen. It is very evident, 
therefore, that there are copyists' errors in both texts ; for the 
troops of the Syrians did not consist of infantry only, nor of 
chariots and horsemen alone, but of foot-soldiers, cavalry, and 
war-chariots, as we may see very clearly not only from the 
passages already quoted in ch. viii. 4 and 1 Chron. xviii. 4, but 
also from the conclusion to the account before us. According 
to ver. 18 of this chapter, when Hadarezer had reinforced his 
army with auxiliaries from Mesopotamia, after losing the first 
battle, David smote seven hundred receb and forty thousand 
parashim of Aram, whilst according to the parallel text (I Chron. 
xix. 18) he smote seven thousand receb and forty thousand foot. 
Now, apart from the difference between seven thousand and 
seven hundred in the case of the receb, which is to be inter- 
preted in the same way as a similar diffei'ence in ch. viii. 4, the 
Chronicles do not mention any parashim at all in ver. 18, but 
foot-soldiers only, whereas in ver. 7 they mention only receb 
and parashim; and, on the other hand, there are no foot-soldiers 
given in ver. 18 of the text before us, but riders only, whereas 
in ver. 6 there are none but foot-soldiers mentioned, without 


any riders at all. It Is evident that in both engagements the 
Syrians fought with all three (infantry, cavalry, and chariots), 
so that in both of them David smote chariots, horsemen, and 

Vers. 7-14. When David heard of these preparations and 
the advance of the Syrians into the land, he sent Joab and his 
brave army against the foe. D''"ii33ri (the migldy men) is in 
apposition to N3^*n"P3 {all the host) : the whole army, namely 
the heroes or mighty men, i.e. the brave troops that were well 
used to war. It is quite arbitrary on the part of Thenius to 
supply vav before C^iBjin ; for, as Bertheau has observed, we 
never find a distinction drawn between the gibborim and the 
whole army. — Ver. 8. On the other hand, the Ammonites came 
out (from the capital, where they had assembled), and put 
themselves in battle array before the gate. The Syrians were 
alone on the field, i.e. they had taken up a separate position on 
the broad treeless table-land (cf. Josh. xiii. 16) by Medeba. 
Medeba lay about four geographical miles in a straight line to 
the south-west of Rabbath-Ammon. — Ver. 9. When Joab saw 
that " the front of the war was (directed) against him both 
before and behind," he selected a picked body out of the Israel- 
itish army, and posted them (the picked men) against the 
children of Aram {i.e. the Syrians). The rest of the men he 
gave to his brother Abishai, and stationed them against the 
Ammonites, " The front of the battle ;" i.e. the face or front 
of the hostile army, when placed in battle array. Joab had 
this in front and behind, as the Ammonites had taken their 
stand before Kabbah at the back of the Israelitish army, and the 
Syrians by Medeba in their front, so that Joab was attacked 
both before and behind. This compelled him to divide his army. 
He chose out, i.e. made a selection. Instead of ''^?'^V'l? ''1^'^^^ 
(the picked men in Israel) the Chronicles have ''^'^i?'''.? "i^na 
(the men in Israel), the singular lina being more commonly 
employed than the plural to denote the men of war. The 3 
before «'^^^l is not to be regarded as suspicious, although the 
early translators have not expressed it, and the Masoretes 
wanted to expunge it. " The choice of Israel" signifies those 
who were selected in Israel for the war, i.e. the Israelitish 
soldiers. Joab himself took up his station opposite to the 
Syrians with a .picked body of men, because they were the 

CHAP. X. 15-19. 379 

stroncrer force of the two. He then made this arranrrement 
with Abishai (ver. 11) : "7/ Aram becomes stronger than I {i.e. 
overpowers me), come to my help ; and if the Ammonites should 
overpower thee, I will go to help thee." Consequently the attack 
was not to be made upon both the armies of the enemy simul- 
taneously ; but Joab proposed to attack the Aramaeans (Syrians) 
first (cf. ver. 13), and Abishai was merely to keep the Ammon- 
ites in check, though there was still a possibility that the two 
bodies of the enemy might make their attack simultaneously. — 
Ver. 12. " jBö firm, and let us be firm (strong) for our people, 
and for the towns of our God: and Jehovah will do lohat seemeth 
Him good." Joab calls the towns of Israel the towns of our 
God, inasmuch as the God of Israel had given the land to the 
people of Israel, as being His own property. Joab and Abishai 
were about to fight, in order that Jehovah's possessions might 
not fall into the hands of the heathen, and become subject to 
their gods. — Ver. 13. Joab then advanced with his army to 
battle against Aram, and " they fied before him." — Ver. 14. 
When the Ammonites perceived this, they also fled before 
Abishai, and drew back into the city (Rabbah) ; whereupon 
Joab returned to Jerusalem, probably because, as we may infer 
from ch. xi. 1, it was too late in the year for the siege and 
capture of Rabbah. 

Vers. 15-19. The Aramasans, however, gathered together 
again after the first defeat, to continue the war ; and Hadarezer, 
the most powerful of the Aramsean kings, sent messengers to 
Mesopotamia, and summoned it to war. It is very evident, not 
only from the words " he sent and brought out Aram, which 
was beyond the river," but also from the fact that Shobach, 
Hadarezer's general {Shophach according to the Chronicles), 
was at the head of the Mesopotamian troops, that the Meso- 
potamian troops who were summoned to help were under the 
supreme rule of Hadarezer. This is placed beyond all possible 
doubt by ver. 19, where the kings who had fought with Hadar- 
ezer afijainst the Israelites are called his " servants," or vassals. 
dyn 1X3*1 (ver. 16) might be translated " and their army came ;" 
but when we compare with this the noxpn xhjl of ver. 17, we 
are compelled to render it as a proper name (as in the Septua- 
gint, Chaldee, Syriac, and Arabic) — " and they (the men from 
beyond the Euphrates) came (marched) to Helam " — and to take 


D?"'n as a contracted form of Q^^n. The situation of this place 
has not yet been discovered. Ewald supposes it to be connected 
with the Syrian town Alamatha upon the Euphrates (Ptol. 
Geogr. v. 15) ; but this is not to be thought of for a moment, 
if only because it cannot be supposed that the Aramaeans would 
fall back to the Euphrates, and wait for the Israelites to follow 
them thither before they gave them battle ; and also on account 
of ch. viii. 4 and 1 Chron. xviii. 3, from which it is evident that 
Helam is to be sought for somewhere in the neighbourhood of 
Hamath (see p. 360). For r\mhn ^y\_ we find D^^^^< Nhjl, " David 
came to them" (the Aramaeans), in the Chronicles : so that the 
author of the Chronicles has omitted the unknown place, unless 
indeed D^yX has been written by mistake for D^^pn. — Vers. 17 
sqq. David went with all Israel (all the Israelitish forces) 
against the foe, and smote the Aramaeans at Helam, where they 
had placed themselves in battle array, slaying seven hundred 
charioteers and forty thousand horsemen, and so smiting (or 
wounding) the general Shobach that he died there, i.e. that he did 
not survive the battle (Thenius). With regard to the different 
account given in the corresponding text of the Chronicles as to 
the number of the slain, see the remarks on ver. 6 (pp. 376-7). 
It is a fact worthy of notice, that the number of men who fell 
in the battle (seven hundred receb and forty thousand parashirrij 
according to the text before us ; seven thousand receh and forty 
thousand ragli, according to the Chronicles) agrees quite as well 
with the number of Aramasans I'eported to be taken prisoners 
or slain, according to ch. viii. 4 and 1 Chron. xviii. 4, 5 (viz. 
seventeen hundred parasJdm or a thousand receb, and seven 
thousand parashim and twenty thousand i^agli of Aram-Zoba, 
and twenty-two thousand of Aram-Damascus), as could possibly 
be expected considering the notorious corruption in the numbers 
as we possess them ; so that there is scarcely any doubt that the 
number of Aramaeans who fell was the same in both accounts 
(ch. viii. and x.), and that in the chapter before us we have 
simply a more circumstantial account of the very same war of 
which the result is given in ch. viii. and 1 Chron. xviii. — Ver. 19. 
" And when all the kings, the vassals of Hadarezer, saw that they 
were smitten before Israel, they made peace with Israel, and became 
subject to them; and Aram, was afraid to render any further help 
to the Ammonites." It might appear from the first half of this 

CHAP. XI. 1. 381 

verse, that it was only the vassals of Hadarezer who made peace 
with. Israel, and became subject to it, and that Hadarezer him- 
self did not. But the last clause, " and the Aramaeans were 
afraid," etc., shows very clearly that Hadarezer also made 
peace with the Israelites, and submitted to their rule ; so that 
the expression in the first half of the verse is not a very exact 


Ver. 1 (cf. 1 Chron. xx. 1). Siege of Rabbah. — "■ And 
if came to pass at the return of the year, at the time when the 
kings marched out, that David sent Joah, and his servants with 
him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the Ammonites and he- 
sieged Rabbah : but David remained in Jerusalem^ This verse 
is connected with ch. x. 14, where it was stated that after Joab 
had put to flight the Aramaeans who came to the help of the 
Ammonites, and when the Ammonites also had fallen back 
^ before Abishai in consequence of this victory, and retreated 
01 to their fortified capital, Joab himself returned to Jerusalem. 
He remained there during the winter or rainy season, in which 
it was impossible that war should be carried on. At the return 
of the year, i.e. at the commencement of spring, with which 
the new year began in the month Abib (Nisan), the time when 
kings who were engaged in war were accustomed to open their 
campaign, David sent Joab his commander-in-chief with the 
whole of the Israelitish forces to attack the Ammonites once 
more, for the purpose of chastising them and conquering their 
capital. The Chethihh ü'^S^lsn should be changed into D'?^sn, 
according to the Keri and the text of the Chronicles. The 
N interpolated is a perfectly superfluous mater lectionis, and 
probably crept into the text from a simple oversight. The 
" servants " of David with Joab were not the men performing 
military service, or soldiers, (in which case " all Israel " could 
only signify the people called out to war in extraordinary cir- 
cumstances,) but the king's military officers, the military com- 
manders ; and " all Israel," the whole of the military forces of 
Israel. Instead of " the children of Ammon " we find " the 
country of the children of Ammon," which explains the meaning 
more fully. But there was no necessity to insert Y^^ (the land 


or country), as JT'nK'n is applied to men in other passagt s in the 
sense of "cast to the ground," or destroy (e.g. 1 Sam. xxvi'.vlö). 
Rabhah was the capital of Ammonitis (as in Josh. xiii. 25) : the 
fuller name was Rahhath of the children of Amnion. It has 
been preserved in the ruins which still exist under the ancient 
name of Rahhat-Ammdn, on the Nahr Annnan, i.e. the u)pper 
Jabbok (see at Deut. iii. 11). The last clause, " hut David 
sat (remained) in Jerusalem" leads on to the accou which 
follows of David's adultery with Bathsheba (vers. 2-27 an.d ch. 
xii. 1-25), which took place at that time, and is therefore in- 
serted here, so that the conquest of Kabbah is not related till 
afterwards (ch. xii. 26-31). 

Vers. 2-27. David's Adultery. — David's deep fall forrjns 
a turning-point not only in the inner life of the great king, bjit 
also in the history of his reign. Hitherto David had ;ept free 
from the grosser sins, and had only exhibited such infirmities 
and failings as simulation, prevarication, etc., which clung 'tO 
all the saints of the Old Covenant, and were hardly regardi^i^^_ 
as sins in the existing stage of religious culture at that tinto 
although God never left them unpunished, but ii variably 
visited them upon His servants with humiliations and chastise- 
ments of various kinds. Among the unacknowledged sins 
which God tolerated because of the hardness of Israel's heart ' 
was polygamy, which encouraged licentiousness and the ten- 
dency to sensual excesses, and to which but a weak barrier had 
been presented by the warning that had been given for the 
Israelitish kings against taking many wives (Deut. yvii. 17), 
opposed as such a warning was to the notion so prevalent in 
the East both in ancient and modern times, that a well-filled 
harem is essential to the splendour of a princely court. The 
custom to which this notion gave rise opened a dangerous preci- 
pice in David's way, and led to a most grievous fall, that can 
only be explained, as O. v. Gerlach has said, from/ the intoxi- 
cation consequent upon undisturbed prosperity and poVer, which 
grew with every year of his reign, and occasioned a long series 
of most severe humiliations and divine chastisements that marred 
the splendour of his reign, notwithstanding the fact that the 
gi'eat sin was followed by deep and sincere repentance. ) 

Vers. 2—5. Towards evening David walked upon the roof 

CHAP. XI. 2-5. 383 

of his 'jalace, after rising from his couch, i.e. after taking hig 
mid-daj rest, and saw from the roof a woman bathing, namely 
in the uncovered court of a neighbouring house, where there 
was a spring with a pool of water, such as you still frequently 
meet with in the East. " The woman loas beautiful to look 
upon." ' Her outward charms excited sensual desires. — Yer. 3. 
Davi4 ordered inquiry to be made about her, and found ("1^*^*1, 
"Ae, zi. the messenger, said;" or indefinitely, "they said") 
that she was Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hethite. J^vn, 
nonne, is used, as it frequently is, in the sense of an affirmation, 
" it is indeed so." Instead of Bathsheba the daughter of Eliam, 
we find the name given in the Chronicles (1 Chron. iii. 5) as 
Bathshua the daughter of Ammiel. The form W'T\2 may be 
derived from Vlv^^'nij in which 3 is softened into 1 ; for Bath- 
sheba (with beth) is the correct and original form, as we may 
see fron' 1 Kings i. 11, 15, 28. Eliam and Ammiel have the 
same signification ; the difference simply consists in the trans- 
position of the component parts of the name. It is impossible 
to determine, however, which of the two forms was the original 
one. — Ver. 4. The information brought to him, that the beau- 
tiful wc nan was married, was not enough to stifle the sensual 
desires i'hich arose in David's soul. "When lust hath con- 
ceived, it bringeth forth sin" (Jas. i. 15). David sent for the 
woman, and lay with her. In the expression "he took her, and 
she came to him," there is no intimation whatever that David 
brought Bathsheba into his palace through craft or violence, but 
rather that she came at his request without any hesitation, and 
offered no resistance to his desires. Consequently Bathsheba is 
not to be regarded as free from blame. The very act of bathing 
in the uncovered court of a house in the heart of the city, into 
which it was possible for any one to look down from the roofs 
of the houses on higher ground, does not say much for her 
feminine modesty, even if it was not done with an ulterior 
purpose, as some commentators suppose. Nevertheless in any 
case the greatest guilt rests upon David, that he, a man upon 
whom the Lord had bestowed such grace, did not resist the 
temptation to the lust of the flesh, but sent to fetch the woman. 
" When she had sanctified herself from her uncleanness, she 
returned to her house" Defilement from sexual intercourse 
rendered unclean till the evening (Lev. xv. 18). Bathsheba 


thought it her duty to observe this statute most scrupulously, 
though she did not shrink from committing the sin of adultery. 
— Ver. 5. When she discovered that she was with child, she 
sent word to David. This involved an appeal to him to take 
the necessary steps to avert the evil consequences of the sin, 
inasmuch as the law required that both adulterer and adulteress 
should be put to death (Lev. xx. 10). 

Vers. 6-13. David had Uriah the husband of Bathsheba 
sent to him by Joab, under whom he was serving in the army 
before Eabbah, upon some pretext or other, and asked him as 
soon as he arrived how it fared with Joab and the people (i.e. 
the army) and the war. This was probably the pretext under 
which David had had him sent to him. According to ch. xxiii. 
39, Uriah was one of the gibborim (" mighty men ") of David, 
and therefore held some post of command in the army, although 
there is no historical foundation for the statement made by 
Josephus, viz. that he was Joab's armour-bearer or aide-de- 
camp. The king then said to him, " Go down to thy house 
(from the palace upon Mount Zion down to the lower city, 
where Uriah's house was situated), and wash thy feet ; " and 
when he had gone out of the palace, he sent a royal present 
after him. The Israelites were accustomed to wash their feet 
when they returned home from work or from a journey, to take 
refreshment and rest themselves. Consequently these words 
contained an intimation that he was to go and refresh himself 
in his own home. David's wish was that Uriah should spend 
a night at home with his wife, that he might afterwards be 
regarded as the father of the child that had been begotten in 
adultery, nt^fe'ö, a present, as in Amos v. 11, Jer. xl. 5, Esther 
ii. 18. — Ver. 9. But Uriah had his suspicions aroused. The 
connection between his wife and David may not have remained 
altogether a secret, so that it mav have reached his ears as soon 
as he arrived in Jerusalem. " He lay down to sleep before the 
king's house with all the servants of his lord (i.e. the retainers of 
the court), and went not down to his house." " Before, or at, 
the door of the king's house," i.e. in the court of the palace, or 
in a building adjoining the king's palace, where the court ser- 
vants lived. — Ver. 10. When this was told to David (the next 
morning), he said to Uriah, " Didst thou not come from the way 
(i.e. from a journey) ? zohy didst thou not go down (as men 

CHAP. XI. 14-27. 385 

generally do when they return from a journey) ? " Uriah replied 
(ver. 11), " The ark (ark of the covenant), and Israel, and 
Judah, dwell in the huts, and my lord Joab and the servants of 
my lord encamp in the field; and should I go to my house to eat 
and to drink, and to lie with my wife ? By thy life, and by the 
life of thy soul, I do no such thirig !" niSDil QK*^, to sit or 
sojourn in huts, is the same practically as being encamped in 
the field. Uriah meant to say : Whereas the ark, i.e. Jehovah 
■with the ark, and all Israel, were engaged in conflict with the 
enemies of God and of His kingdom, and therefore encamped 
in the open country, it did not become a warrior to seek, rest 
and pleasure in his own home. This answer expressed the 
feelings and the consciousness of duty which ought to animate 
one who was fighting for the cause of God, in such plain and 
unmistakeable terms, that it was well adapted to prick the king 
to the heart. But David's soul was so beclouded by the wish 
to keep clear of the consequences of his sin in the eyes of the 
world, that he did not feel the sting, but simply made a still 
further attempt to attain his purpose with Uriah. He com- 
manded him to stop in Jerusalem all that day, as he did not 
intend to send him away till the morrow. — Ver. 13. The next 
day he invited him to his table and made him drunken, with 
the hope that when in this state he would give up his intention 
of not going home to his wife. But Uriah lay down again the 
next night to sleep with the king's servants, without going 
down to his house; for, according to the counsel and provi- 
dence of God, David's sin was to be brought to light to his 
deep humiliation. 

Vers. 14-27. When the king saw that his plan was frus- 
trated through Uriah's obstinacy, he resolved upon a fresh and 
still greater crime. He wrote a letter to Joab, with which he 
sent Uriah back to the army, and the contents of which were 
these : " Set ye Uriah opposite to the strongest contest, and 
then turn away behind him, that he may be slain, and die." ^ 
David was so sure that his orders would be executed, that he 

1 " We may see from this how deep a soul may fall when it turns away 
from God, and from the guidance of His grace. This David, who in the 
days of his persecution would not even resort to means that were really 
plausible in order to defend himself, was now not ashamed to resort to the 
greatest crimes in order to cover his sin. God ! how great is our strength 

2 B 


did not think it necessary to specify any particular crime of 
which Uriah had been guilty. — Ver. 16. The king's wishes 
were fully carried out by Joab. " Wheji Joah watched {i.e. 
blockaded) the city, he stationed Uriah just where he knew that 
there were brave 7nen" (in the city). — Ver. 17. " And the men of 
the city came out (i.e. made a sally) and fought with Joab, and 
some of the people of the servants of David fell, and Uriah the 
Hethite died also." The literal fulfilment of the king's com- 
mand does not warrant us in assuming that Joab suspected how 
the matter stood, or had heard a rumour concerning it. As a 
general, who was not accustomed to spare human life, he would 
be a faithful servant of his lord in this point, in order that his 
own interests might be served another time. — Vers. 18-21. 
Joab immediately despatched a messenger to the king, to give 
him a report of the events of the war, and with these instruc- 
tions : " When thou hast told all the things of the war to the 
king to the end, in case the anger of the king should be 
excited i^V}^, ascend), and he should say to thee, Why did ye 
advance so near to the city to fight I knew ye not that they 
would shoot from the wall ? Who smote Abimelech the son 
of Jerubbosheth {i.e. Gideon, see at Judg. vi. 32) ? did not 
a woman throw down a millstone from the wall, that he died 
in Thebez (Judg. ix. 53) ? why went "ye so nigh to the 
wall? then only say, Thy servant Uriah the Hethite has 
perished." Joab assumed that David might possibly be angry 
at what had occurred, or at any rate that he might express his 
displeasure at the fact that Joab had sacrificed a number of 
warriors by imprudently approaching close to the wall : he 
therefore instructed the messenger, if such should be the case, 
to announce Uriah's death to the king, for the purpose of miti- 
gating his wrath. The messenger seems to have known that 
Uriah was in disgrace with the king. At the same time, the 
words "thy servant Uriah is dead also" might be understood 
or interpreted as meaning that it was without, or even in oppo- 
sition to, Joab's command, that Uriah went so far with his men, 

•when we lay firm hold of Thee ! And bow weak we become as soon as we 
turn away from Thee ! The greatest saints would be ready for the worst of 
deeds, if Thou shouldst but leave them for a single moment without Thy 
protection. Whoever reflects upon this, will give up all thought of self- 
Becurity and spiritual pride." — Berleburg Bible. 

CHAP, XI. 14-27. 387. 

and that he was therefore cliargeable with his own death and 
that of the other warriors who had fallen. — Vers. 22 sqq. The 
messenger brought to David all the information with which 
Joab had charged him (npK^ with a double accusative, to send or 
charge a person with anything), but he so far condensed it as 
to mention Uriah's death at the same time. " When the men 
(of Rabbah) became strong against us, and came out to us into 
the field, and we prevailed against them even to the gate, the 
archers shot at thy servants down from the wall, so that some 
of the servants of the king died, and thy servant Uriah the 
Hethite is dead also." The K in the forms D^t^niBn ^isn^l instead, 
of D''"iiön iinM is an Aramaic mode of writing the words. — ^Ver. 25. 
David received with apparent composure the intelligence which 
he was naturally so anxious to hear, and sent this message back 
to Joab : " Let not this thing depress thee, for the sword devours 
thus and thus. Keep on loith the battle against the city, and 
destroy it'' The construction of Vy'h\^ with nx ohj. is analogous 
to the combination of a passive verb with nx : " Do not look 
upon this affair as evil" (disastrous). David then sent the mes- 
senger away, saying, " Encourage thou him " {lit. strengthen 
him, put courage into him), to show his entire confidence in 
the bravery and stedfastness of Joab and the army, and their 
ultimate success in the capture of Rabbah. — In ver. 26 the 
account goes back to its starting-point. When Uriah's wife 
heard of her husband's death, she mourned for her husband. 
AVhen her mourning was over, David took her home as his 
wife, after which she bore him a son (the one begotten in 
adultery). The ordinary mourning of the Israelites lasted 
seven days (Gen. 1. 10 ; 1 Sam. xxxi. 13). Whether widows 
mourned any longer we do not know. In the case before us 
Bathsheba would hardly prolong her " mourning beyond the 
ordinary period, and David would certainly not delay taking her 
as his wife, in order that she might be married to the king as 
long as possible before the time of childbirth. The account of 
these two grievous sins on the part of David is then closed 
with the assurance that "the thing that David had done dis- 
pleased the Lord," which prepares the way for the following 

388 the second book of samuel. 

Nathan's eepeoof and david's repentance, conquest 
of kabbah. — chap. xii. 

The Lord left David almost a whole year in his sin, before 
sending a prophet to charge the haughty sinner with his mis- 
deeds, and to announce the punishment that would follow. He 
did this at length through Nathan, but not till after the birth 
of Bathsheba's child, that had been begotten in adultery (com- 
pare vers. 14, 15 with ch. xi. 27). Not only was the fruit 
of the sin to be first of all brought to light, and the hardened 
sinner to be deprived of the possibility of either denying or 
concealing his crimes,' but God would first of all break his 
unbroken heart by the torture of his own conspience, and 
prepare it to feel the reproaches of His prophet. V.The reason 
for this delay on the part of God in the threatening of judgment 
is set forth very clearly in Ps, xxxii., where David describes 
most vividly the state of his heart during this period, and the 
sufferings that he endured as long as he was trying to conceal 
his crime. And whilst in this Psalm he extols the blessedness 
of a pardoned sinner, and admonishes all who fear God, on the 
ground of his own inmost experience after his soul had tasted 
once more the joy and confidence arising from the full for- 
giveness of his iniquities ; in the fifty-first Psalm, which was 
composed after Nathan had been to him, he shows clearly 
enough that the promise of divine forgiveness, which the prophet 
had given him in consequence of his confession of his guilt, did 
not take immediate possession of his soul, but simply kept him 
from despair at first, and gave him strength to attain to a 
thorough knowledge of the depth of his guilt through prayer 
and supplication, and to pray for its entire removal, that his 
heart might be renewed and fortified through the Holy Ghost. 
But Nathan's reproof could not possibly have borne this saving 
fruit, if David had still been living in utter blindness as to the 
■character of his sin at the time when the prophet went to himy 

Vers. 1-14. Nathan's Eeproof. — Vers. 1 sqq. To ensure 
the success of his mission, viz. to charge the king with his 
crimes, Nathan resorted to a parable by which he led on the 
king to pronounce sentence of death upon himself. The 
parable is a very simple one, and drawn from life. Two men 

CHAP. XII. 1-14. 389 

were living in a certain city : the one was rich, and had many 
sheep and oxen ; the other was poor, and possessed nothing at 
all but one small lamb which he had bought and nourished 
(v'.''!''!) lit. kept alive), so that it grew up in his house along 
with his son, and was treated most tenderly and loved like a 
daughter. The custom of keeping pet-sheep in the house, as 
we keep lap-dogs, is still met with among the Arabs (yid. 
Bochart, Hieroz. i. p. 594). There came a traveller (^^n^ a 
journey, for a traveller) to the rich man (K'''^? without an 
article, the express definition being introduced afterwards in 
connection with the adjective "•VJ'?? j ^^f^- Ewald, § 293a, p. 
741), and he grudged to take of his own sheep and oxen to 
prepare {sc. a meal) for the traveller who had come to his 
house; "and he took the poor man's lamb, and dressed it for 
the man that had come to him." — Vers. 5, 6. David was so 
enraged at this act of violence on the part of the rich man, 
that in the heat of his anger he pronounced this sentence at 
once : "^s the Lord livetk, the man who did this deserves to die ; 
and the Iamb he shall restore fourfold." The fourfold restora- 
tion corresponds to the law in Ex. xxi. 37. The culprit himself 
was also to be put to death, because the forcible robbery of a 
poor man's pet-lamb was almost as bad as man-stealing. — Vers. 
7 sqq. The parable was so selected that David could not sus- 
pect that it had reference to him and to his sin. With all the 
greater shock therefore did the words of the prophet, " Thou art 
the man" come upon the king. Just as in the parable the sin 
is traced to its root — namel}! insatiable covetousness-Vso now, in 
the words of Jehovah which follow, and in which me prophet 
charges the king directly with his crime, he brings out again in 
the most unsparing manner this hidden background of all sins, 
for the