The Philistines, by R.A.S. Macalister, , at sacred-texts.com
We now turn to the various historical references to the Philistines in the Hebrew Scriptures.
It happens that the Zakkala, with whom the Golénischeff Papyrus is concerned, are not mentioned by name in the received text of the Old Testament. The southern Philistines were more conspicuous in the history of the Hebrews, and this name is in consequence used indifferently for all the tribal subdivisions of the hated enemy. The first appearance of the Philistines on the coast of Southern Palestine is not recorded in the Old Testament, but it may possibly be inferred indirectly. In the oldest monument of Hebrew speech, the Song of Deborah, the tribe of Dan is referred to as a maritime people who 'remained in ships' while their brethren bore the brunt of the invasion of Sisera. Towards the end of the Book of Judges, we find that certain of the tribe of Dan are compelled to seek a home elsewhere, and choose the fertile, well-watered, but hot and fever-haunted Laish, a place remote from everywhere, and where the people were 'quiet'—as they well might be in that malaria-stricken furnace. Why did the Danites leave for this unsatisfactory territory their healthy and rich land by the sea-coast? Probably because they were driven by pressure from without. The migration of the Danites can best be explained by the settlement of the Philistines. And it is suggestive that the first great champion to stand for Israel against the intruders, Samson, belonged to Zorah, whence went forth the Danite spies (Judg. xviii. 2).
The first allusion to the Philistines which we meet with in the Old Testament, that in the genealogical table of the nations in Genesis x, we have already discussed. Next we find a cycle of stories, told with but little variation both of Abraham and of Isaac (Gen. xx, xxi, xxvi), in which those heroes of old are brought into contact with a certain 'Abimelech, king of the Philistines'. In both cases the patriarch, to save himself, conceals his true relationship to his wife, which is revealed to the deceived monarch: in both, the latter displays a singular dignity and righteousness in the delicate position in which his guest's duplicity places him: and in both there is a subsequent dispute about the possession of wells. The stories are in short doublets of one another, and both echo a similar tale told of Abraham in Egypt, at an earlier stage of his career (Gen. xii). Whoever added the inept title to Psalm xxxiv evidently had these stories in his mind when he inadvertently wrote 'a Psalm of David when he changed his behaviour before Abimelech' instead of Achish: an unconscious
reminiscence of the tale might possibly have been suggested by vv. 12, 13 of the Psalm in question.
The use of the word 'Philistine' in these stories has long been recognized as an anachronism. Perhaps with less harshness and equal accuracy we might characterize it as a rather free use of modern names and circumstances in telling an ancient tale. Even now we might find, for example, a popular writer on history saying that this event or that of the Early British period took place 'in Norfolk', although it is obvious that the territory of the North Folk must have received its Saxon name in later times. The tales of Abraham and Isaac were written when the land where their scenes were laid was in truth the Land of the Philistines; and the story-teller was not troubled with the question as to how far back that occupation lasted. Indeed when Abimelech first appears on the scene he is not a Philistine, but the Semitic king of the town of Gerar. The two passages in Gen. xxi, which might be understood 'they returned into [what we call] Philistia' . . . 'Abraham sojourned in [what is now] Philistia', have misled the writer (or copyist) of Gen. xxvi into supposing that Abimelech was actually king of the Philistines. In fact the Greek Version of xxvi. 8 seems to preserve an indication of older readings in which he was simply called, as in the other story, king of Gerar.
Noordtzij (Filist. p. 59) attempts to demonstrate a pre-Ramessu occupation of S. Palestine by the Philistines, principally on the ground that the time between Ramessu III and Samson or Saul is too short for the 'semitizing' process to have taken place. This seems hardly a cogent argument to me: the 'semitization' was by no means complete: the special Semitic rite of circumcision was not adopted: there is no reason to suppose that the language of the Philistines had been abandoned for a Semitic language. And we need have no difficulty in supposing such changes to take place with great rapidity. Thanks to the undermining influence of returned American emigrants, the Irish peasant has shown a change of attitude towards traditional beliefs in fairies and similar beings within the past twenty years as profound as any change that might have taken place between Ramessu III and Saul under the influence of the surrounding Semitic populations.
A similar anachronism meets us in Exodus xiii. 17, enshrining an ancient tradition that the ordinary caravan-route from Egypt by way of the coast was avoided in preference to the long and wearisome march through the desert, in order to keep clear of the Philistines and their military prowess. Likewise in the song preserved in Exodus xv, we find (v. 14) despondency attributed to the dwellers
in Philistia at the news of the crossing of the Red Sea. This song, however, is probably not very ancient.
On the other hand, the writers who have contributed to the Pentateuch in its final form do not all share the indifference to chronological detail shown by the Yahwist story-teller. Often as are the tribes of Canaan enumerated in passages anticipatory of the conquest of the Promised Land, the Philistines are never mentioned: they have no share in the territory of the Hittite, the Girgashite, the Amorite, the Canaanite, and the Jebusite. In view of the prominence of the Philistines in the later history, this is a very significant fact. The solitary exception is so vague that it might almost be said to prove the rule—a reference to the Mediterranean sea by the name of 'the Sea of the Philistines' in Exodus xxxiii. 31. In Joshua xiii. 2, the 'districts' or 'circles' of the Philistines are enumerated among the places not conquered by the leader of the Hebrew immigration—the following verse, to which we shall return later, enumerates the 'districts'. But there is no reference to the Philistines in the parallel account contained in Judges i. There, in verse 19, the 'dwellers in the valley', i.e. in the low coast-land on which the Judahite territory bordered, are depicted as successfully resisting the aggression of the Hebrew tribe with the help of their iron chariots: the previous verse, which contradicts this, and which unhistorically claims that Judah captured the cities Gaza, Ashkelon, and Ekron, must necessarily be an interpolation. 1 In Judges iii. 3 we find an agreement with the passage just cited from Joshua—the five lords of the Philistines, as well as the 'Canaanites' (whatever may be exactly meant by the name in this connexion), the Phoenicians, and the Hi[tt]ites are enumerated as being left unconquered. The curious reason assigned, that this was to practise the Hebrews in war, is at any rate concordant with the old tradition that the terror of the warlike Philistines prevented the Hebrews following the direct route into the Promised Land.
The passages examined so far have rather been concerned with the settlement of the protagonists in the great struggle for the possession of Palestine than with the course of the struggle itself. We are to picture the Hebrew tribes crossing the Jordan from the East, and some little time afterwards the Philistines (and Zakkala) establishing themselves on the rich coast-lands: this much we can see with the aid of the Egyptian records cited in the preceding pages. We now follow the history of the conflict.
At the outset we are confronted by a puzzling group of passages. In the very ancient Song of Deborah, picturing the distracted state
of the country under foreign oppressors, the writer describes how travellers and caravans, from fear, abandoned the main thoroughfares and journeyed along the by-paths, of which the winding valleys of Palestine offer an endless choice. This was in the days of a certain Shamgar son of Anath 1 (Judges v. 6). The name has a foreign appearance 2: a Hittite analogy (Sangar) has been sought for it. We cannot, however, conclude that he was necessarily a foreigner, even though his progenitor is said to be Anath, which happens to be a well-known goddess-name. There is not another case of a Hebrew bearing so frankly idolatrous a name in the Old Testament. But in the Aswân papyri we have a glimpse of what Jewish life was, independent of priestly influences; and these show an extraordinary tolerance of heathen names and practices. We find Hosea son of Peti-Khnum. Names like ‘Athar-ili, Nebonathan, Ben-Tirash occur in the community: the daughter of one Mahseiah swears in a law-court by the goddess Sati. Shamgar son of Anath would have been quite at home in this company.
The antecedent for this reference in Deborah's Song appears to lie in a verse at the end of chapter iii (v. 31), which says that Shamgar son of Anath killed six hundred Philistines with an ox-goad, and saved Israel. It is, however, obvious that this verse is out of place. It interrupts the flow of the narrative: there is no word of Philistine oppression in the context, and the text proceeds 'When Ehud was dead . . .' certain things happened, following on the story of Ehud which the Shamgar passage interrupts. The later development of the history contains no recognition of the labours of Shamgar. There are indeed few passages in literature which are so clearly no part of the original document: and we can hardly doubt that it has been inserted from some other source, or from another part of the book, in order to provide an explanation for the allusion in Deborah's Song.
It is curious that the chief Greek MSS. read Δίναχ instead of 'Anath' here, but not in Deborah's Song. 3 A number of Greek MSS. repeat the verse relating to Shamgar after xvi. 31—i.e. immediately after the story of Samson. This seems a better place for it. 4
The Shamgar story, in short, looks like one of the floating traditions that have more particularly crystallized round Samson and the mighty men of David. A remarkable parallel to the exploit of Shamgar has been found in the deed of 'Shammah the Hararite'—a not dissimilar name—one of David's followers, who in some such rough and ready way defended a field of crops—barley or lentils—from Philistine marauders. 1
But can the story be so summarily dismissed? Grant all the difficulties—that Shamgar's name has a foreign aspect, that the prose account of him is an interpolation, that the Philistines seem to appear too early on the scene; yet the scanty allusion to this obscure champion may after all record a tradition of the beginnings of the great struggle.
For besides Shamgar, Deborah's Song mentions another arresting personality. The very grandeur of the paean throws a romantic halo round the person of the unfortunate Sisera, victim of a crime against the desert law of hospitality difficult to parallel even in the wild annals of Bedawin life. The heartless glee with which the poet triumphs over the chieftain's anxious, watching mother makes the latter for us one of the most pathetic figures in the whole crowded gallery of the Old Testament. Time has brought its revenge for both mother and son.
In the prose version of the combat, Sisera is represented as the general of Jabin, king of Hazor, and the latter is the head of the attack on Israel. But Jabin has an altogether secondary place in the narrative, and Sisera is the central figure. Jabin, indeed, is probably imported into the story from the source that lies at the back of Joshua xi, where there is no mention of Sisera. In Psalm lxxxiii. 9 Sisera is mentioned before Jabin. He has a town of his own, 'Harosheth of the Gentiles,' more than a day's journey from the city of Jabin; and the vignette of his mother surrounded by her court ladies gives us a picture of a more important establishment than that of a mere captain of a host. Sisera in short is an independent king, and the story as we have it is either an account of a single campaign in which two kings were in league, or, more probably, a combination of the narratives of two campaigns wholly independent.
Harosheth is generally identified with the modern Harathiyeh, in the bottle-neck which forms the mouth of the plain of Esdraelon—a region entirely in Philistine hands, at least at the end of Saul's wars. This identification seems fairly trustworthy. Not far off from Harosheth was a village with the name Beth-dagon: and Harosheth itself is distinguished
by the appellation 'of the gōyīm' or foreigners. In Joshua xii. 23 'the king of the gōyīm in Gilgal' is mentioned in noteworthy juxtaposition with Dor, which figures so conspicuously in the report of Wen-Amon; but this passage has been suspected and various emendations suggested, chief of which is to read לגליל for לגלגל and to translate 'king of nations belonging to Galilee'. This is of course reminiscent of the famous 'Galilee of the Gentiles' 1; but on the other hand we may compare גלילות פלשת 'the Galilees of Philistia' in Joshua xiii. 2 and Joel iii. 4 (= Hebrew iv. 4), which in the latter passage is mentioned immediately after the Philistine territory. The word gōyīm is of no more specific meaning than our word 'nations': though usually applied to foreigners, it may even on occasion be applied to the nation of Israel: so it cannot be said to be very conclusive. But one wonders whether in such passages and phrases as these it might not bear the special meaning of the foreigners par excellence, the most outlandish people with whom the Hebrews came into contact—that is to say the Philistines and their cognate tribes, for whom the Greek translators reserve the name ἀλλόφυλοι. In the present case they would more especially be the Zakkala, of whom Wen-Amon tells us, but who are not mentioned by name in the Hebrew writings.
Sisera's enormous host of iron chariots, a possession which, as we saw, also enabled the coast-dwellers of the South to hold their own, is emphasized in the prose account of the battle, as in the speech put by Deborah's Song into his mother's mouth: and it is interesting to notice that we hear again of these iron chariots as being on the plain of Esdraelon (Joshua xvii. 16).
The name of the prince also is suggestive. It is not Semitic: and the numerous Hittite names ending in sira—Khetasira and the like—have been quoted to indicate its possible origin. But we should not forget Badyra, the Zakkala prince of the neighbouring town of Dor. And may it not be asked whether Sisera, סיסרא, could be a reduplicated form derived from the root of סרן seren (the latter being possibly a participle), the one word of the Philistine language which we certainly know—the technical term for the 'lords of the Philistine state? This guess presupposes that the language of the Philistines was Indo-European—an assumption which it has not yet been possible either to prove or disprove. Some possible evidence of reduplication is afforded by such combinations as REREIET and perhaps KRKOKLES in the Praesos inscriptions. It is interesting to note that the name
[paragraph continues] Beneṣasira occurs in the list of Keftian names on the Egyptian tablet described on a previous page.
If Sisera was a Philistine or at least one of cognate race, we have some use for Shamgar and his ox-goad. Otherwise, the latter must be expunged from the list of Judges, if he be not actually numbered among the oppressors, as Moore in his Commentary is inclined to do. The combination ANAIT, which ends one of the Praesos inscriptions just mentioned, has been compared to the name of Shamgar's parent Anath; but there is no probability that such a coincidence between a short inscription on the one hand, and a few proper names on the other, is of any importance.
In Judges x. 6, 7, 11 there is mention of Philistine oppression, in strange and scarcely intelligible connexion with the Amorites. This passage does not help us nearer to the solution of problems. It is in the narrative of Samson that the Philistines first come conspicuously on the scene. It is unnecessary to summarize the familiar incidents: indeed for our purpose these chapters, though of the deepest interest, are disappointing. The narrator is content to tell his tale, without troubling himself about the attendant circumstances which we would so gladly know.
In discussing this remarkable series of episodes it is unnecessary to raise the question of their historicity. 1 Still more irrelevant would be a discussion of the pseudo-scientific hypothesis that Samson (like Achilles, Heracles, Max Müller, Gladstone, and other demonstrated characters of mythology) was a solar myth. It is sufficient for the purpose of our present discussion that the tale gives us an early tradition of the condition of affairs at the time indicated; and as I have said elsewhere, 2 it is probably to be regarded as a prose epic concentrating into the person of a single ideal hero the various incidents of a guerrilla border-warfare.
This being postulated, one or two points of importance strike us in reading the story. The first is, that the Philistine domination was complete, and was passively accepted by the Hebrews. 'The Philistines are rulers over us' say the men of Judah, who propose to betray the champion to his enemies. As is so often the case with a nation of separate clans, even the pressure of a formidable common enemy cannot always heal their mutual jealousies. Ireland, in the face of the Vikings in the ninth century, and of the English in the twelfth, offers
an instructive parallel. Only a chapter or two before the appearance of Samson, we have the distracting episode of Abimelech: a chapter or two later comes the story of the massacre of the Benjamites by the other tribes: and whatever may be the true chronological relationship of these narratives to the historical setting of the Samson epic, they at least indicate that there was a long period of inter-tribal disunion that would make it easy for a well-organized military nation to gain complete domination over the country.
But it was no mere military domination. The Philistines were accompanied by their wives and daughters, and the attractiveness of the latter in the eyes of Samson is a leading motive of his story. On this side of the narrative, however, there is one point to be noticed. There is no reason for branding the Philistines with the stigma of having produced the mercenary traitress Delilah: indeed, whatever indications there may be in her story point in an exactly opposite direction. Had tradition called her a Philistine, like Samson's first wife, the author of Judges would hardly have failed to make it clear. She is described as a woman in the Valley of Sorek; which, if it be the modern Wady es-Surâr, as is generally agreed, was partly in Israelite territory. Moreover, it would scarcely have been necessary for the Philistine lords to have offered the gigantic bribe of 1,100 pieces of silver each, to a woman of their own nation, that she might betray to them the arch-enemy of her race: it would be much more likely that they would use the persuasive argument of threatening her with the fate of her unlucky predecessor. The name appears again as that of a member of the tribe of Judah, in a genealogical fragment in 1 Chronicles iv. 19, preserved by the Greek Version, but lost from the Hebrew textus receptus. It is not too much to say that if the Delilah episode be read carefully, the various steps become more natural and intelligible when we picture the central figure as a tribeswoman of the men of Judah, who in the previous chapter had attempted to anticipate her act of betrayal.
It is noteworthy that nowhere in the Samson story is there any hint that there was a barrier of language between Hebrew and Philistine. Samson and his Philistine friends at Timnah exchange their rough jests without any difficulty; Delilah, whatever her race, converses with equal ease with the Philistine lords and with her Hebrew husband. The same point is to be noticed throughout the subsequent history, with the curious and significant exception of the very last reference to the Philistines in the historical books. Indeed, it has often been observed that the services of an interpreter are but rarely called for in the Old Testament: although it is possible
that such an intermediary was sometimes used without the fact being specifically stated. 1 But probably in ancient as in modern Palestine everybody who had any position at all to maintain could speak several languages. The officers of Hezekiah and Sennacherib, for instance, could understand each the other's tongue, and could pass from one to the other with the enviable ease of a modern Levantine polyglot.
The incident of Samson's hair has often been compared to the purple hair of Nisus, plucked out by Scylla at the instigation of Minos; and to the story of Pterelaos of Taphos and his golden hair given him by Poseidon, which rendered him immortal. Both stories are to be found in that endless mine, the Bibliotheca of Apollodorus. The connexion of Minos with the former story is noteworthy. It has, I believe, been suggested (but I have no note of the reference) that the story of-the virtue inherent in Samson's locks may have been actually received by the Hebrews from Philistine sources. It may be merely a coincidence that the name of Samson's father, Manoah, resembles the name Minos.
Lastly, we notice in the Samson epic that as seen through Hebrew eyes the Philistines had already the three characteristics that marked them out from the other nations round about. The adjective 'uncircumcised', obviously the current term of abuse in all generations, already makes its appearance. Their peculiar government by 'lords' also meets us, but as it happens no particular 'lord' is named, nor does the Samson story give us any idea of their number. Thirdly, in the final scene, we are introduced to the mysterious Dagon, the chief deity of the Philistine pantheon.
For how long the Philistine domination lasted we have no means of knowing. There is no indication of the length of time supposed to elapse between the death of Samson and the appearance on the scene of Samuel. Eli, the priest of the High Place at Shiloh, may or may not have been contemporary with Samson: he appears suddenly on the scene as a man in extreme old age 'who had judged Israel forty years', and vanishes almost immediately.
The next stage of the history shows us the disunited and mutually hostile tribes of Israel gradually welding together under the pressure of their formidable enemy, and slowly but surely, though with more than one serious set-back, reversing the situation.
We begin with the unlucky battle in which for a time the Ark was lost (1 Sam. iv). The topography of the battle is uncertain: the Philistines pitched at a place quite unknown, Aphek, the Israelites
at a spot of equally obscure topography, Eben-ezer, where Samuel afterwards set up a memorial pillar (vii. 12). The Philistines were the victors, and the Israelites attempted to turn the battle by fetching their national palladium from its resting-place in Shiloh. The Philistines were at first stricken with a superstitious fear; but recovering themselves they made a complete slaughter of the Israelites, and captured the Ark itself. Their rallying-cry 'Be strong and be men, that ye be not slaves to the Hebrews as they have been to you' corroborates, from the Philistine side, the evidence that the Philistines were the masters of the Hebrews at the time.
Now begins that strange story of the wanderings of the Ark. It would be natural to lay up the symbol of the deity of a vanquished people in the temple of the chief god of the conquerors: as Mesha laid up his religious trophies before Chemosh, so the Ark was deposited in the temple of Dagon at Ashdod—a temple of which we hear down to the time of the Maccabees (1 Mace. x. 84). But Dagon twice falls prostrate before the Ark, the second time being broken by the fall. At the same time a plague of mice or rats spread over the Philistine plain. There was a very similar plague over the same district in 1904, and enormous damage was done to the growing crops. Indeed, the peasants, whose fields were robbed almost as though by the prophet Joel's locusts, were reduced to tracking out the rat-holes and collecting the grain that the animals had brought down and stored: it was a curious sight to watch the women patiently engaged in this weary work, and gradually filling bags with the precious seed thus recovered. But in the Philistine experience the plague of rats had a yet more serious consequence. Not only did they 'mar the land', but as we now know to be the natural course of events, the parasites of the mice communicated to the people the disease of bubonic plague. 1
The disease broke out first in Ashdod, and was naturally explained as due to the presence of the Ark. They therefore dispatched it to Gath, and of course the bearers carried the plague bacilli with them: again it was sent to Ekron, and again the plague was carried thither;
and as the Philistines, even before they had secured their costly prize, had associated it with outbreaks of pestilence in Egypt (1 Sam. iv. 8), they easily connected it with their own troubles. How they returned it to Beth-Shemesh, and how the bacilli (carried probably by parasites on the kine, or perhaps on the coverings of the Ark) proved to be still virulent to the cost of the villagers who too rashly approached, are tales too well known to need repetition.
It is interesting that the Philistines sent back with the Ark votive models of their twofold plague, which yet was one, as their ancestors had been wont to do when, in search of healing from the ills of human flesh, they visited the Dictaean Cave in the ancient homeland.
The following chapter (vii) apparently represents a different strand of tradition. According to this the Ark was suffered to remain in Kiriath-Jearim no less than twenty years, until, probably, it was brought up to Jerusalem at the beginning of the reign of David. 1 Samuel held a reconciliation service, as it might be called, in which Israel renounced the various strange gods they had adopted. The Philistines came up to plunder this peaceful assembly, but were driven back by an appalling thunderstorm. The people gave chase, and smote the invaders to the unknown place called Beth-Car, to which reference has been made in the previous chapter; and a great memorial stone was set up at or near the spot where the Ark had been captured. We are then told that the Philistines restored certain cities, including Ekron and Gath (or according to the Greek text, Ashkelon and 'Azob', i.e. Gaza or Ashdod), to the Israelites, and that they never again came up to invade Israel.
It is noticeable that the narrator, with all his desire to glorify Samuel, avoids making a purely military leader of him, while emphasizing his religious functions. The victory is ascribed more to the thunderstorm, which is an answer to the 'whole burnt offering' offered by Samuel, than to military skill on the part of the Israelites or of any leader. The writer's patriotic enthusiasm (and perhaps some such record as Judges i. 18) have betrayed him into exaggeration with regard to the 'restoration' of cities that in fact had never been Israelite. But with regard to his conclusion 'that the Philistines never again invaded Israel', it is quite possible to judge him too harshly. If the Philistines were confined to the narrow strip of territory from Joppa southward, the statement would be absurd: but we have now seen that, at the time, the suzerainty of the Philistines
over the whole of Palestine was complete, and that in all probability they actually occupied the Northern coast, the plain of Esdraelon as far as the Jordan, and even penetrated up the fertile valleys that wind through the Judaean mountains. This being so it may well be that the incident here recorded was actually the last case of aggression; but that in all the other cases in which the Philistines 'came up to war' the purpose was defensive, to meet Israelite encroachments on their territory. The passage therefore is not necessarily so 'extravagant' as some critics have made out.
However, there can be little doubt that the desire of the Hebrew people for a king, which now began to express itself, was the natural outcome of the growing sense of unity which under the pressure of the Philistine domination was rapidly developing. A leader was urgently needed who should be free from the specifically religious duties to which Samuel was entirely devoted; it was hoped that one who could thus give his whole attention to military matters might ultimately rid the people of the yoke that daily became more and more intolerable. Authorities differ as to how Samuel was affected by the popular demand. In one version he indignantly condemned it as a revolt against the theocracy of which he himself was at once Emperor and Pope. In another version he raised no objection to the new departure, definitely recognized it as a step towards delivery from the Philistines (1 Sam. ix. 16), chose the king and received him courteously, and declared to him the signs that testified to his election. From this programme we learn incidentally that the Philistines had a sort of mudir or governor at a place called Gibeah of God (probably to be identified with the modern village of Ram Allah about twelve miles north of Jerusalem). 1 This fact underlines, so to speak, what has already been said about the absence of Philistine aggressions after the battle of Beth-Car. With an outpost so far east as the spot indicated, the actual territory of the Philistines included all the places where fighting took place.
Saul assumed the kingdom, and immediately the first Israelite aggression took place: Jonathan slew the Philistine governor of Geba, where, as at Gibeah, there seems to have been a Philistine mudir.
The Philistines, rightly considering this a sign of revolt, came up to quell the insurrection. The Israelites were gathered together with Saul in Michmash, 2 but when they saw the overpowering might of the
[paragraph continues] Philistines swooping down upon then) they hid themselves in the caves with which the country abounds. Saul waited anxiously for Samuel, and at last ventured himself to offer the necessary sacrifices: the denunciation, with which the stern old prophet expressed his resentment at this usurpation of his priestly functions, was apparently the first shock that disturbed Saul's delicately poised mental equilibrium, and paved the way for the insanity by which he was afterwards afflicted.
Jonathan again came to the rescue. With his armour-bearer he showed himself to the Philistines encamped at Michmash. They called to him to 'come up and see something'—note again that difference of language was no bar to intercourse—and the two young men, who had previously agreed to take such an invitation as an omen, climbed up to the camp. In some way they succeeded in throwing the camp into confusion, as Gideon had done with the Midianites. Soon the Philistines broke into a panic, which a timely earthquake intensified, and before long they were in flight, with the armies of Israel in hot pursuit. It is a remarkable story, and still more remarkable is the pendant—the tabu put by Saul on food, which had the natural result of making the victory less complete: the unconscious violation of the tabu by Jonathan: the consequent silence of the Divine oracle: his trial and condemnation: his redemption, no doubt by the substitution of another life: the pouring out of the blood when the tabu came to an end—all these are pictures of ancient religious custom and belief of the highest value.
The familiar story of the battle of Ephes-Dammim, with its central incident—the duel of David and Goliath—is the next scene in the drama. For the present, however, we pass it over: it is involved in a host of difficulties. Whatever view may be taken of the story, as we have it, it is evident that neither the spirit nor the power of the Philistines was broken by the rout at Michmash, but that they were able to meet Israel again soon after David's introduction to the court of Saul. David distinguished himself so as to arouse the jealousy of Saul, now rapidly falling into the morbid mental state that clouded his last days; and to that jealousy was due the exile of David in the wilderness.
With a madman's cunning, Saul at first attempted to work David's destruction by guile: he bribed him with the offer of his daughter's hand to go and bring him proof that he had slain a hundred of the uncircumcised—the trick was not unlike that which in later years David himself played on Uriah the Hittite. David, however, was more fortunate than his own victim, and fulfilled the task imposed on him.
But Saul's jealousy still pursued him, and he became a complete outlaw. His life during this period as narrated consists of a series of episodes, more or less disconnected. On one occasion he goes to the sanctuary at Nob, on the slope of the Mount of Olives (as we learn from Isa. x. 32), and takes the sword of Goliath thence to serve him as a weapon: we are then surprised to find him fleeing with this equipment to Gath, of all places—but probably the two incidents should not follow consecutively. At Gath he is recognized, and to avoid unpleasant consequences feigns insanity. This affliction would in Semitic circles secure him a measure of inviolability—the uncanny manifestations of mental derangement or degeneracy being curiously mixed up with notions of 'holiness'. But Achish, the dignified though simple-minded lord of Gath, was not a Semite, and had no such superstitions. He is almost modern in his protests—'If you see a madman, why do you bring him to me? I want no madmen about me, and I will not have him in my house!' 1 We almost hear an echo of the sarcasms of Zakar-Baal.
All through the story of David's outlawry raids of the Philistines run like a thread: and it must then, if never before, have been impressed upon him that when he came into his kingdom his first care must be to crush these troublesome neighbours finally and for ever. Now we read of his band saving the threshing-floors of Keilah from Philistine marauders: soon afterwards a Philistine raid breaks off negotiations between Saul and the men of Ziph for the betrayal of David.
But at last David, in despair of ever effecting a reconcilement with the insane Hebrew king, threw in his lot with the Philistines. Once more he comes to Gath—or, rather, we have probably a second version of the one incident, omitting the essential detail of the feigned madness. Here he was safe from Saul: but he did not stay very long. Probably (as in the previous version of the story) he found Gath uncomfortable as a place of residence, with his record of Philistine slaughter. So in Oriental wise he dissembled, and, flattering the king by pretending to be unworthy of living in the same city with him, he persuaded him to purchase his vassalage by putting Ziklag at his disposal. From this centre he raided various Bedawin camps, and, presenting the booty to his new master, he pretended that he
had been attacking his own people. Thereby he gained the confidence of Achish, and no doubt acquired much serviceable information about Philistine military methods and resources.
Meanwhile the tragedy of Saul was working to its close. The Philistines were preparing for a final blow that would wipe off their recent reverses. Achish wished David, whom he blindly trusted, to accompany him as leader of his body-guard; but in this his wiser colleagues overruled him. They had already learnt, in the battle of Michmash, that the Hebrews that were with the Philistines’ were not to be trusted when the battle went against their masters (1 Sam. xiv. 21). So Achish sent David away, with a dignified courtesy which contrasts pleasingly with the duplicity, not to say treachery, of his protégé. 1 David accordingly departed to his own quarters, and while the battle of Gilboa was being won and lost he was kept busy in avenging the raid which during his absence the Bedawin had very naturally made on Ziklag.
The armour of the dead Saul was hung in the house of Ashtoreth, and his body was fastened on the wall of Beth-Shan, the modern Beisan—a place close to the banks of the Jordan. This further corroborates the conclusion already indicated as to the wide extension of Philistine territory. For they would hardly have put the trophy where they could not reasonably have expected to retain it. 2
For the seven years of David's reign in Hebron the Philistines gave him no trouble. No doubt he continued to acknowledge himself as vassal of Achish, or of the Philistine oligarchy at large. Meanwhile Ish-baal (Ish-bosheth), Saul's son, guided and directed by Abner, set up a kingdom across Jordan, with its centre at Mahanaim: and the land of Ephraim remained subject to the Philistines. In the last two years of Ish-baal's life he extended his kingdom, doubtless under Philistine suzerainty, to Ephraim as well: an arrangement terminated by the defection of Abner to David and by his own assassination. This event left the way open for David to enlarge his borders, and to unite under his single sway the discordant elements of Judah and Ephraim. The ever-vigilant foes, not being willing to tolerate so
large an increase in the strength of a subordinate, then came up against him. 1
Three battles, disastrous to the Philistines, are recorded as taking place early in David's reign over the united kingdoms. But the accounts of them are scanty and confused, and require careful examination. The following are the outline accounts of them which the author of the Book of Samuel transmits:
A. The Battle of Baal-Perazim.
And when the Philistines heard that they had anointed David king over Israel, all the Philistines went up to seek David; and David heard of it, and went down to the hold. 2 Now the Philistines had come and spread themselves in the valley of Rephaim. And David inquired of Yahweh, saying, Shall I go up against the Philistines? Wilt thou deliver them into mine hand? And Yahweh said unto David, Go up: for I will certainly deliver the Philistines into thine hand. And David cane to Baal-Perazim, and David smote them there; and he said, Yahweh hath broken mine enemies before me, like the breach of waters. Therefore he called the name of that place Baal-Perazim. And they left their images there, and David and his men took them away.'—2 Samuel v. 17-21.
B. The Battle of Geba.
'And the Philistines came up yet again, and spread themselves in the valley of Rephaim. And when David inquired of Yahweh, he said, Thou shalt not go up: make a circuit behind them, and come upon them over against the balsams. And it shall be, when thou hearest the sound of marching in the tops of the balsams, that then thou shalt bestir thyself: for then is Yahweh gone out before thee to smite the host of the Philistines. And David did so, as Yahweh commanded him; and smote the Philistines from Geba until thou come to Gezer.'—2 Samuel v. 22–25.
C. The Battle of ( ?)
'And after this it came to pass, that David smote the Philistines, and subdued them: and David took ( ) out of the hand of the Philistines.'—2 Sam. viii. 1.
These outlines may to some small extent be filled in from other sources. The priestly writer of Chronicles is careful to add to the account of the first battle that the idols of the Philistines, captured after the rout, were burnt with fire (1 Chron. xiv. 8–12). The site of Baal-Perazim is unknown. It seems to be mentioned again in Isaiah xxviii. 21, in connexion with Gibeon: perhaps this passage refers to the first two battles. In the account of the second battle the Chronicler likewise substitutes Gibeon for Geba (1 Chron. xiv. 13–16): while in the third, instead of an unintelligible expression in the version of Samuel, he has 'David took Gath and her towns out of the hand of the Philistines' (xviii. 1).
Among these battles must probably be fitted some scraps of biography that now find a place much later both in Samuel and in Chronicles. They are confused and corrupt, but are to the effect that at certain specified places, certain Philistine champions were slain by certain of the mighty men of David.
The first is the familiar tale of David and Goliath, which we passed over a while ago, and which cannot be dissociated from these fragments. David is sent by his father to the battle-field of Ephes-Dammim, to bring supplies to his elder brothers. His indignation is roused by a gigantic Philistine champion named Goliath of Gath, who challenges the Israelites to provide one who shall fight with him and decide the battle by single combat. The champion is minutely described: he was somewhere between nine and eleven feet high, with a helmet, a coat of mail weighing 5,000 shekels, greaves and a javelin, all of bronze, as well as an iron-pointed spear like a weaver's beam. How David, though a youth unable to wear armour, goes against the giant, exchanges taunting speeches with him, and brings him down with his sling, are tales too familiar to rehearse (1 Sam. xvii).
The difficulties of the passage are many. The inconsistency of David, already (ch. xvi. 21) the armour-bearer of Saul, being now totally unknown to him, has been a crux to the harmonists of all generations: though this difficulty is evaded by an important group of the Greek MSS., which omit bodily verses xvii. 12–31, 55–xviii. 5—that is, everything inconsistent with David's being already at court and known to Saul. The omitted verses are probably fragments of another parallel narrative. But even then we are not quite free from troubles. The whole machinery of the ordeal by duel recalls incidents of the Trojan war, or the tale of the Horatii and Curiatii, rather than what we are accustomed to look for in Semitic warfare; David's improbable flight to Gath soon after the battle has already been commented upon; and, as will presently be seen, we possess another account of the battle of
[paragraph continues] Ephes-Dammim, which is quite inconsistent with the Goliath story, and, indeed, leaves no room for it.
The second fragmentary narration is unfortunately found in Samuel only (2 Sam. xxi. 15–17). It reads 'And the Philistines had war again with Israel; and David went down, and his servants with him, and fought against the Philistines: and David waxed faint. And (a champion) which was of the sons of Rapha, the weight of whose spear was 300 (shekels) of bronze in weight, he being girded with a new [word lost], thought to have slain David. But Abishai the son of Zeruiah succoured him and smote the Philistine and killed him. Then the men of David sware unto him, saying, "Thou shalt go no more out with us to battle, that thou quench not the lamp of Israel."'
The rendering 'a champion' is suggested for the unintelligible ישבו בנב, treated as a proper name 'Ishbi-benob' in the English version. As it stands it means 'and they dwelt in Nob', which clearly makes no sense; and the emendation that is most current—by the change of one letter, turning Nob to Gob, and moving the phrase so as to follow 'and his servants with him' in the previous sentence—is not altogether satisfactory. For 'Gob' itself is probably, as we shall see, corrupt; and it is hard to see how the sentence could have been transposed from a place where it makes passable sense to a place where it makes complete nonsense. The reading here suggested is איש-הבנים, literally 'man of the betweens', apparently a technical term for a champion, which is actually applied to Goliath in 1 Samuel xvii. Though differing in detail, and transmitted in a garbled form, the general resemblance of the description of the equipment of this warrior to that of Goliath is too striking to be overlooked; and we are thus led to wonder whether this may not be a version of the Goliath story in which the issue of the duel was very nearly the reverse of that in the familiar narrative. One is also tempted to ask whether in the 'oath' of the men of David (for which compare 2 Sam. xviii. 3) we are to see an explanation of David's having stayed in Jerusalem while Joab was acting for the king in his operations against the Ammonites, with the disastrous consequence of the episode of Bath-Sheba. If this oath is to be literally understood, this incident of the champion slain by David's nephew must belong to the end of David's operations against the Philistines, all of which seem to have been directed by the king in person.
The third fragment appears in both 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles. The Samuel version says 'And it came to pass after this, that there was again war with the Philistines at Gob: then Sibbecai the Hushathite slew Saph, which was of the sons of Rapha. And there was again war with the Philistines at Gob; and Elhanan the son of Jaare-oregim
the Beth-lehemite slew Goliath the Gittite, the staff of whose spear was like a weaver's beam' (2 Sam. xxi. 18, 19).
In the parallel account (1 Chron. xx. 4), Gezer is substituted for Gob, Sippai for Saph, Jair for Jaare-oregim, and 'slew Lahmi the brother of Goliath 'for the Beth-lehemite slew Goliath'.
With regard to the first of these divergencies, it should be noticed that the place-name 'Gob' is not mentioned elsewhere. Following Clermont-Ganneau I was formerly inclined to accept Gezer as the correct reading—the change would be easy, גזר for גזב—but I now see two formidable difficulties. In the first place, it is not likely that the well-known place-name Gezer would be corrupted to a name utterly unknown: in the second, the name 'Gob' is written גבֹ in both places, without the mater lectionis which the emendation suggested requires. Noting that in the text in Samuel the name 'Gob' is in both places followed by a word beginning with the letter ע, I would now suggest that a second ע has dropped out in both places, and that for Gob we are to read גבע, Geba. 1 The advantage of this correction is, that it would make both the Samuel and Chronicles versions right, and would show us where to fit the fragment under discussion. For we can scarcely avoid connecting an incident, said in one version to take place at Geba, and in another version at Gezer, with a battle which is definitely stated to have begun in one of these two places and finished in the other. The deaths of Saph and of Goliath therefore took place in the second of the three battles enumerated above (p. 53).
The other divergencies need not detain us so long. The question of the spelling of the champion's name is scarcely important: yet it is tempting to inquire whether the form in Chronicles, ספי, is not to be preferred, and, further, whether it may not be that it actually finds an echo to this day in the commonplace Arabic name Tell eṣ-Ṣāfi, commonly rendered 'The clear mound', 2 whereby the most probable site of ancient Gath is now known. Jair for Jaare-oregim is certainly right, the latter half of the name as given by Samuel being a dittography of the word 'weaver's beam' in the next line; on the other hand, the Chronicler's evolution of Goliath's brother Lahmi out of the name of Jair's native place is obviously some scribe's attempt to get rid of an evident harmonistic difficulty.
The fourth fragment follows the last in both places. 'And there was again war at Gath, where was a man of great stature, that had on
every hand six fingers, and on every foot six toes, four and twenty in number; and he also was born to Rapha. And when he defied Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimei David's brother slew him. These four were born to Rapha in Gath; and they fell by the hand of David, and by the hand of his servants.' The Chronicler's version is substantially identical.
Let us now try to dovetail these seemingly incoherent fragments into a consistent narrative. Nearly all of them will be found to hang together with a logical connexion between them. We begin with the story of Jesse sending David as a youth to his brothers, and their surly reception of him, in some campaign. This story, though, as we have seen, it almost makes nonsense of the place where it is found, is so graphic and circumstantial that it cannot lightly be thrown aside. It is not improbable, however, that it was by his musical rather than his military ability that he attracted attention on this occasion, and was brought to the notice of Saul and Jonathan (1 Sam. xvi. 14–18, xviii. 1). At first he was received kindly, and made Saul's armour-bearer.
Then came the battle of Ephes-Dammim, the full account of which is lost. But by combining 2 Samuel xxiii. 9 with 1 Chronicles xi. 13, two mutilated but complementary passages, we can gain some idea of what happened. The Philistines came up to battle at Ephes-Dammim; the men of Israel fled; but David, aided by Eleazer the son of Dodo the Ahohite (whatever that may mean), held them 'in the valley between Shocoh and Azekah' and fought till their hands clave to their swords. They succeeded in turning the victory, and the people came back 'only to spoil'. Well might the maidens, after such an exhibition of valour, sing that 'Saul had slain thousands but David had slain myriads'. The folk-tale of a giant-killing shepherd-boy, coloured by some actual incident of David's later campaigns, has been substituted for the less picturesque story of the battle: a relic of the excised part may possibly be seen in the verse inserted after 1 Samuel xix. 7: 'And there was war again: and David went out, and fought with the Philistines, and slew them with a great slaughter; and they fled before him.' And when the tribes of Israel came to David to make him king, they remind him that even in Saul's lifetime it was he who used to lead them out to war (2 Sam. v. 2).
The triumph-song of the women roused the jealousy of Saul, and he drove David into exile. The other tales of Philistine routs, which meet us in the lists of David's mighty men, appear to relate to the time of the outlawry. Shammah's defence of the lentil-field, to which reference has already been made, was of the same order as the repulse of the raid on the threshing-floor of Keilah: the breaking through the
[paragraph continues] Philistine camp at Rephaim by the three heroes, in quest of the Bethlehem water, is definitely assigned to the Adullam period. Finally David took service in Gath, and became thoroughly acquainted with that important city.
When the kingdoms of Judah and Israel were united, the Philistines came to break up his power; and three engagements were fought, all disastrous to the hereditary enemies of the Hebrews. The first was the battle of Baal-Perazim, of which we have no particulars save the picture of a hurried flight in which even the idols were left behind. The second, that of Geba, is more interesting. The incident of the oracle of the sacred trees is one of the many noteworthy landmarks in Old Testament religion. The topography of the battle seems at first sight difficult to follow: but it works out easily when one knows the configuration of the ground. The valley or plain of Rephaim is usually equated with the broad expanse that lies south-west of Jerusalem. Geba was some four miles to the north of the city. What must have happened was, that David's men circled behind the Philistine camp, under cover, probably, of the hills to the west of the plain (now crowned by the Greek Patriarch's summer residence Kat’êmôn); that is, down the picturesque valley in which stands the Convent of the Cross. Then crossing into the Wady el-Werd by the site of the modern village of Malhah, 1 they attacked the Philistines on the rear. Finding their retreat (down the present Wady el-Werd and its western continuation, the Wady es-Surar) cut off; the Philistines fled northward, past Jerusalem, as far as the village of Geba, and then rushed down the valley of Aijalon, which opens out on the coast-plain not far from Gezer. Some time in this battle or the subsequent rout Sibbecai (or Mebunni) slew Saph, and Elhanan slew Goliath.
Contrary to most modern commentators I assume that this raid of the Philistines took place after (or perhaps during, which is not improbable) David's successful siege of Jerusalem. If David was still in Hebron at the time, I cannot conceive what the Philistines were doing in the valley of Rephaim. 'They would have come up one of the more southerly valleys to attack him.
Lastly took place the final and decisive victory which crushed for ever the Philistine suzerainty. The union at last effected among the tribes of Israel gave them a strength they had never had before; yet it is hard to understand the complete collapse of the people who had been all-powerful but a few years previously. W. Max Müller
attempts to account for it 1 by an unrecorded attack of the Egyptian king, whereby he possessed himself of the Philistine coastland: arguing that in a list of Sheshonk's conquests in his campaign
Click to enlarge
Fig. 2. Sketch-map to illustrate the Battle of Geba.
recorded in 1 Kings xiv. 25 no Philistine city is mentioned, for the simple reason that they must have been already in Egyptian hands. On this theory also he accounts for the capture of Gezer (an extension of the Egyptian territory) recorded in 1 Kings ix. 16.
The site of the last battle is successfully concealed under a hopeless corruption of the text. We are told in Samuel that David took Metheg ha-ammah out of the hand of the Philistines: a phrase that means 'bridle of the cubit' or 'of the metropolis', but defies convincing explanation or emendation. The old versions all presuppose an identical or similar text: Chronicles has 'Gath and her suburbs', which is probably a guess at a reading which should be at least intelligible. It cannot be right, for we find Gath still independent under its king Achish at the beginning of Solomon's reign (1 Kings ii. 39). 1 This, however, does not forbid our supposing the decisive battle to have taken place at or near Gath: a very likely place for David to attack, as he was no doubt familiar with its fortifications. There certainly appears to have been a battle at Gath where the unnamed polydactylous champion defied Israel and was slain by a nephew of David. Perhaps he was one and the same with the Gittite champion whom the English version calls Ishbi-benob, and from whom David, when hard pressed, was rescued likewise by one of his nephews. In this incident, on the theory here put forward, is the historical basis of the David and Goliath story. In this case 2 Samuel xxi. 22 ('these four were born to "the giant" in Gath') would be an editorial note.
Before leaving this record of the champions of the Philistines which we have thus endeavoured to put into order, we must notice that, strictly speaking, they are not to be classed as Philistines at all. The expression 'son of Rapha', translated 'giant' in the English version, implies rather that the family were of the remnant of the Rephaites or Anakim, the tall aboriginal race which the Israelites on their coming found established in Hebron and neighbouring villages, Gath, Gaza, and Ashdod. According to Joshua xi. 21 they were driven out utterly from the Hebron district, but a remnant was left in the Philistine towns, where no doubt they mingled with the western newcomers. The tall stature attributed to these 'champions'—a physical feature never ascribed in the history to the Philistines themselves 2—
fits in with this theory of the origin of the family. By Delilah and Goliath the Philistine nation is judged: but there is no proof that there was a drop of Philistine blood in either the one or the other.
The commentators agree that the ancient psalm incorporated in Psalm lx. (8–12) and cviii. (7–10) can be as old as David. If so, it may well have been a paean of the victory over the Philistines and the other neighbouring nations.
That the Philistine power was utterly broken is shown by the significant fact that in the distractions which vexed the later years of David—the revolt of Absalom and of Sheba—they made no effort to recover their lost ground. Quite the contrary: we are surprised to find David's body-guard consisting of 'Cherethites and Pelethites', Cretans and Phili(s)tines: a Gittite called Obed-Edom houses the ark when the ill-omened incident of Uzza had interrupted the first attempt to bring it to Jerusalem: and another Gittite, Ittai by name, was one of the few people who remained faithful to David when Absalom had stolen the hearts of his followers. So their ancient kinsmen the Shardanu appear, now as enemies, now as loyal mercenaries of Egypt. And in the later history, except a few halfhearted attempts like that in the time of Jehoram, the Philistines took no decisive advantage of the internal dissensions between Judah and Israel, or of their many struggles with the Syrians and other foreign foes. From the time of David their power, and indeed their very individuality, dwindle away with a rapidity difficult to parallel. The contrast between the pre-Davidic and the post-Davidic Philistines is one of the most extraordinary in human history.
But in Palestine the Philistines were, after all, foreigners: they had come from their healthy maritime life to the fever-haunted and sirocco-blasted land of Canaan. The climate of that country guards it for its Semitic heirs, and Philistine and Crusader alike must submit to the laws of human limitations.
The Philistine body-guard above referred to was perhaps organized during David's stay in Ziklag. In the later history some traces of the organization seem to survive. The 'Carites', as they are now significantly called, help Jehoiada to put down the usurping queen Athaliah. In Ezekiel (xliv. 7 sqq.) there is a prophecy against
certain uncircumcised foreigners who are introduced, apparently in some official capacity, into the Temple: and in Zephaniah i. 8, 9 'those that are clothed with foreign apparel' and 'those that leap over the threshold' in the 'day of the Lord's sacrifice' are denounced. Though suggestive, neither of these passages is as clear as we should like: the possibility of there being some connexion between the threshold rite in Zephaniah and the analogous rite in the Temple of Ashdod (1 Sam. v. 5) has often been noticed. It is an interesting possibility—we cannot say more—that there actually was a Philistine body-guard round the king and his court at Jerusalem, and that the Temple itself, built as we shall see after a Philistine model, was protected by Philistine janissaries. This might explain the unexpected reappearance of the heathenish name of Sisera among the Nethinim or Temple servitors recorded in Ezra ii. 53, Nehemiah vii. 55.
40:1 See Moore's Commentary, p. 37.
41:1 The additional note of time, 'In the days of Jael', is generally rejected as a gloss.
41:2 See Moore's Judges, pp. 142, 143, and Journal of American Oriental Society, xix b, p. 159.
41:3 The name Shamgar is given as Σαμεγαρ, Σαμαγαρ, Σεμεγαρ, Σεμαγαρ, Αμεγαθ, Σαμεγαθ, Μαιγαρ, Εμεγαρ. His father's name in Judges iii is given as Διναχ, Δειναχ, Αναθ, Εναχ, Αιμαθ, Λιναθ; in Judges v as Αναθ, Κεναθ, Εναθ, Εναθαμ, Ανεθεμ.
41:4 The verse as repeated says that 'Semegar (or Emegar) son of Anan (Ainan, Enan) arose after Samson, and slew of the Foreigners, 600 men without the cattle, and he also saved Israel'. Note the transformation of the ox-goad.
42:1 2 Sam. xxiii. 11; 1 Chron. xi. 13.
43:1 Isa. ix. 1 (= Hebrew viii. 23).
44:1 For a study (from a conservative standpoint) of the historicity of the Samson narrative see Samson, eine Untersuchung des historischen Charakters von Richt. xiii–xvi, von Dr. Edmund Kalt, Freiburg i. Br., 1912. This brochure contains a very useful bibliography.
44:2 A History of Civilization in Palestine, p. 54.
46:1 Thus, it is only by a foot-note, as it were, that we learn that Joseph employed an interpreter in conversing with his brethren.
47:1 Some commentators (e. g. H. P. Smith in the International Critical Commentary), while recognizing that the disease was plague, have missed the essential significance of the mice, and would remove them altogether as 'late redactional insertion'. Although in the Hebrew received text, as reproduced in the English Bible, the 'mice' come in awkwardly as though a sudden afterthought, the Greek Version makes them much more prominent throughout the narrative; and there is no possible reason why any redactor (unless he had divined some of the most recent discoveries in bacteriology) should have introduced mice into the story at all. The distorted version of the plague which destroyed Sennacherib's army, recorded in Herodotus ii. 141, also introduces mice very conspicuously.
48:1 The data for the chronology of Saul's reign are notoriously insufficient. Note that Eli's great-grandson was priest in Shiloh at the time of the battle of Michmash (1 Sam. xiv. 3).
49:1 In the English version (1 Sam. x. 5) the word נציב, which in 1 Kings iv. 19 and elsewhere means 'a prefect or officer', is translated, probably wrongly, 'camp'.
49:2 There are some difficulties of interpretation and other critical complications in the passage, on which see the standard commentators.
51:1 The notion of a commentator, that Achish's protest was due to his being already troubled with insanity in his family, deserves a place in the same cabinet of curiosities with the speculations of the ancient blockhead who supposed that when Our Lord wrote with His finger on the ground (John viii. 6) He was making a catalogue of the secret sins of the bystanders!
52:1 No doubt there was a certain element of policy in Achish's hospitality: David being the known rival of the Hebrew king, it probably seemed desirable to foment the division between them. Winckler (Gesch. Isr., p. 224) says (ex cathedra!) 'Was über Davids Aufenthalt an seinem Hofe gesagt wird, ist Fabel'. This sort of negative credulity is just as bad science as the positive credulity which swallows whole all the fancies of historical myth-makers.
52:2 Unless, indeed, we are to identify this Beth-Shan with the unknown 'Shen', mentioned in the corrupt passage 1 Sam. vii. 12.
53:1 For a discussion of the obscure period of the dual reign of David and Ish-baal, with special reference to the problem of the reconcilement of David's seven and a half years with Ish-bosheth's two years, see the important article by Kamphausen, Philister and Hebräer zur Zeit Davids, in Zeitsch. f. d. alttest. Wissensch. (1886, vi, p. 44.
53:2 Hardly Adullam, as some commentators have supposed. Did the Adullam life continue after David was anointed king on Hebron?
56:1 The Greek and Peshitta versions read Gath.
56:2 But really meaning, if anything, 'The mound of the clear one.' 'The clear mound' would be Et-tell eṣ-Ṣāfa.
58:1 They must in this case have passed close by some ancient tumuli, which stand west of Malhah: possibly the sacred balsam-trees were associated with these.
59:1 Asien and Europa, pp. 389, 390.
60:1 It is possible that David showed kindness to Achish, in return for the kindness he had received from him, and allowed him to continue in his kingdom under vassalage. But this is perhaps hardly probable: and evidently the runaway servants of Shimei thought that they would be out of their master's reach in Gath, so that that town was most likely quite independent of Jerusalem.
60:2 I may quote from The Excavation of Gezer, vol. i, p. 64, the descriptions of the only bones that have yet been found in Palestine which can be called 'Philistine' with reasonable probability. They 'are comparable with the types of ancient Cretan bones described by Duckworth and Hawes, and with Cretan bones in the Cambridge Museum. They represent a people of fairly tall stature (the man in grave 3 was 5´ 10″, that in grave 3 was 6´ 3½″). They were probably about or under 40 years of age. In all the femora were not pilastered and the tibiae not platycnemic. p. 61 The skulls were ellipsoidal, mesaticephalic, orthognathous, megaseme (with wide orbits), mesorrhine (with moderately wide nose), and microdont. The female skull in grave 4 was a little wider in proportion, and though the teeth were moderately small, the incisors projected forward, though not enough to make the face prognathous. The lower teeth were also very oblique.'