Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at sacred-texts.com
1 Kings (1 Samuel) 13:1
The history of the reign of Saul commences with this chapter;
(Note: The connection of Sa1 13:8-11 of this chapter with Sa1 10:8 is adduced in support of the hypothesis that 1 Samuel 13 forms a direct continuation of the account that was broken off in Sa1 10:16. This connection must be admitted; but it by no means follows that in the source from which the books before us were derived, 1 Samuel 13 was directly attached to Sa1 8:16, 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 religious consecration of the approaching campaign. For there is not a word about any such intention in the chapter before us or in Sa1 10:8, nor even the slightest hint at it. Thenius has founded this view of his upon his erroneous interpretation of ירדתּ in Sa1 10:8 as an imperative, as if Samuel intended to command Saul to go to Gilgal immediately after the occurrence of the signs mentioned in Sa1 10:2.: 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. 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 (Sa1 10:16), 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 presence 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 Sa1 8:1-7, which so absolutely demand the incidents that occurred in the meantime as recorded in 1 Samuel 10:17-12:25 even to make them intelligible, that any writing in which Sa1 13:2. following directly upon Sa1 10:16 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 Sa1 10:8 and the proclamation mentioned in Sa1 11:14., which I defended there.)
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 contents of this verse with Sa2 2:10; Sa2 5:4; Kg1 14:21; Kg1 22:42; Kg2 8:26, 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 therefore that every attempt to connect this verse with the one which follows is opposed to the uniform historical usage. Moreover, even if, as a matter of necessity, the second clause of _Sa1 13:1 could be combined with Sa1 13:2 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. בּמלכו שׁאוּל בּן־שׁנה 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 was 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 בּן and שׁנה 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 anonymus in the hexapla, in which we find the reading υἱὸς τριάκοντα ἐτῶν Σαούλ; 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 of 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 evidently a wrong one, and the text therefore equally corrupt; for the rendering "when 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 Sa1 13:2, which shows very clearly that Sa1 13:2 commences a fresh sentence, and is not merely the apodosis to Sa1 13:1. But Saul's reign must have lasted longer than two years, even if, in opposition to all analogies to be found elsewhere, we should understand the two years as merely denoting the length of his reign up to the time of his rejection (1 Samuel 15), 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 Sa1 14:47, with Moab, Ammon, Edom, the kings of Zobah and the Philistines, in the space of two years. Consequently a numeral, say כ, twenty, must also have dropped out before שׁנים שׁתּי (two years); since there are cogent reasons for assuming 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 (pp. 206f.).
(Note: The traditional account that Saul reigned forty years (Act 13:24, and Josephus, Ant. vi. 14, 9) is supposed to have arisen, according to the conjecture of Thenius (on Sa2 2:10), from the fact that his son Ishbosheth was forty years old when he began to reign, and the notion that as he is not mentioned among the sons of Saul in Sa1 14:49, he must have been born after the commencement of Saul's own reign. This conjecture 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.)
1 Kings (1 Samuel) 13:2
The war with the Philistines (1 Samuel 13-14) certainly 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 (Sa1 10:5), 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 army 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 (Sa1 13:2), 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 fighting men of the nation were assembled together. But as no other summoning together of the people has been mentioned before, except to the war upon the Ammonites at Jabesh (Sa1 11:6-7), where all Israel gathered together, and at the close of which Samuel had called the people and their king to Gilgal (Sa1 11:14), 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 sufficiently 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.
Saul posted himself at Michmash and on the mount of Bethel with his two thousand men. Michmash, the present Mukhmas, a village in ruins upon the northern ridge of the Wady Suweinit, according to the Onom. (s. v. Machmas), was only nine Roman miles to the north of Jerusalem, whereas it took Robinson three hours and a half to go from one to the other (Pal. ii. p. 117). Bethel (Beitin; see at Jos 7:2) is to the north-west of this, at a distance of two hours' journey, if you take the road past Deir-Diwan. The mountain (הר) of Bethel cannot be precisely determined. Bethel itself was situated upon very high ground; and the ruins of Beitin are completely surrounded by heights (Rob. 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 Jos 18:28), about an hour and a half form Michmas.
"And Jonathan smote the garrison of the Philistines that was at Geba," probably the military post mentioned in Sa1 10:5, which had been advanced in the meantime as far as Geba. For Geba is not to be confounded with Gibeah, from which it is clearly distinguished in Sa1 13:16 as compared with Sa1 13:15, but is the modern Jeba, between the Wady Suweinit and Wady Fara, to the north-west of Ramah (er-Rm; see at Jos 18:24). "The Philistines heard this. And Saul had the trumpet blown throughout the whole land, and proclamation made: let the Hebrews hear it." לאמר after בּשּׁופר תּקע points out the proclamation that was made after the alarm given by the shophar (see Sa2 20:1; Kg1 1:34, Kg1 1:39, 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 שׁמע (hear), there is often involved the idea of observing, laying to heart that which is heard. If we understand ישׁמעוּ 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 העברים ישׁמעוּ. He proposes this emendation, העברים ישׁמעוּ, "let the Hebrews fall away," according to the Alex. text ἠθετήκασιν οἱ δοῦλοι, without reflecting that the very expression οἱδοῦλοι 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 possession of the whole. Moreover, the correctness of ישׁמעוּ is confirmed by ישׁמעוּ ישׂראל וכל in Sa1 13:4. "All Israel heard," not the call to fall away, but the news, "Saul has smitten a garrison of the Philistines, and Israel has also made itself stinking with the Philistines," i.e., hated in consequence of the bold and successful attack made by Jonathan, which proved that the Israelites would no longer allow themselves to be oppressed by the Philistines. "And the people let themselves be called together after Saul to Gilgal." הצּעק, to permit to summon to war (as in Jdg 7:23-24). 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 Sa1 13:13).
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. Jdg 7:12; Jos 11:4, etc.). רכב by the side of פּרשׁים can only mean war chariots. 30,000 war chariots, however, bear no proportion whatever to 6000 horsemen, not only because the number of war chariots is invariably smaller than that of the horsemen (cf. Sa2 10:18; Kg1 10:26; Ch2 12:3), 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 (אל שׁלשׁת instead of אל שׁלשׁים), 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 ל of the word ישׂראל was written twice, and consequently the second ל was taken for the numeral thirty. This army was encamped "at Michmash, before (i.e., in the front, or on the western side of) Bethaven:" for, according to Jos 7:2, Bethaven was to the east of Michmash; and קדמת when it occurs in geographical accounts, does not "always mean to the east," as Thenius erroneously maintains, but invariably means simply "in front" (see at Gen 2:14).
(Note: Consequently there is no ground whatever for altering the text according to the confused rendering of the lxx, ἐν Μαχμὰς ἐξ ἐναντὶας Βαιθωρὼν κατὰ νότου, for the purpose of substituting for the correct statement in the text a description which would be geographically wrong, viz., to the south-east of Beth-horon, since Michmash was neither to the south nor to the south-east, but to the east of Beth-horon.)
When the Israelites saw that they had come into a strait (צר־לו), for the people were oppressed (by the Philistines), they hid themselves in the caves, thorn-bushes, rocks (i.e., clefts of the rocks), fortresses (צרחים: see at Jdg 9:46), 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, v. 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, pp. 68f., but must be the Gilgal in the valley of the Jordan. This is not only favoured by the expression ירדוּ (the Philistines will come down from Michmash to Gilgal, Sa1 13:12), but also by ויּעל (Samuel went up from Gilgal to Gibeah, Sa1 13:15), 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 (Sa1 13:5); and Saul, after withdrawing from Gilgal, where he had gathered the Israelites together (Sa1 13:4, Sa1 13:8, Sa1 13:12), with Jonathan and the six hundred men who were with him when the muster took place, took up his position at Geba (Sa1 13:15, Sa1 13:16), from which point Jonathan attacked the Philistine post in the pass of Michmash (Sa1 13:23, and Sa1 14:1.): 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 collecting 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 Philistines, since Michmash was situated between Jiljilia and Geba.
1 Kings (1 Samuel) 13:8
Saul's untimely sacrifice. - Sa1 13:8, Sa1 13:9. Saul waited seven days for Samuel's coming, according to the time appointed by Samuel (see at Sa1 10:8), before proceeding to offer the sacrifices through which the help of the Lord was to be secured for the approaching campaign (see Sa1 13:12); and as Samuel did not come, the people began to disperse and leave him. The Kethib וייחל is either the Niphal ויּיּחל, as in Gen 8:12, or Piel וייחל; and the Keri ויּוחל (Hiphil) is unnecessary. The verb יעד may easily be supplied to שׁמוּאל אשׁר from the word למּועד (see Ges. Lehrgeb. p. 851).
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. העולה ויּעל 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 case of the sacrifices offered by David and Solomon (Sa2 24:25; Kg1 3:4; Kg1 8:63).
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 done?" Saul replied, "When I saw that the people were scattered away from me, and thou camest not at the time appointed, and the Philistines were assembled at Michmash, I thought the Philistines will come down 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." יי פּני חלּה: see Exo 32:11.
Samuel replied, "Thou hast acted foolishly, (and) not kept the commandment of Jehovah thy God, which He commanded thee: for now (sc., if thou hadst obeyed His commandment) Jehovah would have established thy sovereignty over Israel for ever; but now (sc., since thou hast acted thus) thy sovereignty shall not continue." The antithesis of הכין עתּה and תקוּם לא ועתּה 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 כּי (for) assigns the reason, and refers to נסכּלתּ ("thou hast done foolishly"), the וגו שׁמרתּ לא being merely added as explanatory. The non-continuance 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 was concerned; but תקוּם לא (shall not continue) forms the antithesis to עד־עולם הכין (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 transgression that Saul was rejected, or declared unworthy of being king over the people of God (1 Samuel 15). 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 own 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 contingent 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 postpone the sacrifice until Samuel arrived, the punishment which the prophet announced that God would inflict upon him in consequence 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 attention upon the earthly circumstances in which he is placed. As Samuel had instructed Saul, as a direct command 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 (Sa1 10:8). 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.
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 sacrifice, 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.
1 Kings (1 Samuel) 13:16
Disarming of Israel by the Philistines. - The following account is no doubt connected with the foregoing, 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 the 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 (Sa1 13:17-23); and then the victory of the Israelites through Jonathan's daring and heroic courage, notwithstanding their utter prostration, is recorded (1 Samuel 14:1-46), for the purpose of showing how the Lord had miraculously helped His people.
(Note: 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 Sa1 13:15 and Sa1 13:16, 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 Sa1 13:15 in the following thoughtless manner: καὶ ἀνέστη Σαμουὴλ καὶ ἀπῆλθεν ἐκ Γαλγάλων· καὶ τὸ κατάλειμμα τοῦ λαοῦ ἀνεβη ὀπίσω Σαοὺλ εἰς ἀπάντησιν ὀπίσω τοῦ λαοῦ τοῦ πολεμιστοῦ· αὐτῶν παραγενομένων ἐκ Γαλγάλων εἰς Γαβαὰ Βενιαμὶν καὶ ἐπεσκέψατο Σαοὺλ, κ.τ.λ. For there is no sense in εἰς ἀπάντησιν ὀπίσω, 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 those 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 from 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 Sa1 14:2? The discrepancy remains even if we adopt Ewald's conjecture (Gesch. iii. 43), that εἰς ἀπάντησιν is a false rendering of לקּרב, "to the conflict." Moreover, even with the Alexandrian filling up, no natural connection is secured between Sa1 13:15 and Sa1 13:16, unless we identify Geba of Benjamin with Gibeah, as the Septuagint and its latest defenders have done, and not only change the participle ישׁבים (Sa1 13:16) into the aorist ἐκάθισαν, but interpolate καὶ ἔκλαιον 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 1 Samuel 14 from Geba and not from Gibeah; and the alteration of the participle into the aorist is just as arbitrary as the interpolation of καὶ ἔκλαιον. 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 repetition of the expression הגּלגּל מן, ἐκ Γαλγάλων, 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 autem Samul et ascendit de Galgalis in Gabaa Benjamin. Et reliqui populi ascenderunt post Saul obviam populo, qui expugnabant eos venientes de Galgala in Gabaa in colle Benjamin. Et recensuit Saul, etc. Jerome has therefore rendered the first two clauses of Sa1 13:15 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 himself rendered הגּלגּל מן de Galgalis.)
The two clauses of this verse are circumstantial clauses: "But Saul, and Jonathan his son, and the people that were with him, were sitting, i.e., tarrying, in Geba of Benjamin (the present Jeba; see at Sa1 13:3); and the Philistines had encamped at Michmash." Just as in Sa1 13:2-4 it is not stated when or why Saul went from Michmash or Geba to Gilgal, but this change in his position is merely hinted at indirectly at the close of Sa1 13:4; 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.
Then the spoiler went out of the camp of the Philistines in three companies. ראשׁים שׁלשׁה is made subject to the verb to define the mode of action (see Ewald, 279, c.); and rashim is used here, as in Sa1 11:11. המּשׁחית, according to the context, is a hostile band that went out to devastate the 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, according to the Onom., Ophrah of Benjamin was five Roman miles to the east of Bethel (see at Jos 18:23). Robinson supposes it to have been on the site of Tayibeh. The land of Shual (fox-land) is unknown; it may possibly have been identical with the land of Saalim (Sa1 9:5). The other company turned on the road to Beth-horon (Beit-ur: see at Jos 10:11), that is to say, towards the west; the third, "the way to the territory that rises above the valley of Zeboim towards the desert." These descriptions are obscure; and the valley of Zeboim altogether unknown. There is a town of this name (צבעים, different from צביים, Deu 29:22; Gen 14:2, Gen 14:8; or צבאים, Hos 11:8, in the vale of Siddim) mentioned in Neh 11:34, which was inhabited by Benjaminites, and was apparently situated in the south-eastern portion of the land of Benjamin, 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 Gibeah and Geba, and force them to fight.
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 Philistines thought the Hebrews might make themselves sword or spear" (אמר followed by פּן, "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 Sa1 13:5, 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 Sa1 13:20, 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 2:4; Mic 4:3, and Joe 3:10, את is an iron instrument used in agriculture; the majority of the ancient versions render it ploughshare. The word מחרשׁתו is striking after the previous מחרשׁתּו (from מחרשׁת); and the meaning of both words is uncertain. According to the etymology, מחרשׁת might denote any kind of edge-tool, even the ploughshare. The second מחרשׁתו is rendered τὸ δρέπανον αὐτοῦ (his sickle) by the lxx, and sarculum by Jerome, a small garden hoe for loosening and weeding the soil. The fact that the word is connected with קרדּם, the axe or hatchet, favours the idea that it signifies a hoe or spade rather than a sickle. Some of the words in Sa1 13:21 are still more obscure. והיתה, 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), פּים הפּצירה, "a blunting of the edges." פּצירה, bluntness, from פּצר, to tear, hence to make blunt, is confirmed by the Arabic futâr, gladius fissuras habens, obtusus ensis, whereas the meaning to hammer, i.e., to sharpen by hammering, cannot be established. The insertion of the article before פּצירה is as striking as the omission of it before פּים; also the stat. abs. instead of the construct פּצירת. These anomalies render it a very probable conjecture that the reading may have been הפּים הפציר (inf. Hiph. nomin.). Accordingly the rendering would be, "so that bluntness of the edges occurred in the edge-tools, and the ploughshares, and the trident, and the axes, and the setting of the goad." קלּשׁון שׁלשׁ is to be regarded as a nom. comp. like our trident, denoting an instrument with three prongs, according to the Chaldee and the Rabbins (see Ges. Thes. p. 1219). דּרבן, stimulus, is probably a pointed instrument generally, since the meaning goad is fully established in the case of דּרבון in Ecc 12:11.
(Note: Sa1 13:21 runs very differently in the lxx, namely, καὶ ἦν ὁ τρυγητὸς ἕτοιμος τοῦ θερίζειν, τὰ δὲ σκεύη ἦν τρεῖς σίκλοι εἰς τὸν ὀδόντα, καὶ τῇ ἀξίνῃ καὶ τῷ δρεπάνῳ ὑτόστασις ἦν ἡ αὐτή; and Thenius and Bttcher propose an emendation of the Hebrew text accordingly, so as to obtain the following 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" (Bttcher). 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 הפציר with הבציר, τρυγητός, and took קלּשׁון שׁלשׁ, which was unintelligible to them, e conjectura for השּׁן שׁק שׁלשׁ, 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 ὀδόντα (ὀδούς), "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.)
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 Sa1 13:11, is apparently at variance with this description of the situation of the Israelites, since the war in question not only presupposes the possession of weapons by the Israelites, but must also have resulted in their capturing a considerable quantity. The discrepancy is very easily removed, however, when we look carefully at all the circumstances. 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 (Sa1 13:3, Sa1 13:5), 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 be 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.
Sa1 13:23 forms the transition to the heroic act of Jonathan described in 1 Samuel 14.: "An outpost of the Philistines went out to the pass of Michmash;" i.e., the Philistines pushed forward a company of soldiers to the pass (מעבר, the crossing place) of Michmash, to prevent an attack being made by the Israelites upon their camp. Between Geba 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 travelling from Jeba to Mukhmas he had to go down a very steep and rugged path into this deep wady (Pal. ii. p. 116). "The way," he says in his Biblical Researches, 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 projecting into the great wady; and the most easterly of these bluffs on each side were probably the outposts of the two garrisons 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."